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The Secret Adversary

9. Tuppence Enters Domestic Service
WHEN Tommy set forth on the trail of the two men, it took all Tuppence's self-command
to refrain from accompanying him. However, she contained herself as best she might,
consoled by the reflection that her reasoning had been justified by events. The two men
had undoubtedly come from the second floor flat, and that one slender thread of the name
"Rita" had set the Young Adventurers once more upon the track of the abductors of Jane
The question was what to do next? Tuppence hated letting the grass grow under her feet.
Tommy was amply employed, and debarred from joining him in the chase, the girl felt at
a loose end. She retraced her steps to the entrance hall of the mansions. It was now
tenanted by a small lift-boy, who was polishing brass fittings, and whistling the latest air
with a good deal of vigour and a reasonable amount of accuracy.
He glanced round at Tuppence's entry. There was a certain amount of the gamin element
in the girl, at all events she invariably got on well with small boys. A sympathetic bond
seemed instantly to be formed. She reflected that an ally in the enemy's camp, so to
speak, was not to be despised.
"Well, William," she remarked cheerfully, in the best approved hospital-early-morning
style, "getting a good shine up?"
The boy grinned responsively.
"Albert, miss," he corrected.
"Albert be it," said Tuppence. She glanced mysteriously round the hall. The effect was
purposely a broad one in case Albert should miss it. She leaned towards the boy and
dropped her voice: "I want a word with you, Albert."
Albert ceased operations on the fittings and opened his mouth slightly.
"Look! Do you know what this is?" With a dramatic gesture she flung back the left side
of her coat and exposed a small enamelled badge. It was extremely unlikely that Albert
would have any knowledge of it--indeed, it would have been fatal for Tuppence's plans,
since the badge in question was the device of a local training corps originated by the
archdeacon in the early days of the war. Its presence in Tuppence's coat was due to the
fact that she had used it for pinning in some flowers a day or two before. But Tuppence
had sharp eyes, and had noted the corner of a threepenny detective novel protruding from
Albert's pocket, and the immediate enlargement of his eyes told her that her tactics were
good, and that the fish would rise to the bait.
"American Detective Force!" she hissed.