Fatal Venture

Fatal Venture by Freeman Wills Crofts

Book: Fatal Venture by Freeman Wills Crofts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Freeman Wills Crofts
operation, with Grant beside him.
    “That’ll be the nephew and his daughter,” Grant said suddenly, “and those other two the Forresters.”
    A stocky man with a head slightly large in proportion to his body, a clipped moustache and an alert air, had just climbed down on the wharf and was being followed by a young woman in a red felt hat, a fur coat and brown brogues. The Fourth Officer was superintending the embarkation, and the man spoke to him, the girl smiling at him pleasantly. Following them was a rather short, stoutish man in tweeds, who helped out a plain but kindly looking woman with greying hair.
    The identity of the first pair was put beyond doubt a little later. As Morrison was leaving his office for lunch they passed. The man looked at the notice above the door and stopped.
    “I’m Major Stott,” he explained. “Are you the officer responsible for our journey here?”
    Morrison, wondering what mistake he had made, admitted that the arrangements had been his.
    “Then all I want to say is that we’ve never been so well done in our lives. Have we, Margot?”
    “No, indeed,” the girl returned. “It was a delightful journey and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
    This was a different greeting from what Morrison had somehow expected, presumably from his knowledge of old Stott. He could not imagine the uncle commenting on anything done for him otherwise than to find fault. As he murmured his thanks, he took more careful stock of the newcomers.
    The Major at close quarters was just a little disappointing. He somehow failed to substantiate the suggestion of alertness and precision given by his more distant view. He had, indeed, a slightly gone-to-seed appearance. His features were good, his expression pleasant and kindly, and he was well dressed and groomed. But Morrison thought he had a faint air both of weakness and of obstinacy. He looked straight, though a trifle dissatisfied and unhappy.
    Margot Stott also looked a little worried. As he glanced at her, he thought he had seldom seen a more attractive face. Indeed, once he had looked at her, he found it difficult to turn his eyes elsewhere. She was of medium height and slight build, with an excellent carriage and small, shapely hands and feet. Her colouring was dark, and though not in any sense beautiful, her features were regular and well-formed. But it was not the details of her appearance, but the general impression he received from her, that affected Morrison. She seemed to radiate goodness in all its forms. Her clear, dancing eyes and delicate complexion – natural, he felt sure – showed health and intelligence and vitality. Her firm little chin indicated strength, and her every movement competence and capability. On her kindliness as well as complete straightness he would have banked his future. And yet over it all was this unhappy suggestion of anxiety.
    The fleeting interview was over and father and daughter had disappeared down the alleyway before Morrison remembered what he was supposed to be doing, and got on with it.
    He was aware that in his job it would be unwise to allow the vision of any young woman passenger, no matter how charming, to fill his mind. He knew also that even if this were not so, he could not hope for any social intercourse, let alone friendship, with a girl who moved in so different a sphere from his own. Conversation with her, if he had any, would inevitably be confined to business, and even this was unlikely, as he did not see what business there was which could possibly require discussion between them. Policy, in fact, as well as peace of mind postulated immediate forgetfulness of the meeting.
    Morrison’s own common sense, indeed, accepted this view, but, as it happened, a small incident made it harder for him to carry it out than might otherwise have been the case.
    As he was returning along A Deck from Captain Hardwick’s cabin, where he had been on business, he met Miss Stott walking in the opposite direction. She

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