Helena woke to the sounds of the birds chirping outside the window and the cool morning breeze filling the room. Clearly the Major loved the outdoors.
“Vell, I see you’re up bright and early. Did you sleep vell?”
Helena nodded. “Could--could I go outside today? It’s so beautiful!”
The Major leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. “I don’t see what harm it can do. I vould like some fresh air myself. Ada will come and bring you some breakfast and help you vith vhatever else you need. Vhen I am finished vith my breakfast, I vill come get you.”
‘And, Sir?” she hesitated as he opened the door.
“Yes? Vhat is it?” he replied rather impatiently.
“What about Max? Will I be able to see him?”
The Major gave her a withering look. “Vhat did I tell you just yesterday? Or have ve already forgotten? Do not speak unless I ask you a question first!” With that he slammed the door, and Helena could hear his footsteps moving rapidly down the hall.
Max sighed as he rolled over on the narrow cot in the small room he had been given. A small window high on the wall let in a bright beam of light. Max quickly made his bed, then paced the room.What will happen next? He was relieved to know that Daniel was here. Someone he could trust in all the confusion. Plus, Leisel will be more than happy to know that he’s well and alive, though she will worry about him being in here. I can explain it to her when we got home. “If we get home” he whispered.
“Vell, are ve ready to go?” The Major walked into his room.To Helena’s suprise, he actually had a smile on his face.
He walked over to the bed and bent down to pick her up. “Okay, vell then, lets go.”
Gathering her in his arms, he took her out of the room and down countless hallways to the door. Helena smiled as the sun hit her face. Excited, she tried to sit herself up, but once again fell back as the pain shot through her.
“I’ve got you.” The Major exclaimed. “Don’t move.”
Helena reluctantly let herself relax.
“I know you don’t like me, but you can’t fight me, and trying vill only hurt you worse.”
“What are you? A mind reader?”
He chuckled. “My occupation is a Major in the Third Reich. But I’ve had plenty of time to study people.”
As he was talking, they had entered a beautiful garden. Helena gasped as her eyes eagerly took in the red roses, white and yellow daisies, blue daffodils, and pure white lilies.
“Who would have thought there would be a place of such beauty here!” she exclaimed.
The Major sat her carefully down on a bench swing.
“Now you can rest here and get some fresh air. Is there anything you’d like?”
“Well, could I have some flowers?” At the Majors questioning look she hastened to explain. “To take back to the room and put on the table by my bed. It would brighten up the room so!”
The Major nodded. “Very well, I’ll have someone pick a bouquet and take them to my office.”
“Just one more question?”
‘What's your name?”
At this his eyes once again hardened and the smile left his face. “That Is no concern of yours.”
“And why not? You know my name, in fact, you seem to know everything about me! Would it be so hard to share something of yours?”
“If I vere you, I vould remember who takes care of you and learn to listen and obey him!”
“I don’t have to obey you!”
He chuckled, a sinister chuckle, all of the earlier friendliness gone from his face. “Vell, you can’t do anything vithout me, can you? Remember that.” He glanced at his watch. “Ve’ve been out here for over fifteen minutes. It’s time we go.”
Immediately Helena regretted her outburst. Another day in the same room would be torture.
Once again, for the second time that day, the Major seemed to read her thoughts.
“But, I’m am not a tyrant. Ve can stop at the library on the vay back to my office and you can choose a book or two to read.”
Helena sighed as she let the Major once again lift her. a book would be nice, much nicer than sitting all day doing nothing. But nothing, nothing could beat the outdoors and the fresh air. She took one last fleeting glance at the beautiful flowers as the Major carried her back inside.
“Will I be able to see Max?”
A look from the Major silenced her, and she resigned herself to another day alone. . .well not quite alone. As always, the Major would be there.
The Major cleared his throat. Helena sat on the bed, propped up on the pillows. Her face toward the window, a faraway look on her face. The book that was in her hand had fallen, unnoticed, on the floor.
At the sudden sound Helena jumped and turned toward the Major, who was standing with his arms crossed.
“I. . .I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“You have a visitor. Make it fast, we don’t have all day.
“A visitor? Is this a hospital or a prison?”
The Major pretended not to hear as he opened the door. Max stood there, accompanied by Daniel.
“Wilhelm, thank you for bringing Max. I vill call you vhen we are done here to take him back to his room.”
Wilhelm nodded and stepped back as the Major closed the door.
“Vell,” the Major walked over to his desk. “I vill give you two a moment to talk, then ve can have a chat. I know how much ve all enjoy them.”
Max shot him a glare as he walked over to the bed.
“Are you alright, Helena? Have they been treating you alright?”
“They? You mean the Major. The only other person I’ve seen is Ada, who comes and helps a couple times a day. Why does he insist on keeping me here? With him?”
“Well, I think part of it is that you know something. Something he can’t let out. By keeping his eye constantly on you, he is assured that you can’t tell anyone. Plus, you do need help with everything.”
“Don’t remind me!” Helena shuttered. “That’s the worst part of it. I depend on him and Ada for everything. And he holds it over me. What have you been doing?”
“Sitting most of the day. Dani-- I mean Wilhelm got me some paper and I wrote our parents. I also was outside a little this morning. It’s beautiful out!
Helena nodded. “That Major took me out a little this morning also. Did you see the flower garden?” She pointed to the vase of flowers on the small table. “These flowers came from there.”
“No, I didn’t see the garden, but if it was full of these flowers, I’m sure it was beautiful!” Max said, admiring the colorful bouquet.
“Do you like the flowers too?” The Major asked as he came and stood beside the bed.
“Max nodded, hesitantly. “Back home we have beautiful flowers gardens. Helena’s mother especially plants a beautiful garden every year.”
“Ahh, then that explains Helena’s delight when she saw the flowers. Would you like to go out again tomorrow? Together? Or course it wouldn’t be alone. I’d have to help Helena out and stay with you.”
Inwardly Helena sighed. Never quite alone. Always the Major is there. she thought to herself. He’s a Major. Doesn’t he have anything more important to do then babysit me?
“That would be nice.” Ma answered the Major, looking at him with eyes full of curiosity. Don’t worry. He’ll be back to his mean old self in a few minutes. Helena thought with disgust.
“As for our little chat. Ve all know that Austria is now part of Germany. But some,” he looked pointedly at Max,.“Some of us do not accept that and have to be dealt with by the Third Reich. That small secret is one only you know. And that is the reason you stay here. And will stay here, until once again there is peace in Austria.”
Max clenched his fists as he inwardly felt a sudden anger at the Major. It was the Major’s fault they were here, the Majors fault they were captured.
“Don’t get upset.” the Major said in a soothing voice as he noticed Max’s fists. “You vill be vell cared for. After all,. haven’t you been vell cared so thus far?”
“And what about our family?”
“They are being taken care of as vell.” With that, the Major stood and opened the door. “Come vith me, Max. I vill take you back to your room.”
“What about Wilhelm? I thought he was supposed to take me back.”
A flash of anger showed in the Major’s eyes. “ I vill say vhat goes. Now come.”
Helena looked listlessly out the window. It had been and hour since the Major met with Max, and he had still not returned. Not that it would have made much difference, he just had never been gone this long before.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps sounded in the hallway. Helena listened carefully. Yes, it was the Major, but he wasn’t alone. There was another pair of footsteps. Helena strained to listen the their voices as the stopped outside the door.
“Half the families are gone. Someone warned them of our plans.”
Another new voice answered. “Do you think it could be the children?”
The Major’s chuckle was unmistakable. “Which one? Helena, who can’t move without help or Max, who failed utterly at his assignment to warn them in the first place?”
The other man sighed. “I suppose your right. Then there's only one other explanation. Someone here isn't on our side and he’s transferring information to the enemies.”
“Remember, Franz. Ve are not at var yet.
“I know. BUt they are enemies of the Third Reich, and that’s the only explanation that makes sense.”
The Major agreed.” Ve’ll start monitoring everyone tomorrow. He must be caught, at all cost.”Daniel! He must be warned! But how?
“How soon will Max be out?” Helena asked as the Major set her down on the plush green grass. Breakfast was over and the sun was shining brighter then ever,
“Soon. I sent someone to get him.”
As the Major spoke, a Captain appeared with Max.
“Thank you, Franz. I trust everything is going well?”
“Yes, examinations are underway, sir.”
Helena froze as she heard his voice. This was the man who had been with the Major yesterday.
The Major drew Franz away from Max and Helena as they continued their conversation. Taking advantage of the time without the Major’s ever-watchful eyes, Helena motioned to Max, who had taken a seat beside her.
“We must warn Dainie!” she whispered. “They know there is a spy and they are monitoring everyone! He mustn't do anything.”
Max sat up, a shocked look on his face. “It may be to late! Daniel told me yesterday that he was working on a way to get us to our parents. Everyone who was warned is planning on crossing the border into Switzerland next week, then they are heading to France.”
“Next week? Why not now?”
“ ‘Conditions aren't right’ is all that he said. But our parents won’t leave without us. Daniel said it may take weeks. so they’re not planning on going. They are staying with some Daniel’s parents.”
“Daniel can’t try to help us now!” Helena whispered fiercely. “He must wait!” Suddenly Max brushed a finger across his lips. Immediately Helena fell silent.
“. . .Hitler has plans, big plans, for not only Austria, but for Czechoslovakia, and Belgium as vell. Ve can't fail in our assignments here.”
The Captain nodded. “I’ll make sure it’s done, Major Ramond.”
“And I vhant a report vithin the week.”
“Once again the captain nodded. As he turned to Walk away, Ramond stopped him. “One more thing. Get Wilhelm to help you on this. He hasn’t been here for too long, but I trust him. In fact, he’s about the only other person I trust other than you. We can be assured he isn't the informant.”
“Excuse me sir, but how can you be sure?”
“I am the Major here! I don’t answer to you!”
“Yes, sir. Do you still want him monitored?”
“Yes, but only for a day or two and only because of protocol.”
Helena leaned over a whispered. “Why does he think he can trust Daniel?”
“Daniel said he knew Major Ramond in Munich. They used to be friends and they entered the army together, but then something happened between them. “
“But that doesn’t make much sense. Why do we know him as Daniel and Ramond knows him as Wilhelm?”
“Helena, think. Haven’t you noticed anything different about Daniel?”
Helena gave him a puzzled look. “He’s the informer?”
“Think, Helena! His hair is darker, and his name? Daniel is a jew. He was adopted when he was just 5 and his parents gave him the German name Wilhelm. Only his family, my family, and now you know his real name.”
Helena sat back, shocked. “Wow, a jew working inside the Reich?”
Helena sat back, shocked. “Wow, a jew working inside the Reich?”
Max gave her a warning look. “No, Helena. Wilhelm is the son of a respectable German family, and he is a respected lieutenant in the Third Reich. That’s the end of it.”
“Vell, what have you two been talking about?”
Helena and Max turned instantly.
“Uh, just. . .home.” Helena answered. Did he hear anything we were saying.
“Home? And vere is home for you two?”
“You already know that. Where do you live?” Max inquired.
The Major sighed as he sat down beside them. “My family used to live in Munich, but a couple years ago we moved here, to Innsbruck. “
At the same time as Daniel’s family. Helena thought.
“Can I pick some flowers?” Max asked. “For Helena.” He was quick to explain at Ramond’s questioning look.
“Vel, she already has plenty back inside. But I'm sure a few more vould be alright.” He hastened to add as a look of disappointment spread over Helena’s face.”
“Which ones are your favorite?” Max asked turning to Helena.
“Why don’t we play a game.” Helena said, her eyes full of mischief. “I’ll choose a flower, then you go and guess which one it is.”
Ramond gave Helena a knowing grin. Helena shook her head slightly, motioning him not to say anything.
Max, who hadn’t noticed the exchange, smiled. “Okay.” He hurried over by the daisies. “These?”
He crossed the garden and pointed at the roses. These?”
Helena shook her head. “Nope.”
Six flowers and six “no’s” later Max walked back to Helena.
“Is there some other flowers I can’t see?”
At this Helena laughed, and , to both Helena and Max’s surprise, the Major laughed as well.
Max, finally catching on, joined in. “Okay, okay.” he said when he caught his breath. “It was a good joke.”
Helena turned to Ramond. “How did you know what I was doing?”
“ I used to do that to a friend of mine a long time ago.” Then the smile left his face. “Ve’ve been out here long enough. It’s time to go back in.”
“Please, can Max just pick a few flowers?” Helena implored.
“Vell, he must be quick. He vould have more time if you hadn’t played the joke on him.” The way he said was as though he was scolding her.
Helena kept quiet and let the remark pass. She had spent enough time trying to figure Ramond out. He was simply a mystery. As he bent lifted her into his arms, Max returned with the flowers.
“Those are beautiful!” She exclaimed as Max handed her the daisies.”Of course, just about any flower here is beautiful.”
They went back inside and Ramond lay Helena down on the bed, then left to get a vase for the flowers.
As soon as Ramond left, Max hurried over to the desk and shuffled through the papers.
“Max! What are you doing?”
“Looking for anything about the ‘plan’ He talked about.” Suddenly he stopped as his eyes quickly read the paper laying in plain sight.
“Helena! He gasped. “We must get out of here before this happens!”
“What? What is it?”
“Everything Hitler has said is a lie. He is planning to take over Czechoslovakia and Belgium, and everything here will change. Austria will change. And Helena. The jews. He’s getting rid of the jews!”
“Daniel! What will he do?”
“He will be fine. Wilhelm isn’t a jew. He’s a German citizen.” Max sternly reminded her. “And that’s the way it must always stay, do you hear? Always!”
The intensity in Max’s voice startled Helena. “Alright. He’s Wilhelm, a German lieutenant.”