The Man and His Kingdom - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The Man and His Kingdom ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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A best-selling author of novels, short stories, magazine articles, translations, and plays, Oppenheim published over 150 books. He is considered one of the originators of the thriller genre, his novels also range from spy thrillers to romance, but all have an undertone of intrigue. „The Man and His Kingdom” is set in an imaginary South American Republic. The hero is a benevolent English millionaire and ex-Member of Parliament who, after many adventures, marries the President’s beautiful daughter and attempts to rules in his stead. It is a brilliant, nervous, intensely dramatic tale of love, intrigue, and revolution in a South American State. If you have a fondness for early 20th century adventure you should find this to be an entertaining read.

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Liczba stron: 373

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Contents

CHAPTER I. FELLOW-TRAVELLERS

CHAPTER II. A DEAL WITH THE REPUBLIC

CHAPTER III. THE PRESIDENT AT HOME

CHAPTER IV. THE GREEN CARMENITA

CHAPTER V. A MEETING AT THE HOTEL

CHAPTER VI. FOR A MAN'S LIFE

CHAPTER VII. THE PRESIDENT IS FIRM

CHAPTER VIII. BY ORDER OF THE STATE

CHAPTER IX. A DINNER PARTY AT THE PRESIDENCY

CHAPTER X. SAGASTA

CHAPTER XI. A RESCUE

CHAPTER XII. THE WARNING GUN

CHAPTER XIII. THE CRY OF THE PBOPLE

CHAPTER XIV. THE SHOT ACROSS THE SQUARE

CHAPTER XV. AN AMBASSADOR

CHAPTER XVI. BEAU DÉSIR

CHAPTER XVII. A STRANGER FROM THE MOUNTAINS

CHAPTER XVIII. THE TEMPTER

CHAPTER XIX. THE COMING OF GREGORY DENE

CHAPTER XX. THE SEÑORA HAS PLANS

CHAPTER XXI. THE RIFLE-SHOT AT DAWN

CHAPTER XXII. A FACE AMONGST THE SHADOWS

CHAPTER XXIII. A YELLOW RIBBON

CHAPTER XXIV. A TRAGEDY ON THE MOUNTAIN

CHAPTER XXV. THE DICTATOR

CHAPTER XXVI. A MAN AND HIS WIFB

CHAPTER XXVII. THE THWARTING OF RIMAREZ

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE CONFESSION OF TERNISSA

CHAPTER XXIX. DOM PEDRO'S SCHEME

CHAPTER XXX. THE DAYS OF TOIL

CHAPTER XXXI. THE TREASURE IN THE SCHOOL-HOUSE

CHAPTER XXXII. THE PRESIDENT AND LUCIA

CHAPTER XXXIII. THE SONG OF DEATH

CHAPTER XXXIV. A NIGHT OF DREAMS

CHAPTER XXXV. THE SALVATION OF RIMAREZ

CHAPTER XXXVI. TERNISSA IN PERIL

CHAPTER XXXVII. THE PRESIDENT'S SUSPICION

CHAPTER XXXVIII. THE SECRET PATH

CHAPTER XXXIX. THE BLACK FEVER

CHAPTER XL. A WONDERFUL VISIT

CHAPTER XLI. SAN MARTINA EN FÊTE

CHAPTER XLII. POLITICS AND LOVE

CHAPTER XLIII. DENE'S LOVEMAKING

CHAPTER XLIV. A DRAMATIC ELOPEMENT

CHAPTER I. FELLOW-TRAVELLERS

“This is,” he remarked cheerfully, “our last morning.”

“I suppose so,” she answered, without enthusiasm.

“In a few hours,” he continued, “you will be receiving your first impressions of your new home. I think I understood you to say. Miss Denison, that you were going to live, for some time at any rate, in San Martina?”

She assented, but without raising her eyes, and with certain indications of uneasiness.

“It is probable,” she said. “My plans are very unsettled, however. It will depend largely upon–upon–”

He waited patiently, but she did not conclude her sentence. Throughout that long voyage from England he had noticed on her part a marked and singular avoidance of any discussion as to her destination or future. Until this last hour he had respected her obvious wishes–he had, indeed, very little curiosity in his nature, and her avoidance of the subject was quite sufficient for him. But latterly another idea had occurred to him. San Martina was the last place in the world likely to attract chance visitors or tourists; it was also one of the least suitable spots on earth for a woman to find herself in, alone and unprotected. Had she by any chance been deceived in her reports of the place?

“I wonder,” he said, “if you understand the sort of country you are going to–what you will think of the life.”

The sun was very hot, even under their awning. Yet she shivered as she answered him, and he caught a strange gleam in her eyes which he had noticed there once before when some reference had been made to their journey’s end.

“If you do not mind,” she answered slowly, “I would rather not think about it I would rather talk about something else.”

The man’s face was clouded. Yet he turned towards her with a certain air of resolution.

“Every day throughout this long voyage,” he said, “you have avoided all mention of the future. You have talked as though the day of our arrival at San Martina was the natural end of all intercourse between us.”

“That is–what it must be,” she murmured.

He smiled indulgently.

“That,” he said, “is impossible. It is a proof to me that you know nothing of San Martina. It calls itself a city–it ranks as a state. Yet it contains only eight thousand inhabitants, and there are not half a dozen European families there. Now, how can you expect that we shall not meet in such a place as this. We–”

She stopped him with a little gesture.

“You do not understand,” she said. “It is impossible for me to make you understand.”

“Perhaps,” he said, after a moment’s hesitation, “I am not quite so much in the dark as you imagine. You may remember that on the first day of our voyage I picked up a letter which you had dropped, and restored it to you.”

She gave a little gasp. He could see the colour slowly fading from her cheeks.

“You–you did not read it?” she faltered.

“I need not tell you that I did not,” he answered. “But curiously enough as I stooped to pick it up I saw my own name on the open page. Of course I looked at it for a moment. The sentence in which my own name occurred stared me in the face. That was all I saw. But it struck me as being curious.”

“Tell me,” she begged, “exactly what you read.”

“I think that this was the sentence,” he continued. “‘If by any evil chance Gregory Dene is your fellow-passenger,–remember.’ That is every word I saw, but you will admit that it read oddly to me.”

“You read no more–no more than that?”

“I pledge you my word,” he answered gravely. “If I could have seen less, I would.”

She sat quite still for several moments with half-closed eyes. Gregory Dene began to fed a little uncomfortable.

“At any rate,” he said, “we have had a pleasant voyage. It has been something to remember.”

“It has been something–to remember–always.” she murmured.

“I had hoped,” he continued, “that our friendship would become a permanent thing–that you would allow me to visit you when we landed.”

She opened her eyes and fixed them upon him. He felt that he had never before understood how beautiful grey eyes may be.

“In a few hours,” she said, “this voyage comes to an end. With it our friendship–if you will call it so–also terminates.”

“You mean that–seriously?”

“I mean it.”

“Of your own will?”

She paused for a moment. Then she answered him.

“Of necessity.”

Gregory Dene rose slowly to his feet and walked away to the rail of the little steamer; For some little time he remained with his back to her, thinking. The thing was so incomprehensible that the more he thought the more bewildered he became. It was one of the furthermost corners of the world for which he was bound, a tiny little Republic without history or any possible attraction for travellers or chance visitors. The girl who had been his fellow-traveller from England had not mentioned her destination to him until they had left the great Ocean Liner at Buenos Ayres, only to meet again on the little tramp steamer in which they were completing their journey. His surprise at seeing her had been great. Of all places in the world San Martina was one of the most impossible for a woman of her age and looks, to arrive at alone and without powerful friends. Had she been deceived in any way–misled? Her voice broke in upon his wondering.

“Mr. Dene.”

He stooped once more beneath the shabby little stretch of awning, and returned to her side. There was a slight nervous flush on her cheeks. Her soft eyes sought his appealingly.

“Won’t you be reasonable, please?” she begged. “Don’t spoil the memory of these last six weeks. They will always remain to me the pleasantest part of my life–to look back upon. I am a very unhappy and a very unfortunate woman. You will not add to my troubles, will you?”

“God forbid,” he answered fervently. “Indeed, I am very foolish, perhaps you may think impertinent, to ask you so many questions. Only I sincerely trust that you know the sort of place you are going to.”

She shuddered a little.

“My voyage,” she said, “is not one of pleasure.”

“At least,” he remarked, “we must meet.”

“That will be,” she said softly, “as fate directs. Who can tell what is in store for us?”

He strolled away with a shrug of the shoulders, and a sensation of annoyance. She was altogether too sentimental and enigmatic. He was not in the least in love with her–he was only a little disturbed by the fear lest she might in some way have been deceived as to the nature of the life which lay before her. He had done his best to warn her.

The rest was no matter of his. There was a mystery about her journey and her destination in which he himself, according to that letter which he had picked up, seemed to figure in some hidden and mysterious way. Whatever it was, a few days must make it all clear. Till then he could leave it.

He climbed the steps on to the bridge and entered into conversation with the fat little Portuguese captain, who was dad in a white linen suit, and who held above his perspiring head a green umbrella. He had relinquished the care of his ship to the pilot who stood by his side. Already they were drawing very close to the harbour of San Martina. The captain was disposed for conversation, and accepted Dene’s agar with a florid little outburst of thanks.

“The voyage?–yes, it had seemed long to Señor Dene, no doubt Four days and three nights–yes, it was tedious without doubt after the sixteen knots of the great English steamer which had brought them from Liverpool. But, after all, was it a matter for wonder? San Martina was but a hole, a veritable hole–a home for dogs, no more. Few people indeed went there save dealers in horses and grain, and they for the most part were half-breeds, and far from being desirable companions for one holding”–the little man drew himself up–“an official position. It was many voyages since he had carried an Englishman, certainly never before an Englishwoman so young and so beautiful as the Señorita. Without doubt, the Señor knew her destination and the object of her visit to San Martina. She would be going, of course, to the President’s–whose house else was fit to receive her?” The little man’s black bead-like eyes were twinkling with curiosity, but Dene’s amiability had vanished. He answered curtly, and turned upon his heel. He walked down the deck of the narrow evil-smelling little steamer, and stood once more before the girl.

She had not moved. The book had fallen from her lap, and her eyes were fixed steadily seaward. Dene noticed that she had chosen the side of the steamer remote from the shore which they were nearing, and that she kept her face always turned along the ocean path by which they had come. She moved a few of her belongings from his empty chair by her side, and looked up at him with a ghost of a smile upon her lips.

“Come,” she said, “we have an hour or two longer. Talk to me. I want to escape from my thoughts. Tell me once more of this strange colony of yours. Let us talk of Beau Desir.”

He saw that she was on the point of a nervous breakdown, and perhaps for the first time he appreciated the tragedy of her pale, terror-stricken face. He was ashamed of certain half-formed suspicions which had crept into his mind, and sitting down by her side they fell easily enough into one of their long talks. It was a subject which she seemed never weary of discussing with him. In the little state of San Martina, a day’s ride from the city, was a colony of his own founding, consisting chiefly of men who in more thickly populated countries had found the struggles of life too great for them. There were men and women there whom he had rescued from starvation, from despair, even from crime. In the valley of Beau Desir they had started life afresh. There was the land, fruitful and virgin soil most of it, and their labour. He had brought them to it, supplied the machinery, and there all suggestions of charity ended. From the very first, the scheme had proved successful. They were easily able to raise from the land more than enough for their own subsistence. The profits of the great horse ranche which was Dene’s especial hobby sufficed for all their extraneous needs. Dene had been to England to buy more machinery and stock, and to fetch money to purchase the valley outright from the Republic.

The increasing noise on deck broke in upon their conversation. They were in the bay of San Martina, and rapidly nearing the dock. Then Dene made his last effort.

“It is the end of our journey. Miss Denison,” he said quietly. “I am not going to ask you any more questions. I do not wish to say anything likely to give you pain, but I cannot let you go without asking you to remember one thing. You are coming as a stranger to a wild, unformed country where I am afraid you will find what we are used to reckon as civilisation an unknown quantity. I do not know what connections you may have here, but I want you to remember that at any time a single word or message will bring you a friend.”

He held out his hand. She looked into his face with streaming eyes.

“Thank you,” she said. “I will remember.”

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