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The safe house

The Contessa triggers the final drama . . concluding our serial

By JON CLEARY

(

WHILE THE Jewish organisation Bricha smuggles LUISE GRAZ and

her party of escaping Jews to board a ship for Palestine, the German I organisation Spinne is smuggling away Nazi war criminal DR KARL BESSER who sent Luise's mother and other relatives of the Jewish party to the gas chambers. BEN KEPPEL, their Bricha contact man, had killed camp director ROY DUNLEAVY and his driver, bringing Roy's brother MAJOR MATT DUNLEAVY in pursuit, lt is then decided Keppel shall make his own way to the ship. Bricha and Spinne use the same escape routes, so both the Jewish party and Besser with his wife ILSE and sons are housed in the Villa Fontana, home of CONTESSA FABOLINI. Dunleavy, following the Jewish party, is disappointed Keppel is not with them. In love with Luise, he hesitates to hand them over to the British who are preventing Jews from going to Palestine. The villa is raided by British soldiers led by MAJOR SHELL but to Dunleavy's concern, Luise is not among the Jews who were rounded UP- A Spinne agent RICCI has taken her and the Bessers to his grand Parents' home. Meanwhile, horrified to learn of her husband's wartime atrocities, Ilse offers to help Luise escape, by enticing Besser into the

BACK IN THE COTTAGE, Luise quietly rose from

her chair in the kitchen, and moved back into the bedroom, shaking her head warningly at the old woman as the latter paused in her pot washing.

Please don't give me away!

The old woman heard the silent scream for help. She went back to her washing-up, banging the pots more loudly in the tub. Luise backed across the room, still watching the doorway, every nerve tight now. She backed into the wall, spun round and fumbled with the

catch of the window.

It came undone at once; she opened the window and cautiously unlatched the shutters, pushed them back.

She lifted herself on to the sill, looked back into the

room. And saw the boy sit up, stare at her wide-eyed.

It was the younger boy. Paul; Dear God. let

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 99

him say nothing now! She knew that the other boy, the bright precocious one.

would have shouted for his father at once.

She and the boy stared at each other then Paul suddenly closed his eyes and lay down again. Luise would never know whether he had been awake or not. She dropped down off the sill, then from round the corner she heard the angry murmur of voices in German: the Bessers were arguing.

She moved off quickly across a narrow yard, clambered over a low stone wall and was in the shadows of an olive grove when she heard Besser shout. She didn't panic;

somehow she knew that Ilse Besser would

stop him from coming after her.

But she kept running, stumbling over the rough earth between the trees, clambering over two more stone walls. She knew where she was going; back to the

villa.

If the English soldiers had not gone, she would hide in thc garden; she had to see Dunleavy, there was no one else to turn to. She had no idea where she might find Keppel.

She had reached the villa, and walked cautiously up the drive when Ben Keppel and Sergeant Katz stepped out of the

bushes.

"Where have you been?" Keppel said. "Were you in those trucks with the

others?"

"Besser was in the villa." She told them

all that had happened to her, told Katz who Besser was. "He's in a house up on the

hill back there, he and his wife and two

boys. We can get him - !"

"Can you lead us there?" said Keppel.

"Now hold on a minute!" Katz said. "Has this bloke Besser got a gun? Anyone else with him besides his wife and

kids?"

"Yes, he has a gun. It belongs to an

Italian named Ricci. Ricci wasn't there

when I got away. He went to get

instructions on what to do with the Bessers."

"Chances are then he'd come back there

with help. We gotta tread careful. Look, take us back to the house where he was.

You and Ben can keep an eye on it while I

nick back -"

"You ain't gonna nick anywhere," said a voice from the darkness. "Put your hands up, all of you, and step out there where I can see youse."

Before Luise could raise her hands. Keppel plunged past her into the bushes, disappearing into the darkness. The sound of his crashing progress was abruptly blotted out by the crack of the picket's rifle as he fired two quick shots.

A moment later there were shouts,

boots thudding on paving stones and the

other three pickets came round the corne

of the villa on the run.

"Over here!" yelled the man whc

covered Luise and Katz. Arms above theil 1 heads. Luise and Katz stepped out on tc ! the driveway. The three new arrivals, rifle; I at the ready, eager for a bit of action

pulled up in front of them. "Hello," saic I

one of them, two stripes on the arm of his

greatcoat, "what you got here. Herbie. ! Who was you shooting at?"

"One of 'em got away," said Herbie, "l l dunno who they are. but something I funny's going on."

"Righto," snapped the corporal. "Up to the house. You parla Inglese?"

"Just as good as you, mate," said Fred Katz. "What part of London you from?"

"Tottenham," said the corporal. "But we'll have all the questions when we get you into the house."

The front door of the house had opened and Dunleavy and Charlie Lincoln stood there. The corporal marched Luise and Katz up into the entrance hall, Herbie bringing up the rear. Dunleavy closed the

front door.

"What's going on. Corporal? Those

shots -"

"Private Coogan here caught these two out in the garden. There was another one of 'em. but he done a bunk. Righto, sergeant. Let's see your paybook. The corporal looked at it, then handed it back. "Looks okay. But you don't belong around here, do you?"

"No. Milan," Katz told him.

"Yeah, well, we'll leave it to the boss to ask what you doing outa your territory. Righto, miss. You got an identity card or something?"

"Of course." Luise took her papers from the pocket of her coat. "Luisa Graziani. I was in a forced labor camp during the war and now I'm on my way back to my home in Rome."

"Nothing doing, miss," said the corporal. "We picked up a load of Jewish DPs in this villa tonight and they were all supposed to be Eyetie forced laborers. And it don't look good for you, either, Sarge. Your being Jewish and all. Is there a telephone in the villa, sir?"

"There's one down the hall there," said Dunleavy. "As for Signorina Graziani. 1

can vouch for her."

The corporal looked suspicious. "How's that, sir?"

"She came from a camp in my area in Germany. Matter of fact, I gave her a lift

down here."

The corporal was still unimpressed.

"What's she doing with the sergeant then, sir?"

"1 picked her up in the village," Katz put in quickly, "and I brought her up here to the villa, just like she asked. My truck's down the road, in a lane just outside the gates."

"What about the bloke who buzzed

off?"

"He said he was one of the DPs you

eked up here tonight - except he got

er ^,ay." Katz knew the value of telling some

fthe truth; it made the rest of your story 1 sound more convincing. "He wanted to

|n0w where the rest of 'em had been taken

' I think he thought I was with your lot."

ei The corporal looked at Dunleavy. "I'll ' leave it up to Major Shell, sir. Can I use ' ,he phone?"

Giulio was waiting down the corridor. Dunleavy nodded toward him and he came forward and led the corporal down to the ' phone. Dunleavy took Luise's arm, and led

« her into the dining-room. Coogan looked

after them, doubt knotting his face; then he glanced at Katz and shrugged. He wasn't paid to argue with officers. Yank or otherwise.

Dunleavy and Luise stood beside the table, still bright and gleaming beneath the blaze of the chandelier.

"Where were you? How come they didn't pick you up when they took the rest of them?" Dunleavy asked.

Luise told him what had happened to

her.

"Yeah. 1 know the Contessa has been

sheltering Germans here - Giulio told me. Was the one who got away Keppel?"

"Yes. But why are you so obsessed with him? You should be going after Besser -"

"Luise, Keppel killed my brother! I didn't come all the way down here to get sidetracked into chasing some Nazi." Then he added lamely and awkwardly. "Even one who - who was responsible for murdering your mother."

She turned sharply away. "I'm sorry. One tends to forget other people's losses. I've seen so many -" She turned back to him. "I do regret your brother's death, and I'm not pleading for any sympathy for Ben Keppel. But I can't turn him over to you. even if I knew where he is."

The corporal came to the door. "I've gotta take 'em both in, sir. Major Shell

wants to see 'em."

"OK Corporal," said Dunleavy quietly. "I'll follow you in."

"Yes, sir." The corporal nodded at Katz. "We'll go down and get your truck, if 't's where you say it is. And no funny stuff, understand? You're under close arrest, the major told me to tell you."

When they reached La Spezia. the truck pulled up outside a large building and Charlie slid the jeep in behind it. Dunleavy followed Luise, Katz, the corporal and Coogan into the building. It was like any commandeered army headquarters he had seen, suggesting nothing but temporary authority.

"We'd hoped to be gone from here by

n°w," said Shell. "But the local carabinieri

weren't too happy with the number of Jews coming in here and we had to come back." He led Dunleavy into his office. "And now We've got two more, eh?"

"If your Private Coogan had been a bit harper, we'd have had three! Keppel was there tonight, but he got away."

Shell slumped down in his chair, waved Dunleavy to another. "That must have disappointed you."

"There was someone else at the villa, too - that taxi brought them out. The Contessa has been harboring Nazis, too." Shell raised his eyebrows and Dunleavy went on to explain about Besser.

"Where's the Contessa?" he asked

finally.

"She's in another room being questioned by Lieutenant Taviani. She insisted on being an Italian citizen, so I turned her over to him - and was glad to.

Now let's have our two newest arrivals in.

Corporal!"

The corporal brought in Katz and Luise, got his orders from Shell to return to the villa. Shell, looking tired and fed up, looked up at Katz first.

"You are in trouble. Sergeant. I'm afraid I don't believe a word of what you told Corporal Taylor. Has this man Keppel been in touch with you before?"

"I dunno anyone named Keppel, sir. This bloke tonight, he was a complete stranger."

"You're lying. Sergeant. However, I'm not going to load myself with you. You'll

be sent back to Milan under close arrest

and they will deal with you. Sergeant major!"

Katz was duly marched away, and Shell looked up at Luise who was standing in front of his desk, composed and aloof. There was another empty chair in the room but he did not offer it to her. English gallantry seemed to have run out for the night.

"Miss Graziani? You're supposed to be an Italian, is that right?"

"No, Major. My name is Luise Graz. I am an Austrian Jew, formely of Vienna, Auschwitz and a Displaced Persons camp in Major Dunleavy's area in Germany. I'm afraid that's all I'm going to tell you."

Shell looked at Dunleavy. "Anything to add? Do you think she had any connection with Keppel?"

"She was in the party that he brought

down here. But I don't believe Miss Graz

or any of the others had anything to do with the killing of our two men. Technically. I guess they're accessories after the fact. But I'm not going to press

that."

Shell looked back at Luise. "Would you step outside, please. Miss Graz? Sergeant-major!" The sergeant-major's boots thumped in the doorway again. "Get Miss Graz a cup of tea, would you?"

When he and Shell were alone,

Dunleavy asked, "What're you building up to?" Shell leaned back wearily in his chair.

"We have three hundred Jews in a camp over near a place called Sarzana. There are Christ knows how many more on their way down here. In the next few weeks there is going to be a confrontation here in La Spezia - we've had the word, and

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 103

nothing short of handing over Palestine holus-bolus is going to stop it.

"There's a ship airead) out in the harbor, the Fede. If they manage to get aboard it - and I don't think the local police are going to do anything to help us stop them - it will put out to sea and then the whole world is going to know about it.

"A couple of Royal Navy ships are there outside the gulf and they'll either board it as soon as it's in international waters, or they'll shadow it halfway to Haifa, then make it put into Cyprus. Where all the poor bastards aboard will be taken ashore and put in camps with the

hundreds of others we have there.

"Nobody will be happy about it, neither the Jews nor us, and the propaganda from the Jews in your country will put England's reputation down to about the level of that

of our late enemies."

"That's your problem, not mine."

"Agreed. Well, one way of keeping these people off the ship out in the harbor would be to send them back where they came from - which will be one bloody great bind. Because everybody is going to insist on being sent back to where they came from. Are you getting my point?"

"Not exactly."

Shell sighed at the obtuseness of Americans. "Even one DP taken off my hands would be a relief."

Dunleavy stood up, getting the message. "Thanks. Do I have to sign for her or anything?"

"I have never believed in paperwork unless it is absolutely necessary."

Shell accompanied him out of the office, down the corridor to a large, sparsely furnished room where Luise and the

Contessa sat drinking tea out of thick mugs, each of them nervous and upright on the stiff-backed chairs set against one wall.

"Ah, Contessa." Shell smiled at the older woman: she was no longer his problem, he hoped. "What is Lieutenant Taviani going to do with you?"

Taviani came in from where he had been waiting just outside.

"I thought it would be best if the Contessa went home - she can report to me every day until we find a law to charge her under. Would that be agreeable,

Contessa?"

The worry went out of the Contessa's face and she smiled. "I shall report every day. Faithfully."

Shell turned to Dunleavy. "How would you like to be her parole officer? You and Miss Graz can go back to the villa with her. For tonight anyway. Will you come back and see me in the morning?"

"What about the others?"

"I sent them over to Sarzana. I'll worry about them tomorrow." He nodded to Luise and the Contessa. "Goodnight, ladies. Don't give Major Dunleavy too much

trouble."

Long after that night Dunleavy would look back on it with the refracted memory of a man who wasn't quite sure whether he had experienced something or dreamed it. He enjoyed the evening, despite his tiredness: but there was a nagging sense of guilt, as if they were celebrating their ability to turn their minds away from what this house represented.

When they arrived back at the villa. Giulio and his wife looked apprehensively at Dunleavy, as if he were now the master and the Contessa a guest. But the Contessa wasn't going to give up so easily. She waved a jewelled hand.

"We'll finish dinner. Giulio. Warm

everything up again and re-set the table."

Her conversation was light and occasionally funny. Luise, sitting opposite him, looked beautiful, her face glowing from the bath, her hair shining beneath the crystal sun above the table. If you only knew how much I loved you! Dunleaw thought...

Coffee and liqueurs were served in the main salon. Dunleavy, watching Luise with an acuteness that hurt, saw how she moved from the dinner table across the entrance

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The safe house

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 104 hall to thc couch in the salon naturally gracefully, with the air of a woman who had been dining in houses such as this all

her life.

The Contessa sat down at a grand piano dull with dust and age.

She began to play a Mozart piece, with a good ear but with fingers that were no longer supple. "Do you sing. Major?"

"No. But Miss Graz does. She was in opera in Vienna."

"No! What did you sing?"

"I was just beginning." Luise said modestly. "Just small roles. But I had hopes -"

"Didn't we all?" said the Contessa. "Would you sing something now?"

Luise looked at Dunleavy with amused

' irritation.

"You'll have to adjust sonic time," he said. "Why don't you make a start now?"

She went determinedly to stand beside the Contessa at the piano. "Can you play something for two voices? I'll need support. It's been so long -"

"Who doesn't need support?" The Contessa was becoming more honest as the night went on.

She played a Schubert song, light and not too testing. She was a contralto, though not heavy, and her voice blended well with Luise's. Each knew the song well, and the music filled the room, creating echoes of the past.

When the voices rose together on a high note, the singing suddenlv broke off in mid-note as they knew they were not going to reach it without straining. They laughed together like schoolgirls.

"We still have a long way to go." said

Luise.

The Contessa closed the piano. "Not

me. I've been - there's no voice left. But

you are still young enough. Isn't she. Major?"

When they went up to bed another day was already two hours old. Dunleavy was almost out on his feet: perhaps that was why he was so gentlemanly when he said goodnight to Luise at the door of her room.

"Better than the cellar, eh?" He looked past her into the big sumptuous bedroom, then leaned forward and kissed her softly on the lips that had been tempting him all night. "Goodnight, Luise. I love you."

"It's too soon -" She laughed softly. "I

don't even know your name."

"Matt. Matthew. And it's not too soon.

You should know better than anyone that time doesn't have much meaning these days. Sleep tight."

"Do you expect me to? After that?" She turned quickly and went into the bedroom made for love, closing the door gently in

his face, he wondered whom she was afraid of. herself or him.

When the girl (he did not know her name, did not want to) escaped from the cottage. Besser's first reaction was to rush after her. though he had no idea what he would do if he caught her.

But Ilse »rabbed his arm, hun« on to him desperately. "Let her go! We don't

want her!"

"She'll bring the English! I've got to get her back -" But he knew he was arguing half-heartedly.

'i'll wake the boys. We must leave right away." she said.

"What about Ricci?"

"We can't wait for him to come back.

Perhaps we can leave a message." She

looked at the two old people standing by the kitchen table, the old man grinning, the old woman looking half-pleased and half-frightened. "No, we can't trust them."

"We can trust no one." he said bitterly.

Ilse had gone through into the bedroom, was waking the boys. He followed her to the doorway, keeping one eye on the old couple.

Ilse put some lire notes on the kitchen table, thanked the old woman in German.

The old man picked up the money and Hung it back at Ilse. The notes fluttered to the floor and Hans bent down and picked them up. Ilse put them back in her purse to use to better purpose than gratitude.

She repeated her thanks in German to the old woman, ignored the old man and followed Karl and the two boys out of the cottage.

"Where do we go?"

"We must stay somewhere around here," Besser said. "We can't get too far away from Ricci."

They walked down through olive groves and came out on to a road that ran in twisting curves above the sea cliffs. Beyond a low stone wall they could see a black overgrown garden and the dark shape of a house against the silver sea.

Cautious investigation showed ii to bc empty.

"I think it must be a summer place. We'll stay here the night." Besser said.

They did so, Besser gaining entrance b\ breaking a window behind a loose shutter.

The mattresses on the beds in the two

front rooms were musty but not damp. Ilse

could find no sheets, but she found

blankets. She put the boys to bed there, they went down without complaint, too exhausted to be afraid of their strange surroundings.

Ilse and Besser went to bed in the room

across the hall. They both woke early, then the boys woke at nine o'clock, complaining of being hungry.

"I'll go down to the village and buv something," Ilse said. "No one should take any notice of me. And I might even see

Herr Ricci."

"Be careful," he warned. "I'll take the boys outside, let them get the sun."

Ilse was relieved when she saw that a

market was being held in the piazza. Stalls dazzled with the colors of spring vegetables and fruit; fishermen stood above benches of gleaming silver. The market was thronged with shoppers, crowded with

noise.

With finger signs Ilse bought food, wine and ersatz coffee, carried away by the sheer pleasure of being a hausfrau again. Then, as a treat for Hans and Paul, she bought several bars of chocolate, at a price that made her feel guilty.

She wandered through the market, enjoying herself: then she looked up at the clock, saw she had been in the piazza half an hour. Again she felt guilty, as if she had been deliberately careless.

When she arrived back at the villa she was shocked to find it empty. She went into the garden on the run; then slowed as she came to the top of a long flight of steps that led down to a tiny cove. Down below lhere. Karl. Hans and Paul were plunging and splashing like porpoises in the clear blue water at the edge of a sliver of beach.

Next morning; Luise said to Dunleavy. Td like to go to the camp at Sarzana. Does my parole allow that?"

"Sure, why not? I think we trust each other now, don't we?" "I hope so," she said slowly. "Last night -?"

"I meant what I said. I had to say it. If

you leave here in the next couple of days

I'd never be able to write and tell you how I felt. And so I'd have been stuck with it for the rest of my life."

She smiled, put her hand on his. "Matt - Matthew -"

"Take your pick! OK. we'll take you over to the camp. Charlie and I have to go into La Spezia. But first, I've got to see the

Contessa."

The four British soldiers had departed early, driving away in the abandoned taxi. That left only Dunleavy, Luise, Charlie Lincoln, the Contessa and the two servants in the villa. The Contessa was not

yet downstairs and Dunleavy went up to

her bedroom, knocked on the door, and issued his instructions.

"Just sit tight till I get back. Don't attempt to get in touch with anyone."

When he went back downstairs Luise

was waiting in the jeep with Charlie.

As he got in, Guilio came down the steps and coughed nervously.

"Herr Major? Did you tell the Contessa I told you about the Germans?"

"No, Giulo." Dunleavy recognised that the old man was interested only in survival; if he lost his job here, there would be nowhere else to go. "There's no need for her to know where I got the

information. You're safe."

Giulio smiled gratefully. "You are a kind man, sir."

A new signpost had been the put up at the junction of the roads above the village, pointing the way to Sarzana.

They dropped Luise at the gate to the camp. It was an old army establishment. Surly Italian soldiers lounged about outside the perimeter, uninterested in the hundreds of Jews on the other side of the barbed wire. Two carabinieri stood at the main gate, equally bored.

The British corporal who came forward was the only man who didn't look fed up, but his interest was aroused by the sight of the pretty girl getting out of the Yank jeep.

"Miss Graz is an UNRRA welfare officer

from my area," said Dunleavy. "I've seen Major Shell about her. She has his

permission to talk to some of the DPs who

were brought in last night. See you later, Miss Graz." He nodded to Charlie and

they drove off before the corporal could raise any objections.

Major Shell, looking a little fresher than last night, was in his office when Dunleavy walked in. Dunleavy sat down, looked

around the cheerless office.

"Look, last night you said it would be a relief to have even one DP taken off your

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 107

back. I'll take all those others off you, too, the ones from Garmisch."

"What will you do with them?" Shell

asked.

"You give me the papers and I'll see they get back to Camp 93."

"I can't supply you with any transport. I was going to send them all back by train."

"I can get transport. There must be guys around here who'd take on the job. I'll only need one truck and some chits from you, so we can pick up gasoline along the way at your supply dumps. I'll pay for the truck, but I think the British Army ought to pick up the tab for the gas."

"You won't pay for the truck out of your own pocket?" Shell could never contain his amazement at the way Americans threw their money around.

"Uncle Sam will pick up the tab eventually. There are ways and means of being reimbursed."

Shell nodded. He opened a drawer in his desk, took out two sheets of paper, handed the top one to Dunleavy. "Camp 93, Ulmburg, Garmisch Partenkirchen. Twelve bods, including the very attractive one of Miss Graz. I got all the particulars last night, just in case. There's your movement order. I was hoping you'd ask."

"Only two copies? In our army we have

five at least, sometimes six or seven."

"In five, ten years' time, who'll be reading it all?"

"What if I lose my copy? Or you lose yours?"

"Exactly," said Shell. "What?"

Dunleavy folded the movement order, put it away in his tunic pocket. He and Shell walked out into the bright Italian morning, smiling at each other, allies whose alliance had nothing to do with what their governments had decided. Each man, without telling the other, felt lighter

in heart.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you," Shell said. "We picked up the owner of the taxi out at the villa. Chap named Ricci."

"What'd he have to say?"

"Nothing. One always tends to think of

Italians as garrulous. They can be as close-mouthed as anyone." He shook hands, his grip firm. "If you should lose your friends, do me a favor. Don't lose them in my area. Awfully nice knowing

you.

"Oh, there are a couple of brothers named Giuffre - they have a garage out on the road near the shipyards. They hire out their truck occasionally, and don't ask questions so long as the money is negotiable. Say I sent you. Then they'll raise their price only a hundred percent instead of two hundred. When are you leaving?"

"This afternoon, I hope. I'll come through town and pick up the gasoline chits. OK? Can I draw rations for them?"

"Why not? I feel I'm getting rid of them cheaply."

On the way out of town Dunleavy stopped off at the Guiffre garage, made a

deal with the brothers that made him wonder who indeed had won the war.

When they came into the village, they had to slow right down to skirt the crowded market in the piazza. Then Giulio appeared beside the jeep. "The woman, major -!"

Dunleavy pulled Giulio into the back of the jeep. When they were out of the piazza, he told Charlie to pull up. "What's the matter. Giulio? What woman?"

"The German woman, the one who stayed at the house last night -"

"Frau Besser?"

Giulio shrugged: he never knew, never wanted to know, the names of any of them.

"She was with the German and the two

children. I saw her shopping in the village,

and I followed her. She and the man and

the boys are in the Villa Indira on the

Fiascherino road."

Dunleavy knew he could not turn his back on what the old man had told him.

He had come all this way chasing a man who had killed two Americans; he could not say it was none of his business when he was told of a man who had killed hundreds of Jews.

"OK, take us there, Giulio."

They parked the jeep in a side lane a hundred yards short of the Villa Indira. Dunleavy took off his cap, jacket and tie, left them with Charlie; then, hoping he might pass for a local workman, he moved

down with Giulio through the olive groves parallel to the villa.

When they came to the edge of a cliff

Dunleavy saw, far out at sea, two warships! grey jackals waiting for the DPs' ship to

come out of the gulf.

'There they are." Giulio pointed down to the tiny beach beneath the headland. The four people were on the pebbled strand, picnicking. One of the boys began to skim pebbles out over the water. The woman stood up, began to tidy up the remains of their picnic. The man lay back soaking up the sun.

"You're sure that's the man. Giulio?" It was impossible to imagine what a mass

murderer should look like.

"Certain, Herr Major. They came to the villa last night with the taxi driver Ricci. He has brought other Germans."

Dunleavy pondered a moment, ashamed of the scheme that was forming in his mind. "Stay here, Giulio, watch them.

"I'll be back in a little while." "Where are you going?"

"To the Contessa. Don't worry,

Giulio. I'll tell her I discovered them

myself - I bumped into you and asked you keep watch for me."

Back at the Villa Fontana, he told the Contessa that he had found the Bessers. "I

want you to bring them back here.

Contessa -"

"I can't! The Jews would kill me!"

"Sure." said Dunleavy matter-of-factly. "But I'm not going to tell them and I'm sure you won't. All you have to do is co-operate with me. I want Giulio to go to the Bessers, tell them that you want them to come back here, and the British have gone and everything will be safe till you get in touch with your German

contacts."

"I'm not sure it is safe -"

"Contessa," he said with cold impatience, "you're like Besser, you've got no choice. You've two-timed everyone but the Pope, and maybe him, too. It's about time you started paying a debt or two."

"What do I owe you, Major?"

"You may owe me your life, Contessa." He and Charlie went back in the jeep along the Fiascherino road. They pulled up in the side lane again and Giulio came trotting down to them.

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"Herr Major, they are up in the house now. They look as if they are going to stay there, perhaps till tonight."

Dunleavy explained to Giulio what he wanted him to do. The old man's face wrinkled with doubt and apprehension.

"What if he attacks me? He may not believe me."

"We'll be watching, Giulio. If he attacks you. Private Lincoln and I will come run- ning. But I'm sure he will believe you - you have an honest face."

The old man grinned. "I am also a very good liar."

"Our ship isn't in La Spezia harbor," said Keppel. "That is the Fede and we were never intended to go on that. Ours is in a small cove down near Bocca di Magra. The English warships are so busy watching the Fede they haven't noticed ours yet."

"What sort of ship is it?" asked Joachim

Winter.

"A fishing trawler. It will only take a hundred and twenty of us and we're going to be packed tighter than the fish ever were. It goes tonight, with or without us.

"The other groups are already on it."

"How do we get out of here?" Luise

asked.

"I got in here easily enough," said Keppel. "The Italian soldiers don't care

about us."

"And how far is it to the ship?"

"Fifteen kilometres, perhaps a little more. I'll get a truck."

The others dispersed, leaving Luise and Keppel to work out the final details. Then Hilde Klein came running up to them, her face old and worried. "Major Dunleavy is at the front gate - with a truck and papers! He is taking us back to Germany now!"

Keppel cursed. "You'll have to stall him! Tell our people to lose themselves somewhere in the camp!"

"It's no use, Ben." Luise felt sick; she had trusted Dunleavy and he had betrayed them. "This camp isn't built for hiding in, they'd find us all in ten minutes. You'd better go, make sure you get away yourself. Where will you be, just in case we get rid of Major Dunleavy?"

"There's an empty guest-house in the grounds of the Contessa's villa - I stayed there last night, but I'll wait outside the camp, see if he does take you away."

"I'll try and talk him out of it." But Luise knew she sounded hopeless. "Frau Klein, get everyone together. Bring them to the front gate. Tell them not try anything foolish until we see exactly what Major Dunleavy has in mind."

Hilde Klein went running away and

To page 114

The safe house

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 113

Keppel said, "Give him no concessions. You can't trust any of them." He melted away, the glare and the crowd combining to absorb him. She had a last glimpse of his angry, disappointed face, a boy destined for defeats. Then she turned and walked toward the front gate.

Dunleavy and Charlie Lincoln stood by their jeep. Behind them were a ramshackle truck and its young driver in oilstained trousers and a clean white shirt. Hildé Klein had collected the rest of the group, except for the children, and they stood in a tight circle around Dunleavy.

"Miss Graz -" He smiled at her. formal

and polite. "I've just been telling the others - Major Shell has given me permission to take you all back to Camp 93. I thought you'd prefer that to being shoved off to any old camp."

"If we can't go to Israel, we'd prefer to stay here," Luise said, and the others muttered agreement.

"I'm afraid the English won't agree to

that. You have no alternative to this." He

! slapped the single sheet of paper he held.

"We do have an alternative - "

"Don't tell him!" Anna Bork guessed what she had in mind. "You can't trust any

of them!"

"We have to trust someone Anna. As the major says, our only alternative is going back to Germany. Who wants that?" She looked around her and everyone shook his head. Then Anna said reluctantly, "Then

don't tell him too much."

"We have a ship waiting for us," Luise said to Dunleavy.

"The one out in the gulf? Not a

i chance."

She shook her head. "Another one, somewhere else. If we can get to it by nightfall, we shall be gone from here, no i h more worry for Major Shell, by daylight

i tomorrow."

"How will you get to this ship?"

She said boldly, trusting him completely now, "You could take us in your truck."

There was a gasp from some of the ii group at her risking so much. The rest of

j the camp had gathered in the background, j; their resentment silent but apparent. The I Italian soldiers and Carabinieri stood off I to one side, being as obviously neutral as Il they could be. The English corporal and

¡I another soldier had come out of the

gatehouse, but they had not approached.

Dunleavy put the movement order

I away in his shirt pocket, buttoning a flap.

Luise felt a lift of joy: he was on their side! ¡ Then he said. "I've got a proposition. I ; want Ben Keppel. I know he's around here ¡j somewhere. He's been in touch with you,

otherwise you wouldn't know where that ship is."

Luise was suddenly cold. "Ben Keppel

for the use of your truck and our freedom? Is that what you mean?"

"That, plus a bonus." said Dunleavy. "I know where Besser is. You can have him, too. All I want is Keppel."

"We don't know where Herr Keppel is." Luise said abruptly.

"But I'd give anything to get my hands on Besser!" Anna Bork's hands came up in front of her, ready for strangling.

"Yes! I owe him to my wife and kids," said Simon Berger. "We can't let him escape! Tell the major he can have Ben Keppel - "

"No!" Everyone looked at Luise and Hilde Klein said, "I agree with Fraulein Graz. I want to go to Israel, to take my

children there. But not if we have to

sacrifice anyone. Not Ben Keppel."

"What about Besser?" Simon Berger persisted. "He killed my wife and children. You have your kids - I have nothing -"

"I don't care about Besser," said Judith Winter. "All I care about is getting my children away from Europe, to Israel. If Ben Keppel is the price, then the major can

have him."

"I think we should vote." David Weill put his hands together, looked ready to pray. "But why anyone should vote on a

man's life - ?"

"It is our lives, too." said Noah

Malchek. "If Ben Keppel had asked us about killing those two Americans, we'd have stopped him. But he didn't ask us for

a vote."

"Vote," said Dunleavy in English.

Luise said, "All those for giving up Ben Keppel?"

Four hands went up: Anna Bork. Judith Winter, Noah Malchek and Simon Berger.

Luise looked around at David Weill, Hilde Klein and Joachim Winter. "Do we protect Ben?"

Weill and Hilde Klein nodded. Joachim Winter looked at his wife for forgiveness. "I'm sorry," he told her, then looked at

Luise and nodded.

"Four to four," said Luise and turned to Dunleavy. "I'm afraid this time the deciding vote is yours, Major. Herr Keppel can be picked up easily enough. But I shan't ride in your truck - not to the ship

nor to where Dr Besser can be found, I'd rather be sent back to Germany."

"I, too," said David Weill.

"And I," said Hilde Klein, on the verge of tears for what she was sacrificing.

Somewhere behind the still watching crowd a child shrieked with pleasure in some game. Joachim lifted his wife's hand, pressed his lips to her knuckles, was about

to surrender.

But Dunleavy, bitterly moved, feeling that in some way he was betraying Roy but unable to. avoid it, surrendered first. "I don't want to know where Keppel is. I'll take you to your ship. And you can have Besser if you want him. No charge."

Then the British corporal, sensing that something was brewing here that might blow up in his face later, at last came across to them. "You having trouble, sir?"

"Just a discussion, Corporal. Everybody has decided to accept the move back to Germany. I'll take them out now.

Glad to be rid of even a few of his

charges, the corporal whistled up the

second British soldier and an Italian. The

children were rounded up, the group's luggage and rations collected, everybody and everything was loaded aboard the ramshackle truck. The driver stood by, unhelpful, careful of his clean white shirt.

The crowd had not moved from the

background but its sullen resentment had disappeared from its collective face: the whisper had gone through it, last night's newcomers were on their way to Israel.

As the last of the group climbed aboard the truck a voice suddenly rang out in Hebrew: "Next year in Jerusalem!"

Dunleavy and Luise, each silently wary of the other, rode in the front of the truck with the driver. Charlie Lincoln brought up the rear in the jeep. The two vehicles drove out of the gates, turned north.

"I thought you said you would take us to the ship? It's south of here!"

"I can't head south now, not when we're supposed to be heading north for Germany. Tell Angelo where you want to go. He'll find a way of getting there."

r pd in between him and the

. : dnver.^'^red straight ahead,

' 0unleaVy' ,hank him for what he was now

t*1?Ät the memory of what

l^tíído back at the camp kept

bersilenutbeen prepared to trade in

^» SUS tie cause of what he

?'»ouldCT0uteamap Keppel had given

.. * *JJ frowned in puzzlement, then

kl0ke , ruck sharplv into the side of the Âaïïech of brakes from

' Jv,' charlie Lincoln just managed to

3 noelo had said nothing from the 1 Smment he had driven the truck into the

^riow.when it looked as if he was

: la to be cheated out of a profitable

deaf"he became terribly voluble, shouting

across Luise at Dunleavy

-He says you promised J pay him tor . taking us 'to 'Germany" Luise translated. . "He says he is not interested in small deals

like this, he'll report you to the police and the English for trying to swindle him."

Dunleavy looked across her at Angelo. .Tell him that if" he doesn't want to finish ' up in jail for profiteering and black

marketing, he'll do what I tell him and : he'll take what I pay him."

"Are you sure he's been profiteering and dealing in the black market?"

.'Major Shell knows about his profiteering. So do 1 - he took me on the

deal I made with him. I'll take a risk on the black marketing."

Luise conveyed Dunleavy's threat to Angelo Giuffre. He glowered.

Then he snarled something and Luise translated. "He wants to know how much " for today's job?"

"Tell him I'll give him fifty dollars." "Fifty dollars! That's far too much."

"Look, who's paying?" They were Uki husband and wife arguing about hov* much to tip a taxi driver, 'if 1 give hirr fifty, he'll know it's more than the job': worth. It'll help him keep his mouth shut at least for a day or two. By then you'll b< °ut at sea, on your way to Palestine."

Luise made Angelo the offer and with ¡ Punt he subsided. He rudely took the ma] [om her, looked at the spot she pointed tc

en shoved it back at her. He started u] ne truck again, drove on for a mile or sc nen turned up a narrow side road that le. t0*ard the hills hiding the sea.

They climbed a series of S-bends. th. wort- gr?anm8 and wheezing. Angel« eve:?8 ard 0n the loose dutch and th

n_ looser gear lever; evervthing in th W seemed ready to fall apart, and Luis Germ -'f they would have made it t Finally they had indeed headed T^ tremh in31 Ï toP of a rid8e the truel

llngand gasping like a dying anima

To page 118

! The safe house

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 115

came to a halt. Angelo grunted and pointed

"It's down there," Luise said. "He can't take the truck any further."

"How much further?"

Luise queried the driver. "He says two kilometres, no more. We'll have to trust him, I suppose. I can't see the ship from

here."

"They've probably got it tucked close in-shore. OK, we'll walk from here. But tell him - if he's doublecrossed us, I'll be in to see him this evening and I'll belt hell

out of him."

Everybody got down from the back of the truck, looked around apprehensively as if fearing treachery. They had heard tales of Jews who had been taken to lonely spots

in trucks and then massacred; not by Americans or the English, certainly.

"Tell them not to be afraid." said

Dunleavy. feeling the chill of their fear even in the heat of the day. "They've got nothing to worry about from now on."

"Except the English." Luise pointed out to sea and to the north. One could just see the two Royal Navy ships standing off the mouth of the gulf.

"I can't help you there."

"You have helped enough," said Luise and forgave him fully.

Dunleavy paid off Angelo G iu ff re and the Italian took his money and truck back down the road, driving away without a backward glance.

Charlie Lincoln parked the jeep beneath a solitary olive tree. Then he picked up Hilde Klein's suitcase, took Rebecca by the hand and moved off down the road, following the line of the cliffs.

The others fell in behind him n

and Luise bringing up the rear S

sajd'What will you do about fc^Jj

Dunleavy shrugged. "What a'J*

don't even know if he's on thc uT ^

back in Germany. I can t L¡Td| a arrest him, just on the off^ unless you and the others are pre

come back and give evidence again?

"1 want to. He should be Ld. what he did - not just to my moth'

all the others. But - " she wondered compensation revenge would Bve Revenge is sweet especially for3\0

some poet had said.

But she didn't believe it: not for h Whatever her reaction, it would

sweet-tasting: nothing connected w mother's death, even so long after

ever have that taste.

She took another tack, wanting totally honest with him: "I hated'

there at Sarzana."

"I hated myself. But 1 just

forget Keppel. I just can't forgive] killing someone like my brother,

a lot more people still in Germa

Roy could have helped - wanted to\

"I don't know what's going to ha you all when you get to Palesti

hard-noses like Keppel will alway problem for you. If ever you

started, you'll need sympathy and j You have it now. I guess - from I except the English.

"But eventually the world willi owes you a living. And guys like are going to help the world forget."

They walked on in silen realisation slowely began to da* that very soon she would

goodbye to him forever. She sideways at him, took in his stn and his tall strong body.

But when she tried to look in the core of him that needed to 1 she were to love him. she failed.

The track narrowed, began to !

steeply; they saw the ship belo«

tucked beneath the cliffs. Ship '

complimentary. Luise thoug

suggested something larger, substantial than this floating HMA

Everybody stopped suddenly!

down at it. stunned by the sight < was to take them the rest of the

Israel, the most dangerous part ol journey.

"Not in that!"Anna Borkshou^ "Ben Keppel said perhaps .

and twenty of us." Noah Malche*

his head.

Only the children were excite yesterday morning none of them seen the sea; they looked out on

shining blue world with awe; m they were going to ride on it -in '

"How can they take you » wouldn't sail down the North ru

To page

120

The safe house

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 118 Luise didn't ask him what the North Platte was. She was staring down at the fishing trawler, sick again with disappoint- ment and with apprehension.

The captain of the trawler, a short wiry man named Drumo, was waiting on the narrow shingled beach for them.

"Don't worry, don't worry." He spoke English with an American accent, his gestures were Italian. "I been fishing forty year and never lost a boat."

"Have you ever sailed as far as Haifa?"

Luise asked.

"Never. But don't worry, don't worry. The sea, she the same wherever, all you gotta do is read her. Where is Signor Keppel?"

"He's not coming," said Luise, careful not to look at Dunleavy.

"Why not?" Drumo wanted to know. "Because I'm here," said Dunleavy.

"I wonder about you, you know? When I saw you come down the path, I give 'em the signal out on the boat."

Dunleavy looked out across the fifty yards of water at the trawler. He had seen the people crowded on the deck, like holiday-makers ready for an afternoon's cruise; now he saw the four men lying on the roof of the superstructure, each with a rifle pointed in at the beach.

"I'm a friend," he said. "Don't worry."

Drumo turned to Luise. "He's OK?

Then why's he stopping Signor Keppel from coming with us?"

"It's a long story," said Luise. "I'll tell you on the way to Haifa. When do we

sail?"

"Soon's the sun goes down. But it's better you get aboard. You stay here, everybody else gonna wanna come ashore. Place is gonna look like a goddam picnic park. We better take the bags out first."

The baggage was put into the skiff drawn up on the beach and a seaman took it out to the trawler. Now that the moment

had come for them to take the last step, a curious quiet had come over the group. They looked up and around them, but this tiny cove wasn't Europe.

There was nothing here to say farewell to. Not the cities and fields and the mountains they had known, that they wanted to remember. They were saying goodbye to the wreck of a continent, the ruins of life and a people, their own, and for the moment they were afraid.

All but Anna Bork. She bustled up to Luise and Dunleavy, eager to go.

"Goodbye, Herr Major. Thank you for bringing us this far. As for Besser - " Something struggled in the broad aggressive face; she was beset by a sense of

loss. Her two children were ashes scattered somewhere on the winds of Poland. "Please see that he is killed."

"I can't do that," said Dunleavy, feeling the woman's pain as if it were his own. "Someone has to testify."

Anna looked out at the trawler, one work-scarred hand gently stroking a cheek:

a dead child's cheek? "I don't know. He

should be punished - he should not be allowed to go free. But we are needed in

Israel."

"I feel the same way," said Simon Berger behind her. "What do we owe ourselves to - the past or the future?"

"The future." David Weill and the rest

of the group had congealed around them.

"Yes," said Hilde Klein, holding her

two children to her.

"But what about the dead ones?"

Joachim Winter said. "Will they forgive us for letting their murderers go?"

The skiff was coming back in. Voices came across the still water from the trawler, indistinct and disembodied, like voices from the past.

"I'll go back and testify," Luise said abruptly.

All of a sudden Israel was a concept she could not quite comprehend; in her heart she knew now it had always been so.

"No!" David Weill clamped a frail hand on her arm. "You must come with us!"

"Yes!" echoed the others: suddenly they were all one, and Luise was touched by their feeling.

But she shook her head. "Perhaps next year - Don't worry about me. I have Major Dunleavy - " Even she wasn't quite

sure how she meant those last words.

"Sure." Dunleavy's face was a mass of

joy and relief: he wasn't goine J 1

after all, at least not for a whil^^H

"I promise you Besser won't I Luise was fully committed noJ^H strengthened as her resolve dvi '

Agency in Haifa will tell I \

The captain came up the beach J

we better up anchor. The I'S destroyers are moving up the cÄ ^

"How do you know0 Dunleaw j ' "We got guys watching 'en, '

radioed us. More time I got, furth- ~«J|

gonna be when the sun comes mm

everybody?"

The beach was suddenly a chattfl farewells. The children came up to]

kissed her. "Why aren't you cd Fraulein Graz?" asked Rebecca Kl3 it was a question Luise couldn't annS

child.

Hilde Klein, the Winters, Simon fl Noah Malchek said goodbye. NoahS her hand, was unexpectedly gallant 4

will miss you. Every country ncJ|

beautiful women."

David Weill took her hand satfl dark eyes glistening with tears, ifl begun to love this woman as he migh^j

a daughter; but all he could say now*

"Shalom."

"Shalom, Herr Professor."

Then there was only Anna Bork ici She put out her hand hesitantly, the fm time she had ever attempted any M intimacy: Luise took it firmly held I

between her own two hands. Tears were a

the eyes of both women; the) I glimpsed friendship and wept th never flower properly.

"Take care," said Anna, harsh voice

a murmur.

"And vou too." Luise pre

rough hand again. "Plant a rose or a Israel for my mother."

"I always had a green thumb'*

Anna.

The skiff went out, sunk low «* water with its load. Dunleavy, Luise» Charlie Lincoln stood on the beach

waited till the anchor of the tra*ler *

drawn up. Then the boat, unsafe looUJ

ungainly, like a crippled water headed out of the cove. Fareweb

back across the gently laPPin2,*,f"0J final cry Next year in Jerusalem they make it," Dunleavy said.

"All that way," said Charlie Lincoln

don't seem possible."

"Anything is possible," said »

"when you have been through wna i

have been."

The trawler went round the co

the cove and there was thenloiUJ I stretching away till it *"acled

limitless sky. . ise

"Now let's find Besser," said L« ?

"You'll be safe here." said the Cont«

To page 122

-.«cl li ' I

The safe house

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 123

stranger was, stepped out and pulled the trigger of Ricci's gun.

The sound of the shot was like a crash in the sound chamber of the hall: Besser didn't hear Ilse's stifled scream, just felt her pull the gun out of his hand.

Out in the garden Giulio and the boys

heard the shots.

"Something's happening!" Hans cried; and Paul whimpered in fright. "We must go in!"

Giulio grabbed both boys as he heard the car or truck coming up the drive.

"No stay here!" He knew it was not all over yet: there could be more shots. The children had to be protected; the old man suddenly hated their parents for creating

this sort of situation.

"You mean Dr Besser is here?" said Luise. "He's come back?"

"He was here when I left." Dunleavy

turned to Charlie Lincoln. "Better stand

by, Charlie, just in case."

Charlie strapped on his holstered pistol. The three of them went up the wide front steps, crossed the terrace and Dunleavy took a large key from his pocket.

"You have a key?"

"I didn't trust the Contessa. I didn't

want her to keep us locked out while she let Besser get away."

He opened the door, flinging it wide,

and the Contessa stood there in front of

them in the middle of the hall, staring up at where Keppel lay sprawled at the top of

the staircase.

Dunleavy went quickly in past the Contessa and picked up the gun lying on the top step, looked down at Luise who had come in to stand beside the Contessa.

"He's dead. Contessa - " She didn't appear to hear him and he raised his voice: "Contessa! Where's Besser?"

"He's still here! He shot Keppel -" One witness against her eliminated; now

Besser had to be got rid of. She could handle

the men from Bricha and the Nazis when

they came again: already she was looking to her defence. "He's upstairs somewhere

- the second floor - "

Dunleavy called down to Luise, "Stay

there."

But she could not let him go searching for Besser alone, not if the latter had a gun. She ran up the stairs as Charlie Lincoln moved in from the front doorway, stood guard beside the Contessa.

She paused for a moment by the body of Ben Keppel, looked down at the young face that looked puzzled and irritated, as if

it could not believe it was dead. Then she

ran on, along the gallery and up the stairs

to the second floor.

Dunleavy heard her coming, waited at the top of the second flight for her. "I told you to stay downstairs." He sounded angry. "Stay here," he said, and this time she knew better than to disobey him.

Dunleavy came to the second last door, flung it open, stood back. She waited for the explosion; the silence suddenly became a pressure. Then Dunleavy moved slowly into the room. Still cautious, she went quickly down to the open door.

Besser and his wife sat side by side on the bed. They held hands and Ilse sat with her other hand in the pocket of the brown jacket she wore.

"I didn't mean to kill him," he said quietly; all the volume had gone out of his voice. "It just happened - "

"I don't think that's what you'll be tried for." said Dunleavy. "Fraulein Graz has got some prior charges against you."

"Please - " Ilse looked at Luise.

"I'm sorry. Frau Besser. I have to. I promised other people - your husband killed their relatives, too. He killed Herr Keppel's brother - "

"Keppel?" Besser frowned.

"The man you just shot. We all had names, Herr Doctor - none of us were just numbers to each other. But perhaps that was the only way you could count us - there were so many - "

"Will everything come out?" Ilse looked

sick and middle-aged and hopeless. "I mean, at my husband's trial?"

"Yes," said Dunleavy. "It will be necessary. It can't be allowed to happen again, not what he and the others like him

did."

Besser shuddered and Ilse looked at him. "I can't believe it. Karl. Why? Why?"

He shook his head, having no an:swer. not even for himself. Then he lowered his head and began to weep quietly. Ilse clutched his hand and looked up at Luise and Dunleavy.

"Could you leave us alone for a moment? Till he has recovered. I don't want the boys to see him - not like this. They love him so much."

She went ahead of Dunleavy out of the room. They were halfway down the corridor when the shot rang out behind them: muffled, as if the barrel of the gun had been hurried in something. They spun round, ran back to the doorway.

Besser lay back on the bed, one hand clutching his side. Ilse still sat on the bed beside him, the gun held primly in her lap.

She was talking to him, even though he was far past hearing her:

"I'm sorry, darling. But I couldn't let the boys know. Please forgive me."

"I'll have Lieutenant Taviani arrange the burials and all the paperwork," said Major Shell. "He's not going to query it if I

tell him each shot the other. That's what

you want, isn't it?"

"Don't you reckon that's best?" said Dunleavy. "I don't want to put Frau Besser on a charge, not unless you do."

"Where are Frau Besser and her boys?"

"Still out at the Villa Fontana." "How's Miss Graz?"

"She's on the movement order. I'm

taking her back to Germany this evening."

"I'd better make out a separate order for her." Straightfaced, he added, "Just in case you lose those other bods between

here and the border."

To page 126

The safe house

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 124

Five minutes later they both walked out to the jeep waiting outside headquarters. Shell saluted Luise, who sat in the back of the jeep, and nodded to Charlie Lincoln.

"Do you have to go back to the Villa

Fontana?"

"No." said Luise. "I couldn't face Frau Besser again."

The scene at the villa had been too

harrowing. Giulio had not been able to restrain the boys and they had come plunging up the front steps and into the

entrance hall. Ilse had rushed out of the

bedroom and down to them, leaving Luise j and Dunleavy with the dead man.

"What are you going to do with - him? And Ben Keppel?"

"I'll have to turn them over to the Italian police. Corpses are their

responsibility. I'll call Shell first. He can

have Taviani handle it."

"What about Frau Besser?"

"How much of this do you want to

come out?"

"None of it, now. What's the point?" She looked at the body on the bed: if there was a hell, Besser was already there.

"OK. I'll fix the story with Taviani."

"What about the Contessa?"

"She won't give us any trouble. Any story we dream up, she's going to swear it's

true." He closed the bedroom door. "How do you feel?"

"Empty. I know I should feel something else, but that's all - empty." ?

He nodded sympathetically, took her arm and they went downstairs. Charlie had left the two boys down in the hall with their mother; the Contessa was just leading the

three of them into the main salon.

Dunleavy asked for the phone and Rosanna led him away down the corridor

to it. Luise braced herself and went into

the salon. The Contessa, standing behind the couch on which Ilse sat holding the two boys, looked at her inquiringly.

"Major Dunleavy is calling the police. You have nothing to worry about. Neither of you," she said as Ilse lifted her head. "Heir Keppel and Herr Besser - " she looked at Hans and Paul, "shot each

other."

Luise turned away, went quickly out of the salon. The Contessa followed her.

"What do I do with her and the boys?"

"They can go home to Germany, I should think. Perhaps Major Shell will arrange it."

"Will there be trouble for me?"

"That's up to you, Contessa." Dunleavy came back from the phone. "If you stay in this game, running a safe house for anyone who meets your .price, sooner or later you're going to have trouble. Sell the place or close it up, and go back to Milan. They might still have a place in the chorus for you."

He wasted no sympathy on her: she would survive. He turned away from her as Charlie Lincoln and Giulio came down the

stairs. Luise, suddenly feeling unconnected with the whole business, walked out on to

the front terrace.

Then Charlie came out with Giulio.

"We gonna pick up Frau Besser's luggage. When I get back, the major says we better get moving. You coming with us?"

But he didn't wait for her answer, went down to the jeep, and away in a spatter of gravel. Then two local police cars, told to get there ahead of him by Lieutenant Taviani, came speeding up to the villa.

Charlie and Giulio came back to the

jeep, unloaded five suitcases, among them the Vuitton. As they were carrying the luggage up the steps. Ilse came out. Hans

and Paul on either side of her.

She looked at the suitcases as Charlie

and Giulio took them in past her; then she said something to her sons, left them and

crossed to Luise.

"Fraulein, do you want your mother's suitcase? I can't take it - it would always

be a reminder - " .

// w/7/ be a reminder to me, too: but perhaps she had learned, better than the other woman ever would, to bear such memories. "Yes, I'll take it."

"Will you ever forgive him?"

"No," said Luise. "Will you?"

"No. But I still loved him. Goodbye,

Fraulein."

And now the Bessers, Luise hoped, were behind her forever, she was sitting in the back of the jeep, the Vuitton case beside her, and Dunleavy was saying to Shell, "We'll stay somewhere up the coast tonight. Somewhere quiet."

"Are you disappointed at not making it to Palestine this time?" Shell said to Luise.

.it was somewhere to head for," she said. "One needs a destination."

"How about America?" Dunleavy smiled. He was something like the old Dunleavy, the man she had known at Camp 93. But he would never be completely like that man again: she had found another person altogether behind that smile and the casual easy-going air. "It was good enough for Columbus."

"I thought he was looking for India, wasn't he?" she said, returning his smile. "I shouldn't like to find myself heading in the wrong direction."

The thing is, she thought, I have to build my life somewhere.

Luise sat back in the jeep as Charlie Lincoln took it through the city and began to climb up toward the coast road.

"Are you gonna stay in Germany, miss?" said Charlie Lincoln. "Or go back to Austria?"

Dunleavy looked back at her for an

answer: in his face she saw love, and

strength she could borrow, if she wanted it.

"Not Austria," she said. "Austria for me is Vienna, and I couldn't go back there. Germany? I don't know. There's not much future there, won't be for a long time yet."

"Not for opera singers," said Dunleavy.

"What about America? I used to read

about the Metropolitan Opera in New York. We were very snobbish about it - we used to think the only good opera was in Europe. But things may change now - "

"I could come up from Washington." Dunleavy was smiling, but his eyes were

serious.

It's another world, thought Luise. She looked at the back of Dunleavy's head; he had turned to face forward again as Charlie took the jeep round some sharp curves. He's nothing like any of the men I once knew; and will New York or Washington ever be like Vienna once was?

But the old Vienna, and that old world of which, for her, it had been the capital, that was gone forever. She had to start again somewhere -

"What are you thinking?" They came out of the curves, the jeep straightened up and Dunleavy looked back at her.

"Where will you go to law school?"

"Depends where I can get in. Depends, too, whether you want to go back to singing."

"I think I shall. Will you mind?"

"No," he said.

Both of them were aware of the

presence of Charlie Lincoln. All she could do without embarrassment was lean

forward and put her hand on Dunleavy's shoulder and press it lovingly.

"I think we may both be very happy."

"I hope so for both of you, miss," said Charlie Lincoln, young and inexperienced but not blind to love.

THE END

(C) Sundowner Productions Pty Ltd 1975 Published by William Collins Sons & Co

Ltd Glasgow.

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