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The Secret Adversary Agatha Christie

XVI Further Adventures of Tommy

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"That's better. How can you hope to make a success of any job if you don't use your brains?"

"You will tell us who has betrayed us," said the German. "But that shall not save you--oh, no! You shall tell us all that you know. Boris, here, knows pretty ways of making people speak!"

"Bah!" said Tommy scornfully, fighting down a singularly unpleasant feeling in the pit of his stomach. "You will neither torture me nor kill me."

"And why not?" asked Boris.

"Because you'd kill the goose that lays the golden eggs," replied Tommy quietly.

There was a momentary pause. It seemed as though Tommy's persistent assurance was at last conquering. They were no longer completely sure of themselves. The man in the shabby clothes stared at Tommy searchingly.

"He's bluffing you, Boris," he said quietly.

Tommy hated him. Had the man seen through him?

The German, with an effort, turned roughly to Tommy.

"What do you mean?"

"What do you think I mean?" parried Tommy, searching desperately in his own mind.

Suddenly Boris stepped forward, and shook his fist in Tommy's face.

"Speak, you swine of an Englishman--speak!"

"Don't get so excited, my good fellow," said Tommy calmly. "That's the worst of you foreigners. You can't keep calm. Now, I ask you, do I look as though I thought there were the least chance of your killing me?"

He looked confidently round, and was glad they could not hear the persistent beating of his heart which gave the lie to his words.

"No," admitted Boris at last sullenly, "you do not."

"Thank God, he's not a mind reader," thought Tommy. Aloud he pursued his advantage:

"And why am I so confident? Because I know something that puts me in a position to propose a bargain."

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"A bargain?" The bearded man took him up sharply.

"Yes--a bargain. My life and liberty against----" He paused.

"Against what?"

The group pressed forward. You could have heard a pin drop.

Slowly Tommy spoke.

"The papers that Danvers brought over from America in the Lusitania."

The effect of his words was electrical. Every one was on his feet. The German waved them back. He leaned over Tommy, his face purple with excitement.

"Himmel! You have got them, then?"

With magnificent calm Tommy shook his head.

"You know where they are?" persisted the German.

Again Tommy shook his head. "Not in the least."

"Then--then----" angry and baffled, the words failed him.

Tommy looked round. He saw anger and bewilderment on every face, but his calm assurance had done its work--no one doubted but that something lay behind his words.

"I don't know where the papers are--but I believe that I can find them. I have a theory----"


Tommy raised his hand, and silenced the clamours of disgust.

"I call it a theory--but I'm pretty sure of my facts--facts that are known to no one but myself. In any case what do you lose? If I can produce the papers--you give me my life and liberty in exchange. Is it a bargain?"

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The Secret Adversary
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