Spy Against the Reich
In the first days of the fast moving invasion of Poland by the Nazis.
LAWRENCE FENTON, young Britisher, with his wife,
STELLA FENTON, is visiting her Polish uncle, an elderly man living alone in a fine old home on the slope of a valley. Fenton is purposely captured by the Nazis, and some time later, back in England, Stella Fenton reports to elderly
SIR GEORGE FAWLEY, Chief of the Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, who listens to her story of her husband’s being still among the Nazis with satisfaction.
Months later, mysteriously freed from prison camp, Lawrence Fenton begins his work in Germany. Disguised he meets
GRETA MAYER, a commercial artist who gives him a message from London mentioning a secret weapon about which he is to collect information. Fenton takes the name and papers of Otto Hirschfeld, now dead, formerly a close friend of Greta. As Otto, Fenton spends long days studying science in preparation for his designated work. En route one night to a cafe to meet Greta, he hears sounds of running feet in the blackout, a scuffling, and a woman’s voice cry out in English. Startled, he suddenly finds a strange woman beside him and turns to face her pursuers.
The woman shoves a gun in his hand. In defense of her, Fenton shoots one man and the others disappear. The woman thanks him and promises that the authorities shall hear of his good work.
From Greta, Fenton learns that the woman is
ALTHEA REMINGTON, wealthy English convert to the Nazi cause, who is close to the Nazi leaders.
On the trail of the secret weapon, Fenton gets a job—through Greta—in a factory where a cr ippled scientist,
HANS ERHARDT, is being forced by the Nazis to work on an invention that will revolutionize modern warfare. Escorted to and from work and closely guarded, Er hardt has a breakdown from earlier ill-treatment, and his persecutors are forced to give him more freedom so that he may not die before they have obtained his secret.
VON ARNE, head of the Nazi Intelligence, comes to investigate the factory and Fenton is startled to see the English woman in the official party. Hoping she may be with the British Intelligence, he later poses as an American newspaperman und interviews her. Coming away convinced that she is an ardent Nazi, he decides that his best chance of getting plans for the secret weapon still lies with Greta Mayer.
(Fourth of Eight Parts)
GRETA MAYER had been by no means idle since her last meeting with Fenton. Now she was eager to see him again and filled with curiosity, for there had been a gay quality in the voice that had come to her over the telephone. Somehow she imagined that Lawrie Fenton might have found something far more important than her own small discoveries.
Yes, the girl was very eager for a further meeting with the British agent, and for that reason was simply furious when a total stranger seated himself presently at her table. He did so without even the normal grace of asking her permission.
She noted and disliked the fellow’s supercilious air and the sharp way he spoke to the Kellner who took his order. The' girl was not old enough to remember the heydey of the Officers Corps, but she judged this ornamental dandy to be some atavism of the ex-Kaiser’s military caste. At the moment the man was eyeing her with insulting directness, and she could have slapped his face with infinite satisfaction. Instead she rose, prepared to seek another table at which to await the coming of her friend.
As she turned away the man spoke in a low voice which, despite its pitch, was charged with authority.
“Achtung! Zwei-und-Zwanzig-—G. F. Alt.”
The girl’s heart missed a beat and her limbs seemed suddenly to be made of paper. She had been spoken to in the style by which she could be identified only by the British Secret Service. Did that mean that her real occupation had been discovered by the Gestapo, that she was about to be arrested? Then she saw the faintest hint of a smile move the stranger’s lips as, for a moment, he slipped a monocle into his right eye.
Greta resumed the seat from which she had risen, uncertain still, but very near the verge of hysterical laughter.
“I thought you might like to see what I really looked like,” smiled Fenton. *
‘‘Gross Gott! Then it is you?”
“But the risk ! Is it not tremendous?”
“On the contrary. The Herr Doktor has given strict
orders against unnecessary interference with American citizens, and it is the identity and the papers of an American journalist that I have borrowed for this evening. It was in his name that I interviewed Althea Remington not an hour ago. Meanwhile Emil Dollinger has slipped his shadowers, and doubtless the Gestapo are still searching anxiously for him. Well, what is your news?”
“In the first place Hans Erhardt has been discharged from hospital and is to have his own establishment.”
“You mean that he will not go back to the concentration camp, but will have his own place to work in? How will he be guarded?”
Greta touched Lawrie’s hand reprovingly, while she laughed at his almost boyish eagerness.
“I can give you but one answer at a time, my friend,” she smiled.
“Sorry! Tell your story your own way, of course.” “Well, then, in this particular instance common sense and self-interest seem to have overcome even Nazi delight in inflicting suffering. After Erhardt’s collapse at the works, some of the big men in the Adinistry of Munitions— which deals with all inventions—got scared lest the death of the scientist should rob Germany of the results of his work. Von Arne was consulted, and he personally conducted an investigation at Krobel’s. He wanted to get at the cause of Erhardt’s collapse, since Erhardt himself was either too frightened or too ill to talk. But he hadn’t been afraid to write. A secret diary—the contents would have brought him to the block in ordinary circumstances—was discovered in the laboratory in which he worked at Krobel’s. There never has been any doubt, of course, that the Nazis, whom Erhardt hates, tortured him into consenting to carry on with his work on a secret weapon for their benefit. What was not realized until he collapsed and the diary came to light was that the sadistic brute who commands the concentration camp where Erhardt was, had been amusing himself and some of his choice friends at the expense of the crippled scientist.”
“But how do you know all this, Greta?” asked Fenton. “The governor of that particular camp has been removed from his post and punished with terrible severity.
At least the punishment would have been terrible had it not been so richly deserved,” she said thoughtfully. “However much they are warned or threatened, subordinates will talk, you know. The story is in all the night clubs, and speculation about the nature of the secret weapon has taken a new lease of life.”
“And the place in which Erhardt is to live in future?” prompted Fenton, when Greta fell silent after lighting a fresh cigarette.
“Ah! That was more difficult to discover. No one knows where he is at present, but soon, I hear, he is to live in a tiny box of a villa in one of those quiet squares in the nearest residential area to Krobel’s. He can’t work in the villa, because there is no room for a laboratory. Nor is he guarded. That, I fancy, is because it has so far proved impossible to cure him of a sort of suppressed persecution mania from which he is suffering In fact, the only hope the Nazis have of getting hold of Erhardt’s invention lies in giving him his own way in absolutely everything—until he has completed his work. After that heaven alone knows what will happen to him.”
“Mightn’t he welcome a chance of being smuggled out of Germany?” suggested Fenton.
“Before he has completed his experiments and perfected the secret weapon?”
“Why not? He hates the Nazis, and with good cause. He might be dealing them a deathblow by selling his invention to the Allies.”
ARRETA was thoughtful. “Well, we can try him. But I’m not very sanguine. No one but an absolute German understands the Germans, I fancy, Lawrie. You see, I can work for the Allies without hurting my conscience because I’m half English and my father was a German-Jew, which is very different thing to being a pure Aryan. There are a very great many Germans, especially of the older generation and the travelled classes, who absolutely hate Hitler and everything for which he stands. They would drive out the Nazis tomorrow but for two circumstances. In the first place the Nazis have established such a reign of secret terror that no revolt is at present
possible. Secondly, the true Gemían, with all his faults, loves his Fatherland with a passionate patriotism which is perhaps unmatched in any other nation. For the Fatherland the true German will renounce every scruple of common honesty. He will be perfectly honest with his own people, but to beat the foreigner he will cheat, steal, and become a brute-beast—for the Fatherland. Have you ever watched a gathering of Germans singing Uber Alles?” “Yes, but what’s all this to do with the possibility of buying Hans Erhardt’s invention?”
“Don’t you see, my dear, he is a German, and although he hates the Nazis, it will be a very difficult thing to persuade him to sell a secret weapon to people who are at war with the Fatherland. No, Lawrie, I can’t think he will sell.”
“None the less I think we’ve got to try him. It’s the safest, swiftest, and most sensible way of getting hold of the secret. It is said that money always talks, but who is going to act as interpreter in this particular instance? I had it in mind that you might open negotiations, Greta, but now I’m not so sure.”
“But why not? Surely you don’t doubt me?”
“Of course not. Don’t be silly. It is simply that your mind is made up already that there would be no possibility of an offer being accepted. That is not the frame of mind in which to open delicate and possibly dangerous negotiations. No. I must see Erhardt myself, but how’s it to be managed?”
“I’m disappointed,” said Greta frankly, “but I suppose you know best. It will be more difficult for you than for me to see him.”
“He would be certain to receive me well as Otto Hirschfeld’s friend. I fancy Otto told him something of our friendship.”
“By gad, that’s a notion!”
“Besides,” Greta went on persuasively, “it might spoil everything for you to appear in the affair too soon. And then again,” she went on, as she saw from his thoughtful expression that her companion was reconsidering his first opinion, “in what guise would you approach him? As
an American journalist in search of a sensational interview for his paper concerning the possible perfecting of a secret weapon? Lawrie, he would simply laugh at you, if he did not send for the police. As the simple shophand Emil Dollinger, who had seen the so great scientist collapse and had called to make a respectful enquiry as to his discovery, I don’t think you would get very far in that character. In either case I don’t see how you would approach the question of purchasing his plans.”
She raised her eyes quickly, expecting Fenton to see at once the force of her arguments and to agree to her proposal But Fenton was deep in thought, and the heavy frown that creased his brow held no promise of an easy agreement to a plan of which he did not yet wholly approve.
Greta, however, was a patient person and well prepared to allow her arguments ample time to soak in. Meanwhile her eyes roamed idly over the other people in Altmann’s Cafe. Then suddenly, but with infinite caution, her foot stole out and rested upon Lawrie’s instep. He leaned across the table in answer to a wary look that had come into her eyes.
“Were you serious,” she queried, “when you said you had been interviewing Althea Remington?”
“Quite serious. Why?”
“Only that there is a pale-faced, black-bearded man a few tables away on my right who happens to be one of the three or four members of Von Arne’s secret police who are usually to be seen in her vicinity. It looks as if she has put him on to shadow you.”
“Gad, that’s awkward,” said Fenton, taking care not to turn his eyes anywhere in the direction of the man. “Very,” she answeied, with exasperating sweetness. “It means that from now on that man will know you wherever he sees you. He won’t let you out of his sight if he can help it. And it means also that you cannot possibly approach Hans Erhardt in your present character.” “Why not?” Lawrie put the question bluntly. He was in an obstinate mood, and not inclined to abandon his preconceived plan except for the best of reasons. The person who tackled Erhardt in the first place would run a considerable risk, and that risk Lawrie preferred to face personally.
“Well,” Greta answered, giving expression to the very possibility upon which Fenton had assessed the risk to be run in approaching the inventor, “if Hans Erhardt is the type of man I take him to be, he’d certainly feel insulted by an American journalist trying to buy his cherished secret. He’d probably inform Von Arne.”
"VXTOULDNT he do that in any event if your assump*V tion is in order?” Fenton suggested.
“Possibly, but it wouldn’t be so easy to find an unknown bidder for his plans as it would to link up the American who had been shadowed by Fraulein Remington’s orders with the American journalist who was trying to buy a State secret.”
“Um ! I see your point.”
“I have others to make.”
“You said that you had borrowed the identity and papers of a friend—a real American journalist—for the purpose of interviewing Fraulein Remington. Did you only use your friend’s name, or did you have to show his papers?”
“No. I only sent up his card when I asked for the interview.”
“Good! At all costs you must avoid producing those papers. Get in touch with your friend and make sure that he has a perfect alibi for the whole evening, and get his papers back to him as soon as possible.
After that you vanish and Emil Dollinger goes back to his lodging.”
“And back to the engineering works, I suppose?”
“Yes. That is most necessary. I will approach Hans Erhardt, and will let you know what luck I have, and what are the prospects of achieving our purpose. I may fail. That is why it is so important for us to provide ourselves with a second chance.”
“The chance that may come to me as a workman in Krobel’s?” interrupted Fenton. “The chance of getting past the door marked Verboten and finding out the nature of the work upon which Hans Erhardt is engaged? All right, Greta, you’ll be taking the first of two pretty big risks, but I greatly hope you will succeed, and that it will be the lesser of the two dangers.”
“I can look after myself,” she said, with a reckless laugh. “We’d better make a move, or our Gestapo friend will have spent all his pocket money on drinks which I am sure are not good for him. What happens if he follows us?”
“Leave that to me. If he accosts either of us you just slip away in the blackout.
There may be fun and games, and I’d like to be free to enjoy myself properly. I’ve a feeling this is going to be my night out.”
“I’ve always understood that Englishmen are quite mad,” Greta said, with a sort of whimsical wistfulness. “ ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,’ don’t they?”
“Yes, but a great many of us know just exactly when to come in out of the rain, and we're rapidly learning how to look after ourselves in a blackout. You’d better drop your veil, Greta. The black-bearded fellow is too far on the flank to have had much opportunity to study your features in the smoky half-light of this basement. We don’t want to give him the chance of being able to identify you later by giving him a full view of your countenance as we go out.”
Greta powdered her nose, used a lipstick with a deft touch or two, and obediently dropped her veil. They crossed the wide floor of Altmann’s dingy basement cafe. As they passed the table at which he was seated the man with the black beard stared boldly into Fenton’s face. He also shot a swift, searching glance at Greta.
At the top of a rickety staircase the girl passed through a curtained door and into a tiny lobby which opened through a second and yet more heavily curtained door directly into the street. Fenton, pausing for an instant on the six-feet-square landing at the top of the stairs, threw a glance over his shoulder and saw that the blackbearded member of the Gestapo was already following them.
There was a sardonic smile on the face of the British agent as he joined Greta. The lobby was empty, and for a moment Fenton’s pocket torch stabbed here and there, until it lit upon an electric light control switch, which would be within reach of a person standing on the chair.
“Up on the chair with you! Quick, Greta! When I shout ‘Now!’ pull down the switch.”
Before she could answer he darted through the stairway door, and appeared on the platform while Black-beard was still on the stair. His eyes flashed as he caught sight of his quarry.
“Going places in the devil of a hurry?” queried Fenton, but the blank expression of the man’s face suggested that he did not understand Americanized English. “Or,” added Fenton, in execrable German, “were you looking for anyone?”
“Ja! Ja! You shall show me your papers,” came the excited answer.
“I will not!” laughed Fenton, and setting the sole of his foot squarely in the middle of the man’s chest sent him flying down the stairs to rejoin the astounded occupants of the basement. At the same moment he shouted “Now !” and all the lights went out.
“A nice piece of work well staged, if I may say so,” he said loudly, as he joined Greta. Anything less than a shout would have been drowned by the sounds of pandemonium which rose from the now completely blacked-out basement cafe. “And now,” he added, “we’ll say, ‘Good night and God bless.’ Gosh! It’s been good to put one over on any brute of the Gestapo! Well, I’ll be seein’ you, as they say in the States.”
Steven Levant was not destined to hear the full story of that night’s escapade for many a long day to come. But before dawn a shabby German mechanic, who seemed half-witted, returned to him the papers Lawrie Fenton
had borrowed, together with a garbled sort of message from which he gathered that it would probably pay him to remember how he had spent the whole of his own evening, and to be able to substantiate his alibi if called upon to do so. He was also given to understand that, although his name might have been used to secure a certain interview, his papers had not been shown to a single person.
It never occurred to him that the dirty down-at-heel mechanic who delivered the papers and the muddled message was no other than Lawrie Fenton.
nPHREE weeks had slipped away since Greta and Fenton had parted after the slight fracas on the stairs of Altmann’s Cafe. They had been weeks of some anxiety for Fenton, because Hans Erhardt had not been brought back to work at Krobel’s and Greta had failed to communicate further. They had also been weeks of boredom, because Fenton had been passing through one of those inevitable periods of infuriating inaction which are often dreaded far more than actual danger by those engaged in espionage.
It is at such times, as has been proved in case after case, that the spy becomes careless or commits some futile little act of folly through sheer ennui, and as the result is called upon shortly after to face a firing party in the cold, unkindly light of dawn. The circumstance that wears down a spy’s nerves and his powers of resistance is the interminable waiting in unfriendly loneliness for something to happen. The waiting in entire ignorance of the course events are taking, the waiting when one dare not make a move, or seek a new acquaintance, or even ask a simple question for fear of spoiling the plans of another worker in the Great Game.
There is the expectant waiting, too; the waiting for footsteps upon the stairs, the summons upon the door, or the hand of authority falling heavily upon the shoulder in the open street, proof that one has failed and must pay the penalty of being found out. Sometimes this is the result of being left waiting in ignorance, but whatever the cause the spy must face the future alone, for it is seldom that his friends can help him without betraying themselves. Fenton knew and recognized the circumstances, the more especially as he had himself upon former occasions made use of them to bring about the downfall of enemy agents to whom he was opposed.
During the weeks which followed he had trodden warily as Agag while he trundled his handcart along the gangways at Krobel’s. But he knew that Greta Mayer was carrying out her share of the work, and that he could take no further part in it until she communicated with him.
Meanwhile Greta had been sorely puzzled by the disappearance of Hans Erhardt immediately after his discharge from hospital. At first she had feared that a change of Nazi policy had led to his reincarceration in a concentration camp, or that his mind had given way and he had been committed to a lunatic asylum. But since entering the British Secret Service she had organized, with all the careful craft of her patient Jewish ancestors, subordinate sources of information which would have surprised Fenton. It was through the careful and unhurried exploitation of these private channels that Greta discovered how Erhardt had been sent to a sanitarium in the Harz Mountains to complete his recovery with a rest cure. She decided to await his return to Berlin. By then she hoped that approach to him would be easier and that he might be more amenable to her proposals.
Another piece of information brought to light was that the black-bearded Gestapo agent whom P'enton had hurled so rudely down the stairs at Altmann’s had been admitted to a hospital suffering from severe concussion.
Greta was not naturally of a vindictive disposition, but she had not exactly offered up prayers for the man’s recovery. Pie was the only person in Berlin who had seen her with the man who had interviewed Althea Remington, and, despite Lawrie’s optimism and her own caution in lowering her veil before leaving Altmann’s, it was quite possible that the fellow might be able to identify her.
At length Greta received information that Erhardt had returned to Berlin and had gone straight to a certain villa in the Ploffmanngarten, a peaceful and pleasant backwater to the busy life of the capital. War and espionage seemed very far away, yet Greta knew that within five minutes’ walking distance lay the Krobel Works. Doubtless the villa had been chosen for that very reason.
Greta now decided to put into action the next part of the plan she had arranged with Fenton.
As she walked slowly up the flagged walk leading to the gaily-painted front
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door of the villa she wondered what sort of reception she would receive, but within the next few minutes she hoped to put to the test certain theories she had formed concerning the scientist.
Greta knocked, and presently the summons was answered. The sour-faced woman who opened the door appeared disinclined to admit visitors, and regarded Greta with bad-tempered suspicion. She stood aside, however, when a high-pitched, querulous voice demanded to know who was at the door.
Frau Henschel shrugged her shoulders resignedly.
“I don’t know who you are, but for goodness sake humor him, for he’s a devil when his passions are roused, and I’ve the strictest instructions not to let him get excited, but to keep him in a good temper.”
“I’ll do my best,” replied Greta, with a disarming smile.
‘‘Why his head is still on his shoulders is a mystery to me,” grumbled Frau Henschel. “The things he says about the Party, and even about the Fuehrer!”
“Good gracious! Is he accountable for his actions?” asked Greta, with every appearance of being greatly shocked.
“There are some that can’t and some that won’t see the difference between madness and badness,” the woman answered darkly. “But for heaven’s sake go in,” she added, as a bellow of exasperation came from the door of an open room to the right of the tiny hall.
ARRETA had heard a lot about Hans Erhardt, but nothing she had heard was sufficient preparation for the spectacle of the man she now saw for the first time.
Hans Erhardt was seated at the fireside, which was as well, because thus the girl was not forced to face the full horror of this man’s afflictions all in one instant, cataclysmic shock. She saw, indeed, the hideously puckered features, the crumpled ear, and the reddish-purple patch in which a pig-like little eye was sunk deep, an eye that seemed Puckish in comparison with its wide-open, bulging fellow, which surveyed her with a sort of suppressed fury.
How could Otto, her poetically minded lover, have cared for such a grotesque monstrosity! She marvelled still more when the man spoke, for his voice was a harsh, malicious snarl that did not suggest any kindliness of nature. Greta decided that it must have been the brilliance of the man’s intellect which had found for him so faithful a friend in Otto Hirschfeld.
“When you have quite finished admiring my amazingly handsome features,” he sneered, “you will perhaps be good enough to tell me who you are and what the devil you want.”
Greta overcame her not unnatural repugnance with a great effort and, turning, closed the door. She had no wish that the housekeeper should share their conversation.
“You don’t know me,” she began rather haltingly.
“Of course I don’t know you,” he answered rudely. “Why should I?”
“But you must have heard of me, or perhaps have seen my photograph.”
“Flumph ! Your face is certainly familiar. What are you—an actress? A film star? Someone in search of a fit person to play the part of Caliban?”
And then Greta surprised herself, actually bringing Erhardt to his senses for the moment.
“Don’t you think you’re being rather silly, acting like a peevish little boy?” she asked coolly. “Or are you really enjoying this perfect welter of self-pity?”
“I’m sorry,” mumbled Erhardt, after staring hard at her for a full minute. “Won’t you sit down and tell me who you are?”
. “You remember your friend Otto Hirschfeld?”
“Of course! And now I know why your face is familiar. I saw your portrait every time I went into his room. You are Greta Mayer, the girl he was going to marry. But why have you come to me?”
“You were his friend,” she answered simply. “To whom else can I turn?”
“But your friends in Berlin—your father?”
“My father was done to death in a concentration camp. What friends can a girl whose father was a Jew hope to find in Germany today? I have come to you in search of a refuge and protection. I believe that you have enough secret power to protect even a member of my father’s persecuted race.”
Erhardt chuckled, and there was a note of malicious satisfaction in his laughter.
“Yes,” he said softly. “I have a power which the cursed Nazis must respect. And, moreover, they must humor me if Germany is to win this war.”
“I have heard of your power,” said Greta humbly, “but, of course, I know nothing of its nature.”
“That is a secret a great many people would like to discover. But no one will, for it is here, locked safely away until the time comes,” he said, striking his forehead. “But tell me this,” he added, and his voice was crafty, “why has Hermann Goering’s mighty air force not laid London in ruins? He promised it would do so if war came. Why has there been no bombing of Berlin?”
“I do not know, unless it is that both sides fear reprisals if either makes a start in that direction.”
“Exactly! I see you are no fool. The enemy realize, and so do we, that searchlights can provide neither the anti-aircraft batteries nor fighter squadrons with sufficient help to enable them to prevent enemy bombers getting through whenever they wish at nighttime. It will be the side that first finds adequate protection against air raids at all times, whether by night or by day, which will win this war. And why? Because the side which is able to afford its civilian population, its bases, and its munition works adequate protection against aerial attack will be able to raid and bomb ruthlessly without fear of retaliation.”
The man fell silent and sat staring into the wood fire. Greta had seen a wary look come into his face before he turned his eyes to the flickering flames, and he had muttered below his breath, “I wonder?” And then again, after a pause, “I wonder?”
What was he wondering? Why had he so abruptly fallen silent in the middle of his enthusiastic discourse? Had he suddenly hit upon some new notion in relation to his invention? Fiad the idea dawned upon him that she might be a spy?
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The man seemed more than half insane. At all costs his interest must be held, he must not be allowed to fall into a brooding mood.
“And you,” she said half teasingly, “have invented a wonderful secret weapon which will make our Fatherland completely immune from hostile air raids!” “Did Otto tell you that?” he demanded suspiciously. “Did he say I had finished my invention?”
“Fie told me nothing except that you hate the Nazis.”
“Ah! He told you I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind, eh?”
“Yes. Wasn’t that what got you into a concentration camp?” asked Greta, artfully steering him away from the main issue, to which it was her intention to return at the opportune moment.
TH RHARDT looked across the room, and, _ catching sight of his marred features in a mirror, he glanced down at his twisted lower limbs.
“I was not afraid to talk,” he boasted. “I thought that they could do nothing worse to my body than misfortune has already done. I was a fool, for I believed that they could neither harm my soul nor break my spirit. I was wrong.”
“And yet they are still waiting for your invention.”
“They are still waiting,” he agreed gravely. “And they will wait. That is the source of my power over them. They persecuted me to such an extent, even after I had consented to go on with the work they wished me to do, that my health failed, and my mind too, for a while. Now they must do as I wish until the work is complete, lest I break down again. But they are crafty, Fraulein Mayer. I am watched. Even in this little house the walls have ears. You observe that there is a cushion over the telephone? That is in case the Gestapo fitted it with an extra microphone before they brought me here, though they promised I should live in absolute privacy. Yes—I have covered the telephone, but who knows where else in the room a microphone may be hidden? But no ! They did not expect that I should have visitors.”
“Well, then, we can talk quite freely.”
“Can anyone talk freely today in Germany? How do you know who may be listening at the door?”
“But if they have promised you complete privacy, aren’t you allowed to choose your own servants? You see, Herr Erhardt, I am in desperate need of a refuge for the time being. Couldn’t you help me?” Greta’s voice had a note of pathetic appeal. “You know who I am. You must know that ! As the woman who was to have married your best friend, surely you can trust me. Couldn’t you engage me as your secretary? You will need someone to keep your papers in order. I would keep an eye, too, on the old woman who let me in, if you don’t trust her. I could keep watch and report on people who might come here when you are out. Or are you going to work here?” Erhardt ignored the final question, but that her proposal appealed to him was obvious.
“I shall, as you say, need a secretary,” he agreed.
“Then I can stay here?” Greta asked eagerly.
“You can stay here,” he chuckled, “but you’ll have to act as housekeeper and maid of all work. And that, if I’m not mistaken, will give me a perfectly good excuse for getting rid of that horrible old hag Frau Henschel. I more than suspect she was only thrust upon me by Von Arne for the purpose of keeping me under observation.” Greta noticed that when he mentioned Von Arne’s name he was watching her intently, but not by so much as the fluttering of an eyelid did she betray the fact that she had ever heard the name.
She watched fascinated as the man, whose whole expression had altered, heaved himself slowly up from his chair.
The first glimpse of his features had been a shock, but the sight of him crossing the room toward her with gorilla-like arms a-swing, his body a-twitch, and one foot moving over the other was truly terrifying.
“Yes. You’ll be glad to live here under my protection,” he snarled. “I suppose Otto told you all about my—defects.” He laughed venomously as his long arm shot out and his fingers bit deeply into her shoulder. She winced and drew away. But the man’s grip tightened, and he shook her slowly to and fro. “Undangerous I may be—in some -ways, my dear—but for the little while which I have to live my word is law. Yes, law to Goering and to Goebbels and to Von Arne. Even the mighty Fuehrer must bow to my will, until he has the • secret of the power I can unleash. But I will not be spied upon.”
With each emphatic word he dug his^ fingers into her shoulder. Finally he thrust her from him so that she stumbled and collapsed into an armchair. But in a moment she was again upon her feet, her l cheeks flushed, her hands clenched, her , eyes blazing. At Jast it had dawned upon ( her that Hans Erhardt, while listening to her and leading her on, had already made up his mind that she was a secret agent set to watch him.
“Oh, you fool !” she cried, and the wild fury of her low-pitched voice was far more telling than any stream of invective. “You poor fool ! You say you recognize me from the photo that was always in Otto’s room; you hint that he told you of our love! Now you take me for a spy. You know that I am a Jewess, fit only for vile things according to the Nazis. Do you think Otto, who hated the Nazis, took his life because I threatened to betray him?”
The man stood staring at her curiously. “And you,” she went on, “do you think I want the protection of Aryan marriage? Bah ! You make me sick. I know that you only serve the Nazis because they sent you to Dachau, and there inflicted upon you the tortures which Otto dared not face. You are not serving the Nazis for love, my friend. Oh, dear, no! You serve their cause because you have been beaten and bullied and tortured into submission. Otto was braver than you, for he preferred death to the dishonor of betraying you— his friend—as he felt he would do under torture in a concentration camp. Now you boast that you have the Nazis in your power! Well, why don’t you use that power?”
“I intend to—in my own manner and in my own time. Meanwhile here is a strange position. I offer you the hospitality of my house and the protection for which you ask, and you turn upon me like a virago.
I begin to think, Fraulein, that there is a deeper purpose in your visit than you have so far revealed. Of that we will speak again. But you may fetch your things. While you are under my roof I will protect you—at least for as long as I live. Meantime the Gestapo dare not destroy me nor disturb you.”
“Yes,” agreed Greta, “we will discuss many matters at the proper moment— including the hatred we both feel for Adolf Hitler, and all that he and the Nazis stand for.”
With that she left Hans Erhardt. That evening Fenton received a note which anyone might have read without appreciating its real significance. From it he gathered that Greta was now installed at the villa in the Hoffmanngarten, had already made good progress, and was sanguine of bringing her undertaxing to a successful issue. She asked him to be in Hoffmanngarten each evening in future at a certain hour, in case she should need his help or have anything to report to him in a hurry.
CEVERAL times during the fortnight ^ following her installation as Erhardt’s secretary - cum - housekeeper - cum - cook Greta managed to slip out at night to meet Fenton in the Hoffmanngarten. There were plenty of secluded nooks in that quiet backwater which were well-known to
Berlin lovers. And if a patrolling policeman happened to shine his torch into the corner which was temporarily occupied by Greta and Lawrie, all that he saw was a mechanic, who, it might be assumed, had quarrelled with his girl, since they were never caught quite so amorously engaged as were other couples.
“You know, Lawrie,” she whispered on one such occasion, after the policeman had passed on his way, “I just can’t make out Hans Erhardt. The man is more than a little mad, and, with the guile of the partly insane, I believe he is hiding something from us all. Don’t think that what I am going to say is stupidly melodramatic, Lawrie, but I don’t know how else to put it—”
“Fire ahead, Greta. I shall be neither sceptical nor amused.”
Greta twisted a wisp of handkerchief nervously between her fingers for a moment before she said in a tense whisper more stirring than a shout, “I feel that something terrible is going to happen—I felt that way before Otto took his own life. When I am with Erhardt I feel that he is a man gambling with death for a joke.” Fenton swore silently, for the girl’s voice had risen above the whisper in which it was moderately safe to converse. It was evident that she was badly frightened, and the worst thing that could happen was for her nerve to give way at this critical stage.
“Easy; go easy,” he said, as he took her trembling hands. Next instant she was in his arms, and he could feel that the cheek which touched his own was wet.
“Oh, Lawrie,” she panted, “you must promise me one thing. You must swear that whatever happens to me you’ll go on with the work. He must not complete his invention—his secret weapon—for the Nazis. Otto, my father, and my father’s people must be revenged by the defeat of the Nazis. There’s no hope for the world if Germany wins this war.”
“Steady, steady,” Lawrie soothed her. “Secret weapon or no secret weapon, we shall beat the swine in the long run, but victory may come more quickly if we can find out the nature of this thing by which they seem to set such store. But tell me what has frightened you.”
“If only I could do that, the horror would lose half its terror.” She spoke low and so swiftly that Fenton was hard put to it to follow her words. “There is nothing concrete,” she complained.
“Well, then, why worry?”
“Lawrie, you don’t understand.”
“I might if you’d tell me how you are treated, who visits the house, and what you have seen.”
Greta controlled the trembling of her limbs and withdrew herself gently from Fenton’s arms.
“It’s being always with him, I suppose,” she faltered. “Anything abnormal has always shocked me, and he is abnormal, you know. He treats me so strangely. For hours he sits and stares at me. He just gloats over me, and I feel as if I had been stripped of every stitch of clothing and as though my very soul was laid bare. Because I am his servant he bullies me and makes me perform the most beastly tasks, tasks that the Nazis hear about and roar with laughter.”
“Perhaps that’s just very clever camouflage,” said Fenton thoughtfully. “Go on.” “I hadn’t thought of that. Sometimes it has seemed as though he wants me to know all that is going on. Whenever Von Arne comes to see him he has me in the room taking notes.”
“I wonder what Von Arne makes of our half-mad friend?”
“Very little, I fancy. But he’d gladly have him put to death by the most lingering and exquisite torture if he dared. I am very sure of that. Hans Erhardt baits Von Arne almost beyond endurance, promising him a little one day and withdrawing his promise the next, on the excuse that he has not yet sufficiently recovered from previous ill-treatment to go on with his experiments. Then when Von Arne
becomes dangerously angry Erhardt annoys him still further by saying he must have recreation, that he must see life and enjoy himself. Then he takes me to the Adlon or the Meurice to lunch or dine. His chief regret seems to be that he is prevented from dancing by his physical afflictions. I hate going to the Meurice,” she added, with seeming inconsequence.
“Why should you dislike the Meurice more than the Adlon? I’ve found little to choose between them.”
“Because on several occasions Althea Remington has sat at the next table. I am sure she has watched us. And I have seen that black-bearded member of the Gestapo you kicked down the stairs at Altmann’s’.”
"pENTON hastily suppressed the whistle of surprise which rose involuntarily to his lips.
“Do you think the fellow recognizes you?”
“No, no! He did not even glance in my direction.”
Fenton refrained from any comment which would have only added to Greta’s apprehension. But he was far too experienced a Secret Service agent to share her optimism about the Gestapo agent. He believed that Althea Remington had set the men to trail him when he had been disguised as an American special correspondent, and that the man had seen Greta in his company. The one chance was that he had not had much opportunity of studying her features closely at Altmann’s Cafe, for the light had been bad and she had dropped her veil before passing his table. None the less no one knew better than Fenton that a well-trained spy does not stare into the face of a person whom he is shadowing.
“It seems to me,” he volunteered indulgently, “that someone has, as we say, got the wind up through being left too long in unpleasant company. In other words, my dear, a nerve-storm. Why not quit and let me try my hand?”
Greta sat up very straight on the hard bench, and Fenton could feel that) she was positively bristling with indignation.
“Chuck in my hand, as you would say? Do you think so poorly of me, Lawrie?” “Well, what are the chances that you will get Erhardt to sell the secret of the weapon he has not yet perfected? And how soon?”
“We shall know one way or the other by the end of the week. He has definitely promised Von Arne that he will return to work at Krobel’s on Monday, and this time I think he will keep his word. I shall tackle him finally tomorrow.”
“And you really think he’ll sell?”
“How can I answer that question?” she countered fretfully. “Sometimes I fancy he is planning to play a trick on the Nazis. Sometimes I begin to believe he is conducting his own private war of nerves, paying them in their own coin for the mental torture they have inflicted upon others. He hates the Nazis. Lawrie, let there be no mistake about that, but do not let us forget that he is a German all the same.”
“I think,” she answered slowly, “that his love of Germany would be stronger than his hatred of the Nazis if he thought that a German defeat would lead to a second Versailles. Let me sound him first, Lawrie, and if there seems to be a chance that he will fall in with our plans, then you must convince him that Germany’s only salvation lies in the smashing of the Nazis. After that we’ll have to get him to England, or a neutral country, where he will receive payment for his secret, or, rather, for not letting the Nazis have it. I’m pretty sure he will not allow any other country to use it against Germany.” “That’s good enough so far as it goes, Greta,” said Fenton. “But you are close enough to him now—sufficiently in his confidence, I mean—to ask him to see a friend of yours, who is as anti-Nazi as he is.
Then I could put the whole proposition to him right away.”
“ ‘Right away,’ ” Greta echoed doubtfully. “ ‘Ay, there’s the rub,’ as another puzzled person put it. That’s too much like risking all on a single toss of the coin, Lawrie.”
“Aren’t you risking more by staying and making the proposal by gradual degrees? Supposing he denounces you to Von Ame when you make your offer?”
“I don’t think he’ll do that, and, anyway, it’s a chance that has got to be taken.”
“Don’t you see, mein Liebchen,” she said, laying her hand on his shoulder, “that G.F.Alt. sent you into Germany and then gave instructions that you must be got out of the prisoner-of-war camp at all costs precisely because he realized that no other British agent in Germany had so good a chance as you of pulling off this particular job.”
“Humph! It seems to me that you’re making a pretty good job of it yourself,” Fenton protested.
“Then why not let me see it through?” “Because of the risk you run. More especially as your nerves are pretty well shot to pieces already.”
“And what happens if you take on the job and fail? He might not denounce a woman who is half German-Jew, half English, and therefore to be excused for having divided loyalties. But he would a man, especially one whom he must regard as a traitor, for, remember, you dare not tell him you are a British agent until he has given you a favorable answer.
“As I see things, our present plan does at least give us a double chance. You are still at the engineering works, so that you can obtain by guile, or force if need be, that which I may fail to secure by other means. On the other hand, if I stand aside and you fail at the first attempt it will also be your last. I should say our last, for I could do nothing more to prevent the Nazis getting the secret weapon if you were in a concentration camp, or—or dead.”
“Very well,” agreed Fenton, “we’ll let it go as it is. When will you tackle Erhardt?” “Let me see,” she answered, “we’re lunching at the Meurice on Thursday and dining out at Wansee on Friday. He’s easier to handle in the evening, especially after a good dinner. This is to be a sort of final celebration before he goes back to Krobel’s next Monday. Can you manage to meet me here on Friday night? Let’s say as soon after midnight as Hans goes to sleep and I am able to slip out.”
“Can do,” said Fenton.
TJTIS TONE was laconic as he gave her hand an encouraging squeeze, but in reality he was badly worried. In the first place he had grown fond of Greta, and he hated being forced to allow her to shoulder the greater part of their joint burden, even if it was only for the time being. On the other hand he fully realized that, whether the person mainly concerned was a man or a woman, it made no difference, since the profession of espionage involves the taking of such risks. The circumstance of her almost psychical apprehension did not make him any happier—women had their queer presentiments, and too often he had seen them fulfilled.
Then there was the peculiar circumstance—or was it mere coincidence?—of Althea Remington’s more than once choosing a table at the Meurice next to that occupied by Erhardt and Greta. There was the reappearance of the black-bearded Gestapo agent too, and, most worrying of all, the strange behavior of the halfinsane inventor, and the uncertainty as to what view he would take of the offer which was to be made to him. What on earth had made Greta describe him as “a man who was gambling with death for a joke?” Fenton walked through the streets toward his lodging still pondering the problem. Then suddenly a siren wailed, and before he could reach an air-raid
shelter the sky was stabbed by searchlights and the sharp yapping of anti-aircraft guns broke up the peaceful quiet of the night.
There was the sound of running feet, a number of torches were momentarily switched on. and Fenton, who had already retired discreetly to a doorway, saw furtive people assembling and staring heavenward.
Then came the thud of heavy feet, and even the British agent, after months in Berlin, was staggered by the ruthless brutality with which the S.S. men used rubber truncheons and their boots upon the men and women who sought to catch a glimpse of any aerial combat that might take place.
Three nights later Fenton passed that way again, but this time there was no disturbance. He reached the Hoffmanngarten a few minutes before midnight, but two o’clock had gone before soft footfalls warned him of the approach of Greta Mayer. Then she stood beside him, shaking his arm in her excitement.
“I daren’t stay more than a few seconds,” she whispered breathlessly. “He’s only just gone to bed, and I’m not sure that he’ll sleep tonight.”
“How did he take it?” Fenton asked anxiously.
“He became terribly excited and worked himself into a perfect frenzy at what he called being asked to betray his country for the sake of gold. He said some pretty bitter things about the Jews and their lust for money. But he calmed down, and I thought I saw relief in his eyes when I mentioned that there was more than a probability of our being able to get him out of Germany, so that he could collect his reward abroad. After that I could afford to smile at a grasping Gentile’s sneers at the money-grabbing Jews.”
“But he gave you no definite answer?” “No. He said he was too tired to make such an important decision at a moment’s notice. He wants to sleep on the suggestion and to go further into the matter with me in the morning. I think we shall hook him, Lawrie. If I know anything of his habits after such a night out as we’ve had, he won’t get up much before midday. You’d better go to work tomorrow as usual. Are you on all day?”
“No. I knock off at noon.”
“Good! You’ll have your midday meal along with you as usual? Then eat it on that secluded seat by the air-raid shelter. You can see the villa through the bushes. I’ll join you. If it’s unsafe to speak I’ll drop my handkerchief if I’ve succeeded. If I’ve failed I’ll blow my nose as I walk by you. In any event I’ll be here tomorrow night again at midnight. Good-by.”
“Good sleep, Greta. You’ve done a marvellous job of work. The best of luck tomorrow.”
Lawrie could not see her in the inky darkness of the blackout, but suddenly her arms went round his neck and her mouth was pressed passionately on his. Then, with a half-choked sob, she was gone.
“Ahem!” coughed Lawrie, as he groped about for his hat, which had been knocked off. “Apparently I’m not as old as I was beginning to think I am. Berlin’s a dull hole these days, but I don’t think Stella would approve of that young woman.”
GRETA was awakened on that Saturday morning as a pale ray of sunlight crept into her room through the open window.
Continued on page, 44
Continued from page 42
Despite the bitter weather she had drawn back the curtains after putting out the light and had flung up the sash. This she did every night before going to sleep.
Perhaps it was not the wintry sunbeam, but the frost nibbling at her nose, which awakened the girl. She snuggled farther down among the bedclothes and drew up her knees because her feet felt cold, just as she had so often done in her father’s house in the happy days of her childhood.
For some time she lay in that lovely state between sleeping and waking. She was deliciously warm, and for a brief respite which might last for no more than a few minutes she was carefree, because her thoughts had returned to her childhood, and it was as though the horrors of the past few years had never been.
Presently, she thought, her father would pop his head through the door and feign anger at her idleness. Oh, he was a jester, all right; a good actor, too, and the very soul of kindliness. It did not worry her, did not even enter her head, that he was a non-Aryan, for in the days she was reliving in her half-awakened reverie the scum of the earth had not yet come to power to set the false mark of the beast upon the Jewish people.
What would there be for breakfast, she wondered. And then she remembered that old Marte, their maid, was ill, and she, Greta, had promised to prepare breakfast for her father.
It was not only the cold of the winter’s morning that struck her as she Hung back the clothes and sprang out of bed. It was the remembrance of the horrible present, and of the man so different from her father for whom she must prepare the morning meal.
She remembered also that this was the fateful day on which she was to put before Hans Erhardt the final pioposal upon which so much depended.
While she dressed she thought of Fenton, of his consideration for her upon the previous night, of his willingness, nay, his anxiety, to relieve her of the risk of this forthcoming interview with Erhardt. She wondered what the Englishman had thought of her behavior in Hoffmanngarten. Had he suspected what she half feared was the truth, that out at Wansee she had dined not wisely but too well with Hans Erhardt?
If that was so might it not mean that his obvious desire to take over from her was inspired by doubt of her trustworthiness rather than by affectionate consideration? On the other hand, if he had thought she had been slightly intoxicated he might be the more disposed to excuse her last boldness.
The girl went hot with shame as she recollected how she had twined her arms about his neck and pressed her lips to his. It was strange, she thought, that he had not kissed her in return.
She had heard that nearly all Englishmen were clean, but possibly cold. Certainly it seemed true where Fenton was concerned. On the whole she decided that she would rather he thought her drunk than shameless. It would be better that he should not know just yet that she loved him. It had never entered her head that he might be married and even in love with his wife.
Presently she walked quietly along the passage and softly turned the handle of Erhardt’s door. His face looked horrible in the cold morning light, which accentuated the harshness of features which even sleep had not softened. He was breathing stertorously, and Greta decided that it would be wise not to disturb him. Nor did she do so throughout the morning, but toward lunch time she heard his feet upon the stairs.
She braced herself for the coming ordeal, but he passed the open door of the kitchen, where she was preparing their midday meal, without a glance. She heard him enter the sitting room, and then came a soft whirring as he dialled a telephone
number. But before he began to speak he closed the door.
They lunched together, but exchanged no more than half a dozen conversational phrases. Greta had the feeling that she was being watched covertly by Erhardt. Already apprehension was again taking heavy toll, and she decided that she must force matters to a climax directly she had served coffee. Coffee was one of the luxuries he had contrived to squeeze out of the Nazis, and which he had insisted she should share.
“Well, Hans—I suppose, after last night at Wansee, I may call you Hans?” she queried.
“But, of course,” he answered, without looking up from the cigar he was lighting.
“Well, Hans,” she repeated, “have you thought over what I said to you last evening?”
“I haven’t thought much about anything since I tumbled into bed when we got home,” he grinned ruefully. “You know, there used not to be a single headache in a bottle of the champagne they served at Wansee before the war, but, oh glory, if you only knew what my poor head was like when I woke up today. What was it you were telling me?”
ARRETA refilled his cup with strong 'Aí black coffee and waited patiently until he had finished it.
“You hate the sight of the Nazis, don’t you, Hans?” she insinuated.
“There’s not a dirty trick I wouldn’t play on them if I got the chance,” he answered, with bitter hatred in his voice.
“It was of that we were speaking on the drive home last night.”
“Ah, I’m beginning to remember. But go on; I may have forgotten something.” “Well, of course, I’ve been in the room when you’ve been arguing with Von Arne, so I can’t help knowing that you are working on a weapon that may help Hitler to win the war.”
“Not may, but will !” he almost shouted. “And neither Hitler nor the Nazis, but Germany—Germany our Fatherland, little Greta.”
“Are you so sure?”
“Sure? Of course I’m sure.”
“But I’m not. What have the Nazis done for Germany so far? For the real Germany I mean. They’ve got back the Ruhr, you say. Good ! They’ve smashed the Treaty of Versailles. Good again ! They’ve re-created our fighting forces, and they are supposed to have given us back our proper national pride. But have they? And to what use have they put our new army? Can you say that any of their successes, gained in the way they have been gained, represent conquests of which the real German people should be proud? Do you approve the persecution of the Jews? Are you satisfied when you think of how all rights of individual thought and expression have been ruthlessly stamped out in our country? Will you put yet another weapon of persecution into the hands of—our oppressors?”
“My weapon would not be used in that way,” Erhardt protested. “But it would save Germany from a fresh defeat and subsequent humiliation.”
“Germany or the Nazis?”
“It’s the same thing.”
“No. It is not the same thing.” Greta spoke with quiet eagerness. “Do you think even the most complete success in this war would satisfy Hitler? No! He would go on until he ruled the world. And what an iron-fisted rule that would be! It would not lessen the sufferings of the German people. It would only broadcast their misery to the rest of humanity. I tell you, Hans, that our only hope of salvation, the only nope of the salvation of the world, lies in the utter extermination of the Nazis.”
“That would mean the subjection of Germany and a second Versailles.” he interjected angrily.
“I don’t think so. The British would make a just and lasting peace with a responsible German government, if it was
willing to give up Hitler’s ill-gotten gains.” “I wish I could believe that. But what is it you want me to do?”
There was a note of doubt, a change of the tone of his voice, at which the girl leaned eagerly forward.
“Listen, Hans,” she whispered. “In Berlin there are people who can get you out of Germany in safety before the Nazis can force you to disclose the secret of your weapon. You need not bother about the future. Those for whom I work will pay five thousand pounds to ensure that your secret does not fall into the wrong hands. They don’t want to buy it for their own use; they only want to prevent the Nazis getting hold of it.”
Greta stopped speaking and waited breathlessly, while the man stared at her with loathing and amazed horror.
“You!” He spluttered and choked on the word. “You thought—for money?— Bah! But for Germany! Ah!”
He got no further, and she was never to know what his decision would have
been, for at that moment a heavy hammering upon the front door echoed through the little house. For a moment which seemed like an eternity they sat staring at each other. Erhardt was the first to break the silence.
“See who it is,” he growled; “and if it’s Von Ame send him to the devil. I won't see him today.”
But it was not Von Arne. The door was flung back into Greta’s face, banging her against the wall, the moment she eased the lock. A big man in uniform thrust his way into the hall, and because of his bulk the girl did not immediately see who followed him. When she did catch sight of the second intruder a gasp of sheer terror rose to her lips and her heart beat stiflingly. She backed slowly down the passage with eyes half closed and one hand flung out before her, as if for protection. For the second man to enter was the black-bearded member of the Gestapo, to whom she had fondly imagined she was unknown.
To be Continued