TheSevenConundrums

The Seven Conundrums [電子書籍版]
E. Phillips Oppenheim

105(税込)

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The wind, storming up from the sea, beat against the frail little wooden building till every rafter creaked and groaned. The canvas sides flapped and strained madly at the imprisoning ropes. Those hanging lamps which were not already extinguished swung in perilous arcs. In the auditorium of the frail little temporary theatre, only one man lingered near the entrance, and he, as we well knew, with sinister purpose. In the little make-up room behind the stage, we three performers, shorn of our mummer's disguise, presented perhaps the most melancholy spectacle of all. The worst of it was that Leonard and I were all broken up with trying to make the best of the situation for Rose's sake, yet prevented by circumstances from altogether ignoring it.

"Seems to me we're in rather a tightish corner, Leonard," I ventured, watching that grim figure in the doorway through a hole in the curtain.

"First turn to the left off Queer Street," Leonard admitted gloomily.

Rose said nothing. She was seated in the one chair which went with the portable property, and her head had fallen forward upon her arms, which were stretched upon the deal table. Her hat, a poor little woollen tam-o'-shanter, was pushed back from her head. Her jacket was unfastened. The rain beat down upon the tin roof.

"I'd sell my soul for a whisky and soda," Leonard, our erstwhile humourist, declared wistfully.

"And I mine," I echoed, thinking of Rose, "for a good supper, a warm fire and a comfortable bed."

"And I mine," Rose faltered, looking up and dabbing at her eyes with a morsel of handkerchief, "for a cigarette."

There was a clap of thunder. The flap of canvas which led to the back of the stage shook as though the whole place were coming down. We looked up apprehensively and found that we were no longer alone. A clean-shaven man of medium height, dressed in a long mackintosh and carrying a tweed cap in his hand, had succeeded in effecting a difficult entrance. His appearance, even at that time, puzzled us. His face was perfectly smooth, he was inclined to be bald, his eyes were unusually bright, and there was a noticeable curve at the corners of his lips which might have meant either humour or malevolence. We had no idea what to make of him. One thing was certain, however,ーhe was not the man an interview with whom we were dreading.

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