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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XXIV Julius Takes a Hand
|Page 3 of 7||
"You will hang if you shoot me," muttered the Russian irresolutely.
"No, stranger, that's where you're wrong. You forget the dollars. A big crowd of solicitors will get busy, and they'll get some high-brow doctors on the job, and the end of it all will be that they'll say my brain was unhinged. I shall spend a few months in a quiet sanatorium, my mental health will improve, the doctors will declare me sane again, and all will end happily for little Julius. I guess I can bear a few months' retirement in order to rid the world of you, but don't you kid yourself I'll hang for it!"
The Russian believed him. Corrupt himself, he believed implicitly in the power of money. He had read of American murder trials running much on the lines indicated by Julius. He had bought and sold justice himself. This virile young American, with the significant drawling voice, had the whip hand of him.
"I'm going to count five," continued Julius, "and I guess, if you let me get past four, you needn't worry any about Mr. Brown. Maybe he'll send some flowers to the funeral, but YOU won't smell them! Are you ready? I'll begin. One--two three--four----"
The Russian interrupted with a shriek:
"Do not shoot. I will do all you wish."
Julius lowered the revolver.
"I thought you'd hear sense. Where is the girl?"
"At Gatehouse, in Kent. Astley Priors, the place is called."
"Is she a prisoner there?"
"She's not allowed to leave the house--though it's safe enough really. The little fool has lost her memory, curse her!"
"That's been annoying for you and your friends, I reckon. What about the other girl, the one you decoyed away over a week ago?"
"She's there too," said the Russian sullenly.
"That's good," said Julius. "Isn't it all panning out beautifully? And a lovely night for the run!"
"What run?" demanded Kramenin, with a stare.
"Down to Gatehouse, sure. I hope you're fond of motoring?"
"What do you mean? I refuse to go."
"Now don't get mad. You must see I'm not such a kid as to leave you here. You'd ring up your friends on that telephone first thing! Ah!" He observed the fall on the other's face. "You see, you'd got it all fixed. No, sir, you're coming along with me. This your bedroom next door here? Walk right in. Little Willie and I will come behind. Put on a thick coat, that's right. Fur lined? And you a Socialist! Now we're ready. We walk downstairs and out through the hall to where my car's waiting. And don't you forget I've got you covered every inch of the way. I can shoot just as well through my coat pocket. One word, or a glance even, at one of those liveried menials, and there'll sure be a strange face in the Sulphur and Brimstone Works!"
Together they descended the stairs, and passed out to the waiting car. The Russian was shaking with rage. The hotel servants surrounded them. A cry hovered on his lips, but at the last minute his nerve failed him. The American was a man of his word.
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