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The Great Escape: Chapter 4

Yehuda Bromberg

“I’m not your son! My name is Meir son of Efraim. I am a Jewish boy on a business trip from Vienna”

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

I

M

eir almost laughed at the absurdity of the situation. Here he was, a Jewish boy with tzitzis and peyos visible and this royally dressed German woman was calling him her son.

“We’ll, I’m glad you’re not accusing me of something I didn’t do.” Meir smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m afraid you’ve confused me with someone else. My parents live in Vienna.”

What?” The woman’s face turned colors as tears sprang to her eyes. “So is that where they took you? Those kidnappers! Tell me what their names are!”

Meir had to swallow the laughter building inside him. Boy, would he have a wild story to tell his family when he returned home!

“I told you already, you must be confusing me with someone else. I’m not your son! My name is Meir son of Efraim. I am a Jewish boy on a business trip from Vienna. I’m sorry to have gotten your hopes up. Have a good day.”

He tried to move around the woman and her wagon but the man who had chased him stepped in front of him and squared his giant shoulders. Although the man looked like he was aging and there were streaks of white in his hair, he still looked like he could punch a hole through a brick wall.

“Don’t let him leave, Hanz!” the woman shouted in a high-pitched voice. She stepped closer to Meir until they there standing directly in front of one another.

“Listen to me, boy. You’re name isn’t Meir and you certainly are no Jew! You are a royal descendant of the Richter and Absberg families. Your mother died during childbirth and I, your grandmother, Agnes Richter, adopted you as my own child! You were kidnapped from the royal palace while you napped one day!”

The woman burst into hysterical sobs and became incapable of speaking. 

Meir was no longer smiling now. He realized that he was dealing with truly delusional people.

“Let me go or I’ll call for the authorities!”

“My dear, I control all people of power in this city,” Agnes Richter smirked faintly through her tears. “You can scream, but it won’t do you any good.”

“This is madness! How can I prove to you that I’m not your grandchild?”

“You can’t.” Agnes pursed her lips. “But I can prove that you are!”

She turned and went back into the carriage and then issued a curt command to Hanz.

“Bring him.”

*****

Meir knew it would be futile to resist as Hanz laid a heavy hand on his shoulder and steered him inside the wagon. The woman named Agnes Richter spoke nonstop to Meir as they traveled to a destination she did not reveal. She cried and laughed, one moment sobbing over the lost years and the next rejoicing at having Meir sitting across from her.

After an hour the wagon stopped and Meir heard Hanz say from his place at the front of the wagon, “We’ve arrived at the castle.”

“Castle?” Meir breathed in shock.

Your castle.” Agnes smiled fondly at him.  “Welcome home, son.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 743)

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