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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
|Page 2 of 10||
In the feeble light of the gas burner Tommy blinked at her. He decided at once that she was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. Her hair was a full rich brown, with sudden glints of gold in it as though there were imprisoned sunbeams struggling in its depths. There was a wild-rose quality about her face. Her eyes, set wide apart, were hazel, a golden hazel that again recalled a memory of sunbeams.
A delirious thought shot through Tommy's mind.
"Are you Jane Finn?" he asked breathlessly.
The girl shook her head wonderingly.
"My name is Annette, monsieur."
She spoke in a soft, broken English.
"Oh!" said Tommy, rather taken aback. "Francaise?" he hazarded.
"Oui, monsieur. Monsieur parle francais?"
"Not for any length of time," said Tommy. "What's that? Breakfast?"
The girl nodded. Tommy dropped off the bed and came and inspected the contents of the tray. It consisted of a loaf, some margarine, and a jug of coffee.
"The living is not equal to the Ritz," he observed with a sigh. "But for what we are at last about to receive the Lord has made me truly thankful. Amen."
He drew up a chair, and the girl turned away to the door.
"Wait a sec," cried Tommy. "There are lots of things I want to ask you, Annette. What are you doing in this house? Don't tell me you're Conrad's niece, or daughter, or anything, because I can't believe it."
"I do the SERVICE, monsieur. I am not related to anybody."
"I see," said Tommy. "You know what I asked you just now. Have you ever heard that name?"
"I have heard people speak of Jane Finn, I think."
"You don't know where she is?"
Annette shook her head.
"She's not in this house, for instance?"
"Oh no, monsieur. I must go now--they will be waiting for me."
She hurried out. The key turned in the lock.
"I wonder who 'they' are," mused Tommy, as he continued to make inroads on the loaf. "With a bit of luck, that girl might help me to get out of here. She doesn't look like one of the gang."
At one o'clock Annette reappeared with another tray, but this time Conrad accompanied her.
"Good morning," said Tommy amiably. "You have NOT used Pear's soap, I see."
Conrad growled threateningly.
"No light repartee, have you, old bean? There, there, we can't always have brains as well as beauty. What have we for lunch? Stew? How did I know? Elementary, my dear Watson--the smell of onions is unmistakable."
"Talk away," grunted the man. "It's little enough time you'll have to talk in, maybe."
The remark was unpleasant in its suggestion, but Tommy ignored it. He sat down at the table.
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