Akind of subdued excitement was felt on the morning after the first missile strike. The initial attack had been conventional and no one was hurt. What about next time? Was Saddam Hussein going to use nonconventional warheads? Israeli citizens were instructed to continue their regular schedules, keeping their personal gas masks close by.

At the Neimans’, Savta made an unusual request. “Children, please go to the grocery before school. We must stock up on basic things, just in case.”

“Just in case?” Tzipi was puzzled.

“Just in case the army called up the reserve soldiers,” Savta explained, “including the delivery truck drivers. Who will bring more supplies when stores run out?”

On the way out of their building they met the older Neiman cousins dragging in crates of fruit and vegetables. “If you’re on your way to the makolet,” Yossi warned, “don’t waste your time. It’s empty.”

“You’re kidding!” Benny exclaimed.

“Bare shelves,” Moishe affirmed, wiping his sweaty forehead with his sleeve.

“We’ll try anyway.” Tzipi was convinced that the boys were exaggerating.

“Something might be left in the big tzarchaniah on Shlomo Hamelech,” Chaim agreed.

“You’d think it was the end of the world.” Tzipi shifted the shoulder strap of the cardboard carton holding her gas mask.

“We can’t carry very much anyway,” Benny pointed out. “Schlepping these clumsy boxes with us every place means we only have one hand free.”

“You could try wearing your mask instead,” Tzipi teased.

“Did you consider there might be an air raid while we’re on the way?”

“Sabasays that if that happens we must go into the closest building and knock on the first door. Every house has a sealed room.”

“Who’s that?” Benny looked straight at a dark figure hurrying toward their building. “He looks familiar. Where do I know him from?”

Tzipi squinted in the direction her brother indicated. “Isn’t thatZagreb?” she asked. “One of those men from the other cottage when we were with Mommy the Shabbos before she left?”

Tatty and Mendel were crossing the street after Shacharis at just that moment.

Boker tov!” Benny heard his father call out to the man. “Are you looking for me?”

The agent whirled to face the two men behind him, moving his hand instinctively to the weapon hidden in his jacket.

Gedalya held up both hands to show that he was not a threat.Zagrebrelaxed when he recognized Queen Esther’s husband.

Gedalya searched the man’s face for some indication of the news he might be bringing about Yehudit. He was terribly anxious to hear any news about his wife.