Joanna was napping with Veronica in the cabin when the flurry of footsteps along the deck awakened her, and she went to see what the commotion was all about. When she reached the deck, she saw a group of her fellow passengers standing there, gazing across the water at - land!
Within moments, the ship had sailed into port, and the coastline of Argentina could clearly be seen. Beyond the miles of sand, Joanna could see the crests of distant mountains.
She remembered Veronica and hurried back to the cabin, where she saw Jurgen sitting on the edge of the bed, holding Veronica, who was now awake.
"Mama!" the little girl cried.
"Where did you go?" Jurgen demanded.
"We've reached land!" Joanna told him.
Soon the ship docked, and the passengers disembarked. They had barely had time to regain their land legs before they were being hustled into the back of a large truck.
Inside the truck, it was as black as night.
Joanna was reminded of being in the cattle cars with the rest of her family. It was the last time she'd ever seen any of them. She had to choke back a sob.
Frightened, Veronica began to wail.
"Somebody shut that kid up!" yelled one of the men.
Joanna rocked her daughter and sang a Yiddish lullaby to her, the same one she'd sang to her as an infant, and she soon shushed.
The journey seemed to last an eternity. Joanna dozed off and on, and her stomach began to rumble with hunger. Veronica whimpered and whined, and Joanna did her best to keep the child entertained.
After many hours, the truck finally came to a stop. The passengers climbed out and were blinded by the sunlight. When her eyes had adjusted, Joanna looked around to find they were standing in a swamp. In the distance were rows of cabins, similar to the ones they'd left behind in Spain. The passengers were given food and then led to the cabins.
The one to which Jurgen and Joanna were assigned contained one large room with a stove and a table with four chairs at one end and a fireplace at the other end. A smaller room held a double bed with a crib. A tiny bathroom was attached to this room.
After they'd all eaten, Joanna got Veronica settled and laid her in the crib, then went into the bathroom, where she filled the tub with water for Jurgen's bath, then went to fetch him.
"This is all your fault, you know," he told her. She felt her skin begin to prickle. "I saw how you were looking at those two Jews who came around. You wanted to tell them the truth, didn't you? Answer me!"
She shook her head vigorously as she backed away from him.
"Yes, you did! Don't lie!"
She felt the same terror she'd felt when he'd still had all four limbs.
Using his good leg, he rose unsteadily until he was standing beside the bed. "I must discipline you." He motioned with his good arm. "Bend over."
She glanced at her sleeping child and, not wanting her to awaken, did as she was told.
She felt her dress being lifted and her panties being lowered, but when the blows came, they were so soft she barely felt them at all. She didn't even realize he was finished until he told her to stand and pull her panties up.
She did so and looked at him with puzzled eyes.
"I didn't want to awaken Veronica." He looked away, and when he spoke again, his voice was gruff. "And besides, I love you."
Shocked, she could only continue to stare. A moment later, he turned his head, and his blue eyes gazed into her own.
"You've been with me since the day I selected you to work for me, and no matter how I've treated you, you never turned against me. You were there all through the dark days following my accident, nursing me back to health, giving me reason to want to live again. You've given me a beautiful child. How could I not love you?"
Her chest felt as if it were about to burst, and hot tears sprang unbidden to her eyes. She went to him and embraced him, and felt his good arm encircle her, pulling her close. She buried her face in his shoulder and gasped, struggling for words that wouldn't come.
"Are you all right?" he asked after a few minutes.
"Yes," she whispered. "I - I love you too, Jurgen." For that moment, their new identities were forgotten.
"Please never leave me," he begged.
"I won't," she assured him.
It took them several days to adjust to life in Argentina. They'd arrived in late fall, and the days were cool and damp. A few days after they'd moved into the cabin, Jurgen brought a small animal inside to show his family. The animal looked like a giant rat to Joanna, except that it had huge orange front teeth, which made her think of a beaver instead.
"It's a nutria, also known as a coypu," Jurgen explained. "They grow wild around here. We're going to breed them and sell their fur."
"It would take many of those to make even one coat!" Joanna pointed out.
"It would," Jurgen agreed. "But they breed prolifically. They eat almost anything, so food for them will cost next to nothing, and we will be paid very well for the fur."
Veronica toddled over to her father and patted the small animal he was holding. "Bear."
Jurgen chuckled. "It is furry like a bear, isn't it? It's called a nutria. We're going to have a farm with lots and lots of them."
As she watched the interaction between father and daughter, Joanna thought of her own father and felt the familiar lump in her throat. However mixed her feelings about Jurgen might be, she fervently hoped her daughter would be spared the suffering and loss she herself had gone through.