THE next day passed slowly. It was necessary to curtail
expenditure. Carefully husbanded, forty pounds will last a long
time. Luckily the weather was fine, and "walking is cheap,"
dictated Tuppence. An outlying picture house provided them with
recreation for the evening.
The day of disillusionment had been a Wednesday. On Thursday the
advertisement had duly appeared. On Friday letters might be
expected to arrive at Tommy's rooms.
He had been bound by an honourable promise not to open any such
letters if they did arrive, but to repair to the National
Gallery, where his colleague would meet him at ten o'clock.
Tuppence was first at the rendezvous. She ensconced herself on a
red velvet seat, and gazed at the Turners with unseeing eyes
until she saw the familiar figure enter the room.
"Well," returned Mr. Beresford provokingly. "Which is your
"Don't be a wretch. Aren't there ANY answers?"
Tommy shook his head with a deep and somewhat overacted
"I didn't want to disappoint you, old thing, by telling you right
off. It's too bad. Good money wasted." He sighed. "Still,
there it is. The advertisement has appeared, and--there are only
"Tommy, you devil!" almost screamed Tuppence. "Give them to me.
How could you be so mean!"
"Your language, Tuppence, your language! They're very particular
at the National Gallery. Government show, you know. And do
remember, as I have pointed out to you before, that as a
"I ought to be on the stage!" finished Tuppence with a snap.
"That is not what I intended to say. But if you are sure that
you have enjoyed to the full the reaction of joy after despair
with which I have kindly provided you free of charge, let us get
down to our mail, as the saying goes."
Tuppence snatched the two precious envelopes from him
unceremoniously, and scrutinized them carefully.
"Thick paper, this one. It looks rich. We'll keep it to the
last and open the other first."
"Right you are. One, two, three, go!"
Tuppence's little thumb ripped open the envelope, and she
extracted the contents.
"Referring to your advertisement in this morning's paper, I may
be able to be of some use to you. Perhaps you could call and see
me at the above address at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning.
"27 Carshalton Gardens," said Tuppence, referring to the address.
"That's Gloucester Road way. Plenty of time to get there if we
"The following," said Tommy, "is the plan of campaign. It is my
turn to assume the offensive. Ushered into the presence of Mr.
Carter, he and I wish each other good morning as is customary. He
then says: 'Please take a seat, Mr.--er?' To which I reply
promptly and significantly: 'Edward Whittington!' whereupon Mr.
Carter turns purple in the face and gasps out: 'How much?'
Pocketing the usual fee of fifty pounds, I rejoin you in the road
outside, and we proceed to the next address and repeat the
"Don't be absurd, Tommy. Now for the other letter. Oh, this is
from the Ritz!"
"A hundred pounds instead of fifty!"
"I'll read it:
"Re your advertisement, I should be glad if you would call round
somewhere about lunch-time.
"JULIUS P. HERSHEIMMER."
"Ha!" said Tommy. "Do I smell a Boche? Or only an American
millionaire of unfortunate ancestry? At all events we'll call at
lunch-time. It's a good time--frequently leads to free food for
Tuppence nodded assent.
"Now for Carter. We'll have to hurry."
Carshalton Terrace proved to be an unimpeachable row of what
Tuppence called "ladylike looking houses." They rang the bell at
No. 27, and a neat maid answered the door. She looked so
respectable that Tuppence's heart sank. Upon Tommy's request for
Mr. Carter, she showed them into a small study on the ground
floor where she left them. Hardly a minute elapsed, however,
before the door opened, and a tall man with a lean hawklike face
and a tired manner entered the room.
"Mr. Y. A.?" he said, and smiled. His smile was distinctly
attractive. "Do sit down, both of you."
They obeyed. He himself took a chair opposite to Tuppence and
smiled at her encouragingly. There was something in the quality
of his smile that made the girl's usual readiness desert her.
As he did not seem inclined to open the conversation, Tuppence
was forced to begin.
"We wanted to know--that is, would you be so kind as to tell us
anything you know about Jane Finn?"
"Jane Finn? Ah!" Mr. Carter appeared to reflect. "Well, the
question is, what do you know about her?"
Tuppence drew herself up.
"I don't see that that's got anything to do with it."
"No? But it has, you know, really it has." He smiled again in
his tired way, and continued reflectively. "So that brings us
down to it again. What do you know about Jane Finn?
"Come now," he continued, as Tuppence remained silent. "You must
know SOMETHING to have advertised as you did?" He leaned forward
a little, his weary voice held a hint of persuasiveness. "Suppose
you tell me . . ."
There was something very magnetic about Mr. Carter's personality.
Tuppence seemed to shake herself free of it with an effort, as
"We couldn't do that, could we, Tommy?"
But to her surprise, her companion did not back her up. His eyes
were fixed on Mr. Carter, and his tone when he spoke held an
unusual note of deference.
"I dare say the little we know won't be any good to you, sir. But
such as it is, you're welcome to it."
"Tommy!" cried out Tuppence in surprise.
Mr. Carter slewed round in his chair. His eyes asked a question.
"Yes, sir, I recognized you at once. Saw you in France when I
was with the Intelligence. As soon as you came into the room, I
Mr. Carter held up his hand.
"No names, please. I'm known as Mr. Carter here. It's my
cousin's house, by the way. She's willing to lend it to me
sometimes when it's a case of working on strictly unofficial
lines. Well, now"--he looked from one to the other--"who's going
to tell me the story?"
"Fire ahead, Tuppence," directed Tommy. "It's your yarn."
"Yes, little lady, out with it."
And obediently Tuppence did out with it, telling the whole story
from the forming of the Young Adventurers, Ltd., downwards.
Mr. Carter listened in silence with a resumption of his tired
manner. Now and then he passed his hand across his lips as though
to hide a smile. When she had finished he nodded gravely.
"Not much. But suggestive. Quite suggestive. If you'll excuse
my saying so, you're a curious young couple. I don't know--you
might succeed where others have failed . . . I believe in luck,
you know--always have...."
He paused a moment, and then went on.
"Well, how about it? You're out for adventure. How would you
like to work for me? All quite unofficial, you know. Expenses
paid, and a moderate screw?"
Tuppence gazed at him, her lips parted, her eyes growing wider
"What should we have to do?" she breathed.
Mr. Carter smiled.
"Just go on with what you're doing now. FIND JANE FINN."
"Yes, but--who IS Jane Finn?"
Mr. Carter nodded gravely.
"Yes, you're entitled to know that, I think."
He leaned back in his chair, crossed his legs, brought the tips
of his fingers together, and began in a low monotone:
"Secret diplomacy (which, by the way, is nearly always bad
policy!) does not concern you. It will be sufficient to say that
in the early days of 1915 a certain document came into being. It
was the draft of a secret agreement--treaty--call it what you
like. It was drawn up ready for signature by the various
representatives, and drawn up in America--at that time a neutral
country. It was dispatched to England by a special messenger
selected for that purpose, a young fellow called Danvers. It was
hoped that the whole affair had been kept so secret that nothing
would have leaked out. That kind of hope is usually
disappointed. Somebody always talks!
"Danvers sailed for England on the Lusitania. He carried the
precious papers in an oilskin packet which he wore next his skin.
It was on that particular voyage that the Lusitania was torpedoed
and sunk. Danvers was among the list of those missing.
Eventually his body was washed ashore, and identified beyond any
possible doubt. But the oilskin packet was missing!
"The question was, had it been taken from him, or had he himself
passed it on into another's keeping? There were a few incidents
that strengthened the possibility of the latter theory. After the
torpedo struck the ship, in the few moments during the launching
of the boats, Danvers was seen speaking to a young American girl.
No one actually saw him pass anything to her, but he might have
done so. It seems to me quite likely that he entrusted the papers
to this girl, believing that she, as a woman, had a greater
chance of bringing them safely to shore.
"But if so, where was the girl, and what had she done with the
papers? By later advice from America it seemed likely that
Danvers had been closely shadowed on the way over. Was this girl
in league with his enemies? Or had she, in her turn, been
shadowed and either tricked or forced into handing over the
"We set to work to trace her out. It proved unexpectedly
difficult. Her name was Jane Finn, and it duly appeared among the
list of the survivors, but the girl herself seemed to have
vanished completely. Inquiries into her antecedents did little to
help us. She was an orphan, and had been what we should call
over here a pupil teacher in a small school out West. Her
passport had been made out for Paris, where she was going to join
the staff of a hospital. She had offered her services
voluntarily, and after some correspondence they had been
accepted. Having seen her name in the list of the saved from the
Lusitania, the staff of the hospital were naturally very
surprised at her not arriving to take up her billet, and at not
hearing from her in any way.
"Well, every effort was made to trace the young lady--but all in
vain. We tracked her across Ireland, but nothing could be heard
of her after she set foot in England. No use was made of the
draft treaty--as might very easily have been done--and we
therefore came to the conclusion that Danvers had, after all,
destroyed it. The war entered on another phase, the diplomatic
aspect changed accordingly, and the treaty was never redrafted.
Rumours as to its existence were emphatically denied. The
disappearance of Jane Finn was forgotten and the whole affair was
lost in oblivion."
Mr. Carter paused, and Tuppence broke in impatiently:
"But why has it all cropped up again? The war's over."
A hint of alertness came into Mr. Carter's manner.
"Because it seems that the papers were not destroyed after all,
and that they might be resurrected to-day with a new and deadly
Tuppence stared. Mr. Carter nodded.
"Yes, five years ago, that draft treaty was a weapon in our
hands; to-day it is a weapon against us. It was a gigantic
blunder. If its terms were made public, it would mean
disaster.... It might possibly bring about another war--not with
Germany this time! That is an extreme possibility, and I do not
believe in its likelihood myself, but that document undoubtedly
implicates a number of our statesmen whom we cannot afford to
have discredited in any way at the present moment. As a party
cry for Labour it would be irresistible, and a Labour Government
at this juncture would, in my opinion, be a grave disability for
British trade, but that is a mere nothing to the REAL danger."
He paused, and then said quietly:
"You may perhaps have heard or read that there is Bolshevist
influence at work behind the present Labour unrest?"
"That is the truth. Bolshevist gold is pouring into this country
for the specific purpose of procuring a Revolution. And there is
a certain man, a man whose real name is unknown to us, who is
working in the dark for his own ends. The Bolshevists are behind
the Labour unrest--but this man is BEHIND THE BOLSHEVISTS. Who
is he? We do not know. He is always spoken of by the unassuming
title of 'Mr. Brown.' But one thing is certain, he is the master
criminal of this age. He controls a marvellous organization.
Most of the Peace propaganda during the war was originated and
financed by him. His spies are everywhere."
"A naturalized German?" asked Tommy.
"On the contrary, I have every reason to believe he is an
Englishman. He was pro-German, as he would have been pro-Boer.
What he seeks to attain we do not know--probably supreme power
for himself, of a kind unique in history. We have no clue as to
his real personality. It is reported that even his own followers
are ignorant of it. Where we have come across his tracks, he has
always played a secondary part. Somebody else assumes the chief
role. But afterwards we always find that there has been some
nonentity, a servant or a clerk, who has remained in the
background unnoticed, and that the elusive Mr. Brown has escaped
us once more."
"Oh!" Tuppence jumped. "I wonder----"
"I remember in Mr. Whittington's office. The clerk--he called
him Brown. You don't think----"
Carter nodded thoughtfully.
"Very likely. A curious point is that the name is usually
mentioned. An idiosyncrasy of genius. Can you describe him at
"I really didn't notice. He was quite ordinary--just like anyone
Mr. Carter sighed in his tired manner.
"That is the invariable description of Mr. Brown! Brought a
telephone message to the man Whittington, did he? Notice a
telephone in the outer office?"
"No, I don't think I did."
"Exactly. That 'message' was Mr. Brown's way of giving an order
to his subordinate. He overheard the whole conversation of
course. Was it after that that Whittington handed you over the
money, and told you to come the following day?"
"Yes, undoubtedly the hand of Mr. Brown!" Mr. Carter paused.
"Well, there it is, you see what you are pitting yourselves
against? Possibly the finest criminal brain of the age. I don't
quite like it, you know. You're such young things, both of you.
I shouldn't like anything to happen to you."
"It won't," Tuppence assured him positively.
"I'll look after her, sir," said Tommy.
"And I'll look after YOU," retorted Tuppence, resenting the manly
"Well, then, look after each other," said Mr. Carter, smiling.
"Now let's get back to business. There's something mysterious
about this draft treaty that we haven't fathomed yet. We've been
threatened with it--in plain and unmistakable terms. The
Revolutionary element as good as declare that it's in their
hands, and that they intend to produce it at a given moment. On
the other hand, they are clearly at fault about many of its
provisions. The Government consider it as mere bluff on their
part, and, rightly or wrongly, have stuck to the policy of
absolute denial. I'm not so sure. There have been hints,
indiscreet allusions, that seem to indicate that the menace is a
real one. The position is much as though they had got hold of an
incriminating document, but couldn't read it because it was in
cipher--but we know that the draft treaty wasn't in
cipher--couldn't be in the nature of things--so that won't wash.
But there's SOMETHING. Of course, Jane Finn may be dead for all
we know--but I don't think so. The curious thing is that THEY'RE
TRYING TO GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE GIRL FROM US"
"Yes. One or two little things have cropped up. And your story,
little lady, confirms my idea. They know we're looking for Jane
Finn. Well, they'll produce a Jane Finn of their own--say at a
pensionnat in Paris." Tuppence gasped, and Mr. Carter smiled.
"No one knows in the least what she looks like, so that's all
right. She's primed with a trumped-up tale, and her real business
is to get as much information as possible out of us. See the
"Then you think"--Tuppence paused to grasp the supposition
fully--"that it WAS as Jane Finn that they wanted me to go to
Mr. Carter smiled more wearily than ever.
"I believe in coincidences, you know," he said.