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Home -> Agatha Christie -> The Secret Adversary -> Chapter 26 - Mr. Brown

The Secret Adversary - Chapter 26 - Mr. Brown

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

SIR James's words came like a bomb-shell. Both girls looked
equally puzzled. The lawyer went across to his desk, and returned
with a small newspaper cutting, which he handed to Jane.
Tuppence read it over her shoulder. Mr. Carter would have
recognized it. It referred to the mysterious man found dead in
New York.

"As I was saying to Miss Tuppence," resumed the lawyer, "I set to
work to prove the impossible possible. The great stumbling-block
was the undeniable fact that Julius Hersheimmer was not an
assumed name. When I came across this paragraph my problem was
solved. Julius Hersheimmer set out to discover what had become of
his cousin. He went out West, where he obtained news of her and
her photograph to aid him in his search. On the eve of his
departure from New York he was set upon and murdered. His body
was dressed in shabby clothes, and the face disfigured to prevent
identification. Mr. Brown took his place. He sailed immediately
for England. None of the real Hersheimmer's friends or intimates
saw him before he sailed--though indeed it would hardly have
mattered if they had, the impersonation was so perfect. Since
then he had been hand and glove with those sworn to hunt him
down. Every secret of theirs has been known to him. Only once
did he come near disaster. Mrs. Vandemeyer knew his secret. It
was no part of his plan that that huge bribe should ever be
offered to her. But for Miss Tuppence's fortunate change of
plan, she would have been far away from the flat when we arrived
there. Exposure stared him in the face. He took a desperate
step, trusting in his assumed character to avert suspicion. He
nearly succeeded--but not quite."

"I can't believe it," murmured Jane. "He seemed so splendid."

"The real Julius Hersheimmer WAS a splendid fellow! And Mr. Brown
is a consummate actor. But ask Miss Tuppence if she also has not
had her suspicions."

Jane turned mutely to Tuppence. The latter nodded.

"I didn't want to say it, Jane--I knew it would hurt you. And,
after all, I couldn't be sure. I still don't understand why, if
he's Mr. Brown, he rescued us."

"Was it Julius Hersheimmer who helped you to escape?"

Tuppence recounted to Sir James the exciting events of the
evening, ending up: "But I can't see WHY!"

"Can't you? I can. So can young Beresford, by his actions. As a
last hope Jane Finn was to be allowed to escape--and the escape
must be managed so that she harbours no suspicions of its being a
put-up job. They're not averse to young Beresford's being in the
neighbourhood, and, if necessary, communicating with you. They'll
take care to get him out of the way at the right minute. Then
Julius Hersheimmer dashes up and rescues you in true melodramatic
style. Bullets fly--but don't hit anybody. What would have
happened next? You would have driven straight to the house in
Soho and secured the document which Miss Finn would probably have
entrusted to her cousin's keeping. Or, if he conducted the
search, he would have pretended to find the hiding-place already
rifled. He would have had a dozen ways of dealing with the
situation, but the result would have been the same. And I rather
fancy some accident would have happened to both of you. You see,
you know rather an inconvenient amount. That's a rough outline.
I admit I was caught napping; but somebody else wasn't."

"Tommy," said Tuppence softly.

"Yes. Evidently when the right moment came to get rid of him--he
was too sharp for them. All the same, I'm not too easy in my
mind about him."


"Because Julius Hersheimmer is Mr. Brown," said Sir James dryly.
"And it takes more than one man and a revolver to hold up Mr.

Tuppence paled a little.

"What can we do?"

"Nothing until we've been to the house in Soho. If Beresford has
still got the upper hand, there's nothing to fear. If otherwise,
our enemy will come to find us, and he will not find us
unprepared!" From a drawer in the desk, he took a service
revolver, and placed it in his coat pocket.

"Now we're ready. I know better than even to suggest going
without you, Miss Tuppence----"

"I should think so indeed!"

"But I do suggest that Miss Finn should remain here. She will be
perfectly safe, and I am afraid she is absolutely worn out with
all she has been through."

But to Tuppence's surprise Jane shook her head.

"No. I guess I'm going too. Those papers were my trust. I must
go through with this business to the end. I'm heaps better now

Sir James's car was ordered round. During the short drive
Tuppence's heart beat tumultuously. In spite of momentary qualms
of uneasiness respecting Tommy, she could not but feel
exultation. They were going to win!

The car drew up at the corner of the square and they got out. Sir
James went up to a plain-clothes man who was on duty with several
others, and spoke to him. Then he rejoined the girls.

"No one has gone into the house so far. It is being watched at
the back as well, so they are quite sure of that. Anyone who
attempts to enter after we have done so will be arrested
immediately. Shall we go in?"

A policeman produced a key. They all knew Sir James well. They
had also had orders respecting Tuppence. Only the third member
of the party was unknown to them. The three entered the house,
pulling the door to behind them. Slowly they mounted the rickety
stairs. At the top was the ragged curtain hiding the recess where
Tommy had hidden that day. Tuppence had heard the story from
Jane in her character of "Annette." She looked at the tattered
velvet with interest. Even now she could almost swear it
moved--as though some one was behind it. So strong was the
illusion that she almost fancied she could make out the outline
of a form.... Supposing Mr. Brown--Julius--was there waiting....

Impossible of course! Yet she almost went back to put the
curtain aside and make sure....

Now they were entering the prison room. No place for anyone to
hide here, thought Tuppence, with a sigh of relief, then chided
herself indignantly. She must not give way to this foolish
fancying--this curious insistent feeling that MR. BROWN WAS IN
THE HOUSE.... Hark! what was that? A stealthy footstep on the
stairs? There WAS some one in the house! Absurd! She was
becoming hysterical.

Jane had gone straight to the picture of Marguerite. She
unhooked it with a steady hand. The dust lay thick upon it, and
festoons of cobwebs lay between it and the wall. Sir James
handed her a pocket-knife, and she ripped away the brown paper
from the back.... The advertisement page of a magazine fell out.
Jane picked it up. Holding apart the frayed inner edges she
extracted two thin sheets covered with writing!

No dummy this time! The real thing!

"We've got it," said Tuppence. "At last...."

The moment was almost breathless in its emotion. Forgotten the
faint creakings, the imagined noises of a minute ago. None of
them had eyes for anything but what Jane held in her hand.

Sir James took it, and scrutinized it attentively.

"Yes," he said quietly, "this is the ill-fated draft treaty!"

"We've succeeded," said Tuppence. There was awe and an almost
wondering unbelief in her voice.

Sir James echoed her words as he folded the paper carefully and
put it away in his pocket-book, then he looked curiously round
the dingy room.

"It was here that our young friend was confined for so long, was
it not?" he said. "A truly sinister room. You notice the
absence of windows, and the thickness of the close-fitting door.
Whatever took place here would never be heard by the outside

Tuppence shivered. His words woke a vague alarm in her. What if
there WAS some one concealed in the house? Some one who might bar
that door on them, and leave them to die like rats in a trap?
Then she realized the absurdity of her thought. The house was
surrounded by police who, if they failed to reappear, would not
hesitate to break in and make a thorough search. She smiled at
her own foolishness--then looked up with a start to find Sir
James watching her. He gave her an emphatic little nod.

"Quite right, Miss Tuppence. You scent danger. So do I. So does
Miss Finn."

"Yes," admitted Jane. "It's absurd--but I can't help it."

Sir James nodded again.

"You feel--as we all feel--THE PRESENCE OF MR. BROWN. Yes"--as
Tuppence made a movement--"not a doubt of it--MR. BROWN IS

"In this house?"

"In this room.... You don't understand? I AM MR. BROWN...."

Stupefied, unbelieving, they stared at him. The very lines of
his face had changed. It was a different man who stood before
them. He smiled a slow cruel smile.

"Neither of you will leave this room alive! You said just now we
had succeeded. I have succeeded! The draft treaty is mine." His
smile grew wider as he looked at Tuppence. "Shall I tell you how
it will be? Sooner or later the police will break in, and they
will find three victims of Mr. Brown--three, not two, you
understand, but fortunately the third will not be dead, only
wounded, and will be able to describe the attack with a wealth of
detail! The treaty? It is in the hands of Mr. Brown. So no one
will think of searching the pockets of Sir James Peel Edgerton!"

He turned to Jane.

"You outwitted me. I make my acknowledgments. But you will not
do it again."

There was a faint sound behind him, but, intoxicated with
success, he did not turn his head.

He slipped his hand into his pocket.

"Checkmate to the Young Adventurers," he said, and slowly raised
the big automatic.

But, even as he did so, he felt himself seized from behind in a
grip of iron. The revolver was wrenched from his hand, and the
voice of Julius Hersheimmer said drawlingly:

"I guess you're caught redhanded with the goods upon you."

The blood rushed to the K.C.'s face, but his self-control was
marvellous, as he looked from one to the other of his two
captors. He looked longest at Tommy.

"You," he said beneath his breath. "YOU! I might have known."

Seeing that he was disposed to offer no resistance, their grip
slackened. Quick as a flash his left hand, the hand which bore
the big signet ring, was raised to his lips....

" 'Ave, Caesar! te morituri salutant,' " he said, still looking
at Tommy.

Then his face changed, and with a long convulsive shudder he fell
forward in a crumpled heap, whilst an odour of bitter almonds
filled the air.

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