Read Cry For the Baron Online

Authors: John Creasey

Tags: #Crime

Cry For the Baron

BOOK: Cry For the Baron
5.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Copyright & Information

Cry For The Baron


First published in 1950

© John Creasey Literary Management Ltd.; House of Stratus 1971-2014


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


The right of John Creasey to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.


This edition published in 2014 by House of Stratus, an imprint of

Stratus Books Ltd., Lisandra House, Fore Street, Looe,

Cornwall, PL13 1AD, UK.


Typeset by House of Stratus.


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library and the Library of Congress.




This is a fictional work and all characters are drawn from the author's imagination.

Any resemblance or similarities to persons either living or dead are entirely coincidental.



About the Author


John Creasey – Master Storyteller - was born in Surrey, England in 1908 into a poor family in which there were nine children, John Creasey grew up to be a true master story teller and international sensation. His more than 600 crime, mystery and thriller titles have now sold 80 million copies in 25 languages. These include many popular series such as
Gideon of Scotland Yard, The Toff, Dr Palfrey and The Baron

Creasey wrote under many pseudonyms, explaining that booksellers had complained he totally dominated the 'C' section in stores. They included:


Gordon Ashe, M E Cooke, Norman Deane, Robert Caine Frazer, Patrick Gill, Michael Halliday, Charles Hogarth, Brian Hope, Colin Hughes, Kyle Hunt, Abel Mann, Peter Manton, J J Marric, Richard Martin, Rodney Mattheson, Anthony Morton and Jeremy York.


Never one to sit still, Creasey had a strong social conscience, and stood for Parliament several times, along with founding the
One Party Alliance
which promoted the idea of government by a coalition of the best minds from across the political spectrum.

He also founded the
British Crime Writers' Association
, which to this day celebrates outstanding crime writing.
The Mystery Writers of America
bestowed upon him the
Edgar Award
for best novel and then in 1969 the ultimate
Grand Master Award
. John Creasey's stories are as compelling today as ever.


Chapter One
The Diamond of Tears


Jacob Bernstein blinked at the telephone and said: “Dear me, who ith that?” One thin pale hand, the delicate blue veins showing clearly beneath the powerful white light that shone above his head, covered the diamond which lay on the desk in front of him; and darkness fell upon the rest of the room. The bell kept ringing. “An invention of the Devil, that ith what it ith,” lisped Bernstein. He stared at the telephone from his hooded eyes, with their wrinkled lids, as if willing it to stop. Beyond the radius of the light the small, untidy room was shadowy, the corners cluttered with old books and papers, boxes, jewel-cases – junk worth a fortune. But the light was bright on his hooked nose and thin, pale cheeks, his colourless lips and the black skull cap which he loved to wear.

Brrrr-brrrr; brrrr-brrrr; brrrr-brrrr.

Bernstein was alone in the house. Except for the harsh ringing there was quiet – inside as well as in the dark London street outside.

“Dear me, dear me,” sighed Bernstein.

He leaned across the littered desk, making papers rustle as the loose sleeve of his old green velveteen jacket brushed over them, and rested the tips of his fingers on the telephone. The ringing affected his fingers like an electric shock. The instrument was the only new and modern thing here, an offence to the eye and to the ear of the old Jew, but one moved with the times, business was difficult. Bernstein was not greedy but content only when dwelling on the past or on such beauty as was covered by his right hand.

He lifted the receiver and the ringing stopped.

“Yeth, who ith it …?”

“Thank you, yeth, I keep well, these old bones will last a long time yet, but pleath, who are you …?”

“Tho!” Eagerness sounded in the word.

“Yeth … yeth, I quite understand, my friend …”

“You haff not been mithled, I have the
Tear …

“Dear me! Pleath, pleath, not on the telephone, we cannot dithcuth how much on the
telephone …

“My friend, I am hurt, I am the dithcreet, no one shall know … Yeth. If we agree on terms, yeth …”

“I will be motht happy to see you here …

“Yeth, tonight, if that ith your wish … Yeth, I am alone … I will open the door mythelf, thir … In half an hour, yeth … Goodbye.”

The papers rustled again as he replaced the receiver on its cradle. He sat blinking into the shadows and at the heavy brown velvet curtains. In the street two people walked past briskly, nearby a car-horn broke the quiet. Bernstein slowly withdrew his hand, and scintillating beauty lay there. It was a diamond as large as the nail of his thumb, shaped like a tear, and at the rounded end tinged with red.

He sighed, straightened his back and stood up. His thin shoulders were bowed, and as he walked across the room he dragged his right foot across the threadbare carpet, a little, black-tufted crow of a man. He reached a corner which was almost in darkness, for the bright circle of light behind him shone on the desk. He stooped over a pile of books on a chair, and picked up a heavy, leather-bound volume tooled in gold. The uncut edges were dusty and he turned pages seared with age. He let them flutter through his fingers until he found two pages stuck together. Then he opened the thick book wide.

In the centre a square hole was cut out of the pages, and the hole was lined with cotton wool. He took the
between his thumb and forefinger, and tucked it into the cotton wool. He smoothed the leather cover, then laboriously picked up the other books and placed them on top of the hiding-place. He straightened up as if he were in pain and hobbled back to the desk.

Then he opened a large copy of the
and began to read. Although his grey eyes were bleared and tired, he did not need glasses. Silence fell upon the room. The only movement was the quiver of his lips as he read, as if he were reciting to himself some much-loved sacred phrase.

Brrrr-brrrr; brrrr-brrrr; brrrr-brrrr!

He started – and stared at the telephone. “Again I” he cried, and shook his head angrily. “Again, why doth it go on, why doth it go on?” This time he stretched out for it more quickly, impatiently.

“Yeth …?”

“Tho! My friend, again it ith good to hear from you. Even when you speak on this instrument of the Devil … Yeth!” He chuckled and smiled, his expression much happier than when he had spoken before. “My dear Mithter Mannering, always, if I can help you …”

Tho! It ith sad, but already I haff promised, if terms are agreed … I mutht not do that, Mithter Mannering, you underthtand, it ith secret … Not all wish the world to know they haff the
so many are afraid of it … My friend, you dithappoint me, yeth, it ith not nonsense …”

“Mr. Mannering, it ith true, it ith a jewel of fate, but that doth not trouble such men as you … It is so beautiful, Mithter Mannering. It ith worth more than the blood of man and the beauty of woman … You want it for yourself …? Tho! A client, a customer as you say, and also I haff the customer … Tho …! In one hour, one little hour if you will speak to me again. Yeth, if we do not come to terms, I can tell you hith name, why not? He remainth unknown only if he buyth the
Tear …
Yeth, he ith rich, yeth “

“Goodbye, my friend.”

He put the receiver back on its cradle, placed the tips of his fingers together and peered towards the books on the chair, nodding so that sometimes his face was in shadow, sometimes lit up. With a sigh he closed the
and pushed it away.

Footsteps turned the corner and came towards the shop. They were a man's, hurried but firm. Bernstein did not move until a bell rang downstairs. Then he stood up, laboriously, and went to the window. He opened it and looked out.

“Who ith there?”

He saw a Homburg hat and a dark clad man, who moved back from the door so as to see him. The light from the window fell upon a familiar face.

“I told you I was coming, Bernstein.”

“Yeth, yeth! One mutht be tho thure.” He closed the window and hobbled to the door, out on to the landing, then down the narrow stairs to the street door. He hurried as best he could along the narrow passage, pulled back the two bolts, unfastened the chain, turned the key in the lock, and opened the door.

“You've been a hell of a time!” the visitor grumbled.

“My old bones, they will not move as I would like them to move, but pleath, come in, come in. You are well?”

“I'm all right.”

“Tho.” Bernstein closed the door. “I will not be a moment.” With painstaking care he bolted and locked the door again, while his visitor stood chafing. Then he turned and led the way upstairs. In the study he pointed to a chair by the desk. “Thit down, pleath.”

“Where is it?” asked his visitor sharply.

“I will thow you, thoon. You are in a great hurry, my friend. Are you not well? You look—”

“I'm all right.” The man breathed heavily, as if under some strain. Bernstein's wise old eyes narrowed, almost covered by the hooded lids. “Let's see it—or talk business first, whichever you like.”

Bernstein sighed. “Tho. Bithness.”

“What's your price?”

“It ith a beautiful jewel, my friend, never haff I theen a lovelier. Flawleth, quite flawleth, perfectly cut and the red—the blood on the stone. You know about the blood?”

“I know what I'm buying.”

“You do not belief, perhaps, that it ith a stone of ill-fortune?”

“It's a diamond, the only one like it in the world. And I want it. What's your price?”

Bernstein placed the tips of his fingers together again, peered at the man. He was a student of men; rich and poor, good and bad. He knew, none better, that a man who loved precious stones might feel towards the
as a man felt towards his beloved; thought of the
could make nerves quiver and lips tremble, and sight of it bring ecstasy. But was his visitor affected by the jewel? Or was he torn by some baser emotion?

Bernstein looked everywhere except towards the corner where the diamond was hidden.

“For thuch a jewel the prithe ith high, very high.”

“How much?”

“Now let me thee—yeth, let me thee. I do not think it would be too much to say one hundred thousand pounds. One—hundred—thousand—pounds.''

“It's high.”

“It ith not too high.”

The man's lips seemed to writhe.

“I'll take it.” He put his hand to his breast pocket and drew out a folded cheque-book. “I'll draw the cheque, you get the diamond.” He pulled out a fountain pen – and the scared old eyes watched him and saw that he did not take off his gloves as he wrote. The man sensed that Bernstein was still looking at him, and stopped writing.

“What about getting the diamond?”

“In good time, my friend. You thee, there are others who would buy that beautiful jewel. Two, perhaps t'ree, other. Yes. One ith to come, soon, to make the offer. Perhaps he will give more. Then—”

The man said: “You bloodsucking rogue, I'm paying you twice as much as it's worth!”

Bernstein said softly: “Are you?” He opened a drawer at his right hand and groped inside. “Perhaps that ith tho, indeed. Then I ask a question. Why do you pay twice as much ath it ith worth?”

“What do you mean?”

“I confeth I am worried by you,” said Bernstein softly. “You are in tho great a hurry. There cannot be thuch a hurry.” He looked pointedly at the gloves and the half-written cheque. “I will thee my other friends, and then—”

He drew his hand from the drawer – and into the eyes of his visitor there sprang fear. Bernstein pulled sharply, but the thing in his hand knocked against the drawer, which was only partly open. His visitor jumped up, knocking his chair to the floor. He struck savagely at the old man's face and sent him staggering sideways. Something dropped noisily back into the drawer. The visitor rounded the desk, while Bernstein thrust out his pale, trembling hands.

“No! No, you will not—”

The visitor thrust his hands aside, caught him round his scraggy throat, and squeezed. Bernstein's protest became a throaty gurgle. Holding more tightly, the man forced the small head back. The skull-cap fell off and the light shone on the pale, bald pate. Bernstein's eyes bulged. He struggled feebly, but that gradually ceased.

His body went limp.

The visitor maintained the pressure and held him, the body bent, arms hanging limply, knees sagging, until there was no sign of breathing. The killer took his hands away, and Bernstein fell limp, lifeless.

The man pulled open the drawer and saw the gun inside. He took the gun out and put it on the desk. He rummaged through the drawer and found a bunch of keys. He went to the door and switched on the other light, which fell on to Bernstein's face. The old eyes were half-closed and glazed, the mouth was slack and open.

The visitor began to search.

He found the safe and opened it with the keys, his hands trembling; they trembled more as he took out jewel-cases and loose stones. Some he tossed aside, others he dropped into his pocket, where they rattled like marbles. He opened case after case, but did not find the

He emptied the last one, and swung round.

“Where is it, you devil? Where is it?”

The murderer turned from the safe and began to rummage through the boxes, tossing them aside when he found them empty, and thrusting books away. He went to the desk and rummaged through every drawer, but found no sign of the
He turned to Bernstein and stood glaring down; his voice was thick with fury, as if he could make a dead man speak.

Where is it?”

He swung round and peered in every corner. His eyes were glassy, and he kept muttering to himself – swearing at the dead man, calling curses on his head, reviling him and all his race.

He went to the corner where the
lay between the pages of the book, lifted the books off the chair and examined it for a hiding-place. Then he pulled back the corners of the carpet; dust rose up, making him sneeze. He peered at the floor-boards, for any sign of a floor-safe, but the boards were old and none had recently been taken up. He went to the side of the room, bent down and ran his fingers along the wainscoting. Perspiration gathered on his forehead and began to trickle down his cheek, stood out in little beads on his upper lip.

Suddenly the quiet was blasted by a bell.

Brrr-brrrr; brrrr-brrrr; brrrr-brrrrl

He swung round towards the telephone.

The ringing went on and on.


BOOK: Cry For the Baron
5.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Calling Me Home by Louise Bay
I Hear Voices by Paul Ableman
El fantasma de Harlot by Norman Mailer
Vexed by Phoenyx Slaughter
Storm in a Teacup by Emmie Mears
El clan de la loba by Maite Carranza
Clockwork Chaos by C.J. Henderson, Bernie Mozjes, James Daniel Ross, James Chambers, N.R. Brown, Angel Leigh McCoy, Patrick Thomas, Jeff Young