The next day, Steffi was there instead of Wilhelm.
“He’s still sleeping,” she said.
“That’s to be expected. I need other viewpoints of the story anyway. Erika had told Wilhelm that she loved him.”
Steffi laughed. “That was embarrassing, especially what she did later. She always went outside early in the morning and climbed up to the top of our apple trees and cherry trees. Afterwards her dress was always dirty and sometimes torn. That was embarrassing when we had guests. She came like that into the living room when Stella was at our house for the last time. Her dress had been stained from the cherries, and her hair was a mess.”
“What did Stella do?”
“Nothing. She ignored Erika and tried to draw Wilhelm into conversation, but he had eyes only for Erika. And then…” Steffi reddened and laughed simultaneously.
“Erika gave Stella a mean look, almost like a wild boar about to charge.”
“Did she attack Stella?”
“No. She walked over to Wilhelm and kissed him—and Stella was sitting right next to him!”
Steffi nodded. “We all turned red, especially Mama.”
Helmut Schneider had to laugh as well. “So Erika was territorial,” he said. “What did Wilhelm do?”
“His face looked at first peculiar but at the same time overjoyed, and he kissed her back. My mother got upset. ‘Wilhelm, what are you doing? Have you gone crazy!’ But Stella said nothing and left.”
“You don’t seem too upset over her absence.”
“No. I always found her shallow. Since then I’ve not seen her but I heard she got married shortly thereafter.”
“Wilhelm doesn’t seem upset either.”
“It was an arranged marriage.”
“Ah, I understand.”
The clock struck ten.
“I’ll just check in on Wilhelm.”