Emanuel met with Reb Leib. He learned that Kalonymous is safe. The Rav asked that Kalonymous remain in their care for three months. After much internal debate, Emanuel agreed.
* * *
“Nu?” said Esther, greeting her husband the moment he set foot over the threshold. “Any news?”
Emanuel handed her his hat and jacket and watched as she hung them carefully on the coat stand near the door. A thousand replies flew through his mind, but one look into his wife’s woeful face and he knew he could not tell her what took place this day between him and the Rav. Perhaps another day would come when he would be able to relate to Esther the strange conversation he’d had with Reb Leib, but today was not the day.
“Not too much,” he answered. “I asked around quite a bit, but nobody seems to have seen him.”
“He has to be somewhere!” she cried, biting her lips. “He couldn’t have just disappeared off the face of the earth!”
Emanuel kept his expression perfectly blank. “Of course he hasn’t, but on the other hand, no news is still good news. I’m sure he is fine wherever he is, and he’ll come back when he’s ready.”
“How do you know?” said Esther, unraveling. “Maybe he’s lying dead somewhere, or who knows what…?”
“He’s not dead!” Emanuel blurted out.
Esther quieted and turned to face her husband. “What did you say?”
“I said he’s not dead.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t know,” he tried to backpedal but he sensed he was too late. “I just know that if he was dead we’d know. Esther, dear, I’m famished. Could you perhaps fix me a light meal? It’s very warm outside.” He patted his face with his handkerchief for effect and followed Esther into the kitchen.
She cut up a salad and opened a small tin of sardines, laying them out neatly on a plate. “I’m sure he’s fine. I told everyone that if they hear even a hint of a whisper they should contact me. I hope that will put your mind at ease.”
“I guess it will have to do,” Esther replied. “Kalonymous!” she called, the domed ceiling her only audience. “Where are you? Kalonymous, dear, please come home!”
Breindl was similarly filled with anxiety. Threads of guilt were winding more and more tightly around her as she tried to sort out the series of events that had led to Kalonymous’s disappearance from her brother-in-law’s home in Jerusalem. She wanted to be able to avoid the same mistakes when it came to Hershel and Dovid’l, even though she realized that what would apply to Kalonymous would never apply to his younger brothers.
She was also terribly disturbed by Yehudah’s behavior. She felt that she had lost two boys and not just one. She had been certain, and she still was, that the decision to take the boys in was the correct one. Yehudah was angry now, but in a few years, when he was more mature and had a broader perspective, he’d understand and perhaps even praise them for the tremendous chessed they’d done for the Sperlings.
Shlomo Zayit reported to them the little conversation he’d had with Hershel, and how once again the mysterious Berl and Fisch had been mentioned. At Breindl’s urging, Motti agreed to contact Gasner again and ask him if there had been any information about the heroic brothers: when and by whom were the bodies cleared from the border; were there death certificates issued, and where were their graves located.
He wanted to know the truth for himself, so when they boys spoke about Berl and Fisch he could speak from his heart, and when they were older he could provide details if they asked for them.
He wouldn’t have bothered to ask again if Breindl hadn’t encouraged him, but that very night he penned a telegram to Gasner. He gave the message and a sum of money to Zayit, who was planning to travel to Jerusalem the following day. He would give it to Emanuel, who would send the telegram from the wireless office.
As if he were standing by the telegraph machine waiting for the message, Gasner replied to Motti’s wire almost immediately:
DOV BER ROSENFELD AND AHARON FISCHEL ROSENFELD ALIVE AND WELL.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW.
When Emanuel saw the telegram from Gasner he was instantly concerned. Perhaps Gasner had heard about Kalonymous’s disappearance and was writing to check up on it. Even as the thought crossed his mind, Emanuel knew it was ridiculous, but he couldn’t shake it off. Uncertain what to do, and wishing desperately that he had never contacted that “Finder,” Beck, he placed the telegram in the top drawer of his desk and locked the drawer with the key. He needed some time to catch his breath — too many things were happening at once, and he was getting too old for so much excitement.
Instead, he poured himself a finger of whiskey and sat back in his chair, waiting for life to return to normal once again.
To be continued . . .