In his suite at Claridge’s,
Kramenin reclined on a couch and dictated to his secretary
in sibilant Russian.
Presently the telephone at the secretary’s
elbow purred, and he took up the receiver, spoke for
a minute or two, then turned to his employer.
“Some one below is asking for you.”
“Who is it?”
“He gives the name of Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer.”
Kramenin thoughtfully. “I have heard that
“His father was one of the steel
kings of America,” explained the secretary,
whose business it was to know everything. “This
young man must be a millionaire several times over.”
The other’s eyes narrowed appreciatively.
“You had better go down and see him, Ivan.
Find out what he wants.”
The secretary obeyed, closing the
door noiselessly behind him. In a few minutes
“He declines to state his business says
it is entirely private and personal, and that he must
“A millionaire several times
over,” murmured Kramenin. “Bring him
up, my dear Ivan.”
The secretary left the room once more,
and returned escorting Julius.
“Monsieur Kramenin?” said the latter abruptly.
The Russian, studying him attentively
with his pale venomous eyes, bowed.
“Pleased to meet you,”
said the American. “I’ve got some
very important business I’d like to talk over
with you, if I can see you alone.” He looked
pointedly at the other.
“My secretary, Monsieur Grieber,
from whom I have no secrets.”
“That may be so but
I have,” said Julius dryly. “So I’d
be obliged if you’d tell him to scoot.”
“Ivan,” said the Russian
softly, “perhaps you would not mind retiring
into the next room ”
“The next room won’t do,”
interrupted Julius. “I know these ducal
suites and I want this one plumb empty except
for you and me. Send him round to a store to
buy a penn’orth of peanuts.”
Though not particularly enjoying the
American’s free and easy manner of speech, Kramenin
was devoured by curiosity. “Will your business
take long to state?”
“Might be an all night job if you caught on.”
“Very good, Ivan. I shall
not require you again this evening. Go to the
theatre take a night off.”
“Thank you, your excellency.”
The secretary bowed and departed.
Julius stood at the door watching
his retreat. Finally, with a satisfied sigh,
he closed it, and came back to his position in the
centre of the room.
“Now, Mr. Hersheimmer, perhaps
you will be so kind as to come to the point?”
“I guess that won’t take
a minute,” drawled Julius. Then, with an
abrupt change of manner: “Hands up or
For a moment Kramenin stared blindly
into the big automatic, then, with almost comical
haste, he flung up his hands above his head. In
that instant Julius had taken his measure. The
man he had to deal with was an abject physical coward the
rest would be easy.
“This is an outrage,”
cried the Russian in a high hysterical voice.
“An outrage! Do you mean to kill me?”
“Not if you keep your voice
down. Don’t go edging sideways towards that
bell. That’s better.”
“What do you want? Do nothing
rashly. Remember my life is of the utmost value
to my country. I may have been maligned ”
“I reckon,” said Julius,
“that the man who let daylight into you would
be doing humanity a good turn. But you needn’t
worry any. I’m not proposing to kill you
this trip that is, if you’re reasonable.”
The Russian quailed before the stern
menace in the other’s eyes. He passed his
tongue over his dry lips.
“What do you want? Money?”
“No. I want Jane Finn.”
“Jane Finn? I never heard of
“You’re a darned liar! You know perfectly
who I mean.”
“I tell you I’ve never heard of the girl.”
“And I tell you,” retorted
Julius, “that Little Willie here is just hopping
mad to go off!”
The Russian wilted visibly.
“You wouldn’t dare ”
“Oh, yes, I would, son!”
Kramenin must have recognized something
in the voice that carried conviction, for he said
“Well? Granted I do know who you mean what
“You will tell me now right here where
she is to be found.”
Kramenin shook his head.
“I daren’t. You ask an impossibility.”
“Afraid, eh? Of whom?
Mr. Brown? Ah, that tickles you up! There
is such a person, then? I doubted it. And
the mere mention of him scares you stiff!”
“I have seen him,” said
the Russian slowly. “Spoken to him face
to face. I did not know it until afterwards.
He was one of a crowd. I should not know him
again. Who is he really? I do not know.
But I know this he is a man to fear.”
“He’ll never know,” said Julius.
“He knows everything and his vengeance
is swift. Even
I Kramenin! would not be exempt!”
“Then you won’t do as I ask you?”
“You ask an impossibility.”
“Sure that’s a pity for
you,” said Julius cheerfully. “But
the world in general will benefit.” He
raised the revolver.
“Stop,” shrieked the Russian. “You
cannot mean to shoot me?”
“Of course I do. I’ve
always heard you Revolutionists held life cheap, but
it seems there’s a difference when it’s
your own life in question. I gave you just one
chance of saving your dirty skin, and that you wouldn’t
“They would kill me!”
“Well,” said Julius pleasantly,
“it’s up to you. But I’ll just
say this. Little Willie here is a dead cert,
and if I was you I’d take a sporting chance
with Mr. Brown!”
“You will hang if you shoot me,” muttered
the Russian irresolutely.
“No, stranger, that’s
where you’re wrong. You forget the dollars.
A big crowd of solicitors will get busy, and they’ll
get some high-brow doctors on the job, and the end
of it all will be that they’ll say my brain
was unhinged. I shall spend a few months in a
quiet sanatorium, my mental health will improve, the
doctors will declare me sane again, and all will end
happily for little Julius. I guess I can bear
a few months’ retirement in order to rid the
world of you, but don’t you kid yourself I’ll
hang for it!”
The Russian believed him. Corrupt
himself, he believed implicitly in the power of money.
He had read of American murder trials running much
on the lines indicated by Julius. He had bought
and sold justice himself. This virile young American,
with the significant drawling voice, had the whip
hand of him.
“I’m going to count five,”
continued Julius, “and I guess, if you let me
get past four, you needn’t worry any about Mr.
Brown. Maybe he’ll send some flowers to
the funeral, but you won’t smell them!
Are you ready? I’ll begin. One two
three four ”
The Russian interrupted with a shriek:
“Do not shoot. I will do all you wish.”
Julius lowered the revolver.
“I thought you’d hear sense. Where
is the girl?”
“At Gatehouse, in Kent. Astley Priors,
the place is called.”
“Is she a prisoner there?”
“She’s not allowed to
leave the house though it’s safe enough
really. The little fool has lost her memory,
“That’s been annoying
for you and your friends, I reckon. What about
the other girl, the one you decoyed away over a week
“She’s there too,” said the Russian
“That’s good,” said
Julius. “Isn’t it all panning out
beautifully? And a lovely night for the run!”
“What run?” demanded Kramenin, with a
“Down to Gatehouse, sure. I hope you’re
fond of motoring?”
“What do you mean? I refuse to go.”
“Now don’t get mad.
You must see I’m not such a kid as to leave you
here. You’d ring up your friends on that
telephone first thing! Ah!” He observed
the fall on the other’s face. “You
see, you’d got it all fixed. No, sir, you’re
coming along with me. This your bedroom next door
here? Walk right in. Little Willie and I
will come behind. Put on a thick coat, that’s
right. Fur lined? And you a Socialist!
Now we’re ready. We walk downstairs and
out through the hall to where my car’s waiting.
And don’t you forget I’ve got you covered
every inch of the way. I can shoot just as well
through my coat pocket. One word, or a glance
even, at one of those liveried menials, and there’ll
sure be a strange face in the Sulphur and Brimstone
Together they descended the stairs, and passed out
to the waiting car.
The Russian was shaking with rage. The hotel
servants surrounded them.
A cry hovered on his lips, but at the last minute
his nerve failed him.
The American was a man of his word.
When they reached the car, Julius
breathed a sigh of relief. The danger-zone was
passed. Fear had successfully hypnotized the man
by his side.
“Get in,” he ordered.
Then as he caught the other’s sidelong glance,
“No, the chauffeur won’t help you any.
Naval man. Was on a submarine in Russia when
the Revolution broke out. A brother of his was
murdered by your people. George!”
“Yes, sir?” The chauffeur turned his head.
“This gentleman is a Russian
Bolshevik. We don’t want to shoot him, but
it may be necessary. You understand?”
“I want to go to Gatehouse in Kent. Know
the road at all?”
“Yes, sir, it will be about an hour and a half’s
“Make it an hour. I’m in a hurry.”
“I’ll do my best, sir.” The
car shot forward through the traffic.
Julius ensconced himself comfortably
by the side of his victim. He kept his hand in
the pocket of his coat, but his manner was urbane to
the last degree.
“There was a man I shot once in Arizona ”
he began cheerfully.
At the end of the hour’s run
the unfortunate Kramenin was more dead than alive.
In succession to the anecdote of the Arizona man, there
had been a tough from ’Frisco, and an episode
in the Rockies. Julius’s narrative style,
if not strictly accurate, was picturesque!
Slowing down, the chauffeur called
over his shoulder that they were just coming into
Gatehouse. Julius bade the Russian direct them.
His plan was to drive straight up to the house.
There Kramenin was to ask for the two girls.
Julius explained to him that Little Willie would not
be tolerant of failure. Kramenin, by this time,
was as putty in the other’s hands. The
terrific pace they had come had still further unmanned
him. He had given himself up for dead at every
The car swept up the drive, and stopped
before the porch. The chauffeur looked round
“Turn the car first, George.
Then ring the bell, and get back to your place.
Keep the engine going, and be ready to scoot like hell
when I give the word.”
“Very good, sir.”
The front door was opened by the butler.
Kramenin felt the muzzle of the revolver pressed against
“Now,” hissed Julius. “And
The Russian beckoned. His lips
were white, and his voice was not very steady:
“It is I Kramenin!
Bring down the girl at once! There is no time
Whittington had come down the steps.
He uttered an exclamation of astonishment at seeing
“You! What’s up? Surely you
know the plan ”
Kramenin interrupted him, using the
words that have created many unnecessary panics:
“We have been betrayed!
Plans must be abandoned. We must save our own
skins. The girl! And at once! It’s
our only chance.”
Whittington hesitated, but for hardly a moment.
“You have orders from him?”
“Naturally! Should I be
here otherwise? Hurry! There is no time to
be lost. The other little fool had better come
Whittington turned and ran back into
the house. The agonizing minutes went by.
Then two figures hastily huddled in cloaks
appeared on the steps and were hustled into the car.
The smaller of the two was inclined to resist and
Whittington shoved her in unceremoniously. Julius
leaned forward, and in doing so the light from the
open door lit up his face. Another man on the
steps behind Whittington gave a startled exclamation.
Concealment was at an end.
“Get a move on, George,” shouted Julius.
The chauffeur slipped in his clutch, and with a bound
the car started.
The man on the steps uttered an oath.
His hand went to his pocket. There was a flash
and a report. The bullet just missed the taller
girl by an inch.
“Get down, Jane,” cried
Julius. “Flat on the bottom of the car.”
He thrust her sharply forward, then standing up, he
took careful aim and fired.
“Have you hit him?” cried Tuppence eagerly.
“Sure,” replied Julius.
“He isn’t killed, though. Skunks like
that take a lot of killing. Are you all right,
“Of course I am. Where’s
Tommy? And who’s this?” She indicated
the shivering Kramenin.
“Tommy’s making tracks
for the Argentine. I guess he thought you’d
turned up your toes. Steady through the gate,
George! That’s right. It’ll
take ’em at least five minutes to get busy after
us. They’ll use the telephone, I guess,
so look out for snares ahead and don’t
take the direct route. Who’s this, did
you say, Tuppence? Let me present Monsieur Kramenin.
I persuaded him to come on the trip for his health.”
The Russian remained mute, still livid with terror.
“But what made them let us go?” demanded
“I reckon Monsieur Kramenin
here asked them so prettily they just couldn’t
This was too much for the Russian. He burst out
“Curse you curse
you! They know now that I betrayed them.
My life won’t be safe for an hour in this country.”
“That’s so,” assented
Julius. “I’d advise you to make tracks
for Russia right away.”
“Let me go, then,” cried
the other. “I have done what you asked.
Why do you still keep me with you?”
“Not for the pleasure of your
company. I guess you can get right off now if
you want to. I thought you’d rather I tooled
you back to London.”
“You may never reach London,”
snarled the other. “Let me go here and
“Sure thing. Pull up, George.
The gentleman’s not making the return trip.
If I ever come to Russia, Monsieur Kramenin, I shall
expect a rousing welcome, and ”
But before Julius had finished his
speech, and before the car had finally halted, the
Russian had swung himself out and disappeared into
“Just a mite impatient to leave
us,” commented Julius, as the car gathered way
again. “And no idea of saying good-bye politely
to the ladies. Say, Jane, you can get up on the
For the first time the girl spoke.
“How did you ‘persuade’ him?”
Julius tapped his revolver.
“Little Willie here takes the credit!”
“Splendid!” cried the
girl. The colour surged into her face, her eyes
looked admiringly at Julius.
“Annette and I didn’t
know what was going to happen to us,” said Tuppence.
“Old Whittington hurried us off. We thought
it was lambs to the slaughter.”
“Annette,” said Julius. “Is
that what you call her?”
His mind seemed to be trying to adjust itself to a
“It’s her name,” said Tuppence,
opening her eyes very wide.
“Shucks!” retorted Julius.
“She may think it’s her name, because her
memory’s gone, poor kid. But it’s
the one real and original Jane Finn we’ve got
“What?” cried Tuppence.
But she was interrupted. With
an angry spurt, a bullet embedded itself in the upholstery
of the car just behind her head.
“Down with you,” cried
Julius. “It’s an ambush. These
guys have got busy pretty quickly. Push her a
The car fairly leapt forward.
Three more shots rang out, but went happily wide.
Julius, upright, leant over the back of the car.
“Nothing to shoot at,”
he announced gloomily. “But I guess there’ll
be another little picnic soon. Ah!”
He raised his hand to his cheek.
“You are hurt?” said Annette quickly.
“Only a scratch.”
The girl sprang to her feet.
“Let me out! Let me out,
I say! Stop the car. It is me they’re
after. I’m the one they want. You
shall not lose your lives because of me. Let
me go.” She was fumbling with the fastenings
of the door.
Julius took her by both arms, and
looked at her. She had spoken with no trace of
“Sit down, kid,” he said
gently. “I guess there’s nothing wrong
with your memory. Been fooling them all the time,
The girl looked at him, nodded, and
then suddenly burst into tears. Julius patted
her on the shoulder.
“There, there just
you sit tight. We’re not going to let you
Through her sobs the girl said indistinctly:
“You’re from home. I can tell by
your voice. It makes me home-sick.”
“Sure I’m from home.
I’m your cousin Julius Hersheimmer.
I came over to Europe on purpose to find you and
a pretty dance you’ve led me.”
The car slackened speed. George spoke over his
“Cross-roads here, sir. I’m not sure
of the way.”
The car slowed down till it hardly
moved. As it did so a figure climbed suddenly
over the back, and plunged head first into the midst
“Sorry,” said Tommy, extricating himself.
A mass of confused exclamations greeted
him. He replied to them severally:
“Was in the bushes by the drive.
Hung on behind. Couldn’t let you know before
at the pace you were going. It was all I could
do to hang on. Now then, you girls, get out!”
“Yes. There’s a station
just up that road. Train due in three minutes.
You’ll catch it if you hurry.”
“What the devil are you driving
at?” demanded Julius. “Do you think
you can fool them by leaving the car?”
“You and I aren’t going
to leave the car. Only the girls.”
“You’re crazed, Beresford.
Stark staring mad! You can’t let those girls
go off alone. It’ll be the end of it if
Tommy turned to Tuppence.
“Get out at once, Tuppence.
Take her with you, and do just as I say. No one
will do you any harm. You’re safe.
Take the train to London. Go straight to Sir
James Peel Edgerton. Mr. Carter lives out of town,
but you’ll be safe with him.”
“Darn you!” cried Julius.
“You’re mad. Jane, you stay where
With a sudden swift movement, Tommy
snatched the revolver from Julius’s hand, and
levelled it at him.
“Now will you believe I’m
in earnest? Get out, both of you, and do as I
say or I’ll shoot!”
Tuppence sprang out, dragging the
unwilling Jane after her.
“Come on, it’s all right.
If Tommy’s sure he’s sure.
Be quick. We’ll miss the train.”
They started running.
Julius’s pent-up rage burst forth.
“What the hell ”
Tommy interrupted him.
“Dry up! I want a few words with you, Mr.