home | authors | books | about

Home -> Agatha Christie -> The Secret Adversary -> Chapter 5 - Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer

The Secret Adversary - Chapter 5 - Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer

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

"WELL," said Tuppence, recovering herself, "it really seems as
though it were meant to be."

Carter nodded.

"I know what you mean. I'm superstitious myself. Luck, and all
that sort of thing. Fate seems to have chosen you out to be
mixed up in this."

Tommy indulged in a chuckle.

"My word! I don't wonder Whittington got the wind up when
Tuppence plumped out that name! I should have myself. But look
here, sir, we're taking up an awful lot of your time. Have you
any tips to give us before we clear out?"

"I think not. My experts, working in stereotyped ways, have
failed. You will bring imagination and an open mind to the task.
Don't be discouraged if that too does not succeed. For one thing
there is a likelihood of the pace being forced."

Tuppence frowned uncomprehendingly.

"When you had that interview with Whittington, they had time
before them. I have information that the big coup was planned for
early in the new year. But the Government is contemplating
legislative action which will deal effectually with the strike
menace. They'll get wind of it soon, if they haven't already,
and it's possible that that may bring things to a head. I hope it
will myself. The less time they have to mature their plans the
better. I'm just warning you that you haven't much time before
you, and that you needn't be cast down if you fail. It's not an
easy proposition anyway. That's all."

Tuppence rose.

"I think we ought to be businesslike. What exactly can we count
upon you for, Mr. Carter?" Mr. Carter's lips twitched slightly,
but he replied succinctly: "Funds within reason, detailed
information on any point, and NO OFFICIAL RECOGNITION. I mean
that if you get yourselves into trouble with the police, I can't
officially help you out of it. You're on your own."

Tuppence nodded sagely.

"I quite understand that. I'll write out a list of the things I
want to know when I've had time to think. Now--about money----"

"Yes, Miss Tuppence. Do you want to say how much?"

"Not exactly. We've got plenty to go with for the present, but
when we want more----"

"It will be waiting for you."

"Yes, but--I'm sure I don't want to be rude about the Government
if you've got anything to do with it, but you know one really has
the devil of a time getting anything out of it! And if we have to
fill up a blue form and send it in, and then, after three months,
they send us a green one, and so on--well, that won't be much
use, will it?"

Mr. Carter laughed outright.

"Don't worry, Miss Tuppence. You will send a personal demand to
me here, and the money, in notes, shall be sent by return of
post. As to salary, shall we say at the rate of three hundred a
year? And an equal sum for Mr. Beresford, of course."

Tuppence beamed upon him.

"How lovely. You are kind. I do love money! I'll keep
beautiful accounts of our expenses all debit and credit, and the
balance on the right side, and red line drawn sideways with the
totals the same at the bottom. I really know how to do it when I

"I'm sure you do. Well, good-bye, and good luck to you both."

He shook hands with them, and in another minute they were
descending the steps of 27 Carshalton Terrace with their heads in
a whirl.

"Tommy! Tell me at once, who is 'Mr. Carter'?"

Tommy murmured a name in her ear.

"Oh!" said Tuppence, impressed.

"And I can tell you, old bean, he's IT!"

"Oh!" said Tuppence again. Then she added reflectively,

"I like him, don't you? He looks so awfully tired and bored, and
yet you feel that underneath he's just like steel, all keen and
flashing. Oh!" She gave a skip. "Pinch me, Tommy, do pinch me.
I can't believe it's real!"

Mr. Beresford obliged.

"Ow! That's enough! Yes, we're not dreaming. We've got a job!"

"And what a job! The joint venture has really begun."

"It's more respectable than I thought it would be," said Tuppence

"Luckily I haven't got your craving for crime! What time is it?
Let's have lunch--oh!"

The same thought sprang to the minds of each. Tommy voiced it

"Julius P. Hersheimmer!"

"We never told Mr. Carter about hearing from him."

"Well, there wasn't much to tell--not till we've seen him. Come
on, we'd better take a taxi."

"Now who's being extravagant?"

"All expenses paid, remember. Hop in."

"At any rate, we shall make a better effect arriving this way,"
said Tuppence, leaning back luxuriously. "I'm sure blackmailers
never arrive in buses!"

"We've ceased being blackmailers," Tommy pointed out.

"I'm not sure I have," said Tuppence darkly.

On inquiring for Mr. Hersheimmer, they were at once taken up to
his suite. An impatient voice cried "Come in" in answer to the
page-boy's knock, and the lad stood aside to let them pass in.

Mr. Julius P. Hersheimmer was a great deal younger than either
Tommy or Tuppence had pictured him. The girl put him down as
thirty-five. He was of middle height, and squarely built to match
his jaw. His face was pugnacious but pleasant. No one could have
mistaken him for anything but an American, though he spoke with
very little accent.

"Get my note? Sit down and tell me right away all you know about
my cousin."

"Your cousin?"

"Sure thing. Jane Finn."

"Is she your cousin?"

"My father and her mother were brother and sister," explained Mr.
Hersheimmer meticulously.

"Oh!" cried Tuppence. "Then you know where she is?"

"No!" Mr. Hersheimmer brought down his fist with a bang on the
table. "I'm darned if I do! Don't you?"

"We advertised to receive information, not to give it," said
Tuppence severely.

"I guess I know that. I can read. But I thought maybe it was
her back history you were after, and that you'd know where she
was now?"

"Well, we wouldn't mind hearing her back history," said Tuppence

But Mr. Hersheimmer seemed to grow suddenly suspicious.

"See here," he declared. "This isn't Sicily! No demanding
ransom or threatening to crop her ears if I refuse. These are the
British Isles, so quit the funny business, or I'll just sing out
for that beautiful big British policeman I see out there in

Tommy hastened to explain.

"We haven't kidnapped your cousin. On the contrary, we're trying
to find her. We're employed to do so."

Mr. Hersheimmer leant back in his chair.

"Put me wise," he said succinctly.

Tommy fell in with this demand in so far as he gave him a guarded
version of the disappearance of Jane Finn, and of the possibility
of her having been mixed up unawares in "some political show." He
alluded to Tuppence and himself as "private inquiry agents"
commissioned to find her, and added that they would therefore be
glad of any details Mr. Hersheimmer could give them.

That gentleman nodded approval.

"I guess that's all right. I was just a mite hasty. But London
gets my goat! I only know little old New York. Just trot out
your questions and I'll answer."

For the moment this paralysed the Young Adventurers, but
Tuppence, recovering herself, plunged boldly into the breach with
a reminiscence culled from detective fiction.

"When did you last see the dece--your cousin, I mean?"

"Never seen her," responded Mr. Hersheimmer.

"What?" demanded Tommy, astonished.

Hersheimmer turned to him.

"No, sir. As I said before, my father and her mother were
brother and sister, just as you might be"--Tommy did not correct
this view of their relationship--"but they didn't always get on
together. And when my aunt made up her mind to marry Amos Finn,
who was a poor school teacher out West, my father was just mad!
Said if he made his pile, as he seemed in a fair way to do, she'd
never see a cent of it. Well, the upshot was that Aunt Jane went
out West and we never heard from her again.

"The old man DID pile it up. He went into oil, and he went into
steel, and he played a bit with railroads, and I can tell you he
made Wall Street sit up!" He paused. "Then he died--last
fall--and I got the dollars. Well, would you believe it, my
conscience got busy! Kept knocking me up and saying: What
abour{sic} your Aunt Jane, way out West? It worried me some. You
see, I figured it out that Amos Finn would never make good. He
wasn't the sort. End of it was, I hired a man to hunt her down.
Result, she was dead, and Amos Finn was dead, but they'd left a
daughter--Jane--who'd been torpedoed in the Lusitania on her way
to Paris. She was saved all right, but they didn't seem able to
hear of her over this side. I guessed they weren't hustling any,
so I thought I'd come along over, and speed things up. I phoned
Scotland Yard and the Admiralty first thing. The Admiralty
rather choked me off, but Scotland Yard were very civil--said
they would make inquiries, even sent a man round this morning to
get her photograph. I'm off to Paris to-morrow, just to see what
the Prefecture is doing. I guess if I go to and fro hustling
them, they ought to get busy!"

The energy of Mr. Hersheimmer was tremendous. They bowed before

"But say now," he ended, "you're not after her for anything?
Contempt of court, or something British? A proud-spirited young
American girl might find your rules and regulations in war time
rather irksome, and get up against it. If that's the case, and
there's such a thing as graft in this country, I'll buy her off."

Tuppence reassured him.

"That's good. Then we can work together. What about some lunch?
Shall we have it up here, or go down to the restaurant?"

Tuppence expressed a preference for the latter, and Julius bowed
to her decision.

Oysters had just given place to Sole Colbert when a card was
brought to Hersheimmer.

"Inspector Japp, C.I.D. Scotland Yard again. Another man this
time. What does he expect I can tell him that I didn't tell the
first chap? I hope they haven't lost that photograph. That
Western photographer's place was burned down and all his
negatives destroyed--this is the only copy in existence. I got it
from the principal of the college there."

An unformulated dread swept over Tuppence.

"You--you don't know the name of the man who came this morning?"

"Yes, I do. No, I don't. Half a second. It was on his card.
Oh, I know! Inspector Brown. Quiet, unassuming sort of chap."

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary