Dressed appropriately, Tuppence
duly sallied forth for her “afternoon out.”
Albert was in temporary abeyance, but Tuppence went
herself to the stationer’s to make quite sure
that nothing had come for her. Satisfied on this
point, she made her way to the Ritz. On inquiry
she learnt that Tommy had not yet returned. It
was the answer she had expected, but it was another
nail in the coffin of her hopes. She resolved
to appeal to Mr. Carter, telling him when and where
Tommy had started on his quest, and asking him to
do something to trace him. The prospect of his
aid revived her mercurial spirits, and she next inquired
for Julius Hersheimmer. The reply she got was
to the effect that he had returned about half an hour
ago, but had gone out immediately.
Tuppence’s spirits revived still
more. It would be something to see Julius.
Perhaps he could devise some plan for finding out what
had become of Tommy. She wrote her note to Mr.
Carter in Julius’s sitting-room, and was just
addressing the envelope when the door burst open.
“What the hell ”
began Julius, but checked himself abruptly. “I
beg your pardon, Miss Tuppence. Those fools down
at the office would have it that Beresford wasn’t
here any longer hadn’t been here since
Wednesday. Is that so?”
“You don’t know where he is?” she
“I? How should I know?
I haven’t had one darned word from him, though
I wired him yesterday morning.”
“I expect your wire’s at the office unopened.”
“But where is he?”
“I don’t know. I hoped you might.”
“I tell you I haven’t
had one darned word from him since we parted at the
depot on Wednesday.”
“Waterloo. Your London and South Western
“Waterloo?” frowned Tuppence.
“Why, yes. Didn’t he tell you?”
“I haven’t seen him either,”
replied Tuppence impatiently. “Go on about
Waterloo. What were you doing there?”
“He gave me a call. Over
the phone. Told me to get a move on, and hustle.
Said he was trailing two crooks.”
“Oh!” said Tuppence, her eyes opening.
“I see. Go on.”
“I hurried along right away.
Beresford was there. He pointed out the crooks.
The big one was mine, the guy you bluffed. Tommy
shoved a ticket into my hand and told me to get aboard
the cars. He was going to sleuth the other crook.”
Julius paused. “I thought for sure you’d
know all this.”
“Julius,” said Tuppence
firmly, “stop walking up and down. It makes
me giddy. Sit down in that armchair, and tell
me the whole story with as few fancy turns of speech
Mr. Hersheimmer obeyed.
“Sure,” he said. “Where shall
“Where you left off. At Waterloo.”
“Well,” began Julius,
“I got into one of your dear old-fashioned first-class
British compartments. The train was just off.
First thing I knew a guard came along and informed
me mighty politely that I wasn’t in a smoking-carriage.
I handed him out half a dollar, and that settled that.
I did a bit of prospecting along the corridor to the
next coach. Whittington was there right enough.
When I saw the skunk, with his big sleek fat face,
and thought of poor little Jane in his clutches, I
felt real mad that I hadn’t got a gun with me.
I’d have tickled him up some.
“We got to Bournemouth all right.
Whittington took a cab and gave the name of an hotel.
I did likewise, and we drove up within three minutes
of each other. He hired a room, and I hired one
too. So far it was all plain sailing. He
hadn’t the remotest notion that anyone was on
to him. Well, he just sat around in the hotel
lounge, reading the papers and so on, till it was
time for dinner. He didn’t hurry any over
“I began to think that there
was nothing doing, that he’d just come on the
trip for his health, but I remembered that he hadn’t
changed for dinner, though it was by way of being
a slap-up hotel, so it seemed likely enough that he’d
be going out on his real business afterwards.
“Sure enough, about nine o’clock,
so he did. Took a car across the town mighty
pretty place by the way, I guess I’ll take Jane
there for a spell when I find her and then
paid it off and struck out along those pine-woods
on the top of the cliff. I was there too, you
understand. We walked, maybe, for half an hour.
There’s a lot of villas all the way along, but
by degrees they seemed to get more and more thinned
out, and in the end we got to one that seemed the
last of the bunch. Big house it was, with a lot
of piny grounds around it.
“It was a pretty black night,
and the carriage drive up to the house was dark as
pitch. I could hear him ahead, though I couldn’t
see him. I had to walk carefully in case he might
get on to it that he was being followed. I turned
a curve and I was just in time to see him ring the
bell and get admitted to the house. I just stopped
where I was. It was beginning to rain, and I
was soon pretty near soaked through. Also, it
was almighty cold.
“Whittington didn’t come
out again, and by and by I got kind of restive, and
began to mouch around. All the ground floor windows
were shuttered tight, but upstairs, on the first floor
(it was a two-storied house) I noticed a window with
a light burning and the curtains not drawn.
“Now, just opposite to that
window, there was a tree growing. It was about
thirty foot away from the house, maybe, and I sort
of got it into my head that, if I climbed up that
tree, I’d very likely be able to see into that
room. Of course, I knew there was no reason why
Whittington should be in that room rather than in
any other less reason, in fact, for the
betting would be on his being in one of the reception-rooms
downstairs. But I guess I’d got the hump
from standing so long in the rain, and anything seemed
better than going on doing nothing. So I started
“It wasn’t so easy, by
a long chalk! The rain had made the boughs mighty
slippery, and it was all I could do to keep a foothold,
but bit by bit I managed it, until at last there I
was level with the window.
“But then I was disappointed.
I was too far to the left. I could only see sideways
into the room. A bit of curtain, and a yard of
wallpaper was all I could command. Well, that
wasn’t any manner of good to me, but just as
I was going to give it up, and climb down ignominiously,
some one inside moved and threw his shadow on my little
bit of wall and, by gum, it was Whittington!
“After that, my blood was up.
I’d just got to get a look into that room.
It was up to me to figure out how. I noticed that
there was a long branch running out from the tree
in the right direction. If I could only swarm
about half-way along it, the proposition would be solved.
But it was mighty uncertain whether it would bear
my weight. I decided I’d just got to risk
that, and I started. Very cautiously, inch by
inch, I crawled along. The bough creaked and
swayed in a nasty fashion, and it didn’t do
to think of the drop below, but at last I got safely
to where I wanted to be.
“The room was medium-sized,
furnished in a kind of bare hygienic way. There
was a table with a lamp on it in the middle of the
room, and sitting at that table, facing towards me,
was Whittington right enough. He was talking
to a woman dressed as a hospital nurse. She was
sitting with her back to me, so I couldn’t see
her face. Although the blinds were up, the window
itself was shut, so I couldn’t catch a word of
what they said. Whittington seemed to be doing
all the talking, and the nurse just listened.
Now and then she nodded, and sometimes she’d
shake her head, as though she were answering questions.
He seemed very emphatic once or twice he
beat with his fist on the table. The rain had
stopped now, and the sky was clearing in that sudden
way it does.
“Presently, he seemed to get
to the end of what he was saying. He got up,
and so did she. He looked towards the window and
asked something I guess it was whether
it was raining. Anyway, she came right across
and looked out. Just then the moon came out from
behind the clouds. I was scared the woman would
catch sight of me, for I was full in the moonlight.
I tried to move back a bit. The jerk I gave was
too much for that rotten old branch. With an
almighty crash, down it came, and Julius P. Hersheimmer
“Oh, Julius,” breathed Tuppence, “how
exciting! Go on.”
“Well, luckily for me, I pitched
down into a good soft bed of earth but
it put me out of action for the time, sure enough.
The next thing I knew, I was lying in bed with a hospital
nurse (not Whittington’s one) on one side of
me, and a little black-bearded man with gold glasses,
and medical man written all over him, on the other.
He rubbed his hands together, and raised his eyebrows
as I stared at him. ‘Ah!’ he said.
’So our young friend is coming round again.
“I did the usual stunt.
Said: ‘What’s happened?’ And
‘Where am I?’ But I knew the answer to
the last well enough. There’s no moss growing
on my brain. ‘I think that’ll do
for the present, sister,’ said the little man,
and the nurse left the room in a sort of brisk well-trained
way. But I caught her handing me out a look of
deep curiosity as she passed through the door.
“That look of hers gave me an
idea. ‘Now then, doc,’ I said, and
tried to sit up in bed, but my right foot gave me
a nasty twinge as I did so. ‘A slight sprain,’
explained the doctor. ’Nothing serious.
You’ll be about again in a couple of days.’”
“I noticed you walked lame,” interpolated
Julius nodded, and continued:
“‘How did it happen?’
I asked again. He replied dryly. ’You
fell, with a considerable portion of one of my trees,
into one of my newly planted flower-beds.’
“I liked the man. He seemed
to have a sense of humour. I felt sure that he,
at least, was plumb straight. ‘Sure, doc,’
I said, ’I’m sorry about the tree, and
I guess the new bulbs will be on me. But perhaps
you’d like to know what I was doing in your
garden?’ ’I think the facts do call for
an explanation,’ he replied. ’Well,
to begin with, I wasn’t after the spoons.’
“He smiled. ’My first
theory. But I soon altered my mind. By the
way, you are an American, are you not?’ I told
him my name. ‘And you?’ ’I am
Dr. Hall, and this, as you doubtless know, is my private
“I didn’t know, but I
wasn’t going to put him wise. I was just
thankful for the information. I liked the man,
and I felt he was straight, but I wasn’t going
to give him the whole story. For one thing he
probably wouldn’t have believed it.
“I made up my mind in a flash.
‘Why, doctor,’ I said, ’I guess I
feel an almighty fool, but I owe it to you to let
you know that it wasn’t the Bill Sikes business
I was up to.’ Then I went on and mumbled
out something about a girl. I trotted out the
stern guardian business, and a nervous breakdown,
and finally explained that I had fancied I recognized
her among the patients at the home, hence my nocturnal
adventures. I guess it was just the kind of story
he was expecting. ‘Quite a romance,’
he said genially, when I’d finished. ‘Now,
doc,’ I went on, ’will you be frank with
me? Have you here now, or have you had here at
any time, a young girl called Jane Finn?’ He
repeated the name thoughtfully. ’Jane Finn?’
he said. ‘No.’
“I was chagrined, and I guess
I showed it. ‘You are sure?’ ’Quite
sure, Mr. Hersheimmer. It is an uncommon name,
and I should not have been likely to forget it.’
“Well, that was flat. It
laid me out for a space. I’d kind of hoped
my search was at an end. ‘That’s that,’
I said at last. ’Now, there’s another
matter. When I was hugging that darned branch
I thought I recognized an old friend of mine talking
to one of your nurses.’ I purposely didn’t
mention any name because, of course, Whittington might
be calling himself something quite different down here,
but the doctor answered at once. ‘Mr. Whittington,
perhaps?’ ‘That’s the fellow,’
I replied. ’What’s he doing down
here? Don’t tell me his nerves are
out of order?’
“Dr. Hall laughed. ’No.
He came down to see one of my nurses, Nurse Edith,
who is a niece of his.’ ‘Why, fancy
that!’ I exclaimed. ’Is he still
here?’ ‘No, he went back to town almost
immediately.’ ’What a pity!’
I ejaculated. ’But perhaps I could speak
to his niece Nurse Edith, did you say her
“But the doctor shook his head.
’I’m afraid that, too, is impossible.
Nurse Edith left with a patient to-night also.’
’I seem to be real unlucky,’ I remarked.
’Have you Mr. Whittington’s address in
town? I guess I’d like to look him up when
I get back.’ ’I don’t know his
address. I can write to Nurse Edith for it if
you like.’ I thanked him. ‘Don’t
say who it is wants it. I’d like to give
him a little surprise.’
“That was about all I could
do for the moment. Of course, if the girl was
really Whittington’s niece, she might be too
cute to fall into the trap, but it was worth trying.
Next thing I did was to write out a wire to Beresford
saying where I was, and that I was laid up with a sprained
foot, and telling him to come down if he wasn’t
busy. I had to be guarded in what I said.
However, I didn’t hear from him, and my foot
soon got all right. It was only ricked, not really
sprained, so to-day I said good-bye to the little
doctor chap, asked him to send me word if he heard
from Nurse Edith, and came right away back to town.
Say, Miss Tuppence, you’re looking mighty pale!”
“It’s Tommy,” said
Tuppence. “What can have happened to him?”
“Buck up, I guess he’s
all right really. Why shouldn’t he be?
See here, it was a foreign-looking guy he went off
after. Maybe they’ve gone abroad to
Poland, or something like that?”
Tuppence shook her head.
“He couldn’t without passports
and things. Besides I’ve seen that man,
Boris Something, since. He dined with Mrs. Vandemeyer
“I forgot. Of course you don’t know
said Julius, and gave vent to his favourite expression.
“Put me wise.”
Tuppence thereupon related the events
of the last two days. Julius’s astonishment
and admiration were unbounded.
“Bully for you! Fancy you
a menial. It just tickles me to death!”
Then he added seriously: “But say now,
I don’t like it, Miss Tuppence, I sure don’t.
You’re just as plucky as they make ’em,
but I wish you’d keep right out of this.
These crooks we’re up against would as soon croak
a girl as a man any day.”
“Do you think I’m afraid?”
said Tuppence indignantly, valiantly repressing memories
of the steely glitter in Mrs. Vandemeyer’s eyes.
“I said before you were darned
plucky. But that doesn’t alter facts.”
“Oh, bother me!”
said Tuppence impatiently. “Let’s
think about what can have happened to Tommy.
I’ve written to Mr. Carter about it,” she
added, and told him the gist of her letter.
Julius nodded gravely.
“I guess that’s good as
far as it goes. But it’s for us to get busy
and do something.”
“What can we do?” asked Tuppence, her
“I guess we’d better get
on the track of Boris. You say he’s been
to your place. Is he likely to come again?”
“He might. I really don’t know.”
“I see. Well, I guess I’d
better buy a car, a slap-up one, dress as a chauffeur
and hang about outside. Then if Boris comes, you
could make some kind of signal, and I’d trail
him. How’s that?”
“Splendid, but he mightn’t come for weeks.”
“We’ll have to chance that. I’m
glad you like the plan.” He rose.
“Where are you going?”
“To buy the car, of course,”
replied Julius, surprised. “What make do
you like? I guess you’ll do some riding
in it before we’ve finished.”
“Oh,” said Tuppence faintly, “I
like Rolls-Royces, but ”
“Sure,” agreed Julius. “What
you say goes. I’ll get one.”
“But you can’t at once,” cried Tuppence.
“People wait ages sometimes.”
“Little Julius doesn’t,”
affirmed Mr. Hersheimmer. “Don’t you
worry any. I’ll be round in the car in
half an hour.”
Tuppence got up.
“You’re awfully good,
Julius. But I can’t help feeling that it’s
rather a forlorn hope. I’m really pinning
my faith to Mr. Carter.”
“Then I shouldn’t.”
“Just an idea of mine.”
“Oh; but he must do something.
There’s no one else. By the way, I forgot
to tell you of a queer thing that happened this morning.”
And she narrated her encounter with
Sir James Peel Edgerton. Julius was interested.
“What did the guy mean, do you think?”
“I don’t quite know,”
said Tuppence meditatively. “But I think
that, in an ambiguous, legal, without prejudishish
lawyer’s way, he was trying to warn me.”
“Why should he?”
“I don’t know,”
confessed Tuppence. “But he looked kind,
and simply awfully clever. I wouldn’t mind
going to him and telling him everything.”
Somewhat to her surprise, Julius negatived the idea
“See here,” he said, “we
don’t want any lawyers mixed up in this.
That guy couldn’t help us any.”
“Well, I believe he could,” reiterated
“Don’t you think it. So long.
I’ll be back in half an hour.”
Thirty-five minutes had elapsed when
Julius returned. He took Tuppence by the arm,
and walked her to the window.
“There she is.”
“Oh!” said Tuppence with
a note of reverence in her voice, as she gazed down
at the enormous car.
“She’s some pace-maker, I can tell you,”
said Julius complacently.
“How did you get it?” gasped Tuppence.
“She was just being sent home to some bigwig.”
“I went round to his house,”
said Julius. “I said that I reckoned a car
like that was worth every penny of twenty thousand
dollars. Then I told him that it was worth just
about fifty thousand dollars to me if he’d get
“Well?” said Tuppence, intoxicated.
“Well,” returned Julius, “he got
out, that’s all.”