The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie

Part 5 out of 6

"Whether that was his real reason."

"Sure. You bet your life it was."

Tommy shook his head unconvinced.

Sir James arrived punctually at eight o'clock, and Julius
introduced Tommy. Sir James shook hands with him warmly.

"I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Beresford. I have
heard so much about you from Miss Tuppence"--he smiled
involuntarily--"that it really seems as though I already know you
quite well."

"Thank you, sir," said Tommy with his cheerful grin. He scanned
the great lawyer eagerly. Like Tuppence, he felt the magnetism
of the other's personality. He was reminded of Mr. Carter. The
two men, totally unlike so far as physical resemblance went,
produced a similar effect. Beneath the weary manner of the one
and the professional reserve of the other, lay the same quality
of mind, keen-edged like a rapier.

In the meantime he was conscious of Sir James's close scrutiny.
When the lawyer dropped his eyes the young man had the feeling
that the other had read him through and through like an open
book. He could not but wonder what the final judgment was, but
there was little chance of learning that. Sir James took in
everything, but gave out only what he chose. A proof of that
occurred almost at once.

Immediately the first greetings were over Julius broke out into a
flood of eager questions. How had Sir James managed to track the
girl? Why had he not let them know that he was still working on
the case? And so on.

Sir James stroked his chin and smiled. At last he said:

"Just so, just so. Well, she's found. And that's the great
thing, isn't it? Eh! Come now, that's the great thing?"

"Sure it is. But just how did you strike her trail? Miss
Tuppence and I thought you'd quit for good and all."

"Ah!" The lawyer shot a lightning glance at him, then resumed
operations on his chin. "You thought that, did you? Did you
really? H'm, dear me."

"But I guess I can take it we were wrong," pursued Julius.

"Well, I don't know that I should go so far as to say that. But
it's certainly fortunate for all parties that we've managed to
find the young lady."

"But where is she?" demanded Julius, his thoughts flying off on
another tack. "I thought you'd be sure to bring her along?"

"That would hardly be possible," said Sir James gravely.


"Because the young lady was knocked down in a street accident,
and has sustained slight injuries to the head. She was taken to
the infirmary, and on recovering consciousness gave her name as
Jane Finn. When--ah!--I heard that, I arranged for her to be
removed to the house of a doctor--a friend of mine, and wired at
once for you. She relapsed into unconsciousness and has not
spoken since."

"She's not seriously hurt?"

"Oh, a bruise and a cut or two; really, from a medical point of
view, absurdly slight injuries to have produced such a condition.
Her state is probably to be attributed to the mental shock
consequent on recovering her memory."

"It's come back?" cried Julius excitedly.

Sir James tapped the table rather impatiently.

"Undoubtedly, Mr. Hersheimmer, since she was able to give her
real name. I thought you had appreciated that point."

"And you just happened to be on the spot," said Tommy. "Seems
quite like a fairy tale."

But Sir James was far too wary to be drawn.

"Coincidences are curious things," he said dryly.

Nevertheless Tommy was now certain of what he had before only
suspected. Sir James's presence in Manchester was not accidental.
Far from abandoning the case, as Julius supposed, he had by some
means of his own successfully run the missing girl to earth. The
only thing that puzzled Tommy was the reason for all this
secrecy. He concluded that it was a foible of the legal mind.

Julius was speaking.

"After dinner," he announced, "I shall go right away and see

"That will be impossible, I fear," said Sir James. "It is very
unlikely they would allow her to see visitors at this time of
night. I should suggest to-morrow morning about ten o'clock."

Julius flushed. There was something in Sir James which always
stirred him to antagonism. It was a conflict of two masterful

"All the same, I reckon I'll go round there to-night and see if I
can't ginger them up to break through their silly rules."

"It will be quite useless, Mr. Hersheimmer."

The words came out like the crack of a pistol, and Tommy looked
up with a start. Julius was nervous and excited. The hand with
which he raised his glass to his lips shook slightly, but his
eyes held Sir James's defiantly. For a moment the hostility
between the two seemed likely to burst into flame, but in the end
Julius lowered his eyes, defeated.

"For the moment, I reckon you're the boss."

"Thank you," said the other. "We will say ten o'clock then?"
With consummate ease of manner he turned to Tommy. "I must
confess, Mr. Beresford, that it was something of a surprise to me
to see you here this evening. The last I heard of you was that
your friends were in grave anxiety on your behalf. Nothing had
been heard of you for some days, and Miss Tuppence was inclined
to think you had got into difficulties."

"I had, sir!" Tommy grinned reminiscently. "I was never in a
tighter place in my life."

Helped out by questions from Sir James, he gave an abbreviated
account of his adventures. The lawyer looked at him with renewed
interest as he brought the tale to a close.

"You got yourself out of a tight place very well," he said
gravely. "I congratulate you. You displayed a great deal of
ingenuity and carried your part through well."

Tommy blushed, his face assuming a prawnlike hue at the praise.

"I couldn't have got away but for the girl, sir."

"No." Sir James smiled a little. "It was lucky for you she
happened to--er--take a fancy to you." Tommy appeared about to
protest, but Sir James went on. "There's no doubt about her being
one of the gang, I suppose?"

"I'm afraid not, sir. I thought perhaps they were keeping her
there by force, but the way she acted didn't fit in with that.
You see, she went back to them when she could have got away."

Sir James nodded thoughtfully.

"What did she say? Something about wanting to be taken to

"Yes, sir. I suppose she meant Mrs. Vandemeyer."

"She always signed herself Rita Vandemeyer. All her friends
spoke of her as Rita. Still, I suppose the girl must have been
in the habit of calling her by her full name. And, at the moment
she was crying out to her, Mrs. Vandemeyer was either dead or
dying! Curious! There are one or two points that strike me as
being obscure--their sudden change of attitude towards yourself,
for instance. By the way, the house was raided, of course?"

"Yes, sir, but they'd all cleared out."

"Naturally," said Sir James dryly.

"And not a clue left behind."

"I wonder----" The lawyer tapped the table thoughtfully.

Something in his voice made Tommy look up. Would this man's eyes
have seen something where theirs had been blind? He spoke

"I wish you'd been there, sir, to go over the house!"

"I wish I had," said Sir James quietly. He sat for a moment in
silence. Then he looked up. "And since then? What have you been

For a moment, Tommy stared at him. Then it dawned on him that of
course the lawyer did not know.

"I forgot that you didn't know about Tuppence," he said slowly.
The sickening anxiety, forgotten for a while in the excitement of
knowing Jane Finn was found at last, swept over him again.

The lawyer laid down his knife and fork sharply.

"Has anything happened to Miss Tuppence?" His voice was

"She's disappeared," said Julius.


"A week ago."


Sir James's questions fairly shot out. Between them Tommy and
Julius gave the history of the last week and their futile search.

Sir James went at once to the root of the matter.

"A wire signed with your name? They knew enough of you both for
that. They weren't sure of how much you had learnt in that house.
Their kidnapping of Miss Tuppence is the counter-move to your
escape. If necessary they could seal your lips with a threat of
what might happen to her."

Tommy nodded.

"That's just what I thought, sir."

Sir James looked at him keenly. "You had worked that out, had
you? Not bad--not at all bad. The curious thing is that they
certainly did not know anything about you when they first held
you prisoner. You are sure that you did not in any way disclose
your identity?"

Tommy shook his head.

"That's so," said Julius with a nod. "Therefore I reckon some
one put them wise--and not earlier than Sunday afternoon."

"Yes, but who?"

"That almighty omniscient Mr. Brown, of course!"

There was a faint note of derision in the American's voice which
made Sir James look up sharply.

"You don't believe in Mr. Brown, Mr. Hersheimmer?"

"No, sir, I do not," returned the young American with emphasis.
"Not as such, that is to say. I reckon it out that he's a
figurehead--just a bogy name to frighten the children with. The
real head of this business is that Russian chap Kramenin. I
guess he's quite capable of running revolutions in three
countries at once if he chose! The man Whittington is probably
the head of the English branch."

"I disagree with you," said Sir James shortly. "Mr. Brown
exists." He turned to Tommy. "Did you happen to notice where
that wire was handed in?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I didn't."

"H'm. Got it with you?"

"It's upstairs, sir, in my kit."

"I'd like to have a look at it sometime. No hurry. You've
wasted a week"--Tommy hung his head--"a day or so more is
immaterial. We'll deal with Miss Jane Finn first. Afterwards,
we'll set to work to rescue Miss Tuppence from bondage. I don't
think she's in any immediate danger. That is, so long as they
don't know that we've got Jane Finn, and that her memory has
returned. We must keep that dark at all costs. You understand?"

The other two assented, and, after making arrangements for
meeting on the morrow, the great lawyer took his leave.

At ten o'clock, the two young men were at the appointed spot. Sir
James had joined them on the doorstep. He alone appeared
unexcited. He introduced them to the doctor.

"Mr. Hersheimmer--Mr. Beresford--Dr. Roylance. How's the

"Going on well. Evidently no idea of the flight of time. Asked
this morning how many had been saved from the Lusitania. Was it
in the papers yet? That, of course, was only what was to be
expected. She seems to have something on her mind, though."

"I think we can relieve her anxiety. May we go up?"


Tommy's heart beat sensibly faster as they followed the doctor
upstairs. Jane Finn at last! The long-sought, the mysterious,
the elusive Jane Finn! How wildly improbable success had seemed!
And here in this house, her memory almost miraculously restored,
lay the girl who held the future of England in her hands. A half
groan broke from Tommy's lips. If only Tuppence could have been
at his side to share in the triumphant conclusion of their joint
venture! Then he put the thought of Tuppence resolutely aside.
His confidence in Sir James was growing. There was a man who
would unerringly ferret out Tuppence's whereabouts. In the
meantime Jane Finn! And suddenly a dread clutched at his heart.
It seemed too easy.... Suppose they should find her dead ...
stricken down by the hand of Mr. Brown?

In another minute he was laughing at these melodramatic fancies.
The doctor held open the door of a room and they passed in. On
the white bed, bandages round her head, lay the girl. Somehow the
whole scene seemed unreal. It was so exactly what one expected
that it gave the effect of being beautifully staged.

The girl looked from one to the other of them with large
wondering eyes. Sir James spoke first.

"Miss Finn," he said, "this is your cousin, Mr. Julius P.

A faint flush flitted over the girl's face, as Julius stepped
forward and took her hand.

"How do, Cousin Jane?" he said lightly.

But Tommy caught the tremor in his voice.

"Are you really Uncle Hiram's son?" she asked wonderingly.

Her voice, with the slight warmth of the Western accent, had an
almost thrilling quality. It seemed vaguely familiar to Tommy,
but he thrust the impression aside as impossible.

"Sure thing."

"We used to read about Uncle Hiram in the papers," continued the
girl, in her low soft tones. "But I never thought I'd meet you
one day. Mother figured it out that Uncle Hiram would never get
over being mad with her."

"The old man was like that," admitted Julius. "But I guess the
new generation's sort of different. Got no use for the family
feud business. First thing I thought about, soon as the war was
over, was to come along and hunt you up."

A shadow passed over the girl's face.

"They've been telling me things--dreadful things--that my memory
went, and that there are years I shall never know about--years
lost out of my life."

"You didn't realize that yourself?"

The girl's eyes opened wide.

"Why, no. It seems to me as though it were no time since we were
being hustled into those boats. I can see it all now." She
closed her eyes with a shudder.

Julius looked across at Sir James, who nodded.

"Don't worry any. It isn't worth it. Now, see here, Jane,
there's something we want to know about. There was a man aboard
that boat with some mighty important papers on him, and the big
guns in this country have got a notion that he passed on the
goods to you. Is that so?"

The girl hesitated, her glance shifting to the other two. Julius

"Mr. Beresford is commissioned by the British Government to get
those papers back. Sir James Peel Edgerton is an English Member
of Parliament, and might be a big gun in the Cabinet if he liked.
It's owing to him that we've ferreted you out at last. So you can
go right ahead and tell us the whole story. Did Danvers give you
the papers?"

"Yes. He said they'd have a better chance with me, because they
would save the women and children first."

"Just as we thought," said Sir James.

"He said they were very important--that they might make all the
difference to the Allies. But, if it's all so long ago, and the
war's over, what does it matter now?"

"I guess history repeats itself, Jane. First there was a great
hue and cry over those papers, then it all died down, and now the
whole caboodle's started all over again--for rather different
reasons. Then you can hand them over to us right away?"

"But I can't."


"I haven't got them."

"You--haven't--got them?" Julius punctuated the words with
little pauses.

"No--I hid them."

"You hid them?"

"Yes. I got uneasy. People seemed to be watching me. It scared
me--badly." She put her hand to her head. "It's almost the last
thing I remember before waking up in the hospital...."

"Go on," said Sir James, in his quiet penetrating tones. "What do
you remember?"

She turned to him obediently.

"It was at Holyhead. I came that way--I don't remember why...."

"That doesn't matter. Go on."

"In the confusion on the quay I slipped away. Nobody saw me. I
took a car. Told the man to drive me out of the town. I watched
when we got on the open road. No other car was following us. I
saw a path at the side of the road. I told the man to wait."

She paused, then went on. "The path led to the cliff, and down
to the sea between big yellow gorse bushes--they were like golden
flames. I looked round. There wasn't a soul in sight. But just
level with my head there was a hole in the rock. It was quite
small--I could only just get my hand in, but it went a long way
back. I took the oilskin packet from round my neck and shoved it
right in as far as I could. Then I tore off a bit of gorse--My!
but it did prick--and plugged the hole with it so that you'd
never guess there was a crevice of any kind there. Then I marked
the place carefully in my own mind, so that I'd find it again.
There was a queer boulder in the path just there--for all the
world like a dog sitting up begging. Then I went back to the
road. The car was waiting, and I drove back. I just caught the
train. I was a bit ashamed of myself for fancying things maybe,
but, by and by, I saw the man opposite me wink at a woman who was
sitting next to me, and I felt scared again, and was glad the
papers were safe. I went out in the corridor to get a little air.
I thought I'd slip into another carriage. But the woman called
me back, said I'd dropped something, and when I stooped to look,
something seemed to hit me--here." She placed her hand to the
back of her head. "I don't remember anything more until I woke up
in the hospital."

There was a pause.

"Thank you, Miss Finn." It was Sir James who spoke. "I hope we
have not tired you?"

"Oh, that's all right. My head aches a little, but otherwise I
feel fine."

Julius stepped forward and took her hand again.

"So long, Cousin Jane. I'm going to get busy after those papers,
but I'll be back in two shakes of a dog's tail, and I'll tote you
up to London and give you the time of your young life before we
go back to the States! I mean it--so hurry up and get well."



IN the street they held an informal council of war. Sir James had
drawn a watch from his pocket. "The boat train to Holyhead stops
at Chester at 12.14. If you start at once I think you can catch
the connection."

Tommy looked up, puzzled.

"Is there any need to hurry, sir? To-day is only the 24th."

"I guess it's always well to get up early in the morning," said
Julius, before the lawyer had time to reply. "We'll make tracks
for the depot right away."

A little frown had settled on Sir James's brow.

"I wish I could come with you. I am due to speak at a meeting at
two o'clock. It is unfortunate."

The reluctance in his tone was very evident. It was clear, on
the other hand, that Julius was easily disposed to put up with
the loss of the other's company.

"I guess there's nothing complicated about this deal," he
remarked. "Just a game of hide-and-seek, that's all."

"I hope so," said Sir James.

"Sure thing. What else could it be?"

"You are still young, Mr. Hersheimmer. At my age you will
probably have learnt one lesson. 'Never underestimate your
adversary.' "

The gravity of his tone impressed Tommy, but had little effect
upon Julius.

"You think Mr. Brown might come along and take a hand? If he
does, I'm ready for him." He slapped his pocket. "I carry a gun.
Little Willie here travels round with me everywhere." He
produced a murderous-looking automatic, and tapped it
affectionately before returning it to its home. "But he won't be
needed this trip. There's nobody to put Mr. Brown wise."

The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.

"There was nobody to put Mr. Brown wise to the fact that Mrs.
Vandemeyer meant to betray him. Nevertheless, MRS. VANDEMEYER

Julius was silenced for once, and Sir James added on a lighter

"I only want to put you on your guard. Good-bye, and good luck.
Take no unnecessary risks once the papers are in your hands. If
there is any reason to believe that you have been shadowed,
destroy them at once. Good luck to you. The game is in your
hands now." He shook hands with them both.

Ten minutes later the two young men were seated in a first-class
carriage en route for Chester.

For a long time neither of them spoke. When at length Julius
broke the silence, it was with a totally unexpected remark.

"Say," he observed thoughtfully, "did you ever make a darned fool
of yourself over a girl's face?"

Tommy, after a moment's astonishment, searched his mind.

"Can't say I have," he replied at last. "Not that I can
recollect, anyhow. Why?"

"Because for the last two months I've been making a sentimental
idiot of myself over Jane! First moment I clapped eyes on her
photograph my heart did all the usual stunts you read about in
novels. I guess I'm ashamed to admit it, but I came over here
determined to find her and fix it all up, and take her back as
Mrs. Julius P. Hersheimmer!"

"Oh!" said Tommy, amazed.

Julius uncrossed his legs brusquely and continued:

"Just shows what an almighty fool a man can make of himself! One
look at the girl in the flesh, and I was cured!"

Feeling more tongue-tied than ever, Tommy ejaculated "Oh!" again.

"No disparagement to Jane, mind you," continued the other. "She's
a real nice girl, and some fellow will fall in love with her
right away."

"I thought her a very good-looking girl," said Tommy, finding his

"Sure she is. But she's not like her photo one bit. At least I
suppose she is in a way--must be--because I recognized her right
off. If I'd seen her in a crowd I'd have said 'There's a girl
whose face I know' right away without any hesitation. But there
was something about that photo"--Julius shook his head, and
heaved a sigh--"I guess romance is a mighty queer thing!"

"It must be," said Tommy coldly, "if you can come over here in
love with one girl, and propose to another within a fortnight."

Julius had the grace to look discomposed.

"Well, you see, I'd got a sort of tired feeling that I'd never
find Jane--and that it was all plumb foolishness anyway. And
then--oh, well, the French, for instance, are much more sensible
in the way they look at things. They keep romance and marriage

Tommy flushed.

"Well, I'm damned! If that's----"

Julius hastened to interrupt.

"Say now, don't be hasty. I don't mean what you mean. I take it
Americans have a higher opinion of morality than you have even.
What I meant was that the French set about marriage in a
businesslike way--find two people who are suited to one another,
look after the money affairs, and see the whole thing
practically, and in a businesslike spirit."

"If you ask me," said Tommy, "we're all too damned businesslike
nowadays. We're always saying, 'Will it pay?' The men are bad
enough, and the girls are worse!"

"Cool down, son. Don't get so heated."

"I feel heated," said Tommy.

Julius looked at him and judged it wise to say no more.

However, Tommy had plenty of time to cool down before they
reached Holyhead, and the cheerful grin had returned to his
countenance as they alighted at their destination.

After consultation, and with the aid of a road map, they were
fairly well agreed as to direction, so were able to hire a taxi
without more ado and drive out on the road leading to Treaddur
Bay. They instructed the man to go slowly, and watched narrowly
so as not to miss the path. They came to it not long after
leaving the town, and Tommy stopped the car promptly, asked in a
casual tone whether the path led down to the sea, and hearing it
did paid off the man in handsome style.

A moment later the taxi was slowly chugging back to Holyhead.
Tommy and Julius watched it out of sight, and then turned to the
narrow path.

"It's the right one, I suppose?" asked Tommy doubtfully. "There
must be simply heaps along here."

"Sure it is. Look at the gorse. Remember what Jane said?"

Tommy looked at the swelling hedges of golden blossom which
bordered the path on either side, and was convinced.

They went down in single file, Julius leading. Twice Tommy
turned his head uneasily. Julius looked back.

"What is it?"

"I don't know. I've got the wind up somehow. Keep fancying
there's some one following us."

"Can't be," said Julius positively. "We'd see him."

Tommy had to admit that this was true. Nevertheless, his sense
of uneasiness deepened. In spite of himself he believed in the
omniscience of the enemy.

"I rather wish that fellow would come along," said Julius. He
patted his pocket. "Little William here is just aching for

"Do you always carry it--him--with you?" inquired Tommy with
burning curiosity.

"Most always. I guess you never know what might turn up."

Tommy kept a respectful silence. He was impressed by little
William. It seemed to remove the menace of Mr. Brown farther

The path was now running along the side of the cliff, parallel to
the sea. Suddenly Julius came to such an abrupt halt that Tommy
cannoned into him.

"What's up?" he inquired.

"Look there. If that doesn't beat the band!"

Tommy looked. Standing out half obstructing the path was a huge
boulder which certainly bore a fanciful resemblance to a
"begging" terrier.

"Well," said Tommy, refusing to share Julius's emotion, "it's
what we expected to see, isn't it?"

Julius looked at him sadly and shook his head.

"British phlegm! Sure we expected it--but it kind of rattles me,
all the same, to see it sitting there just where we expected to
find it!"

Tommy, whose calm was, perhaps, more assumed than natural, moved
his feet impatiently.

"Push on. What about the hole?"

They scanned the cliff-side narrowly. Tommy heard himself saying

"The gorse won't be there after all these years."

And Julius replied solemnly:

"I guess you're right."

Tommy suddenly pointed with a shaking hand.

"What about that crevice there?"

Julius replied in an awestricken voice:

"That's it--for sure."

They looked at each other.

"When I was in France," said Tommy reminiscently, "whenever my
batman failed to call me, he always said that he had come over
queer. I never believed it. But whether he felt it or not,
there IS such a sensation. I've got it now! Badly!"

He looked at the rock with a kind of agonized passion.

"Damn it!" he cried. "It's impossible! Five years! Think of
it! Bird's-nesting boys, picnic parties, thousands of people
passing! It can't be there! It's a hundred to one against its
being there! It's against all reason!"

Indeed, he felt it to be impossible--more, perhaps, because he
could not believe in his own success where so many others had
failed. The thing was too easy, therefore it could not be. The
hole would be empty.

Julius looked at him with a widening smile.

"I guess you're rattled now all right," he drawled with some
enjoyment. "Well, here goes!" He thrust his hand into the
crevice, and made a slight grimace. "It's a tight fit. Jane's
hand must be a few sizes smaller than mine. I don't feel
anything--no--say, what's this? Gee whiz!" And with a flourish
he waved aloft a small discoloured packet. "It's the goods all
right. Sewn up in oilskin. Hold it while I get my penknife."

The unbelievable had happened. Tommy held the precious packet
tenderly between his hands. They had succeeded!

"It's queer," he murmured idly, "you'd think the stitches would
have rotted. They look just as good as new."

They cut them carefully and ripped away the oilskin. Inside was
a small folded sheet of paper. With trembling fingers they
unfolded it. The sheet was blank! They stared at each other,

"A dummy?" hazarded Julius. "Was Danvers just a decoy?"

Tommy shook his head. That solution did not satisfy him.
Suddenly his face cleared.

"I've got it! SYMPATHETIC INK!"

"You think so?"

"Worth trying anyhow. Heat usually does the trick. Get some
sticks. We'll make a fire."

In a few minutes the little fire of twigs and leaves was blazing
merrily. Tommy held the sheet of paper near the glow. The paper
curled a little with the heat. Nothing more.

Suddenly Julius grasped his arm, and pointed to where characters
were appearing in a faint brown colour.

"Gee whiz! You've got it! Say, that idea of yours was great. It
never occurred to me."

Tommy held the paper in position some minutes longer until he
judged the heat had done its work. Then he withdrew it. A moment
later he uttered a cry.

Across the sheet in neat brown printing ran the words: WITH THE



FOR a moment or two they stood staring at each other stupidly,
dazed with the shock. Somehow, inexplicably, Mr. Brown had
forestalled them. Tommy accepted defeat quietly. Not so Julius.

"How in tarnation did he get ahead of us? That's what beats me!"
he ended up.

Tommy shook his head, and said dully:

"It accounts for the stitches being new. We might have

"Never mind the darned stitches. How did he get ahead of us? We
hustled all we knew. It's downright impossible for anyone to get
here quicker than we did. And, anyway, how did he know? Do you
reckon there was a dictaphone in Jane's room? I guess there must
have been."

But Tommy's common sense pointed out objections.

"No one could have known beforehand that she was going to be in
that house--much less that particular room."

"That's so," admitted Julius. "Then one of the nurses was a
crook and listened at the door. How's that?"

"I don't see that it matters anyway," said Tommy wearily. "He may
have found out some months ago, and removed the papers,
then----No, by Jove, that won't wash! They'd have been published
at once."

"Sure thing they would! No, some one's got ahead of us to-day by
an hour or so. But how they did it gets my goat."

"I wish that chap Peel Edgerton had been with us," said Tommy

"Why?" Julius stared. "The mischief was done when we came."

"Yes----" Tommy hesitated. He could not explain his own
feeling--the illogical idea that the K.C.'s presence would
somehow have averted the catastrophe. He reverted to his former
point of view. "It's no good arguing about how it was done. The
game's up. We've failed. There's only one thing for me to do."

"What's that?"

"Get back to London as soon as possible. Mr. Carter must be
warned. It's only a matter of hours now before the blow falls.
But, at any rate, he ought to know the worst."

The duty was an unpleasant one, but Tommy had no intention of
shirking it. He must report his failure to Mr. Carter. After
that his work was done. He took the midnight mail to London.
Julius elected to stay the night at Holyhead.

Half an hour after arrival, haggard and pale, Tommy stood before
his chief.

"I've come to report, sir. I've failed--failed badly."

Mr. Carter eyed him sharply.

"You mean that the treaty----"

"Is in the hands of Mr. Brown, sir."

"Ah!" said Mr. Carter quietly. The expression on his face did
not change, but Tommy caught the flicker of despair in his eyes.
It convinced him as nothing else had done that the outlook was

"Well," said Mr. Carter after a minute or two, "we mustn't sag at
the knees, I suppose. I'm glad to know definitely. We must do
what we can."

Through Tommy's mind flashed the assurance: "It's hopeless, and
he knows it's hopeless!"

The other looked up at him.

"Don't take it to heart, lad," he said kindly. "You did your
best. You were up against one of the biggest brains of the
century. And you came very near success. Remember that."

"Thank you, sir. It's awfully decent of you."

"I blame myself. I have been blaming myself ever since I heard
this other news."

Something in his tone attracted Tommy's attention. A new fear
gripped at his heart.

"Is there--something more, sir?"

"I'm afraid so," said Mr. Carter gravely. He stretched out his
hand to a sheet on the table.

"Tuppence----?" faltered Tommy.

"Read for yourself."

The typewritten words danced before his eyes. The description of
a green toque, a coat with a handkerchief in the pocket marked
P.L.C. He looked an agonized question at Mr. Carter. The latter
replied to it:

"Washed up on the Yorkshire coast--near Ebury. I'm afraid--it
looks very much like foul play."

"My God!" gasped Tommy. "TUPPENCE! Those devils--I'll never
rest till I've got even with them! I'll hunt them down!

The pity on Mr. Carter's face stopped him.

"I know what you feel like, my poor boy. But it's no good.
You'll waste your strength uselessly. It may sound harsh, but my
advice to you is: Cut your losses. Time's merciful. You'll

"Forget Tuppence? Never!"

Mr. Carter shook his head.

"So you think now. Well, it won't bear thinking of--that brave
little girl! I'm sorry about the whole business--confoundedly

Tommy came to himself with a start.

"I'm taking up your time, sir," he said with an effort. "There's
no need for you to blame yourself. I dare say we were a couple
of young fools to take on such a job. You warned us all right.
But I wish to God I'd been the one to get it in the neck.
Good-bye, sir."

Back at the Ritz, Tommy packed up his few belongings
mechanically, his thoughts far away. He was still bewildered by
the introduction of tragedy into his cheerful commonplace
existence. What fun they had had together, he and Tuppence! And
now--oh, he couldn't believe it--it couldn't be true!
TUPPENCE--DEAD! Little Tuppence, brimming over with life! It was
a dream, a horrible dream. Nothing more.

They brought him a note, a few kind words of sympathy from Peel
Edgerton, who had read the news in the paper. (There had been a
large headline: EX-V.A.D. FEARED DROWNED.) The letter ended with
the offer of a post on a ranch in the Argentine, where Sir James
had considerable interests.

"Kind old beggar," muttered Tommy, as he flung it aside.

The door opened, and Julius burst in with his usual violence. He
held an open newspaper in his hand.

"Say, what's all this? They seem to have got some fool idea
about Tuppence."

"It's true," said Tommy quietly.

"You mean they've done her in?"

Tommy nodded.

"I suppose when they got the treaty she--wasn't any good to them
any longer, and they were afraid to let her go."

"Well, I'm darned!" said Julius. "Little Tuppence. She sure was
the pluckiest little girl----"

But suddenly something seemed to crack in Tommy's brain. He rose
to his feet.

"Oh, get out! You don't really care, damn you! You asked her to
marry you in your rotten cold-blooded way, but I LOVED her. I'd
have given the soul out of my body to save her from harm. I'd
have stood by without a word and let her marry you, because you
could have given her the sort of time she ought to have had, and
I was only a poor devil without a penny to bless himself with.
But it wouldn't have been because I didn't care!"

"See here," began Julius temperately.

"Oh, go to the devil! I can't stand your coming here and talking
about 'little Tuppence.' Go and look after your cousin.
Tuppence is my girl! I've always loved her, from the time we
played together as kids. We grew up and it was just the same. I
shall never forget when I was in hospital, and she came in in
that ridiculous cap and apron! It was like a miracle to see the
girl I loved turn up in a nurse's kit----"

But Julius interrupted him.

"A nurse's kit! Gee whiz! I must be going to Colney Hatch! I
could swear I've seen Jane in a nurse's cap too. And that's
plumb impossible! No, by gum, I've got it! It was her I saw
talking to Whittington at that nursing home in Bournemouth. She
wasn't a patient there! She was a nurse!"

"I dare say," said Tommy angrily, "she's probably been in with
them from the start. I shouldn't wonder if she stole those
papers from Danvers to begin with."

"I'm darned if she did!" shouted Julius. "She's my cousin, and
as patriotic a girl as ever stepped."

"I don't care a damn what she is, but get out of here!" retorted
Tommy also at the top of his voice.

The young men were on the point of coming to blows. But
suddenly, with an almost magical abruptness, Julius's anger

"All right, son," he said quietly, "I'm going. I don't blame you
any for what you've been saying. It's mighty lucky you did say
it. I've been the most almighty blithering darned idiot that
it's possible to imagine. Calm down"--Tommy had made an impatient
gesture--"I'm going right away now--going to the London and North
Western Railway depot, if you want to know."

"I don't care a damn where you're going," growled Tommy.

As the door closed behind Julius, he returned to his suit-case.

"That's the lot," he murmured, and rang the bell.

"Take my luggage down."

"Yes, sir. Going away, sir?"

"I'm going to the devil," said Tommy, regardless of the menial's

That functionary, however, merely replied respectfully:

"Yes, sir. Shall I call a taxi?"

Tommy nodded.

Where was he going? He hadn't the faintest idea. Beyond a fixed
determination to get even with Mr. Brown he had no plans. He
re-read Sir James's letter, and shook his head. Tuppence must be
avenged. Still, it was kind of the old fellow.

"Better answer it, I suppose." He went across to the
writing-table. With the usual perversity of bedroom stationery,
there were innumerable envelopes and no paper. He rang. No one
came. Tommy fumed at the delay. Then he remembered that there
was a good supply in Julius's sitting-room. The American had
announced his immediate departure, there would be no fear of
running up against him. Besides, he wouldn't mind if he did. He
was beginning to be rather ashamed of the things he had said. Old
Julius had taken them jolly well. He'd apologize if he found him

But the room was deserted. Tommy walked across to the
writing-table, and opened the middle drawer. A photograph,
carelessly thrust in face upwards, caught his eye. For a moment
he stood rooted to the ground. Then he took it out, shut the
drawer, walked slowly over to an arm-chair, and sat down still
staring at the photograph in his hand.

What on earth was a photograph of the French girl Annette doing
in Julius Hersheimmer's writing-table?



THE Prime Minister tapped the desk in front of him with nervous
fingers. His face was worn and harassed. He took up his
conversation with Mr. Carter at the point it had broken off. "I
don't understand," he said. "Do you really mean that things are
not so desperate after all?"

"So this lad seems to think."

"Let's have a look at his letter again."

Mr. Carter handed it over. It was written in a sprawling boyish


"Something's turned up that has given me a jar. Of course I may
be simply making an awful ass of myself, but I don't think so. If
my conclusions are right, that girl at Manchester was just a
plant. The whole thing was prearranged, sham packet and all, with
the object of making us think the game was up--therefore I fancy
that we must have been pretty hot on the scent.

"I think I know who the real Jane Finn is, and I've even got an
idea where the papers are. That last's only a guess, of course,
but I've a sort of feeling it'll turn out right. Anyhow, I
enclose it in a sealed envelope for what it's worth. I'm going to
ask you not to open it until the very last moment, midnight on
the 28th, in fact. You'll understand why in a minute. You see,
I've figured it out that those things of Tuppence's are a plant
too, and she's no more drowned than I am. The way I reason is
this: as a last chance they'll let Jane Finn escape in the hope
that she's been shamming this memory stunt, and that once she
thinks she's free she'll go right away to the cache. Of course
it's an awful risk for them to take, because she knows all about
them--but they're pretty desperate to get hold of that treaty.
neither of those two girls' lives will be worth an hour's
purchase. I must try and get hold of Tuppence before Jane

"I want a repeat of that telegram that was sent to Tuppence at
the Ritz. Sir James Peel Edgerton said you would be able to
manage that for me. He's frightfully clever.

"One last thing--please have that house in Soho watched day and
"Yours, etc.,

The Prime Minister looked up.

"The enclosure?"

Mr. Carter smiled dryly.

"In the vaults of the Bank. I am taking no chances."

"You don't think"--the Prime Minister hesitated a minute--"that
it would be better to open it now? Surely we ought to secure the
document, that is, provided the young man's guess turns out to be
correct, at once. We can keep the fact of having done so quite

"Can we? I'm not so sure. There are spies all round us. Once
it's known I wouldn't give that"--he snapped his fingers--"for
the life of those two girls. No, the boy trusted me, and I
shan't let him down."

"Well, well, we must leave it at that, then. What's he like,
this lad?"

"Outwardly, he's an ordinary clean-limbed, rather block-headed
young Englishman. Slow in his mental processes. On the other
hand, it's quite impossible to lead him astray through his
imagination. He hasn't got any--so he's difficult to deceive. He
worries things out slowly, and once he's got hold of anything he
doesn't let go. The little lady's quite different. More
intuition and less common sense. They make a pretty pair working
together. Pace and stamina."

"He seems confident," mused the Prime Minister.

"Yes, and that's what gives me hope. He's the kind of diffident
youth who would have to be VERY sure before he ventured an
opinion at all."

A half smile came to the other's lips.

"And it is this--boy who will defeat the master criminal of our

"This--boy, as you say! But I sometimes fancy I see a shadow

"You mean?"

"Peel Edgerton."

"Peel Edgerton?" said the Prime Minister in astonishment.

"Yes. I see his hand in THIS." He struck the open letter. "He's
there--working in the dark, silently, unobtrusively. I've always
felt that if anyone was to run Mr. Brown to earth, Peel Edgerton
would be the man. I tell you he's on the case now, but doesn't
want it known. By the way, I got rather an odd request from him
the other day."


"He sent me a cutting from some American paper. It referred to a
man's body found near the docks in New York about three weeks
ago. He asked me to collect any information on the subject I


Carter shrugged his shoulders.

"I couldn't get much. Young fellow about thirty-five--poorly
dressed--face very badly disfigured. He was never identified."

"And you fancy that the two matters are connected in some way?"

"Somehow I do. I may be wrong, of course."

There was a pause, then Mr. Carter continued:

"I asked him to come round here. Not that we'll get anything out
of him he doesn't want to tell. His legal instincts are too
strong. But there's no doubt he can throw light on one or two
obscure points in young Beresford's letter. Ah, here he is!"

The two men rose to greet the new-comer. A half whimsical thought
flashed across the Premier's mind. "My successor, perhaps!"

"We've had a letter from young Beresford," said Mr. Carter,
coming to the point at once. "You've seen him, I suppose?"

"You suppose wrong," said the lawyer.

"Oh!" Mr. Carter was a little nonplussed.

Sir James smiled, and stroked his chin.

"He rang me up," he volunteered.

"Would you have any objection to telling us exactly what passed
between you?"

"Not at all. He thanked me for a certain letter which I had
written to him--as a matter of fact, I had offered him a job.
Then he reminded me of something I had said to him at Manchester
respecting that bogus telegram which lured Miss Cowley away. I
asked him if anything untoward had occurred. He said it
had--that in a drawer in Mr. Hersheimmer's room he had discovered
a photograph." The laywer{sic} paused, then continued: "I asked
him if the photograph bore the name and address of a Californian
photographer. He replied: 'You're on to it, sir. It had.' Then
he went on to tell me something I DIDN'T know. The original of
that photograph was the French girl, Annette, who saved his


"Exactly. I asked the young man with some curiosity what he had
done with the photograph. He replied that he had put it back
where he found it." The lawyer paused again. "That was good, you
know--distinctly good. He can use his brains, that young fellow.
I congratulated him. The discovery was a providential one. Of
course, from the moment that the girl in Manchester was proved to
be a plant everything was altered. Young Beresford saw that for
himself without my having to tell it him. But he felt he couldn't
trust his judgment on the subject of Miss Cowley. Did I think
she was alive? I told him, duly weighing the evidence, that
there was a very decided chance in favour of it. That brought us
back to the telegram."


"I advised him to apply to you for a copy of the original wire.
It had occurred to me as probable that, after Miss Cowley flung
it on the floor, certain words might have been erased and altered
with the express intention of setting searchers on a false

Carter nodded. He took a sheet from his pocket, and read aloud:

"Come at once, Astley Priors, Gatehouse, Kent. Great

"Very simple," said Sir James, "and very ingenious. Just a few
words to alter, and the thing was done. And the one important
clue they overlooked."

"What was that?"

"The page-boy's statement that Miss Cowley drove to Charing
Cross. They were so sure of themselves that they took it for
granted he had made a mistake."

"Then young Beresford is now?"

"At Gatehouse, Kent, unless I am much mistaken."

Mr. Carter looked at him curiously.

"I rather wonder you're not there too, Peel Edgerton?"

"Ah, I'm busy on a case."

"I thought you were on your holiday?"

"Oh, I've not been briefed. Perhaps it would be more correct to
say I'm preparing a case. Any more facts about that American
chap for me?"

"I'm afraid not. Is it important to find out who he was?"

"Oh, I know who he was," said Sir James easily. "I can't prove
it yet--but I know."

The other two asked no questions. They had an instinct that it
would be mere waste of breath.

"But what I don't understand," said the Prime-Minister suddenly,
"is how that photograph came to be in Mr. Hersheimmer's drawer?"

"Perhaps it never left it," suggested the lawyer gently.

"But the bogus inspector? Inspector Brown?"

"Ah!" said Sir James thoughtfully. He rose to his feet. "I
mustn't keep you. Go on with the affairs of the nation. I must
get back to--my case."

Two days later Julius Hersheimmer returned from Manchester. A
note from Tommy lay on his table:


"Sorry I lost my temper. In case I don't see you again,
good-bye. I've been offered a job in the Argentine, and might as
well take it. "Yours,

A peculiar smile lingered for a moment on Julius's face. He threw
the letter into the waste-paper basket.

"The darned fool!" he murmured.



AFTER ringing up Sir James, Tommy's next procedure was to make a
call at South Audley Mansions. He found Albert discharging his
professional duties, and introduced himself without more ado as a
friend of Tuppence's. Albert unbent immediately.

"Things has been very quiet here lately," he said wistfully.
"Hope the young lady's keeping well, sir?"

"That's just the point, Albert. She's disappeared." You don't
mean as the crooks have got her?"

"In the Underworld?"

"No, dash it all, in this world!"

"It's a h'expression, sir," explained Albert. "At the pictures
the crooks always have a restoorant in the Underworld. But do
you think as they've done her in, sir?"

"I hope not. By the way, have you by any chance an aunt, a
cousin, a grandmother, or any other suitable female relation who
might be represented as being likely to kick the bucket?"

A delighted grin spread slowly over Albert's countenance.

"I'm on, sir. My poor aunt what lives in the country has been
mortal bad for a long time, and she's asking for me with her
dying breath."

Tommy nodded approval.

"Can you report this in the proper quarter and meet me at Charing
Cross in an hour's time?"

"I'll be there, sir. You can count on me."

As Tommy had judged, the faithful Albert proved an invaluable
ally. The two took up their quarters at the inn in Gatehouse. To
Albert fell the task of collecting information There was no
difficulty about it.

Astley Priors was the property of a Dr. Adams. The doctor no
longer practiced, had retired, the landlord believed, but he took
a few private patients--here the good fellow tapped his forehead
knowingly--"balmy ones! You understand!" The doctor was a
popular figure in the village, subscribed freely to all the local
sports--"a very pleasant, affable gentleman." Been there long?
Oh, a matter of ten years or so--might be longer. Scientific
gentleman, he was. Professors and people often came down from
town to see him. Anyway, it was a gay house, always visitors.

In the face of all this volubility, Tommy felt doubts. Was it
possible that this genial, well-known figure could be in reality
a dangerous criminal? His life seemed so open and aboveboard. No
hint of sinister doings. Suppose it was all a gigantic mistake?
Tommy felt a cold chill at the thought.

Then he remembered the private patients--"balmy ones." He
inquired carefully if there was a young lady amongst them,
describing Tuppence. But nothing much seemed to be known about
the patients--they were seldom seen outside the grounds. A
guarded description of Annette also failed to provoke

Astley Priors was a pleasant red-brick edifice, surrounded by
well-wooded grounds which effectually shielded the house from
observation from the road.

On the first evening Tommy, accompanied by Albert, explored the
grounds. Owing to Albert's insistence they dragged themselves
along painfully on their stomachs, thereby producing a great deal
more noise than if they had stood upright. In any case, these
precautions were totally unnecessary. The grounds, like those of
any other private house after nightfall, seemed untenanted.
Tommy had imagined a possible fierce watchdog. Albert's fancy ran
to a puma, or a tame cobra. But they reached a shrubbery near
the house quite unmolested.

The blinds of the dining-room window were up. There was a large
company assembled round the table. The port was passing from
hand to hand. It seemed a normal, pleasant company. Through the
open window scraps of conversation floated out disjointedly on
the night air. It was a heated discussion on county cricket!

Again Tommy felt that cold chill of uncertainty. It seemed
impossible to believe that these people were other than they
seemed. Had he been fooled once more? The fair-bearded,
spectacled gentleman who sat at the head of the table looked
singularly honest and normal.

Tommy slept badly that night. The following morning the
indefatigable Albert, having cemented an alliance with the
greengrocer's boy, took the latter's place and ingratiated
himself with the cook at Malthouse. He returned with the
information that she was undoubtedly "one of the crooks," but
Tommy mistrusted the vividness of his imagination. Questioned,
he could adduce nothing in support of his statement except his
own opinion that she wasn't the usual kind. You could see that
at a glance.

The substitution being repeated (much to the pecuniary advantage
of the real greengrocer's boy) on the following day, Albert
brought back the first piece of hopeful news. There WAS a French
young lady staying in the house. Tommy put his doubts aside.
Here was confirmation of his theory. But time pressed. To-day
was the 27th. The 29th was the much-talked-of "Labour Day,"
about which all sorts of rumours were running riot. Newspapers
were getting agitated. Sensational hints of a Labour coup d'etat
were freely reported. The Government said nothing. It knew and
was prepared. There were rumours of dissension among the Labour
leaders. They were not of one mind. The more far-seeing among
them realized that what they proposed might well be a death-blow
to the England that at heart they loved. They shrank from the
starvation and misery a general strike would entail, and were
willing to meet the Government half-way. But behind them were
subtle, insistent forces at work, urging the memories of old
wrongs, deprecating the weakness of half-and-half measures,
fomenting misunderstandings.

Tommy felt that, thanks to Mr. Carter, he understood the position
fairly accurately. With the fatal document in the hands of Mr.
Brown, public opinion would swing to the side of the Labour
extremists and revolutionists. Failing that, the battle was an
even chance. The Government with a loyal army and police force
behind them might win--but at a cost of great suffering. But
Tommy nourished another and a preposterous dream. With Mr. Brown
unmasked and captured he believed, rightly or wrongly, that the
whole organization would crumble ignominiously and
instantaneously. The strange permeating influence of the unseen
chief held it together. Without him, Tommy believed an instant
panic would set in; and, the honest men left to themselves, an
eleventh-hour reconciliation would be possible.

"This is a one-man show," said Tommy to himself. "The thing to do
is to get hold of the man."

It was partly in furtherance of this ambitious design that he had
requested Mr. Carter not to open the sealed envelope. The draft
treaty was Tommy's bait. Every now and then he was aghast at his
own presumption. How dared he think that he had discovered what
so many wiser and clever men had overlooked? Nevertheless, he
stuck tenaciously to his idea.

That evening he and Albert once more penetrated the grounds of
Astley Priors. Tommy's ambition was somehow or other to gain
admission to the house itself. As they approached cautiously,
Tommy gave a sudden gasp.

On the second floor window some one standing between the window
and the light in the room threw a silhouette on the blind. It was
one Tommy would have recognized anywhere! Tuppence was in that

He clutched Albert by the shoulder.

"Stay here! When I begin to sing, watch that window."

He retreated hastily to a position on the main drive, and began
in a deep roar, coupled with an unsteady gait, the following

I am a Soldier A jolly British Soldier;
You can see that I'm a Soldier by my feet . . .

It had been a favourite on the gramophone in Tuppence's hospital
days. He did not doubt but that she would recognize it and draw
her own conclusions. Tommy had not a note of music in his voice,
but his lungs were excellent. The noise he produced was terrific.

Presently an unimpeachable butler, accompanied by an equally
unimpeachable footman, issued from the front door. The butler
remonstrated with him. Tommy continued to sing, addressing the
butler affectionately as "dear old whiskers." The footman took
him by one arm, the butler by the other. They ran him down the
drive, and neatly out of the gate. The butler threatened him with
the police if he intruded again. It was beautifully done--soberly
and with perfect decorum. Anyone would have sworn that the butler
was a real butler, the footman a real footman--only, as it
happened, the butler was Whittington!

Tommy retired to the inn and waited for Albert's return. At last
that worthy made his appearance.

"Well?" cried Tommy eagerly.

"It's all right. While they was a-running of you out the window
opened, and something was chucked out." He handed a scrap of
paper to Tommy. "It was wrapped round a letterweight."

On the paper were scrawled three words: "To-morrow--same time."

"Good egg!" cried Tommy. "We're getting going."

"I wrote a message on a piece of paper, wrapped it round a stone,
and chucked it through the window," continued Albert

Tommy groaned.

"Your zeal will be the undoing of us, Albert. What did you say?"

"Said we was a-staying at the inn. If she could get away, to
come there and croak like a frog."

"She'll know that's you," said Tommy with a sigh of relief. "Your
imagination runs away with you, you know, Albert. Why, you
wouldn't recognize a frog croaking if you heard it."

Albert looked rather crest-fallen.

"Cheer up," said Tommy. "No harm done. That butler's an old
friend of mine--I bet he knew who I was, though he didn't let on.
It's not their game to show suspicion. That's why we've found it
fairly plain sailing. They don't want to discourage me
altogether. On the other hand, they don't want to make it too
easy. I'm a pawn in their game, Albert, that's what I am. You
see, if the spider lets the fly walk out too easily, the fly
might suspect it was a put-up job. Hence the usefulness of that
promising youth, Mr. T. Beresford, who's blundered in just at the
right moment for them. But later, Mr. T. Beresford had better
look out!"

Tommy retired for the night in a state of some elation. He had
elaborated a careful plan for the following evening. He felt sure
that the inhabitants of Astley Priors would not interfere with
him up to a certain point. It was after that that Tommy proposed
to give them a surprise.

About twelve o'clock, however, his calm was rudely shaken. He was
told that some one was demanding him in the bar. The applicant
proved to be a rude-looking carter well coated with mud.

"Well, my good fellow, what is it?" asked Tommy.

"Might this be for you, sir?" The carter held out a very dirty
folded note, on the outside of which was written: "Take this to
the gentleman at the inn near Astley Priors. He will give you
ten shillings."

The handwriting was Tuppence's. Tommy appreciated her
quick-wittedness in realizing that he might be staying at the inn
under an assumed name. He snatched at it.

"That's all right."

The man withheld it.

"What about my ten shillings?"

Tommy hastily produced a ten-shilling note, and the man
relinquished his find. Tommy unfastened it.


"I knew it was you last night. Don't go this evening. They'll be
lying in wait for you. They're taking us away this morning. I
heard something about Wales--Holyhead, I think. I'll drop this on
the road if I get a chance. Annette told me how you'd escaped.
Buck up.

Tommy raised a shout for Albert before he had even finished
perusing this characteristic epistle.

"Pack my bag! We're off!"

"Yes, sir." The boots of Albert could be heard racing upstairs.
Holyhead? Did that mean that, after all----Tommy was puzzled. He
read on slowly.

The boots of Albert continued to be active on the floor above.

Suddenly a second shout came from below.

"Albert! I'm a damned fool! Unpack that bag!"

"Yes, sir."

Tommy smoothed out the note thoughtfully.

"Yes, a damned fool," he said softly. "But so's some one else!
And at last I know who it is!"



IN his suite at Claridge's, Kramenin reclined on a couch and
dictated to his secretary in sibilant Russian.

Presently the telephone at the secretary's elbow purred, and he
took up the receiver, spoke for a minute or two, then turned to
his employer.

"Some one below is asking for you."

"Who is it?"

"He gives the name of Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer."

"Hersheimmer," repeated Kramenin thoughtfully. "I have heard
that name before."

"His father was one of the steel kings of America," explained the
secretary, whose business it was to know everything. "This young
man must be a millionaire several times over."

The other's eyes narrowed appreciatively.

"You had better go down and see him, Ivan. Find out what he

The secretary obeyed, closing the door noiselessly behind him. In
a few minutes he returned.

"He declines to state his business--says it is entirely private
and personal, and that he must see you."

"A millionaire several times over," murmured Kramenin. "Bring
him up, my dear Ivan."

The secretary left the room once more, and returned escorting

"Monsieur Kramenin?" said the latter abruptly.

The Russian, studying him attentively with his pale venomous
eyes, bowed.

"Pleased to meet you," said the American. "I've got some very
important business I'd like to talk over with you, if I can see
you alone." He looked pointedly at the other.

"My secretary, Monsieur Grieber, from whom I have no secrets."

"That may be so--but I have," said Julius dryly. "So I'd be
obliged if you'd tell him to scoot."

"Ivan," said the Russian softly, "perhaps you would not mind
retiring into the next room----"

"The next room won't do," interrupted Julius. "I know these
ducal suites--and I want this one plumb empty except for you and
me. Send him round to a store to buy a penn'orth of peanuts."

Though not particularly enjoying the American's free and easy
manner of speech, Kramenin was devoured by curiosity. "Will your
business take long to state?"

"Might be an all night job if you caught on."

"Very good, Ivan. I shall not require you again this evening. Go
to the theatre--take a night off."

"Thank you, your excellency."

The secretary bowed and departed.

Julius stood at the door watching his retreat. Finally, with a
satisfied sigh, he closed it, and came back to his position in
the centre of the room.

"Now, Mr. Hersheimmer, perhaps you will be so kind as to come to
the point?"

"I guess that won't take a minute," drawled Julius. Then, with
an abrupt change of manner: "Hands up--or I shoot!"

For a moment Kramenin stared blindly into the big automatic,
then, with almost comical haste, he flung up his hands above his
head. In that instant Julius had taken his measure. The man he
had to deal with was an abject physical coward--the rest would be

"This is an outrage," cried the Russian in a high hysterical
voice. "An outrage! Do you mean to kill me?"

"Not if you keep your voice down. Don't go edging sideways
towards that bell. That's better."

"What do you want? Do nothing rashly. Remember my life is of
the utmost value to my country. I may have been maligned----"

"I reckon," said Julius, "that the man who let daylight into you
would be doing humanity a good turn. But you needn't worry any.
I'm not proposing to kill you this trip--that is, if you're

The Russian quailed before the stern menace in the other's eyes.
He passed his tongue over his dry lips.

"What do you want? Money?"

"No. I want Jane Finn."

"Jane Finn? I--never heard of her!"

"You're a darned liar! You know perfectly who I mean."

"I tell you I've never heard of the girl."

"And I tell you," retorted Julius, "that Little Willie here is
just hopping mad to go off!"

The Russian wilted visibly.

"You wouldn't dare----"

"Oh, yes, I would, son!"

Kramenin must have recognized something in the voice that carried
conviction, for he said sullenly:

"Well? Granted I do know who you mean--what of it?"

"You will tell me now--right here--where she is to be found."

Kramenin shook his head.

"I daren't."

"Why not?"

"I daren't. You ask an impossibility."

"Afraid, eh? Of whom? Mr. Brown? Ah, that tickles you up!
There is such a person, then? I doubted it. And the mere
mention of him scares you stiff!"

"I have seen him," said the Russian slowly. "Spoken to him face
to face. I did not know it until afterwards. He was one of a
crowd. I should not know him again. Who is he really? I do not
know. But I know this--he is a man to fear."

"He'll never know," said Julius.

"He knows everything--and his vengeance is swift. Even
I--Kramenin!--would not be exempt!"

"Then you won't do as I ask you?"

"You ask an impossibility."

"Sure that's a pity for you," said Julius cheerfully. "But the
world in general will benefit." He raised the revolver.

"Stop," shrieked the Russian. "You cannot mean to shoot me?"

"Of course I do. I've always heard you Revolutionists held life
cheap, but it seems there's a difference when it's your own life
in question. I gave you just one chance of saving your dirty
skin, and that you wouldn't take!"

"They would kill me!"

"Well," said Julius pleasantly, "it's up to you. But I'll just
say this. Little Willie here is a dead cert, and if I was you I'd
take a sporting chance with Mr. Brown!"

"You will hang if you shoot me," muttered the Russian

"No, stranger, that's where you're wrong. You forget the
dollars. A big crowd of solicitors will get busy, and they'll get
some high-brow doctors on the job, and the end of it all will be
that they'll say my brain was unhinged. I shall spend a few
months in a quiet sanatorium, my mental health will improve, the
doctors will declare me sane again, and all will end happily for
little Julius. I guess I can bear a few months' retirement in
order to rid the world of you, but don't you kid yourself I'll
hang for it!"

The Russian believed him. Corrupt himself, he believed
implicitly in the power of money. He had read of American murder
trials running much on the lines indicated by Julius. He had
bought and sold justice himself. This virile young American, with
the significant drawling voice, had the whip hand of him.

"I'm going to count five," continued Julius, "and I guess, if you
let me get past four, you needn't worry any about Mr. Brown.
Maybe he'll send some flowers to the funeral, but YOU won't smell
them! Are you ready? I'll begin. One--two three--four----"

The Russian interrupted with a shriek:

"Do not shoot. I will do all you wish."

Julius lowered the revolver.

"I thought you'd hear sense. Where is the girl?"

"At Gatehouse, in Kent. Astley Priors, the place is called."

"Is she a prisoner there?"

"She's not allowed to leave the house--though it's safe enough
really. The little fool has lost her memory, curse her!"

"That's been annoying for you and your friends, I reckon. What
about the other girl, the one you decoyed away over a week ago?"

"She's there too," said the Russian sullenly.

"That's good," said Julius. "Isn't it all panning out
beautifully? And a lovely night for the run!"

"What run?" demanded Kramenin, with a stare.

"Down to Gatehouse, sure. I hope you're fond of motoring?"

"What do you mean? I refuse to go."

"Now don't get mad. You must see I'm not such a kid as to leave
you here. You'd ring up your friends on that telephone first
thing! Ah!" He observed the fall on the other's face. "You
see, you'd got it all fixed. No, sir, you're coming along with
me. This your bedroom next door here? Walk right in. Little
Willie and I will come behind. Put on a thick coat, that's
right. Fur lined? And you a Socialist! Now we're ready. We
walk downstairs and out through the hall to where my car's
waiting. And don't you forget I've got you covered every inch of
the way. I can shoot just as well through my coat pocket. One
word, or a glance even, at one of those liveried menials, and
there'll sure be a strange face in the Sulphur and Brimstone

Together they descended the stairs, and passed out to the waiting
car. The Russian was shaking with rage. The hotel servants
surrounded them. A cry hovered on his lips, but at the last
minute his nerve failed him. The American was a man of his word.

When they reached the car, Julius breathed a sigh of relief. The
danger-zone was passed. Fear had successfully hypnotized the man
by his side.

"Get in," he ordered. Then as he caught the other's sidelong
glance, "No, the chauffeur won't help you any. Naval man. Was on
a submarine in Russia when the Revolution broke out. A brother of
his was murdered by your people. George!"

"Yes, sir?" The chauffeur turned his head.

"This gentleman is a Russian Bolshevik. We don't want to shoot
him, but it may be necessary. You understand?"

"Perfectly, sir."

"I want to go to Gatehouse in Kent. Know the road at all?"

"Yes, sir, it will be about an hour and a half's run."

"Make it an hour. I'm in a hurry."

"I'll do my best, sir." The car shot forward through the

Julius ensconced himself comfortably by the side of his victim.
He kept his hand in the pocket of his coat, but his manner was
urbane to the last degree.

"There was a man I shot once in Arizona----" he began cheerfully.

At the end of the hour's run the unfortunate Kramenin was more
dead than alive. In succession to the anecdote of the Arizona
man, there had been a tough from 'Frisco, and an episode in the
Rockies. Julius's narrative style, if not strictly accurate, was

Slowing down, the chauffeur called over his shoulder that they
were just coming into Gatehouse. Julius bade the Russian direct
them. His plan was to drive straight up to the house. There
Kramenin was to ask for the two girls. Julius explained to him
that Little Willie would not be tolerant of failure. Kramenin, by
this time, was as putty in the other's hands. The terrific pace
they had come had still further unmanned him. He had given
himself up for dead at every corner.

The car swept up the drive, and stopped before the porch. The
chauffeur looked round for orders.

"Turn the car first, George. Then ring the bell, and get back to
your place. Keep the engine going, and be ready to scoot like
hell when I give the word."

"Very good, sir."

The front door was opened by the butler. Kramenin felt the
muzzle of the revolver pressed against his ribs.

"Now," hissed Julius. "And be careful."

The Russian beckoned. His lips were white, and his voice was not
very steady:

"It is I--Kramenin! Bring down the girl at once! There is no
time to lose!"

Whittington had come down the steps. He uttered an exclamation
of astonishment at seeing the other.

"You! What's up? Surely you know the plan----"

Kramenin interrupted him, using the words that have created many
unnecessary panics:

"We have been betrayed! Plans must be abandoned. We must save
our own skins. The girl! And at once! It's our only chance."

Whittington hesitated, but for hardly a moment.

"You have orders--from HIM?"

"Naturally! Should I be here otherwise? Hurry! There is no
time to be lost. The other little fool had better come too."

Whittington turned and ran back into the house. The agonizing
minutes went by. Then--two figures hastily huddled in cloaks
appeared on the steps and were hustled into the car. The smaller
of the two was inclined to resist and Whittington shoved her in
unceremoniously. Julius leaned forward, and in doing so the
light from the open door lit up his face. Another man on the
steps behind Whittington gave a startled exclamation. Concealment
was at an end.

"Get a move on, George," shouted Julius.

The chauffeur slipped in his clutch, and with a bound the car

The man on the steps uttered an oath. His hand went to his
pocket. There was a flash and a report. The bullet just missed
the taller girl by an inch.

"Get down, Jane," cried Julius. "Flat on the bottom of the car."
He thrust her sharply forward, then standing up, he took careful
aim and fired.

"Have you hit him?" cried Tuppence eagerly.

"Sure," replied Julius. "He isn't killed, though. Skunks like
that take a lot of killing. Are you all right, Tuppence?"

"Of course I am. Where's Tommy? And who's this?" She indicated
the shivering Kramenin.

"Tommy's making tracks for the Argentine. I guess he thought
you'd turned up your toes. Steady through the gate, George!
That's right. It'll take 'em at least five minutes to get busy
after us. They'll use the telephone, I guess, so look out for
snares ahead--and don't take the direct route. Who's this, did
you say, Tuppence? Let me present Monsieur Kramenin. I
persuaded him to come on the trip for his health."

The Russian remained mute, still livid with terror.

"But what made them let us go?" demanded Tuppence suspiciously.

"I reckon Monsieur Kramenin here asked them so prettily they just
couldn't refuse!"

This was too much for the Russian. He burst out vehemently:

"Curse you--curse you! They know now that I betrayed them. My
life won't be safe for an hour in this country."

"That's so," assented Julius. "I'd advise you to make tracks for
Russia right away."

"Let me go, then," cried the other. "I have done what you asked.
Why do you still keep me with you?"

"Not for the pleasure of your company. I guess you can get right
off now if you want to. I thought you'd rather I tooled you back
to London."

"You may never reach London," snarled the other. "Let me go here
and now."

"Sure thing. Pull up, George. The gentleman's not making the
return trip. If I ever come to Russia, Monsieur Kramenin, I shall
expect a rousing welcome, and----"

But before Julius had finished his speech, and before the car had
finally halted, the Russian had swung himself out and disappeared
into the night.

"Just a mite impatient to leave us," commented Julius, as the car
gathered way again. "And no idea of saying good-bye politely to
the ladies. Say, Jane, you can get up on the seat now."

For the first time the girl spoke.

"How did you 'persuade' him?" she asked.

Julius tapped his revolver.


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