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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XIII The Vigil
|Page 6 of 6||
"If that isn't the cruellest luck," cried Julius in despair.
The lawyer was calmer, but there was a curious gleam in his eyes.
"If it is luck," he replied.
"You don't think--but, say, that's plumb impossible--no one could have got in."
"No," admitted the lawyer. "I don't see how they could. And yet--she is on the point of betraying Mr. Brown, and--she dies. Is it only chance?"
"Yes, HOW! That is what we must find out." He stood there silently, gently stroking his chin. "We must find out," he said quietly, and Tuppence felt that if she was Mr. Brown she would not like the tone of those simple words.
Julius's glance went to the window.
"The window's open," he remarked. "Do you think----"
Tuppence shook her head.
"The balcony only goes along as far as the boudoir. We were there."
"He might have slipped out----" suggested Julius.
But Sir James interrupted him.
"Mr. Brown's methods are not so crude. In the meantime we must send for a doctor, but before we do so, is there anything in this room that might be of value to us?"
Hastily, the three searched. A charred mass in the grate indicated that Mrs. Vandemeyer had been burning papers on the eve of her flight. Nothing of importance remained, though they searched the other rooms as well.
"There's that," said Tuppence suddenly, pointing to a small, old-fashioned safe let into the wall. "It's for jewellery, I believe, but there might be something else in it."
The key was in the lock, and Julius swung open the door, and searched inside. He was some time over the task.
"Well," said Tuppence impatiently.
There was a pause before Julius answered, then he withdrew his head and shut to the door.
"Nothing," he said.
In five minutes a brisk young doctor arrived, hastily summoned. He was deferential to Sir James, whom he recognized.
"Heart failure, or possibly an overdose of some sleeping-draught." He sniffed. "Rather an odour of chloral in the air."
Tuppence remembered the glass she had upset. A new thought drove her to the washstand. She found the little bottle from which Mrs. Vandemeyer had poured a few drops.
It had been three parts full. Now--IT WAS EMPTY.
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