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August Niemann - Coming Conquest of England

August Niemann - Coming Conquest of England

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Published by: Ivan Bozhkov on Dec 03, 2011
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On arriving at his office close to the Duke of Wellington Hotel, Heideck found his staff extremely busy.
One lieutenant was looking through the French and German newspapers for important information;
another was studying the Russian and English journals. The last were few in number and not of recent
date, limited to those which had been smuggled across from England by daring skippers and fishermen.
There were several despatches from St. Petersburg, containing news of fresh victories in India.

The Russian army had pushed on to Lucknow without any further engagement worth mentioning having
taken place since the battle of Delhi. It seemed as if the English were for the time unwilling to meet the
enemy in the open field. They apparently calculated that the heat and the enormous length of their line of
communication would prevent the Russians from reaching the southern provinces in sufficient strength to
overcome an energetic resistance there. But Heideck no longer believed in the possibility of such a
resistance, concluding from the announcement of a stream of reinforcements arriving through the Khyber
Pass that all the Russian losses would be speedily made up. In his opinion, practically the only thing left
for the English was to embark the remnants of their army at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, and to get a
portion at least of their beaten forces safely out of India.

While he was in his office, despatches were continually arriving from Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Brest, and
Cherbourg. The intelligence department of the entire north coast was under Heideck's control.

Except for isolated naval engagements, the strategic position had, on the whole, remained unaltered for
months. Both sides hesitated to risk a decisive battle. The English fleets did not venture to attack the
enemy's harbours; the combined squadrons of the continental Powers seemed no more inclined to try
their fortune on the open sea. Each was endeavouring to get in touch with the other, waiting for the
favourable moment when his adversary's weakness might offer the prospect of successful action.

"The risks these dwellers on the coast run are astonishing," said one of Heideck's staff. "They cross the
Channel in their fishing- boats and slip by the warships. The man who brought the last English papers told
me that he passed close by them to give the impression that there was nothing wrong. It needed
considerable courage to risk that."

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"But the enemy's spies are equally efficient. Yesterday, more by accident than any merit of my own, I
caught a herring fisher in the mouth of the Schelde who was in English pay; I think I have hit on an
apparently important clue, which I intend to follow up in Antwerp, after reporting myself to the

"He is no longer in Flushing. He has left for Antwerp with the Minister for War and the chief of the
General Staff; I am told he has matters of importance to arrange with the chief of the French General

"Have you heard anything more definite as to the nature of these matters?"

"Only that the question of further mobilisation is to be discussed. Apparently, however, the six army
corps, which we now have on a war footing, are thought to be enough on our side. We are not waging
war by land; why then should the burden of a further mobilisation be imposed upon the people?"

"Certainly, the sacrifices entailed by this war are enormous without that; trade and industry are
completely ruined."

"The only gainer by this universal conflagration is America. Since the war broke out, the United States
has supplied England with everything she used to get from the Continent."

"Well, it will all come right in the end. Now, as there seems nothing urgent for me to do here, it is time I
went to Antwerp."

. . . . . . .

Eberhard Amelungen was unable to conceal his confusion, when an officer in the uniform of the Prussian
General Staff appeared at the door of his private office.

Amelungen was a man about sixty years of age, a typical specimen of a substantial, respectable

"I am somewhat surprised, sir," he said in measured tones. "What can I do for you?"

Heideck introduced himself, and without wasting words told him the reason of his visit.

"I have reason to believe, Herr Amelungen, that you hold in your hands some, if not all, of the chief
meshes of a widespread net of espionage. And I think it would be to your interest to tell me the whole
truth of your own accord. We know so much already that presumably it will be of little use to you to have
recourse to lies."

Amelungen played with his penholder, but his hands trembled visibly, and words failed him. His face had
turned ashy pale, and Heideck could not help feeling sorry for him.

"I regret that my duty obliges me to proceed against you," he continued. "I can easily understand your
motives. You are a Netherlander and a patriot, and, as perhaps you do not quite understand the political
situation, the occupation of your country by a foreign power appears to you an act of violence, which fills
you with anger and hatred against us. Therefore I think I may promise you that you will be treated as
leniently as possible, if you make my task easy by an open confession."

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Eberhard Amelungen shook his head.

"I know nothing of what you charge me with," he said feebly. "You have the power, and can do as you
please with me. But I have nothing to confess."

"Not if I tell you that my information comes from the mouth of your own son?"

The merchant stared at the speaker with wide-open eyes full of anxiety.

"From the mouth of my own son? But--I have no son."

"Then M. Camille Penurot also was lying when he said you were his father?"

"For God's sake be merciful! Don't torture me! What is the matter with Camille? Where is he?"

"He has been caught spying. What will happen to him depends on your own behaviour."

Eberhard Amelungen sank back in his stool in a state of collapse.

"My God! you don't mean to put him in prison? or to shoot him?"

"As you may imagine, his fate is not in my hands alone. But in this instance my influence may perhaps be
considerable, and it would certainly have weight if I threw it into the scale in your favour and his.
Therefore I again ask you to consider whether, as things are, it would not be best for you to be perfectly
frank with me. Those who are behind you can no longer protect you, and your only hope lies in the
leniency of the German authorities. Do not reject the possibility of securing this leniency."

The merchant was evidently carrying on a severe struggle with himself. After a few moments he raised
his head, and in an altered, defiant tone replied--

"Do what you like with me, I have nothing to confess."

Heideck then assumed a sterner, official demeanour.

"Then you must not complain if I begin to search your house."

"Do as you think fit. The victor can take what liberties he pleases."

Heideck opened the door and summoned two of the Berlin criminal police, who at his request had been
ordered to Antwerp on this affair with a large number of policemen. Certainly he felt sure in advance that
they would find nothing, for Eberhard Amelungen would have been very foolish not to have reckoned
long ago on the possibility of such a visit, and to have taken precautions accordingly. The Major, in
bringing the police with him, had thought more of the moral impression of the whole procedure. His
knowledge of men told him that it had its effect.

"One thing more, Herr Amelungen," said he. "About the same time as the search begins here, another
will take place in your private house. I expect the report of those entrusted with it at any moment."

Amelungen breathed hard. He looked nervously at Heideck, as if trying to read his thoughts. Then, after
a brief struggle with himself, he whispered--

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"Send these men out, Herr major! I should like to speak to you privately."

When Heideck had complied with his request, Amelungen continued, speaking hastily, and bringing out
his words with difficulty: "In me you see a man who deserves compassion, a man who has been, entirely
against his will and inclination, compromised. If anyone is guilty in this matter, it is my brother-in-law Van
Spranekhuizen and a lady correspondent of my wife in Brussels. Occasionally I have acted as agent,
when it was a matter of forwarding letters, or of handing over sums of money to the Countess--to the
lady; but I have never personally taken any part in the matters in question."

"That statement is not enough for me. I do not doubt the truth of what you say, but I must be informed of
all the details before I can drop further proceedings against you. Who is the lady you speak of?"

"A former maid of honour to the late Queen."

"Her name?"

"Countess Clementine Arselaarts."

"How did you come to know her?"

"She is a friend of my wife, who made her acquaintance last year when staying in Brussels."

"And your wife is English?"

"Yes; her maiden name was Irwin."

At the sound of this name a flood of painful recollections rushed over Heideck's mind.

"Irwin?" he repeated. "Has the lady by chance any relatives in the British army?"

"I had a brother-in-law, who was a captain in the Indian Lancers. But, according to the news that has
reached us, he was killed at the battle of Lahore."

The Major found it hard to control his excitement, but as if he had already allowed himself to be too long
diverted from his duty, he hastily returned to the real subject of his examination.

"You said that you have handed over certain sums of money to Countess Arselaarts. By whose order?
and on whose account?"

"On account of the English Government and on the order of an English banking house with which I have
had business dealings for many years."

"Were the sums large?"

"Latterly, on an average about 10,000 francs a month."

"And how were they paid?"

"Sometimes I sent the amount in cash, often by cheque on Brussels banks."

"Have you any evidence on the point--a receipt signed by the Countess?"

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Amelungen hesitated.

"I strongly advise you to keep nothing back from me. So much is at stake for you and your relatives who
are involved in this affair that it is of the utmost consequence that you should secure lenient treatment by a
frank confession."

"Well, then, I have some receipts."

"Please let me see them."

Amelungen pulled open a drawer in his writing-table, pressed a spring, and a secret compartment at the
back flew open.

"There they are!" said he, handing a small bundle of sheets of paper to Heideck. But the Major's keen
eye had noticed, as he glanced rapidly at the compartment, that it contained some other papers, which he
politely but firmly demanded to see.

"They are private letters of no importance," objected Amelungen, "some of my wife's correspondence,
which she accidentally left in my office. I don't know what they are about myself."

"Be assured that harmless private correspondence will not be abused. But I must claim the absolute right
to convince myself of the correctness of your assertions by examining them."

The merchant could see that there was no chance of getting out of it, and, visibly excited, handed the
little roll over to Heideck.

The Major took it, without examining the contents more closely at once.

"You definitely assure me, Herr Amelungen, that you have nothing else referring to this matter?"

"Nothing! I give you my word, Herr major."

Heideck got up.

"I charge you not to attempt to leave the town or in any other way evade the German authorities. You
will guarantee this not only as regards yourself, but also as regards your wife; and you will further promise
me to break off at once all relations with the persons involved in this espionage affair, unless at our order,
or in agreement with us."

Eberhard Amelungen, whose powers of resistance seemed completely broken in this painful hour,
nodded assent.

"I promise both, Herr major!"

Heideck, having left a criminal official with instructions to keep watch, repaired without delay to the
office of Lieutenant-Colonel Nollenberg, head of the intelligence department for Antwerp. He informed
him of the result of his conversation and examined the confiscated papers in his presence.

A large number were letters from the Countess Clementine Arselaarts to Frau Beatrix Amelungen, and
their contents were harmless, with the exception of a few expressions advising watchfulness and

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But in a special envelope, sealed several times, there was a sheet of paper, covered with close writing,
which could not be read offhand, since the letters were apparently jumbled together quite arbitrarily and

"A cipher!" said Heideck. "But we shall soon get to the bottom of it. You have some capable
interpreters at your disposal, and it might be a good thing if they set to work at once."

He continued his examination, and suddenly the blood rushed to his face, for in his hands he held a letter,
the handwriting of which he recognised at the first glance as Edith's. Its contents were as follows:--

"DEAR BEATRICE,--As you see, I am again in England. You know that I have returned a widow, and
you can believe that my experiences have been terrible. Your brother met an honourable death at
Lahore; with the utmost difficulty I myself succeeded in getting away from India under the protection of
Attorney-General Kennedy and his family. I should have to fill a book if I were to tell you all the horrors
of our journey. But this is not the proper time to complain of the melancholy lot of an individual. We are
all strangers and pilgrims on earth, and must bear the cross that is laid upon us.

"The immediate reason of my writing to-day is that I want your opinion on a certain matter. When I
arrived at my parents' house, I heard that uncle Godfrey had died on the 16th of April. I do not know
whether you have already heard of this, as regular communication with the Continent is interrupted. My
uncle Godfrey has left a will, dividing his property equally between you as his niece and my deceased
husband. His property was larger than my husband thought. After division, both you and my husband
would have had a yearly income of 5,000 pounds. Now your brother has died without having disposed
of his property. But my lawyer tells me that, as his sole heiress, I can claim his share of the inheritance.
To arrange about this I have come here to Dover; for I found that I could only get the letter forwarded to
Antwerp with the assistance of Admiral Hollway, who is charged with the protection of our coast. To my
surprise the Admiral informed me that your name was known to him, and he willingly undertook to
forward this letter to you. Now please consent to uncle Godfrey's property being divided between you
and me. I do not believe you will have any objection, but I consider it a duty to obtain your definite
consent. I shall be glad to hear from you that you are well.

"Yours truly,


"P.S.--In India I made the acquaintance of a German officer who rendered me great service during the
terrible times of the war and saved my life more than once. He travelled with the Kennedys and myself on
the Caledonia to Naples. From there he went on to Berlin, while we continued our voyage on a
man-of-war through the Straits of Gibraltar to Southampton. This officer is a Captain Heideck of the
Prussian General Staff. I should be thankful to you if you would find out where he is at present. I am very
anxious to know his address. For a time I am staying in Dover. Letters addressed to Mrs. Jones, 7, St.
Paul's Street, will reach me."

The perusal of this letter revived a crowd of painful recollections in Heideck's mind. He never doubted
for a moment that the postscript, in which his name occurred, explained Edith's real object in writing. All
the rest was certainly a mere pretext; for he knew how indifferent Edith was in regard to money matters,
and was convinced that she was in no such hurry about the settlement of the inheritance as might have
been thought from her letter.

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The Lieutenant-Colonel approached him at this moment.

"It has taken less time to decipher the document than I had ventured to hope," said he. "I have
telegraphed at once to the police at Schleswig to arrest the writer, one Brodersen, without delay. Please
convince yourself what sort of friends we have amongst the Danes."

Heideck read as follows:--

"In the harbour of Kiel, the larger warships are the battleships Oldenburg, Baden, Wurttemberg, Bayern,
Sachsen; the large cruisers Kaiser, Deutschland, Konig Wilhelm; the small cruisers Gazelle, Prinzess
Wilhelm, Irene, Komet, and Meteor, with the torpedo division boats D 5 and D 6 with their divisions. In
addition, there are about 100 large and small steamers of the North-German Lloyd, the
Hamburg-America Line, the Stettin Company, and others. All the large steamers are equipped with
quick-firing cannon and machine-guns; the small, only with machine-guns. In the neighbourhood of Kiel
there are 50,000 infantry and artillery from Hanover, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and the province of
Saxony, with only two regiments of hussars. My friends' opinions differ as to the plans of the German
Government. Possibly ships of the line will proceed through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal and make a
combined attack with the Russian fleet on the British near Copenhagen.

"It is most probable that the fleet of transports will take on board the army collected at Kiel and convey
it through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal into the North Sea, where the German battleships now at Antwerp
will join the French squadrons from Cherbourg. An attempt would then be made, under cover of the
warships, to land the German army and the French troops from Boulogne at Dover, or some place near
on the English coast.

"I acknowledge the receipt of 10,000 francs from Mynheer van Spranekhuizen, but must ask you to
send a further sum twice that amount. My agents are risking their lives, and will not work for less."

"You, too, my dear Brodersen, have risked your life," said the Lieutenant-Colonel seriously. "I should
not like to give much for it at the present moment."

"These notes are very instructive," observed Heideck. "If we strengthen Admiral Hollway in the belief
that we intend to land the German troops in England from Antwerp and not from Kiel, our fleet of
transports at Kiel will be able to cross the North Sea all the more safely and effect the landing in

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