Mr. Mirakel - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

Mr. Mirakel ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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Mr. Mirakel” is the last novel written by E. Phillips Oppenheim in 1943. Marquis Roderigo de Cordovina is leaving his Portuguese estates in Lisbon because he is being pressured to join the German military and command a mechanical battalion. He meets Miss Anne Strangeways in the seaplane terminal. The two board an airboat for London. Shortly thereafter, they meet again at the home of Princess Rosina Di Gomez who is the niece of the Portuguese Ambassador. At this point the plot changes to encompass the arrival of Mr. Mirakel, a mysterious, wealthy, well-connected personage who insinuates himself in the company. Thereafter, the book becomes a strange fantasy about a remote land of tropical perfection where war, and rumors of war, are unknown!

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Liczba stron: 333

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Contents

PART ONE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

PART TWO

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

PART ONE

CHAPTER I

Mademoiselle was seated at the extreme end of an ornate but crudely fashioned wooden bench very near the corner of the seafront at Cintra. Monsieur had been seated in thoughtful silence a dozen feet away for some time. There came a moment, however, when he rose slowly to his feet and, with a little bow and his hat in his hand, addressed her. It was the first time that the silence had been broken between them. Perhaps that was as well, for they were strangers.

“Mademoiselle,” he began.

Mademoiselle half rose to her feet with an indignant little flutter of her skirt and an angry frown. “Mademoiselle will pardon me,” he continued, speaking English, but with an accent which pronounced his southern nationality.

“Mademoiselle,” she interrupted coldly, “will not be in the humour to pardon anything in the nature of an impertinence.”

“That reduces me almost to despair,” the young man lamented. “What is there that I can do? Would it be considered too great an impertinence if I were to point out to Mademoiselle that some two or three minutes ago she dropped her purse out of her bag, since when its contents have been slowly filtering their way into the sand? If they become buried,” he continued, looking fixedly at a point very near the toe of his companion’s elegant shoe, “and if Mademoiselle does not collect her belongings in a few moments, they will sink into the sand.”

Of course, Monsieur had won the silent battle, as she had begun to look upon it, of the last ten minutes. She looked disconsolately down. It was as her neighbour had pointed out. Her small gold purse lay between the chinks of the seat rest, upside-down. There were coins glittering through its interstices, and a little bundle of notes was in a precarious position.

“So that was what you were so uneasy about?” she asked in a slightly milder tone.

“It was,” he assented.

“I owe you my apologies and my thanks,” she said with very reserved graciousness. “Please allow me to pick these up for myself. I would not dream of troubling you, Monsieur–indeed, I beg of you.”

She waved him away and continued to pick up a very considerable sum reckoned in Portuguese money, replacing it carefully, the notes in her bag, the coins in her purse. She shook them down and rose to her feet.

“I thank you very much, Monsieur,” she said.

He bowed without a word and waited for her intimated retreat. At the last moment, however, she hesitated. He remained standing, not at all an unpleasant picture of a young man who had been engaged in a purely courteous action.

“I think,” she said, “I should offer you an apology. I came out from the Casino feeling the heat very much, in search of fresh air, and solitude.”

“Mademoiselle,” he assured her with a pleasant smile, “nothing in the world would have induced me to disturb you but for the fact that I feared you might lose your money more quickly and even more inevitably than inside the building.”

“One is not always the loser,” she answered, returning his smile. “I myself gain frequently.”

“Mademoiselle has the chance.”

“I wish to offer you my thanks, sir. To whom shall I address them?”

He bowed slightly.

“To Roderigo di Cordovina, Mademoiselle. It is with so much of my name only that I will burden you.

“There is much more?” she enquired with slightly upraised eyebrows.

“Mademoiselle,” he answered, “I possess a long list of thoughtless ancestors who, without divining the encumbrance they would be to me, left behind them names of many syllables which even I have learnt to handle with difficulty. Not for anything in the world would I encumber a young lady of such attractions with their memory.”

She looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. He was quite content to be studied, for with his olive complexion, his deep brown eyes and his very pleasant smile, he was by no means repulsive to look at. Mademoiselle, too, had charm, although for the part of the world in which she found herself she was of somewhat neutral colouring. She nodded thoughtfully.

“You are very good at this sort of thing,” she observed.

“Yes?” he asked interrogatively.

“At the bandying of words.”

“A forerunner, I trust, of a better acquaintance.”

She laughed outright, a healthy Anglo-Saxon girl’s laugh, showing flashing white teeth, and a distinct dimple which betrayed a great inclination to take part in the festivities.

“I would beg for some more of your name,” she confided, “but you see–your attention is required elsewhere.”

She indicated the very correctly attired young messenger in livery who was waiting in the background with a note in his hand, which he at once handed over to the young man. The latter bowed his thanks to the young lady, received the note, tore open the envelope and glanced through its contents. They appeared to afford him a certain amount of satisfaction.

“You will tell the Captain,” he directed, handing across to the messenger what seemed to be a magnificent pourboire, “that I have received the note and that I shall be there.”

The young lady hesitated as she turned away.

“Your news, I trust, is good?” she enquired.

“It would be good,” he assured her, “but it is spoilt by your departure.”

She shook her head.

“No more,” she decided. “You are too glib for me, Monsieur. Thank you for showing me my purse.”

“And may I be permitted to hope, perhaps,” he added with a little bow, “that we meet again?”

Mademoiselle’s expression was by no means forbidding, but she made no reply. She walked towards the Casino and disappeared.

The young man of many names read over his note again, turned towards the line of waiting automobiles, and lifted his finger. In a few minutes he was on his way to Lisbon.

CHAPTER II

Somewhere about the grim hour of half-past two the following morning, there was a certain amount of commotion in the huge barnlike structure which serves as the departure shed of the Imperial Airways planes in Lisbon. There had been a change in the weather outside; the wind had dropped, the rain had almost ceased. A shrill whistle was heard echoing through that gloomy building from one of the quays. A tall young man in naval uniform hurried down the steps from the pilot’s quarters. He carried a few passports in his hand. A little crowd of people was seated round the departure shed, some of them nervously hanging on to their baggage, others drinking tea or coffee which they were able to procure from the stall, a few watching with tired eyes and listening for the signal which so seldom came. The pilot looked round him, shook his head at nearly everyone who approached, handed over their passports to two or three Americans, and also with a little bow and marked signs of respect handed one to the young man of many names who had been seated on the bench at Cintra on the previous afternoon.

“Shall we get away, pilot?” the latter asked.

“Nothing that I can see to prevent it, sir,” was the quiet reply. “The wind has gone down and the tide is on the turn already. We sent your baggage down half an hour ago.”

The young man nodded his thanks and lit a cigarette. He was on the point of taking his departure when he felt a touch upon his arm and a familiar voice in his ear. It was a familiar voice, yet he could not remember for the moment where he had heard it before. The slim, tall figure in a warm travelling coat and an impenetrable veil who was addressing him was surely a stranger.

“Monsieur le Marquis,” she repeated pleadingly.

He suddenly realized the identity of the young woman who stood by his side. Her manner was very much changed, though, since the morning. Her eyes were full of anxiety and the colour had left her cheeks.

“Mademoiselle!” he exclaimed, hat in hand.

“You have been given your passport, you leave by this boat?”

“Yes, I believe so,” he answered. “The pilot has just told me to get on board. The note that I had at Cintra was from him.”

“Monsieur,” she went on, and her voice also seemed to have changed altogether since the morning, “you have priority, of course? You have influence here?”

“Very little,” he answered. “Some, perhaps.”

“Could you procure for me permission to cross by this flying boat?” she asked eagerly. “I have my ticket, but no priority. Everything is paid for, my baggage is on the seat there. It would be a great and wonderful benefit for me if I could leave Lisbon tonight.”

He looked at her in some embarrassment.

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