Murder of the Nineth Baronet - J.S. Fletcher - ebook
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Stephen Maxtondale summoned two detectives to investigate the disappearance of the man who claimed to be his lost older brother. The victim appears in the family of Stephen, 30 years old, but then disappears again. One of the reasons for the robbery is the sacrifice of the victim. Can detectives find the victim?

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Liczba stron: 318

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Contents

CHAPTER I. GONE!—BUT WHERE?

CHAPTER II. SEDBURY MANOR

CHAPTER III. MRS. ROBBINS TALKS

CHAPTER IV. THE UNCURTAINED WINDOW

CHAPTER V. DUTCHMAN’S CUT

CHAPTER VI. THE SUSPECT DISAPPEARS

CHAPTER VII. DIAMONDS!

CHAPTER VIII. THE RESTAURANT CAR

CHAPTER IX. POWER OF THE PRESS

CHAPTER X. THE PANAMA HAT

CHAPTER XI. THE SERVANTS’ HALL

CHAPTER XII. WARRINER’S WHARF

CHAPTER XIII. MALMESBURY MANSIONS

CHAPTER XIV. THE NIGHT-CLUB

CHAPTER XV. CONSULTATION AND REVELATION

CHAPTER XVI. THE TWO TELEGRAMS

CHAPTER XVII. LADY SYBIL’S BRIDGE

CHAPTER XVIII. BATTY ONCE MORE

CHAPTER XIX. THE CORONER TAKES OVER

CHAPTER XX. THE SAW

CHAPTER XXI. MR. PILSEY’S SHOP

CHAPTER XXII. BLOODHOUNDS

CHAPTER XXIII. THE AMBASSADOR’S CUPBOARD

CHAPTER XXIV. BOLTED, BARRED, SHUTTERED

CHAPTER XXV. GRANDMOTHER’S BUREAU

CHAPTER I. GONE!–BUT WHERE?

Chaney and I first heard of the mysterious disappearance of Sir John Maxtondale on the morning of May 15, 1923. About half past nine o’clock, just as we were settling down to a discussion of our day’s business (in which, as it happened, there was nothing of any particular importance), Chippendale came into our room and announced Mr. Ellerthorpe. We knew Mr. Ellerthorpe; he was a well-known solicitor of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, having a considerable practice amongst county families, and we had occasionally done business with him. Up to that time, however, it had never been of any serious nature; none of its occasions, certainly, would have caused Mr. Ellerthorpe to present himself in person at our offices at that early hour of the forenoon, and hearing that he was there, we glanced at each other and at Chippendale with questioning eyes.

“He’s got a gentleman with him,” added Chippendale. “Swell!”

That was Chippendale’s way; he always sized up any stranger before approaching us as to entry.

“Bring them in,” said Chaney.

Mr. Ellerthorpe entered–hurriedly. He was a little inclined to be fussy, and he lost no time in wheeling round and indicating his companion, a tall, elderly man of the country-gentleman type, who looked at us and our surroundings with a detached, speculative air.

“Morning, morning!” began Mr. Ellerthorpe. “Glad to find you here–both. This is very urgent, important business. Allow me–Sir Stephen Maxtondale.”

We made our obeisances to Sir Stephen Maxtondale. Chaney rose from his desk and placed chairs.

“Yes, Mr. Ellerthorpe,” he said, resuming his own. “What is it?”

“Sir Stephen,” replied Mr. Ellerthorpe, “is a client of mine–a very old client. He came up to town last night to consult me. What he wished to consult me about–and did consult me about–is, well, a mystery! I am no good at the solution of mysteries–not in my line. So–”

“You came to us, Mr. Ellerthorpe,” said Chaney. “Well–and the mystery?”

Mr. Ellerthorpe glanced at his client. But Sir Stephen made no response.

“Well,” continued Mr. Ellerthorpe, “the fact is, it is a case of disappearance. Of–of somebody vanishing. Clean gone!”

“Yes?” said Chaney. “And–who is it that is clean gone?”

“Ah!” exclaimed Mr. Ellerthorpe. “Now, to give a really truthful reply to that question is beyond me! Not possible, at present. At–present, you understand? May be possible later. But–well, the disappearance is that of a–a person who says he is Sir John Maxtondale, elder brother of Sir Stephen.”

“Says?” questioned Chaney. “But–is he?”

Mr. Ellerthorpe and Sir Stephen Maxtondale exchanged glances.

“Er–he might be,” admitted Mr. Ellerthorpe. “Might!”

Chaney reached to a shelf at the side of his desk and took down a copy of the current Who’s Who. Silently he turned over its pages and presently looked up at Sir Stephen.

“I see you are the ninth holder of the title–the baronetcy?” he said.

“Yes,” replied Sir Stephen.

“Then–supposing this man of whom Mr. Ellerthorpe speaks to be what he claims to be–where does he come in?” asked Chaney.

“He would be the ninth,” replied Sir Stephen. He hesitated a moment. “If–if he is really what he says he is, he is the ninth baronet! I–in that case–have no claim. You see–”

He hesitated again, obviously at a loss. But, no one making any observation or asking a question, he went on:

“You see, we don’t know whether he ever did succeed or not. I mean, I don’t know if he succeeded his father–”

“Your father?” interrupted Chaney.

“Exactly! Perhaps I had better explain? The whole thing is a bit muddling to anyone not conversant–”

“That would be excellent, Sir Stephen. If you can make things clear–”

“Well, it’s like this. My father, Sir William Maxtondale, the eighth holder of the title, had two sons, my elder brother, John, and myself, Stephen. When John was about twenty-five years of age, and I three years younger, he had a very serious quarrel with my father; so serious that he left home–”

“A moment, Sir Stephen,” interrupted Chaney. “I am making mental notes–so, too, is my partner, Mr. Camberwell. Let us have all the details clear. By home, you mean your place in Warwickshire–Heronswood Park? Very well–now, what was the cause of the difference between your father and your brother?”

“This!” continued Sir Stephen. “John had fallen in love with, and wanted to marry, the daughter of one of our tenant farmers. My father positively forbade this match and no doubt threatened my brother with all sorts of dire consequences if he persisted in his intentions. So–”

“Again a moment. The estates–were they entailed?”

“No! They were absolutely at my father’s disposal.”

“Then he could have penalized your brother pretty heavily?”

“Yes, but since his coming of age John had been quite independent of my father. Our maternal grandfather had left him a lot of money, and in addition to that he had inherited my mother’s private fortune. He was well off.”

“Could–from a monetary point of view–do as he liked, eh?”

“Exactly. And–he did! As I say, he left home–for good. Disappeared!–without a word to anyone.”

“And the girl?”

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