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02.05.2015

Unsung Hero (Part 4)

"Swine!" Granddad clenched his fists.
The Corporal sneered, turned and retreated to the guardhouse.
The woman knelt down and began scraping the remains from the ground.

"Don't," Granddad said. "We have some more." He turned to Hans for the other half but his friend was just gulping down the last bite.

"What?" he said at Granddad's angry look. "I was hungry too."

Granddad turned to the woman and with hands, feet and the few French expressions he knew made her understand to wait for him about one-hundred metres to the left, where a brook flowed under the fence.

Then he ran the two kilometres back to the village, persuaded the baker to give him another loaf in exchange for half of his next pay and, after a detour through the forest, reached the spot he'd described to the woman. Granddad had some difficulty sliding under the fence into enemy territory 
without the bread getting wet. He managed it though. The woman could hardly believe her luck.

When Granddad reached his post again, wet to the bones and shivering, Hans had gone. At his place, Granddad's superior was waiting, arms akimbo and rocking from his toes to the heels and back.

"Hope it was a lovely stroll, private, because you won't be doing much walking in the near future."

Granddad spent the next two weeks in custody for abandoning his post.

"Only one thing I'm sorry about," he told me more than sixty years later on that Sunday afternoon. "I never found out what became of that woman."

Sitting by the lake, reading his diary, I felt lonelier than ever before in my life.

"23 November: Passed a loaf of bread through the fence to a French woman."

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