Excerpt from chapter TWENTY-TWO of The Storks came Back

Once again it was Saturday. Morten came home from school at lunch time wondering what to do with his afternoon off. He let himself into the house through the backdoor, surprised to find his mother home already, an hour early.

She seemed terribly upset judging by her face, red-eyed and streaked with tears. He found it hard to believe that his mother had been crying. She never did – not that he knew of.

“You had better pull up a chair,” she said, sobbing.

Snap left her basket to sit beside Morten’s chair. He reached down and ruffled her ears, bracing himself for whatever the bad news might be.

Mother reached across the table and took his hand.

“Your father won’t be coming home today – not for a long time, I fear. Mr. Johansen called me away from class this morning, to tell me. The Germans have rounded up all of the Danish policemen they could find, and sent them to prison camps in Germany. We don’t right know yet where Father was sent. They seem to have gone to two different camps, one called Neuengamme, the other a place named Buchenwald.

Mother squeezed his hand and Morten squeezed hers, fighting against his tears. For a long time they sat without speaking. Morten swallowed to keep his lips from trembling. Mother patted his hand. Don’t cry,” she said. “Mr. Johansen thinks because all the police in one unit are kept together, they’ll be all right in the camps as long as they help one another to stay healthy. People are rushing to collect food and medicine to send to them, like they’ve been doing for other prison camps. So far, the Red Cross is still able to deliver packages and letters to Nazi prison camps. Father will surely come back, Morten. We have to believe and stay strong.”

Morten jumped up. He ran to the door muttering, “I forgot something. I won’t be long.”

“Where are you going?” his mother called after him. “Have a bite of lunch first.”

“I’m not hungry,” Morten shouted. He ran out to the woodshed followed by Snap. He picked up the wedge and the sledge hammer, gauging their weight. With his father gone, it would be his job from now on to split wood for the kitchen stove. He put the tools down. His head was spinning with thoughts. He didn’t feel up to splitting wood right now.