Scarhaven Keep

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SCARHAVEN KEEP

BY J.S. FLETCHER

1922

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I WANTED AT REHEARSAL
II GREY ROOK AND GREY SEA
III THE MAN WHO KNEW SOMETHING
IV THE ESTATE AGENT
V THE GREYLE HISTORY
VI THE LEADING LADY
VII LEFT ON GUARD
VIII RIGHT OF WAY
IX HOBKIN’S HOLE
X THE INVALID CURATE
XI BENEATH THE BRAMBLES
XII GOOD MEN AND TRUE
XIII MR. DENNIE
XIV BY PRIVATE TREATY
XV THE CABLEGRAM FROM NEW YORK
XVI IN TOUCH WITH THE MISSING
XVII THE OLD PLAYBILL
XVIII THE LIE ON THE TOMBSTONE
XIX THE STEAM YACHT
XX THE COURTEOUS CAPTAIN
XXI MAROONED
XXII THE OLD HAND
XXIII THE YACHT COMES BACK
XXIV THE TORPEDO-BOAT DESTROYER
XXV THE SQUIRE
XXVI THE REAVER’S GLEN
XXVII THE PEEL TOWER
XXVIII THE FOOTPRINTS
XXIX SCARVELL’S CUT
XXX THE GREENGROCER’S CART
XXXI AMBASSADRESS EXTRAORDINARY

CHAPTER I

WANTED AT REHEARSAL

Jerramy, thirty years’ stage-door keeper at the Theatre Royal, Norcaster,
had come to regard each successive Monday morning as a time for the
renewal of old acquaintance. For at any rate forty-six weeks of the
fifty-two, theatrical companies came and went at Norcaster with unfailing
regularity. The company which presented itself for patronage in the first
week of April in one year was almost certain to present itself again in
the corresponding week of the next year. Sometimes new faces came with
it, but as a rule the same old favourites showed themselves for a good
many years in succession. And every actor and actress who came to
Norcaster knew Jerramy. He was the first official person encountered on
entering upon the business of the week. He it was who handed out the
little bundles of letters and papers, who exchanged the first greetings,
of whom one could make useful inquiries, who always knew exactly what
advice to give about lodgings and landladies. From noon onwards of
Mondays, when the newcomers began to arrive at the theatre for the
customary one o’clock call for rehearsal, Jerramy was invariably employed
in hearing that he didn’t look a day older, and was as blooming as ever,
and sure to last another thirty years, and his reception always
culminated in a hearty handshake and genial greeting from the great man
of the company, who, of course, after the fashion of magnates, always
turned up at the end of the irregular procession, and was not seldom late
for the fixture which he himself had made.

At a quarter past one of a certain Monday afternoon in the course of a
sunny October, Jerramy leaned over the half-door of his sanctum in
conversation with an anxious-eyed man who for the past ten minutes had
hung about in the restless fashion peculiar to those who are waiting for
somebody. He had looked up the street and down the street a dozen times;
he had pulled out his watch and compared it with the clock of a
neighbouring church almost as often; he had several times gone up the
dark passage which led to the dressing-rooms, and had come back again
looking more perplexed than ever. The fact was that he was the business
manager of the great Mr. Bassett Oliver, who was opening for the week at
Norcaster in his latest success, and who, not quite satisfied with the
way in which a particular bit of it was being played called a special
rehearsal for a quarter to one. Everything and everybody was ready for
that rehearsal, but the great man himself had not arrived. Now Mr.
Bassett Oliver, as every man well knew who ever had dealings with him,
was not one of the irregular and unpunctual order; on the contrary, he
was a very martinet as regarded rule, precision and system; moreover, he
always did what he expected each member of his company to do. Therefore
his non-arrival, his half hour of irregularity, seemed all the more
extraordinary.

“Never knew him to be late before—never!” exclaimed the business
manager, impatiently pulling out his watch for the twentieth time. “Not
in all my ten years’ experience of him—not once.”

“I suppose you’ve seen him this morning, Mr. Stafford?” inquired Jerramy.

“He’s in the town, of course?”

“I suppose he’s in the town,” answered Mr. Stafford. “I suppose he’s at
his old quarters—the ‘Angel.’ But I haven’t seen him; neither had
Rothwell—we’ve both been too busy to call there. I expect he came on to
the ‘Angel’ from Northborough yesterday.”

Jerramy opened the half-door, and going out to the end of the passage,
looked up and down the street.

“There’s a taxi-cab coming round the corner now,” he announced presently.

“Coming quick, too—I should think he’s in it.”

The business manager bustled out to the pavement as the cab came to a
halt. But instead of the fine face and distinguished presence of Mr.
Bassett Oliver, he found himself confronting a young man who looked like
a well-set-up subaltern, or a cricket-and-football loving undergraduate;
a somewhat shy, rather nervous young man, scrupulously groomed, and
neatly attired in tweeds, who, at sight of the two men on the pavement,
immediately produced a card-case.

“Mr. Bassett Oliver?” he said inquiringly. “Is he here? I—I’ve got an
appointment with him for one o’clock, and I’m sorry I’m late—my train—”

“Mr. Oliver is not here yet,” broke in Stafford. “He’s late,
too—unaccountably late, for him. An appointment, you say?”

He was looking the stranger over as he spoke, taking him for some
stage-struck youth who had probably persuaded the good-natured actor to
give him an interview. His expression changed, however; as he glanced at
the card which the young man handed over, and he started a little and
held out his hand with a smile.

“Oh!—Mr. Copplestone?” he exclaimed. “How do you do? My name’s
Stafford—I’m Mr. Oliver’s business manager. So he made an
appointment with you, did he—here, today? Wants to see you about
your play, of course.”

Again he looked at the newcomer with a smiling interest, thinking
secretly that he was a very youthful and ingenuous being to have written
a play which Bassett Oliver, a shrewd critic, and by no means easy to
please, had been eager to accept, and was about to produce. Mr. Richard
Copplestone, seen in the flesh, looked very young indeed, and very
unlike anything in the shape of a professional author. In fact he very
much reminded Stafford of the fine and healthy young man whom one sees
on the playing fields, and certainly does not associate with pen and
ink. That he was not much used to the world on whose edge he just then
stood Stafford gathered from a boyish trick of blushing through the tan
of his cheeks.

“I got a wire from Mr. Oliver yesterday—Sunday,” replied Mr.

Copplestone. “I ought to have had it in the morning, I suppose, but I’d

gone out for the day, you know—gone out early. So I didn’t find it until

I got back to my rooms late at night. I got the next train I could from

King’s Cross, and it was late getting in here.”

“Then you’ve practically been travelling all night?” remarked Stafford.
“Well, Mr. Oliver hasn’t turned up—most unusual for him. I don’t know
where—” Just then another man came hurrying down the passage from the
dressing-rooms, calling the business manager by name.

“I say, Stafford!” he exclaimed, as he emerged on the street. “This is a
queer thing!—I’m sure there’s something wrong. I’ve just rung up the
‘Angel’ hotel. Oliver hasn’t turned up there! His rooms were all ready
for him as usual yesterday, but he never came. They’ve neither seen nor
heard of him. Did you see him yesterday?”

“No!” replied Stafford. “I didn’t. Never seen him since last thing

Saturday night at Northborough. He ordered this rehearsal for one—no, a

quarter to one, here, today. But somebody must have seen him yesterday.

Where’s his dresser—where’s Hackett?”

“Hackett’s inside,” said the other man. “He hasn’t seen him either, since
Saturday night. Hackett has friends living in these parts—he went off to
see them early yesterday morning, from Northborough, and he’s only just
come. So he hasn’t seen Oliver, and doesn’t know anything about him; he
expected, of course, to find him here.”

Stafford turned with a wave of the hand towards Copplestone.

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