Literally helpless, 2

FOUR-SQUARE JANE by Edgar Wallace is an anthology book of short-stories starring the titular character, “a small, lithe, black-haired woman in her early twenties”. Jane is a Robin Hood-esque burgleress whose speciality is stealing jewelry from rich egocentrics, turning the precious stones in to the police and donating the finder’s fee to local hospitals.

In this excerpt from JANE IN CUSTODY (1919), Jane appears as the handcuffed captive of some policemen; but her captivity is just a ploy to gain access to Lord Claythorpe’s locked library and the priceless valuables stored therein.

FOUR-SQUARE JANE is free from Project Gutenberg.


He tossed down a stiff whisky and soda, and, accompanied by his host, went into the hall where he was helped on with his coat. He was on the point of saying “Good night,” when there was a thunderous knock at the front door, and the butler opened it. Two men stood on the doorstep gripping between them a frail and slender figure.

“It’s all right, sir,” said one, with a note of exultation, “we’ve got her! Can we come in?”

“Got her?” gasped his lordship, “who is it?” And yet there was no need for him to ask. The prisoner was a girl dressed from head to foot in black. A heavy veil covered her face, being secured apparently under the tightly fitting little felt hat on her head.

“Caught her under your library window,” said one of the men with satisfaction, and there was a grunt from Johnson the private detective.

“Who are you?” asked his lordship.

“Sergeant Felton, from Scotland Yard, sir. Are you Lord Claythorpe?”

“Yes,” said his lordship.

“We’ve been watching the house,” said the man, “and we saw her dodging down the side passage which leads to your stables. Now then, young woman, let’s have a look at your face.”

“No, no, no,” said the girl struggling, “there are reasons. The Chief Commissioner knows the reason.”

Her captor hesitated and looked at his companion.

“I think we’d better get the superintendent in charge of the case before we go any further, my lord,” he said.

He took a pair of handcuffs from his pocket. “Hold out your hands,” he said, and snapped the glittering bracelets on her wrists.

“Have you got a strong room, my lord, where I can keep her till the superintendent comes?”

“In my library,” said his lordship.

“Has it got a good door?”

Lord Claythorpe smiled.

He himself unlocked the library door and switched on the lights, and the girl was pushed into the room and on to a chair. The detective took a strap from his pocket and secured her ankles together.

“I’m not taking any risks with you, my lady,” he said. “I don’t know who you are, but I shall know in a very short time. Now I want to telephone. Have you a telephone here?”

“There is one in the hall.”

The detective looked at the girl, and scratched his chin.

“I don’t like leaving her alone, Robinson. You had better stay with her. Remember, you’re not to take your eyes off her, see?”

They went out together, his lordship closing and locking the door behind them, whilst the man went in search of a telephone number.

“By the way, you can hear my man if he shouts, can’t you?” he asked.

“No,” said his lordship promptly. “You can hear nothing through that door. But surely your man is capable of looking after a girl?”

Lewinstein, a silent spectator of these happenings, smiled. He had no illusions as to the resources of that girl, and was anxious to see the end of this adventure. In the meantime, behind the locked doors of the library the girl held out her hands and the “detective” with her unlocked the handcuffs. She bent and loosened the strap, then moved quickly to the wall where the ten safes were embedded…

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