I dy stopped to catch her breath. She had been walking for a quite a while, and her arms ached from her heavy load. She shifted the sleeping little girl onto her other hip and grimaced. It was impossible to continue with Lulu in her arms, but the alternative wasn’t any better. The two-year-old’s stubby legs were no match for the mud and overgrown brush Idy battled with each step of the way. At a loss, she laid Lulu on the frozen ground to get back some circulation in her arms.

Lulu woke as soon as Idy straightened up, and began to cry. Idy immediately dropped to her knees.

“Lulu, please. You have to stop crying. Someone could hear us.”

The urgency in Idy’s voice merely caused the little girl to cry louder. Idy clamped her hand over the little girl’s mouth.

“Please, Lulu. I’m begging you. We’ve come this far. Don’t ruin it.”

Lulu struggled beneath Idy’s hold, and Idy instantly let go. “I’m sorry, Lulu. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Tears filled her eyes. “Come, I’ll hold you.”

Idy stood and wiped her eyes. Lulu stared wide-eyed, and her lips curved downward. Idy smiled through her tears. She had never seen anything so cute.

“Are you sad that I’m crying?” she asked. She held out her hand. “Do you want to walk a little?”

Lulu stood and clasped Idy’s hand in her cold little one. “Walk,” she said. They continued down the thickly covered path until tiny flickers of light nudged their way through the clouds and trees.

Idy looked upon its splendor. Soon it would be day. She trudged on, at times almost dragging the exhausted toddler. Lulu stopped many times, but Idy coaxed her along with songs and silly games. It was draining, but far better than being caught.

When the sun shone brightly, Idy stopped and slipped the bundle off of her shoulder.

“I bet you’re hungry, huh?”

Lulu just stared, too tired to answer. Idy stroked her cheek then stuck her hand into the rolled-up blanket and fished around for a moment. She pulled out a piece of bread.

“Look what I have.” She tore it in two, and Lulu happily reached for hers.

“Why don’t you sit on this big, big stone and eat. Then we’ll keep going, okay?”

Lulu was happy to rest and ran to the large stone.

“I don’t have water,” Idy said when they had finished eating, “but maybe there’s a brook nearby. “Let’s go look for one.”

Lulu shook her blonde head. “Sit,” she said. As weary as Idy was from walking and entertaining Lulu, she swung the blanket back onto her shoulders and lifted Lulu in her arms.

“Okay,” she said, “you win.”

Idy continued to walk for what seemed like hours, hoping she was heading in the right direction. She was just about to give up hope when the brush began to clear, and she could see wagon marks in the muddy path.

“Lulu!” she whispered. “Look! People have been here. These are the same marks made by the wagons that pick up deliveries at the Renard place. We’re getting closer.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 660)