The Story of Henri Tod

The Story of Henri Tod by William F. Buckley

Book: The Story of Henri Tod by William F. Buckley Read Free Book Online
Authors: William F. Buckley
Russians, so why not a compensatory fling in the hospital?
    Rodino rather enjoyed describing the mechanics of his operation, which involved taking over one third of one entire wing of the officers’ section of the hospital, ostensibly there for wounded field-grade officers and higher. Finding himself with no less than twelve rooms, suddenly he contrived to make them off limits to the regular medical staff, on the ostensible grounds that there patients were sequestered who might have infectious diseases, ha ha ha, that’s exactly what a lot of them went on to get, said Rodino, his little mustache bounding about his ruddy skin, his mouth open in a huge smile. He and Eva had got away with it for an incredible four months, in part because they judiciously dispensed favors to this or that itinerant inspector or surgeon general; and in any event, one or two higher-up military people had passed the word discreetly that to permit a little of this kind of thing was really a part of R and R.
    Of course, said Rodino, despite everyone else’s Rest and Recreation, eventually he and Eva were caught, both were sentenced to courts-martial, convicted, and then led off to prison. “But we’re talking March 1945.” Rodino had very simply informed his jailer that twenty thousand marks was his upon Rodino and Eva’s achieving safety. Not only did the jailer agree to help them escape, he escaped along with them, and they all three managed to get to Austria by the time Hitler did his Götterdämmerung. Rodino and Eva were rich!—until the devaluation of the mark by Ludwig Erhard that just plain wiped them out.
    So they were back in the business of making a little money, and this time Eva was coming close to Ulbricht via an old girlfriend, and Blackford could check on every word Rodino had said, but he did need a little sweetener for Eva to work with, feel her way around. In part on impulse, Blackford went to the adjacent room, removed a couple of volumes, and took money from the little wall safe. He gave Rodino instructions, and decided to walk back to his apartment.
    It was past spring, really. Just plain summer. Blackford hadn’t bothered to put on his light green poplin jacket, matching his trousers. He simply slung it over his shoulder, his yellow tie loosened, his thought turning, for the thousandth time, to his failure to grasp exactly what were the crystallizing forces. Exactly what would come next? He was experienced enough to know that the crunch was not far away: this matter of the sharpened instinct. Besides which, on the weekend’s visit with Rufus in London, he had seen his old mentor more put off, by the awful impalpability of the problem, than ever before—all those other crises having involved a deadline in part of their own initiative, or a plan over which they had effective control. This time they had no such control, none. It was terminally discouraging to remind himself that his mission was to find out what Ulbricht intended to do but that in all probability Ulbricht did not know what he intended to do, because Khrushchev had not decided what he would permit him to do. Though Khrushchev’s post-Vienna rhetoric was more strident than ever, and the inside word was that the old pro had taken Kennedy good and proper. Rufus hadn’t wanted to talk about that.
    Rufus did want to know everything Blackford was able to tell him about the Bruderschaft and its operations. Every day it became clearer that if there was going on, in East Germany, something that could be called a resistance movement, Henri Tod had it in hand. Henri Tod. A difficult man to know, about whose capacity for personal warmth Blackford knew only abstractly, not as an intimate.
    There was no doubting that Tod felt deeply. And on one reflective occasion he had, without giving out the story, let alone the details, alluded to “his” nightmare. In fact Blackford knew the story: Rufus had got it from the widow

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