The Ethics Of Espionage

: The Coming Conquest Of England

The steamer from Karachi to Bombay had about twenty officers and a

larger number of noncommissioned officers and men on board who had been

wounded in the first engagements on the frontier. The sight of them was

not calculated to relieve the gloomy feelings of the English travellers,

although during the three days of the voyage the weather was magnificent

as they proceeded through the bright, blue sea along the west coast of
r /> India, so lavishly supplied with the beauties of Nature.

The harbour of Bombay, one of the most beautiful in the world, presented

a singularly altered appearance to those who had seen it on previous

visits. There was a complete absence of the French, German, and Russian

merchantmen, which usually lay at anchor in considerable numbers;

besides English steamers there were only a few Italian and Austrian

vessels in the roadstead.

The steamer from Karachi cast anchor not far from the Austrian Lloyd

steamer Imperatrix, from Trieste, and the passengers were taken from the

Apollo Bandar in small boats to the landing-stage.

Heideck took up his quarters with his new English friends at the

Esplanade Hotel. The admirably conducted house was well known to him,

since he had stayed there a few days on his arrival in India. But the

appearance of the hotel had altered during the interval as completely as

that of the European quarter of the city, from which all life seemed to

have disappeared. The ravages of the plague might have had something to

do with it, but the main cause was the war, which made its presence felt

in the absence of various elements of life which at other times were

especially remarkable.

Formerly the meeting-place of fashionable society, nearly all its guests

at the present time were connected with the army; the few ladies were in

mourning, and an oppressive silence prevailed during meals.

Mr. Kennedy, immediately on his arrival, had paid a visit to the

Governor in Heideck's interest and returned with good news. He

had obtained permission for the young German to leave India by the

Caledonia, which was starting in a few days with a considerable number

of sick and wounded officers. The route to be taken was the usual one by

Aden and Port Said. Those passengers who intended to travel further by

the railway would be landed at Brindisi, the destination of the steamer

being Southampton.

"So we shall have the pleasure of your company as far as Brindisi,"

said Mr. Kennedy, turning to Heideck. The latter bowed, to show the old

gentleman that he had interpreted his intentions correctly.

An expression of violent alarm overspread Edith's face, when the

contradiction which she might assuredly have expected did not follow.

She got up to go to her room, but, passing close by Heideck, she found

an opportunity to whisper, "To-night on the balcony! I must speak to


After dinner Heideck and Mr. Kennedy sat smoking on the terrace in front

of the dining-room. A warm sea-breeze rustled through the banyan trees,

with their thick, shining arch of foliage. Heideck again thanked the old

gentleman for his kindly efforts on his behalf.

"I have only repaid to a very moderate extent all you have done for us,"

replied Mr. Kennedy. "Besides, there was no difficulty in the matter. I

told the Governor that you were a German and a friend of my family,

who had rendered most valuable service to an English lady and myself.

Certainly, I thought that I might with a good conscience say nothing

about your being a soldier, which might easily have caused all kinds

of difficulties. With all my patriotism, I do not reproach myself

very severely for this reticence. For what military secrets could you

disclose in Berlin? Our disasters are plain for all to see, and the

papers are filled with news and conjectures."

"Certainly. The real purpose of my journey has been overtaken by events

and rendered pointless."

"And this object--if I may speak without mincing words--was espionage.

Is not that the case, Mr. Heideck?"

"Espionage in the same sense that the despatch of ambassadors, ministers

plenipotentiary, and military or naval attaches is espionage," replied

Heideck, visibly annoyed.

"Oh, I think there is a slight difference in their case. All these

gentlemen's names and duties are known beforehand, and they are

expressly accredited in their character of diplomatists."

"Mr. Kennedy, I could never think of justifying myself to you, for I

have not the least reason to be ashamed of my mission. The military

authorities of every country must have information as to the military

condition of other powers, even though war is not definitely expected or

contemplated. In order to be equipped against all eventualities, it is

necessary to know the forces and resources of other powers, no matter

whether, in case of war, they would be enemies or allies."

Mr. Kennedy, evidently irritated, replied: "It almost seems as if we

English had grossly neglected this precaution. The Russians would

hardly have surprised us, if we had known how to calculate with German


"Well, I hardly believe that the English method in this respect is

different from ours. Your Government, like the German, doubtless sent

officers everywhere to obtain information. Just as the General Staff in

Berlin collects information about all foreign armies, fortifications,

and boundaries, I have no doubt that the same thing happens in London.

Besides, it is a purely theoretical procedure, just like the drawing up

of schemes of war to suit all cases. In reality, things usually turn

out quite differently from what is expected. The present war is the most

convincing proof of this. I was sent here to study the Anglo-Indian army

and the Russo-Indian frontiers, although we had no presentiment that war

was imminent, and had made no plans for attacking India. The folly

of such an idea is obvious. Further, if you regard me as a spy, Mr.

Kennedy, I beg you will have no scruple about informing the Governor of

my real character. I am ready at any time to justify myself before the

English authorities."

Mr. Kennedy held out his hand to him.

"You have misunderstood me, my dear Mr. Heideck. Your personal honour is

to me so far beyond all doubt, that I should never think for a moment

of putting you on a level with those spies who are tried for their lives

when caught."

At this moment one of the barefooted waiters, dressed in white, came

running and shouting into the saloon, "Great victory near Delhi! total

defeat of the Russian army!" at the same time triumphantly waving a

printed paper in his hand.

Mr. Kennedy jumped up, tore the paper from the boy's hand, and read the

news given out by the Bombay Gazette.

"Yes, it is true," he cried, his face beaming with joy. "A victory,

a great, decisive victory! Heaven be thanked--the fortune of war has


He gave the bearer of the joyful news a piece of gold and hastened

to inform the ladies. Heideck, however, remained behind, immersed in

thought. The hotel soon became lively. The English ran here and there,

shouting to one another the contents of the despatch, while a growing

excitement gradually showed itself in the streets. In the so-called

fort, the European quarter of Bombay, torches were lighted and

feux-de-joie fired. Heideck took one of the traps standing in front

of the hotel and ordered the driver to drive through the town. Here he

observed that the rejoicings were confined to the fort. As soon as the

conveyance reached the town proper, he found that it presented the same

appearance as on his first visit, and that there was nothing to show

or indicate the occurrence of extraordinary events. In spite of the

lateness of the hour, the narrow streets were busy and full of traffic.

All the houses were lighted up, and all the doors open, affording a

view of the interior of the primitive dwellings, of the artisans busy

at their work, of the dealers plying their trade, of the housewives

occupied with their domestic affairs. Evidently the inhabitants troubled

no more about the war than about the terrible scourge of the Indian

population--the plague. The despatch announcing the victory, although

no doubt it was known in the native quarter, had evidently not made the

slightest impression.

About eleven o'clock Heideck returned to the hotel, where he found the

Kennedys and Edith still conversing eagerly on the terrace.

"Of course we shall not leave now," he declared. "As soon as the

Russians have evacuated the north, we shall return to Simla."

Heideck made no remark, and since the openly expressed and heartfelt joy

of the English affected him painfully, he soon took leave of them, and

went up to his room, which, like Edith's, was on the second storey.

According to the custom of the country, all the rooms opened on to the

broad balcony which ran round the whole floor like an outer corridor.

As a look from Edith had repeated her wish that he should wait for her

there, he stepped out on to the balcony. His patience was not put to

a severe trial. She must have quickly found an opportunity of escaping

from the Kennedys' society, for he saw her coming towards him even

sooner than he had expected.

"I thank you for waiting for me," she said, "but we cannot stay here,

for we should not be safe from surprise for a moment. Let us go into my


Heideck followed her with hesitation. But he knew that Edith would

feel insulted if he expressed any scruples at her request, for her firm

confidence in his chivalrous honour relieved her of all apprehension.

Only the moon, shining faintly, shed a dim light over the room. The

clock on the tower of the neighbouring university struck twelve.

"Destiny is playing a strange game with us," said Edith, who had seated

herself in one of the little basket chairs, while Heideck remained

standing near the door. "I confess that since the arrival of the news of

the victory I have spent some terrible hours, for the Kennedys have, in

consequence, abandoned their idea of leaving, and seem to take it for

granted that I shall remain with them in India."

"And would you not, in fact, be forced to do so, my dearest Edith?"

"So then you have already reckoned with this contingency? You would not,

surely, think of travelling without me? But perhaps you would even feel

relieved at being freed from me?"

"How can you say such things, Edith, which, I am sure, you do not


"Who knows? You are ambitious, and we poor women are never worse off

than when we have to do with ambitious men."

"But there is probably no necessity for us to torment ourselves with the

discussion of such contingencies. I have never for a moment believed in

any alteration of our arrangements for the journey."

"That is to say you doubt the trustworthiness of the report of the


"To speak frankly, I do. I did not wish to mortify the old gentleman and

spoil his shortlived joy. That is the reason why I did not express my

distrust in his presence. But the despatch does not really convey

the impression of being true. It does not even contain a more exact

statement of the place where the battle is said to have taken place.

It must, at least, strike the unprejudiced observer as being very


"But who would take the trouble to obtain the melancholy satisfaction of

deceiving the world in such a manner for a short time?"

"Oh, there are many who would be interested in doing so. In the course

of every war such false reports are always floating about, in most cases

without their origin being known. It may be a money-market manoeuvre."

"So you think it quite impossible that we can beat the Russians?"

"Not exactly impossible, but extremely improbable--at least while the

military situation remains what it is. Again, it is the absence of

definite information that surprises me. A victorious general always

finds time to communicate details, which the vanquished is only too glad

to defer. I am convinced that the bad news will soon follow, and that,

as far as our plans for the journey are concerned, everything will

remain as before."

Edith was silent. Her belief in Heideck was so unbounded that his

words had completely convinced her. But they did not restore the joyful

confidence of the last few days.

"Everything will remain as before?" she said at length. "That means you

will leave us at Brindisi."

"Certainly. There is no other way for me to reach the army."

"And suppose you abandon the idea of returning to the army altogether?

Have you never thought that we might find another foundation on which to

build our future happiness?"

Heideck looked at her in amazement.

"No, dearest Edith, I have not thought of it. It would have been a

useless and foolish idea, so long as my duty and honour prescribe most

definitely what I have to do."

"Duty and honour! Of course, I ought to have known that you would at

once be ready again with fine words. It is so convenient to be able to

take shelter behind so unassailable a rampart, if at the same time it

falls in with one's own wishes."

"Edith! How unjust the melancholy events of the last few weeks have made

you! If you think it over quietly, you will see that my personal wishes

and my heart's desires are not in question at all. And really I do not

understand what you think I could possibly do."

"Oh, there would be more than one way of sparing us the pain of a

separation, but I will only mention the first that occurs to me.

Couldn't we very well remain together in India? If it is the question

of money that makes you hesitate, I can soon make your mind easy on that

point. I have enough money for both of us, and what is mine is yours.

If we retire to a part of the country which the war cannot reach, a hill

station such as Poona or Mahabeleshwar, no one will trouble you with

questions or think of following you. And if you live there and devote

yourself to your love instead of slaying your fellow-men, it will be

more acceptable to God."

In spite of the seriousness with which she spoke, Heideck could not help

smiling as he answered: "What a wonderful picture of the world and its

affairs is sometimes drawn in a pretty woman's little head! It is really

fortunate that we sober-minded men do not allow our heart to run away

with our head so easily. Otherwise we should come badly off, for you

yourselves would certainly be the first to turn away from us with

contempt, if we tried to purchase the happiness of your love at any

price--even at the price of your respect."

Edith Irwin did not contradict him. Silent and sorrowful, for a long

time she looked out upon the bright moonlight Indian night. Then, when

Heideck approached her, to take leave of her with tender words, she said

in a voice which cut him to the heart: "Whether we understand each other

or not, in one thing at least you shall be under no delusion. Whereever

you may go--into a paradise of peace or the hell of war--I will not

forsake you."

With passionate impetuosity she flung herself into his arms and pressed

her burning lips upon his. Then, as if afraid of her own heart's

passion, she gently pushed him towards the door.