The only thing left to do was to telephone. I rang so
long I was about to give up. Then someone who did not speak French finally
answered. I could not speak a word of Polish. In very halting German the man on
the other end of the line said he was just a carpenter who was making some
repairs in the AFP office, but at least I found out from him where it was.
After I had waited a full hour, a short, sloppily dressed man came in.
He had a very heavy accent. I felt everything tumbling down around me, for the
AFP correspondent was apparently a Pole. It would be impossible to tell him
what I intended to do.
"I'm a French tourist," I told him. "A friend of
my husband who works for AFP in Paris suggested I get in touch with you for
information about the city."
He seemed amazed and incredulous. Since I
could not continue that line, I took the plunge.
"Are you French?" I
asked. "I mean, of French nationality?"
"Yes. But why do you ask?"
"That makes all the difference. I would like to give you some advance
notice about something. Can we talk here?"
"No, no, no. It would be
safer in my car."
I was somewhat reassured to find that his car had
French license plates. I told him what I planned to do about noon that day. He
did not seem too happy about it, for censorship was very strict, but he agreed
to watch me.
"All I ask you to do," I said, "is just pass by you
don't have to say a word and send a dispatch to Paris."
my final preparations in a restaurant washroom, where I fastened a chain around
my waist under my dress and pulled the end of it through a buttonhole of my
In a few minutes the streets were full, for the stroke of noon
brought large crowds out on to the Marszalkowska in the heart of Warsaw.
I carefully chose a solid-looking tree near a traffic light at a wide
and busy intersection. It would suit my purpose, for more automobiles than I
had expected would come to a stop only a few feet away from me. I stationed
myself right in the middle of the stream of people approaching the crosswalk.
The time was right.
I put my flight bag at my feet. Unobtrusively, and
as quickly as possible, I pulled out the chain. It almost slipped out of my
hands, for I was trembling. I passed the chain around the tree and snapped the
padlock shut. Now what to do with the key?