Carl rose from the piano bench in his studio to answer a knock at his door. “Yes, who is it?” His question was tentative and hushed as he leaned into the door.
“Carl, it’s me, Greta.”
Carl sighed with relief and quickly opened the door. Greta rushed in, snow powdering her heavy coat.
“I was worried. Were you followed?”
“Possibly, but what’s to be suspected--a sister visiting her brother. Besides, they know we rehearse here for our performance at Le Chat Noir.” She entered, putting her handbag on the piano and walked to a fireplace, the room’s only source of heat. “Have you worked out the music?”
“I’ve just finished. You’ve said the courier to be American, so I’ve used the International Morse Code. I’ve made it as short as possible.”
“What does it say?”
“German army to invade Sedan May 10.”
Greta nodded. “It has to be enough. Show me the music.”
They moved to the piano. “I couldn’t have your voice interfering with the coded notes – the message - so there will be several pauses, with just me playing the piano.” He hit several single notes, some staccato like, others of longer duration to demonstrate what he meant. “I will repeat the pattern four times between your stanzas.” He looked at her. “The cabaret will be noisy; I’m concerned some of the music won’t be heard.”
Greta moved to a window overlooking the street two stories below, pulling back the paneled drapes. Two men dressed in Gestapo uniforms at the corner looked up at her through falling snow. She drew a breath and let the curtain fall back. “Curse them,” she muttered.
“Nothing.” She moved back to the piano. “I’ll wear my most provocative costume. It always quiets the men--at least for a while.”
“I’m sorry you have to do this, Greta…”
“The Germans will soon be pushing through the Ardennes. Our brother Stephen and his comrades must be warned. Commandant Halder amusingly calls it a Blitzkrieg-–a total annihilation. My wearing a suggestive gown is a small sacrifice.”
Carl blushed, hesitant to go further. “But the way you attained this information…”
“Let God be the judge of the two evils: war or compromised morals. I did what I had to do. Halder is a fool; he’ll never suspect.” She pulled a cigarette from her purse, lighting it. “And knowing I’ve outwitted him outweighs any honorable scruples I have left.” She inhaled the smoke, letting it out over her words, “And you should feel the same for what they’ve done to our family.”
“I do. I…I thought our parents would be safe in Belgium. But this change in you…”
Her gaze became long, her voice wistful. “No one is safe from evil, Carl. No one.” She read the music and began humming unwritten words capturing the core of the melody.
“You’ve a gift, Greta.”
“My words are but pale riders upon your music.” She began humming again. “I think the melody should be in A minor and then change to major for the code. It will make an ironic contrast.” Her voice lowered. “Baron Reiner, the man who is sending the courier has warned me the code must be destroyed. He’s unaware of Halder’s current whereabouts. Our safety resides solely in us.”
“And God’s providence.”
“Safety divinely covered in deception? Can such a paradox exist in God?”
Carl ignored her statement “How are we to know this spy when he shows up at the cabaret tonight?”
“He’ll carry an ivory handled cane. After he’s seated, he’ll pull out a gold watch and nod three times.”
Later, into the session, there was a loud rap at the door. “Gestapo! Open up!”
Greta and Carl exchanged frantic looks. Quickly Greta ran to the fireplace to burn the manuscript.
Glancing back at her, Carl moved and opened the door. Two brown-uniformed soldiers greeted him.
“Heil Hitler!” One said, arm outstretched.
Carl and Greta parroted him simultaneously.
“Fräulein Maulder,” the soldier continued, “Commandant Halder directs me to tell you he’ll be at the cabaret tonight and seeks the pleasure of your company.”
Standing by the fireplace, Greta relaxed and gave an enigmatic smile. “Tell the Commandant the pleasure is all mine and I’ve even written a song for him.”
The soldiers left. Carl turned to his sister. “Halder will be there, Greta. It seems God does allow such a paradox.”
The enigmatic smile still on her face, she answered. “Then we will be in His will and we cannot disappoint Him.”
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