Chapter 11

The barn provided the shelter we needed from the chill and the dew of mountain. Sleep was no problem because we were worn out from the day's activities. When you think about it, it is odd that being in the situation were in, one might wonder how anyone could sleep. There is no doubt that all of us were frightened and unsure of what was going to happen next; yet our body’s need for rest apparently superseded our mind's need to worry. The night passed without event, so everyone got a good night's rest. We did discuss the man we had lost, wondering where he might be, and if he might catch up with us. Our hearts and minds were with him, and we all wished him well. I, myself, thanked God that it wasn't me who was wandering out there lost and alone. Frankly, I had enough problems as it was. I sure didn't need another batch of them to carry.

Now it was daylight and decisions had to be made. We had no set leader to make decisions, so it became a general discussion meeting and those of us that could communicate did so. There were not a whole lot of options for us to consider but we knew we must press on until we found some help in Spain. Here we were in another country and we had entered it illegally by crossing the border where there were no border guards. It was a moot point because we doubted the guards would have admitted us if we did confront them. It became obvious there was only one real course of action to take, and this was to strike out in small groups, going down the mountain and let nature take its course. So off we went, sliding when it was possible--the grade was very steep--until we came to a road. No sooner had we reached the road than the local police were upon us. There were no pleasant greetings or smiles, just some orders we could not understand. The language was not to be understood, but the gestures were not in doubt. They all had pistols at their waists and I am sure if we had given them any trouble, they would have used them. They kept us there as other policemen rounded up the others as they appeared at the side of the road at various points. We were all more or less in the same area so they had us all in short order. No one tried to escape, rather we were happy to be found because we felt that now the authorities had us and proper steps would be taken to get us on our way to England.

WRONG! They marched us all to a good sized barn along the side of the road, lined us up and one by one had us turn out our pockets, taking everything we had of value. As each one was relieved of their valuables they were ordered into the barn. They took all watches, wallets, maps, coins and rings, if a person had one. Soon everyone was inside, the doors closed, secured, and a guard posted outside. There we were safely, we hoped, in the hands of our saviors. Why they took everything we could not understand, but after a little discussion we decided the police were going keep this stuff for themselves. Why not? There was nothing we could do one way or the other. Again, it would have to be a wait-and-see game.

I think we must have been in the barn for some two or three hours just sitting on the floor, letting our minds process the possibilities of the next chapter in the unfolding drama. Suddenly the door was flung open; an officer strode in, followed by two policemen. One man had a small table and a chair, the other a box. The table was positioned in the light of the door, the box was placed on the table, and the officer sat down. The policeman looked a little unhappy; the officer looked mad. He spoke some English, telling us to come up one at a time and reclaim our property. He did not apologize, but sat by the box as each person found his stuff. Now, although I have not mentioned it, we were all starving to death, and by the time everyone's goods were reclaimed, it was noon or a little after. Remember now, it had been four days and four nights since we had eaten. We had been expending energy like a ditch digger, and had about reached the end of our rope. How the old man suffered all this and kept going, I’ll never know.

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