Meet Educated Evans and ‘The Miller’ in the shady side of London between the World Wars
Edgar Wallace was a prolific author of crime, adventure and humorous stories, whose best known creations include The Four Just Men, Sanders of the River, and J. G. Reeder. Although Wallace wrote many ‘stand alone’ novels it is, perhaps, for his series based material—always popular with readers—that he remains best known. Leonaur has collected many of these series into good-value omnibus editions. The Educated Evans stories combine Wallace’s talent for humour with his hallmark detective story themes. The eponymous principal character is a London racing tipster. Garrulous and delightfully ignorant of most of the subjects about which he professes to have knowledge, Evans provides the comic foil for the towering figure of ‘The Miller,’ a formidable police detective named for his perpetual habit of chewing upon a length of straw. Together the pair form an uneasy partnership as they undertake various adventures in the worlds of racing and petty criminality. Educated Evans actually found his way to the cinema screen portrayed by the popular British comedian Max Miller.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket; our hardbacks are cloth bound and feature gold foil lettering on their spines and fabric head and tail bands.
She nibbled the end of her glove, frowning. “Do you know any other horse that’s going to win today?” she asked.
“Brass Nail is a stone certainty,” he said. “The common people will back Blue Nose. An’ in the last race High Up can’t be beat. I got him from a servant girl who’s got a sister who walks out with the head lad.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said Mrs. Tarbet. “Just wait here.”
She hurried into the ring and came back with a smile of triumph.
“I said I’d put fifty pounds into your business. Well, I’ve put it on your horse! We’ll see what happens. I’ve got ten to one with my friend Mr. Izzy Friedman.”
Evans looked at her wildly.
“What do you want to waste money like that for?” he blurted.
“Waste?” Mrs. Tarbet’s eyebrows went up.
“Well, not exactly waste,” said the palpitating Evans. “But putting all that money on. . . it ain’t much, but it might do a bit of advertising.”
“Don’t let us discuss it,” she said coldly.
He followed her, a miserable man, back to the ring. His misery was not long-lived. Brass Nail made all the running and won by a neck.
“Well, perhaps you’re right after all,” he beamed. “ Five hundred and fifty—you can do a lot with five hundred and fifty.”
“Ye-es,” said Mrs. Tarbet thoughtfully. “ Tell me that bit about High Up again.”
“You’re not going to back another horse?” said Evans, in alarm. “With five hundred and fifty we could do some advertising. . . .”
She made an impatient noise.
“Don’t let us talk business, please, Mr. Evans,” she said, and he was crushed to silence.
Just before the last race, she found him leaning miserably over the rails of the saddling ring.
“I’ve just seen a friend of mine, and he says that High Up hasn’t got any chance at all.”
“I don’t care nothing about what he says,” said the wretched Evans. “If you’re going to back horses, back ’em! If you’re going to tip horses, tip ’em! You can’t mix it. I’ve tried. What I say is this: put two hundred pounds into advertisin’, put two hundred pounds into a office; put a hundred into expenses, keep fifty for yourself. . . . .”
But he was addressing the air. Mrs. Tarbet was making her rapid way back to Tattersall’s.
He roused himself sufficiently to stroll into the ring, climb to the top of the littered stand, and watch a race which had no more interest for him than the golden dome of the stewards’ stand. He didn’t even know the colours of High Up, and until he saw the number in the frame and consulted his card, he was not aware that High Up had won. And then, with a wildly beating heart, he dashed down into the ring.
“What price was that?” he asked, almost incoherently.
“Four to one,” somebody told him, and he flew through Tattersall’s into the paddock, searching vainly for his inamorata.
She was standing talking to a number of obese friends when he flew up to her, his face beaming.
“You was right after all, Lucy,” he said.
She transfixed him with an icy stare: obviously she was in a very bad temper.
“Mrs. Tarbet, if you please,” she snapped. “Please go away. I don’t want to hear any more about your beastly horses. If you don’t go, I’ll call a policeman!”
Evans reeled back, pallid of face, as these words fell from the fresh red lips of the User of men. He tried to speak, but she silenced him with a gesture, and dejectedly he slouched across the paddock, his hands in his pockets, the picture of misery.
He was wandering towards the open horse gate, and as he was half-way between the unsaddling ring and the gate, the horses were coming in. And between the jockeys on the first two there was something like unpleasantness. Evans heard. . .
“. . . you bored me out from the rails, you dirty dog. . . . Of course I’m going to object. . . .”
An objection! Evans was electrified. This fat vampire had friends in the ring. At the word “Objection!” she would fly to one of her bookmaking pals and save her money. Hell hath no fury like a turf prophet scorned. He would be avenged on this woman. Instantly, as the idea took shape, he turned and raced across the paddock. Mrs. Tarbet was still talking to one of her friends, and at the sight of the dishevelled Evans her face clouded.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Tarbet, for one minute. I’ve something very important to say to you,” he begged urgently. “It’s not about business, it’s about somethin’ that’s goin’ to happen next week. . .”
Excuse me,” she said frigidly to her friend, and consented to walk with Evans out of earshot.
What wild story he told her, he never remembered. It was evidently something fascinating, for she listened open-mouthed, her attention so concentrated that she never heard the cry of “Objection!”
There was no need for her to go into the ring. She had arranged for her money to be sent to her by cheque.
After about five minutes. . . .
“I don’t know what on earth you’re talking about, Evans,” she said raucously. “You’re simply wasting my time with a lot of nonsense about a horse that’ll run on Wednesday. I don’t want any of your tips, and I don’t want any more to do with you. You’re simply coming after my money, and I can’t stand spongers.”
Evans could swallow the insult and smile. He must keep her engaged in conversation so that there was no possibility of her saving her money. The red flag was flying but this Mrs. Tarbet did not notice. And then a blessed word reached him. Somebody shouted “Sustained!” and the faint sound of it came to his ears. At that moment Evans was magnificent.
“Thank you very kindly for your attention, Mrs. Tarbet, and I can only say, in conclusion, that, having done in your stuff, we’ll cry quits.”
“What do you mean—‘done in my stuff,’ you guttersnipe?” she asked angrily.
“Your horse is disqualified,” he hissed. “Rat’s Tail has got the race on an objection!”
“High Up disqualified!” she shrieked. “My Gawd! I backed Rat’s Tail!