Sir James’s words came
like a bomb-shell. Both girls looked equally
puzzled. The lawyer went across to his desk, and
returned with a small newspaper cutting, which he
handed to Jane. Tuppence read it over her shoulder.
Mr. Carter would have recognized it. It referred
to the mysterious man found dead in New York.
“As I was saying to Miss Tuppence,”
resumed the lawyer, “I set to work to prove
the impossible possible. The great stumbling-block
was the undeniable fact that Julius Hersheimmer was
not an assumed name. When I came across this
paragraph my problem was solved. Julius Hersheimmer
set out to discover what had become of his cousin.
He went out West, where he obtained news of her and
her photograph to aid him in his search. On the
eve of his departure from New York he was set upon
and murdered. His body was dressed in shabby
clothes, and the face disfigured to prevent identification.
Mr. Brown took his place. He sailed immediately
for England. None of the real Hersheimmer’s
friends or intimates saw him before he sailed though
indeed it would hardly have mattered if they had,
the impersonation was so perfect. Since then he
had been hand and glove with those sworn to hunt him
down. Every secret of theirs has been known to
him. Only once did he come near disaster.
Mrs. Vandemeyer knew his secret. It was no part
of his plan that that huge bribe should ever be offered
to her. But for Miss Tuppence’s fortunate
change of plan, she would have been far away from
the flat when we arrived there. Exposure stared
him in the face. He took a desperate step, trusting
in his assumed character to avert suspicion.
He nearly succeeded but not quite.”
“I can’t believe it,”
murmured Jane. “He seemed so splendid.”
“The real Julius Hersheimmer
was a splendid fellow! And Mr. Brown is
a consummate actor. But ask Miss Tuppence if she
also has not had her suspicions.”
Jane turned mutely to Tuppence. The latter nodded.
“I didn’t want to say
it, Jane I knew it would hurt you.
And, after all, I couldn’t be sure. I still
don’t understand why, if he’s Mr. Brown,
he rescued us.”
“Was it Julius Hersheimmer who helped you to
Tuppence recounted to Sir James the
exciting events of the evening, ending up: “But
I can’t see why!”
“Can’t you? I can.
So can young Beresford, by his actions. As a last
hope Jane Finn was to be allowed to escape and
the escape must be managed so that she harbours no
suspicions of its being a put-up job. They’re
not averse to young Beresford’s being in the
neighbourhood, and, if necessary, communicating with
you. They’ll take care to get him out of
the way at the right minute. Then Julius Hersheimmer
dashes up and rescues you in true melodramatic style.
Bullets fly but don’t hit anybody.
What would have happened next? You would have
driven straight to the house in Soho and secured the
document which Miss Finn would probably have entrusted
to her cousin’s keeping. Or, if he conducted
the search, he would have pretended to find the hiding-place
already rifled. He would have had a dozen ways
of dealing with the situation, but the result would
have been the same. And I rather fancy some accident
would have happened to both of you. You see,
you know rather an inconvenient amount. That’s
a rough outline. I admit I was caught napping;
but somebody else wasn’t.”
“Tommy,” said Tuppence softly.
“Yes. Evidently when the
right moment came to get rid of him he was
too sharp for them. All the same, I’m not
too easy in my mind about him.”
“Because Julius Hersheimmer
is Mr. Brown,” said Sir James dryly. “And
it takes more than one man and a revolver to hold
up Mr. Brown....”
Tuppence paled a little.
“What can we do?”
“Nothing until we’ve been
to the house in Soho. If Beresford has still
got the upper hand, there’s nothing to fear.
If otherwise, our enemy will come to find us, and
he will not find us unprepared!” From a drawer
in the desk, he took a service revolver, and placed
it in his coat pocket.
“Now we’re ready.
I know better than even to suggest going without you,
Miss Tuppence ”
“I should think so indeed!”
“But I do suggest that Miss
Finn should remain here. She will be perfectly
safe, and I am afraid she is absolutely worn out with
all she has been through.”
But to Tuppence’s surprise Jane shook her head.
“No. I guess I’m
going too. Those papers were my trust. I
must go through with this business to the end.
I’m heaps better now anyway.”
Sir James’s car was ordered
round. During the short drive Tuppence’s
heart beat tumultuously. In spite of momentary
qualms of uneasiness respecting Tommy, she could not
but feel exultation. They were going to win!
The car drew up at the corner of the
square and they got out. Sir James went up to
a plain-clothes man who was on duty with several others,
and spoke to him. Then he rejoined the girls.
“No one has gone into the house
so far. It is being watched at the back as well,
so they are quite sure of that. Anyone who attempts
to enter after we have done so will be arrested immediately.
Shall we go in?”
A policeman produced a key. They
all knew Sir James well. They had also had orders
respecting Tuppence. Only the third member of
the party was unknown to them. The three entered
the house, pulling the door to behind them. Slowly
they mounted the rickety stairs. At the top was
the ragged curtain hiding the recess where Tommy had
hidden that day. Tuppence had heard the story
from Jane in her character of “Annette.”
She looked at the tattered velvet with interest.
Even now she could almost swear it moved as
though some one was behind it. So strong was the
illusion that she almost fancied she could make out
the outline of a form.... Supposing Mr. Brown Julius was
Impossible of course! Yet she
almost went back to put the curtain aside and make
Now they were entering the prison
room. No place for anyone to hide here, thought
Tuppence, with a sigh of relief, then chided herself
indignantly. She must not give way to this foolish
fancying this curious insistent feeling
that Mr. Brown was in the
house.... Hark! what was that? A stealthy
footstep on the stairs? There was some one
in the house! Absurd! She was becoming hysterical.
Jane had gone straight to the picture
of Marguerite. She unhooked it with a steady
hand. The dust lay thick upon it, and festoons
of cobwebs lay between it and the wall. Sir James
handed her a pocket-knife, and she ripped away the
brown paper from the back.... The advertisement
page of a magazine fell out. Jane picked it up.
Holding apart the frayed inner edges she extracted
two thin sheets covered with writing!
No dummy this time! The real thing!
“We’ve got it,” said Tuppence.
The moment was almost breathless in
its emotion. Forgotten the faint creakings, the
imagined noises of a minute ago. None of them
had eyes for anything but what Jane held in her hand.
Sir James took it, and scrutinized it attentively.
“Yes,” he said quietly, “this is
the ill-fated draft treaty!”
said Tuppence. There was awe and an almost wondering
unbelief in her voice.
Sir James echoed her words as he folded
the paper carefully and put it away in his pocket-book,
then he looked curiously round the dingy room.
“It was here that our young
friend was confined for so long, was it not?”
he said. “A truly sinister room. You
notice the absence of windows, and the thickness of
the close-fitting door. Whatever took place here
would never be heard by the outside world.”
Tuppence shivered. His words
woke a vague alarm in her. What if there was
some one concealed in the house? Some one who
might bar that door on them, and leave them to die
like rats in a trap? Then she realized the absurdity
of her thought. The house was surrounded by police
who, if they failed to reappear, would not hesitate
to break in and make a thorough search. She smiled
at her own foolishness then looked up with
a start to find Sir James watching her. He gave
her an emphatic little nod.
“Quite right, Miss Tuppence.
You scent danger. So do I. So does Miss Finn.”
“Yes,” admitted Jane. “It’s
absurd but I can’t help it.”
Sir James nodded again.
“You feel as we all
feel the presence of Mr.
Brown. Yes” as Tuppence
made a movement “not a doubt of it Mr.
Brown is here....”
“In this house?”
“In this room.... You don’t understand?
I am Mr. Brown....”
Stupefied, unbelieving, they stared
at him. The very lines of his face had changed.
It was a different man who stood before them.
He smiled a slow cruel smile.
“Neither of you will leave this
room alive! You said just now we had succeeded.
I have succeeded! The draft treaty is mine.”
His smile grew wider as he looked at Tuppence.
“Shall I tell you how it will be? Sooner
or later the police will break in, and they will find
three victims of Mr. Brown three, not two,
you understand, but fortunately the third will not
be dead, only wounded, and will be able to describe
the attack with a wealth of detail! The treaty?
It is in the hands of Mr. Brown. So no one will
think of searching the pockets of Sir James Peel Edgerton!”
He turned to Jane.
“You outwitted me. I make
my acknowledgments. But you will not do it again.”
There was a faint sound behind him,
but, intoxicated with success, he did not turn his
He slipped his hand into his pocket.
“Checkmate to the Young Adventurers,”
he said, and slowly raised the big automatic.
But, even as he did so, he felt himself
seized from behind in a grip of iron. The revolver
was wrenched from his hand, and the voice of Julius
Hersheimmer said drawlingly:
“I guess you’re caught
redhanded with the goods upon you.”
The blood rushed to the K.C.’s
face, but his self-control was marvellous, as he looked
from one to the other of his two captors. He
looked longest at Tommy.
“You,” he said beneath
his breath. “You! I might have
Seeing that he was disposed to offer
no resistance, their grip slackened. Quick as
a flash his left hand, the hand which bore the big
signet ring, was raised to his lips....
“‘Ave, Cæsar! te
morituri salutant,’” he said, still looking
Then his face changed, and with a
long convulsive shudder he fell forward in a crumpled
heap, whilst an odour of bitter almonds filled the