Sir James brushed past Julius and hurriedly bent
over the fallen woman.
“Heart,” he said sharply.
“Seeing us so suddenly must have given her a
shock. Brandy and quickly, or she’ll
slip through our fingers.”
Julius hurried to the washstand.
“Not there,” said Tuppence
over her shoulder. “In the tantalus in the
dining-room. Second door down the passage.”
Between them Sir James and Tuppence
lifted Mrs. Vandemeyer and carried her to the bed.
There they dashed water on her face, but with no result.
The lawyer fingered her pulse.
“Touch and go,” he muttered.
“I wish that young fellow would hurry up with
At that moment Julius re-entered the
room, carrying a glass half full of the spirit which
he handed to Sir James. While Tuppence lifted
her head the lawyer tried to force a little of the
spirit between her closed lips. Finally the woman
opened her eyes feebly. Tuppence held the glass
to her lips.
Mrs. Vandemeyer complied. The
brandy brought the colour back to her white cheeks,
and revived her in a marvellous fashion. She tried
to sit up then fell back with a groan,
her hand to her side.
“It’s my heart,” she whispered.
“I mustn’t talk.”
She lay back with closed eyes.
Sir James kept his finger on her wrist
a minute longer, then withdrew it with a nod.
“She’ll do now.”
All three moved away, and stood together
talking in low voices. One and all were conscious
of a certain feeling of anticlimax. Clearly any
scheme for cross-questioning the lady was out of the
question for the moment. For the time being they
were baffled, and could do nothing.
Tuppence related how Mrs. Vandemeyer
had declared herself willing to disclose the identity
of Mr. Brown, and how she had consented to discover
and reveal to them the whereabouts of Jane Finn.
Julius was congratulatory.
“That’s all right, Miss
Tuppence. Splendid! I guess that hundred
thousand pounds will look just as good in the morning
to the lady as it did over night. There’s
nothing to worry over. She won’t speak without
the cash anyway, you bet!”
There was certainly a good deal of
common sense in this, and Tuppence felt a little comforted.
“What you say is true,”
said Sir James meditatively. “I must confess,
however, that I cannot help wishing we had not interrupted
at the minute we did. Still, it cannot be helped,
it is only a matter of waiting until the morning.”
He looked across at the inert figure
on the bed. Mrs. Vandemeyer lay perfectly passive
with closed eyes. He shook his head.
“Well,” said Tuppence,
with an attempt at cheerfulness, “we must wait
until the morning, that’s all. But I don’t
think we ought to leave the flat.”
“What about leaving that bright boy of yours
“Albert? And suppose she
came round again and hooked it. Albert couldn’t
“I guess she won’t want
to make tracks away from the dollars.”
“She might. She seemed very frightened
of ‘Mr. Brown.’”
“What? Real plumb scared of him?”
“Yes. She looked round and said even walls
“Maybe she meant a dictaphone,” said
Julius with interest.
“Miss Tuppence is right,”
said Sir James quietly. “We must not leave
the flat if only for Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
Julius stared at him.
“You think he’d get after
her? Between now and to-morrow morning. How
could he know, even?”
“You forget your own suggestion
of a dictaphone,” said Sir James dryly.
“We have a very formidable adversary. I
believe, if we exercise all due care, that there is
a very good chance of his being delivered into our
hands. But we must neglect no precaution.
We have an important witness, but she must be safeguarded.
I would suggest that Miss Tuppence should go to bed,
and that you and I, Mr. Hersheimmer, should share the
Tuppence was about to protest, but
happening to glance at the bed she saw Mrs. Vandemeyer,
her eyes half-open, with such an expression of mingled
fear and malevolence on her face that it quite froze
the words on her lips.
For a moment she wondered whether
the faint and the heart attack had been a gigantic
sham, but remembering the deadly pallor she could hardly
credit the supposition. As she looked the expression
disappeared as by magic, and Mrs. Vandemeyer lay inert
and motionless as before. For a moment the girl
fancied she must have dreamt it. But she determined
nevertheless to be on the alert.
“Well,” said Julius, “I
guess we’d better make a move out of here any
The others fell in with his suggestion.
Sir James again felt Mrs. Vandemeyer’s pulse.
he said in a low voice to Tuppence. “She’ll
be absolutely all right after a night’s rest.”
The girl hesitated a moment by the
bed. The intensity of the expression she had
surprised had impressed her powerfully. Mrs. Vandemeyer
lifted her lids. She seemed to be struggling
to speak. Tuppence bent over her.
“Don’t leave ”
she seemed unable to proceed, murmuring something
that sounded like “sleepy.” Then she
Tuppence bent lower still. It was only a breath.
“Mr. Brown ”
The voice stopped.
But the half-closed eyes seemed still to send an agonized
Moved by a sudden impulse, the girl said quickly:
“I shan’t leave the flat. I shall
sit up all night.”
A flash of relief showed before the
lids descended once more. Apparently Mrs. Vandemeyer
slept. But her words had awakened a new uneasiness
in Tuppence. What had she meant by that low murmur:
“Mr. Brown?” Tuppence caught herself nervously
looking over her shoulder. The big wardrobe loomed
up in a sinister fashion before her eyes. Plenty
of room for a man to hide in that.... Half-ashamed
of herself, Tuppence pulled it open and looked inside.
No one of course! She stooped down
and looked under the bed. There was no other
Tuppence gave her familiar shake of
the shoulders. It was absurd, this giving way
to nerves! Slowly she went out of the room.
Julius and Sir James were talking in a low voice.
Sir James turned to her.
“Lock the door on the outside,
please, Miss Tuppence, and take out the key.
There must be no chance of anyone entering that room.”
The gravity of his manner impressed
them, and Tuppence felt less ashamed of her attack
“Say,” remarked Julius
suddenly, “there’s Tuppence’s bright
boy. I guess I’d better go down and ease
his young mind. That’s some lad, Tuppence.”
“How did you get in, by the
way?” asked Tuppence suddenly. “I
forgot to ask.”
“Well, Albert got me on the
phone all right. I ran round for Sir James here,
and we came right on. The boy was on the look
out for us, and was just a mite worried about what
might have happened to you. He’d been listening
outside the door of the flat, but couldn’t hear
anything. Anyhow he suggested sending us up in
the coal lift instead of ringing the bell. And
sure enough we landed in the scullery and came right
along to find you. Albert’s still below,
and must be just hopping mad by this time.”
With which Julius departed abruptly.
“Now then, Miss Tuppence,”
said Sir James, “you know this place better
than I do. Where do you suggest we should take
up our quarters?”
Tuppence considered for a moment or two.
“I think Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
boudoir would be the most comfortable,” she
said at last, and led the way there.
Sir James looked round approvingly.
“This will do very well, and
now, my dear young lady, do go to bed and get some
Tuppence shook her head resolutely.
“I couldn’t, thank you,
Sir James. I should dream of Mr. Brown all night!”
“But you’ll be so tired, child.”
“No, I shan’t. I’d rather stay
The lawyer gave in.
Julius reappeared some minutes later,
having reassured Albert and rewarded him lavishly
for his services. Having in his turn failed to
persuade Tuppence to go to bed, he said decisively:
“At any rate, you’ve got
to have something to eat right away. Where’s
Tuppence directed him, and he returned
in a few minutes with a cold pie and three plates.
After a hearty meal, the girl felt
inclined to pooh-pooh her fancies of half an hour
before. The power of the money bribe could not
“And now, Miss Tuppence,”
said Sir James, “we want to hear your adventures.”
“That’s so,” agreed Julius.
Tuppence narrated her adventures with
some complacence. Julius occasionally interjected
an admiring “Bully.” Sir James said
nothing until she had finished, when his quiet “well
done, Miss Tuppence,” made her flush with pleasure.
“There’s one thing I don’t
get clearly,” said Julius. “What put
her up to clearing out?”
“I don’t know,” confessed Tuppence.
Sir James stroked his chin thoughtfully.
“The room was in great disorder.
That looks as though her flight was unpremeditated.
Almost as though she got a sudden warning to go from
“Mr. Brown, I suppose,” said Julius scoffingly.
The lawyer looked at him deliberately for a minute
“Why not?” he said.
“Remember, you yourself have once been worsted
Julius flushed with vexation.
“I feel just mad when I think
of how I handed out Jane’s photograph to him
like a lamb. Gee, if I ever lay hands on it again,
I’ll freeze on to it like like hell!”
“That contingency is likely to be a remote one,”
said the other dryly.
“I guess you’re right,”
said Julius frankly. “And, in any case,
it’s the original I’m out after.
Where do you think she can be, Sir James?”
The lawyer shook his head.
“Impossible to say. But I’ve a very
good idea where she has been.”
“You have? Where?”
Sir James smiled.
“At the scene of your nocturnal
adventures, the Bournemouth nursing home.”
“There? Impossible. I asked.”
“No, my dear sir, you asked
if anyone of the name of Jane Finn had been there.
Now, if the girl had been placed there it would almost
certainly be under an assumed name.”
“Bully for you,” cried Julius. “I
never thought of that!”
“It was fairly obvious,” said the other.
“Perhaps the doctor’s in it too,”
Julius shook his head.
“I don’t think so.
I took to him at once. No, I’m pretty sure
Dr. Hall’s all right.”
“Hall, did you say?” asked
Sir James. “That is curious really
“Why?” demanded Tuppence.
“Because I happened to meet
him this morning. I’ve known him slightly
on and off for some years, and this morning I ran
across him in the street. Staying at the Metropole,
he told me.” He turned to Julius. “Didn’t
he tell you he was coming up to town?”
Julius shook his head.
“Curious,” mused Sir James.
“You did not mention his name this afternoon,
or I would have suggested your going to him for further
information with my card as introduction.”
“I guess I’m a mutt,”
said Julius with unusual humility. “I ought
to have thought of the false name stunt.”
“How could you think of anything
after falling out of that tree?” cried Tuppence.
“I’m sure anyone else would have been killed
“Well, I guess it doesn’t
matter now, anyway,” said Julius. “We’ve
got Mrs. Vandemeyer on a string, and that’s
all we need.”
“Yes,” said Tuppence,
but there was a lack of assurance in her voice.
A silence settled down over the party.
Little by little the magic of the night began to gain
a hold on them. There were sudden creaks of the
furniture, imperceptible rustlings in the curtains.
Suddenly Tuppence sprang up with a cry.
“I can’t help it.
I know Mr. Brown’s somewhere in the flat!
I can feel him.”
“Sure, Tuppence, how could he
be? This door’s open into the hall.
No one could have come in by the front door without
our seeing and hearing him.”
“I can’t help it. I feel he’s
She looked appealingly at Sir James, who replied gravely:
“With due deference to your
feelings, Miss Tuppence (and mine as well for that
matter), I do not see how it is humanly possible for
anyone to be in the flat without our knowledge.”
The girl was a little comforted by his wards.
“Sitting up at night is always rather jumpy,”
“Yes,” said Sir James.
“We are in the condition of people holding a
séance. Perhaps if a medium were present we might
get some marvellous results.”
“Do you believe in spiritualism?” asked
Tuppence, opening her eyes wide.
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.
“There is some truth in it,
without a doubt. But most of the testimony would
not pass muster in the witness-box.”
The hours drew on. With the first
faint glimmerings of dawn, Sir James drew aside the
curtains. They beheld, what few Londoners see,
the slow rising of the sun over the sleeping city.
Somehow, with the coming of the light, the dreads
and fancies of the past night seemed absurd.
Tuppence’s spirits revived to the normal.
“Hooray!” she said.
“It’s going to be a gorgeous day.
And we shall find Tommy. And Jane Finn.
And everything will be lovely. I shall ask Mr.
Carter if I can’t be made a Dame!”
At seven o’clock Tuppence volunteered
to go and make some tea. She returned with a
tray, containing the teapot and four cups.
“Who’s the other cup for?” inquired
“The prisoner, of course. I suppose we
might call her that?”
“Taking her tea seems a kind
of anticlimax to last night,” said Julius thoughtfully.
“Yes, it does,” admitted
Tuppence. “But, anyway, here goes.
Perhaps you’d both come, too, in case she springs
on me, or anything. You see, we don’t know
what mood she’ll wake up in.”
Sir James and Julius accompanied her to the door.
“Where’s the key? Oh, of course,
I’ve got it myself.”
She put it in the lock, and turned it, then paused.
“Supposing, after all, she’s escaped?”
she murmured in a whisper.
“Plumb impossible,” replied Julius reassuringly.
But Sir James said nothing.
Tuppence drew a long breath and entered.
She heaved a sigh of relief as she saw that Mrs. Vandemeyer
was lying on the bed.
“Good morning,” she remarked cheerfully.
“I’ve brought you some tea.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer did not reply.
Tuppence put down the cup on the table by the bed
and went across to draw up the blinds. When she
turned, Mrs. Vandemeyer still lay without a movement.
With a sudden fear clutching at her heart, Tuppence
ran to the bed. The hand she lifted was cold as
ice.... Mrs. Vandemeyer would never speak now....
Her cry brought the others. A
very few minutes sufficed. Mrs. Vandemeyer was
dead must have been dead some hours.
She had evidently died in her sleep.
“If that isn’t the cruellest luck,”
cried Julius in despair.
The lawyer was calmer, but there was a curious gleam
in his eyes.
“If it is luck,” he replied.
“You don’t think but,
say, that’s plumb impossible no one
could have got in.”
“No,” admitted the lawyer.
“I don’t see how they could. And yet she
is on the point of betraying Mr. Brown, and she
dies. Is it only chance?”
“But how ”
“Yes, how! That is
what we must find out.” He stood there silently,
gently stroking his chin. “We must find
out,” he said quietly, and Tuppence felt that
if she was Mr. Brown she would not like the tone of
those simple words.
Julius’s glance went to the window.
“The window’s open,” he remarked.
“Do you think ”
Tuppence shook her head.
“The balcony only goes along as far as the boudoir.
We were there.”
“He might have slipped out ”
But Sir James interrupted him.
“Mr. Brown’s methods are
not so crude. In the meantime we must send for
a doctor, but before we do so, is there anything in
this room that might be of value to us?”
Hastily, the three searched.
A charred mass in the grate indicated that Mrs. Vandemeyer
had been burning papers on the eve of her flight.
Nothing of importance remained, though they searched
the other rooms as well.
said Tuppence suddenly, pointing to a small, old-fashioned
safe let into the wall. “It’s for
jewellery, I believe, but there might be something
else in it.”
The key was in the lock, and Julius
swung open the door, and searched inside. He
was some time over the task.
“Well,” said Tuppence impatiently.
There was a pause before Julius answered,
then he withdrew his head and shut to the door.
“Nothing,” he said.
In five minutes a brisk young doctor
arrived, hastily summoned. He was deferential
to Sir James, whom he recognized.
“Heart failure, or possibly
an overdose of some sleeping-draught.” He
sniffed. “Rather an odour of chloral in
Tuppence remembered the glass she
had upset. A new thought drove her to the washstand.
She found the little bottle from which Mrs. Vandemeyer
had poured a few drops.
It had been three parts full. Now it