Bill Todd -- DANDERTON: A Novel of the Thirties and Forties
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 Chapter 10

A Plan

The train to Rosbeck, parked on an obscure track, was funny. With ancient clerestory coaches and an aged steam locomotive, it looked entirely unlike the other trains with their sleek sleeping cars and powerfully hissing locomotives. Sam led Brenda to the first coach to be near the engine.

There was no corridor, but, instead, some half dozen entirely separate compartments, each extending the width of the car. The doors to the platform were all thrown open, and Brenda entered a compartment with only one occupant, a be- spectacled red-haired young man who might have been a university student. He was obviously happy to have Brenda in his compartment. Sam found himself proud to have a woman that other men wanted. The failure with Annaliese meant nothing now.

They were addressed immediately in English by the young man, who said that he had studied in America. Introducing himself as Heinrich, he asked if they had just arrived. Sam let it appear that he had arrived with Brenda, and Heinrich immediately began talking about America. It wasn't very long before he expressed a desire to return, adding,

"I have an engineering degree, and I've been working on my English. Do you think there are any opportunities?"

They complimented him on his English, and, without specific information on engineering, were generally optomistic about opportunities. Heinrich replied,

"Quite apart from one's view of the current regime, there's obviously going to be a war in Europe. It'll again swallow up half a generation of young men. If I thought there was a chance in America, I'd be on a ship tomorrow."

As they arrived in Rosbeck, Brenda gave Heinrich the address of the University of Pittsburgh engineering school, and also that of Carnegie Tech. She suggested,

"There should be a good many jobs in the heavy industry in Pittsburgh, and the people at the universities will be able to tell you where to apply."

Heinrich was very grateful, and, after they had parted, she said to Sam,

"That man is trying to save his life."

"Yes. Even the training is dangerous. In the Gross Deutshland division, they make a man pull the pin on a grenade, put it on top of his helmet, and stand at attention until it goes off."

"That must be great for the ears."

"Yes. Well, I guess there are young Germans who welcome that kind of thing. The ones who don't, like Heinrich and most of the people I know at the university, would be delighted to get out."

"That's something to bear in mind. If we do pull off something, your friends will be implicated. You might get your sponsor to hire them away to America in advance."

Sam had already engaged rooms for Brenda, and accompanied her to the police station to report. He had the impression that spies seldom brought their girl friends to aid them. Moreover, if he was already under suspicion, his bumbling American act, which he hardly had to exaggerate, was likely to allay it. Brenda herself, despite her lack of German, sailed through the interview nicely. It seemed that the police liked pretty women, particularly ones who were, to them, exotic.

Once settled, Brenda made it clear that she wanted to be independent, not always hanging on to Sam. She did meet his friends, but sometimes went to the cafes by herself. After taking in the situation, she said,

"You're back to normal, Sam. Four beautiful women, and only two as a result of bicycle accidents. The only difference is that they're all in one place. Hasn't that caused any problems?"

"There's no hanky panky with Yo-Wen, and you already know about Annaliese. Missy is very careful not to get too involved with anyone she meets here. Later on, her family will more or less arrange a marriage for her."

"That's also more or less the way you used to be with the girls, except, now, with me."

"And that's made a great difference. I'm euhporic half the time. The other half, I'm plotting with the Tso family."

Oddly, Brenda struck up most closely with Annaliese, the only one who had very little English. Annaliese seemed hardly to be studying the classics at all these days, and they went everywhere together, communicating with bits of speech, gestures, and shared intuitions. Brenda was taken to see the vertical trysting place, and Sam suspected that they managed to discuss his own sexual proclivities in some detail.

After the second week, Brenda said to Sam,

"I understand Annaliese very well, and Missy to a considerable extent. There are debutantes like that at home. But the Tso family remains a mystery to me. The boy virtually propositioned me, and his sister told me not to take it personally. He evidently approaches women everywhere, she said with a success ratio of something like one in three. I hardly knew how to reply to that!"

"It's often hard to know exactly how to reply to Yo-wen. She might also tell you not to take it personally if someone were trying to kill you."

"Yes, I can imagine that. And the general! Such a cute little man, but apparently the most murderous of the lot!"

"I'm not sure just which Tso is actually the most murderous. But I didn't realize the extent of Shih-ninh's sexual approaches. That could lead to trouble."

"His sister seems a little concerned. But the general apparently thinks that it would be strange and abnormal if the boy kept his whatsis in his knickers."

"Would you have known that they're Chinese, and not Japanese, as they're pretending?"

"I think so, yes. But Annaliese accepts them as Japanese. She has a sexual thing going with the boy, and still hasn't caught on. In fact, she has reservations about the family because she does think they're Japanese. She sympathizes with the Chinese."

"But doesn't recognize the Chinese when she meets them! Yo- wen insists that the Germans think it beneath them to distinguish between different kinds of orientals. Apparently that applies even to Annaliese."

Brenda shrugged and replied,

"It's just that she believes what people tell her. Annaliese has very little suspicion in her make-up."

"Do you think she'd like to go to America?"

"She'd jump at the chance. So would her brother. They even have their passports and paper work in order to go to a conference in Paris. They're saving up money, so that, once there, they can take passage to America. This is also why she's practically stopped studying."

"How do you find out this much without sharing a language?"

"We've settled mostly on Latin. I went to Catholic schools, and the smart kids all took as much Latin as they could. And then we have a code. Hitler is Marcus Antonius, and so on."

"Who am I?"

"Nero, of course. General Tso is Julius Caesar, Yo-wen is Livia, and the boy is Romulus. Otto is Pontius Pilate."

"I suppose, in the course of founding Rome, Romulus did have to spread his seed liberally. I don't think I could have managed that."

"You're just fine sexually, Sam. If you need to prove something, we could go to the vertical trysting place. But I prefer beds."

"So do I. But I am happy that we'll be able to get Annaliese and Otto safely away. I probably have enough cash on hand without even appealing to Jack Morris. But I'll send them to him when they arrive."

"Don't just yet. When are things going to happen here?"

"Not for some time. We don't even have a real plan yet."

The Tso family turned out to have a plan. Annaliese had taken Shih-ninh to the vertical trysting place, and he, after trysting, explored the basement. There was a nearby empty room whose door had a hasp on which a padlock could be placed. It could easily contain enough explosive to blow up the whole building.

When Sam told Brenda, she replied,

"It somehow doesn't surprise me that your friends would be willing to blow up a whole building and kill a hundred or so people to get one man."

"Well, of course, it would eliminate a whole institute of scientists working on military problems, probably even destroying their data. I've been wondering if there's a way of getting the innocents out at the right time."

"I guess Otto and Annaliese would already have left the country. There's Missy, of course."

"I'm sure there's some way of keeping her from going into work on the appointed day. I was also thinking of organizing a classics conference in a seaside hotel with free food and lodging. That should at least get the people on the second floor out of the building."

"I suppose something like that might be worked out. Anyhow, we'd better do some investigating of our own."

Sam and Brenda, without going inside the building, checked Shih-ninh's report of the surroundings. There was indeed a service driveway which wended its way among the buildings, and there was also a long-disused cellar door and ramp. A truck could be backed down the ramp right up to the building, and hand trucks could be used from there.

That evening, they remained in Sam's apartment and made love. Afterwards, Brenda asked just what the chances were of Hokensen's institute producing weapons that could win a war against America. Sam replied,

"It's very difficult to say. But of one thing I'm sure. The chances aren't negligible."

"Nor are the chances of our being caught, either before or after."


After a silence of some minutes, Brenda said,

"There's something about the physical side of love that's like death. It can't be taken lightly."

"So, having gotten seriously involved in the one, we're prepared to consider the other?"

"Something like that."

In conversation with the Tso family, it was agreed that Sam would buy a used van of nondescript appearance in Hamburg. It was clear by this time that he could pass as an ordinary German, and, even if he bumbled a bit, no harm would be done. He would then drive the van to Rosbeck and park it on one of the streets in the small commercial district. They would move it every day or so to preclude it's being towed away as an abandoned vehicle.

Yo-wen suggested a closed van lettered for a fictitious firm of auctioneers in Hamburg. Since a casual obvserver wouldn't be able to tell whether things were being taken into, or out of, the building, the story, if required, would be that the university was auctioning off old books no longer useful for scholarship. Sam then asked,

"How in the world could we get the explosives?"

The general laughed and Shih-ninh looked pleased. Yo-wen said,

"We have ways of getting many things. Haven't you wondered how we got the false documents we're using here?"

"I was a little surprised that things went so smoothly at the police station."

Yo-wen seemed a little hesitant at first, but then explained. While still in China, General Tso had patronized several world-wide networks for various kinds of contraband. These featured almost anything a warlord might need, from false passports to TNT. Sam had the uneasy feeling that Yo-wen and her family, so good at improvising quickly, might be ready to blow the building up in a week's time.

Bill Todd -- DANDERTON: A Novel of the Thirties and Forties
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