They were adored by the Germans, who thought they were exactly what Englishmen ought to be. They made war look stylish and reasonable, and fun. So the Germans let them have four sheds, though one shed would have held them all. And, in exchange for coffee or chocolate or tobacco, the Germans gave them paint and lumber and nails and cloth for fixing things up.
The Englishmen had known for twelve hours that American guests were on their way. They had never had guests before, and they went to work like darling elves, sweeping, mopping, cooking, baking--making mattresses of straw and burlap bags, setting tables, putting party favors at each place.
Now they were singing their welcome to their guests in the winter night. Their clothes were aromatic with the feast they had been preparing. They were dressed half for battle, half for tennis or croquet. They were so elated by their own hospitality, and by all the goodies waiting inside, that they did not take a good look at their guests while they sang. And they imagined that they were singing to fellow officers fresh from the fray.
They wrestled the Americans toward the shed door affectionately, filling the night with manly blather and brotherly rodomontades. They called them "Yank," told them, "Good show," promised them that "Jerry was on the run," and so on.
Billy Pilgrim wondered simply who Jerry was.
The Englishmen are throwing a welcome party for the newly arrived Americans. They've cooked, cleaned, and freshened up. They're singing and clapping, treating them like long-lost comrades. And the Germans love it all. Their British prisoners are acting exactly the way they imagined British prisoners should act.
Today, I have been trying to act exactly the way that a father should act when he has two sick kids. My son threw up all day yesterday. This morning, at about 12:30 a.m., I heard my daughter getting up-close-and-personal with a bucket. She threw up all night long. I emptied the bucket all night long. Then, I got up and went to work at 4:45 a.m.
My son is back to his normal self, pestering me for time on my laptop to play Minecraft. My daughter has finally stopped vomiting. I just made her a bowl of chicken noodle soup a little while ago. I have not heard the soup making a return visit yet. I think my household may be on the other side of this mountain now. Thank God.
My daughter is pasty white. Her bedroom smells like an Ebola hospital ward. My son just took a bath, washed off the residue of the last 24 hours. I'm sure my daughter will hop in the shower tonight, once she has regained a little of her strength.
The Englishmen can make a party in a prisoner of war camp. There was no party in my house yesterday. Now, I am simply hoping not to contract this particular plague of chunk blowing.
Saint Marty is thankful for good health this evening.