On the next day, the interview with Wilhelm picked up again.
“Yesterday you said that a Mr. Schmidt had recognized your princess.”
Wilhelm nodded. “He even came to me on the same evening and said I should watch out because she was dangerous.” He fell silent.
“Did you believe him?”
“No, ever since the whole village had seen my forest princess, they had all been advising us to send her to the asylum, but she wasn’t dangerous.”
“She bit you, Wilhelm!”
“Animals do that when they’re scared.”
“She was scared?”
“Yes, of many things. Fire, for example, and my grandfather. She hissed at him like a wildcat whenever she saw him and hid behind me until he left.”
“Interesting. But she wasn’t scared of you.”
A smile came to Wilhelm’s face. “No. She loved me.”
He nodded. “After this Mr. Schmidt had come to me, she told me so. He thought she was dangerous. ‘No!’ she shouted. ‘No!’ She recognized him and was so scared that she hid behind me shaking. I asked him to leave. ‘My forest princess is harmless,’ I said. Then he left, and she calmed down somewhat.”
“Didn’t she want to go back to her own family?”
“No.” He smiled slightly. “Then she looked me straight in the eyes and said in her high bird’s voice, ‘I love you. You’.”
“Did she really know what love was?”
“Yes. She had observed the love between my own parents. She had heard them talking with each other. ‘I love you,’ and ‘My darling.’ She found it fascinating.”
“But animals can’t understand love.”
“Au contraire. It’s been seen among apes and certain types of birds. My forest princess loved me! You don’t know what a wonderful feeling that is! Somewhat numbing yet thrilling. I couldn’t say a single word, but she could already read the answer in my eyes. Many animals speak with their eyes, you know.”
Wilhelm’s eyes had become glassy. Suddenly he said nothing.
“Fever. I’ll call for Steffi.”