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The plot thickens back in East Prussia. The Jewish scientists are led to the aeroplane but von Kys wants to say goodbye to his Dagold. Unfortunately, nasty things start to happen as the two become involved in the stables. Oh, yeah! There are the sounds of sex as Petersholme arrives at the stables.
Enjoy -- Dave MacMillan
I moved from one cluster of guests to the next, chatting with them and working my way towards the two Jews who stood alone, watching their team-mates warily. I'd reckoned that von Kys' story would be helped if I appeared a bit bumbling. I wanted to leave Janus' guests a sense of me being friendly but a bit dense. These men would be questioned, quite probably extensively. I hoped that occurred after I was well out of their country.
"Gentlemen," I greeted the two Jewish scientists as I came upon them. "Congratulations on your success today." They both managed to be pleasantly gregarious -- better, I thought, than I could act in their stead. We chatted another moment about the wonderful autumn weather, and I was able to see the strain they were operating under more clearly.
"After dinner," I told them, dropping my voice so that it did not carry, "please watch me. I shall leave the table and step out into the hall. You both need to follow me at that time." They nodded. "Do you have heavy coats?"
"They are in the hall cupboard," one of them answered.
"Make sure you retrieve them before we enter the kitchen."
"And what shall we be doing, Herr Baron, after we follow you from the dining room?" the other man asked suspiciously.
I smiled. "Getting you out of the house and on the first leg of your escape from Germany. Your families are in Poland waiting for you."
I fought to hide my grin as both men showed their relief. "I heard that commotion in the Graf's hall earlier," the suspicious one mumbled.
"That was the Gauleiter wanting to take you both now."
He nodded. "We knew then that we had run out of time."
"Apparently the exemptions were removed this morning," I offered, repeating Janus' comment to me.
"I knew Graf von Kys would help us," the other added.
"I could hope he would, yes," the first scientist mumbled, looking down at the floor. "But one should never depend on another for his salvation."
I thought both men were becoming maudlin. "Be careful. Stay alert. Don't give anything away," I told them and moved towards von Kys who at that moment was standing alone, observing the room.
"Does your Corporal Jorsten know he's leaving yet, von Kys?" I asked quietly as I reached him.
He frowned but immediately made his face into another smile. It would have taken someone who knew him well to realise that it was forced. "I've not told him yet," he answered as quietly. "I have also not yet told him about his brother."
"Shall we knock him unconscious and carry him to the plane then?" I asked in exasperation. "Or escort him there at the point of a gun?"
He chuckled. "No. After everyone's left, I'll get him alone. I'll tell him then."
"And if your friend the Gauleiter returns while you're having this discussion?"
"I made it quite clear there in the hall that he was not to return to the Schloß."
I was uncomfortable with his answer. It had already been shown to me that this was not England where minor functionaries knew their place and behaved civilly. I quite suspected the Gauleiter and his two Gestapo agents would return once they knew none of the cars held the Jewish scientists. I would prefer that they did not find me trying to fly those same Jews out of Germany -- with or without Corporal Jorsten on board. I had seen enough of the new Germany that I did not for a minute believe being a British subject would keep me from being shot here.
"Von Kys, we are going to need to get on our way as quickly as we can. Forbidden or not, those lads are quite likely to return -- and be quite resistant to leaving without their scientists."
"Then we kill them," he mumbled. Calmly. Indifferently, I felt. "Alexis is quite competent at protecting me here." He turned to face me. "I shall tell Dagi and prepare him to leave with you -- but in my own way." He looked around to see if anyone was paying attention to us. "Just get the Jews to Alexis, Petersholme. And wait at the stables for Dagi. He should be ready by eleven."
I stared in shock after von Kys as he walked away from me. He joined two of his scientists, listened for a moment, and laughed at whatever had been said. My concerns had already been forgotten -- or were being ignored. I wanted nothing more than to get through this damned night and have it behind me.
* * *
"I'll leave you gentlemen to enjoy your success," I told the assembled table as the cook and another servant began to remove dirty dishes. "Herr Graf von Kys, thank you for inviting me to meet your team."
"Enjoy your Christie crime novel, Petersholme," Janus called to me from the far end of the table as I arose. "We'll finish selling you those cows tomorrow." He turned to the others. "Perhaps, you would care to join me for a brandy before we end our celebration?"
I left the room quickly but, instead of ascending the stairs to my room, I returned to the dark space under the stairs between the hall and kitchen. And awaited two of the four men I was to fly out of the country. I didn't wait long.
Both Jews broke from the others. "Coats," I reminded them when they neared me.
I led them through the kitchen and realised just how dependent they and I were on the two women now cleaning dishes. They were both von Kys' retainers, of course. Old retainers who had been loyal to my friend since his childhood.
I had not been aware of them earlier when I had taken this same path to the outbuildings. But, now, my every sense was heightened and I saw them as eyes, ears, and mouths watching and hearing us as we began to make our escape. They could be silent or they could be informants to the Gestapo. Just one word before I had us airborne would mean a deuced fix for me and instant death for my companions.
Von Kys trusted the people still on his holding. But he had proved not to be always the most observant chap. I accepted that I had to trust them too -- but only until I could ask Kolawaski about them.
The Pole was waiting for us inside the first outbuilding. Both Jews hugged him and thanked him for getting their families safely out of the country. I didn't give them any more time to reminisce with the agent. "What about the kitchen help, Kolawaski? Can those two women be trusted?"
"They're good people. Why do you ask, Herr Baron?"
"They saw the three of us leaving. One wrong word..."
"They would quickly break under interrogation, I suppose. But von Kys' people won't offer information to the Gestapo. They are country people and keep their thoughts to themselves."
I nodded, accepting his assessment. "Young Dagold doesn't know he's leaving the service of the Fatherland yet."
"Mother of God!" he growled. "Why?"
"It would seem that von Kys wants to tell him privately." I went to the small window and looked back at the house. "How do we do this, Kolawaski?"
"I would have thought the best plan would have us getting out of here before those Gestapo lads return. Airborne, there's little they can do to us." My hand became a fist and I slammed it into the wall in the frustration spreading over me. "Now, we're sitting here like ducks caught between two blinds -- just waiting for the first shot to be fired."
I looked down at my hand. It throbbed with pain.
"It's von Kys' show, Herr Baron. I will get these two to the aeroplane and come back. We wait until the Graf releases his corporal." He buttoned his coat and opened the door to peer outside. "Do you have a revolver, Herr Baron?"
I thought of the one von Kys had given me and tried to remember where I'd left it. "No," I answered, ashamed of myself.
"This is a good German Luger," he said as he pulled the machine pistol from his coat and handed it to me, "and it is loaded." He took my finger and moved it along the left side of the revolver, just above and behind the trigger guard. "That is the safety. It is now off." He chuckled. "Please try to wait until someone is no more than twenty metres from you before you fire at them."
I watched the three men disappear into the darkness and, only after I could no longer see them, remembered I had no idea how long Kolawaski would be gone. Or where von Kys' aeroplane was. My heart sank and I took a step towards the door, meaning to follow them and catch up with them.
"Come, Dagi," I heard Janus' voice call softly from near my building. Further away, I heard boots crunch against frozen grass.
"What is it that you cannot tell me inside, Jani?" the youth complained. "In a warm bed? It is already cold out here."
"Come with me to the stables. I'll tell you everything there."
I watched von Kys put his arm around the younger man's shoulder and begin to lead him towards the last of the outbuildings. Jorsten snuggled against him. "The stables?" He chuckled in the clear, frosty night. "Why not? It is always pleasant when I am with you."
I stepped out of the building and began to follow quietly after them.
Von Kys pulled the boy into the shadows of the next outbuilding and to himself, enveloping him in his arms. They kissed and, in moments, the corporal had begun to grind himself against his mentor.
I thought of young Barry as I watched them. Remembering the feel of him against me, the beginnings of passion as it possessed him and how he showed it. I told myself that I would soon be back with him now. I could forget the growing blackness that had been these weeks in Germany once I was again within his arms.
"Come," said Jorsten hoarsely as he broke the kiss. "I want you, Jani." Holding hands, the two men moved into the stables.
I wondered how von Kys could even think of passion at this moment. He was involved in getting two Jews away from Germany, and he was going to send this boy who was his lover away. If either fact were to become known, he knew his life was forfeit. But, as I watched them step to the stables and the sexual release that awaited them inside, my old friend was as free and uninhibited as any young and randy lad.
I approached the stables hesitantly. I had no intention of being a voyeur; their lovemaking was theirs alone in my mind. Von Kys, however, had instructed me to wait for Jorsten at the stables, not one of the other buildings. I wanted to be done with this night. To have von Kys' young man -- all of us -- in the damned aeroplane and climbing towards our freedom. I was more than ready to be free of the oppressiveness that Germany had become for me.
I decided on the shadows at the near side of the stables as a hiding place. There, I would not be privy to their assignation; yet, I would be close by when von Kys was ready to release the boy to me so that we could be on our way.
* * *
There was movement in the shadows that closed off much of the barn across from me as Jorsten groaned softly from within the stables. Moving quietly away from the stables but staying within its shadow, I searched the moon-drenched square for anything that could have made the movement I'd seen, as I sought to define exactly what I had seen.
I heard a motor gunning its way up the drive towards the Schloß Kys then. I pulled the pistol from my coat pocket. I quickly made out that there were two motors and recognised that they were muffled which meant they were cars instead of motorcycles. I glanced at the stables to reassure myself in some illogical way that von Kys was still inside. As he was inside, it was obvious that he was not expecting company. Fear crashed over me as I accepted that the Gauleiter and his associates from the Gestapo had returned.
A hand grasped my shoulder and my heart stopped beating as I whipped around.
"Ssshhh!" Kolawaski cautioned me.
I stared at him as I attempted to swallow my heart.
"There are two cars coming up from the road, Herr Baron," he told me as if I were a fully alive, coherent human. "One is the Graf von Kys' personal car -- the one his wife uses in Berlin -- the other belongs to the two Gestapo thugs."
"How do you know that?" I managed.
Kolawaski chuckled. "Fortunately, the drive up to the Schloß is a long and winding one. I saw them turn off the main roadway and came back quickly."
"By horse, Herr Baron."
I felt like a fool. I should have heard this man and the two scientists leave by horseback. I should have heard a horse arrive amongst the outbuildings. I prayed my being a fool was not an immediate precursor of my death.
"They are at the aeroplane."
"Von Kys and the boy are in the stables," I told him, giving up any pretense of having responsibility in this affair. I wanted to set foot in Poland alive. And quickly.
"They are..." He paused to study me for a moment. "They are doing it?"
"You know about that too?"
"Of course, knowing his sexual preference is for men has helped me to gain his co-operation. It was my idea that he look out for you in Berlin -- and to bring you back here to help us get these people out."
My mind reeled. I had been exposed from the beginning. Suddenly, I remembered the Gräfin and her Gestapo cohorts. "We're going to have to get out of here now, Kolawaski," I told him.
He snorted. "By the time the young corporal can have his trousers buttoned, we shall have the Gestapo at the doors."
"So what do we do then?" I gulped.
"I think we should secret ourselves inside the stables. Allow the Graf to handle matters if he can."
"And if he can't?"
"We kill them and leave very quickly."
"How many of them?" I asked without cringing at the thought of killing someone.
"I would say only the Gauleiter and his two Gestapo agents in the one car. In the other, only the Gräfin and her driver."
"Four men and von Kys' wife then. How far away would anyone be that could come to their aid?"
He grinned. "You mean how far away from the farm is anyone who could prevent us from escaping?"
"If one of these people called them? Yes."
"The Waffen-SS garrison at Peenemünde. Twenty to thirty minutes by road. We shall be aloft, don't worry."
Kolawaski opened the small door into the stables slowly. It squeaked but not loudly. I stepped inside first and reckoned our entry had not been heard, not with the noise the two lovers were making. The Pole pushed me further into the building and joined me, pulling the door back almost closed. He pointed to a stall and indicated I should hide in it. He remained at the door, peering out through the small opening.
With a will of their own, my eyes looked down the central corridor to where a lantern illuminated a naked man between another naked man's legs. I did not think of Barry. I simply wished that von Kys had had a more accurate perception of what the Gauleiter would do. And that he had not been quite so greedy as to want his lover one last time before sending him away to safety.