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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.