Matorni’s Vineyard - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Matorni’s Vineyard ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

In an interesting precursor to the later „I Spy” television series, the novel follows the activities of a young British tennis professional, Mervyn Amory, who is spending the season in Monte Carlo. While traveling from Paris on Le Train Bleu, he meets an Italian secret agent who is carrying documents which show the treachery of the dictator Matorni. Matorni is a thinly disguised Mussolini. (The title of the novel bears no relation to the book). Interestingly, this novel was written in 1928, which was only 2 years after Mussolini assumed dictatorial powers over the country. The partisan resistance to the fascists are given the name „red shirts.”

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 339

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

Androidzie
iOS



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 XXXIV

CHAPTER I

Mervyn Amory, although he had been one of the first to obey the summons of the uniformed attendant with his clanging bell, found the restaurant car of the Blue Train practically full. The head waiter, who knew him by sight, ushered him to a table for two, occupied by one other man.

“A close shave!” the newcomer exclaimed, as he seated himself. “I had no idea that the train was so full. People seem to hide themselves in these small compartments.”

His vis-à-vis, who had watched the arrival of his companion for the meal with an expression of anxious disquietude, shrugged his shoulders slightly with an apologetic gesture. Mervyn repeated his remark in French.

“Yes, you were fortunate to get a place,” the other agreed. “I took my seat here at Paris. The second service is inferior and it is late. It is a surprise to me, also, to find so many people travelling.”

“The Riviera season grows earlier every year,” Mervyn observed.

His companion made no answer, and in the brief silence which followed Mervyn took more careful note of him. He was a square-shouldered, sallow-faced man, with many wrinkles in his face, deep-set eyes and a somewhat nervous manner. On more than one occasion he turned in his seat, and seemed to be taking stock of the little crowd of diners–an interest on his part, however, which seemed to savour rather of apprehension than of curiosity. Mervyn, following his example, was attracted by one person only–a girl whose eyes met his frankly enough, but with an interest which she scarcely troubled to conceal. She was more than ordinarily good-looking–beautiful in the classic, creamy-complexioned, brown-eyed type of Northern Italy. She was plainly dressed in black, unrelieved save for a slight white band around the neck, and she had removed her hat, which hung in the rack above her. Awaiting the service of her dinner, she was smoking a cigarette, and sipping from a small wineglass. Mervyn was not conscious of ever having seen her before, but his intense and growing interest in her was obviously reciprocated. He leaned forward towards his companion.

“Am I right,” he enquired, “in thinking that you are an Italian?”

The man frowned slightly.

“Why do you ask me that?” he demanded.

“A fellow traveller’s curiosity,” Mervyn replied. “Your French seemed to me just a little liquid.”

“And granted that I am an Italian?”

“I was about to direct your attention to one of the most beautiful types of your fellow country-women–that is, if I am not mistaken in her nationality. She might be French, of course, but I don’t think she is. You will have to look just a little farther behind.”

The man swung round in his seat.

“The last table but one on the other side,” Mervyn whispered. “The young woman is smoking. She wears no hat and her hair is marvellous.”

Mervyn’s companion gave only a perfunctory glance in the direction indicated. Then he shot a quick look across the table. His brows were puckered, his manner unduly nervous.

“Why do you draw my attention to that young lady?” he asked suspiciously.

“For no special reason, so far as you are concerned,” Mervyn assured him. “I permit myself to admire her immensely. That is all. I am not, as a rule, interested in strangers, but I should like to know her name and everything about her. You ought to be able to recognise any one of your own nationality. I am right, am I not, in believing that she is Italian?”

The man moved uneasily in his seat.

“How should I know anything about her?” he demanded. “She might be of any race, so far as I am concerned.”

Mervyn made no attempt to pursue the conversation, for which his companion was obviously disinclined. Presently the service of dinner along a stretch of perhaps the worst laid railroad in any civilised country made even the barest exchange of remarks difficult. The two men relapsed into silence, and the meal proceeded without further incident, save that to Mervyn it seemed a curious thing that every time he raised his head and looked down the car he met the eyes of the fair Italian. There was nothing in them of purposeful allure, not the slightest indication of any desire for a flirtation, simply a persistently speculative interest, as though for some reason his being on that particular train, and in that particular seat, puzzled her. Yet, when she left the car, which she did a little before the others, although she nodded pleasantly to a small hook-nosed man, seated in their vicinity, who rose to his feet, returning her greeting with much deference, she passed the table at which Mervyn and his companion were seated without even a glance. Her interest in him, if it had ever existed, appeared to have evaporated. Mervyn, surprising a peculiar look in his companion’s face as he watched her disappear, was encouraged to address him again.

“I am right, am I not, in believing that Mademoiselle is Italian?” he asked.

The man assented.

“Yes, she is Italian–partially Italian, at any rate. She is of the type,” he went on, “which has produced the most beautiful and the most vicious women in the world’s history. If one may trust to our Old Masters, Beatrice was like that–she of the Cenci, I mean–also that shameful wife of Andrea del Sarto, and the Medicis.”

“This girl’s face seems to have too much of humour for cruelty,” Mervyn observed.

His companion produced a gold-chased tobacco box and rolled a cigarette.

“It is perhaps because of an admixture of races,” he said. “Her physiognomy is pure Italian, but–”

He broke off in his sentence. He had caught the steady regard of the hook-nosed little man opposite, and the words seemed to die away upon his lips.

“But,” Mervyn suggested gently.

“I know nothing whatever about the young lady. Nor do I care for discussing strangers,” he concluded abruptly.

Coffee was served, and, one by one, the remaining diners began to vacate the car. Mervyn remained till nearly the last, and it was suddenly borne in upon him that his companion, who had paid his bill some time before, was lingering to bear him company, although he remained obstinately silent. His impression was confirmed when at last he rose to go, for the Italian promptly followed his example. They made their uncertain way out together until they reached the last car, in which Mervyn’s compartment was situated. He turned the handle and was on the point of entering, when the man suddenly addressed him.

“I should like a word with you–inside your compartment, if I may,” he said, with a sudden and noticeable return to his initial nervousness.

“With pleasure,” Mervyn agreed, standing on one side, and ushering him in. “Take the corner seat, and have a smoke. There are some cigarettes there.”

The self-invited visitor seemed scarcely to hear the invitation. His behaviour continued to be eccentric. He suddenly reopened the door of the compartment, and looked up and down the corridor. Satisfied as to its emptiness, he closed it again firmly.

“You are an Englishman?” he asked abruptly.

“I am English, as my accent probably told you,” was the prompt reply.

“Your accent is extraordinarily good. May I ask your name?”

“Mervyn Amory–if it really interests you. Suppose you tell me yours?”

“Mine doesn’t matter,” the other declared. “If you knew it, it would tell you nothing. Mervyn Amory,” he repeated reflectively. “You come south on pleasure?”

There was the faintest impulse of resentment in the young man’s face at this direct questioning. His eyes shone for a moment with something of the keenness of his companion’s.

“Naturally,” he assented. “I play tennis.”

For some reason or other the reply seemed to gratify his questioner. Something of the suspicion departed from his manner.

“I remember the name,” he admitted. “You play tennis, yes. You are fortunate at your age, Mr. Mervyn Amory, to be able to devote your time to your favourite sport.”

“Is it to congratulate me upon my laziness that you invited yourself here?” Mervyn demanded bluntly.

“It was not. It was to ask of you the service which a man who finds himself suddenly in danger is entitled to ask of a sympathetic human being.”

Mervyn was now frankly puzzled. He looked at this strange visitor in amazement.

“But what service could I possibly render you?” he asked. “Why are you driven to ask a service at all of a perfect stranger? And if you are, why select me?”

“A few minutes ago,” the Italian said earnestly, “I remarked that I was not a physiognomist. I lied. I take note always of people’s faces. It is part of the profession into which I have been pushed late in life. I believe you to be a young man of honesty and of courage. I believe, too, that you have all the Englishman’s large-heartedness.”

He unfastened his coat and waistcoat, and drew from some part of his under apparel a packet, sealed at each end, tied with thin gold string, but unaddressed.

“You go to Monte Carlo?” he enquired.

“Yes.”

“Where do you stay?”

“At the Paris.”

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.