A Spymaster at Work
One day after class, Tensy said to Jones,
"Something really weird is happening. Reggie has been asked to head some sort of Anglo-American committee that involves your organization in Washington."
"You mean JOAD?"
"Yes, that's it. Did you have anything to do with it?
"No. I've never mentioned Reggie to anyone at JOAD except Heike. And I'm sure she wouldn't have said anything."
"I'm uncomfortable when there's any kind of accident that involves Reggie. Anyway, he wants to talk with you."
This time, the conversation took place behind the Blakey-Fenton home on the terrace surrounded by fruit trees in bloom. Reggie drawled out,
"You see, Jones, there are a few people in the American intelligence community who know exactly who I am and exactly what I do. And, of course, since my aim, and that of my masters, is to promote President Truman's policy, they hardly object. Some of my methods rather amuse them, but we don't discuss them in so many words. These people may not have been at Eton and Harrow, but they've been at Groton and Exeter. In some ways, they're more gentleman-like than we are."
It amused Jones that Reggie had apparently, until he remembered, made him an honorary English gentleman. It was also noteworthy that gentlemen were people who understood the necessity of seducing senators. Jones asked,
"Are these the people that JOAD approached?"
"Evidently your organization didn't want to go through the regular channels, something having to do with inter-service rivalry. Their proposed operation is to be conducted partly in Britain, with British resources, and so they approached our naval attache in Washington. He, of course, works closely with our intelligence service. It was they who got in touch with their American opposite numbers. When my name was suggested as one of the coordinators of this project, there was no objection. It was just an accident that I already know two members of JOAD, yourself and Heike."
Jones, like Tensy, wondered how accidental anything involving Reggie could be. He also knew that it would be impossible to try to conceal anything. He thus admitted,
"The fact is that Heike and I aren't trusted very far at JOAD. They think that we helped CASP make off with their computer, and that our first allegiance is to General Smith of the army."
"Is that true?"
"To some extent. We under-estimated JOAD and thought that it was out of the loop. So Admiral Benson and Captain Stallman aren't trusting us with their secrets. I have only a vague idea what you're talking about."
"JOAD makes a certain impression. It's pretty cheeky to take your plans to a foreign navy and intelligence service without even telling your own agencies. If it were to anyone except the British, it'd be treasonous."
"Yes. That would be Captain Stallman. He's a very bitter man, willing to go to almost any lengths to cut the other services out of any credit."
"In short, an officer of the old school."
"Whatever JOAD has in mind, I bet our other services still don't know anything it."
"The American intelligence people I know would be unlikely to tell them what their own submarine force is up to unless there was some obvious necessity."
"Are you going to tell me the JOAD secrets that I haven't been let in on?"
"Yes, but not just yet. Heike and some other people should be present, and Tensy herself has developed a knack for this sort of thing. We'll see if we can't fly people up from Washington for breakfast, perhaps the day after tomorrow. We'll have some of your American smoked salmon and bagels and go over the whole thing."
In May, the University of Cincinnati, finding it impossible to compete with the spring weather, slowed gradually to a crawl. Inter-department and intra-department fusses subsided, and everyone complained that it had become impossible to teach the students anything at all. Jones turned his beginning class over to Sam, urging him not to mutter into the blackboard, and headed off for the meeting.
They had already begun breakfast, and Jones, expecting to see Heike, almost dropped his teeth when he saw Captain Stallman, smiling and chatting with Tensy. Went then wandered in from the terrace in company with a tall thin man Jones had never seen before. Reggie introduced him to Jones as a Captain Armitage. The captain, grasping Jones' hand firmly with his own bony one, said laughingly to Reggie,
"Wing commander, you should know that Americans don't use their military ranks when they retire, particularly if they're only army captains."
"They should have made you a lieutenant colonel, Willy. Your General Marshall has said that no one notices lieutenant colonels."
There seemed to be a whole series of inside jokes between the two men, and Jones realized that Captain Armitage must be one of the American intelligence officers who, in Reggie's words, "knew exactly what he was doing."
Heike, having been in the ladies' room, rushed up a little breathlessly, obviously not knowing quite how familiar she should be with Jones in the circumstances.
When they had eaten, Reggie rose to address them.
"I'm sorry to have dragged you all to Cincinnati, but it's so much easier here to arrange a meeting that's secure, not only from the enemy, but from one's friends."
There was laughter at that, and Reggie went on to explain that everyone who worked in the house had been thoroughly checked by a "reliable agency." That drew another laugh, and Reggie then announced,
"Captain Stallman has generously given me permission to expound our plans to all those present."
Jones wondered how in the world Reggie had been able to disarm Stallman and turn him into a relaxed puppy dog who was still helping himself to smoked salmon. Reggie proceeded,
"The main object, of course, is to convince the Soviets that we have submarines capable of shooting atomic missiles at the principal targets of western Russia, as far back as Gorky. It hardly matters that we don't, since, in the new world, its perception rather than reality that deters an enemy from adventurism."
That, thought Jones, was the point that he and Smith hadn't gotten, but which Benson and Stallman had. Reggie looked around for comments, but no one had any.
"As most of you know, some six conventional submarines have been converted to look as if they can fire these missiles, principally by having their sails lengthened to include tubes firing vertically. But, of course, it will take much more than that. The Soviets will have to be fed a quantity of detailed technical material before they're convinced."
Reggie cleared his throat and drank from his orange juice before continuing,
"One of our prongs of attack will hinge on Commander Thurmond, who, when he takes up his civilian position, will be rather careless with the information he supplies to shipbuilders. We'll try to arrange for some of that information to make its way to a known Soviet agent. Captain Stallman will determine its content. As usual, it'll be ninety percent truth to camouflage the critical falsehood."
Stallman, momentarily looking stern, asked,
"Do you have that channel in place, Mr. Blakey?"
It was Captain Armitage who answered,
"Not entirely. But we have three or four possibilities. It's just a question of whether to use more than one, and which ones."
Jones gathered that this part of the smoke screen would be an entirely American one. Reggie then said,
"We have a practical exercise planned for later on which we hope will confirm this impression. In the meantime, we'll provide what will seem to the opposition to be an entirely independent source. Not a matter of technicalities coming from a shipyard, but a higher level strategic one, indeed a source from JOAD itself."
Reggie looked straight at Heike and said,
"We happen to be blessed with the perfect such source, quite by accident. A refugee anxious to find parents who may be alive somewhere behind the Iron Curtain."
Heike, apparently not forewarned, gasped. Reggie explained,
"In leaking information it's best to have two things. A leaker with a plausible motivation, and a target who can plausibly appear to be something other than an enemy agent. There are, of course, traitors who sell information for money. No one trusts them. There are also ideologically motivated turn-coats. But one always wonders what their ideology really is. Better yet, a young woman who simply wants to find her parents. One who's refugee status can easily be checked, and whose parents really are missing."
Heike finally spoke,
"I just have trouble imagining myself being plausible. I wouldn't really hand over secrets to get information about my parents, and I'm not good at pretending."
"That's where we need help from the Soviet agent. He must approach so gently, and be so sympathetic, that you talk freely, hardly, it would seem, realizing that you're giving anything away. And then, when he suggests that he has, say, some international business contacts who might help in locating your parents, you'll naturally be even more trusting. All you have to do is concentrate your mind on some vital alleged facts to be teased out as you're enjoying a glass of champagne. Let him do the work."
Heike didn't look at all reassured, but Captain Stallman asked again, this time with some apparent amusement, whether the agent had been found. Reggie replied,
"Ah yes. A charming man whose cover is that of a cultural attache at the Soviet embassy. He's actually a German communist who fled Hitler's Germany just before the war. A bit of a hero, in fact. He's now on the other side, of course, as an intelligence co-ordinator like myself. We do have an indirect way of informing his service that there's such a young lady, critically positioned in the defense establishment. I think he'll want to take on such an important matter in person. His seniority within his service is such that he'll be believed in Moscow."
"It sounds as if you know this man."
"Yes, he knows of my British connections, and he knows that I know of some of his activities. We've often met at gatherings of various sorts, and we have an implicit understanding not to cause one another unnecessary difficulty. Of course, I'll stay here in Cincinnati, and he won't know of my involvement in this matter."
"If he knows that you know he's a spy, won't he think that any approach to him will be a false one?"
"Most important, no one will approach him. He'll approach Miss Herrnstein. He's a man of great imagination, and it'll be interesting to see how he does it."
"Will I be standing at a bus stop when someone with a foreign accent asks me to direct him to Friendship Heights?"
Reggie laughed and replied,
"I don't think it'll be quite like that. You wouldn't be aware of any ulterior motives from start to finish if you hadn't been forewarned."
Jones looked at Heike, and could only imagine her being seduced by a continental charmer.