Baffled for the moment, Tommy
strolled into the restaurant, and ordered a meal of
surpassing excellence. His four days’ imprisonment
had taught him anew to value good food.
He was in the middle of conveying
a particularly choice morsel of Sole a la Jeanette
to his mouth, when he caught sight of Julius entering
the room. Tommy waved a menu cheerfully, and
succeeded in attracting the other’s attention.
At the sight of Tommy, Julius’s eyes seemed as
though they would pop out of his head. He strode
across, and pump-handled Tommy’s hand with what
seemed to the latter quite unnecessary vigour.
“Holy snakes!” he ejaculated. “Is
it really you?”
“Of course it is. Why shouldn’t it
“Why shouldn’t it be?
Say, man, don’t you know you’ve been given
up for dead? I guess we’d have had a solemn
requiem for you in another few days.”
“Who thought I was dead?” demanded Tommy.
“She remembered the proverb
about the good dying young, I suppose. There
must be a certain amount of original sin in me to have
survived. Where is Tuppence, by the way?”
“Isn’t she here?”
“No, the fellows at the office said she’d
just gone out.”
“Gone shopping, I guess.
I dropped her here in the car about an hour ago.
But, say, can’t you shed that British calm of
yours, and get down to it? What on God’s
earth have you been doing all this time?”
“If you’re feeding here,”
replied Tommy, “order now. It’s going
to be a long story.”
Julius drew up a chair to the opposite
side of the table, summoned a hovering waiter, and
dictated his wishes. Then he turned to Tommy.
“Fire ahead. I guess you’ve had some
“One or two,” replied Tommy modestly,
and plunged into his recital.
Julius listened spellbound. Half
the dishes that were placed before him he forgot to
eat. At the end he heaved a long sigh.
“Bully for you. Reads like a dime novel!”
“And now for the home front,”
said Tommy, stretching out his hand for a peach.
“We-el,” drawled Julius,
“I don’t mind admitting we’ve had
some adventures too.”
He, in his turn, assumed the rôle
of narrator. Beginning with his unsuccessful
reconnoitring at Bournemouth, he passed on to his return
to London, the buying of the car, the growing anxieties
of Tuppence, the call upon Sir James, and the sensational
occurrences of the previous night.
“But who killed her?”
asked Tommy. “I don’t quite understand.”
“The doctor kidded himself she
took it herself,” replied Julius dryly.
“And Sir James? What did he think?”
“Being a legal luminary, he
is likewise a human oyster,” replied Julius.
“I should say he ‘reserved judgment.’”
He went on to detail the events of the morning.
“Lost her memory, eh?”
said Tommy with interest. “By Jove, that
explains why they looked at me so queerly when I spoke
of questioning her. Bit of a slip on my part,
that! But it wasn’t the sort of thing a
fellow would be likely to guess.”
“They didn’t give you
any sort of hint as to where Jane was?”
Tommy shook his head regretfully.
“Not a word. I’m
a bit of an ass, as you know. I ought to have
got more out of them somehow.”
“I guess you’re lucky
to be here at all. That bluff of yours was the
goods all right. How you ever came to think of
it all so pat beats me to a frazzle!”
“I was in such a funk I had
to think of something,” said Tommy simply.
There was a moment’s pause,
and then Tommy reverted to Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
“There’s no doubt it was chloral?”
“I believe not. At least
they call it heart failure induced by an overdose,
or some such claptrap. It’s all right.
We don’t want to be worried with an inquest.
But I guess Tuppence and I and even the highbrow Sir
James have all got the same idea.”
“Mr. Brown?” hazarded Tommy.
“All the same,” he said
thoughtfully, “Mr. Brown hasn’t got wings.
I don’t see how he got in and out.”
“How about some high-class thought
transference stunt? Some magnetic influence that
irresistibly impelled Mrs. Vandemeyer to commit suicide?”
Tommy looked at him with respect.
“Good, Julius. Distinctly
good. Especially the phraseology. But it
leaves me cold. I yearn for a real Mr. Brown of
flesh and blood. I think the gifted young detectives
must get to work, study the entrances and exits, and
tap the bumps on their foreheads until the solution
of the mystery dawns on them. Let’s go
round to the scene of the crime. I wish we could
get hold of Tuppence. The Ritz would enjoy the
spectacle of the glad reunion.”
Inquiry at the office revealed the
fact that Tuppence had not yet returned.
“All the same, I guess I’ll
have a look round upstairs,” said Julius.
“She might be in my sitting-room.”
Suddenly a diminutive boy spoke at Tommy’s elbow:
“The young lady she’s
gone away by train, I think, sir,” he murmured
“What?” Tommy wheeled round upon him.
The small boy became pinker than before.
“The taxi, sir. I heard
her tell the driver Charing Cross and to look sharp.”
Tommy stared at him, his eyes opening
wide in surprise. Emboldened, the small boy proceeded.
“So I thought, having asked for an A.B.C. and
Tommy interrupted him:
“When did she ask for an A.B.C. and a Bradshaw?”
“When I took her the telegram, sir.”
“When was that?”
“About half-past twelve, sir.”
“Tell me exactly what happened.”
The small boy drew a long breath.
“I took up a telegram to N the lady was there. She opened
it and gave a gasp, and then she said, very jolly
like: ’Bring me up a Bradshaw, and an A.B.C.,
and look sharp, Henry.’ My name isn’t
Henry, but ”
“Never mind your name,” said Tommy impatiently.
“Yes, sir. I brought them,
and she told me to wait, and looked up something.
And then she looks up at the clock, and ‘Hurry
up,’ she says. ‘Tell them to get
me a taxi,’ and she begins a-shoving on of her
hat in front of the glass, and she was down in two
ticks, almost as quick as I was, and I seed her going
down the steps and into the taxi, and I heard her
call out what I told you.”
The small boy stopped and replenished
his lungs. Tommy continued to stare at him.
At that moment Julius rejoined him. He held an
open letter in his hand.
“I say, Hersheimmer” Tommy
turned to him “Tuppence has gone off
sleuthing on her own.”
“Yes, she has. She went
off in a taxi to Charing Cross in the deuce of a hurry
after getting a telegram.” His eye fell
on the letter in Julius’s hand. “Oh;
she left a note for you. That’s all right.
Where’s she off to?”
Almost unconsciously, he held out
his hand for the letter, but Julius folded it up and
placed it in his pocket. He seemed a trifle embarrassed.
“I guess this is nothing to
do with it. It’s about something else something
I asked her that she was to let me know about.”
“Oh!” Tommy looked puzzled, and seemed
waiting for more.
“See here,” said Julius
suddenly, “I’d better put you wise.
I asked Miss Tuppence to marry me this morning.”
“Oh!” said Tommy mechanically.
He felt dazed. Julius’s words were totally
unexpected. For the moment they benumbed his brain.
“I’d like to tell you,”
continued Julius, “that before I suggested anything
of the kind to Miss Tuppence, I made it clear that
I didn’t want to butt in in any way between
her and you ”
Tommy roused himself.
“That’s all right,”
he said quickly. “Tuppence and I have been
pals for years. Nothing more.” He
lit a cigarette with a hand that shook ever so little.
“That’s quite all right. Tuppence
always said that she was looking out for ”
He stopped abruptly, his face crimsoning,
but Julius was in no way discomposed.
“Oh, I guess it’ll be
the dollars that’ll do the trick. Miss Tuppence
put me wise to that right away. There’s
no humbug about her. We ought to gee along together
Tommy looked at him curiously for
a minute, as though he were about to speak, then changed
his mind and said nothing. Tuppence and Julius!
Well, why not? Had she not lamented the fact that
she knew no rich men? Had she not openly avowed
her intention of marrying for money if she ever had
the chance? Her meeting with the young American
millionaire had given her the chance and
it was unlikely she would be slow to avail herself
of it. She was out for money. She had always
said so. Why blame her because she had been true
to her creed?
Nevertheless, Tommy did blame her.
He was filled with a passionate and utterly illogical
resentment. It was all very well to say things
like that but a real girl would never
marry for money. Tuppence was utterly cold-blooded
and selfish, and he would be delighted if he never
saw her again! And it was a rotten world!
Julius’s voice broke in on these meditations.
“Yes, we ought to get along
together very well. I’ve heard that a girl
always refuses you once a sort of convention.”
Tommy caught his arm.
“Refuses? Did you say refuses?”
“Sure thing. Didn’t
I tell you that? She just rapped out a ‘no’
without any kind of reason to it. The eternal
feminine, the Huns call it, I’ve heard.
But she’ll come round right enough. Likely
enough, I hustled her some ”
But Tommy interrupted regardless of decorum.
“What did she say in that note?” he demanded
The obliging Julius handed it to him.
“There’s no earthly clue
in it as to where she’s gone,” he assured
Tommy. “But you might as well see for yourself
if you don’t believe me.”
The note, in Tuppence’s well-known schoolboy
writing, ran as follows:
“It’s always better to
have things in black and white. I don’t
feel I can be bothered to think of marriage until
Tommy is found. Let’s leave it till then.
Tommy handed it back, his eyes shining.
His feelings had undergone a sharp reaction.
He now felt that Tuppence was all that was noble and
disinterested. Had she not refused Julius without
hesitation? True, the note betokened signs of
weakening, but he could excuse that. It read
almost like a bribe to Julius to spur him on in his
efforts to find Tommy, but he supposed she had not
really meant it that way. Darling Tuppence, there
was not a girl in the world to touch her! When
he saw her His thoughts were brought
up with a sudden jerk.
“As you say,” he remarked,
pulling himself together, “there’s not
a hint here as to what she’s up to. Hi Henry!”
The small boy came obediently. Tommy produced
“One thing more. Do you
remember what the young lady did with the telegram?”
Henry gasped and spoke.
“She crumpled it up into a ball
and threw it into the grate, and made a sort of noise
like ‘Whoop!’ sir.”
“Very graphic, Henry,”
said Tommy. “Here’s your five shillings.
Come on, Julius. We must find that telegram.”
They hurried upstairs. Tuppence
had left the key in her door. The room was as
she had left it. In the fireplace was a crumpled
ball of orange and white. Tommy disentangled
it and smoothed out the telegram.
“Come at once, Moat House, Ebury,
Yorkshire, great developments Tommy.”
They looked at each other in stupefaction.
Julius spoke first:
“You didn’t send it?”
“Of course not. What does it mean?”
“I guess it means the worst,” said Julius
quietly. “They’ve got her.”
“Sure thing! They signed
your name, and she fell into the trap like a lamb.”
“My God! What shall we do?”
“Get busy, and go after her!
Right now! There’s no time to waste.
It’s almighty luck that she didn’t take
the wire with her. If she had we’d probably
never have traced her. But we’ve got to
hustle. Where’s that Bradshaw?”
The energy of Julius was infectious.
Left to himself, Tommy would probably have sat down
to think things out for a good half-hour before he
decided on a plan of action. But with Julius Hersheimmer
about, hustling was inevitable.
After a few muttered imprecations
he handed the Bradshaw to Tommy as being more conversant
with its mysteries. Tommy abandoned it in favour
of an A.B.C.
“Here we are. Ebury, Yorks.
From King’s Cross. Or St. Pancras. (Boy
must have made a mistake. It was King’s
Cross, not Charing Cross.) 12.50, that’s
the train she went b.10, that’s gon.20
is the next and a damned slow train too.”
“What about the car?”
Tommy shook his head.
“Send it up if you like, but
we’d better stick to the train. The great
thing is to keep calm.”
“That’s so. But it
gets my goat to think of that innocent young girl in
Tommy nodded abstractedly. He was thinking.
In a moment or two, he said:
“I say, Julius, what do they want her for, anyway?”
“Eh? I don’t get you?”
“What I mean is that I don’t
think it’s their game to do her any harm,”
explained Tommy, puckering his brow with the strain
of his mental processes. “She’s a
hostage, that’s what she is. She’s
in no immediate danger, because if we tumble on to
anything, she’d be damned useful to them.
As long as they’ve got her, they’ve got
the whip hand of us. See?”
“Sure thing,” said Julius thoughtfully.
“Besides,” added Tommy,
as an afterthought, “I’ve great faith in
The journey was wearisome, with many
stops, and crowded carriages. They had to change
twice, once at Doncaster, once at a small junction.
Ebury was a deserted station with a solitary porter,
to whom Tommy addressed himself:
“Can you tell me the way to the Moat House?”
“The Moat House? It’s
a tidy step from here. The big house near the
sea, you mean?”
Tommy assented brazenly. After
listening to the porter’s meticulous but perplexing
directions, they prepared to leave the station.
It was beginning to rain, and they turned up the collars
of their coats as they trudged through the slush of
the road. Suddenly Tommy halted.
“Wait a moment.”
He ran back to the station and tackled the porter anew.
“Look here, do you remember
a young lady who arrived by an earlier train, the
12.50 from London? She’d probably ask you
the way to the Moat House.”
He described Tuppence as well as he
could, but the porter shook his head. Several
people had arrived by the train in question. He
could not call to mind one young lady in particular.
But he was quite certain that no one had asked him
the way to the Moat House.
Tommy rejoined Julius, and explained.
Depression was settling on him like a leaden weight.
He felt convinced that their quest was going to be
unsuccessful. The enemy had over three hours’
start. Three hours was more than enough for Mr.
Brown. He would not ignore the possibility of
the telegram having been found.
The way seemed endless. Once
they took the wrong turning and went nearly half a
mile out of their direction. It was past seven
o’clock when a small boy told them that “t’
Moat House” was just past the next corner.
A rusty iron gate swinging dismally
on its hinges! An overgrown drive thick with
leaves. There was something about the place that
struck a chill to both their hearts. They went
up the deserted drive. The leaves deadened their
footsteps. The daylight was almost gone.
It was like walking in a world of ghosts. Overhead
the branches flapped and creaked with a mournful note.
Occasionally a sodden leaf drifted silently down,
startling them with its cold touch on their cheek.
A turn of the drive brought them in
sight of the house. That, too, seemed empty and
deserted. The shutters were closed, the steps
up to the door overgrown with moss. Was it indeed
to this desolate spot that Tuppence had been decoyed?
It seemed hard to believe that a human footstep had
passed this way for months.
Julius jerked the rusty bell handle.
A jangling peal rang discordantly, echoing through
the emptiness within. No one came. They rang
again and again but there was no sign of
life. Then they walked completely round the house.
Everywhere silence, and shuttered windows. If
they could believe the evidence of their eyes the
place was empty.
“Nothing doing,” said Julius.
They retraced their steps slowly to the gate.
“There must be a village handy,”
continued the young American. “We’d
better make inquiries there. They’ll know
something about the place, and whether there’s
been anyone there lately.”
“Yes, that’s not a bad idea.”
Proceeding up the road, they soon
came to a little hamlet. On the outskirts of
it, they met a workman swinging his bag of tools, and
Tommy stopped him with a question.
“The Moat House? It’s
empty. Been empty for years. Mrs. Sweeny’s
got the key if you want to go over it next
to the post office.”
Tommy thanked him. They soon
found the post office, which was also a sweet and
general fancy shop, and knocked at the door of the
cottage next to it. A clean, wholesome-looking
woman opened it. She readily produced the key
of the Moat House.
“Though I doubt if it’s
the kind of place to suit you, sir. In a terrible
state of repair. Ceilings leaking and all.
’Twould need a lot of money spent on it.”
“Thanks,” said Tommy cheerily.
“I dare say it’ll be a washout, but houses
are scarce nowadays.”
“That they are,” declared
the woman heartily. “My daughter and son-in-law
have been looking for a decent cottage for I don’t
know how long. It’s all the war. Upset
things terribly, it has. But excuse me, sir,
it’ll be too dark for you to see much of the
house. Hadn’t you better wait until to-morrow?”
“That’s all right.
We’ll have a look around this evening, anyway.
We’d have been here before only we lost our
way. What’s the best place to stay at for
the night round here?”
Mrs. Sweeny looked doubtful.
“There’s the Yorkshire
Arms, but it’s not much of a place for gentlemen
“Oh, it will do very well.
Thanks. By the way, you’ve not had a young
lady here asking for this key to-day?”
The woman shook her head.
“No one’s been over the place for a long
“Thanks very much.”
They retraced their steps to the Moat
House. As the front door swung back on its hinges,
protesting loudly, Julius struck a match and examined
the floor carefully. Then he shook his head.
“I’d swear no one’s
passed this way. Look at the dust. Thick.
Not a sign of a footmark.”
They wandered round the deserted house.
Everywhere the same tale. Thick layers of dust
“This gets me,” said Julius.
“I don’t believe Tuppence was ever in this
“She must have been.”
Julius shook his head without replying.
“We’ll go over it again
to-morrow,” said Tommy. “Perhaps we’ll
see more in the daylight.”
On the morrow they took up the search
once more, and were reluctantly forced to the conclusion
that the house had not been invaded for some considerable
time. They might have left the village altogether
but for a fortunate discovery of Tommy’s.
As they were retracing their steps to the gate, he
gave a sudden cry, and stooping, picked something up
from among the leaves, and held it out to Julius.
It was a small gold brooch.
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. I’ve often seen her
Julius drew a deep breath.
“I guess that settles it.
She came as far as here, anyway. We’ll make
that pub our head-quarters, and raise hell round here
until we find her. Somebody must have seen
Forthwith the campaign began.
Tommy and Julius worked separately and together, but
the result was the same. Nobody answering to Tuppence’s
description had been seen in the vicinity. They
were baffled but not discouraged.
Finally they altered their tactics. Tuppence had
certainly not remained long in the neighbourhood of
the Moat House. That pointed to her having been
overcome and carried away in a car. They renewed
inquiries. Had anyone seen a car standing somewhere
near the Moat House that day? Again they met
with no success.
Julius wired to town for his own car,
and they scoured the neighbourhood daily with unflagging
zeal. A grey limousine on which they had set high
hopes was traced to Harrogate, and turned out to be
the property of a highly respectable maiden lady!
Each day saw them set out on a new
quest. Julius was like a hound on the leash.
He followed up the slenderest clue. Every car
that had passed through the village on the fateful
day was tracked down. He forced his way into
country properties and submitted the owners of the
motors to a searching cross-examination. His
apologies were as thorough as his methods, and seldom
failed in disarming the indignation of his victims;
but, as day succeeded day, they were no nearer to discovering
Tuppence’s whereabouts. So well had the
abduction been planned that the girl seemed literally
to have vanished into thin air.
And another preoccupation was weighing on Tommy’s
“Do you know how long we’ve
been here?” he asked one morning as they sat
facing each other at breakfast. “A week!
We’re no nearer to finding Tuppence, and next
Sunday is the 29th!”
“Shucks!” said Julius
thoughtfully. “I’d almost forgotten
about the 29th. I’ve been thinking of nothing
“So have I. At least, I hadn’t
forgotten about the 29th, but it didn’t seem
to matter a damn in comparison to finding Tuppence.
But to-day’s the 23rd, and time’s getting
short. If we’re ever going to get hold of
her at all, we must do it before the 29th her
life won’t be worth an hour’s purchase
afterwards. The hostage game will be played out
by then. I’m beginning to feel that we’ve
made a big mistake in the way we’ve set about
this. We’ve wasted time and we’re
“I’m with you there.
We’ve been a couple of mutts, who’ve bitten
off a bigger bit than they can chew. I’m
going to quit fooling right away!”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll tell you. I’m
going to do what we ought to have done a week ago.
I’m going right back to London to put the case
in the hands of your British police. We fancied
ourselves as sleuths. Sleuths! It was a piece
of damn-fool foolishness! I’m through!
I’ve had enough of it. Scotland Yard for
said Tommy slowly. “I wish to God we’d
gone there right away.”
“Better late than never.
We’ve been like a couple of babes playing ’Here
we go round the Mulberry Bush.’ Now I’m
going right along to Scotland Yard to ask them to
take me by the hand and show me the way I should go.
I guess the professional always scores over the amateur
in the end. Are you coming along with me?”
Tommy shook his head.
“What’s the good?
One of us is enough. I might as well stay here
and nose round a bit longer. Something might
turn up. One never knows.”
“Sure thing. Well, so long.
I’ll be back in a couple of shakes with a few
inspectors along. I shall tell them to pick out
their brightest and best.”
But the course of events was not to
follow the plan Julius had laid down. Later in
the day Tommy received a wire:
“Join me Manchester Midland
Hotel. Important news Julius.”
At 7:30 that night Tommy alighted
from a slow cross-country train. Julius was on
“Thought you’d come by
this train if you weren’t out when my wire arrived.”
Tommy grasped him by the arm.
“What is it? Is Tuppence found?”
Julius shook his head.
“No. But I found this waiting in London.
He handed the telegraph form to the
other. Tommy’s eyes opened as he read:
“Jane Finn found. Come
Manchester Midland Hotel immediately Peel
Julius took the form back and folded it up.
“Queer,” he said thoughtfully. “I
thought that lawyer chap had quit!”