“G one?” all three men shouted at once.

Mrs. Renard scowled. “Yes. Gone! That girl stole the key and they ran away.”

“Idy?” her husband asked.

“Yes! Who else?!”

Mr. Renard ran his hand over his pale face then suddenly dropped his hand. “My jacket! Where is it?”

“The girl took it!”

“Took it! No!” He tried to stand, but the kidnapper pushed him back roughly onto the chair.

“Can’t you see he’s sick?” Mrs. Renard said.

The kidnapper’s jaws tightened. “He’s going to be more than sick if we don’t find the kid.”

Mr. Renard groaned. “My money.”

“She took the blanket, too!” Mrs. Renard sneered.

“The pink one?” Fay shouted. “No fair! I wanted it! I hate that Idy!”

The kidnapper grabbed Mr. Renard by the front of his shirt. “I don’t care about your jacket or the blanket. I need that kid, and I need her now!” He shook Mr. Renard, and lifted his fist. “I have a good mind to show you just how angry I am!”

“M-maybe they’re not too far,” Mr. Renard pleaded with the man. “Maybe we can catch up with them.” He looked at his wife. “Wh-when did they leave?”

“How am I supposed to know? I was tending to your arm most of the night.”

The kidnapper shook Mr. Renard again.

“Think, woman!” Mr. Renard shouted. “When did you see her last?”

“Wait a minute,” Mrs. Renard said, “She came in from the barn late, after doing what I told her to do. I searched her for food, but she didn’t have anything on her. I should have given her a beating for disobeying yesterday. I should have known she was a sly fox.”

“Never mind the beating,” the kidnapper said. “You’ll give that to her when we find her.”

Mrs. Renard’s eyes hardened. “You bet I will!”

“What time was it when she finished her work?” the kidnapper asked.

“About midnight.”

“Then what happened?”

“I told you already, I tended to my husband’s infected arm.”

“Did you hear anything from the kitchen or outside?”

“Nothing. If that girl came down, I’d have heard. The floor’s not too solid in some places.”

“What time did you go to sleep?”

“About two. Had to keep boiling water and peeling onions. The way he carried on ’bout his arm, you’d think it was gangrene.”

The kidnapper let go of Mr. Renard, who fell forward onto the table.

“She’d most probably wait until she was sure everyone was asleep before attempting to escape,” the kidnapper said. “So we’ll figure they left here at about two-thirty.”

The other man did some quick calculations. “It’s about an hour’s drive to the road. Then another hour until town. On foot that could be about five or six hours.”

“In the dark, and unfamiliar with the territory, even longer,” his accomplice said.

“Don’t forget she was carrying that little kid,” Fay said. “She always carried that brat.”

The kidnapper looked at her and nodded.

Fay puffed with pride. She looked at her mother and smirked. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 663)