"I'm sorry I have dark hair," Ellen murmured. "It made them suspicious."
Mama reached over quickly and took Ellen's hand. "You have beautiful hair, Ellen, just like your mama's," she said. "Don't ever be sorry for that. Weren't we lucky that Papa thought so quickly and found the pictures? And weren't we lucky that Lise had dark hair when she was a baby? It turned blond later on, when she was two or so."
"In between," Papa added, "she was bald for a while!"
Ellen and Annemarie both smiled tentatively. For a moment their fear was eased.
Tonight was the first time, Annemarie realized suddenly, that Mama and Papa had spoken of Lise. The first time in three years.
Outside, the sky was beginning to lighten. Mrs. Johansen went to the kitchen and began to make tea.
"I've never been up so early before," Annemarie said. "Ellen and I will probably fall asleep in school today!"
Papa rubbed his chin for a moment, thinking. "I think we must not take the risk of sending you to school today," he said. "It is possible that they will look for the Jewish children in the schools."
"Not go to school?" Ellen asked in amazement. "My parents have always told me that education is the most important thing. Whatever happens, I must get an education."
"This will only be a vacation, Ellen. For now, your safety is the most important thing. I'm sure your parents would agree. Inge?" Papa called Mama in the kitchen, and she came to the doorway with a teacup in her hand and a questioning look on her face.
"We must take the girls to Henrik's. You remember what Peter told us. I think today is the day to go to your brother's."
Mrs. Johansen nodded. "I think you are right. But I will take them. You must stay here."
"Stay here and let you go alone? Of course not. I wouldn't send you on a dangerous trip alone."
Mama put a hand on Papa's arm. "If only I go with the girls, it will be safer. They are unlikely to suspect a woman and her children. But if they are watching us—if they see all of us leave? If they are aware that the apartment is empty, that you don't go to your office this morning? Then they will know. Then it will be dangerous. I am not afraid to go alone."
It was very seldom that Mama disagreed with Papa. Annemarie watched his face and knew that he was struggling with the decision. Finally he nodded, reluctantly.
"I will pack some things," Mama said. "What time is it?"
Papa looked at his watch. "Almost five," he said.
"Henrik will still be there. He leaves around five. Why don't you call him?"
Papa went to the telephone. Ellen looked puzzled. "Who is Henrik? Where does he go at five in the morning?" she asked.
Annemarie laughed. "He's my uncle—my mother's brother. And he's a fisherman. They leave very early, all the fishermen, each morning—their boats go out at sunrise.
"Oh, Ellen," she went on. "You will love it there. It is where my grandparents lived, where Mama and Uncle Henrik grew up. It is so beautiful—right on the water. You can stand at the edge of the meadow and look across to Sweden!"
She listened while Papa spoke on the telephone to Uncle Henrik, telling him that Mama and the children were coming for a visit. Ellen had gone into the bathroom and closed the door; Mama was still in the kitchen. So only Annemarie was listening.
It was a very puzzling conversation.
"So, Henrik, is the weather good for fishing?" Papa asked cheerfully, and listened briefly.
Then he continued, "I'm sending Inge to you today with the children, and she will be bringing you a carton of cigarettes.
"Yes, just one," he said, after a moment. Annemarie couldn't hear Uncle Henrik's words. "But there are a lot of cigarettes available in Copenhagen now, if you know where to look," he went on, "and so there will be others coming to you as well, I'm sure."
But it wasn't true. Annemarie was quite certain it wasn't true. Cigarettes were the thing that Papa missed, the way Mama missed coffee. He complained often—he had complained only yesterday—that there were no cigarettes in the stores. The men in his office, he said, making a face, smoked almost anything: sometimes dried weeds rolled in paper, and the smell was terrible.
Why was Papa speaking that way, almost as if he were speaking in code? What was Mama really taking to Uncle Henrik?
Then she knew. It was Ellen.
The train ride north along the Danish coast was very beautiful. Again and again they could see the sea from the windows. Annemarie had made this trip often to visit her grandparents when they were alive, and later, after they were gone, to see the cheerful, suntanned, unmarried uncle whom she loved.
But the trip was new to Ellen, who sat with her face pressed to the window, watching the lovely homes along the seaside, the small farms and villages.
"Look!" Annemarie exclaimed, and pointed to the opposite side. "It's Klampenborg, and the Deer Park! Oh, I wish we could stop here, just for a little while!"
Mama shook her head. "Not today," she said. The train did stop at the small Klampenborg station, but none of the few passengers got off. "Have you ever been there, Ellen?" Mama asked, but Ellen said no.
"Well, someday you will go. Someday you will walk through the park and you will see hundreds of deer, tame and free."
Kirsti wriggled to her knees and peered through the window. "I don't see any deer!" she complained.
"They are there, I'm sure," Mama told her. "They're hiding in the trees."
The train started again. The door at the end of their car opened and two German soldiers appeared. Annemarie tensed. Not here, on the train, too? They were everywhere.
Together the soldiers strolled through the car, glancing at passengers, stopping here and there to ask a question. One of them had something stuck in his teeth; he probed with his tongue and distorted his own face. Annemarie watched with a kind of frightened fascination as the pair approached.
One of the soldiers looked down with a bored expression on his face. "Where are you going?" he asked.
"Gilleleje," Mama replied calmly. "My brother lives there. We are going to visit him."
The soldier turned away and Annemarie relaxed. Then, without warning, he turned back. "Are you visiting your brother for the New Year?" he asked suddenly.
Mama stared at him with a puzzled look. "New Year?" she asked. "It is only October."
"And guess what!" Kirsti exclaimed suddenly, in a loud voice, looking at the soldier.
Annemarie's heart sank and she looked at her mother. Mama's eyes were frightened. "Shhh, Kirsti," Mama said. "Don't chatter so."
But Kirsti paid no attention to Mama, as usual. She looked cheerfully at the soldier, and Annemarie knew what she was about to say: This is our friend Ellen and it's her New Year!
But she didn't. Instead, Kirsti pointed at her feet. "I'm going to visit my Uncle Henrik," she chirped, "and I'm wearing my brand-new shiny black shoes!"
The soldier chuckled and moved on.
Annemarie gazed through the window again. The trees, the Baltic Sea, and the cloudy October sky passed in a blur as they continued north along the coast.
"Smell the air," Mama said when they stepped off the train and made their way to the narrow street, "Isn't it lovely and fresh? It always brings back memories for me."
The air was breezy and cool, and carried the sharp, not unpleasant smell of salt and fish. High against the pale clouds, seagulls soared and cried out as if they were mourning.
Mama looked at her watch. "I wonder if Henrik will be back yet. But it doesn't matter. The house is always unlocked. Come on, girls, we'll walk. It isn't far, just a little under two miles. And it's a nicc day. We'll take the path through the woods instead of the toad. It's a little longer, but it's so pretty,"
"Didn't you love the castle when we went through Helsingør, Ellen?" Kirsti asked. She had been talking about Kronborg Castle ever since they had seen it, sprawling massive and ancient, beside the sea, from the train. "I wish we could have stopped to visit the castle. Kings live there. And queens."
Annemarie sighed in exasperation with her little sister. "They do not," she said. "They did in the old days. But there aren't any kings there now. Denmark only has one king, anyway. And he lives in Copenhagen."
But Kirsti had pranced away, skipping along the sidewalk. "Kings and queens," she sang happily. "Kings and queens."
Mama shrugged and smiled. "Let her dream, Annemarie. I did the same when I was her age."
She turned, leading the way along a tiny, twisting street, heading toward the outskirts of the village. "Things have hardly changed here since I was a girl," she said. "My Aunt Gitte lived there, in that house"—she pointed—"and she's been dead for years. But the house is the same. She always had wonderful flowers in her garden." She peered over the low stone wall and looked at the few flowering bushes as they passed the house. "Maybe they still do, but it's the wrong time of year—there are just those few chrysanthemums left.
"And see, over there?" She pointed again. "My best friend—her name was Helena—lived in that house. Sometimes I used to spend the night with her. But more often she came to my house, on weekends. It was more fun to be in the country.
"My brother Henrik always teased us, though," she continued with a chuckle. "He told us ghost stories and scared us half to death."
The sidewalk ended and Mama turned onto a dirt path bordered by trees. "When I walked each morning into town for school," she said, "my dog followed me this far. At the end of the path he turned and went back home. I guess he was a country dog and didn't like town.
"And do you know what?" she went on, smiling. "I had named him Trofast—Faithful. And it was just the right name for him, because what a faithful dog he was! Every afternoon he was always right here, waiting for me to return. He knew the right time, somehow. Sometimes, as I come around this bend, even today, I feel as if I might come upon Trofast, waiting still, with his tail wagging."
But the path was empty today. No people. No faithful dogs. Mama shifted the bag she was carrying from one hand to the other, and they walked on through the woods until the path opened to a meadow dotted with cows. Here the path skirted the edge of the field, along a fence, and beyond it they could see the gray sea, ruffled by wind. The breeze moved the high grass.
At the end of the pasture, they entered the woods again and Annemarie knew they would soon be there. Uncle Henrik's house was in a clearing beyond these woods.
"Do you mind if I run ahead?" she asked suddenly. "I want to be the first to see the house!"
"Go on," Mama told her. "Run ahead and tell the house we've come home."
Then she put her arm around Ellen's shoulders and added, "Say that we've brought a friend."
7. The House by the Sea
"Oh, Annemarie," Ellen said, with awe in her voice, "it is beautiful,"
Annemarie looked around and nodded her head in agreement. The house and the meadows that surrounded it were so much a part of her childhood, a part of her life, that she didn't often look at them with fresh eyes. But now she did, seeing Ellen's pleasure. And it was true. They were beautiful.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com