Chapter 2, Scene 2
Hana ducked. Could she become invisible? There was no where left to hide. No where to run. No way to run.
The Germans had taken that away.
She pulled against the rope binding her wrists to no avail. The rub of the raw material against her skin was her only reward. Grimacing against the burn, she pressed her face all the more against her shoulder.
Was this all that was left to her? Could anyone survive this?
At least for now, the soldier that had glanced her way returned to the jovality of his small group.
She was safe.
But for how long?
Her stomach ached. When was the last time they had fed her.
Fed was too generous a word for the act of tossing scraps her way.
She wasn’t an animal.
Still, she could not help herself as she lunged for the morsels. And the sneers and laughter from her captors made her burn much deeper within than the ropes ever could.
What did they intend to do with her?
Thus far she had been little more than a source of amusement.
But she was not ignorant. They would tire of their play, use her as they pleased, and toss her away.
And there was little she could do to stop them.
That didn’t mean she wouldn’t try.
Peering at the group of men drinking and laughing, she wondered how much they had consumed. Would they soon be passed out?
Perhaps then she could work on the knots again. Her jaw ached at the mere thought.
But she had to try. Hana Novakova would not go peaceably.
That was certain.
The men became louder, drawing her attention back in their direction.
Two soldiers faced each other, nearly nose to nose. The others had drawn back, creating a circle around them.
The surrounding men chanted in German while the two men locked their foreheads together, putting their hands on the other’s shoulders and jerking the other closer.
What had their drunkenness drawn them to now?
If only she weren’t secured to this tree, she might take advantage of this opportunity. Dare she creep closer to the oak and work that knot?
The voices grew louder and the circle tightened until she could no longer see the combatants.
She had to try.
Pushing herself into a standing position, she bit her lip against the pain in her leg. How badly was she injured?
If she hadn’t been slowed by it, she might not be in this situation at all.
She sniffed back her frustrated tears. They would not serve her.
Refocusing on her task, she crouched and limped toward the tree, keeping careful watch on the men.
They seemed wholly unaware of her movements.
Just a few more inches and she would be there. Letting loose her leg, she reached forth for the portion of rope that secured her to the trunk.
It had been tied tightly.
Did she expect anything less?
As she slid her fingers around the rope, she frowned at the state of her once fine skin. Cuts and reddened patches marred her fair skin. What would her mother think?
She pushed that thought back in her mind. There wasn’t time for that. This was her life.
But the ties wouldn’t give.
Still, she worked. There was no other option.
The sounds of the men cheering on the two locked in some sort of game increased. What did that mean?
She didn’t have the time to stop and investigate.
Jerking on the thick, rough hemp, it gave a little.
She almost cried out.
But stopped herself.
Holding her breath, she then became aware that the nearby noises had ceased.
Dare she turn?
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end.
Was someone behind her?
She pushed out a ragged breath and closed her eyes.
A rough voice spoke in German.
They were close. Too close.
“It seems, my lady, that the cat has caught the mouselette. And she has been very naughty.” The roughened tenor said in her language.
Her head swam with a million thoughts.
Should she comply? Drop her arms and turn? Would that make it better for her? Or was she correct thinking they would end her life when they were done with her? Might there be a chance for her to escape? Would she want to live after they were done?
Or should she resist?
A part of Hana was scared and thought perhaps she might escape if she did not fight. But, that was not who Hana Novakova was. Not now. Not ever.
The grass crunched behind her. Did the man step closer?
She thought to pray briefly. But only a few words for strength and boldness.
Then she intertwined her fingers, pulling her hands together.
One more step.
“What has the mouselette to say for herself?”
He was close. So close she felt the heat from his body.
Gripping her hands together, she spun, pivoting on her good leg, arms outstretched and firm.
They connected with the soldier’s face.
Though she had not the strength of a man, God must have heard her prayer. The blow knocked the man to the side. He fought for balance.
But there was no where for her to run and there were too many men surrounding her. Hands gripped her from all sides, fingers digging into her skin.
She kicked out in any and every direction she could.
The soldiers forced her into a kneeling position, pinning her arms to her sides, her bound hands in front of her.
Where was the man she had hit? Had she done any damage?
Movement off to the side caught her attention. The man was hunched over, a cloth to his face.
He looked in her direction. And she saw…
The cloth was pressed to his bloodied nose.
She could not help the warmth in her chest that caused her to square her shoulders and straighten her back, straining against the hands that held her.
From somewhere a hand hit her across the face. Her world became darker. And as her vision returned, everything seemed a little blurry.
The soldier she had assaulted was now masked in naked outrage. His features were set and stony. He took a step toward her, his own hand raised.
She turned her head.
What more was she to endure?
“Stop!” A voice farther away demanded.
A hush ended the soldiers’ grumblings.
She peered in the direction of this new voice without exposing herself fully.
A man, medium build, with a beard and a rather gentle voice, stood in defiance to these men. And he spoke with a Czech accent. Could he be? Either that or he was a German who had studied excellently.
But was there any chance he could offer her salvation?