فصل 09

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فصل 09

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متن انگلیسی فصل


‘It seems quite like old times, doesn’t it, Madam?’ said Albert. He smiled happily.

Tuppence asked about his wife.

‘Oh, she’s all right - just doesn’t like being away from London and me, she says.’

‘I’m not sure we should involve you in this adventure, Albert,’ worried Tuppence.

‘Nonsense, Madam. I tried to join the Army but they said, “Wait for people your age to be called up.” And me, perfectly fit and only too eager to get at those Germans! Fifth Column, that’s what we’re up against, so the newspapers say - and I’m ready to assist you and Captain Beresford in any way you need me, to.’

‘Good. Now I’ll tell you what we want you to do…’

After their game of golf, Tommy went to have supper with Commander Haydock at Smugglers’ Rest. A tall, middle-aged manservant served them with the skill of a restaurant waiter. When the man had left the room, Tommy complimented the Commander on him.

‘Yes, I was lucky to get Appledore.’

‘How did you get him?’

‘He answered an advertisement. He had excellent references, was far better than any of the others who applied for the job and asked for very low wages. So of course I hired him immediately.’

Tommy laughed, ‘The war has certainly robbed us of much of our good restaurant service. Most good waiters were foreigners. It doesn’t seem to come naturally to Englishmen.’

‘Acting like a servant doesn’t come easily to the English bulldog.’ said the Commander, and went on to say that there would be a successful German invasion in the near future. ‘There’s no organization here, no proper co-ordination…’ Appledore brought whisky while the Commander was talking.

‘… and there are spies everywhere. It was the same in the last war - foreign hairdressers, waiters…’

Tommy thought, ‘Waiters? Appledore speaks perfect English, but many Germans do.’

All these forms to fill in, with idiotic questions…’ continued the Commander.

Tommy spoke on an impulse - the words fitted perfectly with what the Commander was just saying. ‘I know, such as “What is your name?” Answer N or M.’

There was a crash as Appledore dropped a glass. Tommy’s hand was soaked in whisky. The man stammered, ‘S - Sorry, sir.’ Haydock was very angry and shouted at Appledore, ‘You clumsy fool! What do you think you’re doing?’ Haydock continued for some minutes with more angry words. Tommy was embarrassed for Appledore, but suddenly the Commander’s anger passed.

‘Come along and wash that whisky off, Meadowes.’

Tommy was soon in the luxurious bathroom. He washed his hands, then turned from the washbasin to dry them. He didn’t notice that a bar of soap had dropped on to the floor. His foot stepped on it and a moment later he skidded across the floor, arms outstretched. One hand came up against the right-hand tag of the bath, the other pushed heavily against the side of a small bathroom cabinet and his foot hit the end panel of the bath. Immediately the bath slid out from the wall and Tommy found himself looking into a cupboard that contained a wireless transmitter.

The Commander appeared in the doorway. And several things fell into place in Tommy’s brain. Had he been blind? That cheerful red face was a mask. It was really the face of an arrogant Prussian officer. He remembered from long ago seeing a Prussian bully shouting at a soldier just as Commander Haydock had shouted at Appledore.

And it all fitted in. The enemy agent Hahn had been sent first in order to prepare Smugglers’ Rest. He then drew attention to himself, allowing Commander Haydock to unmask him. How natural that Haydock should buy the place and then tell the story to everyone he met! And so N, securely settled in his place with his secret transmitter and his helpers at Sans Souci, was ready to carry out Germany’s plan.

Tommy knew that he was in deadly danger unless he could act the part of the stupid Englishman well enough. He turned to Haydock with a laugh. ‘By Jove, was this another of Hahn’s little gadgets? You didn’t show me this the other day.’

Haydock stood as though made of stone for a minute, then he relaxed. ‘Damned funny, Meadowes. You went skating over the floor like a ballet dancer!’

With an arm round Tommy’s shoulders, Haydock took him into the sitting room. Half an hour later Mr Meadowes stood up.

‘I really must be going now - it’s getting quite late…’

Still talking, Mr Meadowes walked towards the door. He was in the hall… he opened the front door… They were going to let him get away with it! The two men stood talking, arranging another golf match for Saturday.

Tommy thought angrily, ‘There’ll be no next Saturday for you, Haydock - or whatever your real name is!’

Voices came from the road. Two men returning from a walk, men Tommy and the Commander knew who played at the golf club. Tommy called to them. They stopped for a few words with Haydock, then Tommy walked off with them.

He had managed to escape! It was so lucky that these men had come along. Tommy said goodbye to them at the gate of Sans Souci and walked up the drive whistling softly. He had just turned the dark corner by some large bushes when something heavy came down on his head and he fell into blackness…

At breakfast the next morning, Tuppence was aware of a tension in the atmosphere before Mrs Perenna left the room.

Major Bletchley gave a deep laugh. ‘Mrs Perenna is in a very bad mood,’ he remarked. ‘Meadowes has been out all night. Hasn’t come home yet.’

‘What?’ exclaimed Tuppence.

‘Oh dear,’ said Miss Minton, her face reddening.

Mrs Cayley looked shocked. Mrs O’Rourke merely grinned.

‘Ah, well, boys will be boys.’

Tuppence tried to reassure herself. She and Tommy had agreed that neither should be worried if the other was absent for no apparent reason. She was sure that he would communicate with her, or just arrive, very soon.

In the evening, Mrs Perenna reluctantly agreed to ring up the police. A sergeant arrived and certain facts were noted. Mr Meadowes had left Commander Haydock’s house at half-past ten. From there he had walked with Mr Walters and Dr Curtis to the gate of Sans Souci. From that moment, Mr Meadowes had disappeared.

Tuppence knew that Mrs Perenna had, according to Mrs Sprot, been out last night, and she believed her to be the most likely suspect in Tommy’s disappearance. But Sheila and Major Bletchley had been at the cinema, though separately, and the way that he had insisted on describing the whole film might suggest to a suspicious mind that he was establishing an alibi. And Mr Cayley had gone for a walk round the garden and had been out for some time. It was very unlike him to risk being out in the cool night air… so, was he really as ill as he claimed?

Many miles away, at a secret Intelligence location, Tuppence Beresford’s daughter was sitting at her desk frowning.

‘What’s the matter, Deborah? You’re looking worried.’ Deborah Beresford looked up at Tony Marsdon. He was one of the most brilliant beginners in the coding department.

‘It’s my mother. I’m a bit worried about her. She was annoyed because nobody seemed to want her in this war. So she went down to Cornwall to stay with an aunt. But I told Charles, my boyfriend, who was going down to see his parents who live in Cornwall, to go and visit her. And he did. And she wasn’t there.’

‘Wasn’t there?’

‘No. And she hadn’t been there! Not at all!’

‘Where’s - I mean - your father?’

‘Oh, he’s in Scotland somewhere.’

‘Maybe your mother’s gone to join him.’

‘She can’t. He’s in one of those secret areas where wives can’t go-‘

‘Oh - er - well, I suppose she’s just gone away somewhere.’

‘But why? It’s so strange. She’s been sending me letters - talking about her aunt and her garden and everything.’

‘I know, I know,’ said Tony hastily. ‘Of course, she’d want you to think - I mean - nowadays - well, people do go away now and again if you know what I mean…’

‘No! If you think Mother’s just gone away with someone, you’re wrong. Mother and Father are devoted to each other - really devoted. But the odd thing is that the other day someone said they’d seen Mother in Leahampton. I said it couldn’t be her because she was in Cornwall, but now I wonder.’


‘Yes. It’s the last place Mother would go to. There’s nothing to do there and only old colonels and unmarried ladies live there.’

‘Doesn’t sound a likely place,’ said Tony. He lit a cigarette and asked casually, ‘What did your mother do in the last war?’

‘She was a nurse.’

‘I thought perhaps she’d been like you - in British Intelligence.’

‘Oh, Mother would never have been able to do this sort of work although she and Father did get involved in searching for secret papers and spies at one point. Of course, they exaggerate it and make it all sound as though it had been very important.’ On the following day Deborah returned to her rooms and was puzzled by something unfamiliar in the appearance of her bedroom. It took her a few minutes to discover what it was. Then she rang the bell and asked her landlady what had happened to the big photograph that stood on the chest of drawers.

Mrs Rowley said she hadn’t touched it. Maybe it had been Gladys, the maid.

But Gladys also denied having removed it. A man who’d come about the gas had been in Deborah’s room she said. But Deborah refused to believe that an employee of the Gas Company would have stolen the photograph. It was more likely, in Deborah’s opinion, that Gladys had accidentally broken the photograph frame and had hidden it in the rubbish bin.

Deborah didn’t worry about it. She’d get her mother to send her another photo of herself.

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