Walking through the center of Morlunde in the bright light of a summer morning, Hermia Mount was in more danger than she had been in Copenhagen. People in this small town knew her.

Two years ago, after she and Arne had become engaged, he had brought her to his parents' home on Sande. She had been to church, watched a football match, visited Arne's favorite bar, and gone shopping with Arne's mother. It broke her heart to remember that happy time.


But the consequence was that plenty of local people would remember the Olufsen boy's English fiancee, and there was a serious danger she would be recognized. If that happened, people would start talking, and before long the police would hear.

This morning she wore a hat and sunglasses, but still she felt perilously conspicuous. All the same, she had to take the risk.

She had spent the previous evening in the town center, hoping to run into Harald. Knowing how much he loved jazz, she had gone first to the Club Hot, but it was closed. She had not found him in any of the bars and cafes where young people gathered. It had been a wasted evening.

This morning she was going to his home.

-- Advertisement --

She had thought of telephoning, but it was hazardous. If she gave her real name she risked being overheard and betrayed. If she gave a false name, or called anonymously, she might spook Harald and cause him to flee. She had to visit in person.

This would be even more risky. Morlunde was a town, but on the small island of Sande every resident knew all the others. She could only hope that islanders might take her for a holidaymaker, and not look too closely. She had no better option. The full moon was five days away.

She made her way to the harbor, carrying her small suitcase, and boarded the ferry. At the top of the gangway stood a German soldier and a Danish policeman. She showed her papers in the name of Agnes Ricks. The documents had already passed three inspections, but nevertheless she suffered a shiver of fear as she offered the forgeries to the two uniformed men.

The policeman studied her identity card. "You're a long way from home, Miss Ricks."

She had prepared her cover story. "I'm here for the funeral of a relative." It was a good pretext for a long journey. She was not sure when Arne's interment was scheduled, but there was nothing suspicious about a family member arriving a day or two early, especially given the hazards of wartime travel.

"That would be the Olufsen funeral."

"Yes." Hot tears came to her eyes. "I'm a second cousin, but my mother was very close to Lisbeth Olufsen."

The policeman sensed her grief, despite the sunglasses, and he said gently, "My condolences." He handed the papers back. "You're in plenty of time."

"Am I?" That suggested it was today. "I wasn't sure, I couldn't get through on the telephone to check."

"I believe the service is at three o'clock this afternoon."

"Thank you."

Hermia went forward and leaned on the rail. As the ferry chugged out of the harbor, she looked across the water to the flat, featureless island and recalled her first visit. She had been shocked to see the cold, unadorned rooms where Arne had grown up, and to meet his stern parents. It was a mystery how that solemn family had produced someone as much fun as Arne.

She was a somewhat severe person herself, or so her colleagues seemed to think. In that way she had played a role in Arne's life similar to that of his mother. She had made him punctual, and discouraged him from getting drunk, while he had taught her to relax and have fun. She had once said to him, "There's a time and place for spontaneity," and he had laughed about it all day.

She had returned to Sande once more, for the Christmas festival. It had seemed more like Lent. For the Olufsens, Christmas was a religious event, not a bacchanal. Yet she had found the holiday enjoyable in its quiet way, doing crossword puzzles with Arne, getting to know Harald, eating Mrs. Olufsen's plain food, and walking along the cold beach in a fur coat, hand in hand with her lover.

She had never imagined returning here for his funeral.

She longed to go to the service, but she knew it was impossible. Too many people would see her and recognize her. There might even be a police detective present, studying the faces. After all, if Hermia could figure out that Arne's mission was being carried on by someone else, the police could make the same deduction.

In fact, she now realized, the funeral was going to delay her by some hours. She would have to wait until after the service before going to the house. Beforehand there would be neighbors in the kitchen preparing food, parishioners in the church arranging flowers, and an undertaker fussing about timings and pallbearers. It would be almost as bad as the service itself. But afterward, as soon as the mourners had had their tea and smorrebrod, they would all depart, leaving the immediate family to grieve alone.

It meant she would have to kill time now, but caution was everything. If she could get the film from Harald this evening she could catch the first train to Copenhagen in the morning, sail to Bornholm tomorrow night, cross to Sweden the following day, and be in London twelve hours later, with two days to go before the full moon. It was worth wasting a few hours.

She disembarked onto the quay at Sande and walked to the hotel. She could not go into the building, for fear she might encounter someone who remembered her, so she walked on to the beach. It was not really sunbathing weather - there was patchy cloud, and a cool breeze off the water - but the old-fashioned striped bathing huts had been wheeled out, and a few people were splashing in the waves or picnicking on the sand. Hermia was able to find a sheltered dip in the dunes and disappear into the holiday scene.

She waited there while the tide came in and a horse from the hotel pulled the wheeled bathing huts back up the beach. She had spent so much of the last two weeks sitting and waiting.

She had met Arne's parents a third time, on their once-a-decade trip to Copenhagen. Arne had taken them all to the Tivoli Garden and had been his most debonair, amusing self, charming waitresses, making his mother laugh, even getting his dour father to reminisce about schooldays at Jansborg. A few weeks later the Nazis had come and Hermia had left the country, ignominiously she felt, in a closed train with a crowd of diplomats from countries hostile to Germany.

And now she was back, seeking out a deadly secret, risking her life and the lives of others.

She left her position at half past four. The parsonage was ten miles from the hotel, a brisk walk of two and a half hours, so she would arrive at seven. She felt sure all the guests would have left by then, and she would find Harald and his parents sitting quietly in the kitchen.

The beach was not deserted. Several times on her long walk she encountered people. She gave them a wide berth, letting them assume she was an unfriendly holidaymaker, and no one recognized her.

At last she saw the outlines of the low church and the parsonage. The thought that this had been Arne's home struck her with sadness. There was no one in sight. As she came nearer, she saw the fresh grave in the little cemetery.

With a full heart, she crossed the churchyard and stood by the grave of her fiance. She took off her sunglasses. There were lots of flowers, she observed: people were always touched by the death of a young man. Grief took hold of her, and she began to shake with sobs. Tears streamed down her face. She fell to her knees and took a handful of the piled-up earth, thinking of his body lying below. I doubted you, she said in her mind, but you were the bravest of us all.

At last the storm abated and she was able to stand up. She wiped her face dry with her sleeve. She had work to do.

When she turned away, she saw the tall figure and domed head of Arne's father, standing a few yards off, watching her. He must have approached silently, and waited for her to rise. "Well, Hermia," he said. "God bless you."

"Thank you, Pastor." She wanted to hug him, but he was not a hugging man, so she shook his hand.

"You arrived too late for the funeral."

"That was intentional. I can't afford to be seen."

"You'd better come into the house."

Hermia followed him across the rough grass. Mrs. Olufsen was in the kitchen, but for once she was not at the sink. Hermia guessed that neighbors had cleared up after the wake and washed the dishes. Mrs. Olufsen was sitting at the kitchen table in a black dress and hat. When she saw Hermia she burst into tears.

Hermia hugged her, but her compassion was distracted. The person she wanted was not in the room. As soon as she decently could, she said, "I was hoping to see Harald."

"He's not here," said Mrs. Olufsen.

Hermia had a dreadful feeling that this long and dangerous journey would turn out to have been for nothing. "Didn't he come to the funeral?"

She shook her head tearfully.

Curbing her exasperation as best she could, Hermia said, "So where is he?"

The pastor said, "You'd better sit down."

She forced herself to be patient. The pastor was used to being obeyed. She would not get anywhere by defying his will.

Mrs. Olufsen said, "Will you have a cup of tea? It's not the real thing, of course."

"Yes, please."

"And a sandwich? There's such a lot left over."

"No, thank you." Hermia had had nothing all day, but she was too tense to eat. "Where is Harald?" she said impatiently.

"We don't know," said the pastor.

"How come?"

The pastor looked ashamed, a rare expression on his face. "Harald and I had harsh words. I was as stubborn as he. Since then, the Lord has reminded me how precious is the time a man spends with his sons." A tear rolled down his lined face. "Harald left in anger, refusing to say where he was going. Five days later he returned, just for a few hours, and there was something of a reconciliation. On that occasion, he told his mother he was going to stay at the home of a schoolmate, but when we telephoned, they said he was not there."

"Do you think he is still angry with you?"

"No," said the pastor. "Well, perhaps he is, but that's not why he has disappeared."

"What do you mean?"

"My neighbor, Axel Flemming, has a son in the Copenhagen police."

"I remember," Hermia said. "Peter Flemming."

Mrs. Olufsen put in, "He had the nerve to come to the funeral." Her tone was uncharacteristically bitter.

The pastor went on, "Peter claims that Arne was a spy for the British, and Harald is continuing his work."


"You don't seem surprised."

"I won't lie to you," Hermia said. "Peter is right. I asked Arne to take photographs of the military base here on the island. Harald has the film."

Mrs. Olufsen cried, "How could you? Arne is dead because of that! We lost our son and you lost your fiance! How could you?"

"I'm sorry," Hermia whispered.

The pastor said, "There's a war, Lisbeth. Many young men have died fighting the Nazis. It's not Hermia's fault."

"I have to get the film from Harald," Hermia said. "I have to find him. Won't you help me?"

Mrs. Olufsen said, "I don't want to lose my other son! I couldn't bear it!"

The pastor took her hand. "Arne was working against the Nazis. If Hermia and Harald can finish the job he started, his death will have some meaning. We have to help."

Mrs. Olufsen nodded. "I know," she said. "I know. I'm just so scared."

Hermia said, "Where did Harald say he was going?"

Mrs. Olufsen answered. "Kirstenslot. It's a castle outside Copenhagen, the home of the Duchwitz family. The son, Josef, is at school with Harald."

"But they say he's not there?"

She nodded. "But he's not far away. I spoke to Josef's twin sister, Karen. She's in love with Harald."

The pastor said incredulously, "How do you know that?"

"By the sound of her voice when she spoke about him."

"You didn't mention it to me."

"You would have said I couldn't possibly tell."

The pastor smiled ruefully. "Yes, I would."

Hermia said, "So you think Harald is in the vicinity of Kirstenslot, and Karen knows where he is?"


"Then I'll have to go there."

The pastor took a watch out of his waistcoat pocket. "You've missed the last train. You'd better stay the night. I'll take you to the ferry first thing in the morning."

Hermia's voice dropped to a whisper. "How can you be so kind? Arne died because of me."

"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taken away," said the pastor. "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

-- Advertisement --