“What do you mean by things being ‘lively’ in Berlin?”
“It is a British expression,” I retorted, my brain working rapidly to advance a conclusive reply as I recalled the phrase which I had jotted down. “We term things ‘lively’ when say, as in my case, one is first thrown out of a cab by a officer and shortly afterwards is flung out of a restaurant!”
“Rather an unusual phrase to use when one recalls the political situation which prevailed in the capital last Sunday, is it not?”
“Possibly from the German point of view, in the light of events.”
“Then you had an enlightening chat with an officer? What was it all about? How did you open conversation with him?”
“In the usual British manner. We just chatted about things in general.”
“Especially of the war between Germany and England?”
“No! Because we were not at war!”
“But the officer advised you to return home! Why?”
“Because I could not get through to Warsaw!”
Other incidents of a spirited character raged about other phrases in the little book, but I was on the alert. The Chairman evidently considered me to be a match for him in these wrangles because he speedily put the diary down.
During the proceedings the Chairman made one frantic endeavour to trap me, and to prove that I was more fully conversant with the language, as he confidently believed, than I felt disposed to concede. Something was being read over to me by the Clerk upon which my thoughts were concentrated. Suddenly the Chairman roared out a terrifying word in the vernacular. I never moved a hair. I behaved just as if the Chairman had merely sneezed. My imperturbability appeared to convince him that I really did not understand German, because no further reference was made to the fact. Subsequently my interpreter told me that it was fortunate I did not understand German or I would certainly have retorted to the Chairman’s sudden interjection. I should not have been human had I not done so. He refused to tell me what the word was or what it meant, so I was never a whit the wiser.
At last I was told the proceedings with reference to myself were closed. I had been on the rack for several hours, and when the gate of my cell clicked upon me for the last time that eventful evening the morning hours were well advanced. As my interpreter left me to go to his cell I enquired wearily, though with a trace of anxiety,
“When shall I know the result?”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Perhaps to-morrow. Who knows?”
Personally I felt confident that a speedy release would be granted. It seemed to me impossible to convict upon the evidence. But I was ignorant of German ways and military court procedure. I was destined to receive a greater surprise than any which had yet befallen me.