The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson Read Online (FREE)
Read The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious Series #3) by Maureen Johnson online free here.
December 15, 1932
THE SNOW HAD BEEN FALLING FOR HOURS, DRIFTING PAST THE WINDOWS, settling on the sill, forming little landscapes that mimicked the mountains in the distance. Albert Ellingham sat on an overstuffed chair covered in plum-colored velvet. A green marble clock sat before him on a small table, ticking contentedly. Aside from the ticking and the crackling of the fire, there was no sound. The snow muffled the world.
“Surely we should have heard something by now,” he said.
This was to Leonard Holmes Nair, who was stretched on a sofa on the opposite side of the room, covered in a fur rug and reading a French novel. Leo was a painter and a family friend, a tall and lanky reprobate in a blue velvet smoking jacket. The group had been holed up in this private Alpine hospital retreat for two weeks, watching the snow, drinking hot wine, reading, and waiting . . . waiting for the event that had announced itself in the middle of the night. Then the nurses and doctors swept into action, taking the mother-to-be to the luxurious birthing room. When you are one of the richest men in America, you can have an entire Swiss retreat to yourself for the birth of your child.
“These mysterious affairs of nature take time,” Leo said, not looking up.
“It’s been almost nine hours.”
“Albert, stop watching the clock. Have a drink.”
Albert stood and stuffed his hands into his pockets. He paced to a near window, then a farther one, then back to the first. The view was marvelous—the snow, the mountains, the peaked roofs of the Alpine cottages in the valley.
“A drink,” Leo said again. “Ring for one. Ring the—ringie. Ringie dingie. Where is it?”
Albert crossed back to the fireplace and pulled on a gold knob connected to a silk cord. A gentle tinkling could be heard somewhere in the distance. A moment later the doors opened and a young woman came in, dressed in a blue wool dress with a prim nurse’s apron, a white cap nestled on her head.
“Yes, Herr Ellingham?” she said.
“Any news?” he asked.
“I am afraid not, Herr Ellingham.”
“We need glühwein,” Leo said. “Er braucht etwas zu essen. Wurst und Brot. Käse.”
“Ich verstehe, Herr Nair. Ich bringe Ihnen etwas, einen Moment bitte.”
The nurse backed out of the room and drew the doors closed.
“Perhaps something has gone wrong,” Albert said.
“Albert . . .”
“I’m going up there.”
“Albert,” Leo repeated. “My instructions were to sit on you if you attempted it. While I may not be the most athletic man, I am larger than you and I’m entirely deadweight. Let’s turn on the radio. Or would you like to play a game?”
Usually, the offer of a game would settle Albert Ellingham at once, but he continued to pace until the nurse appeared again with a tray containing two ruby-colored glasses of hot wine, along with cold sliced sausage, bread, and cheese.