The Woman from the East and Other Stories - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Woman from the East and Other Stories ebook

Edgar Wallace

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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. This early work by Edgar Wallace was originally published in 1934. „The Woman from the East and Other Stories” is an enjoyable collection of short stories that include „The Chopham Affair”, „The Hopper”, „The Silver Charm”, and many more. As the stories are rather short and quite fast-paced with a lot of scenery-changes and adventures, this nice. It’s all great fun and Wallace keeps the action moving along swiftly, as he always did. If you haven’t discovered the joys of Wallace’s thrillers there is a good place to start. Highly recommended.

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Liczba stron: 370

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Contents

I. THE WOMAN FROM THE EAST

II. THE CHOPHAM AFFAIR

III. THE HOPPER

IV. THE LOVE OF DEVIL HAMPTON

V. THE SILVER CHARM

VI. UNCLE FARAWAY

VII. THE MAN OF THE NIGHT

VIII. PATRIOTS

IX. THE FUTURE LADY SHELHOLME

X. THE XMAS GIFT

XI. THE MAN WHOM NOBODY LOVED

XII. THE STRANGENESS OF JOAB LASHMERE

XIII. JIMMY AND THE DOUGHNUTS

XIV. CONTROL NO. 2

I. THE WOMAN FROM THE EAST

PROLOGUE. THE MATCH MAKER

“OVERTURE and beginners, please!”

The shrill voice of the call-boy wailed through the bare corridors of the Frivolity Theatre, and No. 7 dressing-room emptied with a rush. The stone stairs leading down to the stage level were immediately crowded with chattering chorus girls, arrayed in the fantastic costumes of the opening number.

Belle Straker lagged a little behind the crowd, for she had neither the heart nor the inclination to discuss the interminable nothings which were to fascinating to her sister artistes.

At the foot of the stairs a tired looking man in evening dress was waiting. Presently he saw the girl and raised his finger. She quickened her pace, for the stage manager was an irascible man and somewhat impatient.

“Miss Straker,” he said, “you are excused tonight.”

“Excused?” she replied in surprise. “I thought–”

The stage manager nodded.

“I didn’t get your note saying you wanted to stay off,” he said. “Now hurry up and change, my dear. You’ll be in plenty of time.”

In truth he had received a note asking permission to miss a performance, but he had not known then that the dinner engagement which Belle Straker was desirous of keeping was with the eminent Mr. Covent. And Mr. Covent was not only a name in the City, but he was also a director of the company owning the Frivolity Theatre.

The girl hesitated, one foot on the lower stair, and the stage manager eyed her curiously. He knew Mr. Covent slightly, and had been a little more than surprised that Mr. Covent was “that kind of man.” One would hardly associate that white-haired and benevolent gentleman with dinner parties in which chorus girls figured.

As for the girl, some premonition of danger made her hesitate.

“I don’t know whether I want to go,” she said.

“Don’t be silly,” said the stage manager with a little smile. “Never miss a good dinner, Belle–how are those dancing lessons getting on?”

She knew what he meant, but it pleased her to pretend ignorance.

“Dancing lessons?” she said.

“Those you are giving to the Rajah of Butilata,” said the stage manager. “What sort of a pupil does he make? It must be rather funny teaching a man to dance who cannot speak English.”

She shrugged her shoulders in assumed indifference.

“He’s not bad,” she said, and turned quickly to run up the stairs.

The stage manager looked after her, and his smile broadened. Then, of a sudden, he became grave. It was no business of his, and he was hardened to queerer kinds of friendship than that which might exist between a chorus girl and an Eastern potentate, even though rumour had it that His Highness of Butilata was almost white.

Even friendships between young and pretty members of the chorus and staid and respectable City merchants were not outside the range of his experience. He too shrugged, and went back to the stage, for the strains of the overture were coming faintly through the swinging doors.

Belle Straker changed swiftly, wiped the make-up from her face, and got into her neat street clothes. She stopped on her way out of the theatre to inquire at the stage doorkeeper’s office whether there had been any letters.

“No, miss,” said the man. “But those two men came back again this evening to ask if you were playing. I told them that you were off.”

She nodded gratefully. Those two men were, as she knew, solicitors’ clerks who had writs to serve upon her. She had large and artistic tastes which outstripped her slender income. She was in debt everywhere, and nobody knew better than she how serious was her position.

The theatres were filling up, so that there were plenty of empty taxicabs and with a glance at the jewelled watch upon her wrist and a little exclamation of dismay, she gave directions and jumped into the first cab she could attract.

Five minutes later she was greeting an elderly man, who rose from a corner table in Penniali’s Restaurant.

“I am so sorry, Mr. Covent. That stupid stage manager did not get my note asking to stay off, and I went to the theatre thinking my request had been refused. I hope I haven’t kept you waiting?”

Mr. Covent beamed through his gold-rimmed spectacles.

“My dear child,” he said pleasantly, “I have reached the age in life when a man is quite content to wait so long as he has an evening paper, and when time indeed runs too quickly.”

He was a fine, handsome man of sixty-five, clean-shaven and rubicund. His white hair was brushed back from his forehead and fell in waves over his collar, and despite his years his frank blue eyes were as clear as a boy’s.

“Sit down, sit down,” he said. “I have ordered dinner, and I’m extremely grateful that I have not to eat it alone.”

She found him, as she had found him before, a very pleasant companion, courteous, considerate and anecdotal. She knew very little about him, except that he had been introduced about two months before, and all that she knew was to his credit. He had invariably treated her with the deepest respect. He was by all accounts a very wealthy man–a millionaire, some said–and she knew, at any rate, that he was the senior partner of Covent Brothers, a firm of Indian bankers and merchants with extensive connections in the East.

They came at last to the stage when conversation was easier. And then it was that Mr. Covent opened up the subject which was nearer to his heart, perhaps, than to the girl’s.

“Have you thought over my suggestion?” he asked. The girl made a little face.

“Oh yes, I’ve thought it over,” she said. “I don’t think I can do it, I really don’t, Mr. Covent.”

Mr. Covent smiled indulgently. In all the forty-five year in which he had been in business he had never approached so delicate or so vital a problem as this; but he was a man used to dealing with vital problems, and he was in no way dismayed by the first rebuff.

“I hope you will think this matter over well before you reject it,” he said. “And I am afraid you will have to do your thinking tonight, because the Rajah is leaving for India next week.”

“Next week!” she said in surprise, and with that sense of discomfort which comes to the opportunist who finds her chance slipping away before her eyes. “I thought he was staying for months yet.”

John Covent shook his head.

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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.