FICTION

Spy Against the Reich

A New Maclean’s Serial

MICHAEL ANNESLEY March 1 1941
FICTION

Spy Against the Reich

A New Maclean’s Serial

MICHAEL ANNESLEY March 1 1941

Spy Against the Reich

FICTION

MICHAEL ANNESLEY

A New Maclean’s Serial

Beginning a thrilling story of Britain's secret service and the adventures of one of its ace agents in the heart of Nazi Germany

THE EARLY September sunshine, entering through the tall windows, lit up the interior of the old hall, bringing out something of the origina beauty in the reds and deep browns of the ancestral portraits. Between the pictures the black oak panelling was hung with weapons of other days. Here a pair of richly ornamented duelling pistols were crossed above a rapier, the long thin blade of which gleamed brightly, while the jewels in the hilt winked like colored stars. There the richly damascened blade of a double-headed battleaxe glowed redly golden in a shaft of light which filtered through the stained glass of a high window.

At the end of the long room two huge logs burned in a wide, open fireplace. Above, the massive head of a Polish bison looked down, and the sunlight, reflected in the false, dark brown eyes, gave them a queer, living quality. Beneath the head was an old cavalry sabre.

It was upon this weapon that the eyes of the old man rested. He sat bolt upright on a straight-backed chair. His shrunken form was wrapped in a dressing gown, his sinewy neck muffled in a silken scarf, and he held his thin, blue-veined hands spread put toward the flames. For, although the weather was mild and sunny, old hearts beat slowly, and the man in the chair had passed the eighty-first milestone on his life’s journey.

At his side stood a girl, slim, straight, and blue-eyed. Her hands rested caressingly upon the old man’s shoulder, but her gaze was turned toward the far side of th° hall, where a tall young man stood looking out of the long window. He seemed to be listening.

Outside the windows was a stone-flagged terrace, and beyond that the ground sloped from the summit of the knoll on which the mansion stood to the boundary wall and the big wrought-iron gates a quarter of a mile away.

At the gates the straggling village street began, edged with rough timber houses which seemed to huddle together for company. Above their broad, deep-eaved roofs peeped the stunted steeple of the church. A few chickens scratched in the sun-dried dust, and a goat thrust its bearded head from a cottage doorway. A peculiar air of desolation hung over the place, and, although it still wanted two hours to noon, the village seemed asleep.

Presently the girl left the old man’s side and crossed the hall, until she, too, was gazing out of the window and past the village, past the brown plots of cultivation, past the straggling line of fir trees to the horizon, where the land rose slightly to the cloud-flecked sky.

“Have you seen anything?’’ she asked, in a low voice.

Her companion shook his head.

“Not yet. But I can hear them. Listen!”

As he spoke there came a faint, intermittent mutter like distant thunder, and the glass in the windows rattled slightly. The old man stirred in his chair.

“Guns,” he muttered, and once more he raised his eyes to the old cavalry sabre above the mantelpiece.

“Look!” whispered the girl, suddenly pointing.

In the far distance a number of tiny dots ran down the sunlit slope, until they were hidden by the line of trees. When they emerged into the open again, making for the cultivated lands at a steady walk, they were fewer in number.

“They’ll try to hold the big wood,” said the young man, but he spoke in a tone which showed that he knew the attempt would be in vain.

The girl’s blue eyes filled with tears.

“It’s always retreat,” she whispered. “If only the rains had come ! We must get away before it is too late.”

The young man nodded, and for an instant his hand strayed to the inside pocket of his coat.

“You must,” he replied, “and the old chap, if you can persuade him to go. But I’m stopping.”

“Stopping? Oh, you mustn’t, you mustn’t!” The girl clung to his arm. “You might lx? shot. The risk is too great.”

A smile of unusual tenderness came into the young man’s face, and he slipped an arm affectionately about her shoulders.

“If this hadn’t happened,” he said, glancing for a moment at the horizon as the windows rattled again to the concussion of gunfire, “if this hadn’t happened my task would have been comparatively easy. As it is it may take me months by any other route. I must accept the risk, but I promise you I’ll be very careful.”

He bent and kissed her. For an instant she clung to him, then quietly she returned to the old man and began to reason with him. The younger man glanced after her, and there was tenderness in his eyes.

“She’s taking it like a thoroughbred,” he murmured admiringly.

He drew from his pocket a sheet of paper, read it through, then, flicking open his lighter, set fire to it. When he had disposed of the ashes he looked again out of the window. The advancing figures had crossed the cultivated land and were entering the far end of the village. Their greenishcolored uniforms proclaimed them to be Polish infantry.

NCE more the girl joined him.

“He still refuses to leave. I’ve tried every argument I can think of, but he says he never moved in the last war until they took him away forcibly, and he’s not going to move now.”

Her companion threw a sympathetic glance at the old man.

“I don’t blame him for his obstinacy, because I can understand how he feels. This is his house; it’s been the home of his family for hundreds of years. If he went from here he would probably die from exposure and hardship, so he prefers to remain and take his chance.”

He looked at the girl and laid both hands on her shoulders.

“But you must go, my dear. There are no two ways about that. You understand, don’t you?”

“Yes, I understand. But, oh, my darling. I’d much rather stay with you.”

“I know you would, and in a way I’d like to have you by my side. But there are other matters to be considered.”

He broke off as the faint thud of the guns shook the windows again. The girl reached up and kissed him tenderly and longingly.

“I’ll get ready,” she said quietly.

She mounted the wide staircase at the far end of the long hall, pausing in the gallery to throw a kiss to the man by the window. He returned it with a gaiety he was far from feeling, and, going out by a small door beneath the gallery, left the hall in possession of the old man.

For long minutes the latter remained as motionless as an image carved in ivory. Then, rather shakily, he got out of his chair and took a few uncertain steps toward the mantelpiece. Reaching out his thin hand, he gently caressed the hilt of the cavalry sabre.

“Kolki! Kobryn! Zbaszini! Przemysl! Minski!! Polotsk! ! !”

The old voice trembled, but was charged with slumbering fire. For an instant the dim eyes flashed and the shrunken figure seemed to swell as, with his fingers lingering lovingly upon the hilt, he cried the names of great battles of bygone ages in which he and his ancestors had wielded that heavy sword in defense of the liberty of Poland.

The sound of a door opening on the gallery above the big hall caused him to return furtively to his chair. The girl descended the stairs carrying a suitcase, and as she stepped upon the black bearskin spread upon the floor, the young man reappeared. He was now dressed in the stained and dusty uniform of a Polish infantry private.

They met without speaking, and hand in hand walked the length of the hall to the old man’s chair. For the last time they tried to persuade him to leave. Adamant as ever, he refused, and there was a peculiar light in the tired eyes which perturbed the younger man. But, faced with the obstinacy of old age, he knew that nothing would shake that iron resolve.

Gently the girl stooped and kissed the wrinkled forehead, and for a moment the thin hands grasped hers. No word was spoken, and after a few moments the young couple moved quietly away through the long, stoneflagged passage of the mansion until they reached the cobbled yard, where in bygone days as many as sixty horses had been stabled.

The young man flung open a door on the right, and as he climbed into the driving-seat of a car which stood just inside, a louder burst of gunfire warned him that there was no time to be lost.

He drove the car into the yard and slung the girl’s suitcase into it. For an instant they clung to each other while the mutter of the distant guns redoubled.

“Good-by,” whispered the girl, and her red lips quivered.

The young man put his fingers beneath her chin and smiled into her eyes.

“Au revoir," he answered. “And give my love to Peter.”

The words ripped away the last remaining shreds of the girl’s self-control. She bit her lips, released herself from his embrace, and hurriedly entered the car. An instant later it moved forward with a sudden jerk toward the yard gates. As it turned into the road the girl looked over her shoulder and raised her hand. The man waved back. He never knew the difficulty she had in driving

the next hundred yards, for her eyes were blinded with tears.

IVHE YOUNG man returned to the house, which was now empty save for himself and the old man. for the servants had long ago joined the stream of refugees fleeing before the German invasion. The old man still sat by the fire, apparently heedless of the almost constant rattling of the windows, for the gunfire had become continuous.

The young man looked across the plain toward the horizon. In the far distance two dozen queer-looking objects were coming swiftly down the slope from the skyline. Occasionally a small dun-colored cloud of smoke hung by the side of a tank for a few seconds, showing that here and there isolated parties of Poles were resisting to the end.

But resistance against the swift mechanized attack was futile, for neither tank traps nor proper fortifications had been prepared. The Poles had pinned their faith on the autumn rains and the deep, sticky mud which was the natural corollary. The weather had failed them. The roads and the countryside were firm and dry, and without the mud their meagre defenses had crumbled.

In the village at the foot of the knoll weary soldiers, under the direction of an officer, were hastily erecting a barricade. The young man smiled at their pitiful efforts. With the few men available, defense of the village was impossible. The tanks would smash their way through the wooden buildings with ease, and the defenders would have to choose, if the choice were offered them, between death and capture.

And then he saw a party of soldiers ascending the knoll toward the mansion. He frowned anxiously for a moment. He had no wish to become involved in the fighting, and it was obvious that the approaching soldiers intended to put the great house into a state of defense. He turned and explained the situation to his companion. But the information produced no impression beyond a hopeless, resigned gesture with a thin hand. The young man waited until the Poles had almost reached the summit of the knoll before he moved away from the window. By that time the tanks had reached the edge of the fir wood in the middle distance, and the crackle of rifle fire and the staccato rattle of machine guns showed that they had made contact with the Poles who had taken cover there. The resistance could not be maintained for long, and with the high speed at which the tanks moved they would soon be attacking the village.

With a resigned shrug the young man crossed the hall to the door beneath the gallery. He was of the type which would much rather face danger than take steps to avoid it. but he was being compelled by duty to seek some safe hiding place. Though he was not entitled to wear his Polish uniform, he would have much preferred to fight alongside the men who at that moment were clattering up the steps to the stone-flagged terrace.

The old man never stirred from his seat by the fire when the soldiers entered the hall. The lieutenant in command saluted and muttered rough words of regret, but again the old man made that resigned movement with his hand.

“Do what is necessary,” he murmured. “It is for Poland.”

The lieutenant saluted again and withdrew. There was work to be done.

Some minutes later the tanks emerged from the near side of the fir trees and began to advance upon the village. They opened fire as they crossed the cultivated lands, and it was not long before several of the houses were blazing furiously. The red tongues of flame licked greedily at the dry timber, and before long the whole of one side of the straggling street was ablaze. The smoke rolled away across the plain in thick black clouds which held in them a menacing hint of what was to come. Now and then a figure, bent almost double, plunged from a burning house into the street and staggered a moment before falling, to remain motionless in some queer, uneasy posture.

“Smoking them out like rats,” muttered the lieutenant, and suddenly stiffened like a pointer as he saw half a dozen tanks burst from behind the banks of smoke, and, like heavy, unwieldy ships in a swell, plunge past the village. Then he shrugged his shoulders. The tanks were obviously going to surround the mansion in which he had established his poste de commandement, but as they travelled at thirty miles an hour or more, there was nothing he could do about it. Long before he could withdraw his men, the enemy would be in a position to cut him off.

The firing from the village continued, while the remaining tanks hovered on the outskirts like ungainly prehistoric monsters attracted by some unusual spectacle. But the resistance was crumbling and, first by twos and threes and then in an ever-increasing stream, the Poles left the houses and retreated toward the knoll.

But few of them were destined to reach the comparative shelter of stone walls, for three black specks like birds of prey appeared above the distant horizon. With almost incredible speed they drew near the retreating men. who. hearing the roar of the engines, glanced apprehensively over their shoulders and ran on toward the mansion.

Within a few seconds, however, the machines overtook them. Above the deeper roar of the engines came the sharp rattle of machine guns as the fleeing men were raked with burst after burst of murderous fire. Caught in the open, they had little chance. Their one hope lay in scattering, and this they would not do. for a natural instinct to get under cover bade them hasten to the mansion. As the machines zoomed upward and banked steeply, preparatory to returning, men dropped to the ground on all sides. Some lay in the stiffening attitude of death, while others writhed in agony.

After the German machines had made their second dive, nearly half the troops that had set out from the village had been destroyed, and it was a mere handful of shaken men who clambered over the barricades of furniture which had been hastily thrown up.

For the time being the airplanes had done their task, but they continued to fly back and forth over the plain searching for parties of survivors to machine-gun in the open. Meanwhile the tanks resumed their advance through the village and began to climb the knoll.

The defense was hopelessly situated from the outset, for the position had already been surrounded. The lieutenant realized this only too well, yet he could not bring himself to surrender without a fight. Fortunately he had something more effective than the command of rifle fire. As the first tank neared the mansion he withdrew the safety pin from a bomb and hurled it over the terrace.

TT WAS a well-aimed shot, for it exploded against the

bows of the vehicle, seriously damaging the left-hand track. The tank swung sharply round at right angles and stopped dead. Immediately there was a terrific burst of fire from the other machines. Bullets smacked against the solid stone walls of the house, shattered the glass of the windows, and the explosion of shells knocked several ancient weapons from the walls of the hall. But the fusilade did not harm the defenders, nor the old man by the fire, who never so much as raised his head. The tanks were firing from below the terrace, upward at an angle, and most of the bullets lodged high in the wall opposite the windows or in the steep raftered ceiling.

The lieutenant hurled another bomb, but this time his aim was short. Earth and stones were flung into the air in the path of an advancing tank, but the machine came on undamaged. The roar of the engines and the rattle of the machine-gun and rifle fire drowned the lieutenant’s curse. He grasped a third grenade, but before he could withdraw the pin a withering blast of fire swept across the windows. Men fell like skittles in a bowling alley, and the officer had just time to realize that this fresh attack came from one of the encircling tanks which had found its way onto the terrace from the back of the house, when two bullets struck him simultaneously. He fell dead with the bomb still gripped in his hand.

The tank on the terrace commanded the situation. No man behind the crude barricades could move a finger without being instantly seen. The domination was so complete that as if by common consent both sides stopped firing, and a hoarse voice shouted in German, “Surrender or be wiped out !”

There was a momentary pause, a strange, eerie silence after the previous noise of the fight. Then the Poles accepted the situation. There was nothing more they could do, and they would benefit nobody by fighting until the end. Someone held a dirty white rag over the edge of the barricade as a signal of capitulation.

“Come out onto the terrace and put your weapons in a heap.” came the order in German.

Sullenly the Poles climbed out. of the windows into the cheerful sunlight, threw their rifles onto the paving, and stood aside under the threatening guns of the tank. None of them noticed the young man, who, emerging from the door beneath the gallery, where he had listened to the din of the brief fight, came last, added a rifle to the pile, and took his place among the prisoners at the back of the group. Only the old man, the dead, and the more seriously wounded remained within the mansion.

“If there is the least sign of treachery, machine-gun the lot,” ordered the German officer.

The young man at the back of the group of prisoners hoped fervently that there would be no treachery, and apprehensively wriggled his toes in his boots.

The tank door opened and an officer climbed out, accompanied by two soldiers with pistols in their hands. The officer surveyed the downcast Poles with contempt and spat upon the stone flags.

“Scum!” he snarled, and looked across to the burning village, where German infantry were arriving in open trucks. “They’ll have the pleasant task of looking after you,” he said, with a jerk of his head, “and when you reach Germany you’ll be made to work as you've never worked in your lives. From now on you will work for the Reich, not for your filthy selves or your foul country.”

The tanks below the terrace had gone, and presently a platoon of infantry arrived. So soon as the tank commander had handed over the prisoners he and his vehicle roared away in the wake of the others.

The prisoners were counted, and an escort detailed to take charge of them. It was while they waited for the order to move off that a disturbance occurred.

Out of the huge main doorway of the mansion and over the remnants of the smashed barricade shambled a bent figure grasping an ancient sabre. The old man. with slow and uncertain steps, approached the nearest German. His appearance was so unexpected that everybody watched him. Without speaking he raised his weapon with the evident intention of slashing at the hated uniform.

But the German, with an amused laugh, twisted the heavy sword out of the old man's feeble grasp and hit him savagely in the mouth with the hilt, so that he fell sprawling upon the stones.

Most of the prisoners watched the scene apathetically. Their own future was so black that the ill-treatment of an unknown old man meant nothing to them. It was only what one expected of the cursed Nazis. Alone among that sullen group the young man clenched his fists. Apart from that involuntary gesture he controlled himself. He could do no good by interfering, and might by so doing easily get himself shot.

A sharp order bellowed by an N.C.O. brought him to attention, and as he marched away with the other prisoners he looked back.

The old man, with blood streaming from his mouth, had struggled to his knees, only to be kicked fiat again by the German who had taken the sabre.

Again the young man’s fists clenched. It was an ominous indication of the treatment he himself might expect in the prisoner-of-war camp which lay ahead . . .

C IR GEORGE FAWLEY, Chief of the Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, glanced at a slip of paper on his desk and began to turn over the pages of a Bible. It was a proceeding to which he was well accustomed, for it was his habit to read a few verses each night before he went to sleep. Presently he found the chapter in Isaiah for which he was looking, and he began to read carefully.

He read the passage three times before closing the book. Then for a time he sat fingering his scrubby mustache. He was a short, elderly man in the middle sixties, and his bland face usually bore an expression of benevolence. To see him in the street one would have taken him for a churchwarden, which he was, and a supporter of charities, also one of his virtues, though few people knew about it. But one would never have suspected that behind that smooth forehead lay secrets which, had he cared to publish them, would have shaken to their foundations half the chancelleries of Europe.

His reverie was broken by a knock on the door, which opened to admit a secretary.

“Mrs. Fenton, Sir George.”

Behind the secretary came a slim, blueeyed girl whose pretty features were framed in an aureole of fair hair. Sir George hastened to his feet and went forward to welcome her with both hands outstretched. He greeted her in affectionate tones.

“Stella, my dear. I am very glad to see you again. How are you?”

The girl gave a wan smile.

“Rather tired. I only got into Harwich this morning. Travelling has been difficult. All the trains and boats were packed, but eventually I went through Lithuania to I.ibau. There I picked up a cargo boat to Copenhagen, and so home. And then to cap it all we had a submarine scare halfway over.”

Sir George led her to a deep, leathercovered armchair. The girl sank into it

and threw back her heavy travelling coat. Sir George returned to his seat behind the wide desk.

“I got your cable,” he said, and added almost diffidently, “So he got in all right?”

Stella shot him a quick glance and then looked away.

“Yes,” she murmured.

“You said as a Polish soldier. Wasn’t that extremely risky?”

“I know,” said Stella, in a low voice. “I tried to persuade him to use some other method, but he said that any other way might take him weeks. After he got your message he set about finding the best means of slipping into Germany, and when war broke out and the Germans advanced so much quicker than anybody expected, I think he rather jumped at the chance.”

There was a pause.

“And you wanted to go with him,” Sir George suggested.

Stella looked up quickly. “Yes, but how did you know?”

Sir George smiled. “My dear, I’ve been firm friends with you and Lawrie for a number of years, and I’ve a pretty accurate idea, I think, of how you would act in certain circumstances.”

The girl smiled faintly. There seemed very little which this man of many secrets did not know.

“Of course,” she said, “he refused. He said I must return to England and report to you.”

“And you’re sure he got through?” Sir George successfully concealed the anxiety he felt as to whether Lawrence Fenton, his most trusted agent, had accomplished the first stage of his hazardous journey in safety.

“As sure as I can be,” Stella answered, in a low voice. “I got away by car and stopped on the top of a hill near by. I had a pair of binoculars, and I saw him marched off with the other Polish prisoners. The— the Germans seemed to be handling them very roughly. After that I had to run for it. because the German tanks were coming on fast.”

“And then?”

Stella laughed, the short hard laugh of one who had passed through bitter experiences, and not a few horrors, which were as yet undimmed by the passage of time.

“I was in a car which Lawrie had kept back for me, and for a few miles the going was fairly good. Then I caught up with a mixture of disorganized Polish troops and terrified refugees, and the roads were so congested that it was difficult to get through. Occasionally I risked a broken axle and made a detour across country; for the rest I had to depend on eloquence to clear the road for me.”

She stopped speaking for a moment, and her eyes filled with tears. “The worst part of it all,” she continued, without looking at Sir George, “were the people who clamored to get in the car, especially the little children. There were mothers there who held up their babies and begged me to take them on, even if it was only to the next village, because they were so terrified of the Germans at their heels. I took as many as I dared, but one could do so little for that stream of suffering humanity.”

SIR GEORGE nodded understanding^.

Before her marriage to Lawrence Fenton, Stella had been a Pole. He felt a good deal of sympathy for her because, apart from leaving her husband whom she adored, she was seeing her country ravaged by an enemy whom the Poles had good cause to hate, and he was fully aware of the intense patriotism of the inhabitants.

“The airplanes were terrible,” Stella continued. “With the noise of the car engine and the commotion going on all round one couldn’t hear them, and it was impossible for me to keep a lookout. The first time they appeared I didn’t realize what was happening. There was some shouting and screaming, and people ran away off the road, leaving their carts and barrows standing. The next instant there was a terrific roar right overhead and an awful clatter which I recognized as machine guns. The windscreen splintered into fragments, and an enormous black airplane flew along the road. Then it was all over, and I was surprised to find myself alive, for the road was full of dead and dying people whom the Germans had machine-gunned,

“We had more attacks like that, and on no occasion was there a single soldier anywhere near us. The second time I jumped into two feet of water at the bottom of a providential ditch, and on the third occasion a hayrick was most comforting. Finally I had to abandon the car because the petrol ran out, but by that time we were across the border and in Lithuania. From Liban, as I've told you, I travelled in a cargo boat for England, and I can assure you that I found my British passport and English money absolutely invaluable. Without the passport I don’t think I should have got through.”

“I’m afraid you’ve had a tough time.”

“Well, I’ve been through more pleasant experiences,” Stella admitted. “It’s all those mothers trudging along the Polish roads with their little children that I can’t get out of my mind.”

Sir George nodded thoughtfully and toyed for a few moments with the slip of paper he had been studying when his secretary had knocked at the door. Stella sat staring before her. Suddenly she turned her blue eyes imploringly upon Sir George.

“Why, oh, why, did you send him?” she cried. “Was there no one else?”

Sir George was not wholly surprised at the outburst. He had guessed from the girl’s wan, tense face that she was suffering from over-strained nerves. He rose from his desk and, sitting upon the broad arm of the easy-chair, took her hand in his.

“Stella, my dear, if I could have avoided sending Lawrie I would have done so. But, you know, the best men always get the most difficult jobs, and lie’s the best I’ve got. It may be some comfort for you to realize that he is right at the top of the tree.”

Sir George waited for a moment, but Stella made no comment.

“You see,” he continued, “when the international situation began to get really bad it was a question of increasing the number of our agents in Germany while the frontiers were still open and it was comparatively easy to get them in. Naturally enough, I thought of you and Lawrie staying with Uncle Eugen in Poland. How is the old fellow?”

Stella shook her head. “I don’t know. We tried to persuade him to leave, but he wouldn’t. He just sat in his chair, staring into the fire. Somehow I think he had made up his mind to die there.”

“Poor old chap,” murmured Sir George. “Well, I hoped Lawrie would get into Germany fairly easily, because, though things have been tightened up, the difficulties should not have been insuperable to an experienced agent. I imagined that he would have been able to slip across the Polish-German frontier. Of course, when the war broke out I had no idea what had

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happened until I received your cable.”

But again Stella did not answer, and Sir George glancing dowm at her bowed head, saw that there was a suspicion of brightness about her long lashes. He patted her shoulder and sighed. It was possible that he had not spoken the strict truth w'hen he had said that he would have avoided sending Fenton if he could. Though the young man was one of his closest friends. Sir George spared neither man nor woman, kith nor kin. when it was a question of serving one’s country.

In order to allow Stella time to recover her composure he returned to his desk and. sitting down, removed his pince-nez and pulled out his silk handkerchief. Then he paused and with a furtive, almost guilty glance at the girl, quietly replaced both articles. He had remembered that Stella had often said that when he polished his glasses there was trouble brewing for somebody. and it would be better to cause her no more distress. He reflected that there could be few' things more heartrending for Stella than to see her husband made a prisoner and marched off into enemy country. She had said, moreover, that the captured Poles were being handled with a good deal of brutality.

“When do you expect new's of him?” whispered Stella.

Sir George pursed his lips. “It’s difficult to say. Directly I received your cable I got in touch with certain people, giving them what details I knew. They would then try to trace the journey of those prisoners who were taken from that particular district of Poland. That might take a long time and, of course, there’s no telling what Law'rie might do. He is a free lance, and I expect he will cease to be a prisoner as soon as possible. Almost a month has elapsed since he was captured, so w'e may hear something any day now'.”

SIR GEORGE’S remarks were rather vague, but Stella knew that a good deal of intricate and secret work, the nature of which he had no intention of disclosing, lay behind them. For there would be no sense in sending an agent into Germany unless arrangements had been made to get in touch with him in order to make use of the information he obtained.

“In fact,” Sir George went on, “I am sending a message out to him today.”

He held out the slip of paper which he had been fingering. Stella took it and read it with a puzzled frown.

“Isaiah liv, 17,” she repeated, and turned the paper over. “And what does this funny little drawing mean? An animal with its hands over its eyes. What is it?” “I take it to be a sketch of the monkey which is supposed to represent ‘I see no evil.’ The other two of the peculiarly Eastern trinity are ‘I speak no evil’ and ‘I hear no evil’; one covers his mouth and the other his ears. Possibly the person who jotted down the reference to a verse and chapter of Isaiah may have scribbled idly on the back of that sheet at some time, and then have used the paper at some later date w-ithout knowing that the drawing was there. Or the drawing may have been made by quite another person. But surely you must have seen the effigies of the Three Good Monkeys many times?”

“Yes, I remember now,” replied Stella. “You come across them as brass ornaments in old curio shops sometimes. But”—she bent closer to the sketch—“this isn’t a very accurate drawing.”

“If it was done idly, as I suspect, it wouldn’t be.”

“Unless,” said Stella slowly, “this inaccuracy was done on purpose. Instead of having its fingers closed, the monkey has them open, so obviously he would be able to see through them.”

Sir George got out of his chair with surprising alacrity and bent over the sketch.

“You’re right, by gad, you’re right!” His tone was low, but the words had all the significance of a shout of disco^ry. “And in that case the interpretation of the sketch would be T see evil.’ H’m, that certainly puts a rather different complexion upon the matter.”

"Who is the artist?” Stella enquired.

Sir George smiled and shook his head. “I have no idea. The slip of paper came by itself in an envelope to someone I know. He passed it on to me because he thought it rather an odd sort of thing to send by post, but he could give no suggestion as to who sent it.”

“Was there no postmark?”

“Yes, Rotterdam. But that does not help us at all.”

“And what is Isaiah liv, 17?” asked Stella, and smiled. “My Biblical knowledge does not attain to such a high standard.”

“Nor mine. I confess I had to look it up.” Sir George drew the Bible toward him and opened it at a marker. His finger travelled down the page and then stopped. He began to read :

“ ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee thou shalt condemn.’ ”

He looked up at Stella and repeated slowly, “ ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper’ and, T see evil.’ ”

“What does it mean?” asked Stella, a tiny frown puckering her forehead.

Sir George stared at the page. “I’m not sure, but I think it is a warning. We have heard for some time rumors of a secret weapon which the Germans are inventing, and it may be that this has some reference to it.”

“You have no idea what this secret weapon might be?”

“No,” replied Sir George slowly, “no idea at all. It may be a land weapon, a sea weapon, or an air weapon. But I need not stress the importance from our point of view of discovering what this weapon is. as soon as possible, so that we may take steps to combat it.” He paused and fingered his chin. “The Germans are a clever nation, and they invented things in the last war which caused us infinite trouble. With their present ardent hope for a blitzkrieg it is not too much to say that the ultimate issue of the war might easily depend on our ability to find out the nature of this weapon and take steps to defeat it. If the Nazis think that they have got hold of a real ‘winner,’ they may stake everything on it. In which case we should be in for a very bad time.”

“Does Lawrie know of all this?” Stella queried.

“He has naturally heard the rumors. This”—Sir George flipped the slip of paper —“must be sent out to him.”

“A copy?”

The other shook his head. “No. We’ll keep a copy here, the original must go to him. There may be something about it. perhaps the texture of the paper, some slight irregularity in the typing, or some

pressure in a certain stroke of the pencil in this little sketch, which we could not hope to reproduce. And a small item like that may prove to be of vital importance.”

“How will you send it to him?”

“By messenger.”

Stella leaned forward. “Let me take it,” she said eagerly.

Sir George smiled, and his eyes were full of kindliness, “So that you may be nearer Lawrie?”

“Yes.” The girl’s eyes lit up. “Yes. I should be near him—perhaps even see and talk to him. You will send me, won’t you?”

rT'HERE was a pause, and when the Chief of the Foreign Office Intelligence Department spoke again he did so with obvious reluctance.

“My dear. I’m sorry to have to refuse your offer, but I must use the best means at my disposal, and there are already channels through which I am able to communicate with our agents in Germany. The messengers are familiar with those channels, each with its own section, and you are not. It would take you considerably longer to make the journey, and speed is essential. You understand, don’t you, Stella?”

The eagerness faded from the girl’s face, and the strained expression returned.

“Of course, I understand. You’re quite right. Only—only if I could be with him,” she sighed.

“And leave Peter?” asked Sir George, with a smile.

Stella gave a cry. “Peter! How dreadful! Do you know, I’d almost forgotten him. How is he?”

The old man’s smile broadened. “Perhaps it’s fortunate he has got me for a godfather. I am glad to say he is waxing fat and kicking lustily. Odette says, moreover, that he’s taking a great interest in Marie.” Sir George was referring to his daughter-in-law and her offspring. During the Fentons’ trip to Poland to visit Peter’s other godfather, Baron Egenesque, Odette had taken charge of the Fentons’ little boy.

“Lawrie,” continued Sir George, “is quite capable of looking after himself. If you were with him, or he knew you were in Germany, he would worry about you. and that would not help him in his work. It will make things much easier for him if he knows you are safe in England. And I will see to it that he does know.”

Stella nodded. “Yes, you’re right. He certainly would worry if he thought I was in danger, and it is my duty to look after Peter, bless him. You see, if anything happened to Lawrie he’d be all I should have left.”

Sir George rose from his desk once more, and, crossing to Stella, put an arm about her shoulders and strove to comfort her in his old-fashioned, courtly way. He guessed that she was almost at the end of her tether. The nervous strain of parting

with her husband, her flight through a war-ravaged Poland, and her long journey back to England had been considerably greater than she had realized. What she needed was a good rest and the pleasant company of friends. Peter, Marie, and Odette would supply the cure.

When he made the suggestion, Stella eagerly accepted it, and it was the work of only a few minutes to telephone Odette and acquaint her with the plan. Within twenty minutes Stella was ready to leave. As Sir George accompanied her to the door and patted her encouragingly upon the shoulder, she said imploringly, “You will get Lawrie back as soon as you can?”

“So soon as ever it is possible,” he promised.

But when she had gone he sat down again at the desk and pursed his lips, for he knew from the past experiences of other agents that getting into Germany was much easier than getting out, and in wartime Nazi vigilance—never to be sneered at—would be redoubled. He shrugged his shoulders resignedly. After all, as he had told Stella, the best men got put on the hardest jobs, and war is no respecter of persons. Fenton, like all the others who were working underground for their country, would have to take his chance.

Sir George picked up the slip of paper on which was typed the reference to Isaiah. “ ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,’ ” he murmured, and added, “I wonder?”

Some hours later a fast car deposited a man at the dockside at Hamich, and he went on board the steamer which left shortly afterward for Holland. The slip of paper was buttoned up securely in a pocket on the inside of the messenger’s shirt. It had begun its journey to Fenton, but it was to travel by devious routes and would pass through many hands.

From the messenger’s shirt-pocket it was transferred to a commercial traveller, who kept it in the heel of his boot for fourand-twenty hours before handing it to the hall porter of a second-rate hotel a considerable distance nearer to the German frontier. Then it descended a little farther in the social scale, for the porter apparently had an acquaintance who was an enginedriver and, the times happening to fit in, the message travelled swiftly across country to a market town where the engine-driver, during a spell off duty, went to buy vegetables in the old-fashioned, cobbled market place. He left with the old woman who kept the stall more than the price of his purchases, and the following day the message crossed the frontier into Germany, securely hidden in the dilapidated harness of the ancient nag which drew the old woman’s cart.

And presently Sir George Fawley, sitting in his comfortably furnished room at the Foreign Office, knew all these things.

To be Continued