The House on Viking Point


PART TWO OF THREEAt this point in my narrative I should explain a few details about my mother. The promontory known as Viking Point stands 500 feet high and is almost sheer cliff amongst rugged and broken coast with a boulder-strewn shore. Our house is built into a large niche in the cliff almost three-quarters of the way up. If you draw a line due east from the house across the North Sea, it touches land on the other side along the Danish-German frontier at Schleswig, and it was from Schleswig that the Danish Vikings came in the 9th century.On my morning walks along the harbour front at the foot of Viking Point, I would sometimes pass a half hour in conversation with Mr Jennings the Harbourmaster, who also prided himself on being the local historian.When I suggested to him one day that our house, had it existed in the 9th century, would have been the obvious spot for a lookout post, he replied that to his knowledge there had been a watchtower in that niche long before the Danes arrived. I pressed him for more information but all he would tell me was that my late father had the true history and kept it in some diaries.In my mid-teens I searched high and low for these diaries until finally my mother relented and recalled some half dozen shabby calf-bound volumes in a box in the store room. “There you are,” she had said, “and if you can find anything of interest in that welter of green peas and early strawberries then good luck to you.”As my mother Muriel observed, the diaries were mostly taken up with garden matters and parish gossip, and notes about the weather, all written in a delicate and painstaking style. Stuffed down the spine of one of them I found two closely-typed folios which provided all there was to know of my predecessors at Viking Point, and intriguingly the narrative also mentioned an underground tunnel which led from the property a vast distance. The entrance to this tunnel had never been found.One evening when I was sitting with the harbourmaster on a rock looking over the mudflats towards Viking Point he threw in a comment about my mother, wondering where she came from. She had arrived suddenly as my father’s bride in 1940, but the harbourmaster, who was well travelled as a mariner, judged from her rather Yakacık escort bayan elaborate English that she might be German or Dutch. Though she was kindly and very good looking, he had always wondered about her whether there might not be some dark secret lurking in her past.The more I thought about this the more inquisitive I became, for although now in 1960 her English was faultless, she had no family and no past that I had been able to determine. When she found herself in dire straits in 1942 upon the death of her husband my father, she had had nobody call round to offer to help financially. The “family who had urged her to marry him for the property” did not exist, and the only official document relating to her presence in England before 1942 was her marriage certificate of 1940.As a result of my puzzlement I made a thorough rummage of the old store room and found a letter, edges yellowing with age, dated 1937 and rubber-stamped with the German eagle and swastika. I had it translated, and that morning after we slept together I showed a facsimile of it to my mother.She merely glanced at it and explained, “Oh yes, the SS came in 1937 and wanted permission to search for the tunnel. They were very keen, but father said no. As you see from the translation, they would have paid him handsomely.”I gave my mother a long stare. “And since when do you read German so well?” She flushed and retorted, “Oh, I just picked up a few words here and there darling.””Where did the SS think the tunnel led, mother?””It was just the archaeological branch, not the really bad ones,” she said, as though in some way that diminished the significance of what I had stumbled upon. “I think they expected it to come out on Walcheren island in the Scheldt. There was a cult of the goddess Freya there and at Viking Point itself in prehistoric times, and the archaeologists thought the cult might have spread to Britain from Holland using the tunnel.””And my father would not let them search.””Well, he must have given in I suppose, because an SS team did come in 1937 and 1938, he told me.”I took my mother by the arm and steered her into the vegetable garden. If there was something awkward to be said, we always went Escort Atalar there. “Now mother, are you telling me that none of these SS archaeologists realized that if this tunnel exists, and they found it, they could send their troops along the tunnel to invade England when the time came?”My mother Muriel knew that there was no answer to this and looked into the distance. “Now let me get this straight. For the first time in your life, tell me your past from your birth to your marriage in 1940.”She heaved a great sigh. “I was born in London in 1924. Our family name is Henker, and we came from Bavaria. My father was an officer of middling importance with the German diplomatic mission, a sort of aide to the military attaché. Germany was not supposed to have military attachés after the Great War so it was all kept very low key. After Hitler came to power we returned to Germany in 1936. At age thirteen I went into the Hitler-Mädchen organisation and was picked out for overseas work with the Abwehr – the military intelligence organisation – because I was fluent in English.””And my father?””Your father was a member of the British Union of Fascists. He knew my father at the embassy, and no doubt collaborated with him over Viking Point and volunteered to help the SS search for the tunnel. Your father arranged our marriage, and he got me a false identity papers, the works. We used to laugh at how the British took every document and statement at face value. Compared to the way identity papers in Germany are managed it was childishly simple.” “How did you come to England? By U-boat or did they perhaps parachute you in?”My mother grinned at this. “No, it was by motor torpedo boat actually. ‘E-boats’ the English called them. I came ashore on the other side of the headland during a minelaying operation.””You were a German spy or was it just for the tunnel?””Oh, I had no orders to transmit or flash messages out to sea or anything like that. If the SS archaeologists came I was to put them up at Viking Point, nothing else. And in the end they never came.” “So why did you have me, mother?””War or no war, life goes on. Nobody ever suspected. I received news that my family had been killed in an air raid and Kadıköy escort so I thought I might even settle here after the war ended.””Well, lucky for you there’s an amnesty for Nazi spies nowadays, mother. You know they’d have hanged you if you’d been caught, don’t you? Well, I have to hand it to you, you’re a brave bastard, and nobody ever knew how brave you were.” She dropped her gaze and stared at her feet, her hands deep in her mackintosh pockets, her shoulders hunched against the cold. “How kind of you to say so,” she said icily. The phone rang. It was the harbourmaster, Mr Jennings.”Thought you might like to know, there’s a German trawler coming in, the Götz von Berlichingen. They’ve got a bloody cheek. Can’t be too many trawlers with a name like that. If memory serves me right, that’s the same bloody boat that came in 1937 and 1938. If they ask for you shall I send them up?”I told him to be sure to, and I let my mother know. She was as surprised as I was. “Are they coming to this house?” I asked her. She said she had no idea, honestly. I said Hmmm. After lunch Muriel and I walked down to the harbour. The sun was out for a change and the old brick of the cottages glowed rosily. Smoke curled up lazily from some of the chimneys. We sat on a bench near where the Götz von Berlichingen had just moored. A customs launch was alongside her. Half an hour later the harbourmaster came with a list of names. He had marked the two passengers with an asterisk. “Don’t know either of them,” my mother remarked laconically.”What do you think these people are after?” I asked.”I suspect that after twenty years they’ve suddenly rediscovered me and want to know if I’ve found that bloody tunnel entrance yet.””Why are they sure there is one?””In 1936 the SS had an expedition to Iceland. There they learnt a lot of information about tunnels built thousands of years ago and supposed to lead into the Underworld. Most of them are in South America, but they know of several in Europe too. They think that long before the Christian era a tunnel connected Viking Point with Walcheren in Holland. All they know for certain is that the entrance is at a place called Blackfriars Steps, but nobody has a clue where that is. Before the war the SS came here and took up the flooring of the whole house and the outhouses too but went away very glum. In the end they didn’t really believe in the tunnel. I think the Führer was very upset.”I laughed. “He should have asked me, mother. I know where Blackfriars Steps is!”Suddenly she sat bolt upright beside me.

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