The meal they ate in the inn was boiled cabbage, sliced cooked meats, and bread with a cup of red wine. There was horseradish to flavor the beef and butter to spread on the brot. They sat beside the big heating and cooking fireplace. A kettle hung from a hinged iron hook that pivoted over the fire. The fireplace was so large that they were almost sitting inside it. The warmth felt inviting and good. A tall canister of pig’s knuckles simmered by the burning logs and an enormous pot of soup slow cooked on another hinge that could swing out to ladle a bowl of potato chowder.
Their guest had not yet arrived.
“How did you come to know Geert of Deventer?” the Landgraf asked Jan Cele making table conversation.
“We were at the university together at Prague.”
“Prague. That’s impressive. The capitol of the Holy Roman Empire.”
“For being so far to the east, it is impressive” Cele affirmed.
“The city of Good King Wenceslaus,” the Landgraf exchanged.
“I know a Christmas carol about him,” chimed in Gretel.
Good King Wenceslaus looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
Where the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even.
“Bravo!” the men clapped and Gretel was embarrassed. But she was beginning to like the conversation of schooled companions.
“I would like to be educated like yourselves,” she blushed.
John Cele came to her rescue.
“So you shall be and more,” he said foreshadowing a bright future.
“I would like that very much.”
“Education,” affirmed the Landgraf, “will set you free to be. . .”
“I believe that!” John Cele said. “Free to be! That is the question and answer education offers.”