"Y es,” Doctor Brown said to the police officer who had arrived with the shopkeeper. “The man did collapse in the store. He would have died if he hadn’t received medical attention when he did.” He turned to the shopkeeper. “You saved his life.”

The shopkeeper strutted around the hospital room like a peacock. “I told you I was telling the truth.”

The police officer pushed back his hat in wonderment.

“So, now do you believe me about the kidnappers and the girl?”

“Kidnappers?” Doctor Brown asked.

“Yes, why?”

Doctor Brown and the nurse looked at each other.

“What is it?” the police officer asked.

“Just a little while ago,” Doctor Brown said, looking down at the sick man in the bed, “he mumbled something about a kidnapping. He said he helped out with it.”

The shopkeeper clapped his hands. “I told you!”

The police officer pulled at his collar. “Where did you say that woman worked?”

“At the Matthews farm.”

“We’ll stop at the station for backup, then head out there and pay her a visit. Listen, Doc, don’t let that man go anywhere. He may have committed a crime.”

The doctor looked down at Mr. Renard. “Doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere for a long time.”

“You mean to tell me that you and your husband kept two innocent children locked in a dark attic for years? Then took another child to be locked up?”

Mrs. Renard averted her eyes from Mr. Matthews’s gaze. “They weren’t locked up.”

“You starved them and beat them… and worked them something fierce.”

“That’s what the boy says. I gave them enough food and gave them chores like any other kids.” Her chin jutted out. “And I disciplined them when I had to!”

“You barely gave them enough food to keep them alive. They had neither warm clothing nor a proper bed. You didn’t show them an ounce of human kindness.”

“They had everything they needed. The boy’s exaggerating.”

“No,” Mr. Matthews’s eyes pooled with compassion. “Jacob, I had no idea things were so bad here. When I saw you were ill clothed and undernourished. I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t leave you here. So I pretended to buy you. I knew Renard wouldn’t let you come with me otherwise.”

“Y-you did that for m-me, sir?”

“If only I had known you had a sister living here under the same horrid conditions, I would have come back with the police. But it’s over now, Jacob. You’re never coming back here again. You’re never going to be mistreated again, you hear me?”

Jacob sniffled. “But what about Idy, and the other little girl? We don’t know where they are.”

“We’ll leave that to the police.” He stood up. “We’re going to town, Mrs. Renard. Get your daughter and come with me.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 679)