by Rebecca Sowell
Summary: A bombing mission over the Hungarian oilfields goes awry, and the plane co-piloted by young Lieutenant Oliver Wendell Douglas is shot down. In order to escape Nazi territory, he enlists the help of our Heroes. Based loosely on Green Acres episode #33.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hoganís Heroes nor the Green Acres characters. While some elements of the story originate in Green Acres episode #33 (which does not belong to me, either), the events and situations depicted are products of my own imagination.
Slipping through the darkness, he pulled open the barn door slowly, hopingóno, prayingóthat the hinges wouldnít squeak. A small sound, anything, could give away his presence and cost him his life.
Heíd been hiding out for a couple of days, ever since heíd bailed out west of Szeged. Luckily, their bombs had fallen on target, and the smoke from the burning Algyo oilfields and refinery had virtually obliterated any sign of his parachute. The mission, launched from the American air base at Sterparone, Italy, had been an unqualified success, that much he could tell. But then, suddenly, the plane had been wildly out of control. As co-pilot, heíd been ordered to bail out and the entire crew had jumped. Landing on the ground, he had quickly taken cover and hidden his parachute. It wouldnít do for the Jerries to find that. In survival training, that was one of the first things you were taught: Donít leave an obvious trail. But where were the other members of his crew? Heíd searched, but in the thick, choking smoke from the burning oilfields there was no sign of the rest of the men. And then, the next morning, heíd seen them from his hiding place in the tall grass beside a bridge that crossed a small stream. The Germans were prodding them along, taking them God only knew where.
Briefly, he had considered trying to help them escape, but there were just too many Germans. There had been ten of them, all armed to the teeth, and he was the only American with a weapon. No, that would never work. Heíd waited until they were out of sight. Heíd wanted to follow, but there was no cover. The grassy plains and farmland didnít afford many hiding places. His only hope to survive would be to try and make it out of the enemyís territory, although he had to admit it was a slim chance that he would be able to escape Hungary without being captured.
Luckily, he had come upon a farm. It appeared deserted, and the barn would make a good shelter for the night. Maybe he could try to get his bearings, get a little rest. He knew he was nearing the point of exhaustion. The stress of the mission, then of having to bail out, and the flight across country by foot was taking its toll on him.
The cool darkness of the empty barn welcomed him. He sniffed the airóAh! The wonderful smell of straw! There was nothing like it in the world! As his eyes adjusted to the dusky black interior of the barn, he could just make out the ladder to the hayloft. There! A perfect place to stay for the night. He climbed the ladder and flopped onto the soft hay that was striped from the moonlight slipping through the cracks in the barn wall. A small cloud of golden dust puffed around him, and he drank in the sweet aroma of the dried grasses.
Smiling a little bit, he closed his eyes, blocking out the war and imagining for a moment that he was living the life he had so often dreamed ofóthat of a farmeróand this was his hayloft, and the grassy farmlands he had just crossed were his fields, just waiting for him to hitch up the plow and turn the soil; watching the rich, dark brown of the earth that was waiting, beckoning him to plant the seeds that would grow into the acres and acres of wheat and corn that would feed Americaóno, that would feed the entire world! And here in the barn, heíd have a milch cow who would provide his little family (once he got one!) with all the milk and butter theyíd need to survive, and in the barnyard there would be a flock of chickens, and the eggs they produced would be the finest in the whole state! Yes, this was what his forefathers had intended when they landed their ships on Americaís shores! Each man strong, independent, and capable of surviving on his own, working the soil with his own two hands, standing firm and free, just a man and his family, a man and his wifeó
"Achoo!" He turned his head, suddenly realizing he wasnít alone.
"Achoo! Achoo!" Hearing the sound again, a small kitten-like sneeze, caused him to reach slowly and carefully for his sidearm. All was quiet again, yet he knew someone was in the barn with him. He looked around, trying in vain to see any movement in the dark recesses of the barn loft. Snap! He whirled to the sound, which had come from directly behind him, near where the boards of the barnís wall didnít fit too snugly, letting in a small amount of moonlight. "Achoo!"
Drawing his gun up and aiming it in the general direction of the sneeze, he spoke, "All right. Come out with your hands up." He grimaced. The line sounded so corny, like something out of a Hollywood B movie, not intimidating at all. He wouldnít blame whoever it was if they didnít surrender!
"Donít shoot!" A female voice speaking heavily accented English came from the shadows.
Surprised, he ordered, "Step closer to the light."
Slowly, gracefully, a woman appeared out of the darkness. Her white-blonde hair was adorned with bits of hay, and she looked up at her captor with a pair of the biggest, bluest eyes he had ever seen in his life! As he stood there gaping, she spoke, "You are under arrest!"
Taken aback, he replied, "Under arrest? Why, you canít arrest me! Iíve got the gun! Iím arresting you!" The nerve of this crazy woman! What was she thinking? Why, if she werenít so darn beautiful, he would have a lesson or two to teach her!
"Achoo!" The woman sneezed again, and looked up, blinking.
Automatically, the man spoke, "God bless you. Are you all right?"
The blonde woman smiled a little, tilted her head a few degrees and answered, "Yes. I just get allergic smelling-hay."
"So, what were you doing in the barn? Do you live on this farm?" He asked the woman, as they sat in the loft, eating a meal made from the items carried in his survival pack. After a few moments at a standoff, during which time he had managed to convince her that he was not going to hurt her, his hunger pangs had gotten the better of him and heíd informed her that he planned to have a snack. She could join him, or not, it was up to her.
She answered, "No, I am out hiding." The woman answered, as she stuffed in a bite of cracker.
The American man watched her eat, enjoying the way her tongue licked the crumbs from her lips. "You mean hiding out?" He corrected.
"Out where?" She asked, wide eyed.
He frowned, not sure if he understood her question. "Here. In the barn."
"What is here in the barn?" She queried, looking around them at the open space of the loft. "I donít see anything but straw."
He opened his mouth to answer her, but thought better of it, instead deciding to change the tone of the conversation by introducing himself properly. "My name is Lieutenant Oliver Wendell Douglas, United States Army Air Corps. Whatís yours?"
She smiled, and answered, "Lisa Gronyitz."
"Well, Miss Gronyitz, itís nice to meet you. But why are you hiding?" Douglas asked between bites.
"I have been working with the Hungarian Underground. My family lived about one hundred kilometers from here, to the east, but they have fled the area. I became separated from them, and was hoping to get to Switzerland." The woman replied. She was intent on her meal, and answered without looking up.
"Fled the area? Why? Were there a lot of Allied bombing raids near your home?" Douglas tried to think of a reason for her familyís flight. He knew that many civilians were fleeing from the Allied bombs, and he had also heard that the Red Army was advancing from the East at a rather quick pace.
"No. The Germans have been locking all the Gypsy families into camps. They came for us one night, and we had to go." She told him, with a flicker of sadness in her eyes that hadnít been there before.
Douglas frowned, remarking, "Gypsy? You certainly donít look like any Gypsy I ever saw!"
"Well, you donít look like any American I ever saw, either!" Lisa cried indignantly, rising to her feet. "Besides, how do I know you arenít a spy?"
"I told you Iím an American! I was shot downóIím even in uniform!" Douglas replied, also standing. "How many Americans have you ever seen, anyway?"
Lisa huffed and sputtered, "I-I-Iíve seen enough Americans! I know that they are supposed to carry proof with them!"
Douglas looked surprised, and answered, "Like what? Isnít thisó" he waved his arm in an outward motion, encompassing the scant picnic feast the two had been enjoying, with its English-labeled food wrappers, as well as his uniform, pack and gearó"proof enough?"
She looked him straight in the eye, and lifted her chin. "Where are the nylon stockings?" Lisa folded her arms and tapped her foot, waiting for his answer.
Not for the first time since they had met, Lieutenant Douglas was speechless. This was the most exasperating woman he had ever met! She was alternately friendly, suspicious, demanding, confusing, and above all, beautiful. He wasnít sure how to answer her, but gave it a try. "Why, thatís ridiculous. Why would I have nylon stockings?"
Lisa looked uncomfortable, obviously finding his logic disconcerting. "Well, that is what I want for my proof. You had better find some. Maybe you should look in your pack again." She lifted her chin in the direction of his gear.
Douglas shook his head, saying, "I donít have to look in my pack, I can tell you that I donít have any nylon stockings with me. But I will tell you what I am going to do. I am going to pack up my things, and head out. Itís been nice meeting you, Miss Gronyitz, but I think I need to be moving on now." He turned and began collecting the remains of their meal, as well as the wrappers.
"I am afraid you canít leave, Lieutenant Douglas." Lisa stated in a firm tone.
With surprise in his voice, Douglas said, "Why not?"
She answered, "Because you are my prisoner." She planted her hands on her hips and her feet firmly on the floor.
"But you said you were with the Underground! That makes us both on the same side, doesnít it?" Douglas stammered, searching for a way to reason with this most unreasonable woman. "Besides, weíve already been over this. You donít have a weapon, and I do. Youíre in no position to hold anyone prisoner!"
Lisa looked suddenly defiant. "You are going to just leave me here? Alone? If we are on the same side, you must take me with you!" Taking a deep breath, in a more pleasant tone she added as an afterthought, "And Lieutenant Douglasó"
"Yes?" Douglas answered, still bewildered by the events that were transpiring.
"You may call me Lisa."
"Colonel, if what the Underground gave us is accurate, those troops are going to pass less than twenty kilometers from Hammelburg." Sergeant James Kinchloe remarked as he studied the map that was spread out on the desk in front of him. The other men crowded around, Corporal Louis LeBeau, Corporal Peter Newkirk, and Sergeant Andrew Carter, looked to their commanding officer, Colonel Robert Hogan, with smiles on their faces.
"Men, this could be one of the most opportune moments of the war for us." Hogan leaned over, indicating a point on the map. "With the Germans marching their troops so near, we can give London the exact coordinates for their location, andó"
"And Kablooee!" Carter interrupted with a grin. As their explosives expert, the American sergeant was captivated by anything that went "boom".
Hogan looked at the young sergeant and smiled. "Yeah. Kablooee." He stood and folded the map. Turning to Kinchloe, he ordered, "Kinch, radio London with the information we have so far. If all goes well, in a very short amount of time, the glorious Third Reich will be missing one of its armies."
"Will do." Kinchloe answered. Like the other men gathered in the small room that served as Colonel Hoganís private quarters, he knew that each time they were able to provide assistance to the Allied war effort, it made the end of the war that much closer to becoming a reality. Although they were officially prisoners of war interred in LuftStalag 13, a German prisoner of war camp for Allied airmen, the men serving under the senior prisoner of war, Colonel Robert E. Hogan, played a much greater role in the war than most other POWs. They ran a highly efficient, successful escape and rescue operation, as well as serving as an espionage and sabotage unit. Because of the ineptness of the Kommandant of Stalag 13, Colonel Wilhelm Klink, their operation had gone virtually undetected by the Germans for nearly a year and a half now.
As the men left the private room at the North end of the barracks, the outer door swung open to admit a chubby, pleasant-faced man dressed in the uniform of a German sergeant major. Schultz was the guard assigned to Barracks 2, and although a member of the German army, he was not a fervent loyalist to Hitlerís cause. His main goal for the war seemed to be to keep a low profile and stay alive. Schultz dusted the flakes of snow off his sleeves, and passed along his message, "Colonel Hogan, the Kommandant requests that you come to his office immediately."
"What is it, Schultz? The Führer calling for advice again?" Hogan needled the rotund sergeant good naturedly.
Newkirk, with his biting British wit, couldnít resist adding, "Iíll give Ďim some advice. Give up while you still can!"
The men in the barracks laughed as Schultz muttered, "Jolly Joker!" Shaking his head in exasperation, the German turned to leave the building, followed by Colonel Hogan.
Once outside, Hogan walked across the bare earth of the prison yard to the Kommandantís office. Fortunately, it wasnít quite cold enough for the snow that was falling to stick to the ground. Heating fuel was always scarce in the camp, but as long as the temperature outside didnít dip too low, the prisoners were not in danger of frostbite.
Inside the small entryway, Hilda, the attractive blonde secretary to the camp commander, was seated at her desk, typing a letter. Hogan approached her from behind, leaning down to nuzzle her neck. "Ummm. New perfume?" He asked, as she smiled and turned to him.
Hilda answered, "You should know. Itís from the bottle you gave me last week." She smiled flirtatiously at the handsome American colonel.
"I thought so." Hogan smiled back at her, then winked as he went into the Kommandantís office unannounced.
Colonel Klink looked up as the American officer walked through the doorway. "You wanted to see me, sir?" Hogan asked, saluting casually, then hooking his thumbs in the pockets of his leather bomber jacket.
"Hogan," The German officer began, "Iím ordering all prisoners be confined to barracks for two days. Anyone disobeying will be shot, no questions asked. Dismissed." Klink was formal and brief with his order, and it was apparent that he had no intention of elaborating further on the instructions he had just given.
Suspicious, Hogan narrowed his eyes and tried to get a look at the paperwork the Kommandant was laboring over. Seeing nothing that appeared noteworthy, he asked, "Whatís this about, sir?" Although the German officer was under no obligation to provide him with answers, Hogan always tried anyway. This time, however, Klink was not forthcoming with any information.
"Hogan, frankly, itís none of your business. Orders are orders. Now, I donít have time for your questions, so leave." Klink replied without raising his head from the papers that were spread out on his desk.
Hogan was about to continue plying Klink with questions when the door to the Kommandantís office opened. Hogan looked over to see Hilda standing in the doorway, her left hand resting on the doorknob. He raised one eyebrow, giving her a small secretive smile. She blushed prettily and looked away, then spoke to Colonel Klink, "Kommandant, the telephone call you asked me to make to Major Hochstetterís office has gone through now." Glancing back at Hogan, she continued, "The Major is on the line." Turning to go back into her office, she looked over her shoulder lingeringly at Hogan, who returned her gaze. With a satisfied smile, Hilda closed the door behind her.
The kommandant reached for the telephone that was on the corner of his desk, but realized Hogan remained in the office. "Hogan," he said, annoyed, "Do you mind?"
Hogan smiled innocently and sat down in the chair that was reserved for guests. "Of course not, Kommandant. Donít let me bother you." Leaning forward, he reached for the cigar humidor.
The Kommandant slapped the box closed, nearly catching Hoganís fingers before the American could jerk his hand back. His face twisting in exasperation, Klink exclaimed, "Get out!" as he gestured toward the doorway.
"Ok, ok. Awfully touchy today, arenít we?" Hogan answered, rising from the chair and exiting the room. In the secretaryís office once again, Hogan walked swiftly toward the outer door and reached for the doorknob, ignoring the woman seated at the typewriter.
"Good-" Hilda began, as Hogan closed the door behind him, "bye." She finished to the empty room.
Back in the barracks, Hogan hurried to his private quarters, where his men were already gathered around the small table located in the center of the room. Motioning toward the partially dismantled coffeepot with a movement of his hand, he asked, "Whatís he saying?"
Newkirk shook his head slightly, while Kinchloe answered for the men, "Not much yet." The men turned their attention back to the appliance, which was secretly wired to a microphone in Klinkís office. The Kommandantís voice was clear through the speaker, but as Kinchloe had indicated, Klink didnít seem to have any information.
"But Major Hochstetter, why will you be needing Stalag 13 guards? Weíre shorthanded as it is. And our supplies are rationed, as well. We just donít have any to spare. Surely the Gestapo can provideó" Klink argued ineffectually in his whiny tone. "Yes, of course, I understand. Yes. Yes, Iíll have the guards there tomorrow morning." As the Kommandant hung up the telephone, the prisoners could hear him mutter through the speaker, "I canít stand that man."
""Eís not alone there," Newkirk remarked as Colonel Hogan disconnected the cord to the coffeepot, then replaced the basket and lid.
In light of the Gestapo majorís request for a contingent of guards from the camp, the reason for the prisoners barracks restriction became clear. Hogan spoke to the men, filling them in on Klinkís orders that everyone be confined to barracks for two days. When that was met with grumbles and groans, he offered in a patient tone, "Now, donít complain too much. Weíre going to be busy enough. With the campís guards doing duty for Major Hochstetter, thatíll leave the camp understaffed. Itíll be a good time to catch up on a few things that weíve needed to do for a while now."
"Like clear out that collapsed section of tunnel 8." Kinchloe remarked. This was met with more grumbles. Although a necessary task, digging underground was not a favorite pastime for the prisoners.
Slapping Carter on the back, Hogan grinned at the men. "Itís a dirty job, but somebodyís got to do it."
Lieutenant Douglas leaned tiredly against the tree trunk. It had been a long day, and it didnít show any signs of getting better. During the time he and Miss Lisa Gronyitz had been traveling together, they had narrowly escaped Nazi patrols several times. His original plan was to approach the Allied lines by the closest route possible, which appeared to be across Austria to the Italian border, but Douglas knew that this would be impossible without transportation. Finally, outside a small dry grocerís near Buda, after traveling on foot for miles, he had spied the old, run-down car. An elderly couple pulled up outside the store, slowly climbed out of the vehicle and went inside the shop.
Douglas looked at Lisa and smiled. She whispered, "Are you going to hots wire the car?"
"You mean steal it? Of course not. I was going to offer to buy it. Iíve got this gold money clipó" he pulled out the fine piece of ornamentation, complete with diamond studs in the shape of a dollar sign. "I couldnít steal from them! Iíve never stolen anything in my life!"
"But I thought you said you were a lawyer!" Lisa cried out in dismay, remembering their earlier conversation about their civilian lives before the war.
Douglas sputtered, "Well, I was. I am, I mean! Now, see here, I object to tható" He broke off as she shushed him. He looked back to see another car pull up at the shop.
"Gestapo." She whispered. Douglas felt his heart skip a beat. Their earlier sightings of German troops had all been regular soldiers. This was his first glimpse of the dreaded secret police. They watched as the man went inside the shop, returning less than a minute later to climb back into his car and drive off.
Douglas exhaled. He hadnít even realized he had been holding his breath. As Lisa scrambled out of the underbrush, heading toward the empty automobile, Douglas grabbed her arm. "Where do you think youíre going?" He asked.
"Iím going to steal the car." She answered, looking pointedly at his fingers, which were tightened around her wrist.
"Thatís much too dangerous for a woman. Iím sure if we wait for the old couple to come outside, we can reason with them to sell us the car. Or maybe we can pay them to drive us somewhere." Lieutenant Douglas explained.
Lisa stared at him for a moment as if he were daft. Reaching a decision, she spoke with all the authority she could muster, "Iím stealing the car. As my prisoner, you must cooperate with me fully, or suffer the consequences. Now, Lieutenant, what will it be?"
Douglas shook his head in frustration. "Now, youíre not going to start that again, are you? Iíve told you, Iím not your prisoner. Weíre on the same side!"
Lisa raised one eyebrow and cocked her head to the side, looking up at him through narrowed eyes. "Then prove it!"
Rolling his eyes, Douglas asked, "Is this about those nylon stockings again? Because if it is, Iíve already told youó"
"If we are on the same side, then help me steal the car!" Lisa interrupted, turning wide eyes up to his face.
"Well, Ióoh, all right, come on!" Douglas gave in, finding her plea hard to resist. He pulled the woman along with him toward the car. Raising the hood, he began searching for wires that looked like they might belong to the ignition. Behind him, Lisa walked to the driverís side door. Opening it and reaching up, she pulled down the visor. A set of keys fell onto the seat below. With a smile, she sat down behind the wheel and started the car engine. Douglas jumped back, surprised at the sudden movement of the motor. "What theó"
"Come along, Lieutenant!" Lisa called from the car window. "Letís go!"
Night had fallen when the American officer and Hungarian woman reached the Austrian border. Through the darkness on the road ahead, the torches of a checkpoint were clearly visible.
"Oh, drat!" Douglas exclaimed. "Weíll never make it through that way. Weíll have to try to go another route." Just then, he noticed the gas gauge was approaching empty. The little old couple who owned the car had kept an extra can of gasoline in the trunk, but it was long gone now, used on their cross-country trek.
"Weíre going to have to get fuel somewhere, too. Maybe this wasnít such a great idea after all." Douglas mumbled under his breath.
"Look! Over there!" Lisa cried, pointing at a farm road that was barely visible in the night. "Turn there, to the right."
Douglas swung the car onto the dirt road and continued driving. "Where does this go?" He asked.
Lisa shrugged. "I donít know. Why?" She kept her eyes on the road ahead.
The American man looked at his companion with a confused expression on his face. "I thought you knew where this road leads, you sounded so sure when you told me to turn here."
Lisa turned to him and smiled. "Oh, Iíve never been to this part of Hungary before. Our family traveled north into Germany a few times, but never to the west like this."
They rode in silence for several miles, Lisa appearing oblivious to Douglasí concern. As they approached a farmhouse, the automobile began sputtering and finally coughed to a stop. Douglas guided the car to the grassy edge of the road and spoke, "I guess weíre on foot from here. Come on." He stepped out of the car and grabbed the cloth jacket and hat he had found in the back seat. Knowing that these probably belonged to the elderly gentleman they had stolen the car from, he pushed his guilty feelings to the back of his mind. This was war, after all, he reasoned.
Lisa called from the passenger side of the vehicle, "But why donít we just get more gasoline?"
At her puzzled tone, Douglas shook his head. Didnít the woman understand anything? "How do you propose we do that? Just walk up to the next house and ask if they have any gas?" He laughed a little at the absurdity of his statement.
"Why not?" she answered.
Douglas laughed a little more. "Why not, indeed?" He approached the woman while shrugging into the jacket, which he intended to use to cover his military uniform. "Miss, as soon as I walk up to that house and open my mouth, everyoneís going to know I am an American. Now, unless we happen to get lucky and find someone who doesnít like the Nazis, Iím likely to get shot, or at the very least captured. And the way my luck has gone lately, Iím not willing to take that chance. So I say, Iím walking." At that, Douglas took a few steps down the road.
"Wait!" Lisa called, running after him. "What if I ask for the gasoline? What if you donít talk?"
Douglas considered her idea. It just might work, he reasoned. At her hopeful expression, he gave in and answered, "All right. But if anything goes wrong, step back out of the way. Things could get nasty." He reached to his side and placed his hand upon the butt of his gun.
Lisaís eyes widened, and she nodded silently. The pair approached the farmhouse that was back off the road a short distance. She walked boldly up to the front door and knocked. A farmer, who appeared to be in his late fifties, answered the door. His wife peered over his shoulder at their visitors, as Lisa began speaking in Hungarian. Douglas hung back in the shadows, hoping that the farm couple didnít find his attire suspicious. The farmer nodded a few times at Lisaís words, then gestured toward Douglas, obviously asking a question. Lisa looked back at Douglas and then continued to speak to the couple in her native tongue. The farmerís wife began making "tsk, tsk" sounds, and pushed past her husband to put her arm around Lisaís shoulders in a comforting gesture. Douglasí grip on his pistol tightened when the farmer disappeared into the back of the house, only to emerge a moment later with a large can. Stepping onto the porch, he handed it to Douglas, who accepted it without speaking.
Once out of earshot, Douglas laughed and said, "What did you tell those people to get them to part with this? Itís got to be more precious than gold to them!"
Lisa laughed along, and answered, "I told them you were my husband and you had been injured in the war. We are trying to get home to my parents."
"What was the man asking you?" Douglas wanted to know.
"He just said that you didnít look like you had been injured." Lisa replied.
Still chuckling, Douglas asked, "What did you tell him?"
"I told them that your injuries werenít obvious to anyone but me." Lisa laughed even harder, saying, "I told them that you would never father children."
"Oh." Douglas said, as his laughter died down. "Oh." Suddenly not finding the situation amusing anymore, he said, "Come on. Letís go."
Later the next day, it became apparent to Douglas that his original plan to cross into Allied territory via the Austrian-Italian border would never work. The Germans were concentrating their efforts on fortifying the front lines, and there were too many Jerries guarding the roads to take a chance on making it back to friendly soil.
Douglas slapped the top of the steering wheel in frustration, and sighed, reaching a decision. "That leaves Plan B."
Lisa looked at him questioningly, and asked, "What is Plan B?"
Douglas answered, "We head north."
Twisting in her seat to face him and with obvious alarm, Lisa exclaimed, "North? Into Germany? Are you mad? Isnít there a Plan C we could try instead?"
Remembering the words of his squadron commander, Lt. Colonel Hathaway, during the briefing prior to takeoff, Douglas knew that if any of their planes were shot down in enemy territory, all the men had been instructed to first try to make it to Italy to rejoin their unit. If that failed or wasnít practical, the alternate plan was to seek out a particular man. Lt. Colonel Hathaway hadnít offered any details, but had told the men that things would be clear later. And although Douglas didnít understand why, and he didnít exactly know how he would do it, their C.O. had been adamant about their orders: Get to Stalag 13, a prisoner of war camp run by the Germans for Allied fliers, and find Hogan.
Whoever that was.
End Part I
"Thereís Ďardly anyone guarding the place." Newkirk remarked in whispered tones.
"Yeah, makes me wish we had brought some dynamite with us tonight." Carter added with his usual exuberance for anything that would explode. "Four or five grenades, maybe a little nitroó"
"I get the idea, Andrew." Newkirk interrupted his companion before he could go any further. Still puzzled by the lack of German guards, the Englishman said, "Letís take a look Ďround the back side, see whatís what there." Carter nodded his agreement, and the two slipped back into the brush that grew thickly around the edge of the forest. Peering around the trees, the scene before the men amazed them even more.
The munitions storage facility was usually heavily guarded, but on this night a lone sentry was seen walking the perimeter fence. "Weíd better Ďead back to camp. Somethingís amiss Ďere." Newkirk stated matter-of-factly. The two men left the way they had come, through the bushes, into the woods, under cover of darkness. Dressed head to toe in black clothing and with black smudges on their faces, they vanished into the darkness.
"Shhhh!" Lieutenant Douglas hissed as he clapped his hand over Lisaís mouth. When he was certain that she would remain quiet, he removed his hand, and whispered, "There goes another patrol. Thatís the fifth one thatís passed since weíve been hiding here." He knew there must be something important up ahead.
They had finally made it to the outskirts of Hammelburg, and if his memory of the briefing map served him correctly, Stalag 13 was just to the northeast of the town. The hay wagon he and Lisa had ridden in for most of the morning had finally reached its destination a few kilometers south of town. They had sneaked off into the woods when the farmer had brought the wagon to a halt, and for the better part of the afternoon had been on foot. Douglas had hoped to follow this road to reach the prison camp, but it appeared to be too crowded with soldiers.
"Iím going to take a look over that ridge back there and see if I can see another route around the town." Douglas said, and waiting until Lisa nodded her understanding, he crawled on his belly to the edge of the hillside. His eyes widened at the sight before him. Below the hill, and as far as he could see, were soldiers. But something didnít look quite right. He scanned the encampment, taking in the Germans in their overcoats and shiny jackboots, each soldier with his rifle at the ready as he guarded the troops in the camp.
Thatís it, thought Douglas. Why are the Germans guarding their own troops? Then he understood what was wrong with the scene: the majority of the troops were American, with a sprinkling of uniforms from the various Allied countries, as well. "A prison camp." Douglas whispered to himself. But surely this wasnít Stalag 13? From the eyewitness descriptions other servicemen had given back at the airbase, and from the training films he had watched, he knew that the German stalags usually had electrified wire, as well as dogs, guard towers and all the other standard features of a prison. They werenít just camped out in the open like this, with fire pits and makeshift shelters. Turning, he inched his way back to where Lisa waited.
"Weíll circle around through the woods to the east, then north," Douglas said, when he rejoined the Hungarian woman. Grabbing her hand, he led her off into the darkness.
"Shhh, Carter. Stop making so much noise. Youíll Ďave a patrol down on us for sure." Newkirk chastened, as he heard the young American sergeant noisily plodding through the dry leaves behind him.
"That wasnít me." Carter answered. "Not this time." He grinned, pleased that, for once, he wasnít the guilty party.
Annoyed, Newkirk hissed, "Well if it wasnít you, then who the bloody Ďell was it?"
When Carter didnít answer, Newkirk turned around to speak to his friend face to face. Finding himself looking into the barrel of a pistol, he raised his hands in surrender.
"Colonel, theyíre back!" The Frenchman, LeBeau, rushed into the radio room where Hogan and Kinchloe were flipping through a codebook.
At LeBeauís announcement, both men turned to look at the opening to the tunnel branch that led in from the outside of camp. Carter came into the room first, followed by Newkirk.
"Howíd it go? Everything all right?" Hogan frowned as Newkirk and Carter hesitated. He knew the two men too well, and it was obvious that something unexpected had occurred during the scouting mission. "Well, what is it?"
"Well, sir, we brought back some guests." Newkirk ventured, as Lisa peered around the tunnel support behind the two men, her eyes wide with astonishment at the scene in front of her.
Grinning widely, Carter interjected, "You mean they brought us back!" The young sergeant snickered a little as he remembered their shock at having been taken by surprise by the American lieutenant and his associate, the lovely Hungarian woman. Ignoring Newkirkís silencing glare, Carter added, "Right, Peter?"
With a look of annoyed exasperation, Hogan exclaimed, "Newkirk! You didnítónot again!" That was all they needed! It wouldnít be the first time Newkirk had decided to rescue a female that he considered to be in jeopardy, and this one certainly seemed to fit the profile to a tee: young, blonde and very attractive.
A masculine voice came from behind the Englishman. "Colonel Hogan, I presume?"
Surprised, Hogan looked over Newkirkís shoulder for the source of the voice. A uniformed American airman stepped out of the shadows and snapped to a salute. Hogan returned the salute, and then extending his right hand for a handshake, replied, "Yes. And you are?"
"Lieutenant Oliver Wendell Douglas, 817th Bomb Squadron, 483rd Bomb Group. Iím very glad to see you, sir." Douglas smiled widely in greeting his fellow American officer.
"We found them wandering in the woods outside camp, sir. Said Ďe was told before Ďe was shot down that if Ďe ended up in Nazi territory, Ďe should find Stalag 13." Newkirk interjected.
Hogan and Kinchloe exchanged glances. Deciding to prod a bit, Hogan casually remarked, "483rd? Still flying out of Hampshire?"
"Why, no sir." Douglas answered. "Weíre based in Sterparone, in Italy, now."
"And your commander? How is old Stevenson? He still as mean as ever?" Hogan chuckled as he asked the question.
"I donít know any Stevenson, sir. My commander is Lieutenant Colonel Aubrus Hathaway. Real nice fellow. Reminds me a lot of my father." Douglas replied.
Seemingly satisfied, Hogan jerked his head in Lisaís direction. "Whoís that, Douglas?"
With a huge smile, Douglas answered, "Colonel Hogan, meet Miss Lisa Gronyitz. Sheís with the Hungarian Underground. She helped me to escape Hungary after I was shot down. Sheís been forced to flee her home."
Hogan frowned, and asked, "You mean to tell me you came all the way here from Hungary? How the devil did you manage that?"
Before Douglas could reply, Lisa scrambled forward and extended her hand in greeting. "Hello, Colonel. Itís so very nice to meet you." Lisa turned a charming smile on the American officer, who suddenly looked quite interested in her.
"Iím very pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Gronyitz." Taking her hand, Hogan lifted it to his lips without breaking eye contact with Lisa. She watched him, mesmerized by his good looks and charm, until Douglas cleared his throat loudly. Seeming to snap out of a trance, Lisa blinked twice, then looked quickly at Lieutenant Douglas, who appeared displeased by the interaction between the American colonel and the Hungarian woman. The look in Lieutenant Douglasí eyes, however, caused her to smile. Stepping back, she linked her arm with Douglasí, finding his startled look of pleasant surprise slightly amusing.
Hogan watched the pair closely, and noticed the expression on Douglasí face when the woman took his arm. So thatís the way it goes, huh? He thought to himself. With the hint of a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, the colonel turned to the Frenchman. "LeBeau, see if you can find something for them to eat. Douglas, weíll talk more after you have some food in you. Miss Gronyitz, Sergeant Carter will show you to a place where you can have some privacy to freshen up, if you want."
"Thank you, Colonel." Lisa answered gratefully, then turned to follow Carter from the large earthen room into one of the tunnel branches.
Lieutenant Douglas watched with concern until Lisa was out of eyesight, then turning to Hogan, said, "Maybe I should go make sureó"
"Sheís fine, Douglas. Thereís no one I would trust more with the lady than Carter." Hogan interrupted, slapping a hand on Douglasí shoulder. "Come on, letís see about that chow."
"Yes, sir." Douglas replied, glancing once more over his shoulder as he followed Hogan up the ladder.
Back in the tunnel, Newkirk turned to Kinchloe. "Right good looking bird, she is."
"Better stay away from her, Peter. Looks to me like the lieutenant has his eye on her." Kinchloe answered, as he shook his head and turned back to the radio.
Newkirk pondered that for a moment, then replied, "Pity." Turning, he also climbed the ladder into the barracks above.
"Mademoiselle, dinner is served!" With a flourish, LeBeau whisked the cover from the dish he had prepared.
Lisaís eyes lit up at the food before her, the first real meal she had enjoyed in days. "Why, Corporal, this looks marvelous! Did you prepare it yourself?"
LeBeau, clad in chefís hat and apron, took the compliment as his due and replied, "But of course."
Taking her fork, Lisa tasted the food. Closing her eyes in sheer bliss, she savored the bite for a moment, then remarked, "I have always wished I knew how to cook wonderful meals such as this." As an idea suddenly popped into her head, she asked, "Corporal, do you think you could teach me?"
With a self-confident smirk, LeBeau answered, "I can teach anyone to cook. After all, we Frenchmen have a way in the kitchen."
Smiling in delight, Lisa exclaimed, "Oh, this is wonderful! I can hardly wait to begin our lessons!"
Kinchloe tapped lightly on the door to Colonel Hoganís private quarters. A few minutes earlier, he had received the message they had been waiting for from London. As Hogan bade him enter, Kinchloe passed a small slip of blue paper to the colonel, then waited in silence as his commander read the words he had transcribed.
Looking up, Hogan remarked, "So, Douglas is on the up and up. I thought so." As he stood and walked to the single shuttered window, Hogan continued, "Where is he now?"
Kinchloeís mouth curved upward in a smile. "Last I saw, he was explaining the noble and patriotic elements of farming to Carter and Bailey in there." Kinchloe jerked his head toward the main barracks to indicate the direction he had seen the men.
"Yeah, Iíve noticed heís a little, shall we say, long-winded?" Hogan thoughtfully rubbed his chin with his hand and raised one eyebrow as he mused, "Farming, huh? I never would have taken Douglas for a farmer."
Kinchloe chuckled, "Oh, no sir. Heís a lawyer, through and through. He just wants to be a farmer." He hesitated for a moment, then continued, "You know, itís funny. Every time he starts in with one of his speeches about farming and the American way, I could almost swear I hearó"
When Kinchloe frowned and stopped in the middle of his statement, Hogan asked, "Hear what?" The colonel had a curious look on his face as he awaited the sergeantís answer. "Kinch?"
Kinchloe shook his head almost imperceptibly. "Oh, nothing, sir. Itís nothing at all." How could he explain to Colonel Hogan that each time Lieutenant Douglas launched into one of his enthusiastic narratives about farming, Kinchloe thought he heard music. A fife, to be exact. Playing Yankee Doodle Dandy. Taking a deep breath and shaking his head again, Kinchloe repeated, "Nothing."
"This countryís backbone rests on the farmer. Men like you" Lieutenant Douglas pointed to the deeply enthralled Carter to emphasize his words, "are the foundation of the very freedom for which we fight here, today." A small crowd of young airmen was seated around the mess table in the center of the common room, their attention held by the American lieutenant as he spoke passionately, conveying his feelings eloquently to his fellow soldiers.
Carter looked surprised, and squeaked, "Me?"
"Yes, Sergeant. You. To paraphrase the great Abraham Lincoln, ĎThose who profess to favor freedom but are unwilling to fight for it, are the same men who want crops but are unwilling to plow the ground.í The very seeds of liberty were planted by simple men, by men who tilled the soil, by farmers. ĎBy the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to Aprilís breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stoodó"
"And fired the shot heard round the world." Hogan finished, approaching the group from behind as he exited his private quarters, followed closely by Kinchloe. "Are you an admirer of Emerson, Lieutenant?"
Turning, Douglas came to attention and answered, "More so of the events behind the words, sir."
Hogan stopped him, saying, "At ease. We donít stand on formalities here."
"Thank you, sir." Douglas replied, relaxing.
Looking around, Hogan remarked, "Youíve got quite an audience here, Douglas."
Douglas looked slightly abashed, answering, "Yes, sir. Iíve been told that I have a tendency to get a little carried away at times."
At this gross understatement, Kinchloe rolled his eyes, as Hogan hurriedly said, "Yeah, well, why donít we go ahead and have our talk, if you donít mind me interrupting?"
"Of course, sir." The lieutenant followed the colonel into the private room, remaining standing while Hogan closed the door.
"Have a seat, Lieutenant." Hogan indicated a straight chair with a sweep of his hand. When Douglas took the seat he was offered, Hogan continued, "Why donít you fill me in on your trip here? Anything you saw, any problems you encountered..."
"Yes, sir. Well, after I was shot down, I was unable to rejoin my crew. Theyíd already been apprehended by the Nazis, so to avoid capture, I hid under a bridgeÖ" Douglas began to relate the story of his adventures of the past few days. After seemingly endless questions by Hogan, Douglas finally completed his account with the encounter with Newkirk and Carter outside the tunnel entrance. "I didnít know how to contact you, sir, and I wasnít even sure why. I only knew that we had been instructed to try to reach this camp, if at all possible, and that things would be explained later."
As Hogan opened his mouth to speak, there was a knock on the door. "Come in." he called from where he leaned casually against the wall with his arms folded.
The door opened to admit Kinchloe, who spoke, "Sorry to interrupt sir. Weíve received another message. I thought youíd like to see it as soon as possible." The radioman handed the slip of paper to his commanding officer, then awaited further instructions.
Hogan read the message in silence, finally looking up and saying, "The Underground confirms theyíve arrived in the area." Walking across to his locker, he opened the door and removed a large roll of paper, which he unfolded to reveal a map of the area. He spread it out on the desk, smoothing the edges. When the corners still refused to lay flat, Hogan looked around and grabbed a coffee mug and a book that were lying nearby to weight the edges. "According to that message, the encampment should be right about here," he said, pointing to a specific area to the east of Hammelburg. "Kinch, radio London and let them know that weíll reconnoiter the camp ourselves, just to be certain of what weíve got, then they can send in the bombers."
"Will do, sir." Kinchloe answered.
Douglas, still seated at the end of the table, asked with puzzlement, "Colonel, isnít that the POW camp thatís on the other side of Hammelburg?"
Hogan looked up from the map and answered, "POW camp? No, this is a German military encampment. The Underground out of Cologne sent word ahead that the Krauts were moving the 14th Infantry this direction, and weíre going to help make sure they donít give our boys any more trouble."
Douglas shook his head. "Begging your pardon, sir, but I passed that camp on the way here, earlier this evening. Itís not Jerries. That camp is full of mostly American soldiers. POWs."
Looking at the American lieutenant with narrowed eyes, Hogan asked, "Youíre sure? You were close enough to recognize the uniforms?"
"Why, yes sir. We almost walked up on them. Iím absolutely positive." Douglas answered.
"Thatís the problem with so many civilians in the network." Hogan muttered. Beginning to pace the small room, he remarked, "That must be Hochstetterís reason for commandeering Klinkís guards and the extra camp rations." Turning to Kinchloe, he said, "Letís get a couple of guys out there tonight to check things out." Glancing at his watch, he continued, "Itís still early. They should have time to get there and back before roll call. Letís get moving."
"Non, Mademoiselle!" LeBeau cried, waving his hands in frustration and finishing with a chain of French that was obviously uncomplimentary to his studentís cooking abilities.
Lisa, wearing one of LeBeauís spare aprons, backed away a small distance from the potbellied stove. Thus far, all their culinary creations had ended in a disastrous pile of what could only be characterized as slopófood that LeBeau was certain was unfit for human consumption. Despite the little Frenchmanís assurances that he could teach anyone to cook, he was beginning to come to the realization that it was possible that Lisa Gronyitz might be the one individual on the planet with absolutely no talent whatsoever for food preparation.
"But I followed your directions, Corporal. These hot cakes look all right, donít they?" She picked up a flat, round, hard piece of freshly cooked dough. Turning it over, she examined it closely, obviously proud of her creation.
LeBeau reached out and grabbed the bread from her hands. Through clenched teeth, he said, "It is not a hot cake. It is supposed to be a crepe. Look at thisó" LeBeau tossed the hard chunk of dough across the room, just as the door to Hoganís quarters opened.
Kinchloe, who had been watching the proceedings with amusement, called out in alarm to his unsuspecting commander, "Colonel! Incoming!"
Hogan raised his arms to protect his face, ducking just as the cement-like dough hit the door frame above his head with a sharp Ďthwackí, sending splinters of wood cascading down on him. As he cautiously opened his eyes, LeBeau said sheepishly, "Sorry, mon colonel. Miss Gronyitz is having a cooking lesson." The diminutive Frenchman glared at the Hungarian woman.
"Colonel, would you like to try one? Theyíre crepes." Lisa proudly indicated the stack of dough circles.
Hogan smiled faintly, and replied, "No, I donít think my teeth are up to it. I think Iíll pass this time. Maybe the next batch." As he crossed the room to the bunk bed that served as the entrance to the tunnel system, he popped off a quick, informal salute and added, "Donít let me interrupt your lesson. Carry on, LeBeau."
"Oui, Colonel." LeBeau said dejectedly.
Descending the ladder into the tunnel, Hogan heard Lisa remark, "Corporal, how long has Colonel Hogan had problems with his teeth?"
Below ground, in the tunnel system, the colonel reflected on the mission he and his men had undertaken the previous night. He knew it had been a complete success. After the discovery that the information received from Underground sources had not been entirely accurate, he had sent out a team to verify the status of the camp. Using the information provided by Newkirk and Carter, as well as Lieutenant Douglas, Hogan had decided to hit the lightly guarded munitions storage facility, instead of calling London to request a bombing run against the non-existent German army camp. While Major Hochstetter had reassigned a large portion of the available military personnel in the area to guarding the POWs that were being marched cross-country, his actions had left several targets virtually unprotected. It was a strategic blunder on the part of the Gestapo officer, and Hogan knew that the Major would not soon forget the act of sabotage that followed. But, even if Hochstetter increased his investigative work in the area, Hogan had to smile remembering the fantastic fireworks show made by the munitions warehouse as it was blown to smithereens against the starry, moonlit night. Yeah, he thought, it was worth it.
The sound of footsteps, then voices approaching his position snapped Hogan out of his reverie. Looking toward the radio room, he saw Baker seated at the radio, his attention on the two men conversing a few feet away.
"If youíre sure itís all right. I mean, you did see Ďer first." Newkirk spoke anxiously.
"Oh, no. Sheís free to see whomever she wants. I have no hold over her." Lieutenant Douglas assured the Englishman.
Chuckling, Newkirk said, "You know, she is a right fine looking bird, at that. The two of you, out there alone all that time, anything go on, Lieutenant?"
"Of course not, Corporal! Miss Gronyitz is every bit a lady. And a fine one at that." Douglas obviously took offense to Newkirkís insinuations.
"All right, all right! No need to get testy, now." Newkirk attempted to placate the American officer. "I appreciate you giving your leave, govínor." He extended his hand to Douglas, who took it reluctantly.
"Of course." To Hogan, Douglasí voice sounded hollow and insincere. Heís got it bad for that woman and doesnít even realize it, Hogan thought. Catching Bakerís eye, Hogan lifted one corner of his mouth in a semblance of a smile and shook his head, seeing the radioman nod in acknowledgment at Douglasí thickheadedness.
Not wanting trouble in the ranks over a woman, Hogan called, "Newkirk. Can I see you a moment?"
Surprised to hear the colonelís voice, Newkirk answered, "Yes, sir," and walked over to where Hogan stood waiting.
"Theyíre out of here tomorrow night. Hands off until then, understood?" Hogan spoke authoritatively. Knowing the Englishmanís flirtatious habits, he wanted to make it clear that there was to be nothing going on that could cause a problem between the men, even if Douglas was about to leave.
Newkirk pleaded his case, trying to convince himself as well as the colonel that Lisa would appreciate his attentions, "But sir, I think she and I are connecting on a romantic level. Iíve seen Ďer looking at me, and I knowó"
"Hands off. Thatís an order." Hoganís voice was firm, brooking no further argument.
With crestfallen features, Newkirk answered, "Yes, sir."
Hogan placed a hand on the corporalís shoulder, saying, "Come on. I think LeBeau and his student are looking for a guinea pig."
"Youíre torturing me, sir." Newkirk whined. He had heard that Lisa had very little talent for cooking, and besides, his interest definitely was not in her culinary abilities. With a long-suffering sigh, he followed Hogan up the ladder into the barracks.
"Schultz is coming!" Carter called, effectively interrupting Douglas as he launched into another of his lectures on the virtues of rural American life.
LeBeau grabbed a hat from Bailey, and a jacket from a nail on the wall, and slipped them quickly onto Lisa. He shoved her into a seat at the table, then assumed a casual stance as the door opened to admit the rotund German sergeant.
Schultz looked puzzled as the opened the door. Looking around, he appeared to be listening for something.
"What is it, Schultzie?" LeBeau asked.
"Yeah, did you lose something?" Carter chimed in.
Eyes darting back and forth, Schultz answered, "Nein. I thought I heard a radio. Some music."
Carter grinned. "Nah. Thatís just the music that plays when Lieutenant Douglas talks."
Every head in the room swiveled in Carterís direction. "You heard it too?" "What is it?" "How?" "What?" They all began talking at once, as their sanity was confirmed.
"Wait a minute! Wait just a minute!" Schultz shouted to be heard above the din. As the room quieted, he continued, "Who is Lieutenant Douglas?"
"I am." A handsome dark haired American answered the sergeant.
Looking around the room, Schultz asked suspiciously, "Where did he come from?" As several prisoners opened their mouths to answer his question, he held up one hand in a prohibitive motion and cried, "No! I do not want to know! I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know NOTHING!"
As Douglas prepared to bunk down for the night in the quiet of the tunnel branch, his thoughts strayed to the woman he had spent the past few days traveling with. Although she was one of the most exasperating women he had ever met, he knew he was going to miss her company. Once they arrived in England, he would be returned to his unit and hopefully would be cleared to resume flying. But the thought of not seeing her again was tormenting him. Standing, he wandered out into the radio room. Kinchloe was seated at the controls, flipping through a magazine that had seen better days.
"Couldnít sleep, Lieutenant?" Kinchloe asked. Rustling footsteps sounded from the opposite end of the tunnel. The men both looked up as Lisa emerged from the dimly lit darkness.
As she stood there looking at Douglas, Kinchloe cleared his throat and said, "Well, I think Iíll just take a little walk. Stretch my legs." He stood, but neither Douglas nor Lisa acknowledged his words. He smiled, amused at the couple, and walked off into the darkness.
The pair stood in silence for a few moments, then Douglas spoke, "Weíre leaving here tomorrow. Going to London."
Lisa answered softly, "Yes. Iíve always wanted to live in a big city."
Douglas laughed. "Oh, itís not all itís cracked up to be. Take New York, for instanceó"
"I would like to visit there someday, after the war." Lisa spoke quickly, taking a step closer to Douglas. "Do you think you could perhaps show me the city?" she asked hopefully.
"Ióyes, of course I will. After all, I owe you so much. I doubt I would have made it out of Hungary without your help. Will you allow me to call on you when we get to England?" He asked tentatively.
Lisa smiled. "I would like very much to see you again, but arenít you forgetting one little detail, Lieutenant? Youíre not free to go. You are still my prisoner."
Douglas gazed into her eyes, his feelings overflowing as he returned her smile. "Youíre right. I am your prisoner."
At his words, Lisa asked with surprise, "You are?"
Douglas stepped closer, reaching out and taking her in his arms. "Youíve captured my heart." Bending his head, he kissed her softly.
"Oliver," she whispered against his lips after a few moments. "Do you believe in love at first sight?"
"No," he answered, "For me, it was love at first sneeze."
"Douglas, I hope things work out for the two of you." Hogan shook hands with the Lieutenant, as he and the Hungarian woman prepared to accompany a unit of the local Underground along the escape route. If all went as planned, they would rendezvous with the submarine the next night, and be taken to England.
"Thank you, sir. I canít tell you enough how much we appreciate everything youíve done for us." Looking around, Douglas couldnít hide his amazement at the operation he had been witness to during the past couple of days. What these men had managed to accomplish was unbelievable! "And sir," he continued, "Iím being completely sincere when I say it has been a great honor to meet you and your men. The work you are doing here, well, itís fantastic."
Hogan looked a little embarrassed at the praise Douglas was lavishing on him and his staff. "Well, thanks, Lieutenant, but itís just a little something to keep us out of trouble while we wait out the war." He grinned at his own self-deprecating humor.
"Goodbye, Colonel Hogan." Lisa stepped forward, extending her hand to Hogan, who ignored her gesture and kissed her on the cheek instead. The prisoners gathered around, Newkirk, LeBeau, Carter and Kinchloe, also bade the pair farewell.
"Lieutenant, take good care of this lovely lady. And thatís an order." Hogan said. As he shook hands with Lieutenant Douglas, he added, "And Douglas, a little word of adviceóbe careful with your teeth!"
With a slightly puzzled look, Douglas answered, "Yes, sir. I will." Turning to Lisa, the Lieutenant said, "Shall we go now, dear?"
The Hungarian woman smiled and agreed, "Yes, darling."
Their footsteps echoed from the dark recesses of the tunnel, and the men, one by one, climbed the ladder back into the barracks above. As Kinchloe placed his foot on the bottom rung to begin his ascent, he realized Hogan was whistling. "Colonel, thatís Yankee Doodle Dandy," he said with amazement.
"Yeah," Hogan answered. "For the past couple of days, I just havenít been able to get that tune out of my head."