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´╗┐Title: Uncle Titus and His Visit to the Country
Author: Spyri, Johanna, 1827-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Uncle Titus and His Visit to the Country" ***

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COUNTRY***


UNCLE TITUS AND HIS VISIT TO THE COUNTRY

A Story for Children and for Those Who Love Children

Translated from the German of

JOHANNA SPYRI

by

Louise Brooks

Boston
De Wolfe, Fiske & Co
361 and 365 Washington Street

1886



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER

   I. UNDER THE LINDENS

  II. LONG, LONG DAYS

 III. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HEDGE

  IV. ALL SIX

   V. BEFORE AND AFTER THE FLOOD

  VI. A FRIGHTFUL DEED

 VII. LONG-WISHED-FOR HAPPINESS

VIII. MORE CHARADES AND THEIR ANSWERS

  IX. "WHAT MUST BE, MUST BE"



CHAPTER I.

UNDER THE LINDENS.


The daily promenaders who moved slowly back and forth every afternoon
under the shade of the lindens on the eastern side of the pretty town of
Karlsruhe were very much interested in the appearance of two persons who
had lately joined their ranks. It was beyond doubt that the man was very
ill. He could only move slowly and it was touching to see the care with
which his little companion tried to make herself useful to him. He
supported himself with his right hand on a stout stick, and rested his
left upon the shoulder of the child at his side, and one could see that he
needed the assistance of both. From time to time he would lift his left
hand and say gently,

"Tell me, my child, if I press too heavily upon you."

Instantly, however, the child would catch his hand and press it down
again, assuring him,

"No, no, certainly not, Papa, lean upon me still more: I do not even
notice it at all."

After they had walked back and forth for a while, they seated themselves
upon one of the benches that were placed at convenient distances under the
trees, and rested a little.

The sick man was Major Falk, who had been in Karlsruhe only a short time.
He lived before that in Hamburg with his daughter Dora, whose mother died
soon after the little girl came into the world, so that Dora had never
known any parent but her father. Naturally, therefore, the child's whole
affection was centred upon Major Falk, who had always devoted himself to
his little motherless girl with such tenderness that she had scarcely felt
the want of a mother, until the war with France broke out, and he was
obliged to go with the Army. He was away for a long time, and when at last
he returned, it was with a dangerous wound in his breast. The Major had no
near relatives in Hamburg, and he therefore lived a very retired life with
his little daughter as his only companion, but in Karlsruhe he had an
elder half-sister, married to a literary man, Mr. Titus Ehrenreich.

When Major Falk was fully convinced that his wound was incurable, he
decided to remove to Karlsruhe, in order not to be quite without help when
his increasing illness should make it necessary for him to have some aid
in the care of his eleven-year-old daughter. It did not take long to make
the move. He rented a few rooms in the neighborhood of his sister, and
spent the warm spring afternoons enjoying his regular walk under the shade
of the lindens with his little daughter as his supporter and loving
companion.

When he grew weary of walking and they sat down on a bench to rest, the
Major had always some interesting story to tell, to beguile the time, and
Dora was certain that no one in the whole world could tell such delightful
stories as her father, who was indeed in her opinion the most agreeable
and lovable of men. Her favorite tales, and those which the Major himself
took most pleasure in relating, were little incidents in the life of
Dora's mother, who was now is heaven. He loved to tell the child how
affectionate and happy her mother had always been, and how many friends
she had won for herself, and how she always brought sunshine with her
wherever she went, and how nobody ever saw her who did not feel at once
attracted to her, and how she was even now remembered by those who had
known and loved her during life.

When Major Falk once began to talk about his dearly-beloved wife, he was
apt to forget the flight of time, and often the cool evening wind first
aroused him with its chilly breath to the fact that he was lingering too
long in the outer air. Then he and his little Dora would rise from the
bench in the shade of the lindens, and slowly wander back into town, until
they stopped before a many-storied house in a narrow street, and the Major
would generally say,

"We must go up to see Uncle Titus and Aunt Ninette this afternoon, Dora."
And as they slowly climbed the steep staircase, he would add, "Softly now,
little Dora, you know your Uncle is always writing very learned books, and
we must not disturb him by any unnecessary noise, and indeed, Dora, I do
not think your Aunt is any more fond of noise than he is."

So Dora went up upon the tips of her toes as quietly as a mouse, and the
Major's ring could scarcely be heard, he pulled the bell so gently!
Generally Aunt Ninette opened the door herself, saying,

"Come in, come in, dear brother! Very softly, if you please, for you know
your brother-in-law is busy at work."

So the three moved noiselessly along the corridor and crept into the
sitting room. Uncle Titus' study was the very next room, so that the
conversation was carried on almost in whispers, but it must be said Major
Falk was less liable to forget the necessary caution against disturbing
the learned writer than Aunt Ninette herself, for that lady being
oppressed with many cares and troubles had always to break into frequent
lamentation.

When June came, it was safe and pleasant to linger late under the shade of
the lindens, but the pair in whom we are interested often turned their
steps homeward earlier than they wished, in order not to arouse Aunt
Ninette's ever-ready reproaches. But one warm evening when the sky was
covered with rosy and golden sunset clouds, the Major and Dora lingered
watching the lovely sight longer than was their wont. They sat silent hand
in hand on the bench by the side of the promenade, and Dora could not take
her eyes from her father's face as he sat with upturned look gazing into
the sky. At last she exclaimed:

"I wish you could see yourself, papa, you look all golden and beautiful. I
am sure the angels in heaven look just as you do now."

Her father smiled. "It will soon pass away from me, Dora, but I can
imagine your mother standing behind those lovely clouds and smiling down
upon us with this golden glory always upon her face."

As the Major said, it did pass away very soon; his face grew pale, and
shone no longer; the golden light faded from the sky and the shades of
night stole on. The Major rose, and Dora followed him rather sadly. The
beautiful illumination had passed too quickly.

"We shall stand again in this glory, my child, nay, in a far more
beautiful one," said her father consolingly, "when we are all together
again, your mother and you and I, where there will be no more parting and
the glory will be everlasting."

As they climbed up the high staircase to say good night to Uncle and Aunt,
the latter awaited them on the landing, making all sorts of silent signs
of alarm and distress, but she did not utter a sound until she had them
safely within the sitting room. Then, having softly closed the door, she
broke forth complainingly,

"How can you make me so uneasy, dear brother? I have been dreadfully
anxious about you. I imagined all kinds of shocking accidents that might
have happened, and made you so late in returning home! How can you be so
heedless as to forget that it is not safe for you to stay out after
sunset. Now I am sure that you have taken cold. And what will happen, who
can tell? Something dreadful, I am certain."

"Calm yourself, I beg you, dear Ninette," said the Major soothingly, as
soon as he could get in a word. "The air is so mild, so very warm, that it
could not possibly harm anybody, and the evening was glorious, perfectly
wonderful. Let me enjoy these lovely summer evenings on earth as long as I
can; it will not be very long at the farthest. What is sure to come, can
be neither delayed nor hastened much by anything I may do."

These words, however, although they were spoken in the quietest possible
tone, called forth another torrent of reproach and lamentation.

"How can you allow yourself to speak in that way? How can you say such
dreadful things?" cried the excited woman over and over again. "It will
not happen. What will become of us all; what will become of--you know what
I mean," and she cast a meaning glance at Dora. "No, Karl, it would be
more than I could bear, and we never have more trouble sent to us than we
can bear; I do not know how I should live; I could not possibly endure
it."

"My dear Ninette" said her brother quietly, "Do not forget one thing,

    "'Thou art not in command,
      Thou canst not shape the end;
     God holds us in his hand:
      God knows the best to send.'"

"Oh, of course, I know all that well enough. I know that is all true,"
assented Aunt Ninette, "but when one cannot see the end nor the help, it
is enough to kill one with anxiety. And then you have such a way of
speaking of terrible things as if they were certain to come, and I cannot
bear it, I tell you; I cannot."

"Now we will say good-night and not stand and dispute any longer, my dear
sister," said the Major, holding out his hand, "we will both try to
remember the words of the verse--'God knows the best to send.'"

"Yes, yes, I'll remember. Only don't take cold going across the street,
and step very softly as you go down the stairs, and Dora, do you hear!
Close the door very gently, and Karl, be careful of the draught, as you
cross the street!"

While the good irritating Aunt was calling after them all these
unnecessary cautions, Dora and her father had gone down the stairs and had
softly closed the house-door. They had only a narrow alley to cross to
reach their own rooms opposite.

The next afternoon, as Dora and her father seated themselves on their
favorite bench under the lindens, the child asked,

"Papa, is it possible that Aunt Ninette never knew the verse you repeated
to her last night?"

"Oh yes, my child, she has always known the lines," replied the Major. "It
is only for the moment that your good aunt allows herself to be so
overwhelmed with care and worry as to forget who governs all wisely. She
is a good woman, and in her heart she places her trust in God's goodness.
She soon comes to herself again."

Dora was silent for a while, and then she said thoughtfully,

"Papa, how can we help being 'overwhelmed with care and worry?' and
'killed with anxiety,' as Aunt Ninette said."

"By always remembering that everything comes to us from the good God, my
dear child. When we are happy, we must think of Him and thank Him; when
sorrow comes we must not be frightened and distressed, for we know that
the good God sends it, and that it will be for our good. So we shall never
be 'overwhelmed with care and worry,' for even when some bitter trouble
comes, in which we can see no help nor escape, we know that God can bring
good out of what seems to us wholly evil. Will you try to think of this,
my child? for sorrow comes to all, and you will not escape it more than
another. But God will help you if you put your trust in Him."

"Yes, I understand you, papa, and I will try to do as you say. It is far
better to trust in God, than to let one's self be overwhelmed with care
and worry.'"

"But we must not forget," continued her father, after a pause, "that we
must not only think of God, when something special happens, but in
everything that we do, we must strive to act according to His holy will.
If we never think of Him, except when we are unhappy, we shall not then be
able easily to find the way to him, and that is the greatest grief of
all."

Dora repeated that she would ask God to keep her in the right way, and as
she spoke, her father softly stroked her hand, as it lay in his. He did
not speak again for a long time, but his eyes rested so lovingly and
protectingly on his little girl, that she felt as if folded in a tender
and strengthening embrace.

The sun sank in golden radiance behind the green lindens, and slowly the
father and child wended their way towards the high house in the narrow
street.



CHAPTER II.

LONG, LONG DAYS.


It was not many days after the events mentioned in the last chapter. Dora
sat by her father's bedside, her head buried in the pillows, vainly
striving to choke down her tears and sobs. It seemed as if her heart must
break. The Major lay back on his pillow, white and still, with a peaceful
smile on his calm face. Dora could not understand it, could not take it
in, but she knew it. Her father was gone to join her mother in heaven.

In the morning her father had not come as usual to her bedside to awaken
her, so when at last she opened her eyes, she went to seek him, and she
found him still in bed, and lying so quiet that she seated herself quite
softly by his side, that she might not disturb him.

Presently the servant came up with the breakfast, and looking through the
open door into the bed-room where Dora sat by her father's bed-side, she
called out in terror,

"Oh God, he is dead! I will call your aunt, child," and hurried away.

Dora's heart seemed cut in two by these words. She put her head upon the
pillow and sobbed and wept. Presently she heard her aunt come into the
room, and she raised her head and tried to control herself, for she
dreaded the scene that she knew was coming. And it came--cries and sobs,
loud groans and lamentations. Aunt Ninette declared that she could never
bear this terrible blow; she did not know which way to turn, nor what to
do first.

In the open drawer of the table by the side of the bed, lay several
papers, and as she laid them together, meaning to lock them up, she saw a
letter addressed to herself. She opened it and read as follows:

    "Dear Sister Ninette,

    "I feel that I shall shall soon leave you, but I will not talk to
    you about it, for the sad time will come only too quickly. One
    only wish that I have greatly at heart I now lay before you, and
    that is, that you will take my child under your protection for as
    long as she may need your care. I shall leave very little money
    behind me, but I beg you to employ this little in teaching Dora
    something that will enable her, with God's help, to support
    herself when she is old enough.

    "Do not, my dear sister, give way to your grief; try to believe as
    I believe, that God will always take our children under his
    care, when we are obliged to leave them and can no longer provide
    for them ourselves. Receive my heartfelt thanks for all the
    kindness you have shown to me and my child. God will reward you
    for it all."

Aunt Ninette read and re-read these touching lines, and could not help
growing calmer as she read. She turned to the silently weeping Dora with
these words,

"Come, my child, your home henceforth will be with us. You and I will try
to remember that all is well with your father; otherwise we shall break
down under our sorrow."

Dora arose at once and prepared to follow her aunt, but her heart was
heavy within her; she felt as if all was over and she could not live much
longer.

As she came up the stairs behind her aunt, Aunt Ninette omitted for the
first time to caution her to step lightly, and indeed there was no need
now of the usual warning when they approached Uncle Titus' room, for the
little girl was so sad, so weighed down with her sorrow as she entered her
new home, that it seemed as if she could never again utter a sound of
childish merriment.

A little room under the roof, hitherto used as a store-room, was changed
into a bed-room for Dora, though not without some complainings from Aunt
Ninette. However, the furniture was brought over from the Major's rooms,
and after a slight delay, all was comfortably arranged for the child.

When supper-time came, Dora followed her aunt, without a word, into the
dining-room, where they were joined by Uncle Titus, who however seldom
spoke, so deeply was he absorbed in his own thoughts. After supper, Dora
went up to her little room under the roof, and with her face buried in her
pillow, cried herself softly to sleep.

On the following morning she begged to be allowed to go over to look once
again at her father, and after some objection, her aunt agreed to go with
her, and they crossed the narrow street.

Dora took a silent farewell of her dear father, weeping all the time but
making no disturbance. Only when she again reached her little bed-room,
did she at last give way to her sobs without restraint, for she knew that
soon her good father would be carried away, and that she could never,
never see him again on earth.

And now began a new order of life for Dora. She had not been to school,
during the short time that she and her father had lived together in
Karlsruhe. Her father went over with her the lessons she had learned in
Hamburg, but he did not seem to care to begin any new study, preferring to
leave everything for her aunt to arrange.

It happened that one of Aunt Ninette's friends was the teacher of a
private school for girls, so that it was soon settled that Dora was to go
to her every morning to learn what she could. Also a seamstress was
engaged to teach her the art of shirt-making in the afternoon, for it was
a theory of Aunt Ninette's that the construction of shirts of all kinds
was a most useful branch of knowledge, and she proposed that Dora should
learn this art, with a view of being able to support herself with her
needle. She argued that since the shirt is the first garment to be put on
in dressing, it should be the first that one should learn to make, and
with this as a foundation, Dora could go on through the whole art of
sewing, till in time she might even arrive at the mighty feat of making
dresses! With which achievement Aunt Ninette would feel more than
satisfied, but this great end would never be reached, unless the first
steps were taken in the right direction.

So every morning Dora sat on the school-bench studying diligently, and
every afternoon on a little chair close to the seamstress' knee, sewing on
a big shirt that made her very warm and uncomfortable.

The mornings were not unpleasant; for she was in the company of other
children who were all studying, and Dora was ambitious and willing to
learn. So the hours flew quickly, for she was too busy to dwell much on
the loss of her dear father, and to think that he was gone forever. But
the afternoons were truly dreadful. She must sit through the long hot
hours, close by the seamstress, almost smothered by the big piece of
cotton cloth, which her little fingers could hardly manage, and she grew
restless and irritable, for her hands were moist, and the needle refused
to be driven through the thick cloth. How often she glanced up at the
clock on the wall during those long hours, when the minute hand was surely
stuck at half-past three, and the regular tic-tac seemed to fill the
quiet room with its sleepy droning. So hot, so still, so long were the
hours of those summer afternoons!

The silence was broken now and then by the sounds of a distant piano.
"What a happy child that must be!" thought little Dora, "who can sit at
the piano and practise exercises, and all sorts of pretty tunes!" She
could think of nothing more delightful; she listened with hungry ears, and
drank in every note that reached her. In the narrow street where the
seamstress lived she could hear the music distinctly, for no wagons
passed, and the voices of foot-passengers did not reach up so high as to
her room. So Dora listened to the sweet melodies which were her only
refreshment during those hot long hours, and even the running scales were
a pleasure to her ear. But then the thought of her father came back to
her, and she felt bitterly the terrible contrast between these hot lonely
afternoons and those which she used to spend with him under the cool shade
of the lindens. Then she thought of that glorious sunset, and of her
father, as he stood transfigured in the golden light. She remembered his
comforting words, his assurance that some day they two and the mother
would stand thus together, shining in the eternal light of Heaven. But
Dora sighed at the thought of the long weary time before she should join
them, unless indeed some accident should happen to her, or she should fall
ill and die, from this too heavy task of shirt-making. After all, her best
consolation was her father's verse; and then too, he had been so sure of
its truth:

    "God holds us in his hand,
     God knows the best to send."

She believed it too; and as she repeated the lines to herself, her heart
grew lighter, and even her needle moved more easily, as if inspired by the
cheering thoughts. Yet the days were long and wearisome, and their
stillness followed her when she went home to her uncle and aunt.

She reached home just in time for supper. Uncle Titus always held the
newspaper before his face, and read and ate behind its ample shelter. Aunt
Ninette spoke in whispers all the while, and asked only the most necessary
questions, in order not to disturb her husband. Dora said little; and less
every day, as she grew accustomed to this silent life. Even when she came
home from school at noon for the short interval before the time for her
sewing lessons, there was no need to caution her against noise; for the
child moved ever less and less like a living being, and grew more like a
shadow day by day.

Yet by nature she was a lively little maiden, and took so keen an interest
in all about her, that her father often used joyfully to observe it,
saying,

"That child is exactly like her dear mother; just the same movements, the
same indomitable spirit and enjoyment of life!"

But now all this vivacity seemed extinguished. Dora was very careful never
to provoke her aunt to complaints, which she dreaded exceedingly. Yet for
all her pains it would happen sometimes, most unexpectedly and when she
was least looking for a storm, that one would break over her head, and
frighten all her thoughts and words back into her childish heart; nay,
almost check the flow of youth in her veins.

One evening, she came home from her work filled with enthusiasm, by a song
she had been listening to, played by her unseen musician. Dora knew the
words well:

    "Live your life merrily
       While the lamp glows,
     Ere it can fade and die,
       Gather the rose."

Dora had often sung this song, but she had never dreamed that it could be
played on the piano, and it sounded so beautiful, so wonderful to her,
that she said to her aunt, as she entered the dining-room,

"Oh, Aunt Ninette, how delightful it must be to know how to play on the
piano! Do you think that I can ever learn it in my life?"

"Oh, in heaven's name, how can you ask me such a thing? How can you worry
me so? How could you do anything of the kind in our house? Think of the
terrible din that a piano makes! And where would the money come from if
you could find the time? Oh, Dora, where did you get hold of that
unfortunate idea? I should think I had enough to worry me already, without
your asking me such a thing as this into the bargain."

Dora hastened to assure her aunt that she had no intention of asking for
any thing, and the storm blew over. But never again did she dare even to
speak of music, no matter how eagerly she had listened to the piano,
during her long sewing lessons.

Every evening after Dora had learned all her lessons for school, while her
aunt in utter silence knitted or nodded, the child climbed up to her
little attic room; and before she closed her tiny window, she leaned out
into the night to see whether the stars were shining, and looking down
upon her from the high heavens. Five there were always up there just above
her head; they stood close together and Dora looked at them so often and
so steadily, that she began to consider them as her own special
property--or rather as friends who came every night and twinkled down into
her heart, to tell her that she was not utterly alone. One night the idea
came to her that these bright stars were loving messengers, who brought
her kisses and caresses from her dear parents. And from these heavenly
messengers the lonely child gained nightly comfort when she climbed to her
little chamber in the roof, with her feeble candle for her only companion.
She sent her prayers up to heaven through the tiny window, and received
full assurance in return, that her Father in heaven saw her, and would not
forsake her. Her father had told her that God would always help those who
trusted him and prayed to him, and she had no fear.

And so the long hot summer passed, and Autumn came. Then followed a long,
long winter with its cold and darkness; such cold that Dora often thought
that even the hot summer days were better, for she no longer dared to
open the window to look for her friends the stars, and often she could
hardly get to sleep, it was so cold in the little room, under the roof. At
last the Spring rolled round again, and the days passed one like another,
in the quiet dwelling of Uncle Titus. Dora worked harder than ever on the
big shirts, for she had learned to sew so well, that she had to help the
seamstress in earnest now. When the hot days came again, something
happened; and now Aunt Ninette had reason enough to lament. Uncle Titus
had an attack of dizziness, and the doctor was sent for.

"I suppose it is thirty years since you went beyond the limits of the town
of Karlsruhe, and in all that time you have never left your desk except
to eat and sleep. Am I right?" asked the physician, after he had looked
steadily at Uncle Titus and tapped him a little here and there.

There was no denying that the doctor had stated the case truly.

"Very well," he said, "now off with you! go away at once; to-day rather
than to-morrow. Go to Switzerland. Go to the fresh mountain air; that is
all the medicine you need. Don't go too high up, but stay there six weeks
at least. Have you any preference as to the place? No? Well, set yourself
to thinking and I will do the same, and to-morrow I shall call again to
find you ready for the journey."

With this off started the doctor, but Aunt Ninette would not let him
escape so easily. She followed close at his heels with a whole torrent of
questions, which she asked over and over again, and she would have an
answer. The doctor had fairly deserved this attack, by his astounding
prescription. His little game of snapping it suddenly upon them, and then
quickly making his escape, had not succeeded; he lost three times as much
time outside the door as if he had staid quietly in the room. When at last
Aunt Ninette returned to her husband, there he sat at his desk again,
writing as usual!

"My dear Titus," cried the good woman really in great astonishment, "is it
possible that you did not hear what we are ordered to do? To drop
everything and go away at once, and stay away for six weeks! And where? We
have not an idea where! And there's no way of knowing who our neighbors
will be! It is terrible, and there you sit and write as if there were
nothing else to be done in the world!"

"My love, it is exactly because I must go away so soon, that I wish to
make the most of the little time I have left," said Uncle Titus, and he
went on with his writing.

"My dear Titus, your way of accepting the unexpected is most admirable,
but this must be talked over, I assure you. The consequences may be very
serious, and the matter must not be lightly treated. Do think at once
where we are to go! Aunt Ninette spoke very impressively.

"Oh, it makes no difference where we go, if it is only quiet, and out in
the country some where," said the good man, as he calmly continued his
writing.

"Of course, that is the very thing" said his wife, "to find a quiet house,
not full of people nor in a noisy neighborhood. We might happen on a
school close by, or a mill, or a waterfall. There are so many of those
dreadful things in Switzerland. Or some noisy factory, or a market place,
always full of country folk, all the people of the whole canton pouring in
there together and making a terrible uproar. But I have an idea, my
dearest Titus, I have thought of a way to settle it. I shall write to an
old uncle of my brother's wife. You remember the family used to live in
Switzerland; I am sure I can find out from him just what it is best for us
to do."

"That seems to me rather a round-about way," said her husband, "and if I
remember right the family had some unpleasant experiences in Switzerland,
and are not likely to have kept up any connection with it."

"Oh, let me see to that; I will take care that all is as it should be, my
dear Titus," said aunt Ninette decidedly, and off she went, and without
more delay wrote and dispatched a letter to her brother's wife's uncle.
This done, she hurried away to Dora's sewing teacher, who was a most
respectable woman, and arranged that while they were in Switzerland, Dora
should spend the days with her, going to school as usual in the morning
and sewing all the afternoon, and that the woman should go home with Dora
to pass the nights.

Dora was informed of this plan when she came home that evening. She
received the news in silence, and after supper in silence went to her
little attic room. There as she sat upon her little bed, she realized
fully what her life would be when her uncle and aunt had gone away, and as
she compared it sadly with the happy companionship of her dear father, her
sorrow and solitude seemed too terrible to bear, and she hid her face in
her hands and gave way to bitter tears. Her uncle and aunt might die too,
she thought, and she should be left alone with no one to care for her, no
one in the world to whom she belonged, and nothing to do but to sit
forever sewing on endless shirts. For ever and ever! for she knew she must
earn her living by sewing. Well, she was quite willing to do that; but oh!
not to be left all alone.

The poor child was so wholly absorbed in these painful thoughts, as they
passed again and again through her mind, that she lost all sense of time,
till at last she was aroused, by the clock on the neighboring tower
striking so many times that she was frightened. She raised her head. It
was perfectly dark. Her little candle had burned out, and not a glimmer of
light came from the street. But the stars; yes, there were the five stars
above still shining so joyfully, that it seemed to Dora as if her father
were looking down upon her with loving eyes, and saying cheeringly,

    "God holds us in his hand
    God knows the best to send."

The sparkling starlight sank deep into her heart, and made it lighter. She
grew calmer. Her father knew, she said to herself, she would trust his
knowledge, and not fear what the future might hold in store. And after she
laid her head on her pillow, she kept her eyes fixed upon the beautiful
stars until they closed in sleep.

On the following evening the doctor came as he had promised. He began to
suggest various places to Uncle Titus, but Aunt Ninette assured him rather
curtly, that she was already on the track of something that promised to be
satisfactory. There were a great many things to be taken into
consideration, she said, since Uncle Titus was to make so vast a change in
his habits. The utmost prudence must be exercised in the selection of the
situation, and of the house also. This was her present business, and when
everything was settled she would inform the doctor of her arrangements.

"Very well, only don't be long about it; be off as soon as you can, the
quicker the better," said the physician warningly, and he was making a
hasty retreat, when he almost fell over little Dora who had stolen so
quietly into the room that he had not seen her.

"There, there, I hope I did not hurt you," he said, tapping the frightened
child upon the shoulder. "It will do this thin little creature a world of
good too, this trip to Switzerland," he continued. "She must drink plenty
of milk,--lots of milk."

"We have decided to leave Dora behind," remarked Aunt Ninette drily.

"As you please; it is your affair, Mrs. Ehrenreich; but you must let me
observe that if you do not look out, you will have another case on your
hands, as bad as your husband's, if not worse. Good-morning madam," and he
vanished.

"Doctor, doctor! what do you mean? What did you say?" cried Aunt Ninette
in her most plaintive tone, running down the stairs to overtake him.

"I mean that the little person up there has quite too little good blood in
her veins, and that she cannot last long, unless she gets more and better
nourishment."

"For heaven's sake! What unfortunate people we are!" cried Mrs.
Ehrenreich, wringing her hands in distress, as she came back into her
husband's room. "My dearest Titus, just lay down your pen for one moment.
You did not hear the dreadful things the doctor said would happen to
Dora, if she did not have more and better blood?"

"Oh, take her with us to Switzerland. She never makes any noise," and
Uncle Titus went on with his writing.

"My dearest Titus, how can you decide such a thing in one second? To be
sure she never makes any noise, and that is the most important thing. But
there are so many other things to consider, and arrange for, and think
over! Oh dear! Oh dear me!"

But Uncle Titus was again absorbed in his work, and paid not the slightest
heed to his wife's lamentations. So, seeing that she could expect no help
from him, she went into her own room, thought everything over carefully
again and again, and at last decided that it was best to follow the
doctor's advice, and take Dora with them.

In a day or two the expected letter came from Hamburg. It was very short.
The old uncle knew nothing about his brother's residence in Switzerland,
now thirty years back. Tannenburg was certainly quiet enough, for his
brother had always complained of the want of society there, and that was
all he knew about it. But this was satisfactory so far, and Aunt Ninette
decided at once to write to the clergyman at Tannenburg for farther
particulars. Solitude and quiet! this was just what Uncle Titus needed.

This second letter brought an immediate answer which confirmed her hopes.
"Tannenburg is a small place, with scattered houses," wrote the clergyman.
"There is just such a dwelling as you describe, now ready for lodgers. It
is occupied by the widow of the school-teacher, an elderly and very worthy
woman, who has two good-sized rooms and a little bed-room which she will
be glad to let." And the widow's address was added, in case Mrs.
Ehrenreich should wish farther information.

Mrs. Ehrenreich wrote immediately, setting forth her wishes at full length
and in great detail. She expressed her satisfaction that the houses in
Tannenburg were so far apart, and she hoped that the one in question was
not situated in such a way as to be undesirable for the residence of an
invalid. She wished to make sure that there was in the vicinity no smithy,
no locksmith, no stables, no stone-breaker's yard, no slaughter-house nor
mill, no school, and particularly no waterfall.

The answer from the widow, very prettily expressed, contained the
agreeable assurance, that not one of these dreaded nuisances was to be
found in her neighborhood. The school and the mill were so far away that
not a sound could reach her dwelling from either, and there was no
waterfall in that part of the country. Also there was not a house to be
seen far or near, except the large residence of Mr. Birkenfeld, standing
surrounded by beautiful gardens, fields and meadows. The Birkenfelds were
the most respected family in the neighborhood. He was a member of every
committee, and was a most benevolent man, and his wife was full of good
works. The widow added that she herself owed a great deal to the kindness
of this family, particularly with regard to her little house which was
their property, and which Mr. Birkenfeld had allowed her to occupy ever
since her husband's death. He had proved to be the kindest of landlords.

After a letter like this there was no need for farther delay; everything
had been provided for. Dora now heard for the first time that she was to
go with them, and with a light heart and a willing hand, she packed the
heavy materials for six large shirts, which she was to make while they
were in Switzerland. The prospect of sewing on the shirts in a new place,
and with different surroundings, excited her so much that she looked on it
all as a holiday. At last all was ready. The trunks and chests were
carried down to the street door, and the servant-girl was sent out for a
cabman with a hand-cart, to take them away.

Dora had been ready for a long time, and stood at the head of the stairs
with beating heart filled with expectations of all the new things that she
was to see for the next six weeks. The idea of this coming freedom almost
overcame her with its bewildering delight, after all those long, long days
in the seamstress' little, stifling room.

At last her uncle and aunt came from their room laden with innumerable
umbrellas and parasols, baskets and bundles, got down stairs with some
difficulty, and mounted the carriage that was waiting below. And they were
fairly off for the country,--and quiet.



CHAPTER III.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HEDGE.


Mr. Birkenfeld's large house was situated on the summit of a green hill
with a lovely view across a lake to a richly-wooded valley beyond. From
early spring to the end of autumn, flowers of every hue glistened and
glowed in the bright sunshine that seemed always to lie on those lovely
meadows. Near the house was the stable, in which stamped four spirited
horses, and there, also, many shining cows stood at their cribs,
peacefully chewing the fragrant grass with which they were well-supplied
by the careful Battiste, an old servant who had served the family for many
years. When Hans, the stable-boy, and all the other servants were away,
busy on the estate, it was Battiste's habit to walk round from time to
time through the stalls, to make sure that all was as it should be. For he
knew all about the right management of horses and cattle, having been in
the service of Mr. Birkenfeld's father when he was a mere lad. Now that he
was well on in years, he had been advanced to the position of
house-servant, but he still had an eye upon the stable and over the whole
farm. The mows were neatly filled with sweet-smelling hay, and the bins
were piled full of wheat and oats and barley, all the product of the farm,
which extended over the hill-side far away into the valley below. On the
side of the house opposite the barnyards stood the wash-house with its
spacious drying-ground, and not far away, but quite concealed by a high
hedge from the house and garden, was the tiny cottage which the owner had
kindly allowed the school-master's widow to occupy for several years past.

On the evening of which we write, the warm sunlight lay softly on the
hillside, revealing the red and white daisies which nestled everywhere in
the rich green grass. A shaggy dog was basking in the open space before
the house door, lazily glancing about now and then to see what was
stirring. All was quiet, however, and he peacefully dozed again after each
survey. Occasionally a young, gray cat peeped slily forth from beneath the
door-step, stared at the motionless sleeper and cautiously withdrew again.
Everything denoted peace and quiet except certain sounds of voices and of
great activity which proceeded from the back of the house, where the door
leading into the garden, stood open.

Presently wheels were heard, and a wagon drove up and stopped before the
door of the widow's cottage. The dog opened his eyes and pointed his ears,
but it was evidently not worth while to growl at something in the next
place, so he dozed off again at once. The newly-arrived guests descended
from the carriage, and entered the cottage in silence. There they were
cordially welcomed by Mrs. Kurd, and shown to the rooms reserved for them,
and soon Aunt Ninette was busy in the large chamber unpacking her big
trunk, while Dora in her little bedroom soon emptied her little box and
put her clothes in the other room, which was to be his study, Uncle Titus
also sat at a square table, busy placing his writing materials in
readiness for work. Dora ran again and again to the window, whence she saw
very different sights from any she had ever looked upon before. Green
fields sprinkled with many-colored flowers, the blue lake, the snow-capped
mountains in the distance, and over all, the enchantment of the
golden-green light from the setting sun. The child could scarcely tear
herself away from the window. She did not know that the world could be so
beautiful. But her aunt soon recalled her from her wonderment, for there
were still things to be put away which belonged to her, but had been
brought in her aunt's trunk.

"Oh, Aunt Ninette," cried the child, "Isn't it perfectly beautiful?"

She spoke louder than she had ever thought of speaking in Uncle Titus'
house, for the new scenes had aroused her natural sprightliness, and she
was herself once more.

"Hush, hush Dora! Why, I don't know what to make of you, child! Don't you
know that your uncle is in the next room, and is already at work?"

Dora took her things from her aunt's hands, but while passing the window,
she asked softly,

"May I just look out of these windows a minute now, Aunt? I want to see
what there is on every side of the house."

"Yes, yes, you may look out for a moment. There is nobody about. A quiet
garden lies beyond the hedge. From the other window you see the big open
space in front of the great house. Nothing else but the sleeping
watch-dog before the door. I hope he is always as quiet. You may look out
there too, if you like."

Dora first opened the window towards the garden; a delicious odor of
jasmine and mignonette was wafted into the room from the flower-beds
below. The high green hedge stretched away for a long distance, and beyond
it she could see green sward and flower-beds and shady bowers. How lovely
it must be over there! There was no one in sight, but some one certainly
must have been there, for by the door of the house rose a wonderful
triumphal arch, made of two tall bean-poles tied together at the top, and
thickly covered with fir-branches. A large piece of card-board hung down
from the arch, and swung back and forth in the wind, and something was
written on it in big letters.

Suddenly a noise resounded from the open space in front of the great
house. Dora ran to the other window and peeped out. A carriage stood there
and two brown horses there stamping impatiently in their traces. A crowd
of children came bursting out of the door of the house, all together; one,
two, three, four, five, six, both boys and girls. "I, I, I must get upon
the box," cried each one, and all together, louder and louder at every
word; while in the midst of the crowd, the great dog began to jump upon
first one child and then another, barking joyfully in his excitement. Such
a noise had probably not greeted Aunt Ninette's ears within the memory of
man.

"What is the matter, in heaven's name," cried she, almost beside herself.
"What sort of a place have we come to?"

"Oh Aunty, look! see; they are all getting into the carriage," cried Dora,
who was enchanted at the sight. Such a merry party she had never seen
before.

One lad jumped upon the wheel, and clambered nimbly to a seat on the box
beside the driver, from which he reached down his hand towards the dog,
who was jumping and barking with delight.

"Come Schnurri, you can come too," cried the boy at the top of his lungs,
at the same time catching at the dog, now by his tail, now by his paw, and
again by his thick hair, until the driver leaned down and pulled the
creature up beside them, with a strong swing. Meantime the eldest boy
lifted a little girl from the ground, and jumped her into the carriage,
and two younger boys, one slender, the other round as a ball, began to
clamor, "Me too, Jule, me too, a big high one! me higher still!" and they
shouted with glee, as they too were lifted up and deposited on the seat.
Then Jule helped the older girl into the carriage, jumped in himself, and
gave the door a good smart bang, for "big Jule" had strong muscles. The
horses started; but now another cry arose.

"If Schnurri is going, I can take Philomele with me. Trine! Trine! bring
me Philomele, I want to take Philomele!" shouted the little girl as loud
as she could call.

The young, strong-fisted servant-maid who now appeared in the door-way,
grasped the situation at once. She seized the gray cat that stood on the
stone step casting angry looks at Schnurri, and flung her into the
carriage. The whip cracked, and off they rolled.

Aunt Ninette hastened into her husband's room in great alarm, not knowing
what effect all this disturbance would have upon him. He was sitting
calmly at his table, with all the windows in the room closed and fastened.

"My dear Titus! who could have foreseen this? What shall we do?" she
called out in tones of despair.

"It strikes me that the next house has a great wealth of children. We
cannot help that, but we can keep the windows shut," replied her husband
resignedly.

"But, my dearest Titus, only remember that you have come here expressly
to breathe the healthy mountain air! As you never go out, you must let the
air come in to you. But what will be the end if this is the beginning?
What will become of us if this goes on?"

"We must go home again," said Uncle Titus, continuing to write.

Somewhat calmed by this proposition, Aunt Ninette returned to her room.

Dora had been very busy, putting her little room in perfect order, for she
had formed a plan, which she meant to carry out as soon as this was done.
The happy noise of the six children had so excited the lonely little girl
that she was filled with the strongest desire to see them come back again,
to see them get out of the carriage, and to see what would happen next;
whether they wouldn't perhaps come into the garden where the triumphal
arch stood, and then she could have a nearer view. She had made a little
plan for watching them if they came into the garden. She thought that she
might perhaps find a hole in the hedge that divided Mrs. Kurd's little
garden from the large grounds next door, through which she could get a
good view of what the children were doing, and how they looked. The child
did not know what Aunt Ninette would say to this, but she determined to
ask directly. At the door of her aunt's room she met Mrs. Kurd, who had
come to call them to supper. Dora made her request then and there, to be
allowed to go into the little garden, but her aunt said that it was now
supper time, and after supper it would be quite too late. Mrs. Kurd put
in a word in Dora's favor, saying that no one would be out there, and it
would be safe for Dora to run about there as much as she chose, and at
last Aunt Ninette consented to allow her to go out for a while after
supper. The child could scarcely eat, so great was her excitement. She
listened all the while for the sound of the returning wheels and the
children's voices, but nothing was to be heard. When supper was over, her
aunt said,

"You may go out now for a little while, but don't go far from the house."

Dora promised not to leave the garden, and ran off to search the hedge for
the opening she wanted. It was a white-thorn hedge, and so high and thick
that the child could see neither through it nor over it, but down near
the ground were here and there thin places, where one could look into the
next garden; but only by lying close on the ground. Little did Dora mind
that; her one idea was to see the children. She had never seen so large a
family, boys and girls, big and little, and all so happy and merry. And to
have seen them all climbing into the carriage and driving off together!
What a jolly party! She lay down on the ground in a little heap, and
peered through the hedge. There was nothing to be heard; the garden beyond
was still; the odor of the flowers was wafted to her on the cool, evening
air, and she felt as if she could not get enough of it into her lungs. How
beautiful it must be in there, she thought; to be able to walk about among
the flower-beds! to sit under the tree where the red apples were hanging!
And there under the thick branches stood a table, covered with all sorts
of things which she could not see plainly, but which shimmered white as
snow in the evening light. She was quite absorbed in wonder and curiosity,
when--there--that was the carriage, and all the merry voices talking
together. The children had returned. Dora could hear very plainly. Now all
was still again; they had gone into the house. Now they were coming out
again; now they were in the garden.

Mr. Birkenfeld had just returned from a long journey. The children had all
gone down to the lake, to meet him at the landing when the steamboat came
in. Their mother had remained at home to complete the preparations for
the grand reception and the feast in the garden under the big apple-tree.
The father's home-coming after so long an absence was a very joyful
occasion for the family, and must be celebrated as such.

As soon as the carriage stopped at the door, the mother came running out
to meet her husband. All the children jumped down, one after another, and
the cat and the dog too, and they all crowded into the large hall, where
the welcomings and greetings grew so loud and so violent that the father
hardly knew where he was, nor which way to turn as they all pressed about
him.

"Now one at a time, my children, and then I can give you each a good
kiss," he said at last, when he succeeded in making himself heard through
the tumult, "first the youngest, and then the others according to age.
Now, my little Hunne, what have you to tell me?"

So saying, Mr. Birkenfeld drew his chubby five-year old boy to his knees.
The child's name was Hulreich, but as he had always called himself Hunne,
the other children and the parents had adopted the nick-name. Moreover,
Julius, the eldest brother, declared that the baby's little stumpy nose
made him look like a Hun, and so the name was very appropriate. But his
mother would not admit the resemblance.

The little one had so much to tell his father, that there was not time to
wait for the end of his story, and it had to be cut short.

"Bye and bye, little Hunne, you shall tell me all about it. Now it is
time for Wili and Lili." And giving the twins each a kiss he asked them,
"Well now, have you been very good and happy? and obedient, too, all this
long time?"

"Almost always," replied Wili rather timidly, while Lili, recalling
certain deviations from perfect obedience during her father's absence,
thought it best not to make any answer. The twins were eight years old,
and perfectly inseparable, never more so than in planning and carrying out
various delightful plans, of whose mischievousness they were really only
half conscious.

"And you, Rolf, how is it with you?" said the father, turning to a
twelve-year old lad with a high forehead, and a strong, firm neck. "Plenty
of Latin learned? More new puzzles ready?"

"I have been doing both, father," said the boy. "But the children will not
guess my riddles, and my mother has not time to try."

"That is too bad," said his father, kindly and turning to the eldest
daughter, a girl of nearly thirteen, he drew her to his side and said
tenderly,

"And you Paula, are you still alone in your garden walks? have you no dear
friend with you yet?"

"No, of course not, father, but it is beautiful to have you at home
again," she answered as she embraced him.

"And I hope my 'big Jule,' is using his vacation in some sensible way?"

"I combine the agreeable with the useful," said Julius gaily, returning
his father's embrace. "You must know, father, that the hazel-nuts are
almost ripe and I am watching them carefully, and meantime I am riding
Castor a good deal, so that he may not grow too lazy."

Julius was at home now only for the summer holidays, his school being in a
distant town. He was seventeen, and tall, even too tall for his years so
that in the family he was generally called "Big Jule."

Mr. Birkenfeld now turned to shake hands with the children's governess and
the dear friend of the family, Miss Hanenwinkel, when Jule interrupted
him.

"Come papa, I beg that you will do the rest of your greetings in the
garden, where a most astonishing reception awaits you."

But his words cost him dear, for Wili and Lili sprang upon him as he
spoke, pinching, pounding and thumping him to give him to understand that
the "surprise" was not a thing to be talked about beforehand. He defended
himself to the best of his ability.

"Lili, you little gad-fly, you, stop, stop, I tell you. I will make it all
right," and he shouted to his father,

"I mean you are to go into the garden where my mother has prepared all
sorts of delicious things for your supper, to celebrate your return."

"That is delightful. We shall find a big table spread under my favorite
apple-tree. That is a surprise worth having. Come then let us all go into
the garden."

He drew his wife's arm in his, and they walked out to the garden, the
whole swarm following, Wili and Lili capering about in most noisy delight
that their father should suppose that he knew what the "surprise" was
already.

As they passed out into the garden they passed under the great triumphal
arch, with red lanterns hung on each side, lighting up the large tablet,
on which was an inscription in big letters.

"Oh, oh, how splendid!" cried the father, now really surprised, "a
beautiful arch and a poem of welcome. I must read them aloud:"

    "Here we stand in welcome
        Beside the garden door,
     How glad we are that you're at home!
        We feared you'd come no more,
     So long you've stayed--but now to-day
        Forgot is all our pain.
     The whole world now is glad and gay,
        Papa is here again!"

"That is fine--Rolf must have been the author of that, was he not?" and
Wili and Lili jumped about more than ever, crying out,

"Yes, yes, Rolf wrote it, but we planned it all out and he made the
verses, and Jule put up the poles and then we fetched the fir twigs."

"That was a delightful surprise, my children," said their father, much
gratified. "How pretty the garden looks, all lighted up with red and blue
and yellow lanterns. It looks like an enchanted spot, and now for my
favorite apple-tree."

The garden did look very pretty. The little paper lanterns had been made
up a long time before, and this very morning Jule had fastened them about
on all the trees and high bushes, and while the hand-shaking and kissing
had been going on in the house, Battiste and Trine had lighted the
candles. The big apple-tree was dotted all over with them, so that it
looked like a huge out-of-doors Christmas tree, and the red apples shone
so prettily in the flickering light, that altogether it would have been
difficult to imagine a more charming scene.

The table, spread with a white cloth and loaded with all sorts of nice
dishes, looked irresistibly attractive.

"What a beautiful banquet-hall," cried the delighted father, "and how good
the feast will taste! But what is this? Another poem?" and to be sure, a
large white placard hung by two cords from the high bushes behind the
apple-tree, and on it were the following lines:

    "My first is good for man to be--
            Better than wealth.
     My second we have longed to see
            Our father do in health.
     My whole with merry hearts we cry
     Today, and shout it to the sky."

"A riddle! Rolf made this too, I am sure," said he, clapping the boy
kindly on the shoulder. "I will begin to guess it as soon as I can. Now we
must sit down and enjoy these good things before us, and the pleasure of
being all together again."

So they all took their places at the table, and each had his or her own
story to tell of what had happened, and what had been done during the
separation. There was so much to say that there seemed no chance for a
pause.

At last however, came a silence, when lo! Mr. Birkenfeld drew a huge
bundle from beneath his chair, and began to open the wrapper, while the
children looked on with the greatest interest, knowing very well that that
bundle held some gift for each one of them. First came a pair of shining
spurs for "big Jule," then a lovely book with blue covers for Paula. Next
a long bow with a quiver and two feather arrows. "This is for Rolf," said
the father, adding as he showed the boy the sharp points of the arrows,
"and for Rolf only, for he knows how to use it properly. It is not a
plaything, and Wili and Lili must never dream of playing with it, for they
might easily hurt themselves and others with it."

There was a beautiful Noah's Ark for the twins, with fine large animals
all in pairs, and Noah's family, all the men with walking-sticks and all
the women with parasols, all ready for use whenever they should leave the
ark.

Last of all, little Hunne had a wonderfully constructed nutcracker, that
made a strange grimace as if he were lamenting all the sins of the world.
He opened his big jaws as if he were howling, and when they were snapped
together, he gnashed his teeth as if in despair, and cracked a nut in two
without the slightest trouble so that the kernel fell right out from the
shell.

The children were full of admiration over both their own and each others'
presents, and their joy and gratitude broke out afresh at every new
inspection of each.

At last the mother stood up and said that they must all go into the
house, for it was long after the children's usual bed-time. At this their
father arose, and called out,

"Who has guessed the charade?"

Not one had even thought of it, except to be sure, the author.

"Well, I have guessed it myself," said their father, as no one spoke. "It
must be 'welcome,' is it not, Rolf? I will touch glasses with you, my boy,
and thank you very much for your charade."

Just as Rolf was raising his glass towards his father's to drink his
health, a terrible shriek arose, "It is burning, it is burning!" Everybody
ran from under the apple-tree; Battiste and Trine came from the house with
tubs and buckets, Hans from the stable with a pail in each hand; all
screaming and shouting together.

"The bush is on fire! the hedge is on fire!" There was terrible noise and
confusion.

"Dora! Dora!" cried a voice of distress from the cottage behind the hedge,
and Dora rose from her hiding place and hurried into the house. She had
been so completely absorbed by what had been taking place under the
apple-tree, though indeed she saw and heard but imperfectly, that she had
entirely forgotten everything else, and it was full two hours that she had
been lying all doubled up in the gap under the hedge.

Her aunt was flying back and forth, complaining and scolding. She had
collected all her things from the drawers and the presses, and heaped them
together, ready for flight.

"Aunt Ninette," said the little girl timidly, for she knew she had staid
out too long, "you need not be frightened; it is all dark again in the
garden; the fire is all out."

Her aunt cast a rapid glance from the window, and saw that this was true;
everything was dark, even the last lantern extinguished. Some one was
moving about among the trees, evidently to make sure that all was safe.

"This is too terrible! Who would have believed that such things could
happen?" said Aunt Ninette, half scolding, half-whimpering. "Go to bed now
Dora. To-morrow we will move away, and find another house, or leave the
place altogether."

The child obeyed quickly, and went up to her little bedroom, but it was
long, very long, before she could sleep. She still saw the illuminated
garden, the sparkling apple tree, and the father and mother with their
happy children gathered about them. She thought of the time when she too
could tell her father everything, and the thought doubled her sense of her
own loneliness, and of the happiness of those other children.

And the child had become so much interested in the life beyond the hedge,
and so almost fond of that good father and mother, whom she had been
watching, that the thought of going away again as her aunt threatened, was
a very sad one. She could not go to sleep. Presently she seemed to see the
children with their kind father again, and her own father was standing
with them, and she heard these words,

    "God holds us in his hand,
    God knows the best to send."

And so she fell asleep, and in her dreams she again saw the shining
apple-tree, and the merry group under its branches.

On investigating the cause of the fire, it was discovered that Wili and
Lili had conceived the happy thought of turning the riddle into a
transparency, so that suddenly the company might see it shining with red
light behind it, like the motto behind the Christmas tree, "Glory to God
in the highest."

So they withdrew silently from the company, fetched two candles, climbed
upon some high steps, which had been brought when the placard was put in
place, and held the candles as near as possible to the card. As they did
not perceive any expression of surprise on the faces of the company at the
table, they raised their candles higher and higher, nearer and nearer,
until the paste-board suddenly took fire, and the flame quickly spread to
the bushes above.

The twins readily confessed themselves the cause of the mischief, and were
sent to bed with but a gentle reproof, so as not to spoil the general
effect of the festivity, but they were seriously warned never to play with
fire again as long as they lived.

Soon all was quiet in the great house, and the moon looked peacefully down
on the trees and the sleeping flowers in the silent garden.



CHAPTER IV.

ALL SIX.


"We shall not be able to remain here; Mrs. Kurd," were the first words
spoken by Mrs. Ehrenreich when she came to breakfast the next morning. "We
have come into such an objectionable neighborhood that we must move away
today."

Mrs. Kurd stood still in the middle of the room, quite speechless, and
stared at the lady as if unable to grasp her meaning.

"I am fully convinced of the absolute necessity of our immediate
departure," said Aunt Ninette, with emphasis.

"But indeed no more respectable, no quieter spot can be found in all
Tannenburg than this. You cannot hope to be more comfortable anywhere
else; either you or the gentleman," asserted the good widow as soon as she
had recovered from her surprise.

"How can you say so, Mrs. Kurd, after hearing that intolerable uproar last
evening? noises far surpassing anything that I described to you in my
letters as 'absolutely to be avoided.'"

"Oh, my dear lady, that was only the children! You know they were having a
family festival, and they were of course unusually lively."

"Indeed! if this is your method of celebrating family festivals in these
parts, first a tempest of shouts and cries and then a fire with all its
accompanying noise and hubbub, I can only say that such a neighborhood
seems to me not only undesirable for an invalid, but positively
dangerous."

"I do not think you can call the fire a part of the celebration," said
Mrs. Kurd gently. "It was an accident, and it was very quickly
extinguished, you must admit. A more orderly and well regulated family is
nowhere to be found, and I cannot understand how the lady and gentleman
can seriously think of leaving. I can assure you that no other such spot
is to be found in all Tannenburg! If the gentleman needs quiet he will do
well to walk into the wood, where it is healthful and quiet too."

After talking awhile, Mrs. Ehrenreich became more composed, and seated
herself at the breakfast table, where Mr. Titus and Dora also took their
places.

At the other house, breakfast had long been finished. The father had gone
about his business, and the mother was occupied with her household
affairs. Rolf was off to his early recitations in Latin, with the pastor
of a neighboring parish. Paula was taking her music-lesson of the
governess, and Wili and Lili took this opportunity to look over their
lessons once more. Little Hunne sat in the corner with his newly-acquired
nut-cracker before him, gravely studying its grotesque face.

Presently 'big Jule' came in, whip in hand, all booted and spurred from
his morning ride.

"Who will pull off my riding boots?" he asked, throwing himself into a
chair, stretching out his legs, and gazing admiringly at his new spurs.
Wili and Lili sprang quickly from their seats, delighted at the chance of
doing something that was not a lesson, and each seized a foot and began to
pull with such force that before Jule knew what they were about he found
himself slipping from his chair. In the next second he had grasped the
side of his chair with the result that that also was pulled along the
floor. He called out hastily "Stop! Stop!" while little Hunne, who saw the
situation from his corner, now flew to his elder brother's assistance,
hung on to the chair from behind, planting his little feet firmly on the
ground, and throwing his weight backward as well as he knew how. His
efforts were insufficient, however, and he was dragged along the floor as
if he were on a coast. Wili and Lili were determined to finish their
undertaking, and kept on pulling and pulling.

    "Stop! Stop! Wiling and Liling
     You terrible twinning"

cried Jule, while little Hunne added his voice to swell the tumult.

At this the mother made her appearance upon the scene, and the uproar was
stilled at once. Jule swung himself panting back into his chair, and Hunne
slowly regained his equilibrium.

"My dear Jule, why do you make the children behave so badly? You ought to
know better at your age," said his mother reprovingly.

"Certainly, mother, certainly, in future I will do better, but if you
will look at it from another side, I am doing something, in affording the
twins an opportunity to be of use, instead of carrying on their usual
mischievous pranks."

"Jule, Jule, that does not look like doing better," said his mother
warningly. "Lili, go down stairs and practise your exercises until Miss
Hanenwinkel has finished Paula's music lesson. Wili, go on with your
studying, and the best thing you can do, Jule, to help me, is to amuse the
little one until I am at leisure."

The "big Jule" was ready to help to restore order after his bit of fun,
and Lili ran down stairs to the piano as she was bidden. She found herself
too much excited after the exertion of playing boot-jack for her brother,
and her exercises did not run smoothly, so she took up one of her
"pieces" to work off her superfluous energy upon, and began to play with
great emphasis,

    "Live your life merrily,
      While the lamp glows,
    Ere it can fade and die,
      Gather the rose."

Uncle Titus and his wife were just finishing their breakfast in a
neighboring house when the affair of the boots began. Uncle Titus hastened
to his room, closing the windows and fastening them against the noise. His
wife summoned their hostess rather peremptorily, and asked her "just to
listen to that" for herself. It did not seem to make much impression upon
Mrs. Kurd however, who only said smilingly,

"Oh, how merry the dear children are, to be sure," and when Aunt Ninette
went on to explain that such disturbances were the very worst thing for
her poor invalid, the hostess only again recommended the walk in the woods
for quiet and fresh air! The noise in the next house would not last long,
she said, the young gentleman would soon return to college, and it would
be much more quiet then. As she spoke, the sound of Lili's merry music
came across through the open window on the morning breeze.

"And that too, is that the work of the young gentleman, who will soon
return to college?" asked Mrs. Ehrenreich excitedly. "It is unendurable;
continually some new noise or tumult or uproar. What do you say to this
last, Mrs. Kurd?"

"I never have thought of it as noise," said the good woman simply, "the
dear child is making such progress with her music, it is a pleasure to
hear her."

"And Dora, where can Dora be? Is she bewitched too? It is time for her to
begin her sewing; where can she be? Dora! Dora! Have you gone into the
garden again?"

Aunt Ninette's voice was querulous and excited. To be sure, Dora had crept
down again to peer through her opening in the hedge, and she was now
listening as if enchanted, to Lili's gay music. She came back at once at
the sound of her aunt's voice, and took her appointed place at the window
where she was to sit and sew all day.

"Well, we cannot stay here, that is certain," said Mrs. Ehrenreich as she
left the room.

The tears started to Dora's eyes at these words. She did so long to remain
here, where she could hear and partly see now and then, the merry healthy
life of these children in the beautiful garden beyond the hedge. It was
her only knowledge of true child-life. As she sewed, she was planning and
puzzling her brain with plans for prolonging their stay, but could think
of nothing that seemed likely to be of use.

It was now eleven o'clock. Rolf came scampering home from his recitations,
and catching sight of his mother through the open door of the kitchen, he
ran to her, calling out before he reached the threshold, "Mamma, mamma,
now guess. My first--"

"My dear Rolf" interrupted his mother, "I beg of you to find some one else
to guess. I have not time now, truly. Go find Paula, she has just gone
into the sitting-room."

Rolf obeyed.

"Paula," he called out, "My first--"

"No, Rolf, please, not just now, I am looking for my blank-book to write
my French translation in. There is Miss Hanenwinkel, she is good at
guessing, ask her."

"Miss Hanenwinkel," cried poor Rolf, pouncing upon her, "My first--"

"Not a moment, not a second, Rolf," said the governess hastily. "There is
Mr. Julius over there in the corner, letting the little one crack nuts
for him. He is not busy; I am. Good-bye, I'll see you again."

Miss Hanenwinkel had been in England, and had taken a great fancy to this
form of expression much in vogue there, and she constantly used it as a
form of farewell, whether it was apropos or not. Thus she would say to the
persistent scissors-grinder, who came to the door,

"Have you come back so soon? Do go where you are wanted if there is any
such place. Good-bye. I'll see you again," and shut the door with a slam.

Or to the traveling agent who brought his wares to show, if asked to
dismiss him, she would say,

"We want nothing; you know very well. Don't come here again. Good-bye.
I'll see you again," and shut the door in his face. This was a
peculiarity of Miss Hanenwinkel.

Julius was quietly seated in a corner of the sitting-room, while Hunne
stood before him watching with grave attention his nut-cracker's desperate
grimaces as he gave him nut after nut to crack in his powerful jaws. Hunne
carefully divided each kernel, giving one half to Jule, while he popped
the other into his own little mouth.

Rolf approached them, repeating his question, "Will you guess, Jule? You
are not busy."

    "My first in France, applaudingly
        The people to the actors cry:
     With steady aim full in the eye,
        To hit my second you must try;
     My whole's a prince of prowess high,
        Who fought the fight for Germany."

"That is Bismarck, of course," said the quick-witted lad.

"O, O, how quickly you guessed it," said Rolf, quite taken aback.

"Now it is my turn; pay attention. You must try hard for this now. I have
just made it up." And Jule declaimed with emphasis:

    "My first transforms the night,
        And puts its peace to flight.
     My second should you now become,
        You scarce will move, for fife or drum.
     My whole hath power to soothe you all,
        Be your delight in church, or camp, or ball."

"That is hard," said Rolf, who was rather a slow thinker. "Wait a moment,
Jule, I shall get it soon." So Rolf sat down on an ottoman to think it
over at his ease.

The big Jule and the little Hunne in the mean time pursued their
occupation without interruption. As an extra proof of his skill, Julius
practised with the shells at hitting different objects in the room, to his
little brother's delight and admiration.

"I have it," cried Rolf at last, much delighted. "It is Cat-nip!"

"O, O, what a guess! what are you thinking of? It is something very
different, entirely different. It is music. Mew--sick--music, don't you
see?"

"Oh, yes," said Rolf rather abashed. "Now wait Jule, here's another. What
is this?"

    "My first sings by the water side,
     My next is Heidelberg's great pride,
     My whole was a blind poet, who
     In England lived and suffered too."

"Shakspere," said Julius, whose pride it was to answer instantly.

"Wrong," cried Rolf, delighted. "How could a _shake_ sing by the water
side, Jule?"

"Oh, I supposed you meant a shake in somebody's voice, as he was riding or
driving along," said Jule, to justify himself. "Now what are you laughing
at?"

"Because you have made such a wrong guess. It is some one 'very different,
entirely different,' Jule. It is Milton, the blind poet Milton. Now try
another because you failed in this. My first"--

"No, no, I must beg for a rest. It is too much brain work for vacation. I
am going now to see how Castor is after my ride this morning." And Julius
dashed off to the stable.

"Oh, what a shame!" cried Rolf, "what a pity! Now there is no one to
guess, and I made four splendid charades on my way home. It is too bad
that you are not old enough to guess, Hunne."

"But I can guess; I am old enough," said the little fellow rather vexed.

"Well, then try this one, try hard. Stop playing with the nuts and I will
crack some more for you bye and bye. Now listen:

    "My first conceals from light of day
     The wanderer on his final way;
     My second sizzling in the pan,
     Makes hungrier still the hungry man;
     My whole, bedecked in trappings gay,
     Goes ambling on the livelong day."

"A nutcracker," said Hunne without hesitation. Julius was his beau-ideal
of all that was best, and he thought that if he imitated Jule, and
answered quickly the first thing that came into his head, that was
guessing.

But Rolf was angry.

"How can you be so stupid, Hunne? Just think about it a little, can a nut
cover some one on his last way?"

"Why, it can cover--well--the shell covers it."

"Nonsense! and a nutcracker can not go ambling all day, can it, you stupid
child."

"Now see, mine can," said the little boy, who did not like to be called
stupid, and he tied his handkerchief round the neck of the long suffering
nutcracker and dragged it after him up and down the room, lifting it up
now and then at regular intervals.

"Oh well, yes, you think you're right; and I can't explain it because you
don't understand anything about it. Just try to think a little; can you
hear a cracker sizzling as its cooks, and will it make you hungry to hear
it?"

"If I throw a cracker into the fire, won't it burn?" said the child,
planting himself before Rolf and holding his nutcracker saucily before his
eyes.

"Oh, there is no use talking to you," said Rolf, and was just about
leaving the room, but this was not so easily done, for now Hunne was
bitten with the mania for riddle-making himself.

"Stop, Rolf," he cried and grasped his brother by the jacket to hold him.
"My first is not good to drink but to eat--"

"Oh dear, well, that must be 'nutcracker' again," and Rolf ran off,
wrenching himself from his tormentor's hands. But the boy followed him,
crying, "Wrong, wrong! you are wrong. Try again, try again!"

Moreover, Wili and Lili came scampering in from the other side, crying
out,

"Rolf, Rolf, a riddle! guess! try!" and Lili held up a strip of paper and
rattled it before Rolfs eyes, repeating, "Guess, guess, Rolf."

So the riddle-maker was now caught in his own meshes.

"Well, at least leave me room to guess in," cried he, striking about him
with his arms to make room.

"You can't guess anything," cried little Hunne contemptuously, "I am going
to Jule--he knows."

Rolf took the little slip of yellowish paper that Lili was waving back and
forth, and looked at it in surprise. In a childish hand-writing that he
had never seen before, were written the following words,

    "Come lay your hand
     Joined thus we
     Each the other
     That our union
     But behold the
     That our future
     We will cut our
     Half for you and
     But we still will
     That our halves
     And with us
     Our friendship."

"It is probably a rebus," said Rolf thoughtfully. "I shall guess it after
a little while. Just let me stay alone long enough to think it out."

There was not much time left for this however, for the dinner-bell sounded
and all the family assembled in the large hall for the mid-day meal.

"What nice thing has my little Hunne done to-day?" asked the father, when
they were at last all busy over their plates.

"I made a splendid riddle, Papa, but Rolf never tries to guess my riddles,
and I couldn't find Jule, and the rest would not listen to me at all."

"Yes, Papa," interrupted Rolf! "and I too have made three or four splendid
ones, but no one has time to guess them, and those who have time enough
are so stupid that there is no use in trying to get any answer from them.
When Jule has guessed one he thinks he has done enough, and I can make at
least six in a day."

"Yes, yes, Papa"--it was now Wili's and Lili's turn--"and we have found
such a hard riddle, so hard that even Rolf couldn't guess it. It is really
a rebus."

"If you will wait long enough I can get it, I am sure," said Rolf.

"We seem to have a riddle in every comer," said their father. "I believe
we have a riddle-fever, and one catches it from another. We really need a
regular guesser in the house, to do nothing but guess riddles."

"I wish I could find such a person," said Rolf, sighing, for to be forever
making riddles for somebody who would listen with interest and guess with
intelligence, seemed to him the most desirable thing in the world.

When dinner was over, the family went merrily into the garden under the
apple-tree, and seated themselves in a circle. The mother and Miss
Hanenwinkel and the girls were armed with sewing and knitting work. Little
Hunne also had a queer-looking bit of stuff in his hand upon which he was
trying to work with some red worsted. He said he wanted to embroider a
horse-blanket for Jule. Jule had brought a book at his mother's request,
to read aloud to them.

Rolf sat a little way off under the ash-tree, and studied his Latin
lesson. Wili sat by his side, meaning to study his little piece, but first
he looked at the birds in the branches, and then at the laborers in the
field, and then at the red apples upon the tree, for Wili loved visible
things, and it was only with the greatest difficulty, and generally with
Lili's assistance, that he could get the invisible into his little head.
Consequently, his afternoon study usually turned to a continuous
observation of the surrounding landscape.

Jule also seemed inclined to pass his time in looking about him instead
of reading aloud, for he did not open his book, but allowed his eyes to
wander in all directions, particularly towards his sister.

"Paula," he said at last, "the expression of your countenance to-day is as
if you were a wandering collection of vexations."

"Oh, do read to us, Jule; then we shall have something more agreeable than
these similes which nobody can understand the meaning of."

"It would be nicer if you would read, Jule," added her mother, "but I must
say too, Paula, that you have been for the last few days so short and
snappish that I should really like to know what is amiss with you. You
seem out of sorts with every one about you."

"But mamma, with whom can I have any real companionship? I have not a
single friend in all Tannenburg. I have nobody in all the world with whom
I can be intimate."

The mother suggested that Paula might be a little more friendly with her
sister Lili, and also with Miss Hanenwinkel. But Paula declared, that Lili
was much too young, and the governess much too old. The latter was really
only twenty, but to Paula she seemed very old indeed. For girls to be
intimate, she declared they must be of the same age, so that they could
thoroughly understand each other's feelings, and they must be always
together. Without such a friend Paula said there was no real pleasure in
life, for a girl needed some one to whom she could confide her secrets,
and who would tell her own in return.

"Yes, Paula is at the romantic age," said her brother. "I am sure that for
a long time she has peeped into every field flower to see if it would not
suddenly unfurl a hidden banner, and turn into a Joan of Arc. Every little
mole that she sees in the fields, she half suspects may wear a seal-ring
on his little finger, and be a Gustavus Vasa in disguise, searching amid
the mole-hills for his lost kingdom."

"Do not be so teasing, Jule," said his mother reprovingly. "There is
certainly something very delightful in such an intimacy as Paula
describes. I had such an experience myself, and the memory of that happy
time is dear to me even now!"

"Oh, do tell us again about your dear friend Lili, mamma," exclaimed
Paula, who had often heard her mother speak of this intimate friendship,
and had indeed formed her own ideal upon that model. Lili also joined her
sister in begging for the story, and even more urgently, for she knew
nothing about this friend, although she bore the same name.

"Was not I named for her, mamma?" she asked, and her mother assented. "You
all know the long manufactory under the hill," continued Mrs. Birkenfeld,
"with the large house surrounded by a beautiful garden. Lili, my friend,
lived there, and I remember very well the first time I ever saw her.

"I was about six years old, and I was playing one day in the parsonage
garden with my simple dolls, which I set up on flat stones, that I always
collected for seats for my children, whenever and wherever I found them.
For I had no such outfit for my dolls as you children have now, no sofas
and chairs and other furniture. You all know that your grandfather was the
pastor in Tannenburg, and we led a very simple life at the parsonage. My
playmates, two of the neighbors' children, were standing as usual by me
and staring at me while I played, without saying one word. They never
seemed to take the interest in my plays that I thought they deserved. They
stood and looked at me with their big eyes, no matter what I did, and it
was very annoying to me.

"Well, this evening, I was sitting there, on the ground, with my dolls all
placed in a circle, when a lady came into the garden and asked to see my
father. Before I could reply, a child whom she was leading by the hand,
came running to my side, squatted down by me, and began to examine
everything. I had so arranged my stones that each flat one had another
stuck into the ground edgewise behind it, so that the doll could be placed
leaning back against it as if it were a chair. The child was delighted
with this arrangement, and joined in my play at once with the liveliest
interest, while on my side I was so charmed with the little stranger's
looks and ways, with her pretty floating curls and her sweet voice that I
forgot everything else, and looked on bewitched, while she made the dolls
say and do all sorts of things that I had never thought of before. I was
quite startled when the lady again asked where she could find my father.

"From that day forth Lili and I were inseparable friends, and a rich and
happy life was opened to me in her lovely home, such as I had never known
nor thought of. I shall never forget the delightful, untroubled days which
I spent in that beautiful house. I was almost as much loved and petted as
if I had been Lili's own sister. Her parents had come from North Germany.
Her father had been induced to buy the factory by the advice of an
acquaintance, and they expected to remain permanently in our neighborhood.
Lili was an only child, and having been hitherto without companionship of
her own age, she clung to me very closely, and I returned her affection
with equal fervor.

"What good, kind people her parents were! They asked as a great favor that
I might make long visits at their house, and my parents allowed me to
pass weeks at a time with my newly found friends. Those visits seemed to
me like prolonged festivals. Such lovely toys and playthings as Lili had!
I had never even dreamed of anything like them. I shall never forget the
innumerable figures cut from fashion plates which we used for paper dolls!
We each had a large family of them, with all their kindred and relatives,
each one fitted with a name, a character and a story of its own. We
almost, nay quite, lived in their imaginary lives, and we shared their
joys and sorrows as if they had been real.

"I always returned home laden with gifts, and I was scarcely settled there,
when new requests came that I would repeat the visit. When we were a
little older we had lessons together, both from a regular teacher and
from my father, and when we began to read together, the heroes and
heroines of our books were as real to us as our dolls had been, and we
lived over their lives and histories again and again. What life and energy
Lili had; what freshness and vivacity; my charming Lili, with her flowing
brown curls and her laughing eyes!

"So the years passed, and no thought of coming sorrow and separation
crossed our young lives, until one day, when we were nearly twelve years
old, my father told me--I remember the very spot in the garden where we
were standing at that moment--that Mr. Blank, Lili's father, was about to
give up his factory and return to Germany. As I understood, Mr. Blank had
been deceived from the very beginning; the business was not in the
prosperous condition that had been represented to him, and now he was
obliged to give it up, to his great loss. My father was very much
disturbed, and he declared that Mr. Blank had been very badly treated, and
was consequently ruined.

"I was broken-hearted. To lose Lili, and to have her lose all her property,
were two things which made my life unhappy for a long, long time. The very
next day she came to say good-bye. We cried bitterly, for we could not
bear to think of living apart, we were so necessary to each other's
happiness. We promised to be always true to each other, and to use every
effort to meet again; and then we sat down together and composed a last
poem, for we had often written verses together. We cut the poem in
halves, and took each a half to keep as a token of our lasting union, and
as a sign of recognition when we should some day meet again.

"Lili went away. We wrote to each other for several years, and our
friendship continued as fervent as ever. These letters were the only drops
of comfort in the monotonous loneliness of my life after I lost Lili. When
I was about seventeen, I received a letter which told me that her father
had decided to go to America. She promised to write again as soon as they
were settled in their new life. I never heard from her again. Whether her
letters were lost, or whether the family never staid long enough in one
place for her to be able to give me an address, or whether Lili thought
that our lives were now so irrevocably separated that we could never hope
to resume our intimacy--these are questions that I have often asked
myself, but that of course I have had no means of deciding. Perhaps Lili
is no longer living; she may have died soon after that very time--I cannot
tell. I have mourned her as an irreparable loss, for she was my first, my
only intimate girl-friend, and nothing can efface from my mind the memory
of her friendship, and of the vast goodness and affection which her family
showered upon me. I have inquired for them in every direction, but have
never discovered any clue to their existence far or near."

The mother was silent; a very sad expression rested upon her face. The
children sympathized with her and said one after the other, sorrowfully,
"What a pity, what a pity!" Little Hunne, however, who had listened very
attentively to his mother's story, put his arms lovingly around her, and
said,

"Don't be so sad, mamma dear! I will go to America as soon as I am big
enough, and bring your Lili back with me; that I will!"

Rolf and Wili had drawn near, to hear the story, and presently Rolf said,
looking thoughtfully at a strip of paper which he held in his hand,

"Did your piece of paper with the poem look like a rebus, after you had
cut it in two, Mamma?"

"Perhaps so, Rolf. I should think it might look like one. Why do you ask?"

"Look here! is this it?" replied the boy, holding up his strip of paper.

"Yes, yes, it certainly is it," cried the mother in great excitement. "I
thought it had been lost long ago. I kept it carefully put away for many
years, and then in some way I lost sight of it. I thought it was lost
forever. Lately I have not thought of it at all, but telling you the story
of my early friendship, brought it again to my mind. Where did you find
it, my son?"

"We found it!" cried Wili and Lili triumphantly. "It was in the old bible
with the queer pictures. We thought we would look at Eve, again, to see
whether her face was scratched as it used to be." The twins talked both
together as usual.

"Yes, that is another thing that brings my Lili to mind," said their
mother, smiling. "She scratched that picture once when we were saying how
lovely it would be if we were in Paradise together, and suddenly she felt
so furious with Eve because she ate the apple, that she scribbled all over
her face with a pencil, 'to punish her,' she said. My old verses! I cannot
recall the other half, it is so long ago, over thirty years! only think,
children, thirty years ago!"

She laid the paper carefully away in her work-basket, and bade the
children put their things together and come into the house, for it was
almost supper-time, and their father approved of punctuality above all
things.

They gathered up their work and books, and returned slowly to the house
under the triumphal arch that still spanned the garden-door of the house.

Dora had been peeping at them as they sat clustered about their mother in
an attentive group under the apple-tree. She had now a good chance to
examine each child, as they walked slowly back to the house, and as the
last one disappeared, she said, softly sighing, "Oh, if I could sit only
just once with them under the apple-tree!"

At supper that evening Aunt Ninette said, "We have really had a few hours
of quiet. If it goes on so, we shall be able to stay here after all. Don't
you think so, dear Titus?"

Dora listened breathlessly for the answer.

"The air in my room is very close, and I suffer more from giddiness than I
did at home," was the uncle's reply.

Dora gazed at her plate despondently, and lost her appetite for that
supper. Mrs. Ehrenreich broke out into lamentations It was provoking to
have made this journey without its being of any use to her husband after
all! If they had only moved away at once! However, perhaps there would be
less noise over the hedge after this, and the windows could be opened!
Dora's hopes rose again, for as long as they staid, there was always a
chance that she might go into that garden once, at least once.



CHAPTER V.

BEFORE AND AFTER THE FLOOD.


There were times when it seemed as if little Hunne could find no
resting-place for the sole of his foot, when he wandered restlessly back
and forth through the house incessantly. No one would pay any attention to
him, he was sent from one person to another, and even his mother only bade
him sit quietly at his own little table until she was at liberty to come
to him. Of course Hunne's restless moments were just those when everybody
was particularly busy, such as Saturday morning when no one had a moment
to spare. And on this particular Saturday, the child had been wandering
about the passages among the sofas and chairs which, having been put out
there during the weekly sweeping, looked as restless and out-of-place as
Hunne himself.

He spent a long time looking for his mother and he found her at last
up-stairs in the attic, but she sent him down at once, for she was busy
with the clothes for the wash. "There, dear, go and find Paula; perhaps
she is not busy just now." Hunne found Paula at the piano.

"Go away, Hunne, I must practise," said she. "I have not time to guess
your riddles; there comes Miss Hanenwinkel; ask her."

"Miss Hanenwinkel," cried the little boy, "my first you can eat but not
drink."

"O spare me, Hunne" interrupted the governess, who seemed in a hurry. "If
you break out into charades too, what will become of us? I have not a
moment to waste. See, there is Mr. Julius just getting off his horse; ask
him."

Off ran Hunne.

"Jule, nobody will guess my riddle, and even Miss Hanenwinkel is too busy,
so she sent me to ask you."

"Well, what is it, my little man? out with it," said Jule good-humoredly.

So the child repeated his "you can eat but not drink," and then stopped
short.

"Well, go on! What comes next?" said his brother, "what is the rest?"

"You must make the rest, Jule; the whole is nut-cracker."

"Oh yes, I see; that is all right. Now look here; since Miss Hanenwinkel
sent you to me to guess for her, I will send one to her by you. Now say
it over and over until you have learned it. It is rather long:"

    "First cut short your laughter for me,
     Then spell me a _nun_ with an _e_,
     Shut quickly with meaning, one eye,
     Then add me an _el_, and--good-bye--
     Good-bye till I meet you again."

It did not take Hunne long to learn the lines, and he started off at once
to find the governess. She was sitting with Wili and Lili in the school
room, patiently trying to get them to finish their examples; but they were
both so absent-minded, that she was sure that they were planning something
extraordinarily mischievous. In rushed the little Hunne:

"A riddle, Miss Han--"

"No, positively no! This is not the proper time to bring me things to
guess."

The voice was very firm, almost severe, but Hunne had Jule to back him, so
he was full of courage, and he kept repeating;

"Jule told me to."

"Well, say it then quickly," said the governess, relenting a little.

And Hunne repeated the riddle very slowly but correctly.

Now Miss Hanenwinkel was a native of Bremen, and therefore very quick at
repartee, and she never hesitated for an answer. She seated herself
directly at a table, and dashed off the following in reply:

    "In the long hot hours that mark my first,
               My whole my second did invite
               Together gaily to unite.
     When the ripe nuts their coverings burst,
     They did the work--he ate his share,
     Then tossed the nut-shells everywhere."

"There, take this back to Mr. Julius," she said, handing the paper to
Hunne, "and tell him that as he made such a fine charade on my name, I do
not wish to be behind-hand with him. Now, after this, stay away, little
one, for we have our examples to do, and we cannot be interrupted again."

Wili and Lili for their part, did not seem to care if the examples were
interrupted. It was only too evident that they had something in their
minds; and that it disturbed their little brains to such an extent, that
work was almost impossible for them. While their teacher was busy with the
charade and little Hunne, the twins had drawn their chairs nearer and
nearer, and laid their two heads together over some very important
plans--so very important and engrossing that Miss Hanenwinkel soon closed
the book, with the remark that if the arithmetic were only some foolish
nonsensical trick or other, there might be some chance of their being
willing to work over it and understand it. She was probably right, for the
twins had certainly an unusual talent for tricks of all kinds. No sooner
was the lesson-hour over, than they rushed forth, and betook themselves to
the wash-house, where they stood gazing at the tubs of various sizes, and
whispering mysteriously.

At dinner-time, Julius taking out a paper, asked,

"Who can guess this excellent charade, composed by Miss Hanenwinkel?" and
he read it aloud.

He had scarcely finished when Rolf called out the answer, "July-us!"

Miss Hanenwinkel however said nothing about the lines which Julius had
composed on her name, for she was rather shy about the little slap at her
peculiarity of speech, that appeared in the last line.

As soon as dinner was over, Wili and Lili ran off to the wash-house again.
Saturday afternoon they had no lessons. So they had a beautiful time all
to themselves. To be sure, it was understood that the governess should
look after them a little. But when she saw the children go into the
wash-house, she took it for granted that they were going to have a grand
wash of doll's clothes, such as they often had. She was very glad that
they would be safely occupied for a few hours at least.

But the twins, be it known, had far greater aspirations this afternoon,
than for a simple doll's-wash. They had been playing with the Noah's ark,
which their father had brought them, and had thought a great deal about
the peculiar and wonderful life those people must have led in the ark at
the time of the Flood. It occurred to Lili that she should like to try
what it was like, to live in an ark, and even to take a voyage in one, and
of course Wili, as usual, agreed with her enthusiastically. Lili's plans
were all made; she had thought out all the details, for she was an
observing little maiden, and knew the uses of many things and how to turn
them to her own purposes. She chose one of the middle-sized wash-tubs for
an ark. There would be room enough for all the animals, if they would sit
quietly in their places.

Of course the animals were Schnurri and Philomele. The twins tried to coax
them to take their parts in the play. Schnurri came growling at their
call, but Philomele purred and rubbed back and forth against Lili's legs,
till the little girl took her up in her arms, and said,

"Ah, my dear little Philomele, you are a great deal nicer than that old
Schnurri."

This was the way it always was with these two creatures. The cat was
called Philomele or _nightingale_, because she purred in such a melodious
manner. The dog was named Schnurri, which means _growler_, because he had
a habit of constant growling; though he always had good reason of his own
for it. They had both been taught to live peaceably with each other, and
to do each other no mischief of any kind. Schnurri was very good about
it; followed the rule most punctiliously, and treated Philomele with great
consideration. When they ate their dinner from the same dish, he ate
slowly, because with her smaller mouth she could not take in as much at a
time as he did. But it was quite different with the cat. One moment she
seemed as friendly as possible with Schnurri, and rubbed up against him
and was playful and kind; especially if any one of the family was looking;
then suddenly, without warning, she would raise her little paw and give
him a sharp scratch behind the ear. Then he growled of course, and as this
behavior of Philomele's was very frequent, it followed that he seemed to
be constantly growling. So he got his name of Schnurri, though really
quite unjustly, for by nature he was most friendly and peaceable.

The first thing needed for the ark-voyage was water. Lili knew how the
water was brought into the wash-house when the clothes were ready for the
wash. There was a spring just opposite, with a log through which the water
flowed freely; and when they wanted to fill the tubs, they placed a long
wooden spout under the log, and let the water run through. That was simple
enough. Now Lili thought that if she could arrange the spout, so as to
lead the water to the floor of the wash-house, it would soon make a pond,
on which the tub-ark would float, all ready for the voyage. How to get the
long spout in place; that was the question.

The children debated for a while whether to ask Battiste or Trine to help
them carry out their plan. Between old Battiste and young Trine, there
were very much the same relations as between Schnurri and Philomele. The
man had been a servant in the Birkenfeld family for many years, and his
knowledge of all departments of work, in house and stable and farm caused
him to be consulted on every occasion. It must be confessed that Trine was
rather jealous of Battiste's influence, because though she had not been
very long in Mr. Birkenfeld's service herself, she had an aunt who had
lived in the family many years; indeed until she grew too old to work.
When this aunt had to give up, Trine had succeeded to her place; and so it
was that she felt that she had long established rights in the house, and
that Battiste took more upon himself than was quite fair. When any of the
family were about, she was very civil to her fellow servant, but behind
their backs she gave many a saucy word, and played tricks upon him now and
then. Just the dog and cat again!

The children understood pretty well how things stood between the two, and
profited by their petty quarrels and jealousy. Wili and Lili really would
rather have asked Trine than Battiste, for they had more hope of getting
what they wanted from her, as she took new ideas more readily than the
man, who did not like to be put out of his usual ways. But unluckily, what
they wanted was under Battiste's charge. So it was settled that Lili
should ask him to help them, while Wili held on to the cat and dog, lest
they should run away.

Battiste was out on the barn floor, arranging a collection of seeds. Here
Lili found him, and she planted herself before him with her hands behind
her back, just as she had seen her papa stand, when giving orders.

"Battiste," she said very firmly, "where is the spout that is used to fill
the tubs in the wash-house?"

Battiste lifted his face from his seeds, and looked curiously at Lili as
she stood there, as if he were waiting to hear the question again; for he
always took things moderately. At last he replied with a question in his
turn:

"Did your mamma send you to ask me?"

"No, I came of my own self."

"Then I don't know where the spout is."

"But, Battiste, I only want a little water from the spring; why can't I
have just that?"

"I know that kind of a little bird," said Battiste, grumblingly, "now a
little water, and now a little fire, and always mischief. Can't have it.
Can't give it to you."

"Oh well, I don't care," said Lili, and went straight to the kitchen,
where Trine was scouring pans.

"Trine, dear," said she coaxingly, "come and give me the water-spout.
Battiste won't let us have it. You'll get it for us, won't you?"

"Of course I will," said the maid, "a little water you might be allowed,
I'm sure. But you must wait till the old bear is out of the way; and then
I'll go and get you what you want."

After a while Trine saw Battiste coming from the barn; he went past the
house, down toward the meadows.

"Come along now," she said, and taking Lili's hand, she ran with her to
the wash-house, lifted the long wooden spout from its hiding-place, put
one end into the log, and the other into a small tub. Then she explained
to Lili that when they had enough water, they could push the spout away
from the log, and when they wanted it again, they could lift it up and put
it into the log themselves. But now she must go back to her work.

Away went Trine, and now the preparations for the voyage could begin. The
children took the lower end of the spout out of the tub, and put it down
upon the floor. Lili got into the new ark, and then Wili, and then they
lifted in the cat and the dog. Noah and his wife sat side by side, and
rejoiced over their safety and over the delightful voyage they should make
on the rising waters of the flood, as the stream from the spout flowed
merrily in upon the wash-house floor. The water rose very fast. Now, yes,
now the ark fairly floated, and Noah and his wife shouted for joy! The
flood had begun, and they were floating backward and forth upon the
surface of the water!

The wash-house floor was lower by several steps than the level of the
ground outside. The water rose and rose, and the children began to be
frightened.

"Look, Wili, we can't get out again, and it is getting very deep."

Wili gazed thoughtfully over the edge of the tub, and said, "If it gets
much deeper we shall be drowned."

And it went on getting deeper and deeper.

Pretty soon Schnurri grew restless, and sprang up, making the tub roll so
frightfully as almost to upset it. The water was now so deep that the
children could not get out without danger, and they became dreadfully
frightened, and began to cry out as loud as they could,

"We are drowning! Mamma! Battiste! Trine! We are drowning!" Then they no
longer used any words, but simply screamed, quite beside themselves with
terror. Schnurri barked and howled in sympathy, but Philomele scratched
and bit at everything within reach. Now the true character of the two
animals showed itself. The cat would not go out of the tub into the
water, and would not stay quietly in it, either, but fought like a mad
creature. But when the faithful dog found that, in spite of all the
screams and howls, no one came to their aid, he jumped into the water,
swam to the door, shook himself vigorously, and ran away. The children
screamed louder than ever, for the dog's movements had made the tub tip
back and forth, and they were well scared.

Dora had run down from her room, and was peeping through her opening in
the hedge, to try to find out the cause of these terrible cries. The
wash-house stood quite near the hedge, but she could not see anything
except the logs that carried the water to it from the spring. She heard
the cry "We are drowning!" and she ran back up-stairs, calling out,
breathless with fright,

"Aunt, aunt! two children are drowning over there! don't you hear them
call?"

Her aunt had closed all the windows, but the screams penetrated even to
her ears.

"Oh dear, what can that be?" she exclaimed, in the greatest alarm. "I hear
a terrible cry; but who says they are drowning? Mrs. Kurd! Mrs. Kurd! Mrs.
Kurd!"

Meantime, Schnurri, all dripping-wet, ran to the shed where Battiste was
shaping bean-poles for the kitchen garden. The dog rushed at Battiste,
barking furiously, seized him by the trousers, and tried to pull him
along.

"Something is amiss," said the man to himself; and taking a long
bean-pole on his shoulder, in case it should be needed, he followed
Schnurri to the wash-house. By this time the whole family had assembled
there--the mother, the governess, Julius, Paula, Rolf, Hunne, and last of
all Trine; for the cries had reached every corner of house and garden.
Battiste stretched his long pole across the water to the floating tub.

"Now, catch hold of that, and hold on tight, very tight," he said, and
pulled the ark and its occupants towards dry land. Wili and Lili were as
white as chalk from their long fright.

It was no time to question the children about this new mishap, for they
were in no condition to talk about it; so the mother wisely took each by
the hand, and led them to the seat under the apple-tree, to recover
themselves. Julius followed with little Hunne, saying, "Oh Wili and Lili,
you terrible twins, you will come to some dreadful end before long."

Old Battiste rolled up his trousers and stepped into the water in the
wash-house, to pull out the stopper from the waste pipe so that the flood
could subside from the land of Noah. Trine stood looking on. Battiste
growled at her.

"You have no more sense than the seven-year-old babies! But that is the
way things go!" for he had seen at once, who must have given them the
water-spout. Trine did not think it best to reply at that moment, as she
had been fairly caught in the wrong, but she secretly got her claws ready
to scratch when her chance came--just like Philomele. When the little
party under the apple-tree were somewhat tranquillized again, the cat came
purring and rubbing herself fawningly about Lili's feet. The child only
gave her an angry push, and turned to caress old Schnurri, who lay, still
wet, on the ground near by; while Wili patted him affectionately, saying
softly,

"You shall have all my supper to-night, old fellow."

"Mine too," said Lili, and they both understood now the real characters of
the two pets.

Hunne sat looking thoughtfully at the rescued party, and at last accosted
Jule, who was walking back and forth on the gravel path:

"Look here, Jule, what will the 'dreadful end' be like?"

"Oh it may be anything, Hunne. You see they have tried fire and water, and
next they will pull the house down about our ears, I dare say. Then we
shall lie under the ruins, and it will be all over with us."

"Shan't we be able to jump up quick, and get out of the way?" asked Hunne,
anxiously.

"We may; unless the twins should be seized with their great idea in the
middle of the night."

"You'll wake me up then Jule, won't you?" asked the little fellow
pleadingly.

Mrs. Kurd had come running at the repeated summons of Aunt Ninette, just
as Battiste had gone to save the patriarchs of the flood with his
bean-pole; and when she reached her, the tumult was stilled.

"Did you hear that, Mrs. Kurd? It was frightful! Everything is quiet now,
and I hope they are saved!"

"Oh yes, of course," said Mrs. Kurd, quite unconcernedly, "it is only the
little ones. They are always crying out about something. There isn't
really anything the matter."

"No; but children's cries are so shrill; I am shivering all over. How will
my husband stand it? No; this settles it, Mrs. Kurd. We shall go away.
This is the last drop."

With these words Mrs. Ehrenreich hurried into her husband's room to see
how he had borne the shock. He was sitting at his table, with his ears
stopped with cotton wool, and he did not hear his wife come in. He had
stuffed his ears when the first cry came, and had therefore escaped the
rest of the hubbub.

"Oh, that is very unhealthy, it is so heating for the head;" cried Aunt
Ninette, much distressed. She pulled the wool from his ears, and announced
that she should go directly after the church-service on the morrow, and
ask the pastor where they could move to, since this place was unendurable.

This plan suited Uncle Titus as well as any other; all he wanted was
quiet. Aunt Ninette, thinking over her plans, went back to her own room.

Dora stood waiting for her aunt in the passage-way. "Are we really going
away, Aunt?" she asked anxiously.

"Yes, decidedly;" replied Mrs. Ehrenreich, "we shall move on Monday."

Poor little Dora! it was a sad trial to her, to have to go away without
once having a chance to make the acquaintance of the other family; to go
into the beautiful garden, to smell those delicious flowers, and to join
the merry child-life that she had watched so closely, and yet from which
she was so entirely separated. Her future seemed swallowed up in those
stifling cotton shirts that were her fate in dull Karlsruhe. As she sat on
the side of her little bed, that night, sadly cast down by these
melancholy thoughts, she forgot the five friendly stars in the sky above.
Yet there they were, sparkling as ever, as if they were trying to speak to
their child and say, "Dora, Dora! have you quite forgotten your father's
verses?"



CHAPTER VI.

A FRIGHTFUL DEED.


It was a beautiful, bright Sunday morning. In the garden all was peaceful
and lovely. No sound broke the perfect stillness, save when now and then a
rosy-cheeked apple fell to the ground, for the apples were ripening fast
in the autumn sun.

Mr. and Mrs. Birkenfeld had gone to church, and with them Paula and Miss
Hanenwinkel. In the sitting-room, Jule and Hunne were harmoniously
discussing over a big dish of hazel-nuts, in how many different ways they
could make the nutcracker crack a nut. The twins, since the lesson they
had had in the wash-house, had returned contented to the mimic ark, with
its wooden men and women, and they were now playing with it on the
school-room table, which they had all to themselves to-day. Rolf had early
betaken himself to the garden, and had settled down in a sequestered
summer-house, where he could think over all sorts of things, without fear
of being disturbed.

After the flood had subsided (a flood this time without water), and when
the dove had returned with the olive-branch, and quiet was restored in the
land, new schemes began to work in Lili's busy little head.

"What do you say, Wili, to coming down-stairs to look at Rolf's new bow;
he left it in the passage-way last evening."

Wili was all agog at the idea, and they both scampered down-stairs. Lili
knew the corner where Rolf had placed the bow, and there too was the
quiver, with its two feathered arrows.

"Just see how jolly this is;" said Lili, "you pull this string back, and
put the arrow here, and then let the string fly, and off goes the arrow
like anything. I saw just how Rolf did it; and suppose we try to see how
it works!"

"But we must not shoot with it; don't you remember that papa said so,
Lili?"

"I don't mean to shoot, but only to try it. I just want to see how it is
done; don't you understand?"

This explanation satisfied Wili.

"Where shall we try it? There is not room in this passage."

"No, no; I know where, in the garden. Come along;" and Lili ran off with
the quiver, while Wili followed with the bow. They chose a nice open space
near the hedge.

"Here now, we will both try together, and see if we can do it," said Lili.

Wili brought up his bow, and they pressed it against the ground, and then
both took the cord in their hands, and tugged away till they had snapped
it into place. Lili shouted with delight.

"Now, we must lift it up," she said, "so; and put the arrow in here, Wili,
do you see? and now you pull back that thing underneath, and you will see
how it will go off. There, just try."

Wili tried; pulled back the "thing," and the arrow whistled through the
hedge. Instantly a cry of anguish sounded from the other side, and then
all was silent. They looked at each other in great fright.

"Do you think that was a rabbit?" asked Wili.

"I thought it sounded like a hen;" said Lili. Their consciences were
troubled, and their hearts were filled with fear, for they knew they had
done wrong to take the bow, and they each had the impression that the cry
of pain came from a child, though each hoped that the other thought it was
really only an animal. They carried the bow back to its place in silence.
Suddenly a new fear seized them. One arrow was gone from the quiver; what
if Rolf should miss it! The sound of the family coming back from church,
added to their embarrassment. It was not possible now to go to look for
the arrow, for that would lead to immediate discovery. Rolf did not yet
know that they had been shooting, but if he should begin to question them!
They had got themselves into a fine box, through their disobedience; and
they had no idea how they should ever get out of it, for they felt sure
that they should never dare to tell the truth, if the arrow were asked
for.

Silent, and covered with confusion from their consciousness of
wrong-doing, the twins crept back to the school-room, and there they sat
without stirring or speaking, until they were called to dinner. They did
not dare lift their eyes to the table, to see what dainty Sunday-dish had
been prepared, but slipped into their seats and felt almost choked even by
the soup; for something seemed to lie like a lump in their throats, and
prevent them from swallowing. They did not look up once during the whole
of dinner-time, and although their father spoke to them several times,
they could not find voice to answer.

"What have you two been about this time?" he said at last; for he knew
very well that this depression was not the result of yesterday's
performance; their contrition never lasted over night; that was not the
way with the twins. There was no answer. They sat as if nailed to their
seats, and stared into their plates. Their mother shook her head
thoughtfully. Little Hunne kept a watchful eye on them, for he had
observed from the first, that something was amiss. Presently a delicious
pudding with wine sauce was brought in, and their mother helped each one
to a good big slice. At that moment their father exclaimed,

"What is that? Is there any one very ill in the next house? There goes the
doctor, hurrying along as if some one were in great danger."

"I do not know of any one's being ill there," said the mother. "Mrs. Kurd
has let her rooms to some strangers. It may be one of them."

The twins were by turns as red as fire and as white as chalk. A secret
voice cried out in each little palpitating heart, "Now it is coming! it is
coming!" They were almost paralyzed with fright; the delicious pudding lay
untouched on their plates, though it was full of raisins and looked
unusually tempting. But even Hunne, the pudding-eater of the family,
neglected his plate today, and suddenly jumping down from his chair, he
began to shout like a crazy creature,

"Mama! Papa! come away! the house is going to fall down! everything is
going to pieces!" In his excitement he almost pulled Jule off his seat, to
make him come with him, as he ran out of the door. Presently they heard
him outside repeating, "The house will tumble down; Jule said it would!"

"Some evil spirit has certainly taken possession of the children," said
the astonished father, "The twins look as if they were sitting on pins,
and little Hunne is acting like a mad-man."

At these words Julius broke out into inextinguishable laughter; for it
suddenly dawned upon him what the little boy had in his mind. The unusual
timidity and silence of the twins was caused, no doubt, by their having
already begun in secret the work of destruction; and at any moment now the
house might fall in ruins upon the assembled family. Jule explained with
repeated outbursts of laughter, the meaning of Hunne's fright. In vain the
mother called the little boy to come in; he was jumping up and down before
the house door, stamping, and calling to his father and mother and Jule
and everyone to come out. At last his father lost patience, and said
decidedly that the door must be closed, and that the dinner should be
ended in peace. After dinner they all went into the garden, where Hunne
joined them. When he saw them all seated in safety under the apple-tree,
he said with a sigh,

"I wish some one would bring me my pudding, before the house falls down."

His mother drew him to her, and explained to him that big Jule and little
Hunne, were two very foolish fellows; the first to invent such silly
stuff, and the second to believe it. She begged him to think a bit how
impossible it would be for two children like Wili and Lili to pull down a
great strong stone house like theirs. But it was a long time before the
impression was effaced from the child's imagination.

Dora had been standing by the hedge, as usual, hoping that the children
would come into the garden, when Wili and Lili appeared with the bow. She
had watched the progress of their undertaking with the greatest interest.
At last, off flew the arrow; and in a second, the sharp point pierced the
little girl's bare arm. Dora groaned aloud with pain. The arrow fell to
the ground; it had not penetrated deep enough to hold at all; but the
blood followed, and trickled along her arm and hand, and down upon her
dress. At this sight Dora forgot her pain in her fear. Her first thought
was, "How Aunt Ninette will scold!" She tried to hide what had happened.
She twisted her handkerchief about the wounded arm, and she ran to the
spring before the house, to wash out all signs of blood. It was useless;
the blood flowed out under the bandage in a stream, and soon her dress was
spotted all over with the red drops.

"Dora! Dora!" called some one from above. It was her aunt; there was no
help for it; she must show herself. In fear and trembling, she mounted the
stairs and stood before her aunt, hiding the bandaged arm behind her. Her
pretty Sunday dress was stained with blood, and her face too; for in her
eagerness to wash it off she had spread it everywhere.

"Merciful Heaven!" cried her aunt, "what is the matter? Speak, child, did
you fall down? How you look! You are as pale as death, and all smeared
with blood! Dora, for heaven's sake, do speak!"

Dora had been trying to speak, but she could not get in a word edgewise.
At last she said timidly,

"It was an arrow!"

A flood of lamentations followed. Aunt Ninette flew up and down the room
wringing her hands and crying, "An arrow! an arrow! You have been shot!
Shot in the arm! You will have a stiff arm all your life! You will be a
cripple! You can never sew any more, nor do anything else! You will come
to want! We shall all have to suffer for it! How unlucky we are! How are
we to live, how can we ever get along, if your arm is lame?"

"Oh, Aunty dear, perhaps it will not be as bad as all that;" said the
child sobbing, "did not papa tell us to remember:

    "God holds us in his hand
     God knows the best to send."

"Certainly, of course that's true; but if you are lame, you will be lame;"
said Mrs. Ehrenreich, whimpering, "it makes me perfectly desperate. But
go--no--come here to the water. Where is Mrs. Kurd? Somebody must go for
the doctor."

Dora went to the wash-basin, while her aunt ran for Mrs. Kurd, and begged
her to send for the doctor to come immediately; it was a case of shooting,
and no one could tell how dangerous it might prove.

The doctor came as quickly as possible. He examined the wound, stopped the
bleeding, bound it up without a word, in spite of Aunt Ninette's
pertinacious attempts to make him express an opinion. He then took his hat
and made for the door.

But Aunt Ninette followed him up before he could make good his retreat.
"Do tell me, doctor, will her arm be lame? Stiff all the rest of her
life?"

"Oh, I trust not. I will call again to-morrow;" and the doctor was gone.

"'Oh I trust not,'" repeated Aunt Ninette in a despairing tone, "that's a
doctor's way of saying 'yes, of course.' I understand perfectly. What will
become of us? How shall we ever live through this misfortune?"

And she kept on fretting in this way until late into the evening.

When Wili's mother went in to hear her little boy's prayers that night,
she did not find him as usual, cheerfully sitting up in bed, ready for a
good chat with her, if she would stay. He was crouched down all in a heap,
and did not even look up at her, nor speak to her, when she sat down by
him.

"What is the matter with my little boy?" said she gently, "have you
something wrong in your heart? have you been doing what you ought not?"

The child made an unintelligible sound, neither yes nor no.

"Well, say your evening hymn, Wili; perhaps that will make you feel
better," said his mother.

Wili began:

    "The moon climbs up the sky,
     The stars shine out on high,
     Shine sparkling, bright and clear"--

and so on, but his thoughts were not on what he was saying; he was
listening to every sound outside the room, and he kept looking towards the
door as if he expected something terrible to come in at any moment; and in
his restless movements it was plain to see what a state of fear he was in.
When he had reached the end of his hymn,

    "Oh Father, spare thy rod;
     Send us sweet sleep, Oh God;
     Let our sick neighbor slumber, too"--

he suddenly burst into tears, and clinging tight to his mother he sobbed
out,

"The child will not be able to sleep, and God will punish us dreadfully."

"What are you talking about, dear Wili?" asked his mother tenderly. "Come,
tell me what has happened. I have seen all day that something was the
matter, and feared that you had been doing something wrong. What is it?
Tell me."

"We, we--perhaps we have shot a child!"

"What do you mean?" cried his mother, now thoroughly alarmed, for she
instantly recalled having seen the doctor hurry by to the cottage when
they were at dinner.

"It cannot be! Do tell me all about it, clearly, so that I can
understand."

And Wili gave as good an account as he could, of what he and Lili had
been about that morning, and of their being so frightened at the cry of
pain which followed the shooting of the arrow, that they had run away as
fast as possible. And now they were so very miserable, that they did not
want to live any longer, and both wanted to die, and to be done with it
all.

"Now you see, my Wili, what disobedience leads to," were the mother's
serious words after she had listened to the boy's sad story. "You did not
mean to do anything but play a little while with the bow, but your father
knew very well when he forbade your touching it, how great the danger was.
We do not know what evil consequences may follow your disobedience, but we
will pray the dear Father in heaven to avert the evil, and turn it to good
if possible."

Then Wili repeated after his mother a short prayer, and never had he
prayed so earnestly as now, with his heart full of dread for the results
of his naughty conduct. Indeed he could scarcely stop praying; it seemed
to relieve his heart to lay all his sorrow before his Heavenly Father, and
beg his forgiveness and help.

And now he could look in his mother's eyes again as he bade her
good-night.

Lili was waiting in the next room, for her turn to talk to this same good
mother.

"Are you ready to say your prayers, Lili?" The little girl began, paused,
began again and stopped in the middle. Presently she stammered out,

"Mamma I cannot pray, for God is angry with me."

"What have you done, Lili, to make him angry?"

Lili was silent, and sat pulling at the sheet, for she was naturally
obstinate, and found it hard to own a fault.

"If the good God is not pleased with you, I certainly cannot be. Good
night, my child, sleep well--that is if you can."

"Mamma, do not go away, I will tell you everything; only stay with me."

Her mother gladly turned back.

"We were shooting with the bow, though papa told us not to touch it, and
we hit something and it cried out; and we were so frightened that we could
not be happy any more at all." Lili's voice was hurried, and full of
distress.

"I don't wonder that you could not feel happy, and you cannot yet. Because
of your disobedience, a poor little child is lying suffering in the next
house, perhaps without its mother to comfort it, for it is a stranger
here. Think of it there in a strange house, away from home, crying in pain
all night long."

"I will go right over there and stay with it," said Lili dolefully, and
she began to cry again. "I cannot sleep either mamma; I am so worried."
"We are always worried, my dear child, when we have done wrong. I will go
now and find out whether the child is in need of help; and you will pray
to God to give you an obedient spirit, and to turn aside the evil that
your naughtiness may have caused an innocent child to suffer."

Lili followed her mother's advice. She could pray, now that she had
confessed her fault; as she felt that she might now be forgiven. She
prayed heartily for the recovery of the wounded child, and for
forgiveness for herself.

Trine was sent over to the widow's house, to inquire whether it was really
a child that had been hit by the arrow, and whether it was badly hurt.
Mrs. Kurd told Trine the whole story, and that the doctor had said, "We
trust no serious harm is done," and that he would come again the next day.
Trine carried this report back to her mistress, and Mrs. Birkenfeld was
very much relieved; for her first fear had been that the child's eye might
have been hit, even if no mortal wound had been inflicted, and she was
thankful to find that things were no worse.



CHAPTER VII.

LONG-WISHED-FOR HAPPINESS.


The next morning, Mrs. Birkenfeld went early to the widow's house, where
she was most cordially received; for she as well as her friend Lili had
been a favorite pupil of Mrs. Kurd's husband. What pleasure the ardent
teacher had taken in these pupils, and what success he had had in teaching
them! He had never been tired of talking about it, and his wife had never
forgotten it.

Mrs. Birkenfeld was shown into the sitting-room, where Mrs. Kurd insisted
on her taking a seat, saying that she had much to tell her, for she had
not seen her before since she had had the strangers from Karlsruhe in her
house. There was a great deal to say about them and especially about the
accident of the day before. When the widow had talked herself out, Mrs.
Birkenfeld asked if she could speak to the lady, and to the little girl
who had been hurt.

Mrs. Kurd carried the message to Mrs. Ehrenreich, who came directly,
followed by Dora, who wore a thick bandage upon her arm, and looked very
pale and delicate. After the first greetings, Mrs. Birkenfeld took Dora's
hand tenderly in her own, and inquired with sympathy about the wound. She
then turned to Aunt Ninette and told her how deeply she regretted the
accident, and inquired in a friendly way after her health and that of Mr.
Ehrenreich. Aunt Ninette lost no time in giving her full particulars of
her husband's illness; how he had sadly needed fresh country air, and how
she had made inquiries for a quiet secluded spot, and had at last chosen
this very place; how he had to keep the windows shut tight, because he
could not bear the least sound when he was writing, and therefore he never
got any fresh air after all; and how anxious she was all the time, lest
the vertigo instead of being cured by his being here, should come on worse
than ever.

"I am very sorry indeed, that Mr. Ehrenreich should suffer from my
children's noise;" said Mrs. Birkenfeld, understanding at once the state
of the case, "if Mr. Ehrenreich does not walk out at all, he certainly
ought to have an unusually airy place to work in. I have an idea; quite at
the farthest end of our garden, away from the house, and from the
frequented part of the grounds, stands a cool summer house, with seats and
a table. If Mr. Ehrenreich would use that for his study, I would direct
the children to keep entirely away from that part of the garden."

Aunt Ninette was delighted with this proposal; she said she would suggest
it to her husband, and she was sure that he would accept it with many
thanks.

"And you, my dear little girl, I hope your Aunt will allow you to come to
see us to-day and every day. You shall get well in our garden; my children
have much to make up to you for."

"Can I really go into that beautiful garden where the children are?" asked
little Dora, who could scarcely believe in her good fortune; and such a
look of gladness shot from her eyes at the thought, that her aunt looked
at her with surprise, for she had never seen an expression like that in
them before. This beam of delight that transfigured the child's face,
spoke so directly to Mrs. Birkenfeld's heart, that tears came to her eyes,
and she loved the child from that moment. She did not know why or
wherefore; yet these joyfully-beaming eyes had stirred a whole world of
slumbering recollections in her heart.

It was arranged that directly after dinner Dora should go over into the
garden, and stay there till late in the evening. Thereupon Mrs. Birkenfeld
took her leave.

Aunt Ninette hastened at once to her husband's study, and laid the new
plan before him. Uncle Titus received it with pleasure, for although the
want of fresh air was becoming very trying to him, yet taking a walk for
air and exercise was something he had never been accustomed to, and he
could not make up his mind to the loss of so much valuable time. The offer
was therefore very seasonable. He even proposed to go to the summer-house
directly, and his wife accompanied him. They took the longest way, round
the outside of the garden, so as to avoid meeting any one. At the farthest
end they came to a little garden-gate which led directly to the secluded
summer-house. Close to the little house were two old nut-trees and a
weeping willow, with thick pendent branches, and behind, far away into
the distance, stretched the soft green meadows. Far and near, all was
perfectly still. Uncle Titus had brought several thick books with him,
under each arm, for he thought he should like to take possession at once,
if he found it to his mind. Aunt Ninette carried the inkstand and paper,
and Dora brought up the rear, with cigars and the wax-taper.

Mr. Ehrenreich was well pleased with the place; he settled himself at
once, took his seat at the table, drew in a long breath of the pure air
which blew in through the open doors and windows, and softly rubbed his
hands with satisfaction. He began to write directly, and Aunt Ninette and
Dora withdrew, and left him alone to his work.

By this time the news of the twins' exploit of yesterday, had spread
through the house. For when Rolf returned from his morning lessons, he
went straight for his bow, and of course discovered at once the loss of
one arrow. Very much incensed, he ran about the house to find out who had
been meddling with his property. He had little trouble in discovering the
offenders, for the twins were so broken down by the suffering they had
been through, that they confessed at once, and told him the whole story,
including their horror at the cry of pain, and adding that their mother
had now gone to the cottage, to inquire who had been hit. Then they showed
Rolf where they had fired the arrow through the hedge, and to be sure
there it was, lying on the ground, in Mrs. Kurd's garden. The recovery of
his treasure put Rolf again in good-humor. He rushed back to the house,
calling out, "Jule, Paula, did you know that the twins shot a child
yesterday?" And so it came about that all six of the children, and Miss
Hanenwinkel, besides, stood on the stone steps, on tip-toe with
excitement, awaiting the mother's return from the cottage. The moment she
appeared, Hunne called out, "Where was it hit?" and then each one asked a
different question, and all at once:

"Is it a child?" "Is it a boy?" "How big is it?" "What is its name?" "Is
it much hurt?"

"Come into the house, first," said the mother, turning a deaf ear to the
shower of questions; and when they were clustered about her in the house,
she told them about the pale, delicate little maiden, with a bandage upon
her arm, so tight that she could scarcely use it. She said that the child
was apparently about Paula's age; that she spoke excellent German, and
looked very nice and well-bred; that her name was Dora, and last of all,
that she was to come into the garden after dinner, and then they could
make her acquaintance. All was now curiosity and excitement; how did the
child look--what would she say? And each began to speculate what his own
particular relation would be to the new-comer.

Paula stood still in intense delight; and only said, "Oh, if she is so
nice, and just my age, too, mamma, how happy I shall be!" She had visions
of a great, indissoluble friendship, and she could hardly wait till
afternoon. Rolf was sure that Dora was just the right age to guess his
charades, and that he should make friends with her at once on that ground.
The twins had a feeling that Dora belonged especially to them, because
they had shot her; and they thought she would be the very one to help them
in carrying out their schemes; for they often needed a third person, and
Paula was never in the mood.

"Well, I am glad that Dora is coming," said Hunne, "for I can go to her
Saturdays, when all the chairs are standing on their heads, and no one
else will have me."

Last of all Jule asked, "Hunne, I want to get some good out of Dora, too,
what shall it be?"

"I know," said the child, after thinking awhile, "she can help you get off
your riding-boots--you know there weren't enough of us, last time."

"The very thing," said Jule, laughing.

Dora was also greatly excited--she fairly trembled. One moment she did not
know what to do for joy that the longed-for happiness had come, and she
was to go into the garden, among the lovely, sweet-smelling flowers, and
all those merry children. But the next moment she was afraid. She had
watched the children from a distance, and she knew them all by sight; she
already felt partly acquainted with them, and each one had excited an
individual interest in her mind. But they had not even seen her, at all;
she was a perfectly strange child to them. And then she said to herself
with real distress, that she was so ignorant and awkward, and they knew so
much, and were so clever, that they would certainly despise her, and
would want to have nothing to do with her. She kept running it all over
and over in her mind during dinner, and could scarcely eat a mouthful, in
her excitement. Before she knew it, the time had come, and her aunt said,

"Now, Dora, you can go!"

So Dora put on her hat and went over to the next house. She went in at the
front door, and passed through the long entry, at the other end of which
the door into the garden stood open. Going out of this door she found
herself in full view of the whole family. Directly in front of her, under
the apple-tree, sat Mr. and Mrs. Birkenfeld, and round about them were the
six children. Her timidity came back again, at seeing the parents, for she
had expected to see only the children. She stood hesitating, and glanced
shyly at the company. Little Hunne caught sight of her, and slipping down
from his seat, ran toward her with outstretched arms, crying out,

"Come, Dora, there is room here on my seat; Come!" and seizing her hand,
he pulled her along toward the others, who all came eagerly to meet her,
and welcomed her as cordially as if she were an old friend. So, occupied
with questions and greetings, she came to where the parents sat, and they
were so friendly and kind, that all her shyness passed away, and she was
soon sitting on the same seat with Hunne, in the midst of the circle, as
much at home as if she belonged there.

Mr. and Mrs. Birkenfeld soon left their seats and walked up and down the
garden; and then the children pressed round Dora, and each had some
particular thing to say to her. Paula spoke least; but she looked at the
new acquaintance, as if she were making a study of her. Rolf, Wili and
Lili stood as near Dora as they could squeeze, to make her hear what they
were saying, and Hunne kept fast hold of her, as if afraid that she would
vanish away.

"If you squeeze Dora to death the first time she makes us a visit, she
will not come a second time;" remarked Julius, who sat stretched out at
full length on a garden-bench; "so take my advice, and give her room to
breathe."

"How old are you, Dora? Not much older than I am?" asked Lili eagerly.

"I am just twelve."

"Oh, what a shame! then you are as old as Paula;" said Lili regretfully,
who had hoped that Dora would belong to her in every respect, even in age.

"No, no," cried Rolf, "Dora is my age; at least nearer mine than Paula's,
if she is only just twelve."

Rolf thought this opened a favorable prospect for special companionship.
"Are you good at guessing riddles? And are you fond of them?"

"Yes, yes, and I have made a riddle;" cried Hunne, putting in his oar,
"Now guess mine, Dora. My first you can eat but not drink"--

Rolf cut the little boy's charade ruthlessly in two with,

"Oh, get away with your old riddle, Hunne; it is no riddle at all! Now
listen, Dora;

"My first conceals from light of day--" But Rolf was not destined to
finish his verses, for Lili had seized Dora's hand and was pulling her
with all her might, saying,

"Come, Dora, I will play you everything I know." Dora had asked her if she
was the one who played on the piano, and Lili thought this a good excuse
for stealing the new friend for herself. Lili had her way, for Dora really
wanted to hear the piano, though she did not like to disappoint Rolf.

"You must not take it amiss," she said, turning back to speak to him, as
Lili drew her away, "I am not good at guessing, and I should only bother
you with my stupidity."

"Won't you try just one?" asked Rolf, rather disappointed.

"Oh, yes, if you want me to. I will try bye and bye," she called back, for
Lili was fairly dragging her towards the house. Hunne had not let go his
hold of Dora, and was pulled along too. He kept calling out, "Mine too,
guess mine too," and she promised that she would do her best. Wili also
went with them, and all four betook themselves to the school-room where
the piano stood. The twins had been taking music lessons from Miss
Hanenwinkel for more than a year, not so much because their parents cared
about having them learn to play on the piano, as because they thought the
lessons would be a pleasant occupation, and the music would have a
soothing effect on the children's somewhat restless dispositions; and
moreover, last but by no means least, the twins could not be up to any
mischievous pranks, while they were busy practising.

Now that they stood before the piano, Lili's ardor for playing it somewhat
cooled, and she reverted to her usual point of view with regard to it.

"You know, Dora, of course," she said, "that playing on the piano is the
most tedious thing in the world. Why, when I have to practise, I get
perfectly tired to death, don't you, Wili?" Wili assented emphatically.

"How can you feel so?" asked Dora, casting a longing look at the piano,
"Oh, if I could only sit down there and play as you do, Lili, I should be
perfectly happy."

"Do you really think so?" said Lili, struck with the expression of Dora's
eyes. She opened the piano quickly, and began to play a little melody.
Dora sat by, thirstily drinking in the sounds, and looking as charmed as
if Lili were conferring some substantial benefit upon her. The sight of
her pleasure was very inspiriting to Lili, who kept on playing better and
better, and when Wili saw the impression produced, he wanted to take his
share.

"Now let me play, Lili," he said, as she came to the end; but Lili was now
quite in the spirit of it, and did not stop for an instant, but began to
repeat the piece from the beginning.

"Do you know any other tune?" asked Dora.

"No; Miss Hanenwinkel will not teach me another till I have learned my
exercises better; but I know what I will do, Dora, just wait till
to-morrow, and then I will give you music lessons, and we will learn ever
so many tunes. Should you like that?"

"Will you really?" asked Dora, and she looked so overjoyed at the bare
idea, that Lili at once decided to begin the lessons on the very next day.

"But my arm!" exclaimed Dora. They had forgotten that. But Lili did not
give up her plans so easily.

"Oh, your arm will soon be better," she said, "and meantime I will learn
ever so many pieces, and be all the more able to teach you."

At this moment the big bell rang for supper. Hunne grasped Dora's hand,
declaring that there was no time to lose, for his father always came
punctually to his meals, and Hunne liked to do the same. The table was
spread under the apple-tree, and covered with a great variety of good
things. As she sat there looking about at these new acquaintances who
already seemed like old friends, Dora felt as if she were dreaming; it was
so much more delightful even than she had hoped; and she was almost afraid
that she should wake up all at once, and find it only a dream. But she did
not wake up, except to find that her plate had been loaded with good
things, so very real, that all anxiety passed away, and she realized that
she was living, and living remarkably well, into the bargain.

"Do eat your cake, or you will be the last to get through," said Hunne,
"see, Dora, Jule and I have eaten four. Jule and I can do a great many
things; only we can't pull the riding-boots off very well. You'll help
about that, won't you, Dora?" "Eat your cakes, and be quiet, Hunne," said
Jule, in a warning tone; and Dora did not answer about the boots, for Mr.
Birkenfeld was asking her questions, and she began to tell him about her
father, and of their life together in Hamburg and Karlsruhe.

Up to this time, Paula had not made any attempt to talk with Dora; but
when supper was over, she came up to her, and said, softly,

"Will you come with me a little while now?"

Dora was delighted with the invitation, for she had begun to be afraid
that Paula did not mean to have anything to say to her, and yet she had
been particularly attracted toward this quiet girl, so near her own age.
Paula had wanted to see what sort of a girl Dora was, before she made
advances, and she was evidently well pleased with what she saw, for she
now took her new friend by the hand, and led her away down the garden
path. The twins and Hunne, and even Rolf, were soon tired of waiting for
Dora to come back, and went calling and searching everywhere for her; but
they could not find her; she had quite disappeared. In fact, Paula had
taken her all round the garden, and then up to her own room. There the two
girls sat and talked, and talked, about all sorts of things. They told
each other their thoughts and feelings on various subjects, and found
themselves in perfect sympathy. It was a great happiness to both, for
neither had ever had an intimate friend, of her own age, one whose tastes,
purposes and ideals were like her own.

"Now we will be 'best friends' forever," they said, and sat, forgetful of
all the world besides, till the stars stood shining in the heavens above,
and all the earth was bathed in shadow.

The mother found them at last; she had suspected that they had taken
refuge in Paula's room. Dora sprang up hastily when she noticed how dark
it had grown, and recollected that her aunt would be expecting her. The
other children were waiting below, rather a dissatisfied little party at
Dora's disappearance; for they all wanted to talk to her. Rolf was
particularly annoyed.

"Why Dora," he said, "I thought you were going to guess my charade; will
you try now?"

But Dora said it was really time for her to go home; so Mrs. Birkenfeld
told them that they must wait till to-morrow for all they had to say, and
that Dora would come every day to see them and would take lessons with
them too. This satisfied them, and they charged Dora to come very early
and stay very late, for there was a great deal to do and a great deal to
show her. The leave taking lasted a long time, but Rolf suddenly cut the
thing short.

He was going to have the last word with Dora, for he was to walk home with
her. As they crossed the grass plot towards the cottage, the stars were
shining so brightly overhead, that Dora stood still.

"Look up, Rolf;" she said, "do you see those five twinkling stars up
there? I know them very well; they were my own stars in Karlsruhe, and
they are here with me too."

"Oh yes, I've seen those; they are on our map of the Heavens. Do you know
their names, Dora?"

"No, indeed; can you tell the names of the stars Rolf? How much you do
know!" said Dora admiringly. "Don't those five all belong together, and
have one name? There are others too that look as if they belonged
together. Do you know them all? How I should like to learn them from you!"

Rolf was much pleased with the idea of giving lessons in astronomy, to one
so eager to learn.

"Let us begin now," said he enthusiastically; "I will tell them all to you
one after another, even if it takes till midnight."

This reminded Dora how late it was.

"No, Rolf" she said quickly, "thank you very much, but no more to-night.
To-morrow; will you tell me to-morrow?"

"Well, to-morrow then, Dora, don't forget. Good-night."

"Good-night, Rolf;" and Dora hurried into the house. She was so brimming
over with happiness and the many pleasures of the day, that she sprang
up-stairs to Aunt Ninette, and began to tell her everything all mixed up
together, with such astonishing vivacity, that her aunt drew back rather
startled.

"Dora! Dora! think a minute! this excitement may go to your arm! Go to
sleep as quick as you can; that is the best thing you can do."

Dora went to her bed-room, but sleep was impossible. She knelt down at her
bed-side and gave heart-felt thanks to God for sending her all this
happiness; she resolved that when these holidays were over she would go
back to her work again without complaint; no matter how long the hours
might be, and she would never forget these happy days that the good God
had sent her now. It was long before she could close her eyes for very
bliss.



CHAPTER VIII.

MORE CHARADES.


Early the next day, as Julius was clattering along the passage with his
big riding-boots and spurs, he heard the sounds of practising in the
school-room, and knowing that Miss Hanenwinkel did not give lessons at
this hour, he pushed open the door to see what was going on. There sat
Lili at the piano, and Wili stood by, looking as if he were impatiently
counting every minute till he could have his turn.

"What are you two about?" he called out, "is this the beginning of some
mischievous prank?"

"Be quiet, Jule, we haven't a minute to lose," said Lili seriously. Jule
laughed aloud and went on his way. Going down stairs, he met Miss
Hanenwinkel.

"What has got into the twins now?" he asked. "Have they taken the notion
of being virtuous, into their small noddles?"

"That is more likely at seven than at seventeen;" was all the answer he
got.

He went on down stairs still laughing, and just at the front door met his
mother. She was starting at that early hour to try to see the doctor
before he went from home, to ask him exactly the state of Dora's arm, and
whether there was any danger for the child. Aunt Ninette's anxiety had
infected her, and she could not rest until she knew the probabilities of
the case.

"Do I hear some one playing on the piano, Jule?" she asked. "It is an
unusual sound for this time of day."

"Mother dear, I do believe that the end of the world is coming," replied
Julius;

"Lili is up there hurrying from one finger-exercise to another as if she
could not get enough of that exquisite amusement, and Wili is seated at
her side in a similar condition of nervous industry, waiting for his turn
at the piano."

"A strange state of things, to be sure, Jule," said his mother; "for it
was only yesterday that Miss Hanenwinkel was complaining to me that Lili
did not show the slightest interest in her music, and that she would not
even play her piece, much less her exercises."

"It's just as I said; the end of the world is coming," said Jule, turning
towards the stable.

"Let us hope rather the beginning," replied Mrs. Birkenfeld, starting in
the other direction to go down the hill towards the village. When she
reached the doctor's house, she was so fortunate as to find him at home,
and she asked him the question that so greatly disquieted her. He assured
her that the wound was doing perfectly well, and that there was not the
slightest danger of any permanent stiffness of the arm; though he
laughingly owned that he had made the worst of it to Dora, in order to
impress her with caution for the future. It would be all over in a day or
two at farthest. Mrs. Birkenfeld was much relieved, for besides her
sympathy for Dora, she had felt keenly her children's responsibility for
the misfortune.

On her way home Mrs. Birkenfeld stopped to speak to Aunt Ninette; not only
to carry her the doctor's favorable verdict, but also to talk with her
about Dora. She now learned for the first time, that Dora was to earn her
living by sewing; and that for this reason her aunt felt obliged to keep
her so closely to her shirt-making.

Mrs. Birkenfeld took a warm interest in Dora. She thought the little girl
very delicate for such heavy work, and she was glad that there was still
some time left for her to grow stronger before she had to go back to
Karlsruhe, and settle down to regular work again. She begged Aunt Ninette
to let the child, during the rest of their stay, give up the sewing
entirely, and she offered to let her own seamstress make the shirts, that
Dora might be free to amuse herself with the children, and gain strength
by play in the open air.

The self-possessed, quiet manner of Mrs. Birkenfeld had an excellent
effect on Mrs. Ehrenreich, and she acquiesced in this proposal without the
slightest demur. Indeed the path of the future, that had looked so beset
with difficulties, seemed now to lie smooth before her, and all her
prospects were brightened. She spoke with great thankfulness on her
husband's account; for he already found himself so improved by the fresh
air and quiet of the summer house, and he was so thoroughly comfortable
and contented there, that he could hardly bear to leave it, even to come
in at night.

When Mrs. Birkenfeld rose to go, she cordially invited Aunt Ninette to
come often to see her in the garden, saying that she must find it lonely
in the cottage, and that the open air would be good for her also. Aunt
Ninette was much gratified by this courtesy, and accepted it with
pleasure; quite forgetting the noise of the children, which had been so
great a bugbear to her.

Dora had sprung out of bed that morning as soon as she opened her eyes,
for the thought of the pleasure before her made her heart dance for joy.
She had to curb her impatience however for a time, for Mrs. Ehrenreich did
not approve of imposing upon people who were inclined to be neighborly. It
was not till Mrs. Birkenfeld had come over to the cottage, and after
talking some time with the aunt had asked after Dora and repeated her
invitation, that the little girl was allowed to go. This time she did not
stand still and look shyly about; with a few springing steps she reached
the house, and at the door of the sitting-room she was received with a
chorus of welcoming voices; while Wili and Lili and little Hunne and Paula
all ran out to meet her, and draw her in among them. Julius, just returned
from his ride, had thrown himself as usual into an arm-chair, stretching
out his legs, as an intimation that he should like to have his boots
pulled off. Dora ran forward and offered her services, frankly desirous of
making herself useful. But Jule instantly drew in his long legs.

"No, no, Dora; not for the world; what are you thinking about?" he cried,
jumping up and very politely offering Dora his chair. Before she could
take it, the twins pulled her away; saying "Come with us!" and Hunne
tugged at her dress behind, calling loud, "Come with me!" while Paula
reaching over him, whispered softly in her ear, "Go first with the twins;
or they will keep this up all day; bye and bye I will come to you, and
then we can have some comfort together."

"Dora," said Jule, waving off the three noisy creatures, "I advise you to
stay by me; it is your only hope of a happy existence in this house-hold;
for I can tell you if you go with Paula, you will grow too romantic; you
will scarcely breathe the fresh air, and will lose your appetite
completely. If you take Rolf for your companion, your whole existence
will become one great perpetual riddle."

"That it will be at any rate," remarked Miss Hanenwinkel, who was passing
through the room at that moment.

"If you prefer to go with Miss Hanenwinkel," said Jule quickly, so that
the governess might be sure to hear what he said; "you will be preserved
in salt; quite the opposite you see to plums, which are done in sugar! If
your choice falls on the twins, you will be torn in two, and as to little
Hunne; if you go with him he will talk you deaf!"

In spite of this melancholy prediction, Dora allowed herself to be carried
off by the twins, and Hunne ran after them. When they reached the piano,
Lili began to play her one piece, and when she came to the end, she
glanced at Dora who nodded so pleasantly that Lili, thus encouraged, began
again at the beginning. Presently Dora began to sing the words; Wili, who
was waiting in vain for his chance to play, joined her; then Hunne too; so
that a loud chorus rang out cheerily from the school-room--

    "Live your life merrily
      While the lamp glows;
     Ere it can fade and die,
      Gather the rose."

They were so carried away by their own music that the voices rose louder
and louder, and Hunne's out-screamed them all. Presently Lili twirled
round on her stool, and said, her eyes shining with joyful expectation:

"Just wait till to-morrow, Dora, and then you'll see!" for the child had
worked so diligently at her exercises that morning that she felt that she
had a right to claim at least half a dozen new pieces from Miss
Hanenwinkel to-morrow.

At this moment the bell rang for the twins to go to their lessons; a sound
that Hunne was well-pleased to hear, for now he could have Dora to himself
till dinner-time; and the little girl gave herself up to him so cheerfully
and with such warm interest in the artistic performances of his
nut-cracker, that he made a firm resolution then and there never to let
her go again. But no sooner was dinner over, than his plan was completely
upset. Paula had finished her French lessons, and with her mother's leave,
she now took possession of Dora. As for Dora, she asked nothing better;
she would have been glad to spend whole days and nights talking with
Paula, telling all the secrets of her heart, and hearing in return all her
friend's thoughts and wishes, hopes and fears. They both felt sure that
they could never be tired of being together, and of sharing each other's
memories of the past and plans for the future. A long life-time would not
be enough for them. It was seven o'clock before they again joined the
family group which was gathered under the apple-tree; and being late they
slipped into their places very quickly, for the father had begun to cough
significantly, to show that things were not just as they should be. During
the meal, Rolf cast meaning looks across to Dora, that seemed to say,

"We two have a plan together next; don't forget!"

While they all sat chatting merrily after supper was over, Rolf was
watching the sky, to see when the first pale star should peep through the
twilight amid the twigs of the apple-tree; and as soon as he spied one, he
came to Dora, saying

"Now, Dora, look, up there!" and he carried her off to the very farthest
corner of the garden, to make sure that none of his brothers or sisters
should interfere with them. He felt quite securely hidden under protecting
nut-trees, and placing himself in the right position, he began his lesson.

"Do you see, there, your five stars--one two three, and then two more. Do
you see them distinctly?"

"Oh yes; I know them so well, so well," said Dora.

"Well, that constellation is Cassiopeia. And now just wait a moment, Dora.
I've just thought of a riddle that is very appropriate. You can guess it
easily, if you try."

"I will if I can, but I am afraid your riddles are too hard for me:"

    "My first's a most delicious drink,
     But best of all when fresh, I think.
     Add then my second, and you make
     An adjective, small pains to take!
     My third must strait and narrow prove
     Or 'twill not lead to heaven above.
     Now for my whole--a countless host
     In which each separate light is lost.

"Have you guessed it, Dora?"

"No, and I'm sure I cannot guess it. I am terribly dull at such things. I
am sorry; for it makes it stupid for you, but I can't help it," said Dora
dolefully.

"Of course you can't help it now, because you are not used to them," said
the boy consolingly. "I will give you an easier one to begin with:

    "For full enjoyment of our youth
     My first is needful as the truth,
     And at man's very farthest end
     My second comes--and now attend,
     Master of Greek Philosophy
     My whole, its shining crown you see."

"I cannot, I cannot, you are only losing time and trouble, Rolf, I do not
know the least bit about Greek things," said Dora sighing.

"Never mind, I will try another country; how is this?" and before Dora
could protest, the indefatigable riddle-maker declaimed:

    "My fickle first is said to be
     England's high-road of industry;
     But Germany denies the same
     And with a _Key_ she makes her claim.
     In Russia, nihilistic power
     Threatens my second, every hour.
     But Rome, Imperial Rome, to you,
     My whole was pride and terror too!"

"That's true!" It was a deep voice that echoed in the surrounding
darkness, and the startled children clung to each other for a moment in
terror. Then Dora began to laugh.

"It is Uncle Titus," she said, "he is sitting there in the summer-house.
Come, Rolf, let us go in and see him."

Rolf assented; and they found Uncle Titus sitting there with his chair
tipped back against the wall, looking very much pleased to see them. Rolf
returned his greeting very cordially, and inquired quite casually whether
he had guessed the riddle.

"I think it must be 'Caesar,' is it not, my son?" said Uncle Titus tapping
the lad kindly on the shoulder.

"Yes, that's right; and did you hear the others I was saying, and did you
guess them?"

"Possibly, possibly, my son," replied the good man. "I am much mistaken if
the first is not 'Milky-way,' and the second, 'Plato.'"

"Both right!" cried Rolf, highly delighted. "It is the greatest fun to
make riddles and have them guessed so quickly. I have another, and
another, and one more. May I give you another, Mr. Ehrenreich?"

"Certainly, my dear boy, why not? out with them, all three, and we will
try to guess them all."

Rolf was enchanted, and set about recalling them. "I will take the
shortest first," he said:

    "My first implies strength and grace;
     In all things my second finds place;
     My whole was the scourge of the race."

"Have you guessed that?"

"Very likely, very likely, my son; now the next:"

    "Take all that the senses attest
     Add the sign of the beast for the rest,
     And my glorious whole stands confessed."

"And now another," said Uncle Titus, nodding.

"And now I have a very long one, and rather harder," said the lad:

      "A thrill through all the nations ran,
       When he, my whole, the grand old man,
       Spoke words that e'en my second turn
       My first, with hopes that glow and burn.
       But now are hearts to anger spurred;
       Nations are sick with hope deferred,
    Alas! small chance for Ireland we know!
    My first my second at my whole we throw."

Rolf stopped, quite excited with the declamation of his favorite charade.

"Now we will begin to guess, my son," said Uncle Titus, with a pleased
expression: "First, Bonaparte. Second, Matterhorn. Third, Gladstone."

"Every one right!" cried Rolf, exultantly. "This is splendid! I have
always wanted to do this with my riddles; that is, find some one who could
guess them all. Before this, I've always had a heap of unguessed riddles.
Now they are all guessed, and I can begin again with a new set!" Rolf was
full of satisfaction.

"I will make you a proposal, my son," said Uncle Titus, as he rose from
his seat, and prepared to return to the cottage; "Come to me here every
evening, and bring me the fresh set. Who knows but that I may have a few
to give you in return?"

By this time it was rather too late for the study of the stars, and that
had to be postponed; so Dora and Rolf returned to the rest of the family;
Rolf quite overjoyed with the pleasant interview he had had, and with the
prospect of its repetition; while on his side Uncle Titus wended his way
to the cottage, filled with quiet satisfaction at the thought of his new
friend; for he had always wanted a son, a twelve year old son, who should
have left behind the noise and follies of childhood, and have become old
enough to be an intelligent and agreeable companion. Now Rolf fulfilled
these conditions; and moreover displayed a decided predilection for Uncle
Titus, who began to feel a most paternal interest spring up in his heart
towards the lad. So gladly did he feel it, that as he strode through the
garden, in the light of the shining, starry host, he broke out with,

    "Live your life merrily
       While the lamp glows;
     Ere it can fade and die,
       Gather the rose."

For the tune was floating in his memory as he had heard it sung that
morning by the fresh young voices, and out came the joyous notes under
the peaceful heavens.

At the cottage window, Aunt Ninette stood looking out for her husband; and
as she heard his voice singing this merry melody, it was with nothing
short of amazement that she said to herself, "Can that be Uncle Titus?"



CHAPTER IX.

"WHAT MUST BE, MUST BE."


Time passed quickly at the two houses, in this new and happy
companionship.

"Another week gone already!" and "Sunday again so soon!" were the
exclamations heard on every side, as each week went by. And Dora was the
happiest of all; the days fairly danced with her: they certainly had not
more than half as many hours as they had had in Karlsruhe, and every
evening she was sorry to have to go to bed, and lose in sleep so much of
the little time that remained of her visit. If she could only have passed
the whole night at the piano, practising while the others were sleeping,
she thought she could have nothing more to desire. Her arm was now wholly
healed, and she was taking music-lessons with a kind of furor; and in Lili
she had a teacher whose zeal equaled her own. A most agreeable teacher
too, who did not trouble her pupil with finger-exercises and scales, but
gave her tunes at once without more ado; and first of course the favorite,
"Live thy life merrily." Dora learned the air very quickly with the right
hand, and Lili did not require her to learn the left hand yet; declaring
that it was quite too difficult to play both together. All this
playing-teacher was so improving to Lili, that she began to make wonderful
progress herself, so that Miss Hanenwinkel was equally surprised and
pleased at her improvement, and her mother often paused outside of the
school-room door to listen to the firm but lively touch with which her
little daughter rendered her studies; for Lili had really great talent for
music, and now that a sufficient motive had been applied, she advanced
rapidly.

Paula was in a state of tranquil blessedness all day long. She had found a
friend, and such a friend! The reality of this friendship far surpassed
her imagination and her hopes, for such a one as Dora she could not have
conceived of; one who was so attractive not only to her, but to every
member of the family. Like Dora, Paula grudged the hours passed in sleep,
now that there were so few left that they could spend together.

Rolf had abandoned his old plan of charade-making, and had started on an
entirely new system, and he spent his leisure hours striding up and down
certain of the garden-walks, sunk in thought with his hands clasped behind
his back, and so lost to outward things that Hunne was charged to keep
away from these paths; for more than once he was almost run down by his
brother. A new set of riddles was now ready every evening for Uncle Titus,
who was always waiting for his young friend in the summer-house, prepared
to guess, and showing remarkable skill in finding out even the most
intricate puzzles; and as a natural result, Rolf grew more and more clever
in making them. Before long, Uncle Titus began to give riddles himself in
return, and his were carefully written out; for they required serious
study, as they were in Latin. Rolf carried these home to his father and
Jule, but they would not even try to guess them. Mr. Ehrenreich declared
that his Latin was quite too rusty for such work as this, and Jule
maintained that during vacation he did not dare to tax his brain
unnecessarily; he needed all his wits for his serious work next term. So
Rolf worked away by himself, dictionary in hand, and twisted and turned
the words till he wrung out their meaning. Then he showed them with
triumph to his father and brother, and in the evening carried them to
Uncle Titus. The pleasure which his kind old friend took in his success
spurred the boy on to greater activity. He studied not only the riddles
themselves, but his Latin lessons more earnestly, and he took to early
rising, and every morning before breakfast he worked with his Lexicon in
the garden, as if his livelihood depended on the solution of Latin
puzzles.

Hunne too was a lucky boy in these days, for no matter how often or how
long he hung upon Dora, and claimed her as his own property, never once
did the good-natured girl avoid or repulse her little friend; but always
lent herself to his wishes, and took so much pains to amuse him, that it
seemed as if she found her own pleasure in pleasing him. Mrs. Birkenfeld
had persuaded Aunt Ninette to leave Dora entirely at liberty both morning
and evening, and when in the afternoon she took her sewing and sat with
the family under the apple-tree, she found that even shirt-making might
be an agreeable occupation, under such favorable circumstances as these.

One day Dora made a new riddle for Hunne; for indeed his "nut-cracker" one
had become rather an old story; yet he couldn't bear to give up
riddle-giving. To his unspeakable joy this new riddle had a triumphant
experience, quite unprecedented in the family annals--no one could guess
it. This time nobody could turn him off with, "Oh, go away with that same
old charade." For as no one knew the answer, no one could laugh at the
little questioner, and he and Dora agreed not to give the slightest hint
that might lead to the right guess, and so put an end to this delightful
state of things.

The riddle was this:

    "My first makes you cry--not for sorrow,
     For my second a spoon you may borrow,
     To my whole, you say, 'thank you--to-morrow.'"

What could it be? Julius said it was "Hot-tea, because if the tea is very
hot and you try to drink it, the tears start to your eyes, and then you
cool it with a spoon, and you would like to let it stand till to-morrow."

Hunne jumped for joy, crying "Wrong, wrong!"

Miss Hanenwinkel suggested "Plum-jam," because Hunne often cried when he
couldn't have plums, and everybody ate jam with a spoon, and if plum-jam
was not on the supper-table to-night, it was sure to be, to-morrow.

"Wrong! wrong!" cried Hunne again.

"Well, I guess Tear-ful," said Rolf; but that was even worse than the
others.

"I think it may be Snow-drop," said the mother. "The sight of the snow
makes you cry for joy, and a spoon is used for your drops if you are ill,
and you always want snowdrops to-morrow."

Mamma had failed! "Not Snowdrops; no!" screamed Hunne, almost beside
himself with delight.

"I guess it is _ice-cream_," said Mr. Birkenfeld. "Ice makes me cry
sometimes, it is so cold. Cream certainly needs a spoon, and I have often
heard the cry, 'To-morrow please,' when ice-cream has been mentioned."

Hunne spun round with delight. "No, no!" he shouted. It was almost too
good to be true, that his father should have missed it too. He scampered
about crying out to everyone, "Guess! guess!"

Rolf was really vexed not to be able to see through this simple little
"Hunne riddle" as he called it; and was mortified to perceive that he had
made a worse guess than any one.

Meantime the days were passing. One morning at breakfast Uncle Titus said,

"My dear Ninette, our last week is drawing near. What should you say if we
put off going home, another fortnight? I feel remarkably well here, no
dizziness at all, and an extraordinary increase of strength in my legs!"

"You show it in your looks, my dear Titus--" said his wife tenderly, "you
look ten years younger, at the very least, than when we came here."

"And to my mind, this way of living has done you a world of good too, my
dear Ninette;" replied he, "It seems to me that you find much less to
lament over of late."

"Everything is so different," she answered; "It seems to me that
everything has changed. The noise of the children even doesn't seem the
same, now that I know each one of them. I must say that I am very glad
that we didn't leave here that first week; I feel the loss of something
pleasant now when I do not hear the children's voices, and I am always a
little uneasy if it is perfectly quiet in the garden."

"It is just so with me," said Uncle Titus, "and I cannot get through an
evening with any satisfaction unless that bright boy has been in to see
me, full of impatience to tell me what he has been about during the day,
and eager to hear the enigmas I have to give him. It is a perfect pleasure
to have such a young fellow about one."

"My dear Titus, you are growing younger every day. We will certainly stay
longer," said Aunt Ninette decidedly, "just as long as we conveniently
can. I'm sure even the doctor did not expect such good results from one
country visit; it is almost miraculous!"

Dora lost no time in carrying the enchanting news of this decision to
Paula, for in her inmost heart she had been very unhappy at the thought of
going away so soon. How could she live, away from all this dear family
with whom she had learned to feel so entirely at home? She thought that
when the day of separation came her heart would surely break.

When the good news of Dora's longer stay among them spread through the
family, there was general rejoicing, and the little girl was in danger of
being fairly hugged to death by her friends.

That evening after the children were all safely in bed, and Miss
Hanenwinkel had withdrawn to her own room, Mr. and Mrs. Birkenfeld sat
together upon the sofa, talking. This was the only quiet time that they
could count upon in the course of the day, when they could talk over the
needs, the pleasures and the pains, of their large and busy family. They
were talking now about the decision of their new friends, and Mrs.
Birkenfeld expressed her great satisfaction with it, adding,

"I cannot bear to think of losing Dora. She has grown very dear to me.
What a real blessing that child has been in the family! She leaves her
mark wherever she goes, and always for good. Wherever I turn I find some
new evidence of her beneficial influence. And to me personally she is
particularly attractive; I can't understand exactly why, but whenever I
look into her eyes, I feel as if I had known her for a long time, and as
if we had been sympathetic friends in days gone by."

"Ah, my dear wife, how often I have heard you say that whenever you feel a
particular friendship for any one. I recollect perfectly that after we had
known each other a little while, you said it seemed to you as if we had
been intimately acquainted some time before."

"Well, suppose I did, you most incorrigible tease," said his wife, "you
cannot convince me to the contrary, nor can you take away the fact that
Dora is dear and delightful, not only to me, but to all the family
besides. Paula goes about beaming like the sunshine, and with no trace of
her usual discontent. Jule pulls off his own riding-boots without stirring
up the whole house about it; Rolf is so full of interest in his pursuits
that he has not a moment of idleness all day long; Lili has developed a
love for music and a talent for playing the piano, that we never dreamed
she possessed; and little Hunne has become so gentle and so contented at
his games, that it is a pleasure just to look at the child."

"I think too," said Mr. Birkenfeld, "that it is because of Dora's being
with us, that there has been a cessation of those mischievous pranks that
the twins were always at, and that kept the house in a constant state of
excitement."

"I have not the least doubt of it;" said his wife, "Dora has aroused in
Lili an enthusiasm for music, and all the child's lively energy is turned
into that channel. Wili follows his sister's lead, and they are both
therefore so busy that they have not even a thought for mischief."

"Dora is certainly an uncommon child and I am very sorry she is to leave
us so soon;" said Mr. Birkenfeld regretfully.

"That is what is weighing upon my mind," said his wife, "I am constantly
trying to devise some plan for prolonging her stay still farther."

"No, no;" said her husband, decidedly, "we can't do anything about that.
We don't know these people well enough to try to influence their
movements. They must go away now, but perhaps next year we may see them
here again."

Mrs. Birkenfeld sighed; there was a long winter to come, and there seemed
to her to be but little chance of the visit being repeated.

The day fixed for the departure was Monday, and on the day before there
was to be a grand feast, a farewell festival; though to tell the truth,
none of them felt much like making a jubilee. Rolf alone was in the mood,
and he took charge of the preparations, as an important part of which, a
number of choice riddles were to be hung about the summer-house as
transparencies: in honor of his patron.

On Saturday Dora took her seat, as usual, with the family at dinner, but
no one had any appetite; the coming separation was too much in their
thoughts. As the mother was helping to soup, one after another exclaimed,
"Very little for me," "Please only a little," "I really don't care for any
to-day," "Scarcely any for me, thank you," "And less for me, to-day."

"I should like to ask--" said their father, amid this shower of "No, thank
yous;" "I can't help wondering whether this 'thank you, to-morrow,' style
of thing is caused by grief at parting, or by a general dislike for
onion-soup."

"Onion-soup! onion-soup! that is the answer to Hunne's riddle!" cried Rolf
with a cry of victory, for he had really taken it seriously to heart, that
Hunne's charade had been so long unguessed. The answer was right. Poor
Hunne was quite depressed at this unexpected blow, and in a moment he said
somewhat pitifully,

"Oh dear! papa, if you had not said that about 'thank you, to-morrow,' for
the soup, then no one would ever have found it out. Now I shall have no
more fun with it."

But Dora had a comforting word for him, even now, and whispered softly,
"Yes, Hunne dear, you shall have some more fun with it, for I will bring
over my album this afternoon, and I will guide your hand while you write
the charade in it, and then I will take it to Karlsruhe, and show it to
all the people I know there, and they will all try to guess it."

So Hunne was comforted, and was able to finish his dinner happily. But
under the apple-tree where they were assembled for the last time, the
family were in very low spirits. For the next day Dora must stay with her
aunt to help her, and could not join them until the evening, in time for
the good-bye feast. Paula sat with her eyes full of tears, and did not
speak one word. Lili had already given signs of her state of mind, by all
sorts of restless movements, and at last she exclaimed,

"Mamma, I wish I never need touch the piano again; it will be terribly
tiresome without Dora, and Miss Hanenwinkel will find fault again and say
I am 'not progressing,' and I don't want to 'progress' when Dora is not
here!"

"Oh dear!" sighed Jule, "what terrible days are before us, with danger to
life and limb, when the twins begin again to find their time hang heavy
on their hands. It is a very stupid arrangement anyway," he went on quite
excitedly; "it would be far better for Dora to pass the winter with us.
Her aunt and uncle could go on in their quiet way in Karlsruhe all the
same without her."

The mother sympathized entirely in the children's regret at the separation
and said she hoped to persuade Mr. Ehrenreich to bring his wife and Dora
back for another summer.

Hunne was the only one more interested in the present than in the future,
and he kept pulling Dora's dress and saying,

"Go get your book, Dora! get the book!"

So Dora went to get her album, and brought it over for each one of her
friends, in the good old fashion, to write a verse or a motto in it, by
way of remembrance. It was no new, elegant, gilded affair. It was an old
book, faded and worn, and much of the writing in it was pale with age.
Here and there had been pasted on, tiny bunches of flowers and leaves all
of which had lost their color, and many of which had fallen off. The album
had belonged to Dora's mother, and the verses were all written in
unformed, childish characters. There were also some drawings, and among
these one of a small house and a well, with a man standing near it,
particularly attracted Hunne's attention, and he took the book in his own
hands, and began turning the leaves.

"Hallo!" he exclaimed with a knowing look, as he took out a piece of paper
that lay folded between the leaves; "Mamma has one like this; it belongs
to Lili; the one I am going to America to find."

Julius laughed aloud. "What in the world are you chattering to Dora about
now, Hunne?" But his mother glanced, quickly at the little boy as she
caught his words, took the paper from his hand and read what was written
there.

Great tears fell from her eyes as she read; the memory of long past hours
of her happy childhood rose before her, clear and distinct, and almost
overpowered her, Her own mother's face, and all the sights and sounds of
childhood! It was the other half of her own poem that she held in her
hand, the half that had been kept by her dearly loved friend. She gave it
silently to her husband; she could not trust her voice to read it aloud.

The children watched her curiously as she took the other half from her
notebook, and laid the two bits of yellow faded paper side by side. They
made a sheet of the usual size of old-fashioned letter paper. The writing
was the same on both, and as the lines were joined, their meaning became
plain. Mr. Birkenfeld read the verses aloud:

    "Lay your hand in mine dear,
     Joined thus we need not fear,
     Each the other clasping fast,
     That our union should not last,
     But behold, the fates decree
     That our future severed be.
     We will cut our verse in two,
     Half for me and half for you.
     But we still will hope forever
     That the halves may come together,
     And with no loss to deplore.
     Our friendship be as 'twas before."

The mother had taken Dora's hand in hers. "Where did you get this paper,
Dora?" she asked, much moved.

"It has always been in my mother's album," replied the child with
surprise.

"Then you are my Lili's child!" cried Mrs. Birkenfeld, "and that is what
your eyes always said to me, when I looked into them;" and she folded Dora
softly to her heart.

The children were intensely excited, but seeing how much moved their
mother was, they restrained themselves, and sat very still, watching Dora
and their mother with eager looks. But little Hunne broke the spell.

"Then I sha'n't have to go to America, shall I, mamma?" he said gaily, for
since he had given his word to go to find the lost Lili, he had often
thought with alarm of the long journey that he must take alone.

"No, dear child, we will all stay here together," said his mother, turning
towards the children with Dora's hand fast in hers; "Dora is the Lili you
were to seek, and we have found her."

"Oh, mamma," cried Paula, "Dora and I will be what you and her mother
were; we will carry out the verses. We will say:

    "'But we still will hope forever
     Now the halves have come together
     No farther losses to deplore,
     Our friendship prove as yours before.'"

"Oh yes, and ours," "me too," "so will I," and all the children joined in
promising eternal friendship with Dora. But the mother had taken her
husband's hand and had drawn him away down the shady walk.

"All right, I agree to it all," said Mr. Birkenfeld over and over again,
as his wife talked eagerly, while they walked back and forth. Presently
Mrs. Birkenfeld left him and crossed over to the next house. She asked for
Mrs. Ehrenreich, and now as they sat together by the window, she told Aunt
Ninette in words that came from her heart, with what delight she had
discovered that Dora was the daughter of her earliest and dearest friend;
that friend from whom she had been so long separated, but whose memory was
still green in her heart. She wanted to learn all that could be told of
her friend's life and death, but Aunt Ninette had little to tell. She had
never known Dora's mother; her brother had spent several years in America
where he had married, and his wife had died in Hamburg shortly after
Dora's birth. That was all she knew. Then Mrs. Birkenfeld went directly to
the point. She explained to Mrs. Ehrenreich how much she had enjoyed and
profited by, her long visits at her friend's father's house, and how
deeply she felt that she owed these kind friends a debt of gratitude which
she now saw an opportunity partly to repay, by doing what she could for
Dora. In short, if Aunt Ninette and her husband would consent, her most
fervent wish would be to take Dora and bring her up as her own child.

She met with none of the opposition which she had feared. Aunt Ninette
said frankly that Dora had not a cent of property, and that she would be
entirely dependent on her own work as a seamstress; as neither her aunt
nor her uncle could afford to spend anything on her farther education. She
considered it a great blessing that the child should have found such a
friend, and she heartily rejoiced in her good fortune; and was sure that
her husband would fully agree with her. So there was nothing farther for
Mrs. Birkenfeld to do, but to embrace Mrs. Ehrenreich most cordially, and
then to hasten home to tell the children the happy news. She knew how they
would take it.

There they were all under the apple-tree, all looking towards their mother
and impatient for what she might have to tell them; hoping that it might
be some plan for prolonging Dora's stay. But when the mother told them
that from that day forward Dora was to belong to them, forever, as their
sister and a child of the family, then a shout of joy arose that made the
welkin ring again and awoke the echoes in the farthest corner of the
garden. It aroused Uncle Titus and brought him from his distant
summer-house with a gentle smile, saying half to himself and half aloud,

"It is a pity it will soon be over."

Aunt Ninette was standing at an open window, looking down into the garden,
and as she heard the shouts of joy that rose again and again from under
the apple-tree, she said to herself, smiling "How we shall miss all this
cheerful noise when we are far away."

The children were indeed jubilant, and they decided to organize a feast in
honor of Uncle Titus and Aunt Ninette, a feast more brilliant than any
that had ever before made the shades of the garden glow with splendor.

That night Dora went up to her little room for the last time, for the next
morning she was to move over to the other house. The happy family of
children whom she had secretly watched with longing heart, were now to be
her brothers and sisters; the lovely garden into which she had gazed with
hopeless eyes was henceforth to be her home; she was to have parents who
would surround her always with their protecting love. She was to learn
what the others learned; yes, to have regular studies with them, as well
as music-lessons. Dora's heart was flooded with the thoughts that welled
up within her. One thing she was sure of; that her father was looking down
at her, and rejoicing with her. She stood at the window and gazed up at
the sparkling stars, and recalled the sad hours of depression that she had
known, when these stars did not seem to bring her comfort, and when she
had almost lost faith in that kind heavenly Father, who nevertheless had
now brought all this happiness to her.

She fell on her knees and thanked God for his goodness, and prayed that
she might never again doubt Him, but that even in times of sorrow, she
might be able to say, with heart-felt trust in the words of her father's
verse:

    "God holds us in his hand,
     God knows the best to send."

Uncle Titus and Aunt Ninette engaged their rooms with Mrs. Kurd for the
following summer; Uncle Titus even went farther still, and begged Mrs.
Kurd, no matter what happened, never to promise them to any one else; for
he left her house now with keen regret, and hoped to return to it every
summer as long as he lived.

When Monday morning came, the whole family were on hand before the
cottage, to wish the departing guests good-speed. Rolf drew the uncle
aside, and asked if he might venture to send a charade to Karlsruhe, now
and then; to which Uncle Titus kindly replied that he should receive any
such with pleasure, and answer them with punctuality.

Sly little Hunne, when he overheard these remarks, declared at once, "I
will also send mine;" for he did not doubt that his would be equally
acceptable to Uncle Titus, if not more so. He thought also that the quiet
people of Karlsruhe would never be able to guess such charades as he would
make, and his heart was filled with pride. Dora and Paula wandered arm in
arm into the garden, singing gaily,

    "No farther losses to deplore
     In friendship live for evermore."



APPENDIX.


The Charades in this story, involving play upon the German words and
syllables, are of course nearly all untranslatable; the translator has
therefore substituted English ones; as follows:

                                  PAGE

_Welcome_   for "Heimkehr"          80

_Music_      "  "Katzenmusik"      104

_Milton_     "  "Vogelweide"       105

_Palfrey_    "  "Milch Strasse"    107

_Plato_      "  "Aristotle"        227

_Caesar_     "  "Heliogabal"       228

_Bonaparte_  "  "Wallenstein"      230

_Matterhorn_ "  "Finsteraarhorn"   230

_Gladstone_  "  "Semiramis"        231





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