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Petersholme remains in East Prussia. After his Lordship has been wrapped around a small, 5 yo finger, he finds himself pulled deeper into the maelstrom that Molloy had placed him. There are things afoot that Molloy failed to inform him about or had only alluded to. The danger zone is fast approaching.
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"Herr Graf?" the housekeeper called to von Kys as our car pulled to a stop in front of the entrance of the manor.
We had just returned from our picnic where we had watched the successful test of von Kys' rocket. Janus stepped out of the car and quickly approached the housekeeper standing at the entrance. I got out more slowly, waking Willi enough to let him climb into my arms where he promptly returned to his nap. I stood beside the car across the drive from von Kys and watched as the housekeeper spoke to him. Corporal Jorsten drove the car around to the garage.
Turning, von Kys stared out at the visa behind me, all trace of his earlier high spirits gone. "What's wrong?" I asked as I stepped towards him, the sleeping boy snuggled against me.
"I cannot even have my moment of victory without Gisele upstaging me," he responded, his voice expressionless. "She has telephoned and would have me ring her back."
"Perhaps she simply wanted to congratulate you?" I offered as I approached him.
"She is not capable of being that human, Petersholme. But I shall call her back." He dismissed the subject with a wave of his hand and smiled at me. "You handle the role of loving father well, old lad. You should have a few of your own."
"Not for some time, I think, von Kys. Being a momentary substitute for a real father isn't the same as having twenty-four hour duty as one."
He nodded but his thoughts had already slipped from young Willi in my arms. "The gall of that woman!" he grumbled through clinched teeth.
We stood for several moments at the entrance of the house while he pulled his thoughts back from contemplation of his wife. "Verdammte!" he growled as anger suffused his face again with an even darker blush. "The swine actually dared to come here to call on me!"
"Who did, old lad?" I asked, realising that he had changed gender and was referring to someone other than his wife. I was surprised by his vehemence, forgetting the weight of the sleeping child in my arms.
"Our local Gauleiter."
"Gauleiter?" The word meant `district leader', but even knowing that meant nothing to me -- except that my friend was probably referring to some local official.
"He's the party's area administrator, but he is an incompetent buffoon if he is anything. For some reason, he has it firmly fixed in his head that von Kys is the cause of everything bad that has ever happened to him and his family." He snorted. "The moron would do anything to damage my family and its reputation." He took a deep breath and shrugged. "He has never been a guest at Schloß Kys, Petersholme -- and never will. Still, I can't help but wonder what titbit of slime he intended to give me when he appeared at my door."
"Could he endanger you -- or your people?"
"No. At least not directly. Because of my position in the Waffen-SS and Gisele's at the Reichskanzlerei with Hitler and Hess, he has no real authority over this estate. And he cannot enter Peenemünde for any reason so he cannot affect my work."
"Forget about him then," I suggested. "He can only be obnoxious if you permit him to be."
Von Kys chuckled. "Good old Petersholme -- always the pragmatist." He looked at Willi sleeping in my arms. "We should go in and get warm. I'll telephone Gisele and learn what the newest gossip is in Berlin." He opened the door and held it for me. "Could it be that Reichsmarschall Göring has put another inch to his already ample girth? Or, perhaps, that the Propaganda Minister is to be a father yet again?" He scratched his head as he veered towards the study and the telephone there. "I think he has seven little Goebbels now -- or is it only six?"
As I carried him inside, Willi's nurse arrived at the foot of the stairs and took the sleeping boy from me. I turned to see von Kys slip into the study. Wondering what it would be like to be married to a woman I neither loved nor respected, I crossed the hall and stood gazing out at the entrance to the estate through the window beside the front doors.
I wondered how my friend had come to be in this mess as I heard the murmur of his voice through the opened doors to his study. It would be unthinkable for someone from the small village of Bellingham to attempt to oppose me. For that matter, the constabulary in Coventry would give a lad a whack if someone there sought to embarrass me unless he had piles of evidence to support himself.
It was, of course, true that Britain was a Monarchy and Germany had been a republic since 1918. But, still, I had watched von Kys' few remaining servants and recognised the same feelings among them as my own had towards me. There was the same respect and mutual trust here as there was at Bellingham Hall.
I wondered how the Nazis had managed to pervert the local culture so severely that is could destroy the relationship between a Lord and his dependants. Even Cromwell's so-called Republic in England hadn't been able to sever the link between the people and the Lords who protected them. Yet, after only five short years of Hitler's Nazis, someone like the Count von Kys could be intimidated by a dissatisfied local commoner. It was difficult for me to understand.
"Verdammte!" von Kys bellowed. A moment later there was a crash as something landed against a wall in the study.
I walked quickly to the open study and looked in. Von Kys was pacing back and forth in front of his desk. "Are you all right?" I asked.
"She is coming to Schloß Kys -- tonight!" He stopped in midstride and his head snapped around to face me. "Shut the door, Petersholme. There are things we need to discuss."
I shut the door and walked over to him. "Whatever is the matter, old lad?"
"Nothing!" he growled.
"I've never seen you this agitated, von Kys. Something is disturbing you."
He studied me in silence so long I became increasingly nervous. He sighed then. "Tonight, you'll need to include Dagold to your passenger list," he said with a cold smile painted across his face.
"Corporal Jorsten?" He nodded. "A Waffen-SS non-commissioned officer is going to want to flee the Fatherland and the leader he's pledged to give his life for?" I asked, not understanding at all. The idea of it even, from what I had learnt of the party's military arm, was ludicrous.
Von Kys grunted and moved behind his desk. He collapsed into it. "You have to understand that Dagold's brother is Wilhelm's biological father, Petersholme. When the lad wouldn't marry Gisele to give the child a legal father, she was enraged."
"But you married her..."
He laughed. "Oh, yes, I married her. I, a Drecksau, married a woman with child. Her father was so pleased that he paid off my dead father's debts. She was so relieved that she introduced me to the top party hierarchy and made possible what I have accomplished here. But Gisele is truly made for hate. And she has hated the Jorsten family these past five, almost six years -- starting with the young student with whom she had slept and spreading to include all family members. She becomes quite insane where that family is involved, my friend."
"I can see that she would be a bit piqued but how does this relate to young Jorsten?
"Dagi's brother was executed this morning."
I stared at him in disbelief. My knees felt weak as I attempted to grapple with this insertion of insanity into the conversation. I moved to a chair beside von Kys' desk and sank into it gratefully. "Whatever for?" I managed to ask.
"She had one of the women from her office in the Bund Deutscher Mädel claim he raped her. He was arrested last week. Charges were brought before a people's court yesterday -- Gisele was quite gleeful that he was convicted within the hour. Sentence was carried out at dawn. The Gräfin was actually there to watch."
"But Jorsten's done nothing, has he?"
"He was born a Jorsten -- that's enough for the woman. Her revenge won't be complete until she has killed both of the brothers." He smiled suddenly. "She put us together, you know?"
"Four years ago, he was sixteen -- still a student at gymnasium. Just before the purge, she had Röhm send his SA goons to pick the lad up. He was brought here. I watched in shock as she gave him a choice -- be buggered by me or she would give him to a squad of SA to work him over. She made it very obvious that, either way, he lost his virginity."
Von Kys snorted. "Dagi only thought about it for a moment before he asked where my bedroom was. I got him into the Waffen-SS immediately after he graduated the gymnasium and assigned to me. It was the only way I could protect him from her."
"That's horrible!" I groaned, instantly wishing I were comfortably in England.
"That wasn't all of her news." Von Kys stepped to the fireplace and, turning to face me, propped his elbows on the mantel. I watched him with fascination, like a vole watching the cat preparing to devour him.
"The Führer has removed the last exemptions for employing members of an inferior race. All employers have one week to remove non-Germans from their work rosters. The only exemptions are those approved personally by Himmler's office."
I stared at him in surprise, my mouth agape.
"This includes my two scientists, Petersholme." He turned suddenly, balled his fist and slammed it against the wall. "Those men just gave Germany the weapon that will win any war we march into. Their contribution was at least as great as von Braun's or the other gentiles. How could he do this to them?" He shook his head slowly. "They were good Germans," he groaned to himself. "Good men."
"Does your aeroplane have petrol, von Kys?"
He nodded and, beginning to smile, turned back to face me fully. "The Dragonfly. That's right, you're going to get them out -- after dinner." He took a deep breath. "Alexis shall need to siphon every machine on the farm this afternoon. You'll have your petrol, just get these people out of here."
"How about you?" I asked. "Will you be found out?" I studied him closely. "Can you survive something like that?"
Von Kys snorted. "My eagle flew only this morning, Petersholme. Göring and Jodl will prevail at the Reichskanzlei if I am ever suspected, not Himmler and Gisele."
The smile melted from his lips as his face went lax. "Verdammte!" he growled finally. "So, that's what this was all about."
"What was what all about?"
"The Gauleiter's visit this morning. That brute would not have dared to come here unless Gisele suggested it to him."
"You don't know that, von Kys."
"Don't I? Look at my position, Petersholme. No piece of offal, even if he is a party official, would invade the home of a German noble who is also a colonel in the Waffen-SS. Unless the Countess invited him."
"How would their collusion benefit either of them?"
"Dagi or the Jews -- or both -- for Gisele. For him, just being able to embarrass me in my own home would be pleasure enough."
"We need to get the petrol from your cars and tractors -- then to the aeroplane," I told him, beginning to sort this thing out. I did not like the sense of fear already nipping at my heels. I knew if I simply sat through the afternoon and thought about this mess I had walked into, it would not be just my heels my fears would be nipping at by the time I was aboard von Kys' aeroplane.
"You're going to have to do most of this yourself, Petersholme. Can you get Alexis to help you?"
"I suppose I can. But what are you going to be doing?"
He chuckled. "Remember? I'm having a dinner to celebrate our success this afternoon. And, thanks to Gisele, I am very short of servants."
Ah, yes! A party. Good thing, that. As, from every direction, danger crept stealthily towards us. Nero fiddling whilst Rome burnt.
I stood. "You need to give me detailed instructions to where you've hidden your aeroplane, old lad. I need to give them to Alexis."
I saddled a horse and went in search of Alexis. I found him in his potato field.
"No time for that, lad," I called out to him as I approached. He looked up and watched as I pulled up beside him.
"Lord Petersholme, you seem..." he paused and appeared to fumble for a word, "excited."
"You need to siphon off petrol from the cars -- from the tractors as well and anything else you can find."
"We have an aeroplane but need the fuel."
"How much do we need?"
Bloody arse! This Alexis Kolawaski would have to ask a perfectly sensible question like that. With me acting like some excitable Frenchmen instead of using my head.
"It's a de Havilland Dragonfly -- that's two engines," I told him, trying to think my way to an answer. "It has a passenger cabin that sits four, including the pilot -- a maximum of a ton, don't you think?" He waited, studying me blankly. "Two thousand pounds, that is."
"How many litres would that require?"
Litres? Why couldn't these people on the continent learn to use normal measures? I tried to remember my summer in Germany and the damnable weights and measures I'd used then. A litre was a little less than a quarter of a gallon. "How far are we from Polish territory?" I asked, beginning to figure fuel needs in my head.
"Directly, as a bird would fly?" He pursed his lips. "Perhaps a hundred and seventy-five kilometres to the nearest aerodrome. Somewhat less if you can set down in a small air field."
"We'll need at least fifty gallons for me to be comfortable -- say, two hundred and fifty litres."
"That is a lot of petrol, Lord Petersholme."
"Do what you can then."
"Has something happened to rush things?"
"Hitler just took the exemption off employing Jews -- those two men need to leave tonight or their families will never see them again."
"I may not be able to get to their living quarters -- they are more closely guarded."
"They'll be here at von Kys' celebration dinner. Their rocket flew today."
"I saw, my Lord."
"You should have heard the thing! It sounded like it was coming directly from hell."
"It will sound even worse, my Lord, when Poland is already ground into the dirt under their boots, and that thing is a weapon of war and comes raining down out of the sky over one of your cities."
"Will you be able to ferret out the farm machinery for its petrol?"
He laughed and wiped a trickle of sweat from his forehead. "It is autumn, most of the machinery has already been put away -- what there is of it. The Graf von Kys has failed to modernise his estate. So -- yes ... I have time." He studied me for a few moments. "And what will you be doing while I look for petrol, Lord Petersholme?"
"I want to inspect this aeroplane of von Kys'. I've never seen a Dragonfly up close. I'm used to open bi-planes."
"I would suggest you refrain from that activity until we are ready to depart." I stared at him without comprehension. "We should suppose that you -- that we -- are being watched, my Lord. We do not want to be followed closely when it is time to make our escape." He shrugged. "It is a risk that you will not be comfortable with the controls, but it is one we shall need to take."
I cringed. He was right. And I had forgotten the two Gestapo agents he mentioned the night before. I suspected immediately that I made a terrible spy. I was the sort that the nasty lads found out and shot at dawn -- like poor Jorsten's brother.
"Let me show you where the aeroplane is located," I told Kolawaski and slipped out of the saddle. I handed him the map von Kys had drawn for me and pointed out the shed. "We'll have another passenger tonight."
He looked up and studied me. "Escapes are usually easier, my Lord, the fewer people who are involved."
I explained about Jorsten, deleting only the sexual connection between the Graf and the boy. I also told the Pole that von Kys expected that the security of the estate would be breached through the connection he'd seen existing between the Gräfin and the Gauleiter.