The Lion and the Lamb - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The Lion and the Lamb ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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This is another great novel by E. Phillips Oppenheim, the prolific English novelist who was in his lifetime a major and successful writer of genre fiction including thrillers and spy novels, and who wrote over a 100 of them. David Newberry is released from Wandsworth prison having served a year for burglary. He was briefly a member of The Lambs, a London gang run by Tottie Green, with the help of the beautiful, coarse, but alluring Belle. Vowing revenge, Newberry buys a gym and assembles and trains a crew of willing fighters using the techniques of Juiy Jitsu which he learned from Asians while in Australia. Oppenheim provides a mystery of another sort!

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Liczba stron: 408

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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 XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER XXXII

CHAPTER XXXIII

CHAPTER XXXIV

CHAPTER XXXV

CHAPTER XXXVI

CHAPTER XXXVII

CHAPTER I

AT exactly ten minutes past nine on a gusty spring morning, the postern gate in the huge door of Wandsworth Prison was pushed open, and David Newberry, for the first time in many months, lifted his head and drew in a long gulp of the moist west wind. His original, half-shamefaced intention of hurrying into the obscurity of the moving crowds was instantly shaken. He was cut adrift from the prison by that closed door, and nobody seemed to be taking any notice of him. Nothing seemed to matter except that this was freedom. When, a few moments later, he squared his shoulders and proceeded on his way, the miraculous had happened. He had lost his sense of self-consciousness, there was a certain eagerness in his footsteps, he was on his way back into life, and there were still things which were worth while.

A young man, on the other side of the road, who had been talking to some one in a stationary taxicab, broke off his conversation, crossed the thoroughfare, and presently accosted him.

“Hullo, Dave!”

David Newberry eyed the speaker with an air of gloomy disgust. He came to a standstill unwillingly.

“What do you want, Reuben?” he asked.

“I like that,” was the jaunty response. “What do you suppose I want, but you? Tottie Green isn’t the man to let any of his lads down. There’s a taxicab engaged,” he added, pointing across the way, “and a spread at The Lion and the Lamb. We’d have made it the Trocadero if we could, but I expect they’ll be keeping an eye on you for a time. Lem’s over there, waiting.”

“You can ride back in the taxi with Lem then, and eat the spread,” David Newberry rejoined. “I want nothing more to do with you, or Lem, or Tottie Green.”

Reuben laid his hand on his companion’s shoulder. He was a tall, dark young man, whose clothes fitted him almost too well, sallow-faced, with sharp features, and the persuasive voice of one who has started life as a welleducated huckster.

“Dave, old man, you’ve got to get rid of that stuff quick,” he begged. “Tottie just had to let you down. If he’d sent you even a lawyer, they’d have traced it back to us directly. Then, as regards Lem and me, it would have been a three years’ job for either of us, and,” he added, dropping his voice, “it might even have meant the swinging room for Lem. You got off with six months as a first offender. What’s six months, anyway–There’s your money in the bank and the boys waiting to see you.”

David Newberry shook himself free from the other’s grasp.

“You heard what I said,” he repeated. “Get back to your Lem and your taxi, and leave me alone.”

Reuben made no movement. His manner became even more urgent.

“You’ve got to get all that out of your head, Dave,” he insisted. “The old man’s waiting there, and Belle is all fussed up at the idea of seeing you again. Make up your mind to it. You’ve got to come back with me. Here comes Lem, to find out what’s the matter.”

“See that policeman?” the newcomer into the world pointed out. “I don’t want to be in trouble again for brawling in the street, or I’d knock you down. I’m going to call him.”

The man who had crossed the road presented himself– an unpleasant- looking person, with the square shoulders, the bulbous ears, and the cruel mouth of a prize fighter, which, indeed had been his profession. He grinned at David–not a pleasant expression, for his yellow, broken teeth and the sidewise withdrawal of his lips were alike unprepossessing.

“How goes it, Dave, old man?” he demanded, with a certain note of bluster in his tone. “What about a move, eh?”

“I wish to the devil you would move off, both of you,” was the bitter reply. “I have told Reuben here I want nothing more to do with Tottie Green or any of you. You’re a set of quitters, and I’m through with you.”

The grin this time more closely resembled a snarl.

“Stop your kidding,” the ex-prize fighter enjoined. “I tell you your money’s waiting–a hundred and seventyfive quid–not a penny docked. The old man’s going to hand it over to you himself. There’s a drop of Scotch too, in the taxi.”

David Newberry drew himself up, and there became even more apparent a very singular and remarkable difference between the three young men, as would have seemed almost natural, if their family histories had been known.

“Get this into your muddy brains, you fools, if you can,” he said firmly. “I’ve done with Tottie Green, done with all of you–except you, Lem, and you, Reuben. There’s a little understanding due between us that’s got to come; otherwise I never want to see any of your ugly faces again. Clear out!”

The deportment of Tottie Green’s second ambassador suddenly changed. He became truculent, if not menacing. He drew nearer to David, who avoided him with disgust.

“You just get this into your silly nut, Dave,” he countered. “You’re one of Tottie’s men, and you don’t quit till he says the word. There’s been one or two who tried, and they got theirs sweet and proper. Try it on, if you want to. You’ll feel the tickle of a knife in your ribs or the catgut round your throat before you’ve found your way to Scotland Yard. Come along, young fellow. You don’t want us to have to buy that blooming taxi, do you?”

Cannon Ball Lem had been a fair, middle-weight boxer in his time, and he sidled up to David in unpleasantly aggressive fashion. The latter took a quick step sideways and touched a policeman on the shoulder.

“Constable,” he complained, “this man is annoying and threatening me. I am just out of prison, and I haven’t any desire to go back again. Will you please see that these two leave me alone.”

The policeman, favourably impressed by David’s voice and manner, turned promptly around. The two ambassadors from the unseen power, however, were already disappearing into the taxicab. David raised his cap.

“Many thanks, Constable,” he said. “Cannon Ball Lem they used to call that young man, and he certainly had a fair idea of using his fists. I didn’t want to be knocked about the first day I was out of prison.”

The man grinned.

“Now that you’re free, you choose your company,” he advised.

David Newberry, absorbed soon in the traffic of the broader thoroughfares, went about his business with a slightly relaxed sense of tension. His first call was at a tobacconist’s shop, where he purchased two packets of Virginian cigarettes and a box of matches. In the doorway, he paused to light one of the former, and his whole expression softened as he slowly inhaled the smoke and tasted for the first time for many months the joy of tobacco. Presently he summoned a taxicah, and having decided, after a seemingly casual glance up and down the street, that he was not being followed, directed the man to drive to the Strand. At a second-hand shop in this neighbourhood, he purchased a leather trunk, slightly soiled but of very superior quality, a kit bag, and a fitted dressing case, for all of which articles he paid from a bulky roll of bank notes. He drove on to a famous emporium for the sale of misfits and second-hand clothes, where, being fortunately of almost stock size, he was able to purchase a complete and expensive wardrobe, the whole of which he took away with him in his trunk. From an outfitter’s, close at hand, he bought sparingly of linen and ties, having the air, whilst he made his selection, of one who is more at home in the chaster atmosphere of Bond Street. He was then driven to the Milan Hotel, where he engaged, without any trouble, a small bachelor suite in the Court. With his luggage stowed away, and the porters duly tipped, he descended to the barber’s shop, and for an hour submitted himself to the complete ministrations of the establishment.

At precisely midday, he took his first drink for many months–no crude affair of whisky from a bottle in a mouldy taxicab, but a double dry Martini cocktail, served in a thin wineglass with tapering stem, cloudy and cold. The unaccustomed sting of the alcohol seemed further to humanise him. He mounted in the lift to his rooms, a glow in his blood, his sense of freedom now become a realisable and glorious thing.

Seated in an easy-chair, with a cigarette between his lips, he glanced through the telephone book and asked for the number of Messrs. Tweedy, Atkinson and Tweedy, Solicitors, of Lincoln’s Inn. Mr. Atkinson, for whom he enquired under the name of David Newberry, was prompt in response. His voice over the telephone sounded urgent and anxious.

“This is Atkinson speaking. Is that–er–er– h’m??”

“This is David Newberry,” the young man snapped. “Please rememher that that is the name and the style in which I wish to be addressed. When can I see you?”

“At any time you choose,” was the prompt response.

“In half an hour?”

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