The Twins and The Two Spies
(with C. V. Charlesworth)
(One Episode Of A Serial)
If you were to see a fist shaken in someone's face, you would know there was something up - a row about to begin.
If the fist belonged to a mild, pleasant-spoken little man, and the face was that of an older man, you would suspect something unusual.
If this older man took the threatening gesture lying down, you would think that was something fishy on - perhaps blackmail
That's how they felt - those detective twins whom you heard of some months ago, in a story about a spy with a speed boat. This time too they were suspecting nothing. But they had learnt their lesson, so -
The twins - a boy and a girl of twelve - were the children of a marine engineer who had made a very important invention which his firm was able to put into production when the Government placed a large and secret order. A terrifying adventure of the twins had ended in their getting their father and the local police to capture the enemy agent who had stolen the secret. It was thought this man was playing a lone hand, and that his capture meant the firm had been cleared of that sort of vermin. But one day a confidential message came to the head of the firm from a Government department, a request that very close watch to be kept on the workers. The police had suspicions, but at the moment there was a dead-lock. Quite a small clue might lead to important things.
The directors were very worried indeed, but they decided not to let it spoil a happy day that had been planned. The office staff and all the workers wee going in motor coaches to spend a day at the engineer's home further along the coast, to celebrate the official award that was being made to his children, and also to celebrate his invention - which was likely to get the firm a place in the sun.
A buffet arranged in the garden - fruit, sandwiches, soft (and less soft) drinks were made a pleasant rendez-vous on the lawn, and here, in due course, speeches, and the awards, were made. Those who liked could explore the adjoining woods; or go for a bathe in the private cove (the scene of the capture).
The twins got tired of being congratulated; and as it was very hot, they decided to go for a bathe, but in another cove, reached by a little-used path winding through dense gorse-bushes. It was as they walked along this path, their rubber soled sandals making no sound on the short turf, that a low murmur of voices caused them to stop in their tracks. Instinctively they bobbed down, keeping their eyes on a certain gorse-bush. Suddenly the backs of two heads showed above the spikey green shoots and yellow flowers, and then between them appeared a fist. It was shaken in a gesture of intimidation in the face of the man on the left - whose thick grey hair contrasted with the sleek, well-pomaded black head of the other. Then for a moment the dark man turned so that his profile came into view. His lips were drawn back in a snarl like a vicious dog's, his eyes were narrowed to two slits, and he said something that was apparently some sort of warning, but the only words the twins could distinguish were "if" and "remember comrade".
When the twins first saw this snarling face, they thought the man was a stranger to them. Then, as he calmed down and returned to normal, they saw to their surprise, that he was one of the clerks who worked in their father's office - a mild little man called Albert Tonkins.
Remembering their previous adventure, and the rough treatment they had had from a kindly-seeming man they were entertaining, they decided to beat it before they were spotted. So they crept back along the path. When they got to the lawn, the directors were paying a parting visit to the table with the less-soft-drinks, and talking earnestly with their father. The twins wondered whether it was up to them to tell what they had seen. But after all, the two men might have been having a private row - there was nothing to prove they were spies. The twins walked towards the house, discussing what they should do.
They had come to no conclusion when the time arrived for the visitors to depart, and they began to crowd into the hall, were a long trestle table had been placed on which waterproofs, hats, and cases lay. The twins stood watching as the men found their things, bid them cheery goodbyes, and moved off towards the coaches. Suddenly, there was Albert Tonkins walking with the grey-haired man as if they were the best of friends.
He collected his things rather hurriedly, and with his raincoat over his arms, his case in one hand and his case in the other, walked towards the door. The twins were shadowing him. As he passed through the front door, he put on his hat. Then, stopped short, he exclaimed to the man next to him, "I must taken the wrong hat! - this one's too small", and as he turned quickly back through the door, he took off the hat. To the twins' amazement, he was as bald as an egg!
He gazed in horror into the hat, crammed it on again, and made a dash for the toilet. When he emerged, he was no longer bald, and he was carrying the hat. The man who had taken Albert's hat by mistake was soon found. They laughed as they swopped hats and then climbed on to the coach. It was the last one to go, and was soon out of sight.
The twins, breathless with excitement, told their story to their father and the only director who had not yet left.
"Nonsense", said the engineer, "Tonkins doesn't wear a wig".
"Let's take no risks", said the director, and he asked to use the telephone in the engineer's study.
It was only long after that the twins heard what the director had heard over the telephone. It was that the man most wanted by Scotland Yard at the moment was as bald as an egg, though quite young. He wore (as far as Scotland Yard knew) a fair and rather curly wig.
As the coach neared the bus station, one of the directors overtook it, waving to the men as he passed. He parked his car outside, and as the men alighted, he watched them, chatting the while to a man who had come up to him and greeted him like an old acquaintance. This plain-cloths-man shadowed Albert Tonkins all that evening, while another followed the grey-haired man. Both picked up many valuable clues from the places they visited and the encounters made by the suspects. A few days later, these were arrested on a charge that was not made public.
"One up for our twins! - they've done it again", said the firm.