Chapter 22: Wall Street Swastika: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner
“My word!” the art director exclaimed. “What the times are coming to!” he shook his head as he continued forward up the stairs towards Dora’s cabin. “First you have the stock market crash in New York. Then everything else starts falling apart like a domino effect. It seems like the social order is breaking down if you ask me.”
The art director did not know how close he was to putting his finger on what was really going on. Adolf Hitler who was sailing aboard this ship was definitely a sign of the decline and fall of the social order. She, Edward, and Churchill were trying to set it right again sometimes all by themselves.
The art director carrying the painting knocked on the door of the suite. Immediately Edward opened it. He saw Dora and grabbed her into his arms and shut the door. The art director knocked again. Churchill took the painting and quickly thanked the man.
Dora whispered to Churchill to say something to the director to get rid of him. Churchill forced a smile onto his face and spat, “It is definitely NOT a Monet.”
“I thought not!” the art director said.
They slammed the door for the final time that night. They ordered room service and did not go down to the dining room while Churchill put the unwanted painting aside in a closet.
“Did you shoot the thugs?” Dora asked Edward horrified.
Edward nodded. “We had to let them know we meant business. They were after you, weren’t they?”
After all, Edward, Colonel Sir Edward Ware, was a crack shot. He had been so since his days in the Great War serving under Lawrence of Arabia in the Middle East.
She nodded. “They already threw me in an empty cabin. It was beginning to remind me of the Lusitania all over again. But I threw my purse at the thug and escaped. They followed me to the ship’s art gallery. I had to think of something so I bought the painting.”
Churchill nodded. “We got your notes. That alerted us to figure out what was going on.”
“One of them was carrying a knife,” Edward said. “They were following you upstairs. Who knows what they would have done? So I shot them in self-defense.”
The next evening which was the last night of the voyage to Hamburg, Churchill, Dora, and Edward occupied their table in the dining room by the window to make a statement and show Hitler that they were not easily cowed. Hitler was seated opposite them in the center of the dining room gaily greeting waiters and waving at guests. Lots of people stopped by to shake his hand and meet the up and coming star of the National Socialist Party in Germany.
“So goes the British upper class!” groaned Churchill, shaking his head in disapproval.
Of course the real attention-getter was the Prince of Wales sitting at the same table next to the gaudily adorned Helga von Wessel and her husband in tuxedo, Herr von Wessel. The Prince was gazing intently into Frau von Wessel’s eyes as she used her hands and talked, describing the wonders of National Socialism and what it could do for Germany in the next few years. She was dressed in a black sequined gown all the way down to her ankles. The dress featured black puffy sleeves made of lace and a lace sheath that covered the rest of the dress.
But suddenly the Prince caught sight of Dora seated there near the window in the gown she had bought at such a cost yesterday in the shop on the ship. He waved at her, smiled, and rose from his seat.
Frau von Wessel grabbed for his arm. “Your Highness, you don’t want anything to do with Mrs. Byrne. She is an American divorcee or about to be one! That would never do. And besides, she doesn’t see things the way we do.”
“Nonsense!” His Majesty proclaimed. “It doesn’t matter. I have always admired Americans and divorcees are a more independent thinking kind of woman. I admire that, too.” He headed towards their table by the window.
Frau von Wessel scowled at Dora in envy that the Prince of Wales, the new benefactor of the Nazi Party, should think anything about Mrs. Byrne was interesting at all.
Dora was scandalized. She looked towards Churchill, then Edward, pleading with them to help her. But apparently neither of them could do anything at all about the actions of the Prince of Wales as he plopped down in a chair at the same table right beside them. He moved his chair closer to Dora who was so flabbergasted she did not know what to do except to gape at His Majesty.
“So you are the heiress from America!” the Prince exclaimed. “At least that is what Frau and Herr von Wessel tell me.”
He glanced back at his other recently met friends. The von Wessels plastered artificlal smiles on their faces. Hitler himself broke off his conversation to wave.
Dora nodded woodenly. She swallowed hard. She had to sit here and listen to this.
“You and your millions could make the biggest difference to Herr Hitler and his friends and associates,” the Prince expounded.
Hitler again flashed them a winning smile.
Winston glared at the upstart.
Edward motioned to Dora to go on. She had to answer the Prince.
Dora wet her lips. “I am sure lots of people like charity, Your Highness, but I am inclined to keep charity at home which means the United States and not give it out to dangerous foreign types. That is what my father taught me.”
The Prince pointed at her and wagged his finger. “My parents the King and Queen of England taught me much the same thing. But I have learned to think for myself.”
Winston rolled his eyes. He leaned toward Edward and hissed, “That is the understatement of the year.”
“Your Highness,” Winston broke in. “Your parents the King and Queen would be much grieved to see you handing money to foreigners with whom they have no diplomatic relations.”
“Well, they should, and I intend to be the first to say so!” the Prince said stubbornly. “He is better than the Weimar government any day.”
Dora thought he sounded like a spoiled twelve year old, but a dangerous spoiled twelve year old.
After a few more minutes of unendurable behavior, the shadow of Frau von Wessel loomed over the table. She took the Prince’s arm. “Enough fun for now, Your Majesty,” she urged him to go, “it is time for Herr Hitler to practice one of his speeches. He is going to introduce you to the crowd at Nuremberg, remember? Don’t you want to hear what he is going to say?”
The Prince of Wales leaped up. “I certainly don’t want to miss one of Herr Hitler’s speeches even if he is only practicing. Would you like to come, too, Mrs. Byrne?” he asked Dora.
Edward rose and took Dora’s arm. “Sorry, Your Highness, but Mrs. Byrne would not be attending a Herr Hitler speech if it were the last available entertainment aboard this ship.”
With that rejoinder Edward led Dora away out the entrance to the restaurant and up the stairs to their cabin just as Frau von Wessel led the Prince of Wales away. Dora hoped never to have to confront him again this side of Hamburg.
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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.
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Chapter 20: Wall Street Swastika: The Lawrence Maps:
The goon pressed his revolver against Dora’s shoulder. “I have orders to shoot you dead if you don’t cooperate, Mrs. Byrne.” He spoke with a German accent. “If I were you, I would hand over those maps, or you might just find yourself not here anymore.”
She scowled at him. This kind of complication was all she needed right about now. She was trying to hurry to meet Edward and Churchill for afternoon tea in the Queen’s Room on deck 3. How was she going to communicate with them now?
“Here,” she had the presence of mind to click open the top of her handbag. “I keep the maps here all in a row all neatly filed,” she lied.
He had not been expecting that answer. His eyebrows rose suddenly and with great interest. Good.
Dora threw the handbag at him. He caught it with both hands, naturally not wanting to drop it. She took advantage of the distraction to shove around him out of the cabin and race down the hallway. She headed towards the art gallery. It was the first place she caught sight of. It was not very crowded right now. She headed immediately to the desk. The gentleman in attendance stood up. She threw herself at him, pointing at the first painting she saw. “Is that a Monet?” she pressed. It was the first thing that popped into her head.
“I don’t think so. We don’t have any Monets here,” the man begged off. “But we do feature some younger painters who aren’t as famous but who we think are very talented and will do well in the future. We encourage all our guests to buy what pleases them. In the future the paintings will always be worth more and more than what you paid for them.
“But that painting looks so much like Woman With a Parasol,” Dora insisted as she saw the goon and a helper appear at the door to the art gallery. He was carrying her handbag that she had thrown at him. It seemed to be empty. No doubt he had cleaned it out looking for the Lawrence maps. Of course he had not found them. Edward had them up his sleeve as usual..
Dora moved even closer to the art gallery attendant. She figured they would not grab at her or try to snatch her again as long as she stuck to this man as if he were her long lost brother.
“Look at the sheen of the sunlight on her dress and the reflection in the water,” Dora said.
“Well, occasionally paintings do get mislabeled,” he hemmed and hawed. “I do remember the art gallery owner —- we are stationed in London, you know —- going to an exhibtion of Monets in Paris several months ago. I don’t imagine that he bought one, but you never know for sure.”
He reached for a catalog of paintings in the exhibition on the ship. He went down column after column. He apparently did not find anything. So he could out another catalog and searched for that.
“I am sailing with an art expert,” Dora volunteered all too eagerly when she noticed that Hitler’s thugs had advanced into the gallery and were pretending to admire the paintings exhibited on the walls and on each side of each porthole. Really they were obviously just trying to get closer to her by the desk. “If you will send for him, he can judge the painting and see what he thinks.”
“I am sure I would be glad to entertain your fellow art collectors,” the attendant exclaimed and rang a bell for a lady assistant who instantly appeared from a back room.
Dora thought, Good! The more people I can summon the better. I don’t want to be alone with those freaks.
“You should take the lady’s notes to her friends. They are art collectors too,” the man gave his assistant a significant glance.
Dora measured the distance the spies had to move to reach her behind the desk. “Do hurry!” she told the lady. “One of my friends is in cabin 4118 and the other occupies 4116,” she instructed the assistant. “It is only one floor up from here. They would be so happy to see this painting.”
Hurry down to the art gallery on deck 3 lower level. I am there alone right now with the gallery attendant. Hitler’s hired guns are closing in on me by the minute. I have already escaped once. I don’t know if I can manage again. Right now I am holding them at bay by talking to the gallery attendant about a painting which I said reminds me of Monet. The gunmen have my handbag which I had to throw at them minutes before to escape. So I don’t even have my gun with me.”
She folded the note and handed it over and then hurriedly scribbled another to Winston saying pretty much the same thing. She added:
Hitler has not come to England just to get funding for his elections in Germany and to use the von Wessels to snag the Prince of Wales. No! He is after the maps. The thugs thought I had them and tried to kidnap me after I left the dress shop. I had to throw my purse at them and run. Now I am in the art gallery. But they have found me. I need immediate assistance.
She heard the trampling of feet and looked up. The men were only about two yards away. They were headed straight for her. Should she scream? She had only seconds to decide.
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Chapter 19: Wall Street Swastika: Dora Gets Kidnapped
Dora did not hesitate to push the Prince away. She raised her hand to slap him if he persisted in mauling her and fondling her.
She heard female laughter all around her. It got louder and turned into a raucous giggle. “That is just Mrs. Byrne, Your Highness. Don’t let her scare you,” said the low alto voice that Dora recognized all too well.
The Prince looked temporarily taken aback. He was not accustomed to ladies pushing him away. Usually they followed him about in crowds flirting with him and oohing and aahing about everything he said. They complimented him and remarked on how brilliant it was whether it was or not.
“Mrs. Byrne is an American,” Helga remarked. “She isn’t any fun.” She made a nasty, exaggerated face at her enemy in the stalls on the ship.
“On the contrary, I have always been very fond of Americans,” the Prince smiled at Dora. “Independent types. I envy them their freedom to do and say as they wish.”
Dora shut the drapes to her stall decisively, though she was sure the Prince was not accustomed to that behavior either. She quickly put on her own clothes and got ready to flee. She did not want to be caught by a bunch of freaks sent by the von Wessels to capture her and drag her off somewhere just like poor Rita Jolivet and the lighthouse in Nova Scotia. Just because she was on the ocean liner headed for Hamburg did not prevent that sort of wayward behavior.
“When you run into Mrs. Byrne that means that Colonel Sir Edward Ware must not be far behind. And in this instance I think you will even find the backbencher MP Winston Churchill aboard this ship,” Frau von Wessel said to the Prince as he helped her with her zipper.
Dora knew she had been found out. She had exposed them to danger.
“Churchill!” the Prince exclaimed. “You don’t say! I remember his family living nearby one of our Palaces. He was in the government during the war. He did a credible job as Secretary of Munitions, but he got sacked as First Lord of the Admiralty for Gallipoli and for the Lusitania.” He sighed. “But you say he has got himself involved in intrigue with Hitler and Germany?”
“Up to his neck!” Frau von Wessel sounded dramatic.
“I suppose he will never learn,” the Prince reflected. “Herr Hitler seems to be an up and coming force in Europe. Too bad he can’t see it that way.”
“Churchill isn’t as smart as you are, Your Highness,” Helga purred as Dora put her shoes back on, and she was forced to listen to more smooching and giggles. “And he’s much older and way too old fashioned. He thinks he is back in the era of Queen Victoria, your grandmother.” She laughed and laughed. “He doesn’t have all the new ideas like Adolf Hitler. I guess that’s why he is always snooping into our affairs anyway and trying to interfere with everything we do. He doesn’t approve of us.”
“I don’t understand why,” the Prince. “Anybody who doesn’t approve of you must be a eunuch or a fool.”
Dora peered out the dressing room. She looked from side to side as Helga and the Prince carried on shamefully in the dressing room right next to her while Helga attempted to wheedle money from the Prince for Hitler. She noticed two big-shouldered goons in dark suits and glasses standing by the entrance to the dress shop. She had no illusions that they had been summoned to handle her.
Dora had to make a break for it. She did not know what else to do. She waved at the shop assistant. She forced herself to smile. “I am ready to buy this dress. Could you assist me?”
The lady was of course more than happy to do so. Dora with seeming impulsiveness pointed at this scarf and that piece of jewelry. She added them to the total and checked out several bags full of merchandise.
“Oh, excuse me, but could you help me to my cabin!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands. “I don’t think I could carry everything all by myself.”
Since she had purchased over one thousand dollars worth of items the shop was only too glad to send one of their assistants over to her cabin that she was sharing with Edward on the main deck. Dora attempted to brush past the goons with the shop assistant. But no sooner did she try to enter the first dark hallway than one of them cupped his hand over her mouth and drew her into an empty cabin.
“All right,” the goon pressed her, “where are those Lawrence maps?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she attempted to put them off with her standard answer.
Hitler might be after money to fund his political campaigns. But he was always after the Lawrence maps.
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Chapter 18: Wall Street Swastika: The Prince Assaults Dora:
Edward, Dora, and Churchill scurried about the Ocean Terminal in Southampton looking to buy tickets on the cruise to Hamburg across the English Channel and across the North Sea. Dora did not have any luggage with her. The little she had brought across the Atlantic had been sent ahead to Ware Hall. And now it did not look as if she were going there. And there was nothing to buy in the terminal building.
Dora promised herself she would hit the shops in the lobby as soon as she boarded the ship to find a change of clothes and a nightgown at the very least. She could not let the wastrel Prince interfere with her whole routine and her life, too.
They tried to stay clear of the German party and the Prince, and of course the Prince of Wales was attracting all sorts of attention particularly from the ladies who were crowding around him asking for his autograph. Dora did not even bother to see their cabin first. She dashed over to her favorite dress shop that also sold handbags, scarves, and jewelry. She began trying outfits on in the spare dressing room area that was squeezed in between two shops on this deck. She usually wore only Elsa Shaparelli originals. But this time she was going to have to compromise. Otherwise she would have to wear her old clothes the whole voyage and she had already worn them across the Atlantic.
Not long after she started to try on a white chiffon dress with folds in the lower skirt half and a white net attached to the casual straw hat, than she heard shrieks of laughter. She peered out at crack in the curtain of her stall. To her horror she could not help but notice Frau von Wessel squeezing her her into own dressing stall right next to her.
Even worse, Dora heard a male voice, too. She could not believe that she looked out of the stall to observe the Prince of Wales.
“You should get the low-backed gown with the flower prints,” the Prince insisted.
“Way too expensive!” Frau von Wessel exclaimed. “My budget won’t allow it.”
“I could never permit such an injustice! Since I am devoting my fortune to Herr Hitler the least I can do is to make certain that his assistants dress properly.”
“But I couldn’t impose on you!” Frau von Wessel leaned out of the dressing room in the most provocative, flirtatious way imaginable. She poked the Prince in the nose as if they were already on intimate terms.
Dora was more than horrified. She would have to remember what was going on and who said what to whom to report back to Edward and Winston Churchill as soon as she could get out of here and reach her cabin and safety. The Prince and Frau von Wessel should not see her. That would not be proper. Winston and Edward certainly would not like it.
The shop assistant bustled back and forth handing clothes to Frau von Wessel to try on and handing clothes to Dora. Dora silently tried to warn the lady off. She shook her head and tried to discourage her.
“We want you to dress right. Herr Hitler deserves to have his representatives look like they are in the pink of fashion. The workers should vote for him and sweep away that corrupt Weimar government!” The Prince asserted as he waited outside in the hallway where he must be squeezed because there was not much room at all. He must be bumping into the assistant on all occasions.
“You are so kind, Prince!” Helga gushed. “If only we had other supporters like you. Herr Hitler’s path towards saving Germany and its workers would not be so long and hard.”
“I will do everything I can to help and more!” the Prince promised.
Dora clapped her hands over her mouth and gasped. The Prince was reaching into her dressing room and grabbing hold of her instead of Frau von Wessel. She was being catapulted out of the stall and into the Prince’s arms. Before Dora could stop him, his lips landed on her own. Dora felt the shriek rising from the bowels of her being. Then she screamed and screamed and screamed.
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Chapter 17: Wall Street Swastika: The Prince Offers Helga The Crown Jewels:
“I am charmed by your interest, Your Highness,” Frau von Wessel trilled with her deep alto voice.
“I would be delighted to learn everything I could about your important venture into German politics,” the Prince said to Frau von Wessel, laughing jovially.
“My wife and I will escort you over to the Embassy right now,” Herr von Wessel spoke up. “We have certain pamphlets and posters there that you would like to see.”
“We even have a film or two,” Frau von Wessel added. “You can see Herr Hitler here in action. He has been filmed. And believe me it is a magnificent performance. It is what is starting to captivate all of Germany.”
“Let’s get going then,” the Prince sounded enthusiastic. “I can hardly wait.”
Dora could imagine the Prince giving Frau von Wessel his arm.
“I am sorry that I canno accompany you,” Hitler spoke up through his interpreter. “But I have a speech to make in two days in Germany. I have to hurry back to tend to my duties.”
“i wish I could go with you,” the Prince sighed. “My own duties and appearances here are onerous by comparison.”
They all left in a sudden rush, talking all at once and heading for the doors at the Savoy Hotel.
Now they could talk aloud without fear of being overheard. Churchill glanced down at his pocket watch. “We must hurry back to the Embassy,” he declared. “Evidently the Prince and the von Wessels are headed there this minute.”
“But what are we to do if we find them there?” Edward asked. “It is one thing to follow them. It is quite another to prevent any harm.”
Winston winced. “At first I did not want to involve the Palace. But what authority do I have to control the actions of the Prince of Wales? He must be recalled and sent somewhere else right now, and he must be kept busy so he does not dilly dally with the von Wessels and Herr Hitler.” He was obviously thinking aloud.
Dora said, “That is why we don’t have a Prince of Wales in America. Our own politicians would be afraid to hang around publicly with a man who is a would be dictator. It would harm their reputations. Instead this man inherited his position and doesn’t have to work for a living. No wonder he gets in trouble!”
It was not the first time she had contrasted the goings on in England with Pittsburgh in an unfavorable fashion. But this was Europe!
“Dora, I have told you a million times that Europe isn’t America, or I wouldn’t get called away so often from my duties at Mid-East Headquarters in Cairo to go after that dastardly Hitler. If this were America I suppose we could just have him arrested, and that would be that,” Edward hissed.
“You already had him arrested, and he escaped or whatever. And it didn’t do any good,” Dora complained.
“Well then, in America he would be jailed for life!” Edward proclaimed.
“You had better believe he would!” Dora fumed.
She got tired of these endless escapades every time she was supposed to be alone with Edward. And it was always the same bad guy, Adolf Hitler.
Edward escorted her to a cab. They grabbed the first one they could find. Winston had already rushed off to the Palace to talk to the King.
But as soon as they got to Prussia House, the German Embassy in London, they found the place deserted. Everyone had gone home for the day. The Prince and the von Wessels had obviously not gone there.
They found the first available red phone booth and called Winston. Winston answered on the first ring though they expected to get his secretary at Morpeth Mansions instead because he had gone to the Palace.
“I forgot that their Majesties are in Scotland right now. I could not talk to the King as much as we need to,” Winston sighed. “We will have to manage with our own ingenuity.
“But they are not at the Embassy!” Edward declared. “We were just there.”
“They have deceived us again. They suspect they are being followed and are trying to elude us,” Winston concluded. He told them to wait while he called around London. He could not get any answers. They met at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese near Fleet Street while they tried to figure out what to do next. The oppressive dark atmosphere of the place that was like a cellar restaurant without real windows but only tiny slits at the tops of the walls was enough to drive Dora mad. Samuel Johnson did not provide any answers as he stared down at them from his portrait on the wall.
The waiter brought a phone to Winston. “What! They are at Southampton? Thank you.”
Winston signaled and they all rushed for a taxi. Dora had to pay the taxi driver to zoom all the way to the south of England to catch the vagabonds embarking on a cruise ship with Herr Hitler at this very minute.
An attendant of the Prince rushed up to his master and thrust a wad of bills at him. “Here is what I could get without more authorization, sir.”
“Damn the authorization!” the Prince wriggled his nose. “It is as if I have to have the PM sign every time I want to give a tip to the toilet attendant.”
“Here,” Frau von Wessel gushed as she took the money from him, “I will keep it in my wallet. You don’t have any other place to put it right now.”
The Prince smiled down at her. “I would trust you with the Crown Jewels if I could lay my hands on them right now.”
Helga beamed and patted his hand with one of those fingers that could wear a King’s ransom.
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Chapter 16: Wall Street Swastika: The Prince Kisses A Nazi:
“I would be delighted to attend your rally in Nuremberg,” the Prince smiled. “Lately things are getting rather boring here in Whitehall.”
Dora could see him yawn. She realized she was still holding the curtain dividing the two dining rooms. She was aghast and let go. She did not want to be caught doing something so conspicuous. But even after she let go she could hear the Prince yawn again.
“Good!” the interpreter translated Hitler’s words. “We will make you our honored guest. Frick will be attending the rally of course. I will introduce you to him. Also I have some other candidates who might want to run for office. I would be honored to introduce them to you.”
“I should also be honored,” the Prince replied. “It sounds far more interesting and productive than when I have to attend a party here in London to meet the new Prime Minister or the Minister of this or that or God forbid! the new party candidates for Parliament. They all look alike, sound alike, and have the same repetitious, stupid ideas.” He sighed. “If you told them they had to create a new political party from scratch with brand new ideas suited for the time period and all this unemployment and lack of job opportunity, they would be appalled. They would probably go running for the moors and never be seen in London again.”
Hitler could be heard laughing. His translator joined in positively guffawing.
Winston’s jaw dropped. He scribbled furiously on a piece of paper. He scribbled so hard he was tearing the paper. “We cannot allow this trip. We must prevent this for the good of the British people. Their Majesties would be appalled.”
Edward wrote back, “How are we going to proceed? We can hardly walk up to a Royal and tell him he is a naughty boy and must go to his room. In fact, I have never been introduced. I don’t think I by any existing protocol could speak to him at all.”
“I know him,” Churchill wrote back. “I have spoken to him often on from the time he was a boy. In fact, when I was younger he used to be a neighbor of mine of sorts. He was always getting into trouble about protocol. But that is the Prince of Wales for you. If I know the man, we have to create a distraction.”
Dora thought, A neighbor of the Prince of Wales? I wonder what Winston could mean? She directed her questioning look at Edward.
He got her meaning right away. While Winston was busy looking at his pocket watch, drinking his wine, and consulting a pocket guide of what looked like train schedules, Edward wrote a note to Dora. “Winston is the grandson of the Duke of Marlborough. He is almost a British royal himself. That side of him is not well known especially among foreigners. He was born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, you know, and Blenheim Palace is one of the most splendid castles in the realm.”
“How are we going to distract a Prince?” Edward wrote.
Winston wrote back, “That is the question of the hour. It could save the Kingdom for us.”
The party next door seemed to be breaking up. Hitler seemed to be rising from his seat along with his interpreter. “We will send details of the event to you through our embassy in London. I want to introduce you to Frau and Herr von Wessel, the commercial attache here in London.”
To Dora’s horror the couple walked unexpectedly into the next room and shook the Prince’s hand.
“We will be delighted to invite you to dinner at the Embassy next week, Prince Edward,” Frau von Wessel seemed to purr at His Majesty. “We would have invited you there today except there was some what we might call unexpected interference.”
Dora felt a chill go down her spine. No doubt Frau von Wessel meant them. They switched locales at the last moment and had Hitler appear at the Savoy Hotel dining room instead.
“There is nothing I would rather do, but why wait for next week?” the Prince responded. “I am eager to learn everything about your German project that I can as soon as I can and what I can do to help finance it. After all, I have an excessive allowance. I don’t need all the money that Whitehall throws at me.” He laughed.
The Germans chortled. Hitler laughed the loudest of all.
Churchill paled. He wrote furiously, “We can’t have a scandal of such proportions. The Prince will give away government money to a criminal party in Germany? Impossible!”
“Very well,” Frau von Wessel spoke in her alto voice, “How about tomorrow night at our place?”
“Yes indeed!” Herr von Wessel seconded his wife.
“Certainly I would go anywhere for such a lovely teacher!” the Prince exclaimed about Frau von Wessel.
“The von Wessels will attend our rally in Nuremberg,” Hitler replied through his interpreter.
“I would rather go with no one else!”
Winston madly scribbled. “This is the worst possible development. The Prince is besotted with ladies and mistresses. He is one of the worst ladies’ men since Henry VIII!”
Dora could not imagine it. But she heard the sound of the Prince kissing Frau von Wessel’s hand.
Beautiful young woman retro portrait
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Chapter 15: Wall Street Swastika: The Prince Does A Nazi Salute
“I haven’t seen Adolf Hitler now for over six years,” Dora exclaimed. “But that is him for sure. Nobody else has that intense expression when he talks. And he is so animated. He must be talking about his political ideas.”
“And the Prince is taking it in all right!” Edward observed. “He is all eyes and ears.”
“A catastrophic situation in the making!” Winston groaned. “But there is little I can do directly. I can hardly fly at them and break it up. After all I am only a humble MP, and the Prince must have attendants with him who are just out of view. I think we will have to be a bit more subtle.”
Edward nodded. “What do you have in mind?”
Winston took a waiter aside. “Is anybody occupying the dining room on the other side of those guests?” he pointed. “You know, on the other side of the curtains?”
The waiter shook his head. “No, it is totally vacant right now.”
“Good!” Winston decided on the spur of the minute. “Set a table for three right now.”
Dora opened her pocketbook and thrust a one hundred pound note at the man as a big tip. But then he was doing an awfully big favor for them.
As they entered the spare dining room behind the waiter Dora noticed that Winston put his finger to his lips for silence. They were not to speak to him at all. In fact, he was handing them tablets. They were supposed to write to each other while eating lunch whenever they had something to say.
They were seated at the table close to the curtain that separated them from the other room. Hitler’s voice carried through the thin separation that at least concealed their identities and their presences. Winston pointed at the menu, and the waiter scribbled down their orders for filet of sole with lemon sauce with white wine to drink.
Hitler’s interpreter could be heard of the clanking of the silverware, since Herr Hitler did not speak much English. “The head of the Nazi Party here has invited you here to day, Your Majesty, because he has heard that you are interested in the fate of the German people.”
“Indeed my family has German roots itself in the House of Hannover south of Hamburg in Lower Saxony,” the Prince replied. “We were invited to come to Britain and rule at the beginning of the eighteenth century and have been there ever since. But more recently I have traveled extensively in Germany and frankly I have enjoyed myself immensely. The beer halls, the wursts, the folk festivals, the nightlife, just the people themselves!” the Prince sounded as if he were throwing his arms out in exclamation to emphasize his point.
“So you care what happens to them?” Herr Hitler said through his interpreter.
“Yes indeed, you could say I do. I care perhaps almost as much what happens to the German people as I care what happens to my own subjects here in England,” the Prince exclaimed.
Winston showed Dora a note he had scribbled. “The Prince is making one of his wild statements that can get him in trouble. He isn’t very prudent. If the newspapers published that statement, can you imagine what kind of sensation it would create?”
Edward scribbled back, “We must prevent the Times from hearing anything about it.”
“His Majesty would be so embarrassed and chagrined if this got out he would not know what to do,” Churchill insisted.
They hardly had time to settle their doubts when Hitler’s interpreter was at it again. “Herr Hitler is advancing one of his most trusted party members, Wilhelm Frick, to be the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Education in Thuringia. He has seen what a mess the present Weimar government has made of it. Democracy might be all right in America —- and Herr Hitler wonders even about that —- but in Germany It has brought the nation to ruin and bankruptcy. Look at the recent stockmarket crash for instance.”
“Yes, yes, the Americans are a bit too impulsive,” the Prince agreed. He sounded as if he were eager to hear much more, too.
Hitler spoke in an impassioned tone. His interpreter continued to translate. Dora was beginning to wonder if even the translator could keep up with the would be Dictator: “Germany needs a firm hand. The Fatherland deserves order. There is too much influence from foreign sources. There is not just the disorder of the stock market, jobs are being taken from the honest German workers by Eastern types such as Slavs and Jews as well who are willing to work for less than an honest day’s wage.”
“Yes,” the Prince agreed, “I have visited Berlin and Vienna. I have seen such suspicious Eastern types with my own two eyes. It is very tragic for Germany. I have even seen such types hanging around London!”
Dora thought, How can the Prince be so stupid? Can’t he see that Hitler is trying to take advantage of him?
The interpreter continued, “Herr Hitler wants jobs for Germans and a state that operates only for the interests of Germans. He wants to elevate German traditions that work here in the Fatherland and expel all alien foreign types from the country. And Frick will begin this process in Thuringia so other German states can look on and envy and want to be just like her.”
“Yes, yes, I would like to be part of this. It sounds far more exciting than my present duties here.” The Prince yawned. “If I have to attend another cricket match or boring horse race or make a speech about some insipid British business that has just been started, I will scream! But is there anything I could do in person?”
Winston visibly cringed. He almost dropped his fork to reveal his presence on the other side of the curtain but caught it at the last minute. He scribbled on a piece of paper: This would be a calamity to have a member of the British royal family in Germany promoting an upstart like Hitler! It would lend him way too much respectability. Worse, it might even start something unimaginable here in Britain.”
Dora knew it would not get anywhere in America, but this was Europe. Americans hated Dictators, and that was that.
Hitler spoke and then the translator spoke, “You could attend Herr Hitler’s next rally in Nuremberg when he introduces Frick to the crowd.”
Winston could not resist the urge to pull back the curtain just an inch or two. Dora and Edward leaned over so they could see. The Prince of Wales was doing the unbelievable. He was not only shaking Herr Hitler’s hand he was doing the Nazi salute.
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Chapter 14: Wall Street Swastika: Hitler at the Savoy:
Winston Churchill instantly scribbled a response and told the trusted messenger to take it back to zu Putlitz at once. They all waited nervously for a reply. This could be a scandal of major proportions. The wayward Prince of Wales was known to get himself into all sorts of trouble despite the warnings of his father the King and his more cautious mother. He needed supervising to say the very least. And no doubt Hitler was just the sort of savvy politician to take full advantage of such naiveté.
Putlitz himself appeared as Winston had requested. He was in a hurry to rush up the stairs to Winston’s suite of room at Morpeth Mansions. Winston’s wife had the hot soup ready to serve along with tea sandwiches. She brought out her silver tea service and got very serious pouring the boiling hot water into the teacups.
Putlitz handed Winston a photo he had taken of Herr von Wessel and his wife meeting with officials at the German Embassy to arrange the meeting with the Prince as soon as possible. He had a photo of Herr von Wessel signing a letter which his wife slipped into a fancy envelope. Then she hand addressed it with a very ornate style handwriting which she must have been practicing or even learning just for this special occasion. They sealed the envelope and handed it back to their messenger with a smile.
Winston handed the photos to Edward and Dora to examine. Dora could appreciate the wily ways of the von Wessels, having experienced them herself on many previous occasions. They seemed to be planning something particularly wicked to judge by their smiling, cagey face expressions and the way the husband and wife were casting each other pregnant looks.
“When is the appointed time?” Winston questioned Putlitz in his flowery language.
“I overheard that it was to be tomorrow at five in the main ballroom at the Embassy,” he revealed.
“We don’t have much time,” Edward observed. “We’ve got to stop them right away or it will be too late.”
“I don’t want to alarm their Majesties. I shall have to take care of this myself,” Winston asserted. He headed to his offices at Parliament accompanied by Dora and Edward. He started to search through filing cabinet after dusty filing cabinet for a copy of the original lease. The German government was after all leasing Prussia House from Parliament. He wanted to acquaint himself with the terms. He called file clerk after file clerk. Finally he found what he was looking for. The lease was expired and never renewed!
“So they are there illegally!” Edward exclaimed.
Churchill had a secretary type up a lease with very disadvantageous terms. He picked a functionary and carefully instructed him not to answer any questions about who sent him. He was just to say “a committee of Parliament”. That ought to put the kinks in their sails!
Mrs. Churchill, Churchill, Dora, and Edward were enjoying a hot cup of tea at Morpeth Mansions waiting for the boy’s return smiling to themselves when he came back with a blank look. “I could not find a soul. The Embassy was deserted.”
“What!” exclaimed Churchill. “But this is the very hour of infamy when they are supposed to be corrupting the Prince of Wales under the very noses of the British people.” He had instructed the boy to head to the very chamber and wing of the building.
The messenger shrugged.
Churchill got on the phone. He called around London to his confederates and associates. Had anybody seen the bastards?
“Hello!” Winston answered the phone. It was a favorite waiter from the Savoy Hotel which he liked to frequent, not somebody he had contacted by somebody who was calling spontaneously because he had observed what he thought Churchill might be interested in.
“What! The von Wessels are in the main dining room of the Savoy Hotel!” he exclaimed. “They have rented a room. The Prince has just appeared! This is infamy!”
When he hung up Edward guessed, “Maybe they caught on that you were up to something.”
“We will figure that out later,” Churchill chose his favorite bowler hat and they were out the door in a rush. Edward drove Churchill and Dora to the Savoy and ditched the car on the sidewalk for the flunkies to park.
They rushed into the lobby. They headed for the main dining room where all eyes among the guests were agog. There sat His Majesty at tea with not only the von Wessels but Adolf Hitler himself!
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Chapter 13: Wall Street Swastika: Putlitz to the Rescue
The German Embassy in London, otherwise known as Prussia House, seemed to be a seedbed of sedition and intrigue. They took up temporary residence at Winston’s London town house, Morpeth Mansions, to attempt to unravel what was going on. There was an uptick in activity there around the clock since the Wall Street Crash. That much was obvious.
After they had crashed the gambling party they had to be more cautious. No more would they be invited to the more Nazi-leaning events. They needed to find somebody who could slip in and out unimpeded and get information for them what the Nazis in London were up to, what their communications with Germany were like, and what was going to happen next so they could try to avert it or combat it.
Winston made a point of reaching out for contacts among his own contacts. He had the Prof down from Oxford to lunch one day. He suggested an old college chum of his name Putlitz. He had recently attended an Oxford alumnae event. Putlitz, an employee of the German Embassy in London, had been at the cocktail party. He had done nothing but complain about the rising power across the North Sea.
Winston, always a treasure trove of ideas, had another brilliant one. He summoned his wife, Clementine, down to London from the family estate at Chartwell in Kent. She was to arrange a dinner. The only guests were to be Colonel Sir Edward Ware, Mrs. Byrne, the Prof from Oxford, and this man from the German Embassy, su Putlitz. In other words, he invited only other members of the Lawrence map plot. He was clearly going to discuss business.
Putlitz shook his hand heartily and told Winston he had heard about him as a backbencher MP who almost all alone among the government and the British upper class was an enemy of the Nazis. Putlitz was dressed in the old style in a rather fussy fashion. He was a member of the German nobility, thus the “su” in his last name. He was from an old Prussian family with an estate in the country not far from Berlin, in fact situated about halfway between Hamburg and Berlin. He had always been proud to serve at the German Embassy since his family had much business and London and had spent much time there. He had a townhouse not far from Morpeth Mansions. But recently the German presence in England had been corrupted by Adolf Hitler, who was some sort of upstart from Austria who had appeared in Germany not long after the Great War. He had been imprisoned in Bavaria after the Putsch in 1923. Putlitz had thought he would never heard about the bastard again. And now here he was during the past few weeks creating an uproar all over Germany.
“Yes, and holding gambling events in the German Embassy in London of all things!” shuddered Clementine as she directed the server to present another glass of vintage wine to Putlitz.
“Edward always told me that the German Embassy was a staid place full of respectable people!” Dora agreed.
“That was under the old ambassador!” Putlitz cringed visibly. “But these days no one has any manners or sense of tradition anymore, least of all this Adolf Hitler character. He would not be above turning the Embassy into a brothel if it would provide enough money for his nefarious political activities.”
“Especially since the German government has been forced by Hitler to appoint Herr von Wessel as the commercial attache at the German Embassy,” Edward added. “That man has financed Hitler since before anybody ever heard about him. He goes back to 1918 and 1919 before Hitler even knew he was going to be a Nazi, Herr von Wessel had joined the party.”
“And that awful wife of his, Frau von Wesel, is even worse,” Winston wriggled his nose.
Clementine shook her head and sighed.
“This is why we need you to work for us,” Winston leaned closer to su Putlitz. “I can’t really pay you much for all the danger you will be risking, but we need the information badly if we are to do anything to counteract this rising star of the Nazi Party.”
Putlitz agreed. “That is why I came here tonight. I want to do something about it even if it costs me my family fortune.”
“That is the sort of fellow we need to hear from!” Winston called for his box of cheroots and offered one to su Putlitz. They toasted to Putlitz’s success.
“My family has always backed the old traditions,” Putlitz assured them. “And England has always been our greatest friend.”
Dora and Edward were having dinner with Winston and the Prof at Morpeth Mansions about one week later when su Putlitz sent a message by a trusted messenger to Winston. Winston tore it open and read it through silently first. Then he read it aloud as Dora leaned as close as she could to hear better:
“I want to warn you that Herr von Wessel and his wife, Frau von Wessel, are up to something big. And this is particularly heinous. Herr and Frau von Wessel are inviting the Prince of Wales to a private dinner to meet Nazi Party officials being sent there from Germany. The Prince is known for his lack of discretion and can be easily influenced and in addition has a big pocketbook. This private dinner at the Embassy is scheduled for this Friday. Sorry not to give you more notice. But we don’t want to involve a crowned head in what should be a major scandal.”
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