"D o you believe the woman?” the kidnapper asked.

“Well, we searched her house, and there was no one there.”

“But the farm is big. She could have hidden those girls anywhere.”

“Come on, where? The barn or that shed we saw, in this freezing weather, with no heat? They wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“So what’s next?”

“I don’t know.” He looked at his watch. “We have six hours until noon. We’d better come up with something by then. All we got for our trouble is the kid’s pink blanket.”

“I think we should stake out the Matthews place. Keep an eye on the woman. I still think she’s hiding them somewhere.”

His accomplice threw the idea around in his head. “Okay, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll park the car a half a mile or so from the farm, then we’ll walk back there on foot. We’ll watch from a distance and see what happens.”

The kidnapper started the engine, and did exactly that.

Idy moistened her lips with her tongue. “I’m an orphan. I’ve been an orphan for as long as I can remember.”

Mrs. Sommers’s brows arched. “But Lulu?”

“You see,” Idy inhaled deeply, then let it out. “Lulu isn’t my sister.”

Mrs. Sommers paled. “Idy….”

“Please, Mrs. Sommers, I’m not a criminal like the police think. I swear it. I’ll explain everything to you.” And she did, starting at the very beginning. It was as if a clogged pipe had sprung a leak. It was slow at first, and then the pipe ruptured with such force, Idy couldn’t hold back. She talked and cried and grieved for a little girl and boy buried away in an attic, without any hope for the future.

Mrs. Sommers sat spellbound by the young girl’s tale of sorrow and suffering. She dabbed her eyes and nose with her handkerchief while her heart shattered into a million pieces.

“Idy, I can’t even begin to imagine what you and your brother went through. But where is your brother? Is he still in that horrible place?

Idy wiped the tears from her cheeks. “After Fay saw a carrot that my brother stole, she told her parents. Mr. Renard took my brother to the barn and beat him with the leather strap that he kept there for punishment.”

Mrs. Sommers shivered.

“A man came to the farm, but my brother was too weak to rush back into the house to hide, like I told you we were forced to do. He saw my brother, and bought him for five dollars.”

“Bought?” Mrs. Sommers almost spit the word out in revulsion. “What kind of evil man buys a boy?”

Idy’s eyes glistened again. “I haven’t seen him since. I don’t know where he is. I don’t even know if he’s alive.”

Mrs. Sommers moved closer to Idy and pulled her into an embrace. “You poor, poor child.” She held her and let her cry. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 674)