Thank you for continuing to read GAMES AT DEAUVILLE. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
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"Capitaine d'Orléans, this hunting party for the English Baron needs to be kept small-" Urnazy laid his spoon down and studied the boiled egg before him now that he had opened it. Its yolk was a rich yellow gel inside the starkness of the firm white.
Spending his morning with that German cow had left a bad taste in Urnazy's mouth. She was so stupid; because of her, it had taken them two hours to work out how to kill one Englishman. The same plan that he'd put in effect when the order had first come from Berlin on Monday - this stag hunt he was now finalising with d'Orléans. He still could not believe it.
He brought his coffee cup to his lips and sipped. "Are you sure that you won't have breakfast?" he asked, looking over the rim of his cup at d'Orléans. "It's quite good."
"Thank you, but I've eaten already, Major," d'Orléans said. He sat across the table from Urnazy in the Hotel Normandie's dining room and wondered what Elizabeth was doing. He watched his superior officer resume eating his late breakfast.
"It is nearly Christmas, of course," Urnazy continued, "and few of this English Baron's sort here in France would want to leave their families and disrupt their plans for a simple hunt - even if they were close by. So, I think four or five of us at most."
He smiled at the croissant on his plate. He tore a piece off and smeared gooseberry jam over the tear. "Yes. You, this English Baron, the American, myself, and the Minister's estate manager - that should be enough to make this Petersholme feel appreciated." He sipped his coffee again, before setting the cup down for the waiter to refill it. "And it would be no great inconvenience to anyone except the two of us."
"I have talked with the Minister's estate manager, Major," d'Orléans told him. "He will have four of his young men in position to run deer towards us as soon as we're in place."
"Good!" Urnazy said. "We won't be out in the cold all day then. It'll be over fairly quickly - this Englishman kills his deer, the staff carries it back to the château, and we stand around in front of a roaring fire and drink brandy to celebrate a good hunt." He scooped up more of the egg with his spoon and raised it to his mouth. "And, of course, the kitchen staff will cook a roast from the deer they killed during the Minister's hunt last week," he continued when he'd swallowed the egg.
"Is that how the English do these things?" d'Orléans asked to make conversation.
The major laughed. "The English do not have many wild deer, Capitaine - they raise them in herds like cows mostly. They expect a hunt from us here on the continent, however - all of the English nobility do. They have a taste for venison - and the stags of Normandy are considered to have the best taste."
Urnazy finished his coffee. "Will you be bringing them into Deauville tonight?"
D'Orléans nodded. "I took them to the casino last night. Tonight, we attend the cabaret near the beach. The Baron and his cousin showed interest-"
"Why not bring them to the casino for dinner then, Capitaine? All three of its restaurants are quite good. I will join you there and return to the Minister's château with you afterwards." He smiled. "It is best to get an early start on this hunt so that it will be over and we can again be warm."
D'Orléans nodded. He wasn't especially enthusiastic about tramping through snow-covered woods looking for deer himself. An hour or two of that and he would be ready for a hot fireplace. And the chance to be with Elizabeth Myers again.
* * *
Louis-Philippe d'Orléans leaned back in the seat as his car left the winding cobblestone streets of Deauville and started inland towards the Reynaud château.
Elizabeth Myers. She was beautiful. As beautiful as any woman he'd known. And she was actually interested in him. Not his family or his titles, but him. He had enjoyed the drive from Paris to Deauville, because of her. He had enjoyed the evening at the casino, again because of her.
"I have been so bored!" he yelped. Why hadn't he realised it before? Boredom was the perfect word with which to define what his life had become. He had always done what was expected of him. He was the heir to the Throne of France, and that reality defined not only who he was but what he did. He had been bored his whole life since he could remember - until yesterday when Elizabeth Myers stepped onto French soil and into his heart.
His heart? Him in love? Non! Impossible!
He could not imagine not having her with him - beside him - however. Her smile. The sound of her laughter. The twinkle of her eyes as she smiled.
Mais oui. Impossible but true. He had seen the symptoms of this particular malady of the heart many times. Enough of his friends at university had fallen in love. He chuckled. It didn't matter. He felt too good to be concerned.
Besides, it was probably but a momentary infatuation - une affaire du coeur. He had not had one before, but-
Elizabeth was beautiful. She deserved men kneeling before her, worshipping her beauty. It was her due. Her legs! Her figure! Her face! And her mind most of all.
D'Orléans had never understood how the ancient Greeks could have gone to war against Troy simply because of their Helen. He had not, before he met Elizabeth Myers. But this young British gentlewoman could most certainly launch a thousand ships. He imagined that he would die happy if he could but touch her pale, perfect skin. Or be allowed to kiss her smiling lips.
He had to know more about her.
He had talked about himself so much yesterday that she must think him a conceited fool. He had learnt practically nothing about her.
He wondered what her pleasures were. Did she cook? Knit perhaps? Sit around with the other women and gossip about others of their sort? All of those things his mother and the ladies who attended her did? Or did she enjoy doing things in mixed company?
Of course she did. She was perfect.
She probably was a fair horsewoman - he'd heard that the English nobility taught their children how to ride before they could even walk properly. She was also here with Baron Petersholme and the American, wasn't she? And she had enjoyed herself at the cabaret. And at the tables-? D'Orléans rolled his eyes. He could not believe last night was the first time she had played cards. She had won more than 200 francs at la bocha.
There had been the hint of an interest in politics last night. And history as well. He could not remember a single woman - not even his mother - who understood such things. But, perhaps, Elizabeth Myers did.
He sat up then, a scowl quickly darkening his face. He had gone on and on about himself. He had ignored the American completely and, nearly so, the English Baron as well. How embarrassing!
Elizabeth had held him so enthralled. He had been unable to think of the Baron or the American. It had seemed so important to have her attention. To hold it, as she did his.
He resolved to rectify immediately his neglect of both the American and the Englishman. The scowl eased quickly into the lines of a smile. He could absolve himself of his social gaffes yesterday and still learn more about Elizabeth Myers. At the same time. All he would have to do was pay attention to the two men, listen to them - and keep their attention and the conversation on Elizabeth.
How absolutely Machiavellian! It was perfect.
What was the red-haired American's name again? Alexander. Yes, Barry Alexander. He was young, and he seemed - well - perhaps in awe of the Baron. As if he might be naïve.
D'Orléans grinned broadly as his car pulled onto the drive leading up the château. Yes, he would definitely make Monsieur Alexander feel welcomed to France. And learn everything that he could about la belle Elizabeth Myers from him.
* * *
Barry Alexander stood at the French windows of the solarium, gazing out over the snow-covered gardens of the Reynaud château. He wondered if he could possibly get Robbie outside for a snowball fight, maybe he and Elizabeth could gang up on the man - or maybe d'Orléans would even join in.
He wondered if the Frenchman even knew what fun was about; he was a Prince after all. He'd sure been all business at the airport - before he fell all over himself for Elizabeth. He grinned at that thought.
Barry jumped. His heart still pounding, he turned to face Louis-Philippe d'Orléans.
"Please forgive me for startling you," the Frenchman said as he stepped closer. "I should have made a loud noise to announce myself." A smile tugged at his lips. "I also must apologise for neglecting you yesterday, Monsieur Alexander-" The smile widened as he shrugged. "I was far more pre-occupied by Mademoiselle Elizabeth Myers than I realised."
Barry grinned. "She's a very attractive woman, sir - and just as intelligent as she is good looking. She's a student at university in London with me."
"University?" d'Orléans asked as he sat facing the American.
"Yes, sir. At the London School of Economics."
D'Orléans was surprised that Elizabeth was a student. He could think of no woman in his circle who had done more than go to finishing school before they married. The women he knew in Larache or among the chic salon nobility of Paris had no interest in an education. He thought even more highly of Elizabeth Myers than he had before.
He looked up to find Barry's gaze on him. "Yes?"
"What should I call you? You've got to remember that we don't have Lords and Comtes and Kings and Dauphins in the States, and I don't want to insult you because I don't know how to address you properly."
D'Orléans laughed. "You do quite well, Monsieur Alexander - for a republican."
Barry's face paled. "I may not have voted in an election yet, sir; but I'll never be a damned Republican-"
The Frenchman looked surprised for the moment that it took him to remember the principal parties on the American political stage. "I owe you an apology, Monsieur Alexander," he said quickly. "I meant to connect you with the political system of your country, not with one of your political parties."
"It was my mistake, sir," Barry said and smiled sheepishly. "I've got to remember that the same word doesn't always mean the same thing in another country."
"And, at university, you are studying diplomacy, yes?" d'Orléans asked quickly. "You will be a credit to the people of America, Monsieur Alexander, when you are at your Department of State."
Barry felt blood rushing across his face, flushing it, and into his hair. "You got me, sir," he mumbled.
D'Orléans studied him for a moment as he watched the American blush. "I got you?" he asked slowly. "It is an idiom, yes?"
"Yes, sir." Barry moved to a chair near d'Orléans'. "May I sit with you?" he asked. The Frenchman nodded and Barry pulled the chair closer. "What it means is that you guessed something about me that isn't common knowledge. Your guess embarrassed me."
"I see. And you are then studying the art of diplomacy?"
Barry nodded. "Yeah - I mean, yes, sir - along with economics."
"Please, Monsieur Alexander, we do not need to be formal. You may call me Philippe when we are alone-" He smiled quickly back at the American. "And use only the occasional 'sir' when there are Frenchmen around who may overhear us."
"Call me Barry, Philippe." He extended his hand and d'Orléans took it. "At least, you aren't some old stuffed shirt," he mumbled as he retrieved his hand a moment later.
"We're friends, right?"
"Of course, Barry, we are friends - you and I. How does this-?"
"It doesn't really. I just meant that you are a really nice guy. If Elizabeth Myers had to fall for some guy, I'm glad it was you."
"Elizabeth?" D'Orléans looked around the solarium, as if he would find some obvious connection in the room.
"How do you feel about her, Philippe - really feel, I mean?"
The Frenchman sat back in his chair, his eyes nearly closing as he thought of how to answer Barry's question. "I am intrigued by her - attracted to her even. Her beauty and her intellect appeal to me. I admit to having been captured by Mademoiselle Myers-" He smiled. "And I suspect that I have fallen a little in love with her."
"Love is like being pregnant in one way," Barry told him softly, "there's no such thing as 'being a little in love', any more than there is 'being a little pregnant'."
D'Orléan's eyes widened and his smile spread across his face. "Très bien, Monsieur Alexander! It is certainly the truth! Love is an absolute thing that possesses you completely."
Barry laughed then. "And you've got it bad too, don't you?"
The Frenchman chuckled, scrunching deeper into his chair. "I suppose that I have."
Barry looked back out past the French windows. "It's beautiful out there. Back in New York, people our age would go on sleigh-rides when they got together at times like this."
"A sleigh-ride?" D'Orléans sat up and stepped quickly to the window. "Absolument! Oui!" He looked from the snow-covered garden to Barry. "Will you and the Baron - and Mademoiselle Elizabeth - join me in a sleigh-ride as I show you the Minister's estate?"
Barry chuckled and turned towards the corridor. "You round up the sleigh and horse, sir - I'll get the others."
"Round up?" d'Orléans mumbled to himself as he watched the American pass through the doorway.
Barry glanced from the sleigh to d'Orléans and back again. Robbie decided to stay curled up in front of the fire with Agatha Christie's latest thriller. The Frenchman's attention was totally centred on Elizabeth. From the looks of things, Barry figured they could forgo the sleigh ride and neither of his companions would even know it.
He sighed. At least the horse looked firmly attached to the sleigh. "I'll drive," he offered brightly and climbed into the driver's seat and looked out over the horse's back. I am not going to spy on them, he told himself resolutely. Driving them around is the closest that I'll get. D'Orléans helped Elizabeth up onto the seat and followed her.
Moments of silence followed and threatened to become even longer. Barry couldn't resist his curiosity any longer. He was just sitting there. They all were. He turned to look over his shoulder.
The Frenchman had placed a lap rug over their legs. He sat beside Elizabeth and held both of her hands in his. He seemed to have become lost in her eyes as she had in his.
Barry jerked his head back around and flipped the reins against the horse's back. "Right," he mumbled as they began to move.
* * *
Müller allowed himself to relax slightly as he entered the compartment he and Crooksall were to share and leaned back against the door. They would be alone, and he could begin to ensure that his mission would be carried out smoothly.
"How much do you know about my mission here, Crooksall?" he asked the Englishman in German as their train began to make its way out of London.
"Very little, Herr Hauptscharführer," the Englishman answered. "I will be told that I was to make myself available to you in every way." Crooksall's brows knotted. "I mean that I was told that."
Müller cringed at the Englishman's inability to use the correct verb tense; it was a slaughter of the Herrensprache. "And this you will do?"
"Of course. I am yours to command, Herr Hauptscharführer."
"Good. Our orders are the same then. Firstly, when we reach this Coventry of yours you will secure motor cars and a route that will take me to the Channel coast."
"Cars? A route, Herr Hauptscharführer?" Crooksall was wide-eyed as he stared at him.
Müller almost allowed himself to worry. He took a deep breath and snorted. "A route, Crooksall. Berlin thinks that I should not remain in England after I am finished, and I tend to agree."
Crooksall sat up and pulled a notepad from the pocket of his coat. He began to search for a pen.
"I hope you have the brains to memorise what I will tell you, Crooksall. Writing notes to yourself can cause us unnecessary problems - and I do not want to hang because you lack intelligence."
Crooksall flushed and hastily put away the notepad. "Of course, Herr Hauptscharführer. I wasn't thinking-"
"Don't think. Just do," Müller said, his voice softening slightly. "Listen to your orders and carry them out; do not try to improve on them. If we all do exactly that, the new order will be established smoothly in the world."
Crooksall nodded, his face still flushed with his embarrassment; and Müller continued: "You need to have a car waiting for me every one fifty kilometres along the route to the Channel. The route should avoid cities with substantial police forces - country lanes are best for my purposes. I'll also need a motor launch waiting for me at the Channel. Can your comrades be trusted to set this up without mishap?"
The Englishman's face was a study of concentration as he mentally repeated to himself Müller's instructions. The Hauptscharführer almost laughed at how like a young schoolboy the pudgy Englishman before him looked.
Instead, he kept his face stern and continued. "I shall have a child with me as we cross England. He could well not be happy to leave those who have him now. At any rate, however, these drivers will need to be prepared for the child's presence. And they will need to know, as you already do, that my instruction is final."
Crooksall nodded. "When will you need our people to be in place, Herr Hauptscharführer?"
"This is Tuesday morning. The U-boat will be in the Channel above Dover at 2400 Friday night and remain there until first light." He looked at the Englishman. "Can we cross this island in one night by car?" he asked.
"You'll want to take backroads-?"
"And you'll want to stay hidden during the day?" Again, the German nodded. "We can get you perhaps three-quarters of the way to the Channel - say - Thursday night and the rest of the way before midnight that Friday - what day do you take the boy?"
"That is for me to decide, Crooksall - after I know the circumstances of my escape. Can you have the route in place by tomorrow?"
The Englishman nodded.
"Then we will take the child, as well as execute the traitor that night."
"Wednesday then." Crooksall sat back on his seat and mulled over their conversation. "That will work, Herr Hauptscharführer," he said finally.
"Yes. Tonight, I'll drive you out to Bellingham village and turn you over to our man there, David Rice the blacksmith. I will have to be back in Coventry that night and the next day-"
Crooksall looked up sharply. "I'm in partnership with my father, Herr Hauptscharführer. We have three funerals tomorrow - and I have to prepare two of those bodies tonight."
Müller cringed. A Leichenbestatter? He was sure that he could feel icy fingers touching his heart. He forced the revulsion he felt away. And began to wonder just how cold-blooded this English undertaker was.
"David Rice speaks no German, Herr Hauptscharführer; you will have to remember that he is a simple man - a village smith." He smiled, spreading his hands. "I'll return Wednesday evening and will help you carry through your mission."