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David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-Five

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. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. On their honeymoon they derail a train. Leon is now a spy par excellent.
Leon did not fulfill his promise to kill Pookah upon his return to Eleuthura from Nassau because the dead plant in his pot was already askew when he walked down the dusty path to his home September 1937. The organization worked fast, he told himself, and it found him more useful alive than dead at this point in time. He found the note which instructed him to take the next ship leaving Nassau to Montevideo, Uruguay, and to await instructions there.
Before he left he whispered in Jessamine’s ear not to speak to Pookah until his return. She wrinkled her brow at first but then nodded. She stepped aside so Leon could say good-bye to his son Sidney. Leon extended his arms to hug him, but Sidney stuck his hand out. Leon didn’t hesitate to take it. His son was growing into a strong young man and hugs were beyond him now. Leon did take comfort that the handshake was strong, warm and held for a long time.
As had become his custom on ocean liners, Leon spent most of his time in his cabin, meditating and exercising. Leon still intended on killing Pookah when he returned, but this mission promised to be a very profitable one. It would fill his family’s bellies for a very long time. He rested his head on the pillow and thought of a conversation he had with Sidney before setting sail.
“Father, you’re always insisting it will be my job to fill my family’s bellies,” Sidney began in slow tones as they sat on the deck of Old Jinglepocket’s fishing boat.
“Yes, I’ve always believed that, and you must believe it too.”
“But you mean more than just physical hunger, don’t you, Father?”
Leon took a moment to reply to his son’s question. He had never thought of it that way. All his life his thoughts had never risen above getting actual food into his family’s bellies. But he had to admit he had created a life for his son in which just eating was not enough.
“Of course, Son, that’s what I meant. More than food. Safety. Security. Happiness.”
Those words continued to echo through his mind throughout the rest of the journey to Montevideo. When Leon descended the plank at port, a half-dressed native pushed a small pottery bowl into his hand.
“Here, here, what you need.”
Leon reached for his wallet to pay, but the beggar disappeared into the crowd. Leon took a note jammed into the bowl.
Hotel Carrasco.
Hailing a cab, Leon instructed the driver to take him to the hotel. When he arrived, Leon paid the cabbie, stepped from the taxi and noticed a small boy sitting on the curb. Leon took a few pesos out of his pocket and dropped them into the bowl which he handed to the child.
“Here, fill this with food for yourself.”
“Gracias, senor.”
Leon entered the elegant lobby as though he owned it, approached the desk and signed in. A bellhop took the key and his luggage and went to an elevator. On the way up, he muttered to Leon, “You should see the sunset atop Fortress Carro. It is quite impressive.”
The sun had just touched the far horizon on the observation deck of the fortress when a man came up behind Leon.
“Don’t turn around.”
Leon recognized the American southern accent he heard when he was tied up on the Nassau wharf. At least this time he didn’t have a sack over his head.
“The organization doesn’t know what to do with you, Mr. Johnson. Your insolence merits instant assassination, but you are our best agent. The commandant selected you personally for this assignment. Beginning tonight, you are to roam the casinos of Montevideo until you find a man named Amleto Battisti. I won’t waste your time describing him. If he is at the tables, everyone will be saying his name. He is known as a mathematician with the memory of an elephant. He is also vindictive, so don’t cross him. Senor Battisti lost a million dollars at Biarritz on the Atlantic coast near the border of France and Spain eight years ago. He came home to Uruguay to lick his wounds and hone his skills. Next week he leaves for Biarritz to break the bank. The organization, for a sizable cut, is bankrolling his endeavor using a syndicate of Cuban, South American and French adventurers as a front.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Biarritz Hotel du Palais casino has paid Spanish guerrillas to kill him if it looks like he will succeed.”
“And you want me to kill them as inconspicuously as possible.”
“But of course.” He paused. “Damn, the sunset over the mountains is spectacular. Anyway, find him, learn his habits, keep him alive, but never let him know you exist.”
Leon had a light supper in the Hotel Carrasco dining room before hailing a taxi to take him to the nearest casino.
“No need for me, senor,” the driver said with a smile. “The best casino in town is just down the street.”
Leon pressed some coins into the man’s hand, tipped his hand and sauntered in the casino’s location. When he arrived he saw a line of cabs waiting to unload their passengers. He passed two elderly, well-dressed men getting out of their cab.
“Do you know if Amleto is here tonight?” one said to the other.
“I believe I heard it rumored, yes,” his friend replied.
“Oh hell, let’s go someplace else where at least I’ll have a chance,” the first man said, pushing his companion back into their taxi.
Once inside the casino, all Leon had to do was follow the excited whispers to a faintly lit corner where men in tuxedos sat around a poker table. Stylishly dressed women leaned over all the players except one slender man who sat apart from the others. Two large men with their arms crossed in front of them flanked him. Leon had been in the business long enough to know that the men were bodyguards, probably from the Mafia. The man himself was thin, unassuming, approximately forty-something years old. Balding. Expensive suite but unaccompanied by any jewelry except for plain wedding band. He neither smoked nor drank.
Leon settled into the bar across the room but still in good view of Senor Battisti. Nursing a glass of champagne for the rest of the evening, he wondered why the organization would be concerned for the gambler’s safety if he were under the protection of the Mafia. Battisti rarely moved his face as he reached for cards and then discarded them. His eyes were dark and never revealed any emotion. As the game progressed, other players threw in their cards until only one remained, a silver haired gentleman in a white linen suit similar to what Leon wore. Eventually the old man conceded, stood and extended his hand. Guards stepped forward. The old man withdrew his hand and stepped away.
When Battisti stood to leave, the crowds moved back. One guard walked in front and the other followed behind. Leon leaned into a shapely blonde seated next to him, smiled and began a conversation. He smiled and extended his hand to her knee, and she didn’t flinch. In a few minutes, Leon noticed the whispers in the casino had subsided, indicating Battisti had left the establishment. He winked at the woman, paid for her drink, glided off his chair and left.
Leon slept in the next morning. He wanted to be fully rested when he arrived at the casino that evening. Over lunch he decided to buy a black tuxedo. His white linen suit was his favorite. It made him stand out, but Leon knew he did not need to stand out on this mission. He must blend in, be invisible. Good bodyguards would notice if the same black man in a white suit appeared every night at the casino. Leon even took the precaution to hire a native Uruguayan lady, whose complexion matched his own, to be his companion. She wore a filmy chocolate brown gown slit low to display her décolletage. If anyone in the casino glanced at them, they would assume Leon was more interested in his escort’s bosom than the gambling.
Battisti and his guards arrived promptly at eight o’clock and the maître‘d showed them to their corner table. Leon realized that from his seat Battisti saw the entire room, the entrance, the door going to the kitchen and the fire exit. His guards filled the space behind him and the wall. No one could pass behind the gambler. Battisti never drank during the evening. That would necessitate a trip to the men’s room sometime during the game, and he didn’t move from his seat. As far as Leon could detect, the gambler had no discernible tells. The mercenary was not worried, however; he still had several nights to observe before they moved on to Biarritz.
When Leon returned to his hotel that night, he requested the desk to send him every morning newspaper published in Montevideo. He ate his breakfast in bed as he read every paper where he found several accounts about Senor Amleto Battisti. While he was indeed a native of Uruguay, Battisti now resided in Havana, where he owned the largest, most opulent hotel/casino in Cuba, and was close friends with the president. He held interests in the transport of liquor and in the entertainment industry. Taking into account the nature of the syndicate members who were financing his foray into Biarritz, Leon judged with confidence Battisti was a leader in the Mafia. He also speculated the Spanish guerrillas had more than one reason to assassinate the Uruguayan. As communist freedom fighters against fascist dictator Francisco Franco, they would considered any member of the Mafia as a mortal enemy.
Leon arrived early at the casino that night wearing ordinary street clothes and entered through the kitchen where he bought a waiter’s uniform from an employee. It consisted of black tuxedo slacks, white linen shirt, black bowtie and red silk vest. As he moved from table to table, Leon concentrated on habits of the body guards.
Both were wide at the shoulders and thick of waist. One was as dark as Leon, but the other looked more Latin, perhaps from Cuba, Italy or France. The Latin was stolid, rarely moving his head either way. About halfway through the evening, The Latin motioned to his partner he had to make a trip to the men’s room. The darker guard’s face showed every emotion he was feeling as he scanned the room. Once in a while he lingered over the figure of a voluptuous woman. As a test, Leon let a glass slip from his tray and crash on the floor. The guard jumped and his left hand went involuntarily to a concealed shoulder harness.
The fourth night Leon returned in his white linen suit and sidled up to a blonde at the bar. Neither guard noticed him. Battisti used a handkerchief several times during the evening, but Leon couldn’t make out a pattern to his behavior. Perhaps he just had a cold. On the last night, Leon arrived in his tuxedo and the woman in the chocolate gown. Toward the end of the evening, as another experiment, he accused a man of brushing up next to his lady friend. The man was startled and stepped away, but Leon continued his loud, aggressive accusations. Battista and his Latin guard ignored the confrontation, but the black guard stirred and began to move in Leon’s direction when the gambler discreetly touched his sleeve. The accused man exited without a word, and the room resumed its normal atmosphere.
As a final test, Leon stepped in front of Battisti and his entourage as they left. None of them broke their stride or glanced Leon’s way. He not made any impression on them, a good sign for the upcoming occasion in Biarritz. Leon felt satisfied he was ready for anything that might arise on the hot border between France and Spain.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-Four

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. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. On their honeymoon they derail a train.
Life could not be better for Joachim Von Ribbentrop. He had the confidence of Adolf Hitler who constantly summoned him to the Wolf’s Lair in Berchtesgaden high in the German Alps. Ribbentrop hoped this time the Fuehrer wanted advice on whether to invite the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Germany in October. His body warmed at the thought of being close to Wallis again.
His black limousine arrived at the Nazi stronghold. A butler ushered him into a room in the bowels of the basement. The room, well-lit, was filled by a giant table covered with model train tracks crossing miniature Alps, over painted rivers and through carefully constructed villages. Scattered around the scene were army barracks and training grounds and air fields and all manner of military aircraft.
“Come in, Herr Ribbentrop.” Hitler stood in the middle of the square opening in the table.
Ribbentrop clicked his heels and raised his arm. “Heil Hitler!”
“Our Princess Stephanie thinks it would be a good idea to invite the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for a visit. What do you think?”
“I think it is an honor that you would want my opinion.”
Hitler bent over to examine an engine disappearing through a mountain tunnel. “Yes, I know.”
“Well, during my years in London, I entertained the duke and duchess many times in my apartment. Even the newspapers commented on the power of my influence over them concerning relations between Germany and England.”
“Frankly, I question the loyalty of Princess Stephanie. She’s Jewish, you know.”
Hitler brought up her heritage every time he spoke to Ribbentrop who placated the Fuehrer with the same explanation.
“One cannot choose one’s parents.” Ribbentrop hesitated. “As you are aware, she’s the lover of Fritz Wiedemann, your most trusted adjutant. Surely Fritz would not put you in a precarious situation with anyone with questionable motives.” Ribbentrop felt his heart hesitate like a rock was pressing down on his chest.
Hitler walked to another part of the table where the train was about to exit the tunnel. “Recently at a dinner party I sat next to Stephanie and noticed her purse. I commented about the secrets kept in such a pretty little bag. She laughed nervously and pulled out a small stuffed bear. Stephanie said it was a gift from Edward when he was still Prince of Wales.”
“Oh. Well.” Ribbentrop fumbled with his words. “A memento of the chase. Nothing more.”
“That’s what she said.” Hitler walked to the side where Ribbentrop stood. A miniature train rushed across a bridge. “I have another question about the duke.”
“What is it, mein Fuehrer?”
“Last month on their honeymoon, they stopped in Venice coming and going from the Austrian castle offered to them. On their way home they were feted at the Brazilian Legation where he sat next to our friend George Messersmith. At one point Messersmith was called away from the table. An Austrian chancellor’s emissary told him a German train derailed near the Austrian-Italian border. One of the sealed cars was cracked open revealing naval shells for our battleships in nearby Italian ports.”
“I didn’t know that,” Ribbentrop replied.
“Few people did. We didn’t want England or France to know of our buildup on the Mediterranean. When Messersmith returned, the duke asked him about the message and our friend told him all the details. By the end of the evening, the duke had whispered it to everyone in the dining room. The duke has a loose tongue, it seems. Do you think it would be safe to invite them to Germany?”
“More than safe,” he replied with great confidence. “The duke has made no secret of his advocacy of peace with Germany at any cost. He does not want a repeat of the debacle from two decades ago. The incident just reflects his naiveté on foreign policy. He thought it was just party patter. Nothing to worry about.”
“He was a martyr for our cause.” Hitler lifted his chin. “He lost the throne for my name’s sake.”
Ribbentrop doubted if that were the main reason for his abdication, but he didn’t want to impede his goal of making love to Wallis again.
“Then it is settled.” Hitler clapped his hands. “I shall send an official invitation tomorrow. We will treat the royal couple the way they deserve. I shall show them our factories, our armies, our aircraft and our battleships. Then the duke can speak as freely as he wants about the wealth and power of the Third Reich!”
“You can assure the duke he shall be king of England again with Wallis as his queen!” Ribbentrop was becoming aroused.
Hitler nodded. “I can do that. I’ve seen her photographs and the newsreels. She looks like a queen.”
Ribbentrop saluted and clicked his heels. “Seig heil!”
“Children will sing and dance for them!” Hitler paced back and forth in his enclosure. “Women will toss flowers at their feet! And I will show them this!” He motioned toward the model train layout.
“Yes. Hum.” Ribbentrop chose his words carefully. “I don’t remember seeing this the last time I visited.”
“It is a gift from Herr Hermann Goring, the head of the Luftwaffe. I saw it when I visited his country estate. I suggested it would make a most appropriate gift to me. Of course, he immediately agreed. He told me it was worth $265,000.” Hitler frowned. “Now I think about it, why did he give me cost in American dollars and not in deutschmarks? Hmm, I should have that investigated.” He looked at Ribbentrop. “That is all. You may leave.”
“Um. Yes. Of course. Are you sure you don’t have anything else you wish to discuss?”
“No. I have to go to the bathroom, and the only way to get out of this thing is to crawl under the table on my hands and knees. And no one must ever see me on my hands and knees.”
“Of course. I shall return to Berlin immediately.” As Ribbentrop opened the door, he heard a soft child-like voice behind him.
“Toot, toot.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-Three

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. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. On their honeymoon they plan to derail a train.
David and Wallis sat finishing their lunch in a small intimate dining room in Schloss Wasserleonburg castle. The bay window exposed the Austrian Alps in its full August splendor. Wallis had been successful in extracting information from Ribbentrop about train activity. Regular deliveries were being made from Salzburg through Villach and across the Italian frontier to the port of Trieste on the extreme northeast border of Italy. Certain rail cars were sealed and marked as property of the Nazi government. David and Wallis relayed the information to MI6, and General Trotter arrived at the castle last week with their orders and preparation. They were to derail the engine and discover what was in the sealed cars. The train would be crossing the Gail River near Arnoldstein about 10 p.m. After a few moments of silent reverence, Wallis reached over to squeeze David’s hand.
“Are you sure we have to go through with this mission?” Her voice was real, for once, filled with apprehension. “Let me go out in the woods and pick the best poisonous vines. Give me a good sturdy hat pin. But carrying sticks of dynamite in a backpack across a mountain to a railroad track, well, it scares the hell out of me.”
David smiled. “Nonsense. Nothing could scare the hell out of you.”
Andreas, the majordomo, entered and bowed. “Was the luncheon to your satisfaction?”
“Of course.” David leaned back in his chair and puffed on a cigarette. His line of vision never left the view through the window. ”The duchess and I were just discussing the beauty of the Austrian Alps. We’ve decided we must be a part of this enchanting forest.”
“Well, not literally a part of the landscape,” Wallis added as she sucked on her own cigarette.
“We would like the kitchen to fix us a picnic supper. We plan to hike down to the Gail River, camp under the stars and return in the morning.”
“Ah,” Andreas exclaimed, “an excellent choice. Many of our guests say a hike to the Gail River is the highlight of their stay in Austria. May we organize your backpacks? Our maids are quite expert—“
“Oh no,” David interrupted. “The duchess loves to pack, don’t you, my dear?”
“Yes, I’m just dying for this adventure.” Wallis crushed her cigarette in what was left of her sunny-side up egg.
David and Wallis spent the afternoon packing. Each had German uniforms. David had an officer’s and Wallis a private’s.
“How come you get to be the colonel?”
“I speak fluent German. It’s my mutter’s tongue.”
“I speak German too.”
“Like what?”
Scheitze. Nein. Weiner schnitzel.”
“That would be fine if we were going to a German beer hall.”
Wallis picked up a revolver.
“And when do I use this?”
“As the Boy Scouts say, be prepared.”
Then she clicked on her torch to make sure the batteries were working. Its light flashed on. “Good. Don‘t stumble through the Alps at night without one.”
Late afternoon they left the castle and entered the Austrian forest wearing fashionable yet jaunty hiking clothes, each shouldering a backpack. As the sun set, David and Wallis sat on a boulder outcrop to eat their supper. They turned on their torches as they returned to the well-worn mountain trail. They had only gone a couple of miles when a grizzled old man pulling along pack mule appeared coming the other way. David waved at him, and he nodded.
“Nothing as invigorating as an evening hike in the Alps,” the duke announced.
“Except for a plunge in the Adriatic,” the man replied.
“I’m starved,” Wallis added. “Do you have sandwiches on you?”
“No.” The old man went to a bag tied around his mule. “But I have something much more satisfying.” He pulled out two sticks of dynamite and handed one to each of them.
“Will that be enough?” she asked.
“You want to derail the train, not blow it to kingdom come. Happy hunting.” The stranger continued to pull his donkey into the darkness and soon disappeared.
“And what are we to do with these?” she asked.
David turned his back to her. “Ever so gently slide it into my pack. “
She followed his direction and then turned so he could put the other stick in her pack.
“Aren’t these things supposed to have fuses?” she asked.
“They’ll be given to us closer to the track.”
A couple of hours passed without much conversation. Soon they heard the sound of rapids from the river. Before they came upon the Gail they saw a portion of a flag hanging from a bush. It was the Union Jack.
“Hello,” David whispered as he took the cloth and stuffed it into his pocket.
“How dreadfully unpatriotic.” Wallis leaned over to look behind the bush where two rolls of fuse wire were nestled. “That’s a lot of wire.”
“Well, you don’t want to be too close when you light one of those things.”
Each took one roll and continued down to the river bank. When they arrived they looked up to see the railroad bridge silhouetted against a half-moon. David and Wallis climbed up to the track where they opened their packs and pulled out the two sticks of dynamite.
They laid the sticks between the two rails, attached the fuses and unrolled the wires back into the forest. Then they opened their packs, pulled out German uniforms and changed clothes. They sat on the ground and waited.
“So how are we going to light these things?” Wallis cracked.
“Don’t you remember the training General Trotter gave us when he visited the castle last week? How fast fuses run and how to calculate igniting the fuse so it explodes right before the engine rolls over it. He went over it several times.” He paused. “You brought your cigarettes, didn’t you? Light the fuse with the lit end.” David smiled at her.
“I could use one now.”
“Don’t you dare.” He looked into her eyes. “Now what can we do under the moonlight while we’re waiting for the train?”
Before Wallis answered, they heard the distant call of a train whistle. They turned off their torches.
“I hope we’re fast learners.” Wallis fumbled for her lighter.
The whistle blew louder. David put his hand on Wallis’s.
“Not yet.”
Soon they saw the engine light appear in the distance.
They lit their fuses and watch the sparkling line go toward the track. The train was now loud, the cars clearly visible.
“Dammit,” she hissed. “We didn’t light them too soon, did we?”
“No, no.” David’s voice did not convey confidence.
The explosion rocked the earth. The engineer threw on his brakes, causing them to squeal. David and Wallis covered their ears and grimaced at the sound. The train slowed a little but not enough to avoid the gaping hole in the track. It hit the broken rail with a heavy thud; the attached cars derailed and overturned. Nazi soldiers crawled out of the train windows and jumped from the doors. They scrambled about the wreckage like a bunch of disturbed cockroaches. David and Wallis put on their helmets, grabbed their revolvers and torches and joined the hysteria.
They had only gone past a couple of cars when they noticed one that had “Nazi government” emblazoned on the side and whose seal was broken. Wallis pointed her torch inside, lighting the contents. They saw piles of fifteen centimeter naval shells.
“They’re making sure their war ships have plenty of ammo when they move into the Mediterranean to fight the British and the French,” David muttered.
A voice behind them bellowed in German. When they turned around they saw a colonel with his revolver drawn. He spat something at them.
“I am Colonel von Seidleman!” David barked in perfect German. “How dare you leave this shipment of shells unprotected!”
“That was exactly what I was doing! How did you arrive here so fast?” the colonel asked.
“That is my job!” David retorted. “Why weren’t you here sooner?”
Seig heil!” Wallis spat out.
The colonel spun toward her. “How dare you speak to me in such a tone!”
“Oh, to hell with it,” Wallis said in English as she pulled out her revolver and shot him in the chest.
In seconds, they were surrounded by other German soldiers.
“We recognized this man to be a British spy!” David pointed to the body on the ground. “Who is responsible for this?”
The colonel moaned. David’s eyes widened before he regained his composure.
“Good! He’s alive. Take him off and interrogate him immediately. Let me know what you find out.”
The soldiers picked up the colonel and carried him to the back of the train. David and Wallis turned and walked up to examine the damage to the engine, then disappeared into the darkness of the forest.
“I thought I told you to say nothing,” David asked in a hiss.
“Oh sheitze.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-Two

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. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and Leon declines to kill.
Wallis awoke in Chateau Cande the morning after the wedding to the sight of David wearing nothing but a winning smile as he stood over her.
“Well,” he asked, “what do we do now?”
She was taken aback because someone in MI6 always told them what to do next. It wasn’t up to them. “How the hell would I know? I’m only the simpering bride.”
“Why don’t we blow up a train?”
“Before lunch?”
“Oh no.” He sat on the bed and leaned into her. “We have three months of honeymooning in an Austrian castle to work out the details. General Trotter slipped a note into one of our wedding presents that I happened to open last night. The Germans are up to something and we have to derail a train before it reaches an Italian port.” He shifted his body. “Do you mind my being so close?”
“I didn’t know you cared.”
“I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
That afternoon they packed their bags and boarded a train to Venice where they spent a couple of days doing the usual tourist things, like riding a gondola trough the Grand Canal, meandering through St. Mark’s Square and touring the Doge’s Palace. The next day they continued on to Venice where they connected to another train to the village of Villach in the Austrian Alps where they were to reside in Schloss Wasserleonburg for the rest of the summer.
As they stepped off the train at midnight, a local children’s choir serenaded them. An attendant handed Wallis a dozen white carnations.
“Oh dear. I didn’t think Joachim would be trailing us like a lost puppy.” She sighed.
“Ribbentrop. This might prove serendipitous. If he contacts you, agree to meet with him.”
Her eyebrow arched. “On our honeymoon?”
David guided her through the crowd to a waiting limousine. “Remember. We must learn what’s on that train. Remember? So do it for the King.”
“The King?” A smirk crossed her face.
“You know, my dippy brother. Bertie.”
That night a lone white carnation arrived at the dinner hour. The note attached was addressed to Wallis:
“Organ concert, 8 p.m. St. Jakob-Kirche.”
She showed the note to David who smiled.
“At least you know he won’t try seduce you in a church.”
“You don’t know Joachim very well, do you?”
When Wallis arrived at the ancient church in downtown Villach, the pipe organ concert had already begun, and classic religious music echoed through the vaulted ceiling. If Ribbentrop didn’t arrive soon, she decided as she settled into a pew in the shadows, she’d return to the castle.
“You know St. Jakob is the oldest Protestant church in Austria,” a voice whispered into her ear from behind her.
“For God’s sake, Joachim,” she muttered, “if you want to talk, at least sit on the same pew with me.”
Ribbentrop wasted no time scooting in next to Wallis. “Did you get my carnations?”
“Yes.” She paused. “The white roses the mayor gave me were beautiful. Your carnations were, after all, just carnations.”
“You drive me insane, my dear.”
“How thrilling, the organ master, I mean.”
“The Fuehrer was indignant the Parliament forced King Edward from the throne because of his support of the Nazi regime.”
She looked at him and furrowed her brow. “I thought David gave up the throne for the woman he loved, and I presumed he meant me. I don’t remember National Socialism coming up in any of our conversations during the abdication.”
“That was what the newspapers said, but the Fuehrer knew better.” Ribbentrop’s breathing was labored.
“Of course, he did.” Irony licked her every word.
“I understand it would be inappropriate for us to spend special time together while you’re here in Villach.”
“Yes, it is my honeymoon.”
“But this October, if you and your husband could visit Germany, perhaps we could carve out a few hours just for the two of us.”
His proposal caught her attention. An extended visit with Adolf Hitler. Wallis, with her extensive knowledge of poisons and long sharp hat pins, could make a valuable contributions to the cause of peace in Great Britain. Of course, she could not appear too interested.
“Germany. In October. All you’ve got to offer me is a month of drinking beer?”
“Yes!” He tried to control his exuberance. “Of course, we cannot make it too obvious. I could use our mutual friend Princess Stephanie to place the idea of inviting the duke and duchess of Windsor for a visit in the mind of her current lover Fritz Weidemann, Herr Hitler’s adjutant. Your husband and the Fuehrer could discuss world peace and the plight of the working man while we discuss us.”
“World peace? That’s the best you can come up with?” Wallis scoffed.
“Don’t dismiss world peace, my dear. War is on the horizon. Germany is preparing.” His tone turned serious. “Even as we listen to this angelic music, munitions are on trains to the furthest corners of Europe. And England and France don’t even know.”
Wallis’s mind immediately went to David’s conversation the day after the wedding about blowing up a train. This was information which MI6 must have. She looked Ribbentrop and fluttered her eye lashes.
“What were you saying? I was distracted by this marvelous concert. He’s playing Mozart, isn’t he?”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-One

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.
On the morning of her divorce hearing, a crisp October day in 1936, Wallis could not see anything but the haughty contempt in the eyes of the judge, Sir John Hawke. Crimson and ermine robes and a white judicial wig obscured the rest of his shrunken elderly body. She was not sure he had a mouth or nose except when he sneezed and coughed up nasty clumps of phlegm.
The ordeal began several weeks earlier when news of the divorce broke in newspapers around the world. William Randolph Hearst in particular was interested in any photographs of her hair blown astray, her fingernail disentangling a bit of roast beef in her teeth or of her getting out of an automobile in such a clumsy manner that her dress rose up to her thigh. Wallis, fortunately, had spent years practicing the finer arts of good manners so no pictures of that nature would ever appear in print.
A week before the hearing she took a small cottage in Felixstowe in Suffolk. All the London divorce dockets were filled so she had to look to a country court to finish this business as quickly and as efficiently as possible. David told her the smaller setting would make it easier to control the crowds. Screaming fans tossed flowers at her and newsmen flashed their cameras as Wallis walked out of the cottage that morning. She thought it couldn’t have been worse if she had been in Piccadilly Circus.
Her lawyer, Norman Birkett, tried to guide her through the proceedings as gently as possible. He produced a letter from Mary Raffray declaring her love for Ernest Simpson. Mary, of course, wrote the note at the urging of Ernest, who had conveniently left it on Wallis’ dressing table. Birkett handed it to the judge who blew his nose before reading it.
“I can’t make heads or tails of this,” Judge Hawke grumbled in the style of an irritable old English squire. “I can’t even vouch that this is a woman’s handwriting.”
Birkett quickly presented a typed transcription to the judge who just then had a coughing fit. It was all that Wallis could do not to gag a bit herself. She watched the judge squint at the document.
“What kind of evidence is this?” he demanded. “It’s not even romantic. Why anyone would get excited over this bunch of puffery is beyond me.”
Wallis knew she should have insisted MI6 send an emissary to the judge’s home last night to impress on him the importance to national security to approve the divorce decree. Hell, she muttered to herself, they should have threatened to kill the old bastard.
“After finding that letter,” Birkett continued, “Mrs. Simpson employed a detective agency to follow her husband on a weekend trip to the Hotel de Paris at Bray on the Thames during Ascot week. They observed Mr. Ernest Simpson accepting a breakfast tray from a hotel employee at his room which he shared with a woman who was registered as Buttercup Kennedy but was almost certainly Mary Raffray.“
“You mean to tell me you don’t know if the woman sharing Mr. Simpson’s room was indeed Mary Raffray rather than this Buttercup person?” the judge bellowed.
“Whether the woman was Mary Raffray or Buttercup Kennedy makes no difference,” Birkett countered. “It was not Mrs. Simpson. Mr. Simpson was consorting with a woman who was not his wife.”
Judge Hawke blustered for several minutes without saying much of anything of consequence until Birkett interjected all that was left for the judge to do was issue a decree nisi, divorce with final adjudication in six months.
The old man blew his nose again. “I suppose I must under these unusual circumstances. So you may have it.”
Several reporters accosted Wallis on her way out of court.
“Do you plan on returning to the United States?’
“Why should I? The press there has been atrocious to me.”
“Did you know your first husband Win Spencer was divorced from his second wife?”
“No, and why should I care?”
“He released a statement that he hoped you were happy. He was sorry he could not provide the social life that you wanted. He particularly stressed he wished you all the happiness in the world.”
David relaxed in his favorite chair in front of the fire at Fort Belvedere awaiting the arrival of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. It was the first week of December, and snow was on the ground. Nursing a glass of brandy he thought of the many happy times he had spent at the old place—fixing it up, creating the garden, hosting parties. He tried to remember how many women he had bedded in his boudoir but he couldn’t quite come up with an accurate number.
Baldwin had spent the day with members of Parliament and with David’s mother, brother Bertie and the tweedy types that hovered around them. They were going to make a list of demands and consequences for David if he followed through with his threat to resign and marry Wallis—or, as his mother called her, that adventuress.
He wouldn’t miss the official duties at all. As long as he could have an occasional dinner with his mother Queen Mary and go riding with his brothers, George, Bertie and Harry, all would be fine. He could do without the Duchess of York Elizabeth. He was rather fond of Lillibet and Margaret Rose. David looked around the wood-paneled parlor of Fort Belvedere and smiled. Yes, he had been willing to risk his life on missions for the empire, then enjoyed coming home to the Fort to recuperate.
He heard a knock at the door, and the butler allowed Prime Minister Baldwin to enter and guided him into the parlor. David could not tell by the look on Baldwin’s face how the negotiations had gone. He knew for certain that the prime minister himself was against it. David didn’t care what the old prune-faced gent thought about the situation.
“Would you care for a brandy, Prime Minister?” David asked, as most congenial hosts would have offered.
“No, thank you.”
“Then please have a seat.” He pointed to a comfortable padded armchair across the fireplace from his own.
Baldwin took his time settling in before looking directly into the King’s eyes. “I would be remiss if I did not make one last plea that your majesty to relent in your pursuit of Mrs. Simpson and continue in your duties as our monarch.”
“There are more reasons than I am willing to elucidate at this time why that position is untenable,” David replied, returning eye contact with the prime minister.
“Well then, let us get down to the details. The abdication news will be released tomorrow to all outlets, which are expected to comment editorially. Read them or not, that is your privilege. Your majesty shall prepare a statement to be read on the public airwaves sometime in the next few days. Shortly after that you will sign six copies of the Act of Abdication.”
What the prime minister was saying blurred in his mind. He had no problem with the procedure. He wanted to get back to his life of espionage.
“Now we have the financial situation to consider. You and your brother the Duke of York own Sandringham and Balmoral. Arrangements have been made for the duke to buy them from you. You have considerable income coming from the Duchy of Cornwall which has been invested. However, you have never paid income tax. As a private citizen your tax rate would be seventy-five per cent. The alternative is,” the prime minister hesitated before stating, “that you never live in England again.”
“That wouldn’t be so bad.” David paused to consider the consequences. “Wait a minute. What about Fort Belvedere?”
“Of course, it would go back to being part of the Royal preserve. What the trustees do with it is anyone’s guess.”
David stood and walked around the room. This place had been his refuge for many years. After the abdication, the fort would no longer be his. David took pride in his existential views of life, that nothing much matter, people, castles, friendship, love. But he did love this home. He felt a lump in his throat.
“Very good.” He smiled at Baldwin. “One place is as good as another.” He lied.
The news from England spread to the Bahamas quickly. All the passengers on the ferry from Freeport to Nassau talked about the abdication of King Edward VIII and his move to France to be near his lover Wallis Simpson. Her divorce was finalized in the spring, so everyone expected the couple to marry sometime in the summer of 1937.
Leon sat by himself, puffing on a cigarette of Egyptian tobacco, and listened to but not engaging in the conversation. He wanted to give the impression that he cared nothing about the private lives of the former king of England; but in reality, he was deeply involved with the newly created Duke of Windsor and his lady. He knew for certain the duke was an international spy and his fiancé Mrs. Simpson was surely his accomplice. He spared their lives once on a dock in Corsica, and he wondered how many other times he would compromise his own orders to repay the duke for sparing his life many years ago in Canterbury.
The sun set by the time the ferry arrived in Nassau. Leon looked forward to seeing the blonde card dealer in the casino at the Rialto. When he returned from his walk that morning, Leon took a note from the disheveled plant pot in front of his Eleuthura house. The organization had a new assignment for him. He hoped it was on the other side of the world from the duke and his paramour.
Leon was about to hail a carriage to the Rialto when two men grabbed him and rushed him into a warehouse on the docks. They pushed a burlap sack over his head, shoved him down onto a chair and tied him to it. So this is my end, he thought. So be it. Leon wished he could have lasted another couple of years so his son Sidney would have completed his training and taken his place with the organization. But this was the way of life.
“The organization is not pleased with you.”
Leon recognized the accent to be from the American South although he could not ascertain the exact region from which it came. It was not the earthy drawl of Texas. It did not have the sweet lilt of Mississippi. Nor the soft glide of the Georgian tongue.
“You didn’t complete your mission in Corsica. Are you able to explain why?”
“They moved too fast. I couldn’t get a shot off.” Leon was pleased with himself with his justification, although it was blatantly a lie.
“You would have already been dead, but the organization’s commandant has a high regard for your previous work.”
“I am flattered.”
“You have been given one last chance to vindicate yourself.”
“How generous.”
“The former King of England Edward VIII now known as the Duke of Windsor will marry Wallis Simpson at Chateau de Cande near Tours. A large wooded park surrounds it, so there’s maximum security. However, we have contacts within the staff of Cande’s owner, industrialist Charles Bedaux. We can supply you identification papers to infiltrate the wedding party. Once inside you will assassinate the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.”
Leon gathered his thoughts before he spoke. “Very good. My congratulations to the operative who originated the plan. I have only a few observations.”
“Why kill the couple? Once he abdicated he was of no use to anyone.”
“You know why.” The voice turned sinister. “We know you deliberately chose to spare his life and that of Mrs. Simpson on Corsica. You must prove your loyalty by killing them now.”
“Hmm.” Leon cocked his head. His mind raced. Pooka must have told someone. If he survived this night, he would take pleasure in killing her. But his captors did not need to know his plans. “And why do you think they would allow a black man into the wedding party?”
“You will be dressed as a servant, of course.”
“Does Monsieur Bedaux have other black servants?”
“I—I don’t know.”
“My guess would be no.” Leon hurried on to his last point. “Finally, why put me to a test of loyalty since this is obviously a suicide mission. Simply put a bullet in my head now and let the Duke and Duchess lead their merry, meaningless lives. I mean, you truly don’t believe MI6 will continue to use them as agents now that their cover has been exposed?”
A long silence ensued. Leon had made his point.
“They told me you were smart, very smart it seems.”
“I know.”
“Untie him. Send him on his way. I have to confer with the commandant on how to proceed.”

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.