Hermia had lived more years in Denmark than England, but suddenly it was a foreign country. The familiar streets of Copenhagen had a hostile air, and she felt she stood out. She hurried like a fugitive down streets where she had walked as a child, hand-in-hand with her father, innocent and carefree. It was not just the checkpoints, the German uniforms, and the gray-green Mercedes cars. Even the Danish police made her jumpy.
She had friends here, but she did not contact them. She was afraid of bringing more people into danger. Poul had died, Jens had presumably been arrested, and she did not know what had happened to Arne. She felt cursed.
She was exhausted and stiff from her overnight ferry trip, and racked with worry about Arne. Excruciatingly aware of the hours ticking by toward the full moon, she forced herself to move with the utmost caution.
The home of Jens Toksvig in St. Paul's Gade was one of a row, all single-story, with front doors that gave immediately onto the pavement. Number fifty-three appeared empty. No one went to the door except the postman. On the previous day, when Hermia telephoned from Bornholm, it had been occupied by at least one policeman, but the guard must have been withdrawn.
Hermia also observed the neighbors. On one side was a dilapidated house occupied by a young couple with a child - the kind of people who might be too absorbed in their own life to take an interest in their neighbors. But in the freshly painted and neatly curtained house on the other side was an older woman who looked out of the window frequently.
After watching for three hours, Hermia went to the neat house and knocked.
A plump woman of about sixty years came to the door in an apron. Looking at the little suitcase Hermia was carrying, she said, "I never buy anything on the doorstep." She smiled in a superior way, as if her refusal was a mark of social distinction.
Hermia smiled back. "I've been told that number fifty-three might be available to rent."
The neighbor's attitude changed. "Oh?" she said with interest. "Looking for a place to live, are you?"
"Yes." The woman was as nosy as Hermia had hoped. Indulging her, Hermia said, "I'm getting married."
The woman's glance went automatically to Hermia's left hand, and Hermia showed her the engagement ring. "Very nice. Well, I must say, it would be a relief to have a respectable family next door, after the goings-on."
She lowered her voice. "It was a nest of communist spies."
The woman folded her arms over her corseted bosom. "They were arrested last Wednesday, the whole pack of them."
Hermia felt a chill of fear, but she made herself keep up the pretense of idle gossip. "Goodness! How many?"
"I couldn't say, exactly. There was the tenant, young Mr. Toksvig, who I wouldn't have taken for a wrongdoer, though he wasn't always as respectful to his elders as he might have been, then lately an airman seemed to be living there, a nice-looking boy, though he never said much; but there were all sorts in and out of the place, mostly military types."
"And they were arrested on Wednesday?"
"On that very pavement, where you see Mr. Schmidt's spaniel cocking his leg against the lamppost, there was a shooting."
Hermia gasped, and her hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, no!"
The old woman nodded, pleased with this reaction to her story, not suspecting that she might be speaking of the man Hermia loved. "A plainclothes policeman shot one of the communists." She added superfluously, "With a gun."
Hermia was so afraid of what she might learn that she could hardly speak. She forced out three words: "Who was shot?"
"I didn't actually see it myself," the woman said with infinite regret. "I happened to be over at my sister's house in Fischer's Gade, borrowing a knitting pattern for a cardigan. It wasn't Mr. Toksvig himself, that I can say for sure, because Mrs. Eriksen in the shop saw it, and she said it was a man she didn't know."
"Was he . . . killed?"
"Oh, no. Mrs. Eriksen thought he might have been wounded in the leg. Anyhow, he cried out when the ambulance men lifted him onto the stretcher."
Hermia felt sure it was Arne who had been shot. She seemed to feel the pain of a bullet wound herself. She was breathless and dizzy. She needed to get away from this awful old busybody who told the tragic story with such relish. "I must be going," she said. "What a dreadful thing to happen." She turned away.
"Anyway, I should think the place will be to rent, before too long," the woman said to her back.
Hermia walked away, paying no attention.
She turned corners at random until she came to a cafe, where she sat down to gather her thoughts. A hot cup of ersatz tea helped her recover from the shock. She had to find out for sure what had happened to Arne and where he was now. But first she needed somewhere to spend the night.
She got a room at a cheap hotel near the waterfront. It was a sleazy place, but her bedroom door had a stout lock. At about midnight, a slurred voice outside asked if she would like a little drink, and she got up to jam the door with a tilted chair.
She spent most of the night awake, wondering if Arne had been the man shot in St. Paul's Gade. If so, how badly was he hurt? If not, had he been arrested with the others, or was he still at large? Whom could she ask? She could contact Arne's family, but they probably would not know, and it would scare them to death to be asked whether he had been shot. She knew many of his friends, but the ones who were likely to know what had happened were dead, or in custody, or in hiding.
In the early hours of the morning, it occurred to her that there was one person who was almost certain to know if Arne had been arrested: his commanding officer.
At first light, she went to the railway station and caught a train to Vodal.
As the train crawled south, stopping at every sleepy village, she thought of Digby. By now he would be in back in Sweden, waiting impatiently on the quay at Kalvsby for her to arrive with Arne and the film. The fisherman would come back alone, and tell Digby that Hermia had not appeared at their rendezvous. Digby would not know whether she had been captured or merely delayed. He would be as distraught about her as she was about Arne.
The flying school had a desolate feel. There were no aircraft on the field and none in the sky. A few machines were being serviced and, in one of the hangars, some trainees were being shown the innards of an engine. She was directed to the headquarters building.
She had to give her real name, for there were people here who knew her. She asked to see the base commander, adding, "Tell him I'm a friend of Arne Olufsen's."
She knew she was taking a risk. She had met Squadron Leader Renthe, and remembered him as a tall, thin man with a moustache. She had no idea what his politics were. If he happened to be pro-Nazi, she could be in trouble. He might phone the police and report an Englishwoman asking questions. But he was fond of Arne, as so many people were, so she was hoping that for Arne's sake he would not betray her. Anyway, she was going to take the chance. She had to find out what had happened.
She was admitted immediately, and Renthe recognized her. "My God - you're Arne's fiancee!" he said. "I thought you'd gone back to England." He hurried to close the door behind her - a good sign, she thought, for if he wanted privacy that suggested he was not going to alert the police, at least not immediately.
She decided to offer no explanation of why she was in Denmark. Let him draw his own conclusions. "I'm trying to find out where Arne is," she said. "I fear he may be in trouble."
"It's worse than that," said Renthe. "You'd better sit down."
Hermia remained standing. "Why?" she cried. "Why sit down? What's happened?"
"He was arrested last Wednesday."
"Is that all?"
"He was shot and wounded while trying to escape from the police."
"So it was him."
"I beg your pardon?"
"A neighbor told me one of them had been shot. How is he?"
"Please do sit down, my dear."
Hermia sat down. "It's bad, isn't it?"
"Yes." Renthe hesitated. Then, in a low voice, he said slowly, "I'm dreadfully sorry to have to tell you that I'm afraid Arne is dead."
She cried out in anguish. In her heart she had known this might be so, but the possibility of losing him had been too dreadful to think about. Now that it had come, she felt as if she had been struck by a train. "No," she said. "It's not true."
"He died in police custody."
"What?" With an effort, she made herself listen.
"He died at police headquarters."
A terrible possibility entered her mind. "Did they torture him?"
"I don't think so. It seems that, in order to avoid revealing information under torture, he took his own life."
"He sacrificed himself to protect his friends, I'd guess."
Renthe looked blurred, and Hermia realized she was seeing him through tears which were streaming down her face. She fumbled for a handkerchief, and Renthe passed her his own. She wiped her face, but the tears kept coming.
Renthe said, "I've only just heard. I've got to phone Arne's parents and tell them."
Hermia knew them well. She found the steely pastor difficult to deal with: it seemed he could relate to people only by dominating them, and subservience did not come easily to Hermia. He loved his sons, but expressed his love by laying down rules. What Hermia remembered most vividly about Arne's mother was that her hands were always chapped from being in water too much, washing clothes and preparing vegetables and scrubbing floors. Thinking of them drew Hermia's thoughts away from her own loss, and she felt a surge of compassion. They would be distraught. "How dreadful for you to be the bearer of such news," she said to Renthe.
"Indeed. Their firstborn son."
That made her think of the other son, Harald. He was fair where Arne was dark, and they were different in other ways: Harald was more serious, somewhat intellectual, with little of Arne's easy charm, but likeable in his own way. Arne had said he was going to talk to Harald about ways to sneak into the base on Sande. How much did Harald know? Had he gotten involved?
Her mind was turning to practical matters, but she felt hollow. The state of shock she was in would permit her to carry on with her life, but she felt as if she would never be whole again. "What else did the police tell you?" she asked Renthe.
"Officially, they would say only that he had died while giving information, and that 'No other person is thought to have been involved,' which is their euphemism for suicide. But a friend at the Politigaarden told me Arne did it to avoid being turned over to the Gestapo."
"Did they find anything in his possession?"
"What do you mean?"
"Such as photographs?"
Renthe stiffened. "My friend didn't say so, and it's dangerous for you and me to even discuss such a possibility. Miss Mount, I was fond of Arne, and for his sake I would like to do anything I can for you, but please remember that as an officer I have sworn loyalty to the King, whose orders to me are to cooperate with the occupying power. Whatever my personal opinions might be, I can't countenance espionage - and, if I thought someone was involved in such activity, it would be my duty to report the facts."
Hermia nodded. It was a clear warning. "I appreciate your frankness, Squadron Leader." She stood up, wiping her face. She remembered that the handkerchief was his, and said, "I'll launder this, and send it back to you."
"Don't even think about it." He came around his desk and put his hands on her shoulders. "I really am most dreadfully sorry. Please accept my deepest sympathy."
"Thank you," she said, and she left.
As soon as she was out of the building, the tears came again. Renthe's handkerchief was a wet rag. She would not have thought she had so much fluid in her. Seeing everything through a watery screen, she made her way somehow to the railway station.
The hollow calm came back as she considered where to go next. The mission that had killed Poul and Arne was not done. She still had to get photographs of the radar equipment on Sande before the next full moon. But now she had an additional motive: revenge. Completion of the task would be the most painful retribution she could inflict upon the men who had driven Arne to his death. And she found a new asset to help her. She no longer cared for her own safety. She felt ready to take any risk. She would walk down the streets of Copenhagen with her head held high, and woe betide anyone who tried to stop her.
But what, exactly, would she do?
Arne's brother might be the key. Harald would probably know whether Arne had returned to Sande before the police got him, and he might even know whether Arne had had photographs in his possession when he was arrested. Furthermore, she thought she knew where to find Harald.
She took a train back to Copenhagen. It traveled so slowly that by the time she got to the city it was too late for another journey. She went to bed in her flophouse, with the door locked against amorous drunks, and cried herself to sleep. On the following morning she got the first train to the suburban village of Jansborg.
The newspaper she bought at the station had the headline "HALFWAY TO MOSCOW." The Nazis had made astonishing leaps. In only a week they had taken Minsk and were in sight of Smolensk, two hundred miles inside Soviet territory.
The full moon was eight days away.
She told the school secretary that she was Arne Olufsen's fiancee, and she was shown into Heis's office immediately. The man who had been responsible for the education of Arne and Harald made her think of a giraffe in spectacles, looking down a long nose at the world below. "So you're Arne's wife-to-be," he said amiably. "How very nice to meet you."
He appeared to have no knowledge of the tragedy. Without preamble, Hermia said, "Haven't you heard the news?"
"News? I'm not sure I have . . ."
"Arne is dead."
"Oh, my goodness me!" Heis sat down heavily.
"I thought you might have heard."
"No. When did it happen?"
"Early yesterday, at police headquarters in Copenhagen. He took his own life to avoid interrogation by the Gestapo."
"How very dreadful."
"Does this mean that his brother doesn't know yet?"
"I've no idea. Harald is no longer here."
She was surprised. "Why not?"
"I'm afraid he was expelled."
"I thought he was a star pupil!"
"Yes, but he misbehaved."
Hermia did not have time to discuss schoolboy transgressions. "Where is he now?"
"Back at his parents' home, I presume." Heis frowned. "Why do you ask?"
"I'd like to talk to him."
Heis looked thoughtful. "About anything in particular?"
Hermia hesitated. Caution dictated that she say nothing to Heis about her mission, but his last two questions suggested to her that he knew something. She said, "Arne may have had something of mine in his possession when he was arrested."
Heis was pretending that his questions were casual, but he was gripping the edge of his desk hard enough to turn his knuckles white. "May I ask what?"
She hesitated again, then took a chance. "Some photographs."
"That means something to you?"
Hermia wondered whether Heis would trust her. For all he knew, she could have been a detective posing as Arne's fiancee. "Arne died for those photos," she said. "He was trying to get them to me."
Heis nodded, and seemed to come to a decision. "After Harald had been expelled, he returned to the school at night and broke into the photographic darkroom in the chemistry lab."
Hermia gave a sigh of satisfaction. Harald had developed the film. "Did you see the pictures?"
"Yes. I have been telling people they were photographs of young ladies in risque poses, but that's just a story. The pictures were of a military installation."
Hermia was thrilled. The photos had been taken. The mission had succeeded to that extent. But where was the film now? Had there been time for Harald to give it to Arne? If so, the police had it now, and Arne's sacrifice had been for nothing. "When did Harald do this?"
"Arne was arrested on Wednesday."
"So Harald still has your photographs."
"Yes." Hermia's spirits lifted. Arne's death had not been futile. The crucial film was still in circulation, somewhere. She stood up. "Thank you for your help."
"You're going to Sande?"
"Yes. To find Harald."
"Good luck," said Heis.