“. . . The war has disturbed me.... I thought it would further my plans. The Germans are so efficient. Their spy system, too, was excellent. The streets are full of these boys in khaki. All empty-headed young fools.... Yet I do not know.... They won the war.... It disturbs me....
“. . . My plans are going well.... A girl butted in—I do not think she really knew anything.... But we must give up the Esthonia.... No risks now....
“. . . . All goes well. The loss of memory is vexing. It cannot be a fake. No girl could deceive me! . . .
“. . .The 29th.... That is very soon....” Mr. Carter paused.
“I will not read the details of the coup that was planned. But there are just two small entries that refer to the three of you. In the light of what happened they are interesting.
“. . . By inducing the girl to come to me of her own accord, I have succeeded in disarming her. But she has intuitive flashes that might be dangerous.... She must be got out of the way.... I can do nothing with the American. He suspects and dislikes me. But he cannot know. I fancy my armour is impregnable.... Sometimes I fear I have underestimated the other boy. He is not clever, but it is hard to blind his eyes to facts....”
Mr. Carter shut the book.
“A great man,” he said. “Genius, or insanity, who can say?”
There was silence.
Then Mr. Carter rose to his feet.
“I will give you a toast. The Joint Venture which has so amply justified itself by success!”
It was drunk with acclamation.
“There’s something more we want to hear,” continued Mr. Carter. He looked at the American Ambassador. “I speak for you also, I know. We’ll ask Miss Jane Finn to tell us the story that only Miss Tuppence has heard so far—but before we do so we’ll drink her health. The health of one of the bravest of America’s daughters, to whom is due the thanks and gratitude of two great countries!”
“That was a mighty good toast, Jane,” said Mr. Hersheimmer, as he and his cousin were being driven back in the Rolls-Royce to the Ritz.
“The one to the joint venture?”
“No—the one to you. There isn’t another girl in the world who could have carried it through as you did. You were just wonderful!”
Jane shook her head.
“I don’t feel wonderful. At heart I’m just tired and lonesome—and longing for my own country.”
“That brings me to something I wanted to say. I heard the Ambassador telling you his wife hoped you would come to them at the Embassy right away. That’s good enough, but I’ve got another plan. Jane—I want you to marry me! Don’t get scared and say no at once. You can’t love me right away, of course, that’s impossible. But I’ve loved you from the very moment I set eyes on your photo—and now I’ve seen you I’m simply crazy about you! If you’ll only marry me, I won’t worry you any—you shall take your own time. Maybe you’ll never come to love me, and if that’s the case I’ll manage to set you free. But I want the right to look after you, and take care of you.”