The Adventures of Heine - Edgar Wallace - ebook

The Adventures of Heine ebook

Edgar Wallace



The hapless Heine is trying very hard to be a good German spy in Great Britain during WWI but luck and circumstance are not with him. Every adventure turns out poorly for our dear spy. This collection of stories of Edgar Wallace about Heine was published during WWI and should be taken lightly by readers – some may see it as a piece of anti-German propaganda, with Heine as a bit of a hopeless idiot. But the stories are also entertaining and should be read as such. Although these stories of German spy Heine are all linked and follow on from each other it is still very much a short story collection rather than a novel.

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SECRET SERVICE work is a joke in peace time and it is paid on joke rates. People talk of the fabulous sums of money which our Government spend on this kind of work, and I have no doubt a very large sum was spent every year, but it had to go a long way. Even Herr Kressler, of the Bremen-America Line, who gave me my monthly cheque, used to nod and wink when he handed over my two hundred marks.

“Ah, my good Heine,” he would say, stroking his stubbly beard, “they make a fool of me, the Government, but I suppose I mustn’t ask who is your other paymaster?”

“Herr Kessler,” said I earnestly, “I assure you that this is the whole sum I receive from the Government.”

“So!” he would say and shake his head: “Ah, you are close fellows, and I mustn’t ask questions!”

There was little to do save now and again to keep track of some of the bad men, the extreme Socialists, and the fellows who ran away from Germany to avoid military service. I often wished there were more, because it would have been possible to have made a little on one’s expenses. Fortunately, two or three of the very big men in New York and Chicago knew the work I was doing, and credited me with a, much larger income than I possessed. The reputation of. being well off is a very useful one, and in my case brought me all sorts of commissions and little tips which I could profitably exploit on Wall Street, and in one way or another I lived comfortably, had a nice apartment on Riverside Drive, backed horses, and enjoyed an occasional trip to Washington, at my Governments expense.

I first knew that war was likely to break out in July. I think we Germans understood the European situation much better than the English and certainly much better than the Americans, and we knew that the event at Sarajevo–by the way, poor Klein of our service and an old colleague of mine, was killed by the bomb which was intended for the Archduke, though nobody seems to have noticed the fact–would produce the war which Austria had been expecting or seeking an excuse to wage for two years.

If I remember aright, the assassination was committed on the Sunday morning. The New York papers published the story on that day, and on the Monday afternoon I was summoned to Washington, and saw the Secretary, who was in charge of our Department on the Tuesday evening after dinner.

The Secretary was very grave and told me that war was almost certain, and that Austria was determined to settle with Serbia for good, but that it was feared that Russia would come in and that the war could not be localised because, if Russia made war, Germany and France would also be involved.

Personally, I have never liked the French, and my French is not particularly good. I was hoping that he was going to tell us that England was concerned and I asked him if this was not the case. To my disappointment, he told me that England would certainly not fight, that she would remain neutral, and that strict orders had been issued that nothing was to be done which would in any way annoy the English.

“Their army,” he said, “is beneath contempt, but their navy is the most powerful in the world and its employment might have very serious consequences.”

It seemed very early to talk about war with the newspapers still full of long descriptions of the Sarajevo murder and the removal of the Archduke’s body and I remembered after with what astounding assurance our Secretary had spoken.

I must confess I was disappointed, because I had spent a very long time in England Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, establishing touch with good friends who, I felt, would work with advantage for me in the event of war. I had prepared my way by founding The Chinese News Bureau, a little concern that had an office in Fleet Street and was ostensibly engaged in collecting items of news concerning China and distributing them to the London and provincial press, and in forwarding a London letter to certain journals in Pekin, Tientsien and Shanghai.

Of course, the money was found by the Department, and it was not a financial success, but it was a good start in case one ever had to operate in London, since I was registered as a naturalised Chilean and it was extremely unlikely that Chile would be at war with any European Power.

On the 3rd August, 1914, I received a message from Washington in the Departmental code, telling me that war with England was inevitable and that I was to sail on the first boat and take up my duties in London in full control of the British Department.

I was overjoyed with the news and I know that men like Stohwasser, Wesser, and other men of my Department, looked at me with envy. They did not think they had an easy task because the American Secret Service is a very competent one; but they thought I was a lucky pig–as indeed I was–to be operating in a country containing a population of forty millions, most of whom, as one of their writers said, were fools.

I landed at Liverpool on August 11th. My passport was in order and I immediately went forward to London. There was no trace of any excitement. I saw a lot of soldiers on their way to their depots; and arriving in London, I immediately received the reports of our innumerable agents.

With what pride did I contemplate the splendid smoothness of our system! When the Emperor pressed the button marked “Mobilise,” he called, in addition to his soldiers, a thousand gallant hearts and brilliant minds in a score of countries all eager and happy to work for the aggrandisement of our beloved Fatherland.

Six of us met at a fashionable restaurant near Trafalgar Square. There were Emil Stein who called himself Robinson, Karl Besser–I need not give all their aliases–Heine von Wetzl, Fritz von Kahn and Alexander Koos.

Stein had arrived from Holland the night before and Fritz von Kahn had come down from Glasgow where he bad been acting as a hotel porter. These men were, as I say, known to me, and to one another, but there were thousands of unknowns who had their secret instructions, which were only to be opened in case of war and with whom we had to get in touch.

I briefly explained the procedure and the method by which our agents would be identified. Every German agent would prove his bona fides by producing three used postage stamps of Nicaragua. It is a simple method of identification, for there is nothing treasonable or suspicious in a man carrying about in his pocket-book, a ten, twenty or a fifty centime stamp of a neutral country.

I sent Emil Stein away to Portsmouth and instructed him to make contact with sailors of the Fleet especially with officers. Besser was dispatched to a West Coast shipping centre to report on all the boats which left and entered. I sent Kahn and his family on a motor-car tour to the East Coast with instructions to find out what new coast defences were being instituted.

“You must exercise the greatest care,” I said; “even though these English are very stupid, they may easily blunder into a discovery. Make the briefest notes on all you see and hear and only use the Number 3 code in case of urgent necessity.” We finished our dinner and we drank to “The Day” and sang under our breath “Deutschland über Alles” and separated, Koos coming with me.

Koos was a staff officer of the Imperial Service, and though he was not noble he was held in the greatest respect. He was a fine, handsome fellow, very popular with the girls, and typically British in appearance. His English was as good as mine, and that is saying a great deal. I sent him to Woolwich because in his character as an American inventor–he bad spent four years in the States–he was admirably fitted to pick up such facts as were of the greatest interest to the Government.

I did not see Koos for a few days and in the meantime I was very busy arranging with my couriers who were to carry the result of our discoveries through a neutral country to Germany. The system I adopted was a very simple one. My notes, written in Indian ink, were separately photographed by means of a camera. When I had finished the twelve exposures, I opened the camera in a dark room, carefully re-rolled the spool and sealed it, so that it had the appearance of being an unexposed pellicle. I argued that whilst the English military authorities would confiscate photographs which had obviously been taken, they might pass films which were apparently unused.

I had arranged to meet Koos on the night of August 17th, and made my way to the rendezvous, engaging a table for two. I bad hardly seated myself when, to my surprise, Koos came in accompanied by a very pretty English girl. He walked past me, merely giving me the slightest side-glance, and, seated himself at the next table. I was amused. I knew the weakness of our good Koos for the ladies, but I knew also that he was an excellent investigator and that he was probably combining business with pleasure In this I was right. The meal finished–and tho innocent laughter of the girl made me smile again–and Koos walked out with the girl on his arm.

As he passed my table he dropped a slip of paper which I covered with my table-napkin. When I was sure I was not observed, I read the note.

“Making excellent progress. Meet me at a quarter to eleven outside Piccadilly Tube.”

I met him at the appointed time and we strolled into Jermyn Street.

“What do you think of her?” was Koos’ first question.

“Very pretty, my friend,” said I. “You have excellent taste.”

He chuckled.

“I have also excellent luck, my dear Heine. That lady is the daughter of one of the chief gun-constructors at Woolwich.”

He looked at me to note the effect of his words, and I must confess I was startled.

“Splendid, my dear fellow! ” said I, warmly. “How did you come to meet her?”

“A little act of gallantry,” he said airily; “a lady walking on Blackheath twists her ankle, what more natural than that I should offer her assistance to the nearest seat? Quite a babbling little person–typically English. She is a mine of information. An only daughter and a little spoilt, I am afraid, she knows no doubt secrets of construction of which the technical experts of the Government are ignorant. Can you imagine a German talking over military affairs with his daughter?”

“What have you learnt from her?” I asked.

Koos did. not reply for a moment, then he said: “So far, very little I am. naturally anxious not to alarm her or arouse her suspicions. She is willing to talk and she has access to her father’s study and, from what I gather, she practically keeps all the keys of the house. At present I am educating her to the necessity of preserving secrecy about our friendship and to do her justice, she is just as anxious that our clandestine meetings should not come to the ears of her father as I am.”

We walked along in silence.

“This may be a very big thing,” I said.

“Bigger than you imagine,” replied Alexander; “there is certain to be an exchange of confidential views about artillery between the Allies, and though we have nothing to learn from the English it is possible that the French may send orders to Woolwich for armament. In that case our little friend may be a mine of information. I am working with my eyes a few months ahead,” he said, “ and for that reason I am allowing our friendship to develop slowly.”

I did not see Koos again for a week, except that I caught a glimpse of him in the Cafe Riche with his fair companion. He did not see me, however, and as it was desirable that I should not intrude, I made no attempt to make my presence apparent.

At the end of the week we met by appointment, which we arranged through the agony column of a certain London newspaper. I was feeling very cheerful, for Stein, Besser, and Kahn had sent in most excellent reports, and it only needed Alexander’s encouraging news to complete my sum of happiness.

“You remember the gun-lathe I spoke to you about,” he said. “My friend–you may regard the blue prints as in your hands.”

“How has this come about?”

“I just casually mentioned to my little girl that I was interested in inventions and that I had just put a new lathe upon the market in America and she was quite excited about it. She asked me if I heard about the lathe at Woolwich, and I said that l had heard rumours that there was such a lathe. She was quite overjoyed at the opportunity of giving me information and asked me whether in the event of her showing me the prints I would keep the fact a great secret because,” he laughed softly, “she did not think her father would like the print to leave his office!”

“You must be careful of this girl,” I said, “she may be detected.”

“There is no danger, my dear fellow,” said Alexander. “She is the shrewdest little woman in the world. I am getting quite to like her if one can like these abominable people–she is such a child!”

I told him to keep in communication with me and sent him off feeling what the English call in “good form.” I dispatched a courier by the morning train to the Continent, giving details of the British Expeditionary Force. Only two brigades were in France–and that after three weeks of preparation! In Germany every man was mobilized and at his corps or army headquarters weeks ago–every regiment had moved up to its order of battle position. Two brigades! It would be amusing if it were not pathetic!

Besser came to me soon after lunch in a very excited state.

“The whole of the British Expeditionary Force of three Divisions is in France,” he said, “and, what is more, it is in line.”

I smiled at him.

“My poor dear fellow, who has been pulling your foot?” I asked.

“It is confidentially communicated to the Press, and will he public to-morrow,” he said.

“Lies,” said I calmly, “you are too credulous. The English are the most stupid liars in the world.”

I was not so calm that night when I ran down in my car to Gorselton, where our very good friend, the Baron von Hertz-Missenger, had a nice little estate.

“Heine,” he said, after he had taken me to his study and shut the door. “I have received a radio through my wireless from the Kriegsministerium [The Prussian Ministry of War] to the effect that the whole of the British Expeditionary Force has landed and is in line.”

“Impossible, Herr Baron,” I said, but he shook his head.

“It is true–our Intelligence in Belgium is infallible. Now, I do not want to interfere with you, for I am but a humble volunteer in this great work, but I advise you to give a little more attention to the army. We may have underrated the military assistance which Britain can offer.”

“The English Army, Herr Baron,” said I firmly, “is almost as insignificant a factor as–as well–the American army, which only exists on paper! Nevertheless, I will take your advice.”

I went back to town and dispatched another courier, for as yet the Torpington Varnish Factory (about which I will tell you later) had not been equipped with radio.

That night I again saw Alexander. It was at supper at the Fritz, and he looked a fine figure of a man. I felt proud of the country which could produce such a type. Where, I ask you, amongst the paunchy English and the scraggy Scotch, with their hairy knees and their sheep-shank legs, could you find a counterpart of that beau sabreur? Cower treacherous Albion, shiver in your kilt, hateful Scotch (it is not generally known that the Royal and High-Born Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria is rightful King of Scotland.), tremble, wild Wales , and unreliable Ireland, when you come in arms against a land which can produce such men as Alexander Koos!

I never saw a girl look more radiantly happy than did the young woman who was sitting vis-a-vis my friend. There was a light in her eye and a colour in her cheeks which were eloquent of her joy.

I saw Alexander afterwards. He came secretly to my room.

“Have you brought the blue print?” I asked. He shook his head smilingly. “Tomorrow, my friend, not only the blue print of the lathe, not only the new gun-mounting model, but the lady herself will come to me. I want your permission to leave the day after to-morrow for home. I cannot afford to wait for what the future may bring.”

“Can you smuggle the plans past the English police?” I asked, a little relieved that he bad volunteered to act as courier on so dangerous a mission.

“Nothing easier.”

“And the girl–have you her passport?”

He nodded.

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