Mr. Marx’s Secret - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Mr. Marx’s Secret ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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This is another adventure Oppenheim thriller written in 1899. When Phillip Morton is eight years old, his father is pushed off the edge of a slate quarry. A servant from the local castle is suspected. Ten years later, by chance, Phillip meets the lord of the local castle, the scholar and adventurer Ravenor. On a whim, Ravenor offers to pay for Phillip’s further education if Phillip will befriend his wayward nephew. Phillip meets Mr. Marx, Lord Ravenor’s secretary, and is both attracted and repelled by him. Mysterious pasts, lonely castle, family secrets, evil adventurers, dissolute youths, disguises and madness... a little of everything, including lovely ladies. The hero Philip Morton doesn’t know who to trust. Very enjoyable and escapist as many characters live in extreme luxury.

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Liczba stron: 387

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Contents

CHAPTER I. NEWS FROM THE PACIFIC.

CHAPTER II. MR. FRANCIS.

CHAPTER III. THE MURDER AT THE SLATE-PITS.

CHAPTER IV. MY MOTHER’S WARNING.

CHAPTER V. RAVENOR OF RAVENOR.

CHAPTER VI. A DOUBTFUL VISITOR.

CHAPTER VII. A MEETING AND A METAMORPHOSIS.

CHAPTER VIII. AN ABODE OF MYSTERY.

CHAPTER IX. MR. MARX.

CHAPTER X. LADY SILCHESTER.

CHAPTER XI. THE CRY IN THE AVENUE.

CHAPTER XII. A DARK CORNER IN THE AVENUE.

CHAPTER XIII. THE CLOUD BETWEEN US.

CHAPTER XIV. A MEETING IN THE COFFEE-ROOM.

CHAPTER XV. A TÊTE-À-TÊTE DINNER.

CHAPTER XVI. MISS MABEL FAY.

CHAPTER XVII. BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE TORCHESTER THEATRE.

CHAPTER XVIII. AT MIDNIGHT ON THE MOOR.

CHAPTER XIX. A STRANGE ATTACK.

CHAPTER XX. THE MONASTERY AMONG THE HILLS.

CHAPTER XXI. A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAD.

CHAPTER XXII. FOR LIFE.

CHAPTER XXIII. MY GUARDIAN.

CHAPTER XXIV. MY FIRST DINNER PARTY.

CHAPTER XXV. MR. MARX’S WARNING.

CHAPTER XXVI. A LOST PHOTOGRAPH.

CHAPTER XXVII. LEONARD DE CARTIENNE.

CHAPTER XXVIII. “AS ROME DOES.”

CHAPTER XXIX. A DINNER-PARTY SUB ROSA.

CHAPTER XXX. ECARTÉ WITH MR. FOTHERGILL.

CHAPTER XXXI. A STARTLING DISCOVERY.

CHAPTER XXXII. FORESTALLED.

CHAPTER XXXIII. A GLEAM OF LIGHT.

CHAPTER XXXIV. DR. SCHOFIELD’S OPINION.

CHAPTER XXXV. AN INVITATION.

CHAPTER XXXVI. A METAMORPHOSIS.

CHAPTER XXXVII. MR. MARX IS WANTED.

CHAPTER XXXVIII. I ACCEPT A MISSION.

CHAPTER XXXIX. MY RIDE.

CHAPTER XL. MY MISSION.

CHAPTER XLI. THE COUNT DE CARTIENNE.

CHAPTER XLII. NEWS OF MR. MARX.

CHAPTER XLIII. ABOUT TOWN.

CHAPTER XLIV. A MIDNIGHT EXCURSION TO THE SUBURBS.

CHAPTER XLV. A MYSTERIOUS COMMISSION.

CHAPTER XLVI. A BRUSH WITH THE POLICE.

CHAPTER XLVII. LIGHT AT LAST.

CHAPTER XLVIII. A PAGE OF HISTORY.

CHAPTER XLIX. I WILL GO ALONE.

CHAPTER L. I MEET MY FATHER.

CHAPTER LI. DAWN.

CHAPTER LII. WHERE IS MR. MARX?

CHAPTER LIII. MESSRS. HIGGENSON AND CO.

CHAPTER LIV. A RAID.

CHAPTER LV. THE MYSTERY OF MR. MARX.

CHAPTER LVI. THE END OF IT.

I. NEWS FROM THE PACIFIC

My home was a quaint, three-storeyed, ivy-clad farmhouse in a Midland county. It lay in a hollow, nestled close up against Rothland Wood, the dark, close-growing trees of which formed a picturesque background to the worn greystone whereof it was fashioned.

In front, just across the road, was the boundary-wall of Ravenor Park, with its black fir spinneys, huge masses of lichen-covered rock, clear fish- ponds, and breezy hills, from the summits of which were visible the sombre grey towers of Ravenor Castle, standing out with grim, rugged boldness against the sky.

Forbidden ground though it was, there was not a yard of the park up to the inner boundary fence which I did not know; not a spinney where I had not searched for birds’ nests or raided in quest of the first primrose; not a hill on which I had not spent some part of a summer afternoon.

I was a trespasser, of course; but I was the son of Farmer Morton, an old tenant on the estate, and much in favour with the keepers, by reason of a famous brew which he was ever ready to offer a thirsty man, or to drink himself. So “Morton’s young ‘un” was unmolested; and, save for an occasional good-humoured warning from Crooks, the head-gamekeeper, during breeding-time, I had the run of the place.

Moreover, the great estates of which Ravenor Park was the centre knew at that time no other master than a lawyer of non-sporting proclivities, so the preserves were only looked after as a matter of form.

I was eight years old, and an unusually hot summer was at its height. It was past midday, and I had just come out from the house, with the intention of settling down for an afternoon’s reading in a shady corner of the orchard. I had reached the stack-yard gate when I stopped short, my hand upon the fastening.

A most unusual sound was floating across the meadows, through the breathless air. The church-bells of Rothland, the village on the other side of the wood, had suddenly burst out into a wild, clashing peal of joy.

In a country district everybody knows everyone else’s business; and, child though I was, I knew that no marriage was taking place anywhere near.

I stood listening in wonderment, for I had never heard such a thing before; and, while I was lingering, the bells from Annerley, a village a little farther away, and the grand, mellow-sounding chimes from the chapel at Ravenor Castle, breaking the silence of many years, took up the peal, and the lazy summer day seemed all of a sudden to wake up into a state of unaccountable delight.

I ran back towards the house and met my mother standing in the cool stone porch. The men about the farm were all grouped together, wondering. No one had the least idea of what had happened.

And then Jim Harrison, the waggoner, who had just come in from the home meadow, called out quickly, pointing with his finger; and far away, along the white, dusty road, we could see the figure of a man on horseback riding towards us at a furious gallop.

“It be the master!” he cried, excitedly. “It be the master, for sure! There bean’t no mistaking Brown Bess’s gallop. Lord-a-mercy! how ‘e be a-riding her!”

We all trooped out on to the road to meet my father, eager to hear the news. In a few moments he reached us, and brought Brown Bess to a standstill, bathed in sweat and dust, and quivering in every limb.

“Hurrah, lads!” he shouted, waving his whip above his head. “Hurrah! There never was such a bit o’ news as I’ve got for you! All Mellborough be gone crazy about it!”

“What is it, George? Why don’t you tell us?” my mother asked quickly. And, to my surprise, her hand, in which mine was resting, was as cold as ice, notwithstanding the August heat.

He raised himself in his stirrups and shouted so that all might hear:

“Squire Ravenor be come to life again! They ‘a’ found him on an island in the Pacific, close against the coral reef where his yacht went down six years ago! He’s on his way home again, lads. Think of that! Sal, lass, bring us up a gallon of ale and another after it. We’ll drink to his homecoming, lads!”

There was a burst of applause and many exclamations of wonder. My mother’s hand had moved, as though unconsciously, to my shoulder, and she was leaning heavily upon me.

“Where did you hear this, George?” she asked, in a subdued tone.

“Why, it be in all the London papers this morning,” he answered, taking off his hat and wiping his forehead. “The steamer that’s bringing him home ‘a’ sent a message from some foreign port, and Lawyer Cox he’s got one, and it’s all written up large on the walls of the Corn Exchange. I reckon it’ll make those deuced lawyers sit up!” chuckled my father, as he slowly dismounted.

“Lord-a-mercy! Only to think on it! Six year on a little bit o’ an island, and not a living soul to speak a word to! And now he’s on his way home again. It beats all story-telling I ever heerd on. Why, Alice, lass, it ‘a’ quite upset you,” he added, looking anxiously at my mother. “You’re all white and scared-like. Dost feel badly?”

She was standing with her back to us and when she turned round it seemed to me that a change had crept into her face.

“It is the heat and excitement,” she said quietly. “This is strange news. I think that I will go in and rest.”

“All right, lass! Get thee indoors and lie down for a bit. Now, then, lads. Hurrah for the squire and long life to him! Pour it out, Jim–pour it out! Don’t be afraid on it. Such news as this don’t coom every day.”

And, with the vision of my stalwart yeoman father, the centre of a little group of farm-labourers, holding his foaming glass high above his head, and his honest face ruddy with heat and excitement, my memories of this scene grow dim and fade away.

II. MR. FRANCIS

I was alone with my father in the kitchen, and he was looking as I had never seen him look before. It was late in the afternoon–as near as I can remember, about six weeks after the news had reached us of Mr. Ravenor’s wonderful adventures. He had just come in for tea, flushed with toil and labouring in the hot sun. But as he stood on the flags before me, reading a letter which had been sent up from the village, the glow seemed to die out from his face and his strong, rough hands trembled.

“It’s a lie!” I heard him mutter to himself, in a hoarse whisper–“a wicked lie!”

Then he sank back in one of the high-backed chairs and I watched him, frightened.

“Philip, lad,” he said to me, speaking slowly, and yet with a certain eagerness in his tone, “has your mother had any visitors lately whilst I ‘a’ been out on the farm?”

I shook my head.

“No one, except Mr. Francis,” I added doubtfully.

He groaned and hid his face for a moment.

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