Marianne asked her, “How did you manage to come over?”
Unconsciously, Miriam replied in her native tongue, “I met Mrs. Smedley in Berlin in 1936. She was on holiday with her husband, for the Olympic Games. I was eighteen. She asked me for directions to her hotel. I walked with her, then she invited me in. I explained it was not allowed because I was Jewish. She took my arm and said, ‘I am an English tourist; no one will stop me.’ So brave! We had coffee in her suite. She told me if I ever wanted to go to England, if things got worse, to write to her. When my father’s business was taken away, and I lost my job as his bookkeeper, my mother told me I should write to Mrs. Smedley. It was an opportunity. I did, and she sponsored me. She is very kind. I make mistakes, but she makes allowances for me. My friend Hannah lives in London too, but she lives in one little room. When she wants a bath, she must pay sixpence for the hot water.” Miriam poured more coffee. “She works in a household where they are mean to her. I think she is often hungry.”
“Why don't the Jews in England do more to help” Marianne burst out in German. “Sorry, Bridget, just this one question.”
Miriam said, “They help all they can, but there are so many of us trying to get out of Europe. Mrs. Smedley says in England less than one percent of the population is Jewish. A few are rich, but most are like us – poor, or immigrants, trying to bring their relatives to England. I’ll keep this paper, Marianne. I might hear of a place for your mother.”
Excerpted from Remember Me by Irene N.Watts. Copyright © 2000 by Irene N.Watts. Published by Tundra Books. All rights reserved.. Excerpted by permission of Tundra Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.