Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Twenty-Nine
23rd July 1973
Schwielochsee, Spreewald National Park
It was a warm afternoon and Sophie was sitting in the sun. She had been swimming earlier that afternoon and was currently letting the sun dry her before she would change for supper. Doctor Berg had told her that over the Summer Holiday that she could have what adults secretly wanted, having few responsibilities and several weeks to spend doing as little as possible. What Sophie was supposed to do over this holiday was to act like a fourteen-year-old girl who lived in Tempelhof. It was far easier said than done. Sophie’s mind kept going back to everything that had happened over the first few days on holiday.
Sophie had thought that she had put one over on the camp staff, but it seemed that they understood a few things that she had not thought through. Once the three other girls arrived in the small cabin, she was left with the choice of sharing the contraband with them or the rather likely possibility of having them snitch on her. The chocolate covered coffee beans were gone in only a few hours and the rest was gone by Sunday afternoon. Ziska had found the entire thing amusing and had asked her “Just what exactly did you expect was going to happen?” when she saw Sophie’s dismay. Lina Kauffmann and Ilona Kirch were old friends though. If Sophie had to share with anyone, it would be them. Angelica who was in a cabin with other younger girls wasn’t happy to learn that everyone in Sophie’s cabin had gotten a treat while she had been excluded. When the rumors did reach the staff, Sophie had denied everything. As it had turned out no one could prove anything because the evidence had been eaten.
The other thing that happened was that everyone was amazed that she had ridden her bicycle the hundred kilometers from Berlin. After having done it, Sophie didn’t think that it was that big of a deal. She had memorized the route and had made good time, so it had only taken her about six hours to make the journey. It had resulted in her being a bit of a heroine for a couple hours before everyone moved on to other things.
Then Sophie heard a commotion as a boat passed from the Boy’s camp. Everyone knew that the other camp was there, just a few meters away. A hedge of thorn bushes and a tall fence separated the two camps and woe be unto anyone who dared to contact anyone on the other side unless it was an expressly sanctioned event. Marie Alexandra had gotten into a lot of trouble a few years earlier when she gotten caught after lights-out speaking with some boys through the fence. Sophie had realized that if she attended a co-educational school then these boys would probably be her classmates and the strict rules separating them seemed archaic and pointless.
The rules were the rules, and it was just a coincidence that whenever boats left the boy’s camp, they just happened to almost always pass close to the beach of girl’s camp. Marie Alexandra, who was seventeen this year and was regarded as being more like one of the staff than just another camper was standing there, glaring at the boys who were bending the rules. Some of the things they were saying were directed at Marie. Sophie knew that they were going over the line with what they were saying, and Kat had warned her that any group was only as smart as the stupidest person within it.
After a few minutes they passed out of earshot and were paddling away, across the lake. Marie just shook her head and muttered something about “Idiots.” When Sophie asked her about that later, Marie said that the way that boys their age acted was a real disappointment for her. Sophie realized that she really didn’t have the experience as to whether or not Marie was correct about that.
“You must make sure that you have a weapon in your hand when you die” Mathilda said solemnly, “That way the Gods understand that you are truly a warrior.”
“I have few doubts about what the Gods would think of me” Manfred the Elder said with a smile. “And I know that I have the most important and dangerous weapon that a man could possibly have with me at all times.”
Mathilda gave Manfred a puzzled look and he tapped the side of his head.
“The Japanese believe that intention is what makes something a weapon” Manfred said, “It is something that I have found to be true.”
Mathilda nodded, understanding what he was telling her.
He found talking with Mathilda to be interesting. She had lived the first decade of her life living and breathing beliefs that were old when the Romans crossed the Rhine into what would become Germany and had discovered the limits of their empire in the Teutoburg Forest. Oddly, the girl was concerned about Manfred who she felt deserved a seat in the Feast Hall of the Gods but might be denied that honor because against all odds he had lived into old age.
It was a nice distraction.
Manfred the Younger had written a letter asking his advice in handling a particularly thorny issue. It seemed that he had an American Officer who was something of a clod causing trouble, the sort of trouble that involved young Sabastian Schultz and the sort of fight that everyone would lose if it ever happened. Manfred the Elder knew that Sabastian was a hothead and it seemed that this American had made a joke that implied that an up-and-coming Class from the Wahlstatt Institution was a bunch of cowards. If anyone had reacted it would have been an International Incident regardless of the outcome.
Not that Manfred the Elder didn’t think that Sabastian didn’t need a bit of sense knocked into him, he just didn’t want it to destroy the boy’s future in the process. He really needed to get Tilo Schultz up to Silesia as well. Johann Schultz had been Manfred’s friend and business partner. The two families had been closely associated for decades and it was long past time that more formal arrangements were made.