April showers bring May flowers.
In a POW camp, April showers bring leaky roofs.
The prisoners in Barracks 2 weren't sure which would drive them to a Section 8 first: the rain drip-drip-dripping into the buckets or Col. Hogan pacing back and forth.
Newkirk looked up from his cards as the colonel walked past him again. "Blimey, guv'nor, why don't you go down to the tunnels? More room to pace there."
Hogan said nothing. He just bit his thumb and continued pacing.
"Le colonel is worried about le petite prince." LeBeau tried to make excuses for their CO to his ami.
From his defensive tone, LeBeau sounded as if he expected someone to argue with him. No one did. No one said a word. This mission had gotten to all of them. They'd enlisted to fight the enemy - soldier to soldier. Blowing up bridges, sabotaging munitions factories, stealing information from the Gestapo, that was war. That was what they had expected. But a kid - the whole point of war was to try to keep civilians - especially women and children - safe. None of them were comfortable with a little boy in the danger zone.
"New bucket," Garlotti requested.
Kinch handed him an empty bucket. Garlotti exchanged it for one that was half full. Kinch took the bucket with rain water and carefully poured the water into Wehrmacht issue canteens. It got dry and dusty in the tunnels; they'd be glad of the canteens later.
"I still think it's a darned shame no one in the underground could take the kid in," Carter said.
"Too dangerous for 'em," Garlotti said. "No way a family of four Wednesday could suddenly be a family of five Thursday. The Nazis wouldn't give 'em more ration coupons."
"Not to mention what would happen to them if le Boche caught them," LeBeau pointed out. "You remember what Doofenshmirtz said about the prince being inconvenient and the Gestapo making inconveniences disappear."
"It's one thing hiding a downed flyer for a day or two," Kinch said. He couldn't help remembering the stories his grandfather had told him, of how his father, Kinch's great-grandfather, had come north on the Underground Railroad. He had never dared stay more than one day at any station before heading on the following night. "Taking a kid in for Heaven knows how long -"
"Especially a kid who could get you killed if they caught you babysitting," Sgt. Olson interrupted.
"The point's moot." Hogan barked the words rather than spoke them. "None of our local contacts in the underground are willing to take him in."
"Gee, you'd think for a kid, somebody would be willing to take him in," Carter persisted. "They could say he was a nephew or a cousin, or something, who'd been orphaned in a bombing raid. When Jonathan and Martha Kent found Superman, they didn't go around telling people they found a space baby in a rocketship; they said he was Martha's cousin's boy who was orphaned and they were adopting him. Y'know, LeBeau - hey, that rhymes, y'know, LeBeau," he interrupted himself, "one time I saw a movie about the Scarlet Pimpernel rescuing the dow-fin -"
"Dauphin," LeBeau corrected automatically.
" - the dauphin of France, and the bad guys were making him say really rotten things about his parents, that his father was a traitor and his mother was, well, that she was a scarlet woman. Do you think the Gestapo would do that to Prince Fritz if they caught him?"
"Can we give bloody Bonnie Prince Charlie a rest and concentrate on poker?" Newkirk demanded.
Hogan stopped. He whirled around to face his men. He snapped his fingers. "Newkirk, you're a bloody genius."
"Well known fact, sir," Newkirk acknowledged. "Er, what did I say that was so blooming clever?"
Hogan didn't answer. He pounded the bedframe of one of the bunks to open the entrance into the tunnels and hurried down without another word.
Three days later, a group of Bund Deutscher Mädel came to the camp. One of the troop leaders was Frau Schnitzer, the wife of the man who provided the dogs to the camp.
Col. Klink smiled at the fifteen sweet, adorable little girls. "I don't know when I've been to a more delightful tea party." The Kommandant, Frau Schnitzer, and the other troop leader, Frau Zimmerman, had tea. The girls had milk.
"On behalf of my men, I thank you for the generous gift of these cookies. It was very kind of you, and I know my soldiers will be delighted and surprised when they come to the mess hall this evening to receive such a treat."
The oldest girl stood up. "It is our pleasure and honor to support our boys in uniform."
"The boys in uniform will be very grateful," Col. Klink told her solemnly. "Whether a soldier is at the front or stationed at a luftstalag, it is hard to be away from home. To you, these cookies may be just an opportunity to earn a baking badge, but to our soldiers, it is proof positive that they are not forgotten. Danke schoen."
"Frau Schnitzer, before we go home, may we see your dogs?" one girl asked, just as she'd been coached.
"If the Kommandant permits, you may see them at a distance, but you may not go pet them," the dog trainer's wife warned. "These are not playful puppies like you have at home. These are trained guard dogs, very fierce."
Fifteen sweet, adorable girls went to see the dogs. Fourteen sweet, adorable girls went home to their families.
Kinch rolled a wheelbarrow full of dirt past the dog pens. Newkirk and LeBeau walked beside him, chatting merrily. They stopped near the pens. Newkirk whistled: a passable imitation of a nightjar's call.
It was odd to hear a nightjar so early in the spring; odder still to hear one in the daytime.
"Fritz, komm' mit," Kinch whispered. He had the second best German accent of Hogan's men, his fluency in Deutsch second only to the colonel's.
Newkirk and LeBeau lifted a brown cloth off the wheelbarrow. Bits of gardening soil fell off the top of the cloth. " 'Ere, kid, in 'ere," Newkirk said quietly.
One of the Bund Deutscher Mädel hurried away from the group and climbed into the wheelbarrow. LeBeau hastily replaced the cloth on top of the wheelbarrow. They sauntered away.
When they reached Barracks 2, Newkirk and LeBeau stood in front of the wheelbarrow, blocking the view of any guards. Kinch lefted the cloth and helped the "girl" out of the wheelbarrow and into the barracks.
Once inside, the child pulled off the blonde wig, revealing short carroty-orange hair. "Why did I have to dress like a girl?"
"Prinz Friedrich-Wilhelm von Drüselstein, I assume. Colonel Robert Hogan, Your Highness," the Senior POW introduced himself in fluent German.
"I am not a girl," the prince complained.
"Bonnie Prince Charlie dressed like a girl when Flora Macdonald helped him escape from the Redcoats," Hogan told him. "We're just following royal tradition."
The boy relaxed a little when he heard that.
"Welcome to Barracks Two, Your Highness. We'll hide you here for a bit, then help you out of Germany," Col. Hogan promised.
"Danke," the prince said.
Carter stood peeking out the window, keeping watch. "Colonel, someone's coming."
"Into my quarters, " the colonel ordered. Olsen got up and opened the door to the colonel's office/bedroom.
Nodding, the boy went as he was bidden.
Sgt. Schultz opened the door. "Col. Hogan, you should have come to the Kommandant's office. He had a tea party with homemade cookies."
"Wasn't invited, Schultzie," Hogan replied lightly.
"Maybe 'is invitation got lost in the mail," Newkirk suggested.
"More likely der Kommandant wanted to keep the cookies to himself," Schultz retorted. "And since when do you wait for an invitation, Herr Oberst?"
A thunk came from the colonel's quarters, something falling to the floor.
"What was that?" Schultz asked.
"Must be Whistler," Hogan said calmly. "I've got him cleaning up my quarters."
"Colonel Hogan," Schultz said slowly, "I just saw Cpl. Whistler a few minutes ago, on the volleyball court."
"Are you sure, Schultz? In uniform, most of these guys look alike."
Schultz opened his mouth, then shut it again. "I see nothing. I hear nothing."
"Ja, Herr Oberst?"
"Send Obersoldat Doofenshmirtz over this way, please."
"Doofen-" Schultz began. He stopped short. "I know nothing, nothing." He left the barracks as fast as his vast bulk permitted.
A moment later, the door of the colonel's quarters opened. Prince Friedrich-Wilhelm apologized. "I am sorry. The book fell."
"It's all right," the colonel assured him. He thought for a moment. The pin-up pictures that were hidden in the barracks weren't the sort a kid should see, and the few books they had weren't likely to interest a boy of ten... if he could even read English. "Do you play chess, Your Highness?"
Ten minutes later, Carter called out, "He's coming, Colonel."
Hogan nodded. "Let him in when he gets here. Discreetly."
Doofenshmirtz opened the door. Before he had a chance to say or do anything, Carter shut it behind him. The obersoldat turned to look at the door, then turned back. He stared at the prince sitting at the table, playing chess with Col. Hogan.
The prince smiled. "Doofi, is it really you?"
Doofenshmirtz rushed to the prince, knelt beside him, and hugged the boy. "Fritz – mein prinz – are you all right?"
"I take it you two know each other?" Newkirk asked.
"Ja, Doofi was the bootblack at the palace," Fritz replied, not realizing the question was rhetorical.
"I hate to interrupt old home week, but you'll have plenty of time to get reacquainted later," Hogan said. "Your Highness, we're going to send you out of harm's way. We're send you to England. You might stay there until the war is over; they might send you on to Canada. The Dutch royal family is in exile there. Heck, you might wind up staying with them."
Hogan turned to Doofenshmirtz, "He's too young to go alone. You'll have to go with him."
"I can't go with him," Doofenshmirtz protested. "I am a soldier, and a soldier must obey orders. I can't leave Stalag 13. I'll be court-martialled. Or worse, sent to the Russian Front."
"Listen, Private, see these?" Hogan pointed at his eagles. "I'm ordering you to go."
"But – " Doofenshmirtz sputtered.
The prince got up from the bench and approached Hogan. He whispered in the colonel's ear.
Hogan grinned, then nodded. "LeBeau, let me borrow your kitchen knife."
"Oui, mon colonel." The Frenchman fetched out the knife he used to chop vegetables.
Hogan took the knife and handed it, hilt first, to the prince. Fritz glanced at the floor. Taking the hint, Hogan dropped to one knee.
"By my authority as Crown Prince of Drüselstein," Fritz tapped Hogan on the right shoulder with the flat of the blade, then on the left shoulder, "and in the name of St. Michael and St. Gisilberht, I dub you a knight of Drüselstein." The boy nodded. Hogan stood.
Newkirk whistled. "Sir Robert, is it now?"
"Wow," Carter said.
Ignoring them, Hogan turned to Doofenshmirtz. "You told Hochstetter that you were a good Drüselsteiner, and that since Drüselstein was now part of Germany, you were a good German now."
"Ja, but how did you know that?"
"And since Drüselstein is now part of the Großdeutsches Reich, then as a knight of Drüselstein, I am also a knight of the Third Reich, and a colonel," Hogan pointed out.
"Ja, I suppose so, but –"
Hogan stepped in front of Doofenshmirtz and got right in his face. " As a knight of Drüselstein, I am ordering you to protect your prince until the war is over and it's safe for both of you to come home to a free and independent Drüselstein."
" But, but - "
"Are you disobeying a royal knight of Drüselstein?"
" Nein, Herr Ritter!"
"Good. If the Nazis find out you deserted, they might go after your family. So, we'll make sure they don't find out. Keep your mouth shut and be ready."
"Zu befehl, Herr Ritter!"
José Doofenshmirtz had three separate people ask him if something was wrong the next morning. He couldn't help feeling nervous, and although he tried, he couldn't hide it.
Now he'd been ordered to drive the Kübelwagen to town to pick up supplies. He'd never been trusted with any military vehicle before, and he wasn't sure he could drive to town and back, as much as his hands were shaking. Col. Hogan had said he would help Fritz. Col. Hogan had Fritz in his barracks. The crown prince was in Luftstalag 13, and if the Gestapo caught them –
Doofenshmirtz shuddered at the thought.
He tried to concentrate on keeping the Kübelwagen straight. He wasn't a very good driver to begin with, and the Kübelwagen steered like a cow at the best of times. The road curved. He slowed down as he went round the corner, then jammed on the brakes.
A repair crew was hard at work in the middle of the road. A guard signalled him to stop.
"Was ist los?" Doofenshmirt asked.
"Out of the car, please." The road guard spoke with an odd accent, and his face seemed vaguely familiar.
"I am on an errand of military importance," Doofenshmirtz protested. "I –"
"He said out of the car, Doofenshmirtz."
Doofenshmirtz looked up, a stunned look on his face. He recognized that voice. "Colonel Hogan?"
There stood Col. Hogan, wearing a Wehrmacht uniform."I don't have all day, Obersoldat."
"Colonel Hogan? What are you doing here?"
"Ja wohl, Herr Oberst, er, Herr Ritter, uh, yes, sir." Doofenshmirtz opened the car door and got out.
Carter stepped forward and put something in the Kübelwagen.
"C'mon, Doofenshmirtz, let's get back a safe distance," Hogan colonel put his hand on Doofenshmirtz's shoulder and led him away from the vehicle. Doofenshmirtz's eyes widened when he recognized the rest of the work crew as prisoners from Stalag 13. "Okay, Carter."
Carter pushed down on the plunger. The Kübelwagen blew up.
"I'm responsible for that! They'll take it out of my pay," Doofenshmirt protested.
"No, they won't. Nobody duns a dead man, and they'll think you were blown up with the car," Hogan told him.
"But my family." Doofenshmirtz suddenly realized that they would receive a telegram that he was dead.
"I'm sorry." Hogan's voice was sincere. "Once the war is over, you can tell them the truth."
Hogan thumped the bedframe, revealing the entrance into the tunnels. "Stick with Olsen and Garlotti. Do what they tell you, and you'll be okay."
"Ja, Herr Ritter." Fritz nodded.
"You've got your orders, Doofenshmirtz. Protect that boy with your life."
"Ja wohl, Herr Ritter."
"When we get to England, do I get to be a boy again?"Fritz asked plaintively. He wore his Bund Deutscher Mädel uniform and blonde wig again.
"Yes, Your Highness," Hogan promised. He turned to face Doofenshmirtz. "You make sure he's a tree-climbing, roller-skating, knee-skinning, frog-catching, marble-shooting boy. Don't let them keep him locked up in a palace. Make sure he has a chance to be a kid."
Doofenshmirtz managed a smile. "Danke, Colonel Hogan."
"Raus, raus, everybody out for roll call," Schultz ordered.
Schultz worried when the men took longer than usual, and milled around more than usual, refusing to settle into their assigned places. When that happened, it usually meant trouble. Trouble like not enough men, or the wrong men. Monkey business. He counted quickly.
"Colonel Hogan, there should be fifteen men," Schultz whispered.
"Yeah, Schultz, I know."
"I only count thirteen."
Hogan shrugged. "Some guys have trouble waking up in the morning. I've told you before, you should have roll call later in the day. Maybe around lunch time?"
"I will pass your recommendation on to der Kommandant," Schultz retorted sarcastically.
"Bet he'd welcome the chance to sleep in, too," Hogan whispered.
Schultz started to chuckle, then remembered the situation. "Colonel Hogan, the two men?"
"Well, Schultzie," Hogan began. Then the barracks door opened, and Olsen and Garlotti hurried out. The colonel ordered, "Fall in."
"Yessir," Garlotti muttered. He and Olsen fell into formation. The other men stopped milling about and arranged themselves in order.
Colonel Klink marched out. "Report!"
"All present and accounted for, mein Kommandant," Schultz reported with relief.
Klink listened to the reports from the other barracks. Naturally, all the prisoners were present. There had never been a successful escape from Stalag 13. "Prisoners and guards, I have sad news for you. Yesterday, the Allies attempted to bomb the ball bearing plant in Dusseldorf. They failed; the plant was damaged, but the courageous workers are already back, continuing their efforts to bring our glorious Third Reich to victory. Unfortunately, one of the bombs went off course, and Obersoldat Doofenshmirtz was killed. As a token of mourning, lights out will be one hour earlier tonight."
There was muttering from the ranks at that news.
Klink corrected himself, "As a token of mourning, lights out will be one hour earlier all week. Pastor Adler of der St.-Matthaeus-Lutherische-Kirche will be holding a memorial service in two days' time. Those who wish to attend please contact their sergeants, so the duty schedules can be re-arranged as necessary. Dismissed!"
Hogan watched as the caravan of cars returned to Stalag 13.
Kinch came out of Barracks 2 and walked up to the colonel. "What's up?"
"The guards returning from the memorial service in town," Hogan explained. He continued to watch as the cars were returned to the motor pool.
"Just heard from London, sir. The sub docked at Plymouth about an hour ago. The prince should be in London by dinner time," Kinch told him.
"Good." Hogan watched as the rotund segeant walked toward them. "Here comes Schultzie."
Kinch nodded and went back into the barracks.
Schultz sidled up to the pilot and lowered his voice. "Col. Hogan, this nothing I do not know - will it help end the war?"
"I hope so, Schultz. I hope so."
Author's Notes: Danke schoen to Jordre, Sgt. Moffit, and Lizzi for research for this chapter. Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and her children spent most of WWII in Canada. Her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, was in England, personally directing the Dutch government in exile, where Churchill described her as "the only real man amongst the governments-in-exile in London." The nightjar is cousin to our American whippoorwill, and is nocturnal, hence the name. Being a migratory bird, it doesn't normally return to Europe until late April or May. When the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie, fled the British army, Flora Macdonald disguised him as her maid, "Betty Burke" when they escaped the Scottish mainland and went to the Isle of Skye in 1746. Section 8 (as any fan of MASH and Klinger knows) is a military discharge for reasons of insanity.
Großdeutsches Reich "Greater German Domain" - the official state name of Germany from 1943–45; earlier used to refer to pre-1938 Germany (the Altreich) plus Austria and other annexed territories
Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) – The German youth organization founded by the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Made up of the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth ages 14–18; the younger boys' section Deutsches Jungvolk for ages 10–13; and the girls' section Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM). From 1936 membership in the HJ proper was compulsory.
"Unhappy the land where heroes are needed." Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo, 1943
Denn die einen sind im Dunkeln. ~~*~~There are some who are in darkness
Und die andern sind im Licht.~~*~~ And the others are in light.
Und man siehet die im Lichte ~~*~~And you see the ones in brightness.
Die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht. ~~*~~Those in darkness drop from sight.