Displayed above the circular concierges’ busy reception desk were posited the familiar German tricolour and Bavarian white and blue lozenge flag. A cleared space between the two caused Karen to say to Walter rather hopefully, “Wouldn’t it be nice to see our own swastika standard secured in that middle space someday”? “Maybe one day,” whispered Hermann who had overheard Karen’s question and naturally nodded in agreement with her suggestion.
A wooden mezzanine level built high above the hotel information counter displayed heavy hanging embroidered drapes depicting local scenes of daily life in the old Bamberg town that had happened long ago.
The wooden stained panelled ceiling also highlighted distinguished Bavarian forgotten nobles and their rather unsmiling wives it seemed from the past along with overdressed and overweight archbishops of another era watched suspiciously or perhaps afraid of the unknown future their town was marching towards. And all brilliantly captured by an unknown-now probably forgotten-young artist who had given everything to this ordered task. One could only hope, thought Karen, that he was well paid for his endeavours and did not starve to death as so many of his kind had.
A rich aroma of wealth now drifted throughout and settled in the lobby, revealing expensive cigar smoke and many exotic perfumes, perhaps some from the east or perhaps Paris? They silently pervaded the counterpane of affluence of this hotel lobby without resistance creating a comfortable atmosphere in this always busy and fully booked popular hotel. Which was exactly what the sly management and nervous shareholders had always hoped and planned for long ago in smoke-filled boardrooms.
Karen then noticed in a nearby alcove several expensive pedal harps placed opposite two empty music stands and chairs. But sadly no musicians were seen performing tender adagios and glissandos this morning for their arrival. What a shame she thought because it would have been so wonderful to have been welcomed with maybe some glorious Debussy or Dvorak musical motifs to listen to. And did not these unplayed beautiful musical instruments now look so forlorn she thought without being performed by a player with delicate fingers?
After signing the obligatory hotel register Walter and Hermann and their wives were escorted to an open waiting elevator. And inside much to all their surprise was a small, comfortable, leather sofa to seat two people perhaps at a squeeze. It had been originally installed before the war for tired guests if so requested and had remained in place ever since. A uniformed attendant then offered a small bunch of tulips to each of the now seated ladies before he pressed the marked control buttons saying: “For perhaps to pin to your furs, dear ladies when you go out this evening,” he remarked with a smile to a surprised Carin and Karen who shyly accepted this unexpected but touching floral-scented gift.
Earlier because of the late unexpected requested hotel bookings, the apologetic general manager could and did happily offer two available and rather expensive suites. These being hastily reserved for captain Goring and colonel Kyper and their wives. Gertrude would have to share a room with nurse Stanic on the fourth floor. Officer Leudeke had been offered and happily accepted a single room close to the kitchen and the garage workshop enclosures. It was rather basic he was informed apologetically by one of the staff but it suited Leudeke very well. And he happily accepted the key for his room. He had important plans for that coming evening that did not include Goring or Kyper.
The blue bedroom when they were escorted by a smiling messenger boy was nearly as vast as the foyer Karen now noticed in wonder. A Queen Ann bed seemed to have claimed most of the space with delicate furniture placed in the sitting room. A massive diamond rimmed heavy-looking glass with the three famous traditional monkeys (speak no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil) had been placed on top of the frame. It now caught her attention and she paused and automatically checked her makeup. She also hoped the mirror would not fall away from the wall. She was now suddenly exhausted seeing as none of them had slept for over twenty hours due to Carin’s sudden insistence to depart from Nuremberg with haste. She was now looking forward to reclining into the deep comfortable mattress and descending into the realms of a pleasurable welcome dreamland.
But then a small living room area she had noticed situated by the balcony caught her attention. It offered a further delightful view, as she walked over and gazed down into the busy town square now just waking up to a new warm day.
A young milkmaid no more than twelve years old manoeuvred with difficulty a small wooden hand cart with heavy milk urns over some dangerous cobbles. Then she raised her eyes as if on request, smiled and waved up at Karen. Karen then waved happily back at this young perspiring girl. Then she noticed a baker’s boy about the same age balancing a heavy tray of loaves and hot rolls on his head walking carefully towards their hotel. She turned slowly away from the balcony, then noticed a neatly fully fitted small kitchen area that now claimed her inspection.
And surprisingly an old fashioned copper antique warming pan for the bed was hung on the wall if ever needed, which she doubted, or maybe would be. It was probably just for display. A small pantry was equipped with provisions for welcome snacks. With homemade honey and jams purchased and delivered it seemed from a local farmers market. It was a charming welcoming rather rustic touch she thought with joy and surprise at the consideration of the management.
Then she and Walter seated themselves on the padded small chesterfield sofa. Both noticed on a small table before them a gleaming silver monogrammed champagne bucket with an iced welcomed bottle of Bollinger Rose. ‘Compliments of the Management,’ a small card proclaimed. They both took advantage of this unexpected gift. Two fluted crystal glasses with the hotel logo highlighted the effect. A plate of pineapple pieces with some cut chipolatas spiked on sticks in a row on the side somehow encouraged the temptation to nibble them up. “Um very tasty,’ Karen thought, eyeing these snacks with interest.
“Trust Hermann to somehow be able to book the best rooms and at short notice,” laughed Walter as he reached over and attempted with difficulty to extract the tightened corked top. When he finally achieved it after much exertion arrived with a loud pop followed by a spray of bubbly liquid. She later walked to the spacious bathroom and ran herself a hot pampering bath adding a heady dose of Turkish bath salts. She then kissed Walter, whispered something in his ear and left for the bedroom to get undressed.
Carin had also suffered nervous exhaustion herself and was delighted their rooms were also situated close on the same floor as the Kypers. She now found herself standing alone on the hotel balcony gripping the railing and gazing down at the very busy square below and wondering where it would all end especially for herself. And as always for her darling Hermann whom she would soon leave one day and maybe very soon. And how he would manage without her she didn’t know. For she certainly had a coming rendezvous with death. But when it arrived to claim her she did not know. Then into the misty recess of her mind arrived the picture of an old Bible verse she had heard. Then learned many times as a child in that draughty little whitewashed church in Sweden that she had then attended with her family:
“For we brought nothing into the world, and it is
is certain we can carry nothing out” (1st Timothy 6:7 A.V.)
To be continued…
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell