A Millionaire of Yesterday - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

A Millionaire of Yesterday ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

The novel tells about the struggle of a young man for wealth in colonial Africa and about his search for happiness in this country. Although he is trying to do everything right and honest, he is prevented by many opponents who bring only a great calamity. But despite all the difficulties, the story ends with a happy end.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS
czytnikach certyfikowanych
przez Legimi
czytnikach Kindle™
(dla wybranych pakietów)
Windows
10
Windows
Phone

Liczba stron: 370

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostepny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacjach Legimi na:

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER XXXII

CHAPTER XXXIII

CHAPTER XXXIV

CHAPTER XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER XXXVII

CHAPTER XXXVIII

CHAPTER XXXIX

CHAPTER XL

CHAPTER XLI

CHAPTER XLII

CHAPTER I

“Filth,” grunted Trent–“ugh! I tell you what it is, my venerable friend–I have seen some dirty cabins in the west of Ireland and some vile holes in East London. I’ve been in some places which I can’t think of even now without feeling sick. I’m not a particular chap, wasn’t brought up to it–no, nor squeamish either, but this is a bit thicker than anything I’ve ever knocked up against. If Francis doesn’t hurry we’ll have to chuck it! We shall never stand it out, Monty!”

The older man, gaunt, blear-eyed, ragged, turned over on his side. His appearance was little short of repulsive. His voice when he spoke was, curiously enough, the voice of a gentleman, thick and a trifle rough though it sounded.

“My young friend,” he said, “I agree with you–in effect–most heartily. The place is filthy, the surroundings are repulsive, not to add degrading. The society is–er–not congenial–I allude of course to our hosts–and the attentions of these unwashed, and I am afraid I must say unclothed, ladies of dusky complexion is to say the least of it embarrassing.”

“Dusky complexion!” Trent interrupted scornfully, “they’re coal black!”

Monty nodded his head with solemn emphasis. “I will go so far as to admit that you are right,” he acknowledged. “They are as black as sin! But, my friend Trent, I want you to consider this: If the nature of our surroundings is offensive to you, think what it must be to me. I may, I presume, between ourselves, allude to you as one of the people. Refinement and luxury have never come in your way, far less have they become indispensable to you. You were, I believe, educated at a Board School, I was at Eton. Afterwards you were apprenticed to a harness-maker, I–but no matter! Let us summarise the situation.”

“If that means cutting it short, for Heaven’s sake do so,” Trent grumbled. “You’ll talk yourself into a fever if you don’t mind. Let’s know what you’re driving at.”

“Talking,” the elder man remarked with a slight shrug of his shoulders, “will never have a prejudicial effect upon my health. To men of your–pardon me–scanty education the expression of ideas in speech is doubtless a labour. To me, on the other hand, it is at once a pleasure and a relief. What I was about to observe is this: I belong by birth to what are called, I believe, the classes, you to the masses. I have inherited instincts which have been refined and cultivated, perhaps over-cultivated by breeding and associations–you are troubled with nothing of the sort. Therefore if these surroundings, this discomfort, not to mention the appalling overtures of our lady friends, are distressing to you, why, consider how much more so they must be to me!”

Trent smiled very faintly, but he said nothing. He was sitting cross-legged with his back against one of the poles which supported the open hut, with his eyes fixed upon the cloud of mist hanging over a distant swamp. A great yellow moon had stolen over the low range of stony hills–the mist was curling away in little wreaths of gold. Trent was watching it, but if you had asked him he would have told you that he was wondering when the alligators came out to feed, and how near the village they ventured. Looking at his hard, square face and keen, black eyes no one would surely have credited him with any less material thoughts.

“Furthermore,” the man whom Trent had addressed as Monty continued, “there arises the question of danger and physical suitability to the situation. Contrast our two cases, my dear young friend. I am twenty-five years older than you, I have a weak heart, a ridiculous muscle, and the stamina of a rabbit. My fighting days are over. I can shoot straight, but shooting would only serve us here until our cartridges were gone–when the rush came a child could knock me over. You, on the contrary, have the constitution of an ox, the muscles of a bull, and the wind of an ostrich. You are, if you will pardon my saying so, a magnificent specimen of the animal man. In the event of trouble you would not hesitate to admit that your chances of escape would be at least double mine.” Trent lit a match under pretence of lighting his pipe–in reality because only a few feet away he had seen a pair of bright eyes gleaming at them through a low shrub. A little native boy scuttled away–as black as night, woolly-headed, and shiny; he had crept up unknown to look with fearful eyes upon the wonderful white strangers. Trent threw a lump of earth at him and laughed as he dodged it.

“Well, go ahead, Monty,” he said. “Let’s hear what you’re driving at. What a gab you’ve got to be sure!”

Monty waved his hand–a magnificent and silencing gesture.

“I have alluded to these matters,” he continued, “merely in order to show you that the greater share of danger and discomfort in this expedition falls to my lot. Having reminded you of this, Trent, I refer to the concluding sentence of your last speech. The words indicated, as I understood them, some doubt of our ability to see this thing through.”

He paused, peering over to where Trent was sitting with grim, immovable face, listening with little show of interest. He drew a long, deep breath and moved over nearer to the doorway. His manner was suddenly changed.

“Scarlett Trent,” he cried, “Scarlett Trent, listen to me! You are young and I am old! To you this may be one adventure amongst many–it is my last. I’ve craved for such a chance as this ever since I set foot in this cursed land. It’s come late enough, too late almost for me, but I’m going through with it while there’s breath in my body. Swear to me now that you will not back out! Do you hear, Trent? Swear!”

Trent looked curiously at his companion, vastly interested in this sudden outburst, in the firmness of his tone and the tightening of the weak mouth. After all, then, the old chap had some grit in him. To Trent, who had known him for years as a broken-down hanger-on of the settlement at Buckomari, a drunkard, gambler, a creature to all appearance hopelessly gone under, this look and this almost passionate appeal were like a revelation. He stretched out his great hand and patted his companion on the back–a proceeding which obviously caused him much discomfort.

“Bravo, old cockie!” he said. “Didn’t imagine you’d got the grit. You know I’m not the chap to be let down easy. We’ll go through with it, then, and take all chances! It’s my game right along. Every copper I’ve got went to pay the bearers here and to buy the kickshaws and rum for old What’s-his-name, and I’m not anxious to start again as a pauper. We’ll stay here till we get our concessions, or till they bury us, then! It’s a go!”

Monty–no one at Buckomari had ever known of any other name for him–stretched out a long hand, with delicate tapering fingers, and let it rest for a moment gingerly in the thick, brown palm of his companion. Then he glanced stealthily over his shoulder and his eyes gleamed.

“I think, if you will allow me, Trent, I will just moisten my lips–no more–with some of that excellent brandy.”

Trent caught his arm and held it firmly.

“No, you don’t,” he said, shaking his head. “That’s the last bottle, and we’ve got the journey back. We’ll keep that, in case of fever.”

A struggle went on in the face of the man whose hot breath fell upon Trent’s cheek. It was the usual thing–the disappointment of the baffled drunkard–a little more terrible in his case perhaps because of the remnants of refinement still to be traced in his well-shaped features. His weak eyes for once were eloquent, but with the eloquence of cupidity and unwholesome craving, his lean cheeks twitched and his hands shook.

“Just a drop, Trent!” he pleaded. “I’m not feeling well, indeed I’m not! The odours here are so foul. A liqueur-glassful will do me all the good in the world.”

“You won’t get it, Monty, so it’s no use whining,” Trent said bluntly. “I’ve given way to you too much already. Buck up, man! We’re on the threshold of fortune and we need all our wits about us.”

“Of fortune–fortune!” Monty’s head dropped upon his chest, his nostrils dilated, he seemed to fall into a state of stupor. Trent watched him half curiously, half contemptuously.

“You’re terribly keen on money-making for an old ‘un,” he remarked, after a somewhat lengthy pause. “What do you want to do with it?”

“To do with it!” The old man raised his head. “To do with it!” The gleam of reawakened desire lit up his face. He sat for a moment thinking. Then he laughed softly.

“I will tell you, Master Scarlett Trent,” he said, “I will tell you why I crave for wealth. You are a young and an ignorant man. Amongst other things you do not know what money will buy. You have your coarse pleasures I do not doubt, which seem sweet to you! Beyond them–what? A tasteless and barbaric display, a vulgar generosity, an ignorant and purposeless prodigality. Bah! How different it is with those who know! There are many things, my young friend, which I learned in my younger days, and amongst them was the knowledge of how to spend money. How to spend it, you understand! It is an art, believe me! I mastered it, and, until the end came, it was magnificent. In London and Paris to-day to have wealth and to know how to spend it is to be the equal of princes! The salons of the beautiful fly open before you, great men will clamour for your friendship, all the sweetest triumphs which love and sport can offer are yours. You stalk amongst a world of pygmies a veritable giant, the adored of women, the envied of men! You may be old–it matters not; ugly–you will be fooled into reckoning yourself an Adonis. Nobility is great, art is great, genius is great, but the key to the pleasure storehouse of the world is a key of gold–of gold!”

He broke off with a little gasp. He held his throat and looked imploringly towards the bottle. Trent shook his head stonily. There was something pitiful in the man’s talk, in that odd mixture of bitter cynicism and passionate earnestness, but there was also something fascinating. As regards the brandy, however, Trent was adamant.

“Not a drop,” he declared. “What a fool you are to want it, Monty! You’re a wreck already. You want to pull through, don’t you? Leave the filthy stuff alone. You’ll not live a month to enjoy your coin if we get it!”

“Live!” Monty straightened himself out. A tremor went through all his frame.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.