Friday and Saturday passed uneventfully.
Tuppence had received a brief answer to her appeal
from Mr. Carter. In it he pointed out that the
Young Adventurers had undertaken the work at their
own risk, and had been fully warned of the dangers.
If anything had happened to Tommy he regretted it
deeply, but he could do nothing.
This was cold comfort. Somehow,
without Tommy, all the savour went out of the adventure,
and, for the first time, Tuppence felt doubtful of
success. While they had been together she had
never questioned it for a minute. Although she
was accustomed to take the lead, and to pride herself
on her quick-wittedness, in reality she had relied
upon Tommy more than she realized at the time.
There was something so eminently sober and clear-headed
about him, his common sense and soundness of vision
were so unvarying, that without him Tuppence felt much
like a rudderless ship. It was curious that Julius,
who was undoubtedly much cleverer than Tommy, did
not give her the same feeling of support. She
had accused Tommy of being a pessimist, and it is certain
that he always saw the disadvantages and difficulties
which she herself was optimistically given to overlooking,
but nevertheless she had really relied a good deal
on his judgment. He might be slow, but he was
It seemed to the girl that, for the
first time, she realized the sinister character of
the mission they had undertaken so lightheartedly.
It had begun like a page of romance. Now, shorn
of its glamour, it seemed to be turning to grim reality.
Tommy that was all that mattered.
Many times in the day Tuppence blinked the tears out
of her eyes resolutely. “Little fool,”
she would apostrophize herself, “don’t
snivel. Of course you’re fond of him.
You’ve known him all your life. But there’s
no need to be sentimental about it.”
In the meantime, nothing more was
seen of Boris. He did not come to the flat, and
Julius and the car waited in vain. Tuppence gave
herself over to new meditations. Whilst admitting
the truth of Julius’s objections, she had nevertheless
not entirely relinquished the idea of appealing to
Sir James Peel Edgerton. Indeed, she had gone
so far as to look up his address in the Red Book.
Had he meant to warn her that day? If so, why?
Surely she was at least entitled to demand an explanation.
He had looked at her so kindly. Perhaps he might
tell them something concerning Mrs. Vandemeyer which
might lead to a clue to Tommy’s whereabouts.
Anyway, Tuppence decided, with her
usual shake of the shoulders, it was worth trying,
and try it she would. Sunday was her afternoon
out. She would meet Julius, persuade him to her
point of view, and they would beard the lion in his
When the day arrived Julius needed
a considerable amount of persuading, but Tuppence
held firm. “It can do no harm,” was
what she always came back to. In the end Julius
gave in, and they proceeded in the car to Carlton
The door was opened by an irreproachable
butler. Tuppence felt a little nervous.
After all, perhaps it was colossal cheek on her
part. She had decided not to ask if Sir James
was “at home,” but to adopt a more personal
“Will you ask Sir James if I
can see him for a few minutes? I have an important
message for him.”
The butler retired, returning a moment or two later.
“Sir James will see you. Will you step
He ushered them into a room at the
back of the house, furnished as a library. The
collection of books was a magnificent one, and Tuppence
noticed that all one wall was devoted to works on crime
and criminology. There were several deep-padded
leather arm-chairs, and an old-fashioned open hearth.
In the window was a big roll-top desk strewn with papers
at which the master of the house was sitting.
He rose as they entered.
“You have a message for me?
Ah” he recognized Tuppence with a
smile “it’s you, is it?
Brought a message from Mrs. Vandemeyer, I suppose?”
“Not exactly,” said Tuppence.
“In fact, I’m afraid I only said that to
be quite sure of getting in. Oh, by the way, this
is Mr. Hersheimmer, Sir James Peel Edgerton.”
“Pleased to meet you,”
said the American, shooting out a hand.
“Won’t you both sit down?”
asked Sir James. He drew forward two chairs.
“Sir James,” said Tuppence,
plunging boldly, “I dare say you will think
it is most awful cheek of me coming here like this.
Because, of course, it’s nothing whatever to
do with you, and then you’re a very important
person, and of course Tommy and I are very unimportant.”
She paused for breath.
“Tommy?” queried Sir James,
looking across at the American.
“No, that’s Julius,”
explained Tuppence. “I’m rather nervous,
and that makes me tell it badly. What I really
want to know is what you meant by what you said to
me the other day? Did you mean to warn me against
Mrs. Vandemeyer? You did, didn’t you?”
“My dear young lady, as far
as I recollect I only mentioned that there were equally
good situations to be obtained elsewhere.”
“Yes, I know. But it was a hint, wasn’t
“Well, perhaps it was,” admitted Sir James
“Well, I want to know more. I want to know
just why you gave me a hint.”
Sir James smiled at her earnestness.
“Suppose the lady brings a libel
action against me for defamation of character?”
“Of course,” said Tuppence.
“I know lawyers are always dreadfully careful.
But can’t we say ‘without prejudice’
first, and then say just what we want to.”
“Well,” said Sir James,
still smiling, “without prejudice, then, if I
had a young sister forced to earn her living, I should
not like to see her in Mrs. Vandemeyer’s service.
I felt it incumbent on me just to give you a hint.
It is no place for a young and inexperienced girl.
That is all I can tell you.”
“I see,” said Tuppence
thoughtfully. “Thank you very much.
But I’m not really inexperienced, you know.
I knew perfectly that she was a bad lot when I went
there as a matter of fact that’s why
I went ” She broke off, seeing
some bewilderment on the lawyer’s face, and went
on: “I think perhaps I’d better tell
you the whole story, Sir James. I’ve a
sort of feeling that you’d know in a minute if
I didn’t tell the truth, and so you might as
well know all about it from the beginning. What
do you think, Julius?”
“As you’re bent on it,
I’d go right ahead with the facts,” replied
the American, who had so far sat in silence.
“Yes, tell me all about it,”
said Sir James. “I want to know who Tommy
Thus encouraged Tuppence plunged into
her tale, and the lawyer listened with close attention.
“Very interesting,” he
said, when she finished. “A great deal of
what you tell me, child, is already known to me.
I’ve had certain theories of my own about this
Jane Finn. You’ve done extraordinarily well
so far, but it’s rather too bad of what
do you know him as? Mr. Carter to pitchfork
you two young things into an affair of this kind.
By the way, where did Mr. Hersheimmer come in originally?
You didn’t make that clear?”
Julius answered for himself.
“I’m Jane’s first
cousin,” he explained, returning the lawyer’s
“Oh, Sir James,” broke
out Tuppence, “what do you think has become of
lawyer rose, and paced slowly up and down. “When
you arrived, young lady, I was just packing up my
traps. Going to Scotland by the night train for
a few days’ fishing. But there are different
kinds of fishing. I’ve a good mind to stay,
and see if we can’t get on the track of that
“Oh!” Tuppence clasped her hands ecstatically.
“All the same, as I said before,
it’s too bad of of Carter to set you
two babies on a job like this. Now, don’t
get offended, Miss er ”
“Cowley. Prudence Cowley.
But my friends call me Tuppence.”
“Well, Miss Tuppence, then,
as I’m certainly going to be a friend. Don’t
be offended because I think you’re young.
Youth is a failing only too easily outgrown.
Now, about this young Tommy of yours ”
“Yes.” Tuppence clasped her hands.
“Frankly, things look bad for
him. He’s been butting in somewhere where
he wasn’t wanted. Not a doubt of it.
But don’t give up hope.”
“And you really will help us?
There, Julius! He didn’t want me to come,”
she added by way of explanation.
“H’m,” said the
lawyer, favouring Julius with another keen glance.
“And why was that?”
“I reckoned it would be no good
worrying you with a petty little business like this.”
“I see.” He paused
a moment. “This petty little business, as
you call it, bears directly on a very big business,
bigger perhaps than either you or Miss Tuppence know.
If this boy is alive, he may have very valuable information
to give us. Therefore, we must find him.”
“Yes, but how?” cried
Tuppence. “I’ve tried to think of
Sir James smiled.
“And yet there’s one person
quite near at hand who in all probability knows where
he is, or at all events where he is likely to be.”
“Who is that?” asked Tuppence, puzzled.
“Yes, but she’d never tell us.”
“Ah, that is where I come in.
I think it quite likely that I shall be able to make
Mrs. Vandemeyer tell me what I want to know.”
“How?” demanded Tuppence, opening her
eyes very wide.
“Oh, just by asking her questions,”
replied Sir James easily. “That’s
the way we do it, you know.”
He tapped with his finger on the table,
and Tuppence felt again the intense power that radiated
from the man.
“And if she won’t tell?” asked Julius
“I think she will. I have
one or two powerful levers. Still, in that unlikely
event, there is always the possibility of bribery.”
“Sure. And that’s
where I come in!” cried Julius, bringing his
fist down on the table with a bang. “You
can count on me, if necessary, for one million dollars.
Yes, sir, one million dollars!”
Sir James sat down and subjected Julius
to a long scrutiny.
“Mr. Hersheimmer,” he
said at last, “that is a very large sum.”
“I guess it’ll have to
be. These aren’t the kind of folk to offer
“At the present rate of exchange
it amounts to considerably over two hundred and fifty
“That’s so. Maybe
you think I’m talking through my hat, but I can
deliver the goods all right, with enough over to spare
for your fee.”
Sir James flushed slightly.
“There is no question of a fee,
Mr. Hersheimmer. I am not a private detective.”
“Sorry. I guess I was just
a mite hasty, but I’ve been feeling bad about
this money question. I wanted to offer a big reward
for news of Jane some days ago, but your crusted institution
of Scotland Yard advised me against it. Said
it was undesirable.”
“They were probably right,” said Sir James
“But it’s all O.K. about
Julius,” put in Tuppence. “He’s
not pulling your leg. He’s got simply pots
“The old man piled it up in
style,” explained Julius. “Now, let’s
get down to it. What’s your idea?”
Sir James considered for a moment or two.
“There is no time to be lost.
The sooner we strike the better.” He turned
to Tuppence. “Is Mrs. Vandemeyer dining
out to-night, do you know?”
“Yes, I think so, but she will
not be out late. Otherwise, she would have taken
“Good. I will call upon
her about ten o’clock. What time are you
supposed to return?”
“About nine-thirty or ten, but I could go back
“You must not do that on any
account. It might arouse suspicion if you did
not stay out till the usual time. Be back by nine-thirty.
I will arrive at ten. Mr. Hersheimmer will wait
below in a taxi perhaps.”
“He’s got a new Rolls-Royce
car,” said Tuppence with vicarious pride.
“Even better. If I succeed
in obtaining the address from her, we can go there
at once, taking Mrs. Vandemeyer with us if necessary.
“Yes.” Tuppence rose
to her feet with a skip of delight. “Oh,
I feel so much better!”
“Don’t build on it too much, Miss Tuppence.
Julius turned to the lawyer.
“Say, then. I’ll
call for you in the car round about nine-thirty.
Is that right?”
“Perhaps that will be the best
plan. It would be unnecessary to have two cars
waiting about. Now, Miss Tuppence, my advice to
you is to go and have a good dinner, a really
good one, mind. And don’t think ahead more
than you can help.”
He shook hands with them both, and
a moment later they were outside.
“Isn’t he a duck?”
inquired Tuppence ecstatically, as she skipped down
the steps. “Oh, Julius, isn’t he just
“Well, I allow he seems to be
the goods all right. And I was wrong about its
being useless to go to him. Say, shall we go right
away back to the Ritz?”
“I must walk a bit, I think.
I feel so excited. Drop me in the park, will
you? Unless you’d like to come too?”
“I want to get some petrol,”
he explained. “And send off a cable or
“All right. I’ll
meet you at the Ritz at seven. We’ll have
to dine upstairs. I can’t show myself in
these glad rags.”
“Sure. I’ll get Felix
help me choose the menu. He’s some head
waiter, that. So long.”
Tuppence walked briskly along towards
the Serpentine, first glancing at her watch.
It was nearly six o’clock. She remembered
that she had had no tea, but felt too excited to be
conscious of hunger. She walked as far as Kensington
Gardens and then slowly retraced her steps, feeling
infinitely better for the fresh air and exercise.
It was not so easy to follow Sir James’s advice,
and put the possible events of the evening out of
her head. As she drew nearer and nearer to Hyde
Park corner, the temptation to return to South Audley
Mansions was almost irresistible.
At any rate, she decided, it would
do no harm just to go and look at the building.
Perhaps, then, she could resign herself to waiting
patiently for ten o’clock.
South Audley Mansions looked exactly
the same as usual. What Tuppence had expected
she hardly knew, but the sight of its red brick stolidity
slightly assuaged the growing and entirely unreasonable
uneasiness that possessed her. She was just turning
away when she heard a piercing whistle, and the faithful
Albert came running from the building to join her.
Tuppence frowned. It was no part
of the programme to have attention called to her presence
in the neighbourhood, but Albert was purple with suppressed
“I say, miss, she’s a-going!”
“Who’s going?” demanded Tuppence
“The crook. Ready Rita.
Mrs. Vandemeyer. She’s a-packing up, and
she’s just sent down word for me to get her
“What?” Tuppence clutched his arm.
“It’s the truth, miss. I thought
maybe as you didn’t know about it.”
“Albert,” cried Tuppence,
“you’re a brick. If it hadn’t
been for you we’d have lost her.”
Albert flushed with pleasure at this tribute.
“There’s no time to lose,”
said Tuppence, crossing the road. “I’ve
got to stop her. At all costs I must keep her
here until ” She broke off.
“Albert, there’s a telephone here, isn’t
The boy shook his head.
“The flats mostly have their
own, miss. But there’s a box just round
“Go to it then, at once, and
ring up the Ritz Hotel. Ask for Mr. Hersheimmer,
and when you get him tell him to get Sir James and
come on at once, as Mrs. Vandemeyer is trying to hook
it. If you can’t get him, ring up Sir James
Peel Edgerton, you’ll find his number in the
book, and tell him what’s happening. You
won’t forget the names, will you?”
Albert repeated them glibly.
“You trust to me, miss, it’ll be all right.
But what about you? Aren’t you afraid to
trust yourself with her?”
“No, no, that’s all right.
But go and telephone. Be quick.”
Drawing a long breath, Tuppence entered
the Mansions and ran up to the door of N.
How she was to detain Mrs. Vandemeyer until the two
men arrived, she did not know, but somehow or other
it had to be done, and she must accomplish the task
single-handed. What had occasioned this precipitate
departure? Did Mrs. Vandemeyer suspect her?
Speculations were idle. Tuppence
pressed the bell firmly. She might learn something
from the cook.
Nothing happened and, after waiting
some minutes, Tuppence pressed the bell again, keeping
her finger on the button for some little while.
At last she heard footsteps inside, and a moment later
Mrs. Vandemeyer herself opened the door. She
lifted her eyebrows at the sight of the girl.
“I had a touch of toothache,
ma’am,” said Tuppence glibly. “So
thought it better to come home and have a quiet evening.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer said nothing, but
she drew back and let Tuppence pass into the hall.
“How unfortunate for you,”
she said coldly. “You had better go to bed.”
“Oh, I shall be all right in
the kitchen, ma’am. Cook will ”
“Cook is out,” said Mrs.
Vandemeyer, in a rather disagreeable tone. “I
sent her out. So you see you had better go to
Suddenly Tuppence felt afraid.
There was a ring in Mrs. Vandemeyer’s voice
that she did not like at all. Also, the other
woman was slowly edging her up the passage. Tuppence
turned at bay.
“I don’t want ”
Then, in a flash, a rim of cold steel
touched her temple, and Mrs. Vandemeyer’s voice
rose cold and menacing:
“You damned little fool!
Do you think I don’t know? No, don’t
answer. If you struggle or cry out, I’ll
shoot you like a dog.”
The rim of steel pressed a little
harder against the girl’s temple.
“Now then, march,” went
on Mrs. Vandemeyer. “This way into
my room. In a minute, when I’ve done with
you, you’ll go to bed as I told you to.
And you’ll sleep oh yes, my little
spy, you’ll sleep all right!”
There was a sort of hideous geniality
in the last words which Tuppence did not at all like.
For the moment there was nothing to be done, and she
walked obediently into Mrs. Vandemeyer’s bedroom.
The pistol never left her forehead. The room
was in a state of wild disorder, clothes were flung
about right and left, a suit-case and a hat box, half-packed,
stood in the middle of the floor.
Tuppence pulled herself together with
an effort. Her voice shook a little, but she
spoke out bravely.
“Come now,” she said.
“This is nonsense. You can’t shoot
me. Why, every one in the building would hear
“I’d risk that,”
said Mrs. Vandemeyer cheerfully. “But, as
long as you don’t sing out for help, you’re
all right and I don’t think you will.
You’re a clever girl. You deceived me
all right. I hadn’t a suspicion of you!
So I’ve no doubt that you understand perfectly
well that this is where I’m on top and you’re
underneath. Now then sit on the bed.
Put your hands above your head, and if you value your
life don’t move them.”
Tuppence obeyed passively. Her
good sense told her that there was nothing else to
do but accept the situation. If she shrieked for
help there was very little chance of anyone hearing
her, whereas there was probably quite a good chance
of Mrs. Vandemeyer’s shooting her. In the
meantime, every minute of delay gained was valuable.
Mrs. Vandemeyer laid down the revolver
on the edge of the washstand within reach of her hand,
and, still eyeing Tuppence like a lynx in case the
girl should attempt to move, she took a little stoppered
bottle from its place on the marble and poured some
of its contents into a glass which she filled up with
“What’s that?” asked Tuppence sharply.
“Something to make you sleep soundly.”
Tuppence paled a little.
“Are you going to poison me?” she asked
in a whisper.
“Perhaps,” said Mrs. Vandemeyer, smiling
“Then I shan’t drink it,”
said Tuppence firmly. “I’d much rather
be shot. At any rate that would make a row, and
some one might hear it. But I won’t be
killed off quietly like a lamb.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer stamped her foot.
“Don’t be a little fool!
Do you really think I want a hue and cry for murder
out after me? If you’ve any sense at all,
you’ll realize that poisoning you wouldn’t
suit my book at all. It’s a sleeping draught,
that’s all. You’ll wake up to-morrow
morning none the worse. I simply don’t
want the bother of tying you up and gagging you.
That’s the alternative and you won’t
like it, I can tell you! I can be very rough
if I choose. So drink this down like a good girl,
and you’ll be none the worse for it.”
In her heart of hearts Tuppence believed
her. The arguments she had adduced rang true.
It was a simple and effective method of getting her
out of the way for the time being. Nevertheless,
the girl did not take kindly to the idea of being
tamely put to sleep without as much as one bid for
freedom. She felt that once Mrs. Vandemeyer gave
them the slip, the last hope of finding Tommy would
Tuppence was quick in her mental processes.
All these reflections passed through her mind in a
flash, and she saw where a chance, a very problematical
chance, lay, and she determined to risk all in one
Accordingly, she lurched suddenly
off the bed and fell on her knees before Mrs. Vandemeyer,
clutching her skirts frantically.
“I don’t believe it,”
she moaned. “It’s poison I
know it’s poison. Oh, don’t make
me drink it” her voice rose to a shriek “don’t
make me drink it!”
Mrs. Vandemeyer, glass in hand, looked
down with a curling lip at this sudden collapse.
“Get up, you little idiot!
Don’t go on drivelling there. How you ever
had the nerve to play your part as you did I can’t
think.” She stamped her foot. “Get
up, I say.”
But Tuppence continued to cling and
sob, interjecting her sobs with incoherent appeals
for mercy. Every minute gained was to the good.
Moreover, as she grovelled, she moved imperceptibly
nearer to her objective.
Mrs. Vandemeyer gave a sharp impatient
exclamation, and jerked the girl to her knees.
“Drink it at once!” Imperiously
she pressed the glass to the girl’s lips.
Tuppence gave one last despairing moan.
“You swear it won’t hurt me?” she
“Of course it won’t hurt you. Don’t
be a fool.”
“Will you swear it?”
“Yes, yes,” said the other impatiently.
“I swear it.”
Tuppence raised a trembling left hand to the glass.
“Very well.” Her mouth opened meekly.
Mrs. Vandemeyer gave a sigh of relief,
off her guard for the moment. Then, quick as
a flash, Tuppence jerked the glass upward as hard as
she could. The fluid in it splashed into Mrs.
Vandemeyer’s face, and during her momentary
gasp, Tuppence’s right hand shot out and grasped
the revolver where it lay on the edge of the washstand.
The next moment she had sprung back a pace, and the
revolver pointed straight at Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
heart, with no unsteadiness in the hand that held it.
In the moment of victory, Tuppence
betrayed a somewhat unsportsmanlike triumph.
“Now who’s on top and who’s underneath?”
The other’s face was convulsed
with rage. For a minute Tuppence thought she
was going to spring upon her, which would have placed
the girl in an unpleasant dilemma, since she meant
to draw the line at actually letting off the revolver.
However, with an effort Mrs. Vandemeyer controlled
herself, and at last a slow evil smile crept over her
“Not a fool, then, after all!
You did that well, girl. But you shall pay for
it oh, yes, you shall pay for it! I
have a long memory!”
“I’m surprised you should
have been gulfed so easily,” said Tuppence scornfully.
“Did you really think I was the kind of girl
to roll about on the floor and whine for mercy?”
“You may do some day!” said
the other significantly.
The cold malignity of her manner sent
an unpleasant chill down Tuppence’s spine, but
she was not going to give in to it.
“Supposing we sit down,”
she said pleasantly. “Our present attitude
is a little melodramatic. No not on
the bed. Draw a chair up to the table, that’s
right. Now I’ll sit opposite you with the
revolver in front of me just in case of
accidents. Splendid. Now, let’s talk.”
“What about?” said Mrs. Vandemeyer sullenly.
Tuppence eyed her thoughtfully for
a minute. She was remembering several things.
Boris’s words, “I believe you would sell us!”
and her answer, “The price would have to be
enormous,” given lightly, it was true, yet might
not there be a substratum of truth in it? Long
ago, had not Whittington asked: “Who’s
been blabbing? Rita?” Would Rita Vandemeyer
prove to be the weak spot in the armour of Mr. Brown?
Keeping her eyes fixed steadily on
the other’s face, Tuppence replied quietly:
Mrs. Vandemeyer started. Clearly, the reply was
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll tell you. You
said just now that you had a long memory. A long
memory isn’t half as useful as a long purse!
I dare say it relieves your feelings a good deal to
plan out all sorts of dreadful things to do to me,
but is that practical? Revenge is very unsatisfactory.
Every one always says so. But money” Tuppence
warmed to her pet creed “well, there’s
nothing unsatisfactory about money, is there?”
“Do you think,” said Mrs.
Vandemeyer scornfully, “that I am the kind of
woman to sell my friends?”
“Yes,” said Tuppence promptly.
“If the price was big enough.”
“A paltry hundred pounds or so!”
“No,” said Tuppence. “I should
suggest a hundred thousand!”
Her economical spirit did not permit
her to mention the whole million dollars suggested
A flush crept over Mrs. Vandemeyer’s face.
“What did you say?” she
asked, her fingers playing nervously with a brooch
on her breast. In that moment Tuppence knew that
the fish was hooked, and for the first time she felt
a horror of her own money-loving spirit. It gave
her a dreadful sense of kinship to the woman fronting
“A hundred thousand pounds,” repeated
The light died out of Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
eyes. She leaned back in her chair.
“Bah!” she said. “You haven’t
“No,” admitted Tuppence, “I haven’t but
I know some one who has.”
“A friend of mine.”
“Must be a millionaire,” remarked Mrs.
“As a matter of fact he is.
He’s an American. He’ll pay you that
without a murmur. You can take it from me that
it’s a perfectly genuine proposition.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer sat up again.
“I’m inclined to believe you,” she
There was silence between them for
some time, then Mrs. Vandemeyer looked up.
“What does he want to know, this friend of yours?”
Tuppence went through a momentary
struggle, but it was Julius’s money, and his
interests must come first.
“He wants to know where Jane Finn is,”
she said boldly.
Mrs. Vandemeyer showed no surprise.
“I’m not sure where she is at the present
moment,” she replied.
“But you could find out?”
“Oh, yes,” returned Mrs.
Vandemeyer carelessly. “There would be no
difficulty about that.”
voice shook a little “there’s
a boy, a friend of mine. I’m afraid something’s
happened to him, through your pal Boris.”
“What’s his name?”
“Never heard of him. But
I’ll ask Boris. He’ll tell me anything
“Thank you.” Tuppence
felt a terrific rise in her spirits. It impelled
her to more audacious efforts. “There’s
one thing more.”
Tuppence leaned forward and lowered her voice.
“Who is Mr. Brown?”
Her quick eyes saw the sudden paling
of the beautiful face. With an effort Mrs. Vandemeyer
pulled herself together and tried to resume her former
manner. But the attempt was a mere parody.
She shrugged her shoulders.
“You can’t have learnt
much about us if you don’t know that nobody
knows who Mr. Brown is....”
“You do,” said Tuppence quietly.
Again the colour deserted the other’s face.
“What makes you think that?”
“I don’t know,” said the girl truthfully.
“But I’m sure.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer stared in front of her for a long
“Yes,” she said hoarsely,
at last, “I know. I was beautiful, you
see very beautiful ”
“You are still,” said Tuppence with admiration.
Mrs. Vandemeyer shook her head.
There was a strange gleam in her electric-blue eyes.
“Not beautiful enough,”
she said in a soft dangerous voice. “Not beautiful enough!
And sometimes, lately, I’ve been afraid....
It’s dangerous to know too much!” She leaned
forward across the table. “Swear that my
name shan’t be brought into it that
no one shall ever know.”
“I swear it. And, once’s he
caught, you’ll be out of danger.”
A terrified look swept across Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
“Shall I? Shall I ever
be?” She clutched Tuppence’s arm.
“You’re sure about the money?”
“When shall I have it? There must be no
“This friend of mine will be
here presently. He may have to send cables, or
something like that. But there won’t be
any delay he’s a terrific hustler.”
A resolute look settled on Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
“I’ll do it. It’s
a great sum of money, and besides” she
gave a curious smile “it is not wise
to throw over a woman like me!”
For a moment or two, she remained
smiling, and lightly tapping her fingers on the table.
Suddenly she started, and her face blanched.
“What was that?”
“I heard nothing.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer gazed round her fearfully.
“If there should be some one listening ”
“Nonsense. Who could there be?”
“Even the walls might have ears,”
whispered the other. “I tell you I’m
frightened. You don’t know him!”
“Think of the hundred thousand pounds,”
said Tuppence soothingly.
Mrs. Vandemeyer passed her tongue over her dried lips.
“You don’t know him,” she reiterated
hoarsely. “He’s ah!”
With a shriek of terror she sprang
to her feet. Her outstretched hand pointed over
Tuppence’s head. Then she swayed to the
ground in a dead faint.
Tuppence looked round to see what had startled her.
In the doorway were Sir James Peel Edgerton and Julius