Chapters 17-19 Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

As the children continue their journey, things seem to be going well except that Edek’s health is not improving. Ruth decides that they should take a break from traveling for a week and allow Edek to rest. They find a peaceful meadow where they make their camp and Edek and Bronia rest while Jan and Ruth find temporary work in a nearby village. Jan starts to return at the end of each day with all kinds of food in strange tins, which Edek realizes he must be stealing from somewhere. The next day, Edek follows Jan and watches as he meets a strange youth. After talking briefly, Jan continues to the nearby train track. Jan climbs the ramp to the tower that is used to signal to the train and begins to cut several wires. Edek follows him and demands to know what he is doing, but Jan yells at him to leave. Edek is afraid that Jan is trying to wreck the train and, when Jan scurries away, Edek stays on top of the signal tower trying to flag down the train. In actuality, Jan has simply changed the signal to red to get the train to stop. At that point, Edek hears someone yelling at him from below and sees an American military policeman aiming a gun at him and ordering him to come down.

Edek is charged by the American military with being part of a gang that has recently been robbing trains in the area. Edek admits he was trying to stop that train, but not that he was part of any robbery attempt. As he is trying to explain his story to the judge, Captain Greenwood, Ruth suddenly appears along with Bronia and Jan. She forces a reluctant Jan to confess that he is to blame. He admits to helping the gang stop trains, but says that he was only given food in return. Captain Greenwood understands why he did it, but he tries to convince Jan to see why his actions are wrong. Jan apologizes and says that he will listen to Ruth in the future. The captain gives Jan a choice between paying a fine and spending seven days in jail. Without any money to pay the fine, Jan accepts the detention sentence.

A few weeks later, as the children make their way through Bavaria, they spend the night inside a farmer’s barn. The next morning, the famer discovers them sleeping in his haystack and threatens to turn them in to the burgomaster, who is supposed to be in charge of sending all Polish refuges back to Poland. The children plead with him and say they will gladly work for him to pay off the fact that they slept in his barn without permission. The farmer finally agrees, especially because his wife takes pity on the children and says that they are welcome to stay. She feeds them an enormous meal, and then each of the children is given a chore to work on around the farm.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Chapters 14-16 Summary


Chapters 20-22 Summary