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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
VI A Plan of Campaign
|Page 3 of 5||
"Yes. Look here." Together they bent over the list. "You see, very few Christian names are given. They're nearly all Mrs. or Miss."
"That complicates matters," he murmured thoughtfully.
Tuppence gave her characteristic "terrier" shake.
"Well, we've just got to get down to it, that's all. We'll start with the London area. Just note down the addresses of any of the females who live in London or roundabout, while I put on my hat."
Five minutes later the young couple emerged into Piccadilly, and a few seconds later a taxi was bearing them to The Laurels, Glendower Road, N.7, the residence of Mrs. Edgar Keith, whose name figured first in a list of seven reposing in Tommy's pocket-book.
The Laurels was a dilapidated house, standing back from the road with a few grimy bushes to support the fiction of a front garden. Tommy paid off the taxi, and accompanied Tuppence to the front door bell. As she was about to ring it, he arrested her hand.
"What are you going to say?"
"What am I going to say? Why, I shall say--Oh dear, I don't know. It's very awkward."
"I thought as much," said Tommy with satisfaction. "How like a woman! No foresight! Now just stand aside, and see how easily the mere male deals with the situation." He pressed the bell. Tuppence withdrew to a suitable spot.
A slatternly looking servant, with an extremely dirty face and a pair of eyes that did not match, answered the door.
Tommy had produced a notebook and pencil.
"Good morning," he said briskly and cheerfully. "From the Hampstead Borough Council. The new Voting Register. Mrs. Edgar Keith lives here, does she not?"
"Yaas," said the servant.
"Christian name?" asked Tommy, his pencil poised.
"Missus's? Eleanor Jane."
"Eleanor," spelt Tommy. "Any sons or daughters over twenty-one?"
"Thank you." Tommy closed the notebook with a brisk snap. "Good morning."
The servant volunteered her first remark:
"I thought perhaps as you'd come about the gas," she observed cryptically, and shut the door.
Tommy rejoined his accomplice.
"You see, Tuppence," he observed. "Child's play to the masculine mind."
"I don't mind admitting that for once you've scored handsomely. I should never have thought of that."
"Good wheeze, wasn't it? And we can repeat it ad lib."
Lunch-time found the young couple attacking a steak and chips in an obscure hostelry with avidity. They had collected a Gladys Mary and a Marjorie, been baffled by one change of address, and had been forced to listen to a long lecture on universal suffrage from a vivacious American lady whose Christian name had proved to be Sadie.
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