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The Great God Gold

William Le Queux

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  The Great God GoldBy William Le QueuxPublished by Richard G. Badger, The Gorham Press, Boston, USA.This edition dated 1910.

  The Great God Gold, by William Le Queux.


  ________________________________________________________________________THE GREAT GOD GOLD, BY WILLIAM LE QUEUX.



  The remarkable secret revealed in the following pages is not purelyfiction.

  The discovery, much in the form that I have here presented it, hasactually been made, and its discoverer, a well-known professor at one ofthe Universities in the North of Europe, recently placed theextraordinary statement in my hands.

  In consequence, I consulted a number of the first living authorities onthe subject, who most courteously gave me their opinions and to whom Iowe much assistance, while several other Hebrew scholars, less noted,evinced the greatest curiosity.

  Therefore I trust that the reader himself may find this hithertounheard-of statement of facts of equal importance and interest.

  William Le Queux.

  Devonshire Club, London, 1910.



  "My name? Why--what does that matter, Doctor? In an hour--perhapsbefore--I won't trouble anybody further."

  "But surely it is your duty, my friend, to let me know your name?"argued the other. "Even if it be in confidence."

  The dying man slowly shook his head in the negative, moved uneasily, andstretching forth his thin trembling hand, answered in indifferentFrench.

  "I regret that I cannot satisfy your curiosity. I have a reason--a--astrong private reason. Here is my key," he went on, speaking veryslowly and with great difficulty in a weak voice scarce above a whisper."Open my bag, doctor, and;--and you'll find there a--a big envelope.Will you give it to me?"

  The Doctor, a queer, deformed little man shabbily dressed, with greyhair and short grey beard, rose from the bedside and with the keycrossed to where a well-worn leather bag lay upon the floor.

  As he turned his back upon his nameless patient and knelt beside thebag, a curious look of craft and cunning overspread his hard, furrowedcountenance. But it was only for a second. Next instant it hadvanished, and given place to that serious expression of sympathy whichhis face had previously worn.

  He found a large blue, linen-lined envelope which he gave into the whitetrembling hands of the stranger.

  The prostrate man looked about fifty, his unkempt hair and moustachejust tinged with grey, unshaved, and with white drawn face betrayinglong and intense suffering.

  Why was he so determined to conceal his name? What secret of his lifehad he to hide?

  Upon his blanched features was written the history of a curious andadventurous past. Perhaps he held some strange and amazing secret. Hewas eccentric in only one particular--that though he knew himself to bedying, he would leave no message for any relative; refusing absolutelyand stubbornly to give his name, even to the man who, now at his side,had befriended him.

  The room was a small and not over cleanly one, high up in a fourth-ratehotel close to the Gare du Nord, in Paris, a room with a single bed, athreadbare carpet, and a cheap wooden washstand with the grey Decemberlight filtering through lace curtains that hung limp and yellow. Thewallpaper was greasy and faded, and the bed itself the reverse ofinviting.

  To Doctor Raymond Diamond the dying man had been an entire strangeruntil three days before--a chance acquaintance which adversity hadbrought him. Both men were, as a matter of fact, stranded in Paris.They had, in ascending the narrow stairs of their little hotel, wishedeach other "Good-day." Men who are hard up always form easyacquaintanceships. The stranger had told him that he was a Dane, fromCopenhagen, but the name, Jules Blanc, which he had given to theproprietor was certainly not Danish. Indeed, he had admitted to Diamondthat he had not given his real name. He had reasons for withholding it.

  He was a mystery, and the Doctor strongly suspected him of havingabsconded from his native land, and coming to the end of his resources,was now in fear of the police.

  That he was well educated had been quickly apparent. Though he spokeFrench badly it was evident that he had nevertheless travelledextensively, and had, in his better days, been possessed of considerablemeans. He had been in the Near East, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine andEgypt, and appeared to possess an intimate knowledge of those countries.

  Yet his luggage had been reduced to that one small bag containing a bigblue envelope and a chancre of linen.

  For two days they had idled about Paris together, both practicallywithout a _sou_.

  The Doctor, when he had discovered the true state of his friend'sfinances, had explained that he too was "temporarily embarrassed owingto his many recent investments;" whereat they had both laughed in chorusand with light hearts spent half the day lazily lolling upon the seatsin the Tuileries Gardens watching the children at play.

  It was during those idle hungry hours that the stranger's remarksaroused within the Doctor the greatest curiosity. Diamond himself, anEnglishman, had in his student days taken his M.D. at Edinburgh, and wasalso a scholar of no mean attainments, yet this Dane's knowledge of manyoccult matters appeared amazingly profound.

  Why did he so resolutely refuse to give his name?

  On the day the Doctor had met the Dane, his financial resourcesconsisted of one solitary franc and a twenty-five centime nickel piece.His newly found friend had less. Hence the food they had had was notvery abundant. The two men, however, brothers in adversity, faced thehunger problem gaily. It was not the first time that either of them hadbeen face to face with the streets and starvation, therefore it was nonew experience.

  Yet the stranger ever and anon seemed deeply depressed. He knit hisbrows, set his teeth hard, and drew deep sighs--sighs over themight-have-beens of his past. His business in Paris was an important,an entirely secret one, he had declared. In a few days--in a week atmost--it must be completed.

  "And then," he added with a laugh of confidence, "I shall probably moveon to the Grand."

  That same evening, however, as they were walking up the Rue Lafayettetowards the obscure hotel, the stranger had been suddenly seized withsharp pains in the region of his heart. Neither man had tasted food fortwenty-four hours, and both were cold and faint.

  Diamond, however, took the man's arm and managed to get him back to hisroom. There he examined him carefully, and having diagnosed the case,recognised the extreme danger, but told the patient nothing decisive.

  He saw the proprietor, and from him borrowed three francs. Then hewrote a prescription which he took round to the big Pharmacie du Nord,at the corner.

  The mixture revived the invalid, but in the night he collapsed again.At mid-day Diamond obtained a cup of bouillon from a cheap restaurantnear, and brought it to the man who had refused his name. And he hadnow sat by the bedside with his fingers upon the patient's pulse allthrough that short gloomy afternoon.

  "I'm sorry things are so bad as they are," the Doctor was saying, as hehanded the invalid the big blue envelope, for he had, an hour before,told him the truth. "You ought to have had advice long ago."

  The dying man smiled faintly and shook his head.

  "I was warned in Stockholm," he answered in a low tone. "But I didn'theed. I--I was a fool."

  The Doctor sighed. What could he say? He had recognised that the poorfellow was already beyond human aid. He had probably been sufferingfrom the affection of the heart for the past six or seven years--perhapsmore.

  "And you are certain?" asked the ugly little man at last, again takingthe thin, bony
hand in his. "Are you quite certain that you wish tosend no message to anybody?"

  For a few seconds the prostrate man struggled hard to speak.

  "No," he succeeded in gasping at last. "No message--to--anybody."

  The Doctor pursed his lips at the rebuff. The eccentricity of thestranger had become more marked in those moments of finality.

  His thin, nerveless fingers were fumbling with the bulky envelope, whichseemed to contain a quantity of folded papers.

  "Doctor," he whispered at last, "I--I want to burn--all these--all--every one of them. Burn them entirely."

  "As you wish, my dear friend," responded the hunchback, eyeing theenvelope eagerly, and wondering what it might contain. "I'll put amatch to them in the stove yonder."

  The invalid, by dint of great effort, managed to move himself so thathis eyes could fall upon the little door in the round iron stove, inwhich, however, no fire was burning, even though the day was bitterlycold.

  Yet he hesitated, hesitated as though he dared not trust the hungrylittle man who had befriended him.

  "Do you wish them destroyed?" the Doctor again inquired.

  The dying man nodded, at the same moment raising his finger andmotioning that he could not speak.

  Diamond waited. He saw that the patient was vainly endeavouring toarticulate some words.

  For several moments there was a dead silence.

  At last the nameless man spoke again, very softly and indistinctly.Indeed, the Doctor was compelled to bend low to catch the words:

  "Take them," he said. "Take them--and burn them in the stove. Mind--destroy every one."

  "Certainly I will," answered the other. "Give them to me, and you shallsee me burn them. I'll do so there--before your eyes."

  The man held the envelope in his dying grip. He still hesitated. Hiseyes were fixed upon the papers wistfully, as though filled withpoignant regret at a mission unaccomplished.

  "Ah!" he gasped with difficulty. "To think that this is the end--theend of a lifetime's study and struggle! Death defeats me, vanquishesme--as it has vanquished every other man who has striven to learn thesecret."

  Diamond stood listening in wonder and curiosity. He noticed the dyingman's reluctance to destroy the papers.

  Perhaps he would succumb, and leave them undestroyed! What secret couldthey contain?

  There was a long silence. The grey light over the thousands ofchimney-pots was fast fading into gloom. The room was darkening.

  The patient lay motionless as one dead, yet his dull eyes were stillopen. In his hand he still held his treasured envelope.

  Again Diamond spoke, but the man with a secret made no reply. He onlyraised his wan hand, and shook his head sadly, indicating inability tospeak.

  The queer little Doctor bent once more closer to the stranger and sawthat the end was near. He was hoping against hope that the man wouldexpire before he had strength to order the destruction of thosedocuments, whatever they were. The mysterious statements of the dyingman had indicated that the papers in question contained some remarkablesecret, and naturally his curiosity had been aroused.

  During those three brief days of their acquaintance he had, in vain,tried to form some conclusion as to who the stranger might be. At firsthe had believed him to be a broken-down medical man like himself. Butthat surmise had been quickly negatived. He was a professional manwithout a doubt, but he had carefully concealed even his profession aswell as his name.

  The doctor had re-seated himself in the rickety rush-bottomed chair atthe bedside, and sat in patience for the end, as he had sat besidehundreds of other dying men and women in the course of his career.

  The patient breathed heavily, and again stirring uneasily, cast alonging look at the glass of lemonade upon the little table near by.Diamond recognised his wish, and held the tumbler to the man's parchedlips.

  The dying stranger motioned, and the Doctor bent his head until his earwas near the other's mouth.

  "Doctor," he managed to whisper after great difficulty, "it's no use.There's no hope! Therefore will you take them to the stove--and--andburn them--_burn them all_!"

  "Certainly I will," was the Doctor's reply, rising and slowly taking theenvelope from the prostrate man's reluctant fingers.

  He felt crisp papers within as he turned his back upon the dying man andbent down to the stove, placing himself between the invalid's line ofvision and the stove itself.

  A moment later, however, he opened the stove-door, placed the envelopewithin, and applied a match to it.

  Next moment a blood-red light fell across the darkening room upon thepallid face lying on the pillow.

  A pair of dull, anxious, deep-set eyes watched the flames leap up andquickly die down again, watched the crinkling tinder as the sparks diedout one by one--watched until Diamond stirred up the charred folios inorder that every one should be consumed.

  Then he turned slightly in his bed and, stretching forth his hand asthough wishing to speak, drew a long, hard breath.

  "And--and so--vanishes all my hope--my life," the stranger managed tosob bitterly in a voice almost inaudible.

  Again he sighed--a long-drawn sigh. And then--in the room, now almostdark, reigned a complete silence.

  Death had entered there. The man with the secret had passed to thatland which lies beyond human ken.



  Raymond Diamond's unfortunate deformity had always been against hisadvancement in his profession.

  The only son of old Doctor Diamond, a country practitioner of the oldschool, in Norfolk, he had had a brilliant career at Edinburgh, andafter some years of changeful life as a _locum tenens_ had bought apartnership in a practice on the outskirts of Birmingham.

  His partner turned out to be a rogue who had misrepresented facts, andsix months afterwards absconded to America. Diamond, however, betrayeda sharp resourcefulness. He advertised the practice in the _Lancet_,and when a prospective purchaser came to view it, he hired fourteen orfifteen men to come into the surgery, one after the other, and pay fees.Such an impression did this ruse cause upon the newly married medico,who came from London to investigate, that he bought it at once, andDiamond netted nearly twice the sum he originally gave for hispartnership.

  Finding that his deformity precluded him from forming anything like alucrative practice, he accepted a berth as ship's doctor in the P&Oservice, and for some years sailed the Indian and China seas.

  Back in London again, he drifted from one suburban practice to another,doing _locum_ work, and at last built up a semblance of a practice in acheap new suburban district down at Catford.

  Even there, however, his ugliness proved much against him, and at lasthe was forced to retire into a Northamptonshire village, where he andhis wife eked out a modest living by adopting children upon yearlypayments.

  It was not a very creditable means of livelihood, yet the severalchildren beneath their cottage roof were all well treated and well caredfor. And after all, Raymond Diamond, a brilliant man in many ways, wasonly a failure because of his physical shortcomings.

  He knew his Paris well. In his younger days he had often been there.Indeed, he once resided at St Cloud with an invalid gentleman for closeupon two years. Long years of travel had rendered him a thorough-goingcosmopolitan, even though his lot was now cast in a sleepy countryvillage.

  The reason of his present visit to Paris was in order to interview thefather of one of his adopted daughters, but the man had not kept theappointment, and by waiting from day to day in hope of finding him, hehad exhausted his slender finances, and he knew that his patient wifewas in a similar condition of penury at home.

  He was certainly a strikingly ugly man. His forehead was broad andbulgy, and his face narrowed to the point of the beard. His head seemedtoo large, his arms too long and ungainly, while his face was deeplyfurrowed by long years at sea. His mouth, too, was wide and ugly andwhen he laughed he displayed an uneven row of t
eeth much discoloured bytobacco.

  With folded arms, he was standing by the dead stranger, silentlycontemplating the white upturned face which showed distinctly in thefading twilight.

  "I wonder who he was?" he exclaimed aloud. "Why did he refuse his name,and why was he so particular to burn those papers? He was a queerstick--poor fellow! I suppose they have inquests in France, and I'llget something as a witness."

  And he pulled the sheet tenderly across to hide the lifeless visage.

  "But," he added, "perhaps I've rendered myself liable because I didn'tcall in a French doctor!"

  Then, suddenly arousing himself, he walked softly across to the stoveand, spreading his handkerchief on the floor, raked out all the tinderinto it. To his satisfaction he saw, as he had anticipated, that someof the papers, closely folded as they were, had only been burned at theedges.

  One of them he opened, and found it covered with typewriting.

  "These will, no doubt, prove interesting," he remarked to himself as hegathered every particle up into the handkerchief, and very carefullyfolded it over to protect it.

  The lid of an old cardboard box which he found under the bed he brokeup, and placing one piece above the handkerchief and the other below, heput the whole into the breast-pocket of his shabby frock-coat.

  The stranger's bag he next examined. It was old, and covered withlabels of first-class hotels--many of them in cities in the Near Eastand the Levant. The contents were disappointing, only a couple ofshirts marked with the initials "P.H.", several dirty collars, a cravator two, and a safety razor, together with a few unimportant odds andends.

  "The proprietor must have these, in lieu of his bill, I suppose,"Diamond said. "I wonder what `P.H.' stands for? He was a well-read manwithout a doubt. By Jove! he took his blow as bravely as any fellowI've seen go under. With a heart like that, it's a marvel that he