27. The Thief

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My sleepiness vanished in an instant.

"A-are you sure?" I stuttered, this time not having to fake my feelings.

I was floored. My plan had worked! It had actually worked! Of course I never doubted it would, in a theoretical, philosophical, let's-think-this-problem-through way, but to have it actually succeed – that was something else.

"Yes, quite sure, Miss. He's in room forty-five on the third floor."

"Um... thank you."

Suddenly, I realized that now I was going to have to go out and tell Mr Ambrose that I had found Simmons. All this time I had been so obsessed with finding the thief, with proving to my employer that I actually could be of some use, that I hadn't thought about what might happen when we finally did catch him.

Now we had. And I was going to have to go out and tell that to Mr Ambrose, a man who didn't seem overtly shy about taking the law and everything else he could into his own hands.

I looked down at my own hands. Soon, I realized, I might have blood on them.

But then, if you thought about it, it was a thief's blood. And who knew, I might even get a raise out of it.

Before I could think better of it, I left the hotel and opened the cab door.

"We have him," I said.

All of them turned and stared at me as if I had just announced that the Duke of Wellington was a French pussycat.

"You... you mean to say Simmons is in there? In this hotel?" Warren asked.

I rolled my eyes. "No, he's in Siberia. Yes of course I meant he's in this hotel! What else do you think I'm talking about?"

"Well, that's... That's quite impressive. Congratulations."

Karim held up a hand.

"Do not give out congratulations, Warren Sahib, before we have proof of the truth. It is easy to say he is there." He raised an eyebrow at me. "But have you indeed seen the man we seek with your own eyes?"

"No," I had to admit. "But he is here."

"It is easy for you to say so but he may be indeed farther than the stars and the sky."

I turned to Mr Ambrose. "Where did you pick this fellow up? Does he always talk like this?"

My master chose to ignore this. He was examining me carefully, without saying a word. Finally he inquired, in a low voice:

"He is really there?"

"Yes," I said firmly. "He is."

"Then let's go."

Mr Ambrose was out of the cab and halfway across in a flash. His arms came up, one of them holding a cane I hadn't noticed before. He gestured, and Warren's men were suddenly out of the cab, too, spreading out in a loose semi-circle behind him.

Six of them, together with Karim, remained at the entrance to the hotel while the rest, without needing any orders, followed him in. They seemed to be well accustomed to follow his silent commands.

Well, I sure as hell wasn't! Cursing, I hurried after them.

The doorman of the hotel seemed to be quite surprised at the company I was returning in. His surprise, however, was nothing to that of the receptionist, whose mouth actually dropped open as we marched into the entrance hall. We passed him before he had a chance to say or do anything and were already up the first flight of stairs when we heard him call out.

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