The Double Eagle
by David P. Smith
It had drizzled rain for two days now. I heard the roll of thunder, and our
prospects for a new job were the color of the clouds I saw in the distance.
Miles had just come in from a stakeout. He was leaning back, legs stretched out,
rolling a cigarette.
He had just opened his mouth to speak, looked like he had an idea about
something, which would be a change, when Effie opened the door.
"Sam, you've got a client in the office," Effie announced.
"Said she needs action fast."
"Uh, huh. What d'ya think?"
"Oh you'll like her," then she eyed Miles, whose ears had perked up
"Her threads have some mileage, but they cost a bundle."
"And she has lots of these and a lot of those."
"Well, send her in, sweetheart, time is money."
She went out and came back in with our prospective client and Effie wasn't
"This is Miss Claire Adelaide. Miss Adelaide, Mr. Same Spade and his
partner, Miles Archer."
Jesse Owens couldn't have grabbed a chair for her as fast as Miles. She was
just his type, when his wife wasn't looking. Young, slim and sophisticated.
Effie eased out. The only sound was the patter of rain and Miles's heart.
"What can we do for your Miss Adelaide?"
"Oh, call me Claire, please. I do hate to bother you gentleman so late
in the day, but I'm so terribly worried."
Miles was lapping this up like Effie's terrier.
"Go right ahead....Miss Adelaide. It's our job."
"Well, it's my sister, I'm afraid she's in over her head. You see, she's
supposed to play in the Diplomacy tournament at Daddy's club tomorrow night,
and, well, you don't know Helen. She's so trusting and innocent. Daddy's always
said her mind was like a feather pillow, that bore the impression of the last
person to sat upon it. I can't bear to think what would happen to her in a game
with ruthless grognards."
"Old veterans, Miles. Now, Miss Adelaide....Clair...just what is it you
want us to do?"
"Oh, please, could one you arrange to enter the first round game with
her. I'm afraid to think what would happen if she went into the game without a
friend--flying dutchmans, miswritten orders ignored, lies and backstabs. I just
couldn't let that happen to my sister."
Miles glanced at me and grinned.
"Sure," I said, "if it'll make you rest any easier, one of us
will sit an and play, just to keep thinks on the up and up."
"About the money....."
"We charge $100 a day, plus expenses," I said. She hesitated at
that. Then pulled out two crisp C notes.
"Here you are...and I thought, perhaps, you could out something about
the other players in the game. They are a despicable lot, and it might help if
I...uh, if Helen knew how they played....opening moves, their
"Sure, sure, we'll find out. Just who is in the game?"
"Well, the best player, I believe, is a Mr. Gutman, a quite large and
abusive fellow. Wears white suits. I don't like him. I understand he
particularly wants to win this tournament...because of the trophy."
"Yes, a double eagle coin struck in obsidian--quite rare and
priceless--donated by a Diplomacy-playing numismatist."
"Yeah, sort of a black bird, huh?"
"There is also a little man...Joel Cairo. He has an accent, eastern
Europe I think. One look at him, Mr. Spade, and you just know you can't trust
him. There is also a weasel-looking character named Wilma. It is well known that
he makes his moves just as Mr. Gutman says. He scarcely has a mind of his own--I
believe the word for him is 'toady'. There are two others, an Englishman,
Blakely Crawford, whose favorite country is Russia, and a Texan, Victor G.
Clarke, known for his unpredictable and bizarre openings, and for his foul press
in postal games."
I reached for her dough, but Miles beat me to it, and blurted out that he
would be so very honored to be at the game himself.
We rose and escorted Claire to the door.
"Thank you ever so much, gentlemen, I feel so relieved."
Then giving Miles the eye, she added, in a voice that purred--"I don't
know how I will ever be able to repay you."
When she had left, Miles held the bills up the light and whistled.
"Crisp as a starched collar. And did you see their brothers in her
purse? This one gig I'm gonna enjoy."
The ringing wouldn't stop. I shook my head, but it kept on ringing. Eyes open
now, I sat up in bed and fumbled for the phone. I was two o'clock in the
"Hello. Yeah, this is Spade. What is it? You don't say? Uh, huh. Yeah, I
can't say...it's confidential. Yeah, all right. I'll be up their in thirty
I pulled up in front of the building where the Diplomacy tournament was being
held. Inspector William Owens, the pick of the bad lot, met me at the door and
scurrying along beside him was Sgt. Paddock. Paddock and I had tangled once
before. It stuck in his craw--I could see he hadn't forgotten.
"Hello Sam. Tough break about Miles."
"Yeah, Bill, tough. Show me where it happened."
"Ain't you even going to ask how he got it, Spade? Or don't you already
A short right cross would have put Paddock on his back, but Owens grabbed me
"Come on, Sam, let it go."
"All right, but get him away from me, you hear, get him away if he knows
what's good for him."
We went up a fight of stairs, through heavy oak doors and into a well-lit
room. Old look...19th century...large leather-covered easy chairs, but only one
caught my eye. The photographer was still at work, others were dusting for
prints around the table--the Diplomacy game still set up where it was
I walked over to the chair, but I knew what I was going to see. There was
Miles, head slumped slightly forward. Just as I figured it. He had been
stabbed....a crimson strain on him white suite encircled the ivory-handled
stiletto in his back.
They took the body out and we got down to business. There wasn't much to
on...except one thing. No one had come in or out of that room while the
Diplomacy game was in progress--no one had seen the murder committed. The
narrowed the suspects down to the six surviving players, unless Miles had
committed suicide by stabbing himself in the back. He would have thought it was
a great gag.
"Well, Sam, what d'ya think? Miles have any enemies in this game?
"You got me, Bill."
"All right, Sam, let me have it. I know Miles was on a case. Who's the
"All right. For what it's worth, a dame named Claire Adelaide--her
sister, Helen, was one of the players."
"Who are you trying to fool? Claire Adelaide was one of the players. And
she doesn't have any sister. We started the questioning with her. The others are
all in an adjoining room now. They all claim the same thing. No one saw
anything. They all say someone must have sneaked in and stabbed him while
everyone else was over at the board. But one of the tournament directors was out
in the hallway the whole time. He said no one came in or out. That's not all.
The Double Eagle coin that was to be the first place prize is missing. It was in
a case over the fireplace and we've searched them already--it can't be found,
and we don't have a clue."
I asked Bill to let me question the suspects and he agreed. Paddock didn't
like it--said the force didn't need the likes of any gumshoe in their
investigation--but Bill had the suspects all brought in anyway. I've been around
a few Diplomacy players in my time, long before Miles ever thought about
playing, but this was as seedy and untrustworthy bunch as I've ever seen.
Bill introduced everyone, then we all sat around the table with the game
board still set up just as the game was interrupted after the Winter of 1904.
Most of them kept darting their eyes over to the chair off to the side where
Miles got it. They all looked guilty to me. Before I could day anything, the fat
guy, Gutman, started in.
"I'll have you know, sir, that I am unaccustomed to being treated in
such a manner. I demand that I be charged immediately or released."
Then they all started in. Everyone shouting at once. All demanding their
rights. Paddock got them quieted down. Then I looked at the board, and an idea
came to me.
"Mr. Clark, could you tell me who was playing each country?"
That was a mistake. You would have thought the redhead had a spotlight on him
as he pontificated. I finally shut him up after coming up with the players;
Gutman--England; Wilma--France; Blakely Crawford--Turkey; Joel Cairo- -Italy;
V.G. Clarke--Austria; Claire Adelaide--Germany; and Miles played Russia.
I had seen the recording of the moves in the game. I believed I had it now. I
knew who killed Miles, how it was done, and the location of the missing Double
Eagle. But I never could resist to wind up a case with a flourish.
"Mr. Gutman. I notice that you began the game with the Churchill
Opening: F Edi-Nwg, F Lon-Nth, A Lvp-Edi. Why that opening rather than the
"Hrumph, there was no profit in the Channel, sir, no profit at
"You no doubt knew that France would not dare open there. Yes, we know
that France kowtows to you so don't deny it. But I know you would give your
right arm for that Double Eagle--so Wilma here was your target--but something
lured you to Scandinavia."
Wilma was standing now, glaring at Gutman and looking like he could jump over
the table and grab his flabby throat.
"Yes, sir, I don't deny it. I had good information that Russia would not
only move A Mos southward, but he would not receive a build for Sweden."
"Not good enough Gutman. You know that St. Pete is a dead for England.
You're a better player than that. You know you had a firm alliance with France,
so no worries there. It was Germany and Russia you had to deal with. Germany
passed along information that F Kie-Den would allow Russia to be stood off in
Sweden. Germany promised you something more, didn't she? A classic Anglo-German
alliance that would take out the threat of Russian fleets building StP(nc) and
later your good ally France would be your next victim."
"Sit down, Wilma," growled the inspector.
"Yeah, you knew that England always is better positioned in such an
alliance to stab Germany after France falls."
Puffing himself up, and looking at the rest of us with contempt, Gutman went
on. "I tell you, sir, I did not want to trust that woman. She has a certain
reputation on the Diplomacy circuit. But confound it, the Russian would not look
me in the eye. I never trust a man who will not look me in the eye. He kept
leering at her all night. Yes, sir, I took her up on the offer."
I eased up out of my chair and sidled over by the Italian player, Cairo. A
sweet scent from his oiled ringlets, combined with the perfume from his pocket
handkerchief, made me a little nauseous.
"What's your story, Cairo? No, let me guess. Germany persuaded you that
she was opening Mun-Bur, so you decided to head westward, knowing that the only
time a western attack by Italy is not hopeless is when Germany expects to make
it to Burgundy. What did she promise you? Marseilles, Spain, Portugal?"
Cairo whimpered and bolted for the door. I grabbed him and slammed him
against the wall.
"Let me go! I know nothing. She sounded convincing; I thought I could
trust Austria and Russia to be busy against Turkey. I will not answer anymore
questions! I will not, do you hear!"
I took a fist full of shirt and slapped him a few times.
"You'll answer questions and like it, Cairo.
"She probably said she had a firm Anschluss in place, didn't she?"
Cairo whimpered and nodded.
"Just as I thought. The grand German-Austrian alliance was in place,
with Italy sufficiently warned not to enter Tyrolia--and encouraged to head
westward. You folded like a cheap paper bag, Cairo. You make me sick."
Cairo sunk down on the floor. He looked like a frightened rabbit.
The redhead, Clark, was next. I took a deep breath. His kind always get on my
nerves. Before I ever said a word he was on his feet. He thrust his pipe toward
me and began a monologue.
"I tell you, the Anschluss was only for convenience and defense. And
besides, I convinced her of its potential. True, she mentioned it first, but i
was going to ride to victory anyway. After all, Russia was doing everything I
asked. Russia, your late partner, seemed distracted about something. He opened A
Mos-Sev, F Sev-Rum, and A War-Ukr. So that tells you something right there about
his lack of ability. He actually thought that was an anti- Turkish opening. With
Germany backing me, I opened F Tri-Alb, A Vie-Bud and A Bud-Ser. Of course, I am
aware that opening is inferior to the Southern Hedgehog, but after all, my
neighbors Italy and Russia could be trusted to toe the line."
He would have rambled all night like that at if I had let him.
"All right," I said, "let's take a look at the Supply Center
01 02 03 04
England 5 6 7 8
France 5 5 5 6
Germany 5 5 5 5
Italy 4 4 3 1
Austria 5 5 6 7
Russia 5 4 2 0
Turkey 4 5 6 7
I told them the solution to the case was right before their eyes. Paddock
snorted, but everyone leaned over the board and shifted their eyes from the
chart to the board and back again. At least one of them knew what it meant.
"Oh, Mr. Spade," cooed Claire Adelaide, "could I please have a
word with you...in private?"
She took me by the arm and eased to a far corner of the room, while the
players, the Inspector, and Paddock, all shook their heads and muttered as they
studied the board.
"Mr. Spade...Sam...I have something to say. I don't know why I didn't
mention this before. I suppose I was afraid of him. Of Wilma, I mean. I know I
saw a knife blade in his coat pocket. He saw me watching him. Oh, Sam, you've
never seen such a vicious look as he kept giving me."
I couldn't help but grin.
"You're good, Angel...Claire...real good, but I don't doubt if you've
ever told the truth in your life. No, Angel, it won't work. You killed Miles and
you're going over for it."
"Sam, don't joke about things like that. You almost sound as if you mean
"I do. You made it easy. Look at the last turn. Russia, Miles, was out
of the game. He probably didn't mind at all; he could get a better look at you
as a spectator. And you were the only player that winter turn who didn't have a
build or removal to make--just the way you planned it. Who would have a better
story? After all, you hired the poor chump, so it would be one of the other
players who would take the rap. And, besides, it gave you the perfect chance to
get take the Double Eagle and dispose of it. No, while everyone else was a the
game board, you were beside Miles--it was your knife, your murder, and now
you're going to pay for it."
"Sam, please, you don't have to say anything. Wilma can take the fall.
Gutman and Cairo will be glad to hand him over. It'll take everyone off the
hook. Besides, you didn't care for your partner. We'll go away together, Sam,
"Miles wasn't worth much in a lot of ways, but he was my partner. And
when a guy's partner is iced someone has to pay. If not, it's bad for
business...bad all around. Oh, I doubt if they'll stretch you're pretty neck,
Angel, but they'll put you away for a long time. With good behavior you'll be
out in twenty years or so, and I'll think about abut you a lot. Goodbye,
I laid it out for the Inspector. They had enough to get her on circumstantial
evidence, but her confession was icing on the cake.
"It seems easy, to way you explained it, Sam," Bill said as he
rubbed his chin and slowly shook his head, "but something else still has me
stumped. The Double Eagle. Where is it? We've made a thorough search of everyone
and everything in the room. No one got our to this room, so where is it?"
"You're wrong, Bill someone did make it out...Miles. I'll bet if you
check his clothes at the Coroner's office, you'll find the Double Eagle
somewhere on him. Right where she put it, just after she stabbed him, but before
she eased back to the game before being missed. You'd better hurry, though. She
must have a partner on the inside--at the Coroner's office. Better get there
Bill left in a hurry. As the rest of us headed out the building I could still
hear snatches of conversation about the game from the players. They had already
forgotten the murder...only the game was important now. Sgt. Paddock, more
subdued than he was earlier, shook his head as they walked by, all five of them
planning to resume the tournament--making their alliances and opening move
"Can you beat that? It's just kid stuff, pushing wooden blocks around.
What kind of game is that anyway?"
"Game, Paddock? It's not a game. It's the stuff dreams are made
Reprinted from Diplomacy World No.72