“It’s someone for you,” Anika’s mother called.
Anika looked up from her game of clock patience.
There was someone at the door for her?
Well, yes, she’d heard the doorbell ring. That was rare as well. What was the matter with people these days? No one was making visits any more. Everybody was just so serious all the time.
But it was for her? No, she must be dreaming.
“Well, come on then,” called her mother. “Aren’t you going to come and greet your guest?”
Curious, Anika wandered into the hall way.
It was Helga. Helga was standing there beaming at her.
“You will come and help, won’t you?” she asked. “The grown-ups haven’t got enough patience. We’re taking my cousins on a picnic. Not this Saturday. But the one after. Will you come?”
Anika didn’t know what to say. She really wasn’t sure she knew how to look after little children.
“Well, I don’t know … what would you want me to do?” she asked.
“Nothing much,” replied Helga. “Just help with a few games. And maybe make some sandwiches. Perhaps you could bake a cake.”
Not much then. But Helga looked so enthusiastic, Anika knew she couldn’t refuse.
“All right then,” she said slowly. “I’ll come.” She really wished, though, that Helga had never asked.
“Oh for goodness sake,” said Anika’s mother coming into the all. “Show your friend in properly. Go into the sitting room. Would you like some tea, Helga?”
“Oh yes please, Frau Müller,” said Helga.
“Anika, there are still some of those almond biscuits I made. Offer some to your guest.”
Minutes later, the two girls were in the sitting room. Anika found she quite liked being the hostess and pouring out tea, and offering her guest biscuits. But soon the gossip was just like the old days. Except that it was different, because they had so much to tell each other.
“At least you’re going to be doing something you enjoy,” said Anika with a sigh. “The Piloty school sounds as if it’s going to be so dull. Just hard work. No fun. I don’t think I like this idea of the three Cs.”
“Three Cs?” asked Helga.
“You know, children, cooking, church,” said Anika.
“Ah yes,” said Helga. “The good little German Hausfrau. I don’t mind the children, though.”
“That’s horrible,” said Helga. “The poor man.”
“I know,” said Anika. “I wonder who did it. And how could they?”
“I don’t know,” said Helga. “It’s really horrid.”
“I’m so angry with Fritz as well for finding it so … well, exciting,” said Anika.
[In between these two passages Anika’s brother Fritz comes home and reports that he and his Hitler Youth friends have found Herr Kohn’s body in the forest. He appears to have been shot. Later, they all realise that he has merely been knocked out and he may have done it himself by walking into a tree. He is old and somewhat demented. He is also Jewish. The characters in the story and the readers are left to come to their own conclusions.]
“I suppose at least it’s something for the letter,” said Helga. “I was getting worried I’d have nothing new to say.”
“Isn’t it about time we were getting another one?” asked Anika. “I hope it doesn’t all die a death. It’s a really good way of keeping in touch, now that we’re all over the place.”
“Yes, I suppose so,” said Helga. “And I am looking forward to seeing what Renate has to say. I wonder how she’s getting on in Stuttgart.”
“Yes, and I’m really looking forward to some more of her pictures,” said Anika. “It’s not like her to delay things though. Perhaps she’s just busy.”
“Aren’t we all?” replied Helga. “Even if we’re bored as well, sometimes.”
“You don’t sound as if you’re bored,” replied Anika. “You’re always doing things with your little cousins.”
“Yeah!” said Helga grinning.