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I am David - Ebook download as Word Doc .doc /.docx), PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. David lay quite still in the darkness, listening to the men's low muttering. tomorrow, and whatever my successor may decide to do about you, I shan't be able to. Dive In! The page numbers supplied refer to I Am David by Anne Holm,. Egmont Books (ISBN ). 5. I Am David, page 1– 5.
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David was a strong, brave and intelligent boy who had been ripped away from his mother and put into a dreadful camp. His only friend in the camp, Johannes, died some time before from a heart attack, as is revealed in a flashback in Chapter 1.
One of the commandants has been keeping an eye on David, making sure he is fed properly and taking his vitamins. This guard sets up the escape, gives him some soap, and leaves a sack outside the camp fence with bread, a bottle of water, and a compass in it. David must go south to Salonika , find a boat to Italy , then travel north to a free country that has a king.
David finds a truck headed for Salonika, and without realizing it, climbs on board. He eats some of the food inside and when the truck stops, he jumps out. He finds a boat labeled "Italy" and sneaks in. After hiding for a few days and getting quite drunk accidentally , he is found. Thankfully, the Italian sailor decides to help David escape by lowering him down the side of the ship with a lifebelt on. He floats to land and, after climbing for a little ways, promptly falls asleep.
After having a bath, David finds a cave to spend the day in. Then he decides to go to the town nearby to learn about life outside of a prison camp. He is given, much to his surprise, a loaf of bread. David, not sure that the man can be trusted, nevertheless takes him at his word, and as a result gets away from the concentration camp and starts on his long journey. Along the way, he is helped by several friendly travelers, and by what he believes to be the spirit of his friend Johannes, who guided him through the early years of his life in the camp.
Narration reveals that after Johannes died, David resolved never to care for anyone again. Traveling by night and resting by day, David finds his way to a small town in Italy, where he finds himself a hiding place that quickly becomes a sort of temporary home. During his investigations of the town, he finds himself drawn to the church, which inspires him with its beauty but which he is afraid to enter.
He is also inspired to pray for the first time in his life. One night, however, he overhears some of the people of the town talking about him and, fearful that they will turn him over to "them" the Nazis who ran the concentration camp David flees.
And again the next evening, and the next He had hit upon a good story. During his second evening he had read something on a wall about a circus. He understood it was a kind of theatre that travelled about: He went down to the town again during the evening. He was gradually getting to know it inside out -the narrow crooked streets, the open space down by the sea-front, the square where the church stood.
He always went there last of all so that on the way back to the rock he would have fresh in mind the beautiful wall with its patterns of many-coloured stone. He had not summoned up enough courage to enter the church although he would have dearly loved to see what it looked like inside. David would sometimes stand in the shadows outside a shop and listen to the conversation within. It was easy enough for they always talked very loudly with frequent bursts of laughter.
In that way he learnt what many things were used for, things that were strange to him but seemed to be taken for granted by the people round him. He had not yet heard anyone talk about them: He always walked on if anyone looked at him, but he sometimes came very near to forgetting his fears, and he quite openly filled his bottle at the pump down by the seafront and accepted several loaves from the man who made them.
At first he would stand for a long time hidden in the shadows outside the shop listening to the baker's conversation with his customers -- but it was never about them, and he never asked David any questions except whether he were hungry, and then he would give him a loaf and a friendly smile.
And so it was almost out of habit that David now hid in the dark outside and listened. That evening the man was talking of someone called Guglio and the good catch he had had. For a moment David's heart stood still with fear Then he realized they were talking, not of people, but of fish caught at sea. He stood there a little longer, in his relief forgetting to listen.
Then he suddenly heard the man say, "Who's that boy that comes here every evening for a loaf? Do you know? David pressed himself flat against the wall and stood there as if glued to the spot. Another man was speaking now, one who spoke differently from the rest, more after David's own fashion, "I've seen a strange boy every evening this week: I assumed he'd come over for the harvest. Signor Missiani takes on a number of casual workers about this time. Then a woman said something.
Thrse would have told me. I've seen the boy, too. It must be the same one. He doesn't look like the others and he always moves off when you look at him. He's got very strange-looking eyes Does he look as if he's up to mischief? If you smile at him, he doesn't smile back; he doesn't run off, either; he just turns and walks away. And his eyes Perhaps we should get hold of him and ask him where he comes from.
David heard no more. With no more sound than a puff of wind he was down the street and inside the first open door -- through a long dark passage and out again in another street. Never before had he found it so difficult to walk along calmly as if he felt no fear. He increased his speed, out of the town, out to the rocks -- he must get away at once before they began looking for him. They might be sending for them already David waited a long, long time, hiding by the side of the road, before he ventured scrambling down to his hiding-place.
The last two evenings he had left his bundle there, and now he must take it with him. But first he had to make sure no one was following. When he reached the safety of the rocks, he lay down, but not to sleep, only because his legs felt as if they would not bear his weight any longer. As he lay there, he could see the lights from the town below. They looked beautiful in the dark.
But he had been right when he sensed there was danger there: The thought filled him with despair. He had begun to feel that it was his town, that the rock belonged to him. He knew every little irregularity in its surface, and every morning when he undid his bundle, he would arrange his things in the same way.
The little stream higher up across the road had been his alone, and every morning he had found an orange. All the beauty of the place had been his: Before he had come to the town he had known about nothing but death: David cried -- but not for long. He sat up and looked once more at the lights of the town. He had also learnt to think again without being afraid of doing it.
And he could go on thinking; he was still free, and if he thought about everything carefully, as clearly and sensibly as he could, and remembered all he had learnt in this place, then freedom might be his for a long time yet. He had been right in supposing that they were everywhere, even where he was now.
But he had also found it true that some people were good and kind. And if they no longer dared to pretend that they had not seen him about, then it was his own fault for staying there too long. But he must never stay in one place more than one evening. He must continue to avoid people as much as possible, and he must remember not to look at them. David wished he knew what was so strange about his eyes. What did they mean when they said they were quiet?
Perhaps one day he would come across a mirror and find out what he looked like. David sighed a little. A boy could not very well disguise himself. Grown men could grow beards or shave them off; and if you had money, you could change your clothes, or wear glasses, or dye your hair. But when you were a boy with neither beard nor money, it was no good thinking about disguising yourself. David packed everything except his compass into his bundle and stood up. When he had crossed over the plank he drew it after him and carried it right up to the roadway so that no one would see where he had been living.
He stood still for a moment and looked down at the lights of the town. Tired out and scratched to pieces, David was glad when it began to grow light. He was no longer used to travelling at night-time and decided that as soon as he had got far enough away he would travel during the day instead. Travelling by night was too exhausting in a terrain where at every step you might run into something or trip over it -- plants, tree-roots, an unexpected slope or a hole in the ground.
He had noticed, too, that as long as people were not able to take a good look at him they paid him little enough attention -- he was just a boy passing by. There must be lots of boys in the world. The many things he must have failed to notice in the town continued to fret him. There might have been boys there, too, but he had been so busy learning about what was in the shops, listening to what people talked about and reading notices that he had not been aware of them. He could read anything now, as long as it was in print, and that was a great advantage.
He waited till it was light enough to see whether there were houses nearby and then found a good clump of bushes to sleep in. When he woke he had a shock. It was still daylight, and as he sat up he found himself looking straight out to sea! He looked anxiously at his compass. Perhaps it had broken? But the needle moved as it should. For a moment he thought he had lost his way in the dark and had wandered round in a circle till he was back again in the neighbourhood of the town.
Then another thought occurred to him: Yes, that was it! David rose quickly to his feet and made his way down towards the shore until he could see along the coast.
Then he found he had been right. The point where land and sea and sky faded into one another, blurred into the same shade of blue, now lay in the opposite direction -- on his right as he stood facing the sea, instead of on his left as it had done from his rock. But what now? He must go northwards: For the first time since he had arrived in Italy, David could think about the man calmly and dispassionately. He had told him to go. But why should he do what the man told him?
Was not he David, his own master, who decided for himself? In the camp, of course, you had to obey the man. He was the commandant, and it had never occurred to David not to obey him. He had seen only too often what happened if you failed to obey even an ordinary guard. But now there was no longer any reason to obey him. Or was there? The bundle had lain under the tree, and when he had gone south he had come to Salonica. And there had been a ship sailing for Italy. He had not yet discovered any trap the man had set for him -- but perhaps there was one in that country called Denmark.
It was all very puzzling and David could find no answer. On this side of the peninsula, too, the road wound along on a kind of shelf above the sea. David crossed it, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground -- he might find an orange, and he had not much food left.
He did find one -- he found a tree covered in them! He had not realized that they grew on trees. There was not much traffic up on the road, only an occasional car passing by, and the lowest branches of the tree were within reach and easy to climb. David picked two oranges so as to have one in reserve.
Then he found a comfortable place to sit on a flat rock and settled down to his breakfast. A little bit of bread, water -- fresh and clear, not muddy and tasteless like the water in the camp -- and then an orange to finish with. But he had better be on his way; if they had begun to search for him he must get away quickly.
He stood up and as he stumbled over a loose stone his compass went flying over the edge of the rock where he had been sitting. Before he could put his hand out to catch it it was too late.
All he could do was to follow it with his eyes until it disappeared into the sea so far below that he could not even hear the plop. The sea was very deep under the rocks, and David knew he would never find it again.
He sat for a long time staring at the place where it had disappeared. He was lost now. Now he would go round in circles and keep coming back to the same place. And they would find him. He did not know why. It was what the men sometimes said in the camp when they were most in despair. But as for himself, he had no God. Then David decided that he must have a god: But which God should he choose?
It was important to find the right one. If only he had listened more carefully to what the men had talked about in the camp! He had been interested only in learning new words. If he had asked more questions, he would have learnt a lot more.
What gods did he know of? The one the Jews had made so many demands to in return for his help? And what had David to give? And if you were not a Jew, perhaps you had no right to choose him. The God of the Catholics seemed to leave things to a woman called Mary.
Not that David had anything against women, but as he knew so little about them it might be better to choose one who looked after things himself. Johannes should have taught him something about God. Instead, he had only told him about a man, also called David, who had lived a long time ago.
David dug into his memory: Was not there something about a god, too, in that story about David? Something in rather difficult words -- he had always liked new words that were long and strange: Suddenly it came back to him.
That other David had said of his God, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters. Clutching his orange tightly, he first looked round to make sure there was no one who could overhear him, and then said in a low voice, "God of the green pastures and the still waters, I am David and I choose you as my God!
But you must please understand that I can't do anything for you, because I've always been in a wicked place where no one could think or learn or get to know anything, and I know nothing about what people ought to do for their God.
But the David Johannes used to talk about knew that even if he couldn't see you, you were there and were stronger than any men. I pray you will help me so that they won't catch me again. Then perhaps I can gradually find out about you so that I can do something in return. And if you know where Johannes is now, will you please thank him for me for going with me to Salonica, and tell him that now I'm free I can think about him again.
I am David. Perhaps it was a mistake to say "amen" because that was what Catholics did, but David knew it was a holy word, and if you did not have an ending God would not know when you had finished your prayer. He felt a sense of relief and added strength just as he had the morning he had determined to go on living. He was glad he had thought of it: During the course of the evening he had almost reached the point where the coastline bore to the left, and from the position of the sun he could see that if he continued in the same direction he would be going roughly north-west.
Every evening, and every morning, too, when he woke up, he would be able to tell by the sun which way he was going: It had been a good day.
Everywhere had been beautiful, and in a little town he had found one of those water-taps that people drank from. Perhaps there was one in every town. And he had not met them anywhere. There had not been any cars of the sort they rode in either, and David once again felt sure that he would pull through and might remain free for a long time yet. Bread was his chief problem.
There was so much to eat in Italy that people would leave food lying about without realizing it -- an orange or a tomato -- but never bread, and bread you had to have if you were not to starve.
David sat down by the roadside. People often did that, so he felt free to do so, too. After a while he took the precaution of lying flat on his stomach and facing the road, making sure he could quickly duck out of sight if anything came along.
He lay thinking about various things. During the course of that day he had discovered that unless a town were very small its name appeared on a notice some distance ahead, and if there were only one figure after the name then the town was not very far off. The figure, he thought, perhaps meant how many kilometres you had to go. He thought, too, that if he did not find any bread the next day, he would have to ask God for some. Meanwhile dusk was falling rapidly, and a car suddenly pulled up within a few yards of where he lay.
David ducked. A man got out of the car and began rummaging in the boot. David raised his head -- he was quite an ordinary man, not one of them. The man made a sudden movement and David heard him mutter, "Blast, my spectacles! He spoke in English, not Italian. As he watched him groping about in the half-light along the edge of the road, David rose to his feet.
When people wore spectacles, they could not see anything without them. The man straightened, bent towards him and peered into his face. David cast his eyes down, drew back slightly and wished he had thought first. But the man smiled and said, "Thank you very much! It's not much good looking for glasses when you haven't got them on, is it? The man had stepped over to the car and was talking to someone inside as David stood by with the glasses in his hand.
Was he one of them after all? Could he escape? How far could he get? It was only a second before the stranger turned round and said, "Can't you find them? If you can't, my wife will drive David stepped slowly forward.
He had quite a different look about him: David could not imagine him striking or shooting anyone. He now felt in his pocket, took something out and offered it to David. A coin lay in his hand. The stranger looked a little disconcerted, then he smiled and said in that case David must accept his thanks and asked if he would like to say, "How do you do? David did not really want to, but as he did not know how to say so, he went with him to the car.
A woman sat inside: So David said good evening to her. Then the man spoke to her in French. He asked her if she had ever before come across a little Italian tramp who spoke English with an Oxford accent and was offended when he was offered money.
David was just about to say that he had not been offended, when he decided not to. Since they already thought it strange that he spoke English, it was better not to let them see that he understood French as well.
They asked him what he was called and who he was. David replied that his name was David and he was on his way to join a circus farther north. Fortunately they did not seem very interested, and apparently taking a hint from the brevity of his answer they questioned him no more.
Instead they told him they came from England, were on holiday and would shortly have to return.
Then the woman suggested they. These turned out to be food -- slices of bread with something between them. They asked David if he would like one, and he said, "Yes, please. They seemed pleased when David accepted their offer, and David thought they might be willing to answer a question if he put one to them. The man told him that at the moment there was a queen because the last king had had no sons, only daughters.
She was a good queen, he said, and beautiful, too, and she had a very fine golden crown. David looked at him in surprise. What did it matter what she had? All that really mattered was that the people of England were free, as people always were in those countries that had kings -- or, of course, queens.
The woman leaned over towards him. David, I would like to see you smile. David felt awkward: But he had nothing to give. I'm sorry: I don't know how to do it. In a low voice the woman said rapidly in French, "Donald, we can't let him go like that.
He's about the same age as our own boys. He might be English. You can see he's not an ordinary little tramp. Those eyes The man laid his hand on hers and broke in. We can't get mixed up in it, Alice, and I'm sure he's not English. Almost before he had finished speaking, David answered quickly, "No, sir. There was a man in the I didn't take your food before you said I could. There isn't. Thank you. Then off he ran before they could stop him again.
He ran back along the road, and before he reached the first bend he lay down in the ditch and looked back at the car. It stayed there a long time before it drove off. David began to clamber slowly down the slope towards the sea to find himself a place to sleep in for the night. He was thinking about the strangers -- English people from a free country. She seemed to think she ought to keep him there.
David could not understand it She was only there on holiday, and perhaps she had no idea how different things were in other countries. The thought was comforting: But if she were ignorant of the situation, then there was nothing sinister in what she had done. Only he must take more care and remember not to look at people long enough for them to notice his eyes. It would be helpful to find a mirror -- if he knew what was wrong with his eyes he might be able to do something about it.
And he would have to learn to smile: If you could smile back every time people smiled at you, perhaps they would take less notice of you. David was just on the point of falling asleep when what seemed a very important idea struck him. The Englishman had wanted to give him money! He had refused it, to be sure, but only because he had had such a It had felt almost like possessing something, something so big that he could give some of it away.
If he had taken the money, it would not have felt the same. But in future he might be able to find things to do that he could get money for: He would not be able to avoid people, of course, but if only he could get.
And manage he did during the following weeks. Only two days later, in a town called Naples, he found a mirror. A woman walking along the street dropped it.
A corner broke off, and she pulled a face and left it there. David waited till she was out of sight and then picked it up: Clutching it in his hand, he walked on till he came to a place where there were trees and dried grass right in the middle of the town.
There was a seat, and there David sat down and held up the mirror. At first his hand shook so much he could not see properly, but very soon a face appeared clearly in the mirror -- his own! It did not look ugly.
No, he honestly could not see what would be wrong with it. It was thin, but so were many people's faces. The colour of his hair perhaps was not quite right: He held the mirror close to his face to take a good look at his eyes.
Johannes had had blue eyes. Here in Italy they all had dark brown or black eyes. But you could have other colours. David strove to recall what the eyes of the men in the camp had looked like, but all he could remember clearly was that they were dull, whereas his own now looked as bright as eyes should do. Was there something wrong with dark grey eyes? Perhaps there was a touch of green in them if you looked carefully. He still could not understand in what way they were strange, so he dismissed the thought.
He would just have to turn away when anyone looked at him for any length of time. Many times a day during the days that followed he took out his mirror and practised smiling, but he could not get it right: He continued as far as he could to go northwards. Not that he wanted to do as the man had told him, but he obviously had to go somewhere, and that was the direction the English people had taken.
Without being fully aware of it, David had some idea at the back of his mind that he might perhaps go to England. During his first days of freedom he had had but one thought from morning to night: And as he opened his eyes in the morning to the warmth of the sun, he would sometimes feel sure that he would reach a country where he could live in safety.
The idea of earning some money had bee a good one. He had earned no money in Naples, but he had fetched coffee for people who sat eating in a restaurant and the waiter had given him a loaf of bread for his pains. And in a small town farther north he had been given money by some strangers who were afraid of having their luggage stolen from the car while they went into the church.
He realized afterwards that he did not know what he would have done if anyone had attempted to take the bags, but fortunately nobody had tried and he had been given so much money that he was able to download enough bread for two days. David's chief difficulty was that people asked so many questions, but as he gained in experience from all he saw about him, he was gradually able to improve upon his story of the circus.
The Italians did not ask so many questions, but it was easier to earn money from the tourists who were on holiday from other countries, so David embroidered his tale until he thought it sounded absolutely genuine. When he was asked where he was going to rejoin the circus, he would invent a name so that however suspicious his questioners might be afterwards they would not be able to trace him.
The sun continued to shine with a pleasant warmth day by day, but it was now beginning to grow cold at night time. David was quite determined, however, never to enter a house. Houses were dangerous places: Every time he came to a town, he would walk round till he found the church. He promised himself that if he were not caught and came to a country where he could live in security, he would go inside one and see what it looked like.
Not that he really expected that he would be able to preserve his freedom long enough for that: But sometimes when he had had enough to eat and found a comfortable place to sleep in and sat gazing at the hills and valleys and the sun shining on the distant mountains, he could not help feeling that perhaps he might be lucky. It was now a long time since he had seen the sea, but there did not seem to be one dull or ugly place in the whole of Italy. All his life David had seen nothing but the same ugly, flat, grey scene, and now he never grew tired of tramping through the ever-changing countryside.
Every time he came to a bend in the road he was afraid the beauty would disappear, but each time a new beauty was revealed in the green and undulating hills and valleys.
David had now learned what some of the trees were called. There were olives with their gnarled trunks and pale grey-green leaves whispering and quivering in the lightest breeze as if they were alive, and there were cypresses, tall and slender, pointing straight up into the sky. Best of all were those places where a river flowed through the valley. There he could sit for hours on end wondering where the river came from and where it ran to. There, too, he could wash.
His piece of soap had grown quite small now, although he did not use it every day. He dared not wash in the towns when he filled his water-bottle at the pump, for he had never seen. It was Sunday today, the day the people were most full of laughter but the shops shut. But that did not matter today since David had not earned any money for two days and could not have bought bread anyway. He had found a bunch of grapes, however, and he was used to doing with very little food.
It would soon be evening, and he was sitting by the roadside thinking over a plan he had had in mind since the day before. He could not make up his mind whether he dared try it. The day before he had seen a man walking along the road and when a car came along he had held up his hand and stopped it.
The driver had put his head out and asked if the other wanted a lift, and the man who had been walking said yes please he did. But you had to say where you were going -- and suppose the driver became suspicious? If he did you were caught: David trembled at the thought but still could not quite give up the idea. A car travelled at an immense speed, and if he kept going in the same direction he must at some point leave Italy behind.
It was very beautiful there, but as the days went by David seemed to prize his freedom more and more. When he had first arrived and was living on the rocks by the sea, his freedom had not meant so much to him since he had not expected it to last above a day or two.
But now he could no longer think of giving it up. David wondered whether it were always like that -- whether when you had something you not only wanted to keep it, but wanted something else as well It seemed greedy, but he could not help it.
Freedom and a country where he could live in safety: David wanted both. Johannes said greedy people can never be happy, and I would so much like to know what it feels like to be happy.
Johannes said that when you very much want something you haven't got, you no longer care for what you have got. I'm not sure that I understand, but I suppose he meant that things are only worth having if you think they are. David tried to forget that he also wanted a new piece of soap. If he could preserve his freedom and reach a free country, he must be satisfied with that. And if he could bring himself to ask for a lift, he would get to another country all the more quickly.
If only he could find out the whereabouts of those other countries! He dared not ask anyone, for if you said you belonged to a circus then you would be expected to know your way about. David's thoughts were disturbed by the sound of a car.