Thank you for continuing to read GAMES AT DEAUVILLE. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
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It was evening before Viscount Molloy's train pulled into Bellingham. It had begun to snow and the station's small platform was covered as he left his carriage.
"Lord Molloy?" The heavily accented voice caught at him and he turned towards it at the far side of the platform. Max squinted, trying to make out the man who had only then begun to move towards him.
He was young. And definitely blond. The platform's lights illuminated the other man's face then and Max Molloy recognised Dagold Jorsten from his debriefings in Warsaw. There was an ethereal quality to the man's looks that was almost the very definition of beauty. Looking on it was almost like receiving an electric shock.
"Dagold Jorsten!" he called in greeting. "I'm glad you're here," he said as the man neared him. "I'd have hated to tramp out to Petersholme's place."
Dagold stopped in front of the nobleman and smiled as he reached out to take Molloy's hand. "Fraü Alice asked that I drive to the Bahnhof to meet your train, Viscount Molloy. I have just now come."
"Please tell me that you drove a car, Jorsten," Molloy said. "I fear that I would turn blue by the time we arrived back at the Hall, if we were to take an open carriage." Behind them, the train began to pull away.
"I drive well, my Lord," Dagold said, raising his voice to compete with the departing train. "I was Graf von Kys' chauffeur." He nodded towards the dark end of the platform. "Lord Petersholme's Bentley is not difficult for me." He reached out and took Molloy's overnight bag from him. "Was your trip from London a pleasant one?" he asked as he began to lead the other man towards the far end of the platform.
"The rail service was up to its usual standards."
In the car, Molloy adjusted his lap blanket and looked towards the German beside him. "Jorsten-" He took a deep breath and, for one last moment, sought a more comfortable way to broach his appearance in Northamptonshire. He let it out. "Jorsten, my trip here tonight isn't just to wish Mrs. Adshead a happy Christmas."
"I wondered, Viscount Molloy, but it was not my place to question."
"Someone near this village sent a message on Saturday to Berlin. They were quite specific that his Lordship was going to France on Monday, that the boy was here, and that you were scheduled to arrive that day."
The silence in the car grew deafening as they followed the narrow road out of the village and continued until they turned onto the lane that would lead them to Bellingham Hall.
"There are spies even here then," Dagold mumbled finally. "I had not thought about it before, but it is logical."
"It's probably nothing. Just someone reporting on Petersholme's movements-"
"No, Viscount Molloy, it is more," the German growled. "As you said, the spy was specific about Willi being here and my arrival. The Gräfin is alive and has somehow found a way to reach her fist out to even this small place-" He nodded to himself. "She wants to finish what she was not allowed to do at Schloß Kys." He pursed his lips. "I am to be killed this week." His eyes widened, and he glanced across to the Englishman. "And she will have Willi taken back to Germany as well."
"I hope that you're only imagining monsters under your bed, Jorsten; but I did check on her this afternoon with our intelligence people. Gisele von Kys is alive all right. And she has transferred from the German girls' union to the Office of State Security - to the SS. She now has a rank comparable to our lieutenant colonel."
Dagold Jorsten's voice was lifeless as he said: "It was Lord Petersholme who shot her at Schloß Kys. She will want him dead as well. With the SS at her disposal now, she will have men to do so - although she has me executed and her son returned to the Fatherland."
"None of it will happen, Jorsten. Our intelligence people are already working on that radio transmission - we'll have it tracked down within the week."
The German glanced again at Molloy. "And in the meantime, my Lord?" he asked softly. "What of Lord Petersholme in France - and of Willi and me here?"
"We'll have armed marines out here by the end of the week, Jorsten - and men in France as well," he answered. Max Molloy silently cursed himself for not having already contacted the embassy in Paris to get men to Petersholme. It was one more thing that he would have to cover with Churchill when he telephoned him in the morning. "In the meantime, I came down to alert you and to make sure Petersholme's people on the farm are ready to fend off anything that might happen before we have people in place."
"You will not take Willi with you when you leave then?"
"I'll come back and stay here until the Hall is properly guarded. But taking the boy away shouldn't be necessary, Jorsten. It would take Berlin at least a week to mount any sort of attack in this part of England - and they would only have received the message from here on Sunday. There wouldn't have been anyone to make a decision, much less authorise it, before this morning. We'll have men from the Navy out here in plenty of time."
Dagold Jorsten slowed the Bentley down and turned into the drive that led up to the manor. He said nothing. He understood that it was impossible for the English to appreciate how well-oiled and efficient the German state had become under the party. It was a machine now that was at full-power twenty-four hours a day. An unthinking machine that followed whatever orders it was given. Dagold Jorsten had no doubt that the Gräfin von Kys had given it an order to kill Lord Petersholme and himself, and to return Willi to her.
He knew that he had to keep his nephew away from whatever the Gräfin had planned for him. The boy was all that was left of his brother and probably of his parents as well; he had to be kept safe.
After breakfast the next morning, Max Molloy stood at the fireplace in the sitting room. With him were Alice Adshead, young Dagold Jorsten, and the farm manager. Outside, it had finally stopped snowing, and the sun peeked from behind the clouds blowing slowly eastward.
He had already called Churchill at Chartwell. It hadn't taken much to convince the man of the possible dangers facing Petersholme both at home and in France. Churchill promised that Royal Marines would be at Bellingham Hall by Friday and that Petersholme's group in Deauville would be immediately reinforced as well.
Molloy smiled at Alice and moved away slightly from the fire as its heat began to roast the back of his legs. "Mrs. Adshead, I came down last night because there's the possibility of a measure of unpleasantness before Petersholme can return home at the end of the week. It's being taken care of, of course-"
"Max Molloy, you have the subtlety of a charging elephant," Alice said and sat back in her chair. "Please just tell us what the danger is and what is being done to avoid it."
After he'd laid out the same information that he'd given Jorsten on the drive up from the village, he explained that he'd spoken with Winston Churchill already that morning and that several Royal Marines would be arriving at the end of the week while intelligence searched out the German operative. Turning his attention to the farm manager, he said: "It's not likely that the Hun will be able to mount an attack here before the beginning of next week, but you will need to keep a sharp look-out inside and outside, nonetheless."
"That I will, sir."
"And you, Jorsten - did they teach you to fire a rifle?" The German nodded. "Then, I would suggest that you borrow one from his Lordship's cabinet and sleep with it. If someone should get in here, they're coming after you, lad."
"I'll be armed as well, Max Molloy," Alice Adshead said sternly. "No-one enters this house without an invitation."
Molloy tried to stop the smile that threatened his lips as he imagined the woman as one of the Beefeaters at the Tower of London, marching to and fro across the landing with a shotgun to her shoulder.
"Max-" Alice's voice broke into his reverie. "I think that you need to take young Wilhelm to Easthampton-Mares today. That child is my nephew's son and heir - nothing can happen to him."
"He'll be perfectly safe here, Miss Alice."
"Viscount Molloy," Jorsten interrupted. "This is a very large house. During the day, there is a proper staff - but, even so, you or I could go through it and not be seen. At night, it is very easy to enter and even to leave - again, unseen. The Grafchen should not be here if there is any danger at all. You must take him where he will be safe."
"M'Lord," the manager interjected from the door before Molloy could answer. "That boy is Lord Petersholme's son and heir, sir. He can't stay here until this business is sorted out, and that's a fact."
Molloy's gaze flitted from each of his companions to the next as he quickly calculated. Wilhelm was five years old, more than a year older than his own son. But they could still keep each other occupied the rest of the week. And in Easthampton-Mares and under Molloy's father's roof, the boy would be far safer than here. It would mean a time-consuming journey there and an equal one back, but there seemed to be no help for it.
"My bag is still packed, Mrs. Adshead," he said to her, smiling. "Perhaps if you'd put together some things for the boy, we can still catch the early train?" He turned to the young German. "If you'll drive us, Jorsten-?"
* * *
Stefan Schmidt seemed to begin to droop as their car entered Deauville - like a flower that had been plucked. He dragged himself into the lobby of the Normandie. And he claimed to be tired as they were registering. Gisele'd watched him close the door to his room on her and she had been shocked. Her young Obersturmführer had become like an old man before her. Decrepit and frail.
He hadn't even given her a chance to entice him into her bed, and she'd slept alone. She'd figured that Schmidt had somehow seen through her and had used the ruse of being tired to escape her. She'd wanted him, the feel of him against her; and he actually dared to avoid her. Verdammter Schweinhund!
Or worse - ein verdammter Alter. A damned old man - useless to any woman.
Yet, he was so young.
She threw back the bedcovers and sat up. Yes, Schmidt was avoiding her all right. He was being just too obvious for it to be anything else. Angrily, she crossed the room to the mirror over the chest of drawers. She had to see what it was about her that he didn't like. She studied the woman staring back at her.
She raised her head and looked down her cheeks at her reflection in the mirror, forcing her chin out and the skin of her neck to tighten. Her hands cupped her breasts through the silk nightgown and raised them. "A real woman's bosom," she told the reflection, "what any man should want." Her hands moved down over the silk onto her belly. "And a rubensesque figure - the sign of a real woman."
Schmidt was young, just in his early twenties. Her body should appeal to him - if he was the man he looked to be. If he wanted a woman like a real man did. The bastard!
He was so damned perfect. Handsome, athletic. Virile - the perfect German. Like Emil Jorsten had been. And he was ignoring her. Avoiding her. Avoiding her damned bed.
Perhaps that squat little Sûreté creature? At least, he had a member that he would know what to do with. He would fall over himself to have a true Teuton in bed. And he would not care if a couple of centimetres of her temple were discoloured because that Engländer pig Petersholme had shot her.
She stepped back, the thought of Pelletier refusing to disappear from her thoughts on its own. She frowned. If she could not have perfect German manhood between her legs ... Perhaps.
"I have work to do!" she growled at her reflection, forcing the thought of sex from her. She pulled the nightgown over her head and marched naked back to the telephone on the cabinet beside the bed. "That Schweinhund can round up our French help while I dress," she mumbled as she picked up the instrument.
She smiled as the switchboard of the Hotel Normandie routed her call to Schmidt's room. She hoped that she awoke him. It would serve him right for not being on the pillow beside hers this morning.
"Heil Hitler!" he greeted her on the second ring.
She frowned. "Obersturmführer, it is not recommended that you act like a member of the Party when you are on a clandestine assignment."
"I forgot, Gräfin."
She smiled. He sounded so contrite. Like a boy caught in an embarrassing moment. "It won't happen again."
"I hope not," she answered, forcing herself to sound angry. "Have our allies in my sitting room in half an hour. We must organise our mission so that there are no mistakes, Stefan. Such cannot be allowed - even if we are forced to use these Frenchmen to carry it out."
"I will have our two comrades there in half an hour, Gräfin. Will there be anything else?"
"Have coffee brought," she said and rung off.
* * *
Neville watched Clive at the other end of the wagon as he thrust his fork into the hay bale before him and lifted it. He was still trying to understand why the smith had been in their cottage last night and what his mate had agreed to.
"Come on, Nevie!" Clive growled at him. "We're both supposed to be feeding these bloody cows, mate. Get on with it."
Neville buried his pitchfork in the bale before him and hoisted it over the side of the wagon.
"Good shot," Clive congratulated him and Neville followed his friend's gaze to the bale of hay that had broken open when it hit the ground. "Old Bessie might let you get up behind her and take your pleasure for that one," Clive chuckled before spearing another bale with his fork.
"Clive-?" Neville began but paused.
Clive looked up and met his friend's gaze. "Yeah, mate - what's the problem?"
Neville took a deep breath and let it out slowly, watching it turn to mist before him in the cold morning. "Why was David Rice in our cottage last night?"
Clive's face instantly showed his surprise and slowly turned into a smile. "So, you were awake?" Neville nodded. "It doesn't concern you," his friend said dismissively.
Neville almost let the matter drop. It was what Clive expected him to do, what he'd always done before. He knew, somehow, that this was too important to ignore. "When the smith from the village comes into my cottage in the middle of the night, it does-"
"Your cottage?" Clive grumbled, looking up and studying Neville closely.
"Our cottage then. I live there too. His Lordship gave it to me along with you. And I'm just as responsible for what happens there as you."
Clive leaned against his pitchfork and studied his mate for several moments before speaking. He hadn't thought of involving Nevie - this business of keeping an eye open for what Lord Petersholme and his family might do had seemed to be just a lark when David suggested it. But he was going to have a Hun underfoot soon enough - and the Hun's English friend too. There was no way he was going to be able to hide it from Nevie.
He nodded. "You know that kid, the one who's taken over the manor the past week or so?"
"His Lordship's son?"
"His son?" Clive asked suspiciously.
"Yeah. Lord Petersholme adopted him - made him his son, he did. It's all over the estate, Clive - don't you pay any attention at all?"
"His Lordship stole the boy out of Germany is what I hear. I know that his ma wants him back. That's why there's a Hun coming, to take him back."
"Really?" Neville couldn't imagine his Lordship kidnapping anybody's child. He was a magistrate, after all. It didn't sound right at all. But, then, one could never be too sure of things when an aristocrat was involved. A lad just lived his life quiet as he could and prayed that he didn't step over some invisible line.
"So, what is this business you have with Mr. Rice from the village? And this Hun what's coming to visit?"
Clive repositioned himself and heaved the bale of hay out of the wagon, hurling it out into the field before answering. "Do you think a young boy's proper place is with his ma, mate?"
Neville frowned. "I suppose-" He had to admit that he did. Only, this young boy was now his Lordship's son. The whole of the farm and everything else that was Lord Petersholme's would someday belong to that boy. It made his head hurt to try and think what all that could mean.
"Well, I agreed to help David's Hun to find his way around this farm here and rescue that brat his fucking Lordship has taken a shine to."
"Ain't that against the law, Clive?"
"Nevie!" Clive groaned. "How can it be against the law to do the right thing?"
Neville had to admit that Clive had him on that one. He couldn't think of a single reason against it to give his friend. But it still didn't feel right. "Somebody could get hurt, Clive," he mumbled.
"Who could possibly be hurt?" Clive looked down at the bare board of the wagon floor. "There's only old Miss Alice and the house staff at the manor this week."
"There's that German," Neville answered. "The one what looks to be our age. Him or Miss Alice could get hurt."
"That Hun!" Clive growled. "He's got a price on his head back in Germany, Nevie - a criminal, he is."
"A criminal?" he whispered. Lord Petersholme was sheltering a criminal here at Bellingham? That didn't sound right at all. Something was definitely wrong with what his friend was involved in, but Neville didn't know enough to even guess what it was. "A price on his head?" he asked, his voice a little louder.
"This Hun what's coming - he's a copper for their government over there," Clive told him. "He's legal, Nevie lad." He grinned. "We'll be helping out the authorities, we will - what's more legal than that?"
"So, he's going to rescue the boy and nab this criminal?" Neville asked slowly, trying to set the parameters of what he knew he was going to be involved in with his mate.
"Yeah." He laughed. "And we can do anything we wants to that Hun before he's taken away in chains too."
Neville looked sharply at his friend then. He had an idea of where Clive's thoughts were taking him and he didn't like it. It sounded too queer to him. Like Clive was a jessie boy even, thinking about doing that with a stranger. And a criminal at that.
"Let's get this hay thrown, Nevie. I got a bit more of me mum's plum brandy hidden back at the cottage. We're going to need something to warm our bollocks after this morning."
* * *
Horst Müller glowered at the woman on the seat across from him but said nothing. Her brats sat quietly beside her, but whispered to each other incessantly. He should have paid for a private compartment. Only, it had seemed such a waste of money when he was buying the ticket in Dover.
He sat ramrod-straight with his eyes closed, trying to ignore the woman and her whispering children. Hauptscharführer Müller forced his mind to concentrate on his mission.
The success of his mission - both aspects of it - was ultimately dependent on these people. That worried him, but he accepted that there was nothing he could do about it.
He didn't trust the English, no matter what the official Party position was. Not the nearly illiterate members of the English party under that strutting peacock Moseley and not the cadre that the SS had been training to be a fifth column once the war began. They were racists, proud of their Aryan ancestry. But that was all they were.
Prejudiced, small-minded men driven by fear of losing their jobs was what they were. They did not understand the scientific underpinnings of National Socialism, he suspected that they were incapable of understanding it. No member of the Party hated the Jews, or Slavs, or even Gypsies and Africans. It was simply that science had proven them inferior before the German people and that there was room on Earth only for the Germans or the sub-humans. Not both.
It was an Englishman who would guide him to the child and Jorsten, however. And the same Englishman would get him, with the child, to the Channel coast where they were to meet the submarine that would take him back to the Fatherland. A bourgeois Englishman who slaughtered the German language when he used it.
Horst Müller was not a man who allowed himself to worry. He followed orders. He would prefer to be back in the early days when he had fought the Red battalions on the streets of Berlin. But he accepted the conditions that were a part of his mission. And he would succeed, even if he had to work around those conditions. He always had done so before - regardless of the conditions - and he was a Hauptscharführer because of it.
He opened his eyes as the train began to slow. The three brats were glued to the window, but he was able to see enough of the buildings that he discerned they were entering the hub of the London terminus. The carriage bucked as the train continued to brake, the screech of metal on metal a continuous sound around him.
Horst Müller concentrated on the young Engländer who was to meet him at the station in London. James Crooksall had been the best of the English cadres he had trained - an adequate subordinate, he supposed, for an uneducated oaf.
Inside the station, he spotted the Englishman almost immediately. Müller moved out of the flow of people leaving the platforms behind and permitted himself several moments to observe James Crooksall without the man being aware of it.
The Englishman had become tidier since he left cadre-school two years before. At least, he had changed his barber and his hair lay properly on the top of his head.
He still looked like a clerk in an accounting office, however. He wore thick glasses, and Müller was certain that the man had acquired several inches around his waist since he was at camp. He frowned as he studied the Englishman.
How old was the man waiting for him? Crooksall had only been eighteen or nineteen when he was at camp. He shook his head in disbelief. James Crooksall was obviously the product of an England gone totally bourgeois.
Müller sighed and moved quickly across the floor, stopping in front of the Englishman. "You are James Crooksall, yes?" he asked, keeping his voice low so that the people in the station did not hear him speaking German.