The youth’s face was a study. He was so completely trapped in his lying that he went all colours, while his jaw dropped. My fellow passengers who had been watching and listening in profound silence gave expression to uproarious mirth at the complete manner in which the immature detective had been bowled out. But their mirth was misplaced. A German resents discomfiture. The officer, too, was not disposed to throw over his subordinate, who undoubtedly had been acting in accordance with orders. Looking me steadily in the face the officer placed his hand on my shoulder and in cold tones said,
“I formally charge you with being a spy in the pay of the British Government!”
COMMITTED TO WESEL PRISON
To say that I was completely dumbfounded by this accusation is to express my feelings very mildly. But, with an effort, I succeeded in keeping my sang-froid, which I am afraid only served to convince the officer that he was correct in his charge.
He assailed me with interrogations, demanded my passport, and after perusing it closely, enquired why I was travelling to Russia at such a time. “Why!” he pointed out, “you only left England on August 1st, when Russia and Germany were on the eve of war!”
I gave a detailed explanation of my mission, but I failed to shake his suspicions. I had to surrender my ticket for inspection and this caused him to frown more heavily than ever.
“Where is your camera?”
I produced two which were in my pockets, keeping my tiny companion in its secret resting place.
At the sight of the two cameras he gave a smile of complete self-satisfaction. He handed them to the guard together with my ticket. Turning on his heel he remarked:
“You’ll ask for these articles when you reach Wesel!”
As he strode down the corridor the serious character of my situation dawned upon me. My companions had already formed their opinions concerning my immediate future. All thoughts of the war vanished before a discussion of my awkward predicament. I saw that the injunction to make enquiry for my cameras and ticket at Wesel, which is an important military centre, was merely a ruse to prevent my escape. My arrest at Wesel was inevitable.
I was carrying one or two other articles, such as a revolver, about me. I saw that although they were apparently harmless, and could be fully explained, they would incriminate me only still more. I promptly got rid of them. I had half-a-mind to discard my little camera also, but somehow or other I could not bring myself to part with this. I thought it might come in useful. Moreover there was very little likelihood of it being discovered unless I was stripped. So I left it where it was. Afterwards I was thankful I acted upon second thoughts on that occasion.