Chapter 29 Summary

As the summer of 1946 draws to an end, the Balicki family is living in a small Swiss village called Appenzell. Appenzell is an international children’s village, founded after the war to help find a home for the thousands of displaced children who lost their homes as a result of the war. Money from charities and individuals all over the country is put to use, along with volunteer labor, to build houses and schools to allow the children of the village to live and be educated in peace and comfort. Joseph Balicki and his wife are chosen to be the heads of the Polish house, as each group of children is arranged according to country of origin.

Bronia has matured into a talented artist and, despite all the hardships of the war years, is a very happy and contented child. Edek continues to struggle with his health after the war and has to go to a sanatorium for eighteen months to recuperate before returning to live with the family. The combination of his stay at the sanatorium and the clean mountain air helps him to return to full health, and he is able to go to Zurich to study to be an engineer. Jan is adopted into the Balicki family, as no record of his previous family is ever found by the International Tracing Service. After the war, he has a lot of trouble settling down into normal life and is frequently causing trouble and getting into fights. Ruth realizes that Jan is well behaved only when he is allowed to be around animals, and she begins to take him to the nearby farms. Soon, Jan is recognized as one of the most capable people around when it comes to tending and healing animals and eventually becomes a sort of unofficial veterinarian for the village.

After the war, Ruth has a hard time finding her place in the world, even though she did such an amazing job of handling so many responsibilities when her parents were absent. Although she wants to be a teacher, she refuses to go to the university because she simply cannot bring herself to leave her newfound home. Eventually, however, this phase passes, and in 1947, she goes to Zurich and studies for her teaching degree. After completing her degree, she marries another teacher. He was originally French but, like Ruth, lived in Appenzell after the war. The two of them return to the village to be the houseparents of the French house. And, at the Polish house, Margrit Balicki still holds on to her precious silver sword.