Breindl strongly suggests that Dovid’l and Hershel join her and Emanuel. Emanuel puts someone known as “The Finder” on the case to find Kalonymous; he seems certain he can do it.
* * *
The Finder did catch up to Emanuel after Minchah, but without Kalonymous in tow.
“How did you know where I daven?” asked Emanuel, surprised to find the old man waiting for him in the back of the shul. He had been planning to go to him.
“It’s a pretty small place. Not too many secrets here.”
“Nu? Where’s the boy?”
The Finder sighed loud and long. “This was not an easy task. Not easy at all.”
“I’m not giving you more money until you find the boy.” Emanuel had already paid a hefty down-payment.
The Finder clucked at the impropriety of bringing up a delicate subject like payment, then said, “I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”
“Will you stop playing these games? Did you find him or not?”
The Finder, seeing that this was not going to be a calm interaction, gestured to Emanuel to step outside the shul. “Let’s take a little walk,” he offered, grasping the younger man’s arm and pulling him along.
“It’s like this,” he continued, keeping his voice low. “I have a general idea where he is, but based on that information, I don’t think he wants to be found.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Emanuel was ready to pull his own hair out, as well as The Finder’s.
“Apparently he was taken in by the Perushim.”
“The Perushim? How did he come to them?”
“I have no idea,” said The Finder. “But they are sealed shut. Even my informant there refused to give me information, except to say that a boy did come in. He said he doesn’t know anything else and I believe him, but even if he did, he wouldn’t say.”
“So what do I do now?”
“I don’t know.” The Finder didn’t usually get involved with his customers, but his heart went out to the distraught American. “The only thing I can tell you is to go to Meah Shearim and knock from door to door. Walk around. Check the chadarim.”
“Is he in danger?” asked Emanuel.
“Chas v’chalilah, chalilah v’chas! The Perushim will treat him as one of their own.” The Finder shook his head emphatically, then patted Emanuel on the arm. “You’ve got a big problem on your hands.”
“Thank you,” Emanuel snapped. “I’m aware of that. Is there anyone you know who could take me there?”
“I have my man there, but you’d do better with a child. I’ll see what I can do.”
Emanuel nodded sadly. “Thank you, sir. I appreciate all your help.” Emanuel pulled out the promised amount from his pocket and handed it over.
“Keep it,” said The Finder. “And leave the sir. The name is Beck.”
* * *
Kalonymous had only been gone two days, and the Rothstein home had already taken on a funereal air. Dovid’l would not budge from Hershel’s side and Hershel, distraught himself, sat curled up in the corner. Hershel had thrashed with nightmares and his face was haggard as a result. Combined with the grief over the absence of his brother, he resembled an old man.
Breindl attempted to lure them out of the corner, offering drinks and delicacies and games, but her proposals were met with two solemn faces. Occasionally Dovid’l would stir at some particularly mouth-watering suggestion, but whenever he looked at Hershel he was reminded again of their loss.
At a loss for what to do, as the evening closed in, Breindl walked over to the corner where the boys were huddled and sat down in between them. She held them close and spoke quietly. The other children were horrified, exclaiming loudly over their mother’s unusual behavior, but Breindl was adamant.
“Kinderlach,” she crooned. “I know you are very sad that Kalonymous is gone. I am also sad.” She hadn’t dared tell them yet of Kalonymous’ disappearance, praying that none of the children had overheard their conversation with Zayit.
“But he is safe and happy,” Breindl prayed that her words were true. “And he will im yirtzeh Hashem be back before you know it.”
“Why did Fetter Motti send him away? He didn’t do anything wrong!” Hershel’s voice was a thin wail, but it was shattering Breindl’s heart.
“Of course he didn’t. Fetter Motti thought Kalonymous needed some special attention. It’s not always so easy to be an older brother. I was an oldest sister and it was not so easy for me.”
“Kalonymous doesn’t mind taking care of us!” Dovid’l jumped up, shouting. “He loves us!”
“Of course he does!” said Breindl. “I only meant —”
“No! No!” Tears were running down Dovid’l’s little face. “Bring him back! Bring him back! I need him!”
Breindl tried to take him in her arms, but he wrenched away. He fell on Hershel’s neck and cried himself to sleep.
To be continued . . .