Chapter Fifty-Five

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Bern, Switzerland

Afew minutes to ten on Sunday morning, after he had arranged the two hire cars, David left Mannheim. The roads were dry all the way to just south of Freiburg, and on the stretches between the towns and cities, he was able to drive at ninety kilometres per hour. He slowed in the rain to eighty, and a few minutes past one, he arrived at the Swiss border.

Rain continued as he drove southward, and as he headed uphill from Aarburg, it turned to sleet. The roads were beginning to whiten with snow as he drove into the courtyard of the Ambassador's residence in Bern at ten past three. The butler opened the door to his knock. "Welcome back Colonel Berry."

"Thank you, Stanley. If the Ambassador isn't busy, please tell him I've returned with vital information. I'll go up to greet Maria and to refresh from the drive. I'll be down shortly."

"Very well, Sir."

David bounded up the stairs, shuffling out of his overcoat as he juggled his satchel. He knocked on the door to the suite, opened it and stepped in, dropping his satchel and coat as he strode across the room to Maria, pulling her into a hug as she rose from the chaise longue. "God! How I've missed you."

They held the embrace in silence except for her humming sighs, then she said. "I've not felt you this tense in a long time. What's this about?"

"The men. They're all deeply appreciative of your advice, and my mind began creating images from their reports of gathering intelligence. I've been daydreaming erotically about you the entire drive."

"I'm missing a few links in the story, but you can tell me later. She mashed her belly onto his firmness. "How did you sneak this past Stanley?"

"I kept my overcoat on and buttoned."

She reached down to unfasten his trouser front. "We must do something to ease this."

"I had Stanley inform Evelyn I'd be down immediately after greeting you and refreshing."

"I'll do a quick refresh here, so you're able to concentrate." She knelt, peeled his head and went to work, soon causing David's tensions of the past few hours to peak and then dissipate in a series of spasms.

David was still trembling as Maria milked and licked him clean. She smacked her lips and looked up. "I've missed your taste; we've not played soixante-neuf since you impregnated me. We should start doing it again for variety."

She rose and kissed him. "So, even Manny?"

"Yes, I took six of them up to Ludwigshafen, across the Rhine from Mannheim and left them there to figure out how to harvest intelligence on the munitions factories. They used the loose lips approach."

"Loose lips approach? What's that?"

"Revealing secrets through casual talk." He chuckled. "The men got them to open more than one set of lips, thanks to your advice, and this has enabled us to gather pieces of information to fill in the larger picture." He gave her a squeeze. "I should go to the loo then head down. I'll give you the full story later, and I'll add the other thirty-four and a half."

"Thirty-four and a half?"

"My share of the sixty-nine."

She snuggled into him. "Hurry back. I won't be able to concentrate on my study with the anticipation." She rose to her toes and kissed him, then stepped back and giggled. "We should tuck this away before you go down."

Four minutes later, the Ambassador responded to the knock on his open office door. "Come in, David. Tell me about your latest adventures." He motioned to the leather chairs.

"There is no sense sending anything until morning, but I must as soon as the message centre opens. The Germans are preparing for a massive assault on the lines in France from the area around Metz and the upper Moselle River. If I'm to believe they were not ruses, but naïve slips by the prince, the assault commences within three weeks, and the —"

"The prince?"

"Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, the Crown Prince. I spoke to him at lunch on Friday, then when we met an hour later in a wine cellar, and again —"

"The German Crown Prince? The Kaiser's son?"

"Yes, Sir. Plus four other generals. I didn't get the name of the fifth, but of the others, one appeared to be Wilhelm's aide, General von Knobelsdorf." He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and glanced at it. "The other two were Generals von Schenck and von Falkenhayn."

Evelyn shook his head. "How the fuck did you manage that? Pardon my tongue, but how the fuck?"

"Keeping my eyes open, watching for opportunities and jumping into them." He shrugged. "And a waggon load of good luck."

Evelyn rose and walked to his desk. "Let me see if Henry is available to come over. He may recognise some of the generals." He lifted the receiver off the cradle and dialled a series of numbers. After a long pause, "Henry, David is back from a meeting with the Kaiser's son." He winked at David. "I thought you might like to take your tea here." He paused to listen. "No, no. Wait there. I'll send Jacques over to pick you up."

He cradled the receiver as he pushed the white button on his desk. Half a minute later, Stanley knocked and entered. "Yes, Sir?"

"Please have Jacques fetch Colonel Picot from his home. We'll be three in here for tea. Oh, and let's do Spanish."

Evelyn returned to his chair. "Tell me some of the non-tactical parts of your trip while we await Henry."

David chuckled. "An important part of the men's preparation for this took place during our Christmas at Sonnenhang. The men have been cooped up without women for months, and their seeing Maria made them sense their manhood more intensely."

"Yes, it would be an odd man not to be stirred by her beauty and poise." He chuckled. "Or a queer one."

"Anyway, she asked if they would participate in a study she was doing on sexual attraction. And in repayment for their honest answers, she offered to share the results of her research, as well as her personal insights on how men can recognise the subtle signs that indicate a woman is attracted to them."

"I would have loved to know that when I was twenty."

"The men learned very well Maria's lessons. I took six of them north with me and set them up in a wealthy area with most of the young men off to the Front. I supplied them with ample rubber goods and left them to be men."

"And?"

"They quickly found munitions factories and the many beautiful young women pressed into working at them." David chuckled. "The virile young Swiss entrepreneur adds spice to their image. The male-attention-starved women opened up more than only their delicate folds, and the men gathered information which confirms what Wilhelm spilt. I cannot see things shared in innocent passion as being part of a ruse."

"Let's leave the core details of this until Henry arrives. My curiosity, though... Maybe it's my prurient interest. Did they all manage to dip their wicks?"

"All six, Sir. And it was obvious there was no hollow boasting. My concern, though, is with the three who have remained with the same women for three nights, and they intended heading back for a fourth. I counselled them about it, and they're aware of the fragility of their cover." David chuckled. "Speaking of cover. They had nearly run out of rubbers, and I told them they're readily available in the shops."

"We need that thinking in Britain; the diseases are rapidly spreading. But, unfortunately, even though Queen Victoria is long since dead, her prudish spirit lives on."

"That won't last long once we've won this and boys return home."

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