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Besides we have one gun emplacement on the other side. If on that side why not yours? We don't want any gaps to be found when Ernst shook his head at the impossibility of the thought. Up there you wouldn't see so much. But digging into the cliff would take more men, more materials. It would take longer. I have to balance these things. Lentsch looked out in dismay.

Regional solidarity

It would not simply spoil the house, it would break the spell woven around it. Suddenly the plane's engines cut out and in the silence he was standing by the French windows smoking a cigarette, listening to Isobel's clear laughter rising up from the beach. With luck he would be seeing her tonight. He tried to think of what he might say to her, how eager he should appear.

He'd had a good three days in Paris, washing away the hold of her in as many nightclubs as one man could take, but once back home he could not wait to return. He had listened to his mother and sister, feeling increasingly awkward and irritated, as if they had no right to tell him of their hardships, the rationing, the bombing raids, the barely articulated feeling of gloom.

He felt strangely unaffected by it, as if it had nothing to do with him. The war might ebb and flow across continents, but it hardly seemed to matter. Only Guernsey existed. Guernsey was the best place in the world.

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That's if it's necessary at all. Ernst tapped his briefcase as if he had the plans already under lock and key. But as it is So that was it. Ernst was beginning to flex his muscles. This was going to be how it was from now on, the army pushed aside in favour of those who held everything but their own prejudices in contempt. Lentsch tried to hold his ground. The plane slithered recklessly down the grass runway. For a moment Lentsch thought that they were going to crash into one of the Junkers parked at the far end. The brakes didn't seem to have any effect at all.

Ernst, catching his look of horror, affected a blithe indifference. Once a month a plane crashes. Ernst jumped down and sped off without another word. Lentsch hauled his baggage out and followed. On the roof of the heavily sandbagged terminal stood a sentry, stuck there with legs apart, like a decoration on a wedding cake.

Below, in front of the car, waited Albert. Though in his late fifties when he had first started to work for him, Albert had possessed the wiry strength of someone twenty years younger. Now he was beginning to look his age, but his skin still retained that depth of colour that only a man who has spent his working life outside can obtain. Lentsch promised himself that this month he would get up the nerve to ask Albert to sit for him. He was dressed as awkwardly as usual: baggy brown jacket, woollen waistcoat and a pair of dress-suit trousers with a velvet stripe down the outside leg that had once belonged to his former employer.

His blue beret was draped over his head like a three-egg omelette. Most men were expected to show due deference to their German masters and lifting one's cap, even raising it the slightest fraction, was considered a sufficient demonstration, but not Albert. Lentsch had never seen him without it, not even when he had roused him out of bed in the middle of the night. Zep was convinced the man was completely bald, but Lentsch wasn't so sure.

A bald pate would not worry Albert unduly.

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It was a definite state, a fact of life, a badge of hard-won honour. A thin straggle of something blowing across the top, however, he would not appreciate, for like many men who feign indifference to their appearance, Albert was vain. One had only to look at the shine of his shoes or the fussy knot of his tie to know that. And anyway, as Lentsch had pointed out to Zep, he went to the barber's once a month.


I told him not to eat 'em but would he listen? He tried to get Mrs H. Bent double.

David Butters

He's better now though. Except for the squits. Albert coughed. I've sprained my ankle and got this throat I can't get rid of, Marjorie's got the shingles and half the girls in Boots have been going in and out of the pox doctor's clinic faster than a spring tide. Well, they're not handling my prescriptions any more, I can tell you that. They drove off. As they turned out onto Forest Road Albert tugged at his beret, as if acknowledging the sentry's salute.

It took Lentsch by surprise. Was he merely being insolent or did he see himself as a quasi-official now? He soon got his answer. A kilometre down the road the car started to edge steadily to the left. Lentsch put his hand on the wheel and eased it firmly over to the correct side.

They turned onto the Rue des Escaliers. A short journey down and then out along the cliff. Five minutes at the most. He wondered if she would be there to greet him.

He looked over at Albert's face to see if he could detect her presence. He fished out a small packet, wrapped in tissue paper. Albert took a hand from the wheel and held the parcel up to his ear, shaking it gently.

The Insolent Enemy -

There was a metallic rattling inside. He rubbed his face in anticipation of his first fresh shave of the month. As a trusted member of the household Albert listened to the BBC as often as they did, standing at the back of the living room, hanging on to every word booming out of the huge radiogram. That was one of the reasons why he was in such demand. With his sources Albert had an invitation to tea at someone's house every day of the week.

The car bumped down the narrow road, high hedges and ferns on either side.