Chapter 4 - The Exodus 105
“This is no time for me to leave!” Robert said.
“You’re wasting your time here.” his mother said. “Do you want to lose the whole year? If you don’t qualify for the baccalaureate, you can’t go to university. Then what? Do you want to be drafted?”
“I can make up the time. This is more important than school.”
“What’s so important? Listening to old men make up stories about war? Reading your books? Do you think you are any help to me while you’re hanging around here? The Germans won’t do anything during the winter.”
“All right, then why don’t you come too?” Robert said.
“I’m not leaving, not while your father is here. He needs me here, but you don’t have to stay.”
“You don’t even know where he is, and I promised”
“Your father would agree with me. There will always be another war as long as people live and breathe, but our lives have to go on. Do you want what’s best for me?
“I want the war to stop!”
“How are you going to do that? Do you want them to make you into a soldier so that you can shoot those boys across the river?”
“Or how about Hitler? He’ll give you a job. They’ll put you in the Arbeitsdienst as fast as they can write your name.”
“That would be insane.”
“The Boches could walk in here tomorrow if they weren’t still busy with Poland and Czechoslovakia.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Get away from here. Go learn how to think.”
“I am thinking! I’m reading Erckmann-Chatrian, and I have plenty of books that Mr. Hehn”
“Hehn! You keep an eye on your Mr. Hehn, and you’ll see. He’ll be playing the German card before we see the end of this.”
“Mr. Hehn happens to be the best teacher in the school, and what’s the matter with reading Goethe and Schiller?”
“Hehn is a librarian, he’s not a teacher, and he lives in the past. You’re reading books now, and that’s good. But books are supposed to lead you into the world, not take you from it.”