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Rocking Horse: Chapter 14

Heavens, did the Alliance not send her someone who could speak a normal language?
 

B

ecca sits down firmly on her trunk. If anyone wants to steal her trunk, they will have to take her with it.

The gendarmes approach, but they speak a gibberish of Turkish. Or perhaps another language. She tries French, but they shake their heads. Eventually, one of them says, in heavily accented French. “If you want your documents, you will have to come to the police station and make a report.”

“Merci beaucoup.” Her voice drips sarcasm. How helpful. When all they needed to do was to take chase, ferret out the youngsters — how far could they have run?

The gendarme points to a Jewish couple. Becca stares. They have only just arrived on the scene.

The woman steps forward. She is draped head to toe in a cloak of sorts, and a veil covers her face. She speaks Ladino, and Becca could understand if she concentrated, but she has no patience to listen and try to understand.

“Are you the people from the Alliance?” she asks.

The man shrugs, looks at his wife. Becca cannot see a thing through that primitive veil. She hears a woman’s voice, soft and high, let forth a stream of sound, none of which she can comprehend.

Heavens, did the Alliance not send her someone who could speak a normal language?

The man points at the trunk. He speaks one word after another, haltingly. “Vous. Maison. Alliance. Professeur de l’école.”

The woman stands, with bowed shoulders, veil quivering as she looks down at the floor.

Becca can bear it no longer.

She leans forward and lifts the woman’s veil. Dark eyes. Olive skin. An expression of shock and anger.

No matter. She is just as shocked, and even more angry. If these people had been here on time, as they were no doubt instructed, then none of this would have happened. Then she would still be in possession of her money and her passport.

She has not even patience for French as she spears her accusation. “Farvus zent ir nisht geven du tsu begrisn mir? And why were you not here to greet me?”

She is not prepared for the look she receives in return. “And are you such an innocent that you cannot manage alone for an hour?” the woman replies. She pushes Becca’s hand away from her veil and says something to her husband.

The man presses a coin into the palm of a little boy, who with one swing lifts the trunk, places it into a blue-painted wheelbarrow of sorts. He runs off ahead. G-d in Heaven, let her see it again. The man says something to his wife, who turns to her.

“Please follow us to our home, where you will be boarding. It is not a very long distance.”

The couple walk on ahead and Becca, bereft of bag and trunk and hope, follows after them.

“Why are you home?” Hannah walks into the dining room to see Felix at the table, surrounded by a flurry of papers. She strokes his hair and he catches her hand and kisses it.

He gives a long, drawn-out sigh. Something in his face is tight. “It is… how should I put this? Well, it’s complicated.”

“Try me.”

“I have put my dissertation on hold.”

She drops into a chair next to him. “What do you mean?”

“You heard me.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 683)

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