A bell tinkled gently indicating it was time for mid morning coffee. Reluctantly Von Barner finished the paragraph he was reading and left his study for the dining room where mid-morning refreshments were awaiting.
“Good morning father” greeted Bettina “I trust the bell did not disturb your studies too much!”
“No, but I’m reading a very interesting article by Van Lenders about the Friesians and their use of forked poles to cross ditches to attack their enemies. I can help thinking a similar idea might help us to defend the Sommerland some day”
There was a knock on the door and a few moments later Von Stupenhagel was announced by a chambermaid.
“You seem shorthanded at the moment” he observed
“As you well know Otto, I sent Hans with Ilse down to Bruckewasser, now what do you have of interest?”
“Some letters, I thought it was best to deliver these myself, first one from Denmark and if I’m not mistaken it’s from Herr Jens” Von Stupenhagel bowed and passed it to Bettina, who opened it immediately.
“He‘ll be here by the middle of the month if his latest voyage is uneventful” she beamed.
“Yes, but he is treading a very dangerous path and things can upset his plans” said her father.
“If I understand correctly, the gentlemen is selling timber for masts and spares from the Baltic to the French in return for other contraband” interjected Von Stupenhagel.
“Indeed, but it is with the connivance of the British, they inspect the timber and any substandard material is placed in a hidden hold. Then the normal timber is loaded on top and delivered to Chatham for the British Navy. Then on the return leg, supposedly unknown to the British, it is delivered to Dunkirk” explained Bettina.
“Excellent, so the French use substandard timber rather than good quality timber from other sources”
“Now Sir, here is your letter from the Stadtrat!” pronounced Von Stupenhagel with a florish.
“Any idea of the contents Otto? Any rumours?”
“None sir, and I wouldn’t dare opening it!!”
“The Major opened the letter “Upon my soul”
“Father?” asked Bettina looking worried.
“I’ve been recalled to duty to command our forces defending the south of the Freistadt, with the full rank of Colonel and pension rights!” “Of course if I don’t succeed then the pension rights are worthless”
“Otto, I’ll trust that you will keep an eye on things while I’m gone, even though Captain Mannerheim will become the official commandant."
The latest French attempt to cross the river has been fought and the report will appear later this week