The flaxen horse trotted easily through the trees, the man riding it was whistling gently to himself. It was a beautiful day. The sun was rising above the mountains, the birds were singing and there was a warm breeze that whispered of summer. As he left the trees, he came to the small abandoned town that he rode past every morning. Only this time, there was something different about it. He dismounted and in two quick strides he was next to the old dirt road. Yes, that was in. Hoofprints. Hoofprints mixed with the prints of boots. He followed them, seeing that they stopped in front of an old cafe before once again leaving. There were also a different mark in the dirt as though someone had been dragged.
Suddenly he heard a moan.
“What’s that?” he muttered to himself. He looked around, seeing nothing. Then he heard it again. This time, he realized where it came from; inside the cafe. Hurrying up the steps he looked aghast at what lay in front of him.There on the floor lay a young man, not appearing to be more than seventeen years of age. But what what was the most appalling was the pool of blood that lay on the floor next to him. Even from here, he could see that it was coming from his shoulder, barely above his heart. Kneeling, he grabbed his wrist and felt for a pulse. To his surprise, he felt a slow but steady throb. Reaching into his pocket, he grabbed a clean handkerchief and pressed it onto the wound. A slight groan escaped the lips of the wounded man.
“A doctor. I've got to get a doctor,” the man exclaimed.
He stood, about to hurry away, then stopped. Looking back, he felt a sickening feeling in his stomach. Yes, this young man was a jew. That must have been what caused this. “Dear God, why do we have such wickedness in our country against your people.” he moaned. This changed everything. The man still needed a doctor, but he must be careful whom he brought.
Making a decision he mounted his horse and galloped down the road.
Major Ubel walked down the hall to the interrogation room. He knew Ramond was supposed to question them, but he didn’t trust him to get every bit of information. They were friends, but it was no secret that Ramond, even after all his training, still didn't enjoy questioning children. He wasn’t hard enough.
‘Well, if I get there before Ramond there’s nothing he can do about it.” Major Ubel muttered.
Walking in the room, he was surprised to see it was empty. . .except for Helena who lay sleeping on the bench.
At the sight of her a sudden anger swept over him. Why was she sleeping? She was supposed to be interrogated!
He walked over and roughly kicked her leg, causing it to fall off the chair and twist at a strange angle. With a sudden cry of pain, Helena sat up, grasping her leg with both hands.
An evil smile slithered across Major Ubels face. There was nothing he loved more than seeing someone helpless, totally at his mercy.
“So, did Ramond get anything out of you? Or your friend?”
Helena looked around the room, noticing for the first time that Max was no longer there.
“Max? Where is he? And Major Ramond? I haven’t seen him . I must have fallen asleep. But how did I get here?” she added, almost as an afterthought.
“Silence! I asked you a question. Answer it and don’t say anything more!” ge said, once again directing a sharp kick at her la, causing her to cry out in pain.
He walked over and sat in the chair behind the desk, the same chair Major Ramond had sat in less than five minutes earlier.
“Sit in this chair!” he directed, pointing to the chair where she had fallen asleep.
Helena shaily stood, trying to balance on herself on her one good leg.
Helena tried, wincing everytime any weight got put on her right leg. She was almost to the chair when she tripped, landing in a heap on the cement floor.
Major Ubel, by now furious, stood up and walked to her, then grabbing her by the arm, he lifted her up and shoved her unceremoniously into the chair. Then he resumed his seat behind the desk.
“Now tell me. Who were you with? We know he was a jew, so don’t even try to hide that.”
‘He--he was just someone we knew.”
‘Don’t you even think about trying those tricks with me! We all know he must have been on the Wehrmacht staff. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to help you escape. What was his name?”
“His--his name was Dan.” Helena said through clenched teeth, trying to keep from crying fronm the pain in her leg.
‘Speak up! I didn't hear!”
“His name was Dan.”
“Dan? That is a Jewish name. Don’t play games with me.; jews are never part of the Third Reich!” he said, striking her leg with the riding crop he carried. Helena winced, placing a hand over her mouth to muffle the scream of pain.
“Major Ubel. Is zere a problem here?”
Both occupants of the room looked up to see Major Ramond standing in the doorway.
“Ramond. I came to interrogate, but found only the girl. And she had fallen asleep. But not to worry. I've dealt with her.”
Major Ramond glanced at Helena. Her teeth were still clenched in pain and he had seen what Major Ubel did to Helena as he walked in the room. Who knew what he had done before then.
“Major Ubel.” Major Ramond started, trying to keep his voice even. “I have already questioned Max and taken him to a room vhere he vill spend the night. When I came in Helena vas sleeping as you have already noted. I moved her to ze bench and then questioned Max. I was just now coming back to take Helena to her room. Vhich is vhere she vill stay.” There was no mistaking the edge in the his voice.
When Major Ubel answered, the ice in his voice was even more evident and he did not try to hide it.
“If I interrogate, I interrogate and you can’t make me do otherwise.’
“It vould be best for you to remember that ve are not at var and zey are not legally prisoners! Zey have simply been detained. Another good thing for you to remember is zat I am ze Major in charge here, not you. And I vhat I say goes. Ve are of equal rank, I can not order you to do anything. But this I ask this of you as a friend and fellow co-worker for the same cause. Ze cause of Hitler and Germany!”
As he said the last word he bent down and picked up Helena, the excited the room, leaving Major Ubel standing alone in silent fury.
When Helena awoke the next morning the first thing she noticed was the sharp pain shooting through her leg. It hasn’t hurt this bad for weeks! She thought as she struggled to sit up.
Looking around at the tiny room, she noticed that the Major was sitting on a desk in the far corner. Why does he always keep me with him?
She shuddered as she remembered last night’s incident with Major Ubel. At least as long as I’m with him, Major Ubel won’t dare do anything to me.
The Major glanced over at her. “So, you’re awake. I vouldn’t try much vith that leg if I vere you. I think ve’re pretty much back to vhere ve started.”
Helena sighed. It had been so good to be able to get out, to walk, even though she had to be constantly leaning on something or someone. A sudden sadness swept through her as she thought of Daniel. He had worked so hard; done so much for them. And know he was dead. She shook her head to clear the image of him laying there, blood gushing as Major Ubel dragged her away. There was nothing they could have done to help him.
“How is Max?”
The Major stood. “He is in good hands.”
Helena shuddered. She dearly hoped that those “good hands” didn’t happen to belong to Major Ubel.