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The Secret Adversary

23. A Race Against Time
AFTER ringing up Sir James, Tommy's next procedure was to make a call at South
Audley Mansions. He found Albert discharging his professional duties, and introduced
himself without more ado as a friend of Tuppence's. Albert unbent immediately.
"Things has been very quiet here lately," he said wistfully. "Hope the young lady's
keeping well, sir?"
"That's just the point, Albert. She's disappeared." You don't mean as the crooks have got
"In the Underworld?"
"No, dash it all, in this world!"
"It's a h'expression, sir," explained Albert. "At the pictures the crooks always have a
restoorant in the Underworld. But do you think as they've done her in, sir?"
"I hope not. By the way, have you by any chance an aunt, a cousin, a grandmother, or any
other suitable female relation who might be represented as being likely to kick the
A delighted grin spread slowly over Albert's countenance.
"I'm on, sir. My poor aunt what lives in the country has been mortal bad for a long time,
and she's asking for me with her dying breath."
Tommy nodded approval.
"Can you report this in the proper quarter and meet me at Charing Cross in an hour's
"I'll be there, sir. You can count on me."
As Tommy had judged, the faithful Albert proved an invaluable ally. The two took up
their quarters at the inn in Gatehouse. To Albert fell the task of collecting information
There was no difficulty about it.
Astley Priors was the property of a Dr. Adams. The doctor no longer practiced, had
retired, the landlord believed, but he took a few private patients--here the good fellow
tapped his forehead knowingly--"balmy ones! You understand!" The doctor was a
popular figure in the village, subscribed freely to all the local sports--"a very pleasant,
affable gentleman." Been there long? Oh, a matter of ten years or so--might be longer.