The Toff on Fire

The Toff on Fire by John Creasey

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Authors: John Creasey
Tags: Crime
that for two months I was in hospital, and for six weeks, convalescing?”
    â€œI tried to, sir,” Jolly said, “but—well, the man known as the Doc was very active, sir, and you weren’t at hand. The rumour spread that you were not ill or injured but—that the Doc had frightened you away.”
    â€œWell, they’ll soon have a chance to see how scared I am,” Rollison said. “All the same, tell Ebbutt what to do.”
    â€œVery good, sir,” Jolly said.
    Rollison went out, bleakly, telling himself that only one thing mattered.
    That child was at the mercy of men who would kill without compunction, and there was just one lead that might take him to the child.
    Maggie Jeffson.

Chapter Ten
Maggie Jeffson
    Maggie Jeffson turned away from the telephone and moved to the window of her apartment in the Lancing Hotel. It was a small hotel, but luxurious; and the apartment had everything she could want.
    So did she, if appearances told the truth.
    She stood by the window, looking out into the street. If she raised her head, she could just see Birdcage Walk and part of the Mall, the deep autumn colouring of the plane trees lining the Mall, and the buildings in the distance, including the walls and roofs of St. James’s Palace. She was young; probably in her early thirties. She wore a dark green dress with tiny golden spots on it, and with a neckline which must be nearly a record plunge. The astounding thing about her was her tiny waist, so unbelievably small that when men espied her for the first time, they usually gaped. Then, when they had studied her figure closely if surreptitiously, they wondered whether the small waist was real or illusory; whether it was not the magnificence of her bosom and hips which made the waist look small.
    She had auburn hair, cut in loose curls, and the perfect complexion, except for a hint of freckles, which red-haired and green-eyed women often have.
    An Austin saloon turned into the street from the direction of Birdcage Walk.
    She turned swiftly, and went back to the telephone.
    â€œMary,” she said when she was answered, “Mr. Brown will be here in a minute or two. As soon as he comes, send him straight up, and then arrange for the car to be driven to the garage, will you?”
    â€œYes, miss,” Mary said.
    Maggie Jeffson rang off, and turned back to the window.
    Her movements were easy and natural, and had a natural voluptuousness that had to be seen to be believed. Had she been trying to attract the attention of a dozen millionaires, all competing for her favours, she could not have moved with greater seductiveness; and it wasn’t put on, it was natural.
    She stretched across a chair and took cigarettes from a small table, lit one, and let the smoke trickle out of her mouth. She had full lips, well-shaped but not excessively made-up; in fact she was hardly made-up at all. Then, a telephone bell rang.
    This was not one of the hotel extensions, but a line to the Westminster exchange. She moved across the lovely room, with its greens and golds, its velvets and brocades, and lifted the receiver from the cradle which matched the green of the table on which it stood. “This is Maggie,” she said. A man asked, abruptly: “Heard from him yet?”
    â€œHe’s on his way,” she answered carefully.
    â€œWith it?”
    â€œSo they did it,” the man said, and tension seemed to fade out of his voice. “I was beginning to wonder if Rollison lived under a lucky star. You know what to do next.”
    â€œI know,” said Maggie.
    â€œDon’t let any harm come to it,” the man said, and a new harshness sounded in his voice, “I don’t want it dead, yet.”
    â€œI’ll look after it,” promised Maggie, “but what about—”
    The man cut across her words. “What about what?”
    â€œWe—we haven’t heard from

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