David and Maria stood chatting in the salon outside the dining room when Franz and Hans were shown in by the butler. David smiled as they approached. "You met in the mess tent in October, but that was brief and with a dozen others, so we'll repeat."
After introductions, the four of them conversed until the Ambassador and his wife joined them. Franz and Hans were presented to Edith Grant Duff. She nodded toward the dining room. "There'll be only eight of us this evening. An intimate dinner to celebrate your successes. We're waiting on Mr and Mrs Smeaton."
Maria looked at Edith. "Smeaton? That's my mother's family name. Grandpa and Grandma are Smeaton."
Edith smiled as she nodded over Maria's shoulder to the butler escorting a couple toward them. "Yes, and here they are now."
Maria turned in time to be wrapped in her grandmother's arms while David shook hands with Michael Smeaton. Maria wiped the tears from her cheeks and shook her head. "What are you doing here?"
"We came to celebrate with you. We've been told there are many things to celebrate." Mary Smeaton turned to David for a hug. "Aren't you going to introduce us to these two gentlemen?"
After the formalities, Michael explained, "I had called Sonnenhang to speak with David, and after Rachel had told me he was at the Embassy, I phoned and was soon speaking with Mr Grant Duff, who invited us to dinner. It's all been very quick. We arrived here about two hours ago and have been enjoying Edith's hospitality."
Edith winked at David. "I thought Maria would enjoy the surprise. Come, let's head into the dining room."
As they walked, David asked Michael, "Why did you wish to speak with me?"
Michael motioned to the corner and took David aside. "Your passport has been issued. You are required to go to the office to sign for it. Mary and I were there this afternoon to pick up ours." He patted his pocket. "I have both your and Maria's notifications here, and some other papers. They've a tight system, and I wasn't able to find a way to show you as anything but Maria's brother, so you'll need to continue as officially unmarried."
"That's no problem, I'm now legally in Switzerland, posted to the Embassy as the Aide-de-Camp to the Ambassador. Rachel has applied for a marriage permit for us in Unterhallau, and she expects it to be issued early next week. We didn't want to say anything until we received the permit, but..."
"So, when will you have the ceremony?"
"We must wait ten days after the permit is issued. If we get it by Tuesday, then Christmas Eve. Otherwise, it will be after Christmas."
"I see now why Rachel has invited us to spend the entire Christmastime at Sonnenhang."
David nodded, then tilted his head toward the dining room. "We should continue in with the others."
After celebratory toasts with Champagne, the group enjoyed light conversation through dinner, then in the pause before the cheese board arrived, Michael leaned toward David and quietly said, "The six-month deferment of your initial Army training has been approved. They accepted you need time to settle in after your move back from Germany. You'll be contacted in the spring."
"I was hoping they would consider that." David laughed. "I'll be quite the expert with it after a third go. So, how long is it?"
"Our initial training was only seven weeks. But that was in Quebec before they shipped us across to England for further training."
"Yes, but the further training here consists of two weeks of courses and exercises every year. The remainder of the time, you're free to do as you please."
David chuckled. "I'll have to take leave from the Canadian Army to do my Swiss Army training."
"You'll also need to act inexperienced and unaware; you don't want to risk exposing your Canadian identity."
"With all the acting I've been doing and will be, I should consider taking up theatre after the war."
On Monday morning, David and Maria visited the new Passport Office in the Confederation Building, and after waiting their turn in the long queue, they received their passports. As David drove toward the University, Maria said, "I'm pleased these didn't exist when we came across from Germany."
"The borders will continue to honour birth certificates for a while longer, but with most countries now moving to photographs and holders' signatures, they'll increasingly scrutinise the simpler documents." He patted his pocket and smiled. "This will certainly make my crossings easier."
After he had dropped Maria at the University, David drove eastward to Bienne, where he stopped at a hotel in the French Quarter for lunch and to relax before his meeting. No wine, I need to keep a clear head as I add more pieces to the puzzle. Wonder how many more.
YOU ARE READING
Back In ActionHistorical Fiction
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...