“I wanted to study her. My forest princess was so enticing. I flipped through all my books, but she wasn’t there. I can’t draw very well, but I tried it anyway. This is how she looked when I saw her the third time.” Wilhelm handed the picture to his uncle.
The older man looked at it for some time. “Blonde hair, dirt-colored dress, leaves in her hair…”
“And the free smile on her face while she ate,” Wilhelm added.
His uncle handed the drawing back. “Did she climb up the tree?”
“Yes. She was sitting at the top of the apple tree while I snuck through the tall grass. I couldn’t tell you how many apples she ate. In June the apples aren’t fully ripe, but she ate them anyway. The sun was particularly hot that day.”
“And you always get sunburned so easily.”
Wilhelm nodded. “But for her, I’d do it all over again. I had almost finished sketching her when I noticed that she was no longer up in the tree. I panicked and stood up to look for her. Suddenly, I was pinned to the ground. Just like a wolf, she had attacked me. She had come towards me quietly, just like Steffi’s kitten. I lay there frozen like a rabbit in fear… no, frozen in awe. She had come to me this time, and of her own free will!”
“You’re crazy, Wilhelm. She attacked you. You make it sound like she kissed you.”
Wilhelm reddened. “No, not this time.”
“But she did later?”
“Yes.” The red color remained for a while in his otherwise pale face. “And then she bit me.” He proudly stretched his arm out. On the upper part of it were two small tooth-shaped rows.
“Impressive. She appears to be very strong.”
“And then I touched her arm and said, ‘I’m a friend. Friend.’ She stared at me. For two minutes we sat there together. The words appeared to have an effect on her. I repeated them. ‘Friend?’ she said in her high bird’s voice. ‘Friend?’ She had a peculiar accent, as if she hadn’t spoken a word in years.”
The scratching noise of a pen against paper broke through Wilhelm’s words.
“And then she left without another word. I sat there and stared after her. She reminded me of the wild lions in Africa. They also walk so softly and noiselessly.” He held a hand to his feverish forehead. “It was so hot outside that day.”
“Rest now. We’ll continue tomorrow.”