Today's Reading

At his desk, Peter checked his research log. With the thirty -four American students about to enter their second semester at the University of Munich and the following year's class which would arrive in the fall, he'd obtain plenty of data for his dissertation.

"Guten Tag, Peter." Professor Johannes Schreiber entered the office. "Wie geht's?"

"Sehr gut, Herr Professor." Peter shook the hand of his favorite professor from his own junior year in Munich. The man had lost some hair since then, but he'd kept the same warm smile. "Only three more recordings to make. The students have been generous with their time on their semester break."

Professor Schreiber fingered the flexible steel tubing on the Dictaphone's mouthpiece. "I'm glad, but I wish your research were more conventional. I fail to see how this will improve language learning."

Stifling a groan, Peter straightened books on his desk. "I've found it helps if a student listens to himself and then to proper pronunciation. Also, I can compare recordings before and after the semester to show the effect of my teaching methods."

"Your methods." Professor Schreiber rubbed his chin and frowned at the machine. "Students learn best from immersion."

"Naturally. That's why my research compares my students at Harvard who did not have the benefit of immersion with the students here who do. That's why I met this class in New York and recorded them before they sailed to Hamburg. I also recorded Harvard students with a different instructor—"

"It isn't too late to find a new approach. You are here for a year."

Peter drew a deep breath. Without Professor Schreiber's blessing, he'd never receive his PhD. "What if I help Hans-Jürgen?"

"My son?"

"Ja. His English is good, but his accent is...not."

The professor got a faraway look in his pale blue eyes. "I would like him to study in England or America."

Peter spread his hand on the cool black Dictaphone case. "If I can improve his accent, may I continue my work?"

A smile dug into one cheek. "He is fond of you."

"And I am fond of him. Do we have a deal?"

"Very well. Now you have a reporter visiting, ja?"

"Ja. A favor for a friend."

After the professor departed, Peter checked his watch. Three minutes if she were the punctual sort. He closed his log and filed it away.

Poor George. He'd called to say he'd given Peter's number to a firebrand female reporter who didn't know her place. George was heaping on assignments to keep her out of trouble.

"Good luck." Peter closed his file drawer. By definition, troublemakers made trouble.

"Entschuldigung?"'A slender brunette knocked on his open door. Not a pretty woman, but...arresting. "Professor Peter Lang?"

"Just Mr. Lang until I receive my doctorate," Peter said in English, and he strode over. She had a firm handshake born of working in a man's profession, no doubt. "You must be Miss Firebrand."

Medium-brown eyes looked up at him, lit by intelligence and humor. "My reputation precedes me."

What had he said? "Pardon?"

"My name is Evelyn Brand, not Firebrand, despite what Mr. Norwood says."

For heaven's sake. "My apologies, Miss Brand. I assure you, the mistake was mine, not George's."

"No need to apologize." The pleasure in her expression told him she'd probably repeat this story to all her friends.

"Please come in." Fumbling for the remnants of his manners, he motioned her inside. "Would you rather go outside? The weather is chilly, but I enjoy it that way."

"I do too, but I'd like to start in here. You can learn a lot about a person from his surroundings." She shrugged off her overcoat.

Peter helped her and hung her coat on a hook. "All right, Miss Brand. What can you learn from my miniature graduate student office?"

At his bookcase she pulled out a few volumes. She cut a stylish figure in a gray suit and a red blouse with a red belt around her waist. Her hat had a man's cut but with a feminine tilt, gray with a red bow. Even her shoes were gray and red.

Miss Brand slid a book back onto the shelf. "Your books tell me nothing that Nor— Mr. Norwood didn't tell me. You're studying the German language. But despite your recent arrival, everything is unpacked."

This could be interesting. "I don't procrastinate."

"A Dictaphone?" She stroked the machine with the reverence it deserved. "What for?"

"My research. I'm—"

"Ah, your research. You'll tell me about it in exceptional detail, I'm sure. But may I ask my questions first?"

He grinned. After the giggling junior year girls, Miss Brand was refreshing. "In my defense, I was answering your question."

She chuckled. "You were."
...

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