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J. S. Fletcher
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation.

Miss Slade, without showing the slightest shade of interest, shook her head.

“I don’t read murders,” she answered.  “Fifty thousand pounds reward!  That’s an awful lot, isn’t it?”

“Worth trying for, anyway!” replied Appleyard.  He gave her a sly look, and smiled grimly.  “I think I’ll try for it,” he said.  “Fifty thousand!”

“How could any one try unless he or she’s some clue?” she asked.  “If you don’t know anything about it, or any of the persons concerned, where would you begin?”

“There are plenty of persons named in these accounts about whom one could find something out, at any rate,” replied Appleyard, tapping the newspaper with his finger.  “There’s a Russian Princess with a sneezy sort of name; a Yorkshire manufacturer named Allerdyke; an American man called Franklin Fullaway—­all seem to be well-known people in town.  You ever hear of any of them?”

Miss Slade turned a face of absolute indifference on him and the paper to which he was pointing.

“Never,” she answered calmly.  “But I daresay I shall hear of them now—­for nine days.”

Then she went off, with her own newspaper, and Appleyard carried his to a corner and sat down.

“That’s a lie!” he said to himself.  “And a woman who will tell a lie as calmly and quietly as that will tell a thousand with equal assurance and cleverness.  She—­”

There he stopped.  In the doorway Miss Slade had also stopped—­stopped to speak to another resident, a man, about whom Ambler Appleyard had often wondered as keenly as he was now wondering about Miss Slade herself.

CHAPTER XVI

MR. GERALD RAYNER

There were various reasons why Ambler Appleyard’s wonder had often been aroused by the man to whom Miss Slade had stopped to speak.  He wondered about him, first of all, because of his personal appearance.  That was striking enough to excite wonder in anybody, for he was one of those remarkable men who possess great beauty of countenance allied to unfortunate deformity of body.  The face was that of a poet and a dreamer, the body that of a hunchback and a cripple.  Painter or sculptor alike would have rejoiced to depict the face on canvas or carve it in marble—­its perfect shape, fine tinting, the lines of the features, the beauty of the eyes, the wealth of the dark, clustering hair, were all as near artistic perfection as could be.  But all else spoke of deformity—­the badly bent back, the twisted body, the short leg, the misshapen foot.  It was as if Nature had endeavoured in some wickedly mischievous freak to show how beauty and ugliness can be combined in one creature.

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