Cheerful giggling echoed through the halls, interrupting mass. Slowly the nuns turned and studied the wisp of a child clothed in a simple wool gown. She giggled again as she took off running down the stone corridor. Many nuns shook their habit-covered heads; this was, after all, the house of God. And in such dark days, no one could take the chance of playing.
Sister Angelica sighed and excused herself from the room. The rambunctious Bridget had gotten away from Sister Catherine, again. It wasn’t that Angelica minded helping with the children...It just was that Bridget...she paused and shook her head. It doesn’t matter her parentage. She is still a child of God...just one of the more energetic ones.
Bridget squealed as she looked back and saw Angelica chasing her. The five year old tossed her dark mane over her shoulder and continued to run. The chase continued around corners and through dark passages, all the while, the child’s laughter filled the air—a stark contrast to the heaviness that lingered here.
Angelica made a grab for Bridget just before the sprite went into a main hallway and held her tight. “Heil Hitler!” Two words caused the nun and the child to both go still. Bridget twisted in Angelica’s arms, pressing her face against the older woman’s chest. Angelica held the little girl close and eased herself back into the shadows as a young man confidently strode down the hallway with the Father.
For once, Bridget was content to be carried. Angelica frowned as she carried the girl back to where the children were kept. As sheltered of a life that the abbey granted, two words were enough to put fear in a young child’s heart.
“Let’s get you back to your friends, Bridget.” Angelica crooned, stroking Bridget’s back.
Father Drottsmire planned to start teaching the older children there in the abbey, too many of them had questionable parentage (according to the Nazi policies) for them to be safely sent to the village school.
“Ja, Sister Angelica.” Bridget’s soft voice floated from wherever the child had buried her head.
“Gut, now, down you go, and let’s walk together.” Angelica stated, lowering the child to her feet. It would be reassuring to everyone if Bridget walked to where her friends were instead of being carried.
Bridget nodded and flashed a smile. The two horrible words were forgotten already. She ran ahead of Angelica, calling out greetings to her friends and Sister Catherine. Angelica paused and blinked because of the glare.
The silence was shattered by Bridget’s scream. Angelica bolted outside then froze at the sight before her.
The children…Bridget! The first thought came unbidden as she rushed towards the quivering child. Boldly, Angelica swept the girl up into her arms and ran from the abbey—away from the protection that was no more. She could hear shouts from the abbey as the raid continued.
I have to hide...
The midday heat beat down on Angelica as she held Bridget closer and began to run. Where, she did not know...yet. Her heart was pounding in her chest as Bridget whimpered in Angelica’s arms.
“Quiet Bridget. We’ll get out of here together. I promise you.” Angelica whispered to Bridget. “I’m going to put you down, and I want you to run into the forest. Run deep and hide yourself until I come for you, okay?”
Bridget quietly nodded and quickly, Angelica put the child down. The second Bridget’s feet hit the ground, she ran towards safety. Angelica turned and glanced towards the buildings that had been her home for the past five years.
“Father, forgive them.” She whispered, crossing herself once before heading down another path, away from the abbey. Bridget was a smart child—but Angelica knew that she couldn’t come for the child until nightfall. Until then, she needed to find some different clothing—the Nazis knew what her order’s habits were. She was easy prey until she could find a change of clothing.
She swallowed her fear and ran. Bridget was depending on her.
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