فصل 01

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فصل 01

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER ONE

It was the spring of 1940. Tommy Beresford made sure he was smiling as he walked into the sitting-room where his wife sat knitting. Mrs Beresford looked up at him. ‘Anything interesting in the evening newspaper?’

‘Things look bad in France,’ Tommy said. ‘Well, why don’t you ask me how it went?’

‘Darling, I don’t need to ask,’ said Tuppence. ‘You are smiling the unhappiest smile I have ever seen.’

‘As bad as that?’

‘Much worse!’

‘I tell you, Tuppence, it’s terrible when a man of forty-six is made to feel like a grandfather. Army, Navy, Air Force, Foreign Office, they all say the same - I’m too old. They don’t want me in any job.’

‘It’s the same for me,’ complained Tuppence. ‘They don’t want people of my age for nursing. They’d rather have a schoolgirl who’s never seen a wound than a woman who worked in the Great War.’

‘Well, it is comforting that Deborah has a job,’ Tommy said.

‘I could do as much as our daughter,’ remarked Tuppence.

Tommy grinned. ‘She wouldn’t think so.’

Tuppence gave a cry of anger. ‘Are we too old to do things? Isn’t it true that we once caught a dangerous criminal? Isn’t it true that we rescued a girl and important secret documents, and were thanked by a grateful country? Us! That was us! I’m so disappointed in Mr Carter.’

‘But he no longer works in Intelligence. He’s old. He lives in Scotland and fishes.’

Tuppence sighed sadly. ‘I wish we could find a job - any job. I imagine the worst when I have so much time to think.’ As she spoke she looked at the photograph of a very young man in an Air Force uniform, with the same wide smile as his father Tommy’s.

The doorbell rang. Tuppence got up. She opened the door to see a broad-shouldered man with a large, fair moustache and a cheerful red face.

‘Are you Mrs Beresford? My name is Grant. I’m a friend of Lord Easthampton’s. He suggested that I visit you and your husband.’

‘Oh, come in.’

She led him into the sitting room. ‘Tommy, Mr Grant is a friend of Mr Car… of Lord Easthampton’s.’

Lord Easthampton was the proper title of their old friend. But Tuppence always thought of him as Mr Carter - the name he used when he was Chief of Intelligence and their boss.

For a few minutes the three talked together, then Tuppence left the room. She returned a few minutes later with sherry and some glasses. Then Mr Grant said to Tommy, ‘I understand you’re looking for a job? Well, active service is only for the young men, but I can offer you some office work, which is better than nothing. Come to my office one day this week and…’

The telephone rang and Tuppence picked it up. ‘Hello - yes - what?’

A loud voice, obviously in pain, spoke from the other end.

‘Oh, my dear, of course, I’ll come now…’ She put down the phone. ‘Tommy, that was Maureen. I’m so sorry, Mr Grant, but I must go. My friend has fallen and hurt her ankle and I must go and help her. Do forgive me.’

‘Of course, Mrs Beresford.’

Tuppence hurried out. The door of the flat shut noisily. Tommy poured another glass of sherry for his guest.

‘Thank you. In one way, your wife leaving is fortunate for us. It will save time. You see, Beresford, if you had come to the Ministry, I would have asked you to do something special. Easthampton told us you were the man for the job.’

Tommy was delighted. ‘Tell me.’

‘This is confidential. Not even your wife must know. Officially you will be working in Scotland, in a secret army area where your wife cannot join you. In fact you will be somewhere very different. You’ve read in the newspapers of the Fifth Column? You know what that means?’

‘The enemy within,’ Tommy said.

‘Exactly. You know the war started badly for us. We did not want war and had not prepared for it. Well, we are correcting our mistakes and we can win this war - but only if we do not lose it first. And the danger of losing it comes, not from Germany, but from within. The Fifth Column is here, men and women in positions of power who believe in Nazi aims and want a Nazi government here.

‘And we don’t know who they are. We know there are at least two in powerful positions in the Navy, one in the army and three in the Air Force - and several members in Intelligence. We know because secret information is being given to the enemy.’

‘But what can I do? I don’t know any of these people.’

Grant nodded. ‘Exactly. And they don’t know you. But these people do know our agents, so I cannot use them. That is why I went to Easthampton and he thought of you. It’s twenty years since you worked for the department. Your face and name are not known. What do you say? Will you take the job?’

Tommy could not stop smiling. ‘I certainly will!’

‘Well, Beresford, you’ll take the place of the best man we had, Farquhar. He was hit by a lorry - and that was not an accident. All he managed to say before he died was, “N or M. Song Susie.”’

‘That doesn’t seem helpful!’

Grant smiled. ‘N and M are two of the most important German agents. N, we know, is a man. M is a woman, and they are in England.’

‘I see. And Farquhar?’

‘Farquhar must have been on their trail. Song Susie sounds very strange - but Farquhar spoke French badly. There was a train ticket in his pocket, to Leahampton, a town on the south coast. Lots of hotels and guesthouses. There is one called Sans Souci, which means, of course, “without worries” in French - a good name for a guesthouse!’

Tommy said, ‘Song Susie - Sans Souci. I see. And your idea is that I go there and see what I can find.’

‘Exactly.’

Tommy smiled again.

Tommy went to Scotland three days later. Tuppence said goodbye at the station, her eyes bright with tears. Once there, he took a train back to England again the next day. On the third day he arrived at Leahampton.

Sans Souci was built on the side of a hill and had a good view of the sea from its upper windows. The owner, Mrs Perenna, was a middle-aged woman with a lot of black hair and a smile that showed a lot of very white teeth.

Tommy mentioned that his cousin, Miss Meadowes, had stayed at Sans Souci two years ago. Mrs Perenna remembered Miss Meadowes. ‘Such a dear old lady.’

Tommy agreed. There was, he knew, a real Miss Meadowes - the department was careful about these details.

‘And how is dear Miss Meadowes?’

Tommy explained sadly that Miss Meadowes had died. Mrs Perenna said the proper words with the correct sadness. But she was soon talking happily again. She had a room for Mr Meadowes with a lovely sea view. She thought Mr Meadowes was right to leave London. Very unpleasant these days.

Still talking, Mrs Perenna took Tommy upstairs and showed him the bedroom. He found himself wondering what her nationality was. The name was Spanish or Portuguese, but that could be her husband’s nationality. She might, he thought, be Irish.

It was agreed that Mr Meadowes should move in the following day. Tommy arrived at six o’clock. Mrs Perenna came out to welcome him, gave instructions about his luggage to a maid, and then led him into the lounge.

‘I always introduce my guests,’ said Mrs Perenna, smiling at the five people there, who looked at him suspiciously. ‘This is our new arrival, Mr Meadowes - Mrs O’Rourke.’

A very large woman with a moustache gave him a bright smile.

‘Major Bletchley.’

Major Bletchley, obviously retired a long time ago from the army, nodded.

‘Mr von Deinim.’

A young man, very stiff, fair-haired and blue-eyed, got up and bowed.

‘Miss Minton.’

An elderly woman, wearing many necklaces, was knitting a balaclava. She smiled and laughed.

‘And Mrs Blenkensop.’

More knitting. A dark-haired woman lifted her eyes from another balaclava. Her eyes met his - polite, uninterested stranger’s eyes. The room seemed to spin round him. Tuppence! Mrs Blenkensop was Tuppence!

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