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The Double Four   By: (1866-1946)

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First Page:

THE DOUBLE FOUR

By E. Phillips Oppenheim

CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD London, New York, Toronto & Melbourne First published September 1911 . Reprinted October 1911 . Shilling Edition April 1913 . Reprinted February 1917 .

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

CONTENTS

1. THE DESIRE OF MADAME

2. THE AMBASSADOR'S WIFE

3. THE MAN FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

4. THE FIRST SHOT

5. THE SEVEN SUPPERS OF ANDREA KORUST

6. THE MISSION OF MAJOR KOSUTH

7. THE GHOSTS OF HAVANA HARBOUR

8. AN ALIEN SOCIETY

9. THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

10. THE THIRTEENTH ENCOUNTER

THE DOUBLE FOUR

CHAPTER I

THE DESIRE OF MADAME

" It is the desire of Madame that you should join our circle here on Thursday evening next, at ten o'clock. SOGRANGE."

The man looked up from the sheet of notepaper which he held in his hand, and gazed through the open French windows before which he was standing. It was a very pleasant and very peaceful prospect. There was his croquet lawn, smooth shaven, the hoops neatly arranged, the chalk mark firm and distinct upon the boundary. Beyond, the tennis court, the flower gardens, and to the left the walled fruit garden. A little farther away was the paddock and orchard, and a little farther still the farm, which for the last four years had been the joy of his life. His meadows were yellow with buttercups; a thin line of willows showed where the brook wound its lazy way through the bottom fields. It was a home, this, in which a man could well lead a peaceful life, could dream away his days to the music of the west wind, the gurgling stream, the song of birds, and the low murmuring of insects. Peter Ruff stood like a man turned to stone, for even as he looked these things passed away from before his eyes, the roar of the world beat in his ears the world of intrigue, of crime, the world where the strong man hewed his way to power, and the weaklings fell like corn before the sickle.

" It is the desire of Madame! "

Peter Ruff clenched his fists as he read the words once more. It was a message from a world every memory of which had been deliberately crushed a world, indeed, in which he had seemed no longer to hold any place. He was Peter Ruff, Esquire, of Aynesford Manor, in the County of Somerset. It could not be for him, this strange summons.

The rustle of a woman's soft draperies broke in upon his reverie. He turned round with his usual morning greeting upon his lips. She was, without doubt, a most beautiful woman: petite, and well moulded, with the glow of health in her eyes and on her cheeks. She came smiling to him a dream of muslin and pink ribbons.

"Another forage bill, my dear Peter?" she demanded, passing her arm through his. "Put it away and admire my new morning gown. It came straight from Paris, and you will have to pay a great deal of money for it."

He pulled himself together he had no secrets from his wife.

"Listen," he said, and read aloud:

" Rue de St. Quintaine, Paris.

"DEAR MR. RUFF, It is a long time since we had the pleasure of a visit from you. It is the desire of Madame that you should join our circle here on Thursday evening next, at ten o'clock. SOGRANGE."

Violet was a little perplexed. She failed, somehow, to recognise the sinister note underlying those few sentences.

"It sounds friendly enough," she remarked. "You are not obliged to go, of course."

Peter Ruff smiled grimly.

"Yes, it sounds all right," he admitted.

"They won't expect you to take any notice of it, surely?" she continued. "When you bought this place, Peter, you gave them definitely to understand that you had retired into private life, that all these things were finished with you."

"There are some things," Peter Ruff said slowly, "which are never finished."

"But you resigned," she reminded him. "I remember your letter distinctly."

"From the Double Four," he answered, "no resignation is recognised save death... Continue reading book >>




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