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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
IX Tuppence Enters Domestic Service
|Page 6 of 6||
Fighting down that instinct of panic which urged her to turn tail and run without further delay, Tuppence returned the lady's gaze firmly and respectfully.
As though that first scrutiny had been satisfactory, Mrs. Vandemeyer motioned to a chair.
"You can sit down. How did you hear I wanted a house-parlourmaid?"
"Through a friend who knows the lift boy here. He thought the place might suit me."
Again that basilisk glance seemed to pierce her through.
"You speak like an educated girl?"
Glibly enough, Tuppence ran through her imaginary career on the lines suggested by Mr. Carter. It seemed to her, as she did so, that the tension of Mrs. Vandemeyer's attitude relaxed.
"I see," she remarked at length. "Is there anyone I can write to for a reference?"
"I lived last with a Miss Dufferin, The Parsonage, Llanelly. I was with her two years."
"And then you thought you would get more money by coming to London, I suppose? Well, it doesn't matter to me. I will give you L50--L60--whatever you want. You can come in at once?"
"Yes, ma'am. To-day, if you like. My box is at Paddington."
"Go and fetch it in a taxi, then. It's an easy place. I am out a good deal. By the way, what's your name?"
"Prudence Cooper, ma'am."
"Very well, Prudence. Go away and fetch your box. I shall be out to lunch. The cook will show you where everything is."
"Thank you, ma'am."
Tuppence withdrew. The smart Annie was not in evidence. In the hall below a magnificent hall porter had relegated Albert to the background. Tuppence did not even glance at him as she passed meekly out.
The adventure had begun, but she felt less elated than she had done earlier in the morning. It crossed her mind that if the unknown Jane Finn had fallen into the hands of Mrs. Vandemeyer, it was likely to have gone hard with her.
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