In a Wine Glass, Darkly
Intrigue and infighting within the tangled
circles of Nazi theology & technology
©2017 by Richard B. Messer
The rain continued as a steady shower all afternoon and into the evening hours as Mdm. Bigeard’s guests began to show for dinner at seven o’clock. Renard, now sporting a butler’s attire, greeted the femmes as they arrived. Taking their coats he hung them on the coat tree to drip into towels laid out below.
An hour before, the red fox manservant had knocked on the doors of his mistress’ guest’s rooms, announcing that dinner would be ready in an hour. Both Rica Mader and Menie Dumond had taken the time after lunch to take naps before getting ready to greet their hostess’s companions.
The first to make her entrance down the stairs was the Brittany spaniel, resplendent in a peach dress she found laid out on the vanity chair. Menie must have realized how tired she had been, that someone had entered the room without disturbing her. Then she thought that was how the house servants were trained to perform their duties.
She had taken a short time to grab a quick bath before dressing and dragging a brush through her thick reddish curls. The hunter was mildly surprised to have found her shoes cleaned and buffed. These she put on after donning a new pair of stockings before heading down to meet the guests.
But it was after the Brittany was being introduced to Mde. Bigeard’s inner circle that all eyes turned to the head of the stairs. Making a slow, upright descent down the steps, as a member of a minor noble house herself, Rica Mader trailed a gloved hand along the railing as she followed it down the way.
The Roe deer femme had carefully worked her auburn hair into two braids that were counter-coiled at the base of her skull. She wore a black pleated skirt that reached her ankles, a white blouse with ruffles at the cuffs and collar, and a black vest that bore bright embroidery, over which she wore her black lace shawl. And instead of her usual pince-nez glasses, the cervine medium bore a silver-rimmed monocle set into her right eye, a chain running from it to a buttonhole on the vest. In her left hand Rica carried a small clutch purse.
When she reached the bottom the doe stepped forward to give a small bow.
“Good evening, ladies,” Rica Mader said to her hostess and honored guests
“Good evening,” replied the others – except Menie – who bowed in returned.
Then Renard stepped out of the dining room, bowed to all present, and calmly announced that dinner was served. The gathering entered and took places around the long oak table. Renard led Rica to the end of the table that was held as an honored position opposite the hostess. Menie sat to her employer’s right hand. When all were seated by the tod, Mdm. Bigeard gave a brief prayer before the monkey servants wheeled in trolleys bearing urns of soups that were dished out to whomever was herbivore or predator.
As she enjoyed the potato soup, Rica studied each of their hostess’ own inner circle. One was feline as well; a young cream-colored femme who sported the same curly bob as Mdm. Bigeard. There were two canines, a poodle and terrier mix, who seem to be keeping up a nonstop banter just between themselves, but pausing long enough to answer someone else’s question. To Rica’s right hand, but closer to the brown-furred feline at the opposite end of the table, sat a rather large brown bear woman whose shoulder length hair had been styled into waves that looked rather well on her.
However, it was the pair of Belgian lop-eared rabbits to the Roe doe’s left hand that provided an interesting contrast to dress and manners. Both had the black muzzles, hands and hanging ears of their kind. And it was here that any other similarities ended. The younger femme wore her black hair coifed into a short, pomaded Josephine Baker style, replete with the spit curls on both cheeks and forehead. The older femme (Rica was sure they had been introduced as aunt and niece) was a page of history from the turn of the century. Her own graying hair was drawn up into what would be called a rather large charwoman’s bun, and her dress was modest but elegant with mutton chop sleeves and lace around the collar, along the bodice and cuffs. And she wore a pair of pince-nez glasses with a black grosgrain ribbon around her neck.
Following the soup, the entree was brought in; again designed for the palate of each femme around the table. The Brittany hunter was enjoying what would have been a small steak, while her employer was working her way through what she thought was a marvelous salad. And dessert was a fine chocolate torte. But the one act of indulgence not shared with the others was Menie DuMond’s refusal to take wine.
The older lagomorph stared over her own brimming glass. “Are you a teetotaler, my dear?’
The young canine shook her head, setting her curls to dancing. “Non, Madame, it’s just that I, eh . . .”
A gloved hand rested gently on hers. Rica Mader smiled before addressing the entire table.
“My secretary, and friend, cannot drink wine without venturing into her own divination that leaves her with a petit mal. As such I have to be ready to bring her out of her trance without undue embarrassment for her.”
The cervine femme smiled to her companion once more while giving her hand a friendly squeeze. Menie felt the insides of her ears warm with embarrassment while smiling in return. She knew that Rica was trying to be helpful as tactfully as possible with this gathering.
“Is it just wine? Not another dark drink, like coffee or tea?” This was boomed out by the ursine woman down by Mdm. Bigeard.
The Roe deer woman shook her head. “Just wine.”
Taking a sip from her own glass, the younger lop-eared femme said, “It could be because of her French ancestry, Auntie.” Then she saluted the Brittany with her glass.
That brought a smattering of “Here, here,” and “Well said,” from around the table as the other women raised their glasses as well.
Soon the dinner was over as Mdm. Bigeard (or Tainkong Shanlao in Rica’s mind) called for the gathering to retire to the drawing room. Again Renard stood at the doorway of the dining room to shepherd the ladies into the salon next door. Rica Mader noted that a fire was going in the large hearth, taking the chill away left by the steady rain outside. A couple of sofas and several chairs had been drawn up before the fire and around a low ovoid table.
When all were seated that the monkey servants again wheeled in a familiar trolley bearing a bottle of wine in an ice bucket as well as a tea service. When cups were filled and glasses brimming with burgundy, then the tod butler took down a flat wooden box from the mantle and opened the lid. The cervine femme was surprised to find it to be a humidor containing small cigars! This he carried from one female guest to the next before ending with his mistress. The only ones not partaking were the Roe doe and the cream colored feline. This furson had somehow retrieved a white celluloid holder and cigarette case from her coat out in the hall. And Rica was mildly surprised to see Menie DuMond accepting a light for her cigarillo from a lit spill that Renard held out to her. The Brittany hunter caught the lifted eyebrow of her employer who then gave a slight shake of her head and a small smile as well.
After the tod had bowed out of the room and drew the doors closed that the hostess addressed those assembled.
“Sisters, tonight we have an honored guest and member of the Vril Society, Mdm. Rica Mader from Berlin.”
Again there were raised glasses or cups. “She comes to us by way of our previous gathering, and own divination, from two nights before.” The black-curled feline turned her attention to the cervine guest who was fitting one of her blue cigarettes into the black and silver holder.
“My arrival at the train station was not an accident, Madame Mader, but was foreseen by the combine powers of this group.” Mdm. Bigeard spread her hands to include the Sisters of Isis. After taking a puff of her cigar, the feline continued.
“For some time now we have been detecting energies emanating from across our borders, and with our interest piqued, had quietly ‘listened’ into what was occurring over on the other side of the frontier.”
Drawing a small match from the ashtray holder on the table, Rica Mader lit her cigarette, enjoying the mellowness of the rum and the conscious-awakening power of the hashish being drawn into her lungs. Slowly letting the smoke out, she settled back into her chair. With legs crossed and left arm resting on the arm of the chair the doe held her smoke in her right hand up by her face. The lighting from overhead glittered on the silver rim of the monocle as she looked to the other faces around the table. She paused a little longer on her Brittany spaniel friend who took another draw on her cigarillo before turning her attention once more on the gathered group of sister mediums.
“Since you seem to have some idea of who and what I am, I will be clear as to what my position is within the society. As you probably know, ours is a group of twelve female mediums drawn together by one Maria Orsic, with the express purpose of receiving certain telepathic messages coming from a world circling the star Aldebaran, which is the eye of the constellation Taurus, the bull.”
There was a sudden intake of breath among the femmes as they broke into chattering amongst themselves. Except for the gray feline who calmly called for the others the settle down so that their guest could continue. When the hubbub died away, Rica Mader did continue:
“Reichfürher Heinrich Himmler, as does the Fürher, believe that the Aryan race originated from this world and are trying, by whatever means necessary, to establish contact with the inhabitants of this world.”
“Whatever for?” asked the elder lagomorph as she blew cigar smoke out her nostrils.
After knocking ash into the ashtray, the Roe doe settled back to take another drag from her cigarette, feeling the effects of the hashish opening her mind a bit more.
“As a secondary member of the society, I only fill in when someone within the group is absent. What I have learned thus far has been sketchy, but I believe that war is coming, and Hitler is planning on using whatever means that are at his disposal, including reaching out to people on a distant planet, to wage this war on the whole world!”
This announcement cause a greater stir among the assembled group. Menie DuMond sat within herself, taking a small draw of her own smoke and letting it out slowly. Her employer noted this, and felt sorry for having disturbed her about it. However, they had to press on with a far greater mission that the cervine had dropped themselves into.
“With the advent of the ‘Nuremburg Law’ that disallowed marriage between Jew and German, and the horror that has become known as ‘Kristallnacht’, with the attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses, my adopted country has taken the dark road to Hell. And it is only a small matter of time before all of Europe erupts, once more, into the conflagration of war!”
The poodle femme spoke up. “Adopted country?”
The deer femme nodded as she took another draw on her cigarette.
“My family is from Silesia, a part of Poland now but once an eastern province of the old German Empire. My father’s side had always been baronets in a valley southwest of Warsaw, as had his father, and going back for several generations to the old Polish Empire.
“My mother’s family were Romani – gypsies – who traveled the lands there but always found sanctuary in my sire’s domain. That was where my grandfather met my grandmother, who had been a fortuneteller with the traveling people. And this was how I acquired my, eh, ‘gift’.”
“And this was where you acquired the taste for hashish?”
The question came from Mdm. Bigeard – Tainkong Shanlao –who was staring straight at her guest through a gray veil of cigar smoke. Rica Mader then realized that this Vietnamese femme of French persuasion would know of the drug.
The doe femme merely nodded, the burning of embarrassment hot in her rounded ears.
“It was known among the Romani who had traveled through the lands once controlled by the Ottoman Turks, and where these ‘skills’ are passed to every other generation of women. The use of this drug was to ‘assist’ in the enhancement of those skills. My mother could, on occasions, ‘see’ things. But being the only daughter she ever had, the skills of divination came directly to me. I’ve an older brother who currently is the baronet of our valley, thus I have just a touch of nobility within me as well.”
She paused long enough to knock the ash into the ashtray, take another deep draw, then continued, her words punctuated by small puffs of smoke.
“Grandmother saw the signs before I started my time of puberty, and carefully set about training me in being a medium, far from the prying eyes of the Catholic Church. Mother knew this would have eventually happen, though she worried that someone outside the home would pass this fact onto the local priests.
“When I entered my sixteenth year I was introduced to the hashish; with Grandmother I gradually started with small amounts until I can inhale without becoming violently sick. When I was eighteen, Mother gave to me her cigar holder that you see here.” She held up the onyx and silver creation. “She used it to smoke small cigars with it as well, Mdm. Bigeard, as you do yours.”
Both femmes nodded to each other.
“But the war brought terrible devastation to the land. Germans and Russians fought back and forth over the countryside, until their Armistice allowed the Czarist forces to deal with the Bolsheviks while Hindenburg rushed troops westward to face the incursion of the Americans.
“Father died fighting for the Germans, thus the lands and titles passed to my brother, and now being under Polish rule, had to swear fealty to the Poles. I was born just a year before the start of the conflict, so we were very well trapped in our valley when the first army movements were seen passing through the valley towards the east.
“Some damn Prussian officers commandeered our estate for their own leisure, so my Mother was forced to serve them hand and foot. One even tried to force her into his bed until my grandmother simply told him that he will no longer enjoy such pleasures again. The next day they had to leave and see to establishing a defensive position far to the southeast of our home. “There came an artillery battle between the Prussians and the Russians, in which the offending officer was killed when a stray round struck the ammunition depot that he commanded, destroying it and killing all who were there. Thus did my grandmother’s prophecy bear fruit, and never again was my valley disturbed for the rest of the war!”