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Our Library => Neil Gordon - The Shakespeare Murders (1933) => Topic started by: Admin on November 08, 2023, 07:23:13 am

Title: 18: A Million Pounds
Post by: Admin on November 08, 2023, 07:23:13 am
IT WAS Heine who reluctantly cleared up a good many obscure points. Heine had been the Duke’s chauffeur, gunman, and general mechanic for some years, and when the Duke got the commission from a newspaper-magnate in America, whose past had not always been so blameless as his present, to rid him of the blackmailing attentions of Mr. Tollemache, art-valuer, art collector, and blackmailer, the two men with their attendant circus of satellites, removed themselves from Chicago to Europe to carry out the good work.

While in London, preparing to deal with the blackmailer, the Duke was approached with another offer of employment---this time by the agent of a Nebraska multi-millionaire whose conscience allowed him to do anything he liked. This employment consisted of extracting from a Mr. John Hone the secret of a million-pound treasure about which he had spoken in certain discreet art-collecting circles.

The Duke, who was a quick worker, undertook this second job, and was agreeably surprised to find that the two overlapped. For after abducting Mr. Tollemache one day from his house in Kensington, he discovered that he was at that very moment starting to blackmail Lord Claydon. Lord Claydon had, apparently, committed bigamy early in life, and was unwilling to go to prison, to see his son by his second wife disinherited, and to contemplate the prospect of his entire estates and fortune going, after his death, to the next heir who happened to be the half-caste son of a Jamaican cook. And it was in Lord Claydon’s house that this million-pound fortune lay. It was almost too easy. Mr. Tollemache’s profession made him naturally a recluse into whose movements, appearances, and disappearances no one ever liked to inquire if even they had been interested, and his departure from the house at Kensington and rebirth at Marsh Manor passed unnoticed and undiscussed.

The first complication had been the appearance of Mr. Rubin, acting on behalf of a North Dakota multi-millionaire. But Mr. Rubin was not in the same street as a thief and a murderer as the Duke, and after he had, in a panic, killed the Duke’s protégé and assistant, Newman, his fate was sealed.

Hone also had been kidnapped and had several times given, under pressure, partial and sometimes definitely incorrect information about the Treasure and the way to find it. In fact, the Duke’s assistants at the house in St. John’s Wood had only just discovered the whereabouts of the packet of yellow papers under the boards in the bedroom which Hone had occupied at the Manor a few hours before the ex-librarian made his successful dash for liberty, which ended so fatally for him.

The Duke got clear away. His aeroplane was found in a field near Amsterdam, and a young man resembling him was seen boarding a train for Antwerp, but he was not heard of again until his reappearance on the north side in Chicago some months later.

Heine was hanged, and the remainder of the gang got long sentences. Lady Pamela married Streatfield. Lord Claydon and Sir George Ilford settled down to a quiet bachelor life at Marsh Manor.

The eleven yellow be-scribbled leaves of paper were unanimously declared by the experts to be part of Shakespeare’s original manuscript of Hamlet, beginning: “Look here, upon this picture, and on this,” down to “Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,” and were sold in New York for the equivalent in dollars of one million two hundred and ten thousand pounds sterling. By mutual agreement Peter Kerrigan received two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, out of which he gave twenty thousand to the little Gower Street lecturer whose walk in the Euston Road had started it all.

The remainder, together with his hand and heart, he laid in a rash moment at the elegant feet of Rosemary Shackleford.

She considered the offer for a minute or two and then smiled and declined it. Peter was, on the whole, a little relieved, and they remained the best of friends.