"God helping me," said Frederic, "I will not fail in my duty to my country."
There was something magnificent in his manner as he spoke, something almost regal, and Fleck regarded him with a puzzled air. Who was he, this man who had been sent out from Germany on this mission--this man to whom even old Otto paid deference? Despite the assurance with which he had spoken Fleck had observed in Frederic an uneasiness, a watchfulness, that none of the others seemed to exhibit. He had the appearance of alertly listening, listening, for what? Fleck's first thought was that he might have overheard the little cry that Jane had inadvertently given, but he quickly dismissed this theory. If Frederic had heard that sound it would have alarmed him, and the look in his eyes now was one of expectancy rather than of fear.
Jane, too, was puzzled and distressed. With trembling hands she clutched at the sill of the window for support as she heard Frederic assent to old Otto's plans for him. Her estimate of his character made it seem incredible that he would willingly lend himself to this work of wholesale murder, yet she could no longer doubt the evidence of her own ears. With overwhelming force it came to her that this man who so readily agreed to such bloody, dastardly work as this, must undoubtedly be also the murderer of that K-19 whose body had been found just around the corner from her home. Bitterly she reproached herself that she had allowed herself to care for him. Shamedly she confessed to herself that she still loved him--even now.
"Your great work accomplished," Otto continued, "remember your orders.
Forty miles due east of Sandy Hook there will be lying two great submarines, waiting to take you off--not U-boats, but two of our powerful, wonderful new X-boats, big enough to destroy any of their little cruisers that are patrolling the coast, fast enough to escape any of their torpedo boats. How important the war office judges your work you may realize from this--it is the first mission on which these new X-boats have been dispatched. They are out there now. We have had a wireless from them. They are waiting to convey six heroes back to the Fatherland, where the highest honors will be bestowed on them at the hands of our Emperor himself. Herr Captain and Comrades--"
He stopped abruptly, and there came into his face a pained look of surprise, of terror.
_"Was is dass?_" he cried in alarm.
One of Fleck's men in hiding out there in the shadow of the building had been seized by an irresistible desire to sneeze.