Grey Timothy - Edgar Wallace - ebook

Grey Timothy ebook

Edgar Wallace

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Opis

The renowned family Callander receives a very unwelcome visit from their Australian relative, nephew Brian Pallard of family patriarch Peter Callander. Unwelcome because Pallard cultivates a rather dubious way of life and made his considerable fortune on the races. Upon arrival, Pallard proves charming and witty, so that daughter Gladys immediately gets a crush on him, but he also has rivals who do not shy away from bad deed like killing a horse with tse tse flies to manipulate a horse-race... Entertaining mix of social comedy, melodrama and lightweight detective novel by Edgar Wallace who was a prolific author of crime, adventure and humorous stories.

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Liczba stron: 254

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Contents

I. INTRODUCES THE CALLANDERS

II. AND A VISITOR

III. MR PALLARD DOES NOT STAY

IV. AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE

V. PALLARD THE PUNTER

VI. THE RACE AT WINDSOR

VII. THE COLT BY GREY LEG

VIII. A GAMBLE IN ‘BITS’

IX. MR PALLARD WINS HEAVILY

X. A SHARP RECOVERY IN ‘BITS’

XI. INTRODUCES TINKER SMITH

XII. BRIAN MAKES ACQUAINTANCES

XIII. LORD PINLOW GOES CALLING

XIV. THE SUPERSTITION OF LORD PINLOW

XV. IN THE STABLES

XVI. THE RACE FOR THE STEWARDS’ CUP

XVII. THE LITTLE MURDERERS

XVIII. DR JELLIS OF WATFORD

XIX. THE AFFAIR AT KNIGHTSBRIDGE

XX. A WIRE FROM BRIAN

XXI. THE END

I. INTRODUCES THE CALLANDERS

Brian Pallard wrote to his uncle:

“Dear Uncle Peter,–Though I have never seen you, I have heard my father speak so highly of your many qualities that I am looking forward to seeing you and my cousins, on my visit to England. As you know, I was born in Kent, though everybody here regards me as Australian bred. Is that a tribute to my temporary sojourn at Oxford, or is it not?

Anyway, I will let you know just when I arrive. I am sending this to your office, because I do not know your address. I have been having a great time in Melbourne.–Yours ever,

Brian P.”

Mr Peter Callander wrote back.

It was a letter carefully considered, and as carefully worded; every comma was in its place, every ‘t’ was crossed. It was the type of letter you might suppose that a conservative Englishman doing a conservative business would write.

It was a letter harmonizing with his correct frock-coat of conservative cut, his plain trousers, his cloth spats and his heavy watch-guard. It was a letter one would expect from a thin-faced man with grey hair, straight black eyebrows, cold, suspicious eyes that queries your bona fides through gold-rimmed glasses, and lips a trifle thin and tightly pressed.

It ran:

“Dear Sir,–I have your letter (undated) addressed from the Sporting Club of Melbourne, and I note its contents. I am gratified to learn that your poor father had so high an opinion of me, and I am sure no man held him in greater esteem than myself. I shall be glad to see you if you will write making an appointment, but I am a very busy man.

Unfortunately, you are not without fame–or perhaps I should say–notoriety. The halfpenny press, in its anxiety to disseminate rather the sensational than the useful, has made no secret of your transactions on the Australian turf. Such head-lines as ‘Pallard the Punter wins another fortune’, or ‘Pallard the Punter’s sensational bet’, neither edify nor please me. Frankly, they fill me with a sense of humiliation and shame that one, who is my kinsman, should have so far descended the slippery path of Sin that ends in Ruin and Despair, and that one so gifted with Fortune should embark upon a gambler’s career. Of all forms of gambling perhaps horse-racing is, to my mind, the most abhorrent. That so beautiful a creature as the horse–the friend of man–should be debased so that he becomes the enemy of man is at once pitiable and, I speak in all solemnity, degrading.

I shall, as I say, be prepared to meet you, but I regret that I am unable to offer you the hospitality of a home which shelters my son, untouched by the world, and my daughter who has inherited all her father’s instinctive distaste for those forms of amusement which appeal to you.

Yours very faithfully,

Peter Callander.”

This letter, Mr Callander read and approved, lifting his pen deliberately to put a comma here and dot an ‘i’ there. When he had finished it, he folded it neatly and inserted it into an envelope. He licked the envelope down, stuck a stamp on the north-west corner, and rang his bell.

“Post this,” he said. “Has Mr Horace called?”

“Yes, sir,” said the clerk who had answered the summons; “come and gone. He said he would call back–he has gone on to meet Miss Callander.”

“That will do, thank you, Mr Russell,” said Peter Callander, with a courteous nod of his head.

That was a trait in which he took the greatest pride. He was an intensely courteous man to his dependents. He invariably raised his hat to the salutation of the porter who guarded the entrance of Callander & Callander’s. The meanest officeboy that ever stole stamps was sure of a kindly nod and a friendly pat on the head. He addressed his junior clerks as ‘Sir’, and carried with him that air of genial benevolence which so admirably suits white hair and plaid trousers.

It is true that he paid his clerks at a poorer rate and worked them longer hours than any other employer of his standing in the City of London. It is true that he visited the office-boy, when his peculations were discovered, with the utmost rigour of the law, and was adamantine to the weeping mother and pleading father. It is equally true that he was always setting mean traps to test the honesty of the juniors to whom he said ‘Sir’; but in all things he was courteous.

Having disposed of his immoral relative to his own satisfaction, Mr Callander proceeded to deal with weightier matters, such as the one-sixteenth rise in Anglo-Japanese Rubbers, the report of the Siamese Railways, the fluctuations of the Russian Threes, and the iniquitous rig in West Suakim Gold Syndicates, so ruthlessly, fearlessly, and disinterestedly exposed by the public-spirited editor of The Gold Share Review.

It may be said that this gentleman had persistently refrained from publishing the advertisements of the W.S.G.S., because the syndicate had so persistently refrained from sending those advertisements to him.

Mr Callander read the slashing attack with peculiar pleasure. For one reason, he hated doubledealing and trickery; for another reason, he had sold all his West Suakims before the depreciation had set in.

He had finished the review with a shake of his head, which signified his complete agreement with the writer, and was noting down some personal transactions of the day in his private ledger–a little red book with a Yale lock–when his son was announced. He looked up with a smile of welcome.

Horace Callander was a slight young man of middle height, with a full, effeminate chin, large eyes, well shaded with long lashes, a well-proportioned face, and a trim figure. He had as trim a moustache, so trim, in fact, that it had the appearance of having been painted on his face by Michael Angelo–this is the view of one who did not love Horace Callander.

Symmetrical is the word that described his appearance, deferential his attitude. His voice was musical and well-pitched, being neither too loud nor too soft.

The girl who entered the room behind him–it would have struck the observer as strange that this perfect young gentleman did not open the door for her and allow her to enter before him–was made on different lines.

She was fair and tall, taller than her brother. Her figure was slim, and she moved with the freedom of one who loved the field and the road. Her head was well set on a pair of graceful shoulders and crowned with magnificent hair of that hue which halts midway between gold and russet-brown. Two big grey eyes set in a face of delicate colour; a pair of generous lips and a straight little nose, she resembled her brother only in respect to the quality of her voice.

“Well, my dear?” said Mr Callander. It was his son he addressed in such tones of affectionate pride. “So you’ve been to fetch this sister of yours? And how is Gladys, eh?”

She bent down to kiss his cheek, and he submitted to the indignity with great resignation. It was his practice to address her always in the third person. It was a practice which had began in banter and ended by becoming a custom.

“Dear Gladys was annoyed,” said Horace, with habitual tenderness, “and really it is very distressing –”

“Distressing!” She did not wait for her father’s invitation, but seated herself in one of the luxurious arm-chairs of the room. “It is abominable that a man, having any pretensions to decency, should get himself talked about, and not only himself, but us!”

Mr Callander looked from one to the other in perplexity, and Horace drew a neatly folded evening newspaper from his pocket.

“It is Pallard,” he explained in a hushed voice.

“Confound the fellow!” gasped Mr Callander, “what has he been doing–and, as you say, surely I am not mentioned?”

He seized the paper and wrenched it open.

It was a common evening paper published at a price which alone proclaimed its infamy, and the news had evidently been extracted from a morning paper.

Mr Callander gasped again.

In the most prominent part of the front page, sandwiched between an interesting inquest and the no less fascinating particulars of a divorce case, were the head-lines

PALLARD THE PUNTER’S PARTING COUP. WINS TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS “TO PAY HIS EXPENSES HOME.” CAREER OF THE GREAT TURF SPECULATOR.

And if this, and the cablegram which followed, was not bad enough, there was a subjoined paragraph:

“Mr Brian Pallard, who has made turf history in Australia, has earned distinction in other branches of sport; he won the middle-weight at the Public Schools Competitions-Amateur light-weight; he is reported to be enormously wealthy. He is a near relative of Mr P. Callander, of the well-known City firm of agents.”

“Infamous!” said Mr Callander. He said it without heat, but with great intensity. “I am not so sure that this isn’t libellous, Horace.”

Horace shook his head doubtfully, thereby expressing his opinion that he wasn’t sure either.

“It isn’t libellous,” said the girl, her straight brows puckered in a frown; “but it’s awfully uncomfortable for us, father. I wish these newspapers wouldn’t publish such things.”

“It’s a craze,” said Horace thoughtfully. “A man I know in the City–you know, Willock, father–he’s the president of our Art Circle, and knows all these journalist people.” Mr Callander nodded his head. “He says that things were awfully dull, and one of the big dailies was struck with the idea of working the colonies up and all that sort of thing. So it cabled all its correspondents, and Pallard happened just then to be the best talked of man in Melbourne, so the correspondent wired about him.”

Mr Callander rose from his desk, smoothing his coat.

“It is simply deplorable,” he said.

“Thank goodness he’s in Australia!” added his daughter with a note of relief.

Mr Callander looked at her for a long time.

“He’s not in Australia, or, at any rate, he won’t be for long; he’s coming home.”

“Coming home!” exclaimed Gladys in horror, and Horace allowed himself to say, “Confound it!”

“Yes, he’s coming home,” said Mr Callander moodily. “I had a letter from him only this morning–and can’t you read? ‘Parting coup. Expenses for his trip home’–that’s England. All these Colonial fellows call England home.”

“Infernal cheek!” murmured Horace.

“Coming home?” said the girl in distress. “Oh, surely not!”

“We can’t know that sort of man, father.” Horace and his proud parent smiled.

“You shall not know him, my dear,” he said. “I shall meet him here, alone.”

He waved his hand round the room heroically. It was as though he anticipated a worrying time with a tiger.

“I know the kind of person he is,” he said. “I have to meet all types. He is probably a stout, coarse, young man, with a loud voice and a louder suit–if you will forgive the vulgarism. I know these hard-drinking, hard-swearing ruffians. I hate to say it of my own sister’s child, but I must be just.” He took his umbrella from the stand by the wall, smoothed his glossy silk hat, and carefully adjusted it to his head. “Now, my dear, I am ready,” he said.

He took his son’s arm and walked to the door. It opened before he reached it, and his confidential clerk handed him a telegram.

“Excuse me,” he said, and opening it, read:

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