Eva Löwenzahn and George Tinsley came to Hemlock Lake in the fall of 1910 after just getting married. She was from Germany and he was from England and they were both excited about their new start in the new world. They rented a cottage along Hemlock lake and intended to spend the winter looking for a homestead to settle near the lake.
They also planned to spend time practicing each other’s language although they understood each other well enough for daily conversation. And George was reluctant, often asking “Why must the German language have so many ways to say the?” Eva smiled, “Ich weiss nicht.”
And so, gradually, they began spending their evenings conjugating verbs and reading children’s stories. They would sit at the kitchen table reading about the Emperor’s new Clothes or The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson.
One evening, while in the middle of a lesson, a mouse scurried across the kitchen floor in front of the two of them. Eva screamed and George jumped up for the broom but it was too late, the mouse had made its way to the safety of the cupboard where Eva kept the breads and grains.
“Das ist schlecht”, cried Eva and promised to go to the village in the morning and talk to the store keeper about a trap or poison. And George promised to go to the nearest farmer and bring home a cat.
In the morning they both left on their missions. Eva arrived at the store of Hans Schneider who had come from Germany several years earlier and established the store.
“Hans. I must speak to you.” said Eva quietly, not wanting everyone to know she had mice in her pantry. It would be embarrassing.
“I need some poison for mice. Can you prepare some?” she whispered.
“Ja, sicher!” he replied as he brushed his moustache with the back of his hand. “I will make some biscuits today and bring them to you.”
“Okay. Sehr gut.” said Eva and turned to go finish her shopping and maybe talk to her friends at the church about the Saturday night social and the flowers for Sunday’s service.
Hans finished the poison biscuits quickly and looked for Eva but she was not to be found. So he climbed on his buggy and went to the cottage where the Tinsley’s were staying. He knocked on the door but there was no answer. The barn and shed were empty. He decided that he would leave the package of biscuits for the Tinsley’s so they could set some out for the mice that day. He tied a note to the package that said “GIFT” and left it on the kitchen table.
When George arrived home he set the cat loose in the shed of the house and went to find Eva. Instead he found the package on the table and unwrapping it found the biscuits. Although they were not the best looking cookies he had ever seen he took a bite to taste. And although they were not the best tasting cookies he had ever eaten he eat one and started another.
When Eva arrived home she found the open package and her husband in bed complaining of a stomach ache. “Oh no George, you did not eat these biscuits did you?” she asked.
“Yes, I ate two and now I am sick.”
“Oh no George, did you not read the label? It says GIFT in large letters.”
“Yes, I read the label and decided to try one. Someone was very generous but the cookies are not very good.”
“But George,” replied Eva. “GIFT in German means POISON.”
George frowned and stared blankly at Eva. He had not eaten enough of the biscuits to cause serious harm, and although he was sick for the rest of the day and into the night he began to take his German studies more seriously.