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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XIV A Consultation
|Page 4 of 4||
"A very interesting speculation, Mr. Hersheimmer. In my own opinion, it would be successful. It is unfortunate that there is no chance of the conditions repeating themselves as you suggest."
"Not by nature, perhaps, doc. But I'm talking about art."
"Why, yes. What's the difficulty? Hire a liner----"
"A liner!" murmured Dr. Hall faintly.
"Hire some passengers, hire a submarine--that's the only difficulty, I guess. Governments are apt to be a bit hidebound over their engines of war. They won't sell to the firstcomer. Still, I guess that can be got over. Ever heard of the word 'graft,' sir? Well, graft gets there every time! I reckon that we shan't really need to fire a torpedo. If every one hustles round and screams loud enough that the ship is sinking, it ought to be enough for an innocent young girl like Jane. By the time she's got a life-belt on her, and is being hustled into a boat, with a well-drilled lot of artistes doing the hysterical stunt on deck, why--she ought to be right back where she was in May, 1915. How's that for the bare outline?"
Dr. Hall looked at Julius. Everything that he was for the moment incapable of saying was eloquent in that look.
"No," said Julius, in answer to it, "I'm not crazy. The thing's perfectly possible. It's done every day in the States for the movies. Haven't you seen trains in collision on the screen? What's the difference between buying up a train and buying up a liner? Get the properties and you can go right ahead!"
Dr. Hall found his voice.
"But the expense, my dear sir." His voice rose. "The expense! It will be COLOSSAL!"
"Money doesn't worry me any," explained Julius simply.
Dr. Hall turned an appealing face to Sir James, who smiled slightly.
"Mr. Hersheimmer is very well off--very well off indeed."
The doctor's glance came back to Julius with a new and subtle quality in it. This was no longer an eccentric young fellow with a habit of falling off trees. The doctor's eyes held the deference accorded to a really rich man.
"Very remarkable plan. Very remarkable," he murmured. "The movies--of course! Your American word for the kinema. Very interesting. I fear we are perhaps a little behind the times over here in our methods. And you really mean to carry out this remarkable plan of yours."
"You bet your bottom dollar I do."
The doctor believed him--which was a tribute to his nationality. If an Englishman had suggested such a thing, he would have had grave doubts as to his sanity.
"I cannot guarantee a cure," he pointed out. "Perhaps I ought to make that quite clear."
"Sure, that's all right," said Julius. "You just trot out Jane, and leave the rest to me."
"Miss Janet Vandemeyer, then. Can we get on the long distance to your place right away, and ask them to send her up; or shall I run down and fetch her in my car?"
The doctor stared.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Hersheimmer. I thought you understood."
"That Miss Vandemeyer is no longer under my care."
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