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As the girls rested, Gottfried called Jack over to him and they moved out of the earshot of the rest of the group.

“Jack, I think it is essential that we reach Tante Anna’s tonight.  I am not sure Nell and Jeanne, in particular, can take another night out here.  And Joey is close to breaking point. I believe your idea of giving her something to sleep may not be so bad after all.”

“I agree on all counts,” Jack rejoined. “How much further do we have to go do you think?”

“On foot, seven or eight hours.  But I fear that they may not be able to walk that far, and you and I are getting too tired ourselves to keep carrying Nell.”

Jack thought for a moment.  “Is there a road anywhere near here that we could get to? Maybe from there we could find some transport to your aunt’s place?”

Gottfried nodded.  “If we continue through the woods I believe we reach the main Zurich to Chur road.  From there we would hopefully be able to find some way to get to her house, which is further along the road to Zurich.”

“Well then, that’s the plan.  We’ll give them twenty more minutes of rest and then be on our way.”  Jack paused, and then clasped his friend by the arm and smiled broadly.  “We’re free old chap. We’re safe.”  He sounded like he scarcely believed what he was saying.

The young Austrian broke into the first proper smile he had shown since leaving the Sonnalpe and slapped his friend on the shoulder as this sunk in. “Oh Jack, we did it! I am so relieved.”

Jack smiled at him.  “No, Gottfried, you did it. You brought us this far.”

Gottfried shook his head and, wisely, Jack let the subject drop. He was in no doubt, however, that they all owed their lives to the brave, young man who had guided them through those awful days.

They turned the conversation to the future. “Where will you go from your aunt’s, Gottfried? Straight to Gisela?”

“I do not know yet,” he replied.  “I think perhaps I shall go to Italy to my parents, and then to London from there. How about yourselves?”

Jack frowned.  “I’d like to head to Guernsey as soon as possible, but I’m afraid we may have to delay things for a few weeks. I don’t think any of my party will be fit to travel on again so soon.  But I won’t rest until we’re safely in Guernsey.”

Gottfried’s response was a sombre one. “I wonder how long we can remain safe anywhere in Europe.  I wish for my family to travel to England as soon as possible.  I fear that what has befallen my country will soon befall many others.”

There was silence for a minute as they contemplated this.  Then Jack looked at his watch. “Righto,” he said briskly. “Time to get moving on.  If you see to Nell’s ankle, I’ll see to rousing the others.”  And with that he turned and walked back towards the group.

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