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DURING the First World War Edgar Wallace wrote a goodly number of morale-boosting tales about the skill and derring-do of the British military and intelligence services, mostly in the form of series published under such titles as "Tam o' the Scoots," "Companions of the Ace High," and "Clarence—Private." Several series were published in the form of dramatic renderings of what he claimed to be true stories. Three espionage series in this category are known to have been published in British newspapers. Two of these featured an intelligence agent by the name of Major Haynes and made their first appearance in Thomson's Weekly News.
The first was published from February 9 to May 18, 1918, under the general title "My Adventures as a German Spy in Britain." They were attributed to "Hermann Gallwitz, Agent of Captain Karl von Rintellen, the Famous Banker-Spy" and were purportedly "Written by Himself and Edited by Edgar Wallace." The series was introduced with the words:
"This narrative of a German spy, who lived and had his being in our midst, is based upon irrefutable facts, which are offered to our readers for the first time. The series is compiled from notes and memoranda which were made by Hermann Gallwitz, an agent of Captain Karl von Rintellen, the mysterious banker-spy who was arrested while travelling to Europe under the name of 'Von Gasche.' Gallwitz never intended his private diary to be published, and because of this our readers will have a much better insight into the vain and conceited mind of the German spy, who fondly believed that a British Secret Service did not exist. For reasons which will be obvious fictitious names are given, and codes, signals and identification systems have been altered." The stories themselves were illustrated with photographs intended, evidently, to give them a tongue-in-cheek semblance of being factual accounts. The series was subsequently reprinted under syndication with the title changed to Adventures of a German Spy in Britain. In the book edition Hermann Gallwitz was renamed "Heine," and some of the stories were abridged or otherwise edited. A copy of this book is available at RGL.
Beginning on May 25, 1918, Thomson's Weekly News published a follow-up series under the title "Major Haynes of the Secret Service," billing it as having been "written from the notes of his Chief of Staff, by Edgar Wallace."
The eleven-part series "The Secret Service Submarine" also made its first appearance in Thomson's Weekly News and was subsequently published under syndication in other periodicals. The version presented here was transcribed from digital image files of The Glasgow Sunday Post, where it was printed from September 8 to November 17, 1918. Obvious errors (both typographical and linguistic) have been corrected without comment, and several footnotes have been added.
Each part of the series was prefaced with the following advisory:
It is necessary, for obvious reasons, to present the story of Mr John Dudley Frazer (familiarly called John Dudley) in the form of fiction. Someday it may be possible to describe in a more official man.ner the activities of the boat I call Z1. Told in the driest official style, it would never be uninteresting. It is understood that the names of places and people, code systems, etc., given in the course of these sketches are deliberately fictitious.
...and included the following portraits of the main protagonists:
Copyright for this book in its present form is held by Roy Glashan's Library. Persons and organisations who wish to distribute it in any way or manner must first obtain written permission from RGL.
A GIRL descended from the local train which runs from Ascheberg and Lübeck to Kiel. and made her way through the big and deserted booking-hall to the broad street on which the Bahnhof stands. A slender, pretty girl, her clear pallor accentuated by the plain dark dress she wore, the rimless glasses she affected lent her a certain studious air which was not unbecoming.
In her hand she carried a music portfolio, for she was on her way to the Akadamie of the learned Professor pianoforte teacher Voss of Ringstrasse 97. She looked from left to right as though searching for an electric train, and became aware for the first time of the presence of a little man who was approaching her importantly.
“Fräulein Klebber?” he asked brusquely.
“Yes, Herr—I am Fräulein Klebber.”
“I am Police Councillor Weber,” said the little man, “and you will accompany me to the police station.”
She looked at him, a steady, unwavering look that showed neither fear of the future nor misgivings of the past.
“To the police station?” she asked slowly. “but why, Herr Police Councillor?”
“That you shall learn.”
She walked with him, swinging her portfolio lightheartedly, and on her lips was a smile which betrayed a certain quiet amusement.
In the Police Councillor’s Office an officer of the Naval Intelligence Department was waiting—a stout man with close-cropped, bristling hair, who pointed to a chair.
“Sit down,” he ordered; “take her satchel, Weber.”
The girl handed the portfolio to the police official with a smile.
“You like music, Herr Lieutenant?” she asked.
“Turn it out and let me see its contents,” said the officer ignoring the remark, “and whilst that is happening, Fräulein Klebber, attend to me. What is your nationality?”
“German, from Holstein.”
“How long have you been in Germany?”
“The year of the war! Where were you living before?”
“America—and you came to Germany—why?”
“To study music, Herr Lieutenant.”
The officer smiled, and, unlike the girl’s smile, it was singularly unpleasant.
“You have lived at Kiel or near Kiel all this time?”
“Yes. At Ascheberg.”
“And sometimes you have posted pieces of music to a Madame Stahl, of Utrecht, in Holland?”
“Yes, Herr Lieutenant,” said the girl meekly. “She is my aunt, and pays for my education. Naturally she is interested in my compositions.”
“H’m—naturally,” the officer nodded. “Will you be surprised to learn that Madame Stahl is one of the names under which the Intelligence Department of the United States passes?”
She opened her eyes wide.
“You amaze me, Herr Lieutenant!”
“I will amaze you further.”
The Police Councillor had deposited a number of papers from the satchel. They consisted of music pieces, for the most part printed. Some there were in manuscript, and one of these the officer selected.
“‘The Ride of the Fairies,’” he read. “Is that your composition?”
“Yes, Herr Lieutenant.”
“Can you play it. See, I have a small piano here.”
He indicated an instrument behind the door, and the girl, picking up the music, walked to the piano, and, seating herself, ran her fingers lightly over the keys.
“A very pretty tune,” raid the officer. “But, unfortunately, I understand music, and you are not playing the piece. But how could you? Look! The notes run as follows:—A natural, B flat, G sharp, B flat, C natural, D flat, B flat, and so on. No-body could extract a tune from that, Fräulein.”
She laughed and shrugged her shoulders.
“But I’ll tell you what these notes signify in code. They mean:—‘Battle Fleet leaves Kiel for Skagerak on the 17th.’”
She got up lazily and shrugged her shoulders again.
“My pretty little pigeon.” laughed the officer loudly. “It’s a devilish shame that so much loveliness should be blotted out by a firing party—but you’ve had a great run, my darling.”
He clipped her round the waist, and lifted her chin with a finger.
“It may be the last you’ll have,” he said, and kissed her on the mouth.
She slipped from his arms with a cry, and dropped her hand swiftly to her skirt. Twice she fired before the Police Councillor flung his arms about her.
“I have her, Herr Lieutenant,” he’ gasped.
“Take her to the devil!” mumbled the Herr Lieutenant, for one bullet had carried away his front teeth.
And so they took Elsie Brice (alias Klebber) to a safe place.
“My name is Elsie Klebber, and I am a spy,” she answered when they questioned her at the Court Martial. “I have consistently informed the British Government of your naval movements, including the movement of your fleet which ended in the battle of Jutland. I have only one regret, and it is this, that a single ship of the High Sea Fleet ever returned to harbour.”
“Infamous woman!” trembled the President of the Court. “Have you no shame?”
She laughed, and her grey eyes gleamed with genuine humour.
“Have I not lived for more than three years in Germany?” she asked. “No sense of shame could survive that beastly experience.”
So they sentenced her to be shot in seven days, and she stepped as cheerily from the sombre Courthouse as though she were going to her wedding.
That night in the darkness of the windswept Baltic the skipper of an innocent-looking fisher boat hoisted a wireless aerial to the swaying masthead, and from his tiny cabin, hot and ill-lit, tapped forth a code message which was picked up at a Scottish port and was hastily transmitted to London.
In answer to a summons, John Dudley Frazer presented himself next morning before the chief of a certain department. John Dudley Frazer was used to such peremptory summonses, and was sitting in the armchair facing his chief long before the latter gentleman had conceived any plan of campaign.
“I don’t suppose you’d have accepted the plan if I had made one,” he apologised. “You will have to leave this afternoon. I have already notified Ian Graham.”
"What is it all about?” asked Frazer.
“You have heard of Miss Brice?” asked the other, and Frazer nodded. “It appears they have caught her red-handed, and she has been sentenced to be shot. She is no longer on our books. She is working for the American people, but we are largely responsible, and, anyway, the American counter service isn’t in thorough working order yet, and we have got to get her out.”
“Out of Germany?” asked Frazer.
The other nodded.
“It will take some doing,” said the young man thoughtfully. “When was she sentenced?”
“Yesterday,” said his chief.
“That gives me six days,” said Frazer. “She is pretty sure to be well guarded. Where is she?”
Frazer nodded again.
“That is very satisfactory.” he said. “By the way, can’t we fix up some arrangement whereby the hot-blooded British Navy doesn’t attempt our destruction? The last time I came away from Germany I was chased by our destroyers and about twenty thousand motor boats.”
The other laughed.
“That means every ship has to be notified, and every man on every ship,” he said, shaking his head. “In some way or other the mission of Z1 is sure to get out, and the Hun will catch you. No, John Dudley, I am afraid you have got to take the risk. Besides,” he added callously, “it is jolly good practice for the destroyers.”
“Fiend!” murmured John Dudley Frazer as he descended the stone stairs to Whitehall.
That evening the messroom of H.M.S. destroyer Kallimachus (officially designated B 9714) heard the shrill blast of the bugle sounding “action stations,” and leapt to its several posts.
Commander Smith swung up to the cramped space of the little bridge, and took his place by the side of the officer of the watch.
“Tin fish,” he asked, “Where?”
The dusk was falling, and the eastern skies were grape-blue, but due southward, clearly visible against the seas, which were streaked with purple shadows, was a white, feathery speck—a frothy, white feather which seemed to be floating in a swift current.
The bow gun of the destroyer lifted its grim nose slowly as though scenting its quarry, then—
An ear-splitting crash, a whirling, writhing smother of smoke.
The first shell dropped beyond the distant submarine, the second fell short—she was well and truly straddled.
“She’s submerging! Let her have it!”
The destroyer slightly altered her course.
The two guns went simultaneously.
Two great fountains sprang from the sea to the left and right of a fast-vanishing submarine—the feather was gone now and in its place a thin foam.
“Where’s that dam’ seaplane?” snarled the lieutenant, searching the skies, “gone to sleep? There she is!”
Against the red sky of the west a tiny bird-form showed, a black bird with rigid pinions.
“Too late—steer for the white water, and stand by to drop depths charges.”
On board submarine Z1 a philosophical young-man took a last backward glance through the periscope before all vision was blotted out by a dark swirl of water. He was a tall, good looking young man with fiery red hair, and a complexion like red sandstone. He wore the uniform of the British navy and on his breast was a string of ribbons which began with the blue ribbon of the Victoria Cross—for this adventure occurred in the silly days when the ribbon of the naval V.C. was blue and the army’s was red.
He looked down at his companion, a young man in a grey tweed overcoat of smart cut, who sat on a stool, thoughtfully peeling an apple with a silver-bladed pocket-knife.
“Well, what do you think of that? They always take us for Huns.”
“Glory be, Ian,” said the young man with the apple, “but that was a close shave. It’s a thousand pities we can’t take him into our confidence. Who was the artist?’
“Kallimachus, I think,” said the officer. He turned to a sub. at his side. “Dive another 80 feet,” he said: “course, north—a point west.”
“She is certainly an angel,” said the eater of apples. “It seems natural for her to be in good diving trim; all tanks filled, captain?”
“Don’t ask silly-ass questions,” said the commander calmly. “How the devil do you think I could dive if I hadn’t?”
A muffled roar shivered the fabric of the big submarine.
“Depth charge No. 1,” said the skipper laconically.
“Depth charge No. 2,” said Lieut. Ian Graham.
The submarine rolled from one side to the other, dipped and pitched like a trawler in a heavy sea, and then rolled and pitched together.
“Never did like depth charges,” said the civilian fixing a monocle in his eye and fixing the other with a stony stare. “No wonder the U-boat campaign is unpopular. I’ll bet they’ve got a beastly seaplane upstairs looking for us.”
“You’d win your bet, John Dudley,” said Lieutenant Graham. “I recognise that fellow, but we’ll be out of trouble, in a minute. East-north-east, Mr Clark. Both motors full speed, and the Lord ha’ mercy on us.”
“And again astern. We’re all right now. Due east, Mr Clark, and cancel all prayer meetings aft.”
“Ay, ay, sir.”
The commander was bending over a chart on a little desk fitted to the hull.
“For the pleasant land of Germany we are headed. This is the part you want?”
He pointed to the jagged line of the Schleswig coast, and the other nodded.
“They’ve got a new minefield here.” His pencil indicated a constellation of tiny red stars. “Now what about your rendezvous?”
John Dudley Frazer took a pencil from his pocket and marked a dot midway down the Schleswig coast.
“The time,” he said slowly, “will be 10.30 Greenwich time on the 8th instant—alternative date, 12th same hour—and now I’m going to bed.”
He made his way to the berth in the forward battery with the decision of one who was well acquainted with the little ship—as indeed he was.
It was three days after John Dudley Frazer adventured into the North Sea or Scottish Ocean that Captain Adolph von Sonnenberg came to the Hotel Berliner Hof in Kiel cursing aloud the evil days which had fallen upon the Seebadeanstalt-Düsternbrook, at which hotel it had been customary for him to stay (so he boasted), but the Seebadeanstalt-Düsternbrook was either closed to guests or was in the hands of the Imperial Naval Administration.
He was accompanied by a sweating soldier in soiled field grey, who carried that mean-looking handbag without which no German officer’s kit is complete.
A lounging group of naval and military officers watched him as he strode in at the door (he stopped to click his heels and salute the company).
“Third Bavarian Jaegers,” said one of the loafers settling himself more easily in his big cane chair. “Order of Merit and Highest Household Order of the Royal Bavarian Court and Iron Cross—thunder-in-heaven! he couldn’t avoid that. Who is he?”
“Service of the King,” said his neighbour, “you missed the gold band on his shoulder strap.”
The other grunted and resumed his scornful perusal of the Lokalanzeiger.
Captain von Sonnenberg booked his room, and with his soldier orderly made his way along the Ringstrasse to the office of the Police Councillor.
“Hauptmann Adolph von Sonnenberg!” he boomed his introduction, standing stiffly the while. He was in the presence of a social inferior, but apparently the name and style he announced demanded an attitude of reverence. “Royal Captain of the 2nd Royal Regiment of Bavarian Jaegers, aide-de-camp to His Majesty the King of Bavaria.”
“Illustrious sir.” said the Chief of Police, bending his body forward in salutation, “pray seat Your Illustrious Body and consider me entirely at your disposition.”
“Pray compose yourself, Mr Police Councillor Weber,” said the officer graciously, “though I realise that the presence in your office of an aide-de-camp to His Highest Majesty is perturbing, I beg you to believe that I come with no complaint.”
He took a notebook from his pocket, and turned the pages with a display of furtiveness which suggested that the book held great and terrible secrets.
“You have heard in your professional capacity of a certain Englishman from Scotland named John Dudley Fraser?”
“He is an agent,” said the police officer promptly. “He burgled the premises of the Reverend Kousistorialrat Dietrich Vorwerk and stole documents.”
“Yes, yes. I see you know him,” said the officer testily. “You know that this man mysteriously appears and disappears. We have reason to believe that he is in Germany all the time. Now, listen attentively, Herr Polizeirat Weber. We have reason to suspect that the man John Dudley Fraser is in Germany or coming to Germany at this moment. We also believe—and, thunder-and-lightning, have we not reason?—that his plot is directed towards the happiness of His Exalted Majesty.”
“Infamous!” said the Councillor appropriately.
“Now you are a Bavarian—that is why I come to you. There are secrets which may not be whispered. Come here.”
He led the way to the big window, half-covered with blue paint, that looked out on to the Kaiserstrasse.
“There is a man over there who is talking to a soldier—you observe?”
“Ja, Herr Hauptmann.”
“He has followed me since I arrived. He dogged me—me. Adolph von Sonnenberg, who it is said, has eyes in the back of his head!”
The Police Councillor fixed his glasses. He saw a young man of a not disagreeable cast of countenance, and turned, his hand raised to strike the bell on his table, when the officer caught his wrist.
“Fool. Dolt! Miserable ape!” he roared. “Must you spoil everything?”
“Pardon, Herr Hauptmann,” stammered the police official. “I thought——”
“No, no. You must not think, my little pigeon,” said the Hauptmann, suddenly affable. “I will tell you. You have a prisoner here named Brice or Klebber.”
“Yes, Herr, the spy. She will be shot to-morrow, the 8th.”
The other nodded.
“That is why John Dudley Frazer is here. Fräulein Brice knows more than she told at the Court-Martial. She has a secret to impart—you understand—which concerns the Witten family; that is the family of my exalted master. You are, I say, a Bavarian. We can trust you. It was due to our master’s influence that you were promoted from your office in Munich. If I go to these Prussian swine——”
The police officer smiled pleasantly. There never was a Bavarian who did not loathe a Prussian, and he was no exception. It was also true that he owed his promotion to the whim of the Regent who was now King.
“Whatever I may do for your Excellency, believe me I shall do. Would it be presumptuous to ask what is the secret. Ah, Excellency, forgive me, I see that it would.”
The officer was glaring at him.
“You may ask nothing,” he barked. “But if it should ever be said in your presence that our King frivolously plotted against the good Kaiser, or sought to secure his Imperial throne, strike the blackguard to the earth.”
Police-Councillor Weber drew a long breath. He felt that he was standing very near to the heart of great matters of State. Overwhelmed by the consciousness of his privilege he could only nod.
“Now to business. Look outside and see if that infernal servant of mine is listening. He is a shrewd rascal.”
But the shrewd rascal was standing stiffly to attention gazing blankly through the open door of the outer office.
“Here is my authority.” Captain von Sonnenberg drew an envelope from his pocket, an envelope richly emblazoned with the Royal Arms of Bavaria. From this he extracted a heavy sheet of paper, again magnificently headed. There were a few lines of typewriting and a sprawling signature, “Leopold.”
Police Councillor Weber breathed heavily and saluted.
“Jagow cannot live for ever,” said the captain significantly, and at the mention of that greatest-of-all Police-Councillors, Herr Jagow, of Berlin, and the promise implied, a pleasant thrill quivered the spine of Herr Weber.
“Your desire, Excellency?” he asked huskily.
“I would see the woman Brice before her death,” said the captain. “I would ask her three questions—no more. She may answer or not as she thinks fit.”
“But, Hauptmann!” said the troubled police officer, “would it not be better to see the exalted chief of the Naval Staff——”
“A Prussian?” said the captain, “and—what was that?”
There was a shuffling sound in the outer offices. He leapt to the door and tore it open. But the stolid-faced young Prussian was standing to attention, and as attentively staring through the open doorway.
“Did you move, pig?” roared the officer.
“No, Herr Hauptmann. I merely changed my position,” barked the man.
“Then stand still, you infernal thickhead!”
The officer came back to the private office and closed the door.
“He heard nothing,” he said in a lower voice. “Thunder-of-heaven! I am nervous—look, is that man still where he was?” He peered through the window. “No, he has gone—curse him! Watch that man, Weber—you will see him again. And now, as to the girl?”
The Police Councillor sat at his desk, a frown on his face.
“I can give you authority to see the woman. But she will not talk. We have tried in every way. Still—you may persuade her.”
“I will persuade her,” said the other grimly.
The Police Chief took two printed forms from a locked drawer, filled in the blanks, and signed them.
“This will secure you admission to the girl,” he said. “She is not in the town prison—we felt she must be kept apart. She is in the little gaol on the Holtenau Road.”
“She may be on the road to the devil,” said the officer humorously, “but I must see her.”
He exchanged salutes with the Police Councillor, and marched out, followed by his attendant.
It was observed by a policeman standing on duty outside the Deutsche Bank in Ringstrasse (this evidence he gave later before a commission of enquiry) that the officer and the soldier were followed at a respectful distance by a man who was not afterwards seen. It is on evidence that the Hauptmann von Sonnenberg was admitted through the western gate of the Holtenau Gaol, and that he was within the precincts of the gaol for half an hour. Ten minutes after he entered the mysterious man who had been shadowing him rang the electric bell by the side of the wicket gate, and was also admitted.
Certain events transpired which are best described by the principal actor. The police on duty in the vicinity of the gaol heard a succession of heavy explosions, and made their way with all speed in the direction of the sound. As they came to the wicket door it was opened, and an officer staggered out, supported by a nurse. His face and uniform were covered with blood. As he came out the door closed behind him.
The police officers crowded round him, and, though Captain von Sonnenberg was evidently seriously injured, he managed to gasp—“Quick, to the eastern gate. The prisoner has escaped!”
He leant against the wall, watching with half-closed eyes the men disappearing round the angle of the building. The nurse, gripping his arm, looked up into his face.
“Who are you?” she whispered.
“I haven’t got a card,” said the Hauptmann von Sonnenberg, “but in my service they call me John Dudley Frazer. Chuck away that Red Cross apron I put on you and jump for that car.”
He indicated a little car which stood by the side of the deserted side-walk. Five minutes later, when the police returned from their fruitless effort to obtain admission by the eastern gate (which had been closed for years), officer and nurse had disappeared.
A dozen searchlights pierced the darkness of the Schleswig coast, that night. A score of motor boats and destroyers searched in vain for a small collapsible boat which had been seen to steal away from the shore in the first hours of darkness, containing a man and a woman. But whilst the lights waved and probed the black night, Submarine Z1, with both motors going, was heading steadily westward at a depth of ninety feet, and the sound of distant depth bombs brought joy to the soul of Lieut. Ian Graham.
The girl sat on one of the lockers looking with interest at the young man who had risked so much, and Ian, free for a moment from the cares of navigation, was the third member of the audience.
“There’s only one way with a German,” said John Dudley Frazer, once more a respectable civilian, once more paring an apple with a silver knife, “and that is the violent way. I reckoned that the staff of the gaol was twenty. There was also a guard of four soldiers. But, Ian, if you had ever been into a big German pill box with fifty hairy Germans for a garrison you would know how effective is the little Mills bomb when properly applied. Man, they were scared sick. I practically walked out of the gate unmolested. You see, it was easy to get a disguise for Miss Brice. Any white apron with a red cross will transform the most human woman into something angelic. The blood and the nurse I knew would get me through the biggest crowd. It was rather a close call—the fight in the gaol. Weber had sent a police agent to shadow me, and he showed fight. It was very horrid, but very necessary.”
“But where did you pick up your soldier-attendant?”
Frazer laughed softly.
“Poor devil, he was going back to trenches from leave. I commandeered him—such is the compelling quality of a captain of Bavarian infantry—he was most useful. He was my cachet and passport. A solitary officer might have excited suspicion, but an officer with a puddin’-faced attendant was obviously the real thing.”
“But what induced him?”
“I gave him seven days’ extra leave,” said Frazer. “and if the Germans have got a sense of humour they will extend it to a month.”
The girl spoke for the first time.
“It hardly seems possible that I am safe,” she said wonderingly.
“Safe!” scoffed Frazer, looking up with a scornful smile. “Safe! You wait till that blood-thirsty devil in command of the Kallimachus catches sight of us!”
“WELL Frazer, had a good trip?”
John Dudley Frazer had been ushered into the big panelled room of the Minister of Intelligence, who rose with outstretched hand to greet the most trusted of his subordinates.
“Well, sir,” he said slowly, “it depends upon what you call a good trip. I have been into Germany, and I have collected the reports of the agents, which I suppose you received by telegram. I sent them off us soon as I landed.”
The Minister nodded.
“How are things in Germany?” he asked, seating himself and leaning back in his chair.
“Rotten, as usual,” said Frazer, taking a seat at the opposite side of the desk. “Really it is a wonderful thing to me how the German hangs on. He is hungry, he is tobacco-less, he is wearing paper clothing—his cupidity must be colossal.”
“It is the only thing that has kept him going for three years,” he said. “It is his belief that he is going to be well rewarded with huge indemnities and new tracts of country that sustains him.”
“I believe you are right,” said the Minister thoughtfully. “Did you find anything fresh?”
John Dudley Frazer frowned.
“I don’t know whether I did,” he said, after considering a moment. “As a rule I am not in doubt about my discoveries, but here I admit I am puzzled, and it is chiefly because I am puzzled and a little worried that I have come to see you.”
He looked round. The door was closed. Nevertheless he lowered his voice,
“Do you know Stemburg? It is a little village on the Baltic, and is chiefly interesting, from my point of view, because the private wire from the Great Headquarters of the German army to the headquarters of the German navy at Wilhelmshaven passes through. I don’t suppose half-a-dozen people in Germany are aware of the fact that amongst the dozen or so wires that sweep past that village is one which connects the Kaiser with his fleet. I found it out by accident some months ago, and now when I go to Germany, if I can spare the time, I make a trip to Stemburg to hear how things are going in the field. You can tap the wire six miles east of the village if you are careful. At this point it runs through a cutting in the wood which is usually deserted except for a couple of hours in the day, when it is patrolled by the rural police.
“I made my pilgrimage—it is really not very far from Wilhelmshaven—tapped the wire, and after some little time I heard messages passing to and fro. Mostly they referred to matters which are of no very great interest, promotions, requests that various officers should carry out certain duties, but after about an hour’s listening I heard this message.”
He took a note-book from his pocket, opened it, and read—
“‘We have sent 30 miles of red ribbon, 30 miles of yellow ribbon, and 30 miles of green ribbon to Bruges.’”
He paused, looking at his chief.
“Well?” said the Minister.
“The answer came immediately,” Frazer went on. “From Wilhelmshaven a voice which I think I recognised as the chief of the naval staff replied, ‘Yes, that is right. We have a similar quantity, but we are not sure whether this is the best method.’ ‘What do you suggest?’ said the voice at General Headquarters. Wilhelmshaven replied, ‘Small picket posts about two feet long with their tops painted red, yellow, and green.’ There was some silence as though the man at Great Headquarters was consulting somebody. ‘All right, if you can get the posts done in time.’ Wilhelmshaven said, ‘I can have them ready in a week, and half of them delivered in Bruges in nine days,’ to which Great Headquarters replied, ‘That will do.’”
He closed the book.
“I took a careful note of this conversation, which began and ended as I have said.”
“What do you make of it?” asked the Minister.
“What do you?” demanded Frazer.
The Minister laughed.
“It may be a very ordinary requisition. Heaven knows, they have some weird equipment, and probably they also have red, green, and yellow painted picket, posts.”
“That is fact number one,” said Frazer.
“Is there anything more?”
“I have not given the most serious item of news, which is that the German Navy has changed its code.”
“When did this happen?” asked the Minister sharply. “We have not been notified.”
“I have been notified all right. Graham picked me up off the Schleswig coast as usual, and we were coming gaily along on the surface, when we sighted a German destroyer, and sent her a wireless in the German naval code. ‘Proceeding on special service’. Her answer to that was to open fire, and immediately afterwards we caught her wireless message, which was wholly unintelligible to us. We didn’t wait for her, but Graham froze down, and we submerged P.D.Q. He dropped a few depth charges to speed us on our way, but none of them were anywhere near us. As soon as it got dark Graham came to the top. We were then about forty miles from the English coast. We put up our aerials, and began to receive the usual German messages. I say they were the usual, but I mean they were very unusual. Some of them I could read quite plainly, but none of the messages that we understood referred to the movement of ships.
When we got into Hullwich I saw the Naval Intelligence Officer. He told me he had taken several wires from German ships, but none that he could understand.”
“That is serious,” said the Minister. “What do you make of it?”
“I think there is some sort of stunt on. What it is I can only guess.”
Sir Walter Herbert shook his head.
“The code is a serious matter. I must notify the Admiralty at once,” he said. “I hate asking you to do it because I know they will be looking for you: but are you game to go back to Germany?”
“Sure. I wouldn’t have left if I had known about the code. I nearly stayed to discover what the pegs and the ribbons signified, but in my judgment the change of code makes it absolutely necessary that somebody should go back right away.”
An hour later he was speeding northward by special train. Submarine Z1 lay by her parent ship, and the commander of submarine Z1 was standing upon the turreted superstructure of the long grim craft consulting his watch when Frazer’s boat pulled alongside.
“I expected your wire,” said Graham as Frazer mounted the little steel ladder which led from the hull to the conning tower. “What does Intelligence say about the code?”
“Sick as death,” replied Frazer, with a grim little smile. “Have you heard any news?”
“The code is changed all right,” replied Graham. “One of our wireless stations has picked up a 2000-word message, not a single one of which they could understand. The change has been made in a hurry, too. The people here fished up a drowned submarine four days ago and recovered the code-book intact, and the change had not been made then. What are you going to do?”
“I am going to the Fatherland,” said Frazer, “to get hold of that code.”
“Do you think you will get it?” Frazer shook his head.
“Not in Germany,” he said quietly. “But if my suspicions are justified I shall get it after I leave Germany.”
Graham looked troubled.
“It’s rather a pity we are going back so soon,” he said. “That fellow has made too careful a study of the methods and habits of Z1 for my liking.”
He was referring to the German submarine which on three recent occasions had narrowly missed putting an end to the career of the Secret Service boat.
“U-78,” smiled Frazer. “Before I left London I went to the Naval Intelligence and made a few inquiries. It is commanded by Lt.-Capt. Koos, who has apparently promised the naval staff, that he will put an end to our traffic. Seriously. he is the only man we need fear, and because he is the only man we need fear,” he said with a glint in his eye, “he is the man who will serve our purpose best.”
As dusk was falling Z1 slipped out of the harbour and nosed her way into the grey seas.
It was known at Headquarters that Frazer maintained establishments as far apart as Breslau is from Bremen, and that in a dozen towns and villages he was known under some name or other, had a little circle of unsuspecting acquaintances, with whom he would sit in the evenings drinking his beer and playing skat. In one town he was known as a traveller. In another he was suspected of being a German police official. In Cleve  he was Herr Smidt—a Bavarian who came at odd intervals to drink from the Chalybeate Springs.
 Bad Cleve, now Kleve. The mineral springs that made this town a fashionable spa resort in the 19th Century ran dry in 1914.
The train from Cologne had come in and passed on toward the Dutch frontier when Frazer, with a battered grip in his hand, walked briskly from the direction of the station, along Hagsche Strasse, turned into the Lindenallee, passed the Tiergarten, and presently came to an ornate block of apartment buildings.
He opened the outer door with its iron grill and thick glass panels, mounted two flights of stairs, and knocked at a door. The door was opened by a girl, and for a moment the two stared at one another. He judged her to be about twenty-three, and she was undoubtedly pretty. Her white hands, her trim coiffure, the general stateliness of poise contrasted with the check apron she wore.
Now Frazer had not expected to meet a beautiful young woman in his flat. He had left it in charge of Martha, and Martha was short, stout, asthmatic and was delightfully deaf.
“Herr Smidt,” said the girl with a smile, “I have surprised you. Let me take your bag.”
She took the grip from his hand, opened the door, and he passed in.
“My aunt is ill,” she said. “and I have taken her place.”
“How long have you been here, Fräulein?” asked Frazer amiably.
“For three weeks, Herr Smidt. I hope you don’t mind, but my aunt was very ill, and she did not like to leave your apartment without a caretaker. She knows that you might arrive at any moment. ‘Minna,’ she said, ‘Herr Smidt may be away for twelve months or for two years, but you must be always here to meet him when he comes.”
“I hope your good aunt will recover,” he said, “but I am pleased that she has sent so charming a substitute.”
“I must telephone, because it will be necessary that we shall have bread for you tomorrow,” she said, and moved to a squat little telephone which stood upon a writing-table in the comfortably-furnished room.
“It is unnecessary, Fräulein,” said Frazer.
She put her hand on the ’phone.
“It is unnecessary, Fräulein,” he repeated evenly. “Pray, make me some coffee.”
He invited her to the meal. At first she was reluctant, but this reluctance he overcame, and they talked on a variety of subjects until, with a glance at the clock, the girl rose.
“Your bed is made, Herr Smidt.” she said. “To-morrow you would like some coffee?”
“At seven o’clock,” said Frazer
He heard her patter along the passage, heard her door open and close, and the snap of the key. Then he went to his own room, which opened off the sitting-room, but he did not go to bed. He extinguished the light, changed his boots for soft felt slippers, pulled up a chair so that he secured through the open door a view, not only of a part of the dining-room, but of the door leading to the passage where Minna’s room was situated.
It was half past twelve when he heard the faint click of a key being turned in a lock. From beneath the closed door leading to the passage he caught the flash of a light. Presently the door opened, the rays from an electric hand-lamp illuminated one corner of the table and the back of a chair, and in its reflected light he caught a glimpse of a figure.
The girl was fully dressed, wearing a long, dark travelling coat. She stepped noiselessly across the room to the door opening upon the hall, and her hand was on the knob when Frazer switched on the light. She looked round with a startled expression.
“You are not going out at this time of night, gnädiges Fräulein?” he said in smiling astonishment.
Now. “gnädiges Fräulein” is a phrase which is never employed toward a servant. It is the conventional, polite address which one uses to one’s equals and superiors of the opposite sex.
“Herr Smidt, I must go,” she said at last in a tone of desperation. “I am frightened—I didn’t realise that I should be alone in the apartment with you. It is not respectable.”
“Even from that embarrassment I can relieve you, Fräulein,” he said, “for I can go into the street and walk about.”
“But I—I—have an appointment,” she insisted.
He looked at her with mock reproof.
“An appointment at half past twelve! Impossible!”
She waited a moment irresolutely, then turned and walked to the door. In two strides he was at her side. Firmly he swung her back to the room, shut the door, and locked it. She retreated to the other side of the table, and looked at him with eyes which for the first time showed a sign of fear.
“You have a locket and chain about your neck,” he said. “I see the chain, but the locket is out of sight. Give it to me,” he said sternly.
Without a word she removed the thin gold chain and handed it to him. At its end dangled a flat silver locket the size of a shilling.
With skilful fingers he opened it, and after a glance handed it back.
“I see your name is Minna Schumacher, and you are a member of the Imperial German Secret Service.”
She gave one glance at the window, as though meditating some desperate means of escape.
“If you scream or attempt to break that window or attract attention in any way,” said Frazer calmly, “I shall shoot you.”
“What do you want?” asked the girl quietly.
“I want a lot of things,” said Frazer. “In the first place, I want to tell you how foolish your superiors are to send a girl like you to this apartment to pose as a servant. I knew you for what you were the moment I saw you.”
“And I knew you,” she said. “Your name is Dudley, and you are an English Intelligence Officer.”
“British is the word you want,” corrected Frazer, “and you are very nearly right. I presume they suspected me, removed the unfortunate Martha, and left you to give word of my return, and when you went to the telephone you intended putting through a trunk call. To Cologne?”
“Right again,” said Frazer.
He looked at her speculatively.
“I didn’t expect you, but I thought the police would be on my track.”
“You cannot escape,” said the girl.
Her lips curled in a sneer. They sat facing one another—Frazer’s revolver before him. He took out his gold case absent-mindedly, extracted a cigarette, lit it, closed the case, and was putting it back when he stopped himself.
“I suppose it is no use asking you whether you smoke,” he said. “A German woman isn’t sufficiently emancipated.”
For answer she reached out her hand. He opened the case, and she selected one.
“I did you an injustice,” said Frazer, as he struck a match and lit the cigarette for her. “Now I will take you into my confidence. I have come to Germany to secure a copy of the new naval code.”
“That we suspected,” said the girl calmly. “So you see we are not such fools, Herr Dudley.”
“I am going to get that code,” Frazer went on. “In half an hour’s time I shall have left Cleve.”
“It is so funny to hear you talk like that,” she said, speaking in perfect English, and looking at him with her big grey eyes while puffing slowly at the cigarette. “I know you are going to be shot, and yet I don’t feel a scrap of pity for you. I suppose it’s the soldier-blood in me. My father commands the 94th Brigade, and I feel as he felt when war broke out and he invaded a new country and followed the red ribbon.”
Frazer caught his breath.
“Followed the red ribbon,” he said carelessly. “I don’t quite get you.”
“Don’t you know?” she smiled. “I thought you had learnt something of our organisation and system. When we invade a new country like Belgium or like Roumania we put red ribbons along the telegraph lines from pole to pole on the roads where the infantry must march, and yellow ribbons on the roads where the artillery go.
“And green ribbons for the cavalry, I suppose,” said Frazer huskily.
“And I suppose a green or a red or a yellow stick inserted at intervals along the roadside would serve the same purpose.”
“I suppose it would,” said the girl in surprise.
“I see.” He threw away his cigarette.
“I advise you to take another,” she said; “you haven’t a very long time you know.”
“I have all the time I want, and I do not want to smoke those cigarettes. You see, all except the one I chose, are drugged.”
She half-rose to her feet, but his hand shot across the table, and pressed her back to the chair, and she was surprised at her own weakness. She was conscious too, of a deliciously sleepy feeling, and fought against it.
He carried her to a sofa, loosened the collar at her throat, and laid her down. He went into his room and found a pillow, which he pushed under her head. She was sleeping now. He looked at his watch. It was one o’clock. From his grip he took no more than a small flask. He changed his slippers for shoes, and throwing his overcoat over his arm he opened the door, and made his way into the black night.
He was opposite the Kirchhof when he heard the tramp of martial feet and drew into the shadow. He watched a detachment of soldiers swinging past in the direction he had left. He had not made his escape too soon, for in the wake of the soldiers he discerned the helmeted figures of three policemen.
He was still tied to Cleve, however. Not until two o’clock could he take his departure. He made his way by a circuitous route to the north of the town, reached a little wood, sat down, and waited. When the phosphorescent hands of the clock pointed to a quarter to two he took a small electric lamp from his pocket, to which was attached a tiny Morse sounder. He tested the battery, and the lamp emitted a green glow.
Five minutes later he heard the drone of an aeroplane overhead. It was the British machine he had arranged should fly over Cleve every morning until further orders, and his little electric lamp began flashing out his message to the skies.
Presently it was finished and a flicker of light in the sky where the invisible aeroplane circled, told him that he had been understood. The lamp he stowed away in his pocket. Groping about in the bushes he discovered the motor-bicycle which had brought him to Cleve; he had timed his arrival to coincide with the arrival of the train, and a few minutes later he was buzzing northward along the hilly road which follows the Dutch frontier.
Lt.-Capt. Koos, commanding U-78 received in common with other U-boat and destroyer commanders an order to remain at “the alert.” The exact wording of the message he received was:—
“Dangerous spy. Dudley alias Smidt will attempt leave Fresian coast this morning by motor boat. He must be arrested or destroyed. Submarines will remain submerged, and a careful watch will be kept through the periscope. Destroyers will open fire at once, the motor boat being very fast and likely to elude pursuit.—(Signed) Boelke, Chief of Naval Staff.”
At 7.42, fifty-five miles west of Heligoland, Lt.-Capt. Koos saw a large motor boat which was evidently in difficulties, and still remaining submerged, he moved in its direction.
The boat had stopped, and the figure of a man was discernible tinkering at the engines.
“It is the man,” said Lieut.-Captain Koos exultantly, and broke surface.
In an incredibly short space of time the hatch was opened, the forward gun breeched and loaded, and the collapsible boat was put away. Frazer accepted his capture philosophically. He stepped up on to the whaleback hull of the German submarine and faced its commander.
“What is your name and what are you doing in these waters?” demanded Lieut.-Captain Koos.
“My name is John Frazer, or, as you call me, Dudley. I am a member of the British Intelligence Department, and I am making my escape from Germany.”
“Soh!” said the delighted commander. “Soh! So we haf you, my friend! For a long time I have waited for you. A promise I made to the Great Staff, and now I haf you.”
“Whether you haf me or I have you, I am not quite certain,” said Frazer, “I can only ask you one question, lieutenant. Have you ever heard of a Q-boat?”
“I have heard of a Q-boat. It is a decoy ship,” said the German.
Frazer nodded and pointed to the grey motor launch.
“That is a Q-boat, and that,” he pointed to the water, “is a Z-boat.”
The German followed the direction of his outstretched finger and stepped back with a gasp. There had come into view not fifty yards distant a long, grey periscope, and the commander knew that hidden torpedo tubes were aimed straight at the vitals of his craft.
Though they had searched him carefully on reaching the submarine a Browning was in Frazer’s hand, and its muzzle was pointed to the commander’s belt
“If you move or any of your men move I will shoot you. Stand away from that gun.”
Then up to view came the hull of Z1, the water streaming from her grey sides and Lieutenant Captain Koos, recognising his helplessness, put up his hands.
It was not until the British bluejackets were aboard and the crew of the German submarine were mustered aft under the guns of Z1 that Commander Koos remembered something and went white, but Frazer was already in the interior of the German vessel breaking open lockers, examining papers and books, and presently he reappeared on the deck, his arms filled with the interesting literature.
There was a blur of smoke on the horizon and quickly the documents were transferred to the British craft, and she backed away.
“I should have liked to have taken you to England, but I have no accommodation,” sang Frazer through the megaphone. “If you can swim you had better swim. The motor-boat will hold your crew until you are picked up.”
He uttered a sharp, rapid warning, which reached the ears of the furthermost and the dullest man, and instantly the sea was filled with swimming figures making for the motor-boat.
The last man had reached the grey launch as the Z1 began to submerge. It was when the periscope alone was above water that Graham, manœuvering to the German’s flank, pressed an electric button. There was a moment’s silence, and then a hideous roar, as the Z1’s torpedo struck the German submarine amidships. With a glance to see if the German crew were safe and another glance southward to the approaching German destroyers Frazer gave the order:—
“Submerge to 80 feet, course North, North by West.”
When Graham came forward to the officers’ quarters Frazer was writing the telegram which he would despatch immediately on his arrival in England, and in that laconic narrative was revealed something of his method and that system of organisation of which he was a master.
From Frazer, Hullwich, to Minister of Intelligence. London.
I have every reason to believe, as reported to liaison aeroplane at Cleve on the 4th instant, an invasion of Britain is contemplated. My object in going to Cleve was to arouse suspicion. I had intended telephoning the Cologne police that I was in the country, in order that a vigilant watch should be kept on the coast, more especially by the Commander of U-78. I left the German Coast at 3 a.m. in a motor launch supplied by Intelligence Officer K75, picked up Secret Service Submarine Z1 at an appointed rendezvous. I then cruised about in the motor boat in the hope of being sighted by U-78, which I knew to be in the neighbourhood. I was followed by Z1 at a distance.
He finished his telegram by a short description of the capture of the submarine.
“Of course.” he said to Graham as the lights of England came into view, and they stood upon the tiny conning-tower together—“of course, the German will change his code, and that will delay his plan.”
“Do you think he will attempt the invasion?”
“Undoubtedly,” said Frazer.
Frazer scratched his head.
“I am going to run down to London tonight to see the chief,” he said; “then I am going back into Germany to discover. I have got an idea that they have a remarkable plan this time.”
And in this he was not far wrong.
THE little party which gathered about the big library table of Sir Walter Herbert, Minister of Intelligence, did not include a single figure with which the average Briton would be familiar. Yet these chiefs of departments—they included an old friend of ours in Major Haynes—were discussing the fate of the kingdom and possibly that of the empire.
“This seems certain,” said Sir Walter slowly, tapping a memorandum before him with the end of his pen, “an invasion either on the small or on the grand scale is to be attempted. The date of that attempt is unknown. The method by which it will he carried into effect is unknown. Obviously the Hun is playing for a big stake, and just as obviously we must take counter-measures without disturbing the fleet.”
There was a chorus of agreement.
“I suppose there are a lot of people in Britain,” said Sir Walter with a smile. “who think that at the first hint of invasion the grand fleet will come hammering down into the narrow seas.”
“The Hun couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Haynes. “I suppose you have no idea whatever as to when the attempt will be made, Frazer?”
Frazer shook his well groomed head.
“There’s no chance of getting a warning through as soon as the German sails?” asked Ferguson, of the Naval Intelligence.
“None whatever,” said Frazer. “Of course, I shall be in Germany, I hope, in a few days, but it is extremely unlikely that I shall be able to give you any warning. The ships will wait with steam up probably far from land. They will provide against the reconnaissance of our light cruisers by filling the seas with submarines. In fact,” he smiled, “it’s going to be a bit of a job to get back, and Graham is by no means pleased with the prospect of our next little trip.”
There was a silence which Sir Walter broke.
“I believe Frazer’s idea is the only idea,” he said. “We can’t afford to take a chance nor allow as much as a single German platoon to land on these shores, not because it would upset our people, but because it would provide just the moral stimulation which the German requires at this moment. Our coast defence craft may do all that is necessary in the shape of keeping the Huns at bay and yet allow two or three thousand men to land. Those two or three thousand may be destroyed and still the moral damage may be done.”
“You think then that Frazer’s idea will work?”
Haynes nodded again.
“I think it is a pretty scheme,” he said. “I know something of German mentality, but Frazer has forgotten a thousand times more than I have learnt. He knows the whole machinery of German officialdom. I suppose you are already at work on the things?”
“I have great hopes myself,” he said. “Of course, anything may turn up to stop my scheme going through. Der Allerhöchste himself might turn up and give the show away.”
 Der Allerhöchster: "All-Highest," i.e., Kaiser Wilhelm II.]7
“It is unlikely.” Sir Walter shook his head. “He is at Plesse having his throat tinkered.”
“Plesse, is he?” said Frazer, with a new interest. “By Jove! That’s excellent. As to the—things,” he smiled at the mystery, “they were finished this morning. I brought one here to show you.” He took from his pocket a flat leather case and opened it, and they crowded round the table to see this new decoration which British ingenuity had invented.
The case was stamped in gold with a “W” and an Imperial Crown, and inside, lying in its bed of white satin, was a neat iron cross, differing only from the iron cross of reality in respect of its ribbon, which was of fine wire woven in the conventional black and white pattern.
“There it is, gentlemen,” said Frazer, with satisfaction, “the iron cross with the iron ribbon—the newest and certainly the rarest of the Prussian decorations.”
“It is a beauty,” said Haynes. “I’d like one as a souvenir.”
“Take this one,’’ said Frazer, snapping the case and handing it across the table with a smile, “and now I think gentlemen, I will go. Graham is waiting for me, his tin fish quivering with excitement.”
They shook hands with him and watched him depart, a trim, straight figure, wholly debonair and careless, yet with the fate of forty million people upon his shoulders
For reasons which need not be explained, at the moment the Z1 pursued an erratic course to the east, and a worried Graham standing by his gyroscopic compass, with all his tanks trimmed for diving at the first alarm, heartily cursed the ingenuity of his friend.
Fortunately it was a calm night, and the sky was brilliant with stars. Only once had the Z1 to dive and that to avoid a German patrol boat off the Frisian Islands. But even that experience was the reverse to pleasant, for as they lay doggo on the floor of the sea they heard the distant thud of a depth bomb, and knew that they had been sighted.
“Fritz is a bit nervous,” said Graham. “We don’t usually meet three patrols so far from his base.”
“I only saw one,” said Frazer.
“There are three all right,” he said cheerfully. “There is one directly ahead, one standing in close to the shore, and one crossing our track.”
He gave an order, and the purring electric dynamos ceased.
“Sit down and don’t speak above a whisper,” he said, in a low voice. “Stow all tools aft. Mr Jackson,” he instructed his subordinate. “See that the men don’t move for twenty minutes.”
“Is that necessary?” asked Frazer.
“With the new microphones both sides are using you can hear men talking in a submarine half a mile away. You can hear a spanner dropped on the floor two miles away, and that distinctly.”
They sat in dead silence for a quarter of an hour, then suddenly overhead, and against the outer skin of the submarine, they heard a dull, scraping noise, aa if a chain were being dragged over the submarine bark.
“They’re dragging for us,” whispered Graham.
He beckoned his subordinate, who came noiselessly in his felt-soled boots.
“Stand by the engines. Get ready to move,” he said.
They waited tensely for a quarter of an hour, but the sound was not repeated, nor did the expected crash of a depth charge shake the little vessel.
Graham was listening intently at a small apparatus which looked like a telephone. Two earpieces were clamped to his head and he was listening with closed eyes.
Presently— “She’s gone away,” he said. “I can hear her propellers.”
Five minutes later the Z1 also was under way, and when a little before the dawn her periscope nosed cautiously above the grey seas there was not a ship in sight.
Carefully Graham manœuvred the submarine, turning in a wide circle at slow speed. When the eastern skies grew pale he straightened his ship and sent her forward at full speed.
“That’s Heligoland right ahead of us.” he said. “We are on the edge of the mine-field, but we’ll have to take a risk. Unless they have laid a few more eggs in these waters we ought to be in a fairly clear channel.”
As the sun rose he stopped his engines. He was now to the south of the famous island, and he began a careful scrutiny of the seas, but more particularly towards the mainland.
Presently he left the periscope, took from a polished wooden box a large lens and fitted it.
“There they are,” he said.
Frater looked. Clearly discernible against the low-lying foreshore were line upon line of curiously assorted ships.
“They have dug out the museum,” said Graham, with a whistle.
Frazer looked and nodded.
“They certainly have,” he said. “Why, all the obsolete vessels in the German navy are here! There’s the Grier, the Falke—what’s that fellow with the three masts?”
“The Seeadler, or one of her class,” said Graham, taking a hasty look.
“There’s the Sperber,” Fraser went on, “and the Schwalbe, and a fellow with three funnels, is it the Gefion?”
Again Graham looked.
“It’s too small for the Gefion: it’s the Greif. I think. There’s the Gefion leading the third line.”
The two men looked at one another.
“Why has Fritz dug out all these weird craft?” asked Fraser.
Graham shook his head, and turned again to the telescopic sight of the periscope. He looked long and earnestly, and at last he whistled.
“Look who’s here,” he breathed. “at the end of the fourth line nearest to the shore, and flying some sort of command flag.”
“She’s a new one to me. I don’t recognise her. Clipper-bowed, she looks like a yacht. Surely der Allerhöchste isn’t leading his cripples to victory.”
“That’s the Nautilus,” said Graham grimly. “And now I can solve the mystery.”
“What is the Nautilus?”
“The Nautilus is one of their crack mine layers, and that is a mine-laying fleet.”
“You can see what is going to happen,” Graham went on. “At the word ‘Go’ this fleet will steam out and run a line of mines from the German coast to the British coast. Protected by those mines, the German convoys will steam straight for England. Probably something of the same sort will happen farther south. The sooner I land you with your bag o’ tricks the better. What are you going to do? Violate the territory of an outraged neutral or walk through the new minefield?”
“I think we will take the minefield for it,” said Frazer cheerfully. “I have got a feeling my luck’s in.”
In the dark hours of the night a watcher on the Schleswig coast was hailed in fluent German.
“Keep your eyes open to-night, my friend, there’s an enemy submarine close to the shore.”
“Yes, Herr,” roared the man through his megaphone in the direction from whence the hail came. “What is your Excellency’s name who warns me?”
“Don’t ask questions, pig,” came the reply, and the watcher, realising that he was talking to a perfect Prussian gentleman, sought no further information.
By the time he had reported the occurrence to his superiors Frazer had landed, carrying a small black bag which was remarkably heavy.
None questioned Mr Frazer when he slung his bag at the foot of the decrepit porter at the Hotel Alberti, which is situated opposite to the Bremen railway station, or doubted his bona fides when be signed with a flourish in the visitors’ book and upon the police identification leaflet the good old name of Schmidt.
He was a hydraulic engineer, and he had come to Bremen after a painful journey in connection with certain dredging operations which were being conducted on the River Weser. He had all his food cards, his bread, fat, sugar, milk, and potato tickets, he had his passports (which he had already shown at the police office in the Rathaus). He had his permission to travel and trade, which he had displayed before the proper official at the Schütting. He had a draft of credit on the Disconto-Gesellschaft—in fact, he was as well-equipped a traveller as had ever entered the portals of the Alberti.
 Rathaus: Town Hall.
 Schütting: The building housing the Bremen Chamber of Commerce.
 Disconto-Gesellschaft: At that time one of a the largest German bnnks. Founded in 1851, merged with the Deutsche Bank in 1929.
Bremen in ordinary times is a most prosperous town, a town of bustle and noise, of thronged streets and restless traffic.
“Ah,” said the flabby proprietor, shaking his head, when Mr Schmidt remarked with a sigh upon the change which had come over the town since his last visit. “Ach! This cursed war! Bremen is ruined, Herr Schmidt. Oh, if only the English Navy was at the bottom of the sea!”
“It will revive,” said Herr Schmidt soothingly. “Some day when the British navy is sunk and these Mammon-worshippers have poured their millions of golden sovereigns into our good German treasury Bremen will be itself again.”
But the lugubrious proprietor shook his head.
“That will never be, believe me, Herr Schmidt,” he moaned. “We are done for. Kaputt! What good has Russia done us if we have not the sea? Answer me that. Where are all the beautiful ships that used to come into Bremen from New York? Ach! They are in the hands of the pig-dog Americans, and are carrying troops for them. Bremen is finished. We shall all be ruined. Why, most of the great merchants here are already bankrupt, Herr Schmidt. All the big hotels are in the hands of receivers. You are the first not officially dressed civilian I have seen for a month. There are plenty of officers and plenty of sailors, but they have no money. But,” he brightened visibly, and struck the side of his large nose with his forefinger, “much may happen soon, Herr Schmidt. I could say many things, for I am well thought of by the officers.”
“Ah!” said Herr Schmidt cunningly, “what stories you could tell!”
“Indeed, that is true,” said the complacent proprietor. “There is much that is happening that very few people know about. Perhaps next week we shall have glorious news.”
“Next week?” said Mr Schmidt.
“Well, perhaps not next week, but very soon,” said the proprietor, and Herr Schmidt did not press his inquiries for fear of exciting suspicion.
He went for a little walk on the afternoon of his arrival, and passing through the Marktplatz he paused to survey the big Gothic Rathaus. He stood idly, in an attitude which is peculiar to the idler, with one hand clasping a lamp-post., and then went on. Had the policeman been suspicious and followed him, using his eyes the while, he would have noticed that where Mr Schmidt’s hand had touched the lamp-post he had left a little green gummed wafer, the size of a sixpence affixed to the fluted column.
After a while he walked back to his hotel, and dropped another green wafer by the side of the steps which led up to the lobby. Then he went to his room, and was reported by the aged chamber maid to be deeply immersed in books of a scientific character.
He was sipping a cup of Ersatz coffee without sugar or milk when the porter knocked at his door.
“Herr Schmidt,” he said, “are you expecting Herr Water-Work Inspector Keller?”
“Oh, yes,” said Herr Schmidt beaming: “show him up.”
Herr Water-Work Inspector Keller was a man of middle age, with a long melancholy beard, and he carried under his arm a black portfolio. They bowed to each other three times, little rapid bows, which exactly indicated the equality of their social stations.
“Come in. Herr Keller and sit down,” said Herr Schmidt. “I hope the new pump is going satisfactorily.”
“So-so, Herr Schmidt,’ said the other mournfully as the porter closed the door behind him.
“Come to the window,” said Herr Schmidt.
The visitor walked to his side. The window was closed hermetically after the manner of all German windows.
“I saw your totem opposite the Rathaus,” said Herr Keller in a low tone and speaking in English. “I was on my way to the Hotel Europe. I thought you would go there, but I saw jour green wafer outside the Alberti. What do you want?”
“What game is the fleet going to try?” asked Frazer.
“I am not quite certain. The big thing is being worked from Cuxhaven, but the mine-layers are going out from here.”
“Have you a list of them,” asked Frazer, “and their commanders?”
Keller nodded. He had been born with the name of Frith, but had almost forgotten the fact.
“I can give you a list of them all,’’ he said, and opened his portfolio. “In fact, I have been expecting the arrival of somebody in the service to collect the names.”
He drew out a thin sheet of paper and passed it to the other. Frazer handled it carefully. He knew it was chemically prepared, and that he had but to wet the calcium preparation at one corner for the little sheet to burst into flame and consume itself in the wink of an eye.
He placed it in his pocket book before he spoke again.
“There’s one more question I want to ask you,” he said. “With every award of the Iron Cross a special certificate is issued?”
The other nodded.
“Has it been altered in its wording in any shape or form?”
“It is curious you should ask that,” smiled Keller. “One of my men at the water works showed me the certificate his son received only this morning. No alteration has been made.”
“Good,” said Frazer heartily. “And now I think you have been here long enough.”
The other man shook hands. He did not ask what was his superior’s purpose. Those questions are very seldom put in the Secret Service. He bowed himself out for the benefit of the observant chambermaid—in Germany all hotel servants are spies—and left the hotel.
The house was wrapped in silence and all the honest inhabitants were in bed and sleeping when Frazer got to work. First of all, he locked the door, and excluded every chink of light from the window. Then, with the aid of an electric lamp, he explored the bottom of his bag. From the false bottom he produced a sheaf of papers and envelopes and fifty of the little flat cases he had displayed at the conference.
There were others in his pocket, and these he also brought to light. The letters and the little printed forms were already written, and he need only fill in the names. From time to time consulting the paper which “Keller” had left, he began his work. The letter which accompanied each decoration was the same, and bore the sprawling signature, “Wilhelm, Rex Imperator.”
It began:—“To the Well-Born Lieutenant-Captain.” (Here Frazer inserted a name from the list.) “Desiring to reward the intrepid valour of those gallant members of my Imperial Navy who are undertaking a most hazardous and valiant enterprise, I make you the recipient of the new Order which I have instituted to mark this great occasion, the Order of the Iron Cross of the Iron Ribbon. It is my wish that no statement shall be made of this award until after the enterprise is concluded, and that each recipient shall go into action wearing this mark of my Imperial confidence upon his breast. No reference, official or unofficial, must be made of this award, and the Cross must under no circumstances be displayed until the enterprise develops.” (Here followed the signature.)
“Keller’s” list was a very thorough one. It included the captain, the navigating officer, and the second in command. For the captain of each ship was an added paragraph which ran:—
“Desiring also that all ranks, however humble, shall participate in this award, I instruct you to pin upon the bosom of the helmsman of your ship the supplementary Cross which I enclose.”
It was getting light when all the envelopes were addressed and sealed. When he had finished Frazer produced a small mailbag which he had brought to Bremen about his waist, inserted the letters, carefully sealed the bag with the Imperial eagle, and lay down for a few hours’ rest.
At twelve noon the mail train arrived at the Hauptbahnhof. The rear three vans carried the mails, and an interested spectator of their removal was Herr Schmidt, who stood watching the bags being thrown from the truck to the platform and from the platform to the delivery van. He carried over his arm a big overcoat, and managed to stray amidst the bags, as onlookers sometimes will, until he was ordered back by an officious man in uniform. It was whilst bowing his apologies that he released from the screening overcoat and let drop his little mail bag amongst the rest. It was addressed to the Chief Commander of the Nautilus, and he did not doubt but it would find its way to its destination.
 Hauptbahnhof: Central Railway Station
“This is where I pull out,” said Frazer to himself as he made his way back to the hotel, paid his bill, and took the outgoing train for Jutland.
Of his adventures thenceforward, of how he was arrested and detained and made his escape, of how he was shot at by coast watchers as he pulled from the Schleswig shore and was finally picked up by the Z1 half dead, and of how the Z1 itself was chased for fifty miles by a fast destroyer flotilla, it is not necessary at this point to describe. Yet the Z1 was not homeward bound; her work was not yet done. She picked up a submarine flotilla somewhere off the Tyne and patrolled southward to Hullwich.
Here Frazer had a long telephone conversation with London.
“I can get no information as to when the invasion is timed for,” he said, “but I am pretty well certain they are all ready and waiting for the first misty night, which looks like being to-night. The North Sea is stiff with German submarines, and the flotilla has been chasing and fighting them since sun-up.”
“I think it will be to-night too,” said Sir Walter’s voice. “If their plan will only miscarry this time the invasion will never be attempted again. We are putting down a new mine field to cover that dangerous sector. Everything depends on how your scheme works to-night.”
Frazer went back to the boat, confident that he would witness the development of his plan. It was an excellent plan, but even the most excellent schemes have a way of miscarrying, and it was a very anxious young man who stood on the conning tower of the Z1 that night trying to pierce the mists which hung like a curtain over the seas.
Had he been farther south he might have witnessed the splendid dash of the British squadrons battling their way into the harbour mouth of Middelburg and effectively closing that exit with concrete-laden derelicts. As it was he was destined to see something even more picturesque.
In the early hours of the morning a muffled report came from the east, followed by another. The submarine flotilla edged cautiously eastward. Toward the morning the mist began to rise, and at four o’clock ahead of them on the horizon they saw a brilliant fan-shaped flash of light, and a few minutes later heard the boom of the explosion. Almost instantly came another crash, and another farther north, and Frazer danced a little dance of joy upon the limited space of the look-out.
At daybreak they picked up wreckage to which two or three German sailors were clinging and hauled them on board. There was no other sign of a German ship. The men could only give an incoherent account of their experience. They were out on a secret mine-laying trip, and had blundered into their own mine field, so far as they knew. They had seen other ships blow up but did not know why. They were very cold and very frightened, but Frazer extracted enough information to realise that his plan had succeeded.
Later he was called to Whitehall to interview a very important political personage, the same political personage being in somewhat of a funk at the narrowness of the margin which had separated Britain from invasion.
“I may be very dense, Mr Frazer,” he said, “but still I do not understand why your distribution of Iron Crosses to the officers of the mine-laying ships brought their destruction. I realise that it was very gallant of you to penetrate again into Germany, and very ingenious, too, but why did the crosses with the iron ribbon produce those amazing results?”
“It was very simple, sir,” he said, “the crosses were made to my orders, and they were made of very soft iron. The ribbon were also of fine soft iron. Knowing the German’s love for theatricality I did not doubt that when those ships set out on their difficult and dangerous missions, each officer who had received the award would be strutting on the deck with the cross pinned to his chest, and that the sailor at the wheel would also be decorated and proud of the fact.”
“Yes, yes,” said the Minister.
“Perhaps you don’t understand what mine-laying means. If you don’t, I’ll enlighten you sir,” said Frazer. “For a squadron of mine-layers to operate in the dark it is absolutely necessary that they should keep a true course, so that one does not blunder upon the mines of the other. Each of those Iron Crosses was powerfully magnetised before I left England. They were such powerful magnets that not one of those who wore them could go anywhere near the compass without affecting it. The consequence was that each ship blundered in its course. Some struck the mines which others had laid. Some wandered off into the mine-fields north-west of Heligoland. In the mist it is almost impossible to keep station except by compass-bearing, and I guess most of the compasses started going wrong almost as soon as the ships left their moorings.”
The accuracy of this surmise was proved the morning after the “raid,” when a disconsolate German mine-layer was discovered making for home for all it worth.
The mine-layer stopped on the signal of a destroyer, and the mine-layer captain surrendered gracefully.
“But,” he demanded of the destroyer captain, “what are you doing close to Heligoland, and why are our guns not firing?” he pointed to the shore.
“That, my bonny lad,” said the British Lieut.-Commander, “is Hartlepool—heard of it?”
So they brought the prisoner ashore, beaten but defiant, for on his breast did there not glitter the newest of German Orders, the Iron Cross of the Iron Ribbon?
JOHN DUDLEY FRAZER had a grievance, and voiced it to the first confidante he could find. As he had only one person to whom he really unbosomed the secrets of his soul, and that person his immediate chief, it was to Sir Walter Herbert, Minister of Intelligence, that he exposed his disturbed state of mind.
“There are about twelve ways of getting into Germany,” he said, “but the only one which never keeps me awake at night is just south of the Bismarck Beacon, on the Schleswig Coast.”
“Why this burst of confidence?” smiled Sir Walter.
“I shan’t be able to use it any more, that’s all. Unhappily I came across an officer on my last get-away, a big, blustering, hard-swearing, tough specimen of a Prussian, and I am afraid I shot him up.”
“Did you kill him?” asked Sir Walter, cold-bloodedly.
“I regret to inform you that I didn’t. That’s the tragic part about it. I left him alive, and barely got away with my own life. I may have lost my head. You see, I was rather worried about the invasion.”
“Oh, that’s when it was, eh?”
“Of course, there are other ways in, but I have a special affection for that particular route. There is always a thick-headed German sailor goose-stepping up and down the cliff path, and he invariably hails me, and I invariably return him this hail, and I shall feel quite lonesome if I have to go ashore on any other part of the coast.”
Sir Walter stroked his beard thoughtfully.
“You .are not worried about going back Io Germany?”
“Not in the slightest,” said the other cheerfully. “Why? Are you expecting me to go back soon?”
Sir Walter nodded.
“What do you make of that?” he asked.
“That” was a green postcard which he had taken from a drawer and laid on his desk before Frazer. The young man took the card up. It needed but a glance to see that it was one of those postcards which prisoners of war are allowed to send to their relatives. The postmark was Crefeld, and the little space at the side told that it came from Captain Curtun, of the 31st Royal Somerset Yeomanry.
“Can I read this?”
There was not very much to be read. It simply said that the sender was in good health, and that he had received some parcels.
Frazer turned it over. It was addressed to Mrs Curtun; High Byfield, Somerset.
“It came in the ordinary way, and seems a pretty ordinary postcard.”
“Very ordinary,” said Frazer; “but I presume that it holds a deadly secret.”
He held it up to the light close to the electric burner, and passed it along several times until the surface was warm. Then he looked at it again.
“Invisible ink,” he said. “Will it warm out?”
“Give it a little time,” said Sir Walter.
Frazer put the postcard again before the lamp, and presently the writing was discernible, and he read—
“Notify M.I. 24B important and serious developments. Heard Ranger arrested by Minna Schumacher. Duplicate summaries Germany’s secret casualty list are behind brick in fire-well of empty room, third floor, Domstrasse 75, Koln. K.2.”
He put down the postcard.
“How did this come into our hands?”
“Providentially,” said Sir Walter. “In other words, in the ordinary course of business. We test most of the letters coming out of Germany to find if there is anything new. Captain Curtun, so far as we know, is not an intelligence officer, and has done no intelligence work. That message, however, has evidently been written by somebody in the Secret Service. I heard by wireless that Ranger had been arrested in Düsseldorf yesterday, so really this confirms the news which must have been old when our operator wirelessed it.”
“Who could have sent it?”
“You notice that it is signed K2,” said Sir Walter. “That is the number of Bristow, one of our men who disappeared in the interior of Germany two years ago. He may be in an internment camp, or he may be acting as an interpreter or a censor for the Germans, and, the postcard passing through our hands, he relied upon the knowledge of our method for the message getting through to Military Intelligence. He could easily write across any postcard that came into his hands, or might even supply an apparently blank postcard to somebody who was writing home. At any rate, there’s the message.”
Frazer rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
“I say, that would be rather a coup, wouldn’t it? The summary of the German losses. Of course, we know they never put their real losses into their casualty lists. M.I. has proved that time and time again.”
“I think we might try, don’t you?” asked Sir Walter. “There are one or two other little matters I want cleared up in Germany. For example, I would like to know what has happened to—oh, by the way, who is Minna Schumacher. I seem to remember the name?”
Frazer chuckled as at a pleasant memory.
“She is rather interesting,” he said, “and rather pretty. In fact, she is the only pretty Hun I have ever seen. I wonder how she got poor old Ranger? He must have been asleep.”
“Oh, you know her, do you? And does she know you?”
“She knows me and hates me,” he said calmly. “Minna is a real strafer. I may look her up when I am in Cologne.”
“When will you go?”
“To-morrow night. Graham is in dry dock doing something to his tin fish. It isn’t a very lengthy job, however. I will send him a wire to be ready.”
But to Frazer’s surprise Graham saved him the trouble. He swung into the dining-room of the Ritz Carlton just as Frazer was sitting down, and plumped into a seat before him.
“The very man I wanted to see,” said Fraser.
“Anything startling?” asked Graham.
“No, I haven’t brought my meat card,” said Frazer. “Pass me one over.”
Graham drew a deep sigh of relief as he handed the little square coupon to his friend.
“I was horribly afraid you were going out into the wild North Sea again.”
“Your worst fears are realised,” said Frazer calmly. “We leave to-morrow night.”
“Then you’ll walk.” said the other. “Z1 won’t be ready for two days. And how are you going to get into Germany?”
“Same old way,” said Frazer carelessly.
Lieut-Commander Graham shook his head. “You will not do anything of the kind,” he said. “Fritz has got a new stunt. He has a mine boom which he stretches across the fairway past Heligoland. I got a confidential about it to-night.”
“In that case, my friend, we must go through the Skagerrak into the Baltic, and so home.”
The other looked thoughtful, but made no more comment.
It was four days after this conversation that, the Z1 rolled out into a lumpy sea with a stiff north-wester blowing across her bows. They had a very early intimation that their presence in forbidden waters was not desired.
There was no ship within sight when Graham, with a startled exclamation, ordered all below, froze down, and began to dive.
“You can just see it through the periscope if you’re quick. Right ahead.”
Frazer glued his eyes to the lens, but it took him some time to pick up the object. Just before the periscope plunged down into the seething water he saw the long shape above the sky line.
“A Zep.,” he said.
“A Zep. it is,” said Graham, “and he has seen us, as we shall presently discover. Now, it’s full lick for the open sea, my lad, where the going is deep and the ocean bed is dark, and even then there’s a chance that he will spot us.”
“You are pleasant company,” said Frazer.
Whether it was the disturbed condition of the sea or that the Zeppelin had not spotted them in the first place no unpleasant consequences followed.
Toward the afternoon, when Graham judged he was somewhere off the regular track of steamers and patrols, and dangerously near to the Jutland mine-field, he came up cautiously, but no sooner had his periscope cleared the water than he flung the boat into a steep dive, levelled her out at eighty feet, and turned sharply to port.
“What was it?” asked Frazer.
“A Zep.,” said Graham laconically.
It was a nightmare trip that voyage through the Skagerrak. Once the Z1 came up almost under the nose of a German destroyer. Through the periscope Graham saw the fire streaming from her funnels, arid dived only just in time to avoid contact with her sharp stem, which would have cut through the submarine like a knife through butter.
Once the Z1 fouled a chain. Happily the boat was going dead slow, and Graham was able to shake clear.
“If that wasn’t the anchor of a mine I don’t know what a mine is,” he said.
He lay submerged throughout that day watching with his periscope awash, and presently he saw a small German cruiser picking its way eastward, and he put the nose of the submarine in its wake. Providing he was not detected, here was an easy way in, and Providence was good to him, for a heavy squall came on, and rain fell so thickly that it was with difficulty he could keep track of his guide. She obligingly showed a stern light by night, and the minefields were left behind them in the early morning.
After that the rest was easy. The watch kept upon the Baltic coast was a mild one now that Russia was out of the war, and Frazer made his landing within twenty miles of Hamburg.
“Getting in is fine,” said Graham, as he took farewell of his passenger, “but getting out is going to be some difficult job. In fact,” he added, as though the idea had occurred to him for the first time, “I doubt very much whether we shall ever get out. What do you want me to do?”
“Lie submerged and resist all temptation to torpedo any of those German battleships which are within range.”
It was a dark, wild night when Frazer made his landing, and he had twelve miles to tramp before be struck the railway which brought him the following afternoon by the slowest train he had ever met with in his experience to the little wayside station of Düsseldorf Rath.
When he made his appearance upon Düsseldorf Station that evening he was a Frazer that none of his friends would have recognised. The ill-fitting suit of paper fabric, the wooden shoes with their cloth uppers and their hinged soles, the coarse blanket-like shirt, and the furled umbrella he kept under his arm, added to very large spectacles and a very thin and evil-smelling cigar, stamped him as one of the proletariat.
He travelled fourth class to Cologne in the company of six hungry-looking fellow-Germans, who were all more or less attired in paper suits, who all produced microscopic squares of black bread from their pockets, and who all, with one accord, cursed the Government, the profiteers, the Reichstag majority, and the Great General Staff, about which latter they spoke in terms of the utmost derision and scorn.
One little old man did raise his voice in favour of “our Hindenburg,” but he was immediately squashed.
“Our Hindenburg!” scoffed a fat lady. “Jawohl! Our Hindenburg indeed! Why he has the face of a cut-throat!”
“But,” protested the little man, “they shall not rob us of Alsace and Lorraine.”
“To the devil with Alsace and Lorraine,” spluttered the hollow-cheeked man, who was probably forty five, but looked sixty. “What good did Alsace and Lorraine ever do us, answer me that? Have you ever made a penny out of Alsace and Lorraine? No, indeed!”
Frazer intruded into the conversation. He spoke with that barking, hectoring intonation which immediately stamped him a suspect.
“Ah, you are a Brandenburger,” said the old woman. “I can tell you by your accent. My sister married a Brandenburger, but he was killed in the east, thank God! You Brandenburgers are all for war. Why aren’t you in field grey?”
“Because,” Frazer rapped out in his character of that irascible tribe—“because I am doing important Government work!”
“Bah!” said the thin-faced man contemptuously, “collecting taxes, I suppose, or robbing the people of their food! You are the people who made the war. We folks of Cologne never desired war. You are the people who sent the Zeppelins which destroyed London. Ach! I feet sorry for those Londoners. I know what it must feel like, for the swine come over Cologne now and again, I can tell you! And they come over Mannheim every night.”
“My sister-in-law who lives there says it is hell upon earth.”
“It is no worse than any other part of Germany nowadays,” grumbled Frazer.
Before the train ran into Cologne he had artfully started a new argument which was fiercely debated. The subject was the honesty and efficiency of the police. Frazer took the side of the police, and found himself in the minority of one. The argument developed fiercely, even violently, and they were standing on the platform of Cologne Station discussing the merits and demerits of the constabulary of Germany for just us long a time as it took to attract the attention of representatives of that force they were discussing.
“Move along there,” growled a policeman, pushing into the group. “I see you are annoying this gentleman.”
“Gentleman!” sneered the hollow-fared man, and complained bitterly that Frazer was a police spy.
By the time the policeman realised what the argument was about Frazer was his friend for life.
“We have a hard time, Herr,” said the policeman as he stood outside the station, having made a perfunctory examination of Frazer’s papers; “the lower classes are no better than the bürgerliche. They are all down on the police.”
 Bürgerliche: Middle Class, Bourgoisie
He so far unbent as to shake hands with the upholder of police honour.
“You have a long time on duty, my friend?”
The man looked up at the clock.
“For twelve hours,” he said, “I am on this infernal station. Here I remain until ten o’clock to-night.”
“Excellent,” said Frazer to himself.
He might need a friend within twelve hours.
He made his way to the nearest restaurant and had a poor meal, for which he was charged fourteen marks.
When night fell he made his way to Domstrasse. He found there were two streets called Domstrasse, one near the cathedral which had no number 75 and another in a poorer quarter of the town, which was evidently the place which had been indicated. The street was nearly deserted when he reached the forbidding portals of 75. Seventy-five was a sometime delicatessen shop, and was closed, but there was a side door which also bore the inscription 75.
He walked to the middle of the street and looked up. It was a five-storey building, and was probably, he thought, let into apartments. If that was so the front door would be open, or the handle would turn without the formality of knocking. He tried the door, and. as he expected, it yielded. He walked in, closing the door gently behind him.
The passage and the stairs were in darkness, and he began his climb. On the third-floor landing were three doors. In one he could see a light, the other two were in darkness. He argued that the front room, which was by far the largest and most important, would not be standing empty, and he tried the back. Here again the door was unfastened, and he pushed it open cautiously, flashing his lamp inside.
The room was empty, but as be pushed the door wider he thought he heard the faint tinkle of a bell and listened. There was no sound in the house, however. He closed the door, being careful to keep the light away from the one window, which commanded a view of the Rhine.
Then he began a systematic search for a loose brick and presently he found it. A small chisel which he produced from his pocket, prized the brick loose, and presently he was able to draw it out. He put in his hand and groped about, but there was no paper.
“Wrong brick,’’ he said to himself, and was gently testing the others, when he was conscious that there was another light in the room and that that light was focussed upon himself.
“Hands up!” said a young clear voice. “Put up your hands, Mr Dudley.”
He obeyed, first putting down his chisel carefully upon the hearthstone.
“I can’t see your face,” he said, “but I gather that you are young and beautiful and that the first letter of your name is M.”
“Come out,” said the voice peremptorily.
He stepped across the threshold of the empty room. Opposite was the room where he had seen the light. The door was now ajar, and the girl backed through, still covering him, and he followed. To his surprise the room, cosily furnished, the windows covered by heavy dark curtains, wad empty save for the girl.
“Close the door behind you,” she said. “You may sit down on that chair, and if you move I shall shoot, and at the first sound of a shot the police who are waiting outside to arrest you will come in.”
“You don’t say,” said Frazer admiringly.
He sat down.
“Put your hands on the table where I can see them,” said the girl.
She handled a business-like Browning pistol, and she handled it as one who was used to its employment.
“I thought I would have a little chat with you before I handed you over to the police,” she said.
“A little gloat,” suggested Frazer.
“Yes,” said Frazer, as though speaking to himself, “you are certainly the prettiest Hun I have ever met.”
“How dare you use that word?” flamed the girl; “you brutal, mercenary English.”
“Scottish,” said Frazer gently.
“You are all alike, English and Scottish and Welsh. It is only the Irish who are any good amongst you. You have not our Kultur; you are too thick-headed, too barbarian, to understand our Kultur. You dare call us Huns—we who have given the world the greatest wonders of science!”
“Like the steam-engine,” suggested Frazer, “that Von Stephenson invented, or wireless telegraphy that Von Marconi put over, or any of those dinky little things that Von Edison patented?”
She had recovered her self-possession, and greeted his question with a contemptuous shrug.
“I brought you here to tell you that the German Secret Service is not so foolish as you think. Was it not clever to send you the postcard? It was I who did it. You see, I knew K2. He was executed in 1915, and I took the liberty of using his official name. Also I knew that the postcard would come to you sooner or later, and that you could not resist coming after the German casualties.” Her lips curved in a sneer.
“All that is very apparent to me, and I admit you have scored one,” laughed Frazer, “and now that you have had your score, call in your brutal policemen and let them do their worst.”
“I shall,” she began and then stopped, her head bent in a listening attitude.
From somewhere in the distance came a low throbbing moan as if some monster were in pain.
“Did you hear?” she asked.
“It sounded like a German eating soup,” said Frazer, and she flashed an angry glance at him.
Again the throbbing, sobbing sound filled the night air, and there was a clang of distant bells.
She looked at him thoughtfully.
“Do you know what that is?” she asked. “It is your English airmen coming.”
“An air raid,” he said eagerly. “Oh, good egg! I have always wanted to see an English air raid.”
She looked at him indecisively as though she were not sure what step she should take.
Instantly the night was filled with a hideous sound. The frantic crash of the anti-aircraft guns, the whistle of ascending shells, the deafening roar of exploding bombs seemed to come nearer and nearer until the old house trembled and shook again.
For a moment the girl’s eyes met Frazer’s, and then, with a leap so sudden that she had no time to recover, he had sprung at her. She fired twice and missed him, and in another instant he held her close to him, his arm encircling her, his hand disengaging firmly but gently the pistol from her grip.
“If you scream I shall kiss you, and I promised mother I would never kiss a Hun.”
She struggled for a moment.
“You will never escape,” she gasped. “The house is surrounded by police.”
“Not on your life, sister,” said Frazer, “if I know the Hun policeman” (she winced at the word). “He is diving deep into the bowels of the earth at this moment. He is certainly not sitting on the door-step waiting and watching 84 lb. bombs trying to dodge Cologne Cathedral.”
He pushed her back in the chair and strapped her hands rapidly.
Suddenly there was a rending crash, the windows flew out, the house trembled and rocked, and for a moment Frazer thought it had been struck.
“In the street below, I think,” he said.
He drew aside the curtain and looked out of the window.
“The house opposite. How clever of you to choose this side of the street!”
The girl was white now, and her eyes wide with fear.
“This may last an hour,” she said in a trembling voice. “You are not going to leave me here?”
“Lightning never strikes twice in the same spot,” said Frazer, “and you are safer here than you would be in the street. I, on the contrary, am going to take the risks. All your policemen who are not hiding are probably blown to smithereens.”
He made a careful search of the apartment, but found very little to interest him. Then he searched her pocket, discovered her police pass, which he transferred to his own. The guns were still banging, the bombs were dropping at irregular intervals when he made for the door.
“Don’t leave me here. I am alone in the house,” she gasped. “Everybody has gone away. They are afraid of raids. That is why I chose these apartments.”
“I will leave a note with a policeman friend of mine, who will release you in an hour’s time,” said Frazer, and picked his way down the stairs.
He had reached the bottom passage when there came a crash louder than any he had heard. The violence of it threw him from his feet. The door was burst open, and the house was filled with thick dust and the pungent scent of T.N.T. He retraced his footsteps, mounting the stairs two at a time. As he went higher he could smell something burning. He reached the girl’s room. It was in darkness save for the curtains, which were blazing merrily. By their light he saw her lying in the chair, limp, helpless. The bomb had struck the corner of the house, and the flame of the explosion had set fire to the lighter curtains behind those heavy textures which excluded the light.
He picked up the limp figure in his arms and flung it across his shoulder and reached the street. As he expected, it was deserted. The house which had previously been struck was blazing, but apparently it was as empty as that from which he emerged.
He carried her in his arms to the end of the street, and then by good fortune he found a deserted drosky. Its owner had evidently gone to cover, and the horse was too weak a thing to care whether it snowed or merely bombed.
 Drosky: Horse cab (Slavonic form). The commoner German spelling us Droshke.
He put the girl into the back seat and mounted to the box. He had not the slightest idea of where he could go. The skies had clouded up, and a dozen search-lights were groping amidst the clouds. The thunder and din of the anti-aircraft guns was as furious as ever. He was turning into Severinstrasse when he heard a faint voice behind him, and pulled the jogging horse to a standstill.
The girl was sitting up.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“I’m blessed if I know,” he replied in English, and descended from the box. “Can you walk?”
“I think so,’’ she answered, and stepped down into the street.
“You have saved my life,” she said after a moment. “Oh, it was awful.”
He felt an unusual compassion for this dainty little lady, and laid his hand affectionately on her shoulder.
“This is not the game for you, my friend,” he said; “it is men’s work, and you ought to leave it to men. It’s a beastly horrible trade, and it is not natural or right that you should follow it.”
She shook her head.
They walked a little while, when two men stepped out of the deep entrance of some public building, and Frazer saw that they were policemen.
“It is forbidden, Fräulein,” said one sternly, “that you should walk in the streets in an air raid. You must come under cover.”
There was a little pause, and then—
“Stillman!” said the girl.
Now “Stillman,” as Frazer knew, was the code-word which meant “I am a member of the German Secret Service.”
Instantly the policemen stepped back, raising their hands in salute.
“The Fräulein will do as she thinks best,” said one.
The girl had hold of Frazer’s arm to support her, and suddenly he felt the pressure on that arm grow tighter. In a maze he heard her voice.
“This man is a dangerous spy, and I call upon you to arrest him.”
Frazer was quick, but the policemen were quicker. His pistol was knocked from his hand, and he was gripped before he realised what had happened. He looked down at the girl. There was a smile on her lips.
“Do you think we are smart?” she said.
“Pretty,” said Frazer thoughtfully, “but a Hun—really the most Hunnish Hun I have ever met!”
FRAZER had been baited to Cologne. He had reached Germany after a hazardous trip via the Skaggerak, and he had left Submarine Z1 sitting tight at the bottom of the Baltic, from whence he knew it would rise every night and cruise near the appointed rendezvous. He had been fooled into coming to Cologne by Minna Schumacher, that intelligent member of the German Secret Service, and because, out of sheer humanity, he had rescued her from certain death—for Cologne was being bombed by a British air squadron at the time and the house in which she was sitting, bound hand and foot, had been struck and set on fire—he had given her the opportunity of betraying him, as she most certainly did, to the first policeman they met.
And here was the hope and ornament of the British Ministry of Intelligence, sitting in a four by eight prison cell behind a door which was four inches thick and with no other outlook upon the world than was afforded by a small barred window set near the ceiling of the cell, and quite out of his reach.
He awoke the morning after his arrest with an uncomfortable feeling that all was not well. When he was thoroughly awake he knew that his intuition was justified, for all was distinctly unwell. There would be a preliminary examination, and he supposed that the great General Staff would pay him the compliment of sending their best man to make that examination, and then he would be kept in durance until a Court Martial assembled, and one fine morning he would be led out into the prison yard, placed against a stone wall, and shot out of hand by a squad of bored men, who received 30 Pfennigs and a pint of beer as a reward for their gruesome task. And as he lay on the ground the officer in charge of the firing squad would walk up to him and put a revolver bullet in his head at close range to make sure.
They brought him a mug of weak coffee, some black and unpalatable bread, and a pad of writing material, and presently the door opened and another prisoner was pushed into the cell and the door slammed upon him.
“Hello,” he said in English, “you in trouble too?”
“I am in trouble,” said Frazer.
“Espionage, eh?” said the other.
He was tall and thin and dark, and the seriousness of his position seemed to sit lightly upon him.
“I’m in for espionage,” he said, “my name’s Barker. Oh, no, I am not one of the Secret Service,” he smiled. “I am a sort of amateur spy. I have been working with an engineering firm, and I was so indispensable that they treated me decently at first.”
He sat opposite to Frazer on the narrow wooden bench which ran along one side of the cell, his hands thrust into his trousers’ pocket.
Presently he said—
“Have a cigarette.”
He pulled a case from one pocket and produced a match from the other.
“Isn’t this verboten?” said Frazer grateful for the smoke.
“Everything’s verboten,” said his cheerful companion, “but what does it matter when we’re going to be hung, drawn, and quartered?” He laughed shrilly, and his dark eyes fixed Frazer in a speculative stare. “Did they find anything on you?”
Frazer smiled back good-humouredly.
“Nothing much,” he said dryly. “I don’t as a rule carry a great deal of material.”
“Humph,” said Mr Barker. “They’ve nothing against me either,” he said after a while. “In fact, I don’t think they can convict me. This gaol’s full of spies,” he laughed. “Von Duisburg has been having a field day.”
“Von Duisburg!” repeated Frazer, in surprise. “Is he here?”
“Know him at all?” asked Mr Barker, interested.
“I know he is chief of the German Field Intelligence, but I have not had the honour of meeting the gentleman.”
“He has been here.” said Mr Barker, with a grimace, “though he’s not here now. A pretty shrewd fellow that.”
“One of the few shrewd men in Germany,” agreed Frazer. Then—“How long have you been in gaol?”
“Yesterday morning. Don’t talk too loud,” he said, lowering his voice. “They have probably got somebody listening in the next cell and that is why they put me in with you. They have been searching my house for code books,” he chuckled again, “but they’ll never find them. What did you do with yours?”
“Never bring it ashore,” replied Frazer secretly amused.
“Then your name’s Dudley, isn’t it? You’re the fellow that comes by submarine?”
Frazer nodded, and the other looked at him with evident admiration.
“So you left it on the submarine. That’s smart.”
It was Frazer’s turn to chuckle.
“I don’t know why I should give you my confidence,” he said, “but I don’t suppose it matters very much. As you say, we shall be hung, drawn, and quartered in a very short time but, speaking as one patriot to another, I may say that I never do leave it on the submarine. It may be,” he said looking at the other thoughtfully, “that you will escape the death penalty and get away. It is hardly likely that I shall.” He lowered his voice. “I am telling you something now that even the Chief of the Intelligence doesn’t know, and if you live I should like you to convey this information to him. By the way, what part of England do you come from?”
“London.” said the other, “good old London town.”
He looked at his cigarette and blew the ash off.
“Well, when you get back to London town,” said Frazer, “you might seek out the Minister of Intelligence. The office will probably be abolished after the war, but you will easily discover who he is and get in touch with the permanent staff. I am rather anxious about this matter,” he said, a little ruefully, “because in addition to my code——” He stopped suddenly. “I don’t know whether I ought to tell you this, but it seems that I may not see you again, and, after all, you couldn’t find it.”
“You can please yourself,” said Mr Barker. “But I assure you anything I can do for you I shall be most happy to do. But I can tell you this, that von Duisburg is very keen on getting the codes of the British agents, and you will have to have hidden it pretty safely or he’ll find it. Was there anything hidden besides the code?”
“A list of our agents, or some of them,” said Frazer dropping his voice again. “When I come ashore I always leave them behind me. They are in a weighted water proof bag which I drop into the water attached to a small blue buoy.”
“Suppose they drift?” asked the other.
“I use a small gun metal anchor.”
“Can you always locate it easily?”
“In the dark,” said Frazer promptly. “It is the simplest thing in the world. It is a question of taking bearings. I take my bearings on a couple of shore lights, and then it is quite simple.”
There was a silence which was broken by Mr Barker.
“You can reckon yourself lucky you didn’t have them on you,” he said after a while. “They didn’t take away a chart from you showing where the buoy is to be found?”
Frazer shook his head wearily.
“My dear good chap,” he said, “I am not quite a fool?”
“I think anybody’s a fool who comes into this damned country,” grumbled Mr Barker. “Do you play piquet?”
“Like a professional.” replied Frazer heartily, and they spent the rest of the morning gambling for fabulous sums.
It was on the second day of his incarceration, as he was taking his lonely exercise in the prison yard, that Frazer saw Minna Schumacher, a radiant vision in white serge.
She stood in the centre of the ring round which he walked, and she was accompanied by two German Staff officers. Once she moved near to the path, and Frazer came face to face with her. She laughed the bright, ringing, joyous laughter of girlhood, and Frazer found himself without resentment. He had only that sense of pity that one has for the beautiful things of life that grow wrong, for the stunted flowers that grow in alleys to which the sun’s rays never come, for the birds that chirp in captivity behind bars, never missing the freedom they have not enjoyed.
At the end of his exercise he was marched over to the crowd.
“Well. Mr Dudley,” said the girl with a proprietorial air, “I don’t think that you will escape from Cologne Gaol very easily.”
“On the contrary.” said Frazer “I believe it is quite a simple matter if one only knows the ropes.”
“Try it,” she said significantly.
“I shall not only try, but I shall succeed,” he said with magnificent confidence, “and then I shall come back to Cologne and shoot you.”
There was such a deadly earnestness in his tone that the girl blanched for a second.
“That is a fine threat for a gentleman to utter to a woman,” she said.
“To a Hun,” he corrected, “to a little Nuremberg doll with the face of a Madonna and the brain of a rabbit.”
He saw the dark fury in her face, and his heart rejoiced.
“I know you can’t help being a Hun,” he went on with enjoyment, “and, being a Hun, you can’t have the instincts of a lady or anything that is human or beautiful in mind. I don’t reproach you, because you can’t help your lack of Kultur.”
“You beast! You Englishman!” she exploded “You will be shot! I will see you shot!”
“Spoken like a true little Hun,” he mocked her and at an imperious word from one of the officers they led him away.
His first examination was on the following day. He was led into a bare room, the sole furniture of which was a table and three chairs, one of which he occupied, and he fenced and parried a volley of pertinent questions which were fired at him. By the courtesy and skill with which the examination was conducted, he knew that his interlocutors were members of the Grand General Staff. Neither of them was von Duisburg or possessed that skilful gentleman’s finesse.
After two hours’ pumping, which could not have been very satisfactory to the “Board,” he was taken back to his cell.
“I had mine this morning, too,” growled Barker. ‘I thought they were never going to stop questioning me. Anyway. I think I have got off.”
“Got off? What do you mean?”
“I shall be disposed of summarily to-morrow by a local Court.”
Sure enough, the next day they took Mr Barker away at ten in the morning, and he returned about lunch time with the information that he had been sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment and fined two thousand marks.
“That doesn’t worry me.” he said cheerfully. “If the British win the war all these sentences will be annulled.”
Exercise hours were from eleven to twelve and from three to four, and evidently Frazer was the show prisoner, for he invariably found a group watching him march in solitude round the ring. On the fifth day of his imprisonment that group included an eminent hydraulic engineer from Bremen, a Mr Keller, a man with a long, melancholy beard, who watched the distinguished prisoner with interest.
Frazer did not trouble his mind to speculate on the method by which “Keller” had gained admission to the gaol. Many things are possible in Germany, and Keller undoubtedly had a good many influential friends. But from the moment of Mr Keller’s appearance Frazer grew restless. First he touched his elbow, then he rubbed his shoulder, then he fingered his chin, then he touched his knee—all in the most natural manner in the world; and Keller, whose memory was out of the ordinary, read and memorised the message which Frazer was sending to him. For the left hand touched by the right means A, the left elbow B, the left shoulder C, the right shoulder touched by the left hand D, the elbow E, the hand F. It is a code amongst the oldest.
Mr Keller looked and remembered, and when the prisoner’s exercise was at an end and the eminent hydraulic engineer had retired with many thanks to the governor for giving him the opportunity of seeing “the great English spy,” he carried with him to the outer world and to regions beyond the ken of the governor the most concise instructions.
Though Barker was sentenced he was not removed from the gaol. Most of the gaols in Germany, Frazer learned, were full. Crime was on the increase, and what with the recalcitrant British prisoners there was very little accommodation for the genuine criminal.
“I hope they keep me here,” he said mysteriously.
“Why?” asked the curious Fraser.
“If they keep me here a week,” whispered Barker, “I am going to escape.”
“I have friends working for me outside, and if things turn out as I hope I shall find this door unlocked to-morrow night and the gaoler’s office unlocked and the gaoler’s private door into the street unlocked, too—if things go right.”
“Which way will you go?”
But Mr Barker was reluctant to give any information.
“What am I supposed to be doing?” asked Frazer. “Am I supposed to sit here calmly and watch you escape and remain here myself?”
Barker looked at him with a startled expression.
“I never thought about that,” he said, scratching his chin, “But they would catch you sure. I have too many friends to be caught.”
“At least let me try,” said Frazer.
It took Mr Barker a long time to make up his mind, but on the morning of the day of his projected escape he expressed his agreement.
“It is going to cost me five thousand marks,” he said, “and you will have to pay your share if you get to England.”
It so happened that that afternoon’s exercise parade was again witnessed by Mr Keller, who had pleaded for another glimpse of the spy, and again did the restless Frazer touch at odd intervals knee and hand and elbow, breast and thigh and forehead for the edification of the visitor.
At ten o’clock the lights in the gaol save those in the main corridors were extinguished. At half-past eleven, though no sound had been heard of the turning of a key, Barker nervously tried the door and it yielded. He stepped out into the corridor, his boots under his arm, and Frazer followed.
All went with uncanny smoothness. Almost before Frazer realised the fact he was standing under the high wall of the gaol in the open air. They pulled on their boots hastily.
“Which way are you going?” asked Frazer.
“We will go together,” said the other.
At one corner of the prison he stopped. A man was standing in the shadow.
“This is my friend,” said Barker, and went forward alone.
The two men consulted together in a low tone, and presently Barker returned.
“It’s all right,” he said, “I have got a car, a military car. You can come with me. I am going to strike north. Which way do you want to go?”
“North will suit me,” said Frazer.
The third man joined them, and they walked in silence for two blocks. A car standing without lights was waiting in a side thoroughfare. Frazer and his companion climbed into the back, the third man took his place by the side of the chauffeur.
They passed out of Cologne, and were only challenged once. They made no attempt to answer the challenge, but sped on into the night, and presently struck the main road. They avoided darkened Düsseldorf, passed through Münster a little before three o’clock, and came to Osnabrück with the early light of the morning.
The car was taken to some garage of which the chauffeur evidently knew, and Frazer and his companions spent the day in a little hotel. They started again at eight o’clock in the evening, reached Bremen by ten, and slipped through the suburbs of Hamburg at midnight.
At three o’clock in the morning the car pulled up on a deserted road to the north of Kiel.
“This is the place you told me to stop,” said Barker.
“This will do,” replied Frazer.
“There is a small stone cottage near to the road. You will find a boat about fifty yards in that direction,” pointed Barker, “be careful, the ground is marshy.”
“You know this part very well,” said Frazer.
“Pretty well,” laughed Barker softly, “otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell you where there was a boat, would I?”
“Which way will you go after I leave you?” asked Frazer, “you have been awfully good to me, and I suppose there is nothing I can do for you?”
“I shall be going to some friends of mine on the Baltic toast. They will never think of looking for me there,” said Barker. “I will use the first opportunity of getting back to England—I suppose you couldn’t send your submarine for me?”
“Nothing easier,” Frazer smiled in the darkness. “It will turn up in a day or two. In the meantime I can hide somewhere about here until I see its signals. By the way, who lives in that hut?”
“Haven’t the slightest idea,” said Barker, “anyway you don’t want to make yourself conspicuous by getting a lodging at a place like that, do you? I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” he said impulsively, “you haven’t told me any of your own plans, but I presume you have come here to pick up your code.”
“You’re right,” said Frazer.
“Well, my friend and I will row you out. You can find your buoy, hide your code, and then we’ll find a place for you to lie snug for a day or two. How does that idea strike you?”
Frazer did not reply for a moment.
“It seems a fairly good idea,” he said, “but I am already under a very heavy debt of gratitude. You have practically saved my life.”
“I have saved my own, too,” said Barker drily. “After all, I was going your way, and it was no trouble to bring you. Let me help you find the boat.”
They tramped down together through the soft, yielding earth. Sometimes Frazer was up to his knees in water, but with the assistance of his companion he managed to keep more or less to the solid ground.
The path led them past the cottage, and the boathouse, which they eventually struck, was evidently the property of the cottager. The boat was pulled up on to the mud, and in the fitful moonlight appeared to be a serviceable craft.
“Now take your bearings.” said Barker. “Do you think you can find your buoy?”
Frazer looked across the dark waters, picked up the landmarks he sought, and nodded.
“Yes, I think I can find it,” he said.
“Just wait here, and I’ll go back and tell my friend. He will lend us a hand.”
He left Frazer alone, and went plodding back to the car, and Frazer waited till he was out of sight, then moved with quick steps to the cottage. He had noticed that one of the windows was open, and he could have sworn he had seen a curtain move and saw a momentary patch of light.
The cottage was an elementary affair, built of rock. Two windows faced the sea. The door was on the other side of the building, looking toward the road. He stepped stealthily to the window, and, as he thought, it was open. Gingerly he felt for the curtain, and drew it aside. A girl was sitting at a table reading by the light of a small paraffin lamp, and stopping now and again to raise her head, as though she was listening for something.
Frazer stepped silently back to the place where Barker had left him, and presently that worthy returned, accompanied by his friend, and the three men moved off to the boat.
Frazer took his seat in the stern. The two men, who had discovered oars from somewhere, pushed her off, climbed in, and began to pull steadily seaward, Frazer checking them now and again, and steering straight for a distant light which showed on a little promontory north of Kiel.
Presently, at his low command, the rowers rested on their oars.
“Backwater,” said Frazer.
His keen eyes were searching the water, and presently he discerned a small, round phosphorescent glow.
Barker saw it too.
“Luminous paint, eh? You never told me that!”
“That’s one of the things I didn’t tell you,” said Frazer.
Presently the boat drew alongside the tiny buoy, and he leant over the side and touched it. In the very centre was a small button very much like the push-button of the ordinary electric bell. This he pressed three times in rapid succession.
“You’re a long time getting it up. Can’t you get the anchor away?” asked Barker.
“It’s coming,” replied Frazer, for within the bell he heard three little buzzes, which told him that hid signal had been heard.
“Backwater,” he said
He gripped the buoy, and pulled it into the boat.
“Keep backing water,” he said, and kept the nose of the boat so that the backs of the rowers were turned to the long, black shape that rose with remarkable swiftness to the surface. “Keep backing water,” he repeated, “Here she comes.”
The man in the bow must have heard the conning tower open, for he turned with an exclamation, but as he did so the blinding ray of a little searchlight struck him full in the face, and a voice in the darkness said—
“Come alongside, and make no trouble unless you are tired of life,” and it was the voice of Lieutenant Graham that spoke.
“What’s the meaning of this?” demanded Barker angrily. “I have helped you.”
“My dear von Duisburg, you talk too much,” said Frazer. “Get aboard that submarine and be sharp about it.”
The two men obeyed, and were hustled into the bright interior.
“Let go that boat, Frazer,” said Graham. “We have not too much time. The shore people have seen our light, and they will be turning their searchlights this way presently.”
Still Frazer hesitated.
“I would dearly love to go back and talk to Minna,” he said. “She is waiting there all alone in a cottage by the sea.”
“Who the dickens is Minna?” demanded Graham.
“She’s a Hun,” answered Fraser simply. “Pretty, but a Hun!”
They came back, and it was a breathless voyage through and under mine-fields, chased by aeroplanes, bombed by patrol vessels, but Colonel von Duisburg, that great intelligence officer, was wholly indifferent to the danger he ran.
“The criticism I make of your service, my dear von Duisburg,” said Frazer, “is this. Why, a little child at school knows that when you take an uncommunicative prisoner you put your best examining officer in the same cell with him disguised as a fellow sufferer. I knew you the moment I saw you.”
“You said you had never seen von Duisburg,” growled the prisoner.
“That,” said Frazer, “was a wicked story. But, honestly, I never thought you would fall for that absurd story about my code books and my list of agents, and I could hardly believe my ears when you sprang that story of escaping upon me. Of course, I knew your plan. You would bring me to Kiel. You would assist me to recover my code, and when it was recovered you would stick a pistol under my nose and march me back to Cologne again with all the incriminating evidence upon me. But your plans are so simple. The only fear I had was that it was too deep for my understanding.”
“Minna said——” blurted Von Duisburg.
“Oh, Minna said, did she?” mimicked the other. He sat on a box and was engaged in peeling and eating apples, his favourite recreation. “Well, one of these days I am going back to Germany to discover what Minna really did say.”
“Tell me this,” asked von Duisburg. “What was attached to that buoy?”
Frazer stared at him in amazement and then laughed.
“This submarine, you silly ass!” he said.
A HEAVY sea was running, and the night was black. Only occasionally did a tiny patch of stars show through a rift in the racing clouds. Commander Graham, clad in oilskins, stood on the conning tower of the rocking, rolling submarine, peering into the darkness ahead.
Presently a white star gleamed dazzlingly on the misty horizon, faded to a speck of light, and vanished.
“That’s the patrol searchlight,” he shouted in the other’s ear (for wind and sea made a deafening chorus). “Frazer, my man, we’re going to have some trouble in reaching the Elbe.”
“Are we clear of the mine-field?” roared Frazer.
“Just clear, but in this weather mines are likely to go adrift—there’s another patrol. They know you’re coming—there’s another!”
Not one but two stars burnt to the east. The submarine was too far away for detection, but Graham knew that his course would lie midway between the two patrols.
“I can’t submerge yet,” said Graham in a normal voice as the wind suddenly dropped: “surface work is quicker and safer. If we get too close to the barges we’ll lie doggo for a bit.”
“What is it, Quartermaster?”
A man in oilskins had climbed the steel ladder from the deck below.
“Eight fathoms, sir.”
“Let me know when that gets less,” said Graham: “that settles the question of submerging.” He turned to Frazer—“I’ll have to take a chance and get into the mines. Anyway,” he said philosophically, “we shall never know what hit us.”
“Cheerful devil,” growled Frazer. “What’s up?”
Graham was straining his eyes to the north.
“There’s a steamer of some sort—minelayer, I should imagine—I spotted her wink. She’s going in—hands below!”
“What are you going to do?”
“Follow her. She’s a Fritz all right, and if I can get in her wake the thing will be easy. Get down below; I’m going to dive in ten minutes.”
The Z1, already in diving trim, dropped her bow and nosed for the depths, the white waves tumbled and rolled over the hull, buffeting the resisting bulk of the conning tower and obscuring at intervals the limited view which the periscope afforded.
For five breathless minutes Graham searched in vain, then—
“There she is! Just ahead, thanks be!”
The high-standing stern of the vessel was just ahead. Graham brought the submarine lower until the end of her periscope barely cleared the trough of the waves, and that this precaution was necessary he discovered when three searchlights struck the ship ahead and held her, a fairy-like object in their rays. Then the lights began to search the waters astern, but Graham had wholly submerged before they searched the spot where the Z1 was driving her patient way.
The wake of the steamer hid his own wake, and he could regulate his speed and keep his distance by microphonic observation. He came up twice to verify his course before, having as he judged cleared the mine barrage, he turned southward.
Frazer was putting the finishing touches to his new character when the engines were stopped.
“All ready for you, Frazer,” said Graham, addressing the inelegant looking man in an ill-fitting suit of paper fabric who sat on the locker.
“How do you like my boots?” Frazer exhibited the clumsy-looking things. “Cloth uppers and wooden soles!”
“I like your hat best,” said Graham, picking up a shapeless article from the locker. “Is that paper too?”
“Ja, Herr. It is what we Germans call a ‘subtisuit.’”
An officer appeared in the narrow bulkhead opening.
“Boat away. sir. No lights on shore visible.”
Frazer thrust a long-barrelled Browning into the breast of his shirt and buttoned it up.
“So long.” he said. “You know the rendezvous.”
Two hours later a solitary pedestrian was tramping along the dark road which leads to Oldenburg. He came to that town before daylight, and found a shed in the garden of a dark and empty house on the outskirts. That evening a wounded German soldier presented his credentials to the stout female who presided at the booking office of the Oldenburg Railway Station, and received a third class ticket to Hanover. He was challenged at the Bahnhof in that town by a military policeman.
“You are going on to Magdeburg,” said the policeman, who was of superior rank.
“Yes, Herr Feldwebel,” said Frazer, standing stiffly erect to attention, his one hand extended down the seam of his trousers.
“Medical staff, eh? Where did you get your wound?”
“Bombed at Middelkerke, Herr Feldwebl.”
“All right, go on. If you stay overnight in Hanover report to the Kommandatur.”
“Be so pleased as to accept my thanks, Herr Feldwebel,” said Frazer punctiliously.
He was in a district which was notoriously lax where wounded soldiers were concerned, and his bandaged arm would carry him to Magdeburg. After that he must assume some other character. His stay in Hanover was brief. He sought Professor Heinrich Klaussen, eminent chemist, and he sought him by going to his ornate house, ringing the bell and presenting to the servant who answered a large letter inscribed “To be delivered in person.”
The Herr Professor is not at home,” snapped the woman.
“That is most important, Fräulein.”
“He will not be home for a week. He has gone to Mainz—to the laboratory at the Kaiser Frederick Hospital.”
He left Hanover satisfied.
At Magdeburg he made a call upon Dr Munsenheim, another great scientist, but the good doctor was away, and none knew when he would be back. He was in Mainz.
“They’re all there.” he said to himself. “ Klaussen, Munsenheim, Voss, von Groeben—the whole gang. I wonder if I am in time?”
There is a house on the Unterstrasse which is isolated by two passages which lead to stables at the back of the street. This house stands back from the road, and has wooden shutters which are never opened.
There was no caretaker in the house. The wounded soldier, arriving at night, let himself in with a key, and, descending to the cellar, produced from various receptacles the articles he required for his purpose. He shaved by the light of an electric hand lamp, changed into the smart, well-fitting uniform of an officer of the Artillery of the Guard, took from the tin uniform box which had remained concealed in the cellar since 1914 a grey military cloak, a rakish cap, eyeglass, wrist-watch, and as the Rathaus clock was striking eleven strutted into the crowded lounge of the Magdeburger Hof. He joined a group of young officers after a preliminary salute and called for beer.
There was one officer who was attached to a technical corps to whom Frazer was particularly attentive, for this young man was leaving on the morrow for Mainz, and Frazer wanted a companion for that journey. Moreover, he was attached to an experimental company which had gone to Mainz for special duty.
“Oh, gas?” said Frazer, putting just the right amount of contempt into the word—that contempt which your officer of a crack corps never fails to display toward new-fangled methods of war.
“Gas has its points. Herr Artillery-of-the-Guard Lieutenant,” said the young man, by no means abashed, for had he not heard that same derisive inflection before a hundred times? “I admit it is beastly, and we all wish that the man who invented it was with the devil, but——”
He nodded significantly.
“Wait, my friend. You will yet bless the gas corps. We Germans are not easily baffled. Chlorine was elementary, mustard gas was an improvement, especially against the Scottish long-shanks, because it burnt their legs. But—I know what I know.”
Frazer laughed softly, and an officer who had been listening echoed the laugh.
“We cavalrymen do not like gas. It is stinking stuff, and it is not the sport, as the English say. Fight clean, say I, with a good German sword in your hand and a bit of thoroughbred blood under your saddle.”
The gas officer shrugged his shoulders.
“Everyone to his taste. I have not heard that the cavalry has done very much of late, but no matter. Gas will win the war.”
“As Zeppelins and U-boats won it?” sneered the cavalryman. “Himmel! Everything wins the war except fighting soldiers!”
He rose and swaggered off, and Frazer set himself to soothe and flatter the ruffled officer of the Gas Corps.
“You are leaving for Mainz, to-morrow, you say,” said that worthy at parting. “Very good, we will travel together, and perhaps I may interest you.”
In the raw morning when Magdeburg slept and the streets were black and lifeless, Frazer clanked to the Hauptbahnhof, his sword trailing and jangling, so that even distant policemen stood stiffly to attention at the sound, and found his companion of the night previous shivering on the platform.
The train had just backed in. and happily the passengers were few for the first class.
Frazer was chiefly concerned with the fact that they were alone. He did not want to resume the conversation which had been broken off on the night before, but happily his companion saved him the trouble.
“I slept damnably,” he said. “I’m all nerves. Consider, Herr von Petersohn,” (this was the name which Frazer had given) “you soldiers risk death only when you are in the line. We poor devils have to take our risks day after day. I never go into the chamber—the experimental chamber, you know—without a shudder. As the experiments proceed it becomes more and more difficult to keep the gas from coming through the respirator.”
All this Frazer knew. The reason for his presence in Germany at a moment when the secret police of the empire were still searching for him under the impression that he had not left was the very potency of this gas. Hints had come through neutral sources. A German deserter who had escaped across the Swiss frontier had babbled to a British agent of a poison more deadly than the German had ever used before. There were even vague and jubilant hints in the German press of something which the Higher Command had up its sleeve, and when the Leipziger Zeitung casually associated with this statement, which it quoted from a South German paper, the name of Professor Munsenheim, John Dudley Fraser had left London hurriedly
“You frighten me,” he said after his companion’s recital. “Is the new gas so bad? What about us poor devils if the wind changes and it comes back upon us?”
“It is bad and it is good,” said the gas officer oracularly. “It is bad because the ordinary respirators do not keep it from the lung. It is good because it dissipates and is absorbed by the air so quickly that it is impossible that it should come back or be lying about when our infantry go over. A single whiff brings death. That shrewd old fox, Munsenheim, will make a fortune out of it. Of course, the whole poison gang are in it—Klaussen, Munsenheim, Voss, von Groeben—but Munsenheim alone knows its secret. I heard Dr von Groeben complaining to my major what a close old pig dog Munsenheim was. He’ll have to give his secret away when they manufacture the gas in large quantities, but you may be sure he will make the Government pay for it through the nose.”
Frazer nodded. If all this officer said was true his task was simplified.
“Of course,” said the gas officer, “the old man is guarded night and day. Half the political police of Germany were in Mainz when I left, including Fräulein Schumacher.”
“Including Fräulein Schumacher!” drawled Frazer. “Who is she?”
The other man looked at him in astonishment.
“I thought all Germany knew Minna,” he said. “She is the prettiest and cleverest little she-cat in the Intelligence Department. She was the girl who caught one of the biggest of the English agents. His escape was in all the papers. What is his name? Oh, yes—Dudley!”
“So he escaped?” said Dudley Frazer, “and I suppose she is waiting at Mainz for him to turn up again?”
“He will not come there,” smiled the officer. “Why, he would never leave the station before he was arrested.”
“Thank God for the German Intelligence Department,” said Frazer piously.
They stopped at Cassel for breakfast—the train was an alleged express, but thirty miles an hour was its maximum—and did not arrive at Mainz until three o’clock in the afternoon.
Frazer took leave of his companion at the Central Station, and going to the nearest telephone booth he put through a message to the Hôtel du Rhin reserving a room. Then he went to church. It was not his practice to go to church, and he certainly did not go to pray for the success of his undertaking. Moreover, he chose the gloomy church of St Christopher in preference to the better lighted and more congregated Cathedral of St Martins. St Christopher’s was deserted. There was no verger at the door to note the entrance of the reverent young officer, and those who saw him emerge from one of the gloomy little side chapels did not observe that his head and one side of his face was enveloped in surgical bandages.
Frazer was taking no risk with Minna Schumacher in Mainz, and when at his hotel he added a shade to his one visible eye he felt he might join the throng on the crowded promenade without risk of detection.
Minna Schumacher was one of the first people he saw. She was driving in a carriage with a wizened old man, grey-bearded and bowed with age, but who was speaking and gesticulating to his companion with a vivacity which testified to his extraordinary energy.
“Munsenheim !” said Frazer, lighting a cigar. “I wonder if Minna sleeps on his doormat?”
There was no shortage of gas experts in Mainz. Almost every dozen yards he returned the salute of a soldier who wore the insignia of the corps, and in the evening he found in the Carlton Restaurant which is attached to the hotel an officer who was even more loquacious than his companion of the morning.
The experiments were being conducted outside the town, he learned, at a big building which had been erected behind Gonsenheimer Tor. But the poison gang’s laboratory was attached to the Apollo Bad, the principal baths of the town. This did not interest him so much as to learn that the Professor Munsenheim was lodged in a large house on the Gärtnergasse, and that he spent most of his time there. He learned, too, that the experiments had been absolutely successful, and that the Government was taking over the professor’s patent in a few days, and, as an interesting piece of gossip, he learned that there had been a violent quarrel between the professor and Dr von Groeben, the professor accusing the learned doctor of having attempted to analyse the gas in order that his secret might be forestalled. And the Herr Professor had in a public place screeched infamous insults punctuated with derisive giggles of laughter, at the discomfited doctor, who in spite of his secret analysis had been unable to discover the chemical which gave the gas its deadly quality.
Thereafter Dr von Groeben had left.
“The poison gang looks like being broken up,” said Frazer’s informant. “Well, they have had a long innings, and they have brought more discredit on Germany than any other five men in the Empire.”
“I see you don’t like gas work, Herr Lieutenant,” said Frazer.
“I hate it,” said the other shortly, and then asked curiously—
“You have got a badly wounded face, my friend. Where did that happen?”
“In a church,” said Frazer, and the other roared as though it were the best joke in the world.
He lost no time in making a reconnaissance of Gärtnergasse (he thought the
suffix was not inappropriate), and found the professor’s house brightly
illuminated on one floor, which he gu
was the professor’s private laboratory.
He went back to his hotel and slept well that night, and spent the next day leisurely planning his escape.
Fräulein Minna Schumacher was a remarkable young lady. The daughter of a member of the General Staff, accomplished, resourceful, daring, and yet withal ravishingly beautiful.
Professor Munsenheim, ordinarily more interested in his food than in the gratification of the eye, was moved to pay her an unexpected compliment when they were dining in the little saloon adjoining the laboratory.
“Fräulein,” he said gallantly, “I drink to your beautiful eyes.”
“That is a great compliment, Herr Professor,” she murmured, veiling those beautiful eyes modestly, “especially from one so clever as the Herr Professor.”
“We Germans are never too old to admire beauty,’ he said, and smacked his lips. “I have seldom tasted a better prepared dish. To-morrow, Fräulein, you will be relieved of your vigil, though for my part,” he said with the brutal frankness of an old man, “I have never seen what protection a bit of a girl could be.”
“Your enemies, Herr Professor, are not men who rely upon brute strength, but upon their brains.”
“True, true,” he nodded, pouring out another glass of wine, “you were telling me about this Dudley. Do you seriously mean that he would come here to Mainz?”
She nodded gravely.
“He will certainly come if he is in Germany, for, Herr Professor, there is no secret about your experiments. All the city is gaping with the wonderful effects of the new gas. Even those horrible newspapers have published articles about it.”
“It is a question of fame,” said the professor modestly. “Naturally I am in the public eye, and these writing men are interested in my performances. It would not be just, gracious lady, if my light were put under a bushel.” He fingered his close-cropped white beard complacently. “I do not seek fame. It seeks me. I am indifferent to all the praise or blame, though, of course, there is no blame——”
“The Vorwärts said that you had done more to blacken the name of Germany than any other man,” she said demurely.
The old man’s face went red with rage.
“That low, filthy, stupid rag, written by blackguards for blackguards,” he stormed, thumping the table, “it is a disgrace that such a paper should exist. What is the use of a military censorship if such a slimy publication is allowed to spread its poison and befoul the greatest minds of the Empire? Are you sure they said me?” he asked.
“I will write to the editor. But what do I care for vilification, eh, Fräulein? In a month I shall be the most execrated man in Europe. The frivolous French, the mercenary English, the villainous Scotch, and the dollar-worshipping Yankees will be screaming with impotent rage when their dead lie in heaps—hundreds of dead,” he gurgled joyously, “thousands, catacombs of men all struck down in their prime because in the brain of old Heinrich Munsenheim the germ of a thought was translated into force. ‘
She looked at him, her faith momentarily shaken in the justice of things, even German things. It was not right that this old man so near to death himself should have it in his power to condemn thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands to an awful end.
“I will show you,” he said, jumping up from the table.
Old as he was, he was sprightly and nimble. He pulled apart the sliding doors which separated the room from the laboratory and switched on the light.
“There it is!”
Along one wall ran a narrow bench covered with chemical apparatus. At the end of the bench was a big porcelain sink, and standing in this sink, which was filled with water was a large glass vessel like a jeweller’s show case, except that it was in one piece. In a corner was a steel screw, which apparently covered a valve by which the vessel was filled, and the long rubber pipes which led from a steel cylinder beneath the bench.
“There it is,” said the Professor proudly.
The girl looked. Save that the interior of the glass was clouded with a palish green vapour, which was not, however, of sufficient density to prevent her seeing through the case from one side to the other, it seemed to be empty, a fact that she remarked upon.
“Empty!” he chuckled. “There is death there for one battalion, four companies, sixteen platoons. The best masks that the British or the French possess are useless against that. Even I,” he seemed to find a joy in his confession, “have not invented a mask sufficiently strong to resist its action. Do you know,” he wagged his head as though he were telling a funny story, “to-day fourteen men of the gas corps who were experimenting were killed. Yes, killed,” he said, noting her look of horror. “Died instantly. Three officers and eleven men. One of our best gas officers, a man who came from Magdeburg only yesterday morning. A fine, strapping young fellow,” he said with relish. “You might have thought he would live for fifty years—dead in a second, like that.” He snapped his fingers.
The Professor swung round. An officer was standing in the doorway.
“Who are you, sir?” he demanded, but Minna had no need to ask, and slipped her hand into her pocket.
“Take out your hand, Minna.” said Frazer, and his Browning covered her.
“Who are you, air?” demanded the Professor again.
“Ask her,” said Frazer. “You are a cheerful old gentleman and a clever old gentleman, and now I’m going to discover if you are truthful old gentleman.”
“This man is a British Secret Service officer,” said Minna, her eyes not leaving Frazer’s, “I saw you to-day. You were the man with the bandaged face I passed near the Dom. There was something familiar in your walk,” she was speaking half to herself.
“Secret Service officer!” gasped the professor, “arrest him at once. It is your duty, Fräulein! It is for this you are provided.”
“Don’t be foolish, Herr Professor,” said Frazer, “the lady is no more capable of arresting me than you are. You will answer my question.”
“I will answer nothing.” The professor folded his arms.
“Where is the formula of your gas?” asked Frazer, and the old man’s eyes lit with malignant laughter.
“So it is for that you come to Germany eh? To rob us German scientists? And you would take the formula back to your so hateful country! Oh no, my friend, we Germans are not fools. You may search this house, but never shall you find the formula. It is here,” he smacked his forehead violently, “here in the brain of old Heinrich Munsenheim.”
“Soh,” said Frazer thoughtfully.
He beckoned the girl, and she walked slowly toward him as he backed to the dining-room. The professor did not follow, but stared after the girl suspiciously.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
For answer he caught her by the arm and swung her into the room, raised his pistol and fired twice. Then he crashed the door behind him. He heard the rush of the professor’s feet, and as he reached the dining room door, still holding the girl, and passed into the passage and down the broad stairway, he heard the faint thud of the old man’s fists.
They reached the patch of garden before the house, and it was in darkness. His arm was about her, his pistol hand hung free, and she made no resistance, until they reached the iron gates which gave to the road.
“Have you shot him?” she whispered.
“Oh, dear, no,” said Frazer grimly, “that would be too happy an end to the head of the poison gang.”
She pressed away from him in horror.
“If there was enough gas in that vessel to destroy a British battalion,” he said slowly, “I guess there was enough to kill one professor, and I smashed it with the first shot.”
She pressed her hands to her face, and as she grasped the horror of it and the sublime justice of it she collapsed in a heap. Frazer put up his pistol, slipped through the gate, and walked rapidly back to the centre of the town, realising that before him were weeks of deadly danger, and that the vigil of the submarine awaiting him in the Heligoland Bight would be a long one. And so it proved. Before he could reach the little house where in 1914 he had made provisions for such an emergency as this Minna Schumacher was on the telephone to the chief of police, and every exit from Mainz was closed.
THE Minister of Intelligence pressed a bell-push on his desk, and his secretary entered.
“Any further news of Frazer?” he asked.
“No, sir. The last we had was a fortnight ago, when the submarine returned.”
“She received a wireless message from Frazer, didn’t she?”
The secretary nodded.
“Yes, air. Apparently Frazer had managed to get to some wireless station and had tapped out instructions to Graham to return to England. How he got to the wireless,” he smiled, “what arguments induced the operators to send his message we shall learn one day, I hope.”
“Give me a copy of the order issued by the General commanding the 17th German Army Corps,” said Sir Walter.
The secretary returned in a few moments, and laid a sheet of foolscap before the Minister, inscribed with the now famous order issued by General von Westrap.
“It is known that the English so-renowned spy, John Dudley Frazer, or so-called John Dudley, is at present within the city of Mainz, having arrived by train from Magdeburg on the 13th instant in the name and style of a lieutenant of the artillery of the Prussian Guard, von Petersohn. This miscreant has murdered Professor Privy Councillor Munsenheim, and his life is forfeit to the State.
“The inhabitants of Mainz are warned that under penal code and in accordance with instructions governing the State of Siege any person harbouring or assisting the said John Dudley Frazer is guilty of high treason and is liable to be shot. The Army Corps Commander offers a reward of twenty thousand marks for the apprehension of this dangerous character, and any officer securing his arrest will receive promotion of one rank, or, in the case of a common soldier, promotion of two ranks and six months’ leave.
“The said John Dudley Frazer employs many disguises, his favourite being that of a Prussian lieutenant. He speaks German fluently. He is about twenty-six years of age, wears a slight moustache, is about 175 centimetres in height, has grey eyes and a frivolous habit of speech. Information, &c., &c.”
“Rather vague as to the description,” said Sir Walter. “Have we heard anything from our agents in Germany?”
“Only that Mainz is alive with secret police. They have discovered the house which Mr Frazer used as a depot. They have changed all their ration cards and permits in order to detect him.”
“That won’t worry Frazer,” said Sir Walter confidently. “The person I am afraid of is the woman Schumacher, of the German Secret Service. She seems to be a pretty smart lady, and she has evidently got a particular grudge against our young friend. I suppose we couldn’t send anybody to Germany?”
The secretary shook his head.
“There are a lot of men who are willing to go, but I don’t think they would stand a ghost of a chance. Frazer’s the only man, so to speak, who can get Frazer out of the mess.”
“In that case,” said Sir Walter, with a sigh, “we shall have to leave him, as we have left so many other good men, to work out his own salvation.”
No doubt Mainz enjoyed the great spy hunt as it had enjoyed no other sensation. It shared the honour of being the principal topic of conversation with that other surpassingly interesting event, the last British air raid. Wherever men met there was a fierce exchange of theories as to what had happened to “the so-cunning Dodly.”
In the Stadt Coblenz (where lovers of good wine met day and night), in the Casino, in the Concerthaus, in the Scharhag and Rheingauer Weinstube, in the old fashioned rooms of the Heiliger Geist, in the beer-rooms of the two big Brauereien, suggestions, speculations, and the counter-fire of partisanship were exchanged furiously.
For Frazer had his partisans. They would gladly make a pilgrimage to see him hanged, but they were for the time-being his advocates, because he stood in opposition to authority. He had disappeared as though the ground had swallowed him up. Some said that he had been taken away by an English aeroplane, some held the view that in the disguise of a German soldier he had departed in a troop train for the western front, but most of the intelligent burghers of Mainz rejected that theory.
“He is not such a fool,” they agreed.
He had been seen by various people at various times. One man had met him late at night on the Kaiserstrasse. Another had seen him in broad daylight in the Gutenberg Platz. He had been seen at the entrance of the theatre in the disguise of a cabman. He had even been seen at the Palace of Justice. He had been captured often, and had committed suicide at least once by jumping from the Rhine bridge to avoid pursuit.
Berlin, Cologne, Strassburg, and Frankfurt sent special correspondents to join the hunt. One of these gentlemen had recognised Frazer in the little suburb of Kastel, which lies immediately across the river from Mainz, had denounced him to the police, and when the indignant prisoner had proved that he was not only a German but an eminent German preacher the correspondent faded away in ignominy.
Then one morning when the excitement had died down Mainz was startled by a new crime, the most unmanly, ungentlemanly, despicable, barbarous crime that imagination could picture. For the Fräulein Minna Schumacher, paragraphed and famous from one end of Germany to the other, was discovered by an early-morning policeman on one of the garden seats which are to be found in the Kaiserstrasse.
Her hands and feet were strapped, there was a handkerchief tied about her mouth, but the crowning indignity, and one for which the gracious Fräulein never forgave her enemy, was that her nose had been painted red by the freakish Mr Frazer. It was a practical joke which Frazer would never have committed anywhere but in Germany, and it was, of course, unpardonable, but he knew the people with whom he was dealing, and he knew that from one end of Germany to the other a shriek of merriment would arise at the mental picture which would be conjured up of a young and beautiful lady with a red nose.
It was a deliberate act designed to discredit his chief enemy. Fräulein Schumacher’s explanation of the occurrence helped very little to trace the villain. She had been dining with the Commandant of Artillery and his wife, and was walking home along the Kaiserstrasse, followed at a respectful distance by two officers from the Department of Justice.
She had passed an old man hobbling along in the same direction, and later she heard voices behind her, and stopped, to discover that the old man was in altercation with her two shadows, whom he was denouncing in abusive terms. She walked on, not wishing to be mixed up in the brawl, and turned into Forsterstrasse, where she was staying as the guest of some friends. She heard a footstep behind her, and, thinking it was her guard, she did not look round.
Suddenly she was seized, and a well-known voice uttered “insulting words” (what Frazer really said was—“Flossie, you ought not to be out so late.”) She had been gagged, and in spite of her struggles her feet and hands strapped. She was then, according to her account, hoisted over his shoulder, carried round to the southern side of Forster Platz, and deposited in the place where she was afterwards discovered.
The hour was late, pedestrians were few. Her guard having chased off the old man, who was proved to be an inoffensive and passive citizen who had been told by a stranger, evidently Frazer, that these two men were following the girl with evil designs, missed her, thinking that she had gone home, and took their places outside the house until they were relieved the following morning.
With this adventure Frazer became famous, and even attained to the heights of being made the subject of a cartoon in the Jugend.
Minna Schumacher was strangely calm when she interviewed the Chief of Police the following morning.
“The man is here,” she said. “It was worth my unhappy experience to discover that much, and I am going to catch him.”
“I am certain of that, gnädiges Fräulein,” said the polite Chief of Police.
“He cannot escape by the railway nor by the road. Are the river steamers carefully watched?”
“So carefully, gracious lady, that a flea could not escape,” he boasted. “Every row-boat is locked up at night, and there has always been a police patrol on the Rhine since the war began. As for the stories of aeroplanes—the British could not come down in this crowded part of Rhineland without being captured.”
“No new discovery has been made about him?”
The chief of police shrugged his shoulders.
“Except we have proof that he forged upon official forms a message which was unconsciously sent off from the military wireless station two weeks ago,” he said, “it was evidently a code message which the chief operator accepted from a man in military uniform in good faith.”
She bit her lip thoughtfully.
“He must sleep somewhere. He must eat,” she said.
“I have ordered a domiciliary visit to-night,” said the chief of police. All the hotels and houses of accommodation where he is likely to be found will be searched.”
That domiciliary visitation was carried out to the annoyance of perfectly innocent people, but Frazer was not to be found, for the simple reason that he was sleeping that night, as he had slept every night the weather being fine, upon the roof of the police station, which was reachable from the ground by means of a steel fire-escape which ran perpendicularly up one side of the building.
Frazer lay one morning watching the sun rise, his hands behind his head, a mattress which he had borrowed from a store-room in the police building, three or four rugs, and a pillow being his simple equipment.
He could have as easily slept in the store below, but it was safer on the roof. Presently he rose, opened a sky-light, and dropped through to the semi-darkness below. He found his boots and his overcoat where he had hidden them, and opened the door cautiously and listened.
The great police office was silent. The small army of clerks would not make their appearance until nine o’clock, the cleaners had finished their work the night before. The block was untenanted save for the officials on duty on the ground floor and the deputy chief of police, who resided on the premises and occupied a flat on the first floor.
He walked boldly into the room which the clerks used for their ablutions, made a leisurely toilet, carefully removing all evidence of his presence, and walked down the stairs without any attempt at furtiveness, and came to the door of the deputy chief of police. For the accommodation of the deputy chief and his family, and to prevent their passing through the Executive Offices below there was a private entrance. You turned from the landing on which the flat stood passed along a narrow passage flanked on the one side by the party walls of the flat and on the other by the walls of his bathroom, and came to a plain door, which was kept locked, and the key of which was kept by the deputy chief in his apartment.
Fraser opened the door without any difficulty, as he had done every morning for a week and passed down a flight of stone stairs to another door which opened on to a side street. He unlocked and opened the door cautiously. There was nobody in sight. He passed out and locked the door behind him.
His appearance was not one which would ordinarily excite comment. He was wearing the garments he had assumed when he had been surprised, and had fled for his life, and they were the garments of a man of the working classes. One sleeve dangled empty. His face was covered with a week’s growth of beard, and he wore steel spectacles. He looked to be a decent kind of artisan, broken in the wars.
He took his breakfast, which was perforce a frugal one at a small restaurant in a poorer part of the city producing all the cards that were necessary to obtain the somewhat indifferent food which was offered him. On his way he had bought the Frankfurter Zeitung, and this he steadily read through breakfast.
He was amused to discover that the paper considered his latest exploit of sufficient importance to devote half a column to the occurence. What interested him more was to learn that the spy-hunt interested even “the most Exalted Circles,” and that enquiries had been forwarded to the chief of the police, who was keeping those Exalted Circles in touch with all developments.
There was another interesting paragraph which was to the effect that it was expected that His Imperial Majesty would “in the near future”—(“on a day when it is blowing and raining like the devil, and British aeroplanes cannot get over,” said Frazer to himself)—pay a visit to Frankfurt to inspect the damage which the last raid had caused.
He finished his breakfast, put the newspaper in his pocket, and made his way across the town to as near to the railway as he could get. He was particularly interested in making an inspection of that part of the line which ran into Mainz. What he saw satisfied him that nothing was likely to happen that day, and the rest of the day he spent in those parts of the town where it was unlikely he would meet the one person he was anxious to avoid—Minna Schumacher.
The programme he followed that day was the programme he had followed every day, and the programme he proposed to follow on the next day, but his early morning visit to the railway brought about a radical change in his plans, for when he had come within view of the line he discovered that there was a sentry on duty at every dozen yards, and that could only have one meaning.
He had been turning his plan over in his mind, and the details were all well defined to him. If he could only get to Frankfurt he would have no doubt at all. As it was he must take a risk.
At 11.25 that morning a long train drew into the Central Station. It was not like an ordinary train, consisting as it did of seven special saloons drawn by a powerful engine. On the broad, red-carpeted station platform a crowd of officials, civil and military—the civilians in evening dress and top hats, the military in their best fitting tunics—stood in attitudes of reverence. Rifles crashed to the “Present!” The band of the 49th Regiment thundered forth the National Anthem, and a tired man with deep lines under his eyes and a fiercely-cropped grey moustache stepped down, assisted by a body servant, and raised his hand to his helmetted head in salute. There were many bowings, much individual saluting, presentations and handshaking, and the Emperor drew aside the Commander of the Army Corps District.
“General, I have come to discover what you are doing to get your spy.”
“Majesty,” replied the agitated soldier, “everything that can be done has been done. The Chief of Police is here if Majesty would like to speak to him.”
The Kaiser nodded, and the police chief was brought forward.
He explained the steps that had been taken, the guards that had been instituted, the remarkable precautions which had been adopted, and the Emperor listened, firing his questions which the Chief of Police found it difficult to answer.
“You seem to have done your best, but it is no great credit to you, Herr Chief of Police, that in a small town like Mainz a man of this character can remain at large. I understand that Fräulein Schumacher is here. Let her be sent for.”
The girl came in a tremble, for whatever Europe may think, whatever Revolutionary Socialists may write, the Kaiser is not much less than a god to every normal German, man and woman.
“Come, come, Fräulein,” the Kaiser rallied in the boisterous way he adopted when he was not displeased with himself, “we should have thought that you would have been sufficient by yourself to have tracked this man.”
“Majesty, he is a very clever man,” said the girl earnestly. “You can never be sure in what disguise he will appear. He speaks German fluently, and he has been years preparing for his work in Germany. I know at least three towns in the Empire where he maintained apartments, and probably there are twenty.”
“But he is in Mainz now?”
“I am sure of that, Majesty,” said the girl.
The Emperor stroked his moustache.
“I was hoping you had found him,” he said half-seriously. “I should like to see this Englander. He gassed my poor Munsenheim too, scoundrel. Germany lost a great son, though a little too cautious. If he had left the formula of his gas behind he might have been worthy of a monument, but that secret is lost to the world for ever. It is a thousand pities.” He shook his head. “For that crime alone,” he went on, “the man must be found. It is my order, and the whole services of the Empire are at your disposal to discover him and bring him to justice.”
“Majesty,” said the girl helplessly, “it is very difficult. He might be here.” She spread out her arms to indicate the little army of officials and officers who stood grouped at a respectful distance. “He might be one of the porters. He might be in the signal-box. He is the most elusive man in the world.”
The Kaiser shot an apprehensive glance about his officers, and noted and recognised them all. There were strangers on the platform, but he knew well enough that the army corps-commander could vouch for every one.
“I am sorry I cannot wait,” he said.
One of his equerries was standing expectantly by with a sheaf of telegrams, which he handed to his master.
The farewell presentations began. The Kaiser again shook hands, gave salute for salute, and walked slowly back up the little flight of steps which led to the platform of his private carriage, and passed into the saloon. The band crashed forth “Deutschland über Alles,” a horn blew, and the train began to move slowly out of the station.
It was at that moment that the door of the station telegraph office opened, and a messenger in the uniform of the service ran out and ran along the side of the train.
“Urgent for Majesty,” he shouted breathlessly to the officer on the platform of the last saloon.
“Give it to me,” said the officer, bending over.
“Excellency,” said the youth, leaping dexterously on the footboard, “it is a K.Z. message.”
A K.Z. message is a confidential communication from Army Headquarters to the Kaiser himself, and is not to be surrendered without a receipt from His Majesty or from his personal equerry.
“Wait on the platform,” said the officer, and went in search of the equerry.
Captain Baron von Baden, the Kaiser’s equerry on duty, was a bright young man with a sense of humour.
“Here’s your receipt,” he said humourously. “And how do you intend getting back?”
“Excellency,” stammered the messenger, “perhaps Excellency will stop the train at the next station?”
The good humoured equerry laughed.
“You had better stay on the platform.” He pointed to the big red box where breakdown tools were stored. “You can make yourself comfortable on that,” he said. “If we stop at Coblenz you can get off, but I doubt very much whether we shall stop before we reach Kiel,” he added, and disappeared.
The messenger, with the insatiable curiosity of his class, lifted up the lid of the box and noted that it was filled with tools, short-handled shovels, levers, and axes to succour the Imperial train in the unlikely event of the good old German god nodding. He had perched himself on the top of the box when the equerry came back.
“Follow me,” he said, and led the way, the messenger following twisting his hat uncomfortably, through two saloons to one more gorgeously furnished than all, and the tired-looking man sat in a padded chair studying an open telegram.
He looked up sharply.
“Did you bring this message?”
The man tried to speak, swallowed, and said in a shaking voice—
“Was it transmitted in a hurry?”
Again the man swallowed.
“Yes, Majesty,” he stammered.
The Kaiser looked up at his equerry.
“I cannot make head or tail of it. Give it to Falkenhausen and see if it’s some code which we have not tried. That will do.” He dismissed the messenger with a nod, and, unattended, that minor official wandered back to the rear platform and spent his time looking out of the window watching the signals.
Contrary to the expectations of the equerry, the train did make a stop, not at Coblenz but at a wayside station where the signal was against it. Now, to stop the Royal train without reason is an act tantamount to a lèse majesté, and as the Royal saloons came slowly to a standstill at the tiny halt the platform was alive with angry equerries. There was a terrified station-master with a telegram, and this the principal equerry read and rushed straight to the Royal saloon.
“What is the matter?” asked the man at the table.
“Majesty,” said the equerry, “be so pleased as to read this.”The telegram ran:—
“STATIONMASTER, ZOLLBIEGEN.—STOP ROYAL TRAIN AND INFORM HIS EXCELLENCY THE OFFICER IN CHARGE THAT THE SPY DUDLEY OR FRAZER IS ON BOARD THE TRAIN, HAVING OVERPOWERED CLERKS OF TELEGRAPH OFFICE AND LOCKED THEM INTO THE INSTRUMENT-ROOM AFTER COMPELLING ONE TO CHANGE CLOTHES.”
The Kaiser looked up
“Find that man, captain.”
Von Baden drew a revolver from his pocket and raced to the rear of the train, but the platform was empty. On the floor was a coat and a cap, and pinned to the cap was a sheet of paper covered with writing in pencil.
The equerry picked it up and read:—
“Greatly obliged to you for getting me out of Mainz, but fearing that you will soon discover my identity I have taken the liberty of leaving you. I hope we shall meet again.”
The equerry stared bark along the track and returned to the Royal saloon and reported.
“A dangerous man,” said he at the table. “Himmel! what might a man like that do! We will have no further nonsense, von Baden. You shall direct that the train shall not stop again.”
Nor did it until it came slowly into Kiel Station in the early hours of the morning and was shunted to a siding that His Majesty might finish his sleep.
Frazer, lying at the bottom of the red box, covered with axes, saws, and crow-bars—he had thrown half the contents into one of the rivers that the train crossed, and had covered himself with the other half—heard the grinding of the brakes and the jangle of wheels passing over points, and hoisted himself to the fresh air with a noise which would have been plainly audible but for the rattle of the train as it passed over an iron bridge.
Long before the engine had reached the end of the platform he had dropped upon the metals.
It was three days later when a wearied Frazer hoisted himself down the steel ladder to the warm interior of Submarine Z1, which in answer to an urgent summons which came from some mysterious wireless station in Germany—Frazer was one of the three men who knew where it was—was at that moment lying in a white fog off the Frisian Islands.
“And where have you been?” demanded Graham.
“Travelling with the Kaiser,” replied Frazer, and, lying down on the nearest locker, he fell into a sleep from which he did not wake until the submarine was going into a British harbour.
FRAZER dined one night with Sir Walter Herbert, the Minister of Intelligence, and Sir Walter was unusually preoccupied.
“I am afraid you are having rather a dull time, Frazer.”
“I am never dull where there are men and women about,” his eyes ranged the crowded dining-room, and the brilliant little groups that sat about at each table, “people are more interesting to me than books, and my mind is full of speculation. No, sir, I don’t think you are a bad host, and that is what your question implied. I think you are a good host, and I am grateful to the prickings of your conscience or whatever is the cause of your silence, for the opportunity of looking and thinking.”
Sir Walter laughed.
“That is not very complimentary to me,” he said, “but I admit that I am rather troubled. It is a Cabinet secret,” he said after a pause, “but I know I can trust you. Austria wants to come out of the war.”
“That’s thrilling,” said the other lightly. “I have been under the impression that Austria has wanted to be out of the war for a long time.”
“She has,” said Sir Walter, “but this is the first serious move.” He looked at Frazer half-doubtingly. “I hardly know how to say it,” he said.
“Then don’t,” said Frazer cheerfully. “I will save you the trouble. You are suggesting that I should go back to Germany, and you are afraid of asking me, knowing that the Germans are after my blood, and that even if I got into that delightful country they would so effectively stop my bolts that I should not get out.”
“That is a fact,” said Sir Walter frankly. “You have heard of the new regulations?”
“About the coast patrols the moment it is known that I am in Germany? Yes, I am not minimising the danger there, but still, once I get into the Fatherland I think I will find a way out, though I fear we shall have to dispense with the submarine on the return journey.”
“Then you’ll go?” said Sir Walter.
“With pleasure,” replied Frazer; “London is getting on my nerves. The people who aren’t talking about peace are talking about food. I could leave England to-morrow night if that would suit you. How’s the moon, by the way?”
“It’s a new moon,” said Sir Walter.
“That’s good,” said Frazer; “I’ll send a wire to Graham on my way home.”
The Z1 was lying in the basin at Hullwich when Frazer arrived, her black bulk bisecting the dock which served as her headquarters, and Commander Graham, so far from being depressed by the undoubted dangers of this trip, was unusually cheerful.
“There’s only one way in for us, Frazer,” he said, “and that’s by way of the Cattegat and the Baltic coast. We may have to go right up to the Gulf of Danzig to get you a landing.”
“Make it so,” said Frazer nautically; “the doctor has ordered me a sea voyage for my health.”
“You are going to get it,” said the other grimly.
The voyage, however, was singularly free from incident of an unpleasant character. It was true that they had to wait two days submerged outside the territorial waters of Anhalt before they picked up a German steamer to guide them through the belt, but once clear of the danger region there was no further excitement until off Leba, where in the night a small patrol vessel passed them so close that it was possible to have thrown a biscuit on board.
Frazer’s mission was less definite than usual. A sceptical British Government had received an offer of peace through neutral sources. It had been literally bombarded with extracts from German newspaper articles representing the willingness of the Empire to agree to the Allies’ terms, and it was Frazer’s business to secure an accurate understanding of the situation, particularly in relation to the attitude of the military classes.
Sir Walter’s parting injunction had summed up into a sentence the doubt which the Allies felt.
“If Germany wants peace you will find the military officers of that mind too. If it is a fake engineered by the great General Staff to gain respite, then you will find the officers indignant with the idea, and you will probably learn something of the opinion which the private soldiers hold. Especially do I want to know what are the relationships between the Bavarian and the Prussian.”
Though several of Frazer’s secret depots had been discovered, there were many which were as yet untouched.
At Stettin he was an engineer of the Anatolian railway. At Leipzig he was a Colonial official living on one of the islands of the Bismarck Archipelago. In Berlin he was a merchant with large interests in China, and in Dresden he was Herr Michalowski, who had dealings in Persia and was supposed to be associated with the coffee trade. He travelled from Danzig to Posen by easy stages, and met many interesting people on his way.
An untidy-looking civilian in a fur coat one size too big for him, a shirt, none too clean, open at the neck, patent leather shoes with yellow uppers, stood at the buffet on Creuz Station. His chin was unshaven, and the astrakhan hat on the back of his head had seen better days. Nevertheless, he was drinking tea out of a long glass, to the envy of the onlookers, who had not seen tea for years.
“I carry my own tea and my own sugar,” he boasted in bad German. “Do not be deceived when they tell you that we in Russia have none of these things. Here is proof of it, is it not!”
“You're a Bolshevik,” said an interested passenger.
“I am proud of the title. We Bolsheviks fight against the capitalists of the world. British or German, French or American. We stand for the workman. Now, in Petrograd we are all brothers.”
There was a derisive snigger of laughter.
“All brothers, I repeat,” said the man firmly, “and, though you call us lawless from your bourgeoisie point of view, we keep the law better than you. For observe,” he pointed to one end of the buffet where a large placard was hung. “That I have seen in every station since I crossed the frontier. A reward for the capture of an English spy named Dudley. You publish his picture, his description, and yet you cannot capture him. In Petrograd he would have been caught the next day; he would have been marched to the park, a volley from our sailor boys—and finish!”
“Petrograd isn’t Germany,” growled a bearded traveller. “If he was in one little town we could have captured him. But Germany is a very big place, my friend.”
The Bolshevik climbed into a carriage, and the train drew out. For two hours he harangued the audience in the carriage on the iniquities of the bourgeoisie and the devilishness of capitalists all the world over.
At Posen he moved from the third-class carriages, where he had met the common people and the soldiers returning from or going on leave, into a first-class carriage, where he came into the company of officers who were privately warned by the police that the man was presumably a Bolshevik, and likely to be an Anarchist.
Nevertheless, they talked freely, these war-tired officers of infantry in their shabby grey tunics and their soiled cloaks.
“It is not war, it is murder,” said one; “we had the finest material in the world, and it has been thrown away by incompetent leadership.”
“But what peace will the Entente capitalists give you?” asked the Bolshevik.
There was a little murmur in the carriage—a murmur which was as eloquent as a murmur could be—that his audience in general did not care what terms were imposed so long as the war was ended.
“We reserve officers are badly treated,” said another. “The old army cliques stay behind at battalion headquarters, and it is the reserve officer who is sent into battle.”
“That is the way of the bourgeoisie,” said the Bolshevik, who seemed to find such a statement an explanation for all the evil manifestations of life.
At Dresden the two detectives who had been sent to watch him missed him, and because they were as sick of war and the restrictions of war, and because their morale perhaps had suffered as much as the soldiers, they found it easier to report to headquarters that the man was harmless than to report that they had lost him.
And in this way Frazer came to Dresden. He had two rooms at the very top of a five-storey building leading from the Bergstrasse, a building which had neither janitor nor caretaker. He mounted the stairs, opened his door, walked in, and closed it behind him, and the Bolshevik disappeared from that moment.
In his place came Frazer’s favourite character, a dapper lieutenant of the Prussian infantry (he sacrificed his moustache this time), with gold-rimmed monocle, grey cloak, and wrist watch complete, and with his uniform cap at that rakish angle which the Crown Prince had made popular through the German Army. He stalked into the Europäischer Hof, signed his name, “Franz von Ludwig,” with a flourish in the identity book, and was taken to a room.
“The best room in the house,” he demanded loudly, and smirked round to see the effect of his words.
By the evening he was honorary member of a beer club. By the following afternoon he was taken to the bosom of the “Oberst und Kommandant” of the local prison camp, and was sipping indifferent coffee substitute in that officer’s execrably-decorated drawing-room.
“If I were only 30 years younger,” said the Kommandant with a sigh”—he was a stout man, and sighed heavily—“I would have been on the western front with you boys in field grey.”
“You have missed nothing,” said Frazer. “It’s a pig’s life.”
“So I understand. But surely you, so well born and cousin to the Prince of Pless” (for so Frazer had audaciously described himself) “should have a good time.”
“There are no good times on the western front, Herr Oberst,” said Frazer in a melancholy voice.
The Kommandant looked round, and, lowering his voice, asked—
“We shall not last the winter, Herr Lieutenant, do you think ?”
“I am certain that we shall,” said Frazer, but he was not thinking of the German Army.
“Soh?” the Kommandant raised his hands in an attitude so comically reminiscent of a charwoman Frazer had once employed that he almost laughed. “Soh? You cheer we up. All the officers I meet approve of this peace move of the Socialists.”
Frazer mentally noted the fact.
“I shall be glad when it is over,” said the Oberst, sighing again. “One way or the other, it doesn’t matter as long as we get peace and I can get rid of my troubles and devils.”
“Prisoner’ of war?” asked Frazer, and the Commandant nodded.
“And British,” he said with a groan. “You don’t know what these fellows are.”
“Ah, of course you do, of course you do,” nodded the Kommandant, “but you don’t know them in captivity. Herr Lieutenant, they are without discipline. They show no respect to you. In the early days some of our guards—you know how rough and ready the brave fellows are—would give the Britisher a good kick, and what happened? He kicked back! If you tie them up they take no notice. If you put them in cells for insolence they come out and repeat the insolence,” he shook his head. “They are a bad lot. You would like to see them perhaps,” he said suddenly.
Frazer had never visited a prison camp, and the experience promised to be interesting. The next afternoon the Oberst, true to his promise, came round in person in his drosky and picked up Frazer. All the way to the camp Frazer had to endure a lugubrious recital of Germany’s unhappy position.
“There, for instance,” he pointed to the left of the road to a big aerodrome where novices were learning the art of aviation, “in the air we are beaten. We have always been beaten in the air since the beginniug of the war. It was madness to concentrate on Zeppelins and let the Entente get ahead of us in aeroplane construction. Those poor boys,” he shook his head, “what chance have they? Every night we hear them practising night flying—to bomb London! Every night they buzz over my camp pretending that I am the House of Commons!” he shook with laughter at his jest, “but will they ever buzz over the real House of Commons? No, Herr; the war will be over before then.”
“What time do they start their night flights?” asked Frazer carelessly.
“At 8.30. I know the hour, because the prisoners complain they cannot sleep”—that was evidently a joke, too, from the internal laughter with which it was accompanied. “At 8.30 their machines are ready. That tall Herr you see is the Oberst. Ah, war is a sad business!” he shook his head again.
The prison camp lay in the side of the hill in the most exposed position that could have been chosen. It consisted of a number of long huts painted a dull red, and was enclosed by a triple defence of barbed wire. On the four corners of the camp were watch towers, over the parapets of which projected the squat nose of a machine gun. Two sentries paced up and down each of its four faces. There was a further guard on the gate through which the Kommandant and his guest drove. But it was the limited recreation ground which interested Frazer. It was crowded with men, emaciated, gaunt, ragged, but amazingly cheerful. They walked up and down in twos and threes, scarcely deigning to notice the Oberst and the trim figure at his side.
“A pretty crowd of scarecrows, aren’t they?” said the Oberst.
Frazer made no reply.
“I will show you our most notorious prisoner.”
He shouted to a Feldwebel, who came instantly to attention. The Feldwebel shouted to somebody else, and presently from a hut a soldier came slowly, buttoning up his tunic as he came.
“This is a man named M’Farlane,” explained the Kommandant. “Do you speak English?”
“Slightly,” said Frazer.
“He is an interesting devil,” said the Kommandant, with a smile. “How many times have you escaped, M’Farlane?” he asked in English.
“Thairteen,” said the prisoner, “and the next time’ll be fourteen,” he glowered from Frazer to the Oberst.
“That will do, that will do,” said the Commandant, and the man walked slowly away, evidently exchanging grins with the men he passed, for approving smiles met him.
“What can you do to a swine like that?” asked the Oberst in despair. “Yes, indeed, I shall be glad when the war is over.”
Frazer went back to his hotel a little sick at heart. The sight of that prison camp, the unconquerable valour of these men who, held in bondage, starved and ill-treated, were yet able to maintain a cheery and a defiant face to their oppressors, stirred him profoundly.
He went to his room, and came down to dinner that night a thoughtful man. He had reached the inevitable prunes and rice stage of his repast when a waiter approached him.
“Herr Lieutenant,” he said, “you are wanted in the hall.”
“Wanted?” said Frazer. “By whom?”
“By a gentleman.”
“H’m!” said Frazer. “All right. Tell him I am coming.”
He rose, folded his serviette, and walked through the swing doors into the big palm court of the hotel. A man came to meet him, a stiff-built fellow with “policeman” written in every line of his carriage.
“Herr Lieutenant,” he said, “there is some irregularity about your registration. Will you please accompany me to the Kommandatur?”
“Registration!” blustered Fraser. “What the devil do I know about registration?”
“Nevertheless,” said the man firmly, “the Herr Lieutenant must accompany me.”
“Very good,” said Frazer with a shrug. “I will go to my room and get my cloak.”
“That is unnecessary, Herr,” said the man. “I have a cab at the door.”
“Oh,” said Frazer.
He looked across the man’s shoulder toward the hotel bureau. A girl was standing near the counter half-facing him, a girl whose chin was concealed in a deep fur stole, but whose poise was too familiar to be mistaken.
“Isn’t that the Fräulein Minna Schumacher over there?” he drawled, and the police officer was for the moment taken aback.
“Yes, Herr Lieutenant,” he said.
“I will speak to her. She knows me very well,” said Frazer, but the man caught him on the arm.
“It is forbidden that you should speak to the Fräulein,” he said, and this time he spoke with authority.
“Very good,” said Frazer indifferently, and then with a lightning leap he sprang aside, wrenching himself free from the other’s grip.
The crowd in the vestibule scattered before a bareheaded Prussian lieutenant, and in two strides he had gained the door.
“I will shoot anybody who follows me,” he said in German, and then smiled in the direction of the girl. “Have you got me this time, Minna?” he asked in English, and then went out, slamming the glass door behind him.
In the front of the hotel entrance was the cab which had been brought to convey him to police headquarters. One gesture was sufficient to bring the driver tumbling from his perch, and Frazer sprang up in his place, gathered the reins in his hands, and brought the whip smartly over the horse’s bark.
He looked back as he turned into a side street which gave him a short cut to the Wiener Platz and to the outskirts of the city.
Night had fallen, but he had no difficulty in finding his way. The hour of his departure had struck. He chuckled to himself as the sweating horse galloped along a broad road which showed whitely where the feeble lights of the cab cast their gleam.
“Minna Schumacher’s going to get me if I am not jolly careful,” he muttered.
He followed the road to the prison camp, but presently saw a twinkle of light to his left front.
He had had an elementary training in aviation to meet just such an emergency as this. He pulled up the steaming horse, drew it to the side of the road, blew out the lamps, and made his way on foot by the side of the road until he came opposite to the nearest building of the aerodrome. The wire fence presented no obstacles. He heard voices, and proceeded with caution. The Oberst was delivering his parting injunctions.
“The first machine will be piloted by your instructor, Captain Hesselsmann, who will give you light signals. You will follow him to the outskirts of Chemnitz, after which you will return, finding your own way and making your landing. You will not attempt to follow the Herr instructor beyond Chemnitz, unless you wish to land with him at Frankfurt. The Herr Captain will go up first, and you will follow him from the right. Now, there is one more thing I wish to say to you about your landings——”
Frazer waited to hear no more. He slipped round the hangar, and moved out across the broad level stretch of ground which lay before him. He saw the aeroplanes. They were stretched in a long line. That on the right was obviously the instructor’s machine. It was bigger, and even to the eyes of a novice like Frazer it was more modern.
Two riggers were examining the bottom of the lower plane, and stood up as he came out of the darkness.
“Is all ready?” he boomed in as near an imitation of the voice as he could fake.
“All is ready, Herr Captain,” said one.
He swung himself up to the fusilage, sank into the pilot’s seat, and tested the controls.
“Contact!” he said.
He saw the big tractor screw swinging as one of the mechanics pulled on it. Then just before the engine started he heard a shout and a jabber of voices. The engine started with a roar, and the aeroplane began to move forward into the darkness. A figure leapt at him through the night, gripped the edge of the fuselage, and drew himself up.
Frazer turned and aimed a blow, which was warded. The machine was moving rapidly now. Frazer reached for his pistol, but before his hand closed on the butt a hard fist hit him under the jaw, and after that he remembered nothing.
When he came to consciousness he realised that something remarkable had happened. He was no longer in the pilot’s seat, but was huddled up in the little passage-way that led to the forward cockpit, and the machine was flying.
He dragged himself up, rubbing his aching head, and looked over the side. Beneath was a glitter of lights.
“Chemnitz,” he said, but in truth it was Leipzig. They had taken him prisoner, and his captor had relieved him of his revolver. That he found when he put his hand in his pocket. So the unknown Captain Hesselsmann had been too quick for him, had evidently recognised him, and was taking him to captivity.
They passed over blast-furnaces, and white searchlights came up groping for them. More astonishing still, the air was suddenly filled with bursting shell. Still the pilot took no notice.
“If that isn’t Düsseldorf,” said Frazer wonderingly, “I’m a Dutchman. We have come 300 miles.”
At one o’clock in the morning they were above a town that stood on what looked like a wide river, but which proved to be an inlet of the sea.
“Antwerp!” said Frazer. “Where the dickens is he going.”
Soon after two o’clock they were above the sea, and Frazer gasped when from far ahead three searchlights waved up into the sky to be followed by some thirty-three more. It seemed as if the whole of the English coast line had suddenly burst into light. The bombardment which he had experienced at Düsseldorf, and which had been his over the Flemish coast was as nothing to that which greeted his return to England.
Clear of the coast barrage, the nose of the machine went down. It fell swiftly until the pilot’s keen eyes had seen the field he sought. Then it straightened, dipped again, came along bumpily across a meadow, and stopped with a crash which nearly threw Frazer from his seat against a hedge.
The pilot rose and laughed exultantly.
“Noo, ma wee Hun, he said cheerfully, “will ye surrender or shall I give ye anither crack?”
“Who are you?” gasped Frazer.
“Ma name’s M’Farlane,” said the pilot. “Private M’Farlane, of the Royal Flying Corps, and this in ma fourteenth attempt to get awa’. What’s yer name?”
“My name,” said Frazer, choking with laughter, “is Frazer.”
Private M’Farlane chuckled.
“It’s a queer name for a Hun,” he said, “but Ah’ve nae doot ye’re some relative to that graund German General, Mr M’Enson.”
“Ah’m sorry ah hit ye, sir,” said M’Farlane when it was all explained, “but Ah saw ye get in an’ Ah knew it was noo or never, and Ah jumped for it. Man, ye’re lucky. Ah nearly threw ye oot over Dresden, but said I to masel, the wee chap’ll make bonny ballast.”
Frazer reported next morning with quite a sheaf of information.
“You have returned very soon,” said the astonished Sir Walter. “How did you get back?”
“I came back,” said Frazer, “by ‘The Flying Scotsman!’”
“I CAN only suggest one way which you can get ashore,” said Graham; “but, unfortunately, you are a little too fat to go inside my gun, and a torpedo would hardly accommodate vou.”
A fine white mist lay on the waters of the Bight. The lights of a big town near the mouth of the Jade could be seen now and again as the fog thinned, but these lights were as nothing to those which fringed the shore. There must have been fifty great searchlights playing through the mist, now showing as a faint yellow luminosity in a thick bank of fog, now gleaming with dazzling whiteness as the drifting fog-veil become more tenuous.
“Looks bad,” admitted Frazer, “especially as it is pretty certain that in addition to those searchlights there is an active and intelligent patrol moving up and down the coast.”
“I suppose it is absolutely necessary you should get into Germany?” said Graham.
“It is always necessary or I should not take the trip.”
“Don’t be peevish,” said Graham. “What is that?” His voice changed suddenly. “Don’t speak loud,” he whispered. “There’s s boat on the water just ahead.”
Frazer strained his eyes through the gloom, and saw a faint, dark object scarcely distinguishable. Then across the water came a despairing hail. Graham gave an order.
“Get away the collapsible and find out who’s in that boat,” he ordered. “You had better take revolvers with you, Mr Senate. It may be a patrol.
The little boat of the submarine pulled away, and presently returned towing a heavy boat, broad in beam, in which was seated a solitary man.
“It’s a Fritz, sir,” reported the officer. “He’s broken one oar and lost the other and was drifting.”
They drew the boat alongside. It was half filled with little canvas-covered balls, and the frightened man stood in the bow ready to answer any of the questions which Frazer put to him. The interrogation was a long one. It was conducted in that Baltic-German dialect which a good German scholar like Graham could not follow, but which to Frazer presented no difficulties.
“He’s a smuggler,” explained Frazer, after a while. “He and a friend have been smuggling rubber from Denmark. But apparently his friend, who was the sailor of the two, had a fit of delirium tremens after leaving the Danish coast, and jumped overboard, carrying with him one of the oars. Our amateur broke the other. He says he comes from a little village called Swartz, six miles up the coast, and that he has no difficulty in landing, the Custom-House officers being in the swindle. So I think, Graham, I will take my leave.”
“You will go with him?” asked Graham. “Is it safe?”
Frazer chuckled softly.
“Almost as safe as anything else I can think of,” he said. “I must remember this cove. It may be useful.”
A spare pair of oars were shipped to the boat, and Frazer, taking off his coat though the night was cold, pulled away from the submarine. He saw it recede into the fog and presently disappear, bent his weight to the oars, the man in the stern manipulating the tiller.
Early the next morning, in his favourite garb of a Prussian lieutenant, he was speeding southward on the Limited Rhine mail, but this time it was not a dapper lieutenant that his fellow-passengers saw, but a man in soiled field-grey, showing the marks of wear, whose mudded boots and faded gorget patches told of days and nights spent in the open air, and in this role he was moody and not communicative, sitting in the corner of the carriage stroking his moustache and gazing out of the window as the country flew past.
There was another officer in the carriage, as apathetic as Frazer himself, and it amazed the Scotsman to discover that this officer joined in the discussion as to the future of Germany with as much freedom as the rest.
Presently the conversation died down into a moody silence, and Frazer took from his pocket the letter which had brought him to Germany. It was a curious letter, and had been the subject of many debates at the Ministry of Intelligence. But for the fact that it was known that there was some underground working in Germany, some movement which did not appear on the surface, he might have ignored its summons and appeal. It had come to him one morning as he had sat at breakfast in the Carlton, and ran:—
“Dear Mr Dudley Frazer,—You will be surprised to receive this. I am sending it by a friend who is leaving for Holland to-night, and he has promised to post it for me when he reaches The Hague. But your surprise will turn to suspicion when I tell you that I am in the deepest distress and looking round for one brave chivalrous man who can help me, I see only an enemy whom I have betrayed to the police before, and whose destruction I have sought for two years. How can I hope that if business brings you to Germany you will see me? Does it not look like a trap? Yet I want your help, oh so badly. There is none I can trust, and I feet myself the victim of a plot which is not only directed against me, but my family. My father, as you may see, has been the victim already of that plot, and has been dismissed. I cannot understand why we are made victims, for the knowledge of the scheme came to me by accident, and I would have died before I revealed it. As it is, I am suspended from duty and watched. At any moment I may he put in prison. If you come, place an advertisement in the Matrimonial Column of the ‘Frankfurter Zeitung’—
“‘Widower seeks young fair bride with financial resources.’
“Add the capital you require in thousands of marks, and I will take the first three or four ciphers to indicate the time you will meet me and the date. I shall take the hour to mean night. I will then come to you by the Rothschildpark in Frankfurt—near the ruins of the Opera House, which your airmen bombed. Trust me.
The letter itself might be a trap, and the girl who had summoned him might be working for the subterranean influences. On the other hand… He folded the letter, replaced it in his pocket, and returned to his melancholy contemplation of the scenery.
He reached Frankfurt that afternoon and despatched the advertisement he had already drawn up to the offices of the Frankfurter Zeitung.
“Widower seeks young fair bride with financial resources. Bride must have not less than 10 500 marks. Address ‘Languishing,’ c/o this office.”
Frazer rather liked his nom de plume.
The fifth was the following day, and on that morning at her scanty breakfast a pale faced girl with tired eyes, scanning the advertisement column stopped with a little exclamation when she came to this note.
“I knew he would come,” she said and smiled.
Going downstairs she met the surly-looking proprietor of the boarding-house.
“Good morning, Fräulein Schumacher,” he growled.
“Good-morning, Herr Schmidt,” she replied.
“They tell me that your father is under arrest Fräulein Schumacher, and that you are no longer working for the Government. That is fine news.”
“It will make no difference to you, Herr Schmidt,” she said scornfully. “I am not dependent on the Government for my income.”
“But I am dependent on the goodwill of the police, Fräulein Schumacher, said the man, “and twice the Secret Service agents have been here making inquiries for you, also, they have been watching the house, and that gets the place a bad name.”
“Then I will move somewhere else, Herr Schmidt,” she replied, “and when I go out I may come back with two or three officers and make a careful search of the cellars you have dug beneath your cellar, and I daresay we shall find some excellent stores. I have often seen people coming to your back gate to buy hams and butter. They call that profiteering, Herr Schmidt.”
The man’s aspect changed. The bully had disappeared, and a cringing, servile creature stood before her rubbing his hands.
“Pardon, gracious lady,” he said, “it was only my little joke. The gracious lady must not take offence at an old fool. To-night I will see that you have a dinner served in your room which shall recall the glorious times before this cursed war.”
She made no answer, but pushed past him and walked into the street. It was all part of the petty tyranny to which she had lately been subjected. Her father was under arrest in a fortress, having been relieved of his command in the field. Her brother, who had occupied a position on the General Staff, had been returned to his unit, and was fighting on the western front, as she knew, on that sector which was regarded as most dangerous—the part of the front which the British county regiments, Highlanders, and Australians had made their happy hunting ground.
She waited impatiently for the day to pass, and presently night fell.
At a quarter to ten she reached the boarded-up ruins of the Opera House. She turned north, and strolled along the deserted road, on the left of which was the Rothschildpark. There was nobody in sight except one strutting policeman, but that was more than she wanted to see. She had particularly chosen this rendezvous, because from her knowledge of the police routine she knew that after dark no constables of the sadly-depleted force could be spared for that patrol. Still, she had sufficient faith in Frazer to believe that he would circumvent the policeman.
She passed the helmeted man, and gave him good night, which he returned. Looking back over her shoulder, she saw he was watching her, but presently he also turned and strolled in the opposite direction. She came to the end of the park without meeting Frazer. There was light enough to distinguish anybody on the other side of the road.
Frankfurt’s one striking clock tolled ten, and with a heavy heart she turned and walked back the way she had come. The policeman was apparently waiting for her, and she had a sharp spasm of apprehension.
“Good night, Fräulein,” he said as she come abreast of him.
He was a man with a long grey moustache and the severe snap in his voice which is the hallmark of Prussian officialism.
“The Fräulein is out very late.”
“I am going to a concert, Herr Policeman,” she said, “and I was taking a breath of air.”
“The Fräulein should not be alone,” he said. “There are dangerous characters about. What is the Fräulein’s name?”
“I am the Fräulein Schumacher,” she said.
“Ah, gracious lady, the chief of the Anti-Espionage Bureau?”
“I occupied that position, but I do so no longer,” she said
“Ah, well, well.” said the man. “I was hoping the Fräulein would give me a little job to brighten things up; it’s cursed dull here.”
“I am sorry,” said the girl, with a half-smile, “but I cannot assist you to any excitement. Good night, Herr Policeman.”
“Wait a moment,” said the policeman, and he spoke in English. “I wanted to make perfectly sure you weren’t laying for me, Minna.”
“Mr Frazer!” she gasped.
“That is my name,” said the constable.
“But how clever!” There was genuine admiration in her voice. “Of course, if I had been laying for you I should have given you a hint of the fact.”
“Quite right,” said Fraser. “And it’s not a bad idea anyway, because if anybody sees me speaking to you they will never suspect that you are holding intelligence with the enemy. Now stroll along and tell me all your troubles.”
“It is rather a long story,” she said, as she fell in by his side. “A month ago, after your escape from Mainz—when the war is over you will perhaps tell me how you did it—I received instructions from the chief of the Political Bureau at Berlin to secure a dossier in the possession of Captain von Weltzmann, who is the military correspondent of a newspaper published at Magdeburg. Usually, of course, I work directly under the orders of the Great General Staff, but I have frequently carried out commissions for the Political Bureau both with the knowledge and the approval of the army chiefs.”
“Wait a moment,” said Frazer. “You talk of the chief of the Political Bureau. Was he acting entirely for himself or on behalf of some member of the Ministry?”
“I believe it was on behalf of Baron von Kühlmann, the Foreign Secretary,” she said.
“He is anti-militarist, hates and is hated by the General Staff.” said Frazer. “I see. Go on.”
“I secured the dossier. I took a man out of prison to open the safe, and carried off the portfolio, leaving another in its place. This portfolio I took home with me before sealing it up for delivery to the Political Bureau. I saw nothing of the contents except a list of names, evidently a list of Ministers in a Government which was about to be formed.”
“The Chancellor being Hindenburg?”
“No. Ludendorff,” she said, in surprise. “How did you know it was one of those two? As a matter of fact, they were all soldiers or sailors.”
“Well, I sent the dossier off. A week later von Kühlmann delivered an anti-victory speech in the Reichstag and was dismissed. Evidently inquiries had been set on foot about the taking of Weltzmann’s portfolio, and as a result the chief of the Political Bureau was disgraced and I was placed under preventative arrest. If they had stopped there,” she went on bitterly, “I could have forgiven them. But every friend I had, every one of my relations was punished in some way or other. Watched night and day, my telegrams are refused at the Post Office, my letters are all opened—I who have worked so faithfully for the Empire!”
“You have disturbed a little hornet’s nest, my young friend.” said Frazer. “I suppose you know what you have done?”
“If you can tell me I shall be happy,” she said.
“You have secured information about a coup d’état which will place the military party on top and establish Ludendorff as Dictator of Germany. Kühlmann evidently had an inkling of this, and sent you to rifle Weltzmann’s safe, Weltzmann being one of your pan-German blood-eaters. It is exactly the development of which Europe is afraid. If they can get information in time they will put a spoke in Ludendorff’s wheel. Where is your father?”
“At Ingolstadt,” she said “under close arrest.”
“He will be safe there.” said Frazer thoughtfully. “Where is your brother? By the way, was he anywhere near you when you had that dossier in your possession?”
“Yes,” she replied. “He was on leave and staying at my flat.”
Frazer nodded gravely.
“Then they will kill him if they can,” Frazer said. “Can you get a message through to him?”
“Yes; one of his friends in going back to his regiment to-morrow.”
“Can you trust him ”
“Yes,” said the girl quietly, and something in her tone made Frazer think that that friendship was a very close one.
“Tell your brother to escape to the British lines, and when he gets into No Man’s Land to signal with a pocket lamp ‘H.Z.O.’—it is a signal which we use when we are crossing the line. As for you, you must get out of Germany.”
“But how?” she said.
“I am just wondering,” he said thoughtfully. “Anyway, get back to your rooms, write the note to your brother, and deliver it to your friend. Meet me here in an hour’s time.”
The quarter after eleven was striking when he saw her approaching, and saw something else which gave him less satisfaction. On the other side of the road a little distance behind her two men were walking noiselessly. He hailed her in German—
“Good night, Fräulein.”
“Good night, Herr Policeman,” she said and then in a lower tone—“What is it?”
“You are being followed,” he said quietly, and then—“This is very late for you to be out,” he said in his hectoring voice; “let me walk back with you. Have you written the letter to your brother?” he whispered.
“Yes,” she replied, “and I have sent it off.”
The two men were now crossing the road to intercept them, and stood squarely in the path before the policeman.
“Is that Fräulein Schumacher?” asked one.
“Yes,” was the answer.
“I have to arrest you on a charge of high treason and conspiracy against the Imperial State.”
“Excellency,” said Frazer, “would your Excellency desire me to take this woman to the station?”
“You look after your own business,” snapped the man. “I am Police Captain von Kopff, of the Central Police Bureau, Berlin.”
Frazer stiffened and saluted.
“Very good, Illustrious.” he said.
Kopff’ gripped the girl by the arm, and his companion fell in on the other side, when suddenly—
“Don’t move,” said Frazer in German, “and don’t shout, you pig-dog, or I will perforate you.”
“What, what!” gasped the breathless official.
“Attention,” said Frazer. “Stand with your back to the railings, and don’t move.” He waved his pistol under the nose of the police captain, so that he could not possibly mistake it for anything but what it was.
Deftly he snapped a pair of handcuffs upon the wrists of the two men, so that they were fastened together, the link of the handcuff being behind one of the railings.
“You shall pay for this, you swine! I will have you flogged, you clodhopper!” stormed the police captain.
“I do not kill you,” said Frazer tersely, “because the noise of my pistol would attract attention. For no other reason do I spare your miserable life. Please understand that. I am a British Intelligence officer, and I hold the rank of a General, so speak respectfully to me. If you continue to bellow I think that the sound of your voice will drown the sound of my shot, and then I shall kill you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Herr General,” said Police Captain Kopff.
Frazer drew the girl aside.
“A train leaves for the north in twenty minutes,” he said.
“They will never pass me at the station,” she said sadly. “I am afraid you must leave me to my fate.”‘
“They will pass you at the station,” said Frazer, “if you show them this. It is a little thing which I keep for emergencies, and which I have never yet had to use.”
He took out his pocket-book, and slipped a thick card into her hand.
“I shall join you at the station. With this card you need no ticket and no passport.”
He watched her disappear, then he turned back to his prisoners.
“I am going into the park, and I shall be in the bushes behind you. If you betray my presence I shall shoot you.”
With extraordinary agility he pulled himself over the rails, and they heard him tramping through the laurels behind them. They did not hear him speeding along the grass nor see him reach the main road, and it was not until three in the morning that a real policeman discovered them and set them at liberty, by which time Frazer and his charge were travelling northward.
He had made his way to his hotel, opened one of the little brown bags which he always carried, and which he invariably kept locked in the bathroom, and had taken out a bored-looking pigeon.
“Sunny Jim,” said Frazer as he fastened a thin paper to the bird’s legs with a rubber band, “Sunny Jim, your way home is a much safer one than mine.”
He flew the pigeon from his window and changed.
The girl had been challenged at the station, had shown, with some trepidation, the card which in her faith in Frazer she had not even examined. The pasteboard had been handed to a captain of police, who had given it back to her with such reverence that she almost collapsed in surprise. And the station officials had found a carriage for her, and had bowed her into it.
She saw nothing of Frazer till they were well clear of Frankfurt, and then he strolled along the corridor, the boldest Dragoon officer, monocle in eye, ogling every woman he passed, and presently came into her compartment and pulled the door behind him before he sat down.
“Had no trouble?” he asked.
“None. I haven’t had time to look at the pass. What was it?”
“Look at the signature,” he said.
She took up the little green pasteboard and her head swam. For, beneath an admonition to pass the bearer at all hours and to all places, was that flowing signature, Wilhelm Rex Imperator. It bore a date of three days earlier.
“You are a wonderful man,” she said.
“Wait till we are out of this infernal country,” he said grimly, “before you tell me that I am wonderful.”
Though they were booked through to Bremen they left the train at Creffeld and together passed through the dark streets to one far darker than all the rest, where Frazer had one of his caches.
 Creffeld: now Krefeld.
Before dawn two peasants, a man and a boy, roughly dressed, passed through the suburbs of Creffeld on the long road which leads to the Dutch frontier. For five nights and days they tramped westward, moving by night and sleeping in woods by day. They lived on biscuits and chocolate, shared a common couch, were fired at by sentries, swam canals together, and one grey morning they reached unexpectedly a broad river.
“You must go on by yourself,” said the girl. “I cannot move another step. You have been wonderfully good to me, Mr Frazer. I always used the word ‘sporting’ with contempt, but I now know that it is the sporting spirit of Britain which has made you win this war.”
She was sitting on the ground, a dejected and weary figure.
“Come along,” he said cheerily, and lifted her in his arms.
Then as suddenly he put her down again for a gendarme was walking towards them.
“I am afraid there is going to be a shooting match,” said Frazer.
“Go, go,” she begged. “You have done all you can for me.”
“Don’t be silly,” said Frazer. “By gad!”
The girl saw his eyes brighten.
“Good-morning.” he called to the approaching gendarme.
“Good morning,” replied the policeman with a smile, but his language was not German. It was Dutch, and the girl, with a little sob of joy, collapsed.
They carried her across the bridge to the little frontier village, and after she had drunk a strong cup of coffee she revived.
“Is there any news?” she asked eagerly.
He was sitting on a chair by the side of her bed reading a Dutch newspaper.
“Has there been a coup d’état?”
He shook his head.
“No,” he said. “Your father was released yesterday, and——”
“And?” she repeated.
“Ludendorff has resigned, “said Frazer. “Evidently Sunny Jim got home.”
“Who is Sunny Jim?” asked the curious girl.
“Another bird,” said Frazer, with unpardonable vulgarity.
FOUR men sat in the cosy lounge of Frazer’s little house in Curzon Street. He had recently taken this bijou residence, and the three men who sat about the bridge table with him had been his guests at the house-warming dinner. They were in evening dress, although two of them were servicemen indulging in the luxury of mufti, the occasion warranting such magnificence.
Of the three one was Graham, his weather-tanned face looking like mahogany above his white shirt-front. Another was Major Haynes, chief of the Counter Espionage Bureau, and the third was a tall, clean-shaven man with deep-set eyes and massive jaw, who, despite the employment of an occasional American idiom, for he was born in Ohio, was undoubtedly Scottish. This was Malcolm Macfee, sometime of the American Department of Justice, now attached to the British Secret Service, and engaged in the unravelling of one of the most fantastic schemes which German ingenuity had devised or Allied genius had set itself to check.
Frazer and Haynes were scoring the last rubber, for the hour was late, and two of the men had heavy work for the morrow.
“Exactly 12s 6d you owe me, Haynes,” said Frazer with great satisfaction.
“To bring a man to your house, give him an indifferent dinner, and rob him,” said Haynes, “is not exactly the height of Scottish hospitality, but when amongst your victims you include a brother Scot, returned from exile in a foreign land——”
“It is worth the money,” interrupted Macfee, who was sizzling soda into a glass at the sideboard.
“How are things going, Macfee?” asked Frazer.
“Extremely well,” he said, “but the Bund[10} is a bigger job than I anticipated. I have got to go to Glasgow in the morning to see a man, and I think I shall have one section of this society under lock and key before to-morrow night.”
[10} The amazing story of the Bund and its ramifications in Britain and the Continent may be told at another time. This daring attempt on the part of the German to corner the trade of the world and to recover by intrigue and sheer criminal activity all that the German lost in the war need only be hinted at in the present narrative.
“I don’t think old Frazer realizes,” said Haynes quietly, “that whilst he is dodging in and out of Germany, his Hun counterpart is dodging in and out of Britain.”
“I should think it was likely,” said Frazer, “but I thought there were two men only who were capable of that kind of job, Sweizer and Feifer, and that you had caught one.”
“Sweizer is caught all right,” said Haynes grimly, “but Feifer has so far defied capture.”
“Good luck to him,” said Frazer fervently. “I am too much of a fox myself to have a great deal of sympathy with the hounds.”
“By the way,” interrupted Graham, “I haven’t heard any news of Minna Schumacher since you brought her to England. What have you done with her? Interned her?”
“She is under observation,” said Frazer. “I am sorry for that poor little person. The Hun General Staff has strafed her father, and she is feeling very bitter. Undoubtedly she was the best agent that Germany had, but now, I should imagine, the worst enemy. You see, she’s a Saxon, and never had any great love for the Prussian.” He turned suddenly to Haynes. “Is Feifer in England now?” he asked.
Haynes nodded, and Frazer’s eyebrows went up.
“That accounts for it,” he said.
“Accounts for what?”
“I saw her yesterday. She is in London, and she was rather mysterious. Told me that the Great General Staff had ordered her execution, and hinted that there was somebody in England who would carry it out.”
“That’s Feifer,” said Haynes, “though I guess he is not here on vendetta duty. He is the biggest man they have now, and only takes on first-class jobs. He is hardly likely to risk capture unless the General Staff are in desperate need. My own view is that he is here in connection with Bulgaria.”
“What is happening to Bulgaria?” asked Macfee, curiously.
“She is coming out. It is not generally known outside Government circles that she has been trying to negotiate a peace in Switzerland. The German has heard of this, and is anxious to make sure. Without sharing the secrets of the War Cabinet, I know that very long cipher cables are arriving from Paris and Salonika to Downing Street, and that looks like business.”
“What sort of man is Feifer?” asked Frazer.
“A young man, very smart, rather good-looking, very unscrupulous.”
“I am unscrupulous, too,” said Frazer. “You needn’t add that description. You cannot be a secret agent of the Government unless you are. Anything else?”
“He is a fanatical Prussian,” said Haynes, “and according to my information, he arrived in this country three days ago via one of the neutral ports.”
Suddenly the telephone bell in the hall rang shrilly.
Frazer answered the call, and they noted a change in his voice from careless inquiry to one of sharp, intense interrogation. Presently he came back quickly.
“Minna Schumacher has been shot,” he said. “They have taken her to a nursing home.”
“Shot!” said Haynes “Where did this happen?”
“She was coming out of the Tube Station at Oxford Street, and was walking down Argyll Street to her apartment when she was fired at.”
“Is she seriously hurt?”
“Not seriously,” said Frazer, “but she wants, to see me.”
“That’s Feifer,” he said. “So he was on vendetta duty after all. If you don’t mind, I will go along with you.”
They found a taxi, and drove to the nursing home in Belgravia whither the girl had been taken. The surgeons had finished their operation when the two men arrived.
“It is not a very dangerous wound,” said the doctor in answer to Frazer’s inquiry. “She has been shot through the fleshy part of the right arm, and no bone has been touched. Evidently a Browning pistol was used, but the wound is a small one.”
He led the way up to the little cubicle where Minna Schumacher lay, white but smiling. She looked askance at Haynes, but Frazer reassured her.
“A friend of mine, Minna,” he said, seating himself at the side of the bed. “What happened?”
“I am no wiser than you,” she replied. “I walked out of the tube into the very dark street. I saw somebody standing in the middle of the road, and I heard the shot.”
“Do you know who it was?”
She made no reply.
“Let me help you to remember, Miss Schumacher,” said Haynes, with his gentle smile. “I think it was our friend Feifer.”
She started and looked up at him.
“Feifer!” she faltered.
“There is no need for you to shield him. I know he is in England, and I know he is the only man who would take the risk of shooting at you in the heart of London.”
She made no reply for a moment, then she said—
“I can only tell you this—that if you have a precious secret to protect at this moment you should be guarding it. The man who shot me is not in England for the sake of his health—or for mine,” she smiled.
“That I know,” said Haynes; “and he did not come to shoot you.”
She shook her head.
“I do not think so,” she said quietly. “I can tell you no more; indeed, I know very little more, except that the man who tried to kill me is in a bigger game than I ever touched.”
She looked up at Frazer.
“I am being an awful nuisance to you, Mr Frazer,” she said ruefully, but he patted her hand.
“To-morrow I will send you some flowers and some chocolates, which I understand are the best remedies for a case like yours. And now get to sleep, little Minna.”
They passed down the stairs into the street.
“I think we had better go to headquarters,” said Frazer. “It looks rather to me as though our friend’s work was done. He would hardly compromise his safety unless his more serious business was disposed of.”
They found the Minister of Intelligence on the point of retiring to bed, and explained what had happened.
Sir Walter listened gravely.
“I can easily find out,” he said, and opened the cabinet which contained his private telephone. He gave a number, and was immediately answered. From the one-sided conversation which followed Frazer gathered that there was trouble.
Presently Sir Walter hung up the receiver.
“Bulgaria has applied for an armistice,” he said. “The code message came through to-night. The Chief of the Treasury Telegraph Department was on the point of ringing me up when I called him. He thinks the message has been tapped.”
“Where?” asked Frazer and Haynes together.
“Between the General Post Office and Downing Street,” said Sir Walter. “The telegraphists in Whitehall report that there was a momentary interruption on the wire soon after the message began to come through.”
“Was it in code?”
“Yes,” said the Minister. “But that will not present any insuperable difficulties to the Hun if he has got the message.”
The two men chased down to Downing Street and interviewed the chief telegraphist. The private wire was carried overhead from the central telegraph station.
“There is only one place where it could have been tapped, and that is where it is carried over Kenyon’s Private Hotel in Portland Place,” he said.
“I would like to interview the proprietor of that hotel,” said Haynes.
They got the proprietor out of bed by ’phone, and five minutes later were being admitted.
Kenyon’s Hotel was one of the most select and exclusive in London. It was a hotel greatly favoured by members of the Government and diplomats on a visit to London.
Haynes ran down the list of the guests and stopped before one.
“Who is Mr H. Smith?” he asked.
“He is a gentleman who recently arrived from Holland,” said the proprietor, “a very quiet young man who has been helping with the repatriation of prisoners of war.”
“I would like to see him,” said Haynes. The two accompanied the proprietor to the third floor and stopped before a door which the dim light in the passage showed to be No. 23. A pair of boots had been placed outside for cleaning.
“It looks as if the gentleman is in bed and asleep,” said Frazer, and knocked gently.
There was no answer. He knocked more loudly. Still there was no answer. He tried the door It was locked, but the proprietor produced a pass key and snapped back the catch. He opened the door gingerly and stepped in. The room was in darkness.
“Mr Smith,” he called gently.
There was no reply. He switched on the light. The room was empty. The bed had not been slept in, and the window was open. There was a trunk at the foot of the bed, and this Haynes opened without ceremony. It contained nothing more satisfactory than four bricks wrapped in newspaper.
“This is the third floor,” said Haynes looking round. “What is above this?”
“Nothing but the roof.”
“And how do you get on to the roof?”
The proprietor smiled.
“It is not necessary to get on to the roof except in case of fire, but there is a small trapdoor at the end of the passage which is reached by a circular staircase.”
“Let’s have a look at it,” said Frazer.
To the proprietor’s surprise the trapdoor was unbolted, and they pushed it back, and found themselves standing on the flat roof of the hotel.
“There’s the telegraph post,” said Haynes, pointing to the corner of the roof. He walked rapidly in its direction, “and here,” he said, stooping and picking up some small object, “is the instrument that Feifer used.”
It was a delicate little receiver, and investigation showed that wires were attached to one of the overhead lines. A further search showed two sheets of blank paper, one of which bore a faint impression as though the message had been written on the sheet above by somebody who exercised pressure on his pencil.
This Haynes carried to the light and spelt out the message—
“That’s the Double Code all right,” he said, “and Feifer’s got it.”
The two men looked at one another.
“This looks to me to be pretty serious,” said Haynes, and Frazer nodded.
They went back to the Ministry, and found Sir Walter waiting for their report.
“It is as I feared,” he said when they told him what they had discovered. “The Government is in a terrible state of mind. That message must not reach Germany.”
“What does it mean?” asked Frazer.
“I can tell you this under a seal of confidence,” said the Minister of Intelligence. “Bulgaria has asked for an armistice, and the terms on which the Government will grant that armistice have been forwarded to London for confirmation. Those terms will place the Germans in an unfavourable position; but on this point the enemy is doubtful. The German Government cannot move until it knows exactly how far Bulgaria is prepared to go.”
“But what difference does that make?” asked Haynes. “Surely an armistice is an armistice.”
“There are German troops in Bulgaria and Rumania,” said the Minister. “If the Bulgarian agrees to our occupying strategical points and gives us the use of his railways the Salonika forces will constitute a very serious menace to Austria and Turkey. Germany is being hard-pressed on the western front, and has few reserves to spare. If there is any danger she must rush troops down to the Balkans to cover the retirement of her forces. Therefore it is essential that she should know the terms before they are published. Now, Major Haynes, it is your job to see that this man Feifer does not escape from England, and if he escapes it is your task, Frazer, to see that that message does, not reach German General Headquarters. The police have already been warned, and every station and every line from London is being patrolled.”
(“Poor devil,” said Frazer under his breath.)
“And if he does get away,” he smiled round at Frazer, “well, it will depend upon the sagacity of our young friend.”
Frazer pulled a wry face.
“I have it in my bones,” he said, “that I am going back to Germany.”
“There are worse places,” said the philosophical Haynes.
“There is a worse place,” corrected Frazer: “but you have to die to discover it.”
Throughout the night the search went forward vigorously. Before daybreak their quarry had been located. Near London was an aerodrome where novice pilots were trained, and in preparation for early morning flights mechanics had brought out a number of machines. Of what happened only the briefest version had come through. Haynes describing the event to Frazer in the morning, said that apparently Feifer had come out of the night (his motor-bicycle was afterwards found by the road), had held up a mechanic at the point of his revolver, had started the machine, and had flown away in the darkness.
The machine had been heard as it crossed Horsham, and it was evidently going southward. It was seen by a South Coast patrol winging over the sea, and excited no comment because it was a British machine, and presumably was flown by a British pilot.
The morning was misty, but a patrol boat had seen it coming down, apparently into the sea two miles away, and, thinking there was an accident, had pushed in that direction to discover the machine derelict and the pilot gone.
“Submarine,” said Frazer. “That means I have got a day’s start of him. He cannot get through the barrage in the Straits of Dover, and will have to make a long detour round the North Coast of Scotland.”
He turned to Graham, a sleepy figure in pyjamas and dressing gown.
“Graham, my friend,” he said, “get down to your tin fish and make her ready for sea. I will follow by the next train.”
That afternoon the Z1 put out to sea with black clouds banked up in the northeast, and a fitful cold wind blowing the rain in the teeth of the three men on her superstructure.
“We are going to have dirty weather,” said Graham. “I have only one regret.”
“What is that?” asked Fraser
“That Haynes isn’t here,” said Graham, grimly.
They were well into the Bight, and were threading the narrow passage between the minefields when Graham, looking through his periscope, swore softly.
“What’s wrong?” asked Frazer.
“There’s a U-boat on a parallel course,” he said.
“No. On the surface.”
He stopped the engines and waited.
“I must let her get ahead of me. The mine passages converge to the south of Heligoland, he said.
He waited an hour before he resumed the journey.
“I’ve been thinking,” said Fraser.
“What have you been thinking?”
“I suppose that boat which took Feifer couldn’t get through the Dover barrage?”
Graham shook his head.
“It would be tremendously difficult.”
“Feifer would do it,” replied Frazer, with conviction. “Time is everything to him, and I do not think he would lose three or four days going round the Orkneys, the more so as he would have to circumvent the minefield which goes up to the Arctic circle.”
They were proceeding now more cautiously. To break surface again in the daylight would be attended by too many risks. Frazer had decided to make his landing on the Holstein Coast, steal a passage on a goods train which would carry him across the Kiel Canal, and make his way across country to a depot which he had long established, but never used, in Hanover.
“This rain will bring the sea down a bit,” said Graham. “I will have to take a risk and come to the surface. Are you ready?”
Frazer, dressed in his shore clothes, nodded.
“I think we are about two miles from the shore,” said Graham. “I can stand in another mile, but you will have to take your chance after that. It will be dark in half an hour’s time, and the searchlights should not be able to pick you up unless you have very bad luck.”
He gave an order, and two of his men made ready the collapsible boat as the Z1 moved slowly shoreward. They had gone a hundred yards when Graham uttered a cry of warning. Right ahead of them in the water was a dark object.
“Jump!” yelled Graham, but before Frazer could obey there came the crash of an exploding gun. Something hit the fore-deck and smashed through the thin steel hull as though it were paper.
“Hands on deck!” roared Graham. He turned to Frazer—“I am afraid this is our finish!”
As the men came tumbling up the U-boat ahead of them slewed round and manoeuvered alongside. A sharp voice called from the deck—
“Get ready to abandon your ship!”
“Jump for it, boys,” said Graham. “The Z1 is finished!”
She was already going down by the bow, for the water was pouring into her fore compartments, and her crew jumped or scrambled to the sloping deck of the German submarine.
“Sorry,” said a voice.
A young officer came forward to Graham.
“Your name is Graham, I think,” he said, “commanding the Z1.”
“Right first time,” said Graham coolly.
“Good!” said the German officer. “A friend of mine is very anxious to meet your passenger. Mr Feifer!”
A young man clad in oilskins came slipping and sliding along the rolling deck.
“It is the Z1, isn’t it?” he said in excellent English. “Ah. now which is the admirable Mr Frazer? My name is Feifer, and I would like to meet him before he dies.”
There was no answer, and the German officers looked round.
“Which is Frazer?” asked the submarine commander sharply, and walked along the ranks of the crew peering into each face.
His search was fruitless, for Frazer at that moment was swimming steadily through the waves to the shore, treading water now and again to consult the little compass which was strapped to his wrist.
BETWEEN the mouth of the Eider, in Holstein, and the mouth of the Elbe, which separates Holstein from Hanover, a trace of the coast-line gives you the profile of an old man with a big, open mouth. It was on the bleak shores of the mouth at a point west of Meldorf that a weary man pulled himself ashore and lay for twenty minutes in the driving rain, exhausted but alert.
The distance from the point where the British submarine had sunk and the shore had been less than Graham had calculated, but it was quite far enough for a man impeded as Frazer was. At intervals along the shore he knew there were guard huts, and the shore-line itself was protected by barbed wire. Though he had dispensed with his coat in the water and had kicked off his shoes, he had retained his insulated wire-cutter, and he made short work of the obstacle.
He heard a dog barking on his left front, and turned to the right, keeping well to the shadow of a hedge, and reached without mishap a small village town, which he decided was Meldorf.
The first thing he had to do was to get clothing, and the nearest of his depots was Grünenthal, 12 miles to the east. A 12-mile walk in stockinged feet did not appeal to him. He knew there were no shops to burgle in Meldorf, and that clothing could not be secured, save by means of coupons, so that it was useless to burgle any ordinary dwelling.
There was only one place in Meldorf where clothes might be found in plenty, and that was the police barracks. He reconnoitred the town and found the police station and three custodians of the law sitting about a fire discussing the wildness of the night, the sound of gun-firing which had been heard at sea, and such topics as the rural constabulary find to talk about in the hours when they should be facing the bitter blast, but have, in fact, only reached the stage of contemplating their coming ordeal.
The storeroom was at the back of the station, adjoining the one big cell which at present was unoccupied. It was bolted and padlocked when Fraser arrived.
Two hours later, when the police came into the annex to incarcerate a German deserter, they discovered both bolt and padlock gone, together with a complete uniform, overcoat, top boots, cap, and sundry other articles. Whereupon the chief of the police, who was a sergeant, in agitation wired to Grünenthal, but received no reply, for the excellent reason that Frazer had not abandoned his wire-cutters, and had snipped all telephone connections, not only with the police station but with the village, before he squelched through the mud, a cheerful young man, on the southern road.
Four miles out of Meldorf he came to a halt, for the road ran by the side of the railway. A slow passenger train southward bound appearing at that moment Frazer, as a representative of German constabulary, boarded it. Thereafter all was plain sailing. He reached his depot, a ground-floor fiat in the working district of the little town of Vehrte, which is almost twelve minutes’ ride from Osnabrück, and reappeared at Osnabrück itself in the safest of his disguises, the inevitable lieutenant of Prussian infantry, of which there are some two hundred thousand in Germany.
All the main trains to Aix-la-Chapelle (he judged that Feifer was on his way to Field Headquarters) from Hamburg and Kiel stopped at Osnabrück, and here the passengers are usually allowed from fifteen to fifty minutes’ stay. The 5.27 from Kiel, which is a fast train, stops only for eight minutes, and as this was the first train that Feifer could catch unless he came by special or had caught the 8.50 sleeper of the night before (a contingency which was extremely unlikely) Frazer guessed that he would be on this train.
He strolled into the telegraph office and scanned the board on which the names of those for whom telegrams are waiting are written. The name A. Feifer occurred three times, and, satisfied, Frazer stole out again.
Presently the big train drew in, and at one of the windows, leaning with his elbows on the ledge, Frazer saw his man.
“The Herr Lieutenant cannot travel by this train unless he has engaged his seat,” said the urbane conductor firmly, “and all the seats have been booked for a week.”
“The Herr Conductor does not know my name,” said Frazer, “and he certainly does not know that I am on short leave and am anxious to reach my family.”
The conductor shrugged.
“It is deplorable,” he said, “but the Herr Lieutenant’s name unless it is written on my reserve list cannot affect the situation.”
“I have no card,” said Frazer, “but I have written it down for you, and I require no more than a seat on the baggage.”
“It is impossible,” began the conductor, but Frazer handed him a piece of paper, on which he had previously scrawled the first name that occurred to him. The conductor looked at the man, and his countenance changed.
“It is forbidden, of course, that passengers should ride in my van,” he said mildly, “but in these iron times much that is forbidden is done. If the Herr Lieutenant will follow me I will take his bag.”
He picked up Frazer’s satchel and led the way through the corridor into a large and roomy brake, which was half-filled with passengers’ baggage. The name which Frazer gave did not impress the conductor so much as the fact that it was written on the back of a five hundred mark note.
Frazer sat down to smoke and to think. Between 11.19, when the train pulled out of Osnabrück, and 4.30 that afternoon, when it would arrive at Aix, it was his business to secure from Mr Feifer a precious packet which he did not doubt that gentleman carried securely fastened to the inside of his waistcoat.
The carriages were fortunately of the corridor pattern, communicating with the brake, and after the train had left Lengerich he strolled aimlessly down the narrow passage which runs by the side of the compartments. Out of the tail of his eye he saw Feifer sitting in one corner of a compartment labelled “Crown Service. Private.” He had hoped to find him alone, but sitting bolt upright on the other side of the carriage was a stalwart non-commissioned officer of police, a resolver in his belt, his sabre laid on the carriage seat.
Mr Feifer was taking no risks, thought Frazer, and smiled. The fact that the superspy was guarded was very satisfactory. It showed that he still carried the document, and that he had not transmitted, as Frazer feared might be the case, his precious secret by the telegraph wire.
When Cologne was reached he was no nearer achieving the object of his mission, and he was little more than an hour and a half from the end of his journey. Here Feifer was joined by two staff officers, who entered the carriage with him, and the stalwart police officer was left behind.
When the train pulled out Fraser again promenaded along the corridor, and found, to his annoyance, that the blinds of the spy’s compartment had been pulled down. He tried the door gingerly, but found it locked. It was still raining heavily, and was cold. There was nobody in the corridors but himself.
He went back to the brake, opened his bag, and took out a long brass syringe. This he filled from a fluted blue bottle, very carefully screwed a stopper to the nozzle of the syringe, and made his way to the covered platform of the carriage in which his man was travelling. He had hoped to secure his ends by less crude methods, and that which he now projected was the ultimate plan which he was always equipped to carry into effect.
Less than an hour separated him from failure. Perhaps he had already failed, but the fact that Headquarters had sent two officers of the General Staff to Cologne to intercept their man was at least promising. He judged that the Great General Staff was anxious to decode the cipher message of which they held the key, with as little delay as possible, so that the plain message might be presented to the military rulers of Germany just as soon as the train arrived at Aix, which was then the Field Headquarters.
If his surmise was wrong all his trouble was for nothing. If these men waited until they reached Aix before the terms of the Bulgarian armistice were decoded and examined there was no chance of a successful issue to this adventure.
He put the syringe in his pocket, and had thrust into the belt of his trousers beneath his tunic the two long Brownings which he so seldom used, but which now might be vitally necessary. For about the twentieth time he looked up at the roof of the carriage. The lamps had long since been removed, for, as he knew by bitter experience, there was neither light nor warmth for the comfort of German railway travelers. The glass shades and brass fittings had also been removed, and that this was the case in the compartments he had verified by a very careful examination in the course of his two promenades.
Above the place where the light had been was a small iron cupola which could be opened from the roof, from whence the railway officials were able to attend to the lamps and replace the bulbs in the old days of electric light.
He looked through the window, blurred with rain, and after a moment’s hesitation opened the door and stepped on to the footboard, closing the door behind him. The wind caught his breath, and the force of it almost flung him from his insecure foot hold. The rain lashed and stung his face, and he was wet through in a few seconds. He had duly noted the four steel rungs placed on the side of the carriage for the convenience of the cleaners, and mounted swiftly to the roof.
He crawled forward until he reached the third cupola. As he expected, it was clamped down by a steel rod, the ends of which were fastened with wire. This he unwound rapidly and pulled out the rod. Happily it opened in the direction the train was taking. He glued his eyes to a crack and grinned.
Three men sat facing him where he lay. Feifer was in the centre, the two staff officers on either side. On Feifer’s knees was a large foolscap sheet of paper covered with fine writing. One of the staff officers held a book in his hand, evidently the code. The other, with pad and pencil, was writing at his dictation. In that howling gale Frazer could not hear a word which was spoken, but he saw Feifer’s finger tracing the third line, and knew that the decoding had only just started. Stealthily he pulled the syringe from his pocket, unscrewed the brass cap, lifted the cupola a little more, and took aim.
“2971, Colonel,” Feifer was saying, in a low voice (though if he had shouted Frazer would not have heard him).
“That means ‘Plenipotentiaries agree on behalf of their Government,” said the man with the book.
“Plenipotentiaries agree on behalf of their Government,” repeated the officer on Feifer’s left, as he wrote it down.
“‘57431,’” read Feifer.
“‘To the occupation of,’” read the man with the book.
The staff officer on Feifer’s left repeated the words as he wrote.
“‘74006,’” read Feifer.
At that, moment there was a strange, hissing noise, some yellow liquid splashed over the paper which he held on his knees, the close air of the carriage was filled with a pungent, sickly scent, and Feifer, with a yell of pain, wiped his hand vigorously on his coat.
“The paper, the paper,” cried one of the officers, but the paper that lay on the floor was already black and smouldering where the acid had struck it. Only for a second were the three bewildered men in ignorance as to the direction from whence the attack had come. Feifer heard the clang of the cupola as it fell, and leapt to the door.
“Curse it! It’s locked! The key, the key!” he said.
“What was it?” asked the Colonel.
“Frazer,” said Feifer between his teeth, as he snapped hack the lock and dashed into the corridor. The platform door was open, and he swung out fearlessly, climbed on to the roof, but nobody was in sight. He came down again, wet through, rushed down the corridor, stopping only to interrogate the conductor. Yes, the conductor had seen a Herr Lieutenant wet through. He was in the brake. Feifer flew along the passage, but the door which communicated with the brake was shut and locked. He dashed back to the conductor, and presently, with a grind of brakes, the train slowed down in obedience to the alarm signal which the official had pulled.
They brought axes and smashed in the door of the brake, but Frazer was gone. He had stopped only long enough to lock the door before he had wriggled through the window, groped his way along the footboard to the rear of the train, and as he felt it slow down he jumped to the middle of the track. He had cleared the ditch at the side of the road with a bound, was over the hedge, and was flying down a narrow, hedge-lined road at top speed. The country was fairly desolate and, he guessed, marshy. The road, sheltered as it was by hedges, was above the level of the surrounding fields, which had that air of dreariness which only bog-land possesses.
He stopped once at a level-crossing. There was nobody in sight and no custodian. He shinned a telegraph post and cut the eight wires which ran, as he knew, to Cologne. He hid till nightfall, and waited at a siding near a tiny village, the name of which he did not know, until at three o’clock in the morning a lumbering goods train passed through on its way to Cologne.
It was moving slowly, and he had no difficulty in swinging himself into an empty truck.
He came to Cologne in the early hours of the morning, and reached his depot without being challenged. His depot was a tiny room on the fourth floor of a house at the back of the Bahnhof.
“Feifer or no Feifer,” said Fraser, “this is where I sleep.”
He stripped himself of his wet clothes, rubbed himself over with a towel, changed into a civilian suit, and, lying down on the little pallet bed, musty from disuse, fell into a dreamless slumber.
It was dark when he woke, and, looking at his watch, he found it was nine o’clock. He knew now that the chase was a long and bitter one. Feifer himself would be on his track, and Feifer would anticipate his every move. He made a rough meal of biscuits and chocolate, washed and shaved in the dark, and with the aid of an electric torch selected one out of three available uniforms. Then he sat down in his shirt-sleeves to finish his toilet. The fixing of a short, pointed flaxen beard may seem a fairly simply business to the uninitiated, but when that beard and moustache have to pass inspection in daylight, and when every strand of hair must be gummed on separately and the whole finished off with scissors, the simplicity of the operation is not so apparent.
It was eleven o’clock when Frazer, after a final approving glance at himself in the glass, slipped on the uniform jacket of a naval lieutenant captain, conspicuously adorned with the ribbon of the Iron Cross of the First Class, put his hat at a rakish angle over his eyes, and pulled over all a long blue boat-cloak.
He had a final look-round, pocketed his pistols, lit a cigar, and stopped forth into the deserted streets of Cologne. He had reached the corner near the Dom when he heard the tramp of marching feet, and saw a strong body of gendarmes turn into the thoroughfare he had quitted. Marching ahead of the officer was a civilian.
“Feifer,” said Frazer, and stood watching.
A sharp word of command brought the men to a sharp halt before the house he had left.
“Good work,” said Frazer approvingly.
Frazer doubled across to Breslau in the guise of an officer of “the train” or Army Service Corps. Feifer with uncanny instinct reached Breslau the same day, and surrounded the hotel with a strong cordon of troops. Frazer, looking through the window and observing the manœuvres, realised that he had met a singularly ingenious rival, and opened the big trunk which he had brought from the repository where it had been stored for four years. When the soldiers and gendarmes closed on the hotel, and every corridor was alive with field-grey uniforms, Frazer was amongst the search party, a singularly stupid-looking young soldier in an ill-fitting coat and clumsy boots, who, carrying an impressive-looking official envelope with a most important air, passed from the hotel without a challenge.
Feifer never left him day and night. Once when Frazer went to a depot to secure a change of disguise he found the place already in possession of the police, and had to fly for his life, shooting over his shoulder as he ran. But Pesth saw the crowning calamity. He was at the end of his resources, and almost at the end of his money when he drifted via Cracow to the Hungarian city.
He had gone straight to the Palace Hotel, and, as was usual in circumstances of his extreme necessity, he had taken the best suite that the house afforded. It was his last challenge to Fate. He knew there was a British agent here with whom he might get in touch, and spent one dark evening leaving his little labels in conspicuous places.
He had just sat down to dinner in his sitting-room when there came a tap at the door.
“At last,” said Fraser with a sigh of relief, for he recognised the signal knock by which agents announced their presence to one another
He flung open the door, and a good looking German in uniform walked in. He carried a serviceable revolver in his right hand, and behind him were six German soldiers equally serviceable.
“Mr Frazer, I presume?”
“That is my name,” said Frazer coolly.
“You have led me a dance, Mr Frazer, and you have spoilt one of my best coups.”
Feifer spoke in excellent English, and he was not visibly annoyed.
“That won’t take away my appetite,” said Frazer, resuming his seat at the table and continuing his dinner.
“I should eat heartily if I were you,” said Feifer carefully; “it may be the last meal you will get on this earth. You will never escape as you got away at Cologne, my friend. I have instructions to the General Officer commanding Breslau to try you by summary Court-Martial, and I have promised my superiors that I will not leave you until you are dead.”
“Faithful hound!” said Frazer admiringly, “and when will this sad affair occur?”
“We shall get to Breslau to-morrow morning,” said Feifer, “you will be tried at twelve, and I should imagine that you would be shot at five. I might tell you for your guidance that if you escaped us you could not leave this hotel. Both corridors are guarded, and I have something that looks like an army corps outside.”
“You’re a thorough person,” said Frazer. He rose and rolled his serviette, and did not fail to observe that all the time his enemy kept him covered.
“Now, if you are ready,” said Feifer.
Frazer slipped on his overcoat.
With two soldiers before, two at each side, and Feifer bringing up the rear, there was little chance to escape, less chance since before leaving the room Feifer had dexterously handcuffed him. They passed through the crowded lobby to the East Station.
Feifer evidently had the tickets and the warrants necessary, and the little party marched across the broad reception-hall. Drawn across the entrance to the principal platform was a guard of soldiers under an officer. The party marched straight for these.
Suddenly the excited call of a newsboy attracted Frazer’s attention. He stopped, and the escort, suspecting some attempt to escape, crowded about him.
“I should like to buy a paper,” he said.
“As it is your last request I should be churlish to deny you,” he said, and whistled the boy.
He took the sheet and handed it, without glancing at its contents, to the prisoner, who looked only at the front page and its sprawling headlines.
The officer in charge of the platform guard, scenting some trouble, strolled across.
“Is anything wrong?” he asked.
“Nothing,” said Feifer. “I am taking a political prisoner to Breslau.”
“Are you sure?” laughed Frazer.
“Pretty sure,” replied Feifer.
“I think not,” said Frazer. “You will probably agree with him, Herr Lieutenant,” he addressed the Austrian officer, and that official nodded.
“What does this mean?” asked Feifer, with a frown.
“It means, dear lad,” said Frazer, “that our friend here cannot allow me to go on that train without committing a breach of the armistice conditions.”
“What armistice?” gasped Feifer.
The Austrian officer turned to him with a deprecating shrug.
“Austria came out of the war at three o’clock this afternoon,” he said, “and if your prisoner is British I am afraid I must relieve you of his care.” They took the handcuffs off Frazer and he looked at his watch.
“With any luck,” he said, “I ought to be able to catch the 10.40 for Switzerland. I am anxious to get back to London in time to celebrate the surrender of the German Empire.”
Feifer’s face went dark.
“That will never be!” he said haughtily.
“Don’t be silly,” said Frazer.
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