Professor Rubens dashed from the shelter of the Bäckerladen's awning and splashed his way across the street, more mindful of protecting the bag of pastries that he clutched to his chest than he was of his own well being as he dodged between the oncoming traffic. So heavy was the downpour that he was drenched in moments, the rain streaming from the brim of his hat before his eyes.
When he reached the pavement opposite, he again sought cover beneath the canopies of the shopfronts, darting from one to another until he reached the corner of Roscherstraße. From there, it was a matter of a determined stomp through the puddles to Eckhart's side entry, and then to the doorway of their rented basement premises.
Reaching the sanctuary of the building did little to improve his outlook. The dampness had long ago permeated its lower level, the air constantly tinged with a musty odour, testament of the wet rot which was steadily working its way upwards. The rainwater that ran from his coat onto the concrete steps would certainly do nothing to accentuate the problem. As he descended, he clutched onto the rickety wooden handrail, the fixings of which had worked themselves loose in a number of locations. Shortly, he reached the bottom of the staircase and, still mindful of the delicacies which he was transporting, began to fish through his trouser pocket for the key to their makeshift laboratory. Before he found it, however, he heard another key click in the lock's mechanism, and the door opened before him.
"Greta!" he admonished, "I've told you not to open the door without checking. I could have been anyone!"
"Father," Greta replied with exasperation, "I could hear your cursing whilst you stood there hunting for your key! And anyway, I'm too hungry to wait any longer. Whatever you've brought, I hope you've kept it dry."
"I think so," he said as he stepped through the doorway, turning to watch her lock the door behind him, keen to ensure that it was secure.
Greta tutted to herself. As used as she was to his foibles, she could not help but be annoyed by them from time to time. "Don't worry," she assured him, "its locked, for what good that is. If someone really wanted to get in here, that old wooden door wouldn't last long, would it?"
She regretted her words the moment she saw the concern creep across his face. Now she'd given him something else to worry about.
"I've made a fresh pot of coffee," she stated, changing the subject. "Let's eat together, and I can tell you what I was working on last night."
"You should sleep more," Rubens told her, as he took off his coat and hung it on the stand where it continued to drip water onto the floor. "I can see it in your face, you know. You're working too hard. You'll end up making yourself ill."
"Nonsense," she scoffed, "I'm fine. I know that we're getting close now, that's all. I couldn't sleep even if I wanted to. Not when there's so much still to be done."
"Patience can be as great a virtue as hard work, Greta," he said, as he unwrapped the parcel on the corner of his workbench.