فصل 12

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CHAPTER TWELVE

Extract from the diary of Sir Eustace Pedler.

After we left Madeira, Guy Pagett would not stop talking about work. It is true I promised my publishers my ‘Memories’ in the summer, but who wants to work on a ship? And Pagett is too honest for the job. He won’t let me invent stories about people I have not met.

The next thing I knew he was trying to get an extra cabin.

‘There’s no room to work in your cabin, Sir Eustace. It’s full of luggage. And we could hardly work in my little hole.’

I know Pagett’s ‘little holes’ - he usually has the best cabin on the ship.

The answer seemed simple, ‘Get an extra cabin,’ I said.

But Pagett loves to make mysteries. He came to me the next day, very pleased to have troubles to share. ‘You know you told me to get Cabin 17 for an office? I tell you, Sir Eustace, there is something very odd about that cabin.’

He and a Mr Chichester, and a girl called Beddingfeld, had almost had a fight over the cabin. Needless to say, the girl had won, and Pagett was annoyed.

‘Both Number 13 and 28 are better cabins,’ he repeated. ‘But they would not look at them.’

‘Well,’ I said, trying not to yawn, ‘nor would you.’

He was not happy to hear that.

‘You told me to get Cabin 17.’

‘My dear fellow,’ I said rather sharply, ‘I mentioned Number 17 because I happened to notice it was empty. I did not mean you to fight to the death for it - Number 13 or 28 would have been just as suitable.

He looked hurt. ‘There is something more. Miss Beddingfeld got the cabin, but this morning I saw Chichester coming out of it.’

I looked at him severely. ‘If you are trying to start an ugly story about Chichester, who is a Reverend - though an unpleasant person - and that attractive girl, Anne Beddingfeld, I don’t believe a word of it,’ I said coldly. ‘Anne Beddingfeld is an extremely nice girl - with particularly good legs. In fact, she’s got the best legs on board.’

Pagett did not like me talking about Anne Beddingfeld’s legs. He never notices legs and thinks my enjoyment of such things is childish. I like annoying Pagett, so I continued happily, ‘Ask her to dine at our table tomorrow night. It’s the Fancy Dress dance. We’ll have the Captain, the girl with the nice legs, Mrs Blair…’

‘You won’t get Mrs Blair, without Colonel Race,’ Pagett interrupted. ‘He’s asked her to dine with him.’

Pagett always knows everything. I was most annoyed.

‘Who is Race?’ I demanded.

As I said before, Pagett always knows everything - or thinks he does. He looked mysterious again. ‘They say he works for the British Government - in the Secret Service, Sir Eustace. Rather an important man, too.’

‘Isn’t that like the Government?’ I cried out. ‘Here’s a man on board who works with secrets, and they give them to me, a peaceful outsider who only asks to be left alone.’

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