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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XX Too Late
|Page 1 of 4||
IN the street they held an informal council of war. Sir James had drawn a watch from his pocket. "The boat train to Holyhead stops at Chester at 12.14. If you start at once I think you can catch the connection."
Tommy looked up, puzzled.
"Is there any need to hurry, sir? To-day is only the 24th."
"I guess it's always well to get up early in the morning," said Julius, before the lawyer had time to reply. "We'll make tracks for the depot right away."
A little frown had settled on Sir James's brow.
"I wish I could come with you. I am due to speak at a meeting at two o'clock. It is unfortunate."
The reluctance in his tone was very evident. It was clear, on the other hand, that Julius was easily disposed to put up with the loss of the other's company.
"I guess there's nothing complicated about this deal," he remarked. "Just a game of hide-and-seek, that's all."
"I hope so," said Sir James.
"Sure thing. What else could it be?"
"You are still young, Mr. Hersheimmer. At my age you will probably have learnt one lesson. 'Never underestimate your adversary.' "
The gravity of his tone impressed Tommy, but had little effect upon Julius.
"You think Mr. Brown might come along and take a hand? If he does, I'm ready for him." He slapped his pocket. "I carry a gun. Little Willie here travels round with me everywhere." He produced a murderous-looking automatic, and tapped it affectionately before returning it to its home. "But he won't be needed this trip. There's nobody to put Mr. Brown wise."
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.
"There was nobody to put Mr. Brown wise to the fact that Mrs. Vandemeyer meant to betray him. Nevertheless, MRS. VANDEMEYER DIED WITHOUT SPEAKING."
Julius was silenced for once, and Sir James added on a lighter note:
"I only want to put you on your guard. Good-bye, and good luck. Take no unnecessary risks once the papers are in your hands. If there is any reason to believe that you have been shadowed, destroy them at once. Good luck to you. The game is in your hands now." He shook hands with them both.
Ten minutes later the two young men were seated in a first-class carriage en route for Chester.
For a long time neither of them spoke. When at length Julius broke the silence, it was with a totally unexpected remark.
"Say," he observed thoughtfully, "did you ever make a darned fool of yourself over a girl's face?"
Tommy, after a moment's astonishment, searched his mind.
"Can't say I have," he replied at last. "Not that I can recollect, anyhow. Why?"
"Because for the last two months I've been making a sentimental idiot of myself over Jane! First moment I clapped eyes on her photograph my heart did all the usual stunts you read about in novels. I guess I'm ashamed to admit it, but I came over here determined to find her and fix it all up, and take her back as Mrs. Julius P. Hersheimmer!"
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