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THE GREEN RUST

BY

EDGAR WALLACE

WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED LONDON AND MELBOURNE


MADE IN ENGLAND

Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd., Frome and London




THE GREEN RUST


_Novels by_
EDGAR WALLACE

_published by_
WARD, LOCK AND CO., LTD.

_The "Sanders" Stories_

SANDERS OF THE RIVER
BOSAMBO OF THE RIVER
BONES
LIEUTENANT BONES
SANDI, THE KING-MAKER
THE PEOPLE OF THE RIVER
THE KEEPERS OF THE KING'S PEACE

_Mystery Stories_

THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
THE DARK EYES OF LONDON
BLUE HAND
MR. JUSTICE MAXELL
THE JUST MEN OF CORDOVA
THE GREEN RUST
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG
THE SECRET HOUSE




CONTENTS


CHAP. PAGE

I THE PASSING OF JOHN MILLINBORN 7
II THE DRUNKEN MR. BEALE 14
III PUNSONBY'S DISCHARGE AN EMPLOYEE 24
IV THE LETTERS THAT WERE NOT THERE 35
V THE MAN WITH THE BIG HEAD 43
VI MR. SCOBBS OF RED HORSE VALLEY 50
VII PLAIN WORDS FROM MR. BEALE 58
VIII THE CRIME OF THE GRAND ALLIANCE 67
IX A CRIME AGAINST THE WORLD 74
X A FRUITLESS SEARCH 85
XI THE HOUSE NEAR STAINES 93
XII INTRODUCING PARSON HOMO 102
XIII AT DEANS FOLLY 109
XIV MR. BEALE SUGGESTS MARRIAGE 116
XV THE GOOD HERR STARDT 124
XVI THE PAWN TICKET 132
XVII THE JEW OF CRACOW 139
XVIII BRIDGERS BREAKS LOOSE 148
XIX OLIVA IS WILLING 156
XX THE MARRIAGE 163
XXI BEALE SEES WHITE 169
XXII HILDA GLAUM LEADS THE WAY 177
XXIII AT THE DOCTOR'S FLAT 185
XXIV THE GREEN RUST FACTORY 192
XXV THE LAST MAN AT THE BENCH 198
XXVI THE SECRET OF THE GREEN RUST 204
XXVII A SCHEME TO STARVE THE WORLD 212
XXVIII THE COMING OF DR. MILSOM 219
XXIX THE LOST CODE 227
XXX THE WATCH 233
XXXI A CORNCHANDLER'S BILL 240
XXXII THE END OF VAN HEERDEN 244




CHAPTER I

THE PASSING OF JOHN MILLINBORN


"I don't know whether there's a law that stops my doing this, Jim; but
if there is, you've got to get round it. You're a lawyer and you know
the game. You're my pal and the best pal I've had, Jim, and you'll do it
for me."

The dying man looked up into the old eyes that were watching him with
such compassion and read their acquiescence.

No greater difference could be imagined than existed between the man on
the bed and the slim neat figure who sat by his side. John Millinborn,
broad-shouldered, big-featured, a veritable giant in frame and even in
his last days suggesting the enormous strength which had been his in his
prime, had been an outdoor man, a man of large voice and large capable
hands; James Kitson had been a student from his youth up and had spent
his manhood in musty offices, stuffy courts, surrounded by crackling
briefs and calf-bound law-books.

Yet, between these two men, the millionaire ship-builder and the
successful solicitor, utterly different in their tastes and their modes
of life, was a friendship deep and true. Strange that death should take
the strong and leave the weak; so thought James Kitson as he watched his
friend.

"I'll do what can be done, John. You leave a great responsibility upon
the girl--a million and a half of money."

The sick man nodded.

"I get rid of a greater one, Jim. When my father died he left a hundred
thousand between us, my sister and I. I've turned my share into a
million, but that is by the way. Because she was a fairly rich girl and
a wilful girl, Jim, she broke her heart. Because they knew she had the
money the worst men were attracted to her--and she chose the worst of
the worst!"

He stopped speaking to get his breath.

"She married a plausible villain who ruined her--spent every sou and
left her with a mountain of debt and a month-old baby. Poor Grace died
and he married again. I tried to get the baby, but he held it as a
hostage. I could never trace the child after it was two years old. It
was only a month ago I learnt the reason. The man was an international
swindler and was wanted by the police. He was arrested in Paris and
charged in his true name--the name he had married in was false. When he
came out of prison he took his own name--and of course the child's name
changed, too."

The lawyer nodded.

"You want me to----?"

"Get the will proved and begin your search for Oliva Prédeaux. There is
no such person. The girl's name you know, and I have told you where she
is living. You'll find nobody who knows Oliva Prédeaux--her father
disappeared when she was six--he's probably dead, and her stepmother
brought her up without knowing her relationship to me--then she died and
the girl has been working ever since she was fifteen."

"She is not to be found?"

"Until she is married. Watch her, Jim, spend all the money you
wish--don't influence her unless you see she is getting the wrong kind
of man...."

His voice, which had grown to something of the old strength, suddenly
dropped and the great head rolled sideways on the pillow.

Kitson rose and crossed to the door. It opened upon a spacious
sitting-room, through the big open windows of which could be seen the
broad acres of the Sussex Weald.

A man was sitting in the window-seat, chin in hand, looking across to
the chequered fields on the slope of the downs. He was a man of thirty,
with a pointed beard, and he rose as the lawyer stepped quickly into the
room.

"Anything wrong?" he asked.

"I think he has fainted--will you go to him, doctor?"

The young man passed swiftly and noiselessly to the bedside and made a
brief examination. From a shelf near the head of the bed he took a
hypodermic syringe and filled it from a small bottle. Baring the
patient's side he slowly injected the drug. He stood for a moment
looking down at the unconscious man, then came back to the big hall
where James Kitson was waiting.

"Well?"

The doctor shook his head.

"It is difficult to form a judgment," he said quietly, "his heart is all
gone to pieces. Has he a family doctor?"

"Not so far as I know--he hated doctors, and has never been ill in his
life. I wonder he tolerated you."

Dr. van Heerden smiled.

"He couldn't help himself. He was taken ill in the train on the way to
this place and I happened to be a fellow-passenger. He asked me to bring
him here and I have been here ever since. It is strange," he added,
"that so rich a man as Mr. Millinborn had no servant travelling with him
and should live practically alone in this--well, it is little better
than a cottage."

Despite his anxiety, James Kitson smiled.

"He is the type of man who hates ostentation. I doubt if he has ever
spent a thousand a year on himself all his life--do you think it is wise
to leave him?"

The doctor spread out his hands.

"I can do nothing. He refused to allow me to send for a specialist and I
think he was right. Nothing can be done for him. Still----"

He walked back to the bedside, and the lawyer came behind him. John
Millinborn seemed to be in an uneasy sleep, and after an examination by
the doctor the two men walked back to the sitting-room.

"The excitement has been rather much for him. I suppose he has been
making his will?"

"Yes," said Kitson shortly.

"I gathered as much when I saw you bring the gardener and the cook in to
witness a document," said Dr. van Heerden.

He tapped his teeth with the tip of his fingers--a nervous trick of his.

"I wish I had some strychnine," he said suddenly. "I ought to have some
by me--in case."

"Can't you send a servant--or I'll go," said Kitson. "Is it procurable
in the village?"

The doctor nodded.

"I don't want you to go," he demurred. "I have sent the car to
Eastbourne to get a few things I cannot buy here. It's a stiff walk to
the village and yet I doubt whether the chemist would supply the
quantity I require to a servant, even with my prescription--you see," he
smiled, "I am a stranger here."

"I'll go with pleasure--the walk will do me good," said the lawyer
energetically. "If there is anything we can do to prolong my poor
friend's life----"

The doctor sat at the table and wrote his prescription and handed it to
the other with an apology.

Hill Lodge, John Millinborn's big cottage, stood on the crest of a hill,
and the way to the village was steep and long, for Alfronston lay nearly
a mile away. Half-way down the slope the path ran through a plantation
of young ash. Here John Millinborn had preserved a few pheasants in the
early days of his occupancy of the Lodge on the hill. As Kitson entered
one side of the plantation he heard a rustling noise, as though somebody
were moving through the undergrowth. It was too heavy a noise for a
bolting rabbit or a startled bird to make, and he peered into the thick
foliage. He was a little nearsighted, and at first he did not see the
cause of the commotion. Then:

"I suppose I'm trespassing," said a husky voice, and a man stepped out
toward him.

The stranger carried himself with a certain jauntiness, and he had need
of what assistance artifice could lend him, for he was singularly
unprepossessing. He was a man who might as well have been sixty as
fifty. His clothes soiled, torn and greasy, were of good cut. The shirt
was filthy, but it was attached to a frayed collar, and the crumpled
cravat was ornamented with a cameo pin.

But it was the face which attracted Kitson's attention. There was
something inherently evil in that puffed face, in the dull eyes that
blinked under the thick black eyebrows. The lips, full and loose, parted
in a smile as the lawyer stepped back to avoid contact with the
unsavoury visitor.

"I suppose I'm trespassing--good gad!



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