Cock O’ the North - Talbot Mundy - ebook

Cock O’ the North ebook

Talbot Mundy

0,0

Opis

Madame Rosika Storey was one of the most celebrated fictional female private investigators during the Golden Age of the mystery (1920-40). This collection of six stories featuring the woman private detective, glamorous Madame Storey – psychologist and detective! From missing persons to ghastly murder (often in the same case) Madame Storey and her faithful secretary Bella take on the criminal underworld of 1930s New York in these thrilling mysteries. But many of Mme. Storey’s attitudes are surprisingly modern, and she’s always on the side of justice, as is narrator Bella, who, however, is nowhere near as intrepid as her beautiful, intelligent and intuitive boss.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 463

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

CHAPTER I "It's a poor world but the only one we have, Gup."

CHAPTER II. "Huzoor, no money under heaven could buy that horse."

CHAPTER III. "Anybody know anything about McLeod?"

CHAPTER IV. "Is this the Redhead?"

CHAPTER V. "How far to the northward of this place does the King's writ run?"

CHAPTER VI. "It is very seldom wise to run away, by God!"

CHAPTER VII. "The Jullunder woman? You believe in that mare's nest?"

CHAPTER VIII. "The Serpent's Mouth! And by Allah, was there ever such a serpent?"

CHAPTER IX. "I am known to the police—unfavorably known to them."

CHAPTER X. "I remember the old commandments."

CHAPTER XI. "Did you ask me to command your army because you suspected me of being slow?"

CHAPTER XII. "I prefer my victories to look less like a rout!"

CHAPTER XIII. "Swallow your dose and get a move on!"

CHAPTER XIV. "You are the least touchy—the least violent—the least unreasonable man I know!"

CHAPTER XV. "What do you mean, sir, by disaster?"

CHAPTER XVI. "We Moslems also believe that Eve persuaded Adam."

CHAPTER XVII. "I don't care a damn what you think of me. It's what I think of you that matters."

CHAPTER XVIII. "I am commander-in-chief of her Highness the ex-Ranee of Jullunder's army."

CHAPTER XIX. "But wait and see what happens when we get the wind up!"

CHAPTER XX. "Gup—what do you mean?"

CHAPTER XXI. "He'll live for ever. He's too mean for the devil to let him die."

CHAPTER XXII. "Now I'll be in Copenhagen inside of a month!"

CHAPTER XXIII. "Huzoor, I am proud of your offer to fight me!"

CHAPTER XXIV. "And a ticket to Copenhagen."

CHAPTER I “It’s a poor world but the only one we have, Gup.”

There came a day–a day of discontent Begot by vision in the ageless womb Of that old prostitute impenitent Salome, earth-bound in the crimson tomb Of this man’s heart–a gray day dawning cold In melancholy when a Voice said: Slay! She has no title. Dagger loose her hold And know no law henceforth save Disobey!

ANGUS, nicknamed “Gup” McLeod, six feet two and a half inches of him, came untouched out of the Great War–untouched that is, except by savagery that had eaten through the film of conventional courtesy toward forms that seemed to him ridiculous. He went in a boy, obedient to all the caprices of family tradition and the prejudices of what he had been taught to revere as civilization. Like many another man, before the war was over he devoutly hoped to get a bullet in his brain and strove to that end vainly. They gave him medals and they would have given him high promotion, only some one at Headquarters thought that big men are a mistake. Besides, he had a way of smiling down from his great height that some people thought was scornful, whereas it was actually puzzled curiosity. Angus McLeod despised nobody and nobody’s ideals in those days; he had not yet reached even the stage of despising himself. But the humorous, baffled sense of the absurdity of human make-believe that laughed in his eyes set the rank of brevet major as his limit of attainment in the war. It offended people. And when the Armistice was signed, he, who could endure the unendurable and lead men into it because he could pretend to like it, was in India doing practically nothing.

He resigned his commission in India, and for several months he was treated as distantly as formal politeness allowed, because it was generally supposed he would apply for a government job. Jobs were scarce and men not dying fast enough, but the McLeods, as a family, have almost a hereditary lien on India and he possibly had home influence, too, that might have forced the hand of authority. However, he asked for nothing, and it was presently learned that he had some private means–not much, but enough to prevent the salary-hunger that makes half the world sheep and the other half wolves.

Then a new sort of suspicion, vague at first, began to rest on him. He was known to be studying languages, but it was not understood why he should choose to practise conversation with all sorts of Indian politicians. He looked more like a Highland chieftain than a Bolshevik; his sandy hair and blue eyes instantly placed him, at the first glance, in the category of men who live and die with the ancient slogans on their lips. But unexpected things were happening and governments were super- sensitive; a world-bath of blood and explosions can bring forth greater improbabilities than that an atavistic Scotsman should turn rebel. Angus McLeod had felt the thin veneer of education wearing off. It made him feel morally naked at first, and after he got used to that he began to be tactless and almost to flaunt his nakedness–his unbelief in the accepted standards of behavior and speech. He certainly chose unconventional teachers. Rebellion of any sort, and judicious selection of one’s companions, seldom go together. That appears to be a law.

There are three good ways to learn a language, of which the first is woman. But Gup McLeod was in rebellion against woman also. His wife had run off with some other man home on furlough while McLeod was in the trenches with her photo next his heart. Perhaps she had foreseen the earthquake nature of the coming change in him, in which all preconceptions would crumble and leave nothing but incomprehensible fact to be faced. She was possibly wise; in course of time she had three babies and a bank account. And her cruelty merely hastened an event at the cost of a certain amount of torture to Gup’s sensitive ego. He hid what he felt, under a mask of tight-lipped silence, but all women, for a while, became included in the disrespect that one had earned.

The second-best way to learn a language is by studying religion, because that means digging for the form of thought behind the words and mastering the subtleties of thin-split argument. But Gup McLeod was not the type of man who goes into a monastery when the world displeases him. His discontent included a suggestion that the mess the world is in is as much due to mixed religion as to unmixed depravity, so that the sight of a temple made him angry and the thought of studying comparative religions made him shudder. He had no desire whatever to reform the world. Let it rot. He believed that it would, and he thought that probably the best solution. His problem was to interest himself meanwhile, and to find something tremendous in which to engage his strength of mind and body.

The third best way to learn a language is to study politics–a more disgusting process than the others but less dangerous, because a man can change his politics, whereas creeds are prehensile and women costly. Politics are cheap in their less esoteric stages, and McLeod was enough of a Scotsman to appreciate that; so politics it was, and he soon became, as a result, amazingly proficient in three languages.

But he kept strange company, and he became known in all the ramifying byways of India’s political underworld, which are as dark and sinuous as the workings of one of Zola’s coal-mines. Those are swift students of human character who sap and mine, for the fun and excitement of it, beneath the foundations of alien rule. They may be madmen and they may be miscreants, as certainly at least a few of them are heroes, but they are all sharp-witted because they must be that or perish; so it was very swiftly understood that Gup McLeod was a safe man with whom to talk–a man not easily committed to a course, and particularly not to a course he did not understand, but a man who sold no secrets, whether for gold or favor.

Naturally it was not long before the ubiquitous government agents reported him through devious channels as a member of almost every one of the innumerable secret and seditious political societies with which India was swarming as a worn out and neglected garden does with gophers. That, of course, was too much for even a professional bureaucrat to pretend to believe, but McLeod’s mail was read and rather clumsily re-sealed; his trunks at the hotel were ransacked in his absence; he was shadowed wherever he went. There being no incriminating evidence he was sent for at last by a high and fatherly official, who produced cigars and whisky before revealing himself in his true guise of inquisitor.

“McLeod, for the sake of your good name now, be candid. Tell me what your game is. What are you planning, and why?”

It may have been the weather, or it may have been that an insight into politics had finally undone the last of McLeod’s respect for established authority. He had a brainstorm. Fury and indignation swept away all self-restraint and for thirty minutes he poured forth all the bitterness that had been accumulating in his heart since the day when he saw his regiment swept out of being in Flanders. It was bitterness of incredulity, strangely impersonal and without malice, but almost as corrosive of the official’s personal self-esteem as sulphuric acid thrown into his face.

“Good God, man! Are you an anarchist?”

“What an idiotic question! Only an ass could ask it! I’m no kind of ‘ist.’ It’s the ‘isms’ and ‘osophies’ that have us hog-tied. To hell with every theory of government from Plato downward!”

“You’re a Bolshevist?”

“Do you think I bought the right to think, on battlefields, in order to bow my neck to a coiner of phrases in Moscow?”

“But you are known to have discussed communism with–”

“Good God! And I’ve read Einstein and Ouspensky! I’ve talked about the next coming of Christ with a Dukhobor who works for a Chinese herbalist! I’ve talked about adultery with a Catholic archbishop, and I’ve discussed the effect of constipation on a mathematician’s style with a Seventh-day Adventist from the United States. Of which of those deadly crimes am I accused? I’ll name a few more if you haven’t enough.”

“You are accused of nothing. I am asking.”

“Answer this first. Do you think you know good government when you see it? Have you ever seen it? Do you think your own is even half-good? Then mayn’t I go like Socrates into the market-place and–or is this stuff that looks and smells like whisky and soda actually hemlock? If so, Vale, Caesar, I cheerfully drink to you and your orthodox box of pink pills for paleolithic people. I’m sick of this world–ready for the next, if there is one.”

“Don’t you think a man of your ability and breeding ought to try to redeem the world?”

“How? By joining your old ladies’ say-so club.”

“You’re aware, I suppose, that I can order you deported?”

“I almost wish you would. I might admire you if you did. It ‘ud give me something to fight about. Misgovernment would then be personal to me. I’d make it personal to you, too. I’ve a thousand a year and some brains. Let’s do it! You deport me and I’ll make of you the historical example of Anglo-Indian Bumbledom! It may do good. I’ll write you up, make speeches about you, slander, libel and lampoon you, pay a member of Parliament to accuse you before the house, set spies on you–you’ll die famous.”

“For the time being, you are merely cautioned.”

“Bunk! If a pickpocket did what you have ordered done to me he would be put in prison. You have read my mail, searched the pockets of my trousers, set stool-pigeons to listen through my keyhole–and now you are inferentially lying! If you had a scrap of proof against me you would have me deported without granting me an interview. I am cautioned, am I? I warn you I’m on the edge of exasperation. Shove me and I’ll go over. For the moment I’m neutral. I don’t care if India goes to the dogs and you along with it; I wouldn’t raise a hand to aid or hinder. I’m a loaded gun. You pull the trigger and–”

“You are nervous. You need medical attention.” That closed the interview, of which no shorthand notes were taken. But India is all eyes and ears, so a spy reported every word of it to several people, of whom Babu Pepul Das was one, in a room at the back of a store in the Chandni Chowk, which is the Street of the Silversmiths in Delhi. That afternoon two doctors and a secretary called on Gup at his hotel, where they subjected him to a mental inquisition, so obvious in its purpose and so diffident in method that it amused him, and amusement made him calm. All three were honest gentleman, so they had to admit to themselves that he was quite as sane as they were. They admitted it even to him, but they, too, cautioned him against extravagance of disgust with life as humans elect to live it.

“It’s a poor world but the only one we have, Gup. Try riding vicious horses for a change, or lend a rajah money and get drunk with him. But pick your rajah–they vary.”

Gup McLeod took a look at his situation then and recognized the nature of the quicksand into which he had been plowing head- on. It was not amusing to be thought mad. It would be even less amusing to be locked up on a charge of madness–stark sane and suffering the more in consequence. He decided to find employment, and since his mood was such as made orders from higher up unendurable, he decided to go into business for himself. There being only one business in India that an independent gentleman of active mind and body, not possessed of much capital nor trained in any of the sciences, can profitably follow, he presently found himself caught in the toils of the second-oldest vocation in the world, buying and selling horses.

Buying them took him to Dera Ismail Khan in the Northwest Province, where they hold the horse-fair in the spring. And because he had chosen politics in lieu of woman or religion for his purpose, and they three are one, as is understood by all except the politicians who are the blind third of the triad, he encountered woman and religion swiftly, without knowing what he did until it was too late to withdraw. But that, it is almost needless to remark, was the fault of the horses. Centaurs are only a mythical symbol of the truth which stands so plainly written on the scrolls of time, that men and horses are as necessary to each other as pen and ink. As every Moslem knows, Mohammed rode to heaven on a horse. And many and many a man has gone to hell on one.

CHAPTER II. “Huzoor, no money under heaven could buy that horse.”

But there is no way more beset with thorns Than disobedience. That whore within Was trenched amid a mystery of horns Of strange dilemmas, naming each one sin, By whose authority none knew. So voices said: Not this way and not that, lest thou offend That living Spirit throned amid the dead, Or lest thy fearlessness accuse thy friend.

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.