With an effort Tommy pulled himself together. He sank on to the bed and gave himself up to reflection. His head ached badly; also, he was hungry. The silence of the place was dispiriting.
“Anyway,” said Tommy, trying to cheer himself, “I shall see the chief—the mysterious Mr. Brown and with a bit of luck in bluffing I shall see the mysterious Jane Finn also. After that——”
After that Tommy was forced to admit the prospect looked dreary.
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.