The house was warm and cozy. The wood was quietly crackling in the stove. A favorite TV show was on, and a snowstorm was howling outside the window. Mrs. Davis, an elderly woman who was a local nurse in the past, was comfortably sitting in an old worn-out chair, watching a movie and stroking her cat on her lap.
Suddenly, there was a loud banging on the window. “Who’s out there in such weather?” the woman wondered and reluctantly went to look. She opened the door and froze in disbelief. A young pregnant girl was standing on her feet in the freezing cold. She was in a nightgown, barefoot, and a crocheted shawl was thrown over her shoulders. Barely moving her lips, the girl whispered, “I beg you, please don’t drive me away. Help me.” She mumbled as if in a delirium.
Without thinking, Mrs. Davis quickly led the young woman into the house. “What a nightmare! Who dared to leave a pregnant woman out in the cold?” wailed the elderly woman. As a nurse, she understood the consequences of such walks in the cold for a woman in her condition.
She heated some water and began to warm the girl’s feet. Then she wrapped her up, gave her hot tea with raspberry jam, and put her to bed. She did not ask anything, having decided to leave all the questions for the morning. The girl fell asleep instantly, whispering only “thank you.”
All night long, there had been some kind of commotion in the street. People were running around, calling for someone, and cars were driving by. Michelle woke up because of the smell of fried eggs and fresh-baked pancakes.
She was terribly hungry, and the baby stirred restlessly inside her. She cautiously climbed out from under the blanket. There was a carefully prepared robe by the bed and warm slippers. Suddenly, she felt so comfortable, as in a distant childhood at her grandmother’s house in the village, and she didn’t want to go back to the scary harsh reality.
An elderly woman was bustling about in the kitchen, putting out ruddy pancakes on a plate. “Well, run away, go wash your face, and come have breakfast. No child must be hungry, right?” And then, I expect you to tell me who you are and what has happened to you.” After eating breakfast with great pleasure, Michelle sighed and began her story.
“I’m an orphan. I never saw my parents. My grandmother raised me until I was five. She loved me and pitied me. Then she died, and I ended up in an orphanage. After graduation, I was sent to a teacher’s college.
Then I met a wealthy guy at a disco. All the girls were hanging on him at the time, but Paul noticed me and picked me out of all the girls. He was 10 years older than me. He had his own house in the suburbs, not far away from here, and his father was some big shot. He looked after me beautifully, gave me flowers, and took me to the movies.
So I couldn’t resist; I fell in love with him completely. We started living together in his house. At first, everything was fine, but when I realized that I was pregnant, he changed. He started hurting me, insulting me. He often got drunk, came home at dawn. Of course, I cried, got worried, asked him to change his mind, but to no avail.
And two weeks ago, he went completely insane and brought his new girlfriend home. I had never been in so much pain. I started packing, deciding to leave Paul, but he became furious and hit me. He said he wouldn’t let me go anywhere until I gave birth and that he would take the baby right away.
He locked me in the room and refused to let me go outside. He told his housekeeper Helen to bring me food. I cried all the time, begged him to change his mind. And last night, Helen took pity on me and left the door unlocked. So I left the house as I was and I barely remember how hard I was running before I reached your house. Thank you.” Michelle finished her story and sobbed.
“What a horror! How can it be like this? What are you going to do now?” lamented Mrs. Davis. “Honestly, I do not know. Do not drive me away, please. Paul will take the baby away after the birth and throw me out. I’m an orphan, there is no one to stand up for me, and his father has connections. Then I will have nothing to live for,” said Michelle and burst into tears even more.
“All right, get those thoughts out of your head. I have a son, Larry. He’s a local policeman, and he’ll be back on duty soon. You should tell him all about it; maybe he can help you,” said Mrs. Davis.
Larry was walking home from duty and was thinking about his unsuccessful family life. He had recently separated from his wife, who reproached him for his work in the police. She wanted Larry to go into business and take her to fancy resorts. She nagged him mercilessly, so they divorced, and Larry returned to the hometown. Upon entering the house, Larry said the usual loud hello from the hallway and went into the kitchen. He was terribly hungry.
“Son, I would like to introduce our guest, Michelle. She’s in trouble. You should listen to her; maybe together we can figure out how to help her,” said Mrs. Davis.
“Weren’t you the one who was looked for all night?” asked Larry. Instead of greeting her, Michelle turned deathly pale. She looked like a frightened little deer with the same huge tear-filled blue eyes framed by thick lashes, luxurious long wheat-colored hair put up somehow in a ponytail. She was so pretty and defenseless that Larry’s heart trembled.
“Don’t give me away, I beg you,” whispered the young woman.
Upon learning what had happened, Larry was shocked. He did not yet know how to help Michelle, but he was sure that he would not leave her in trouble.
“Don’t cry, Michelle. No one is going to give you to that rascal. Where are your things and documents?” Larry asked.
“Everything is at Paul’s house. He took my passport so I wouldn’t run away, and the keys to my apartment are there too. Only I’m not going there. I’m afraid,” large beads like tears sprang from the girl’s eyes.
“Let’s do it this way. You stay with us for a while, and I’ll go into town and buy you some clothes and everything you need. Then I’ll find out what kind of man Paul is and try to get your things from him, okay?”
“It’s very dangerous. I’m sorry I got you involved,” wailed the young woman.
“Keep your head up. After all, it’s my job to help the citizens,” replied Larry firmly.
Through his co-workers, Larry made inquiries and found out that this Paul Spencer was the son of a well-known businessman in the city. However, this businessman was not very honest. The police had been trying to get hold of him for a long time, but there was not enough evidence to bring charges against him.
At first, Larry decided to try to talk to Paul on good terms, to appeal to his conscience
, though subconsciously he felt that it would not lead to anything good. And so it turned out. A glossy man came out of the cottage and carelessly asked, “Who are you, and what do you want here?”
“I’m the precinct officer in the area, and I’d like to talk to you,” Larry said.
“I know that you’ve been illegally holding Michelle Taylor, took her documents, her things. Give them back. The girl is scared and doesn’t want to come back to you.”
Paul got angry, clenched his fists, and shouted, “You’ve found this little wretch? I thought she was freezing to death. So she’s complaining, huh? I haven’t needed her at all. I’ve had my fun, but I’ll take the baby away from her anyway. Who asked her to get pregnant? After all, she’s a fool.”
“It’s not legal. You have no right to take a child from his own mother,” Larry said.
“I don’t care. My dad has many connections. So she won’t get anything. Tell her that,” said Paul and closed the door in front of the district officer’s nose.
Larry was outraged by such rude and impudent behavior and decided to act through his father, since the conversation with his son had failed. He spent a couple of weeks collecting data on his business and found many interesting things.
He thought for a long time, weighed everything up, and decided to take the risk. He went directly to the businessman’s office and told the man the whole truth about his son. At the end, he gave Mr. Spencer a folder with copies of documents, saying that he would use these documents if his son did not leave Michelle in peace.
Larry was afraid that Mr. Spencer, like his son, would be rude and threatening, but to his relief, this did not happen. The man looked through the documents, and tiredly put his arms around his head and said, “I got your issue, and I’ll take care of it. I don’t want any more trouble, and I’m sick of my son’s antics. All the girl’s things and documents will be delivered to her home. I’ll take care of it. And if it is confirmed that the child is my grandson, I will help her. I apologize for my son’s behavior.”
The policeman was dumbfounded by what he heard. He could only mutter a thank you for understanding and left the office. Larry ran home like a madman. He had great news to please the young woman.
When he entered the house, he saw a touching picture. His mother was teaching Michelle to make dumplings. She was trying hard, piecing the edges together.
The tip of her nose was in the flour, her hair was sticking out funnily from under her cap. Michelle rejoiced; she was free. Tomorrow she could move back home with her son. Michelle was sure that everything would be fine ahead. The horrors of her past life were far behind her.
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