“Well,” said Tuppence,
recovering herself, “it really seems as though
it were meant to be.”
“I know what you mean.
I’m superstitious myself. Luck, and all
that sort of thing. Fate seems to have chosen
you out to be mixed up in this.”
Tommy indulged in a chuckle.
“My word! I don’t
wonder Whittington got the wind up when Tuppence plumped
out that name! I should have myself. But
look here, sir, we’re taking up an awful lot
of your time. Have you any tips to give us before
we clear out?”
“I think not. My experts,
working in stereotyped ways, have failed. You
will bring imagination and an open mind to the task.
Don’t be discouraged if that too does not succeed.
For one thing there is a likelihood of the pace being
Tuppence frowned uncomprehendingly.
“When you had that interview
with Whittington, they had time before them.
I have information that the big coup was planned for
early in the new year. But the Government is
contemplating legislative action which will deal effectually
with the strike menace. They’ll get wind
of it soon, if they haven’t already, and it’s
possible that that may bring things to a head.
I hope it will myself. The less time they have
to mature their plans the better. I’m just
warning you that you haven’t much time before
you, and that you needn’t be cast down if you
fail. It’s not an easy proposition anyway.
“I think we ought to be businesslike.
What exactly can we count upon you for, Mr. Carter?”
Mr. Carter’s lips twitched slightly, but he replied
succinctly: “Funds within reason, detailed
information on any point, and no official
recognition. I mean that if you get yourselves
into trouble with the police, I can’t officially
help you out of it. You’re on your own.”
Tuppence nodded sagely.
“I quite understand that.
I’ll write out a list of the things I want to
know when I’ve had time to think. Now about
“Yes, Miss Tuppence. Do you want to say
“Not exactly. We’ve
got plenty to go with for the present, but when we
want more ”
“It will be waiting for you.”
“Yes, but I’m
sure I don’t want to be rude about the Government
if you’ve got anything to do with it, but you
know one really has the devil of a time getting anything
out of it! And if we have to fill up a blue form
and send it in, and then, after three months, they
send us a green one, and so on well, that
won’t be much use, will it?”
Mr. Carter laughed outright.
“Don’t worry, Miss Tuppence.
You will send a personal demand to me here, and the
money, in notes, shall be sent by return of post.
As to salary, shall we say at the rate of three hundred
a year? And an equal sum for Mr. Beresford, of
Tuppence beamed upon him.
“How lovely. You are kind.
I do love money! I’ll keep beautiful accounts
of our expenses all debit and credit, and the balance
on the right side, and red line drawn sideways with
the totals the same at the bottom. I really know
how to do it when I think.”
“I’m sure you do.
Well, good-bye, and good luck to you both.”
He shook hands with them, and in another
minute they were descending the steps of 27 Carshalton
Terrace with their heads in a whirl.
“Tommy! Tell me at once, who is ’Mr.
Tommy murmured a name in her ear.
“Oh!” said Tuppence, impressed.
“And I can tell you, old bean, he’s it!”
“Oh!” said Tuppence again. Then she
“I like him, don’t you?
He looks so awfully tired and bored, and yet you feel
that underneath he’s just like steel, all keen
and flashing. Oh!” She gave a skip.
“Pinch me, Tommy, do pinch me. I can’t
believe it’s real!”
Mr. Beresford obliged.
“Ow! That’s enough! Yes, we’re
not dreaming. We’ve got a job!”
“And what a job! The joint venture has
“It’s more respectable
than I thought it would be,” said Tuppence thoughtfully.
“Luckily I haven’t got
your craving for crime! What time is it?
Let’s have lunch oh!”
The same thought sprang to the minds of each.
Tommy voiced it first.
“Julius P. Hersheimmer!”
“We never told Mr. Carter about hearing from
“Well, there wasn’t much
to tell not till we’ve seen him.
Come on, we’d better take a taxi.”
“Now who’s being extravagant?”
“All expenses paid, remember. Hop in.”
“At any rate, we shall make
a better effect arriving this way,” said Tuppence,
leaning back luxuriously. “I’m sure
blackmailers never arrive in buses!”
“We’ve ceased being blackmailers,”
Tommy pointed out.
“I’m not sure I have,” said Tuppence
On inquiring for Mr. Hersheimmer,
they were at once taken up to his suite. An impatient
voice cried “Come in” in answer to the
page-boy’s knock, and the lad stood aside to
let them pass in.
Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer was a great
deal younger than either Tommy or Tuppence had pictured
him. The girl put him down as thirty-five.
He was of middle height, and squarely built to match
his jaw. His face was pugnacious but pleasant.
No one could have mistaken him for anything but an
American, though he spoke with very little accent.
“Get my note? Sit down
and tell me right away all you know about my cousin.”
“Sure thing. Jane Finn.”
“Is she your cousin?”
“My father and her mother were
brother and sister,” explained Mr. Hersheimmer
“Oh!” cried Tuppence. “Then
you know where she is?”
“No!” Mr. Hersheimmer
brought down his fist with a bang on the table.
“I’m darned if I do! Don’t you?”
“We advertised to receive information,
not to give it,” said Tuppence severely.
“I guess I know that. I
can read. But I thought maybe it was her back
history you were after, and that you’d know where
she was now?”
“Well, we wouldn’t mind
hearing her back history,” said Tuppence guardedly.
But Mr. Hersheimmer seemed to grow suddenly suspicious.
“See here,” he declared.
“This isn’t Sicily! No demanding ransom
or threatening to crop her ears if I refuse.
These are the British Isles, so quit the funny business,
or I’ll just sing out for that beautiful big
British policeman I see out there in Piccadilly.”
Tommy hastened to explain.
“We haven’t kidnapped
your cousin. On the contrary, we’re trying
to find her. We’re employed to do so.”
Mr. Hersheimmer leant back in his chair.
“Put me wise,” he said succinctly.
Tommy fell in with this demand in
so far as he gave him a guarded version of the disappearance
of Jane Finn, and of the possibility of her having
been mixed up unawares in “some political show.”
He alluded to Tuppence and himself as “private
inquiry agents” commissioned to find her, and
added that they would therefore be glad of any details
Mr. Hersheimmer could give them.
That gentleman nodded approval.
“I guess that’s all right.
I was just a mite hasty. But London gets my goat!
I only know little old New York. Just trot out
your questions and I’ll answer.”
For the moment this paralysed the
Young Adventurers, but Tuppence, recovering herself,
plunged boldly into the breach with a reminiscence
culled from detective fiction.
“When did you last see the dece your
cousin, I mean?”
“Never seen her,” responded Mr. Hersheimmer.
“What?” demanded Tommy, astonished.
Hersheimmer turned to him.
“No, sir. As I said before,
my father and her mother were brother and sister,
just as you might be” Tommy did not
correct this view of their relationship “but
they didn’t always get on together. And
when my aunt made up her mind to marry Amos Finn,
who was a poor school teacher out West, my father
was just mad! Said if he made his pile, as he
seemed in a fair way to do, she’d never see
a cent of it. Well, the upshot was that Aunt
Jane went out West and we never heard from her again.
“The old man did pile it
up. He went into oil, and he went into steel,
and he played a bit with railroads, and I can tell
you he made Wall Street sit up!” He paused.
“Then he died last fall and
I got the dollars. Well, would you believe it,
my conscience got busy! Kept knocking me up and
saying: What about your Aunt Jane, way out West?
It worried me some. You see, I figured it out
that Amos Finn would never make good. He wasn’t
the sort. End of it was, I hired a man to hunt
her down. Result, she was dead, and Amos Finn
was dead, but they’d left a daughter Jane who’d
been torpedoed in the Lusitania on her way to Paris.
She was saved all right, but they didn’t seem
able to hear of her over this side. I guessed
they weren’t hustling any, so I thought I’d
come along over, and speed things up. I phoned
Scotland Yard and the Admiralty first thing.
The Admiralty rather choked me off, but Scotland Yard
were very civil said they would make inquiries,
even sent a man round this morning to get her photograph.
I’m off to Paris to-morrow, just to see what
the Prefecture is doing. I guess if I go to and
fro hustling them, they ought to get busy!”
The energy of Mr. Hersheimmer was tremendous.
They bowed before it.
“But say now,” he ended,
“you’re not after her for anything?
Contempt of court, or something British? A proud-spirited
young American girl might find your rules and regulations
in war time rather irksome, and get up against it.
If that’s the case, and there’s such a
thing as graft in this country, I’ll buy her
Tuppence reassured him.
“That’s good. Then
we can work together. What about some lunch?
Shall we have it up here, or go down to the restaurant?”
Tuppence expressed a preference for
the latter, and Julius bowed to her decision.
Oysters had just given place to Sole
Colbert when a card was brought to Hersheimmer.
“Inspector Japp, C.I.D.
Scotland Yard again. Another man this time.
What does he expect I can tell him that I didn’t
tell the first chap? I hope they haven’t
lost that photograph. That Western photographer’s
place was burned down and all his negatives destroyed this
is the only copy in existence. I got it from
the principal of the college there.”
An unformulated dread swept over Tuppence.
“You you don’t know the name
of the man who came this morning?”
“Yes, I do. No, I don’t.
Half a second. It was on his card. Oh, I
know! Inspector Brown. Quiet, unassuming
sort of chap.”