Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: On Angel's Wings
Author: Greene, Louisa Lilias
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 "On Angel's Wings" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



      in color.
ON ANGELS' WINGS


[Illustration: Violet's Surprise. _Page 89._]


ON ANGELS' WINGS

BY THE HON. MRS. GREENE



London, Edinburgh,
and New York
Thomas Nelson
and Sons



_CONTENTS_


    _I._ _Little Violet_                  9

   _II._ _Mother's Farewell_             16

  _III._ _A Sad Discovery_               21

   _IV._ _Father's Love_                 28

    _V._ _A Strange Book_                43

   _VI._ _Great Excitement_              48

  _VII._ _Fritz and Ella_                55

 _VIII._ _A Bitter Cry_                  76

   _IX._ _Aunt Lizzie's Visit_           87

    _X._ _The Parting Kiss_             105

   _XI._ _The Bunch of Violets_         115

  _XII._ _The Silver Watch_             127

 _XIII._ _Noisy Friends_                136

  _XIV._ _Evelina_                      144

   _XV._ _Weighed in the Balances_      151

  _XVI._ _Father's Letter_              159

 _XVII._ _The Kind Physician_           166

_XVIII._ _Sorrowful Tidings_            181

  _XIX._ _A Bright Prospect_            192

   _XX._ _All Alone_                    212

  _XXI._ _A Guilty Conscience_          232

 _XXII._ _A Startling Message_          239

_XXIII._ _Great Preparations_           249

 _XXIV._ _A Grievous Disappointment_    259

  _XXV._ _Wings at Last_                270

 _XXVI._ "_No more Tears_"              283



_LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS._


_Violet's Surprise_      _Frontispiece._

_Violet helps her Father_             32

_Learning the News_                   52

_Going forth to War_                  76

_Carving the Cake_                    98

_The Farewell Kiss_                  114

_Reading the Letter_                 163

_The Procession_                     275



ON ANGELS' WINGS.



CHAPTER I.

LITTLE VIOLET.


Every one knew little Violet. She sat always in a small window which
projected out over the street, and her purple frock and pale face were
looked for and recognized by almost every passer-by.

She had sat in that curious turret-shaped window for four years--in
winter, in spring, in summer, in autumn. Other children made snow men
and pelted snowballs in the street beneath, while she looked on from
above and laughed and clapped her hands. In the spring the little ones
went off by the score and gathered yellow and purple crocuses, of
which not a few found their way into Violet's lap, or bloomed again in
the vases which stood on the sills of the old-fashioned eight-sided
window. She loved to have those flowers, and took them from the
children's hands with her brightest and most grateful smile. Later on
they brought her violets, sweet wood-violets, and trailing ground-ivy;
but for these flowers she now had no smile, only tears, which gathered
and multiplied, and which would, despite all her efforts, run down her
purple dress in large, bright drops. For was not she herself called
Violet? and had not some one, not so long ago, often whispered this
word to her in a voice which seemed for ever in her ears?--

"My own sweet Violet, lay thy head on mother's breast and rest thee a
while. My little Violet is sweeter to me than all the flowers in the
town."

And now that Violet had no mother, she could scarcely bear to look at
the purple blossoms which they brought to her in bunches; and yet she
put them aside, and, when they were withered, treasured them all in
"mother's Bible," which lay always on a little table beside her.

In summer, in the gap at the far end of the street, between the church
and the fountain, she could always catch a glimpse of the hills--the
beautiful green hills, covered with trees to the very top, and from
whence, in the autumn, the children returned laden with nuts, baskets
and satchels and boxes full; and though Violet did not eat nuts, they
made tea-things out of the shells, and had doll tea-parties in the old
turret-window.

A year ago she had been a very happy little girl; and although even
then she could not walk, nor run, nor jump about like other children,
still she never fretted about it. She had some one always with her
who made the long days pass so happily, that she never stopped to ask
herself why she was unlike the others, or why all the neighbours as
they went by looked up at her with such pity in their eyes.

Only once for a few moments she had seemed to understand something
about it, when little Fritz Adler, her great friend, going by riding on
a stick with a horse's head attached to it, shrieked up to her from the
street beneath in great pride,--

"Ha, ha, Violet! look at me how I can prance; thou couldst not do so if
thou triedst."

"I could," she shouted. "By-and-by, when I can run like thee, I will
ride too."

"No, no, thou never wilt," screamed Fritz, giving his wooden horse a
lash with his leather whip. "I wanted to give thee this horse, this
very one; Ella had bought thee this very whip; but mother said 'No,' it
would be folly to give thee such a present."

"Why?" asked Violet. "Why, Fritz, did she say that?"

"Ah! thou knowest thou art not like other children."

"Why am not I like other children?"

"Because thou canst not run or even walk about like me and Ella. Mother
says thou art a little hunchback, and it would hurt thy poor back to
ride and prance like this;" and Fritz, again lashing his horse, began
to plunge violently up and down on the pavement opposite.

"Fritz, what didst thou say? I am what?" but he could give no answer,
for his mother, who lived in the little baker's shop across the road,
rushing out, promptly secured the offender, and having given him a
smart slap across the face, dragged him back into the house.

"Mother, what did he say I was? and why did his mother slap him? He
called me a little hunchback. What does that mean, mother?"

Violet's mother had not been attending to the conversation. She had
been working at a little white frilled pinafore for her daughter at a
table near the stove, and she had just taken the crimping irons from
the heart of the fire, red-hot and smoking; but when she heard these
words she dropped them suddenly on the floor, and in a moment she was
on her knees in front of little Violet's chair, and covering the
child's thin white hands with kisses.

"What does it signify what it means; he is a cruel boy to call thee
such a name. Thou art my darling, my treasure, my sweetest Violet. Thou
art the most precious little girl in all the town."

Somewhat amazed at her mother's sudden anguish of mind, and at the
passionate way she kissed her cheeks and stroked her hair, Violet gazed
at her with eyes which widened and dilated, and then she seemed for a
few moments lost in thought; after which she said, in her usual quiet
voice, with only the faintest tinge of trouble in it,--

"Mother, dear, is this a hump I have on my back? and is that the reason
why I sit in this chair and cannot walk?"

"Dearest," replied her mother almost in a whisper, "my heart's love, do
not fret or think any more about what Fritz said. Thou art one of God's
own little children, and is not that the best thing of all?"

Violet nodded her head--it was a way she had of agreeing to things said
to her; but still she was not quite satisfied, for after a pause she
said anxiously,--

"But did God give me this hump, mother? and what is in it that it pains
me so?"

As she asked this question, she gave a sudden sob, and some tears fell
on the front of her pretty purple dress.

"Do not cry, my sweetest treasure," cried the mother, drawing the
child's head down on her shoulder, and once more covering it with
kisses. "What does it matter what we are like here? If thou canst not
walk nor run here, by-and-by Christ will carry my little lamb in his
bosom; and if thou hast a hump on thy back now, what does it matter?
Some day the good Lord Jesus will call my little one to himself, and
then all the pain will be gone; and where the poor shoulders ache so
much now, thou wilt have wings, shining wings, and thou wilt never cry
there any more, but always be quite happy."

"And Violet will have wings!--thou knowest that?" said the little
girl, lifting her head suddenly from her mother's shoulder and looking
earnestly into her face.

"Yes, darling."

"Beautiful, shining, silver wings; and no more hump and no more pain?"

"No more hump and no more pain," replied her mother softly.

"And thou wilt be there, dearest mother?"

"Yes, sweetest treasure, I trust I shall be there."

"And father?"

"And father also."

"And Fritz; will he be there? Will he not, mother?"

"I hope so. Yes; but it was not kind of him to speak roughly to my
little one."

"His mother slapped him," said Violet sorrowfully.

"He deserved it," replied her mother somewhat sharply.

The little girl gave a long sigh; and pressing one of the tears which
still stood in a bright drop on the front of her dress with the tip of
her finger until it disappeared in the purple cashmere folds, she said
softly,--

"I love Fritz. I must tell him what thou hast just told me, that though
I cannot run or jump like him or Ella, some day, not very far away,
when the Lord Jesus calls me, I shall have wings. Is it not true,
mother?"

"Quite true," she answered with an effort, then turned quickly away
towards the stove and resumed her ironing.



CHAPTER II.

MOTHER'S FAREWELL.


A year had flown away since that eventful day when Fritz had somewhat
roughly awakened Violet to the fact that she was a little hunchback,
and that she was never to run or walk like him or Ella; and now
everything connected with this little life of hers was changed. The
young mother with the fair hair and the blue eyes and the warm, loving
heart, had flown away before her little girl. The good Lord Jesus had
called her first, and she was asleep now in the little churchyard
beside the church which stood at the end of the street.

She could not shelter nor protect her little girl any more from hurtful
words, nor press her to her heart to soothe the pain which they had
caused her. She could not sit beside her in the window and read and
talk to her till the hours flew by almost unnoticed, so that Violet
often forgot that her back ached and that her legs were weary.

It had come so suddenly too--at least to Violet it was sudden. She had
not noticed the short coughs, or the quick breathing, or the flushed
cheeks; only to her eyes her little mother, as she always called her,
grew more lovely every day. But one night when she was asleep, and
dreaming of a wooden go-cart which Fritz had promised to make for her
the next day, her father came to her bedside and called to her to awake.

"Violet, my darling, thou must awake. Come with me to thy mother; she
is calling for thee."

"For me," she said, rising up with sleepy eyes and tossed hair. "Where
is dear mother, and why does she want me in the night?"

Her father stooped down over the bed and lifted her up in his arms very
gently, for it hurt her to lift her up quickly or roughly; and without
answering her he carried her through the doorway into the inner room.

"Mother, dear, why dost thou want me in the night?" asked Violet,
sleepily stretching out her arms towards the bed in which her mother
lay.

"Is it night?" she replied in a voice which sounded quite strange to
the little girl's ears. "John, where is my darling? I cannot see her;
put her here, close beside me.--There, sweetest one; lay thy head on
mother's breast."

Violet placed her head on her mother's shoulder, and stretching out her
little arm, threw it lovingly round her neck. "What ails sweet mother?"
she said softly. "Art thou sick?"

"Ay, sick unto death. Mother has sent for her little girl to bid her
good-bye. Mother must say adieu to her poor sick girlie; but father
will love thee, oh, so well.--Is it not so, beloved? Thou hast always
been better to her than many mothers."

"Yes, yes," he said huskily; "never fear, thou knowest that I love her."

"And by-and-by she will follow me to heaven. Is it not so, John? She
will be glad to find me there."

"Yes, darling, yes. And now kiss thy little one, and I will carry her
back to bed;" for the childish eyes were beginning to dilate with a
strange terror, and Violet was shrinking nervously back against the
wall.

"Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye," cried the poor mother, clinging to the
little white figure as John lifted her from the bed; "when Violet has
wings she will fly to her dear mother in heaven, will she not?"

"Yes," replied Violet, her face brightening up with a broad, sweet
smile as her father lifted her in his arms, and she leaned her cheek
against his, "beautiful silver wings; but mother must not go to heaven
to-night, for to-morrow Fritz is to bring me my cart, and mother has
promised to put a cushion in it and wheel Violet round the room."

Her father carried her back to her bed and laid her down, oh, so softly
and tenderly, and kissed her with a long kiss, longer than any he had
ever given her before, and then he went back into the room and closed
the door. Violet did not hear anything more. She looked for some time
at the beautiful purple sky outside, filled with thousands of shining
stars. She saw the roofs of the houses with their pointed gables; and
on the top of the chimney opposite she could see the grave figure of
a stork standing upright in the starlight beside its nest. She felt
sad at first and trembled a little, she did not know why. For why had
her mother called her in the middle of the night and said good-bye
to her? Where was she going? She had never gone away anywhere from
her before, and to-morrow she had promised to give her that ride in
Fritz's cart, and to tell her again that story about the cruel tailor
who ran his needle into the elephant's trunk; and Violet smiled and
forgot her troubles as she remembered how the elephant filled his great
trunk at the gutter and splashed it all over the tailor as he sat
cross-legged at his work in the open window; and soon, her mind growing
more composed, and somewhat tangled with sleep, she thought she heard
the tailor crying somewhere outside in the street. She did not like
to hear him sobbing; and every time she looked up, the elephant was
still shooting up water into the air; but the bright drops which she
saw were the stars still twinkling on the dark back-ground of the sky,
and the sobbing came from the next room, where her father was kneeling
brokenhearted by the bedside on which her little mother lay dead.



CHAPTER III.

A SAD DISCOVERY.


It was not for many days that Violet understood that her mother was
really dead; perhaps, indeed, she did not quite understand it for many
months to come. It seemed so strange to her that in the morning when
she opened her eyes her father was boiling the kettle on the stove, and
arranging the little wooden tray, which was always laid on her bed,
with her morning meal, hot and tempting, placed upon it. It was he,
too, who, lifting her gently up, placed the pillows behind her poor
tired shoulders, and propped up her back so that she could sit forward
and eat her egg and the sweet rolls which the baker sent across the
street every day, fresh and smoking, for her breakfast.

"Where is mother?" she asked each morning with a little sorrowful
smile; for her father was so good and kind, and he sat so patiently
beside her bed, and buttered the bread with such care that she did not
want to cry or sob, though there was such a lump in her throat that she
could not swallow what he gave her. "Where is mother, dear father? She
did not come to see me all yesterday."

"She was not able to come," he said in a low voice.

"But where is she? Is she in the next room?"

John bowed his head over the tray, but made no answer. "Here, eat thy
egg, little one; it will be cold."

"Mother always lifts the top off for me," said she with a sob.

"Ah, so she does. I am afraid father is a poor old stupid, is he not?"

She looked up hurriedly, her father's voice sounded so strangely and
his fingers trembled as he tried clumsily to lift the white top off the
egg. Then she saw that tears were streaming down her father's face and
trickling down his beard; and thinking she had pained him by her words,
she threw her arms around his neck and cried out sorrowfully,--

"Thou best father, thou art not a bit stupid. I love thee, oh so much.
The breakfast is too nice; only mother always eats a piece of my cake
and drinks some of the milk, and thou must do so too."

"Yes, yes, of course." John drew his hand hastily across his face,
and broke off a piece of the cake. He drank a mouthful of the milk,
and then quickly rising, he laid the piece of cake on the table by the
stove, and went into the other room.

It was the next day that Violet was told the truth, though the truth
was to remain to her for many a long day a strange and cruel mystery.
When she opened her eyes at the usual hour the following morning her
father was not there, and only old Kate the servant, who waited on all
the various lodgers in John's house, was in the room, standing by the
stove, and pouring some water into a saucepan.

"Where is father?" asked Violet, raising herself up painfully in the
bed, and gazing around her with a frightened air.

"He has gone out," replied Kate, keeping her back turned towards the
child. "Go to sleep. He said I was not to wake thee till he came home."

"But I am awake."

"Never mind; thou must go to sleep again. He said thou wert on no
account to awake or to speak until he returned."

"But I cannot go to sleep again," cried Violet, beginning to whimper a
little. "I can never go to sleep again in the mornings unless mother
lifts me up in the bed and settles my pillows. Is mother gone out too?
She has not come in these three mornings to see me."

Kate did not answer the question, for at this moment she had upset some
of the water out of the saucepan upon the top of the stove, and it
frizzled and made a great hissing and noise.

Meanwhile Violet had raised herself upon her elbow, and was gazing
steadily at the door of her mother's room.

"Kate," she said presently, in a low, coaxing voice, "couldst thou not
carry me in thy arms in there? I know thou art very old, but father
always says I am not heavier than a fly."

"Thy father would be very angry if I were to attempt to carry thee. He
is far too careful of thee to trust thee to my old bones."

"But thou must do it, Kate." Then suddenly raising her voice till
it sounded quite shrilly through the house, she cried out, "Mother,
mother, may I not go into thy room? Dear mother, answer me. Violet's
back aches, and she wants to lie in thy bed."

"Tush! tush!" said Kate, coming hurriedly to the bedside of the little
girl, and putting her hand softly on her shoulder; "thou must not cry
and clamour so, it is no use; thy mother is not in there. She cannot
hear thee; thou wilt only disturb the neighbours."

"She is there, she is there. Open the door. She cannot hear me with all
that noise down there in the street. Do open the door, that I may call
to her."

"There is no use calling to her, poor little lamb," said Kate, sitting
down on the bed beside her and wiping away her burning tears. "She
cannot hear thee. They have taken her away this morning, and she will
not come back any more.--The child must know the truth some time,"
muttered Kate uneasily to herself. "Her father should have told her
before he went out."

"Why did they take her away?" asked Violet, still all unconscious of
the bitter truth conveyed by the words.

"Well, because it was arranged that she was to go this morning."

"But where--where? Canst thou not answer me, Kate? Canst thou not tell
me where is my little mother gone?"

"She is gone to heaven," replied Kate, turning away her head and
lifting her apron to her eyes. "Poor child, why does she ask me such
questions?"

"To heaven!" said Violet with a little start and then a long gasp of
childish agony. "My mother, my own dear mother. She is not gone away,
she is not gone to heaven without her little Violet; it is so far, so
far away."

"Hush, hush, child! It is not so very far away. Thou must not cry so.
If thy father were to hear thee he would be angry with me that I have
told thee."

"My father is not gone to heaven too?" she cried, starting up from her
pillows with a fresh burst of agony. "O Kate, Kate! father will not
leave his little Violet.--Father, father, come, come to Violet."

At this moment the door opened, and her father came in. His face was
deadly pale, and he walked over to the bed with a look of absolute
horror in his face.

"My darling, my sweet one," he cried; "here is thy father. Why dost
thou call for him so? What troubles thee? What makes thee cry? Father
is here now; he cannot bear to see thee weep. What ails thee, my
sweetest treasure?"

"They have taken mother away out of the next room. I screamed to her,
and she would not answer. And--and Kate says she will never come back
to me any more."

John looked up at the old servant with questioning eyes, full of
deepest anger drowned in pain.

"I could not help it, sir. The child awoke and made such a clamour I
had to tell her. What wouldst thou have had me to do?" and the old
woman burst into a fit of such unfeigned weeping that John uttered not
a word of reproach, but turned again to soothe his little trembling
darling.

"Did the good Lord Jesus call my little mother away?" asked Violet with
quivering lips.

"Yes, my heart's treasure, he did," replied he hoarsely.

"And he gave her wings?"

"Yes, yes."

"And Violet is only a poor little hunchback, and has no wings; and
mother said he would call me first."

John laid his head down on the pillow and sobbed.



CHAPTER IV.

FATHER'S LOVE.


It was thus that Violet came to know that her mother was dead; but
weary days and leaden months went by before she ceased to watch and
wait for her; and each morning she only awoke to a fresh surprise, a
fresh thrill of pain, a fresh wrestling of spirit against what could
never be altered.

While her father was in the room she seemed always able to repress the
anguish of her little heart. He was so tender, so pitiful; he tried so
earnestly to imitate the loving ways and words of the poor dead mother.
But when he went out in the morning to the office for his orders, or
to the forest to select wood for his trade, and his daughter was left
temporarily under the charge of Kate, then it was that all the world
seemed going wrong, and that Violet's tears flowed almost ceaselessly.

Kate had a kind, loving heart, but she had, oh, such hard and sharp
bones: and she had not learned by long and watchful practice the
easiest way to lift the poor invalid. Each day when she raised Violet
from her bed and placed her in her bath before the stove, there were
bitter cries of pain and sobbing cries for "mother." Kate, too, was
somewhat stupid and clumsy in the matter of dressing her charge. She
had long sharp nails, which often scraped her little neck and arms; and
the strings of the petticoats so often got into knots, which it took
tedious minutes to undo again.

Each day when John came home for his dinner at twelve, he found little
Violet's eyes red with tears, and her usually pale face swelled and
blotched with the traces of past grief.

"Couldst not thou dress me, father?" she had said once pitifully.

And he had promised to try; but he had not proved much more successful
than Kate. The buttons of his coat had hurt her, and the strings of the
little petticoats were to him an impossibility. He was a great big man,
with hands like a giant; and he had a willing loving heart, bigger than
his whole body, and yet the knots perplexed him even more than they did
Kate; and after one trial even Violet said with a smile,--

"I am afraid father is not a very good dresser, is he?"

To which he replied with a laugh,--

"No; I am afraid father is a regular old botch." But she saw as he
turned away that there were tears in his eyes.

After this she made no further lamentations over her dressing. It was
not that Kate improved much, but she felt that the traces of her tears
and her heavy eyes pained her father to his very heart. She saw it in
his face each day as he entered the room at dinner time. She saw the
anxious look of inquiry, and then the smile of relief as their eyes
met, when there were no blistered cheeks or heavy eyelids to cause him
sorrow.

Her father was by trade a wood-carver, or perhaps more strictly
speaking a toy-maker. He was wonderfully clever, and could make lovely
boxes with carved fruit and flowers on their lids; and he could design
and execute panels of cedar and walnut covered with the most delicate
traceries; but his chief employment was making toys, jack-in-the-boxes,
Noah's arks, sheep-folds, wooden soldiers, and wooden cannon,
nine-pins, and heaps of other playthings; for the town was famous for
its toy-shops, and John worked for one of the largest stores, and was
well known to be the most skilful hand at the trade. He had a little
workshop on the ground-floor of the house, where he had his lathe and
where he kept all his tools, and the wooden boxes also into which, when
the toys were finished, he packed them for the foreign market.

In the old days, when the little mother was upstairs, and he knew that
his Violet was happy, he used to sit in this little den for hours at
a time, carving and singing; while the toys which were to fill the
hearts of the foreign children with delight grew under his hands in
a marvellous way. But now John never sang, and the work he formerly
delighted in seemed to have lost its interest. At last he thought he
would bring some of his work upstairs and sit of an evening in the
window of Violet's room. Of course all the lathe-work and the coarser
wood-carving must be done downstairs, but he could generally find some
occupation which would not litter the room above, and which did not
require noisy hammering or filing.

Violet was enchanted at this new arrangement. She loved to see her
father at his work, and to watch the piece of shapeless wood grow
gradually under his hand into the form he wished it to assume.

Above all, she loved to see him carving the animals for the Noah's
arks. When he had this work to do he always sat close up beside her in
the window; and as he finished each animal he used to place it for her
approval on the window-sill, until sometimes all the narrow ledges
were covered with elephants and ducks and pigs, apparently walking
along in very solemn array.

By-and-by he allowed her to help him in his work. He bought her a
little paint-box, and he taught her how to colour some of the animals,
the yellow canaries, the doves, and the speckled geese. He made her,
too, a little table to fit exactly in front of her chair, very tall,
with rails to it in front, on which she could place her feet, so
that when she worked she need not lean forward to tire her back. The
little birds and foxes and squirrels which she painted were far more
beautifully coloured than those ordinarily placed in Noah's arks,
because the colours she used were much finer than those in common use;
so the good John could say with truthful pride to the neighbours who
sometimes dropped in of an evening to chat with him and Violet,--

[Illustration: Violet helps her Father. _Page 32._]

"See what my little daughter can do; see how she helps me at my work.
There are no such animals to be seen in all Edelsheim." And then
Violet's pale face would flush with pleasure, and tears, born of happy
blushes, would fill her eyes while the neighbours looked admiringly at
the yellow weasels and the little red foxes, coloured perhaps a thought
too brightly, but still very pretty to look at.

The toys, too, with which her room was now well stocked were a great
attraction to the children of the neighbourhood; and, where guns and
drums and swords were to be had for the asking, the little ones of
course loved to congregate. There was beginning to be a talk now about
a war with France, and the children's ideas took all of a sudden a
most warlike turn. They banged the drums and blew the wooden trumpets
and slashed at the chairs and tables till the din was horrible, and
sometimes Violet's head ached, and she wished they would go away. But
when they did go away, and the shadows grew long, and John had not
returned from the forest, or was busy turning some critical work in his
lathe, then she wished they were back again; for when she was alone the
old ache always began at her heart, the old cry came again to her lips,
"Mother, sweetest mother, come back to me."

Of all the children who came to sit or play with Violet, she loved
Fritz Adler the best. He and his little sister Ella were her almost
daily visitors. Fritz's mother, the baker's wife opposite, always
complained that Fritz was the "wildest fly" in all the town; and there
certainly appeared to be an unusual amount of life about him, but
perhaps this was just what made his company so pleasant to her. He
always brought into her room a bright face and a hearty laugh, a great
rush of free joyousness, which seemed to lift the heart of the sick
child out of its languor and make it beat for the time healthily and
happily.

Besides this, she had trust in Fritz. He had never told her a lie, and
she relied implicitly on all he said to her. With his curling hair and
his bright eyes, his fresh colour and his careless stride, he was the
very embryo of a young German soldier, prepared to conquer or to die,
and fear had no place in his heart.

A greater contrast than he presented to poor little Violet could not
be imagined. She was so still, so pale, so passive. Her eyes, instead
of sparkling, were grave, large, and almost the colour of her violet
dress; and since her mother's death Fritz was almost the only person
who had succeeded in making her laugh outright, and even this had been
on very rare occasions.

Ella, like her brother, was the very personification of rude health.
She had rosy cheeks, curly fair hair which hung over her shoulders,
dimpled hands, and great sturdy legs. She was simply Fritz's shadow. He
exercised the same curious influence over her which he did over Violet.
When Fritz galloped up and down the street, sword in hand, threatening
death to every Frenchman who ever breathed, Ella was sure to be
following behind him as fast as her fat legs would allow, imitating his
every word and gesture. When Fritz fell unexpectedly into the gutter,
Ella was certain to fall on the top of him; when Fritz sat in his
little wooden cart drawn by Nero, the great black Newfoundland, and
rushed down the cobbled hill at full speed, Ella was invariably beside
him, with her fair hair floating out behind her in a yellow halo, and
her fat legs propped on the little wooden board in front of her.

If there was one thing more than another that Violet longed to be
able to do, it was to drive in this cart. When she saw the wooden box
flying down the street past the window, with the children seated in
it, her heart gave great leaps of excitement, and she leaned almost
dangerously forward in her chair to see them reach the foot of the
hill. But the coming home was somewhat more tedious. Nero was very good
at galloping down hill, but exceedingly bad about coming up it again.
Fritz generally urged him forward on these occasions by stout tugs at
his tail and fearful guttural sounds, in which Ella joined until her
very cheeks grew purple; but Nero had evidently not a sensitive tail,
and when toiling up the hill he seemed also to grow quite deaf.

It tired Violet to watch them returning; for when she heard Fritz's
excited adjurations, and saw Ella's cheeks blown out like a roasted
apple, she felt somehow as if she were drawing the carriage up the hill
herself; and her shoulders used to ache so that she had to give up
looking out of the window, and lean back in her chair.

Violet had a little basket fastened to a cord, which she could let
down into the street from her window, and into which the children
and the neighbours were in the habit of putting little presents. The
baker's wife, Fritz's mother, often ran across the street and put in
gingerbread cakes, still warm from the oven. The confectioner's boy,
too, as he went by with his loaded tray of dainties, had a commission
from his master to drop a package of sugar almonds or other sweets
into the little wicker-work basket. Fritz, also, who was ingenious,
had contrived an arrangement by which a little bell could be rung from
the street up into her little turret-window whenever there was a gift
waiting below for her in the street. But Fritz was also exceedingly
mischievous; and one day, when he had rung the bell somewhat violently,
and Violet had let down her small basket, she had found inside when
she opened it only a large yellow frog squatting on a vine leaf, which
immediately leaped out, first on her purple dress, and then upon the
floor, where the cat pounced on it, and Violet's screams rang through
the house. But Fritz had already reached the door, and the frog was
carried off in his red pocket-handkerchief, and replaced among the
cabbages in the back garden.

After this she always opened her basket cautiously, especially when the
bell was rung with unusual violence. And on one occasion, observing the
legs of a cockroach issuing from the wicker sides of the basket, she
opened the lid with special care, and seeing its contents, she turned
the basket upside down, and shook everything quickly into the street
beneath. The punishment was complete; for Fritz, who was standing
directly underneath and gaping upwards, received a perfect shower of
cockroaches on his face; and little Ella, also, who was smilingly
gazing up at the window, had to rush into the shop opposite, to her
mother, to have some of the struggling black creatures released from
her web of yellow hair.

This was one of the occasions on which Violet had really laughed. It
would have been impossible not to do so, as the mirth which rose up
from the street beneath was infectious to the last degree. Fritz's
father, standing at his door, and over whose head clouds of steam were
issuing from the bakery beyond, laughed at his son's discomfiture
till the tears ran down his cheeks; and even the grim policeman walked
out into the middle of the street, partly to avoid the black insects
which were swarming on the narrow pavement beneath, and partly to catch
a sight of little Violet's face. He had heard her laugh, and it had
sounded like music in his ears; but now, as she glanced out quickly,
he walked on again with a steady tread and a face like iron. His
sword clanked against the pavement, and the spike on his helmet shone
severely bright, and none could guess, as he passed them, that the
heart so tightly fastened up within his blue uniform was soft as the
baker's dough in the shop beside him, or that his eyes were blinded at
this very moment with sudden tears.

There were occasions when even he had placed gifts in the
basket;--little toys which other hands had played with; story books
which other eyes had feasted on greedily, and on whose pages were
the marks of the little fingers which had held them once, so tightly
and eagerly grasped; and occasionally a bundle of snowdrops had been
dropped in hastily, whose stalks had been rolled in damp moss to keep
them fresh till the morning, for he always placed his gifts in the
basket at night-time. He rang no bell; no eye saw him. He did not call
out to the little figure seated in the window above, with the shaded
lamp burning on the table beside her; he asked for no thanks, but
passed on with the same official tread, the same clanking sword, and
the same ache for ever at his heart.

Violet never knew who it was that placed these presents in her basket.
She often asked Fritz if he could guess; but though he did guess the
butcher, the chestnut-seller, and the lamplighter, simply because they
had children, he never thought of the grave policeman, who so often, as
he walked past, threatened to put him in prison.

Violet treasured these gifts more than all her other presents. She
felt, by a kind of instinct, that there was some story connected with
them. On the fly-leaf of one book she had read with a sudden sting of
strongest pain these words,--"For my own sick girlie, from her little
mother."

"Her little mother!" She had gazed at the crabbed characters till this
word seemed to rise up off the page and enter into her very heart;
immense tears gathered in her eyes, and fell in stars of bitterness
upon the paper,--"For my own sick girlie, from her little mother."

In the evening she had said to Fritz in a low voice, almost imploring
in its entreaty,--

"Couldst not thou, dear Fritz, find out for me who gave me this?"

"I have told thee already," replied Fritz, who was busy sharpening a
wooden sword on the hard edge of the lowest window-sill. "It is the
lamplighter; I am certain of it. Whenever he goes by with his ladder
and lantern, I remark he is always looking up at this house and at
thee; and, besides, his pockets are always bulged out as if he had
heaps of things in them."

The reasoning was, no doubt, good; but it did not satisfy Violet.

"But has he any children, Fritz?" she asked softly and a little
doubtfully, for Fritz sometimes grew impatient if his words were
questioned.

"Of course he has--hundreds of them."

"But are any of them sick--sick, I mean, like me?" she pleaded
anxiously.

"Sick like thee?" he repeated vaguely, for his mind was still engrossed
entirely with sharpening the deadly blade which he held in his hand;
which he did by moistening it in his mouth and rubbing it on the wood
before him, so that the window-sill was now quite black with paint,
and so were his lips--"Sick like thee? How can I tell? All I know
is, he has only one child, and she is the greatest goose in all the
town--that fat red-haired girl called Minna, who sits under the red
umbrella on the steps of the chapel and sells fruit."

Violet shook her head and sighed. Fritz's description of the
lamplighter's daughter did not fit in with her thoughts at all. The
little sick maiden reading the book given her by her mother did not
resemble in any point Fritz's fat girl selling fruit on the chapel
steps.

Again she sighed heavily, and murmured to herself, half in a whisper,
"Oh, I wonder!"

"What do you wonder about? What do you want to know? I'll tell you if
you don't bother," said Fritz quickly.

"I want to know if Minna could ever have had a 'little mother.'"

Fritz had by this time succeeded in smashing the blade of the sword
short off close to the very handle, and was standing up now, looking
very red and angry opposite her, with a fearful smudge of paint on his
lip and another on his cheek.

"Violet!" he cried passionately, "see what thou hast made me do! Thou
art a little goose thyself." He waved the broken stump of the sword in
his hand, and then he stopped.

Violet's book had slipped off her knees on to the floor, and Fritz,
with his natural rough politeness, had stooped to pick it up. As he did
so, he saw the written inscription on the fly-leaf. For a full minute
he gazed at it; then looking up covertly at her, he saw that she had
tears in her eyes.

"Violet," he cried remorsefully, with his two stout arms stretched out
to embrace and comfort her, "don't cry; it could not be the same girl,
for," he added with decision, "Minna never had any mother; of that I am
quite sure."



CHAPTER V.

A STRANGE BOOK.


That evening, when John returned from the forest, he found his little
daughter flushed and excited, with her eyes shining purple in the
twilight and a strange earnestness in her manner, which, he feared,
spoke of a sudden uprising of fever,--that fever which was so slowly
but surely wasting away her little life.

"Thou hast not been very long by thyself, hast thou, my sweet one?" he
said anxiously, as he looked at the eyes raised up so lovingly to his,
but still full of some strange and hidden tremor.

"Oh no, Fritz has been here; and, besides, I have been reading." She
glanced with almost the nervousness of guilt at the little table beside
her, and moved herself restlessly on her chair.

"My darling has been tiring herself, I fear," said John, sitting down
on the window-sill beside her, and putting his great arm round her
lovingly. "Well, now that father is returned, dost thou know--canst
thou guess what he has been about all the afternoon?"

"No, father," she said softly, laying her head down on his shoulder
with a long, weary breath. Her thoughts were evidently engrossed by
some subject of which he knew nothing.

"Ah, my sweet one must not sigh like that," he said, drawing her
tenderly towards him; "it makes father's heart ache; and, besides, when
Violet hears father's news, instead of crying, she will almost fly out
of her chair with joy."

"What!" she cried, sitting so suddenly up that John was almost
terrified, and had to loose his close grasp of his little girl; "tell
me, father, quickly, quickly, tell Violet thy news."

John gazed at her in silent wonder. He did not understand this
mood--the brightly-glittering eyes, the deepening flush, the expression
of a burning but unspoken anxiety, and the constant restless motion of
the little hand which lay hot and dry in his palm.

"What hast thou been reading?" he asked curiously, stretching out his
arm towards the little table beside her, on which now for the first
time he had noticed a book--a strange book with a yellow-spotted paper
cover and red edges. It was open, but was turned down upon the Bible
which always rested on the table beside her chair--her mother's Bible,
the most precious thing she had in all the world.

"Who gave thee this new book, and what story hast thou been troubling
thy poor head with?" he asked kindly, as he would have lifted it from
its resting-place.

"Ah, do not touch it," she cried quickly, as she withdrew one hand from
his grasp and laid it on the yellow-spotted cover; "I have not finished
it yet. It is too lovely a story, and--first--first I must tell it all
to Fritz; and then--then, father, if Fritz says it is true, then I
will tell it all to thee." She ended her sentence with a quick sob of
excitement.

"Who gave thee the book, Violet?"

"I do not know, father." She rubbed her fingers up and down the cover
restlessly.

"Thou dost not know?"

"No; I have tried to think, but cannot tell. Fritz said perhaps it was
the lantern-man gave it to me; but then his girl never had any mother."

"My little life, my heart's blood, what ails thee? Let us talk no
more of books or lantern-men, but instead, we will speak of the grand
carriage that father is going to make for his Violet," cried John,
beside himself with a sudden fear that the fever had risen to the sick
child's head, and was filling the poor, weary brain with distracting
fancies.

He lifted her out of her chair with tenderest love, and, sitting down
by the stove, all forgetful of the evening meal which he so much needed
after his day's work, he told her, in quiet, unexcited tones, as he
rocked her gently to and fro on his knee, how all the week he had been
thinking over a design of a little carriage which he was going to make
for her, and for which he had gone that afternoon to the forest to
choose wood--a carriage with springs, which could go over the cobbles
outside and not shake her poor back, and into which her pillows could
all be put, and in which she would be as comfortably propped up as if
she were in her chair at home. "And if that does not succeed, and my
little one is too tired to drive, then we shall make a carriage with
handles to it, and we shall carry thee everywhere thou choosest to go.
Fritz and I can take thee out on Sundays for long drives. Is it not so,
Violet?"

"Yes, thou and Fritz," she echoed softly; "and then I can go down the
hill and see the place where mother is asleep; cannot I, father?"

"Yes, my heart, we will go there first."

"Will she know I am there? Is she too far up, father?"

"I cannot tell, darling."

"But if--if--if Violet had--"

The question died on her lips, and John had become strangely silent.
By-and-by, as the room darkened and the long summer evening grew
shadowy, he rose up and lifted his little weary daughter in his arms
and laid her down on her bed. This time the knots came undone without
trouble, and no Kate was needed to assist in putting on the white
frilled night-dress, or to shake up the pillows behind her aching
shoulders. John seemed to-night to have hands like her mother's, so
softly did he lay her down and so quietly did he sit by her side
stroking her hair while she said the prayers her mother had taught her,
and to which her little lips remained ever faithful. As he leaned over
her to give her his good-night and a kiss, she said softly, "Another
kiss, father;" which having received, she murmured to herself lovingly,
"Good-night, father; good-night, mother;" and soon she was fast asleep.



CHAPTER VI.

GREAT EXCITEMENT.


When John knew by Violet's regular breathing that she was fast asleep,
he rose gently from his seat beside the bed and went over to the little
table, on which lay, amongst so many others of the child's treasures,
the mother's Bible and the gold-spotted book.

He took them up with quite a reverent, almost a guilty touch, and
placed them with care upon the larger table at the foot of the bed.
Then he lit the lamp, shaded it, and having once more leaned over the
bed to see that Violet slept, he sat down to look at this new book in
the pretty paper cover which seemed by its contents to have so excited
and interested her.

He placed his finger in the page at which he found it open, and turned
first to look at the title. He smiled rather sadly as he read the name,
for it was a book that he remembered well having read himself when he
was a youngster. He had forgotten the stories now, but he recognized
the clumsy woodcut which had had the power not so long ago to thrill
his own heart with a feverish excitement, and make it beat with a mixed
enthusiasm and distress.

But it was with no mixed distress that his eye fell on the page where
he had just placed his finger, and which had evidently been the centre
point of poor little Violet's interest. On one side of the open book
was a plate, divided by the old-fashioned style into three consecutive
pictures, one above, one in the middle, and one at the foot of the
page. On the opposite side was a short poem, consisting of three
verses, each verse explanatory of the plate opposite it.

It was called "The Hunchbacked Girl;" and as his eyes fell on the name
and the pictures which accompanied it, he closed the book hurriedly,
and said in a voice straining between anger and tears, "How wicked!
They shall answer to me for this."

But by-and-by, making a strong effort over himself, he opened at the
page again and stared at the plates and the print until he saw them no
more.

The first picture represented a woman lying, evidently at the verge of
death, in one of the garret rooms of a house situated in a large town;
for one could see through the open window the roofs of houses opposite
and the top of a church steeple. By her side knelt a man with a child
in his arms, which he was holding up towards its mother to receive
from her a last embrace; for her hands were outstretched also: and
underneath were written the words, "Auf wiedersehen" (To meet again).

The second picture represented a little child propped up in a chair at
the same window, with its head resting on its hand and its eyes looking
out desolately across the roofs and the steeple to the sky beyond.
Underneath, in small text, were printed these two words, pathetic in
their simplicity, "Ganz allein" (All alone).

In the third picture the room was the same, but the chair stood empty
at the window. The little pallet in the corner was empty also; but in
the centre of the apartment, with eyes steadfastly uplifted, and with
a radiant smile upon its face, stood the little hunchbacked child. On
either side was an angel, holding it by its hands; and from between
its poor, weary shoulders had sprung up two shining wings, rising
into the air behind it, and apparently stretching themselves out for
flight. Underneath was written, in the same small, close, old-fashioned
printing, "Keine thräne mehr" (No more tears).

John did not trust himself to look at the story. He laid his face down
on the page and stretched out his hand on the table, while his fingers
closed tightly on his palm.

"God help my little Violet," he said bitterly to himself; "as long as I
live she shall never be left alone."

But even as he spoke, while his head was still bowed over the open page
before him, and his heart throbbed heavily against the wooden table,
he was aware of an unusual stir in the street beneath, a hum of voices
rising higher and higher, the trampling of many feet, and far off, near
the barrack square, a bugle call, loud and shrill, which made him start
up from his sitting posture and walk quickly to the window.

But what a sight it was his eyes fell upon! The street, so silent and
peaceful a few minutes ago, and to all intents and purposes empty,
was now a surging mass of human beings. All Edelsheim seemed gathered
together in this one narrow thoroughfare. Every moment the voices were
becoming louder, the excitement greater. It was with difficulty the
lamplighter could force his way through the crowd to light the large
lamp which hung in the centre of the street on a chain suspended across
the roadway from the Adlers' house to his own.

John opened the window for a moment, and looked out across the wooden
box filled with violets which stood in the old mullioned embrasure.

"Hist," he cried, leaning down and trying to catch the attention of
some one immediately beneath the window, "what has happened?"

The question was heard, for a woman looking suddenly upwards to see who
spoke, flung her arms high up into the air and cried out in a shrilly
voice of anguish, "War is proclaimed."

He closed the window as suddenly as he had opened it, gave one glance
towards the little bed to see that Violet was still asleep, and then
sank down upon the broad window seat with his face covered.

[Illustration: Learning the News. _Page 52._]

War is proclaimed! Only three words, and yet the whole town was already
rocking with their import. Bells were ringing, shouts were rising,
men and women stood so closely packed beneath that one could have
walked across their heads with safety. Exultant youths, full of their
young life and young blood, so soon to be given and spilt for God and
Fatherland, were flinging their caps in the air; men, too, with beards
and grizzled hair, shouted and gesticulated frantically; others, grave
and silent, turned their voices inward and cried aloud to the God of
the fatherless and widow. Fritz, in his night-dress, at the little
gable window opposite, was blowing a shrill tin trumpet and screaming
out, in his high, boyish voice, "War, war, war!" which was echoed by a
still higher treble in the room beyond.

At last Violet stirred. It was almost impossible that with such a din
going on outside she could sleep on.

In a moment John had risen and was kneeling at her bedside. His hand
had clasped the little fingers which lay so loosely upon the knitted
counterpane. His bearded check was close to the white face on the
pillow, barely discernible now in the closely-shaded light of the lamp
which burned at the foot of the bed. He was ready with the word of love
to quiet her alarms, and with a kiss to soothe her back to sleep, but
they were not needed. She merely moved restlessly to and fro on her
pillow, and muttered to herself in some dreamful excitement,--

"Look! look out into the street! What dost thou see, father?"

John bent low over the child's face and touched it gently with his
lips. He must have kissed her then, or his heart would have broken.

Even in her sleep Violet knew who was bending over her. "Father," she
said softly.

"Yes, my heart's love, I am here beside thee."

"Seest thou? is it not lovely?"

"What? what?" he asked with a sob.

"The little hunchback has wings."

After this she gave a long, restful sigh, and turned her head against
her father's arm. Nor did the noise in the street disturb her any more,
though the cries at times rose almost to shrieks, and though the lamp
in her room burned on unextinguished until daylight had taken its place.



CHAPTER VII.

FRITZ AND ELLA.


The next day there seemed little if any diminution of the excitement.
The crowd was not quite so dense; but ordinary business appeared for
the time almost suspended. People were rushing up and down the street
with slips of paper in their hands on which were printed the latest
telegrams; and persons who were usually engrossed with their work in
the early hours of the day were standing at the doors of their shops
and houses discussing the great news of impending war, news which
gathered with every hour fresh confirmation.

Violet, of course, seated as usual in her chair in the window, could
not but notice the bustle and the stir beneath; but it did not frighten
or distress her, for her father had brought his work up to her room
quite early this morning, and when he was near her she always reposed
on his strength and courage in place of her own.

But John was both distressed and disturbed; and presently seeing that
Violet's hair was a little blown about by the wind, he made it a
pretext for closing over the casement, so that she might not hear what
the people were talking about so earnestly in the street underneath;
and for a time his efforts were successful.

It was only as the day wore on and it came near the time when he had
to go to the store for orders that she grew restless, and the anxious
pleading look came into her eyes which he never could bear to see, and
which to-day he felt less able than ever to withstand.

"I shall not be long away, darling," he said softly as he gathered up
his tools and laid them on the broad window-sill beside her. "See, I am
not taking away my work materials, and I shall be back almost before
thou thinkest that I am gone. I will send Kate to sit with thee, and
thou canst teach her how to paint the ducks for the magnet-box, only
this time I would not give them scarlet wings; black, I think, would be
better."

Violet smiled at the idea of Kate's trying to paint the ducks--Kate,
who was so blind that she could not see a cockroach creeping across the
kitchen floor, and the length of whose nails would sadly interfere with
her holding the paint-brush.

"I would rather have Fritz to sit with me," she said plaintively.

"Fritz! ah, well; but is not this the time for his school?"

"He has not been at school all to-day. I have seen him ever so often
at the window. See, father, he is there now; and oh! only look what a
dress he has got on."

She burst out laughing, and even John with his heavy heart could
not repress a smile, for there at the window opposite stood Fritz
with an enormous spiked helmet on his head; a huge military coat
buttoned across his chest, which covered his whole body; and a pair of
riding-boots on his legs, which evidently encumbered him a good deal,
for just at this moment, while John and Violet were gazing at him, he
made a sudden rush at some unseen enemy beside the curtain, and one of
the boots doubling up at the ankle he fell waddling on the floor, his
helmet tumbling off his head and going almost out of the window, while
all his efforts to get up again, even with the assistance of fat Ella,
who tugged at him with all her might and main, were fruitless.

Again Violet burst out into one of those rare fits of real childlike
laughter which always delighted and refreshed poor John's heart; but
to-day, though he smiled somewhat grimly, he turned away quickly to
the door, saying as he went: "I shall see about Fritz coming to sit
with thee; but if his mother will not permit it thou must be content
for awhile with Kate."

"Yes, yes," cried Violet after him; "but do, please, send Fritz here. I
have something so particular to ask him."

She watched her father as he crossed over the street to the baker's. He
was such a great tall man that he had generally to stoop as he went in
at the doorway; but to-day Madam Adler met him at the entrance to the
bakery, and they held what seemed to the watcher at the window upstairs
a very lengthy conversation. Madam Adler, who was a round fat little
body, gesticulating somewhat wildly, pointed first up the street and
then down it, and clutched every now and then at her cap, which was
hanging half off the back of her head, while she gazed up at the great
tall man beside her, whose grave eyes were fixed intently upon her
face, and who listened earnestly while she poured forth a torrent of
words, not one of which Violet could hear from the buzz and noise in
the street beneath.

Fritz, who had regained his legs by this time, was now standing in the
window opposite, making frantic signs across to Violet, who at first
remained quite unconscious of his efforts; but presently looking up
she saw him waving a sword furiously across the street to attract her
attention; and seeing now he had secured it, he proceeded to make a
sudden lunge at Ella, digging the weapon apparently deep into the
very middle of her body. Ella immediately collapsed on the floor, and
Fritz continued for some time to prod her violently. Violet screamed
and turned away her head; but when she looked round again, Ella, with
an enormous brown paper helmet on her head, was standing beside Fritz
in the very middle of the window grinning from ear to ear, while her
assailant, still martially attired in the old trailing coat, and with a
face flushed with victory, had his arm thrown affectionately round her
neck.

By-and-by, as Violet still gazed across and smiled more and more at
Fritz's excited movements, she saw her father enter the room opposite.
He sat down in a chair a little distance from the window and called
Fritz over to him, and a conversation ensued apparently of some
interest, as Fritz never lifted his eyes from John's face while he was
speaking to him, and Ella's countenance also assumed a kind of rigid
stolidity most unnatural to it.

But this tranquillity did not last long; for no sooner had John left
the room, having shaken hands with Fritz and kissed Ella, than a kind
of secondary excitement seemed to take possession of the children.
Fritz first took off his own helmet, and then, while Ella was stooping
down to unloosen her brown paper leggings, he snapped hers off also
with a summary politeness which Ella seemed for a moment to resent;
but Fritz had no time, evidently, to give to trifles. He laid both
helmets on the foot of a couch which projected out into the window,
and then he rapidly divested himself of his coat and his huge leather
boots, winding up by planting Ella on the end of the sofa and tugging
violently at her less cumbersome leggings, until the little girl
descended suddenly upon her back on the floor.

This time a few tears evidently softened the heart of the warrior, for
he stooped down, lifted Ella from the ground, and covered her face with
kisses; and in a few minutes Violet saw them both emerge from their
house hand-in-hand and cross over the street, and push through the
gathering of people towards the door of her own house, which opened
immediately beneath her window.

She felt rather sorry that Ella had come across with her brother, for
she had something to say to Fritz, a question to ask him in secret
about some subject which was troubling her, and which she felt she
could only confide to him in private. But when the door of her room
opened and Ella burst in all smiles and health and happiness, and
rushed over to fling her dimpled arms round Violet's neck, she forgot
for a time about her secret; and her spirits rose, and her white face
broke into one of its sudden smiles, as she noticed scraps of cord and
paper still sticking to Ella's fat legs which Fritz had evidently been
too hurried to remove.

"What hast thou been doing all this morning, Ella?" she asked
curiously; "and why has Fritz not been at school? I have seen him ever
since I was dressed, playing in the window."

Ella's cheeks suddenly deepened to a purple red, and she gazed towards
her brother with eyes which said plainly, "Thou must give an answer to
this question."

"I have not been at school because--because, well, because I did not
go; and besides I was busy doing lots of other things."

Ella's face looked decidedly relieved by this explanation of her
brother's, which was entirely satisfactory to her own mind; but Violet
was much puzzled by Fritz's words and still more perplexed by his
manner, which was strange and quite unlike himself.

While she was pondering with herself what it all meant Ella broke in
upon the silence.

"Yes, Fritz was doing lots of things all the morning--killing and
cutting and stabbing the French, and he gave me an awful scrape on
the arm; just look at it, Violet!" And Ella turned round the fattest
of arms to Violet for compassionate inspection, across which just at
the pink and dimpled elbow there certainly was a most undeniable and
somewhat gory scratch.

"Hold thy tongue, thou little gabbling goose of a chatterbox," cried
Fritz, turning suddenly round in real anger and casting a glance of
withering scorn upon his unhappy sister; "hast thou already forgotten
what I said to thee in the hall downstairs?"

"I did not say anything about the war," said Ella in reply, covering
her face suddenly with her frilled pinafore and grasping on to the
side of the invalid's chair, while she stretched out her hand as if to
defend herself;--"I did not say one word about the war, did I, Violet?"

"No, no; she said nothing--nothing that I heard. She is a good little
lamb, and thou must not frighten her, Fritz," cried Violet soothingly,
as she drew the little sobbing girl over to her side and held her arm
tightly round her fat waist.

"She is a good little new-born donkey," snorted Fritz still in much
virtuous anger; "she has no more sense than the head of a pin. I told
her something only a moment ago downstairs, and the instant she gets up
into the room she must begin to let out the whole secret."

"What secret?"

"About the war," sobbed Ella.

"About what war? I do not understand. Why is it a secret, and why
should Ella not tell me?" she added in a distressed voice.

"He said if I did tell thee he would cut my tongue out with his sword,
and give me to the policeman to put me into the prison," sobbed Ella.

"For shame, Fritz! how couldst thou frighten her so?" said Violet with
quite a hot flush on her usually pale face.--"I will not let him touch
thee, Ella. There, put down thy apron; Fritz was only laughing at thee."

"Of course," cried Fritz contemptuously; "but she is such a little
thrush, she would swallow a camel, hump and all, if one only held it up
to her mouth."

This brilliant sally was suggested by the descent of one of Violet's
newly-painted animals upon Fritz's head from the window-ledge above.

"I would not swallow a camel--I am not a thrush," still sobbed Ella,
hiding her face against Violet's chair.

"Well, well, what does it signify? stop crying," cried Fritz, making
an effort over himself to recover his usual gallantry. "Come along,
let's have some fun.--May we take down all those old beasts overhead
and have a game with them?--may we, Violet? We have not played at
crossing the desert for ages."

"Yes, yes; only take care. Some of them are quite sticky, and one or
two have broken legs; but there are lots of other animals in the Noah's
ark in the corner."

"All right; now we shall have real good fun," cried Fritz, tugging
Ella's lingering arm from the rungs of Violet's chair with reassuring
roughness and making room for her on the bench beside him. "Now, thou
shalt be Noah, and Violet shall be Aaron, and I will be Moses with the
rod."

"What rod?" asked Ella, gazing up at her brother rather doubtfully with
eyes all wet and smudged with tears, while she wriggled herself into a
more comfortable position on the carpenter's hard bench beside him.

"Oh, not the rod thou meanest," he replied reassuringly as he emptied
out pell-mell a whole box full of animals upon the table--cows, sheep,
ducks, elephants, and canary birds, all heaped up in a mound of wild
confusion.

Ella had by this time her yellow curly head pillowed confidingly
against Fritz's left shoulder, and perfect harmony was restored between
them. Violet was now the most silent of the three. For some minutes
past she had seemed in a reverie, and occasionally she looked anxiously
across at Fritz, as if longing but fearing to ask him some question.

Whether he was aware of these longing, sorrowful glances directed
towards him, it was impossible to tell. One might perhaps have thought
so from the way he rambled on in a foolish, disconnected style, while
he ranged the animals two by two along the edge of the table, and
elicited shrieks of laughter from Ella by making the broken-legged
elephant sit on its tail, while the no-legged goose was given a lift
across the desert, seated between the horns of a scarlet cow.

At last they were all arranged in order, from the elephant down to the
little red spotted lady-bird, which was fully as large as the mouse
some distance in front of it; and Ella was desired to keep her feet
and arms under the table, as every time she stretched them out she was
certain to overturn a whole cavalcade of animals.

"Now Moses is going to drive them all into the ark, and I am Moses,"
cried Fritz triumphantly; "and any that are stupid and won't go in for
me, Aaron can pick up and push them in after Moses, as hard as he
likes."

"But Moses did not drive the animals into the ark, nor Aaron either,"
said Violet smiling.

"Yes, yes," shouted Ella, kicking her toes against the underneath part
of the table, so that several of the astonished animals suddenly leaped
high into the air and then fell down on their sides--"yes, yes; Fritz
is right. Moses drove them in, every one, into the ark; he whacked them
with his rod, and off they galloped."

"For shame, Ella!" cried Violet, though she could not help laughing a
little as she looked at the joyous round face opposite her, stretched
in innocent smiles from ear to ear; "it was Noah who drove the animals
into the ark; and besides, that story is in the Bible."

"But Fritz said it was Moses," repeated Ella, whose confidence in
Fritz's veracity was not easily to be shaken.

"I know I did, but I was wrong. It was Noah of course--only, what
does it matter? I never can remember the names of those very old men;
and besides I don't much care for Bible stories--I like bits of them,
that's all."

"Oh!" said Violet, with a sound of such unmistakable dismay in her
voice that Fritz looked up surprised; "thou dost not care for Bible
stories, Fritz?"

"No, he does not; only bits--bits the size of a crumb," chimed in Ella,
who was busy crushing the heads of two stags together, to the total
destruction of their antlers.

"Hold thy tongue, Ella," cried Fritz angrily; "I do like some Bible
stories, of course: Daniel in the lions' den; and Gehazi, who was
turned white for telling a lie--that's a grand story; and the little
child who was standing in the corn in the sun and got a headache, and
who was made alive after he was dead, and given back to his mother--I
like that best of all."

"So do I," screamed Ella, whose mirth was momentarily becoming more
irrepressible. "Get in, old humpy back, into thy box; get in, I say,
old beast." This speech was addressed to a kind of violet-coloured
camel which had stuck in the entrance to the ark and was now standing
head downwards amongst its imprisoned comrades with its heels elevated
in the air.

"Ella, thou great goose, thou stupid little child, what art thou
saying? thou must not speak of humps to Violet." A sudden push from
Fritz's elbow sent the astonished Ella rolling off the bench on to the
floor.

"Violet," cried Fritz, suddenly looking up and taking no notice
whatever of his sister's descent, for at this moment a spasm of
recollection had flashed across his mind, "dost thou know, Violet, the
lamplighter's girl _has_ a mother? I saw her yesterday morning in the
market selling fish."

"Selling fish?" said Violet, repeating Fritz's words in a curious,
absent manner.

"Yes; and such an old lobster I never saw. Her hands were just like
claws, and--but what is the matter with thee? why art thou crying? It
is all the fault of that horrid little Ella. But never mind; mother
slapped me for speaking about thy hump, and Ella shall get slapped too."

"I am not crying," said Violet, vainly trying to keep back a sob; "it
is only because I have been waiting so long, Fritz, to say something to
thee."

"Not about the war?" cried Fritz, colouring crimson and bending his
face down suddenly on the table. "I promised thy father I would tell
thee nothing about it."

"It is nothing about war. It is a secret, but--but I could not say it
to thee before Ella; she would not understand."

"Well, Ella shall go.--Come along home, thou little good-for-nought,
and I will carry thee across on my back."

Ella at these words half moved out from her hiding-place under the
wooden table, whither after her fall she had retreated in some dudgeon,
but she almost immediately drew herself in again, and said flatly,--

"Ella will not go home; mother will smack her for calling the camel a--"

"Hist, thou little goose; mother will do nothing of the kind. Get up
quickly, or I will not carry thee at all; there, hold on tightly now
and keep thy heels quiet, for it is getting so dark and the stairs are
so narrow I might fall down and break thy neck. Say good-evening now to
Violet, and away we go."

He carried Ella over to Violet's chair, and the little maiden put her
soft loving arms about her neck and kissed her with all the strength of
her childish heart.

"Ella did not make thee cry, Violet, did she? Ella did not know that
thou wast so fond of the poor--" She did not finish her sentence, for
Fritz whirled her away suddenly.

But Violet called down the stairs after her, "Ella did not make Violet
cry; Ella is a good girl. Good-evening, sweet Ella."

It was almost dusk when Fritz returned, and John had not yet come
home. Violet heard the boy's step on the stairs, and her heart beat
so fast that the neck of her little purple frock heaved up and down
flutteringly.

She had packed away all the animals she could fit into the Noah's ark,
and the others she had placed in a heap on the window-sill. There was
nothing now on the table before her but her mother's Bible and the book
with the gold-spotted cover.

For the twentieth time since Fritz had left the room, she had opened
this book at the picture of the little hunchback and as hastily closed
it again. "I will ask him first, and then I will show it to him," she
said in a whisper to herself as she looked up nervously at the opening
door.

But Fritz came in quite unconscious of the fluttering heart; his own
was beating so hard that he had to sit down on the chair by the stove
to get his breath, and it was some moments before he gasped,--

"Well, if ever I take that great fat Ella on my back again! I would
rather carry a cow to market on my shoulders than have her hanging on
to my neck and throttling me. First she made me carry her up to the top
of the house, to the very garret, because she said mother was there;
and then all the way down again, because she said mother was in the
bakehouse. Then I had to haul her all the way off again down the street
to Madame Bellard's, and up to the top of that house, where we found
mother and Madame Bollard crying over their coffee like two sea-crabs;
and there I left Ella gaping at them with her eyes nearly falling out
on her cheeks. Pah! she weighs at the least three tons."

"What were they crying about?" asked Violet curiously; "I saw so many
people crying in the street to-day."

"People often cry when they have nothing else to do," he said, jumping
up suddenly from his chair and raking out the ashes from the stove
vehemently,--"at least Ella does; but of course they had something to
cry for--only it is a secret, and thou must not ask me."

"A secret?" she said, nervously pushing the little book in front of
her up and down the table. "Thou hast not asked me yet, Fritz, what my
secret is."

"What is it, then?" he asked, coming close up to the table; and
then recognizing the gold-spotted cover on the back of which
Violet's fingers were trembling visibly, he added, "Is it about the
lamplighter's girl? or hast thou perhaps found out the name of the
little mother?"

"No," said Violet, shaking her head; "I cannot think who the mother is.
But oh, there is such a lovely story in her book, Fritz, and I want so
much to ask of thee, 'Is it true?'"

"Show it to me," said Fritz cheerfully. "Of course I can tell it to
thee at once."

But Violet covered the book with both her hands; and though it was now
almost dusk, he noticed how the blood rushed over her white face, and
she looked for a little while out of the window.

"No, no--in a minute thou shalt see it; but first thou wilt tell me one
thing, wilt thou not, Fritz? only one thing, but quite, quite truly;"
and she turned her eyes upon him so earnestly that the boy felt almost
frightened.

"Of course I will answer thee truly; but first I must hear thy
question."

"If mother were here she could tell me all I want to know," sighed
Violet, putting off the dreaded moment; "and father, I know he could
also tell me, only he does not like me to talk about hunchbacks."

"About hunchbacks!" cried Fritz with a sudden gasp; "I do not know
anything about hunchbacks."

"Yes, yes, thou dost," she cried excitedly. "I am a little hunchback;
thou knowest that; thou saidst so thyself, Fritz, one day long ago.
And now thou wilt tell me this one thing. Is it true--" She paused and
breathed more quickly than ever; the question was evidently one of
gigantic importance.

"Is what true?"

"That God gives the little hunchbacks these humps?"

"Yes, of course; that is to say, first they get a fall or something,
and then God gives them the humps afterwards."

"And what does he put into them?"

"What? I do not understand thee."

"Is there not something inside of every poor hunchback's hump?"

"Yes, of course there is."

"Well, and what is it, Fritz? dear Fritz, tell me what it is." The
question was breathed with actual pain.

"Dost thou mean what is in thy hump--this thing?" and Fritz laid his
hand very softly on her shoulders.

"Yes."

"Why, any one knows that. Bones, of course; I can feel them."

"Bones?" she gasped.

"Yes; bones, and flesh, and skin, and all that kind of thing."

Violet's eyes distended; an anguish crept into them that appalled even
Fritz. She drew the spotted book quickly over to her, and said slowly,
as she opened it at the story of the hunchback, "Look at that picture,
Fritz: that little sick child had 'wings' in her hump, lovely silver
wings; and are not books like this true, Fritz? There are angels in the
page, and the little girl flies up to her mother, and people would not
write what was not true about angels and--and heaven."

The question was a little puzzling; but Fritz answered it without
hesitation.

"The stories in this book are all fairy tales. Look at the cover and
thou canst see that for thyself."

"Fairy tales? but are fairy tales never true?"

"No; at least none that I ever read."

"But God, and the angels, and heaven are all in that book, and they are
true; and the little sick hunchback, that is not a fairy tale, for I am
sick just like her; and why--why must that one little bit be untrue?
And besides," sobbed Violet, whose whole courage and hope seemed almost
to have forsaken her,--"besides, the words under that picture are in
the Bible. I found them in mother's own Bible: 'No more tears.'" As she
lifted up her face to Fritz for some hope, some consolation, immense
tears were running down her cheeks, and the boy felt a tightening in
his own throat too.

"What does it matter?" he said as he pushed the spotted book away from
her; "I will throw this old thing out of the window if it makes thee
cry. Thou dost not want wings; thou art the best little angel in all
Edelsheim: and, besides, flies have wings, and they are horrid beasts;
and so why need one care?" and he threw his arms round her neck, and
kissed her wet face, and whispered every loving name he could think of
into her ear.



CHAPTER VIII.

A BITTER CRY.


The next few days were so full of a new excitement for Violet that she
scarcely had time to think of the little hunchback, or of the shock her
feelings had received from Fritz's words.

All day long she sat in the window, absorbed in watching what was
going on in the street beneath. Regiments of soldiers were constantly
marching past, bands were playing, and flags flying from many of the
opposite windows. Great forage-carts toiled up the hill, driven by
soldiers; and Uhlans were for ever dashing up and down the street on
their great tall horses, so that the points of their lances often
seemed to come up to the very window at which she sat.

[Illustration: Going forth to War. _Page 76._]

But Violet was not afraid of them, for even in their haste they gave
her often a nod as they went by. Many of the Uhlans were friends of
her father's, and though she scarcely recognized some of them in their
square caps, they knew her; and not a few, as they rode quickly past
and saw the white face in the window, felt a shiver at their heart as
they asked themselves the question, "If John goes to the war, what is
to happen to the child?"

But as yet the question was not decided, and though Violet had
heard through Kate some talk of the war, her heart lay still in an
unsuspecting calm.

Once, as she saw a little child crying in the street below and holding
on to its father's long military coat in an anguish of grief, she
lifted her head suddenly and said to her father, who was busy making
one of the wheels for her new carriage, "Thou art not a soldier,
father?"

"No, darling, no, not at this moment."

"Thou wast a soldier once though, long ago, before Violet was born. Is
it not so? Fritz has told me thou wert."

"Yes, a long time ago."

"And wert thou ever in a battle, father?"

"Yes, my sweetest treasure, in several; but we will not talk of
battles. Thou hast not asked me all to-day about the carriage. I have
got the springs home this morning from the blacksmith, and it will be
so light when it is finished that even Fritz could draw thee about in
it."

"How lovely to go up and down the street with Fritz as Ella does, ever
so fast down the hill, and ever so slow up. I am not so heavy as Ella,
am I, father?"

"No, my poor little daughter, I am afraid not."

"And thou, father, some day, thou wilt take me in my carriage to the
hill, and we will gather nuts and bring them home in my carriage; and
every one will wonder when they see no one in the window. They will
look up and they will say, 'Where is little Violet?' and they will
never think that she is gone far, far away, to that hill which is so
very far off."

The child's face was radiant; her eyes had turned to that deep purple
hue which seemed always to match the shadows of her dress, and her
cheeks had crimsoned with the thought of this new and wonderful life
which was so soon to be hers.

Poor John put down his wheel and went over to his favourite seat on the
broad sill beside her. He had purposely set her to talk on this theme,
and now she was breaking his heart with her innocent raptures.

"I am afraid father is a great idler," he said, putting his head down
very softly against her shoulder. "I ought to be downstairs in my
workshop now, instead of chattering nonsense to thee all day."

"But we were not talking nonsense, were we, father? It is quite true
about the carriage, is it not? it is not a fairy tale, father?"

"A fairy tale?"

"Fritz says--;" she paused.

"What does Fritz say?" John asked the question somewhat dreamily. He
had been gazing at her earnestly for some minutes, and now he kissed
her twice passionately, as if without any apparent reason. "Thou art
father's little treasure, his darling, his own sweet little maiden,"
he said with almost a sob in his throat, "and thou must try and grow
strong for father's sake."

Violet looked up a little shyly, and put her arms round his neck. "And
thou art the best father in all the world--dear, dear father."

The old policeman, walking by in the street, saw the little maiden with
her arms so tightly clasped round her father's neck; and he said to
himself with a groan, "Poor maiden! she knows it all now, and she would
fain hold him back if she could;" and he walked on.

But Violet did not know it all, nor for many days did the truth dawn
upon her. It fell to Fritz's lot, as usual, to be the one to proclaim
the tidings.

It was one evening about a month after war had been proclaimed. It had
been a very hot day, and Violet was tired and weak, and not inclined
to play or talk. She was leaning back against her pillows looking out
at the pigeons, which always came at this hour of a summer's afternoon
to sit and preen their feathers on the lantern-chain which hung high up
across the street.

She knew these pigeons quite well; she had given them all names. She
placed crumbs for them every day on the window-sill beside her chair,
and she delighted to see their fussy ways, twirling round and cooing
angrily, and trying to push each other off the sill so as to secure the
larger share of the food.

But to-day she only watched them languidly. For the last three days
neither Fritz nor Ella had called in to play with her. She had seen
them in the street hanging on to the backs of the forage-waggons, and
Fritz had once appeared in the window opposite with Ella's doll speared
at the end of a lance, but seeing Violet beckoning to him to come
across, he had shaken his head lugubriously and disappeared from her
sight.

So Violet, whose back was aching and whose little heart sank easily
under any depressing influence, was alternately watching her father
putting some finishing touches to the hood of her new carriage, and
gazing out languidly at the pigeons and the storks on the red roofs,
and the jackdaw in Fritz's window opposite, hopping everlastingly up
and down from its perch, and screaming out some words which the baker's
boy had taught it with much trouble to say.

Beyond the roofs and between the fretted spire of the church she saw
also the hill, looking so green and fresh in the golden evening air;
and above it there was a pale green sky, flecked with amber clouds and
little bars of red.

Violet sighed heavily, and John looked up from his work.

"What ails my treasure?"

"Nothing, father, only I am so, so tired; and Fritz and Ella, they have
not come to see me for so many days."

"Ah, I will call over there presently and send them across to thee. I
have but one or two nails to put in this hood, and then thy carriage
will be finished; that is good, is it not?"

"Delightful!" cried Violet, raising herself up in her chair to see
better the last finishing touches put to her new possession; but as she
did so her eyes fell for a moment on the pavement opposite, where a
soldier was just stopping at the Adlers' door with a bundle of papers
in his hand, surrounded and followed by a large and excited crowd.

"What is it? father, come here. There is such a fuss in the street. A
soldier has just gone in at the Adlers' house, and all the people are
standing at their door, and one woman is crying."

"I am afraid a great many women and children will cry before this
evening is over," said her father very gravely, as he rose and went
over to the window.

"Why, father?"

"Because their husbands and fathers will have to go away from them
to the war, and leave them. Yes; it is just as I thought. It is the
orderly corporal leaving the names at the different houses. Whose turn
will it be next?"

"But Fritz's father cannot be sent to the war; he is not a soldier,
father?"

"We must all be soldiers, little one, when a war comes, and we are
called out to fight."

"But thou, father, art not a soldier; thou saidst so to me thyself the
other day. Father, dear father, turn round thy face to me. Tell Violet
that thou wilt never be a soldier."

"I cannot tell Violet what she asks me," said John slowly, turning his
face and speaking in a strained, thick voice. "If the king wants me to
fight for God and the Fatherland, of course I must go."

"But he does not want thee; he has not sent for thee?"

"Not yet," he said, sitting down beside his little girl, and lifting
up one of her hands tenderly; "but he may want me. And if he does, I
must go; must I not, Violet? Father could not stay at home if his king
called him. A brave soldier is always ready to fight for his country."

"But thou art not a soldier, father. The king has not called; and if
he were to call for thee, I would not let thee go. For if father goes
away to the war, and leaves Violet all alone, she must die! she must
die! she must die!" Violet sobbed, and rocked herself to and fro in her
chair.

"There, there, my heart, thou must not say such things. The corporal
has not called yet with father's name. Keep still, my lamb, and cease
crying. Fritz will be here soon, and thou wilt see how brave he is.
I will go over and call him," cried John, rising precipitately. The
corporal had come out of the Adlers' house, and was crossing over
towards their own doorway.

"Father, father, stay!" cried Violet. "I would rather have thee to sit
with me than Fritz." She caught at his coat. "Come back to me! come
back, come back!"

But he was already closing the door after him, and in a moment more she
heard his footsteps hurrying down the stairs.

With eyes full of blinding tears, she turned quickly to see him emerge
into the street beneath; but though she brushed them from her eyes, he
was nowhere to be seen. She looked up at the windows opposite, but he
was not there either--only she could see Fritz lying on his face on the
floor, and Ella stooping caressingly over him, with her little white
apron to her eyes.

The crowd was now gathered exactly under their own window, and Violet's
heart beat so fast that at last she cried out loud in her misery, and
Kate opening the door came in.

"Kate, Kate, where is father?" she cried out anxiously.

"Father is busy talking to the corporal downstairs. He cannot come up
just yet."

"The corporal!" screamed Violet passionately; "he is not coming to call
my father to the war? Go down, Kate, to the door, and tell him he must
not call him away. Father could not go to the war and leave me all
alone."

"No, no; to be sure not," said Kate soothingly. "Men with children have
no business to go off fighting. I will tell him so when he comes up,
and-- Ah, here comes Master Fritz, tearing across the street like a
madman, and Miss Ella too."

"Shut the door!" screamed Violet. "I do not want to see Fritz; I do not
want to see Ella: I want only father, only father to come back." But
before Kate's stiff bones could bear her across the room, the door flew
open and the children rushed in.

Fritz's cheeks were purple, his eyes were red, his blue-striped blouse
was damp with tears. Ella tumbled in after him, her face also streaked
and smeared from crying, and her pinafore hopelessly crumpled.

"Hast thou heard the news, Violet?" screamed Fritz excitedly. "The
Reserve has been called out, and father is to go to the war!"

"What is the Reserve?"

"Oh, all the soldiers who have been out fighting before, long ago. My
father was in lots of battles before, and so was yours."

"My father is not in the Reserve?" cried Violet, leaning forward
eagerly.

"Yes; of course he is. I saw the corporal put the same blue paper into
his hand downstairs as he did into father's a few minutes ago."

"And he is to go away to the war?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"The day after to-morrow."

Then such a cry of bitter anguish burst from Violet's lips that Fritz
and Ella absolutely stood aghast with terror. She struggled wildly to
get free from her chair, and to push her little table away which held
her a close prisoner--"Let me out! let me down, Fritz, Ella! I must
find father.--Father, father, father!" till at last the bitter cry
echoed through the room, the house, and out into the street.

Madam Adler opposite heard it, and thrust her fingers into her ears;
the policeman walking past covered his eyes suddenly with his gloved
hands; and John, saying farewell to the corporal in the hall, heard it
also. In a few moments he was up the stairs, and held his darling close
to his heart. Fritz and Ella speedily departed homewards, leaving the
door wide open behind them. John rose and closed it, and he and Violet
were left alone to their grief.



CHAPTER IX.

AUNT LIZZIE'S VISIT.


The next day an aunt of Violet's arrived from a distant town. She was a
sister of John's wife and a wife herself, very young and very fair, and
with a wonderful likeness to the poor dead mother. Her husband, who was
many years older than herself, was amongst the militia, and had not yet
been called out; and at the cry from John's broken heart she came at
once, leaving her own little ones behind her, to remain a few days with
Violet, until the bitterness of the parting was over.

On this day the little girl had made no effort to leave her bed; all
the long morning she had remained with her head buried in the pillows,
and with the sheet drawn over her head, deaf to all comfort or words of
sympathy. For who could comfort her when the appalling fact remained
unchanged that her father was going to leave her, to go to the war, and
she would be left alone?

In vain Fritz had stood by her bed and called to her. He had brought
her a box of the most delicious sweetmeats, a farewell present from
the confectioner; for poor Madame Bellard, like all the rest of the
French residents in Edelsheim, had had to break up her home since
the war was declared, and prepare to leave Germany at once; and now,
as her shop was being closed, the children of the neighbourhood were
profiting by her good-nature. To Violet she had sent a special gift of
great beauty--a box of frosted silver, and all within were sweetmeats
of various colours, pale pink and green and white, which shone
glitteringly, as if they had been sprinkled over with diamond dust.

But no words of Fritz, nor descriptions of the treasure he held in
his hand, could induce Violet to look up. Her head was buried in her
pillows, and no sound but smothered sobbings reached his ears. Once a
little thin hand was stretched out for a moment through the sheets, and
grasped his gratefully, and there was an effort to say something, but
Fritz did not understand it; and having left the sweetmeat-box on the
table beside her bed, he moved away dejectedly, followed by Ella, who,
in endeavouring to walk out on her tip-toes, had nearly fallen down on
her face in the doorway.

Once in the afternoon Violet started up, and lifting herself painfully
from the pillows, flung the clothes from off her face. She had heard
a step on the stairs, and now she heard her father's voice calling
to her. He was standing in the doorway as she looked up, and all the
bright colour rushed to her pale face, and an exclamation of admiration
and surprise burst quite unconsciously from her lips.

"Father, is it thou? Oh, how splendid!"

And splendid he did look this afternoon in his new uniform--a giant in
height, in breadth, in strength, with a fair open face, which could
look stern enough at times, but now there was no sternness about it,
only a searching eagerness to see if he might win one smile from his
darling in the bed yonder.

John had to take his helmet off to enter at the doorway. And now, as he
stood by his little girl's bed, turning himself round with an assumed
pride for her admiration, he looked, as he was, one of the very flower
of the German army, ready to die for his king and fatherland; with a
heart of steel to face the foe, and a heart of wax to be moulded by
those tiny burning fingers in the bed, into whatever shape or form she
chose.

"Has the king seen thee, father?" she asked with a sob and a smile.

"No, my child."

"Ah, he will be delighted. Thou art the finest soldier I ever saw."

"Thou thinkest so, my treasure?"

"Yes, yes; the best soldier in all the army"--she stretched out her
arms lovingly, yearningly--"and the best, the very best, the dearest
father in all the world."

John put down his helmet on the bed; his spurs clattered, his sword
clanked, as he stooped over it; but she heard nothing--only the whisper
in her ear: "Violet, my heart's treasure, how can I go away and leave
thee?"

Later on in the evening, when he had gone out to make some final
arrangements, and to buy some last comforts for his little girl, and
she had relapsed into her former state of speechless grief, there came
a tap at the door of her room, and a voice, which seemed to thrill
through every fibre of her frame, cried softly,--

"Is Violet awake? May Aunt Lizzie come in?"

Violet once more flung down the clothes and made a violent effort to
rise up quickly. Her cheeks flamed to a carmine red, her eyes glowed in
the twilight, and there was something in their expression which made
her aunt pause on the threshold and place her hand suddenly upon her
heart.

"Poor little girlie! all alone?" she said, in the same sweet, low
voice. "Aunt Lizzie has come at a good time to sit and comfort thee."

Violet had not seen her Aunt Lizzie for two long years; but now, at
this crisis of her young life, when her heart was hungering for a face
which she could never see again, and her spirit was crying out for
her lost mother to comfort her, Aunt Lizzie had come in at the door,
with the same gentle voice, the same sweet blue eyes and waving golden
hair, and had laid just such a soft cheek against her own. All Violet's
reserve gave way at once, and she turned with a sudden movement of
overpowering relief, and flung her arms around Aunt Lizzie's neck.

"Aunt Lizzie! Aunt Lizzie! dost thou know, hast thou heard?--my
father--;" here she turned her head in upon her aunt's breast; she
could not finish the sentence--only a storm of sobs completed it.

"Yes, yes; I know it all. Thy father has to go away to the war. It is
terrible. I was thinking of thee all the way in the train, and of all
the other poor little children in Edelsheim who must say 'Good-bye'
to-morrow to their fathers."

"But, Aunt Lizzie, Violet will be so lonely, so quite alone."

"Yes; thy father is so wonderfully good, and so kind, thou wilt miss
him more than most children: I know that well."

"There will be no one to sit with Violet all day, no one to kiss Violet
at night, no one to hear Violet say her prayers, no one to talk about
mother--only Kate, and Kate never knows what Violet says."

"Ah, well, Aunt Lizzie must think of some one to come and stay with
Violet. Our little darling must not be left alone. We will talk to
father this evening. And now Violet must dry her eyes. Aunt Lizzie has
seen so many tears to-day that she feels quite sad; and, besides, when
father comes home we must not weep."

"Where did Aunt Lizzie see so many tears?" asked Violet, still sobbing.

"Oh, so many!--such red eyes and blistered faces!--at the railway
station. It was at first almost impossible for Aunt Lizzie to find a
seat. Only the colonel interfered, and said they must make a place for
her. So many wives with babies in their arms, sobbing and stretching
out their hands; and quite old women from the country, and little girls
about thy size."

"Violet cannot go down to the station and see her father off to the
war, can she, Aunt Lizzie?"

"No, no; it would only make father sad, and it would tire thee."

"Were there any poor little hunchbacks at the station at Edelsheim?"

"What?" cried Aunt Lizzie, with almost a start of horror. "Sweetest
treasure, thou must not say such things. Thou art our own sweet
Violet--a little sick girlie that every one loves, and God most of all.
Is it not so, my loved one?"

"Some hunchbacks have wings," said Violet, with a sudden gasp and a
swift upward glance at her aunt's face. "God gives them wings."

"Yes, dearest child; and some day he will give thee wings too, and then
Violet will fly away and be at rest: she will be so happy up there with
mother; and she will have no more pain in her poor back, and she will
never cry any more, nor have tears in her eyes."

"Yes," said Violet, with a sigh and a long, fluttering sob, "no more
tears. The poor little hunchback in the fairy tale never cried once,
not once, after God gave her wings. I read that in the book, underneath
the picture, and I know it is true, although Fritz will not believe it,
for I found the words in mother's Bible."

"Yes, yes, it is quite true," said Aunt Lizzie softly: "there will be
no more sorrow nor trouble of any kind in heaven--nothing to make us
cry--no more fighting, no more wars."

"No more soldiers, and having to say 'Good-bye,'" added Violet
sobbing. "Aunt Lizzie, Aunt Lizzie, Violet cannot say good-bye to
father."

"Ah, darling, it is hard, but thou must try to say it;" and Aunt Lizzie
pressed the little head close to her breast. "Father is a soldier, and
Violet must seek to be a soldier too. Thou wilt be brave, sweetest
child, for his sake, wilt thou not? Father's heart is breaking at
having to say farewell to his little girl, and yet thou seest, dearest
one, how he strives for thy sake to be cheerful."

"I know a text about soldiers, Aunt Lizzie," said Violet almost in a
whisper.

"What is it, my little girlie?"

"'Fight the good fight;' but, Aunt Lizzie, Violet is too sick to fight,
and her back aches so."

"Violet is one of Christ's own little soldiers, and when she is very
tired she must just lay her head on his breast, and he will fight for
her all her battles, whatever they may be."

"Yes; that is like mother's hymn that we used to say always at night,
'How sweet to rest on Jesus' breast.' And then when mother used to lie
down beside Violet on the bed, and put her arms so closely around her,
Violet used to say, 'How sweet to rest on mother's breast;' and there
was no harm, was there, Aunt Lizzie?"

"None, none," replied the young mother with an effort to keep back her
own tears. "Now lay thy head softly down on Aunt Lizzie's breast, and
she will sing thee to sleep."

"Dost thou know what Kate said to Violet once?" asked the little girl,
a smile spreading over all her face.

"No, my child; what was it?"

"She said Violet would soon sleep on mother's breast, and then Violet
would have no more headaches. Is not that lovely, Aunt Lizzie?"

"Lovely," she answered almost in a whisper.

While they were talking thus, John came in. At first his face was
somewhat white and stern. He seemed afraid to trust himself to glance
towards the bed. When at last he did look across to the corner where
Aunt Lizzie, who had taken off her hat and shawl, was sitting on the
bed beside Violet, his face suddenly changed; a light, a look came into
it, a sudden flush passed over his handsome face, and he stretched out
his hand with a hasty movement and a quick outburst of thanks.

"Lizzie, thou best of sisters! so thou hast come. I scarcely dared to
hope it. It has been too good of thee to leave thy home; and of Henry,
too, to spare thee." He kissed her affectionately, and sat down on the
edge of the bed, where Violet lay, partially supported by her aunt's
arm.

"Ah, God be thanked, my task is now comparatively light." He drew a
long, deep breath, and tried to smile a happy smile as he gazed into
his little girl's face and lifted one of her hands into his own. "I
have had such a busy afternoon," he continued, still searching into the
large wistful eyes opposite him for some ray of cheerfulness. "I have
finished Violet's carriage, and I have bought a lovely cushion for it,
and a rug to put over her feet; and Fritz put Ella into it, and found
it was so light he could draw her up the steep hill from the church
to the fountain without drawing breath: so now Violet can go out also
every day and get some roses in her cheeks.--Is that not so, my heart's
angel?"

Violet nodded her head silently, and pressed her father's hand, but no
words came.

"And father is going to give Violet his canary to take care of for him;
and such a grand cage as he has bought for him, all gold and silver,
and with beautiful green fountains. And Violet must feed him herself,
and see that he is never hungry or thirsty either. Eh, my darling?"

"Yes, father."

"And here is a desk father has got for thee--a real leather desk full
of paper and envelopes and beautiful red sealing-wax; and, look here,
my treasure, a seal with 'Violet' on it. Is not that lovely?"

"Beautiful," said Violet, her eyes dilating and her mouth expanding
with a troubled smile.

"And somewhere in the desk Violet will find, if she searches well for
it, a little box with silver in it, bright silver money to buy stamps
with; and when she wants more money in her box she must ask Madam Adler
for it, and then she can always write letters to father and tell him
all the news."

"Father will write to Violet?"

"Of course, of course;--and the ink-bottle thou hast not seen yet, nor
the pens and pencils," cried John with a sudden access of interest; for
Violet's lips quivered ominously, and one large tear had already fallen
with a splash upon the pink blotting-paper.

"And now we will shut up the desk, and Violet will get up on father's
knee. We are all going to sit by the stove and have our supper. And
father has a cake for thee, which Madame Bellard has baked on purpose
for us. Wait till Aunt Lizzie sees it; it is all sugar on the top. It
was good of Madame Bellard, in all her trouble, to think of us. Was it
not, Violet?"

"Yes, yes, too good," she said softly.

It did not take long to dress her. A couple of shawls fastened loosely
round her, and stockings drawn up over her feet, were enough for the
occasion; and when the coffee was ready the cake was uncovered in all
its glory. Such a splendid cake as it was, all covered with creamy
frosted white sugar; and on the top were letters made of pink comfits,
which formed these words, "John and Violet;" and underneath, in smaller
comfits of the same colour, was added, "Auf wiedersehen" (To meet
again).

[Illustration: Carving the Cake. _Page 98._]

Poor Violet! once her eyes fell on the pink letters it was with
difficulty she could swallow any of the cake. She put a small piece
in her mouth, and crumbled up the rest in her fingers, letting the
currants fall through them on the floor. She drank her coffee eagerly,
so as to swallow down the tiny bits she had taken; and then John,
watching her closely, saw it was no use to offer her any more.

"We must give some of this grand cake to Kate," he said presently. "We
cannot allow Aunt Lizzie to eat it all. And Fritz, too, and Ella, they
must each have a slice." He took up the knife and began to carve the
cake with some recklessness.

Violet watched him intently as he cut a large piece for Kate, then
another for Fritz; and the knife was already buried in the frosted
silver for Ella's slice, when she suddenly stretched out her hand and
cried out piteously,--

"No, dear father, not there. Ah, leave that piece for me. Do not cut
off those words; Violet loves them."

John drew out the knife and laid it on the plate. "Aunt Lizzie shall
cut Ella a slice by-and-by," he said softly; then drew his girl so
close in to his side that Violet could feel the loud beating of his
heart.

After all, the supper proved but a sorry meal, though Aunt Lizzie
talked and laughed and told anecdotes about her children at home,
some of which caught Violet's attention, and drew forth questions and
answers; but every now and then a deep unconscious sigh from John, or a
smothered sob from Violet, would show that their minds had wandered far
away from the little fair-haired children at Gützberg.

At last he got up and laid her down upon her bed. "I must say
good-night now to my darling," he said wearily as he stretched his arms
up into the air. "Father is very tired, and he must go down to the
barracks presently."

"Not to stay--not to sleep? Thou wilt not say good-bye to-night?" cried
Violet. "Dear father, not to-night!" Her appeal broke into one long,
pitiful wail.

"No, no; not to-night. Oh, darling child, if Violet only knew how
father's heart aches, she would not cry so. Try, sweetest darling, to
be brave. Father will come back when he has reported himself to the
captain, and Aunt Lizzie will stay with thee while he is away."

Violet ceased crying aloud, and lying back on her pillows, resorted to
her old device of drawing the bedclothes over her face. John stooped
down and kissed the little hand that grasped them so tightly; then
saying a few words in a low voice to Aunt Lizzie, he went out of the
room.

When he returned about two hours later, Violet was asleep. Her aunt had
sat by her bed and sung to her, in a low, droning voice, little hymns
and nursery songs familiar to her ears in the old mother days, until
at last the sobbing ceased, the hand which held the sheet gradually
relaxed, and the child slept.

Poor John! it was a relief to him to find all so quiet in the room when
he came up. He had the bird-cage in his hand, which he hung up on a peg
in the centre of the eight-sided alcove which formed the window, and
which jutted out some distance over the street.

Then he drew a chair over into the alcove for Lizzie, and they sat down
in the gloaming to talk over Violet and what was to be done to insure
her happiness and comfort during the time he must be away at the war.

It was a long talk and a sad one, and to John, sitting there in the
moonlit window, it seemed as if he were speaking in a dream to the poor
little dead mother; for Aunt Lizzie listened with the same earnest
sympathy, and when she replied it was in the same low tones. When she
spoke, too, of the poor sick child lying now so quietly asleep on the
bed in the corner, she used the very same expressions and endearing
epithets of love, which came back to poor John's ears like whispers
from the grave.

It was finally arranged between them that she was to remain with
Violet for a few days after his departure, so as to allow the first
burst of childish grief to pass over under her loving and watchful
care. Then Aunt Lizzie had hoped that it might have been possible to
have moved the poor little invalid to Gützberg, where she could have
devoted herself to her charge, and she would have done so lovingly
and faithfully. But John had already thought of this plan, and had
consulted over it with the physician, a kind and clever man, who had
known Violet from her birth; and he had decided against the plan,
saying that any attempt to move the child from the room where she had
lived all her little life would be almost certainly attended with fatal
consequences. The shock of a removal, and the tearing up of the frail
tendrils which held this little fading flower to life would cause it
suddenly to wither away. "And besides," the doctor added kindly, "what
should we all do here in Edelsheim without our little Violet? Why, you
might almost as well take down the clock out of the old church tower
and tell us still to know the time of day, as to take our Violet's face
from the window and tell us all to live pure and patient lives. No, no,
good man; leave us the child, and I for one will watch over her."

So John had returned home with sudden tears in his eyes, satisfied
that the doctor was right. And Aunt Lizzie afterwards confirmed
him regretfully in the same view; for she had said to Violet that
afternoon, when she was lying on the bed beside her, "How would Violet
like to leave Edelsheim for a little while, just while father is away,
and to return with Aunt Lizzie to Gützberg? The little children at home
would scream with joy to have Violet amongst them, and they would hold
out their hands to welcome her."

But the child had cried out almost in terror, "No, no, no; do not take
Violet to Gützberg. She must watch for father at the window; she must
wait for him till he comes home. He will not be long away. And besides,
Aunt Lizzie, Violet could not leave her little mother. She is quite,
quite close to Violet down there at the church; and sometimes Violet
sends her flowers; and Fritz calls out quite loud, 'Mother, mother,
Violet sends thee these flowers and her heart's love, and never, never
forgets thee.' Fritz says it is all no use--she does not hear him
calling out; but oh, Aunt Lizzie, Violet knows she does listen, for God
hears all Violet's prayers, and father says my little mother is quite
close to God."

After this outburst from the child's heart her aunt did not seek to
urge her point. To tear asunder such strong links of love would indeed
be death to Violet, and the little aching, loving heart, already half
in heaven, must not be troubled further by any act of hers.

So now, all thoughts of Gützberg having been abandoned, it was arranged
that a little maid called Evelina, who was at present in charge of
Lizzie's children at Gützberg, should be engaged by John as nurse to
Violet. She had been living in Lizzie's family for three years, and
had a pretty bright face, a gentle manner, and up to this time had,
under Lizzie's motherly direction, taken excellent care of the little
ones. She was the only person Lizzie knew whom she could recommend from
personal experience; and she undertook to impress on the girl's mind
that she must, during John's absence, devote herself entirely to the
sick child, and have no thought but for her comfort and happiness.

"One word more, Lizzie," said John, in a low, constrained voice, as he
bent his head down on the back of Violet's chair, which stood empty in
the moonlit window. "If--if, dearest Lizzie, it should please God that
I should not return--what then? What is to become of my poor child?"

"God preserve us from such trouble," cried Lizzie, starting up
suddenly, for there was a movement in the corner. "Hush. Violet will
hear thee. Make thy mind happy. If I were to leave Gützberg and the
children, and even Henry himself, I would come here and be a mother to
her."

"It will not be for long," he said almost inaudibly as he lifted his
helmet from the window seat and rose up. "The doctor told me so to-day.
Thanks, a thousand thanks, good Lizzie. To-morrow at ten I shall be
here to say good-bye. I shall have but a few minutes, that is all. We
start at twelve for the front."



CHAPTER X.

THE PARTING KISS.


Aunt Lizzie slept beside Violet that night, with her arms tightly
clasped around the little girl for whom the day was to break so
bitterly. She found the soft breathing of the child, so peaceful in its
restfulness, almost more difficult to listen to than the quick uneasy
panting of the afternoon, for she knew well the anguish to which she
must by-and-by awaken.

"So He giveth His beloved sleep," she murmured to herself as, in the
summer dawn, she watched the little face so tranquilly turned towards
her; and though occasionally there was a little fluttering sob, it was
only a relic of yesterday's passionate weeping. Once when Violet smiled
in her sleep and nestled more closely to her, Lizzie kissed her gently
on the forehead. The child moved, smiled again, a broadening, happy
smile, and said with a sigh of content, "On mother's breast."

Aunt Lizzie could not sleep. She watched the bands of crimson rising
slowly up behind the roofs opposite like streaks of blood. The cocks
crew and screamed from yard, and garden, and barn. The fountain at the
angle of the street dribbled and splashed monotonously. There was a
child crying in an opposite house, bitterly, ceaselessly. The canary
awoke, stretched its wings with the help of its thin yellow legs, took
a drink at the green fountain, having eyed it first with suspicion,
and then burst out into a loud joyous carol. Aunt Lizzie was afraid it
would awake Violet; but she slept calmly on.

Then the sun itself rose up in all its splendour and shone gloriously
over all. The red roofs blazed and glistened. The orange weather-cock
on the chimney of Madame Bellard's house looked as if each separate
painted feather on its wings were a tongue of fire, while the scarlet
nasturtiums creeping up the red brick shaft trembled and glowed
brilliantly.

Aunt Lizzie's mind, from the long night's watching, felt hot and
confused. The rays of the sun which shone slantingly through the round
old-fashioned panes of glass in the window threw stripes of prismatic
colour on the floor and on the chest which held the dead mother's
clothes and all the little relics of her homely happy life. If that
bitter crying opposite would cease, Lizzie felt as if she could think
connectedly. If it were not for the fear of disturbing Violet, she
would have got up ere now and closed the open pane in the window.

She tried to think of the little children at home at Gützberg, of their
bright smiles, and hearts innocent of care, but it was impossible. A
drum in the distant barrack had begun to throb, and her heart, leaping
up to a sudden agony, throbbed with it.

How many other hearts, too, were stirring at that call! men buckling
on their armour; and women, who had not slept all night, starting up
to fresh paroxysms of grief and despair. It was vain to hope that all
the brave fellows going forth this day from their homes would come
back to them safe and unharmed. Yet each one cried in their heart, "O
God, let this bitterness not come to me"--"Spare, good Lord, spare my
husband"--"Lord Jesus, have pity on my son"--"Beloved, thou wilt return
to me safe"--"Ah, dear one, forget me not;" while the little ones
smiled their adieus, knowing not the dread future.

At six o'clock the whole town seemed astir. Men were talking in the
streets; spurs were clanking on the pavement as soldiers hurried to
and fro. Bugles were calling, and the incessant rolling of drums came
now, not only from the distant barrack across the river, but it seemed
as if the whole air and the blue sky itself were full of this dread
prophetic sound.

At seven o'clock, Lizzie, slipping her arm quietly from under Violet,
got up and dressed herself. When she came to the window, the first
thing she saw opposite was Ella. She was standing in her little
night-dress at the small top window in the roof. Her fair hair was
partly tied back with a little white night-cap, but stray locks hung
out disconsolately. Her face was supported by her two dimpled hands,
and her elbows rested on the sill. It needed but one glance at the
child's face and eyes for Aunt Lizzie to know who it was who had spent
the night in such ceaseless bitter weeping. Even now, though her
attention seemed temporarily attracted by the bustle in the street, she
saw the white frilled sleeve from time to time passed quickly across
the child's face.

In a few minutes Fritz appeared at the other little window in the red
roof opposite. He also was attired in his night-dress; but he had a
drum hung round his neck by a piece of cord, on which, as he looked
down into the street, he began to beat with a prodigious noise; and on
his head was a newspaper cap, from which streamed ribbons of scarlet,
yellow, and blue. When he was momentarily exhausted he flung open the
window, and stretched out his head excitedly.

"War, war, war!" he shouted. "Fritz will go to the war. Fritz will beat
the drum and kill the French, and bang and hack and slash with all his
might, till every man is dead." A brass trumpet which generally hung
on a nail in the garret window, and which was often used by Fritz as
a signal to attract Violet's attention, was now taken down and blown
vehemently into the air; and then the drum was rattled upon more
vigorously than ever.

A few of those gathered beneath in the street looked up on hearing the
noise, and recognizing Fritz, smiled somewhat sadly; but when Lizzie
glanced across again at the little window of Ella's room, the child had
vanished, and the drum having ceased clattering for a moment, she could
hear that the crying in the room opposite had been resumed.

"How she does weep, poor little girl! and what a noise the boy makes,"
said Lizzie, closing over the casement. "He will certainly awaken our
Violet." She tried to attract Fritz's attention, to make him desist,
but finding it useless, she fastened the bolt and turned back into the
room.

To her surprise, on looking round, she found Violet sitting up in her
bed, her eyes wide open and her face very pale.

"Aunt Lizzie?"

"Well, darling, hast thou been long awake?"

"A little while. When will father be here?"

"Very soon now."

"I do not want to say 'Good-bye,' Aunt Lizzie."

"No, darling, it is a hard word to speak."

"Will father say 'Good-bye' to Violet?"

"I suppose so. It is at least likely; but wherefore, darling child,
dost thou ask Aunt Lizzie this question?"

"I do not want to say 'Good-bye,'" repeated Violet in the same sad
voice. "It makes Violet cry to say 'Good-bye.'"

"Ah"--Aunt Lizzie paused with a little start as she suddenly recognized
the cause of the child's distressful thoughts--"ah, I understand it.
Violet would rather that there were no 'good-byes' said. Aunt Lizzie
will tell father so, and he will understand what Violet wishes. Is not
this what thou meanest, dearest child?"

Violet nodded her head. "Aunt Lizzie, what is Fritz shouting about over
there at the window? and is not his father also going away to the war?"

"Yes, my child; and Fritz is screaming out that he will be a soldier
too. He is a noisy lad, that Fritz."

"Violet wants to be a soldier too," said she in an almost inaudible
voice; "but father is so long in coming, and Violet's heart goes so
quick, Aunt Lizzie, and it makes her sick."

"Here, let me smooth thy hair." Her aunt stooped quickly and kissed
the little white face. "Let me bathe thy face and put on a nice clean
pinafore, and then thou wilt look so bright and fresh for father. And
now try and drink this cup of milk. It will do thee good."

She offered the cup to her, but the child shook her head. "I could not
drink it. All the morning something is in Violet's throat, just here,
and she cannot make it go down."

"Well, we will not mind the milk." Aunt Lizzie put the cup on the
table, and brushed out her long fair hair and tied it up with her
purple ribbon. She bathed her face with warm water from the sauce-pan
on the stove, and the pinafore was already half over her head, when the
door opened and John came in.

"Aunt Lizzie, is it father? Tell him, tell him quickly," cried Violet
in a sudden tremor. "Violet cannot be a soldier unless thou tellest him
first what I said to thee."

Lizzie turned from the bed, leaving the pinafore still over the child's
face. John was already half-way across the room, and there was such a
look of questioning anguish in his gaze as it met hers that she could
scarcely frame the words of poor Violet's request. She whispered,
however, something in his ear, which after a second's thought he
readily understood; and stepping over towards the bed, he waited until
Lizzie drew the pinafore down from his little girl's face, gazing at
her with the expression in his eyes of one who waits with a speechless
pain and dread to look on the features of the dead.

But what was this! When the face was uncovered there was a smile, an
actual smile on her lips, and one which grew with the mounting colour
in her cheeks as she stretched up her arms quickly and said in a
hurried whisper, "Father, Violet has been waiting for thee."

"Yes, darling, I am somewhat late, but it was with difficulty I could
push my way up here through the streets. I thought at one time I should
hardly have been able to force my way through them at all, and that I
should have been forced to say 'Good-bye' from the street."

"From the street?" cried Aunt Lizzie and Violet in one breath.

"Yes; the colonel has decided that we are to march through the
Market-place and then down by the fountain and along past these windows
to the station."

"And I shall see thee again, father?"

"Yes, my darling."

"Aunt Lizzie will hold me in her arms, and I will look out at thee from
the window."

"Yes, little treasure, yes."

"And Violet will watch thee coming up the street; and then she will see
thee all the way along, along, until at last she will look, and look
and will see thee no more." The smile had spread wider and wider, and
the eyes fixed on his face had dilated and darkened to their deepest
purple; but now there came a sudden pause, and the lips trembled. It
was evident the struggle could not last much longer. The little heart
was brave, but the flesh was weak.

"Father, I have a secret."

"Yes, my own Violet; what is it?"

He stooped down, and Aunt Lizzie moved away.

"Dost thou see my face, father?"

"Yes, yes; the sweetest face in all the world.

"But dost thou see it, father?"

"Yes."

"Put thy arms round my neck, and I will tell thee Violet's secret."

He put his arms round his little daughter, and held her tightly to his
breast while she placed her lips to his ear. "Violet is a soldier.
The Lord Jesus can make even little sick girls brave. And, father,
listen; look once more at Violet's face; look at her eyes." There was
a pause, and then came the whisper, scarcely more than a fluttering
breath--"Dost thou not see?--no more tears."

He held her back for one moment and looked into her eyes. He kissed
her passionately twice; then recognizing that this whisper was his
darling's farewell, he drew her to his heart with one long, silent
pressure, and turned away quickly. One moment he gazed from the window,
then stretching out his hand to Lizzie with averted face, he passed out
into the street.

[Illustration: The Farewell Kiss. _Page 114._]



CHAPTER XI.

THE BUNCH OF VIOLETS.


For a long time after John left the room Lizzie did not look round at
Violet. She could not trust herself to do so. Bitter tears were running
quickly down her own cheeks, and she dreaded to see the face of the
child, so she sat by the stove and covered her eyes with her hands,
grieving, oh, so sorely, that there was yet another farewell to be gone
through, and that Violet's small stock of strength and brave little
spirit must be tried still further.

She was surprised, therefore, when about a quarter of an hour after
John's departure Violet called to her in a low, quiet voice,--

"Aunt Lizzie, is the flower-shop far from here?"

"No, my darling; it is only just round the corner."

"I mean the stall where Fritz buys the flowers for mother. I forget the
name."

"I do not know the name either," replied her aunt, rising and brushing
the tears off her face; "but yesterday afternoon, when I was walking
from the station, I noticed beautiful flowers for sale in a shop close
to this house."

"Didst thou see any violets there?"

"Yes, plenty of them."

There was a short pause, and then Violet said earnestly,--

"Aunt Lizzie, wilt thou go to the shop and buy me some violets? It is
not far, thou saidst, and I have some money in my new desk."

"Of course I will go," said Aunt Lizzie, turning at once to look for
her hat. "Never mind the money, darling; they will not cost much."

"But I should like to give the money. And please, Aunt Lizzie, buy a
large bunch, and very sweet. Sometimes Fritz buys violets that have no
smell, and I do not care for them."

"All right; Aunt Lizzie will choose the very sweetest she can find. And
now here is the desk, and while Aunt Lizzie is tying on her hat thou
canst take out the money."

Violet opened her new possession, and with trembling, eager fingers,
removed the little secret receptacle which held her newly-acquired
money and drew out several silver coins.

She placed them on the counterpane and waited for her aunt to turn
round.

"Aunt Lizzie, wilt thou do one more thing for Violet?"

"Certainly, anything. What is it, my little darling?" for the child's
face was covered with a crimson blush which darkened in its distress to
almost a purple hue. "Darling, what is it?"

"The cake, Aunt Lizzie, which father put by last night in the cupboard.
May I have it?"

"Certainly." Then, seeing her increased confusion, she added
thoughtfully, "Aunt Lizzie is too glad that Violet should care to
have the cake. It was made for thee, dearest, and madame would be so
disappointed if thou didst not eat some of it."

Violet did not speak. She lifted her eyes nervously to her aunt's face,
and moved her hands restlessly to and fro on the counterpane.

"I suppose I had better cut a slice for thee, the dish is so heavy; and
now I may give thee some milk, dearest. Thou hast had no breakfast."

"Please don't cut the cake, Aunt Lizzie."

"Well, here it is. I will put it on the table beside thee; and here is
the milk."

Violet nodded her head with that silent acquiescence which so often
with her took the place of words, and Aunt Lizzie went down the stairs
perplexed and wondering. When she reached the little side street she
found the flower-stall literally besieged with women and children
purchasing bouquets and bunches of flowers, to give to their dear ones
ere they started for the war--beautiful blue forget-me-nots, moss
roses, lilies of the valley. It seemed this morning as if the poorest
child in the town had a penny to spare for this purpose.

Aunt Lizzie could scarcely force her way to the back of the stall,
where a basket of sweet purple violets not yet unpacked had caught her
eye.

"No, no," cried the woman excitedly as Lizzie put down her hand to
select a bunch; "these cannot be touched until the others on the
counter are sold."

"Oh, it is for a little sick child. I promised I would bring her home
the sweetest in thy shop; and she will pay thee well, too, poor little
girl."

"Who is the child?" asked the woman, curiously looking up at the young
wife's pleading face, a something in the eyes and the voice stirring up
old recollections. "Is it little Violet who has sent thee for them?"

"Yes, yes, the same."

"Take then what thou wilt, and from where thou wilt. There are even
better bunches in the little tub under the table--real sweet violets
from the king's garden; but they are not too good for her."

Lizzie knelt down and selected the finest bunch she could find in the
tub--deep purple violets with the dew still on them and their stalks
bound up with soft green moss.

"Thanks a thousand times; these are real beauties," she said
gratefully. "How much do I owe thee for them?" and she held out her
hand, in the palm of which lay Violet's money.

"Nothing," said the woman quickly. "Go, take them to her; she is
welcome to them."

"But Violet wished to pay; she will be grieved."

"Don't let her grieve, then. She has enough pain in her heart for this
day, I warrant. If she says anything, tell her that I will call some
day myself for my payment; and that will be one look at her sweet
little face. There, take a bunch of those blue forget-me-nots beside
thee, and don't stop to thank me. My hands are too full this morning
for such needless waste of time;" and she turned away quickly to attend
to her other customers.

Lizzie went back with her hands full of flowers and her eyes full of
tears. How this little girl was beloved by all the town!--she a poor,
sick, crippled child; and yet she seemed to have cords of love binding
her to almost every heart in the town. Aunt Lizzie smiled as she said
to herself, "For of such is the kingdom of heaven;" and a vision full
of comfort passed before her eyes of the Lord Jesus standing with
outstretched arms waiting patiently to gather this little suffering
lamb into his arms.

When she reached the house she paused a moment at the door, for she
was anxious to give Violet time to eat some of the breakfast which she
had left beside her, and, in the nervous state in which she had left
her, she felt sure the little girl would not be able to do so if any
one were beside her. So, leaning against the entrance door of the house
with the flowers and money in her hand, she stood a little aside from
the crowd, lost in a sorrowful reverie.

It was not until a figure had darkened the doorway for a full minute or
so that she looked up and perceived the policeman standing in front of
her.

"How goes it with the little girl upstairs?" he said, in a dry,
matter-of-fact voice.

"Pretty well, thank you," she replied, wondering at the interruption.

"Does she sleep? can she eat? is she heart-broken?" He spoke abruptly,
and Lizzie noticed with surprise that his lip was trembling beneath his
thick frizzled mustache.

"She is making a brave fight," replied she warmly; "but the worst is to
come."

"Yes, that is it," he said quickly. "Once he is gone there will be no
keeping her. She will fade away, poor little flower, and be no more
seen. Good-morning. It is well for her to-day that she has one kind
heart to fly to."

He touched his hat with military punctilio as he departed, but his
eyes, which looked straight before him out into the street, were full
of tears.

"How does he know about her?" thought Aunt Lizzie wonderingly as she
went slowly up the stairs; "and what a soft heart he must have beneath
that hard and battered exterior."

When she opened the door of Violet's room she found the child sitting
up in her bed with her face flushed and her eyes unnaturally bright.
She had her desk open on the counterpane beside her, and immediately
in front of her, resting on her knees, was the piece of cake which
yesterday she had refused to allow her father to cut.

Her aunt went over to the bedside with her bunch of deep purple violets
and the blue forget-me-nots and laid them on the coverlet. As she did
so, Violet looked up and said, rather wearily,--

"Aunt Lizzie, canst thou help me?"

"Certainly; what is it?"

"It is so hard to print such a long word;" and she pointed with a
nervous hesitation to the pink letters on the cake.

Her aunt saw it all now--the little scrap of paper covered with almost
illegible letters, and the shy action of the child to hide the effort
from her eyes.

"Couldst not thou hold my hand on the pencil and show me how?" she
asked almost piteously. "Violet prints so badly."

"Of course I can. Wait but one moment until I take off my hat and
cloak, and we will do it beautifully together. It is not, after all,
so badly done," she added comfortingly as she took up the paper and
examined it. "I can read the 'Auf' quite plainly, and the other letters
can be easily improved."

In a little time the words were printed quite distinctly--"Auf
wiedersehen" (To meet again). Violet drew a deep breath as they were
finished, and lay back on her pillows; but after a time she roused
herself up again and said,--

"Still one thing more, Aunt Lizzie. Violet wants to print her own name
on the paper, all by herself. She must do it quite by herself alone;
but thou canst print it first, and then Violet can do it afterwards
ever so like."

Aunt Lizzie saw at once what the child wanted, and so one letter at a
time was drawn by her on a separate piece of paper, and Violet copied
it painfully, until at last, with many shaky strokes and trembling
uplines and places where there were no lines visible at all, the name
"Violet" was printed in, crookedly enough, beneath the farewell words
of love and hope.

"'To meet again'--those are lovely words, Aunt Lizzie, are they not?"
and Violet smiled, for her task of love was finished.

Then with hands that trembled painfully she fastened the crumpled paper
to the bunch of violets lying on the bed, and looked up at her aunt.

"I will not put these," she said simply, touching the blue flowers,
which lay beside the other bunch on the counterpane. "Father will not
forget his Violet; for thou seest I am his little Violet--am I not,
Aunt Lizzie? and he would much rather have those. I know he would."

There was such questioning anxiety in her eyes that her aunt hastened
to reassure her.

"The violets are far the best," she said with decision. "The
forget-me-nots are a present from the flower-woman to thyself."

"Oh, how kind--how lovely!" she said, almost in a whisper, as she
lifted the blue flowers to cover the fast-rising blushes which
the painful excitement of the moment kept ever driving to her
cheeks.--"Aunt Lizzie, what is that?" She started up with a bitter
cry. "It is the drum, it is the drum, and Violet is not dressed."

It _was_ the drum. Her aunt went over to the window and looked out.
Far, far away, down at the foot of the hill close by the church, she
could see soldiers marching out of the Market-place and defiling into
the square in front of the large fountain.

"Aunt Lizzie, is it the drum? Violet knows it is the drum, and she is
not dressed to see father go by."

The cry grew to a shriek. Lizzie's face was deathly pale as she turned
round, but she said quietly,--

"Do not fret, thou dear angel. Aunt Lizzie will put on thy
dressing-gown and hold thee in her arms at the window."

"Quick, quick!" screamed Violet, snatching up the bunch of violets;
"they are coming quite close; I hear them."

"They are still a long way off," said her aunt reassuringly; "it will
take them nearly ten minutes to reach to the top of the hill."

"But my father--he will watch for me, he will look up for me; he will
think I am not there."

"Hush! quiet a moment, or I cannot lift thee in my arms. Oh, what a
little tiny thing thou art! Now where are the violets?"

"Here, here," cried the child, stretching out her hand; "now open the
window quick! Aunt Lizzie, there he is; I see him. My father! my dear
father!"

The band was playing a familiar martial air, the drums thundered and
shook the air, the trumpet-blasts seemed to cut all hearts in sunder;
the old men and children in the windows screamed and shrieked, while
the women in the streets, rushing along wildly beside the soldiers,
uttered loud cries and bitter lamentations; and yet above all was heard
one voice, one little child's voice, uplifted high in its misery.

"My father! my father! look up, look at thy Violet; she is here at
the window.--Aunt Lizzie, hold me tight. I cannot see. The ground is
moving. My father, where is he? I saw him a moment ago."

"He is just approaching; he is now beneath thee in the street, darling.
Lean out; Aunt Lizzie will not let thee fall."

"Father, father! farewell, farewell! come back to Violet."

She flung the violets, as she spoke, far out into the quivering air.
They fell first upon the heads of the surging crowd beneath, and then
upon the ground. The men were marching on, John had passed by, and Aunt
Lizzie groaned as she saw that in another moment they must be trampled
under foot; but while Violet still cried aloud, "Farewell, farewell,"
some one in the crowd had pushed forward, stooped down hurriedly, and
picked them up. It was the policeman; and with a quick onward rush he
had overtaken John in his march and thrust the flowers into his hand.

John gave one glance at the little paper, which had unrolled itself in
its fall and displayed its farewell message to his aching eyes.

He turned his head, waved the violets high above his shining helmet,
and looked lingeringly back at the face so deathly pale at the open
window.

"He sees thee, my darling; he is waving his hand to thee," cried her
aunt with choking tears.

"Farewell, farewell, farewell--'To meet again,'" cried Violet with
failing voice. "Dear father--'To meet again'--to--;" but the black
moving mass had passed out of sight, the helmets had ceased to glitter,
and Violet's head sank on Aunt Lizzie's shoulder with a sob.



CHAPTER XII.

THE SILVER WATCH.


The regiment had at length passed by, and the sound of the drums and
trumpets had become almost inaudible, when Aunt Lizzie rose to lay her
sobbing burden on the bed.

"So, my little loved one, we must rest now," she said softly; "and Aunt
Lizzie will lie down beside Violet while she tries to sleep."

But at this moment a bell over her head rang with a somewhat sharp
clang.

"What is that?" she said, pausing astonished with the child in her arms.

"Oh, it is nothing; only the basket-bell, Aunt Lizzie."

"The basket-bell? what is that, and where is it?"

"The bell is over Violet's chair, and the basket is in the street,"
replied the child wearily. "Lay me down, Aunt Lizzie, for Violet's head
aches so."

Lizzie laid the child on the bed, and shook up the pillows. The bell
rang again.

Aunt Lizzie crept over to the window quietly and looked about her
curiously, till presently, catching sight of a red cord attached to
Violet's chair, she imagined she had lit on the right object. She drew
it up inch by inch, and by-and-by the little straw basket made its
appearance at the window, and she lifted it in.

She hesitated a moment, then seeing Violet's eyes open she asked her
softly,--

"Am I to open it, darling? or shall I give it to thee?"

"Do thou open it, Aunt Lizzie; Violet is too tired."

Her aunt drew out with some surprise a small package, most carefully
fastened up and sealed. On the outside was printed in a clear strong
hand,--"For little Violet, from a friend."

"This must be a present for thee, my child; something very precious it
seems too."

"Oh, not now; put it away, Aunt Lizzie; Violet's head aches so."

"What! thou wilt not even look at it?" cried her aunt, whose own
curiosity was now somewhat raised, and she carried the package over to
the side of the bed; but Violet only pressed her head down into the
pillows and waved the gift away with her hand.

"Aunt Lizzie, Aunt Lizzie, my head it aches so. Come and sit beside
Violet; for her father, her good, dear father, is gone away, so far
away; and what can she do--what can she do--what can she do?" There
were sobs, but as yet no tears.

"Thou canst pray to the good God to keep him safe and well," said her
aunt softly, as she laid the packet on the table; "that will do thee
good."

But while she stooped down and comforted the child with kisses and
loving words, there was a knock at the door, and she cried softly,--

"Oh, who comes now? the child is tired and must sleep."

But it was the doctor who opened the door and walked in. He had
promised John, the night before, to look after little Violet in the
first access of her trouble; and as he walked towards the bed, she gave
him a little smile of welcome.

He sat down beside her, drawing his chair quite close up, and took the
little girl's hand in his, looking earnestly at her for a few minutes
without speaking.

Violet blushed one of those painful blushes so common to her now, which
flooded all the poor pale face with vivid carmine.

"What is this?" said the doctor, turning his eyes slowly away from her
and looking at the sealed package on the table close to him; "what
have we here? A present for Violet, 'from a friend.'" He took it up
in his hand and examined it carefully. "Thou hast not opened it yet, I
perceive."

"No; some other day," she said softly.

"Why some other day? why not now?" and the doctor held out the packet
to her.

She stretched out her hand nervously; but it trembled so, and the
parcel was so weighty for its size, that it fell from her grasp on the
counterpane.

"There, there, that is enough; I will open it for thee." The doctor
took it up and broke the seal, looking at it curiously as he did so.
It had on it a little bird flying out of a cage, with the simple motto
over it, "Free at last."

Inside the first paper was a layer of soft pink cotton wool.

"It must be something very precious," said the doctor, adjusting his
glasses.

Violet rose a little on her elbow and looked also.

"Ho! I have a guess; but I can scarcely believe it possible."

"What?" she asked in a low voice, scarcely conscious even that she
spoke, and with her eyes riveted on the parcel, from which the doctor
was now slowly removing the pink wool.

"Oh, wonderful! I have guessed rightly. It is what I thought; and this
is a gift for thee, Violet."

"But what is it? I cannot see it." She rose now entirely from her
pillows. "O Aunt Lizzie, see--it is a watch!"

"A watch!" cried her aunt excitedly, who had been standing all this
time by the bedside with her eyes full of tears; "is it possible?"

"A watch for me!--how beautiful!" Violet held it in her hand, gazing at
it with those deep purple-coloured eyes which spoke so often to those
she loved, even when the mouth was silent.

"Let me look at it again; it is quite a beauty." The doctor took it
in his hand. It was a silver watch with a double case--a case which
opened with a spring to show the face. The back was all chased with the
ordinary criss-cross lines, only in the centre there was a small round
space with a name carved on it; and on the opposite side there was a
space also, filled in with a wreath of blue forget-me-nots in enamel.

"Oh, how strange! I have certainly seen this watch before. Let me try
if I could read the name." The doctor rose, and going over to the
window adjusted his glasses with great accuracy. "It is just as I
thought--'Margaret.' And who is the friend who has given our little
Violet this beautiful present?"

"I do not know," she said, shaking her head; "it came in the basket."

"In the basket?" said the doctor; "and there was no name?"

"None," replied Aunt Lizzie. "I drew it up myself, and took out the
parcel; that is quite certain."

"Then I must tell no tales," said the good old man smiling; "only
Violet, I know, will take great care of the present;" and turning back
he replaced the watch in her hand.

"Yes," said she softly; but her eyes were full of question.

"It belonged once to a little sick girl whom I knew well, and who is
now an angel in heaven," he said in a low voice.

"A little sick girl," repeated Violet, gazing at him with eyes widening
and darkening.

"Yes; she died early this spring, just when the flowers were beginning
to shoot up and the larks to sing. She just stretched out her wings
like the little bird on this seal, and flew straight up to heaven."

"Her wings!" cried Violet with a gasp; "was she--;" she paused again,
colouring painfully.

"Was she what? what is it, my poor little girlie?" asked the doctor
kindly.

"Was she a little hunchback like me?"

"A what? what does the child say?" cried the doctor in evident
distress.--"Yes, she was like thee; and I will tell thee why: Because
she was one of the sweetest little maidens in the world;" and with a
sudden tenderness he stroked back Violet's hair and kissed her on the
forehead. "She was one of the Lord Jesus' own little lambs; and when
she was very tired and very sad she told him all her trouble, and he
loved her and comforted her."

"Yes," said Violet with a little trembling sigh, and enormous tears
rising up and clouding her eyes.

"And now," he said, sitting down by the bedside and taking the child's
hand, "we must feel Violet's pulse with this new watch and make it
useful."

What a burning little hand it was, and how the poor heart was beating!
There was no need to look at the minute hand, for the thread of life
leaped on at a countless speed, and the doctor closed the cover with a
snap.

"Violet is a good girl; she will take the medicine I shall send her
presently."

She nodded her head, and as she did so the tears fell out of her eyes
upon the linen sheet. She looked up swiftly, deprecatingly at her aunt.

"She has been such a good girl all the morning," said Aunt Lizzie; "she
has been so brave, our Violet. She would not shed a tear to fret her
father or make his heart ache. I think now we may let her cry a little;
is it not so, sir?"

"Certainly; it will do her good to cry." The doctor's voice was husky,
and he dropped his glasses quickly, so that they clicked against the
buttons of his coat. "I shall send her up now at once a little draught,
very small, and without a bad taste; let her take it the moment it
comes; and try and keep the room and the house quiet. We must get her
over this day and night somehow," he added as he reached the door. "Of
all the patients I shall have to see this afternoon there is not one
for whom my heart aches as it does for the little maiden yonder. The
sorrows of this world will not trouble her long. Good-evening;" and
going down the stairs, the doctor blew his nose sonorously and went out
into the street.

The thoroughfare was almost deserted now. The women had gone back into
their houses to weep and pray; and the men, what able-bodied men there
were left, had resumed their daily toil. It seemed as if a great fire
had died out of the heart of the town and left nothing but ashes behind
it. Only the clank of the policeman's sword could be heard resounding
through the empty street, clinking slowly against the stones of the
pavement.

"Good-evening," said the doctor as they met presently face to face;
"how goes it with thee, William? I suppose thy son is off with all the
rest of the lads this morning."

"Yes, doctor."

"It has been a hard day for thee, no doubt."

"Yes, hard enough; though, the good God pardon me, I nearly lost sight
of the poor lad, watching the girl up at the window yonder throwing the
violets to her father. It was enough to make one's heartstrings crack."

"She reminds thee of thy little Margaret, no doubt," said the doctor
kindly. "I have seen the likeness; and I have also seen the joy which
thy kind heart has procured for her this afternoon, at perhaps the most
critical moment of her life."

"God be praised!" said the policeman earnestly. "Can she, will she
live, do you think, until he returns?"

"Heaven only knows," replied the doctor as he nodded his farewell. "It
is well for those good friends who are already at rest."



CHAPTER XIII.

NOISY FRIENDS.


The next morning Fritz and Ella came over quite early, before Violet
was up, to see her. Her head ached still, and Aunt Lizzie had advised
her to stay in bed until after her dinner. All night she had lain with
the silver watch clasped in her hand, and all the morning too she had
held it tightly pressed in towards her. "It had belonged once to a
little girl who was now in heaven;" that had been the burden of her
thoughts ever since she had heard its history. "This little sick child
had stretched out her wings and flown straight up to God." The doctor
had said so; and she remembered a day, long ago, when she had heard her
father say to her mother that the doctor was the best and kindest man
in all Edelsheim. And then poor Violet, burying her head deep down in
the pillows, had said, in a low voice of entreaty, "O good Lord Jesus,
give Violet wings, too, and take her soon to heaven."

Fritz was, for him, quite nervous when he first entered the room, and
Ella kept as much in his shadow as possible. Every one in the house
and in the street had been talking about Violet, and her great trouble
since the departure of the regiment; and Fritz had come to look upon
his little friend as a kind of curiosity, to be approached with an
unusual degree of compassion and gentleness.

But the ruse of the old policeman, to distract her thoughts for a time,
had succeeded almost beyond his hopes. She was quite like herself
this morning, and stretched out her hand at once to her playfellows
affectionately, and said with some excitement,--

"Fritz, look at my watch."

"Thy watch! Who gave it thee?"

"I do not know," she said, with a slow, sweet smile; "it came in the
basket. It has got forget-me-nots on one side, and Margaret on the
other; and the little girl it belonged to is in heaven."

"How dost thou know?"

"The doctor said so. She was very very sick, and when the flowers and
the larks came, God gave her wings, and she flew right up there."

"Where?" asked Fritz.

"There; far away, over the roofs and over the steeple, high, high;
ever so high up, up, till at last she was with God."

"And who was she? what was her name?" questioned Fritz.

"I do not know," said Violet, shaking her head. "But, Fritz, I was
wondering. I was thinking all last night that perhaps it was the same
little sick girl who had the book. Thou rememberest, dost thou not? It
came in the basket too."

"What book?"

"About the little hunchback," said Violet in a whisper.

"Oh!" cried Fritz, with quite a visible start; "yes; of course I
remember the fairy-tale book. We thought at first it was the girl with
the oranges; but she cannot be in heaven, because I saw her to-day."

"No, not a bit of that girl is in heaven," cried Ella joyously. "Fritz
and I saw her to-day. Fritz climbed up the steps, and gave her hair a
chuck; and she jumped round so fast that she fell over, and bumped down
every step--bump, bump, bump--and all the oranges galloped after her.
When she got to the bottom," screamed Ella, "she was sitting in the
middle of her own basket, and her heels up in the air--so;" and Ella
plumped down on her back on the floor, and elevated two of the stoutest
legs imaginable.

"She bellowed after us that she would call the police," cried Fritz,
continuing the story with much zest; "but I screamed back to her that
the police would put her in prison for sticking pins in her oranges
and sucking them, as I have seen her do hundreds of times. Then she
flew into a worse rage, and said that she would run home and tell her
father. So Ella and I laughed, for she would have a long way to run to
tell her father--would she not, Violet?"

"Yes," she said quickly; but the smile which had risen at the
children's story suddenly died out from her lips.

Fritz said, "Perhaps she would have to run all the way to Paris; and it
would be nicer to pick up oranges out of the gutter than cannon balls,
and be bursted all to pieces by powder."

Aunt Lizzie cried "Hush!" and rose from her chair by the stove; but the
children did not hear her, and went on excitedly,--

"And do you know, there has been fighting already, and lots of people
killed; but not in our regiment," added Fritz hastily, for he was
alarmed at the sudden agony that came into Violet's face.

"I saw the picture," cried Ella at the tip-top of her voice. "I saw it
in the shop window--a man climbing up a great steep rock with no head
on him at all. It had just been banged off his body by a gun. And
another man on his face, with only one leg. And dost thou know what
Fritz said? If he had been there the French people would never have got
into that town--not they, old blockheads as they are."

"What town?" asked Violet, almost in a whisper.

"Saarbrück, near the Rhine. But it was all a shabby trick of the
French; so all the people say. And we will make them pay for it
by-and-by; see if we won't. We will hunt them out of it again with
cannons, and powders, and drums."

"Yes, with powders and drums!" shouted Ella.--"And dost thou know,
Violet, Fritz wanted to go to the war with father, and beat a big
drum all day with an apron on him; and he screamed so, father said
'Perhaps.' And all night Ella cried and cried, and never stopped; and
in the morning father got out of his bed and kissed Ella, and said
Fritz must stay at home and take care of me. And Fritz was in such a
rage he tore Ella's night-cap in two, and flung it in the bread-oven."

"Come, now, we have had enough noise for one afternoon," said Aunt
Lizzie quietly. "Suppose we all sit round the stove and let Violet
rest; her head has ached all the morning, and she looks very tired."

"Oh no, Aunt Lizzie; let them stay," said Violet and she stretched out
her hands to the children. "I have not seen Fritz for so many days, nor
Ella either."

"Mother would not let us come," said Fritz bluntly. "She said thou
wouldst be busy saying good-bye to thy father and crying, and it would
be no use bothering."

"Yes, very busy crying," said Ella plaintively.

"And I am going to begin now and say my prayers," observed Fritz,
whose eyes had suddenly rested on Violet's Bible lying on the table
beside her bed. "Mother says Ella and I ought to pray every morning and
every night for father to come home safe; and so I am going to begin
to-night."

"And didst thou not always say thy prayers every morning and every
night?" asked Aunt Lizzie in some surprise.

"Oh yes, I always say them," observed Fritz; "but I don't think about
them; at least not much."

"He does not think about them one scrap," said Ella cheerfully; "he
stares at the wall, and goes sound asleep; and sometimes he looks round
at me, and begins to laugh; and sometimes he rattles his heels on the
ground until mother comes up and smacks him."

Aunt Lizzie shook her head at this history; and Violet said in a very
low voice,--

"O Fritz, is not Ella joking?"

"No," replied Fritz truthfully. "I don't much care for saying prayers.
I like to ask God for things which I think he will give me, but it
tires me to say the same thing so often. At least one month I used to
pray every day for a lovely gray pony that was in the field, and I
never got it. And, besides, every morning when I woke I used always to
say to God, 'Good Lord God, make little Violet well;' and yet thou art
still sick, and weaker and weaker. And then," continued Fritz, bending
close down beside her, and speaking in a whisper, "once I prayed in the
day, too, when I read that book about the little hunchback girl. I went
straight home and asked God to give thee wings too; and yet thou hast
never got them."

"Yes," said Ella in a very grave tone, having overheard the whisper,
"he went straight home and locked the door, and would not let Ella in;
and Ella banged and banged, and it was all no use. And then she put her
eye to the keyhole, and Fritz was saying his prayers at the kitchen
table; and Ella heard him say, 'Please, good Lord Jesus, put wings on
Violet's hump, like the little girl in the story. Amen.'"

"Hush! we have had quite enough talking for one day," cried Aunt Lizzie
again hurriedly, her face flushing crimson, as she gazed in anguish at
the little sick girl in the bed. "Away with thee, Ella! away with thee
too, Fritz! I cannot have my little girl tired."

But Violet flung her arms round Fritz's neck affectionately, and cried
out gratefully, "Thou dear, good Fritz!" Then putting her lips to his
ear, she said in a low whisper, "The Lord Jesus does always hear when
Fritz prays, and he will give me wings, and he will do all that Fritz
asks him."



CHAPTER XIV.

EVELINA.


The next day, about four o'clock in the afternoon, Evelina arrived from
Gützberg. Violet had been told that she was coming, and that she was
to be her own little maid and companion until her father returned to
Edelsheim from the war. Aunt Lizzie, too, had promised that she would
often come over and see her, and Fritz and Ella would meantime be her
daily companions; and Madam Adler, too, had promised John that she
would be constantly on the watch, coming to see that the child was well
and happy.

"It will not be for _very_ long, will it?" she had said to her Aunt
Lizzie, as she was being dressed that morning for the first time since
the departure of the regiment.

"What will not be for long?"

"Until father comes home," replied Violet smiling. "I heard him tell
thee so that night when the moon was shining through the window. Did
not he, Aunt Lizzie?" The child's eyes deepened with prophetic joy as
she gazed full into her aunt's face, waiting for a reply. It did not
come at once, and she added with an ever-increasing smile, "And when
the war is over I shall see him again, ever so soon. He will cry out,
'Where is my own little Violet?' and look up; and I will stretch out my
arms--so--Aunt Lizzie; and then all the fighting will be over, and we
shall never have to say good-bye any more."

Aunt Lizzie was drawing on Violet's stocking, and she bent her head
very low to see that the seam was straight at the ankle. When she
looked up again, the smile was still on Violet's lips, but her eyes
were looking far away up into the blue sky, high, high up above the
roofs and the steeple, to where the little sick girl, whose watch was
beating so close to her heart now, had gone up to be with God.

When Evelina arrived, there was quite a little company gathered
together to meet her--Aunt Lizzie, and Violet, and Fritz, and Ella, and
Madam Adler, who had baked a special loaf for the supper, and who had
also a curiosity to see the new girl, and form her own opinion as to
her capabilities.

"What a huge box she has!" cried Fritz, who, full of interest, was
kneeling on the cushioned window-sill, and could thus overlook the
whole street. "And another box, too, stuck up beside the driver; and
here she is herself, and two more boxes in her hand."

"Yes, two little, tiny baby boxes," shouted Ella, whose rosy face was
spread out against the windowpane, "and two very black hands."

"Those are not her hands; those are her gloves, little donkey," cried
Fritz contemptuously. "I saw her face; and she is ever so pretty.--She
is indeed, Violet, ever, ever so pretty."

Violet nodded her head in her grave, peculiar way. It was a moment of
intense excitement to her the advent of this new girl, the friend who
was to be always with her until her father's return; but no one could
hear the throbbing of the little girl's heart. And though her eyes
darkened and the pupils grew wider and wider, no one knew the tumult
going on within her breast.

As a rule, she took no interest in strangers. Like all invalids, she
shrank from the entrance of those with whom she was not intimate; and
those who knew and loved her pitied her distress when the crimson
blushes, rushing in waves over her pale face, showed the nervous tremor
of her heart.

But to form a really new friendship was a thing almost impossible to
her. She loved those whom she had known all her life, with a tenacity
far beyond the usual love of children. She clung to them as all
sick people cling to those who daily watch and tend them; and though
Aunt Lizzie had sought in every way to inspire her with a feeling of
confidence and interest in Evelina, she shrank from the thought of
their first meeting. And now, as she heard the ascending footsteps,
a sudden rush of unreasonable distrust and premature dislike seemed
to fill her heart, and she turned her face quickly away towards the
window, and held fast hold of Fritz's hand, who was standing with
gaping mouth and eyes riveted on the doorway.

There was a little flutter in the room. Aunt Lizzie rose and moved
towards the door; Madam Adler, too, went forward; Ella drew back a step
or two from the stove; and Violet, still looking with straining eyes at
the houses opposite, heard, as the door opened, a sweet voice saying,
in reply to some question of her aunt's,--

"Yes, thank you very much; I have had a very good journey. It was
almost stiflingly hot in the train, but the air is cooler now."

"And the children?" asked Aunt Lizzie.

"Oh, the little angels, they are as well as possible. They cried, of
course, when I took leave of them; but the master is taking them out
this afternoon for a walk in the gardens; and the little one is quite
happy.--Ah, is that the little sick girl yonder?"

Violet turned her head quickly round and looked up.

"Oh, how white she is!"

Aunt Lizzie hurried forward and stood beside Violet's chair.

"Here, sweet one," she said, kissing her on the forehead, "this is
Evelina of whom we have talked so much. Thou and she will be great
friends by-and-by. She has come all the way from Gützberg to take care
of thee; is it not so, my treasure?"

Violet nodded her head and smiled nervously, then stretched out her
hand to take Evelina's, but there was no enthusiasm in the movement.

"Ah, the poor child, she is nervous, she is shy, but we shall soon be
the best of friends," cried Evelina pleasantly; "one cannot expect the
little one to take to me all at once.--And who is this lad who looks as
if he would eat me with his eyes, eh?"

"I am Violet's own friend," replied Fritz, colouring purple, but
placing his hand firmly on the back of Violet's chair.

"Ah, it is very pleasant for her to have such a good friend," observed
Evelina, laughing and throwing back her head so that the little gold
bells on her ears tinkled;--"but by-and-by you must be my friend too;
is it not so, eh?"

"Perhaps," said Fritz shortly, while poor Violet looked down at her
pinafore and blushed because Fritz was somewhat uncivil in his reply.

"And who is this little cherub with the red cheeks? is she also a
friend?" asked Evelina, as she sat down on the cushioned window-seat
and tried to lift Ella on her knee; but the child wriggled somewhat
roughly away from her, and a shower of wooden animals--ducks, pigs, and
camels--which had been arrayed along the ledge overhead tumbled down in
confusion over Evelina's hat, shoulders, and lap.

This created a general laugh, in which even Violet joined, and the
first stiffness of the introduction was in this manner happily got over.

Evelina had a very pretty and pleasant face. There was certainly
nothing to frighten one in it. Her hair, which seemed one mass of
frizzly, golden threads, was brushed back from her face and pinned at
the sides with somewhat large gold pins; she had eyes that seemed ever
sparkling and smiling, rosy lips, and cheeks with dimples in them.

When she took off her hat and put on a very dainty white cap with
crimped frillings of lace, and a snowy linen apron also edged with
carefully-goffered frills, she looked so fair and sweet and happy,
that Violet's eyes became riveted upon her, and she followed all her
movements with an unconscious interest.

At last the moment came for Madam Adler to say good-bye, and Fritz and
Ella as usual took a loving farewell of their little play-fellow.

As Fritz flung his arms round Violet's neck, he said in a whisper,--

"She is very pretty this Evelina, but--"

"What," cried Violet, a sudden distress coming into her eyes; "what is
it, Fritz?"

"Nothing--I am not sure--I do not know; some other day I will tell
thee;" and before she could drag his meaning from him he had marched
across the room with head erect, and so he preceded his mother down the
stairs.



CHAPTER XV.

WEIGHED IN THE BALANCES.


That "but" of Fritz's rested all the evening somewhat heavily on
Violet's heart, otherwise there was something about Evelina that
would perforce have fascinated the child. It was a face that seemed
to grow prettier each time she looked at it; and her voice was so
sweet, especially when she sang little snatches of song, which she did
apparently unconsciously, as she went about the room setting everything
in apple-pie order, and dusting the ornaments and furniture with an
easy grace, as if all she did were a pleasure to her.

In the evening, after Violet had been put to bed, Aunt Lizzie went out
to get some letters, and Evelina and her charge were left alone. The
moment the door closed on her protectress, the nervous look came back
to Violet's eyes, and she gazed with a distressed intentness at the
shining brass balls at the foot of her bed.

Evelina, however, appeared quite unconscious of any difference in
her manner. She added wood to the stove, polished the brass kettle,
chirruped to the canary, and then seating herself at the window, she
took out her knitting, and with swiftly-flying fingers went on with a
stocking which she was making for one of the little boys at Gützberg.

This she told Violet presently with much laughter, describing how the
little tease Henry had pulled all the needles out of her work just at
the most critical part, to make sticks for his soldiers' flags, and how
she had had to go back and knit half the leg over again; and all the
time that she laughed and told her story she was knitting away without
once looking at her work, but straight out of the window at the houses
and shops opposite.

Once when she looked up hastily, she became aware of two faces placed
against the high-up window of a house almost exactly opposite, and
she saw that four eager eyes were following all her movements with an
intense interest.

In the fair, round, smiling face, with its great blue eyes, and its
golden curls all tucked away inside a plain white linen nightcap,
Evelina did not at first recognize Ella; but a glance at the burning
eyes of the little boy who stood beside her, and who seemed to watch
her own actions with an almost jealous anxiety, was sufficient to make
her recognize the lad who had stood by Violet's chair that afternoon,
and had replied so shortly to her question "that he was Violet's own
friend."

"Ah, that is where he lives, thy little friend. How he does stare!"

Evelina put down her knitting for a minute, and nodding across to
Fritz, drew out her pocket-handkerchief and waved it through the open
pane beside her.

Fritz bowed in reply rather stiffly. Ella pranced about in some
excitement for a moment, but noticing that Fritz's expression was
somewhat gloomy, she became grave also, and in a few minutes they both
disappeared from the window.

Then, almost without being aware of it, Violet and Evelina fell into
quite a natural talk. Evelina had so many questions to ask about Ella
and Fritz, and their parents, and the people who lived on either side
of them, and how they all were, and what occupations they had; so that
when Aunt Lizzie returned from her walk she was quite delighted to
hear, as she placed her hand on the door, a quiet little laugh from
Violet, as she exclaimed in evident amusement--"Indeed he is not; he is
a grand old fellow, and I love him."

"Old!" replied Evelina; "why, I should not call him old, and he is very
handsome. I can see him now quite plainly, for he is looking up at me
this moment."

Evelina had risen, and was gazing out through the casement as Aunt
Lizzie entered, so she did not hear her mistress's step until she was
quite close beside her.

"Of whom art thou speaking, darling?" asked Aunt Lizzie, glad to notice
the smile which was still lingering on Violet's face.

"Of the old policeman. Evelina asked me if he was a very cruel man, and
he is so good, Aunt Lizzie; he sometimes kisses his hand to me; and
dost not thou remember it was he who picked up my violets and gave them
to--to father;" there was a sudden break in the child's voice, and the
smile died suddenly away.

"Ah yes, he is a good old fellow," replied her aunt quickly; "he spoke
to me the other day and asked me all about thee."

"About me, Aunt Lizzie?"

"Yes, darling, about thee. Violet has many friends in the town of whom
she knows little, or perhaps nothing; but they know her--they look up
at her as they go past the window, and they love her."

"They love me?" Violet smiled again, an inquiring, happy smile, and
her little white face mantled with modest blushes. "So many friends,"
she said softly; then added almost in a whisper, "and also, Aunt
Lizzie, the Lord Jesus; he is my friend too, is he not?"

"He is indeed thy best friend; so good a friend, that no matter who
else goes away and leaves little Violet, he is always beside her; and
when she is very tired, and her back aches, and her heart is sad, then
she has only to think how close he is beside her, and rest her little
tired head just so against his breast." And as Aunt Lizzie spoke she
drew Violet close beside her, and covered her upturned face with loving
kisses.

Evelina was seated again in the window as Aunt Lizzie turned round from
the bed. Her fingers were flying swiftly, the steel needles clattered
and chinked, but there was a moisture in her usually bright eyes, which
her mistress understood and was glad to see.

Two days afterwards Aunt Lizzie returned to Gützberg, leaving Evelina
in sole charge of Violet. She had almost grown accustomed to her now.
At first it was a sore trial to her that Evelina slept in the room
which used to be her mother's. When the door of it opened and shut, her
heart gave sudden leaps and starts, which made her sick and wretched.
When she saw Evelina's hat hanging on the same nail where her mother's
used to be, she turned her eyes away quickly; but even to this she soon
grew accustomed, and said to herself, with a long, wishful sigh, "When
father comes back all will be like home again."

Fritz, too, became much more friendly with Evelina as the days wore on.
She had quite a fund of fairy tales and children's stories, which she
used to tell them in the evenings. It was after supper was finished
that they used to gather round her in the window; and Violet's eyes
grew and darkened and deepened in the summer twilight as she listened,
inthralled, to the stories of forest gnomes and elves that hid
themselves beneath the fragrant ferns and mosses of the woods.

Evelina could sing, too. She had the sweetest voice imaginable, and she
knew heaps of ballads; and when the song was an exciting one, she would
act it with quick gestures and flashing eyes; or when it was sad, real
tears sprung to them with an almost unnatural swiftness.

Violet listened and pondered and watched every movement of the face
before her; and yet, with an unconscious distrust, still kept the whole
freedom of her loving heart uplifted in the balance.

"Fritz," she said one evening suddenly, as he and she sat alone in
the deep window-seat, "Fritz, tell me this one thing: dost thou love
Evelina?"

"I like her," replied Fritz quickly.

"I like her too, she is ever so kind to me, and she never says a cross
word, like old Kate; but I like Kate better."

"I know," cried Fritz, who was busy peeling a stick and throwing the
shavings on the ground, "she looks in the glass so often, and she is
always twisting up little curls on her forehead. I can see her from
the window opposite. And once she was smiling and bowing at herself in
the glass, and she suddenly looked up and saw me; and she was such a
little fool, she ran away with her face covered up with her hands and
threw herself down on the bed. Still she is not too nasty," added Fritz
comfortingly, "and I like her. She tells grand stories, and she is
awfully good-natured."

Violet listened almost awe-struck. Fritz was certainly wonderful at
guessing and seeing things; he knew much better all about Evelina than
she did, and he was able to explain things so easily.

"She often says 'Yes' when she is not listening to one word any of us
says; and when she leans out of the window and sings, she pretends she
does not see the people in the street stopping to hear: she pretends
lots of things; that I see well enough," cried Fritz, waving the
newly-peeled white stick triumphantly over his head, and bringing it
down on the cushion with a bang. "Still I like her, and Ella thinks her
simply an angel."

Violet grew more reassured; and when Evelina returned smiling and
pretty, and with a lovely fresh cake full of currants in her hand for
Violet, the room seemed quite bright again; and Ella coming across the
street, and up the stairs with great bounds, was kept for the evening
meal, and sat on Evelina's knee all the afternoon happier than any
queen.



CHAPTER XVI.

FATHER'S LETTER.


So the long days deepened, and the sun grew hot and strong over the
town of Edelsheim. In the middle of the day the streets were almost
deserted, except by those who, under cover of huge, mushroom-shaped
umbrellas, ventured out to make their purchases. Even the roofs
opposite had been almost deserted by the birds, which only twittered in
the early morning; and the pigeons pattered up and down in the shadow
of the eaves, or sat huddled together on the chain which hung across
the street opposite Violet's window, for at mid-day their pink feet
would have been scorched on the hot tiles of the houses opposite, where
they generally congregated.

Violet's canary seldom sang now. In the evening sometimes it trilled
out a delicious song, with its head bent on one side, as if it were
looking out through the opening in the roofs opposite to the hill,
with its crown of trees and the blue sky over it so fresh and free;
but in the morning it never sang. Evelina would not allow it to sing;
its chattering and loud rejoicing as the sun arose had disturbed her
sleep, and rising up early one morning, she had opened the door of
her room suddenly, and with smothered, angry words, had rushed in and
thrown a black shawl over the cage, which she had carried with her in
her hand from the inner room. Violet, who was awake, and listening to
her favourite's song with silent pleasure, protested loudly, but it was
all of no use; Evelina was really angry, and she said sharply that if
Violet chose to make a fuss about it she would remove the cage from the
room altogether.

Violet's heart beat and her eyes flamed, and she cried hotly after
Evelina's retreating figure.

"Father will soon come home, and then--"

"Yes; and then thou mayest do as thou choosest, no doubt, and eat the
little beast, head and tail, if it pleases thee; but it shall not keep
me awake, that is all." Evelina closed the door sharply after her, and
flung herself back into bed, angry with Violet and angry with herself.

Both their voices had been raised, and the windows of the room lay wide
open to catch even a passing breath of the cool morning air.

And as Evelina had hurried past the window of her room she had caught
a glimpse of the old policeman standing on the pavement opposite, and
looking up anxiously with strained inquiring gaze at the projecting
casement of Violet's room. He must have heard her anguished cry of
protestation, "Father will come home soon, and then--" But her own
voice, she hoped, had not been raised so loud. "The little spoiled
thing! she thinks she must not be crossed in anything," she said
pettishly to herself; and so turning on her pillow fell fast asleep.

The same morning brought a letter from Violet's father, and her trouble
about the canary bird was soon forgotten. It was such a long letter.
Her eyes deepened and her cheeks flushed. She begged of Evelina to go
across the street and ask Madam Adler to come over and read it out to
her. Evelina took the message somewhat unwillingly, saying that she
could read it for her with pleasure. But Violet shook her head and
replied nervously, "Madam Adler knows father, and she will understand."

"I suppose," replied Evelina with a short laugh, "any one who does not
know thy father must be a blockhead, eh?" and running lightly down the
stairs and across the street, she came suddenly face to face in the
Adlers' doorway with the policeman.

Evelina blushed a deep conscious blush and tried to hurry past; but
laying his hand a moment on her arm he said gravely, while he pointed
across at the window opposite,--

"How is the little maiden up yonder?"

"Oh, she is like a mad thing this morning. She has got a letter from
her father, and I have just flown across to call Madam Adler to read it
to her."

"So; that is good," he replied, still looking fixedly at Evelina's
blushing face, and seeking to fix the eyes which looked every way
except at him.

"Let me pass, if you please," she said nervously; "the child will be
impatient if I delay."

"You are very kind to our Violet?" he said, moving a little aside. "She
is happy?"

"Oh yes, happy enough; that is to say when she gets everything she
wants. She is a trifle peevish sometimes, and hard to manage. But we
are great friends."

"I fancied I had heard her crying this morning very early; was it not
so?"

"Pah!" cried Evelina with a toss of her head, "one must not stand in
the street and count every cry a sick child gives. The canary bird
chattered so that she could not sleep, nor I either, so I threw a shawl
over its head, and there was an end of the matter."

"So," said the policeman again, only this time more gravely, and
allowed Evelina to go past him up the stairs.

Madam Adler did not lose a moment in hastening to come at Violet's
call. She too had had a letter from her husband, and had only just read
the first line; but she thrust it into her pocket and hurried across
the street. Little Violet's trembling heart must first be quieted, and
then when she was satisfied Madam Adler would return and read her own
letter in the quiet of her room with many thanks to the good God who
had spared her husband so far.

[Illustration: Reading the Letter. _Page 163._]

She drew her chair beside the bed, and having kissed the little white
face with its ardent, loving eyes, she took the letter from Violet's
hand and read it out to her slowly. It was just such a letter as she
had expected it would be--overflowing with love, and with almost no
allusion to the war or its horrors, but giving accounts of their
camp-life,--the bivouacs under the trees, the fires lighted on the
grass, and the large camp-kettles swung upon poles over the blazing
logs; and of the little children who came out of the villages and stole
through the woods to stare at them; and of one little maiden who had
made so bold as to come and sit on John's knee, and had stroked his
beard and chatted to him in French, and finally had kissed him ere
she went away. Sometimes they slept on the ground with nothing but the
bright stars overhead, and sometimes they made houses of leaves and
boughs, into which they crept at night, and were as comfortable as
could be.

But the chief part of the letter was taken up with home affairs. John
wanted to know all about his Violet;--whether she was happy; what she
did all day; whether she went out to drive in her carriage; if Fritz
took good care of her, if Madam Adler came often to see her. Had the
good doctor been to pay her a visit; was the canary well; did the poor
back ache much? And inside the envelope, folded up carefully in a small
piece of tissue-paper, were some wild flowers gathered from under the
trees where they had bivouacked the night before. Violet could put them
into mother's Bible. The flowers which she had given him were quite
safe. He kept them always in a little package near his heart, and he
loved to think of the words which Violet had printed for him--"To meet
again."

It is needless to say that Violet's eyes were full before this letter
was ended, and Madam Adler had to speak quickly of the one which she
must write to him in answer, and of all the news she would have to
tell him--about her watch, and about the doctor's visit, and how
Ella's front tooth had fallen out, and she could no longer eat the hard
ginger-bread nuts in the bakery.

Madam Adler promised to come over the next day to help her to write
this letter, and having placed her mother's Bible on the bed beside
her, she returned with an anxious heart to her own house to finish the
closely-written page which lay hidden away in her pocket.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE KIND PHYSICIAN.


The next morning Violet waited with some impatience for the time to
arrive at which Madam Adler had promised to come and help her to
write her letter. She made Evelina put her desk upon the bed, and her
mother's Bible; and she had on a snowy clean pinafore and a fresh
purple bow tying up her hair.

Evelina looked very white this morning, and often when the child
spoke to her she did not answer her. She went in and out of the room
perpetually, and once or twice Violet heard her chattering in the
street below in a low, excited voice; and when she did return, she did
not look at Violet at all, but walked to the window and stared across
at the house opposite.

"Is Madam Adler coming?" asked Violet a little wearily, as for the
twentieth time she pushed the desk to one side, for the weight of it on
the counterpane tired her so. "I heard the clock strike twelve ages
ago."

"I do not see her coming," replied Evelina evasively.

"Is Fritz at the window?"

"No."

"Or Ella?"

"No."

"Couldst thou not go across and see if she will soon be here? Do,
Evelina, please."

Evelina turned slowly away from the window and went downstairs, while
the little girl once more drew the desk near her, and, opening it, took
out a sheet of paper and a pen.

But Evelina did not return for a long time, and Violet's head ached so
much she had to lie back on her pillows. So the weary minutes dragged
on, and there was no sound of any one coming. She drew out her watch
and looked at it. It wanted but a quarter to one, and then it would be
dinner-time, and the letter would surely be late for the post.

How fast the watch ticked, and yet how slowly the hands moved on. Her
heart too was beating so loud and so fast she felt as if she were a
part of the watch, and it made her more restless and impatient. So she
put it back under her pillow and tried to lie quite still.

It was such a hot morning, and the sun was beating straight in on her
bed. "If only Evelina would come back and draw down the blind," she
murmured, for it was useless now to think of writing a letter before
dinner-time.

There were ducks quacking somewhere down in the street, too, and
making such a noise. When Evelina returned she must ask her to shut
the window; and perhaps if she fell asleep for a few minutes her head
would cease aching, and the sun would have moved away from her bed. All
at once, just as she had pushed her desk quite away and lain down with
her back to the window, she heard Fritz's voice raised quite loud and
high in the room on the opposite side of the street; he was evidently
calling out to some one in a tone of entreaty and dismay.

Violet with a sudden eagerness struggled upwards in her bed and
listened.

"Mother, mother, look up! thou must look up! Father is not dead! father
is not dead! Speak to Fritz!"

"What is it?" murmured Violet to herself with a sudden catch at her
breath; "what is Fritz saying?--Oh! here is some one coming." For there
was a sound of footsteps on the stairs, and then a low knock at the
door.

It was the doctor. Violet recognized his kind good face with a start of
joy, and stretched out her little white hands lovingly.

"So," he cried, looking first at her and then with surprise round the
room. "How is this?--quite alone, little one?"

"Yes, Evelina is gone out; she went across to call Madam Adler to come
to me again."

"So," said the doctor again, his face growing somewhat graver as he
looked earnestly at her. "I do not think that Madam Adler can come to
see thee this morning. But first I must tell thee some good news: I
have just heard that thy father is quite well."

"Yes?" said Violet questioningly. "I also had a letter from my father;"
and she held up an envelope which she had kept tightly pressed until
now in her left hand.

"But mine was not a letter; it was a telegram."

"A telegram?" she repeated, puzzled and distressed.

"Yes, dearest child," said the doctor, taking her hand in his and half
turning aside his head. "Thank God thy father is safe and well. I have
made that sure for thee. But there has been a battle--a great battle;
and our regiment was given the honour of being placed in the front;
and some, of course, have been wounded; and some will never suffer any
more; and some are safe, and thy father is amongst those whom God has
spared."

"My father!" cried Violet excitedly; "he has been in a battle, and he
did not tell me so in his letter; and--and he is safe!"

"Yes. He could not have told thee in his letter. The battle was fought
yesterday, and the news only came in last night."

"And is any one hurt?" she cried, clasping the doctor's hand with her
burning fingers. "Is Fritz's father safe?"

"I am afraid he has been very seriously hurt," he replied.

"He is not dead?" gasped Violet.

"No, no; not dead. But it is uncertain whether he can recover."

"Poor, poor Fritz! that is why he cried so loud this morning. I heard
him in my bed here calling to his mother."

"Just so. Madam Adler is in terrible distress; and Fritz, like a brave
boy, is doing all he can to comfort her; and when Fritz comes to see
thee thou must be brave also, my Violet, and try to comfort him."

"Yes," she replied, nodding her head in assent, for words were growing
difficult to speak, and large tears were rolling down her face. "I
never thought of battles," she said pleadingly, as if in excuse for her
tears.

"So much the better," said the doctor, pressing the little hot hand in
his. "It is much pleasanter to think of peace."

"And soon there will be peace," she said, lifting up her dark, pitiful
eyes to his face, heavy with tears.

"Yes, soon there will be peace," he replied, looking at her with a
strange, long earnestness.

"And then I shall see father," she added softly, while through the
troubled darkness of her eyes there came a slow sweet smile.

At this moment Evelina came into the room; and the doctor hearing her
enter, rose up to take his leave.

"Do not leave the child again to-day alone," he said in an undertone
as he walked on towards the window where Evelina stood; "and watch her
carefully. People may come in and tell her things which may excite and
pain her, and her little thread of life will not bear it. We must try
to keep it going for a little longer. She is very weak this morning,
and seems excited and restless."

"It is all about a letter to her father which she wishes Madam Adler to
write for her; and now the thing is impossible."

"Why cannot you write it for her, eh?"

"She will not have me to do it; no, not on any account," replied
Evelina somewhat pettishly.

"Humph!" The doctor gazed out of the window for a moment, and then
turning to her he said quickly,--

"You are very good to the child--careful, gentle, patient? These things
are an absolute necessity."

"I do all I can to please her," said Evelina, blushing hotly under the
doctor's earnest gaze. "But sick children are full of fancies."

"It is a privilege to nurse such a child. Had I not my own hands full
of work, and the sick and the dying to think of, I should come and sit
here day and night to watch by her and comfort her.--Eh, little one,"
he said, turning suddenly round and moving again towards the bed,
"shall I come to-morrow morning early and write that letter for thee to
thy father?"

"Oh, wilt thou?" cried Violet with a sudden access of unmeasured
delight as she stretched out her arms gratefully. "That will be too
lovely;--and thou canst tell him everything, and that Violet is quite
well, and so--so--"

"Happy," suggested the doctor.

"Yes." (A faint blush.) "Yes, so happy waiting for him to come home."
The blush deepened as the truthful heart sought about to extricate
itself.

"I understand," he said, taking both the little hands in his. "So happy
when thou thinkest of father coming home, but often a little lonely and
a little tired of waiting; and often the head aches, and one cannot be
very happy when one's head is aching, can one?"

"Yes, that is it," replied Violet. "But I was not thinking of
headaches, only sometimes--I am too tired; and then--" (she glanced
towards Evelina nervously), "and then I am sorry if--"

"Exactly; so am I," cried the doctor laughing. "When I am too tired I
feel as if I must take a stick and beat some one; and I am sure Evelina
must be black and blue with all the bruises thou givest her. I should
not at all like to receive a blow from this powerful wrist." The doctor
stooped as he spoke and kissed the little hand he held in his. Violet
laughed, and the rain of repentant tears was averted.

When the doctor left the room Evelina came and sat by Violet's bed.
She drew her chair quite close, and speaking very gently to her she
lifted the heavy desk off the counterpane and put it aside on the long
walnut-wood chest, which, standing close to the bed, served as a kind
of table.

"What a kind old fellow that doctor seems," she said presently. "He
appears to be a great friend of thine."

"Yes," replied Violet softly; "father's friend and mother's, and now
mine."

"Ah, so. And he has known thee all thy life?"

"Yes, all my life."

"And hast thou been sick always?"

"Yes, always." Violet sighed a little and moved somewhat restlessly on
her pillow.

"And thy mother,--canst thou remember her?"

"Oh yes, quite well. She has not left me so very long. She slept there
in that very room. She was too beautiful. All day long she sat with me,
and I was always happy."

"And thy father--what is he like?"

"My father? Hast thou not seen him? He is, oh, so tall--almost up to
the ceiling. He is the--but thou wilt see him for thyself, and then
thou wilt know how splendid he is, and how good. When the war is over
he will come home ever so fast to Violet."

"Without doubt," replied Evelina cheerfully. "And is he dark, or fair?"

"Quite dark."

"And thy mother--was she dark also?"

"Oh no. My mother, she is quite, quite fair. She has yellow hair.
I will show thee some of it." Violet put out her hand and drew over
her mother's Bible, which lay on the counterpane. She touched it so
reverently, and opened it with such a nervous thrill, that Evelina
watched her movements with a growing interest.

Between the fly-leaves of the book there was a small package folded up
in silver paper. The child opened this with nervous, trembling fingers,
and revealed a lock of soft golden hair tied up with a black ribbon.

"And that is thy mother's hair? How fine and soft and golden it is!
Why, it is almost the very same colour as mine. Let us see."

Evelina stretched out her hand to take it, but Violet drew back the
book quickly; and then, blushing painfully at her own rudeness, shut up
the little packet and closed the cover of the Bible.

"Ah, there is a page of thy book coming out now," cried Evelina, taking
no apparent notice of her distress, and pointing to a loose leaf which
stretched some distance beyond the cover.

"No, it is not possible!" She lifted up the book with a gesture of
horror, but soon recovering herself said quickly,--"Ah, see, it is not
out of the Bible. It is only the picture of the poor little hunchback.
It fell out of its own cover, so I put it in here."

"A picture of what?" asked Evelina, looking curiously at the loose leaf
which Violet had drawn from its resting-place.

"It is only a fairy tale," said Violet somewhat sadly as she placed the
old faded print in Evelina's extended hand.

"How comical!" cried Evelina laughing. "The child has a face like
an old man; but then all hunchbacks have got that kind of dried-up,
wizened expression."

Violet bent her head low down over her mother's Bible to hide the
sudden vivid colour which flooded all her face; but presently lifting
up her head and seeing that Evelina was still staring curiously at the
picture, she said very softly, almost in a whisper,--

"Thou knowest, dost thou not, that I am a little hunchback?"

"Oh, what folly!" (It was now Evelina's turn to grow confused and
absolutely awkward.) "Why, thou little vain monkey, thou art fishing
for compliments. It is useless for me to tell thee what thou art. Thou
knowest well enough--'the sweet Violet of Edelsheim, the flower of all
the town.'"

No responsive smile lit up Violet's face at this sudden outburst of
flattery. She only added, as if following out her own thoughts,--

"Fritz knows I am a hunchback, but he does not believe about the wings."

"What about the wings?"

"Dost thou not see in the picture there, low down on the page, where it
is written, 'No more tears'? for dost thou not see God gave the little
hunchback wings, and she flew quite away with the angels up, up to
heaven."

"Oh, yes, of course," cried Evelina. "I have read the story in another
book, only it was about a boy. He had, oh, such a dreadful hump on his
back, so ugly, people could not bear to look at him; or if they did
they made faces at him and pointed their fingers at him, and even his
own mother was ashamed. But all the time there were beautiful golden
wings folded up inside his hump; and one day when--when--;" Evelina
hesitated a little and pinched up the frilling of her cuff nervously.

"Yes, what?--go on," cried Violet. Evelina looked up. The child's
eyes shone with a purple light of joy; her face was radiant, her lips
trembled. "Go on, go on."

"Well, one day when he was out walking in the street, a wicked, cruel
boy threw a stone at him--a large, heavy stone--and it struck him on
the back."

"Go on," cried Violet, clutching Evelina's wrist with her burning
little hand. "God helped him, I am sure."

"Yes, God helped him; for when all the people cried out and ran to
him suddenly, there came a great light all round him, so that they
could not see where he lay, and there were angels all round about
him comforting him; and then out of his poor aching shoulders there
sprang up all at once two great shining wings, and the angels whispered
something in his ears, and he stretched his wings wide out, and away he
flew with them right up to heaven; and God opened the gates and took
him in, and he was at rest."

"Yes, quite at rest; and he too had no more tears, and he was quite,
quite happy," said Violet. "And this is all true, is it not, Evelina?"

Evelina caught one glimpse of the little quivering face, and she
replied quickly,--

"Without doubt; at least it is just as I read it in the book."

"It was not a fairy tale?"

"No, certainly not."

"Evelina, come closer. There, put thy arms round my neck." Violet
pressed her little burning lips on Evelina's cheek. "I will never be
cross with thee any more--never, never. I will try to love thee better
every day.--And all the poor sick hunchbacks have wings, have they not;
and I, too, I shall have wings?"

"Oh yes, beautiful shining wings." In Evelina's own throat there was
a catch now, and she breathed painfully. "There, let me settle thy
pillows, and try and rest a bit; it will do thee good to sleep awhile."

"Yes, I am so tired; but that story thou toldest me is too, too
lovely." She loosened her arms from Evelina's neck and lay back with a
long contented sigh.

"Where shall I put this Bible, darling?"

"On the chest, please; or stay, it is better to put it inside. Open the
lid and lay it down in the corner quite close to my bed."

Evelina raised the cover, as she was told, and placed the book in the
spot indicated by Violet.

"Take care that thou dost not crush the hat. Just lift the muslin and
see."

Evelina lifted a long strip of muslin which lay all along the inside of
the chest. In the corner next the bed there lay a large Leghorn hat,
trimmed with pale blue ribbon and forget-me-nots.

"Ah, how beautiful! Whose hat is it?" she asked, stooping quickly to
examine it.

"It is my mother's. She always wore it on Sundays. And father put it by
there with all her other clothes when--when--; but please cover it up
and shut the box."

Evelina closed the lid very slowly, her eyes to the last moment
dwelling on the forget-me-nots and the trimming of pale blue satin.

"Lovely!" she said again to herself as she shut down the cover.

"Yes, lovely!" murmured Violet, whose eyelids were already closing;
"and when Violet has wings mother will be standing there, beside God,
waiting for her."

"Poor child!" said Evelina, turning and looking compassionately at
the little faded face on the pillow; "she has but one idea, and that
is heaven." Then crossing the room and opening the door of the inner
apartment, she walked gently over to the glass which stood on the
dressing-table, and gazed at herself for a long time in the mirror.
"I am sure I should look lovely in that hat," she said presently. "I
have just the complexion for forget-me-nots, and besides, my hair is
just the same colour as the lock she showed me." And then taking up her
knitting from the table, she returned to Violet's room and sat down in
the window to work.



CHAPTER XVIII.

SORROWFUL TIDINGS.


The next morning the doctor came early, and, true to his promise,
acted as scribe for Violet. Such a long letter as was despatched to
poor John, full of all the little scraps of news that Violet had been
treasuring up for ever so long, and a few leaves of the ivy which grew
up the side of the house and in at the window where she generally sat,
and one yellow feather which had dropped out of the canary bird's wing.
Violet felt quite elated when the letter was finished, and the doctor
himself carried it off to the post, leaving her smiling, with eyes
bright with pleasure and cheeks just a little flushed by the unusual
exertion.

When the doctor was gone she insisted on being lifted up and placed as
usual in the window. Evelina was surprised at the energy she showed
in all her movements, and the weary time of her dressing went on with
fewer sighs than usual.

It was not until she was actually seated in her old chair in the
embrasure that she seemed for the first time to realize the terrible
trouble that had come upon her friends in the house opposite. She had
been so busy thinking of her father and of the letter which was to go
to him, that she had not taken in all the sorrow that had fallen on the
town and its inhabitants; but she could not sit long at the window this
morning and not see or hear something of it. It seemed to her, after a
little time, that all the people in Edelsheim were weeping.

There were women standing at Madam Adler's door wringing their hands,
and others with aprons to their eyes sobbing. Many of them had slips of
paper in their hands which they gazed at every moment, and then burst
out crying afresh. Even the policeman, as he passed down the street
opposite, had tears in his eyes, and as he tried to smile up at her
window Violet saw how they fell on the breast of his coat.

"What are they all crying for in the street below?" she asked
plaintively, as Evelina came out of the inner room and sat down in the
window seat opposite her: "is Fritz's father so very, very ill, or what
is it?"

"It is not only for him they are weeping, poor creatures," cried
Evelina, gazing earnestly after the policeman, who was slowly pacing
down the street with his head bent upon his chest. "They have all
suffered, poor souls. There is not one in Edelsheim that has not lost a
friend, or a brother, a father, or a husband, or a lover. The regiment
was in the very front of the battle, and the men were mowed down like
grass; at least so the paper says."

"What paper?"

"The newspaper: but the doctor said thou wert on no account to see it;
indeed I ought not to speak to thee of such things at all, only one
must answer plain questions when they are put to one.--Oh, here comes
the little Ella and her brother; they are crossing the street, and they
will bring thee all the news."

Violet turned quickly round, for her eyes had been fixed with an
ever increasing horror on Evelina's face, and now she just caught a
glimpse of Ella's fair hair floating behind her as she passed under the
overhanging eaves of the window.

In a moment more both children had burst into the room, Ella a little
in advance of Fritz, who was quite breathless and red in his endeavours
to keep pace with her, and had his hand tightly locked in the gathers
of her dress, by which he vainly tried to hold her back.

"Hast thou heard, Violet?" cried Ella, her voice raised almost to a
scream as she endeavoured to be the first to tell the news,--"hast thou
heard that father has lost his leg, one whole leg? It is quite true:
first they shot it off, and then they cut it off, and now he is in the
hospital. And the policeman's son has both his arms shot off him; and
the father of the orange-girl is dead, and she was screaming all the
morning on the steps of the chapel, and no oranges in her basket at
all."

"Silence, you little dunderhead," cried Fritz, shaking Ella so
violently by her skirt that she was forced for a moment to pause and
resent his rudeness; "did not mother tell thee this morning that thou
wert not to frighten Violet with all these stories?"

"But are they true?" asked Violet eagerly.

"Yes, quite true," echoed Ella.

Violet still looked towards Fritz for confirmation.

"Yes, they are quite true," he said gravely; "but thy father is safe.
Mother said so; she had a telegram from him this morning."

"A telegram?"

"Well, yes. A message to say father was going on well, and to give thee
his love."

"His love," echoed Violet in a whisper.

"And loads and loads of people are dead," continued Ella, who had not
half exhausted her store of news; "and the little man who used to sell
the peppermint sticks has had his whole head blown off. His wife says
it is not a bit true, and she wanted to go off in a cart this morning
to look for him, only the doctor would not let her. Mother said the
poor woman's head was gone; so then, you see, they would neither of
them have heads, I suppose; and would not that be rather funny, Violet?"

Evelina tittered a little, and went into the next room to hide her
laughter; but Fritz grew very red, and said angrily, "The little
donkey! she does not know what she talks about, only picking up what
other people say."

"I don't pick up what other people say. I heard every word, and lots
more," rejoined Ella stoutly; but still she blushed at Fritz's reproof,
and shuffled her shoulders along the wall uneasily.

"And is thy father very sick? will he come home soon?" asked Violet,
whose face and lips had been gradually whitening as the children's talk
went on.

"Ah, that I cannot tell thee. Mother says it will be a long time before
he can move at all, and then he will have to get crutches."

"And must he always walk with crutches, always, always?" asked Violet,
whose mind was only gradually opening up to all the sadness of the
occasion.

"Yes, always," replied Fritz; "for, of course, he could not walk on one
leg."

"I can hop on one leg," observed Ella from the corner into which she
had been gradually retreating. "This morning, when I heard all about
father, I hopped six times up and down the kitchen and never put my
hand on anything."

"And can thy father never bake any more bread, nor stand any more at
the door in the evening and kiss hands up to me?"

"That I do not know. He will stand, perhaps, in the bakery and look on;
and then, thou knowest, he can have a chair put down in the doorway,
and he can see thee from there.--O Ella, canst thou not keep still?"

For Ella had now emerged from her corner near the stove, and with the
handle of the little stove-brush planted under her arm, was prancing
up and down the floor with one leg drawn up behind her and the other
coming down at intervals with tremendous thumps on the floor.

"Do keep still," cried Fritz again.

But Ella, who had sat all day long silent and miserable in the house
opposite, was now flushed with the excitement of freedom both of limb
and speech, and up and down the room she hopped and bounded with
glowing cheeks and flying hair, crying out, "See how I can hop!" until
at last the brush-stick slipped with a sudden jerk from under her arm,
and she came crash down on the floor on her face.

"Ha, ha! that comes from pretending to have only one leg," shouted
Fritz, half laughing himself at the catastrophe. But when he picked up
poor Ella and found that her lip was cut and swelled, and her little
fat elbow all scraped and bleeding, too, he carried her over in his
arms to a chair and kissed her a hundred times. It was all, however, of
no avail. Ella, it is true, made no sound whatever for a moment or two,
and Violet, quite terrified, leaned forward in her chair anxiously.

But Ella was only waiting to recover her breath: her nerves had been
strained to the highest pitch, poor child, and now with almost a
convulsive struggle a piercing cry burst forth, loud and long, and
terrifying to hear. Evelina came rushing out of the inner room, and
snatching the child from Fritz's arms, without listening to explanation
or remonstrance, she carried her down the stairs and quickly across the
street to her mother. Fritz sprang up to follow, but looking round at
Violet's pale face, he paused and hesitated.

"I will stay with thee till she comes back," he said comfortingly, and
he returned and stood by her side, though his lips and hands trembled
with the passion he strove to repress.

They could hear poor Ella's cries all the way up the stairs and long
after she entered the little sitting-room opposite. They saw her mother
take her upon her knee, and press her head against her bosom, and dry
her eyes softly with her handkerchief, and wipe the blood from her lip.
And then Fritz saw Evelina come out of the door again; but she did not
cross the street or look up at their window as he expected she would
do, but instead she walked for some distance along the narrow pavement
until she met the policeman, who was slowly returning on his beat.

"Pah!" cried Fritz, shooting out his lips with a motion of the
supremest contempt, "she is a sly old fox, and I hate her."

"Whom?" asked Violet, whose mind had wandered far away, and whose hand
was resting wearily on the cover of her mother's Bible.

"Evelina," cried Fritz stoutly; "she is a vain old chattering pea-hen."

"Ah no, thou must not say so, Fritz."

"Why not? she does not care one straw for thee."

"Yes, yes, she does; she has told me such lovely things."

"What about?"

"Ah, about a poor sick boy. It was not a fairy tale; it was quite
true. He was a poor little hunchback like me, and God gave him wings,
beautiful silver wings; and some one threw a stone at him, and all at
once he stretched out his wings, and angels came to meet him, and he
went right up to heaven;--and this story is true."

Fritz coloured violently and made no reply. He looked a moment into
Violet's eyes and then gazed nervously aside. Presently he came over to
her chair and put his arm round her neck.

"No, no, it is not true," he cried in a sudden anguish; "it must not be
true; I do not want thee to have wings. Thou must get well. I do not
want thee to die and go away and leave me."

"To die?" said Violet with a little gasp; "ah no, I do not want to die;
only mother said when I had wings I should have no more pain and no
more tears. And now thou art crying, Fritz, and I do not like to see
it."

"I cannot help crying," sobbed Fritz.

"Then thou hadst better take up thy cap and go away," said Evelina
somewhat sharply from the doorway; "we have had tears enough in this
room for one day."

Fritz rose up proudly and took his cap from the table at the foot of
the bed.

"And when thou talkest to the policeman next time," continued Evelina
in the same unpleasant tone, "thou mayest find some other subject more
interesting to him than to talk about me, and tell tales of--"

"I told no tales," cried Fritz hotly; "he asked me wert thou very good
to his little friend Violet, that was all."

"Well, and what didst thou say?"

"I said nothing; I did not answer him. I went into the house and shut
the door."

"That was the most unkind thing thou couldst have done. It was worse
than telling tales."

"I will be kinder next time," cried Fritz with a sudden spirit; "I will
tell him everything."

"Thou hast nothing to tell," screamed Evelina down the staircase.

"Ha, ha!" laughed Fritz; "ask the looking-glass,--it sees more of thee
than any one else."

"Little villain! he shall not see much more of us," said Evelina
angrily, as she shut the door and came back into the room. "The
children at Gützberg would not dare to speak to me like that; they
have better manners.--Wilt thou have thy dinner now?" she added more
quietly, as she caught the look of weary pain and deep distress on
Violet's face.

"No, thank you; I could not eat, I am so tired; please let me go back
to bed."

Evelina undressed the child in silence; she was not cross, but her
cheeks burned and she seemed engrossed in her own thoughts.

Violet was not long in bed before she fell asleep. She was very tired,
and she slept heavily. When she woke again the afternoon was almost
spent and the room was empty. She raised herself a little on her
pillows and looked about her. The door of the inner room was slightly
ajar, and she leaned forward to see if any one was there. She could
just catch a glimpse of Evelina's figure. She was standing opposite the
mirror and was trying something on her head.

"It is mother's hat," gasped Violet; "I see the blue ribbons."

At this moment Evelina turned round quickly, and catching a glimpse of
the child's face, she shut the door with a snap.



CHAPTER XIX.

A BRIGHT PROSPECT.


It seemed to Violet, as the long autumn days went by, and she sat in
the old place in the window, that the town was changed. All the people
who went by in the street were dressed in black; very few smiled as
they looked up at her, though they kissed their hands as usual and
nodded their heads. The basket-bell seldom rang now; and, worst of all,
Fritz never came to see her.

It was not that Evelina had carried her threat into execution; but,
alas! Fritz had got the hooping-cough, and the doctor had forbidden him
to enter Violet's house. It would be fatal to the child, he said, to
catch such an illness; and one must remember not only her weakness, but
also the great love of poor John away at the war, who was ever, day and
night, thinking of his darling, and wondering whether God would spare
her to him until his return.

So the days dragged on somewhat heavily, and Violet grew very weary.
No air seemed to come down from the hill far away. The little children
who went on expeditions to gather nuts were nearly all dressed in
black, and they did not come back singing and dancing as they used to
do. Evelina once brought in an apronful of nuts and poured them into
Violet's lap; and Ella, too, came bouncing in one afternoon with an old
cap of Fritz's full to the brim with the choicest hazels; but Violet
had no fancy for them, though she kissed Ella and thanked Evelina for
remembering her.

"When father comes home," she said to Ella, "then he will take me in my
carriage to the hill, first to see mother, and then all the way up the
hill; the nuts will not be gone by that time?" she said questioningly.

"I will take thee out to-morrow to the hill, if thou choosest," said
Evelina, looking round towards the corner of the room where the
carriage stood covered over by a rug; "it would brighten thee up a bit,
and Miss Ella could come too if she liked."

"Yes, yes!" cried Ella, jumping about wildly and flinging her arms
around Violet's neck. "Come, come, come, come to-morrow and gather nuts
with Ella!"

"I should like to go with father first," said Violet nervously,
for the temptation was great; "and my back aches so, I should be
frightened."

"Thy back will not ache less for waiting," observed Evelina shortly.

"No, not one bit less," urged Ella with the broadest smile of
satisfaction on her face.

"And as to waiting for thy father," continued Evelina, "goodness knows
when he will be back again; the leaves and nuts and all may be off the
trees before the war is over."

"Yes; leaves and nuts and all," echoed Ella; "and mother says perhaps
the snow will be on the ground before our soldiers come home, and
battles and battles and battles. And do you know they tumble all the
dead horses into great big holes--fifteen great horses into one hole;
and one great enormous shell which a man shot out of a gun, it first
went through a house, and then it went through a garden, and then it
went through a wall, and then it went through a woman who was baking
a cake, and at last it went through a steeple, and down tumbled the
whole church, and every one was killed; and was not that a grand shot,
Violet?"

Ella spread out her arms triumphantly and laughed in concert with
Evelina, who shrieked in the corner.

"The policeman said it was not one bit true; but he is a mouldy old
fellow," cried Ella excitedly; "he was never in no battles, only
marching up and down and up and down. He gave me a flower for thee,
Violet, yesterday, and as I was standing in the street it fell in the
gutter, and the water carried it off in one moment under the stones."

"A flower? for me?"

"Yes; he had it in his hand, and he said, 'Give this to my little
friend in the window up there;' and while I was looking ever so high
up trying to see thee, down fell the flower in the water, and away it
goes. But what harm? it was only a little violet," cried Ella, drawing
close to Violet with eyes full of a great mystery.

"What is it?"

"Fritz found it out himself the other day and showed it to me and to
mother."

"What?" again asked Violet, her eyes gazing eagerly into the little
face before her.

"Violets have got humps on their backs; and thou--thou--art a violet
too, and thou hast a hump on thy back; and is not that funny?"

"Hush!" cried Evelina, catching Ella by the skirt of her dress and
trying to draw her back from Violet's chair; "such talk is not allowed
in this room."

"Oh yes, let her tell me; I love to hear what Fritz says about the
violets."

"What a strange child she is!" cried Evelina to herself as she let go
the skirt.

"Go on," said Violet anxiously; "what more did Fritz say?"

"He had seven violets in his hand. He spread them all out on the table
and counted them, for he had sent me with a whole penny to the shop,
and only got back seven flowers. The woman had no flowers in her
shop, only lovely yellow wreaths with writing on them to hang on dead
people's graves; and when I brought one back to Fritz he was mad angry,
and said he would not send thee over such a thing for all the world.
He called me a blockhead, and said thy father was not dead, but quite
alive and well, and it was no use; and so the woman gave the violets."

"Yes," said Violet somewhat faintly.

"And Fritz was so angry. He spread them all out on the table, and was
going to chop off all their heads with a knife, when he found out about
the humps; and then he called mother up from the bakery and showed them
to her."

"And what did she say?" asked Violet, deeply interested in Ella's
recital.

"Fritz asked was that why they called thee Violet, because thou also
hast a hump? and mother said, 'Hush, foolish boy.' Violet was like a
little angel when she was born, and soon she would be an angel again.
And then Fritz got his penknife and cut open all the humps, to see what
was in them; and there wasn't anything to see, only things all folded
up, and quite shining."

"Ah," murmured Violet faintly.

"And then Fritz gave a great cough, and away flew all the violets off
the table--heads and tails, and humps and all; and mother had to hold
Fritz by both the hands, for he coughed as if his head would have
fallen off too."

Ella laughed heartily at the recollection, and letting go Violet's
dress clambered up into the window, where, kneeling on the window-sill,
she seized upon some of the wooden animals ranged along the ledges, and
began with infinite pains to make the camel try to kiss the elephant.
"Only I don't know where the elephant keeps his mouth," she said
plaintively.

By-and-by she ceased playing and fell to singing, her round face
pressed against the window-frame, and her eyes looking out towards the
hill.

Evelina put down her knitting and listened. The child had the sweetest
voice in all Edelsheim--clear, fresh, and true. She sang unconsciously
a hymn about green pastures and lambs who followed their Shepherd by
the side of still waters, and whom, when weary, he carried in his bosom
tenderly and full of care.

Evelina looked across at Violet to express her admiration and amazement
at the beauty and pathos of the child's voice; but Violet did not see
her, for her eyes were fixed on the little cap beside her filled with
the fresh hazel-nuts, with their pale green leaves, and rich with the
odour of the trees which grew on the hill yonder still hanging about
them. A great longing was beginning to fill her soul--to go out like
all the other children and see the woods and the squirrels and the
boughs laden with their fruit; to see the cattle and the fields and the
little waterfall close by the road, at the foot of which Fritz had told
her one could always find lovely damp moss with leaves which looked
like trees. She had some of these leaves put away in mother's Bible,
and she would like to see them and gather them for herself.

And now so deep was her reverie that she did not even notice Ella's
descent from the window-sill, and was scarcely conscious of the parting
kiss, given in some haste as Fritz had signalled to Ella to return home
at once, and had held out to her view a tempting cake full of currants,
and covered over with pink sugar.

When Ella was gone Evelina rose up to prepare the dinner; but her
attention was once more drawn to the child's deep reverie, and to the
earnest gaze fixed so immovably upon the cap full of green nuts which
rested on her knees.

"Well, Violet, what art thou thinking of, with thy great big eyes so
wide open?" she asked, turning round with the wooden bread-plate in her
hand. "Art thou searching for a wood-fairy amongst the leaves?"

"No; I was thinking."

"Thinking of what?"

"I was thinking of the hill, and of the carriage father made for me,
and of what thou wert saying a few minutes ago about--about--about
going to the hill."

"Yes, certainly; why not? We will put thee in thy carriage after
dinner, and away we shall go all the way up the hill; and we shall have
rare fun. I shall send across after dinner for Miss Ella, and she shall
push and I will pull; and then, when we are there, we can pack all the
nuts into the foot of the carriage, and then we will cover thee all
over with boughs, and every one will say as we return, 'Oh, look at our
little Violet hidden among the sweet green leaves.'"

Evelina was in her best mood to-day; and, besides, when she looked into
the child's eyes she always felt a stirring in her heart, like the good
seed trying to thrust itself up amongst the tares and follies of her
vain and wavering nature.

Violet could not eat much of the dinner Evelina had got ready for her,
though it was hot and tempting enough. Evelina had a taste for cookery,
and the meals were always well and skilfully prepared.

To-day her mind was too disturbed to be conscious almost of what she
was eating. This expedition to the hill was full of an excitement which
choked and stifled her. To be out in the fresh air, to hear the birds
sing, to see the trees waving, to watch the children gathering nuts;
perhaps they even might hold down some of the boughs close enough to
her carriage, so that she might gather some herself! And then only to
think what a letter she could write to her father! how rejoiced he
would be to think that his carriage had been used at last, and that the
expedition to the hill had been such a happy one.

Evelina ate her own dinner very happily, and tried to induce Violet
to do the same. She laughed and chatted, and was herself quite elated
at the thought of the expedition. The little girl grew more and more
excited as Evelina described all the things they would see and all the
people they would meet. Her eyes glowed and her cheeks burned, and when
the dinner was over she watched with an ever-increasing anxiety the
preparations which Evelina began to make for their expedition.

The carriage was drawn out from its covering; the cushions were dusted;
pillows with clean frilled covers over them were placed carefully on
the cushions to support Violet's back and shoulders. Then on the rail
at the back was hung a basket for the nuts; and on the foot Evelina
threw a scarlet shawl of her own, which gave a bright and glowing
finish to it all.

"Evelina, thou art too kind," cried Violet, stretching out her arms
suddenly. "I will tell father--I will tell everybody--how good thou art
to me."

Evelina returned the child's embrace warmly, blushing a little as she
did so.

"Ah, if so, thou wilt be better than Master Fritz yonder," she cried,
looking quickly across at the house opposite. "A nice character he gave
of me to the policeman, who will not so much as look at me now if I
meet him in the street. But what do I care?--not one hazel-nut for him
or his long sallow face, the old stick-in-the-mud. He asks every one as
many questions about thee as if he were thy father."

"He is my friend," said Violet nervously, as she heard the thrill of
anger in Evelina's tones.

"Bah! I suppose because he walks up and down the street, and kisses
hands to thee now and again as he goes by, he reckons himself thy
friend--much more of a friend than those who take care of thee all day
and all night. But what is the use of talking? It is not of him we
are thinking, but of the lovely ride we are going to have to-day to
the woods. Let me see now;--where is thy hat? and thou wilt want some
little coat, I suppose, to put over thy dress."

"I have no hat," replied Violet, looking up with suddenly clouded
eyes--"no hat, and no coat."

"How is that?--neither hat nor coat?"

"Father said he would buy me a hat and cloak when he took me out in
my carriage; but he is not here now. O Evelina, cannot I go in the
carriage as Ella often goes in Fritz's wooden cart? Or Ella, perhaps,
would lend me a hat. Do go across if thou canst find me one somewhere."
It seemed to Violet as if some great impediment had suddenly started up
in the path of her promised happiness.

"I need not go to trouble Madam Adler about hats. I could put something
better on thy head than anything she could lend thee," said Evelina
with a little laugh. "Why, a beggar child in Edelsheim would not pick
Miss Ella's hat out of the gutter."

Violet did not hear this remark about Edelsheim or her little friend
Ella. A thought had suddenly come into her head, and she was struggling
with herself how best she could make it known to her companion.

"Evelina!"

"Well, what is it? I suppose thou art too grand to wear one of my hats?"

"No, no; but I have thought of something. I would like to wear mother's
hat, which is in the box."

"What! the splendid Leghorn with the blue silk ribbons? Impossible."

"Why?" asked Violet, colouring violently as she met the astonished eyes
of Evelina. "It has forget-me-nots on it, and I would love to wear
it--oh, this one day. Do not shake thy head so, Evelina. Father said
that by-and-by, when I was big, I might wear it."

"Thy father, of course, can give thee leave to do what he likes when he
is here; but to wear such a hat to go to the hill, the very thought of
it is ridiculous."

"But mother would love me to wear it. She gave me always what I asked
for," pleaded Violet with tear-choked earnestness.

"And that is just why thou art such a little spoiled brat, who must
have everything thine own way. Then let us talk no more about it. The
hat would be destroyed if it were crushed up against the pillows, the
brim would be broken; and the dust and leaves and dirt off the trees
would ruin the trimming. Wait some day until I take thee to church, and
then--"

"To church!" cried Violet, stretching out her hands suddenly, and
uttering a cry of joy.

"Yes, yes; why not? We can draw thee there some day in the carriage,
and I can carry thee inside in my arms."

"And I shall see where mother is asleep. Is it not so, Evelina?"

"Yes, yes. Now dry up thy tears, and think of the nuts and the trees,
and all the fun we are going to have."

Violet drew a deep sigh of relief, and turned her eyes once more
towards the carriage. Her heart was too full for any words as she
wiped the tears off her cheeks and pinafore, and gazed with interest
at Evelina, who, having finished setting the room in order, began to
prepare herself for the expedition by putting a little muslin tippet on
her shoulders, tied up with blue bows; and the daintiest white frilled
cap upon her head, which sat just far enough back to show the pretty
golden curls which clustered round her forehead coaxingly.

"Now, little lovebird," she said, turning with her pleasantest smile
towards the sick child, whose eyes, she could see, were following all
her movements with an almost ardent admiration,--"now I am off to look
for a little hat for thyself. I saw one in a shop yesterday, just
beside the flower-shop, and it is just the very thing for thee. It is
made of brown straw, shady, and yet not too large. I shall not be a
moment away."

"Thou art too good, Evelina," cried Violet eagerly. "And if thou seest
the policeman tell him that I am going out to-day in my carriage. He
will be glad, I know, to hear that, for he is my friend; and I will say
to him how good thou art to me."

"Yes, yes," shouted Evelina, turning briskly down the stairs; "if I see
him I shall tell him." And Violet, leaning back in her chair, folded
her arms on her lap and looked across at the top of the green hill, in
whose cool shadows she hoped so soon to be resting.

Evelina was not very long away. She returned blushing and smiling with
a pretty brown hat in her hand having a wreath of yellow buttercups
twisted round its crown.

"There, darling," she cried, placing it on Violet's head, "is not that
lovely? The woman in the shop nearly wept for joy when she heard it was
for thee; and she chose this wreath for thee herself. She actually
refused to take any money for it, not a penny, though I said if thy
father were at home he would insist on paying her. 'Ah, that is another
thing,' she said, pinning the flowers round the hat so tastefully.
'I would accept twenty shillings this moment to know he were safe at
home.' Was not that good of her?" asked Evelina, tilting the hat a
little back on Violet's head. "We must not quite cover up thy face
for all that, my angel," she added laughing, "or what would the old
policeman say?"

"The policeman!" cried Violet eagerly; "why, didst thou see him?"

"Ah, now indeed I have some news for thee. I met him just at the corner
by the flower-shop, and told him all about that promised drive to the
hill this afternoon; and what dost thou think? He said if we could wait
a while, until his duty was over, he would come with us there himself,
and that he would rather draw thee one mile in thy little cart than
the king himself in his state coach. I laughed at the old silly. As
if he could draw the king one step, let alone the heavy state coach!
But he is, after all, a good soul, for he nearly wept with joy at the
news that thou wert going out, and asked so many questions about the
carriage and the cushions that I thought I should never get home. So
now I have been across and told little Ella that we shall not be ready
just yet awhile; and her mother is delighted at the delay, for the
child had just spilt a whole bottle of ink over her dress and pinafore
and stockings, and she will require time to make her neat again. She
had been crying, too, poor little wretch! for her eyes were sticking
out like crabs' eyes; and Fritz had her on his knee, and was cramming
bon-bons into her mouth."

"Good old Fritz," said Violet softly.

"Oh, good indeed! thou shouldst have heard all he said, and the names
he called me; because why? he thinks thou shouldst not go to the hill
without him. But his mother told him that was folly, as the summer
would be over before he had done coughing. And then he talked a lot of
rubbish about the doctor, and asking his leave; but bah! who listens to
such a chattering magpie?"

"Poor Fritz! father promised him that he should be the first to draw me
in the carriage to the hill," said Violet, half speaking to herself;
but Evelina, who had grown angry, caught the words, and said quickly,--

"Very good. Let Fritz be the first to draw thee to the hill! the
policeman and I can well afford to wait for such an honour." Then
seeing that the child had quite failed to take in the meaning of her
cutting words, she added in a more kindly tone,--

"See now, it wants nearly two hours to the time when the policeman can
come here, and--"

"Two hours!" interrupted Violet, with almost a cry of disappointment.

"Yes, two hours; and so much the better for thee, for now the sun is
so hot it would just bake thee into a little pie. There was a child
yesterday, Master Fritz said, who went to the hill and got such a
headache from standing in a cornfield beside the river that last night
they thought it was going to die."

"Oh," said Violet thoughtfully;--she was thinking of the story in the
Bible which Fritz had told her one time long ago. "And is it well now,
Evelina?"

"I do not know; I did not ask. The policeman can tell thee. He is not
such a bad old fellow, after all. He is going to bring out cakes, and
strawberries and cream, and a kettle, and I don't know what else, and
we are to have tea under the trees. Is not that lovely?"

"Lovely! too, too lovely!" replied Violet, her eyes kindling with a
speechless joy. "And perhaps, Evelina, I shall hear the nightingales
singing in the woods. Mother used to walk down there with father in the
evenings long ago to listen, and once she had me in her arms--father
told me so; but then I was only a very small baby. And shall I see
glow-worms, too, and those little mice which have wings?"

"Yes, yes, everything," replied Evelina, who was busy buttoning on a
pair of very dainty boots: "we shall have a delicious evening, that is
certain. And I would have thee go asleep now and think no more about
it, and when thou awakest the two hours will be gone, and we shall lift
thee straight away into thy carriage, and then hurrah for the hill!
Why, thou wilt feel just like a bird escaped from its cage; and when
once thou hast stretched thy wings and flown to the woods, I reckon we
shall have pretty hard work to keep thee in the house any longer."

"My wings!" echoed Violet in a tone of such concentrated interest that
Evelina looked up startled and astonished; "when shall I have wings?"

"Little goose," replied the girl, turning away her head suddenly from
the sight of those pleading eyes; "how can I tell thee? Perhaps we
shall cheat thee after all of thy wings, when we get thee out into the
fresh air and the fields; and then what will thy father think when he
comes home?"

"I do not understand what thou meanest," said Violet plaintively.

"Never mind what I mean: wings are all very well, no doubt, for birds
and things that cannot walk; but fine fat arms and legs are better
still. Ah, thou shouldest see thy cousins at Gützberg; they are
something like children. I would not drag one of those fat things to
the hill in thy carriage, not for all thou couldst give me."

"But thou rememberest the little sick girl in the book, dost thou not,
Evelina?" asked Violet, puzzled and anxious.

"In what book?"

Violet placed her hand on the spotted cover beside her on the table.
"The picture is in mother's Bible," she said softly.

"Oh yes, to be sure, I remember all about it; but we need not think
about such sad things to-day. Go to sleep now, and I will draw this
blind down beside thee and darken the room a bit."

As Evelina stretched up her arms to reach the tassel of the narrow
blind beside Violet's chair she caught her by her apron and said
earnestly,--

"But thou, Evelina, thou believest that I shall have wings?"

"Of course I do."

"And will it be soon?"

"Oh, how can I tell? before the winter, I daresay."

"Before the winter?" repeated Violet reflectively; "that is not long to
wait."

"What a strange child thou art!" cried Evelina, putting her arms
suddenly round Violet's neck and kissing her; "why art thou in such a
hurry to leave us all? Is not Evelina good to thee?"

"Oh yes, too good; only my back aches so, and the wings are so long
coming."

Evelina looked at the little white face turned up to her so wistfully,
and said in her softest voice, "Pray to God, darling, for thy wings. He
can give them to thee when he likes."

"Yes, I do pray every day, and Fritz too; and thou, Evelina, thou also
wilt ask God every morning and every evening when thou sayest thy
prayers, wilt thou not?" Evelina suddenly flushed scarlet and turned
away her face from the earnest pleading eyes. "Wilt thou not, Evelina?"

"Yes, yes, of course; only do not let us talk any more about wings.
Thou wilt be too tired for thy drive. Lie back on thy pillows now and
dream of strawberries and cream, and thy friend the old policeman
sitting with thee under the trees on the hill, and all the care he will
take of thee, and of the long letter we must write by-and-by to thy
father of all we have seen and done."



CHAPTER XX.

ALL ALONE.


It was the sound of a cannon fired from the fort just across the river
that woke Violet from the sleep into which she had fallen, and in which
she had lain now peacefully resting for the last two hours.

She did not often sleep so heavily in the day-time, but this afternoon
she had been so excited and restless that her little body had felt
quite worn out, and she had scarcely lain back on her pillows before a
most delicious sleep had overtaken her.

She had dreamt, too, such a lovely dream: a dream that she was out
gathering flowers in a wide meadow at the foot of the hill--beautiful
blue forget-me-nots and the yellow narcissus; and that morning, beside
her and holding her hand, all dressed in white, with beautiful silver
wings, was another child whom she seemed to know at once to be the
little girl the doctor had told her of, who in the spring time, when
the flowers were starting up and the larks were beginning to sing, had
suddenly escaped, like a bird from its cage, and spreading her wings
had flown right up to God.

But now, in the dream, she was in the meadow with Violet, holding her
hand and leading her along, and pointing out to her the beautiful
flowers which were growing here and there through the grass. And Violet
wondered even in her dream how it was that she had no pain in her
shoulders, and that her feet seemed to carry her along so easily and
swiftly over the meadows--sometimes, indeed, they did not seem to touch
the ground at all, but only to skim over the heads of the tall grasses;
and a delicious breeze was blowing down from the hill and wafting her
along towards the spot where the forget-me-nots grew thickest, and
where the sweet-scented jonquils stood up so pure and white in their
beauty.

And while she was stooping and gathering the blue flowers which she
loved the best, she thought she heard a voice calling to her a long way
off down the meadow--a very gentle voice, which at first sounded as if
Aunt Lizzie were calling to her; but the little girl touched her on the
shoulder and said,--

"Violet, dost thou not hear thy mother calling to thee?"

"My mother! where?" and then remembering suddenly that her mother was
dead, she said very sadly, "It cannot be my mother, for she is not here
any longer; she is up in heaven with the angels, and I cannot go to her
until God has given me wings."

"Ah, dost thou not know that this is heaven, and that thou hast wings?"

Then Violet, looking up suddenly, saw that the air was full of shining
figures flitting to and fro across the sky; and there was a shining
hill on which stood a great white throne, and on the steps of the
throne the Lord Jesus was standing with a little lamb in his arms; and
Violet suddenly felt herself rising up into the air like the angels,
and soon she was flying swiftly across the meadow in the direction of
the throne, flying, flying ever faster, that she might meet the good
Lord Jesus whom she loved so much, and see the lamb that he had folded
so closely to his breast.

At last she came to the foot of the shining steps, and the good Lord
Jesus was standing there waiting for her with a smile on his face; and
she said to him very softly, "Dear Lord Jesus, show me the little lamb
whom thou art carrying in thy bosom." And the Lord Jesus answered her,
in a low, sweet voice, "Dost thou not know this is the little Violet
from Edelsheim? She has fallen asleep, and I am going to lay her in
her mother's arms."

And Violet saw then that it was a little sick maiden that he carried
so lovingly; and she stretched up that she might see the little girl's
face. And when she did see it, it was quite white, and there were tears
upon the cheeks, though the eyes were closed.

But even while she was looking at it wonderingly, the Lord Jesus
stooped down and kissed the child on the forehead; and she heard him
say in a low voice, as he leaned over her, "No more tears."

Then Violet remembered that she had heard those words somewhere before,
and she stirred in her sleep, and stretched out her hand towards the
table on which lay her mother's Bible, and the book with the spotted
cover. But before she could find them, she awoke with a sudden start
and a scream, for, from the fort across the river one of the great
cannon had been fired off, and which always shook the town from end
to end; and the window-frames were still rattling, and the Noah's ark
animals falling down over the cushions beside her, when she awoke.

"What is that?" she cried, hastily clutching at the rails of her chair
to draw herself up from her pillows. "Evelina, what was that dreadful
noise?"

Either Evelina was not in the room or the noise had deafened her, for
she did not answer Violet's question; and before she could speak again
or look round, there was another roar of cannon from the fort, and once
more the window-frames rattled and the animals fell pell-mell upon the
cushioned window-seat beneath.

"Evelina! Evelina! where art thou? why dost thou not answer?" cried
Violet, who, suddenly aroused from a delicious dream of rest and peace,
had scarcely yet realized either where she was or what was going on.

She sat up now, and gazed around the room with a flushed face and
anxious eyes; but no Evelina was there, though the carriage was still
drawn out in the middle of the room, and the new brown hat was lying
on the coverlet; and gradually Violet remembered that this was the
afternoon that she was to have tea with the policeman and Ella under
the trees on the hill.

But surely the afternoon must be almost over now, for the evening
shadows were already creeping into the room; and the pigeons were
clustering on the window-sill beside her, looking for their usual meal,
as they always did ere they went to roost.

"Evelina, where art thou?" she cried once more, as she gazed at the
door leading into the little room which once had been her mother's
long ago; but no answer came from there either, only another dreadful
roar from the cannon, which put all the pigeons to flight, and pitched
Noah's wife headlong on the carpet.

Violet had often heard them firing from the fort before, so, after the
first three or four great bangs, it did not frighten her so much, only
it made her head ache; but presently, leaning a little forward and
looking through the window opposite her chair, she saw now that some
great event must have happened, for people were racing down the street
eagerly, and some were waving their hats, and some had on no hats at
all, while, far off in the distance, she could hear a great sound of
voices like a deafening cheer of joy.

Again the cannon roared, and again there came the same hoarse shout,
which seemed to come from somewhere down near the barracks. And now the
people in the street were shouting also as they ran along; and so eager
and breathless was their race, that when a woman stumbled and fell on
the pathway no one turned to lift her up, or to notice the white face
which for many minutes afterwards remained turned up motionless towards
the sky.

At last another woman, dressed in black, came out of a shop opposite,
with a cup of water in her hand: she waited until the street was pretty
clear, and then, crossing over, she put the cup to the woman's lips
and helped to raise her up.

Violet could hear the woman's voice speaking comfortingly to her
companion, for the narrow casement which formed part of the great
window looking over the street was open, and through it a soft breeze
was coming in, which blew straight from the hill; and by-and-by, when
the woman who had fainted was able to walk, she saw the other lead her
across the street, and she distinctly heard her say, "Ah, is not this
good news for the town? Now in Edelsheim we shall have no more tears."

"No more tears!" They were the same words that Violet had just heard in
her dream. She listened eagerly if she could hear more; but the woman
had evidently gone into the little toy-shop close by, and another roar
from the cannon set her trembling again, and her heart beat wildly
against her little purple frock as she heard again--and this time
nearer than before--a deafening shout of men and women's voices rising
high upon the evening air.

"Evelina! Evelina!" she cried, striving with trembling lips to make her
voice heard above the din and uproar, "come, come to Violet. Will no
one come to Violet?"

But it was quite useless to call or cry out "Evelina." The girl
had evidently gone out, and though tears of fear and disappointment
streamed from Violet's eyes, and poured down over her little flushed
cheeks, no one came to wipe them away or to comfort her.

The cannon, too, roared louder and faster than ever; and all at once
the great church bell at the foot of the street began to ring, and
clanged out great strokes which set the whole air trembling, so that
Violet thought even the blue sky over the house-tops was shaking with
the din.

But soon this blue sky began to change to a pale green, and then golden
streaks came across it; and presently again broad bands of red, and
all the green hill seemed on fire, till at last the great red sun
dropped down behind it, and a gray light stole over all; and still
Violet sat all alone in the window, while every church bell in the town
was jangling, and the roar of voices came up hoarsely from the public
gardens down by the barracks.

She could not see across the street to the Adlers' house, for the blind
which Evelina had drawn down beside her chair hid their windows from
her sight, and there was no one stirring outside who could hear her
cry, for the rush of the people towards the market-place was over, and
the street had become utterly silent and deserted.

As the darkness crept on, a dreadful fear came over the child's mind
that she was going to be left alone in the room all the night--that
Evelina had perhaps gone back to Gützberg, or that some accident had
happened to her in the street.

The corners of the room were growing dusky, and there were sounds
of mice nibbling in the cupboard beside her. The bells in the town
ceased ringing, and a dreadful silence seemed to fall over everything.
Presently one of the mice stole out of the cupboard, and passing close
to the foot of Violet's chair, climbed up the cord of the canary bird's
cage, and squeezing itself in through the bars, disappeared in a
twinkling.

Even the lantern man had forgotten to come and light the lamp outside
her window; and the pigeons had reluctantly deserted their posts on the
sill outside, and retired to roost without their evening meal.

"If only I could get out of this chair; if only I could walk; if
only some one would come and open the door." And poor Violet moved
restlessly to and fro in her chair, and craned her neck to see beyond
the strip of narrow blind which hid the opposite house from her view.

The window which looked across to the hill lay wide open, and every now
and then a breeze came rushing in, which blew her hair softly about her
face and refreshed her; but the hill itself lay now like a great black
heap against the evening sky. No friendly moon was up, to frost the
branches of the distant trees with silvery light, and only a few faint
stars twinkled now and again through the gathering darkness.

Presently she grew quite desperate, and strove in the foolishness of
her fear to free herself from the bands which held her fast in her
chair. She clutched at the blind, and tried to drag it down; and she
called aloud frantically to Madam Adler, to Evelina, to Ella, to any
one, to come and help her. But no one answered her, and she sank back,
tired out, on the pillows behind her.

Then some one in a neighbouring house began to sing, and she felt
comforted. The first note of a human voice, which sounded not so far
off, gave her some confidence, and she dragged herself up painfully and
listened.

It was a song which she had heard before, but at first she could not
remember the words. The air was intensely sad, for Evelina had sung it
one night when Violet was lying awake in her bed, and she remembered
that she had put her fingers in her ears that she might not hear the
words; but now, with a strange eagerness, she leaned forward.

The woman was singing with all her heart. She scarcely touched the
notes of the old piano on which she was accompanying herself; and
by-and-by the words came out with a cruel clearness upon the evening
air.

Violet knew now who it was. It was the woman who kept the little
toy-shop a few doors off, and whose husband, Ella told her, had been
killed in the war.

She had a little spinet, not very musical, on which Violet had often
heard her play in the pleasant spring evenings before the war began;
but, until this evening, the spinet had been silent for many a long
day, and the woman's voice had been silent too. To-night it seemed as
if she must cry out to some one,--


     "My love is dead, and I am left alone."


Violet listened so earnestly to the words, she was so anxious not to
lose one of them, that for a time she forgot her own sorrows, and only
thought of the poor woman who was never to see her husband any more,
and whose heart seemed so terribly sad in that house only a few doors
off.

But presently the mouse plumped down out of the cage overhead almost
upon her very knees, and startled her so that she screamed aloud;
indeed she screamed several times, and clutched once more at the
window-blind to try and drag it aside. And then she paused, for she
fancied she had heard a step in the street beneath; and by-and-by she
was sure there was a footstep slowly and stealthily creeping up the
stairs towards the door of her room.

But no one knocked or asked permission to enter; only there was a
slight rustling against the wood, as if some one were waiting and
listening outside.

Violet, whose heart had leaped up with joy at the first sound of a
human step, now felt terrified. A sudden sickness came over her; the
wind from the hill blew in chilly through the window, and seemed to
pass over her forehead in waves of ice. Her hands grew damp and cold;
and the voice outside, singing in its pain "so quite alone," appeared
to her to come from miles away and in a kind of curious dream. She
fancied that it was the little girl in the book with the spotted cover
who was sitting in a window somewhere "so quite alone," and crying out
to the Lord Jesus across the roofs and the distant steeple.

But in a moment, and before she had time to reason out this thought or
to wonder whether she was awake or dreaming, there was a crash--a loud
crackling as if all the houses in Edelsheim were falling to pieces; and
as Violet, completely startled out of her faintness, sat up and looked
out of the window, it appeared to her that the gray clouds over the
hill had suddenly split open, and that hundreds of fairy snakes were
rushing up with a swift fury through the sky. This was immediately
succeeded by the same loud sound of voices which she had heard so often
through the evening; and then in a moment the fairy snakes were gone,
and the sky was full of pale red and green stars falling softly in a
shower of beauty to the earth.

"Evelina!" she cried once more, in a piteous entreaty, full of the
agony of fear, "Evelina! where art thou?"

There was a knock at the door now; and Violet, forgetful, in her new
terror, of the step she had heard a moment ago on the stairs, cried out
eagerly, "Come in."

The door opened. Her eyes were still full of the red and green stars
which she had seen falling outside over the dark outline of the hill,
so for a moment she was dazzled, and could not see who had entered; but
all at once, as the figure drew quite close to her chair, she called
out loudly and lovingly, "My friend! my friend!" and threw her arms
round the neck of the old policeman.

"Ah, thou art frightened, little maiden," he said softly; "and quite
alone," he added, looking keenly around the room as he knelt down
beside her chair and took the two icy hands in his. The action and the
tenderness of the touch brought back for a moment the thought of her
father.

"Yes, oh so frightened," she said, "and so lonely;" and she laid her
head wearily against the shoulder of her protector. "It was so good of
thee to come." Then suddenly she turned her face inwards against his
cloak, for once again there came that fearful crackling noise down by
the hill, and hundreds of fiery snakes again rushed upwards athwart the
dark gray sky.

"There, there! little darling, sweetest child! thou must not be so
afraid; there is nothing to frighten one, only splendid fireworks which
the people in the town are sending up to show their joy."

"Fireworks! and are they only fireworks?" gasped Violet, still keeping
her face pressed in close to the old man's heart; "and thou art sure
that they are only fireworks?"

"Yes; look out now and see how lovely they are. Blue and yellow and red
stars are falling to the ground."

"I do not like to look, it makes my heart go so fast."

There was no need to tell him that fact, for the little fluttering
heart was beating at that moment with terrifying speed against his
bosom; so he rose up and drew down the blind across the window, and
then he returned quietly to the chair and placed his arm tenderly
around the little trembling figure.

"And hast thou been long alone, poor little maiden?" he asked softly,
as he lifted the damp hair off her forehead and stroked her cheek.

"Yes, a long time," she sighed.

"Where is thy maid?"

"I do not know. I awoke, and she was not here. It was quite bright
daylight--oh, such long hours ago. And I was to go in the carriage
father made for me to the hill, and Ella too, and--" Violet paused and
hesitated, and a burning blush covered all her face. She had remembered
suddenly about the tea under the trees on the hill, and that the old
policeman was to have been there too.

"Well," he said curiously, as she paused and hesitated.

"Then I awoke, and all the people were running screaming down the
street, and the bells made such a noise, and I was frightened."

"And no one was here to tell the good news?"

"What good news?"

"Ah, now I have something to gladden thy poor little heart with--great
news. There has been a great victory for us. The war, people think, is
over; and soon all our loved ones may come home to us again."

"My father?" cried Violet, sitting suddenly upright in her chair and
gazing into the policeman's face with eyes which, even in the gloom
of the shaded room, shone with a more wonderful light than the violet
stars which were falling again in a shower of beauty on the hill
outside.

"Yes, thy father, dearest maiden; he will soon be home: and that is why
the people ran so fast in the street this afternoon, and why they are
so noisy now, sending up rockets and making such a riot, screaming and
shouting."

"How soon?" asked Violet in a scarcely audible voice, for the sick
faintness she had felt before was returning.

"Ah, that I have not heard; but if all be true it cannot be very
long--a month or so at most."

Violet sighed unconsciously. "I am so--so tired," she said, almost
under her breath.

"Poor little maiden! it is weary work waiting."

"When the lambs are very tired, and cannot walk any more, the Lord
Jesus lifts them in his arms and carries them, does he not?" she said
dreamily.

"Yes, yes, of course."

"And dost thou know, my friend, that I saw that lamb's face, and it
was Violet's; and the Lord Jesus was going to put her into her mother's
arms to rest herself."

"When? where?" asked the policeman, growing frightened at the words
which the child was so slowly uttering; and even in the darkness he
could see the strange paleness of the little face.

"In the meadow with the other little girl."

"What little girl?"

"The little one who sent me this watch. She was a very sick little girl
like me--oh, so sick the doctor said; but she flew up in the spring
with the flowers and the larks to heaven, and she--"

At this moment a loud clattering on the stairs outside made itself
heard over everything, and the door of the room burst open with a
startling haste.

It was Ella, breathless and panting loudly, who, rushing blindly
forward in the darkness, first fell over the handle of the carriage
which stood in the middle of the room ready for its first journey, and
then over a low stool by the stove. She recovered herself quickly,
however, and made for the corner where the dim outline of Violet's head
was visible against the holland blind.

"Violet, hast thou heard the news? Evelina has stopped to buy thee a
cake at the shop, so I ran on ever so fast to tell it to thee first.
There is a great battle which is all over, and we have a great victory
and lots and lots of people killed, and a whole town tumbled down, and
the man with the big nose, the grand emperor we saw in the picture,
is all beaten into little pieces, and had to give up his sword to our
king, and he will soon be put in prison; is not that splendid? And they
sent up fire into the sky and frightened Ella, and lots of it tumbled
down again, and stars and blue things; and a great red-hot stick, fell
on the shoulders of the orange-girl and made her give such a hop and
a scream. And--and--who is that sitting in the window beside thee?"
Ella paused, her breath almost gone, and not a little frightened at the
strange figure sitting wrapped in a cloak beside Violet's chair.

"Will Evelina soon be here?" asked Violet plaintively; for the noise
and the fuss were overpowering her.

"Yes; Evelina is here," replied a voice at the door. "Ah, poor little
maiden! all in the dark. But it is not my fault, as I will explain to
thee. See, here is a lovely cake I have bought for thy supper. Thou
wert so fast asleep I just slipped down a moment to hear the grand
news, and then the crowd was so great one could not budge a foot. I
thought a hundred times of thee and thy carriage, but we could never
have dragged thee a foot through the throngs of people: and besides,
that faithless old policeman never turned up, and I suppose forgot all
about thee; but I will make him answer for it to-morrow," she added
with a light laugh.

"The policeman is here to answer for himself," said a voice coming out
of the darkness; and between Evelina and the window there rose up a
figure tall and dark, and to her eyes terrible to look at.

"Oh! who is that?" she cried hastily.

But no one replied to her question; only the figure in the window bent
down low over the chair on which Violet sat, and said softly in her
ear,--

"Dearest little maiden, the old policeman was not faithless; he did not
forget thee, but he was sent for by his captain, and had to go to the
gardens to keep order. Please God, to-morrow I will take thee to the
hill. And now thou wilt say 'Good-night,' wilt thou not? and go to bed
and rest, and dream of the good news of the home-coming, and the good
father's joy to see his Violet once more. Good-night, little heart's
love."

Violet stretched up her arms and drew the kind grave face down to her.

"Good-night, my friend," she said lovingly.

"Ah, now I can hear thy watch ticking," he said in a hoarse whisper,
"and it seems to say something to me."

"What does it say?"

"It says, 'Forget me not.'"

"What?" said Violet, clutching eagerly at his coat; but he had stood
up now and was fixing his helmet firmly on his head. Evelina, abashed
and confounded, had moved noiselessly into the inner room, and Ella was
gaping with open mouth at Violet's friend.

"Good-night," he said once more, in a hoarse voice; "and to-morrow, if
all be well, we shall have tea under the trees on the hill."

"Yes, yes, yes," cried Ella joyfully, and forgetting her shyness she
flung her fat arms around the knees of the advancing policeman; "and
Ella may come too, may she not?"

"Certainly; Miss Ella must come also. And now thou wilt take my hand,
and I will leave thee at thy mother's house, for the little maiden in
the chair is very tired, and she must sleep and rest.--Good-night," he
cried once more as he reached the door and looked back.

"Good-night," she replied with eagerness; and then in a low voice he
heard her say softly, "Forget me not."



CHAPTER XXI.

A GUILTY CONSCIENCE.


The next morning rose beautiful and bright and fair. The town was gay
as gay could be; flags were hung from almost every window, and the hum
of a great content seemed to fill the air.

In Violet's room all was still. The carriage had been pushed back into
the corner of the room, and the little girl was asleep. She had been
sleeping nearly all the morning; indeed so profound was her repose that
Evelina had grown nervous and summoned the doctor, whose carriage she
had seen outside the toy-shop door.

He came in quietly and stood beside the bed. The child's breathing was
quick and regular, and her hand lay softly open upon the counterpane.
"How long has she slept like this?" he asked in a low voice of Evelina,
who stood with tearful eyes near the window.

"Ever since last night when I put her to bed. It was the news of the
victory, sir, which I think upset her."

"Who told her of it?"

"Little Ella, sir, Madam Adler's daughter."

"Ah, of course, of course, children will talk; and she must have heard
it some time or other. Has she spoken at all since morning?"

"A few words, sir, but not much sense in them; about larks and flowers,
and about wings--she is always rambling on to me about having wings."

"She will soon have them," said the doctor shortly.

"What!" said Violet, opening her eyes suddenly and looking up; "is that
true? will Violet soon have wings?"

"Yes, my poor little child, very soon."

"Oh, how beautiful! how lovely!" she said with a sigh of the utmost
content. Then turning her head suddenly, she said quickly, "Fritz, dost
thou hear what the doctor says? Violet will soon have wings." Then she
closed her eyes again and fell asleep.

"We can do nothing for her," said the doctor, as he moved aside from
the bed. "This stupor that she has fallen into is the result of the
shock she received yesterday; for in her state good news is almost as
disturbing in its results as bad. I think she may awake out of this
sleep and be perhaps none the worse, but we cannot tell. God is very
merciful, and the thread of her life is in his hands."

"Yes, sir," said Evelina faintly.

"Has she spoken at all to-day of her father?"

"No, sir, not exactly; only once she said something about a great
victory, and smiled a little."

The doctor turned back and looked again at the quiet face on the
pillow, and repeated in a low voice several times the words, "A great
victory." "Yes, poor Violet! thy victory too is close at hand; and then
cometh the peace which passeth all understanding."

"I shall come again to-night," he said, as he turned away towards the
door; "and meanwhile no one must enter this room to disturb her, nor
must she be left alone for a moment. Remember, she has been intrusted
to your care by her father, and to mine, and we are responsible for
her."

"Yes, sir; I shall watch her very carefully," replied Evelina humbly.

When the doctor was gone, Evelina sat down on the chair by the stove
and cried bitterly, for a miserable feeling of guilt was over her. The
smile on Violet's face was more difficult for her to look at now than
the wakeful restlessness of pain and weariness; indeed everything in
the room seemed to reproach her this morning: the carriage standing in
the corner; the little brown hat with its wreath of buttercups, which
something in Evelina's heart told her would never be asked for again;
the cake, which had not been tasted; the window-sill littered with the
fallen animals which had been shaken from their usual resting-place by
the firing of the cannon; and a kind of dull consciousness resting over
all that the end was close at hand, and that the child lying so quietly
on the bed yonder was, oh so near heaven;--and she--where was she?
and what did she know of that peace which the doctor said passed all
understanding?

She stood up presently, and going over to the bed, opened the dead
mother's Bible. Between the leaves lay the picture which Violet loved
so much to look at. Evelina's eye fell on the centre plate, where
the little girl was represented seated all alone in the garret-room,
looking out over the roofs and the chimneys towards the far-off sky.

"All alone," she murmured, reading the print beneath it; then turned
on hastily, for it seemed to remind her painfully of her conduct
yesterday. Presently she came on the lock of golden hair which Violet
prized so highly, the long, glistening curl tied up with a knot of
black ribbon, and she lifted it up carefully and looked at it with
interest; then walking softly across to a little mirror which hung
against the wall, she laid it against her own golden curls, and said
under her breath, "Just the same colour." She put back the hair into
the Bible; and then some other thought following quickly on the
comparison, she went over to the trunk which stood beside Violet's bed,
and, lifting the lid noiselessly, drew out once more from the corner
the hat trimmed with the blue forget-me-nots, which she carried into
her own room and presently closed the door.

Meanwhile Violet, quite unconscious that her most precious possessions
were being ruthlessly trifled with in the adjoining chamber, slept
on quietly. She did not rouse up until quite late in the afternoon,
when she saw Evelina sitting in the window-seat as usual, and knitting
stockings for the Gützberg children.

"I am going soon to see father," she said softly; but at the words,
Evelina, who was in a reverie, started violently, and almost let the
knitting slip from her fingers.

"Aunt Lizzie will be glad when father comes home; will she not,
Evelina?"

"Yes, of course; every one will be glad."

"And the children, the little cousins at Gützberg,--will not they too
be delighted?"

"Oh, they are too young to know such things."

"But they will be watching all this time for thee to go back."

"So thou art thinking already of sending me back to Gützberg?"

"No, no," cried Violet, blushing hotly; "I do not want to send thee
away, only Aunt Lizzie said she could spare thee a little while, and
now it is so long since father went; and when he comes home he will
take care of me all day long, and never be the least bit tired; and I
will tell father how good thou hast been to me all this long time."

"I had a letter from thy aunt this morning," said Evelina, turning away
her face towards the window; "only a few lines. She is coming over here
in a few days to see thee; and probably if thy father returns I shall
go back with her. She sent thee her love, and she is making thee a
little cloak to wear when thou goest out in thy carriage."

"Ah, how good. I will wear it when father takes me out; that will not
be long to wait."

When the doctor came again in the evening, he was quite delighted with
the brightness of the little face, and with the rare happy smile which
was lighting up all its features.

Violet chatted to him more naturally than she had done for many a
long day. She showed him her carriage; and told him of the cloak
Aunt Lizzie was making for her; and laughed when she said how the
cannon-shot had thrown down Noah's wife and all the animals.

"I may see Ella to-morrow, may I not?" she asked wistfully, as he moved
towards the door.

"Certainly; if she is not too noisy."

"Oh, Ella is always good," she cried joyously; "and I am never lonely
when she is here."

Madam Adler, too, came across in the evening. Her heart was full of
anger against Evelina for having deserted her charge the day before;
but when she entered the room and found Violet sitting on Evelina's
knee by the stove, with her arms round the girl's neck, who was
singing to her, she thought the reprimand would be ill-timed, and she
determined to wait for a better opportunity.



CHAPTER XXII.

A STARTLING MESSAGE.


It was not many days before the town of Edelsheim awoke to the fact
that the war was not over, and that though the French emperor was a
prisoner, France seemed determined to fight to the bitter end.

The gay flags which had been hung out of the windows so joyfully were
now rolled up again and put aside, and the people went about their work
with dejected faces, awaiting the dread tidings that their loved ones
were ordered to march forward towards Paris, and fight the enemy there.

But Violet knew nothing of all this. Secure in the certainty of her
father's speedy return, she sat daily in the window watching. She very
seldom spoke now; it seemed to tire her. But she smiled to herself
much oftener than she had hitherto done, and waved her little thin
hand to Fritz, who was ever on the watch in the house opposite; and
constantly, in the warm autumn evenings, when the windows of both
houses were open, he called across to her and told her his news. Violet
smiled and nodded her head, but she had no strength to call back again,
nor even to draw up the cord of the little basket into which Fritz
was constantly dropping little gifts and scraps of paper, on which
were printed in large letters messages of love and comfort:--"Fritz
will soon be well enough to see Violet"--"Fritz is making a boat for
Violet;" and once or twice, in a very closely-folded message, were the
words, "Fritz is always asking God to make Violet well."

But at last there came a message from Fritz which roused her for a time
out of her lethargy, and set her heart beating wildly.

It was a beautiful autumn evening; the town was rosy red in the sunset,
and all the casements of the oriel window lay wide open. Violet, who
had not spoken for several hours, was lying back on her pillows half
sleeping, half waking, with her eyes dreamily fixed on the hill, which
was wrapped in a soft purple mist. The canary bird was picking out the
loose feathers from its wings in the cage overhead; and the old jackdaw
on the opposite side of the street, for a wonder was at rest, with his
head tucked under his wing.

Fritz for a long time had been making signals to Violet from the
high-up dormer window of the house; but her face had been turned away,
and though her eyes were fixed on the far-off hill, she saw nothing
but a waving meadow bright with flowers, over whose green fragrant
grass she was passing with a delicious freedom, her feet not actually
touching the ground, only here and there skimming over the cool meadow
grass, while a refreshing air wafted her along without fatigue and
without pain.

She often had this fancy now, that she was floating along over the
earth, that she was free from the ache in her back and the weary
heaviness of her limbs; and this afternoon she was listening again to
that voice from the meadow saying, "I am going to lay this poor tired
lamb in its mother's bosom."

But all at once, when she was seeking once more to see the face of
the child which the Lord Jesus held so lovingly in his arms, the
basket-bell rang with a sharp tinkle overhead, and she awoke from her
dream to find herself no longer wandering amid green pastures, but
propped up among her pillows, oh so tired, and with a sudden tearful
longing to lay her head against some loving heart and be at rest.

At the sound of the bell, Evelina, who had been dozing also in a chair
near the stove, started up angrily, and going over to the window,
looked down into the street.

"Ha! it is just as I thought, thou little donkey. Hast thou no sense,
Master Fritz, but to go and ring bells in people's ears when they are
asleep? See, now, thou hast startled Violet out of her dreams, and she
will be ill all the night."

"No, no," said Violet eagerly; but there were sudden tears of distress
and weakness standing in her uplifted eyes.

"Look in the basket, Violet," cried Fritz, taking no notice of
Evelina's wrath; "there is something in it that I want thee to see,
and it is all--" Before, however, Fritz could finish his sentence, his
mother had appeared in the doorway, and seizing Fritz by the collar of
his coat, had dragged him backwards into the bakery.

"I will not have thee disturbing Violet with thy folly," she said
angrily, and pushed him into the back passage.

Meantime Evelina, her own curiosity aroused, had drawn up the little
cord from which dangled the basket.

"It is uncommonly light," she said, as she lifted it in at the window.
"It strikes me, if I am not mistaken, that Master Fritz is at his old
pranks again. Yes, it is just as I thought; the basket is quite empty.
It is just a silly trick he has played upon thee, and nothing else."
Evelina turned the basket upside down as she spoke, and shook out
some old dried moss and withered leaves, and a little scrap of dirty
paper folded into a minute size, which fluttered down and lit on the
window-seat beside Violet.

"Little wretch! I shall box his ears the next time I see him," cried
Evelina angrily. "To come and waken people up for such a senseless
joke."

"There was something in the basket," pleaded Violet in a low voice.

"I tell thee there was not," replied Evelina sharply; "unless thou
callest a handful of dead leaves something."

The child's eyes rested wistfully on the little scrap of folded paper
lying almost within her reach on the window-seat, but she said nothing.
When Evelina was vexed, Violet felt afraid of her; and besides, she was
down on her knees now gathering the moss and dirt off the floor, and
she did not like to trouble her further.

But Evelina's tempers were never of long duration. When she stood up
again she was smiling, and said with a laugh,--

"I have a mind to go across the street and tie this basket on to
Master Fritz's back and hunt him up and down the town for his pains. At
any rate, the next time it happens I shall just cut the cord, and then
there will be an end of it all."

"No, no, thou wilt not do that, Evelina," cried Violet, stretching out
her hands eagerly.

"There is no saying what Evelina might do when she is angry," replied
the girl, laughing lightly as she dropped the basket once more out of
the window. "Ah, there is the newsman in the street and lots of people
gathered round him; I must run down for a moment and see what fresh
telegrams have come in. I shall just buy a paper from him and be back
immediately."

Violet nodded her head silently, and Evelina, having again arranged the
cord in its place, left the room.

When the door was closed, and Evelina's flying footsteps were
distinctly audible in the street beneath, Violet tried to stretch out
her hand for the piece of paper which had fluttered down out of the
basket on to the window-seat beside her; but she found, to her grief,
that it was just an inch or two beyond the reach of her finger-tips.
She looked round for something with which she could draw it nearer to
her, and at last, after some difficulty, she succeeded with the help of
the spotted book in pushing it to the edge of the cushion, where she
could stretch out her hand and take hold of it.

Even this little exertion tried her. She panted, and for some moments
did not attempt to open the paper. Her heart beat quickly and her hands
trembled. She did not believe that Fritz had been playing a trick upon
her, and she guessed that there was some special piece of news to be
found in the little crumpled scrap which she held tightly pressed up in
her hand.

At last she opened it out, and as she read the words printed across it
in large letters she gave quite a sharp cry and started up in her chair.

"Ella is going to be an angel, and have wings."

This was the whole message--no explanation, no other word to give a
hint or a reason, and no Fritz at the window opposite to make things
clear.

She stared again at the words. Her cheeks grew crimson, her eyes
darkened, tears came into them and fell upon the dirty scrap of paper
on her knee.

Ella was going to have wings! Ella, who could run and jump and walk
and was never tired; who could laugh and sing and hop and follow Fritz
wherever he went. Ella was going to have wings!

And Ella had no hump upon her back, no pain, no tiredness. She had not
been waiting for them long, oh, so long as she had! A great lump came
struggling up into her throat, drops of sweat gathered on her forehead.
The book with the spotted cover lay across her knees; the tears came
splash, splash upon the yellow binding; and Violet, bending her head
down lower, said in a sobbing whisper,--

"Oh, dear Lord Jesus! canst thou not also give wings to Violet? Violet
is so tired, and cannot walk or run." Then followed another long sob
and a shower of burning tears, in the midst of which the door opened
and Evelina came laughing in, her eyes brimming with fun and her whole
manner joyous and gay.

"Did any one ever hear of such an idea?" she cried, flinging herself
down on a chair. "To make that great fat Miss Ella an angel! the
very thought of it gives one almost a fit. I could almost die of
laughter.--But what is the matter with the child? What art thou crying
for, Violet?" and Evelina rose and came over to Violet, whose head was
bent upon her purple frock, and her face was covered with her hands.

"What troubles thee? Look up, Violet, and hear my news. There is going
to be a great procession through the town. The general is coming home
wounded from the war. Such a brave old fellow! he has had both his
arms shot off, and two of his sons have been killed in the battle of
Sedan; so all Edelsheim is going out to meet him on his return and
give him a welcome. And there are to be hundreds of girls dressed in
white, who are to sing beautiful songs and scatter flowers on the
road; and a whole band of little angels, who are to have wings, and
they are to sing too. And just imagine--Ella over the way is to be an
angel! Such an idea! one might just as well make an angel of a little
fat, squeaking pig; but of course it is for her voice they want her.
Ah, Miss Violet, it is a shame for thee to go on crying so when I have
brought thee home such a grand piece of news. What ails thee? Look up
and tell me."

"I want to be an angel too," cried Violet with a bursting sob.

"An angel! Ah, is that it? Poor little darling! thou wilt be an angel
soon enough."

"But Ella will have wings first, and will fly away from Violet, and
Violet is so lonely."

"Miss Ella fly!" cried Evelina, throwing up her hands again and
bursting into a fresh fit of laughter. "Why, it would take all the
wings in the town to lift her off her feet. No, no; do not be afraid;
Miss Ella will not fly."

"Could not I go with the other little angels?" sobbed Violet.

"Ah, no, no, my treasure; that would be impossible. Thou canst not
walk, and it is a long way to the station."

"But if I had wings."

"Yes, yes, of course, if thou hadst wings that would be another thing;
then thou couldst fly wherever thou hadst a wish," said Evelina
soothingly, for the pleading eyes so full of their sorrow pained her.

"And the doctor said, soon, very soon, Violet would have them; and
perhaps God would give Violet wings that very day, and then she could
go with all the other angels. Is it not so, Evelina?"

"Yes, yes; of course, when the Lord Jesus gives Violet wings then she
can go where she likes."

"I will ask him, yes, I will ask him," said Violet softly; and through
her tears there broke a sweet struggling smile as she lifted her eyes
to the sky above the shadowy hill and held communion with her God.



CHAPTER XXIII.

GREAT PREPARATIONS.


The morning of the procession had come--such a glorious
morning!--bright sunshine, blue sky, and a soft breeze blowing down
from the hill. At an early hour the whole town was astir. Every one was
anxious to join in or to see this procession; for the brave general for
whose home-coming it was planned was the favourite of the town, and all
were anxious to do him honour.

It seemed to them only a few days ago that they had seen his sturdy
figure walking down the shady alley accompanied by his sons, fine
fair-haired young fellows, who had since then fallen wounded to death
in the dreadful battle of Sedan.

Those whose work could be got over in the early morning rose with the
sun, so as to leave the afternoon free to do honour to their general.
The washerwomen at the river's edge were battering their linen on the
stones from early dawn, while the usually sulky river crept in to-day
bright with little rivulets of gold; and the walls of the gray old
castle were gay with flags, whose shining spear-heads caught the first
rays of the rising sun.

In the streets the pigeons were already pecking happily, for the noisy
tread of the early risers had disturbed them; and beneath the windows
of Violet's house a whole cluster were collected, Madam Adler having
already risen and thrown out to them a large sieveful of corn which she
had brought from the bakery for the purpose.

She looked up at Violet's window before she turned to re-enter the
shop, and sighed heavily. She had been, in the evening before, to
see her little darling, and to show her Ella dressed in her angel's
garments,--soft white raiment, and glistening wings. But the effect on
Violet had been so overpowering that Madam Adler had hurried Ella away,
and had herself been obliged to listen to a lecture from Evelina for
having so thoughtlessly broken in on the child's evening sleep and set
her heart beating with a distress too deep for words.

Madam Adler had made no reply to Evelina's reproaches, for her own
heart was too full of pain, to see the great change which had lately
come over the little wan face; and when she saw the sudden lustre
which burned in Violet's eyes at the first sight of Ella with the
white dress and the shining wings, and then listened to the passionate
sobbing which followed, she had gone back to her own house overwhelmed
with grief at the result of her visit, and she longed for the day
of the procession to be over, that the subject might pass away from
Violet's mind, and Ella's wings be folded up and put away.

Ella, upstairs in her room, was awake also this morning at an unusually
early hour. She could not rest, with the joyous expectation of being
an angel and walking in the great procession; and ever so many times
she had risen and gone over and touched with her soft, fat fingers the
wings so beautifully tipped with silver and shining with stars, and
which lay upon the table in the middle of the room: but every time she
looked at them a sorrowful remembrance came over her of Violet's face
and her bitter tears; and at last the little girl walked back to her
bedside, and kneeling down said softly,--

"Oh, thou good Lord Jesus, be very kind to poor Violet in the house
opposite, and give her wings too, like Ella!"

She looked up very steadily at the ceiling as she said these words. Her
wide-open eyes seemed to see far up above the roof and the chimneys and
the storks. The soft yellow hair was straggling out in long loops and
curls from under her linen night-cap, her elbows rested on the bed,
and her dimpled fingers were clasped. Was she, after all, so unlike
an angel, this "fat Miss Ella," at whose appearance Evelina could not
restrain her laughter?

When Ella had finished her little prayer, and was just saying "Amen" in
a rather loud voice, the door opened and Fritz walked in.

"What art thou doing, Ella?" he said rather curiously. "Out of bed
already, at this early hour, and saying thy prayers! Dost thou think
thou art an angel already?"

Ella blushed crimson as she stood up, and she shuffled her little pink
feet over each other uneasily on the carpet.

"It was only about Violet," she said nervously, and her eyes travelled
back again to the wings shining so softly on the dark oil-cloth cover
of the table.

"So thou hast been thinking of her too," said Fritz, drawing a deep
breath. "I have thought of nothing else all night, and that is why I
too am up so early, and dressed, as thou seest, for going out."

Ella had noticed that Fritz had his cap in his hand, and she had
wondered at it.

"Well, well?" she asked open-mouthed.

"Well, I am going off to the police barrack to try and see Violet's
friend. Mother told me last night that she heard the procession was not
to pass through our street at all, but was to turn up by the cathedral
and across the market square to the station; and then poor Violet
could not see it at all, or hear any of the music. Mother says she is
glad, but I am not a bit; for look at this, Ella." Fritz drew from his
trowsers pocket a little crumpled scrap of paper and spread it out upon
the palm of his hand. "She dropped this out of the window to me last
night;--and I know this one thing." Fritz spoke in a curious, husky
voice, and turned away his face.

"What thing, Fritz?"

"Violet will never send me any more notes. Look at this;--I was half an
hour before I could make it out."

There was a large V, and then a lot of trembling up-and-down strokes
without any pretence at printing, only there was a dot over one
stroke, and a letter something like a "t" at the end; then came the
word "wants," pretty fairly readable; then another trembling set of
meaningless lines, and the word "angels;" and again a word which Fritz
after much trouble had made out to be "sing."

"Violet wants to hear the angels sing;" that was her message.

"And I am going straight now to the barracks, and I shall show this to
our policeman, and he shall go to the general's wife, and they shall
arrange together that the procession _is_ to go through this street. I
have settled it all in the night when I was lying awake."

"Perhaps the general's wife will not do it."

"Perhaps she will, thou little ass," replied Fritz curtly, as he banged
the door after him and went out.

"Ah, if I could give Violet my wings," said Ella softly, as, once more
returning to the table, she touched the silver pinions which lay spread
out upon it shiningly; "but the good Lord Jesus is much much kinder
than Ella, and perhaps he will lend her some wings just for this one
day."

Ella went over to the casement and looked across and down at the closed
shutters of Violet's window. She was singing softly to herself the
words of the angels' song, which her mother had with much care been
teaching to her for the last few days,--


     "Angels, sing on, your faithful watches keeping,
       Sing us sweet fragments of the songs above,
     Till morning's joy shall end the night of weeping,
       And life's long shadows break in endless love."


Ella had the sweetest childish voice that one could hear anywhere:
yes, it was for this reason she had been chosen to form one of the
angel-choir, and now as she came to the end of her verse, she sang out
the chorus loud and clearly,--


     "Angels of Jesus,
       Angels of light,
     Singing to welcome
       The pilgrims of night."


Ella did not quite understand what the words of the hymn meant, though
her mother had given many long minutes to their explanation. She only
knew they were about the good Lord Jesus, and she felt that they were
words Violet would love to hear; so she sang them loud enough and clear
enough for the sound to reach her ears were she awake.

But there was no stir in the oriel window except a burst of song
from the canary opposite, behind whose cage the curtains of Violet's
casement had been loosely folded; but the blind in the room next to
hers was at this moment quickly drawn up, and Ella saw Evelina look
out hurriedly into the street, and then withdraw as quickly behind the
table. She was up early, too, and dressed already in a pretty white
and blue muslin dress, which she was evidently trying on before the
looking-glass, for Ella saw her take up some blue bows from the table
and pin them on her dress, arranging them first in one place and then
in another until she was satisfied with their effect.

Ella wondered that Evelina should be so smartly dressed at so early an
hour; but she wondered still more when she saw her turn back a moment
from the window and then reappear with a large Leghorn hat in her hand,
covered with some pale blue flowers, and lined with a pretty light blue
satin, the same colour as the ribbon bows upon her dress.

She turned it backwards and forwards for a few moments, picking up the
blue flowers with her fingers, just here and there where they stuck
too closely to the straw; and she bent the broad flap a little to one
side, and pinned it up with much care; and then she placed it on her
head, smiling a little and moving to and fro in front of the mirror.
All at once she turned and walked away. Ella saw her hurriedly snap off
the hat and throw it on the bed, and then move forward as if towards
Violet's room. Ella watched for her to come back; but at last growing
tired of waiting she lay down on her little bed, and, still humming the
angels' chorus, she fell into a light sleep.

Before, however, she had quite wandered off into the land of dreams the
door of her room opened again, and Fritz came in with flushed face and
excited manner.

"It is all of no use," he cried, flinging his cap down at the foot of
the bed. "I have seen the policeman, and he says it is no good for him
to ask."

"And he will not even try?" asked Ella, opening her sleepy eyes.

"Oh yes, he will try. He has gone off now to see the colonel; but he
knows it is all no use." Fritz sat down on the side of Ella's little
cot, and suddenly burst out crying.

"I wish I had never told her anything about it," he said sobbing.

"Why, dear Fritz?" and Ella threw her fat arms round her brother's neck.

"That old cat Evelina told the policeman that since I had told Violet
about the angels she has had no sleep and can eat nothing, and that in
a few days she will be quite dead."

"Quite dead," echoed Ella mournfully; "and poor Fritz will never see
her nor speak to her any more."

"Hush, Ella," cried Fritz, springing up from the bed angrily; "Fritz
will see her again. Fritz will speak to Violet again. He will go this
instant and ask the Lord Jesus this very day to make her quite well, to
take all the sickness away from her; and the Lord Jesus must listen to
Fritz this time, for he will go out on the very top of the house and
call ever so loud, so loud that he must hear him." And Fritz, his face
all quivering with the anguish of the moment, started up and rushed
wildly out of the room; and Ella heard his feet ascending the little
wooden ladder that led out among the nasturtiums and the red geraniums
on to the red-tiled roof above.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A GRIEVOUS DISAPPOINTMENT.


It was still quite early when Evelina drew back the curtains in the
oriel window and let in the rosy morning light.

A few moments before, Violet had startled her by a cry of joy, so keen
and unmistakable that she had hurried from the inner room in her white
muslin dress to the child's bedside, only to find her face pressed in
against the pillow, around which her arms were tightly pressed.

"What is it? why didst thou call so?" she cried curiously as she
stooped over the bed.

"O Evelina, the angels were singing to me!" said Violet, lifting up a
face still wreathed in the happiest smiles. "Didst thou not hear them,
Evelina? I knew the very words they said. And father, dear father, he
was there with them in the meadow beside the hill; and he stretched out
his hands to me and cried out so loud, 'To meet again,' that I screamed
out with joy."

"Ah, that was indeed a lovely dream," said Evelina, stooping over the
bed and kissing the little face still lighted up with the straggling
beams of heavenly glory. "Go to sleep, dearest one, and perhaps thou
mayest dream of the angels again."

"And dost thou know, Evelina, in that meadow beside the hill, where the
flowers grow, my feet never touch the ground--never."

"Hush, little heart! go to sleep," she replied softly.

"And thou, Evelina, wilt thou not be an angel too? for thou art dressed
in white, and thou art so lovely and so kind," said the little voice
from among its pillows.

Evelina made no answer; her cheeks burned with a vivid red, and her
heart gave loud throbs as she bent over the child and kissed her again
passionately; then she turned and went back into the room. But her eyes
were full of tears, and for many minutes afterwards she was restless
and miserable, until at length she took off the white dress and laid it
aside on the top of her trunk; and the hat with the blue forget-me-nots
she hastily covered over with a handkerchief, and hid it away in the
press.

"What is the boy doing up there?" she said suddenly as she looked up at
the red tiles of the house opposite. "Why, he is saying his prayers on
the roof! Was ever anything so funny?"

When Violet did awake later on, she seemed to have forgotten all about
her dream; she sighed heavily, and there were bright red spots on
her cheeks. She watched all Evelina's movements with a kind of dull
curiosity, but for a long time she made no effort to speak. At last
she said, with a weak and somewhat complaining voice, "Evelina, why
art thou making the room ready so early? That brush knocks so loudly
against the chairs, and Violet's head is aching."

"I am up early because the whole town is up early," replied Evelina
somewhat shortly; "and a room cannot be cleaned properly without
brushing it."

"And why is the whole town up early--why, Evelina?"

"Why? of course thou knowest that this is the day of the grand
procession, and one cannot be both inside of the house doing one's work
and outside of it at the same time enjoying oneself."

"And art thou going out to see the angels?" asked Violet, fixing her
eyes sorrowfully on the face of Evelina.

"That depends--I am not certain."

"But thou wouldst like it, wouldst thou not?"

"Yes, yes, of course."

"And will it be a long way off, down a far, far street?"

"No, no, quite close. They are to turn off at the fountain and go up by
the cathedral."

"Then Violet will perhaps hear them singing," cried the child, raising
herself on her elbow, and flushing all over a lovely carmine colour. "I
have often heard the women singing at the fountain in the evening."

"Yes, I daresay."

"Ah, how Violet would love to stand, like other little children in the
street, and see the beautiful angels with their wings." A deep, longing
sigh followed this remark.

Evelina made no reply, and Violet still followed her movements
wistfully with her eyes, till at last they fell upon the little
carriage, which she was at this moment dusting, and which she presently
pushed somewhat further back into the corner.

"Just as far as the fountain," pleaded Violet with quivering lips.

"No, no, it is impossible; for the greatest crowd of all will be just
there. They are all to gather at the fountain, which is to be decked
out with flowers; and the first chorus is to be sung beside it. To
drag a carriage through such a multitude of people would be out of the
question."

"But in thine arms, Evelina; couldst thou not take me such a little way
in thine arms?"

"In my arms, dear love? who ever heard of such a thing?"

"Yes, yes, only to the fountain, to see the angels and to hear them
sing."

"Thou askest me that which thou knowest well I cannot do," replied
Evelina almost angrily. "The doctor would not hear of my taking thee
out of thy bed to carry thee in my arms among such a lot of people. And
besides, thou wouldst not like it thyself: other children would stare
at thee, and say things, perhaps, which would hurt thee."

"What would they say, Evelina?"

"Ah, cruel things: children do not stop to pick their words."

"But what would they say?" pleaded Violet, her eyes opening wide and
her cheeks flushing.

"They would, perhaps, point their fingers at thee and call thee names.
Ah, I have heard such things often in the street. There are wicked
children as well as good. I have seen them even throwing stones after
little sick children."

"Yes," cried Violet, sitting up straight, and her eyes deepening to
the purple shade which always came with some great mental excitement;
"and thou rememberest, Evelina, how one wicked boy threw a great
heavy stone at a poor hunchback; and how God was watching, and when
they would have thrown another the Lord Jesus laid his hand on the
hunchback's shoulders, and out of them came two beautiful shining
wings, and he flew straight up to heaven. Thou rememberest all this,
Evelina?"

"Oh yes, I daresay," replied Evelina, who was down on her knees
polishing the stove.

"But thou didst tell that very story to me."

"Well, and what then?"

"Then Violet is not afraid to go out in the streets; for the good Lord
Jesus loves Violet very, very much, and if anything came to hurt her
he would just give her wings, and she would fly away straight up to
heaven."

For a moment Evelina's heart relented, as she looked up from the stove
at those earnest eyes full of such a beseeching entreaty.

"Well, well, we can see when the time comes," she said quickly. "Lie
down now, and don't talk about it any more. When I have done my work
I will go and see the doctor and ask him; and if he says 'Yes,' why,
then, we must arrange it somehow."

"Ah, thou best Evelina, how good thou art!" cried Violet, stretching
out her arms gratefully. But Evelina was perhaps too busy to notice
the action. At any rate, she continued polishing the stove; and Violet,
with eyes still darkly dilated with the wonder of some great but as yet
unrealized joy, lay back upon her pillow, only saying to herself in a
whisper, "Violet will see the angels and will hear them sing."

At eleven o'clock Evelina went out. She was some time away, and
Violet watched with a beating heart for her return. At last she heard
footsteps on the stairs; but Evelina, instead of entering the kitchen,
went into her own room and shut the door.

Violet waited for a few minutes, and then called to her; but she
received no answer. Evelina was walking hurriedly about the inside
room, and did not hear her calling.

At last the door opened, and Evelina came in. She had on a white dress
now--a white muslin dress, dotted over with pale-blue spots; and on her
bosom there was fastened a bunch of forget-me-nots, and on the front of
the dress there were also pale-blue bows the same colour as the flowers.

She looked so young and fresh, with her golden hair and her pretty
smiling face, covered just now with a crimson blush, that Violet cried
out involuntarily,--

"Oh how beautiful! how lovely! Hast thou seen the doctor?"

But Evelina only said hastily, as she looked at the bed, "How stupid of
me! I have forgotten to dress the child."

"Then thou _wilt_ take me? O dearest Evelina, thou art too good to
Violet."

Evelina looked now really distressed. She came over and took the
child's hot hands in hers, and sat down on the edge of the bed.

"I have not seen the doctor," she said in a quick, nervous voice. "He
was out, and had left no word where he was gone. I durst not take thee
out on such a day without his leave. Although the sun is hot, there
is a keen east wind blowing; so I will just run down to the fountain
and have one look at the procession, and then come back to thee. I
shall not be five minutes away, and thou shalt hear all about it
when I return, and how Miss Ella looked, and how she sang; and then
we shall have, oh such a feast when Evelina comes home--peaches and
grapes which are in the next room waiting for us to eat them, and a
cake covered with sugar, and a bunch of violets fastened on the top.
And we shall have such fun; shall we not, thou little heart's love? And
now Evelina will dress thee in thy little purple frock; and Miss Ella
shall come back, wings and all, and have a share in our supper and our
good things. And now thou wilt not be an ungrateful little girl, when
Evelina has done all this for thee? Ah, for shame! dry thine eyes, and
let us have no more tears."

Violet drew her hand quickly out of Evelina's, and wiped away the
tears which were flowing fast down her poor pale face; for was it not
ungrateful and unkind of her to weep and fret when Evelina had been so
good, and had bought for her such lovely things as grapes and peaches?

Evelina tied an apron over her new dress and began to comb out Violet's
yellow locks. They did not glisten now so brightly as they used to
do, for long sickness had dimmed their golden colour; but still, when
tied up with the dark purple knot, they hung prettily enough over the
cashmere dress, into the neck and sleeves of which Evelina had sewn
clean, soft, white frills.

"There now! thou art quite lovely, quite charming!" cried Evelina,
gazing at the little girl, whose lips still quivered with a suppressed
excitement. "And see here! I will give thee some of my forget-me-nots,
and thou shalt fasten them, so, on front of thy dress; and there will
not be an angel in all the procession so fair as thee. Eh, little
heart's darling, what sayest thou?"

Violet did not answer; she only lifted her eyes to Evelina's face, as
if she wished to speak and could not.

"What is it? Is there anything more I can do for thee? for it is now on
the stroke of twelve, and if I do not start at once I shall be late."

"Please, please, Evelina, take Violet in thine arms, only this
once--such a little way to the fountain, such a short, short
street--that Violet may see the angels and hear them sing."

"It is impossible," replied Evelina shortly, and growing very red.
"But as thou art so determined to cry and to make a fuss, I will stay
at home myself, and make an end of it all." And Evelina sat down on a
chair, and tears came into her eyes.

"No, no!" cried Violet passionately; "thou must go, Evelina. Violet
will cry no more. She will wait here quite quietly till thou comest
back. Yes, go now; please go, Evelina, ever so fast; and when thou hast
seen the beautiful angels at the fountain, thou wilt come back quickly
to Violet."

Evelina rose up with averted face, and said, somewhat sullenly, "Well,
as I am dressed, I suppose I may as well go; but after such a fuss and
crying one cannot enjoy oneself very much."

She pushed the door of her own room open as she said this, and, going
in, drew the bolt quickly across it. A minute or two later she opened
the other door at the side of the landing, and began to descend the
stairs.

"Evelina!" cried Violet after her piteously, "lift Violet first into
the window. Evelina! Evelina! thou hast forgotten to put Violet into
her chair!"

Evelina turned to answer the child's appeal; but suddenly remembering
something, she paused and raised her hand to her head. "I cannot
wait now to take it off, for it is all pinned to my hair," she said
peevishly. "In any case, I shall be back directly." And so, turning a
deaf ear to Violet's cries, she went down the stairs and out into the
street.



CHAPTER XXV.

WINGS AT LAST.


Violet waited and listened until the last sound of Evelina's footsteps
had died away, and then she fell into a sudden reverie. Her eyes
remained fixed on the rails at the foot of her bed, and she neither
moved nor spoke--only now and then a little shiver seemed to pass over
her, and she sighed heavily, and her eyebrows were contracted with pain.

A sudden sense of great loneliness had come over her, and with it a
swift remembrance of her dear mother, the mother who had been carried
out through that very door by which Evelina had that moment passed out,
and who had never returned to her any more. Ah, had she been here now,
she would have listened to her cries; she would have carried her in her
arms to the fountain. She would have lifted her up so tenderly, and
held her tightly, oh so tightly to her breast; and together they would
have listened to the angels singing.

And then again came the recollection of that dream, when the Lord Jesus
had met her in the meadow, and had shown her the little lamb which he
was carrying in his bosom--the little lamb with the white face, so like
Violet. And she remembered the sound of his voice, as he said to her so
softly, "See, she has fallen asleep, and I am going to lay her in her
mother's arms."

Ah, if Violet could fall asleep like that poor tired lamb, and awake
in the arms of her dear mother, whose face she had not seen for so
long--oh so long, yes, long, long ago! Again that thrilling shiver
passed over her, and the little face grew pale.

"Mother!" she cried--"mother! canst thou not hear me, mother? Mother!
mother!" It rose higher and higher now, the wail of a child's despair.

But, hark! what was that other sound without? Music--voices--a burst of
sudden song somewhere not far off. Violet ceased to cry, and listened
with large dilated eyes, from which the pain of the past moment had not
yet departed.

"The angels! the angels! I hear them singing!" she cried, starting up
in an ecstasy of delight. "They are singing at the fountain; I can hear
them. And Ella is with them, and she has wings. Ah, if some one could
lift me gently and put me in my chair at the window!--Kate, Kate, come
to Violet; come quickly."

She had not long to wait for an answer to her call, for as she cried
aloud for Kate, the old servant pushed open the door, and walked in.
She had not come, however, at Violet's summons. She held a red-coloured
envelope in her hand, and she looked round the room anxiously and
somewhat angrily.

"So; it is just as I thought. That little conceited minx has gone out,
and left the child all alone. I just caught a sight of the hat as she
whirled by the window, and I knew well where it came from."

"Kate, Kate, listen to the angels. They are singing at the fountain. If
thou speakest so loud, I cannot hear them."

"Ay, ay; I hear them well enough. But who is to open this telegram and
tell us what is in it?"

"Ah, Kate, do not mind what is in it. Lift me in thy arms, dear Kate,
and put me in my chair by the window."

"Well, have patience a moment, and I will see if I can make out the
words. I am a regular blockhead at reading; but the messenger is
waiting at the door to see if there is any answer, and that silly girl
may not be back for an hour."

Kate turned a little aside, as she tore open the envelope, and looked
back a moment at Violet with an evident nervousness of manner.

"Ah, God be thanked! it is no bad news. It is from the good lady at
Gützberg. She will be here this afternoon."

But Violet did not hear one word Kate said. A great hope was rising
in her bosom. The sound of the angels' voices was drawing nearer
and nearer, and she could now almost catch the very words they were
singing. It was growing clear to her that the procession must be
advancing up the street.

"Kate, Kate, where art thou going?" she cried suddenly, as the old
servant moved towards the door. "Wilt thou not carry Violet across to
her chair?"

"Yes, yes, in a moment. I am only going to the street door, and I shall
be back immediately."

By the time she returned to the room Violet's cheeks were burning with
excitement, and there was a look in her eyes which almost frightened
the old servant.

"Lift me to the window!" she cried, almost passionately. "The angels
are coming! they have wings! I must see them! they are coming up the
street!"

Kate held out her arms quickly to the child; but her heart sank as
she noticed the crimson cheeks, and the eyes which looked at her and
yet did not seem to see her, so full were they of some deep and
overpowering excitement.

"Quick, quick! they are in the street!" she repeated feverishly.

"Ay, ay, they are in the street, that is true enough; but have
patience, dear heart. There is time enough yet. They are not so near as
thou thinkest."

Still Violet repeated the same words furiously--"Quick, quick! they are
in the street! they are in the street!"--until Kate had taken her in
her arms and carried her into the window.

"Do not put me in the chair; put me on the seat in the middle of the
window," she cried eagerly, as Kate would have deposited her in her
usual place. "Violet can see so much better all up and down the street,
and thou canst put thy arms round me, and hold me so tightly;--is it
not so, Kate?" She turned round quickly, and put her burning lips
against the old woman's cheek: "The good Lord Jesus holds the sick
lambs ever so closely in his arms; and I am one of his lambs, for I saw
its face--oh so white!--and it was Violet's."

"Dear heart, she is crazed!" muttered Kate to herself.--"There now; sit
down on the seat, and I will hold thee tightly, I warrant."

"The angels! I see them! they are dressed in white! They are coming
nearer and nearer! Kate, canst thou not see them too?"

Violet clutched at the wooden box full of sweet violets, which stood on
the window-sill outside, and drew herself forward with a sudden access
of strength. The box, which was bound by many a cobweb to the mullioned
stone, moved one inch or so, and rocked ominously. Two white pigeons,
which were preening their feathers on the ledge just beside it, flew
away frightened, and perched on the roof opposite.

"Kate, Kate, I see Ella! She is waving her hand to me; there is a crown
in it. Dost thou not see?--a crown of gold. She is holding it out to
me."

"Ay, ay; I see Miss Ella. How fat she looks; and cold too, poor child!
her arms look quite blue in her thin white dress."

"Ah, she looks beautiful--the angels of God are all beautiful. They fly
about in heaven and have no pain, Kate. And look at Ella's wings how
they shine. Stand up straight, Kate, and thou wilt see better."

[Illustration: The Procession. _Page 275_.]

Kate leaned a little forward over the child's head and looked out.
"Yes, yes; one would almost think that they were real. But here is
another messenger coming to the door with a telegram, and there is no
one downstairs to take it from him."

"Thou canst go down," cried Violet eagerly. "I am quite safe here in
the window, and quite, quite comfortable."

"Thou art sure, dear heart?"

"Yes; I can hold on by the box until thou comest back."

Here all at once the children's voices burst forth in the street
beneath, and in a delicious harmony took up the melodious hymn,--


     "Angels of Jesus,
       Angels of light,
     Singing to welcome
       The pilgrims of night."


Ella's clear treble rose up high, high into the air, and seemed to
enter in at the very window.

Violet, clutching unconsciously at the box in front of her, drew
herself more forward, till at length she was leaning over the
sweet-scented leaves, and could see well down into the street beneath.

There was a hush now among the crowd, for all the people gathered in
the space below, listening entranced to the sweet childish treble as it
rose higher and higher in its anxiety that the song should reach the
ear of one the child loved. But all at once the song ceased, and a cry
came from her parted lips--"See, see! look up! Violet is at the window,
and she will fall."

The white-robed procession paused for a moment at the shrill scream
of the child, and all heads were turned up to see what was the cause
of her anguish, while at the same moment a woman's voice, uplifted
in sudden terror, cried passionately from amongst them, "Violet! ah,
wicked child; go back. What art thou doing?"

But Violet did not see the upturned faces, nor hear Evelina's cry of
terror-struck reproach. She was alike unconscious of rebuke or fear,
for in the street beneath her were gathered a glorious company of
angels. Their raiment, white and glistening, dazzled her aching eyes;
their crowns of gold seemed all on fire; while the voices of a great
multitude rang in her ears in sweet, melodious invitation,--


     "Come, weary soul;
     Jesus bids thee come."


To Violet it was no longer the hot and dusty streets of Edelsheim
on which she gazed. She did not see the rocking crowd or the terror
imprinted now on every upturned face. No; those who caught a glimpse of
her at this moment knew that she saw none of them--that some heavenly
vision held her inthralled and amazed. Her lips were white; her eyes
burned; she spoke, yet no one heard, till all at once she stretched out
her arms with a cry of surpassing ecstasy, and exclaimed, "Mother,
dear mother, see! look up! here is Violet."

Then all the people knew what was coming, for the child as she uttered
the last words had fallen forward upon the box. It was hopeless to
think that Evelina with all her efforts could reach the room in time.
The wooden box had turned over on its side, and the loosened clay and
the fragrant flowers rattling over their heads and faces gave them
timely warning to retreat.

The crowd surged to each side; the angels, who had ceased their
singing, recoiled with a terrified rapidity to the farther side of
the street. Only one person, with a courageous presence of mind
and a fearless love, rushed from amongst them to stay the terrible
catastrophe.

But was it, after all, so terrible that the women should faint, and
the angels hide their faces in their hands? Only a flutter of a purple
frock, a glimpse of golden hair, preceded by a sudden crash as the box
of violets fell splintered on the pavement beneath. Then all looked
upwards with a scream. But Violet was in the arms of the old policeman,
and the shining yellow locks were hanging loosely over his shoulder.

A crowd gathered round him quickly, and the people pressed upon him,
while some of the little angels in their silver shoes stood on tiptoe
that they might, perchance, catch one glimpse of that white, white face.

Yes, it was white and still, and sad enough to look upon.

"Keep back," cried the policeman sternly, "and let the child have room
to breathe."

"She will never breathe again," said the voice of a woman by his side;
"the child is stone dead; we can see that for ourselves." It was Madam
Adler who spoke, and she held Fritz by the hand, whose face was gray
and rigid with fear and horror.

"Keep back, I say; she is not dead. For pity's sake let the child have
air!"

There was a slight retrograde movement and then a general start of
wonder. Violet had opened her eyes!

For a second, hope rose in every breast; for a smile glimmered and
flickered over the poor pale face, and the lips moved. She lifted the
drooping arm which had hung so listlessly by her side, and laid it for
a moment upon the faithful breast of the old policeman. "My friend,"
she said softly, and looked up into his eyes with a gaze which was
terrible in its steadfastness of love; then the eyelids closed quietly
again, and the smile died out.

A hush fell on all the people. Surely this was death.

But there was still a breath, and the little purple frock heaved
slowly, and the frill of the white pinafore quivered with a thrilling
motion.

All at once she moved, turned her head quickly towards the street, and
strove to raise herself in the arms of her friend.

"Fritz, Fritz!" she cried eagerly, in a strange uplifted voice full of
a strong appeal.

"Yes, here is Fritz; what is it, dear Violet?"

"Fritz is here," he replied faintly, lifting up an ashen face towards
hers.

But Violet's eyes were wide open now, and full of a wonderful joy.
They travelled straight up over the housetops and the golden crown of
the hill towards the bright blue sky, as if following some vision of
delight.

"Fritz!"--it was now a cry of triumph--"it is all quite true. See! look
up yonder, high, high up. Ah, seest thou not now Violet has wings?"

All the people with a common consent looked upward as she spoke; but
there was nothing there to see but God's blue heaven and a speck of
golden cloud sailing slowly past across the mountain top.

When they turned back again they knew then that the child was dead;
for the eyes, full still of that strange purple wonder, were immovably
fixed upon the far off heavens, and the awe and majesty of death were
creeping into them as the light of life died out.

"Free at last," said the policeman, lifting up his face with a strange
grim smile towards the distant sky. "She has escaped like a bird from
its cage, and is gone up yonder."

There was nothing more to wait for now. The policeman turned towards
the door of Violet's house and carried her away from their eyes. The
procession, re-forming, moved mournfully onwards. Some women in the
street snatched up bunches of the violets which lay scattered about
over the road, and thrust them into their bosoms.

But Madam Adler, Fritz, and little Ella in her silver shoes and shining
wings, remained behind, and they and many others followed the old
policeman and his burden up the stairs; and Madam Adler, pushing her
way on in front, opened the door of the kitchen to allow him to pass
in. But there on the threshold they were met by Kate, behind whom stood
the form of Evelina rigid with horror and dismay.

"Is it all over?" cried the old woman distractedly--"is the child
dead?--tell me now at once, is our Violet dead?"

"Yes, quite dead."

"Thou art certain?"

"Yes, quite certain."

"Then God be praised for all his mercies. She will never know this
new trouble which has fallen upon us. Her father is gone also." She
held out her hand vaguely towards them all with an open telegraph form
crumpled up in her fingers. Madam Adler snatched it from her and read
the words, "John was killed this morning in repulsing with his company
a sortie of the enemy from the town of Metz."



CHAPTER XXVI.

"NO MORE TEARS."


No more tears for little Violet. Yes, that was the joy which almost
stilled their sorrow. How could they weep as they looked at that smile
of perfect peace--that wonderful smile, fixed now in death, which had
lightened up all her face as she cried out to Fritz with her parting
breath, "Fritz, see!--it is all true--Violet has wings"?

Aunt Lizzie sat all day beside the little bed--yes, and all night too.
She was never tired looking at the sweet pale face, so restful in its
sleep; and though tears flowed constantly down her cheeks, her heart
was ever busy thanking God, who had so mercifully called home his
little suffering lamb before the last sad news had reached her of her
father's death.

She was with them now, that was enough for her to know, and for
evermore all would be peace. The little mother so long sighed for, the
father who had so tenderly shielded his darling from trouble, and had
watched over her in her loneliness--yes, they were all united now, and
she knew that Violet was beyond the reach of trouble. For her and for
them sorrow and sighing had fled away, and in their place had come the
everlasting rest and happiness of heaven. No wonder that Aunt Lizzie
rose up sometimes suddenly and kissed the sweet face with a passionate
thrill of joy, nay, almost of envy.

The neighbours streamed in all day long; indeed it seemed to Aunt
Lizzie that the whole town of Edelsheim came to see the little face
lying in such a sweet stillness on the pillow.

Beautiful white flowers were laid upon the counterpane, and the air
of the room was almost oppressive with the scent of the violets which
were brought as a last offering, as a last tribute of love to their own
Violet, the sweet flower of Edelsheim, whose face had ever looked out
upon them from the many-sided window overhanging the street, with the
patient smile so familiar to their eyes.

In the evening, when all the rest were gone, Fritz stole in, leading
Ella by the hand. Kate had just placed the lamp on the table, and Aunt
Lizzie had risen up to draw the curtains; but he looked at neither of
them, only walked over straight to the bedside, and stood there gazing
at his little companion's face with an intense and speechless sorrow.
But with Ella it was different. She gave one glance at the figure so
unfamiliar in its stillness, and then fled with a cry to Aunt Lizzie,
burying her face in her dress and sobbing violently.

Aunt Lizzie drew the little girl into the inner room to comfort her;
Kate hobbled down the stairs sobbing as she went; and Fritz was left
alone, still standing gazing with a bursting heart at the smile which
was not for him.

For a moment he lifted his eyes and looked round the room nervously,
and then he stooped and kissed her forehead. "Violet," he said softly,
and waited, childlike, for an answer; but the lips did not move in
response, only to his eyes, dazzled as they were with resisted tears,
the smile seemed to widen at his call.

"Violet, hist! Fritz knows now that thou hast wings. Violet, Fritz
loves thee; and, listen, Violet, Fritz will always, always remember
thee; and he will always love God, too, and the good Lord Jesus."
Two immense tears fell upon Violet's face; and then Fritz, drawing
nearer, knelt down by the side of the little bed and covered his face
reverently with his hands.

When Aunt Lizzie returned to the room Fritz was gone, but the tears
which the boy had shed still glimmered faintly on the quiet face.

That evening, too, the old policeman came to take his last look. He
stood with uncovered head by the bedside, and uttered not a word. The
face seemed to have a strange attraction for him, for he gazed at it
without moving for many minutes. He, too, kissed his little friend ere
he walked away, and laid in the cold clasped hands a bunch of blue
forget-me-nots. But at the door he paused, and looking at Aunt Lizzie
he asked, with an eye which for the moment burned with a suppressed
anger, "Where is the girl?"

"Dost thou mean Evelina?"

"Yes, certainly."

"Ah, she has returned to Gützberg; she left here the very evening of
the accident. She feared, I think, to meet the face of any one who knew
and loved our darling."

"Ah, she did well," he said bitterly. "God, who forgives all sin, may
pardon her. He can be merciful as well as just. But we of Edelsheim,
never!"


The next morning the carriage, made with such care by poor faithful
John, was lifted out from its corner in the room and carried down into
the street; and there they laid upon it the little white coffin which
held the body of Violet.

The descent to the little church-yard near the fountain was densely
packed with mourners, and with difficulty the old policeman, assisted
by Fritz, drew it through the weeping crowd. Behind it walked a company
of children dressed in the same white robes with the same white wings
which they had worn on the day of the procession; and now, as the
little carriage moved on, their lips opened, and there burst forth the
same song of the angels welcoming the weary soul to heaven which had
startled Violet from her reverie only a few short days before and had
called her from her loneliness and her fear to everlasting life.

Thus her wish was fulfilled, that her first drive in the carriage made
for her by her father should be to the place where her mother had been
buried; and there they laid down the poor tired lamb at last, to sleep
on its mother's breast. The people, gathered round the grave, sobbed
and wept; the angels lifted up their voices with the same sweet but
mournful cry; the policeman folded his arms on his breast, grim and
stern, while his sword clinked against the gravel. But it was left for
Fritz to know the whole grand truth. Standing there unconscious of all
and everything around him, with eyes uplifted to heaven he saw her as
she was.

White-winged, rejoicing, exulting in her new-found strength, poised in
the air above his head, radiant in robes of dazzling whiteness, he saw
again that small white face break into a smile of rapture; and he heard
a voice say, "Fritz, 'no more tears;' Violet has wings." And then some
one cried out, "Look at the boy! he is white as death, he is fainting;"
and so they lifted him into the church and laid him on the ground, and
Aunt Lizzie placed his head upon her knee.

And by-and-by the crowd dispersed, and those who lingered laid wreaths
upon the grave; and some knelt down and kissed the earth above their
little Violet's sleeping-place.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is now many a long year since little Violet escaped out of her
cage and mounted up like a bird to heaven, and yet she is remembered
as lovingly as ever by the people of Edelsheim. If you turn aside
into the little church-yard at the foot of the hill, you will see the
monument that they have erected with much love and care to her memory.
And perhaps you may meet there a woman who comes often to weep at
her grave and to pray, but from whom the townspeople still turn away
with aversion. She is never tired looking at the white face carved so
faithfully and beautifully in marble, nor at the outstretched pinions
which, spreading across the arms of the cross, support the cherub's
head.

There is no epitaph to tell of their darling's pure life, nor of her
sad death; only three words, and yet they embrace all--"Violet has
wings."

It was Fritz who chose them. But to comfort the hearts of all those in
Edelsheim who had loved her so well, the sculptor added at the base
of the monument a bunch of fading violets, and beneath them he carved
these words of hope and consolation--"Auf wiedersehen" (To meet again).





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On Angel's Wings" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home