Hermia slept badly. She had a dream in which she was talking to a Danish policeman. The conversation was amiable, though she was anxious not to give herself away; but she realized, after a while, that they were speaking English. The man continued to talk as if nothing had happened, while she trembled and waited for him to arrest her.
She woke up to find herself on a narrow bed in a lodging house on the island of Bornholm. She was relieved to find that the conversation with the policeman had been a dream - but there was nothing unreal about the danger that faced her now that she had woken up. She was in occupied territory, carrying forged papers, pretending to be a secretary on vacation, and if she were found out, she would be hanged as a spy.
Back in Stockholm, she and Digby had again deceived their German followers with substitutes, and having shaken them off had taken a train to the south coast. In the tiny fishing village of Kalvsby they had found a boatman willing to take her across the twenty miles or so of sea to Bornholm. She had said goodbye to Digby - who could not possibly pass for Danish - and climbed aboard. He was going to London for a day to report to Churchill, but he would fly back immediately and be waiting for her on the jetty in Kalvsby when she returned - if she returned.
The fisherman had put her ashore, with her bicycle, on a lonely beach at dawn yesterday. The man had promised to return to the same spot four days later at the same hour. To make sure of him, Hermia had promised him double the fee for the return journey back.
She had cycled to Hammershus, the ruined castle that was her rendezvous with Arne, and had waited there for him all day. He had not come.
She told herself not to be surprised. Arne had been working the previous day, and she guessed he had not been able to get away early enough to catch the evening ferry. He had probably taken the Saturday morning boat and arrived on Bornholm too late to reach Hammershus before dark. In those circumstances, he would find somewhere to spend the night, and come to the rendezvous first thing in the morning.
That was what she believed in her more cheerful moments. But at the back of her mind was the constant thought that he might have been arrested. It was useless to ask herself what he could have been arrested for, or to argue that he had not yet committed a crime, for that only led her to imagine fanciful scenarios in which he confided in a treacherous friend, or wrote everything in a diary, or confessed to a priest.
Late in the day, she had given up on Arne and cycled to the nearest village. In summer many of the islanders offered bed and breakfast to tourists, and she found a place to stay without difficulty. She fell into bed anxious and hungry, and had bad dreams.
Getting dressed, she recalled the holiday she and Arne had spent on this island, registering at their hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Olufsen. That was when she had felt most intimate with him. He loved to gamble, and he would make bets with her for sexual favors: "If the red boat gets into harbor first, you have to go around with no panties all day tomorrow, and if the blue boat wins, you can be on top tonight." You can have anything you want, my love, she thought, if you just show up today.
She decided to have breakfast this morning before cycling back to Hammershus. She might be waiting all day again, and she did not want to faint from hunger. She dressed in the cheap new clothes she had bought in Stockholm - English clothes might have given her away - and went downstairs.
She felt nervous as she walked into the family dining room. It was more than a year since she had been in the habit of speaking Danish daily. After landing yesterday she had had only a few brief exchanges of words. Now she would have to make small talk.
There was one other guest in the room, a middle-aged man with a friendly smile who said, "Good morning. I'm Sven Fromer."
Hermia forced herself to relax. "Agnes Ricks," she said, using the name on her false papers. "It's a beautiful day." She had nothing to fear, she told herself. She spoke Danish with the accent of the metropolitan bourgeoisie, and Danes never knew she was English until she told them. She helped herself to porridge, poured cold milk over it, and began to eat. The tension she felt made it difficult for her to swallow.
Sven smiled at her and said, "English style."
She stared at him, appalled. How had he found her out so fast? "What do you mean?"
"The way you eat porridge."
He had his milk in a glass, and took sips from it between mouthfuls of porridge. That was how Danes ate porridge, she knew perfectly well. She cursed her carelessness and tried to bluff it out. "I prefer it this way," she said as casually as she could. "The milk cools the porridge and you can eat it faster."
"A girl in a hurry. Where are you from?"
Hermia did not want to get into a conversation about exactly where in Copenhagen they both lived. That could too easily lead her into more errors. Her safest plan would be to ask him questions. She had never met a man who did not like to talk about himself. "Are you on holiday?"
"Unfortunately not. I'm a surveyor, working for the government. However, the job is done, and I don't have to be home until tomorrow, so I'm going to spend today driving around, and catch the overnight ferry this evening."
"You have a car?"
"I need one for my work."
The landlady brought bacon and black bread. When she had left the room, Sven said, "If you're on your own, I'd be happy to take you around."
"I'm engaged to be married," Hermia said firmly.
He smiled ruefully. "Your fiance is a lucky man. I'd still be glad of your company."
"Please don't be offended, but I want to be alone."
"I quite understand. I hope you don't mind my asking."
She gave him her most charming smile. "On the contrary, I'm flattered."
He poured himself another cup of ersatz coffe, and seemed inclined to linger. Hermia began to relax. So far she had aroused no suspicion.
Another guest came in, a man of about Hermia's age, neatly dressed in a suit. He bowed stiffly to them and spoke Danish with a German accent. "Good morning. I am Helmut Mueller."
Hermia's heart raced. "Good morning," she said. "Agnes Ricks."
Mueller turned expectantly to Sven, who stood up, pointedly ignoring the newcomer, and stalked out of the room.
Mueller sat down, looking hurt. "Thank you for your courtesy," he said to Hermia.
Hermia tried to behave normally. She pressed her hands together to stop their shaking. "Where are you from, Herr Mueller?"
"I was born in Luebeck."
She asked herself what a friendly Dane might say to a German by way of small talk. "You speak our language well."
"When I was a boy, my family came often here to Bornholm for holidays."
He was not suspicious, Hermia saw, and she felt emboldened to ask a less superficial question. "Tell me, do many people refuse to speak to you?"
"Such rudeness as our fellow guest has just displayed is unusual. In the present circumstances, Germans and Danes have to live together, and most Danes are polite." He gave her a look of curiosity. "But you must have observed this - unless you have from another country recently arrived."
She realized she had made another slip. "No, no," she said hastily, covering up. "I'm from Copenhagen where, as you say, we live together as best we can. I just wondered if things were different here on Bornholm."
"No, much the same."
All conversation was dangerous, she realized. She stood up. "Well, I hope you enjoy your breakfast."
"And have a pleasant day here in our country."
"I wish you the same."
She left the room, wondering if she had been too nice. Overfriendliness might arouse suspicion as easily as hostility. But he had shown no sign of mistrust.
As she was leaving on her bicycle, she saw Sven putting his luggage in his car. It was a slope-backed Volvo PV444, a popular Swedish car often seen in Denmark. She saw that the rear seat had been removed to make room for his equipment, tripods and a theodolite and other gear, some in an assortment of leather cases, some wrapped in blankets for protection. "I apologize for creating a scene," he said. "I didn't wish to be rude to you."
"That's all right." She could see that he was still angry. "You obviously feel strongly."
"I come from a military family. It's difficult for me to accept that we surrendered so quickly. I believe we should have fought. We should be fighting now!" He made a gesture of frustration, as if throwing something away. "I shouldn't speak this way. I'm embarrassing you."
She touched his arm. "You have nothing to apologize for."
She rode off.
Churchill was pacing the croquet lawn at Chequers, the official country residence of the British Prime Minister. He was writing a speech in his head: Digby knew the signs. His weekend guests were the American ambassador, John Winant, and the foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, with their wives; but none of them were to be seen. Digby sensed there was some crisis, but no one had told him what. Churchill's private secretary, Mr. Colville, gestured toward the brooding premier. Digby approached Churchill across the smooth grass.
The Prime Minister lifted his bent head. "Ah, Hoare," he said. He stopped walking. "Hitler has invaded the Soviet Union."
"Christ!" said Digby Hoare. He wanted to sit down but there were no chairs. "Christ!" he repeated. Yesterday, Hitler and Stalin had been allies, their friendship cemented by the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939. Today they were at war. "When did that happen?"
"This morning," Churchill said grimly. "General Dill has just been here to give me the details." Sir John Dill was Chief of the Imperial General Staff, therefore the most senior man in the military. "Early intelligence estimates put the size of the invading army at three million men."
"They have attacked along a two-thousand-mile front. There is a northern group heading for Leningrad, a central one making for Moscow, and a southern force on its way to the Ukraine."
Digby was dazed. "Oh, my God. Is this the end, sir?"
Churchill drew on his cigar. "It may be. Most people believe the Russians can't win. They will be slow to mobilize. With heavy air support from the Luftwaffe, Hitler's tanks could wipe out the Red Army in a few weeks."
Digby had never seen his boss look so defeated. In the face of bad news Churchill normally became even more pugnacious, always wanting to respond to defeat by going on the attack. But today he looked worn down. "Is there any hope?" Digby asked.
"Yes. If the Reds can survive until the end of summer, it may be a different story. The Russian winter defeated Napoleon and it might yet undo Hitler. The next three or four months will be decisive."
"What are you going to do?"
"I shall go on the BBC tonight at nine."
"And say . . . ?"
"That we must give whatever help we can to Russia and the Russian people."
Digby raised his eyebrows. "A hard thing for a passionate anticommunist to propose."
"My dear Hoare, if Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons."
Digby smiled, wondering whether that line was being considered for inclusion in tonight's speech. "But is there any help we can give?"
"Stalin has asked me to step up the bombing campaign against Germany. He hopes it will force Hitler to bring aircraft home to defend the fatherland. That would weaken the invading army and might give the Russians an even chance."
"Are you going to do it?"
"I have no choice. I've ordered a bombing raid for the next full moon. It will be the largest air operation of the war so far, which means the largest in the history of mankind. There will be more than five hundred bombers, over half our entire strength."
Digby wondered if his brother would be on the raid. "But if they suffer the kind of losses we've been experiencing . . ."
"We will be crippled. That's why I've called you in. Do you have an answer for me?"
"Yesterday I infiltrated an agent into Denmark. Her orders are to get photographs of the radar installation on Sande. That will answer the question."
"It had better. The bombing raid is scheduled in sixteen days' time. When do you hope to have the photographs in your hands?"
"Within a week."
"Good," Churchill said dismissively.
"Thank you, Prime Minister." Digby turned away.
"Don't fail me," said Churchill.
Hammershus was on the northern tip of Bornholm. The castle stood on a hill that looked across the sea to Sweden, and had once guarded the island against invasion by its neighbor. Hermia wheeled her bicycle along the winding path up the rocky slopes, wondering if today would be as fruitless as yesterday. The sun was shining, and she was warm from the effort of cycling.
The castle had been built of mixed brick and stone. Solitary walls remained, their features forlornly suggestive of family life: large sooty fireplaces exposed to the sky, cold stone cellars for storing apples and ale, broken staircases that led nowhere, narrow windows through which thoughtful children must once have stared at the sea.
Hermia was early, and the place was deserted. Judging by yesterday's experience, she would have it to herself for another hour or more. What would it be like if Arne did turn up today, she wondered as she pushed her bike through ruined archways and across grass-grown floors.
In Copenhagen before the invasion she and Arne had been a glamorous couple, the center of a social set of young officers and pretty girls with government connections, always having parties and picnics, going dancing and playing sports, sailing and riding horses and driving to the beach. Now that those days were over, would she seem to Arne like part of his past? On the phone, he had said he still loved her - but he had not seen her for more than a year. Would he find her the same, or changed? Would he still like the smell of her hair and the taste of her mouth? She began to feel nervous.
She had spent all day yesterday looking at the ruins, and they held no more interest for her. She walked to the seaward side, leaned her bike against a low stone wall, and looked down at the beach far below.
A familiar voice said, "Hello, Hermia."
She whirled around and saw Arne walking toward her, smiling, his arms spread wide. He had been waiting behind a tower. Her nervousness vanished. She ran into his arms and hugged him hard enough to hurt.
"What's the matter?" he said. "Why are you weeping?"
She realized she was crying, her chest heaving with sobs, tears running down her face. "I'm so happy," she said.
He kissed her wet cheeks. She held his face in both hands, feeling his bones with her fingertips to prove to herself that he was real, this was not one of the imaginary reunion scenes she had dreamed so often. She nuzzled his neck, breathing in the smell of him, army soap and brilliantine and airplane fuel. There were no smells in her dreams.
She was overwhelmed by emotion, but the feeling slowly changed from excitement and happiness to something else. Their tender kisses turned searching and hungry, their gentle caresses became urgently demanding. When her knees felt weak, she sank to the grass, pulling him down with her. She licked his neck, sucked his lip, and bit his earlobe. His erection pressed against her thigh. She fumbled with the buttons of his uniform trousers, opening the fly so that she could feel him properly. He pushed up the skirt of her dress and slid his hand beneath the elastic of her underwear. She suffered a moment of coy embarrassment at how wet she was, then it was forgotten in a wave of pleasure. Impatiently, she broke the embrace long enough to take off her panties and throw them aside, then pulled him on top of her. It occurred to her that they were in full view of any early tourists coming to see the ruins, but she did not care. She knew that later, when the madness had left her, she would shudder with horror at the risk she had taken, but she could not hold back. She gasped as he entered her, then clung to him with her arms and legs, pressing his belly to hers, his chest to her breasts, his face into her neck, insatiably hungry for the touch of his body. Then that, too, passed as she focused on a node of intense pleasure that began small and hot, like a distant star, and grew steadily, seeming to possess more and more of her body, until it exploded.
They lay still for a while. She enjoyed the weight of his body on her, the breathless feeling it gave her, his slow detumescence. Then a shadow fell on them. It was only a cloud passing over the sun, but it reminded her that the ruins were open to the public, and someone could come along at any time. "Are we still alone?" she murmured.
He lifted his head and looked around. "Yes."
"We'd better get up before the tourists arrive."
She grabbed him as he pulled away. "One more kiss."
He kissed her softly, then stood up.
She found her underpants and pulled them on quickly, then stood up and brushed grass off her dress. Now that she was decent, the sense of urgency left her, and all the muscles of her body felt pleasantly lassitudinous, as they sometimes did when she lay in bed on Sunday morning, dozing and listening to church bells.
She leaned on the wall, looking at the sea, and Arne put his arm around her. It was hard to wrench her mind back to war, deception, and secrecy.
"I'm working for British Intelligence," she said abruptly.
He nodded. "I was afraid of that."
"It means you're in even more danger than if you had come here just to see me."
She was pleased that his first thought was of the peril to her. He really did love her. But she brought trouble. "Now you're at risk, too, just because you're with me."
"You'd better explain."
She sat on the wall and gathered her thoughts. She had failed to think of a censored version of the story that included only what he absolutely had to know. No matter how she chopped it up, half the truth made no sense, so she had to tell him everything. She was going to ask him to risk his life, and he needed to know why.
She told him about the Nightwatchmen, the arrests at Kastrup aerodrome, the devastating rate of bomber losses, the radar installation on his home island of Sande, the himmelbett clue, and the involvement of Poul Kirke. As she talked, his face changed. The merriment went from his eyes, and his perennial smile was replaced by a look of anxiety. She wondered whether he would accept the mission.
If he were a coward, surely he would not have chosen to fly the flimsy wood-and-linen machines of the Army Aviation Troops? On the other hand, being a pilot was part of his dashing image. And he often put pleasure before work. It was one of the reasons she loved him: she was too serious, and he made her enjoy herself. Which was the real Arne - the hedonist or the airman? Until now he had never been put to the test.
"I've come to ask you to do what Poul would have done, if he had lived: go to Sande, get into the base, and examine the radar installation."
Arne nodded, looking solemn.
"We need photographs, good ones." She leaned across to her bicycle, opened the saddlebag, and took out a small 35mm camera, a German-made Leica IIIa. She had considered a miniature Minox Riga, which was easier to conceal, but in the end had preferred the precision of the Leica's lens. "This is probably the most important job you'll ever be asked to do. When we understand their radar system, we will be able to devise ways to defeat it, and that will save the lives of thousands of airmen."
"I can see that."
"But if you're caught, you'll be executed - shot or hanged - for spying." She held out the camera.
She half wanted him to refuse the mission, for she could hardly bear the thought of the danger he would be in if he accepted. But, if he refused, could she ever respect him?
He did not take the camera. "Poul was the head of your Nightwatchmen."
"I suppose most of our friends were in it."
"Better that you don't know - "
"Just about everyone except me."
She nodded. She feared what was coming.
"You think I'm a coward."
"It didn't seem like your kind of thing - "
"Because I like parties, and I make jokes, and flirt with girls, you thought I didn't have the guts for secret work." She said nothing, but he was insistent. "Answer me."
She nodded miserably.
"In that case, I'll have to prove you wrong." He took the camera.
She did not know whether to be happy or sad. "Thank you," she said, fighting back tears. "You'll be careful, won't you?"
"Yes. But there's a problem. I was followed to Bornholm."
"Oh, hell." This was something she had not anticipated. "Are you sure?"
"Yes. I noticed a couple of people hanging around the base, a man and a young woman. She was on the train to Copenhagen with me, then he was on the ferry. When I got here, he followed me on a bicycle, and there was a car behind. I shook them off a few miles outside Ronne."
"They must suspect you of working with Poul."
"Ironically, as I wasn't."
"Who do you think they are?"
"Danish police, acting under orders from the Germans."
"Now that you've given them the slip, they undoubtedly feel sure you're guilty. They must still be looking for you."
"They can't search every house in Bornholm."
"No, but they'll have people watching the ferry port and the aerodrome."
"I hadn't thought of that. So how am I going to get back to Copenhagen?"
He was not yet thinking like a spy, Hermia noted. "We'll have to smuggle you onto the ferry somehow."
"And then where would I go? I can't return to the flying school - it's the first place they'll look."
"You'll have to stay with Jens Toksvig."
Arne's face darkened. "So he's one of the Nightwatchmen."
"Yes. His address - "
"I know where he lives," Arne snapped. "He was my friend before he was a Nightwatchman."
"He may be jumpy, because of what happened to Poul - "
"He won't turn me away."
Hermia pretended not to notice Arne's anger. "Let's assume you get tonight's ferry. How long will it take you to get to Sande?"
"First I'll talk to my brother, Harald. He worked as a laborer on the site when they were building the base, so he can give me the layout. Then you have to allow a full day to get to Jutland, because the trains are always delayed. I could get there late on Tuesday, sneak into the base on Wednesday, and return to Copenhagen on Thursday. Then how do I get in touch with you?"
"Come back here next Friday. If the police are still watching the ferry, you'll have to find some way of disguising yourself. I'll meet you right here. We'll cross to Sweden with the fisherman who brought me. Then we'll get you false papers at the British Legation and fly you to England."
He nodded grimly.
She said, "If this works out, we could be together again, and free, in a week's time."
He smiled. "It seems too much to hope for."
He did love her, she decided, even though he was still feeling wounded at having been left out of the Nightwatchmen. And still, in her heart of hearts, she was not sure he had the nerve for this work. But she was undoubtedly going to find out.
While they had been talking, the first few tourists had arrived, and a handful of people were now strolling around the ruins, peering into cellars and touching the ancient stones. "Let's get out of here," Hermia said. "Did you come on a bicycle?"
"It's behind that tower."
Arne fetched his bike and they left the castle, Arne wearing sunglasses and a cap to make himself hard to recognize. The disguise would not pass a careful check of passengers boarding a ferry, but might protect him if he chanced to meet his pursuers on the road.
Hermia considered the problem of escape as they freewheeled down the hillside. Could she devise a better disguise for Arne? She had no wigs or costumes, nor any makeup other than the minimal lipstick and powder she used herself. He had to look like a different person, and for that he needed professional help. He could surely find it in Copenhagen, but not here.
At the foot of the hill she spotted her fellow guest at the boardinghouse, Sven Fromer, getting out of his Volvo. She did not want him to see Arne, and she hoped to ride past without his noticing her, but she was unlucky. He caught her eye, waved, and stood expectantly beside the path. It would have been conspicuously rude to ignore him, so she felt obliged to stop.
"We meet again," he said. "This must be your fiance."
She was not in any danger from Sven, she told herself. There was nothing suspicious about what she was doing, and anyway Sven was anti-German. "This is Oluf Arnesen," she said, reversing Arne's name. "Oluf, meet Sven Fromer. He stayed at the same place as me last night."
The two men shook hands. Arne said conversationally, "Have you been here long?"
"A week. I leave tonight."
Hermia was struck by a thought. "Sven," she said. "This morning you told me we should be fighting the Germans."
"I talk too much. I ought to be more circumspect."
"If I gave you a chance to help the British, would you take a risk?"
He stared at her. "You?" he said. "But how . . . Do you mean to say that you are - "
"Would you be willing?" she pressed him.
"This isn't some kind of trick, is it?"
"You'll have to trust me. Yes or no?"
"Yes," he said. "What do you want me to do?"
"Could a man hide in the back of your car?"
"Sure. I could conceal him behind my equipment. He wouldn't be comfortable, but there's room."
"Would you be willing to smuggle someone onto the ferry tonight?"
Sven looked at his car, then at Arne. "You?"
Sven smiled. "Hell, yes," he said.