It's early morning in the woodlands with a light fog blanketing over the area. A gypsy caravan of three wagons eases through the timber and down a hill toward a river. Wolfgang sits with Halina. She holds the reins and guides the horses through the forest. While they both stare straight ahead, Wolfgang asks, “What will the Germans do to you if they catch you smuggling us out of Gdansk?”
Halina fixed her gaze. “First, they must find us.”
“But what if they do?”
Halina shrugs in resolution like a hunter with no options. “They will kill us and burn our wagons, then pretend we never existed at all. We are like cockroaches beneath the heels of their boots. They want to cleanse the land of Jews and Gypsies alike. In the eyes of the Nazis, we don’t have the God-given right to breathe the same air they do.”
“Then we must part company.”
“Why do you say that?”
Wolfgang nods toward the river. She spots the Nazi war machine peeking over the ridge, the motley green camouflage paint appearing stark against the land. The turrets identify the ominous formidable line of tanks, knowing the cannons and soldiers would appear as well. Halina stops the wagon, turns back, and waves for the other two wagons to pause as well.
Mizella walks nonchalantly to Halina’s wagon. “Do you see what we see?”
Smiling, Mizella exchanges like a sage survivor to a youngster with respect. “I wonder if there are any Germans left in Germany or if they have all come to Poland.”
Halina clenches her jaws and removes her Kronesberg colt pistol from her jacket pocket. Mizella gently places his hand on the gun and pushes it into her lap. “It would be a short fight, dear Halina. There will come a time when we must take a stand, but today is not the day.
“Where will we run?”
“Dead into the Nazi soldiers?”
“It’s too late to run anywhere else. A mad dash across Poland would only kill our horses. Besides, we have the one critical weapon the Germans don’t have.”
“We have the river, Halina.”
Mizella soon has the men down from the wagons explaining the situation. Ferdek, Tavius, and Wolfgang stand beside the lead wagon, all with solemn faces as they listen to the options.
Ferdek speaks up. “What choices do we have?”
Tavius offers, “We can hide in the thickets.”
Mizella frowns then sourly comments, “The Nazis will cut you down.”
Wolfgang looks on bravely. “It’s too late to run.”
Mizella adds, “There’s no place to go. Germans are ahead of you. Germans are behind you. Poland is in a vice, squeezed on all sides by the Germans.”
Ferdek confesses, “We don’t want to endanger you or your family, Mizella. You’ve done everything you could to help us. If the Germans find out, you’ll be dead before the Nazis have their noon meal. We’re on our own now.”
Ferdek turns to walk away. Mizella grabs him by his shoulder. “I have a plan.”
Tavius quickly leans forward. “Let’s hear it.”
“You won’t like it,” Mizella replies.
Ferdek leans in, encouraging the discussion. “Will it take us to the far side of the German army?”
Confidently Mizella grins. “It will.” Mizella looks out toward the river and the advancing German war machine. “If you survive.”
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