There were signs in three languages over the ramps that fed into the airport from the passenger disembarking area; the signs directed nationals to the right, incoming foreigners to the left. There were no porters about, so I shifted my suitcase from one hand to the other and followed the crowd to the left into customs.
For a country that was beginning to build a reputation as a tourist attraction, they certainly didn’t go all out to make a visitor feel welcome. The customs room was stark and bare except for a long wooden table and a huge picture of Lenin staring suspiciously down from the wall. Or maybe he just seemed that way to me. Maybe to a dedicated Communist he looked sternly paternal.
But in any case I was an old hand at being stared at suspiciously. So I met his eyes blandly and handed my passport to the uniformed customs official without a visible qualm.
Not that I needed to worry about the passport. The same people who made them for the State Department did the CIA’s. And the stamps and seals were as good as you’d find anywhere. The name inside wasn’t the one I’d been born with, of course, but by now I’d got used to changing my name. You get used to a lot of things when you work for the CIA.
The official frowned professionally and began to leaf through the green and gold booklet. He was a tall man with close-cropped hair, no sideburns at all, and a smooth arrogant face. “Is this your first visit to our country?” he said without looking up.
“No,” I said. It always pays to be truthful in small things, because it’s the small things that can trip you up and expose the big lie. “I was here once before. Shortly after the war.”
“I see,” the official said. He turned another page. “and what is the purpose of your visit? Business or pleasure?”
I smiled. “A little of both,” I said. “Business and pleasure.” Truthfully again, too, because this was just the way Giddings had put it to me.
“How’d you like a little trip east?” he had said. “You’ve earned a rest after that affair with Heussinger and young Herold. And this would give you a chance to mix a little business with pleasure.” We were in his office overlooking the Ku’damm; I was in my usual chair opposite his desk and he was lounging behind it and toying with his ever-present pencil.
I looked at him skeptically. My experience was that those trips generally turned out to be more business than pleasure.
Giddings caught my gaze and wave the pencil protestingly. “No,” he said. “I’m serious. Southeastern Europe’s becoming quite a tourist attraction these days, what with the mountains and the beaches. And all things considered nobody would object to your spending a couple of days or weeks there after the job’s done. What’s more, if you aren’t too blatant about it, you might even get a good part of it covered on your expense voucher too.”
“Sure,” I said. “And what’s the job?”
Giddings pursed his lips and looked up at the ceiling. “One of our people got himself killed over there last week,” he said. “We’d like you to go in and find out why.”
“I don’t have to go in,” I said drily. “I can tell you why without leaving this room. He found out something the Commies didn’t want him talking about.”
It had to be that, of course, and Giddings knew it as well as I. If the dead man’s cover had merely been blown, they’d have set up a show trial or arranged a trade for one of their people we held. That’s the way things work these days. Killing agents just because they’re agents went out with Mata Hari. Killing them to keep them from talking will, of course, never go out of style.
“What you really want,” I said, “is for me to find out what he knew that was worth killing him for.”
Giddings made a little dismissive motion with his pencil. “If you want to put it that way,” he said, “yes”.
“I want to put it that way,” I said, “particularly since they just might kill me too.”
“Only if they caught you,” Giddings said easily. “Which if you’re reasonably careful they won’t do.” He straightened in his chair. “Of course,” he went on, meeting my eyes just as earnestly as if he really meant what he was saying, “if you really don’t want this assignment –”
But of course he knew I’d go. Because I knew somebody had to…
Now the customs official was asking me what my business was. He listened patiently while I recited the cover story that Giddings had arranged; then he closed my passport with a snap and nodded to his assistant. Together they went through my luggage with a thoroughness that would have put a horde of ravaging locusts to shame. I’ll say this for them, though: when they were done they put everything back in with roughly the same degree of neatness.
The official handed my passport back. “Have a pleasant visit,” he said with no particular show of caring one way or the other.
I smile at him anyway, said I was sure I would, and went out to catch a taxi to the hotel that the local version of Intourist had arranged for me. I stopped there long enough to register and drop off my bag. Then I went back out and hailed another cab.
The driver’s eyes began a nervous little flick when I gave American Embassy as my destination, but that was all. He didn’t try to make any conversation on the way over, though, and I noted with wry amusement that he didn’t waste any time scooting off after depositing me a couple of yards from an open iron-grilled gate, with the eagle in a circle seal of the United States set square in the middle of it. I watched the cabbie until he swung around a corner out of sight, then I turned and went through the gate and up the graveled drive.
There was a pleasant-faced girl seated at a desk just inside the door. I gave her the name on my passport and five minutes later was in an upstairs office seated across from a man whose eyes were every bit as unfriendly as Lenin’s, even though theoretically at least he and I were on the same side. His surname was Arnold and he was the Deputy Chief of Mission – Number Two man under the Ambassador.
“So you’re the one they’ve sent in to replace Johns,” he said coldly.
“In a manner of speaking,” I said, “yes. But what I’m really after is to find out why they killed him.”
“The official verdict,” Arnold said, “was that Johns died in an automobile accident.”
“I know,” I said, “I read the official verdict. I also read the autopsy report by the doctor who examined the body once it crossed over into West Germany. It says there were injuries to the back of the skull that couldn’t have been caused by the accident.”
“And all undoubtedly very true,” Arnold said. “Nevertheless, it might still be best for all concerned to let the matter rest with the official verdict.”
“Perhaps,” I agreed. “But then it isn’t my decision to make.” I smiled at him cheerfully. “Or your either for that matter.”
Arnold looked at me with undisguised distaste and pressed a buzzer on his desk. “I’m going to turn you over to our Mr. Murphy,” he said. “Murphy served as Johns’s liaison within the Embassy, and he will help you all he can. But,” Arnold added with heavy emphasis, “instructions from on high or no, I will not stand for anything that will embarrass the Embassy or our efforts here. Do you understand that?”
“Perfectly,” I said.
Murphy popped in so promptly after that that he must have been waiting in the wings for his cue. Almost as if in contrast to Arnold who was a lean crusty Yankee aristocrat, Murphy turned out to be a stocky man with smooth black hair, fashionable sideburns, and a plump friendly face.
“I’ve just been explaining to Mr.” – Arnold looked down and read my name off the card the receptionist had sent up – “the limits on the assistance we can afford him.”
“Sure,” Murphy said. He shook my hand. “Why don’t I take you down to my office,” he said, “and fill you in there on what I know about Johns?”
“Fine with me.” I said goodbye to Arnold, who nodded formally in return and went back to his work.
“Friendly type,” I said to Murphy as we walked down the corridor to his office.
“Who? Arnold?” Murphy said. “Oh, he’s not so bad. He just grew up under Sumner Welles, and he still believes gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail.”
“And you?” I probed.
Murphy grinned. “Me?” he said. “I’m a security man. Every time I see an envelope my fingers start to itch.” He opened a door and waved me into his office. It was smaller than Arnold’s and more cluttered.
Murphy took off his jacket and hung it carelessly over the peg of a standing coat rack. “All right,” he said, sitting down at his desk and loosening his collar, “What can I tell you that you don’t already know?”
I sat down opposite him. “You might start with what really happened to Johns,” I said.
Murphy pulled a wry face and shrugged slightly. “You read the official report,” he said. “That just about sums up all we know. We got a phone call from the local police – the regular police, not the secret – that there’d been an accident involving one of our citizens. When we go there, it turned out to be Johns.” He shrugged again. “None of us who were in on who Johns really was believed it was an accident, of course. But there were no survivors or witnesses and a blank wall of Communist official silence that we couldn’t have gotten around even if Arnold had been inclined to let us try.”
I nodded understandingly. “What was Johns working on at the time?” I said.
Murphy grinned ruefully and shook his head. “I haven’t the foggiest notion,” he said. “I know Arnold told you I was Johns’s liaison, but that’s only a fancy way of saying I was his mailbox. Whenever Johns had anything to transmit, he’d drop it off with me to put in the diplomatic pouch. Arnold didn’t like it, but he had his orders.”
I nodded again. It wasn’t an unusual arrangement. The Communists knew we did it, of course. Just as we knew their pouches leaving Western capitals contained the same kind of packages. But long tradition made the pouches inviolable, and since it suited the purposes of both sides, I supposed that they would remain so – at least, for the time being anyway.
“Still,” I persisted, “you were Johns’s only official contact and an old security man to boot. You must have been curious.”
“Sure,” Murphy said, still grinning. “But never to the point of trying to satisfy that curiosity. The messages were sealed when I got them. I just added my own seal as a double safeguard and left it at that. It kept Arnold off my back and to tell you the truth I think I was happier not knowing. The things you cloak-and-dagger boys get up to are enough to give anybody the willies.”
“And Johns never said anything that would give you a clue?”
“Never a word,” Murphy said. “Oh, we talked, of course, but mostly about going back to America and things like that.” Murphy’s grin grew lopsided. “He was due to leave in another three months, you know.”
I sighed. “Yes, I know.” I stood up. “Well, I thank you for your time. And I’ll be in touch.”
Murphy nodded. “Where to now?” he said.
I winked at him. “You’ll be happier not knowing,” I said.
Actually, I’d done enough for one day, I felt. Particularly since I was supposed to be combining pleasure with business. So I went back to my hotel and slept the sleep of the just. There was a microphone concealed behind the headboard of my bed, but all it picked up were my snores.
* * *
I was followed as soon as I left the hotel the next morning.
I had decided to walk, partly because it was a nice day and partly because when I’d been here before, the cab drivers had been required to report the destinations of all foreign passengers to the secret police. And I wasn’t sure they didn’t still. It hadn’t mattered about the Embassy, but I definitely didn’t want to risk drawing attention to any of the other places I had to visit.
In any case, I hadn’t gone two blocks when I spotted my tail. He was a nondescript little man as all good tails should be. The only thing that gave him away was that he was working too hard at keeping the distance between us constant. I wondered if he was alone or part of a team.
To find out I rounded the next corner and stopped almost immediately to look in a store window. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my little man saunter across the street and another man equally nondescript move up into his place. That meant there were at least three of them – two in line behind me and one across the street. The technique of changing places at corners was supposed to keep me from catching on. And it worked very well with amateurs, but to a pro – especially a suspicious one – the unvarying ritual was as obvious a sign as a light in a window.
The big question, though, was how to get rid of them.
The first thing, of course, was not to let them realize I had caught on. So I stopped checking on them. They weren’t going to lose me and I had nothing to gain by trying to pick out the third man. So I just kept on walking, stopping at occasional windows and turning enough corners at random to keep them guessing about the direction I was actually headed in.
Finally, I spotted what I wanted – a cab discharging a passenger. I hopped in before anybody could say boo.
“Airport,” I said to the driver.
He had opened his mouth to protest. But at the thought of that juicy fare he shrugged and set his meter. And off we went.
As I’d hoped, my tails didn’t have motor transport available. Not that it really mattered. After all, they had the cab’s number and the cab had a radio, didn’t it?
We’d gone about six blocks when the radio crackled and the driver held a short dialogue with it. It was in a dialect I wasn’t familiar with, but then I didn’t have to know it to be pretty sure he was passing on our destination to his dispatcher. I smiled to myself and settled back on the seat.
I waited another two blocks then began patting my pockets and making pantomime signs of panic. “Cigarettes,” I said. “I’m out of cigarettes.” I leaned forward and pointed to get the driver’s attention. “Hey, look,” I said, “stop at that shop up ahead and let me run in and get some.”
The driver gave me an exasperated look, “I can’t stop in this traffic,” he said.
Of course he couldn’t. That was the whole point. “Well, don’t stop then,” I said. “Drive around the block and pick me up on the way back.”
The driver’s face turned suspicious. So I took the universal persuader - $10 US – from my wallet and dropped it on the seat beside him.
“If you’re worried about the fare,” I said, “that’ll more than cover it.”
Reassured, he pulled over to the curb and let me out.
Of course, by the time he got back I was long gone. The only problem was that now my tails would realize that I’d gone to a lot of trouble to shake them. They’d wonder why and that wouldn’t make things any easier if I had to deal with them in the future.
* * *
The girl in the florist’s shop was small and dark and not really pretty – not in the conventional sense anyway. But she carried herself with such regal grace and self-possession that you were willing to overlook that. Her name was Anna Cappron and she had been one of John’s network.
“May I help you?” she said.
“I’m here to buy some flowers for a friend,” I said.
Her eyes flickered slightly and she moved to a display. “Roses are for friends,” she said, touching one lightly with her hand.
“White roses,” I said, feeling slightly ridiculous as I always did when I went through these rituals, “not red.”
Anna Cappron nodded. “In the back,” she said, lowering her voice despite the fact that we were alone in the shop.
I went through a curtained doorway at the rear of the shop into a smaller room furnished half as an office, half as living quarters. There were a few feminine touches that tried bravely to dress it up, but all in all it was a pretty grim place to spend a life. I sat down in the only chair, facing the doorway.
A few moments later Anna Cappron came in, brushed aside the slightest movement I made in the direction of rising, and perched on the edge of the office desk. She had extremely nice legs, I decided, wondering if she had sat there deliberately to call my attention to them.
“Do you have instructions for me?” she said.
“None at the moment,” I said. “They just sent me in to find out why Johns was killed,” I paused and looked up at her. “Any ideas?”
She shook her head silently. Her face was set and controlled, deliberately expressionless.
“What was he working on at the time he was killed?” I said.
Anna’s face didn’t change but her eyes grew suspicious. “Your people got his reports,” she said. “You should know.”
I nodded. “I’m talking about the report he didn’t get to make,” I said.
She relaxed somewhat. “We hadn’t made contact to pass information for almost two weeks before he was killed,” she said. “The only report I had then concerned cabinet reactions to our premier’s maneuverings to loosen the Russian grip on our country. Nothing startling and certainly not the sort of thing they’d kill for to keep secret.”
“Something from one of his other agents then,” I said, half to myself.
Anna shook her head vigorously. “Not possible,” she said. “There were five agents in the network besides myself: Karl, Georg, Franz, Lilo, and Michael. None of them knew Johns. They all reported to me and I passed it on to him to protect his cover.”
“I see,” I said. I pulled my mouth to one side ruefully. “That means it had to be something he found out himself and didn’t tell anybody about. Which complicates things enormously.” Understatement of the year. It made my job impossible.
Anna Cappron started to say something, then caught herself and held back.
“Go ahead,” I said. “Say it.”
She looked away. “Nothing,” she said.
“Let me decide whether it’s nothing or not,” I said.
She threw back her head and set her chin defiantly. “I would have known if he’d had any information,” she said. “He would have told me and we would have worked on it together.”
I looked at her closely. She sounded very positive. I wondered what gave her that confidence. “Maybe,” I said slowly, an idea forming in my mind. “But you hadn’t seen him for two weeks before he died. He could have learned a lot in two weeks.”
Anna’s eyes dropped. “That’s not quite true,” she said. “I said we hadn’t made contact to pass on information. And we hadn’t, because I had nothing to pass on. But” – her voice faltered – “we did see each other. We saw each other regularly.” She brushed at her eyes with one hand. “We were in love,” she said simply. “He was going to take me out with him when he went back to America.”
I sighed. It was what I’d suspected. “When was the last time you saw Johns, Anna?” I said.
“The night he was killed,” she said. “They must have caught him shortly after he left me.”
“And he said nothing that evening that would indicate he was on to something important?”
“How did he seem? Nervous? Excited?”
She shook her head. “No. Very relaxed and happy. In fact, if anything he was more relaxed and happy that evening than he had been for a long time.”
“I see,” I said, and stood up. “If you think of anything else that might help, get in touch with me the same way you made contact with Johns. I’ll be around the next couple of weeks anyway. Perhaps longer.” I smiled at her. “Okay?”
She nodded and tried to smile back, but somewhere along the way it broke down.
I put my hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry,” I said.
She shied away from my touch and pulled herself together. “I’ll show you out,” she said. Her face wore the same regal mask it had when I’d first entered the shop.
At the door she said, “I’ll be getting reports from the agents. Do I pass them on to you?”
“Yes, for the time being,” I said. “I’ll let you know when a permanent replacement arrives.”
She nodded and unlocked the door for me to leave.
* * *
After the flower shop the sun felt good on my face and hands, and I walked along enjoying it. The first warning I had that everything wasn’t all right came from the sudden panic on the face of the pedestrian approaching me. I swung around, back to the building, but it was already too late. The car had swerved up on the sidewalk, door already swinging open to block me off and pin me between car and wall.
A balding man with a thin scholarly face and mild eyes behind rimless glasses leaned toward me from the driver’s side. “Get in,” he said. He was smiling, but the gun in his hand wasn’t. I got in.
The door scraped against the wall as she stared off. “Close that thing,” he said with a show of irritation.
I leaned out, caught the door handle, and debated briefly whether I could risk diving out. But out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of the mild-eyed man watching me. He seemed amused. I pulled the door shut.
“Very good,” he said approvingly. “That’s the decision I would expect a professional to make. And I must say you’ve behaved most professionally since coming to our country. I did expect you at the flower shop sooner, though,” he added almost as an afterthought.
“What flower shop?” I said.
His eyes mocked me. “The one you just left,” he said. “Where no doubt you bought some flowers for a friend. White roses, to be precise.”
I looked at him with interest. “Who are you anyway?” I said.
He stopped laughing and concentrated on his driving. “I won’t bore you with my real name,” he said, “any more than I’ll ask you yours. But Johns knew me as Georg.” His eyes flicked back to me briefly. “I was one of his agents.”
“Now that’s interesting,” I said. “Because the girl said she was the only one who knew Johns.”
“That’s the way it was supposed to work,” Georg said. “But six months ago Johns was blown to the secret police. As soon as I found out, I made my own contact with him.”
“I see,” I said. “And just how did you find out, Georg?”
He was amused again. “Didn’t the girl tell you?” he said. “Ah, but then all she knows is my cover in the Ministry of Finance.” His smile broadened. “I’m a major in the secret police,” he said. “I pick up a lot of useful information that way.”
“And use it to play both ends against the middle.”
Georg shrugged. “You can call it that if you like,” he said. “Personally, I prefer to think that I’m merely hedging my bets. Something every careful gambler does.”
“Sure,” I said. I twisted on the seat so that I could watch Georg more closely. “If the secret police were on to Johns six months ago,” I said, “why didn’t they stop him then?”
“For the same reason they haven’t stopped you,” Georg said. “They knew who he was. Stop him and somebody new and unknown would take his place. But even more important, they knew what he was doing and what information he’d picked up.” George paused, then added vehemently, “Somebody was leaking everything that went into Johns’s reports.”
I asked the obvious question. “Who?” I said.
Georg shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. “Nobody below the very top level does and they aren’t talking.” He shot a quick glance at me and added hastily, “At least not to a lowly major.” Which was a pretty good indication that he’d lied about his rank. But I’d expected that anyway. Nobody in Georg’s position would throw out details that might give away his true identity. “That’s why I made contact with Johns. It was risky, but not as risky as letting one of my superiors begin to realize that some of Johns’s information had to come from within the organization. I hadn’t had any luck in uncovering the leak, but I figured Johns just might from his end.” He grimaced. “And it looks like he might have too – not that it did any of us any good,” he added.
“No,” I said. We rode in silence a while. Then I said, “Why did you take that risk, Georg? Why didn’t you go through Anna Cappron the way you usually did?”
Sunlight glittered on Georg’s glasses. “Because Anna Cappron was the only one I know who had access to all the information Johns received,” he said. When I didn’t respond, he added after a moment, “But then you don’t believe that about her, do you?”
“No,” I said. “But then I don’t not believe it either.”
* * *
I had Georg drop me off some six blocks from the American Embassy, because I was sure my tails would be watching for me there as well as at the hotel.
“Our people,” he said with something like pride in his voice when I told him about them. “We were on to you as soon as you arrived in the country.”
“Interesting,” I said. “Now how do I get in touch with you if I want you?”
Georg shook his head. “You don’t,” he said. “I’ll get in touch with you.”
“All right,” I said. “But make it something less drastic than hauling me off the street at the point of a gun.”
Georg smiled briefly. “I regretted the necessity. But you understand that I had no time to waste on explanations and yet I had to be sure you’d get in. Next time” – he paused as if in thought – “a message to your hotel room. Misdirected, of course. For Miss White. Miss Rose White.
He was still laughing at his own joke when I got out of the car. I watched him drive off. Then I walked the rest of the way to the Embassy, thinking my own thoughts. And not particularly liking them.
Murphy was in his shirt sleeves behind his cluttered desk, just as I had left him the day before. “Well,” he said, flipping the cover of a manila folder closed and shoving it to one side as I came in. “I didn’t expect to see you again so soon.”
“I’m a fast worker,” I said drily. “I have to be to keep ahead of my competition.” I dropped into the same chair I’d used before. “I was followed when I left the hotel this morning.”
Murphy raised his eyebrows and whistled soundlessly. “Now isn’t that something,” he said. He leaned back in his chair and regarded me thoughtfully. “You want us to help you get out of the country before they pick you up?”
“It may come to that,” I said. “But right now I want to find out more about the diplomatic pouch.”
“The pouch?” Murphy shrugged. “There’s not much to tell,” he said. “It’s made up in the Administrative Section and sent out once a week by courier. Oftener if there’s a need.”
“I see,” I said. “And everyone in the Embassy has access to it?”
“No,” Murphy said, dragging the word out. “In fact, if anything, we’re stricter than your usual garden-variety Embassy on that score. It’s pretty much taken for granted here that all the local help – maintenance people and the like – are reporting to some intelligence organization or the other.” He grinned suddenly. “Even Arnold goes along with that. No Communist could be a gentleman, of course.” When I didn’t smile back, he shrugged and pulled a face at me. “In any case,” he went on, “besides the Ambassador, Arnold, and myself, the only person who has direct access to the pouch is the officer in Administration who makes it up. We’re pretty liberal about what goes in, of course. But anybody who has anything to put in passes it through him.
“Including Johns’s reports?” I said.
Murphy shook his head. “No,” he said. “Those I put in myself just before the pouch was sealed. Before that they were kept in my safe.” He swiveled around to kick at a squat iron box against the wall behind his desk. “And believe me, nobody gets into this baby unless I’m here to help them with the combination.”
I believed him; I’d seen safes like that before. I’d even tried to break into some. “What would be the possibility of the pouch’s being opened and resealed?”
“Without our knowing about it?” Murphy shook his head again. “My first offhand inclination is to say it’s impossible. Except that as a security officer I know that nothing is impossible when you really set your mind on it. Even so, I’d say the most anybody could do it would be once or twice. If it got to be a routine thing, they’d be sure to notice on the other end that the seals had been tampered with.”
“Perhaps,” I said.
“Yeah,” Murphy said. He leaned forward and put his elbows on the desk. “Why all the questions about the pouch anyway? And don’t tell me I’d be happier not knowing. You’ve been hitting pretty close to questions of Embassy security and that’s my bag, not yours.”
He had a point, of course, and I had no choice but to confide in him if I wanted his continued cooperation. So I told him about Anna Cappron and Georg. Not everything, of course. Like Georg earlier, I identified them only by code names and blurred any details that might betray their true identities. When you’ve been at this game long enough, ingrained habit makes you cautious.
When I finished, Murphy whistled his silent whistle again. “Now isn’t that something?” he said. “A traitor in Johns’s network.” He cupped his chin in his hand and rubbed his fingers along the side of his jaw. “It has to be the girl,” he said at last.
“If we can believe Georg,” I said.
“Why should he lie?” Murphy said.
I shrugged. “With a man like Georg, who knows?” I said. “For that matter, though, why should the girl betray Johns? She was in love with him.”
Murphy smiled ruefully. “Oldest motive in the world,” he said. “Spurned love. I told you earlier that Johns talked to me a lot about what he planned to do when he got back to the United States. And believe me, nothing he said indicated it was going to be anything but single blessedness.” He shrugged and cocked his head briefly to one side. “The girl found out and goodbye Johns.”
“Could be,” I said. “Let’s find out for sure.”
Murphy was interested. “How?” he said.
“Well,” I said, “if she is the leak she’ll pass on anything I tell her to her superiors and in turn it will filter down to Georg. So why don’t I give her some deliberately false information? Like, for instance, the name of Johns’s replacement.”
Murphy grinned. “Who’d you have in mind for the fall guy? You or me?”
“Neither of us,” I said. “Who’s the newest member of the Embassy staff?”
“A commercial officer named Caldwell,” Murphy said. “But it seems kind of a rotten trick to put the secret police on to him.”
“Not really,” I said. “For a while he won’t be able to go to the bathroom without somebody reporting it. But the secret police here are pros. It won’t take them long to find out he’s only what he claims to be and they’ll drop him. And,” I added, shrugging, “if it turns out the girl isn’t the leak, they’ll never hear about him at all. In which case, I’ll just have to keep digging.”
Murphy looked thoughtful. “Yes,” he said. He slapped his hand down on the flat of his desk. “All right,” he said.
* * *
I spent the next two weeks devoting myself to the pleasure part of my trip. I’m not much of a mountain man, but the local beaches were almost everything that Intourist had claimed them to be. I was followed everywhere, of course, and was more than a little suspicious of some of the ladies I met. But that’s the way it is in my job, and you soon learn to make the best of it.
And then the message for Rose White came. I was more than a little disappointed. I’d begun to hope I was wrong.
I left the hotel as usual the next morning with the usual nondescript little man on my tail. But ten minutes of twisting and turning through the downtown traffic shook him off. Two weeks of following me to the beaches and to what passed for nightlife hereabouts had made them a mite careless.
But not that careless. I took it for granted that someone I hadn’t spotted and wasn’t likely to was still trailing me.
It really didn’t make any difference. I found a bench in the park in the main square and spent an hour feeding pigeons, then went back to my hotel.
Once inside my room I bolted the door and went silently about my work. The message was taped to the headboard of my bed right next to the microphone. While I had led my watchers on a wild goose chase, Georg had slipped in as we had arranged and put it there. I read it once, then burned it.
It was short and easy to remember: “Word is that Johns’s replacement is named Caldwell. Cover – commercial attaché at Embassy.”
* * *
If anything, Arnold’s eyes were even unfriendlier than on our first meeting. “I believe,” he said, biting the words off short, “that I specifically warned you that I would not tolerate anything that would embarrass the Embassy and yet you deliberately spread word around that an Embassy employee – a career foreign-service officer – is really a spy for the CIA.”
Murphy mopped his brow. We were in Arnold’s office – a warm room and getting warmer. “Well, yes,” he said. “But no real harm was done and we did catch a spy. A spy who was a murderer as well.”
“That’s right,” I put it mildly.
Arnold’s eyes swiveled to me. “No harm was done, was it?” he said bitterly. “Don’t you realize that now the whole Embassy staff is compromised?”
I met his gaze evenly, “I’m afraid the Embassy was already compromised,” I said. “The girl isn’t the leak, Murphy is.”
I smiled slightly and turned toward Murphy. “I was pretty sure it wasn’t the girl all along. Because I was followed by the secret police when I left the hotel to meet her. She couldn’t have put them on to me because she still didn’t know about me. Only you and Arnold knew.”
I sensed rather than saw Arnold stiffen. “I didn’t discount Arnold entirely,” I went on, “but you were the one who had access to Johns’s reports. So I set up a little test – and you failed it Murphy.
“The girl didn’t tell anyone that Caldwell was Johns’s replacement. Again, she couldn’t have. I never mentioned Caldwell to her. I told only you that I was going to. So you had to be the one who leaked it to the Communists.
“Just as you leaked Johns’s reports to them. Johns found you out. That’s why he was happier that last night with the girl; he no longer suspected her. The trouble is, he played it too close to the chest and you had him killed before he could expose you.”
I shook my head. “That’s a mistake I’m not going to make. That’s why Arnold is here and that’s why there are a couple of Marine guards outside that door.
Murphy didn’t move, but his eyes were full of hate.
I let the smile broaden and turn rueful. “Don’t take it so hard, Murphy,” I said. “You’re an old security man. You ought to know you can’t trust anybody.”