Wax (British Mystery Classic)
In a small English town of Riverpool several people were found dead in a wax museum, and a rookie journalist, Sonia Thompson, decides to solve the mystery of this notorious place. She goes to spend the night between scary wax figures and while the night slowly unfolds, the horrifying events start to occur. Frightening figures of murderers and lunatics slowly come to life.
Ethel Lina White (1876-1944) was a British crime writer, best known for her novel The Wheel Spins, on which the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes, was based.
Wax (British Mystery Classic)
CHAPTER III. THE ALDERMAN GOES HOME
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Sonia had barely returned to her hotel when she saw a ghost.
The Golden Lion was an old coaching inn, and, although large and rambling, had been modernised only to a limited extent. Instead of a lounge, there was an entrance hall, with uneven oaken floor, which led directly to the private bar.
Sonia sank down on the first deep leather chair, and was opening her cigarette case, when she recognised, a few yards away, the spectre of the Waxworks.
He had not materialised too well. In the dim gallery, he had been a tall romantic figure. Here, he was revealed as a typical Club man, with a hard, clean-shaven face and black varnished hair. It is true that his profile had the classical outline of a head on an old coin; but it was a depreciated currency.
"Who is that?" she whispered, as the waiter came forward with a lighted match.
"Sir Julian Gough," was the low reply.
"Of course. Isn't his wife tall, with very fair hair?"
"No, miss." The waiter's voice sank lower. "That would be Mrs. Nile. The doctor's wife. That's the doctor-the tall gentleman with the white scarf."
Sonia forgot her exhaustion as she studied the communal life of the bar. Dr. Nile was a big middle-aged man, with rather a worried face and a charming voice. Sonia decided that, probably, he was not clever, but scored over rival brains by his bedside manner.
"I wonder if he knows what I've seen to-night," she thought.
On the surface, the men did not appear to be hostile. They exchanged casual remarks, and seemed chiefly interested in the contents of their glasses. Sonia decided that it was a dull drinking scene, as she listened sleepily to the burr of voices and the clink of glasses. The air was hazed with skeins of floating smoke and it was very warm.
She was beginning to nod over her cigarette, when she was aroused by a shout of laughter. A big burly man, accompanied by two ladies, had just rolled into the bar. Although he was not in the least like Henry the Eighth, she recognised Alderman Cuttle by Mrs. Ames' description. He was florid and ginger, with a deep organ voice and a boisterous laugh.
"Well, ma. How's my old sweetheart tonight?" he roared, as he kissed the stout elderly proprietress on the cheek.
"Not leaving home for you," she replied, pushing him away with a laugh. "Brought the beauty chorus along?"
"Just these two girls, ma. Miss Yates has been working late and can do with a gin and it. And Nurse Davis works all the time. Eh, nurse?"
As he spoke he winked at the nurse. She was a mature girl of about forty-five, plump, with a heart-shaped face and a small mouth, curved like a bow. She wore very becoming uniform.
As for the other "girl," Miss Yates, Sonia could not imagine her meagre painted cheeks with a youthful bloom. She looked hard, ruthless and artificial. Her sharp light eyes were accentuated by green shading powder, and her nails were enamelled ox-blood. Her best points were her light red hair and her wand-like figure.
She wore what is vaguely described as a "Continental Mode" of black and white, which would not have been out of place in Bond Street.
As she watched her thin-lipped scarlet mouth, and listened to her peacock scream laugh, Sonia remembered the stupid shapeless wife at home.
"Poor Mrs. Cuttle," she thought. "That woman's cruel and greedy as Mother Ganges."
With the alderman's entrance, fresh life flowed into the stagnant bar. There was no doubt that the man possessed that indefinite quality known as personality. His remarks were ordinary, but his geniality was unforced. He seemed to revel in noise, much in the spirit of a boy with a firework.
His popularity, too, was amazing. The women clustered round him like bees on a sunflower; but the men, also, plainly regarded him as a good s