The next day passed slowly.
It was necessary to curtail expenditure. Carefully
husbanded, forty pounds will last a long time.
Luckily the weather was fine, and “walking is
cheap,” dictated Tuppence. An outlying
picture house provided them with recreation for the
The day of disillusionment had been
a Wednesday. On Thursday the advertisement had
duly appeared. On Friday letters might be expected
to arrive at Tommy’s rooms.
He had been bound by an honourable
promise not to open any such letters if they did arrive,
but to repair to the National Gallery, where his colleague
would meet him at ten o’clock.
Tuppence was first at the rendezvous.
She ensconced herself on a red velvet seat, and gazed
at the Turners with unseeing eyes until she saw the
familiar figure enter the room.
“Well,” returned Mr. Beresford
provokingly. “Which is your favourite picture?”
“Don’t be a wretch. Aren’t
there any answers?”
Tommy shook his head with a deep and somewhat overacted
“I didn’t want to disappoint
you, old thing, by telling you right off. It’s
too bad. Good money wasted.” He sighed.
“Still, there it is. The advertisement
has appeared, and there are only two answers!”
“Tommy, you devil!” almost
screamed Tuppence. “Give them to me.
How could you be so mean!”
“Your language, Tuppence, your
language! They’re very particular at the
National Gallery. Government show, you know.
And do remember, as I have pointed out to you before,
that as a clergyman’s daughter ”
“I ought to be on the stage!”
finished Tuppence with a snap.
“That is not what I intended
to say. But if you are sure that you have enjoyed
to the full the reaction of joy after despair with
which I have kindly provided you free of charge, let
us get down to our mail, as the saying goes.”
Tuppence snatched the two precious
envelopes from him unceremoniously, and scrutinized
“Thick paper, this one.
It looks rich. We’ll keep it to the last
and open the other first.”
“Right you are. One, two, three, go!”
Tuppence’s little thumb ripped
open the envelope, and she extracted the contents.
“Referring to your advertisement
in this morning’s paper, I may be able to be
of some use to you. Perhaps you could call and
see me at the above address at eleven o’clock
“27 Carshalton Gardens,”
said Tuppence, referring to the address. “That’s
Gloucester Road way. Plenty of time to get there
if we tube.”
“The following,” said
Tommy, “is the plan of campaign. It is my
turn to assume the offensive. Ushered into the
presence of Mr. Carter, he and I wish each other good
morning as is customary. He then says: ’Please
take a seat, Mr. er?’ To which I
reply promptly and significantly: ’Edward
Whittington!’ whereupon Mr. Carter turns purple
in the face and gasps out: ‘How much?’
Pocketing the usual fee of fifty pounds, I rejoin you
in the road outside, and we proceed to the next address
and repeat the performance.”
“Don’t be absurd, Tommy.
Now for the other letter. Oh, this is from the
“A hundred pounds instead of fifty!”
“I’ll read it:
“Re your advertisement, I should
be glad if you would call round somewhere about lunch-time.
“Julius P. Hersheimmer.”
“Ha!” said Tommy.
“Do I smell a Boche? Or only an American
millionaire of unfortunate ancestry? At all events
we’ll call at lunch-time. It’s a
good time frequently leads to free food
Tuppence nodded assent.
“Now for Carter. We’ll have to hurry.”
Carshalton Terrace proved to be an
unimpeachable row of what Tuppence called “ladylike
looking houses.” They rang the bell at N, and a neat maid answered the door. She looked
so respectable that Tuppence’s heart sank.
Upon Tommy’s request for Mr. Carter, she showed
them into a small study on the ground floor where
she left them. Hardly a minute elapsed, however,
before the door opened, and a tall man with a lean
hawklike face and a tired manner entered the room.
“Mr. Y. A.?” he said,
and smiled. His smile was distinctly attractive.
“Do sit down, both of you.”
They obeyed. He himself took
a chair opposite to Tuppence and smiled at her encouragingly.
There was something in the quality of his smile that
made the girl’s usual readiness desert her.
As he did not seem inclined to open
the conversation, Tuppence was forced to begin.
“We wanted to know that
is, would you be so kind as to tell us anything you
know about Jane Finn?”
“Jane Finn? Ah!”
Mr. Carter appeared to reflect. “Well, the
question is, what do you know about her?”
Tuppence drew herself up.
“I don’t see that that’s got anything
to do with it.”
“No? But it has, you know,
really it has.” He smiled again in his tired
way, and continued reflectively. “So that
brings us down to it again. What do you know
about Jane Finn?
“Come now,” he continued,
as Tuppence remained silent. “You must know
something to have advertised as you did?”
He leaned forward a little, his weary voice held a
hint of persuasiveness. “Suppose you tell
There was something very magnetic
about Mr. Carter’s personality. Tuppence
seemed to shake herself free of it with an effort,
as she said:
“We couldn’t do that, could we, Tommy?”
But to her surprise, her companion
did not back her up. His eyes were fixed on Mr.
Carter, and his tone when he spoke held an unusual
note of deference.
“I dare say the little we know
won’t be any good to you, sir. But such
as it is, you’re welcome to it.”
“Tommy!” cried out Tuppence in surprise.
Mr. Carter slewed round in his chair. His eyes
asked a question.
“Yes, sir, I recognized you
at once. Saw you in France when I was with the
Intelligence. As soon as you came into the room,
I knew ”
Mr. Carter held up his hand.
“No names, please. I’m
known as Mr. Carter here. It’s my cousin’s
house, by the way. She’s willing to lend
it to me sometimes when it’s a case of working
on strictly unofficial lines. Well, now” he
looked from one to the other “who’s
going to tell me the story?”
“Fire ahead, Tuppence,” directed Tommy.
“It’s your yarn.”
“Yes, little lady, out with it.”
And obediently Tuppence did out with
it, telling the whole story from the forming of the
Young Adventurers, Ltd., downwards.
Mr. Carter listened in silence with
a resumption of his tired manner. Now and then
he passed his hand across his lips as though to hide
a smile. When she had finished he nodded gravely.
“Not much. But suggestive.
Quite suggestive. If you’ll excuse my saying
so, you’re a curious young couple. I don’t
know you might succeed where others have
failed... I believe in luck, you know always
He paused a moment, and then went on.
“Well, how about it? You’re
out for adventure. How would you like to work
for me? All quite unofficial, you know. Expenses
paid, and a moderate screw?”
Tuppence gazed at him, her lips parted,
her eyes growing wider and wider.
“What should we have to do?” she breathed.
Mr. Carter smiled.
“Just go on with what you’re doing now.
Find Jane Finn.”
“Yes, but who is Jane Finn?”
Mr. Carter nodded gravely.
“Yes, you’re entitled to know that, I
He leaned back in his chair, crossed
his legs, brought the tips of his fingers together,
and began in a low monotone:
“Secret diplomacy (which, by
the way, is nearly always bad policy!) does not concern
you. It will be sufficient to say that in the
early days of 1915 a certain document came into being.
It was the draft of a secret agreement treaty call
it what you like. It was drawn up ready for signature
by the various representatives, and drawn up in America at
that time a neutral country. It was dispatched
to England by a special messenger selected for that
purpose, a young fellow called Danvers. It was
hoped that the whole affair had been kept so secret
that nothing would have leaked out. That kind
of hope is usually disappointed. Somebody always
“Danvers sailed for England
on the Lusitania. He carried the precious papers
in an oilskin packet which he wore next his skin.
It was on that particular voyage that the Lusitania
was torpedoed and sunk. Danvers was among the
list of those missing. Eventually his body was
washed ashore, and identified beyond any possible
doubt. But the oilskin packet was missing!
“The question was, had it been
taken from him, or had he himself passed it on into
another’s keeping? There were a few incidents
that strengthened the possibility of the latter theory.
After the torpedo struck the ship, in the few moments
during the launching of the boats, Danvers was seen
speaking to a young American girl. No one actually
saw him pass anything to her, but he might have done
so. It seems to me quite likely that he entrusted
the papers to this girl, believing that she, as a
woman, had a greater chance of bringing them safely
“But if so, where was the girl,
and what had she done with the papers? By later
advice from America it seemed likely that Danvers had
been closely shadowed on the way over. Was this
girl in league with his enemies? Or had she,
in her turn, been shadowed and either tricked or forced
into handing over the precious packet?
“We set to work to trace her
out. It proved unexpectedly difficult. Her
name was Jane Finn, and it duly appeared among the
list of the survivors, but the girl herself seemed
to have vanished completely. Inquiries into her
antecedents did little to help us. She was an
orphan, and had been what we should call over here
a pupil teacher in a small school out West. Her
passport had been made out for Paris, where she was
going to join the staff of a hospital. She had
offered her services voluntarily, and after some correspondence
they had been accepted. Having seen her name
in the list of the saved from the Lusitania, the staff
of the hospital were naturally very surprised at her
not arriving to take up her billet, and at not hearing
from her in any way.
“Well, every effort was made
to trace the young lady but all in vain.
We tracked her across Ireland, but nothing could be
heard of her after she set foot in England. No
use was made of the draft treaty as might
very easily have been done and we therefore
came to the conclusion that Danvers had, after all,
destroyed it. The war entered on another phase,
the diplomatic aspect changed accordingly, and the
treaty was never redrafted. Rumours as to its
existence were emphatically denied. The disappearance
of Jane Finn was forgotten and the whole affair was
lost in oblivion.”
Mr. Carter paused, and Tuppence broke in impatiently:
“But why has it all cropped up again? The
A hint of alertness came into Mr. Carter’s manner.
“Because it seems that the papers
were not destroyed after all, and that they might
be resurrected to-day with a new and deadly significance.”
Tuppence stared. Mr. Carter nodded.
“Yes, five years ago, that draft
treaty was a weapon in our hands; to-day it is a weapon
against us. It was a gigantic blunder. If
its terms were made public, it would mean disaster....
It might possibly bring about another war not
with Germany this time! That is an extreme possibility,
and I do not believe in its likelihood myself, but
that document undoubtedly implicates a number of our
statesmen whom we cannot afford to have discredited
in any way at the present moment. As a party
cry for Labour it would be irresistible, and a Labour
Government at this juncture would, in my opinion,
be a grave disability for British trade, but that
is a mere nothing to the real danger.”
He paused, and then said quietly:
“You may perhaps have heard
or read that there is Bolshevist influence at work
behind the present Labour unrest?”
“That is the truth. Bolshevist
gold is pouring into this country for the specific
purpose of procuring a Revolution. And there is
a certain man, a man whose real name is unknown to
us, who is working in the dark for his own ends.
The Bolshevists are behind the Labour unrest but
this man is behind the Bolshevists.
Who is he? We do not know. He is always
spoken of by the unassuming title of ‘Mr. Brown.’
But one thing is certain, he is the master criminal
of this age. He controls a marvellous organization.
Most of the Peace propaganda during the war was originated
and financed by him. His spies are everywhere.”
“A naturalized German?” asked Tommy.
“On the contrary, I have every
reason to believe he is an Englishman. He was
pro-German, as he would have been pro-Boer. What
he seeks to attain we do not know probably
supreme power for himself, of a kind unique in history.
We have no clue as to his real personality. It
is reported that even his own followers are ignorant
of it. Where we have come across his tracks,
he has always played a secondary part. Somebody
else assumes the chief rôle. But afterwards we
always find that there has been some nonentity, a
servant or a clerk, who has remained in the background
unnoticed, and that the elusive Mr. Brown has escaped
us once more.”
“Oh!” Tuppence jumped. “I wonder ”
“I remember in Mr. Whittington’s
office. The clerk he called him Brown.
You don’t think ”
Carter nodded thoughtfully.
“Very likely. A curious
point is that the name is usually mentioned. An
idiosyncrasy of genius. Can you describe him at
“I really didn’t notice. He was quite
ordinary just like anyone else.”
Mr. Carter sighed in his tired manner.
“That is the invariable description
of Mr. Brown! Brought a telephone message to
the man Whittington, did he? Notice a telephone
in the outer office?”
“No, I don’t think I did.”
“Exactly. That ‘message’
was Mr. Brown’s way of giving an order to his
subordinate. He overheard the whole conversation
of course. Was it after that that Whittington
handed you over the money, and told you to come the
“Yes, undoubtedly the hand of
Mr. Brown!” Mr. Carter paused. “Well,
there it is, you see what you are pitting yourselves
against? Possibly the finest criminal brain of
the age. I don’t quite like it, you know.
You’re such young things, both of you. I
shouldn’t like anything to happen to you.”
“It won’t,” Tuppence assured him
“I’ll look after her, sir,” said
“And I’ll look after you,”
retorted Tuppence, resenting the manly assertion.
“Well, then, look after each
other,” said Mr. Carter, smiling. “Now
let’s get back to business. There’s
something mysterious about this draft treaty that
we haven’t fathomed yet. We’ve been
threatened with it in plain and unmistakable
terms. The Revolutionary element as good as declare
that it’s in their hands, and that they intend
to produce it at a given moment. On the other
hand, they are clearly at fault about many of its
provisions. The Government consider it as mere
bluff on their part, and, rightly or wrongly, have
stuck to the policy of absolute denial. I’m
not so sure. There have been hints, indiscreet
allusions, that seem to indicate that the menace is
a real one. The position is much as though they
had got hold of an incriminating document, but couldn’t
read it because it was in cipher but we
know that the draft treaty wasn’t in cipher couldn’t
be in the nature of things so that won’t
wash. But there’s something. Of
course, Jane Finn may be dead for all we know but
I don’t think so. The curious thing is
that they’re trying to get
information about the girl from
“Yes. One or two little
things have cropped up. And your story, little
lady, confirms my idea. They know we’re
looking for Jane Finn. Well, they’ll produce
a Jane Finn of their own say at a pensionnat
in Paris.” Tuppence gasped, and Mr. Carter
smiled. “No one knows in the least what
she looks like, so that’s all right. She’s
primed with a trumped-up tale, and her real business
is to get as much information as possible out of us.
See the idea?”
“Then you think” Tuppence
paused to grasp the supposition fully “that
it was as Jane Finn that they wanted me to go
Mr. Carter smiled more wearily than ever.
“I believe in coincidences, you know,”