Morning Serial

Article excerpt

Byline: By ADRIAN MOURBY Western Mail

Bill collected his Jeep from the Terminal 4 car park. It was already late and he could see the sun ahead of him as he headed west down the M4. It glanced across the windscreen, graphically delineating just how splattered his car had become on the journey up.

Bill switched on the windscreen washer and fell to thinking about what he had put in motion today.

Katz's letter was in his notebook. Bill hoped to keep hold of it long enough to be able to get a proper authentication, but first he would find out what it said.

Each of his highly obliging German-experts had agreed to fax or e-mail him, probably tomorrow if they received the text in time. One, an old donnish character who gloried in the name of Rory Llewellyn Goetz, sounded far too keen to explain how difficult was the act of translating 19th-century Hochdeutsch into modern English.

He might well hold everything up. On the assumption that the meat of Wagner's letter probably did not lie in its opening salutations, Bill had therefore assigned Llewellyn the Loquacious his first third.

The second section, consisting of the bottom of page one and top of page two, had gone to an ambitious young man who asked - in recompense - for a contact name at the New York Times.

The third had gone to a reader in 19th-century German who had sounded far too busy to speak on the phone but who'd nevertheless said he'd do it once Bill had, in exasperation, asked whether there might be anyone else in his department who could help. …