"I t’s already dark outside,” Lazer said. “Why haven’t they called?”

“It’s still early,” Officer Maxwell said. “They’ll call. I know it’s difficult, but try to be patient.”

Toby ran her hands over the armrest of her chair. “Officer, what you’re asking is not difficult. It’s impossible.”

“Little Leah’le,” Moe moaned. “Can’t even say her own name yet.”

Toby dabbed her eyes with a dainty handkerchief. “Oh, Uncle Moshe, will she even live to learn it?”

“Of course she will, and I’ll bake the biggest cake, five layers, and ice it with her favorite color.”

“Pink,” Toby said smiling through her tears. “We’ll celebrate like never before.”

Lazer placed his hands on his knees. “Uncle Moshe, you ought to get back to the Matthewses. That sick little boy needs you.”

“I’ll go first thing tomorrow morning, then come back here after I stock the icebox.”

“Stock the icebox?” Officer Maxwell asked.

Moe straightened the gray cap on his head. “I’m the cook over at Mr. Matthews’s farm.”

“You’re being too modest,” Toby said. “You’re more than a cook. Ever since his mother died, you’ve taken care of that Matthews boy as if he were your own son. Mr. Matthews wouldn’t manage without you.”

“He’s a good boy, that Zachary, but my official job is cook, and as I’m a religious Jew,” he explained to the officer, “I keep a kosher kitchen there. Every item of food that comes into that kitchen is bought by me and cooked by me. Mr. Matthews and I have an agreement. No one is ever allowed to cook or even warm food in my kitchen.”

“Interesting,” Officer Maxwell said. “So what do they eat while you’re away?”

“I fill the icebox before I leave for the weekend, with foods that don’t need warming. That’s why I best be returning there tomorrow. With the two Matthews, the farmhand, and the tutor, I’m sure they’re running pretty low.”

“Hopefully Lulu will be back home before morning,” Lazer said. He stared at the phone on the table beside him with pleading eyes, but it remained silent.

*

“So that’s what happened,” the shopkeeper said. “The girl was gone with the money, and the sick guy was taken to the hospital.”

“Why would Renard go after the girl?”

The shopkeeper looked puzzled. “Because she hurt him and stole his money… lots of it. He’s got every right to go after her.” The shopkeeper seemed impatient. “Listen, gentlemen, I closed my store early because it’s been quite a day. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Just tell us about the lady that helped her get away.”

The shopkeeper sighed. “Like I said, I don’t know if she helped, but it seems logical that she did.”

“Have you ever seen that lady before?” the kidnapper asked.

The shopkeeper rubbed his chin. “Hmm, now that you mention it, she did look familiar. Yes, she has been here before.”

The kidnappers leaned closer. “Can you remember her name?”

“Well, give me a minute now, let me think…” He shook his head. “Nope, I’m drawing a blank. Sorry.”

The kidnapper reached inside his pocket and pulled out a crisp dollar bill. “Will this help you remember?”

The shopkeeper perked up, and plucked the money from the man’s hand. “I don’t remember her name, but I’m pretty sure she was here picking up an order for Mr. Matthews.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 671)