The Grell Mystery
116 Pages
English
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The Grell Mystery

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116 Pages
English

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Published 08 December 2010
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Language English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Grell Mystery, by Frank Froest This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Grell Mystery Author: Frank Froest Release Date: July 30, 2007 [EBook #22173] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE GRELL MYSTERY *** Produced by Steven desJardins and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team THE GRELL MYSTERY BY FRANK FROEST NEW YORK GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS COPYRIGHT, 1913, BY FRANK FROEST COPYRIGHT, 1914, BY EDWARD J. CLODE THE GRELL MYSTERY CHAPTER I Outside the St. Jermyn's Club the rain pelted pitilessly upon deserted pavements. Mr. Robert Grell leaned his arms on the table and stared steadily out through the steaming window-panes for a second. His shoulders lifted in a shrug that was almost a shiver. "It's a deuce of a night," he exclaimed with conviction. There was a faint trace of accent in his voice—an almost imperceptible drawl, such as might remain in the speech of an American who had travelled widely and rubbed shoulders with all sorts and conditions of men. His companion lifted his eyebrows whimsically and nipped the end from a cigar. "It is," he agreed. "But the way you put it is more like plain Bob Grell of the old days than the polished Mr. Robert Grell, social idol, millionaire and diplomat, and winner of the greatest matrimonial prize in London." Grell tugged at his drooping iron-grey moustache. "That's all right," he said. "This is not a meeting of the Royal Society. Here, in my own club, I claim the right of every free-born citizen to condemn the weather—or anything else—in any language I choose. Great Scott, Fairfield! You don't expect me to wear my mantle all the time. I should explode if I didn't have a safety valve." Sir Ralph Fairfield nodded. He understood. For years the two had been close friends, and in certain phases of temperament they were much alike. Both had tasted deeply of the sweets and hardships of life. Both had known the fierce wander-lust that drives men into strange places to suffer hunger, thirst, hardship and death itself for the sheer love of the game, and both had achieved something more than national fame. Fairfield as a fertile writer on ethnography and travel; and Grell equally as a daring explorer, and as a man who had made his mark in the politics and finance of the United States. More than once he had been employed on delicate diplomatic missions for his Government, and always he had succeeded. Great things were within his reach when he had suddenly announced his intention of giving up business, politics and travel to settle in England and lead the life of a gentleman of leisure. He had bought a thousand acres in Sussex, and rented a town house in Grosvenor Gardens. Then he had met Lady Eileen Meredith, daughter of the Duke of Burghley. Like others, he had fallen a victim to her grey eyes. The piquant beauty, the supple grace, the intangible charm of the girl had aroused his desire. A man who always achieved his ends, he set himself to woo and win her with fierce impetuosity. He had won. Now he was spending his last night of bachelordom at his club. A man of about forty-five, he carried himself well and the evening dress he wore showed his upright muscular figure to advantage. Every movement he made had a swift grace that reminded one irresistibly of a tiger, with its suggestion of reserve force. His close-cropped hair and a drooping moustache were prematurely grey. He had a trick of looking at one through half-closed eyelids that gave the totally erroneous impression that he was half asleep. The face was square, the chin dogged, the lips, half-hidden by the moustache, thin and tightly pressed together. He was the type of man who emerges victor in any contest, whether of wits or muscle. Plain and direct when it suited his purpose; subtle master of intrigue when subtlety was needed. A nervous gust of wind flung the rain fiercely against the window. Sir Ralph Fairfield uncrossed his knees with care for the scrupulous crease in his trousers. "You're a great man, Bob," he said slowly. "You take it quite as a matter of course that you should win the prettiest girl in the three kingdoms." His voice became meditative. "I wonder how married life will suit you. You know, you're not altogether the type of a man one associates with the domestic hearthstone." Their eyes met. The twinkle of humour which was in the baronet's did not reflect itself in the other's. Grell, too, was wondering whether he was fitted for domestic life. He had a taste for introspection, and was speculating how far the joyous girl who had confided her heart to his keeping would fit in with the scheme of things. He roused himself with an effort and glanced at his watch. It was half-past nine. "You make a mistake, Fairfield," he laughed. "Eileen and I fit each other, and you'll see we'll settle down all right. Care to see the present I'm giving her to-morrow? It's to be a little surprise. Look here!" He inserted a hand in his breast pocket and produced a flat case of blue Morocco leather. He touched a spring: "There!" Soft, shimmering white against the sombre velvet lining reposed a string of pearls which even the untrained eye of Fairfield knew must be of enormous value. Each gem was perfect in its soft purity, and they had been matched with scrupulous care. Grell picked it up and dangled it on his forefinger, so that the crimson glow of the shaded electric lights was reflected in the smooth surface of the jewels. "Pretty toy, isn't it?" he commented. "I gave Streeters carte blanche to do the best they could." He dropped the necklace carelessly back in its case, snapped the catch, and placed it in his pocket. Fairfield's jerk of the head was significant. "And you are fool enough to carry the thing around loose in your pocket. Good heavens, man! Do you know that there are people who would not stick at murder to get a thing like that?" The other laughed easily. "Don't you worry, Fairfield. You're the only person I've shown it to, and I'm not afraid you'll sandbag me." He changed the subject abruptly. "By the way, I've got an