IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница

couldn't refuse!"

This was too much for the Russian. He burst out vehemently:

"Curse you--curse you! They know now that I betrayed them. My

life won't be safe for an hour in this country."

"That's so," assented Julius. "I'd advise you to make tracks for

Russia right away."

"Let me go, then," cried the other. "I have done what you asked.

Why do you still keep me with you?"

"Not for the pleasure of your company. I guess you can get right

off now if you want to. I thought you'd rather I tooled you back

to London."

"You may IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница never reach London," snarled the other. "Let me go here

and now."

"Sure thing. Pull up, George. The gentleman's not making the

return trip. If I ever come to Russia, Monsieur Kramenin, I shall

expect a rousing welcome, and----"

But before Julius had finished his speech, and before the car had

finally halted, the Russian had swung himself out and disappeared

into the night.

"Just a mite impatient to leave us," commented Julius, as the car

gathered way again. "And no idea of saying good-bye politely to

the ladies. Say, Jane, you can get up on the seat now."

For the first time IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница the girl spoke.

"How did you 'persuade' him?" she asked.

Julius tapped his revolver.

"Little Willie here takes the credit!"

"Splendid!" cried the girl. The colour surged into her face, her

eyes looked admiringly at Julius.

"Annette and I didn't know what was going to happen to us," said

Tuppence. "Old Whittington hurried us off. We thought it was

lambs to the slaughter."

"Annette," said Julius. "Is that what you call her?"

His mind seemed to be trying to adjust itself to a new idea.

"It's her name," said Tuppence, opening her eyes very wide.

"Shucks!" retorted Julius. "She may IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница think it's her name, because

her memory's gone, poor kid. But it's the one real and original

Jane Finn we've got here."

"What?" cried Tuppence.

But she was interrupted. With an angry spurt, a bullet embedded

itself in the upholstery of the car just behind her head.

"Down with you," cried Julius. "It's an ambush. These guys have

got busy pretty quickly. Push her a bit, George."

The car fairly leapt forward. Three more shots rang out, but

went happily wide. Julius, upright, leant over the back of the

car.

"Nothing to shoot at," he announced gloomily. "But IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница I guess

there'll be another little picnic soon. Ah!"

He raised his hand to his cheek.

"You are hurt?" said Annette quickly.

"Only a scratch."

The girl sprang to her feet.

"Let me out! Let me out, I say! Stop the car. It is me they're

after. I'm the one they want. You shall not lose your lives

because of me. Let me go." She was fumbling with the fastenings

of the door.

Julius took her by both arms, and looked at her. She had spoken

with no trace of foreign accent.

"Sit down, kid," he said gently. "I guess there's nothing wrong

with IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница your memory. Been fooling them all the time, eh?"

The girl looked at him, nodded, and then suddenly burst into

tears. Julius patted her on the shoulder.

"There, there--just you sit tight. We're not going to let you

quit."

Through her sobs the girl said indistinctly:

"You're from home. I can tell by your voice. It makes me

home-sick."

"Sure I'm from home. I'm your cousin--Julius Hersheimmer. I

came over to Europe on purpose to find you--and a pretty dance

you've led me."

The car slackened speed. George spoke over his shoulder:

"Cross-roads IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница here, sir. I'm not sure of the way."

The car slowed down till it hardly moved. As it did so a figure

climbed suddenly over the back, and plunged head first into the



midst of them.

"Sorry," said Tommy, extricating himself.

A mass of confused exclamations greeted him. He replied to them

severally:

"Was in the bushes by the drive. Hung on behind. Couldn't let

you know before at the pace you were going. It was all I could

do to hang on. Now then, you girls, get out!"

"Get out?"

"Yes. There's a station just up that road. Train due in IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница three

minutes. You'll catch it if you hurry."

"What the devil are you driving at?" demanded Julius. "Do you

think you can fool them by leaving the car?"

"You and I aren't going to leave the car. Only the girls."

"You're crazed, Beresford. Stark staring mad! You can't let

those girls go off alone. It'll be the end of it if you do."

Tommy turned to Tuppence.

"Get out at once, Tuppence. Take her with you, and do just as I

say. No one will do you any harm. You're safe. Take the train

to London. Go IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница straight to Sir James Peel Edgerton. Mr. Carter

lives out of town, but you'll be safe with him."

"Darn you!" cried Julius. "You're mad. Jane, you stay where you

are."

With a sudden swift movement, Tommy snatched the revolver from

Julius's hand, and levelled it at him.

"Now will you believe I'm in earnest? Get out, both of you, and

do as I say--or I'll shoot!"

Tuppence sprang out, dragging the unwilling Jane after her.

"Come on, it's all right. If Tommy's sure--he's sure. Be quick.

We'll miss the train."

They started IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница running.

Julius's pent-up rage burst forth.

"What the hell----"

Tommy interrupted him.

"Dry up! I want a few words with you, Mr. Julius Hersheimmer."

CHAPTER

XXV

JANE'S STORY

HER arm through Jane's, dragging her along, Tuppence reached the

station. Her quick ears caught the sound of the approaching

train.

"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

seats.

A man looked in, then passed on to the next IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

right."

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница increasing rate. Suddenly Jane Finn started up.

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

window."

"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

staring.

"DON'T!" implored Tuppence. "Lie back, and DON'T THINK. You can

be quite sure that Tommy wouldn't have said it was IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница safe if it

wasn't."

"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.

"Why?"

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница it mayn't be

so at all! Do what I tell you--lie back and don't think of

anything."

"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 THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

somewhere."

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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

swerving----Oh!"

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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница he arrived Tuppence had handed the driver

five shillings, and she and Jane had merged themselves in the

crowd.

"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

deliberately?"

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница. 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница. 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

door.

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

you."

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница, 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

Ambassador.

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

ulster.

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница, 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница'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

out!

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

that.

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

Faust."

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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

THE POCKET!

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница heard the rustle of a

dress, and slight creak. That was enough for me. I was being

watched!

"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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница, 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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 IN THE HOPE THAT THEY MAY EXPERIENCE 17 страница 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

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