I saw Helene rise, go to the window, and glance across with such a peculiar smile that I knew as well as if I had seen her that Christian’s Elsa was at her window with her music, looking across for me between each bar. I cannot describe the smile which hovered on the face of the Little Playmate. But perhaps all the male beings who read my book may have seen something like it. All that I can say is, that the smile conveyed an almost superhuman understanding of men and their little ways, and, curiously enough, something of contempt too.
But I was not going to be discouraged by any smile, acid or sweet. Besides, I had something still to pay back.
Michael Texel, indeed!—faith, by St. Blaise, I will Texel him tightly an he comes sneaking to our gate!
So again I drew yet nearer to his sister. Katrin dimpled and showed her teeth, with a smile like the sun going about the world, till I had almost put my hand behind her shoulders to catch the ends of it when it got round. This illumination almost finished me, for it was not the kind of smile I had been accustomed to from—well, that was not the business I was on at present.
THE LITTLE PLAYMATE SETTLES ACCOUNTS
But I admit that the smile discouraged me. Nevertheless I proceeded gallantly.
“Ah, Jungfrau Texel,” said I, “you cannot know how your presence brightens our lives here in the Red Tower. Wherefore will you not come oftener to our grim abode?”
I thought that, on the whole, pretty well; but, looking up at Helene, I saw that her smile (so different from that of the Io-Cow Katrin) had become a whole volume of scathing satire. God wot, it is not easy to make love to a lass when your “Little Sister” is listening—especially to a woman-mountain set on watch-springs like Katrin Texel.
But, after all, Katrin was no ways averse to love-making of any kind, which, after all, is the main thing. And as for the Little Playmate, I did not mind her a bonnet-tag. She had brought it upon herself.
Michael Texel indeed!
So I went on. It was excellent sport—such a jest as may not be played every day. I would show Mistress Helene (so I said to myself) whether she would like it any better if I made love to Katrin than if I went over on an occasional wet day to clean pistolets and oil French musketoons in Christian’s guard-house.
So I began to tell Katrin how that woman was the sacredest influence on the life of men, with other things as I could recollect them out of a book of chivalry which I had been reading, the fine sentiments of which it was a pity to waste. For our Helene would have stamped her foot and boxed my ears for coming nigh her with such nonsense (that is, at this time she would, doubtless—not, however, always). And as for the lass over the way—Christian’s Elsa—she knew no more of letters than her father knew of the mathematics. Plain kissing was more in her way—as I have been told.