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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XX Too Late
|Page 3 of 4||
"It's the right one, I suppose?" asked Tommy doubtfully. "There must be simply heaps along here."
"Sure it is. Look at the gorse. Remember what Jane said?"
Tommy looked at the swelling hedges of golden blossom which bordered the path on either side, and was convinced.
They went down in single file, Julius leading. Twice Tommy turned his head uneasily. Julius looked back.
"What is it?"
"I don't know. I've got the wind up somehow. Keep fancying there's some one following us."
"Can't be," said Julius positively. "We'd see him."
Tommy had to admit that this was true. Nevertheless, his sense of uneasiness deepened. In spite of himself he believed in the omniscience of the enemy.
"I rather wish that fellow would come along," said Julius. He patted his pocket. "Little William here is just aching for exercise!"
"Do you always carry it--him--with you?" inquired Tommy with burning curiosity.
"Most always. I guess you never know what might turn up."
Tommy kept a respectful silence. He was impressed by little William. It seemed to remove the menace of Mr. Brown farther away.
The path was now running along the side of the cliff, parallel to the sea. Suddenly Julius came to such an abrupt halt that Tommy cannoned into him.
"What's up?" he inquired.
"Look there. If that doesn't beat the band!"
Tommy looked. Standing out half obstructing the path was a huge boulder which certainly bore a fanciful resemblance to a "begging" terrier.
"Well," said Tommy, refusing to share Julius's emotion, "it's what we expected to see, isn't it?"
Julius looked at him sadly and shook his head.
"British phlegm! Sure we expected it--but it kind of rattles me, all the same, to see it sitting there just where we expected to find it!"
Tommy, whose calm was, perhaps, more assumed than natural, moved his feet impatiently.
"Push on. What about the hole?"
They scanned the cliff-side narrowly. Tommy heard himself saying idiotically:
"The gorse won't be there after all these years."
And Julius replied solemnly:
"I guess you're right."
Tommy suddenly pointed with a shaking hand.
"What about that crevice there?"
Julius replied in an awestricken voice:
"That's it--for sure."
They looked at each other.
"When I was in France," said Tommy reminiscently, "whenever my batman failed to call me, he always said that he had come over queer. I never believed it. But whether he felt it or not, there IS such a sensation. I've got it now! Badly!"
He looked at the rock with a kind of agonized passion.
"Damn it!" he cried. "It's impossible! Five years! Think of it! Bird's-nesting boys, picnic parties, thousands of people passing! It can't be there! It's a hundred to one against its being there! It's against all reason!"
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