The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit

Excerpt

'FACT,' says Scmerset Maugham in his preface to Ashenden , 'is a poor story-teller. It starts a story at haphazad, generally long before the beginning, rambles on inconsequently and tails off, leaving loose ends hanging about, without a conclusion'. His contention is generally true. In the case of The White Rabbit , however, which, like Ashenden , is the story of a British Agent, I shall hope to prove that there are occasionally exceptions to the rule.

At the beginning of the 1939-1945 war those who joined the colours most readily were the veterans of 1914-1918 who had sworn that they would have to be fetched if their country ever called upon them again. I don't know if Forest Frederick Edward Yeo-Thomas was among those who made this boast because I was not acquainted with him in the mean years, although his turbulent nature inclines me to believe that he may have shouted rebellion like the rest. At any rate, there was no question of the policeman being sent for him on 3rd September, 1939, and not only because he was then already thirty-eight years old.

Born of a family which had lived in France since 1855, Yeo- Thomas was a director of Molyneux, the famous Parisian dressmaker. I suppose that dressmakers get as bored with the sight of beautiful mannequins as sales girls in confectioners' shops are said to become tired of the taste of chocolates, although I should hesitate to ascribe both immunities to excessive consumption. Certainly it was not of mannequins that Tommy was thinking as he entered his office in the rue Royale on the morning of Monday, 4th September, 1939, and probably he didn't think of them even as they gave him their usual morning greeting. 'Bonjour, Monsieur Thomas', said the beautiful young women with the gravity of those whose profession is to serve the frivolous. Tommy returned their salutations and tried to settle down to work, because in war as in peace the variable and the changeable thing which . . .

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