“I swear it. And, once’s he caught, you’ll be out of danger.”
A terrified look swept across Mrs. Vandemeyer’s face.
“Shall I? Shall I ever be?” She clutched Tuppence’s arm. “You’re sure about the money?”
“When shall I have it? There must be no delay.”
“This friend of mine will be here presently. He may have to send cables, or something like that. But there won’t be any delay—he’s a terrific hustler.”
A resolute look settled on Mrs. Vandemeyer’s face.
“I’ll do it. It’s a great sum of money, and besides”—she gave a curious smile—“it is not—wise to throw over a woman like me!”
For a moment or two, she remained smiling, and lightly tapping her fingers on the table. Suddenly she started, and her face blanched.
“What was that?”
“I heard nothing.”
Mrs. Vandemeyer gazed round her fearfully.
“If there should be some one listening——”
“Nonsense. Who could there be?”
“Even the walls might have ears,” whispered the other. “I tell you I’m frightened. You don’t know him!”
“Think of the hundred thousand pounds,” said Tuppence soothingly.
Mrs. Vandemeyer passed her tongue over her dried lips.
“You don’t know him,” she reiterated hoarsely. “He’s—ah!”
With a shriek of terror she sprang to her feet. Her outstretched hand pointed over Tuppence’s head. Then she swayed to the ground in a dead faint.
Tuppence looked round to see what had startled her.
In the doorway were Sir James Peel Edgerton and Julius
Sir James brushed past Julius and hurriedly bent over the fallen woman.
“Heart,” he said sharply. “Seeing us so suddenly must have given her a shock. Brandy—and quickly, or she’ll slip through our fingers.”
Julius hurried to the washstand.
“Not there,” said Tuppence over her shoulder. “In the tantalus in the dining-room. Second door down the passage.”
Between them Sir James and Tuppence lifted Mrs. Vandemeyer and carried her to the bed. There they dashed water on her face, but with no result. The lawyer fingered her pulse.
“Touch and go,” he muttered. “I wish that young fellow would hurry up with the brandy.”
At that moment Julius re-entered the room, carrying a glass half full of the spirit which he handed to Sir James. While Tuppence lifted her head the lawyer tried to force a little of the spirit between her closed lips. Finally the woman opened her eyes feebly. Tuppence held the glass to her lips.
Mrs. Vandemeyer complied. The brandy brought the colour back to her white cheeks, and revived her in a marvellous fashion. She tried to sit up—then fell back with a groan, her hand to her side.