I do not own any of the characters from the series Hogan's Heroes. However, I claim ownership of any original characters appearing in this story.
The last gleam of sunset cast a glow of amber warmth across the barbed wire, and the forest surrounding Stalag 13 was alive with the calls of little creatures preparing for night.
Within the boundaries of the camp, voices were raised as well. From Barracks 10, the sweet, well-rehearsed harmonies of Lieutenant Doyle's male voice ensemble floated in perfect unity of purpose, proof against the competition provided by Barracks 9, who were up to the seventh verse of The Good Ship Venus, completely unrehearsed but belted out with great enthusiasm. And in Barracks 2, the atmosphere was filled in equal measure by the rich aroma of an excellent vegetable tagine, and the voice of the cook singing as he worked.
Il est un homme en no' ville
qui de sa femme est jaloux.
Il n'est pas jaloux sans cause,
mais il est cocu du tout,
et la, la, la, je ne l'o, je ne l'o, je ne l'ose dire,
La, la, la, je le vous dirai.
"Haven't heard that one before, LeBeau," said Newkirk, who was lounging on his upper bunk, leaning on one elbow, cheating at solitaire. "Something new, is it?"
"My grandmother used to sing it," replied LeBeau. "It's years since I thought of it."
Kinch looked up from the coffee pot he was trying to repair; it was the one which normally sat on the desk in Colonel Hogan's quarters, the one which concealed the receiver for the bug in the Kommandant's office, and it had been out of order for several days. "It sounds pretty disreputable, for a grandmother," he observed.
LeBeau shrugged. "I had a pretty disreputable grandmother."
"Well, there's a surprise," murmured Newkirk.
The chef chuckled, and returned to his tagine, embarking on the second verse.
They were a musical bunch in Barracks 2; even Hogan, who didn't actually sing, had a good ear and a quite sophisticated understanding. So accustomed were they that at first nobody noticed LeBeau's performance was no longer a solo; it had gained a soft, wordless harmony. No, not just a harmony; as he reached the chorus, his accompanist slipped into perfect counterpoint. That got some attention, all right.
Hogan, who was sitting opposite Kinch waiting for a result, leaned back in his chair.
"Apparently someone else had a grandmother, too," he remarked casually.
All eyes turned to Carter, who was keeping watch at the barracks door. After a few seconds, he noticed how quiet it had gone, and turned around.
"I got two of them," he said. "That's the usual number, isn't it?"
"They aren't as disreputable as LeBeau's, by any chance?" asked Newkirk, leaning over the end of his bunk.
Carter gave the question some thought. "One of them's a Sunday school teacher," he offered doubtfully. "The other one used to write the home hints column for the local newspaper."
From the look on Newkirk's face, that wasn't a surprise, either.
"And which of those nice respectable ladies was responsible for acquainting her grandson with foreign ditties of a dubious nature?" he went on, with an air of mild curiosity.
"Well, neither of them, Newkirk," replied Carter, regarding him with pity. "They were singing it in Barracks 10 last night, that's where I heard it."
"You know, he's right," LeBeau put in. "You picked it up very well, if that was the first time you heard it, Carter."
"Wasn't that hard," said Carter with a shrug.
Newkirk's eyebrows went up. "Funny, I thought it was Barracks 9 did all the scandalous ones. Doyle's little lot usually sound like something Carter's grannies would approve of."
"Maybe they ran out of motets," murmured Kinch. "It's no good, Colonel, I'll have to rebuild it from scratch."
"How long will it take?" Hogan didn't look pleased.
"A day or so, if I can get the parts. That's going to be tricky, unless we can get into Hammelburg and borrow some from the Underground."
Hogan meditated on the possibility of achieving that. "Get in touch with them, see if they can supply what you need. I'll work on getting into town to pick the stuff up."
He was still working on it the following morning. A clandestine excursion was out of the question; Kommandant Klink and all his guards had been unusually watchful since LeBeau's recent phony escape attempt. It had been a successful diversion, keeping the Krauts well occupied while the rest of the team retrieved a code book which had been dropped down the well, but the resulting increase in vigilance was not exactly making things easy. And they'd used the dental and/or medical emergency dodge a few too many times already.
It always irked Hogan when he couldn't come up with a quick idea. He was in no pleasant temper after roll call. Nobody was singing this morning.
"Colonel Hogan..." The slightly breathless voice of Sergeant Schultz interrupted Hogan's reverie.
"Not now, Schultz," Hogan replied, still slightly distracted. "I'm thinking."
Schultz was accustomed to being fobbed off, but as usual he persisted. "Please, Colonel Hogan, Kommandant Klink wants to see you in his office. It's important."
"What's it about, Schultz?" asked Kinch.
Schultz's face contracted in bemusement. "Don't you already know? You usually know before he does."
"Well, the little bird that usually keeps us informed is out of order today," said Hogan. "So you'll have to do the chirping. What's up?"
"The Kommandant didn't tell me, but he had a phone call from General Burkhalter this morning."
The change in Hogan's expression, and the sudden alertness of his posture, were obvious to everyone but Schultz. Any call from Burkhalter was of interest. But it wouldn't do to let Schultz know.
"Well, I'm sorry," said Hogan, "but I can't always run over there whenever Klink's upset because the old meatball's giving him a hard time. He'll just have to learn to get over it by himself."
"No, Colonel Hogan, it isn't that at all," Schultz protested. "The old meatball...I mean the general had a favour to ask. I heard that much. But what it was, I do not know."
Hogan regarded him skeptically. "Okay, I guess I better go. But if this is just another of Klink's anxiety attacks, Schultz..."
He sauntered out of the barracks and strolled across the compound, with Schultz two steps behind. As he reached the Kommandantur, Hogan turned his head and grinned. "I don't think we'll need you, Schultz," he drawled. "Dismissed."
Taking the steps two at a time, he went inside, leaving Schultz to mutter a few uncomplimentary opinions about Americans in general, before wandering off to the sergeants' mess.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" Hogan breezed into the Kommandant's office as if it were his own, tossing his cap onto the desk where it landed perfectly on top of the spiked helmet Klink kept there. That's three points, he told himself, adding to the score he'd been keeping ever since he'd made the first perfect throw, the day he'd arrived at Stalag 13.
"Yes, Hogan, come in, come in." There was a little air of excitement about Klink this morning. "Now, I've just been speaking with General Burkhalter."
"Really? Say, how is old Tubby, anyway?"
Klink wasn't letting anything get to him today. "You'll be pleased to know the General is very well, and keeping up a busy social schedule in addition to fulfilling his duties. In fact, he's planning a very special occasion tomorrow night, at the Hauserhof. Have you heard of the Italian prima donna, Claudia Valensizi? She will be performing at the Winter Relief Appeal fundraiser in Hammelburg, and General Burkhalter is arranging a reception for the lady. Unfortunately he's had some difficulty with the staffing arrangements, and as he knows some of your men have helped out in the past..."
This was absolutely perfect, and Hogan's mood lightened as he considered the possibilities. All the time he'd spent worrying about how to get someone into Hammelburg, and this had been waiting to drop into his lap.
He still had to play it cool. Too eager to accept, and Klink's natural mistrustful nature would snap into high gear. So Hogan leaned back in his chair, a look of boredom crossing his face. "No way, Kommandant."
"Hogan, it's not often I ask a favour..."
"And it's even less often we get anything in return. Sorry, Kommandant. The boys have better ways to waste their time."
Klink knew this game, and he tilted back as well. "Very well, Hogan. I'm willing to make it worth their while. What would it take to bring them around?"
The negotiation was on. Hogan narrowed his eyes, assessing precisely how outrageous his first demand should be.
"Three extra slices of white bread per man, per week," he said slowly, "two extra hours of electric light every night, and hot water in the showers every Sunday."
"One and a half extra slices of white bread per week, one hour of electric light, hot water for one hour, once a month," countered Klink.
"Two slices of white bread, an hour and a half of electric light, hot water on alternate Sundays, all afternoon."
"For two hours."
"Very well, three hours."
Not a bad set of concessions, for agreeing to something Hogan had every intention of doing anyway. He straightened up, with a grin.
"Kommandant," he said cheerfully, "you got yourself a deal."
Je ne l'ose dire: chanson composed by Pierre Certon (1520? - 1572)