The New Tenant - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The New Tenant ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

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Turmoil over Thurlow House. The New Tenant of the garden house has barely moved in when a grisly murder happens. Is Mister Brown, The New Tenant guilty? Who is he, anyway? His past is shrouded in mystery and nobody seems to know anything about him other than that he is wealthy? Strange things continue to happen... „The New Tenant” is a devious mystery from the „the prince of storytellers” Phillips Oppenheim who wrote nearly 150 novels during his career. Very much in the genre of „The Woman in White” and other late Victorian mysteries, this book evolves slowly, with lengthy descriptions of setting, scenery, and society. If you like British style mysteries, this one’s for you!

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Liczba stron: 378

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Contents

I. FALCON’S NEST

II. THE MURDER NEAR THE FALCON’S NEST

III. MR. BERNARD BROWN

IV. AN EVIL END TO AN EVIL LIFE

V. THE INNER ROOM AT THE FALCON’S NEST

VI. A TERRIBLE ENEMY

VII. HELEN THURWELL’S SUSPICIONS

VIII. "DID YOU KILL SIR GEOFFREY KYNASTON?"

IX. MR. BROWN DINES AT THE COURT

X. THE TRAGEDY OF RACHEL KYNASTON

XI. LEVY & SON, PRIVATE AGENTS

XII. A JEWEL OF A SON

XIII. A STRANGE MEETING

XIV. HELEN THURWELL ASKS A DIRECT QUESTION

XV. A LITERARY CELEBRITY

XVI. A SNUB FOR A BARONET

XVII. BERNARD MADDISON AND HELEN THURWELL

XVIII. A CHEQUE FOR £1,000

XIX. AN UNPLEASANT DISCOVERY FOR BERNARD BROWN

XX. "GOD! THAT I MAY DIE!

XXI. SIR ALLAN BEAUMERVILLE HAS A CALLER

XXII. “GOD FORBID IT!”

XXIII. LOVERS

XXIV. A WOMAN’S LOVE

XXV. MR. LEVY, JUNIOR, GOES ON THE CONTINENT

XXVI. HELEN DECIDES TO GO HOME

XXVII. MR. THURWELL MAKES SOME INQUIRIES

XXVIII. SIR ALLAN BEAUMERVILLE VISITS THE COURT

XXIX. THE SCENE CHANGES

XXX. BENJAMIN LEVY RUNS HIS QUARRY TO EARTH

XXXI. BENJAMIN LEVY WRITES HOME

XXXII. A STRANGE TRIO OF PASSENGERS

XXXIII. VISITORS FOR MR. BERNARD MADDISON

XXXIV. ARRESTED

XXXV. COMMITTED FOR TRIAL

XXXVI. MR. LEVY PROMISES TO DO HIS BEST

XXXVII. BERNARD A PRISONER

XXXVIII. “THERE IS MY HAND—DARE YOU TAKE IT?”

XXXIX. MR. BENJAMIN LEVY IS BUSY

XL. A STRANGE BIRTHDAY PARTY

XLI. INNOCENT

XLII. AT LAST

I. FALCON’S NEST

Thurwell Court, by Thurwell-on-the-Sea, lay bathed in the quiet freshness of an early morning. The dewdrops were still sparkling upon the terraced lawns like little globules of flashing silver, and the tumult of noisy songsters from the thick shrubberies alone broke the sweet silence. The peacocks strutting about the grey stone balcony and perched upon the worn balustrade were in deshabille, not being accustomed to display their splendors to an empty paradise, and the few fat blackbirds who were hopping about on the lawn did so in a desultory manner, as though they were only half awake and had turned out under protest. Stillness reigned everywhere, but it was the sweet hush of slowly awakening day rather than the drowsy, languorous quiet of exhausted afternoon. With one’s eyes shut one could tell that the pulse of day was only just beginning to beat. The pure atmosphere was buoyant with the vigorous promise of morning, and gently laden with the mingled perfumes of slowly opening flowers. There was life in the breathless air.

The sunlight was everywhere. In the distance it lay upon the dark hillside, played upon the deep yellow gorse and purple heather of the moorland, and, further away still, flashed upon a long silver streak of the German Ocean. In the old-fashioned gardens of the court it shone upon luscious peaches hanging on the time-mellowed red-brick walls; lit up the face and gleamed upon the hands of the stable clock, and warmed the ancient heart of the stooping, grey-haired old gardener’s help who, with blinking eyes and hands tucked in his trousers pockets, was smoking a matutinal pipe, seated on the wheelbarrow outside the tool shed.

Around the mansion itself it was very busy, casting a thousand sunbeams upon its long line of oriel windows, and many quaint shadows of its begabled roof upon the lawns and bright flower-beds below. On one of the terraces a breakfast-table was laid for two, and here its splendour was absolutely dazzling. It gleamed upon the sparkling silver, and the snow-white tablecloth; shone with a delicate softness upon the freshly-gathered fruit and brilliant flowers, and seemed to hover with a gentle burnished light upon the ruddy golden hair of a girl who sat there waiting, with her arm resting lightly upon the stone balustrade, and her eyes straying over the quaint well-kept gardens to the open moorland and dark patches of wooded country beyond.

“Good morning, Helen! First, as usual.”

She turned round with a somewhat languid greeting. A tall, well-made man, a little past middle-age, in gaiters and light tweed coat, had stepped out on to the balcony from one of the open windows. In his right hand he was swinging carelessly backwards and forwards by a long strap a well-worn letter-bag.

“Is breakfast ready?” he inquired.

“Waiting for you, father,” she answered, touching a small handbell by her side. “Try one of those peaches. Burdett says they are the finest he ever raised.”

He stretched out his hand for one, and sinking into a low basket chair, commenced lazily to peel it, with his eyes wandering over the sunny landscape. A footman brought out the tea equipage and some silver-covered dishes, and, after silently arranging them upon the table, withdrew.

“What an exquisite morning!” Mr. Thurwell remarked, looking up at the blue cloudless sky, and pulling his cap a little closer over his eyes to protect them from the sun. “We might be in Italy again.”

“Indeed we might,” she answered. “I am going to imagine that we are, and make my breakfast of peaches and cream and chocolate! Shall I give you some?”

He shook his head, with a little grimace.

“No, thanks. I’m Philistine enough to prefer devilled kidneys and tea. I wonder if there is anything in the letters.”

He drew a key from his waistcoat pocket, and, unlocking the bag, shook its contents upon the tablecloth. His daughter looked at the pile with a faint show of interest. There were one or two invitations, which he tossed over to her, a few business letters, which he put on one side for more leisurely perusal later on, and a little packet from his agent which he opened at once, and the contents of which brought a slight frown into his handsome face.

Helen Thurwell glanced through her share without finding anything interesting. Tennis parties, archery meetings, a bazaar fête; absolutely nothing fresh. She was so tired of all that sort of thing–tired of eternally meeting the same little set of people, and joining in the same round of so-called amusements. There was nothing in Northshire society which attracted her. It was all very stupid, and she was very much bored.

“Some news here that will interest you, Helen,” her father remarked suddenly. “Who do you think is coming home?”

She shook her head. She was not in the least curious.

“I don’t remember any one going away lately,” she remarked. “How warm it is!”

“Sir Geoffrey Kynaston is coming back.”

After all, she was a little interested. She looked away from the sunny gardens and into her father’s face.

“Really!”

“It is a fact!” he declared. “Douglas says that he will be here to-day or to-morrow. Let me see, it must be nearly fifteen years since he was in England. Time he settled down, if he means to at all.”

“Was he very wild, then?” she asked.

The squire nodded.

“Rather!” he answered dryly. “I dare say people will have forgotten all about it by now, though. Forty thousand a year covers a multitude of sins, especially in a tenth baronet!”

She asked no more questions, but leaned back in her chair, and looked thoughtfully across the open country towards the grey turrets of Kynaston Towers, from which a flag was flying. Mr. Thurwell re-read his agent’s letter with a slight frown upon his forehead.

“I don’t know what to do here,” he remarked.

“What is it?” she asked absently. She was watching the flag slowly unfurling itself in the breeze, and fluttering languidly above the tree-tops. It was odd to think that a master was coming to rule there.

“It’s about Falcon’s Nest. I wish I’d never thought of letting it!”

“Why? It would be a great deal better occupied, surely!”

“If I could let it to a decent tenant, of course it would. But, you know that fellow Chapman, of Mallory? He wants it!”

She looked up at him quickly.

“You surely would not let it to a man like that?”

“Certainly not. But, on the other hand, I don’t want to offend him. If I were to decide to stand for the county at the next election, he would be my most useful man in Mallory, or my worst enemy. He’s just the sort of fellow to take offence–quickly, too.”

“Can’t you tell him it’s let?”

“Not unless I do let it to some one. Of course not!”

“But are there no other applications?”

“Yes, there is one other,” he answered; “but the most awkward part of it is that it’s from a complete stranger. Fellow who calls himself ‘Brown.’”

“Let me see the letter,” she said.

He passed it over the table to her. It was written on plain notepaper, in a peculiar, cramped handwriting.

“London, May 30.

“Dear sir,–I understand, from an advertisement in this week’s Field, that you are willing to let ‘Falcon’s Nest,’ situated on your estate. I shall be happy to take it at the rent you quote, if not already disposed of. My solicitors are Messrs. Cuthbert, of Lincoln’s Inn; and my bankers, Gregsons. I may add that I am a bachelor, living alone. The favor of your immediate reply will much oblige,

“Yours faithfully,

“Bernard Brown.”

She folded the letter up, and returned it to her father without remark.

“You see,” Mr. Thurwell said, “my only chance of escaping from Chapman, without offending him, is to say that it is already let, and to accept this fellow’s offer straight off. But it’s an awful risk. How do I know that Brown isn’t a retired tallow-chandler or something of that sort?”

“Why not telegraph to his solicitors?” she suggested; “they would know who he was, I suppose.”

“That’s not a bad idea!” he declared. “Morton shall ride over to Mallory at once. I’m glad you thought of it, Helen.”

Having come to this decision, Mr. Thurwell turned round and made an excellent breakfast, after which he and his daughter spent the day very much in the same manner as any other English country gentleman and young lady are in the habit of doing. He made a pretense of writing some letters and arranging some business affairs with his agent in the library for an hour, and, later on in the morning, he drove over to Mallory, and took his seat on the magistrates’ bench during the hearing of a poaching case. After lunch, he rode to an outlying farm to inspect a new system of drainage, and when he returned, about an hour before dinner-time, he considered that he had done a good day’s work.

Helen spent the early part of the morning in the garden, and arranging freshly cut flowers about the house. Then she practised for an hour, solely out of a sense of duty, for she was no musician. Directly the time was up, she closed the piano with a sigh of relief, and spent the rest of the time before two o’clock reading a rather stupid novel. After luncheon she made a call several miles off, driving herself in a light-brown cart, and played several sets of tennis, having for her partner a very mild and brainless young curate. At dinner-time she and her father met again, and when he entered the room he had two slips of orange-colored paper in his hand.

“Well, what news?” she inquired.

He handed the telegrams to her without a word, and she glanced them through. The first was from the bankers.

“To Guy Davenant Thurwell, Esq., Thurwell Court, Northshire.

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