Havoc - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Havoc ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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Opis

Havoc occurs when European countries are discussing covert alliances. The story revolves around the creation of a secret alliance between Germany, Russia, and Austria. The English hope to split Russia away by holding the Czar to his previous public commitments, but they need proof of what was done to create the pressure. All the pressures that lead to WWI are there, but the intrigues and secret treaties create an interesting background to the twists and turns of the plot.

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Liczba stron: 423

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Contents

I. CROWNED HEADS MEET

II. ARTHUR DORWARD'S "SCOOP"

III. "OURS IS A STRANGE COURTSHIP"

IV. THE NIGHT TRAIN FROM VIENNA

V. "VON BEHRLING HAS THE PACKET"

VI. VON BEHRLING IS TEMPTED

VII. "WE PLAY FOR GREAT STAKES"

VIII. THE HAND OF MISFORTUNE

IX. ROBBING THE DEAD

X. BELLAMY IS OUTWITTED

XI. VON BEHRLING'S FATE

XII. BARON DE STREUSS' PROPOSAL

XIII. STEPHEN LAVERICK'S CONSCIENCE

XIV. ARTHUR MORRISON'S COLLAPSE

XV. LAVERICK's PARTNER FLEES

XVI. THE WAITER AT THE "BLACK POST"

XVII. THE PRICE OF SILENCE

XVIII. THE LONELY CHORUS GIRL

XIX. MYSTERIOUS INQUIRIES

XX. LAVERICK IS CROSS-EXAMINED

XXI. MADEMOISELLE IDIALE'S VISIT

XXII. ACTIVITY OF AUSTRIAN SPIES

XXIII. LAVERICK AT THE OPERA

XXIV. A SUPPER PARTY AT LUIGI'S

XXV. JIM SHEPHERD'S SCARE

XXVI. THE DOCUMENT DISCOVERED

XXVII. PENETRATING A MYSTERY

XXVIII. LAVERICK'S NARROW ESCAPE

XXIX. LASSEN'S TREACHERY DISCOVERED

XXX. THE CONTEST FOR THE PAPERS

XXXI. MISS LENEVEU'S MESSAGE

XXXII. MORRISON IS DESPERATE

XXXIII. LAVERICK S ARREST

XXXIV. MORRISON'S DISCLOSURE

XXXV. BELLAMY'S SUCCESS

XXXVI. LAVERICK ACQUITTED

XXXVII. THE PLOT THAT FAILED

XXXVIII. A FAREWELL APPEARANCE

I. CROWNED HEADS MEET

Bellamy, King’s Spy, and Dorward, journalist, known to fame in every English-speaking country, stood before the double window of their spacious sitting-room, looking down upon the thoroughfare beneath. Both men were laboring under a bitter sense of failure. Bellamy’s face was dark with forebodings; Dorward was irritated and nervous. Failure was a new thing to him–a thing which those behind the great journals which he represented understood less, even, than he. Bellamy loved his country, and fear was gnawing at his heart.

Below, the crowds which had been waiting patiently for many hours broke into a tumult of welcoming voices. Down their thickly-packed lines the volume of sound arose and grew, a faint murmur at first, swelling and growing to a thunderous roar. Myriads of hats were suddenly torn from the heads of the excited multitude, handkerchiefs waved from every window. It was a wonderful greeting, this.

“The Czar on his way to the railway station,” Bellamy remarked.

The broad avenue was suddenly thronged with a mass of soldiery–guardsmen of the most famous of Austrian regiments, brilliant in their white uniforms, their flashing helmets. The small brougham with its great black horses was almost hidden within a ring of naked steel. Dorward, an American to the backbone and a bitter democrat, thrust out his under-lip.

“The Anointed of the Lord!” he muttered.

Far away from some other quarter came the same roar of voices, muffled yet insistent, charged with that faint, exciting timbre which seems always to live in the cry of the multitude.

“The Emperor,” declared Bellamy. “He goes to the West station.”

The commotion had passed. The crowds in the street below were on the move, melting away now with a muffled trampling of feet and a murmur of voices. The two men turned from their window back into the room. Dorward commenced to roll a cigarette with yellow-stained, nervous fingers, while Bellamy threw himself into an easy-chair with a gesture of depression.

“So it is over, this long-talked-of meeting,” he said, half to himself, half to Dorward. “It is over, and Europe is left to wonder.”

“They were together for scarcely more than an hour,” Dorward murmured.

“Long enough,” Bellamy answered. “That little room in the Palace, my friend, may yet become famous.”

“If you and I could buy its secrets,” Dorward remarked, finally shaping a cigarette and lighting it, “we should be big bidders, I think. I’d give fifty thousand dollars myself to be able to cable even a hundred words of their conversation.”

“For the truth,” Bellamy said, “the whole truth, there could be no price sufficient. We made our effort in different directions, both of us. With infinite pains I planted–I may tell you this now that the thing is over–seven spies in the Palace. They have been of as much use as rabbits. I don’t believe that a single one of them got any further than the kitchens.”

Dorward nodded gloomily.

“I guess they weren’t taking any chances up there,” he remarked. “There wasn’t a secretary in the room. Carstairs was nearly thrown out, and he had a permit to enter the Palace. The great staircase was held with soldiers, and Dick swore that there were Maxims in the corridors.”

Bellamy sighed.

“We shall hear the roar of bigger guns before we are many months older, Dorward,” he declared.

The journalist glanced at his friend keenly. “You believe that?”

Bellamy shrugged his shoulders.

“Do you suppose that this meeting is for nothing?” he asked. “When Austria, Germany and Russia stand whispering in a corner, can’t you believe it is across the North Sea that they point? Things have been shaping that way for years, and the time is almost ripe.”

“You English are too nervous to live, nowadays,” Dorward declared impatiently. “I’d just like to know what they said about America.”

Bellamy smiled with faint but delicate irony.

“Without a doubt, the Prince will tell you,” he said. “He can scarcely do more to show his regard for your country. He is giving you a special interview–you alone out of about two hundred journalists. Very likely he will give you an exact account of everything that transpired. First of all, he will assure you that this meeting has been brought about in the interests of peace. He will tell you that the welfare of your dear country is foremost in the thoughts of his master. He will assure you–”

“Say, you’re jealous, my friend,” Dorward interrupted calmly. “I wonder what you’d give me for my ten minutes alone with the Chancellor, eh?”

“If he told me the truth,” Bellamy asserted, “I’d give my life for it. For the sort of stuff you’re going to hear, I’d give nothing. Can’t you realize that for yourself, Dorward? You know the man–false as Hell but with the tongue of a serpent. He will grasp your hand; he will declare himself glad to speak through you to the great Anglo-Saxon races–to England and to his dear friends the Americans. He is only too pleased to have the opportunity of expressing himself candidly and openly. Peace is to be the watchword of the future. The white doves have hovered over the Palace. The rulers of the earth have met that the crash of arms may be stilled and that this terrible unrest which broods over Europe shall finally be broken up. They have pledged themselves hand in hand to work together for this object,–Russia, broken and humiliated, but with an immense army still available, whose only chance of holding her place among the nations is another and a successful war; Austria, on fire for the seaboard–Austria, to whom war would give the desire of her existence; Germany, with Bismarck’s last but secret words written in letters of fire on the walls of her palaces, in the hearts of her rulers, in the brain of her great Emperor. Colonies! Expansion! Empire! Whose colonies, I wonder? Whose empire? Will he tell you that, my friend Dorward?”

The journalist shrugged his shoulders and glanced at the clock.

“I guess he’ll tell me what he chooses and I shall print it,” he answered indifferently. “It’s all part of the game, of course. I am not exactly chicken enough to expect the truth. All the same, my message will come from the lips of the Chancellor immediately after this wonderful meeting.”

“He makes use of you,” Bellamy declared, “to throw dust into our eyes and yours.”

“Even so,” Dorward admitted, “I don’t care so long as I get the copy. It’s good-bye, I suppose?”

Bellamy nodded.

“I shall go on to Berlin, perhaps, to-morrow,” he said. “I can do no more good here. And you?”

“After I’ve sent my cable I’m off to Belgrade for a week, at any rate,” Dorward answered. “I hear the women are forming rifle clubs all through Servia.”

Bellamy smiled thoughtfully.

“I know one who’ll want a place among the leaders,” he murmured.

“Mademoiselle Idiale, I suppose?”

Bellamy assented.

“It’s a queer position hers, if you like,” he said. “All Vienna raves about her. They throng the Opera House every night to hear her sing, and they pay her the biggest salary which has ever been known here. Three parts of it she sends to Belgrade to the Chief of the Committee for National Defence. The jewels that are sent her anonymously go to the same place, all to buy arms to fight these people who worship her. I tell you, Dorward,” he added, rising to his feet and walking to the window, “the patriotism of these people is something we colder races scarcely understand. Perhaps it is because we have never dwelt under the shadow of a conqueror. If ever Austria is given a free hand, it will be no mere war upon which she enters,–it will be a carnage, an extermination!”

Dorward looked once more at the clock and rose slowly to his feet.

“Well,” he said, “I mustn’t keep His Excellency waiting. Good-bye, and cheer up, Bellamy! Your old country isn’t going to turn up her heels yet.”

Out he went–long, lank, uncouth, with yellow-stained fingers and hatchet-shaped, gray face–a strange figure but yet a power. Bellamy remained. For a while he seemed doubtful how to pass the time. He stood in front of the window, watching the dispersal of the crowds and the marching by of a regiment of soldiers, whose movements he followed with critical interest, for he, too, had been in the service. He had still a military bearing,–tall, and with complexion inclined to be dusky, a small black moustache, dark eyes, a silent mouth,–a man of many reserves. Even his intimates knew little of him. Nevertheless, his was the reticence which befitted well his profession.

After a time he sat down and wrote some letters. He had just finished when there came a sharp tap at the door. Before he could open his lips some one had entered. He heard the soft swirl of draperies and turned sharply round, then sprang to his feet and held out both his hands. There was expression in his face now–as much as he ever suffered to appear there.

“Louise!” he exclaimed. “What good fortune!”

She held his fingers for a moment in a manner which betokened a more than common intimacy. Then she threw herself into an easy-chair and raised her thick veil. Bellamy looked at her for a moment in sorrowful silence. There were violet lines underneath her beautiful eyes, her cheeks were destitute of any color. There was an abandonment of grief about her attitude which moved him. She sat as one broken-spirited, in whom the power of resistance was dead.

“It is over, then,” she said softly, “this meeting. The word has been spoken.”

He came and stood by her side.

“As yet,” he reminded her, “we do not know what that word may be.”

She shook her head mournfully.

“Who can doubt?” she exclaimed. “For myself, I feel it in the air! I can see it in the faces of the people who throng the city! I can hear it in the peals of those awful bells! You know nothing? You have heard nothing?”

Bellamy shook his head.

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