The Society

Jacques, Martin and Camille went downstairs for breakfast. Camille had to lead the way, as the two boys did not know their way around. Jacques was not sure what sort of place this was. Was it a house, a business, or a hotel? When he asked Camille this, she replied, "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you. It's classified information." This made him even more curious. He had been told he was handsome, so he decided to try charming her into talking. But her reaction to this attention was not what he had expected. She simply said, "I told you! You're not to know until Uncle Jean says you can be trusted. Now stop pestering me!" That scared him off.

Martin watched this and decided not to interfere. The soldier that had been shouting at him for the last two ays was now getting put down by a girl. Martin did not think this was a bad thing. In fact, he thought it was rather funny. Besides, all he cared about was the fantastic-looking breakfast he could see in the next room. He headed in. A middle-aged man sat at the head of the table; glasses falling off his nose, and a newspaper on the table next to him. The man looked up, and smiled at Martin. "Ah, I wondered when I'd be seeing you. Sit down, young man." Martin couldn't help noticing he spoke his French with a peculiar accent. He couldn't quite pinpoint it, as it was very slight, but all the same it was there.

Martin sat down next to the gentleman, and helped himself to bread and butter. There was a lot more on the table than was to be expected in wartime. This in itself was unusual, but what he saw next was even more strange. The man, who he supposed must have been the talked-about "Uncle Jean", was drinking tea, and eating sausages in bread. Martin must have looked surprised, as "Uncle Jean" swallowed a mouthful of sausage, as said, "Old habits die hard, they say. Before I came here I did a lot of my work in England." Aha! thought Martin. That explained it. It was an English accent. Jean carried on, "They have some very strange ways of doing things there. But the amount of time I spent there means I picked up some things that maybe I shouldn't have." He chuckled, "Did you know that instead of a simple Bonjour! they say to each other 'Oi, whatcha doin' mate?'. Ludicrous! For about a year a couldn't make head nor tail of it. And that's another English expression! I mean, what have heads or tails got to do with understanding something?" Martin liked this man. He was a bit eccentric, but likeable. And, God knows, there weren't many of them around at the moment.

Camille and Jacques came in and sat down opposite Martin. Camille helped herself to cheese and bread, and Jacques just stared at the food. He, like Martin, had not seen this much on one table for a very long time. Camille clapped her hand on his shoulder and said jokingly, "Well, are you going to eat anything, or just look at it all. Because if you are only going to sit here like a dumbstruck goldfish, we won't have time to explain everything." Uncle Jean looked up from his newspaper, "She's right, you know, " he said, "Best to eat up, because what I have to say might be a bit of a shock for you." Jacques wondered what it might be. He had dealt with more than his fair share of shocking situations since joining the army. What could possibly be worse than watching your friends die around you, then nearly betraying your country. This man had no idea what it was like. It must have shown in his face, for Uncle Jean began to talk in a more kindly way, "I know what you've been through Jacques. I myself lost my parents when I was about your age. That, I have to say, was the reason I decided to help you." Jacques stared at him, open-mouthed, 

"Quoi? You've been... spying on me?"

Uncle Jean looked uncomfortably at him, "Well, when you put it that way...yes, I have. I have access to the French Army recruitment files, and when there was a mention of a nineteen-year-old orphan, well it was perfect. I knew you'd never go through with giving up the battleplans. Of course, I didn't bargain for young Martin here coming along too, but-"

"Hang on a minute? Why did you want me? Why was I perfect? Is anybody going to tell me anything, or am I going to be left permanently in the dark?"

"I was just getting to that!" Uncle Jean looked flustered. It was a long time since he had had to deal with a teenager like this. "But I need you to tell me a little about you before I can tell you anything. So, Jacques?"

"I was born and grew up in Brittany, but after my family died..." he paused, "After my family were murdered, I had no reason to stay. So I joined the army. I didn't know about the horrors I would witness. That was why, when I found out about the battle plans, I thought I might as well give them to the Germans in exchange for a bit of money and a quiet life. So much for that..."

Camille could see that Martin was getting agitated about not being included in the conversation. So she added, "And what about you, young man?" martin was reluctant to reply, but after an encouraging nod from Jacques, he decided to speak.

"I am eight years old and I hate Monsieur Hitler. Maman always said that he would kill all the Jews, including us. Maman and Papa aren't here now. They're up in heaven and I won't see them ever again. I know because a policeman told me I'd go to Hell. And policemen always tell the truth."

Camille invited the little boy to sit on her lap, and he did. He stuck his thumb firmly in his mouth and looked Uncle Jean right in the eyes. Jacques recognised that look from when he had first met Martin. He might be a little more well fed and cleaner, but it was the same look. A look of total trust, and helplessness.

"Wait one minute," exclaimed Uncle Jean, addressing Martin, "Did you say you were Jewish?"

"Yes Monsieur."

"Well that changes everything! We have to get you out of here as soon as possible, my dear boy. Forget what I said before. Camille, Jacques, you have to find a way to get Martin to Britain. You see, Jacques, I work for an organisation that is trying to help the Allies. We used to have a number of adult agents, but they have all been compromised since the start of the war. Which brings me onto my next point. I am asking you to be special agents for me. It will be hard, dangerous work, but I think you will be up to it, non? That is why I had to follow you Jacques. I had to be sure you were the right person for the job. I was going to ask you to do routine things at first; sabotaging German vehicles, stopping their food supplies, and so on and so forth. But now Martin's situation has come to light, I have to put my humanity first, despite wanting to put an end to this terrible war."

"Why me? Why am I so important, Monsieur?"

"Martin, do you have any idea what the Nazis are doing to the Jews? They're sending them to labour camps. Working the Jews until they drop dead. If they find you, you will die. The Germans haven't got to Britain yet, so it'll bide you some time. But I'm afraid the war is going badly for our side, so there's a big chance the Boche will get across the channel. However, it's the only option we've got."


The End

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