I know, the last part to this story was really short! Hopefully today I can make up for that…Get ready for a 50,000 word part…(Okay, no it’s not that long.)
Echoes of Honor Pt. 6
Sophie followed David up the rickety stairs. Philippe and Karl were already outside by this time, scouting the area to make sure it was safe. She shivered, wishing she had thought to grab her old grey coat. It was too late now, and they didn’t have much time.
Then it happened, David, just ahead of her tripped in the dark, knocking her back. Her ankle caught in-between a railing rung and she felt a painful wrench. She caught herself just before she fell but the ugly snapping sound she heard in her ankle made her sick.
The baby in her arms let out a wail because Sophie held her so tightly.
“Sophie!” David yelled, turning towards her. “Are you hurt.”
The painful expression on her face answered him. “My ankle.”
“Let me see.”
“No David…You have to get out of here.” Sophie, swallowing the agony in her ankle, pulled herself up by the railing. “They’d arrest you all before me I’m sure.” Her voice wavered. “Go on with the others.”
As she spoke, David helped her up the last few steps and out of the closet. He moved the clothing back over the trapdoor.
“I’m not leaving you.” He said firmly.
Sophie saw the open window, curtains fluttering in the night breeze. “Don’t be crazy David.” She sank down on a chair by the desk. “We don’t have a choice. I can’t run like this.”
“I told you I’m not leaving.”
“David,” Sophie said firmly. “You don’t have a choice. They will kill you.”
A flicker of fear ran through his eyes. “I can’t leave you here Sophie…What if…” His voice caught. “What if they hurt you?”
Sophie felt the fear in her growing. She couldn’t believe she was volunteering to put herself in the face of danger. For a split second, she wanted to try and get herself out the window and start running. Sophie glanced at her ankle. It hurt too much.
She couldn’t let David get caught. After all he had been through…she wouldn’t let the German’s get their hands on him.
“Go David.” Even as she said the words, she heard a sound of vehicles coming through the alley. “GO!”
With one fleeting look, he clambered out the window. “Stay safe Sophie, Please…” He disappeared.
Downstairs, Sophie heard the tramping of boots and loud voices. She thought quickly. Turning down the covers of the bed, Sophie crawled in, sliding the baby under the quilt beside her. She ran her fingers through her hair, messing it up. If she could, she’d pretend she was Mrs. Grey’s visiting daughter…everything might be okay.
Swallowing hard, she looked up to the ceiling, remembering something. Back when she was a little girl, her mother would sing to her whenever she was frightened. The words of one of her favorites were coming back to her…Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee, E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me. Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.
God…She hadn’t thought about him in a long while. It hurt to think about Him. Why hadn’t God saved her family…David’s family…All the families being torn about by this war. The fact was…She was angry at Him. Very angry.
He could have saved us. She whispered. He could have saved all of us…Why didn’t He? Doesn’t He love us?
She heard the pounding jackboots coming up the stairs and Mrs. Grey flustered voice telling the soldiers there wasn’t anything that would interest them in this house.
The door to the bedroom burst open, and Sophie bit the side of her cheek. Please, God. She suddenly whispered to herself. Keep me safe.
“What is this!” A tall German soldier stepped into the room. His eyes were dark and cruel. They gave Sophie chills.
Taking a deep breath, Sophie sat up and pretended to look dazed and sleepy. “What’s going on mother…Who are these men?” Sophie brushed hair out of her face and rubbed her eyes.
“Who are you?” The hand that grabbed her arm was like a vice. The ugly eyes didn’t leave Sophie’s face.
“I’m her daughter,” Sophie said nodding to Mrs. Grey.
“Yes.” Mrs. Grey stepped forward, catching the look in Sophie’s eyes. “This is my daughter. She’s come a long way and is very tired. Please leave her alone.”
The German scoffed, flinging Sophie’s arm away. “Who’s the child?”
Sophie glanced at the baby beside her. “She’s my daughter…My husband,” Sophie let her voice break, and she buried her head in her hands.
“Her husband was killed in an auto accident.” Mrs. Grey gently patted Sophie on the shoulder. “She’s been through so much…Oh my, dear.” Mrs. Grey purred, stroking Sophie’s head. “It’s alright.”
“I don’t believe you.” The soldier hissed. “That child is a Jew, and this girl is aiding our enemies.”
Sophie stared at him wide-eyed. How on earth could this soldier know that the baby was a Jew? Her hair wasn’t even dark. Something about this soldier frightened Sophie…What was it?
Evil glinted in the man’s blue eyes. He reached out, and before Sophie could stop him, grabbed the baby. The child let out a terrified wail, kicking her small legs.
“No!” Sophie screamed. “You can’t have her.” She lunged at the man, trying to get the baby.
A solid fist knocked Sophie against the wall. “I will do what I want.” The man hissed between his teeth again. “And if I ever meet you again little girl…” He tapped her on the head. “It won’t be so pleasant.”
Turning, he stormed out of the room and down the steps with the rest of his men. The baby’s panicked screams tore through Sophie, and she tried to run after him. Mrs. Grey held her back.
“No child.” She whispered. “He’ll kill you. There’s nothing we can do now.”
Sobbing, Sophie sank against Mrs. Grey. God…Where was He now?
Sophie drank the warm tea Mrs. Grey offered. “You should be safe for a few hours dear. Then you must be on your way.” Gently hands stroked Sophie’s hair. “You did all you could for that child…She’s in God’s hands now.”
Sophie tensed. She didn’t understand how God could let so much pain in the world.
“Sophie,” Mrs. Grey lay a light hand on her shoulder. “Sometimes, when we think we are at our worst, God is working the most.”
“How,” Sophie’s voice broke. “How is He working through this?”
“I don’t know dear. It all seems so hazy and painful right now.” She wrapped an arm around Sophie. “God gives courage in the times when we most need it.”
“But it hurts.” Sophie held a hand to her heart. “I can’t be brave.”
Getting up, Mrs. Grey retrieved something from a small bookcase. It was a little leather-bound book.
“I want you to have this Sophie. This will show you how to be brave.”
It was a little Bible that fit in her hand. “I can’t take this Mrs. Grey. It looks special.”
“Aye.” Mrs. Grey replied. “It is…So very special that I want to share it with you.” She paused, looking away. “Sophie, I want to share something else with you…Something very precious.”
“Come with me, dear.” Both of them left the kitchen, and Mrs. Grey led her to another bedroom. “Help me move the bed.”
Puzzled at the odd request, Sophie helped her. When the bed was moved away, Sophie gasped. There was a small trapdoor in the floor.
“I have another treasure in here Sophie. One that needs your help.” Bending to lift the trapdoor, Mrs. Grey smiled gravely at her. “Come and look.”
Carefully, Sophie peered over the edge. A small face looked up at her, blinking once then twice.
“Whoo are you?” A small voice asked.
Sophie sat back. “It’s a little boy.”
“His name is Petr.” Mrs. Grey said, reaching down and lifting him out of his hiding place.
He was an adorable child who couldn’t be more than seven. Dark hair that curled at the ends, a babyish face, and big brown eyes. His little coat was threadbare, and scars marred his sweet face.
“I’ve been hiding him here for weeks.”
Sophie let out a sigh. “None of us ever knew.”
“It wasn’t safe for you to know. Petr is Jewish. I found him beaten almost to death in a ditch alongside the road when I went to the market several weeks ago.” Mrs. Grey smoothed his hair. “He’s a little angel.” She fingered a scar above his eye. “He won’t talk about what happened to his mama and papa.”
“He’s adorable.” Sophie smiled at Petr, and he smiled back. With an ache, she remembered the baby. Who’d never get to grow up.
“Sophie, I know this will be a hard request, but,” Mrs. Grey breathed deeply. “Will you take Petr with you…To your new hideout.”
Sophie wanted to say no. She wanted to run away and hide in a hole until this war was over. Yet she couldn’t. Petr was staring at her with such pleading look that she felt herself nodding.
“I’ll take him. I’ll make sure he’s safe.”
David groaned as Karl shoved him up against the wall. “You left my sister alone! Alone to face those soldiers…Augh!”
“Come on Karl…” David winced. “She told me…No she demanded I leave.”
“Oh, and you just listened to her is that it? What kind of man are you?”
“Alright!” Philippe said from where he stood. “That’s enough you too. Sophie’s in enough trouble without you two at each other’s throats. Now sit down both of you and let’s think this through!” Philippe shoved Karl into a chair and glared at him.
“I told you our wounded friend would get us all into trouble.” The words wounded friend were sarcastic coming from David’s mouth.
“Would you stop that! Wilhelm hasn’t done anything to warrant your behavior towards him.”
“I said enough!” Philippe cried. “Fighting over Wilhelm is getting us nowhere. He’s just a boy who got himself hurt. We all knew the soldiers would come one day.”
Karl through his head against the back of his chair. Their new hideout was definitely not as cozy as the last. It was a rundown shack made out of crumbling rock. It wasn’t sturdy, but it was safe…not the first place the German’s might look.
Karl put his head in his hands. Sophie…She could be hurt. Why hadn’t he watched out for her? What kind of brother was he?
“Listen, Karl,” David said softly. “I’m sorry alright…I should’ve, I would’ve stayed with her if she’d let me.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“There,” Philippe said, looking satisfied. “That wasn’t as hard as you thought.
Karl rolled his eyes. Glancing towards the corner of the shack, he saw Wilhelm. The boy wasn’t recovering well. He had a high fever and kept tossing and turning. It’d be a miracle if he survived. What secrets did he hold? Why had he wanted to meet Karl and his group?
“You know what we should do?” Philippe said as he leaned forward. “I think we should pray.”
“P-Pray?” David stuttered.
“Yeah. You know like bowing your head and closing your eyes kind of praying.”
“I don’t really want to,” David said softly.
Karl shrugged. Prayer? It seemed so trivial in light of their situation. He had prayed as a boy but now that he was a man he had entirely forgotten about it. How would it help? It wouldn’t magically bring Sophie back.
“I think we should,” Philippe said. “It might help.”
“Fine,” David threw up his hands. “Pray by all means, but leave me out of it.”
“Karl?” Philippe shot him a questioning look.
“Sure…Maybe God will hear us.”
Wasn’t quite a 50,000 word epic but close! 😀 Hope you enjoyed.