Maurice grabbed my shoulder. Monsieur, nous ne savons pas si c'est Monique, we only know it was a Christian woman they took.
My friend was right. We had no evidence that Monique had been captured, but with so few Christians left, the mention of a Christian woman narrowed the odds. "They said a Christian woman. I don't think God would want us to ignore her even if it isn’t Monique."
A knock interrupted. I looked at Maurice. No one but our host knew that we were in the apartment. Maurice stood and quietly moved toward the door.
Maurice cautiously opened the door. A small child stood on the other side.
She handed Maurice an envelope and turned to run down the stairs. Her a tiny voice floated back to us, "Cette lettre est pour vous."
Maurice ripped open the missive. "Monsieur, they know we are here. We must leave at once." He looked at me grimly.
"Is that what the letter says?" I walked over to him.
"Oui, but more than that. It also tells us that our package has been sent to Marseilles, Peut-ętre ceci est bon."
"Yes, mon ami, this may be good news, but you are right. We must leave at once if we are to catch up."
"Oui, Monsieur. Whoever sent this knew we were here. That means others do too. We must hurry."
It was not safe for us to move about in the open during the daylight hours, so we traveled through back alleys to the outskirts of the city, finally arriving at Gare Leon.
By late afternoon we were on our way toward Marseilles. I pulled my tan hat down over my eyes and tried to rest. Maurice had found a newspaper on the floor and pretended to read it. Finally his head tilted back, the newspaper drooped and he was fast asleep. “Rest well, my friend,” I whispered. “Our journey will be long and tiring.”
The sky was dark and a damp fog was rolling in across the rocky beaches when the train arrived at Gare Saint Charles. We merged with a crowd of businessmen and hurried through the station making sure we were always part of a larger group. Marseilles can be a difficult city to navigate, but fortunately Maurice was a native and within minutes we were on our way to his old neighborhood near the Cathedral.
I waited in a nearby park while Maurice arranged a room for us. He had explained that the small neighborhood was adverse to strangers and he had to sanction my presence. Our room was little more than a large closet off of an alleyway. I suspected it had been a storeroom. Within minutes of our arrival a friend of Maurice’s appeared with cheese, bread, and wine. Maurice introduced me to Jean who eyed me with some suspicion. We had eaten little since morning and I set about to decimate the small meal while Maurice questioned his friend.
“Jean has heard of a Christian woman in the city.” Maurice translated, “Very little goes on without his knowledge. He thinks he knows where she is being held.”
“Then we must go immediately.” I jumped up from my chair.
“Sit and relax my friend, Jean will help us when it is safe.”
There was little else I could do. Maurice conducted an impromptu devotion and prayer based on the capture of John. The prayer helped, the devotion only made me more anxious. Jean set about to assist us, coming and going several times during the evening, and conferring often with Maurice.
Eventually, Jean opened the door and motioned us to join him. We said nothing as we made our way through the streets. Finally, we arrived at a small beach. Jean pointed to a small beach house with a single man standing guard outside. Suddenly, Maurice and Jean began an all out run toward the house. The man, startled at the sight of two large men, apparently trying to run him down, turned and ran into the house. Maurice literally ran through the door with Jean close on his heels. I was a distant third. In the moonlight I saw Maurice running back out of the house with someone slung over his shoulder. I managed to catch up just as he was lowering her to the sand. I dropped to my knees gasping for breath as she turned to look at me.
“It’s not Monique!”
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