"Herr ReichskanzIer, Herr Generaloberst, Your Excellencies ... my dear cousin Eduard, to whom we lift our glasses..."

Helena's father was making a speech. He was not supposed to be making a speech. He was supposed to be proposing the last of many birthday toasts to Lili's father, the toast on behalf of the family, but as I looked at the family faces - especially the face of Lili's mother - I saw them realize they had made a mistake. The audience had gone to his head: not only all the Waldsteins and all the people they had married; not only the other landowners on the island; not only all the partners of Waldstein &Co. and their biggest clients; not only the heads of the Deutsche Bank and the Disconto-Gesellschaft and the Dresdner Bank and the DarmstädterBank and Mendelssohn & Co. and Hardy & Co. and Delbrück, Schickler& Co. and S. Bleichröder & Co.; not only incidental guests like Miss Boatwright and Whitney Wood and Christoph Keith and his mother and me; but also the new Chancellor, Dr. Gustav Stresemann, who had just formed a coalition when Dr. Cuno's government fell, a few days ago; several of Stresemann's cabinet ministers - and Colonel-General Hans von Seeckt, head of the General Staff, commander-in-chief of the Reichswehr.

If I had guessed what kind of party this was going to be, I would never have agreed to Lili's plan and now I didn't want to go through with it. Watching me, she knew it.

Helena's father faced the guests from the edge of the terrace, his back to the glorious August evening, horse chestnuts and weeping willows, cloudless sky and miles of water still speckled with white sails. On the opposite beaches the sun was still warming the picnickers....

"Peter, he's going too fast for me," said Miss Boatwright into my ear. "What's he saying?"

What was he saying? Trying to interpret while somebody is talking is one of the hardest things in the world and of course I couldn't do it, but I tried.

At noon I had beached the boat in a sandy, shady cove on the west bank of the Havel, a few miles above the island. The girls wanted to swim before lunch.

"You didn't get much tan yet," said Helena as I took off my shirt.

"He read somewhere that sunlight hurts your skin," said Lili. "Isn't that nonsense?"

The tooth marks were practically invisible by now, but Helena spotted them instantly. "Sunlight? I can imagine things that hurt more." She gave me a mocking glance as she fastened her black cap, and then she stepped out of the boat with Lili. They sloshed into the sunlit water.

Christoph stood up to drop the slacks he was wearing over his two-piece bathing suit, and with a shock I realized that I had not seen his bare legs since that morning at Verdun.

His eyes followed mine. "Healed pretty well, don't you think?"

White scar tissue where the bullet had gone in and where the shinbone had come out. The wounded leg was thinner and shorter than the other one.

"Yes, it looks very good," I lied. "Can you swim all right?"

"You'll see. I paddle around a little."

The girls had walked in to their hips, launched themselves, and were now swimming breaststroke and shouting to each other. White arms and a black cap, brown arms and a white one.

I realized that Christoph was hesitating. His feet already in the dark wet sand, he sat down on the gunwale and turned to look at me.

"Peter ... I think perhaps it is time for you to go home."

"Go home? Where?"

"Home to America. I think it is time." He looked straight into my eyes.

"Why, Christoph?"

"I feel, perhaps, your life may be in danger."

"My life? Christoph, has this got something to do with Kaspar?"

He pursed his lips and nodded, looking down into the sand.

"Remember the heavy blond man to whom I introduced you in the Romanisches Cafe' last year? The aviator? You drew his picture, called him Hauptmann Ring -"

"Of course I remember him. Hermann Göring, he's become one of Hitler's boys -"

"Not just one of his boys. He's one of the inner circle, he's become the chief of Hitler's Sturmabteilung, the S.A. He's got thousands of men in brown uniforms-"

"Well, what about him?"

"I had a drink with him the other evening."

"You had a drink with Hermann Göring?""

Christoph nodded. "Called me at the Bank, if you please. Asked if we could meet someplace where neither of us would be known, he had something to tell me. So we remembered a little bar near the station down in Steglitz where cadets used to meet girls, and I took the Stadtbahn after work and there he was, in civilian clothes, and we sat in a dark corner and had some drinks and talked. He talked; I mostly listened."

Lili and Helena were swimming out into the stream. We could hear their voices but not what they were saying.

"Göring really had two messages. One was an invitation. The other was a warning. The invitation was to change sides. He says they're really going to make a Putsch in Bavaria this year. The Bavarians hate Berlin. They hate the Republic, and so far as they're concerned, Berlin is the Republic, the Republic is Berlin. The Reichswehr commander in Munich is General von Lossow, and he's a Bavarian. Of course he is supposed to be under von Seeckt, but Göring's not so sure that Lossow is going to obey Seeckt when the shooting starts. So Göring thinks there is a good chance that Bavaria will go for Hitler this year, and then it's the March on Berlin, and then - who knows? Things can't go on this way, we all agree on that. Is Seeckt going to back up Stresemann if the whole country rises? Who knows? But in any event, Göring says they need somebody with my training, in other words they need somebody to manage the money that's coming in now, and he says that Hitler is absolutely fanatic in his anti-Semitism, there's just no reasoning with him about it, and if he gets into the saddle he's going to take serious action against the Jews."

"What does that mean?" I asked.

"He didn't say. I don't think he knows. Maybe Hitler doesn't know himself. He's already blaming the inflation on the Jews, and

the people need somebody to blame. But Göring's point is I'm on the wrong side, and I'd better switch while there's time."

"And what did you say?"

"I thanked him for his advice."

We were watching the girls. Their faces were turned toward us. "WHAT ARE YOU TWO TALKING ABOUT?" shouted Helena.

"I thanked him, but I said it was a little late for me to change sides. He meant it well. He's convinced they're going to win, that Hitler has the answer because Hitler can bring the people together again. Maybe he's right. But he also came to talk about Kaspar, and that is really what I want to tell you. Kaspar has been making threats."

"Is Kaspar in the S.A.?"

"Well, the answer is yes and no, apparently. They're having trouble with Kaspar and his friends. They've joined the S.A., but now the S.A.'s not good enough for them. Too many unemployed mail carriers, bus drivers, factory workers - ordinary fellows who just want jobs. Kaspar's friends don't want jobs, they want to be soldiers. Some sort of elite corps."

"Only for killers."

"That's right. They are trying to transfer into something the Reichswehr has set up, a secret command where they train troops that the Allied Control Commission doesn't know about, nobody knows quite where they're training- but it's run from the Bendlerstrasse, it's called the 'Black' Reichswehr, it's run by Seeckt's officers -but it seems they won't take Freikorps people. They never have wanted Freikorps people in the Reichswehr and they don't want them now, so Kaspar is frustrated again."

"Is Sigrid's brother in this Black Reichswehr?"

Christoph rubbed his hand across his mouth, thinking. "Brühl? ...No ... No, he's regular Reichswehr, they took him straight from cadet school, same time poor Kaspar ran off with Ehrhardt's Brigade ... but he could be mixed up in the project, it's definitely being run by regular officers-"

Maybe I wouldn't have to tell him about Sigrid's meeting with Kaspar. Had I promised her I wouldn't? "What did Göring say about Kaspar? He's made threats against me?"

"Well, both of us, apparently, but of course he wouldn't do anything to me. Göring says that Kaspar is still berserk about the Rathenau thing, the idea that you and I betrayed Kern and Fischer, gave information to the police, betrayed our name, if you please, my name, I betrayed my own name! ... and that he's not controllable, I mean even though he is enlisted in the S.A. they can't control him, he's done things in the Ruhr - as a matter of fact, Hitler blows hot and cold on the Ruhr, sometimes he is more interested in bringing down our government than in getting the French out of there, and all this dynamiting coal trains and shooting collaborationists is not necessarily what Hitler wants done-"

"But Kaspar does it anyway."

"Kaspar and the other Freikorps people, especially the Ehrhardt O.C. people - they do what they want."

"Let's get back to the point, Christoph. Göring warned you, didn't he? He thought it was serious enough to warn you. And you can't tell me that Hermann Göring gives a damn what happens to me. Göring told you that Kaspar's made specific threats against you! Didn't he?"

Christoph shook his head. "It's complete nonsense, it's only little boy talk, he's a boy who has been through a great deal, but nobody is going to tell me that my little brother -"

"It is not nonsense, it's true," and then I had to tell him Sigrid's story and I had to tell it very fast because the black bathing cap and the white bathing cap were moving toward us.


Trying to translate for Miss Boatwright:

"... ladies and gentlemen: with the possible exception of my cousin Fritz, who was a baby, I must be the only person here today who remembers Eduard's eleventh birthday, on this very terrace, anno 'seventy-one. And what a summer that was! Our victorious army back from France, some of our fathers still in their uniforms ... I remember an excursion steamer out there on the water, band playing 'Die Wacht am Rhein'. . . a new nation, ladies and gentlemen -"

Dr. Stresemann and General von Seeckt look like caricatures of what they are: the balding shiny-pated German Bürger, small moustache, small saber scar, creased neck, wing collar; the slim Prussian Junker, thick short white hair, clipped white moustache, icy blue eyes, monocle, Pour le mérite dangling at his throat ...

"What have we today, ladies and gentlemen, on Eduard's sixtyfifth birthday? Our nation, united in eighteen seventy-one, is about to break apart, our nation is about to explode! The French are in the Ruhr, trying to organize a separate state. The Poles are in Silesia. And in Munich? In Munich the fanatics of the Right and the Bavarian royalists are getting ready to cut Bavaria out of the Reich, getting ready - we are told - for a march on Berlin. This evening we look out on a peaceful scene which has not changed in my memory - the sailboats and the water and the sky - but all of us know what is going on behind that scenery.

"And what is really worst, no longer the result but now the cause itself! This nightmare! This disaster! The death of our money! Every person on this terrace knows what the Dollarkurs was on Friday afternoon: Five million marks to the dollar! What will it be on Monday morning? Every printing press in Germany is printing banknotes for the Reichsbank, printing money twenty-four hours a day. All of you are paying your employees twice a day so they can rush out to the stores and buy something before that money becomes worthless a few hours later. And now we reach the point where people simply won't take these paper marks. First it was the farmers, now even the stores don't want them. In the meantime, every town and city is issuing its own money, many business firms are issuing their own money. I understand that Waldstein & Co. pays its employees with Waldstein's own notes. The name of some village in the Black Forest is worth more than the name of the German Reich! The name of Waldstein and Co. is worth more than the name of the German Reich!

"Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am not telling you anything you don't know, but I am begging you - on this quite inappropriate occasion- to do something about it! We are watching the destruction of the entire middle class. Their savings have disappeared. Their pensions have melted away. Hardworking honest people who saved their money according to rules we all grew up on - these people are today wiped out. Without a penny! On the other hand, people who threw their money away to buy things - houses, paintings, diamonds, automobiles - they at least have the things they bought. And the people who borrowed to buy things! Well, ladies and gentlemen, the more they went into debt, the more they borrowed, the more they bought, the richer they are today! All the rules we learned in school were nonsense. Thrift is nonsense. Debt is virtue! And those people who followed the rules have been cheated and betrayed; the people who violated the rules are rich! The world's turned upside down and I wonder if you really see what it means? It means we are in a revolution that is worse than anything we saw in 1918. We saw mobs then, we saw red flags, we thought that Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg and the Spartacus Bund were going to take our property away - but now it's the Reichsbank that's done it! Oh, I know all the reasons: Versailles and the Reparations and the French in the Ruhr - but knowing the reasons will not help us! The French are not printing all this money. We are doing it ourselves. We are destroying our money ourselves, we are destroying our country ourselves!

"Your Excellencies, I am not a minister and I am not a banker, you are the ministers, you are the bankers, you gentlemen on this terrace this evening can do more than anyone else in Germany to stop this madness, and I seize this opportunity to implore you: STOP IT! "

Silence. Helena's father was out of breath. The glass was trembling in his hand. "Well, Eduard ... my dear cousin ... I really did not plan this outburst. I drink to your good health and wish you a happy birthday. Prosit!"

Gustav Stresemann, the Chancellor, rose to his feet and held his glass toward Lili's father.

At the same moment General von Seeckt, sitting between Helena and Frau Keith, rose too. Everybody else rose. It was so quiet that we could hear a motorboat buzzing out across the water. We drank the last toast.

Baron Eduard spoke very quietly: "My dear friends ... I think we have just heard an echo of Waldstein's Voice...."

A roar of laughter cut the tension.

"I wish to express my gratitude for the honor you have done me by coming here today. I am deeply moved by it. I do not speak as fluently as my cousin, who carries the blood of a poet in his veins."

More laughter, but quiet laughter.

"However, I wish to say that I share the sentiments which my cousin so eloquently expressed. He is not, as he told us, a banker. I am one. Herr ReichskanzIer, Herr Generaloberst, Your Excellencies - and my dear cousins: I think I speak for every banker on this terrace when I tell you that we lie awake night after night this summer. Night after night. In the daytime we meet, we talk, we rack our brains, we study plans that have been submitted, some of these plans have possibilities.... This is not the place to discuss the various ideas, but I can only tell you that we know that things cannot go on this way, we know there must be a solution, but we also know that any solution will require drastic measures. Drastic measures, ladies and gentlemen! And a strong government to adopt such measures, and a strong army to enforce them!"

Dr. Strassburger, standing by a distant table, put down his glass and began to applaud, and then everybody was applauding - even the new Chancellor, his ministers, and General von Seeckt.

"And now," said Baron Eduard, "after so much seriousness, I think we will have some dance music -" The Baroness said something into his ear and Lili shouted: "Oh no, Papa!" rushing through the crowd, and I knew it was too late. There was nothing I could do to stop her, but I prayed that she would have the sense to do it quickly.

She did. She took her father's arm and turned to the crowd and said "Ladies and gentlemen, we have one more birthday present, and our friend Peter Ellis will bring it now," and the butler was beside me with the package and feeling like a perfect fool I walked up to the Baron and unwrapped the little portrait I had done of Lili - of Lili looking at the sailboat in the bottle - and handed it to him.

I guess I must have said something too, something about wishing him a happy birthday and thanking him for his hospitality and then I fled back to my place, and as I passed Helena she grabbed my arm and whispered: "If your shoulders are as red as your face now, the marks wouldn't show!" and then she turned and introduced me to General von Seeckt.

Firm handshake. Monocle. Pour le mérite.

I gulped. ". . . great honor, sir."

He took the monocle out and glanced over my shoulder. "So. He is an artist, after all!" He said it in English.

I turned. The Baron was holding up the portrait, beaming. It did look pretty good. I had worked hard. Of course you never get anything exactly the way you see it in your head, but this was as close as I had managed so far.

"Yes sir, I'm trying to become a painter."

"Yes. Glad to see it." He replaced the monocle and stared right into my eyes. I managed not to drop mine ... two of the ministers were at his elbow. "Herr Generaloberst - " and the commander-in- chief of the Reichswehr said, "Please excuse me, sir."

They were dancing in the big tiled foyer. The music came from the living room, where Bobby was grimly playing the piano, pounding out American foxtrots with a cigarette in his mouth while the professionals - two violins, a bass fiddle, a saxophone and a set of drums - tried their best to follow.

I felt too many conflicting emotions tearing at me. I'd drunk too much champagne. Helena was dancing with General von Seeckt. Miss Boatwright was dancing with Whitney Wood. I had never seen Miss Boatwright dancing before. I walked through the people, looking for Lili.

Dr. Strassburger obviously wanted to speak with Dr. Stresemann, but the crowd around the Chancellor was too tight.

"Dr. Strassburger, what did you think of Waldstein's Voice?"

He looked over his shoulder before replying to my question. "It is easier to give advice from outside the arena, do you not agree? I heard no specific suggestions."

"But surely something's got to be done."

"Agreed. But whatever's done must be done by the government. We are not the government. We are not printing the money. Those gentlemen over there, as of this week they are the government. All we can do is give advice."

"And what advice are you going to give them?"

Dr. Strassburger permitted himself a little smile. "If they ask for it?"

"You're being awfully modest tonight, Dr. Strassburger."

"No. Perhaps a little sad." He looked down into his glass.

"I'm sorry. May I ask why?"

"I don't know exactly. Perhaps I have drunk too much champagne, which usually depresses me. Or perhaps I have heard an undertone in Waldstein's Voice that the others did not hear."

"An undertone? "

"Yes. Something that he did not say, but he thought it, and I heard it."

"What did you hear?"

"A warning. A warning that this disaster, this chaos, this death of money, this destruction of the middle class - one day it will be discovered to have been caused by the Jews. Deliberately brought about by the Jews. Never mind that the Jewish middle class is wiped out too. Never mind that the capital of Waldstein and Co. is less than twenty-five percent of what it was in 1914. At Schloss Havelblick, champagne still flows, the general staff still foxtrots with the granddaughter of the original Voice!"

Dr. Strassburger peered at me over the tops of his glasses.

I had to blurt out the first thing that came to mind. "Have you heard anything from your nephew? How does he like Los Angeles? "

"One postcard, reporting that your protégée the Countess Kyra has obtained a role in a film, as a dancer, apparently. If my nephew has found employment, he said nothing about it."

Just then a waiter carrying a tray with clinking glasses approached the group around Dr. Stresemann. As they stepped back to let the waiter in, the Chancellor's shiny face turned toward us. "Strassburger!" he called. "Will you come over here a moment? We need your advice."

"Where's the can?" asked Whitney Wood.

"It's down in the basement. You have to go through those swinging doors and there's a little staircase.... I better show you, Mr. Wood. This way."

"Want a cigar?"

"Thank you, sir."

"I liked that portrait you did of your girl. Want to do one of mine?"


"Want to paint a little portrait of Susan Boatwright? I'm not sure where I can hang it, is the only thing.... I keep a bedroom at the Union Club- what's the matter?"

I had stopped in my tracks. "You're teasing me, aren't you?"

"Teasing you?"

"You're serious?"

"What the hell do you mean? Why wouldn't I be -"

"Miss Boatwright just asked me to paint your portrait."

Whitney Wood's face crinkled into laughter. "Two commissions in one night! Both payable in dollars. You're a pro, son. You can forget about the stock market."

The Schloss and the gardens teemed with Waldsteins. One was an ancient lady with an ear trumpet.

"IS THAT LILI'S AMERICAN SPY?" I heard her shouting to a younger

"Sssh, Aunt Etta! He'll hear you! He's not a spy, he's a painter."

"He's what? "

"A PAINTER! He painted that portrait of Lili."

"The picture of Lili? I thought Max Liebermann did that."

"No, dear, the professor was only looking at it. The young American painted it."

"He's not a spy?" Aunt Etta was clearly disappointed.

"No, dear. He's a painter."

"Can't he be both?"

Christoph was alone on the floating dock, smoking a cigarette. The stars were out now. Christoph turned when he heard my steps on the gangplank, but he didn't say anything. We stood there looking at the night, listening to the music.

Finally I asked: "What did you think of Waldstein's Voice?"

"He has the best of intentions, but he is naive. He thinks what everybody else thinks: the bankers make money from the inflation. Not true, unfortunately. The big industrialists have made money from the inflation: Stinnes, Krupp, Thyssen, Kirdorf, Stumm, those fellows, but on the whole the bankers have lost money."

"Dr. Strassburger just told me that Waldstein's capital is down to twenty-five percent of what it was in 1914. Are they in trouble? "

"They have done pretty well with foreign currencies, and in the stock market; but in straight commercial banking they're losing money. I'll tell you something in confidence: Strassburger wants to merge with one of the giants - Disconto-Gesellschaft - but the Barons won't do it."

"Selling the Bank would be like selling the Voice."

"Exactly. But it will be harder and harder to compete with the Disconto and the Deutsche Bank. We just don't have the capital."

"I still agree with Helena's father. What are they going to do about the inflation?"

"And you heard the answer. If these gentlemen knew how to get the genie back into the bottle they would gladly do it. They don't know how to do it! The government is trying to pay its debts by printing more and more money, the more money is printed the less it is worth, the situation is out of control, and whatever is done will require ... what did he say? Drastic measures."

"Does that mean destroying the Republic?"

"The people on the terrace are not so crazy about the Republic, you know."

"Do they want the Kaiser back?"

"Some of them wouldn't mind, but they know it's not a possibility."

"Well then, what -"

"You heard what the Baron said: drastic measures, strong government, strong army."

"What's that mean? A military dictatorship? These people want a military dictatorship?"

"Depends on the military dictator," said Christoph. "Adolf Hitler? No. Hans von Seeckt? Why not?"

"General von Seeckt is up there dancing with Helena right now."

"Yes, they're old friends. From the War."

"Christoph, may I ask a personal question? This business about Kaspar, Kaspar's threats ... is that the reason you haven't married Helena yet?"

He turned, but it was too dark to see his expression.

"I am in mourning for my father."

"Your father died in January. This is August."

"We've waited many years -"

"Christoph, suppose I could arrange a job for you in New York."

"In New York? When each dollar costs us five million marks?"

"Well, they'd pay you in dollars."

"Who would pay me in dollars?"

"Well, some bank, say. Suppose I could arrange that. Would you go? "

He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder. "Look, my friend. Each person belongs in his country. It's nice to visit other countries, but an American belongs in America, and a German belongs in Germany. And nothing that my little brother tells his friends when he is drinking is going to make we run away from my country. You understand?"

"What about Helena?"

"Same applies to Helena."

"But you told me I ought to go home."

"Yes, because that's your country. That's where you belong."

"Right now I feel I belong right here," I said. "I've never felt as close to any place in my life!"

We heard a deep throbbing diesel engine, saw red and green running lights. A huge cruiser approached the dock.

"Boat for Dr. Wassermann," a voice called.

"The Deutsche Bank is going home," said Christoph.

The last door had been slammed by the last chauffeur. The last limousine had crunched over the gravel driveway into the darkness.

The last bank president was gone. The last cabinet minister was gone. General von Seeckt was gone, having taken Frau Keith and Christoph and Helena along in his staff car. Bobby von Waldstein had driven off in his Bugatti, silent and alone. The musicians were loading their instruments into the landau for the drive to Nikolassee station. On the terrace and in the big dining room and out in the maze of pantries and kitchens the bustle of cleaning up had not ended, but the brightly lighted front of the house seemed empty and quiet.

When Alfred and Sigrid said goodbye I assumed that I was to walk up the hill with them, but as we stood in the hall Lili announced: "Papa, I think that Peter would like to have a talk with you in the library."

"You mean tonight?" asked the Baron, looking startled.

Lili's eyes were on me. "Yes, Papa, I think he would like to talk to you tonight."

Significant looks were exchanged, Alfred and Sigrid said goodnight again, and the Baroness fled upstairs.

'Papa, should some Cognac be brought into the library?"

"Yes, yes, by all means. Some Cognac!" The Baron, who had been glowing, seemed nervous now as he led me into the dim silent library. He was no more nervous than I.

My portrait of Lili was on the table, leaning against the wall of books.

"I like your picture very, very much, Mr. Ellis. Professor Liebermann also liked it. He said you looked beneath her skin. He finds that important."

"Yes, sir. I'm honored that he liked it."

The Cognac was brought. The doors were closed. The only sound was a slow tick-tock from the clock in the corner.

"Will you pour some Cognac for us?" The Baron looked increasingly uncomfortable.

I watched my hand tremble as I poured, as I handed him his glass.

"Prosit, Herr Baron. A very happy birthday, and again, my thanks for everything."

He inclined his head. A forced smile. Tick-tock. There was no way to stall any longer.

"Baron von Waldstein, I'm in love with Lili, I've asked her to marry me, she has accepted.... I mean ... I would like to have your permission to marry Lili, I'm very much in love with her, I'll take good care of her, of course I cannot support her in the style ... I mean in this style of your house. . ."

He let me prattle on because, I felt, he couldn't think of how to stop me. He did not look surprised, he looked embarrassed. He sipped his Cognac, put down his glass, and began to tap the fingers of his right hand on the inlaid wood of the table top, producing a nervous tattoo.

Nobody ever tells you how to make a speech like this. What are you supposed to say? If I'd had some warning I might have made a list, or something....When I started to tell him about my family, the Baron stopped tapping and raised his hand.

"That's quite all right, Mr. Ellis, Miss Boatwright has given us considerable information about you."


"Yes. My wife and I have every reason to believe from your behavior and what we have heard, that your background will present no problem....I mean we understand you belong to a distinguished family- " Now he began to fidget with his pince-nez, removing it from his nose, pulling a folded white handkerchief from his breast pocket, unfolding the handkerchief, polishing the lenses of the pince-nez....

"Mr. Ellis, my wife and I are not blind, we have observed you and Lili, we are not - as you see - entirely overwhelmed with surprise by your announcement- and, to be honest, we have discussed what our position should be if this- ah, if this subject should arise."

Pause. The Baron cleared his throat. "We have decided - my wife and I have decided - that in principle we have no objection -"

"Oh, that's wonderful -"

He raised his hand. "In principle, I said. In practice is another matter. The girl is barely eighteen, she has one more year of school, she can under no circumstances become engaged - that is publicly, officially engaged- to anybody before she has completed school!"

"But Baron, that won't be for a year from now!"

"Less than a year. Next June. Not a lifetime, I think. And during that year, assuming of course that Lili attends to her school work so she does in fact complete her examinations in June - during that year my wife and I will continue to receive you in our house ... what shall I say? On a regular basis?"

"And may I take her out?"

"Take her out? Where?"

"Well ... May I take her to the theatre?"

"I think that would depend upon the play," he said. "But there is another matter. More serious matter." He paused. "You're a stranger in our country, Mr. Ellis. A visitor. You speak the language well, and through your personal friendships you have become involved in the ... let us say the situation here.... You have become involved more than the ordinary visitor. Of course I refer to the incident with the Keith brother and the murder of Walther Rathenau."

"Baron von Waldstein -"

The hand came up again. "A moment please! The incident is closed. We made a decision, about Christoph Keith and about you. I do not suggest we made the wrong decision, or that we are having second thoughts. However, Mr. Ellis, under no circumstances, none whatever, can my daughter - or indeed any member of this house - become involved in scandal or political action of any sort! Do I make myself clear?"

"Not exactly, sir. I'm not involved in anything like that, I haven't got any political connections at all -"

"There seems to be some question of your association with what might be termed shadowy elements on the Left -"

"Shadowy elements on the Left?"

"Possibly criminal elements -"

"No sir! Absolutely not!"

" - and, there seems to be a suspicion in some official circles that you may be..." He paused a moment to choose his words. "That you may be in the service of your own government."

"Sir, that's absolutely untrue! My word of honor."

He had finally finished polishing his pince-nez, replaced it, and regarded me sternly.

"Yes. I believe you, and our own sources confirm what you say. But I bring the matter up--.I wish to call your attention to the special position-"

A knock at the door: "Herr Baron?"

Frowning, he turned. "What is it?"

The butler glanced at me. "Herr Baron?"

"Well, what's the matter?" demanded the Baron angrily, but he stood up and walked out of the room to hear what the butler wanted. Inside, the grandfather clock's machinery began to grind, and then the chimes struck: One ... Two ...

previous chapter, next chapter

1. PARIS 1922
2. VERDUN 1916
17. THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 1922
18. MONDAY, JUNE 19, 1922
19. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 1922
20. FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 1922
21. SATURDAY, JUNE 24, 1922