As I searched frantically, my eyes spied a couple of rope swings and I realized I could use them. Telling the little boy again to be brave and not to move, I ran over to them
Taking out the pocket knife I always carried and quickly cut them down with shaky hands. Tying them together using square knots, and making a big knot on one end, I ran back over to the edge of the lake, lying down and reaching as far as I could, I began to swing the rope in his direction.
Urging him to grab hold when it finally reached him (it took me several tries), I prayed for us both.
The kid looked slightly familiar to me. Where had I seen him before?
He finally took hold of the knot on the end of the rope and I began to slowly pull him across the cracking ice. I could see the crack spreading and feared even yet for the boy's life.
Just as he reached within three feet of the lake's edge, the ice finally gave way. I grabbed him just as he hit the water. I wasn't fast enough to keep him from landing in the water, but he didn't go under over his head. I knew, however, he was cold even from being out on the ice for so long. I had to get him to a warm place.
Looking up into my face with those big blue eyes of his, the boy whispered, "Thanks, mister. My Mom and Dad are gonna kill me, though."
Then, I swear, that boy fainted.
I ran, holding him close to me, all the way back toward the rooming house, and the boy's home. I had just remembered where I knew him from. This was the neighbor's kid!
Within seconds, the boy had roused in my arms. I prayed all the way to the boy's home. I asked him why he was out there. He told me he was afraid. His folks had been fighting and he ran out of the house to get away from it.
I told him that I was sure everything would likely be okay. Holding him close to me, I ran as quickly as I could up his walkway and banged on their door.
The door was flung open by his father, who, when he saw the small burden in my arms, looked perplexedly at the bundle in my arms.
"What are you doing with my son?" he demanded.
"Let me in! We need to get him to his mother so he can be changed into some warm clothes, then I need to talk to you."
I was not mincing my words, and spoke with authority, brooking no argument.
He backed up into the room, and yelled for his wife. She came in holding a cloth against her face, where apparently he had hit her. When she saw me holding her son, she threw the cloth aside and ran to get him.
(To be continued)