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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
X Enter Sir James Peel Edgerton
|Page 3 of 5||
Boris got up and began striding up and down. He was very excited.
"You are a clever woman, Rita; but you are also a fool! Be guided by me, and give up Peel Edgerton."
Mrs. Vandemeyer shook her head gently.
"I think not."
"You refuse?" There was an ugly ring in the Russian's voice.
"Then, by Heaven," snarled the Russian, "we will see----" But Mrs. Vandemeyer also rose to her feet, her eyes flashing.
"You forget, Boris," she said. "I am accountable to no one. I take my orders only from--Mr. Brown."
The other threw up his hands in despair.
"You are impossible," he muttered. "Impossible! Already it may be too late. They say Peel Edgerton can SMELL a criminal! How do we know what is at the bottom of his sudden interest in you? Perhaps even now his suspicions are aroused. He guesses----"
Mrs. Vandemeyer eyed him scornfully.
"Reassure yourself, my dear Boris. He suspects nothing. With less than your usual chivalry, you seem to forget that I am commonly accounted a beautiful woman. I assure you that is all that interests Peel Edgerton."
Boris shook his head doubtfully.
"He has studied crime as no other man in this kingdom has studied it. Do you fancy that you can deceive him?"
Mrs. Vandemeyer's eyes narrowed.
"If he is all that you say--it would amuse me to try!"
"Good heavens, Rita----"
"Besides," added Mrs. Vandemeyer, "he is extremely rich. I am not one who despises money. The 'sinews of war,' you know, Boris!"
"Money--money! That is always the danger with you, Rita. I believe you would sell your soul for money. I believe----" He paused, then in a low, sinister voice he said slowly: "Sometimes I believe that you would sell--us!"
Mrs. Vandemeyer smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
"The price, at any rate, would have to be enormous," she said lightly. "It would be beyond the power of anyone but a millionaire to pay."
"Ah!" snarled the Russian. "You see, I was right!"
"My dear Boris, can you not take a joke?"
"Was it a joke?"
"Then all I can say is that your ideas of humour are peculiar, my dear Rita."
Mrs. Vandemeyer smiled.
"Let us not quarrel, Boris. Touch the bell. We will have some drinks."
Tuppence beat a hasty retreat. She paused a moment to survey herself in Mrs. Vandemeyer's long glass, and be sure that nothing was amiss with her appearance. Then she answered the bell demurely.
The conversation that she had overheard, although interesting in that it proved beyond doubt the complicity of both Rita and Boris, threw very little light on the present preoccupations. The name of Jane Finn had not even been mentioned.
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