The Golden Web - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The Golden Web ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

Stirling Deane has sold the Little Anna Gold Mine which he discovered in South Africa early in his career. The sale has made him a rich man and the head of the company to which he sold the mine. His is engaged to Lady Olive Nunnelly, and is the envy of all of society. Deane is threatened with ruin when a old enemy – Richard Sinclair- shows up in London with what appears to be a legitimate prior deed to the mine. After a meeting with Deane, the man is found murdered and the deed he claims to have had is missing. Another man which Deane hired to negotiate the return of the deed to Deane is accused of the murder, tried, and sentenced to death. What has become of the lost deed?

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 363

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

BOOK ONE

I. A LIFE FOR SALE

II. THE PURCHASE

III. A FAMILY AFFAIR

IV. A MURDER

V. A DEBT INCURRED

VI. AN IMPERIOUS DEMAND

VII. LOVE OR INTEREST?

VIII. AN AWFUL RESPONSIBILITY

IX. WINIFRED ROWAN

X. AT THE THEATRE

XI. AN APPEAL

XII. RUBY SINCLAIR

XIII. AN INFORMAL TEA-PARTY

XIV. AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR

XV. THE EFFECT OF A STORM

XVI. A REPRIEVE

XVII. A NEW DANGER

XVIII. AN EXPENSIVE KEY

XIX. THE SEARCH

XX. IN DOUBT

XXI. RUBY IS DISAPPOINTED

BOOK TWO

I. FREE TO DIE

II. A LAPSE OF MEMORY

III. A PAINFUL INTERVIEW

IV. A QUESTION

V. MUTUAL INFORMATION

VI. AN OPPORTUNE ARRIVAL

VII. HEFFEROM IS OPTIMISTIC

VIII. A BOLD MOVE

IX. LORD NUNNELEY IS FRANK

X. A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT

XI. BITTER WORDS

XII. A STRANGE BETROTHAL

XIII. DESPERATION

XIV. AN AFTERNOON'S SHOPPING

XV. A FRIEND

XVI. PASSION

XVII. A DESPAIRING CALL

XVIII. WINIFRED IS TRAPPED

XIX. MISS SINCLAIR'S OFFER

XX. THROUGH THE MILL

XXI. ALL AS IT SHOULD BE

BOOK ONE

I. A LIFE FOR SALE

The contrast in personal appearance between the two men, having regard to their relative positions, was a significant thing. The caller, who had just been summoned from the waiting-room, and was standing before the other’s table, hat in hand, a little shabby, with ill-brushed hair and doubtful collar, bore in his countenance many traces of the wild and irregular life which had reduced him at this moment to the position of suppliant. His complexion was pale almost to ghastliness, and in his deep-set, sunken eyes there was more than a suggestion of recklessness. He was so nervous that his face twitched as he stood there waiting, and the fingers which held his hat trembled. His lips were a little parted, his breathing was scarcely healthy. There was something about his whole appearance indicative of failure. The writing upon his forehead was the writing of despair.

The man before whom he stood was of an altogether different type. His features were strong and regular, his complexion slightly bronzed, as though from exposure to the sun and wind. He had closely-cropped black hair, keen gray eyes, and a determined chin. He sat before a table on which were all the modern appurtenances of a business man in close touch with passing events. A telephone was at his elbow, his secretary was busy at a smaller table in the corner of the room, a typist was waiting respectfully in the background. His confidential clerk was leaning over his chair, notebook in hand, receiving in a few terse sentences instructions for the morrow’s operations. Stirling Deane, although he was barely forty years old, was at the head of a great mining corporation. He had been the one man selected for the position when the most important and far-reaching amalgamation of recent days had taken place. And this although he came of a family whose devotion to business had always been blended with a singular aptitude for and preëminence in sports. Deane himself, until the last few years, had played cricket for his county, had hunted two days a week, and had by no means shown that whole-hearted passion for money-making which was rife enough in the circles amid which he moved.

He wound up his instructions, and dismissed his clerk with a few curt and final words. Then he turned round in his chair and faced his visitor.

"I am sorry to have kept you, Rowan,” he said. “This is always rather a busy day in the city, and a busy time.”

His visitor, who had been waiting for an hour in an ante-room, and was then esteemed fortunate to be accorded an interview, looked around him with a little smile.

"So you’ve prospered, Deane,” he said.

"Naturally,” the other answered. “I always meant to. And you, Rowan?”

The visitor shook his head. “I have tried many things,” he said; “all failures,–disposition or luck, I suppose. What is it, I wonder, that keeps some men down while others climb?”

Deane shrugged his shoulders. “Disposition,” he said, “is only an appendage, and luck doesn’t exist. In nine cases out of ten, if a man’s will is strong enough, he climbs.”

Rowan nodded gloomily. “Perhaps that’s it,” he assented. “I never had any will, or if I had, it didn’t seem worth while to use it.”

"Take a seat,” said Deane. “You don’t look fit to stand. What can I do for you? We shall be interrupted in a few moments.”

"I want something to do,” Rowan said.

"I can’t give it to you,” answered Deane, firmly but not unkindly.

"You don’t beat about the bush,” the other declared, with a hard little laugh.

"Why should I?” Deane asked. “It would only waste our time, and be, after all, a mistaken kindness. There isn’t a man about my place who hasn’t grown up under my own personal observation. It’s an important business this, Rowan. I daren’t risk a single weak link. To be frank with you,–and you see I am being frank,–I’d sooner pay your salary than have you here.”

"Give me a letter to someone else, then,” Rowan begged. “I’m just back from Africa, broken.”

"I can’t do that,” Deane answered. “I know you well. I like you. We have been friends. We have been together in difficulties. More than once you have been in a way useful to me. I have every disposition to serve you. But you were never made for business, or any form of regular work. I would not offer you a place in my own office, and I cannot pass you on to my friends. What else can I do for you?”

Rowan looked into his hat, and laughed a little bitterly. “What the devil else is there anyone can do for me?” he demanded.

"I can lend you some money,” Deane said shortly.

"I shall take it,” Rowan answered; “but it will be spent pretty soon, and I doubt whether you’ll ever get it back. I want a chance to make a fresh start.”

Deane shook his head. “I can’t help you,” he said,–“not in that sort of way, at any rate. If you wanted to settle down in the country, I’d try and find you a place there.”

"No good,” Rowan answered. “I want to make money, and I want to make it quick.”

The telephone bell rang, and Deane was busy for several moments answering questions and giving instructions. Then he turned once more to his visitor.

"Rowan,” he said, “you talk like all the others who come down into the city expecting to find it a sort of Eldorado. I can do nothing for you. How much money shall I lend you? Stop!” he said, holding out his hand. “I don’t want to seem unkind, but I am a busy man. I don’t want to lend you ten pounds to-day, and have you come and borrow another ten pounds next week, and another the week after. You and I went through some rough times together. We’ve heard the bullets sing. We’ve known what a licking was like, and we’ve shouted ourselves hoarse with joy when the good time came. I don’t forget these things, man. I don’t want you for a moment to believe that I have forgotten them. Ask me for any reasonable sum, and I’ll give it you. But afterwards we shake hands and part, at any rate so far as the city is concerned. You understand?”

Rowan leaned forward in his chair. He wetted his dry lips nervously with his tongue. The look of ill-health in his features was almost painfully manifest. The writing which it is not possible to mistake was on his face.

"Look here, Deane,” he said hoarsely, “don’t think I am ungrateful. You’ve put the matter straight to me like a man, and, if needs be, I’ll ask you for a good round sum and go, and I’ll take my oath you’ll never see me again. But listen. I am in a bad way. I was in the hospital last week, and they told me a few things.”

"I am sorry,” said Deane. “You shall go away and recuperate. When you’re feeling stronger you can think about some work.”

Rowan shook his head. “That isn’t it,” he said. “I’m a sick man, but I’m not that kind of invalid. I have somewhere about twelve months to live–no more. I want, somehow or other, before I die, to make a little money. I don’t want a fortune–nothing of that sort–but I want to make just a little.”

"You have a wife?” Deane asked quietly.

Rowan shook his head. “A sister. Poor little girl, she’s wearing herself out typing in an office, and I can’t bear the thought of leaving her all alone with nothing to fall back upon.”

Deane drummed with his fingers upon the table. His manner was not unsympathetic, but betrayed the slight impatience of a man of affairs discussing an unpractical subject with an unpractical person.

"My dear Rowan,” he said, “don’t you see that your very illness makes it absurd to imagine that you can take a position and save any amount of money worth mentioning in it, in twelve months? The idea is absurd.”

"I suppose it sounds so,” Rowan admitted. “But listen, Deane. You know I have many weak points, but I am not a coward. I like big risks, and I am always willing to take them. The doctor gives me twelve months–that means, I suppose, about seven months during which I shall be able to get about, and five months of slow torture in a hospital. I mention this again so that you can understand exactly how much I value my life. Isn’t there any work you could put me on to where the risk was great–the greater the better–but if I succeeded I could make a reasonable sum of money? Think!”

Deane shook his head. “My dear Rowan,” he said, “we are not in Africa now, you know. We are in a civilized city, where life and death have no other than their own intrinsic worth.”

"You are sure?” persisted Rowan. “I don’t mind what I do,” he added, in a lower tone. “I’ve lived in wild countries, and I’ve lived a wild life. My conscience is elastic enough. I’d take on anything in the world which meant money. You have great interests under your control. You must have enemies. Sometimes there are enterprises into which a man in your position would enter willingly enough if he could find a partner who would be as silent as the grave, and who would risk everything–I mean that–not only his life, but everything, on the chance of success.”

Deane shook his head slowly, and then stopped. A sudden change came into his face. He had the air of a man absorbed with an unexpected thought. A flickering ray of sunshine had come struggling through the dusty window from the court outside. It found its way across Deane’s desk, with its piles of papers and documents. It rested for a moment upon his dark, thoughtful face. Rowan watched him eagerly. Was it his fancy, or was there indeed a shadow there greater than the responsibilities of his position might warrant?

II. THE PURCHASE

Deane looked across the room towards his secretary. “Give me five minutes alone, Ellison,” he said,–“you and Miss Ansell there. See that I am not interrupted.”

The young man got up at once and left the room, followed by the typist. Deane waited until the door was closed. Then he turned once more to his visitor.

"Listen, Rowan,” he said. “Do I understand you rightly? Do you mean that you would be willing to undertake a commission which you would certainly find unpleasant, and perhaps dangerous?”

"I do mean that,” Rowan declared, beating the palm of one hand with his clenched fist. “I am a desperate man. I have no time for long service, for industry, for perseverance, for any form of success which is to be won by orthodox means. I am like a man who has mortgaged every farthing he has in the world to take a thirty-five to one chance on a number. Don’t you understand? I want money, and I can’t wait. I haven’t time. Give me a chance of something big. Remember what I have told you. Twelve months of suffering life is worth little enough in the balance.”

"You misunderstand me a little,” Deane said slowly. “What I am going to suggest to you may seem difficult enough, and, under the circumstances, unpleasant, but there is no actual risk–at least,” he corrected himself, “there should be none.”

Rowan laughed scornfully. “For Heaven’s sake, don’t pick your words so carefully,” he begged. “If the thing is big enough, I am not afraid. If it is dishonest, say so. I am not a pickpocket, but I am past scruples.”

Once more Deane was silent for several moments. It was a chance, this,–just a chance. He looked out of the window, and he seemed to see in swift panorama all the splendid details of his rise to power. He saw himself as the central figure of that panorama–respected, honored, envied, wherever he went, east or west. It was a life, his, for a man to be proud of. There was no one who had a word to say against him,–no one who did not envy him his rapid climb up the great ladder. He carried power in both hands, so that when he moved even amongst the great people of the world a place was found for him. He realized in that one moment what it might mean to lose these things, and he drew a little breath. He must fight to the end, make use of any means that came to his hand. It was a chance this, only a chance, but he would take it!

"Listen, Rowan,” he said, turning once more to the man who had been watching him so eagerly, “I am taking you at your word. I am believing that you mean exactly what you say.”

"God knows I do!” Rowan muttered.

"Very well, then,” Deane continued, “I want you to understand this. The company of which I am managing director owns, as you may have heard, the greatest gold-fields in the world. Our chief possession, though, is the Little Anna Gold-Mine, which was once, as you may have heard, my property, and for which the corporation paid me a very large sum of money. Did you ever hear anything of the history of the Little Anna Gold-Mine, Rowan?”

Rowan nodded. “It was a deserted claim which you and some others had a shy at. Dick Murray was one of them. That brute Sinclair put you on to it.”

Deane nodded. “You have spoken the truth, Rowan,” he said. “It was a deserted claim. Four of us took possession, but the other three never knew what I knew. I bought up their shares one by one. I won’t go into the matter of law now. I simply want you to understand this. The mine grew and prospered. What it has become you know. I sold it to this corporation, as I wished to have no outside interests, and the price paid me was close upon a million sterling. Three days ago, in this room, the man whom you have just spoken of–Richard Sinclair–produced documents, and tried to convince me that he was the real owner of the Little Anna Gold-Mine, that it had never been deserted, and that our taking possession of it was nothing more nor less than an illegal jump.”

Rowan was plainly amazed. “But it was Sinclair,” he exclaimed, “who gave you the tip.”

Deane nodded. “That,” he said, “may have been part of his scheme. He hadn’t the money or the patience to work it himself, and it may have occurred to him that if he could get someone else to do all the work, believing that they had acquired the mine, it might be worth his claiming afterwards. I have weighed it all up,” Deane continued. “I have been to some mining lawyers, and I have spent a small fortune in cabling to the Cape. The conclusion I have come to is this. If Sinclair prosecutes his claim–and he means business–and goes to law, there is just a reasonable chance that he might win.”

"A reasonable chance,” Rowan repeated.

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.

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.