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An "unknown" story by Quentin Reynolds, one of the best known and best-loved writers of our time... Mr. Reynolds — reporter, sports writer in the great tradition, foreign correspondent, editor, roving investigator, lecturer, radio and television commentator, novelist, movie scenarist, and recently a biographer — Quentin Reynolds, man of good will, faces the problems of our confused era and keeps growing; and although the demands on his talent and interests increase, he still manages to find time every once in a while to write in a medium which he deeply respects — the detective story.



THERE WAS NO USE TRYING TO work. Those church bells kept chiming at minute intervals and, though they weren't loud, they were insistent and their tones crept into the room and hung there, getting between me and any work. It was Friday in Berlin, and why church bells should be ringing on a Friday afternoon I couldn't figure out.

It was a beautiful day, too — Berlin offers a lovely spring in compensation for the many unpleasant features of living in Germany's capital. I had just bought several new records for my phonograph and I thought I'd try them out. I picked one at random — it was the "Liebestod" from Tristan and Isolde. I put it on the machine and was about to play it when my servant announced the Baron von Genthner.

"Not interrupting any work, I hope?" he asked me questioningly.

"Not at all. I can't work with those bells making that racket. Come in and have a drink. Have two drinks." I was glad to see the Baron; he was the only German I knew who managed to keep absolutely detached from German political intrigue. He had been a great war hero. When the War ended he had retired from further active participation. Henceforth he would be a spectator. He remained a spectator and not even a very interested spectator. The only thing which really interested him was music — not contemporary music, but the music of the masters. Music, he often said, reached its apotheosis in Wagner. Since then only Brahms had been touched with the divine spark. Since Brahms — nothing.

"Lovely weather for April," von Genthner said. "I was noticing the peonies in the park."

He paused in front of my phonograph and lie picked up the record I had been about to play.

"'Liebestod?' 'Liebestod?' The love death..." he whispered, half to himself. "What chance, what mad quirk of fate made you want to play this record today?"

"I don't know. One record is much like another to me, you know. Why should the 'Liebestod' affect you so?"

He didn't answer for a moment. Then he sat down in a heavy armchair. "You know, I would like a drink. Some brandy, perhaps."

"Sure," I laughed. "I'll get a bottle."

I got a bottle and two glasses. I opened the bottle and poured us each a drink. He tossed his down at a gulp without ever murmuring the conventional "Prosit."

"Something's troubling you. Is it those chimes from the church bells?"

Von Genthner looked up. "Twenty years ago today a man asked me to play the 'Liebestod' for him. I didn't play it, but every year on this day the memory of three hours I spent with him comes back. It — it is disturbing."

"What is the silly song all about?" I asked testily. "I know it's from Tristan and Isolde, but that's all."

He looked at me pityingly, and sighed. "Whatever do they teach you in your American universities! In the last act of the opera — it was written by Wagner;...

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