Chapter 17: In this chapter, the most important events are Edek's discovery of Jan's clandestine actions and Edek's subsequent arrest by Captain Greenwood.
In Chapter 17, we discover that Jan is working at a farm, while Ruth is working as a cleaning lady at the local school. Meanwhile, Jan invariably returns home every day with cans of meat and fish. For her part, Ruth suspects that Jan is stealing. She thinks that he is stealing from the Americans, however.
The next day, Edek follows Jan after the younger boy leaves his farm job. Eventually, Edek discovers what Jan has been doing in his spare time: cutting signal wires in order to stop inbound trains. This is how Jan has managed to steal cans of food. For his part, Edek tries to stop Jan but is apprehended by Captain Greenwood in the process of doing so.
Chapter 18: In this chapter, the most important events are Edek's trial and his consignment to jail for seven days.
In Chapter 18, we see Ruth, Bronia, and Jan try to explain the truth to the court. Jan admits that he was the one who tried to stop the train. He also tells Captain Greenwood that Edek came to stop him from cutting the signal wires. During the trial, the captain asks Jan why he stole from the trains. After all, he can get plenty of food from the army kitchens.
Jan rationalizes his actions by arguing that he has a right to steal from the Nazis. After all, they ravaged his country. For his part, Captain Greenwood informs Jan that he has actually been stealing from the Americans, who have been sending food to help refugees like himself.
Jan eventually breaks down and insists that he must steal when his family is hungry. The kindly captain then tells Jan that he must either pay a fine of 200 marks or spend seven days in prison. Jan chooses to accept the prison sentence, as the children have little money to spare. Both Ruth and Bronia are saving portions of their pay to buy some boots for Edek (so he can travel later). After receiving Jan's answer, Captain Greenwood promises to take good care of him while he is in prison.