The Secret of the Barbican and Other Stories - J.S. Fletcher - ebook

The Secret of the Barbican and Other Stories ebook

J.S. Fletcher

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The protagonist is a wonderful lawyer who was born in a small town. Advocates visits the museum and notices rare moenty. And realizes that they were stolen. He immediately goes to investigate... and the trail of a thief leads him to rather unusual places...

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Liczba stron: 482

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Contents

Against Time

Part I

Part II

Part III

The Earl, the Warder and the Wayward Heiress

Chapter I. The Ten Thousand Pounds Wager

Chapter II. Dropped Out

Chapter III. Malicious Damage

Chapter IV. The Birth Mark

Chapter V. Social Ambitions

Chapter VI. The Well-Feathered Nest

The Fifteenth-Century Crozier

Chapter I. After Four Hundred Years

Chapter II. The Ditty Box

Chapter III. The Sub-Dean’s Advice

Chapter IV. Expert

Chapter V. The Buried Secret

The Yellow Dog

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Room 53

Chapter I. The Amsterdam Diamond Merchant

Chapter II. The Wicked Captain

The Secret of the Barbican

Chapter I. The Siege Coins

Chapter II. Snuffy of Towler’s Rents

Chapter III. Mother Capstick

The Silhouette

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Blind Gap Moor

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

St. Morkil’s Isle

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Extra-Judicial

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

The Second Capsule

I

II

The Way to Jericho

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

Chapter IV

Chapter V

Patent No. 33

Chapter I. A Dead Man’s Library

Chapter II. The Voice from the Dead

Chapter III. Strategy

Chapter IV. The Slip of Paper

The Selchester Missal

Chapter I

Chapter II

Chapter III

The Murder in the Mayor’s Parlour

I

II

III

IV

Against Time

Part I

At five minutes to one o’clock on that spring Saturday afternoon, Ledbitter, senior clerk at Watson & Metcalfe’s, contractors, of Walford, had no other idea in his mind than that of joy that the week-end interval was near at hand. He was a hard-working, cheerfully energetic young man, who never shirked his job from Monday to Saturday–but he was always thankful when Saturday arrived. Saturday meant so much. Ledbitter was a husband of three years’ standing, and there was a youthful Ledbitter at home, who was just beginning to walk and talk. On Saturday afternoons Ledbitter took him out in the Park, guiding his tottering steps, and conversing with him about the ducks and wild-fowl on the ponds. Moreover, Saturday heralded Sunday. On Sunday you could stay in bed an hour longer and eat all your meals without hurrying; on Sunday Mr. and Mrs. Ledbitter took the rising hope to see his grandparents. Oh, yes, Saturday and Sunday were oases in the desert of labour–splendid days of rest and leisure. No fear, said Ledbitter, of a man like himself failing to appreciate them. Three minutes more, and the clock would strike one, and he would be free to race home, and–

Sharman, the manager, came across to Ledbitter’s desk as the clerk was locking it up.

“You posted that tender of Steel & Cardyke’s all right yesterday?” he asked.

“Yesterday, yes!” answered Ledbitter. “Last night it was.”

“Registered it, of course?” said Sharman.

“Yes, it was registered,” replied Ledbitter.

Sharman took up a book that lay on the desk and turned it over.

“I don’t see the receipt,” he remarked. “Haven’t you pasted it up?”

“It’s in another waistcoat pocket at home,” answered Ledbitter. “I’ll bring it Monday.”

“Don’t forget,” said Sharman. “You should always paste these receipts up at once. It’s all we’ve got to show the governors that a tender’s been sent.”

He turned away to his own desk, and Ledbitter said good-morning and hurried out. He was glad to get out, glad that Sharman had not kept him talking–had not looked at him. For in the very act of telling Sharman that he had posted the tender to London, and that the receipt for it was at home, Ledbitter suddenly remembered that he had neither posted it nor had any receipt for it, and he went away from the office curiously afraid.

Ledbitter was one of those wise young men who know when they have got a good job, and who would rather do anything than lose it. He had been with Watson & Metcalfe seven years, and his salary was four pounds per week, and it was steadily increasing. He was a good servant, and he had good masters, and up to now he never remembered making a mistake since he picked up a pen in Watson & Metcalfe’s service. But here was a bad one. He had forgotten to post a tender which involved a sum of half a million of money! It was no formidable document in appearance, to be sure. The tender, a mere matter of round figures, was written–by Watson himself–on an ordinary sheet of office notepaper and enclosed in an ordinary office envelope, sealed and blue pencilled.

If it had only been a big, heavy document, Ledbitter would never have forgotten it. But, being as small as it was, he had slipped it within an inside pocket of a winter waistcoat which he was wearing on the previous morning, intending to register it when he went home to dinner–and it had escaped his memory. How he could have been so forgetful he could not think. But he did remember that on going home he had found that winter waistcoat becoming much too warm, and had changed it for a lighter one. Of course, the tender was safe enough–he would hurry home and get it off. And, after all, it would be in time. The tenders which Steel & Cardyke were inviting had to be delivered, by post or by hand, at their office in London by four o’clock on the following Monday. Heaps of time–if he got the tender off at once, as he would take care to do. The only thing he was afraid of was that Sharman, if he inspected the post-office receipt, might notice that the letter had not been handed in on Friday, but on Saturday. However, Sharman would be satisfied, most likely, to hear that the receipt had been pasted up in the book kept for that purpose, and would not even glance at it. And the great thing was to get the tender off so that it would be in London first thing on Monday morning.

Ledbitter lived in a small bandbox of a house, just outside the centre of the town. There was a pleasant odour of beefsteak and onions in the hall when he opened the door, and his wife, on hearing his step, immediately called to him that dinner was ready.

But Ledbitter self-denyingly shouted an entreaty for delay, and darted up the stairs to his bedroom. He dashed at a wardrobe wherein he kept his garments, and a moment later began to yell over the top of the staircase:

“Fanny, where’s that winter waistcoat of mine?” he vociferated. “Where’s it got to? You know, the one I took off yesterday noon when I came home to dinner.”

Mrs. Ledbitter looked out of the back-parlour door.

“Bless me, Herbert,” she exclaimed, “you must be losing your memory! Don’t you remember that you told me a fortnight ago, that you’d about done with that old waistcoat, and that when you left it off this spring I could sell it with a lot of other old clothes of yours? I sold a whole bundle of stuff yesterday afternoon. And, by the by–”

Ledbitter let out a groan that seemed to shake the house. He made two leaps down the stairs. His wife opened her lips to scream, but the scream died as she caught a full sight of his white face.

“You–you sold it!” he stammered hoarsely. “Good heavens! To whom?”

“Milson’s, of course!” answered Mrs. Ledbitter. “But, as I was saying–”

Ledbitter was already at the door. He was quite deaf and half blind as he dashed at the gate of the little garden and darted into the street. His wife’s cry might as well have been addressed to the paving-stones.

“Herbert, Herbert, come back! I say, Herbert!” she called after him. “If you’re wanting–”

But Ledbitter was utterly obsessed by one idea, and he ran madly away towards the town.

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