I dy couldn’t take her eyes off the jacket. Every fiber of her body tensed as she stepped closer to the chair and stretched out her hand.

“Go fetch Idy,” she heard Mrs. Renard say in the back room. Idy’s hand shot back.

“What for?” Fay demanded.

“I need her help applying these skins.”

“Come on, Ma, let me help. I can do a better job than her!”

“Fine, you hold this steady while I peel the filmy part off.” Idy blew out a shaky breath.

“Like this, Ma?”

“Keep it steady!”

Idy knew it was a tedious job to cover a wound with onion skins. She had done it for Jacob when he had needed it. Dizzy from fear, she reached out her hand and stuck it into a pocket of the jacket. It was empty. Idy thought she would scream. Her head whipped toward the door. No one was there.

She vaguely heard the conversation between Fay and her mother in the back room.

Idy swiped her lips then checked the other pocket. Her heart nearly bolted from her ribcage when her fingers closed around a single key.

In an instant, it was wedged deep into her thick blond braid.

She hurried back to the spot where she had been standing earlier and waited for Fay to return.

Within minutes she did, her eyes shining.

“Ooh! You should have seen it. Pa’s arm is horrible. All bloody and oozing.”

Idy could barely stand upright. The key felt like lead in her hair.

“And Ma let me help her.” She sneered at Idy. “No one needs you down here anymore. So,” she waved her hands, “get out of here.”

“Can I finish my chores now?” Idy asked. “I haven’t eaten anything.”

Fay wrinkled her nose. “Oh yeah, Ma said something about you finishing your work. Then you can have that.” She pointed to a plate of stale bread. “Better hurry before I give it to the dog.”

Idy tied her wrap tightly around herself then rushed outside. It took much effort and time to finish the work, but she did everything she had been told to do. When she finally returned, drained and filthy, she took the bread from the plate and headed to the ladder.

“Wait!” an irate voice called.

Idy froze.

“You’ve been out there far too long,” Mrs. Renard said coming closer. “Turn around and stand with your hands on the chair.”

Idy shook as she placed the bread on the table, then held onto the back of the chair. She dreaded being searched. She pressed her lips together as Mrs. Renard reached into her pockets and tapped her arms, searching for anything at all that Idy ought not to have. She could feel the woman’s breath just above her head where the key was hidden in her hair, and closed her eyes in silent prayer.

Please don’t let her find it!

Mrs. Renard spun Idy around and grabbed her under the chin. “I may not have found anything this time, but I’m watching you.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 658)