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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XIV A Consultation
|Page 1 of 4||
NOTHING was more surprising and bewildering to Tuppence than the ease and simplicity with which everything was arranged, owing to Sir James's skilful handling. The doctor accepted quite readily the theory that Mrs. Vandemeyer had accidentally taken an overdose of chloral. He doubted whether an inquest would be necessary. If so, he would let Sir James know. He understood that Mrs. Vandemeyer was on the eve of departure for abroad, and that the servants had already left? Sir James and his young friends had been paying a call upon her, when she was suddenly stricken down and they had spent the night in the flat, not liking to leave her alone. Did they know of any relatives? They did not, but Sir James referred him to Mrs. Vandemeyer's solicitor.
Shortly afterwards a nurse arrived to take charge, and the other left the ill-omened building.
"And what now?" asked Julius, with a gesture of despair. "I guess we're down and out for good."
Sir James stroked his chin thoughtfully.
"No," he said quietly. "There is still the chance that Dr. Hall may be able to tell us something."
"Gee! I'd forgotten him."
"The chance is slight, but it must not be neglected. I think I told you that he is staying at the Metropole. I should suggest that we call upon him there as soon as possible. Shall we say after a bath and breakfast?"
It was arranged that Tuppence and Julius should return to the Ritz, and call for Sir James in the car. This programme was faithfully carried out, and a little after eleven they drew up before the Metropole. They asked for Dr. Hall, and a page-boy went in search of him. In a few minutes the little doctor came hurrying towards them.
"Can you spare us a few minutes, Dr. Hall?" said Sir James pleasantly. "Let me introduce you to Miss Cowley. Mr. Hersheimmer, I think, you already know."
A quizzical gleam came into the doctor's eye as he shook hands with Julius.
"Ah, yes, my young friend of the tree episode! Ankle all right, eh?"
"I guess it's cured owing to your skilful treatment, doc."
"And the heart trouble? Ha ha!"
"Still searching," said Julius briefly.
"To come to the point, can we have a word with you in private?" asked Sir James.
"Certainly. I think there is a room here where we shall be quite undisturbed."
He led the way, and the others followed him. They sat down, and the doctor looked inquiringly at Sir James.
"Dr. Hall, I am very anxious to find a certain young lady for the purpose of obtaining a statement from her. I have reason to believe that she has been at one time or another in your establishment at Bournemouth. I hope I am transgressing no professional etiquette in questioning you on the subject?"
"I suppose it is a matter of testimony?"
Sir James hesitated a moment, then he replied:
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