"T here’s no way Toby will meet with the kidnappers. She could get hurt. I won’t allow it.”

Toby opened her mouth to protest, but Officer Maxwell cut her off.

“Unfortunately, we’re not calling the shots.” He placed a hand on Lazer’s arm. “Like I’ve said before, we must play by their rules. These two officers will be staked out at the park from early in the morning. Your wife will be protected. I myself will accompany her, and watch from a distance.”

Lazer rubbed his chin. “These men, they break windows to unnerve us. They call at the crack of dawn, when our guard is down. They demand that my wife meet them instead of me… I’m worried.”

The officer pushed back his cap. “I believe we’re dealing with professionals who have done this before.”

“But why would they tell us the location of the exchange now?” Lazer asked. “Aren’t they worried the police will go to the park early that day looking for them?”

“I believe these men still have some tricks up their sleeves.” 

Although the day was a cold one, the sun shone bright as summer. Now that they were quite a distance from the Renards’ place, Idy allowed herself the pleasure of delighting in the beautiful scenery that surrounded her. Birds flew overhead, and squirrels and rabbits scurried about.

With her eyes on the splendors about, and not watching the path, Idy stepped into a shallow ditch. She pitched forward into the sticky mud, dragging Lulu down with her.

“Ooh!” she moaned pulling herself slowly to her feet. Her boots and jacket were covered in mud. As she helped Lulu to her feet, the sight of the tyke made her laugh. The poor little girl was sodden with mud.

“You look like Lizzy the cow with your cornflower hair and black spots.”

Lulu didn’t think it was funny, and began to whimper.

“Don’t worry,” Idy told her, “I’ll have you clean in no time.”

She untied the muddied old blankets from Lulu, and threw them into the bushes. “These aren’t good anymore.” She laughed. “They haven’t been good for years.”

A memory of her childhood suddenly played with her mind, but it vanished before it took shape. Idy tried to recapture it, but it was futile. Frustrated, she turned her attention back to Lulu.

“I have a better blanket for you.”

She slipped the bundle from her shoulder and untied the homemade cord. The provisions she had taken from the Renards tumbled out. Lulu jumped at the sight of her pink blanket.

“Ma-ma!” she said happily. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Junior, Issue 661)