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The Secret Adversary Agatha Christie

XXVII A Supper Party at the Savoy

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". . . I read standard works on crime and criminals. They all confirmed my opinion. Degeneracy, disease--never the deliberate embracing of a career by a far-seeing man. Then I considered. Supposing my utmost ambitions were realized--that I was called to the bar, and rose to the height of my profession? That I entered politics--say, even, that I became Prime Minister of England? What then? Was that power? Hampered at every turn by my colleagues, fettered by the democratic system of which I should be the mere figurehead! No--the power I dreamed of was absolute! An autocrat! A dictator! And such power could only be obtained by working outside the law. To play on the weaknesses of human nature, then on the weaknesses of nations--to get together and control a vast organization, and finally to overthrow the existing order, and rule! The thought intoxicated me....

". . . I saw that I must lead two lives. A man like myself is bound to attract notice. I must have a successful career which would mask my true activities.... Also I must cultivate a personality. I modelled myself upon famous K.C.'s. I reproduced their mannerisms, their magnetism. If I had chosen to be an actor, I should have been the greatest actor living! No disguises--no grease paint--no false beards! Personality! I put it on like a glove! When I shed it, I was myself, quiet, unobtrusive, a man like every other man. I called myself Mr. Brown. There are hundreds of men called Brown--there are hundreds of men looking just like me....

". . . I succeeded in my false career. I was bound to succeed. I shall succeed in the other. A man like me cannot fail....

". . . I have been reading a life of Napoleon. He and I have much in common....

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". . . I make a practice of defending criminals. A man should look after his own people....

". . . Once or twice I have felt afraid. The first time was in Italy. There was a dinner given. Professor D----, the great alienist, was present. The talk fell on insanity. He said, 'A great many men are mad, and no one knows it. They do not know it themselves.' I do not understand why he looked at me when he said that. His glance was strange.... I did not like it....

". . . The war has disturbed me.... I thought it would further my plans. The Germans are so efficient. Their spy system, too, was excellent. The streets are full of these boys in khaki. All empty-headed young fools.... Yet I do not know.... They won the war.... It disturbs me....

". . . My plans are going well.... A girl butted in--I do not think she really knew anything.... But we must give up the Esthonia.... No risks now....

". . . . All goes well. The loss of memory is vexing. It cannot be a fake. No girl could deceive ME! . . .

". . .The 29th.... That is very soon...." Mr. Carter paused.

"I will not read the details of the coup that was planned. But there are just two small entries that refer to the three of you. In the light of what happened they are interesting.

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The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie

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