Old Missoula

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"Can You Speak German?" - 1897

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“Can You Speak German?”

The following article is taken from The Anaconda Standard on June 19, 1897 p 10.

Good Thing Recognized

A Young German Girl Finds a Benefactor

They Meet On The Train

Missoula , June 18 – Manager Deffenbach of the telephone exchange had a fright Tuesday from which he has not entirely recovered yet. His usually rosy face and cheerful smile have not been as much in evidence since that day and his friends have been at a loss to account for the change that has come over him. The truth, however, has leaked out and the fact is established that the genial telephone man is not in love. Quite the contrary, he trembles now whenever he sees a woman coming toward him. On Monday he had been up the line, making some repairs, and had boarded No. 1 to come home. Sam Long was the conductor and when he saw “Deff” get aboard he smiled all over. As soon as John had taken his seat, the conductor came up to him with the inquiry. “Can you speak German?” Deff said that he could just a little. That was all the conductor wanted to know and he grabbed poor Deff and led him to another car, where he took him to a buxom girl who was sitting in a seat alongside a big emigrant’s valise that showed that she had not been long on this side of the water. “Here is a girl,” said the conductor, “who has a ticket to Missoula, but she cannot speak English and does not want to get off at that station. Tell her that that is the place for her to stop.” Deff tried to tell the young lady, but all that she would say was that she wanted to go to Montana and that Missoula was not the place where she was bound. Vainly the perplexed telephone man tried to convince her that he knew that it was all right. She wouldn’t stand his work at all. His German vocabulary had long been exhausted in the attempt to assure the fair emigrant that he was her friend, but she failed to believe him. The fact that Deff could speak the tongue that she had not heard for days commended him to her in a measure and she finally began to think that he might be all right. When the train pulled into the yard at Missoula, Deff had a happy thought. He knew that Otto Siegel of the Montana hotel would be at the depot to meet the train and he knew that Otto could talk with any one who came from the Fatherland. So, as the train stopped, he told the girl to remain where she was till he found Otto. He started for the door to carry out his plan, but the girl would not be forsaken in that sort of way and grabbed her valise. Out of the car door she sped and landed on the platform as soon as Deff, her unwilling protector, did. She seized his coat sleeve and hung on to the only man that she had seen who could talk with her, as if she was determined never to leave him. Thus they came up the platform. Deff’s face was rosy with blushes and he failed to return the smiles of congratulation that his acquaintances bestowed upon him as he worked his way through the crowd to find Otto Siegel. It was a pretty picture, anyway. Deff looked like a manly bridegroom and the timid, hesitating, wooden-shoed, queerly-clad young lady at his side looked for all the world as if she had come all the way from Bavaria to meet him. It was an opportunity for a kodak fiend that is seldom afforded. However, it did not last long. If it had, Deff would have been crazy. As soon as he reached the hack stand he found Otto Siegel and told him of his trouble. Otto promptly relieved the gallant telephone man of his trouble and took in charge the bewildered girl. She was bound for Quartz [Superior] and the next morning was placed on board the Coeur d’Alene train and taken to her destination. Deff, however, does not dare to speak to a woman for fear that she will cling to him. That is strange, too.