Mrs. Zwicker discussed immediately the question, whether it would be worth while to stay till then, arrived at a decided answer in the affirmative, and then went to excuse Effi’s absence from lunch.
A moment later, as the waitress was about to leave, Effi said: “And then, Afra, when you are free, I hope you can come back to me for a quarter of an hour to help me pack. I am leaving by the seven o’clock train.”
“Today? Oh, your Ladyship, what a pity! Why, the beautiful days are just going to begin.”
Three years had passed and for almost that length of time Effi had been living in a small apartment on Koeniggraetz Street—a front room and back room, behind which was the kitchen with a servant’s bedroom, everything as ordinary and commonplace as possible. And yet it was an unusually pretty apartment, that made an agreeable impression on everybody who saw it, the most agreeable perhaps on old Dr. Rummschuettel, who called now and then and had long ago forgiven the poor young wife, not only for the rheumatism and neuralgia farce of bygone years, but also for everything else that had happened in the meantime—if there was any need of forgiveness on his part, considering the very different cases he knew about. He was now far along in the seventies, but whenever Effi, who had been ailing considerably for some time, wrote a letter asking him to call, he came the following forenoon and would not listen to any excuses for the number of steps he had to climb. “No excuse, please, dear, most gracious Lady; for in the first place it is my calling, and in the second I am happy and almost proud that I am still able to climb the three flights so well. If I were not afraid of inconveniencing you,—since, after all, I come as a physician and not as a friend of nature or a landscape enthusiast,—I should probably come oftener, merely to see you and sit down for a few minutes at your back window. I don’t believe you fully appreciate the view.”
“Oh, yes I do,” said Effi; but Rummschuettel, not allowing himself to be interrupted, continued: “Please, most gracious Lady, step here just for a moment, or allow me to escort you to the window. Simply magnificent again today! Just see the various railroad embankments, three, no, four, and how the trains glide back and forth continually, and now that train yonder disappears again behind a group of trees. Really magnificent! And how the sun shines through the white smoke! If St. Matthew’s Churchyard were not immediately behind it it would be ideal.”
“I like to look at churchyards.”
“Yes, you dare say that. But how about us? We physicians are unavoidably confronted with the question, might there, perhaps, not have been some fewer graves here? However, most gracious Lady, I am satisfied with you and my only complaint is that you will not listen to anything about Ems. For your catarrhal affections—”