The Pawns Count - E. Phillips Oppenheim - ebook

The Pawns Count ebook

E. Phillips Oppenheim

0,0

Opis

E. Phillips Oppenheim was a British writer known for his thriller novels. He is credited with writing over 100 novels including suspense, international intrigue, romance, parables, and comedies. His protagonists are known for their love of luxury, gourmet meals, and their enjoyment of criminal activities. „The Pawns Count” is a novel during World War I and intrigue. German, Japanese, British and Americans play roles in this novel. A chemist, Sandy Graham, has discovered a new powerful explosive, but he let’s it slip in a London restaurant that he has made the discovery. So it should come as no surprise, really, when he goes to the lavatory to clean up and never comes back out. Several highly cultured spies from different governments set out to find him and the formula. Read this rather short book to find the answers.

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

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

Liczba stron: 351

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

Androidzie
iOS



Contents

FOREWORD

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

FOREWORD

“I am for England and England only,” John Lutchester, the Englishman, asserted.

“I am for Japan and Japan only,” Nikasti, the Jap, insisted.

I am for Germany first and America afterwards,” Oscar Fischer, the German-American pronounced.

“I am for America first, America only, America always,” Pamela Van Teyl, the American girl, declared.

They were all right except the German-American.

CHAPTER I

MÉFIEZ-VOUS!

TAISEZ-VOUS!

LES OREILLES ENNEMIES VOUS ÉCOUTENT!

The usual little crowd was waiting in the lobby of a fashionable London restaurant a few minutes before the popular luncheon hour. Pamela Van Teyl, a very beautiful American girl, dressed in the extreme of fashion, which she seemed somehow to justify, directed the attention of her companions to the notice affixed to the wall facing them.

“Except,” she declared, “for you poor dears who have been hurt, that is the first thing I have seen in England which makes me realise that you are at war.”

The younger of her two escorts, Captain Richard Holderness, who wore the uniform of a well-known cavalry regiment, glanced at the notice a little impatiently.

“What rot it seems!” he exclaimed. “We get fed up with that sort of thing in France. It’s always the same at every little railway station and every little inn. ‘Mefiez-vous! Taisez-vous!’ They might spare us over here.”

John Lutchester, a tall, clean-shaven man, dressed in civilian clothes, raised his eyeglass and read out the notice languidly.

“Well, I don’t know,” he observed. “Some of you Service fellows–not the Regulars, of course–do gas a good deal when you come back. I don’t suppose you any of you know anything, so it doesn’t really matter,” he added, glancing at his watch.

“Army’s full of Johnnies, who come from God knows where nowadays,” Holderness assented gloomily. “No wonder they can’t keep their mouths shut.”

“Seems to me you need them all,” Miss Pamela Van Teyl remarked with a smile.

“Of course we do,” Holderness assented, “and Heaven forbid that any of us Regulars should say a word against them. Jolly good stuff in them, too, as the Germans found out last month.”

“All the same,” Lutchester continued, still studying the notice, “news does run over London like quicksilver. If you step down to the American bar here, for instance, you’ll find that Charles is one of the best-informed men about the war in London. He has patrons in the Army, in the Navy, and in the Flying Corps, and it’s astonishing how communicative they seem to become after the second or third cocktail.”

“Cocktail, mark you, Miss Van Teyl,” Holderness pointed out. “We poor Englishmen could keep our tongues from wagging before we acquired some of your American habits.”

“The habits are all right,” Pamela retorted. “It’s your heads that are wrong.”

“The most valued product of your country,” Lutchester murmured, “is more dangerous to our hearts than to our heads.”

She made a little grimace and turned away, holding out her hand to a new arrival–a tall, broad-shouldered man, with a strong, cold face and keen, grey eyes, aggressive even behind his gold-rimmed spectacles. There was a queer change in his face as his eyes met Pamela’s. He seemed suddenly to become more human. His pleasure at seeing her was certainly more than the usual transatlantic politeness.

“Mr. Fischer,” she exclaimed, “they are saying hard things about our country! Please protect me.”

He bowed over her fingers. Then he looked up. His tone was impressive.

“If I thought that you needed protection, Miss Van Teyl–”

“Well, I can assure you that I do,” she interrupted, laughing. “You know my friends, don’t you?”

“I think I have that pleasure,” the American replied, shaking hands with Lutchester and Holderness.

“Now we’ll get an independent opinion,” the former observed, pointing to the wall. “We were discussing that notice, Mr. Fischer. You’re almost as much a Londoner as a New Yorker. What do you think?–is it superfluous or not?”

Fischer read it out and smiled.

“Well,” he admitted, “in America we don’t lay much store by that sort of thing, but I don’t know as we’re very good judges about what goes on over here. I shouldn’t call this place, anyway, a hotbed of intrigue. Excuse me!”

He moved off to greet some incoming guests–a well-known stockbroker and his partner. Lutchester looked after him curiously.

“Is Mr. Fischer one of your typical millionaires, Miss Van Teyl?” he asked.

She shrugged her shoulders.

“We have no typical millionaires,” she assured him. “They come from all classes and all States.”

“Fischer is a Westerner, isn’t he?”

Pamela nodded, but did not pursue the conversation. Her eyes were fixed upon a girl who had just entered, and who was looking a little doubtfully around, a girl plainly but smartly dressed, with fluffy light hair, dark eyes, and a very pleasant expression. Pamela, who was critical of her own sex, found the newcomer attractive.

“Is that, by any chance, one of our missing guests, Captain Holderness?” she inquired, turning towards him. “I don’t know why, but I have an idea that it is your sister.”

“By Jove, yes!” the young man assented, stepping forward. “Here we are, Molly, and at last you are going to meet Miss Van Teyl. I’ve bored Molly stiff, talking about you,” he explained, as Pamela held out her hand.

The girls, who stood talking together for a moment, presented rather a striking contrast. Molly Holderness was pretty but usual. Pamela was beautiful and unusual. She had the long, slim body of a New York girl, the complexion and eyes of a Southerner, the savoir faire of a Frenchwoman. She was extraordinarily cosmopolitan, and yet extraordinarily American. She impressed every one, as she did Molly Holderness at that moment, with a sense of charm. One could almost accept as truth her own statement–that she valued her looks chiefly because they helped people to forget that she had brains.

“I won’t admit that I have ever been bored, Miss Van Teyl,” Molly Holderness assured her, “but Dick has certainly told me all sorts of wonderful things about you–how kind you were in New York, and what a delightful surprise it was to see you down at the hospital at Nice. I am afraid he must have been a terrible crock then.”

“Got well in no time as soon as Miss Van Teyl came along,” Holderness declared. “It was a bit dreary down there at first. None of my lot were sent south, and a familiar face means a good deal when you’ve got your lungs full of that rotten gas and are feeling like nothing on earth. I wonder where that idiot Sandy is. I told him to be here a quarter of an hour before you others– thought we might have had a quiet chat first. Will you stand by the girls for a moment, Lutchester, while I have a look round?” he added.

He hobbled away, one of the thousands who were thronging the streets and public places of London–brave, simple-minded young men, all of them, with tangled recollections in their brains of blood and fire and hell, and a game leg or a lost arm to remind them that the whole thing was not a nightmare. He looked a little disconsolately around, and was on the point of rejoining the others when the friend for whom he was searching came hurriedly through the turnstile doors.

“Sandy, old chap,” Holderness exclaimed, with an air of relief, “here you are at last!”

“Cheero, Dick!” was the light-hearted reply. “Fearfully sorry I’m late, but listen–just listen for one moment.”

The newcomer threw his hat and coat to the attendant. He was a rather short, freckled young man, with a broad, high forehead and light-coloured hair. His eyes just now were filled with the enthusiasm which trembled in his tone.

“Dick,” he continued, gripping his friend’s arm tightly, “I’m late, I know, but I’ve great news. I’ve motored straight up from Salisbury Plain. I’ve done it! I swear to you, Dick, I’ve done it!”

“Done what?” Holderness demanded, a little bewildered.

“I’ve perfected my explosive–the thing I was telling you about last week,” was the triumphant reply. “The whole world’s struggling for it, Dick. The German chemists have been working night and day for three years, just for one little formula, and I’ve got it! One of my shells, which fell in a wood at daylight this morning, killed every living thing within a mile of it. The bark fell off the trees, and the labourers in a field beyond threw down their implements and ran for their lives. It’s the principle of intensification. The poison feeds on its own vapours. The formula–I’ve got it in my pocket-book– ”

“Look here, old fellow,” Holderness interrupted, “it’s all splendid, of course, and I’m dying to hear you talk about it, but come along now and be introduced to Miss Van Teyl. Molly’s over there, waiting, and we’re all half starved.”

“So am I,” was the cheerful answer. “Hullo, Lutchester, how are you? Just one moment. I must get a wash, I motored straight through, and I’m choked with dust. Where do I go?”

“I’ll show you,” Lutchester volunteered. “Hurry up.”

The two men sprang up the stairs towards the dressing-room, and Holderness strolled back to where his sister and Pamela were talking to a small, dark young man, with rather high cheek-bones and olive complexion. Pamela turned around with a smile.

“I have found an old friend,” she told him. “Baron Sunyea–Captain Holderness. Baron Sunyea used to be in the Japanese Embassy at Washington.”

The two men shook hands.

“I was interested,” the Japanese said slowly, “in your conversation just now about that notice. Your young friend was telling you news very loudly indeed, it seemed to me, which you would not like known across the North Sea. Am I not right?”

“In a sense you are, of course,” Holderness admitted, “but here at Henry’s– why, the place is like a club. Where are the enemies’ ears to come from, I should like to know?”

“Where we least expect to find them, as a rule,” was the grave reply.

“Quite right,” Lutchester, who had just rejoined them, agreed. “They still say, you know, that our home Secret Service is just as bad as our foreign Secret Service is good.”

Holderness smiled in somewhat superior fashion.

“Can’t say that I have much faith in that spy talk,” he declared. “No doubt there was any quantity of espionage before the war, but it’s pretty well weeded out now. I say, how good civilisation is!” he went on, his eyes dwelling lovingly on the interior of the restaurant. “Tophole, isn’t it, Lutchester– these smart girls, with their furs and violets and perfumes, the little note of music in the distance, the cheerful clatter of plates, the smiling faces of the waiters, and the undercurrent of pleasant voices. Don’t laugh at me, please, Miss Van Teyl. I’ve three weeks more of it, by George–perhaps more. I don’t go up before my Board till Thursday fortnight. Dash it, I wish Sandy would hurry up!”

“You never told me how you got your wound,” Pamela observed, as the conversation flagged for a moment.

“Can’t even remember,” was the careless reply. “We were all scrapping away as hard as we could one afternoon, and nearly a dozen of us got the knock, all at the same time. It’s quite all right now, though, except for the stiffness. It was the gas did me in…. What a fellow Sandy is! You people must be starving.”

They waited for another five minutes. Then Holderness limped towards the stairs with a little imprecation. Lutchester stopped him.

“Don’t you go, Holderness,” he begged. “I’ll find him and bring him down by the scruff of the neck.”

He strode up the stairs on a mission which ended in unexpected failure. Presently he returned, a slight frown upon his forehead.

“I am awfully sorry,” he announced, “but I can’t find him anywhere. I left him washing his hands, and he said he’d be down in a moment. Are you quite sure that we haven’t missed him?”

“There hasn’t been a sign of him,” Molly declared promptly. “I am so hungry that my eyes have been glued upon the staircase all the time.”

Pamela, who had slipped away a few moments before, rejoined them with a little expression of surprise.

“Isn’t Captain Graham here yet?” she asked incredulously.

“Not a sign of him,” Holderness replied. “Queer set out, isn’t it? We won’t wait a moment longer. Take my sister and Miss Van Teyl in, will you?” he went on, laying his hand on Lutchester’s shoulder. “Ferrani will look after you. I’ll follow directly.”

The chief maitre d’hotel advanced to meet them with a gesture of invitation, and led them to a table arranged for five. The restaurant was crowded, and the coloured band, from the space against the wall on their left, was playing a lively one-step. Ferrani was buttonholed by an important client as they crossed the threshold, and they lingered for a moment, waiting for his guidance. Whilst they stood there, a curious thing happened. The leader of the orchestra seemed to draw his fingers recklessly across the strings of his instrument and to produce a discord which was almost appalling. A half-pained, half-amused exclamation rippled down the room. For a moment the music ceased. The conductor, who was responsible for the disturbance, was sitting motionless, his hand hanging down by his side. His features remained imperturbable, but the gleam of his white teeth, and a livid little streak under his eyes gave to his usually good-humoured face an utterly altered, almost a malignant expression. Ferrani stepped across and spoke to him for a moment angrily. The man took up his instrument, waved his hand, and the music re-commenced in a subdued note. Pamela turned to the chief maitre d’hotel, who had now re-joined them.

“What an extraordinary breakdown!” she exclaimed. “Is your leader a man of nerves?”

“Never have I heard such a thing in all my days,” Ferrani assured them fervently. “Joseph is one of the most wonderful performers in the world. His control over his instrument is marvellous…. Captain Holderness asked particularly for this table.”

They seated themselves at the table reserved for them against the wall. Their cicerone was withdrawing with a low bow, but Pamela leaned over to speak to him.

“Your music,” she told him, “is quite wonderful. The orchestra consists entirely of Americans, I suppose?”

“Entirely, madam,” Ferrani assented. “They are real Southern darkies, from Joseph, the leader, down to little Peter, who blows the motor-horn.”

Pamela’s interest in the matter remained unabated.

“I tell you it makes one feel almost homesick to hear them play,” she went on, with a little sigh. “Did they come direct from the States?”

Ferrani shook his head.

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.

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.