Spy Against the Reich
A sullen mounting glow over the heart of Berlin's industrial section tells of a dangerous mission ended and a job well done
NO ONE in the electrical department at Krobel’s Works looked up as Emil Dollinger pushed his handcart through the shop, pausing here and there to collect waste material. An observer might have judged Jakob Schafer to be extravagantly careless from the time the odd-job man took in leaning over and probing under his workbench. But it would have required an especially sharp pair of eyes to detect the passing of a scrap of paper by Fenton to his friend. Picking up a magnifying glass and taking a delicate instrument into the palm of the hand which held the message, .Schafer contrived to read the minute writing. He turned angrily upon the odd-job man and cursed him for having, as he said, disturbed some apparatus. Presently the midday bell was rung and tools were laid aside. Except for machine-minders, Krobel’s work people would be free for the next hour. Schafer sauntered off by himself in the direction of the stadium, and found Fenton waiting for him behind the foreman’s hut which had been their rendezvous upon the day that Erhardt’s ray was tested. No time was wasted in idle conversation, and Schafer remained silent while the other told his story. But presently, when Fenton paused, Jakob interposed a question.
“But was it not very dangerous for you to go anywhere near the Meurice again that night, Emil?”
“It was very fortunate,” asserted Fenton. “As I told you, the policeman into whom I bumped when I left the hotel by the staff entrance was so much a giant that one was not likely to forget him. As I was coming away from Von Voss’ flat I caught a glimpse of just such another monster, who loomed up for a moment in the blackout. I could not be sure that it was the same man, but it looked as though the fellow had followed me from the Meurice. So I flattened myself against a wall while he went by and entered the door out of which I had just come.
“Then I went back to the Meurice, but Von Arne’s car was gone. I knew that he could not have driven it away, unless Althea Remington, by releasing him, had double-crossed me. I did not regard that explanation as probable. There was the possibility that the car had been removed by the police, or stolen. While I was pondering the problem a great figure again appeared, and, judging by the things the man muttered, he was pretty angry with himself for being lured away from the unattended automobile.
“It was evident that we were both in a quandary. The huge policeman wanted to know what had become of the Lancia. I was anxious for information about Fräulein
Remington and Von Arne. There was nothing to be done about it, however, so presently I pushed oil, giving the huge policeman plenty of start.
“Soon after breakfast time I rang up the Meurice, gave the name of an American journalist, and, talking German through my nose, asked for an appointment with Fräulein Remington. I was told that she had gone to bed early on the previous evening, and had given instructions that on no account was she to be disturbed until midday.”
“So! She was then still in her suite? And Von Arne, what of him? Had he gone too?” asked Schafer.
“Not on your life, Jakob,” laughed Fenton. “Our Julius, as I judged things, was still safely trussed up in the box-ottoman, but Althea had given him the air.”
“Ha! But how had she got away?”
“I’d have laid a hundred reichsmarks it was she who took the Lancia, and I should have won my bet. That girl’s raced at Brooklands, in England, and I’ve seen her driving Von Arne’s car in Berlin. Don’t you think she’d spot the chance and take it if she had left by the staff entrance and saw the car standing there?”
“Yes. I think so. But have you any proof?”
“Go easy a moment, Jakob! After I’d been given the gist of Althea’s orders about not being disturbed I thought I’d take a look at things on the spot, so I changed my appearance, and down I went to the Meurice, where I ordered a drink in the great hall as calm as you please. Pretty soon after my arrival things woke up, and the news leaked out that Fräulein Remington was missing. Her bed had not been slept in, but Von Arne had been found in the room tied up and in pretty bad shape. You can’t keep a first-class sensation of that sort hushed up in a big hotel, you know, Jakob. Besides, the place was alive with constables and agents from the Police Chief downwards. There was also Von Arne’s chauffeur moping around like a wet hen because his master’s beloved Lancia had vanished into thin air. But the big thrill came with the arrival of the largest outsize in policemen you’ve ever set eyes on!” “Your friend of the night before, you think?” Schafer interrupted eagerly.
“Worse, or better, than that, Jakob, according to the way you look at things.”
“You mean you actually knew him?”
FENTON’S face went grim as he dropped his hand on Schafer’s knee.
“Do you remember,” he said sombrely, “my telling you about the big fellow who handled poor Greta so brutally when she was arrested? Well, it was the same ruffian !”
“But is that important?”
“Important? Just study the chain of circumstantial evidence for yourself. In the first place, he was the man I started to go for outside Erhardt’s house when Greta beat me off. Secondly, it’s likely, on that occasion, that he saw Althea Remington waiting in Von Arne’s car. Thirdly, it was he who flashed his torch into the selfsame workman’s face when he was standing guard over Von Arne’s car and I was making my getaway. And, finally, it was he who followed me in the blackout. Now he was going up to see Von Arne, and it struck me that if his powers of observation and description were anything like as great as his stature it wouldn’t take Von Arne long to define the connection between the missing radio mechanic and the odd-job man at Krobel’s. Remember, he had manhandled me for startling Fräulein Remington.”
“That means you are in deadly peril every moment you stay here, Emil.”
“I’m well aware of that, but I had to see you, and there.was no other way of getting in touch.”
“But surely if you are satisfied that Fräulein Remington has got safely away with the information—”
“Ah, if oniy I was ! But it’s a devil of a way from Berlin to London, Jakob, and hardly less difficult to get out of Germany. Every road and railway will be watched by this time.” “Then what are we to do?”
“That’s what we’ve got to settle, and quickly, for the sooner I’m out of here the better. I can lie low for the rest of the day and meet you tonight. I’m afraid it’ll mean coming back here.”
“Here? In Heaven’s name why come here? We can meet at my house.”
“All right, I’ll come there first. Say ten o’clock?”
Schafer seemed relieved, but his satisfaction was to be short-lived.
“After we’ve made our plans we’ll have to come back here just the same.” said Fenton stubbornly. “We can’t just bank on the chance
of Althea Remington getting through. We’ve got to know where we stand with Erhardt. We’ve got to find out how far he’s got with the perfecting of his invention. And I think we’ve got to give him a last chance to cut the Gordian knot that now ties him to the Nazis. He’s got to come in with us, even if that means risking his life in letting us try to get him out of Germany.”
“And if he won’t fall in with our plans?” queried Schafer, who had a way of facing up to all eventualities.
“Then he refuses the sporting chance and dies for certain. It’ll be the finish of Krobel’s too. The place is stuffed with munitions, and there’ll be a conflagration that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.”
“It seems to me that we also shall be taking the thousandth chance.” said Schafer quietly. His voice did not shake, but there was a strange light in his eyes. “Meanwhile,” he added, “I will find out what I can. It will be for Freedom, won't it, Emil?”
“For Freedom!” echoed Fenton, and gripped his friend by the hand.
When the works bell rang to signify that the hour for lunch was ended Jakob Schafer went back briskly to the electrical laboratories. His step was jaunty, and he hummed a little tune, for his spirit was at ease and his conscience clear. To him it seemed that the waiting days were done and the time for action close at hand.
He did not stay long in the laboratories, but went presently to that part of the works in which Hans Erhardt had his quarters.
As Schafer approached as destination he was surprised by the complete quiet that reigned. Normally the noise of active machinery was deafening. Now the workshops adjoining Erhardt’s forbidden quarters had been temporarily closed pending the arrival of new plant.
Lost in thought, Jakob Schafer walked through the silent workshops, until he was halted by a sharp challenge from the sentry in front of the door marked Verboten.
He was, however, quite ready with a satisfactory explanation for his presence in that part of the works. The sentry seemed eager for company, and Schafer thought it wise to humor him. But suddenly their conversation ceased. Someone inside Hans Erhardt’s quarters was
literally shouting Deutschland Uber Alles in a most unmusical voice.
SCHAFER and the sentry looked at each other in amazement. Then the door was flung open. Hans Erhardt. who stood swaying on the threshold, was obviously very drunk. At the sight of them lie stopped singing and started shouting “Eureka!” at the top of his voice.
Schafer winked at the sentry and whispered that tact was needed. Between them and without much trouble they persuaded the half mad and wholly drunk inventor back into his own apartment, where, it was evident, he had been having quite a celebration all by himself.
After blinking owlishly at Schafer for some moments Erhardt requested that the “common policeman” might be sent away.
When they were alone he grinned mischievously at his companion.
“ I know you,” he mumbled. “Able trust friend, eh? Well—I’ve done it! Did it s’morning. Tell old Adolf pleasantly—I mean presently—’cos there’s nothing pleasant ’bout that damn’ swine. Swine.” he repeated, laughing foolishly. “ ’S’matter o’ fact I got th’ ray to work all right ’s’morning, but. I’ve kept him waiting while I had a little drink to celeblate—sorry—cerebate—er— stalablate—blast ! You have a drink?”
“Thanks,” said Schafer, “just one, then I’ll fetch him for you. Why don’t you receive him in bed? Show him what you think of him.”
“So I will. Gimme hand !”
While Schafer, having taken off Erhardt’s boots, was covering him with an eiderdown the sentry popped his head round the door, but was reassured by a nod. A moment later Schafer joined him.
“He’ll be all right now. Better let him sleep it off,” he laughed. “The poor devil hasn’t had too good a time since he was forced to live here all alone, and we don’t want him to get into more trouble. No one is likely to come near him at the moment, but you’d better stay at your post. Anyway, I’ve got to get on with that wiring I told you about.”
The sentry departed perfectly satisfied. Schafer, who was an expert electrician, commenced a series of operations which would have bewildered a nontechnical layman. They involved the wiring of the hand knobs on both sides of the door to Erhardt’s quarters, and the saturating with water of the coir mats, also on both sides of the door.
There was not the least evidence of any danger, but Schafer had laid a death trap for any person attempting to enter or to leave Hans Erhardt’s quarters. This was his method of making certain that, short of cutting off the main current, Erhardt could not communicate the fact that he had perfected the secret weapon until he had been seen by Schafer and his friend Emil Dollinger, who would come to his quarters that night safely equipped with rubber gloves.
Jakob went home that evening well-content with the precautions he had taken, for he was convinced that his plan for enabling Fenton to be the first person to interview Erhardt since the perfection of the ray was absolutely foolproof.
Somewhat to his surprise, he found his usually submissive and depressingly silent wife positively vivacious. So considerate and entertaining, in fact, was Marthe Schafer that she actually succeeded in persuading her husband to forego his evening visit to a nearby Bierhalle where he usually met his friends. Still more surprising was her request that he should stay at home so that they might listen to the forbidden broadcast from England.
Jakob was delighted, for at times he had entertained a glimmering suspicion that Marthe did not entirely share his political beliefs. She knew nothing of his connection with the Freedom League, nor the full extent of his activities, but it would be far more comfortable to have her openly with him than tj'V, even submissively hostile. In the past she v liad protested timorously against the tuning in
of the wireless to forbidden stations. Now, thought Jakob, Marthe had overcome her fears, and she was willing to share the risk he took for the sake of getting some real news from abroad.
Comfortable in old slippers, and contentedly smoking his pifie with the deep, hand-painted china bowl, Jakob switched on the radio, tuned in to England, and sat down by the fire with his back to the door, toward which Marthe ’s face was turned.
The news was interesting, and to a newsstarved German startling in its revelation of the true situation and exposure of Goebbels’
lies. Jakob became absorbed, but, presently looking up to ascertain the effect on Marthe, he surprised upon her normally matter-of-fact features an expression of malevolent triumph.
With a hoarse “ Heil Hiller!” the woman half rose from her chair. In the same instant Schafer realized that there were other people in the room, and that his own wife had betrayed him. His hand flew to his pocket in which he always carried a pistol. He would shoot Marthe, lest she should know more than he had realized, and so be in a position to betray his friends. Above all, he would endeavor to shoot his way out of the house, in the hope of preventing Emil Dollinger from walking into the trap.
Members of the Gestapo, however, are well accustomed to dealing with sudden emergencies, and before Jakob Schafer’s fingers could close on the butt of his pistol a rubber truncheon crashed across the base of his skull and he slumped out of his chair with a broken neck.
Again the woman cried. “Heil Hitler!” But she had lived with Jakob a long time, and, although she had betrayed him for the sake of the Party, the sight of his dead body bereft her of reason. After one of their number had switched off the wireless the Gestapo dragged her screaming from the house to the black Mercedes which waited in the quiet street with its engine still running.
They did not trouble to lock the front door. It was a matter of indifference to them who found the dead man.
DENTON heard a woman screaming as a big car passed him in a street not far from the house for which he was making. Such happenings, however, were all common in Berlin, and there was no reason why he should be unduly interested in this particular exhibition of Nazi brutality.
A quarter of an hour later he tapped on the door of Jakob Schafer’s dwelling. Repeated knockings brought no response, and Fenton grew apprehensive. The meeting had been arranged definitely for ten o’clock, and he knew the meticulous punctuality with which Schafer was wont to keep his appointments. He decided to try the door, and so discovered that the night latch was fastened back. He entered the dark hall and saw', with a feeling of grow’ing uneasiness, a thin line of light showing beneath the door of the sitting room. The house was eerily silent. Twúce he tapped softly, but again there was no response. He opened that door also and looked into the room.
At first he thought the room w'as empty, then he entered and saw a body stretched across the hearthrug in a grotesque attitude. Jakob Schafer’s head w'as horribly aw'ry, and beside it lay his favorite old pipe, with the hand-painted china bowl in fragments.
The body w'as still warm, and Fenton was sufficiehtly w’ell-versed in the ways of the German police to recognize that his friend’s neck had been broken by a blow from a rubber truncheon. It scarcely occurred to him to wonder w'hat had become of Frau Schafer, for he knew that a domiciliary visit by the police usually involved all members of any household that w'as unfortunate enough to come under suspicion. He was far more concerned with the speculation as to why Schafer should have met his end. That his own appointment with the dead man had not been revealed w'as obvious, otherwise the people who had killed Schafer w'ould have been waiting to receive his friend. Fenton w'as not slow to realize that it behœved him to get away from the place as quickly as possible.
None the less he stood looking down at the dead body for some moments. During the time of their association he had growm fond of Jakob. His early mistrust of the man’s motives had gradually disappeared, and he felt certain that in no circumstances would Schafer have betrayed him.
His thoughts turned to Frau Schafer, and he began to wonder what had become of her. He did not know to what extent Marthe had enjoyed her husband’s confidence, nor much about their domestic affairs. She might be visiting friends despite the blackout, in which case it would not do for her to find him in the house when she returned for her manner toward Fenton had always seemed vaguely hostile. On the other hand, she might have been removed by the men who had finished off her husband.
That possibility awakened alarming speculation. If Marthe was her husband’s confidante she might be made to talk, as even Greta Mayer, for all her great courage, had been made to betray her friends by the horror of Nazi “persuasion.” If. in that case, Jakob had talked to his wife of the proposed final interview with Erhardt. the Gestapo might have men waiting at the Krobel Works in the hope of taking Fenton red-handed. But would they in that event have left the dead body there to act asa warning?
Fenton did not think so. He dropped to one knee, and without unduly disturbing the position of the body searched Schafer’s clothing. In a trouser pocket he discovered the key to Erhardt’s quarters. It would be better if no one found that.
Half an hour later he was sheltering in an angle of the high walls which surrounded the Krobel Engineering Works. He listened intently, until a faint crunch of
Passing footsteps reached his ears. Then he consulted the luminous dial of his wrist watch. During the time of his employment as an odd-job man at Krobel’s he had made himself completely familiar with the routine and habits of all guards and night watchmen.
He waited another ten minutes for the footsteps to return and pass. The top of the wall presented difficulties, for it was fringed with broken glass set in cement. But Fenton was an old hand at surmounting obstacles, and he managed to get his coat onto the top of the wall to form a pad. Unfortunately he was forced to leave the garment still covering the glass when he dropped into the deserted yard,
Another glance at his watch and a rapid calculation satisfied him that he could reach the Verboten door of Erhardt’s quarters without detection, provided the night watchman stuck to his normal routine. He could not, however, avoid passing through busy workshops, and there would still be the guard to circumvent.
As he passed the main block of the works, where the plant was never at rest by day or by night, he marvelled once again at the ample evidence of German thoroughness. Not one chink of light showed from the blacked-out windows, doors opening and shutting allowed not one beam to escape, and even the dull red glow from the great chimneys was masked.
Beyond the main buildings he sensed something unusual, just as Jakob Schafer had done earlier in the same four-
and twenty hours. He paused to listen, peering suspiciously into the surrounding darkness. The night seemed strangely quiet, and presently he realized the cause. All the workshops surrounding Erhardt’s quarters were silent.
For a moment he was puzzled. Why in the name of fortune should work have ceased in those particular shops?
DENTON made his way to the famous ash chute, through
which Jakob had re-entered the works upon the day that Erhardt’s ray had brought down the bomber. The greatest care would now be needed. He would have to raise the heavy leather apron masking the hole in the brickwork through which the chute emerged from the building. If he was slow in letting the apron fall accurately back into place there was every chance that someone would detect the tell-tale shaft of light and quickly seek an explanation of its presence.
He wormed his way up the filthy trough fiat on his stomach, and the dust stirred up by his cautious progress made his eyes smart, got down his throat, and tickled his nose abominably. A hand stretched out presently made contact with the clammy surface of wet leather. Fenton fingered the edge tentatively, wondering whether it would be better to fling up the curtain and dive through the hole in one quick action or edge himself through the aperture inch by inch.
As he pondered the problem he raised the apron sufficiently for the light from within to allow him to take in the lay of the land. But there was no light, and Fenton suddenly realized that those particular workshops, besides being silent, were in complete darkness. He entered without more ado, and, not daring to use a torch in the peculiar circumstances, made his way very slowly in the direction of Erhardt’s quarters.
It took him the best part of an hour to traverse three of the silent bays, before a slight smell of smoke and the dull glow of a cigarette warned him that he had not the place entirely to himself. He had wasted no single minute of a walk which in the light would have occupied no more than five or ten minutes. But again and again hi? outstretched hands had encountered some mass of stil machinery, round which it had been necessary to feel his way with infinite caution. Or he would be halted when one of his slowly advancing feet touched some object on the floor over which he must have fallen had he been moving faster.
The sight of that tiny glowing light warned Fenton that he was probably approaching the sentry in front of Erhardt’s door, and all at once he realized that he was sweating from the prolonged effort to concentrate upon silent movement. His limbs too were trembling a little.
He glanced at his watch and cursed softly. The sentry’s relief was almost due. That meant that Fenton must remain in hiding, and would now have to deal with a man fresh from rest, instead of one grown weary with watching. For five minutes he waited, shifting his weight from foot to foot. The sentry had put out his cigarette, and the smell of tobacco smoke was no longer discernible. A door banged, the light of a torch came bobbing across the workshop, and two men passed close by Fenton. They would be the corporal of the guard and the relieving sentry.
Fenton was close enough to the small group to overhear their conversation, and he was soon holding his breath lest any word should escape him, for the sentry going off duty was telling his comrades with great amusement of the time he and an electrician had had that afternoon with the exceedingly drunk prisoner, who seemed to be under the impression that he had made some worldshaking discovery. Fenton felt as if his heart had been standing still, until the storyteller stated that he had left Erhardt to sleep off the effects of his carouse and no one else had been near to disturb him.
Thus far they had talked by the light of the torch, but now the new sentry switched it off with the remark that batteries were too hard to come by for anyone to waste light. Then a difficulty arose, since it appeared that neither the corporal nor the soldier who was going off duty possessed a torch. The other would not lend them his. but a compromise was reached by his agreeing to light them through the dark workshops which were temporarily inoixrative.
The party moved off, and Fenton smiled in the darkness. Fate, he thought, was making smooth the path to the fulfillment of his purpose. He could not hope for a better opportunity of entering Erhardt’s quarters unobserved by the sentry. None the less, caution so far having been the watchword, he would not risk making a mistake through undue haste. He had seen too many first-class enterprises ruined through just that error.
The sentry would be gone for ten, perhaps fifteen, minutes, but five minutes would be sufficient for Fenton to assess how the argument to be used with Erhardt must be reconsidered in view of this information—if it was true —that he had brought his invention to perfection at last.
It might not have been a difficult task, thought Fenton, to persuade Erhardt to chuck in his hand and make a Continued on page 31
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break for freedom even twenty-four hours earlier. Then he had been a Nazi prisoner robbed of his liberty through broken faith, and no doubt feeling more bitter than ever against his persecutors. Then, too, he would have been in that horrible state of baffled exasperation which is the bane of every highly strung inventor who realizes that the ultimate attainment of his object lies only just beyond his reach.
Now matters were entirely different, and the situation—save for one last solution, which Fenton would be loth to adopt—would be far more difficult to handle.
He got up from the piece of machinery upon which he had been sitting and, key in hand, approached the door which was marked Verboten. Instinctively he thought of Jakob Schafer, who had lost his life in their joint cause, and for an instant he experienced a sudden sensation of fear as hÉ hand stole toward the electrified door knob.
AND THEN, with death not a dozen L inches from his fingers, there came a crash which sent him whirling round, with a pistol clutched in his hand. He knew instinctively that the sentry could not yet have returned if he had accompanied his comrades to the next block of lighted workshops. It was imperative, therefore, that Fenton should find out who was in his vicinity. For a moment he waited, listening intently. Then, holding the torch wide of his body, he switched on the light and swept the beam slowly round. About a dozen yards away a cat was sniffing a large tin which it had knocked off the top of a lathe.
Fenton smiled grimly as he turned again to the door marked Verboten. He retraced the few steps he had taken, and once more switched on the torch in order to find the keyhole. His left hand went toward the knob, to touch which meant instant death when he set his foot upon the saturated coir mat. Once again there came an interruption, this time of a serious nature, for the sentry had re-entered the workshop, and as he saw the light by the door he shouted a stentorian challenge.
Instantly Fenton switched off the light and threw himself flat. But the fat was now in the fire. That sentry was taking no chances. He was armed with a couple of automatic pistols, and he rained a perfect fusillade of bullets into the door of Erhardt’s quarters.
It could be only a matter of minutes before the sound of firing would bring others to the assistance of the sentry. Fenton’s last chance of success would be to enter Erhardt’s quarters, kill the inventor, and destroy whatever apparatus and plans there might be in existence. That his own extermination would be the price of success appeared to be inevitable. The alternative would be an attempt to sneak off in the darkness by the way he had come. It was not an alternative to be entertained for an instant, for that would leave the Nazis entirely triumphant.
Fenton fired vengefully back at the flashes of the sentry’s pistol. He would have made a dash for the door, in the hope that it would hold long enough after his entry to allow him time to finish his job. But bullets were still thudding into the heavy woodwork, and to stand in front of that door for even so long as it would take to put the key in the lock would have meant instant death.
Then the sentry ceased firing, but whether he had run out of ammunition or had been killed by one of Fenton’s bullets there was no means of telling.
Fenton waited, crouched on one knee, and slipped a fresh clip of cartridges into his weapon. He was thinking longingly of a bomb store that opened out of the workshop behind his opponent. With a box of
hand grenades beside him Fenton knew that he could have made a grand fighting finish.
When the firing was not renewed he turned yet once more to the door, but again he was destined not to touch the fatal handle. For Erhardt, awakened from his drunken sleep by the terrific noise, had stumbled along the passage of his quarters and seized the door knob.
The shock he received was so tremendous that his death was instantaneous. But in the muscular reaction to the current his dead hand turned the knob, the door swung open, and his body was flung out.
At the same time shouts echoed through the dark workshops and there was the flash of approaching torches. Fenton’s quick brain grasped the situation in an instant, and perhaps he realized, too, the part that Jakob Schafer had played in this amazing affair.
Anyone but Fenton might well have panicked and been caught in such a situation, but his cool brain and chilled steel nerves were at their best when he was most completely cornered.
That nothing further had been heard from the sentry seemed to indicate that one of Fenton’s bullets had put paid to the fellow’s account, and in that circumstance Fenton seemed to see just the slimmest chance of escape. He moved with the silence of a shadow, and by the time the first of the men attracted by the sound of firing entered the workshop he was working his way toward the point from which he had been fired upon.
Feet were clattering, people shouting, and torches dancing when Fenton found his quarry by the sounds of stertorous breathing and low groans. The sentry was very hard hit, and in no state to resist when Fenton, having stripped him of cap. tunic, belt, and trousers, rolled him unceremoniously under the edge of a tarpaulin which covered a big machine.
Fenton’s next move was to retire to the munitions store adjoining the workshops. Here he changed into the sentry uniform and equipped himself with a haversack, in which he stored an assortment of hand grenades and tear gas and small incendiary bombs. Then he went back into the workshop, for he had not forgotten that even if Erhardt were killed his own task would not be finished until he had finally destroyed the invention.
To achieve that object wholesale measures of destruction would be needed, because there would be no chance of making a detailed search. Nor was it likely that the Nazis would get past the dead man at the moment, since one fellow who had sought to free the clinging fingers from the electrified knob had already shared Erhardt’s fate.
Having crept sufficiently close, Fenton flung his first two incendiary bombs through the open door of Erhardt’s quarters. He saw the bursts, and then tossed a couple of hand grenades among the people who had assembled by the door. He covered his retirement toward the main building by a barrage of tear-gas bombs, and each of the darkened workshops he passed through he set on fire by exploding incendiary bombs.
He fancied that the explosion which would take place presently in the munitions store would be sufficient to start further fires and cause other detonations. These would lead to the final and irretrievable destruction of the great Krobel Engineering Works.
HAVING achieved so much, anyone but Fenton would have sought a quiet avenue of escape. But throughout the long years of his service Lawrie had learned the priceless lesson that in espionage it is the bold front that usually pays. Wherefore he hurried—but not too fast—through
the various workshops and departments to the main offices, which were close to the works’ entrance.
Those who accosted him merely to ask what was happening he brushed brusquely aside. More important people, who asked questions with an air of greater authority, were politely but briefly answered, Fenton saluting smartly and excusing himself on the grounds that he was the bearer of important messages.
No one dreamed of questioning his bona fides, for the Germans are an unimaginative people with single-track minds. Here was a man in a soldier’s uniform, who both looked and acted as a soldier should, and there was nothing in the least suspicious about him. Even his face was set in the unsmiling, stupid, expressionless stare of the average German soldier.
There was, however, laughter lurking at the back of Lawrie Fenton’s eyes as he turned smartly in through the main door of the administrative offices. The porter on duty eyed him up and down, but was told instantly that he was required immediately at the entrance gates by Herr Direktor Krobel himself.
The man departed at a shambling trot and sweating visibly at the mere thought of keeping so great a personage as the head of the firm waiting. Lawrie, grinning inwardly, turned down a passage which, for all he knew, might take him no farther than a cul de sac of staff washrooms. He had not time to enquire his way, nor would it have been safe to do so. Blind Fate had stood his friend so far, and he chuckled at the mere thought of such a thing as calculated safety at present.
In point of fact his choice of a passage proved providential, since the one he took led to the boiler houses. Beyond lay a yard containing coal and coke stores, and there was a small postern door in one of the gates which was fitted with a night latch.
By this time half a dozen fires within the works were blazing furiously, and there had been several minor explosions. The conflagration had completely destroyed the blackout over the northern suburbs of Berlin, and Lawrie, as he emerged into the Wilhelmstrasse, saw fire engines and ambulances arriving from all directions. Still moving with soldierly smartness, he was about to pass the main entrance of the works, when the note of a peculiarly shrill siren sent all traffic huddling to the curb, and a great car which had raced up the road drew into the pavement with a protesting squeal of tires.
What spirit of sheer devilment took possession of Lawrie Fenton at that moment he would have found it hard to explain. But the driver of this brand-new racing car, who seemed to be suffering from a very stiff neck, was no other than Julius von Arne. The lean, saturninelooking fellow who followed him Fenton had seen before in the lounge hall of the Meurice.
Before either of them could leave the car Fenton had sprung to the door, which he opened with his left hand while the right flew up in an ultra-smart salute. His features were again set in a completely wooden expression, he looked straight to his front, and his spine was as stiff as a ramrod, when he spoke.
“Permission to assume charge of your automobile, Excellenz!” he rasped, and Von Arne was pleased. He had no mind to risk losing a second super-charged racing car, and there had been no time to summon his chauffeur before rushing off to the fire.
“You are on duty here?” he demanded.
“ Jawohl, Excellenz !”
“You can drive?”
“Jawohl, Excellenz !”
“Good! You will move the car into the next side street on the other side of Wilhelmsrue if there is danger. What is happening here?”
“Excellenz, it is the cursed English. It is said that one of their spies has killed an inventor and set fire to the works.”
“Fenton for a million!” exclaimed Von Ame.
“Well, you said you’d give a million to set eyes on the fellow,” smiled the lean man, “so you will be able to gratify your wish if you’re right.”
“I think that was the name I heard mentioned, Excellenz,” interposed Fenton, safe in the knowledge that Von Ame and he had not before met face to face.
“Then they have caught him?”
“They had not done so, Excellenz, when I had cause to leave the scene of the initial disturbance.”
“So? Well, move the car into the side street if there is danger, or if the traffic looks like becoming congested.”
The order was acknowledged with a second smart salute, and Von Arne entered the works, accompanied by his saturnine companion. After waiting perhaps five minutes, during which period three more fire engines arrived, Fenton drove the car into the side street as ckrected, but he did not stop there, and again he had cause to bless the inspiration which had led him to don the uniform of the soldier he had shot.
By that time all approaches to the Krobel Engineering Works were closed, but no policeman deemed it necessary to stop a soldier driving the private car of so high a Party official as Von Arne.
Following unfrequented side streets, Fenton reached the parts of Berlin where the light of the blaze at Krobel’s had not affected the blackout, and so took his way to Grünewald. There he left Von
Arne’s car with the magneto leads removed.
As he looked back over the scene of his labors a sullen glow was still visible in the sky above Berlin, and intermittent flashes of multicolor indicated that chemicals and munitions of various kinds were still exploding.
TT WAS two months later when Fenton •* arrived in England. He had worked his passage down the Danube as a bargeman as far as Belgrade. Thence he had made his way to Salonika, where he had managed to pick up a cargo boat sailing for England.
Sir George Fawley welcomed him with , joy and listened to his story with almost breathless interest. Curiously enough neither of them made any reference to the woman who had tried to bring the news of the secret weapon to England. It was therefore left to Stella, who had been at the Foreign Office to welcome her husband, to broach the subject as they were driving home.
“You didn’t ask about the girl who tried to bring us news for you, Lawrie,” she said. “I suppose you know that she died without speaking?”
“No. I didn’t know that,” he answered, keeping his eyes on the road.
“Who was she, Lawrie?” Stella whispered.
“A much-misunderstood, but very gallant lady, who gave her life for her country,” he answered.