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The Secret Adversary - Chapter 12 - A Friend in Need

1. Prologue

2. Chapter 1 - The Young Adventurers, Ltd.

3. Chapter 2 - Mr. Whittington's Offer

4. Chapter 3 - A Set Back

5. Chapter 4 - Who is Jane Finn?

6. Chapter 5 - Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer

7. Chapter 6 - A Plan of Campaign

8. Chapter 7 - The House in Soho

9. Chapter 8 - The Adventures of Tommy

10. Chapter 9 - Tuppence Enters Domestic Service

11. Chapter 10 - Enter Sir James Peel Edgerton

12. Chapter 11 - Julius Tells a Story

13. Chapter 12 - A Friend in Need

14. Chapter 13 - The Vigil

15. Chapter 14 - A Consultation

16. Chapter 15 - Tuppence Receives a Proposal

17. Chapter 16 - Further Adventures of Tommy

18. Chapter 17 - Annette

19. Chapter 18 - The Telegram

20. Chapter 19 - Jane Finn

21. Chapter 20 - Too Late

22. Chapter 21 - Tommy Makes a Discovery

23. Chapter 22 - In Downing Street

24. Chapter 23 - A Rage Against Time

25. Chapter 24 - Julius Takes a Hand

26. Chapter 25 - Jane's Story

27. Chapter 26 - Mr. Brown

28. Chapter 27 - A Supper Party at the Savoy

29. Chapter 28 - And After

FRIDAY and Saturday passed uneventfully. Tuppence had received a
brief answer to her appeal from Mr. Carter. In it he pointed out
that the Young Adventurers had undertaken the work at their own
risk, and had been fully warned of the dangers. If anything had
happened to Tommy he regretted it deeply, but he could do

This was cold comfort. Somehow, without Tommy, all the savour
went out of the adventure, and, for the first time, Tuppence felt
doubtful of success. While they had been together she had never
questioned it for a minute. Although she was accustomed to take
the lead, and to pride herself on her quick-wittedness, in
reality she had relied upon Tommy more than she realized at the
time. There was something so eminently sober and clear-headed
about him, his common sense and soundness of vision were so
unvarying, that without him Tuppence felt much like a rudderless
ship. It was curious that Julius, who was undoubtedly much
cleverer than Tommy, did not give her the same feeling of
support. She had accused Tommy of being a pessimist, and it is
certain that he always saw the disadvantages and difficulties
which she herself was optimistically given to overlooking, but
nevertheless she had really relied a good deal on his judgment.
He might be slow, but he was very sure.

It seemed to the girl that, for the first time, she realized the
sinister character of the mission they had undertaken so
lightheartedly. It had begun like a page of romance. Now, shorn
of its glamour, it seemed to be turning to grim reality.
Tommy--that was all that mattered. Many times in the day Tuppence
blinked the tears out of her eyes resolutely. "Little fool," she
would apostrophize herself, "don't snivel. Of course you're fond
of him. You've known him all your life. But there's no need to
be sentimental about it."

In the meantime, nothing more was seen of Boris. He did not come
to the flat, and Julius and the car waited in vain. Tuppence
gave herself over to new meditations. Whilst admitting the truth
of Julius's objections, she had nevertheless not entirely
relinquished the idea of appealing to Sir James Peel Edgerton.
Indeed, she had gone so far as to look up his address in the Red
Book. Had he meant to warn her that day? If so, why? Surely she
was at least entitled to demand an explanation. He had looked at
her so kindly. Perhaps he might tell them something concerning
Mrs. Vandemeyer which might lead to a clue to Tommy's

Anyway, Tuppence decided, with her usual shake of the shoulders,
it was worth trying, and try it she would. Sunday was her
afternoon out. She would meet Julius, persuade him to her point
of view, and they would beard the lion in his den.

When the day arrived Julius needed a considerable amount of
persuading, but Tuppence held firm. "It can do no harm," was
what she always came back to. In the end Julius gave in, and
they proceeded in the car to Carlton House Terrace.

The door was opened by an irreproachable butler. Tuppence felt a
little nervous. After all, perhaps it WAS colossal cheek on her
part. She had decided not to ask if Sir James was "at home," but
to adopt a more personal attitude.

"Will you ask Sir James if I can see him for a few minutes? I
have an important message for him."

The butler retired, returning a moment or two later.

"Sir James will see you. Will you step this way?"

He ushered them into a room at the back of the house, furnished
as a library. The collection of books was a magnificent one, and
Tuppence noticed that all one wall was devoted to works on crime
and criminology. There were several deep-padded leather
arm-chairs, and an old-fashioned open hearth. In the window was a
big roll-top desk strewn with papers at which the master of the
house was sitting.

He rose as they entered.

"You have a message for me? Ah"--he recognized Tuppence with a
smile--"it's you, is it? Brought a message from Mrs. Vandemeyer,
I suppose?"

"Not exactly," said Tuppence. "In fact, I'm afraid I only said
that to be quite sure of getting in. Oh, by the way, this is Mr.
Hersheimmer, Sir James Peel Edgerton."

"Pleased to meet you," said the American, shooting out a hand.

"Won't you both sit down?" asked Sir James. He drew forward two

"Sir James," said Tuppence, plunging boldly, "I dare say you will
think it is most awful cheek of me coming here like this.
Because, of course, it's nothing whatever to do with you, and
then you're a very important person, and of course Tommy and I
are very unimportant." She paused for breath.

"Tommy?" queried Sir James, looking across at the American.

"No, that's Julius," explained Tuppence. "I'm rather nervous,
and that makes me tell it badly. What I really want to know is
what you meant by what you said to me the other day? Did you mean
to warn me against Mrs. Vandemeyer? You did, didn't you?"

"My dear young lady, as far as I recollect I only mentioned that
there were equally good situations to be obtained elsewhere."

"Yes, I know. But it was a hint, wasn't it?"

"Well, perhaps it was," admitted Sir James gravely.

"Well, I want to know more. I want to know just WHY you gave me
a hint."

Sir James smiled at her earnestness.

"Suppose the lady brings a libel action against me for defamation
of character?"

"Of course," said Tuppence. "I know lawyers are always
dreadfully careful. But can't we say 'without prejudice' first,
and then say just what we want to."

"Well," said Sir James, still smiling, "without prejudice, then,
if I had a young sister forced to earn her living, I should not
like to see her in Mrs. Vandemeyer's service. I felt it incumbent
on me just to give you a hint. It is no place for a young and
inexperienced girl. That is all I can tell you."

"I see," said Tuppence thoughtfully. "Thank you very much. But
I'm not REALLY inexperienced, you know. I knew perfectly that
she was a bad lot when I went there--as a matter of fact that's
WHY I went----" She broke off, seeing some bewilderment on the
lawyer's face, and went on: "I think perhaps I'd better tell you
the whole story, Sir James. I've a sort of feeling that you'd
know in a minute if I didn't tell the truth, and so you might as
well know all about it from the beginning. What do you think,

"As you're bent on it, I'd go right ahead with the facts,"
replied the American, who had so far sat in silence.

"Yes, tell me all about it," said Sir James. "I want to know who
Tommy is."

Thus encouraged Tuppence plunged into her tale, and the lawyer
listened with close attention.

"Very interesting," he said, when she finished. "A great deal of
what you tell me, child, is already known to me. I've had
certain theories of my own about this Jane Finn. You've done
extraordinarily well so far, but it's rather too bad of--what do
you know him as?--Mr. Carter to pitchfork you two young things
into an affair of this kind. By the way, where did Mr.
Hersheimmer come in originally? You didn't make that clear?"

Julius answered for himself.

"I'm Jane's first cousin," he explained, returning the lawyer's
keen gaze.


"Oh, Sir James," broke out Tuppence, "what do you think has
become of Tommy?"

"H'm." The lawyer rose, and paced slowly up and down. "When you
arrived, young lady, I was just packing up my traps. Going to
Scotland by the night train for a few days' fishing. But there
are different kinds of fishing. I've a good mind to stay, and
see if we can't get on the track of that young chap."

"Oh!" Tuppence clasped her hands ecstatically.

"All the same, as I said before, it's too bad of--of Carter to
set you two babies on a job like this. Now, don't get offended,

"Cowley. Prudence Cowley. But my friends call me Tuppence."

"Well, Miss Tuppence, then, as I'm certainly going to be a
friend. Don't be offended because I think you're young. Youth is
a failing only too easily outgrown. Now, about this young Tommy
of yours----"

"Yes." Tuppence clasped her hands.

"Frankly, things look bad for him. He's been butting in
somewhere where he wasn't wanted. Not a doubt of it. But don't
give up hope."

"And you really will help us? There, Julius! He didn't want me
to come," she added by way of explanation.

"H'm," said the lawyer, favouring Julius with another keen
glance. "And why was that?"

"I reckoned it would be no good worrying you with a petty little
business like this."

"I see." He paused a moment. "This petty little business, as
you call it, bears directly on a very big business, bigger
perhaps than either you or Miss Tuppence know. If this boy is
alive, he may have very valuable information to give us.
Therefore, we must find him."

"Yes, but how?" cried Tuppence. "I've tried to think of

Sir James smiled.

"And yet there's one person quite near at hand who in all
probability knows where he is, or at all events where he is
likely to be."

"Who is that?" asked Tuppence, puzzled.

"Mrs. Vandemeyer."

"Yes, but she'd never tell us."

"Ah, that is where I come in. I think it quite likely that I
shall be able to make Mrs. Vandemeyer tell me what I want to

"How?" demanded Tuppence, opening her eyes very wide.

"Oh, just by asking her questions," replied Sir James easily.
"That's the way we do it, you know."

He tapped with his finger on the table, and Tuppence felt again
the intense power that radiated from the man.

"And if she won't tell?" asked Julius suddenly.

"I think she will. I have one or two powerful levers. Still, in
that unlikely event, there is always the possibility of bribery."

"Sure. And that's where I come in!" cried Julius, bringing his
fist down on the table with a bang. "You can count on me, if
necessary, for one million dollars. Yes, sir, one million

Sir James sat down and subjected Julius to a long scrutiny.

"Mr. Hersheimmer," he said at last, "that is a very large sum."

"I guess it'll have to be. These aren't the kind of folk to
offer sixpence to."

"At the present rate of exchange it amounts to considerably over
two hundred and fifty thousand pounds."

"That's so. Maybe you think I'm talking through my hat, but I
can deliver the goods all right, with enough over to spare for
your fee."

Sir James flushed slightly.

"There is no question of a fee, Mr. Hersheimmer. I am not a
private detective."

"Sorry. I guess I was just a mite hasty, but I've been feeling
bad about this money question. I wanted to offer a big reward
for news of Jane some days ago, but your crusted institution of
Scotland Yard advised me against it. Said it was undesirable."

"They were probably right," said Sir James dryly.

"But it's all O.K. about Julius," put in Tuppence. "He's not
pulling your leg. He's got simply pots of money."

"The old man piled it up in style," explained Julius. "Now,
let's get down to it. What's your idea?"

Sir James considered for a moment or two.

"There is no time to be lost. The sooner we strike the better."
He turned to Tuppence. "Is Mrs. Vandemeyer dining out to-night,
do you know?"

"Yes, I think so, but she will not be out late. Otherwise, she
would have taken the latchkey."

"Good. I will call upon her about ten o'clock. What time are you
supposed to return?"

"About nine-thirty or ten, but I could go back earlier."

"You must not do that on any account. It might arouse suspicion
if you did not stay out till the usual time. Be back by
nine-thirty. I will arrive at ten. Mr. Hersheimmer will wait
below in a taxi perhaps."

"He's got a new Rolls-Royce car," said Tuppence with vicarious

"Even better. If I succeed in obtaining the address from her, we
can go there at once, taking Mrs. Vandemeyer with us if
necessary. You understand?"

"Yes." Tuppence rose to her feet with a skip of delight. "Oh, I
feel so much better!"

"Don't build on it too much, Miss Tuppence. Go easy."

Julius turned to the lawyer.

"Say, then. I'll call for you in the car round about
nine-thirty. Is that right?"

"Perhaps that will be the best plan. It would be unnecessary to
have two cars waiting about. Now, Miss Tuppence, my advice to
you is to go and have a good dinner, a REALLY good one, mind. And
don't think ahead more than you can help."

He shook hands with them both, and a moment later they were

"Isn't he a duck?" inquired Tuppence ecstatically, as she skipped
down the steps. "Oh, Julius, isn't he just a duck?"

"Well, I allow he seems to be the goods all right. And I was
wrong about its being useless to go to him. Say, shall we go
right away back to the Ritz?"

"I must walk a bit, I think. I feel so excited. Drop me in the
park, will you? Unless you'd like to come too?"

"I want to get some petrol," he explained. "And send off a cable
or two."

"All right. I'll meet you at the Ritz at seven. We'll have to
dine upstairs. I can't show myself in these glad rags."

"Sure. I'll get Felix help me choose the menu. He's some head
waiter, that. So long."

Tuppence walked briskly along towards the Serpentine, first
glancing at her watch. It was nearly six o'clock. She remembered
that she had had no tea, but felt too excited to be conscious of
hunger. She walked as far as Kensington Gardens and then slowly
retraced her steps, feeling infinitely better for the fresh air
and exercise. It was not so easy to follow Sir James's advice,
and put the possible events of the evening out of her head. As
she drew nearer and nearer to Hyde Park corner, the temptation to
return to South Audley Mansions was almost irresistible.

At any rate, she decided, it would do no harm just to go and LOOK
at the building. Perhaps, then, she could resign herself to
waiting patiently for ten o'clock.

South Audley Mansions looked exactly the same as usual. What
Tuppence had expected she hardly knew, but the sight of its red
brick stolidity slightly assuaged the growing and entirely
unreasonable uneasiness that possessed her. She was just turning
away when she heard a piercing whistle, and the faithful Albert
came running from the building to join her.

Tuppence frowned. It was no part of the programme to have
attention called to her presence in the neighbourhood, but Albert
was purple with suppressed excitement.

"I say, miss, she's a-going!"

"Who's going?" demanded Tuppence sharply.

"The crook. Ready Rita. Mrs. Vandemeyer. She's a-packing up,
and she's just sent down word for me to get her a taxi."

"What?" Tuppence clutched his arm.

"It's the truth, miss. I thought maybe as you didn't know about

"Albert," cried Tuppence, "you're a brick. If it hadn't been for
you we'd have lost her."

Albert flushed with pleasure at this tribute.

"There's no time to lose," said Tuppence, crossing the road.
"I've got to stop her. At all costs I must keep her here
until----" She broke off. "Albert, there's a telephone here,
isn't there?"

The boy shook his head.

"The flats mostly have their own, miss. But there's a box just
round the corner."

"Go to it then, at once, and ring up the Ritz Hotel. Ask for Mr.
Hersheimmer, and when you get him tell him to get Sir James and
come on at once, as Mrs. Vandemeyer is trying to hook it. If you
can't get him, ring up Sir James Peel Edgerton, you'll find his
number in the book, and tell him what's happening. You won't
forget the names, will you?"

Albert repeated them glibly. "You trust to me, miss, it'll be
all right. But what about you? Aren't you afraid to trust
yourself with her?"

"No, no, that's all right. BUT GO AND TELEPHONE. Be quick."

Drawing a long breath, Tuppence entered the Mansions and ran up
to the door of No. 20. How she was to detain Mrs. Vandemeyer
until the two men arrived, she did not know, but somehow or other
it had to be done, and she must accomplish the task
single-handed. What had occasioned this precipitate departure?
Did Mrs. Vandemeyer suspect her?

Speculations were idle. Tuppence pressed the bell firmly. She
might learn something from the cook.

Nothing happened and, after waiting some minutes, Tuppence
pressed the bell again, keeping her finger on the button for some
little while. At last she heard footsteps inside, and a moment
later Mrs. Vandemeyer herself opened the door. She lifted her
eyebrows at the sight of the girl.


"I had a touch of toothache, ma'am," said Tuppence glibly. "So
thought it better to come home and have a quiet evening."

Mrs. Vandemeyer said nothing, but she drew back and let Tuppence
pass into the hall.

"How unfortunate for you," she said coldly. "You had better go
to bed."

"Oh, I shall be all right in the kitchen, ma'am. Cook will----"

"Cook is out," said Mrs. Vandemeyer, in a rather disagreeable
tone. "I sent her out. So you see you had better go to bed."

Suddenly Tuppence felt afraid. There was a ring in Mrs.
Vandemeyer's voice that she did not like at all. Also, the other
woman was slowly edging her up the passage. Tuppence turned at

"I don't want----"

Then, in a flash, a rim of cold steel touched her temple, and
Mrs. Vandemeyer's voice rose cold and menacing:

"You damned little fool! Do you think I don't know? No, don't
answer. If you struggle or cry out, I'll shoot you like a dog."

The rim of steel pressed a little harder against the girl's

"Now then, march," went on Mrs. Vandemeyer. "This way--into my
room. In a minute, when I've done with you, you'll go to bed as I
told you to. And you'll sleep--oh yes, my little spy, you'll
sleep all right!"

There was a sort of hideous geniality in the last words which
Tuppence did not at all like. For the moment there was nothing
to be done, and she walked obediently into Mrs. Vandemeyer's
bedroom. The pistol never left her forehead. The room was in a
state of wild disorder, clothes were flung about right and left,
a suit-case and a hat box, half-packed, stood in the middle of
the floor.

Tuppence pulled herself together with an effort. Her voice shook
a little, but she spoke out bravely.

"Come now," she said. "This is nonsense. You can't shoot me.
Why, every one in the building would hear the report."

"I'd risk that," said Mrs. Vandemeyer cheerfully. "But, as long
as you don't sing out for help, you're all right--and I don't
think you will. You're a clever girl. You deceived ME all right.
I hadn't a suspicion of you! So I've no doubt that you understand
perfectly well that this is where I'm on top and you're
underneath. Now then--sit on the bed. Put your hands above your
head, and if you value your life don't move them."

Tuppence obeyed passively. Her good sense told her that there
was nothing else to do but accept the situation. If she shrieked
for help there was very little chance of anyone hearing her,
whereas there was probably quite a good chance of Mrs.
Vandemeyer's shooting her. In the meantime, every minute of delay
gained was valuable.

Mrs. Vandemeyer laid down the revolver on the edge of the
washstand within reach of her hand, and, still eyeing Tuppence
like a lynx in case the girl should attempt to move, she took a
little stoppered bottle from its place on the marble and poured
some of its contents into a glass which she filled up with water.

"What's that?" asked Tuppence sharply.

"Something to make you sleep soundly."

Tuppence paled a little.

"Are you going to poison me?" she asked in a whisper.

"Perhaps," said Mrs. Vandemeyer, smiling agreeably.

"Then I shan't drink it," said Tuppence firmly. "I'd much rather
be shot. At any rate that would make a row, and some one might
hear it. But I won't be killed off quietly like a lamb."

Mrs. Vandemeyer stamped her foot.

"Don't be a little fool! Do you really think I want a hue and
cry for murder out after me? If you've any sense at all, you'll
realize that poisoning you wouldn't suit my book at all. It's a
sleeping draught, that's all. You'll wake up to-morrow morning
none the worse. I simply don't want the bother of tying you up
and gagging you. That's the alternative--and you won't like it, I
can tell you! I can be very rough if I choose. So drink this
down like a good girl, and you'll be none the worse for it."

In her heart of hearts Tuppence believed her. The arguments she
had adduced rang true. It was a simple and effective method of
getting her out of the way for the time being. Nevertheless, the
girl did not take kindly to the idea of being tamely put to sleep
without as much as one bid for freedom. She felt that once Mrs.
Vandemeyer gave them the slip, the last hope of finding Tommy
would be gone.

Tuppence was quick in her mental processes. All these
reflections passed through her mind in a flash, and she saw where
a chance, a very problematical chance, lay, and she determined to
risk all in one supreme effort.

Accordingly, she lurched suddenly off the bed and fell on her
knees before Mrs. Vandemeyer, clutching her skirts frantically.

"I don't believe it," she moaned. "It's poison--I know it's
poison. Oh, don't make me drink it"--her voice rose to a
shriek--"don't make me drink it!"

Mrs. Vandemeyer, glass in hand, looked down with a curling lip at
this sudden collapse.

"Get up, you little idiot! Don't go on drivelling there. How you
ever had the nerve to play your part as you did I can't think."
She stamped her foot. "Get up, I say."

But Tuppence continued to cling and sob, interjecting her sobs
with incoherent appeals for mercy. Every minute gained was to
the good. Moreover, as she grovelled, she moved imperceptibly
nearer to her objective.

Mrs. Vandemeyer gave a sharp impatient exclamation, and jerked
the girl to her knees.

"Drink it at once!" Imperiously she pressed the glass to the
girl's lips.

Tuppence gave one last despairing moan.

"You swear it won't hurt me?" she temporized.

"Of course it won't hurt you. Don't be a fool."

"Will you swear it?"

"Yes, yes," said the other impatiently. "I swear it."

Tuppence raised a trembling left hand to the glass.

"Very well." Her mouth opened meekly.

Mrs. Vandemeyer gave a sigh of relief, off her guard for the
moment. Then, quick as a flash, Tuppence jerked the glass upward
as hard as she could. The fluid in it splashed into Mrs.
Vandemeyer's face, and during her momentary gasp, Tuppence's
right hand shot out and grasped the revolver where it lay on the
edge of the washstand. The next moment she had sprung back a
pace, and the revolver pointed straight at Mrs. Vandemeyer's
heart, with no unsteadiness in the hand that held it.

In the moment of victory, Tuppence betrayed a somewhat
unsportsmanlike triumph.

"Now who's on top and who's underneath?" she crowed.

The other's face was convulsed with rage. For a minute Tuppence
thought she was going to spring upon her, which would have placed
the girl in an unpleasant dilemma, since she meant to draw the
line at actually letting off the revolver. However, with an
effort Mrs. Vandemeyer controlled herself, and at last a slow
evil smile crept over her face.

"Not a fool, then, after all! You did that well, girl. But you
shall pay for it--oh, yes, you shall pay for it! I have a long

"I'm surprised you should have been gulfed so easily," said
Tuppence scornfully. "Did you really think I was the kind of
girl to roll about on the floor and whine for mercy?"

"You may do--some day!" said the other significantly.

The cold malignity of her manner sent an unpleasant chill down
Tuppence's spine, but she was not going to give in to it.

"Supposing we sit down," she said pleasantly. "Our present
attitude is a little melodramatic. No--not on the bed. Draw a
chair up to the table, that's right. Now I'll sit opposite you
with the revolver in front of me--just in case of accidents.
Splendid. Now, let's talk."

"What about?" said Mrs. Vandemeyer sullenly.

Tuppence eyed her thoughtfully for a minute. She was remembering
several things. Boris's words, "I believe you would sell--us!"
and her answer, "The price would have to be enormous," given
lightly, it was true, yet might not there be a substratum of
truth in it? Long ago, had not Whittington asked: "Who's been
blabbing? Rita?" Would Rita Vandemeyer prove to be the weak
spot in the armour of Mr. Brown?

Keeping her eyes fixed steadily on the other's face, Tuppence
replied quietly:


Mrs. Vandemeyer started. Clearly, the reply was unexpected.

"What do you mean?"

"I'll tell you. You said just now that you had a long memory. A
long memory isn't half as useful as a long purse! I dare say it
relieves your feelings a good deal to plan out all sorts of
dreadful things to do to me, but is that PRACTICAL? Revenge is
very unsatisfactory. Every one always says so. But
money"--Tuppence warmed to her pet creed--"well, there's nothing
unsatisfactory about money, is there?"

"Do you think," said Mrs. Vandemeyer scornfully, "that I am the
kind of woman to sell my friends?"

"Yes," said Tuppence promptly. "If the price was big enough."

"A paltry hundred pounds or so!"

"No," said Tuppence. "I should suggest--a hundred thousand!"

Her economical spirit did not permit her to mention the whole
million dollars suggested by Julius.

A flush crept over Mrs. Vandemeyer's face.

"What did you say?" she asked, her fingers playing nervously with
a brooch on her breast. In that moment Tuppence knew that the
fish was hooked, and for the first time she felt a horror of her
own money-loving spirit. It gave her a dreadful sense of kinship
to the woman fronting her.

"A hundred thousand pounds," repeated Tuppence.

The light died out of Mrs. Vandemeyer's eyes. She leaned back in
her chair.

"Bah!" she said. "You haven't got it."

"No," admitted Tuppence, "I haven't--but I know some one who


"A friend of mine."

"Must be a millionaire," remarked Mrs. Vandemeyer unbelievingly.

"As a matter of fact he is. He's an American. He'll pay you
that without a murmur. You can take it from me that it's a
perfectly genuine proposition."

Mrs. Vandemeyer sat up again.

"I'm inclined to believe you," she said slowly.

There was silence between them for some time, then Mrs.
Vandemeyer looked up.

"What does he want to know, this friend of yours?"

Tuppence went through a momentary struggle, but it was Julius's
money, and his interests must come first.

"He wants to know where Jane Finn is," she said boldly.

Mrs. Vandemeyer showed no surprise.

"I'm not sure where she is at the present moment," she replied.

"But you could find out?"

"Oh, yes," returned Mrs. Vandemeyer carelessly. "There would be
no difficulty about that."

"Then"--Tuppence's voice shook a little--"there's a boy, a friend
of mine. I'm afraid something's happened to him, through your pal

"What's his name?"

"Tommy Beresford."

"Never heard of him. But I'll ask Boris. He'll tell me anything
he knows."

"Thank you." Tuppence felt a terrific rise in her spirits. It
impelled her to more audacious efforts. "There's one thing


Tuppence leaned forward and lowered her voice.


Her quick eyes saw the sudden paling of the beautiful face. With
an effort Mrs. Vandemeyer pulled herself together and tried to
resume her former manner. But the attempt was a mere parody.

She shrugged her shoulders.

"You can't have learnt much about us if you don't know that

"You do," said Tuppence quietly.

Again the colour deserted the other's face.

"What makes you think that?"

"I don't know," said the girl truthfully. "But I'm sure."

Mrs. Vandemeyer stared in front of her for a long time.

"Yes," she said hoarsely, at last, "I know. I was beautiful, you
see--very beautiful--"

"You are still," said Tuppence with admiration.

Mrs. Vandemeyer shook her head. There was a strange gleam in her
electric-blue eyes.

"Not beautiful enough," she said in a soft dangerous voice.
"Not--beautiful--enough! And sometimes, lately, I've been
afraid.... It's dangerous to know too much!" She leaned forward
across the table. "Swear that my name shan't be brought into
it--that no one shall ever know."

"I swear it. And, once's he caught, you'll be out of danger."

A terrified look swept across Mrs. Vandemeyer's face.

"Shall I? Shall I ever be?" She clutched Tuppence's arm.
"You're sure about the money?"

"Quite sure."

"When shall I have it? There must be no delay."

"This friend of mine will be here presently. He may have to send
cables, or something like that. But there won't be any
delay--he's a terrific hustler."

A resolute look settled on Mrs. Vandemeyer's face.

"I'll do it. It's a great sum of money, and besides"--she gave a
curious smile--"it is not--wise to throw over a woman like me!"

For a moment or two, she remained smiling, and lightly tapping
her fingers on the table. Suddenly she started, and her face

"What was that?"

"I heard nothing."

Mrs. Vandemeyer gazed round her fearfully.

"If there should be some one listening----"

"Nonsense. Who could there be?"

"Even the walls might have ears," whispered the other. "I tell
you I'm frightened. You don't know him!"

"Think of the hundred thousand pounds," said Tuppence soothingly.

Mrs. Vandemeyer passed her tongue over her dried lips.

"You don't know him," she reiterated hoarsely. "He's--ah!"

With a shriek of terror she sprang to her feet. Her outstretched
hand pointed over Tuppence's head. Then she swayed to the ground
in a dead faint.

Tuppence looked round to see what had startled her.

In the doorway were Sir James Peel Edgerton and Julius

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