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In a German Pension


IN A GERMAN PENSION
KATHERINE MANSFIELD
Contents.
1. Germans at Meat.
2. The Baron.
3. The Sister of the Baroness.
4. Frau Fischer.
5. Frau Brechenmacher attends a Wedding.
6. The Modern Soul.
7. At Lehmann’s.
8. The Luft Bad.
9. A Birthday.
10. The Child-Who-Was-Tired.
11. The Advanced Lady.
12. The Swing of the Pendulum.
13. A Blaze.
1. GERMANS A T MEA T.
Bread soup was placed upon the table. ”Ah,” said the Herr Rat, leaning
upon the table as he peered into the tureen, ”that is what I need. My
’magen’ has not been in order for several days. Bread soup, and just the
right consistency. I am a good cook myself”–he turned to me.
”How interesting,” I said, attempting to infuse just the right amount of
enthusiasm into my voice.
”Oh yes–when one is not married it is necessary. As for me, I have had
all I wanted from women without marriage.” He tucked his napkin into his
collar and blew upon his soup as he spoke. ”Now at nine o’clock I make
myself an English breakfast, but not much. Four slices of bread, two eggs,
two slices of cold ham, one plate of soup, two cups of tea–that is nothing
to you.”
He assert ed the fact so vehemently that I had not the courage to refute it.
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All eyes were suddenly turned upon me. I felt I was bearing the burden of
the nation’s preposterous breakfast–I who drank a cup of coee while
buttoning my blouse in the morning.
”Nothing at all,” cried Herr Homann from Berlin. ”Ach, when I was in
England in the morning I used to eat.”
He turned up his eyes and his moustache, wiping the soup drippings from
his
coat and waistcoat.
”Do they really eat so much?” asked Fraulein Stiegelauer. ”Soup and
baker’s bread and pig’s flesh, and tea and coee and stewed fruit, and
honey and eggs, and cold fish and kidneys, and hot fish and liver? All the
ladies eat, too, especially the ladies.”
”Certainly. I myself have noticed it, when I was living in a hotel in
Leicester Square,” cried the Herr Rat. ”It was a good hotel, but they
could not make tea–now–”
”Ah, that’s one thing I CAN do,” said I, laughing brightly. ”I can make
very good tea. The great secret is to warm the teapot.”
”Warm the teapot,” interrupted the Herr Rat, pushing away his soup plate.
”What do you warm the teapot for? Ha! ha! that’s very good! One does not
eat the teapot, I suppose?”
He fixed his cold blue eyes upon me with an expression which suggested a
thousand premeditated invasions.
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