“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 here....”
“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.
A SUPPER PARTY AT THE SAVOY
The supper party given by Mr. Julius Hersheimmer to a few friends on the evening of the 30th will long be remembered in catering circles. It took place in a private room, and Mr. Hersheimmer’s orders were brief and forcible. He gave carte blanche—and when a millionaire gives carte blanche he usually gets it!