Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/135

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129
THE PERIL OF DELUDING THE PUBLIC

in Norfolk, and would trespass on your time to relate an occurrence which took place about the autumn of 1908, when I was living at Overstrand. I had walked over to Weybourne and was about to return by train when two men, dressed more or less as tramps, entered the station to take their tickets; they were followed by a tall, handsome man, unmistakably a German officer, who spoke to them, looked at their tickets and walked straight up the platform. The men sat down on a bench to wait for the train, and I took a seat near them with a view to overhearing their conversation. It appeared to be in German dialect and little intelligible. The officer, meanwhile, who had reached the end of the platform, turned round and, quickening his steps, came and placed himself directly in front of us: the men at once were silent, and the officer remained where he was, casting many scowls in my direction. On the following day I met him, on this occasion alone, on the pathway leading from the 'Garden of Sleep' to Overstrand. He recognised me at once, scowled once again, and passed on to the Overstrand Hotel. I mentioned the subject to a gentleman resident in Overstrand, who asked me to write an account of the matter to be placed before the War Office, but I believe that my friend forgot to forward the paper. A retired officer in Cromer informed me that the German officer in question was well known as the head of the German spies in the neighbourhood. Some questions happened to be asked in the House of Commons that very week as to the existence of spies in Norfolk. The Home Secretary, the present Lord Gladstone, I think, replied to these in the manner which might be expected of him.

"From the first I recognised the fact that the men were spies. I imagined that they had been surveying, at Weybourne, but in the light of recent events I think a gun emplacement or a petrol store may have been their 'objective.' The two men were rather