Chapter Nineteen

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They spent the rest of the afternoon systematically printing and processing the remainder of the images. At the end of the session, they had six images for the circumcision essay, three for the sprained ankle essay, two large portraits of David for Maria and five postcard-sized ones of Maria for David. They stood them up along the counter then stepped back to study their work.

"I'm well pleased with all of these. Do you see any we need to redo? Shoot again or print again?"

"Only one I can think of. I'd love this one of me enlarged like my other two." She picked up the postcard image of the open arms pose. "I'd like to stand it on my night table with the second one of you, and have your hungry eyes looking into my longing ones. Together."

"A fine idea. I'll let you do the entire process on this one. You know all the steps now. While you set-up, I'll put these back between blotting paper and under the weight."

Three minutes later, as the fresh enlargement was being blotted, David said, "I was just thinking; my postcards should fit well in a cigarette case. I don't have one. I've not had any reason or desire to smoke, but many of the fellows carry cases to keep their smokes dry and undamaged."

"That's a clever thought. Keep them hidden and protected. Doctor Nausdorf at school has an elegantly engraved silver one. I suppose they're available at tobacconists and at jewellers."

David looked at his watch. "Just on five-thirty. We'll leave these under the weights until later this evening. Let's tidy up here and go join Tante and Mama."

As they entered the kitchen, Bethia looked up from stuffing sausages. "Perfect timing David, you can go down and start a fire in the smoker. These will be soon ready, there are four hams in the brine that need smoking, and we've four dozen tenderloins to prepare yet for Klettgauschinken. How's your photo project coming?"

"We've finished everything, and we're now waiting only for the prints to dry. Another two hours should have them dried and trained flat."

"You've been very busy."

"So have you."

"It's so much easier with Rachel's assistance, and so much more enjoyable. She's been filling me full of details of your adventures coming over the mountains. Such intense times you all had."

When David returned from lighting the fire, Rachel and Maria had finished the last of the cervelat and had begun on the tenderloins. Bethia was in the front with customers. After he had washed his hands, he joined them at the long counter. "What can I do?"

"From what I've seen, you can do anything." Maria sniggered. "But seriously, David, you're capable of doing anything you set your mind to. You amaze me, you amaze all of us. We were just talking of this."

"One thing I'd dearly love to do is stop this infernal war. Stop it so I don't have to leave you."

"I think that's beyond all of us except Kaiser Wilhelm. He's the only one who can stop this idiocy." Rachel shook her head and let out a loud breath. "He's already caused the injury and death of more than a million men, the destruction of so many towns and villages, the ruination of countless families left behind. It will take more than just you to stop this insanity."

"It's quiet in here," Bethia said as she returned from the front a while later.

"Kaiser Wilhelm entered the conversation." Rachel looked up from her work. "Difficult to carry on when stunned by the results of insanity."

They continued working in silence, David watching their nimble fingers as they trimmed the tenderloins, added herbs then folded and bound them in a criss-cross pattern. After two minutes, he picked up a knife and slid a tenderloin off the pile. "Any secrets I should know about with this?"

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