Bill Todd -- A Man of Three Names
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 Chapter 19

A Reversal

Samantha had a rather successful interview with Donald T. Campbell. He had a great many ideas as usual, most going well beyond the bounds of social psychology. He also seemed to like the work she was doing, some of it with the Berwyn Associates and some of it in philosophy. The divisions between the various academic fields seemed to mean little to him, and Samantha decided that she, too, would ignore them. Not only that, she decided that, after more than a year at Northwestern, it was high time to ignore all things that bored her, whether they be courses, books, or professors.

Debbie spoke to her long and seriously of the need to endure some things that bored one in order to both graduate and catch a husband. Neither of these sorts of bait made much impression on Samantha. She therefore cut more classes in order to volunteer for work with the Berwyn Associates.

Calvin decided that Samantha was, by this time, qualified to do psychological counselling. There was the detail of her not having a Ph. D. in clinical psychology, but, as long as they didn't claim, on paper, that she was a qualified clinical psychologist, there was no problem. Miss Gatewood had asked for this service, and, since she was now too close to Sandy for the latter to counsel her effectively, she was assigned to Samantha. Calvin, now seeming very pleased to be Samantha's boss, said

"I know you don't like her, but we psychologists are having to set aside our personal feelings all the time."

When Susan Gatewood entered her office, Samantha, for what seemed to her the first time in her life, managed to control her feelings and impulses. She was, in fact, quite nervous. She could hardly imagine herself saying, 'What seems to be the trouble, Miss Gatewood?', or something similarly doctory.

Nothing of the sort turned out to be necessary. Even as she greeted Miss Gatewood and asked her to sit down, the other woman burst out,

"I'm so glad it's you, Miss Valerius. I know you'll be able to help me. The fact is, I'm falling in love. With an older man. Dr. Narrison."

Samantha found herself saying, simply, 'Wow!' Fortunately, that lapse from professionalism seemed hardly to be noticed as Miss Gatewood went into a frenzy of explanation. Samantha told herself that all she had to do was hang on tight and listen. When, eventually, Miss Gatewood did run out of wonderful things to say about Dr. Narrison, Samantha remarked,

"Of course, I know Dr. Narrison as a colleague. But he certainly does have a wide range of experience, and he's done many interesting things."

Having sounded what Samantha took to be the right note, she went on,

"Of course, there is the age difference. You're likely to outlive him by many years. Have you thought about that?"

"Yes. But women do outlive the men anyway. My choice has been between taking someone unsuitable and just managing on my own. If I marry Goodman, I'll be on my own again when I'm fifty or so. But I'll have had the good years, and I won't be any worse off then."

The only thing Samantha could think to do was to ask Miss Gatewood about her other men. She knew that Sandy had already done it, but something might turn up. It was in the course of that exercise that Miss Gatewood said,

"All the other men I've known well have sooner or later humiliated me, often in public. Dr. Narrison's too much a gentleman to do that."

It seemed to Samantha that Dr. Narrison might kill another person, perhaps even his wife, if that person's existence became inconvenient. But he wouldn't humiliate her first. She therefore found herself agreeing with the claim put forward by her client.

The weekly lunch with Dr. Narrison seemed now to be a fixture, permanently replacing the philosophy class taught by a paranoic Latin American who, while charming at times, seemed on the point of institutionalization at others. Dr. Narrison, who was, strictly speaking, institutionalized, seemed to have no paranoia at all. That was why it surprised Samantha when he told her that he was being followed. When she asked by whom, he replied,

"It's a man I've known for many years. He doesn't know that I've seen him, but I've caught him on my tail, off and on, for several weeks now."

Dr. Narrison didn't seem to be particularly disturbed and asked if she had managed to get to the library to check something for him. Samantha had. He had asked her, mysteriously enough, to check the back files of the newspapers for a few days in 1915 to see if a ship had been sunk in the River Plate. She now reported,

"I found the reference. It was a Dutch ship carrying Belgian refugees and war orphans to Argentina. There was heavy loss of life, and it was assumed to be the work of a German submarine which had refuelled from a tanker."

"Yes. I actually knew that, but I wanted you to see for yourself. The man who's following me is the one who sank the ship. He actually did it just for fun."

Samantha already knew from Sandy that Dr. Narrison had been the commander of a German surface raider in the first war, but it was interesting to hear the more direct account from the source. It also wasn't long before she realized that the man Sandy was seeing must be the man who was following Dr. Narrison, and, indeed, the one who had been his first officer. With Sandy's description of the older man in mind, she listened closely to Dr. Narrison's description of the young man he had been.

"He was what we would now call a juvenile delinquent. A rebel from a good family, he had many obnoxious characteristics, an arrogant contempt for almost all adults, and a marked inclination to inflict pain wherever he could. Slovenly in appearance, he would suddenly, for no apparent reason, slash a seaman across the face with a knotted line that he carried."

"Why did you tolerate him?"

"He was exactly what I needed. I was essentially a foreigner in command of a German warship, and I didn't have much call on the loyalty of the crew. But Manfred was indisputably German. Not only that, the crew recognized in him the sort of Prussian aristocrat that they might hate, but whom they would obey without question."

"So they didn't have much hostility left over for you?"

"Exactly. In return, I let Manfred do many things I wouldn't ordinarily have permitted."

It turned out that they had put in to Buenos Aires for supplies, and were coming out into the Plate estuary. Dr. Narrison had been below in his cabin when he heard a tremendous explosion. Rushing up to the bridge, he found Manfred standing near the firing button for the torpedo tubes.

"He reported that he had just hit an English ship. It was already dusk, and all I could see was a great volume of smoke and fire. I assumed that it was an enemy ship, and there was nothing for it but to keep going."

"When did you discover the truth?"

"Not until after the war. I remembered the incident and checked in the back papers, just as you did. I realized at that time what must have happened. The torpedoes were kept always armed, and it took only a strike on the plunger to fire them. He saw a ship he could hit, and he didn't care about the nationality. He just wanted to see the explosion. We have nineteen year-olds here in Chicago who'd do the same thing."

"I suppose so. I might have been the same myself a few years ago. I set off a firecracker in the hand of a boyfriend I had at the time."

Dr. Narrison was much more delighted than Samantha had expected. When he stopped laughing, he commented,

"The difference is just that war puts weapons much more powerful than firecrackers in the hands of teenagers."

Before the lunch, Samantha had been mindful that she shouldn't mention her interview with Miss Gatewood, nor, despite her continuing contempt for that lady, reveal the content of her feelings. But, now, there was something much more serious that also couldn't be revealed, at least not yet. How would Dr. Narrison feel if he knew that Sandy was going out with his potential enemy? For that matter, how would Sandy feel if she knew what Samantha now knew about the man called variously 'Manfred' and 'Fred.'

It would be at least ironic if Sandy, who had always suspected Dr. Narrison of being a war criminal, was now herself getting involved with the real war criminal. That, too, might best be censored for the time being. It was just then that Dr. Narrison had another surprise for Samantha.

"There's one thing about Manfred that hasn't changed. He's smart, quick to take action, and probably violent, but he doesn't have ordinary caution. I not only caught him following me, but ducked him and then turned the tables on him. I followed him back to his hotel, and he never looked back. Since then, I've had him followed by private detectives. He's going out with Sandy."

Samantha's surprise, she hoped, passed for surprise that Sandy should be going around with Fred, as opposed to her genuine surprise that Dr. Narrison knew about it. But, then, he also knew that she and Sandy were close. On impulse, she blurted out almost everything Sandy had told her, concluding,

"He says only good things about you, and Sandy thinks he's an old friend who just wants to surprise you."

It seemed to be all right. Dr. Narrison smiled broadly and replied,

"I dare say that Fred, as he now calls himself, does have a surprise in store for me. I'll meet him one of these days."

"You aren't angry at Sandy, I hope."

"Certainly not. It's inevitable. Manfred saw his chance to get close to me, and, since he lacks caution, he took it. And then, of course, Sandy wouldn't be any match for him. She's a small-town girl, and she'd never have any notion that there are people like Manfred."

"Can I tell Sandy we've talked about this?"

"Not just yet. She might tell Manfred, and it would be dangerous for me if he knew that I know."

This was entirely new ground for Samantha, and she was thrilled.

Bill Todd -- A Man of Three Names
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