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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XVI Further Adventures of Tommy
|Page 4 of 6||
"And if we refuse?" said the German quietly.
Tommy lay back on the couch.
"The 29th," he said thoughtfully, "is less than a fortnight ahead----"
For a moment the German hesitated. Then he made a sign to Conrad.
"Take him into the other room."
For five minutes, Tommy sat on the bed in the dingy room next door. His heart was beating violently. He had risked all on this throw. How would they decide? And all the while that this agonized questioning went on within him, he talked flippantly to Conrad, enraging the cross-grained doorkeeper to the point of homicidal mania.
At last the door opened, and the German called imperiously to Conrad to return.
"Let's hope the judge hasn't put his black cap on," remarked Tommy frivolously. "That's right, Conrad, march me in. The prisoner is at the bar, gentlemen."
The German was seated once more behind the table. He motioned to Tommy to sit down opposite to him.
"We accept," he said harshly, "on terms. The papers must be delivered to us before you go free."
"Idiot!" said Tommy amiably. "How do you think I can look for them if you keep me tied by the leg here?"
"What do you expect, then?"
"I must have liberty to go about the business in my own way."
The German laughed.
"Do you think we are little children to let you walk out of here leaving us a pretty story full of promises?"
"No," said Tommy thoughtfully. "Though infinitely simpler for me, I did not really think you would agree to that plan. Very well, we must arrange a compromise. How would it be if you attached little Conrad here to my person. He's a faithful fellow, and very ready with the fist."
"We prefer," said the German coldly, "that you should remain here. One of our number will carry out your instructions minutely. If the operations are complicated, he will return to you with a report and you can instruct him further."
"You're tying my hands," complained Tommy. "It's a very delicate affair, and the other fellow will muff it up as likely as not, and then where shall I be? I don't believe one of you has got an ounce of tact."
The German rapped the table.
"Those are our terms. Otherwise, death!"
Tommy leaned back wearily.
"I like your style. Curt, but attractive. So be it, then. But one thing is essential, I must see the girl."
"Jane Finn, of course."
The other looked at him curiously for some minutes, then he said slowly, and as though choosing his words with care:
"Do you not know that she can tell you nothing?"
Tommy's heart beat a little faster. Would he succeed in coming face to face with the girl he was seeking?
"I shall not ask her to tell me anything," he said quietly. "Not in so many words, that is."
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