Peter Flemming stood on the quay at Morlunde, watching the last ferry of the day come in from Sande, waiting for a mystery woman.
He had been disappointed, though not really surprised, that Harald had not shown up yesterday for his brother's funeral. Peter had carefully scrutinized all the mourners. Most were islanders whom Peter had known since childhood. It was the others who interested him. After the service, taking tea in the parsonage, he had spoken to all the strangers. There were a couple of old school pals, some army buddies, friends from Copenhagen, and the headmaster of Jansborg Skole. He had ticked their names on the list given him by the policeman on the ferry. And he noticed one name not ticked: Miss Agnes Ricks.
Returning to the ferry dock, he had asked the policeman if Agnes Ricks had gone back to the mainland. "Not yet," the man had said. "I'd remember her. She's a bit of all right." He grinned and cupped his hands over his chest to signify large breasts.
Peter had gone to his father's hotel and learned that no Agnes Ricks had checked in.
He was intrigued. Who was Miss Ricks and what was she doing? Instinct told him she had some connection with Arne Olufsen. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. But she was the only lead he had.
He was too conspicuous loitering at the quay on Sande, so he crossed to the mainland and made himself unobtrusive at the large commercial harbor there. However, Miss Ricks did not appear. Now, as the ferry docked for the last time until morning, Peter retired to the Oesterport Hotel.
There was a phone in a little booth in the hotel lobby, and he used it to call Tilde Jespersen at home in Copenhagen.
"Was Harald at the funeral?" she said immediately.
"I checked out the mourners. No clues there. But there's one more lead I'm following up, a Miss Agnes Ricks. What about you?"
"I've spent the day on the phone to local police stations all over the country. I've got men checking on each of Harald's classmates. I should hear from all of them tomorrow."
"You walked off the job," he said with an abrupt change of subject.
"It wasn't a normal job, though, was it?" She was obviously prepared for this.
"You took me because you wanted to sleep with me."
Peter ground his teeth. He had compromised his own professionalism by having sex with her, and now he could not admonish her. Angrily, he said, "Is that your excuse?"
"It's not an excuse."
"You said you disliked the way I interrogated the Olufsens. That's not a reason for a police officer to run away."
"I didn't run away from the job. I just didn't want to sleep with a man who could do that."
"I was just doing my duty!"
Her voice changed. "Not quite."
"What do you mean?"
"It would be all right if you had been tough just for the sake of getting the job done. I could respect that. But you liked what you were doing. You tortured the pastor and bullied his wife, and you enjoyed it. Their grief gave you satisfaction. I can't get into bed with a man like that."
Peter hung up.
He spent much of the night awake, thinking about Tilde. Lying in bed, angry with her, he imagined himself slapping her. He would have liked to go to her apartment, and pull her out of bed in her nightgown, and punish her. In his fantasy she pleaded for mercy, but he ignored her cries. Her gown became torn in the struggle, and he became aroused and raped her. She screamed and fought him off, but he held her down. Afterward, she begged forgiveness with tears in her eyes, but he left her without a word.
Eventually he fell asleep.
In the morning he went to the dock to meet the first ferry from Sande. He looked hopefully at the salt-caked boat as it steamed into the dock. Agnes Ricks was his only hope. If she turned out to be innocent, he was not sure what to do next.
A handful of passengers disembarked. Peter's plan had been to ask the policeman if one of them was Miss Ricks, but there was no need. He immediately noticed, among the men in work clothes headed for the early shift at the cannery, a tall woman wearing sunglasses and a head scarf. As she came closer, he realized he knew her. He saw black hair escaping from under the scarf, but it was the large, curved nose that gave her away. She walked with a confident, mannish stride, he observed, and he remembered noticing that gait when he first met her, two years ago.
She was Hermia Mount.
She looked thinner and older than the woman who had been introduced as Arne Olufsen's fiancee back in 1939, but Peter had no doubt.
"You treacherous bitch, I've got you," he said with profound satisfaction.
Anxious that she might recognize him, he put on heavy-rimmed glasses and pulled his hat forward to cover the distinctive red of his hair. Then he followed her to the station, where she bought a ticket to Copenhagen.
After a long wait they boarded an old, slow, coal-burning train that meandered across Denmark from west to east, stopping at half-timbered stations in seaweed-smelling resorts and sleepy market towns. Peter sat in a first-class carriage, fidgeting with impatience. Hermia was in the next carriage, in a third-class seat. She could not get away from him while they were on the train, but on the other hand he could make no progress until she got off.
It was midafternoon when the train pulled into Nyborg, on the central island of Fyn. From here they had to transfer to a ferry across the Great Belt to Zealand, the largest island, where they would board another train to Copenhagen.
Peter had heard talk of an ambitious plan to replace the ferry with a huge bridge twelve miles long. Traditionalists liked the numerous Danish ferries, saying their slow progress was part of the country's relaxed attitude to life, but Peter would have liked to scrap them all. He had a lot to do; he preferred bridges.
While waiting for the ferry, he found a phone and called Tilde at the Politigaarden.
She was coolly professional. "I haven't found Harald, but I've got a clue."
"Twice in the last month he's visited Kirstenslot, the home of the Duchwitz family."
"Yes. The local policeman recalls meeting him. He says Harald had a steam-driven motorcycle. But he swears Harald is not there now."
"Make double sure. Go there yourself."
"I was planning to."
He wanted to talk to her about what she had said yesterday. Did she really mean that she could not sleep with him again? But he could not think of a way to raise the subject, so he kept talking about the case. "I found Miss Ricks. She's Hermia Mount, Arne Olufsen's fiancee."
"The English girl?"
"It is." Peter was glad Tilde had not lost her enthusiasm for the case. "She's on her way to Copenhagen now, and I'm following her."
"Isn't there a chance she'll recognize you?"
"In case she tries to give you the slip, why don't I meet the train?"
"I'd rather you go to Kirstenslot."
"Maybe I can do both. Where are you?"
"You're at least two hours away."
"More. This train is torpid."
"I can drive out to Kirstenslot, snoop around for an hour, and still meet you at the station."
"Good," he said. "Do it."