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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XIV A Consultation
|Page 2 of 4||
"I shall be pleased to give you any information in my power. What is the young lady's name? Mr. Hersheimmer asked me, I remember----" He half turned to Julius.
"The name," said Sir James bluntly, "is really immaterial. She would be almost certainly sent to you under an assumed one. But I should like to know if you are acquainted with a Mrs. Vandemeyer?"
"Mrs. Vandemeyer, of 20 South Audley Mansions? I know her slightly."
"You are not aware of what has happened?"
"What do you mean?"
"You do not know that Mrs. Vandemeyer is dead?"
"Dear, dear, I had no idea of it! When did it happen?"
"She took an overdose of chloral last night."
"Accidentally, it is believed. I should not like to say myself. Anyway, she was found dead this morning."
"Very sad. A singularly handsome woman. I presume she was a friend of yours, since you are acquainted with all these details."
"I am acquainted with the details because--well, it was I who found her dead."
"Indeed," said the doctor, starting.
"Yes," said Sir James, and stroked his chin reflectively.
"This is very sad news, but you will excuse me if I say that I do not see how it bears on the subject of your inquiry?"
"It bears on it in this way, is it not a fact that Mrs. Vandemeyer committed a young relative of hers to your charge?"
Julius leaned forward eagerly.
"That is the case," said the doctor quietly.
"Under the name of----?"
"Janet Vandemeyer. I understood her to be a niece of Mrs. Vandemeyer's."
"And she came to you?"
"As far as I can remember in June or July of 1915."
"Was she a mental case?"
"She is perfectly sane, if that is what you mean. I understood from Mrs. Vandemeyer that the girl had been with her on the Lusitania when that ill-fated ship was sunk, and had suffered a severe shock in consequence."
"We're on the right track, I think?" Sir James looked round.
"As I said before, I'm a mutt!" returned Julius.
The doctor looked at them all curiously.
"You spoke of wanting a statement from her," he said. "Supposing she is not able to give one?"
"What? You have just said that she is perfectly sane."
"So she is. Nevertheless, if you want a statement from her concerning any events prior to May 7, 1915, she will not be able to give it to you."
They looked at the little man, stupefied. He nodded cheerfully.
"It's a pity," he said. "A great pity, especially as I gather, Sir James, that the matter is important. But there it is, she can tell you nothing."
"But why, man? Darn it all, why?"
The little man shifted his benevolent glance to the excited young American.
"Because Janet Vandemeyer is suffering from a complete loss of memory."
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