The year is 1915 and the gruesome murder of James Redcliff's wife and son takes place in the upper-class Back Bay area of Boston. James Redcliff himself is found dead as he returns home from Albany. With little to go on, the Boston Police are at a loss on what or who is behind the family's murder. But a letter, which James sent before leaving New York, will shed light on the case. The letter alludes to a conspiracy by Franz von Papen and German agents to bring the United States into the war in Europe. A German U-Boat sails to fulfill Papen's agenda, where hundreds, maybe thousands will die.
Joined by the beautiful niece of Redcliff and a private detective, Royden Cheney receives the letter and the three find themselves racing from the streets of Boston to Northern Vermont. They become entangled in a conspiracy by a secret council that threatens the security of the United States as they seek to solve the murders before it is too late.
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THE WILLOUGHBY AFFAIR
By CRISTOPHER TAYLOR
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Cristopher Taylor
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBoston: Friday, March 24, 1915
It was March. The year was 1915. The streets of Boston were covered in snow. Outside the window of a small apartment near the Public Gardens the temperature had fallen into the teens. Inside, flames consumed wooden logs behind a metal screen that was perched on a hearth in front of an open fireplace. A large coal furnace below the apartment drove warm air up through vents in the floor and a kettle of hot water sat on the stove in the kitchen just a few steps away.
Off the main parlor, two pocket doors were recessed in the wall. Beyond them a round table sat in the middle of a room surrounded by eight high-back leather chairs. Each chair supported a man and each was pulled up to the table. On the table a solitary playing card was turned over in front of each. The only other things on the table were ashtrays and china cups partially filled with tea. Two smoked pipes, three cigars, two cigarettes, and one didn't smoke at all.
One by one each man turned his card over. James Watson Gerard turned over the Emperor. He would have been fine with anything but the Emperor, except Death that is. The other men looked at him and waited for an answer. Any of the major Arcana cards could represent people, but the Emperor was the kind of energy that manifested in the form of a leader. Obviously all kinds of leaders and fathers harbored some of his influence, but he could also show someone who acted like a father by setting tone and imposing structure. The Emperor was a regulating force and thus associated with the government, bureaucracy and the legal system; his appearance often indicated an encounter with one or more of these systems. The Emperor personified power and control. Gerard was the United States Ambassador to Germany and now assumed the leadership role for the council's upcoming task.
"I accept this card." He said.
James Redcliff took the Eight of Swords. On the face of the card was a tied and blindfolded woman surrounded by swords. Everyone knew the blindfold was an important symbol in American justice. Now the scales of justice had tipped to one side. They had gone too far to the side of neutrality. There were those who refused to see, refused to act, unwilling to face the truth. The ropes that tied the woman prohibited action. The question that was asked from the beginning was, why? Why did some refuse to see, refuse to act? Redcliff knew the swords must cut through this injustice. Release from the bindings meant release from one way of thinking to a new way of thinking, from inaction to action.
Foreign shipments at Redcliff's company were doing poorly. Shipments to the British Isles, France, and Mediterranean countries were down more than forty percent since the beginning of the war in Europe. Shipments to Germany had ceased altogether. Foreign markets accounted for more than two-thirds of his business. Over the past two years stores of sugar and some related products had filled the warehouses in Cuba and Boston. Inventory was too high and sales were too low. Sugar prices in Europe continued to rise, but he couldn't get it there. Redcliff's company had not suffered attacks from German U-Boats - at least not yet, but transport ships were difficult to secure and crews were even scarcer. Cane was lying in the field and workers were laid off.
"I accept this card." Redcliff said.
Louis Weinstein accepted his card next.
Franz von Papen sat along the far wall. He was not an Allerton descendent and did not take a card. He was brought in to assist the council by Louis Weinstein. It was rare to use an outsider, but not unprecedented. It had been done before. Franz von Papen had German contacts. He was personal friends with Commander Herman Bauer of the German submarine flotilla, and Bauer's cooperation would be needed.
One by one, each man accepted a card: The Star, the Eight of Pentacles, the World, the Eight of Cups, and the Magician. An eight-card spread had served them well for years. It had served generations of men like them back to the infancy of colonial America. Each man knew there was no turning back. Each knew his face would never be recognized, his deeds would never be written about in the pages of history books, but history would be changed. The game was in play. These men would climb across a moment in history.
Cuba, Monday, April 13, 1915
It was ninety degrees and crazy humid. The Insular electric trolley ran through Havana to Marianao. Franz von Papen looked out through the open trolley car as it rumbled over the Calle San Pedro. He left the docks below and was heading to Vedado. At the docks stores of munitions and black powder were ready for transport to Germany.
America's policy was 'hands-off' and had been since the termination of The Spanish-American War. Cuba did not want U.S. involvement. Cuba was in a state of unrest, near the brink of revolution. The American President couldn't get involved in a tiny country ninety miles from Florida when he refused to get involved in a world war, where important allies like England had literally begged for involvement, raging across the Atlantic. Therefore, Cuba provided a perfect origin for shipment of arms and war goods by the German underground from Western factories, whereas it was impossible to ship out of U.S. ports.
Franz von Papen played two roles in his life. Officially he was military attaché to the United States and secretly doubled as an agent of Germany. His objectives, unknown to the Americans included sabotaging U.S. interests and prolonging the war in Europe. For the next few weeks he played the council's confidant assisting to bring a quick conclusion to Europe's troubles. Papen served only one master though - Deutschland and he planned to use the council's plan to do just that.
Franz von Papen had an appointment to meet with Karl Boy-Ed at Vedado. Boy-Ed had been dispatched to the United States in 1911 as Germany's Naval Attaché. Boy-Ed worked for von Papen. Boy-Ed and von Papen convinced a Jewish man named Louis Weinstein, who had a contact named Bailey at the New York harbor to help them with an upcoming itinerary. The two believed their concealed plan would serve Germany's interests. They planned on secretly smuggling explosives into New York Harbor. Papen walked off the trolley in Vedado and into a cantina where Boy-Ed sat waiting. The two ordered tequila.
"Tell me you had success." Von Papen said
"My man has agreed to produce two manifests. One will be presented upon sailing and the second will be substituted later."
"And the cargo?"
"There is a shipment of furs traveling on the Pennsylvania Railroad even as we speak. The powder is hidden in the crates. It moves from DuPont de Nemours in Hopewell, Virginia. They will not be listed on the initial manifest. We expect no inspection of the crates in New York. When they are discovered at sea our friends in America will be forced to explain."
"Kapitänleutnant Schwieger?" von Papen asked.
"He is sailing U-20. The boat refuels then leaves for Ireland in two weeks. He is to sit and wait in the Bristol Channel off of Ireland. He has authorization to attack other vessels, but must hold two torpedoes back. I will continue to be in radio contact with him."
"Commander Herman Bauer has approved our plan. It is he who will order 'Goldfish'." Papen assured him.
"This is good Franz. Did your council vote to embark on their mission?"
"Yes. I came from Boston three weeks ago. It is all set."
"The cards have been dealt. The council feels their plan will promote their objectives."
"And our plan will promote ours as well."
"Yes Karl, ours as well."
Chapter TwoMonday, April 20, 1915
Amy Redcliff Hutchison, age twenty eight, was the daughter of Winfield Hutchison and the niece of James and Adeline Redcliff. She lived with the Redcliffs on Newbury Street in the Back Bay District of Boston during the school year from September to the end of May. Her father commissioned vessels and managed shipping interests on the Great Lakes and sometimes the Atlantic. He made his business in Erie, Pennsylvania. Transport of sugar, grains, and related goods proved efficient by means of the New York and Erie Canals from Albany to Erie and the New York Central railroad to points on the Great Lakes from Rochester to Chicago.
Monday morning Amy told Maggie, one of the Redcliff's house servants that they would sneak out together under pretense of grocery shopping.
"What say you my confidant?" Amy directed her attention to Maggie. It made Maggie feel special when Amy talked to her that way.
"We really must fill that grocery list, or heaven knows we shall all starve." Amy spoke loud enough so her Aunt Adeline could hear her, and Adeline did.
"Amy child, there is no need for you to be attending the market, we have employees for that!"
Amy laughed out loud, but quietly put her index finger to her lips as she looked Maggie's way.
"But Aunt Adeline, I feel like taking in a view of the dresses at C. Hollidge. You wouldn't deny my dreams, would you?"
"I would indeed, my young rebel." Of course Adeline knew she wouldn't win the argument.
Amy's disposition was strong and independent though and at first this caused much consternation for her father. He encouraged her to read and write and as she grew he noticed strength in her similar to a man's will. She loved languages and was self-taught in classical Latin. To her father's credit, he promoted these behaviors with her. Yet, she also loved to dress the latest style when attending social functions or church services. It pleased her to obey her father's wishes which in some regards she was prone to misinterpret at times. When she grew to a young woman of twenty she displayed a feminine beauty that rivaled anyone and had offers from older gentlemen, usually of substantial means in the Erie business community. When she featured her intellect and drive most men were put off, fearful they might not measure up to her abilities.
"Ma'am, are you sure you want to go with me?" speaking to Amy, Maggie continued "I will just hold you up picking tomatoes and such."
Amy gave Maggie a secret wink and then turned her head to the air.
"I really must, and furthermore, you must follow my instructions young lady. I have every intention of coming with you. Someone must keep an eye on the family budget." After this, Maggie bowed her head as if admonished, but she quickly looked up, turned to and fro to make sure nobody saw her, and gave Amy a returning wink!
Amy Hutchison stood at a crossroads in her life that mirrored the crossroads of America at the time. She studied the shipping business under her father's rule while attending a teaching college near Erie. When she reached twenty-four years of age her academic achievements were duly reflected by an invitation to attend Tufts University. Tufts opened its doors to women in 1909 with the establishment of The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences on Walnut Hill five miles north of Boston City. Having family in Boston, Winfield reluctantly permitted this venture. Seen by Winfield as an opportunity to bring modern thinking to his company, he asked Adeline and James Redcliff to provide for his only child as she completed her education. The Redcliff's accommodated his wish.
After a rather well acted display, put on for the sole purpose of impressing her aunt, Amy accompanied Maggie, a household staff member to the Fens for groceries. The Fens was an area of Boston filled with markets and mercantile establishments.
"Hurry Maggie" Amy called as they prepared to leave early that morning. Amy was fond of Maggie, a young maid nineteen years of age. Before leaving Amy commented to Adeline, "Isn't it wonderful a girl can go shopping with such a fine friend?" Mildly horrified, Adeline replied,
"What is this world coming to?"
How time passes rapidly, Adeline thought. The waters that filled her life hardly gathered under the feet of Amy. Her pleasures of home and obedience to James proved dull to Amy. Time rushed by too quickly, its lights vanished and a minute later there was no sign of it as if everything conspired to end as quickly as it began.
Amy loved to shop and outfitted herself in the more modern garments, not always meeting Adeline's style. The outing gave her an excuse to leave the house under pretense of assisting Maggie. One of these days, she told herself, she would get her aunt out and the two of them would let loose on the shops of Boston.
She left Maggie at the Fens to purchase the grocery needs for the family and spent an hour or so at C. Hollidge Department Store. She then secretly treated Maggie to lunch at Clark's on Beacon Hill.
"Maggie, I insist you order an ice cream for desert." she said. Accustomed to such frivolous behavior when Amy was with her Maggie told the clerk,
"I'll have two scoops." and Amy said
"And make it chocolate, for both of us!" Adeline would not have approved, but she didn't need to know. They spent the better part of the day together. At the close of the day Maggie took the groceries back to the mansion on Newbury Street and Amy took the trolley to Walnut Hill in Medford.
"Tell Aunt Adeline I am going to stay at the University for the night. I promise to return first thing in the morning." Amy kissed Maggie on the cheek and ran down the road to catch the trolley.
To say Amy's Uncle James Jeremiah Redcliff was a man of means would be understating the fact. He was a Calvinist, which meant he was destined to be all that he was. He stood six feet and three inches high in bare feet, and although sixty-two years old felt proud that he could stand up to any man his height, even though most were less. He came to America from London where he married Adeline May Campbell thirty-eight years ago. He called her 'Adi' and he was the only one permitted to do so. When they came to Boston he had eighteen dollars in his pocket. Adeline and James both attended lectures at The University of London Kings College, Adi by means of scholarship and James by means of hard work and some deception.
Monday evening James Redcliff retired to his room in Albany after an arduous weekend of meetings at his district office. Redcliff's' room at Albany's Wellington Hotel was well appointed. Situated on State Street, it was a short walk to the capital and fairly close to his company office. He usually stayed at the Wellington when in Albany and taxied to the company's export office on Central Avenue.
James never finished his elementary education. As an adolescent of twelve he saw no purpose to learning Shakespeare or Keats. His father, a merchant marine, was gone most of the time and his mother clerked at a clothier during the day and drank wine at night to chase the loneliness. He ran away from home, it would be one less mouth for her to feed.
Hired on as a laborer in a printing shop, he took a flat with five others his age. He slept on the floor and saved what money he could. He moved up in the same shop to foreman at the age of twenty-one. Pretending to be a student, he frequented social gatherings and lectures, standing in the back corner of the hall at Kings College. It was there that his eyes set on Adi. He forged his diploma and transcript at the print shop. It credited him with an education from The Normal School in Liverpool and he was admitted to Kings College. It was there that he courted and won Adeline.
Theirs was a relationship of true love. Their crossing to America rested on the promise James gave her of success, wealth, and enduring affection for the rest of her life. He kept his promise. James grew an empire based on the trade of sugar and had an export warehouse in Boston, an office in Albany, and a refining plant in Cuba. He finished his degree at Harvard in 1881 attending part-time and he worked endless hours in the warehouse. He eventually bought the company. He stated more than once that he only required four hours sleep each night. Adi observed that he often slept longer during the night and on several occasions stole afternoon naps. She knew better than to confront him with her knowledge of this.
Redcliff sat at a small Queen Ann's desk in his hotel room with pen in hand. He had just completed correspondence to Major William Heimke, whom he knew well from his business in Cuba. Heimke was an invaluable associate over the years. They were both graduates of Harvard, where they first met through the Allerton Society. They shared allegiances with some other Allerton members who advocated free trade, lower tariffs, and a quick end to the hostilities abroad.
Excerpted from THE WILLOUGHBY AFFAIR by CRISTOPHER TAYLOR Copyright © 2010 by Cristopher Taylor. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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