Another thrilling installment of this great story of the secret service
THE STORY : Major Richard Hannay, convalescing in England after being wounded in the Great War, is called to the War Office and given a job in the secret service.
The Germans, he is told, are plotting to inflame the Moslem population of the East, which would mean trouble for the British in India and elsewhere. Hannay is to learn details of this plot. The only clue he is given is a paper bearing the words “ Kasredin,”
"cancer,” and "v.I.,” which an agent in the East brought in but could not explain before he died.
Hannay is to have two companions—
Honorable Ludovick Arbuthnot, commonly called Sandy; and John S. Blenkiron, a rich American who has helped the Allies irr the United States. They are to reach Constantinople by different routes, and it is hoped that when they meet one of them will have secured the desired information. It is now November 17, and they must reach their objective by January 17.
Hannay proceeds to Lisbon and there meets an old pro-British friend, Peter Pienaar, from South Africa. Hannay has adopted the name Cornelius Brandt, and he and Pienaar plan to enter Germany together as proGerman Boers.
They accept expense money from a German agent in Lisbon, and board a ship for Rotterdam en route to Germany.
THE GERMANS, as Peter said, are a careful people. A man met us on the quay at Rotterdam. I was a bit afraid that something might have turned up in Lisbon to discredit us, and that our little friend might have warned his pals by telegram. But apparently all was serene.
Peter and I had made our plans pretty carefully on the voyage. We had talked nothing but Dutch, and had kept up between ourselves the rôle of Maritz’s men, which Peter said was the only way to play a part well. Upon my soul, before we got to Holland I was not very clear in my own mind what my past had been. Indeed the danger was that the other side of my mind, which should be busy with the great problem, would get atrophied, and that I should soon be mentally on a par with the ordinary backveld desperado. We had agreed that it would be best to get into Germany at once, and when the agent on the quay told us of a train at midday we decided to take it.
I had another fit of cold feet before we got over the frontier. At the station there was a King’s messenger whom I had seen in France, and a war correspondent who had been trotting round our part of the front before Loos. I heard a woman speaking pretty clean-cut English, which amid the hoarse Dutch jabber sounded like a lark among crows. There were copies of the English papers for sale, and English cheap editions. I felt pretty bad about the whole business, and
wondered if I should ever see these homely sights again.
But the mood passed when the train started. It was a clear blowing day, and as we crawled through the flat' pastures of Holland my time was taken up answering Peter’s questions. He had never been in Europe before, and formed a high opinion of the farming. He said he reckoned that such land would carry four sheep a morgen. We were thick in talk when we reached the frontier station and jolted over a canal bridge into Germany.
I had expected a big barricade with bart>ed wire and entrenchments. But there was nothing to see on the German side but half a dozen sentries in the field-grey I had hunted at Loos. An under officer, with the black-and-gold button of the Landsturm, hoicked us out of the train, and we were all shepherded in a big bare waiting-room, where a large stove burned. They took us two at a time into an inner room for examination. I had explained to Peter all about this formality, but I was glad we went in together, for they made us strip to the skin, and I had to curse him pretty seriously to make him keep quiet. The men who did the job were fairly civil, but they were mighty thorough. They took down a list of all we had in our pockets and bags, and all the details from the passports the Rotterdam agent had given us.
We were dressing when a man in a lieutenant’s uniform came in with a paper in his hand. He was a fresh-faced lad of about twenty, with short-sighted, spectacled eyes.
“Herr Brandt,” he called out.
“And this is Herr Pienaar?” he asked in Dutch.
He saluted. “Gentlemen. I apologize. 1 am late because of the slowness of the Herr Commandant’s motor car. Had I been in time you would not have been required to go through this ceremony. We have been advised of your coming, and I am instructed to attend you on your journey. The train for Berlin leaves in half an hour. Pray do me the honor to join me in a bock.”
With a feeling of distinction we stalked out of the ordinary ruck of passengers and followed the lieutenant to the station restaurant. He plunged at once into conversation, talking tlie Dutch of Holland, which Peter, who had forgotten his schooldays, found a bit hard to follow. He was unfit for active service because of his eyes and a weak heart, but he was a desperate fire-eater in that stuffy restaurant. By his way of it Germany could gobble up the French and the Russians whenever she cared, but she was aiming at getting all the Middle East in her hands first, so that she could come out conqueror with the practical control of half the world.
“Your friends the English,” he said grinning, “will come last. When we have starved them and destroyed their commerce with our under-sea boats we will show them what our navy' can do. For a year they have been wasting their time in brag and politics, and we have been building great ships—oh. so many! My cousin at Kiel—” and he looked over his shoulder.
But we never heard about that cousin at Kiel. A short sunburnt man came in and our friend sprang up and saluted, clicking his heels like a pair of tongs.
“These are the South African Dutch, HenCaptain,” he said.
rT'HE newcomer looked us over with bright intelligent eyes, and started questioning Peter in the taal. It was well that we had taken some pains with our story, for this man had been years in German South West, and knew every mile of the borders. Zorn was his name, and both Peter and I thought we remembered hearing him spoken of.
I am thankful to say that we both showed up pretty well. Peter told his story to perfection, not pitching it too high, and asking me now and then for a name or to verify some detail. Captain Zorn looked satisfied.
“You seem the right kind of fellows,” he said. “But remember”-and he bent his brows on us—“we do not understand slimness in this land. If you are honest you will be rewarded, but if you dare to play a double game you will be shot like dogs. Your race has produced over many traitors for my taste.” “I ask no reward,” I said gruffly. “We are not Germans or Germany’s slaves. But so long as she fights against England we will fight for her.”
“Bold words,” he said; “but you must bow your stiff necks to discipline first. Discipline has been the weak point of you Boers, and you have suffered for it. You are no more a nation. In Germany we put discipline first and last, and therefore we will conquer the world. Off with you now. Your train starts in three minutes. We will see what von Stumm will make of you.”
That fellow gave me the best “feel” of any German I had yet met. He was a white man and I could have worked with him. I liked his stiff chin and steady blue eyes.
My chief recollection of our journey to Berlin was its commonplaceness. The spectacled lieutenant fell asleep, and for the most part we had the carriage to ourselves. Now and again a soldier on leave would drop in, most of them tired men with heavy eyes. No wonder, poor devils, for they were coming back from the Yser or the Ypres salient. I would have liked to talk to them, but officially of course I knew no German, and the conversation I overheard did not signify much. It was mostly about regimental details, though one chap, who was in better spirits than the rest, observed that this was the last Christmas of misery, and that next year he would be holidaying at home with full pockets. The others assented, but without much conviction.
The winter day was short, and most of the journey was made in the dark. I could see from the window the lights of little villages, and now and then the blaze of ironworks and forges. We stopped at a town for dinner, where the platform was crowded with drafts waiting to go westward. We saw no signs of any scarcity of food, such as the English newspapers wrote about. We had an excellent dinner at the station restaurant, which, with a bottle of white wine, cost just three shillings apiece. The bread, to be sure, was poor, but I can put up with the absence of bread if I get a juicy fillet of beef and as good vegetables as you will see in the Savoy.
I was a little afraid of our giving ourselves away in our sleep, but I need have had no fear, for our escort slumbered like a hog with his mouth wide open. As we roared through the darkness I kept pinching myself to make me feel that I was in the enemy’s land on a wild mission. The rain came on, and we passed through dripping towns, with the lights shining from the wet streets. As we went eastward the lighting seemed to grow' more generous. After the murk of London it was queer to slip through garish stations with a hundred arc lights glowdng, and to see long lines of lamps running to the horizon. Peter dropped off early, but I kept
awake till midnight, trying to focus thoughts that persistently strayed. Then I, too, dozed, and did not awake till about five in the morning, when we ran into a great busy terminus as bright as midday. If was the easiest and most unsuspicious journey I ever made.
The lieutenant stretched himself and smoothed his rumpled uniform. We carried our scanty luggage to a droschke. for there seemed to be no porters. Our escort gave the address of some hotel and we rumbled out into brightly lit empty streets.
“A mighty dorp,” said Peter. “Of a truth the Germans are a great people.”
The lieutenant nodded goodhumoredly.
“The greatest people on earth,” he said, “as their enemies will soon bear witness.”
I would have given a lot for a bath, but I felt that it would be outside my part, and Peter was not of the washing persuasion. But we had a very good breakfast of coffee and eggs, and then the lieutenant started on
the telephone. He began by being dictatorial, then he seemed to be switched on to higher authorities, for he grew more polite, and at the end he fairly crawled. He made some arrangements, for he informed us that in the afternoon we would see some fellow whose title he could not translate into Dutch. I judged he was a great swell, for his voice became reverential at the mention of him.
HE TOOK US for a walk that morning after Peter and I had attended to our toilets. We were an odd pair of scallywags to look at, but as South African as a wait-a-bit bush. Both of us had ready-made tweed suits, grey flannel shirts with flannel collars, and felt hats with broader brims than they like in Europe. I had strong nailed brown boots. Peter a pair of those mustard-colored abominations which the Portuguese affect and which made him hobble like a Chinese lady. He had a scarlet satin tie which you could hear a mile off. My beard had grown to quite a respectable length, and I trimmed it like General Smuts’s. Peter’s was the kind of loose flapping thing the taukhaar loves, which has scarcely ever been shaved and is combed once in a blue moon. I must say we made a pretty solid pair. Any South African would have set us down as a Boer from the back veld who had bought a suit of clothes in the nearest store, and his cousin from some one-horse dorp who had been to school and thought himself the devil of a fellow. We fairly reeked of the sub-continent, as the papers call it.
It was a fine morning after the rain, and we wandered about in the streets for a couple of hours. They were busy enough, and the shops looked rich and bright with their Christmas goods, and one big store where I went to buy a pocketknife was packed with customers. One didn’t see very many young men, and most of the women wore mourning. Uniforms were everywhere, but their wearers generally looked like dugouts or office fellows. We had a glimpse of the squat building which housed the General Staff and took off our hats to it. Then we stared at the Marinamt, and I wondered what plots were hatching there behind old Tirpitz’s whiskers. The capital gave one an impression of ugly cleanness and a sort of dreary effectiveness. And yet I found it depressing—more depressing than London. I don’t know how to put it, but the whole big concern seemed to have no soul in it, to be like a big factory instead of a city. You won’t make a factory look like a house, though you decorate its front and plant rose bushes all round it. The place depressed and yet cheered me. It somehow made the German people seem smaller.
At three o’clock the lieutenant took us to a plain white building in a side street with sentries at the door. A young Staff officer met us and made us wait for five minutes in an anteroom. Then we were ushered into a big room with a polished floor on which Peter nearly sat down. There was a log fire burning, and seated at a table was a little man in spectacles with his hair brushed back from his brow like a popular violinist. He was the boss, for the lieutenant saluted him and announced our names. Then he disappeared, and the man at the table motioned us to sit down in two chairs before him.
“Herr Brandt and Herr Pienaar?” he asked, looking over his glasses.
But it was the other man that caught my eye. He stood with his back to the fire leaning his elbows on the mantelpiece. He was a perfect mountain of a fellow, six and a half feet if he was an inch, with shoulders on him like a shorthorn bull. He was in uniform, and the black-and-white ribbon of the Iron Cross showed at a buttonhole. His tunic was all wrinkled and strained as il it could scarcely contain his huge chest, and mighty hands were clasix?d over his stomach. That man must have had the length of reach of a gorilla. He had a great, lazy, smiling face, with a square cleft chin which stuck out beyond the rest. His brow retreated and the stubbly back of his head ran forward to meet it, while his neck below bulged out over his collar. His head was exactly the shape of a pear with the sharp end topmost.
He stared at me with his small bright eyes and I stared back. I had struck something I had been looking for for a long time, and till that moment I wasn’t sure that it existed. Here was the German of caricature, the real German, the fellow we were up against. He was as hideous as a hippopotamus, but effective. Every bristle on his odd head was effective.
The man at the table was speaking. I took him to be a civilian official of sorts, pretty high up from his surroundings, perhaps an Undersecretary. His Dutch was slow and careful, but good—too good for Peter. He had a paper before him and was asking us questions from it. They did not amount to much, being pretty well a repetition of those Zorn had asked us at the frontier. I answered fluently, for I had all our lies by heart.
Then the man on the hearthrug broke in.
“I’ll talk to them, Excellency,” he said in German. “You are too academic for these outland swine.”
He began in the taal, with the thick guttural accent that you get in German South West.
“You have heard of me,” he said. “I am the Colonel von Stumm who fought the Hereros.”
Peter pricked up his ears. “Ja, teas, you cut off the chief Baviaan’s head and sent it in pickle about the country. 1 have seen it.”
The big man laughed. “You see I am not forgotten.” he said to his friend, and then to us: “So I treat my enemies, and so will Germany treat hers. You, too, if you fail me by a fraction of an inch.” And he laughed loud again.
There was something horrible in that boisterousness. Peter was watching him from below his eyelids, as I have seen him watch a lion about to charge.
He flung himself on a chair, put his elbows on the table, and thrust his face forward.
“You have come from a damned muddled show. If I had Maritz in my power I would have him flogged at a wagon’s end. Fools and pig-dogs, they had the game in their hands and they flung it away. We could have raised a fire that would have burned the English into the sea, and for lack of fuel they let it die down. Then they try to fan it when the ashes are cold.”
He rolled a paper pellet and flicked it into the air. “That is what I think of your idiot general,” he said, “and of all you Dutch. As slow as a fat vrouw and as greedy as an aasvogel."
We looked very glum and sullen.
“A pair of dumb dogs,” he cried. “A thousand Brandenburgers would have won in a fortnight. Seitz hadn’t much to boast of, mostly clerks and farmers and half-castes, and no soldier worth the name to lead them, but it took Botha and Smuts and a dozen generals to hunt him down. But Maritz !” His scorn came like a gust of wind.
"Maritz did all the fighting there was,” said Peter sulkily. “At any rate he wasn’t afraid of the sight of khaki like your lot.”
“Maybe he wasn't,” said the giant in a cooing voice; “maybe he had his reasons for that. You Dutchmen have always a feather-bed to fall on. You can always turn traitor. Maritz now calls himself Robinson, and has a pension from his friend Botha.”
“That,” said Peter, “is a very damned lie.”
“I asked for information,” said Stumm with a sudden
politeness. “But that is all past and done with. Maritz matters no more than your old Cronjes and Krugers. The show is over, and you are looking for safety. For a new master perhaps? But, man, what can you bring? What can you offer? You and your Dutch are lying in the dust with the yoke on your necks. The Pretoria lawyers have talked you round. You see that map,” and he pointed to a big one on the wall. “South Africa is colored green. Not red for the English, or yellow for the Germans. Some day it will be yellow, but for a little it will be green—the color of neutrals, of nothings, of boys and young ladies and chicken-hearts.”
I kept wondering what he was playing at.
Then he fixed his eyes on Peter. “What do you come here for? The game’s up in your own country. What can you offer us Germans? If we gave you ten million marks and sent you back you could do nothing. Stir up a village row, perhaps, and shoot a policeman. South Africa is counted out in this war. Botha is a cleverish man and has beaten you calves’-heads of rebels. Can you deny it?”
Peter couldn’t. He was terribly honest in some things,
and these were for certain the opinions that he then held.
“No,” he said, "that is true, Iraas."
“Then what in God's name can you do?” shouted Stumm.
Peter mumbled some foolishness about nobbling Angola for Germany and starting a revolution among the natives. Stumm flung up his arms and cursed, and the Undersecretary laughed.
It was high time for me to chip in. I was beginning to see the kind of fellow this Stumm was. and as he talked I thought of my mission, which had got overlaid by my Boer past. It looked as if he might be useful.
“Let me speak,” I said. “My friend is a great hunter, but he fights better than he talks. He is no politician. You speak truth. South Africa is a closed door for the present, and the key to it is elsewhere. Here in Europe, and in the East, and in other parts of Africa. We have come to help you to find the key.”
STUMM was listening. “Go on, my little Boer. It will be a new thing to hear a taakhaar on world politics.”
“You are fighting,” 1 said, “in East Africa; and soon you may fight in Egypt. All the east coast north of the Zambesi will be your battle ground. The English run about the world with little expeditions. I do not know where the places are, though 1 read of them in the papers. But I know my Africa. You want to beat them here in Europe and on the seas. Therefore, like wise generals, you try to divide them and have them scattered throughout the globe while you stick at home. That is your plan?”
“A second Falkenhayn,” said Stumm, laughing.
“Well, England will not let East Africa go. She fears for Egypt and she fears too for India. If you press her there she will send armies and more armies till she is so weak in Europe that a child can crush her. That is England’s way. She cares more for her Empire than for what may happen to her allies. So I say press and still press there, destroy the railway to the Lakes, burn her capital, pen up every Englishman in Mombasa island. At this moment it is worth for you a thousand Damaralands.”
The man was really interested and the Under-Secretary, too, pricked up his ears.
“We can keep our territory,” said the former; "but as for pressing, how the devil are we to press? The accursed English hold the sea. We cannot ship men or guns there. South are the Portuguese and west the Belgians. You cannot move a mass without a lever.”
“The lever is there, ready for you,” I said.
“Then show it me,” he cried.
I looked at the door to see that it was shut, as if what I had to say was very secret.
“You need men, and the men are waiting. They are black, but they are the stuff of warriors. All round your borders you have the remains of great fighting tribes, the Angoni, the Masai, the Manyamwezi, and above all the Somalis of the north, and the dwellers on the Upper Nile. The British recruit their black regiments there, and so do you. But to get recruits is not enough. You must set whole nations moving, as the Zulu under Tchaka flowed over South Africa.’’
“It cannot be done,” said the Under-Secretary.
"It can be done,” I said quietly. “We two are here to do it.”
This kind of talk was jolly difficult for me, chiefly because of Stumm’s asides in German to the official. I had above all things to get the credit of knowing no German, and, if you understand a language well, it is not very easy when you are interrupted not to show that you know it, either by a direct answer, or by referring to the interruption in what you say next. I had to be always on my guard, and yet it was up to me to be very persuasive and convince these fellows that I would be useful. Somehow or other I had to get into their confidence.
“I have been for years up and down in Africa—Uganda and the Congo and the Upper Nile. I know the ways of the Kaffir as no Englishman does. We Afrikanders see into the black man’s heart, and though he may hate us he does our will. You Germans are like the English; you are too big folk to understand plain men. ‘Civilize,’ you cry. ‘Educate,’ say the English. The black man obeys and puts away his gods, but he worships them all the time in his soul. We must get his gods on our side, and then he will move mountains. We must do as John Laputa did with Sheba’s necklace.”
“That’s all in the air,” said Stumm, but he did not laugh.
“It is sober common sense,” I said. “But you must begin at the right end. First find the race that fears its priests. It is waiting for you—-the Mussulmans of Somaliland and the Abyssinian border and the Blue and White Nile. They would be like dried grasses to catch fire if you used the flint and steel of their religion. Look what the English suffered from a crazy Mullah who ruled only a dozen villages. Once get the flames going and they will lick up the pagans of the West and South. That is the way of Africa. How many thousands, think you, were in the Mahdi’s army who never heard of the Prophet till they saw the black flags of the Emirs going into battle?”
Stumm was smiling. He turned his face to the official and spoke with his hand over his mouth, but I caught his words. They were: “This is the man for Hilda.” The other pursed his lips and looked a little scared.
STUMM rang a bell and the lieutenant came in and clicked his heels. He nodded toward Peter. “Take this man away with you. We have done with him. The other fellow will follow presently.”
Peter went out with a puzzled face and Stumm turned to me.
“You are a dreamer, Brandt,” he said. “But I do not reject you on that account. Dreams sometimes come true, w'hen an army follows the visionary. But who is going to kindle the flame?”
“You,” I said.
“What the devil do you mean?” he asked. “That is your part. You are the cleverest people in the world. You have already half the Mussulman lands in your power. It is for you to show us how to kindle a holy war, for clearly you have the secret of it. Never fear but we will carry out your order.”
“We have no secret,” he said shortly, and glanced at the official, who stared out of the window.
I dropped my jaw and looked the picture of disappointment. “I do not believe you,” I said slowly. “You play a game with me. I have not come six thousand miles to be made a fool of.”
“Discipline !” Stumm cried. “This is none of your ragged commandos.” In two strides he was above me and had lifted me out of my seat. His great hands clutched my shoulders, and his thumbs gouged my armpits. 1 felt as if I were in the grip of a big ape. Then very slowly he shook me so that my teeth seemed loosened and my head swam. He let me go and I dropped limply back in the chair.
“Now, go! Fulsack! And remember that I am your master. I. Ulric von Stumm, who owns you as a Kaffir owns his mongrel. Germany may have some use for you, my friend, when you fear me as you never feared your God.”
As I walked dizzily away the big man was smiling in his horrible way, and that little official was blinking and smiling, too. I had struck a dashed queer country, so queer that I had had no time to remember that for the first time in my life I had been bullied without hitting back. W’hen I realized it I nearly choked with anger. But I thanked Heaven I had shown no temper, for I remembered my mission. Luck seemed to have brought me into useful company.
NEXT MORNING there was a touch of frost and a nip in the air which stirred my blood and put me in buoyant spirits. I forgot my precarious position and the long road I had still to travel. I came down to breakfast in great form, to find Peter’s even temper badly ruffled. He had remembered Stumm in the night and disliked the memory; this he muttered to me as we rubbed shoulders at the dining-room door. We got no opportunity for private talk. The lieutenant was with us all the time, and at night we were locked in our rooms. Peter discovered this through trying to get out to find matches, for he had the bad habit of smoking in bed.
Our guide started on the telephone, and announced that we were to be taken to see a prisoners’ camp. In the afternoon I was to go somewhere with Stumm, but the morning was for sightseeing. “You will see,” he told us, “how merciful is a great people. You will also see some of the hated English in our power. That will delight you. They are the lorerunners of all their nation.”
We drove in a taxi through the suburbs and then over a stretch of flat marketgarden-like country to a low rise of wooded hills. After an hour’s ride we entered the gate of what looked like a big reformatory or hospital. I believe it had been a home for destitute children. There were sentries at the gate and massive concentric circles of barbed wire through which we passed under an arch that was let down like a portcullis at nightfall. The lieutenant showed his permit, and we ran the car into a brick-paved yard and marched through a lot more sentries to the office of the commandant.
He was away from home, and we were welcomed by his deputy, a pale young man with a head nearly bald. There were introductions in German which our guide translated into Dutch, and a lot of elegant speeches about how Germany was foremost in humanity as well as martial valor. Then they stood us sandwiches and beer, and we formed a procession for a tour of inspection. There were two doctors, both mild-looking men in spectacles, and a couple of warders— under-officers of the good old burly, bullying sort I knew well. That was the cement which kept the German Army together. Her men were nothing to boast of on the average; no more were the officers, even in crack corps like the Guards and the Brandenburgers; but they seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of hard, competent N.C.O.’s.
We marched round the washhouses, the recreation ground, the kitchens, the hospital —with nobody in it save one chap with the “flu.” It didn’t seem to be badly done. This place was entirely for officers, and I expect it was a show place where American visitors were taken. If half the stories one heard were true there were some pretty ghastly prisons away in South and East Germany.
I didn’t half like the business. To be a prisoner has always seemed to me about the worst thing that could happen to a man. The sight of German prisoners used to give me a bad feeling inside, whereas I looked at dead Boches with nothing but satisfaction. Besides, there was the off-chance that I might be recognized. So I kept very much in the shadow whenever we passed anybody in the corridors.
The few we met passed us incuriously. They saluted the deputy-commandant, but scarcely wasted a glance on us. No doubt they thought we were inquisitive Germans come to gloat over them. They looked fairly fit, but a little puffy about the eyes, like men who get too little exercise. They seemed thin, too. I expect the food, for all the commandant’s talk, was nothing to boast of. In one room people were writing letters. It was a big place with only a tiny stove to warm it, and the windows were shut so that the atmosphere here was a cold frowst. In another room a fellow was lecturing on something to a dozen hearers and drawing figures on a blackboard. Some were in ordinary khaki, others in any old thing they could pick up, and most wore greatcoats. Your blood gets thin when you have nothing to do but hope against hope and think of your pals and the old days.
Continued on page SO
T WAS moving along, listening with half
an ear to the lieutenant’s prattle and the loud explanations of the deputy-commandant, when I pitchforked into what might have been the end of my business. We were going through a sort of convalescent room, where people were sitting who had been in hospital. It was a big place, a little warmer than the rest of the building but still abominably fuggy. There were about half a dozen men in the room, reading and playing games. They looked at us with lack-lustre eyes for a moment, and then returned to their occupations. Being convalescents I suppose they were not expected to get up and salute.
All but one, who was playing Patience at a little table by which we passed. I was feeling very bad about the thing, for I hated to see these good fellows locked away in this infernal German hole when they might have been giving the Boche his deserts at the front. The commandant went first with Peter, who had developed a great interest in prisons. Then came our lieutenant with one of the doctors; then a couple of warders; and then the second doctor and myself. I was absent-minded at the moment and was last in the queue.
The Patience-player suddenly looked up and I saw his face. I’m hanged if it wasn’t Dolly Riddell, who was our brigade machinegun officer at Loos. 1 had heard that the Germans had got him when they blew up a mine at the Quarries.
1 had to act pretty quick, for his mouth was agape, and I saw he was going to speak. The doctor was a yard ahead of me.
I stumbled and spilled his cards on the floor. Then I kneeled to pick them up and gripped his knee. His head bent to help me and I spoke low in his ear. “I’m Hannay all right. For Heaven’s sake don’t wink an eye. I’m here on a secret job.”
The doctor had turned to see what was the matter. I got a few more words in. “Cheer up, old man. We’re winning hands down.”
Then I began to talk excited Dutch and finished the collection of the cards. Dolly was playing his part well, smiling as if he were amused by the antics of a monkey. The others were coming back, the deputycommandant with an angry light in his dull eye. “Speaking to the prisoners is forbidden,” he shouted.
I looked blankly at him till the lieutenant translated.
“What kind of fellow is he?” said Dolly in English to the doctor. “He spoils my game and then jabbers High-Dutch at me.”
Officially I knew English, and that speech of Dolly’s gave me my cue. I pretended to be very angry with the very damned Englishman, and went out of the room close by the deputy-commandant, grumbling like a sick jackal. After that I had to act a bit. The last place we visited was the closeconfinement part where prisoners were kept as a punishment for some breach of the rules. They looked cheerless enough, but I pretended to gloat over the sight, and said so to the lieutenant, who passed it on to the others. I have rarely felt such a cad.
On the way home the lieutenant discoursed a lot about prisoners and detention camps, for at one time he had been on duty at Ruhleben. Peter, who had been in quod more than once in his life, was deeply interested and kept on questioning him. Among other things he told us was that they often put bogus prisoners among the rest, who acted as spies. If any plot to escape was hatched these fellows got into it and encouraged it. They never interfered till the attempt was actually made and then they had them on toast. There was nothing the Boche liked so much as an excuse for sending a poor devil to “solitary.”
THAT AFTERNOON Peter and I separated. He was left behind with the lieutenant and I was sent off to the station with my bag in the company of a Landsturm sergeant. Peter was very cross, and I didn’t care for the look of things; but I brightened up when I heard I was going somewhere with Stumm. If he wanted to see me again he must think me of some use, and if he was
Continued from page 18—Starts on page 15
going to use me he was bound to let me into his game. I liked Stumm about as much as a dog likes a scorpion, but I hankered for his society.
At the station platform, where the ornament of the Landsturm saved me all trouble about tickets, I could not see my companion. I stood waiting, while a great crowd, mostly of soldiers, swayed past me and filled all the front carriages. An officer spoke to me gruffly and told me to stand aside behind a wooden rail. I obeyed, and suddenly found Stumm’s eyes looking down at me.
“You know German?” he asked sharply.
“A dozen words,” I said carelessly. “I’ve been to Windhuk and learned enough to ask for my dinner. Peter—my friend—speaks it a bit.”
“So,” said Stumm. “Well, get into the carriage. Not that one! There, thickhead !”
I did as I was bid, he followed, and the door was locked behind us. The precaution was needless, for the sight of Stumm’s profile at the platform end would have kept out the most brazen. I wondered if I had woke up his suspicions. I must be on my guard to show no signs of intelligence if he suddenly tried me in German, and that wouldn’t be easy, for I knew it as well as I knew Dutch.
We moved into the country, but the windows were blurred with frost, and I saw nothing of the landscape. Stumm was busy with papers and let me alone. I read on a notice that one was forbidden to smoke, so to show my ignorance of German I pulled out my pipe. Stumm raised his head, saw what I was doing, and gruffly bade me put it away, as if he were an old lady that disliked the smell of tobacco.
In half an hour I got very bored, for I had nothing to read and my pipe was verboten. People passed now and then in the corridors, but no one offered to enter. No doubt they saw the big figure in uniform and thought he was the deuce of a Staff swell who wanted solitude. I thought of stretching my legs in the corridor, and was just getting up to do it when somebody slid the door back and a big figure blocked the light.
He was wearing a heavy ulster and a green felt hat. He saluted Stumm, who looked up angrily, and smiled pleasantly on us both.
“Say, gentlemen,” he said, “have you room in here for a little one? I guess I’m about smoked out of my car by your brave soldiers. I’ve gotten a delicate stomach . . .”
Stumm had risen with a brow of w'rath, and looked as if he were going to pitch the intruder off the train. Then he seemed to halt and collect himself, and the other’s face broke into a friendly grin.
“Why, it’s Colonel Stumm,” he cried. (He pronounced it like the first syllable in “stomach.”) “Very pleased to meet you again, colonel. I had the honor of making your acquaintance at our Embassy. I reckon Ambassador Gerard didn’t cotton to our conversation that night.” And the newcomer plumped himself down in the corner opposite me.
I had been pretty certain I would run across Blenkiron somewhere in Germany, but I didn’t think it would be so soon. There he sat staring at me with his full unseeing eyes, rolling out platitudes to Stumm, who was nearly bursting in his effort to keep civil. I looked moody and suspicious, which I took to be the right line.
“Things are getting a bit dead at Salonika,” said Mr. Blenkiron by way of a conversational opening.
Stumm pointed to a notice which warned officers to refrain from discussing military operations with mixed company in a railway carriage.
“Sorry,” said Blenkiron, “I can’t read that tombstone language of yours. But I reckon that that notice to trespassers, whatever it signifies, don’t apply to you and me. I take it this gentleman is in your party.”
I sat and scowled, fixing the American with suspicious eyes.
“He is a Dutchman,” said Stumm; “South African Dutch, and he is not happy, for he doesn’t like to hear English spoken.”
“We’ll shake on that,” said Blenkiron cordially. “But who said I spoke English? It’s good American. Cheer up, friend, for it isn’t the call that makes the big wapiti, as
they say out west in my country. I hate John Bull worse than a poison rattle. The colonel can tell you that.”
I dare say he could, but at that moment we slowed down at a station and Stumm got up to leave. “Good day to you, Herr Blenkiron,” he cried over his shoulder. “If you consider your comfort, don’t talk English to strange travellers. They don’t distinguish between the different brands.”
I followed him in a hurry, but was recalled by Blenkiron’s voice.
“Stay, friend,” he shouted, “you’ve left your grip,” and he handed me my bag from the luggage rack. But he showed no sign of recognition, and the last I saw of him was sitting sunk in a corner with his head on his chest as if he were going to sleep. He was a man who kept up his parts well.
rT'HERE WAS a motor car waiting—one of the grey military kind—and we started at a terrific pace over bad forest roads. Stumm had put away his papers in a portfolio, and flung me a few sentences on the journey.
“I haven’t made up my mind about you, Brandt,” he announced. “You may be a fool or a knave or a good man. If you are a knave, we will shoot you.”
“And if I am a fool?” I asked.
“Send you to the Yser or the Dvina. You will be respectable cannon-fodder.”
“You cannot do that unless I consent,” I said.
“Can’t we?” he said, smiling wickedly. “Remember you are a citizen of nowhere. Technically you are a rebel, and the British, if you go to them, will hang you, supposing they have any sense. You are in our power, my friend, to do precisely what we like with you.”
He was silent for a second, and then he said meditatively:
“But I don’t think you are a fool. You may be a scoundrel. Some kinds of scoundrels are useful enough. Other kinds are strung up with a rope. Of that we shall know more soon.”
“And if I am a good man?”
“You will be given a chance to serve Germany, the proudest privilege a mortal can have.” The strange man said this with a ringing sincerity in his voice that impressed me.
The car swung out from the trees into a park lined with saplings, and in the twilight I saw before me a biggish house like an overgrown Swiss chalet. There was a kind of archway, with a sham portcullis, and a terrace with battlements which looked as if they were made of stucco. We drew up at a Gothic front door, where a thin middle-aged man in a shooting jacket was waiting.
As we moved into the lighted hall I got a good look at our host. He was very lean and brown, with the stoop in the shoulder that one gets from being constantly on horseback. He had untidy grizzled hair and a ragged beard, and a pair of pleasant, short-sighted brown eyes.
“Welcome, my colonel,” he said. “Is this the friend you spoke of?”
“This is the Dutchman,” said Stumm. “His name is Brandt. Brandt, you see before you Herr Gaudian.”
I knew the name, of course; there weren’t many in my profession that didn’t. He was one of the biggest railway engineers in the world, the man who had built the Bagdad and Syrian railways, and the new lines in German East. I suppose he was about the greatest living authority on tropical construction. He knew the East and he knew Africa; clearly I had been brought down for him to put me through my paces.
A blonde maidservant took me to my room, which had a bare polished floor, a stove, and windows that, unlike most of the German kind I had sampled, seemed made to open. When I had washed I descended to the hall which was hung round with trophies of travel, like Dervish jibbahs and Masai shields and one or two good buffalo heads. Presently a bell was rung. Stumm appeared with his host, and we went in to supper.
I was jolly hungry and would have made a good meal if I hadn’t constantly had to keep jogging my wits. The other two talked in German, and when a question was put to me Stumm translated. The first thing I had to do was to pretend I didn’t know German and look listlessly round the room while they were talking. The second was to miss not a word, for there lay my chance. The third was to be ready to answer questions at any moment, and to show in the answering that I had not followed the previous conversation. Likewise I must not prove myself a fool in these answers, for I had to convince them that I was useful. It took some doing, and I felt like a witness in the box under a stiff cross-examination, or a man trying to play three games of chess at once.
I heard Stumm telling Gaudian the gist of my plan. The engineer shook his head.
“Too late,” he said. “It should have been done at the beginning. We neglected Africa. You know the reason why.”
Stumm laughed. “The von Einem! Perhaps, but her charm works well enough.”
Gaudian glanced toward me while I was busy with an orange salad. “I have much to tell you of that. But it can wait. Your friend is right in one thing. Uganda is a vital spot for the English, and a blow there will make their whole fabric shiver. But how can we strike? They have still the coast, and our supplies grow daily smaller.”
“We can send no reinforcements, but have we used all the local resources? That is what I cannot satisfy myself about. Zimmerman says we have, but Tressler thinks differently, and now we have this fellow coming out of the void with a story which confirms my doubt. He seems to know his job. You try him.”
HTHEREUPON Gaudian set about quesL tioning me, and his questions were very thorough. I knew just enough and no more to get through, but I think I came out with credit. You see I have a capacious memory, and in my time I had met scores of hunters and pioneers and listened to their yams, so I could pretend to knowledge of a place even when I hadn’t been there. Besides, I had once been on the point of undertaking a job up Tanganyika way, and I had got up that countryside pretty accurately.
“You say that with our help you can make trouble for the British on the three borders?” Gaudian asked at length.
“I can spread the fire if someone else will kindle it,” I said.
“But there are thousands of tribes with no affinities.”
“They are all African. You can bear me out. All African peoples are alike in one thing—they can go mad, and the madness of one infects the others. The English know this well enough.”
“Where would you start the fire?” he asked.
“Where the fuel is driest. Up in the North among the Mussulman peoples. But there you must help me. I know nothing about Islam, and I gather that you do.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because of what you have done already,” I answered.
Stumm had translated all this time, and had given the sense of my words very fairly. But with my last answer he took liberties. What he gave was: “Because the Dutchman thinks that we have some big card in dealing with the Moslem world.” Then, lowering his voice and raising his eyebrows, he said some word like “ Uhnmantl."
The other looked with a quick glance of apprehension at me. “We had better continue our talk in private, Herr Colonel,” he said. “If Herr Brandt will forgive us, we will leave him for a little to entertain himself.” He pushed the cigar-box toward me and the two got up and left the room.
I pulled my chair up to the stove, and would have liked to drop off to sleep. The tension of the talk at supper had made me very tired. I was accepted by these men for exactly what I professed to be. Stumm might suspect me of being a rascal, but it was a Dutch rascal. But all the same I was skating on thin ice. I could not sink myself utterly in the part, for if I did I would get no good out of being there. I had to keep my wits going all the time, and join the appearance and manners of a back-veld Boer with
the mentality of a British intelligence-officer. Any moment the two parts might clash and I would be faced with the most alert and deadly suspicion.
There would be no mercy from Stumm. That large man was beginning to fascinate me, even though I hated him. Gaudian was clearly a good fellow, a white man and a gentleman. I could have worked with him, for he belonged to my own totem. But the other was an incarnation of all that makes Germany detested, and yet he wasn’t altogether the ordinary German, and I couldn’t help admiring him. I noticed he neither smoked nor drank. His grossness was apparently not in the way of fleshly appetites. Cruelty, from all I had heard of him in German South West, was his hobby; but there were other things in him, some of them good, and he had that kind of crazy patriotism which becomes a religion. I wondered why he had not some high command in the field, for he had had the name of a good soldier. But probably he was a big man in his own line, whatever it was, for the Undersecretary fellow had talked small in his presence, and so great a man as Gaudian clearly respected him. There must be no lack of brains inside that funny pyramidal head.
As I sat beside the stove I was casting back to think if I had got the slightest clue to my real job. There seemed to be nothing so far. Stumm had talked of a von Einem woman who was interested in his department, perhaps the same woman as the Hilda he had mentioned the day before to the Under-Secretary. There was not much in that. She was probably some minister’s or ambassador’s wife who had a finger in high politics. If I could have caught the word Stumm had whispered to Gaudian which made him start and look askance at me ! But I had only heard a gurgle of something like “ Uhnmantl,” which wasn’t any German word that I knew.
The heat put me into a half-doze and I began dreamily to wonder what other people were doing. Where had Blenkiron been posting to in that train, and what was he up to at this moment? He had been hobnobbing with ambassadors and swells—I wondered if he had found out anything. What was Peter doing? I fervently hoped he was behaving himself, for I doubted if Peter had really tumbled to the delicacy of our job. Where was Sandy, too? As like as not bucketing in the hold of some Greek coaster in the Aegean. Then I thought of my battalion somewhere on the line between Hulluch and La Bassée, hammering at the Boche, while I was 500 miles or so inside the Boche frontier.
IT WAS a comic reflection, so comic that it woke me up. After trying in vain to find a way of stoking that stove, for it was a cold night, I got up and walked about the room. There were portraits of two decent old fellows, probably Gaudian’s parents. There were enlarged photographs, too, of engineering works, and a good picture of Bismarck. And close to the stove there was a case of maps mounted on rollers.
I pulled out one at random. It was a geological map of Germany, and with some trouble I found out where I was. I was an enormous distance from my goal, and moreover I was clean off the road to the East. To go there I must first go to Bavaria and then into Austria. I noticed the Danube flowing eastward and remembered that that was one way to Constantinople.
Then I tried another map. This one covered a big area, all Europe from the Rhine and as far east as Persia. I guessed that it was meant to show the Bagdad railway and the through routes from Germany to Mesopotamia. There were markings on it, and, as I looked closer, I saw that there were dates scribbled in blue pencil, as if to denote the stages of a journey. The dates began in Europe, and continued right on into Asia Minor and then south to Syria.
For a moment my heart jumped, for I thought I had fallen by accident on the clue I wanted. But I never got that map examined. I heard footstep« in the corridor, and very gently I let the map roll up and Continued on page 31+ Continued from page 31 turned away. When the door opened I was bending over the stove trying to get a light for my pipe.
It was Gaudian, to bid me join him and Stumm in his study.
On our way there he put a kindly hand on my shoulder. I think he thought I was bullied by Stumm and wanted to tell me that he was my friend, and he had no other language than a pat on the back.
The soldier was in his old position with his elbows on the mantelpiece and his formidable great jaw stuck out.
“Listen to me,” he said. “Herr Gaudian and I are inclined to make use of you. You may be a charlatan, in which case you will be in the devil of a mess and have yourself to thank for it. If you are a rogue you will have little scope for roguery. We will see to that. If you are a fool, you will yourself suffer for it. But if you are a good man, you will have a fair chance, and if you succeed we will not forget it. Tomorrow I go home and you will come with me and get your orders.”
I made shift to stand at attention and salute.
Gaudian spoke in a pleasant voice, as if he wanted to atone for Stumm’s imperiousness. “We are men who love our Fatherland, Herr Brandt,” he said. “You are not of that Fatherland, but at least you hate its enemies. Therefore we are allies, and trust each other like allies. Our victory is ordained by God, and we are none of us more than His instruments.”
Stumm translated in a sentence, and his voice was quite solemn. He held up his right hand and so did Gaudian, like a man taking an oath or a parson blessing his congregation.
Then I realized something of the might of Germany. She produced good and bad, cads and gentlemen, but she could put a bit of the fanatic into them all.
I WAS standing stark naked next morning in that icy bedroom, trying to bathe in about a quart of water, when Stumm entered. He strode up to me and stared me in the face. I was half a head shorter than him to begin with, and a man does not feel his stoutest when he has no clothes, so he had the pull on me every way.
“I have reason to believe that you are a liar,” he growled.
I pulled the bedcover round me, for I was shivering with cold, and the German idea of a towel is a pocket-handkerchief. I own I was in a pretty blue funk.
“A liar!” he repeated. “You and that swine Pienaar.”
With my best effort at surliness I asked what we had done.
“You lied, because you said you knew no German. Apparently your friend knows enough to talk treason and blasphemy.”
This gave me back some heart.
“I told you I knew a dozen words. But I I told you Peter could talk a bit. I told you that yesterday at the station.” Fervently I blessed my luck for that casual remark.
He evidently remembered, for his tone became a trifle more civil.
“You are a precious pair. If one of you is a scoundrel, why not the other?”
“I take no responsibility for Peter,” I said. I felt I was a cad in saying it, but that was the bargain we had made at the start. “I have known him for years as a great hunter and a brave man. I know he fought well against the English. But more I cannot tell you. Y'ou have to judge him for yourself. What has he done?”
I was told, for Stumm had got it that morning on the telephone. While telling it he was kind enough to allow me to put on my trousers.
It was just the sort of thing I might have foreseen. Peter, left alone, had become first bored and then reckless. He had persuaded the lieutenant to take him out to supper at a big Berlin restaurant. There, inspired by the lights and music—novel things for a backveld hunter—and no doubt bored stiff by his company, he had proceeded to get drunk. That had happened in my experience with Peter about once in every three years, and it always happened for the same
reason. Peter, bored and solitary in a town, went on the spree. He had a head like a rock, but he got to the required condition by wild mixing. He was quite a gentleman in his cups, and not in the least violent, but he was apt to be very free with his tongue. And that was what occurred at the Franciscana.
He had begun by insulting the Emperor, it seemed. He drank his health, but said he reminded him of a wart-hog, and thereby scarified the lieutenant’s soul. Then an officer—some tremendous swell—at an adjoining table had objected to his talking so loud, and Peter had replied insolently in respectable German. After that things became mixed. There was some kind of a fight, during which Peter calumniated the German army and all its female ancestry. How he wasn’t shot or run through I can’t imagine, except that the lieutenant loudly proclaimed that he was a crazy Boer. Anyhow the upshot was that Peter was marched off to gaol, and I was left in a pretty pickle.
“I don’t believe a word of it,” I said firmly. I had most of my clothes on now and felt more courageous. “It is a!1 a plot to get him into disgrace and draft him off to the front.”
Stumm did not storm as I expected, but smiled.
“That was always his destiny,” he said, “ever since I saw him. He was no use to us except as a man with a rifle. Cannon-fodder, nothing else. Do you imagine, you fool, that this great Empire in the thick of a world war is going to trouble its head to lay snares for an ignorant taakhaar?”
“I wash my hands of him,” I said. “If what you say of his folly is true I have no part in it. But he was my companion and I wish him well. What do you propose to do with him?”
“We will keep him under our eye,” he said, with a wicked twist of the mouth. “I have a notion that there is more at the back of this than appears. We will investigate the antecedents of Herr Pienaar. And you too, my friend. On you also we have our eye.”
I did the best thing I could have done, for what with anxiety and disgust I lost my temper.
“Look here, sir,” I cried. “I’ve had about enough of this. I came to Germany abominating the English and burning to strike a blow for you. But you haven’t given me much cause to love you. For the last two days I’ve had nothing from you but suspicion and insult. The only decent man I’ve met is Herr Gaudian. It’s because I believe that there are many in Germany like him that I’m prepared to go on with this business and do the best I can. But I wouldn’t raise my little finger for your sake.”
He looked at me very steadily for a minute. “That sounds like honesty,” he said at last in a civil voice. “You had better come down and get your coffee.”
I was safe for the moment but in very low spirits. What on earth would happen to old Peter?
To be Continued