Chapter 52 continues

The story so far: Katka and Lily settle in at home and await word on their men.


When Lily finally went to bed, it was past midnight. It was quiet. Now would be the best time to go. If she waited until tomorrow, when it was light, she could be discovered. She put on a light coat and stockings to combat the mosquitoes and slipped out the kitchen pantry door. She grabbed a lantern, but did not light it. She waited for a moment until her eyes grew accustomed to the dark and then began walking, past the barn, past the sauna, down the trail to the fields. She walked about a mile until she came to the place where the underground field bunker was hidden, moving away the brush and opening the trap door. She slipped down the ladder into the familiar space. This was where she had first become a Wobbly.

She lit her lantern and did as Paul had instructed. There were crates lined up on the walls, covered with wool blankets. She removed the blankets until she found the large crate stamped “Peterson’s dry goods.” With a great deal of effort, she managed to get it down to the floor. When she opened it, she saw that inside the crate was her old trunk, the one she had brought from Slovenia. It looked just as she remembered. The lid compartment had a hatbox, a shirt compartment, a coin box and a document box. The body of the trunk, where she had stored her typewriter, looked empty.

She reached her hand inside and felt along the left side. One slat of wood was slightly rougher than the others. She pushed on the slat, just as Paul had told her to do. When she did, it gave way, revealing a secret compartment.

Inside were two small books. On the cover of each was written “Passport of Russia” in Russian. She opened the first one. The surname was listed as Paul Ivanski. On the bottom right was a photograph of Paul taken on the ship. Under “comment” it listed his status as “married.” She quickly looked at the second passport. In the bottom right hand corner was the photo of her taken on the ship. She looked younger and thinner. Although she was not smiling, her eyes were happy. The name on the passport was Katka Ivanski, married to Paul Ivanski. She put the two booklets in her corset, replaced the crate, climbed up the ladder and walked slowly back to the big house. Katka Ivanski. That would take some getting used to.

The next morning was Sunday. News traveled quickly. Soon, most of Biwabik had heard about Lily’s release. Before 10 a.m., the house was full. Women came hauling baskets of bread and eggs to welcome her home. Men came too. They mostly spoke to Old Joe, who recounted all he had witnessed the day before in Duluth. Adeline Sherek came too. She embraced Lily long and hard. They had shared a cell for those first few weeks and cemented a bond. “I know you don’t want visitors,” Adeline whispered to Lily, looking around at the full house. “I didn’t either. But it won’t last. And it’s important for them to see you home and free. It gives them hope. And a year is not so long as it sounds. Anton will be home before you know it.”

Before leaving, Adeline gestured to Katka. “Walk with me?” When they were out of view, Adeline stopped. “I’ve heard from some people. I’ll sum up. It sounds as if they plan to honor the deal struck. But Johan Koski told me to tell you that Tresca, Scarlett and your Paul are in great danger. It is important that they get out of town as soon as they are released. They should not return here. I don’t know if Elizabeth understands this. You have got to get those men out of Duluth as soon as possible. There’s a price on their heads. I’ve collected some money for you. It was hard to come by. And if you can, don’t bring Lily to the sentencing. She’s seen enough.” With that, Adeline left.


Tomorrow: Chapter 52 continues.