Wilhelm took a second look at the slip of paper in his hand and then glanced up and the ornate hotel. Yes, this is the right address. Taking a deep breath, he hurried up the front steps and entered the lobby.
Approaching the clerk, he set the card down on the desk, “I’m looking for the Autenburg family? I was given the address of this hotel and told they were staying here.”
“They’re not in at the moment..I can let them know you called. What was your name?”
“Wilhelm, Wilhelm Snyder.”
“Well, I’ll be sure and tell the Autenburgs that you called and I’m sure they’re sorry they missed you.”
“Wait, not all the Autenburgs are gone.”
Both Daniel and the clerk turned as a blond headed boy sauntered into the lobby
“I’m Maxwell Autenburg, but most people just call me Max.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Autenburg. I assumed he wanted to talk to your parents,” The clerk apologized.
Wilhelm turned, “Well, I can talk to Max for a moment. That is, if it’s okay with him?”
Max grinned, “Sure, I don’t have anything better to do.” He took a seat in one of the lobby chairs and Wilhelm lowered himself into one opposite him.
“So, you’re the one who helped my sister yesterday?”
Wilhelm nodded, “Yes, I’m assuming she told you about that?”
Max smiled, “You bet. You at least helped her,” a frown crossed his face, “not like Arnold.”
Detecting a note of judgment in his tone, Wilhelm turned, fully alert.
“You don’t like Arnold?”
Max scoffed, “What’s there to like? Sure he acts all nice and sweet around Lesiel and mother and father, but when I’m the only one with him he acts like I’m not even there. I’m still not sure how in the world he got father’s approval.”
“Where did you meet Arnold?”
“I think he went to our church a while ago. I know if he didn’t father wouldn’t let him near Leisel.”
“So you’re Christians?” Wilhelm inquired.
Max nodded, “As far back as I can remember father’s been teaching us from the Bible and we’ve always gone to church. I remember when I was saved. It was a few years ago. Father prayed with me and I accepted Jesus into my life. That’s when I realized there was a difference between just going to church and actually truly being saved. I always thought that life was easy once you got saved, but I sure have learned differently. Every day brings a new challenge, a new obstacle to overcome.”
Wilhelm nodded, “I can speak from experience, I know the struggle to try and live a godly life everyday. God’s principles can be hard to put into action. But, how old are you?”
Max flashed a smile, “I’m fourteen.”
“Is Lesiel your only sister?”
Max nodded, “Yes, and she’s the best big sister anyone could ever hope for, although we do have our arguments from time to time. Normally it’s my fault. The arguments I mean.”
“And how old is your sister?”
Max’s face took on a mischievous look, “It’s not polite to ask a lady’s age.”
“No, I think the correct way to say it is, ‘It’s not right to ask a lady her age’. I’m not asking a lady, I’m asking you; it’s completely polite.”
Max laughed, “I do suppose you’re right. Lesiel is twenty-two. But we’ve been pretty close, despite the age difference. And we live close to my uncle and his daughter is only six months younger than me, so we have a lot of fun together.”
“What’s her name?”
“Helena. She’s the only child in her family, and boy can she get into trouble. I’ve kept her out of more scrapes than I care to count! But the problem is, when I get her out of them, I always seem to land in them myself.”
Wilhelm smiled, feeling right at home next to this young boy. Not only does he share the same convictions as I do, he has a knack for making others feel welcome. A quality rarely found in someone so young. Wilhelm silently mused. “Give me an example,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, responding to Max's last remark.
“Give me an example of one of the times you tried to help Helena.”
Max grimaced, “I’m not sure if you want to hear it. I shouldn’t talk bad of her when she isn’t here.”
Wilhelm laughed, “I promise, I won’t think badly of her.”
“Alright. . .I guess. There was this one time we were over at Uncle Johann’s house for supper. He had another guest as well who had been spending the week and Helena did not like him. He was from Berlin and she thought he was too stuffy and stuck up. So she decided to teach him a lesson. There is a big oak tree in front of their house and she decided to climb it with a bucket of water. I saw her and climbed up after her. I managed to toss the bucket of water down before their guest came out, which didn’t make her happy, but as he walked out of their house I took a step back and the branch wasn’t strong enough to bear my weight, I fell and landed right on top of him, knocking him to the ground.”
Wilhelm was trying his best to contain his laughter, “Was he badly injured?”
Max shook his head, “We were both just fine. But oh boy, was he ever mad! He yelled at Uncle Joann something awful, then stormed off and left. I do believe that taught Helena not to ever try something like that again.”
Wilhelm chuckled, “She sure sounds feisty.”
“You’re telling me! One day she’s going to get us in some sort of trouble we won’t be able to get out of.”
Wilhelm and Max both turned as the doors to the hotel opened, “Oh, and here are my parents and Lesiel now,” he stood to greet them. “Mother, Father, Wilhelm came to see you.”
Wilhelm stood, “Mr. Autenburg, can I talk with you for a moment?”
The tall, dark haired man nodded, “Sure, outside a moment?”Wilhelm nodded, “That would work just fine.”