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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XII A Friend in Need
|Page 4 of 11||
"Yes, but how?" cried Tuppence. "I've tried to think of everything."
Sir James smiled.
"And yet there's one person quite near at hand who in all probability knows where he is, or at all events where he is likely to be."
"Who is that?" asked Tuppence, puzzled.
"Yes, but she'd never tell us."
"Ah, that is where I come in. I think it quite likely that I shall be able to make Mrs. Vandemeyer tell me what I want to know."
"How?" demanded Tuppence, opening her eyes very wide.
"Oh, just by asking her questions," replied Sir James easily. "That's the way we do it, you know."
He tapped with his finger on the table, and Tuppence felt again the intense power that radiated from the man.
"And if she won't tell?" asked Julius suddenly.
"I think she will. I have one or two powerful levers. Still, in that unlikely event, there is always the possibility of bribery."
"Sure. And that's where I come in!" cried Julius, bringing his fist down on the table with a bang. "You can count on me, if necessary, for one million dollars. Yes, sir, one million dollars!"
Sir James sat down and subjected Julius to a long scrutiny.
"Mr. Hersheimmer," he said at last, "that is a very large sum."
"I guess it'll have to be. These aren't the kind of folk to offer sixpence to."
"At the present rate of exchange it amounts to considerably over two hundred and fifty thousand pounds."
"That's so. Maybe you think I'm talking through my hat, but I can deliver the goods all right, with enough over to spare for your fee."
Sir James flushed slightly.
"There is no question of a fee, Mr. Hersheimmer. I am not a private detective."
"Sorry. I guess I was just a mite hasty, but I've been feeling bad about this money question. I wanted to offer a big reward for news of Jane some days ago, but your crusted institution of Scotland Yard advised me against it. Said it was undesirable."
"They were probably right," said Sir James dryly.
"But it's all O.K. about Julius," put in Tuppence. "He's not pulling your leg. He's got simply pots of money."
"The old man piled it up in style," explained Julius. "Now, let's get down to it. What's your idea?"
Sir James considered for a moment or two.
"There is no time to be lost. The sooner we strike the better." He turned to Tuppence. "Is Mrs. Vandemeyer dining out to-night, do you know?"
"Yes, I think so, but she will not be out late. Otherwise, she would have taken the latchkey."
"Good. I will call upon her about ten o'clock. What time are you supposed to return?"
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