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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XVIII The Telegram
|Page 5 of 9||
"Come at once, Moat House, Ebury, Yorkshire, great developments--TOMMY."
They looked at each other in stupefaction. Julius spoke first:
"You didn't send it?"
"Of course not. What does it mean?"
"I guess it means the worst," said Julius quietly. "They've got her."
"Sure thing! They signed your name, and she fell into the trap like a lamb."
"My God! What shall we do?"
"Get busy, and go after her! Right now! There's no time to waste. It's almighty luck that she didn't take the wire with her. If she had we'd probably never have traced her. But we've got to hustle. Where's that Bradshaw?"
The energy of Julius was infectious. Left to himself, Tommy would probably have sat down to think things out for a good half-hour before he decided on a plan of action. But with Julius Hersheimmer about, hustling was inevitable.
After a few muttered imprecations he handed the Bradshaw to Tommy as being more conversant with its mysteries. Tommy abandoned it in favour of an A.B.C.
"Here we are. Ebury, Yorks. From King's Cross. Or St. Pancras. (Boy must have made a mistake. It was King's Cross, not CHARING Cross.) 12.50, that's the train she went by. 2.10, that's gone. 3.20 is the next--and a damned slow train too."
"What about the car?"
Tommy shook his head.
"Send it up if you like, but we'd better stick to the train. The great thing is to keep calm."
"That's so. But it gets my goat to think of that innocent young girl in danger!"
Tommy nodded abstractedly. He was thinking. In a moment or two, he said:
"I say, Julius, what do they want her for, anyway?"
"Eh? I don't get you?"
"What I mean is that I don't think it's their game to do her any harm," explained Tommy, puckering his brow with the strain of his mental processes. "She's a hostage, that's what she is. She's in no immediate danger, because if we tumble on to anything, she'd be damned useful to them. As long as they've got her, they've got the whip hand of us. See?"
"Sure thing," said Julius thoughtfully. "That's so."
"Besides," added Tommy, as an afterthought, "I've great faith in Tuppence."
The journey was wearisome, with many stops, and crowded carriages. They had to change twice, once at Doncaster, once at a small junction. Ebury was a deserted station with a solitary porter, to whom Tommy addressed himself:
"Can you tell me the way to the Moat House?"
"The Moat House? It's a tidy step from here. The big house near the sea, you mean?"
Tommy assented brazenly. After listening to the porter's meticulous but perplexing directions, they prepared to leave the station. It was beginning to rain, and they turned up the collars of their coats as they trudged through the slush of the road. Suddenly Tommy halted.
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