The Devil’s Advocate - Fred M. White - ebook

The Devil’s Advocate ebook

Fred M White

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The Devil’s Advocate, like some Fred M. White stories, begins with a love story. On arrival at Hierfield, David Macrae meets Philippa Goldfinch and falls in love with her. However, it was not easy to win her heart from the beginning. David Macrae is a pretty successful writer. The story begins so beautiful, romantic. But, will it end the same good way?

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Liczba stron: 252

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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 I

Philippa Goldfinch clung lovingly to the arm of David Macrae, and he smiled down into those speaking blue eyes of hers. It was hardly necessary for her to say anything, because he could see, from the expression of her eyes, that her heart was as full of pleasure and delight as his own. For he had won through. It was but a year since he had come to Hitherfield, where he had joined the staff of the ‘Mercury,’ and, in the very first week, had met Philippa Goldfinch and fallen head over ears in love with her. It seemed a long time since then, and the prospect had appeared remote enough, but yet here he was this perfect May evening in the garden of the Bungalow, which was actually his own, and paid for with his own money.

“Doesn’t it seem marvellous, dearest?” he said. “A year ago, and I never knew you. I shall never forget the first night at the Melba concert when you came into the town hail, and I asked Richard Farrell who you were. And even then I believe I had made up my mind. And now–”

Philippa smiled up into his face again, and the grasp of her little hand tightened on his arm.

“Yes, isn’t it wonderful?” she echoed. “It’s almost as wonderful as that book of yours.”

For Macrae had not only written a book, but it had been quite a successful one. It had been published not long before he had been appointed to the ‘Hitherfield Mercury,’ and now it was in its second edition. It had brought him success in another way–a serial story or two, and now he was engaged upon a third, which would enable him to marry Philippa with an easy mind. A little time before he had purchased the Bungalow, with its furniture complete, from a man who had gone abroad, and now there was no reason why he and Philippa should wait any longer.

His salary was of no great matter, for the ‘Hitherfield Mercury’ was not a big money-making concern, but his appointment there was a stepping-stone to better things. Meanwhile he had made up his mind to stay in that beautiful, romantic spot for the next few years, and now he and Philippa were standing in the garden of the Bungalow, looking across the heather and gorse-clad common towards the setting sun. The garden itself was rather a wild one, for the late proprietor had very wisely done nothing to improve upon nature. There were flower-beds and borders here and there and a tennis lawn, but the grounds, for the most part, had been left as the late owner had found them when he had built that charming bungalow and furnished it with taste and discretion. There were three or four bedrooms, a small drawing room which Philippa called her own, a little den where Macrae could write in his spare time, and a big lounge-hall sitting room, with a conservatory leading out of it at the back, beyond which was a mass of gorse and heather, ending in a low stone wall that divided the garden from the common.

Beyond that was a heathery expanse, extending for miles, with not another human habitation in sight. It was wild and desolate enough there, and almost impossible to believe that the town of Hitherfield was not more than half a mile away.

They stood in the big sitting room presently, admiring the old furniture and the exquisite mezzotints upon the walls. The late proprietor had neglected nothing in the way of luxury and comfort, and Macrae had deemed himself exceedingly fortunate to be able to get hold of so desirable a residence.

“Another three weeks,” he said, “and we shall be here together. It seems almost too good to be true, Phil.”

“Yes, and all of it paid for,” Philippa smiled. “I should hate to start in debt, David.”

“Would you?” Macrae smiled a little dubiously. “I don’t know whether I ought to tell you or not–”

Philippa looked up quickly. “I want you to tell me everything, David,” she said. “I want to feel that there are no secrets between us.”

“Well, then, I must make my confession,” David smiled. “It is not quite paid for. At least, I paid Donaldson, but I had to borrow a hundred pounds, of which I was short. Of course, it doesn’t matter, for in a month I shall have finished that big serial story, and, as you know, it is a cash transaction, and my agent tells me that he will have no difficulty in getting a good price for the American rights. So you needn’t worry, child. We shall be quite free of debt before we return from our honeymoon.”

Philippa looked just a little dubious. She knew what to be in debt meant, because that easy-going, scientific old father of hers had never quite managed to live within his income since he had retired from active practice as a doctor, and it was one of the struggles of Philippa’s life to keep things going properly.

“Where did the hundred pounds come from?” she asked.

“Oh, I borrowed that from some moneylenders in Hitherfield. I don’t suppose you have seen their advertisement, but they call themselves Douglas and Company. They have got branch offices in most towns on the South Coast. I believe they are very decent people. I had to give them what they called a judgment, just as a matter of form, because I objected to the publicity of a bill of sale, but they are not likely to worry me.”

Philippa was conscious of a slight sinking of the heart. She had heard her father talk like this, because he, too, had got into a similar trouble some time before, and Philippa had had to realise a small legacy to settle the matter.

“I do hope it will be all right, David,” she said. “Of course. I don’t know much about these things–”

With that, she bent down and caressed an Irish terrier that was standing at her feet with a stone in his mouth, which he was inviting her to throw across the room so that he might fetch it. This was a game of which Bragger never tired. He was not Phillippa’s dog, either, but acted as bodyguard and leader to a blind ex-soldier called Ned Hammer, the protege of a prosperous farmer and bookmaker who lived nearby to Dr. Goldfinch’s cottage. Bragger, however, had taken a great fancy to Philippa, and hardly ever permitted her out of his sight, except at such times as his master had need of him.

“Put it down, you silly dog,” she said. “I decline to play any games with you in my new house.”

Bragger whined, and then dropped the stone with a feeling, evidently, that things were not propitious just then so far as his beloved friend was concerned. Then, a moment later, he pricked up his ears and made for the open door at top speed.

“Isn’t he a wonderful dog?” Philippa laughed. “You may be sure that his master wants him.”

“I thought I heard Hammer whistle,” Macrae said. “He is very fond of wandering about on the common in the evening.”

“I believe he knows every inch of it,” Philippa said. “You know, he used to be a bit of a poacher before the war, and the loss of his sight. I am not sure that he doesn’t indulge in that pastime now. But never mind about Ned Hammer. Are you quite sure that there will be no trouble with these moneylenders?”

“I wouldn’t worry that pretty head of yours any more about it,” Macrae said. “Why should you? I shall have all I want in a month, and something may crop up in the meantime.”

“But you couldn’t pay it out of your salary, David.”

“You are right there,” Macrae laughed. “My salary is barely enough for my board and lodgings. And beside, I am not good at borrowing, except in the ordinary way of business. I did try the bank, and though the manager was sympathetic he told me that his directors did not advance money on that sort of security. Upon my word, Phil, I am almost sorry I told you. I hate to see that look of trouble in those blue eyes of yours.”

With an effort Philippa forced a smile to her lips, and then, in the sheer delight of their affection, and the attractions of a new house, which she was going over for the first time, quite forgot anything else. It was dark by the time they had finished, and Philippa was on her way home again, with David talking in his enthusiastic way, walking by her side.

“Well, are you quite satisfied, little girl?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” Philippa sighed. “I didn’t think I could possibly be so happy. But don’t you think you ought to put a caretaker in the house? It is rather a lonely spot, and anybody coming across the common after dark could empty the place by the back way without anybody being the wiser.”

“I have provided for that,” Macrae said. “I am going to sleep there myself in future.”

“What, all alone? When?”

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