The Evil That Men Do - M.P. Shiel - ebook

The Evil That Men Do ebook

M. P. Shiel

0,0

Opis

The Evil That Men Do” is a classic story of horror and unbelievable cruelty by British writer Matthew Phipps Shiel. This novel of mystery about Hartwell from birth, does he inherit his fathers traits? Do great men have great sons and how much does one’s own life’s experiences cause variance to this question? To the ordinary reader there will seem very little in point of morality to choose between Robert Hartwell and the villainous millionaire whom a strange facial resemblance enables him to impersonate. Mr. Shiel does not, and probably does not aspire to, draw pictures of everyday life as it is. But there is always something ingenious in his situations, and in this book, at any rate, he has contrived to avoid the developments which disfigured at least one of his earlier novels.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 594

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

I. ON THE SEA

II. ON THE ROAD

III. ROBEBT HARTWELL’S SIN

IV. SO SOON?

V. HARTWELL FINDS HIMSELF A MARRIED MAN

VI. HARTWELL HEARS FROM A LADY OF TITLE

VII. HARTWELL COMES HOME

VIII. HARTWELLL MEETS A LADY

IX. HARTWELL IS IN GREAT PERIL

X. HARTWELL BEGINS TO “UPROOT”

XI. HARTWELL TAKES TO FLIGHT

XII. HARTWELL RISES IN THE NIGHT

XIII. MORE ABOUT LETTY

XIV. HARTWELL UPROOTS

XV. HARTWELL IS EGOISTIC

XVI. HARTWELL PAINS A LADY

XVII. HARTWELL SAILS THE SEAS

XVIII. HARTWELL GETS A NURSE

XIX. HARTWELL MAKES A PLUNGE

XX. HARTWELL GOES TO CORTON

XXI. HARTWELL FINDS A WIFE

XXII. HARTWELL LIES LOW

XXIII. HARTWELL IS TEMPTED

XXIV. HARTWELL WAITS IN VAIN

XXV. HARTWELL MARRIES A WIFE

XXVI. HARTWELL SENDS DULAUNAY

XXVII. THE SHREDS

XXVIII. HARTWELL IS TRAPPED

XXIX. WHERE WAS HARTWELL?

XXX. IN THE WELL

XXXI. THE SEARCH

XXXII. HARTWELL GOES UNDER

XXXIII. A FORTUNATE MEETING

XXXIV. HARTWELL RE-EMERGES

I. ON THE SEA

An interesting question raised by the incident we have to tell is this: How far is it true that children inherit the traits of their parents? The son, the father–a racehorse is usually a racehorse; but is the son, the father, a Napoleon, a Napoleon? On the contrary, history teaches that no great man ever had a great son.

A child’s resemblance to its parents may sometimes arise after its birth; for constant intimacy is alone sufficient to produce resemblance. Thus, the late President McKinley came to look like his wife’s brother; and so with many couples.

For years the child’s existence is all mixed up with its parents’. How many kisses, forbidden hours of sleep in the drowsy mother’s bed! Therefore, if either parent has a disease, the child can hardly escape. Later on he will be told that his consumption is “hereditary,” but it may have originated since his birth.

No one would question the fact of heredity: we only remark that the extent to which we now believe in it is “not proven” in the case of that mysterious animal, man; and we are led to the reflection by a singular case which happened on board a ship some forty five years ago.

She was the Africa, and was one of those Union line mail boats that ply between the Cape and Southampton before the Castle line was formed to share with the Union line half the Government subvention, about 1870. They were small boats (compared with the present monsters) of 1,000 tons or so, of the kind which it was the fashion to call “tin-kettles:” half steamer, half sailing-ship, brigantine-rigged, with one funnel; and the postage of a letter to the Cape was–one shilling.

The captain of the Africa–a certain Captain Denner–was a handsome man of forty, with a large freckled face, who might have done very well for a model of Charlemagne, or some old sea-king, only that his long beard was black. He had a red birth-mark, the size of a penny, across his left temple. His lips were rather thick, and his moustache, parting in the middle, showed their strong pressure there. Though rather taciturn at times he was a good captain, popular with the passengers: and the voyage went well, till they reached the latitude of Madeira. At that time, by the way, it lasted thirty days, not sixteen, as now.

One Sunday morning, then, near Madeira, the vessel moving through a calm sea, the passengers were assembled at prayers, which were conducted by a clergyman who happened to be aboard. Among them were two ladies, a Mrs Drayton and a Mrs Hartwell, both of whom were about to become mothers.

It was noted as an odd thing that the captain was not at the service; no one, in fact, had seen him at all that morning. The first officer had knocked at his door, but the captain, without opening, had called back, in a strange voice, the strange words: “Go away.”

However, the clergyman had not yet reached the Litany, when the captain appeared at the door of the dining-saloon, where the worshippers were. Their backs were turned to the door, but when the clergyman stopped, with gaping mouth, the others looked round and saw the captain.

He had on nothing but a shirt and drawers. Some open ports, with a wellhole communicating with the smoke-room above, gave plenty of light, and he was distinctly seen: his rich, black hair seemed to stand on end, his eyes were wild, and in his hand was a revolver.

As all stared at this apparition he lifted his right arm, uttered the sound “bang,” and shot the clergyman dead. He then turned the weapon a little, uttered the same sound, and sent another into eternity. The third shot pierced Mrs Drayton’s right forearm; the fourth wounded the purser in the breast; the fifth killed a passenger who was running to seize the madman. This scene somehow affected the witnesses of it, not merely with terror, but with some sort of ghostly awe, which left all the survivors, male and female, in a state of nervous ruin for days. Before the fifth shot, all the ladies had fainted.

A rush, however, was made by the men, the lunatic was mastered, put into irons, and died the same night of the brain disease which had suddenly seized him.

Four months afterwards, in the town of Bradford, Mrs Drayton gave birth to a son; six months afterwards, near Rugby, Mrs Hartwell too, gave birth to a son. And the point which we wanted to emphasize is this, that these two boys, as they grew to manhood, bore no resemblance to hereditary types; but each had a raspberry birthmark the size of a penny on his left temple; and each was the image of Captain Denner, the captain of the Africa.

In that instant of the captain’s apparition at the saloon door in that one vivid shock of panic, the nervous beings of the two mothers had leapt, caught, appropriated, and kodaked the captain’s image.

And for thirty-eight years after that Sunday on the sea those two portraits of the captain of the Africa lived in England unconscious of each other. But after that stretch of time, the winds that blew the lives of men like wandering waves of the sea, blew them together, and they met.

II. ON THE ROAD

It was on the road between Cromer and Norwich–a good road, as many cyclists know, but with some steep bits, especially toward Cromer end, and there between Horsham, St. Fay’s and Aylsham.

It is late autumn, and all those woods of Stratton, Strawless, and Blickling, are whirls of dead leaves. The sun is setting–bleakly setting; and the storm winds sweeping south wrinkle the puddles in the road, along which one may walk miles and not meet a soul.

Certainly, the country has a desolate aspect this evening; the ground, turned since harvest for the first wheat sowing, looks black and dead with wet. Hardly a tuft of chrysanthemum in some sheltered nook still braves the bleakness of wintry winds. The ferns, and heather of Roughton Heath look scorched by the breath of a fire. The wind seems to have a grey colour.

Go still further north along the road, and you will find all that breadth of sand, where the village girls “paddle” through the summer and catch sea anemones, swallowed up now by the sea. It is blowing great guns inland, and the flat-bottomed crab boats are perched in nooks of the cliffs beyond the range of the breakers.

Beyond Roughton and Aylsham, a motor car comes scorching at a speed of not less than thirty miles an hour; for the wind blows keen and, moreover, the driver of this particular twin cylinder is famous for his illegal pace.

His car is a specially “chic” turn-out, an elongated mass of double phaeton type, brown-painted, upholstered in green leather, with French Dunlops, and lightly pitches forward all that weight over the slushy road a purring Juggernaut–toward Norwich, toward London.

On the front seat are two men, thick as bears in a rug, gloves, and furred coats. Only their noses are cold, but even that little they resent: they do not know that within two hours they will be cold all over.

“Dimmed cold,” says one.

“Hang the silly storm,” says the other.

They are the financier, James Drayton, and his right-hand man, McCalmont. They have motored together from London to Sheffield to attend a conference on the pooling of some steel concern, but when the conference was over, instead of returning direct to London, Drayton has said to McCalmont’s surprise, that he wished to see someone at Cromer, and at Cromer they have accordingly arrived about four that afternoon. But whom it could have been that Drayton wished to see at Cromer, McCalmont, even now, cannot guess. Drayton apparently had “seen” no one at Cromer. He did separate a few minutes from McCalmont, but only to go into the poste restante, where he got a letter, which, after reading, he tore up. Why, therefore, they have made this detour to the east of England, McCalmont is still wondering. Drayton must have had some reason.

In silence they pitch and slip ahead. Steadily hums the car, the rough wind instruments make music of dead marches about them, the sun has set and darkness gathers fast.

James Drayton is a big man, with a handsome, large face, florid and freckled, a black beard, and rather thick lips, whose pressure is visible at the parting of the moustache. He, too, would do very well for Charlemagne or a sea-king, as we said of Captain Denner, of the Africa, whose image he is. His eyes have a hard, aggressive look, and his appearance somehow tells you that he is a modern city man to the finger tips, who knows the world familiarly, uses it, and perhaps abuses it.

They are now at the elevated ground about Ingworth, whence they can see the darkling valley of the Bure on either hand, and black before them the woods of Blickling. It is a place where many a spill has taken place on account of two nasty turnings where the road crosses bridges, but Drayton proves that he knows the locality by altering his change-speed gear. The car hastens slower, and neatly negotiates the ticklish bits.

At the second turning it splashes a man on the road. He is a tramp–at least, he is tramping. A little bundle in a red handkerchief hangs from a stick over his Shoulder. He has no jacket this inclement night; his boots are ruined; misery is in his eyes, bitterness in his pressed lips. His name is Robert Hartwell.

And because of the slowing-down of the motor, and because some greyness still lingers in the dark, therefore Hartwell sees for a moment that face of Drayton, though Drayton and McCalmont do not observe Hartwell. And Hartwell thinks to himself, “Well, that man might be my brother!–ah, but you seem to be happier than I, my friend!”

The motor vanishes down the hill towards Blickling, the lessening voice of its flight still haunting Hartwell’s ear drum like a wasp–till that, too, is gone. And on he tramps, muttering bitter at heart, in the same direction as they–towards Norwich, towards London, and the tortoise shall yet beat the hare.

Past the mill, past the farm among the trees, the bridge, the old gabled manor-house, hedges loaded with the storm, heron, crop and grebe by the solitary pool, with bat and white owl in the air, the strange screams of madness in the winds that now fill a darkness unrelieved by moon or star–Hartwell continually puts his feet into puddles without seeing them and sounds come from his chest!

Meanwhile, the motor has not gone far upon the main road, for soon after crossing the Bure, it has turned aside into rather obscure country tending to bracken and heath, Drayton having said to McCalmont: “There ought to be a place just in there somewhere, which I remember from long ago. Suppose we go and get a glass of ale, and light up.”

McCalmont is surprised, for there is champagne on board, if Drayton is thirsty, and it is surely not necessary to go to a tavern to “light up!” but he say, “As you like,” and soon Drayton takes a lane to the left.

A mile in this direction, and they come, to a house behind the shoulder of a hill–a rather high house, black with age, with a physiognomy both picturesque and sinister. The roofs are quaint, on different levels, some quite small; there are broken external steps; some of the windows are broader than long, latticed, small or irregularly placed, and two are dormer windows. Along the front runs a gut with some water trickling among rocks, and beyond this a hillside of rocks, pines, and a couple of old huts. Some special dismalness here causes McCalmont to shiver at the cold, as they draw up.

“What place is it?” he asks.

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.