Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 604
Joe is able to get the children ensconced at the refugee camp on the shores of Lake Constance, despite all the confusion that exists because the zone is being transferred from American control to French. Although the camp directors want to keep Edek in a separate part of the camp, Ruth is able to procure lodging in a tent very close to Edek’s quarters. The Swiss authorities, however, are not allowing any refugees to cross the border without proof that they have family or other business in the country. Ruth sends a letter to Farmer Wolff to try to get the silver sword, which she thinks will help their claim, and the superintendent of the camp sends a letter to the International Tracing Service (ITS), the agency in charge of locating displaced people. After a few weeks have gone by, the superintendent calls Ruth into his office and asks her to describe the silver sword. Once she has described it, the superintendent tells her that he has both the sword, which Farmer Wolff sent to the ITS as soon as he realized it was left behind, and another letter that her father had sent to the ITS describing the family’s situation. The superintendent tells her that he has been able to connect all the different information and, furthermore, that he has a telegram from her father saying that he has sent all the permits to get them into Switzerland and they can take the boat over within a couple of days. Ruth runs to tell the rest of the children and they dance and laugh in celebration.
On the morning they are supposed to take the boat into Switzerland, the children go down to the shore of the lake to wait. They end up crossing a small creek and walking through the woods to a small headland with a view of the lake, except for Edek, who decides to stay by the shore and rest by a small boat that is drawn up on the bank. As the other children are walking, they notice that dark storm clouds are approaching. Suddenly, a huge downpour starts. Jan and Bronia and Ruth turn around to try to find Edek, but the creek they crossed has turned into a raging river. Ruth sees the boat that Edek had been sitting by out on the lake and realizes that Edek must have been washed away. Bronia sees a small rowboat that has drifted onto the shore and she and Ruth try to commandeer it. Jan helps at first but becomes distracted when Ludwig runs away. Ruth becomes exasperated and tells Jan that he cares only about his animals. Finally, Jan reaches a decision and is forced to leave Ludwig behind in order to help Jan and Bronia rescue Edek.
The next thing she knows, Ruth wakes up in a strange boat. As she comes to her senses, she realizes her father is there. He shows her where Bronia and Edek are sleeping, although Edek looks very weak and sick. Jan is the only one who shows no ill effects from the storm. It turns out that Jan was the one responsible for rescuing both boats out on the lake. For the final surprise, her father brings in Ruth’s mother, and the family is reunited for the first time since the early days of the war. Jan tells them that although he lost his wooden box of treasures, he was able to hang onto the silver sword. He gives it to Margrit Balicki and says she can keep it forever if she will be his mother.