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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XXIV Julius Takes a Hand
|Page 1 of 7||
IN his suite at Claridge's, Kramenin reclined on a couch and dictated to his secretary in sibilant Russian.
Presently the telephone at the secretary's elbow purred, and he took up the receiver, spoke for a minute or two, then turned to his employer.
"Some one below is asking for you."
"Who is it?"
"He gives the name of Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer."
"Hersheimmer," repeated Kramenin thoughtfully. "I have heard that name before."
"His father was one of the steel kings of America," explained the secretary, whose business it was to know everything. "This young man must be a millionaire several times over."
The other's eyes narrowed appreciatively.
"You had better go down and see him, Ivan. Find out what he wants."
The secretary obeyed, closing the door noiselessly behind him. In a few minutes he returned.
"He declines to state his business--says it is entirely private and personal, and that he must see you."
"A millionaire several times over," murmured Kramenin. "Bring him up, my dear Ivan."
The secretary left the room once more, and returned escorting Julius.
"Monsieur Kramenin?" said the latter abruptly.
The Russian, studying him attentively with his pale venomous eyes, bowed.
"Pleased to meet you," said the American. "I've got some very important business I'd like to talk over with you, if I can see you alone." He looked pointedly at the other.
"My secretary, Monsieur Grieber, from whom I have no secrets."
"That may be so--but I have," said Julius dryly. "So I'd be obliged if you'd tell him to scoot."
"Ivan," said the Russian softly, "perhaps you would not mind retiring into the next room----"
"The next room won't do," interrupted Julius. "I know these ducal suites--and I want this one plumb empty except for you and me. Send him round to a store to buy a penn'orth of peanuts."
Though not particularly enjoying the American's free and easy manner of speech, Kramenin was devoured by curiosity. "Will your business take long to state?"
"Might be an all night job if you caught on."
"Very good, Ivan. I shall not require you again this evening. Go to the theatre--take a night off."
"Thank you, your excellency."
The secretary bowed and departed.
Julius stood at the door watching his retreat. Finally, with a satisfied sigh, he closed it, and came back to his position in the centre of the room.
"Now, Mr. Hersheimmer, perhaps you will be so kind as to come to the point?"
"I guess that won't take a minute," drawled Julius. Then, with an abrupt change of manner: "Hands up--or I shoot!"
For a moment Kramenin stared blindly into the big automatic, then, with almost comical haste, he flung up his hands above his head. In that instant Julius had taken his measure. The man he had to deal with was an abject physical coward--the rest would be easy.
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