The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie

Part 1 out of 6

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I The Young Adventurers, Ltd.
II Mr. Whittington's Offer
III A Set Back
IV Who Is Jane Finn?
V Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer
VI A Plan of Campaign
VII The House in Soho
VIII The Adventures of Tommy
IX Tuppence Enters Domestic Service
X Enter Sir James Peel Edgerton
XI Julius Tells a Story
XII A Friend in Need
XIII The Vigil
XIV A Consultation
XV Tuppence Receives a Proposal
XVI Further Adventures of Tommy
XVII Annette
XVIII The Telegram
XIX Jane Finn
XX Too Late
XXI Tommy Makes a Discovery
XXII In Downing Street
XXIII A Race Against Time
XXIV Julius Takes a Hand
XXV Jane's Story
XXVI Mr. Brown
XXVII A Supper Party at the Savoy
XXVIII And After


IT was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had
been struck by two torpedoes in succession and was sinking
rapidly, while the boats were being launched with all possible
speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their
turn. Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers;
others clutched their children closely to their breasts. One girl
stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite young,
not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave,
steadfast eyes looked straight ahead.

"I beg your pardon."

A man's voice beside her made her start and turn. She had
noticed the speaker more than once amongst the first-class
passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him which had
appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke
to him he was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous
way of looking over his shoulder with a swift, suspicious glance.

She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads
of perspiration on his brow. He was evidently in a state of
overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as the kind of
man who would be afraid to meet death!

"Yes?" Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.

He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.

"It must be!" he muttered to himself. "Yes--it is the only way."
Then aloud he said abruptly: "You are an American?"


"A patriotic one?"

The girl flushed.

"I guess you've no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!"

"Don't be offended. You wouldn't be if you knew how much there
was at stake. But I've got to trust some one--and it must be a


"Because of 'women and children first.' " He looked round and
lowered his voice. "I'm carrying papers--vitally important
papers. They may make all the difference to the Allies in the
war. You understand? These papers have GOT to be saved! They've
more chance with you than with me. Will you take them?"

The girl held out her hand.

"Wait--I must warn you. There may be a risk--if I've been
followed. I don't think I have, but one never knows. If so,
there will be danger. Have you the nerve to go through with it?"

The girl smiled.

"I'll go through with it all right. And I'm real proud to be
chosen! What am I to do with them afterwards?"

"Watch the newspapers! I'll advertise in the personal column of
the Times, beginning 'Shipmate.' At the end of three days if
there's nothing--well, you'll know I'm down and out. Then take
the packet to the American Embassy, and deliver it into the
Ambassador's own hands. Is that clear?"

"Quite clear."

"Then be ready--I'm going to say good-bye." He took her hand in
his. "Good-bye. Good luck to you," he said in a louder tone.

Her hand closed on the oilskin packet that had lain in his palm.

The Lusitania settled with a more decided list to starboard. In
answer to a quick command, the girl went forward to take her
place in the boat.



"TOMMY, old thing!"

"Tuppence, old bean!"

The two young people greeted each other affectionately, and
momentarily blocked the Dover Street Tube exit in doing so. The
adjective "old" was misleading. Their united ages would
certainly not have totalled forty-five.

"Not seen you for simply centuries," continued the young man.
"Where are you off to? Come and chew a bun with me. We're
getting a bit unpopular here--blocking the gangway as it were.
Let's get out of it."

The girl assenting, they started walking down Dover Street
towards Piccadilly.

"Now then," said Tommy, "where shall we go?"

The very faint anxiety which underlay his tone did not escape the
astute ears of Miss Prudence Cowley, known to her intimate
friends for some mysterious reason as "Tuppence." She pounced at

"Tommy, you're stony!"

"Not a bit of it," declared Tommy unconvincingly. "Rolling in

"You always were a shocking liar," said Tuppence severely,
"though you did once persuade Sister Greenbank that the doctor
had ordered you beer as a tonic, but forgotten to write it on the
chart. Do you remember?"

Tommy chuckled.

"I should think I did! Wasn't the old cat in a rage when she
found out? Not that she was a bad sort really, old Mother
Greenbank! Good old hospital--demobbed like everything else, I

Tuppence sighed.

"Yes. You too?"

Tommy nodded.

"Two months ago."

"Gratuity?" hinted Tuppence.


"Oh, Tommy!"

"No, old thing, not in riotous dissipation. No such luck! The
cost of living--ordinary plain, or garden living nowadays is, I
assure you, if you do not know----"

"My dear child," interrupted Tuppence, "there is nothing I do NOT
know about the cost of living. Here we are at Lyons', and we
will each of us pay for our own. That's it!" And Tuppence led
the way upstairs.

The place was full, and they wandered about looking for a table,
catching odds and ends of conversation as they did so.

"And--do you know, she sat down and CRIED when I told her she
couldn't have the flat after all." "It was simply a BARGAIN, my
dear! Just like the one Mabel Lewis brought from Paris----"

"Funny scraps one does overhear," murmured Tommy. "I passed two
Johnnies in the street to-day talking about some one called Jane
Finn. Did you ever hear such a name?"

But at that moment two elderly ladies rose and collected parcels,
and Tuppence deftly ensconced herself in one of the vacant seats.

Tommy ordered tea and buns. Tuppence ordered tea and buttered

"And mind the tea comes in separate teapots," she added severely.

Tommy sat down opposite her. His bared head revealed a shock of
exquisitely slicked-back red hair. His face was pleasantly
ugly--nondescript, yet unmistakably the face of a gentleman and a
sportsman. His brown suit was well cut, but perilously near the
end of its tether.

They were an essentially modern-looking couple as they sat there.
Tuppence had no claim to beauty, but there was character and
charm in the elfin lines of her little face, with its determined
chin and large, wide-apart grey eyes that looked mistily out from
under straight, black brows. She wore a small bright green toque
over her black bobbed hair, and her extremely short and rather
shabby skirt revealed a pair of uncommonly dainty ankles. Her
appearance presented a valiant attempt at smartness.

The tea came at last, and Tuppence, rousing herself from a fit of
meditation, poured it out.

"Now then," said Tommy, taking a large bite of bun, "let's get
up-to-date. Remember, I haven't seen you since that time in
hospital in 1916."

"Very well." Tuppence helped herself liberally to buttered
toast. "Abridged biography of Miss Prudence Cowley, fifth
daughter of Archdeacon Cowley of Little Missendell, Suffolk.
Miss Cowley left the delights (and drudgeries) of her home life
early in the war and came up to London, where she entered an
officers' hospital. First month: Washed up six hundred and
forty-eight plates every day. Second month: Promoted to drying
aforesaid plates. Third month: Promoted to peeling potatoes.
Fourth month: Promoted to cutting bread and butter. Fifth month:
Promoted one floor up to duties of wardmaid with mop and pail.
Sixth month: Promoted to waiting at table. Seventh month:
Pleasing appearance and nice manners so striking that am promoted
to waiting on the Sisters! Eighth month: Slight check in career.
Sister Bond ate Sister Westhaven's egg! Grand row! Wardmaid
clearly to blame! Inattention in such important matters cannot
be too highly censured. Mop and pail again! How are the mighty
fallen! Ninth month: Promoted to sweeping out wards, where I
found a friend of my childhood in Lieutenant Thomas Beresford
(bow, Tommy!), whom I had not seen for five long years. The
meeting was affecting! Tenth month: Reproved by matron for
visiting the pictures in company with one of the patients,
namely: the aforementioned Lieutenant Thomas Beresford.
Eleventh and twelfth months: Parlourmaid duties resumed with
entire success. At the end of the year left hospital in a blaze
of glory. After that, the talented Miss Cowley drove
successively a trade delivery van, a motor-lorry and a general!"
The last was the pleasantest. He was quite a young general!"

"What brighter was that?" inquired Tommy. "Perfectly sickening
the way those brass hats drove from the War Office to the Savoy,
and from the Savoy to the War Office!"

"I've forgotten his name now," confessed Tuppence. "To resume,
that was in a way the apex of my career. I next entered a
Government office. We had several very enjoyable tea parties. I
had intended to become a land girl, a postwoman, and a bus
conductress by way of rounding off my career--but the Armistice
intervened! I clung to the office with the true limpet touch for
many long months, but, alas, I was combed out at last. Since then
I've been looking for a job. Now then--your turn."

"There's not so much promotion in mine," said Tommy regretfully,
"and a great deal less variety. I went out to France again, as
you know. Then they sent me to Mesopotamia, and I got wounded
for the second time, and went into hospital out there. Then I got
stuck in Egypt till the Armistice happened, kicked my heels there
some time longer, and, as I told you, finally got demobbed. And,
for ten long, weary months I've been job hunting! There aren't
any jobs! And, if there were, they wouldn't give 'em to me. What
good am I? What do I know about business? Nothing."

Tuppence nodded gloomily.

"What about the colonies?" she suggested.

Tommy shook his head.

"I shouldn't like the colonies--and I'm perfectly certain they
wouldn't like me!"

"Rich relations?"

Again Tommy shook his head.

"Oh, Tommy, not even a great-aunt?"

"I've got an old uncle who's more or less rolling, but he's no

"Why not?"

"Wanted to adopt me once. I refused."

"I think I remember hearing about it," said Tuppence slowly. "You
refused because of your mother----"

Tommy flushed.

"Yes, it would have been a bit rough on the mater. As you know,
I was all she had. Old boy hated her--wanted to get me away from
her. Just a bit of spite."

"Your mother's dead, isn't she?" said Tuppence gently.

Tommy nodded.

Tuppence's large grey eyes looked misty.

"You're a good sort, Tommy. I always knew it."

"Rot!" said Tommy hastily. "Well, that's my position. I'm just
about desperate."

"So am I! I've hung out as long as I could. I've touted round.
I've answered advertisements. I've tried every mortal blessed
thing. I've screwed and saved and pinched! But it's no good. I
shall have to go home!"

"Don't you want to?"

"Of course I don't want to! What's the good of being
sentimental? Father's a dear--I'm awfully fond of him--but you've
no idea how I worry him! He has that delightful early Victorian
view that short skirts and smoking are immoral. You can imagine
what a thorn in the flesh I am to him! He just heaved a sigh of
relief when the war took me off. You see, there are seven of us
at home. It's awful! All housework and mothers' meetings! I
have always been the changeling. I don't want to go back,
but--oh, Tommy, what else is there to do?"

Tommy shook his head sadly. There was a silence, and then
Tuppence burst out:

"Money, money, money! I think about money morning, noon and
night! I dare say it's mercenary of me, but there it is!"

"Same here," agreed Tommy with feeling.

"I've thought over every imaginable way of getting it too,"
continued Tuppence. "There are only three! To be left it, to
marry it, or to make it. First is ruled out. I haven't got any
rich elderly relatives. Any relatives I have are in homes for
decayed gentlewomen! I always help old ladies over crossings,
and pick up parcels for old gentlemen, in case they should turn
out to be eccentric millionaires. But not one of them has ever
asked me my name--and quite a lot never said 'Thank you.' "

There was a pause.

"Of course," resumed Tuppence, "marriage is my best chance. I
made up my mind to marry money when I was quite young. Any
thinking girl would! I'm not sentimental, you know." She paused.
"Come now, you can't say I'm sentimental," she added sharply.

"Certainly not," agreed Tommy hastily. "No one would ever think
of sentiment in connection with you."

"That's not very polite," replied Tuppence. "But I dare say you
mean it all right. Well, there it is! I'm ready and willing--but
I never meet any rich men! All the boys I know are about as hard
up as I am."

"What about the general?" inquired Tommy.

"I fancy he keeps a bicycle shop in time of peace," explained
Tuppence. "No, there it is! Now you could marry a rich girl."

"I'm like you. I don't know any."

"That doesn't matter. You can always get to know one. Now, if I
see a man in a fur coat come out of the Ritz I can't rush up to
him and say: 'Look here, you're rich. I'd like to know you.' "

"Do you suggest that I should do that to a similarly garbed

"Don't be silly. You tread on her foot, or pick up her
handkerchief, or something like that. If she thinks you want to
know her she's flattered, and will manage it for you somehow."

"You overrate my manly charms," murmured Tommy.

"On the other hand," proceeded Tuppence, "my millionaire would
probably run for his life! No--marriage is fraught with
difficulties. Remains--to MAKE money!"

"We've tried that, and failed," Tommy reminded her.

"We've tried all the orthodox ways, yes. But suppose we try the
unorthodox. Tommy, let's be adventurers!"

"Certainly," replied Tommy cheerfully. "How do we begin?"

"That's the difficulty. If we could make ourselves known, people
might hire us to commit crimes for them."

"Delightful," commented Tommy. "Especially coming from a
clergyman's daughter!"

"The moral guilt," Tuppence pointed out, "would be theirs--not
mine. You must admit that there's a difference between stealing a
diamond necklace for yourself and being hired to steal it."

"There wouldn't be the least difference if you were caught!"

"Perhaps not. But I shouldn't be caught. I'm so clever."

"Modesty always was your besetting sin," remarked Tommy.

"Don't rag. Look here, Tommy, shall we really? Shall we form a
business partnership?"

"Form a company for the stealing of diamond necklaces?"

"That was only an illustration. Let's have a--what do you call
it in book-keeping?"

"Don't know. Never did any."

"I have--but I always got mixed up, and used to put credit
entries on the debit side, and vice versa--so they fired me out.
Oh, I know--a joint venture! It struck me as such a romantic
phrase to come across in the middle of musty old figures. It's
got an Elizabethan flavour about it--makes one think of galleons
and doubloons. A joint venture!"

"Trading under the name of the Young Adventurers, Ltd.? Is that
your idea, Tuppence?"

"It's all very well to laugh, but I feel there might be something
in it."

"How do you propose to get in touch with your would-be

"Advertisement," replied Tuppence promptly. "Have you got a bit
of paper and a pencil? Men usually seem to have. Just like we
have hairpins and powder-puffs."

Tommy handed over a rather shabby green notebook, and Tuppence
began writing busily.

"Shall we begin: 'Young officer, twice wounded in the war--' "

"Certainly not."

"Oh, very well, my dear boy. But I can assure you that that sort
of thing might touch the heart of an elderly spinster, and she
might adopt you, and then there would be no need for you to be a
young adventurer at all."

"I don't want to be adopted."

"I forgot you had a prejudice against it. I was only ragging
you! The papers are full up to the brim with that type of thing.
Now listen--how's this? 'Two young adventurers for hire. Willing
to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good.' (We might as
well make that clear from the start.) Then we might add: 'No
reasonable offer refused'--like flats and furniture."

"I should think any offer we get in answer to that would be a
pretty UNreasonable one!"

"Tommy! You're a genius! That's ever so much more chic. 'No
unreasonable offer refused--if pay is good.' How's that?"

"I shouldn't mention pay again. It looks rather eager."

"It couldn't look as eager as I feel! But perhaps you are right.
Now I'll read it straight through. 'Two young adventurers for
hire. Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good. No
unreasonable offer refused.' How would that strike you if you
read it?"

"It would strike me as either being a hoax, or else written by a

"It's not half so insane as a thing I read this morning beginning
'Petunia' and signed 'Best Boy.' " She tore out the leaf and
handed it to Tommy. "There you are. Times, I think. Reply to
Box so-and-so. I expect it will be about five shillings. Here's
half a crown for my share."

Tommy was holding the paper thoughtfully. His faced burned a
deeper red.

"Shall we really try it?" he said at last. "Shall we, Tuppence?
Just for the fun of the thing?"

"Tommy, you're a sport! I knew you would be! Let's drink to
success." She poured some cold dregs of tea into the two cups.

"Here's to our joint venture, and may it prosper!"

"The Young Adventurers, Ltd.!" responded Tommy.

They put down the cups and laughed rather uncertainly. Tuppence

"I must return to my palatial suite at the hostel."

"Perhaps it is time I strolled round to the Ritz," agreed Tommy
with a grin. "Where shall we meet? And when?"

"Twelve o'clock to-morrow. Piccadilly Tube station. Will that
suit you?"

"My time is my own," replied Mr. Beresford magnificently.

"So long, then."

"Good-bye, old thing."

The two young people went off in opposite directions. Tuppence's
hostel was situated in what was charitably called Southern
Belgravia. For reasons of economy she did not take a bus.

She was half-way across St. James's Park, when a man's voice
behind her made her start.

"Excuse me," it said. "But may I speak to you for a moment?"



TUPPENCE turned sharply, but the words hovering on the tip of her
tongue remained unspoken, for the man's appearance and manner did
not bear out her first and most natural assumption. She
hesitated. As if he read her thoughts, the man said quickly:

"I can assure you I mean no disrespect."

Tuppence believed him. Although she disliked and distrusted him
instinctively, she was inclined to acquit him of the particular
motive which she had at first attributed to him. She looked him
up and down. He was a big man, clean shaven, with a heavy jowl.
His eyes were small and cunning, and shifted their glance under
her direct gaze.

"Well, what is it?" she asked.

The man smiled.

"I happened to overhear part of your conversation with the young
gentleman in Lyons'."

"Well--what of it?"

"Nothing--except that I think I may be of some use to you."

Another inference forced itself into Tuppence's mind:

"You followed me here?"

"I took that liberty."

"And in what way do you think you could be of use to me?"

The man took a card from his pocket and handed it to her with a

Tuppence took it and scrutinized it carefully. It bore the
inscription, "Mr. Edward Whittington." Below the name were the
words "Esthonia Glassware Co.," and the address of a city office.
Mr. Whittington spoke again:

"If you will call upon me to-morrow morning at eleven o'clock, I
will lay the details of my proposition before you."

"At eleven o'clock?" said Tuppence doubtfully.

"At eleven o'clock."

Tuppence made up her mind.

"Very well. I'll be there."

"Thank you. Good evening."

He raised his hat with a flourish, and walked away. Tuppence
remained for some minutes gazing after him. Then she gave a
curious movement of her shoulders, rather as a terrier shakes

"The adventures have begun," she murmured to herself. "What does
he want me to do, I wonder? There's something about you, Mr.
Whittington, that I don't like at all. But, on the other hand,
I'm not the least bit afraid of you. And as I've said before, and
shall doubtless say again, little Tuppence can look after
herself, thank you!"

And with a short, sharp nod of her head she walked briskly
onward. As a result of further meditations, however, she turned
aside from the direct route and entered a post office. There she
pondered for some moments, a telegraph form in her hand. The
thought of a possible five shillings spent unnecessarily spurred
her to action, and she decided to risk the waste of ninepence.

Disdaining the spiky pen and thick, black treacle which a
beneficent Government had provided, Tuppence drew out Tommy's
pencil which she had retained and wrote rapidly: "Don't put in
advertisement. Will explain to-morrow." She addressed it to Tommy
at his club, from which in one short month he would have to
resign, unless a kindly fortune permitted him to renew his

"It may catch him," she murmured. "Anyway, it's worth trying."

After handing it over the counter she set out briskly for home,
stopping at a baker's to buy three penny-worth of new buns.

Later, in her tiny cubicle at the top of the house she munched
buns and reflected on the future. What was the Esthonia
Glassware Co., and what earthly need could it have for her
services? A pleasurable thrill of excitement made Tuppence
tingle. At any rate, the country vicarage had retreated into the
background again. The morrow held possibilities.

It was a long time before Tuppence went to sleep that night, and,
when at length she did, she dreamed that Mr. Whittington had set
her to washing up a pile of Esthonia Glassware, which bore an
unaccountable resemblance to hospital plates!

It wanted some five minutes to eleven when Tuppence reached the
block of buildings in which the offices of the Esthonia Glassware
Co. were situated. To arrive before the time would look
over-eager. So Tuppence decided to walk to the end of the street
and back again. She did so. On the stroke of eleven she plunged
into the recesses of the building. The Esthonia Glassware Co.
was on the top floor. There was a lift, but Tuppence chose to
walk up.

Slightly out of breath, she came to a halt outside the ground
glass door with the legend painted across it "Esthonia Glassware

Tuppence knocked. In response to a voice from within, she turned
the handle and walked into a small rather dirty outer office.

A middle-aged clerk got down from a high stool at a desk near the
window and came towards her inquiringly.

"I have an appointment with Mr. Whittington," said Tuppence.

"Will you come this way, please." He crossed to a partition door
with "Private" on it, knocked, then opened the door and stood
aside to let her pass in.

Mr. Whittington was seated behind a large desk covered with
papers. Tuppence felt her previous judgment confirmed. There was
something wrong about Mr. Whittington. The combination of his
sleek prosperity and his shifty eye was not attractive.

He looked up and nodded.

"So you've turned up all right? That's good. Sit down, will

Tuppence sat down on the chair facing him. She looked
particularly small and demure this morning. She sat there meekly
with downcast eyes whilst Mr. Whittington sorted and rustled
amongst his papers. Finally he pushed them away, and leaned over
the desk.

"Now, my dear young lady, let us come to business." His large
face broadened into a smile. "You want work? Well, I have work
to offer you. What should you say now to L100 down, and all
expenses paid?" Mr. Whittington leaned back in his chair, and
thrust his thumbs into the arm-holes of his waistcoat.

Tuppence eyed him warily.

"And the nature of the work?" she demanded.

"Nominal--purely nominal. A pleasant trip, that is all."

"Where to?"

Mr. Whittington smiled again.


"Oh!" said Tuppence thoughtfully. To herself she said: "Of
course, if father heard that he would have a fit! But somehow I
don't see Mr. Whittington in the role of the gay deceiver."

"Yes," continued Whittington. "What could be more delightful? To
put the clock back a few years--a very few, I am sure--and
re-enter one of those charming pensionnats de jeunes filles with
which Paris abounds----"

Tuppence interrupted him.

"A pensionnat?"

"Exactly. Madame Colombier's in the Avenue de Neuilly."

Tuppence knew the name well. Nothing could have been more
select. She had had several American friends there. She was more
than ever puzzled.

"You want me to go to Madame Colombier's? For how long?"

"That depends. Possibly three months."

"And that is all? There are no other conditions?"

"None whatever. You would, of course, go in the character of my
ward, and you would hold no communication with your friends. I
should have to request absolute secrecy for the time being. By
the way, you are English, are you not?"


"Yet you speak with a slight American accent?"

"My great pal in hospital was a little American girl. I dare say
I picked it up from her. I can soon get out of it again."

"On the contrary, it might be simpler for you to pass as an
American. Details about your past life in England might be more
difficult to sustain. Yes, I think that would be decidedly
better. Then----"

"One moment, Mr. Whittington! You seem to be taking my consent
for granted."

Whittington looked surprised.

"Surely you are not thinking of refusing? I can assure you that
Madame Colombier's is a most high-class and orthodox
establishment. And the terms are most liberal."

"Exactly," said Tuppence. "That's just it. The terms are almost
too liberal, Mr. Whittington. I cannot see any way in which I
can be worth that amount of money to you."

"No?" said Whittington softly. "Well, I will tell you. I could
doubtless obtain some one else for very much less. What I am
willing to pay for is a young lady with sufficient intelligence
and presence of mind to sustain her part well, and also one who
will have sufficient discretion not to ask too many questions."

Tuppence smiled a little. She felt that Whittington had scored.

"There's another thing. So far there has been no mention of Mr.
Beresford. Where does he come in?"

"Mr. Beresford?"

"My partner," said Tuppence with dignity. "You saw us together

"Ah, yes. But I'm afraid we shan't require his services."

"Then it's off!" Tuppence rose. "It's both or neither.
Sorry--but that's how it is. Good morning, Mr. Whittington."

"Wait a minute. Let us see if something can't be managed. Sit
down again, Miss----" He paused interrogatively.

Tuppence's conscience gave her a passing twinge as she remembered
the archdeacon. She seized hurriedly on the first name that came
into her head.

"Jane Finn," she said hastily; and then paused open-mouthed at
the effect of those two simple words.

All the geniality had faded out of Whittington's face. It was
purple with rage, and the veins stood out on the forehead. And
behind it all there lurked a sort of incredulous dismay. He
leaned forward and hissed savagely:

"So that's your little game, is it?"

Tuppence, though utterly taken aback, nevertheless kept her head.
She had not the faintest comprehension of his meaning, but she
was naturally quick-witted, and felt it imperative to "keep her
end up" as she phrased it.

Whittington went on:

"Been playing with me, have you, all the time, like a cat and
mouse? Knew all the time what I wanted you for, but kept up the
comedy. Is that it, eh?" He was cooling down. The red colour
was ebbing out of his face. He eyed her keenly. "Who's been
blabbing? Rita?"

Tuppence shook her head. She was doubtful as to how long she
could sustain this illusion, but she realized the importance of
not dragging an unknown Rita into it.

"No," she replied with perfect truth. "Rita knows nothing about

His eyes still bored into her like gimlets.

"How much do you know?" he shot out.

"Very little indeed," answered Tuppence, and was pleased to note
that Whittington's uneasiness was augmented instead of allayed.
To have boasted that she knew a lot might have raised doubts in
his mind.

"Anyway," snarled Whittington, "you knew enough to come in here
and plump out that name."

"It might be my own name," Tuppence pointed out.

"It's likely, isn't it, then there would be two girls with a name
like that?"

"Or I might just have hit upon it by chance," continued Tuppence,
intoxicated with the success of truthfulness.

Mr. Whittington brought his fist down upon the desk with a bang.

"Quit fooling! How much do you know? And how much do you want?"

The last five words took Tuppence's fancy mightily, especially
after a meagre breakfast and a supper of buns the night before.
Her present part was of the adventuress rather than the
adventurous order, but she did not deny its possibilities. She
sat up and smiled with the air of one who has the situation
thoroughly well in hand.

"My dear Mr. Whittington," she said, "let us by all means lay our
cards upon the table. And pray do not be so angry. You heard me
say yesterday that I proposed to live by my wits. It seems to me
that I have now proved I have some wits to live by! I admit I
have knowledge of a certain name, but perhaps my knowledge ends

"Yes--and perhaps it doesn't," snarled Whittington.

"You insist on misjudging me," said Tuppence, and sighed gently.

"As I said once before," said Whittington angrily, "quit fooling,
and come to the point. You can't play the innocent with me. You
know a great deal more than you're willing to admit."

Tuppence paused a moment to admire her own ingenuity, and then
said softly:

"I shouldn't like to contradict you, Mr. Whittington."

"So we come to the usual question--how much?"

Tuppence was in a dilemma. So far she had fooled Whittington
with complete success, but to mention a palpably impossible sum
might awaken his suspicions. An idea flashed across her brain.

"Suppose we say a little something down, and a fuller discussion
of the matter later?"

Whittington gave her an ugly glance.

"Blackmail, eh?"

Tuppence smiled sweetly.

"Oh no! Shall we say payment of services in advance?"

Whittington grunted.

"You see," explained Tuppence still sweetly, "I'm so very fond of

"You're about the limit, that's what you are," growled
Whittington, with a sort of unwilling admiration. "You took me
in all right. Thought you were quite a meek little kid with just
enough brains for my purpose."

"Life," moralized Tuppence, "is full of surprises."

"All the same," continued Whittington, "some one's been talking.
You say it isn't Rita. Was it----? Oh, come in."

The clerk followed his discreet knock into the room, and laid a
paper at his master's elbow.

"Telephone message just come for you, sir."

Whittington snatched it up and read it. A frown gathered on his

"That'll do, Brown. You can go."

The clerk withdrew, closing the door behind him. Whittington
turned to Tuppence.

"Come to-morrow at the same time. I'm busy now. Here's fifty to
go on with."

He rapidly sorted out some notes, and pushed them across the
table to Tuppence, then stood up, obviously impatient for her to

The girl counted the notes in a businesslike manner, secured them
in her handbag, and rose.

"Good morning, Mr. Whittington," she said politely. "At least, au
revoir, I should say."

"Exactly. Au revoir!" Whittington looked almost genial again, a
reversion that aroused in Tuppence a faint misgiving. "Au revoir,
my clever and charming young lady."

Tuppence sped lightly down the stairs. A wild elation possessed
her. A neighbouring clock showed the time to be five minutes to

"Let's give Tommy a surprise!" murmured Tuppence, and hailed a

The cab drew up outside the tube station. Tommy was just within
the entrance. His eyes opened to their fullest extent as he
hurried forward to assist Tuppence to alight. She smiled at him
affectionately, and remarked in a slightly affected voice:

"Pay the thing, will you, old bean? I've got nothing smaller
than a five-pound note!"



THE moment was not quite so triumphant as it ought to have been.
To begin with, the resources of Tommy's pockets were somewhat
limited. In the end the fare was managed, the lady recollecting a
plebeian twopence, and the driver, still holding the varied
assortment of coins in his hand, was prevailed upon to move on,
which he did after one last hoarse demand as to what the
gentleman thought he was giving him?

"I think you've given him too much, Tommy," said Tuppence
innocently. "I fancy he wants to give some of it back."

It was possibly this remark which induced the driver to move

"Well," said Mr. Beresford, at length able to relieve his
feelings, "what the--dickens, did you want to take a taxi for?"

"I was afraid I might be late and keep you waiting," said
Tuppence gently.

"Afraid--you--might--be--late! Oh, Lord, I give it up!" said Mr.

"And really and truly," continued Tuppence, opening her eyes very
wide, "I haven't got anything smaller than a five-pound note."

"You did that part of it very well, old bean, but all the same
the fellow wasn't taken in--not for a moment!"

"No," said Tuppence thoughtfully, "he didn't believe it. That's
the curious part about speaking the truth. No one does believe
it. I found that out this morning. Now let's go to lunch. How
about the Savoy?"

Tommy grinned.

"How about the Ritz?"

"On second thoughts, I prefer the Piccadilly. It's nearer. We
shan't have to take another taxi. Come along."

"Is this a new brand of humour? Or is your brain really
unhinged?" inquired Tommy.

"Your last supposition is the correct one. I have come into
money, and the shock has been too much for me! For that
particular form of mental trouble an eminent physician recommends
unlimited Hors d'oeuvre, Lobster a l'americane, Chicken Newberg,
and Peche Melba! Let's go and get them!"

"Tuppence, old girl, what has really come over you?"

"Oh, unbelieving one!" Tuppence wrenched open her bag. "Look
here, and here, and here!"

"Great Jehosaphat! My dear girl, don't wave Fishers aloft like

"They're not Fishers. They're five times better than Fishers,
and this one's ten times better!"

Tommy groaned.

"I must have been drinking unawares! Am I dreaming, Tuppence, or
do I really behold a large quantity of five-pound notes being
waved about in a dangerous fashion?"

"Even so, O King! Now, will you come and have lunch?"

"I'll come anywhere. But what have you been doing? Holding up a

"All in good time. What an awful place Piccadilly Circus is.
There's a huge bus bearing down on us. It would be too terrible
if they killed the five-pound notes!"

"Grill room?" inquired Tommy, as they reached the opposite
pavement in safety.

"The other's more expensive," demurred Tuppence.

"That's mere wicked wanton extravagance. Come on below."

"Are you sure I can get all the things I want there?"

"That extremely unwholesome menu you were outlining just now? Of
course you can--or as much as is good for you, anyway."

"And now tell me," said Tommy, unable to restrain his pent-up
curiosity any longer, as they sat in state surrounded by the many
hors d'oeuvre of Tuppence's dreams.

Miss Cowley told him.

"And the curious part of it is," she ended, "that I really did
invent the name of Jane Finn! I didn't want to give my own
because of poor father--in case I should get mixed up in anything

"Perhaps that's so," said Tommy slowly. "But you didn't invent


"No. I told it to you. Don't you remember, I said yesterday I'd
overheard two people talking about a female called Jane Finn?
That's what brought the name into your mind so pat."

"So you did. I remember now. How extraordinary----" Tuppence
tailed off into silence. Suddenly she aroused herself. "Tommy!"


"What were they like, the two men you passed?"

Tommy frowned in an effort at remembrance.

"One was a big fat sort of chap. Clean shaven, I think--and

"That's him," cried Tuppence, in an ungrammatical squeal. "That's
Whittington! What was the other man like?"

"I can't remember. I didn't notice him particularly. It was
really the outlandish name that caught my attention."

"And people say that coincidences don't happen!" Tuppence tackled
her Peche Melba happily.

But Tommy had become serious.

"Look here, Tuppence, old girl, what is this going to lead to?"

"More money," replied his companion.

"I know that. You've only got one idea in your head. What I mean
is, what about the next step? How are you going to keep the game

"Oh!" Tuppence laid down her spoon. "You're right, Tommy, it is
a bit of a poser."

"After all, you know, you can't bluff him forever. You're sure to
slip up sooner or later. And, anyway, I'm not at all sure that
it isn't actionable--blackmail, you know."

"Nonsense. Blackmail is saying you'll tell unless you are given
money. Now, there's nothing I could tell, because I don't really
know anything."

"Hm," said Tommy doubtfully. "Well, anyway, what ARE we going to
do? Whittington was in a hurry to get rid of you this morning,
but next time he'll want to know something more before he parts
with his money. He'll want to know how much YOU know, and where
you got your information from, and a lot of other things that you
can't cope with. What are you going to do about it?"

Tuppence frowned severely.

"We must think. Order some Turkish coffee, Tommy. Stimulating
to the brain. Oh, dear, what a lot I have eaten!"

"You have made rather a hog of yourself! So have I for that
matter, but I flatter myself that my choice of dishes was more
judicious than yours. Two coffees." (This was to the waiter.)
"One Turkish, one French."

Tuppence sipped her coffee with a deeply reflective air, and
snubbed Tommy when he spoke to her.

"Be quiet. I'm thinking."

"Shades of Pelmanism!" said Tommy, and relapsed into silence.

"There!" said Tuppence at last. "I've got a plan. Obviously what
we've got to do is to find out more about it all."

Tommy applauded.

"Don't jeer. We can only find out through Whittington. We must
discover where he lives, what he does--sleuth him, in fact! Now I
can't do it, because he knows me, but he only saw you for a
minute or two in Lyons'. He's not likely to recognize you. After
all, one young man is much like another."

"I repudiate that remark utterly. I'm sure my pleasing features
and distinguished appearance would single me out from any crowd."

"My plan is this," Tuppence went on calmly, "I'll go alone
to-morrow. I'll put him off again like I did to-day. It doesn't
matter if I don't get any more money at once. Fifty pounds ought
to last us a few days."

"Or even longer!"

"You'll hang about outside. When I come out I shan't speak to
you in case he's watching. But I'll take up my stand somewhere
near, and when he comes out of the building I'll drop a
handkerchief or something, and off you go!"

"Off I go where?"

"Follow him, of course, silly! What do you think of the idea?"

"Sort of thing one reads about in books. I somehow feel that in
real life one will feel a bit of an ass standing in the street
for hours with nothing to do. People will wonder what I'm up

"Not in the city. Every one's in such a hurry. Probably no one
will even notice you at all."

"That's the second time you've made that sort of remark. Never
mind, I forgive you. Anyway, it will be rather a lark. What are
you doing this afternoon?"

"Well," said Tuppence meditatively. "I HAD thought of hats! Or
perhaps silk stockings! Or perhaps----"

"Hold hard," admonished Tommy. "There's a limit to fifty pounds!
But let's do dinner and a show to-night at all events."


The day passed pleasantly. The evening even more so. Two of the
five-pound notes were now irretrievably dead.

They met by arrangement the following morning and proceeded
citywards. Tommy remained on the opposite side of the road while
Tuppence plunged into the building.

Tommy strolled slowly down to the end of the street, then back
again. Just as he came abreast of the building, Tuppence darted
across the road.


"Yes. What's up?"

"The place is shut. I can't make anyone hear."

"That's odd."

"Isn't it? Come up with me, and let's try again."

Tommy followed her. As they passed the third floor landing a
young clerk came out of an office. He hesitated a moment, then
addressed himself to Tuppence.

"Were you wanting the Esthonia Glassware?"

"Yes, please."

"It's closed down. Since yesterday afternoon. Company being
wound up, they say. Not that I've ever heard of it myself. But
anyway the office is to let."

"Th--thank you," faltered Tuppence. "I suppose you don't know
Mr. Whittington's address?"

"Afraid I don't. They left rather suddenly."

"Thank you very much," said Tommy. "Come on, Tuppence."

They descended to the street again where they gazed at one
another blankly.

"That's torn it," said Tommy at length.

"And I never suspected it," wailed Tuppence.

"Cheer up, old thing, it can't be helped."

"Can't it, though!" Tuppence's little chin shot out defiantly.
"Do you think this is the end? If so, you're wrong. It's just
the beginning!"

"The beginning of what?"

"Of our adventure! Tommy, don't you see, if they are scared
enough to run away like this, it shows that there must be a lot
in this Jane Finn business! Well, we'll get to the bottom of it.
We'll run them down! We'll be sleuths in earnest!"

"Yes, but there's no one left to sleuth."

"No, that's why we'll have to start all over again. Lend me that
bit of pencil. Thanks. Wait a minute--don't interrupt. There!"
Tuppence handed back the pencil, and surveyed the piece of paper
on which she had written with a satisfied eye:

"What's that?"


"You're not going to put that thing in after all?"

"No, it's a different one." She handed him the slip of paper.

Tommy read the words on it aloud:

"WANTED, any information respecting Jane Finn. Apply Y.A."



THE next day passed slowly. It was necessary to curtail
expenditure. Carefully husbanded, forty pounds will last a long
time. Luckily the weather was fine, and "walking is cheap,"
dictated Tuppence. An outlying picture house provided them with
recreation for the evening.

The day of disillusionment had been a Wednesday. On Thursday the
advertisement had duly appeared. On Friday letters might be
expected to arrive at Tommy's rooms.

He had been bound by an honourable promise not to open any such
letters if they did arrive, but to repair to the National
Gallery, where his colleague would meet him at ten o'clock.

Tuppence was first at the rendezvous. She ensconced herself on a
red velvet seat, and gazed at the Turners with unseeing eyes
until she saw the familiar figure enter the room.


"Well," returned Mr. Beresford provokingly. "Which is your
favourite picture?"

"Don't be a wretch. Aren't there ANY answers?"

Tommy shook his head with a deep and somewhat overacted

"I didn't want to disappoint you, old thing, by telling you right
off. It's too bad. Good money wasted." He sighed. "Still,
there it is. The advertisement has appeared, and--there are only
two answers!"

"Tommy, you devil!" almost screamed Tuppence. "Give them to me.
How could you be so mean!"

"Your language, Tuppence, your language! They're very particular
at the National Gallery. Government show, you know. And do
remember, as I have pointed out to you before, that as a
clergyman's daughter----"

"I ought to be on the stage!" finished Tuppence with a snap.

"That is not what I intended to say. But if you are sure that
you have enjoyed to the full the reaction of joy after despair
with which I have kindly provided you free of charge, let us get
down to our mail, as the saying goes."

Tuppence snatched the two precious envelopes from him
unceremoniously, and scrutinized them carefully.

"Thick paper, this one. It looks rich. We'll keep it to the
last and open the other first."

"Right you are. One, two, three, go!"

Tuppence's little thumb ripped open the envelope, and she
extracted the contents.


"Referring to your advertisement in this morning's paper, I may
be able to be of some use to you. Perhaps you could call and see
me at the above address at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning.
"Yours truly,

"27 Carshalton Gardens," said Tuppence, referring to the address.
"That's Gloucester Road way. Plenty of time to get there if we

"The following," said Tommy, "is the plan of campaign. It is my
turn to assume the offensive. Ushered into the presence of Mr.
Carter, he and I wish each other good morning as is customary. He
then says: 'Please take a seat, Mr.--er?' To which I reply
promptly and significantly: 'Edward Whittington!' whereupon Mr.
Carter turns purple in the face and gasps out: 'How much?'
Pocketing the usual fee of fifty pounds, I rejoin you in the road
outside, and we proceed to the next address and repeat the

"Don't be absurd, Tommy. Now for the other letter. Oh, this is
from the Ritz!"

"A hundred pounds instead of fifty!"

"I'll read it:


"Re your advertisement, I should be glad if you would call round
somewhere about lunch-time.
"Yours truly,

"Ha!" said Tommy. "Do I smell a Boche? Or only an American
millionaire of unfortunate ancestry? At all events we'll call at
lunch-time. It's a good time--frequently leads to free food for

Tuppence nodded assent.

"Now for Carter. We'll have to hurry."

Carshalton Terrace proved to be an unimpeachable row of what
Tuppence called "ladylike looking houses." They rang the bell at
No. 27, and a neat maid answered the door. She looked so
respectable that Tuppence's heart sank. Upon Tommy's request for
Mr. Carter, she showed them into a small study on the ground
floor where she left them. Hardly a minute elapsed, however,
before the door opened, and a tall man with a lean hawklike face
and a tired manner entered the room.

"Mr. Y. A.?" he said, and smiled. His smile was distinctly
attractive. "Do sit down, both of you."

They obeyed. He himself took a chair opposite to Tuppence and
smiled at her encouragingly. There was something in the quality
of his smile that made the girl's usual readiness desert her.

As he did not seem inclined to open the conversation, Tuppence
was forced to begin.

"We wanted to know--that is, would you be so kind as to tell us
anything you know about Jane Finn?"

"Jane Finn? Ah!" Mr. Carter appeared to reflect. "Well, the
question is, what do you know about her?"

Tuppence drew herself up.

"I don't see that that's got anything to do with it."

"No? But it has, you know, really it has." He smiled again in
his tired way, and continued reflectively. "So that brings us
down to it again. What do you know about Jane Finn?

"Come now," he continued, as Tuppence remained silent. "You must
know SOMETHING to have advertised as you did?" He leaned forward
a little, his weary voice held a hint of persuasiveness. "Suppose
you tell me . . ."

There was something very magnetic about Mr. Carter's personality.
Tuppence seemed to shake herself free of it with an effort, as
she said:

"We couldn't do that, could we, Tommy?"

But to her surprise, her companion did not back her up. His eyes
were fixed on Mr. Carter, and his tone when he spoke held an
unusual note of deference.

"I dare say the little we know won't be any good to you, sir. But
such as it is, you're welcome to it."

"Tommy!" cried out Tuppence in surprise.

Mr. Carter slewed round in his chair. His eyes asked a question.

Tommy nodded.

"Yes, sir, I recognized you at once. Saw you in France when I
was with the Intelligence. As soon as you came into the room, I

Mr. Carter held up his hand.

"No names, please. I'm known as Mr. Carter here. It's my
cousin's house, by the way. She's willing to lend it to me
sometimes when it's a case of working on strictly unofficial
lines. Well, now"--he looked from one to the other--"who's going
to tell me the story?"

"Fire ahead, Tuppence," directed Tommy. "It's your yarn."

"Yes, little lady, out with it."

And obediently Tuppence did out with it, telling the whole story
from the forming of the Young Adventurers, Ltd., downwards.

Mr. Carter listened in silence with a resumption of his tired
manner. Now and then he passed his hand across his lips as though
to hide a smile. When she had finished he nodded gravely.

"Not much. But suggestive. Quite suggestive. If you'll excuse
my saying so, you're a curious young couple. I don't know--you
might succeed where others have failed . . . I believe in luck,
you know--always have...."

He paused a moment, and then went on.

"Well, how about it? You're out for adventure. How would you
like to work for me? All quite unofficial, you know. Expenses
paid, and a moderate screw?"

Tuppence gazed at him, her lips parted, her eyes growing wider
and wider.

"What should we have to do?" she breathed.

Mr. Carter smiled.

"Just go on with what you're doing now. FIND JANE FINN."

"Yes, but--who IS Jane Finn?"

Mr. Carter nodded gravely.

"Yes, you're entitled to know that, I think."

He leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs, brought the tips
of his fingers together, and began in a low monotone:

"Secret diplomacy (which, by the way, is nearly always bad
policy!) does not concern you. It will be sufficient to say that
in the early days of 1915 a certain document came into being. It
was the draft of a secret agreement--treaty--call it what you
like. It was drawn up ready for signature by the various
representatives, and drawn up in America--at that time a neutral
country. It was dispatched to England by a special messenger
selected for that purpose, a young fellow called Danvers. It was
hoped that the whole affair had been kept so secret that nothing
would have leaked out. That kind of hope is usually
disappointed. Somebody always talks!

"Danvers sailed for England on the Lusitania. He carried the
precious papers in an oilskin packet which he wore next his skin.
It was on that particular voyage that the Lusitania was torpedoed
and sunk. Danvers was among the list of those missing.
Eventually his body was washed ashore, and identified beyond any
possible doubt. But the oilskin packet was missing!

"The question was, had it been taken from him, or had he himself
passed it on into another's keeping? There were a few incidents
that strengthened the possibility of the latter theory. After the
torpedo struck the ship, in the few moments during the launching
of the boats, Danvers was seen speaking to a young American girl.
No one actually saw him pass anything to her, but he might have
done so. It seems to me quite likely that he entrusted the papers
to this girl, believing that she, as a woman, had a greater
chance of bringing them safely to shore.

"But if so, where was the girl, and what had she done with the
papers? By later advice from America it seemed likely that
Danvers had been closely shadowed on the way over. Was this girl
in league with his enemies? Or had she, in her turn, been
shadowed and either tricked or forced into handing over the
precious packet?

"We set to work to trace her out. It proved unexpectedly
difficult. Her name was Jane Finn, and it duly appeared among the
list of the survivors, but the girl herself seemed to have
vanished completely. Inquiries into her antecedents did little to
help us. She was an orphan, and had been what we should call
over here a pupil teacher in a small school out West. Her
passport had been made out for Paris, where she was going to join
the staff of a hospital. She had offered her services
voluntarily, and after some correspondence they had been
accepted. Having seen her name in the list of the saved from the
Lusitania, the staff of the hospital were naturally very
surprised at her not arriving to take up her billet, and at not
hearing from her in any way.

"Well, every effort was made to trace the young lady--but all in
vain. We tracked her across Ireland, but nothing could be heard
of her after she set foot in England. No use was made of the
draft treaty--as might very easily have been done--and we
therefore came to the conclusion that Danvers had, after all,
destroyed it. The war entered on another phase, the diplomatic
aspect changed accordingly, and the treaty was never redrafted.
Rumours as to its existence were emphatically denied. The
disappearance of Jane Finn was forgotten and the whole affair was
lost in oblivion."

Mr. Carter paused, and Tuppence broke in impatiently:

"But why has it all cropped up again? The war's over."

A hint of alertness came into Mr. Carter's manner.

"Because it seems that the papers were not destroyed after all,
and that they might be resurrected to-day with a new and deadly

Tuppence stared. Mr. Carter nodded.

"Yes, five years ago, that draft treaty was a weapon in our
hands; to-day it is a weapon against us. It was a gigantic
blunder. If its terms were made public, it would mean
disaster.... It might possibly bring about another war--not with
Germany this time! That is an extreme possibility, and I do not
believe in its likelihood myself, but that document undoubtedly
implicates a number of our statesmen whom we cannot afford to
have discredited in any way at the present moment. As a party
cry for Labour it would be irresistible, and a Labour Government
at this juncture would, in my opinion, be a grave disability for
British trade, but that is a mere nothing to the REAL danger."

He paused, and then said quietly:

"You may perhaps have heard or read that there is Bolshevist
influence at work behind the present Labour unrest?"

Tuppence nodded.

"That is the truth. Bolshevist gold is pouring into this country
for the specific purpose of procuring a Revolution. And there is
a certain man, a man whose real name is unknown to us, who is
working in the dark for his own ends. The Bolshevists are behind
the Labour unrest--but this man is BEHIND THE BOLSHEVISTS. Who
is he? We do not know. He is always spoken of by the unassuming
title of 'Mr. Brown.' But one thing is certain, he is the master
criminal of this age. He controls a marvellous organization.
Most of the Peace propaganda during the war was originated and
financed by him. His spies are everywhere."

"A naturalized German?" asked Tommy.

"On the contrary, I have every reason to believe he is an
Englishman. He was pro-German, as he would have been pro-Boer.
What he seeks to attain we do not know--probably supreme power
for himself, of a kind unique in history. We have no clue as to
his real personality. It is reported that even his own followers
are ignorant of it. Where we have come across his tracks, he has
always played a secondary part. Somebody else assumes the chief
role. But afterwards we always find that there has been some
nonentity, a servant or a clerk, who has remained in the
background unnoticed, and that the elusive Mr. Brown has escaped
us once more."

"Oh!" Tuppence jumped. "I wonder----"


"I remember in Mr. Whittington's office. The clerk--he called
him Brown. You don't think----"

Carter nodded thoughtfully.

"Very likely. A curious point is that the name is usually
mentioned. An idiosyncrasy of genius. Can you describe him at

"I really didn't notice. He was quite ordinary--just like anyone

Mr. Carter sighed in his tired manner.

"That is the invariable description of Mr. Brown! Brought a
telephone message to the man Whittington, did he? Notice a
telephone in the outer office?"

Tuppence thought.

"No, I don't think I did."

"Exactly. That 'message' was Mr. Brown's way of giving an order
to his subordinate. He overheard the whole conversation of
course. Was it after that that Whittington handed you over the
money, and told you to come the following day?"

Tuppence nodded.

"Yes, undoubtedly the hand of Mr. Brown!" Mr. Carter paused.
"Well, there it is, you see what you are pitting yourselves
against? Possibly the finest criminal brain of the age. I don't
quite like it, you know. You're such young things, both of you.
I shouldn't like anything to happen to you."

"It won't," Tuppence assured him positively.

"I'll look after her, sir," said Tommy.

"And I'll look after YOU," retorted Tuppence, resenting the manly

"Well, then, look after each other," said Mr. Carter, smiling.
"Now let's get back to business. There's something mysterious
about this draft treaty that we haven't fathomed yet. We've been
threatened with it--in plain and unmistakable terms. The
Revolutionary element as good as declare that it's in their
hands, and that they intend to produce it at a given moment. On
the other hand, they are clearly at fault about many of its
provisions. The Government consider it as mere bluff on their
part, and, rightly or wrongly, have stuck to the policy of
absolute denial. I'm not so sure. There have been hints,
indiscreet allusions, that seem to indicate that the menace is a
real one. The position is much as though they had got hold of an
incriminating document, but couldn't read it because it was in
cipher--but we know that the draft treaty wasn't in
cipher--couldn't be in the nature of things--so that won't wash.
But there's SOMETHING. Of course, Jane Finn may be dead for all
we know--but I don't think so. The curious thing is that THEY'RE


"Yes. One or two little things have cropped up. And your story,
little lady, confirms my idea. They know we're looking for Jane
Finn. Well, they'll produce a Jane Finn of their own--say at a
pensionnat in Paris." Tuppence gasped, and Mr. Carter smiled.
"No one knows in the least what she looks like, so that's all
right. She's primed with a trumped-up tale, and her real business
is to get as much information as possible out of us. See the

"Then you think"--Tuppence paused to grasp the supposition
fully--"that it WAS as Jane Finn that they wanted me to go to

Mr. Carter smiled more wearily than ever.

"I believe in coincidences, you know," he said.



"WELL," said Tuppence, recovering herself, "it really seems as
though it were meant to be."

Carter nodded.

"I know what you mean. I'm superstitious myself. Luck, and all
that sort of thing. Fate seems to have chosen you out to be
mixed up in this."

Tommy indulged in a chuckle.

"My word! I don't wonder Whittington got the wind up when
Tuppence plumped out that name! I should have myself. But look
here, sir, we're taking up an awful lot of your time. Have you
any tips to give us before we clear out?"

"I think not. My experts, working in stereotyped ways, have
failed. You will bring imagination and an open mind to the task.
Don't be discouraged if that too does not succeed. For one thing
there is a likelihood of the pace being forced."

Tuppence frowned uncomprehendingly.

"When you had that interview with Whittington, they had time
before them. I have information that the big coup was planned for
early in the new year. But the Government is contemplating
legislative action which will deal effectually with the strike
menace. They'll get wind of it soon, if they haven't already,
and it's possible that that may bring things to a head. I hope it
will myself. The less time they have to mature their plans the
better. I'm just warning you that you haven't much time before
you, and that you needn't be cast down if you fail. It's not an
easy proposition anyway. That's all."

Tuppence rose.

"I think we ought to be businesslike. What exactly can we count
upon you for, Mr. Carter?" Mr. Carter's lips twitched slightly,
but he replied succinctly: "Funds within reason, detailed
information on any point, and NO OFFICIAL RECOGNITION. I mean
that if you get yourselves into trouble with the police, I can't
officially help you out of it. You're on your own."

Tuppence nodded sagely.

"I quite understand that. I'll write out a list of the things I
want to know when I've had time to think. Now--about money----"

"Yes, Miss Tuppence. Do you want to say how much?"

"Not exactly. We've got plenty to go with for the present, but
when we want more----"

"It will be waiting for you."

"Yes, but--I'm sure I don't want to be rude about the Government
if you've got anything to do with it, but you know one really has
the devil of a time getting anything out of it! And if we have to
fill up a blue form and send it in, and then, after three months,
they send us a green one, and so on--well, that won't be much
use, will it?"

Mr. Carter laughed outright.

"Don't worry, Miss Tuppence. You will send a personal demand to
me here, and the money, in notes, shall be sent by return of
post. As to salary, shall we say at the rate of three hundred a
year? And an equal sum for Mr. Beresford, of course."

Tuppence beamed upon him.

"How lovely. You are kind. I do love money! I'll keep
beautiful accounts of our expenses all debit and credit, and the
balance on the right side, and red line drawn sideways with the
totals the same at the bottom. I really know how to do it when I

"I'm sure you do. Well, good-bye, and good luck to you both."

He shook hands with them, and in another minute they were
descending the steps of 27 Carshalton Terrace with their heads in
a whirl.

"Tommy! Tell me at once, who is 'Mr. Carter'?"

Tommy murmured a name in her ear.

"Oh!" said Tuppence, impressed.

"And I can tell you, old bean, he's IT!"

"Oh!" said Tuppence again. Then she added reflectively,

"I like him, don't you? He looks so awfully tired and bored, and
yet you feel that underneath he's just like steel, all keen and
flashing. Oh!" She gave a skip. "Pinch me, Tommy, do pinch me.
I can't believe it's real!"

Mr. Beresford obliged.

"Ow! That's enough! Yes, we're not dreaming. We've got a job!"

"And what a job! The joint venture has really begun."

"It's more respectable than I thought it would be," said Tuppence

"Luckily I haven't got your craving for crime! What time is it?
Let's have lunch--oh!"

The same thought sprang to the minds of each. Tommy voiced it

"Julius P. Hersheimmer!"

"We never told Mr. Carter about hearing from him."

"Well, there wasn't much to tell--not till we've seen him. Come
on, we'd better take a taxi."

"Now who's being extravagant?"

"All expenses paid, remember. Hop in."

"At any rate, we shall make a better effect arriving this way,"
said Tuppence, leaning back luxuriously. "I'm sure blackmailers
never arrive in buses!"

"We've ceased being blackmailers," Tommy pointed out.

"I'm not sure I have," said Tuppence darkly.

On inquiring for Mr. Hersheimmer, they were at once taken up to
his suite. An impatient voice cried "Come in" in answer to the
page-boy's knock, and the lad stood aside to let them pass in.

Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer was a great deal younger than either
Tommy or Tuppence had pictured him. The girl put him down as
thirty-five. He was of middle height, and squarely built to match
his jaw. His face was pugnacious but pleasant. No one could have
mistaken him for anything but an American, though he spoke with
very little accent.

"Get my note? Sit down and tell me right away all you know about
my cousin."

"Your cousin?"

"Sure thing. Jane Finn."

"Is she your cousin?"

"My father and her mother were brother and sister," explained Mr.
Hersheimmer meticulously.

"Oh!" cried Tuppence. "Then you know where she is?"

"No!" Mr. Hersheimmer brought down his fist with a bang on the
table. "I'm darned if I do! Don't you?"

"We advertised to receive information, not to give it," said
Tuppence severely.

"I guess I know that. I can read. But I thought maybe it was
her back history you were after, and that you'd know where she
was now?"

"Well, we wouldn't mind hearing her back history," said Tuppence

But Mr. Hersheimmer seemed to grow suddenly suspicious.

"See here," he declared. "This isn't Sicily! No demanding
ransom or threatening to crop her ears if I refuse. These are the
British Isles, so quit the funny business, or I'll just sing out
for that beautiful big British policeman I see out there in

Tommy hastened to explain.

"We haven't kidnapped your cousin. On the contrary, we're trying
to find her. We're employed to do so."

Mr. Hersheimmer leant back in his chair.

"Put me wise," he said succinctly.

Tommy fell in with this demand in so far as he gave him a guarded
version of the disappearance of Jane Finn, and of the possibility
of her having been mixed up unawares in "some political show." He
alluded to Tuppence and himself as "private inquiry agents"
commissioned to find her, and added that they would therefore be
glad of any details Mr. Hersheimmer could give them.

That gentleman nodded approval.

"I guess that's all right. I was just a mite hasty. But London
gets my goat! I only know little old New York. Just trot out
your questions and I'll answer."

For the moment this paralysed the Young Adventurers, but
Tuppence, recovering herself, plunged boldly into the breach with
a reminiscence culled from detective fiction.

"When did you last see the dece--your cousin, I mean?"

"Never seen her," responded Mr. Hersheimmer.

"What?" demanded Tommy, astonished.

Hersheimmer turned to him.

"No, sir. As I said before, my father and her mother were
brother and sister, just as you might be"--Tommy did not correct
this view of their relationship--"but they didn't always get on
together. And when my aunt made up her mind to marry Amos Finn,
who was a poor school teacher out West, my father was just mad!
Said if he made his pile, as he seemed in a fair way to do, she'd
never see a cent of it. Well, the upshot was that Aunt Jane went
out West and we never heard from her again.

"The old man DID pile it up. He went into oil, and he went into
steel, and he played a bit with railroads, and I can tell you he
made Wall Street sit up!" He paused. "Then he died--last
fall--and I got the dollars. Well, would you believe it, my
conscience got busy! Kept knocking me up and saying: What
abour{sic} your Aunt Jane, way out West? It worried me some. You
see, I figured it out that Amos Finn would never make good. He
wasn't the sort. End of it was, I hired a man to hunt her down.
Result, she was dead, and Amos Finn was dead, but they'd left a
daughter--Jane--who'd been torpedoed in the Lusitania on her way
to Paris. She was saved all right, but they didn't seem able to
hear of her over this side. I guessed they weren't hustling any,
so I thought I'd come along over, and speed things up. I phoned
Scotland Yard and the Admiralty first thing. The Admiralty
rather choked me off, but Scotland Yard were very civil--said
they would make inquiries, even sent a man round this morning to
get her photograph. I'm off to Paris to-morrow, just to see what
the Prefecture is doing. I guess if I go to and fro hustling
them, they ought to get busy!"

The energy of Mr. Hersheimmer was tremendous. They bowed before

"But say now," he ended, "you're not after her for anything?
Contempt of court, or something British? A proud-spirited young
American girl might find your rules and regulations in war time
rather irksome, and get up against it. If that's the case, and
there's such a thing as graft in this country, I'll buy her off."

Tuppence reassured him.

"That's good. Then we can work together. What about some lunch?
Shall we have it up here, or go down to the restaurant?"

Tuppence expressed a preference for the latter, and Julius bowed
to her decision.

Oysters had just given place to Sole Colbert when a card was
brought to Hersheimmer.

"Inspector Japp, C.I.D. Scotland Yard again. Another man this
time. What does he expect I can tell him that I didn't tell the
first chap? I hope they haven't lost that photograph. That
Western photographer's place was burned down and all his
negatives destroyed--this is the only copy in existence. I got it
from the principal of the college there."

An unformulated dread swept over Tuppence.

"You--you don't know the name of the man who came this morning?"

"Yes, I do. No, I don't. Half a second. It was on his card.
Oh, I know! Inspector Brown. Quiet, unassuming sort of chap."



A veil might with profit be drawn over the events of the next
half-hour. Suffice it to say that no such person as "Inspector
Brown" was known to Scotland Yard. The photograph of Jane Finn,
which would have been of the utmost value to the police in
tracing her, was lost beyond recovery. Once again "Mr. Brown" had

The immediate result of this set back was to effect a
rapprochement between Julius Hersheimmer and the Young
Adventurers. All barriers went down with a crash, and Tommy and
Tuppence felt they had known the young American all their lives.
They abandoned the discreet reticence of "private inquiry
agents," and revealed to him the whole history of the joint
venture, whereat the young man declared himself "tickled to

He turned to Tuppence at the close of the narration.

"I've always had a kind of idea that English girls were just a
mite moss-grown. Old-fashioned and sweet, you know, but scared to
move round without a footman or a maiden aunt. I guess I'm a bit


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