Tuesday, March 15, 1938
Evelyn Brand had done a crack bit of journalism, and she hadn't even had to dress like a man to do so.
She perched her hip on the desk in the American News Service office in Berlin, while Hamilton Chase III, the European bureau chief visiting from London, reviewed her article.
George Norwood, the Berlin bureau chief, paced the office, glaring at Evelyn with each turn. If he'd arrived in Vienna on time, the story of the year would have been his, not hers. But he hadn't, so it wasn't.
After Adolf Hitler bullied the Austrian government into allowing Nazi Germany to annex the country, German troops had marched across the border without firing a shot.
And Evelyn would get the ANS byline.
She'd stood under the blood-red swastika flags as the Führer's cavalcade rolled into Vienna to thunderous cries of "Heil, Hitler!" In her story, she'd described the little girl in native costume tossing flowers and the black uniformed SS officer handing the bouquet to the Führer.
But she'd also described the scene on another street, where a mob forced two dozen Jews to scrub anti-Nazi graffiti from the sidewalk. She could still see the silver-haired man down on his knees, still see the jeering boy knock the gentleman's hat into the gutter. The man had reached for his hat, then thought better of it and returned to work.
When Hamilton Chase set down the article, Evelyn gave him a triumphant smile. "It's good, isn't it?"
He ground his cigarette in the ashtray. "Yes, it's good."
"Good?" George Norwood flung a hand in her direction. "She shouldn't have been there. She's assigned to Munich. She lives there."
"I'm in the room, Mr. Norwood." Evelyn sent her boss a thin smile. "I did call the Berlin office beforehand. Mr. O'Hara said no one from ANS was in Vienna. But I was already there."
"I was on my way." Norwood wasn't even thirty, but he glowered at Evelyn as if she were a naughty five year old.
Silver fanned back in Chase's sandy hair. "Why were you in Vienna, Miss Brand?"
Evelyn rearranged her houndstooth check skirt over her knees. "My roommate is a flautist, and she wanted to attend a certain concert in Vienna. I didn't think she should travel alone, given the tensions." More like she'd used the concert to lure Libby into accompanying her to Vienna. Bait and switch, Libby had said. She wasn't incorrect.
"She tried to sneak into the press conference." Norwood ran his hand through chestnut hair almost the same shade as Evelyn's.
"I didn't sneak. I presented my press pass and asked politely. With no one from ANS in town, it was worth a try." Instead of asking why Evelyn was in Vienna, Chase should have asked why Norwood wasn't. The only major news service or paper without a correspondent in town. Almost criminal.
Norwood blew out a roiling cloud of cigarette smoke. "She knew she wouldn't be admitted. She wasn't on the list."
Evelyn crossed her arms. "Bert Sorensen from the New York Press-Herald wasn't on the list. He got in. But he's a man. I should have—"
"Don't even think about it." Chase speared her with his gaze. "I will not have a repeat of the Paris fiasco. You made the ANS a laughingstock."
Evelyn lowered her chin. "Yes, sir." If only she'd used more pomade and bobby pins that day. With her fence post figure and a man's suit, she'd been admitted to the press conference given by that woman hating French official. No one would have been the wiser if tendrils of hair hadn't sprung from under her fedora.
Chase handed Evelyn's article to Norwood. "Clean it up and send it to New York."
Evelyn clutched her hands in her lap. "Please keep the part about the man and the hat."
Norwood's nostrils flared. "That's the part that needs cleaning."