Ms. Williamson has been captivating the hearts of readers for decades. Her heroes are strong and daring while the antagonists, diabolical!
A Personal Vendetta ...
As the local constable, Conrad Olsson surveys the carnage, he looks first at Alberich Babler and then at Gerhardt Bernstein.
“I don’t blame you, Officer Babler. However, you Officer Bernstein—I hold you totally responsible.”
“And how do you see that, Officer—”
“Olsson, Conrad Olsson. Lucas was my first cousin. You are responsible for law enforcement in the Village of Krüger. You should have ensured that nobody went out on their own—” Hugo angrily interrupts.
“Then you need to blame me as well! Axel Nilsson, my brother Adolphus, Lucas and I were all warned regarding the dangers but I insisted that we take the risk anyway.” Hugo commences.
“I see.” Conrad replies.
“Lucas was my best friend—I’d gladly have taken his place. But we all knew the risk, and like adults, took it. Nu lätta upp!” Hugo admonishes softly.
Everyone is quiet for what seems like an eternity until Gerhardt finally speaks.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Officer Olsson—we all are. Nevertheless, we need to work together. None of us are the enemy here—it is der weiße Dämon. We cannot let our emotions get the better of us!” Gerhardt concludes, putting his hand on Conrad’s shoulder.
“You are right, Office Bernstein. Please forgive my unprofessional outburst. Lucas and I were very close. Vielen Dank Hugo for being a friend to both Lucas and to me. Ever since you called—well I have not been myself.” Conrad confesses and the two men shake hands.
“We are not going to wait until morning light.” Alberich decides. “We will be moving on.”
“I know it isn’t that far to that pharmacist in Zürich—Karl Meier. I also know that you need your wits about you in regard to der weiße Dämon as well. Please ... stay here until the sun has climbed higher in the sky. Then you will be able to see any shadow if it appears unexpectedly.” Conrad offers sensibly and everyone is in full agreement.
The Schröder Taverne, like many other establishments, offers the weary traveler both enticing refreshments and a room to accommodate them.
The proprietor of the place, Eric Schröder, escorts the three gentlemen to his best suite. It has two large rooms. The first serves as a Sitting Room and the second has a full-sized bed and two bunk beds. It is perfect for a family traveling with children.
Eric bows politely and then closes the main door behind him.
“I want the full!” Both Hugo and Alberich cry out in unison.
“Look!” Responds Gerhardt pointing. “There is a deck of cards on that table. Let us pull for it. High card gets the full—agreed?”
“Agreed.” The other two men answer.
Hugo grabs the cards and begins to shuffle them well. Then Gerhardt takes a turn shuffling them. Finally, Alberich shuffles the cards. Each man pulls from the deck that has been returned to the table. Gerhardt wins. Smiling, he disrobes and heads for the shower.
By this time, Eric has returned with three pairs of pajamas and matching robes.
“Wunderbare!” Gerhardt proclaims upon leaving the bathroom draped only in a towel. “I will be sure to give this place a 5-star revue!”
Eric smiles broadly and bows again. Then, leaving the three men alone, he firmly closes the door.
“I’m next!” Exclaims Hugo as he heads for the bathroom, humming a lively little tune for the first time.
“Nothing like the prospects of a shower and fresh jammies to put a man in a happy move.” Alberich asserts as both he and Gerhardt laugh.
Twenty minutes later, Alberich makes his way toward the bathroom while Hugo readies himself for bed. The bunk beds prove to be extremely comfortable and he snuggles in for a much needed rest. Soon all three men are sleeping peacefully in bed, oblivious to what is transpiring just outside. A lone white tiger walks gingerly up to the VLRA 2 Military Truck. She circles it at least twice then positions herself before the two front tires. Suddenly, as if possessed by a demon from Hell she lives up to her name by inflecting irreparable damage on the tires—seeking justifiable revenue for the annihilation of her cub!
A Disturbing Discovery ...
It is about 10:00 am when the trio is finally able to come downstairs for a hurried breakfast and to traverse the 50 miles to Zürich. Conrad comes to their table and he is not smiling.
“Is anything the matter?” Gerhardt reads the worried look on the man’s face.
“Ja, plenty. When you are finished, please come outside with me.” Conrad orders as the men hurriedly gulp down the last of their German Apple Pancakes.
As soon as they follow Conrad outside, they are met with a sight that makes Hugo involuntarily shutter. The front tires have been butchered unmercifully. It looks as if someone or something just savagely ripped them to shreds.
“Well—it looks like der weiße Dämon got her revenge on my VLRA 2.” Alberich retorts sadly.
“What do you mean?” Conrad inquires.
Alberich and the others return to the tavern and the men past through the bar to an adjourning room. They each take a seat near the fireplace. There, Alberich explains to Conrad what happened on his return trip to Krüger from Stäfa.
“But if the cub dashed in front of your vehicle—there was no way that you could have stopped in time.” Conrad defends.
“Try telling that to der weiße Dämon.” Hugo chuckles, then seeing the looks on both Alberich’s and Gerhardt’s faces—he is immediately silent again.
“Were you the one driving the truck?” Conrad asks and Alberich nods in the affirmative. “Oh Bruder!”
“Ja.” Hugo agrees.
“She is definitely going to try to kill me.” Alberich quietly responds.
“Verdammt! Then we cannot let this happen!” Gerhardt asserts.
“No we cannot!” Hugo agrees.
“What are we going to do?” Alberich begins to get a glimmer of hope.
“We drive full steam ahead, that’s what we do. Conrad, do you have a vehicle that we can use. Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee its return condition.” Gerhardt rejoinders.
“That is no problem, guter Freund. It just so happens that Eric has a vehicle suitable for your needs. It is fully insured and practically brand new.” Conrad looks at Eric as he nods his head enthusiastically. Then he leads them to the back of his tavern.
Every man is on high alert, looking in all directions. There is a garage-like structure at the back of Schröder Taverne. When Eric unlocks the door, everyone walks into the edifice. Gerhardt, Alberich and Hugo take one look at the vehicle and yell in unison—
“Are you sure you want to part with her?” Alberich marvels as the men journey around the vehicle.
“As Conrad stated she is fully insured. I am so busy with the tavern that I seldom have time to take her out. She will be a lot better to navigate than lugging around that old VLRA 2 Military Truck. Plus, she already has a tank of gas so she’s ready to go” Eric boasts.
The men are beyond pleased as they each take turn shaking Eric’s hand.
“I hate to be a wet blanket but I don’t like this much unprotected exposure.” Alberich complains.
“You are right Mein Freund. We must make haste to Zürich. Karl Meier is expecting us.” Gerhardt replies.
“Vielen Dank for all your help—both you Conrad and especially Eric. You have been the perfect host.” Hugo pronounces and the other two agree.
“I only wish that I could go with you, but my duties here must come first.” Conrad asserts.
“Kümmere dich um meinen Freund!” Hugo calls out as he positions himself in the front seat. Gerhardt will be driving.
“And you take care as well.” Conrad asserts, returning the sentiments.
To Be Continued ...
The Legend of White Forest 18
- The Legend of White Forest 18
The men thought that things would prove to be a lot safer once they left Schröder Taverne and were on their way to Zürich. They were even driving a different vehicle. However, that was no deterrent for one who seeks revenge, for der weiße Dämon!
© 2021 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS