Authors: Henry S. Maxfield
Tags: #suspense, #espionage
Henry S. Maxfield
Legacy of a Spy
DECODED, the cables read as follows:
TO: OFFICE OF SECURITY
FROM: GEORGE L. PUTNAM
SUBJECT: BELIEVE LEAK IN CONSULATE HERE.
CANNOT HANDLE ALONE.
REQUIRE TOURIST OBSERVE WYMAN. TOURIST MUST BE UNKNOWN IN EUROPE.
KNOWLEDGE GERMAN HELPFUL.
SUGGEST USE CONTACT PLAN A.
PRIORITY CABLE EYES ONLY
TO: GEORGE L. PUTNAM
SUBJECT: MONTAGUE ARRIVING 0930, 15 MARCH.
WILL USE PLAN A.
The train clattered and swayed, banged and rattled at crazy speed across the Bavarian plains and rolling farm lands on its way to Munich. The occupants of Erste Klasse, Compartment A, in Car 5 surged from side to side in silence. They had been jostled into a resistless indifference all the way from Frankfurt, still strangers as only Europeans can be. The conversation in several hours had consisted of, “Do you mind if I smoke?” or an “Excuse me” when someone had to get up and go to the toilet or go to breakfast in the dining car. Slater didn’t care for European trains, and he wondered if the railroad bed had been laid on elliptical marbles, but the clacking and bumping had jogged him into a relaxed, if somewhat groggy, state. He had long ago given up any curiosity about his fellow passengers, as they doubtless had about him. They all looked so serious and prosperous. Slater believed that no man on earth could manage to look more affluent than a wealthy German businessman. Fat fingers with manicured fingernails, spotless silk shirts,
serge suits over expansive frames, smooth bland faces with small pale eyes that could look at you without seeing you.
Slater hadn’t needed to travel first class, but the only other possibility had been third class, and he hadn’t wanted to endure those thin-ribbed wooden seats. He looked out of the window and marveled at the rolling landscape of snow-covered fields, neat stone houses with tiled roofs, and the scattered, geometric patches of evergreen woods. This was the land of beer, of heavy-limbed peasants, of classical music and Dachau, of big men who loved little children and flowers and war. Slater sighed. He looked at the bland faces around him and again through the window at their beautiful country and shook his head.
The train began to jump some of the myriads of switches. Tracks appeared from nowhere, and Slater realized he was entering the Munich marshaling yards. According to his watch he would be in Munich in ten minutes.
He resisted the impulse to stand up and get his things down from the rack. He sat back and forced himself to relax. What
this time, he wondered. All the way from Frankfurt he had tried not to think about it. It wasn’t the first time he had realized he made his living from man’s inhumanity to man, nor was this the first time he questioned his ability to continue. He hadn’t even started his new project and already he was having doubts. “They aren’t doubts,” he said to himself. “Be honest—they’re fears. You’re afraid.”
The train had stopped. Slater stood up and looked around, momentarily perplexed. He reached for his luggage with clammy hands, thinking, “The legendary Montague is afraid. He’s a dirty, stinking coward. He searches for fear on Uncle Sam’s time. He has no right to prove himself at the possible expense of his country.”
Slater dragged his suitcase through the barrier and threaded his way through a maze of knicker-clad, roughshod men and belt-coated women to the American waiting room. He set his suitcase down by the magazine counter and purchased a paperback novel from the German clerk. She was wearing the same kind of bluish smock they all wore. He thanked her and entered the restaurant of the Bundesbahn Hotel.
He seated himself at an empty table and ordered a beer. He placed his hat on the table by his left hand. He took an unopened package of MacDonald cigarettes and put them within easy grasp of his right hand. He picked up the paperback novel and began to read.
Even a casual glance at George Hollingsworth, seated comfortably in the cocktail lounge of the Hotel Excelsior, would reveal that Hollingsworth was a young man whom nice things were said about. Clear blue eyes, serene forehead, and regular features—combine these with conservative taste in clothes and a well-modulated, cultured voice and here was the perfect picture of what a young American diplomat should be. He sat loose and long-legged on one of the comfortable overstuffed chairs that were grouped along the wall. His expression was alert and serious as he listened carefully to the older man seated opposite across the round, highly polished cocktail table which separated them. The older man looked very much as George Hollingsworth would in later years.
“I trust you have everything straight, Hollingsworth,” the older man said.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Preston,” said George. “I’m quite sure I do.”
“You’re really quite privileged, you know.” Preston took another swallow of coffee. He would have preferred a Scotch and soda, but the hotel was under army regulations and the bar wouldn’t open until 4 P.M. “Very few of us here ever met Montague. He’s one of the best.”
“I’m really looking forward,” said George, his face lighting up, “to meeting one of those cloak-and-dagger boys. I just hope I don’t gum everything up.”
“Do as Montague
you and you won’t.”
“Tell me, sir,” said George, “what do you know about this fellow?”
That’s why he’s so good, I guess.” Preston looked thoughtfully at Hollingsworth. “I hear he’s a bit of a terror. I’d go pretty slowly with him if I were you.”
“You don’t mean he’d pull a gun on me, do you, sir?” George laughed. “I’m on his side.”
“He might from all I hear.” Preston’s tone was quite serious and Hollingsworth was visibly shaken.
“But that’s ridiculous. He sounds melodramatic—a sort of unreliable prima donna.”
“On the contrary, Hollingsworth, Montague takes his work very seriously. He absolutely refuses to meet any of us socially, although I understand he’s quite acceptable—good background and all that; but he’s been in some tight scrapes and he’s done some incredible things.” Preston took some more coffee. “He doesn’t trust anyone. I don’t believe he’ll trust you.”
Good Lord, I’m trustworthy.” Hollingsworth managed to look indignant.
“Montague hates amateurs, and if Webber’s suspicions are correct, you are about to enter a world you’ve never even suspected.”
Hollingsworth was silent. It was obvious that the old boy was romanticizing the whole business. He probably wanted to go himself.
Preston finished his coffee.
“Time for you to go, Hollingsworth.
I’ll pay up here.”
Hollingsworth stood up. “Thank you, sir. I’d like the privilege of buying you a drink one day.”
“Hurry up, man. Get a move on! Being late for this kind of an appointment can be a catastrophe.”
Hollingsworth looked perplexed. He couldn’t decide whether Preston was joking or not. George took another look at the older man and decided he wasn’t. He said good-by and left.
Preston watched Hollingsworth’s tall figure disappear into the lobby and shook his head. He was unquestionably a nice young man. They had spoken well of him in Zurich. Preston was certain Hollingsworth would go far in the Foreign Service, but, he shook his head, Montague deserved better than that. This wasn’t going to be a job for a nice young man.
George hurried across the cobblestoned square, buttoning his coat as he went. He turned up his collar against the cold March wind and, unseeingly, dodged bicycles, three-wheeled trucks, tiny automobiles, and American limousines. He looked up at a leaden sky and pushed his way through the glass doors into the American waiting room. He checked his watch and hurried into the restaurant of the Bundesbahn Hotel. He removed his hat and looked for a table.
Fortunately, the place was almost empty, and George had no difficulty spotting an American, in his early thirties, of average build, dark hair, reading a paperback. George hesitated. He checked the position of the hat and cigarettes. He wasn’t near enough to make out the brand. George approached the table.
“Excuse me,” he said. “Do you mind if I join you?” Slater looked up at the stranger as though just this moment aware of his presence.
“I beg your pardon, did you say something?” Slater smiled. “I guess I was in a fog.”
“I asked if I could join you. It’s a pleasure to meet a fellow American who isn’t in uniform.”
Slater took the young man in from his serene forehead to the cordovan shoes and cursed inwardly. “Sure,” he said, his voice calm. “Glad to have your company, but I’m Canadian.”
George sat down awkwardly. The little play wasn’t over yet, and he didn’t want to forget his lines.
“Have a cigarette?” Slater extended the unopened pack.
“Thank you. They look like ours. I’ve never tried a MacDonald.”
George opened the pack and took one. If the pack had been open, he would not have sat down.
“Please don’t think me antisocial,” said Slater, “if I leave pretty soon, but I only have time for this beer and two cigarettes.”
“It would be better the other way around.”
“Might at that,” Slater smiled. “All right,” he said quietly, “where’s your car?”
“It’s a ’53 Plymouth, gray, U.S. Forces Germany
2C-15873. It’s parked up beyond the Excelsior Hotel—on the same side of the street. It will be facing you as the street is one way. The keys are in the glove compartment. Do you know Munich?”
“Drive to the Hofbraü Haus and try to park in the parking place there. You shouldn’t have any trouble at this time of day. I’ll meet you.”
Slater stood up. “Sorry to have to rush off.
Nice to have met you.”
George stood up. He was surprised to find he was only an inch taller. Montague’s appearance was deceiving. George sat down at the table again. He was exhausted. He had felt Montague’s antagonism during the entire interview. Old Preston had been right. This fellow Montague was hard. Hollingsworth didn’t think he was going to care much for this cloak-and-dagger business.
Slater left the restaurant and entered the station again. He could smell the coal from the engines, but its pungency was whipped away by the wind as soon as he stepped outside. The day was bleak but the visibility was good, and he could see the stubby towers of the cathedral. He stood on the curb and waited for the commanding gestures of the blue-uniformed traffic officer, and then crossed the traffic circle. He still had to dodge bicyclists and vehicles of various types, and he swore because his suitcase kept banging against his shins. He had always expected a people who had lived in a dictatorship to be docile in the face of authority, and automatically queue up as the English did for theater lines and buses. He was still amazed, and invariably irritated, that they did just the
stepping on each other’s feet, shoving into line, and shouting at one another.
Slater gained the other side and walked into the wind which funneled down the street by the Excelsior Hotel. Head down, feet wide apart, he pushed his way past the hotel and got into the gray Plymouth. Even the elements seemed to be against this assignment.
Slater sat in the car for a moment and got his bearings. He started the motor and turned on the heater. His cheeks were red from the wind, and now that he was protected from it, he could feel them burning. He put the car in gear and turned it out into the street, waited again for the proper signal from the policeman and started out into the no man’s land. He turned right again toward the Hofbraü Haus.
The young man had been right. There was very little traffic by the Hofbraü Haus and the public parking place was empty. The attendant was not on duty and Slater was not dunned for the customary twenty pfennigs. He left the motor running and waited.
Why, he wondered, did they always assign some amateur who invariably considered this business some sort of ridiculous game, somebody who would undoubtedly blurt out the whole affair at a cocktail party?
A Mercedes with Munich plates pulled up beside him. Hollingsworth got out and came over to the Plymouth.
“Lock it up, please,” he said, “and
the keys and your bag.”
Slater complied and got into the Mercedes. He handed Hollingsworth the keys. Hollingsworth took the first left and headed for the autobahn.
Once on the main highway headed for Salzburg, Hollingsworth appeared to relax. “My name’s George Hollingsworth. What’s yours?”
“Carmichael, Bruce Carmichael,” Slater said.
George was aware that Montague was only a code name used for extra security purposes in interoffice and interdepartmental correspondence, and he was naïve enough to suppose that Slater would give a young, untrained Foreign Service officer his right name.
“Well, Mr. Carmichael,” George smiled, “this is a real privilege. I realize very few of us know your real name.”
“The fewer the better.”
Slater’s voice was very convincing and George winced. He couldn’t seem to say the right thing to this fellow Carmichael. He’d always heard that the Scots were a dour lot.
“Call me Bruce,” said Slater. “It’s much easier.”
Slater smiled. George was amazed. Carmichael had a very warm and disarming smile.
“Well, George, let’s have it,” said Slater. “What’s the bad news?”
George was about to come out flat-footed with what he considered the essential information but hesitated. He was aware that Carmichael knew nothing whatever so far, and as is usually the case with essentials, they had a way of coming out backward, and then sometimes turned out not to be essentials.