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Authors: Murray Pura

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“I don’t, Lady Preston. To me it is a false distinction. You cannot have a Christian faith that is all in your head or all in your intellect. That is meaningless. It must be lived out in your actions. By the same token, a body without a head is a monstrosity—your actions must be guided by your thoughts and prayers and beliefs. So there is only the one thing, orthodoxy. And orthodoxy is right belief. And right belief is lived-out and thought-out faith in Christ.”

“Is it the wine or is my head spinning?” Lady Preston asked.

The baron smiled. “Perhaps we should remain at the breakfast table tomorrow morning and have our message here. I vote for a passage from the Gospel of Mark.”

Albrecht shook his head. “I’ve gone too far. Forgive me. I return my lecture notes to my briefcase. Let us have our coffee and dessert in peace.”

Peaceful silence permeated the room as everyone sat back in comfort.

“And here is our dessert now,” Lord Preston announced.

“Really, Vilhelm!” protested the baron. “I am stuffed, as you English say.”

“Pass on it if you wish. Mrs. Longstaff swears it’s a traditional recipe from southwestern Germany.”

Sally carried in a large cake on a tray and set it in the middle of the table. It was covered in whipped cream and cherries. Both Albrecht and the baron looked at it in astonishment, their mouths open but no words coming out.

Finally the baron sputtered, “Black Forest cake! Surely not with the cherry liquor
Kirschwasser
?”

“She swears it’s traditional, Gerard.”

“There is one way to find out!” Albrecht held out his side plate. “May I have a generous piece, Sally?”

“Of course, sir.”

“I think Sean will have a wonderful time with this German delicacy, Lady Catherine.”

Catherine bit her lip. “I hate to give him any, Professor Hartmann. He will just waste it. It will be all over his eyes and ears and mouth. And all through my hair.”

“Believe me, Lady Catherine, that is not wasting it.”

“You raised a few eyebrows with that remark,” Catherine commented.

Albrecht was leaning on the railing of the front veranda and looking out over the fields barely discernible in the dark. He stood up straight as Catherine approached. “What remark was that?”

“About Black Forest cake in my hair.”

“Well, it was true, although I did not mean to start a rumor with it.”

Catherine put her hand on one of the thick, white posts. “Never mind…I’m just teasing. Gallant remarks seem to pop out of you naturally.”

“Do they? That makes me sound insincere.”

“No, I think you’re very sincere. I guess it’s a gift you have.”

Albrecht went back to leaning on the railing. “Is your son asleep?”

“Yes.”

“Are you…would you…take a stroll with me along the drive?”

“Perhaps not.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“I love hearing your table talk, Albrecht. And I enjoyed our walk across the estate this afternoon. But I…well, I want to slow down a bit. I feel like my head is spinning, and I didn’t have a drop of wine.”

“I see.” He laughed. “You’re right, of course. I go too fast. Like a racing car driver.” He cleared his throat. “I apologize. It is because the
baron informed me a few minutes ago we would be leaving immediately after lunch Sunday.”

“I thought you’d be with us until after breakfast Monday morning.”

“So did I. Something’s up in Munich, and both of us need to be there as soon as possible.”

“But you teach at Tubingen.”

“Yes, but there is no more teaching until the fall. This has nothing to do with being a professor of Protestant theology.” A smile came to his face in the dark. “By the way, I caught that
Professor Hartmann
title you used at the table.” He wagged his finger. “Never again.”

“You called me Lady Catherine.”

“We agreed on that.”

“I like calling you professor.”

“Do you?”

“I do, yes.” She gazed over the fields just as he was doing. “I should not say I wish you were staying on. After all, I haven’t known you but twelve hours. It’s madness. But there you have it. I wish you were with us till Monday or Tuesday. It’s like a huge roller has washed over me. I’m a bit stunned, I think. I suppose you’d better go. I need to sleep on what I’ve been feeling. Maybe I’ll feel nothing after a few nights’ sleep…or maybe I’ll feel more of everything.”

He didn’t respond for several minutes. “Do you wonder why we must up and go just like that?”

“Of course I wonder. But it’s really none of my business, is it?” She glanced at him. “It’s a very hard life in Germany right now, I think.”

Albrecht shrugged. “We see improvement every month. Inflation is on the decrease; employment is on the rise.”

“Well then, that’s good.”

“So it seems. But that is why we must return. Foolish decisions are made in times of change, especially change for the good. There is a man who was imprisoned for trying to seize control of the government a year ago when times were much worse. Now that matters have improved, some of us are worried he will be released early. He is like a stick of dynamite rolling around that no one can quite get his hands on to throw away. Yet the wick is beginning to smoke.” Albrecht’s lips were
in a straight line. “As it is, he is afforded special treatment in prison. It’s almost as if he is on holiday at the castle prison in Munich.”

“Who is this man? Are you worried he has a following?”

“His name is Adolph Hitler. He has a following, certainly. I am worried that he seems to be able to appeal to a broad spectrum of the German people. The man is a revolutionary when Germany doesn’t need a revolutionary. We need peace and stability and growth. So we are working against him, Catherine, even though others say he is nothing and that the uproar he caused is over.”

“Who is this
we
?”

“There are a number of us. We call ourselves ‘The Brotherhood of the Oak,’
die Bruderschaft der Eiche
. The oak is one of Germany’s national emblems. You English use the oak as well.” His eyes looked impossibly deep to her when he looked up. “I tell you this in secret, Catherine. Please do not share what I have told you. I’m not sure why I’ve spoken about it. Am I trying to impress you? I hope not. Perhaps I wonder if you might understand. You seem like a woman who would understand and come alongside people in a time of struggle.”

Catherine felt heat in her face. “Albrecht, I—”

“Lady Catherine, excuse me.”

“Yes?” Catherine turned away from Albrecht and faced Norah. “What is it?”

“Young Master Sean is awake and crying for you. We’re having difficulty settling him.”

“I see. Thank you, Norah. I’ll be right there.”

Norah went back into the house.

Once Norah had gone, Catherine put her hand briefly on Albrecht’s arm. “I would like you to tell me more about this. May we speak alone after breakfast before we drive into Dover for church?”

“Of course!” He gave her a smile. “I hope Sean is all right.”

“I’m sure it was just a bad dream. Thank you for asking. Ta, Albrecht.”


Auf Wiedersehen
.”

“Good morning, Papa.”

Lord Preston put down his newspaper. “Ah, there you are, Catherine. How did you and Sean sleep?”

“Not well at all. Sean is still in his crib. Where’s Mum and our guests?”

“Your mother is under the weather. It’ll just be you and me heading to St. Mary’s this morning. And Mrs. Longstaff.” He picked up a bell by his elbow and rang it. “Sally will bring you some coffee and scones.”

“But the baron was to be joining us. And Professor Hartmann…”

“Yes. They had to leave earlier than expected. Urgent business in Munich. You know how Germany is these days, my dear.”

“I see.” Catherine sat down at the breakfast table that was in an alcove off the dining hall. Rain tapped against the tall windows. “Is there any chance we’ll see the pair of them again this summer?”

Lord Preston had his newspaper up to his face again. “Mmm? This summer? I wouldn’t think so. Next summer is a good possibility however. Would you like that? Did you enjoy the baron’s company?”

“W—was there a note left…or anything?”

“A note? Why on earth would the baron leave a note? The telegram came for them at four this morning, and I saw them off at four-thirty. Ah, here’s Sally with your coffee, scones, and jam.”

June

Berlin, Germany

“I expected you two much earlier.”

“We were in England. I met with the man in Westminster you asked me to contact. And I recruited Lord Preston. This was as quickly as we could reach Landsberg Castle by car and rail.”

“You’re here now. Let’s get down to business.”

Baron von Isenburg, Albrecht Hartmann, and a third man were seated in the baron’s Mercedes. A half mile ahead of them the turrets of a castle poked through a dense growth of trees.

“It seems impossible to keep Hitler in Landsberg Castle the full five
years,” the third man began, eyeing the battlements. “He has too many well-wishers. We have worked through the channels available to us to insist he serve out his full term. It’s no use. He will be released before the end of the year, perhaps as early as this fall, though we are fighting that.”

“Their argument?” asked the baron.

“Oh, you know. The Germany of 1924 is a different Germany from the Germany of ’22 or ’23. Berlin is getting a grip on inflation, the workforce is increasing, wages are improving—all of that. So Hitler will not have the base to draw from anymore; therefore, he does not need to be in detention. Apparently he will renounce violence and his former political beliefs.”

“He won’t change!” responded Albrecht.

“Of course not. But that is what officials want to believe, and he is only too happy to appear to give them what they want.” The man pulled a large envelope from a briefcase at his feet. “We should not stay here much longer. Take this. One of our men inside the castle was able to get his hands on drafts of the book Hitler is writing. He made copies. It will be published in 1925.”

The baron examined the envelope. “You have read his manuscript?”

BOOK: Beneath the Dover Sky
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