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Author's Chapter Notes:
The rescue is on!

The following morning

By nine-thirty in the morning, the group was assembled in the café with cups of coffee and large slices of Madame Edith’s cake in front of them.

‘How do we prevent Michelle gate-crashing the meeting?’ Miss Annersley asked.

‘Already dealt with,’ René said, with satisfaction. ‘Yvette, Maria and I were waiting for her when she came in through the window this morning. We threw a blanket over her head, tied her up and locked her in the cellar.’

‘Good work,’ Madge said admiringly. ‘Now she won’t know I’ve skived her class.’

‘Are you sure she won’t get free and pick her way out of the cellar?’ Violet asked.

‘Madame Fanee is sitting outside the door, ready to hit her with a bedpan if she gets out,’ René said reassuringly.

‘Mama packs quite a punch,’ Madame Edith added. ‘So there is no chance of Michelle interrupting us.’

‘So, how do we get the original?’ Madge wanted to know.

‘That’s not the right question,’ Robin said.

Everyone looked at Robin. ‘Are you going in for politics, Robin?’ Miss Annersley asked. ‘It’s not a terribly respectable profession for a young lady. As your headmistress, I’d rather you went in for being a café waitress.’

‘No, Miss A. What I mean is, what we should be asking is “how do we look as if we’ve got the original?”.’

Violet caught on first. ‘You mean to fool the Resistance that we’ve got the original?’

Robin grinned. ‘Exactly. It’s far too dangerous to break into Gestapo HQ to switch the paintings. All we need to do is to look as if we have done it.’

‘Any ideas?’ René asked.

Robin hesitated. ‘I do have an idea but it’s a bit delicate. May I have a word in private with Miss Annersley?’

Miss Annersley went into the back room with Robin where they had a low-voiced conversation and returned to the main group within a couple of minutes.

‘Robin has put an idea to me, which I have agreed to. I think it best not to go into the detail but to assign duties.’ She nodded to Robin.

‘The main thing is to get Helga out of the way for a few hours. Violet and Polly, you are in charge of distracting Helga. I suggest the Sixth Form invite her up to the school to play Dirty Scrabble, Strip Poker or one of your usual games.’

Mon Dieu,’ whispered Madame Edith to René. ‘The girls in my boarding school books never behaved like this.’

‘In the meantime, Miss Annersley will make an arranged visit to Herr Flick,’ Robin continued. ‘She will have a long roll with her with the fake painting and other things.’

‘What other things?’ Violet asked.

‘That’s on a need-to-know basis,’ Robin said sternly.

Miss Annersley appeared lost in thought. ‘Flying helmet, wet celery, egg whisk,’ she muttered to herself.

‘Matey will provide something to put in Herr Flick’s G&T,’ Robin added. ‘Though of course there is no need for Miss A to knock him out as she isn’t really going to switch the paintings. After her visit, she will come to the café, as if to leave the original in a sausage.’

‘How do we know she’ll get to visit Herr Flick?’ Madge asked. ‘He may not be willing to see her. Or perhaps he’ll be busy torturing people.’

‘I can assure you that the only one being tortured that day will be Herr Flick,’ Miss Annersley said huskily. ‘Tortured with desire.’

‘Don’t let Matey hear you say things like that,’ Robin advised. ‘She’ll think you’re over-excited and dose you with something.’

‘How do you know he’s not gay?’ Polly asked.

Madame Edith put her hands over her ears. This was not her impression of well-brought up English girls from a most exclusive boarding school. Or the staff for that matter.

Miss Annersley smiled. ‘I can assure you, Polly. Herr Flick is not gay.’

René and Robin exchanged a glance. That was one mystery solved.

Two days later at Café René

Madge called in to see Robin on her way to Advanced Radio Interception.

‘How are preparations going?’ Robin wanted to know.

‘Such a catastrophe, Rob,’ Madge said, sitting at one of the tables whilst Robin served her a cup of fragrant (though less nectar-like than Mademoiselle’s) coffee. ‘David got into my bedroom and nicked the flying helmet.’

‘I hope you got it back off the little sod,’ Robin said.

‘I did, but unfortunately he’d taken it to the nursery to play with and the trips have chewed it senseless.’

‘Bloody Hell,’ Robin said. ‘Well that’s the plan gone tits-up now. Old Hilda told René yesterday when she called in to pay for the gin that it’s Herr Flick’s favourite. It wouldn’t have mattered as much if the horrible little sprogs had destroyed the egg whisk. Though she says he does like a massage with it.’

‘Really?’ Madge was interested. ‘Where?’

‘Usually in her study apparently,’ Robin said.

‘No, I mean where on his body?’ Madge asked impatiently.

Robin whispered in her ear.

‘Never!’ Madge exclaimed. ‘I must try that on Jem. He says he’s getting really bored with our sex life. He wasn’t even all that cross about the flying helmet. Though he did say if we could get off the island he might have sent David to Canada for a year.’

‘So we need a new flying helmet,’ Robin said. ‘I wonder if either of the airmen was wearing his when they bailed out?’

‘I would go up and see them but I’m really pushed for time at the moment,’ Madge said, finishing her coffee and getting up.

‘If I go near Matey she’ll try and dose me and keep me in bed for a week,’ Robin said. ‘Perhaps we should draw lots as to who should go to the farm.’

‘Just be a brave girl and go and do it,’ Madge said. ‘If she imprisons you, I’ll get the Resistance to rescue you. You’re needed here.’

‘Ok,’ Robin said.

Next day, at the farm

Robin cycled over to the farm, to find Matey having coffee and scones with Lieutenant Gruber. Fortunately the airmen were nowhere in sight.

‘How lovely to hear all about your mother,’ Matey was saying as Robin entered. ‘And why isn’t a handsome young man like you married yet? I’m sure you’d be a super daddy.’

Robin winked at Lieutenant Gruber. ‘Matey, leave the poor man alone! He’s busy fighting a war. That’s enough to be going on with.’

Lieutenant Gruber, who had stood politely when Robin entered, started to make his preparations for departure. He thanked Matey profusely for the coffee and scones and Robin showed him out.

‘Sorry about the old bat,’ Robin apologised. ‘I’ve tried to explain to her but she just doesn’t get it.’

‘No worries,’ Lieutenant Gruber answered as he climbed into his little tank.

Robin returned to the kitchen. ‘Matey, what on earth are you doing encouraging Lieutenant Gruber to come here when you’ve got the airmen?’

‘Lieutenant Gruber wouldn’t say anything,’ Matey said, untroubled. ‘He likes my scones too much.’

‘Where are the airmen anyway?’

‘They’re in the greenhouse looking after the celery. They had to plant it in the greenhouse as it’s needed all year round here, apparently. The islanders must be particularly fond of it.’

Robin raised her eyes to Heaven. Matey lived in her own little world.

The airmen were in the greenhouse, enjoying the winter sunshine and peering uncertainly at the celery plants.

‘What ho, old chaps,’ Robin said as she entered.

‘Another gal who speaks English, don’t you know,’ Fairfax said. ‘Top hole!’

Robin explained her mission.

‘Sorry old gal. Had it on when I pranged the old kite, don’t you know, but that Resistance girl got it.’ Carstairs was apologetic.

‘Michelle?’ Robin asked.

‘No, other gal. One with the bad coat,’ Carstairs said.

‘That was Madge,’ Robin explained. ‘Unfortunately her nieces chewed it a bit so it’s not suitable for the exercise.’

‘I still have mine,’ Fairfax offered. He delved into his pocket and produced it.

‘Thanks awfully, old chap,’ Robin said, taking it. ‘I’ll make sure it’s returned to you eventually. Could you let me have some celery while I’m here?’

Carstairs carefully cut a head of celery.

‘Hmm, it’s a bit thin yet but it should be ok when wet,’ Robin said. ‘Thanks again chaps!’

‘Toodle pip,’ Carstairs and Fairfax said in unison as Robin left.

The following week

Helga arrived punctually for her afternoon with the Sixth Form, carrying the Scrabble game and a pack of cards. The car which dropped her off stopped on its way out at the gates and Miss Annersley, dressed in a very headmistress-style and carrying a long roll, emerged from the trees and got in.

A little later, the car arrived at Gestapo HQ and Miss Annersley emerged and was conducted to Herr Flick’s office. She emerged some three hours later, carrying the same long roll. She graciously declined the offer of a lift back to school and walked round to Café René where its occupants (with the exception of Madame Fanny) were assembled to put the fake painting back into its sausage and pretend it was the original.

‘Unfortunately Michelle has evaded capture today,’ René said very quietly. ‘She got wise to us after last time. So in case she is around, do not refer to the painting as the fake.’ More loudly he added. ‘I assume that the celery will be the worse for wear and will have been disposed of at Gestapo HQ.’

‘That is true,’ Miss Annersley said. ‘Herr Flick was not in the mood for the celery to tickle his fancy today, so I abandoned it.

The roll was unpacked and, in addition to a rather sorry-looking flying helmet and a battered egg whisk, the painting emerged.

‘But, Miss Annersley!’ Robin exclaimed. ‘That’s the original!’

Miss Annersley smirked. ‘I am a woman of many talents.’
Chapter End Notes:
A good place to end!

Allo Allo may return for a new series in the future, following the fortunes of Robin and Co at the cafe, the school's efforts to remain incognito and the adventures at the farm - What Matey Did, What Matey Did Next and What Matey Did, (Not) At School. And thank you so much to everyone for the reviews - the feedback and encouragement have been great!

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