Chapter 21: Wall Street Swastika: Lawrence Maps Or Your Life:
The German spies were getting so close Dora wanted to scream. But at the last moment they stopped and started to gaze at the portrait on the wall next to the one that resembled Monet’s Woman With A Parasol. It was another portrait of some undistinguished person that the painter must have known. Obviously the goons had deliberately moved physically closer so that they could keep up with what Dora was doing and so they could hear better what she said.
Dora knew this was a dangerous game that she, Churchill, and Edward were playing. It had not improved over the years either. It reminded her of when she took her first transatlantic crossing on the last voyage of the Lusitania in May of 1915. A goon hired by the Kaiser called Ali had followed her aboard, kidnapped her, and tied her ultimately to a pillar in the engine room with her future husband, Michael Byrne. They had barely escaped when the ship was torpedoed and the second mysterious explosion had occurred when Ali had set off his chemical bomb. Since she had not handed over the first Lawrence maps even then, she had been forced to row ashore with her father and mother. They had also been aboard the doomed ocean liner. In those days she had not even known what a Lawrence map was, though Ali had interrogated her about it. She was soon to find out, though, as soon as she got to Queenstown, Ireland and ran into the future Colonel Sir Edward Ware as a young man about to ship off for Gallipoli. He had told her all about the maps. Before the war was over he was to send them to her to keep in Pittsburgh. Then when she showed up in Paris for the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Lawrence of Arabia himself, author of the maps, key to world domination, handed her a box of maps to keep with her when she returned to America. Lawrence thought they would be safer there than in Europe where greedy Germans even after the war were looking everywhere for them.
No one had made a better prediction. Here the Germans were crowding her out on the lower level of deck 3. It was ten years later, and they were seeking the same maps.
“M’lady, I should take a moment to wait on these gentlemen,” the art director tried to excuse himself, “while we wait for your art collector friends to arrive.”
“No matter what my friends say, I want to buy this painting. Don’t your have forms to fill out?” she pressed. She ran her hand up and down her arm.
The art director got out his bell and again rang for his assistant. “Will you please wait on the patient gentlemen over there while I wait on the lady?” he asked her.
Dora hovered over the art director protectively while he filled out form after form. She knew that he was all that shielded her from instant capture and being taken forcibly from this room at gunpoint with the butt of the pistol pointed toward her back especially when she no longer had her own gun to defend herself. It would be worse than the Lusitania. On the Lusitania there was just Ali. Here were two thugs who could jump her at once.
The art director asked Dora her name and address as well as her phone number. As she was reciting numbers, she noticed that the thugs had dismissed the assistant to the art director. They of course were not really interested in the paintings at all. Now they were slipping gloves over their hands. She swallowed hard. Did they intend to attack her anyways?
Then it came to her as if they had hit her with a mallet. She had summoned Edward and Churchill. They must have guessed that. They were not moving in on her because they were more interested in the menfolk. They would make a juicier capture than an American heiress. Neither had been present on the Lusitania or Ali himself might have preferred them to her or even Michael Byrne.
She tried keep her wits about her. She had to get out of here.
“Let’s —- let’s take the painting up to my cabin,” she suggested to the art director. “My friends are taking too long to arrive.” She had to reach Edward and Winston Churchill. She had to warn them what the rogues were planning. Certainly she should not be left alone like this while the clock was ticking and danger appeared at every turn.
She signed to put the cost of the painting on her final room tab to be paid at the end of the voyage to the purser’s desk.
The goons were trailing them as they left the shop. She hoped they did not intend to surprise them in a darkened hallway. She glanced over her shoulder. They were leaving the shop, too. They were only a few steps behind them. They did not want her to warn her confederates.
Suddenly she heard gunfire from one of the balcony’s above in the grand lobby. Women shrieked all around. She heard screams from behind her. The two thugs had collapsed on the floor of the lobby lying on oriental rugs looking blankly up at the chandeliers with vacant eyes. They were dead.