Well, our tale ends here. I hope everyone has enjoyed it. Please leave a review and tell me your thoughts. As always, do not shy away from criticism. We do not learn from our successes, but only by our mistakes. So feel free to point mine out.
Now that this project is complete, I will be either working on an original supernatural type thriller, which will be found on this site of course, or returning to for a Star Wars story. Either way, I welcome everyone who is reading this to look for my next project. My pen name is the same on both sites.
Thank you for reading, I hope it has been time well spent.
Ralph felt like he had only been asleep a few minutes when Christy shook him awake. He sat up, and tried to rub the sleep from his eyes. A glance out the window revealed that the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon.
"It's time to go Ralph." Christy said solemnly. "Come outside."
Ralph just nodded. When the nun had exited the small room, Ralph pulled himself up from the tiny cot and slipped his feet into his well worn shoes.
When he had made his way outside, Ralph was met with a puzzling sight. There was not a single wagon or carriage, only a group of children on foot, and a handful of nuns.
Ralph scanned the group for Joseph, but did not find him. While Ralph had been eating his eggs, he had seen a few children hobbling on crutches, and several more that were obviously in poor health. Now, standing outside, he did not see a single one of these children.
Panic swept his heart like a wildfire, and he immediately went to find Sister Christy. The nun was standing near Sister Mary, who was barking orders to the other nuns.
Ralph quickly approached, and stood squarely in the two women's sight.
"Where is Joseph?" He demanded.
Mary did not say anything, but glanced at Christy, with a twinge of sadness in her stern eyes.
Christy sighed deeply, and knelt down in front of Ralph.
"Joseph is going to stay here, Ralph."
"What?" Ralph responded incredulously.
"The wagons we hoped for were unable to make it here. Don't worry, several of the nuns are staying behind to look after him and the others." Christy attempted to reassure him.
Fury burned in Ralph's eyes. "I might not know much about the world, or war. But I do know why Hitler has to be stopped. I know why I have to protect Joseph. My father told me of the Master Race." Ralph growled. "And I will not leave my brother here to die!"
"There is no choice, my child. We must move on." Mary stated coldly.
"And leave them here to die?" Ralph protested.
Mary's features hardened. "To save the larger group, yes. If we try to save everyone, we will all die. I will not allow that!"
Ralph glared at the older nun. "Then I will risk my own life for my brother's."
Ralph turned and stormed back into the orphanage. Mary and Christy followed him. Ralph found Joseph in one of the common rooms, along with several other frail children. They were all eating and laughing with a trio of nuns who wore smiles, but their eyes spoke of their true feelings, the fear that rested in their hearts.
"It's time to go, Joseph." Ralph said gently.
"Where are we going brother?" Joseph asked cheerfully.
"To Paris, to see the Eiffel Tower." Ralph responded.
"Oh, okay." Joseph took his cane and struggled up. "C'mon everyone."
Ralph started to open his mouth, but was stopped when Sister Mary stepped forward.
"They'll be coming later, Joseph. We'll all meet up in Paris." Mary explained.
"Okay" Joseph turned to the others "see you guys in Paris!" He waved vigorously.
By the time the nuns and the brothers had made their way out of the orphanage, Joseph was breathing heavily and leaning hard on his cane. Stopping right outside the door, Mary turned to Ralph.
"I leave him to you. I pray God assists you, for I cannot." Mary said with a hint of sadness in her voice.
Ralph just nodded solemnly.
Christy walked up to Ralph, bent over and kissed his forehead, before walking away with tears in her eyes.
Ralph focused himself, and as he watched the group of orphans begin moving down the road, he motioned for Joseph to climb on his back. Joseph did so, giggling.
"Giddyup horsey!" Joseph said with excitement.
Ralph forced himself to forget the gravity of the situation for a moment and laughed heartily.
"Careful! This horse bucks!" Ralph said, as he bounced gently.
With this, the pair began down the road after the larger group, and into the darkness of the rapidly approaching night.
The children walked the entire night through and well into the morning. Not long after daybreak, Christy fell back towards the rear of the group, and fell into step with Ralph.
"Good morning, Ralph."
"Good morning Sister."
"You are leaning pretty badly, are you tired?" Christy asked with concern in her voice.
"If I'm leaning at all, I'm leaning of sadness for those we've left behind to die."
"We only did what we had to do, Ralph. Besides, there's a god chance the German Army won't even happen past the orphanage." Christy tried to hold hope in her voice, but failed miserably.
"I hope you're right." Ralph said, with a sad sigh.
The group continued on for two more days, stopping only for a handful of hours at a time to eat and catch a little rest. The children were all exhausted and many had trouble keeping up. Ralph was unfazed, however, and continued to march like a machine, never missing a beat, or a single step.
At dusk on the third day, Mary made her way to Ralph. Since fatigue did not seem to have any effect on the boy, he was now leading the group, instead of lagging behind.
"Your courage and strength has inspired me, child. I will carry Joseph for a while for you, I'm sure he must be heavy." Mary said, softly.
Ralph turned to her, with a look of utter serenity and grace on his face. "He's not heavy, he's my brother."
The sight that caught Mary's eyes stopped her in her tracks.
"God bless that child." Christy said, coming up behind Mary.
"I think He already has. Look." Mary responded breathlessly.
Christy looked to the boy, and in the deepening darkness of the night, she could see that Ralph's whole body was encased in a golden glow.
And beside him walked a spectral figure, a man in robes, with flowing dark hair. His arm rested gently on Joseph's back, and he seemed to be made of the same light that washed over Ralph, only much more intense. A feeling of warmth, love, and peace radiated from the figure.
The man looked back towards the nuns, revealing a lightly bearded face and the gentlest eyes either woman would ever see. At this moment, the sisters knew that the Lord himself held Ralph up.