The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie

Part 3 out of 6

and mumbled out something about a girl. I trotted out the stern
guardian business, and a nervous breakdown, and finally explained
that I had fancied I recognized her among the patients at the
home, hence my nocturnal adventures. I guess it was just the
kind of story he was expecting. 'Quite a romance,' he said
genially, when I'd finished. 'Now, doc,' I went on, 'will you be
frank with me? Have you here now, or have you had here at any
time, a young girl called Jane Finn?' He repeated the name
thoughtfully. 'Jane Finn?' he said. 'No.'

"I was chagrined, and I guess I showed it. 'You are sure?'
'Quite sure, Mr. Hersheimmer. It is an uncommon name, and I
should not have been likely to forget it.'

"Well, that was flat. It laid me out for a space. I'd kind of
hoped my search was at an end. 'That's that,' I said at last.
'Now, there's another matter. When I was hugging that darned
branch I thought I recognized an old friend of mine talking to
one of your nurses.' I purposely didn't mention any name
because, of course, Whittington might be calling himself
something quite different down here, but the doctor answered at
once. 'Mr. Whittington, perhaps?' 'That's the fellow,' I
replied. 'What's he doing down here? Don't tell me HIS nerves
are out of order?'

"Dr. Hall laughed. 'No. He came down to see one of my nurses,
Nurse Edith, who is a niece of his.' 'Why, fancy that!' I
exclaimed. 'Is he still here?' 'No, he went back to town almost
immediately.' 'What a pity!' I ejaculated. 'But perhaps I could
speak to his niece--Nurse Edith, did you say her name was?'

"But the doctor shook his head. 'I'm afraid that, too, is
impossible. Nurse Edith left with a patient to-night also.' 'I
seem to be real unlucky,' I remarked. 'Have you Mr.
Whittington's address in town? I guess I'd like to look him up
when I get back.' 'I don't know his address. I can write to
Nurse Edith for it if you like.' I thanked him. 'Don't say who
it is wants it. I'd like to give him a little surprise.'

"That was about all I could do for the moment. Of course, if the
girl was really Whittington's niece, she might be too cute to
fall into the trap, but it was worth trying. Next thing I did
was to write out a wire to Beresford saying where I was, and that
I was laid up with a sprained foot, and telling him to come down
if he wasn't busy. I had to be guarded in what I said. However,
I didn't hear from him, and my foot soon got all right. It was
only ricked, not really sprained, so to-day I said good-bye to
the little doctor chap, asked him to send me word if he heard
from Nurse Edith, and came right away back to town. Say, Miss
Tuppence, you're looking mighty pale!"

"It's Tommy," said Tuppence. "What can have happened to him?"

"Buck up, I guess he's all right really. Why shouldn't he be?
See here, it was a foreign-looking guy he went off after. Maybe
they've gone abroad--to Poland, or something like that?"

Tuppence shook her head.

"He couldn't without passports and things. Besides I've seen
that man, Boris Something, since. He dined with Mrs. Vandemeyer
last night."

"Mrs. Who?"

"I forgot. Of course you don't know all that."

"I'm listening," said Julius, and gave vent to his favourite
expression. "Put me wise."

Tuppence thereupon related the events of the last two days.
Julius's astonishment and admiration were unbounded.

"Bully for you! Fancy you a menial. It just tickles me to
death!" Then he added seriously: "But say now, I don't like it,
Miss Tuppence, I sure don't. You're just as plucky as they make
'em, but I wish you'd keep right out of this. These crooks we're
up against would as soon croak a girl as a man any day."

"Do you think I'm afraid?" said Tuppence indignantly, valiantly
repressing memories of the steely glitter in Mrs. Vandemeyer's

"I said before you were darned plucky. But that doesn't alter

"Oh, bother ME!" said Tuppence impatiently. "Let's think about
what can have happened to Tommy. I've written to Mr. Carter
about it," she added, and told him the gist of her letter.

Julius nodded gravely.

"I guess that's good as far as it goes. But it's for us to get
busy and do something."

"What can we do?" asked Tuppence, her spirits rising.

"I guess we'd better get on the track of Boris. You say he's
been to your place. Is he likely to come again?"

"He might. I really don't know."

"I see. Well, I guess I'd better buy a car, a slap-up one, dress
as a chauffeur and hang about outside. Then if Boris comes, you
could make some kind of signal, and I'd trail him. How's that?"

"Splendid, but he mightn't come for weeks."

"We'll have to chance that. I'm glad you like the plan." He

"Where are you going?"

"To buy the car, of course," replied Julius, surprised. "What
make do you like? I guess you'll do some riding in it before
we've finished."

"Oh," said Tuppence faintly, "I LIKE Rolls-Royces, but----"

"Sure," agreed Julius. "What you say goes. I'll get one."

"But you can't at once," cried Tuppence. "People wait ages

"Little Julius doesn't," affirmed Mr. Hersheimmer. "Don't you
worry any. I'll be round in the car in half an hour."

Tuppence got up.

"You're awfully good, Julius. But I can't help feeling that it's
rather a forlorn hope. I'm really pinning my faith to Mr.

"Then I shouldn't."


"Just an idea of mine."

"Oh; but he must do something. There's no one else. By the way,
I forgot to tell you of a queer thing that happened this

And she narrated her encounter with Sir James Peel Edgerton.
Julius was interested.

"What did the guy mean, do you think?" he asked.

"I don't quite know," said Tuppence meditatively. "But I think
that, in an ambiguous, legal, without prejudishish lawyer's way,
he was trying to warn me."

"Why should he?"

"I don't know," confessed Tuppence. "But he looked kind, and
simply awfully clever. I wouldn't mind going to him and telling
him everything."

Somewhat to her surprise, Julius negatived the idea sharply.

"See here," he said, "we don't want any lawyers mixed up in this.
That guy couldn't help us any."

"Well, I believe he could," reiterated Tuppence obstinately.

"Don't you think it. So long. I'll be back in half an hour."

Thirty-five minutes had elapsed when Julius returned. He took
Tuppence by the arm, and walked her to the window.

"There she is."

"Oh!" said Tuppence with a note of reverence in her voice, as she
gazed down at the enormous car.

"She's some pace-maker, I can tell you," said Julius

"How did you get it?" gasped Tuppence.

"She was just being sent home to some bigwig."


"I went round to his house," said Julius. "I said that I
reckoned a car like that was worth every penny of twenty thousand
dollars. Then I told him that it was worth just about fifty
thousand dollars to me if he'd get out."

"Well?" said Tuppence, intoxicated.

"Well," returned Julius, "he got out, that's all."



FRIDAY and Saturday passed uneventfully. Tuppence had received a
brief answer to her appeal from Mr. Carter. In it he pointed out
that the Young Adventurers had undertaken the work at their own
risk, and had been fully warned of the dangers. If anything had
happened to Tommy he regretted it deeply, but he could do

This was cold comfort. Somehow, without Tommy, all the savour
went out of the adventure, and, for the first time, Tuppence felt
doubtful of success. While they had been together she had never
questioned it for a minute. Although she was accustomed to take
the lead, and to pride herself on her quick-wittedness, in
reality she had relied upon Tommy more than she realized at the
time. There was something so eminently sober and clear-headed
about him, his common sense and soundness of vision were so
unvarying, that without him Tuppence felt much like a rudderless
ship. It was curious that Julius, who was undoubtedly much
cleverer than Tommy, did not give her the same feeling of
support. She had accused Tommy of being a pessimist, and it is
certain that he always saw the disadvantages and difficulties
which she herself was optimistically given to overlooking, but
nevertheless she had really relied a good deal on his judgment.
He might be slow, but he was very sure.

It seemed to the girl that, for the first time, she realized the
sinister character of the mission they had undertaken so
lightheartedly. It had begun like a page of romance. Now, shorn
of its glamour, it seemed to be turning to grim reality.
Tommy--that was all that mattered. Many times in the day Tuppence
blinked the tears out of her eyes resolutely. "Little fool," she
would apostrophize herself, "don't snivel. Of course you're fond
of him. You've known him all your life. But there's no need to
be sentimental about it."

In the meantime, nothing more was seen of Boris. He did not come
to the flat, and Julius and the car waited in vain. Tuppence
gave herself over to new meditations. Whilst admitting the truth
of Julius's objections, she had nevertheless not entirely
relinquished the idea of appealing to Sir James Peel Edgerton.
Indeed, she had gone so far as to look up his address in the Red
Book. Had he meant to warn her that day? If so, why? Surely she
was at least entitled to demand an explanation. He had looked at
her so kindly. Perhaps he might tell them something concerning
Mrs. Vandemeyer which might lead to a clue to Tommy's

Anyway, Tuppence decided, with her usual shake of the shoulders,
it was worth trying, and try it she would. Sunday was her
afternoon out. She would meet Julius, persuade him to her point
of view, and they would beard the lion in his den.

When the day arrived Julius needed a considerable amount of
persuading, but Tuppence held firm. "It can do no harm," was
what she always came back to. In the end Julius gave in, and
they proceeded in the car to Carlton House Terrace.

The door was opened by an irreproachable butler. Tuppence felt a
little nervous. After all, perhaps it WAS colossal cheek on her
part. She had decided not to ask if Sir James was "at home," but
to adopt a more personal attitude.

"Will you ask Sir James if I can see him for a few minutes? I
have an important message for him."

The butler retired, returning a moment or two later.

"Sir James will see you. Will you step this way?"

He ushered them into a room at the back of the house, furnished
as a library. The collection of books was a magnificent one, and
Tuppence noticed that all one wall was devoted to works on crime
and criminology. There were several deep-padded leather
arm-chairs, and an old-fashioned open hearth. In the window was a
big roll-top desk strewn with papers at which the master of the
house was sitting.

He rose as they entered.

"You have a message for me? Ah"--he recognized Tuppence with a
smile--"it's you, is it? Brought a message from Mrs. Vandemeyer,
I suppose?"

"Not exactly," said Tuppence. "In fact, I'm afraid I only said
that to be quite sure of getting in. Oh, by the way, this is Mr.
Hersheimmer, Sir James Peel Edgerton."

"Pleased to meet you," said the American, shooting out a hand.

"Won't you both sit down?" asked Sir James. He drew forward two

"Sir James," said Tuppence, plunging boldly, "I dare say you will
think it is most awful cheek of me coming here like this.
Because, of course, it's nothing whatever to do with you, and
then you're a very important person, and of course Tommy and I
are very unimportant." She paused for breath.

"Tommy?" queried Sir James, looking across at the American.

"No, that's Julius," explained Tuppence. "I'm rather nervous,
and that makes me tell it badly. What I really want to know is
what you meant by what you said to me the other day? Did you mean
to warn me against Mrs. Vandemeyer? You did, didn't you?"

"My dear young lady, as far as I recollect I only mentioned that
there were equally good situations to be obtained elsewhere."

"Yes, I know. But it was a hint, wasn't it?"

"Well, perhaps it was," admitted Sir James gravely.

"Well, I want to know more. I want to know just WHY you gave me
a hint."

Sir James smiled at her earnestness.

"Suppose the lady brings a libel action against me for defamation
of character?"

"Of course," said Tuppence. "I know lawyers are always
dreadfully careful. But can't we say 'without prejudice' first,
and then say just what we want to."

"Well," said Sir James, still smiling, "without prejudice, then,
if I had a young sister forced to earn her living, I should not
like to see her in Mrs. Vandemeyer's service. I felt it incumbent
on me just to give you a hint. It is no place for a young and
inexperienced girl. That is all I can tell you."

"I see," said Tuppence thoughtfully. "Thank you very much. But
I'm not REALLY inexperienced, you know. I knew perfectly that
she was a bad lot when I went there--as a matter of fact that's
WHY I went----" She broke off, seeing some bewilderment on the
lawyer's face, and went on: "I think perhaps I'd better tell you
the whole story, Sir James. I've a sort of feeling that you'd
know in a minute if I didn't tell the truth, and so you might as
well know all about it from the beginning. What do you think,

"As you're bent on it, I'd go right ahead with the facts,"
replied the American, who had so far sat in silence.

"Yes, tell me all about it," said Sir James. "I want to know who
Tommy is."

Thus encouraged Tuppence plunged into her tale, and the lawyer
listened with close attention.

"Very interesting," he said, when she finished. "A great deal of
what you tell me, child, is already known to me. I've had
certain theories of my own about this Jane Finn. You've done
extraordinarily well so far, but it's rather too bad of--what do
you know him as?--Mr. Carter to pitchfork you two young things
into an affair of this kind. By the way, where did Mr.
Hersheimmer come in originally? You didn't make that clear?"

Julius answered for himself.

"I'm Jane's first cousin," he explained, returning the lawyer's
keen gaze.


"Oh, Sir James," broke out Tuppence, "what do you think has
become of Tommy?"

"H'm." The lawyer rose, and paced slowly up and down. "When you
arrived, young lady, I was just packing up my traps. Going to
Scotland by the night train for a few days' fishing. But there
are different kinds of fishing. I've a good mind to stay, and
see if we can't get on the track of that young chap."

"Oh!" Tuppence clasped her hands ecstatically.

"All the same, as I said before, it's too bad of--of Carter to
set you two babies on a job like this. Now, don't get offended,

"Cowley. Prudence Cowley. But my friends call me Tuppence."

"Well, Miss Tuppence, then, as I'm certainly going to be a
friend. Don't be offended because I think you're young. Youth is
a failing only too easily outgrown. Now, about this young Tommy
of yours----"

"Yes." Tuppence clasped her hands.

"Frankly, things look bad for him. He's been butting in
somewhere where he wasn't wanted. Not a doubt of it. But don't
give up hope."

"And you really will help us? There, Julius! He didn't want me
to come," she added by way of explanation.

"H'm," said the lawyer, favouring Julius with another keen
glance. "And why was that?"

"I reckoned it would be no good worrying you with a petty little
business like this."

"I see." He paused a moment. "This petty little business, as
you call it, bears directly on a very big business, bigger
perhaps than either you or Miss Tuppence know. If this boy is
alive, he may have very valuable information to give us.
Therefore, we must find him."

"Yes, but how?" cried Tuppence. "I've tried to think of

Sir James smiled.

"And yet there's one person quite near at hand who in all
probability knows where he is, or at all events where he is
likely to be."

"Who is that?" asked Tuppence, puzzled.

"Mrs. Vandemeyer."

"Yes, but she'd never tell us."

"Ah, that is where I come in. I think it quite likely that I
shall be able to make Mrs. Vandemeyer tell me what I want to

"How?" demanded Tuppence, opening her eyes very wide.

"Oh, just by asking her questions," replied Sir James easily.
"That's the way we do it, you know."

He tapped with his finger on the table, and Tuppence felt again
the intense power that radiated from the man.

"And if she won't tell?" asked Julius suddenly.

"I think she will. I have one or two powerful levers. Still, in
that unlikely event, there is always the possibility of bribery."

"Sure. And that's where I come in!" cried Julius, bringing his
fist down on the table with a bang. "You can count on me, if
necessary, for one million dollars. Yes, sir, one million

Sir James sat down and subjected Julius to a long scrutiny.

"Mr. Hersheimmer," he said at last, "that is a very large sum."

"I guess it'll have to be. These aren't the kind of folk to
offer sixpence to."

"At the present rate of exchange it amounts to considerably over
two hundred and fifty thousand pounds."

"That's so. Maybe you think I'm talking through my hat, but I
can deliver the goods all right, with enough over to spare for
your fee."

Sir James flushed slightly.

"There is no question of a fee, Mr. Hersheimmer. I am not a
private detective."

"Sorry. I guess I was just a mite hasty, but I've been feeling
bad about this money question. I wanted to offer a big reward
for news of Jane some days ago, but your crusted institution of
Scotland Yard advised me against it. Said it was undesirable."

"They were probably right," said Sir James dryly.

"But it's all O.K. about Julius," put in Tuppence. "He's not
pulling your leg. He's got simply pots of money."

"The old man piled it up in style," explained Julius. "Now,
let's get down to it. What's your idea?"

Sir James considered for a moment or two.

"There is no time to be lost. The sooner we strike the better."
He turned to Tuppence. "Is Mrs. Vandemeyer dining out to-night,
do you know?"

"Yes, I think so, but she will not be out late. Otherwise, she
would have taken the latchkey."

"Good. I will call upon her about ten o'clock. What time are you
supposed to return?"

"About nine-thirty or ten, but I could go back earlier."

"You must not do that on any account. It might arouse suspicion
if you did not stay out till the usual time. Be back by
nine-thirty. I will arrive at ten. Mr. Hersheimmer will wait
below in a taxi perhaps."

"He's got a new Rolls-Royce car," said Tuppence with vicarious

"Even better. If I succeed in obtaining the address from her, we
can go there at once, taking Mrs. Vandemeyer with us if
necessary. You understand?"

"Yes." Tuppence rose to her feet with a skip of delight. "Oh, I
feel so much better!"

"Don't build on it too much, Miss Tuppence. Go easy."

Julius turned to the lawyer.

"Say, then. I'll call for you in the car round about
nine-thirty. Is that right?"

"Perhaps that will be the best plan. It would be unnecessary to
have two cars waiting about. Now, Miss Tuppence, my advice to
you is to go and have a good dinner, a REALLY good one, mind. And
don't think ahead more than you can help."

He shook hands with them both, and a moment later they were

"Isn't he a duck?" inquired Tuppence ecstatically, as she skipped
down the steps. "Oh, Julius, isn't he just a duck?"

"Well, I allow he seems to be the goods all right. And I was
wrong about its being useless to go to him. Say, shall we go
right away back to the Ritz?"

"I must walk a bit, I think. I feel so excited. Drop me in the
park, will you? Unless you'd like to come too?"

"I want to get some petrol," he explained. "And send off a cable
or two."

"All right. I'll meet you at the Ritz at seven. We'll have to
dine upstairs. I can't show myself in these glad rags."

"Sure. I'll get Felix help me choose the menu. He's some head
waiter, that. So long."

Tuppence walked briskly along towards the Serpentine, first
glancing at her watch. It was nearly six o'clock. She remembered
that she had had no tea, but felt too excited to be conscious of
hunger. She walked as far as Kensington Gardens and then slowly
retraced her steps, feeling infinitely better for the fresh air
and exercise. It was not so easy to follow Sir James's advice,
and put the possible events of the evening out of her head. As
she drew nearer and nearer to Hyde Park corner, the temptation to
return to South Audley Mansions was almost irresistible.

At any rate, she decided, it would do no harm just to go and LOOK
at the building. Perhaps, then, she could resign herself to
waiting patiently for ten o'clock.

South Audley Mansions looked exactly the same as usual. What
Tuppence had expected she hardly knew, but the sight of its red
brick stolidity slightly assuaged the growing and entirely
unreasonable uneasiness that possessed her. She was just turning
away when she heard a piercing whistle, and the faithful Albert
came running from the building to join her.

Tuppence frowned. It was no part of the programme to have
attention called to her presence in the neighbourhood, but Albert
was purple with suppressed excitement.

"I say, miss, she's a-going!"

"Who's going?" demanded Tuppence sharply.

"The crook. Ready Rita. Mrs. Vandemeyer. She's a-packing up,
and she's just sent down word for me to get her a taxi."

"What?" Tuppence clutched his arm.

"It's the truth, miss. I thought maybe as you didn't know about

"Albert," cried Tuppence, "you're a brick. If it hadn't been for
you we'd have lost her."

Albert flushed with pleasure at this tribute.

"There's no time to lose," said Tuppence, crossing the road.
"I've got to stop her. At all costs I must keep her here
until----" She broke off. "Albert, there's a telephone here,
isn't there?"

The boy shook his head.

"The flats mostly have their own, miss. But there's a box just
round the corner."

"Go to it then, at once, and ring up the Ritz Hotel. Ask for Mr.
Hersheimmer, and when you get him tell him to get Sir James and
come on at once, as Mrs. Vandemeyer is trying to hook it. If you
can't get him, ring up Sir James Peel Edgerton, you'll find his
number in the book, and tell him what's happening. You won't
forget the names, will you?"

Albert repeated them glibly. "You trust to me, miss, it'll be
all right. But what about you? Aren't you afraid to trust
yourself with her?"

"No, no, that's all right. BUT GO AND TELEPHONE. Be quick."

Drawing a long breath, Tuppence entered the Mansions and ran up
to the door of No. 20. How she was to detain Mrs. Vandemeyer
until the two men arrived, she did not know, but somehow or other
it had to be done, and she must accomplish the task
single-handed. What had occasioned this precipitate departure?
Did Mrs. Vandemeyer suspect her?

Speculations were idle. Tuppence pressed the bell firmly. She
might learn something from the cook.

Nothing happened and, after waiting some minutes, Tuppence
pressed the bell again, keeping her finger on the button for some
little while. At last she heard footsteps inside, and a moment
later Mrs. Vandemeyer herself opened the door. She lifted her
eyebrows at the sight of the girl.


"I had a touch of toothache, ma'am," said Tuppence glibly. "So
thought it better to come home and have a quiet evening."

Mrs. Vandemeyer said nothing, but she drew back and let Tuppence
pass into the hall.

"How unfortunate for you," she said coldly. "You had better go
to bed."

"Oh, I shall be all right in the kitchen, ma'am. Cook will----"

"Cook is out," said Mrs. Vandemeyer, in a rather disagreeable
tone. "I sent her out. So you see you had better go to bed."

Suddenly Tuppence felt afraid. There was a ring in Mrs.
Vandemeyer's voice that she did not like at all. Also, the other
woman was slowly edging her up the passage. Tuppence turned at

"I don't want----"

Then, in a flash, a rim of cold steel touched her temple, and
Mrs. Vandemeyer's voice rose cold and menacing:

"You damned little fool! Do you think I don't know? No, don't
answer. If you struggle or cry out, I'll shoot you like a dog."

The rim of steel pressed a little harder against the girl's

"Now then, march," went on Mrs. Vandemeyer. "This way--into my
room. In a minute, when I've done with you, you'll go to bed as I
told you to. And you'll sleep--oh yes, my little spy, you'll
sleep all right!"

There was a sort of hideous geniality in the last words which
Tuppence did not at all like. For the moment there was nothing
to be done, and she walked obediently into Mrs. Vandemeyer's
bedroom. The pistol never left her forehead. The room was in a
state of wild disorder, clothes were flung about right and left,
a suit-case and a hat box, half-packed, stood in the middle of
the floor.

Tuppence pulled herself together with an effort. Her voice shook
a little, but she spoke out bravely.

"Come now," she said. "This is nonsense. You can't shoot me.
Why, every one in the building would hear the report."

"I'd risk that," said Mrs. Vandemeyer cheerfully. "But, as long
as you don't sing out for help, you're all right--and I don't
think you will. You're a clever girl. You deceived ME all right.
I hadn't a suspicion of you! So I've no doubt that you understand
perfectly well that this is where I'm on top and you're
underneath. Now then--sit on the bed. Put your hands above your
head, and if you value your life don't move them."

Tuppence obeyed passively. Her good sense told her that there
was nothing else to do but accept the situation. If she shrieked
for help there was very little chance of anyone hearing her,
whereas there was probably quite a good chance of Mrs.
Vandemeyer's shooting her. In the meantime, every minute of delay
gained was valuable.

Mrs. Vandemeyer laid down the revolver on the edge of the
washstand within reach of her hand, and, still eyeing Tuppence
like a lynx in case the girl should attempt to move, she took a
little stoppered bottle from its place on the marble and poured
some of its contents into a glass which she filled up with water.

"What's that?" asked Tuppence sharply.

"Something to make you sleep soundly."

Tuppence paled a little.

"Are you going to poison me?" she asked in a whisper.

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Vandemeyer, smiling agreeably.

"Then I shan't drink it," said Tuppence firmly. "I'd much rather
be shot. At any rate that would make a row, and some one might
hear it. But I won't be killed off quietly like a lamb."

Mrs. Vandemeyer stamped her foot.

"Don't be a little fool! Do you really think I want a hue and
cry for murder out after me? If you've any sense at all, you'll
realize that poisoning you wouldn't suit my book at all. It's a
sleeping draught, that's all. You'll wake up to-morrow morning
none the worse. I simply don't want the bother of tying you up
and gagging you. That's the alternative--and you won't like it, I
can tell you! I can be very rough if I choose. So drink this
down like a good girl, and you'll be none the worse for it."

In her heart of hearts Tuppence believed her. The arguments she
had adduced rang true. It was a simple and effective method of
getting her out of the way for the time being. Nevertheless, the
girl did not take kindly to the idea of being tamely put to sleep
without as much as one bid for freedom. She felt that once Mrs.
Vandemeyer gave them the slip, the last hope of finding Tommy
would be gone.

Tuppence was quick in her mental processes. All these
reflections passed through her mind in a flash, and she saw where
a chance, a very problematical chance, lay, and she determined to
risk all in one supreme effort.

Accordingly, she lurched suddenly off the bed and fell on her
knees before Mrs. Vandemeyer, clutching her skirts frantically.

"I don't believe it," she moaned. "It's poison--I know it's
poison. Oh, don't make me drink it"--her voice rose to a
shriek--"don't make me drink it!"

Mrs. Vandemeyer, glass in hand, looked down with a curling lip at
this sudden collapse.

"Get up, you little idiot! Don't go on drivelling there. How you
ever had the nerve to play your part as you did I can't think."
She stamped her foot. "Get up, I say."

But Tuppence continued to cling and sob, interjecting her sobs
with incoherent appeals for mercy. Every minute gained was to
the good. Moreover, as she grovelled, she moved imperceptibly
nearer to her objective.

Mrs. Vandemeyer gave a sharp impatient exclamation, and jerked
the girl to her knees.

"Drink it at once!" Imperiously she pressed the glass to the
girl's lips.

Tuppence gave one last despairing moan.

"You swear it won't hurt me?" she temporized.

"Of course it won't hurt you. Don't be a fool."

"Will you swear it?"

"Yes, yes," said the other impatiently. "I swear it."

Tuppence raised a trembling left hand to the glass.

"Very well." Her mouth opened meekly.

Mrs. Vandemeyer gave a sigh of relief, off her guard for the
moment. Then, quick as a flash, Tuppence jerked the glass upward
as hard as she could. The fluid in it splashed into Mrs.
Vandemeyer's face, and during her momentary gasp, Tuppence's
right hand shot out and grasped the revolver where it lay on the
edge of the washstand. The next moment she had sprung back a
pace, and the revolver pointed straight at Mrs. Vandemeyer's
heart, with no unsteadiness in the hand that held it.

In the moment of victory, Tuppence betrayed a somewhat
unsportsmanlike triumph.

"Now who's on top and who's underneath?" she crowed.

The other's face was convulsed with rage. For a minute Tuppence
thought she was going to spring upon her, which would have placed
the girl in an unpleasant dilemma, since she meant to draw the
line at actually letting off the revolver. However, with an
effort Mrs. Vandemeyer controlled herself, and at last a slow
evil smile crept over her face.

"Not a fool, then, after all! You did that well, girl. But you
shall pay for it--oh, yes, you shall pay for it! I have a long

"I'm surprised you should have been gulfed so easily," said
Tuppence scornfully. "Did you really think I was the kind of
girl to roll about on the floor and whine for mercy?"

"You may do--some day!" said the other significantly.

The cold malignity of her manner sent an unpleasant chill down
Tuppence's spine, but she was not going to give in to it.

"Supposing we sit down," she said pleasantly. "Our present
attitude is a little melodramatic. No--not on the bed. Draw a
chair up to the table, that's right. Now I'll sit opposite you
with the revolver in front of me--just in case of accidents.
Splendid. Now, let's talk."

"What about?" said Mrs. Vandemeyer sullenly.

Tuppence eyed her thoughtfully for a minute. She was remembering
several things. Boris's words, "I believe you would sell--us!"
and her answer, "The price would have to be enormous," given
lightly, it was true, yet might not there be a substratum of
truth in it? Long ago, had not Whittington asked: "Who's been
blabbing? Rita?" Would Rita Vandemeyer prove to be the weak
spot in the armour of Mr. Brown?

Keeping her eyes fixed steadily on the other's face, Tuppence
replied quietly:


Mrs. Vandemeyer started. Clearly, the reply was unexpected.

"What do you mean?"

"I'll tell you. You said just now that you had a long memory. A
long memory isn't half as useful as a long purse! I dare say it
relieves your feelings a good deal to plan out all sorts of
dreadful things to do to me, but is that PRACTICAL? Revenge is
very unsatisfactory. Every one always says so. But
money"--Tuppence warmed to her pet creed--"well, there's nothing
unsatisfactory about money, is there?"

"Do you think," said Mrs. Vandemeyer scornfully, "that I am the
kind of woman to sell my friends?"

"Yes," said Tuppence promptly. "If the price was big enough."

"A paltry hundred pounds or so!"

"No," said Tuppence. "I should suggest--a hundred thousand!"

Her economical spirit did not permit her to mention the whole
million dollars suggested by Julius.

A flush crept over Mrs. Vandemeyer's face.

"What did you say?" she asked, her fingers playing nervously with
a brooch on her breast. In that moment Tuppence knew that the
fish was hooked, and for the first time she felt a horror of her
own money-loving spirit. It gave her a dreadful sense of kinship
to the woman fronting her.

"A hundred thousand pounds," repeated Tuppence.

The light died out of Mrs. Vandemeyer's eyes. She leaned back in
her chair.

"Bah!" she said. "You haven't got it."

"No," admitted Tuppence, "I haven't--but I know some one who


"A friend of mine."

"Must be a millionaire," remarked Mrs. Vandemeyer unbelievingly.

"As a matter of fact he is. He's an American. He'll pay you
that without a murmur. You can take it from me that it's a
perfectly genuine proposition."

Mrs. Vandemeyer sat up again.

"I'm inclined to believe you," she said slowly.

There was silence between them for some time, then Mrs.
Vandemeyer looked up.

"What does he want to know, this friend of yours?"

Tuppence went through a momentary struggle, but it was Julius's
money, and his interests must come first.

"He wants to know where Jane Finn is," she said boldly.

Mrs. Vandemeyer showed no surprise.

"I'm not sure where she is at the present moment," she replied.

"But you could find out?"

"Oh, yes," returned Mrs. Vandemeyer carelessly. "There would be
no difficulty about that."

"Then"--Tuppence's voice shook a little--"there's a boy, a friend
of mine. I'm afraid something's happened to him, through your pal

"What's his name?"

"Tommy Beresford."

"Never heard of him. But I'll ask Boris. He'll tell me anything
he knows."

"Thank you." Tuppence felt a terrific rise in her spirits. It
impelled her to more audacious efforts. "There's one thing


Tuppence leaned forward and lowered her voice.


Her quick eyes saw the sudden paling of the beautiful face. With
an effort Mrs. Vandemeyer pulled herself together and tried to
resume her former manner. But the attempt was a mere parody.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"You can't have learnt much about us if you don't know that

"You do," said Tuppence quietly.

Again the colour deserted the other's face.

"What makes you think that?"

"I don't know," said the girl truthfully. "But I'm sure."

Mrs. Vandemeyer stared in front of her for a long time.

"Yes," she said hoarsely, at last, "I know. I was beautiful, you
see--very beautiful--"

"You are still," said Tuppence with admiration.

Mrs. Vandemeyer shook her head. There was a strange gleam in her
electric-blue eyes.

"Not beautiful enough," she said in a soft dangerous voice.
"Not--beautiful--enough! And sometimes, lately, I've been
afraid.... It's dangerous to know too much!" She leaned forward
across the table. "Swear that my name shan't be brought into
it--that no one shall ever know."

"I swear it. And, once's he caught, you'll be out of danger."

A terrified look swept across Mrs. Vandemeyer's face.

"Shall I? Shall I ever be?" She clutched Tuppence's arm.
"You're sure about the money?"

"Quite sure."

"When shall I have it? There must be no delay."

"This friend of mine will be here presently. He may have to send
cables, or something like that. But there won't be any
delay--he's a terrific hustler."

A resolute look settled on Mrs. Vandemeyer's face.

"I'll do it. It's a great sum of money, and besides"--she gave a
curious smile--"it is not--wise to throw over a woman like me!"

For a moment or two, she remained smiling, and lightly tapping
her fingers on the table. Suddenly she started, and her face

"What was that?"

"I heard nothing."

Mrs. Vandemeyer gazed round her fearfully.

"If there should be some one listening----"

"Nonsense. Who could there be?"

"Even the walls might have ears," whispered the other. "I tell
you I'm frightened. You don't know him!"

"Think of the hundred thousand pounds," said Tuppence soothingly.

Mrs. Vandemeyer passed her tongue over her dried lips.

"You don't know him," she reiterated hoarsely. "He's--ah!"

With a shriek of terror she sprang to her feet. Her outstretched
hand pointed over Tuppence's head. Then she swayed to the ground
in a dead faint.

Tuppence looked round to see what had startled her.

In the doorway were Sir James Peel Edgerton and Julius



SIR James brushed past Julius and hurriedly bent over the fallen

"Heart," he said sharply. "Seeing us so suddenly must have given
her a shock. Brandy--and quickly, or she'll slip through our

Julius hurried to the washstand.

"Not there," said Tuppence over her shoulder. "In the tantalus
in the dining-room. Second door down the passage."

Between them Sir James and Tuppence lifted Mrs. Vandemeyer and
carried her to the bed. There they dashed water on her face, but
with no result. The lawyer fingered her pulse.

"Touch and go," he muttered. "I wish that young fellow would
hurry up with the brandy."

At that moment Julius re-entered the room, carrying a glass half
full of the spirit which he handed to Sir James. While Tuppence
lifted her head the lawyer tried to force a little of the spirit
between her closed lips. Finally the woman opened her eyes
feebly. Tuppence held the glass to her lips.

"Drink this."

Mrs. Vandemeyer complied. The brandy brought the colour back to
her white cheeks, and revived her in a marvellous fashion. She
tried to sit up--then fell back with a groan, her hand to her

"It's my heart," she whispered. "I mustn't talk."

She lay back with closed eyes.

Sir James kept his finger on her wrist a minute longer, then
withdrew it with a nod.

"She'll do now."

All three moved away, and stood together talking in low voices.
One and all were conscious of a certain feeling of anticlimax.
Clearly any scheme for cross-questioning the lady was out of the
question for the moment. For the time being they were baffled,
and could do nothing.

Tuppence related how Mrs. Vandemeyer had declared herself willing
to disclose the identity of Mr. Brown, and how she had consented
to discover and reveal to them the whereabouts of Jane Finn.
Julius was congratulatory.

"That's all right, Miss Tuppence. Splendid! I guess that
hundred thousand pounds will look just as good in the morning to
the lady as it did over night. There's nothing to worry over.
She won't speak without the cash anyway, you bet!"

There was certainly a good deal of common sense in this, and
Tuppence felt a little comforted.

"What you say is true," said Sir James meditatively. "I must
confess, however, that I cannot help wishing we had not
interrupted at the minute we did. Still, it cannot be helped, it
is only a matter of waiting until the morning."

He looked across at the inert figure on the bed. Mrs. Vandemeyer
lay perfectly passive with closed eyes. He shook his head.

"Well," said Tuppence, with an attempt at cheerfulness, "we must
wait until the morning, that's all. But I don't think we ought
to leave the flat."

"What about leaving that bright boy of yours on guard?"

"Albert? And suppose she came round again and hooked it. Albert
couldn't stop her."

"I guess she won't want to make tracks away from the dollars."

"She might. She seemed very frightened of 'Mr. Brown.' "

"What? Real plumb scared of him?"

"Yes. She looked round and said even walls had ears."

"Maybe she meant a dictaphone," said Julius with interest.

"Miss Tuppence is right," said Sir James quietly. "We must not
leave the flat--if only for Mrs. Vandemeyer's sake."

Julius stared at him.

"You think he'd get after her? Between now and to-morrow
morning. How could he know, even?"

"You forget your own suggestion of a dictaphone," said Sir James
dryly. "We have a very formidable adversary. I believe, if we
exercise all due care, that there is a very good chance of his
being delivered into our hands. But we must neglect no
precaution. We have an important witness, but she must be
safeguarded. I would suggest that Miss Tuppence should go to
bed, and that you and I, Mr. Hersheimmer, should share the

Tuppence was about to protest, but happening to glance at the bed
she saw Mrs. Vandemeyer, her eyes half-open, with such an
expression of mingled fear and malevolence on her face that it
quite froze the words on her lips.

For a moment she wondered whether the faint and the heart attack
had been a gigantic sham, but remembering the deadly pallor she
could hardly credit the supposition. As she looked the expression
disappeared as by magic, and Mrs. Vandemeyer lay inert and
motionless as before. For a moment the girl fancied she must have
dreamt it. But she determined nevertheless to be on the alert.

"Well," said Julius, "I guess we'd better make a move out of here
any way."

The others fell in with his suggestion. Sir James again felt
Mrs. Vandemeyer's pulse.

"Perfectly satisfactory," he said in a low voice to Tuppence.
"She'll be absolutely all right after a night's rest."

The girl hesitated a moment by the bed. The intensity of the
expression she had surprised had impressed her powerfully. Mrs.
Vandemeyer lifted her lids. She seemed to be struggling to
speak. Tuppence bent over her.

"Don't--leave----" she seemed unable to proceed, murmuring
something that sounded like "sleepy." Then she tried again.

Tuppence bent lower still. It was only a breath.

"Mr.--Brown----" The voice stopped.

But the half-closed eyes seemed still to send an agonized

Moved by a sudden impulse, the girl said quickly:

"I shan't leave the flat. I shall sit up all night."

A flash of relief showed before the lids descended once more.
Apparently Mrs. Vandemeyer slept. But her words had awakened a
new uneasiness in Tuppence. What had she meant by that low
murmur: "Mr. Brown?" Tuppence caught herself nervously looking
over her shoulder. The big wardrobe loomed up in a sinister
fashion before her eyes. Plenty of room for a man to hide in
that.... Half-ashamed of herself, Tuppence pulled it open and
looked inside. No one--of course! She stooped down and looked
under the bed. There was no other possible hiding-place.

Tuppence gave her familiar shake of the shoulders. It was
absurd, this giving way to nerves! Slowly she went out of the
room. Julius and Sir James were talking in a low voice. Sir James
turned to her.

"Lock the door on the outside, please, Miss Tuppence, and take
out the key. There must be no chance of anyone entering that

The gravity of his manner impressed them, and Tuppence felt less
ashamed of her attack of "nerves."

"Say," remarked Julius suddenly, "there's Tuppence's bright boy.
I guess I'd better go down and ease his young mind. That's some
lad, Tuppence."

"How did you get in, by the way?" asked Tuppence suddenly. "I
forgot to ask."

"Well, Albert got me on the phone all right. I ran round for Sir
James here, and we came right on. The boy was on the look out
for us, and was just a mite worried about what might have
happened to you. He'd been listening outside the door of the
flat, but couldn't hear anything. Anyhow he suggested sending us
up in the coal lift instead of ringing the bell. And sure enough
we landed in the scullery and came right along to find you.
Albert's still below, and must be just hopping mad by this time."
With which Julius departed abruptly.

"Now then, Miss Tuppence," said Sir James, "you know this place
better than I do. Where do you suggest we should take up our

Tuppence considered for a moment or two.

"I think Mrs. Vandemeyer's boudoir would be the most
comfortable," she said at last, and led the way there.

Sir James looked round approvingly.

"This will do very well, and now, my dear young lady, do go to
bed and get some sleep."

Tuppence shook her head resolutely.

"I couldn't, thank you, Sir James. I should dream of Mr. Brown
all night!"

"But you'll be so tired, child."

"No, I shan't. I'd rather stay up--really."

The lawyer gave in.

Julius reappeared some minutes later, having reassured Albert and
rewarded him lavishly for his services. Having in his turn failed
to persuade Tuppence to go to bed, he said decisively:

"At any rate, you've got to have something to eat right away.
Where's the larder?"

Tuppence directed him, and he returned in a few minutes with a
cold pie and three plates.

After a hearty meal, the girl felt inclined to pooh-pooh her
fancies of half an hour before. The power of the money bribe
could not fail.

"And now, Miss Tuppence," said Sir James, "we want to hear your

"That's so," agreed Julius.

Tuppence narrated her adventures with some complacence. Julius
occasionally interjected an admiring "Bully." Sir James said
nothing until she had finished, when his quiet "well done, Miss
Tuppence," made her flush with pleasure.

"There's one thing I don't get clearly," said Julius. "What put
her up to clearing out?"

"I don't know," confessed Tuppence.

Sir James stroked his chin thoughtfully.

"The room was in great disorder. That looks as though her flight
was unpremeditated. Almost as though she got a sudden warning to
go from some one."

"Mr. Brown, I suppose," said Julius scoffingly.

The lawyer looked at him deliberately for a minute or two.

"Why not?" he said. "Remember, you yourself have once been
worsted by him."

Julius flushed with vexation.

"I feel just mad when I think of how I handed out Jane's
photograph to him like a lamb. Gee, if I ever lay hands on it
again, I'll freeze on to it like--like hell!"

"That contingency is likely to be a remote one," said the other

"I guess you're right," said Julius frankly. "And, in any case,
it's the original I'm out after. Where do you think she can be,
Sir James?"

The lawyer shook his head.

"Impossible to say. But I've a very good idea where she has

"You have? Where?"

Sir James smiled.

"At the scene of your nocturnal adventures, the Bournemouth
nursing home."

"There? Impossible. I asked."

"No, my dear sir, you asked if anyone of the name of Jane Finn
had been there. Now, if the girl had been placed there it would
almost certainly be under an assumed name."

"Bully for you," cried Julius. "I never thought of that!"

"It was fairly obvious," said the other.

"Perhaps the doctor's in it too," suggested Tuppence.

Julius shook his head.

"I don't think so. I took to him at once. No, I'm pretty sure
Dr. Hall's all right."

"Hall, did you say?" asked Sir James. "That is curious--really
very curious."

"Why?" demanded Tuppence.

"Because I happened to meet him this morning. I've known him
slightly on and off for some years, and this morning I ran across
him in the street. Staying at the Metropole, he told me." He
turned to Julius. "Didn't he tell you he was coming up to town?"

Julius shook his head.

"Curious," mused Sir James. "You did not mention his name this
afternoon, or I would have suggested your going to him for
further information with my card as introduction."

"I guess I'm a mutt," said Julius with unusual humility. "I ought
to have thought of the false name stunt."

"How could you think of anything after falling out of that tree?"
cried Tuppence. "I'm sure anyone else would have been killed
right off."

"Well, I guess it doesn't matter now, anyway," said Julius.
"We've got Mrs. Vandemeyer on a string, and that's all we need."

"Yes," said Tuppence, but there was a lack of assurance in her

A silence settled down over the party. Little by little the
magic of the night began to gain a hold on them. There were
sudden creaks of the furniture, imperceptible rustlings in the
curtains. Suddenly Tuppence sprang up with a cry.

"I can't help it. I know Mr. Brown's somewhere in the flat! I
can FEEL him."

"Sure, Tuppence, how could he be? This door's open into the
hall. No one could have come in by the front door without our
seeing and hearing him."

"I can't help it. I FEEL he's here!"

She looked appealingly at Sir James, who replied gravely:

"With due deference to your feelings, Miss Tuppence (and mine as
well for that matter), I do not see how it is humanly possible
for anyone to be in the flat without our knowledge."

The girl was a little comforted by his wards.

"Sitting up at night is always rather jumpy," she confessed.

"Yes," said Sir James. "We are in the condition of people
holding a seance. Perhaps if a medium were present we might get
some marvellous results."

"Do you believe in spiritualism?" asked Tuppence, opening her
eyes wide.

The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.

"There is some truth in it, without a doubt. But most of the
testimony would not pass muster in the witness-box."

The hours drew on. With the first faint glimmerings of dawn, Sir
James drew aside the curtains. They beheld, what few Londoners
see, the slow rising of the sun over the sleeping city. Somehow,
with the coming of the light, the dreads and fancies of the past
night seemed absurd. Tuppence's spirits revived to the normal.

"Hooray!" she said. "It's going to be a gorgeous day. And we
shall find Tommy. And Jane Finn. And everything will be lovely.
I shall ask Mr. Carter if I can't be made a Dame!"

At seven o'clock Tuppence volunteered to go and make some tea.
She returned with a tray, containing the teapot and four cups.

"Who's the other cup for?" inquired Julius.

"The prisoner, of course. I suppose we might call her that?"

"Taking her tea seems a kind of anticlimax to last night," said
Julius thoughtfully.

"Yes, it does," admitted Tuppence. "But, anyway, here goes.
Perhaps you'd both come, too, in case she springs on me, or
anything. You see, we don't know what mood she'll wake up in."

Sir James and Julius accompanied her to the door.

"Where's the key? Oh, of course, I've got it myself."

She put it in the lock, and turned it, then paused.

"Supposing, after all, she's escaped?" she murmured in a whisper.

"Plumb impossible," replied Julius reassuringly.

But Sir James said nothing.

Tuppence drew a long breath and entered. She heaved a sigh of
relief as she saw that Mrs. Vandemeyer was lying on the bed.

"Good morning," she remarked cheerfully. "I've brought you some

Mrs. Vandemeyer did not reply. Tuppence put down the cup on the
table by the bed and went across to draw up the blinds. When she
turned, Mrs. Vandemeyer still lay without a movement. With a
sudden fear clutching at her heart, Tuppence ran to the bed. The
hand she lifted was cold as ice.... Mrs. Vandemeyer would never
speak now....

Her cry brought the others. A very few minutes sufficed. Mrs.
Vandemeyer was dead--must have been dead some hours. She had
evidently died in her sleep.

"If that isn't the cruellest luck," cried Julius in despair.

The lawyer was calmer, but there was a curious gleam in his eyes.

"If it is luck," he replied.

"You don't think--but, say, that's plumb impossible--no one could
have got in."

"No," admitted the lawyer. "I don't see how they could. And
yet--she is on the point of betraying Mr. Brown, and--she dies.
Is it only chance?"

"But how----"

"Yes, HOW! That is what we must find out." He stood there
silently, gently stroking his chin. "We must find out," he said
quietly, and Tuppence felt that if she was Mr. Brown she would
not like the tone of those simple words.

Julius's glance went to the window.

"The window's open," he remarked. "Do you think----"

Tuppence shook her head.

"The balcony only goes along as far as the boudoir. We were

"He might have slipped out----" suggested Julius.

But Sir James interrupted him.

"Mr. Brown's methods are not so crude. In the meantime we must
send for a doctor, but before we do so, is there anything in this
room that might be of value to us?"

Hastily, the three searched. A charred mass in the grate
indicated that Mrs. Vandemeyer had been burning papers on the eve
of her flight. Nothing of importance remained, though they
searched the other rooms as well.

"There's that," said Tuppence suddenly, pointing to a small,
old-fashioned safe let into the wall. "It's for jewellery, I
believe, but there might be something else in it."

The key was in the lock, and Julius swung open the door, and
searched inside. He was some time over the task.

"Well," said Tuppence impatiently.

There was a pause before Julius answered, then he withdrew his
head and shut to the door.

"Nothing," he said.

In five minutes a brisk young doctor arrived, hastily summoned.
He was deferential to Sir James, whom he recognized.

"Heart failure, or possibly an overdose of some
sleeping-draught." He sniffed. "Rather an odour of chloral in
the air."

Tuppence remembered the glass she had upset. A new thought drove
her to the washstand. She found the little bottle from which
Mrs. Vandemeyer had poured a few drops.

It had been three parts full. Now--IT WAS EMPTY.



NOTHING was more surprising and bewildering to Tuppence than the
ease and simplicity with which everything was arranged, owing to
Sir James's skilful handling. The doctor accepted quite readily
the theory that Mrs. Vandemeyer had accidentally taken an
overdose of chloral. He doubted whether an inquest would be
necessary. If so, he would let Sir James know. He understood
that Mrs. Vandemeyer was on the eve of departure for abroad, and
that the servants had already left? Sir James and his young
friends had been paying a call upon her, when she was suddenly
stricken down and they had spent the night in the flat, not
liking to leave her alone. Did they know of any relatives? They
did not, but Sir James referred him to Mrs. Vandemeyer's

Shortly afterwards a nurse arrived to take charge, and the other
left the ill-omened building.

"And what now?" asked Julius, with a gesture of despair. "I guess
we're down and out for good."

Sir James stroked his chin thoughtfully.

"No," he said quietly. "There is still the chance that Dr. Hall
may be able to tell us something."

"Gee! I'd forgotten him."

"The chance is slight, but it must not be neglected. I think I
told you that he is staying at the Metropole. I should suggest
that we call upon him there as soon as possible. Shall we say
after a bath and breakfast?"

It was arranged that Tuppence and Julius should return to the
Ritz, and call for Sir James in the car. This programme was
faithfully carried out, and a little after eleven they drew up
before the Metropole. They asked for Dr. Hall, and a page-boy
went in search of him. In a few minutes the little doctor came
hurrying towards them.

"Can you spare us a few minutes, Dr. Hall?" said Sir James
pleasantly. "Let me introduce you to Miss Cowley. Mr.
Hersheimmer, I think, you already know."

A quizzical gleam came into the doctor's eye as he shook hands
with Julius.

"Ah, yes, my young friend of the tree episode! Ankle all right,

"I guess it's cured owing to your skilful treatment, doc."

"And the heart trouble? Ha ha!"

"Still searching," said Julius briefly.

"To come to the point, can we have a word with you in private?"
asked Sir James.

"Certainly. I think there is a room here where we shall be quite

He led the way, and the others followed him. They sat down, and
the doctor looked inquiringly at Sir James.

"Dr. Hall, I am very anxious to find a certain young lady for the
purpose of obtaining a statement from her. I have reason to
believe that she has been at one time or another in your
establishment at Bournemouth. I hope I am transgressing no
professional etiquette in questioning you on the subject?"

"I suppose it is a matter of testimony?"

Sir James hesitated a moment, then he replied:


"I shall be pleased to give you any information in my power. What
is the young lady's name? Mr. Hersheimmer asked me, I
remember----" He half turned to Julius.

"The name," said Sir James bluntly, "is really immaterial. She
would be almost certainly sent to you under an assumed one. But I
should like to know if you are acquainted with a Mrs.

"Mrs. Vandemeyer, of 20 South Audley Mansions? I know her

"You are not aware of what has happened?"

"What do you mean?"

"You do not know that Mrs. Vandemeyer is dead?"

"Dear, dear, I had no idea of it! When did it happen?"

"She took an overdose of chloral last night."


"Accidentally, it is believed. I should not like to say myself.
Anyway, she was found dead this morning."

"Very sad. A singularly handsome woman. I presume she was a
friend of yours, since you are acquainted with all these

"I am acquainted with the details because--well, it was I who
found her dead."

"Indeed," said the doctor, starting.

"Yes," said Sir James, and stroked his chin reflectively.

"This is very sad news, but you will excuse me if I say that I do
not see how it bears on the subject of your inquiry?"

"It bears on it in this way, is it not a fact that Mrs.
Vandemeyer committed a young relative of hers to your charge?"

Julius leaned forward eagerly.

"That is the case," said the doctor quietly.

"Under the name of----?"

"Janet Vandemeyer. I understood her to be a niece of Mrs.

"And she came to you?"

"As far as I can remember in June or July of 1915."

"Was she a mental case?"

"She is perfectly sane, if that is what you mean. I understood
from Mrs. Vandemeyer that the girl had been with her on the
Lusitania when that ill-fated ship was sunk, and had suffered a
severe shock in consequence."

"We're on the right track, I think?" Sir James looked round.

"As I said before, I'm a mutt!" returned Julius.

The doctor looked at them all curiously.

"You spoke of wanting a statement from her," he said. "Supposing
she is not able to give one?"

"What? You have just said that she is perfectly sane."

"So she is. Nevertheless, if you want a statement from her
concerning any events prior to May 7, 1915, she will not be able
to give it to you."

They looked at the little man, stupefied. He nodded cheerfully.

"It's a pity," he said. "A great pity, especially as I gather,
Sir James, that the matter is important. But there it is, she
can tell you nothing."

"But why, man? Darn it all, why?"

The little man shifted his benevolent glance to the excited young

"Because Janet Vandemeyer is suffering from a complete loss of


"Quite so. An interesting case, a very interesting case. Not so
uncommon, really, as you would think. There are several very
well known parallels. It's the first case of the kind that I've
had under my own personal observation, and I must admit that I've
found it of absorbing interest." There was something rather
ghoulish in the little man's satisfaction.

"And she remembers nothing," said Sir James slowly.

"Nothing prior to May 7, 1915. After that date her memory is as
good as yours or mine."

"Then the first thing she remembers?"

"Is landing with the survivors. Everything before that is a
blank. She did not know her own name, or where she had come from,
or where she was. She couldn't even speak her own tongue."

"But surely all this is most unusual?" put in Julius.

"No, my dear sir. Quite normal under the circumstances. Severe
shock to the nervous system. Loss of memory proceeds nearly
always on the same lines. I suggested a specialist, of course.
There's a very good man in Paris--makes a study of these
cases--but Mrs. Vandemeyer opposed the idea of publicity that
might result from such a course."

"I can imagine she would," said Sir James grimly.

"I fell in with her views. There is a certain notoriety given to
these cases. And the girl was very young--nineteen, I believe.
It seemed a pity that her infirmity should be talked about--might
damage her prospects. Besides, there is no special treatment to
pursue in such cases. It is really a matter of waiting."


"Yes, sooner or later, the memory will return--as suddenly as it
went. But in all probability the girl will have entirely
forgotten the intervening period, and will take up life where she
left off--at the sinking of the Lusitania."

"And when do you expect this to happen?"

The doctor shrugged his shoulders.

"Ah, that I cannot say. Sometimes it is a matter of months,
sometimes it has been known to be as long as twenty years!
Sometimes another shock does the trick. One restores what the
other took away."

"Another shock, eh?" said Julius thoughtfully.

"Exactly. There was a case in Colorado----" The little man's
voice trailed on, voluble, mildly enthusiastic.

Julius did not seem to be listening. He had relapsed into his
own thoughts and was frowning. Suddenly he came out of his brown
study, and hit the table such a resounding bang with his fist
that every one jumped, the doctor most of all.

"I've got it! I guess, doc, I'd like your medical opinion on the
plan I'm about to outline. Say Jane was to cross the herring
pond again, and the same thing was to happen. The submarine, the
sinking ship, every one to take to the boats--and so on.
Wouldn't that do the trick? Wouldn't it give a mighty big bump to
her subconscious self, or whatever the jargon is, and start it
functioning again right away?"

"A very interesting speculation, Mr. Hersheimmer. In my own
opinion, it would be successful. It is unfortunate that there is
no chance of the conditions repeating themselves as you suggest."

"Not by nature, perhaps, doc. But I'm talking about art."


"Why, yes. What's the difficulty? Hire a liner----"

"A liner!" murmured Dr. Hall faintly.

"Hire some passengers, hire a submarine--that's the only
difficulty, I guess. Governments are apt to be a bit hidebound
over their engines of war. They won't sell to the firstcomer.
Still, I guess that can be got over. Ever heard of the word
'graft,' sir? Well, graft gets there every time! I reckon that
we shan't really need to fire a torpedo. If every one hustles
round and screams loud enough that the ship is sinking, it ought
to be enough for an innocent young girl like Jane. By the time
she's got a life-belt on her, and is being hustled into a boat,
with a well-drilled lot of artistes doing the hysterical stunt on
deck, why--she ought to be right back where she was in May, 1915.
How's that for the bare outline?"

Dr. Hall looked at Julius. Everything that he was for the moment
incapable of saying was eloquent in that look.

"No," said Julius, in answer to it, "I'm not crazy. The thing's
perfectly possible. It's done every day in the States for the
movies. Haven't you seen trains in collision on the screen?
What's the difference between buying up a train and buying up a
liner? Get the properties and you can go right ahead!"

Dr. Hall found his voice.

"But the expense, my dear sir." His voice rose. "The expense!
It will be COLOSSAL!"

"Money doesn't worry me any," explained Julius simply.

Dr. Hall turned an appealing face to Sir James, who smiled

"Mr. Hersheimmer is very well off--very well off indeed."

The doctor's glance came back to Julius with a new and subtle
quality in it. This was no longer an eccentric young fellow with
a habit of falling off trees. The doctor's eyes held the
deference accorded to a really rich man.

"Very remarkable plan. Very remarkable," he murmured. "The
movies--of course! Your American word for the kinema. Very
interesting. I fear we are perhaps a little behind the times over
here in our methods. And you really mean to carry out this
remarkable plan of yours."

"You bet your bottom dollar I do."

The doctor believed him--which was a tribute to his nationality.
If an Englishman had suggested such a thing, he would have had
grave doubts as to his sanity.

"I cannot guarantee a cure," he pointed out. "Perhaps I ought to
make that quite clear."

"Sure, that's all right," said Julius. "You just trot out Jane,
and leave the rest to me."


"Miss Janet Vandemeyer, then. Can we get on the long distance to
your place right away, and ask them to send her up; or shall I
run down and fetch her in my car?"

The doctor stared.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Hersheimmer. I thought you understood."

"Understood what?"

"That Miss Vandemeyer is no longer under my care."



JULIUS sprang up.


"I thought you were aware of that."

"When did she leave?"

"Let me see. To-day is Monday, is it not? It must have been
last Wednesday--why, surely--yes, it was the same evening that
you--er--fell out of my tree."

"That evening? Before, or after?"

"Let me see--oh yes, afterwards. A very urgent message arrived
from Mrs. Vandemeyer. The young lady and the nurse who was in
charge of her left by the night train."

Julius sank back again into his chair.

"Nurse Edith--left with a patient--I remember," he muttered. "My
God, to have been so near!"

Dr. Hall looked bewildered.

"I don't understand. Is the young lady not with her aunt, after

Tuppence shook her head. She was about to speak when a warning
glance from Sir James made her hold her tongue. The lawyer rose.

"I'm much obliged to you, Hall. We're very grateful for all
you've told us. I'm afraid we're now in the position of having to
track Miss Vandemeyer anew. What about the nurse who accompanied
her; I suppose you don't know where she is?"

The doctor shook his head.

"We've not heard from her, as it happens. I understood she was
to remain with Miss Vandemeyer for a while. But what can have
happened? Surely the girl has not been kidnapped."

"That remains to be seen," said Sir James gravely.

The other hesitated.

"You do not think I ought to go to the police?"

"No, no. In all probability the young lady is with other

The doctor was not completely satisfied, but he saw that Sir
James was determined to say no more, and realized that to try and
extract more information from the famous K.C. would be mere waste
of labour. Accordingly, he wished them goodbye, and they left the
hotel. For a few minutes they stood by the car talking.

"How maddening," cried Tuppence. "To think that Julius must have
been actually under the same roof with her for a few hours."

"I was a darned idiot," muttered Julius gloomily.

"You couldn't know," Tuppence consoled him. "Could he?" She
appealed to Sir James.

"I should advise you not to worry," said the latter kindly. "No
use crying over spilt milk, you know."

"The great thing is what to do next," added Tuppence the

Sir James shrugged his shoulders.

"You might advertise for the nurse who accompanied the girl. That
is the only course I can suggest, and I must confess I do not
hope for much result. Otherwise there is nothing to be done."

"Nothing?" said Tuppence blankly. "And--Tommy?"

"We must hope for the best," said Sir James. "Oh yes, we must go
on hoping."

But over her downcast head his eyes met Julius's, and almost
imperceptibly he shook his head. Julius understood. The lawyer
considered the case hopeless. The young American's face grew
grave. Sir James took Tuppence's hand.

"You must let me know if anything further comes to light. Letters
will always be forwarded."

Tuppence stared at him blankly.

"You are going away?"

"I told you. Don't you remember? To Scotland."

"Yes, but I thought----" The girl hesitated.

Sir James shrugged his shoulders.

"My dear young lady, I can do nothing more, I fear. Our clues
have all ended in thin air. You can take my word for it that
there is nothing more to be done. If anything should arise, I
shall be glad to advise you in any way I can."

His words gave Tuppence an extraordinarily desolate feeling.

"I suppose you're right," she said. "Anyway, thank you very much
for trying to help us. Good-bye."

Julius was bending over the car. A momentary pity came into Sir
James's keen eyes, as he gazed into the girl's downcast face.

"Don't be too disconsolate, Miss Tuppence," he said in a low
voice. "Remember, holiday-time isn't always all playtime. One
sometimes manages to put in some work as well."

Something in his tone made Tuppence glance up sharply. He shook
his head with a smile.

"No, I shan't say any more. Great mistake to say too much.
Remember that. Never tell all you know--not even to the person
you know best. Understand? Good-bye."

He strode away. Tuppence stared after him. She was beginning to
understand Sir James's methods. Once before he had thrown her a
hint in the same careless fashion. Was this a hint? What exactly
lay behind those last brief words? Did he mean that, after all,
he had not abandoned the case; that, secretly, he would be
working on it still while----

Her meditations were interrupted by Julius, who adjured her to
"get right in."

"You're looking kind of thoughtful," he remarked as they started
off. "Did the old guy say anything more?"

Tuppence opened her mouth impulsively, and then shut it again.
Sir James's words sounded in her ears: "Never tell all you
know--not even to the person you know best." And like a flash
there came into her mind another memory. Julius before the safe
in the flat, her own question and the pause before his reply,
"Nothing." Was there really nothing? Or had he found something
he wished to keep to himself? If he could make a reservation, so
could she.

"Nothing particular," she replied.

She felt rather than saw Julius throw a sideways glance at her.

"Say, shall we go for a spin in the park?"

"If you like."

For a while they ran on under the trees in silence. It was a
beautiful day. The keen rush through the air brought a new
exhilaration to Tuppence.

"Say, Miss Tuppence, do you think I'm ever going to find Jane?"

Julius spoke in a discouraged voice. The mood was so alien to
him that Tuppence turned and stared at him in surprise. He

"That's so. I'm getting down and out over the business. Sir
James to-day hadn't got any hope at all, I could see that. I
don't like him--we don't gee together somehow--but he's pretty
cute, and I guess he wouldn't quit if there was any chance of
success--now, would he?"

Tuppence felt rather uncomfortable, but clinging to her belief
that Julius also had withheld something from her, she remained

"He suggested advertising for the nurse," she reminded him.

"Yes, with a 'forlorn hope' flavour to his voice! No--I'm about


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