That was Herr Langen's cue. "Nature has no heart," said he, very bitterly and readily, as people do who are over-philosophised and underfed. "She creates that she may destroy. She eats that she may spew up and she spews up that she may eat. That is why we, who are forced to eke out an existence at her trampling feet, consider the world mad, and realise the deadly vulgarity of production."
"Young man," interrupted Herr Erchardt, "you have never lived and you have never suffered!"
"Oh, excuse me--how can you know?"
"I know because you have told me, and there's an end of it. Come back to this bench in ten years' time and repeat those words to me," said Frau Kellermann, with an eye upon Fritz, who was engaged in counting Elsa's fingers with passionate fervour--"and bring with you your young wife, Herr Langen, and watch, perhaps, your little child playing with--" She turned towards Karl, who had rooted an old illustrated paper out of the receptacle and was spelling over an advertisement for the enlargement of Beautiful Breasts.
The sentence remained unfinished. We decided to move on. As we plunged more deeply into the wood our spirits rose--reaching a point where they burst into song--on the part of the three men--"O Welt, wie bist du wunderbar!"--the lower part of which was piercingly sustained by Herr Langen, who attempted quite unsuccessfully to infuse satire into it in accordance with his--"world outlook". They strode ahead and left us to trail after them--hot and happy.
"Now is the opportunity," said Frau Kellermann. "Dear Frau Professor, do tell us a little about your book."
"Ach, how did you know I was writing one?" she cried playfully.
"Elsa, here, had it from Lisa. And never before have I personally known a woman who was writing a book. How do you manage to find enough to write down?"