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   Chapter 6 No.6

The Double Traitor By E. Phillips Oppenheim Characters: 7895

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

Norgate spent an utterly fruitless morning on the day after his arrival in London. After a lengthy but entirely unsatisfactory visit to the Foreign Office, he presented himself soon after midday at Scotland Yard.

"I should like," he announced, "to see the Chief Commissioner of the Police."

The official to whom he addressed his enquiry eyed him tolerantly.

"Have you, by any chance, an appointment?" he asked.

"None," Norgate admitted. "I only arrived from the Continent this morning."

The policeman shook his head slowly.

"It is quite impossible, sir," he said, "to see Sir Philip without an appointment. Your best course would be to write and state your business, and his secretary will then fix a time for you to call."

"Very much obliged to you, I'm sure," Norgate replied. "However, my business is urgent, and if I can't see Sir Philip Morse, I will see some one else in authority."

Norgate was regaled with a copy of The Times and a seat in a barely-furnished waiting-room. In about twenty minutes he was told that a Mr. Tyritt would see him, and was promptly shown into the presence of that gentleman. Mr. Tyritt was a burly and black-bearded person of something more than middle-age. He glanced down at Norgate's card in a somewhat puzzled manner and motioned him to a seat.

"What can I do for you, sir?" he enquired. "Sir Philip is very much engaged for the next few days, but perhaps you can tell me your business?"

"I have just arrived from Berlin," Norgate explained. "Would you care to possess a complete list of German spies in this country?"

Mr. Tyritt's face was not one capable of showing the most profound emotion. Nevertheless, he seemed a little taken aback.

"A list of German spies?" he repeated. "Dear me, that sounds very interesting!"

He took up Norgate's card and glanced at it. The action was, in its way, significant.

"You probably don't know who I am," Norgate continued. "I have been in the Diplomatic Service for eight years. Until a few days ago, I was attached to the Embassy in Berlin."

Mr. Tyritt was somewhat impressed by the statement.

"Have you any objection to telling me how you became possessed of this information?"

"None whatever," was the prompt reply. "You shall hear the whole story."

Norgate told him, as briefly as possible, of his meeting with Selingman, their conversation, and the subsequent happenings, including the interview which he had overheard on the golf links at Knocke. When he had finished, there was a brief silence.

"Sounds rather like a page out of a novel, doesn't it, Mr. Norgate?" the police official remarked at last.

"It may," Norgate assented drily. "I can't help what it sounds like. It happens to be the exact truth."

"I do not for a moment doubt it," the other declared politely. "I believe, indeed, that there are a large number of Germans working in this country who are continually collecting and forwarding to Berlin commercial and political reports. Speaking on behalf of my department, however, Mr. Norgate," he went on, "this is briefly our position. In the neighbourhood of our naval bases, our dockyards, our military aeroplane sheds, and in other directions which I need not specify, we keep the most scrupulous and exacting watch. We even, as of course you are aware, employ decoy spies ourselves, who work in conjunction with our friends at Whitehall. Our system is a rigorous one and our supervision of it unceasing. But-and this is a big 'but', Mr. Norgate-in other directions-so far as regards the country generally, that is to say-we do not take the subject of German spies seriously. I may almost say that we have no anxiety concerning their capacity for mischief."

"Those are the views of your department?" Norgate asked.

"So far as I may be said to represent it, they are," Mr. Tyritt assented. "I will venture to say that there are many thousands of letters a year which leave this cou

ntry, addressed to Germany, purporting to contain information of the most important nature, which might just as well be published in the newspapers. We ought to know, because at different times we have opened a good many of them."

"Forgive me if I press this point," Norgate begged. "Do you consider that because a vast amount of useless information is naturally sent, that fact lessens the danger as a whole? If only one letter in a thousand contains vital information, isn't that sufficient to raise the subject to a more serious level?"

Mr. Tyritt crossed his legs. His tone still indicated the slight tolerance of the man convinced beforehand of the soundness of his position.

"For the last twelve years," he announced,-"ever since I came into office, in fact,-this bogey of German spies has been costing the nation something like fifty thousand a year. It is only lately that we have come to take that broader view of the situation which I am endeavouring to-to-may I say enunciate? Germans over in this country, especially those in comparatively menial positions, such as barbers and waiters, are necessary to us industrially. So long as they earn their living reputably, conform to our laws, and pay our taxes, they are welcome here. We do not wish to unnecessarily disturb them. We wish instead to offer them the full protection of the country in which they have chosen to do productive work."

"Very interesting," Norgate remarked. "I have heard this point of view before. Once I thought it common sense. To-day I think it academic piffle. If we leave the Germans engaged in the inland towns alone for a moment, do you realise, I wonder, that there isn't any seaport in England that hasn't its sprinkling of Germans engaged in the occupations of which you speak?"

"And in a general way," Mr. Tyritt assented, smiling, "they are perfectly welcome to write home to their friends and relations each week and tell them everything they see happening about them, everything they know about us."

Norgate rose reluctantly to his feet.

"I won't trouble you any longer," he decided. "I presume that if I make a few investigations on my own account, and bring you absolute proof that any one of these people whose names are upon my list are in traitorous communication with Germany, you will view the matter differently?"

"Without a doubt," Mr. Tyritt promised. "Is that your list? Will you allow me to glance through it?"

"I brought it here to leave in your hands," Norgate replied, passing it over. "Your attitude, however, seems to render that course useless."

Mr. Tyritt adjusted his eyeglasses and glanced benevolently at the document. A sharp ejaculation broke from his lips. As his eyes wandered downwards, his first expression of incredulity gave way to one of suppressed amusement.

"Why, Mr. Norgate," he exclaimed, as he laid it down, "do you mean to seriously accuse these people of being engaged in any sort of league against us?"

"Most certainly I do," Norgate insisted.

"But the thing is ridiculous!" Mr. Tyritt declared. "There are names here of princes, of bankers, of society women, many of them wholly and entirely English, some of them household names. You expect me to believe that these people are all linked together in what amounts to a conspiracy to further the cause of Germany at the expense of the country in which they live, to which they belong?"

Norgate picked up his hat.

"I expect you to believe nothing, Mr. Tyritt," he said drily. "Sorry I troubled you."

"Not at all," Mr. Tyritt protested, the slight irritation passing from his manner. "Such a visit as yours is an agreeable break in my routine work. I feel as though I might be a character in a great modern romance. The names of your amateur criminals are still tingling in my memory."

Norgate turned back from the door.

"Remember them, if you can, Mr. Tyritt," he advised, "You may have cause to, some day."

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