“Such poor copies und in wasser too.” The Gestapo man shook his head, “An establishment like yours should do better Herr Maverick.”
The elderly gambler smiled “Herr Hess solders come for the gambling & the ladies, not portraits, besides if they were too good Marshall Goering might whisk them away for his collection!”
Heis refilled his glass laughing at the quip. Maverick nodded, displaying a poker face with sixty years of practice, betraying neither knowledge of the German’s mission nor that only a thin layer of watercolor separated Heis from completing his task to recover what Goering had rightfully stolen.
“If Dube had been tempted by a young fraulien, that’s nature, I would have let him live, but to lose the bank plates to a alte Frau“, he laughed”, Herr Maverick that’s incompetence.”
Even with a lifetime’s practice it took effort for the old gambler to chuckle with the General who not only had revealed to him what had been sitting in his casino’s vault for days, but confirmed that while eight decades had taken most of her legendary beauty, Samantha Crawford still retained her wits, nerve, and an uncanny ability to put the men of his family at risk.
The old man eyed the gray parade streaming before him and turned to the youth fighting back tears.
“Herni, let me tell you something”, he said touching the brim of his worn Stetson, “Before winning this house I played hands from Santa Fe to Shanghai & the decades taught me my Uncle Beau was right: ‘No matter how hot cards run, eventually they cool’ The day will come when Germany’s hand cools.”
Resigned, Henri mumbled “Oui monsieur Maverick” then, nearly dropping his tray gasped, as he recognized the smile & twinkle in the ancient gambler’s eyes:
“Perhaps we might help it along.”