A Queen of the Stage - Fred M. White - ebook

A Queen of the Stage ebook

Fred M White

0,0

Opis

The story of A Queen of the Stage about a lonely woman Elsie Wayne, who is alone in London. She gets a fake theater role. The stranger throws her a note. It reads: „Be brave and patient. If your friend does not let you down, be today under the portico of the Regency Theater. „

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 352

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

Chapter I. Cruel Fortune

Chapter II. Alone In London

Chapter III. The Toy Of Circumstance

Chapter IV. The Dead Face

Chapter V. A Family Skeleton

Chapter VI. The Wrong House

Chapter VII. Danger!

Chapter VIII. The Danger Deepens

Chapter IX. A Welcome Interruption

Chapter X. An Unexpected Visitor

Chapter XI. The Ice Maiden

Chapter XII. The Black Poodle

Chapter XIII. To The Slums Post Haste

Chapter XIV. A King's Ransom

Chapter XV. The Police Raid

Chapter XVI. The Peril Deepens

Chapter XVII. Still In Darkness

Chapter XVIII. Shadowed

Chapter XIX. Clearing The Way

Chapter XX. A Question Of Pedigree

Chapter XXI. A Newspaper Paragraph

Chapter XXII. A Lapse Of Memory

Chapter XXIII. In Hiding

Chapter XXIV. The Watch Is Found

Chapter XXV. Handcuffed

Chapter XXVI. Ford's Wife

Chapter XXVII. Weiss's Return

Chapter XXVIII. The First Diary

Chapter XXIX. More Leaves From The Diary

Chapter XXX. The Diary Continued

Chapter XXXI. The Black Pocket-Book

Chapter XXXII. The End Of The Diary

Chapter XXXIII. The Trail Broadens

Chapter XXXIV. A Good Reason Why

Chapter XXXV. Ford To The Rescue

Chapter XXXVI. Bearding The Bully

Chapter XXXVII. The Missing Witness

Chapter XXXVIII. Driving It Home

Chapter XXXIX. Close Quarters

Chapter XL. Confession

Chapter XLI. A Clear Sky

I. CRUEL FORTUNE

Timidly, almost appealingly, a girl with pathetic blue eyes looked at a man opposite to her. They were a striking contrast; the girl so young and fair and innocent of the world, the man wearing an assumption of benevolence which was belied by the furtiveness of his eyes, and the sensual lips. Smooth were his words; but anybody who knew the world would have mistrusted Roger Carney instinctively. As to the rest, he was a theatrical agent in very poor repute, though Elsie Vane was ignorant of that when she wrote to him from the country in reply to a plausible advertisement. He spread out his hands and affected a look of sympathy.

“My dear young lady,” he said. “I trust you will see that I am not to blame. As I wrote to you, I had succeeded in obtaining for you a part in a first-rate touring company. Judge of my surprise when I found that the manager was nothing but a barefaced swindler. These things will happen, you know, in the profession.”

“Then you have nothing to offer me?” Elsie asked, with a sinking heart. “I expected to start at once. I am absolutely alone in London, and after paying my railway fare this morning have only a shilling left. If you will be so good as to return the money I paid to you in fees––”

Roger Carney smiled sadly. Many a poor girl knew that smile to her cost. He looked round the scantily-furnished office, and sighed in a manner that was quite pathetic.

“I am very sorry,” he said, “but every penny of the money you sent me was expended in finding this opening for you. Up to now I have made nothing out of you at all. I am not of a greedy or grasping disposition, and did not expect to be recompensed until you had entered upon your engagement. There are a lot of low-class agents who live on their preliminary fees, but that has never been my method. Yours is simply a case of sheer misfortune––”

“We need not discuss that,” Elsie said. Her courage was coming back, and she began to have more than a vague suspicion that she was dealing with a swindler. “When I wrote to you I explained my circumstances. I told you I was an orphan, without friends or money. You promised me a definite engagement on the stage at a fair salary, and on the strength of that promise I realised every penny I had and sent it to you. At the present moment one shilling lies between me and starvation, and I only know one man in London who is likely to help me. I must ask you to return the money you obtained from me.”

The blue eyes were no longer pathetic and pleading, but bright with the light of resolution. Gradually Mr. Carney dropped his benevolent aspect. The thick sensual lips grew hard, and the watery eyes obstinate. He stood up in a threatening attitude.

“None of that,” he said hoarsely. “Don’t come here trying to bully me. I have done all I can for you, and it is no fault of mine that the show went bankrupt, so just take yourself off. You girls are all alike.”

He pointed towards the door, but Elsie did not move. The last few moments had been a revelation to her. She no longer doubted that she had placed every penny of her worldly wealth in the hands of a common swindler. Dismal as the future was, she had no intention of leaving the office until she had wrung something from this pitiful rascal. What was she to do, where was she to go in this cruel city, where she was known to none? Well might she shrink from the contemplation of the days to come. But innocent as she was of the ways of the world, coming as she did from a quiet country home, she lacked neither courage or resolution. The hour was at hand when she would need both.

“You have robbed me,” she said quietly, but firmly; “I see exactly how it is. You obtained no engagement for me, you never even tried to. You live on the ignorance and vanity of poor girls like me. If I went to the police I daresay you would produce some other villain who would swear you had obtained a post for me with his assistance. Oh, there are many ways of getting the best of one like me.”

Carney grinned uncomfortably, quite by accident Elsie had guessed one of the common swindles pursued by the shady crew who make their money out of stage-struck men and women.

“You had better be off,” he said. “You gain nothing by staying here. Little as you deserve any consideration––”

Whatever Carney would have added was cut short by the sudden opening of the office door and the appearance of a shock-headed youth, who seemed to be in a state of considerable agitation.

“Clear out!” he cried excitedly. “They’re after you. They’re coming up the stairs.”

The door closed again, and the shock-headed youth vanished. The change on the appearance of Mr. Carney was ludicrous. His great fat face quivered in jelly-like fashion, and his eyes were filled with terror. He glanced helplessly at the door and shook his head, as if giving up all hope of escape in that direction. The ‘offices’ of Carney and Company consisted of the shabby room in which the interview was taking place, so that there was no avenue of escape by means of a second apartment.

Carney appealed piteously to Elsie.

“Well, if this isn’t cruel luck,” he protested. “One day more and I should have been safe, and it isn’t altogether for myself either. I have treated you badly, and I don’t mind admitting it, but if you will help me now you won’t find me ungrateful in the future. They’re after me––”

“I suppose you mean the police,” Elsie said coldly.

“That’s it. Never mind what for, and me with a fortune in my grasp! It is too cruel, but there is just a chance that if I hide beneath my desk nobody can see me, unless you give me away. You are a good, kind-hearted girl, I know. I can tell that from your face. Don’t say anything.”

Steps were fast approaching, and Carney had only time to slip behind the imposing-looking desk and bestow his bulky figure under the well. The whole thing had been so swift and unexpected that Elsie had no time to think. In the space of a few minutes all her pleasant dreams of a brilliant stage future had been dissipated. In the last few moments she had found herself face to face with poverty, and now she was calmly asked to shield the mean scoundrel who had brought it all about from the stern grip of the law. All these things passed through her mind in a flash, between the moment that Carney had concealed himself and the opening of the office door. An alert-looking man walked in and gazed about him. Probably he was re-assured by Elsie’s appearance, for he asked her politely if Mr. Carney was anywhere about the premises.

“I am waiting for him,” Elsie said coldly.

It was perhaps a quixotic thing to do, especially for a miserable creature like Carney; but the words were spoken, and, strange as it may seem, Elsie did not regret them. Outwardly she was cool, but her heart was beating fast and painfully. She tried to think she had told no lie, but she was grateful all the same when the intruder turned to a second man standing in the doorway, and muttered that the bird had flown. Then there was an echo of retreating footsteps, and Carney crept from the shelter of the desk, his pasty face a ghastly green.

“You did that uncommonly well,” he gasped. “No doubt about it, you’ve the makings of a fine actress. That chap was completely taken in by your innocent face and pathetic blue eyes.”

“How dare you speak to me like that?” Elsie cried, quivering with anger. “Why did I do it? Why did I humiliate myself for a scoundrel like you? Perhaps it was because my dear father always taught me that even the most abandoned wretch was an object of pity. I ought to have told the truth, I ought to have let the police take you. It would, at any rate, have been the means of preventing other poor girls from being placed in the desperate position in which I stand at present. Why are such men allowed to live?”

The burning words poured from Elsie’s lips in a passionate stream. She had forgotten herself and her surroundings. To all intents and purposes the dingy offices ceased to exist. Surprised by a timid touch on her arm, she turned and saw another girl in the room. She was a slight, pretty creature, dainty and refined-looking, though her whole aspect was spoilt by the tawdry and cheap smartness of her attire.

“What were you saying to my father?” the girl asked.

“My daughter Dora,” Carney stammered. “This, my dear, is Miss Elsie Vane, a lady who has been so unfortunate as to take an engagement through me in the ‘Long Arm’ Company.”

“You need not go into that,” Elsie said coldly. She looked at the girl with a smile on her face. “I do not know whether you are aware of your father’s methods––”

“Oh yes, yes,” the girl cried. “I heard all you said. Please do not humiliate me by going over it again. Father, this young lady must have her money back.”

“I haven’t got it,” Carney protested. “On my word of honor as a gentleman, I haven’t ten shillings in the blessed world. And that rascal Perks has put the police on my track. If he had waited until to-morrow I could have paid him every penny I owed him, and a handsome commission for himself besides. You must get me out of this, Dora. Get me out of the way till it is safe to show my face again.”

“But what about Miss Vane?” the girl asked. “Have you no consideration for her? Oh, my dear young lady, if you only knew what I suffered when I heard how you have been treated, but there is no time to be lost. I came to warn my father and bring him some disguise, trusting to luck that the police would not know who I am.”

With a sigh of relief Carney grabbed eagerly at the bag which his daughter was carrying. Possibly he was not unacquainted with the stage himself, for a few moments’ working with the contents of the bag sufficed to transform him altogether. He was no longer a tall, clean-shaven being, but had a thick crop of brown hair and a neatly-trimmed moustache and beard. A pair of spectacles and a clerical band and coat and vest converted him to a middle-aged parson of benevolent aspect. His whole manner seemed to change with his disguise, so that even Elsie could not but admire his make-up.

“I think that will do,” Carney said complacently as he surveyed himself in a hand mirror. “You had better step out and see that the coast is clear.”

“That is all very well,” Elsie said, “but what is to become of me? You have forgotten that you owe me some gratitude for the part I played.”

“You were a good girl,” Carney said huskily, “and I won’t forget you. But I can’t spare a sou. I don’t know if Dora could find you a bed––”

“No, no,” Elsie cried hastily. “I could not think of intruding in this fashion. Perhaps the one friend I know in London may help me.”

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.