"Oh." Dirk relaxed his hand, and the knife clattered to the floor. "I thought—"
"The Gestapo took Els," Mr. van Nort said.
"No!" Dirk slammed his hand on the table. "Why?" But he knew why.
Mr. van Nort looked at him sadly. "The Nazis will do anything to find your father."
Even torture my eighteen-year-old sister. "But Els would rather spit in their faces than tell them anything. Especially about Papa."
Mr. van Nort shook his head. "They are animals, and they can force anyone to talk. One man held out for fifteen days before spilling secrets." He stared at the floor. "The next day he died from his injuries."
Dirk grabbed the back of a chair and forced himself to swallow a sudden sour taste in his mouth. "How did they capture Els?"
"I came as soon as it happened. Els left our house, and I heard a scream a few moments later," Mr. van Nort said.
Dirk squeezed his eyes shut, his stomach twisting.
"I ran to the window." The neighbor grimaced. "She did her best to fight them off, but there were too many of them."
Dirk put his head in his hands. "Why was she at your house in the middle of the night?"
"You've got to leave," Mr. van Nort said.
"She helps the Resistance, doesn't she? And that means you do too."
Mr. van Nort held up a finger. "If Els doesn't talk right away, they'll come here for you and your little sister. That's how they work."
The room swam before Dirk's eyes. "We'll go to Tante Cora's house in Doorwerth."
"But there's no food in the cities," Mr. van Nort said. "Ever since the Germans—"
"I know. But that's where Els told me to go if anything ever happened to her."
"Take as much food as you can carry." Mr. van Nort looked through the window at the street, then back at Dirk. "You need to leave right away. They'll be coming for you, son. Take Anna and go. Now!"
After Mr. van Nort left, Dirk's mind raced. What are the Nazis doing to Els? But he couldn't do anything for Els right now, and he had to get moving right away to save Anna. If he and Anna found Papa, then Papa would rescue Els. Dirk snatched two coats from the front closet, dropped them on a nearby chair, and flew up the stairs. In his bedroom, he threw on clothes over his pajamas for extra warmth.
How soon would the Gestapo come? In an hour? Fifteen minutes? A car with its lights on approached the house. He peered outside. No!
Dirk's muscles tensed, and his eyes flitted between the approaching car and the long driveway which led to the farmhouse. Should have kept the knife with me. His breathing became more rapid. If he ran down the stairs right now, he might dash out the back door before they surrounded the house and draw them away from Anna.
But the car passed the farmhouse.
The next one could be coming for me. With fresh urgency, Dirk rushed to his dresser, jerked open a drawer, grabbed a gray stone shaped like an extra-large coin, and jammed it into his pocket. He rushed into Anna's room, grabbed the first clothes he saw, and shoved them into a bag next to her dresser, pushing them in so hard he ripped a seam.