At ten o’clock a cab was to come round to take us and our luggage to the station, and if anybody interfered with us—why, we were freeborn British, and subject to no man’s rule, and the Ambassador and all the rest of the Powers should hear about it! This was for the information of the detective, and he merely telephoned it to the police office at the railway station, where we should be arrested at the point of our departure.
We got into our cab and drove off down the street towards the station until we were out of sight of the hotel. Then we called to our driver and said we should like to go to a different station. This course involved our going to the river-side and taking the ferry.
It was an anxious time. Had we been spotted? Should we be missed? Were we being followed?
These questions would answer themselves as we progressed with our plot. The answer, when it came, would mean a tremendous lot to us—triumph or five years’ imprisonment; so we had every right to be fairly anxious. And yet, somehow, I don’t think we were worrying much about the consequences, but rather were busy with the present—as to how to evade pursuit and recapture.
Arrived at the ferry we paid off our cabman and made our way to the quay-side. Here we found a boat which had already been arranged for; and we made our way safely off to the ship, which was waiting under steam in midstream to start the moment we were on board.
At this supreme moment my brother had the temerity to argue with the boatman over the fare. Being now in the last stage of tender-hooks, I adjured him to give the man double what he asked, if only to be free. But the brother was calm, and for once—he was right! His display of want of all anxiety quite diverted any kind of suspicion that might have attached to us, and in the end we got safely on board and away.
Such are some of the minor experiences which, though not very sensational in themselves, are yet part of the every-day work of an “intelligence agent” (alias a spy), and while they tend to relieve such work of any suspicion of monotony, they add, as a rule, that touch of romance and excitement to it which makes spying the fascinating sport that it is.
When one recognises also that it may have invaluable results for one’s country in time of war, one feels that even though it is a time spent largely in enjoyment, it is not by any means time thrown idly away; and though the “agent,” if caught, may “go under,” unhonoured and unsung, he knows in his heart of hearts that he has done as bravely for his country as his comrade who falls in battle.
* * * * *
Books for War Time.
* * * * *
FIRST FROM THE FRONT. By HAROLD ASHTON. War Correspondent of the Daily News. Crown 8vo. Cloth. Price 2/6 net. (Postage 4d. extra.)