"The doctor, sir?" The servant girl whipped a spoon out of a pan, and spilt two drops of grease on the stove. "Shall I fry something extra?" But the master had gone, slamming the door after him. He walked down the street--there was nobody about at all--dead and alive this place on a Sunday morning. As he crossed the suspension bridge a strong stench of fennel and decayed refuse streamed from the gulley, and again Andreas began concocting a letter. He turned into the main road. The shutters were still up before the shops. Scraps of newspaper, hay, and fruit skins strewed the pavement; the gutters were choked with the leavings of Saturday night. Two dogs sprawled in the middle of the road, scuffling and biting. Only the public-house at the corner was open; a young barman slopped water over the doorstep.
Fastidiously, his lips curling, Andreas picked his way through the water. "Extraordinary how I am noticing things this morning. It's partly the effect of Sunday. I loathe a Sunday when Anna's tied by the leg and the children are away. On Sunday a man has the right to expect his family. Everything here's filthy, the whole place might be down with the plague, and will be, too, if this street's not swept away. I'd like to have a hand on the government ropes." He braced his shoulders. "Now for this doctor."
"Doctor Erb is at breakfast," the maid informed him. She showed him into the waiting-room, a dark and musty place, with some ferns under a glass-case by the window. "He says he won't be a minute, please, sir, and there is a paper on the table."
"Unhealthy hole," thought Binzer, walking over to the window and drumming his fingers on the glass fern-shade. "At breakfast, is he? That's the mistake I made: turning out early on an empty stomach."
A milk cart rattled down the street, the driver standing at the back, cracking a whip; he wore an immense geranium flower stuck in the lapel of his coat. Firm as a rock he stood, bending back a little in the swaying cart. Andreas craned his neck to watch him all the way down the road, even after he had gone, listening for the sharp sound of those rattling cans.
"H'm, not much wrong with him," he reflected. "Wouldn't mind a taste of that life myself. Up early, work all over by eleven o'clock, nothing to do but loaf about all day until milking time." Which he knew was an exaggeration, but he wanted to pity himself.
The maid opened the door, and stood aside for Doctor Erb. Andreas wheeled round; the two men shook hands.
"Well, Binzer," said the doctor jovially, brushing some crumbs from a pearl-coloured waistcoat, "son and heir becoming importunate?"