فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

Commander Haydock welcomed Tommy and Major Bletchley with enthusiasm and insisted on showing Mr Meadowes ‘all over my little place’.

Smugglers’ Rest had been two cottages standing on the cliff overlooking the sea. A London businessman had bought them and made them into one. There was a small cove below, but the path down to it was dangerous.

‘Then, some years ago,’ explained Haydock, ‘Smugglers’ was sold to a man called Hahn. He was a German, and if you ask me, he was a spy. The Nazis are methodical. They were preparing even then for this war. Look at the situation of this place - it’s perfect for sending signals out to sea. And there’s a cove below where you could land a small boat without being seen. Oh yes, don’t tell me that Hahn wasn’t a German agent.

‘He spent a lot of money on this place. He had a path made down to the beach - concrete steps - an expensive business. Then he had the whole of the house improved. And who did he get to do all this? Not a local man. No, it was a firm from London, or so they say - but a lot of the men who came down didn’t speak a word of English. Don’t you agree that that sounds extremely suspicious?’

‘A little strange, certainly,’ agreed Tommy.

‘I was staying in the neighbourhood at the time and I used to watch the workmen. They didn’t like it. Once or twice they were quite threatening. Why should they be if everything was okay? I went to the authorities. And what response did I get? “Another war with Germany was impossible,” they insisted. There was peace in Europe - our relations with Germany were excellent. No one believed me when I said that the Germans were building the finest Air Force in Europe!’

Haydock’s face was redder than usual with anger. ‘They thought I was just trying to start another war. But finally I began to make an impression. We had a new Chief Constable down here - a retired soldier. And he listened to me. His men began to investigate and then Hahn left secretly one night. The police searched this place carefully. In a safe built into a wall in the dining-room, they found a wireless transmitter and big tanks under the garage for petrol. The end of the story was that I bought the place when it was put up for sale. Come and have a look round, Meadowes?’

‘Thanks, I’d like to.’

Commander Haydock was as full of energy as a man half his age. He threw open the big safe in the dining room to show where the secret transmitter had been found. Tommy was taken out to the garage and was shown where the big petrol tanks had been hidden, and finally he was led down the steep path to the little cove and taken into the cave that had given the place its name because it was where the smugglers had hidden their goods.

More than ever now Tommy felt that when the dying Farquhar had mentioned Sans Souci, he had been on the right track. This part of the coast had been selected for enemy activity. His spirits rose. Although Sans Souci seemed an innocent place, behind the scenes things were going on.

Mrs Blenkensop was reading a letter on thin foreign paper stamped outside with the censor’s mark. This was the direct result of her conversation with ‘Mr Faraday’.

‘Dear Raymond,’ she said. ‘I was so happy about him being out in Egypt, and now, it seems, there is a big change round.

All very secret, of course, and he can’t say anything - just that there really is a marvellous plan and that I’m to be ready for some big surprise soon. I’m glad to know where he’s being sent, but I…’

Bletchley frowned. ‘Surely he’s not allowed to tell you that?’

Tuppence looked round the breakfast table as she folded up her precious letter. ‘Oh! We have our methods,’ she said with a little laugh. ‘Dear Raymond knows that if I know where he is, or where he’s going, I don’t worry quite so much. It’s quite a simple code, too. Just a certain word, and after it the first letters of the next words spell out the place. I’m sure nobody would notice.’

Little murmurs arose round the table. The moment was well chosen; everybody was at the breakfast table together for once. Bletchley, his face red, said, ‘Mrs Blenkensop, that’s a very stupid thing to do. It’s the movements of soldiers and airmen that are just what the Germans want to know.’

‘Oh, but I never tell anyone!’ cried Tuppence. ‘And I’m very careful never to leave letters around. I always keep them locked up.’

Bletchley shook his head.

It was a grey morning with the wind blowing coldly from the sea. Tuppence was at the far end of the beach. As she reached the bottom of the cliff, her attention was caught by two figures standing talking a little way up. It was the same fair-haired woman she had seen the day before and Carl von Deinim. At that moment the young German turned his head and saw her. Immediately, the two figures parted. The woman came quickly down the hill and crossed the road.

Carl von Deinim waited until Tuppence came up to him. Then, politely, he wished her good morning.

Tuppence inquired immediately, ‘Was that a friend you were talking to, Mr Deinim?’

‘Not at all,’ said Carl. ‘She is Polish and asked me if I knew a Mrs Gottlieb she thinks lives near here. I do not, and she says she has, perhaps, got the name of the house wrong.’

‘I see,’ murmured Tuppence thoughtfully. Mr Rosenstein. Mrs Gottlieb. She felt a growing suspicion about the Polish woman.

That evening, before she went to bed, Tuppence pulled out the long drawer of her dressing table. At one side of it was a small box with a cheap lock. Tuppence put on gloves, unlocked the box, and opened it. A pile of letters lay inside. On the top was the one received that morning from ‘Raymond’. Tuppence opened it again and frowned. She had placed an eyelash in the fold of the paper this morning. The eyelash was not there now.

Somebody was interested in the movements of the British armed forces.

Who had read her letters? Tuppence thought about it as she lay in bed the following morning. Her thoughts were interrupted by Betty Sprot who opened the door and ran in. Betty had taken a great liking to Tuppence. She climbed up on the bed and pushed a torn picture-book under Tuppence’s nose, commanding her to ‘read it’. Only she said ‘wead’ as she couldn’t pronounce the letter ‘r’ yet. Tuppence read obediently.

‘Goosey goosey gander, whither will you wander?

Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady’s chamber.’

Betty rolled about with laughter - repeating in delight, ‘Upstais - upstais - upstais…’ and then ‘Down…’ and rolled off the bed with a thump.

This was repeated several times, then Betty crawled about the floor playing with Tuppence’s shoes and talking busily to herself, ‘Ag do - bah pit - soo - soodah - putch…’ Then she looked up at Tuppence again and said, ‘Ag boo bate? Ag boo bate?’

‘Lovely, darling,’ said Tuppence, not knowing what Betty was saying. ‘Beautiful.’

Satisfied, Betty started talking to herself again and Tuppence lay planning what to do next - with Tommy’s help. Suddenly Mrs Sprot came running in, looking for Betty.

‘Oh, here she is! Oh, Betty, you naughty girl - Mrs Blenkensop, I am so sorry.’

Tuppence sat up in bed and looked at Betty who, with an innocent face, had removed the laces from Tuppence’s shoes and put them in a glass of water. Tuppence laughed.

‘How funny! Don’t worry, Mrs Sprot, they’ll be OK. It’s my fault. I should have noticed what she was doing. She was rather quiet.’

‘I know,’ Mrs Sprot sighed. ‘Whenever they’re quiet, it’s a bad sign.’ Mrs Sprot carried Betty away and Tuppence got up to put her plan into action.

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