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[Frontispiece: "I used the pike with its ironshod end without scruple
or mercy." (Chapter IX.)

_The Man Without a Memory_] [_Frontispiece_]




THE MAN WITHOUT

A MEMORY


By

ARTHUR W. MARCHMONT


Author of "When I was Czar," "The Heir to the Throne," etc., etc.




WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED

LONDON, MELBOURNE AND TORONTO

1919




POPULAR NOVELS
BY
ARTHUR W. MARCHMONT

_Published by_
WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED,

_In various editions._

BY SNARE OF LOVE.
BY WIT OF WOMAN.
A COURIER OF FORTUNE.
THE HEIR TO THE THRONE.
AN IMPERIAL MARRIAGE.
IN THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM.
IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE.
THE LITTLE ANARCHIST.
THE QUEEN'S ADVOCATE.
UNDER THE BLACK EAGLE.
WHEN I WAS CZAR.




CONTENTS

CHAP.

I How I Lost My Memory
II The First Crisis
III Rosa
IV Nessa
V About Spies
VI Rosa is Told
VII Baron von Gratzen
VIII Von Erstein
IX A Bread Riot
X Complications
XI The Problem of von Gratzen
XII "Like Old Times"
XIII In the Thiergarten
XIV Anna Hilden
XV A Night Attack
XVI A Poison Charge
XVII Anna Hilden Again
XVIII A Sinister Development
XIX Murder
XX Von Gratzen's Wiliness
XXI Off!
XXII Checkmate
XXIII Within a Hairsbreadth
XXIV Nessa's Downfall
XXV A Friend in Need
XXVI The Hue and Cry!
XXVII Farmer Glocken Again
XXVIII Recognized
XXIX Lieutenant Vibach
XXX The End




THE MAN WITHOUT A MEMORY




CHAPTER I

HOW I LOST MY MEMORY


It was a glorious scrap, and Dick Gunter and I had the best of it right
up to the last moment.

We were about 6,000 feet up and a mile or so inside the German lines
when their two machines came out to drive us away.

"We'll take 'em on, Jack," shouted Dick, chortling like the rare old
sport he was, and we began our usual manoeuvre for position. Our
dodge was to let them believe we were novices at the game, and I messed
about with the old bus as if we were undecided and in a deuce of a funk.

They fell in, all right, and at the proper moment I swung round and
gave Dick a chance which he promptly took, pouring in a broadside which
sent one of the machines hurtling nose first to earth. This put the
fear of God into the others, who tried to bolt; but we were too fast
for them and, after a short running fight, Dick got them. The pilot
crumpled up and down went the machine like a stone to prevent the other
from feeling lonely.

We were jubilating righteously over this, when the luck turned. A third
machine, which, in the excitement of the scrap, we hadn't seen, swooped
out of the clouds and gave us a broadside at close range, which messed
us up pretty badly. We were both hit, the petrol poured out of the
riddled tank, the engine stopped, and I realized that we could put up
the shutters, as we were absolutely at the beggar's mercy.

I was wrong, however. Dick had managed to let the other chap have a
dose of lead, and either because we had had enough of it or his bus was
damaged, he didn't stop to finish us off but scuttled off home to
mother.

I was hit somewhere in the shoulder, but it wasn't bad enough to
prevent my working the controls, and I pointed for home on a long
glissade. There was a "certain liveliness," as the communiqués say,
during that joy ride. The Archies barked continuously as we crossed the
lines, the shrapnel was all over us, Dick was hit again, and the poor
old bus fairly riddled; but we got through it somehow, although my pal
was nearly done in by the time we reached the ground.

Some pretty things were said about it and we each got the M.C. I was
very little hurt, and came out of the base hospital a week or two later
feeling as fit as a fiddle again, but as the chief decided I had earned
a good spell of leave, I went off to old Blighty to convalesce.

Then it was that for the first time I heard of the trouble about Nessa
Caldicott. Both my parents had died when I was a kid, and Mrs.
Caldicott, the dearest and sweetest woman in the world, had been like a
mother to me, had taken me into her home, and thus I had grown up with
Nessa and her sister. Nessa and I had been to school in Germany; had
travelled out and home together; I had spent my holidays in their home;
and I can't remember the time when I wasn't in love with her.

Mrs. Caldicott was keen that we should marry, and a year or two after I
came back to England for good from Göttingen University we had been
engaged. But there was a "nigger in the fence." I had plenty of money
and preferred being a sort of "nut" to working; and Nessa didn't like
it. She urged me to "do something and make a career for myself"; but I
was a swollen-headed young ass, and shied at it; so at last the
engagement was broken off until, as she put it, I "had given up the
idea of lounging and loafing through life."

She was right, of course; but like a fool I wouldn't see it; so we
quarrelled, and she went off to Germany to stay with an old school
friend. She was still there when the war broke out, and thus did not
know that I had found my chance and had joined up. There was nothing
"nutty" about the army training and work, and when I went home, of
course, my first thoughts were of her and what she would say when she
knew I had taken her advice.

But I found poor Mrs. Caldicott in the very depth of anxiety and
despair. Nessa had never returned from Germany, and there was nothing
but the most disconcerting and perplexing news of her. During the first
few months she had been able to write home that all was well with her,
although she could not get out of the country.

Then came a gap in the correspondence, followed by a short letter that
her school friend was dead, and that she feared she would not be
allowed to remain in the house. A month or so later another letter
came, saying she had left Hanover to go to another friend in Berlin,
and that her mother was not to worry, as she expected soon to be home.

"And that's the last letter I've had from her, Jack, and that's three
months ago," said Mrs. Caldicott, the tears streaming down her cheeks.
"The only news I've had is these two odd communications."

They were odd, in all truth. The first was a sentence which had
evidently been cut out of a longer letter in Nessa's handwriting and
pasted on a sheet of paper. "I am quite well, but cannot get away yet."
That was all, and a very ugly-looking all too. The second was a
postcard in a strange handwriting, like a man's fist. "Your daughter is
well and is going to be married. She will communicate with you after
the war."

I did not let the dear old lady see what I thought of the matter, nor
did I tell her how my months at the front and what I had seen there led
me to put the most sinister interpretation on the affair.

"I've tried every means in my power, Jack, to find Nessa," she
declared; "but with no result at all; and it's killing me."

I did what I could to reassure her, and then a somewhat harum-scarum
idea occurred to me - that I should use my leave to go to Berlin and
make inquiries. She wouldn't hear of it at first, because of the danger
to me; but I showed her that there would really be very little risk, as
I had often passed for a German, and that the only real difficulty was
getting permission from the authorities.

I set about that at once and succeeded - the result of having a friend
at court in the War Office; but before that was settled Nessa's
brother-in-law, Jimmy Lamb, an American manufacturer, came over on
munitions business and wouldn't hear of my going.

"See here, Jack, this is my show, not yours. For one thing I can do it
better than you, as I'm a bit of a hustler and have a good friend, Greg
Watson, in our Berlin Embassy. More than that, I can go safely, while
if you were found out, you'd be shot as a spy;" and he wouldn't listen
to my protests.

But the scheme fell through at the last moment. On the very day he was
to have started, he had a cable that his father was dying; and he had
to catch the first boat home.

"I'm real sick about it, Jack, but there's nothing else for it. I've
booked a berth in the _Slavonic_ to-day."

"Then I shall go, Jimmy. I can't bear the thought of Nessa being in
those beggars' hands. I'm certain there's some devilment at the bottom
of it;" and I told him a few of the items I had seen with my own eyes.

"Well, what price your going in my name? Much better than the German
stunt; and you can actually see about the business that I meant to do.
Here are all the papers needed, my passport and ticket, a bunch of
German notes I've picked up at a good discount, and you can see Greg
Watson - I'll give you a letter to him - and you'll find him a white man
right through, ready to do his durndest to help you."

A few minutes clinched the job; an hour or two sufficed for all the
preparations I needed to make for the trip; and that night I left
Harwich for Rotterdam in a little steamer called the _Burgen_, as
Jas. R. Lamb, an American merchant, equipped with all the credentials
necessary to keep up my end.

It was all plain sailing enough, but it didn't turn out so simple as it
looked. There was another American on board and I kept out of his way
at first, but when he had heard me talking to a waiter in German, he
came sidling up and scraped acquaintance. He soon let out that he was
as genuine an American as I was, and the best of it was that he took me
for what he was in reality - a German.

"You speak German well for - an American," he said suggestively. "You
know Germany, perhaps?"

"I was at school there and afterwards at Göttingen."

He was cautious enough to test this, and I let him have some choice
specimens of student slang which strengthened his opinion.

"I was also at Göttingen. Need we pretend any longer?" and he held out
his hand. He was very much my own build and colouring, but I hoped the
resemblance stopped short there, for I didn't like his looks a bit.

"Pretend what?" I asked as if on my guard.

"That we are Americans."

"You needn't, but I didn't say I wasn't one."

He made a peculiar flourish with his left hand which was one of the
membership signs of a secret society among the students, and I answered
it. It was enough, and he let himself go then. He was a good swaggerer;
told me that he had come from America to England, where he had been
ferretting out every possible scrap of information, having represented
himself as the agent of an American firm of munition makers; that he
had sent his report to Berlin and had been summoned to go there at once
on the strength of it; and that he was to join the Secret Service.

He was so full of his self-importance and seemingly so glad to have
some one to listen to him, that, with a very little prompting, he told
me a whole lot about himself, and the great things he had done. He only
stopped when he got sea-sick, and before he went below he told me his
real name was Johann Lassen, and scribbled his address in Berlin on his
card, so that we might meet again there.

I was a little worried by the business. It might be awkward if we did
run against one another in Berlin; but there was no need to look for
trouble before it arrived, so I dismissed the thing and went on
thinking out my own plan of campaign. But the affair had very
unexpected results.

We were nearing the Dutch coast and I was considering how to avoid
Lassen on landing, when there was the very dickens of an explosion. As
if the lid of hell itself had lifted!

What happened I only learnt afterwards, for the next thing I knew was
that I was lying in bed somewhere, with a grave-eyed nurse bending over
me.

"Herr Lassen!" Just a whisper. After a pause the name was repeated with
slightly more solicitous emphasis.

I was too weak and exhausted to reply or feel either surprise or
curiosity at the mistake about my name; and with a sigh of utter
weariness I closed my eyes and fell asleep. When I woke it was in the
dead stillness of the night.

I was far less exhausted and my mind was beginning to work again. I was
lying alone in a small bare-walled room, lighted by one carefully
shaded electric light. There were two other beds in the room, both
unoccupied; and I was not too dazed to understand that it was a
hospital ward. Then I remembered the nurse had addressed me as "Herr
Lassen"; and was puzzling over the mistake when the remembrance of
Nessa and her peril flashed across my mind and stirred a confused
jangle of disturbing thoughts.

I was still too weak to clear the tangle then, however, and fell asleep
again, and did not wake until the morning.

I was much better and the nurse was very pleased at my improvement.
"You will soon be yourself again," she said, speaking German with a
quaint accent. "You were so exhausted that at one time we feared you
would not recover from the shock."

"You are very good," I murmured, with a feeble smile.

"Do you think you could eat some solid food? The doctor said you could
have some when you recovered consciousness."

"Where am I?" I asked after thanking her.

"This is the Nazareth Hospital in Rotterdam. You were brought in by the
fishermen who found you in the sea when the _Burgen_ went down."

I did not ask any more questions then, as I wanted to think matters
over; and during the day I succeeded in getting it all clear. The only
point that bothered me was why I should be mistaken for Lassen; but I
got that at last. I remembered the card he had given me and how I had
shoved it in my pocket.

But why hadn't my pocket-book with my passport and papers and all the
rest of it been found? It had been in my jacket pocket. It looked as if
it must have been lost. That set me thinking and no mistake. How was I
to get on to Berlin without the passport? It looked as if I must either
give up the search for Nessa, when every minute might be invaluable, or
go back to England for fresh papers. That wouldn't do, as too much of
my leave would be used up.

It was the dickens of a mess, and then an idea occurred to me. Lassen
must have gone down with the steamer, for they wouldn't take me for him
if he had been saved. And then I soon had a plan - to drop the Jimmy
Lamb character and continue to be Lassen as long as necessary. I might
get across the frontier in that way, and must trust to my wits for the
rest. There might be a bit of risk in it, but that needn't stop me; and
then a very pretty little development suggested itself which offered a
promise of safety even if I was found out.

Why shouldn't the "shock" of which the nurse had spoken have destroyed
my memory? The more I considered it the more promising it looked. It
was the easiest of parts to play; I had done a lot of amateur
theatricals; and any one could look a fool and act one.

I had a first rehearsal of this stunt - as Jimmy would have called
it - with the nurse; and the result quite came up to expectations. I
reckoned that she would tell the doctor, and it was clear she had done
so when he came to me next morning.

He was tremendously interested in the case now, and, after telling me
how much better I was, began to question me about the loss of the
_Burgen_.

I looked as vacant and worried as I thought necessary.

"You remember being on her, don't you?"

"The nurse told me so. Was I?"

"Yes, of course. She struck a mine; you remember that?"

I affected to try to remember, stared round the room, and then
helplessly at him and gestured feebly.

"You were picked up at sea. Does that help you?"

It wasn't likely to, and I shook my head.

"She came from Harwich - England, you know, and was blown up."

"Harwich, England," I murmured, as if the words had no meaning for me.

He muttered something in Dutch under his breath. "Does your head
trouble you much?" and he smoothed my hair, feeling my head all over
carefully.

I looked as stupid as a sheep. "It - it - - " and I frowned and gestured
to suggest what I could not express.

He looked rather grave for a second or two and then smiled
reassuringly. "It will be all right in time, quite right. You are
suffering from shock; but you needn't worry. No worry. That's the great
thing. A day or so will put you all right, Herr - let's see, what's your
name?"

But I didn't bite. "Is it Lassen? The nurse said so."

"Don't you know it yourself?" he asked very kindly.

"No." That was true at any rate. "How did you find it out?"

"From the card in your trousers' pocket. You are the only survivor from
the _Burgen_ and had a very narrow escape. Even most of your
clothes were blown off you. Doesn't anything I say suggest anything to
you?"

I lay as if pondering this solemnly. "It's all so - so strange," I
muttered, putting my hand to my head. "So - so - - " and I left it at
that; and he went away, after giving me one more item of valuable
information - that my belt which contained my money had also been saved.

I played that lost memory for all it was worth and with gorgeous
success. I became a "case" for the doctors who trotted along to
interview me as a sort of interesting freak and held learned
discussions over me. All this gave me such ample practice that I became
perfect in the part.

But there was a fly in the amber. As the only survivor from the
_Burgen_ the Dutch authorities regarded me as a person of quite
considerable importance. Officials came to visit me, pouring in regular
broadsides of questions; and as they got no satisfaction, and the
doctors differed about my recovering my memory, the official verdict
was that I should remain in Rotterdam until I did recover it.

This threatened complications; but I had no intention to remain, so I
prepared to get away, sent out for a ready-made suit of clothes - ye
gods, what a beautiful misfit! - and was going to leave the hospital to
see what I could do at the German Embassy about a passport, when my
luck propeller snapped and I saw myself nose-diving to the ground.

A nurse brought me a card and said some one was waiting to see me in
the doctor's room. The card told me it was a certain Herr Heinrich
Hoffnung, 480b, Ugenplatz, Berlin!

It was just rotten luck, for it meant the collapse of the Lassen show.
The instant he clapped eyes on me he'd know I wasn't the real Simon
Pure; and it might be the dickens of a job to get across the frontier.

As I thought of Nessa and what the delay might mean to her, I was mad.
But I couldn't shirk the meeting; so after giving him time to learn all
about my "case" from the doctor, I went down, wondering what ill wind
had blown the fellow to Rotterdam at such a moment, and what the
dickens would happen when I was no longer Lassen.




CHAPTER II

THE FIRST CRISIS


As I opened the door the doctor jumped up to help me to a chair, and
the man from Berlin gave a start of surprise and then stared at me
keenly; but whether he recognized me or not, I couldn't decide.

"You've picked up wonderfully, Herr Lassen, wonderfully!" said the
doctor. "I declare no one would guess from your appearance what you
have been through."

"And I feel as well as I look, doctor, thanks to you and the nurses," I
replied. "I owe my life to the doctor here," I added, turning to the
stranger.

"You are Johann Lassen?" he asked.

I shrugged my shoulders. "That's what they tell me."

"I told you how we know," put in the doctor, adding to me: "I have
explained the nature of your case to Herr Hoffnung. He has come to take
you to Berlin."

It was clearly time to bring matters to a head, so I turned to the man.
"Have I ever had the pleasure of seeing you before?" I asked, with a
perplexed and rather bewildered look.

He shook his head. "No, we have never met, but - - " He paused and then
added: "But of course it must be right."

I could have shouted for joy, but I put my hand before my eyes that he
should not see the delight in them.

"You will wish to see Herr Lassen alone, of course," said the doctor.
"You will bear in mind all that I have told you, I trust."

Hoffnung crossed to the door with him and the two stood speaking
together in low tones for a minute, giving me an opportunity to observe
my visitor. He was rather a good-looking man of about thirty,
well-dressed and smart, and I placed him as somebody's secretary.
Certainly a decent sort and not too quick-witted.

"First let me congratulate you on your marvellous escape, Herr Lassen,"
he said when the doctor had gone.

"It seems to have been touch and go; but - - " and I gestured to suggest
that I knew nothing about it.

"The doctor tells me he quite despaired at one time of saving your
life. But he says you are quite fit to travel. Do you agree with that?"

"It's all the same to me. I feel all right."

"It is rather urgent that I should return to Berlin as soon as
possible. Do you think you could manage the journey to-day?"

"I don't see why not. But - er - it's a bit awkward, you know. Are you
sure I'm your man?"

He glanced at his watch and started. "It's just possible that we could
catch the express, and we can talk in the train; that is, if you
haven't many preparations to make."

"I haven't any. I've nothing but what I stand up in, and one place is
as good as another to me unti - - " and I sighed and gestured hopelessly.

"Then I should like to go."

"Can I go without any papers or anything?"

"With me, certainly. I have everything necessary, and will explain on
the journey."

And go we did to my infinite satisfaction.

In the cab to the station he was silent and thoughtful, and as my one
consuming desire was to get across the frontier before anything could
happen, I didn't worry him with any questions. It was all clear sailing
at the station. Whoever Hoffnung might be, there was no doubt about his
having authority. He secured a special compartment, although the train
was crowded, and did all possible for my comfort.

"That's the best of travelling officially," he said pleasantly as he
settled himself in the seat opposite me, while the train ran out of the
station. "Now, you asked me a question at the hospital which I did not
answer - whether I'm sure you're Lassen. Frankly, I'm not; and the more
I look at you the more I'm puzzled."

"It's a bit awkward. I don't wish to be somebody else."

"Do you feel fit to talk? The doctor warned me against worrying you;
but there are things I should enormously like to know."

"You're not half so keen as I am," I told him truthfully. "If I am
Lassen, what am I; where do I live; have I any friends anywhere; isn't
there any one who knows me anywhere? It's such a devil of a mess."

"There's one thing certain, my friend, you're a German; and as for the
rest you'll find plenty of people in Berlin who'll know you. The von
Reblings, for instance. Which reminds me I have the Countess's letter;"
he opened his despatch case and handed me a sealed envelope.

But I had already told the doctors that I could not write and could not
read handwriting, although I had fumbled out some large print. That had
been one of the specialities of my peculiar aphasia. So I just smiled
vacantly and shook my head. "Will you read it to me?" I asked.

He agreed after some little demur, and a very charming letter it was.
The Countess addressed me as "My dear Johann," wrote in the familiar
thee and thou, said how anxious she and Rosa - especially Rosa, it
seemed - had been about me; urged me to hurry to Berlin as soon as
possible, where, of course, I should be the most welcome guest in the
world, and signed herself "Your affectionate aunt, Olga von Rebling."

"Doesn't that remind you of anything?" asked Hoffnung.

"Not in the faintest. Who is Rosa?"

Instead of telling me, he smiled suggestively and I smiled back. "Did
the Countess send you to fetch me?"

"Oh, no. I came officially. I'll tell you about that directly; but it
is because of what she told us about you that I was sent. She received
a letter from you from England saying that you were crossing in the
_Burgen_, and when the newspapers reported the loss of the steamer
and that you were the only survivor, she told me about it. I reported
it at Headquarters, and - well, here I am in consequence."

"And you've never seen me, or Lassen, or whoever I am, before?"

"Never. I have seen a photograph of you, but it was taken some long
time ago; and while you answer to the likeness in some respects, you
certainly do not in others, although I can see that you may be Lassen,
allowing for the difference of time."

"Well, anyway, these von Reblings will know, thank Heaven."


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