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The Secret Adversary

17. Annette
THE troubles of the future, however, soon faded before the troubles of the present. And
of these, the most immediate and pressing was that of hunger. Tommy had a healthy and
vigorous appetite. The steak and chips partaken of for lunch seemed now to belong to
another decade. He regretfully recognized the fact that he would not make a success of a
hunger strike.
He prowled aimlessly about his prison. Once or twice he discarded dignity, and pounded
on the door. But nobody answered the summons.
"Hang it all!" said Tommy indignantly. "They can't mean to starve me to death." A new-
born fear passed through his mind that this might, perhaps, be one of those "pretty ways"
of making a prisoner speak, which had been attributed to Boris. But on reflection he
dismissed the idea.
"It's that sour faced brute Conrad," he decided. "That's a fellow I shall enjoy getting even
with one of these days. This is just a bit of spite on his part. I'm certain of it."
Further meditations induced in him the feeling that it would be extremely pleasant to
bring something down with a whack on Conrad's egg-shaped head. Tommy stroked his
own head tenderly, and gave himself up to the pleasures of imagination. Finally a bright
idea flashed across his brain. Why not convert imagination into reality? Conrad was
undoubtedly the tenant of the house. The others, with the possible exception of the
bearded German, merely used it as a rendezvous. Therefore, why not wait in ambush for
Conrad behind the door, and when he entered bring down a chair, or one of the decrepit
pictures, smartly on to his head. One would, of course, be careful not to hit too hard. And
then--and then, simply walk out! If he met anyone on the way down, well----Tommy
brightened at the thought of an encounter with his fists. Such an affair was infinitely more
in his line than the verbal encounter of this afternoon. Intoxicated by his plan, Tommy
gently unhooked the picture of the Devil and Faust, and settled himself in position. His
hopes were high. The plan seemed to him simple but excellent.
Time went on, but Conrad did not appear. Night and day were the same in this prison
room, but Tommy's wrist-watch, which enjoyed a certain degree of accuracy, informed
him that it was nine o'clock in the evening. Tommy reflected gloomily that if supper did
not arrive soon it would be a question of waiting for breakfast. At ten o'clock hope
deserted him, and he flung himself on the bed to seek consolation in sleep. In five
minutes his woes were forgotten.
The sound of the key turning in the lock awoke him from his slumbers. Not belonging to
the type of hero who is famous for awaking in full possession of his faculties, Tommy