“Look here, Holmes,” I muttered as my companion plopped his boot into my waiting grip. “If all this stuff is in Hannay’s head, what was all that about the secret plans?”
Holmes dragged himself up my quivering body, reaching for a handhold in the shattered ceiling above. “Ah. I’m glad you mentioned that, Watson…” Wriggling his lithe torso over the ragged ledge, he hauled himself onto the floor of our previous place of captivity. Then, kneeling over the edge he smiled down at me. “You’re referring to the plans for a top secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger?”
“That’s the one,” said I.
Holmes moved out of my line of sight. There was a loud wrenching noise and a moment later a length of wood slid down towards me. I recognized it as the banister rail from the stairs that led out of the underground chamber (the first underground chamber, that is).
Bracing one end against the foot of the work bench, I shimmied up the sturdy shaft and into the room above.
“Glad to see you haven’t lost any of your gymnastic skills,” chuckled Holmes.
I stood up and dusted myself down. “Nothing to do with gymnastics, Holmes, “ I said, with a sniff. “I learned how to climb trees when Bummer Harris used to chase me across the common at home. The rotter was always trying to inveigle himself into my trousers.”
Holmes gazed off into the distance. “Ah, yes. The yearnings of youth. I remember it well…”
His eyes began to glaze over and a familiar smile slid across his features. I gave him a punch on the arm. “You were saying…?”
“What? Oh, yes, the Partridger plans.” He leaned against the wall in a nonchalant fashion. “Hannay did find the blueprints as I said before, but what is not clear is how he assimilated those plans into his internal version of ‘Die 39 Stufen’, since they were clearly not part of the original book.” He rubbed his crotch thoughtfully. “I’m beginning to think I may have misjudged Hannay.”
I started up the steps to the door. “We’d better catch him, then, hadn’t we?”
Holmes shook his head. “On the contrary, Watson, Hannay is of no further interest to me. By now he will have passed on his knowledge to Moriarty – including details of the secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship which, if that evil genius has his way, I fear may bring down not only our Government, but our country, our civilization and indeed, life as we know it.”
“Bugger,” said I.
“Bugger indeed,” said Holmes, as he pushed past me, banged open the door and stormed into the house above.
To be continued.