John Creasey

The Toff at the Fair

Hodder & Stoughton 1954
Wrapper artist Jarvis

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A small young man with ginger hair flicked a sixpence into a palm of quite remarkable size. The corns and callouses on it were of little moment. The broad finger-tips, known to the erudite as spatulate, did not cause a second glance; the ingrained dirt of weeks—it could have been of months—meant nothing. The size of the hand was e very-thing, because it was at the end of a short arm and a narrow wrist and was attached to a small man. " Roll up, roll up," roared the owner of the hand, " watch the 'eads roll! One . . ." He paused as the ginger-haired man, wooden ball in hand, drew his arm back. ..." Two . . . three! . . . Blimey, leave a bit o* the canvas, mister." The ball smacked into the canvas backing and dropped to the grass. The second followed suit. The third struck a coconut but did not dislodge it. " Bad luck, mister, like to try again? . . . Roll up, me lucky lads, don't forget the dusky damsel who's going to pop up—you, sir ?" He beamed at a slim young man. " Don't be afraid, show the lady that yer aim's as straight as yer 'cart! . . . Only a tanner for three loverly coconuts—'ere I" The last was almost a screech of indignation.

Classic Crime Fiction

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