Tag Archives: Duke and Duchess of Windsor

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. MI6 to test him to see if he can be both king and spy.
Wallis and Ernest sat across from each other at a table covered in white lace in the gardens at Buckingham Palace one humid afternoon in July 1936. David invited them to his first garden party as king in honor of the season’s debutantes. However, he preferred that the Simpsons sit in the back so as to not attract too much attention.
The couple sipped their tea and ate biscuits but did not speak to speak to each other. Wallis thought if she heard Ernest crunch into one more biscuit she would scream. She was about to issue an icy retort but then she noticed the merry glint in his eyes as young ladies passed by in their frilly dresses and flowery hats, and her heart melted. He was such a child at royal events like this. Rather sweet, Wallis conceded.
What a shame she was about to ask for a divorce. It might break his heart; on the other hand, Ernest was involved in a long-distance affair with their friend Mary Raffray in New York. David, who had been king for almost six months, issued an invitation to the both of them to join him on holiday in August along the Dalmatian Coast on the Adriatic Sea. Wallis had visited the western coast in Italy but had never seen the eastern side, which consisted of tiny fishing villages of Croatia. Ernest immediately informed her he could not go because of important business pending in New York. Wallis knew the only pending business he had in New York was to continue his affair with Mary. That thought convinced Wallis that she didn’t care if she broke his heart or not.
“I keep remembering how much fun we had last fall when Mary came back from New York with you,” she said. “It was great seeing her after all this time. She was the one who introduced us. You remember that, don’t you?”
“Of course.”
“Don’t you just love her?”
“Um, I suppose.” He crunched into his biscuit again.
“Ernest darling, we need to tell the truth.” Wallis smiled. “Well, you tell the truth. I’m incapable of telling the truth.” She paused. “I’ll make it easy for you. You just yes or no. Mary Raffray is a beautiful woman, isn’t she?”
“You see her frequently when you’re in New York, which you are, frequently.”
“You two have been copulating like rabbits, right?”
Ernest hesitated before replying, “Yes.”
“Well, do you love her?”
“If you had your way, you’d marry her and live happily ever after.”
“But you won’t stop being my friend, will you?”
“Good.” She sipped her tea. “Now do something I can use as proof of adultery so we can start this divorce going.”
“Anything you say, darling.”
“Pass the biscuits, please.”
By the first week of August at the port of Calais, Wallis boarded the Orient Express train with David and a host of their most intimate friends—Herman and Katherine Rogers, Duff and Lady Diana Cooper, Mrs. Joseph Gwynne, Archie Compston, John Aird, Godfrey Thomas and Tommy Lascelles. Some were old friends of Wallis, like the Rogers and Mrs. Gwynne. Others were friends of David, the Coopers and Compston who was his favorite golfing companion. Aird was David’s new equerry, and Thomas and Lascelles were his private secretaries. The boon companions began drinking as their private car on the Orient Express pulled out of the station so the all the picturesque scenery of Austria and Yugoslavia was a blur to them. They finally arrived at the port of Sibenik, Croatia, where Lady Cunard and Lord and Lady Brownlow joined the party. How the hell were they going to pull off even a minor spy mission baffled Wallis, but she put on a brave smile and played the perfect hostess.
They boarded the large sparkling yacht Nahlin to proceed down the Dalmatian Coast. Most of the time, David toured the Mediterranean on the royal yacht Victoria and Albert but he decided it was too moldy and cramped for this occasion. He chartered the Nahlin which was practically brand new and shinier than the family boat with large awnings, teak decks and wicker tables and chairs.
Local peasants, dressed in their finest native garb, gathered on the pier to wave good-bye. Everyone leaned against the railing to wave back.
“What if one of them was supposed to be our contact?” Wallis whispered to David.
“Too late now, isn’t it? Anyway, Sibenik isn’t officially part of the Dalmation Coast, is it? Frankly, I’m hoping to miss the connection altogether. Being king is beastly, all these people around.” David pointed out to the bay to the Adriatic Sea. “See those two navy ships? They’re the destroyers HMS Grafton and Glowworm, assigned to protect us all the way to Istanbul.”
“How dreadfully unromantic.”
Most of the cruise down the Dalmatian Coast was dreadfully unromantic to Wallis. At this point the rumor mill ground away, wondering if or when the royal lovers would ever announce to the world they planned to marry—to hell with the quaint customs of the English monarchy.
The first morning of the cruise, the Nahlin docked in one of the many sun-drenched coves in the Balkans, and everyone enjoyed breakfast on deck. As was her custom, Wallis never sat during a holiday meal like this. She was too busy making sure everyone was happy.
“Where is that dear sweet husband of yours, Mrs. Simpson?” Compston asked, a wicked smile lurking in the corners of his mouth.
“He’s off tending to his shipping line in New York.” Her tone was light and airy, and she didn’t break stride as she focused on her closest friends, Herman and Katherine Rogers. She slipped into a chair next to Katherine.
“Archie can be such an ass,” her friend whispered. “You know his wife has moved permanently to their seaside cottage in Brighton.”
“Yes. Well.” Wallis exhaled cigarette smoke. “At least he still has his balls to play with.” Across the table Mrs. Joseph Gwynne tittered. Wallis widened her eyes. “His golf balls. He loves to play golf with David. You know, he had to give up soccer because of his health. So his golf balls are the only balls he has left.”
Mrs. Gwynne snickered as Wallis left the table to inquire of Duff, Lady Diana Cooper and Lady Cunard if they were enjoying their breakfast. Before they could reply, David appeared on the deck wearing comfortable sandals, beige shorts and a hairless bronzed chest.
“I don’t think I shall ever become accustomed to seeing an English king sans shirt,” Lady Cunard announced before taking a sip of her Earl Grey tea.
“My dear, if you had seen King Edward or David’s father King George, stripped to the waist, you wouldn’t mind David so much,” Wallis replied and turned to hug David.
Each day began with the same ritual. The entire party strolled down the gangplank and waved to the natives who gathered to greet them. David always led the way, enveloping himself into the crowds, much to the chagrin of his equerry and private secretaries.
“The King must be mad, pressing flesh in such an aggressive manner,” Aird muttered to Wallis.
Wallis sucked in cigarette smoke and exhaled through her nose. “Well, I think he’s more like Hamlet than Richard II. There’s a method to his madness.”
“Huh?” Aird was befuddled.
Wallis walked away and caught up with David to shake as many hands also. Soon both of them disappeared into the crowd. To no avail, she decided, because no peasant-clad native shoved a note or anything else into their hands.
In the afternoons David and Wallis slipped off with Tommy Lascelles to secluded beaches where they could swim and fish without enduring the usual courtier chinwag. But they were never approached by a wandering peasant with a note.
When they reached their final stop on the Dalmatian Coast at the fishing village Cetinje in Croatia, they decided they had missed their contact which was fine with them. They found it inconvenient to be shadowed by two large naval destroyers. After supper with the whole gang, David and Wallis strolled down the plank one last time. They found the village mystical and ethereal after sunset.
“Please remind me never to travel with such an entourage on holiday again,” David announced with a sigh.
“Oh shut up.” She elbowed him. “You grew up around people like this. You enjoy it and don’t deny it.”
David laughed. Wallis surprisingly found herself pleased with his laughter, as though they actually did love each other.
“And what did you grow up around?”
Wallis flicked the cigarette into the dark waters of the Adriatic. “Drunks and hillbillies.”
David laughed again. The streets of Centinje lit up with hundreds of torches. The entourage walked down to the pier where they saw local citizens dressed in their finest attire approaching as they sang their favorite local folk songs. Wallis couldn’t help but put her head on David’s shoulder. It was the first time she had ever shown that much affection towards him, and she didn’t know why.
A peasant man ran toward them, waving a note. By his side was a Catholic cleric. David’s equerry and two secretaries appeared from behind the couple to thwart the oncoming strangers.
“No, no, that’s fine,” David ordered. He smiled and motioned him forward, thinking that this was the message they had been awaiting.
The humble minister spoke. “My parishioner speaks no English so he asked me to write the note for him. I hope you understand.”
David took it from the man who just stood there, as though anticipating a reply. David read it, looked at the man, shook his head and said, “Thank you, but no.”
The peasant walked away, slumped in disappointment against the minister who put his arm around him. David handed the note to Wallis. She read it in the lights from the yacht.
“Don’t marry the skinny old woman. My daughter is young and fully rounded. She can give you many children.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Nine

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. Old King George finally dies.
By the next morning David had been hustled by courtiers to St. James Palace which was in the heart of London next to the Green Park for the meeting of the King’s Accession Council. After a few customary comments privy councilors broached the topic of Mrs. Simpson, which David fully expected. General Trotter, however, instructed him to act apprehensive and queasy. They finished and voted their approval of the proclamation of accession at noon. David went to his apartment in York House, a wing of St. James overlooking Friary Court where the proclamation would be read to the public amidst much pomp and circumstance.
General Trotter instructed David to call Wallis to join him in the window above the court to observe the ceremony. This would serve two purposes, he said. The world would be shocked to see him at ceremony. No British king had ever watched his own proclamation before. Proper society would shudder when his mistress sat by his side when he did.
Wallis, dressed in a subdued black outfit with a fur collar and modest hat, arrived by way of a side street through the Colour Court and made her way upstairs to the prince’s quarters. Just as four state trumpeters in gold-lace draped tunics marched onto the low balcony over the courtyard, Wallis stepped into the light of the window and sat in chair, followed by David who stood with his arm around her shoulders. Everyone gathered in Friary Court. The crowd flowed out onto Marlborough Road. The observers immediately turned their heads to the window and pointed. News photographers shot pictures at window. Newsreel cameras also focused on the couple instead of the balcony where the proclamation was taking place.
“Good, good, exactly what we wanted,” General Trotter muttered, standing apart from them in the shadows.
“Should we wave?” Wallis asked.
“Heavens no,” Trotter replied. “Just sit back and enjoy the show.”
Sergeants at arms hoisted their royal maces high. The trumpet blasted. Garter King Sir Gerald Wollaston, accompanied by equally garishly dressed attendants, appeared and pulled out the proclamation to read in a loud official voice.
“By the way, Wallis,” Trotter continued, ignoring the royal pageantry, “I must inform you that I am leaving my post as equerry out of protest of your close companionship with the king. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I have nothing but the highest admiration for the way you conduct your espionage missions. But the new crush of attendants around David will make my private role more difficult. Out of the official inner circle, I can be more efficient in passing on MI6 orders.”
“That’s nice to know,” she said in a tone that conveyed she didn’t really care what was being said.
“And you, David, I don’t know if you will be able to stay on the throne,” Trotter informed him.
“God, I hope not,” the prince replied in derision, even though he kept smiling as the proclamation reading. “Bertie would be much better at this kinging business than I ever would.”
“He doesn’t think so, nor does his wife. But your mother and the prime minister would be pleased if he were king.”
“I suppose we couldn’t let him in on our little secret,” David offered.
“Of course not,” Trotter snapped. “You knew from the very beginning your family could never know.”
“So when can I stop being king?”
The long-winded King of the Garter Sir Wollaston finished the proclamation, and the regimental band in the courtyard blared “God Save the King.” Wallis couldn’t help herself and burbled a full throated laugh.
“Sorry,” she said, pulling a handkerchief from her purse to cover her mouth. “The timing of the anthem right after your question was quite ironic.”
Trotter raised an eyebrow then ignored Wallis. “Next summer when you take your holiday you’ll visit several countries by train and by yacht. The itinerary will be a bit of gobbledygook. You have to skip Italy because Mussolini invaded Ethiopia.”
“Well, we all knew that was coming,” David said. “Anyplace else we can’t go?”
“Cannes,” Trotter replied. “The election of a leftist government might provoke radicals to try to assassinate you.”
“Oh great,” Wallis said with great disgust. “Where can we go?”
“The Dalmatian Coast,” Trotter answered.
“How exciting,” she announced with a sarcastic wit. After a pause she asked, “May I have a cigarette now?”
“Not as long as there’s a crowd lingering in the courtyard,” the general said.
“Why don’t they leave?” David asked.
“Because you are still in the window,” Trotter explained. “This is one of the problems MI6 faces.”
Wallis stood. “Let’s move into another room so I can have my damn cigarette.”
Once they settled into an inner parlor, the general explained the test mission. “You will spend most of your time on the Dalmatian Coast in secluded coves sunbathing and in tiny towns letting the local peasants gawk at you. While all this is going on, someone in the crowd—one of our agents—will pass a note to you. It will say, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” If you are able to complete the mission without undue attention being drawn to you, we might continue with you as king; otherwise you will have to abdicate.”
“That sounds simple-minded. Who came up with that childish idea?” Wallis asked.
David smiled. “Remember the poem. Ours is not to reason why….”
“By the way,” Trotter added, “I have a couple who requested to see you today. I’m sure you remember them, David. They’ve been quite useful on a few of your missions. They’re retiring and wanted to say good-bye.”
Glancing at the door he saw the old couple who had passed on parts of messages throughout the years. The last time he had seen them they were working in the background at Ribbentrop’s apartment. They were holding hands which made David smile. He turned to Wallis.
“This couple has been invaluable to many operations passing on information. You may have noticed them at dinner parties with the Ribbentrops.”
Wallis stood, crossed to them and extended her hand. “Of course I remember you. Mrs. Ribbentrop raved about how she couldn’t host a party without you getting things done.”
They shook her hand and the woman curtsied.
“They’re responsible for securing the information on the Hitler conference in ’35 and Ribbentrop’s recent visit to Paris,” Trotter explained.
“My, you are valuable, aren’t you?” Wallis responded. “So why are you retiring?”
“Who wants to work for a king the likes of him?” The woman pointed at David.
“You’ll have to excuse me old lady,” the man said. “She has a Cockney sense of humor.”
“Excuse her? I want to hug her!” Wallis reached out and took the woman in her arms.
“You’re a bit of a bag of bones, but you’re a sweet one for sure,” the woman muttered, her voice cracking a bit.
“Oh, my dear, you don’t know the half of it.” Wallis winked.
“No sir,” the old man continued. “We decided it was time to call it quits. The German mission was the most important thing we ever did, so we’re leaving while we’re at the top of our game, so to speak. When you get old, you make mistakes, and we’ll have none of that.”
“So where are you going?” Wallis asked the woman.
“New York,” she replied. “Love the Coney Island hot dogs.”
Wallis patted her hand. “Trust me. Baltimore has better hot dogs.”
Everyone laughed, except David who pondered the man’s comment about age. He was forty-two now. How many years did he have left before making a fatal mistake?

David , Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Eight

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to pick up crates of jewels from Haile Selassie in Corsica. Leon was supposed to kill them and steal the jewels, but he refused.
Old King George was dying. He had not been his usual irascible dominating self since he fell off his horse in the early 1920s. Then he suffered a stroke the year of the Tanganyika affair. Somehow he managed to look regal through his Silver Jubilee in June of 1936. By autumn his cognitive powers decreased significantly. David’s missions came to complete halt. He could not be called away in the middle of an assassination attempt to attend a funeral. That was not the way MI6 operated.
David continued his public seduction of Wallis Simpson because, according to the plan MI6 conceived ten years earlier, they were to be married by 1937. Immediately upon his return from the Mediterranean holiday David started telling intimate friends like Walter Monckton how he felt about Wallis.
“She’s the perfect woman,” he told his buddy while they had cocktails on the terrace at Fort Belvedere, enjoying the last summer breezes of early September. She insists I should be at my best and do my best at all times. Well,” he paused to take a puff on his cigarette, “she’s my inspiration.”
“Come, fellow, you’re letting your carnal amusements take over your good sense,” Monckton advised.
David raised an eyebrow. “Now listen here, there has never been physical relations between Mrs. Simpson and myself.” He tried not to smile. Of everything he was saying, his avowal of abstinence was the only true statement. “This is intellectual companionship, spiritual comradeship.” He stared off at the trees, thinking the brush beneath needed to be cleared. “I will never give her up.” Looking at Monckton, David leaned in. “My dear Walter, you are my dearest friend. I hope you will keep this discussion in strictest confidence.”
“Of course, David,” he replied, his eyelids fluttering. “Strictly confidential.”
As David anticipated, within a few days society circles in the Mayfair district of London was abuzz with the rumors of a budding romance and how it would shake the British monarchy to its very roots. The simple mention of the name Mrs. Simpson brought on titters at the thought of immoral seduction and the oncoming royal generation which would flaunt morality, bring down all that was sacred and perhaps introduce a new world in which the distinction between classes would disappear.
According to General Trotter’s instructions, Wallis lingered in Paris to do some serious shopping. She wrote her close friends in London that Mainbocher was having a half-price sale and it would be sinful not to take advantage of it. She arranged to fly her bargains home on David’s private airplane. David mailed her a new bejeweled cross for her bracelet.
“Get flower from VR.”
By this time, David had figured out Wallis’s references to white carnations from Von Ribbentrop to mean a sexual encounter. He knew the German was a valuable link to Hitler’s inner circle. David’s contacts to the Ribbentrop household—the old crotchety couple—passed along information that Hitler’s chief foreign affairs adviser would be in Paris in September. Ribbentrop was too good of an instrument not to be kept well-tuned.
When Wallis returned to London in October she set about having charming luncheons with girlfriends like Diana Cooper and Barbara Cartland. She related the conversations to David when she visited Fort Belvedere.
“We were having a bite to eat in Mayfair when Barbara cooed, ‘So, how is the little man?’ Barbara loves to refer to you as the little man. Well, I leaned back in my chair and laughed. ‘Oh, my dears, I think he’s getting ideas of marriage in his head. I would much rather have my cake and eat it too. David for laughs and luxury, and Ernest for marriage and stability. What’s wrong with that?’”
David cradled his chin in his palm and resisted the temptation to tell her what was wrong. He feared he was actually falling in love with her. But true romance could spell tragedy in espionage. He could tell his silence unsettled her.
“You won’t believe who Ernest is bringing back to London in October. Mary Raffray! And she’s staying at Bryanston Court with us! The darlings have no idea I’m on to them. Oh well, when I dump him next year at least he will have a soft lap to land in.”
Lighting a cigarette, David asked, “Do you think you and Ernest will be up to attending another royal wedding in November?”
Wallis’s eyes widened. “Royal wedding? Who?
“My brother Harry.”
“What? They finally found someone to marry huggy bear? I don’t believe it.”
“Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott.”
“Two hyphens? She must be important.”
“Now be nice.”
Wallis pulled his hand over to light her cigarette from his. “I thought you liked it when I wasn’t nice.”
“White carnation. Ribbentrop. Got it. Want to know the details?”
David crushed his cigarette out in ash tray. “Only what will interested MI6.”
“Well, for starters, he doesn’t suspect me of spilling the beans on the German air force,” she said, quite pleased with her powers of persuasion. “He was in Paris for talks with French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou. Ribbentrop encouraged him to meet Hitler to sign a non-aggression pact.”
David duly passed the information on to General Trotter and tried not to sound jealous when he mentioned Wallis and the German shared an intimate moment. He couldn’t linger on his emotions, however, because of the continuous communiques from Sandringham Palace where the King had recused himself during his extended illness. David visited often and noted his father’s failing health and his fading mental faculties. Often a comment would go without response from the old man until moments later.
George recovered as the royal wedding neared, and he made a good appearance to celebrate Prince Harry’s nuptials. David remembered the days when a harsh look from his father could make his brother faint headed. Now he hardly noticed his father as he beamed at his bride.
As Christmas approached, David asked Wallis to oversee the purchase and wrapping of presents for his staff of one hundred and sixty five. In previous years this had been Thelma Furnace’s job. Wallis fulfilled her duties with rapt efficiency.
He wrote a note to Wallis after the holiday stating it had been the worst Christmas ever. The old man went hunting on Christmas Eve, which was his custom, however because of his weakened condition he caught a chill. His declining health cast its own pall over the gift exchange the next morning. In case the letter fell into anyone else’s hands, he added an afterthought that he was the only brother there who did not have a wife. David felt General Trotter would have approved.
After the New Year, David, Wallis and the general met for a casual tea in the main parlor of Fort Belvedere discussing how they would proceed after the king died. Wallis clearly was not interested. A knock at the door interrupted the general’s oration. It was a footman from Sandringham who announced the king was expected to die within the next twenty hours.
When David arrived, his father did not immediately recognize him. His mother Queen Mary informed him a coffin had already been delivered, and she was making arrangements for the funeral. She added she was organizing a list of beneficiaries for her jewelry upon her death and made clear to David Wallis was to have none of it. At least she has her priorities in order, David thought.
It was close to midnight and the doctor Lord Dawson was fretting that if the king didn’t die soon, the announcement would not appear until the afternoon newspapers, which would have been a real tragedy. For the first time in many years, David felt indignation rising from his stomach for his father. His training restrained him. He turned his attention to the clock in the hallway. It was set half an hour ahead; he reset it himself. By the time David finished, Lord Dawson appeared from the king’s bedchamber, placing a syringe into his medical valise.
“The king has died.” He snapped the bag shut. “Notify the London Times.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Seven

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to pick up crates of jewels from Haile Selassie in Corsica.
Leon often thought of the day three years ago when he confessed to his mother as she lay dying in the garden that he was a mercenary. Also he revealed that he knew the Prince of Wales was a British spy. His indiscretion bothered him. Ironically he had not been on a mission since then in which he had any encounter with the prince. Leon had killed many men and had been paid handsomely for it. That didn’t worry him because that was the life he had chosen for himself. What did nag at him was the fact that he saw Pooka running away from his gate.
Pooka—the old hag who fancied herself a voodoo priestess. She could not be trusted with such delicate information. Leon would kill her but his wife Jessamine craved Pooka’s assurance that he would return safely from his long mysterious journeys. And Leon’s own moral code insisted that he never kill a woman.
Even his son Sidney was beginning to listen to Pooka. He was thirteen and ready to be introduced to the life of a mercenary and he didn’t need to rely on mystical spirits to survive but rather only on himself. Leon had stressed the need to do anything to fill the bellies of his family.
All these thoughts flooded his mind as he returned from his morning walk along the beach. He noticed the dead plant in front of his gate was askew. Leon ran his hand inside the pot and found an empty cigarette pack. Inside he found a folded note.
“Rialto. 9 p.m.”
Leon wadded the paper and stuck it in his pants pocket before going inside for breakfast. His wife Jessamine had matured and calmed down a bit. It was right after Leon’s mother died that Jessamine realized she had to become the mother now. She could no longer be ruled by childish emotions. She quit asking Leon to wear a wedding band. Repeatedly he had told her she was being foolish because wearing one could endanger his life while on one of his trips.
He looked at her with admiration as she placed bowls of grits and shredded conch covered with potatoes, peppers and onions in front of him and Sidney. At age thirteen Sidney was developing into a fine man. He was going to be short like his father but his shoulders were wide and his chest was thickening.
“I have to go to Nassau tonight which means I will be leaving soon on one of my business trips.”
“Then I will prepare your suitcase today,” Jessamine said.
“Thank you.” He looked at Sidney and smiled. “Work hard for Jinglepockets.”
“I will.” He smiled broadly.
Jinglepockets, the old fisherman, told Leon that Sidney was a good hand. The boy sat aright and took a modest spoonful of food into his mouth, just as his father had taught him.
That night Leon sauntered into the casino and located the blonde dealer at her black jack table. He sat and threw a few coins at her.
“Anything you say.”
As her hands spit the cards his way, Leon smiled, and his eyes twinkled.
“How come you and I have never connected after all these years?”
“Your family wouldn’t like it.” She paused and raised an eyebrow. “How many cards?”
Glancing at his hand, Leon looked up and smiled again. “None.” He noticed a slit in the queen of diamonds. “How do you know if I have a family?” Deftly he opened the slit, slipped out the note and put it in his white linen jacket pocket.
“Oh. I can tell a married man as soon as he walks into the casino.” She pursed her lips. “And if they have a kid.”
“Stand. I call.” He turned over his cards. “Two sixes.”
She pushed two chips his way. “You win.” She licked her red lips. “Another game?”
“Some other time.” He stood and walked away. After cashing out, Leon took the ferry back to Freeport. Leaning against the rail, he took out the note.
“SS Europa Tuesday a.m. to Corsica.”
Leon had traveled on the Europa many times. Besides being extremely luxurious, the German liner was one of the fastest ships in the world, convenient for his kind of work. At the appointed time in Nassau, he walked up the gangplank in his white linen suit. He went to his cabin and, after removing his jacket, plopped on the bed. Reaching under the pillow he found a note.
“Late dinner on the upper.”
The ocean liner was skimming through the Atlantic toward the straits of Gibraltar in the silky blackness of midnight. Leon sat at a oner in the corner of the dining hall when a waiter, a fellow Bahamian in a white jacket and black tuxedo slacks, handed him a menu.
“Please note the evening special.”
From a special notch in the leather menu binder, Leon pulled out a white card on which was printed the evening special. On the back was a hand-written note.
“Hotel Lido, Propriano, Corsica. Answer door after seven knocks.”
He folded it and placed it in his trousers’ pocket.
“I don’t think so. What’s the catch of the day?”
Leon relaxed the rest of the voyage. He relished the solitude. As much as he loved his family, they drained his emotions with their needs and wants. He also took the time to consider his mortality. Leon knew that any mission might be his last and he would never see his wife and son again. He also considered he was close to the age of his father when he died. He conceded he could not ask for a better life than his father lived.
Once the liner was docked at Port Valinco in Propriano, Leon went straight to Hotel Lido. As the bellman carried his suitcase through the central courtyard to his room, he looked around in approval. It was a one-story hotel on the beach. Not overtly luxurious but conducive to secrecy, privacy and perhaps romance. Once in his room, he went to the bar, pulled out a bottle of Jamaican rum and poured it into a small glass. Sitting in a comfortable chair facing a window which looked over the sands of the Mediterranean, Leon waited for his seven knocks.
They finally came.
“Room service.”
“Come in.”
A short, wispy-thin Italian man with a full bushy head of steel gray hair opened the door, charged in and hustled around the room dusting and retrieving errant soiled linen.
Leon noticed the man mumbled to himself but soon realized the servant wasn’t mumbling at all but reciting the orders, like a broken record.
“Midnight. Port Volinco. Dress as peasant with pushcart. Detail of soldiers will arrive, unload five small crates, wait for a signal from a yacht, and then depart. Two men dressed in black will disembark to load the crates. You will kill them, load the crates in the cart and bring it to the Hotel Lido kitchen. In the morning check out, take the first boat to Naples where you will be paid.”
It took a couple of times before Leon heard it all. He didn’t bother to ask questions. The man had already told him everything he knew. At 10 p.m. he located the push cart in which was the peasant garb. He situated himself in the shadows of large shipping containers on the dock. Exactly at midnight Leon heard the tromping of military feet on the cobblestones.
Leon decided the cargo was being delivered by the army from a country with more pomp and circumstance than actual martial power, perhaps a place where its traditions were still rooted in a time long ago.
Five soldiers, each carrying a crate, were surrounded by a phalanx of armed comrades. The parade came to an abrupt stop. All five soldiers lifted their knees high, right then left, then stomped twice. They stood at attention, all staring at the yacht for several minutes. Then a light flashed from the dark recesses of the main deck, once followed by two quicker ones. The guards lifted their knees, right then left, stomped twice and marched away.
When the defiant marching steps faded into silence, two small figures, dressed in black including ski masks, slipped down the gangplank and—before Leon could lift his rifle, aim and fire—grabbed three of the boxes. The larger of them took two under each arm and the smaller carried one using both hands. They scurried back on board.
Leon briefly thought he could scamper over and take the other two but when he further considered how fast they moved he wouldn’t have time. He could kill them upon their return and then take the last two crates.
Raising his rifle he prepared to shoot when they scuttled back down the ramp. His body tensed when he looked through the rifle sights and then paused. He recognized them. The larger figure was the Prince of Wales. The smaller was the lady from the Tanganyika Express. He had saved Leon’s life at least twice. And Leon lived the principle that a man never killed a woman.
He put his rifle down and walked away. Leon rarely failed on a mission. And when he did, it mostly was due to a conscious decision not to break his personal code. The client would simply have to survive without the contents of those crates. Furthermore, Leon didn’t care if the organization disapproved or not.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Six

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
Wallis and Ernest found themselves in the unique position of being in London at the same time a few weeks before Easter 1936, sharing breakfast in their Bryanston Court apartment in London. They split the morning edition of the Times, the society pages going to Wallis and the rest to Ernest. She read each line of social news while Ernest only gave a cursory glance at the national and international news.
“It says here Downing Street gave a constrained but determined statement concerning the German army’s invasion of the Rhineland,” he said, breaking the silence.
Wallis bit into a scone. “Now, how can a street make a statement? It’s only a street.”
“I meant the prime minister, darling.” He lowered the paper and smiled. “Sometimes I don’t know how to take your comments. I don’t know if you are marvelously uninformed—which I sincerely doubt—or you are having a laugh with me because you think I am uninformed.”
She raised her pages, covering her face. “Now why would I think that?”
The breakfast conversation stalled, as though a cloud hung over their heads. Not a rain cloud, but a cloud never the less. It didn’t bother Wallis in the least, but she could tell Ernest was uncomfortable by the way he shifted in his seat and rustled his section of the Times.
“I had a rather harsh lecture from Emerald recently.” She bit into a slice of bacon. “She fussed that you don’t attend as many of her get-togethers as you used to. I told her you had business to tend to in New York.”
Ernest lowered the paper and smiled. “Lady Cunard? Herself?”
“Of course, darling. All the ladies in our social circle are quite taken with you. I really should be jealous.”
“You shouldn’t be, you know.” His eyes fluttered. “Well, if Lady Cunard misses me, I suppose I must make an effort to be sociable. When is her next gathering?”
“She’s having a garden party at Easter.”
“Easter, eh? I think I’ll be available for that.” He paused to reflect. “I suppose you will want a new frock for the occasion.”
“Oh dear me, no. I have several suitable dresses.” Wallis cocked her head. “Anything else interesting in the news?”
She could swear she noticed a puffing up of his chest, and it actually made her feel warmly for him. After all, he was a good egg for the circumstances in which they lived.
“The RAF has announced an expansion of military aircraft.” He wrinkled his brow. “Now why would they want to do that? Germany is forbidden from having an air corps.”
“Hmm, strange, isn’t it?”
A knock at the door came at an opportune moment for Wallis. A Buckingham courier nodded to her when she opened the door and handed her an engraved envelope and a simply but elegantly wrapped box from Cartier. Coming back to the table Wallis used her butter knife to open the envelope.
“It’s from the palace. We’ve been invited to the Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary reception in June.” She looked up and smiled. “Wasn’t that nice of David to think of us.”
Ernest daubed his mouth with his napkin. “Yes, it was. June, you say? I planned to spend the summer in New York, but I suppose I could delay my voyage until after the jubilee.” He glanced at the box. “And what is that?”
“Well, I must open it to find out, mustn’t I?” She used her butter knife to tear through the paper, opened it and lifted a small cross outlined in diamonds and embedded with rubies. “Oh cute. Another charm for my bracelet.”
“Cute isn’t quite the word I would use for a pastiche of diamonds and rubies.” He stood. “I must have a serious chat with David about these trinkets. I don’t mind him showering them on you, but I do resent having to pay for the insurance.”
“Oh, Ernest, don’t be dreary.” Wallis watched him walk to his bedroom. “So you don’t plan to go on holiday with the gang to Cannes in August?”
He did not turn back. “I’ll be in New York, remember?”
“Then drop in on dear sweet Mary Raffray,” she called out. “I understand she’s going through a dreadful divorce and could use all the consoling she can get.”
Ernest closed his door with a discernible thud. Wallis smiled, lit a cigarette then opened the tiny compartment in the charm.
“Monday next. Noon. The Fort.”
An overcast sky and gray atmosphere greeted Wallis when she drove a borrowed sports coupe into the front drive of Fort Belvedere. She didn’t bother to knock at the door but rather walked around the side of the house to the garden. David was involved trimming of some bushes on the far side, where the trees were taller and denser, which created convenient shadows for planning espionage.
Wallis sauntered up to David who was bent over a difficult thistle bush that didn’t want to be uprooted. She took a moment to observe how his back muscles flexed through his tight woolen sweater as he tugged on a branch.
“You’ve worked up a nice satiny sheen of sweat,” she said. “If I were so inclined I could become aroused.”
David stood and smiled. “Is that so? Remind me to go sans shirt in Cannes.”
Wallis expected him to be irritated. When he took her quip as a compliment she was nonplussed. A pebble flew from a dark corner of the woods and landed between them. Without another word they walked in that direction. Leaning against an ancient sturdy oak, General Trotter lit his pipe.
“So nice you could join me. This will only take a few minutes.”
“I assume we’re discussing our holiday in Cannes.” David took out his cigarette case and offered one to Wallis before lighting up.
“Yes.” Trotter puffed on his pipe. “As you may well know, Mussolini has designs on Ethiopia. As is his wont, Emperor Haile Selassie waxes poetic stirring up the natives to defend the homeland. However being a realist, he contacted the home office about securing a proper residence should he have to go into exile.”
“Couldn’t a good real estate agent handle that?” Wallis succumbed to boredom quickly. The general should have known that by now.
“It isn’t the exact domicile that concerns us but the means to pay for it. If he made an overt transfer of funds the morale of his troops would be directly affected. What you will facilitate is the transfer of crown jewels and other golden baubles to be held as collateral.”
“Where will this exchange take place?” David asked.
Wallis noticed his eyes remained fixed on her, and again she didn’t know whether to be peeved or pleased.
“After a few days at Cannes you will announce to your guests you want to have some alone time with Mrs. Simpson on Corsica. On a date to be determined later you will disembark the royal yacht at midnight. Waiting for you will be an Ethiopian gentleman who will hand over five small crates. The two of you will load them to the royal suite as quickly as possible. Upon your turn to Cannes you will inform your other guests they will join you on the next train to Kitzbuhel, Austria. You had so much fun there in January you wanted to return for the summer sporting season. While you and your friends are ensconced in the train, the yacht will sail for Portsmouth where our agents will retrieve the five crates and hold them awaiting the wishes of emperor Selassie.”
“How fun. I always enjoy missions that involve jewels.” Wallis cackled.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Five

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
By the time Ribbentrop returned to his Berchtesgaden hotel his mind was a swirl with thoughts about the day’s events. The ungodly scream and then the abrupt crowd dismissal was bad enough but Guderian’s announcement his valet was missing sent Ribbentrop over a brink of anxiety. The missing valet was the same man who had caught his attention because of his odd behavior. Ribbentrop ordered his valet to stay behind a while to learn what had actually happened. He was certain there was some connection between the two incidents. He sat in the hotel bar waiting for his valet’s return when he noticed a solitary lady enter the lobby and go to the registration desk. It was Wallis Simpson.
“Wallis, my dear!” he called out as he stood.
She turned, looked confused a moment before smiling. Ribbentrop stopped short of embracing her but instead waited for her extended hand, which she never offered.
“Joachim. What a surprise. I thought you were still in London. How is your wife—what is her name again?”
“Please join me in a drink.” The tension in his shoulders disappeared. All he could think of was their wonderful week in Paris.
His valet came through the door and hustled toward him. “Herr Von Ribbentrop, I have the news—“
He held a palm up. “I’m busy now.”
“That’s quite all right,” Wallis said. “I must check in, settle into my suite first. And before I can even think of having a good time I must change out of my traveling clothes.”
Ribbentrop bowed, clicked his heels, took his valet by the crook of his elbow and guided him into the darkest corner of the bar. Without any hesitation, the valet leaned in and began to whisper.
“The scream was a kitchen scullery maid. She went into the meat locker. Made a horrible discovery. The naked body of a man. Gestapo agents identified him as one of the valets. He was thick around the waist, though his neck was slender. He was about five feet seven inches.”
“But Guderian’s man was taller,” Ribbentrop interrupted.
“Valets often wear lifts in their shoes to appear more imposing.”
Ribbentrop raised an eyebrow. “You’re short. You don’t wear lifts.”
“I don’t need lifts,” he defended himself. “My dignity makes me imposing.””
“Go on.”
“His hair was black and his complexion extremely fair. A checkered table cloth, one used for terrace dining, was tied around his neck. From the discoloration of his skin, the Gestapo estimated he had been dead in the locker since late last night.”
“General Guderian’s man.” Ribbentrop paused. “But we saw him all this morning at the general’s side.”
“But it could not have been him,” the valet added. “It was his murderer.”
Ribbentrop dismissed him and then leaned back in his chair to assimilate the information. He had been right. The black Irish man had to have been a spy. But who? At that moment, Wallis, now wearing a chic cocktail dress and mink edged drape, walked up.
“Am I interrupting? You look deep in thought,” she said in her nasal twang he found so fascinating.
He stood to pull out a chair. “Please have a seat.” After Wallis positioned her bottom and carelessly threw one leg over the other, Ribbentrop sat and smiled. “And what will you have to drink?”
“Champagne, of course.” Her lips slit into her famous snake-like smile. “You’re the expert. You select it.”
In a few moments the waiter delivered a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. He expertly uncorked it, poured one glass and offered it to Ribbentrop who took it, whiffed it, took a sip then nodded. The waiter poured a glass for Wallis, bowed and walked away. They relaxed and sat back. Ribbentrop expected Wallis to take the lead in conversation. She usually did, but this time she just drank and stared into his eyes.
“So. Are you on holiday?” he asked.
“Unfortunately. I don’t know why I bother to go skiing. I never advance beyond the baby slope. But the Grand Hotel in Kizbuhel is fabulous.”
“Kitzbuhel is in Austria. This is Germany.”
She rolled her eyes. “The forecast for the weekend was a snowstorm, so I escaped to a haven where there would be some other color than white. The sky in Berchtesgaden is a glorious blue.”
“And where is the prince?” Ribbentrop loved playing cat and mouse with a fascinating woman.
“Which prince? Europe is hag-ridden with princes.”
“And why would you think I’d know where he is?”
“I read the newspapers.”
She smiled and sipped her champagne. “Oh dear. And we thought it was a secret.”
They stared at each other until Wallis started laughing. Ribbentrop chuckled as he lifted the champagne bottle from the ice bucket.
“Thank you. I don’t mind if I do.” She extended her glass so he could fill it.
“David’s off to Vienna to arrange waltz lessons for us next week. First he forces me onto the slopes and then on the dance floor. I think he’s trying to turn me into an athlete.”
“Well, you are, aren’t you—an athlete, I mean.”
“Why, sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The game grew exasperating for Ribbentrop. He wasn’t used to being out-maneuvered by a woman in conversation. He cleared his throat. “Aren’t you interested in why I am in Berchtesgaden?”
“Come now, you’re going to hurt my feelings.”
Wallis pulled a cigarette from her purse and leaned forward so he could light it. “Berchtesgaden is the home of Hitler’s palace so I imagine you’re paying him homage.”
“It isn’t a palace.” He was pleased he could be in a position of advantage finally.
“Whatever it is, you’ve been there today, haven’t you? You’re not here for the blue sky.”
Ribbentrop reached across the table to squeeze her hand. “You make me mad with desire. You know that, don’t you, Wallis?”
“Not tonight, darling,” she purred. “I’m simply exhausted. Now if you plan to be around tomorrow night, well, that’s another story.”
He did convince her to be his guest for dinner, but the conversation didn’t rise above Wallis’s witty description of the royal wedding of George and Marina. She wouldn’t even let Ribbentrop escort her to her door. He returned to the bar for a drink stiffer than champagne before retiring to his own room. He began reading Hitler’s Rhineland memorandum. Sleep overtook him before he finished the first page. His valet, true to his vow of dignity, roused him early the next morning so that Ribbentrop would be the first delegate in the Wolf’s Lair conference room.
The prospect of an evening with the tempestuous Mrs. Simpson fogged his mind as the meeting began, even though Hitler’s topic was engrossing: the creation of a new German air force.
“The Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany from military aviation.” He paused, placed his hands behind his back and bounced on the balls of his feet. “The leaders of the defeated Germany agreed to such terms, but I–Adolf Hitler—did not agree to anything!”
The room erupted into applause as all of the participants stood in righteous joy. Ribbentrop noticed another valet was standing by General Guderian this morning. Hitler allowed the display to continue until the men finally returned to their seats.
“In 1926 Lufthansa Airline was founded.” Hitler held up his hands in innocence. “No one could object to a private company for travel whose object solely was to make money. But—“He stuck his right index finger into the air. “—the very same pilots trained for the airline are now prepared to become ace military aviators!”
Again the crowd applauded. This time he waved them down.
“I am announcing the creation of the Luftwaffe to you gentlemen, but steps to bring it to total fruition will not be announced to the world for many, many months. Surprise! Surprise, sirs, will be the secret weapon of the Third Reich!”
Ribbentrop almost didn’t rise for the third round of ovation. He was much too obsessed contemplating the ways Mrs. Wallis Simpson would earn her new white carnation that night.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Four

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
January 1935 Berchtesgaden had clear skies and brisk, bracing air filled with promises of glory. Joachim von Ribbentrop stood on this same hotel balcony when Hitler first sent for him. At that time the Fuhrer’s chalet was small and modest; now it was a full blown mountain mansion with broad terraces bordered by massive stone walls. His position of chief foreign affairs adviser assured him a role at every major planning session; and, from what he could discern from the contents of the communiques on today’s conference, this meeting would determine the course and momentum of the Third Reich.
His chauffeur knocked on the door, escorted him downstairs to the limousine and drove him to the Wolf’s Lair, which Hitler had christened his reinvented chalet. Upon arrival he entered a main hallway filled with bustling maids, manservants and soldiers, each with an important task essential to the destiny of Germany. One older, balding man, dressed in black slacks, white shirt and a silver stripped vest, approached Ribbentrop to inform him he would be his personal valet during the two-day gathering.
As he settled into his seat he looked around the room and felt honored to be included in such an august body. Hermann Goring, an air hero from the first Great War, sat across from him. Rumor in the hall was that Goring would be the commander in chief of the new air force. Next to him sat General Heinz Guderian, considered a brilliant armored division strategist. Propaganda Minster Joseph Goebbels created a stir when he marched into the room. Each had a valet at his side waiting to satisfy his slightest need.
Voices in the room rumbled when the door opened and Adolf Hitler himself entered, holding several brown folders. Everyone stood, saluted and shouted, “Heil Hitler,” repeatedly until the Fuhrer motioned to stop and be seated. One valet caught Ribbentrop’s attention, the one by the side of General Guderian. Like all the others he extended his arm in salute but his hand did not make it past the tip of his slender, pointed nose.
Hitler stood at a podium at one end of the table, opened his first folder and clasped his hands behind his back while he stared at the papers. No one could grab the attention of an audience better than Hitler, so Ribbentrop was curious why Guderian’s valet seemed to look down or across the room rather than at their national leader.
“I stand here today,” Hitler began, enunciating each word with distinction and determination, “to declare the Treaty of Versailles to be the single most vile document to be written since the beginning of modern times!”
Once more the guests stood, saluted and sang out, “Seig heil!” Except for the valet who seemed more intent on scratching his nose, Ribbentrop observed.
“We are gathered this day to outline the dismantling of that instrument of evil. As just, prudent men we must realize such an undertaking must be done in small, discreet steps, each explained in such plain, common sense language that no reasonable government could object.”
The valet in reality stifled a yawn. Ribbentrop was infuriated. He leaned forward to take a better look at him. At first appraisal, the man did not seem to be that large, but as Ribbentrop compared his height to the other valets, he was tall, at least six feet. His shoulders were narrow but his waist bulged at bit. The valet’s hair was coal black which contrasted starkly with his skin. From this distance he could not determine his eye color, but the man appeared to look like what the British called black Irish.
“Our first step will be the reinstatement of military conscription,” Hitler continued. “We will simply tell the world Germany will not be denied the right to defend itself from its former enemies–Great Britain and France. Nothing in the Treaty of Versailles keeps them from attacking, and we refuse to bow as slaves to any nation.”
Again the room erupted in applause. Even the valets shouted their approval. Except Guderian’s man. Why didn’t anyone else notice what Ribbentrop saw? Then again, why would anyone else notice, he admitted to himself. Perhaps if he were not conflicted by his divided loyalty between the Nazis and the organization he would not have picked up on the man’s eccentricities.
“Always, always, we will tell the world: Germany only wants peace. None of us means to threaten anybody. We disarm our critics by making them look like liars for accusing us of dismantling their little, meaningless treaty.”
Of course General Guderian didn’t notice his valet’s insolence. The man stood behind the general’s back. Ribbentrop forced himself to return his full attention to the Fuhrer or he might be accused of insolence himself.
Hitler looked down and chuckled. “I don’t know if any of you have ever noticed a little trick of mine. I always make my most audacious statements on the future of Germany’s return to world dominance on a Saturday. The newspapers usually have nothing to print on weekends so they spread my word for me. By Monday or Tuesday, I reaffirm my true allegiance to the cause of peace which then makes the newspapers look foolish.” He chuckled again. “I really amuse myself sometimes.”
During luncheon, Ribbentrop whispered to his valet try to make conversation with Guderian’s man, the one who looked black Irish. As the officials returned to the conference room, his valet made his report.
“I spoke several moments to the man. Very friendly. He even offered me a cigarette,” the valet said.
“Anything suspicious about the man?” Ribbentrop asked.
“The way he talked.”
“What do you mean?”
“His German.”
“What? Was he illiterate?”
“No. He didn’t make any mistakes at all. And I couldn’t tell what region he came from. It was like he was a damn grammar school teacher.”
“Hmm.” Ribbentrop wrinkled his brow. “How old was he? From here it looked like he was trying to look older than he was.”
“No. He looked like late thirties, maybe early forties. His hair looked like it was dyed, but that is not unusual for a man his age.”
Hitler resumed his discourse in the afternoon with the announcement his intention to take the Rhineland back from Austria.
“During luncheon your valets were handed a memorandum outlining my rationale for asserting German sovereignty over this region which has been traditionally accepted as Germanic in character. They will now pass them out to you. Read it. Memorize it. Put it into your own words. As you deal with representatives of the other European powers, you must impress upon them the common sense of our actions.”
A woman’s voice, thunderously tenor in nature, echoed throughout the building. It rang out like a siren for what seemed like several minutes until she had to pause to pant and gag. Another round of shrieks began, interrupted with ungovernable hysterics. The outburst in due course ended with gagging and vomiting.
Hitler’s bodyguards hurried him out of the room while the other officials milled around, much like sheep in need of a shepherd. Eventually they wandered into the foyer, breaking into small groups to whisper about what caused the scream. Within a few minutes, a black-uniformed officer appeared at the top of the stairs, jutted out his jaw, stared out over the crowd and waited for the muttering to stop, which it did.
“Gentlemen, security has been breached. The Fuhrer’s personal staff has decided to cancel tonight’s formal dinner. You shall return to your hotels until the Wolf’s Lair has been thoroughly searched and declared safe. At that time you will be notified if the second day of the conference will continue as scheduled.”
“But I am accommodated here at the chalet!” Goering called out.
“You must leave. It is the wish of the Fuhrer,” the officer stated. “Your valet will be allowed to go to your room to retrieve anything you will need for an overnight hotel stay.”
“Even Herr Hitler has left the premises.” The officer raised his voice to drown out Goering’s objections.
“But my valet is missing,” Guderian announced in frustration.
“That is none of my concern.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Three

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David and Wallis saves Prince George from scandal in Paris and introduces him to his future wife.
A couple of months into the burgeoning courtship, David invited George, Marina, brother Bertie and his wife Elizabeth to Fort Belvedere for a weekend of skating on the frozen pond. Wallis and Ernest joined in just for laughs. And for a hint of self-styled respectability, Thelma Furness served as hostess for the gang. The most fun part of the activities was when they actually put on skates and ventured out on the ice. It was at that moment most of them realized they didn’t realize they didn’t know how to skate. The best they could do was fall on their asses with great aplomb. Wallis described the scene as “a scream” and Ernest couldn’t keep from giggling.
After a while, David and Wallis escorted Marina up to the terrace where the servants had hot chocolate. From there they could observe the activities on the ice. David and Wallis had previously outlined how to enlighten the Greek princess about her suitor. David thought best to let Wallis do all the talking.
“The main thing is that you are having fun.” Wallis pressed her thin lips into a smile that surprisingly passed as sincere. “You are having fun, aren’t you, Marina, darling?”
Marina removed her woolen cap and shook out her long, black hair. “Of course, I’m having fun. I’m with George, aren’t I?”
They looked out at the pond where the young prince seemed to be the only one able to stay on his feet for any amount of time.
“He looks bilious, don’t you think?” Marina asked.
“I suppose,” Wallis replied in vague agreement.
“It’s his sea-sickness. He probably can’t get over the fact he’s on water, even though most of it’s frozen solid,” Marina said.
“So you know about that already?” David felt secure in throwing out his question.
“Oh yes. There’s very little I don’t know about George by now.”
“Hmm. I see.” Wallis paused and narrowed her eyes. “You may have heard certain rumors about George. How would you react if I told you most of them are true?”
Marina loosened her scarf. “Mrs. Simpson, you must remember I am Greek. For centuries the topic of some of those rumors was called Greek love. Hardly anything startles me. I was there when my grandfather the king was murdered. Matters of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexuality pale in comparison to what I have lived through.” She reached over to pat Wallis’s arm. “I know what I am getting into, and I’m confident I will save George from himself.” Lifting an eyebrow, Marina added, “Any other questions?”
Wallis pursed her lips. “If I don’t watch it, I think I could fall in love with you myself.”
David, pleased with the outcome of the discussion, looked out at the pond. “I see Bertie and Elizabeth have finally given up and are coming for hot chocolate.”
Wallis turned to the princess. “The next question is do you think you can abide the duchess’s high whimpering voice?” She took on a quivering falsetto. “Don’t you think Lillibet and Meg are adorable?”
What she didn’t realize was that the couple were closer than she thought, and they heard the imitation.
“Lillibet and Meg are adorable,” Elizabeth announced. “Now where is the chocolate? I’m chilled to the bone.”
Marina quickly busied herself adjusting her scarf over her mouth.
Despite Wallis’s inappropriate behavior, the romance between George and Marina grew through the spring and summer. David was pleased to share with Wallis over tea at Bryanston Court in late August—when Ernest was on a business trip to New York, of course—that George officially proposed to Marina when they went to Yugoslavia on holiday with her sister Olga and her husband Prince Paul. The wedding was set for November 1934. MI6 congratulated David and Wallis on a job well done.
David actually manipulated his parents into inviting the Simpsons not only to the Westminster wedding but also to the palace ball preceding the nuptials. He insisted it would be bad for relations with the United States to rebuff such a prominent American businessman as Ernest Simpson and his wife. On the night of the gala, David went to Bryanston Court to escort the couple to Buckingham. Before they left, he pulled out a box from Cartier.
“You don’t mind if I give your wife a trinket to commemorate the occasion, do you?” He smiled in Peter Pan innocence.
“Of course not,” Ernest replied as he beamed. A shadow crossed his face. “Um, who’s paying for the insurance?”
“Oh, Ernest, don’t be dreary.” Wallis opened the box to find a multi-diamond faceted charm bracelet adorned by a single cross embedded with emeralds. “How lovely. Would it be gauche to wear it both to the ball and the wedding?”
“My dear, when did it ever bother you to be gauche?” Ernest laughed, took the bracelet from the box and placed it on her wrist.
The ball was charming. David found himself dancing with Wallis too much during the evening even though Ernest didn’t seem to mind. He even stared at her during the ceremony at Westminster Abby. He had deliberately ordered a prominent seating for the Simpsons in the front of the church. By the way Wallis shifted in her pew David knew she was bored. He didn’t know why that amused him so much. When she began to fidget with her new charm bracelet, David cocked his head. She must find the secret compartment with the note soon. She did. Wallis opened the tiny note and squinted.
“Dec. 30. Anne Hathaway’s cottage.”
He wondered how she would react to the instructions from MI6. She wadded the note and stuck it in her mouth. A moment later he saw her large Adam’s apple bob. Wallis leaned into Ernest to whisper something witty. True to his fashion, he giggled loud enough to echo through the vaulted ceiling of the ancient church. Fortunately the choir was singing at the moment, and no one else seemed to notice.
A little more than a month later, David, wearing a dark toupee and a fake beard, meandered through the home of William Shakespeare, not bothering to listen to the drone of the tour guide’s lecture. He looked down when he felt a hand in his coat pocket. Glancing around he saw nobody who might have been the perpetrator. He reached in to retrieve a note, and read it:
“Stratford Tea House. 1 p.m.”
When he arrived at the appointed hour, David spied Wallis sitting at a back table tapping her fashionable high heeled shoe. She was bored again. He joined her and ordered a cup of tea. Soon General Trotter slipped in the backdoor and joined them.
“Hitler is on the move,” he whispered.
“As Anne Hathaway often said,” Wallis quipped, “no shit Shakespeare.”
David smiled. “I think the proper dirty joke is no—“
“Please, we’re talking national security here,” Trotter interrupted. “We have it on the best authority that Joachim von Ribbentrop is leaving on New Year’s Eve for Germany.”
“So?” David sounded insolent.
“Please.” Wallis was equally impudent. “Joachim would never leave town on one of the most important social evenings of the year.”
“Exactly.” Trotter lit his pipe. “He’s already booked lodgings in Berchtesgaden. We also have sources in Berlin that Hitler has informed his staff that he will extend his Christmas holiday and not return until late January.”
“Do we know what Hitler is planning?” David asked.
“The Treaty of Versailles included several prohibitions on German military, any one of which Hitler is intent on breaking,” Trotter explained.
“Of course,” David agreed.
“Where is Joachim staying? I may get another white carnation,” Wallis asked in a business tone.
David felt himself becoming irritated. “You’ve mentioned those damned white carnations before. What the hell does that mean?”
“None of your damn business.” Wallis lit a cigarette.
Trotter looked out the tea house window and smiled.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails in his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David and Wallis saves Prince George from scandal in Paris.
Across Paris from the Ballet Russe, David and his brother George knocked at the door of a small apartment in the Bois de Boulogne section of town, known for its bohemian artists. Not too shabby because most of the artists had wealthy relatives who supplemented their incomes so that they wouldn’t have to live next door to the truly starving artists.
When the door opened, David was pleasantly surprised. Little Marina was not quite as mousy as he and George remembered her to be. She had a long, pale face with distinctive features of both her Greek and Danish heritage which made for a remarkable visual impact. And, of course, Marina spoke perfect English. All European royalty knew if they wanted their children to marry into British royalty, they would have to speak English. She smiled, curtsied and invited them in. Her smile was askew, which David found charming.
“You’ve grown into a lovely woman from the last time I saw you,” David said, appraising her with his squinty eye.
“I’m happy you remember me at all.” She led them to a small parlor where her father Prince Nicholas was preparing cocktails. “I borrowed my sister’s best gown for the last occasion we met, and I didn’t think I made any impression.” Without allowing David to reply, Marina turned to George and extended her hand. “And you, Prince George, are as handsome as ever.”
“So they tell me.” He lightly kissed her hand, looked up at her face and winked.
“As you may well know, my father is an artist. I understand you have artistic leanings too, George.”
Nicholas approached the Brothers Royale with martinis on a tray. “Since my father the king of Greece was assassinated a few years ago we’ve been living in impoverished exile. Fortunately, my other two daughters have married well, so we don’t have to worry about them anymore. I don’t do badly with my painting but I don’t delude myself about my talent. I think many people get a giggle from telling friends the picture on the wall was painted by Greek royalty.”
The four of them enjoyed their drinks until Grand Duchess Elena appeared in the dining room door to announce, “Dinner is served. I hope you don’t mind beef stroganoff and Caesar salad. I’m most comfortable cooking Russian food, since I’m part Russian.”
Nicholas put his hand on David’s shoulder, as well he should since he was just as royal as David. “We’re all a mélange, aren’t we, the royal families of Europe? I think we’re related.”
Marina slipped her arm around George’s elbow and leaned in. “Hmm. You smell divine. What cologne is that?”
On their train to Cherbourg the next day, all George could talk about was Marina. He continued to lavish his praises upon her on the ship across the English Channel. David was relieved. It would not prove as difficult to guide his brother to the altar as he once feared. Within a month Marina arrived in London on an extended visit with her sister Olga and her husband Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. They stayed at the Claridge Hotel in Mayfair. David decided the press would be more intrigued in the budding romance by witnessing its inception at a social gathering in London. That way the press could chronicle the entire road to nuptials. No mention was to be made of the dinner in Paris. David made one of his now frequent drop-in visits to Bryanston Court for tea with the Simpsons. He knew Ernest was away tending to business in New York, so it was tea with Wallis alone.
“Princess Marina is in town,” he murmured. “We need an official non-family person to introduce her to George.”
“God, I hope you don’t mean me,” Wallis retorted.
David felt a tingle every time she spoke to him with disrespect, and he could not figure out why he liked it. This was not the time that subject entered his mind so he chose to ignore it.
“Perhaps you could suggest to Lady Cunard to invite Marina to one of her dinners when George is sure to show up.”
“Maud would love it.”
“Emerald Cunard. Try to keep up, darling. She started out life in San Francisco as Maud Burke, but when she reeled in Lord Bache Cunard she changed her first name to Emerald.” Wallis fluttered her eyes. “Perhaps she wanted to seem Irish, I suppose.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“David, the things you don’t know would fill a book. Anyway, this idea of the Cunard dinner party is ripe with possibilities. Maud flirts with Nazis, and she’s sure to invite Hitler envoy Joachim von Ribbentrop also. It’s always a good idea to encourage contacts with Herr Hitler, don’t you think?”
The Cunard ploy worked better than David had hoped. Both George and Marina were entertained by the notion they were being introduced for the first time. To eliminate any suggestion of the Windsor family hand in the gambit, David did not attend the affair. Wallis and Ernest of course attended, and she reported back to David the success of the evening. She expected another white carnation soon. Whatever that meant, David had no idea.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-One

Previously in the novel: Mercenary Leon fails in his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. Ribbentrop aligns himself with both Hitler and the “organization.”
David knocked at the door of George’s suite at the Majestic hotel in Paris in the fall of 1933 when the heat had subsided and the trees had taken on shades of auburn and beige.
“Open up, George, it’s me.”
A light-hearted voice called out, “George Gershwin is down the hall!”
“This is not funny. Let me in,” David demanded.
George opened the door wearing a tuxedo and a goofy grin. “Make it fast. I have to be at the Ballet Russe in an hour.”
“No, you’re not.” David pushed him back into the suite and closed the door. Placing his palms on each side of George’s face, he peered into his brother’s eyes. They were clear, but not entirely intelligent by nature. “Thank God you’re not on the drugs again.”
“I take offense at that.” George pulled away, stepped to the closet and reached for his overcoat and top hat. “Now if you please I have a friend who has the starring role in Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.”
“He’s not your friend.” David grabbed George’s shoulder before he could take the coat from a hanger. “Buckingham Palace received a letter from him last week asking for a princely sum not to reveal he’s bedded you several times in the last few weeks. He says he has engraved cigarette cases and lighters to prove it.”
“I don’t believe it.” He looked at his brother and blinked. “Boris isn’t like that.”
“Yes, he is.” David paused. “How would I know about the gifts you gave him, if not from him. Who introduced you?”
George looked away. “Kiki.”
“I rest my case. Don’t dismay. I have a charming evening planned for you. Get your hat and coat. We’re going to the small but respectable apartment of the deposed king of Greece and his family,” David informed him.
“Good God, what have I done to deserve that?” He raised his eyebrow. “I withdraw the question.”
Growing impatient, David went to the closet and took the hat and coat out himself and handed them to George. “They have a lovely daughter, Marina—“
“That mousey thing?” his brother interrupted.
“She is not mousey,” David corrected him as he opened the door and pushed George through. “She just doesn’t have the proper funds to buy the right clothes and have her hair fixed.” They went to the elevator and pushed the down button. “Oh. And be nice about the food. I understand the queen cooks it herself.”
After the elevator door closed, George groused, “Boris still has the cigarette cases and lighters. What are you going to do about that?”
“Don’t worry about it.” David smiled. “They’ll be back in your possession by morning. And that dancer will never bother you again.”

Wallis sat in the front row of the Ballet Russe yawning with boredom as she waited for the curtain to rise on The Firebird. She had never liked that ballet much. She preferred movies. And she didn’t care for the way she was dressed. Wallis wore a platinum blond wig, bobbed. Her eye shadow was blue and her lipstick black. Her hands, decorated with a bluish black fingernail polish, held a red patent leather clutch. The filmy magenta dress barely covered her skinny little bottom. She fit in with the style of les annees folles or the crazy years. It was all right for Josephine Baker but not for her. She preferred a more lady-like fashion. Of course, she was not a lady, but she was trying to be. The seat next to her was empty. She was waiting for Kiki Preston to arrive. Minutes before curtain, Kiki, also dressed in a dramatically short dress, plopped into the seat.
“Kiki, darling! I’m so please to see you!” Wallis lowered her voice and tried to hide her Maryland twang.
Kiki frowned. “Do I know you?”
“Of course, you do!” She grabbed Kiki’s little hand in a tight grip which made the girl wince. “I’ve always wondered. Do you pronounce it Keekee or Kickee?” Wallis kicked her calf, which caused the surprised woman to wince again.
“Why did you do that?” Kiki asked as she tried to pull her hand away.
Wallis dug her nails into Kiki’s palm. Leaning in, she whispered, “Take my advice. Leave right now, and never see George or the Russian dancer again.”
“But Boris and I have a date tonight.”
Wallis tightened her grip. “No, you don‘t.”
Kiki bit her bottom lip to keep from crying.
“If you stay in that chair, you will die in that chair. The custodians will find your lovely body intact except for a nasty needle mark behind your right ear.” Wallis slapped Kiki’s ear with Kiki’s own hand. “Do you understand me?”
Without another word, Kiki stood. Wallis grabbed her wrist.
“Oh, and by the way, tell Princess Stephanie to mind her own damned business.”
Kiki raced from the auditorium as the lights lowered and the orchestra began the overture. The curtain raised, and soon the corps de ballet entered. Boris made an impressive entrance as he bounded, as though free of gravity, across the stage.
“My God,” Wallis muttered, “why do all those dancers have to be so damn skinny?”
After the performance, Wallis made her way backstage and found Boris’ dressing room. Without knocking, she opened the door to find him naked, his skinny body glistening in sweat.
“Oh. I hoped to find you this way,” she announced as she stepped in and closed the door behind her. “Kiki sends her regrets. She had a crushing engagement and couldn’t make it.” Before Boris could say anything she embraced him and planted a kiss on his shocked lips. She pulled away and smiled. “No dinner. Let’s go straight to your apartment.”
Boris fumbled as he put on his street clothes, he asked, “Excuse me, who are you?”
“The best night you’ve ever had.”
He quickly finished, putting on his overcoat, throwing a scarf around his neck and putting a smart fedora on his head. Wallis snatched it away and put it on her own bewigged head.
“I’ll wear that.”
After they arrived at his small apartment near the Moulin Rouge, Wallis pushed him on the bed. “Make yourself comfortable.” She looked around. “Where do you keep your booze?”
His mouth agape, Boris pointed to the dresser. Wallis poured a splash of bourbon in two small glasses, adding a white powder to the one intended for her dancer friend. After he drank it, he passed out. When he awoke an hour later, Wallis had stripped him naked and tied his hands and feet to the bedframe. She straddled him.
“My, this brings back memories of Uncle Sollie.”
“Who?” Boris twisted his wrists in the bindings. “What are you doing?” he yelled.
“Shut up and listen. While you’ve been napping, I’ve been a busy girl. First I got you trussed up like a turkey, then I went through all your drawers and found these little trinkets.” She held up the cases and lighters. “With love from George.” She paused. “Are there any more?”
When he didn’t reply, she slapped his face.
Boris’ eyes widened. “No! No, that’s all.”
“Are you sure, Boris? I don’t like liars.” She slapped him again.
“Please believe me.” He began to cry. “That’s all.”
“I don’t like babies either.” She opened her red patent leather clutch and pulled out a long hat pin. Wallis leaned over and grabbed between his legs, inserting the hat pin.
He wailed in a high pitched yelp.
“You sound like a little girl.”
“I am a little girl,” he whimpered.
“At least you’re honest.” She withdrew the pin. “Stay away from George, or else you’ll get more than the pin next time. Do you understand?’
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Tell your agent you want to go on a world tour. For a long time. Skip London.”
“Yes, ma’am.”