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Home -> Agatha Christie -> The Secret Adversary -> Chapter 19 - Jane Finn

The Secret Adversary - Chapter 19 - Jane Finn

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

"MY train got in half an hour ago," explained Julius, as he led
the way out of the station. "I reckoned you'd come by this
before I left London, and wired accordingly to Sir James. He's
booked rooms for us, and will be round to dine at eight."

"What made you think he'd ceased to take any interest in the
case?" asked Tommy curiously.

"What he said," replied Julius dryly. "The old bird's as close
as an oyster! Like all the darned lot of them, he wasn't going to
commit himself till he was sure he could deliver the goods."

"I wonder," said Tommy thoughtfully.

Julius turned on him.

"You wonder what?"

"Whether that was his real reason."

"Sure. You bet your life it was."

Tommy shook his head unconvinced.

Sir James arrived punctually at eight o'clock, and Julius
introduced Tommy. Sir James shook hands with him warmly.

"I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Beresford. I have
heard so much about you from Miss Tuppence"--he smiled
involuntarily--"that it really seems as though I already know you
quite well."

"Thank you, sir," said Tommy with his cheerful grin. He scanned
the great lawyer eagerly. Like Tuppence, he felt the magnetism
of the other's personality. He was reminded of Mr. Carter. The
two men, totally unlike so far as physical resemblance went,
produced a similar effect. Beneath the weary manner of the one
and the professional reserve of the other, lay the same quality
of mind, keen-edged like a rapier.

In the meantime he was conscious of Sir James's close scrutiny.
When the lawyer dropped his eyes the young man had the feeling
that the other had read him through and through like an open
book. He could not but wonder what the final judgment was, but
there was little chance of learning that. Sir James took in
everything, but gave out only what he chose. A proof of that
occurred almost at once.

Immediately the first greetings were over Julius broke out into a
flood of eager questions. How had Sir James managed to track the
girl? Why had he not let them know that he was still working on
the case? And so on.

Sir James stroked his chin and smiled. At last he said:

"Just so, just so. Well, she's found. And that's the great
thing, isn't it? Eh! Come now, that's the great thing?"

"Sure it is. But just how did you strike her trail? Miss
Tuppence and I thought you'd quit for good and all."

"Ah!" The lawyer shot a lightning glance at him, then resumed
operations on his chin. "You thought that, did you? Did you
really? H'm, dear me."

"But I guess I can take it we were wrong," pursued Julius.

"Well, I don't know that I should go so far as to say that. But
it's certainly fortunate for all parties that we've managed to
find the young lady."

"But where is she?" demanded Julius, his thoughts flying off on
another tack. "I thought you'd be sure to bring her along?"

"That would hardly be possible," said Sir James gravely.


"Because the young lady was knocked down in a street accident,
and has sustained slight injuries to the head. She was taken to
the infirmary, and on recovering consciousness gave her name as
Jane Finn. When--ah!--I heard that, I arranged for her to be
removed to the house of a doctor--a friend of mine, and wired at
once for you. She relapsed into unconsciousness and has not
spoken since."

"She's not seriously hurt?"

"Oh, a bruise and a cut or two; really, from a medical point of
view, absurdly slight injuries to have produced such a condition.
Her state is probably to be attributed to the mental shock
consequent on recovering her memory."

"It's come back?" cried Julius excitedly.

Sir James tapped the table rather impatiently.

"Undoubtedly, Mr. Hersheimmer, since she was able to give her
real name. I thought you had appreciated that point."

"And you just happened to be on the spot," said Tommy. "Seems
quite like a fairy tale."

But Sir James was far too wary to be drawn.

"Coincidences are curious things," he said dryly.

Nevertheless Tommy was now certain of what he had before only
suspected. Sir James's presence in Manchester was not accidental.
Far from abandoning the case, as Julius supposed, he had by some
means of his own successfully run the missing girl to earth. The
only thing that puzzled Tommy was the reason for all this
secrecy. He concluded that it was a foible of the legal mind.

Julius was speaking.

"After dinner," he announced, "I shall go right away and see

"That will be impossible, I fear," said Sir James. "It is very
unlikely they would allow her to see visitors at this time of
night. I should suggest to-morrow morning about ten o'clock."

Julius flushed. There was something in Sir James which always
stirred him to antagonism. It was a conflict of two masterful

"All the same, I reckon I'll go round there to-night and see if I
can't ginger them up to break through their silly rules."

"It will be quite useless, Mr. Hersheimmer."

The words came out like the crack of a pistol, and Tommy looked
up with a start. Julius was nervous and excited. The hand with
which he raised his glass to his lips shook slightly, but his
eyes held Sir James's defiantly. For a moment the hostility
between the two seemed likely to burst into flame, but in the end
Julius lowered his eyes, defeated.

"For the moment, I reckon you're the boss."

"Thank you," said the other. "We will say ten o'clock then?"
With consummate ease of manner he turned to Tommy. "I must
confess, Mr. Beresford, that it was something of a surprise to me
to see you here this evening. The last I heard of you was that
your friends were in grave anxiety on your behalf. Nothing had
been heard of you for some days, and Miss Tuppence was inclined
to think you had got into difficulties."

"I had, sir!" Tommy grinned reminiscently. "I was never in a
tighter place in my life."

Helped out by questions from Sir James, he gave an abbreviated
account of his adventures. The lawyer looked at him with renewed
interest as he brought the tale to a close.

"You got yourself out of a tight place very well," he said
gravely. "I congratulate you. You displayed a great deal of
ingenuity and carried your part through well."

Tommy blushed, his face assuming a prawnlike hue at the praise.

"I couldn't have got away but for the girl, sir."

"No." Sir James smiled a little. "It was lucky for you she
happened to--er--take a fancy to you." Tommy appeared about to
protest, but Sir James went on. "There's no doubt about her being
one of the gang, I suppose?"

"I'm afraid not, sir. I thought perhaps they were keeping her
there by force, but the way she acted didn't fit in with that.
You see, she went back to them when she could have got away."

Sir James nodded thoughtfully.

"What did she say? Something about wanting to be taken to

"Yes, sir. I suppose she meant Mrs. Vandemeyer."

"She always signed herself Rita Vandemeyer. All her friends
spoke of her as Rita. Still, I suppose the girl must have been
in the habit of calling her by her full name. And, at the moment
she was crying out to her, Mrs. Vandemeyer was either dead or
dying! Curious! There are one or two points that strike me as
being obscure--their sudden change of attitude towards yourself,
for instance. By the way, the house was raided, of course?"

"Yes, sir, but they'd all cleared out."

"Naturally," said Sir James dryly.

"And not a clue left behind."

"I wonder----" The lawyer tapped the table thoughtfully.

Something in his voice made Tommy look up. Would this man's eyes
have seen something where theirs had been blind? He spoke

"I wish you'd been there, sir, to go over the house!"

"I wish I had," said Sir James quietly. He sat for a moment in
silence. Then he looked up. "And since then? What have you been

For a moment, Tommy stared at him. Then it dawned on him that of
course the lawyer did not know.

"I forgot that you didn't know about Tuppence," he said slowly.
The sickening anxiety, forgotten for a while in the excitement of
knowing Jane Finn was found at last, swept over him again.

The lawyer laid down his knife and fork sharply.

"Has anything happened to Miss Tuppence?" His voice was

"She's disappeared," said Julius.


"A week ago."


Sir James's questions fairly shot out. Between them Tommy and
Julius gave the history of the last week and their futile search.

Sir James went at once to the root of the matter.

"A wire signed with your name? They knew enough of you both for
that. They weren't sure of how much you had learnt in that house.
Their kidnapping of Miss Tuppence is the counter-move to your
escape. If necessary they could seal your lips with a threat of
what might happen to her."

Tommy nodded.

"That's just what I thought, sir."

Sir James looked at him keenly. "You had worked that out, had
you? Not bad--not at all bad. The curious thing is that they
certainly did not know anything about you when they first held
you prisoner. You are sure that you did not in any way disclose
your identity?"

Tommy shook his head.

"That's so," said Julius with a nod. "Therefore I reckon some
one put them wise--and not earlier than Sunday afternoon."

"Yes, but who?"

"That almighty omniscient Mr. Brown, of course!"

There was a faint note of derision in the American's voice which
made Sir James look up sharply.

"You don't believe in Mr. Brown, Mr. Hersheimmer?"

"No, sir, I do not," returned the young American with emphasis.
"Not as such, that is to say. I reckon it out that he's a
figurehead--just a bogy name to frighten the children with. The
real head of this business is that Russian chap Kramenin. I
guess he's quite capable of running revolutions in three
countries at once if he chose! The man Whittington is probably
the head of the English branch."

"I disagree with you," said Sir James shortly. "Mr. Brown
exists." He turned to Tommy. "Did you happen to notice where
that wire was handed in?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I didn't."

"H'm. Got it with you?"

"It's upstairs, sir, in my kit."

"I'd like to have a look at it sometime. No hurry. You've
wasted a week"--Tommy hung his head--"a day or so more is
immaterial. We'll deal with Miss Jane Finn first. Afterwards,
we'll set to work to rescue Miss Tuppence from bondage. I don't
think she's in any immediate danger. That is, so long as they
don't know that we've got Jane Finn, and that her memory has
returned. We must keep that dark at all costs. You understand?"

The other two assented, and, after making arrangements for
meeting on the morrow, the great lawyer took his leave.

At ten o'clock, the two young men were at the appointed spot. Sir
James had joined them on the doorstep. He alone appeared
unexcited. He introduced them to the doctor.

"Mr. Hersheimmer--Mr. Beresford--Dr. Roylance. How's the

"Going on well. Evidently no idea of the flight of time. Asked
this morning how many had been saved from the Lusitania. Was it
in the papers yet? That, of course, was only what was to be
expected. She seems to have something on her mind, though."

"I think we can relieve her anxiety. May we go up?"


Tommy's heart beat sensibly faster as they followed the doctor
upstairs. Jane Finn at last! The long-sought, the mysterious,
the elusive Jane Finn! How wildly improbable success had seemed!
And here in this house, her memory almost miraculously restored,
lay the girl who held the future of England in her hands. A half
groan broke from Tommy's lips. If only Tuppence could have been
at his side to share in the triumphant conclusion of their joint
venture! Then he put the thought of Tuppence resolutely aside.
His confidence in Sir James was growing. There was a man who
would unerringly ferret out Tuppence's whereabouts. In the
meantime Jane Finn! And suddenly a dread clutched at his heart.
It seemed too easy.... Suppose they should find her dead ...
stricken down by the hand of Mr. Brown?

In another minute he was laughing at these melodramatic fancies.
The doctor held open the door of a room and they passed in. On
the white bed, bandages round her head, lay the girl. Somehow the
whole scene seemed unreal. It was so exactly what one expected
that it gave the effect of being beautifully staged.

The girl looked from one to the other of them with large
wondering eyes. Sir James spoke first.

"Miss Finn," he said, "this is your cousin, Mr. Julius P.

A faint flush flitted over the girl's face, as Julius stepped
forward and took her hand.

"How do, Cousin Jane?" he said lightly.

But Tommy caught the tremor in his voice.

"Are you really Uncle Hiram's son?" she asked wonderingly.

Her voice, with the slight warmth of the Western accent, had an
almost thrilling quality. It seemed vaguely familiar to Tommy,
but he thrust the impression aside as impossible.

"Sure thing."

"We used to read about Uncle Hiram in the papers," continued the
girl, in her low soft tones. "But I never thought I'd meet you
one day. Mother figured it out that Uncle Hiram would never get
over being mad with her."

"The old man was like that," admitted Julius. "But I guess the
new generation's sort of different. Got no use for the family
feud business. First thing I thought about, soon as the war was
over, was to come along and hunt you up."

A shadow passed over the girl's face.

"They've been telling me things--dreadful things--that my memory
went, and that there are years I shall never know about--years
lost out of my life."

"You didn't realize that yourself?"

The girl's eyes opened wide.

"Why, no. It seems to me as though it were no time since we were
being hustled into those boats. I can see it all now." She
closed her eyes with a shudder.

Julius looked across at Sir James, who nodded.

"Don't worry any. It isn't worth it. Now, see here, Jane,
there's something we want to know about. There was a man aboard
that boat with some mighty important papers on him, and the big
guns in this country have got a notion that he passed on the
goods to you. Is that so?"

The girl hesitated, her glance shifting to the other two. Julius

"Mr. Beresford is commissioned by the British Government to get
those papers back. Sir James Peel Edgerton is an English Member
of Parliament, and might be a big gun in the Cabinet if he liked.
It's owing to him that we've ferreted you out at last. So you can
go right ahead and tell us the whole story. Did Danvers give you
the papers?"

"Yes. He said they'd have a better chance with me, because they
would save the women and children first."

"Just as we thought," said Sir James.

"He said they were very important--that they might make all the
difference to the Allies. But, if it's all so long ago, and the
war's over, what does it matter now?"

"I guess history repeats itself, Jane. First there was a great
hue and cry over those papers, then it all died down, and now the
whole caboodle's started all over again--for rather different
reasons. Then you can hand them over to us right away?"

"But I can't."


"I haven't got them."

"You--haven't--got them?" Julius punctuated the words with
little pauses.

"No--I hid them."

"You hid them?"

"Yes. I got uneasy. People seemed to be watching me. It scared
me--badly." She put her hand to her head. "It's almost the last
thing I remember before waking up in the hospital...."

"Go on," said Sir James, in his quiet penetrating tones. "What do
you remember?"

She turned to him obediently.

"It was at Holyhead. I came that way--I don't remember why...."

"That doesn't matter. Go on."

"In the confusion on the quay I slipped away. Nobody saw me. I
took a car. Told the man to drive me out of the town. I watched
when we got on the open road. No other car was following us. I
saw a path at the side of the road. I told the man to wait."

She paused, then went on. "The path led to the cliff, and down
to the sea between big yellow gorse bushes--they were like golden
flames. I looked round. There wasn't a soul in sight. But just
level with my head there was a hole in the rock. It was quite
small--I could only just get my hand in, but it went a long way
back. I took the oilskin packet from round my neck and shoved it
right in as far as I could. Then I tore off a bit of gorse--My!
but it did prick--and plugged the hole with it so that you'd
never guess there was a crevice of any kind there. Then I marked
the place carefully in my own mind, so that I'd find it again.
There was a queer boulder in the path just there--for all the
world like a dog sitting up begging. Then I went back to the
road. The car was waiting, and I drove back. I just caught the
train. I was a bit ashamed of myself for fancying things maybe,
but, by and by, I saw the man opposite me wink at a woman who was
sitting next to me, and I felt scared again, and was glad the
papers were safe. I went out in the corridor to get a little air.
I thought I'd slip into another carriage. But the woman called
me back, said I'd dropped something, and when I stooped to look,
something seemed to hit me--here." She placed her hand to the
back of her head. "I don't remember anything more until I woke up
in the hospital."

There was a pause.

"Thank you, Miss Finn." It was Sir James who spoke. "I hope we
have not tired you?"

"Oh, that's all right. My head aches a little, but otherwise I
feel fine."

Julius stepped forward and took her hand again.

"So long, Cousin Jane. I'm going to get busy after those papers,
but I'll be back in two shakes of a dog's tail, and I'll tote you
up to London and give you the time of your young life before we
go back to the States! I mean it--so hurry up and get well."

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