“Yes. There’s too much sun this time of year.”
The cook sat on in his chair. The innkeeper went in with us and unlocked his office and brought out our mail. There was a bundle of letters and some papers.
“Let’s get some beer,” John said.
“Good. We’ll drink it inside.”
The proprietor brought two bottles and we drank them while we read the letters.
“We better have some more beer,” John said. A girl brought it this time. She smiled as she opened the bottles.
“Many letters,” she said.
“Prosit,” she said and went out, taking the empty bottles.
“I’d forgotten what beer tasted like.”
“I hadn’t,” John said. “Up in the hut I used to think about it a lot.”
“Well,” I said, “we’ve got it now.”
“You oughtn’t to ever do anything too long.”
“No. We were up there too long.”
“Too damn long,” John said. “It’s no good doing a thing too long.”
The sun came through the open window and shone through the beer bottles on the table. The bottles were half full. There was a little froth on the beer in the bottles, not much because it was very cold. It collared up when you poured it into the tall glasses. I looked out of the open window at the white road. The trees beside the road were dusty. Beyond was a green field and a stream. There were trees along the stream and a mill with a water wheel. Through the open side of the mill I saw a long log and a saw in it rising and falling. No one seemed to be tending it. There were four crows walking in the green field. One crow sat in a tree watching. Outside on the porch the cook got off his chair and passed into the hall that led back into the kitchen. Inside, the sunlight shone through the empty glasses on the table. John was leaning forward with his head on his arms.
Through the window I saw two men come up the front steps. They came into the drinking room. One was the bearded peasant in the high boots. The other was the sexton. They sat down at the table under the window. The girl came in and stood by their table. The peasant did not seem to see her. He sat with his hands on the table. He wore his old army clothes. There were patches on the elbows.
“What will it be?” asked the sexton. The peasant did not pay any attention.
“What will you drink?”
“Schnapps,” the peasant said.
“And a quarter litre of red wine,” the sexton told the girl.
The girl brought the drinks and the peasant drank the schnapps. He looked out of the window. The sexton watched him. John had his head forward on the table. He was asleep.
The innkeeper came in and went over to the table. He spoke in dialect and the sexton answered him. The peasant looked out of the window. The innkeeper went out of the room. The peasant stood up. He took a folded ten-thousand-kronen note out of a leather pocketbook and unfolded it. The girl came up.
“Alles?” she asked.
“Alles,” he said.
“Let me buy the wine,” the sexton said.
“Alles,” the peasant repeated to the girl. She put her hand in the pocket of her apron, brought it out full of coins and counted out the change. The peasant went out the door. As soon as he was gone the innkeeper came into the room again and spoke to the sexton. He sat down at the table. They talked in dialect. The sexton was amused. The innkeeper was disgusted. The sexton stood up from the table. He was a little man with a mustache. He leaned out of the window and looked up the road.
“There he goes in,” he said.
“In the Löwen?”
They talked again and then the innkeeper came over to our table. The innkeeper was a tall man and old. He looked at John asleep.
“He’s pretty tired.”
“Yes, we were up early.”
“Will you want to eat soon?”
“Anytime,” I said. “What is there to eat?”
“Anything you want. The girl will bring the eating-card.”