[2811] Uncertainty

When the bus stopped outside the inn, and the rain could be heard loudly and—probably there was a window open—so could the voices of the guests, Raban wondered which would be better, to get out at once or to wait until the innkeeper came to the coach. What the custom was in this township he did not know, but it was pretty certain that Betty would have spoken of here fiancé, and according to whether his arrival here was magnificent or feeble, so the esteem in which she was held here would increase or diminish, and with that, again, his own, too. But of course he knew neither what people felt about her nor what she had told them about him, and so everything was all the more disagreeable and difficult. Oh, beautiful city and beautiful the way home! If it rains there, one goes home by tram over wet cobbles; here one goes in a cart through mud to an inn.—”The city is far from here, and if I were now in danger of dying of homesickness, nobody could get me back there today.—Well, anyway, I shouldn’t die—but there I get the meal expected for that evening, set on the table, on the right behind my plate the newspaper, on the left the lamp, here I shall be given some dreadfully fat dish—they don’t know that I have a weak stomach, and even if they did know—an unfamiliar newspaper—many people, whom I can already hear, will be there, and one lamp will be lit for all. What sort of light can it provide? Enough to play cards by—but for reading a newspaper?

“The innkeeper isn’t coming, he’s not interested in guests, he is probably an unfriendly man. Or does he know that I am Betty’s fiancé, and does that give him a reason for not coming to fetch me in? It would be in accord with that that the driver kept me waiting so long at the station. Betty has often told me, after all, how much she has been bothered by lecherous men and how she has had to rebuff their insistence; perhaps it is that here too…!” [Franz Kafka. Wedding Preparations in the Country. 1908]

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