CHAPTER T WO Elisheva’s daughter Miri has a baby boy. Though Elisheva is thrilled, there is something weighing her down about the simcha. Bratislava 5704/1944
The woman who had materialized shook her head from side to side. “I’m not your mother, child,” she said hoarsely. Gustav gaped, fascinated, at the pathways that the tears forged on her face. “I’m...” she murmured, and lowered her eyes to the large bundle in her arms. “You have the wrong address, ma’am,” Theodore said. “And I suggest that you get away from here before I summon our guards.” “No,” the woman choked out. “No. They told me that here, at the orphanage of Lucius Jan, they will agree to take my child. Who can I speak to?” She pulled a small fabric sachet out of somewhere. “To me,” Theodore said. “Only to me. And you have the wrong address. This place cannot take in another Jewish child. The problems we have with Gustav are far more than we can manage. Go. Get away.” The woman ignored him and held the little sachet between her fingers. “There is payment here for you, please...” Gustav gaped wide-eyed as the woman continued to cry. “Take him, sir, and take care of him. At least he should survive…” Theodore looked at the proffered sachet but didn’t take it. Gustav tugged at the man’s arm.
“What?” Theodore asked. “Theodore, Theodore, please...” he whispered. “Please! I promise to behave and not to make any more problems. Please, just take this boy. I’m ready to help you take care of him. His mother is so poor, so miserable. And she’s crying so much.” “It’s not your mother.” Theodore raised Gustav’s chin with his finger. “It’s a different woman, and we cannot accept her child. He’s too young. Look.” He pointed to the large bundle. “How old is he?” he snapped. “He’s already two and a half, sir,” the woman said, her tone still pleading. “He’s a quiet, calm child. He’s been living in hiding almost since he was born, and life has taught him to be disciplined and obedient. And here is all my jewelry. After the war, we’ll bring some more.” “You won’t be coming back after the war.” Theodore looked at the open expanses. “And you understand that as well as I do. But fine, we’ll take him for a trial. I hope that the trial will succeed and we won’t have to throw him out into the fields.” He took a key from his big key ring and unlocked the gate. “His name is Yosef Ludmir.” She looked at the bundle one last time. Gustav rose onto his tiptoes, but he couldn’t see a thing.
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