Shmuel Eregast turned out to be a wonderful host. As we sat talking and drinking wine of which there appeared to be unlimited quantities, he had disappeared and when an hour later he returned, a little out of breath and carrying a bunch of keys, he announced that our rooms were now in order.
“No single rooms, I am afraid, but the beds are large. There will be room for all.” He walked over to the professor, who was really quite drunk, and handed him the key. “You are in room number 5, he said, “with the... monk.” Shmuel pronounced the last word as if he had something indescribably distasteful in his mouth. Our host did not elaborate, but it was clear to me that he did not approve of Moshe Cohen's disguise of a Dominican monk. With some difficulty professor Hubnoth got up from his chair and did a feeble attempt to rearrange his dress that was in total disarray.
“Splendid,” he said. “Moshe, let us retire to our quarters.” He looked at the key in his hand, puzzled, and asked where room number 5 might be.
“Up the stairs to your right. You can't miss it.”
“In the state I am in I might even miss a donkey in a urinal.”
Moshe Cohen helped the professor up the rickety stairs. “Don't push me!” we heard the professor complain and a little later in a very high, shrill voice: “Au! Don't touch me! Get your hands off my ass, you dirtbag.”
“Hurry up then, you sad sample of the human race.”
Erik, Marcello and I continued our conversation, while Shmuel kept himself busy clearing the table and putting his kitchen back in order in again.
“Why on earth would those two want to buy this place, this pueblo?” Erik asked.
“It was my idea,” Marcello explained. They sold their house in Perpignan through a friend of mine who suggested the professor and his friend should talk to me about an investment, a business opportunity.”
“So the classics professor and the monk are now entrepreneurs? I don't believe it.”
“They are both retired and bored. And rich. They need a new challenge.”
Erik was not convinced.
“It's dirt cheap, Erik,” I explained. For the price of a tiny apartment in Amsterdam you can purchase here the dozen or so houses that Marcello has for sale. About half the village.”