The Huntress - Kate Quinn.pdf - Dedication For my father\u2014 How I miss you Contents Cover Title Page Dedication Prologue Part I Chapter 1 Jordan Chapter

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Unformatted text preview: Dedication For my father— How I miss you! Contents Cover Title Page Dedication Prologue Part I Chapter 1: Jordan Chapter 2: Ian Chapter 3: Nina Chapter 4: Jordan Chapter 5: Ian Chapter 6: Nina Chapter 7: Jordan Chapter 8: Ian Chapter 9: Nina Chapter 10: Jordan Chapter 11: Ian Chapter 12: Nina Chapter 13: Jordan Chapter 14: Ian Chapter 15: Nina Chapter 16: Jordan Chapter 17: Ian Chapter 18: Nina Chapter 19: Jordan Chapter 20: Ian Part II Chapter 21: Nina Chapter 22: Jordan Chapter 23: Ian Chapter 24: Nina Chapter 25: Jordan Chapter 26: Ian Chapter 27: Nina Chapter 28: Jordan Chapter 29: Ian Chapter 30: Nina Chapter 31: Jordan Chapter 32: Ian Chapter 33: Jordan Chapter 34: Nina Chapter 35: Ian Chapter 36: Jordan Chapter 37: Ian Chapter 38: Nina Chapter 39: Jordan Chapter 40: Ian Chapter 41: Nina Chapter 42: Jordan Chapter 43: Ian Chapter 44: Nina Chapter 45: Jordan Chapter 46: Ian Chapter 47: Jordan Chapter 48: Ian Part III Chapter 49: Jordan Chapter 50: Ian Chapter 51: Jordan Chapter 52: Ian Chapter 53: Nina Chapter 54: Ian Chapter 55: Jordan Chapter 56: Nina Chapter 57: Ian Chapter 58: Jordan Chapter 59: Ian Epilogue: Nina P.S. Insights, Interviews & More . . .* About the Author About the Book Read On Praise Also by Kate Quinn Copyright About the Publisher Prologue Autumn 1945 Altaussee, Austria She was not used to being hunted. The lake stretched slate blue, glittering. The woman gazed over it, hands lying loose in her lap. A folded newspaper sat beside her on the bench. The headlines all trumpeted arrests, deaths, forthcoming trials. The trials would be held in Nuremberg, it seemed. She had never been to Nuremberg, but she knew the men who would be tried there. Some she knew by name only, others had touched champagne flutes to hers in friendship. They were all doomed. Crimes against peace. Crimes against humanity. War crimes. By what law? she wanted to scream, beating her fists against the injustice of it. By what right? But the war was over, and the victors had won the right to decide what was a crime and what was not. What was humanity, and what was not. It was humanity, she thought, what I did. It was mercy. But the victors would never accept that. They would pass judgment at Nuremberg and forever after, decreeing what acts committed in a lawful past would put a man’s head in a noose. Or a woman’s. She touched her own throat. Run, she thought. If they find you, if they realize what you’ve done, they will lay a rope around your neck. But where was there to go in this world that had taken everything she loved? This world of hunting wolves. She used to be the hunter, and now she was the prey. So hide, she thought. Hide in the shadows until they pass you by. She rose, walking aimlessly along the lake. It reminded her painfully of Lake Rusalka, her haven in Poland, now ruined and lost to her. She made herself keep moving, putting one foot after the other. She did not know where she was going, only that she refused to huddle here paralyzed by fear until she was scooped onto the scales of their false justice. Step by step the resolve hardened inside her. Run. Hide. Or die. THE HUNTRESS BY IAN GRAHAM APRIL 1946 SIX SHOTS. She fired six times on the shore of Lake Rusalka, not attempting to hide what she did. Why would she? Hitler’s dream of empire had yet to crumble and send her fleeing for the shadows. That night under a Polish moon, she could do whatever she wanted—and she murdered six souls in cold blood. Six shots, six bullets, six bodies falling into the dark water of the lake. They had been hiding by the water, shivering, eyes huge with fear—Jewish escapees from one of the eastbound trains, perhaps, or survivors fleeing one of the region’s periodic purges. The dark-haired woman found them, comforted them, told them they were safe. She took them into her house by the lake and fed them a meal, smiling. Then she led them back outside—and killed them. Perhaps she lingered there, admiring the moon on the water, smelling gun smoke. That nighttime slaughter of six at the height of the war was only one of her crimes. There were others. The hunting of Polish laborers through dense woods as a party game. The murder, near the war’s end, of a young English prisoner of war escaped from his stalag. Who knows what other crimes lie on her conscience? They called her die Jägerin—the Huntress. She was the young mistress of an SS officer in German-occupied Poland, the hostess of grand parties on the lake, a keen shot. Perhaps she was the rusalka the lake was named for—a lethal, malevolent water spirit. I think of her as I sit among the ranks of journalists in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, watching the war crimes trials grind on. The wheel of justice turns; the gray-faced men in the defendants’ box will fall beneath it. But what about the smaller fish, who escape into the shadows as we aim our brilliant lights on this courtroom? What about the Huntress? She vanished at the war’s end. She was not worth pursuing—a woman with the blood of only a dozen or so on her hands, when there were the murderers of millions to be found. There were many like her—small fish, not worth catching. Where will they go? Where did she go? And will anyone take up the hunt? Part I Chapter 1 Jordan April 1946 Selkie Lake, three hours west of Boston Who is she, Dad?” Jordan McBride had timed the question perfectly: her father jerked in surprise midcast, sending his fishing line flying not into the lake, but into the branch of the overhanging maple. Jordan’s camera went click as his face settled into comic dismay. She laughed as her father said three or four words he then told her to forget. “Yes, sir.” She’d heard all his curse words before, of course. You did, when you were the only daughter of a widowed father who took you fishing on fine spring weekends instead of the son he didn’t have. Jordan’s father rose from the end of the little dock and tugged his fishing line free. Jordan raised the Leica for another shot of his dark silhouette, framed against the feathery movement of trees and water. She’d play with the image in the darkroom later, see if she could get a blurred effect on the leaves so they seemed like they were still moving in the photograph . . . “Come on, Dad,” she prompted. “Let’s hear about the mystery woman.” He adjusted his faded Red Sox cap. “What mystery woman?” “The one your clerk tells me you’ve been taking out to dinner, those nights you said you were working late.” Jordan held her breath, hoping. She couldn’t remember the last time her father had been on a date. Ladies were always fluttering their gloved fingers at him after Mass on the rare occasions he and Jordan went to church, but to Jordan’s disappointment he never seemed interested. “It’s nothing, really . . .” He hemmed and hawed, but Jordan wasn’t fooled for a minute. She and her father looked alike; she’d taken enough photographs to see the resemblance: straight noses, level brows, dark blond hair cut close under her father’s cap and spilling out under Jordan’s in a careless ponytail. They were even the same height now that she was nearly eighteen; medium for him and tall for a girl—but far beyond physical resemblance, Jordan knew her father. It had just been the two of them since she was seven years old and her mother died, and she knew when Dan McBride was working up to tell her something important. “Dad,” she broke in sternly. “Spill.” “She’s a widow,” her father said at last. To Jordan’s delight, he was blushing. “Mrs. Weber first came to the shop three months ago.” During the week her father stood three-piece-suited and knowledgeable behind the counter of McBride’s Antiques off Newbury Street. “She’d just come to Boston, selling her jewelry to get by. A few gold chains and lockets, nothing unusual, but she had a string of gray pearls, a beautiful piece. She held herself together until then, but she started crying when it came time to part with the pearls.” “Let me guess. You gave them back, very gallantly, then padded your price on her other pieces so she still walked out with the same amount.” He reeled in his fishing line. “She also walked out with an invitation for dinner.” “Look at you, Errol Flynn! Go on—” “She’s Austrian, but studied English at school so she speaks it almost perfectly. Her husband died in ’43, fighting—” “Which side?” “That kind of thing shouldn’t matter anymore, Jordan. The war’s over.” He fixed a new lure. “She got papers to come to Boston, but times have been hard. She has a little girl—” “She does?” “Ruth. Four years old, hardly says a word. Sweet little thing.” Giving a tweak of Jordan’s cap. “You’ll love her.” “So it’s already serious, then,” Jordan said, startled. Her father wouldn’t have met this woman’s child if he wasn’t serious. But how serious . . . ? “Mrs. Weber’s a fine woman.” He cast his line out. “I want her to come to supper at the house next week, her and Ruth. All four of us.” He gave her a wary look, as if waiting for her to bristle. And part of her did just a tiny bit, Jordan admitted. Ten years of having it be just her and her dad, being pals with him the way so few of her girlfriends were with their fathers . . . But against that reflexive twinge of possessiveness was relief. He needed a woman in his life; Jordan had known that for years. Someone to talk to; someone to scold him into eating his spinach. Someone else to lean on. If he has someone else in his life, maybe he won’t be so stubborn about not letting you go to college, the thought whispered, but Jordan shoved it back. This was the moment to be happy for her father, not hoping things might change for her own benefit. Besides, she was happy for him. She’d been taking photographs of him for years, and no matter how wide he smiled at the lens, the lines of his face when they came up ghostlike out of the developing fluid said lonely, lonely, lonely. “I can’t wait to meet her,” Jordan said sincerely. “She’ll bring Ruth next Wednesday, six o’clock.” He looked innocent. “Invite Garrett, if you want. He’s family too, or he could be—” “Subtle as a train wreck, Dad.” “He’s a fine boy. And his parents adore you.” “He’s looking ahead toward college now. He might not have much time for high school girlfriends. Though you could send me to BU with him,” Jordan began. “Their photography courses—” “Nice try, missy.” Her father looked out over the lake. “The fish aren’t biting.” And neither was he. Taro, Jordan’s black Labrador, raised her muzzle from where she’d been sunning on the dock as Jordan and her dad walked back to shore. Jordan snapped a shot of their side-by-side silhouettes thrown across the water-warped wood, wondering what four silhouettes would look like. Please, Jordan prayed, thinking of the unknown Mrs. Weber, please let me like you. A SLIM HAND extended as blue eyes smiled. “How lovely to meet you at last.” Jordan shook hands with the woman her father had just ushered into the sitting room. Anneliese Weber was small and slender, dark hair swept into a glossy knot at her nape, a string of gray pearls her only jewelry. A dark floral dress, darned but spotless gloves, quiet elegance with touches of wear and tear. Her face was young—she was twenty-eight, according to Jordan’s dad—but her eyes looked older. Of course they did; she was a war widow with a young child, starting over in a new country. “Very pleased to meet you,” Jordan said sincerely. “This must be Ruth!” The child at Anneliese Weber’s side was darling; blond pigtails and a blue coat and a grave expression. Jordan extended a hand, but Ruth shrank back. “She’s shy,” Anneliese apologized. Her voice was clear and low, almost no trace of a German accent. Just a little softness on the V’s. “Ruth’s world has been very unsettled.” “I didn’t like strangers at your age either,” Jordan told Ruth. Not true, really, but something about Ruth’s wary little face made Jordan long to put her at ease. She also longed to take Ruth’s picture—those round cheeks and blond braids would just eat up the lens. Jordan’s father took the coats, and Jordan dashed into the kitchen to check the meatloaf. By the time she came out, whipping off the towel she’d tucked around her waist to protect her green Sunday taffeta, her father had poured drinks. Ruth sat on the couch with a glass of milk, as Anneliese Weber sipped sherry and surveyed the room. “A lovely home. You’re young to keep house for your father, Jordan, but you do it very well.” Nice of her to lie, Jordan approved. The McBride house always looked mussed: a narrow brownstone three stories up and down on the lace-curtain side of South Boston; the stairs steep, the couches worn and comfortable, the rugs always skidding askew. Anneliese Weber did not seem like the type who approved of anything being askew, with her spine ramrod straight and every hair in place, but she looked around the room with approval. “Did you take this?” She gestured to a photograph of the Boston Common, mist wrapped and tilted at an angle that made everything look otherworldly, a dream landscape. “Your father tells me you are quite a . . . What is the word? A snapper?” “Yes.” Jordan grinned. “Can I take your picture later?” “Don’t encourage her.” Jordan’s dad guided Anneliese to the couch with a reverent touch to the small of her back, smiling. “Jordan already spends too much time staring through a lens.” “Better than staring at a mirror or at a film screen,” Anneliese replied unexpectedly. “Young girls should have more on their minds than lipstick and giggling, or they will grow from silly girls to sillier women. You take classes for it—picture-taking?” “Wherever I can.” Since Jordan was fourteen she’d been signing up for whatever photography classes she could pay for out of her allowance, and sneaking into college courses wherever she could find a professor willing to wink at the presence of a knock-kneed junior high schooler lurking in the back row. “I take classes, I study on my own, I practice—” “One has to be serious about something in order to be good at it,” Anneliese said, approving. A warm glow started in Jordan’s chest. Serious. Good. Her father never saw Jordan’s photography that way. “Messing about with a camera,” he’d say, shaking his head. “Well, you’ll grow out of it.” I’m not going to grow out of it, Jordan had replied at fifteen. I’m going to be the next Margaret Bourke-White. Margaret who? he’d responded, laughing. He laughed nicely, indulgently—but he’d still laughed. Anneliese didn’t laugh. She looked at Jordan’s photograph and nodded approval. For the first time Jordan allowed herself to think the word: Stepmother . . . ? At the dining room table Jordan had set with the Sunday china, Anneliese asked questions about the antiques shop as Jordan’s father heaped her plate with the choicest cuts of everything. “I know an excellent treatment to make colored glass shine,” she said as he talked about a set of Tiffany lamps acquired at an estate sale. She quietly corrected Ruth’s grip on her fork as she listened to Jordan talk about her school’s forthcoming dance. “Surely you have a date, a pretty girl like you.” “Garrett Byrne,” Jordan’s father said, forestalling her. “A nice young man, joined up to be a pilot at the end of the war. He never saw combat, though. Got a medical discharge when he broke his leg during training. You’ll meet him Sunday, if you’d care to accompany us to Mass.” “I would like that. I’ve been trying so hard to make friends in Boston. You go every week?” “Of course.” Jordan coughed into her napkin. She and her father hardly went to Mass more than twice a year, Easter and Christmas, but now he sat there at the head of the table positively radiating piety. Anneliese smiled, also radiating piety, and Jordan mused about courting couples on their best behavior. She saw it every day in the halls at school, and apparently the older generation was no different. Maybe there was a photo-essay in that: a series of comparison photographs, courting couples of all ages, highlighting the similarities that transcended age. With the right titles and captions, it might make a piece strong enough to submit to a magazine or newspaper . . . Plates were cleared, coffee brought out. Jordan cut the Boston cream pie Anneliese had brought. “Though I don’t know why you call it pie,” she said, blue eyes sparkling. “It’s cake, and don’t tell an Austrian any differently. We know cake, in Austria.” “You speak such good English,” Jordan ventured. She couldn’t tell yet about Ruth, who hadn’t spoken a word. “I studied it at school. And my husband spoke it for business, so I practiced with him.” Jordan wanted to ask how Anneliese had lost her husband, but her father shot her a warning glance. He’d already given clear instructions: “You’re not to ask Mrs. Weber about the war, or her husband. She’s made it quite clear it was a painful time.” “But don’t we want to know everything about her?” Much as Jordan wanted her father to have someone special in his life, it still had to be the right someone. “Why is that wrong?” “Because people aren’t obliged to drag out their old hurts or dirty laundry just because of your need to know,” he answered. “No one wants to talk about a war after they’ve lived through it, Jordan McBride. So don’t go prying where you’ll be hurting feelings, and no wild stories either.” Jordan had flushed then. Wild stories—that was a bad habit going back ten years. When her barely remembered mother had gone into the hospital, seven-year-old Jordan had been packed off to stay with some well-meaning dimwit of an aunt who told her, Your mother’s gone away, and then wouldn’t say where. So Jordan made up a different story every day: She’s gone to get milk. She’s gone to get her hair done. Then when her mother still didn’t come back, more fanciful stories: She’s gone to a ball like Cinderella. She’s gone to California to be a movie star. Until her father came home weeping to say, Your mother’s gone to the angels, and Jordan didn’t understand why his story got to be the real one, so she kept making up her own. “Jordan and her wild stories,” her teacher had joked. “Why does she do it?” Jordan could have said, Because no one told me the truth. Because no one told me “She’s sick and you can’t see her because you might catch it” so I made up something better to fill the gap. Maybe that was why she’d latched so eagerly onto her first Kodak at age nine. There weren’t gaps in photographs; there wasn’t any need to fill them up with stories. If she had a camera, she didn’t need to tell stories; she could tell the truth. Taro lolloped into the dining room, breaking Jordan’s thoughts. For the first time, she saw little Ruth grow animated. “Hund!” “English, Ruth,” her mother said, but Ruth was already on the floor holding out shy hands. “Hund,” she whispered, stroking Taro’s ears. Jordan’s heart melted completely. “I’m getting a picture,” she said, slipping out of her own chair and going for the Leica on the hall table. When she came back in and started clicking, Ruth had Taro piled over her lap as Anneliese spoke softly. “If Ruth seems very quiet to you, or flinches, or acts odd —well, you should know that in Altaussee before we left Austria, we had a very upsetting encounter by the lake. A refugee woman who tried to rob us . . . It’s made Ruth wary and strange around new people.” That seemed to be all Anneliese was going to say. Jordan stamped down her questions before her dad could shoot her another glance. He was perfectly correct, after all, when he pointed out that Anneliese Weber wasn’t the only person who didn’t care to discuss the war—no one did now. First everyone had celebrated, and now all anyone wanted to do was forget. Jordan found it hard to believe that at this time last year there had still been wartime news and stars hanging in windows; victory gardens and boys at school talking about whether it would all be over before they got old enough to join up. Anneliese smiled down at her daughter....
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  • Fall '19
  • Bankruptcy in the United States, War crime, Nuremberg Trials, Jordan McBride

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