Seven Faces. A Mystery - Max Brand - ebook

Seven Faces. A Mystery ebook

Max Brand

0,0

Opis

Rival police detectives Angus Campbell and Patrick O’Rourke find themselves working together to locate the millionaire who disappeared while under their protection on a train bound for Chicago. Manhattan millionaire John Cobb has been receiving threatening letters, and so leaves for Chicago, hoping that by hopping the night-train he’ll escape from his anonymous ill-wisher. Assigned as guards, Campbell and O’Rourke go along. When, after signing his $15 million will over to his cousin, Cobb disappears from his Pullman, Campbell and O’Rourke must check the train for their missing charge. He’s not on the train, though, and not in Buffalo, so they scour Chicago - and, as it happens, mean old Cobb has enemies galore from some slick deals he’s pulled.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 304

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

I. LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

II. TELEGRAM FOR MISS WORTH

III. MEETING IN THE NIGHT

IV. LOCKED DOOR

V. VANISHED!

VI. THE MAN IN THE ALCOVE

VII. SEVEN FACES

VIII. ONE OF THE HUNTED

IX. ENTER PETE

X. REPORT TO CORRIGAN

XI. THIRD DEGREE

XII. OUTSMARTED

XIII. TWENTY MINUTES IN BUFFALO

XIV. YELLOWED PAPER

XV. NAMES

XVI. TRUCE?

XVII. POT-SHOT

XVIII. TOO MANY CLUES

XIX. O’ROURKE CEMENTS A FRIENDSHIP

XX. OLD FRIENDS

XXI. EQUAL SHARES

XXII. ESCAPE BY AIR

XXIII. WARNING

XXIV. REUNION

XXV. SETTING A STAGE

XXVI. CONFERENCE BY DURESS

XXVII. LATIMER TREADS SOFTLY

XXVIII. GATHERING OF A CLAN

XXIX. OIL AND WATER

XXX. INVASION

XXXI. MURDER IN THE HOUSE

XXXII. MORE GAME

XXXIII. GETAWAY

XXIV. COMMON GROUND

XXXV. SHARES

I. LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

INSPECTOR HENRY CORRIGAN of the New York Police Department missed his lunch and was late for dinner. Inspectors are expected to take such things in their stride. It is supposed that when a man rises to such a high place, he will be nourished by glory. The inspector did not feel nourished, and for hours the frown had been cutting deeper and deeper between his eyes until its blackness entered his brain. So, when the telephone call came in, he snatched up the instrument and snarled into it. His voice smoothed out when he heard the name.

‘All right. Put him on,’ he said. And then: ‘Hello, Mister Cobb. What’s the matter? Have you had another letter? I tell you what. Mister Cobb, people who write letters are usually too yellow to be dangerous. Speak up, man. The telephone isn’t going to shoot you, and there’s nobody listening in… Why to Chicago? Will Chicago be any safer for you than New York? What you ought to do is to come into town and put up in some big hotel. You need to have lights and people around you. How can you know that you’ll be murdered tonight…? Damned nonsense. Mister Cobb. I can’t do it. The city of New York can’t assign bodyguards to travelers. Wait a moment…! Two of my men are going to Chicago on a bit of work, and they may as well go now. Yes, yes, yes. Mister Cobb. The two of them together make the best man in the department. If you’re going to take the late train to Chicago, they’ll meet you at the gate. What will you wear? Mister Cobb, I can’t guarantee anything except that Campbell and O’Rourke together will do a great many things that no other man would think of. Good bye.’

A moment later the inspector was ringing Detective Angus Campbell, saying: ‘You start for Chicago on the ten thirty-five. You have to give testimony on that Rand-Weston case, and you might as well do it now… Yes, O’Rourke will go along with you. Get in touch with him at once. There will be a man to meet at the station, at the gate to the train. His name is John Cobb. He’ll be wearing a black overcoat and a black hat. Medium height, sallow face, short, black mustache. Rather thin fellow. The fool has an idea that someone is going to murder him tonight, and he’s running all the way to Chicago. Keep an eye on him. I don’t care what you want, Campbell… I’m telling you that you have to go with O’Rourke. Come here to the office on your way to the train and get a note from me introducing you two to John Cobb. Good bye.’

The inspector, not a man given to making foolish statements, was nevertheless wrong when he asserted that no one had listened in on his conversation with Cobb for, at this moment, the officer at the switchboard on the lower floor of the building was speaking softly into the big receiver which was strapped around his chest and projected in front of his face: ‘Hello! That you? John Cobb is on the run. Taking the ten thirty-five for Chicago. Two detectives are going along on the same train with the inspector’s orders to keep a close eye on him. One is Patrick O’Rourke. American Irish. Fat and red-faced. Always chewing a cigar, when he isn’t smoking one. Looks good natured. You’ll spot him easily. The other is Angus Campbell. Scotch as you find ‘em. Thin, shoulders a little stooped. Sour looking. That’s it. I don’t know just what your game is, madame, but you’d better keep your hands off when O’Rourke and Campbell are around. Separate they’re not much but, when they’re together, they hate each other so much that they grind one another sharp as razors. That’s all I can say, except that John Cobb will be wearing a black hat and a black coat. Good bye.’

*     *

*

The crowd entering the Grand Central at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Forty-Second was thickly compacted, weighted with luggage, but Charles Latimer went through the mass like a bull moose overstepping shrubbery. He had about him the bulk of a tackle and the light step of a half-back. The loose tweeds were no more than a brownish mist over Latimer’s strength, and the heavy brogans could not weight his feet. Men looked twice when they saw Latimer’s back, the coat creasing a bit between the shoulder blades. Women looked twice when they saw his face. Only a sea wind, one felt, could have blown the brown so deep beneath the skin. He was a smiling fellow, not handsome but good to look at. Only when the smile stopped, something about him changed. Wood is kind to the touch; steel is grim stuff to handle. When Latimer stopped smiling, the sympathy went out of his face and left one aware of cold eyes and the broad, stubborn strength of his jaw. People who saw him on a gay evening hardly could recognize him as the same man the next morning.

When he came down the steps into the marble shimmer of the great room, under that wide dome with its curve as effortless as the sweep of the sky, he moved more slowly. For the man in the black hat and the black overcoat was being joined by two fellows near the information stand. He spoke to them with jerky nods of the head and went on with his coat collar high about his face, and his hat still pulled low. The pair, one fat and comfortable and one with the uneasy leanness of a hunting hound, fell a step behind the other and seemed to exchange glances before they proceeded briskly after him. Latimer followed them with his eyes as far as the gate of the Chicago train, then he went to the ticket window.

A girl came hurrying into the waiting line just ahead of him. Her porter stood with folded arms nearby, resting in every line. The girl herself was too pretty to be true. Too pretty to be good, was Latimer’s inward phrasing, for he felt that the Creator would not lavish on a wife and mother such excess care in modeling. Eyes, for instance, are surely made to see with not merely to be seen. She was accustomed as a moving picture star or a stage favorite to the admiration of men, so that when she turned a little and found his eyes on her, her own glance blanked him out of the picture and moved calmly away.

Latimer stopped smiling and grinned.

*     *

*

Penn Station is dreary, grand, and gray. Gay wall painting cannot relieve its gloom, and all the clustering lights cannot lift its mood above that of London in the smoky murk of a fog. But Grand Central is bright, confused, charming. And everyone who takes a train from it seems bound for a happy destination. The big, resonant spaces absorb voices. Even an Englishman will speak out loud in Grand Central Station because the noise filters away as though into the dreaminess of a summer’s day. The two detectives who walked half a pace behind the man in the black coat did not utter a word either to him or to each other. Patrick O’Rourke, with a cigar fuming under the red whiskey veins of his nose, kept his hands in his overcoat pockets and stared straight before him. Skinny Angus Campbell, to whom the fumes of the cheap cigar were wafting, turned an eye as bright and cold as winter towards his companion. The porter who carried the luggage of the man in black staggered, with sagging knees, in the rear. He had heavy suitcases in each hand and smaller valises under the pressure of his elbows. It was a mule load of clumsy weight, but no one pitied him as he struggled forward, trying to go swiftly in an effort to finish his agony sooner.

The man in black stopped short, hunching his coat up around his shoulders. ‘That’s the car,’ he said. ‘I’ve got the drawing room in there. One of you go on ahead, please.’

‘And look for what, Mister Cobb?’ asked Campbell. ‘Rattlesnakes, or men with machine guns?’

‘For goodness sake, one of you go first!’ Cobb repeated.

‘All right,’ said Campbell and walked into the car.

Patrick O’Rourke came a little closer to Cobb. As he spoke, he kept the cigar in the corner of his mouth, the fat of his lips stretching to accommodate speech, and the stench of the cigar fuming out in puffs toward Cobb. ‘Mister Cobb,’ he said, ‘if you wanta get everybody looking at you, just keep that hat pulled down over your eyes and the coat hoisted up around your ears. Anybody could see that you’re either sick or scared that somebody will see you.’

‘Sick! That’s the thing I want to look,’ said Cobb. If they see my face…!’

‘If who sees your face?’ asked O’Rourke.

‘They. They,’ muttered Cobb vaguely. He fell into a coughing fit and then went on angrily, his husky voice subdued by a wheeze in his throat: ‘If I knew who they were, wouldn’t I have set the police on them? Sick. It’s got to seem that I’m sick.’

Here he took O’Rourke’s arm and leaned on it.

‘My soul, man,’ protested Cobb, choking and coughing again, ‘when you smoke cigars, can’t you buy the ones that are made of tobacco?’

O’Rourke endured the insult with the calm of a fat man and puffed contentedly. ‘Cigars are like life,’ he observed. ‘What you get used to is what you want. What the hell is scaring you so much anyway, Mister Cobb?’

‘They’re going to murder me!’ cried Cobb. ‘I’ll be a dead man before morning, O’Rourke. Don’t stand there like a senseless lump of fat. Look at the last letter.’

He dragged from his pocket a small square of brown paper on which were a few typed words:

I’m coming for you the night of the fifteenth or before sunrise of the sixteenth, Cobb. Make your soul ready.

O’Rourke handed the paper to Campbell, who had just returned from the car. Campbell gave it a glance, snorted through his thin, pinched nose, and gave it back to Cobb.

‘How is it inside?’ asked Cobb anxiously, putting out a gloved hand towards Campbell.

‘Why, they might all be murderers,’ said Campbell. They got the look. I never seen anybody getting ready for bed that didn’t look like a murderer. Take the collar and tie off any man and he looks ready to slog somebody on the head or stick a knife in the back.’

Cobb groaned and lifted his hand to his face, rubbing nervously at a tuft of black mustache.

‘Shall we go in?’ he asked.

An astonishingly pretty girl went by with the flowing step of a dancer. Her porter followed, two bags battering around his knees.

‘Who’s that?’ demanded Cobb in a whisper. ‘I’ve seen her somewhere. Who is she?’

‘Likely from Hollywood,’ said O’Rourke, ‘and a first name something like Sylvia, or Rose, or Myrtle. She looks like one of the ones, all right.’

A big man in brownish tweeds, making the solid burden of a pigskin suitcase light in his left hand, went by with a quiet side glance that took in the group of three. He continued making his way down the platform.

‘Why did he look at me?’ asked Cobb. ‘Who is that?’

‘That’s Timberline Bill from the Rockies,’ said O’Rourke. ‘He eats a fried Mexican three times a week for his liver. How in hell do I know everybody in the Grand Central?’

‘He looked at me,’ whispered Cobb.

‘Sure he looked at you,’ answered O’Rourke. ‘Everybody’s gonna look at you and wonder where you got the chills and fever.’

‘True. True. What am I doing to stand out here? Get me inside. Get me inside.’

O’Rourke walked first, this time, waddling down the aisle of the sleeper through a barrage of black looks from people who were standing at their bunks arranging matters inside and getting ready to enclose themselves for a night of joltings and sudden stoppages, nightmares and frightened wakings. All strangers are enemies, particularly in a sleeping car. In the wake which O’Rourke left behind him, Cobb went down the length of the car to the drawing room. Number A. Campbell followed. When they were inside, Cobb shrank back into the narrow corner near the door.

‘The window-curtain!’ he gasped. The light!’

Campbell pulled down the curtain.

O’Rourke switched out the lights except one small, red globe, and Cobb groaned with relief.

This dim light left all faces compositions of tarry black shadows and wavering features. The eyes, in particular, were deep pools of darkness that held one uncertain, luminous point.

‘You like it all graveyard like this?’ asked O’Rourke.

‘They can’t see in, now,’ said Cobb.

‘They won’t need to,’ answered O’Rourke, ‘you’ll scare yourself to death before morning. Listen, Mister Cobb, why didn’t you go and get police protection at your home? A bird that starts running away is the one that gets shot at.’

‘Protection at home?’ said Cobb in the same husky voice. ‘The men sent to guard me might be the ones hired by him to murder me!’

‘If you look at it that way,’ said O’Rourke, ‘maybe Campbell and me have been bought up, too. Maybe we’re the ones that are gonna blow you down.’

Cobb shrank smaller in the corner of the seat and said nothing. He turned his head quickly, like the swiftly pivoting head of a bird, to look first at O’Rourke and then at Campbell.

‘Ah, shut up your nonsense, O’Rourke,’ said Campbell. ‘You waste everybody’s time with your gabble. I’d rather listen to a guinea-hen cackle.’

Cobb drew a breath of relief and settled back in the seat again. A moment later he had dropped his face between his two gloved hands. Without audible warning, without the slightest jarring, the great train began to roll over the rails as smoothly as water down an endless flume. It gathered speed. Cobb lifted his head from his hands.

‘You forgot something?’ asked O’Rourke.

Cobb, without answering, pulled an envelope from his pocket and took out a fountain pen. He began to write with painful slowness, pausing when a lurch of the train disturbed his hand. The light was so dim that he had to bend far over to study the paper which he held on his bony knee.

‘Have a flash of light now, brother?’ asked O’Rourke.

‘No, no. No!’ cried Cobb.

‘Rabbits are like that… and cats,’ said O’Rourke. ‘They like the dark. It makes the rabbits feel safer, and the cats do their best hunting then.’

‘You have to talk. That’s all. You have to talk!’ exclaimed Campbell. ‘Here. I’ll hold a flashlight for you. Mister Cobb.’

‘A flashlight,’ said Cobb. ‘Well… yes… thank you, Campbell.’

Campbell snapped out a small pocket torch that threw a core of white light on the envelope and paler outer margins over the trousers of Cobb. He had not taken off his gloves, so great was his eagerness to put down his idea at once.

Campbell read without great difficulty, in spite of the continual waverings which the motion of the train caused:

I, John Cobb, being in my right mind and in full possession of my senses, though in fear of death before the morning, do hereby give and bequeath to my beloved cousin, Lawrence Purvis Pelton, as my sole heir, all my property in real estate, cash, or otherwise, of whatever nature. (Signed) John Cobb (Witnessed)

The jerking, uncertain writing grew suddenly more smoothly fluent as the familiar flow of the signature came off the pen.

‘Will you read this and witness it?’ asked Cobb.

Campbell grunted: ‘You know what you’re doing, man? You’re rich. Are you gonna pour all that you’ve got into one hopper?’

‘Will you sign? Will you sign?’ demanded Cobb impatiently.

‘Well…’ muttered Campbell, shaking his Scotch head.

Cobb groaned.

He signed forthwith, and Cobb snatched pen and envelope to offer both to O’Rourke. The Irishman signed without more to do but, as he handed back the document to Cobb, he said calmly: ‘Well, you’re worth murdering now… to Lawrence Purvis Pelton.’

‘Pelton?’ said Cobb, angrily. ‘He’s in the West. I telephoned to him this morning.’

‘Ay,’ said O’Rourke, ‘but maybe he ain’t too poor to hire some helping hands, brother!’

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.