This was a bad fix. With all the persistence of the invalid, the man was harping on his latest whim.
So I lied. The Countess had my papers, I said.
Instantly he rang the bell and demanded Monica and had fretted himself into a fine state by the time she appeared.
“What’s this I hear, Monica?” he cried in his high-pitched, querulous voice. “Hasn’t Meyer been registered with the police yet?”
“I’m going to see to it myself in the morning, Gerry,” she said.
“In the morning. In the morning!” he cried, throwing up his hands. “Good God, how can you be so shiftless? A law is a law. The man’s papers must be sent in to-day ... this instant.”
Monica looked appealingly at me.
“I’m afraid I’m to blame, sir,” I said. “The fact is, my passport is not quite in order and I shall have to take it to the embassy before I send it to the police.”
Then I saw Josef standing by the bed, a salver in his hand.
“Zom letters, sir,” he said to Gerry. I wondered how long he had been in the room.
Gerry waved the letters aside and burst into a regular screaming fit. He wouldn’t have things done that way in the house; he wouldn’t have unknown foreigners brought in, with the city thick with spies—especially people with an English accent—his nerves wouldn’t stand it: Monica ought to know better, and so on and so forth. The long and the short of it was that I was ordered to produce my passport immediately. Monica was to ring up the embassy to ask them to stretch a point and see to it out of office hours, then Josef should take me round to the police.
I don’t know how we got out of that room. It was Monica, with her sweet womanly tact, who managed it. I believe the madman even demanded to see my passport, but Monica scraped me through that trap as well.
I had left my hat and coat in the entrance hall downstairs. I put on my coat, then went to Monica in the morning-room.
There was much she wanted to say—I could see it in her eyes—but I think she gathered from my face what I was going to do, so she said nothing.
At the door I said aloud, for the benefit of Josef, who was on the stairs:
“Very good, my lady. I will come straight back from the embassy and then go with Josef to the police.”
The next moment I was adrift in Berlin.
I FIND ACHILLES IN HIS TENT
Outside darkness had fallen. I had a vague suspicion that the house might be watched, but I found the Bendler-Strasse quite undisturbed. It ran its quiet, aristocratic length to the tangle of bare branches marking the Tiergarten-Strasse with not so much as a dog to strike terror into the heart of the amateur spy. Even in the Tiergarten-Strasse, where the Jewish millionaires live, there was little traffic and few people about, and I felt singularly unromantic as I walked briskly along the clean pavements towards Unter den Linden.