A man with a wooden leg walked along a hospital corridor.
He was a short, vigorous type with an athletic build, thirty years old, dressed in a plain charcoal gray suit and black toe-capped shoes. He walked briskly, but you could tell he was lame by the slight irregularity in his step:
tap-tap, tap-tap. His face was fixed in a grim expression, as if he were suppressing some profound emotion.
He reached the end of the corridor and stopped at the nurse’s desk.
“Flight Lieutenant Hoare?” he said.
The nurse looked up from a register. She was a pretty girl with black hair, and she spoke with the soft accent of County Cork. “You’ll be a relation, I’m thinking,” she said with a friendly smile.
Her charm had no effect. “Brother,” said the visitor. “Which bed?”
“Last on the left.”
He turned on his heel and strode along the aisle to the end of the ward.
In a chair beside the bed, a figure in a brown dressing gown sat with his back to the room, looking out of the window, smoking.
The visitor hesitated. “Bart?”
The man in the chair stood up and turned around. There was a bandage on his head and his left arm was in a sling, but he was smiling. He was younger and taller than the visitor. “Hello, Digby.”
Digby put his arms around his brother and hugged him hard. “I thought you were dead,” he said.
Then he began to cry.
“I was flying a Whitley,” Bart said. The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was a cumbersome long-tailed bomber that flew in an odd nose-down attitude. In the spring of 1941, Bomber Command had a hundred of them, out of a total strength of about seven hundred aircraft. “A Messerschmitt fired on us and we took several hits,” Bart continued. “But he must have been running out of fuel, because he peeled off without finishing us. I thought it was my lucky day. Then we started to lose altitude. The Messerschmitt must have damaged both engines. We chucked out everything that wasn’t bolted down, to reduce our weight, but it was no good, and I realized we’d have to ditch in the North Sea.”
Digby sat on the edge of the hospital bed, dry-eyed now, watching his brother’s face, seeing the thousand-yard-stare as Bart remembered.
“I told the crew to jettison the rear hatch then get into ditching position, braced against the bulkhead.” The Whitley had a crew of five, Digby recalled. “When we reached zero altitude I heaved back on the stick and opened the throttles, but the aircraft refused to level out, and we hit the water with a terrific smash. I was knocked out.”
They were step brothers, eight years apart. Digby’s mother had died when he was thirteen, and his father had married a widow with a boy of her own. From the start, Digby had looked after his little brother, protecting him from bullies and helping him with his schoolwork. They had both been mad about airplanes, and dreamed of being pilots. Digby lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, studied engineering, and went into aircraft design; but Bart lived the dream.
“When I came to, I could smell smoke. The aircraft was floating and the starboard wing was on fire. The night was dark as the grave, but I could see by the light of the flames. I crawled along the fuselage and found the dinghy pack. I bunged it through the hatch and jumped. Jesus, that water was cold.”
His voice was low and calm, but he took hard pulls on his cigarette, drawing the smoke deep into his lungs and blowing it out between tight-pursed lips in a long jet. “I was wearing a life jacket and I came to the surface like a cork. There was quite a swell, and I was going up and down like a tart’s knickers. Luckily, the dinghy pack was in front of my nose. I pulled the string and it inflated itself, but I couldn’t get in. I didn’t have the strength to heave myself out of the water. I couldn’t understand it-didn’t realize I had a dislocated shoulder and a broken wrist and three cracked ribs and all that. So I just stayed there, holding on, freezing to death.”
There had been a time, Digby recalled, when he thought Bart had been the lucky one.
“Eventually Jones and Croft appeared. They’d held on to the tail until it went down. Neither could swim, but their Mae Wests saved them, and they managed to scramble into the dinghy and pull me in.” He lit a fresh cigarette. “I never saw Pickering. I don’t know what happened to him, but I assume he’s at the bottom of the sea.”
He fell silent. There was one crew member unaccounted for, Digby realized. After a pause, he said, “What about the fifth man?”
“John Rowley, the bomb-aimer, was alive. We heard him call out. I was in a bit of a daze, but Jones and Croft tried to row toward the voice.” He shook his head in a gesture of hopelessness. “You can’t imagine how difficult it was. The swell must have been three or four feet, the flames were dying down so we couldn’t see much, and the wind was howling like a bloody banshee. Jones yelled, and he’s got a strong voice. Rowley would shout back, then the dinghy would go up one side of a wave and down the other and spin around at the same time, and when he called out again his voice seemed to come from a completely different direction. I don’t know how long it went on. Rowley kept shouting, but his voice became weaker as the cold got to him.” Bart’s face stiffened. “He started to sound a bit pathetic, calling to God and his mother and that sort of rot. Eventually he went quiet.”
Digby found he was holding his breath, as if the mere sound of breathing would be an intrusion on such a dreadful memory.
“We were found soon after dawn, by a destroyer on U-boat patrol. They dropped a cutter and hauled us in.” Bart looked out of the window, blind to the green Hertfordshire landscape, seeing a different scene, far away. “Bloody lucky, really,” he said.
They sat in silence for a while, then Bart said, “Was the raid a success? No one will tell me how many came home.”
“Disastrous,” Digby said.
“What about my squadron?”
“Sergeant Jenkins and his crew got back safely.” Digby drew a slip of paper from his pocket. “So did Pilot Officer Arasaratnam. Where’s he from?”
“And Sergeant Riley’s aircraft took a hit but made it back.”
“Luck of the Irish,” said Bart. “What about the rest?”
Digby just shook his head.
“But there were six aircraft from my squadron on that raid!” Bart protested.
“I know. As well as you, two more were shot down. No apparent survivors.”
“So Creighton-Smith is dead. And Billy Shaw. And. . Oh, God.” He turned away.
Bart’s mood changed from despair to anger. “It’s not enough to be sorry,” he said. “We’re being sent out there to die!”
“For Christ’s sake, Digby, you’re part of the bloody government.”
“I work for the Prime Minister, yes.” Churchill liked to bring people from private industry into the government and Digby, a successful aircraft designer before the war, was one of his troubleshooters.
“Then this is your fault as much as anyone’s. You shouldn’t be wasting your time visiting the sick. Get the hell out of here and do something about it.”
“I am doing something,” Digby said calmly. “I’ve been given the task of finding out why this is happening. We lost fifty percent of the aircraft on that raid.”
“Bloody treachery at the top, I suspect. Or some fool air marshal boasting in his club about tomorrow’s raid, and a Nazi barman taking notes behind the beer pumps.”
“That’s one possibility.”
Bart sighed. “I’m sorry, Diggers,” he said, using a childhood nickname. “It’s not your fault, I’m just blowing my top.”
“Seriously, have you any idea why so many are being shot down? You’ve flown more than a dozen missions. What’s your hunch?”
Bart looked thoughtful. “I wasn’t just sounding off about spies. When we get to Germany, they’re ready for us. They know we’re coming.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Their fighters are in the air, waiting for us. You know how difficult it is for defensive forces to time that right. The fighter squadron has to be scrambled at just the right moment; they must navigate from their airfield to the area where they think we might be, then they have to climb above our ceiling, and when they’ve done all that they have to find us in the moonlight. The whole process takes so much time that we should be able to drop our ordnance and get clear before they catch us. But it isn’t happening that way.”
Digby nodded. Bart’s experience matched that of other pilots he had questioned. He was about to say so when Bart looked up and smiled over Digby’s shoulder. Digby turned to see a Negro in the uniform of a squadron leader. Like Bart, he was young for his rank, and Digby guessed he had received the automatic promotions that came with combat experience-flight lieutenant after twelve sorties, squadron leader after fifteen.
Bart said, “Hello, Charles.”
“You had us all worried, Bartlett. How are you?” The newcomer’s accent was Caribbean overlaid with an Oxbridge drawl.
“I may live, they say.”
With a fingertip, Charles touched the back of Bart’s hand where it emerged from his sling. It was a curiously affectionate gesture, Digby thought. “I’m jolly glad to hear it,” Charles said.
“Charles, meet my brother Digby. Digby, this is Charles Ford. We were together at Trinity until we left to join the air force.”
“It was the only way to avoid taking our exams,” Charles said, shaking Digby’s hand.
Bart said, “How are the Africans treating you?”
Charles smiled and explained to Digby, “There’s a squadron of Rhodesians at our airfield. First class flyers, but they find it difficult to deal with an officer of my color. We call them the Africans, which seems to irritate them slightly. I can’t think why.”
Digby said, “Obviously you’re not letting it get you down.”
“I believe that with patience and improved education we may eventually be able to civilize such people, primitive though they seem now.” Charles looked away, and Digby caught a glimpse of the anger beneath his good humor.
“I was just asking Bart why he thinks we’re losing so many bombers,” Digby said. “What’s your opinion?”
“I wasn’t on this raid,” Charles said. “By all accounts, I was lucky to miss it. But other recent operations have been pretty bad. I get the feeling the Luftwaffe can follow us through cloud. Might they have some kind of equipment on board that enables them to locate us even when we’re not visible?”
Digby shook his head. “Every crashed enemy aircraft is minutely examined, and we’ve never seen anything like what you’re talking about. We’re working hard to invent that kind of device, and I’m sure the enemy are, too, but we’re a long way from success, and we’re pretty sure they’re well behind us. I don’t think that’s it.”
“Well, that’s what it feels like.”
“I still think there are spies,” Bart said.
“Interesting.” Digby stood up. “I have to get back to Whitehall. Thanks for your opinions. It helps to talk to the men at the sharp end.” He shook hands with Charles and squeezed Bart’s uninjured shoulder. “Sit still and get well.”
“They say I’ll be flying again in a few weeks.”
“I can’t say I’m glad.”
As Digby turned to go, Charles said, “May I ask you a question?”
“On a raid like this one, the cost to us of replacing lost aircraft must be more than the cost to the enemy of repairing the damage done by our bombs.”
“Then. .” Charles spread his arms in a sign of incomprehension. “Why do we do it? What’s the point of bombing?”
“Yes,” Bart said. “I’d like to know that.”
“What else can we do?” Digby said. “The Nazis control Europe: Austria, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Norway. Italy is an ally, Spain is sympathetic, Sweden is neutral, and they have a pact with the Soviet Union. We have no military forces on the Continent. We have no other way of fighting back.”
Charles nodded. “So we’re all you’ve got.”
“Exactly,” Digby said. “If the bombing stops, the war is over-and Hitler has won.”
The Prime Minister was watching The Maltese Falcon. A private cinema had recently been built in the old kitchens of Admiralty House. It had fifty or sixty plush seats and a red velvet curtain, but it was usually used to show film of bombing raids and to screen propaganda pieces before they were shown to the public.
Late at night, after all the memoranda had been dictated, the cables sent, the reports annotated, and the minutes initialed, when he was too worried and angry and tense to sleep, Churchill would sit in one of the large VIP seats in the front row with a glass of brandy and lose himself in the latest enchantment from Hollywood.
As Digby walked in, Humphrey Bogart was explaining to Mary Astor that when a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it. The air was thick with cigar smoke. Churchill pointed to a seat. Digby sat down and watched the last few minutes of the movie. As the credits appeared over the statuette of a black falcon, Digby told his boss that the Luftwaffe seemed to have advance notice when Bomber Command was coming.
When he had finished, Churchill stared at the screen for a few moments, as if he were waiting to find out who had played Bryan. There were times when he was charming, with an engaging smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes, but tonight he seemed sunk in gloom. At last he said, “What does the RAF think?”
“They blame poor formation flying. In theory, if the bombers fly in close formation, their armament should cover the entire sky, so any enemy fighter that appears should be shot down immediately.”
“And what do you say to that?”
“Rubbish. Formation flying has never worked. Some new factor has entered the equation.”
“I agree. But what?”
“My brother blames spies.”
“All the spies we’ve caught have been amateurish-but that’s why they were caught, of course. It may be that the competent ones have slipped through the net.”
“Perhaps the Germans have made a technical breakthrough.”
“The Secret Intelligence Service tell me the enemy are far behind us in the development of radar.”
“Do you trust their judgment?”
“No.” The ceiling lights came on. Churchill was in evening dress. He always looked dapper, but his face was lined with weariness. He took from his waistcoat pocket a folded sheet of flimsy paper. “Here’s a clue,” he said, and he handed it to Digby.
Digby studied the sheet. It appeared to be a decrypt of a Luftwaffe radio signal, in German and English. It said that the Luftwaffe’s new strategy of dark night-fighting-Dunkle Nachtjagd-had scored a great triumph, thanks to the excellent information from Freya. Digby read the message in English then again in German. “Freya” was not a word in either language. “What does this mean?” he said.
“That’s what I want you to find out.” Churchill stood up and shrugged into his jacket. “Walk back with me,” he said. As he left, he called out, “Thank you!”
A voice from the projectionist’s booth replied, “My pleasure, sir.”
As they passed through the building, two men fell in behind them: Inspector Thompson from Scotland Yard, and Churchill’s private bodyguard. They emerged on the parade ground, passed a team operating a barrage balloon, and went through a gate in the barbed-wire fence to the street. London was blacked out, but a crescent moon gave enough light for them to find their way.
They walked side by side a few yards along Horse Guards Parade to Number One, Storey’s Gate. A bomb had damaged the rear of Number Ten, Downing Street, the traditional residence of the Prime Minister, so Churchill was living at the nearby annex over the Cabinet War Rooms. The entrance was protected by a bombproof wall. The barrel of a machine gun poked through a hole in the wall.
Digby said, “Good night, sir.”
“It can’t go on,” said Churchill. “At this rate, Bomber Command will be finished by Christmas. I need to know who or what Freya is.”
“I’ll find out.”
“Do so with the utmost dispatch.”
“Good night,” said the Prime Minister, and he went inside.
On the last day of May 1941, a strange vehicle was seen on the streets of Morlunde, a city on the west coast of Denmark.
It was a Danish-made Nimbus motorcycle with a sidecar. That in itself was an unusual sight, because there was no petrol for anyone except doctors and the police and, of course, the German troops occupying the country. But this Nimbus had been modified. The four-cylinder petrol engine had been replaced by a steam engine taken from a scrapped river launch. The seat had been removed from the sidecar to make room for a boiler, firebox, and chimney stack. The substitute engine was low in power, and the bike had a top speed of about twenty-two miles per hour. Instead of the customary roar of a motorcycle exhaust, there was only the gentle hiss of steam. The eerie quiet and the slow pace gave the vehicle a stately air.
In the saddle was Harald Olufsen, a tall youth of eighteen, with clear skin and fair hair brushed back from a high forehead. He looked like a Viking in a school blazer. He had saved for a year to buy the Nimbus, which had cost him six hundred crowns-then, the day after he got it, the Germans had imposed the petrol restrictions.
Harald had been furious. What right did they have? But he had been brought up to act rather than complain.
It had taken him another year to modify the bike, working on school holidays, fitting it in with revision for his university entrance exams. Today, home from his boarding school for the Whitsun break, he had spent the morning memorizing physics equations and the afternoon attaching a sprocket from a rusted lawn mower to the back wheel. Now, with the motorcycle working perfectly, he was heading for a bar where he hoped to hear some jazz and perhaps even meet some girls.
He loved jazz. After physics, it was the most interesting thing that had ever happened to him. The American musicians were the best, of course, but even their Danish imitators were worth listening to. You could sometimes hear good jazz in Morlunde, perhaps because it was an international port, visited by sailors from all over the world.
But when Harald drove up outside the Club Hot, in the heart of the dockside district, its door was closed and its windows shuttered.
He was mystified. It was eight o’clock on a Saturday evening, and this was one of the most popular spots in town. It should be swinging.
As he sat staring at the silent building, a passer-by stopped and looked at his vehicle. “What’s that contraption?”
“A Nimbus with a steam engine. Do you know anything about this club?”
“I own it. What does the bike use for fuel?”
“Anything that burns. I use peat.” He pointed to the pile in the back of the sidecar.
“Peat?” The man laughed.
“Why are the doors shut?”
“The Nazis closed me down.”
Harald was dismayed. “Why?”
“Employing Negro musicians.”
Harald had never seen a colored musician in the flesh, but he knew from records that they were the best. “The Nazis are ignorant swine,” he said angrily. His evening had been ruined.
The club owner looked up and down the street to make sure no one had heard. The occupying power ruled Denmark with a light hand, but all the same, few people openly insulted the Nazis. However, there was no one else in sight. He returned his gaze to the motorcycle. “Does it work?”
“Of course it does.”
“Who converted it for you?”
“I did it myself.”
The man’s amusement was turning to admiration. “That’s pretty clever.”
“Thank you.” Harald opened the tap that admitted steam into the engine. “I’m sorry about your club.”
“I’m hoping they’ll let me open again in a few weeks. But I’ll have to promise to employ white musicians.”
“Jazz without Negroes?” Harald shook his head in disgust. “It’s like banning French cooks from restaurants.” He took his foot off the brake and the bike moved slowly away.
He thought of heading for the town center, to see if there was anyone he knew in the cafes and bars around the square, but he felt so disappointed about the jazz club that he decided it would be depressing to hang around. Harald steered for the harbor.
His father was pastor of the church on Sande, a small island a couple of miles offshore. The little ferry that shuttled to and from the island was in dock, and he drove straight on. It was crowded with people, most of whom he knew. There was a merry gang of fishermen who had been to a football match and had a few drinks afterward; two well-off women in hats and gloves with a pony and trap and a stack of shopping; and a family of five who had been visiting relations in town. A well-dressed couple he did not recognize were probably going to dine at the island’s hotel, which had a high-class restaurant. His motorcycle attracted everyone’s interest, and he had to explain the steam engine again.
At the last minute a German-built Ford sedan drove on. Harald knew the car: it belonged to Axel Flemming, owner of the island’s hotel. The Flemmings were hostile to Harald’s family. Axel Flemming felt he was the natural leader of the island community, a role which Pastor Olufsen believed to be his own, and the friction between the rival patriarchs affected all other family members. Harald wondered how Flemming had managed to get petrol for his car. He supposed anything was possible to the rich.
The sea was choppy and there were dark clouds in the western sky. A storm was coming in, but the fishermen said they would be home before it arrived, just. Harald took out a newspaper he had picked up in the town. Entitled Reality, it was an illegal publication, printed in defiance of the occupying power and given away free. The Danish police had not attempted to suppress it and the Germans seemed to regard it as beneath contempt. In Copenhagen, people read it openly on trains and streetcars. Here people were more discreet, and Harald folded it to hide the masthead while he read a report about the shortage of butter. Denmark produced millions of pounds of butter every year, but almost all of it was now sent to Germany, and Danes had trouble getting any. It was the kind of story that never appeared in the censored legitimate press.
The familiar flat shape of the island came closer. It was twelve miles long and a mile wide, with a village at each end. The fishermen’s cottages, and the church with its parsonage, constituted the older village at the south end. Also at the south end, a school of navigation, long disused, had been taken over by the Germans and turned into a military base. The hotel and the larger homes were at the north end. In between, the island was mostly sand dunes and scrub with a few trees and no hills, but all along the seaward side was a magnificent ten-mile beach.
Harald felt a few drops of rain as the ferry approached its dock at the north end of the island. The hotel’s horse-drawn taxi was waiting for the well-dressed couple. The fishermen were met by the wife of one of them driving a horse and cart. Harald decided to cross the island and drive home along the beach, which had hard-packed sand-in fact it had been used for speed trials of racing cars.
He was halfway from the dock to the hotel when he ran out of steam.
He was using the bike’s petrol tank as a water reserve, and he realized now that it was not big enough. He would have to get a five-gallon oil drum and put it in the sidecar. Meanwhile, he needed water to get him home.
There was only one house within sight, and unfortunately it was Axel Flemming’s. Despite their rivalry, the Olufsens and the Flemmings were on speaking terms: all members of the Flemming family came to church every Sunday and sat together at the front. Indeed, Axel was a deacon. All the same, Harald did not relish the thought of asking the antagonistic Flemmings for help. He considered walking a quarter of a mile to the next nearest house, then decided that would be foolish. With a sigh, he set off up the long drive.
Rather than knock at the front door, he went around the side of the house to the stables. He was pleased to see a manservant putting the Ford in the garage. “Hello, Gunnar,” said Harald. “Can I have some water?”
The man was friendly. “Help yourself,” he said. “There’s a tap in the yard.”
Harald found a bucket beside the tap and filled it. He went back to the road and poured the water into the tank. It looked as if he might manage to avoid meeting any of the family. But when he returned the bucket to the yard, Peter Flemming was there.
A tall, haughty man of thirty in a well-cut suit of oatmeal tweed, Peter was Axel’s son. Before the quarrel between the families, he had been best friends with Harald’s brother Arne, and in their teens they had been known as ladykillers, Arne seducing girls with his wicked charm and Peter by his cool sophistication. Peter now lived in Copenhagen but had come home for the holiday weekend, Harald assumed.
Peter was reading Reality. He looked up from the paper to see Harald. “What are you doing here?” he said.
“Hello, Peter, I came to get some water.”
“I suppose this rag is yours?”
Harald touched his pocket and realized with consternation that the newspaper must have fallen out when he reached down for the bucket.
Peter saw the movement and understood its meaning. “Obviously it is,” he said. “Are you aware that you could go to jail just for having it in your possession?”
The talk of jail was not an empty threat: Peter was a police detective. Harald said, “Everyone reads it in the city.” He made himself sound defiant, but in fact he was a little scared: Peter was mean enough to arrest him.
“This is not Copenhagen,” Peter intoned solemnly.
Harald knew that Peter would love the chance to disgrace an Olufsen. Yet he was hesitating. Harald thought he knew why. “You’ll look a fool if you arrest a schoolboy on Sande for doing something half the population does openly. Especially when everyone finds out you’ve got a grudge against my father.”
Peter was visibly torn between the desire to humiliate Harald and the fear of being laughed at. “No one is entitled to break the law,” he said.
“Whose law-ours, or the Germans’?”
“The law is the law.”
Harald felt more confident. Peter would not be arguing so defensively if he intended to make an arrest. “You only say that because your father makes so much money giving Nazis a good time at his hotel.”
That hit home. The hotel was popular with German officers, who had more to spend than the Danes. Peter flushed with anger. “While your father gives inflammatory sermons,” he retorted. It was true: the pastor had preached against the Nazis, his theme being “Jesus was a Jew.” Peter continued, “Does he realize how much trouble will be caused if he stirs people up?”
“I’m sure he does. The founder of the Christian religion was something of a troublemaker himself.”
“Don’t talk to me about religion. I have to keep order down here on earth.”
“To hell with order, we’ve been invaded!” Harald’s frustration over his blighted evening out boiled over. “What right have the Nazis got to tell us what to do? We should kick the whole evil pack of them out of our country!”
“You mustn’t hate the Germans, they’re our friends,” Peter said with an air of pious self-righteousness that maddened Harald.
“I don’t hate Germans, you damn fool, I’ve got German cousins.” The pastor’s sister had married a successful young Hamburg dentist who came to Sande on holiday, back in the twenties. Their daughter Monika was the first girl Harald had kissed. “They’ve suffered more from the Nazis than we have,” Harald added. Uncle Joachim was Jewish and, although he was a baptized Christian and an elder of his church, the Nazis had ruled that he could only treat Jews, thereby ruining his practice. A year ago he had been arrested on suspicion of hoarding gold and sent to a special kind of prison, called a Konzentrazionslager, in the small Bavarian town of Dachau.
“People bring trouble on themselves,” Peter said with a worldly-wise air. “Your father should never have allowed his sister to marry a Jew.” He threw the newspaper to the ground and walked away.
At first Harald was too taken aback to reply. He bent and picked up the newspaper. Then he said to Peter’s retreating back, “You’re starting to sound like a Nazi yourself.”
Ignoring him, Peter went in by a kitchen entrance and slammed the door.
Harald felt he had lost the argument, which was infuriating, because he knew that what Peter had said was outrageous.
It started to rain heavily as he headed back toward the road. When he returned to his bike, he found that the fire under the boiler had gone out.
He tried to relight it. He crumpled up his copy of Reality for kindling, and he had a box of good-quality wood matches in his pocket, but he had not brought with him the bellows he had used to start the fire earlier in the day. After twenty frustrating minutes bent over the firebox in the rain, he gave up. He would have to walk home.
He turned up the collar of his blazer.
He pushed the bike half a mile to the hotel and left it in the small car park, then set off along the beach. At this time of year, three weeks from the summer solstice, the Scandinavian evenings lasted until eleven o’clock; but tonight clouds darkened the sky and the pouring rain further restricted visibility. Harald followed the edge of dunes, finding his way by the feel of the ground underfoot and the sound of the sea in his right ear. Before long, his clothes were so soaked that he could have swum home without getting any wetter.
He was a strong young man, and as fit as a greyhound, but two hours later he was tired, cold, and miserable when he came up against the fence around the new German base and realized he would have to walk two miles around it in order to reach his home a few hundred yards away.
If the tide had been out, he would have continued along the beach for, although that stretch of sand was officially off limits, the guards would not have been able to see him in this weather. However, the tide was in, and the fence reached into the water. It crossed his mind to swim the last stretch, but he dismissed the idea immediately. Like everyone in this fishing community, Harald had a wary respect for the sea, and it would be dangerous to swim at night in this weather when he was already exhausted.
But he could climb the fence.
The rain had eased, and a quarter moon showed fitfully through racing clouds, intermittently shedding an uncertain light over the drenched landscape. Harald could see the chicken-wire fence six feet high with two strands of barbed wire at the top, formidable enough but no great obstacle to a determined person in good physical shape. Fifty yards inland, it passed through a copse of scrubby trees and bushes that hid it from view. That would be the place to get over.
He knew what lay beyond the fence. Last summer he had worked as a laborer on the building site. At that time, he had not known it was destined to be a military base. The builders, a Copenhagen firm, had told everyone it was to be a new coastguard station. They might have had trouble recruiting staff if they had told the truth-Harald for one would not knowingly have worked for the Nazis. Then, when the buildings were up and the fence had been completed, all the Danes had been sent away, and Germans had been brought in to install the equipment. But Harald knew the layout. The disused navigation school had been refurbished, and two new buildings put up either side of it. All the buildings were set back from the beach, so he could cross the base without going near them. In addition, much of the ground at this end of the site was covered with low bushes that would help conceal him. He would just have to keep an eye out for patrolling guards.
He found his way to the copse, climbed the fence, eased himself gingerly over the barbed wire at the top, and jumped down the other side, landing softly on the wet dunes. He looked around, peering through the gloom, seeing only the vague shapes of trees. The buildings were out of sight, but he could hear distant music and an occasional shout of laughter. It was Saturday night: perhaps the soldiers were having a few beers while their officers dined at Axel Flemming’s hotel.
He headed across the base, moving as fast as he dared in the shifting moonlight, staying close to bushes when he could, orienting himself by the waves on his right and the faint music to the left. He passed a tall structure and recognized it, in the dimness, as a searchlight tower. The whole area could be lit up in an emergency, but otherwise the base was blacked out.
A sudden burst of sound to his left startled him, and he crouched down, his heart beating faster. He looked over toward the buildings. A door stood open, spilling light. As he watched, a soldier came out and ran across the compound; then another door opened in a different building, and the soldier ran in.
Harald’s heartbeat eased.
He passed through a stand of conifers and went down into a dip. As he came to the bottom of the declivity, he saw a structure of some kind looming up in the murk. He could not make it out clearly, but he did not recall anything being built in this location. Coming closer, he saw a curved concrete wall about as high as his head. Above the wall something moved, and he heard a low hum, like an electric motor.
This must have been erected by the Germans after the local workers had been laid off. He wondered why he had never seen the structure from outside the fence, then realized that the trees and the dip in the ground would hide it from most viewpoints, except perhaps the beach-which was out of bounds where it passed the base.
When he looked up and tried to make out the details, rain drove into his face, stinging his eyes. But he was too curious to pass by. The moon shone bright for a moment. Squinting, he looked again. Above the circular wall he made out a grid of metal or wire like an oversize mattress, twelve feet on a side. The whole contraption was rotating like a merry-go-round, completing a revolution every few seconds.
Harald was fascinated. It was a machine of a kind he had never seen before, and the engineer in him was spellbound. What did it do? Why did it revolve? The sound told him little-that was just the motor that turned the thing. He felt sure it was not a gun, at least not the conventional kind, for there was no barrel. His best guess was that it was something to do with radio.
Nearby, someone coughed.
Harald reacted instinctively. He jumped, got his arms over the edge of the wall, and hauled himself up. He lay for a second on the narrow top, feeling dangerously conspicuous, then eased himself down on the inside. He worried that his feet might encounter moving machinery, but he felt almost sure there would be a walkway around the mechanism to allow engineers to service it, and after a tense moment he touched a concrete floor. The hum was louder, and he could smell engine oil. On his tongue was the peculiar taste of static electricity.
Who had coughed? He presumed a sentry was passing by. The man’s footsteps must have been lost in the wind and rain. Fortunately, the same noises had muffled the sound Harald made scrambling over the wall. But had the sentry seen him?
He flattened himself against the curved inside of the wall, breathing hard, waiting for the beam of a powerful flashlight to betray him. He wondered what would happen if he were caught. The Germans were amiable, out here in the countryside: most of them did not strut around like conquerors, but seemed almost embarrassed at being in charge. They would probably hand him over to the Danish police. He was not sure what line the cops would take. If Peter Flemming were part of the local force, he would make sure Harald suffered as much as possible; but he was based in Copenhagen, fortunately. What Harald dreaded, more than any official punishment, was his father’s anger. He could already hear the pastor’s sarcastic interrogation: “You climbed the fence? And entered the secret military compound? At night? And used it as a shortcut home? Because it was raining?”
But no light shone on Harald. He waited, and stared at the dark bulk of the apparatus in front of him. He thought he could see heavy cables coming from the lower edge of the grid and disappearing into the gloom on the far side of the pit. This had to be a means of sending radio signals, or receiving them, he thought.
When a few slow minutes had passed, he felt sure the guard had moved on. He clambered to the top of the wall and tried to see through the rain. On either side of the structure he could make out two smaller dark shapes, but they were static, and he decided they must be part of the machinery. No sentry was visible. He slid down the outside of the wall and set off once again across the dunes.
In a dark moment, when the moon was behind a thick cloud, he walked smack into a wooden wall. Shocked and momentarily scared, he let out a muffled curse. A second later he realized he had run into an old boathouse that had been used by the navigation school. It was derelict, and the Germans had not repaired it, apparently having no use for it. He stood still for a moment, listening, but all he could hear was his heart pounding. He walked on.
He reached the far fence without further incident. He scrambled over and headed for his home.
He came first to the church. Light glowed from the long row of small, square windows in its seaward wall. Surprised that anyone should be in the building at this hour on a Saturday night, he looked inside.
The church was long and low-roofed. On special occasions it could hold the island’s resident population of four hundred, but only just. Rows of seats faced a wooden lectern. There was no altar. The walls were bare except for some framed texts.
Danes were undogmatic about religion, and most of the nation subscribed to Evangelical Lutheranism. However, the fishing folk of Sande had been converted, a hundred years ago, to a harsher creed. For the last thirty years Harald’s father had kept their faith alight, setting an example of uncompromising puritanism in his own life, stiffening the resolve of his congregation in weekly brimstone sermons, and confronting backsliders personally with the irresistible holiness of his blue-eyed gaze. Despite the example of this blazing conviction, his son was not a believer. Harald went to services whenever he was at home, not wanting to hurt his father’s feelings, but in his heart he dissented. He had not yet made up his mind about religion in general, but he knew he did not believe in a god of petty rules and vengeful punishments.
As he looked through the window he heard music. His brother Arne was at the piano, playing a jazz tune with a delicate touch. Harald smiled with pleasure. Arne had come home for the holiday. He was amusing and sophisticated, and he would enliven the long weekend at the parsonage.
Harald walked to the entrance and stepped inside. Without looking around, Arne changed the music seamlessly to a hymn tune. Harald grinned. Arne had heard the door open and thought their father might be coming in. The pastor disapproved of jazz and certainly would not permit it to be played in his church. “It’s only me,” Harald said.
Arne turned around. He was wearing his brown army uniform. Ten years older than Harald, he was a flying instructor with the Army Aviation Troops, based at the flying school near Copenhagen. The Germans had halted all Danish military activity, and the aircraft were grounded most of the time, but the instructors were allowed to give lessons in gliders.
“Seeing you out of the corner of my eye, I thought you were the old man.” Arne looked Harald up and down fondly. “You look more and more like him.”
“Does that mean I’ll go bald?”
“I don’t think so. I take after Mother.”
It was true. Arne had their mother’s thick dark hair and hazel eyes. Harald was fair, like their father, and had also inherited the penetrating blue-eyed stare with which the pastor intimidated his flock. Both Harald and their father were formidably tall, making Arne seem short at an inch under six feet.
“I’ve got something to play you,” Harald said. Arne got off the stool and Harald sat at the piano. “I learned this from a record someone brought to school. You know Mads Kirke?”
“Cousin of my colleague Poul.”
“Right. He discovered this American pianist called Clarence Pine Top Smith.” Harald hesitated. “What’s the old man doing at this moment?”
“Writing tomorrow’s sermon.”
“Good.” The piano could not be heard from the parsonage, fifty yards away, and it was unlikely that the pastor would interrupt his preparation to take an idle stroll across to the church, especially in this weather. Harald began to play “Pine Top’s Boogie-Woogie,” and the room filled with the sexy harmonies of the American South. He was an enthusiastic pianist, though his mother said he had a heavy hand. He could not sit still to play, so he stood up, kicking the stool back, knocking it over, and played standing, bending his long frame over the keyboard. He made more mistakes this way, but they did not seem to matter as long as he kept up the compulsive rhythm. He banged out the last chord and said in English, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” just as Pine Top did on the record.
Arne laughed. “Not bad!”
“You should hear the original.”
“Come and stand in the porch. I want to smoke.”
Harald stood up. “The old man won’t like that.”
“I’m twenty-eight,” Arne said. “I’m too old to be told what to do by my father.”
“I agree-but does he?”
“Are you afraid of him?”
“Of course. So is Mother, and just about every other person on this island-even you.”
Arne grinned. “All right, maybe just a little bit.”
They stood outside the church door, sheltered from the rain by a little porch. On the far side of a patch of sandy ground they could see the dark shape of the parsonage. Light shone through the diamond-shaped window set into the kitchen door. Arne took out his cigarettes.
“Have you heard from Hermia?” Harald asked him. Arne was engaged to an English girl whom he had not seen for more than a year, since the Germans had occupied Denmark.
Arne shook his head. “I tried to write to her. I found an address for the British Consulate in Gothenburg.” Danes were allowed to send letters to Sweden, which was neutral. “I addressed it to her at that house, not mentioning the consulate on the envelope. I thought I’d been quite clever, but the censors aren’t so easily fooled. My commanding officer brought the letter back to me and said that if I ever tried anything like that again I’d be court-martialed.”
Harald liked Hermia. Some of Arne’s girlfriends had been, well, dumb blondes, but Hermia had brains and guts. She was a little scary on first acquaintance, with her dramatic dark looks and her direct manner of speech; but she had endeared herself to Harald by treating him like a man, not just someone’s kid brother. And she was sensationally voluptuous in a swimsuit. “Do you still want to marry her?”
“God, yes-if she’s alive. She might have been killed by a bomb in London.”
“It must be hard, not knowing.”
Arne nodded, then said, “How about you? Any action?”
Harald shrugged. “Girls my age aren’t interested in schoolboys.” He said it lightly, but he was hiding real resentment. He had suffered a couple of wounding rejections.
“I suppose they want to date a guy who can spend some money on them.”
“Exactly. And younger girls. . I met a girl at Easter, Birgit Claussen.”
“Claussen? The boatbuilding family in Morlunde?”
“Yes. She’s pretty, but she’s only sixteen, and she was so boring to talk to.”
“It’s just as well. The family are Catholics. The old man wouldn’t approve.”
“I know.” Harald frowned. “He’s strange, though. At Easter he preached about tolerance.”
“He’s about as tolerant as Vlad the Impaler.” Arne threw away the stub of his cigarette. “Let’s go and talk to the old tyrant.”
“Before we go in. .”
“How are things in the army?”
“Grim. We can’t defend our country, and most of the time I’m not allowed to fly.”
“How long can this go on?”
“Who knows? Maybe forever. The Nazis have won everything. There’s no opposition left but the British, and they’re hanging on by a thread.”
Harald lowered his voice, although there was no one to listen. “Surely someone in Copenhagen must be starting a Resistance movement?”
Arne shrugged. “If they were, and I knew about it, I couldn’t tell you, could I?” Then, before Harald could say more, Arne dashed through the rain toward the light shining from the kitchen.
Hermia Mount looked with dismay at her lunch-two charred sausages, a dollop of runny mashed potato, and a mound of overcooked cabbage-and she thought with longing of a bar on the Copenhagen waterfront that served three kinds of herring with salad, pickles, warm bread, and lager beer.
She had been brought up in Denmark. Her father had been a British diplomat who spent most of his career in Scandinavian countries. Hermia had worked in the British Embassy in Copenhagen, first as a secretary, later as assistant to a naval attache who was in fact with MI6, the secret intelligence service. When her father died, and her mother returned to London, Hermia stayed on, partly because of her job, but mainly because she was engaged to a Danish pilot, Arne Olufsen.
Then, on April 9, 1940, Hitler invaded Denmark. Four anxious days later, Hermia and a group of British officials had left in a special diplomatic train that brought them through Germany to the Dutch frontier, from where they traveled through neutral Holland and on to London.
Now at the age of thirty Hermia was an intelligence analyst in charge of MI6’s Denmark desk. Along with most of the service, she had been evacuated from its London headquarters at 54 Broadway, near Buckingham Palace, to Bletchley Park, a large country house on the edge of a village fifty miles north of the capital.
A Nissen hut hastily erected in the grounds served as canteen. Hermia was glad to be escaping the Blitz, but she wished that by some miracle they could also have evacuated one of London’s charming little Italian or French restaurants, so that she would have something to eat. She forked a little mash into her mouth and forced herself to swallow.
To take her mind off the taste of the food, she put today’s Daily Express beside her plate. The British had just lost the Mediterranean island of Crete. The Express tried to put a brave face on it, claiming the battle had cost Hitler eighteen thousand men, but the depressing truth was that this was another in a long line of triumphs for the Nazis.
Glancing up, she saw a short man of about her own age coming toward her, carrying a cup of tea, walking briskly but with a noticeable limp. “May I join you?” he said cheerfully, and sat opposite her without waiting for an answer. “I’m Digby Hoare. I know who you are.”
She raised an eyebrow and said, “Make yourself at home.”
The note of irony in her voice made no apparent impact. He just said, “Thanks.”
She had seen him around once or twice. He had an energetic air, despite his limp. He was no matinee idol, with his unruly dark hair, but he had nice blue eyes, and his features were pleasantly craggy in a Humphrey Bogart way. She asked him, “What department are you with?”
“I work in London, actually.”
That was not an answer to her question, she noted. She pushed her plate aside.
He said, “You don’t like the food?”
“I’ll tell you something. I’ve debriefed pilots who have been shot down over France and made their way home. We think we’re experiencing austerity, but we don’t know the meaning of the word. The Frogs are starving to death. After hearing those stories, everything tastes good to me.”
“Austerity is no excuse for vile cooking,” Hermia said crisply.
He grinned. “They told me you were a bit waspish.”
“What else did they tell you?”
“That you’re bilingual in English and Danish-which is why you’re head of the Denmark desk, I presume.”
“No. The war is the reason for that. Before, no woman ever rose above the level of secretary-assistant in MI6. We didn’t have analytical minds, you see. We were more suited to homemaking and child-rearing. But since war broke out, women’s brains have undergone a remarkable change, and we have become capable of work that previously could only be accomplished by the masculine mentality.”
He took her sarcasm with easy good humor. “I’ve noticed that, too,” he said. “Wonders never cease.”
“Why have you been checking up on me?”
“Two reasons. First, because you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” This time he was not grinning.
He had succeeded in surprising her. Men did not often say she was beautiful. Handsome, perhaps; striking, sometimes; imposing, often. Her face was a long oval, perfectly regular, but with severe dark hair, hooded eyes, and a nose too big to be pretty. She could not think of a witty rejoinder. “What’s the other reason?”
He glanced sideways. Two older women were sharing their table, and although they were chatting to each other, they were probably also half-listening to Digby and Hermia. “I’ll tell you in a minute,” he said. “Would you like to go out on the tiles?”
He had surprised her again. “What?”
“Will you go out with me?”
For a moment he seemed nonplussed. Then his grin returned, and he said, “Don’t sugar the pill, give it to me straight.”
She could not help smiling.
“We could go to the pictures,” he persisted. “Or to the Shoulder of Mutton Pub in Old Bletchley. Or both.”
She shook her head. “No, thank you,” she said firmly.
“Oh.” He seemed crestfallen.
Did he think she was turning him down because of his disability? She hastened to put that right. “I’m engaged,” she said. She showed him the ring on her left hand.
“I didn’t notice.”
“Men never do.”
“Who’s the lucky fellow?”
“A pilot in the Danish army.”
“Over there, I presume.”
“As far as I know. I haven’t heard from him for a year.”
The two ladies left the table, and Digby’s manner changed. His face turned serious and his voice became quiet but urgent. “Take a look at this, please.” He drew from his pocket a sheet of flimsy paper and handed it to her.
She had seen such flimsy sheets before, here at Bletchley Park. As she expected, it was a decrypt of an enemy radio signal.
“I imagine I’ve no need to tell you how desperately secret this is,” Digby said.
“I believe you speak German as well as Danish.”
She nodded. “In Denmark, all schoolchildren learn German, and English and Latin as well.” She studied the signal for a moment. “Information from Freya?”
“That’s what’s puzzling us. It’s not a word in German. I thought it might mean something in one of the Scandinavian languages.”
“It does, in a way,” she said. “Freya is a Norse goddess-in fact she’s the Viking Venus, the goddess of love.”
“Ah!” Digby looked thoughtful. “Well, that’s something, but it doesn’t get us far.”
“What’s this all about?”
“We’re losing too many bombers.”
Hermia frowned. “I read about the last big raid in the newspapers-they said it was a great success.”
Digby just looked at her.
“Oh, I see,” she said. “You don’t tell the newspapers the truth.”
He remained silent.
“In fact, my entire picture of the bombing campaign is mere propaganda,” she went on. “The truth is that it’s a complete disaster.” To her dismay, he still did not contradict her. “For heaven’s sake, how many aircraft did we lose?”
“Dear God.” Hermia looked away. Some of those pilots had fiancees, she thought. “But if this goes on. .”
She looked again at the decrypt. “Is Freya a spy?”
“It’s my job to find out.”
“What can I do?”
“Tell me more about the goddess.”
Hermia dug back into her memory. She had learned the Norse myths at school, but that was a long time ago. “Freya has a gold necklace that is very precious. It was given to her by four dwarves. It’s guarded by the watchman of the gods. . Heimdal, I think his name is.”
“A watchman. That makes sense.”
“Freya could be a spy with access to advance information about air raids.”
“She could also be a machine for detecting approaching aircraft before they come within sight.”
“I’ve heard that we have such machines, but I’ve no idea how they work.”
“Three possible ways: infrared, lidar, and radar. Infrared detectors would pick up the rays emitted by a hot aircraft engine, or possibly its exhaust. Lidar is a system of optical pulses sent out by the detection apparatus and reflected back off the aircraft. Radar is the same thing with radio pulses.”
“I’ve just remembered something else. Heimdal can see for a hundred miles by day or night.”
“That makes it sound more like a machine.”
“That’s what I was thinking.”
Digby finished his tea and stood up. “If you have any more thoughts, will you let me know?”
“Of course. Where do I find you?”
“Number Ten, Downing Street.”
“Oh!” She was impressed.
“Goodbye,” she said, and watched him walk away.
She sat there for a few moments. It had been an interesting conversation in more ways than one. Digby Hoare was very high-powered: the Prime Minister himself must be worried about the loss of bombers. Was the use of the code name Freya mere coincidence, or was there a Scandinavian connection?
She had enjoyed Digby’s asking her out. Although she was not interested in dating another man, it was nice to be asked.
After a while, the sight of her uneaten lunch began to get her down. She took her tray to the slops table and scraped her plate into the pigbin. Then she went to the ladies’ room.
While she was in a cubicle, she heard a group of young women come in, chattering animatedly. She was about to emerge when one of them said, “That Digby Hoare doesn’t waste time-talk about a fast worker.”
Hermia froze with her hand on the doorknob.
“I saw him move in on Miss Mount,” said an older voice. “He must be a tit man.”
The others giggled. In the cubicle, Hermia frowned at this reference to her generous figure.
“I think she gave him the brush-off, though,” said the first girl.
“Wouldn’t you? I couldn’t fancy a man with a wooden leg.”
A third girl spoke with a Scots accent. “I wonder if he takes it off when he shags you,” she said, and they all laughed.
Hermia had heard enough. She opened the door, stepped out, and said, “If I find out, I’ll let you know.”
The three girls were shocked into silence, and Hermia left before they had time to recover.
She stepped out of the wooden building. The wide green lawn, with its cedar trees and swan pond, had been disfigured by huts thrown up in haste to accommodate the hundreds of staff from London. She crossed the park to the house, an ornate Victorian mansion built of red brick.
She passed through the grand porch and made her way to her office in the old servants’ quarters, a tiny L-shaped space that had probably been the boot room. It had one small window too high to see out of, so she worked with the light on all day. There was a phone on her desk and a typewriter on a side table. Her predecessor had had a secretary, but women were expected to do their own typing. On her desk, she found a package from Copenhagen.
After Hitler’s invasion of Poland, she had laid the foundations of a small spy network in Denmark. Its leader was her fiance’s friend, Poul Kirke. He had put together a group of young men who believed that their small country was going to be overrun by its larger neighbor, and the only way to fight for freedom was to cooperate with the British. Poul had declared that the group, who called themselves the Nightwatchmen, would not be saboteurs or assassins, but would pass military information to British Intelligence. This achievement by Hermia-unique for a woman-had won her promotion to head of the Denmark desk.
The package contained some of the fruits of her foresight. There was a batch of reports, already decrypted for her by the code room, on German military dispositions in Denmark: army bases on the central island of Fyn; naval traffic in the Kattegat, the sea that separated Denmark from Sweden; and the names of senior German officers in Copenhagen.
Also in the package was a copy of an underground newspaper called Reality. The underground press was, so far, the only sign of resistance to the Nazis in Denmark. She glanced through it, reading an indignant article which claimed there was a shortage of butter because all of it was sent to Germany.
The package had been smuggled out of Denmark to a go-between in Sweden, who passed it to the MI6 man at the British Legation in Stockholm. With the package was a note from the go-between saying he had also passed a copy of Reality to the Reuters wire service in Stockholm. Hermia frowned at that. On the surface, it seemed a good idea to publicize news of conditions under the occupation, but she did not like agents mixing espionage with other work. Resistance action could attract the attention of the authorities to a spy who might otherwise work unnoticed for years.
Thinking about the Nightwatchmen reminded her painfully of her fiance. Arne was not one of the group. His character was all wrong. She loved him for his careless joie de vivre. He made her relax, especially in bed. But a happy-go-lucky man with no head for mundane detail was not the type for secret work. In her more honest moments, she admitted to herself that she was not sure he had the courage. He was a daredevil on the ski slopes-they had met on a Norwegian mountain, where Arne had been the only skier more proficient than Hermia-but she was not sure how he would face the more subtle terrors of undercover operations.
She had considered trying to send him a message via the Nightwatchmen. Poul Kirke worked at the flying school, and if Arne was still there they must see one another every day. It would have been shamefully unprofessional to use the spy network for a personal communication, but that did not stop her. She would have been found out for sure, because her messages had to be encrypted by the code room, but even that might not have deterred her. It was the danger to Arne that held her back. Secret messages could fall into enemy hands. The ciphers used by MI6 were unsophisticated poem codes left over from peacetime, and could be broken easily. If Arne’s name appeared in a message from British intelligence to Danish spies, he would probably lose his life. Hermia’s inquiry about him could turn into his death warrant. So she sat in her boot room with acid anxiety burning inside her.
She composed a message to the Swedish go-between, telling him to keep out of the propaganda war and stick to his job as courier. Then she typed a report to her boss containing all the military information in the package, with carbon copies to other departments.
At four o’clock she left. She had more work to do, and she would return for a couple of hours this evening, but now she had to meet her mother for tea.
Margaret Mount lived in a small house in Chelsea. After Hermia’s father had died of cancer in his late forties, her mother had set up home with an unmarried school friend, Elizabeth. They called each other Mags and Bets, their adolescent nicknames. Today the two had come by train to Bletchley to inspect Hermia’s lodgings.
She walked quickly through the village to the street where she rented a room. She found Mags and Bets in the parlor talking to her landlady, Mrs. Bevan. Hermia’s mother was wearing her ambulance driver’s uniform, with trousers and a cap. Bets was a pretty woman of fifty in a flowered dress with short sleeves. Hermia hugged her mother and gave Bets a kiss on the cheek. She and Bets had never become close, and Hermia sometimes suspected Bets was jealous of her closeness to her mother.
Hermia took them upstairs. Bets looked askance at the drab little room with its single bed, but Hermia’s mother said heartily, “Well, this isn’t bad, for wartime.”
“I don’t spend much time here,” Hermia lied. In fact she spent long, lonely evenings reading and listening to the radio.
She lit the gas ring to make tea and sliced up a small cake she had bought for the occasion.
Mother said, “I don’t suppose you’ve heard from Arne?”
“No. I wrote to him via the British Legation in Stockholm, and they forwarded the letter, but I never heard back, so I don’t know whether he got it.”
Bets said, “I wish I’d met him. What’s he like?”
Falling in love with Arne had been like skiing downhill, Hermia thought: a little push to get started, a sudden increase in speed, and then, before she was quite ready, the exhilarating feeling of hurtling down the piste at a breakneck pace, unable to stop. But how to explain that? “He looks like a movie star, he’s a wonderful athlete, and he has the charm of an Irishman, but that’s not it,” Hermia said. “It’s just so easy to be with him. Whatever happens, he just laughs. I get angry sometimes-though never at him-and he smiles at me and says, ‘There’s no one like you, Hermia, I swear.’ Dear God, I do miss him.” She fought back tears.
Her mother said briskly: “Plenty of men have fallen in love with you, but there aren’t many who can put up with you.” Mags’s conversational style was as unadorned as Hermia’s own. “You should have nailed his foot to the floor while you had the chance.”
Hermia changed the subject and asked them about the Blitz. Bets spent air raids under the kitchen table, but Mags drove her ambulance through the bombs. Hermia’s mother had always been a formidable woman, somewhat too direct and tactless for a diplomat’s wife, but war had brought out her strength and courage, just as a secret service suddenly short of men had allowed Hermia to flourish. “The Luftwaffe can’t keep this up indefinitely,” said Mags. “They don’t have an unending supply of aircraft and pilots. If our bombers keep pounding German industry, it must have an effect eventually.”
Bets said, “Meanwhile, innocent German women and children are suffering just as we do.”
“I know, but that’s what war is about,” said Mags.
Hermia recalled her conversation with Digby Hoare. People like Mags and Bets imagined that the British bombing campaign was undermining the Nazis. It was a good thing they had no inkling that half the bombers were being shot down. If people knew the truth they might give up.
Mags began to tell a long story about rescuing a dog from a burning building, and Hermia listened with half an ear, thinking about Digby. If Freya was a machine, and the Germans were using it to defend their borders, it might well be in Denmark. Was there anything she could do to investigate? Digby had said the machine might emit some kind of beam, either optical pulses or radio waves. Such emissions ought to be detectable. Perhaps her Nightwatchmen could do something.
She began to feel excited about the idea. She could send a message to the Nightwatchmen. But first, she needed more information. She would start work on it tonight, she decided, as soon as she had seen Mags and Bets back onto their train.
She began to feel impatient for them to go. “More cake, Mother?” she said.
Jansborg Skole was three hundred years old, and proud of it.
Originally the school had consisted of a church and one house where the boys ate, slept, and had lessons. Now it was a complex of old and new redbrick buildings. The library, at one time the finest in Denmark, was a separate building as large as the church. There were science laboratories, modern dormitories, an infirmary, and a gym in a converted barn.
Harald Olufsen was walking from the refectory to the gym. It was twelve noon, and the boys had just finished lunch-a make-it-yourself open sandwich with cold pork and pickles, the same meal that had been served every Wednesday throughout the seven years he had attended the school.
He thought it was stupid to be proud that the institution was old. When teachers spoke reverently of the school’s history, he was reminded of old fishermen’s wives on Sande who liked to say, “I’m over seventy now,” with a coy smile, as if it were some kind of achievement.
As he passed the headmaster’s house, the head’s wife came out and smiled at him. “Good morning, Mia,” he said politely. The head was always called Heis, the Ancient Greek word for the number one, so his wife was Mia, the feminine form of the same Greek word. The school had stopped teaching Greek five years ago, but traditions died hard.
“Any news, Harald?” she asked.
Harald had a homemade radio that could pick up the BBC. “The Iraqi rebels have been defeated,” he said. “The British have entered Baghdad.”
“A British victory,” she said. “That makes a change.”
Mia was a plain woman with a homely face and lifeless brown hair, always dressed in shapeless clothes, but she was one of only two women at the school, and the boys constantly speculated about what she looked like naked. Harald wondered if he would ever stop being obsessed with sex. Theoretically, he believed that after sleeping with your wife every night for years you must get used to it, and even become bored, but he just could not imagine it.
The next lesson should have been two hours of maths, but today there was a visitor. He was Svend Agger, an old boy of the school who now represented his hometown in the Rigsdag, the nation’s parliament. The entire school was to hear him speak in the gym, the only room big enough to hold all 120 boys. Harald would have preferred to do maths.
He could not remember the precise moment when schoolwork had become interesting. As a small boy, he had regarded every lesson as an infuriating distraction from important business such as damming streams and building tree houses. Around the age of fourteen, almost without noticing it, he had begun to find physics and chemistry more exciting than playing in the woods. He had been thrilled to discover that the inventor of quantum physics was a Danish scientist, Niels Bohr. Bohr’s interpretation of the periodic table of the elements, explaining chemical reactions by the atomic structure of the elements involved, seemed to Harald a divine revelation, a fundamental and deeply satisfying account of what the universe was made of. He worshipped Bohr the way other boys adored Kaj Hansen-“Little Kaj”-the soccer hero who played inside forward for the team known as B93 Kobenhavn. Harald had applied to study physics at the University of Copenhagen, where Bohr was director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics.
Education cost money. Fortunately Harald’s grandfather, seeing his own son enter a profession that would keep him poor all his life, had provided for his grandsons. His legacy had paid for Arne and Harald to go to Jansborg Skole. It would also finance Harald’s time at university.
He entered the gym. The younger boys had put out benches in neat rows. Harald sat at the back, next to Josef Duchwitz. Josef was very small, and his surname sounded like the English word “duck,” so he had been nicknamed Anaticula, the Latin word for a duckling. Over the years it had got shortened to Tik. The two boys had very different backgrounds-Tik was from a wealthy Jewish family-yet they had been close friends all through school.
A few moments later, Mads Kirke sat next to Harald. Mads was in the same year. He came from a distinguished military family: his grandfather a general, his late father a defense minister in the thirties. His cousin Poul was a pilot with Arne at the flying school.
The three friends were science students. They were usually together, and they looked comically different-Harald tall and blond, Tik small and dark, Mads a freckled redhead-so that when a witty English master had referred to them as the Three Stooges, the nickname had stuck.
Heis, the head teacher, came in with the visitor, and the boys stood up politely. Heis was tall and thin with glasses perched on the bridge of a beaky nose. He had spent ten years in the army, but it was easy to see why he had switched to school teaching. A mild-mannered man, he seemed apologetic about being in authority. He was liked rather than feared. The boys obeyed him because they did not want to hurt his feelings.
When they had sat down again, Heis introduced the parliamentary deputy, a small man so unimpressive that anyone would have thought he was the schoolteacher and Heis the distinguished guest. Agger began to talk about the German occupation.
Harald remembered the day it had begun, fourteen months ago. He had been woken up in the middle of the night by aircraft roaring overhead. The Three Stooges had gone up on the roof of the dormitory to watch but, after a dozen or so aircraft had passed over, nothing else happened, so they went back to bed.
He had learned no more until morning. He had been brushing his teeth in the communal bathroom when a teacher had rushed in and said, “The Germans have landed!” After breakfast, at eight o’clock when the boys assembled in the gym for the morning song and announcements, the head had told them the news. “Go to your rooms and destroy anything that might indicate opposition to the Nazis or sympathy with Britain,” he had said. Harald had taken down his favorite poster, a picture of a Tiger Moth biplane with RAF roundels on its wings.
Later that day-a Tuesday-the older boys had been detailed to fill sandbags and carry them to the church to cover the priceless ancient carvings and sarcophagi. Behind the altar was the tomb of the school’s founder, his stone likeness lying in state, dressed in medieval armor with an eye-catchingly large codpiece. Harald had caused great amusement by mounting a sandbag end-up on the protrusion. Heis had not appreciated the joke, and Harald’s punishment had been to spend the afternoon moving paintings to the crypt for safety.
All the precautions had been unnecessary. The school was in a village outside Copenhagen, and it was a year before they saw any Germans. There had never been any bombing or even gunfire.
Denmark had surrendered within twenty-four hours. “Subsequent events have shown the wisdom of that decision,” said the speaker with irritating smugness, and there was a susurration of dissent as the boys shifted uncomfortably in their seats and muttered comments.
“Our king continues on his throne,” Agger went on. Next to Harald, Mads grunted disgustedly. Harald shared Mads’s annoyance. King Christian X rode out on horseback most days, showing himself to the people on the streets of Copenhagen, but it seemed an empty gesture.
“The German presence has been, on the whole, benign,” the speaker went on. “Denmark has proved that a partial loss of independence, due to the exigencies of war, need not necessarily lead to undue hardship and strife. The lesson, for boys such as yourselves, is that there may be more honor in submission and obedience than in ill-considered rebellion.” He sat down.
Heis clapped politely, and the boys followed suit, though without enthusiasm. If the head had been a shrewder judge of an audience’s mood, he would have ended the session then; but instead he smiled and said, “Well, boys, any questions for our guest?”
Mads was on his feet in an instant. “Sir, Norway was invaded on the same day as Denmark, but the Norwegians fought for two months. Doesn’t that make us cowards?” His tone was scrupulously polite, but the question was challenging, and there was a rumble of agreement from the boys.
“A naive view,” Agger said. His dismissive tone angered Harald.
Heis intervened. “Norway is a land of mountains and fjords, difficult to conquer,” he said, bringing his military expertise to bear. “Denmark is a flat country with a good road system-impossible to defend against a large motorized army.”
Agger added, “To put up a fight would have caused unnecessary bloodshed, and the end result would have been no different.”
Mads said rudely, “Except that we would have been able to walk around with our heads held high, instead of hanging them in shame.” It sounded to Harald like something he might have heard at home from his military relations.
Agger colored. “The better part of valor is discretion, as Shakespeare wrote.”
Mads said, “In fact, sir, that was said by Falstaff, the most famous coward in world literature.” The boys laughed and clapped.
“Now, now, Kirke,” said Heis mildly. “I know you feel strongly about this, but there’s no need for discourtesy.” He looked around the room and pointed to one of the younger boys. “Yes, Borr.”
“Sir, don’t you think Herr Hitler’s philosophy of national pride and racial purity could be beneficial if adopted here in Denmark?” Woldemar Borr was the son of a prominent Danish Nazi.
“Elements of it, perhaps,” Agger said. “But Germany and Denmark are different countries.” That was plain prevarication, Harald thought angrily. Couldn’t the man find the guts to say that racial persecution was wrong?
Heis said plaintively, “Would any boy like to ask Mr. Agger about his everyday work as a member of the Rigsdag, perhaps?”
Tik stood up. Agger’s self-satisfied tone had irritated him, too. “Don’t you feel like a puppet?” he said. “After all, it’s the Germans who really rule us. You’re just pretending.”
“Our nation continues to be governed by our Danish parliament,” Agger replied.
Tik muttered, “Yes, so you get to keep your job.” The boys nearby heard him and laughed.
“The political parties remain-even the Communists,” Agger went on. “We have our own police, and our armed forces.”
“But the minute the Rigsdag does something the Germans disapprove of, it will be closed down, and the police and the military will be disarmed,” Tik argued. “So you’re acting in a farce.”
Heis began to look annoyed. “Remember your manners, please, Duchwitz,” he said peevishly.
“That’s all right, Heis,” said Agger. “I like a lively discussion. If Duchwitz thinks our parliament is useless, he should compare our circumstances with those prevailing in France. Because of our policy of cooperation with the Germans, life is a great deal better, for ordinary Danish people, than it might be.”
Harald had heard enough. He stood up and spoke without waiting for permission from Heis. “And what if the Nazis come for Duchwitz?” he said. “Will you advise friendly cooperation then?”
“And why should they come for Duchwitz?”
“The same reason they came for my uncle in Hamburg-because he’s a Jew.”
Some of the boys looked around with interest. They probably had not realized Tik was Jewish. The Duchwitz family were not religious, and Tik went along to services in the ancient redbrick church just like everyone else.
Agger showed irritation for the first time. “The occupying forces have demonstrated complete tolerance toward Danish Jews.”
“So far,” Harald argued. “But what if they change their minds? Suppose they decide that Tik is just as Jewish as my uncle Joachim? What is your advice to us then? Shall we stand aside while they march in and seize him? Or should we now be organizing a Resistance movement in preparation for that day?”
“Your best plan is to make sure you are never faced with such a decision, by supporting the policy of cooperation with the occupying power.”
The smooth evasiveness of the answer maddened Harald. “But what if that doesn’t work?” he persisted. “Why won’t you answer the question? What do we do when the Nazis come for our friends?”
Heis put in, “You’re asking what’s called a hypothetical question, Olufsen,” he said. “Men in public life prefer not to meet trouble halfway.”
“The question is how far his policy of cooperation will go,” Harald said hotly. “And there won’t be time for debate when they bang on your door in the middle of the night, Heis.”
For a moment, Heis looked ready to reprimand Harald for rudeness, but in the end he answered mildly. “You’ve made an interesting point, and Mr. Agger has answered it quite thoroughly,” he said. “Now, I think we’ve had a good discussion, and it’s time to go back to our lessons. But first, let’s thank our guest for taking the time out of his busy life to come and visit us.” He raised his hands to lead a round of applause.
Harald stopped him. “Make him answer the question!” he shouted. “Should we have a Resistance movement, or will we let the Nazis do anything they like? For God’s sake, what lessons could be more important than this?”
The room went quiet. Arguing with the staff was permitted, within reason, but Harald had crossed the line into defiance.
“I think you’d better leave us,” Heis said. “Off you go, and I’ll see you afterward.”
This made Harald furious. Boiling with frustration, he stood up. The room remained silent as all the boys watched him walk to the door. He knew he should leave quietly, but he could not bring himself to do it. He turned at the door and pointed an accusing finger at Heis. “You won’t be able to tell the Gestapo to leave the damn room!” he said.
Then he went out and slammed the door.
Peter Flemming’s alarm clock went off at half past five in the morning. He silenced it, turned on the light, and sat upright in bed. Inge was lying on her back, eyes open, staring at the ceiling, as expressionless as a corpse. He looked at her for a moment, then got up.
He went into the little kitchen of their Copenhagen apartment and turned on the radio. A Danish reporter was reading a sentimental statement by the Germans about the death of Admiral Lutjens, who had gone down with the Bismarck ten days ago. Peter put a small pot of oatmeal on the stove, then laid a tray. He buttered a slice of rye bread and made ersatz coffee.
He felt optimistic, and after a moment he recalled why. Yesterday there had been a break in the case he was working on.
He was a detective-inspector in the security unit, a section of the Copenhagen criminal investigation department whose job was to keep tabs on union organizers, communists, foreigners, and other potential troublemakers. His boss, the head of the department, was superintendent Frederik Juel, clever but lazy. Educated at the famous Jansborg Skole, Juel was fond of the Latin proverb Quieta non movere, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” He was descended from a hero of Danish naval history, but the aggression had long been bred out of his line.
In the past fourteen months their work had expanded, as opponents of German rule had been added to the department’s watch list.
So far the only outward sign of resistance had been the appearance of underground newspapers such as Reality, the one the Olufsen boy had dropped. Juel believed the illegal newspapers were harmless, if not actually beneficial as a safety valve, and refused to pursue the publishers. This attitude infuriated Peter. Leaving criminals at large, to continue their offenses, seemed madness to him.
The Germans did not really like Juel’s laissez-faire attitude, but so far they had not pushed the matter to a confrontation. Juel’s liaison with the occupying power was General Walter Braun, a career soldier who had lost a lung in the battle of France. Braun’s aim was to keep Denmark tranquil at all costs. He would not overrule Juel unless forced to.
Recently Peter had learned that copies of Reality were being smuggled to Sweden. Until now, he had been obliged to abide by his boss’s hands-off rule, but he hoped Juel’s complacency would be shaken by the news that the papers were finding their way out of the country. Last night, a Swedish detective who was a personal friend of Peter’s had called to say he thought the paper was being carried on a Lufthansa flight from Berlin to Stockholm that stopped at Copenhagen. That was the breakthrough that accounted for Peter’s feeling of excitement when he woke up. He could be on the brink of a triumph.
When the oatmeal was ready, he added milk and sugar then took the tray into the bedroom.
He helped Inge sit upright. He tasted the oatmeal to make sure it was not too hot, then began to feed her with a spoon.
A year ago, just before petrol restrictions came in, Peter and Inge had been driving to the beach when a young man in a new sports car had crashed into them. Peter had broken both his legs and recovered rapidly. Inge had smashed her skull, and she would never be the same.
The other driver, Finn Jonk, the son of a well-known university professor, had been thrown clear and landed in a bush, unharmed.
He had no driving license-it had been taken from him by the courts after a previous accident-and he had been drunk. But the Jonk family had hired a top lawyer who had succeeded in delaying the trial for a year, so Finn still had not been punished for destroying Inge’s mind. The personal tragedy, for Inge and Peter, was also an example of the disgraceful way crimes could go unpunished in modern society. Whatever you might say against the Nazis, they were gratifyingly tough on criminals.
When Inge had eaten her breakfast, Peter took her to the toilet, then bathed her. She had always been scrupulously neat and clean. It was one of the things he had loved about her. She was especially clean about sex, always washing carefully afterward-something he appreciated. Not all girls were like that. One woman he had slept with, a nightclub singer he had met during a raid and had a brief affair with, had objected to his washing himself after sex, saying it was unromantic.
Inge showed no reaction as he bathed her. He had learned to be equally unmoved, even when he touched the most intimate parts of her body. He dried her soft skin with a big towel, then dressed her. The most difficult part was putting her stockings on. First he rolled the stocking, leaving only the toe sticking out. Then he carefully eased it over her foot and unrolled it up her calf and over her knee, finally fastening the top to the clips of the garter belt. When he started doing this he had put runs in them every time, but he was a persistent man, and could be very patient when he had his mind set on achieving something; and now he was expert.
He helped her into a cheerful yellow cotton dress, then added a gold wristwatch and bracelet. She could not tell the time, but he sometimes thought she came near to smiling when she saw jewelry glinting on her wrists.
When he had brushed her hair, they both looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was a pretty, pale blonde, and before the accident she had had a flirtatious smile and a coy way of fluttering her eyelashes. Now her face was blank.
On their Whitsun visit to Sande, Peter’s father had tried to persuade him to put Inge into a private nursing home. Peter could not afford the fees, but Axel was willing to pay. He said he wanted Peter to be free, though the truth was he was desperate for a grandson to bear his name. However, Peter felt it was his duty to take care of his wife. For him, duty was the most important of a man’s obligations. If he shirked it, he would lose his self-respect.
He took Inge to the living room and sat her by the window. He left the radio playing music at low volume, then returned to the bathroom.
The face in his shaving mirror was regular and well proportioned. Inge had used to say he looked like a film star. Since the accident he had noticed a few gray hairs in his red morning stubble, and there were lines of weariness around the orange-brown eyes. But there was a proud look in the set of his head, and an immovable rectitude in the straight line of his lips.
When he had shaved, he tied his tie and strapped on his shoulder holster with the standard issue Walther 7.65mm pistol, the smaller seven-round “PPK” version designed as a concealed weapon for detectives. Then he stood in the kitchen and ate three slices of dry bread, saving the scarce butter for Inge.
The nurse was supposed to come at eight o’clock.
Between eight and five past Peter’s mood changed. He began to pace up and down the little hallway of the apartment. He lit a cigarette then crushed it out impatiently. He looked at his wristwatch every few seconds.
Between five and ten past he became angry. Did he not have enough to cope with? He combined caring for his helpless wife with a taxing and highly responsible job as a police detective. The nurse had no right to let him down.
When she rang the doorbell at eight-fifteen, he threw open the door and shouted, “How dare you be late?”
She was a plump girl of nineteen, wearing a carefully pressed uniform, her hair neatly arranged under her nurse’s cap, her round face lightly made up. She was shocked by his anger. “I’m sorry,” she said.
He stood aside to let her in. He felt a strong temptation to strike her, and she obviously sensed this, for she hurried past him nervously.
He followed her into the living room. “You had time to do your hair and makeup,” he said angrily.
“I said I’m sorry.”
“Don’t you realize that I have a very demanding job? You’ve got nothing on your mind more important than walking with boys in the Tivoli Garden-yet you can’t even get to work on time!”
She looked nervously at his gun in the shoulder holster, as if she was afraid he was going to shoot her. “The bus was late,” she said in a shaky voice.
“Get an earlier bus, you lazy cow!”
“Oh!” She looked about to cry.
Peter turned away, fighting an urge to slap her fat face. If she walked out, he would be in worse trouble. He put on his jacket and went to the door. “Don’t you ever be late again!” he shouted. Then he left the apartment.
Outside the building he jumped onto a tram heading for the city center. He lit a cigarette and smoked in rapid puffs, trying to calm himself. He was still angry when he got off outside the Politigaarden, the daringly modern police headquarters, but the sight of the building soothed him: its squat shape gave a reassuring impression of strength, its blindingly white stone spoke of purity, and its rows of identical windows symbolized order and the predictability of justice. He passed through the dark vestibule. Hidden in the center of the building was a large open courtyard, circular, with a ring of double pillars marking a sheltered walkway like the cloisters of a monastery. Peter crossed the courtyard and entered his section.
He was greeted by Detective Constable Tilde Jespersen, one of a handful of women in the Copenhagen force. The young widow of a policeman, she was as tough and smart as any cop in the department. Peter often used her for surveillance work, a role in which a woman was less likely to arouse suspicion. She was rather attractive, with blue eyes and fair curly hair and the kind of small, curvy figure that women would call too fat but men thought just right. “Bus delayed?” she said sympathetically.
“No. Inge’s nurse turned up a quarter of an hour late. Empty-headed flibbertigibbet.”
“I’m afraid so. General Braun is with Juel. They want to see you as soon as you get here.”
That was bad luck: a visit from Braun on the day Peter was late. “Damn nurse,” he muttered, and headed for Juel’s office.
Juel’s upright carriage and piercing blue eyes would have suited his naval namesake. He spoke German as a courtesy to Braun. All educated Danes could get by in German, and English as well. “Where have you been, Flemming?” he said to Peter. “We are waiting.”
“I apologize,” Peter replied in the same language. He did not give the reason for his lateness: excuses were undignified.
General Braun was in his forties. He had probably been handsome once, but the explosion that destroyed his lung had also taken away part of his jaw, and the right side of his face was deformed. Perhaps because of his damaged appearance, he always wore an immaculate field service uniform, complete with high boots and holstered pistol.
He was courteous and reasonable in conversation. His voice was a soft near-whisper. “Take a look at this, if you would, Inspector Flemming,” he said. He had spread several newspapers on Juel’s desk, all folded open to show a particular report. It was the same story in each newspaper, Peter saw: an account of the butter shortage in Denmark, blaming the Germans for taking it all. The newspapers were the Toronto Globe and Mail, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Also on the table was the Danish underground newspaper Reality, badly printed and amateur-looking beside the legitimate publications, but containing the original story the others had copied. It was a small triumph of propaganda.
Juel said, “We know most of the people who produce these homemade newspapers.” He spoke in a tone of languid assurance that irritated Peter. You might imagine, from his manner, that it was he, not his famous ancestor, who had defeated the Swedish navy at the battle of Koge Bay. “We could pick them all up, of course. But I’d rather leave them alone and keep an eye on them. Then, if they do something serious like blowing up a bridge, we’ll know who to arrest.”
Peter thought that was stupid. They should be arrested now, to stop them blowing up bridges. But he had had this argument with Juel before, so he clamped his teeth together and said nothing.
Braun said, “That might have been acceptable when their activities were confined to Denmark. But this story has gone all over the world! Berlin is furious. And the last thing we need is a clampdown. We’ll have the damned Gestapo stamping all over town in their jackboots, stirring up trouble and throwing people in jail, and God knows where it will end.”
Peter was gratified. The news was having the effect he wanted. “I’m already working on this,” he said. “All these American newspapers got the story from the Reuters wire service, which picked it up in Stockholm. I believe the Reality newspaper is being smuggled out to Sweden.”
“Good work!” said Braun.
Peter stole a glance at Juel, who looked angry. So he should. Peter was a better detective than his boss, and incidents such as this proved it. Two years ago, when the post of head of the security unit had fallen vacant, Peter had applied for the job, but Juel had got it. Peter was a few years younger than Juel, but had more successful cases to his credit. However, Juel belonged to a smug metropolitan elite who had all gone to the same schools, and Peter was sure they conspired to keep the best jobs for themselves and hold back talented outsiders.
Now Juel said, “But how could the newspaper be smuggled out? All packages are inspected by the censors.”
Peter hesitated. He had wanted to get confirmation before revealing what he suspected. His information from Sweden could be wrong. However, Braun was right here in front of him, pawing the earth and champing at the bit, and this was not the moment to equivocate. “I’ve had a tip. Last night I spoke to a detective friend in Stockholm who has been discreetly asking questions at the wire service office. He thinks the newspaper comes on the Lufthansa flight from Berlin to Stockholm that stops here.”
Braun nodded excitedly. “So if we search every passenger boarding the flight here in Copenhagen, we should find the latest edition.”
“Does the flight go today?”
Peter’s heart sank. This was not the way he worked. He preferred to verify information before rushing into a raid. But he was grateful for Braun’s aggressive attitude-a pleasing contrast with Juel’s laziness and caution. Anyway, he could not hold back the avalanche of Braun’s eagerness. “Yes, in a few hours,” he said, hiding his misgivings.
“Then let’s get moving!”
Haste could ruin everything. Peter could not let Braun take charge of the operation. “May I make a suggestion, General?”
“We must act discreetly, to avoid forewarning our culprit. Let’s assemble a team of detectives and German officers, but keep them here at headquarters until the last minute. Allow the passengers to assemble for the flight before we move in. I’ll go alone to Kastrup aerodrome to make arrangements quietly. When the passengers have checked their baggage, the aircraft has landed and refueled, and they’re about to board, it will be too late for anyone to slip away unnoticed-and then we can pounce.”
Braun smiled knowingly. “You’re afraid that a lot of Germans marching around would give the game away.”
“Not at all, sir,” Peter said with a straight face. When the occupiers made fun of themselves it was not wise to join in. “It will be important for you and your men to accompany us, in case there is any need to question German citizens.”
Braun’s face stiffened, his self-deprecating sally rebuffed. “Quite so,” he said. He went to the door. “Call me at my office when your team is ready to depart.” He left.
Peter was relieved. At least he had regained control. His only worry was that Braun’s enthusiasm might have forced him to move too soon.
“Well done, for tracing the smuggling route,” Juel said condescendingly. “Good detective work. But it would have been tactful to tell me before you told Braun.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” Peter said. In fact it would not have been possible: Juel had already left for the day when the Swedish detective had called last night. But Peter did not make the excuse.
“All right,” Juel said. “Put together a squad and send them to me for briefing. Then go to the aerodrome and phone me when the passengers are ready to board.”
Peter left Juel’s room and returned to Tilde’s desk in the main office. She was wearing a jacket, blouse, and skirt in different shades of light blue, like a girl in a French painting. “How did it go?” she asked.
“I was late, but I made up for it.”
“There’s a raid on at the aerodrome this morning,” he told her. He knew which detectives he wanted with him. “I’ll take Bent Conrad, Peder Dresler, and Knut Ellegard.” Detective Sergeant Conrad was enthusiastically pro-German. Detective Constables Dresler and Ellegard had no strong political or patriotic feelings, but were conscientious policemen who took orders and did a thorough job. “And I’d like you to come along, too, if you would, in case there are female suspects to be searched.”
“Juel will brief you all. I’m going ahead to Kastrup.” Peter went to the door, then turned back. “How’s little Stig?” Tilde had a son six years old, looked after by his grandmother during the working day.
She smiled. “He’s fine. His reading is coming along fast.”
“He’ll be chief of police one day.”
Her face darkened. “I don’t want him to be a cop.”
Peter nodded. Tilde’s husband had been killed in a shootout with a gang of smugglers. “I understand.”
She added defensively, “Would you want your son to do this job?”
He shrugged. “I don’t have any children, and I’m not likely to.”
She gave him an enigmatic look. “You don’t know what the future holds.”
“True.” He turned away. He did not want to start that discussion on a busy day. “I’ll call in.”
Peter took one of the police department’s unmarked black Buicks, recently equipped with two-way radio. He drove out of the city and across a bridge to the island of Amager, where Kastrup aerodrome was located. It was a sunny day, and from the road he could see people on the beach.
He looked like a businessman or lawyer in his conservative chalk-stripe suit and discreetly patterned tie. He did not have a briefcase, but for verisimilitude he had brought with him a file folder, filled with papers taken from a wastebasket.
He felt anxious as he approached the aerodrome. If he could have had another day or two, he might have been able to establish whether every flight carried illegal packages, or only some. There was a maddening possibility that today he might find nothing, but his raid would alert the subversive group, and they might change to a different route. Then he would have to start again.
The aerodrome was a scatter of low buildings on one side of a single runway. It was heavily guarded by German troops, but civilian flights continued to be operated by the Danish airline, DDL, and the Swedish ABA, as well as Lufthansa.
Peter parked outside the office of the airport controller. He told the secretary he was from the government’s Aviation Safety Department, and was admitted instantly. The controller, Christian Varde, was a small man with a salesman’s ready smile. Peter showed his police card. “There will be a special security check on the Lufthansa flight to Stockholm today,” he said. “It has been authorized by General Braun, who will be arriving shortly. We must get everything ready.”
A frightened look came over the face of the manager. He reached for the phone on his desk, but Peter covered the instrument with his own hand. “No,” he said. “Please do not forewarn anyone. Do you have a list of passengers expected to board the flight here?”
“My secretary does.”
“Ask her to bring it in.”
Varde called his secretary and she brought a sheet of paper. He gave it to Peter.
Peter said, “Is the flight coming in on time from Berlin?”
“Yes.” Varde checked his watch. “It should land in forty-five minutes.”
That was enough time, just.
It would simplify Peter’s task if he had to search only those passengers joining the flight in Denmark. “I want you to call the pilot and say that no one will be permitted to deplane at Kastrup today. That includes passengers and crew.”
He looked at the list the secretary had brought. There were four names: two Danish men, a Danish woman, and a German man. “Where are the passengers now?”
“They should be checking in.”
“Take their baggage, but do not load it onto the aircraft until it has been searched by my men.”
“The passengers, too, will be searched before they board. Is anything else loaded here, in addition to passengers and their luggage?”
“Coffee and sandwiches for the flight, and a bag of mail. And the fuel, of course.”
“The food and drink must be examined, and the mailbag. One of my men will observe the refueling.”
“Go now and send the message to the pilot. When all the passengers have checked in, come and find me in the departure lounge. But please-try to give the impression that nothing special is happening.”
Varde went out.
Peter made his way to the departure area, racking his brains to make sure he had thought of everything. He sat in the lounge and discreetly studied the other passengers, wondering which of them would end up in jail today instead of on a plane. This morning there were scheduled flights to Berlin, Hamburg, the Norwegian capital of Oslo, the southern Swedish city of Malmo, and the Danish holiday island of Bornholm, so he could not be sure which of the passengers were destined for Stockholm.
There were only two women in the room: a young mother with two children, and a beautifully dressed older woman with white hair. The older woman could be the smuggler, Peter thought: her appearance might be intended to allay suspicion.
Three of the passengers wore German uniforms. Peter checked his list: his man was a Colonel von Schwarzkopf. Only one of the soldiers was a colonel. But it was wildly unlikely that a German officer would smuggle Danish underground newspapers.
All the others were men just like Peter, wearing suits and ties, holding their hats in their laps.
Trying to appear bored but patient, as if waiting for a flight, he watched everyone carefully, alert for signs that someone had sensed the imminent security check. Some passengers looked nervous, but that could just be fear of flying. Peter was most concerned to make sure no one tried to throw away a package, or conceal papers somewhere in the lounge.
Varde reappeared. Beaming as if delighted to see Peter again, he said, “All four passengers have checked in.”
“Good.” It was time to begin. “Tell them that Lufthansa would like to offer them some special hospitality, then take them to your office. I’ll follow.”
Varde nodded and went to the Lufthansa desk. While he was asking the Stockholm passengers to come forward, Peter went to a pay phone, called Tilde, and told her all was ready for the raid. Varde led the group of four passengers away, and Peter tagged on to the little procession.
When they were assembled in Varde’s office, Peter revealed his identity. He showed his police badge to the German colonel. “I’m acting under orders from General Braun,” he said to forestall protests. “He is on his way here and will explain everything.”
The colonel looked annoyed, but sat down without comment, and the other three passengers-the white-haired lady and two Danish businessmen-did the same. Peter leaned against the wall, watching them, alert for guilty behavior. Each had a bag of some kind: the old lady a large handbag, the officer a slim document case, the businessmen briefcases. Any of them could be carrying copies of an illegal newspaper.
Varde said brightly, “May I offer you tea or coffee while you’re waiting?”
Peter checked his watch. The flight from Berlin was due now. He looked out of Varde’s window and saw it coming in to land. The aircraft was a Junkers Ju-52 trimotor-an ugly machine, he thought: its surface was corrugated, like a shed roof, and the third engine, protruding from the nose, looked like the snout of a pig. But it approached at a remarkably low speed for such a heavy aircraft, and the effect was quite majestic. It touched down and taxied to the terminal. The door opened, and the crew threw down the chocks that secured the wheels when the aircraft was parked.
Braun and Juel arrived, with the four detectives Peter had chosen, while the waiting passengers were drinking the airport’s ersatz coffee.
Peter watched keenly while his detectives emptied out the men’s briefcases and the white-haired lady’s handbag. It was quite possible the spy would have the illegal newspaper in hand baggage, he thought. Then the traitor could claim he had brought it to read on the plane. Not that it would do him any good.
But the contents of the bags were innocent.
Tilde took the lady into another room to be searched, while the three male suspects removed their outer clothing. Braun patted down the colonel, and Sergeant Conrad did the Danes. Nothing was found.
Peter was disappointed, but he told himself it was much more likely that the contraband would be in checked baggage.
The passengers were allowed to return to the lounge, but not to board the aircraft. Their luggage was lined up on the apron outside the terminal building: two new-looking crocodile cases that undoubtedly belonged to the old lady, a duffel bag that was probably the colonel’s, a tan leather suitcase, and a cheap cardboard one.
Peter felt confident he would find a copy of Reality in one of them.
Bent Conrad got the keys from the passengers. “I bet it’s the old woman,” he murmured to Peter. “She looks like a Jew to me.”
“Just unlock the luggage,” Peter said.
Conrad opened all the bags and Peter began to search them, with Juel and Braun looking over his shoulders, and a crowd of people watching through the window of the departure lounge. He imagined the moment when he would triumphantly produce the newspaper and flourish it in front of everyone.
The crocodile cases were stuffed with expensive old-fashioned clothing, which he dumped on the ground. The duffel bag contained shaving tackle, a change of underwear, and a perfectly pressed uniform shirt. The businessman’s tan leather case held papers as well as clothing, and Peter looked through them all carefully, but there were no newspapers or anything suspicious.
He had left the cheap cardboard suitcase until last, figuring the less affluent businessman was the likeliest of the four passengers to be a spy.
The case was half-empty. It held a white shirt and a black tie, supporting the man’s story that he was going to a funeral. There was also a well-worn black Bible. But no newspaper.
Peter began to wonder despairingly if his fears had been well founded, and this was the wrong day for the raid. He felt angry that he had let himself be pushed into acting prematurely. He controlled his fury. He was not finished yet.
He took a penknife from his pocket. He pushed its point into the lining of the old lady’s expensive luggage and tore a ragged gash in the white silk. He heard Juel grunt with surprise at the sudden violence of the gesture. Peter ran his hand beneath the ripped lining. To his dismay, nothing was hidden there.
He did the same to the businessman’s leather case, with the same result. The second businessmen’s cardboard suitcase had no lining, and Peter could see nothing in its structure that might serve as a hiding place.
Feeling his face redden with frustration and embarrassment, he cut the stitching on the leather base of the colonel’s canvas duffel and felt inside for concealed papers. There was nothing.
He looked up to see Braun, Juel, and the detectives staring at him. Their faces showed fascination and a hint of fear. His behavior was beginning to look a little crazy, he realized.
To hell with that.
Juel said languidly, “Perhaps your information was wrong, Flemming.”
And wouldn’t that please you, Peter thought resentfully. But he was not finished yet.
He saw Varde watching from the departure lounge, and beckoned him. The man’s smile looked strained as he contemplated the wreckage of his customers’ luggage. “Where is the mailbag?” Peter said.
“In the baggage office.”
“Well, what are you waiting for? Bring it here, idiot!”
Varde went off. Peter pointed at the luggage with a disgusted gesture and said to his detectives, “Get rid of this stuff.”
Dresler and Ellegard repacked the suitcases roughly. A baggage handler came to take them to the Junkers. “Wait,” Peter said as the man began to pick up the cases. “Search him, Sergeant.” Conrad searched the man and found nothing.
Varde brought the mailbag and Peter emptied the letters on the ground. They all bore the stamp of the censor. There were two envelopes large enough to hold a newspaper, one white and one brown. He ripped open the white one. It held six copies of a legal document, some kind of contract. The brown envelope contained the catalogue of a Copenhagen glassware factory. Peter cursed aloud.
A trolley bearing a tray of sandwiches and several coffeepots was wheeled out for Peter’s inspection. This was Peter’s last hope. He opened each pot and poured the coffee out on the ground. Juel muttered something about this being unnecessary, but Peter was too desperate to care. He pulled away the linen napkins covering the tray and poked about among the sandwiches. To his horror, there was nothing. In a rage, he picked up the tray and dumped the sandwiches on the ground, hoping to find a newspaper underneath, but there was only another linen napkin.
He realized he was going to be completely humiliated, and that made him madder.
“Begin refueling,” he said. “I’ll watch.”
A tanker was driven out to the Junkers. The detectives put out their cigarettes and looked on as aviation fuel was pumped into the wings of the aircraft. Peter knew this was useless, but he persevered stubbornly, wearing a wooden expression, because he could not think what else to do. Passengers watched curiously through the rectangular windows of the Junkers, no doubt wondering why a German general and six civilians needed to observe the refueling.
The tanks were filled and the caps closed.
Peter could not think of any way to delay the takeoff. He had been wrong, and now he looked a fool.
“Let the passengers board,” he said with suppressed fury.
He returned to the departure lounge, his humiliation complete. He wanted to strangle someone. He had made a complete mess of things in front of General Braun as well as Superintendent Juel. The appointments board would feel justified in having picked Juel instead of Peter for the top job. Juel might even use this fiasco as an excuse for having Peter shunted sideways to some low-profile department such as Traffic.
He stopped in the lounge to watch the takeoff. Juel, Braun, and the detectives waited with him. Varde was standing nearby, trying hard to look as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. They watched while the four angry passengers boarded. The chocks were removed from the wheels by the ground crew and thrown on board, then the door was closed.
As the aircraft moved off its stand, Peter was struck by inspiration. “Stop the plane,” he said to Varde.
Juel said, “For God’s sake. .”
Varde looked as if he might cry. He turned to General Braun. “Sir, my passengers. .”
“Stop the plane!” Peter repeated.
Varde continued to look pleadingly at Braun. After a moment, Braun nodded. “Do as he says.”
Varde picked up a phone.
Juel said, “My God, Flemming, this had better be good.”
The aircraft rolled onto the runway, turned a full circle, and came back to its stand. The door opened, and the chocks were thrown down to the ground crew.
Peter led the rest of the detectives out onto the apron. The propellers slowed and stopped. Two men in overalls were wedging the chocks in front of the main wheels. Peter addressed one of them. “Hand me that chock.”
The man looked scared, but did as he was told.
Peter took the chock from him. It was a simple triangular block of wood about a foot high-dirty, heavy, and solid.
“And the other one,” Peter said.
Ducking under the fuselage, the mechanic picked up the other and handed it over.
It looked the same, but felt lighter. Turning it over in his hands, Peter found that one face was a sliding lid. He opened it. Inside was a package carefully wrapped in oilcloth.
Peter gave a sigh of profound satisfaction.
The mechanic turned and ran.
“Stop him!” Peter cried, but it was unnecessary. The man veered away from the men and tried to run past Tilde, no doubt imagining he could easily push her aside. She turned like a dancer, letting him pass, then stuck out a foot and tripped him. He went flying.
Dresler jumped on him, hauled him to his feet, and twisted his arm behind his back.
Peter nodded to Ellegard. “Arrest the other mechanic. He must have known what was going on.”
Peter turned his attention to the package. He unwrapped the oilcloth. Inside were two copies of Reality. He handed them to Juel.
Juel looked at the papers, then up at Peter.
Peter stared at him expectantly, saying nothing, waiting.
Juel said reluctantly, “Well done, Flemming.”
Peter smiled. “Just doing my job, sir.”
Juel turned away.
Peter said to his detectives, “Handcuff both mechanics and take them to headquarters for questioning.”
There was something else in the package. Peter pulled out a sheaf of papers clipped together. They were covered with typed characters in five-letter groups that made no sense. He stared at them in puzzlement for a moment. Then enlightenment dawned, and he realized this was a triumph greater than he had dreamed.
The papers he was holding bore a message in code.
Peter handed the papers to Braun. “I think we have uncovered a spy ring, General.”
Braun looked at the papers and paled. “My God, you’re right.”
“Perhaps the German military has a department that specializes in breaking enemy ciphers?”
“It certainly does.”
“Good,” said Peter.
Hermia Mount was about to get the sack.
This had never happened to her before. She was bright and conscientious, and her employers had always regarded her as a treasure, despite her sharp tongue. But her current boss, Herbert Woodie, was going to tell her she was fired, as soon as he worked up the courage.
Two Danes working for MI6 had been arrested at Kastrup aerodrome. They were now in custody and undoubtedly being interrogated. It was a bad blow to the Nightwatchmen network. Woodie was a peacetime MI6 man, a long-serving bureaucrat. He needed someone to blame, and Hermia was a suitable candidate.
Hermia understood this. She had worked for the British civil service for a decade, and she knew its ways. If Woodie were forced to accept that the blame lay with his department, he would pin it on the most junior person available. Woodie had never been comfortable working with a woman anyway, and he would be happy to see her replaced by a man.
At first Hermia was inclined to offer herself up as the sacrificial victim. She had never met the two aircraft mechanics-they had been recruited by Poul Kirke-but the network was her creation and she was responsible for the fate of the arrested men. She was as upset as if they had already died, and she did not want to go on.
After all, she thought, how much had she actually done to help the war effort? She was just accumulating information. None of it had ever been used. Men were risking their lives to send her photographs of Copenhagen harbor with nothing much happening. It seemed foolish.
But in fact she knew the importance of this laborious routine work. At some future date, a reconnaissance plane would photograph the harbor full of ships, and military planners would need to know whether this represented normal traffic or the sudden buildup of an invasion force-and at that point Hermia’s photographs would become crucial.
Furthermore, the visit of Digby Hoare had given an immediate urgency to her work. The Germans’ aircraft detection system could be the weapon that would win the war. The more she thought about it, the more likely it seemed that the key to the problem could lie in Denmark. The Danish west coast seemed the ideal location for a warning station designed to detect bombers approaching Germany.
And there was no one else in MI6 who had her ground-level knowledge of Denmark. She knew Poul Kirke personally and he trusted her. It could be disastrous if a stranger took over. She had to keep her job. And that meant outwitting her boss.
“This is bad news,” Woodie said sententiously as she stood in front of his desk.
His office was a bedroom in the old house of Bletchley Park. Flowered wallpaper and silk-shaded wall lights suggested it had been occupied by a lady before the war. Now it had filing cabinets instead of wardrobes full of dresses, and a steel map table where once there might have been a dressing table with spindly legs and a triple mirror. And instead of a glamorous woman in a priceless silk negligee, the room was occupied by a small, self-important man in a gray suit and glasses.
Hermia faked the appearance of calm. “There’s always danger when an operative is interrogated, of course,” she said. “However-” She thought of the two brave men being interrogated and tortured, and her breath caught in her throat for a moment. Then she recovered. “However, in this case I feel the risk is slight.”
Woodie grunted skeptically. “We may need to set up an inquiry.”
Her heart sank. An inquiry meant an investigator from outside the department. He would have to come up with a scapegoat, and she was the obvious choice. She began the defense she had prepared. “The two men arrested don’t have any secrets to betray,” she said. “They were ground crew at the aerodrome. One of the Nightwatchmen would give them papers to be smuggled out, and they would stow the contraband in a hollow wheel chock.” Even so, she knew, they might reveal apparently innocent details about how they were recruited and run, details which a clever spycatcher could use to track down other agents.
“Who passed them the papers?”
“Matthies Hertz, a lieutenant in the army. He’s gone into hiding. And the mechanics don’t know anyone else in the network.”
“So our tight security has limited the damage to the organization.”
Hermia guessed that Woodie was rehearsing a line he might speak to his superiors, and she forced herself to flatter him. “Exactly, sir, that’s a good way of putting it.”
“But how did the Danish police get to your people in the first place?”
Hermia had anticipated this question, and her answer was carefully prepared. “I think the problem is at the Swedish end.”
“Ah.” Woodie brightened. Sweden, being a neutral country, was not under his control. He would welcome the chance of shifting the blame to another department. “Take a seat, Miss Mount.”
“Thank you.” Hermia felt encouraged: Woodie was reacting as she had hoped. She crossed her legs and went on, “I think the Swedish go-between has been passing copies of the illegal newspapers to Reuters in Stockholm, and this may have alerted the Germans. You have always had a strict rule that our agents stick to information gathering, and avoid ancillary activities such as propaganda work.” This was more flattery: she had never heard Woodie say any such thing, though it was a general rule in espionage.
However, he nodded sagely. “Indeed.”
“I reminded the Swedes of your ruling as soon as I found out what was happening, but I fear the damage had been done.”
Woodie looked thoughtful. He would be happy if he could claim that his advice had been ignored. He did not really like people to do as he suggested, because when things went well they just took the credit themselves. He preferred it if they ignored his counsel and things went wrong. Then he could say, “I told you so.”
Hermia said, “Shall I do you a memo, mentioning your rule and quoting my signal to the Swedish Legation?”
“Good idea.” Woodie liked this even better. He would not be allocating blame himself, merely quoting an underling who would incidentally be giving him credit for sounding the alarm.
“Then we’ll need a new way of getting information out of Denmark. We can’t use radio for this kind of material, it takes too long to broadcast.”
Woodie had no idea how to organize an alternative smuggling route. “Ah, that’s a problem,” he said with a touch of panic.
“Fortunately we have set up a fallback option, using the boat train that crosses from Elsinore in Denmark to Helsingborg in Sweden.”
Woodie was relieved. “Splendid,” he said.
“Perhaps I should say in my memo that you’ve authorized me to action that.”
She hesitated. “And. . the inquiry?”
“You know, I’m not sure that will be necessary. Your memo should serve to answer any questions.”
She concealed her relief. She was not going to be fired after all.
She knew she should quit while she was ahead. But there was another problem she was desperate to raise with him. This seemed like an ideal opportunity. “There is one thing we could do that would improve our security enormously, sir.”
“Indeed?” Woodie’s expression said that if there were such a procedure he would already have thought of it.
“We could use more sophisticated codes.”
“What’s wrong with our poem and book codes? Agents of MI6 have been using them for years.”
“I fear the Germans may have figured out how to break them.”
Woodie smiled knowingly. “I don’t think so, my dear.”
Hermia decided to take the risk of contradicting him. “May I show you what I mean?” Without waiting for his answer, she went on, “Take a look at this coded message.” She quickly scribbled on her pad:
gsff cffs jo uif dbouffo
She said, “The commonest letter is f.”
“In the English language, the letter used most commonly is e, so the first thing a code-breaker would do is assume that f stands for e, which gives you this.”
gsEE cEEs jo uiE dbouEEo
“It could still mean anything,” Woodie said.
“Not quite. How many four-letter words are there ending in double e?”
“I’m sure I’ve no idea.”
“Only a few common ones: flee, free, glee, thee, and tree. Now look at the second group.”
“Miss Mount, I don’t really have time-”
“Just another few seconds, sir. There are many four-letter words with a double e in the middle. What could the first letter be? Not a, certainly, but it could be b. So think of words beginning bee that might logically come next. Flee been makes no sense, free bees sounds odd, although tree bees might be right-”
Woodie interrupted. “Free beer!” he said triumphantly.
“Let’s try that. The next group is two letters, and there aren’t many two-letter words: an, at, in, if, it, on, of, or, and up are the commonest. The fourth group is a three-letter word ending in e, of which there are many, but the commonest is the.”
Woodie was getting interested despite himself. “Free beer at the something.”
“Or in the something. And that something is a seven-letter word with a double e in it, so it ends eed, eef, eek, eel, eem, een, eep-”
“Free beer in the canteen!” said Woodie triumphantly.
“Yes,” Hermia said. She sat in silence, looking at Woodie, letting the implications of what had just happened sink in. After a few moments she said, “That’s how easy our codes are to break, sir.” She looked at her watch. “It took you three minutes.”
He grunted. “A good party trick, Miss Mount, but the old hands at MI6 know more about this sort of thing than you, take it from me.”
It was no good, she thought despairingly. He would not be moved on this today. She would have to try again later. She forced herself to give in gracefully. “Very good, sir.”
“Concentrate on your own responsibilities. What are the rest of your Nightwatchmen up to?”
“I’m about to ask them to keep their eyes open for any indications that the Germans have developed long-distance aircraft detection.”
“Good lord, don’t do that!”
“If the enemy finds out we’re asking that question, he’ll guess we’ve got it!”
“But, sir-what if he does have it?”
“He doesn’t. You can rest assured.”
“The gentleman who came here from Downing Street last week seemed to think otherwise.”
“In strict confidence, Miss Mount, an MI6 committee looked into the whole radar question quite recently, and concluded that it would be another eighteen months before the enemy developed such a system.”
So, Hermia thought, it was called radar. She smiled. “That’s so reassuring,” she lied. “I expect you were on the committee yourself, sir?”
Woodie nodded. “In fact I chaired it.”
“Thank you for setting my mind at rest. I’ll get on with that memo.”
Hermia went out. Her face ached with smiling and she was exhausted by the effort of constantly deferring to Woodie. She had saved her job, and she permitted herself a moment of satisfaction as she walked back to her own office. But she had failed with the codes. She had found out the name of the long-distance aircraft detection system-radar-but it was clear Woodie would not let her investigate whether the Germans had such a system in Denmark.
She longed to do something of immediate value to the war effort. All this routine work made her impatient and frustrated. It would be so satisfying to see some real results. And it might even justify what had happened to those two poor aircraft mechanics at Kastrup.
She could investigate enemy radar without Woodie’s permission, of course. He might find out, but she was willing to take that risk. However, she did not know what to tell her Nightwatchmen. What should they be looking for, and where? She needed more information before she could brief Poul Kirke. And Woodie was not going to give it to her.
But he was not her only hope.
She sat down at her desk, picked up the phone, and said, “Please connect me with Number Ten, Downing Street.”
She met Digby Hoare in Trafalgar Square. She stood at the foot of Nelson’s Column and watched him cross the road from Whitehall. She smiled at the energetic, lopsided stride that already seemed to her characteristic of him. They shook hands, then walked toward Soho.
It was a warm summer evening, and the West End of London was busy, its pavements thronged with people heading for theaters, cinemas, bars, and restaurants. The happy scene was marred only by bomb damage, the occasional blackened ruin in a row of buildings standing out like a rotten tooth in a smile.
She had thought they were going for a drink in a pub, but Digby led her to a small French restaurant. The tables either side of them were empty, so they could talk without being overheard.
Digby was wearing the same dark gray suit, but this evening he had on a light blue shirt that set off his blue eyes. Hermia was pleased she had decided to wear her favorite piece of jewelry, a panther brooch with emerald eyes.
She was keen to get down to business. She had refused to go on a date with Digby and she did not want him to get the idea that she might have changed her mind. As soon as they had ordered, she said, “I want to use my agents in Denmark to find out whether the Germans have radar.”
He looked at her through narrowed eyes. “The question is more complicated than that. It’s now beyond doubt that they have radar, as we do. But theirs is more effective than ours-devastatingly so.”
“Oh.” She was taken aback. “Woodie told me. . Never mind.”
“We’re desperate to find out why their system is so good. Either they have invented something better than we’ve got, or they’ve devised a way of using it more effectively-or both.”
“All right.” She rapidly readjusted her ideas in the light of this new information. “Just the same, it seems likely that some of this machinery is in Denmark.”
“It would be a logical place-and the code name ‘Freya’ suggests Scandinavia.”
“So what are my people looking for?”
“That’s difficult.” He frowned. “We don’t know what their machinery looks like-that’s the point, isn’t it?”
“I presume it gives out radio waves.”
“Yes, of course.”
“And presumably the signals travel a good distance-otherwise the warning wouldn’t be early enough.”
“Yes. It would be useless unless the signals traveled at least, say, fifty miles. Probably more.”
“Could we listen for them?”
He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Yes, with a radio receiver. Clever notion-I don’t know why no one else thought of it.”
“Can the signals be distinguished from other transmissions, such as normal broadcasts, the news and so on?”
He nodded. “You’d be listening for a series of pulses, probably very rapid, say a thousand per second. You’d hear it as a continuous musical note. So you’d know it wasn’t the BBC. And it would be quite different from the dots and dashes of military traffic.”
“You’re an engineer. Could you put together a radio receiver suitable for picking up such signals?”
He looked thoughtful. “It’s got to be portable, presumably.”
“It should pack into a suitcase.”
“And work off a battery, so it can be used anywhere.”
“It might be possible. There’s a team of boffins in Welwyn who do this stuff all day.” Welwyn was a small town between Bletchley and London. “Exploding turnips, radio transmitters concealed in bricks, that sort of thing. They could probably cobble something together.”
Their food came. Hermia had ordered a tomato salad. It came with a sprinkling of chopped onion and a sprig of mint, and she wondered why British cooks could not produce food that was simple and delicious like this, instead of tinned sardines and boiled cabbage.
“What made you set up the Nightwatchmen?” Digby asked her.
She was not sure what he meant. “It seemed like a good idea.”
“Still, not an idea that would occur to the average young woman, if I may say so.”
She thought back, remembering the struggle she had had with another bureaucratic boss, and asked herself why she had persisted. “I wanted to strike a blow against the Nazis. There’s something about them that I find absolutely loathsome.”
“Fascism blames problems on a false cause-people of other races.”
“I know, but it’s not that. It’s the uniforms, the strutting and posturing, and the way they howl out those hateful speeches. It just makes me sick.”
“When did you experience all this? There aren’t many Nazis in Denmark.”
“I spent a year in Berlin in the thirties. I watched them marching and saluting and spitting on people and smashing the windows of Jewish shopkeepers. I remember thinking: These people have to be stopped before they spoil the whole world. I still think so. I’m more sure of that than anything.”
He smiled. “Me, too.”
Hermia had a seafood fricassee, and once again she was struck by what a French cook could do with common ingredients, despite rationing. The dish contained sliced eel, some of the winkles beloved of Londoners, and flaked cod, but it was all fresh and well seasoned, and she tucked in with relish.
Every now and again she caught Digby’s eye, and he always had the same look, a mixture of adoration and lust. It alarmed her. If he fell in love with her, it could only lead to trouble and heartbreak. But it was pleasing, as well as embarrassing, to have a man so obviously desire her. At one point she felt herself flush, and put her hand to her throat to hide her blushes.
She deliberately turned her thoughts to Arne. The first time she talked to him, in the bar of a ski hotel in Norway, she knew she had found what was missing in her life. “Now I understand why I’ve never had a satisfactory relationship with a man,” she had written to her mother. “It’s because I hadn’t met Arne.” When he proposed to her, she had said, “If I’d known there were men like you, I’d have married one years ago.”
She said yes to everything he suggested. She was normally so intent on having her own way that she had never been able to share an apartment with a girlfriend, but with Arne she lost her willpower. Every time he asked her to go out with him she accepted; when he kissed her, she kissed him back; when he stroked her breasts under her ski sweater she just sighed with pleasure; and when he knocked on the door of her hotel room at midnight she said: “I’m so glad you’re here.”
Thinking of Arne helped her to feel cooler toward Digby, and as they finished their meal she turned the conversation to the war. An Allied army including British, Commonwealth, and Free French forces had invaded Syria. It was a skirmish on the far fringes, and they both found it hard to see the outcome as important. The conflict in Europe was all that really counted. And here it was a war of bombers.
When they left the restaurant it was dark, but there was a full moon. They walked south, heading for her mother’s house in Pimlico, where Hermia was going to spend the night. As they were crossing St. James’s Park the moon went behind a cloud, and Digby turned to her and kissed her.
She could not help admiring the swift sureness of his moves. His lips were on hers before she could turn away. With a strong hand he pulled her body to his, and her breasts pressed against his chest. She knew she should be indignant, but to her consternation she found herself responding. She suddenly remembered what it was like to feel a man’s hard body and hot skin, and in a rush of desire she opened her mouth to him.
They kissed hungrily for a minute, then his hand went to her breast, and that broke the spell. She was too old and respectable to be groped in a park. She broke the clinch.
The thought of taking him home crossed her mind. She imagined the pained disapproval of Mags and Bets, and the picture made her laugh.
“What is it?” he said.
She saw that he looked hurt. He probably imagined her laughter had to do with his disability. I must remember how vulnerable he is to mockery, she thought. She hastened to explain. “My mother is a widow who lives with a middle-aged spinster. I just thought how they would react if I told them I wanted to bring a man home for the night.”
The hurt look went away. “I like your thinking,” he said, and he tried to kiss her again.
She was tempted, but thought of Arne, and put a resisting hand on Digby’s chest. “No more,” she said firmly. “Walk me home.”
They left the park. The momentary euphoria faded, and she began to feel troubled. How could she enjoy kissing Digby when she loved Arne? As they passed Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, an air-raid warning put all such thoughts out of her mind.
Digby said, “Do you want to find a shelter?”
Many Londoners no longer took cover during air raids. Fed up with sleepless nights, some had decided it was worth risking the bombs. Others had become fatalistic, saying that a bomb either had your number on it or not, and there was nothing you could do either way. Hermia was not quite so blase, but on the other hand she had no intention of spending the night in an air-raid shelter with the amorous Digby. She nervously twisted the engagement ring on her left hand. “We’re only a few minutes away,” she replied. “Do you mind if we keep going?”
“I may be forced to spend the night at your mother’s house after all.”
“At least I’ll be chaperoned.”
They hurried through Westminster into Pimlico. Searchlights probed the scattered clouds, then they heard the sinister low drone of heavy aircraft, like a large beast growling hungrily, deep in its throat. An antiaircraft gun boomed somewhere, and flak burst in the sky like fireworks. Hermia wondered whether her mother was out driving her ambulance tonight.
To Hermia’s horror, bombs started to fall nearby, although it was normally the industrial East End that was hardest hit. There was a deafening crump that seemed to come from the next street. A minute later, a fire engine roared by. Hermia walked on as fast as she could.
Digby said, “You’re so cool-aren’t you scared?”
“Of course I’m scared,” she said impatiently. “I’m just not panicking.”
They turned a corner and saw a blazing building. The fire engine was outside and the men were unrolling hoses.
“How much farther?” Digby asked.
“Next street,” Hermia said, panting.
When they rounded the next corner, they saw another fire engine at the far end of the street, near Mags’s house. “Oh, God,” Hermia said, and she broke into a run. Her heart pounded with fear as she dashed along the pavement. There was an ambulance, she saw, and at least one house in her mother’s section had been hit. “No, please,” she said aloud.
Coming closer, she was perplexed that she could not identify her mother’s house, though she saw clearly that the house next door was on fire. She stopped and stared, trying to understand what she was looking at. Then, at last, she realized that her mother’s house was gone. Nothing was left of it but a gap in the terrace and a pile of debris. She groaned in despair.
Digby said, “Is that the house?”
Hermia nodded, unable to speak.
Digby called to a fireman in an authoritative voice. “You!” he said. “Any sign of the occupants of this building?”
“Yes, sir,” said the fireman. “One person was blown clear by the blast.” He pointed to the small front yard of the undamaged house on the far side. There was a body on a stretcher lying on the ground. The face was covered.
Hermia felt Digby take her arm. Together they entered the yard.
Hermia knelt down and Digby uncovered the face.
“It’s Bets,” Hermia said, with a sickeningly guilty feeling of relief.
Digby was looking around. “Who’s that, sitting on the wall?”
Hermia looked up, and her heart lurched as she recognized the figure of her mother, dressed in her ambulance uniform and tin hat, slumped on the low wall as if all the life had gone out of her. “Mother?” she said.
Her mother looked up, and Hermia saw that tears were streaming down her face.
Hermia went to her and put her arms around her.
“Bets is dead,” her mother said.
“I’m sorry, Mother.”
“She loved me so much,” her mother sobbed.
“Do you? Do you know? She waited all her life for me. Did you realize that? All her life.”
Hermia hugged her mother hard. “I’m so sorry,” she said.
There had been about two hundred Danish ships at sea on the morning of April 9, 1940, when Hitler invaded Denmark. All that day, Danish-language broadcasts by the BBC appealed to sailors to head for Allied ports rather than return home to a conquered country. In total, about five thousand men accepted the offer of refuge. Most sought harbor on the east coast of England, hoisted the Union Jack, and continued to sail throughout the war under the British flag. Consequently, by the middle of the following year small communities of Danes had settled in several English ports.
Hermia decided to go to the fishing town of Stokeby. She had visited the place twice previously to talk to the Danes there. On this occasion she told her boss, Herbert Woodie, that her mission was to check her somewhat out-of-date plans of the main Danish ports and make any alterations necessary.
He believed her.
She had a different story for Digby Hoare.
Digby came to Bletchley, two days after the bomb destroyed her mother’s house, with a radio receiver and direction finder neatly packed into a used-looking tan leather suitcase. As he showed her how to use the equipment, she thought guiltily of the kiss in the park, and how much she had enjoyed it, and wondered uneasily how she would be able to look Arne in the eye.
Her original plan had been to attempt to smuggle the radio receiver to the Nightwatchmen, but she had since thought of something simpler. The signals from the radar apparatus could probably be picked up at sea just as easily as on land. She told Digby she was going to pass the suitcase to the captain of a fishing boat and teach him how to use it. Digby approved.
That plan might well have worked, but in truth she did not want to hand such an important job over to someone else. So she intended to go herself.
In the North Sea, between England and Denmark, there was a large sandbank known as Dogger Bank, where the sea was as shallow as fifty feet in places, and the fishing was good. Both British and Danish ships trawled there. Strictly speaking, Denmark-based vessels were banned from venturing so far from their coast, but Germany needed herrings, so the ban was irregularly enforced and constantly defied. For some time, Hermia had had it in the back of her mind that messages-or even people-might travel between the two countries on fishing boats, transferring from Danish to British or vice versa in the middle. Now, however, she had a better idea. The far end of the Dogger Bank was only a hundred miles from the Danish coast. If all her guesswork turned out to be right, the signals from the Freya machine should be detectable from the fishing ground.
She took a train on Friday afternoon. She was dressed for the sea in trousers, boots, and a loose sweater, with her hair pushed under a man’s checked cap. As the train rolled through the flat fen country of eastern England, she worried whether her plan would work. Would she find a ship willing to take her? Would she pick up the signals she was expecting? Or was the whole thing a waste of time?
After a while her mind turned to her mother. Mags had been under control again yesterday at Bets’s funeral, appearing calmly sorrowful rather than stricken by grief, and today she had gone to Cornwall to stay with her sister, Hermia’s aunt Bella. But on the night of the bomb her soul had been laid bare.
The two women had been devoted friends, but it was clearly more than that. Hermia did not really want to think what else could be involved, but she could not help being intrigued. Setting aside the embarrassing thought of what physical relation there might have been between Mags and Bets, Hermia was shocked that her mother had nourished a passionate lifelong attachment that had remained carefully disguised, all those years, from Hermia herself and presumably from Mags’s husband, Hermia’s father.
She arrived in Stokeby at eight o’clock on a mild summer evening and went from the railway station straight to the Shipwright’s Arms pub on the dockside. It took her only a few minutes of asking around to learn that Sten Munch, a Danish captain she had met on her last visit here, was due to sail in the morning in his vessel Morganmand, which meant “early riser.” She found Sten at his house on the hillside, clipping the hedge in his front garden like a born Englishman. He invited her in.
He was a widower and lived with his son, Lars, who had been on the boat with him on April 9, 1940. Lars had since married a local girl, Carol. When Hermia went inside, Carol was nursing a tiny baby a few days old. Lars made tea. They all spoke English for Carol’s sake.
Hermia explained that she needed to get as close as possible to the Danish coast in an attempt to listen to a German wireless transmission-she did not say what kind. Sten did not question her story. “Of course!” he said expansively. “Anything to help defeat the Nazis! But my boat is not really suitable.”
“It’s very small-only thirty-five feet-and we’ll be away for about three days.”
Hermia had been expecting this. She had told Woodie she needed to get her mother settled in new accommodation and would be back sometime next week. “That’s all right,” she told Sten. “I’ve got time.”
“My boat has only three berths. We sleep in shifts. It’s not designed for ladies. You should go in a larger vessel.”
“Is there one leaving in the morning?”
Sten looked at Lars, who said, “No. Three set off yesterday, won’t return until next week. Peter Gorning should be back tomorrow. He’ll go out again about Wednesday.”
She shook her head. “Too late.”
Carol looked up from her baby. “They sleep in their clothes, you know. That’s why they stink when they get home. It’s worse than the smell of the fish.”
Hermia immediately liked her for her down-to-earth directness. “I’ll be fine,” she said. “I can sleep in my clothes, in a bed still warm from the previous occupant. It won’t kill me.”
Sten said, “You know I want to help. But the sea is not for women. You were made for the gracious things in life.”
Carol snorted scornfully. “Like giving birth?”
Hermia smiled, grateful to have Carol as an ally. “Exactly. We can put up with discomfort.”
Carol nodded vigorously. “Think of what Charlie’s going through in the desert.” She explained to Hermia, “My brother Charlie’s in the army somewhere in North Africa.”
Sten looked cornered. He did not want to take Hermia, but he was reluctant to say so, wanting to appear patriotic and brave. “We leave at three o’clock in the morning.”
“I’ll be there.”
Carol said, “You might as well stay here, now. We’ve got a spare room.” She looked at her father-in-law. “If that’s all right with you, Pa.”
He had run out of excuses. “Of course!” he said.
“Thank you,” said Hermia. “You’re very kind.”
They went to bed early. Hermia did not undress, but sat up in her room with the light on. She was afraid that if she overslept, Sten would leave without her. The Munch family were not great readers, and the only book she could find was the Bible in Danish, but it kept her awake. At two o’clock she went to the bathroom and washed quickly, then tiptoed downstairs and put the kettle on. Sten appeared at half past two. When he saw Hermia in the kitchen he looked surprised and disappointed. She poured tea into a big cup and he took it gratefully enough.
Hermia, Sten, and Lars walked down the hill to the quay a few minutes before three o’clock. Two more Danish men were waiting at the dockside. The Morganmand was very small. Thirty-five feet was about the length of a London bus. The vessel was made of wood, and had one mast and a diesel engine. On deck was a small wheelhouse and a series of hatches over the hold. From the wheelhouse, a companionway led down to the living quarters. At the stern end were the massive spars and the winding gear for the nets.
Dawn was breaking as the little vessel threaded its way through the defensive minefield at the mouth of the harbor. The weather was fine, but they encountered a swell of five or six feet as soon as they left the shelter of the land. Fortunately, Hermia was never seasick.
Throughout the day, she tried to make herself useful around the boat. She knew no seamanship, so she kept the galley clean. The men were used to preparing food for themselves, but she washed their dishes and the frying pan in which they cooked almost everything they ate. She made sure she talked to the two crewmen, speaking Danish, getting on terms of respectful friendliness with each of them. When she had nothing else to do, she sat on the deck and enjoyed the sunshine.
Toward midday they reached the Outer Silver Pit, on the southeast corner of the Dogger Bank, and began to trawl. The boat reduced speed and headed northeast. At first they could not find the fish, and the nets came up almost empty. Then, toward the end of the afternoon, the fish started running.
At nightfall, Hermia went below and lay on a bunk. She thought she would not sleep, but she had been up for thirty-six hours, and tiredness got the better of tension. She dropped off within minutes.
During the night she was awakened, briefly, by the volcanic rumble of a flight of bombers overhead. She wondered vaguely whether it was the RAF heading for Germany or the Luftwaffe going the other way, then drifted off to sleep again.
The next thing she knew, Lars was shaking her. “We’re approaching our nearest point to Denmark,” he said. “We’re about a hundred and twenty miles off Morlunde.”
Hermia took her suitcase receiver up on deck. It was already full daylight. The men were hauling in a net full of flapping fish, mainly herrings and mackerel, and tipping them into the hold. Hermia found it a gruesome sight, and looked away.
She connected the battery to the radio and was relieved to see the dials flicker. She fixed the aerial to the mast with a length of wire thoughtfully provided by Digby. She let the set warm up, then put on the headphones.
As the boat motored northeast, Hermia roamed up and down the wireless frequencies. As well as the BBC’s broadcasts in English, she picked up French, Dutch, German, and Danish radio programs, plus a host of Morse transmissions which she presumed were military signals from both sides. At the first pass up and down, she heard nothing that might have been radar.
She repeated the exercise more slowly, making sure she missed nothing. She had plenty of time. But once again she did not hear what she was listening for.
She kept trying.
After two hours she noticed that the men had stopped fishing and were watching her. She caught the eye of Lars, who said, “Any luck?”
She pulled off the headphones. “I’m not picking up the signal I was expecting,” she said in Danish.
Sten replied in the same language. “The fish were running all night. We’ve done well-our hold is full. We’re ready to go home.”
“Would you motor north for a while? I must try to find this signal-it’s really important.”
Sten looked doubtful, but his son said, “We can afford it, we’ve had a good night.”
Sten was reluctant. “What if a German spotter plane flies overhead?”
Hermia said, “You could throw out nets and pretend to be fishing.”
“There are no fishing grounds where you want to go.”
“German pilots don’t know that.”
One of the crew put in, “If it’s to help free Denmark. .”
The other hand nodded vigorously.
Once again, Hermia was saved by Sten’s reluctance to appear cowardly in front of others. “All right,” he said. “We’ll head north.”
“Keep a hundred miles off the coast,” Hermia said as she put the headphones back on.
She continued to scan the frequencies. As time went by, she became less hopeful. The likeliest place for a radar station was at the southern end of Denmark’s coast, near the border with Germany. She had thought she would pick up the broadcast early. But her hopes fell by the hour as the boat headed north.
She was not willing to leave the set alone for more than a minute or two, so the fishermen brought her tea at intervals, and a bowl of canned stew at suppertime. While listening, she gazed east. She could not see Denmark, but she knew Arne was there somewhere, and she enjoyed feeling closer to him.
Toward nightfall, Sten knelt on the deck beside her to talk, and she took off the headphones. “We’re off the northern point of the Jutland peninsula,” he said. “We have to turn back.”
In desperation she said, “Could we go closer? Maybe a hundred miles offshore is too far away to pick up the signal.”
“We need to head for home.”
“Could we follow the coast southward, retracing our course, but fifty miles closer to land?”
“It’s almost dark. There are no spotter planes at night.”
“I don’t like it.”
“Please. It’s very important.” She shot an appealing look at Lars, who was standing nearby, listening. He was bolder than his father, perhaps because he saw his future in Britain, with his English wife.
As she was hoping, Lars joined in. “How about seventy-five miles offshore?”
“That would be great.”
Lars looked at his father. “We have to go south anyway. It won’t add more than a few hours to our voyage.”
Sten said angrily, “We’ll be putting our crew in danger!”
Lars replied mildly, “Think of Carol’s brother in Africa. He’s put himself in danger. This is our chance to do something to help.”
“All right, you take the wheel,” Sten said sulkily. “I’m going to sleep.” He stepped into the wheelhouse and flung himself down the companionway.
Hermia smiled at Lars. “Thanks.”
“We should thank you.”
Lars turned the boat around and Hermia continued to scan the airwaves. Night fell. They sailed without lights, but the sky was clear and there was a three-quarter moon, which made Hermia feel that the boat must be conspicuous. However, they saw no aircraft and no other shipping. Periodically, Lars checked their position with a sextant.
Her mind drifted back to the air raid she and Digby had been in a few days ago. It was the first time she had been caught out of doors during a raid. She had managed to remain calm, but it had been a terrifying scene: the drone of the aircraft, the searchlights and the flak, the crump of falling bombs and the hellish light of burning houses. Yet here she was doing her best to help the RAF inflict the same horrors on German families. It seemed mad-but the only alternative was to let the Nazis take over the world.
It was a short midsummer night, and dawn broke early. The sea was unusually calm. A morning mist rose from the surface, reducing visibility and making Hermia feel safer. As the boat continued south, she became more anxious. She must pick up the signal soon-unless she and Digby were wrong, and Herbert Woodie right.
Sten came on deck with a mug of tea in one hand and a bacon sandwich in the other. “Well?” he said. “Have you got what you wanted?”
“It’s most likely to come from the south of Denmark,” she said.
“Or nowhere at all.”
She nodded despondently. “I’m beginning to think you’re right.” Then she heard something. “Wait!” She had been scanning upward through the frequencies, and thought she had heard a musical note. She reversed the knob and went down, searching for the spot. She got a lot of static, then the note again-a pure machine-like tone about an octave above middle C. “I think this could be it!” she said joyfully. The wavelength was 2.4 meters. She made a note in the little book Digby had tucked into the suitcase.
Now she had to determine the direction. Incorporated into the receiver was a dial graduated from one to 360 with a needle pointing to the source of the signal. Digby had emphasized that the dial had to be aligned precisely with the center line of the boat. Then the direction of the signal could be calculated from the heading of the boat and the needle on the dial. “Lars!” she called. “What’s our heading?”
“East-southeast,” he said.
“Well. .” Although the weather was fine and the sea was calm, nevertheless the boat was moving all the time, and the compass was never still.
“As best you can,” she said.
“One hundred and twenty degrees.”
The needle on her dial pointed to 340. Adding 120 to that brought the direction around to 100. Hermia made a note. “And what is our position?”
“Wait a minute. When I shot the stars, we were crossing the fifty-sixth parallel.” He looked at the log, checked his wristwatch, and called out their latitude and longitude. Hermia wrote down the numbers, knowing they were only an estimate.
Sten said, “Are you satisfied now? Can we go home?”
“I need another reading so that I can triangulate the source of the broadcast.”
He grunted in disgust and walked away.
Lars winked at her.
She kept the receiver tuned to the note as they motored south. The needle on the direction finder moved imperceptibly. After half an hour she again asked Lars for the boat’s heading.
The needle on her dial now pointed to 335. The direction of the signal was therefore 095. She asked him to estimate their position again, and wrote the numbers down.
“Home?” he said.
“Yes. And thank you.”
He turned the wheel.
Hermia was triumphant, but she could not wait to find out where the signal was coming from. She went into the wheelhouse and found a large-scale chart. With Lars’s help she marked the two positions she had noted and drew lines for the bearing of the signal from each position, correcting for True North. The lines intersected off the coast, near the island of Sande.
“My God,” Hermia said. “That’s where my fiance comes from.”
“Sande? I know it-I went to watch the racing car speed trials there a few years back.”
She was jubilant. Her guess had been right and her method had worked. The signal she had been expecting was coming from the most logical place.
Now she needed to send Poul Kirke, or one of his team, to Sande to look around. As soon as she returned to Bletchley she would send a coded message.
A few minutes later, she took another heading. The signal was weak now, but the third line on the map made a triangle with the other two, and the island of Sande lay mainly within that triangle. All the calculations were approximate, but the conclusion seemed clear. The radio signal was coming from the island.
She could hardly wait to tell Digby.
Harald thought the Tiger Moth was the most beautiful machine he had ever seen. It looked like a butterfly poised for flight, its upper and lower wings spread wide, its toy-car wheels resting lightly on the grass, it long tail tapering behind. The weather was fine with gentle breezes, and the little aircraft trembled in the wind, as if eager to take off. It had a single engine in the nose driving the big cream-painted propeller. Behind the engine were two open cockpits, one in front of the other.
It was cousin to the dilapidated Hornet Moth he had seen in the ruined monastery at Kirstenslot, and the two aircraft were mechanically similar, except that the Hornet Moth had an enclosed cabin with seats side by side. However, the Hornet Moth had looked sorry for itself, leaning to one side on its broken undercarriage, its fabric torn and oil-stained, its upholstery bursting. By contrast, the Tiger Moth had a sprightly look, with new paint bright on its fuselage and the sun glinting off its windscreen. Its tail rested on the ground and its nose pointed up, as if it were sniffing the air.
“You’ll notice that the wings are flat underneath but curved above,” said Harald’s brother, Arne Olufsen. “When the aircraft is moving, the air traveling over the top of the wing is forced to move faster than the air passing underneath.” He gave the engaging grin that made people forgive him anything. “For reasons I have never understood, this lifts the aircraft off the ground.”
“It creates a pressure difference,” Harald said.
“Indeed,” Arne replied dryly.
The senior class at Jansborg Skole were spending the day at the Army Aviation School at Vodal. They were being shown around by Arne and his friend Poul Kirke. It was a recruiting exercise by the army, who were having trouble persuading bright young men to join a military force that had nothing to do. Heis, with his army background, liked Jansborg to send one or two pupils into the military each year. For the boys, the visit was a welcome break from exam revision.
“The hinged surfaces on the lower wings are called ailerons,” Arne told them. “They are connected by cables to the control column, which is sometimes called the joystick, for reasons you are too young to understand.” He grinned again. “When the stick is moved to the left, the left aileron moves up and the right one down. This causes the aircraft to tilt and turn left. We call it banking.”
Harald was fascinated, but he wanted to get in and fly.
“You’ll observe that the rear half of the tailplane is also hinged,” Arne said. “This is called the elevator, and it points the aircraft up or down. Pull back on the stick and the elevator tilts up, depressing the tail, so that the aircraft climbs.”
Harald noticed that the upright part of the tail also had a flap. “What’s that for?” he asked, pointing at it.
“This is the rudder, controlled by a pair of pedals in the footwell of the cockpit. It works in the same way as the rudder of a boat.”
Mads put in, “Why do you need a rudder? You use the ailerons to change direction.”
“Good point!” Arne said. “Shows that you’re listening. But can’t you figure it out? Why would we need a rudder as well as ailerons to steer the aircraft?”
Harald guessed. “You can’t use the ailerons when you’re on the runway.”
“The wings would hit the ground.”
“Correct. We use the rudder while taxiing, when we can’t tilt the wings because they would hit the ground. We also use the rudder in the air, to control unwanted sideways movement of the aircraft, which is called yaw.”
The fifteen boys had toured the air base, sat through a lecture-on opportunities, pay, and training in the army-and had lunch with a group of young pupil pilots. Now they were eager for the individual flying lesson which had been promised to each of them as the climax of the day. Five Tiger Moths were lined up on the grass. Danish military aircraft had been officially grounded since the beginning of the occupation, but there were exceptions. The flying school was allowed to give lessons in gliders, and special permission had been granted for today’s exercise in Tiger Moths. Just in case anyone had the idea of flying a Tiger Moth all the way to Sweden, two Messerschmitt Me-109 fighter aircraft stood on the runway, ready to give chase and shoot down anyone who tried to escape.
Poul Kirke took over the commentary from Arne. “I want you to look into the cockpit, one at a time,” he said. “Stand on the black walkway on the lower wing. Don’t step anywhere else or your foot will go through the fabric and you won’t be able to fly.”
Tik Duchwitz went first. Poul said: “On the left side you see a silver-colored throttle lever, which controls the speed of the engine, and lower down a green trim lever which applies a spring loading to the elevator control. If the trim is correctly set when cruising, the aircraft should fly level when you take your hand off the stick.”
Harald went last. He could not help being interested, despite his resentment of the smoothly arrogant way Poul had swept Karen Duchwitz off on her bicycle.
As he stepped down, Poul said, “So, what do you think, Harald?”
Harald shrugged. “It seems straightforward.”
“Then you can go first,” Poul said with a grin.
The others laughed, but Harald was pleased.
“Let’s all get kitted up,” Poul said.
They returned to the hangar and put on flying suits-step-in overalls that buttoned in front. Helmets and goggles were also given out. To Harald’s annoyance, Poul made a point of helping him.
“Last time we met was at Kirstenslot,” Poul said as he adjusted Harald’s goggles.
Harald nodded curtly, not wishing to be reminded. Still, he could not help wondering exactly what Poul’s relationship with Karen was. Were they just dating, or something more? Did she kiss him passionately and let him touch her body? Did they talk of getting married? Had they had sexual intercourse? He did not want to think about these things, but he could not help it.
When they were ready, the first five students returned to the field, each with a pilot. Harald would have liked to go up with his brother, but once again Poul chose Harald. It was almost as if he wanted to get to know Harald better.
An airman in oily overalls was refueling the aircraft, standing with one foot in a toehold in the fuselage. The tank was in the center of the upper wing where it passed above the front seat-a worrying position, Harald felt. Would he be able to forget the gallons of inflammable fluid over his head?
“First, the preflight inspection,” Poul said. He leaned into the cockpit. “We check that the magneto switches are off and the throttle is closed.” He looked at the wheels. “Chocks in place.” He kicked the tires and wiggled the ailerons. “You mentioned that you had worked on the new German base at Sande,” he said casually.
“What sort of work?”
“Just general laboring-digging holes, mixing concrete, carrying bricks.”
Poul moved to the back of the aircraft and checked the movement of the elevators. “Did you find out what the place is for?”
“Not then, no. As soon as the basic construction work was done, the Danish workers were dismissed, and the Germans took over. But I’m pretty sure it’s a radio station of some kind.”
“I think you mentioned that last time. But how do you know?”
“I’ve seen the equipment.”
Poul looked at him sharply, and Harald realized this was no casual inquiry. “Is it visible from outside?”
“No. The place is fenced and guarded, and the radio equipment is screened by trees, except on the side facing the sea, and that part of the beach is off limits.”
“So how come you saw it?”
“I was in a hurry to get home, so I took a shortcut across the base.”
Poul crouched down behind the rudder and checked the tail skid shoe. “So,” he said, “what did you see?”
“A large aerial, the biggest I’ve ever come across, maybe twelve feet square, on a rotating base.”
The airman who had been refueling the aircraft interrupted the conversation. “Ready when you are, sir.”
Poul said to Harald, “Ready to fly?”
“Front or back?”
“The trainee always sits in the back.”
Harald climbed in. He had to stand on the bucket seat then ease himself down. The cockpit was narrow, and he wondered how fat pilots managed, then he realized there were no fat pilots.
Because of the nose-up angle at which the aircraft sat on the grass, he could see nothing in front of him but the clear blue sky. He had to lean out to one side to see the ground ahead.
He put his feet on the rudder pedals and his right hand on the control stick. Experimentally, he moved the stick from side to side and saw the ailerons move up and down at his command. With his left hand he touched the throttle and trim lever.
On the fuselage just outside his cockpit were two small knobs which he assumed were the twin magneto switches.
Poul leaned in to adjust Harald’s safety harness. “These aircraft were designed for training, so they have dual controls,” he said. “While I’m flying, rest your hands and feet lightly on the controls and feel how I’m moving them. I’ll tell you when to take over.”
“How will we talk?”
Poul pointed to a Y-shaped rubber pipe like a doctor’s stethoscope. “This works like the speaking tube on a ship.” He showed Harald how to fix the ends to earpieces in his flying helmet. The foot of the Y was plugged into an aluminum pipe which undoubtedly led to the front cockpit. Another tube with a mouthpiece was used for speaking.
Poul climbed into the front seat. A moment later Harald heard his voice through the speaking tube. “Can you hear me?”
“Loud and clear.”
The airman stood by at the left front of the aircraft, and a shouted dialogue ensued, with the airman asking questions and Poul answering.
“Ready to start, sir?”
“Ready to start.”
“Fuel on, switches off, throttle closed?”
“Fuel is on, switches are off, throttle is closed.”
Harald expected the airman to turn the propeller at that point, but instead he moved to the right side of the aircraft, opened the cowling panel in the fuselage, and fiddled with the engine-priming it, Harald assumed. Then he closed the panel and returned to the nose of the aircraft.
“Sucking in, sir,” he said, then he reached up and pulled the propeller blade down. He repeated the action three times, and Harald guessed this procedure drew fuel into the cylinders.
The airman reached over the lower wing and flicked the two little switches just outside Harald’s cockpit. “Throttle set?”
Harald felt the throttle lever move forward half an inch under his hand, then heard Poul say, “Throttle set.”
Poul reached out and flicked the switches forward of his cockpit.
Once again the airman swung the propeller, this time stepping back smartly immediately afterward. The engine fired and the propeller turned. There was a roar, and the little aircraft trembled. Harald had a sudden vivid sense of how light and frail it was, and remembered with a sense of shock that it was made, not of metal, but of wood and linen. The vibration was not like that of a car or even a motorcycle, which felt solid and firmly grounded by comparison. This was more like climbing a young tree and feeling the wind shake its slender branches.
Harald heard Poul’s voice over the speaking tube. “We have to let the engine warm up. It takes a few minutes.”
Harald thought about Poul’s questions on the subject of the base at Sande. This was not idle curiosity, he felt sure. Poul had a purpose. He wanted to know the strategic importance of the base. Why? Was Poul part of some secret Resistance movement? What else could it be?
The engine note rose, and Poul reached out and turned the magneto switches off and on again in turn-performing yet another safety check, Harald assumed. Then the note declined to idling pitch, and at last Poul signaled to the airman to remove the wheel chocks. Harald felt a lurch, and the aircraft moved forward.
The pedals at his feet moved as Poul used the rudder to steer the aircraft across the grass. They taxied to the runway, which was marked by little flags, and turned into the wind, then they stopped, and Poul said, “A few more checks before we take off.”
For the first time, it occurred to Harald that what he was about to do was dangerous. His brother had been flying for years without an accident, but other pilots had crashed, and some had died. He told himself that people died in cars, on motorcycles, and aboard boats-but somehow this felt different. He made himself stop thinking about the dangers. He was not about to panic and disgrace himself in front of the class.
Suddenly the throttle lever beneath his hand moved smoothly forward, the engine roared louder, and the Tiger Moth eagerly moved along the runway. After only a few seconds, the control stick eased away from Harald’s knees, and he felt himself tip forward slightly as the tail lifted behind him. The little aircraft gathered speed, rattling and shaking over the grass. Harald’s blood seemed to thrill with excitement. Then the stick eased back under his hand, the aircraft seemed to jump from the ground, and they were airborne.
It was exhilarating. They climbed steadily. To one side, Harald could see a small village. In crowded Denmark, there were not many places from which you could not see a village. Poul banked right. Feeling himself tipped sideways, Harald fought the panicky notion that he was going to fall out of the cockpit.
To calm himself, he looked at the instruments. The rev counter showed two thousand rpm, and their speed was sixty miles per hour. They were at an altitude of one thousand feet already. The needle on the turn-and-slip indicator pointed straight up.
The aircraft straightened out and leveled off. The throttle lever moved back, the engine note dipped, and the revs slipped back to nineteen hundred. Poul said, “Are you holding the stick?”
“Check the line of the horizon. It probably goes through my head.”
“In one ear and out the other.”
“When I release the controls, I want you to simply keep the wings level and the horizon in the same place relative to my ears.”
Feeling nervous, Harald said, “Okay.”
“You have control.”
Harald felt the aircraft come alive in his hands, as every slight movement he made affected its flight. The line of the horizon fell to Poul’s shoulders, showing that the nose had lifted, and he realized that a barely conscious fear of diving to the ground was making him pull back on the stick. He pushed it forward infinitesimally, and had the satisfaction of seeing the horizon line slowly rise to Poul’s ears.
The aircraft lurched sideways and banked. Harald felt he had lost control and they were about to fall out of the sky. “What was that?” he cried.
“Just a gust of wind. Correct for it, but not too much.”
Fighting back panic, Harald moved the stick against the direction of bank. The aircraft lurched in the other direction, but at least he felt he was controlling it, and he corrected again with another small movement. Then he saw that he was climbing again, and brought the nose down. He found he had to concentrate fiercely on responding to the aircraft’s slightest motion just to keep a steady course. He felt that a mistake could send him crashing to the ground.
When Poul spoke, Harald resented the interruption. “That’s very good,” Poul said. “You’re getting the hang of it.”
Harald felt he just needed to practice for another year or two.
“Now press lightly on the rudder pedals with both feet,” Poul said.
Harald had not thought about his feet for a while. “All right,” he said brusquely.
“Look at the turn-and-slip indicator.”
Harald wanted to say, For God’s sake, how can I do that and fly the aircraft at the same time? He forced himself to take his eyes off the horizon for a second and look at the instrument panel. The needle was still in the twelve noon position. He looked back at the horizon and found that he had lifted the nose again. He corrected.
“When I take my feet off the rudder, you’ll find the nose will yaw left and right with the turbulence. In case you’re not sure, check the indicator. When the aircraft yaws left, the needle will move to the right, telling you to press down with your right foot to correct.”
Harald felt no sideways movement, but a few moments later, when he managed to steal a glance at the dial, he saw he was yawing left. He pressed down on the rudder pedal with his right foot. The needle did not move. He pressed harder. Slowly, the pointer edged back to the central position. He looked up and saw that he was diving slightly. He pulled the stick back. He checked the turn-and-slip indicator again. The needle was steady.
It would have seemed simple and easy if he had not been fifteen hundred feet up in the air.
Poul said, “Now let’s try a turn.”
“Oh, shit,” said Harald.
“First, look left to see if there’s anything in the way.”
Harald glanced to the left. In the far distance he could see another Tiger Moth, presumably with one of his classmates aboard, doing the same as he. That was reassuring. “Nothing nearby,” he said.
“Ease the stick to the left.”
Harald did so. The aircraft banked left and he again experienced the sickening feeling that he was going to fall out. But the aircraft began to swing around to the left, and Harald felt a surge of excitement as he realized he was actually steering the Tiger Moth.
“In a turn, the nose tends to dip,” Poul said. Harald saw that indeed the aircraft was heading downward, and he pulled back on the stick.
“Watch that turn-and-slip indicator,” Poul said. “You’re doing the equivalent of a skid.”
Harald checked the dial and saw that the needle had moved to the right. He pressed the rudder pedal with his right foot. Once again, it responded only slowly.
The aircraft had turned through ninety degrees, and Harald was eager to straighten up and feel safe again, but Poul seemed to read his mind-or perhaps all pupils felt the same way at this point-and said, “Keep turning, you’re doing fine.”
The angle of bank seemed dangerously steep to Harald but he held the turn, keeping the nose up, checking the slip indicator every few seconds. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a bus driving along the road below, just as if nothing in the least dramatic was happening in the sky, and there was no danger of a Jansborg schoolboy dropping out of the heavens to his death on its roof.
He had turned through three-quarters of a circle before Poul at last said, “Straighten up.”
With relief, Harald eased the stick right, and the aircraft straightened.
“Watch that slip indicator.”
The needle had moved left. Harald pressed the rudder pedal with his left foot.
“Can you see the airfield?”
At first Harald could not. The countryside beneath him was a meaningless pattern of fields dotted with buildings. He had no idea what the air base would look like from above.
Poul helped him out. “A row of long white buildings beside a bright green field. Look to the left of the propeller.”
“I see it.”
“Head that way, keeping the airfield on the left of our nose.”
Until now, Harald had not thought about the course they were following. It had been all he could manage to keep the aircraft steady. Now he had to do all the things he had previously learned and at the same time head for home. There was always one thing too many to think about.
“You’re climbing,” Poul said. “Throttle back an inch and bring us down to a thousand feet as we approach the buildings.”
Harald checked the altimeter and saw that the aircraft was indeed at two thousand feet. It had been fifteen hundred last time he looked. He throttled back and eased the stick forward.
“Dip the nose a bit more,” said Poul.
Harald felt the aircraft was in danger of diving vertically to the ground, but he forced himself to push the stick farther forward.
“Good,” said Poul.
By the time they were at a thousand feet, the base was below them.
“Turn left around the far side of that lake and bring us in line with the runway,” Poul ordered.
Harald leveled out and checked the slip indicator.
As he drew parallel with the end of the lake, he moved the stick left. This time, the feeling that he was going to fall out was not so bad.
“Watch that slip indicator.”
He had forgotten. Correcting with his foot, he brought the aircraft around.
“Throttle back an inch.”
Harald brought the lever back, and the engine note dipped sharply.
Harald eased it forward again.
“Dip the nose.”
Harald pushed the control stick forward.
“That’s it. But try to keep heading for the runway.”
Harald saw that he had wandered off course and was headed for the hangars. He put the aircraft into a shallow turn, correcting with the rudder, then lined it up with the runway again. But now he could see that he was too high.
“I’ll take over from here,” Poul said.
Harald had thought Poul might talk him through a landing, but clearly he had not gained sufficient control for that. He felt disappointed.
Poul closed the throttle. The engine note fell abruptly, giving Harald the worrying feeling that there was nothing to keep the aircraft from falling straight down, but in fact it glided gradually to the runway. A few seconds before touchdown, Poul eased the stick back. The aircraft seemed to float along a few inches above the earth. Harald felt the footwell pedals moving constantly, and realized Poul was steering with the rudder now that they were too close to the ground to dip a wing. At last there was a bump as the wheels and the tailskid touched earth.
Poul turned off the runway and taxied toward their parking space. Harald was thrilled. It had been even more exciting than he had imagined. He was also exhausted from concentrating so hard. It had only been a short time, he thought, then he glanced at his watch, and saw to his astonishment that they had been airborne for forty-five minutes. It had felt like five.
Poul shut down the engine and climbed out. Harald pushed back his goggles, took off his helmet, fumbled with his safety harness, and struggled out of his seat. He stepped onto the reinforced strip on the wing and jumped to the ground.
“You did very well,” said Poul. “Showed quite a talent for it, in fact-just like your brother.”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t bring it in to the runway.”
“I doubt if any of the other boys will even be allowed to try. Let’s go and get changed.”
When Harald had got out of his flying suit, Poul said, “Come to my office for a minute.” Harald went with him to a door marked “CHIEF FLYING INSTRUCTOR” and entered a small room with a filing cabinet, a desk, and a couple of chairs.
“Would you mind making a drawing of that radio equipment you were describing to me earlier?” Poul’s tone was casual, but his body was stiff with tension.
Harald had wondered whether that subject would come up again. “Sure.”
“It’s quite important. I won’t go into the reasons why.”
“That’s all right.”
“Sit at the desk. There’s a box of pencils and some paper in the drawer. Take your time. Do it over until you’re satisfied.”
“How long do you think you might need?”
“Maybe a quarter of an hour. It was dark so I can’t draw details. But I have a clear outline in my head.”
“I’ll leave you alone so you don’t feel pressured. I’ll come back in fifteen minutes.”
Poul left and Harald began to draw. He cast his mind back to that Saturday night in the pouring rain. There had been a circular concrete wall, he recalled, about six feet high. The aerial had been a grid of wires looking like bedsprings. Its rotating base was inside the circular wall, and cables had run from the back of the aerial into a duct.
First he drew the wall with the aerial above. He vaguely recalled that there had been one or two similar structures nearby, so he sketched them in lightly. Then he drew the machinery as if the wall were not there, showing its base and the cables. He was no artist but he could render machinery accurately, probably because he liked it.
When he had finished, he turned the sheet of paper over and made a plan of the island of Sande, showing the position of the base and the restricted area of beach.
Poul came back after fifteen minutes. He studied the drawings intently, then said, “This is excellent-thank you.”
He pointed to the ancillary structures Harald had sketched. “What are these?”
“I really don’t know. I didn’t look closely. But I thought I should put them in.”
“Quite right. One more question. This grid of wires, which is presumably an aerial. Is it flat, or dished?”
Harald racked his brains, but could not remember. “I’m not sure,” he said. “Sorry.”
“That’s all right.” Poul opened the filing cabinet. All the files were labeled with names, presumably of past and present pupils at the school. He selected one marked “Andersen, H.C.” It was not an unusual name, but Hans Christian Andersen was Denmark’s most famous writer, and Harald guessed the file might be a hiding place. Sure enough, Poul put the drawings in the folder and returned the file to its place.
“Let’s go back to the others,” he said. He went to the door. Stopping with his hand on the doorknob, he said, “Making drawings of German military installations is a crime, technically. It would be best not to mention this to anyone-not even Arne.”
Harald felt a pang of dismay. His brother was not involved in this. Even Arne’s best friend did not think he had the nerve.
Harald nodded. “I’ll agree to that-on one condition.”
Poul was surprised. “Condition? What?”
“That you tell me something honestly.”
He shrugged. “All right, I’ll try.”
“There is a Resistance movement, isn’t there?”
“Yes,” Poul said, looking serious. After a moment’s pause, he added, “And now you’re in it.”
Tilde Jespersen wore a light, flowery perfume that wafted across the pavement table and teased Peter Flemming’s nostrils, never quite strong enough for him to identify it, like an elusive memory. He imagined how the fragrance would rise from her warm skin as he slipped off her blouse, her skirt, and her underwear.
“What are you thinking about?” she said.
He was tempted to tell her. She would pretend shock, but secretly be pleased. He could tell when a woman was ready for that kind of talk, and he knew how do it: lightly, with a self-deprecating smile, but an underlying tone of sincerity.
Then he thought of his wife, and held back. He took his marital vows seriously. Other people might think he had a good excuse for breaking them, but he set himself higher standards.
So he said, “I was thinking about you tripping up the runaway mechanic at the aerodrome. You showed great presence of mind.”
“I didn’t even think about it, just stuck out my foot.”
“You have good instincts. I was never in favor of women police and, to tell you the truth, I still have my doubts-but no one could deny you’re a first class cop.”
She shrugged. “I have doubts myself. Maybe women ought to stay home and look after babies. But after Oskar died. .” Oskar had been her husband, a Copenhagen detective and friend of Peter’s. “I had to work, and law enforcement is the only life I know anything about. My father was a customs officer, my older brother is a Military Police officer, and my younger brother a uniformed policeman in Aarhus.”
“I’ll tell you the great thing about you, Tilde-you never try to get men to do your work by playing the helpless female.”
He intended his remark as a compliment, but she did not look as pleased as he had hoped. “I never ask for help at all,” she said crisply.
“Probably a good policy.”
She gave him a look he could not read. Puzzling over the sudden chill in the atmosphere, he wondered whether she might be afraid to ask for assistance in case she was immediately classed as a helpless female. He could see how she might resent that. After all, men asked one another for help all the time.
She said, “But why are you a cop? Your father has a successful business-don’t you want to take it over, one day?”
He shook his head ruefully. “I used to work at the hotel in the school holidays. I hated the guests, with their demands and complaints: this beef is overcooked, my mattress is lumpy, I’ve been waiting twenty minutes for a cup of coffee. I couldn’t stand it.”
The waiter came. Peter resisted the temptation to have herrings and onions on his smorrebrod, thinking, vaguely, that he might get close enough to Tilde for her to smell his breath, so he ordered soft cheese and cucumbers instead. They handed their ration cards to the waiter.
Tilde said, “Any progress in the spy case?”
“Not really. The two men we arrested at the aerodrome told us nothing. They were sent to Hamburg for what the Gestapo calls ‘deep interrogation,’ and they gave the name of their contact-Matthies Hertz, an army officer. But he has disappeared.”
“A dead end, then.”
“Yes.” The phrase made him think of another dead end he had run into. “Do you know any Jews?”
She looked surprised. “One or two, I should think. None in the police force. Why?”
“I’m making a list.”
“A list of Jews?”
“Where, in Copenhagen?”
“The usual reason. It’s my job to keep tabs on troublemakers.”
“And Jews are troublemakers?”
“The Germans think so.”
“You can see why they might have problems with Jews-but do we?”
He was taken aback. He had expected her to see this from his point of view. “It’s as well to be prepared. We have lists of union organizers, communists, foreign nationals, and members of the Danish Nazi Party.”
“And you think that’s the same thing?”
“It’s all information. Now, it’s easy to identify new Jewish immigrants, who’ve come here in the last fifty years. They dress funny, they speak with a peculiar accent, and most of them live in the same few Copenhagen streets. But there are also Jews whose families have been Danish for centuries. They look and talk the same as everyone else. Most of them eat roast pork and go to work on Saturday mornings. If we ever need to find them, we could have trouble. So I’m making a list.”
“How? You can’t just go round asking people if they know any Jews.”
“It’s a problem. I have two junior detectives going through the phone book, and one or two other lists, making notes of Jewish-sounding names.”
“That’s not very reliable. There are lots of people called Isaksen who aren’t Jewish.”
“And lots of Jews with names like Jan Christiansen. What I’d really like to do is raid the synagogue. They probably have a membership list.”
To his surprise, she was looking disapproving, but she said, “Why don’t you?”
“Juel won’t allow it.”
“I think he’s right.”
“Peter, can’t you see? What use might your list be put to in the future?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Peter said irritably. “If Jewish groups start to organize resistance to the Germans, we’ll know where to look for suspects.”
“And what if the Nazis just decide to round up all the Jews and send them to those concentration camps they have in Germany? They’ll use your list!”
“But why would they send the Jews to camps?”
“Because Nazis hate Jews. But we’re not Nazis, we’re police officers. We arrest people because they’ve committed crimes, not because we hate them.”
“I know that,” Peter said angrily. He was astonished to be attacked from this angle. Tilde should know that his motive was to uphold the law, not subvert it. “There’s always a risk that information will be misused.”
“So wouldn’t it be better not to make the damn list?”
How could she be so stupid? It maddened him to be opposed by someone he thought of as a comrade in the war against lawbreakers. “No!” he shouted. He lowered his voice with an effort. “If we thought that way, we wouldn’t have a security department at all!”
Tilde shook her head. “Look, Peter, the Nazis have done a lot of good things, we both know that. They’re on the side of the police, basically. They’ve clamped down on subversion, they maintain law and order, they’ve reduced unemployment, and so on. But on the subject of Jews, they’re insane.”
“Maybe, but they’re making the rules now.”
“Just look at the Danish Jews-they’re law-abiding, hardworking, they send their children to school. . It’s ludicrous to make a list of their names and addresses as if they were all part of some communist conspiracy.”
He sat back and said accusingly, “So, you’d refuse to work on this with me?”
It was her turn to be offended. “How can you say that? I’m a professional police officer, and you’re my boss. I’ll do what you say. You ought to know that.”
“Do you mean it?”
“Look, if you wanted to make a complete list of witches in Denmark, I’d tell you I didn’t think witches were criminals or subversives-but I’d help you make the list.”
Their food arrived. There was an awkward silence as they began to eat. After a few minutes, Tilde said, “How are things at home?”
Peter had a sudden memory of himself and Inge, a few days before the accident, walking to church on Sunday morning, two healthy, happy young people in their best clothes. With all the scum and riffraff in the world, why did it have to be his wife whose mind was destroyed by that drunken boy in his sports car? “Inge is the same,” he said.
“When the brain is damaged that badly, it doesn’t mend. There will never be any improvement.”
“It must be hard for you.”
“I’m fortunate to have a generous father. I couldn’t afford a nurse on police wages-Inge would have to go into an asylum.”
Once again Tilde gave him a look that was hard to read. It was almost as if she felt the asylum might not be a bad solution. “What about the driver of the sports car?”
“Finn Jonk. His trial started yesterday. It should be over in a day or two.”
“At last! What do you think will happen?”
“He’s pleading guilty. I assume he’ll be jailed for five or ten years.”
“It doesn’t seem enough.”
“For destroying someone’s mind? What would be enough?”
After lunch, when they were walking back to the Politigaarden, Tilde put her arm through Peter’s. It was an affectionate gesture, and he felt she was telling him that she liked him despite their disagreement. As they approached the ultramodern police headquarters building, he said, “I’m sorry you disapprove of my Jewish list.”
She stopped and turned to him. “You’re not a bad man, Peter.” To his surprise, she seemed to be on the edge of tears. “Your sense of duty is your great strength. But doing your duty isn’t the only law.”
“I don’t really understand what you mean.”
“I know.” She turned away and went into the building alone.
Making his way to his office, he tried to see the issue from her point of view. If the Nazis imprisoned law-abiding Jews, that would be a crime, and his list would help the criminals. But you could say that about a gun, or even a car: the fact that something might be used by criminals did not mean it was wrong to have it.
As he was crossing the open central courtyard, he was hailed by his boss, Frederik Juel. “Come with me,” Juel said briskly. “We’ve been summoned by General Braun.” He marched ahead, his military bearing giving an impression of decisiveness and efficiency that Peter knew to be quite false.
It was a short walk from the Politigaarden to the town square, where the Germans had taken over a building called the Dagmarhus. It was surrounded by barbed wire and had cannons and antiaircraft guns on the flat roof. They were shown to Walter Braun’s office, a corner room overlooking the square, comfortably furnished with an antique desk and a leather couch. There was a rather small picture of the Fuhrer on the wall and a framed photograph on the desk of two small boys in school uniform. Braun wore his pistol even here, Peter noted, as if to say that although he had a cozy office, nevertheless he meant business.
Braun was looking pleased with himself. “Our people have decoded the message you found in the hollow airplane chock,” he said in his habitual near-whisper.
Peter was elated.
“Very impressive,” Juel murmured.
“Apparently it was not difficult,” Braun went on. “The British use simple codes, often based on a poem or famous passage of prose. Once our cryptanalysts get a few words, a professor of English can usually fill in the rest. I have never before known the study of English literature to serve any useful purpose.” He laughed at his own wit.
Peter said impatiently, “What was in the message?”
Braun opened a file on his desk. “It comes from a group calling themselves the Nightwatchmen.” Although they were speaking German, he used the Danish word Natvaegterne. “Does that mean anything to you?”
Peter was taken by surprise. “I’ll check the files, of course, but I’m pretty sure we haven’t come across this name before.” He frowned, considering. “Real-life nightwatchmen are usually police or soldiers, aren’t they?”
Juel bridled. “I hardly think that Danish police officers-”
“I didn’t say they were Danish,” Peter interrupted. “The spies could be German traitors.” He shrugged. “Or they may just aspire to military status.” He looked at Braun. “What’s the content of the message, General?”
“Details of our military dispositions in Denmark. Take a look.” He passed a sheaf of papers across the desk. “Locations of antiaircraft batteries in and around Copenhagen. German naval vessels in the harbor during the last month. Regiments stationed in Aarhus, Odense, and Morlunde.”
“Is the information accurate?”
Braun hesitated. “Not precisely. Close to the truth, but not exact.”
Peter nodded. “Then the spies probably are not Germans with inside information, for such people would be able to get correct details from the files. More likely, they are Danes who are careful observers making educated estimates.”
Braun nodded. “A shrewd deduction. But can you find these people?”
“I certainly hope so.”
Braun’s focus of attention had switched entirely to Peter, as if Juel were not there, or just an underling in attendance rather than the senior officer. “Do you think the same people are putting out the illegal newspapers?”
Peter was pleased that Braun recognized his expertise, but frustrated that Juel was nevertheless the boss. He hoped that Braun himself had noted this irony. He shook his head. “We know the underground editors and we keep an eye on their activities. If they had been making meticulous observations of German military dispositions, we would have noticed. No-I believe this is a new organization we haven’t encountered.”
“Then how will you catch them?”
“There is one group of potential subversives whom we have never properly investigated-the Jews.”
Peter heard a sharp intake of breath from Juel.
Braun said, “You had better take a look at them.”
“It’s not always easy to know who the Jews are, in this country.”
“Then go to the synagogue!”
“Good idea,” Peter said. “They may have a membership list. That would be a start.”
Juel gave Peter a thunderous look, but said nothing.
Braun said, “My superiors in Berlin are impressed with the loyalty and efficiency of the Danish police in intercepting this message to British intelligence. Nevertheless, they were keen to send in a team of Gestapo investigators. I have dissuaded them, by promising that you will vigorously investigate the spy ring and bring the traitors to justice.” It was a long speech for a man with one lung, and it left him breathless. He paused, looking from Peter to Juel and back again. When he had caught his breath, he finished, “For your own sakes, and for the good of everyone in Denmark, you’d better succeed.”
Juel and Peter stood up, and Juel said tightly, “We will do everything possible.”
They left. As soon as they were outside the building, Juel rounded on Peter with a blazing blue-eyed stare. “You know perfectly well this has nothing to do with the synagogue, damn you.”
“I know nothing of the kind.”
“You’re just toadying to the Nazis, you disgusting creep.”
“Why shouldn’t we help them? They represent the law, now.”
“You think they’ll help your career.”
“And why not?” Peter said, stung to retaliate. “The Copenhagen elite are prejudiced against men from the provinces-but the Germans may be more fair-minded.”
Juel was incredulous. “Is that what you believe?”
“At least they’re not blind to the abilities of boys who did not go to Jansborg Skole.”
“So you think you were passed over because of your background? Idiot-you didn’t get the job because you’re too extreme! You’ve got no sense of proportion. You’d wipe crime out by arresting everyone who looked suspicious!” He made a disgusted sound. “If I have anything to do with it, you’ll never get another promotion. Now get out of my sight.” He walked away.
Peter burned with resentment. Who did Juel think he was? Having a famous ancestor did not make him better than anyone else. He was a cop, just like Peter, and he had no right to talk as if he were a higher life form.
But Peter had got his way. He had defeated Juel. He had permission to raid the synagogue.
Juel would hate him forever for that. But did it matter? Braun, not Juel, was the power now. Better to be Braun’s favorite and Juel’s enemy than the other way around.
Back at headquarters, Peter swiftly assembled his team, choosing the same detectives he had used at Kastrup: Conrad, Dresler, and Ellegard. He said to Tilde Jespersen, “I’d like to take you along, if you don’t object.”
“Why would I object?” she said testily.
“After our conversation over lunch. .”
“Please! I’m a professional. I told you that.”
“Good enough,” he said.
They drove to a street called Krystalgade. The yellow-brick synagogue stood side-on to the street, as if hunching a shoulder against a hostile world. Peter stationed Ellegard at the gate to make sure no one could sneak out.
An elderly man in a yarmulke appeared from the Jewish old people’s home next door. “May I help you?” he said politely.
“We’re police officers,” Peter said. “Who are you?”
The man’s face took on a look of such abject fear that Peter almost felt sorry for him. “Gorm Rasmussen, I’m the day manager of the home,” he said in a shaky voice.
“You have keys to the synagogue?”
“Let us in.”
The man took a bunch of keys from his pocket and opened a door.
Most of the building was taken up by the main hall, a richly decorated room with gilded Egyptian columns supporting galleries over the side aisles. “These Jews have plenty of money,” Conrad muttered.
Peter said to Rasmussen, “Show me your membership list.”
“Membership? What do you mean?”
“You must have the names and addresses of your congregation.”
“No-all Jews are welcome.”
Peter’s instinct told him the man was telling the truth, but he would search the place anyway. “Are there any offices here?”
“No. Just small robing rooms for the rabbi and other officials, and a cloakroom for the congregation to hang their coats.”
Peter nodded to Dresler and Conrad. “Check them out.” He walked up the center of the room to the pulpit end and climbed a short flight of steps to a raised dais. Behind a curtain he found a concealed niche. “What have we here?”
“The Torah scrolls,” said Rasmussen.
There were six large, heavy-looking scrolls lovingly wrapped in velvet cloth, providing perfect hiding places for secret documents. “Unwrap them all,” he said. “Spread them out on the floor so I can see there’s nothing else inside.”
“Yes, right away.”
While Rasmussen was doing his bidding, Peter walked a short distance away with Tilde, and talked to her while keeping a suspicious eye on the manager. “Are you okay?”
“I told you.”
“If we find something, will you admit I was right?”
She smiled. “If we don’t, will you admit you were wrong?”
He nodded, pleased that she was not angry with him.
Rasmussen spread out the scrolls, covered with Hebrew script. Peter saw nothing suspicious. He supposed it was possible they had no register of members. More likely, they used to have one but destroyed it as a precaution the day the Germans invaded. He felt frustrated. He had gone to a lot of trouble for this raid, and had made himself even more unpopular with his boss. It would be maddening if it came to nothing.
Dresler and Conrad returned from opposite ends of the building. Dresler was empty-handed, but Conrad was carrying a copy of the newspaper Reality.
Peter took the newspaper and showed it to Rasmussen. “This is illegal.”
“I’m sorry,” the man said. He looked as if he might cry. “They push them through the letter box.”
The people who printed the newspaper were not being sought by the police, so those who merely read it were in no danger at all-but Rasmussen did not know that, and Peter pushed his moral advantage. “You must write to your people sometimes,” he said.
“Well, of course, to leading members of the Jewish community. But we don’t have a list. We know who they are.” He tried a weak smile. “So do you, I imagine.”
It was true. Peter knew the names of a dozen or more prominent Jews: a couple of bankers, a judge, several professors at the university, some political figures, a painter. They were not who he was after: they were too well known to be spies. Such people could not stand at the dockside counting ships without being noticed. “Don’t you send letters to the ordinary people, asking them to donate to charities, telling them of events you’re organizing, celebrations, picnics, concerts?”
“No,” said the man. “We just put up a notice at the community center.”
“Ah,” said Peter with a satisfied smile. “The community center. And where is that?”
“Near Christiansborg, in Ny Kongensgade.”
It was about a mile away. “Dresler,” said Peter. “Keep this guy here for fifteen minutes and make sure he doesn’t warn anyone.”
They drove to the street called Ny Kongensgade. The Jewish community center was a large eighteenth-century building with an internal courtyard and an elegant staircase, though it needed redecorating. The cafeteria was closed, and there was no one playing Ping-Pong in the basement. A well-dressed young man with a disdainful air was in charge of the office. He said they had no list of names and addresses, but the detectives searched the place anyway.
The young man’s name was Ingemar Gammel, and something about him made Peter thoughtful. What was it? Unlike Rasmussen, Gammel was not frightened; but whereas Peter had felt Rasmussen was scared but innocent, Gammel gave him the opposite impression.
Gammel sat at a desk, wearing a waistcoat with a watch chain, and looked on coolly while his office was ransacked. His clothes seemed expensive. Why was a wealthy young man acting as secretary here? This kind of work was normally done by underpaid girls, or middle-class housewives whose children had flown the nest.
“I think this is what we’re looking for, Boss,” said Conrad, passing Peter a black ring binder. “A list of rat holes.”
Peter looked inside and saw page after page of names and addresses, several hundred of them. “Bang,” he said. “Well done.” But instinct told him there was more to find here. “Keep looking, everyone, in case something else turns up.”
He flicked through the pages, looking for anything odd, or familiar, or. . something. He had that dissatisfied feeling. But nothing caught his eye.
Gammel’s jacket hung from a hook behind the door. Peter read the tailor’s label. The suit had been made by Anderson amp; Sheppard of Savile Row, London, in 1938. Peter was jealous. He bought his clothes from the best shops in Copenhagen, but he could never afford an English suit. There was a silk handkerchief in the outside breast pocket. He found a well-stuffed money clip in the left side pocket. In the right pocket was a train ticket to Aarhus, return, with a neat hole made by a ticket inspector’s punch. “Why did you go to Aarhus?”
“To visit friends.”
The decoded message had included the name of the German regiment stationed at Aarhus, Peter recalled. However, Aarhus was Denmark’s largest town after Copenhagen, and hundreds of people traveled between the two cities every day.
In the inside pocket of the jacket was a slim diary. Peter opened it.
Gammel said with contempt, “Do you enjoy your work?”
Peter looked up with a smile. He did enjoy infuriating pompous rich men who thought they were superior to ordinary people. But what he said was, “Like a plumber, I see a lot of shit.” He pointedly returned his gaze to Gammel’s diary.
Gammel’s handwriting was stylish, like his suit, with big capitals and full loops. The entries in the diary all looked normal: lunch dates, theater, Mother’s birthday, phone Jorgen about Wilder. “Who is Jorgen?” Peter asked.
“My cousin, Jorgen Lumpe. We exchange books.”
“And he is. .?”
“The American writer. The Bridge of San Luis Rey. You must have read it.”
There was a sneer in that, an implication that policemen were not sufficiently cultured to read foreign novels, but Peter ignored it and turned to the back of the diary. As he expected, he found a list of names and addresses, some with phone numbers. He glanced up at Gammel, and thought he saw the hint of a flush on his clean-shaven cheeks. That was promising. He scrutinized the address list with care.
He picked a name at random. “Hilde Bjergager-who is she?”
“A lady friend,” Gammel answered coolly.
Peter tried another. “Bertil Bruun?”
Gammel remained unflustered. “We play tennis.”
“My bank manager.”
The other detectives had stopped searching and fallen silent, sensing the tension.
For the first time, Gammel showed a hint of emotion, but it was relief, rather than guilt. Why? Did he think he had got away with something? What was the significance of the picture dealer Klausen? Or was the previous name the important one? Had Gammel shown relief because Peter had moved on to Klausen? “Poul Kirke is an old friend?”
“We were at university together.” Gammel’s voice was even, but there was just the suggestion of fear in his eyes.
Peter glanced at Tilde, and she gave a slight nod. She, too, had seen something in Gammel’s reaction.
Peter looked again at the diary. There was no address for Kirke, but beside the phone number was a capital N, written uncharacteristically small. “What does this mean-the letter N?” Peter said.
“Naestved. It’s his number at Naestved.”
“What’s his other number?”
“He doesn’t have another.”
“So why do you need the annotation?”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t remember,” Gammel said, showing irritation.
It might have been true. On the other hand, N might stand for Nightwatchman.
Peter said, “What does he do for a living?”
“Ah.” Peter had speculated that the Nightwatchmen might be army people, because of their name and because they were accurate observers of military details. “At which base?”
“I thought you said he was at Naestved.”
“It’s twenty miles away.”
“Well, that’s how I remember it.”
Peter nodded thoughtfully, then said to Conrad, “Arrest this lying prick.”
The search of Ingemar Gammel’s apartment was disappointing. Peter found nothing of interest: no code book, no subversive literature, no weapons. He concluded that Gammel must be a minor figure in the spy ring, one whose role was simply to make observations and report them to a central contact. That key man would compile the messages and send them to England. But who was the pivotal figure? Peter hoped it might be Poul Kirke.
Before driving the fifty miles to the flying school at Vodal where Poul Kirke was stationed, Peter spent an hour at home with his wife, Inge. As he fed her apple-and-honey sandwiches in tiny squares, he found himself daydreaming about domestic life with Tilde Jespersen. He imagined himself watching Tilde getting ready to go out in the evening-washing her hair and drying it vigorously with a towel, sitting at the dressing table in her underwear polishing her nails, looking in the mirror as she tied a silk scarf around her neck. He realized he was yearning to be with a woman who could do things for herself.
He had to stop thinking this way. He was a married man. The fact that a man’s wife was sick did not provide an excuse for adultery. Tilde was a colleague and a friend, and she should never be any more to him than that.
Feeling restless and discontented, he turned on the radio and listened to the news while he waited for the evening nurse to arrive. The British had launched a new attack in North Africa, crossing the Egyptian border into Libya with a tank division in an attempt to relieve the besieged city of Tobruk. It sounded like a major operation, though the censored Danish radio station naturally predicted that German antitank guns would decimate the British forces.
The phone rang, and Peter crossed the room to pick it up.
“Allan Forslund here, Traffic Division.” Forslund was the officer dealing with Finn Jonk, the drunk driver who had crashed into Peter’s car. “The trial has just ended.”
“Jonk got six months.”
Peter’s vision blurred. He felt he was going to fall over, and he put a hand on the wall to steady himself. “For destroying my wife’s mind and ruining my life? Six months?”
“The judge said he had already suffered torment and he would have to live with the guilt for the rest of his life.”
“I thought the prosecution was going to ask for a severe sentence.”
“We did. But Jonk’s lawyer was very persuasive. Said the boy has stopped drinking, rides around on a bicycle, is studying to be an architect-”
“Anyone can say that.”
“I don’t accept this! I refuse to accept it!”
“Nothing we can do-”
“Like hell there isn’t.”
“Peter, don’t take any hasty action.”
Peter tried to calm himself. “Of course I won’t.”
“Are you alone?”
“I’m going back to work in a few minutes.”
“So long as you have someone to talk to.”
“Yes. Thanks for calling, Allan.”
“I’m very sorry we didn’t do better.”
“Not your fault. A slick lawyer and a stupid judge. We’ve seen that before.” Peter hung up. He had forced himself to sound calm, but he was boiling. If Jonk had been at large he might have sought him out and killed him-but the kid was safe in jail, if only for a few months. He thought of finding the lawyer, arresting him on a pretext, and beating the shit out of him; but he knew he would not do it. The lawyer had not broken any laws.
He looked at Inge. She was sitting where he had left her, watching him blank-faced, waiting for him to continue feeding her. He noticed that some of the chewed apple had dribbled from her mouth onto the bodice of her dress. She was not normally a messy eater, despite her condition. Before the accident she had been extraordinarily fastidious about her appearance. Seeing her with food on her chin and stains on her clothing suddenly made him want to weep.
He was saved by the doorbell. He pulled himself together rapidly and answered it. The nurse had arrived at the same time as Bent Conrad, who had come to pick him up for the journey to Vodal. He shrugged on his jacket and left the nurse to clean Inge up.
They went in two cars, standard black police Buicks. Peter thought the army might put obstacles in his way, so he had asked General Braun to detail a German officer to impose authority if necessary, and a Major Schwarz from Braun’s staff was in the lead car.
The journey took an hour and a half. Schwarz smoked a large cigar, filling the car with fumes. Peter tried not to think about the outrageously light sentence on Finn Jonk. He might need his wits about him at the air base, and he did not want his judgment to be skewed by rage. He tried to smother his blazing fury, but it smoldered on under a blanket of false calm, stinging his eyes with its smoke, like Schwarz’s cigar.
Vodal was a grass airfield with a scatter of low buildings along one side. Security was light-it was only a training school, so nothing remotely secret went on here-and a single guard at the gate casually waved them through without asking their business. Half a dozen Tiger Moths were parked in a line, like birds on a fence. There were also some gliders and two Messerschmitt Me-109s.
As Peter got out of the car, he saw Arne Olufsen, his boyhood rival from Sande, sauntering across the car park in his smart brown army uniform. The sour taste of resentment came into Peter’s mouth.
Peter and Arne had been friends, all through childhood, until the quarrel between their families twelve years ago. It had started when Axel Flemming, Peter’s father, had been accused of tax fraud. Axel felt the prosecution was outrageous: he had only done what everyone else did, and understated his profits by inflating his costs. He had been convicted, and had to pay a hefty fine on top of all the back tax.
He had persuaded his friends and neighbors to see the case as an argument about an accounting technicality, rather than an accusation of dishonesty. Then Pastor Olufsen had intervened.
There was a church rule that any member who committed a crime should be “read out,” or expelled from the congregation. The offender could rejoin the following Sunday, if he wished, but for one week he was an outsider. The procedure was not invoked for trivial crimes such as speeding, and Axel had argued that his transgression fell into that category. Pastor Olufsen thought otherwise.
This humiliation had been much worse for Axel than the fine with which the court had punished him. His name had been read to the congregation, he had been obliged to leave his place and sit at the back of the church throughout the service, and to complete his mortification the pastor had preached a sermon on the text “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”
Peter winced every time he remembered it. Axel was proud of his position as a successful businessman and community leader, and there could be no greater punishment for him than to lose the respect of his neighbors. It had been torture to Peter to see his father publicly reprimanded by a pompous, self-righteous prig like Olufsen. He believed his father had deserved the fine, but not the humiliation in church. He had sworn then that if any member of the Olufsen family ever transgressed, there would be no mercy.
He hardly dared to hope that Arne was involved in the spy ring. That would be a sweet revenge.
Arne caught his eye. “Peter!” He looked surprised, but not afraid.
“Is this where you work?” Peter said.
“When there’s any work to do.” Arne was as debonair and relaxed as ever. If he had anything to feel guilty about, he was concealing it well.
“Of course, you’re a pilot.”
“This is a training school, but we don’t have many pupils. More to the point, what are you doing here?” Arne glanced at the major in German uniform standing behind Peter. “Is there a dangerous outbreak of littering? Or has someone been cycling after dark without lights?”
Peter did not find Arne’s raillery very funny. “Routine investigation,” he replied shortly. “Where will I find your commanding officer?”
Arne pointed to one of the low buildings. “Base headquarters. You need Squadron Leader Renthe.”
Peter left him and went into the building. Renthe was a lanky man with a bristly moustache and a sour expression. Peter introduced himself and said, “I’m here to interview one of your men, a Flight Lieutenant Poul Kirke.”
The squadron leader looked pointedly at Major Schwarz and said, “What’s the problem?”
The reply None of your damn business sprang to Peter’s lips, but he was resolved to be calm, so he told a polite lie. “He’s been dealing in stolen property.”
“When military personnel are suspected of crimes, we prefer to investigate the matter ourselves.”
“Of course you do. However. .” He moved a hand in the direction of Schwarz. “Our German friends want the police to deal with it, so your preferences are irrelevant. Is Kirke on the base at this moment?”
“He happens to be flying.”
Peter raised his eyebrows. “I thought your planes were grounded.”
“As a rule, yes, but there are exceptions. We’re expecting a visit from a Luftwaffe group tomorrow, and they want to be taken up in our training aircraft, so we have permission to do test flights today to make sure the aircraft are in readiness. Kirke should land in a few minutes.”
“I’ll search his quarters meanwhile. Where does he bed down?”
Renthe hesitated, then answered reluctantly. “Dormitory A, at the far end of the runway.”
“Does he have an office, or a locker, or anywhere else he might keep things?”
“He has a small office three doors along this corridor.”
“I’ll start there. Tilde, come with me. Conrad, go out to the airfield to meet Kirke when he comes back-I don’t want him to slip away. Dresler and Ellegard, search Dormitory A. Squadron Leader, thank you for your help. .” Peter saw the commander’s eyes stray to the phone on the desk, and added, “Don’t make any phone calls for the next few minutes. If you were to warn anyone that we’re on our way, that would constitute obstruction of justice. I’d have to throw you in jail, and that wouldn’t do the army’s reputation much good, would it?”
Renthe made no reply.
Peter, Tilde, and Schwarz went along the corridor to a door marked “Chief Flying Instructor.” A desk and a filing cabinet were squeezed into a small room with no windows. Peter and Tilde began to search and Schwarz lit another cigar. The filing cabinet contained pupil records. Peter and Tilde patiently looked at every sheet of paper. The little room was airless, and Tilde’s elusive perfume was lost in Schwarz’s cigar smoke.
After fifteen minutes, Tilde made a surprised noise and said, “This is odd.”
Peter looked up from the exam results of a student called Keld Hansen who had failed his navigation test.
Tilde handed him a sheet of paper. Peter studied it, frowning. It bore a careful sketch of a piece of apparatus that Peter did not recognize: a large square aerial on a stand, surrounded by a wall. A second drawing of the same apparatus without the wall showed more details of the stand, which looked as if it might revolve.
Tilde looked over his shoulder. “What do you think it can be?”
He was intensely aware of how close she was. “I’ve never seen anything like it, but I’d bet the farm it’s secret. Anything else in the file?”
“No.” She showed him a folder marked “Andersen, H.C.”
Peter grunted. “Hans Christian Andersen-that’s suspicious in itself. He turned the sheet over. On its reverse was a sketch map of an island whose long, thin shape was as familiar to Peter as the map of Denmark itself. “This is Sande, where my father lives!” he said.
Looking more closely, he saw that the map showed the new German base and the area of the beach that was off limits.
“Bang,” he said softly.
Tilde’s blue eyes were shining with excitement. “We’ve caught a spy, haven’t we?”
“Not yet,” Peter said. “But we’re about to.”
They went outside, followed by the silent Schwarz. The sun had set, but they could see clearly in the soft twilight of the long Scandinavian summer evening.
They walked onto the airfield and stood beside Conrad, near where the planes were parked. The aircraft were being put away for the night. One was being wheeled into the hangar, two airmen pushing its wings and a third lifting its tail off the ground.
Conrad pointed to an incoming aircraft downwind of the airfield and said, “I think this must be our man.”
It was another Tiger Moth. As it descended in a textbook circuit and turned into the wind for landing, Peter reflected that there was no doubt Poul Kirke was a spy. The evidence found in the filing cabinet would be enough to hang him. But before that happened, Peter had a lot of questions to ask him. Was he simply a reporter, like Ingemar Gammel? Had Kirke traveled to Sande himself to check out the air base and sketch the mystery apparatus? Or did he play the more important role of coordinator, assembling information and transmitting it to England in coded messages? If Kirke was the central contact, who had gone to Sande and made the sketch? Could it have been Arne Olufsen? That was possible, but Arne had shown no sign of guilt an hour ago when Peter had arrived unexpectedly at the base. Still, it might be worthwhile to put Arne under surveillance.
As the aircraft touched down and bumped along the grass, one of the police Buicks came from the upwind end of the runway in a tearing hurry. It skidded to a stop, and Dresler jumped out, carrying something bright yellow.
Peter threw him a nervous look. He did not want a kerfuffle that might forewarn Poul Kirke. Glancing around, he realized that he had relaxed his guard for a moment, and failed to notice that the group at the edge of the runway appeared somewhat out of place: himself in a dark suit, Schwarz in German uniform smoking a cigar, a woman, and now a man jumping out of a car in an obvious hurry. They looked like a reception committee, and the setup might ring alarm bells in Kirke’s mind.
Dresler came up to him excitedly waving the yellow object, a book with a brightly colored dust jacket. “This is his code book!” he said.
That meant Kirke was the key man. Peter looked at the little aircraft, which had turned off the runway before drawing level with the waiting group, and was now taxiing past them to the parking area. “Put the book under your coat, you damn fool,” he said to Dresler. “If he sees you waving that about, he’ll know we’re on to him!”
He looked again at the Tiger Moth. He could see Kirke in the open cockpit, but could not read the man’s expression behind the goggles, scarf, and helmet.
However, there was no room to misinterpret what happened next.
The engine suddenly roared louder as the throttle was opened wide. The aircraft swung around, turning into the wind but also heading straight for the little group around Peter. “Damn, he’s going to run for it!” Peter cried.
The plane picked up speed and came directly at them.
Peter drew his pistol.
He wanted to take Kirke alive, and interrogate him-but he would rather have him dead than let him get away. Holding the gun with both hands, he pointed it at the oncoming aircraft. It was virtually impossible to shoot down a plane with a handgun, but perhaps he might hit the pilot with a lucky shot.
The Tiger Moth’s tail came up off the ground, leveling the fuselage and bringing Kirke’s head and shoulders into view. Peter took careful aim at the flying helmet and pulled the trigger. The aircraft lifted off the ground, and Peter raised his aim, emptying the seven-shot magazine of the Walther PPK. He saw with bitter disappointment that he had shot too high, for a series of small holes like ink blots appeared in the fuel tank over the pilot’s head, and petrol was spurting into the cockpit in small jets. The aircraft did not falter.
The others threw themselves flat.
A suicidal rage seized Peter as the spinning propeller approached him at sixty miles per hour. At the controls with Poul Kirke were all the criminals who had ever escaped justice, including Finn Jonk, the driver who had injured Inge. Peter was going to stop Kirke getting away if it killed him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Major Schwarz’s cigar smoldering on the grass, and he was seized by inspiration.
As the biplane swept lethally toward him he stooped, picked up the burning cigar, and threw it at the pilot.
Then he flung himself sideways.
He felt the rush of wind as the lower wing passed within inches of his head.
He hit the ground, rolled over, and looked up.
The Tiger Moth was climbing. The bullets and the lighted cigar seemed to have had no effect. Peter had failed.
Would Kirke get away? The Luftwaffe would scramble the two Messerschmitts to chase him, but that would take a few minutes, by which time the Tiger Moth would be out of sight. Kirke’s fuel tank was damaged, but the holes might not be at the lowest point of the tank, in which case he might retain sufficient petrol to get him across the water to Sweden, which was only twenty miles away. And darkness was falling.
Kirke had a chance, Peter concluded bitterly.
Then there was the whoosh of a sudden fire, and a single big flame rose from the cockpit.
It spread with ghastly speed all over the visible head and shoulders of the pilot, whose clothing must have been soaked with petrol. The flames licked back along the fuselage, rapidly consuming the linen fabric.
For a few seconds the aircraft continued to climb, although the head of the pilot had turned to a charred stump. Then Kirke’s body slumped, apparently pushing the control stick forward, and the Tiger Moth turned nose-down and dived the short distance to earth, plunging like an arrow into the ground. The fuselage crumpled like a concertina.
There was a horrified silence. The flames continued to lick around the wings and the tail, stripping the fabric, eating into the wooden wing spars, and revealing the square steel tubes of the fuselage like the skeleton of a burned martyr.
Tilde said, “My God, how dreadful-the poor man.” She was shaking.
Peter put his arms around her. “Yes,” he said. “And the worst of it is, now he can’t answer questions.”
The sign outside the building read “DANISH INSTITUTE OF FOLK SONG AND COUNTRY DANCING,” but that was just to fool the authorities. Down the steps, through the double curtain that served as a light trap, and inside the windowless basement, there was a jazz club.
The room was small and dim. The damp concrete floor was littered with cigarette ends, and sticky with spilled beer. There were a few rickety tables and some wooden chairs, but most of the audience was standing. There were sailors and dockers shoulder to shoulder with well-dressed young people and a sprinkling of German soldiers.
On the tiny stage, a young woman sat at the piano, crooning ballads into a microphone. Perhaps it was jazz, but it was not the music Harald was passionate about. He was waiting for Memphis Johnny Madison, who was colored, even though he had lived most of his life in Copenhagen and had probably never seen Memphis.
It was two o’clock in the morning. Earlier this evening, after lights-out at school, the Three Stooges-Harald, Mads, and Tik-had put their clothes back on, sneaked out of the dormitory building, and caught the last train into the city. It was risky-they would be in deep trouble if they were found out-but it would be worth it to see Memphis Johnny.
The aquavit Harald was drinking with draft beer chasers was making him even more euphoric.
In the back of his mind was the thrilling memory of his conversation with Poul Kirke, and the frightening fact that he was now in the Resistance. He hardly dared to think about it, for it was something he could not share even with Mads and Tik. He had passed secret military information to a spy.
After Poul had admitted that there was a secret organization, Harald had said he would do anything else he could to help. Poul had promised to use Harald as one of his observers. His task would be to collect information on the occupying forces and give it to Poul for onward transmission to Britain. He was proud of himself, and eager for his first assignment. He was also frightened, but he tried not to think about what might happen if he were caught.
He still hated Poul for dating Karen Duchwitz. He had the sour taste of jealousy in the pit of his stomach every time he thought about it. But he suppressed the feeling for the sake of the Resistance.
He wished Karen were here now. She would appreciate the music.
Just as he was thinking that female company was lacking, he noticed a new arrival: a woman with curly dark hair, wearing a red dress, sitting on a stool at the bar. He could not see her too clearly-the air was smoky, or perhaps there was something wrong with his vision-but she seemed to be alone. “Hey, look,” he said to the others.
“Nice, if you like older women,” said Mads.
Harald peered at her, trying to focus better. “Why, how old is she?”
“She’s got to be thirty at least.”
Harald shrugged. “That’s not really old. I wonder if she’d like someone to talk to.”
Tik, who was not as drunk as the other two, said, “She’ll talk to you.”
Harald was not sure why Tik was grinning like a fool. Ignoring him, Harald stood up and headed for the bar. As he got closer, he saw that the woman was quite plump, and her round face was heavily made up. “Hello, schoolboy,” she said, but her smile was friendly.
“I noticed that you were alone.”
“For the moment.”
“I thought you might want someone to talk to.”
“That’s not really what I’m here for.”
“Ah-you prefer to listen to the music. I’m a great jazz fan, have been for years. What do you think of the singer? She’s not American, of course, but-”
“I hate the music.”
Harald was nonplussed. “Then why-”
“I’m a working girl.”
She seemed to think that explained everything, but he was mystified. She continued to smile warmly at him, but he had the sense they were talking at cross-purposes. “A working girl,” he repeated.
“Yes. What did you think I was?”
He was inclined to be nice to her, so he said, “You look like a princess to me.”
He asked her, “What’s your name?”
It was an unlikely name for a working-class Danish girl, and Harald guessed it was assumed.
A man appeared at Harald’s elbow. Harald was taken aback by the newcomer’s appearance: he was unshaven, he had rotten teeth, and one eye was half closed by a big bruise. He wore a stained tuxedo and a collarless shirt. Despite being short and skinny, he looked intimidating. He said, “Come on, sonny, make up your mind.”
Betsy said to Harald, “This is Luther. Leave the boy alone, Lou, he’s not doing anything wrong.”
“He’s driving other customers away.”
Harald realized he had no idea what was going on, and he decided he must be drunker than he had imagined.
Luther said, “Well-do you want to fuck her, or not?”
Harald was astonished. “I don’t even know her!”
Betsy burst out laughing.
“It’s ten crowns, you can pay me,” Luther said.
Enlightenment dawned. Harald turned to her and said in a voice loud with astonishment, “Are you a prostitute?”
“All right, don’t shout,” she said with annoyance.
Luther grabbed Harald by the shirt front and pulled him forward. His grip was strong, and Harald staggered. “I know you educated types,” Luther spat. “You think this kind of thing is funny.”
Harald smelled the man’s bad breath. “Don’t get upset,” he said. “I just wanted to talk to her.”
A barman with a rag around his head leaned over the bar and said, “No trouble, please, Lou. The lad means no harm.”
“Doesn’t he? I think he’s laughing at me.”
Harald was beginning to wonder anxiously whether Luther had a knife, when the club manager picked up the microphone and announced Memphis Johnny Madison, and there was a burst of applause.
Luther pushed Harald away. “Get out of my sight, before I slit your fool throat,” he said.
Harald went back to the others. He knew he had been humiliated, but he was too drunk to care. “I made an error of etiquette,” he said.
Memphis Johnny walked on stage, and Harald instantly forgot Luther.
Johnny sat at the piano and leaned toward the microphone. Speaking perfect Danish with no trace of an accent, he said, “Thank you. I’d like to open with a composition by the greatest boogie-woogie pianist of them all, Clarence Pine Top Smith.”
There was renewed applause, and Harald shouted in English, “Play it, Johnny!”
Some kind of disturbance broke out near the door, but Harald took no notice. Johnny played four bars of introduction then stopped abruptly and said into the microphone, “Heil Hitler, baby.”
A German officer walked on stage.
Harald looked around, bewildered. A group of military police had come into the club. They were arresting the German soldiers, but not the Danish civilians.
The officer snatched the microphone from Johnny and said in Danish, “Entertainers of inferior race are not permitted. This club is closed.”
“No!” cried Harald in dismay. “You can’t do that, you Nazi peasant!”
Fortunately, his voice was drowned in the general hubbub of protest.
“Let’s get out before you make any more errors of etiquette,” said Tik. He took Harald’s arm.
Harald resisted. “Come on!” he yelled. “Let Johnny play!”
The officer handcuffed Johnny and walked him out.
Harald was heartbroken. It had been his first chance to hear a real boogie pianist, and the Nazis had stopped the show after a few bars. “They have no right!” he shouted.
“Of course not,” Tik said soothingly, and steered him to the door.
The three young men made their way up the steps to the street. It was midsummer, and the short Scandinavian night was already over. Dawn had broken. The club was on the waterfront, and the broad channel of water gleamed in the half-light. Sleeping ships floated motionless at their moorings. A cool, salty breeze blew in from the sea. Harald breathed deeply then felt momentarily dizzy.
“We might as well go to the railway station and wait for the first train home,” Tik said. Their plan was to be in bed, pretending to sleep, before anyone at school got up.
They headed for the town center. At the main intersections, the Germans had erected concrete guard posts, octagonal in plan and about four feet high, with room in the middle for a soldier to stand, visible from the chest up. They were not manned at night. Harald was still furious about the closure of the club, and he was further enraged by these ugly symbols of Nazi domination. Passing one, he gave it a futile kick.
Mads said, “They say the sentries at these posts wear lederhosen, because no one can see their legs.” Harald and Tik laughed.
A moment later, they passed a pile of builder’s rubble outside a shop that had been newly refitted, and Harald happened to notice a cluster of paint cans on top of the pile-whereupon he was struck by an idea. He leaned across the rubbish and picked up a can.
“What the hell are you doing?” Tik said.
There was a little black paint left in the bottom, still liquid. From among the odd bits of timber on the pile, Harald selected a piece of wooden slat an inch wide that would serve as a brush.
Ignoring bemused questions from Tik and Mads, he walked back to the guard post. He knelt in front of it with the paint and the stick. He heard Tik say something in a warning voice, but ignored him. With great care, he wrote in black paint on the concrete wall:
He stepped back to admire his work. The letters were large and the words could be read at a distance. Later this morning, thousands of Copenhageners on their way to work would see the joke and smile.
“What do you think of that?” he said. He looked around. Tik and Mads were nowhere to be seen, but two uniformed Danish policemen stood immediately behind him.
“Very amusing,” said one of them. “You’re under arrest.”
He spent the rest of the night in the Politigaarden, in the drunk tank with an old man who had urinated in his trousers and a boy his own age who vomited on the floor. He was too disgusted with them and himself to sleep. As the hours went by, he developed a headache and a raging thirst.
But the hangover and the filth were not his worst worries. He was more concerned about being interrogated about the Resistance. What if he were turned over to the Gestapo and tortured? He did not know how much pain he could stand. Eventually he might betray Poul Kirke. And all for a stupid joke! He could not believe how childish he had been. He was bitterly ashamed.
At eight o’clock in the morning, a uniformed policeman brought a tray with three mugs of ersatz tea and a plate of black bread, thinly smeared with a butter substitute. Harald ignored the bread-he could not eat in a place like a toilet-but he drank the tea greedily.
Shortly afterward, he was taken from the cell to an interview room. He waited a few minutes, then a sergeant came in carrying a folder and a typed sheet of paper. “Stand up!” the sergeant barked, and Harald leaped to his feet.
The sergeant sat at the table and read the report. “A Jansborg schoolboy, eh?” he said.
“You ought to know better, lad.”
“Where did you get the liquor?”
“At a jazz club.”
He looked up from the typed sheet. “The Danish Institute?”
“You must have been there when the Krauts closed it down.”
“Yes.” Harald was confused by his use of the mildly derogatory slang word “Kraut” for “German.” It jarred with his formal tone.
“Do you often get drunk?”
“No, sir. First time.”
“And then you saw the guard post, and you happened to come across a can of paint. .”
“I’m very sorry.”
The cop grinned suddenly. “Well, don’t be too sorry. I thought it was pretty funny, myself. No trousers!” He laughed.
Harald was bewildered. The man had seemed hostile, but now he was enjoying the joke. Harald said, “What’s going to happen to me?”
“Nothing. We’re the police, not the joke patrol.” The sergeant tore the report in half and dropped it in the wastepaper basket.
Harald could hardly believe his luck. Was he really going to be let off? “What. . what should I do?”
“Go back to Jansborg.”
“Thank you!” Harald wondered if he could sneak back into school unnoticed, even at this late stage. He would have some time, on the train, to think of a story. Perhaps no would need ever find out about this.
The sergeant stood up. “But take a word of advice. Keep off the booze.”
“I will,” Harald said fervently. If he could get out of this scrape, he would never drink alcohol again.
The sergeant opened the door, and Harald suffered a dreadful shock.
Standing outside was Peter Flemming.
Harald and Peter stared at one another for a long moment.
The sergeant said, “Can I help you, Inspector?”
Peter ignored him and spoke to Harald. “Well, well,” he said in the satisfied tone of a man who has been proved right at last. “I wondered, when I saw the name on the overnight arrest list. Could Harald Olufsen, graffiti writer and drunk, be Harald Olufsen, son of the pastor of Sande? Lo and behold, they are one and the same.”
Harald was dismayed. Just when he had started to hope that this dreadful incident could be kept secret, the truth had been discovered by one who had a grudge against his whole family.
Peter turned to the sergeant and said dismissively, “All right, I’ll deal with it now.”
The sergeant looked resentful. “There are to be no charges, sir, the superintendent has decided.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Harald felt he could weep. He had been on the point of getting away with it. This seemed so unfair.
The sergeant hesitated, seeming disposed to argue, and Peter said firmly, “That will be all.”
“Very good, sir.” He left.
Peter stared at Harald, saying nothing, until at last Harald said, “What are you going to do?”
Peter smiled, then said, “I think I’ll take you back to school.”
They entered the grounds of Jansborg Skole in a police Buick driven by a uniformed officer, with Harald in the back like a prisoner.
The sun was shining on the old redbrick buildings and the lawns, and Harald felt a stab of regret for the simple, safe life he had lived here over the last seven years. Whatever happened now, this reassuringly familiar place was not going to be a home to him much longer.
The sight aroused different feelings in Peter Flemming, who muttered sourly to the driver, “This is where they breed our future rulers.”
“Yes, sir,” the driver said neutrally.
It was the time of the midmorning sandwich, and the boys were eating outside, so most of the school was watching as the car drove up to the main office and Harald got out.
Peter showed his police badge to the school secretary, and he and Harald were immediately taken to Heis’s study.
Harald did not know what to think. It seemed Peter was not going to hand him over to the Gestapo, his worst fear. He was reluctant to let his hopes rise too soon, but all the signs were that Peter regarded him as a mischievous schoolboy, not a member of the Danish Resistance. For once he was grateful to be treated as a child rather than a man.
But in that case, what was Peter up to?
As they walked in, Heis unwound his lanky frame from behind his desk and stared at them, with vague concern, through the glasses perched on his beaky nose. His voice was kindly, but a tremor betrayed his nervousness. “Olufsen? What’s all this?”
Peter did not give Harald the chance to answer the question. Jerking a thumb in his direction, he said to Heis in a grating tone, “Is this one of yours?”
The gentle Heis flinched as if he had been struck. “Olufsen is a pupil here, yes.”
“He was arrested last night for defacing a German military installation.”
Harald realized that Peter was enjoying the humiliation of Heis, and was determined to make the most of it.
Heis looked mortified. “I’m very sorry to hear that.”
“He was also drunk.”
“The police have to decide what to do about it.”
“I’m not sure I-”
“Frankly, we’d rather not prosecute a schoolboy for a childish prank.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear that. .”
“On the other hand, he can’t go unpunished.”
“Apart from anything else, our German friends will want to know that the perpetrator has been dealt with firmly.”
“Of course, of course.”
Harald felt sorry for Heis, but at the same time wished he were not such a weakling. So far, he had done nothing but agree with the bullying Peter.
Peter went on, “So the outcome depends on you.”
“Oh? In what way?”
“If we let him go, will you expel him from school?”
Harald immediately saw what Peter was up to. He wanted to be sure that Harald’s transgression would become public knowledge. He was only interested in the embarrassment of the Olufsen family.
The arrest of a Jansborg schoolboy would make headlines. The shame of Heis would be exceeded only by that of Harald’s parents. His father would be volcanic and his mother suicidal.
But, Harald realized, Peter’s enmity toward the Olufsen family had blunted his policeman’s instincts. He was so happy to have caught an Olufsen drunk that he had overlooked a greater crime. He had not even considered whether Harald’s dislike of the Nazis went beyond slogan-daubing to espionage. Peter’s malice had saved Harald’s skin.
Heis showed the first sign of opposition. “Expulsion seems a bit harsh-”
“Not as harsh as a prosecution and possible jail sentence.”
Harald did not enter the argument himself, because he could see no way out of this that would enable him to keep the incident secret. He consoled himself with the thought that he had escaped the Gestapo. Any other punishment would seem minor.
Heis said, “It’s almost the end of the academic year. He wouldn’t miss much schooling if he were expelled now.”
“Then it will not permit him to avoid much work.”
“Something of a technicality, considering that he is only a couple of weeks away from leaving.”
“But it will satisfy the Germans.”
“Will it? That’s important, of course.”
“If you can assure me that he will be expelled, I can release him from custody. Otherwise, I’ll have to take him back to the Politigaarden.”
Heis threw a guilty look at Harald. “It does seem as if the school has no real choice in the matter, doesn’t it?”
Heis looked at Peter. “Very well, then. I will expel him.”
Peter gave a satisfied smile. “I’m glad we’ve resolved this so sensibly.” He stood up. “Try to keep out of trouble in future, young Harald,” he said pompously.
Harald looked away.
Peter shook hands with Heis. “Well, thank you, Inspector,” Heis said.
“Pleased to help.” Peter went out.
Harald felt all his muscles relax. He had got away with it. There would be hell to pay at home, of course, but the important thing was that his foolishness had not compromised Poul Kirke and the Resistance.
Heis said, “A dreadful thing has happened, Olufsen.”
“I know I’ve done wrong-”
“No, not that. I think you know Mads Kirke’s cousin.”
“Poul, yes.” Harald tensed again. Now what? Had Heis somehow found out about Harald’s involvement with the Resistance? “What about Poul?”
“He has been in a plane crash.”
“My God! I was flying with him a few days ago!”
“It happened last night at the flying school.” Heis hesitated.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you that Poul Kirke is dead.”
“Dead?” said Herbert Woodie with a squeak in his voice. “How can he be dead?”
“They’re saying he crashed his Tiger Moth,” Hermia replied. She was angry and distraught.
“The damn fool,” Woodie said callously. “This could ruin everything.”
Hermia stared at him in disgust. She would have liked to slap his stupid face.
They were in Woodie’s office at Bletchley Park with Digby Hoare. Hermia had sent a message to Poul Kirke, instructing him to get an eyewitness description of the radar installation on the island of Sande. “The reply came from Jens Toksvig, one of Poul’s helpers,” she said, making an effort to be calm and factual. “It was sent via the British Legation in Stockholm, as usual, but it wasn’t even enciphered-Jens obviously doesn’t know the code. He said the crash was being passed off as an accident, but in fact Poul was trying to escape from the police and they shot at the aircraft.”
“The poor man,” said Digby.
“The message came in this morning,” Hermia added. “I was about to come and tell you, Mr. Woodie, when you sent for me.” In fact she had been in tears. She did not cry often, but her heart was touched by the death of Poul, so young, handsome, and full of energy. She knew, too, that she was responsible for his being killed. It was she who had asked him to spy for Britain, and his courageous assent had led directly to his death. She thought of his parents, and his cousin Mads, and she had wept for them, too. Most of all, she longed to finish the job he had started, so that his killers would not prevail in the end.
“I’m so sorry,” Digby said, and he put his arm around Hermia’s shoulders in a sympathetic squeeze. “Lots of men are dying, but it hurts when it’s someone you know.”
She nodded. His words were simple and obvious, but she was grateful for the thought. What a good man he was. She felt a surge of affection for him, then remembered her fiance and felt guilty. She wished she could see Arne again. Talking to him and touching him would reinforce her love and make her immune to the appeal of Digby.
“But where does that leave us?” Woodie asked.
Hermia collected her thoughts rapidly. “According to Jens, the Nightwatchmen have decided to lie low, at least for a while, and see how far the police carry their investigation. So, to answer your question, it leaves us without any sources of information in Denmark.”
“Makes us appear damned incompetent,” Woodie said.
“Never mind that,” Digby said crisply. “The Nazis have found a war-winning weapon. We thought we were years ahead with radar-now we learn that they have it, too, and theirs is better than ours! I don’t give a fuck about how you appear. The only question is how we find out more.”
Woodie looked outraged but said nothing. Hermia asked, “What about other sources of intelligence?”
“We’re trying them all, of course. And we’ve picked up one more clue: the word himmelbett has appeared in Luftwaffe decrypts.”
Woodie said, “Himmelbett? That means ‘heaven bed.’ What does it signify?”
“It’s their word for a four-poster bed,” Hermia told him.
“Makes no sense,” Woodie said grumpily, as if it were her fault.
She asked Digby, “Any context?”
“Not really. It seems that their radar operates in a himmelbett. We can’t figure it out.”
Hermia reached a decision. “I’ll have to go to Denmark myself,” she said.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Woodie said.
“We have no agents in country, so someone has to be infiltrated,” she said. “I know the ground better than anyone else in MI6, that’s why I’m chief of the Denmark desk. And I speak the language like a native. I’ve got to go.”
“We don’t send women on missions like that,” he said dismissively.
Digby said, “Yes, we do.” He turned to Hermia. “You’ll leave for Stockholm tonight. I’ll come with you.”
“Why did you say that?” Hermia asked Digby the following day, as they walked through the Golden Room in the Stadhuset, Stockholm’s famous city hall.
Digby paused to study a wall mosaic. “I knew the Prime Minister would want me to keep the closest possible watch on such an important mission.”
“And I wanted the chance to have you to myself. This is the next best thing to a slow boat to China.”
“But you know I have to get in touch with my fiance. He’s the only person I can trust to help us.”
“And I’ll probably see him all the sooner in consequence.”
“That suits me fine. I can’t compete with a man who is trapped in a country hundreds of miles away, heroically silent and unseen, holding on to your affection by invisible cords of loyalty and guilt. I’d rather have a flesh-and-blood rival with human failings, someone who gets grumpy with you and has dandruff on his collar and scratches his bum.”
“This isn’t a contest,” she said with exasperation. “I love Arne. I’m going to marry him.”
“But you’re not married yet.”
Hermia shook her head as if to detach herself from this irrelevant talk. Previously, she had enjoyed Digby’s romantic interest in her-albeit guiltily-but now it was a distraction. She was here for a rendezvous. She and Digby were only pretending to be tourists with time to kill.
They left the Golden Room and went down the broad marble staircase and out into the cobbled courtyard. They crossed an arcade of pink granite pillars and found themselves in a garden overlooking the gray water of Lake Malaren. Turning to look up at the three-hundred-foot tower that rose over the redbrick building, Hermia checked that their shadow was with them.
A bored-looking man in a gray suit and well-worn shoes, he made little effort to conceal his presence. As Digby and Hermia had pulled away from the British Legation, in a chauffeur-driven Volvo limousine that had been adapted to run on charcoal, they had been followed by two men in a black Mercedes 230. When they stopped outside the Stadhuset, the man in the gray suit had followed them inside.
According to the British air attache, a group of German agents kept all British citizens in Sweden under constant surveillance. They could be shaken off, but it was unwise. Losing your tail was taken as proof of guilt. Men who evaded surveillance had been arrested and accused of espionage, and the Swedish authorities had been pressured to expel them.
Therefore, Hermia had to escape without the shadow realizing it.
Following a prearranged plan, Hermia and Digby wandered across the garden and turned around the corner of the building to look at the cenotaph of the city’s founder, Birger Jarl. The gilded sarcophagus lay in a canopied tomb with stone pillars at each corner. “Like a himmelbett,” Hermia said.
Concealed from view on the far side of the cenotaph was a Swedish woman of the same height and build as Hermia, with similar dark hair.
Hermia looked inquiringly at the woman, who nodded decisively.
Hermia suffered an instant of fear. Until now she had done nothing illegal. Her visit to Sweden had been as innocent as it seemed. From this moment on, she would be on the wrong side of the law, for the first time in her life.
“Quickly,” the woman said in English.
Hermia slipped off her light summer raincoat and red beret, and the other woman put them on. Hermia took from her pocket a dull brown scarf and tied it around her head, covering her distinctive hair and partly concealing her face.
The Swedish woman took Digby’s arm, and the two of them moved away from the cenotaph and sauntered back into the garden in full view.
Hermia waited a few moments, pretending to study the elaborate wrought-iron railing around the monument, fearful that the tail would be suspicious and come to check. But nothing happened.
She moved out from behind the cenotaph, half-expecting him to be lying in wait, but there was no one nearby. Pulling the scarf a little farther over her face, she walked around the corner into the garden.
She saw Digby and the decoy heading for the gate at the far end. The shadow was following them. The plan was working.
Hermia went in the same direction, tailing the tail. As arranged, Digby and the woman went straight to their car, which was waiting in the square. Hermia saw them get into the Volvo and drive away. The tail followed in the Mercedes. They would lead him all the way back to the Legation, and he would report that the two visitors from Britain had spent the afternoon as innocent tourists.
And Hermia was free.
She crossed the Stadhusbron bridge and headed for Gustav Adolf Square, the center of the city, walking fast, eager to get on with her task.
Everything had happened with bewildering rapidity in the last twenty-four hours. Hermia had been given only a few minutes to throw a few clothes into a suitcase, then she and Digby had been driven in a fast car to Dundee, in Scotland, where they checked into a hotel a few minutes after midnight. This morning at dawn they had been taken to Leuchars aerodrome, on the Fife coast, and an RAF crew wearing civilian British Overseas Airways Corporation uniforms had flown them to Stockholm, a three-hour journey. They had had lunch at the British Legation, then put into operation the plan they had devised in the car between Bletchley and Dundee.
As Sweden was neutral, it was possible to phone or write from here to people in Denmark. Hermia was going to try to call her fiance, Arne. At the Danish end, calls were monitored and letters opened by the censors, so she would have to be extraordinarily careful in what she said. She had to mount a deception that would sound innocent to an eavesdropper yet bring Arne into the Resistance.
Back in 1939, when she had set up the Nightwatchmen, she had deliberately excluded Arne. It was not because of his convictions: he was as anti-Nazi as she was, albeit in a less passionate way-he thought they were stupid clowns in silly uniforms who wanted to stop people having fun. No, the problem was his careless, happy-go-lucky nature. He was too open and friendly for clandestine work. Perhaps also she had been unwilling to put him in danger, although Poul had agreed with her about Arne’s unsuitability. But now she was desperate. Arne was as happy-go-lucky as ever, but she had no one else.
Besides, everyone felt differently about danger today than at the outbreak of war. Thousands of fine young men had given their lives already. Arne was a military officer: he was supposed to take risks for his country.
All the same, her heart felt cold at the thought of what she was going to ask him to do.
She turned in to the Vasagatan, a busy street in which there were several hotels, the central railway station, and the main post office. Here in Sweden, telephone services had always been separate from the mail, and there were special public phone bureaus. Hermia was headed for the one in the railway station.
She could have telephoned from the British Legation, but that would almost certainly have aroused suspicion. At the phone bureau, there would be nothing unusual about a woman who spoke hesitant Swedish with a Danish accent coming in to phone home.
She and Digby had talked about whether the phone call would be listened to by the authorities. In every telephone exchange in Denmark there was at least one young German woman in uniform listening in. They could not possibly eavesdrop on every phone call, of course. However, they were more likely to pay attention to international calls, and calls to military bases, so there was a strong chance that Hermia’s conversation with Arne would be monitored. She would have to communicate in hints and double-talk. But that should be possible. She and Arne had been lovers, so she ought to be able to make him understand without being explicit.
The station was built like a French chateau. The grand entrance lobby had a coffered ceiling and chandeliers. She found the phone bureau and stood in line.
When she got to the counter, she told the clerk that she wanted to make a person-to-person call to Arne Olufsen, and gave the number of the flying school. She waited impatiently, full of apprehension, while the operator tried to get Arne on the line. She did not even know whether he was at Vodal today. He might be flying, or away from the base for the afternoon, or on leave. He might have been transferred to another base or have resigned from the army.
But she would try to track him down, wherever he was. She could speak to his commanding officer and ask where he had gone, she could call his parents on Sande, and she had numbers for some of his friends in Copenhagen. She had all afternoon to spend, and plenty of money for phone calls.
It would be strange to talk to him after more than a year. She was thrilled but anxious. The mission was the important thing, but she could not help fretting about how Arne would feel about her. Perhaps he no longer loved her as he once had. What if he were cold to her? It would break her heart. But he might have met someone else. After all, she had enjoyed a flirtation with Digby. How much more easily might a man find his heart straying?
She remembered skiing with him, racing down a sunlit slope, the two of them leaning to one side then the other in perfect rhythm, perspiring in the icy air, laughing with the sheer joy of being alive. Would those days ever come back?
She was called to a booth.
She picked up the phone and said, “Hello?”
Arne said, “Who is it?”
She had forgotten his voice. It was low and warm and sounded as if it might break into laughter at any minute. He spoke educated Danish, with a precise diction he had learned in the military and the hint of a Jutland accent left over from his childhood.
She had planned her first sentence. She intended to use the pet names they had for each other, hoping this would alert Arne to the need to speak discreetly.
But for a moment she could not speak at all.
“Hello?” he said. “Is anyone there?”
She swallowed and found her voice. “Hello, Toothbrush, this is your black cat.” She called him “Toothbrush” because that was what his moustache felt like when he kissed her. Her nickname came from the color of her hair.
It was his turn to be dumbstruck. There was a silence.
Hermia said, “How are you?”
“I’m okay,” he said at last. “My God, is it really you?”
“Are you all right?”
“Yes.” Suddenly she could not stand any more small talk. Abruptly she said, “Do you still love me?”
He did not answer immediately. That made her think his feelings had changed. He would not say so directly, she thought; he would equivocate, and say they needed to reassess their relationship after all this time, but she would know-
“I love you,” he said.
“More than ever. I’ve missed you terribly.”
She closed her eyes. Feeling dizzy, she leaned against the wall.
“I’m so glad you’re still alive,” he said. “I’m so happy to be talking to you.”
“I love you, too,” she said.
“What’s been happening? How are you? Where are you calling from?”
She pulled herself together. “I’m not far away.”
He noticed her guarded manner and responded in a similar tone. “Okay, I understand.”
She had prepared the next part. “Do you remember the castle?” There were many castles in Denmark, but one was special to them.
“You mean the ruins? How could I forget?”
“Could you meet me there?”
“How could you get there-Never mind. Do you mean it?”
“It’s a long way.”
“It’s really very important.”
“I’d go a lot farther to see you. I’m just figuring out how. I’ll ask for leave, but if it’s a problem I’ll just go AWOL-”
“Don’t do that.” She did not want the military police looking for him. “When’s your next day off?”
The operator came on the line to tell them they had ten seconds.
Hastily, Hermia said, “I’ll be there on Saturday-I hope. If you don’t make it, I’ll come back every day for as long as I can.”
“I’ll do the same.”
“Be careful. I love you.”
“I love you-”
The line went dead.
Hermia kept the receiver pressed to her ear, as if she could hold on to him a little longer that way. Then the operator asked her if she wanted to make another call, and she declined and hung up.
She paid at the counter then went out, dazed with happiness. She stood in the station concourse, under the high curved roof, with people hurrying past her in all directions. He still loved her. In two days’ time she would see him. Someone bumped into her, and she got out of the crowd into a cafe where she slumped in a chair. Two days.
The ruined castle to which they had both enigmatically referred was Hammershus, a tourist attraction on the Danish holiday island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea. They had spent a week on the island in 1939, posing as man and wife, and had made love among the ruins one warm summer evening. Arne would take the ferry from Copenhagen, a trip of seven or eight hours, or fly from Kastrup, which took about an hour. The island was a hundred miles from mainland Denmark, but only twenty miles from the south coast of Sweden. Hermia would have to find a fishing boat to take her across that short stretch of water illegally.
But it was the danger to Arne, not herself, that she kept thinking about. He was going to meet secretly with an agent of the British secret service. She would ask him to become a spy.
If he were caught, the punishment would be death.
On the second day after his arrest, Harald returned home.
Heis had allowed him to stay at school another two days to take the last of his exams. He would be permitted to graduate, though not to attend the ceremony, which was a week away. But the important thing was that his university place was safe. He would study physics under Niels Bohr-if he lived that long.
During those two days he had learned, from Mads Kirke, that the death of Poul had not been a straightforward crash. The army was refusing to reveal details, saying they were still investigating, but other pilots had told the family that the police had been on the base at the time, and shots had been fired. Harald was sure, though he could not say this to Mads, that Poul had been killed because of his Resistance work.
Nevertheless, he was more afraid of his father than of the police as he made his way home. It was a tediously familiar journey across the width of Denmark from Jansborg, in the east, to Sande, off the west coast. He knew every small-town railway station and fish-smelling ferry dock and all the flat green landscape in between. The journey took the whole day, because of multiple train delays, but he wished it could be longer.
He spent the time anticipating his father’s wrath. He composed indignant speeches of self-justification which even he found unconvincing. He tried out a variety of more or less groveling apologies, unable to find a formula that was sincere but not abject. He wondered whether to tell his parents to be grateful he was alive, when he might have met the same fate as Poul Kirke; but that seemed to make cheap use of a heroic death.
When he reached Sande, he further postponed his arrival by walking home along the beach. The tide was out, and the sea was barely visible a mile away, a narrow strip of dark blue touched with inconstant smears of white surf, sandwiched between the bright blue of the sky and the buff-colored sand. It was evening, and the sun was low. A few holidaymakers strolled through the dunes, and a group of boys around twelve or thirteen years old were playing football. It would have been a happy scene, but for the new gray concrete bunkers at intervals of a mile along the high-tide mark, bristling with artillery and manned by steel-helmeted soldiers.
He came to the new military base and left the beach to follow the long diversion around it, welcoming the additional delay. He wondered whether Poul had managed to send off his sketch of the radio equipment to the British. If not, the police must have found it. Would they wonder who had drawn it? Fortunately there was nothing to connect it with Harald. All the same, the thought was frightening. The police still did not know he was a criminal, but now they knew about his crime.
At last he came within sight of his home. Like the church, the parsonage was built in the local style, with red-painted bricks and a thatched roof that swept low over the windows, like a hat pulled over the eyes to keep out the rain. The lintel over the front door was painted in slanting stripes of black, white, and green, a local tradition.
Harald went to the back and looked through the diamond-shaped pane of glass in the kitchen door. His mother was alone. He studied her for a moment, wondering what she had been like when she was his age. Ever since he could remember, she had looked tired; but she must have been pretty, once.
According to family legend Harald’s father, Bruno, had been thought by everyone to be a confirmed bachelor at the age of thirty-seven, wholly dedicated to the work of his little sect. Then he had met Lisbeth, ten years younger, and lost his heart. So madly in love was he that he had worn a colored tie to church in an attempt to appear romantic, and the deacons had been obliged to reprimand him for inappropriate attire.
Watching his mother as she bent over the sink, scrubbing a pot, Harald tried to imagine the tired gray hair as it had once been, jet black and gleaming, and the hazel eyes twinkling with humor; the lines of the face smoothed away, and the weary body full of energy. She must have been irresistibly sexy, Harald supposed, to have turned his father’s remorselessly holy thoughts to the lusts of the flesh. It was hard to imagine.
He went in, put down his suitcase, and kissed his mother.
“Your father’s out,” she said.
“Where has he gone?”
“Ove Borking is sick.” Ove was an elderly fisherman and faithful member of the congregation.
Harald was relieved. Any postponement of the confrontation was a reprieve.
His mother looked solemn and tearful. Her expression touched his heart. He said, “I’m sorry to have caused you distress, Mother.”
“Your father is mortified,” she said. “Axel Flemming has called an emergency meeting of the Board of Deacons to discuss the matter.”
Harald nodded. He had anticipated that the Flemmings would make the most of this.
“But why did you do it?” his mother asked plaintively.
He had no answer.
She made him a ham sandwich for his supper. “Is there any news of Uncle Joachim?” he asked.
“Nothing. We get no answers to our letters.”
Harald’s own troubles seemed nothing when he thought about his cousin Monika, penniless and persecuted, not even knowing whether her father was dead or alive. While Harald was growing up, the annual visit of the Goldstein cousins had been the highlight of the year. For two weeks the monastic atmosphere of the parsonage was transformed, and the place was full of people and noise. The pastor had for his sister and her family an indulgent fondness that he showed no one else, certainly not his own children, and he would smile benignly as they committed transgressions, such as buying ice cream on a Sunday, for which he would have punished Harald and Arne. For Harald, the sound of the German language meant laughter and pranks and fun. Now he wondered if the Goldsteins would ever laugh again.
He turned on the radio to hear the war news. It was bad. The British assault in North Africa had been abandoned, a catastrophic failure, half their tanks lost, either crippled in the desert by mechanical failures or destroyed by experienced German antitank gunners. The Axis grip on North Africa was unshaken. Danish radio and the BBC told essentially the same story.
At midnight a flight of bombers crossed overhead. Harald looked out and saw they were heading east. That meant they were British. The bombers were all the British had, now.
When he went back inside, his mother said, “Your father could be out all night. You’d better go to bed.”
He lay awake for a long time. He asked himself why he was scared. He was too big to be beaten. His father’s wrath was formidable, but how bad could a tongue-lashing be? Harald was not easily intimidated. Rather the reverse: he was inclined to resent authority and defy it out of sheer rebelliousness.
The short night came to an end, and a rectangle of gray dawn light appeared around the curtain at his window like a picture frame. He drifted into sleep. His last thought was that perhaps what he really feared was not some hurt to himself, but his father’s suffering.
He was awakened brusquely an hour later.
The door burst open, the light came on, and the pastor stood beside the bed, fully dressed, hands on his hips, chin thrust forward. “How could you do it?” he shouted.
Harald sat up, blinking at his father, tall, bald, dressed in black, staring at Harald with the blue-eyed glare that terrified his congregation.
“What were you thinking of?” his father raged. “What possessed you?”
Harald did not want to cower in his bed like a child. He threw off the sheet and stood up. Because the weather was warm, he had slept in his undershorts.
“Cover yourself, boy,” his father said. “You’re practically naked.”
The unreasonableness of this criticism stung Harald into a rejoinder. “If underwear offends you, don’t enter bedrooms without knocking.”
“Knocking? Don’t tell me to knock on doors in my own house!”
Harald suffered the familiar feeling that his father had an answer for everything. “Very well,” he said sulkily.
“What devil took hold of you? How could you bring such disgrace upon yourself, your family, your school, and your church?”
Harald pulled on his trousers and turned to face his father.
“Well?” the pastor raged. “Are you going to answer me?”
“I’m sorry, I thought you were asking rhetorical questions.” Harald was surprised by his own cool sarcasm.
His father was infuriated. “Don’t try to use your education to fence with me-I went to Jansborg, too.”
“I’m not fencing. I’m asking whether there’s any chance you’ll listen to anything I say.”
The pastor raised his hand as if to strike. It would have been a relief, Harald thought as his father hesitated. Whether he took the blow passively, or hit back, violence would have been some kind of resolution.
But his father was not going to make it that easy. He dropped his hand and said, “Well, I’m listening. What have you got to say for yourself?”
Harald gathered his thoughts. On the train he had rehearsed many versions of this speech, some of them most eloquent, but now he forgot all his oratorical flourishes. “I’m sorry I daubed the guard post, because it was an empty gesture, a childish act of defiance.”
“At the least!”
For a moment he considered whether to tell his father about his connection with the Resistance, but he quickly decided not to risk further ridicule. Besides, now that Poul was dead, the Resistance might no longer exist.
Instead, he concentrated on the personal. “I’m sorry to have brought disgrace on the school, because Heis is a kindly man. I’m sorry I got drunk, because it made me feel dreadful the next morning. Most of all, I’m sorry to have caused my mother distress.”
“And your father?”
Harald shook his head. “You’re upset because Axel Flemming knows all about this and he’s going to rub your nose in it. Your pride has been hurt, but I’m not sure you’re worried about me at all.”
“Pride?” his father roared. “What has pride to do with anything? I’ve tried to bring up my sons to be decent, sober, God-fearing men-and you’ve let me down.”
Harald felt exasperated. “Look, it’s not that much of a disgrace. Most men get drunk-”
“Not my sons!”
“-once in their lives, at least.”
“But you were arrested.”
“That was bad luck.”
“It was bad behavior-”
“And I wasn’t charged-the police sergeant actually thought that what I did was funny. ‘We’re not the joke patrol,’ he said. I wouldn’t even have been expelled from school if Peter Flemming hadn’t threatened Heis.”
“Don’t you dare try to minimize this. No member of this family has ever been to jail for any reason. You’ve dragged us into the gutter.” The pastor’s face changed suddenly. For the first time, he showed sadness rather than anger. “And it would be shocking and tragic even if no one in the world knew of it but me.”
Harald saw that his father was sincere in this, and the realization threw him off balance. It was true that the old man’s pride was wounded, but that was not all. He genuinely feared for his son’s spiritual welfare. Harald was sorry he had been sarcastic.
But his father gave him no chance to be conciliatory. “There remains the question of what is to be done with you.”
Harald was not sure what this meant. “I’ve only missed a few days of school,” he said. “I can do the preliminary reading for my university course here at home.”
“No,” his father said. “You’re not getting off so lightly.”
Harald had a dreadful foreboding. “What do you mean? What are you planning?”
“You’re not going to university.”
“What are you talking about? Of course I am.” Suddenly Harald felt very afraid.
“I’m not going to send you to Copenhagen to pollute your soul with strong drink and jazz music. You’ve proved you aren’t mature enough for the city. You’ll stay here, where I can supervise your spiritual development.”
“But you can’t phone the university and say, ‘Don’t teach this boy.’ They’ve given me a place.”
“They haven’t given you any money, though.”
Harald was shocked. “My grandfather bequeathed money for my education.”
“But he left it to me to dispense. And I’m not going to give it to you to spend in nightclubs.”
“It’s not your money-you don’t have the right!”
“I most certainly do. I’m your father.”
Harald was stunned. He had not dreamed of this. It was the only punishment that could really hurt him. Bewildered, he said, “But you’ve always told me that education was so important.”
“Education is not the same as godliness.”
“Even so. .”
His father saw that he was genuinely shocked, and his attitude softened a little. “An hour ago, Ove Borking died. He had no education worth speaking of-he could barely write his name. He spent his life working on other men’s boats, and never made enough to buy a carpet for his wife to put on the parlor floor. But he raised three God-fearing children, and every week he gave a tenth of his meager wages to the church. That’s what God considers a good life.”
Harald knew and liked Ove, and was sorry he had died. “He was a simple man.”
“Nothing wrong with simplicity.”
“Yet if all men were like Ove, we’d still be fishing from dugout canoes.”
“Perhaps. But you’re going to learn to emulate him before you do anything else.”
“And what does that mean?”
“Get dressed. Put on your school clothes and a clean shirt. You’re going to work.” He left the room.
Harald stared at the closed door. What next?
He washed and shaved in a daze. He could hardly believe what was happening.
He might go to university without his father’s help, of course. He would have to get a job to support himself, and he would not be able to afford the private tuition that most people considered essential to supplement the free lectures. But could he achieve all he wanted in those circumstances? He did not want merely to pass his exams. He wanted to be a great physicist, the successor to Niels Bohr. How could he do that if he did not have the money to buy books?
He needed time to think. And while he was thinking, he had to go along with whatever his father was planning.
He went downstairs and ate without tasting the porridge his mother had made.
His father saddled the horse, Major, a broad-backed Irish gelding strong enough to carry them both. The pastor mounted, and Harald got up behind.
They rode the length of the island. The journey took Major more than an hour. When they reached the dock, they watered the horse at the quayside trough and waited for the ferry. The pastor still had not told Harald where they were going.
When the boat docked, the ferryman touched his cap to the pastor, who said, “Ove Borking was called home early this morning.”
“I expected as much,” said the ferryman.
“He was a good man.”
“Rest his soul.”
They crossed to the mainland and rode up the hill to the town square. The stores were not yet open, but the pastor knocked at the door of the haberdashery. It was opened by the owner, Otto Sejr, a deacon of the Sande church. He seemed to be expecting them.
They stepped inside, and Harald looked around. Glass cases displayed balls of colored wool. The shelves were stacked with lengths of material, wool cloth and printed cotton and a few silks. Below the shelves were drawers, each neatly marked: “Ribbon-white,” “Ribbon-fancy,” “Elastic,” “Buttons-shirt,” “Buttons-horn,” “Pins,” “Knitting needles.”
There was a dusty smell of mothballs and lavender, like an old lady’s wardrobe. The odor brought to Harald’s mind a childhood memory, suddenly vivid: standing here as a small boy while his mother bought black satin for his father’s clerical shirts.
The shop had a run-down air now, probably because of wartime austerity. The higher shelves were empty, and it seemed to him there was not the astonishing variety of colors of knitting wool he recalled from his childhood.
But what was he doing here today?
His father soon answered the question. “Brother Sejr has kindly agreed to give you a job,” he said. “You’ll be helping in the shop, serving customers and doing anything else you can to make yourself useful.”
He stared at his father, speechless.
“Mrs. Sejr is in poor health, and can’t work any longer, and their daughter has recently married and gone to live in Odense, so he needs an assistant,” the pastor went on, as if that were what needed explaining.
Sejr was a small man, bald with a little moustache. Harald had known him all his life. He was pompous, mean, and sly. He wagged a fat finger and said, “Work hard, pay attention, and be obedient, and you may learn a valuable trade, young Harald.”
Harald was flabbergasted. He had been thinking for two days about how his father would respond to his crime, but nothing he anticipated had come close to this. It was a life sentence.
His father shook hands with Sejr and thanked him, then said to Harald in parting, “You’ll take your lunch with the family here, and come straight home when you finish work. I’ll see you tonight.” He waited a moment as if expecting an answer, but when Harald said nothing he went out.
“Right,” said Sejr. “There’s just time to sweep the floor before we open. You’ll find a broom in the cupboard. Start at the back, sweep towards the front, and push the dust out through the door.”
Harald began his task. Seeing him brush one-handed, Sejr snapped, “Put both hands on that broom, boy!”
At nine o’clock, Sejr put the “Open” sign in the door. “When I want you to deal with a customer, I’ll say, ‘Forward,’ and you step forward,” he said. “You say, ‘Good morning, how may I serve you?’ But watch me with one or two customers first.”
Harald watched Sejr sell six needles on a card to an old woman who counted out her coins as carefully as if they were pieces of gold. Next was a smartly dressed woman of about forty who bought two yards of black braid. Then it was Harald’s turn to serve. The third customer was a thin-lipped woman who looked familiar. She asked for a reel of white cotton thread.
Sejr snapped, “On your left, top drawer.”
Harald found the cotton. The price was marked in pencil on the wooden end of the reel. He took the money and made change.
Then the woman said, “So, Harald Olufsen, you’ve been in the fleshpots of Babylon, I hear.”
Harald flushed. He had not prepared himself for this. Did the whole town know what he had done? He was not going to defend himself to gossipmongers. He made no reply.
Sejr said, “Young Harald will come under a more steady influence here, Mrs. Jensen.”
“I’m sure it will do him good.”
They were thoroughly enjoying his humiliation, Harald realized. He said, “Will there be anything else, then?”
“Oh, no thank you,” said Mrs. Jensen, but she made no move to leave. “So you won’t be going to the university?”
Harald turned away and said, “Where’s the toilet, Mr. Sejr?”
“Through the back and upstairs.”
As he left, he heard Sejr say apologetically, “He’s embarrassed, of course.”
“And no wonder,” the woman replied.
Harald climbed the stairs to the apartment over the shop. Mrs. Sejr was in the kitchen, dressed in a pink quilted housecoat, washing breakfast cups at the sink. “I’ve only got a few herrings for lunch,” she said. “I hope you don’t eat much.”
He lingered in the bathroom, and when he returned to the shop he was relieved to see that Mrs. Jensen had gone. Sejr said, “People are bound to be curious-you must be polite, whatever they say.”
“My life is none of Mrs. Jensen’s business,” he replied angrily.
“But she’s a customer, and the customer is always right.”
The morning wore on with painful slowness. Sejr checked stock, wrote orders, did his books, and dealt with phone calls, but Harald was expected to stand waiting, ready for the next person to come through the door. It left him plenty of time to ponder. Was he really going to spend his life selling reels of cotton to housewives? It was unthinkable.
By midmorning, when Mrs. Sejr brought him and Sejr a cup of tea, he had decided he could not even spend the rest of the summer working here.
By lunchtime he knew he was not going to last the day.
As Sejr flipped the “CLOSED” sign, Harald said, “I’m going for a walk.”
Sejr was startled. “But Mrs. Sejr has prepared lunch.”
“She told me she doesn’t have enough food.” Harald opened the door.
“You’ve only got an hour,” Sejr called after him. “Don’t be late!”
Harald walked down the hill and got on the ferry.
He crossed to Sande and walked along the beach toward the parsonage. He felt a strange, tight sensation in his chest when he looked at the dunes, the miles of damp sand, and the endless sea. The view was as familiar as his own face in the mirror, yet now it gave him an aching sense of loss. He almost felt like crying, and after a while he realized why.
He was going to leave this place today.
The rationale came after the realization. He did not have to do the job selected for him-but he could not continue to live in the house after defying his father. He would have to go.
The thought of disobeying his father was no longer frightening, he realized as he strode along the sand. The drama had gone out of it. When had this change taken place? It was when the pastor had said he would withhold the money Grandpa had left, Harald decided. That had been a shocking betrayal which could not possibly leave their relationship intact. At that moment, Harald had understood that he could no longer trust his father to have his best interests at heart. He had to look after himself now.
The conclusion was strangely anticlimactic. Of course he had to take responsibility for his own life. It was like realizing that the Bible was not infallible: he found it hard to imagine how he had formerly been so trusting.
When he reached the parsonage, the horse was not in the paddock. Harald guessed his father had returned to the Borking house to make arrangements for Ove’s funeral. He went in by the kitchen door. His mother was at the table peeling potatoes. She looked frightened when she saw him. He kissed her, but gave no explanations.
He went to his room and packed his case as if he were going to school. His mother came to the bedroom door and stood watching him, wiping her hands in a towel. He saw her face, lined and sad, and he looked quickly away. After a while, she said, “Where will you go?”
“I don’t know.”
He thought of his brother. He went into his father’s study, picked up the telephone, and placed a call to the flying school. After a few minutes, Arne came on the line. Harald told him what had happened.
“The old man overplayed his hand,” Arne commented. “If he’d put you into a tough job, like cleaning fish at the canning plant, you’d have stuck it out just to prove your manhood.”
“I suppose I might.”
“But you were never going to stay long working in a damn shop. Our father can be a fool, sometimes. Where will you go now?”
Harald had not decided until this moment, but now he had a flash of inspiration. “Kirstenslot,” he said. “Tik Duchwitz’s place. But don’t tell Father. I don’t want him coming after me.”
“Old Man Duchwitz might tell him.”
That was a good point, Harald reflected. Tik’s respectable father would have little sympathy for a boogie-playing, slogan-daubing runaway. But the ruined monastery was used as a dormitory by seasonal workers on the farm. “I’ll sleep in the old monastery,” he said. “Tik’s father won’t even know I’m there.”
“How will you eat?”
“I may be able to get a job on the farm. They employ students in summer.”
“Tik is still at school, I presume.”
“But his sister might help me.”
“I know her, she went out with Poul a couple of times. Karen.”
“Only a couple of times?”
“Yes. Why-are you interested in her?”
“She’s out of my league.”
“I suppose she is.”
“What happened to Poul. . exactly?”
“It was Peter Flemming.”
“Peter!” Mads Kirke had not known that detail.
“He came with a car full of cops, looking for Poul. Poul tried to escape in his Tiger Moth, and Peter shot at him. The aircraft crashed and burned.”
“Good God! Did you see it?”
“No, but one of my airmen did.”
“Mads told me some of this, but he didn’t know it all. So Peter Flemming killed Poul. That’s terrible.”
“Don’t talk about it too much, you might get into trouble. They’re trying to pass it off as an accident.”
“All right.” Harald noticed that Arne was not saying why the police had come after Poul. And Arne must have noticed that Harald did not ask.
“Let me know how you get on at Kirstenslot. Phone if you need anything.”
“Good luck, kid.”
As Harald hung up, his father walked in. “And what do you think you’re doing?
Harald stood up. “If you want money for the phone call, ask Sejr for my morning’s wages.”
“I don’t want money, I want to know why you’re not at the shop.”
“It’s not my destiny to be a haberdasher.”
“You don’t know what your destiny is.”
“Perhaps not.” Harald left the room.
He went outside to the workshop and lit the boiler of his motorcycle. While he waited for it to build up steam, he stacked peat in the sidecar. He did not know how much he would need to get him to Kirstenslot, so he took it all. He returned to the house and picked up his suitcase.
His father waylaid him in the kitchen. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“I’d rather not say.”
“I forbid you to leave.”
“You can’t really forbid things anymore, Father,” Harald said quietly. “You’re no longer willing to support me. You’re doing your best to sabotage my education. I’m afraid you’ve forfeited the right to tell me what to do.”
The pastor looked stunned. “You have to tell me where you’re going.”
“If you don’t know where I am, you can’t interfere with my plans.”
The pastor looked mortally wounded. Harald felt regret like a sudden pain. He had no desire for revenge, and it gave him no satisfaction to see his father’s distress; but he was afraid that if he showed remorse he would lose his strength of purpose, and allow himself to be bullied into staying. So he turned his face away and walked outside.
He strapped his suitcase to the back of the bike and drove it out of the workshop.
His mother came running across the yard and thrust a bundle into his hands. “Food,” she said. She was crying.
He stowed the food in the sidecar with the peat.
She threw her arms around him as he sat on the bike. “Your father loves you, Harald. Do you understand that?”
“Yes, Mother, I think I do.”
She kissed him. “Let me know that you’re all right. Telephone, or send a postcard.”
She released him, and he drove away.
Peter Flemming undressed his wife.
She stood passively in front of the mirror, a warm-blooded statue of a pale, beautiful woman. He took off her wristwatch and necklace, then patiently undid the hooks and eyes of her dress, his blunt fingers expert from hours of practice. There was a smear on the side, he noticed with a disapproving frown, as if she touched something sticky then wiped her hand on her hip. She was not normally dirty. He pulled the dress over her head, careful not to muss her hair.
Inge was as lovely today as she had been the first time he had seen her in her underwear. But then she had been smiling, speaking fond words, her expression showing eagerness and a trace of apprehension. Today her face was blank.
He hung her dress in the wardrobe then took off her brassiere. Her breasts were full and round, the nipples so light in color they were almost invisible. He swallowed hard and tried not to look at them. He made her sit on the dressing-table stool, then removed her shoes, unfastened her stockings and rolled them down, and took off her garter belt. He stood her up again to pull down her underpants. Desire rose in him as he uncovered the blond curls between her legs. He felt disgusted with himself.
He knew he could have sexual intercourse with her if he wished. She would lie still and accept it with blank impassivity, as she took everything that happened to her. But he could not bring himself to do it. He had tried, one time, not long after she came home from the hospital, telling himself that perhaps this would rekindle in her the spark of awareness; but he had been revolted by himself, and had stopped after a few seconds. Now the desire came back, and he had to fight it off, even though he knew that giving in would bring no relief.
He threw her underwear into the linen basket with an angry gesture. She did not move as he opened a drawer and took out a white cotton nightdress embroidered with small flowers, a gift to Inge from his mother. She was innocent in her nakedness, and to desire her seemed as wrong as to desire a child. He drew the nightdress over her head, put her arms into it, and smoothed it down her back. He looked over her shoulder into the mirror. The flower pattern suited her, and she looked pretty. He thought he saw a faint smile touch her lips, but it was probably his imagination.
He took her to the bathroom then put her to bed. As he undressed himself, he looked at his own body in the mirror. There was a long scar across his belly, souvenir of a Saturday-night street brawl he had broken up as a young policeman. He no longer had the athletic physique of his youth, but he was still fit. He wondered how long it would be before a woman touched his skin with hungry hands.
He put on pajamas, but he did not feel sleepy. He decided to return to the living room and smoke another cigarette. He looked at Inge. She lay still with her eyes open. He would hear her if she moved. He generally knew when she needed something. She would simply stand up, and wait, as if she could not figure out what to do next; and he would have to guess what she wanted: a drink of water, the toilet, a shawl to keep her warm, or something more complicated. Occasionally she would move about the apartment, apparently at random, but she would soon come to a halt, perhaps at a window, or staring helplessly at a closed door, or just in the middle of the room.
He left the bedroom and crossed the little hallway to the living room, leaving both doors open. He found his cigarettes then, on impulse, took a half-empty bottle of aquavit from a cupboard and poured some into a glass. Sipping his drink and smoking, he thought about the week past.
It had started well and finished badly. He had begun by catching two spies, Ingemar Gammel and Poul Kirke. Better still, they were not like his usual targets, union organizers who intimidated strikebreakers, or communists who sent coded letters to Moscow saying that Jutland was ripe for revolution. No, Gammel and Kirke were real spies, and the sketches Tilde Jespersen had found in Kirke’s office constituted important military intelligence.
Peter’s star seemed in the ascendant. Some of his colleagues had begun to act coolly toward him, disapproving of his enthusiastic cooperation with the German occupiers, but they hardly mattered. General Braun had called him in to say that he thought Peter should be head of the Security Department. He did not say what would happen to Frederik Juel. But he had made it clear that the job was Peter’s if he could wrap this case up.
It was a pity Poul Kirke had died. Alive, he might have revealed who his collaborators were, where his orders came from, and how he sent information to the British. Gammel was still alive, and had been handed over to the Gestapo for “deep interrogation,” but he had revealed nothing further, probably because he did not know any more.
Peter had pursued the investigation with his usual energy and determination. He had questioned Poul’s commanding officer, the supercilious Squadron Leader Renthe. He had interviewed Poul’s parents, his friends, and even his cousin Mads, and had got nothing from any of them. He had detectives tailing Poul’s girlfriend, Karen Duchwitz, but so far she appeared to be no more than a hardworking student at the ballet school. Peter also had Poul’s best friend, Arne Olufsen, under surveillance. Arne was the best prospect, for he could easily have drawn the sketches of the military base on Sande. But Arne had spent the week blamelessly going about his duties. Tonight, Friday, he had taken the train into Copenhagen, but there was nothing unusual about that.
After a brilliant start, the case seemed to have dead-ended.
The week’s minor triumph had been the humiliation of Arne’s brother, Harald. However, Peter felt sure Harald was not involved in espionage. A man who was risking his life as a spy did not daub silly slogans.
Peter was wondering where to go next with the investigation when there was a knock at the door.
He glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. It was ten-thirty, not outrageously late but still an unusual time for an unexpected visit. The caller certainly could not be surprised to find him in pajamas. He stepped into the hallway and opened the door. Tilde Jespersen stood there, a sky blue beret perched on her fair curly hair.
“There’s been a development,” she said. “I thought we should discuss it.”
“Of course. Come in. You’ll have to excuse my appearance.”
She glanced at the pattern on his pajamas with a grin. “Elephants,” she said as she walked into the living room. “I wouldn’t have guessed.”
He felt embarrassed and wished he had put on a robe, although it was too warm.
Tilde sat down. “Where’s Inge?”
“In bed. Would you like some aquavit?”
He got a fresh glass and poured for both of them.
She crossed her legs. Her knees were round and her calves plump, quite different from Inge’s slender legs. She said, “Arne Olufsen bought a ticket for tomorrow’s ferry to Bornholm.”
Peter froze with the glass halfway to his lips. “Bornholm,” he said softly. The Danish holiday island was tantalizingly close to the Swedish coast. Could this be the break he was waiting for?
She took out a cigarette and he lit it. Blowing out smoke, she said, “Of course, he might simply be due for some leave, and have decided to take a vacation. .”
“Quite so. On the other hand, he may be planning to escape to Sweden.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Peter swallowed his drink with a satisfying gulp. “Who’s with him now?”
“Dresler. He relieved me fifteen minutes ago. I came straight here.”
Peter forced himself to be skeptical. It was too easy, in an investigation, to let wishful thinking mislead you. “Why would Olufsen want to leave the country?”
“He might have been scared by what happened to Poul Kirke.”
“He hasn’t been acting scared. Until today he’s been doing his job, apparently happily.”
“Maybe he’s just noticed the surveillance.”
Peter nodded. “They always do, sooner or later.”
“Alternatively, he might be going to Bornholm to spy. The British could have ordered him there.”
Peter made a doubtful face. “What’s on Bornholm?”
Tilde shrugged. “Maybe that’s the question they want answered. Or perhaps it’s a rendezvous. Remember, if he can get from Bornholm to Sweden, the journey the other way is probably just as easy.”
“Good point.” Tilde was very clear-thinking, he reflected. She kept all possibilities in view. He looked at her intelligent face and clear blue eyes. He watched her mouth as she spoke.
She seemed unaware of his scrutiny. “The death of Kirke probably broke their normal line of communication. This could be an emergency fallback plan.”
“I’m not convinced-but there’s only one way to find out.”
“Continue to shadow Olufsen?”
“Yes. Tell Dresler to get on the ferry with him.”
“Olufsen has a bicycle with him. Shall I tell Dresler to take one?”
“Yes. Then book yourself and me on tomorrow’s flight to Bornholm. We’ll get there first.”
Tilde stubbed out her cigarette and stood up. “Right.”
Peter did not want her to go. The aquavit was warm in his belly, he felt relaxed, and he was enjoying having an attractive woman to talk to. But he could not think of an excuse to detain her.
He followed her into the hallway. She said, “I’ll see you at the airport.”
“Yes.” He put his hand on the doorknob but did not open it. “Tilde. .”
She looked at him with a neutral expression. “Yes?”
“Thanks for this. Good work.”
She touched his cheek. “Sleep well,” she said, but she did not move away.
He looked at her. The trace of a smile touched the corners of her mouth, but he could not tell whether it was inviting or mocking. He leaned forward, and suddenly he was kissing her.
She kissed him back with fierce passion. He was taken by surprise. She pulled his head to hers, thrust her tongue into his mouth. After a moment of shock he responded. He grabbed her soft breast and squeezed roughly. She made a noise deep in her throat, and thrust her hips against his body.
He saw a movement out of the corner of his eye. He broke the kiss and turned his head.
Inge stood in the bedroom doorway, like a ghost in her pale nightdress. Her face wore its perpetual blank expression, but she was looking straight at them. Peter heard himself make a sound like a sob.
Tilde slipped from his embrace. He turned to speak to her, but no words came. She opened the apartment door and stepped outside. She was gone in a breath.
The door slammed shut.
The daily flight from Copenhagen to Bornholm was operated by the Danish airline, DDL. It departed at nine A.M. and took an hour. The plane landed at an airstrip a mile or so outside Bornholm’s main town, Ronne. Peter and Tilde were met by the local police chief, who gave them the loan of a car as if entrusting them with royal jewels.
They drove into the town. It was a sleepy place, with more horses than cars. The half-timbered houses were painted in striking deep colors: dark mustard, terracotta pink, forest green, and rust red. Two German soldiers stood in the central square, smoking and chatting to passers-by. From the square, a cobbled street led downhill to the harbor. There was a Kriegsmarine torpedo boat in the dock, with a group of small boys clustered on the quayside staring at it. Peter located the ferry port, across from the brick custom house, the largest building in town.
Peter and Tilde drove around to familiarize themselves with the streets, then returned to the port in the afternoon to meet the ferry. Neither mentioned last night’s kiss, but Peter was intensely aware of her physical presence: that elusive flowery perfume, her alert blue eyes, the mouth that had kissed him with such urgent passion. At the same time, he kept remembering Inge standing in the bedroom doorway, her expressionless white face a more agonizing reproach than any explicit accusation.
As the ship came into the harbor, Tilde said, “I hope we’re right, and Arne is a spy.”
“You haven’t lost your enthusiasm for this work?”
Her reply was sharp. “Whatever makes you say that?”
“Our discussion about Jews.”
“Oh, that.” She shrugged it off. “You were right, weren’t you? You proved it. We raided the synagogue and it led us to Gammel.”
“Then, I wondered if the death of Kirke might have been too gruesome. .”
“My husband died,” she said crisply. “I don’t mind seeing criminals die.”
She was even tougher than he had thought. He hid a pleased smile. “So you’ll stay in the police.”
“I don’t see any other future. Besides, I might be the first woman to get promotion to sergeant.”
Peter doubted that would ever happen. It would involve men taking orders from a woman, and that seemed beyond the bounds of possibility. But he did not say so. “Braun virtually promised me promotion if I can round up this spy ring.”
“Promotion to what?”
“Head of the department. Juel’s job.” And a man who was head of the Security Department at thirty could well end up chief of the entire Copenhagen police, he thought. His heart beat faster as he envisioned the crackdown he would impose, with the backing of the Nazis.
Tilde smiled warmly. Putting a hand on his arm, she said, “Then we’d better make sure we catch them all.”
The ship docked and the passengers began to disembark. As they watched, Tilde said, “You’ve known Arne since childhood-is he the type for espionage?”
“I’d have to say no,” Peter replied thoughtfully. “He’s too happy-go-lucky.”
“Oh.” Tilde looked glum.
“In fact, I might have dismissed him as a suspect, but for his English fiancee.”
She brightened. “That puts him right in the frame.”
“I don’t know whether they’re still engaged. She went back to England hot-foot when the Germans came. But the possibility is enough.”
A hundred or so passengers got off, some on foot, a handful in cars, many with bicycles. The island was only twenty miles from end to end, and cycling was the easiest way to get around.
“There,” said Tilde, pointing.
Peter saw Arne Olufsen disembarking, wearing his army uniform, pushing his bicycle. “But where’s Dresler?”
“Four people behind.”
“I see him.” Peter put on sunglasses and pulled his hat low, then started the engine. Arne cycled up the cobbled street toward the town center, and Dresler did the same. Peter and Tilde followed slowly in the car.
Arne headed out of town to the north. Peter began to feel conspicuous. There were few other cars on the roads, and he had to drive slowly to stay with the bikes. Soon he was obliged to fall behind and drop out of sight for fear of being noticed. After a few minutes, he speeded up until he caught sight of Dresler, then slowed again. Two German soldiers on a motorcycle with a sidecar passed them, and Peter wished he had borrowed a motorbike instead of a car.
A few miles out of town, they were the only people on the road. “This is impossible,” Tilde said in a high, anxious voice. “He’s bound to spot us.”
Peter nodded. She was right, but now a new thought occurred to him. “And when he does, his reaction will be highly revealing.”
She gave him an inquiring look, but he did not explain.
He increased speed. Rounding a bend, he saw Dresler crouching in the woods at the side of the road and, a hundred yards ahead, Arne sitting on a wall, smoking a cigarette. Peter had no option but to drive past. He continued another mile then reversed down a farm track.
“Was he checking on us, or just taking a rest?” Tilde said.
A few minutes later Arne cycled past, followed by Dresler. Peter pulled onto the road again.
The daylight was fading. Three miles farther on, they came to a crossroads. Dresler had stopped there and was looking perplexed.
There was no sign of Arne.
Dresler came up to the car window, looking distraught. “I’m sorry, Boss. He put on a burst of speed and got ahead of me. I lost sight of him, and I don’t know which way he went at this crossroads.”
Tilde said, “Hell. He must have planned it. He obviously knows the road.”
“I’m sorry,” Dresler said again.
Tilde said quietly, “There goes your promotion-and mine.”
“Don’t be so gloomy,” Peter said. “This is good news.”
Tilde was bewildered. “What do you mean?”
“If an innocent man thinks he’s being followed, what does he do? He stops, turns around, and says, ‘Who the hell do you think you are, following me around?’ Only a guilty man deliberately shakes off a surveillance team. Don’t you see? This means we were right: Arne Olufsen is a spy.”
“But we’ve lost him.”
“Oh, don’t worry. We’ll find him again.”
They spent the night at a seaside hotel with a bathroom at the end of each corridor. At midnight, Peter put a robe over his pajamas and knocked on the door of Tilde’s room. She called, “Come in.”
He stepped inside. She was sitting up in the single bed, wearing a light blue silk nightdress, reading an American novel called Gone with the Wind. He said, “You didn’t ask who it was at the door.”
His detective’s mind noticed that she wore lipstick, her hair was carefully brushed, and the flowery perfume was in the air, as if she had dressed for a date. He kissed her lips, and she stroked the back of his head. After a moment he looked back to the door, to make sure he had closed it.
“She’s not there,” Tilde said.
He kissed her again, but after a few moments he realized he was not getting excited. He broke the kiss and sat on the edge of the bed.
“It’s the same for me,” Tilde said.
“I keep thinking about Oskar.”
“Inge might as well be.”
She said, “I’m sorry. But it’s true. I’m thinking about my husband, and you’re thinking about your wife, and neither of them cares.”
“It wasn’t like this last night, at my apartment.”
“We didn’t give ourselves time to think then.”
This was ridiculous, he thought. In his youth he had been a confident seducer, able to persuade many women to yield to him, and leaving most of them well satisfied. Was he just out of practice?
He shrugged off his robe and slipped into bed beside her. She was warm and welcoming, and her round body under the nightdress was soft to his touch. She turned off the light. He kissed her, but he could not rekindle last night’s passion.
They lay side by side in the dark. “It’s all right,” she said. “You have to leave the past behind. It’s difficult for you.”
He kissed her again, briefly, then he got up and returned to his own room.
Harald’s life was in ruins. All his plans were canceled and he had no future. Yet, instead of agonizing over his fate, he was looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with Karen Duchwitz. He recalled her white skin and vivid red hair, and the way she walked across the room as if she were dancing, and nothing seemed as important as seeing her again.
Denmark was a small, pretty country, but at twenty miles per hour it seemed like the endless desert. Harald’s peat-burning motorcycle took a day and a half to get from his home on Sande across the width of the country to Kirstenslot.
The bike’s progress over the monotonous undulating landscape was further slowed by breakdowns. He suffered a puncture before he was thirty miles from home. Next, on the long bridge that linked the Jutland peninsula with the central island of Fyn, his chain broke. The Nimbus motorcycle originally had a shaft drive, but that was difficult to connect to a steam engine, so Harald had taken a chain and sprockets from an old lawn mower. Now he had to push the bike miles to a garage and have a new link inserted. By the time he had crossed Fyn, he had missed the last ferry to the main island of Zealand. He parked the bike, ate the food his mother had given him-three thick slices of ham and a slab of cake-and spent a chill night waiting on the dockside. When he relit the boiler the next morning, the safety valve had developed a leak, but he managed to plug it with chewing gum and sticking plaster.
He arrived at Kirstenslot late on Saturday afternoon. Although he was impatient to see Karen, he did not go immediately to the castle. He drove past the ruined monastery and the entrance to the castle grounds, passed through the village with its church and tavern and railway station, and found the farm he had visited with Tik. He was confident he could get a job here. It was the right time of year, and he was young and strong.
There was a large farmhouse in a neat yard. As he parked the bike, he was watched by two little girls-granddaughters, he imagined, of Farmer Nielsen, the white-haired man he had seen driving away from the church.
He found the farmer at the rear of the house, dressed in muddy corduroys and a collarless shirt, leaning on a fence and smoking a pipe. “Good evening, Mr. Nielsen,” he said.
“Hello, young man,” Nielsen said guardedly. “What can I do for you?”
“My name is Harald Olufsen. I need a job, and Josef Duchwitz told me you hire summer laborers.”
“Not this year, son.”
Harald was dismayed. He had not even considered the possibility of refusal. “I’m a hard worker-”
“I don’t doubt it, and you look strong enough, but I’m not hiring.”
Nielsen raised an eyebrow. “I might say it’s none of your business, my lad, but I was a brash young man myself, once, so I’ll tell you that times are hard, the Germans buy most of what I produce at a price decided by them, and there’s no cash to pay casual laborers.”
“I’ll work for food,” Harald said desperately. He could not return to Sande.
Nielsen gave him a penetrating look. “You sound as if you’re in some kind of trouble. But I can’t hire you on those terms. I’d have trouble with the union.”
It seemed hopeless. Harald cast about for an alternative. He might find work in Copenhagen, but then where would he live? He could not even go to his brother, who lived on a military base where overnight guests were not permitted.
Nielsen saw his distress and said, “Sorry, son.” He knocked his pipe out against the top rail of the fence. “Come on, I’ll see you off the premises.”
The farmer probably thought he was desperate enough to steal, Harald thought. The two of them walked around the house to the front yard.
“What the hell’s that?” said Nielsen when he saw the bike, with its boiler gently puffing steam.
“It’s just an ordinary motorcycle, but I’ve rigged it to run on peat.”
“How far have you come on it?”
“Good God! It looks ready to blow up any minute.”
Harald felt offended. “It’s perfectly safe,” he said indignantly. “I know about engines. In fact, I mended one of your tractors, a few weeks ago.” For a moment, Harald wondered whether Nielsen might hire him out of gratitude, but then he told himself not to be foolish. Gratitude would not pay wages. “You had a leak in the fuel supply.”
Nielsen frowned. “What do you mean?”
Harald threw another slab of peat into the firebox. “I was staying at Kirstenslot for the weekend. Josef and I came across one of your men, Frederik, trying to start a tractor.”
“I remember. So you’re that lad?”
“Yes.” He climbed on the bike.
“Wait a minute. Maybe I can hire you.”
Harald looked at him, hardly daring to hope.
“I can’t afford laborers, but a mechanic is a different matter. Do you know about all kinds of machinery?”
This was no time for modesty, Harald decided. “I can usually fix anything with an engine.”
“I’ve got half a dozen machines lying idle for lack of spares. Do you think you could make them work?”
Nielsen looked at the motorcycle. “If you can do this, maybe you can repair my seed drill.”
“I don’t see why not.”
“All right,” the farmer said decisively. “I’ll give you a trial.”
“Thank you, Mr. Nielsen!”
“Tomorrow’s Sunday, so come here on Monday morning at six o’clock. We farmers start early.”
“I’ll be here.”
“Don’t be late.”
Harald opened the regulator to let steam into the cylinder and drove off before Nielsen could change his mind.
As soon as he was out of earshot, he let out a triumphant yell. He had a job-one much more interesting than serving customers in a haberdashery-and he had done it himself. He felt full of confidence. He was on his own, but he was young and strong and smart. He was going to be all right.
Daylight was fading as he drove back through the village. He almost failed to see a man in police uniform who stepped into the road and waved him down. He braked hard at the last minute, and the boiler sighed a cloud of steam through the safety valve. He recognized the policeman as Per Hansen, the local Nazi.
“What the hell is this?” Hansen said, pointing to the bike.
“It’s a Nimbus motorcycle, converted to steam power,” Harald told him.
“It looks dangerous to me.”
Harald had little patience with this kind of officious busybody, but he forced himself to answer politely. “I assure you, Officer, it’s perfectly safe. Are you making official inquiries, or just indulging your curiosity?”
“Never mind the cheek, lad. I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?”
Harald told himself not to get on the wrong side of the law. He had already spent one night in jail this week. “My name is Harald Olufsen.”
“You’re a friend of the Jews at the castle.”
Harald lost his temper. “It’s none of your damn business who my friends are.”
“Oho! Is it not?” Hansen looked satisfied, as if he had the result he wanted. “I’ve got the measure of you, young man,” he said maliciously. “I shall keep a close eye on you. Off you go, now.”
Harald pulled away. He cursed his short temper. He had now made an enemy of the local policeman, just because of a throwaway remark about Jews. When would he learn to keep out of trouble?
A quarter of a mile from the gates of Kirstenslot, he turned off the road onto the cart track that led through the wood to the back of the monastery. He could not be seen from the house, and he was betting no one would be working in the garden on a Saturday evening.
He stopped the bike at the west front of the disused church, then walked through the cloisters and entered the church by a side door. At first he could see only ghostly shapes in the dim evening light coming through the high windows. As his eyesight adjusted, he made out the long Rolls-Royce car under its tarpaulin, the boxes of old toys, and the Hornet Moth biplane with its folded wings. He had the feeling that no one had entered the church since last time he was here.
He opened the large main door, drove his bike inside, and closed the door.
He permitted himself a moment of satisfaction as he shut down the steam engine. He had crossed the country on his improvised motorcycle, got himself a job, and found a place to stay. Unless he was unlucky, his father could not find out where he was; but if there should be any important family news, his brother knew how to get in touch with him. Best of all, there was a good chance he would see Karen Duchwitz. He recalled that she liked to smoke a cigarette on the terrace after dinner. He decided to go and look out for her. It was risky-he might be seen by Mr. Duchwitz-but he felt lucky today.
In a corner of the church, next to the workbench and tool rack, was a sink with a cold water tap. Harald had not washed for two days. He stripped off his shirt and got cleaned up as best he could without soap. He rinsed out the shirt, hung it on a nail to dry, and put on the spare one from his bag.
An arrow-straight drive half a mile long led from the main gates to the castle, but it was too exposed, and Harald took a roundabout route to approach the place through the wood. He passed the stables, crossed the kitchen garden, and studied the back of the house from the shelter of a cedar tree. He was able to identify the drawing room by its French windows, which were open to the terrace. Next to it was the dining room, he recalled. The blackout curtains were not yet drawn, for the electric lights had not yet been switched on, although he saw the flicker of a candle.
He guessed the family was having dinner. Tik would be at school-Jansborg boys were allowed home once a fortnight, and this was a school weekend-so the dinner party would consist of Karen and her parents, unless there were guests. He decided to risk a closer look.
He crossed the lawn and crept up to the house. He heard the sound of a BBC announcer saying that Vichy French forces had abandoned Damascus to an army of British, Commonwealth, and Free French. It made a pleasant change to hear of a British victory, but he found it hard to see how good news from Syria was going to help his cousin Monika in Hamburg. Peeping in through the dining room window, he saw that dinner was over, and a maid was clearing the table.
A moment later, a voice behind him said, “What do you thinking you’re doing?”
He spun around.
Karen was walking along the terrace toward him. Her pale skin was luminous in the evening light. She wore a long silk dress in a watery shade of blue-green. Her dancer’s carriage made it seem as if she were gliding. She looked like a ghost.
“Hush!” he said.
She did not recognize him in the fading light. “Hush?” she said indignantly. There was nothing ghostly about her challenging tone. “I find an intruder peering through a window into my house and he tells me to hush?” There was a bark from inside.
Harald could not decide whether Karen was genuinely outraged or just amused. “I don’t want your father to know I’m here!” he said in a low, urgent voice.
“You should worry about the police, not my father.”
The old red setter, Thor, came bounding out, ready to savage a burglar, but he recognized Harald and licked his hand.
“I’m Harald Olufsen, I was here two weeks ago.”
“Oh-the boogie-woogie boy! What are you doing skulking on the terrace? Have you come back to rob the place?”
To Harald’s dismay, Mr. Duchwitz came to the French window and looked out. “Karen?” he said. “Is someone there?”
Harald held his breath. If Karen betrayed him now, she could spoil everything.
After a moment, she said, “It’s all right, Daddy-just a friend.”
Mr. Duchwitz peered at Harald in the gloom, but did not seem to recognize him, and after a moment he grunted and went back inside.
“Thanks,” Harald breathed.
Karen sat on a low wall and lit a cigarette. “You’re welcome, but you have to tell me what this is all about.” The dress matched her green eyes, which shone out of her face as if lit from within.
He sat on the wall facing her. “I quarreled with my father and left home.”
“Why did you come here?”
Karen herself was half the reason, but he decided not to say so. “I’ve got a job with Farmer Nielsen, repairing his tractors and machines.”
“You are enterprising. Where are you living?”
“Um. . in the old monastery.”
“I assume you brought blankets and things.”
“It may be chilly at night.”
“Hmm.” She smoked in silence for a while, watching darkness fall like a mist over the garden. Harald studied her, mesmerized by the twilight on the shapes of her face, the wide mouth and the slightly crooked nose and the mass of wiry hair that somehow combined to be bewitchingly lovely. He watched her full lips as she blew out smoke. Eventually she threw her cigarette into a flower bed, stood up, and said, “Well, good luck.” Then she went back into the house and closed the French window behind her.
That was abrupt, Harald thought. He felt deflated. He stayed where he was for a minute. He would have been happy to talk to her all night, but she had got bored with him in five minutes. He remembered, now, that she had made him feel alternately welcomed and rejected during his weekend visit. Perhaps it was a game she played. Or maybe it reflected her own vacillating feelings. He liked the thought that she might have feelings about him, even if they were unstable.
He walked back to the monastery. The night air was already cooling. Karen was right, it would be chilly. The church had a tiled floor that looked cold. He wished he had thought to bring a blanket from home.
He looked around for a bed. The starlight that came through the windows faintly illuminated the interior of the church. The east end had a curved wall that had once enclosed the altar. To one side, a broad ledge was incorporated into the wall. A tiled canopy stood over it, and Harald guessed it had once framed some object of veneration-a holy relic, a jeweled chalice, a painting of the Virgin. Now, however, it looked more like a bed than anything else he could see, and he lay down on the ledge.
Through a glassless window he could see the tops of trees and a scatter of stars against a midnight blue sky. He thought about Karen. He imagined her touching his hair with a fond gesture, brushing his lips with hers, putting her arms around him and hugging him. These images were different from the scenes he had imagined with Birgit Claussen, the Morlunde girl he had dated at Easter. When Birgit starred in his fantasies, she was always taking off her brassiere, or rolling on a bed, or ripping his shirt in her haste to get at him. Karen played a subtler part, more loving than lustful, although there was always the promise of sex deep in her eyes.
He was cold. He got up. Maybe he could sleep in the airplane. Fumbling in the dark, he found the door handle. But when he opened it he heard scuttling sounds, and recalled that mice had nested in the upholstery. He was not afraid of scuttling creatures, but he could not quite bring himself to bed down with them.
He considered the Rolls-Royce. He could curl up on the backseat. It would be roomier than the Hornet Moth. Taking the canvas cover off, in the dark, might take a while, but perhaps it would be worth it. He wondered if the car doors were locked.
He was fumbling with the cover, looking for some kind of fastening that he could undo, when he heard light footsteps. He froze. A moment later, the beam of an electric torch swept past the window. Did the Duchwitzes have a security patrol at night?
He looked through the door that led to the cloisters. The torch was approaching. He stood with his back to the wall, trying not to breathe. Then he heard a voice. “Harald?”
His heart leaped with pleasure. “Karen.”
“Where are you?”
“In the church.”
Her beam found him, then she pointed it upward to shed a general light. He saw that she was carrying a bundle. “I brought you some blankets.”
He smiled. He would be grateful for the warmth, but he was even more happy that she cared. “I was just thinking of sleeping in the car.”
“You’re too tall.”
When he unfolded the blankets he found something inside.
“I thought you might be hungry,” she explained.
In the light of her torch he saw half a loaf of bread, a small basket of strawberries, and a length of sausage. There was also a flask. He unscrewed the lid and smelled fresh coffee.
He realized he was ravenous. He fell on the food, trying not to eat like a starved jackal. He heard a mew, and a cat came into the circle of light. It was the skinny black-and-white tom he had seen the first time he entered the church. He dropped a piece of sausage on the ground. The cat sniffed it, turned it over with a paw, then began to eat it daintily. “What’s the cat called?” Harald asked Karen.
“I don’t think it has a name. It’s a stray.”
At the back of its head it had a tuft of hair like a pyramid. “I think I’ll call him Pinetop,” Harald said. “After my favorite pianist.”
He ate everything. “Boy, that was great. Thank you.”
“I should have brought more. When was the last time you ate?”
“How did you get here?”
“Motorcycle.” He pointed across the church to where he had parked the bike. “But it’s slow, because it runs on peat, so I took two days to get here from Sande.”
“You’re a determined character, Harald Olufsen.”
“Am I?” He was not sure whether this was a compliment.
“Yes. In fact, I’ve never met anyone quite like you.”
On balance, he thought this was good. “Well, to tell the truth, I feel the same about you.”
“Oh, come on. The world is full of spoiled rich girls who want to be ballet dancers, but how many people have crossed Denmark on a peat-burning motorcycle?”
He laughed, pleased. They were quiet for a minute. “I was very sorry about Poul,” Harald said eventually. “It must have been a terrible shock for you.”
“It was completely devastating. I cried all day.”
“Were you very close?”
“We only had three dates, and I wasn’t in love with him, but all the same it was dreadful.” Tears came to her eyes, and she sniffed and swallowed.
Harald was shamefully pleased to learn that she had not been in love with Poul. “It’s very sad,” he said, and felt hypocritical.
“I was heartbroken when my grandma died, but somehow this was worse. Gran was old and sick, but Poul was so full of energy and fun, so good-looking and fit.”
“Do you know how it happened?” Harald said tentatively.
“No-the army has been ridiculously secretive about it,” she said, her voice becoming angry. “They just say he crashed his plane, and the details are classified.”
“Perhaps they’re covering something up.”
“Such as what?” she said sharply.
Harald realized he could not tell her what he thought without revealing his own connection to the Resistance. “Their own incompetence?” he improvised. “Perhaps the aircraft wasn’t properly serviced.”
“They couldn’t use the excuse of military secrecy to hide something like that.”
“Of course they could. Who would know?”
“I don’t believe our officers would be so dishonorable,” she said stiffly.
Harald realized he had offended her, as he had when he first met her-and in the same way, by being scornful about her credulity. “I expect you’re right,” he said hastily. That was insincere: he felt sure she was wrong. But he did not want to quarrel with her.
Karen stood up. “I must get back before they lock up.” Her voice was cold.
“Thanks for the food and blankets-you’re an angel of mercy.”
“Not my usual role,” she said, softening a little.
“Perhaps I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Maybe. Good night.”
Then she was gone.
Hermia slept badly. She had a dream in which she was talking to a Danish policeman. The conversation was amiable, though she was anxious not to give herself away; but she realized, after a while, that they were speaking English. The man continued to talk as if nothing had happened, while she trembled and waited for him to arrest her.
She woke up to find herself on a narrow bed in a lodging house on the island of Bornholm. She was relieved to find that the conversation with the policeman had been a dream-but there was nothing unreal about the danger that faced her now that she had woken up. She was in occupied territory, carrying forged papers, pretending to be a secretary on vacation, and if she were found out, she would be hanged as a spy.
Back in Stockholm, she and Digby had again deceived their German followers with substitutes, and having shaken them off had taken a train to the south coast. In the tiny fishing village of Kalvsby they had found a boatman willing to take her across the twenty miles or so of sea to Bornholm. She had said goodbye to Digby-who could not possibly pass for Danish-and climbed aboard. He was going to London for a day to report to Churchill, but he would fly back immediately and be waiting for her on the jetty in Kalvsby when she returned-if she returned.
The fisherman had put her ashore, with her bicycle, on a lonely beach at dawn yesterday. The man had promised to return to the same spot four days later at the same hour. To make sure of him, Hermia had promised him double the fee for the return journey back.
She had cycled to Hammershus, the ruined castle that was her rendezvous with Arne, and had waited there for him all day. He had not come.
She told herself not to be surprised. Arne had been working the previous day, and she guessed he had not been able to get away early enough to catch the evening ferry. He had probably taken the Saturday morning boat and arrived on Bornholm too late to reach Hammershus before dark. In those circumstances, he would find somewhere to spend the night, and come to the rendezvous first thing in the morning.
That was what she believed in her more cheerful moments. But at the back of her mind was the constant thought that he might have been arrested. It was useless to ask herself what he could have been arrested for, or to argue that he had not yet committed a crime, for that only led her to imagine fanciful scenarios in which he confided in a treacherous friend, or wrote everything in a diary, or confessed to a priest.
Late in the day, she had given up on Arne and cycled to the nearest village. In summer many of the islanders offered bed and breakfast to tourists, and she found a place to stay without difficulty. She fell into bed anxious and hungry, and had bad dreams.
Getting dressed, she recalled the holiday she and Arne had spent on this island, registering at their hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Olufsen. That was when she had felt most intimate with him. He loved to gamble, and he would make bets with her for sexual favors: “If the red boat gets into harbor first, you have to go around with no panties all day tomorrow, and if the blue boat wins, you can be on top tonight.” You can have anything you want, my love, she thought, if you just show up today.
She decided to have breakfast this morning before cycling back to Hammershus. She might be waiting all day again, and she did not want to faint from hunger. She dressed in the cheap new clothes she had bought in Stockholm-English clothes might have given her away-and went downstairs.
She felt nervous as she walked into the family dining room. It was more than a year since she had been in the habit of speaking Danish daily. After landing yesterday she had had only a few brief exchanges of words. Now she would have to make small talk.
There was one other guest in the room, a middle-aged man with a friendly smile who said, “Good morning. I’m Sven Fromer.”
Hermia forced herself to relax. “Agnes Ricks,” she said, using the name on her false papers. “It’s a beautiful day.” She had nothing to fear, she told herself. She spoke Danish with the accent of the metropolitan bourgeoisie, and Danes never knew she was English until she told them. She helped herself to porridge, poured cold milk over it, and began to eat. The tension she felt made it difficult for her to swallow.
Sven smiled at her and said, “English style.”
She stared at him, appalled. How had he found her out so fast? “What do you mean?”
“The way you eat porridge.”
He had his milk in a glass, and took sips from it between mouthfuls of porridge. That was how Danes ate porridge, she knew perfectly well. She cursed her carelessness and tried to bluff it out. “I prefer it this way,” she said as casually as she could. “The milk cools the porridge and you can eat it faster.”
“A girl in a hurry. Where are you from?”
Hermia did not want to get into a conversation about exactly where in Copenhagen they both lived. That could too easily lead her into more errors. Her safest plan would be to ask him questions. She had never met a man who did not like to talk about himself. “Are you on holiday?”
“Unfortunately not. I’m a surveyor, working for the government. However, the job is done, and I don’t have to be home until tomorrow, so I’m going to spend today driving around, and catch the overnight ferry this evening.”
“You have a car?”
“I need one for my work.”
The landlady brought bacon and black bread. When she had left the room, Sven said, “If you’re on your own, I’d be happy to take you around.”
“I’m engaged to be married,” Hermia said firmly.
He smiled ruefully. “Your fiance is a lucky man. I’d still be glad of your company.”
“Please don’t be offended, but I want to be alone.”
“I quite understand. I hope you don’t mind my asking.”
She gave him her most charming smile. “On the contrary, I’m flattered.”
He poured himself another cup of ersatz coffe, and seemed inclined to linger. Hermia began to relax. So far she had aroused no suspicion.
Another guest came in, a man of about Hermia’s age, neatly dressed in a suit. He bowed stiffly to them and spoke Danish with a German accent. “Good morning. I am Helmut Mueller.”
Hermia’s heart raced. “Good morning,” she said. “Agnes Ricks.”
Mueller turned expectantly to Sven, who stood up, pointedly ignoring the newcomer, and stalked out of the room.
Mueller sat down, looking hurt. “Thank you for your courtesy,” he said to Hermia.
Hermia tried to behave normally. She pressed her hands together to stop their shaking. “Where are you from, Herr Mueller?”
“I was born in Luebeck.”
She asked herself what a friendly Dane might say to a German by way of small talk. “You speak our language well.”
“When I was a boy, my family came often here to Bornholm for holidays.”
He was not suspicious, Hermia saw, and she felt emboldened to ask a less superficial question. “Tell me, do many people refuse to speak to you?”
“Such rudeness as our fellow guest has just displayed is unusual. In the present circumstances, Germans and Danes have to live together, and most Danes are polite.” He gave her a look of curiosity. “But you must have observed this-unless you have from another country recently arrived.”
She realized she had made another slip. “No, no,” she said hastily, covering up. “I’m from Copenhagen where, as you say, we live together as best we can. I just wondered if things were different here on Bornholm.”
“No, much the same.”
All conversation was dangerous, she realized. She stood up. “Well, I hope you enjoy your breakfast.”
“And have a pleasant day here in our country.”
“I wish you the same.”
She left the room, wondering if she had been too nice. Overfriendliness might arouse suspicion as easily as hostility. But he had shown no sign of mistrust.
As she was leaving on her bicycle, she saw Sven putting his luggage in his car. It was a slope-backed Volvo PV444, a popular Swedish car often seen in Denmark. She saw that the rear seat had been removed to make room for his equipment, tripods and a theodolite and other gear, some in an assortment of leather cases, some wrapped in blankets for protection. “I apologize for creating a scene,” he said. “I didn’t wish to be rude to you.”
“That’s all right.” She could see that he was still angry. “You obviously feel strongly.”
“I come from a military family. It’s difficult for me to accept that we surrendered so quickly. I believe we should have fought. We should be fighting now!” He made a gesture of frustration, as if throwing something away. “I shouldn’t speak this way. I’m embarrassing you.”
She touched his arm. “You have nothing to apologize for.”
She rode off.
Churchill was pacing the croquet lawn at Chequers, the official country residence of the British Prime Minister. He was writing a speech in his head: Digby knew the signs. His weekend guests were the American ambassador, John Winant, and the foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, with their wives; but none of them were to be seen. Digby sensed there was some crisis, but no one had told him what. Churchill’s private secretary, Mr. Colville, gestured toward the brooding premier. Digby approached Churchill across the smooth grass.
The Prime Minister lifted his bent head. “Ah, Hoare,” he said. He stopped walking. “Hitler has invaded the Soviet Union.”
“Christ!” said Digby Hoare. He wanted to sit down but there were no chairs. “Christ!” he repeated. Yesterday, Hitler and Stalin had been allies, their friendship cemented by the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939. Today they were at war. “When did that happen?”
“This morning,” Churchill said grimly. “General Dill has just been here to give me the details.” Sir John Dill was Chief of the Imperial General Staff, therefore the most senior man in the military. “Early intelligence estimates put the size of the invading army at three million men.”
“They have attacked along a two-thousand-mile front. There is a northern group heading for Leningrad, a central one making for Moscow, and a southern force on its way to the Ukraine.”
Digby was dazed. “Oh, my God. Is this the end, sir?”
Churchill drew on his cigar. “It may be. Most people believe the Russians can’t win. They will be slow to mobilize. With heavy air support from the Luftwaffe, Hitler’s tanks could wipe out the Red Army in a few weeks.”
Digby had never seen his boss look so defeated. In the face of bad news Churchill normally became even more pugnacious, always wanting to respond to defeat by going on the attack. But today he looked worn down. “Is there any hope?” Digby asked.
“Yes. If the Reds can survive until the end of summer, it may be a different story. The Russian winter defeated Napoleon and it might yet undo Hitler. The next three or four months will be decisive.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I shall go on the BBC tonight at nine.”
“And say. .?”
“That we must give whatever help we can to Russia and the Russian people.”
Digby raised his eyebrows. “A hard thing for a passionate anticommunist to propose.”
“My dear Hoare, if Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”
Digby smiled, wondering whether that line was being considered for inclusion in tonight’s speech. “But is there any help we can give?”
“Stalin has asked me to step up the bombing campaign against Germany. He hopes it will force Hitler to bring aircraft home to defend the fatherland. That would weaken the invading army and might give the Russians an even chance.”
“Are you going to do it?”
“I have no choice. I’ve ordered a bombing raid for the next full moon. It will be the largest air operation of the war so far, which means the largest in the history of mankind. There will be more than five hundred bombers, over half our entire strength.”
Digby wondered if his brother would be on the raid. “But if they suffer the kind of losses we’ve been experiencing. .”
“We will be crippled. That’s why I’ve called you in. Do you have an answer for me?”
“Yesterday I infiltrated an agent into Denmark. Her orders are to get photographs of the radar installation on Sande. That will answer the question.”
“It had better. The bombing raid is scheduled in sixteen days’ time. When do you hope to have the photographs in your hands?”
“Within a week.”
“Good,” Churchill said dismissively.
“Thank you, Prime Minister.” Digby turned away.
“Don’t fail me,” said Churchill.
Hammershus was on the northern tip of Bornholm. The castle stood on a hill that looked across the sea to Sweden, and had once guarded the island against invasion by its neighbor. Hermia wheeled her bicycle along the winding path up the rocky slopes, wondering if today would be as fruitless as yesterday. The sun was shining, and she was warm from the effort of cycling.
The castle had been built of mixed brick and stone. Solitary walls remained, their features forlornly suggestive of family life: large sooty fireplaces exposed to the sky, cold stone cellars for storing apples and ale, broken staircases that led nowhere, narrow windows through which thoughtful children must once have stared at the sea.
Hermia was early, and the place was deserted. Judging by yesterday’s experience, she would have it to herself for another hour or more. What would it be like if Arne did turn up today, she wondered as she pushed her bike through ruined archways and across grass-grown floors.
In Copenhagen before the invasion she and Arne had been a glamorous couple, the center of a social set of young officers and pretty girls with government connections, always having parties and picnics, going dancing and playing sports, sailing and riding horses and driving to the beach. Now that those days were over, would she seem to Arne like part of his past? On the phone, he had said he still loved her-but he had not seen her for more than a year. Would he find her the same, or changed? Would he still like the smell of her hair and the taste of her mouth? She began to feel nervous.
She had spent all day yesterday looking at the ruins, and they held no more interest for her. She walked to the seaward side, leaned her bike against a low stone wall, and looked down at the beach far below.
A familiar voice said, “Hello, Hermia.”
She whirled around and saw Arne walking toward her, smiling, his arms spread wide. He had been waiting behind a tower. Her nervousness vanished. She ran into his arms and hugged him hard enough to hurt.
“What’s the matter?” he said. “Why are you weeping?”
She realized she was crying, her chest heaving with sobs, tears running down her face. “I’m so happy,” she said.
He kissed her wet cheeks. She held his face in both hands, feeling his bones with her fingertips to prove to herself that he was real, this was not one of the imaginary reunion scenes she had dreamed so often. She nuzzled his neck, breathing in the smell of him, army soap and brilliantine and airplane fuel. There were no smells in her dreams.
She was overwhelmed by emotion, but the feeling slowly changed from excitement and happiness to something else. Their tender kisses turned searching and hungry, their gentle caresses became urgently demanding. When her knees felt weak, she sank to the grass, pulling him down with her. She licked his neck, sucked his lip, and bit his earlobe. His erection pressed against her thigh. She fumbled with the buttons of his uniform trousers, opening the fly so that she could feel him properly. He pushed up the skirt of her dress and slid his hand beneath the elastic of her underwear. She suffered a moment of coy embarrassment at how wet she was, then it was forgotten in a wave of pleasure. Impatiently, she broke the embrace long enough to take off her panties and throw them aside, then pulled him on top of her. It occurred to her that they were in full view of any early tourists coming to see the ruins, but she did not care. She knew that later, when the madness had left her, she would shudder with horror at the risk she had taken, but she could not hold back. She gasped as he entered her, then clung to him with her arms and legs, pressing his belly to hers, his chest to her breasts, his face into her neck, insatiably hungry for the touch of his body. Then that, too, passed as she focused on a node of intense pleasure that began small and hot, like a distant star, and grew steadily, seeming to possess more and more of her body, until it exploded.
They lay still for a while. She enjoyed the weight of his body on her, the breathless feeling it gave her, his slow detumescence. Then a shadow fell on them. It was only a cloud passing over the sun, but it reminded her that the ruins were open to the public, and someone could come along at any time. “Are we still alone?” she murmured.
He lifted his head and looked around. “Yes.”
“We’d better get up before the tourists arrive.”
She grabbed him as he pulled away. “One more kiss.”
He kissed her softly, then stood up.
She found her underpants and pulled them on quickly, then stood up and brushed grass off her dress. Now that she was decent, the sense of urgency left her, and all the muscles of her body felt pleasantly lassitudinous, as they sometimes did when she lay in bed on Sunday morning, dozing and listening to church bells.
She leaned on the wall, looking at the sea, and Arne put his arm around her. It was hard to wrench her mind back to war, deception, and secrecy.
“I’m working for British Intelligence,” she said abruptly.
He nodded. “I was afraid of that.”
“It means you’re in even more danger than if you had come here just to see me.”
She was pleased that his first thought was of the peril to her. He really did love her. But she brought trouble. “Now you’re at risk, too, just because you’re with me.”
“You’d better explain.”
She sat on the wall and gathered her thoughts. She had failed to think of a censored version of the story that included only what he absolutely had to know. No matter how she chopped it up, half the truth made no sense, so she had to tell him everything. She was going to ask him to risk his life, and he needed to know why.
She told him about the Nightwatchmen, the arrests at Kastrup aerodrome, the devastating rate of bomber losses, the radar installation on his home island of Sande, the himmelbett clue, and the involvement of Poul Kirke. As she talked, his face changed. The merriment went from his eyes, and his perennial smile was replaced by a look of anxiety. She wondered whether he would accept the mission.
If he were a coward, surely he would not have chosen to fly the flimsy wood-and-linen machines of the Army Aviation Troops? On the other hand, being a pilot was part of his dashing image. And he often put pleasure before work. It was one of the reasons she loved him: she was too serious, and he made her enjoy herself. Which was the real Arne-the hedonist or the airman? Until now he had never been put to the test.
“I’ve come to ask you to do what Poul would have done, if he had lived: go to Sande, get into the base, and examine the radar installation.”
Arne nodded, looking solemn.
“We need photographs, good ones.” She leaned across to her bicycle, opened the saddlebag, and took out a small 35mm camera, a German-made Leica IIIa. She had considered a miniature Minox Riga, which was easier to conceal, but in the end had preferred the precision of the Leica’s lens. “This is probably the most important job you’ll ever be asked to do. When we understand their radar system, we will be able to devise ways to defeat it, and that will save the lives of thousands of airmen.”
“I can see that.”
“But if you’re caught, you’ll be executed-shot or hanged-for spying.” She held out the camera.
She half wanted him to refuse the mission, for she could hardly bear the thought of the danger he would be in if he accepted. But, if he refused, could she ever respect him?
He did not take the camera. “Poul was the head of your Nightwatchmen.”
“I suppose most of our friends were in it.”
“Better that you don’t know-”
“Just about everyone except me.”
She nodded. She feared what was coming.
“You think I’m a coward.”
“It didn’t seem like your kind of thing-”
“Because I like parties, and I make jokes, and flirt with girls, you thought I didn’t have the guts for secret work.” She said nothing, but he was insistent. “Answer me.”
She nodded miserably.
“In that case, I’ll have to prove you wrong.” He took the camera.
She did not know whether to be happy or sad. “Thank you,” she said, fighting back tears. “You’ll be careful, won’t you?”
“Yes. But there’s a problem. I was followed to Bornholm.”
“Oh, hell.” This was something she had not anticipated. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I noticed a couple of people hanging around the base, a man and a young woman. She was on the train to Copenhagen with me, then he was on the ferry. When I got here, he followed me on a bicycle, and there was a car behind. I shook them off a few miles outside Ronne.”
“They must suspect you of working with Poul.”
“Ironically, as I wasn’t.”
“Who do you think they are?”
“Danish police, acting under orders from the Germans.”
“Now that you’ve given them the slip, they undoubtedly feel sure you’re guilty. They must still be looking for you.”
“They can’t search every house in Bornholm.”
“No, but they’ll have people watching the ferry port and the aerodrome.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. So how am I going to get back to Copenhagen?”
He was not yet thinking like a spy, Hermia noted. “We’ll have to smuggle you onto the ferry somehow.”
“And then where would I go? I can’t return to the flying school-it’s the first place they’ll look.”
“You’ll have to stay with Jens Toksvig.”
Arne’s face darkened. “So he’s one of the Nightwatchmen.”
“Yes. His address-”
“I know where he lives,” Arne snapped. “He was my friend before he was a Nightwatchman.”
“He may be jumpy, because of what happened to Poul-”
“He won’t turn me away.”
Hermia pretended not to notice Arne’s anger. “Let’s assume you get tonight’s ferry. How long will it take you to get to Sande?”
“First I’ll talk to my brother, Harald. He worked as a laborer on the site when they were building the base, so he can give me the layout. Then you have to allow a full day to get to Jutland, because the trains are always delayed. I could get there late on Tuesday, sneak into the base on Wednesday, and return to Copenhagen on Thursday. Then how do I get in touch with you?”
“Come back here next Friday. If the police are still watching the ferry, you’ll have to find some way of disguising yourself. I’ll meet you right here. We’ll cross to Sweden with the fisherman who brought me. Then we’ll get you false papers at the British Legation and fly you to England.”
He nodded grimly.
She said, “If this works out, we could be together again, and free, in a week’s time.”
He smiled. “It seems too much to hope for.”
He did love her, she decided, even though he was still feeling wounded at having been left out of the Nightwatchmen. And still, in her heart of hearts, she was not sure he had the nerve for this work. But she was undoubtedly going to find out.
While they had been talking, the first few tourists had arrived, and a handful of people were now strolling around the ruins, peering into cellars and touching the ancient stones. “Let’s get out of here,” Hermia said. “Did you come on a bicycle?”
“It’s behind that tower.”
Arne fetched his bike and they left the castle, Arne wearing sunglasses and a cap to make himself hard to recognize. The disguise would not pass a careful check of passengers boarding a ferry, but might protect him if he chanced to meet his pursuers on the road.
Hermia considered the problem of escape as they freewheeled down the hillside. Could she devise a better disguise for Arne? She had no wigs or costumes, nor any makeup other than the minimal lipstick and powder she used herself. He had to look like a different person, and for that he needed professional help. He could surely find it in Copenhagen, but not here.
At the foot of the hill she spotted her fellow guest at the boardinghouse, Sven Fromer, getting out of his Volvo. She did not want him to see Arne, and she hoped to ride past without his noticing her, but she was unlucky. He caught her eye, waved, and stood expectantly beside the path. It would have been conspicuously rude to ignore him, so she felt obliged to stop.
“We meet again,” he said. “This must be your fiance.”
She was not in any danger from Sven, she told herself. There was nothing suspicious about what she was doing, and anyway Sven was anti-German. “This is Oluf Arnesen,” she said, reversing Arne’s name. “Oluf, meet Sven Fromer. He stayed at the same place as me last night.”
The two men shook hands. Arne said conversationally, “Have you been here long?”
“A week. I leave tonight.”
Hermia was struck by a thought. “Sven,” she said. “This morning you told me we should be fighting the Germans.”
“I talk too much. I ought to be more circumspect.”
“If I gave you a chance to help the British, would you take a risk?”
He stared at her. “You?” he said. “But how. . Do you mean to say that you are-”
“Would you be willing?” she pressed him.
“This isn’t some kind of trick, is it?”
“You’ll have to trust me. Yes or no?”
“Yes,” he said. “What do you want me to do?”
“Could a man hide in the back of your car?”
“Sure. I could conceal him behind my equipment. He wouldn’t be comfortable, but there’s room.”
“Would you be willing to smuggle someone onto the ferry tonight?”
Sven looked at his car, then at Arne. “You?”
Sven smiled. “Hell, yes,” he said.
Harald’s first day working at the Nielsen farm was more successful than he had dared to hope. Old Nielsen had a small workshop with enough equipment for Harald to repair just about anything. He had patched the water pump on a steam plough, welded a hinge on a caterpillar track, and found the short circuit that caused the farmhouse lights to fuse every night. He had eaten a hearty lunch of herrings and potatoes with the farmhands.
In the evening he had spent a couple of hours at the village tavern with Karl, the farmer’s youngest son-although he had drunk only two small glasses of beer, remembering what a fool he had made of himself with liquor a week ago. Everyone was talking about Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. The news was bad. The Luftwaffe claimed to have destroyed 1,800 Soviet aircraft on the ground in lightning raids. In the tavern, everyone thought Moscow would fall before winter, except the local communist, and even he seemed worried.
Harald left early because Karen had said she might see him after dinner. He felt weary but pleased with himself as he walked back to the old monastery. When he entered the ruined building, he was astonished to find his brother in the church, staring at the derelict aircraft. “A Hornet Moth,” Arne said. “The gentleman’s aerial carriage.”
“It’s a wreck,” Harald said.
“Not really. The undercarriage is a bit bent.”
“How do you think it happened?”
“On landing. The back end of a Hornet tends to swing out of control, because the main wheels are too far forward. But the axle tubes aren’t designed to withstand sideways pressure, so when you swerve violently they can buckle.”
Arne looked terrible, Harald saw. Instead of his army uniform, he wore what seemed to be someone else’s old clothes, a worn tweed jacket and faded corduroy trousers. He had shaved off his moustache, and a greasy cap covered his curly hair. In his hands he held a small, neat 35mm camera. There was a strained expression on his face instead of his usual insouciant smile. “What happened to you?” Harald said anxiously.
“I’m in trouble. Have you got anything to eat?”
“Not a thing. We can go to the tavern-”
“I can’t show my face. I’m a wanted man.” Arne tried a wry grin, but it finished up as a grimace. “Every policeman in Denmark has my description, and there are posters of me all over Copenhagen. I was chased by a cop all along the Stroget and only just got away.”
“Are you in the Resistance?”
Arne hesitated, shrugged, then said, “Yes.”
Harald was thrilled. He sat on the ledge he used as a bed and Arne sat next to him. Pinetop the cat appeared and rubbed his head against Harald’s leg. “So you were working with them when I asked you, at home, three weeks ago?”
“No, not then. I was left out at first. Apparently they thought I wasn’t suitable for secret work. By Christ, they were right. But now they’re desperate, so I’m in it. I have to take pictures of some machinery at the military base on Sande.”
Harald nodded. “I drew a sketch of it for Poul.”
“Even you were in it before me,” Arne said bitterly. “Well, well.”
“Poul told me not to tell you.”
“Apparently everyone thought I was a coward.”
“I could redraw my sketches. . although they were only from memory.”
Arne shook his head. “They need accurate photos. I came to ask you if there’s a way to sneak inside.”
Harald found this talk of espionage exciting, but it bothered him that Arne did not seem to have a well-thought-out plan. “There’s a place where the fence is concealed by trees, yes-but how are you going to get to Sande if the police are looking for you?”
“I’ve changed my appearance.”
“Not much. What papers are you carrying?”
“Only my own-how would I get any others?”
“So if you’re stopped by the police for any reason, it will take them about ten seconds to establish that you’re the man they’re all looking for.”
“That’s about it.”
Harald shook his head. “It’s crazy.”
“It has to be done. This equipment enables the Germans to detect bombers when they’re still miles away-in time to scramble their fighters.”
“It must use radio waves,” Harald said excitedly.
“The British have a similar system, but the Germans seem to have refined it, and they’re shooting down up to half the aircraft on a raid. The RAF is desperate to figure out how they’re doing it. It’s worth risking my life.”
“Not pointlessly. If you’re caught, you won’t be able to pass the information to the British.”
“I have to try.”
Harald took a deep breath. “Why don’t I go?”
“I knew you were going to say that.”
“No one’s looking for me. I know the site. I’ve already been over the fence-I took a shortcut one night. And I know more about radio than you, so I’ll have a better idea of what to photograph.” Harald thought the logic of his argument irresistible.
“If you’re caught, you’ll be shot as a spy.”
“Same applies to you-only you’re virtually certain to be caught, whereas I’ll probably get away with it.”
“The police may have found your sketches when they came for Poul. If so, the Germans must know that someone’s interested in the base on Sande, and they will probably have improved their security as a result. Getting over the fence may not be as easy as it was.”
“I still have a better chance than you.”
“I can’t send you into danger. What if you’re caught-what will I say to Mother?”
“You’ll say that I died fighting for freedom. I’ve as much right as you to take the risk. Give me the damn camera.”
Before Arne could reply, Karen came in.
She walked softly and appeared without warning, so Arne had no chance to hide, although reflexively he made a move to get up, then stopped himself.
“Who are you?” Karen said with her customary directness. “Oh! Hello, Arne. You’ve shaved off your moustache-I suppose that’s because of all the posters I saw in Copenhagen today. Why are you an outlaw?” She sat on the covered hood of the Rolls-Royce, crossing her long legs like a fashion model.
Arne hesitated, then said, “I can’t tell you.”
Karen’s agile mind raced ahead, drawing inferences with impressive speed. “My God, you’re in the Resistance! Was Poul in it, too? Is that why he died?”
Arne nodded. “He didn’t crash his aircraft. He was trying to escape from the police, and they shot at him.”
“Poor Poul.” She looked away for a moment. “So you’ve taken up where he left off. But now the police are on to you. Someone must be sheltering you-probably Jens Toksvig, he was Poul’s closest friend after you.”
Arne shrugged and nodded.
“But you can’t move around without risking arrest, so. .” She looked at Harald, and her voice went quiet. “You’re in it now, Harald.”
To Harald’s surprise, she looked concerned, as if she were afraid for him. He was pleased that she cared.
He looked at Arne. “Well? Am I in it?”
Arne sighed and gave him the camera.
Harald arrived in Morlunde late the following day. He left the steam bike in a car park next to the ferry dock, feeling it would be too conspicuous on Sande. He had nothing with which to cover it, and no way of locking it, but he trusted that a casual thief would be unable to figure out how to make it go.
He was in time for the last ferry of the day. As he waited on the dockside, the evening slowly dimmed, and stars appeared like the lights of distant ships on a dark sea. A drunk islander came staggering along the quay, peered rudely at Harald, muttered, “Ah, young Olufsen,” then sat on a capstan some distance away and tried to light a pipe.
The boat docked and a handful of people got off. To Harald’s surprise, a Danish policeman and a German soldier stood at the head of the gangway. As the drunk boarded, they checked his identity card. Harald’s heartbeat seemed to falter. He hesitated, scared, unsure whether to board. Had they simply stepped up security after finding his sketches, as Arne had forecast? Or were they looking for Arne himself? Would they know Harald was the brother of the wanted man? Olufsen was a common name-but they might have been briefed on the family. He had an expensive camera in his satchel. It was a popular German make, but all the same it could arouse suspicion.
He tried to calm his mind and consider his options. There were other ways of getting to Sande. He was not sure he could swim two miles in the open sea, but he might be able to borrow or steal a small boat. However, if he were seen beaching the boat on Sande he would be sure to be questioned. He might do better to act innocent.
He boarded the ferry.
The policeman asked him, “What is your reason for wanting to travel to Sande?”
Harald suppressed a feeling of indignation that anyone should presume to ask such a question. “I live there,” he said. “With my parents.”
The policeman looked at his face. “I don’t remember seeing you before, and I’ve been doing this for four days.”
“I’ve been away at school.”
“Tuesday is a strange day to come home.”
“It’s the end of term.”
The policeman grunted, apparently satisfied. He checked the address on Harald’s card and showed it to the soldier, who nodded and let Harald on board.
He went to the far end of the boat and stood looking out to sea, waiting for his heart to stop racing. He was relieved to have passed the checkpoint, but furious that he had to justify himself to a policeman when moving around his own country. It seemed a silly reaction, when he thought about it logically, but he could not help feeling outraged.
At midnight the boat left the dock.
There was no moon. In the starlight, the flat island of Sande was a dark swell like another wave on the horizon. Harald had not expected to return so soon. In fact, when he left on Friday he had wondered if he would ever see the place again. Now he was back as a spy, with a camera in his bag and a mission to photograph the Nazis’ secret weapon. He vaguely recalled thinking what a thrill it would be to become part of the Resistance. In reality, it was no fun at all. On the contrary, he was sick with fear.
He felt worse as he disembarked on the familiar quay and looked across the road to the post office and the grocery store that had not changed since he could remember. His life had been secure and stable for the first eighteen years. Now he would never feel safe again.
He made his way to the beach and began to tramp south. The wet sand gleamed silver in the starlight. He heard a girlish giggle from an unseen source in the dunes, and he felt a pang of jealousy. Would he ever make Karen giggle like that?
It was near dawn when he came within sight of the base. He could make out the fence posts. The trees and bushes inside the site showed as dark patches on the dunes. If he could see, so could the guards, he realized. He dropped to his knees and began to crawl forward.
A minute later he was glad of his caution. He spotted two guards patrolling inside the fence, side by side, with a dog.
That was new. They had not patrolled in pairs before, and there had been no dogs.
He dropped flat. The two men did not seem especially alert. They were strolling, not marching. The one holding the dog was talking animatedly while the other smoked. As they came nearer, Harald could hear the voice over the sound of the waves breaking on the beach. He had learned German in school, like all Danish children. The man was telling a boastful story about a woman called Margareta.
Harald was about fifty yards from the fence. As the guards approached the nearest point to him, the dog sniffed the air. It could probably smell Harald, but did not know where he was. It barked uncertainly. The guard holding the lead was not as well trained as the dog, and he told the animal to shut up, then carried on explaining how he got Margareta to meet him in the woodshed. Harald lay completely still. The dog barked again, and one of the guards turned on a powerful flashlight. Harald hid his face in the sand. The beam of the flashlight played along the dunes but passed over him without stopping.
The guard said, “Then she said all right, but you’ll have to pull it out at the last minute.” They walked on, and the dog became quiet again.
Harald lay still until they were out of sight. Then he turned inland and approached the section of the fence that was concealed by vegetation. He feared the soldiers might have cut down the trees, but the copse was still there. He crawled through the bushes, reached the fence, and stood up.
He hesitated. He could back out at this point, and he would have broken no law. He could return to Kirstenslot and concentrate on his new job, spending his evenings in the tavern and his nights dreaming of Karen. He could take the attitude that war and politics were none of his concern, as many Danes did. But even as he contemplated that line, he was revolted. He imagined himself explaining his decision to Arne and Karen, or Uncle Joachim and cousin Monika, and he felt ashamed just for thinking about it.
The fence was unchanged, six feet of chicken wire topped by two strands of barbed wire. Harald swung his satchel around to his back, to keep it out of the way, then climbed the fence, stepped gingerly over the barbed wire, and jumped down the other side.
Now he was committed. He was inside a military base with a camera. If they caught him, they would kill him.
He walked quickly forward, treading softly, keeping close to bushes and trees, looking around constantly. He passed the searchlight tower, and thought with trepidation how utterly exposed he would be if someone decided to switch on the powerful beams. He listened hard for patrolling footsteps, but heard only the constant hushing urged by the waves. After a few minutes he descended a gentle slope and entered a stand of conifers which provided him with good cover. He wondered for a moment why the soldiers had not thought of chopping down the trees, for better security; then he realized that they served to conceal the secret radio equipment from prying eyes.
A moment later he reached his destination. Now that he knew what he was looking for, he could see quite clearly the circular wall and the big rectangular grid rising from its hollow core, the aerial slowly rotating, like a mechanical eye scanning the dark horizon. He heard again the low hum of the electric motor. On either side of the structure he could make out the two smaller shapes, and now in the starlight he saw that they were miniature versions of the big rotating aerial.
So there were three machines. He wondered why. Might that somehow explain the remarkable superiority of German radar? Looking more closely at the smaller aerials, he thought they were constructed differently. He would need to look again in daylight, but it seemed to him they might tilt as well as rotate. Why would that be? He must make sure to get good photographs of all three pieces of apparatus.
The first time he was here, he had jumped over the circular wall in a fright, after hearing a guard cough nearby. Now that he had time to think, he felt sure there must be an easier way in. The walls were needed to protect the equipment from accidental damage, but engineers surely needed to get inside for maintenance. He walked around the circle, peering at the brickwork in the dim light, and came across a wooden door. It was not locked, and he passed through, quietly closing it behind him.
He felt a little safer. No one could see him from outside. Engineers would not do maintenance at this time of night except in an emergency. If someone did come in, he might just have time to leap over the wall before he was spotted.
He looked up at the great revolving grid. It must pick up radio beams reflected off aircraft, he guessed. The aerial must act like a lens, focusing the signals received. The cable protruding from the base carried the data back to the new buildings Harald had helped to construct last summer. There, presumably, monitors displayed the results, and operators stood ready to alert the Luftwaffe.
In the half-dark, with the humming machinery looming over him and the ozone smell of electricity in his nostrils, he felt he was inside the beating heart of the war machine. The struggle between the scientists and engineers on both sides could be as important as the battlefield clash of tanks and machine guns. And he had become part of it.
He heard an aircraft. There was no moon, so it was not likely to be a bomber. It might be a German fighter on a local flight, or a civilian transport that had got lost. He wondered if the big aerial had detected its approach an hour ago. He wondered whether the smaller aerials were pointed at it. He decided to step outside and take a look.
One of the smaller aerials faced the sea, in the direction from which the aircraft was approaching. The other pointed inland. Both were tilted at angles different from previously, he thought. As the aircraft roared closer, he noticed the first aerial tilt more, as if following it. The other continued to move, though in response to what he could not figure.
The aircraft crossed Sande and headed inland, the aerial dish continuing to follow it until after its sound died away to nothing. Harald returned to his hiding place inside the circular wall, musing on what he had seen.
The sky was turning from black to gray. At this time of year, dawn broke before three o’clock. In another hour, the sun would rise.
He took the camera out of his satchel. Arne had shown him how to use it. As daylight strengthened, he moved quietly around inside the wall, figuring out the best angles for photographs that would reveal every detail of the machinery.
He and Arne had agreed he would take the shots at about a quarter to five. The sun would be up, but it would not be shining over the wall into the installation. Sunshine was not necessary-the film in the camera was sensitive enough to record details without it.
As time went by, Harald’s thoughts turned anxiously to escape. He had arrived at night, and entered the base cloaked by darkness, but he could not wait until tomorrow night before leaving. It was almost certain that an engineer would routinely inspect the equipment at least once during the course of a day, even if nothing went wrong. So Harald had to get away as soon as he had taken the photos-when it would be full daylight. His departure would be a lot more dangerous than his arrival.
He considered which way to go. To the south of where he was, in the direction of his parents’ home, the fence was only a couple of hundred yards away, but the route lay across open dunes without trees or bushes. Going north, retracing his steps, under cover of vegetation much of the way, would take longer but might be safer.
He wondered how he would face a firing squad. Would he be calm and proud, keeping his terror under control, or would he break and turn into a gibbering fool, pleading for mercy and wetting himself?
He forced himself to wait calmly. The light grew stronger and the minute hand crawled around the face of his watch. He heard no new sounds from outside. A soldier’s day started early, but he was hoping there would not be much activity before six o’clock-by which time he would be gone.
At last it was time to take the pictures. The sky was cloudless and there was a clear morning light. He could see every rivet and terminal of the complex piece of machinery in front of him. Focusing the lens carefully, he photographed the revolving base of the apparatus, the cables, and the grid of the aerial. He unfolded a yard rule from the monastery tool rack and placed it in some of the pictures to show scale-his own bright idea.
Next he had to go outside the wall.
He hesitated. In here he felt safe. But he had to have pictures of the two smaller aerials.
He cracked the door. All was still. He could tell, by the sound of the surf, that the tide was coming in. The base was bathed in the watery light of a seaside morning. There was no sign of life. It was the hour when men sleep heavily, and even dogs have dreams.
He took careful shots of the two smaller aerials, which were protected only by low walls. Thinking about their function, he realized that one of them had been tracking an aircraft that was within visual range. The whole point of this apparatus was to detect bombers before they came into sight, he had thought. Presumably the second small aerial was tracking another aircraft.
Snapping photographs, he turned the puzzle over in his mind. How could three devices work together to increase the kill rate of Luftwaffe fighters? Perhaps the large aerial gave advance warning of a bomber’s approach and the smaller one tracked the bomber within German airspace. But then what did the second smaller aerial do?
It occurred to him that there would be another aircraft in the sky-the fighter that had been scrambled to attack the bomber. Could the second aerial be used by the Luftwaffe to track their own aircraft? It seemed crazy, but as he stepped back to photograph the three aerials together, showing their placement relative to one another, he realized it made perfect sense. If a Luftwaffe controller knew the positions of the bomber and the fighter, he could direct the fighter by radio until it made contact with the bomber.
He began to see how the Luftwaffe might be working. The large aerial gave advance warning of a raid so that the fighters could be scrambled in time. One of the smaller aerials picked up a bomber as it came closer. The other tracked a fighter, enabling the controller to direct the pilot precisely to the bomber’s location. After that, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
That thought made Harald realize how exposed he was: standing upright, in full daylight, in the middle of a military base, photographing top secret equipment. Panic surged through his veins like poison. He tried to calm himself and take the last few photos he had planned, showing the three aerials from different angles, but he was too terrified. He had taken at least twenty shots. It must be enough, he told himself.
He thrust the camera into his satchel and started walking quickly away. Forgetting his resolution to take the longer but safer route north, he headed south, across the open dunes. In that direction the fence was visible, just beyond the old boathouse he had bumped into last time. Today he would pass it on the seaward side, and it would hide him from sight for a few paces.
As he approached it, a dog barked.
He looked around wildly but saw no soldiers and no dog. Then he realized the sound had come from the boathouse. The soldiers must be using the derelict building as a kennel. A second dog joined the barking.
Harald broke into a run.
The dogs excited one another, more joined in, and the noise became hysterically loud. Harald reached the building then turned seaward, trying to keep the boathouse between himself and the main buildings while he sprinted for the fence. Fear gave him speed. Every second he expected a shot to ring out.
He reached the fence, not knowing whether he had been seen or not. He climbed it like a monkey and vaulted over the barbed wire at the top. He came down hard on the other side, splashing in shallow water. He scrambled to his feet and glanced back through the fence. Beyond the boathouse, partly obscured by trees and bushes, he could see the main buildings, but no soldiers were in view. He turned away and ran. He stayed in the shallow water for a hundred yards, so that the dogs could not follow his scent, then he turned inland. He left shallow footprints in the hard sand, but he knew the fast-moving tide would cover them in a minute or two. He reached the dunes, where he left no visible trace.
A few minutes later he came to the dirt road. He glanced back and saw no one following. Breathing hard, he headed for the parsonage. He ran past the church to the kitchen door.
It was open. His parents were always up early.
He stepped inside. His mother was at the stove, wearing a dressing gown, making tea. When she saw him she gave a cry of shock and dropped the earthenware teapot. It hit the tiled floor and the spout broke off. Harald picked up the two pieces. “I’m sorry to startle you,” he said.
He kissed her cheek and hugged her. “Is my father at home?”
“In the church. There wasn’t time to tidy up last night, so he’s gone to straighten the chairs.”
“What happened last night?” There was no service on a Monday evening.
“The board of deacons met to discuss your case. They’re going to read you out next Sunday.”
“The revenge of the Flemmings.” Harald found it strange that he had once thought that sort of thing important.
By now, guards would have gone to find out what had disturbed the dogs. If they were thorough, they might check nearby houses, and look for a fugitive in sheds and barns. “Mother,” he said, “if the soldiers come here, will you tell them I’ve been in bed all night?”
“Whatever has happened?” she said fearfully.
“I’ll explain later.” It would be more natural if he were in bed, he thought. “Tell them I’m still asleep-will you?”
He left the kitchen and went upstairs to his bedroom. He slung his satchel over the back of the chair. He took the camera out and put it in a drawer. He thought of hiding it, but there was no time, and a hidden camera was proof of guilt. He shed his clothes quickly, put on his pajamas, and got into bed.
He heard his father’s voice in the kitchen. He got out of bed and went to the top of the stairs to listen.
“What’s he doing here?” the pastor said.
His mother replied, “Hiding from the soldiers.”
“For goodness’ sake, what has the boy got himself into now?”
“I don’t know, but-”
His mother was interrupted by a loud knocking. A young man’s voice said in German, “Good morning. We’re looking for someone. Have you seen a stranger at any time in the last few hours?”
“No, nobody at all.” The nervousness in his mother’s voice was so evident that the soldier must have noticed it-but perhaps he was used to people being frightened of him.
“How about you, sir?”
His father said firmly, “No.”
“Is there anyone else here?”
Harald’s mother replied, “My son. He’s still asleep.”
“I need to search the house.” The voice was polite, but it was making a statement, not asking permission.
“I’ll show you around,” said the pastor.
Harald returned to his bed, heart thudding. He heard booted footsteps on the tiled floors downstairs, and doors opening and closing. Then the boots came up the wooden staircase. They entered his parents’ bedroom, then Arne’s old room, and finally approached Harald’s. He heard the handle of his door turn.
He closed his eyes, feigning sleep, and tried to make his breathing slow and even.
The German voice said quietly, “Your son.”
There was a pause.
“Has he been here all night?”
Harald held his breath. He had never known his father to tell even a white lie.
Then he heard, “Yes. All night.”
He was flabbergasted. His father had lied for him. The hard-hearted, stiff-necked, self-righteous old tyrant had broken his own rules. He was human after all. Harald felt tears behind his closed eyelids.
The boots receded along the passage and down the stairs, and Harald heard the soldier take his leave. He got out of bed and went to the top of the stairs.
“You can come down now,” his father said. “He’s gone.”
He went down. His father looked solemn. “Thank you for that, Father,” Harald said.
“I committed a sin,” his father said. For a moment, Harald thought he was going to be angry. Then the old face softened. “However, I believe in a forgiving God.”
Harald realized the agony of conflict his father had been through in the last few minutes, but he did not know how to say that he understood. The only thing he could think of was to shake hands. He held out his hand.
His father looked at it, then took it. He drew Harald to him and put his left arm around Harald’s shoulders. He closed his eyes, struggling to contain a profound emotion. When he spoke, the resonant boom of the preacher had gone from his voice, and his words came out in a murmur of anguish. “I thought they would kill you,” he said. “My dear son, I thought they would kill you.”
Arne Olufsen had slipped through Peter Flemming’s fingers.
Peter brooded over this as he boiled an egg for Inge’s breakfast. After Arne shook off the surveillance on Bornholm, Peter had said blithely that they would soon pick him up again. Peter’s confidence had been badly misplaced. He believed Arne was not cunning enough to get off the island unobserved-and he had been wrong. He did not yet know how Arne had managed it, but there was no doubt he had returned to Copenhagen, for a uniformed policeman had spotted him in the city center. The patrolman had given chase, but Arne had outrun him-and vanished again.
Some kind of espionage was obviously still going on, as Peter’s boss, Frederik Juel, had pointed out with icy scorn. “Olufsen is apparently performing evasive maneuvers,” he had said.
General Braun had been more blunt. “The killing of Poul Kirke has clearly failed to disable the spy ring,” he had said. There had been no further talk of promoting Peter to head of department. “I shall call in the Gestapo.”
It was so unfair, Peter thought angrily. He had uncovered this spy ring, found the secret message in the airplane chock, arrested the mechanics, raided the synagogue, arrested Ingemar Gammel, raided the flying school, killed Poul Kirke, and flushed out Arne Olufsen. Yet people such as Juel who had done nothing were able to denigrate his achievements and prevent his getting the recognition that was his due.
But he was not finished yet. “I can find Arne Olufsen,” he had said to General Braun last night. Juel had started to object, but Peter had overridden him. “Give me twenty-four hours. If he’s not in custody tomorrow night, call in the Gestapo.”
Braun had agreed.
Arne had not returned to barracks, nor was he with his parents on Sande, so he had to be hiding out at the home of a fellow spy. But they would all be lying low. However, one person who probably knew most of the spies was Karen Duchwitz. She had been Poul’s girlfriend, and her brother was at school with Poul’s cousin. She was not a spy, Peter felt sure, so she had no reason to lie low. She might lead Peter to Arne.
It was a long shot, but it was all he had.
He mashed the soft-boiled egg up with salt and a little butter, then took the tray into the bedroom. He sat Inge up and gave her a spoonful of egg. He got the feeling she did not much like it. He tasted it, and it was fine, so he gave her another spoonful. After a moment she pushed it out of her mouth, like a baby. The egg ran down her chin and onto the bodice of her nightdress.
Peter stared in despair. She had made a mess of herself several times in the past week or two. This was a new development. “Inge would never have done that,” he said.
He put the tray down, left her, and went to the phone. He dialed the hotel on Sande and asked for his father, who was always at work early. When he got through, he said, “You were right. It’s time to put Inge in a home.”
Peter studied the Royal Theatre, a domed nineteenth-century building of yellow stone. Its facade was carved with columns, pilasters, capitals, corbels, wreaths, shields, lyres, masks, cherubs, mermaids, and angels. On the roof were urns, torcheres, and four-legged creatures with wings and human breasts. “It’s a bit overdone,” he said. “Even for a theater.”
Tilde Jespersen laughed.
They were sitting on the verandah of the Hotel d’Angleterre. They had a good view across the Kongens Nytorv, the largest square in Copenhagen. Inside the theater, the students of the ballet school were watching a dress rehearsal of Les Sylphides, the current production. Peter and Tilde were waiting for Karen Duchwitz to come out.
Tilde was pretending to read today’s newspaper. The front-page headline said: “LENINGRAD AFLAME.” Even the Nazis were surprised at how well the Russian campaign was going, saying their success “baffled the imagination.”
Peter was talking to release tension. So far, his plan was a complete failure. Karen had been under surveillance all day and had done nothing but go to school. But fruitless anxiety was debilitating, and led to mistakes, so he tried to relax. He said, “Do you think architects deliberately make theaters and opera houses intimidating, to discourage ordinary people from going in?”
“Do you consider yourself an ordinary person?”
“Of course.” The entrance was flanked by two green statues of sitting figures, larger than life-size. “Who are those two?”
“Holberg and Oehlenschlager.”
He recognized the names. They were both great Danish playwrights. “I don’t much like drama-too many speeches. I’d rather see a movie, something to make me laugh, Buster Keaton or Laurel and Hardy. Did you see the one where these guys are whitewashing a room, and someone comes in carrying a plank on his shoulder?” He chuckled at the recollection. “I nearly fell on the damn floor laughing.”
She gave him one of her enigmatic looks. “Now you have surprised me. I wouldn’t have put you down as a lover of slapstick.”
“What did you imagine I would like?”
“Western movies, where gunplay ensures that justice is triumphant.”
“You’re right, I like those, too. What about you? Do you enjoy theater? Copenhageners approve of culture in theory, but most of them have never been inside that building.”
“I like opera-do you?”
“Well. . the tunes are okay but the stories are silly.”
She smiled. “I’ve never thought of it that way, but you’re right. How about ballet?”
“I don’t really see the point. And the costumes are peculiar. To tell the truth, I find the men’s tights a bit embarrassing.”
She laughed again. “Oh, Peter, you’re so funny, but I like you all the same.”
He had not intended to be amusing, but he accepted the compliment cheerfully. He glanced down at the photograph in his hand. He had taken it from Poul Kirke’s bedroom. It showed Poul sitting on a bicycle with Karen perched on the crossbar. They were both wearing shorts. Karen had wonderful long legs. They looked such a happy couple, full of energy and fun, that for a moment Peter felt sad that Poul had died. He had to remind himself sternly that Poul had chosen to be a spy and to flout the law.
The purpose of the photo was to help him identify Karen. She was attractive, with a big smile and masses of curly hair. She seemed the antithesis of Tilde, who had small, neat features in a round face. Some of the men said Tilde was frigid, because she repelled their advances-but I know better, Peter thought.
They had not talked about the fiasco in the hotel on Bornholm. Peter was too embarrassed to raise it. He was not going to apologize-that would just be further humiliation. But a plan was forming in his mind, something so dramatic he preferred to think about it only vaguely.
“Here she comes,” said Tilde.
Peter looked across the square and saw a group of young people emerging from the theater. He picked out Karen immediately. She was wearing a straw boater at a jaunty angle and a mustard yellow summer dress with a flared skirt that danced enticingly around her knees. The black-and-white photograph had not shown her white skin and flaming red hair, nor had it done justice to the spirited air that was obvious to Peter even at a distance. She looked as if she were making an entrance on the stage of the theater, rather than merely walking down the steps outside.
She crossed the square and turned into the main drag, the Stroget.
Peter and Tilde stood up.
“Before we go,” Peter said.
“Will you come to my apartment this evening?”
“Any special reason?”
“Yes, but I’d rather not explain.”
“Thanks.” He said no more, but hurried after Karen. Tilde followed him at a distance, by prearrangement.
The Stroget was a narrow street crowded with shoppers and buses, frequently blocked by illegally parked cars. Double the fines and ticket every car and the problem would go away, Peter felt sure. He kept Karen’s straw hat in sight. He prayed she was not simply heading for home.
At the end of the Stroget was the town hall square. Here the group of students dispersed. Karen walked on with just one of the girls, chatting animatedly. Peter drew closer. They passed the Tivoli Garden and stopped, as if about to part company, but continued their conversation. They looked pretty and carefree in the afternoon sunshine. Peter wondered impatiently how much more two girls could have to say to each other after having spent all day together.
At last Karen’s friend walked toward the main railway station and Karen went the opposite way. Peter’s hopes rose. Did she have a rendezvous with one of the circle of spies? He followed her, but to his dismay she approached Vesterport, a suburban railway station from which she could catch a train to her home village of Kirstenslot.
This was no good. He had only a few hours left. Clearly she was not going to lead him to one of the circle. He would have to force the situation.
He caught up with her at the entrance to the station. “Excuse me,” he said. “I must speak to you.”
She gave him a level look and kept walking. “What is it?” she said with cool politeness.
“Could we talk for just a minute?”
She passed through the entrance and started down the steps to the platform. “We’re talking.”
He pretended to be nervous. “I’m taking a terrible risk just speaking to you.”
That got to her. She stopped on the platform and glanced around nervously. “What’s this about?”
She had wonderful eyes, he noticed: a striking clear green. “It’s about Arne Olufsen.” He saw fear in those eyes, and was gratified. His instinct had been right. She knew something.
“What about him?” She managed to keep her voice low and even.
“Aren’t you a friend of his?”
“No. I’ve met him-I used to go out with a friend of his. But I don’t really know him. Why are you asking me?”
“Do you know where he is?”
She spoke firmly, and he thought with dismay that she looked as if she was telling the truth.
But he was not yet ready to give up. “Could you get a message to him?”
She hesitated, and Peter’s heart leaped with hope. He guessed she was wondering whether to lie or not. “Possibly,” she said after a moment. “I can’t be sure. What sort of message?”
“I’m with the police.”
She took a frightened step back.
“It’s all right, I’m on your side.” He could tell that she did not know whether to believe him. “I’m nothing to do with the Security Department, I do road accidents. But our office is next to theirs, and sometimes I hear what’s going on.”
“What have you heard?”
“Arne is in great danger. The Security Department know where he’s hiding.”
Peter noted that she did not ask what the Security Department was, or what crime Arne was supposed to have committed, and she showed no surprise about his being in hiding. She must therefore know what Arne was up to, he concluded with a sense of triumph.
On that basis, he could arrest and interrogate her. But he had a better plan. He put a note of dramatic urgency into his voice. “They’re going to arrest him tonight.”
“If you know how to reach Arne, please, for God’s sake, try to get a warning to him in the next hour.”
“I don’t think-”
“I can’t risk being seen with you. I have to go. I’m sorry. Do your best.” He turned and walked rapidly away.
At the top of the steps he passed Tilde, who was pretending to read a timetable. She did not look at him, but he knew she had seen him, and she would now follow Karen.
Across the street, a man in a leather apron was unloading crates of beer from a wagon drawn by two big horses. Peter stepped behind the cart. He took off his trilby hat, stuffed it inside his jacket, and replaced it with a peaked cap. He knew from experience that this simple switch effected a remarkable change in his appearance. It would not defy careful scrutiny, but at a casual glance he looked like a different person.
Standing half concealed by the wagon, he watched the station entrance. After a few moments, Karen came out.
Tilde was a few paces behind her.
Peter followed Tilde. They turned a corner and walked along the street that lay between the Tivoli and the main railway station. On the next block, Karen turned in to the main post office, a grand classical building of redbrick and gray stone. Tilde followed her in.
She was going to make a phone call, Peter thought with exhilaration. He ran to the staff entrance. He showed his police badge to the first person he met, a young woman, and said, “Bring the duty manager, quick.”
A few moments later, a stooped man in a well-worn black suit appeared. “How may I help you?”
“A young woman in a yellow dress has just entered the main hall,” Peter told him. “I don’t want her to see me, but I need to know what she does.”
The manager looked thrilled. This was probably the most exciting thing that had ever happened in the post office, Peter thought. “My goodness,” said the man. “You’d better come with me.”
He hurried along a corridor and opened a door. Peter could see a counter with a row of stools facing small windows. The manager stepped through the door. “I think I see her,” he said. “Curly red hair and a straw hat?”
“That’s the one.”
“I’d never have guessed she was a criminal.”
“What is she doing?”
“Looking in the telephone directory. Amazing that someone so pretty-”
“If she makes a call, I need to listen.”
The manager hesitated.
Peter had no right to listen to private phone calls without a warrant-but he was hoping the manager would not know that. “It’s very important,” he said.
“I’m not sure I can-”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take responsibility.”
“She’s putting the phone book down.”
Peter was not going to let Karen phone Arne without listening in. If necessary he would pull his gun and threaten this dozy post office clerk, he decided. “I must insist.”
“We have rules here.”
“Ah!” said the manager. “She’s put the book down, but she’s not coming to the counter.” His face cleared with relief. “She’s leaving!”
Peter cursed with frustration and ran for the exit.
He cracked the door and peeped out. He saw Karen crossing the road. He waited until Tilde emerged, following Karen. Then he tagged along.
He was disappointed, but not defeated. Karen knew the name of someone who could get in touch with Arne. She had looked that name up in the phone book. Why the hell had she not phoned the person? Perhaps she feared-rightly-that the conversation might be overheard by police or German security staff doing routine surveillance.
Still, if she had not wanted the phone number, she must have been looking for the address. And now, if Peter’s luck was in, she was heading for that address.
He let Karen get out of sight but kept Tilde in view. Walking behind Tilde was always a pleasure. It was good to have an excuse to watch her rounded rear. Did she know he was staring at her? Was she exaggerating the sway of her hips deliberately? He had no idea. Who could tell what was in a woman’s mind?
They crossed to the small island of Christiansborg and followed the waterfront, with the harbor on their right and the ancient buildings of the government island on their left. The sun-warmed air of the city was refreshed here by a salty breeze from the Baltic Sea. The broad channel of water was lined by freighters, fishing boats, ferries, and ships of the Danish and German navies. Two young sailors fell in behind Tilde and cheerfully tried to pick her up, but she spoke sharply to them and they peeled off immediately.
Karen walked as far as the palace of Amalienborg, then turned inland. Following Tilde, Peter crossed the wide square formed by the four rococo mansions where the royal family lived. From there they headed into Nyboder, a neighborhood of small houses originally built as cheap accommodation for sailors.
They entered a street called St. Paul’s Gade. Peter could see Karen in the distance, looking at a row of yellow houses with red roofs, apparently searching for a number. He had a strong, exciting feeling of being close to his quarry.
Karen paused and looked up and down the street, as if checking whether she was observed. It was far too late for that, of course, but she was an amateur. In any case, she did not appear to register Tilde, and Peter was too far away to be recognized.
She knocked on a door.
As Peter caught up with Tilde, the door opened. He could not see who was there. Karen said something and stepped inside, and the door closed. It was number fifty-three, Peter noted.
Tilde said, “Do you think Arne is in there?”
“Either him, or someone who knows where he is.”
“What do you want to do?”
“Wait.” He looked up and down the street. On the opposite side was a corner shop. “Over there.” They crossed the road and stood looking in the window. Peter lit a cigarette.
Tilde said, “The shop probably has a phone. Should we call headquarters? We might as well go in in force. We don’t know how many spies might be in there.”
Peter considered summoning reinforcements. “Not yet,” he said. “We’re not sure what’s happening. Let’s see how this develops.”
Tilde nodded. She removed her sky blue beret and put a nondescript patterned scarf over her head. Peter watched her tuck the curls of her fair hair under the scarf. She would look somewhat different when Karen came out of the house, so that Karen was less likely to notice her.
Tilde took the cigarette from Peter’s fingers, put it to her own mouth, drew in smoke, and handed the cigarette back. It was an intimate gesture, and he felt almost as if she had kissed him. He sensed that he was blushing, and looked away, toward number fifty-three.
The door opened and Karen came out.
“Look,” he said, and Tilde followed his gaze.
The door closed behind Karen and she walked away alone.
“Damn,” Peter said.
“What do we do now?” Tilde asked.
Peter thought fast. Suppose Arne was inside the little yellow house. Then Peter needed to summon reinforcements, bust into the house, and arrest him and anyone with him. On the other hand, Arne might be somewhere else, and Karen could be on her way there-in which case Peter needed to follow her.
Or she might have failed in her quest and decided to give up and go home.
He made a decision. “We’ll split up,” he told Tilde. “You follow Karen. I’ll call headquarters and raid that house.”
“Okay.” Tilde hurried after Karen.
Peter went into the shop. It was a general store, selling vegetables and bread and household necessities such as soap and matches. There were cans of food on the shelves, and the floor was obstructed by bundles of firewood and sacks of potatoes. The place looked dirty but prosperous. He showed his police badge to a gray-haired woman in a stained apron. “Do you have a phone?”
“I’ll have to charge you.”
He fumbled in his pocket for change. “Where is it?” he said impatiently. She jerked her head toward a curtain at the back. “Through there.”
He threw some coins on the counter and passed into a small parlor that smelled of cats. He snatched up the phone, called the Politigaarden, and got Conrad. “I think I may have found Arne’s hideout. Number fifty-three St. Paul’s Gade. Get Dresler and Ellegard and come here in a car as fast as you can.”
“Right away,” said Conrad.
Peter hung up and hurried outside. He had been less than a minute. If anyone had left the house during that time, they should still be visible on the street. He looked up and down. He saw an old man in a collarless shirt walking an arthritic dog, the two of them moving with painful slowness. A lively pony was drawing a flatbed cart carrying a sofa with holes in the leather upholstery. A group of boys were playing football in the road, using an old tennis ball worn bald with use. There was no sign of Arne. He crossed the street.
Indulging himself for a moment, he thought how satisfying it would be to arrest the elder son of the Olufsen family. What a revenge that would be for the humiliation of Axel Flemming all those years ago. Coming immediately after the expulsion from school of the younger son, the unmasking of Arne as a spy would surely mean the end of Pastor Olulfsen’s hegemony. How could he strut and preach when both his sons had gone wrong? He would have to resign.
Peter’s father would be pleased.
The door of number fifty-three opened. Peter reached under his jacket and touched the grip of his gun in its shoulder holster as Arne stepped out of the house.
Peter was filled with elation. Arne had shaved off his moustache and covered his black hair with a workman’s cap, but Peter had known him all his life, and recognized him immediately.
After a moment, triumph was replaced by caution. There was often trouble when a lone officer tried to make an arrest. The possibility of escape looked tempting to the suspect who was up against only one cop. Being a plainclothes detective, lacking the authority of a uniform, made it worse. If there was a fight, passers-by had no way of knowing that one of the two was an officer, and might even intervene on the wrong side.
Peter and Arne had fought once before, twelve years ago, at the time of the quarrel between their families. Peter was bigger, but Arne was fit and strong from all the sports he did. There was no clear result. They had traded several blows then been separated. Today Peter had a gun. But perhaps Arne did, too.
Arne slammed the house door and turned onto the street, walking toward Peter.
As they came closer, Arne avoided his eye, walking on the inside of the pavement, near the house walls, in the manner of a fugitive. Peter walked on the curbside, furtively watching Arne’s face.
When they were ten yards apart, Arne stole a glance at Peter’s face. Peter met his eye, watching his expression. He saw a frown of puzzlement, then recognition, then shock, fear, and panic.
Arne stopped, momentarily frozen.
“You’re under arrest,” Peter said.
Arne partly recovered his composure, and for a moment the familiar careless grin flickered across his face. “Gingerbread Pete,” he said, using a childhood nickname.
Peter saw that Arne was about to make a run for it. He drew his gun. “Lie on the ground facedown with your hands behind your back.”
Arne looked worried rather than frightened. In a moment of insight, Peter saw that it was not the gun Arne was scared of, but something else.
Arne said in a challenging tone, “Are you ready to shoot me?”
“If necessary,” Peter said. He leveled the gun threateningly, but in truth he was desperate to take Arne alive. Poul Kirke’s death had dead-ended the investigation. He wanted to interrogate Arne, not kill him.
Arne smiled enigmatically, then turned and ran.
Peter held his gun arm straight and sighted along the barrel. He aimed at Arne’s legs, but it was impossible to shoot accurately with a pistol, and he knew he might hit any part of Arne’s body, or none. But Arne was getting farther away, and Peter’s chances of stopping him were diminishing with every split second that passed.
Peter pulled the trigger.
Arne kept running.
Peter fired again repeatedly. After the fourth shot, Arne seemed to stagger. Peter fired again, and Arne fell, hitting the ground with the heavy thud of a dead weight, rolling onto his back.
“Oh, Christ, no, not again,” Peter said.
He ran forward, still pointing the gun at Arne.
The figure on the ground lay still.
Peter knelt beside it.
Arne opened his eyes. His face was white with pain. “You stupid pig, you should have killed me,” he said.
Tilde came to Peter’s apartment that evening. She was wearing a new pink blouse with flowers embroidered on the cuffs. Pink suited her, Peter thought. It brought out her femininity. The weather was warm, and she seemed to have nothing on under the blouse.
He showed her into the living room. The evening sun shone in, lighting the room with a weird glow, giving a fuzzy edge to the furniture and the pictures on the walls. Inge sat in a chair by the fireplace, gazing into the room with the expressionless look she always wore.
Peter drew Tilde to him and kissed her. She froze for a moment, surprised, then she kissed him back. He stroked her shoulders and her hips.
She pulled back and looked in his face. He could see desire in her eyes, but she was troubled. She glanced at Inge. “Is this all right?” she said.
He touched her hair. “Hush.” He kissed her again, hungrily. They became more passionate. Without breaking the kiss, he unbuttoned her blouse, exposing her soft breasts. He stroked the warm skin.
She pulled away again, breathing hard. Her breasts rose and fell as she panted. “What about her?” she said. “What about Inge?”
Peter looked at his wife. She was regarding the two of them with a blank stare, showing no emotion at all, as always. “There’s no one there,” he told Tilde. “No one there at all.”
She looked into his eyes. Her face showed compassion and understanding mingled with curiosity and lust. “All right,” she said. “All right.”
He bent his head to her naked breasts.
The quiet village of Jansborg was creepy by twilight. The villagers seemed to go to bed early, so the streets were deserted and the houses dark and still. Harald felt as if he were driving through a place where something dreadful had happened, and he was the only person who did not know about it.
He parked the motorcycle outside the railway station. It did not look as conspicuous as he had feared, for next to it was a gas-powered Opel Olympia cabriolet, with a wooden structure like a shed over its rear roof to house the giant fuel bag.
He left the bike and set off to walk to the school in the gathering darkness.
After his escape from the guards on Sande he had got back into his old bed and slept heavily until midday. His mother woke him, fed him a vast lunch of cold pork and potatoes, pushed money into his pocket, and pleaded with him to tell her where he was living. Weakened by her affection and his father’s unexpected mellowing, he had told her he was staying in Kirstenslot. However, he had not mentioned the disused church, for fear she would worry about him sleeping rough, and he had left her with the impression he was a guest at the big house.
Then he had set out to drive across Denmark from west to east again. Now, in the evening of the following day, he was approaching his old school.
He had decided to develop the film before going to Copenhagen to hand it over to Arne, who was hiding out at Jens Toksvig’s house in the Nyboder district. He needed to be sure that his photography had been successful, and there were clear images on the roll. Cameras could go wrong, and photographers made mistakes. He did not want Arne to risk his life traveling to England with a film that turned out to be blank. The school had its own darkroom, with all the chemicals necessary for processing. Tik Duchwitz was secretary of the Camera Club, and had a key.
Harald avoided the main gates and cut across the neighboring farm to enter the school via the stables. It was ten o’clock. The younger boys were already in bed, and the middle school was getting undressed. Only the seniors were still about, and most of them were in their study-bedrooms. It was graduation day tomorrow, and they would be packing for home.
Threading through the familiar cluster of buildings, Harald fought the temptation to skulk furtively along walls and dash across open spaces. If he walked naturally and confidently he would appear, to the casual glance, to be a senior boy heading for his room. He was surprised at how difficult it was to fake an identity that had been genuinely his only ten days ago.
He saw no one on his way to the Red House, the building where Tik and Mads had their rooms. There was no way he could conceal himself as he climbed the stairs to the top floor: if he met someone, he would be recognized instantly. But his luck held. The upper corridor was deserted. He hurried past the rooms of the housemaster, Mr. Moller. He quietly opened Tik’s door and stepped inside.
Tik was sitting on the lid of his suitcase, trying to close it. “You!” he said. “Good God!”
Harald sat beside him and helped him snap the catches closed. “Looking forward to going home?”
“No such luck,” Tik said. “I’m being exiled to Aarhus. I’ve got to spend the summer working in a branch of the family bank. It’s my punishment for going to that jazz club with you.”
“Oh.” Harald had been looking forward to having Tik’s company at Kirstenslot, but now he decided there was no need to mention that he was living there.
“What are you doing here?” Tik asked when they had the suitcase shut and strapped.
“I need your help.”
Tik grinned. “What now?”
Harald took the small roll of thirty-five millimeter film from his trousers pocket. “I want to develop this.”
“Why can’t you take it to a shop?”
“Because I would be arrested.”
Tik’s grin faded and he became solemn. “You’re involved in a conspiracy against the Nazis.”
“Something like that.”
“You’re in danger.”
There was a tap at the door.
Harald dropped to the floor and slid under the bed.
Tik said, “Yes?”
Harald heard the door opening, then Moller’s voice saying, “Lights out, please, Duchwitz.”
“Good night, sir.”
The door closed, and Harald rolled out from under the bed.
They listened while Moller progressed along the corridor, saying good night to each boy. They heard his footsteps returning to his own rooms, then his door closing. They knew he would not reappear until morning, unless there should be an emergency.
Keeping his voice low, Harald said to Tik, “Have you still got the key to the darkroom?”
“Yes, but first we’d have to get into the labs.” The science building was locked at night.
“We can break a window at the back.”
“When they see the smashed glass, they’ll know someone broke in.”
“What do you care? You’re leaving tomorrow!”
They took off their shoes and crept out into the corridor. They went down the stairs silently and put their shoes back on when they reached the door. Then they stepped outside.
It was now after eleven, and night had fallen. At this hour, no one would normally be moving about the grounds, so they had to take care not to be seen from a window. Fortunately there was no moon. They hurried away from the Red House, their footsteps muffled by grass. As they reached the church Harald glanced back, and saw a light in one of the senior rooms. A figure crossed the window and paused. A split second later, Harald and Tik had turned the corner of the church.
“I think we might have been seen,” Harald whispered. “There’s a light on in the Red House.”
“Staff bedrooms all look out onto the back,” Tik pointed out. “If we were seen by someone, it must have been a boy. Nothing to worry about.”
Harald hoped he was right.
They circled the library and approached the science building from the rear. Although new, it had been designed to match the older structures around, so it had redbrick walls and composite casement windows each made up of six panes of glass.
Harald took off a shoe and tapped a window with its heel. It seemed quite strong. “When you’re playing football, glass is so fragile,” he murmured. He put his hand inside the shoe and hit the pane hard. It broke with a noise like the last trump. The two boys stood still, aghast at how loud it had been; but silence descended as if nothing had happened. There was no one in the nearby buildings-the church, the library, and the gymnasium-and, when Harald’s heartbeat quietened, he realized that the smash had gone unheard.
He used his shoe to knock out the jagged edges from the frame. They fell inside onto a laboratory bench. He put his arm through and unlatched the window. Still using the shoe to protect his hand from cuts, he reached inside and swept the shards to one side. Then he climbed in.
Tik followed, and they closed the window behind them.
They were in the chemistry lab. Astringent smells of acids and ammonia stung Harald’s nostrils. He could see almost nothing, but the room was familiar, and he made his way to the door without crashing into anything. He passed into the corridor and found the door to the darkroom.
Once they were both inside, Tik locked the door and switched on the light. Harald realized that, as no light could get into the darkroom, none could escape either.
Tik rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He ran warm water into a sink and busied himself with chemicals from a row of jars. He took the temperature of the water in the sink and added hot until he was satisfied. Harald understood the principles, but had never tried to do this himself, so he had to trust his friend.
What if something had gone wrong-the shutter had not operated properly, or the film had been fogged, or the image was blurred? The pictures would be useless. Did he have the nerve to try again? He would have to go back to Sande, climb that fence in the dark, sneak into the installation, wait for sunrise, take more pictures, then attempt to escape in daylight, all over again. He was not sure he could summon up the strength of will.
When all was ready, Tik set a timer and turned off the light. Harald sat patiently in the dark while Tik unrolled the exposed film and began the process that would develop the pictures-if there were any pictures. He explained that he was bathing the film first in pyrogallol, which would react with the silver salts to form a visible image. They sat and waited until the clockwork timer rang its bell, then Tik washed the film in acetic acid to stop the reaction. Finally he bathed it in hypo to fix the image.
At last he said, “That should do it.”
Harald held his breath.
Tik turned on the light. Harald was dazzled for a few moments, and could not see anything. When his vision cleared, he peered at the length of grayish film in Tik’s hands. Harald had risked his life for this. Tik held it up to the light. At first Harald could not make out any images, and he thought he would have to do it all again. Then he remembered he was looking at a negative, on which black appeared white and vice versa; and he began to make out the shapes. He saw a reverse image of the large rectangular aerial that had so intrigued him when he first saw it four weeks ago.
He had succeeded.
He looked along the row of images and recognized each one: the rotating base, the clustered cables, the grid taken from several angles, two smaller machines with their tilting aerials, and finally the last picture, a general view of all three structures, taken when he was on the edge of panic. “They came out!” he said triumphantly. “They’re great!”
Tik looked pale. “What are these pictures of?” he said in a frightened voice.
“Some new machinery the Germans have invented for detecting approaching aircraft.”
“I wish I hadn’t asked. Do you realize what the punishment is for what we’re doing?”
“I took the pictures.”
“And I developed the film. God in heaven, I could be hanged.”
“I told you it was this kind of thing.”
“I know, but I didn’t really think it through.”
Tik rolled the film and put it in its cylindrical container. “Here, take it,” he said. “I’m going back to bed to forget that this ever happened.”
Harald put the canister in his trousers pocket.
Then they heard voices.
Harald froze, listening. At first he could not make out the words, but he felt sure the sounds came from within the building, not outside. Then he heard the distinctive voice of Heis say, “There doesn’t seem to be anyone here.”
The next voice belonged to a boy. “They definitely came this way, sir.”
Harald frowned at Tik. “Who. .?”
Tik whispered, “It sounds like Woldemar Borr.”
“Of course,” Harald groaned. Borr was the school Nazi. It must have been he who saw them from the window. What bad luck-any other boy would have kept his mouth shut.
Then there was a third voice. “Look, there’s a broken pane in this window.” It was Mr. Moller. “This must be how they got in-whoever they are.”
“I’m sure Harald Olufsen was one of them, sir,” said Borr. He sounded pleased with himself.
Harald said to Tik, “Let’s get out of this darkroom. Maybe we can prevent their learning that we’ve been doing photography.” He flicked off the light, turned the key in the lock, and opened the door.
All the lights were on, and Heis was standing right outside.
“Oh, shit,” said Harald.
Heis was wearing a shirt without a collar: he had obviously been on his way to bed. He looked down his long nose. “So it is you, Olufsen.”
Borr and Mr. Moller appeared behind Heis.
“You’re no longer a pupil at this school, you know,” Heis went on. “It’s my duty to call the police and have you arrested for burglary.”
Harald suffered a moment of panic. If the police found the film in his pocket, he would be finished.
“And Duchwitz is with you-I might have known,” Heis added, seeing Tik behind Harald. “But what on earth are you doing?”
Harald had to persuade Heis not to call the police-but he could not explain in front of Borr. He said, “Sir, if I could speak to you alone?”
Harald decided that if Heis refused, and called the police, he would not surrender gracefully. He would make a run for it. But how far would he get? “Please, sir,” he said. “Give me a chance to explain.”
“Very well,” Heis said reluctantly. “Borr, go back to bed. And you, Duchwitz. Mr. Moller, perhaps you’d better see them to their rooms.” They all departed.
Heis walked into the chemistry lab, sat on a stool, and took out his pipe. “All right, Olufsen,” he said. “What is it this time?”
Harald wondered what to say. He could not think of a plausible lie, but he feared the truth would be more incredible than anything he might invent. In the end he simply took the little cylinder out of his pocket and gave it to Heis.
Heis took out the roll of film and held it up to the light. “This looks like some kind of newfangled radio installation,” he said. “Is it military?”
“Do you know what it does?”
“It tracks aircraft by radio beams, I think.”
“So that’s how they’re doing it. The Luftwaffe claim they’ve been shooting down RAF bombers like flies. This explains it.”
“I believe they track the bomber and the fighter that has been sent to intercept it, so that the controller can direct the fighter precisely.”
Heis looked over his glasses. “My God. Do you realize how important this is?”
“I think so.”
“There’s only one way the British can help the Russians, and that’s by forcing Hitler to bring aircraft back from the Russian front to defend Germany from air raids.”
Heis was ex-army, and military thinking came naturally to him. Harald said, “I’m not sure I see what you’re getting at.”
“Well, the strategy won’t work while the Germans can shoot bombers down easily. But if the British find out how it’s done, they can devise countermeasures.” Heis looked around. “There must be an almanac here somewhere.”
Harald did not see why he needed an almanac, but he knew where it was. “In the physics office.”
“Go and get it.” Heis put the film down on the laboratory bench and lit his pipe while Harald stepped into the next room, found the almanac on the bookshelf, and brought it back. Heis flipped through the pages. “The next full moon is on the eighth of July. I’d bet there will be a big bombing raid that night. It’s twelve days away. Can you get this film to England by then?”
“It’s someone else’s job.”
“Good luck to him. Olufsen, do you know how much danger you’re in?”
“The penalty for spying is death.”
“You always had guts, I’ll give you that.” He handed back the film. “Is there anything you need? Food, money, petrol?”
Heis stood up. “I’ll see you off the premises.”
They went out by the main door. The night air cooled the perspiration on Harald’s forehead. They walked side by side along the road to the gate. “I don’t know what I’m going to tell Moller,” said Heis.
“If I might make a suggestion?”
“By all means.”
“You could say we were developing dirty pictures.”
“Good idea. They’ll all believe that.”
They reached the gate, and Heis shook Harald’s hand. “For God’s sake, be careful, boy,” said the head.
Harald walked away in the direction of the village.
When he reached the bend in the road, he looked back. Heis was still at the gate, watching him. Harald waved, and Heis waved back. Then Harald walked on.
He crawled under a bush and slept until sunrise, then retrieved his motorcycle and drove into Copenhagen.
He felt good as he steered through the outskirts of the city in the morning sunshine. He had suffered some close shaves, but in the end he had done what he promised. He was going to enjoy handing over the film. Arne would be impressed. Then Harald’s job would be done, and it would be up to Arne to get the pictures to Britain.
After seeing Arne, he would drive back to Kirstenslot. He would have to beg Farmer Nielsen for his job back. He had only worked one day before disappearing for the rest of the week. Nielsen would be annoyed-but he might need Harald’s services badly enough to hire him again.
Being at Kirstenslot would mean seeing Karen. He looked forward eagerly to that. She was not interested in him romantically, and she never would be, but she seemed to like him. For his part, he was content to talk to her. The idea of kissing her was too remote even to wish for.
He made his way to Nyboder. Arne had given Harald the address of Jens Toksvig. St. Paul’s Gade was a narrow street of small terraced houses. There were no front gardens: the doors opened directly onto the pavement. Harald parked the bike outside fifty-three and knocked.
It was answered by a uniformed policeman.
For a moment, Harald was struck dumb. Where was Arne? He must have been arrested-
“What is it, lad?” the policeman said impatiently. He was a middle-aged man with a gray moustache and sergeant’s stripes on his sleeve.
Harald was inspired. Displaying a panic that was all too real, he said, “Where’s the doctor, he must come right away, she’s having the baby now!”
The policeman smiled. The terrified father-to-be was a perennial figure of comedy. “There’s no doctor here, lad.”
“But there must be!”
“Calm down, son. There were babies before there were doctors. Now, what address have you got?”
“Dr. Thorsen, fifty-three Fischer’s Gade, he must be here!”
“Right number, wrong street. This is St. Paul’s Gade. Fischer’s Gade is one block south.”
“Oh, my God, the wrong street!” Harald turned away and jumped onto the bike. “Thank you!” he shouted. He opened the steam regulator and pulled away.
“All part of the job,” the policeman said.
Harald drove to the end of the street and turned the corner.
Very clever, he thought, but what the hell do I do now?
Hermia spent all Friday morning in the beautiful ruin of Hammershus castle, waiting for Arne to arrive with the vital film.
It was now even more important than it had been five days ago, when she had sent him on the mission. In the interim, the world had changed. The Nazis were set fair to conquer the Soviet Union. They had already taken the key fortress of Brest. Their total air superiority was devastating the Red Army.
Digby had told her, in a few grim sentences, of his conversation with Churchill. Bomber Command would commit every plane it could get off the ground to the biggest air raid of the war, in a desperate attempt to draw Luftwaffe strength away from the Russian front and give the Soviet soldiers a chance to fight back. That raid was now eleven days away.
Digby had also talked to his brother, Bartlett, who was fit again, back on active service, and certain to be piloting one of the bombers.
The raid would be a suicide mission, and Bomber Command would be fatally weakened, unless they could develop tactics for evading German radar in the next few days. And that depended on Arne.
Hermia had persuaded her Swedish fisherman to bring her across the water again-although he had warned her that this would be the last time, as he felt it dangerous to fall into a pattern. At dawn she had splashed through the shallows, carrying her bike, onto the beach below Hammershus. She had climbed the steep hill to the castle, where she stood on the ramparts, like a medieval queen, and watched the sun rise on a world that was increasingly ruled by the strutting, shouting, hate-filled Nazis she so loathed.
During the day she moved, every half hour or so, from one part of the ruins to another, or strolled through the woods, or descended to the beach, just so that it would not be obvious to tourists that she was waiting to meet someone. She suffered a combination of terrible tension and yawn-making boredom that she found strangely wearying.
She diverted herself by recalling their last meeting. The memory was sweet. She was shocked at herself for making love to Arne right there on the grass in broad daylight. But she did not regret it. She would remember that all her life.
She expected him on the overnight ferry. The distance from the harbor at Ronne to the castle of Hammershus was only about fifteen miles. Arne could bike it in an hour or walk it in three. However, he did not show up during the morning.
This made her anxious, but she told herself not to worry. The same thing had happened last time: he had missed the overnight boat and taken the morning sailing. She assumed he would arrive this evening.
Last time she had sat tight and waited for him, and he had not shown up until the following morning. Now she was too impatient for that. When she felt sure he could not have come on the overnight ferry, she decided to cycle to Ronne.
She felt increasingly nervous as she passed from the lonely country roads into the more populous streets of the little town. She told herself this was safer-she was more conspicuous in the countryside and could lose herself in the town-but it felt the opposite. She saw suspicion in everyone’s eyes, not just policemen and soldiers but shopkeepers in their doorways, carters leading horses, old men smoking on benches, and dockers drinking tea on the quay. She walked around the town for a while, trying not to meet anyone’s eye, then went into a hotel on the harbor and ate a sandwich. When the ferry docked, she stood with a small group of people waiting to meet passengers. As they disembarked she scrutinized every face, expecting Arne to be in some kind of disguise.
It took a few minutes for them all to come ashore. When the flow stopped, and passengers started boarding for the return journey, Hermia realized Arne was not on the boat.
She fretted over what to do next. There were a hundred possible explanations for his nonappearance, ranging from the trivial to the tragic. Had he lost his nerve and abandoned the mission? She felt ashamed of such a suspicion, but she had always doubted whether Arne was hero material. He might be dead, of course. But it was most likely he had been held up by something stupid like a delayed train. Unfortunately, he had no way of letting her know.
But, she realized, she might be able to contact him.
She had told him to hide out at Jens Toksvig’s house in the Nyboder district of Copenhagen. Jens had a phone, and Hermia knew the number.
She hesitated. If the police were listening in on Jens’s phone, for any reason, they could trace the call, and then they would know. . what? That something might be going on on Bornholm. That would be bad, but not fatal. The alternative was for her to find overnight accommodation and wait to see whether Arne came in on the next ferry. She did not have the patience for that.
She returned to the hotel and placed the call.
As the operator was putting her through, she wished she had taken more time to plan what to say. Should she ask for Arne? If anyone happened to be listening in, that would give away his whereabouts. No, she would have to speak in riddles, as she had when calling from Stockholm. Jens would probably answer the phone. He would recognize her voice, she thought. If not, she would say, It’s your friend from Bredgade, remember me? Bredgade was the street where the British Embassy had been located when she worked there. That should be enough of a hint for him-though it might also be enough to alert a detective.
Before she had time to think it through, the phone was picked up, and a man’s voice said, “Hello?”
It certainly was not Arne. It might have been Jens, but she had not heard his voice for more than a year.
She said, “Hello.”
“Who is that speaking?” The voice was that of an older man. Jens was twenty-nine.
She said, “Let me speak to Jens Toksvig, please.”
“Who is calling?”
Who the hell was she speaking to? Jens lived alone. Maybe his father had come to stay. But she was not going to give her real name. “It’s Hilde.”
“May I have your second name, please?”
This was ominous. She decided to try to bully him. “Look, I don’t know who the hell you are, but I didn’t call to play stupid games, so just put Jens on the damn phone, will you?”
It did not work. “I must have your surname.”
This was not someone playing games, she decided. “Who are you?”
There was a long pause, then he replied. “I am Sergeant Egill of the Copenhagen police.”
“Is Jens in trouble?”
“What is your full name, please?”
Hermia hung up.
She was shocked and frightened. This was as bad as it could be. Arne had taken refuge in Jens’s house, and now the house was under police guard. It could only mean that they had found out that Arne was hiding there. They must have arrested Jens and perhaps Arne, too. Hermia fought back tears. Would she ever see her lover again?
She walked out of the hotel and looked across the harbor toward Copenhagen, a hundred miles away in the direction of the setting sun. Arne was probably in jail there.
There was no way she was going to meet up with her fisherman and return to Sweden empty-handed. She would be letting down Digby Hoare and Winston Churchill and thousands of British airmen.
The ferry’s horn sounded the all-aboard with a noise like a bereaved giant. Hermia jumped on her bicycle and cycled furiously to the dock. She had a complete set of forged papers, including identity card and ration book, so she could pass any checkpoint. She bought a ticket and hurried on board. She had to go to Copenhagen. She had to find out what had happened to Arne. She had to get his film, if he had taken any pictures. When she had done that, she would worry about how to escape from Denmark and get the film to England.
The ferry hooted mournfully again and moved slowly away from the dock.
Harald drove along the Copenhagen quayside at sundown. The dirty water of the harbor was an oily gray in daytime, but now it glowed with the reflection of the sunset, a red and yellow sky broken up, by the wavelets, into dabs of color like strokes of a paintbrush.
He stopped the motorcycle near a line of Daimler-Benz trucks partly loaded with timber from a Norwegian freighter. Then he saw two German soldiers guarding the cargo. The roll of film in his pocket suddenly felt burning hot against his leg. He put his hand in his pocket and told himself not to be panicky. No one suspected him of any wrongdoing-and the bike would be safe near the soldiers. He parked next to the trucks.
The last time he was here he had been drunk, and now he struggled to remember exactly where the jazz club was. He walked along the row of warehouses and taverns. The grimy buildings were transformed, like the dirty water of the harbor, by the romantic glow of the setting sun. Eventually he spotted the sign that read, “DANISH INSTITUTE OF FOLK SONG AND COUNTRY DANCING.” He went down the steps to the cellar and pushed the door. It was open.
The time was ten o’clock, early for nightclubs, and the place was half-empty. No one was playing the beer-stained piano on the little stage. Harald crossed the room to the bar, scanning the faces. To his disappointment, he did not recognize anyone.
The barman wore a rag tied around his head like a gypsy. He nodded warily to Harald, who did not look like the usual type of customer.
“Have you seen Betsy today?” Harald asked.
The barman relaxed, apparently reassured that Harald was just another young man looking for a prostitute. “She’s around,” he said.
Harald sat on a stool. “I’ll wait.”
“Trude’s over there,” the barman said helpfully.
Harald glanced in the direction he pointed and saw a blond woman drinking from a lipstick-stained glass. He shook his head. “I want Betsy.”
“These things are very personal,” said the barman sagely.
Harald suppressed a smile at the obviousness of this remark. What could be more personal than sexual intercourse? “That’s very true,” he said. Were tavern conversations always stupid?
“A drink while you’re waiting for her?”
“No, thanks.” The thought of aquavit still made Harald feel nauseated.
He sipped his beer thoughtfully. He had spent the day brooding over his plight. The presence of police at Arne’s hideout almost certainly meant that Arne had been found out. If by some miracle he had evaded arrest, the only place he might be hiding was the ruined monastery at Kirstenslot; so Harald had driven there and checked. He found the place empty.
He had sat on the floor of the church for several hours, alternately grieving at his brother’s fate and trying to figure out what he should do next.
If he were to finish the job Arne had started, he had to get the film to London in the next eleven days. Arne must have had a plan for this, but Harald did not know what it was, and could not think of any way to find out. So he had to devise his own.
He considered simply putting the negatives in an envelope and mailing them to the British Legation in Stockholm. However, he felt sure all mail for that address was routinely opened by the censors.
He did not have the luck to be acquainted with any of the small group of people who traveled legitimately between Denmark and Sweden. He could simply go to the ferry dock in Copenhagen, or the boat train station at Elsinore, and ask a passenger to take the envelope; but that seemed almost as risky as mailing it.
He had concluded, after a day of racking his brains, that he had to go himself.
He could not do so openly. He would not be given a permit to travel, now that his brother was known to be a spy. He would have to find a clandestine route. Danish ships went to and from Sweden every day. There had to be a way to get on board one and slip off unnoticed on the other side. He could not get a job on a boat-sailors had special identity papers. But there was always underworld activity around docks: smuggling, theft, prostitution, drugs. So he needed to make contact with criminals and find someone willing to smuggle him to Sweden.
When the afternoon began to cool, and the tiled floor of the monastery became chilly, he had got back on his motorcycle and returned to the jazz club, in the hope of seeing the only criminal he had ever met.
He did not have to wait long for Betsy. He had drunk only half his beer when she arrived. She came down the rear staircase with a man whom, Harald presumed, she had just serviced in a bedroom upstairs. The client had pale, unhealthy skin and a brutally short haircut, and there was a cold sore on his left nostril. He was about seventeen. Harald guessed he was a sailor. He walked quickly across the room and out of the door, looking furtive.
Betsy came to the bar, saw Harald, and did a double take. “Hello, schoolboy,” she said amiably.
She tossed her head coquettishly, shaking her dark curls. “Changed your mind? Want to have a go?”
The thought of having sex with her only minutes after the sailor was vile, but he answered with a joke. “Not before we’re married.”
She laughed. “What would your mother say?”
He looked at her plump figure. “That you need feeding up.”
She smiled. “Flatterer. You’re after something, aren’t you? You didn’t come back for the watery beer.”
“As a matter of fact, I need a word with your Luther.”
“Lou?” She looked disapproving. “What do you want with him?”
“A little problem he may be able to help me with.”
“I probably shouldn’t tell you-”
“Don’t be stupid. Are you in trouble?”
She looked across at the door and said, “Oh, shit.”
Following her gaze, Harald saw Luther come in. Tonight he was wearing a silk sports coat, very dirty, over an undershirt. With him was a man of about thirty who was so drunk he could hardly stand. Holding the man’s arm, Luther steered him to Betsy. The man stood peering lustfully at her.
Betsy said to Luther, “How much did you take off him?”
Luther handed her a five-crown note. “Here’s your half.”
She shrugged, pocketed the money, and took the man upstairs.
Harald said, “Would you like a drink, Lou?”
“Aquavit.” His manners had not improved. “What are you after, then?”
“You’re a man with many contacts along the waterfront.”
“Don’t bother to butter me up, son,” Luther interrupted. “What do you want? A little boy with a nice bum? Cheap cigarettes? Dope?”
The barman filled a small glass with aquavit. Luther emptied it at a gulp. Harald paid and waited until the barman moved away. Lowering his voice, he said, “I want to go to Sweden.”
Luther narrowed his eyes. “Why?”
“Does it matter?”
“I’ve got a girlfriend in Stockholm. We want to get married.” Harald began to improvise. “I can get a job in her father’s factory. He makes leather goods, wallets and handbags and-”
“So apply to the authorities for a permit to go abroad.”
“I did. They turned me down.”
“They wouldn’t say.”
Luther looked thoughtful. After a minute he said, “Fair enough.”
“Can you get me on a ship?”
“Anything’s possible. How much money have you got?”
Harald recalled Betsy’s mistrust of Luther a minute ago. “None,” he said. “But I can get some. So, can you arrange something for me?”
“I know a man I can ask.”
“Give me ten crowns.”
“For going to see this man. You think I’m a free public service, like the library?”
“I told you, I haven’t got any money.”
Luther grinned, showing his rotten teeth. “You paid for that drink with a twenty, and got a ten in your change. Give it to me.”
Harald hated to yield to a bully, but he seemed to have no choice. He handed over the note.
“Wait here,” said Luther, and he went out.
Harald waited, sipping his beer slowly to make it last. He wondered where Arne was now. Probably in a cell in the Politigaarden, being interrogated. Perhaps Peter Flemming would do the questioning-espionage was his department. Would Arne talk? Not at first, Harald felt sure. Arne would not crumble immediately. But would he have the strength to hold out? Harald had always felt there was a part of Arne he did not fully know. What if he were tortured? How long would it be before he betrayed Harald?
There was a commotion from the back staircase, and Betsy’s latest client, the drunk, fell down the stairs. Betsy followed him, picked him up, and walked him through the door and up the outside steps.
She returned with another client, this one a respectable middle-aged man in a gray suit that was old but neatly pressed. He looked as if he had worked all his life in a bank and never got promoted. As they crossed the room, Betsy said to Harald, “Where’s Lou?”
“Gone to see a man for me.”
She stopped and came over to the bar, leaving the bank clerk looking embarrassed in the middle of the room. “Don’t get involved with Lou, he’s a bastard.”
“I’ve got no choice.”
“Then take a tip.” She lowered her voice. “Don’t trust him a single inch.” She wagged her finger like a schoolteacher. “Watch your back, for God’s sake.” Then she went upstairs with the man in the worn suit.
At first Harald felt annoyed with her for being so sure he could not take care of himself. Then he told himself not to be stupid. She was right-he was out of his depth. He had never dealt with people like Luther, and he had no idea how to protect himself.
Don’t trust him, Betsy had said. Well, he had only given the man ten crowns. He could not see how Luther could cheat him at this stage, though later he might take a larger sum then fail to deliver.
Watch your back. Be prepared for treachery. Harald could not think how Luther could betray him, but were there any precautions he could take? It occurred to him that he was trapped in this bar, with no back door. Maybe he should leave and watch the entrance from a distance. There might be some safety in unpredictable behavior.
He swallowed the last of his beer and went out with a wave to the barman.
He walked along the quay, in the twilight, to where a big grain ship was tied up with hawsers as thick as his arm. He sat on the domed top of a steel capstan and turned to face the club. He could see the entrance clearly, and he thought he would probably recognize Luther. Would Luther spot him here? He thought not, for he would be hard to see against the dark bulk of the ship. That was good. It put Harald in control. When Luther returned, if all seemed well, Harald would go back into the bar. If he smelled a rat he would vanish. He settled down to wait.
After ten minutes, a police car appeared.
It came along the quayside very fast, but with no siren. Harald stood up. His instinct was to run, but he realized that would call attention to him, and he forced himself to sit down again and keep very still.
The car pulled up sharply outside the jazz club.
Two men got out. One, the driver, wore a police uniform. The other was in a light-colored suit. Peering at him in the dim light, Harald recognized the face, and gasped. It was Peter Flemming.
The two cops went into the club.
Harald was about to hurry away when another figure appeared, slouching along the cobblestones with a familiar gait. It was Luther. He stopped a few yards from the police car and leaned against the wall, like an idle bystander waiting to see what would happen.
Presumably he had told the police of Harald’s planned flight to Sweden. No doubt he hoped to be paid for the tip-off. How wise Betsy had been-and what a good thing Harald had acted on her advice.
The police came out of the club after a few minutes. Peter Flemming talked to Luther. Harald could hear the voices, for they both spoke angrily, but he was too far away to make out the words. However, it seemed that Peter was reprimanding Luther, who kept throwing his hands in the air in a gesture of helpless frustration.
After a while the two policemen drove away, and Luther went inside.
Harald walked quickly away, shaken by his narrow escape. He found his motorcycle and drove off in the last of the twilight. He would spend the night in the ruined monastery at Kirstenslot.
Then what would he do?
Harald told Karen the whole story the following evening.
They sat on the floor in the disused church, while evening darkened outside and the draped shapes and boxes around them turned to ghosts in the twilight. She sat with her legs crossed, like a schoolgirl, and hiked the skirt of her silk evening gown above her knees, for comfort. Harald lit her cigarettes, and felt he was becoming intimate with her.
He told her about getting into the base on Sande, then pretending to be asleep while the soldier searched his parents’ house. “You’ve got such nerve!” she exclaimed. He was pleased by her admiration, and glad she could not see the dampness in his eyes as he told how his father had told a lie to save him.
He explained Heis’s deduction that there would be a major air raid at the next full moon, and his reasons for thinking the film had to get to London before then.
When he related how a police sergeant had answered the door of Jens Toksvig’s house, she interrupted him. “I got a warning,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“A stranger came up to me at the railway station and told me the police knew where Arne was. This man was a cop himself, in the traffic department, but he happened to have overheard something, and he wanted to let us know because he was sympathetic.”
“Didn’t you warn Arne?”
“Yes, I did! I knew he was with Jens, so I looked Jens up in the phone book then went to his house. I saw Arne and told him what had happened.”
It sounded a bit odd to Harald. “What did Arne say?”
“He told me to leave first, and said he was going to get out immediately after me-but obviously he left it too late.”
“Or your warning was a ruse,” Harald mused.
“What do you mean?” she said sharply.
“Maybe your policeman was lying. Suppose he wasn’t sympathetic at all. He might have followed you to Jens’s place and arrested Arne the minute you left.”
“That’s ridiculous-policemen don’t do things like that!”
Harald realized that once again he had run up against Karen’s faith in the integrity and goodwill of those around her. Either she was credulous or he was unduly cynical-he was not sure which. It reminded him of her father’s belief that the Nazis would not harm Danish Jews. He wished he thought they were right. “What did the man look like?”
“Tall, handsome, heavy, red hair, nice suit.”
“A kind of oatmeal tweed?”
That settled it. “He’s Peter Flemming.” Harald did not feel bitter toward Karen: she had thought she was saving Arne. She was the victim of a clever ruse. “Peter is more of a spy than a policeman. I know his family, back on Sande.”
“I don’t believe you!” she said hotly. “You’ve got too much imagination.”
He did not want to argue with her. It pierced his heart to know that his brother was in custody. Arne should never have got involved in deception. There was no slyness in his nature. Harald wondered grievingly if he would ever see his brother again.
But there were more lives at stake. “Arne won’t be able to get this film to England.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“I don’t know. I’d like to take it myself, but I can’t figure out how.” He told her about the jazz club and Betsy and Luther. “And perhaps it’s just as well that I can’t get to Sweden. I’d probably be jailed for not having the right papers.” It was part of the Swedish government’s neutrality agreement with Hitler’s Germany that Danes who traveled illegally to Sweden would be arrested. “I don’t mind taking a risk, but I need a better-than-even chance of success.”
“There must be a way-how was Arne going to do it?”
“I don’t know, he didn’t tell me.”
“That was silly.”
“In retrospect, perhaps, but he probably thought the fewer people who knew, the safer he would be.”
“Someone must know.”
“Well, Poul must have had a means of communication with the British-but it’s in the nature of these things that they’re kept secret.”
They were silent for a while. Harald felt depressed. Had he risked his life for nothing?
“Have you heard any news?” he asked her. He missed his radio.
“Finland declared war on the Soviet Union. So did Hungary.”
“Vultures scenting death,” Harald said bitterly.
“It’s so maddening to be sitting here helpless while the filthy Nazis are conquering the world. I just wish there was something we could do.”
Harald touched the film canister in his trousers pocket. “This would make a difference, if I could get it to London in the next ten days. A big difference.”
Karen glanced at the Hornet Moth. “It’s a pity that thing won’t fly.”
Harald looked at the damaged undercarriage and the torn fabric. “I might be able to repair it. But I’ve only had one lesson, I couldn’t pilot it.”
Karen looked thoughtful. “No,” she said slowly. “But I could.”
Arne Olufsen proved surprisingly resistant to interrogation.
Peter Flemming questioned him on the day of his arrest, and again on the following day, but he pretended to be innocent and revealed no secrets. Peter was disappointed. He had expected the fun-loving Arne to break as easily as a champagne glass.
He had no more luck with Jens Toksvig.
He considered arresting Karen Duchwitz, but he felt sure she was peripheral to the case. Besides, she was more use to him roaming around freely. She had already led him to two spies.
Arne was the prime suspect. He had all the connections: he knew Poul Kirke, he was familiar with the island of Sande, he had an English fiancee, he had gone to Bornholm which was so close to Sweden, and he had shaken off his police tail.
The arrest of Arne and Jens had restored Peter in General Braun’s favor. But now Braun wanted to know more: how the spy ring worked, who else was in it, what means they used to communicate with England. Peter had arrested a total of six spies, but none of them had talked. The case would not be wound up until one of them cracked and revealed all. Peter had to break Arne.
He planned the third interrogation carefully.
At four o’clock on Sunday morning he burst into Arne’s cell with two uniformed policemen. They woke Arne by shining a flashlight in his eyes and yelling, then pulled him out of bed and marched him along the corridor to the interrogation room.
Peter sat on the only chair, behind a cheap table, and lit a cigarette. Arne looked pale and frightened in his prison pajamas. His left leg was bandaged and strapped from mid-thigh to shin, but he could stand upright-Peter’s two bullets had damaged muscles but had not broken any bones.
Peter said, “Your friend Poul Kirke was a spy.”
“I didn’t know that,” Arne replied.
“Why did you go to Bornholm?”
“For a little holiday.”
“Why would an innocent man on holiday evade police surveillance?”
“He might dislike being followed around by a lot of nosy flatfoots.” Arne had more spirit than Peter had expected, despite the early hour and the rude awakening. “But, as it happens, I didn’t notice them. If, as you say, I evaded surveillance, I did it unintentionally. Perhaps your people are just bad at their job.”
“Rubbish. You deliberately shook off your tail. I know, I was part of the surveillance team.”
Arne shrugged. “That doesn’t surprise me, Peter. You were never very bright as a kid. We were at school together, remember? In fact we were best friends.”
“Until they sent you off to Jansborg, where you learned to disrespect the law.”
“No. We were friends until our families quarreled.”
“Because of your father’s malice.”
“I thought it was over your father’s tax fiddle.”
This was not going the way Peter planned it. He switched his line. “Whom did you meet on Bornholm?”
“You walked around for days and never spoke to anyone?”
“I picked up a girl.”
Arne had not mentioned this in previous interrogations. Peter felt sure it was untrue. Maybe he could catch Arne out. “What was her name?”
“I didn’t ask.”
“When you came back to Copenhagen, you went into hiding.”
“Hiding? I was staying with a friend.”
“Jens Toksvig-another spy.”
“He didn’t tell me that.” He added sarcastically, “These spies are a bit secretive.”
Peter was dismayed that Arne had not been more weakened by his time in the cells. He was sticking to his story, which was unlikely but not impossible. Peter began to fear that Arne might never talk. He told himself this was just a preliminary skirmish. He pressed on. “So you had no idea the police were searching for you?”
“Not even when a policeman chased you in the Tivoli Garden?”
“That must have been someone else. I’ve never been chased by a policeman.”
Peter let the sarcasm sound in his voice. “You didn’t happen to see any of the one thousand posters of your face that have been put up around the city?”
“I must have missed them.”
“Then why did you change your appearance?”
“Did I change my appearance?”
“You shaved off your moustache.”
“Someone told me I looked like Hitler.”
“The girl I met on Bornholm, Anne.”
“You said her name was Annika.”
“I called her Anne for short.”
Tilde Jespersen came in with a tray. The smell of hot toast made Peter’s mouth water. He trusted it was having the same effect on Arne. Tilde poured tea. She smiled at Arne and said, “Would you like some?”
Peter said, “No.”
This little exchange was an act. Tilde was pretending to be nice in the hope that Arne would warm to her.
Tilde brought in another chair and sat down to drink her tea. Peter ate some buttered toast, taking his time. Arne had to stand and watch them.
When Peter had finished eating, he resumed the questioning. “In Poul Kirke’s office, I found a sketch of a military installation on the island of Sande.”
“I’m shocked,” Arne said.
“If he had not been killed, he would have sent those sketches to the British.”
“He might have had an innocent explanation for them, had he not been shot by a trigger-happy fool.”
“Did you make those drawings?”
“Sande is your home. Your father is pastor of a church there.”
“It’s your home, too. Your father runs a hotel where off-duty Nazis get drunk on aquavit.”
Peter ignored that. “When I met you in St. Paul’s Gade, you ran away. Why?”
“You had a gun. If not for that, I would have punched your ugly head, the way I did behind the post office twelve years ago.”
“I knocked you down behind the post office.”
“But I got up again.” Arne turned to Tilde with a smile. “Peter’s family and mine have been at loggerheads for years. That’s the real reason he’s arrested me.”
Peter ignored that. “Four nights ago, there was a security alert at the base. Something disturbed the guard dogs. The sentries saw someone running across the dunes in the direction of your father’s church.” As Peter talked, he watched Arne’s face. So far, Arne did not look surprised. “Was that you running across the dunes?”
Arne was telling the truth, Peter felt. He continued, “Your parents’ home was searched.” Peter saw a flicker of fear in Arne’s eyes: he had not known about this. “The guards were looking for a stranger. They found a young man asleep in bed, but the pastor said it was his son. Was that you?”
“No. I haven’t been home since Whitsun.”
Once again, Peter thought he was telling the truth.
“Two nights ago, your brother Harald returned to Jansborg Skole.”
“From which he was expelled because of your malice.”
“He was expelled because he disgraced the school!”
“By daubing a joke on a wall?” Once again Arne turned to Tilde. “The police superintendent had decided to release my brother without charges-but Peter went to his school and insisted they expel him. You see how much he hates my family?”
Peter said, “He broke into the chemistry lab and used the darkroom to develop a film.”
Arne’s eyes widened visibly. Clearly this was news to him. He was rattled, at last.
“Fortunately, he was discovered by another boy. I learned of this from the boy’s father, who happens to be a loyal citizen and a believer in law and order.”
“Was it your film, Arne?”
“The head teacher says the film consisted of photographs of naked women, and claims he confiscated it and burned it. He’s lying, isn’t he?”
“I have no idea.”
“I believe the photographs were of the military installation on Sande.”
“They were your pictures, weren’t they?”
Peter felt he was at last beginning to intimidate Arne, and he pressed his advantage. “Next morning, a young man called at Jens Toksvig’s house. One of our officers answered the door-a middle-aged sergeant, not one of the force’s intellectual giants. The boy pretended to have come to the wrong address, looking for a doctor, and our man was gullible enough to believe him. But it was a lie. The young man was your brother, wasn’t he?”
“I’m quite sure he was not,” Arne said, but he looked frightened.
“Harald was bringing you the developed film.”
“That evening, a woman in Bornholm, who called herself Hilde, telephoned Jens Toksvig’s house. Didn’t you say you had picked up a girl called Hilde?”
“Who is Hilde?”
“Never heard of her.”
“Perhaps it was a false name. Could she have been your fiancee, Hermia Mount?”
“She’s in England.”
“There you are mistaken. I have been talking to the Swedish immigration authorities.” It had been hard to force them to cooperate, but in the end Peter had got the information he wanted. “Hermia Mount flew in to Stockholm ten days ago, and has not yet departed.”
Arne feigned surprise, but the act was unconvincing. “I know nothing of that,” he said, too mildly. “I haven’t heard from her for more than a year.”
If that had been true, he would have been astonished and shocked to learn that she had certainly been in Sweden and possibly in Denmark. He was definitely lying now. Peter continued, “The same night-this is the day before yesterday-a young man nicknamed Schoolboy went to a waterfront jazz club, met with a small-time criminal called Luther Gregor, and asked for help to escape to Sweden.”
Arne looked horrified.
Peter said, “It was Harald, wasn’t it?”
Arne said nothing.
Peter sat back. Arne was badly shaken now, but overall he had put up an ingenious defense. He had explanations for everything Peter threw at him. Worse, he was cleverly turning the personal hostility between them to his advantage, claiming that his arrest had been motivated by malice. Frederik Juel might be gullible enough to believe that. Peter was worried.
Tilde poured tea into a mug and gave it to Arne without consulting Peter. Peter said nothing: this was all part of the prearranged scenario. Arne took the mug in a shaky hand and drank thirstily.
Tilde spoke in a kindly voice. “Arne, you’re in over your head. This isn’t just about you anymore. You’ve involved your parents, your fiancee, and your young brother. Harald is in deep trouble. If this goes on, he’ll end up hanged as a spy-and it will be your fault.”
Arne held the mug in both hands, saying nothing, looking bewildered and scared. Peter thought he might be weakening.
“We can make a deal with you,” Tilde went on. “Tell us everything, and both you and Harald will escape the death penalty. You don’t have to take my word for that-General Braun will be here in a few minutes, and he will guarantee that you’ll live. But first you have to tell us where Harald is. If you don’t, you’ll die, and so will your brother.”
Doubt and fear crossed Arne’s face. There was a long silence. At last Arne seemed to come to a resolution. He reached out and put the mug on the tray. He looked at Tilde, then turned his gaze to Peter. “Go to hell,” he said quietly.
Peter sprang to his feet, furious. “You’re the one who’s going to hell!” he shouted. He kicked his chair over backward. “Don’t you understand what’s happening to you?”
Tilde got to her feet and left quietly.
“If you don’t talk to us, you’ll be turned over to the Gestapo,” Peter went on angrily. “They won’t give you tea and ask polite questions. They’ll pull out your fingernails, and light matches under the soles of your feet. They’ll fasten electrodes to your lips, and throw cold water over you to make the shocks more excruciating. They’ll strip you naked and beat you with hammers. They’ll smash the bones of your ankles and kneecaps so that you can never walk again, and then they’ll carry on beating you, keeping you alive and conscious and screaming. You’ll beg and plead with them to let you die, but they won’t-not until you talk. And you will talk. Get that into your head. In the end, everyone talks.”
White-faced, Arne said quietly, “I know.”
Peter was taken aback by the poise and resignation behind the fear. What did it mean?
The door opened and General Braun came in. It was now six o’clock, and Peter had been expecting him: his appearance was part of the scenario. Braun was the picture of cold efficiency in his crisp uniform with his holstered pistol. As always, his damaged lungs made his voice a gentle near-whisper. “Is this the man to be sent to Germany?”
Arne moved fast, despite his injury.
Peter was looking the other way, toward Braun, and he saw only a blur as Arne reached for the tea tray. The heavy earthenware teapot flew through the air and struck the side of Peter’s head, splashing tea over his face. When he had dashed the liquid from his eyes he saw Arne charge into Braun. Arne moved clumsily on his wounded leg, but he knocked the general over. Peter sprang to his feet, but he was too slow. In the second for which Braun lay still on the floor, gasping, Arne unbuttoned the general’s holster and snatched out the pistol.
He swung the gun toward Peter, holding it two-handed.
Peter froze. The gun was a 9mm Luger. It held eight rounds of ammunition in the grip magazine-but was it loaded? Or did Braun wear it just for show?
Arne remained in a sitting position but pushed himself backward until he was up against the wall.
The door was still open. Tilde stepped inside, saying, “What-?”
“Stay still!” Arne barked.
Peter asked himself urgently how familiar Arne was with weapons. He was a military officer, but in the air force he might not have had much practice.
As if to answer the unspoken question, Arne switched off the safety catch on the left side of the pistol with a deliberate movement that everyone could see.
Behind Tilde, Peter could see the two uniformed policemen who had escorted Arne from his cell.
None of the four policemen was carrying a gun. They did not bring weapons into the cell area. It was a strict regulation imposed to prevent prisoners from doing exactly what Arne had just done. But Braun did not consider himself subject to the regulations, and no one had had the nerve to ask him to hand in his weapon.
Now Arne had them all at his mercy.
Peter said, “You can’t get away, you know. This is the largest police station in Denmark. You’ve got the drop on us, but there are dozens of armed police outside. You can’t get past them all.”
“I know,” Arne said.
There was that ominous note of resignation again.
Tilde said, “And would you want to kill so many innocent Danish policemen?”
“No, I wouldn’t.”
It all began to make sense. Peter remembered Arne’s words when Peter had shot him: You stupid pig, you should have killed me. That fitted with the fatalistic attitude Arne had displayed since his arrest. He feared he was going to betray his friends-perhaps even his brother.
Suddenly Peter knew what was going to happen next. Arne had figured out that the only way to be completely safe was to be dead. But Peter wanted Arne to be tortured by the Gestapo and to reveal his secrets. He could not let Arne die.
Despite the gun pointed straight at him, Peter dashed at Arne.
Arne did not shoot him. Instead, he jerked back the gun and pressed its nose into the soft skin under his chin.
Peter flung himself on Arne.
The gun barked once.
Peter struck it from Arne’s hand, but he was too late. A gush of blood and brain sprayed from the top of Arne’s head, making a fan-shaped stain on the pale wall behind him. Peter fell on Arne, and some of the mess splashed on Peter’s face. He rolled away from Arne and scrambled to his feet.
Arne’s face was strangely unchanged. The damage was all behind, and he still had the ironic smile he had worn as he put the gun to his throat. After a moment, he fell sideways, the smashed back of his skull leaving a red smear on the wall. His body hit the floor with a lifeless thud. He lay still.
Peter wiped his face with his sleeve.
General Braun got to his feet, struggling for breath.
Tilde bent down and picked up the pistol.
They all looked at the body.
“Brave man,” said General Braun.
When Harald woke up, he knew that something wonderful had happened, but for a moment he could not recall what it was. He lay on the ledge in the apse of the church, with Karen’s blanket around him and Pinetop the cat curled up against his chest, and waited for his memory to work. It seemed to him that the wonderful event was interwoven with something worrying, but he was so excited that he did not care about the danger.
It all came back in a rush: Karen had agreed to fly him to England in the Hornet Moth.
He sat upright suddenly, displacing Pinetop, who leaped to the floor with an indignant yowl.
The danger was that they might both be caught, arrested, and killed. What made him happy, despite that, was that he would be spending hours alone with Karen. Not that he thought anything romantic would happen. He realized she was out of his league. But he could not help how he felt about her. Even if he was never going to kiss her, he was thrilled at the thought of how long they would be together. It was not just the journey, though that would be the climax. Before they could take off they would have to spend days working on the aircraft.
But the whole plan depended on whether he could repair the Hornet Moth. Last night, with only a flashlight for illumination, he had not been able to inspect it thoroughly. Now, with the rising sun shining through the high windows over the apse, he could assess the magnitude of the task.
He washed at the cold tap in the corner, pulled on his clothes, and began his examination.
The first thing he noticed was a long piece of stout rope tied to the undercarriage. What was that for? He thought for a minute, then realized it was for moving the aircraft when the engine was off. With the wings folded, it might be difficult to find a point at which to push the machine, but the rope would enable someone to pull it around like a cart.
Just then, Karen arrived.
She was casually dressed in shorts and sandals, showing off her long, strong legs. Her curly hair was freshly washed and stood out around her head in a coppery cloud. Harald thought angels must look like that. What a tragedy it would be if she died in the adventure that was ahead of them.
It was too early to talk of dying, he told himself. He had not even begun to repair the aircraft. And, in the clear light of morning, it looked a more daunting task.
Like Harald, Karen was pessimistic this morning. Yesterday she had been excited by the prospect of adventure. Today she took a more gloomy view. “I’ve been thinking about mending this thing,” she said. “I’m not sure it can be done, especially in ten days-nine, now.”
Harald felt the onset of the stubborn mood that always came over him when someone told him he could not do something. “We’ll see,” he said.
“You’ve got that look,” she observed.
“The look that says you don’t want to hear what’s being said.”
“I haven’t got a look,” he said tetchily.
She laughed. “Your teeth are clenched, your mouth is turned down at the corners, and you’re frowning.”
He was forced to smile, and in truth he was pleased that she noticed his expression.
“That’s better,” she said.
He began to study the Hornet Moth with an engineer’s eye. When he first saw it, he had thought its wings were broken, but Arne had explained that they were folded back for easy storage. Harald looked at the hinges by which they were attached to the fuselage. “I think I could refit the wings,” he said.
“That’s easy. Our instructor, Thomas, did it every time he put the aircraft away. It only takes a few minutes.” She touched the nearer wing. “The fabric is in a bad state, though.”
The wings and the fuselage were made of wood covered with a fabric that had been treated with some kind of paint. On the upper surface, Harald could see the stitches where the fabric was attached to the ribs with thick thread. The paint was cracked and crazed, and the fabric was torn in places. “It’s only superficial damage,” Harald said. “Does it matter?”
“Yes. The rips in the fabric might interfere with the airflow over the wings.”
“So we need to patch them. I’m more worried about the undercarriage.”
The aircraft had been in some kind of accident, probably an awkward landing such as Arne had described. Harald knelt down to look more closely at the landing gear. The solid steel stub axle appeared to have two prongs that fitted into a V-shaped strut. The V-strut was made of oval steel tube, and both arms of the V had creased and buckled at their weakest point, presumably just beyond the ends of the stub axle. They looked as if they would easily break. A third strut, that looked to Harald like a shock absorber, appeared undamaged. Nevertheless, the undercarriage was clearly too weak for a landing.
“I did that,” Karen said.
“I landed in a crosswind and swerved sideways. The wingtip hit the ground.”
It sounded terrifying. “Were you scared?”
“No, I just felt such a fool, but Tom said it’s not uncommon in a Hornet Moth. In fact he confessed he had done it himself once.”
Harald nodded. That fitted with what Arne had said. But there was something in the way she spoke about Thomas the instructor that made him feel jealous. “Why was it never repaired?”
“We don’t have the facilities here.” She waved at the workbench and the tool rack. “Tom could do minor repairs, and he was good with the engine, but this isn’t a metalwork shop, and we have no welding gear. Then Daddy had a minor heart attack. He’s fine, but it meant he would never get a pilot’s licence, and he lost interest in learning to fly. So the work never got done.”