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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XII A Friend in Need
|Page 3 of 11||
"I see," said Tuppence thoughtfully. "Thank you very much. But I'm not REALLY inexperienced, you know. I knew perfectly that she was a bad lot when I went there--as a matter of fact that's WHY I went----" She broke off, seeing some bewilderment on the lawyer's face, and went on: "I think perhaps I'd better tell you the whole story, Sir James. I've a sort of feeling that you'd know in a minute if I didn't tell the truth, and so you might as well know all about it from the beginning. What do you think, Julius?"
"As you're bent on it, I'd go right ahead with the facts," replied the American, who had so far sat in silence.
"Yes, tell me all about it," said Sir James. "I want to know who Tommy is."
Thus encouraged Tuppence plunged into her tale, and the lawyer listened with close attention.
"Very interesting," he said, when she finished. "A great deal of what you tell me, child, is already known to me. I've had certain theories of my own about this Jane Finn. You've done extraordinarily well so far, but it's rather too bad of--what do you know him as?--Mr. Carter to pitchfork you two young things into an affair of this kind. By the way, where did Mr. Hersheimmer come in originally? You didn't make that clear?"
Julius answered for himself.
"I'm Jane's first cousin," he explained, returning the lawyer's keen gaze.
"Oh, Sir James," broke out Tuppence, "what do you think has become of Tommy?"
"H'm." The lawyer rose, and paced slowly up and down. "When you arrived, young lady, I was just packing up my traps. Going to Scotland by the night train for a few days' fishing. But there are different kinds of fishing. I've a good mind to stay, and see if we can't get on the track of that young chap."
"Oh!" Tuppence clasped her hands ecstatically.
"All the same, as I said before, it's too bad of--of Carter to set you two babies on a job like this. Now, don't get offended, Miss--er----"
"Cowley. Prudence Cowley. But my friends call me Tuppence."
"Well, Miss Tuppence, then, as I'm certainly going to be a friend. Don't be offended because I think you're young. Youth is a failing only too easily outgrown. Now, about this young Tommy of yours----"
"Yes." Tuppence clasped her hands.
"Frankly, things look bad for him. He's been butting in somewhere where he wasn't wanted. Not a doubt of it. But don't give up hope."
"And you really will help us? There, Julius! He didn't want me to come," she added by way of explanation.
"H'm," said the lawyer, favouring Julius with another keen glance. "And why was that?"
"I reckoned it would be no good worrying you with a petty little business like this."
"I see." He paused a moment. "This petty little business, as you call it, bears directly on a very big business, bigger perhaps than either you or Miss Tuppence know. If this boy is alive, he may have very valuable information to give us. Therefore, we must find him."
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