After luncheon she took Cacilie into her bed-room and began to talk very seriously to her; but to her amazement the girl adopted a brazen attitude; she proposed to go about as she liked; and if she chose to walk with the Chinaman she could not see it was anybody's business but her own. The Frau Professor threatened to write to her uncle.
"Then Onkel Heinrich will put me in a family in Berlin for the winter, and that will be much nicer for me. And Herr Sung will come to Berlin too."
The Frau Professor began to cry. The tears rolled down her coarse, red, fat cheeks; and Cacilie laughed at her.
"That will mean three rooms empty all through the winter," she said.
Then the Frau Professor tried another plan. She appealed to Fraulein Cacilie's better nature: she was kind, sensible, tolerant; she treated her no longer as a child, but as a grown woman. She said that it wouldn't be so dreadful, but a Chinaman, with his yellow skin and flat nose, and his little pig's eyes! That's what made it so horrible. It filled one with disgust to think of it.
"Bitte, bitte," said Cacilie, with a rapid intake of the breath.
"I won't listen to anything against him."
"But it's not serious?" gasped Frau Erlin.
"I love him. I love him. I love him."
"Gott im Himmel!"
The Frau Professor stared at her with horrified surprise; she had thought it was no more than naughtiness on the child's part, and innocent, folly. but the passion in her voice revealed everything. Cacilie looked at her for a moment with flaming eyes, and then with a shrug of her shoulders went out of the room.
Frau Erlin kept the details of the interview to herself, and a day or two later altered the arrangement of the table. She asked Herr Sung if he would not come and sit at her end, and he with his unfailing politeness accepted with alacrity. Cacilie took the change indifferently. But as if the discovery that the relations between them were known to the whole household made them more shameless, they made no secret now of their walks together, and every afternoon quite openly set out to wander about the hills. It was plain that they did not care what was said of them. At last even the placidity of Professor Erlin was moved, and he insisted that his wife should speak to the Chinaman. She took him aside in his turn and expostulated; he was ruining the girl's reputation, he was doing harm to the house, he must see how wrong and wicked his conduct was; but she was met with smiling denials; Herr Sung did not know what she was talking about, he was not paying any attention to Fraulein Cacilie, he never walked with her; it was all untrue, every word of it.
"Ach, Herr Sung, how can you say such things? You've been seen again and again."
"No, you're mistaken. It's untrue."
He looked at her with an unceasing smile, which showed his even, little white teeth. He was quite calm. He denied everything. He denied with bland effrontery. At last the Frau Professor lost her temper and said the girl had confessed she loved him. He was not moved. He continued to smile.
"Nonsense! Nonsense! It's all untrue."
She could get nothing out of him. The weather grew very bad; there was snow and frost, and then a thaw with a long succession of cheerless days, on which walking was a poor amusement. One evening
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|