The supper party given by Mr.
Julius Hersheimmer to a few friends on the evening
of the 30th will long be remembered in catering circles.
It took place in a private room, and Mr. Hersheimmer’s
orders were brief and forcible. He gave
carte blanche and when a millionaire
gives carte blanche he usually gets it!
Every delicacy out of season was duly
provided. Waiters carried bottles of ancient
and royal vintage with loving care. The floral
decorations defied the seasons, and fruits of the
earth as far apart as May and November found themselves
miraculously side by side. The list of guests
was small and select. The American Ambassador,
Mr. Carter, who had taken the liberty, he said, of
bringing an old friend, Sir William Beresford, with
him, Archdeacon Cowley, Dr. Hall, those two youthful
adventurers, Miss Prudence Cowley and Mr. Thomas Beresford,
and last, but not least, as guest of honour, Miss
Julius had spared no pains to make
Jane’s appearance a success. A mysterious
knock had brought Tuppence to the door of the apartment
she was sharing with the American girl. It was
Julius. In his hand he held a cheque.
“Say, Tuppence,” he began,
“will you do me a good turn? Take this,
and get Jane regularly togged up for this evening.
You’re all coming to supper with me at the Savoy.
See? Spare no expense. You get me?”
“Sure thing,” mimicked
Tuppence. “We shall enjoy ourselves.
It will be a pleasure dressing Jane. She’s
the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“That’s so,” agreed Mr. Hersheimmer
His fervour brought a momentary twinkle to Tuppence’s
“By the way, Julius,”
she remarked demurely, “I haven’t
given you my answer yet.”
“Answer?” said Julius. His face paled.
“You know when you
asked me to marry you,” faltered Tuppence,
her eyes downcast in the true manner of the early
Victorian heroine, “and wouldn’t take
no for an answer. I’ve thought it well over ”
“Yes?” said Julius. The perspiration
stood on his forehead.
Tuppence relented suddenly.
“You great idiot!” she
said. “What on earth induced you to do it?
I could see at the time you didn’t care a twopenny
dip for me!”
“Not at all. I had and
still have the highest sentiments of esteem
and respect and admiration for you ”
“H’m!” said Tuppence.
“Those are the kind of sentiments that very soon
go to the wall when the other sentiment comes along!
Don’t they, old thing?”
“I don’t know what you
mean,” said Julius stiffly, but a large and
burning blush overspread his countenance.
“Shucks!” retorted Tuppence.
She laughed, and closed the door, reopening it to
add with dignity: “Morally, I shall always
consider I have been jilted!”
“What was it?” asked Jane as Tuppence
“What did he want?”
“Really, I think, he wanted to see you, but
I wasn’t going to let him.
Not until to-night, when you’re going to burst
upon every one like King
Solomon in his glory! Come on! We’re
going to shop!”
To most people the 29th, the much-heralded
“Labour Day,” had passed much as any other
day. Speeches were made in the Park and Trafalgar
Square. Straggling processions, singing the Red
Flag, wandered through the streets in a more or less
aimless manner. Newspapers which had hinted at
a general strike, and the inauguration of a reign of
terror, were forced to hide their diminished heads.
The bolder and more astute among them sought to prove
that peace had been effected by following their counsels.
In the Sunday papers a brief notice of the sudden death
of Sir James Peel Edgerton, the famous K.C., had appeared.
Monday’s paper dealt appreciatively with the
dead man’s career. The exact manner of his
sudden death was never made public.
Tommy had been right in his forecast
of the situation. It had been a one-man show.
Deprived of their chief, the organization fell to pieces.
Kramenin had made a precipitate return to Russia, leaving
England early on Sunday morning. The gang had
fled from Astley Priors in a panic, leaving behind,
in their haste, various damaging documents which compromised
them hopelessly. With these proofs of conspiracy
in their hands, aided further by a small brown diary
taken from the pocket of the dead man which had contained
a full and damning resume of the whole plot, the Government
had called an eleventh-hour conference. The Labour
leaders were forced to recognize that they had been
used as a cat’s paw. Certain concessions
were made by the Government, and were eagerly accepted.
It was to be Peace, not War!
But the Cabinet knew by how narrow
a margin they had escaped utter disaster. And
burnt in on Mr. Carter’s brain was the strange
scene which had taken place in the house in Soho the
He had entered the squalid room to
find that great man, the friend of a lifetime, dead betrayed
out of his own mouth. From the dead man’s
pocket-book he had retrieved the ill-omened draft treaty,
and then and there, in the presence of the other three,
it had been reduced to ashes.... England was
And now, on the evening of the 30th,
in a private room at the Savoy, Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer
was receiving his guests.
Mr. Carter was the first to arrive.
With him was a choleric-looking old gentleman, at
sight of whom Tommy flushed up to the roots of his
hair. He came forward.
“Ha!” said the old gentleman,
surveying him apoplectically. “So you’re
my nephew, are you? Not much to look at but
you’ve done good work, it seems. Your mother
must have brought you up well after all. Shall
we let bygones be bygones, eh? You’re my
heir, you know; and in future I propose to make you
an allowance and you can look upon Chalmers
Park as your home.”
“Thank you, sir, it’s awfully decent of
“Where’s this young lady I’ve been
hearing such a lot about?”
Tommy introduced Tuppence.
“Ha!” said Sir William,
eyeing her. “Girls aren’t what they
used to be in my young days.”
“Yes, they are,” said
Tuppence. “Their clothes are different,
perhaps, but they themselves are just the same.”
“Well, perhaps you’re right. Minxes
then minxes now!”
“That’s it,” said Tuppence.
“I’m a frightful minx myself.”
“I believe you,” said
the old gentleman, chuckling, and pinched her ear
in high good-humour. Most young women were terrified
of the “old bear,” as they termed him.
Tuppence’s pertness delighted the old misogynist.
Then came the timid archdeacon, a
little bewildered by the company in which he found
himself, glad that his daughter was considered to have
distinguished herself, but unable to help glancing
at her from time to time with nervous apprehension.
But Tuppence behaved admirably. She forbore to
cross her legs, set a guard upon her tongue, and steadfastly
refused to smoke.
Dr. Hall came next, and he was followed
by the American Ambassador.
“We might as well sit down,”
said Julius, when he had introduced all his guests
to each other. “Tuppence, will you ”
He indicated the place of honour with a wave of his
But Tuppence shook her head.
Jane’s place! When one thinks of how she’s
held out all these years, she ought to be made the
queen of the feast to-night.”
Julius flung her a grateful glance,
and Jane came forward shyly to the allotted seat.
Beautiful as she had seemed before, it was as nothing
to the loveliness that now went fully adorned.
Tuppence had performed her part faithfully. The
model gown supplied by a famous dressmaker had been
entitled “A tiger lily.” It was all
golds and reds and browns, and out of it rose the
pure column of the girl’s white throat, and the
bronze masses of hair that crowned her lovely head.
There was admiration in every eye, as she took her
Soon the supper party was in full
swing, and with one accord Tommy was called upon for
a full and complete explanation.
“You’ve been too darned
close about the whole business,” Julius accused
him. “You let on to me that you were off
to the Argentine though I guess you had
your reasons for that. The idea of both you and
Tuppence casting me for the part of Mr. Brown just
tickles me to death!”
“The idea was not original to
them,” said Mr. Carter gravely. “It
was suggested, and the poison very carefully instilled,
by a past-master in the art. The paragraph in
the New York paper suggested the plan to him, and
by means of it he wove a web that nearly enmeshed you
“I never liked him,” said
Julius. “I felt from the first that there
was something wrong about him, and I always suspected
that it was he who silenced Mrs. Vandemeyer so appositely.
But it wasn’t till I heard that the order for
Tommy’s execution came right on the heels of
our interview with him that Sunday that I began to
tumble to the fact that he was the big bug himself.”
“I never suspected it at all,”
lamented Tuppence. “I’ve always thought
I was so much cleverer than Tommy but he’s
undoubtedly scored over me handsomely.”
“Tommy’s been the goods
this trip! And, instead of sitting there as dumb
as a fish, let him banish his blushes, and tell us
all about it.”
“There’s nothing to tell,”
said Tommy, acutely uncomfortable. “I was
an awful mug right up to the time I found
that photograph of Annette, and realized that she
was Jane Finn. Then I remembered how persistently
she had shouted out that word ’Marguerite’ and
I thought of the pictures, and well, that’s
that. Then of course I went over the whole thing
to see where I’d made an ass of myself.”
“Go on,” said Mr. Carter,
as Tommy showed signs of taking refuge in silence
“That business about Mrs. Vandemeyer
had worried me when Julius told me about it.
On the face of it, it seemed that he or Sir James must
have done the trick. But I didn’t know
which. Finding that photograph in the drawer,
after that story of how it had been got from him by
Inspector Brown, made me suspect Julius. Then
I remembered that it was Sir James who had discovered
the false Jane Finn. In the end, I couldn’t
make up my mind and just decided to take
no chances either way. I left a note for Julius,
in case he was Mr. Brown, saying I was off to the Argentine,
and I dropped Sir James’s letter with the offer
of the job by the desk so that he would see it was
a genuine stunt. Then I wrote my letter to Mr.
Carter and rang up Sir James. Taking him into
my confidence would be the best thing either way,
so I told him everything except where I believed the
papers to be hidden. The way he helped me to get
on the track of Tuppence and Annette almost disarmed
me, but not quite. I kept my mind open between
the two of them. And then I got a bogus note from
Tuppence and I knew!”
Tommy took the note in question from
his pocket and passed it round the table.
“It’s her handwriting
all right, but I knew it wasn’t from her because
of the signature. She’d never spell her
name ‘Twopence,’ but anyone who’d
never seen it written might quite easily do so.
Julius had seen it he showed me a
note of hers to him once but sir James
hadn’t! After that everything was
plain sailing. I sent off Albert post-haste to
Mr. Carter. I pretended to go away, but doubled
back again. When Julius came bursting up in his
car, I felt it wasn’t part of Mr. Brown’s
plan and that there would probably be trouble.
Unless Sir James was actually caught in the act, so
to speak, I knew Mr. Carter would never believe it
of him on my bare word ”
“I didn’t,” interposed Mr. Carter
“That’s why I sent the
girls off to Sir James. I was sure they’d
fetch up at the house in Soho sooner or later.
I threatened Julius with the revolver, because I wanted
Tuppence to repeat that to Sir James, so that he wouldn’t
worry about us. The moment the girls were out
of sight I told Julius to drive like hell for London,
and as we went along I told him the whole story.
We got to the Soho house in plenty of time and met
Mr. Carter outside. After arranging things with
him we went in and hid behind the curtain in the recess.
The policemen had orders to say, if they were asked,
that no one had gone into the house. That’s
And Tommy came to an abrupt halt.
There was silence for a moment.
“By the way,” said Julius
suddenly, “you’re all wrong about that
photograph of Jane. It was taken from me,
but I found it again.”
“Where?” cried Tuppence.
“In that little safe on the wall in Mrs. Vandemeyer’s
“I knew you found something,”
said Tuppence reproachfully. “To tell you
the truth, that’s what started me off suspecting
you. Why didn’t you say?”
“I guess I was a mite suspicious
too. It had been got away from me once, and I
determined I wouldn’t let on I’d got it
until a photographer had made a dozen copies of it!”
“We all kept back something
or other,” said Tuppence thoughtfully. “I
suppose secret service work makes you like that!”
In the pause that ensued, Mr. Carter
took from his pocket a small shabby brown book.
“Beresford has just said that
I would not have believed Sir James Peel Edgerton
to be guilty unless, so to speak, he was caught in
the act. That is so. Indeed, not until I
read the entries in this little book could I bring
myself fully to credit the amazing truth. This
book will pass into the possession of Scotland Yard,
but it will never be publicly exhibited. Sir
James’s long association with the law would make
it undesirable. But to you, who know the truth,
I propose to read certain passages which will throw
some light on the extraordinary mentality of this
He opened the book, and turned the thin pages.
“... It is madness to keep
this book. I know that. It is documentary
evidence against me. But I have never shrunk from
taking risks. And I feel an urgent need for self-expression....
The book will only be taken from my dead body....
“... From an early age
I realized that I had exceptional abilities. Only
a fool underestimates his capabilities. My brain
power was greatly above the average. I know that
I was born to succeed. My appearance was the
only thing against me. I was quiet and insignificant utterly
“... When I was a boy I
heard a famous murder trial. I was deeply impressed
by the power and eloquence of the counsel for the defence.
For the first time I entertained the idea of taking
my talents to that particular market.... Then
I studied the criminal in the dock.... The man
was a fool he had been incredibly, unbelievably
stupid. Even the eloquence of his counsel was
hardly likely to save him. I felt an immeasurable
contempt for him.... Then it occurred to me that
the criminal standard was a low one. It was the
wastrels, the failures, the general riff-raff of civilization
who drifted into crime.... Strange that men of
brains had never realized its extraordinary opportunities....
I played with the idea.... What a magnificent
field what unlimited possibilities!
It made my brain reel....
“... I read standard works
on crime and criminals. They all confirmed my
opinion. Degeneracy, disease never
the deliberate embracing of a career by a far-seeing
man. Then I considered. Supposing my utmost
ambitions were realized that I was called
to the bar, and rose to the height of my profession?
That I entered politics say, even, that
I became Prime Minister of England? What then?
Was that power? Hampered at every turn by my
colleagues, fettered by the democratic system of which
I should be the mere figurehead! No the
power I dreamed of was absolute! An autocrat!
A dictator! And such power could only be obtained
by working outside the law. To play on the weaknesses
of human nature, then on the weaknesses of nations to
get together and control a vast organization, and
finally to overthrow the existing order, and rule!
The thought intoxicated me....
“... I saw that I must
lead two lives. A man like myself is bound to
attract notice. I must have a successful career
which would mask my true activities.... Also
I must cultivate a personality. I modelled myself
upon famous K.C.’s. I reproduced their mannerisms,
their magnetism. If I had chosen to be an actor,
I should have been the greatest actor living!
No disguises no grease paint no
false beards! Personality! I put it on like
a glove! When I shed it, I was myself, quiet,
unobtrusive, a man like every other man. I called
myself Mr. Brown. There are hundreds of men called
Brown there are hundreds of men looking
just like me....
“... I succeeded in my
false career. I was bound to succeed. I shall
succeed in the other. A man like me cannot fail....
“... I have been reading
a life of Napoleon. He and I have much in common....
“... I make a practice
of defending criminals. A man should look after
his own people....
“... Once or twice I have
felt afraid. The first time was in Italy.
There was a dinner given. Professor D ,
the great alienist, was present. The talk fell
on insanity. He said, ’A great many men
are mad, and no one knows it. They do not know
it themselves.’ I do not understand why
he looked at me when he said that. His glance
was strange.... I did not like it....
“... The war has disturbed
me.... I thought it would further my plans.
The Germans are so efficient. Their spy system,
too, was excellent. The streets are full of these
boys in khaki. All empty-headed young fools....
Yet I do not know.... They won the war....
It disturbs me....
“... My plans are going
well.... A girl butted in I do not
think she really knew anything.... But we must
give up the Esthonia.... No risks now....
“.... All goes well.
The loss of memory is vexing. It cannot be a fake.
No girl could deceive me!...
“...The 29th.... That is
very soon....” Mr. Carter paused.
“I will not read the details
of the coup that was planned. But there are just
two small entries that refer to the three of you.
In the light of what happened they are interesting.
“... By inducing the girl
to come to me of her own accord, I have succeeded
in disarming her. But she has intuitive flashes
that might be dangerous.... She must be got out
of the way.... I can do nothing with the American.
He suspects and dislikes me. But he cannot know.
I fancy my armour is impregnable.... Sometimes
I fear I have underestimated the other boy. He
is not clever, but it is hard to blind his eyes to
Mr. Carter shut the book.
“A great man,” he said. “Genius,
or insanity, who can say?”
There was silence.
Then Mr. Carter rose to his feet.
“I will give you a toast.
The Joint Venture which has so amply justified itself
It was drunk with acclamation.
“There’s something more
we want to hear,” continued Mr. Carter.
He looked at the American Ambassador. “I
speak for you also, I know. We’ll ask Miss
Jane Finn to tell us the story that only Miss Tuppence
has heard so far but before we do so we’ll
drink her health. The health of one of the bravest
of America’s daughters, to whom is due the thanks
and gratitude of two great countries!”