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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XXIV Julius Takes a Hand
|Page 6 of 7||
For the first time the girl spoke.
"How did you 'persuade' him?" she asked.
Julius tapped his revolver.
"Little Willie here takes the credit!"
"Splendid!" cried the girl. The colour surged into her face, her eyes looked admiringly at Julius.
"Annette and I didn't know what was going to happen to us," said Tuppence. "Old Whittington hurried us off. We thought it was lambs to the slaughter."
"Annette," said Julius. "Is that what you call her?"
His mind seemed to be trying to adjust itself to a new idea.
"It's her name," said Tuppence, opening her eyes very wide.
"Shucks!" retorted Julius. "She may think it's her name, because her memory's gone, poor kid. But it's the one real and original Jane Finn we've got here."
"What?" cried Tuppence.
But she was interrupted. With an angry spurt, a bullet embedded itself in the upholstery of the car just behind her head.
"Down with you," cried Julius. "It's an ambush. These guys have got busy pretty quickly. Push her a bit, George."
The car fairly leapt forward. Three more shots rang out, but went happily wide. Julius, upright, leant over the back of the car.
"Nothing to shoot at," he announced gloomily. "But I guess there'll be another little picnic soon. Ah!"
He raised his hand to his cheek.
"You are hurt?" said Annette quickly.
"Only a scratch."
The girl sprang to her feet.
"Let me out! Let me out, I say! Stop the car. It is me they're after. I'm the one they want. You shall not lose your lives because of me. Let me go." She was fumbling with the fastenings of the door.
Julius took her by both arms, and looked at her. She had spoken with no trace of foreign accent.
"Sit down, kid," he said gently. "I guess there's nothing wrong with your memory. Been fooling them all the time, eh?"
The girl looked at him, nodded, and then suddenly burst into tears. Julius patted her on the shoulder.
"There, there--just you sit tight. We're not going to let you quit."
Through her sobs the girl said indistinctly:
"You're from home. I can tell by your voice. It makes me home-sick."
"Sure I'm from home. I'm your cousin--Julius Hersheimmer. I came over to Europe on purpose to find you--and a pretty dance you've led me."
The car slackened speed. George spoke over his shoulder:
"Cross-roads here, sir. I'm not sure of the way."
The car slowed down till it hardly moved. As it did so a figure climbed suddenly over the back, and plunged head first into the midst of them.
"Sorry," said Tommy, extricating himself.
A mass of confused exclamations greeted him. He replied to them severally:
"Was in the bushes by the drive. Hung on behind. Couldn't let you know before at the pace you were going. It was all I could do to hang on. Now then, you girls, get out!"
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