Hello and welcome to day 8 of The 12 Days of Christmas! Click here for more Christmas fun!
And now, we return to Germany for part five of Stille Nacht. Let’s see how our warring soldiers are getting along…
Part Five: Christmas Dinner
Marta took the pot from over the fire and placed it on the table. “Everyone have a seat!” Marta and Hilde sat on a bench together at the head of the table. Lars, Harold, and Stefan sat on one side of the table, Sarge, Adler, and Rudi on the other.
“Join me in prayer, please.”
The soldiers bowed their heads and Marta began to pray.
Rudi whispered, “We thank You, Lord, for bringing us together peacefully in this terrible war.”
Adler glanced at him, then closed his eyes once more as Rudi continued to translate Marta’s prayer. “Please bless this dinner and the little things that we have tonight. Help us to promise to be friendly to each other if at all possible, Lord. And let this terrible war end, so we can all go home very soon…”
Rudi’s voice cracked and he turned his face away. Adler stared hard at his plate as Rudi finished, “…In Jesus Holy Name I pray, Amen.”
No one spoke or made a move to dish out the food. Sarge glanced over at Lars in time to see him swipe at his eyes. Harold wasn’t even attempting to hide his feelings, though he remained quiet as ever. Sarge exhaled deeply as he felt moisture trailing down his own cheeks.
Hilde looked up at her mother. “Why are they crying?”
Stefan stood and stepped away from the table, fumbling in his pocket for a kerchief as he opened the door. When he returned, he mumbled, “Sure is cold outside,” hoping no one would notice his flushed face.
Adler cleared his throat as the food, at last, was passed around. “Um, Rudi, ask Harold who he’s got at home waiting for him, will ya?”
Rudi smiled and told Harold what Adler had said. Harold stared at Adler for a moment, stunned that he was talking to him. “I…um…my mother…and three sisters. I don’t know where Willi and Papa are. You?”
Adler nodded slowly, chewing a bite of bratwurst. “My wife and twins I haven’t met yet. A boy and girl.”
Rudi swallowed a bite of food before informing Harold of Adler’s answer.
Stefan looked up. “Twins? I’m a twin!” He clamped his hand over his mouth. His mother had told him never to mention that over the last few years. Why, he wasn’t sure.
Lars patted his shoulder. “No one will tell your secret, Stefan. We like you too much.”
“What’s the big deal with being a twin?” Sarge asked once the exchange had been translated.
Lars looked at Rudi and said something. Rudi grimaced. “We have a leader with some very strange curiosities. Hitler has had numerous tests done on twins…I don’t know the extent, but if one is a twin, they keep quiet about it.” He jerked his head toward Stefan. “He doesn’t know anything about that. I grew up with his older brother and I promised I’d sorta shield him.”
“Is there no end to that moron’s madness?” Adler muttered, taking another bite of soup.
Rudi lowered his head. “Perhaps, along with war, we should ban his name from conversation too.”
“I’m for that!” Sarge agreed.
Stefan began to cough again, his whole body shuddering. Marta stood and came to his side, offering him more water. “What’s wrong with him?” Adler asked.
“Lung infection,” Rudi replied. “We have no medicine for him.”
Adler winced as Stefan pressed a blood spotted handkerchief to his mouth. “How long has he been like that?”
“About a week now,” Rudi said as Stefan stepped away from the table. “I don’t know what to do for him.”
Adler glanced at Sarge, then stood and left the table. He rummaged through his pack. “Aha, here's where you’ve been hiding.” He pulled out a small glass bottle and held it over his head in triumph. In French, he asked Marta for a spoon.
Adler measured out a dose of the liquid in the bottle. Lars narrowed his eyes and glanced at Rudi. “What is that?” Rudi asked as Adler walked toward Stefan.
“It’s some medicine that I can’t pronounce, but I had a lung infection last month and this stuff helped. Some housewife in France gave it to me.”
Lars reached for the bottle and scanned the label. “Hmm!” He nodded and Adler helped Stefan somehow get the medicine down without spewing it everywhere.
Lars handed the bottle back to Adler. “No, y’all keep that,” Adler said, pushing the bottle back into Lars’ hands.
Rudi tried to translate. “What does y’all mean?”
“You all,” Sarge said with a laugh. “It’s a word from my part of the States. I guess I’m rubbing off on Adler.”
“Well, you’ve picked up a few things from me too,” Adler defended. “Like eating bagels for one, hmm!”
Lars looked at Adler as they all sat back down at the table. “Bagels? Rudi, ask this man if he is Jewish.”
Oh, dear! Sounds like trouble might be brewing! Tune in tomorrow to see what happens next!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.