But the girl interrupted. Springing to her feet, she cried out angrily:
“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.”
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!”