Zwillinge is the German word meaning twins.
Her tears splashed onto the infant's body. How would she tell her friend, Berta? What would happen when Berta's brutal husband, Egon, found out? It was their first child and the boy he wanted. Minna delivered her best friend's baby an hour ago but now it lay dead in her hands. As a midwife she had dealt with newborn deaths but never a friend's child. Egon would be furious. He would beat Berta again and again, blaming her for the death. Egon was an officer in the German army. Away from home training new recruits he would not return for a month. Minna hoped he would not be returning ever.
With the infant she proceeded to Berta's bedroom and moved to the bed. Berta slept after her lengthy labour, with a warm smile on her face. The smile was too much. Minna couldn't do it so she backed out of the room. There was a solution; a terrible solution; an evil solution, but it would protect her friend.
Minna slipped down the rear staircase to avoid the servants. Through the patio and out to the avenue she fled, with the body swaddled inside her large bag. She needed to hurry. It was five blocks to her destination but no one must see her running in the street. She hurried hoping she would meet no one she knew.
After what felt like an eternity but was less than ten minutes, she saw her destination. The house was grandiose and reeked of wealth. Could she get inside without being seen? She had no plan for what she would say if someone caught her. She went into the garden and walked to one of the rear doors. It was open, so she entered listening.
She tiptoed to the back staircase but detected footsteps coming down. She backed around a corner. The footsteps arrived at the floor and moved away from her. She started up the steps. At the top of the stairs she stopped and listened. All was quiet as she advanced down the long hallway passing closed doors until she came to the nursery. A gentle push opened the door a crack for a peek inside and there was no one.
She entered the room and approached the two bassinets. The fraternal twins, which she had delivered the preceding evening, were sleeping. She prayed that the boy would not waken as she slipped the dead child from her bag and laid it in the cradle with the sleeping twin. She lifted the living boy out of his cradle and slipped him into her bag. He moved a little but then settled to sleep again.
Now she had to move with extreme care so as not to waken the baby in her bag. She perceived a sound in the hallway. A door opened, and she heard footsteps but which way were they going? She realized she should have shut the nursery door, however it was too late. Her heart pounded and her ears were straining, listening. Then she was sure. The footsteps were moving away.
She peeked into the hallway. No one was there. She flowed to the staircase. Quiet. Gently she took the steps to avoid bumping her bag but when she reached the ground floor, she heard a scream from upstairs. If someone spotted her now, there would be no adequate explanation. She ran out the rear door into the garden.
The bumping roused the infant, and he started crying. Flying through the garden to the street, she was half a block away when she realized that she was running. She had to regain control of herself. She slowed to a walk. No one was in the avenue. Another block and the baby stopped crying.
When she arrived at Berta's home she took the baby out of the bag and cradled it in her arms. Then she entered the house from the rear garden. A servant girl came into the room.
"We were looking for you ma'am."
"The baby was restless, so I took him for a walk in the garden and he seems to have settled now. I hope I alarmed no one."
"Oh, no ma'am! We knew when the baby wasn't in his crib that you must have him with you. Mrs. Schulze would like to nurse him."
"I'll take him up."
Would Berta notice the change? Not likely. She had only held the baby briefly before Minna cleaned it up while Berta had fallen asleep.
Minna now had a secret that she intended to take to her grave. She had switched a dead German baby for a live Jewish baby. Egon hated Jews. If he ever found out, he would kill Berta, Minna, and the baby.
After helping Berta with her first attempt at breast feeding Minna knew she needed to go to the home of the Jewish couple to provide emotional support over the supposed loss of their son. What would she find there? Had anyone seen her at the house?
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