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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XVIII The Telegram
|Page 1 of 9||
BAFFLED for the moment, Tommy strolled into the restaurant, and ordered a meal of surpassing excellence. His four days' imprisonment had taught him anew to value good food.
He was in the middle of conveying a particularly choice morsel of Sole a la Jeanette to his mouth, when he caught sight of Julius entering the room. Tommy waved a menu cheerfully, and succeeded in attracting the other's attention. At the sight of Tommy, Julius's eyes seemed as though they would pop out of his head. He strode across, and pump-handled Tommy's hand with what seemed to the latter quite unnecessary vigour.
"Holy snakes!" he ejaculated. "Is it really you?"
"Of course it is. Why shouldn't it be?"
"Why shouldn't it be? Say, man, don't you know you've been given up for dead? I guess we'd have had a solemn requiem for you in another few days."
"Who thought I was dead?" demanded Tommy.
"She remembered the proverb about the good dying young, I suppose. There must be a certain amount of original sin in me to have survived. Where is Tuppence, by the way?"
"Isn't she here?"
"No, the fellows at the office said she'd just gone out."
"Gone shopping, I guess. I dropped her here in the car about an hour ago. But, say, can't you shed that British calm of yours, and get down to it? What on God's earth have you been doing all this time?"
"If you're feeding here," replied Tommy, "order now. It's going to be a long story."
Julius drew up a chair to the opposite side of the table, summoned a hovering waiter, and dictated his wishes. Then he turned to Tommy.
"Fire ahead. I guess you've had some few adventures."
"One or two," replied Tommy modestly, and plunged into his recital.
Julius listened spellbound. Half the dishes that were placed before him he forgot to eat. At the end he heaved a long sigh.
"Bully for you. Reads like a dime novel!"
"And now for the home front," said Tommy, stretching out his hand for a peach.
"We-el," drawled Julius, "I don't mind admitting we've had some adventures too."
He, in his turn, assumed the role of narrator. Beginning with his unsuccessful reconnoitring at Bournemouth, he passed on to his return to London, the buying of the car, the growing anxieties of Tuppence, the call upon Sir James, and the sensational occurrences of the previous night.
"But who killed her?" asked Tommy. "I don't quite understand."
"The doctor kidded himself she took it herself," replied Julius dryly.
"And Sir James? What did he think?"
"Being a legal luminary, he is likewise a human oyster," replied Julius. "I should say he 'reserved judgment.' " He went on to detail the events of the morning.
"Lost her memory, eh?" said Tommy with interest. "By Jove, that explains why they looked at me so queerly when I spoke of questioning her. Bit of a slip on my part, that! But it wasn't the sort of thing a fellow would be likely to guess."
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