Dead Man Manor - Valentine Williams - ebook

Dead Man Manor ebook

Valentine Williams

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Opis

There is a secret surrounding the abandoned local manuar and the death of the local miller. When a lawyer on vacation is found slaughtered, the law enters into force. One area of ​​interest for the British reader is the different legal system and methodology used by Sergeant Biguri, who is conducting an official investigation. His personality perfectly complements and contrasts with the personality of Tredgold. The love interest between Dr. Wood and Adrienne de Saint-Remy is well maintained, and the villagers, including the mayor, priest and notary, come alive.

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Liczba stron: 406

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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 I

The peace of the warm July afternoon rested over the fishing-camp like a benediction. Under a sky of peerless blue the lake, girdled with firs, was a sheet of glass. On its bank half a dozen log cabins, strung in a wide arc about the central mess hut, showed shingles deep red against the pale green leaves and white trunks of the birches. The air was drenched with the resinous fragrance of balsam and spruce and from time to time, with a quiet plop a trout leaped in the lake.

The portly, pink-faced man in plus fours who, on the verandah of the hut inscribed “Number 3,’ was studying a piece of paper, paid no heed to the beauty of his environment. It was a single line of writing, scribbled on the note-paper of a New York club, and, since crossing the frontier into French Canada, he had had the paper out of his wallet at least a dozen times. As he scanned it now, so rapt was his mien, one would have said he had never seen it before.

He was a well-groomed individual, past middle age, whose height–above the medium–set off a certain tendency to overweight. Iron-gray hair lent him dignity, stressing his air of mild benevolence. He had a pair of singularly shrewd, very bright blue eyes which just then were veiled in thought. While his material presence–two hundred and forty pounds of it–was indubitably earthbound at the St. Florentin fishing-camp, his spirit was far off among the cloud-capped towers of Manhattan, back in the club smoking-room giving ear to Dudley Hunter recounting his bizarre experience.

Fixedly he stared at the paper and the four words it contained. “Joseph Ruffier, St. Florentin’–at the sight of the writing his nostrils seemed to dilate with excitement, his blue eyes glittered. So deeply sunk in thought was he that he failed to hear a footstep on the duckboards of the path below. Then a brisk “Hello, there!’ broke in upon his meditations. Looking up with a start, he thrust the paper quickly into his pocket.

A trim figure in well-worn tweeds, a tweed hat garnished with sundry trout flies in one hand, a fishing-rod in the other, stood at the foot of the verandah steps. It was a lean, wiry man, with close-cropped, grizzled hair and a tanned face radiating energy and determination. He was smiling agreeably. “I’m Adams,’ he announced imperturbably. “I have the hut next to yours. I saw you drive up as I was finishing a late lunch, so thought it only friendly to drop round and say “hello,” as we’re neighbours...’

“My name’s Treadgold,’ the other replied. “Come in, won’t you?’

“I can’t stop more than a minute,’ said Adams, going inside the hut. “I’m taking young Rees out–he’s a nice kid and a grand little fisherman. He’s here with his father, a retired British General. Why don’t you come along, too?’

Mr. Treadgold reddened. “You’re awfully kind,’ he said rather hastily, “but the fact is, I’ve one or two things to attend to...’

“Some other time, then. You’re a fisherman, of course?’

The other coughed nervously. “Of a sort!’

Adams laughed. “Like the rest of us!’ He had a very easy way with him, his voice well-bred and pleasantly pitched, his smile charming. “Quebecker, are you?’

Mr. Treadgold shook his head. “I’m from New York!’

His companion elevated a polite eyebrow. “How on earth did you happen to strike this remote spot of all places? Most Americans go to the salmon clubs or the Government camps. Or are you a friend of old Forgeron?’

Mr. Treadgold shook his head again. “I just chanced to hear that he took in paying guests,’ he observed airily, “and the idea of a private camp appealed to me. The place struck me as being suitably off the map, so, as I wanted a complete rest and change...’

The other’s musical laugh cut him off. “You’ve come to the right spot for that, Mr. Treadgold. Ever been in French Canada before?’

Mr. Treadgold confessed that it was his first visit.

“It’ll surprise you. They’ve put the clock back two hundred years–one might be in eighteenth-century France before the French Revolution. I’ve spoken French ever since I was able to talk and I’ve known these people all my life, but I never return to French Canada without a curious feeling as though I were entering through a door opening on the past, as one does in a dream. Nothing ever changes here, you know!’

His companion’s eyes sparkled–of a sudden he looked strangely elated. One hand thrust deep in his pocket tightly clutched the address he had been scrutinizing. “I’m greatly looking forward to seeing something of the country and its people,’ he declared with considerable earnestness.

Adams smiled indulgently–he was fingering a row of books which were neatly arranged on the dressing-table behind Mr. Treadgold’s hair-brushes and shaving-tackle. “They’re a rum lot,’ he said briefly. “Speak French, do you?’

“I used to be fairly fluent...’

“That’ll help. I don’t suppose there are more than a dozen people in the village of St. Florentin who know any English...’

“Are you a French Canadian?’

“Me? No, I’m from Toronto–a lawyer, if you’re interested. But we always had French servants at home–my stepmother was a French Canadian...’ He had drawn a book from the row. “Tristram Shandy, eh?’ he said, reading the title on the back.

Mr. Treadgold’s face lit up. “You know it?’

“I haven’t read it since I was a student at McGill...’ He replaced the book and leaned forward to scan another title. “Universal Stamp Catalogue,’ he read out. “You collect stamps?’

Mr. Treadgold looked slightly flustered. “Just a hobby of mine,’ he murmured.

“Manuel de Police Scientifique,’ Adams read out. He gave his companion a quizzing glance. “Crime, too?’

The other blushed. “Purely in an amateur way!’

Adams nodded. “Very interesting. Crime has always fascinated me. We must have some talks. Well, I suppose I mustn’t keep my young friend waiting...’ He moved towards the door. “Hello,’ he added, as they went out on the verandah, “here’s the Angel coming to see if you’re all snug...’

A bulky figure in a uniform cap came plodding along the duckboards that were laid along the path.

“It’s the caretaker, or whatever they call him, isn’t it?’ said Mr. Treadgold. “But why “The Angel”?’

The other smiled. “Tremblay, his name is. But as his first name is “Ange” and he’s the gardien or caretaker, Montgomery–that’s an American who’s stopping here–calls him “The Angel Guardian”–“Angel” for short...’ He chuckled silently. “We’re all very French up here!’ A shrill voice calling at this moment, “Ahoy, Mr. Adams!’ he bestowed a friendly nod on Mr. Treadgold and, fishing-rod at the trail, strolled off towards the little landing-stage where a small boy in white flannels was waving to him frantically.

The gardien puffed up. “I come see you got ev’yt’ing you want, Mis’ Treadgol’,’ he announced importantly. He was a solemn man with an elongated face like a horse’s. A mouth unusually small and a trick he had of pursing it after speaking invested him with a perpetual air of mild disapproval. With his steel spectacles and cap trimmed with tarnished gold lace he suggested a German bandsman.

“I’m very comfortable, thanks,’ said Mr. Treadgold. “Didn’t you say I was sharing this hut with somebody?’

“Correct. With Dr. Wood. He come by auto from New York. He don’ arrive yet, but he come pretty soon. You lak’ to feesh tomorrow, you tell me, I arrange canoe, guide, ev’yt’ing...’

“I don’t believe I’ll make any plans for the moment,’ Mr. Treadgold broke in rather quickly. “How do I get to the village?’

The gardien extended his hand. “You have telegram, letter, no? I take heem after supper on my motocyclette...’

“Thanks, but I’d rather go myself. I want a walk...’

“Walk?’ Ange Tremblay’s smile was compassionate. “But, Mis’ Treadgol’, it ees eight mile!’

“You mean by the road? I thought I’d go by the woods...’

A singular change came over the gardien’s heavy and rather stupid countenance. Shaking his head with owlish solemnity he said, “By the woods? It ees impossible!’

“Why? There’s a trail, isn’t there?’

The man’s face was a blank. “Better you take your auto and go by road, I t’ink,’ he replied stubbornly.

“I prefer to walk, I tell you. The trail’s shown on my map–it leads through those woods on the other side of the lake straight down to the village. It can’t be more than three miles at the outside!’

The Angel only shook his head. “Vair’ bad trell! You lose yourself in the woods, mebbe. You tell me what you want in the village and I go there now on my motocyclette, hein?’

The gardien was palpably ill at ease. He shuffled from one foot to the other, casting apprehensive glances sidelong through his glasses at the determined face at his side. It was apparent to Mr. Treadgold that, for some obscure reason, Tremblay was determined he should not take the path through the woods. Opposition always made him stubborn, and without more ado he said firmly: “I’m going to walk and I’m going through the woods. How do I get across the lake? There’s a boat, I suppose?’

There was a boat, the gardien admitted sulkily, but no one available to row the gentleman.

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