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The Secret Adversary - Chapter 25 - Jane's Story

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

HER arm through Jane's, dragging her along, Tuppence reached the
station. Her quick ears caught the sound of the approaching

"Hurry up," she panted, "or we'll miss it."

They arrived on the platform just as the train came to a
standstill. Tuppence opened the door of an empty first-class
compartment, and the two girls sank down breathless on the padded

A man looked in, then passed on to the next carriage. Jane
started nervously. Her eyes dilated with terror. She looked
questioningly at Tuppence.

"Is he one of them, do you think?" she breathed.

Tuppence shook her head.

"No, no. It's all right." She took Jane's hand in hers. "Tommy
wouldn't have told us to do this unless he was sure we'd be all

"But he doesn't know them as I do!" The girl shivered. "You
can't understand. Five years! Five long years! Sometimes I
thought I should go mad."

"Never mind. It's all over."

"Is it?"

The train was moving now, speeding through the night at a
gradually increasing rate. Suddenly Jane Finn started up.

"What was that? I thought I saw a face--looking in through the

"No, there's nothing. See." Tuppence went to the window, and
lifting the strap let the pane down.

"You're sure?"

"Quite sure."

The other seemed to feel some excuse was necessary:

"I guess I'm acting like a frightened rabbit, but I can't help
it. If they caught me now they'd----" Her eyes opened wide and

"DON'T!" implored Tuppence. "Lie back, and DON'T THINK. You can
be quite sure that Tommy wouldn't have said it was safe if it

"My cousin didn't think so. He didn't want us to do this."

"No," said Tuppence, rather embarrassed.

"What are you thinking of?" said Jane sharply.


"Your voice was so--queer!"

"I WAS thinking of something," confessed Tuppence. "But I don't
want to tell you--not now. I may be wrong, but I don't think so.
It's just an idea that came into my head a long time ago. Tommy's
got it too--I'm almost sure he has. But don't YOU
worry--there'll be time enough for that later. And it mayn't be
so at all! Do what I tell you--lie back and don't think of

"I'll try." The long lashes drooped over the hazel eyes.

Tuppence, for her part, sat bolt upright--much in the attitude of
a watchful terrier on guard. In spite of herself she was
nervous. Her eyes flashed continually from one window to the
other. She noted the exact position of the communication cord.
What it was that she feared, she would have been hard put to it
to say. But in her own mind she was far from feeling the
confidence displayed in her words. Not that she disbelieved in
Tommy, but occasionally she was shaken with doubts as to whether
anyone so simple and honest as he was could ever be a match for
the fiendish subtlety of the arch-criminal.

If they once reached Sir James Peel Edgerton in safety, all would
be well. But would they reach him? Would not the silent forces
of Mr. Brown already be assembling against them? Even that last
picture of Tommy, revolver in hand, failed to comfort her. By
now he might be overpowered, borne down by sheer force of
numbers.... Tuppence mapped out her plan of campaign.

As the train at length drew slowly into Charing Cross, Jane Finn
sat up with a start.

"Have we arrived? I never thought we should!"

"Oh, I thought we'd get to London all right. If there's going to
be any fun, now is when it will begin. Quick, get out. We'll nip
into a taxi."

In another minute they were passing the barrier, had paid the
necessary fares, and were stepping into a taxi.

"King's Cross," directed Tuppence. Then she gave a jump. A man
looked in at the window, just as they started. She was almost
certain it was the same man who had got into the carriage next to
them. She had a horrible feeling of being slowly hemmed in on
every side.

"You see," she explained to Jane, "if they think we're going to
Sir James, this will put them off the scent. Now they'll imagine
we're going to Mr. Carter. His country place is north of London

Crossing Holborn there was a block, and the taxi was held up.
This was what Tuppence had been waiting for.

"Quick," she whispered. "Open the right-hand door!"

The two girls stepped out into the traffic. Two minutes later
they were seated in another taxi and were retracing their steps,
this time direct to Carlton House Terrace.

"There," said Tuppence, with great satisfaction, "this ought to
do them. I can't help thinking that I'm really rather clever!
How that other taxi man will swear! But I took his number, and
I'll send him a postal order to-morrow, so that he won't lose by
it if he happens to be genuine. What's this thing

There was a grinding noise and a bump. Another taxi had collided
with them.

In a flash Tuppence was out on the pavement. A policeman was
approaching. Before he arrived Tuppence had handed the driver
five shillings, and she and Jane had merged themselves in the

"It's only a step or two now," said Tuppence breathlessly. The
accident had taken place in Trafalgar Square.

"Do you think the collision was an accident, or done

"I don't know. It might have been either."

Hand-in-hand, the two girls hurried along.

"It may be my fancy," said Tuppence suddenly, "but I feel as
though there was some one behind us."

"Hurry!" murmured the other. "Oh, hurry!"

They were now at the corner of Carlton House Terrace, and their
spirits lightened. Suddenly a large and apparently intoxicated
man barred their way.

"Good evening, ladies," he hiccupped. "Whither away so fast?"

"Let us pass, please," said Tuppence imperiously.

"Just a word with your pretty friend here." He stretched out an
unsteady hand, and clutched Jane by the shoulder. Tuppence heard
other footsteps behind. She did not pause to ascertain whether
they were friends or foes. Lowering her head, she repeated a
manoeuvre of childish days, and butted their aggressor full in
the capacious middle. The success of these unsportsmanlike
tactics was immediate. The man sat down abruptly on the pavement.
Tuppence and Jane took to their heels. The house they sought was
some way down. Other footsteps echoed behind them. Their breath
was coming in choking gasps as they reached Sir James's door.
Tuppence seized the bell and Jane the knocker.

The man who had stopped them reached the foot of the steps. For a
moment he hesitated, and as he did so the door opened. They fell
into the hall together. Sir James came forward from the library

"Hullo! What's this?"

He stepped forward, and put his arm round Jane as she swayed
uncertainly. He half carried her into the library, and laid her
on the leather couch. From a tantalus on the table he poured out
a few drops of brandy, and forced her to drink them. With a sigh
she sat up, her eyes still wild and frightened.

"It's all right. Don't be afraid, my child. You're quite safe."

Her breath came more normally, and the colour was returning to
her cheeks. Sir James looked at Tuppence quizzically.

"So you're not dead, Miss Tuppence, any more than that Tommy boy
of yours was!"

"The Young Adventurers take a lot of killing," boasted Tuppence.

"So it seems," said Sir James dryly. "Am I right in thinking
that the joint venture has ended in success, and that this"--he
turned to the girl on the couch--"is Miss Jane Finn?"

Jane sat up.

"Yes," she said quietly, "I am Jane Finn. I have a lot to tell

"When you are stronger----"

"No--now!" Her voice rose a little. "I shall feel safer when I
have told everything."

"As you please," said the lawyer.

He sat down in one of the big arm-chairs facing the couch. In a
low voice Jane began her story.

"I came over on the Lusitania to take up a post in Paris. I was
fearfully keen about the war, and just dying to help somehow or
other. I had been studying French, and my teacher said they were
wanting help in a hospital in Paris, so I wrote and offered my
services, and they were accepted. I hadn't got any folk of my
own, so it made it easy to arrange things.

"When the Lusitania was torpedoed, a man came up to me. I'd
noticed him more than once--and I'd figured it out in my own mind
that he was afraid of somebody or something. He asked me if I
was a patriotic American, and told me he was carrying papers
which were just life or death to the Allies. He asked me to take
charge of them. I was to watch for an advertisement in the Times.
If it didn't appear, I was to take them to the American

"Most of what followed seems like a nightmare still. I see it in
my dreams sometimes.... I'll hurry over that part. Mr. Danvers
had told me to watch out. He might have been shadowed from New
York, but he didn't think so. At first I had no suspicions, but
on the boat to Holyhead I began to get uneasy. There was one
woman who had been very keen to look after me, and chum up with
me generally--a Mrs. Vandemeyer. At first I'd been only grateful
to her for being so kind to me; but all the time I felt there was
something about her I didn't like, and on the Irish boat I saw
her talking to some queer-looking men, and from the way they
looked I saw that they were talking about me. I remembered that
she'd been quite near me on the Lusitania when Mr. Danvers gave
me the packet, and before that she'd tried to talk to him once or
twice. I began to get scared, but I didn't quite see what to do.

"I had a wild idea of stopping at Holyhead, and not going on to
London that day, but I soon saw that that would be plumb
foolishness. The only thing was to act as though I'd noticed
nothing, and hope for the best. I couldn't see how they could
get me if I was on my guard. One thing I'd done already as a
precaution--ripped open the oilskin packet and substituted blank
paper, and then sewn it up again. So, if anyone did manage to rob
me of it, it wouldn't matter.

"What to do with the real thing worried me no end. Finally I
opened it out flat--there were only two sheets--and laid it
between two of the advertisement pages of a magazine. I stuck the
two pages together round the edge with some gum off an envelope.
I carried the magazine carelessly stuffed into the pocket of my

"At Holyhead I tried to get into a carriage with people that
looked all right, but in a queer way there seemed always to be a
crowd round me shoving and pushing me just the way I didn't want
to go. There was something uncanny and frightening about it. In
the end I found myself in a carriage with Mrs. Vandemeyer after
all. I went out into the corridor, but all the other carriages
were full, so I had to go back and sit down. I consoled myself
with the thought that there were other people in the
carriage--there was quite a nice-looking man and his wife sitting
just opposite. So I felt almost happy about it until just outside
London. I had leaned back and closed my eyes. I guess they
thought I was asleep, but my eyes weren't quite shut, and
suddenly I saw the nice-looking man get something out of his bag
and hand it to Mrs. Vandemeyer, and as he did so he WINKED....

"I can't tell you how that wink sort of froze me through and
through. My only thought was to get out in the corridor as quick
as ever I could. I got up, trying to look natural and easy.
Perhaps they saw something--I don't know--but suddenly Mrs.
Vandemeyer said 'Now,' and flung something over my nose and mouth
as I tried to scream. At the same moment I felt a terrific blow
on the back of my head...."

She shuddered. Sir James murmured something sympathetically. In
a minute she resumed:

"I don't know how long it was before I came back to
consciousness. I felt very ill and sick. I was lying on a dirty
bed. There was a screen round it, but I could hear two people
talking in the room. Mrs. Vandemeyer was one of them. I tried to
listen, but at first I couldn't take much in. When at last I did
begin to grasp what was going on--I was just terrified! I wonder
I didn't scream right out there and then.

"They hadn't found the papers. They'd got the oilskin packet
with the blanks, and they were just mad! They didn't know
whether I'd changed the papers, or whether Danvers had been
carrying a dummy message, while the real one was sent another
way. They spoke of"--she closed her eyes--"torturing me to find

"I'd never known what fear--really sickening fear--was before!
Once they came to look at me. I shut my eyes and pretended to be
still unconscious, but I was afraid they'd hear the beating of my
heart. However, they went away again. I began thinking madly.
What could I do? I knew I wouldn't be able to stand up against
torture very long.

"Suddenly something put the thought of loss of memory into my
head. The subject had always interested me, and I'd read an awful
lot about it. I had the whole thing at my finger-tips. If only I
could succeed in carrying the bluff through, it might save me. I
said a prayer, and drew a long breath. Then I opened my eyes and
started babbling in FRENCH!

"Mrs. Vandemeyer came round the screen at once. Her face was so
wicked I nearly died, but I smiled up at her doubtfully, and
asked her in French where I was.

"It puzzled her, I could see. She called the man she had been
talking to. He stood by the screen with his face in shadow. He
spoke to me in French. His voice was very ordinary and quiet,
but somehow, I don't know why, he scared me worse than the woman.
I felt he'd seen right through me, but I went on playing my part.
I asked again where I was, and then went on that there was
something I MUST remember--MUST remember--only for the moment it
was all gone. I worked myself up to be more and more distressed.
He asked me my name. I said I didn't know--that I couldn't
remember anything at all.

"Suddenly he caught my wrist, and began twisting it. The pain
was awful. I screamed. He went on. I screamed and screamed, but
I managed to shriek out things in French. I don't know how long
I could have gone on, but luckily I fainted. The last thing I
heard was his voice saying: 'That's not bluff! Anyway, a kid of
her age wouldn't know enough.' I guess he forgot American girls
are older for their age than English ones, and take more interest
in scientific subjects.

"When I came to, Mrs. Vandemeyer was sweet as honey to me. She'd
had her orders, I guess. She spoke to me in French--told me I'd
had a shock and been very ill. I should be better soon. I
pretended to be rather dazed--murmured something about the
'doctor' having hurt my wrist. She looked relieved when I said

"By and by she went out of the room altogether. I was suspicious
still, and lay quite quiet for some time. In the end, however, I
got up and walked round the room, examining it. I thought that
even if anyone WAS watching me from somewhere, it would seem
natural enough under the circumstances. It was a squalid, dirty
place. There were no windows, which seemed queer. I guessed the
door would be locked, but I didn't try it. There were some
battered old pictures on the walls, representing scenes from

Jane's two listeners gave a simultaneous "Ah!" The girl nodded.

"Yes--it was the place in Soho where Mr. Beresford was
imprisoned. Of course, at the time I didn't even know if I was in
London. One thing was worrying me dreadfully, but my heart gave
a great throb of relief when I saw my ulster lying carelessly
over the back of a chair. AND THE MAGAZINE WAS STILL ROLLED UP IN

"If only I could be certain that I was not being overlooked! I
looked carefully round the walls. There didn't seem to be a
peep-hole of any kind--nevertheless I felt kind of sure there
must be. All of a sudden I sat down on the edge of the table, and
put my face in my hands, sobbing out a 'Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!'
I've got very sharp ears. I distinctly heard the rustle of a
dress, and slight creak. That was enough for me. I was being

"I lay down on the bed again, and by and by Mrs. Vandemeyer
brought me some supper. She was still sweet as they make them. I
guess she'd been told to win my confidence. Presently she
produced the oilskin packet, and asked me if I recognized it,
watching me like a lynx all the time.

"I took it and turned it over in a puzzled sort of way. Then I
shook my head. I said that I felt I OUGHT to remember something
about it, that it was just as though it was all coming back, and
then, before I could get hold of it, it went again. Then she told
me that I was her niece, and that I was to call her 'Aunt Rita.'
I did obediently, and she told me not to worry--my memory would
soon come back.

"That was an awful night. I'd made my plan whilst I was waiting
for her. The papers were safe so far, but I couldn't take the
risk of leaving them there any longer. They might throw that
magazine away any minute. I lay awake waiting until I judged it
must be about two o'clock in the morning. Then I got up as
softly as I could, and felt in the dark along the left-hand wall.
Very gently, I unhooked one of the pictures from its
nail--Marguerite with her casket of jewels. I crept over to my
coat and took out the magazine, and an odd envelope or two that I
had shoved in. Then I went to the washstand, and damped the
brown paper at the back of the picture all round. Presently I was
able to pull it away. I had already torn out the two
stuck-together pages from the magazine, and now I slipped them
with their precious enclosure between the picture and its brown
paper backing. A little gum from the envelopes helped me to stick
the latter up again. No one would dream the picture had ever been
tampered with. I rehung it on the wall, put the magazine back in
my coat pocket, and crept back to bed. I was pleased with my
hiding-place. They'd never think of pulling to pieces one of
their own pictures. I hoped that they'd come to the conclusion
that Danvers had been carrying a dummy all along, and that, in
the end, they'd let me go.

"As a matter of fact, I guess that's what they did think at
first, and, in a way, it was dangerous for me. I learnt
afterwards that they nearly did away with me then and
there--there was never much chance of their 'letting me go'--but
the first man, who was the boss, preferred to keep me alive on
the chance of my having hidden them, and being able to tell where
if I recovered my memory. They watched me constantly for weeks.
Sometimes they'd ask me questions by the hour--I guess there was
nothing they didn't know about the third degree!--but somehow I
managed to hold my own. The strain of it was awful, though . . .

"They took me back to Ireland, and over every step of the Journey
again, in case I'd hidden it somewhere en route. Mrs. Vandemeyer
and another woman never left me for a moment. They spoke of me as
a young relative of Mrs. Vandemeyer's whose mind was affected by
the shock of the Lusitania. There was no one I could appeal to
for help without giving myself away to THEM, and if I risked it
and failed--and Mrs. Vandemeyer looked so rich, and so
beautifully dressed, that I felt convinced they'd take her word
against mine, and think it was part of my mental trouble to think
myself 'persecuted'--I felt that the horrors in store for me
would be too awful once they knew I'd been only shamming."

Sir James nodded comprehendingly.

"Mrs. Vandemeyer was a woman of great personality. With that and
her social position she would have had little difficulty in
imposing her point of view in preference to yours. Your
sensational accusations against her would not easily have found

"That's what I thought. It ended in my being sent to a
sanatorium at Bournemouth. I couldn't make up my mind at first
whether it was a sham affair or genuine. A hospital nurse had
charge of me. I was a special patient. She seemed so nice and
normal that at last I determined to confide in her. A merciful
providence just saved me in time from falling into the trap. My
door happened to be ajar, and I heard her talking to some one in
the passage. SHE WAS ONE OF THEM! They still fancied it might be
a bluff on my part, and she was put in charge of me to make sure!
After that, my nerve went completely. I dared trust nobody.

"I think I almost hypnotized myself. After a while, I almost
forgot that I was really Jane Finn. I was so bent on playing the
part of Janet Vandemeyer that my nerves began to play me tricks.
I became really ill--for months I sank into a sort of stupor. I
felt sure I should die soon, and that nothing really mattered. A
sane person shut up in a lunatic asylum often ends by becoming
insane, they say. I guess I was like that. Playing my part had
become second nature to me. I wasn't even unhappy in the
end--just apathetic. Nothing seemed to matter. And the years
went on.

"And then suddenly things seemed to change. Mrs. Vandemeyer came
down from London. She and the doctor asked me questions,
experimented with various treatments. There was some talk of
sending me to a specialist in Paris. In the end, they did not
dare risk it. I overheard something that seemed to show that
other people--friends--were looking for me. I learnt later that
the nurse who had looked after me went to Paris, and consulted a
specialist, representing herself to be me. He put her through
some searching tests, and exposed her loss of memory to be
fraudulent; but she had taken a note of his methods and
reproduced them on me. I dare say I couldn't have deceived the
specialist for a minute--a man who has made a lifelong study of a
thing is unique--but I managed once again to hold my own with
them. The fact that I'd not thought of myself as Jane Finn for so
long made it easier.

"One night I was whisked off to London at a moment's notice. They
took me back to the house in Soho. Once I got away from the
sanatorium I felt different--as though something in me that had
been buried for a long time was waking up again.

"They sent me in to wait on Mr. Beresford. (Of course I didn't
know his name then.) I was suspicious--I thought it was another
trap. But he looked so honest, I could hardly believe it.
However, I was careful in all I said, for I knew we could be
overheard. There's a small hole, high up in the wall.

"But on the Sunday afternoon a message was brought to the house.
They were all very disturbed. Without their knowing, I listened.
Word had come that he was to be killed. I needn't tell the next
part, because you know it. I thought I'd have time to rush up
and get the papers from their hiding-place, but I was caught. So
I screamed out that he was escaping, and I said I wanted to go
back to Marguerite. I shouted the name three times very loud. I
knew the others would think I meant Mrs. Vandemeyer, but I hoped
it might make Mr. Beresford think of the picture. He'd unhooked
one the first day--that's what made me hesitate to trust him."

She paused.

"Then the papers," said Sir James slowly, "are still at the back
of the picture in that room."

"Yes." The girl had sunk back on the sofa exhausted with the
strain of the long story.

Sir James rose to his feet. He looked at his watch.

"Come," he said, "we must go at once."

"To-night?" queried Tuppence, surprised.

"To-morrow may be too late," said Sir James gravely. "Besides, by
going to-night we have the chance of capturing that great man and
super-criminal--Mr. Brown!"

There was dead silence, and Sir James continued:

"You have been followed here--not a doubt of it. When we leave
the house we shall be followed again, but not molested, FOR IT IS
under police supervision night and day. There are several men
watching it. When we enter that house, Mr. Brown will not draw
back--he will risk all, on the chance of obtaining the spark to
fire his mine. And he fancies the risk not great--since he will
enter in the guise of a friend!"

Tuppence flushed, then opened her mouth impulsively.

"But there's something you don't know--that we haven't told you."
Her eyes dwelt on Jane in perplexity.

"What is that?" asked the other sharply. "No hesitations, Miss
Tuppence. We need to be sure of our going."

But Tuppence, for once, seemed tongue-tied.

"It's so difficult--you see, if I'm wrong--oh, it would be
dreadful." She made a grimace at the unconscious Jane. "Never
forgive me," she observed cryptically.

"You want me to help you out, eh?"

"Yes, please. YOU know who Mr. Brown is, don't you?"

"Yes," said Sir James gravely. "At last I do."

"At last?" queried Tuppence doubtfully. "Oh, but I thought----"
She paused.

"You thought correctly, Miss Tuppence. I have been morally
certain of his identity for some time--ever since the night of
Mrs. Vandemeyer's mysterious death."

"Ah!" breathed Tuppence.

"For there we are up against the logic of facts. There are only
two solutions. Either the chloral was administered by her own
hand, which theory I reject utterly, or else----"


"Or else it was administered in the brandy you gave her. Only
three people touched that brandy--you, Miss Tuppence, I myself,
and one other--Mr. Julius Hersheimmer!"

Jane Finn stirred and sat up, regarding the speaker with wide
astonished eyes.

"At first, the thing seemed utterly impossible. Mr. Hersheimmer,
as the son of a prominent millionaire, was a well-known figure in
America. It seemed utterly impossible that he and Mr. Brown
could be one and the same. But you cannot escape from the logic
of facts. Since the thing was so--it must be accepted. Remember
Mrs. Vandemeyer's sudden and inexplicable agitation. Another
proof, if proof was needed.

"I took an early opportunity of giving you a hint. From some
words of Mr. Hersheimmer's at Manchester, I gathered that you had
understood and acted on that hint. Then I set to work to prove
the impossible possible. Mr. Beresford rang me up and told me,
what I had already suspected, that the photograph of Miss Jane
Finn had never really been out of Mr. Hersheimmer's

But the girl interrupted. Springing to her feet, she cried out

"What do you mean? What are you trying to suggest? That Mr.
Brown is JULIUS? Julius--my own cousin!"

"No, Miss Finn," said Sir James unexpectedly. "Not your cousin.
The man who calls himself Julius Hersheimmer is no relation to
you whatsoever."

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