Miss Brown of X.Y.O - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Miss Brown of X.Y.O ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

This novel was written in 1926, almost ten years after the Russian revolution. The nature and tragedy of the Soviet revolution and the new regime are clearly described in this novel. The ruthless and deadly power of Soviet communism tries to extend its reach to the Trade Unions of the postwar United Kingdom. The activities of various secret agents, civilian, commercial, military and cultural are described in this book.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 495

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 XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER I

Miss Edith Brown sat on the bottommost of a short flight of steps with her back to an invisible house, gazing into an invisible world. Her left arm she had passed through the iron railing by her side; with her right hand she clutched the handle of her small Corona typewriter case. Everywhere around her was fog–fog of the orange, yellow description, choking, enveloping. For over half an hour she had been wandering about, patient and unafraid as was her habitude, but in a state of complete geographical confusion. How she had found her way into this square she had no idea, but after the hooting of cars almost in her ears, the hoarse shouts of bewildered pedestrians, the muffled turmoil of a great thoroughfare, she was very well content to sit for a few minutes in an atmosphere of peace. It was not for her to know that the quiet which she found so soothing was to be the prelude to storms such as she had never dreamed of, to days of breathless living, to vivid patches of romance, to journeyings in a new and terrifying world. Probably if she could have seen into the closely curtained room a few yards behind her, which she was presently to enter, she would have picked up her neatly packed typewriter and rushed out into the gulf of unsavoury darkness, careless of where she went or how. Or again–perhaps not. Miss Brown, notwithstanding her demure appearance, had suffered all her life from an unprobed spirit of romance.

She sat deliberating upon her whereabouts. The roar in her ears must come, she fancied, from Kensington High Street, the thoroughfare which she had recently quitted, and she must have found her way into one of those secluded and opulent squares lying to the southeast of it. Presently, she decided, she would make another effort towards getting a little nearer to her rooms in Shepherd’s Market, by seeking one of the tubes in the vicinity. Whilst she was making up her mind to start, however, the front door behind her opened, a man groped his way down the steps, and just avoided falling over her. Even in his surprise, he showed the restraint of his class.

“I beg your pardon,” he said quietly. “I didn’t see that any one was there.”

“I hope I’m not a nuisance,” she ventured. “I lost my way in the fog and I was trying to think out where I was.”

“You are quite welcome to sit there, madam,” he assured her.

He was on the point of passing on, when he was suddenly attracted by the sight of the square case she was carrying. He stooped down and looked at it more closely. His face was so near now that it almost touched hers,–the smooth face of the “gentleman’s servant,” with neat collar and black tie. There was something about his expression, however, which denoted underneath the calm exterior a ferment within.

“Is that a typewriter?” he asked quickly.

“It is,” she answered.

“You’re not a typist by any chance, Miss?” he asked again, with a queer note of eagerness in his tone.

“I am,” she admitted. “I have been out doing some work in Kensington, and I am trying to find my way home.”

He leaned over until she was almost afraid. He seemed to be studying her face hungrily. It was an honest face, not without attraction even in that drab background. The man drew a little breath. There was a certain thickness about his speech as though he had been running.

“Will you do some work for a gentleman inside–important work?”

“Certainly,” she assented, welcoming the idea of even a temporary shelter.

“I was going out to try to discover a typewriting office,” he explained. “It is a strange thing that I should find you sitting there. Come in, please.”

She rose to her feet and followed him up the remaining steps. He opened the front door with a latchkey, and closed it again carefully, drawing both bolts. In the hall, with his fingers upon the handle of a door, he paused.

“The gentleman,” he confided, “is ill. That is why there is haste. You won’t be afraid?”

“Of course not,” she answered. “Why should I be?”

Her composure seemed to please him. He ushered her into a room which might have been a library, but which seemed now as though pandemonium had struck it. There were suitcases and gun cases upon the floor, an overturned chair, evidences of some cyclonic disturbance, yet in the background there was plenty of good furniture and two sides of the wall were lined with well-filled bookcases. Upon a sofa near the fire, a man was lying, whose face when she entered was turned from her. In her quiet way, Miss Brown was observant, and two things struck her: first, a cut telephone wire flopping down upon the floor, leaving the instrument with a foot of green cord hanging from the receiver; secondly, a quaint odour which at first she could not place–it reminded her vaguely of fireworks.

“I have found a young lady typist, sir,” her escort announced.

The man upon the sofa turned his head. She had an impression of a long, oval face, the cheek bones a little high, the mouth hard and grim, dark hair and deep-set grey eyes which seemed to be looking her through and through. He was apparently of about forty years of age, of medium height, inclined to be thin, and yet with a suggestion of muscular strength about his attitude and the breadth of his shoulders. His voice, by which she was apt to judge men, failed her. He spoke with difficulty and as though in pain.

“Where did Mergen find you?” he demanded.

“Sitting upon your doorstep,” she replied. “I have been lost in the fog.”

He nodded. The explanation was sufficient.

“You are an expert shorthand writer?”

“I am considered so.”

He leaned over, turned up a lamp by his side and made a gesture to his servant, who touched a further switch which filled the room with light. With a twinge of obvious pain the man raised himself upon his couch.

“Do you mind coming a little nearer?” he invited.

Miss Brown laid her case upon the table and approached the foot of the couch. The suffering man looked at her with an unfathomable expression shining out of his clear eyes–the expression of one who seeks wistfully, hopefully, yet with a deep anxiety. Miss Brown was wearing a brown mackintosh which had seen better days, and a plain little felt hat, suitable for the weather. Her gloves had been mended, her shoes were tidy and her skirts not too short. She had blue eyes, a rather broad forehead and an attractive mouth. Her complexion, except for the presence of an occasional freckle, was unusually fair and delicate. The little wisps of her brown hair, which were standing straight out under her hat, were of an agreeable colour. What seemed to bring relief to the man who was studying her, however, was the fact that her blue eyes met his without once faltering.

“I must know something about you before we begin to work,” he said unexpectedly.

“Do you mean that you want a reference? You can ring up the college where I was trained, or any of my clients–but I see you can’t,” she added, looking at the cut cord.

“I don’t mean that sort of reference at all,” he answered. “I don’t understand your being there–upon my doorstep.”

“It happened just as I told you,” she assured him. “I was trying to find my way home, and the square seemed so quiet and restful I sat down for a moment.”

“You had no idea where you were?” he asked, his eyes demanding the truth.

“Not the slightest in the world.”

He seemed to some extent satisfied. He raised himself a little higher on the couch.

“Understand this, please,” he went on. “I have some dictation of very vital importance which I must give to some one to-night–in case things go wrong with me. You can see that I am ill. The person to whom I give it must not only be trustworthy but she must understand that the fact of her having my notes in her possession may lead her into danger. What sort of a person are you?”

She remained quite patient with him and absolutely composed. Notwithstanding the quietness of her manner, however, her pulses were beating a little faster. She felt a curious tingling in her veins. There was something there behind the screen–the leather screen which sheltered the far side of the room–a man’s leg, the shoe splashed with mud, the bottom of the trouser turned up. She looked away with a shudder. It occurred to her afterwards as extraordinary that she asked no question.

“My name is Brown,” she recounted. “I am an orphan and I share a bed-sitting-room in Shepherd’s Market with a girl who is generally away in the country. I have very good references. I was respectably brought up, I know that I am honest, and I am sure that I am trustworthy. I have had work of some importance given to me from time to time.”

“Do you mind taking a risk?” he asked eagerly. “If you do this work for me it may change many things in your life. You will be well paid, but you may have to give up everything else for a time. You may even have to hide.”

“Is it honest work?” she ventured.

“I am not a thief or a criminal, if that is what you mean,” he assured her. “You won’t break any laws by working for me. It will be the lawbreakers you will have to fear. My name is Dessiter–Colonel Dessiter.”

“The explorer?” she exclaimed.

“Yes.”

She unfastened her mackintosh, hung it tidily over the back of her chair and produced her notebook. Any hesitation which she may have felt had vanished.

“I should like to undertake any work of yours,” she said. “I am ready to begin now.”

“You won’t mind if it brings you a certain amount of trouble, perhaps–I must make you understand this–of danger?” he persisted.

She was already establishing herself, and had drawn her chair a little closer to him. Without her mackintosh, he saw that she was very neatly dressed in a plain one-piece gown of blue serge, that her throat was pleasantly white, and that her figure was slimmer and daintier than it had seemed under the enveloping mackintosh.

“I am not afraid of anything in life,” she assured him, smiling very quietly for the first time. “At least, that is perhaps not quite true. I am afraid sometimes, when every day is exactly like the others, of becoming discontented. I don’t understand, of course, what you mean, whether you are trying to frighten me or not. I don’t see how just taking down what you want me to type for you can lead me into any sort of danger here in London. However, even if it should, I am perfectly willing to do it all the same.”

The man upon the sofa gave a sigh of satisfaction. His eyes rested upon her for a moment appreciatively. With her stylo pen in her fingers, her book with its virgin pages stretched out flat before her, her lips a little puckered, her eyes fixed expectantly upon him, she possessed an air of complete efficiency, the air of a woman alike capable and well poised.

“I have been very fortunate,” he said, “that you chose to rest upon my doorstep. Whether you will think yourself equally fortunate in days to come or not, I do not know. At least you will not be bored. Please take down.”

As her pen moved, Miss Brown felt unsuspected depths within her being respond to a new and growing sense of excitement. She realised for the first time, as one after the other she turned over the pages, the starvation of her simple life. It was romance for which she had craved, the stir of life lived for other purposes than successful commerce or politics of the County Council type. She felt around her the glow of the world of which sometimes in her happiest moments she had had faint, shadowy dreams born only to vanish like spring clouds. The blood began to tingle in her veins. Never once did her confident pen flag. Occasionally he tested her.

“Please repeat that sentence.”

In each case she repeated it faultlessly. To her own ears, her voice sounded unemotional. The man on the couch knew better. He felt the response in her to the drama of that strange world into which she was passing at his bidding. Once his voice faltered, a grey pallor crept almost to his eyes. He stretched out his hand for the tumbler which stood by his side, and drained its contents.

“Would you like me to ring?” she asked compassionately, but without any signs of flurry.

He shook his head. His slight movement had disclosed something which for a moment had made her fingers shake. There was a rough bandage under his coat, a stain on the left side. She closed her eyes. When she opened them again it was forgotten.

“I am all right,” he declared. “At least I shall be until I have finished with you. You’re not–getting nervy?”

She smiled across at him reassuringly.

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.

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.