Number the Stars

by

Lois Lowry

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Ellen is Annemarie’s best friend and neighbor. The two girls live in the same apartment building and attend the same school, and though Ellen is Jewish and Annemarie is not, neither of them ever feel any tension or distance on the basis of religion. Ellen plays at Annemarie’s apartment on weekday afternoons, and Annemarie and her sister Kirsti attend Friday evening Sabbath dinners at the Rosens’ apartment. Even in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, a time of fear and uncertainty, Ellen’s childhood is relatively peaceful—until the Nazis obtain a list of all Copenhagen’s Jews and systematically begin rounding them up and arresting them for purposes of “relocation.” The dramatic Ellen, with big dreams of life as an actress, is forced into her greatest “performance” yet—the Johansens take her in while her parents are hurried off with members of the Resistance, and Ellen must pretend to be Annemarie’s sister. Though full of fear for her parents’ well-being, Ellen is soothed by the Johansens’ kindness as they welcome her into their home and say they’re “proud” to have her as a daughter—even if it’s just pretend. Nevertheless, Ellen finds strength and happiness in her newly-minted sisterhood with Annemarie, and as Annemarie’s Papa points out, the two have behaved like sisters practically all their lives already. Though Ellen is forced to hide who she is—and even surrenders her beloved Star of David necklace to Annemarie for safekeeping—she remains strong as her journey takes her from Copenhagen to the Danish countryside, where she’s reunited with her parents and smuggled out of Denmark with the help of Annemarie’s Uncle Henrik. Ellen is a steadfast friend, a strong young girl, and a true sister to Annemarie.

Ellen Rosen Quotes in Number the Stars

The Number the Stars quotes below are all either spoken by Ellen Rosen or refer to Ellen Rosen. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Privilege, Sacrifice, and Solidarity  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Number the Stars published in 1989.
Chapter 3 Quotes

Now she was ten, with long legs and no more silly dreams of pink-frosted cupcakes. And now she—and all the Danes—were to be bodyguard for Ellen, and Ellen’s parents, and all of Denmark’s Jews.

Would she die to protect them? Truly? Annemarie was honest enough to admit, there in the darkness, to herself, that she wasn’t sure.

For a moment she felt frightened. But she pulled the blanket up higher around her neck and relaxed. It was all imaginary, anyway—not real. It was only in the fairy tales that people were called upon to be so brave, to die for one another. Not in real-life Denmark. Oh, there were the soldiers; that was true. And the courageous Resistance leaders, who sometimes lost their lives; that was true, too.

But ordinary people like the Rosens and the Johansens? Annemarie admitted to herself, snuggling there in the quiet dark, that she was glad to be an ordinary person who would never be called upon for courage.

Page Number: 25-26
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

Alone in the apartment while Mama was out shopping with Kirsti, Annemarie and Ellen were sprawled on the living room floor playing with paper dolls. They had cut the dolls from Mama’s magazines, old ones she had saved from past years. The paper ladies had old-fashioned hair styles and clothes, and the girls had given them names from Mama’s very favorite book. Mama had told Annemarie and Ellen the entire story of Gone With the Wind, and the girls thought it much more interesting and romantic than the king-and-queen tales that Kirsti loved.

“Come, Melanie,” Annemarie said, walking her doll across the edge of the rug. “Let’s dress for the ball.”

“All right, Scarlett, I’m coming,” Ellen replied in a sophisticated voice. She was a talented performer; she often played the leading roles in school dramatics. Games of the imagination were always fun when Ellen played.

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Ellen Rosen (speaker), Kirsti Johansen, Mrs. Johansen/Mama
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

Annemarie grinned and walked her Scarlett toward the chair that Ellen had designated as Tivoli. She loved Tivoli Gardens, in the heart of Copenhagen; her parents had taken her there, often, when she was a little girl. She remembered the music and the brightly colored lights, the carousel and ice cream and especially the magnificent fireworks in the evenings: the huge colored splashes and bursts of lights in the evening sky.

“I remember the fireworks best of all,” she commented to Ellen.

“Me too,” Kirsti said. “I remember the fireworks.”

“Silly,” Annemarie scoffed. “You never saw the fireworks.” Tivoli Gardens was closed now. The German occupation forces had burned part of it, perhaps as a way of punishing the fun-loving Danes for their lighthearted pleasures.

Kirsti drew herself up, her small shoulders stiff. “I did too,” she said belligerently. “It was my birthday. I woke up in the night and I could hear the booms. And there were lights in the sky. Mama said it was fireworks for my birthday!”

Then Annemarie remembered. Kirsti’s birthday was late in August. And that night, only a month before, she, too, had been awakened and frightened by the sound of explosions. Kirsti was right—the sky in the southeast had been ablaze, and Mama had comforted her by calling it a birthday celebration.

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Kirsti Johansen (speaker), Ellen Rosen, Mrs. Johansen/Mama
Page Number: 30-31
Explanation and Analysis:

“You said that we would hide her. How can we do that? Where can she hide?”

Papa smiled. “That part is easy. It will be as your mama said: you two will sleep together in your bed, and you may giggle and talk and tell secrets to each other. And if anyone comes—”

Ellen interrupted him. “Who might come? Will it be soldiers? Like the ones on the corners?” Annemarie remembered how terrified Ellen had looked the day when the soldier had questioned them on the corner.

“I really don’t think anyone will. But it never hurts to be prepared. If anyone should come, even soldiers, you two will be sisters. You are together so much, it will be easy for you to pretend that you are sisters.”

[…]

Annemarie and Ellen got to their feet. Papa suddenly crossed the room and put his arms around them both. He kissed the top of each head: Annemarie’s blond one, which reached to his shoulder, and Ellen’s dark hair, the thick curls braided as always into pigtails.

“Don’t be frightened,” he said to them softly. “Once I had three daughters. Tonight I am proud to have three daughters again.”

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Ellen Rosen (speaker), Mr. Johansen/Papa (speaker)
Page Number: 37-38
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Ellen,” [Annemarie] whispered urgently, “take your necklace off!”

Ellen’s hands flew to her neck. Desperately she began trying to unhook the tiny clasp. Outside the bedroom door, the harsh voices and heavy footsteps continued.

“I can’t get it open!” Ellen said frantically. “I never take it off—I can’t even remember how to open it!”

Annemarie heard a voice just outside the door. “What is here?”

“Shhh,” her mother replied. “My daughters’ bedroom. They are sound asleep.”

“Hold still,” Annemarie commanded. “This will hurt.” She grabbed the little gold chain, yanked with all her strength, and broke it. As the door opened and light flooded into the bedroom, she crumpled it into her hand and closed her fingers tightly.

Terrified, both girls looked up at the three Nazi officers who entered the room.

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Ellen Rosen (speaker), Mrs. Johansen/Mama (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ellen’s Necklace
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“So, Henrik, is the weather good for fishing?” Papa asked cheerfully, and listened briefly.

Then he continued, “I’m sending Inge to you today with the children, and she will be bringing you a carton of cigarettes.

“Yes, just one,” he said, after a moment. Annemarie couldn’t hear Uncle Henrik’s words. “But there are a lot of cigarettes available in Copenhagen now, if you know where to look,” he went on, “and so there will be others coming to you as well, I’m sure.”

But it wasn’t true. Annemarie was quite certain it wasn’t true. Cigarettes were the thing that Papa missed, the way Mama missed coffee. He complained often—he had complained only yesterday—that there were no cigarettes in the stores. The men in his office, he said, making a face, smoked almost anything: sometimes dried weeds rolled in paper, and the smell was terrible.

Why was Papa speaking that way, almost as if he were speaking in code? What was Mama really taking to Uncle Henrik?

Then she knew. It was Ellen.

Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

Ellen touched her neck after she had put on Annemarie’s flower-sprigged nightgown, which Mama had packed.

“Where is my necklace?” she asked. “What did you do with it?”

“I hid it in a safe place,” Annemarie told her. “A very secret place where no one will ever find it. And I will keep it there for you until it is safe for you to wear it again.”

Ellen nodded. “Papa gave it to me when I was very small,” she explained.

She sat down on the edge of the old bed and ran her fingers along the handmade quilt that covered it. The flowers and birds, faded now, had been stitched onto the quilt by Annemarie’s great-grandmother many years before.

“I wish I knew where my parents are,” Ellen said in a small voice as she outlined one of the appliqued birds with her finger.

Annemarie didn’t have an answer for her. She patted Ellen’s hand and they sat together silently.

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Ellen Rosen (speaker), Mrs. Johansen/Mama, Mr. Rosen
Related Symbols: Ellen’s Necklace
Page Number: 64-65
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

[Peter’s] eyes turned to the page he had opened at random, and he began to read in a strong voice.

O praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing psalms to our God!
How pleasant to praise him!
The Lord is rebuilding Jerusalem;
he gathers in the scattered sons of Israel.
It is he who heals the broken in spirit
and binds up their wounds,
he who numbers the stars one by one . . .

[…]

The words were unfamiliar to her, and she tried to listen, tried to understand, tried to forget the war and the Nazis, tried not to cry, tried to be brave. The night breeze moved the dark curtains at the open windows. Outside, she knew, the sky was speckled with stars. How could anyone number them one by one, as the psalm said? There were too many. The sky was too big.

Ellen had said that her mother was frightened of the ocean, that it was too cold and too big.

The sky was, too, thought Annemarie. The whole world was: too cold, too big. And too cruel.

Page Number: 86-87
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“The old man stumbled. But Peter helped him up. He didn’t seem to be hurt. Maybe just his pride,” she added, smiling a bit.

It was an odd word: pride. Annemarie looked at the Rosens, sitting there, wearing the misshapen, ill-fitting clothing, holding ragged blankets folded in their arms, their faces drawn and tired. She remembered the earlier, happier times: Mrs. Rosen, her hair neatly combed and covered, lighting the Sabbath candles, saying the ancient prayer. And Mr. Rosen, sitting in the big chair in their living room, studying his thick books, correcting papers, adjusting his glasses, looking up now and then to complain good-naturedly about the lack of decent light. She remembered Ellen in the school play, moving confidently across the stage, her gestures sure, her voice clear.

All of those things, those sources of pride—the candlesticks, the books, the daydreams of theater—had been left behind in Copenhagen. They had nothing with them now; there was only the clothing of unknown people for warmth, the food from Henrik’s farm for survival, and the dark path ahead, through the woods, to freedom.

[…]

But their shoulders were as straight as they had been in the past: in the classroom, on the stage, at the Sabbath table. So there were other sources, too, of pride, and they had not left everything behind.

Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

“Uncle Henrik,” [Annemarie] asked, “where are the Rosens and the others? I thought you were taking them to Sweden on your boat. But they weren’t there.”

“They were there,” he told her, leaning forward against the cow’s broad side. “You shouldn’t know this. You remember that I told you it was safer not to know.

“But,” he went on, as his hands moved with their sure and practiced motion, “I will tell you just a little, because you were so very brave.”

“Brave?” Annemarie asked, surprised. “No, I wasn’t. I was very frightened.”

“You risked your life.”

“But I didn’t even think about that! I was only thinking of—”

He interrupted her, smiling. “That’s all that brave means—not thinking about the dangers. Just thinking about what you must do. Of course you were frightened. I was too, today. But you kept your mind on what you had to do. So did I. Now let me tell you about the Rosens.”

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Uncle Henrik (speaker), Ellen Rosen, Mrs. Rosen, Mr. Rosen
Page Number: 122-23
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

[Annemarie] turned and went to her bedroom, where the blue trunk still stood in the corner, as it had all these years. Opening it, Annemarie saw that the yellow dress had begun to fade; it was discolored at the edges where it had lain so long in folds.

Carefully she spread open the skirt of the dress and found the place where Ellen’s necklace lay hidden in the pocket. The little Star of David still gleamed gold.

“Papa?” she said, returning to the balcony, where her father was standing with the others, watching the rejoicing crowd. She opened her hand and showed him the necklace. “Can you fix this? I have kept it all this long time. It was Ellen’s.”

Her father took it from her and examined the broken clasp. “Yes,” he said. “I can fix it. When the Rosens come home, you can give it back to Ellen.”

“Until then,” Annemarie told him, “I will wear it myself.”

Related Characters: Annemarie Johansen (speaker), Mr. Johansen/Papa (speaker), Ellen Rosen, Lise Johansen
Related Symbols: Ellen’s Necklace
Page Number: 131-132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Number the Stars PDF

Ellen Rosen Character Timeline in Number the Stars

The timeline below shows where the character Ellen Rosen appears in Number the Stars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Why Are You Running?
Sisterhood Theme Icon
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen wants to race her best friend Ellen Rosen home from school through the streets of their Copenhagen neighborhood, but Ellen wants to... (full context)
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As Annemarie and Ellen arrive at the corner, they run smack into two German soldiers who are stationed at... (full context)
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Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti arrive back at the apartment building where they all live. Ellen tells Annemarie... (full context)
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Ellen and Annemarie agree not to tell their mothers about the incident, for fear of upsetting... (full context)
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Hearing Kirsti’s story, Mrs. Rosen becomes frightened, and asks where Ellen is—Annemarie assures her that Ellen is safe downstairs. As Kirsti continues talking about the encounter,... (full context)
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Mrs. Rosen heads downstairs to talk to Ellen, urging Annemarie to walk to school a “different way” tomorrow—she says it’s important for the... (full context)
Chapter 3: Where Is Mrs. Hirsch?
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As the month of September passes by, Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti are careful to take the long way to school and back, avoiding the... (full context)
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...school—the shop is run by a woman named Mrs. Hirsch. When Annemarie and Kirsti—along with Ellen—stop by the shop, though, they find that it is closed. There is a padlock on... (full context)
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...nod solemnly and ask her to take special care in keeping an eye out for Ellen at school and helping her stay away from the soldiers on the street. Annemarie tells... (full context)
Chapter 4: It Will Be a Long Night
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Annemarie and Ellen sit on the floor of the Johansen apartment, playing with paper dolls. They act out... (full context)
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...own Tivoli gardens, where the girls take their dolls for a “party.” As Annemarie and Ellen reminisce about the fireworks they saw in Tivoli Gardens as children, Kirsti jumps in to... (full context)
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Now feeling sad, Annemarie says she doesn’t want to play anymore. Ellen says it’s okay—she has to go home anyway and help her mother with preparations for... (full context)
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...hurriedly with Mama. Mama comes back into the apartment and tells Annemarie and Kirsti that Ellen is going to come stay with them for a few days. Annemarie points out that... (full context)
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That night, as Ellen joins the Johansens at their table for dinner, the meal is a quiet and anxious... (full context)
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Annemarie’s parents tell her that Ellen’s parents have gone to hide with other friends, because to hide three people would be... (full context)
Chapter 5: Who is the Dark-Haired One?
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Annemarie and Ellen get ready for bed, and, as they do, Ellen expresses how nervous she is at... (full context)
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As the girls brush their hair, Ellen asks Annemarie how Lise died—she says that though she remembers the funeral, she never knew... (full context)
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...them from their sleep. Annemarie opens the door to see what’s happening while the terrified Ellen remains in bed. Out in the hall, Annemarie can see her Mama and Papa, holding... (full context)
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Annemarie quietly shuts the bedroom door and flies back to the bed, urging Ellen to take her necklace off. Ellen cannot undo the clasp, and so Annemarie grabs the... (full context)
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...the Nazis demand to know the girls’ names. Annemarie gives them her own name, while Ellen tells them her name is Lise Johansen. Mama, distraught, urges the officers to let the... (full context)
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...the apartment, taking his cronies with him. Annemarie relaxes her right hand—she has been clutching Ellen’s necklace inside it the whole time. As she opens her palm, she sees that she... (full context)
Chapter 6: Is the Weather Good for Fishing?
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...family. As the sky begins to lighten, Annemarie worries aloud about how tired she and Ellen will be in school after a sleepless night—but Papa suggests the girls stay home from... (full context)
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While Papa goes to the phone to call Uncle Henrik, Annemarie explains to Ellen that her uncle is a fisherman who lives out at the coast. He goes out... (full context)
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Annemarie, Ellen, Kirsti, and Mama make their way by train north along the Danish coast. The trip... (full context)
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...fresh seaside air, they feel relieved to be away from the soldiers—but still anxious. Mama, Ellen, Kirsti, and Annemarie begin the walk to Uncle Henrik’s house, and Mrs. Johansen remarks on... (full context)
Chapter 7: The House by the Sea
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As Ellen, Annemarie, and Mama approach Uncle Henrik’s house, Ellen is stunned by how beautiful the farmhouse... (full context)
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After dinner that evening, Ellen and Annemarie head up to the bedroom they’re sharing—the same bedroom that once belonged to... (full context)
Chapter 8: There Has Been a Death
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...milk the cows and head out on the boat. When she wakes in earnest, mid-morning, Ellen is still asleep, and Annemarie dresses quietly so as not to rouse her friend. Downstairs,... (full context)
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Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti play outside together all day long. They spend time petting the cow, Blossom,... (full context)
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...“preparations” for something, Annemarie grows curious about what’s happening. Henrik turns to Annemarie, Kirsti, and Ellen and tells him that there has been a death in the family. Great-aunt Birte, he... (full context)
Chapter 9: Why Are You Lying?
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...allow her to be brave, to think quickly on her feet, and to pretend that Ellen really was her sister. (full context)
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...reveals that there is no Great-aunt Brite—he and Mama have lied to Annemarie, Kirsti, and Ellen to “help [them] to be brave.” He tells Annemarie that for this reason, he’s not... (full context)
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...and set it in the middle of the living room. Kirsti is asleep upstairs, but Ellen and Annemarie sit up in the living room with Mama and Uncle Henrik. Ellen doesn’t... (full context)
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...so that the place is totally dark and opens the front door. He whispers for Ellen to come with him, and Mama urges Ellen to follow Henrik’s lead. The two go... (full context)
Chapter 10: Let Us Open the Casket
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...reunited, the atmosphere is still tense and anxious. Peter sits alone, deep in thought, while Ellen, sandwiched between her parents, holds their hands tightly but does not smile. Looking at Ellen,... (full context)
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...upstairs to bed. She climbs into a rocking chair and dozes, wanting to stay with Ellen, Peter, and the others. A short while later, Annemarie is pulled out of her dreams... (full context)
Chapter 11: Will We See You Again Soon, Peter?
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Annemarie and Ellen peer inside the casket together—there is no one in it, and instead it is stuffed... (full context)
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...heads out with the first group, and instructs Mrs. Johansen to set out with the Ellen and Mrs. Rosen and follow him after twenty minutes have passed so that there is... (full context)
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...jokes that perhaps his pride has taken a hit. As Annemarie looks at the frightened Ellen and Mrs. Rosen, huddled together on the sofa and bundled up in rags, she wonders... (full context)
Chapter 12: Where Was Mama?
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Mama prepares to set out in the dark with Ellen and Mrs. Rosen down the path to the docks. They cannot use any candles or... (full context)
Chapter 16: I Will Tell You Just a Little
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...cast. Little Kirsti, uninterested in the story about the cow, speaks up to ask when Ellen will be coming back. Mama tells her that Ellen has gone to be with her... (full context)
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...as the lesson begins, Annemarie’s mind is on other things. She asks Uncle Henrik where Ellen and the others are, and points out that earlier, she didn’t see where they were... (full context)
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...Resistance, chides herself for not having figured it out earlier. Uncle Henrik explains that though Ellen and the others had to be silent for many hours, they could hear Annemarie when... (full context)
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...rushed the packet to him, all might have been lost. Uncle Henrik assures her that Ellen and all of the others made it safely to Sweden—and will remain safe there—thanks to... (full context)
Chapter 17: All This Long Time
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...folds of the skirt, and finds the Star of David necklace she hid there for Ellen so long ago. Annemarie brings the necklace out to the balcony where she shows it... (full context)