Thank you for coming back to read yet another episode of FLIGHT AT PEENEMÜNDE. That's a real vote of confidence.
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We leave Barry basking in the glow of success and return to Petersholme in East Prussia. His Lordship finds himself easily being wrapped around a small, 5 yo finger.
Now, with matters fairly well in hand in London, the emphasis swings back to the thriller theme in Germany, and most of the rest of the story will be centred in East Prussia.
The copyright to FLIGHT belongs to me. It cannot be reprinted in any medium without my express permission. If you're under 16-18 yos, you shouldn't be reading stories from the Nifty archives -- however, this story will not lead you into orgasmic prurience (mum and dad can read it over your shoulder, in other words). If you enjoy reading stories being stored at Nifty and are desirous that they are free, donate a couple of bucks to Nifty so that those stories will continue being free to you.
Young Wilhelm von Kys took me in hand and led me to the stables so that we could ride the German moors. He led me to the farthest outbuilding behind the Schloß and, still holding my hand, marched me to the end stall. A handsome bay mare whickered softly at the child's approach. "This will be our horse this afternoon, Herr Baron," he told me as he stooped to peek under the gate and held out a carrot. She lipped it from his hand. "Walküre is almost Vati's favourite."
"Almost his favourite?"
Willi looked at me. "Vati has his own horse which he rides -- unless I am with him. When we ride together, we ride Walküre -- or if I ride with Nurse." He lowered his voice slightly. "That is because Walküre knows the importance of being well-behaved when she has her master's son on her back."
I nodded. "Of course, we shall ride the knowledgeable Walküre then, young Willi."
The boy showed me which tack was Walküre's. The mare moved aside as I entered her stall and stood quietly as I saddled her. She didn't even try to swell up when I tightened the girth. I slipped the bit into her mouth and pulled the headstall over her ears. She remained pliant and I had to admit this was the perfect horse to ride with a young boy.
"Where shall we ride?" I asked as Willi and I led Walküre into the open. The mare stood like a rock as I swung up. I cleared the stirrup and gave Willi a hand up. I had placed him on the mare's front haunches before he answered me.
He leant back against my chest and grinned up at me. "We go often out to the potato field before the marshes, Herr Baron. Nurse's young man works there."
"Your nurse's young man?" I asked in surprise. The young woman I had seen several times already hovering near this lad had appeared to be constantly reminded of something unpleasant that she had eaten. Her pinched face made it difficult for me to think of her in an amorous situation.
The boy's grin widened. "If he is alone, Nurse stops. He gives me a sweet if I go play across the field."
I understood. I almost laughed. Some Prussian peasant had a remarkably successful way of making things work for him -- quietly and effectively.
We rode slowly along tracks laid down over centuries by horse-drawn vehicles. The boy pointed out what had grown during the summer in this field and that as we passed. I realised how flat the land was -- and how boringly the same, painted in the browns of late autumn, compared to the hills and forests of my estate in Northamptonshire. Von Kys felt the same way towards Schloß Kys that I did Bellingham Hall, and I found myself imagining him showing this young boy the beauty and peace he had always known when he was growing up here. It was far too easy to imagine this flaxen-headed tyke as my friend showed him what would be his. At that moment, I wanted my own fair-haired boy whom I could do the same with at Bellingham Hall.
I pulled myself away from the thoughts of the Hall and the estate that had overcome. I ruffled the child's hair. He glanced back up at me and smiled. "We're almost to the potato field where Alexander digs," he told me and wiggled about on the saddle. "Do you think he might give me a sweet, even though you aren't Nurse?"
We rounded a bend fronted on either side by brown pastures dotted with the black and white Freisan cattle I was supposed to be interested in. Ahead and to the right of the track was a tended field -- and a man pulling plants and forking potatoes from the sandy coastal soil. I watched as he shook the soil off each forkful, then dropped them into a large basket. It surprised me to see that he was the only one working, but the wagon beside him was already half-filled with full baskets.
He looked up as we approached and shielded his eyes to see us better. He doffed his hat and clicked his heels as we came closer. "Herr Graf!" he called, raising his arm in greeting, mistaking me for von Kys.
"Alexander!" Willi greeted him. "This is my new friend, Baron Peterholme from England."
I studied the farmhand who had won the heart of Willi's nurse as we approached him. I realised that he was studying me and that he had the most intelligent grey eyes. I shifted in the saddle, becoming unnerved before I knew it. I instantly reined in my unease and studied him for a moment. He was a burly man I would place at around thirty. He also had the appearance of a peasant oaf, until one looked into his eyes.
I told myself there was no reason this peasant could not be intelligent. After all, D. H. Lawrence had been a coal miner's son and was in the first generation of working class boys provided a free education. Lawrence was perhaps a bit too fixated on sexual matters and body components for my taste, but there was no doubt his writing was brilliant. The same genetic miracle could well have happened here in Prussia.
The man smiled calmly at me and returned to his forking.
"We should be getting back, Willi," I told the boy, feeling again unsettled. As we rode back to the manor I struggled to convince myself my edginess was but my reaction to something I had eaten at lunch.
* * *
I sat before von Kys, both of us in highback wooden chairs, beside the fire. Dinner had been served and it was grown late. I found myself relaxing in the warmth of the room and my thoughts beginning to turn to Britain and young Barry there waiting for my return.
"I assume, Petersholme, that you have wondered at the scarcity of servants in this house..."
I pulled my thoughts back to Prussia and this man who once was my friend but who now had bought into something I had difficulty accepting. "You mentioned it last night as we were driving." I smiled. "The reality of it struck me only this afternoon. I -- well, I thought that, perhaps, a German house might operate with a smaller staff."
Von Kys laughed. "If anything, my friend, we are more ostentatious than you are. No. Gisele was uncomfortable with many of my retainers. There were many mixed breed and genetic Poles." He shrugged. "They're no longer a part of Schloß Kys, Petersholme. I had to let them go from the house because of her and from the estate because of the Nürnberg racial laws of 1935. I helped them to enter Poland, of course."
"But, surely, there were others you could bring on?"
He pushed himself from his chair and stepped to the fireplace. Turning, he faced me, his hands behind his back. "I did not choose too -- although Gisele sought to bring on some of her girls from the Bund Deutscher Mädel. When she learnt that she wasn't the only von Kys with a backbone, she chose to stay in Berlin."
He smiled. "Like you, I suspect, I am an old-fashioned aristocrat, Petersholme. I want my people's loyalty first, before they give the state what is left. I did not want giggling, gossiping girls whose first loyalty was to Gisele and the party. I still have some secrets I do not want Berlin to know."
"So, you have brought on no-one?"
"This is a rural district, Petersholme. Once you add in the racial laws, I don't have many people to choose from. And even fewer for the house itself."
"These racial laws..." I paused remembering young Wilhelm's offer of German help to make Britain free of Jews. "You're an educated man, Janus. Must you teach your son to hate people he doesn't even know?"
"Ah, yes, the Jews." He slammed his fist into the stone of the wall and, holding it, stepped past our chairs and began to pace. "There are times that I almost agree with the Party that they are vermin -- they certainly can be worrisome. They gnaw at me even when I sleep, Petersholme," he told me over his shoulder. "Von Braun swears by the two who are on his team. I have myself seen their work on many occasions -- it is brilliant. Yet, I have Gisele and Himmler on my arse to rid myself of them."
"If you need them, that should be enough to keep them on..."
Von Kys stopped his pacing and gazed at me for several moments before breaking out laughing. "Petersholme, the Party intends to make Europe free of all Jews -- Judenrein. That means exterminating them like lice in the pubis of a soldier back in camp after a weekend with a whore. The Party has begun a big push for this -- leading normally intelligent people to become insane. The SS is gearing up to begin this programme of extermination. In a year -- two at most -- Jews in the heartland of Europe will begin to die like poisoned flies."
I stared at him, unable to think of a retort. All I could think of was that Germany was supposed to be a civilised and educated country. What had happened?
"Petersholme, I have two Jews on staff at Peenemünde who are helping Germany win a war that has yet to begin. But the country has already labelled them as inferior, on the level of lice and rats. How do I save them when von Braun has succeeded in giving us rockets that can hit the Urals?" He shrugged. "Or do they even merit being saved?"
"Will you protect them? Even against Party edits?"
"I am von Kys before I am anything else. They are my people and I am responsible to them as they are to me. But I can't save them alone." He began to pace again. "As soon as von Braun admits that he and the rest of his team can go it alone, they will be gone. Or as soon as someone close to Reichsführer Himmler gets off on vermin again and remembers Peenemünde at the same time." He stopped again and turned to face me. "Which they did last night. Gisele has such a one track brain when it comes to racial purity."
He sighed and turned to me. "I want those two men out of here, Petersholme. Safely. I don't care how close a shave that gives me. I can weather it -- and I owe them their lives and safety. I suspect that you are in a position to do so, my friend, so I ask you to get them out of here."
"I am not asking why you're in Germany. I assume nothing. You are my friend and are with me here because you want to buy milk cows. Himmler wants you to have a feel of the new Germany to carry back to England's warmongers. But, if you can, do it."
"You said Gisele's father has a title and is an industrialist? Where did she develop such hatred?"
"She mouths the party line. She doesn't have a brain in her head, they're all in her clitoris! I'll take care of her -- even if it kills her."
I decided to take my friend at his word -- and lay my life on the line by doing so. "How would I even know these scientists of yours?"
"I am having a small dinner party here tomorrow night -- if all goes well with the afternoon's experiment. You will meet them then. Get them out of Germany, Petersholme. Von Kys' honour demands I make it possible."
I pulled back, accepting his need and the commitments that went with it. "Where did young Willi learn to hate Jews so much?"
"His mother. As I said, she mouths the party line. He is a young parrot, and she has taught him well."
"Is she here often then? Around him?"
"No, but his nurse is under instruction to reinforce Gisele's teachings while ensuring that the boy looks up to me." He shrugged. "It is a game we play -- a deadly serious game. Gisele controls my future through her connections in the Reichskanzlerei and the party. I have accepted Wilhelm as my heir and, through science, am giving Germany one of the weapons that it will use to acquire the lebensraum the Führer says we need."
"Why don't you and the child simply leave, Janus?"
He continued to stand and gaze at me, as a lecturer with a very dull student. "Even if I could leave, Robbie, there is no place for me to go. Berlin would get to me if I did get out of the country -- and they would get to me through Willi. Besides, Germany is my country. Regardless of the government in power, von Kys belongs to the Fatherland."
"You're tired, Janus."
He snorted. "Yes, I am. So very tired. But, as your friend, I must make you understand the future as well." Concern spread across his face. "You must make your friends in Whitehall understand about the new Germany. Either that or, if Britain does stand in the way, we will squash you as we shall the Slavs."
"You are tired!" I grumbled, standing with my hands clenching into fists. "It's off to bed with you, old lad -- before you say something that even friendship cannot forgive."
He studied me. "I don't mean to insult, Petersholme. I love England almost as much as you do. I only want you to understand." He smiled tightly. "For yourself and for the report you will make to London."
Slowly I shrugged my acquiescence.
"We shall have occupied Poland within the year. The rest of what remains of Czechoslovakia will have become ours even sooner. Nothing can stop us. Neither the British nor the French have the armies in place that could. Pilsudski in Poland has not modernised his country's army -- it still marches to war instead of being driven there. There will be no Polish army left within a week of the invasion. Afterwards, we will then be in position to do what even Napoleon was unable to do -- take Russia, regardless of the elements.
"Britain has two choices: one is that which your Duke of Windsor apparently sees -- allow Germany to complete its duty once and for all to defend Europe by destroying the communist and Slavic threat. We shall be satisfied with that. We can live in peace with Britain -- two Germanic states with the world divided between them.
"Your other choice is to re-arm immediately and be defeated as any other enemy of the Reich will be. Our Luftwaffe will bomb our enemies' cites to rubble. Our mechanised Wehrmacht can be on any battlefront in Europe in ten days or less -- rested and ready to destroy the enemy. And the panzers of the Wehrmacht will break through any enemy line."
Von Kys began to pace again. "Look at the map of Europe, Petersholme. Study it closely. The English sea -- the Mediterranean -- the northern tier of it is already fascist. Spain and Italy are German allies. If France resists our penetration into the east, it faces a two-front war. If Britain resists, it faces a Europe quickly united against it."
Von Kys stopped pacing at the far end of the room and turned back to face me. "I don't want to see Britain destroyed, Robbie. There is so much that is good there." He shrugged. "After we have divided the world between us, we in the Reich shall need you to help us become a gentler people than we are now."
I studied Janus von Kys and saw the tightness of the skin around his eyes. Even how his eyes blazed. I knew he was far tireder than I had thought or he had admitted. I forced myself to accept his tirade to be a product of that tiredness affecting his mind. I smiled and stood. "I think we should go to bed, my friend."