1942 – London
Prior to the British declaration of war on Germany on September 3, 1939, Euphemia had dilly-dallied with a number of the Ahnenerbe boys. These rather arrogant Nazi archaeologists hunted the globe searching for lost Germanic civilizations and treasures. But none of Euphemia’s contacts were what one could call “Germanomaniacs”, those silly extremist Heil-Hitler party-liners who used archaeology as a nationalistic propaganda tool to find evidence of German-Aryan occupation, which would then be used as justification for land “reclamation” by Germany.
Euphemia’s acquaintances were in her opinion simple archaeo-opportunists, perhaps a bit more empathy-deficient than most, who had unfortunately made a pact with Himmler – the devil himself – in order to get research funding and advance their careers. But for a brief moment in time they were a rather gregarious and generous lot who significantly added to what was becoming Euphemia’s remarkable collection of ancient curios. A number of the gang had even stashed their personal collections in her basement; she assumed they would more than likely remain there considering what was happening in Europe. In return for a few baubles,, she even helped a few get papers to escape to America. Times were most unsettled.
Dam this stupid war. For the first time in her life Euphemia was faced with a rather irritating dilemma. Over the last few years, and much against her better instincts, Euphemia had let herself be coerced into doing her part for the war effort by hosting a biannual fund-raising charity auction at her estate to help support the growing number of families who were housing the nearly 10,000 Kindertransport children from Germany, Austria, Czecholovakia, Poland and the Free City of Danzig. Rumours of massacres taking place in Europe were circulating that made even Euphemia set aside her innate disgust of the poor and lend a helping albeit small and rather dainty hand.
On June 10, 1942 at exactly 2:03 P.M. Euphemia fell in love for the first and only time in her life.
A cherubic toddler, having escaped her Quaker caregiver, walked strait up to Euphemia, looked at Euphemia with her curious emerald green eyes as if she owned her, and stuck up her chubby little paws to be picked up, which Euphemia did as commanded without thinking. The little vixen then promptly snuggled her sweet little face framed in luscious black ringlets into Euphemia’s lovely long neck, made a bizarre purring sound, and promptly fell asleep. She smelt like a puppy dog who had rolled in grass.
According to her caregiver the little one had arrived as an infant-in-arms in the last transport from Austria in 1939. Her parents were presumed “d-e-a-d”. Euphemia decided then and there to add the petite little miss, whom she decided to name Sydney (she never did ask what the girl had been called up to that point in time) after her mother, to her collection. Even if she was rather alive and young.
[Continue reading: Chapter 10]