Tried in the Fire: episode twenty-seven
He was only a missionary. He had handed her a tract. The unreal state of a moment ago, those peculiar words that had come to her mind, embarrassed her now. Greta smoothed the pleats her clenched fist had made, and read:
Le Seigneur est ma lumière et mon salut; qui aurais-je crainte?
„Du bist der Christ!“
Hast mich mit deinem Blut erkauft
Und mich mit deinem Geist getauft
Der Herr giebt Sieg
You are an unfinished letter; written in an unfinished heart…
Hesitant, she showed the tract to Kneussl. He paused over the words, lips parted, seeming to sound them out to himself. Then: “Throw it away.”
But she couldn’t…what did he mean for her to do, throw it on the ground? She put the paper in her bag, found her handkerchief there, wiped her eyes.
Kneussl remained close to Greta, watching her, aware of having harmed her, unintended. He was tethered to this woman, and she was his salvation. He felt exposed, unnerved. Seeing the man approach her, face hidden, Kneussl had been overtaken by a conviction this was Janak. Meeting the eyes, he’d seen a stranger. He had not seen in the missionary’s gaze an unjudging calm, but a condemnation of his own delusion, his insanity. Had Greta not been with him, he would have fired the gun, obliterated his mistake. He knew it.
And this was not her fault. He had lost control and allowed too much; she had not forced his coming here. Fighting error after error, he had lost control. He had told her more than he should have.
He had more to tell.
“August Stauber, who is known to you, has been arrested.”
“On what charge?” She began to feel the pressure she thought had broken, reclaim territory. Kneussl’s remoteness no longer seemed arrogant. His face was unguarded, bleak.
“I have no specific information. He was followed to a mountain lodge near the Austrian border. He was arrested meeting there with an agent of the Russian government.”
Tried in the Fire
(copyright 2014, 2018 Stephanie Foster)