|A week later, Café René|
‘René,’ said Robin, who was looking out of the café window. ‘Isn’t that Corporal Jones going into the butchers?’
Robin had been making daily trips up to the farm with supplies from the village so had got to know the British soldiers.
‘Oh, Mon Dieu, the silly old fool,’ René said. ‘We need Michelle. Go into the back room and hang about near the window.’
Robin, trained to instant obedience, did as René asked and returned, ten minutes later, with Michelle in tow.
‘That was quick, Maria Cecile,’ René said admiringly. ‘It took you twenty minutes to conjure her up last time.’
They explained the problem and René confirmed that Jones was still in the butcher’s.
‘I will go and get him,’ Michelle said. ‘I will need to bring him here.’
‘Oh don’t worry, Michelle.’ René was sarcastic. ‘I’ll take the risk of being shot for harbouring an enemy alien. It’s not the first time I’ve done it.’
Michelle, disdaining the front door, went through to the back room and disappeared via the window.
‘She’ll never get Mr Jones in there,’ Robin observed. ‘He’s seventy if he’s a day.’
Michelle soon reappeared with an apologetic Jones in tow. ‘I’m missing my shop, you see, madam. And I’ve got civilian clothes so the Jerries won’t know it’s Jack Jones from Walmington-on-Sea wandering around under their noses.’
‘Yes but you don’t have any papers old chap,’ Michelle explained. ‘If you got stopped, you would be handed over to the Gestapo and that would endanger the other men and the school.’
‘I see what you mean, madam,’ Jones said. ‘I’ll get back to the farm. We’re all missing having something to do.’
Robin translated for René’s benefit, adding ‘If they were females, Matey would have them hemming sheets.’
‘Michelle has already had to stop Captain Mainwaring doing drill on the beach and making plans to take control of Guernsey from the Germans,’ René said.
‘Maria Cecile, please could you take Mr Jones back to the farm,’ Michelle said. ‘He can help you carry the supplies and, if you see any soldiers on the way, you can cover for him. Just do what Polly and Violet do.’
Robin looked pleased. ‘Great, I’ll need some cigarettes then.’
René was about to crush such ambitions when he glanced out of the window. ‘No time for that. The Colonel and the Captain are coming in. Get Mr Jones down to the kitchen and put an apron on him! We’ll pretend he’s a new assistant if anyone sees him.’
A confused Jones, who had not understood any of this, was hustled down to the kitchen and introduced to Madame Edith. Although they couldn’t understand each other, Robin explained the situation to both of them and they settled to communicate in sign language whilst Robin sped back to the café.
René served the guests and then spoke to Robin in an undertone. ‘Do your usual trip to the farm and tell them where Monsieur Jones is. We’ll get him back when we can.’
‘Can I take some cigarettes in case I meet any soldiers?’
‘No you MAY not,’ René said, with emphasis. ‘And any behaviour like Violet and Polly and you’re confined to kitchen duties for a week.’
Muttering about René being stricter than Miss Annersley, Robin went off to collect the supplies and take them up to the farm.
Matey greeted her with enthusiasm. ‘It’s so nice to get some girl-talk,’ she said. ‘These men are driving me insane. The airmen are fairly placid but these new ones are bored and restless.’
‘I know. We need to find them something to do before they endanger all of us,’ Robin said. She explained about Mr Jones.
‘Bloody Hell,’ Matey exclaimed. ‘Good thing he’s not a schoolgirl. I’d have him hemming sheets for a week.’
Robin stayed as long as she dared, as Matey was clearly in need of some female company, then cycled over to the school.
‘Hello, Robin,’ Miss Annersley said as Robin was shown into her study. ‘How are things with you?’
‘Usual chaos at Café René then. No more trouble over the painting?’
‘No, it’s ok,’ Robin said. ‘But this problem with the soldiers is a bugger. I don’t know how to solve it.’
Miss Annersley sympathised. ‘If you remember, we had the same sort of problem with the Sixth Form last year. They were very troublesome until we gave them proper work to do.’
‘That’s what we need to do with the soldiers,’ Robin agreed. ‘The problem is what.’
‘Grammar, Robin!’ Miss Annersley said, looking at her severely, with her clear blue-grey eyes which had never needed spectacles.
‘Sorry, Miss A,’ Robin apologised. ‘It’s difficult enough with the airmen working on the farm, there’s not enough for more people and they would be too conspicuous.’
‘I’ll think about it as well, Robin,’ Miss Annersley promised. ‘I hope Mr Jones isn’t causing too many problems in the meantime.’
Over at Café René, Jones had managed to convey to Madame Edith that he made the best sausages in the south of England. He had not been at all impressed by the German-style sausages hanging in the larder and had taken them all out, shredded them up and started making proper English sausages.
‘I must say,’ Jones said to himself, as Madame Edith could not understand him. ‘There’s a lot of bran in these sausages.’ He surveyed the sausage contents in front of him, in which large lumps of canvas-coloured roughage could be seen.
René, calling in to the kitchen to speak to Madame Edith, viewed the scene with dismay. ‘What’s the silly old fool doing?‘
‘He makes the best sausages in the south of England,’ Madame Edith said. ‘So he’s mashed up all the German sausages in the larder to make English ones.’
René sat down suddenly. ‘But one of them contains the picture of the fallen Madonna with the big boobies!’
Author's Chapter Notes:
Jones goes walkabout