Crime Classics


Ausgewählt und übersetzt von Anne Rademacher
Synchronisation: Doppeltext


The Stealer of Marble

Sentimental Simpson

White Stockings




The Green Mamba

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Leseprobe: Mark Twain, A Couple of Truly Wonderful Stories


The Stealer of Marble

Mar­garet Bel­man’s chiefest claim to Mr. Reed­er’s no­tice was that she lived in the Brockley Road, some few doors from his own es­tab­lish­ment.
He did not know her name, be­ing wholly in­curi­ous about law-abid­ing folk, but he was aware that she was pretty,
that her com­plex­ion was that pink and white which is sel­dom seen away from a magazine cov­er.
She dressed well, and if there was one thing that he noted about her more than any oth­er,
it was that she walked and car­ried her­self with a cer­tain grace that was es­pe­cially pleas­ing to a man of aes­thet­ic pre­dilec­tions.
He had, on oc­ca­sions, walked be­hind her and be­fore her, and had rid­den on the same street car with her to West­min­ster Bridge.
She in­vari­ably des­cen­ded at the corner of the Em­bank­ment, and was as in­vari­ably met by a good-look­ing young man and walked away with him.
The pres­ence of that young man was a source of pass­ive sat­is­fac­tion to Mr. Reed­er, for no par­tic­u­lar reas­on, un­less it was that he had a tidy mind,
and pre­ferred a rose when it had a back­ground of fern and grew un­easy at the sight of a sau­cer­less cup.
It did not oc­cur to him that he was an ob­ject of in­terest and curi­os­ity to Miss Bel­man.
“That was Mr. Reed­er – he has something to do with the po­lice, I think,” she said.
“Mr. J. G. Reed­er?”
Roy Mas­ter looked back with in­terest at the middle-aged man scam­per­ing fear­fully across the road,
his un­usu­al hat on the back of his head, his um­brella over his shoulder like a cav­alry­man’s sword.
“Good Lord! I nev­er dreamt he was like that.”
“Who is he?” she asked, dis­trac­ted from her own prob­lem.
“Reed­er? He’s in the Pub­lic Pro­sec­utor’s De­part­ment, a sort of a de­tect­ive – there was a case the oth­er week where he gave evid­ence.
He used to be with the Bank of Eng­land – ”
Sud­denly she stopped, and he looked at her in sur­prise.
“What’s the mat­ter?” he asked.
“I don’t want you to go any farther, Roy,” she said. “Mr. Telfer saw me with you yes­ter­day, and he’s quite un­pleas­ant about it.”
“Telfer?” said the young man in­dig­nantly. “That little worm! What did he say?”
“Noth­ing very much,” she replied, but from her tone he gathered that the “noth­ing very much” had been a little dis­turb­ing.
“I am leav­ing Telfers,” she said un­ex­pec­tedly.
“It is a good job, and I shall nev­er get an­oth­er like it – I mean, so far as the pay is con­cerned.”
Roy Mas­ter did not at­tempt to con­ceal his sat­is­fac­tion.
“I’m jolly glad,” he said vig­or­ously. “I can’t ima­gine how you’ve en­dured that bou­doir at­mo­sphere so long.
What did he say?” he asked again, and, be­fore she could an­swer: “Any­way, Telfers are shaky.
There are all sorts of queer ru­mours about them in the City.”
“But I thought it was a very rich cor­por­a­tion!” she said in as­ton­ish­ment.
He shook his head.
“It was – but they have been do­ing lun­at­ic things –
what can you ex­pect when a halfwit­ted weak­ling like Sid­ney Telfer is at the head of af­fairs?
They un­der­wrote three con­cerns last year that no broker­age busi­ness would have touched with a barge-pole, and they had to take up the shares.
One was a lost treas­ure com­pany to raise a Span­ish galle­on that sank three hun­dred years ago!
But what really did hap­pen yes­ter­day morn­ing?”
“I will tell you to­night,” she said, and made her hasty adieux.
Mr. Sid­ney Telfer had ar­rived when she went into a room which, in its lux­uri­ous ap­point­ments, its soft car­pet and dainty etcet­er­as, was not wholly un­deserving of Roy Mas­ters’ de­scrip­tion.
The head of Telfers Con­sol­id­ated sel­dom vis­ited his main of­fice on Thread­needle Street.
The at­mo­sphere of the place, he said, de­pressed him; it was all so hor­rid and sor­did and rough.
The founder of the firm, his grand­fath­er, had died ten years be­fore Sid­ney had been born,
leav­ing the busi­ness to a son, a chron­ic in­val­id, who had died a few weeks after Sid­ney first saw the light.
In the hands of trust­ees the busi­ness had flour­ished, des­pite the spas­mod­ic in­ter­fer­ences of his ec­cent­ric moth­er,
whose pe­cu­li­ar­it­ies cul­min­ated in a will which re­lieved him of most of that re­straint which is wisely laid upon a boy of six­teen.
The room, with its stained-glass win­dows and lux­uri­ous fur­nish­ing, fit­ted Mr. Telfer per­fectly, for he was ex­quis­itely ar­rayed.
He was tall and so pain­fully thin that the ab­nor­mal small­ness of his head was not at first ap­par­ent.
As the girl came into the room he was sniff­ing del­ic­ately at a fine cam­bric handker­chief,
and she thought that he was paler than she had ever seen him – and more re­pel­lent.
He fol­lowed her move­ments with a dull stare, and she had placed his let­ters on his table be­fore he spoke.
“I say. Miss Bel­man, you won’t men­tion a word about what I said to you last night?”
“Mr. Telfer,” she answered quietly, “I am hardly likely to dis­cuss such a mat­ter.”
“I’d marry you and all that, only … clause in my moth­er’s will,” he said dis­join­tedly. “That could be got over – in time.”
She stood by the table, her hands rest­ing on the edge.
“I would not marry you, Mr. Telfer, even if there were no clause in your moth­er’s will;
the sug­ges­tion that I should run away with you to Amer­ica – ”
“South Amer­ica,” he cor­rec­ted her gravely. “Not the United States; there was nev­er any sug­ges­tion of the United States.”
She could have smiled, for she was not as angry with this rather va­cant young man as his start­ling pro­pos­i­tion en­titled her to be.
“The point is,” he went on anxiously, “you’ll keep it to your­self? I’ve been wor­ried dread­fully all night.
I told you to send me a note say­ing what you thought of my idea – well, don’t!”

2010 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, München

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eBook ISBN 978-3-423-41949-9 (epub)
ISBN der gedruckten Ausgabe 978-3-423-09462-7

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