The Nine Bears - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Nine Bears ebook

Edgar Wallace

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With the stealing of the fat Englishman’s wallet by Gregory Silinski, commences this extraordinary story of crime. Who are The Nine Bears? Who is Hyatt and the Man of the Eiffel Tower? And where is „LOLO” the secret rendezvous of the Nine? These are only a few of the facers that confront T. B. Smith, Assistant Commissioner from Scotland Yard, until the final dramatic scene aboard the „mad battleship”. This book is one of the most popular novels of Edgar Wallace, and has been translated into several other languages around the world. Novelist, playwright and journalist, Edgar Wallace, is best known for his popular detective and suspense stories which, in his lifetime, earned him the title, „King of the Modern Thriller”.

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Liczba stron: 307

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Contents

I. N.H.C.

II. A BUSINESS CONSULTATION

III. IN WHICH A CERTAIN MOMENTOUS QUESTION IS ASKED

IV. WHICH RELATES TO A NEWSPAPER SUICIDE

V. COUNT POLTAVO OFFERS HIS SERVICES

VI. A STRANGER COMES TO BURGOS

VII. SOME DISAPPEARANCES

VIII. THE AMBASSADOR TAKES A HAND

IX. INTRODUCING T.B.SMITH

X. THE ANTICIPATORS

XI. AT BRONTE'S BANK

XII. MURDER

XIII. HYATT

XIV. SIR GEORGE DINES

XV. THE DANCING GIRL

XVI. MARY BROWN

XVII. DEPORTATION

XVIII. IN THE "JOURNAL" OFFICE

XIX. THE BOOK

XX. AT THE ADMIRALTY

XXI. POLTAVO STRIKES

XXII. THE CONVICT FROM CEUTA

XXIII. THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

XXIV. THE NINE BEARS

XXV. IN THE GARDEN

XXVI. T.B. SMITH REPORTS

XXVII. THE LOST WARSHIP

XXVIII. THE "MARIA BRAGANZA"

XXIX. A MATTER OF INSURANCE

XXX. THE "MAD WARSHIP"

XXXI. THE FLIGHT

XXXII. POLTAVO LEAVES HURRIEDLY

XXXIII. AT "LOLO"

XXXIV. THE LAST OF THE NINE

I. N.H.C.

IT was a bad night in London, not wild or turbulent, but swathed to the eyes like an Eastern woman in a soft grey garment of fog. It engulfed the walled canyons of the city through which the traffic had roared all day, plugged up the maze of dark side streets, and blotted out the open squares. Close to the ground it was thick, viscous, impenetrable, so that one could not see a yard ahead, and walked ghostlike, adventuring into a strange world.

Occasionally it dispersed. In front of the opera house, numbers of arc-lights wrought a wavering mist-hung yellow square, into which a constant line of vehicles like monstrous shiny bugs emerged from the outer nowhere, disgorged their contents, and eclipsed again. And pedestrians in gay processional streamed across the ruddy glistening patch like figures on a slide.

Conspicuous in the shifting throng was a boy, ostensibly selling violets, but with a keen eye upon the arriving vehicles. Suddenly he darted to the curb, where an electric coupe had just drawn up. A man alighted heavily, and turned to assist a young woman.

For an instant the lad’s attention was deflected by the radiant vision. The girl, wrapped in a voluminous cloak of ivory colour, was tall and slim, with soft white throat and graceful neck; her eyes under shadowy lashes were a little narrow, but blue as autumn mist, and sparkling now with amusement.

“Watch your steps, auntie,” she warned laughingly, as a plump elderly little lady descended stiffly from the coupe. “These London fogs are dangerous.”

The boy stood staring at her, his feet as helpless as if they had taken root in the ground. Suddenly he remembered his mission. His native impudence reasserted itself, and he started forward.

“Voylets, lidy? Wear your colours. You ain’t allowed to trot without.”

The girl gazed at him, her blue eyes bright as stars on a windy night. An enchanting dimple twinkled about her curved lips in gay hide-and-seek, and when she laughed, fled upward to her eyes.

“Father,” she said, “will you buy my colours from this bold sporting gentleman?”

As the man fumbled in an inner pocket for change, the lad took a swift inventory. The face, beneath the tall hat, was a powerful oval, paste- coloured, with thin lips, and heavy lines from nostril to jaw. The eyes were close-set and of a turbid grey.

“It’s him,” the boy assured himself, and opened his mouth to speak.

“So you are a sporting man,” the girl rallied him gaily, adjusting the flowers.

The boy nodded, responding instantly to her mood.

“Only,” he swept her with shrewd, appraising eyes, that noted every detail of her delicate beauty and sumptuousness, “I don’t trot in the two-minute class myself.”

The girl laughed a clear silvery peal; and turned impulsively to the young man in evening dress who had just dismissed his hansom and joined the group.

It was the diversion the boy had prayed for. He took a quick step toward the older man.

“N.,” he said in a soft but distinct undertone. The man’s face blanched suddenly, and a coin which he held in his large, white-gloved palm, slipped jingling to the pavement.

The young messenger stooped and caught it up dextrously.

“N.,” he whispered again, insistently.

“H.,” the answer came hoarsely. The man’s lips trembled.

“C.,” finished the boy promptly and with satisfaction. Under cover of returning the coin, he thrust a slip of white paper into the other’s hand. Then he wheeled, ducked to the girl with a gay little swagger of impudence, threw a lightning glance of scrutiny at her young escort, and turning, was lost in the throng.

The whole incident occupied less than a minute, and presently the four were seated in their box, and the throbbing strains from the overture of I Pagliacci came floating up to them.

“I wish I were a little street gamin in London,” said the girl pensively, fingering the violets at her corsage. “Think of the adventures! Don’t you, Cord?”

“Don’t I wish you were?” Cord Van Ingen looked across at her with smiling significant eyes, which brought a flush to her cheeks.

“No,” he said softly, “I do not!”

The girl laughed at him and shrugged her round white shoulders.

“For a young diplomat, Cord, you are too obvious–too delightfully verdant. You should study indirection, subtlety, finesse–study Poltavo!”

At the name the boy’s brow darkened.

“Study the devil!” he muttered under his breath.

“That too, for a diplomat, is necessary!” she murmured sweetly.

“He isn’t coming here to-night?” Van Ingen asked in aggrieved tones.

The girl nodded, her eyes dancing with laughter.

“What you can see in that man, Doris,” he protested, “passes me! I’ll bet you anything you like that the fellow’s a rogue! A smooth, soft-smiling rascal! Lady Dinsmore,” he appealed to the older woman, “do you like him?”

“Oh, don’t ask Aunt Patricia!” cried the girl. “She thinks him quite the most fascinating man in London. Don’t deny it, auntie!”

“I shan’t,” said that lady calmly, “for it’s true! Count Poltavo,” she paused to inspect through her lorgnettes some newcomers in the opposite box, “Count Poltavo is the only interesting man in London. He is a genius.” She shut her lorgnettes with a snap. “It delights me to talk with him. He smiles and murmurs gay witticisms and quotes Talleyrand and Lucullus, and all the while in the back of his head, quite out of reach, his real opinions of you are being tabulated and ranged neatly in a row, like bottles on a shelf.”

“I’d like to take down some of those bottles,” said Doris thoughtfully. “Maybe some day I shall.”

“They’re probably labelled poison,” remarked Van Ingen, a little viciously. He looked at the girl with a growing sense of injury. Of late she had seemed absolutely changed toward him; and from being his dear friend, his childhood’s mate, with established intimacies, she had turned before his very eyes into an alien, almost an enemy, more beautiful than ever, to be true, but perverse, mocking, impish. She flouted him for his youth, his bluntness, his guileless transparency. But hardest of all to bear was the delicate derision with which she treated his awkward attempts to express his passion for her, to speak of the fever which had taken possession of him, almost against his will, and which at sight of her throbbed madly at his wrists and temples. And now, he reflected bitterly, with this velvet fop of a count looming up as a possible rival, with his savoir faire, and his absurd penchant for literature and art, what chance had he, a plain American, against such odds?– unless, as he profoundly believed, the chap was a crook. He determined to sound her father.

“Mr. Grayson,” he asked aloud, “what do you think–halloo!” He sprang up suddenly and thrust out a supporting arm.

Grayson had risen, and stood swaying slightly upon his feet. He was frightfully pale, and his countenance was contracted as if in pain. He lifted a wavering hand to his brow.

“I–I feel ill,” he said faintly. His hand fell limply to his side. He took a staggering step toward the door.

Van Ingen was beside him instantly.

“Lean on me, sir,” he urged quietly. He passed a steadying hand through Grayson’s, and guided him toward the passage.

“We’ll have you out of this in a jiffy,” he said cheerfully. “It’s the confounded stifling air of these places! It’s enough to make a grampus faint! Lady Dinsmore, will you look after Doris?”

“No! No!” the girl exclaimed. Her face was white and strained and fear darkened her eyes. In her distress she had risen, and stood, clasping tightly her father’s arm.

“We’ll all go together! Please, dear!” Her voice and eyes pleaded. She seemed trying to convey a hidden meaning, a secret urgency.

“Nonsense!” Grayson, still pallid and frowning, leaned heavily upon Van Ingen’s shoulder. Tiny beads of perspiration stood out upon his temples but his voice was stronger.

“Don’t make a scene, my girl.” He nodded toward the stalls, where already curious lorgnettes were beginning to be levelled at their box.

“Sit down!”

Doris obeyed mutely, her mobile lips quivering as she sought to suppress her emotion. She was conscious of a shiver which seemed to spread from her heart throughout her limbs. The oppression of a nameless fear took possession of her; it weighed her down. She sat very still, gripping her fan.

“I’ll be around fit as ever in the morning. ‘Night, Lady Dinsmore. Take care of my girl.”

Grayson spoke jerkily with a strong effort.

Lady Patricia Dinsmore regarded him coldly. She disliked the man cordially, and made no bones of it. In her heart she had never forgiven him for wedding her foolish younger sister, the family beauty, who had died at Doris’ birth far away from her kith and kin in the desolate wilds of New York.

“Good-night, Gerald,” she said drily. “Try to get a little sleep.” She turned to the younger man. “Put him to bed, Cord, and cut all the wires around the Savoy, so he won’t call up those wretched brokers. I think he’s trying to gobble the whole English market.”

She marked sharply the effect of her shaft. Grayson turned a shade paler. He clutched Van Ingen’s arm.

“Get me out of here!” he whispered hoarsely. Lady Patricia viewed their departing backs with a fleeting ironical smile.

“Your father, my dear,” she murmured to Doris, “is a very remarkable man.”

Out in the fresh air, Grayson revived amazingly. His feebleness disappeared as if by magic, and he stepped out briskly. He nodded to a hansom in the rank and the man drew in to the opening.

“The Savoy,” cried Grayson.

He sprang in hastily.

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