Back to my host, von Brunn. She was a tall and reverent seventy-something lady, wearing solemn lines and firm features on her face and dressed in folkloric attire. She used to throw her grey hair into a bundle on the top of her head and to fasten a belt from which a ring of keys, both large and small, dangled. She wore shoes with high heels, laced up firmly. Mr. Littman cautioned me to call her “Genaedige Frau”, i.e. Milady.
I finally settled down at the Gunpowder Factory. At lunch time, Mrs. Von Shmuller introduced me to the other students. There were eleven students, including two girls, a British and an American. There were also an Italian and a French student, the rest were all American.
We were placed in different classes, depending on our level of knowledge of German. I was put in the beginner’s class. We used to share meals with General von Shmuller and his wife; speaking German was mandatory. The General had an affinity with me. He would make me sit to his right during mealtimes and would laugh at my audacity in German, for I did not mind mistakes. What mattered was that I spoke. He once asked me during a meal to tell them an oriental story. Nasreddine and his Donkey was the first to pop into my mind. As the story goes... “One day, a neighbor of Nasreddine came to him and asked to borrow his donkey to go on a short trip to the town. Nasreddine regretted he could not lend him the donkey, saying that the animal was not there. At this very moment, the neighbor heard the animal hee-hawing in the stable. ‘How can you claim that the donkey is not there, I just heard him braying in the stable,’ said the neighbor. ‘You’re a funny one, my friend. How can you believe a donkey and disbelieve me!?’