The Interloper - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The Interloper ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

Oppenheim was famous for his hundreds of spy and espionage novels. This is not one of them. It’s billed as a novel of social intrigue and as a story of revenge without violence and moves quickly. Duke Henry Chatfield with his family, and family lawyer Sir Stephen are riding through central Italy when the car breaks down in Pellini, where, 20 years earlier, the Duke’s brother had a mistress and illegitimate child. Duke’s daughter Monica is intrigued by a young Englishman named Francis taking his vows before disappearing into a monastery. She tries to convince him not to shut himself away but fails. Three years later, the family lawyer discovers that Francis is in fact the legitimate Duke, and encourages him to return to England. How Francis treats his relations, and his new found wealth and position form the plot of this 1927 novel.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 380

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

BOOK ONE

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

BOOK TWO

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

BOOK ONE

CHAPTER I

PIETRO waved his hand with a grand gesture. He leaned against the rampart and pointed downwards. Many years spent in his profession as semi-mendicant guide had imbued him with a sense of possession in the treasures which he displayed.

“Approach and behold, Signor and Signorina,” he invited the two young people who were his temporary victims. “The parapet is strong. One may lean against it.”

“My God, what a climb!” the young man exclaimed breathlessly.

“But what a view!” his sister murmured.

They were on the summit of the hill of Pellini. A few hundred feet below was the ancient hill town from which they had climbed, and all around them, like a sea in the fading light, one of the plains of central Italy; a hardly tilled land, sparse of vegetation but full of colour–a land of vineyard and olive trees; brown meadowland on which thin cattle were feeding. Pietro pointed to a shoulder of the hill immediately below them, on the far edge of which was a long grey-stone building–a building obviously ecclesiastical in character, approached by a long cypress-bordered drive, and with a familiar cross on the steep mound behind.

“From this point, gracious Signorina and Signor,” Pietro continued, “you may behold one of the most magnificent views in central Italy. If you will move to where I am standing and look down, you see first of all the famous Monastery of St. Joseph–a building which has been occupied without interruption by monks of the same order since fourteen hundred and seventy-two. Beyond–”

The girl interrupted him with a little gesture. She was a tourist, but she was not fond of guides.

“No more historical facts, please,” she begged. “I just want to look at the view.”

“Regular gas bag, this fellow,” her brother grumbled, lighting a cigarette. “I had enough of him down in the town.”

The girl leaned the tips of her fingers upon the top of the rampart. She was tall and very beautiful. The slight air of listlessness which detracted occasionally from the charm of her expression had completely vanished. She was gazing out towards the horizon with a look of soft content in her clear brown eyes. Her lips were parted. She was still rather breathless.

“Did you ever see such colouring, Eustace?” she exclaimed. “Look at the saffron light behind the olive trees there, the blue mist in the distance, and those fingers of purple cloud!”

Her brother gazed complacently around.

“Jolly fine building that monastery, too,” he remarked. “Seems in a bit better repair than most of them. I bet there are trout in that stream,” he added, leaning a little farther over to watch the clear torrent below.

Pietro, who had been inclined to sulk, recovered himself. After all, they were of the nobility and very wealthy–this beautiful young woman and her brother.

He had overheard their chauffeur’s conversation in the courtyard of the hotel.

“I tell you all about these things, gracious lady and Signor, if you letta me,” he reminded them gently. “The Hill of Calvary–”

The girl interrupted him again, more firmly than ever this time.

“Not a word,” she insisted. “If we want to know anything, we will ask questions. Listen!”

From behind the grey walls below there stole upwards the most marvellously blended music in the world– the music of men’s voices singing to the strains of a great organ. The melody rose and fell and died away. The girl listened, entranced.

“Thank heavens that women haven’t voices like that,” she exclaimed. “I might be tempted to enter a nunnery.”

“You letta me speak, and I tell you something interesting,” Pietro proposed.

“Go ahead then,” the young man assented.

“Twice a year,” Pietro confided, “novices are admitted to the monastery. The night before they spend in prayer–here, upon this rampart.”

“Why here?” the girl enquired.

“This is the boundary of the town,” Pietro explained. “Beyond the wall, all the land that you can see belongs to the monastery. The novice, he prays here upon the borderland. At sunrise the monks come up by that winding path and fetch him. They open that gate in the wall there and he passes through. Tonight is one of the nights.”

“Do you mean that there will be novices praying here to-night?” she asked.

“Francis will come from the city below,” Pietro announced. “He has been long making up his mind, but they say that he will come.”

“And who is Francis?”

“He is an orphan. His mother had a little villa in the bend of the hills. Now she is dead and Francis has come to live in the city. They say that his father was English.”

The girl listened for a moment and frowned.

“Here come the rest of them!” she exclaimed. “Sir Stephen and mother between them are driving me crazy with their passion for dates and archaeology. Let’s climb up to the top of the hill, Eustace.”

Her brother shook his head. He had the air of an athlete but he was scarcely in the best of condition. His cheeks were puffy and his forehead was damp.

“Not another yard, Monica,” he declared. “I’m not in form for these Alpine feats. I shall go back to the town and see if I can find an interesting cafe. There’s a promising one just outside the garage. You can come down with the others.”

“Idiot!” she scoffed. “You desert a view like this for sweet vermouth and a pair of black eyes! I saw her looking at you over the muslin blinds. A happy adventure to you! I’m off!”

She turned to follow a footpath on the opposite side of the road. Her brother sauntered towards the little group who had just appeared around the bend: an elderly gentleman of severely aristocratic appearance, a comfortable-looking lady, very much out of breath, and a middle-aged, fussy-looking man in a grey Norfolk coat and knickerbockers, grey worsted stockings and thick shoes. Each of the newcomers was true to type. The gentleman who affected the costume of a hardy pedestrian was Sir Stephen Dobelle, head of the firm of Dobelle, Miles & Dobelle, solicitors of Lincoln’s Inn, and his two companions were Henry, eighth Duke of Chatfield and Susan his wife. Pietro hastened towards them, hat in hand.

“The noble lady has done well to give herself the fatigue of climbing,” he declared. “From the ramparts here is the most extensive view of middle Italy. On the right behold the Monastery of St. Joseph. Note well the Calvary behind. It has been called the most beautiful in the world.”

The Duchess leaned against one of the buttresses and fanned herself vigorously.

“Don’t talk to me about the view, my good man, for a few minutes!” she exclaimed. “I’m terribly out of breath! Henry, I shall have to let a doctor examine my heart directly we get back.”

“It would be as well, my dear,” he conceded.

The two men walked to the edge of the ramparts and gazed downwards.

“The fellow’s right! It’s a damned fine view,” Sir Stephen announced.

“Quite a panorama,” the Duke acquiesced graciously. “By the bye, Dobelle,” he went on, after a moment’s pause, “I have been wondering why the name of this place seemed so familiar. Wasn’t it round in these parts–er–er”

“Precisely,” Sir Stephen interrupted. “It was somewhere in this locality that your brother, the late i Duke, sought romance and grew olives with a beautiful Italian lady. I had letters from him often bearing this postmark.”

“One feels almost an intruder to have blundered upon the spot,” the Duke murmured.

The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.

“The lady died a short time before your brother,” he observed. “There was some small property here, I believe, but we thought.it best in the interests of the family to make no enquiries. The estate could spare it.”

The Duchess had risen from her stony seat and came towards them.

“I must get away from this man,” she declared. “Can’t some one stop him? He is boring me to death.”

“Dear Duchess, you cannot stop him,” Sir Stephen rejoined. “It’s the only way an Italian ever works ? with his tongue. He’s paid to tell us all about this place, and he’ll do it whether we listen or not.”

“But I don’t see why I should be the only victim,” she complained.

The word offended Pietro–or perhaps he thought simulated offence the easiest way to the pocket of these wealthy English.

“Victim!” he repeated. “The signora is unkind. You not like me tell you about the place?”

“Your services in leading us to this spot were appreciated and will be remunerated,” Sir Stephen promised. “Now that we are here, however, your job is finished.”

“Very well,” Pietro replied with dignity. “I say no more. I would have spoken of Francis. You shall not hear of him.”

The Duchess turned away.

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.