Toast to Tomorrow
Wherein a British Agent elopes to escape the Gestapo and an unsuspecting traveller smuggles a vital secret out of Germany
“T-L-T . . . T-L-T . . . T-L-T ...” The call letters of a wireless message flashed from Berlin to London in March, 1933, create a furore in the British Foreign Office where they are recognized as those of a British Secret Agent named Reck, active in Germany in the last war but long believed dead. Mystery increases as a British spy, captured by the Gestapo, is allowed to escape into Belgium.
British authorities are unaware of the strange story of a man evidently German, who was found unconscious on the beach near Ostende early in 1918. Nursed back to health, his memory is a complete blank, and taking the name of Klaus Lehmann he sets oid to find his past. “Adopted” by Fräulein Rademeyer, an elderly lady who takes pity on his plight, he secures a job in Munich. Times are hard in Germany and he becomes a follower of a fiery crowd-swayer named Adolf Hitler. He rises in the Nazi Party but on the night of the Reichstag fire his memory comes flooding back—he recalls that his real name is Tommy Hambledon, that he was a British agent in Germany during the war and that he has probably been given up for dead. Hitler takes power, names Lehmann Deputy Chief of Police: amazed at his strange good fortune Hambledon lays cunning plans to outwit the Nazis. By chance he discovers a Berlin newspaper peddler to be a former espionage associate named Beck, and despite the man’s fears forces him to code messages to be sent to London over a secret transmitter.
Charles Denton is sent to Germany by the Foreign Office to learn more about the unknown operative. Posing as Sigmund Dedler, post-card salesman, he arrives in Berlin and contacts Herr Weber, tobacconist and friend of England. Caught in the streets on the night of the Nazi Purge he takes shelter in an open doorway, watches S.S. Guards eider and shoot the householder, Herr Von Einem. Denton jumps out of a window but is knocked unconscious.
He later finds himself in a dark cellar, where he has been brought by Hambledon who reveals his real name but urges Denton not to try further to discover his German identity. When Denton tells Hambledon that his comrade-in-intrigue of the last war, Bill Saunders, has since been killed under mysterious circumstances in Britain, Ha mbledon vows vengeance. He promises Denton he will try to get him safely across the border out of Germany,
(Third of Eight Parts)
THE CELLAR was not completely dark even at night when one’s eyes became accustomed to it; by day, light came in through the pavement grating and even a shaft of sunlight, and at night there was a patch of light upon one wall from a street lamp near by. Sounds also entered by the grating, traffic noises, and voices talking. It was even possible, if people passed close enough, for Denton to get a worm’s-eye view of part of them from the feet up. He noticed how men and women alike made a little detour to avoid his grating, and this rather annoyed him. There was a church clock somewhere in the neighborhood which struck the hours; when sleep would not come he found it companionable.
He slept, or drifted into unconsciousness, for most of the first night after Hambledon had made him as comfortable as possible. The next day passed easily with the help of a basket of provisions and fruit and a feeling of lassitude so intense that he was glad to be away from everyone, somewhere where there was not even need to speak. Toward evening he began to recover a little and to wish for a break in the monotony of his imprisonment. He did not desire the dark, either, there were too many spiders in that cellar, and in his weak state he had a morbid horror of their crawling upon him.
Soon after nine o’clock, when it was still daylight, suddenly the traffic ceased and there came a stillness which reminded him of one Armistice Day when he had been in London and the Two Minutes’ Silence had caught him unawares. Denton rose on his elbows and listened.
From somewhere farther down the street there came a hoarse command, another, and then a short crackle of rifle fire. Immediately, as though a spell had been broken, followed the sound of running feet, irregularly running as if those who ran looked over their shoulders as they fled. Some passed over his grating, several men and a woman or two, one was leading a child who fell down, wailing, and was snatched up and carried on. One woman came to a stop just above him and leaned against the wall gasping for breath and sobbing, “Oh, Jakob, oh, Jakob, oh, Jakob,” over and over again. Denton fumbled for his automatic, and felt naked to the storm when he remembered it was not there.
Next came the sound of disciplined marching, coming neai’er, and the weeping woman ran away. A voice outside cried, “Here, you there ! Halt !” and a man stopped just where the woman had been. Charles Denton could see part of a grey tweed trouser leg and one brown shoe, a well-to-do man, evidently. He said, “Do you mean me?” in a quiet, steady voice.
“That’s the man,” someone said. There followed another command, again the sound of shots, four in
Denton sat up shaking, and fumbled for the cigarettes and the matches Hambledon had left him on his promise not to strike one in Hambledon’s presence, and on no account to allow a light to be seen from outside. There was no need to worry about the light now, the aperture was effectively blocked and shut out sounds as well, but Denton listened intently for a moment before striking the match.
All he could hear was a trickling noise like the sudden overflowing of a gutter during a storm. “Rain,” he thought, “that’ll calm them
rapid succession. “Automatic,” said Denton to himself. The man above crumpled, and suddenly the cellar was completely dark, for his body covered the grating. down.” Then he remembered that a moment earlier the sun had been shining . . .
He scrambled back into the corner farthest away from the window, regardless of spiders and loose lumps of coal, and with eyes open only the merest slits, enough to see his own fingers and nothing more, lit his cigarette. He had some difficulty in keeping both match and cigarette steadily together long enough to light it.
The trickle slowed after a little and became a steady drip—drip—drip, irritating enough to the nerves even if it had only been water. He desperately wanted a drink, but it took all his courage to go forward in the dark and fetch it for fear there should be pools of wetness on the floor and he should put his hand in one of them. More courage, after that, to subdue attacks of panic prompting him to hammer on the door and yell to someone, anyone, to let him out before the tide rose.
When Hambledon came an hour later, an interminable hour which seemed like days, he found his prisoner perched on a box in the corner with his feet up, repeating the “Lays of Ancient Rome” to himself, aloud.
“My dear fellow,” said Hambledon hastily, “I am most frightfully sorry—I had no idea this had happened. Are you all right?”
“Oh, quite, thanks,” said Denton in a rather cracked voice. “Quite chirpy, thanks. I can’t see to read so I was repeating poetry to myself, that’s all. Habit of mine, always done it since a kid, when I couldn’t sleep, you know.” He laughed, and Hambledon did not like the sound of it. “When’s the funeral going to be, d’you know?”
“You are coming out of this, whatever happens. Will you excuse me a moment while I write a note? I will come back again at once.”
“Please don’t hurry,” said Denton airily. “Not that I am not delighted to see you—hear you, I mean—at any time, but don’t let me be a nuisance. It’s quite all right down here—quite homelike when you’re used to it.”
“Mein Gott!” said Hambledon, and left.
He came back a little while later and said, “Have you ever eloped with anyone, Denton?”
“Not exactly eloped,” said Denton cautiously. “Why?”
“Because in about an hour’s time you will be en route for Switzerland with a charming lady whom you have persuaded to—er —fly with you is, I think, the correct phrase. You will travel in haste, her enraged father is upon your trail.”
“You do think up some lovely parlor games, don’t you?” said Denton admiringly. “First you slog me on the head and lock me in a cellar with a dripping corpse overhead, and then marry me off to one of your girl friends. Come to Germany and see life. What’s she like?” “Quite a credit to be seen with, believe me. She will travel into Switzerland with you and then she can go to her aunt’s for a holiday. She will be no trouble to you. You have seen her, by the way, Fräulein Elisabeth Weber.”
“What, the tobacconist’s daughter? A sightly wench, I agree with you. More, I commend your taste, sir.”
“I shall be obliged to leave you before she comes. She knows me, I permit myself English cigarettes sometimes which the good Weber stocks for me. Besides, I cannot be absent from home too long tonight, they might think I had hidden myself, and that would not seem well, you understand.”
“Oh, quite, quite. Tell me, what is all this uncivil disturbance?”
“The Purge,” said Hambledon solemnly. “You will understand that in the body politic, as in the human body, undesirable elements agglomerate— accumulate—of which we wish to rid ourselves. So we take the necessary steps.”
“Lead pills, eh? Couldn’t you have done anything to prevent it?”
“On the contrary, I architec—engineered it. There are some people the Government would be better without. In fact, most of the Government would be nicer in a state of peace. So I thought.” “D’you mean to say you’re responsible for that unpleasantness in the window? Surely not, Von Einem--”
“Von Einem was my friend,” said Hambledon harshly, “and those who killed him will pay, do not be afraid. This Purge has gone wrong a little. I thought the Brown Shirts would do best, but the Black Guards have done best instead. So many things have happened I did not intend. In fact, every step I hear on the stairs, I stroll out to meet them with both my hands in my pockets, you understand? If I go I will take an escort with me.” “Splendid,” said Denton approvingly. “Two-gun Sid in the flesh. I beg your pardon, sir!” •
“Not at all,” said Hambledon, laughing. “If you knew how nice it is to meet someone who is not afraid of one! I am so tired of people who either bully or cringe. Look, I must go or your so charming lady will catch me, and then the cat would be in the soup, eh? Best of luck, and tell the Department I will come back and report someday, please God. Good-by.”
DENTON was left alone in the dark again, but when he had time to notice himself he found that he had entirely left off shaking, and that the obstruction on the grating was no longer an obscene horror but just some man he didn’t know. It seemed only a short time before he heard steps on the stairs and a light appeared in a broken fanlight over the door. Denton stood up as there came the rattle of a key in the lock.
“Herr Dedler, are you there?”
“Yes, Fräulein Weber,” he answered, and bowed politely, which was a mistake, for he immediately turned giddy and staggered straight into the girl’s arms.
“Oh !” she said, pushing him off, “how could you when I’ve only come to help you?”
“I beg your pardon, I do indeed. The action was quite unintentional, it was really.”
She turned her torch on his face, which was quite white where it was not streaked with coal dust, and saw that he was really ill.
“Come out of this horrible place,” she said, taking him by the hand. “Can you walk up the stairs?” “Yes, rather,” he said, “you watch me,” but she had to help him to the limit of her strength before they reached the top. They emerged in the hall of a small house of the artisan type, which appeared to be untenanted, although there was furniture in the rooms.
“Come and sit down a moment.”
“No,” he said, looking at his filthy hands, “I’d like to wash first, if I may?”
“You are in a mess, aren’t you? There’s water in the scullery if that will do, and here’s your suitcase if you’d like to change.”
He emerged twenty minutes later, washed, shaven, changed, and refreshed, to find her waiting by the luggage in the hall, looking at her watch. “We have just half an hour,” she said, “to catch the train for Basle. Do you think we shall do it? How are you feeling?”
“Positively dewy. Shall I leap out and catch a taxi?
“No, I will,” she said. They drove through a frightened, silent town to catch their train with a few minutes in hand, in spite of having been stopped three times by S.S. men at crossroads. Elisabeth Weber showed these men a card, at sight of which they saluted and stepped back. Each time she glanced at Denton with an air of pride, and looked disappointed when he made no comment.
“Don’t you wonder how it’s done?” she said at last.
“Fräulein, 1 never crossquestion guardian angels,” said Denton blandly, but he was thinking of Hambledon and not the lady as he spoke.
The interminable train journey ended at last with the customs officials at the Swiss frontier. At Basle the travellers got out, Denton swaying slightly with a line of pain between his brows as he stood waiting for a porter.
“You are tired,” said Elisabeth Weber.
“I’ve got the most damnable headache,” he said slowly, “and the train is running round and round on my brain. I should like to go to bed for a week and be delicately nurtured by silent-footed houris. Let’s go to Albrecht’s.”
“Albrecht’s Privat Hotel.”
“Do they keep houris there?”
“You are the houri in question, Fräulein Liese.
You won’t desert me just yet, will you?”
“Of course not. My father told me to take care of you. Here’s a cab.
Albrecht’s Privat Hotel, please. I hope they’ll have room for us.”
“Albrecht will make
room. Tell me, Fräulein Liese, how did you hear that I was in that cellar, and who induced you to come?”
“My father told me that Herr Dedler had been accidentally hurt and was hiding from the Black Guards, and that I was to go and get you out. He said we were travelling to Switzerland, he had the tickets all ready, and your suitcase too. But I think there was somebody else—
“Thank heaven here’s Albrecht’s. How wonderful to be in something that stands still and doesn’t make noises. Guten Tag, Albrecht. Two single rooms with bath, please, and lead me to it.”
Charles Denton went to bed in a darkened room and stayed there for a week, suffering from delayed concussion. Elisabeth Weber saw to it that the doctor’s orders were carried out, at least as far as was possible with a thoroughly cross patient.
Albrecht’s served a five o’clock tea at about six. At this time, and also after dinner, a small orchestra, embowered in pot palms, played in a corner of the lounge, music of the cheerful type called “light orchestral.” In case even this should become, in time, monotonous to patrons, Albrecht had engaged a singer also, an Austrian baritone who sang of love and springtime, of maidens and of partings. Occasionally, in more robust mood, he sang of hunting, battle, and honorable but regrettably premature decease. He was a stout young man with dark curly hair, who would have been improved if a cubit had been added to his stature, and generally speaking his appearance was gently reminiscent of a prize shorthorn bull. He had creamy manners, a really fine voice which had been immortalized on a number of excellent gramophone records, and modesty was not his most outstanding virtue.
There was a noteworthy shortage of personable young women among the patrons at the time when Liese Weber arrived, and Herr Waltheof Leibowitz would have been blind and dumb if he had not noticed her. He was neither. Besides, owing to the
regrettable illness of her escort, the poor girl was all alone, and it is a pious duty to brighten the lives of our fellow creatures.
His eyes wandered round the room as he sang, and ceased to wander when they reached Liese. When she applauded, with the rest, at the end of his songs, he had a special little bow for her among the gestures with which he graciously accepted these natural tributes to his excellence. After the concert was over, as he walked through the room on his way out, he moved near her table and made her a little bow in passing, with the early rudiments of a smile. So ended the first day.
On the second day he met her in the passage just before dinner and said, “GVabend, gnädige Fräulein,” and after dinner, when she was on the terrace watching the setting sun all rosy upon some distant alp, he approached and asked if this was her first visit to Switzerland, and she said it was.
On the third day he did not see much of her because Charles
Denton was ill, and restless if she was long out of his sight.
On the fourth day Liese was again in the lounge, and Herr Waltheof had somebody to sing to, which is always such a help to the artistic temperament. “Im Monat Mai,” he sang, “In the month of May a maiden passed by, a maiden so unsophisticated that she had never been kissed,” or words to that effect.
Liese Weber was fairly unsophisticated and had travelled very little, certainly she had never stayed in a hotel practically by herself before. Nor had she ever been singled out for attention from among a numberof people before, and she found it pleasant.
T>Y THE end of a week Charles Denton had A3 recovered sufficiently to sit up in a chair on his balcony, look at the view, and enjoy a little cheerful companionship.
“That’s a sizable little hump over there, surely,” he said, indicating an outstanding peak in the far distance.
“That’s Rigi,” said Liese. “Waltheof says it’s five thousand nine hundred feet high.”
“Oh. The songbird. Your Austrian hedge warbler.”
“He has a beautiful voice.”
“And is full of instructive information too, evidently, thus combining beauty and usefulness. Like an antimacassar. Let’s talk about something interesting, shall we?”
“Just as you like, Herr Dedler.”
“Do you think you could leave off calling me Herr Dedler? Try saying Charles.”
“Car-lus,” she said.
“Much better, Liese. Does Waltheof call you Liese?”
“Have you had your soup? It’s past eleven.” “No, thanks, I’m tired of soup. Does what’s-hisname call you Liese?”
“You’re tired of being up here,” she said, “and no wonder. Come down to the lounge for a change.” “Don’t know that I want to,” he said. “But don’t let me keep you. Frightfully boring for you up here. You know, you’ve been pretty decent to me and I’ve been rotten to you.”
“Father told me to look after you.”
“Did you only do it because father told you to?” “I’ll ring for your soup,” she said.
“Darn the soup. Put your hand on my head again as you did when I was ill.”
“Does it ache still? There, is that better?”
“Keep it there a little. What nice soft hands you have, Liese. I remember a girl once who had soft hands like yours, her name was Marie.”
“Did you have headaches in those days?”
“Don’t take your hand away. No, but Marie would have tried to cure it for me—unless Bill’s little finger had ached, then she’d have forgotten my existence.”
“Who were they, Char-lus?”
“Friends of mine. They were—well—rather fond of each other.”
“What happened to them?”
“They died. I’ll tell you some other time.”
“Did they die together, Char-les?”
“You’re getting my name better every time. No, she died in Cologne and he in England, years later.” “Perhaps they’re together now, Char-les.” “You’re rather a dear. Would you really like me to come down to the lounge with you?”
“Yes, I would, please.”
“Why would you?”
“Well, it’s a little awkward, sometimes, being the only person here who’s all alone.”
“Good heavens, why didn’t you say so before? I’d have made an effort instead of lounging here. I ought to have thought of it.”
They went into the lounge, which was nearly empty at that time in the morning, and presently Herr Leibowitz strolled through, ostensibly to put his songs in order, but actually to look for Liese. He sheered off when he saw the long-legged Denton lounging in the next chair. Liese nodded to him and said, “That’s him.”
“Who? Your tame linnet?”
The two men looked each other up and down as Waltheof walked out, and Denton said, “Umf. I’ve seen things like him at agricultural shows.
In pens, with a rosette on their curly topknots. He reminds me of a polled Angus.”
“But he sings much better,” said Liese.
Next day she brought a pile of magazines into Denton’s room to amuse him while she went for a walk, and among them was a photograph, signed “With homage from Waltheof Leibow'itz.” Denton found it when he was alone, and seethed within.
“The blue-nosed, hairy baboon!
Not that I’m jealous, of course, the girl’s nothing to me, but she’s a nice kid and I won’t see her being made a fool of by a fat Austrian crooner, blast him! He’s no good to her, probably regards her as a passing amusement. She’d better go home to her father.” However, when Liese came in he did not refer to the photograph, nor suggest her returning to Berlin. Instead, he came down to tea, and Waltheof sang, “Ah, can it ever be, That I must part from thee.” In spite of friendly overtures from several kind ladies who thought the tall languid young man such an interesting invalid, Denton said he was tired and went to bed early. No, he didn’t want to be read to, thank you.
On the following afternoon he tapped at Liese’s door to borrow their mutual ink, and found her looking through a little pile of gramophone records. “Hullo,” he said, “been shopping?”
“No, I had these given to me, they’re Waltheof’s. Look, here’s ‘Im Monat Mai.’ It’s a lovely one.” “Oh. When did you hear it?”
“On his gramophone, last night.”
“Did you go to his room to hear it?”
“Why not? I had nobody else to talk to.”
He fidgeted about the room.
“You didn’t stay so late as one might have expected, did you? Thought I heard you come up rather early.”
“No, I—I didn’t stay long.”
“Well, if you must know, he kissed the nape of my neck and I didn’t like it.”
“He did, did he? Well, if you will ask for that kind of thing, my girl, you’ll probably get it.” Denton stalked into his own room and slammed the door.
It was a peaceful scene in the lounge of Albrecht’s Privat Hotel at teatime. There was a cheerful clink of teacups, the orchestra played a selection from “L’Arlesienne” above a subdued but happy chatter, which was only stilled when Waltheof strolled to the front of the platform. The pianist struck a few preliminary chords, and at the same moment the swing door of the lounge opened, and Denton entered.
Waltheof did not notice this. He clasped his hands lightly in front of him, fixed his eyes soulfully on Liese Weber, and began, “Im Monat Mai.” Denton walked delicately between the tables till he was face to face with the singer, then he stopped, and so did the-song.
“I’ll teach you to remember the month of May, you pie-faced choirboy,” he drawled, and landed the unhappy Waltheof a jolt to the jaw, sending him flying into the grand piano, which complained with a long singing noise. Denton, completely unhurried in the excitement, wandered across to Liese’s table and said, “Come on upstairs, we’d better start packing.”
“Come on,” he said, and she got up and followed meekly.
“Did you see that girl’s face as she went out?” said one elderly lady to another. “Outrageous little minx ! I believe she was laughing.” In the cab on their way to the station, Liese said, “Where are we going?”
“To Paris, of course, Lieschen. Good heavens, I’ve forgotten something.”
“I meant to send your father a picture post card of the hotel—in six colors.”
THEY had a rush to catch the train, and, of course, they had no reservations, so it was necessary to resign themselves to spending the night in an ordinary railway carriage till they arrived in Paris at three in the morning.
“But why are we going to Paris, Char-les?” “Charles.”
“Charles. Why are we going to Paris?”
“Because it’s the nearest place I know where I can marry you.”
“Suppose I don’t want to?”
“If you don’t now, you will when you’ve knowm me another seven hours.”
“Who told you that, lordly one?”
“My unconquerable soul,” said Denton magnificently. “Come and—no. We are not married yet, so I’ll approach you. I want to sit next you, not opposite.”
“Shall I have to come when I’m called if I marry you?”
“Oh! Just like living with father,” she said in a flat voice.
“Not in the least like living with father-”
“ ‘Leise! Fetch my slippers!’ ”
“A very good idea, but-”
“ ‘Leise! Fill my pipe!’ ”
“I wouldn’t trust you to. It’s a fine art— ”
“I have acquired it, sir. ‘Liese! Bring the beer!’ ” “Better and better. In fact, better and bitter. I always knew I was a good picker, but you exceed expectations.”
“ ‘Liese! Bring me the English Times!’ ”
“Does your father read that?”
“Yes. He says that when he was a schoolboy he learned English, and reading the English Times is the best way to keep it up.”
“I dare say he’s right. Can you speak English, Liese?”
“A little,” she said. “I read it quite easily, but to speak it is much more difficult. Father made me learn poetry. Father has been in England I am sure, though he never talks about it. Have you ever been in England, Charles?”
“Listen to me, my darling. You’re going to marry me tomorrow, heaven help you, and you don’t know the first thing about me. I am English, Lieschen.” She looked at him with round eyes and parted lips.
“My name is not Dedler, it is Denton. Charles Denton. So you will be Mrs. Denton, not Frau Dedler. D’you mind?” “Charles.”
“Was it very dangerous for you, being in* Germany?”
“Not at all,” he lied stoutly. “Whatever makes you think that?” She shook her head in disbelief. “Father had so many queer people
come to see him-”
“Yes, dear. They used to talk in that little room at the back of the shop with the doors and window shut, just as you did. I never did believe they all sold pipes or tobacco. I think there was something funny about father, too.”
“ ‘All the world is queer, dear,’ ” quoted Denton in English, “ ‘excepting thee and me, dear, and even thee’s a little queer, dear!’ ”
“You see,” she said, refusing to be put off, “father’s a good Nazi, and goes to meetings and things and pays all his subscriptions, but sometimes they come into the shop and talk about how wonderful they all are, and when they’ve gone he looks amused. I don’t think the Nazis would amuse a real Nazi, would they?”
Continued on page 33
Toast to Tomorrow
Continued from page 22—Starts on page 20
“You notice too much. Tell me,” he went on in a serious tone, “have you ever spoken of this to anyone else?”
“Never. And I wouldn’t to you, only you’re English.”
“That’s right. Don’t talk about it at all, even to me.”
“Somebody might overhear you. Let’s talk about something else now, shall we?”
“Is it as serious as all that?”
She nodded understandingly, and presently her eyebrows went up. “Isn’t it funny?”
“To think that this time tomorrow I shall be an Englishwoman.”
The corners of Denton’s mouth twitched, but all he said was, “An Englishwoman who’s never seen England. Well, we’ll go straight on there and look at it. Are you—
“Aren’t you really just the least bit scared?”
“It’s a long way from home.” “Home is where you are, liebchen,” she said. “So long as you’re there it will be quite safe. You won’t leave me, will you?”
“Not more than I can help, my
darling. But even if I do, Liese--”
“Even if you must, Charles, what then?”
“Even then, it will still be quite all right, because my heart stays in your hands, Lieschen, my wife—
The train slowed down and stopped at Strasbourg, and Denton promptly got up and spread their luggage all over the unoccupied seats of the compartment. “So that people shall think all the seats are taken and we can keep the place to ourselves,” said the true-born Englishman.
“Oh, be careful, my gramophone records — !”
“Feathers from the pet canary.” “He was really very nice, and it was very wrong of you to hit him so hard.”
“But it did me such a lot of good,” said Denton plaintively, “my head hasn’t ached since.”
“I think it was horrid of you, Charles.”
A shadow darkened the door into the corridor, and a tall old man with a thick brush of hair entered apologetically.
“I beg a thousand pardons, but could you tell me if all these seats are taken? The rest of the train is so—” The carriage lurched violently over the points, the old gentleman staggered, clutched at the rack and missed it, and sat down heavily on the flat parcel. Denton let out a yell of delight.
“Bless my soul,” said the agitated stranger in English. “What have I done?”
“A noble deed, believe me,” said Denton in the same language, “yet one which I should not, myself, have dared. Waltheof’s voice is cracked. They are gramophone records in that parcel.”
“Are they, perhaps, your wife’s?” asked the stranger, with a bow to Liese. “I could, no doubt, replace them.”
“She’s not my wife yet, but she will be as soon as we get to Paris.” “Bless my soul. May I wish you many years of happiness?”
“Thanks awfully,” drawled Denton, “please inaugurate them by not replacing the records.”
“May I sit here?”
“I do beg your pardon,” said Denton, springing up. “Please. Let me remove our truck.” He opened the window, and with a simple gesture hurled the records far into the night.
“I’ll go and fetch my violin, if I may,” said the stranger. “I cannot allow it to travel in the van.” When he returned he introduced himself. “My name is Ogilvie, and I am a third-rate fiddler.”
“I doubt the adjective,” said Denton, looking at the long sensitive fingers. “This is Fräulein Elisabeth Weber, and I’m Charles Denton.” “Have you come far today?”
“Only from Basle.”
“I have had two days in Strasbourg,” said Ogilvie, “but before that I was in Rome. My nephew gave a recital there on Monday, and another in Strasbourg last night. In fact, we have made quite a tour, but he is staying a few days with friends while tiresome business calls me home.”
“I am completely uncultured,” said Denton, “but somehow the name of Ogilvie suggests music to me.”
“You are thinking of my nephew, Dixon Ogilvie, who is a pianist. He is—well, rather famous.”
“Perhaps you have heard him somewhere. I have here,” Ogilvie rummaged in his music case, “a program with his photograph upon it. here it is.”
“Has he played in Berlin, sir?” asked Liese in her careful English.
“Not yet, but perhaps he will some day. He has a foolish prejudice against going again to Germany, he was a prisoner of war there, my dear young lady.”
“But,” said Liese, “if he is a great musician, he will be very welcome in Germany. We--they—are very
“He knows that quite well. In fact, he has been invited to go, but he says he is afraid that if he hears German spoken all round him again, he will get that locked-up feeling. It must be terrible, to be in prison. You have heard him play somewhere, possibly?” to Denton, who was looking at the photograph.
“No,” said Denton, “but I have seen him play.”
“Seen, but not heard—like a good child?” But Denton did not smile.
“He was playing five-finger exercises on a packing case when I saw him. Someone who was with me said that was Dixon Ogilvie, a musician.” “And this was-” “A very long time ago,” said* Denton, looking away out of the window into the dark, and Ogilvie was too tactful to pursue the subject.
“Are you going to stay in Paris, sir?” asked Denton, returning to the present day.
“I fear not, this time. I am going straight through.”
“Couldn’t you stay for one afternoon to perform another good deed?
If it is a good deed to abet us in a rash one? Will you be a witness at our marriage?”
“My dear fellow,” said Ogilvie, “for a thing like that I would postpone any business. I am really honored that you should ask me—I cannot think why.”
“It’s a stupid reason,” said Denton leaning back, “but there was a man who would have been at my wedding, and you are connected with a friend of his, if you would stand proxy, I should be most frightfully obliged — sentimental of me, isn’t it, but these are sentimental occasions-”
“Tell me the time and place,” said Ogilvie.
“Dear Charles, does your head I ache again? You look as though it did.”
“A little, liebchen. I don’t know yet, sir, but I’m going to the British Embassy in the morning to see about it-”
“And you will both lunch with me at Maxim’s at one, eh? Splendid,
! and now I think we should all try to i sleep a little, it is getting late and j those must be the lights of Nancy.”
HAMBLEDON went to Weber’s, the tobacconist’s, to buy cigarettes and found him in a state of | mental disturbance. He knocked things over, produced the wrong , brand, muttered to himself, and for| got the price.
“I’m afraid something is worrying you today,” said the Deputy Chief of Police sympathetically.
“It is kind of you to notice it,” said I Weber. “I have had distressing news, Herr Lehmann, that is all.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Can I do anything?”
“No one can do anything. I have j lost my daughter.”
“Great heavens!” said the startled Hambledon. “That charming child.¡
I dead! What can have happened?” , “She was to go and spend a little
! while with an aunt in Switzerland,
! and in the disturbed state of affairs at Í the moment I thought it better she I should travel with an escort rather , than alone. She went, therefore,
; with a Swiss friend of mine, Herr : Dedler, whom I could have sworn ! to be a man completely trustworthy. But what happened?”
“For pity’s sake tell me,” said j Hambledon earnestly. (What the j devil had that fool Denton heen ; up to?)
“See this telegram, gracious sir. I -received it an hour ago.”
Paris, 15.45 16.7.34. Married Today Entreat Paternal Blessing Letter Follows. Charles And Liese.
“Cheer up,” said the relieved Hambledon. “They’re only married.” “She is lost to me, Herr Lehmann,” said Weber mournfully. “I want my little daughter.” ' “Nonsense, my good Weber. She £ will return bringing her sheaves with i her—probably.”
“A poetic touch. Grandchildren, Herr Weber.” r
“Grandchildren,” said Weber, “are s all very well in their place, but will i they order the dinner? No. Engage and dismiss servants? No. Fetch my 1 pipe and slippers, perhaps, in about i six years’ time but not before, and in the meantime I shall have to pay a s housekeeper who will order me about and probably rob me. Grandchildren, no. I want my daughter. I want Liese.”
“There is another disadvantage attached to these particular grandchildren,” said Hambledon, with his eyes on the other’s face.
“What is that, Herr Lehmann?” “Herr Dedler is, I think you said, a Swiss? They will not be Germans.” ' The tobacconist dropped his eyes instantly, but Hambledon had seen in them the gleam which he expected, 1 also the slow color rise to Weber’s temples.
“I—had not thought of that,” he muttered.
“They will come here to see you, of i course. But they will be brought up i in another land, go to distant schools, and play in fields that are very far away.”
Weber bit his lip and did not ¡ answer. ¡
“I did not mean to distress you, ¡ Herr Weber. I will come again some ¡ day soon,” said Hambledon, and , walked out of the shop.
“Distress me!” said Weber to himself. “That German said the one thing that would really comfort me, if he only knew it. I have a good excuse, now, in going to see my married daughter, and who cares if an obscure tobacconist stays in Switzerland or goes on to England? Then I myself will walk again in those fields which are very far away.”
“Poor old duffer,” said Hambledon to himself. “I bet he bolts off to England via Switzerland before many moons have waned. Why am I so poetic? Oh, yes, honeymoon of course; who’d have thought it of Denton? Fancy my telling him to go and elope, and he actually did it, what a frightful responsibility.”
* * *
Denton came to the Foreign Office to report to his Chief, and the old Colonel from Sussex, who could not let this riddle alone, was . there also.
“I found out who it is,” he said. “As you were, that’s wrong. I didn’t find him out, he found me. It is Hambledon.”
“Hambledon,” said the Foreign Office man. “It can’t be, he’s dead.” “Hambledon,” said the Colonel. “Thank heaven.”
Denton told his story in full detail up to the point where Hambledon left him for the last time.
“So we don’t know now who he is in Germany,” said Denton’s Chief, “and instructions will be issued forthwith that no attempt shall be made to find out.”
“From what I remember of the man he is probably impersonating Adolf Hitler,” said the Colonel, “having thrown the original, wrapped in wire netting with a couple of flagstones as anchor, down the well of somebody he doesn’t like. Anything more to report, Denton?”
“No, sir. Except that I’ve comi mitted holy matrimony.”
If he expected surprise he was j mistaken, for the Colonel merely smiled again and the Foreign Office man uncovered a short memorandum.
“I have here,” he said, “congratulations for you, which have been awaiting you here since 4.15 a.m.” Denton took the paper. The message ran:
T-L-T Denton Foreign Office a.a.a. Congratulations fast work a.a.a. told you to elope didn’t I a.a.a. present follows a.a.a. sincerest good wishes.
Denton’s jaw dropped. “How the devil did he know?”
“Don’t ask me,” said his Chief. “Congratulations, Denton, wish you every happiness.”
“Congratulations, Denton,” said the Colonel. “Lucky fellow. And when may I see the lady?”
“Now, sir, if you’d care to? She’s waiting outside in the taxi.”
“Lead on, my dear fellow. And—er—when you want a christening mug, let me know.”
HENRY WINTER went to Germany to buy fancy leather goods for the large departmental store to which he belonged. He went from place to place unhindered, a short fat man with a bald head, sincerely welcomed by all who had to do business with him and quite unnoticed by anyone else. In late November, 1935, the exchange was no longer so favorable to the foreigner in Germany as it had been, but he was still able to buy advantageously goods which would sell profitably in the English market. He spent a few pounds on the carved wooden and ivory goods of the Black Forest area as an experiment to see if they would go, bought, as he always did, a present for his wife, in Cologne this time, and settled himself with a sigh of relief in the train for the frontier, homeward bound.
“I’m always glad when I’ve completed a buying tour,” he said. He had made acquaintance with a German commercial traveller in the same compartment, he usually found someone to talk to, for he was a j sociable man. “It’s a great responsibility, and though I have always given the firm satisfaction so far, one always wonders. It isn’t as though it were one’s own money one is spending.”
“It is evident from what the Herr says that he is a conscientious man,” said the German politely, “and the efforts of such men always deserve appreciation.”
“It isn’t enough just to be conscientious. One has to use imagination, for it is a sheer gamble to try to please the public.”
“It is a gift, not a gamble, to be able to please the public. Besides, you speak our language so well.”
“I ought to,” said Winter with a laugh, “I spent nearly three years learning it. I was a prisoner of war.” “Were you indeed? I myself ; fought on the Western Front. Where were you captured?”
“Near Souchez in ’15. You know, 1 just north of Arras. I was out with
a wiring party, when-” After
which the conversation proceeded on the lines customary in all war reminiscences.
When at last the train slowed down for the frontier station at Aachen, Winter said, “Never known this trip pass so quickly. See you again after we’ve passed the customs? Right.”
Winter pushed his suitcase across the counter to be searched for surplus currency with the unconcern of habitual innocence, and waited for it to be passed. He was very much taken aback when the customs officer asked if he would please step into an inner room, there was a little difficulty. They would not detain him a moment. If he would just step inside and sit down, it would only be for a moment . . .
Winter, protesting volubly, was pushed into the inner room. He sat down, fuming, on one of the hard chairs and was preparing a neat speech for the customs official’s superior officer, when he heard the key turned in the lock.
Hambledon reached home rather ' late for lunch that day to find Fräulein Rademeyer rather fidgety.
“I’m so sorry,” he said, “to have kept you waiting. You should have started without me.”
“I would rath jr wait, I detest eating alone.”
“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I was busy, the time passed before I was aware of it.”
“You are always so busy these days, even in the evenings. Can’t you take a little time off sometimes?”
Hambledon sighed inaudibly. The old lady was very dear to him, but as the years passed she became more feeble in body but not in spirit, and the increasing limitation of activity was most irritating to her. Besides, it was true, he did leave her alone a great deal.
“I’ll take a whole day off early next week,” he said. “We’ll pick a fine day, drive out somewhere and have lunch. You are quite right, it’s an age since I had any time to myself.”
“That will be very pleasant,” said Ludmilla. “I cannot think it is good for you to work so hard and come so late to your meals. It is nearly two o’clock.”
“I’m sorry,” said Hambledon again, glancing at the clock. It was later than he had thought, in five minutes’ time the Cologne train would stop at Aachen for the usual hunt through travellers’ baggage to see if they were taking more money out of Germany than was permitted by the regulations. Suppose that funny little man Winter had changed his mind and broken his journey somewhere. Suppose Ginsberg had had one of his gastric attacks and been unable to do his job. It might sound a simple matter to undo the lining of a suitcase, slip some papers inside, and do it up again so that it did not appear to have been tampered with, but it took an expert to do it properly. Ginsberg had been apprenticed to a firm of luggage makers, what a find! It was only necessary to tell him that he was concealing secret orders for transmis1 sion to German agents abroad for him to take an artist’s pleasure in the work. Now the ham-handed Schultz-
“Klaus dear, would it be too much trouble to talk to me when you do conie in? I have had no one but the serrants to speak to all the morning.” “I am a complete pig, Aunt Ludmilla. I am a mannerless baboon. Tell me, what are you going to do this afternoon?”
“I am going to a recital of some of Chopin’s Nocturnes and Preludes, and two Beethoven sonatas, by a famous foreign pianist who has never been in Berlin before. I wish you could come with me.”
“You don’t really. You remember too well what happened last time you tried to educate my taste in music. 1 snored.”
“You were overtired, dear. It was unkind of me to insist on your going.” “Who are you going to hear this time?”
“I can’t pronounce his queer name, but here’s a program. It has his photograph on it, look.”
Hambledon took the program carelessly, glanced at the photograph, and then looked intently. Dixon Ogilvie’s name was beneath it, but that was unnecessary for Tommy Hambledon, once Modern Languages master at Chappell’s School. The photograph showed a man in the early thirties, but there was little change from the other picture which rose to Hambledon’s mind of a tall, skinny, untidy boy to whom music took the place occupied in the hearts of other boys by toffee, food and cricket, a boy who wouldn’t learn French and couldn’t learn German —perhaps the guards at the prisoners’ camp at Thielenbruck had been more successful teachers.
“A nice face, isn’t it?” said Fräulein Rademeyer, who was wandering about the room collecting tickets, gloves, two pairs of spectacles and a purse, and did not notice Hambledon’s expression. “I should think he’s a nice young man, wouldn’t you?”
Still no reply, so she looked at him, crossed the room quickly and laid her hand on his arm.
“What is it, my dear? Do you think you remember that face?” “Perhaps,” said Hambledon, rousing himself. “It’s rather unlikely, isn’t it? A chance resemblance, probably.”
“He might be a friend, or some relation,” she said.
“But he’s English,” said Hambledon, looking at her curiously. “That would mean I was English, too, and that’s impossible.”
“I suppose it is,” she said slowly. “Would you mind very much, if I turned out to be English after all? You’d hate it, wouldn’t you?”
“No, why? The war’s over long ago, Klaus dear, and you and I have been happy together for a long time.” “I’m glad you think like that,” he said. “I shan’t be so afraid now of— of getting my memory back.”
She laughed and patted his arm. “You don’t know much about women, do you, Klaus? Besides, the English are quite respectable people. Won’t you come with me and see him for yourself?”
“No,” he said, “no. I do very well as I am, and besides, I have business i to attend to this afternoon.”
“Very well, dear. And don’t worry, j your memory will come back some j day, I am sure of it. How tiresome it will be, learning to call you by a new ¡ name.”
“You never shall--”
“Good gracious, look at the time. Tell Franz to call a cab, will you, while I put—I shall be late—they
won’t let me in till the interval-”
She scurried out of the room while Hambledon shouted to Franz to call up a taxi, and himself walked back to his office. He pushed the thought of ¡ Dixon Ogilvie out of his mind for the J present and returned to the subject I of Henry Winter. By this time the little man should have been released, have passed the Belgian customs, and should now be sitting in the slow local to Brussels, having lost the boat train. No doubt he was horribly cross, probably he was bouncing gently on the seat and emitting a faint sizzling sound. Never mind, they also serve-
“So I lost the boat train to Ostende,” said Winter to his wife, “and had to take a slow local to Brussels. I caught a fast train from there but, of course, the boat had gone, so I had to stay the night. I went to the Excelsior Hotel, too expensive for me normally, but as it’s the off season I knew the charge would be reasonable, and to tell you the truth, my dear, I’d been so worried and upset that I thought I deserved a little extra luxury.”
“Did you have an amusing time there, Henry?”
“No, m’dear. Very dull.”
KENRY WINTER had walked j into the Excelsior on the previj ous evening shortly before dinner and ; asked, in his Britannic French, for a room for one night.
“M’sieu’ is alone?” asked the reception clerk.
“Completely alone,” said Winter.
He was still seething with a sense j of injustice in spite of the floods of ¡ apology which had been poured on him at Aachen. His detention was a mistake, the locked door was a mistake, it was to keep people out, not him in, his being shown in there at all was a mistake and the official responsible should be reprimanded— degraded—dismissed the service. But Winter was not appeased. However, the reception which is accorded to hotel visitors in the off season began to soothe him, and the excellent dinner, with a wine he’d never heard of before, but which was recommended personally by the w.ine waiter, completed the cure. When he had finished the cheese and biscuits—and the half-bottle —he felt at peace with the world. He rose from the table, pulled down his waistcoat, and strolled into the lounge.
The lift was one of those which starts each journey with an aggrieved howl, and Winter guessed, ratherthan heard, that the boy asked him which floor. “Third,” he answered, winding his watch on the way up to save time, because he was sleepy. The lift stopped, W’inter got out and walked along to his room.
He opened the door quietly, switched on the light, and noticed at t once that his very ordinary brown suitcase on the luggage stand inside the door had been closed again although he had left it open. He slid the catches and threw back the lid.
There came from the other side of the room an angry wail of feminine outrage and Winter jumped round to see with horror a woman standing beside the bed in the alcove, a woman, moreover, in an advanced stage of disarray. For a second he gaped at her, speechless with astonishment, then, “My good woman!” he gasped, in English, and fled the room, slamming the door behind him.
He hurried back to the lift, rang for it, and demanded to he taken to the manager instantly. “Instamment, sans delay.” Henry Winter marched angrily about the room trying to summon adequate French to express his sentiments. If only they spoke German . . .
The manager arrived. “Monsieur desire?”
“There is,” said Winter carefully, “a woman in my room. I do not want her.”
The manager insisted that there must be some mistake, to which Winter tried to reply that there was indeed a very serious mistake, hut that anyone who imagined they could get away with that sort of thing with him would find they would—he found himself drowning in a tangle of subjunctives and tore himself free. “I won’t have it,” he said indignantly. “I don’t like that sort of thing. Je ne l’aime pas.”
“Is it,” said the manager, upon whom a false dawn unkindly broke, “is it that monsieur desires to part with his wife?”
“Heavens above, no !” stormed the baited Winter, in English. “She’s a stranger, I tell you. Elle est étrange, tres étrange.”
At that moment the door opened violently, a well-developed young woman bounced into the room and set about the unfortunate manager in floods óf French so rapid as to leave Winter gasping. He looked at her again-
“Here,” he said, grabbing the manager by the arm, “that’s the woman.”
She flung out her arm with a gesture worthy of Duse. “That that is the man !”
“Madame,” said the manager, pushing his way between, “Monsieur ! All is now clear-”
“He came to roh! He opened my case--”
“You have the wrong room,” said the manager firmly to Winter. “You were on the wrong floor-”
“Bless my soul,” said the deflated Winter. “I told the boy third floor.”
“I am second floor,” said the lady.
“The little mistake,” said the manager airily. “She comes, does she not? Deuxieme, troisième, what would you?”
“Madame,” said Winter, horribly abashed, “I am—I cannot tell you— I beg----”
“I beg monsieur,” said she with a dazzling smile, “not to distress himself. One understands, one pardons, is it not?”
VERY dull indeed,” said Winter to his wife. “Place half shut up,
very few people there.” “But quiet and comfortable, I hope. You caught the boat all right next day, though.”
“Yes, I got across all right but, believe it or not, I had more trouble over the luggage at Dover. I had some of the firm’s stuff to declare, of course, so after the customs people had examined everything I sent the porter along to the train with the boxes and my suitcase while I paid the charges. When I went on the platform myself I couldn’t find the porter or any of the luggage!”
“My dear, what an extraordinary thing. Didn’t you complain?”
“Complain! I’ll say I complained.
I sent for the stationmaster, the assistant stationmaster and the foreman porter; the train was held up while every compartment and van were searched. Not a sign of them. Not any of them. I was ever so angry, Agnes.”
“You had every right to be, Henry. What happened then?”
“Well, eventually they had to let the train go when it was obvious the stuff wasn’t on board; I walked about at my wit’s end what to do, and chanced to go outside. I mean, to the station entrance, where the cars drive up, and there, just outside the door, was all my luggage neatly piled up. All by itself, Agnes, nobody looking after it.”
“And the porter?”
“Never saw him again, they couldn’t find him or something. Disgraceful! Scandalous! However, all the cases were there, so there wasn’t much harm done, I looked inside each one and they hadn’t been tampered with so far as I could see. Oh, Agnes, that suitcase of mine is getting shabby, the lining is split.” “Oh, is it? Well, you’ve had it some time and I dare say we can get it mended. What happened then, did you have to wait for the next train?” “No, as luck would have it there was a gentleman outside the station with a wonderful car, a sportsBentley he said it was, he’d missed the train himself and was going to drive up to town so he offered me a lift, and I accepted. He was ever so nice, I told him all about what had happened and he was ever so sympathetic. He even went out of his way to drop the firm’s boxes at the office.”
“How very kind, Henry, how fortunate, too! So much nicer than waiting hours for the next train. What was he like, Henry?”
“ ‘What was he like!’ Oh, you woman! Very tall, with a lazy manner and a tired way of talking as though it was almost too much trouble to speak, don’t you know, but a real toff and no mistake. I should think he’d been in the Army, still is, probably. We got on fine,” said Henry with a self-conscious laugh. “He simply insisted on my having what he called a spot of dinner with him before I came home. Went to a place called the Auberge de France in Piccadilly, I’d never heard of it before. Not much to look at outside, give me the Strand Corner House for that any day, but my hat, the cooking! And the service ! Waiters everywhere.”
“What did you have, Henry?” “Well, we started with ...” and so on.
Denton took leave of Winter at one of the Piccadilly Tube entrances and himself repaired to the Foreign Office.
“Well, did you pacify him?”
“Oh, yes, quite easy, no trouble at all. Decent old fruit really. What’s in the kitty this time, anything exciting?”
“Don’t know yet, it’ll be up any minute now. Wonder where they packed it.”
“Oh, at Aachen, at the examination for currency. He told me all his troubles. They aren’t so subtle as we are, though, they just inveigled him into a back room and locked him up while they got on with it. I imagine he raised—here’s your plate of cabbage.”
They tore open the envelope which the messenger brought in. The contents informed them that Germany would march into the demilitarized Rhineland in March, in four months’ time, and at the same moment denounce the Locarno Treaty.
To Be Continued