During breakfast on Friday, David asked Michael if he knew the location of the Canadian Embassy in Bern.
"I'm not familiar with it, but then I've never had reason to seek it out. Bern's a fine, friendly city, and most will be willing to help you find it." Michael looked back and forth between Maria and David. "You mentioned remaining there a few days. Where have you arranged to stay?"
"We've made no arrangements."
"But you must. There's an increasing flow of wealthy refugees from Eastern Europe. I'll make a telephone call when we finish here. We prefer Hotel Bernerhof; it's central and very comfortable."
Forty minutes later, Michael looked up from the telephone in his office and turned to David. "They've a suite available on Sunday, but for two nights only, thirty-six Francs demi-pension the night." Seeing David's nod, he confirmed and gave the particulars, then rang off and cradled the receiver. "They've put you on a waiting list for further nights."
"That seems expensive," Maria said. "The gasthaus rooms in Freiburg were only six Marks, that's less than seven Francs."
"But this is with dinner and breakfast for you both, and it's a three-room corner suite. It's all they had available. They told me all the city's hotels are crammed."
David looked out through the office window at the flaccid windsock on the end of the jetty. "Looks like still airs. It makes sense to repair the tire while we wait for the sea breezes."
"We call them lake breezes here." Michael chuckled as he looked out at the clear sky. "There'll be eight to ten knots by mid-morning and a fine breeze by noon. You had a puncture on your drive?"
"Right front, just as we reached the lake. It will give me an excellent opportunity to show Maria how to remove and patch a tube. How's the road to Bern?"
"It's tar-bound macadam all the way from Zürich now, and quite broad."
"We had a fine surface between Winterthur and Zürich. No dust at all and easy driving."
"That's the same surface as the road to Bern. It's a Swiss invention that's spreading quickly. It greatly reduces tire punctures and keeps the auto and the air clean."
A while later, out in the courtyard, Maria insisted on doing the tire repair, guided by David's instruction. "It makes less sense to me if all I have is the theory and watching someone else do it. I learn so much better by doing." She paused her prying with the tire irons and giggled. "Remember how innocent I was when I asked you to have sex so I could learn how it's done. God, that seems so long ago."
He lifted her from her knees, and they merged, tears rolling down their cheeks as their lips pressed and tongues explored.
"Haven't gotten far on the tire repair," Michael said with a chuckle a short while later as he walked past.
David and Maria broke from their kiss and watched him head down toward the jetty. "We should finish here," David said as he leaned to lick the tears from her cheeks. "Then we can look at the boats and think of sailing."
Forty minutes later, as Michael was familiarising them with a nine-metre sloop, he said, "I've been thinking. Your hotel in Bern isn't available until Sunday. Sailing today will allow you to see some of this area, but there's so much other spectacular scenery close at hand by road. You should see it while you're here."
David nodded at him. "I would love to see the high Alps. I've spent so much time ogling their pictures in books, and I'd love to see them from places such as Zermatt or Grindelwald."
YOU ARE READING
In the early months of the First World War, a young Canadian soldier uses quick thinking and ingenuity to evade capture after being wounded fighting in Flanders. While escaping through Germany to the Swiss border, he becomes intimately entwined with...