The Double ImageHelen Macinnes
ALSO BY HELEN MacINNES
AND AVAILABLE FROM TITAN BOOKS
Pray for a Brave Heart
Assignment in Brittany
North From Rome
Decision at Delphi
The Venetian Affair
The Salzburg Connection
Message From Málaga
While We Still Live
Neither Five Nor Three
Snare of the Hunter
Agent in Place
The Double Image
Print edition ISBN: 9781781163283
E-book edition ISBN: 9781781164419
Published by Titan Books
A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 0UP
First edition: December 2012
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© 1966, 2012 by the Estate of Helen MacInnes. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
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To the men who don’t get medals
Table of Contents
About the Author
April in Paris, and a sprinkle of rain, a sudden whip of cool breeze, a greying sky to end the bright promise of the evening. John Craig decided that his saunter along the Boulevard Saint-Germain might come to a quick end any moment now, and began looking in earnest for a place of retreat.
He stretched his spine, bringing his height up to six feet, to let him look over the heads of the crowd and search for the café he wanted. His face, rugged in its features, was normally pleasant in expression, as if he were trying to soften the starker effect of a strong jaw and firm mouth. His eyes, under well-marked brows, were grey and alert; his neatly cut hair was dark and thick. He carried himself well, shoulders straight, waistline taut. He had the easy stride of an athlete; and yet, here again, he underplayed the effect by avoiding any flamboyance or overconfidence in his movements. An amiable young man, strangers thought when they met him, rather quiet on the whole. Later, they might change that opinion: he underplayed his real interests, too, as if he thought intellectual display was just another form of boasting, unnecessary if you were any good, embarrassing if you weren’t. At this moment, the expression on his face was one of minor irritation. Damned fool, he told himself, to leave his raincoat back at the hotel.
The cafés were numerous along this stretch of the boulevard, some big and brassy, others dim and dreary, most of them with rows of little outside tables nudging the traffic on the broad pavement into a narrow stream. People hurried, either because of the time of day (half-past five, a home to reach, friends to meet) or because of the threat of a soaking. Only one man, walking slowly towards Craig, seemed totally purposeless. He came to a halt, oblivious of the people behind, of their jostling and open annoyance as they manoeuvred around him. Craig, his own path blocked by the bottleneck, drew aside to the kerb and let three pretty girls regain their flouncing formation, then a stout woman pass with a bulging shopping bag and a bouquet of celery, then an old muttering man, then two young bearded men who had seized the chance to squeeze by, then—hey, enough of that! Craig stopped being polite and pushed on, glancing reprovingly at the day-dreamer who had started it all. Dreamer? No. The man’s face was pale, worried, frightened. His fine dark eyes, deep set, stared unseeingly at Craig. And at that instant, Craig recognised the high broad brow, the long narrowing face, the prominent nose and vanishing hairline. “Why,” he said in complete astonishment, “it’s Professor Sussman—” and broke off, embarrassed. Sussman, at the sound of his name, at the friendly voice, had left his own world of dark thought. His eyes stopped staring blindly; now they were alive again, but puzzled, half-recognition dawning.
Craig wished he had just walked on and left the eminent Professor of Art and Archaeology formulating some new idea about Etruscan tombs right on a busy Paris street. “I took one of your courses at Columbia,” he said awkwardly, “just the year before you left for Berkeley.” He made a quick grab for Sussman’s arm as the man’s small thin body was shouldered aside, almost off the pavement.
Sussman was smiling, the old warmth back in his eyes. “I remember, I remember. Carr, isn’t it?”
“Craig. John Craig.”
Sussman’s quick rushing voice said impatiently, “Carr or Craig, I am still sorry I did not convince you to become an archaeologist. You had the proper questioning mind. Modern History, weren’t you? See, I do remember!” His hand was tight, his voice suddenly intense.
Craig’s embarrassment deepened. There was too much emotion here for his taste. He tried, politely, to disengage his hand from Sussman’s grip. A strange city, taken at its most blaring and bustling hour, might bewilder an elderly scholar, but surely not to this point of despair. “There’s the second rain warning. I think I’d better—”
“Have a drink with me. You have time?” Again there was that pleading urgency in Sussman’s voice.
Craig nodded. He is the drowning man and I am the lifebelt, he thought. “If you don’t mind retracing your steps, we might just manage to reach the Deux Magots before the rain really sets in. Actually, I was heading there when I—”
Professor Sussman looked back along the boulevard, shook his head. “Too busy, too noisy. I know of another place.”
You do? wondered Craig. So you aren’t lost in Paris? But he said nothing, found he was retracing his steps with Professor Sussman’s arm guiding his elbow.
“Around the corner,” Sussman directed. “I used to come here when I lived in Paris. That was in the days of my exile. Just before the war. In fact, it was the favourite café of the young intellectuals in the thirties.” He stopped in surprise, perhaps even in dismay, as they saw a narrow faded awning stretched over two miserable rows of small zinc tables. The tables were empty except for one couple, a young bearded man and a girl in a belted coat, sitting in gloomy silence. “Oh, well,” said Professor Sussman philosophically, “everything changes, nothing stays the same. Shall we sit outside, until the rain drives us in?”
That shouldn’t be long, Craig thought wryly; the narrow awning over the pavement of this dingy litt
le side street wouldn’t give much protection. Sussman, anyway, seemed improved in spirits; he was almost back to normal, a little lost in thought, but with no more blank fear staring nakedly out of his face. He had chosen a chair that let him watch the boulevard some fifty feet away, which left Craig with a view of the narrow street curving down towards some thin bare trees faintly touched with green. Its buildings were old and grimy with city air, too unimportant to be scrubbed and polished like the grand monuments of the New Paris. Across the street was a small night club which might be interesting six hours from now, a dingy printing shop, a battered-looking school resting from its labours. But there was also a clear view of the girl who sat five tables away, and even if she was sad and her lips drooping and her large eyes only aware of the knucklehead opposite her—what else could you call a man who’d make a girl like that look so unhappy and, judging by the angry tilt of his jaw, meant to keep her that way?—she was still a very pleasant view indeed.
Craig settled back in his chair, ordered Scotch, was surprised to hear Professor Sussman echo that. (Strange how you could attend a year of a man’s lectures, admire his books, stand in awe of his international reputation as a scholar, be amused by his ideas, and still not know one real thing about his personal tastes or his private life.) Craig lit a cigarette, listened to the soft fall of rain on the awning above him, studied the view. She was talking, now, in a voice too low to be identified. Was she French? English? There was no doubt about her companion: he had just raised his voice sharply, “For Christ’s sake—” The rest of the sentence was lost as he dropped his voice again.
Craig shook his head, half-smiled, looked at Professor Sussman for an acid comment. But the professor had been watching his own view—the corner of the boulevard, less busy now with people although the cars and buses still charged along its broad length like a herd of elephants stampeding from a forest fire. Strain had come back into Sussman’s face, but he was in control of his emotions. “No, don’t look round,” he warned quickly, as Craig shifted his chair a little to let him see the boulevard, too. “He has gone,” Sussman said softly. “He didn’t see us.” He was speaking almost to himself.
“Are you being followed?” Craig was incredulous enough to be blunt.
“I don’t know. Perhaps. It could be likely.”
“No matter now. He didn’t see us. Let’s talk about something more civilised. What are you doing in Paris? Are you working here, or visiting?”
“I’m on my way to the Mediterranean—Italy and Greece. Perhaps to Turkey, if the money holds out. I’d like to see Troy.”
“So! Perhaps I converted you a little?” Sussman was pleased. “Let me see—it is five years since you were coming to my lectures—the First World War, that was your field. Or have I forgotten?”
No, the professor was completely right. But he can’t be interested in me, Craig thought; he is really only trying to forget something else. All right, let’s take it from there. This may not be the way I planned to spend my first evening in Paris, but it seems I’m stuck with it, and I might as well make the most of it. What would Sussman think of my idea for a book?
Sussman was remembering hard. “Yes, that was it! Blockade as a weapon of war. Did you finish your thesis on that?”
Craig nodded. He smiled at himself a little. “Never could find a more appealing title.”
“We leave that to the historical novelists. And now you are travelling, and you will write a book?”
“If all goes well.” He felt pleased, flattered. Old Sussman really did remember him and some of his little ambitions.
“On more blockades? No, no—I am not laughing. It is an important subject. Anything that can help to decide the outcome of any war is something to be treated most seriously.” Sussman was speaking rapidly, with real interest, his own problem seemingly forgotten.
“I’m thinking not so much about the endings of war, now, as its beginnings. I’ve been doing some work on trade routes as motives for war.”
“Beginning with the Trojan War?” Sussman was even smiling broadly. “So you did believe some of my theories—”
“Couldn’t forget them,” Craig admitted with a grin. He hadn’t accepted all of them, but Sussman had certainly opened the doors of history wide.
“Then ancient historians have some use, even to young economists? And where will you end your book? Trade routes and colonies and coaling stations have had their eras. Of course, you might say that today the new control points for extension of power are newspapers, radio, televis—Something wrong?”
“Nothing.” Craig hoped his voice was nonchalant enough. Better, he decided quickly, to appear inattentive and stupid than have Sussman turn his head to look down the little street. “Just watching the rain, and wondering if it will clear before I have to leave.” Just watching the rain and the narrow curve of street, and the man who had come walking slowly into view, then stopped, looking at the café, and stepped back into a doorway. “If I can’t get a taxi over to the Tuileries, is there any short cut I could take? You know Paris well, don’t you? This little street—where does it lead?” His suspicion was idiotic, he told himself, but he waited anxiously for the answer to his apparently innocent question.
“Back to the Boulevard Saint-Germain. It wanders around like so many little Paris streets.” Sussman shook his head, looking at Craig’s flannel suit. “Americans always think Europe in spring means sunshine and warm evenings.” He himself was wearing heavy tweeds under his raincoat, even rubbers over his shoes.
“How long did you live in Paris?” The man in the doorway was lighting a cigarette. And what was abnormal about that, or even the fact that he waited in a doorway on a rain-soaked street? Craig tried to concentrate on his drink, to ignore the fact that the man could have been the same one who had worried Sussman. Idiotic, he told himself again.
“I left Germany in 1934. I went to Rome, then Athens. In 1936, I came here. I taught, and wrote my first articles, and married a French girl, and had two children. And then, in 1940—” Sussman threw up his hands. “Friends sheltered my wife and children, got them false names, false papers, saved them. There wasn’t much that could be done to disguise me.” He tapped his nose, smiling, but watching Craig closely. “I almost reached the Swiss border. I ended in Auschwitz. And that is why, my friend, I am in Europe. To bear witness. I have been in Frankfurt—”
“The trials?” Good God, no wonder Sussman had looked as if he had been visiting a mortuary. “That must have been a painful experience.”
“It had to be done. I am one of the survivors of Auschwitz who could testify against a certain group of Nazis.”
“And they pleaded they were only taking orders?” Craig asked in derision.
Sussman nodded. “Their plea was true. That is one of the grim aspects of that trial. Because the man who directed their operations, or at least the man who seemed to be in charge when I saw him at Auschwitz—” He paused, his eyes staring at the table. “That man is buried in the British sector of Berlin. I went there to see that grave.” He closed his eyes. “His name was Heinrich Berg.”
“Well, that’s all over now. You’ve only to finish your visit to Paris and go back to California. How do you like Berkeley?” The man in the doorway was still there. Waiting for a friend? The rain had almost stopped.
Sussman’s instant look of delight, almost child-like in its wonder, transformed his face. “We live on top of a hill. We have a view of the Bay, of the sunset over the Pacific. And in the garden—did you know you can have an orange fruit and blossom both on the same tree at the same time?”
Craig had to smile, too.
“And tulips bloom at the same time as roses!”
“I didn’t know you were a gardener.” And when did tulips usually bloom anyway?
“Oh, Marie is the gardener. I watch from my study, and give advice. I’m leaving Paris tomorrow. I’ll be home by Friday.”
Home... So the exile had found hi
“I wouldn’t have come to Paris, except Marie wanted me to visit her people, bring back a first-hand report. I shall have to invent a lot of nice things about them. I never liked them, and now they are more stupid and selfish than ever. It was fortunate I had the good sense to stay at a hotel. Families!” He shook his head over them. Then he noticed that Craig’s interest had been slipping away. He gazed over his shoulder to look, too, at the table where the couple sat. “I don’t think their talk has been so friendly as ours,” he said. “Shaw was right: youth is much too good to be wasted on the young. And she is quite beauti—” He did not finish the word. His eyes dilated; he turned back to face Craig. From the doorway down the street, the man had stepped out and was walking towards the café.
“Shall we leave? Can I take you back to your hotel?” Craig suggested. The man was still some distance away, walking slowly.
“No. That would be an admission... Besides, I must make sure I was not wrong when I saw him the first time.”
“An admission of what?” Craig’s concern grew as he noticed the return of fear in Sussman’s eyes.
“That I have recognised him. If it is he. Perhaps it isn’t.” There was more self-encouragement than real hope in that phrase.
Or perhaps Sussman had been thinking too much about Auschwitz. “When did you first see this character?”
“On the Boulevard Saint-Germain. I was buying a paper. Suddenly, he stood beside me. He waited for me to look at him.”
“Waited?” This is crazy, thought Craig. He looked at Sussman’s long, intent face, uncomfortably, nervously.
“I don’t think he saw my panic. I think—I hope I kept my face frozen. I walked away. And then, only a few minutes later, the shock really struck me.” Sussman’s voice was almost in a whisper now.
“Because I had just seen a dead man walking the streets of Paris.”
The slow footsteps stopped. A chair scraped as the man sat down. He took off his hat, shook off raindrops, turned down the collar of his black coat. He was fairly tall, well fed and well exercised, somewhere around fifty, with a slight wave in his dark hair, touched with grey at the temples, and a calm, almost benign look on a remarkably handsome face. He ordered a vermouth cassis in quick authentic French, and paid no attention at all either to the young couple or to Sussman and Craig. He could have been a lawyer or a diplomat or a business executive or—as things went nowadays—a leader of a large trade union. Successful and tactfully prosperous and, certainly at this moment, no threat to anyone. A man who had been caught in a heavy shower of rain, taken shelter, stopped at the nearest café for a drink just like a dozen other people—for there were others appearing in the little street, now that the rain had ended, and several were even heading towards the awning.