Spy Against the Reich
In which the Gestapo strikes, a mystery is solved, and Secret Agent Fenton penetrates beyond a door marked "Verboten"
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 sometime 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 ivork 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. 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.
He saves her from a group of men. 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 crippled 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, Erhardt has a breakdoicn from earlier ill-treatment, and Ins 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 Englishwoman in the official party. Hoping she may be with the British Intelligence, he later poses as an American newspaperman and 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.
Greta learns that Hans Erhardt is living in a villa in the lloffmanngarlen, and using the name of her former fiance, known to Erhardt, she manages to secure a position as the inventorscientist’s housekeeper-secretary. She learns, too, that Erhardt hates the Nazis, and approaches him on the subject of his accepting payment for not completing his invention for Von Arne and the others. She is making good progress in the matter when the door is crashed open by a uniformed figure and she is overcome with sheer terror at seeing behind him a black-bearded man whom she recognizes as being of the hated Gestapo.
(Filth of Eight Parts)
THE SIGHT of her evident terror brought a chuckle of satisfaction from both men. Then Greta turned, and, bursting into the room where Erhardt
was sitting, flung herself down by his chair, clasping his twisted legs and hiding her face in his lap.
“Don’t let them take me, oh, don’t let them take me!” she wailed, her nerve completely broken for the moment.
Hans Erhardt released his legs and rose awkwardly to his feet. As if to protect her he half raised the heavy stick that he used when
walking, but found himself looking into the bleak black eye of an automatic pistol.
“I want that woman!” said the black-bearded Gestapo agent.
Erhardt sank back into his chair, but Greta did not rise from the Ikxir at once. Despite her terror, she was wondering whether the Gestajx) had really tracked her down, or whether the half-mad inventor had seen through her all the time, had played with her to his heart’s content, and then liad informed Von Arne of the tentative suggestions she liad made concerning the secret weaixm. If that was the case he could now tell the Gestapo of the offer she had made to him that afternoon. It would ensure a punishment of which she dared not think. And there was Lawrie too. At all costs he must be protected.
Hut Fenton had been waiting patiently upon the secluded seat in Hoff manngarten since shortly after midday.
'THERE was never a break in the routine at the great -*■ Krobel Engineering Works on the Wilhelmsrue. Shifts came on and off, men and women died and were replaced, or they went sick and in due course returned from hospital or clinic. Hut the works closed down neither for half-days nor for national celebrations. Day and night, week after week, month upon month, the work went on, apparently unhurried and certainly unhindered.
During the time he had worked there in the guise of Emil Dollinger, Fenton had never heard of an operative’s being dismissed for laziness or inefficiency. That, he thought grimly, was probably due to the fact that Krobel’s were going flat out on mass production of war munitions under Nazi supervision. Wherefore any shirker of either sex would be likely to experience the unpleasant workings of a concentration camp. That was j)erhaps the greatest horror of modem Germany.
But there was discontent at Krobel’s, as elsewhere. Fenton sensed it, but he was given no concrete evidence until the Saturday following his abrupt meeting with Greta Mayer in Hoffmanngarten.
That morning, just as he was starting upon his interminable waste-collecting round, an overseer, who was accompanied by a member of the Gestapo, ordered him sharply to take his empty handcart through the door labelled Verboten.
Fenton experienced an extraordinary feeling of elation. This chance to make a preliminary reconnaissance of the quarters in which Hans Erhardt had worked, and would work again if Greta failed to persuade him to fall in with their plans, struck Fenton as being peculiarly fortunate. To know even the lie of the land might prove invaluable if Greta Mayer failed.
On the way through the modelling room the overseer paused to recruit an electrician named Jakob Schafer, with whom Fenton was slightly acquainted. He also gave orders that a female cleaner should be sent to Erhardt’s quarters.
The British agent took advantage of this temporary distraction to slip a lump of modeller’s wax off one of the tables into his jx^cket. Although he had an uncomfortable feeling that Schafer might have s]X)tted the petty theft, he was sure that neither the overseer nor the Gestapo agent had done so. He was pretty certain that Schafer would not betray him, for lie had heard Jakob talking about his “dreams.” That meant he was a secret radio-listener, and probably an anti-Nazi. Moreover, Fenton thought that Jakob had deliberately moved to cover him when he had purloined the wax.
The door labelled Verboten was opened with a large, old-fashioned key, which the overseer left in the lock since the female cleaner had not yet joined the little party. Then, having pointed out the work to be done, he went off in search of the woman.
The Gestapo agent ordered Fenton to place a chair in the hall for him, and to open all the doors so that he could see what was going on in each room without the necessity of standing over the men as they worked. Fenton obeyed with becoming humility, but all his senses were on the alert.
THE QUARTERS contained a small but perfectly equipped electrical workshop. There were models of types of apparatus with which he was totally unfamiliar, but he saw Jakob Schafer, the trained electrician, looking at them with surprised speculation. There was a neat office, a rather dirty bathroom, and two living rooms. Piles of sheeted furniture stood in the centre of these rooms.
While Schafer wired the living rooms for power plugs
and reading-lamp points Fenton performed the menial task of laying carpets and arranging furniture. With the Gestapo agent watching intently he dare not speak to Schafer, so he occupied himself by memorizing the plan of the quarters and the positions in which he placed the various pieces of furniture.
He was thinking, too, that the work Jakob and he were doing represented in all probability another example of Nazi unscrupulousness. According to Greta, Erhardt had been promised privacy and comparative freedom— in so far as any citizen is free in Germany under Hitler’s regime—in his own villa until he had completed his new invention. Fenton, however, would have smiled sceptically if anyone had suggested that the quarters now being prepared would be anything better than a prison for the inventor once the Nazis got him back to Krobel’s.
The agent of the Gestapo, a smoldering cigarette drooping at a corner of his mouth, lolled comfortably in the armchair Fenton had carried into the hall. He sat up with a start, however, when Jakob roared with laughter at Fenton’s language as he trapped his lingers in the frame of a bed he was erecting. Thereafter the member of the Gestapo remained on the alert.
Presently an exceedingly pretty girl in cleaner’s uniform came through the door marked Verboten. The Gestapo agent looked her over with the appraising eye of a connoisseur and directed her, civilly enough, to the bedroom, where Jakob and Fenton were still busy.
Presently he, too, entered the room, and stood leaning against the fireplace while he watched the girl as she sorted the bedding.
Fenton, having fitted the frame together, lifted on the thick spring mattress. He would have helped the girl make the bed, but suddenly the guard barked at him, “That’s not your work, curse you ! Get out of here and arrange the furniture in the other room. You can clear out too,” he ordered, turning on Jakob.
The girl gave them a piteous look of appeal, and Fenton felt his temper rising.
Jakob closed his hand unobtrusively on Fenton’s wrist, and he pulled the door to behind them.
“It’s no good,” he whispered. “If it wasn’t him it would be another of them sooner or later. No woman is safe in Germany now. We shouldn’t save the girl if we beat him up. She’d only share our fate, or worse, in one of their hell-camps. But, my lord, have you ever thought what is going to happen to them when the revolution comes? Please God I live to see it. I had a daughter once.”
“You’re risking a lot in telling me these things,” muttered Fenton.
“Don’t be a fool. You’d have killed that pig-dog if I hadn’t checked you. And why did you take that modelling wax? If it’s an impression of the door key you’re after, now’s your time to take it. And don’t forget that I’m your friend.”
Fenton was off like a flash. He was back in the sittingroom. arranging furniture, long before the door of the adjoining room opened. They heard the sound of the girl crying as she crossed the hall.
Fenton sweated. He looked across the room and saw that Jakob had gone verv white and that his eyes were blazing. None the less both men appeared calm and were hard at work when the Gestapo man sauntered into the sitting room.
“You men ought to be finished. I want my dinner,” he grumbled
“We have finished,” said Jakob.
As they made their way back to the big bay in the main building he whispered to Fenton, “I’ll cut that key if you like.”
That was an awkward moment for Lawrie. It looked as though he had found in Jakob Schafer an ally who would be extremely valuable if Greta failed with Hans Erhardt. To trust this man would mean taking a certain amount of risk, but Fenton felt that the risk would be even greater if he offended the anti-Nazi electrician by appearing not to trust him.
“Right, I'll be grateful for that!” he whispered, and the lump of modelling wax changed hands unobtrusively before they parted.
It was then midday, and Fenton passed out of the works with the rest of the morning shift going off duty. He did not anticipate that Greta would have any news to impart before luncheon. W'herefore he sauntered along the Wilhelmstrasse in leisurely fashion, and came presently by quiet byways to the secluded seat in the Hoffmanngarten.
ALTHOUGH winter was not yet gone, there was a feeling of spring in the air, and the seat was not only secluded, but sheltered from wandering breezes. He ate his frugal lunch in comparative comfort, grew slowly drowsy, and at length fell into a light cat sleep. He was awakened by the screaming of tires as some motorist who had driven too fast into the Hoffmanngarten jammed on his brakes.
Lawrie came to life with a start. A big black Mercédès had come to a standstill at the gate of Hans Erhardt’s villa, and two men, whose backs were toward him, were hurrying up the path. Another man in uniform had an evil grin on his face as he leaned from the driving seat to stare after his comrades. Fenton felt the icy touch of fear upon his heart. He had little doubt that all three men who had arrived in that black Mercédès belonged to the Secret Police. Were they there by chance, or had Hans Erhardt summoned them? Although they were unaware of the coincidence, Greta and he were asking themselves the same question at almost the same instant. In any case it looked to Fenton as though Greta had failed.
During the next few minutes the noise of screams, shouts, and w-hat sounded like the smashing of furniture came from the villa, while Fenton crept nearer and the driver of the Mercédès, who did not see him, grinned more broadly.
Then the dcxir was wrenched ojien, and Greta, bleeding from a gash ujx>n one cheek and with her clothing torn, was flung out onto the path. She fell sprawling ujxrn her hands and knees, and at the same instant a coarse voice
bellowed an order. But instead of rising as she was told she clung tenaciously to a miniature ornamental railing. In fact, she clung so desperately that the flesh of her palms was torn when the Nazis wrenched her from her hold.
The bigger of the tw-o men marched her down the walk with one arm twisted behind her back. The chauffeur of the Mercedes, roaring with laughter, began to get out in order to assist his companions with the madly struggling girl. Meanwhile a second car had drawn up unnoticed behind the Mercédès.
Then things happened with amazing rapidity.
Fenton sprang forward, forgetful for the moment of his mission; the sight of Greta’s grey, tortured features, and the low moaning which had replaced her screams, had goaded him beyond endurance. At the same instant some unseen person shouted a warning, and a small man shot out of the streamlined Lancia which was parked behind the Mercédès.
The newcomer seemed only intent upon reaching the villa. He cried a command as he went by Fenton, at which the second Gestapo man turned and also ran toward the open d(*>r. Lawrie did not realize until later that the second of the men who had brought Greta from the house had a black beard and a familiar countenance.
At that moment Fenton’s every faculty was concentrated on effecting Greta’s rescue. But in those tremendous moments of terror, torture, and misfortune it was Greta Mayer who j>rovcd herself the greater player of the Greatest Game.
She had already partly incapacitated her bulky captor with a paralyzing back-heel kick. Black-beard had returned to the villa, and the chauffeur was not yet close enough to help his comrade.
Greta realized that in an instant Lawrie would betray himself by any attempt at rescue. At all costs he must be stopped from doing that. With a superhuman effort she wrenched her arm free, stumbled forward, and struck him in the mouth.
“You beast!” she screamed. “Isn’t it enough for you to see a wretched girl in the hands of the Gestapo? Must you and every other bloody-minded Nazi join in the persecution?”
She paused as if for breath, while the men of the Gestapo stared at such violence in a captive. But her blazing eyes, which only Fenton could see, were alive with pleading entreaty. “Haven’t you any duty to yourself or others that you must add further to my misery?”
Fenton, startled by Greta’s vehemence into realization of his duty, slunk back with every appearance of shame. The girl rushed by him as if seeking to escape, but the chauffeur caught her in an instant, and the other Gestapo ruffian rolled forward and beat her cruelly about the shoulders with his rubber truncheon. As she stumbled forward half swooning he flung her into the car, climbed in beside her, and. the chauffeur taking his seat, the Mercédès shot out of the Hoffmanngarten.
"DENTON, stunned by his impotence to interfere and with Greta’s screams growing fainter in the distance, raised his eyes to find Althea Remington staring intently at him from the passenger’s seat of Von Arne’s racing Lancia.
The second shock, immediately following the first, completely nonplussed Fenton for a moment. Inconsequently he muttered,
“Where the carcass is, there will the vultures be gathered.” He hoped that no light of recognition had leaped into his eyes at the sight of the English girl.
She continued to study his every feature writh a kind of coldly inhuman curiosity, as if she was trying to tear away the veil of his disguise. He felt hot and uncomfortable.
After a few seconds she raised an imperious, beckoning finger. Recovering himself, and swiftly playing up to his part, Fenton slouched sullenly to the side of the car.
“Who was the woman they arrested?”
Althea Remington demanded.
“How should I know?” growled Fenton.
“But you tried to interfere.”
“Well, what of it?”
“Were you foror against her?”
The question startled Fenton, although he had been far from underrating the shrewdness of his compatriot. Hoffmanngarten was empty at the moment, but he noticed how cautiously she had lowered her voice.
“Never mind. You need not answer that question if it embarrasses you,” she said, haughtily indulgent. “I am not German, and I am not particularly interested.
But I’ve seen you before. At the Krobcl Engineering Works, wasn’t it?”
“That’s where I work,” was his entirely noncommittal answer.
“Yes. That is where you work! You saw me when I came there. Surely you remember? You are the workman whose handcart blocked the main gangway.”
“Well, and what if what you say is true, Fräulein?”
“I was not sure then,” she said almost musingly, and then added, “but now that I have heard your voice I am certain.”
Fenton’s heart missed a beat. He feared that by some inflection of voice or trick of intonation she had detected his true nationality by his speech.
The devil ! he thought. Can she have spotted me for an Englishman?
“That, however,” she continued calmly, “was not our first meeting. You are the man who came to my assistance when I was attacked in the blackout one night. What is your name?”
“Dollinger,” came the reluctant answer.
No good purpose would be served, thought Fenton, by giving a name other than that by which he was known at Krobel’s. Further false pretenses of that kind might produce fateful repercussions if Althea Remington, the friend of Von Arne and protégé of the Fuehrer himself, should choose to make further enquiries concerning him. But her next words seemed reassuring.
“Yes, you are undoubtedly the man who helped me in the blackout,” she asserted. “If at any future time I can reward you ask for Fräulein Remington at the Mcurice. Although I am a foreigner I have much power in high quarters. You will not forget?” she added, and dismissed him with a patronizing nod.
Fenton accepted his dismissal in silence.
“Like the devil I won’t forget.” he mut mured, as he walked away, “but I’d give a lot to know what game you’re playing, m’lady. You’re sharp as a needle, or you wouldn’t have linked up the man who saved you in the blackout with the operative you saw at the works and the man with whom you have spoken today. What’s more, it was you, m’lady, who put that black-bearded Gestapo swine on to trail me when you thought I was an American journalist. Thank heaven I succeeded in disguising my voice sufficiently on that occasion. Still, Blackbeard might identify me. It’s strange how it is nearly
always easy to recognize a man with whom one has fought, no matter what his disguise may be.”
Having departed from the Englishwoman’s line of vision, he selected another secluded seat and resumed his cogitations.
Urn! he mused, as he lit a cigarette. Black-beard undoubtedly saw Greta at Altmann’s with the alleged American he had been instructed to shadow, and Blackbeard took part in the poor girl’s arrest this afternoon. Gad, what wouldn’t he have given for freedom to have a cut at that swine! Hum ! Von Arne, Althea Remington, a mysterious person who vanished after posing as a wellknown American journalist, Black-beard, Greta Mayer, and Hans Erhardt.
One by one he ticked off the half-dozen personalities upon his fingers.
A broken chain, but all the parts complete—if you knew how to put them together. To the other side the pseudo-U.S.A. newspaper-man—present but unidentified today—must represent the missing link. And there’d be some Gestapo headaches before they made up their minds as to the relationship between Greta and Hans. Unless, of course, it was Erhardt who spilled the beans and brought about her arrest! If he didn’t, the prospect became even less pleasing. It meant that the Remington woman was still all for the Nazis, that Von Arne was no slouch (no one ever thought he was!), and that Black-beard, having done a mighty slick piece of sleuthing, was a sight hotter on the trail than Fenton cared to have him. That fellow was going to cramp his style unless he, Fenton, was mighty careful.
Fenton abandoned his chain of reasoning and dropped his head between his hands. He realized—or he would not have been the first-class agent he most certainly was —that the sacrifice of Greta had been necessary to the general interests of the Greatest Game. But while he passionately admired her remarkable heroism, he loathed himself for not having fought, no matter how vain the hope, to achieve her rescue.
And then, as he sat there, a hand was laid comfortingly upon his bowed shoulders, and some one spoke who seemed to have interpreted his bitter thoughts.
“Cheer up, Dollinger, it would have been suicide for you to fight the Gestapo, and the girl knew it.”
Fenton looked up to find Jakob Schafer seated beside him.
Good lord, another ruddy follower! he thought.
JAKOB SCHAFER came slowly down the rickety stairs that led to Altmann’s Café. As usual it was almost impossible to see across the badly illuminated basement because of the clouds of tobacco smoke.
Before he reached floor level, however, Schafer saw Fenton, and made his way unobtrusively to the corner in which he was seated.
Two w'eeks had elapsed since the arrest of Greta Mayer, and in that time the men had become fast friends. But it was only upon the previous evening, after being sworn to the strictest secrecy, that Lawrie had learned of Jakob’s connection with the German Freedom Broadcasting Station, which had been off the air for some time. He was now to learn why that revelation had been made. The table he had chosen was almost out of sight of other people in the basement and quite by itself. Nevertheless, Schafer spoke out of the side of his mouth, in a whisper, and with unmoving lips.
“Go along to the lavatory which is usually kept locked for the use of the staif.”
Fenton gave no sign that he had heard the instructions. After a moment he laid aside the evening paper, beckoned the Kellner, and paid his score. Then he sauntered toward the stairs and turned through a door labelled Herren.
The place was empty. Fenton waited, fuming. Ten minutes passed. Then the false wall behind a wash-basin fitting disappeared and he found himself staring at Jakob Schafer standing at the entrance to a narrowpassage.
He was smiling. “The camouflage is good, don’t you think?”
Fenton murmured agreement, and followed his guide through an untidy storage cellar and round a woodpile which artfully concealed the entrance to a comfortable sitting room. As they entered a masked woman rose from in front of a radio transmitting set and stepped past them.
“My friends will not be present for fear of embarrassing you,” said Schafer.
“That’s very considerate of them” Lawrie answered.
Continued on page 26
Continued from page 22—Starts on page 20
“but I am embarrassed already by what you have told me, and by coming here at all.”
“You need not be. We have not the power of the Gestapo—as yet. Nor do we wish for their kind of power. But we have made no mistakes—so far, and we have our own very accurate sources of information.”
“For example?” suggested Fenton, who never missed a chance of acquiring knowledge.
“For example,” echoed Schafer, “we, and also the Gestapo, know that Greta Mayer gave the identity papers of Otto Hirschfeld, the dead friend of Hans Erhardt, to a mysterious person who vanished after lodging with Frau Koernig for a time. We believe also that the Gestapo left Greta May.er at large to act as bait for bigger fish. We know her now as a British agent.”
“You have a genuine reason for making that assertion?”
“I have,” came the grave answer. “In the concentration camp to which she was taken she was coerced with a refinement of cruelty which would have appalled a Spanish Inquisitor. Two days ago she confessed that she was working under the orders of an Englishman who is in Berlin. Then she collapsed completely, and was carried to the cell in which she was kept in solitary confinement. The camp commandant and his satellites, I am told, positively gloated at the thought that further ghoulish ill-treatment upon the morrow would make her reveal the Englishman’s name, the identity he has assumed, and what he is after in Berlin.”
Despite his inimitably cool courage Fenton’s mind boggled for a moment at the magnitude of the misfortunes which seemed to attend upon his present mission.
“Well, go on,” he said hoarsely.
“But that girl was more brave than the famous Jeanne d’Arc, and she beat them all,” added Schafer.
“Do you mean that she has escaped?” broke in Fenton.
Schafer gave a queer look, then dropped his eyes. When at last he spoke his voice was low.
“She was beyond their power when they went to fetch her from the cell next morning. She had hanged herself with her own stockings.”
For a few moments the men were silent and did not look at each other. Fenton was the first to speak.
“We want to" get in touch with this Englishman and to help him.”
“But why do you tell me these things? How do you know that I shall not betray you?”
“As to betrayal,” said Schafer, “this transmitting station will shut down tonight, and the secret way from Altmann’s to these cellars will be bricked up. Who do you think would believe your story? I have told you what I have because I believe you can help us. I admit, Emil, it was quite by chance I discovered your meetings with Greta Mayer, and that my interest quickened considerably when she went to live with Erhardt.”
“Why do you mention him?”
“Why did you want an impression of the key to his quarters at the works?” countered Schafer. “Why were you outside his house in the Iloffmanngarten on the day Greta Mayer was arrested? Why did the Englishwoman Althea Remington talk with you that day? Is she also a British agent? Come, Emil, let us be frank with each other—how can we get in touch with this Englishman?”
“I cannot tell you.”
SCHAFER vented a sigh of sheer exasperation.
“Very well! Will you tell me why you are working at Krobel’s?”
“Isn’t that obvious?”
The German thought for a moment, and then made up his mind that, having revealed so much already, he could do no harm by being yet more candid.
“You mean,” he said quietly, “that we are both after the same thing—Hans Erhardt’s secret weapon?”
“I mean to prevent the Nazis getting hold of it if I can.”
“Your intervention may not be necessary. Perhaps there is an ally upon whom you have not counted.”
“Of course. But I was thinking of a far more potent force, of a power that no man may deny when the call comes. Haven’t you noticed that Erhardt has become a very sick man since Von Arne broke faith with him and shut him away behind the Verboten door? I wonder, sometimes, if he knows he is dying and keeps putting off the completion of his invention in the hope of taking his secret with him when he dies.” “It’s too big a chance to gamble on,” said Fenton. “Erhardt’s a queer fellow, more than a little mad by all accounts. Greta was inclined to think that, although he has nothing but bitter hatred for the Nazis, yet he might let them have the secret weapon. I think he would do so if he felt that without it Germany might suffer defeat.”
“There’s a good deal in that, I should fancy.”
Schafer sat forward, brooding, eye intent beneath frowning brows, hands clasped between his knees.
“You’re an electrician,” said Fenton, “and from what we saw of his workshop when we prepared his living quarters I should say it’s some sort of electrical gadget he’s working on. What about trying to get a look at his models and drawings tomorrow night? I’ve got the key you cut, and if necessary we can chloroform Erhardt before he wakes up.” “We’d have to hide on the premises when the day shift goes off,” broke in Schafer. “It could be done all right. Erhardt’s quarters are away from the main building. I suppose we could lure away theS.S. man who guards the door, oi arrange for his supper to seriously disagree with him.”
“I suppose,” said Fenton, “you realize that it would do us no good to merely destroy the models and the plans. It would only delay matters while Erhardt made new ones.”
“Yes. But suppose we get the stuff and could pass it on to the British agent who is in Berlin. He’d get it through to his own people fast enough, and they, you can be very sure, would lose no time in finding the right answer to whatever the secret weapon may turn out to be. Look how quickly the British Admiralty found out the means of making their shipping immune from the menace of the magnetic mine, in which the Nazis had such confidence.” Fenton did not answer for a moment. This return— implied though it might beto the question of getting into touch with the British agent made him wary.
“Could you memorize the models and plans if we find them?” he questioned, seeking to shelve the dangerous issue for the moment. “That would be safer than stealing them, unless it is to be our deliberate policy to help Erhardt delay the matter, without letting him know the source of his assistance.”
‘As an electrical engineer who has also worked on Intelligence I could certainly do as you suggest,” agreed Schafer. “But would that help us?”
“Not so obviously, I’m afraid, my friend. I ’ll admit that when I cut your key to the door marked Verboten I cut a second key for my own use—and I have used it.”
I “Well?” Fenton snapped the question sharply as Schafer paused. He seemed so particularly self-satisfied at the moment.
“It isn’t well. Twice I’ve searched Erhardt’s quarters. I could make nothing of the models and drawings I came across. That means that Erhardt has carefully j concealed the real formula or calculations, | or else he carries them in his head. If we • knew that they were not written down I the whole problem would be solved by his j elimination, for I’m certain there is not I sufficient data available in his workshop ! notes to enable any other person to go on I with his work. That’s why it is absolutely essential for us to find anything that may ! be concealed in his quarters in case it would ¡ guide others to the perfection of his invention in the event of his death.”
“You seem to be pretty anxious that we Germans should lose this war,” said Fenton, with a cleverly simulated suggestion ;
I of grumbling doubt in his voice.
“The Freedom League does not work for : the defeat but for the salvation of Germany,” came the proud reply. “The
; British have said they will make peace i with a responsible German Government.” j
“But it is Erhardt’s fear of a second | Versailles which may yet make him an ally of the Nazis,” interposed Fenton.
“That is not our fear,” Schafer reI sponded. “We believe that even if I : Germany was completely conquered the j nation would be better off and the people j far happier than can ever be the case under j thej brutal, souland-thought-destroying j Hitler regime.”
Schafer started and looked at his watch as the masked woman re-entered and took her seat at the radio transmitting set.
“You must go before the broadcast,” he said hurriedly. “Who knows when the Gestapo may find our secret station? ¡ Tomorrow, then, we work together, for freedom.”
“Tomorrow, yes!” agreed Fenton, as he rose and took the hand held out to him.
T TPON the morrow, however, there was greater activity than was usual even at the busy Ivrobel Works. The night shift had left in blissful ignorance of any unusual happenings being in prospect,
, and the day shift had hardly started duty : before the loudspeaker installed in every j workshop, laboratory, yard, and office ! blared a strident “Achtung'.” The command to pay attention was followed by sharp orders for everyone, except machineminders and men in charge of the power j plant, to assemble at once jn the sports ! stadium attached to the works.
! So rigid is the discipline enforced by ; Nazidom that operatives, clerks, and scientists streamed out into a cold drizzle of rain without even pausing to put on outdoor clothing, despite the fact that many from the heated workshops were thinly clad and streaming with sweat.
As Fenton passed with the crowd through one workshop after another, on the way to the main exit leading to the stadium, he noticed that large numbers of S.A. and S.S. troopers had arrived, and that each machine-minder who was to remain on duty had now an armed guard with him. Glancing back through the open door of a shop, he saw that a diligent search of some kind was already in progress.
As the stream of employees passed through the electrical department Fenton saw a man slip from a doorway into the human tide some way ahead. Fenton wondered idly if the fellow was ill, for he was having difficulty in keeping pace with the moving stream, and he was causing considerable confusion as he dropped back place by place. But when Fenton caught him up Jakob Schafer turned with a brief grin.
“I wonder what all the excitement is about? It struck me, anyway, that we might as well see it through together,” he said, in a joking way which would neither i arouse suspicion nor give offense to anyone who might be listening.
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Fenton made no reply. That he was something more than uneasy is not surprising. Any sudden break in the normal routine is bound to be alarming to the secret agent, although it is frequently from the abnormalities in life that he profits most. At the same time the first thought of men and women engaged on espionage is to wonder how far their own activities have produced unusual happenings, and what effect they may have upon their own uncertain fortunes. In this instance Lawrie Fenton had good reasons for his anxiety.
The stream of employees moved slowly on. More people joined the procession as it passed through each department. Sometimes the pressure of human bodies became considerable, sometimes the pack eased suddenly and people who had been conversing would find themselves precipitately separated. Throughout the slow parade, however, Jakob Schafer, having joined Fenton, would not allow anyone to force them apart.
Was such comradely clinging together inspired by friendliness or caution, Lawrie wondered. Why had this sudden parade of the whole staff of the Krobel Engineering Works been ordered? Why were the machine-minders who remained on duty being guarded? Why were Nazi police and Storm Troopers searching the offices and shops?
Idle speculations, perhaps, but were the present happenings the logical outcome of odd scraps of evidence obtained by the Gestapo and reasoned out and pieced together by Von Ame and his officers? Was the search being made to find more evidence, and was a parade to be held in the hope of identifying a certain British agent?
Was Greta really dead, he wondered. How much had she actually revealed under torture? Was there any truth at all in the tale told overnight by Jakob Schafer, or had he related it in the hope of trapping Emil Dollinger into an admission that he knew the British agent and would possibly betray him?
His mind worked round to the start of his chain of thought. Why the devil was the fellow sticking to him in the evershifting crowd with such limpet-like tenacity? Surely, if they were going to do that job together that night in Erhardt’s quarters, the less they were seen together beforehand the better it would be if one should have the misfortune of being captured or killed.
The long column of people split up in some disorder as it passed through the main doors of the works. Lawrie drew a deep breath and instinctively spread his shoulders as he emerged into the open air. The move toward the stadium continued, but all semblance of an orderly progress had disappeared.
Schafer took advantage of the general confusion to draw his companion into the shadow of a foreman’s hut which was well sheltered and more than half concealed by a slag heap.
“Something tremendously important is taking place,” he whispered, holding Fenton’s arm and talking very rapidly. “My comrade of the Freedom League, who is on the other shift, toid me that Erhardt has been working frantically all night. He thinks the Nazis are expecting an air raid, and that has something to do with Erhardt’s sudden activity.”
Someone went into the foreman’s hut behind which they were sheltering, and Schafer, looking apprehensively over his shoulder, stopped speaking. After a moment, however, the door banged and whoever had entered the hut went away.
“Had your friend anything else to tell you?” asked Fenton.
“He had indeed,” came the answer. “By a stroke of extraordinary good fortune he was sent into Erhardt’s quarters to do some special, and, he says, very unusual sort of wiring. That gave him the opportunity of seeing what was going on. Workmen, it seems, were fitting an enormous
sheet of peculiarly tinted plate glass into the roof of Erhardt’s laboratory. Heinz says, also, that some fairly large piece of apparatus, exceedingly heavily wired, had been erected directly under the glass.”
“What sort of apparatus?” Fenton broke in eagerly.
“I have not the faintest notion.”
“But you say it was heavily wired; surely your friend, as an electrician—”
“Unfortunately,” interrupted Schafer, “the whole apparatus was completely enveloped in a canvas cover, and, moreover, there were four of the Gestapo on duty. The only thing they could not hide was the wiring. But come, we may be missed if we stay here any longer. They may take a roll call.”
'VTOTIIING but fortuitous circumstance saved Lawrie and his new friend Jakob Schafer from the trouble that overtakes those who do not carry out orders promptly in Nazi Germany. They had run an obvious risk for the sake of that brief consultation behind the foreman’s hut. But what should have been an orderly procession of employees had become a confused rabble. Managers and foremen were still roaring instructions and trying vainly to bring order out of chaos when the two late comers joined the mob.
Jakob whispered a warning to Lawrie to join him behind the foreman’s hut again as soon as; possible. Then each went off in search of his own particular department. Presently Lawrie found himself in the front rank of cleaners and laborers who were drawn up on the left of the long line of employees. For more than an hour they waited in the open, while the cold rain soaked steadily through their clothing. Then a messenger arrived, and they were allowed to seek shelter in the stands and dressing rooms. But before being dismissed they were warned to be ready to reassemble at a moment’s notice on the little flags which had now been placed to denote departmental positions, because the Krobel Engineering Works were to be honored by an inspection by the Fuehrer in person.
The announcement was greeted by that deep-chested and somewhat surprised “Oh!” with which German crowds like to express their emotion. There were some frantic shouts of “ Heil Hitler !” Then some one started the Horst Wessel song.
Fenton studied the faces of the singing people, taking care to sing lustily enough himself. The Nazi anthem did not move him as Deutschland Uber Alles had always done. In the waiting period which followed he moved around, as much as he dared, for the sake of listening to conversations and studying the attitudes of the various sections of the community toward the coming visit.
What the British agent saw that morning did much to confirm the views he had formed through the medium of earlier observations.
Meanwhile troops were marshalling for the usual goose-stepping parade, without which the simplest of German festivities seems incomplete. On the far side of the building a fleet of motor omnibuses was now parked, but no one knew what purpose they were to serve.
Another half-hour went by before the familiar “AchtungV’ blared from the loudspeakers, and the workpeople hurried to their stations. The troops stood to their arms, while the directors and managers of the Krobel Works waited nervously at the stadium entrance.
The cheering when Hitler entered was tremendous and obviously sincere—so far as the young people were concerned. Fenton acknowledged that, but he could not help wondering what quality there was to command such hero worship of the man in the untidy raincoat, the sloppy, badly polished knee boots, and the baggy breeches. The ridiculous moustache made his undistinguished features even less attractive. The man had no dignity, but he had power.
Fenton heard a woman cleaner scream-
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ing behind him, and looked round to see that she was almost choking herself with hysterical emotion, while large tears rolled down her cheeks. Lawrie, with all the rest, had raised his right hand in the Nazi salute. Now he was cursing inwardly as the cold rain ran right down his sleeve to his armpit.
He was to have a closer view of the Fuehrer shortly, for Hitler made a practice of speaking to at least one person in each departmental group, and the man who was thus honored among the cleaners was next but one, in the ranks, to the Englishman. Without turning his head Lawrie was able to make a detailed study from the comer of his eye.
The features of the Fuehrer were even coarser than he had imagined. There was greyish tinge to the fiesh, and though the man smiled as he talked in a curious hoarse whisper, he had the worn look of one who lacked sleep and was bowed down by worry.
It was, however, Hitler’s eyes that fascinated Fenton, for they were haunted eyes of a man in torment. But when he was speaking his whole expression was one of smug self-satisfaction.
With the cleaners and )dd-job men the Fuehrer finished his inspection of the personnel of the Krobel Works, and, accompanied by his frowning, haughty, and bemedalled staff, he made his way to a rostrum that had been set up in the centre of the arena.
For perhaps ten minutes he ranted and raved into the microphone. Germany, he declared, had not yet revealed her might, but she held the mastery of the air. When Germany should choose to strike, London would be laid in ruins, and, because Germany’s scientists were as great as Germany’s soldiers, the enemy would never be able to strike back. Berlin would never be bombed !
The Fuehrer ceased his oration and, with the thousands who had listened to him, raised his eyes to where a lone plane circled high overhead. The machine came lower and the pilot cut out his engine.
“Ah!” screamed Hitler, gesticulating wildly and pointing upward. “Thus shall all the engines of our enemies fail them utterly.”
A deep-chested “Oh!” rose from the watching thousands, but the old workman on Fenton’s right chuckled. Evidently he shared the Englishman’s opinion that Adolf Hitler was the world’s master showj man and slickest opportunist. Not many men, Fenton imagined, would have had the intuitive audacity to take advantage of so slight, but fortunate, a circumstance as [ the cutting out of the airplane engine, j Unless, of course, the trick had been planned beforehand.
"DUT HITLER was speaking again. This ■L* time his theme was the magnificent contribution to the war effort already made by the Krobel Engineering Works,. For which reason the staff and operatives would be granted a holiday and taken forthwith in the waiting omnibuses to a Party gathering and concert in Deutschland Hall.
The Fuehrer, accompanied by the obseauious Herr Direktor Krobel and followed by their respective staffs, disappeared into the main office block. Almost at once there arose from the stadium a babel of requests by the rainsodden employees for permission to get their outdoor clothing from the dressing rooms where they had been deposited before going on duty. But all such requests were curtly refused.
Since the airplane incident Fenton had been secretly grinning at the gullibility of the German working class. He now sat up, mentally, with the very deuce of a jerk. Perhaps the cutting out of that engine wasn’t such a whale of a joke after all. Perhaps the pilot had inadvertently arrived over the stadium a bit too early. Perhaps Hitler’s inspection of the works, his praise of the workpeople, and the
unusual granting of a holiday with free transport was not merely a wise gesture to encourage them to work harder. Perhaps . . .
At this point in his thoughts Fenton stepped between two trucks standing in the works siding. It was his intention to steal behind the line of wagons and back to his rendezvous with Jakob Schafer as soon as the coast was clear.
By the mercy of heaven he heard the clang of a coupling and appeared to have a good excuse for going behind the truck when a pale-faced individual, chewing gum rhythmically, approached him.
“On ya way, buddy! There’s no slipping back for a coat or dodgin’ the Party for you.’’
Then, seeing Fenton’s uncomprehending stare, the man vouchsafed the information that he had been a G-man in the United States before returning to his native Germany to join the Gestapo. He would have enforced his order with a brutal kick, but Lawrie caught the ankle of the rising leg with his left hand and used his right to deliver a terrific uppercut, which had behind it one hundred and seventy-five pounds of angry nervous energy.
Something snapped and Fenton let the man fall by releasing his ankle. He suspected what had happened, and when he raised the body by its shoulders he was not surprised to see the head roll from side to side in the oddest manner.
Well, he thought, as dead men don’t tell tales, they can’t ask questions, so I don’t have to offer explanations—I hope!
He found Schafer waiting for him in the shelter of the foreman’s shed, but he said nothing of what had just taken place at the siding. He had known such extraordinary things to happen in the world of espionage, and had been betrayed so inexplicably upon previous occasions, that he did not trust Schafer fully even yet.
For his part Jakob was literally trembling with anxiety. “Why have you been such an infernally long time?” he demanded. “Who can tell what is going on — what secret experiments are being made-— while you have been wasting time?”
“You are right, Jakob. We ought to be finding out. Let us hasten,” replied Lawrie penitently, and prepared to leave their shelter.
“Ach. mein lieber Go//!” swore Schafer. “Do you think all we have to do is to run and crash in through the main entrance?”
“Well, shall I try a window, or the skylight to Erhardt’s laboratory?”
“Pah! Sometimes, Emil, I think you are a complete fool. You stay out of this. Meet me at Altmann’s this evening.”
“You will tell me what you find out?”
Fenton grinned as Schafer slipped away, to re-enter the works by some secret way of his own. In espionage it is always best to let the other fellow take the greater risk. If Jakob found out anything it would be to the interest of the Freedom League for him to pass on the information. Meanwhile Lawrie had an idea that the airplane that had flown over the stadium when Hitler was speaking would return. He thought, too, that this time it might be a British machine. He was getting a glimmering notion of the nature of the so-called
secret weapon, and had a shrewd idea that Hitler had come to the Krobel Engineering Works that day to see it tried out. There was one other point. A British bomber had recently made a forced landing and been captured before its crew could set it on fire.
From behind the foreman’s hut Fenton could just see the roof of the main workshop, and noticed that it was now occupied by quite a number of people. Then came the wail of the air-raid warning, and although every one else would be scuttling for shelter, Fenton observed that the roof party did not quit their point of vantage. Nor was there any sound of anti-aircraft fire.
The first plane to appear was not like the one seen earlier that morning, but bore a strong resemblance to a Bristol Blenheim. The three that followed, apparently in pursuit, were Messerschmidts. They were flying at a much greater altitude than the first machine. Then came the noise of machine-gun fire, but the bomber, as if seeking the exact point on which to dump his deadly load, continued circling over the Krobel Works. It seemed extraordinary that none of the fighters dived to attack him.
And still the watchers on the roof did not quit their post of observation. The bomber came lower, and as it passed again over the works the roar of the engine ceased. The plane lurched drunkenly and one of the crew leaped out.
“Observer’s got the wind up, or come down to report,” muttered Fenton. The Messerschmidts, he noticed were still flying at a tremendous height, but they made no attempt to get directly above the bomber. The rattle of machine-gun fire could still be heard frequently.
“Nice work,” chuckled Lawrie, “the well-disciplined Bosche doesn’t look, but can’t help hearing ! The people on the roof know there’s no danger. I wonder what story little Goebbels will have for the papers this evening?”
The circling bomber flew lower and yet lower, until it was no more than five hundred feet above the ground. And now the British markings on the fuselage and wings were clearly visible.
Once again the persistent pilot flew his machine over that part of the works in which Hans Erhardt’s laboratory was located. This time, when it was less than five hundred feet up. a part of the fuselage glowed suddenly with incandescent radiance, and then the machine burst into flames. The wretched pilot jumped for his life, his clothing already on fire, but there was not time for his parachute to open. The blazing machine swooped down toward the observation roof. Everyone immediately fell flat, except one unfortunate fellow who was swept over the parapet by the undercarriage before he could get out of harm’s way.
The bomber buried its nose in the turf of the stadium arena, and there burned itself out. The Messerschmidts came down in a power dive with machine guns blazing furiously.
“Very, very pretty,” murmured Fenton, and smiled again. He managed to get one look at the pilot, who had landed clear of the wreckage.
To be Continued