I was surprised to see Stefanie and Tomas at Karl's house yesterday. They chatted for a while, but I sensed a tension between them. Tomas was even hairier than before; dreadlocks and beard covering most of his face. There was also a musty, damp smell about him, as if he'd been sleeping rough. Stefanie looked tired and drawn with dark shadows under her eyes and had lost a lot of weight. She was quieter than I remembered. It wasn't long before they announced they were going for a walk.
I asked Karl if anything was wrong. He said they'd arrived two days ago and the atmosphere between them has very strained. Tomas was sleeping outside in a tent and insisted on Stefanie sleeping there too. Apparently, because she was cold, she'd crept back into the house at three in the morning and this had caused an argument between them. Tomas had also caught her using the washing machine and started ranting about the chemicals in washing detergents. He'd stormed out of the house, slammed the door and left Stefanie crying in the kitchen. She'd told her dad she'd moved out of the student house she'd shared with two other girls and moved into the squat to be with him and, although she loved Tomas, she missed having hot water, proper heating and a washing machine. Tomas insisted she mustn't wear make up or use deodorants and demanded she only use water to wash her hair; no shampoo or conditioner. She's already a vegetarian but Tomas is now putting pressure on her to become a vegan. I was surprised that Stefanie had gone along with all this. I remembered how, at Christmas, she had a very good appetite and had gone for second helpings which included meat.
I said she must love Tomas very much as she'd given up a lot for him. Karl thinks she'll follow him to the ends of the earth, but he's worried how she's being so influenced by him. She did well at school and, up until recently, has been getting good grades at university. He wasn't sure whether to say something to Tomas. I said they would probably see it as interfering and it could make things worse.
We walked down to the lake and watched the ducks and geese. Karl had to point out out Gertrude, the goose we'd rescued from Jean Luc last summer. Little does she know how lucky she is as she nearly ended up on the dinner table. She's now grown so much I wouldn't have recognised her. We were wondering how Jean Luc and his mad wife are getting along when we heard shouting behind us. Stefanie was clinging on to Tomas's coat whilst he was trying to push her away. I don't speak any German but it was obvious Stefanie was very distressed. We went over to see what was going on. Tomas had packed up his tent and was collecting his belongings. Stefanie was sobbing, pleading with him not to go, but he barely glanced at her. He just picked up his rucksack, gave a dismissive wave and marched off down the road.
Stefanie was inconsolable, clinging to her dad. I wondered if I should leave but Karl asked me to come back into the house with them. He told Stefanie to sit down and made her a coffee. Once she settled down, they spoke in German for a while. She then left the room.
Karl said he'd he'd told her to have a hot bath and catch up with her sleep. Apparently Tomas had been planning to break into a mink farm nearby and release all the animals. He'd been up to the farm a few times, making sketches and plans of the area. He'd wanted Stefanie to take part in the break in which he planned to carry out the following night, but she was worried. When she told Tomas she was concerned about them being caught he'd become angry and told her to go back to her father's. He'd told her she was weak and pathetic and was no use to him.
While neither Karl nor myself are supportive of the mink farms here in Brittany, I know he is more concerned about Stefanie getting into trouble with the police. He believes there are more effective ways to go about closing these farms and doesn't think releasing the mink will do any good. I'm inclined to agree.
I stayed for a while and told him about meeting Josephine from the book shop, but Karl wasn't really listening; I could see his mind was on Stefanie.
That all happened yesterday.
This morning I was clearing the garden when I had a call from Karl. When he'd got up he found a note on the kitchen table from Stefanie. Tomas had come back for her and they decided to return to Berlin. Karl had a feeling this would happen and the previous night he'd put some money in Stefanie's bag whilst she was asleep. He was concerned about her hitch hiking and wanted her to have enough to make the journey back. There was no mention of the mink farm.