Infomotions, Inc.Gritli's Children / Spyri, Johanna, 1827-1901



Author: Spyri, Johanna, 1827-1901
Title: Gritli's Children
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): elsli; fani; stanhope; emma; feklitus; oscar; clarissa; nora; fred; aunty; stein; aunt clarissa; aunt
Contributor(s): Brooks, Louise [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 61,683 words (short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 69 (easy)
Identifier: etext15727
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Title: Gritli's Children


Author: Johanna Spyri

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GRITLI'S CHILDREN

by

JOHANNA SPYRI
Author of "Heidi" & "Cornelli"

Translated by LOUISE BROOKS

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers New York







[Illustration: Gritli's Children]




CONTENTS

VOLUME I

CHAPTER

      I. AT THE COUNTRY-HOUSE ON THE RHINE

     II. IN THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE AT BUCHBERG

    III. IN THE VILLAGE AND IN THE SCHOOL

     IV. FARTHER PROCEEDINGS AT BUCHBERG

      V. ON OAK-RIDGE

     VI. AUNTY IS IN DEMAND AGAIN

    VII. WHAT OSCAR FOUNDED AND WHAT EMMA PLANNED

   VIII. AT SUNSET

     IX. A LAST JOURNEY AND A FIRST


VOLUME II

      I. THE NEW HOME

     II. A JOURNEY

    III. ON THE BEAUTIFUL RHINE

     IV. IN THE FISHERMAN'S HUT

      V. GREAT PREPARATIONS

     VI. ANXIETY AT ROSEMOUNT

    VII. AN UNEXPECTED TERMINATION

   VIII. THE HAPPY END




VOLUME ONE


CHAPTER I.

AT THE COUNTRY-HOUSE ON THE RHINE.


The golden sunshine of a glorious June morning flooded the roses of the
beautiful garden that surrounded a handsome stone villa on the banks of
the Rhine. A thousand sweet perfumes borne upon the gentle breeze
mounted like incense to the open windows, and sought entrance there.
From a great basin in the middle of the garden, a slender shaft of water
rose straight up into the blue sky, and then fell plashing back,
sprinkling the flowers and the grass with sparkling moisture. Gay
butterflies fluttered hither and thither, sipping sweets from the
honey-laden flowers. Under the trees stood marble statues gleaming white
through the shadows; and seats in sheltered nooks invited the loiterer
to rest and listen to the concert of the myriad birds that made their
happy homes in this paradise of summer beauty.

At the closed window of one of the upper rooms of this delightful house
sat a little maiden, pressing her pale face against the wide, clear
glass, as she peered out with longing eyes over the roses, toward the
wavering fountain, and into the depths of the trees, whose graceful
branches stirred in the light breeze. Her gaze passed over the shining
flowers and the green terraces of the sunny garden, and rested far away
on the glistening waves of the fast-flowing Rhine, that ran past the
foot of the garden, bathing caressingly the long over-hanging branches
of the old linden trees as it passed along. The rich foliage of the
trees by the river-side was visible from the windows of the house; but
not the stone bench which stood in the cool shade, so close to the water
that one could look from it directly down into the eddying waves, and
watch the drooping branches dip and rise again and again, as if in pure
delight. What a spot for summer dreaming and castle-building! The pale
child at the window knew the place well; and as her eyes turned in that
direction, the expression of longing grew more and more painful as she
gazed.

"Oh, mamma!" she cried presently, with tears in her voice, "may I not go
out soon into the garden, and down to the seat under the lindens by the
river?"

An hour before, the mother had brought her suffering little girl into
this room, and placed her in her favorite resting-place in the
window-seat, and her anxious gaze had scarcely left the pale little
face, with its big eyes full of pain, that looked so longingly into the
beautiful garden, which the poor child could not enjoy in any other way.

"Dear child," she said now, in a voice which trembled with anxiety and
affection, "you know that you are too tired to go out in the morning;
but this afternoon, perhaps, we will go down to the river. Will not that
be better, my darling?"

"Oh, yes, I suppose so," sighed the child; but though she said no more,
she did not turn her eyes away from the blooming roses and the waving
leaves below her.

"Oh, it is so beautiful down there! Do let me go out, mamma!" she
exclaimed again a little while afterwards. "Do let me go!" and her
mother could not resist the beseeching tones. She arose, and at that
moment an elderly woman entered the room--a woman who looked so
exquisitely neat that one would have thought that she had no other
business in life than that of keeping in perfect order her gray hair,
with its snow-white cap, and her simple, spotless dress; but, on the
contrary, she was the house-keeper, and had the whole charge of the big
house, with all its complicated domestic arrangements. Both mother and
daughter exclaimed on seeing her, "Oh, Clarissa, how glad I am that
you've come!" And both began to ask her opinion as to the visit to the
garden, which the invalid so longed for, but which her mother hesitated
to grant.

Clarissa was a person of rare character, and a tower of strength in this
household, where, from the lady of the house down to the lowest servant,
her word was followed as law and obeyed with affection; and one took
into the clear depths of her honest, loving eyes explained the secret of
her power: they were "Mother's eyes."

"Say 'yes,' Clarissa, and let us go," begged the child, pathetically.

"The air is soft, all the birds are singing and calling us: why should
we not try it to-day, dear Mrs. Stanhope?" said Clarissa.

"Yes; if you think best, we will," answered the mother. And Frederic,
the tall footman, was summoned to carry the little girl down the long
staircase and out of the house. Then, once out-of-doors, the two women,
supporting the child tenderly between them, led her through the sunny
garden.

"Nora, are you happy now?" asked the mother, tenderly.

"Yes; it is beautiful here," replied the child; "but I should like to go
down to the stone bench by the river-side, where the branches dip into
the water."

So they went on over the green terraces to the water-side, down to the
seat almost hidden under the lindens, among the clusters of whose
pendent, sweet-smelling blossoms the bees were busy, mingling their deep
murmur with the song which the Rhine sang in passing. Nora's eyes
followed the dancing waves that seemed like living, happy sprites.

"Oh! how I wish that I could leap and dance so, mamma! away! away! but I
am so tired; I am always tired. I long to hop about as the birds do up
in the trees there, and sing and be merry; but I am always so tired."

"My darling, when you are stronger you will dance," replied her mother,
in a cheerful tone; but her looks belied her voice, for she was far from
feeling the confidence which she tried to give.

"The doctor is coming to-day, and we will ask him what we can do this
summer to make you stronger. Now we must go back to the house, Nora; you
look pale and ill, my child. Is anything more than usual the matter with
you?"

Nora assured her mother that she was only tired. After any unusual
exertion, her face always grew paler and her expression more suffering.
She reached the house with difficulty, and, when Frederic had carried
her up to her bed-room, she lay on the sofa a long time without moving,
thoroughly exhausted.

The doctor came towards noon, and declared that a complete change of air
would be the best thing for the little Nora, who certainly seemed to be
losing strength daily. He would write to a physician, a friend of his in
Switzerland, to find a suitable place for her, and would come again as
soon as he received an answer.

Towards evening, Nora sat once more in the window, gazing wearily at the
long slanting rays of the setting sun that fell across the greensward in
golden radiance, and lighted up the rose-leaves till they shone like
lamps among the flowers. Clarissa sat at her work-table by Nora's side
and from time to time, she raised her head and looked sadly at the frail
form that lay so motionless in the window-seat.

"Clarissa," said the child, presently, "will you repeat the old song of
Paradise to me?"

Clarissa laid aside her work.

"We will sing it together again some day, dear child, when you are
strong enough; now I will say it to you if you wish" and she folded her
hands and began:--

    "A stream of water, crystal bright,
      Flows down through meadows green,
    Where lilies, shining in the light,
      Like twinkling starlets gleam.

    "And roses blow, and roses glow,
      While birds in every tree
    Are singing loud, are singing low,
      'In Paradise are we.'

    "Here, gently blows the soft, sweet wind;
      Bright flowers grow all around;
    Men wake, as from a dream, to find
      They tread on holy ground.

    "In blissful happiness they rove,
      At peace with each and all;
    United now in bonds of love,
      Freed from the grave's dark pall.

    "All want and weariness are o'er,
      All sorrow and all pain;
    Their rapture gathers more and more;
      The sick are well again."

After Clarissa had finished her recitation, no sound broke the stillness
for a long time; Nora seemed lost in thought. "Clarissa," she said at
last, "that is a beautiful poem, and makes me long to go."

"Yes; go willingly, go gladly, dear child," replied Clarissa, with tears
in her eyes. "Then you can wander joyfully among the bright flowers, and
sing:

    "'Our rapture gathers more and more;
      The sick are well again.'

"And we shall soon join you there, your mamma and I--"

At this moment the mother entered, and Clarissa stopped suddenly; for
she knew well that Mrs. Stanhope could not endure the thought of losing
little Nora, even though her child were called to heaven; but the mother
had heard enough of what had been said, and looked at the child with
renewed anxiety. Nora certainly looked very pale and weary; and, at her
mother's request, she let herself be carried at once to bed in
Clarissa's strong and tender arms.

Later in the evening when Mrs. Stanhope sat alone with her old friend,
she began anxiously to question the suitableness of talking to the child
upon such topics.

"Surely there is no need of dwelling on such mournful things, Clarissa.
Nora is not so ill that we need think the worst, much less talk about
it."

"Nora likes to hear me repeat her favorite poem," replied Clarissa;
"and, dear Mrs. Stanhope, let me say one thing to you. If our darling is
to live only to suffer through long years of pain, can you wish for life
for her? Why should we wish to keep her here, where she cannot enjoy the
smallest part of the wealth and beauty about her, rather than let her go
to that heavenly home, where there is no more sorrow nor pain?"

"I cannot bear the thought of parting from her; it must not, it cannot
be. Why may not all yet go well, and Nora get strong again?" said the
poor mother; and the heart within her was heavy with grief. She could
say no more, and withdrew in silence to her own room.

The great stone mansion was soon wrapped in stillness; and as the light
of the summer moon shone down upon it, whoever had seen it standing
there in stately beauty, its high white pillars gleaming through the
dark trees, would surely have thought:

"How beautiful it must be to live there! No care nor sorrow can reach
the inmates of that lovely dwelling!"

Mrs. Stanhope occupied her paternal home on the banks of the Rhine. She
had married an English-man when very young, and had lived in England
until his death, when she returned to the home of her childhood,
unoccupied since the death of her parents, bringing with her two little
children, the brown-eyed Philo, and his delicate, fair-haired sister,
Nora. The faithful Clarissa, who had taken care of Mrs. Stanhope in her
childhood and who had accompanied her to her foreign home, loved these
children as if they were her own. The little family had now lived
several years in this beautiful house on the Rhine; a very peaceful and
regular life it was, one day like another; for the children were
delicate and could bear no exciting pleasures. Two years ago a heavy
sorrow dropped its dark shadow over the household. Little Philo closed
his dark eyes forever, and was laid to rest under the old linden-tree in
the garden, where the roses bloomed all summer long. Nora, who was only
a year younger than her brother, was now in her eleventh year.

In about a week after his first visit, the doctor came again. He had
heard from his friend, the physician, who had willingly offered to find
a house for Mrs. Stanhope near his own, in the little village of
Buchberg, among the mountains. Mrs. Stanhope might set out as soon as
she pleased. He would answer for all being in readiness to receive her.

In a few days they were ready to start. Clarissa was to remain behind to
put the house in order, and only a young maid-servant went with them. As
the carriage rolled away, bearing Mrs. Stanhope and her little daughter
on the way to Switzerland, Clarissa gave them many a God-speed, and,
turning back into the empty house, she wiped away the tears she could no
longer repress, saying softly to herself:

    "'Their rapture gathers more and more;
      The sick are well again.'"




CHAPTER II.

IN THE DOCTOR'S HOUSE AT BUCHBERG.


The kitchen-garden is the especial delight of the true German housewife;
that is, of one who lives in the country where such a luxury is
possible. The flower-garden is a source of pleasure to the whole family;
but the vegetable-garden is her own, so to speak; she cares for it
herself; she watches each little plant with her own eyes, and removes
each encroaching weed with her own hands. Now this year the cauliflowers
were of unusually fine promise, and they excited the hopes of their
owner that a wonderful harvest would before long reward her care; not a
trace of a noxious worm was as yet to be detected.

"Good evening," said some one from the other side of the hedge; "your
vegetables are always the best and the most forward of any in the
neighborhood; they show the care you take of them."

The doctor's wife came nearer to the hedge, and over the low barrier
Heiri, the day-laborer, stretched his hand, stained and knotted with
work, to clasp that of his old friend and schoolmate. How often had he
been to her for counsel and aid since those school-days, and when had
that willing and helpful hand ever failed him?

"How are you all at home, Heiri?" she asked heartily. "Have you plenty
of work? Are your wife and children well?"

"Yes, yes, thank God!" replied Heiri, as he lifted his heavy tools from
his shoulder and set them on the ground. "There is work enough; I am
just taking these tools to be sharpened. I have to keep hard at it, for
the family is growing big."

"The three little boys look finely; I saw them go by yesterday with
Elsli," continued the doctor's wife. "But Elsli herself looks quite too
pale and delicate. Do not forget how her mother died, Heiri. The little
girl ought not to have too much to do; she is not strong, and she is
growing too fast. Do take it in time, Heiri; you know by sad experience
how rapidly disease gains ground when it has once got hold of a young
girl."

"Yes, yes, I can never forget that. It was terrible to see how quickly
Gritli sank,--and she so young, so young! Marget is a good wife and an
industrious woman; but nothing will ever make me forget my poor Gritli";
and Heiri wiped away a few tears with his hard hand.

Tears were also in the eyes of the doctor's wife, as she said, "Neither
can I ever forget her, nor how gladly she would have lived for you and
the children, nor how quickly it was all over. Elsli is the very image
of her mother, Heiri, and I cannot help fearing that she is working
beyond her strength."

"She's a poor, thin little creature, to be sure," said Heiri; "and it
strikes me, now and then, that she is delicate; but usually she is so
quiet that I don't take much notice of her. Now, the boy is much more
like his mother; he's always busy about something, especially about
keeping things clean. He can't abide dirt, any more than Gritli could,
and he is always at the little ones to make them come and be washed at
the spout. Of course the little boys won't stand that, and they set up a
scream, and then out comes their mother, and there's a grand row! I
scarcely ever come home at night that Marget doesn't come complaining
of the boy for plaguing the younger children. She wants me to punish
him, but when the little fellow stands up before me, and looks straight
into my eyes with such a look of his mother about him, I cannot bring
myself to strike him. Then Marget is vexed and begins to scold, and I do
not like to vex her, for she works hard and means all right. I have
often thought that perhaps you, Mrs. Stein, would speak a word for me to
Marget about punishing the boy; for anything from you would have great
weight with her."

"Certainly I will, with pleasure. But tell me about Elsli; is Marget
kind to her?"

"Well, this is how it is,"--and Heiri drew a little nearer the hedge and
spoke in a confidential tone--"the little girl is more like me, and
gives in easily and is not obstinate about having her own way, as her
poor mother was. She does what she is bid, and never answers back when
Marget scolds, nor ever complains, though she has to work from the time
she gets home from school till she goes to bed; always carrying the
baby, or doing something about the house."

"But you must not let her do too much, Heiri," said Mrs. Stein
seriously. "I am very anxious about her. Ask Marget to come over and see
me: tell her I have some clothes which my children have out-grown, and I
should like to give them to her if she will come for them."

"Thank you; I will certainly send her. Good-night I hope you will have
good luck with the cauliflowers"; and, with another shake of his good
friend's hand, Heiri went off to the smithy.

The doctor's wife stood lost in thought for several minutes. She was
looking towards her vegetables, but she was thinking of neither beet nor
cauliflower, though her eyes were resting on the neat rows before her.
This talk with Heiri had brought the old days of her childhood forcibly
back to her memory. She saw the pretty Gritli with her big brown eyes,
as she used to sit weaving forget-me-nots into pretty wreaths with her
skilful fingers; always putting a few into her belt and into her hair.
Gritli was the child of poor parents, but she was always neatly dressed,
and, though her clothes were of the coarsest stuff, yet there was a
peculiar look of daintiness about her, which, with the bit of color in
flower or ribbon that was never wanting in her costume, gave the
impression that she had just been dressed by an artist, as a model for a
picture. Many criticised this daintiness and many laughed at it, but it
made no difference to Gritli; for indeed it was only the instinctive
expression of the girl's natural longing for the beautiful.

At eighteen, Gritli married Heiri, a good-hearted fellow who had long
loved her. But after five years of married life she died, of a rapid
consumption; leaving two children, Stefan and Elsli, four and three
years old. It was not long before Heiri found that he needed help in the
care of these little ones, and, taking the advice of friends and
neighbors, he married Marget, who was recommended to him as specially
capable of looking after his house and children. She proved indeed a
good house-keeper; but for ornaments and flowers she had no taste, and
she did not see the use of being over particular about neatness either,
so that Heiri's household soon lost the air of refinement which had been
noticeable during Gritli's life.

Marget's three children did not get by any means the nice care that
Fani and Elsli had received from their own mother, and Gritli's children
retained an air of distinction that was ineffaceable, and that marked
them as quite different from the younger set.

The memories that passed almost like a vision before the eyes of the
doctor's wife, as she stood apparently studying her kitchen-garden, were
rudely dispelled by a piercing scream that resounded from the house; and
presently an eight-year-old girl came running round the corner, pursued
by her older brother; a big lad, who held a huge volume under his left
arm, and had something tightly clutched in his right hand.

"Rikli! what a fearful noise! come here to me! what has happened now?"

The girl screamed louder and hid her face in the skirts of her mother's
dress.

"Now, just look at the innocent cause of this ridiculous disturbance,
mother," said Fred. "Only this pretty, dear little froggy, that I
caught, and was holding out for Rikli to admire. Just let me read you
this description, and you will see how exactly it agrees with Mr. Frog
himself. Look, mamma, look!" and Fred opened his hand and showed a small
green frog.

"Stand still, and be quiet, Rikli," said her mother to the crying girl,
"and, Fred, why do you persist in showing the silly child these
creatures, when you know how much she is afraid of them?"

"She was the only person near," answered Fred. "But do listen to this,
mamma." Fred opened his book, and began to read:--

"'The green or water frog, _esculenta_, is about three inches in length,
grass-green, with black spots. His eyes have a golden color, and the
toes of his hind legs are webbed. His voice, which is often heard on
warm summer nights, sounds _Brekekex!_ He passes the winters hidden in
the mud and slime. He feeds upon'--"

At this moment a carriage was heard approaching. "It is the lady with
the sick child," said Mrs. Stein, putting Fred aside rather hastily, for
he tried to detain her. He followed her, crying out:--

"Do listen, mamma; you do not know what he eats. He eats--"

The carriage was at the door. Hans came from the stable, and Kathri, in
her best white apron, from the kitchen, to lift out the sick girl and
carry her into the house. Fred and Rikli stood back by the hedge, as
still as mice, watching the proceedings.

First, a lady alighted from the carriage, and beckoned to Kathri, who
came forward, lifted out the pale child, and carried her up the steps
into the house. The lady followed with Mrs. Stein.

"That girl is a great deal bigger than you are, if mother did say that
she was only eight or nine years old," said Fred to Rikli. "She is more
nearly Emma's age, and what do you suppose she would think to hear you
screaming as you did just now? I don't think she'd like you for a
friend."

"Well, at any rate, she wouldn't always have centipedes and frogs and
spiders in her pockets, as you have, Fred," retorted Rikli; and she was
about to add some farther excuse for her screams, when Fred opened his
hand to see how his frog was getting on, and lo! the little creature
made one big jump right towards Rikli's face! With a piercing cry, the
child flew into the house, but was instantly stopped by Kathri, with:

"Hush! hush! When there is that sick little girl in there, how can you
make such a noise?"

"Where is aunty?" asked Rikli; a question that the maid answered before
it was fairly uttered, for it was asked hundreds of times in that
household every day.

"In the other room. The sick girl is in here, and you mustn't go in,
your mother says. And as for screaming like a pig, you mustn't do that
either, in a respectable house," added Kathri, on her own account.

Rikli hastened into the room where her aunt was, to tell her about
Fred's horrid frog, and how it had jumped almost into her very face. Her
aunt was listening to Oscar, the eldest brother, who was talking
earnestly.

"You see, aunty," he was saying, "that if Feklitus does not object, we
can put the two verses together; then ours could go here, and the other
there, and both would be used. Won't that do?"

"Yes, that will be very nice indeed," said his aunt in a tone of
conviction; "that will remove all difficulties; and the verses are
really very suitable, as such verses ought to be."

"You will help Emma with the embroidery, won't you, aunty? You know she
will never finish the banner by herself. She is always up to so many
pranks, and she cannot keep at one thing half an hour at a time."

His aunt promised her assistance, and he ran off, well pleased, to tell
his friends of their new ally. Rikli thought her chance had come now,
but before she could begin her story Emma rushed in, crying, almost out
of breath:--

"Aunty! aunty! They are all going to gather strawberries--a lot of boys
and girls--may I go too? Say 'yes' quick, for I can't get at mamma and
they won't wait."

"Strawberries to-day, violets yesterday, and blueberries to-morrow;
always something or other; that is the way with you, Emma. Well, go, but
do not stay out too late."

"I want to go too," cried Rikli, and started after her sister.

But Emma, clearing the steps in two jumps, called back:--

"No, you can't go into the woods; there are red snails there and beetles
and--"

But Rikli did not wait to hear more; she was reminded of the frog, and
turned back to tell her story, when she saw Fred coming in with his book
under his arm. He seated himself by his aunt and opened the book.

"How nice it is to find you, aunty," he began, "Mamma couldn't wait to
hear the end of this description; and it was a pity, for I had found
such a perfect specimen. But I'll find another to-morrow to show you."

"No! no!" cried Rikli. "Say 'no,' aunty; it will jump right into your
face, and it has yellow eyes like a dragon's."

Fred had doubled up his fist as if he had something in it, and now he
suddenly opened it into his sister's face. She sprang back with a cry,
and away through the door.

"Now we can have a little peace," said Fred, well pleased at the success
of his trick; and he began to read.

"'The green or water-frog, _esculenta_'--"

At this moment the house-door was opened, and they heard footsteps and
voices in the passage-way.

"Come," said his aunt, "let us look out at the little sick girl who is
going away; then we will come back to the frog."

They went to the window and looked out. A sad expression came into the
good aunt's face as she saw the little girl lifted into the carriage.

"How sick and pale she looks, poor little thing! or, rather, poor
sorrowful mother!" she said, as her eyes fell on the face of the lady
who was at this moment pressing Mrs. Stein's hand, while tears were
running, unheeded, down her cheeks.

The carriage rolled away. Fred returned to his book; but he had no
chance to go on with the description of the frog, for his mother,
greatly excited over the sight of the suffering child and the anxious
mother, came to talk it over with her sister, with whom she consulted
about everything that took place in the family, so that the household
would have been as much at a loss without "aunty" as without father or
mother. Fred saw that this was not his opportunity; so, exacting a
promise from his aunt that she would give him a chance with his frog
just before bed-time, he took himself off.

Then Mrs. Stein told her sister all about her painful interview with
Mrs. Stanhope. The child, she said, was so pale and transparent-looking
that she seemed already to belong more to heaven than to earth; but the
mother would not believe it, and had eagerly explained, in a burst of
tears, that it was only the fatigue of the journey which made Nora look
so ill, and that she was sure that the mountain air would soon restore
her darling to health. Was she trying to deceive herself?

While Mrs. Stein was speaking, the sound of a horse's hoofs was heard,
and she hurried out to meet her husband and to tell him of Mrs.
Stanhope's arrival. The doctor hastened away on foot to pay a visit to
his new patient. Not until late in the evening did he return; long after
the children were safe in their beds. Fred, by the way, had persevered
till he had secured his aunt long enough to give her a thorough account
of the appearance of the "green or water-frog." It had been no easy
task, for each of the children had some special need of her that
evening, and his mother, too; and even Kathri asked for "one word"; but
Fred was not to be cheated, and he came out triumphant at last.

The doctor sat down hungry at the supper-table, and not one word did he
speak to his expectant wife and sister, until he had satisfied his
appetite. He shook his head doubtfully, in answer to their questions
about Nora.

"There is nothing to build upon," he said; "the little plant has no
strength. It is not a case of failing health, but of utter want of
vitality from the very beginning. If our mountain air can work a
miracle, we may see her restored; if not, there is no hope."

His wife and "aunty" were grieved at this reply, though they had
expected nothing better; but they tried to take a more cheerful view.

"While there is life, there is hope," they said, "and our mountain air
does certainly work wonders."

"I should like to have Emma go to see the little girl, and try to amuse
her now and then," said the doctor presently; "Emma has too many schemes
in her head; perhaps she will drop some of them if she gets interested
in this child, and I am sure it would be a good thing; for her projects
almost always end in some kind of mishap. Nora will be rather
astonished, probably, at some of her suggestions, but it will do no harm
to the poor child to have some new and interesting ideas introduced into
her restricted life, and there is no chance of her being enticed into
joining in Emma's wild pranks. It will be good for both of them to be
together."

Mrs. Stein was pleased at the idea of a friendship between the girls.
Nora's gentleness and delicacy might have a softening influence on her
impulsive little daughter, while, on the other hand, Emma's active,
happy spirits could not fail to attract Nora, and to draw her out of
herself.

Later in the evening, while the doctor was busy with his arrangements
for the next day's work, his wife and her sister sat together, as usual,
over the great basket that stood always well supplied with mending and
sewing of various kinds. They talked over the experiences of the day,
the conduct of the children, and the general affairs of the household,
and took counsel together for the day to come. This was the only time in
the twenty-four hours that they could call their own, and they could
hardly have got along without it; for their lives were so closely
interwoven that they needed this interchange of thoughts to help each
other and themselves. Naturally, the children were first discussed, with
their varied joys and sorrows, wants and wishes; next, the doctor's
patients, who came to the house from far and near; and last, the many
calls for sympathy and advice that reached their ears and their hearts
from all the country round about; for many were those who brought their
troubles of all kinds to this hospitable house, where they were always
sure of help and encouragement, of support in word and deed. So the two
sisters, on this, as on many another evening, had so many things of
interest to discuss and decide, that, under their busy hands, the heap
of unmended stockings in the work-basket melted away unobserved, while
many a neighborly plan and kindly conspiracy were hatched by their warm
hearts and busy heads; and it was very late when at last they separated
to their well earned rest.




CHAPTER III.

IN THE VILLAGE AND IN THE SCHOOL.


The village of Buchberg consisted of several scattered farms, and of
groups of houses and cottages that peeped out from among thriving fruit
trees. Only a few houses stood near the church; the school-house, the
sexton's house, the substantial old-fashioned dwelling of the mayor of
the little community, and two or three peasants' cottages. Dr. Stein's
house stood quite by itself at a little distance from the others, on a
slight elevation, quite surrounded by trees. The biggest buildings in
all Buchberg stood on the principal street of the town; these were the
fine house and the enormous factory of Mr. Bickel, who had built them
both.

Between the street and the dwelling lay a sunny flower-garden; not a
tree nor a shrub was planted in it, lest the grandeur of the mansion
should be concealed in the least from public view. Here lived the
wealthy manufacturer, with his wife and their only son. The family
occupied only the lower floor; upstairs the six great splendid rooms
were always closed and their shining green blinds always drawn down. No
one ever entered there except Mrs. Bickel, who now and then came up to
air and to dust and to admire them. Her little boy was allowed to go
with her sometimes; but he had to leave his shoes at the door; and he
stood just inside, half awe-struck in the gloom; staring at the unused
chairs and the stiff furniture. Mr. Bickel was a very important person
in the village, for in his factory he employed a great many persons,
both young and old; he was very clever at finding out what people were
good for, and knew just how much they could work, and what they could do
best, and how much they were worth to him. It was said that whenever a
child was born in Buchberg, Mr. Bickel began at once to calculate how
many years would pass before it would be old enough to be put upon his
pay-roll. And almost all the children knew that their future destiny
would surely bring them under Mr. Bickel's management, and they learned
early to stand respectfully aside when he came along the street, with
his thick gold-headed cane, and his shining watch chain with the bunch
of seals, that shook and glittered and jingled majestically from afar.

From this fine house every morning came young Feklitus, Mr. Bickel's
son, and through the sunny garden and up the street he went on his way
to school. Over his back was slung a leather satchel, wondrously
embroidered with the big initials "F.B.," surrounded with a garland of
beautiful roses; a Christmas gift from his mother.

"Feklitus" was only a nickname, and this is the way it originated. His
grandfather was a tailor by trade; a person of very small stature and
obscure position; altogether a very humble personage to be the father of
a great man, such as his son afterwards became, and, because he was so
diminutive in every way, he went, in the neighborhood, by the nickname
of "Tailorkin." His only son was christened Felix, and as the common
nickname of Felix is Fekli, the boy became universally known as
"Tailorkin-Fekli." This was very displeasing to Felix, who early in life
determined to make something of himself, and who soon began to rise and
grow rich. The Buchbergers, however, were not disposed to drop the name
which amused them, merely because it vexed the owner; so even now,
although when they met the great man they always addressed him with due
respect as Mr. Bickel, yet behind his back he was still Tailorkin-Fekli.
He suspected this underhand familiarity, and was not a little disturbed
by it.

When, after he had become a great man, and had built himself a splendid
new house, he had a son born to him, he determined to find a name for
the child which could not be tampered with as his own had been; and he
delayed the baptism as long as possible, while searching for one to suit
his purpose. It so happened that about this time he was called upon in
his capacity as School-Inspector to be present at the yearly
examinations at the school-house; and he heard the teacher explain to
the children the meaning of the name Fortunatus. No sooner did this
name reach Mr. Bickel's ear, than he was struck with its appropriateness
to his son. Was not the boy destined to be the fortunate heir to his
father's wealth and position? He went home full of satisfaction and
announced to his wife that the long-sought name was found, and the child
might be taken to church for baptism. So Fortunatus he was christened;
and Mr. Bickel felt sure now that the hated nickname would be dropped
and soon forgotten.

Not so; for as soon as the boy went to school, his playmates decided
that Fortunatus was far too long and pretentious a name for common use;
so they peremptorily shortened it to "Tus"; then, adding it to the
father's appellation, it became "Tailorkin-Fekli-Tus." The first word of
this lengthy and awkward combination was soon dropped off, and the
other two were combined into one word and became Feklitus. With this
the critics were satisfied, and long usage fixed the name so completely
on the boy that at last very few recalled the fine name Fortunatus, and
almost every one supposed that he had been christened Feklitus.

Oscar Stein and Feklitus Bickel both sat at the head of the sixth class
in the village school. This odd arrangement came about in this way.
When, six years before, both entered the school together, Oscar seated
himself at once at the head of the bench; for he was a boy born to lead,
and never thought of being second anywhere. But Feklitus came and stood
in front of him, saying "That is my place"; for his father had told him
that the first place was no more than his right. Oscar would not yield,
and the case came before the teacher, who, finding that Oscar was the
senior by two days, decided in his favor. Feklitus, however, was not to
be put down so; he would not sit below Oscar, so he took the first place
on the next bench, and, as the class was so large a one as to occupy
both benches, the teacher allowed the affair to be settled so, and so it
had continued ever since. And thus both boys were first.

Oscar was well pleased with this arrangement, because it brought next
him a boy whom he much preferred to Feklitus; Fani, the son of Heiri,
the day-laborer. Fani was a lively and courageous fellow, who was always
ready to join Oscar in any undertaking he might have in view, no matter
how bold it might be. Oscar even thought Fani far better looking than
the broad-shouldered Feklitus; who, in his fine cloth suit with the high
collar that made his short neck look as if it was no neck at all, was
boxed up so stiff and tight that he could hardly move; while Fani was
slender and nimble as a lizard, and, though he wore all summer long
nothing more than a shirt and linen trousers, yet he looked so slight
and so graceful that no one noticed how sparely he was clad. When with
both hands he tossed his long dark brown locks back from his forehead,
and looked about with great shining expectant eyes, then instantly some
new plan of comradeship darted into Oscar's busy brain; some new play in
which Fani would be of use, either in the role of Artist, or Noble
Bandit, or Tragedy-King. Oscar was always planning the establishment of
something grand; a Club, or Association, or Band of Fellowship of some
kind; and he needed for carrying out his numerous and complicated
projects, a skilful, intelligent, and enthusiastic assistant like Fani.

Feklitus, on the other hand, was nothing but a hindrance to these
schemes, because he would go into a thing only if he was allowed to take
the principal part in it, and he always behaved as if he had devised the
plan himself as much as Oscar. Still, it was necessary to take him in,
and ensure his favor; as otherwise he would take his whole party into
opposition, and ensure the failure of the enterprise. For the class was
divided into two nearly equal parties, and indeed this party-spirit had
spread so far that the whole school, even down to the primary class, was
divided into two camps, the Oscarians and the Feklitusians. Oscar had on
his side all the independent fellows, all the sons of well-to-do
peasants, all the sons of mechanics who were to follow in their fathers'
footsteps, and all those whose future vocation was decided on, from the
coachman to the teacher.

All the other boys were followers of Feklitus; for he had a terrible
phrase, which he used with great effect, when he wished to press them
into his ranks; it was, "Just you wait till you come into our factory!"
It was curious to see how this would work like a charm with the wavering
boys; for the very indefiniteness of what would happen when they came to
the factory, lent a mysterious force to this dark threat. But no threat,
no promise, no hint had the slightest effect upon Fani. He was to enter
the factory the coming Easter, at the close of the school-year; and this
he knew very well; but he adhered firmly to Oscar's side, and when
Feklitus would angrily call out to him, "Just you wait," he would turn
on his heel, and answer laughing, "Oh yes! I'll wait! I'm not in the
least hurry"; an answer which did not lessen Feklitus' anger, and which
made him long for the time when the boy should be "in the factory,"
when he promised himself that things should not go too easily for him.

Still, in spite of all these little jealousies, the two parties
generally worked peaceably together; for it was important for Oscar to
be on the right side of Feklitus, as his plans required large numbers
for their successful execution. Just now they were on a most cordial
footing. Oscar had started the idea of a grand Musical Festival. Every
one in the school who wished might take part, and after all necessary
preparations they were to have a grand celebration. The assistance of
Feklitus had been secured by giving him a prominent place in the
arrangements for the great occasion. The embroidered banner, which was
to be a salient feature, was sure to be ready, since Oscar's aunt had
undertaken it, which was quite a different thing from being dependent
on Emma. Fani was to be the bearer. To-day the motto must be selected
for it, and at the close of school several of the boys were stationed at
the door, to summon the others, as they came out, to a meeting for the
decision of this important matter. On a knoll in a field near by, the
boys assembled; and then Oscar announced that he had found a pretty
couplet, suitable to the occasion, which he proposed as a motto for the
banner, and he read in a loud voice:--

    "Music the truest pleasure gives,
      So sing we merrily."

But Feklitus did not approve. He said that he had often been present on
occasions of this kind and had seen many prettier mottoes than this. He
could recall one which he thought ought to be chosen.

    "Our Fatherland shall ever live;
      May freedom never die!"

Oscar said that this motto would do very well for some patriotic
occasion, but was not exactly the thing for a musical festival. Feklitus
would not yield, and called on his followers to stand by him and his
motto. Then followed loud discussion on both sides, which soon grew into
an uproar. The Oscarians and Feklitusians screamed so loud that not one
word could be distinguished from another. Presently Oscar seized
Feklitus by the arm, and drew him aside out of the mob.

"Don't you see, you mar-plot, that this hubbub is all your fault? and
that you are very provoking? What do you gain by it? Nothing. What do
you lose? Everything. But to show you that I am not like you, I propose
to you to put the two couplets together, and use both. Luckily they
rhyme. See how this will do:--

    "Music the truest pleasure gives;
      So sing we merrily--
    'Our Fatherland shall ever live,
      And Freedom never die.'"

Feklitus was pacified; which was fortunate, for nothing would have
induced him to give up his verse, whose great merit in his eyes was just
that it was _his_; he had remembered it, repeated it, proposed it; so it
was naturally better than any other could be. The meeting was informed
of the compromise, applauded it, and immediately adjourned, dispersing
in all directions, and making the quiet summer evening resound with
their merry shouts. Oscar alone went his way with an air of deep
depression, and with anger in his heart. Fani had again disappeared
directly after school, as he had often done before, and had not waited
for the meeting, though he knew how much Oscar cared to have him there.
Fani certainly took everything too lightly, Oscar thought; it was his
only great fault; he went too easily from one thing to another; and
Oscar knew too who aided him in this changeableness, and had indeed just
the same failing herself; and that was his own sister Emma. Indeed, the
girl was the worse of the two, for she was continually proposing new
schemes, and urging Fani to help her carry them out. Oscar knew all
this, and was very much vexed with Fani for yielding so easily to Emma's
persuasions. And to think of his disappearing so this afternoon, when he
had relied on his support at the meeting! It was too provoking!

As Oscar drew near home, he came suddenly upon his brother Fred, who was
kneeling down in the vegetable garden and digging in the earth with
both hands, as if seeking a hidden treasure.

"Where is Emma?" asked Oscar; adding hurriedly, "Oh, don't touch me with
those hands!"

"Well, I should scarcely mistake you for a grub, and that's what I want
to 'touch' with these hands," said Fred, rather scornfully. "As to Emma,
I don't know where she is; but one thing I do know, and that is that one
of you two has carried off all the paper again, so that when a fellow
wants to do his exercises he may whistle for it! I know that much."

"I haven't used any," said Oscar; "but Emma is getting up some new
scheme; I am sure of that, and I suppose she has taken the paper. I
don't know what will happen if somebody doesn't put a stop to her
carrying-on!"

With which negative kind of a prophecy, Oscar went into the house.




CHAPTER IV.

FARTHER PROCEEDINGS IN BUCHBERG.


Oscar's suspicions were correct; as soon as the school-house door was
opened, the nimble Fani had slipped out among the very first; and had
joined Emma, who at once claimed his attention by saying:--

"Come, Fani, I know of a splendid tree for you to draw, and I have the
paper and everything all ready."

Fani was more than willing; and off they scampered, first down the road,
and then by a path across the meadow to a small green hill, known as
Oak-ridge. As they slackened their pace in the ascent, Emma explained
her plan. A short time before, the two higher classes in the school had
begun to take drawing lessons, a new experiment. Emma and Elsli were in
the fifth class, and so was the studious Fred, who, though more than a
year younger, was so much in advance of those of his age that he had
quite outstripped the fourth class to which he properly belonged, and
was, indeed, more clever than most of the members of the fifth. Not in
drawing, however. In that, Fani led the whole school, and he was,
indeed, so successful with his pencil that the teacher often said to
him:--

"Now, Fani, just see what you can do, if you only try! You could do far
better than this, even, if you would only take pains, and not be so
indifferent and light-minded."

On this very day the teacher had said that he should like to have the
children sketch something from nature; a tree or a flower, perhaps; and
he assured Fani that he copied trees remarkably well, and that he
would, probably, succeed out-of-doors. Emma was very much interested in
Fani's drawing; and he had made several pictures especially for her,
which she used for book-marks; a rose and a bunch of strawberries, a
fisherman, rod in hand, seated by a stream under a tree.

So now Emma told Fani how excited she was when she heard what the
teacher said, and how she instantly bethought herself of a splendid
oak-tree that she had noticed a few days before when walking with her
mother in the meadow, not far from the village; and how impatient she
felt to carry Fani off, the moment school was over, that he might set to
work that very day to copy it. Talking thus, they reached the top of the
ridge and the tree was before them. It was, in truth, a magnificent
sight, as it stood on the brow of the hill, and threw its heavy shadow
far out all round on the short meadow grass. Fani stood gazing with
wonder up into its rich foliage.

"Oh, how beautiful!" he exclaimed. "I'm so glad, Emma, that you thought
of it; it is splendid to draw! I'll begin directly; not exactly here,
but a little farther off." And Fani stepped slowly back till he had
reached the right point of view. There he sat down on the ground, and
Emma, placing herself at his side, drew out from her satchel a perfect
wealth of paper and pencils.

"There's paper enough there to make a great many sketches," said the
boy, as he looked with longing eyes at all this fine material.

"I will give you a lot of it to take home," said Emma. "I thought I
would bring a good deal, because you might have to try several times
before you got a good picture. Now pick out a pencil, Fani."

It seemed to Fani a wonderful mine of wealth; all this fresh paper, and
such an assortment of pencils to choose from. He selected two pencils,
and then, spreading a sheet of white paper before him, he began his
sketch. Emma watched every stroke with silent intentness. But, as the
picture grew under the boy's fingers, she could not control her
excitement.

"Oh! oh! Now it looks exactly like the real oak! How nicely you make the
branches and all the dear little twigs! Oh! it is the very best thing
you ever did, Fani! How pleased the teacher will be! I'm sure none of
the others will do anything half so good! How can you do it, Fani? I
never could in the world."

"I only just copy what I see," said Fani, whose eyes constantly moved
back and forth between the tree and his paper, while his cheeks glowed
and his eyes sparkled with excitement. "How lovely those twigs are! and
then the leaves! I don't think any leaf is as handsome as an oak-leaf,
and just look up there! see how perfectly round the shape of the tree
stands out against the sky, as if it had been marked by a pair of
compasses. Oh, I wish I could sit all day long drawing this tree; there
isn't anything more beautiful in the whole world!"

"I know something!" cried Emma, suddenly; "you must be an artist, Fani.
That's the way a painter begins, I'm sure; no one else would ever think
of saying that he could sit all day long drawing one tree."

"It's all very well to say that I must be an artist," said Fani,
sighing; "but next spring, when I leave school, I shall have to go into
the factory and just work hard from morning till night; I couldn't
learn to paint then, if I wanted to ever so much, could I?"

"But you do want to ever so much; don't you, Fani? Think how glorious it
would be! Wouldn't you do anything in the world for the sake of being a
painter?"

"Of course I would, but what can I do? How could I possibly manage it?"

"You just wait; I'll think and think till I can invent some way. Only
imagine how fine it will be when you are a famous painter and have
nothing to do but to paint and draw all the time. Won't that be just the
very best thing you can think of, Fani?"

Emma's enthusiasm was infectious. The pencil dropped from the boy's
hand, and he gazed up into the sky as if already looking upon the future
canvases which he should cover with pictures when he was a great
painter.

"Do you really believe it, Emma? Do you really think that I can ever do
it? I should like to begin directly; I feel as if I couldn't wait. But
what can I do? How shall I begin?"

"I can't think exactly, but I'm sure I shall get hold of some plan;
don't be in too great a hurry," said the girl; "I dare say I shall have
something to propose when I go to school to-morrow. But now come; hurry
up and finish the oak, and then take the paper and pencils home with you
and do something else. You know your drawings will be shown at
examination, and will need nice paper and pencils; you have nothing but
brown paper; so take this."

Fani was delighted with the gift; it was for want of material that he
had not drawn at home, and now there was nothing to prevent him from
working to his heart's content. As he put the finishing touches to his
sketch, while Emma looked on and admired, the sun went down, the shadows
began to fall, and reminded the children that it was quite time to
return home.

Fred had meanwhile finished his researches for grubs, and stood outside
the hedge, looking up the road, in the hope of seeing his sister Emma,
with whom he wished to have a very plain talk on the subject of the
paper. On the inside of the hedge, in the garden, stood Oscar, with the
same intentions, but in a more seriously displeased state of mind, for
had not Emma robbed him of his friend? and just now, too, when he was so
important to Oscar; for the preparations for the Festival could not go
on without Fani.

Feklitus was of no real assistance, for he was so slow-witted that it
was impossible to get an idea into his head; while Fani took every
suggestion like a flash, and had things at his finger-ends in a moment.
As Oscar thought and fretted over his injuries, his anger with Emma grew
apace; he was sure that she had in hand some project, such as she was
famous for; it was a shame, and he was determined to ferret it out, and
spoil it for her; he would punish her for taking possession of his
useful friend; and so on and so on, while Oscar, in growing excitement,
paced to and fro with hasty steps.

In the meantime, Fred was peering into the twilight, and along the road,
awaiting the coming of the culprit. At last, he saw some one coming
along the sidewalk; but it could hardly be Emma, for it was too wide, it
took up the whole width of the path. He ran forward, and found that it
was Elsli, who was toiling along, her brother Rudi hanging to her skirts
on one side, and Heili on the other, while in her arms she was carrying
Hans, a solid child of two years. The poor patient girl was quite
weighed down under the burden of her three brothers.

"Oh, put that big boy down on his own feet!" cried Fred, who was shocked
at the sight of such needless labor, "you are not fit to carry such a
load."

"I can't put him down; he begins to scream as soon as I do, and he gets
so naughty," said Elsli, as she walked painfully along.

"Are you going to our house?" asked Fred, following her.

"Yes, I am going to fetch something; I have brought a bag to put it
into," and Elsli lifted her arm a little and showed a large bag hanging
from it.

"You can't carry anything more; do put that fat child down; he will
break you in two," said Fred indignantly.

By this time they had reached the house.

"Now I shall have to put you down a minute, Hanli," said Elsli wearily,
"for my arm aches so that I cannot bear it any longer." With these words
she put the child upon his feet; but he forthwith set up a shriek that
brought all the women out of the house with a bound; Mrs. Stein and her
sister and Kathri were on the spot in an instant.

"I should like to give you something to scream for!" cried the maid,
suiting a significant gesture to her words with the open palm of her
hand, as she turned away into the house again. Elsli snatched up the
child hastily, and tried to quiet him.

"Mamma, do tell that big cry-baby to stand on his own legs. He'll kill
Elsli at this rate; he is far too much for her to lift." Fred spoke in
great excitement.

This made the child cry louder than ever, and he clung to his slender
sister with such increased force, that she staggered a little and seemed
about to fall.

"You really ought to put him down, my child," said the mother; "he would
soon get used to it. Come here!" and she tried to take the child from
Elsli's arms. It was harder than she expected; for the little fellow
clung tight with arms and legs, and kicked with his feet and pounded
with his fists, and when at last Mrs. Stein succeeded in detaching him
and placing him on the ground, he flung himself upon his sister's
skirts, and screamed so lustily that she took him up again, saying
resignedly:--

"It's of no use; he's a very naughty little boy; and begins to call to
me to carry him as soon as I get home from school."

"Such a big boy as Hans ought to be able to go alone by this time, and
then there is the baby besides; how do you manage to do it all, Elsli?"

"Oh, Hans is in a dreadful way if I take the baby; he screams and kicks
as hard as he can, and then his mother hears him, and she comes running
in, and says that she can't have such a noise, and I mustn't let the
children scream so. So I have to put the baby into the cradle to quiet
Hans, and then I rock the cradle with my foot to quiet the baby."

"Come into the house, Elsli," said the doctor's wife; "you look very
tired. Hans, if you will get down and come into the house yourself, you
shall have a piece of bread and an apple. Come."

"If you won't come," said her sister, "you can stay here, while Rudi and
Heili come with me and get bread and apples. They can walk, without
hanging on to Elsli's skirts and tearing her to pieces. Come, boys!"

The two boys did not need urging, but followed their kind friend into
the house. And even obstinate little Hans understood what bread and
apple meant; when his sister put him down on his feet, he made no
resistance, but, taking her hand, stumped along into the house without a
word. Fred followed them, switching a willow wand, as if to suggest the
most efficient method of teaching Hans to walk by himself. When they
reached the dining-room, the boys opened their eyes wide to see the big
loaf from which Mrs. Stein cut each a slice, and they were not slow in
setting their teeth into the rosy apples, of which each had one for his
own. Elsli too had an apple and a slice of bread.

Elsli explained that she had come to get the clothes which Mrs. Stein
had told her father to send for.

"You cannot carry them, my child," said Mrs. Stein, "it is enough for
you to take the boys home. Tell your mother that I have something to say
to her; and when she comes to see me, she can carry the clothes home."

"Don't you care to eat the bread and apple, Elsli?" asked the aunt,
noticing that the girl put the apple into her pocket, and held the bread
in her hand.

Elsli blushed, as if she were guilty of a breach of good manners, and
said, timidly:--

"I should like to take them home to Fani; he will not get any supper
to-night."

"It is very nice of you to take it to him," said Mrs. Stein kindly, "but
why will he not have his supper?"

"We have done supper at home, and we ate up everything, all the sour
milk and potatoes, for there was not a great deal; and father said those
who are not there at supper-time are not hungry, and can go without But
I know that Fani is hungry, only he is busy about something, and forgets
that it is time for supper."

"Where is he? Does he never help you with all these heavy children?"

"No, he is never allowed to help with the children. Mother says he's of
no use; he only makes the children naughtier, and he'd better keep out
of the way. So he does keep out of the way, and half the time doesn't
get any supper, and I can't keep any for him. But he is always good and
kind to me. When he does come home he writes my exercises for me; for I
never can get time for my lessons, I am so busy all the evening, till
mother comes and takes the lamp, and I go to bed."

"It's Fani's own fault if he doesn't come home in time for supper," said
aunty. "And you never will learn anything, my child, if he always does
your lessons for you."

Elsli turned very red, and her big blue eyes filled with tears.

"I know it. I am the stupidest and most backward scholar in the whole
school."

"No, you're not stupid at all," cried Fred eagerly. "It is only that you
never know the things that we have to learn by heart. And, now that I
know why, I should just like to catch any one laughing at you again!
They'd better try it!"

Elsli was seldom merry and lighthearted, like other girls of her age;
she was too much weighed down with care and hard work. She looked
gratefully at Fred for his kind confidence; but no real joy came into
her worn face. She stood up presently and took up her burden again, for
Hanseli had given several signs that he was ready to start for home,
and wanted her to carry him. The two ladies stood at the door, and
watched her as she walked away with slow and weary steps.

"Ah! how I wish that some ray of sunshine could come into that sweet
girl's lot!" exclaimed the doctor's wife, and her sister was responding
with the same thought, when the sound of noisy voices was heard, which
became louder and louder, as Emma came running through the garden, a
brother on each side, and both accosting her in vehement tones.

"What made you carry Fani off again?"

"What have you done with all the exercise-paper?"

"What are you and he up to now?"

"It's all your fault if we can't do our lessons."

"Where have you hidden him, so that he doesn't keep his promise and
come to the meeting?"

"Where have you put all the paper; I haven't even begun on my
exercises!"

The angry questioners, with Emma between them, came up the steps. Their
mother was just then called away; their aunt exclaimed:--

"Be still, boys; how can Emma answer either of you, if you both keep up
such a fire of questions?"

Emma darted to her aunt's side, and eagerly whispered in her ear what
she had done with the paper; adding:--

"Do help me, aunty; you know if Oscar knew that, it would only make him
more angry."

Her aunt could not find it in her heart to blame Emma for the use she
had made of the paper.

"Come in, boys," she said, "and learn your lessons, and be quiet for a
while; I'll give you plenty of paper"; adding, as a farther argument,
"your father will be at home directly, and you know he will not want a
noise in the house."

They came in quietly enough, and soon the four brothers and sisters were
industriously at work over their lessons, around the table; even Oscar
forgetting Fani for the time, in the interest of his studies. It seemed
as if peace and quiet were ensured for the rest of the evening. But
suddenly the silence was disturbed by a harrowing cry from Rikli, who
pushed her chair back from the table, and ran out of the room into the
passage-way, as if some monster were after her. All looked up from their
work and looked around in alarm for the cause of the outburst.

"Here, here!" cried Emma, pointing to the table, where a shining green
gold-chafer was gravely walking over the white paper, evidently an
escaped prisoner from the pocket of the indefatigable collector.

"Oh, Fred! you shouldn't carry live creatures about in your pockets,"
said his mother, gently. "You have plenty of boxes for them. Just see
what discomfort you give your neighbors, to say nothing of yourself and
the poor little animals."

"Fred is nothing but a wandering menagerie-cage; and no decent person is
safe anywhere near him," said Oscar, returning to his book.

"At any rate, my collections are not all the time falling through and
coming to nothing, like your clubs," retorted Fred. "And see here,
mamma, what a handsome and useful little fellow this is; let me read you
what it says about him"; and Fred opened his book, which was always
close at hand:--

"'The gold-chafer, _Auratus_, with its arched wing-coverings, and its
strong pincers, lives upon caterpillars, larvae, and other injurious
insects, and thus makes itself very useful. But instead of being
protected on this account, as it deserves to be, it is everywhere
persecuted and trodden upon.' So you see, mamma."

"We will not persecute your chafer, Fred; but his place is not in your
pocket, nor on the study-table, my boy; take him away," said his mother;
and at the same time his aunt called to Rikli through the open door:--

"Come back, dear little girl, and don't behave as if a little beetle
could eat you up alive! If you go through life shrieking out over every
trifle, you will some time or other be punished for it; for no one will
pay any attention to your screams, even when there is something really
the matter."

Rikli came back into the room just as Fred was carrying the beetle out,
and, as they met in the door-way, Fred said:--

"I'll make up a poem about you. You are the musician with the sweet
tones of your voice, and I am a brother-artist, a poet"

"Yes, yes! a lovely piece of poetry can be made about your pockets full
of long-legged creatures, that come crawling out and stretch their
horrid long legs all over the table!"

"Of course there could," said Fred stoutly, and went off to lodge his
useful persecuted gold-chafer in his cabinet.

When the children were clearing away their work, before going to bed,
their mother said:--

"To-morrow afternoon is a holiday, and I want you, Emma, to go and visit
the little sick girl, Nora Stanhope; and it will be well for you to go
every holiday and Sundays too. She will be very glad to see you."

"It will be a good thing for Emma to have a friend of her own; then
perhaps she'll let other people's friends alone," said Oscar, in a tone
of satisfaction.

Emma made no reply, but went quietly to bed; she had not the least idea
of giving up her friendship for Fani, to please anybody.

As they were all going upstairs in a little family procession,--first
Oscar, then Emma, then the aunt, and last the two younger
children,--Fred turned to Rikli and said:--

"Haha, Rikli, this goes capitally!" and he sang in a loud voice to a
tune of his own making:--

    "Hanseli is a cry-baby,
      Rikli is another;
    She is so much like him,
      He must be her brother."

Rikli was breaking out into an indignant cry at this unflattering
comparison, but her aunt turned and took her by the hand, saying:--

"Not again to-day, my dear, nor yet to-morrow, I hope. Show Fred that he
is wholly wrong in likening you to that spoilt child."

It often happened, as to-night, that the mother was prevented by other
duties from going up with the children to see them safe in their beds;
and then the aunt had to go the rounds alone, and the children often
came near quarrelling over her, for each one thought that the others had
more than their fair share of her time and attention. To-night Fred was
the unlucky one, and when his turn came, at last, he said quite
earnestly:--

"I wish, aunty, that you could be divided in two and then multiplied by
four, so that we could have two of you apiece; and then we should all
get our rights."

Aunty was all ready to give Fred his full rights now; but at that moment
came Kathri with imperative need of her in the kitchen, so she had to
rob him of his share to-night; but she promised to make it up by giving
him a double portion before the others to-morrow night.




CHAPTER V.

ON OAK-RIDGE.


When Dr. Stein received from his medical brother on the Rhine a letter,
asking him to look out for a suitable summer lodging for Mrs. Stanhope
and her little invalid daughter, he naturally turned the matter over to
his wife, who of course took her sister into consultation. The first
thing that suggested itself was the unused second story of Mr. Bickel's
great house. The doctor's wife immediately went to make inquiries, but
she met with no encouragement. Mrs. Bickel declared that she could not
spare any rooms; in the first place, she needed them herself; and then
she wondered how any one could think of such a thing as that she should
let strangers into her beautifully furnished apartments, which no one
had ever yet occupied. Mrs. Stein hastened to apologize; she only asked
for a friend, and meant no harm by asking; but it was so difficult to
find lodgings in Buchberg, and this was a case of great need. Mrs.
Bickel could not get over it, however, and long afterwards from time to
time she would break out to her husband, "Do you suppose that doctor's
wife thought we built this house to let?" and Mr. Bickel, equally
indignant, would add, "And to people that we know nothing whatever
about; nor even whether they would pay their rent!"

Mrs. Stein, disappointed in her first trial, bethought herself, as she
turned away from the Bickel mansion, of a certain new house that had
just been built on Oak-ridge by a man who occupied only the lower
floor; the upper story standing empty, waiting for the owner's son, who
was to be married in the autumn. There was a wonderfully beautiful view
from the windows out and far away over the green hills, with a
background of snow-covered mountains, and westward down the wooded
valley, through which rushed the waters of a mountain stream. Mrs. Stein
immediately turned her steps towards the Oak-ridge; and in a few
moments' interview all was happily arranged, to the satisfaction of both
parties; and in a few days, with her assistance, the rooms were nicely
furnished and stood ready for the reception of the lodgers.

Mrs. Stanhope and her daughter had now been settled in these lodgings
several days, and no one but the doctor and his wife had yet visited
them; for Nora had been very much fatigued by the journey and could see
no one. But to-day the doctor had promised that Emma should come to see
her, and Nora was seated at the window that looked towards the west, her
favorite view; for there she could see the foaming brook as it poured
from the mountain-side down through the valley; and there too the
sunset-clouds were painted each evening by the setting sun, and made
glorious pictures that delighted her sick and weary eyes.

Presently Nora saw a young girl coming up the hill-side towards the
house. Could it be Emma? Nora saw with amazement how she came springing
up the steep path without once pausing to take breath. It was
inconceivable! She would surely fall from sheer exhaustion! But the next
moment there was a knock at the door, and in came Emma with bright red
cheeks, and in her hand a bunch of red and blue wild-flowers, which she
held out to the pale little invalid, displaying by the gesture a brown,
well-rounded arm. Mrs. Stanhope greeted her kindly and gave her a seat
near Nora, who took the flowers with grateful thanks. No two girls could
have offered a greater contrast to each other than these two, as they
sat side by side. Emma, glowing, active, hearty, her every movement
speaking of healthy energy; and Nora, pale, languid, like a broken lily,
that would be wafted away by the next passing breeze. Mrs. Stanhope
looked at them for a few moments, and then, as the tears rose to her
eyes, she hastened away into the other room.

"Where did you find those beautiful flowers?" asked Nora.

"In the meadow, as I came along; it is full of them; red and white
marguerites and forget-me-nots, such a quantity! you ought to see them!
As soon as you are well enough, we will go and pick forget-me-nots, and
later will come strawberries and then bilberries."

Nora shook her head. "I should not enjoy it."

Emma did not know what to make of this, for she could think of nothing
more delightful, but immediately she bethought herself.

"Oh, of course you don't know how pleasant it is, because you don't have
such flowers where you live, and strawberries don't grow wild there; but
you will enjoy going out to pick them; you can't help it, it seems as if
you could never pick enough; it's such fun that you hate to have it time
to go home."

"Yes, I always think it must be beautiful to be out-of-doors," said Nora
thoughtfully. "But when I go it tires me terribly, and there's not a
bit of fun when I'm all tired out."

Emma looked at her companion as puzzled as if she were speaking in a
foreign tongue. "Tired" was a word unknown to Emma's vocabulary. Her
greatest sorrow when evening came, was that the day was done and she
must go to bed. No day was long enough to tire her nimble feet, and her
only regret was that she ever had to stop walking and running and
climbing. She stared at Nora a moment, not knowing what to say, and then
the very face at which she was gazing put a thought into her head, and
she said cheerfully:--

"I see now what you mean, but that is only because you are not strong
and well; pretty soon you will be well, and then you will feel very
differently; you will be like me, and I am never tired."

Nora shook her head. "I shall never be like you. I was always so,
always tired. I can't bear even to think about running; the very thought
tires me. I shall never enjoy it."

Emma began to feel very much worried.

"Oh, but there must be something that you enjoy doing; you must have
something to think about at night that you are going to do the next day;
some plan, some game, some fun or other! Oh, my father will make you
well and strong, and you must believe that he will, or else you won't be
happy and will grow worse and worse."

"I do have something that I love to think about and to look forward to.
When I see other children jumping and running easily, as you did when
you came up the hill just now, I think how much more beautiful it is in
heaven than it is here; and how I shall not be sick or tired there, but
can run about as much as I please among the beautiful flowers that grow
there; roses and lilies that never fade. Sha'n't you be glad to go to
heaven?"

Emma was nonplussed. She knew that it was beautiful in heaven, to be
sure; but she did not want to go there now; the earth too was beautiful
and she was happy enough here; she had not half exhausted the pleasures
and delights of her life. Nora seemed waiting for an answer, and Emma
stammered out:--

"I never thought about it at all!"

Nora looked disappointed.

"Oh! that is too bad that we cannot talk about heaven. There is no one
but Clarissa whom I can speak to about it, and she did not come with us;
I don't mention it to mamma, because she begins to cry directly. I
thought when you came you would like it; I'm sorry you don't."

Emma did not answer. She was trying to think of something which Nora
would like to talk about instead of heaven. A gleam of hope came to her.

"I know one thing you will enjoy," she said; "very soon they will begin
to cut the grass on the meadow, and they will pile it into beautiful
soft hay-cocks, and we will go and lie down upon them all day long; it
cannot tire you to lie in the hay, and it's perfectly lovely."

But Nora only shook her head again, and said nothing; she had no belief
in the power of hay to make her well again, and the prospect was not to
be compared to the pleasures of a heavenly garden. Emma thought it time
for her to say good-bye. Mrs. Stanhope came in, and begged her to stay a
while longer; her mother knew where she was, and there was no reason for
her hurrying away. Nora, however, did not second her mother's efforts,
and Emma was anxious to go. It was getting late, she said, confusedly.
She had better be at home; and she hastily took her leave. As soon as
she stood outside the house, she made one big spring, and never stopped
running, downhill and then up, till she stood on her own door-step; and
then she suddenly reflected that she was not expected to come back so
soon, and that her brothers were sure to make some unpleasant remarks on
her quick return; so she tried to think what she could do with herself
for a while. "I'll find aunty," was her speedy decision, "and I'll tell
her all about my visit, and how different it was from what I expected,
and how I had to come away because I couldn't think of anything more to
say to Nora. Aunty'll understand, and she won't let the boys laugh at
me."

She ran into the house, and at her aunt's door she ran plump into Fred,
who was coming out.

"Oh, ho! what happened over there between you and your new friend, Emma?
Something has gone wrong, or you wouldn't be at home so soon!" cried
Fred, far too cleverly.

Emma did not answer, but went into the room, where her aunt was alone,
sewing at her work-table. Emma sat down as close as she could to her, to
show that she was in possession, and no one else could have aunty now.

In the kitchen, Marget was standing; Mrs. Stein offered her a chair and
gave her a cup of coffee steaming hot, saying:--

"Do take a moment to rest, Marget; I've been for some time wanting a
chance to talk with you. I sent for you not only to give you the
clothes, but to talk with you a little about Elsli. I am worried about
that child; she looks so pale and thin. Hanseli is far too heavy for her
to carry, and then the other two boys are always hanging about her and
pulling her down. She will soon break down at this rate; you must see
for yourself how miserably she looks, and you ought not to let her be so
overworked."

"Oh, yes, Mrs. Stein, it's very easy to say that," interrupted Marget;
"but what can people like us do? I have all I can do from morning till
night to get the children clothed and fed; and how could I do it if I
had to have all the little crybabies round me all the time? There's
nobody but Elsli to help me with them. That big Fani might help her to
be sure, but he always forgets; he means well enough, but he's
thoughtless. Elsli does have to work pretty hard, I know; but she may as
well get used to it, for it'll only be harder by and by."

"But, Marget," resumed Mrs. Stein, "I tell you Elsli will break down
and be sick, and then where will you be?"

"Where shall I be? God only knows. Such as us can't afford to stop and
think what's going to happen; it's all we can do to get along to-day,
without thinking about to-morrow. All I know is, I can't spare Elsli
from the children, and the older she grows the harder it will be for
her; for she'll have to go into the factory as soon as she can earn
wages, and that's harder work than looking after the children. Fani will
go first Old Cousin Fekli has his eye on him for Easter, and has said to
me two or three times that he wanted the boy as soon as possible. Cousin
Fekli wouldn't want him if he didn't think he could make something out
of him; he doesn't forget to look out for his own profits."

"Are you really related to Mr. Bickel?"

"To be sure I am; we had the same great-grandfathers, so we are second
cousins. He doesn't care to acknowledge us, but when he passes me, I
always say distinctly, 'Good-day, cousin'; and I don't mind if he does
look rather askance as if he didn't know who I was--that's his look-out.
I'm glad he knows Fani and has his eye on him; if the boy can earn a
trifle by working for him, it will be something to help keep the pot
boiling."

Mrs. Stein now brought the bag which Elsli had left behind, which she
had filled with clothing for Marget's children.

"Do try to remember about Elsli," she said. "I will do all I can to help
you, if you will only spare the child as much as you can."

"Well, as much as I can, yes," said the woman. "But you must understand
that I have my work to do, and the boys must be kept from under my feet
while I am at work, and there's no one but Elsli to see to them. We are
all well now; and yet I have to use both hands to keep things going, and
feed all these mouths every day. How can I make things easier? If
sickness comes, it will be time enough then to change our ways. It comes
hardest on me, after all. No one knows what poverty is but those that
have been through it; but I can't help thinking sometimes that the Lord
God loves some of his children better than he does others."

"Try not to think that, Marget," said the doctor's wife in her kindest
tones, for the hard lot of the poor was a sad trial to her tender heart.
"There are many sufferings besides poverty, and some which are much
harder to bear. Our Father in heaven knows why he sends them to us.
Still, I know how hard poverty is, and it is a great grief to me that I
cannot help the poor as I should like to."

Marget took up the bag and went away. Mrs. Stein went back into the
sitting-room with a heavy heart; for she was fully convinced that
Elsli's fate was to succumb under the heavy load that poverty pressed
down upon her delicate frame; and, sighing deeply, she sat down by her
sister's side, intending to lay the case before her, and see what
impression Marget's words would make upon her; for aunty had always a
cheerful word to say and she took a bright view of possibilities. But,
before Emma could get through her confidences and give her mother a
chance to speak, Kathri put her head into the room with:--

"Here's another woman wants you; will you come out into the kitchen
again?"

"Another? who is it now?" asked her mistress in a weary tone.

"Oh, as if I could pronounce or remember such an outlandish name!"

"It can't be Mrs. Stanhope that you've left standing out in the
kitchen!" asked aunty, anxiously.

"Yes, that's it," said Kathri, adding impatiently: "If she'd only call
herself hop-stand or hop-pole or something sensible, I could remember
it; but to twist it upside down so, it's just nonsense."

However, Kathri thought she should never make a mistake in that name
again; for the picture of a hop-pole standing upside down would always
come up when she thought of it.

Mrs. Stein hastened out and asked her visitor to come into the parlor.
Mrs. Stanhope had come to inquire if it would be possible to find a
child to come between school-hours, twice a day, to do errands and small
household chores, such as the maid-servant could not find time for.

In a moment Elsli's pale face came up before Mrs. Stein's mind's eye,
and she thought how much better off the girl would be going on errands
for Mrs. Stanhope than carrying her big little brother about in her
arms. And she thought that if Marget could be sure of a little ready
money every day, she would manage to let Elsli go.

"I know of a very neat, respectable young girl, who would please you, I
am sure," she said; "only I am not quite sure whether her mother will
let her go, because she needs the child so much at home."

"Promise her good pay," said Mrs. Stanhope, eagerly. "I will give the
mother whatever she asks, if she will let me have the girl."

Mrs. Stein was so delighted with such a prospect for Elsli that she
started out immediately to see what Marget would say to it, accompanying
Mrs. Stanhope for some distance on her way home, and then turning off on
the lane that led to Heiri's cottage. Marget was alone, at the wash-tub.
It did not take much persuasion to obtain her consent, for of course the
money was a great inducement.

"It will not be for long," she said, "and the children must manage to
get along without Elsli." So it was settled that Elsli should go the
next day, at eleven o'clock, to Mrs. Stanhope's, to begin her new
duties.

Late that evening, when the two sisters sat down at the work-table
together, after the children were in bed, aunty repeated Emma's
confidences to her mother; how the visit to the sick girl had been a
complete failure, for Emma was sure that Nora did not care to have her
come again, any more than she herself cared to go; for she couldn't
think of anything to say, and Nora didn't want to talk either, and they
didn't like the same things at all.

Mrs. Stein was surprised and disappointed. Emma's stock of conversation
had never been known to give out before, and her mother had been
confident that her merry talk would be a real pleasure to the sick
child, and help to pass happily many a tedious hour of her long day;
and, on the other hand, she relied much on the benefit which her romping
little girl would receive from the refined and gentle Nora. She saw,
however, that there was nothing to be done about it, and that she could
only trust to time, which often works wonders when things seem hopeless.

"By and by, perhaps, they will come together. Children often do, just
when you least expect it," she said.

Her sister shook her head. "Emma and Nora were not made for each other,
any more than fire and water," she said; and then they quitted the
subject, and talked about Elsli's prospects, and rejoiced at the thought
that the days of servitude to her burdensome little brothers were over,
at least for the present.




CHAPTER VI.

AUNTY IS IN DEMAND AGAIN.


On the following day, at eleven o'clock, Elsli entered the house at
Oak-ridge as quietly as a little mouse; so quietly that Nora did not
hear her come into the house, and was startled when she suddenly saw her
standing just inside the door of the sitting-room. Elsli had brushed her
light brown hair carefully back from her forehead, leaving only a few
soft curls to wave about her eyes. Her mother had allowed her to put on
a fresh white apron and a bright kerchief, as she was going among the
gentry. The little pale face had a somewhat anxious look, and her big
blue eyes had a timid expression as she glanced toward Nora, doubting
whether she ought to come into the room or not.

"Come in," said Nora; "are you the girl who is coming to do our
errands?"

Elsli answered in so gentle a voice, and her whole air was so winning,
that Nora felt instantly drawn towards her, and she stretched out her
hand, saying, "Come here, and sit down by me, and let us have a little
talk. Isn't your name Elsli?" she continued; "mamma has some errands for
you this morning; sewing-silk and pencils and eggs to get; but can't you
sit down and talk with me a little first, or will that give you too
little time for them, so that you'll have to hurry and so you'll get
tired."

"Oh, no, the errands will not tire me," replied Elsli. "I get tired at
home, because I have to carry the little boys about so much."

"Then _you_ do know what it is to feel tired, very tired?"

"Yes, indeed, I know only too well. I am almost always tired, and
sometimes I think I should like to lie down and never get up again.
Hanseli is getting dreadfully heavy, and I can scarcely carry him any
longer, but he won't walk, and only screams and kicks if I put him
down."

"I'm glad to find somebody who knows what it is to be tired; now we can
talk about it, can't we? Don't you feel sometimes as if you never wanted
to stand up again, and wouldn't you like to have something happen that
would make you over new and take all the tired feelings away?"

"But nothing can happen; you only just have to get up again."

"I mean something different from usual; wouldn't you like to lie down
and die, Elsli?"

"Why, no; I don't think I should like to die. I never thought of that.
What makes you think of it?"

"I suppose you don't know what it will be like. Clarissa told me all
about it, and we have talked it over a great many times together. I
never talk to mamma about it, because she always begins to cry. But I
will tell you, and then you will be glad too to think about going to
heaven. I'll tell you the pretty song that Clarissa taught me. Would you
like to hear it now?"

Elsli would have been glad to hear the song, but at that moment Mrs.
Stanhope entered the room. She was much surprised to see the two little
girls already on such good terms, and still more so when Nora said:--

"Mamma dear, there is really no hurry about the silk and the pencils,
nor about the eggs either; I don't care for any of them just now; it
will do as well by and by. I'd rather have Elsli stay here with me."

Her mother was well pleased, and answered,--

"Certainly; Elsli can stay with you now; it will be time enough for the
errands when she comes in the afternoon."

The two children were equally delighted; Nora at the prospect of
pleasant intercourse to enliven her weary hours, and Elsli at the
thought of sitting in peace and quiet by this friendly new acquaintance.

As Mrs. Stanhope sat down with them, nothing more could be said about
the Song of Paradise, and Nora must put off till another time her
account of all that Clarissa had told her about the happiness of the
heavenly life. So at first there was silence between them, but then she
asked Elsli about her life at home, and Elsli told about her little
brothers and the baby, and then about Fani; and once started upon that
topic she hardly knew where to stop. She told how kind he was to her,
and how clever at his lessons, how he helped her with her exercises, and
she did not know how she could live without him. If she was ever so
tired and miserable, it always rested her and made her happy to have
Fani come home; for he was so full of hope and courage that it seemed as
if her burdens were lifted off, and she felt as gay as he did, while he
described the delightful things that they would do and see together some
day.

Mrs. Stanhope listened with pleasure to the soft-voiced child whose blue
eyes grew more and more tender as she talked on about her brother. As
for Nora, she did not lose a word of it all, and evidently lived it over
in imagination with the deepest interest, and when her mother said:--

"Now, Elsli, it is time for you to go; we shall expect you back at four
o'clock," Nora added:--

"And tell your mother that you will not be at home till eight; you will
have supper here."

With a happy heart the little maiden went off to school, and as soon as
school was over, she darted off, not even stopping to speak to Emma,
lest she should be detained. As she was hurrying along the path towards
Oak-ridge, she heard some one calling to her,--

"Wait, wait, I say; why don't you stop when I tell you to?" It was
Feklitus who was running after her:--

"I can't stop, I shall be late," called Elsli over her shoulder, and ran
on; Feklitus followed for a while, very angry, and sending fearful
threats after her; but he grew soon out of breath, and when he stopped
to catch his breath and cough, he saw that she was quite beyond the
reach of even his voice, and that farther chase was useless.

As for Elsli, she never drew a long breath till she had reached the
house at Oak-ridge. Nora had been watching for her from the window, and
she called out eagerly:--

"Come in, Elsli; come here and rest; you shouldn't run so hard." She
found Nora alone, and Nora told her, with great satisfaction, that her
mother had gone out for a walk at her request, and that they were to be
left together for the whole evening.

"So now," she added, "I shall have a chance to tell you a great deal
that you have never thought about; that is, how delightful it will be
when we leave earth and go to heaven. Oh! oh!" she continued, growing
more and more excited as she went on, "who can tell how beautiful it
will be? Far more lovely than anything we have ever seen; and there will
be no sick people there, and no one is tired there; everybody is happy,
and there is a river with flowers growing along its banks, and--but
wait; I will tell you Clarissa's song, and then you'll know about it."

Nora's great eyes grew more sparkling, and the red spot in her pale
cheeks burned more than ever, as she recited the Song of Paradise; while
Elsli listened with growing wonder to her excited tones. It seemed as if
she saw the beauty that the song described, and her voice trembled with
emotion. When she ceased with the last words, "The sick are well again,"
Elsli sat silent and motionless, oppressed with awe and with this wholly
new experience, while Nora seemed absorbed in her own thoughts.

"Don't you like the song?" asked she at last.

"Oh, yes, indeed!" said Elsli decidedly.

"Wouldn't you like to go with me, where it is so beautiful?"

"Are you going?" asked Elsli.

"Oh, yes, very soon. Clarissa told me long ago about it; and how Philo
went, and I should go too. She has talked to me again and again about
it; and I long to go, because no one is ever sick or tired there. And,
when I go, wouldn't you like to go with me, Elsli?"

"Yes, I should like it," said Elsli, catching the enthusiasm of the
beautiful hope which shone in Nora's eyes. "But can we go whenever we
want to?"

"Oh, no; the good God calls us when our turn comes. I only want to know
if you want to go, as I do, so that we can talk about it together. And
perhaps we shall be called at the same time; and how delightful it would
be to go together and walk in the bright gardens, and pick the roses and
lilies by the shining river, and never be sick or tired any more, but be
happy forever!"

So Nora talked on about the heavenly land, and Elsli's eyes grew larger
as the glories of the future life were pictured to her, and a wholly new
world opened before her. Time flew rapidly by, and they did not notice
its passage.

Meantime, in the house of Dr. Stein, life was moving on in a much more
lively manner. After school, Oscar, Emma, and Fred had started off, each
in a different direction. Each was occupied with his own plans. Fred
took the road towards home. He had a very interesting description of a
rare little animal to read to his aunt, and he was very glad that the
others were bound elsewhere, and he had the way clear before him. When
he saw Feklitus running after Elsli in hot haste, he called out, with a
sarcastic laugh:--

"Hallo, Feklitus! it's a fine thing to have somebody like Elsli to make
use of, isn't it?" For he had noticed that when Feklitus couldn't
understand anything in his lessons, he always went to Elsli secretly for
help, for he didn't want the big boys to know that he couldn't get along
without it.

Content with this scathing sarcasm, Fred ran on to the house, where
through the open door of the kitchen he saw his aunt standing by the
table, stirring something in a pudding-bowl. She was reading aloud from
a paper that lay on the table before her. "Take four large eggs, two
spoonfuls of flour, and the rind of a lemon"; and she started back as
Fred suddenly sprang in with a shout of delight at his good-fortune at
finding her alone. "This is splendid, aunty! Now, just hear this!"

He seated himself on a high stool, spread his book upon his knees and
began:--

"You know that papa once caught a bittern. Well, I want to read you a
description of it. The 'bittern, _Stellaris_,'--are you listening,
aunty?"

"Oh, yes, I'm listening. Go on."

"--'is of a reddish yellow color, with spots of black. It makes a
strange noise in the night; usually _Krawy! Krawy!_ but sometimes
_Uplumb! Uplumb!_ The hen lays four biggish eggs.' Do you know what I am
reading, aunty? What was the last thing?"

"Yes, yes, I heard. 'The hen lays four biggish eggs,'--two spoonfuls of
flour, and the rind of a lemon," said his aunt, unconsciously speaking
out what was on her mind.

Fred looked up anxiously, for she had spoken quite seriously, without a
trace of fun in her tones.

"Oh, I didn't mean that," she said, laughing, as she observed her
mistake. "I was only thinking more of my receipt than of your bittern,
Fred."

"I'm glad you don't really think that birds lay flour and lemon-peel,"
said Fred, and went on:--

"'The flesh tastes of--'"

But the description was interrupted. Oscar and Emma came bursting into
the kitchen together, and while Oscar stood as close to his aunt, as he
could, on the right, Emma pulled her head down on the left and began
whispering into her ear. Between the two, she had hard work to keep on
with her pudding.

"Only think, aunty," began Oscar, "Feklitus says now that he won't have
our motto on the banner, that he has heard another that he likes a great
deal better. What do you say, aunty? What shall we do about it? You know
how cross he is when he is opposed, and he'll break off altogether."

"Emma, do be still a moment; I will listen to you presently. Now, Oscar,
what is this verse that Feklitus proposes; let us hear it and see if it
is a good one."

    "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity;
    With song and the juice of the vine,"

repeated Oscar.

"Is that all?"

Oscar nodded.

"Well, we cannot put that on the banner, at any rate," said his aunt
decidedly. "Tell Feklitus that there isn't even a verb in that motto,
and it won't do. I advise you to ask him to make the speech at the
festival, and then perhaps he'll drop the question of the motto."

"What a splendid idea! We never even thought of a speech! that's just
the thing!" and Oscar rushed away in a state of great enthusiasm.

"Now, aunty," cried Emma, in a tone of relief as he disappeared, "it's
my turn now. Don't you think I am right?"

"I didn't hear exactly what you said, Emma," said her aunt; "I haven't
the gift of hearing different things with different ears at the same
time."

"What I say is that it's a shame for Fani to have to go to work in that
factory, and not have any time to paint and draw. I am sure he ought to
be a painter, right away; and if he goes into the factory he can't get
out till it's too late."

"But, Emma, it's not such an easy thing to become a painter as you seem
to think. And, then, who knows whether Fani has really talent enough;
it needs much more than merely to be able to copy nicely at school, you
know."

"But, aunty, I only want you to say that it would be much better for
Fani to be a painter, if he can, than to go into the factory. Now, don't
you really and truly think so, aunty?"

Emma was so pressing that her aunt could not avoid answering her; so she
said kindly, "If Fani had any real prospect of becoming a painter, I
should certainly think well of it; but I do not see that he has any."

"May I go on now, aunty?" asked Fred; "it seems to me that Emma is
talking a vast deal of nonsense, as usual."

But Emma was not to be put off so.

"Aunty," she said, "what is a decorator?"

"A person who decorates; that is, adorns or beautifies. Why do you ask,
my child?"

"It means a scene-painter too; a man who paints scenery for the stage,"
said Fred.

"Yes, that's it," said Emma, and she scampered away.

Fred sat silent for a while, and then he said:--

"Aunty dear, did you notice how queerly Emma behaved? Do you suppose she
is thinking of going on the stage?"

"No, indeed, my dear boy," said his aunt calmly; "she has no idea of
that kind, you may be sure."

"Well, take my word for it, she has something out of the way in her
head. She's not often very particular to know the meaning of a word;
she's not very keen after knowledge. I'm sure there's something in the
wind."

There was no time for more; for a sudden familiar shriek struck their
ears.

"A snake! oh, a snake! a snake!"

Fred clapped his hand to his pocket, and then ran out-of-doors.

"Now I can finish the pudding," thought aunty; but another still wilder
scream betokened such dire alarm that she threw down her spoon and
followed.

It was Rikli, of course, who was standing half-way down the steps
leading up to the back door, looking down on a pretty little green snake
on the step below, that was wriggling along as fast as possible, trying
to make its escape. Fred was seated quietly on the top step, waiting for
the noise to subside.

"How absurd you are, Rikli," said her aunt gently; "if you are so afraid
of that harmless little creature, why don't you turn round and run
away?"

"It will run after me, and catch me! it is a snake!" cried the child,
jumping up and down.

"Fred, take the little thing away," said his aunt; "I suppose it belongs
to you."

"Yes; I had it in my pocket, and I suppose it crept out while I was
reading. But I think Rikli ought to be taught not to behave so
ridiculously. I thought I'd wait a little while and see if she wouldn't
get over it."

Their aunt agreed that it was high time for Rikli to conquer her foolish
fears, but she doubted whether Fred's method was a very wise one.
Something must be done about it, but not just this; so she bade Rikli to
come up the steps, and Fred to carry off the offender, and let her
finish her pudding.




CHAPTER VII.

WHAT OSCAR FOUNDED AND WHAT EMMA PLANNED.


Feklitus took very kindly to the idea of making the speech at the
Musical Festival, and told his parents at once of the coming event. This
announcement made a great sensation in the household of Mr. Bickel, who
at once ordered a new suit and a new pair of boots for the boy; and both
parents determined to go and hear him speak. A change had come over the
boy since this proposal had been made to him. He became very silent and
went about with his head bowed and his brows knit as if oppressed with
heavy thoughts.

One afternoon he came out of school and made one great spring from the
upper step to the ground. It was not from joyfulness of heart that he
made this leap, but because the sudden pressure of those who came behind
him gave him an irresistible impulse, and he could not stop for the
single steps. He did not go on with the other boys, but turned round the
corner of the school-house, and waited there till all the girls had
passed out, in groups of two and three, and, last of all, Elsli came
hurrying along alone; she had been delayed by waiting to write out her
exercise for the next day. Suddenly she felt herself seized from behind
and held fast.

"Let me go, Feklitus," she cried; "I am in a hurry; Nora is waiting for
me."

"I want to ask you something first," said the boy, "and then you may
go."

He spoke in a masterful voice, and held fast to the child's frock.

"Tell me this; if you were going to make a speech at a musical
festival, how should you begin?"

"What a stupid question, Feklitus! when you know perfectly well that I
should never do such a thing!" And Elsli tried to pull her dress away
from the boy's hand; but he held her fast.

"I didn't say you would; but suppose you did,--you can suppose
anything,--how would you begin?"

"I don't know, I'm sure; I never thought anything about it in my life."

"Come, now, if you don't tell me, I'll keep you here till after dark.
Come; I'll just make a beginning, to start you. Begin: Highly respected
gentlemen and brothers--now, what next?"

"Let me go; I really ought to go. I have no idea what to say next."

"What an obstinate girl you are!" cried Feklitus angrily; "I'll punish
you for this before long; when you come into the factory, you'll catch
it; you see if you don't!"

This vague threat frightened Elsli the more from its very vagueness; so
she thought for a moment, and then began;--

"Highly respected gentlemen and brothers! Now that we have sung
together, let us rejoice together; and enjoy a long, long festival!"

As Elsli spoke, Feklitus relaxed his hold of her, as she had hoped he
would do; and instantly she darted away like an arrow shot from a bow;
and before Feklitus had recovered from his surprise, she had gone beyond
pursuit. The boy looked thoughtfully after her retreating figure for a
few moments, and then went towards home.

On the next Sunday the great Musical Festival was to take place; and the
banner would be ready but just in season. The day before, there was to
be a rehearsal of the performance, so that Feklitus might try his
speech, and the order of the procession be arranged. A table-cloth tied
to a pole was to take the place of the unfinished banner.

It is needless to say that there was but little appetite for dinner at
Dr. Stein's table on this Saturday; Oscar rose as soon as he could hope
to be excused, and Emma did not remain any longer. She had scarcely
taken her eyes from the clock since she sat down, and had answered at
cross purposes all dinner-time.

"What are you children about now, that you are in such a tremendous
hurry?" asked their father, as they were leaving the room. Emma did not
wait to answer.

But Oscar said:--

"You will see to-morrow. To-day we are going to put up the stand for the
speaker and to arrange the procession. You'll be surprised, I'm sure.
Of course you'll come and hear Feklitus speak?"

"With pleasure. Your mother and aunt will go too, I'm sure. Are you one
of the company, Fred?"

"No, indeed. I have more important things to interest me. It is of more
use to find and to study the smallest common frog than to attend a
thousand musical festivals."

Rikli started as if she thought he was going to produce a specimen of
frog from his pocket at that moment. Oscar cast a look of pity upon his
brother, and left the room.

That afternoon as Mrs. Stein and her sister sat out in the garden, with
their work-basket on the table between them, the former said:--

"It is singular how things repeat themselves. When the children tell us
how Feklitus is constantly running after Elsli, though no one can
understand why, it reminds me of times long ago when his father, stout
Fekli, used to pursue Gritli, and how she used to run on before him,
looking back now and then and calling out with a laugh:--

    "'Come and catch me if you dare,
    You big, heavy-footed bear,'"--

A piercing shriek broke in upon the laugh which followed the repetition
of this long-forgotten couplet, and they both sprang to their feet; but
immediately recognizing the voice, they sat quietly down again, and
resumed their work.

"It is only Rikli," said her mother; "she is always in a fright about
nothing."

"Fred is probably amusing himself at her expense with some beetle or
frog," said the aunt. "I can't help being sorry for the child, and it's
too bad of Fred; but it's useless to run to her every time she
screams."

Just then the sound of singing arose from the other side of the garden,
apparently trying to overpower the noise of the child's cry, and they
heard the words:--

    "Hanseli is a cry-baby,
      Rikli is another;
    She's so exactly like him
      That he must be her brother."

"That's Fred!" exclaimed Mrs. Stein. "So he is certainly not with
Rikli." And as the little girl's shrieks grew louder she began to think
something serious was the matter, and the two ladies started away in the
direction of the sound. Poor Rikli was indeed in a wretched plight. She
was standing in a ditch, covered quite to her neck in the muddy water,
and holding up her arms above her head, in an effort to protect it from
the many little green frogs that were sporting about her. Aunty reached
her first, and, taking the little girl by the arm, she quickly rescued
her from her uncomfortable position. As soon as Rikli found herself in
safety, she exclaimed reproachfully:--

"Why didn't you come when I called you first?"

They did not stop to answer her, but hurried her into the house, and
forthwith into the bath-tub without delay. After the necessary scrubbing
and cleansing were over, Rikli put her question again, and the
explanation she received was likely to impress upon her the folly of
unnecessary alarm, and the certainty that her cries would be unheeded as
long as she persisted in uttering them so needlessly.

All this time Oscar was occupied with assembling his chorus in the place
chosen for the festival, that the rehearsal might be conducted in due
order, except the currant-wine and gingerbread, which naturally were
reserved for the festival itself, which was to come off next day. The
stage was made of four posts, stuck into the ground, and covered with
boards.

The moment for beginning the performance arrived; Feklitus mounted the
platform.

"Highly respected gentlemen and brothers! now that we have sung together
so well, let us rejoice together; and celebrate the event with a great
feast, and all touch glasses together."

With these words, spoken in a loud but rather hurried voice, Feklitus
bowed to the company, and came down from the stage.

"Go on, go on with your speech!" shouted every one.

"Why, that's all; and then we must all touch glasses," said Feklitus,
who was quite satisfied and elated at having got through so well.

But at his words arose a great uproar; the boys wanted more, and
insisted on Feklitus' going on. Oscar alone said not a word; he was
transfixed with one thought, that had been suggested by the first words
of this brief speech. "Now that we have sung!" To be sure, it had not
occurred to him that to have a Musical Festival successful, there ought
to be some music. But it was not too late yet to repair the oversight.
Controlling his mortification at his blunder, he sprang to the platform,
and tried to call the attention of the noisy crowd.

"Here, fellows, listen to me! Be quiet! I want to tell you something
important!" and as the noise began to subside, he shouted:--

"We must have some singing! Who of you can sing? We'll find a song, and
then learn it. Who can sing?"

But no one came forward; no one could sing! Feklitus declared that there
was no need of singing; a speech, a procession, a banner, a collation;
why did they want anything else? But Oscar was determined to have a
song, and suddenly he thought of Fani. Where was Fani? He could sing,
and should sing. But Fani was not to be found, and soon the assembly
broke up; the members scattered, and the platform raised its head in
solitary grandeur.

Oscar ran home in a state of tremendous excitement. What would become of
his much-boasted festival if he could get no music for it? His father's
jests, Fred's air of superiority, all the mortifying consequences
rankled in his mind. Fani must be found, and if only he would lead, the
rest must somehow be got to join in.

As he reached the house, he met Emma just coming home.

"Where is Fani?" he asked. "Have you been putting him up to something
that has made him desert us and go off with you instead?"

Emma colored, but did not reply; she went on into the house, as if she
did not hear a word that Oscar said. As she came into the sitting-room,
Kathri opened the opposite door, saying:--

"Marget is here, asking if any one has seen Fani? she wants him in a
hurry, and has been hunting everywhere for him."

Emma's face and neck became flaming red; she seized her aunt's hand, and
drew her out of the room. Mrs. Stein went into the kitchen to see what
Marget's haste was. She learned that Mr. Bickel had just been to her
house to say that he wanted Fani immediately in the factory; he had a
place for him at once. He needn't leave school, but could come in the
afternoon and on holidays, and he would earn quite a good bit of money
directly. Marget had been trying in vain to find Fani, to come and talk
to her cousin; she was very much afraid that the great man would be
angry at being kept waiting, and Fani would lose the place.

Mrs. Stein told Marget that she would send Oscar to look everywhere for
the missing boy, and Marget went home.

Meantime, Emma had drawn her aunt into her own room, and as soon as they
were safely inside, with the door shut, she began in imploring tones:--

"Oh, aunty, help me! help me! so that no harm will come of it, and that
papa may not be angry with me, and make Fani's mother understand how
splendid it is going to be, and that Fani will be a great painter by and
by. He has gone to Basel to-day!"

"To Basel! I hope you are not in earnest, Emma!" said her aunt, much
disturbed.

"Yes, it is really true, aunty. Do go to Fani's mother and explain to
her that it's all right, and don't let her come to papa about it. I'll
tell you just how it was, and then you can tell Marget. I saw an
advertisement in a newspaper the other day, like this, 'A decorator in
Basel wants a lad, about twelve years of age, to do light work and learn
the business.' Then the address was given. I showed it to Fani, and we
both thought that it would be a good chance for him to learn to paint,
and at the same time to earn something, so that he needn't go into the
factory. Don't you remember that you said a decorator meant a
beautifier, and Fred said it meant a scene-painter? Fani can paint roses
and flowers and garlands, and he wanted awfully to go. At first he said
he must ask his mother; but then he thought it would be no use, because
she said painting was no work at all, but only nonsense. So we planned
that he should just go off; and then, if they asked where he was, I
should tell them; and as soon as he can, he is to write and tell them
that he is going to be a painter."

"This is terrible!" exclaimed her aunt.

"You've done great mischief, Emma. What will become of him, and how will
he get to Basel without money?"

Emma said she had given him all her own money, and he could certainly
reach Basel, and if only aunty would go and tell his mother about it,
all would be right. Aunty lost no time. She went directly to Heiri's
cottage, and met Mr. Bickel coming out from the door-way.

"As I have said," was his closing remark, "I will soon put a stop to his
loafing; for I will cut off his wages every hour that he idles."

"You can't cut down his wages, Cousin Bickel, before he begins to have
any," said Marget to herself as Mr. Bickel marched off with his most
important air.

Aunty went into the little house. The outer door opened into the
kitchen, and beyond was the living-room. The door between stood open,
and through it could be seen two very old cradles, and the wash-tub
stood near the door in the kitchen, so that as she stood at her work
Marget could watch the three little boys and the baby at the same time.
Although Hans was now two years old, he still had a cradle, which served
as a bed at night, and as a means of quieting him by day. Whenever he
set up his accustomed scream, his mother laid him into the cradle,
where, soothed by the rocking motion, he soon fell asleep. The two older
brothers, Rudi and Heirli, standing one each side of the cradle, pushed
it back and forth with great good-will.

Aunty sat down by the wash-tub, and, after begging Marget to go on with
her work, she began gently to unfold her story, winding up with the
offer of writing immediately to Basel, to find out how Fani was
situated, and on what terms his master had taken him. Then, if
everything was not satisfactory, he could be brought home again. In
Marget's ears still lingered her Cousin Bickel's threat about cutting
down wages. Perhaps Fani wouldn't earn much at the factory after all. If
he were in Basel, she should not have his food to provide, and if he
could earn enough to clothe himself while learning a trade, it would
probably be better than he could do at home, and no trouble to her
either. As these calculations passed through Marget's mind, she
concluded not to oppose the boy's wishes, and she assured her visitor
that his father would be satisfied if the doctor's family thought it a
good arrangement, and would some of them look after the boy a little. It
was a great relief to Emma's kind aunt that so little blame was likely
to attach to the girl for the consequences of her rash advice; and now
she concluded her visit with some inquiries about Elsli. Marget's report
was favorable. Elsli spent all her time out of school at Oak-ridge, and
was very happy in her work. Marget got along very well with the
children, and certainly the liberal pay which Elsli brought home every
day was a great gain; to say nothing of many clothes which the sick
child could not use, and which would clothe Elsli for a long time to
come. All this was pleasant tidings, and aunty went home with a much
lighter heart. About half-way home she met Oscar coming to meet her. He
darted towards her, and at once began to pour out the story of the
unlucky musical festival; how he had entirely forgotten that there must
be music, and how he dreaded the ridicule he should encounter when the
mistake was discovered. He saw but one means of escape; if he could
change the name of the festival, so that no music need be expected;
then, by altering the motto a little, and changing some words in the
speech--didn't aunty think it could be done?

No; she did not think that idea practicable. "You see, Oscar," she said,
"a celebration must celebrate something, an anniversary or some
interesting event. As there is nothing of the kind in this case, I
really think your only course, since you have no music ready, is to give
up the festival entirely for the present, and wait till you have
something to celebrate."

Poor Oscar! he was terribly disappointed; yet he could not but
acknowledge that his aunt was right, and he followed her into the house,
dreading his father's questions and the discovery that was sure to
follow. Supper was just ready as they entered the house, so that Emma
could not satisfy her eager desire to know the result of her aunt's
mission; so that she, as well as Oscar, sat at the table in troubled
silence, both absorbed in secret fears, and both hoping, if they did not
speak, that they should escape being spoken to. Fred noticed their
unusual demeanor, and presently he remarked, slyly:

"There is a bird called the ostrich, _Struthio_ which has a habit of
hiding its head in the sand, believing that, in so doing, he conceals
himself from the hunter. This bird is sometimes seen in this
neighborhood, and his usual food is potato-salad."

Oscar took no notice of this bit of sarcasm, but remained intent on his
potato-salad; but his father, who was watching him, laughed and said:--

"Is he overpowered by the pleasures of the approaching festival?"

As no farther questions followed, and the supper went on without any
inquiries about Fani, both Oscar and Emma rose from the table with
easier minds. The danger was not yet over, of blame for Emma and
ridicule for Oscar; but they had gained time, and they breathed more
freely as they turned again to their aunt for help and advice.




CHAPTER VIII.

AT SUNSET.


Elsli continued to go daily to the little invalid, and, from the first
visit, she had been a dear friend and companion to the sick girl, who
would not hear of her going on errands, but kept her by her own side
from the moment she came, till it was time to go home. Mrs. Stanhope,
whose only object in life was her little girl's happiness, was more than
pleased with this arrangement; and watched with delight as Nora grew,
from day to day, more cheerful and even lively in the companionship of a
girl of her own age. And Elsli, too, profited by the intercourse; she
was of a yielding nature and easily took new impressions, and now that
she passed all her time in refined society, she insensibly grew into its
likeness; and her voice, her manners, her way of speaking, all seemed
assimilated to those of a very different way of life from that to which
she had been accustomed. Was it that this new way was really more suited
to her nature than the old?

The two girls studied together every day Elsli's lessons for the morrow,
greatly to the pleasure and advantage of both. To Elsli especially, it
was a new and delightful sensation to go to her class with a perfectly
prepared lesson, and to hear the praises which the teacher daily
bestowed upon her improvement; while Nora, whose invalidism had long cut
her off from her books, found a fresh zest in resuming her studies with
her eager friend. After lessons came supper, and then the evening with
its long talks. These were generally about the beautiful country, to
which Nora hoped soon to go, and where Elsli followed her in sympathetic
thought. One regret began to dim Nora's satisfaction at the prospect;
the thought that they couldn't go together; and Elsli would say, sadly,
"If you should go and leave me here alone, how could I bear it?"

At last September came, with its cool but sunny days. One evening, as
the children sat at the window looking across the meadows towards the
setting sun; from a dark cloud that hung in the western sky, a great
flood of shining light suddenly poured down across the valley,
illuminating the trees, the grass, and the shrubs with its dazzling
radiance.

"Look! look!" cried Nora, "that is the crystal stream! there it comes
rolling toward me! Oh, I wish I could go there now! It is certainly the
promised land, where we all shall be so happy. Come nearer to me,
Elsli. I feel so weak I cannot sit up alone."

Elsli sat close by her, and drew the tired head to rest upon her
shoulder; and so the two friends sat, silently gazing at the wonderful
sight, until at last the sun disappeared behind the woods, and slowly
the mists of evening filled the valley, and all the glory was over.

But for Nora it had only just begun. When her mother came in from the
next room, she thought her little girl was asleep on Elsli's shoulder.
She was asleep, indeed; but she would never awaken on earth. Mrs.
Stanhope took her in her arms, and burst into tears.

"Run, Elsli, for the doctor, as fast as you can!" cried she, and Elsli
ran. The doctor was not at home, but Mrs. Stein soon saw the truth, from
Elsli's answers to her many questions.

"Dear little Nora!" she said sadly. "Her sufferings are over forever.
She has gone to heaven to be at rest."

Elsli stood as if struck by lightning.

"Is she gone? Is Nora really gone to heaven?" she exclaimed, and then
she burst into tears, and trembled so that she could scarcely stand.

"My dear child," said the doctor's wife tenderly, taking Elsli by the
hand, "come and sit down with me a little while, till you feel better."

But Elsli could not. She covered her face with her apron, and ran out of
the house, crying bitterly.

"Oh, how could she go and leave me behind?" she kept saying to herself
as she hurried back to Oak-ridge. She found Mrs. Stanhope still bending
over Nora, and sobbing as when she left her. Elsli seated herself on
Nora's footstool, and wept in silence. It was not long before the
doctor came. He bent over the child's form a moment, and then turned to
the mother.

"Mrs. Stanhope," he said, and his tones were very tender, "I can do
nothing. Your little girl is gone. I will send my wife to you."

Mrs. Stein came, but her words brought no comfort to the bereaved
mother. She heard nothing; she saw nothing but the quiet little form
that lay lifeless before her. When Mrs. Stein was convinced that she
could be of no use to her, she went across the room to Elsli, who sat
weeping on the footstool by the window, and taking her by the hand, she
led her out of the room, saying gently:--

"Now it is best for you to go home, my dear. We will not forget you, and
remember that our Father in heaven never forgets his children. Think how
well and happy Nora is! She will never be ill again, in that land where
the weary are at rest."

"If she had only taken me with her," moaned poor Elsli, and when Mrs.
Stein left her, as their ways parted, she could hear the sobbing child
for a long time as she slowly walked, with her apron over her eyes,
along the lane that led to her home.

At home, Mrs. Stein found the children grouped about their aunt, who was
telling them about Nora. Fred had many questions to ask about death, and
how people can die and come to life again. Emma was much depressed, for
she felt, now that it was too late, that she had not done anything to
make Nora's illness more cheerful.

That evening Mrs. Stein and her sister were full of anxious thought.
They felt keen sympathy with the sorrowing mother at Oak-ridge, and they
talked a great deal about the blow that had fallen upon poor little
Elsli. She had not only lost a friend whose companionship had brought
her new life, but she must now go back to the hard and uncongenial labor
from which she had had a brief and blessed respite. Fani too, the only
bright spot in her dark lot, was away now, and who could tell when she
would have him again? Indeed, Fani's fate was also a source of anxiety,
especially on account of Emma's share in his disappearance. Would all
turn out right for the boy? Would he get a suitable education, and what
sort of a future lay before him? The information they had obtained from
Basel had not proved perfectly satisfactory. The scene-painter had, to
be sure, taken Fani into his service, but the boy had nothing to do with
the painting but to clean up the brushes and palettes, and grind the
colors; and, although he had his board and lodging from his master, he
must pay for his clothes himself. It was not a very promising outlook
for Fani. His parents were willing to have him stay away from home, but
they expected him at least to support himself, if not to send them some
money occasionally. Mrs. Stein could not decide what ought to be done,
and all this new care would have been a very heavy burden to bear, if
her sister had not lightened it by her sympathy and encouragement.
Aunty's cheerful spirit always inspired hope and confidence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning, Emma, with a downcast air, asked leave to take some
flowers over to lay upon the bed by Nora. Her mother was glad to let her
go, and glad too that Fred offered to accompany his sister. The children
were admitted to the house, and shown into the room where Nora lay upon
a snow-white bed; herself as white and cold as marble.

Mrs. Stanhope was kneeling by the bedside, her face buried in the
coverlet. Emma laid her flowers upon the bed, and, with fast flowing
tears, looked upon the peaceful face, and remembered sadly that she had
not done a friendly act for the little invalid, nor helped to wile away
her lonely hours. She left the room sorry and ashamed, regretting her
selfishness, when it was too late to do any good.

A little while after, Mrs, Stein came softly into the quiet room. Mrs.
Stanhope raised her head, and, as she returned the kindly greeting, her
grief broke out, and she exclaimed with sobs:--

"Oh, if you knew how miserable I am! Why--ah, why! does God take from me
my only child? Fortune and lands, everything else he might have taken,
if he would only have left me my child! This is the very hardest fate
that could have befallen me! Why must I suffer more than any one else in
the world?"

"Dear Mrs. Stanhope," said the doctor's wife, as she took the poor
lady's hand and pressed it tenderly in her own; "I feel for your sorrow,
but I beg you to think of what your child has gained. God has taken her
to himself, and she is free from pain and weariness forevermore, in his
sheltering arms. You do not know what poverty means! Think of the many
mothers who only see their children grow up to hard labor, and suffer
for want of food and clothing. Take the sorrow that God has sent you; do
not try to measure it with that of others; the sorrow that comes to each
seems the heaviest for each to bear. But our Father knows why he has
given each row, and the road he leads us is the one best for us to
follow."

Mrs. Stanhope became more tranquil as these words fell on her ear, but
her face still wore an expression of inconsolable grief. She was silent
a few moments, and then she told Mrs. Stein that she meant to take Nora
home and lay her beside the little boy in the garden by the Rhine, and
that she should send to her true friend and house-keeper Clarissa to
come at once to Oak-ridge to make the preparations for their return, and
accompany her on her painful journey. This arrangement was a great
relief to Mrs. Stein, who returned home with an easier mind, and
hastened to impart this bit of good news to her sister. But aunty was
nowhere to be found, and Emma, who was sitting alone in an unusually
subdued mood, told her mother that she was probably with Fred, who had
been looking for her, "to show her a beetle or some such thing," she
supposed! So Mrs. Stein sat down with her little girl, who wanted to ask
her questions about Nora. Emma longed to hear that Nora had not suffered
from her neglect, and had been contented and happy without her; for she
had been feeling more and more how selfish she had been in never
repeating her first visit, merely because she had not herself enjoyed
it, never thinking what she might have done for poor sick Nora.

Fred had sought his aunt for a long time, and when he found her he
carried her off to a remote part of the garden, where stood a lonely
summer-house. There he drew her down beside him on a bench, and said he
had something to say to her alone.

"Do you know, aunty, I saw Nora to-day, and she is dead; and I cannot
see how she can come to life again, and go to heaven."

"You cannot understand that, Fred? Neither can I. But the good God does
many things which we cannot understand, and yet we know they are. And as
we are told by One whom we can trust that we shall live again after our
body dies, we must believe it. I believe it, Fred, with all my heart."

"But," argued Fred, "I have always thought that life is the same in men
as in animals, and when an animal dies, it can never be made alive
again. I have noticed that myself."

At this moment, the conversation was interrupted, for they saw the
doctor in the garden, and aunty hastened to join him, as she had
promised to visit his cauliflowers with him this evening.

Fred sat still lost in thought; he did not care for cauliflowers.




CHAPTER IX.

A LAST JOURNEY AND A FIRST.


A large travelling-carriage passed by the door of the doctor's house, in
which sat alone, a lady clothed in black. It was Clarissa, who had come
to carry little Nora to her home by the Rhine. The doctor's four
children were standing in the garden, and they watched it as it passed,
thinking what a sad journey its occupant must have had. Their aunt stood
at an upper window watching it also, and as it disappeared round the
corner she beckoned Fred to come up to her in his room. He came running
up the stairs.

"See, Fred! I am clearing your room up a little. There are a great many
useless things here; why should you keep them? See; in this box is a
dead creature; let's begin with this, and throw it away"; and as she
spoke she carried the box towards a window.

"What are you doing, aunty?" cried the boy. "That is my very best
chrysalis; it will turn into a beautiful moth by and by; one of the
finest of our butterflies, with wonderful marks on its wings."

"What nonsense!" said his aunt. "This little creature is utterly dead;
don't you see it is stiff and motionless."

"Don't you know about caterpillars, aunty dear?" exclaimed the boy,
holding fast to his box. "I'll tell you about it. This is a chrysalis;
and it seems entirely dead, but it's only the outside that is dead.
Inside, where we cannot see it, lies something that is alive; and by and
by, when the time comes, this shell will be cast off, for there will be
no farther use for it, and out will fly a new lovely creature with
exquisite wings."

"But, Fred, I don't understand how that can be possible! How can a poor
worm, that only crawls about all its life, die, and then suddenly turn
into a beautiful new creature with wings, and fly away leaving its old
body behind? Do you understand it, Fred?"

"No, I don't understand it, but I know it's so."

"Well, my dear boy," said his aunt, seriously, "what if there was
something hidden within little Nora, which was alive too, and which,
leaving the poor dead shell behind, has flown on shining wings away to
distant heights, where it is entering on a new and happy life!"

Fred stood thoughtful a few moments, and then said, "I never thought of
it in that way, aunty. Now I shall have a very different idea about
Nora. How glad she must be to fly away on her new wings from the sick
body in which she was imprisoned! Are not you glad, aunty, that you know
about the chrysalis, and isn't it wonderful?"

"It certainly is; and it teaches us that there are many things about us
that we cannot understand, and yet which are true, though no one can
explain them. So by and by, Fred, when you are a learned man, as I hope
you will be, when you come to something you cannot understand in nature,
you must say modestly, 'This is beyond my powers of explanation; this is
the work of God'; and so stand reverently before his greatness, that is
about and above us all."

Fred handled his chrysalis with respect as he laid it away with his
other treasures. A new thought had come to him about that and about
other things.

Clarissa had arrived; but her coming did not bring comfort to the
sorrowing mother; on the contrary, it seemed only to renew her grief.
Clarissa would have been glad to hear all about her darling's last days,
and how the end came, but the mother could not bear any allusion to the
subject, and Clarissa kept silence. She consoled herself by looking at
Nora's peaceful face, that seemed to have a message of comfort for her.
When she heard that Elsli had been alone with Nora when she died, she
was very anxious to see the girl, and sent for her to come and speak
with her. When Elsli came into the pleasant room where she had passed so
many happy days, and glanced towards the empty window-seat, she was
overcome with fresh grief. Clarissa took her by the hand, and, drawing
her to a seat by her side, immediately began to ask about Nora; and soon
Elsli was pouring out her whole heart; and she told Clarissa all that
she and Nora had said to each other about the heavenly land, and she
repeated the hymn that Nora had taught her. Then she told how quietly
Nora had left her at last, and said that she hoped to follow her soon
into her beautiful home.

Clarissa hung upon every word that fell from Elsi's lips with gratitude
and satisfaction. It was she who had taught Nora that hymn as she sat
upon her knees when she was a very little child, and as she heard it
repeated now it was with the same tones, the same motions of hand and
head that the child had used who learned it from her own lips; it seemed
to Clarissa as if Nora lived again in Elsli. Weeping with mingled joy
and sorrow, she went in search of Mrs. Stanhope.

"Surely," she exclaimed, "this child is the image of our darling; it is
her sister, with her voice, her words, her very thought. This, too, is
our child."

Mrs. Stanhope roused herself for a moment to listen to Clarissa's words,
but she was not moved by them; she threw herself again on her bed and
would not be comforted. Clarissa was not disheartened by this
indifference; she was so completely impressed herself by the wonderful
resemblance between the children that she led Elsli into the room where
the hopeless mother lay in full indulgence of her grief, and said:--

"I bring you this little girl, Mrs. Stanhope; for I look upon her as a
legacy that our Nora has left us."

Mrs. Stanhope looked for a moment into the girl's face; then she
suddenly kissed her and said:--

"Elsli, Nora loved you, and you loved her. You shall stay with me
always"; and they all three wept together, but there was healing in the
tears.

Like one in a dream Elsli went home that day. She understood, but not
wholly, what had happened. She had believed that Nora would ask her
heavenly Father to call her to heaven, and would come herself to meet
her; and now it seemed as if she had already come to meet her to lead
her elsewhere than to heaven.

Clarissa went to make the arrangements with Marget, about which there
was no difficulty whatever. For as soon as Marget understood that not
only was Elsli to be provided with a home for life, but that the help
which she might have afforded her parents as she grew older was to be
made good to them, she was overjoyed. She said that Elsli was not fit
for hard work, and that the care of the little boys was quite beyond
her, especially since Hans was growing more and more troublesome. So she
gladly agreed to let her go, with the understanding that she should
return home at least once a year for a visit.

In an incredibly short time the whole village was in possession of the
news that the wealthy Mrs. Stanhope had offered to take Elsli home with
her, and to keep her as her own child always; and that they were to
start for the villa on the Rhine the very next day. The excitement
produced by this news was intense. Wherever two neighbors met on the
road, they stopped to talk over the good-luck that had happened to
Elsli. In the school, the children could not keep quiet, so great was
their interest in the event. Even Mr. Bickel was moved to make an
unheard-of effort He took his big stick in his hand, saying:--

"Wife, we ought to go and call on Mrs. Stanhope, and apprise her of our
relationship with that girl Elsli. If she needs any advice about the
child, I am the proper person to give it. Perhaps we shall be asked to
make our cousin a visit, when she is settled there by the Rhine; there
are great factories of all kinds there, and perhaps Mrs. Stanhope may
have some connection with them, and that may help us in our business."

But Mr. Bickel had to lay aside his stick again, for his wife was not
ready to go to make so important a visit at so short notice.

If there was excitement elsewhere, at the doctor's house there was a
real jubilee. The mother and the aunt were filled with thankfulness that
the delicate girl had fallen into such good hands, where she would be
loved and cared for, and where her natural refinement would have every
chance of development. All the family were full of pleasure and
anticipations of great things in the future.

Oscar went about all day, lost in thought. He was trying to turn this
new state of things to account; for it was a great trial to him that the
beautiful embroidered banner had had to be laid aside; and he was
determined, if possible, to find some use to put it to. Emma, too, was
evidently preoccupied, and Fred said to himself, as he saw her knitted
brows, "She's got some scheme working in her brain." As for Fred
himself, he sat deeply engaged in making long lists of all the
caterpillars, beetles, snails, and other similar creatures that he knew
were to be found in the neighborhood of the Rhine. To make assurance
doubly sure, he put the Latin name under the common name of each.

That evening Elsli was sitting on the long bench at home, quite hidden
by the three little brothers, who had taken complete possession of her.
She bore the infliction patiently, for she knew it was the last time,
at least for many months. She had begun to realize her good fortune, and
to rejoice in the prospect before her. Clarissa had completely won her
heart; and the child could talk to her freely and without reserve, as
she had never spoken to any one before, except Nora. She did not feel so
much at ease with Mrs. Stanhope, but she loved her as Nora's mother, and
Mrs. Stanhope was kind to her, but not like Clarissa. Elsli puzzled her
mind a good deal about the sort of life she was to lead in her new home;
and as to whether she should be able to do all that was required of her,
and to do it properly. But more than all, she was worried about Fani,
from whom she was now so completely separated, and whom she might not
see again for long years. As she sat pondering on these problems, she
was totally unconscious that Hanseli was pulling and kicking her in the
old style, when Emma suddenly came into the room.

"Elsli," she cried, breathlessly, before she had fairly passed the
threshold, "you are going away to-morrow, and I have something very
important to say to you. Put the boys down, and come with me; do."

"Hanseli will scream if I do," said Elsli, and he did scream; but Emma
took him without ceremony from his sister's arms, setting him on the
ground with no gentle hand; and before the frightened child had
recovered from his surprise, she had dragged Elsli away round the corner
of the house to a secluded place behind the big apple-tree.

"Here, I want you to take this with you," she began, holding out a thick
roll of paper, "and I want to tell you that you are going to pass
through Basel on your way."

"Are you sure?" asked Elsli, with sparkling eyes.

"Yes, yes, I am sure; and now listen. Tell Mrs. Clarissa that Fani is in
Basel, and that you want to see him. I know she will take you, she is so
kind. Then you give him this roll, and tell him that I sent it, and that
I hope he is well. Here is his address."

"Oh, how glad I am!" cried Elsli. "Do you really think I ought to ask
Mrs. Clarissa to take me to Fani?"

"Of course you ought; only think how pleased he will be to see you.
Promise, Elsli,--" but before Elsli could answer, Oscar came round the
corner; and, spying Elsli, he seized her by the hand, exclaiming:--

"I've been hunting for you everywhere; and I've found you at last! Come
with me; I want to tell you something!"

He drew her away to the other side of the house, and stopped by the
hazelnut hedge; Emma did not follow them, for fear of vexing her
brother. She had sent to Fani, by Elsli, all the white paper and all the
pencils that she could collect in the children's room at home, and she
thought it but prudent to keep out of Oscar's way.

"Now, attend to what I am going to say, Elsli," began Oscar, seriously;
"it is something very important for you to know. You are going to
foreign parts, where you will have no friends; I mean no acquaintances
among people in general. But no doubt there will be some Swiss there,
and you can form a society of our countrymen, that can meet every week,
and talk over all the news from their own country."

"Yes, but I shouldn't know what to say," said Elsli, very much
perplexed.

"Never mind, the others can do the talking," said the boy, eagerly;
"but now comes the really important part of it. Next summer, when you
are coming home again, you must agree upon some convenient place where
all the members of the society shall meet Then crowds of people will
collect from all sides, and I will be there with my beautiful banner,
and we will have a procession and a great celebration of the first
anniversary. Be sure to write me the date of the foundation, Elsli!"

"Yes, I will certainly," assented Elsli, but her tone was less decided
than her words, for she was anything but clear as to how the society
could be formed, or why it should be formed at all. Further questions
were, however, impossible, for at this moment Fred appeared with Rikli
in his wake, and a long strip of paper in his hand. Oscar vanished.

"Now, Elsli, read this," said Fred.

"Here are the names of all the beautiful caterpillars, and rare beetles
and snails, that you are likely to find where you are going. I want you
to hunt in all the hedges, and stir up the earth now and then in your
walks. Then the fellows will turn up, and you can collect them, and send
me the finest specimens. You will, won't you? I'll send you something
pretty in return. You can put them right into your pocket, you know,
until you get home from your walk, and hold the pocket together _so_,--;
so that they won't crawl out"; and Fred pinched up his pocket-hole so
that no kind of a crawling thing could have escaped from it. Rikli
shuddered all over.

Elsli was very willing to do Fred this service, but she did not really
see how, any more than in Oscar's case; but she said, modestly:--

"I will do my best, Fred; but how am I to know the creatures whose
names are on your list?"

This was a sensible question, and Fred could not help seeing the
importance of it; but he was not to be deterred by a slight obstacle. He
looked again at his lists.

"Suppose I should draw a figure of each creature against its name!" he
said to himself. "I will come to see you to-morrow morning, before you
go away," he said to Elsli, and was off.

Little Rikli, whose lesson had been learned at such a severe cost, was
quite cured of her foolish screaming whenever Fred came near her with
his dear little insects; but she watched his every motion, lest his fist
or his pockets should disgorge some green-eyed frog or other equally
unpleasant treasure. Her big brother had, however, a great fascination
for the child, who followed him everywhere like his shadow. She now
came nearer to Elsli, and said, entreatingly:--

"Don't send the nasty things alive, will you, Elsli, dear? You'll stuff
them first, won't you?"

Just then, who should make his appearance but Feklitus, in his very best
Sunday suit, and at the same moment Marget's voice was heard from the
cottage, calling in a tone loud enough to sound above Hans' screams:--

"Elsli, where are you? It's strange that you can't stay in the house two
minutes at a time to-day."

Rikli ran away; but Feklitus seized Elsli by the arm and held her fast.

"I want to go to see the lady at Oak-ridge," he said, roughly. "I am
your cousin, and I want to tell her so, and that some time or other we
mean to come and visit you down there by the Rhine; but I'm not going
alone, and you've just got to come with me."

"Let me alone; don't you hear that I am wanted in the house!" And Elsli
tried to free herself from his hold.

"You shall come," said the boy; and he grasped Elsli still more firmly,
and dragged her away with him.

Oscar, Emma, Fred, and Rikli all met with the same reception from Kathri
on their return home; she stood on the front porch, and said to one
after another as they came up, in a warning whisper:--

"Hush, hush! don't make a noise! Mrs. Stickhop is in the parlor, come to
say good-bye."

Poor Elsli did not sleep much that last night at home. She was excited
by all the last words and commissions and leave-takings of her friends,
and oppressed by the thought of what was before her on the morrow, and
it was in a half-dreamy state that early on the following morning she
began her journey, with Mrs. Stanhope and Clarissa, in the large
carriage, along the high road, through the country that lay still in the
dawning light. Suddenly a folded paper, weighted with a small stone,
flew through the air into the carriage window.

"Good-bye, Elsli. I wish I could go with you," cried a voice from the
road-side. It was Fred, who had not been able to finish his work before,
and who had only painted his last snail just in season to throw his now
illustrated list after Elsli.

This last greeting brought the tears to Elsli's eyes. She seemed now
fully to realize that she was leaving home, leaving all who had ever
known and loved her. Clarissa saw it all, and, taking Elsli's hand in
hers, she expressed, by the warm grasp that she gave her, a mother's
sympathy and love.

For the next week the doctor's family were busy talking over and over
all the events of the past few weeks, from the arrival of little Nora to
Elsli's final departure. On the tenth day came a long letter from Elsli,
which gave food for farther conversation. The mother and the aunt and
the four brothers and sisters were all equally impatient to know the
contents. The letter was addressed to Emma, who knew it from its
envelope, opened it out, and exclaimed with delight:--

"It is eight pages long! I will read it aloud to you"

     ROSEMOUNT ON THE RHINE, Sept. 28, 18--.

     DEAR FRIEND,--Thank you a thousand times for your good advice, for
     without it I should never have dared to say a word about Fani.

     But I will begin at the beginning and tell you everything as it has
     happened. When Fred said good-bye and I drove away from you all, I
     had to cry a little! But Aunt Clarissa--this is what I am to call
     her always--was very kind, and talked to me, and bade me tell her
     everything that troubled me. Mrs. Stanhope shut her eyes and lay
     back in the carriage, so still that I thought she was asleep, so I
     thought it was a good time to tell Aunt Clarissa all about Fani, as
     you advised. She didn't even know that there was such a person, so
     I had to tell her everything that had happened, and how long it was
     since I had seen him. She said of course I must see him in Basel,
     and that we should have plenty of time, as we were not going
     farther than that, that day. She said she would go with me to find
     him, and that Mrs. Stanhope would be perfectly willing. When we
     reached Basel we went to a big hotel. I never saw anything like it
     before. I could scarcely eat my dinner for joy that I was going to
     see Fani again. Directly after dinner Aunt Clarissa told Mrs.
     Stanhope that we wanted to go to see my brother, and Mrs. Stanhope
     said she would go with us, as she did not want to stay alone.

     We went across a long bridge, over a river, and quite a distance
     further. At last we came to some small houses, and we began to
     inquire for the painter Schulz. There we were right before his
     house. Mrs. Stanhope opened the door and went right into the
     work-shop, and we followed her. Fani sprang up with a great cry of
     joy, and threw his arms round Mrs. Stanhope, and his eyes were full
     of tears, for he was terribly homesick, and had never seen any one
     from home since he went away. Then he caught sight of me, and he
     was gladder still; and he wasn't the least shy with Mrs.
     Stanhope--you know he never is--but he put his arms round her
     again, and exclaimed:--

     "Oh, you don't know how glad I am to see some one from home!"

     You can't imagine how kind she was to him. At last she told Fani to
     call his master, and when the man came she went out into another
     room to talk with him. After a while she came back, and then, what
     do you think? She asked Fani if he would not like to go and live
     with me at her house! I can't begin to tell you how I felt. At
     first I could scarcely breathe for joy, and then I began to think I
     must have made a mistake; it couldn't be true. But Fani cried out
     with delight, and he seized Mrs. Stanhope's hand and looked at her
     so beseechingly, and he promised to work as hard as he could, and
     do everything to please her if he might only go. "You shall," she
     said; and then she told him when to meet us at the railroad next
     day. What a promise for Fani and me!

     As we were going back to the hotel, Mrs. Stanhope said to Aunt
     Clarissa, "Did you notice the resemblance? Doesn't he look at you
     out of his big brown eyes just as my Philo did?" Aunt Clarissa saw
     the likeness too, and said that was the reason that she took a
     fancy to Fani the moment she saw him. You see, Philo was Nora's
     little brother. In the evening, Mrs. Stanhope spoke several times
     about the likeness, and it was the first time that she had talked
     with us at all. All that night I kept thinking it was too good to
     be true; it must be a dream; but the next morning, when we got to
     the railroad station, there was Fani, and he had been waiting three
     hours, ever since six o'clock. Mrs. Stanhope laughed a little at
     his impatience--it was the first time she had laughed at all.

     All day long we travelled in the railway carriage, and Fani was as
     happy as he could be. When we stopped at a station, and Aunt
     Clarissa was going to get out and fetch us something to eat, Mrs.
     Stanhope stopped her and said: "No, no; we have an escort now, he
     must wait upon us." Then she explained to Fani what he was to do,
     and you ought to have seen how he ran about and did it all so
     handily, and he kept looking at Mrs. Stanhope to see if she was
     pleased; and she was pleased, that was plain enough. In the evening
     we stopped at Mainz on the Rhine, and Mrs. Stanhope said we should
     see the river in the morning. And the next day, what do you think?
     we went on a splendid steamboat; no one can possibly understand it
     without seeing it. Fani was like a crazy creature all day, he was
     so wild with delight; and Mrs. Stanhope let him run about all over
     the boat and look at everything. Sometimes I didn't see him for an
     hour at a time! By and by he came and took your present, and said
     he was going to draw everything that he had seen, and just how the
     whole boat was arranged, so that he should never forget it. And he
     wants me to thank you a great deal for the beautiful present. I
     forgot to say that before.

     In the evening, when we left the boat, we found a carriage and a
     wagon waiting for us. We drove for half an hour or more, and then
     we came to Mrs. Stanhope's house. It is a large house, standing in
     the middle of a garden, and with large trees about it. When we got
     out of the carriage, Fani whispered to me, "Do you suppose I shall
     work in the stables or in the garden?" Of course I couldn't tell
     him; I did not even know what I was to do myself. But nothing has
     turned out as we thought it would. At first Mrs. Stanhope was so
     sad that we did not see her at all for three days. Aunt Clarissa
     was just as kind as she could be. She took us all about the garden
     and showed us the place where Philo was buried; a white cross
     stands there with his name on it. And Nora was buried by his side,
     under a big linden.

     On the fourth day Mrs. Stanhope came to table with us, and after
     dinner she talked very kindly with us, and said that now it was
     time for us to begin to work. Oh, how surprised Fani and I were
     when we found out what we were to do! What kind of hard work do you
     guess it is? No work at all! You won't believe it, but it is true.
     We just sit all the morning in the school-room and study! The
     teacher comes at nine o'clock and stays till one, and Fani and I
     are the only scholars! Of course Fani is much cleverer than I am;
     but the teacher is very kind, and when I cannot do my lessons he
     only says: "Come, be brave, and you'll soon do as well as your
     brother!" I get along very well, and I am not so ashamed as I was
     when all the children in school were ahead of me. It is one o'clock
     before we know it, and we are glad when school-time comes the next
     day. After dinner we all go into the garden; and Mrs. Stanhope
     takes Fani with her, and he talks with her about his lessons and
     his ideas about all sorts of things; and it is easy to see that she
     likes him very much, better of course than she does me; you know
     how frank he is. He tells her just how he feels and how glad he is
     to be here with her, and he thanks her over and over again for all
     her kindness, and he holds her hand tight; and, when he looks up at
     her so beaming with happiness, she strokes his hair, and seems more
     fond of him than I have ever seen her of any one except Nora. But I
     can never do as Fani does; though I have just the same feelings, I
     cannot speak them out; and I'm afraid she does not think that I am
     so grateful, and I can quite understand that she cannot care as
     much for me as for Fani. But Aunt Clarissa is very good to me, and,
     when we come in out of the garden, I go into a room with her and
     she teaches me to sew and to embroider as you do. Tell Oscar that,
     even if I don't succeed in finding people to form a society, I will
     at any rate work him a beautiful banner,--Aunt Clarissa says that I
     may,--so he must be sure to write me what he wants for a motto.
     While I am working, Fani has a lesson in drawing; a teacher comes
     for two hours. Mrs. Stanhope almost always sits with him during
     this lesson, for she is delighted that Fani learns so quickly, and
     draws such beautiful things already.

     After that Fani and I go into the garden by ourselves and play
     about as much as we like. We run into every corner of it, for all
     about are stone seats to rest on, and white marble statues, and the
     garden is large and beautiful and stretches way down to the river;
     and there stand the great lindens, and it is all the most splendid
     and beautiful place in the world. Please tell Fred that I am
     looking all the time after beetles and such things, but I haven't
     been able to catch any; he mustn't be vexed with me, perhaps I
     shall succeed better by and by.

     After supper Aunt Clarissa sits down at the piano, and we sing
     Nora's favorite song and several others that she has taught me.
     Generally Fani sits in the other room and draws by himself; but
     when he sings with us it sounds much better, and it's only when he
     sings, too, that Mrs. Stanhope comes in to listen. After this, we
     get our lessons ready for the next day. But time passes much too
     quickly here; and Fani and I are always sorry when the day is over
     and we have to go to bed. I am almost never tired now; and, oh, it
     is so lovely to live here and to be with Fani. When we go in to our
     meals, Aunt Clarissa always says, "Thank God that we have children
     again with us at table!" And yesterday Mrs. Stanhope answered: "I
     think you would like to have the house full of children." And Aunt
     Clarissa replied, "I should never have too many of them." Then Mrs.
     Stanhope said: "Next year we must invite our friends from
     Switzerland to visit us; all four of the doctor's children; and you
     can take little Rikli under your special charge." At these words
     Fani shouted for joy; but I couldn't utter a sound; I could
     scarcely swallow, I was so delighted. Aunt Clarissa clapped her
     hands and said, "Elsli must write directly and invite them, so that
     we may make sure of them"; and, afterwards, she said to me again,
     "What a splendid plan that is of Mrs. Stanhope's!" In the evening
     Fani and I went all round the garden to pick out all the places
     that we particularly want to show you. Fred will be able to catch
     his own insects. Fani is going to write you a long letter, and then
     one to Oscar; but first he wants to draw a picture of the linden
     trees and the little spot under them, to send you for a present. We
     send our love to you all a thousand times, and beg you to give it
     to our father and mother and the little boys.

     Fani sends his special love to you.


     Your true friend,

     ELSLI.


When the letter was finished, there came a burst of shouting and
hand-clapping that seemed as if it would never stop. Such good news for
the children! What a prospect of delights! The mother and aunt
sympathized in their pleasure; but they took the greatest satisfaction
in the thought that their anxiety for Fani was forever relieved, and
that God had led the two children whose welfare lay so near their
hearts, by such unlooked-for ways, into a happy and hopeful life.

Which of the four children was most pleased with the prospect of the
visit to the villa on the Rhine, it would be impossible to say. They
could talk of nothing else, and think of nothing else. Oscar saw in
imagination whole armies of Swiss collected there, and united in one
fraternal society by his efforts, with Fani's help. He began at once to
employ every spare moment in searching for a motto for the promised
banner. Emma was in a condition of almost feverish joy. Fani was really
on the road to become a painter, and her long-cherished wish was being
accomplished. Now that Mrs. Stanhope was evidently so fond of him,
surely everything would be done for his improvement. But she could
hardly wait for the time to come for their visit, for every day she had
some new idea for his future that she longed to tell him. Fred had his
hands full of preparations. He looked forward to making such an increase
of his collections that he was afraid he should not have room to contain
them all. He induced his aunt to promise him all the useless boxes in
the house, and all winter long he stored them away in his room in
readiness for the expected occupants.

Little Rikli enjoyed the anticipation of the summer with pure delight.
She was never so happy as when with Fred, yet her pleasure in being with
him had been always mixed with fright; but she was sure that under the
protection of good Aunt Clarissa there would be no danger that frogs or
beetles should be allowed to annoy her, or that any unpleasant creatures
would crawl out upon her under the shady lindens by the river.

Fani and Elsli grew better and happier every day; they had but one
unsatisfied wish--that the summer would come; so that they might welcome
their dear old friends to their new home, and show them its beauties and
share its blessings with them.

Aunt Clarissa took great pains that the two children committed to her
care should not forget the good Father in heaven who had provided such
a home for them. She led them often to the spot where Philo and Nora lay
buried, and reminded them how quickly and unexpectedly sorrow may be
changed into joy, as they had themselves experienced; then she told them
that just so quickly joy may be changed to sorrow, and that into the
brightest sunshine the shadow of death may fall; so that only those can
live happy and secure who have full trust in God, who holds all life in
his hand, and who makes both joy and sorrow work together for good to
those who love him.




[Illustration: DINO AND CORNELLI HAD UNDERTAKEN A GREAT WORK; THEY WERE
LAYING OUT MARTHA'S GARDEN]




VOLUME TWO


CHAPTER I.

THE NEW HOME.


Winter was over and gone. The early summer roses had opened again, and
raised their heads high about the villa on the Rhine. They glowed and
blossomed in all the garden-beds, and glistened in the sunshine, and
sent their sweet perfume far and near on every breeze. On the pebbly
path that led down from the splashing fountain to the lindens by the
river, Fani and Elsli scampered back and forth, drinking in the fragrant
air.

"Do you know where Mrs. Stanhope's house gets its name?" asked Fani, as
he stood by a bed of flowers, watching with delight the airy
butterflies flitting from blossom to blossom, and then floating away as
in ecstacy up into the blue air.

"Of course I do," answered Elsli; "it is called Rosemount because there
are so many rose-bushes stretching from up here way down to the
lindens."

"Well, that's true; but there's nothing melancholy about it," said Fani,
reproachfully. "What makes you look so sad, Elsli? You almost always
look sad nowadays, and it isn't right, for I'm sure there's no reason
for it. And Mrs. Stanhope notices it, too, and she doesn't like it very
well; she must think that you are horribly ungrateful, and that you
don't realize how well off we are. And yet you can't help realizing it
when you think how it used to be at home."

"Yes; I do think of it, and I realize it all perfectly, Fani; and I am
not a bit ungrateful. But you see I can't express it to Mrs. Stanhope;
I wish I could. And then, besides, Fani," she added, after a pause,
"Aunt Clarissa has often told me that when we are well off ourselves,
and have everything we need, and more, too, we ought to think all the
more about the poor, and do what we can to help them. And I am always
thinking about them, and wishing that I could share some of the good
things we enjoy with those who have none."

"What do you mean, Elsli?" cried Fani; "there is no one about here who
is poor; even the men and women-servants live like gentlefolk. Have you
never noticed that Lina, the chambermaid, wears a hat when she goes out,
and a red and yellow shawl, just like Mrs. Bickel? And what red cheeks
the cook has! She has enough to eat, I'm sure; and the coachman wears
gloves when he drives."

"Yes, I know; but I mean--well, you see we have a great deal of time to
ourselves, and can run round in the garden and amuse ourselves, and I
can't help thinking that I might be doing something useful. I might knit
some stockings for the children at home if I had some yarn, but I don't
like to ask for any; I have so many things."

"Why, of course you can't ask for it, Elsli; what are you thinking of?
And you know how many clothes and things Mrs. Stanhope is always sending
to mother? Only last week a big bundle went off; don't you remember,
Elsli?"

"Yes, I know all that; but what I mean is that I want to do something
myself, and not go on taking my own comfort and enjoyment when so many
other people are suffering."

"But you know the doctor said you _must_ take comfort; and he told Mrs.
Stanhope not to let you sit at your books and study all the time, but to
keep you a great deal in the open air. Come, let's run all round the big
rose-bed, and draw in long breaths of that delicious perfume. How strong
it is! I can smell it way off here. Come!" and Fani took hold of his
sister's hand and began to run. But she held back.

"I can't run as you do, Fani," she said, breathing heavily; "I would
rather go down to the stone seat under the lindens by the river and sit
a while."

"Now you see, Elsli," said Fani, as he walked slowly by her side down
towards the river, "now you see how soon you get tired. It is a good
thing for you that you have this garden to stay in. And how lovely it is
down here, too! do you notice? there's quite a different smell here, and
its delicious!"

Fani was already seated on the bench, and he leaned back against the
trunk of the old linden, whose head was crowned with flowers that
diffused a sweet perfume through the air. The fresh foaming waves of the
river ran below, bathing the low hanging branches as they flowed along.

"Oh, how beautiful it is here! It will do you good to shout as loud as
you can, Elsli. I'm sure it would make you feel better."

"Yes, indeed," said the girl assentingly, but no joyous look came into
her pale face, such as shone from Fani's eyes. "When I sit here I always
think of Nora. There's such a beautiful view of the sunset from here.
And then I think of the evening when she went away, how the whole sky
was golden, as if the heavens were open, and you could look right into
them and see the crystal river flowing there forever. Whenever it is a
clear evening, and the red clouds come in the west, I always think that
Nora is looking down at me and beckoning me to come to her. How dearly I
should love to go!"

Fani sprang to his feet in great distress.

"How can you talk so, Elsli? Here we are living so happily together.
Nobody was ever so happy as we are, and yet you talk as if it was all
nothing, and all you want is to die! I'm sure I don't want to die, and
you ought not to. And if you were to talk in this way to Mrs. Stanhope
just once, what do you suppose would happen? I can tell you--she'd just
send us straight home, I know; and how would you like that? And I'm
certain that she means to have us stay here always; for several times
when I've said something about being a painter she has begun to talk
about the future, and she takes it for granted that you and I are to
live with her. Just think of that! Then I shall be a gentleman and you a
lady like Mrs. Stanhope, and then--"

"Oh, Fani, you trouble me still more when you talk so," interrupted
Elsli, sadly. "I see more plainly every day that I can never be what
Mrs. Stanhope wants me to be. I am afraid she will be more and more
vexed about it, and will like me less and less. And you too will be
ashamed of me by and by, because I cannot be what you would like to have
me."

Fani had seated himself again at Elsli's side, but at these words he
sprang again to his feet, crying out reproachfully:--

"Oh, Elsli, what strange notions have you taken into your head? It isn't
pleasant in you to talk so. Why don't you think of all the nice things
there are, and what good times we have together, and let all these
melancholy ideas go?"

"I don't think of melancholy things on purpose, Fani, and I wish I did
not at all," said Elsli, pleadingly. "It is this way. Whenever I begin
to think of something very pleasant, then sad thoughts come into my
mind, and I keep wondering whether there isn't something that I can do
for those in trouble, and then I am unhappy because I can't think of
anything. I see so many things that you don't see, and I can't get them
out of my head all day long."

"What sort of things?" asked the boy in surprise.

"Well, for instance, twice when we have been coming home from our
afternoon walk, we have met a man with a heavy shovel on his shoulder,
and you didn't notice him because you were so busy talking with Mrs.
Stanhope. The man looked down on the ground, just as father does when
he comes home at night all tired out and says, 'We shall hardly pull
through, if I work ever so hard; I'm afraid we can't keep out of debt.'
I'm sure that man is worried just as father was, and I keep thinking if
I could only go after him and find out where he lives, I might do him
some good, perhaps."

"But you mustn't do that," cried Fani, much horrified. "Don't you
remember how Mrs. Stanhope told us in the very beginning that we must
never go into any house where we didn't know the people? and that we
mustn't speak first to people we don't know, as we do at home? You must
not go and talk to that man. Do you hear, Elsli? Mrs. Stanhope would be
very angry with you."

Elsli thought for a while. Presently she said, "I do not believe that
Mrs. Stanhope meant that I should not speak to a poor man who is in
trouble, as this man is. She only meant that we mustn't talk with people
who ask us questions about where we came from and how we live at home. I
don't believe she meant people like this man at all."

"Oh, Elsli, you can't make distinctions, that way," said Fani,
impatiently. "All we have to do is to mind what we are told, and not
speak to strange people or go to their houses. Now let's talk about
something else; this sort of talk is tiresome. Come here; I'll show you
something."

The children sat down again side by side on the stone bench, with their
heads close together, and Fani took something out of his pocket which
they both examined carefully. It was a small, nicely painted landscape,
in fresh bright colors. Elsli studied it silently.

"Do you see what it is?" asked Fani.

"Yes, indeed, I knew it at the first glance. It is Rosemount; there are
the roses and the linden trees. How beautifully you have done it, Fani!
Won't Emma be delighted when she sees it, and surprised too? I'm sure
she has no idea that you can paint so well!"

"I'm so glad she is coming," cried the lad, and his face glowed with
pleasure. "There is no one that I can talk with about being a painter as
I can with her. She understands just how I feel, and is as much
interested in it as I am myself."

"Are you still bent on being an artist?" asked Elsli.

"Yes, indeed, more and more. Every day, and after every drawing lesson,
I care about it more than ever before. I don't say anything about it,
because I see that Mrs. Stanhope doesn't like the idea. You see, Elsli,
she means to keep us with her all our lives, just as if we were her own
children. I'm sure of it, from a great many things that she has said. We
can stay here just as long as we don't do anything to displease her, and
of course we sha'n't do that. Several times when I've said that I should
like to be a painter, Mrs. Stanhope has said that it was a very good
profession for persons who had no home, and were obliged to live alone,
and could travel as much as they pleased in foreign countries. She said
I might paint at Rosemount as much as I chose, but that I must not make
it my business, because then I should have to go away to live. So you
see that she is quite decided that we are to stay here."

Elsli shook her head.

"I don't know, Fani. It seems to me that we don't belong here in this
beautiful house. Don't you feel so too, Fani? Somehow as if we were only
here on a visit, and that to-morrow we might be going away again."

"There you are again with the old story," said Fani, rather vexed, for
this doubt was very distasteful to him.

The time which they had to spend in the garden was now over, and hand in
hand they passed back up the white pebbly path, and by the sweet-scented
rose-beds, and entered the hall, which stood with wide-open doors on the
garden side.




CHAPTER II.

A JOURNEY.


Great was the excitement in the doctor's house at Buchberg. July had
come at last, and the long-looked-for journey was at hand. Only one more
day! The big trunk was packed and locked and placed in the lower hall,
ready to go. Now there were only the hand-bags and satchels to be filled
with the last needful articles. This task was not so easy as one might
expect, however. On the contrary, mother and aunty found it the most
difficult part of the whole. For the three older children had received
permission to choose each the things which he wanted most to fill up his
own bag, with the express understanding that these must be _useful_
things. But the three had their own definitions of "useful." So they
worked with all their might, running, breathless, up stairs and down,
loaded with most extraordinary articles, most of which were rejected by
the packers as utterly unsuitable, and consigned to the places whence
they came.

Fred came first with four great boxes under each arm, which were tied up
with so many strings, that no accident could have opened them if they
had gone all the way round the world. These he brought to his aunt,
while Emma was, at the same time, pressing upon her mother a heavy roll,
which she had brought under one arm, and an enormous package which she
could scarcely carry.

"Those can't go, Fred," said his aunt, decidedly. "I couldn't possibly
get those eight boxes into this bag, and what's the use? You certainly
can't need whatever there is in them."

"Yes, I do, aunty; six of them are full of living creatures which I must
carry with me to take care of them, or they would all die. The other two
have in them specimens of beetles and snails and other things of the
same kinds as those I expect to find near the Rhine, but, of course,
they are somewhat different, and I want to carry these to compare with
those, don't you see, aunty? Perhaps if we squeeze the boxes with all
our might we can get them in, except those that have the live
creatures."

"No, Fred, it can't be done," said his aunt, kindly. "Take them back
into your room; and you needn't be in the least anxious. I'll take care
of the live ones while you are gone, and, as to the others, when you
want to compare any of them with what you find, write to me about it,
and I will send you as good a description as I can make."

Meantime, Mrs. Stein had been gazing in despair at the two huge,
misshapen packages which Emma had placed upon the table to be put into
her hand-bag.

"What have you in that big roll? It is too large to go even into the
trunk! What are you thinking about?" she cried.

"Oh, mamma, can't they be tied on the outside of the bag? I could carry
them all together myself. I do want to take them with me so much. In the
roll are ever so many drawing-copies, such as we had at school, and some
that were given us on the Christmas-tree. Fani spoke of them in one of
his letters, and I'm sure he'll be delighted to have them. I put in all
ours, and I borrowed some from the master, who said I could have them if
I would take great care of them and bring them safely back again."

"What foolishness, Emma! You seem to forget that, for the last year,
Fani has had his own drawing-teacher, who gives his pupils what he
thinks best for them to copy, and, doubtless, has plenty of patterns of
all kinds. So take the roll away; it would be absurd to carry it. And
that hideous bundle, what is in it? It is twice too big to go in here."

"I was afraid it would be," said Emma, rather crestfallen. "But I
thought I could carry it in my lap, and, really, I must take it, mamma.
It is that book which I chose for a Christmas present, you know; the
'Lives of Distinguished Painters.' I want to carry it for Fani to read;
and, for fear of hurting the handsome binding, I wrapped it up in two
petticoats and a waterproof cloak and a small table-cloth, and then I
put some enamel-cloth outside the whole."

"You do get hold of most unfortunate ideas, my child! we shall never
get ready at this rate. Come, we'll take the book out of all these
wrappings, and then perhaps we can get it in. But you haven't brought
anything that you really need, though you have had such a long time to
think about it all. And here aunty and I are standing waiting and can't
get through, because you have nothing ready for us."

At this moment aunty exclaimed, in a tone of alarm:--

"For pity's sake, Oscar! what is that that you are tugging along?"

With a tremendous racket Oscar came into the room, dragging behind him a
drum, which he could not carry, because in one hand he had a large bunch
of bells and in the other a harmonica and a flute.

"Oscar dear, your own good-sense can tell you that you can't get a drum
into this bag; to say nothing of the other instruments. What in the
world do you want with them? Mrs. Stanhope wouldn't thank you for such
music!"

"It isn't for the house, aunty," answered the boy. "It is for the
festival out-of-doors. I've taken only Fred's small drum, because mine
is too large. See if it won't go in here!" and Oscar measured the drum
against his travelling-bag, only to be compelled to acknowledge that it
was too large by half. The bells, too, had to be laid aside, though the
boy complained that they were absolutely needed to call the guests
together at the festival.

"Whose flute is that?" asked the aunt; "it is a beauty."

"It belongs to Feklitus. He is learning to play on it; and he was glad
enough to lend it to me, because while it's gone he can't be made to
practise!"

Mother and aunt agreed that the flute must not be packed without the
consent of Feklitus' parents.

Fred came now with an armful of articles of various kinds for his bag,
and behind him appeared Kathri, saying:--

"Mrs. Bickel wants to see Mrs. Stein."

"This isn't a very good time to choose," said Mrs. Stein, with a sigh.
"I shall have to leave this all to you," she added, turning to her
sister; "and, children, you really must make up your minds what is
necessary to take, and not bring all sorts of useless stuff, that only
has to be carried back again."

With these words Mrs. Stein went into the room where her guest was
sitting. It was easy to see that Mrs. Bickel had something very
important on her mind. She had on her fine red and yellow shawl, and on
her hat a bunch of large white feathers, higher and bushier than Mrs.
Stein had ever seen in her life. The doctor's wife greeted her guest
with the fervent though unspoken hope that that lady would immediately
unfold the object of her coming, so that the visit might speedily come
to a close, and she herself go back to her children's packing. Not so;
Mrs. Bickel opened the conversation with a remark upon the weather,
which she thought was growing worse and worse. Mrs. Stein agreed with
her. Then followed "the cherries"; they had not ripened well this
summer. From "cherries" she came to "apples," a natural association of
ideas. Mrs. Stein burned with impatience. Her mind would run on the
travelling-bags. Could aunty pack them alone? Would not the most
important things be left out, after all, and a great many useless ones
put in? That reminded her of the flute, and she hastened to ask whether
Feklitus had his parents' permission to lend it. This gave Mrs. Bickel
the opening she had been wanting. She said that it was a good thing that
Oscar wanted to take the flute; for her husband had decided to let
Feklitus take the trip to the Rhine; and he could play on the flute to
Mrs. Stanhope; all the more, because none of the doctor's children were
musical.

She and Mr. Bickel thought, too, that it would be pleasant for their son
to be there with the others, and that it would show people that the
doctor's children had other and better acquaintances at home than the
two poor children whom Mrs. Stanhope had taken with her.

But here Mrs. Stein interrupted the stream of words to say that there
was no occasion for that, as Mrs. Stanhope had seen for herself that
Fani and Elsli were her children's most intimate friends. She then
inquired whether Mrs. Bickel wished Feklitus to go with her children.

Mrs. Bickel declared that she should not think of such a thing as that.
In that case Mrs. Stanhope would naturally ask him to stay at her house,
which of course they would not allow; as if he could not afford to pay
for his lodging! But she would be glad if Oscar would write as soon as
convenient and tell Feklitus the best way to go, and also find out the
chief hotel in the neighborhood. Then, if Oscar would meet him on his
arrival, and show him the way to it, Feklitus would take a room there,
and spend the time between meals with the children at Mrs. Stanhope's.
His father meant to go himself very soon to visit his young relatives,
as it was only proper that he should do; and he would bring the boy
home.

Mrs. Stein listened patiently to this long discourse, but her thoughts
often wandered away into the next room, to aunty and the bags. How were
they getting on all this time?

She promised Mrs. Bickel that Oscar would do what she asked, and now
she hoped the visit was coming to a close. But there was more to ask.
How many suits of clothes did she think needed for such a journey? Would
six new ones be enough? Wouldn't it be well to fill one trunk entirely
with new shirts, so that they needn't be washed away from home; hotel
laundry work was so bad. Mrs. Stein only replied that she had not so
many suits to give her children, and that Mrs. Bickel must decide such
questions for herself.

It was growing dark before the visit came to an end, and Mrs. Stein
hastened back into the other room. The packing was done, and aunty had
gone away with Oscar. The other children were complaining that they
wanted her, and they didn't see why Oscar should keep her all to
himself.

Little Rikli had been watching all the preparations with the keenest
interest, and, as it turned out, with an unfortunate effect. For mother
and aunty, having decided that the child was too young to go so far from
home, had persuaded her, by the prospect of many delightful treats and
excursions with them, to make up her mind that she would far rather stay
at home, than go on this long, uncertain journey without them. But alas!
all this delightful stir of preparation had fascinated the child, and
completely changed her views on the subject. She was seized with a
desire to go too, and she suddenly burst into a loud scream, which
increased every instant under Emma's scolding, and was only intensified
by Fred's taunting song:--

    "Hanseli is a cry-baby,
      Rikli is another;
    She's so exactly like him,
      He must be her brother."

In the midst of this hubbub, the mother entered, and at once interposed
her tranquillizing influence. She lifted Rikli from the floor, where she
sat in the midst of the luggage, and called the other two to sit quietly
down at her side. On this last evening, she said, she wanted to have a
little peaceful time with them; and Emma and Fred were very glad to
consult her about the various questions which lay on their minds, which
they had meant to ask aunty about, when Oscar so unceremoniously usurped
her.

As Rikli listened to the conversation which followed, and learned how
many things her brother and sister were in doubt about,--as to their
behavior in Mrs. Stanhope's house, and what they should say and do
there, and what they could not,--she made up her mind that it was far
better for her to stay quietly at home with her mother and aunty; and
the prospect of walks and drives with them, and of the biggest share of
all the cherry and apple cakes, seemed more attractive than the very
doubtful circumstances in which the others would be placed. So Rikli
became quite reconciled to her lot, and was in good-humor again.

Oscar had meantime led his aunt into an unused bedroom on the ground
floor, and, having locked the door for farther security from
interruption, he announced that he had something very important to
consult her about. He had been all winter hunting for suitable mottoes
for his new banner, and had pressed so many friends into the service,
that he had collected no fewer than thirty-five beautiful mottoes, any
one of which would have been perfectly satisfactory. From such wealth it
seemed impossible to choose, yet some choice must be made. One banner
would hold only one motto, and even Oscar, with all his enthusiasm,
could scarcely hope to have thirty-five banners for the sake of using
them all. Aunty must help him decide, and already before this last
afternoon they had had at least a dozen consultations on the subject, in
which they had gradually succeeded in reducing the number of candidates
to three. And now the final selection must be made, and Oscar and his
aunt could not agree upon it. His aunt wanted him to make his own
choice, but he was not willing to decide against her opinion; yet he
could not give up his own; he hoped by farther argument to bring her
over to his side.

"Now, aunty," he said, when the door was safely locked, "we must settle
this about the motto. I will repeat them all three over again, and you
really must choose. First I'll say the one you like best:--

    "'Drums beat and banners fly
      Our Festival to grace;
    Long live all men, we cry;
      But guests we forward place.'

"Now that's a good motto, aunty, but you see I can't pack the drum, and
so it won't suit very well to say 'drums beat,'--will it?"

"There must be plenty of drums there, and perhaps Fani has one," said
his aunt. "And I'm sure the motto is a very good one. However, let me
hear the second. I've forgotten just how it goes."

    "'Come to our Festival! come all!
      Come from Switzerland!
    Conductor, let your tickets fall!
      And, fireman, stay your hand!
    You who make boots, or who brew beer,
    You one and all are welcome here.'

"Don't you think that is, after all, better than the other, aunty?"

"Yes, it is certainly very good, but it is too long. It would take
Elsli such a time to embroider it."

"That settles it, then," said Oscar, well pleased that his aunt found a
decisive reason for rejecting another. "Now, then, for the last, short
and energetic:--

    "'Freedom we shout! Freedom for all!
      Freedom for ever and aye!
    We will not yield till all chains fall,
      And tyrants are banished or die!'

"Do you hear that, aunty?"

"Yes, my dear, I can't help hearing it, and it's very spirited, but it
doesn't mean anything. I don't know of any 'tyrants' that need to be
banished or die, do you? It isn't to be thought of. Take the first, or,
if you don't like that, choose another from the list."

But Oscar was obstinate. The first he wouldn't have, and he must somehow
or other bring his aunt over to accept this one.

"But, aunty," he began in a tone of remonstrance, "there were tyrants
once; don't you remember the poem about Dionysius, the tyrant? And if
there have been once, there may be again, and then this verse would be
splendid; don't you think so?"

Before aunty could respond to this appeal, came a fearful pounding at
the door, which put a stop to the discussion. Fred and Emma, having
hunted over the rest of the house in vain, had at last bethought
themselves of this apartment; and, finding the door locked, they felt
sure that the objects of their search were within.

Emma called through the keyhole:--

"Come, aunty, please, quick! Supper is ready, and papa has come, and
mamma sent us to call you."

And Fred shouted in a still louder tone:--

"Come along, Oscar; papa is asking for you."

All was over. His aunt opened the door at once, and Oscar had to follow
her.

The next morning, when the carriage had been rolled out of the
coach-house and stood waiting for the horses, to which the groom was
giving the last polish in the stable, Dr. Stein came into the room where
the mother and aunt were putting the final touches to the preparation of
the children for the journey.

"I must say good-bye now. My patients cannot be kept waiting, and I must
go. One word to you, Oscar. Be careful not to carry your schemes too far
while you are visiting. Here, at home, every one knows you; and, if you
do a foolish thing, they say: 'It's the doctor's boy; he'll soon be set
right.' But now you will have only yourself to depend upon; so don't go
into anything heedlessly. Don't undertake anything which you are not
quite sure about, so that no unpleasant consequences may result either
for yourself or for the lady whose guest you are to be. You must
remember that you will displease Mrs. Stanhope if you do a wrong or
foolish thing. You are old enough to understand me without farther
explanation. Do not forget. Now good-bye, my boy, and you too, Emma;
good-bye, Fred. Be happy and be good."

With these words the father shook all three pairs of outstretched hands
and was off.

The mother drew Emma to the other side of the room for a word of
admonition. The big roll of paper and the book that the little girl had
been so anxious to have at Christmas, and was now so determined to take
with her, roused anxious thoughts in the mother's mind, and she felt
that she must speak seriously to the child, warning her not to instigate
Fani to any undertaking which Mrs. Stanhope might not approve. She
reminded Emma that Fani was now very well off, and that the prospect
before him was very bright, if Mrs. Stanhope should decide to take him
under her protection. But it was of the greatest importance that he
should do nothing to displease Mrs. Stanhope, and Emma would certainly
never forgive herself if she should be the means of leading him to act
contrary to his benefactress' wishes.

Emma understood the value of her mother's suggestion and promised to
heed her advice, adding earnestly that she would try to think of
different ways in which Fani could make himself agreeable to Mrs.
Stanhope.

"You'd far better not think about it at all, my child," replied her
mother. "Enjoy with Fani the pleasures and advantages of his life, and
don't try to bring about any special event, as you are so fond of doing.
And one thing more: don't forget to pray every day to God to protect you
and to help you to carry out all your good resolutions. Now that you are
leaving home, my only comfort is that our Father's hand is still about
you, there as well as here. Promise me that you will pray for the
heavenly blessing every night, as we do together at home."

Emma promised not to neglect her morning and evening prayers, and begged
her mother to have no anxiety about her.

Meanwhile, aunty had been standing by the window, talking with Fred.

"Pray be careful," she said, "never by any chance to let one of your
small creatures, even the prettiest one, escape out of your pockets upon
the table or the floor. In fact, you would do better not to put them
into your pockets at all, for fear of some such mishap, as often occurs
at home. It would spoil all the pleasure of your visit; for Mrs.
Stanhope would neither understand nor forgive such carelessness."

"Don't worry, aunty," replied the boy; "I'll fix them so they can't
stir. I'll bring them all safe home to you, and I'm sure you will be
delighted with them."

Rikli had been meanwhile listening to one person and another, catching
the words of warning and advice as they were given to the three
travellers, and dwelling with pride and pleasure at the thought that she
was the only one who did not need any caution.

To her aunt's closing words to Fred, she added quickly:--

"Yes, yes! how Mrs. Stanhope would stare to see a horrid frog or a red
snail or a blind worm come hopping over her white table-cloth!"

"Well, I think any one would stare, to see a snail or a worm hop
anywhere!" said the boy laughing.

"You'd see what she would say, and how she would put you out of the
house in no time, and take all your food away."

"I don't believe I should _see_ her say anything at all," retorted Fred,
with another laugh.

"You'd find out how it would be, when you were sent home in disgrace;
and you'd be ashamed to be seen in the railway carriage, and by the
children in school."

"I don't mean to find out anything of the kind," said Fred, and the
contest dropped.

The coachman cracked his whip as a signal that it was high time to
start. Hurried good-byes were said; the children seized their bags, and
seated themselves in the carriage; the horses started, and the journey
was begun. Mother and aunt stood by the road-side, and waved their
handkerchiefs till the carriage turned a corner and was lost to view.

"Oh! I wish I knew that they would meet with no accident, and would all
come home safe!" said the mother, with a sigh, as she turned back to the
house.

"That will be as God wills," said her sister; "we must trust them to
him, and pray him to send his angels to watch over them; that will be a
better protection than any that we two could afford them."




CHAPTER III.

ON THE BEAUTIFUL RHINE.


In the garden at Rosemount was such an excitement and running to and fro
as had never been seen there before. It was the day after the arrival of
the three guests. Great had been the surprise of the doctor's children,
yesterday evening, when they were shown up stairs, to find three large
rooms assigned for their use, one to each. For the house was so arranged
that there was but one bed in each room. The windows of all three rooms
overlooked the garden, and beyond could be seen the river. The children
had never before been so royally lodged. Emma planned directly to spend
long hours at her window, looking into the moonlight and listening to
the river, as late as she chose, for no one would come to send her off
to bed. Oscar looked about the large apartment, and thought what a fine
place it would be to spread out his banners. They would not be in any
one's way, as they were at home; and no one would come and clear them
out. Fred examined all the presses, tables, and drawers, and destined
them to his special uses.

The meeting of the five children was a most joyous one to them all. From
the first moment they found themselves on as intimate a footing as if
they had never been separated. Elsli and Fani were not changed as the
doctor's children had feared they might be; on the contrary, it seemed
as if they were even nearer to their old friends. Fani was merrier and
more lively than ever, and Elsli, although still somewhat shy, was more
confiding than before, and just as amiable and obliging; and they both
were so attractive in their nice clothes, that Emma took great delight
in merely looking at them.

The first morning was spent in emptying the big trunk, with Aunt
Clarissa's help, and in arranging the contents in the three rooms. In
the afternoon the children were allowed to explore the house and garden,
and to have a run in the meadows, that they might become acquainted with
Rosemount and its surroundings. What a pleasure for them all!

Emma's first wish was to get down to the river-side, under the lindens,
and to see the branches dip and rise and dip again into the swiftly
flowing stream. Fani had drawn her a picture of it, and she must see it.
It was Fani's favorite spot, and he was ready enough to show it to her;
so the two ran off together.

Fred did not know which way to turn. He was fairly bewildered by all
the living wonders that surrounded him; the glancing, gleaming, humming
world of the rose-garden. Here a golden beetle crept across the lawn;
there the air seemed full of gayly colored butterflies. On the edge of
the fountain sat a golden-green lizard in the sun. Over on the hedge a
great variety of wonderful insects swarmed on every leaf and twig! What
a harvest he could gather! He ran about in every direction; he was
beside himself with delight; discovering every moment something new and
unexpected. Nor was this in the garden only. Down by the river, under
the old trees, in the thick hedges, in the damp earth by the water-side,
between the cracks of the stones by the river, he felt sure of countless
treasures. He paid little attention to his friends or his brother and
sister; he seemed to swim in an ocean of wealth, undreamed of before,
and all within his grasp!

Oscar, meantime, under Elsli's guidance, had been examining every part
of the garden; carefully observing everything as he walked along down to
the Rhine, along the meadow-land and back to the court-yard, which was
all walled in, and where two big oak-trees cast a far-reaching shadow.
Around these oaks ran a wooden seat where one could sit in comfort under
the thick protection of the leafy cover. Here the two children seated
themselves; and Oscar looked thoughtfully across the broad meadow,
around which ran a high hedge; a broad paved path led from the
court-yard down to a gate-way of iron-work, which united the hedges that
enclosed the whole estate.

"And you say, Elsli," said Oscar presently, "that beyond the hedges the
land does not belong to Mrs. Stanhope at all?"

"No, Oscar; a very large vineyard belongs to her besides. It is so large
that you would not believe the quantity of grapes that she gets from it.
It lies on the other side of the house, towards the Rhine."

"I don't mean that," said Oscar; "Fani showed me that this morning. I
mean from the end of the meadow-land across the high-road there."

Elsli was quite sure that Mrs. Stanhope owned nothing beyond the
high-road.

"Do you see that little hill over there?" said Oscar, pointing in that
direction. "There's a wind-mill up there; see how finely the big wings
go turning round in the wind, like huge banners waving for a festival,
and inviting people from all sides to come and rejoice together. All
the people who are to come to our celebration might camp out around the
foot of that hill, and the speaker could stand up above there on that
platform, and those huge flags would wave to and fro behind him and show
where the festival was taking place, to all the neighboring country!"

Oscar uttered these words in such a tone of enthusiasm that his
companion caught the infection; but she hesitated.

"Yes, it would be fine," she said; "but don't you think we should have
to ask the miller's leave?"

Oscar thought this would not be at all necessary, as the meeting would
do no harm to the mill or to the grass, which was evidently very short.
He would go over and inspect the place himself.

"How is the banner getting on, Elsli?" he asked presently.

"Oh, I forgot it entirely!" said the girl, somewhat startled. "It is
all ready, and I meant to put it in your bedroom to welcome you. You
see, Oscar, I finished it; because Aunt Clarissa said that it would be
prettier without a motto, if I put a wreath of Alpine roses on the Swiss
flag, and so I embroidered one upon it."

But this did not suit Oscar at all; he wished to have his motto, his
verses, over which he had spent so much trouble and had had so many
discussions. He had no mind to drop it now; and he looked as if he had
suffered a severe loss. Elsli saw his disappointment, and she hastened
to propose a remedy. Why not put the motto on the other side of the
banner? Oscar could print the verse in large letters on a piece of
paper, and she would fasten it upon the banner, on the side opposite the
Alpine roses. That was a clever thought. Oscar's spirits rose again,
and the banner would be really in the end far handsomer than he had
expected.

"You are the smartest girl I know, Elsli," cried the lad; and this
unexpected praise brought the color into Elsli's cheeks, for she was
little accustomed to notice, much less to commendation.

"How many Swiss have you found and invited to join our society?"
continued Oscar.

Elsli confessed that she had discovered but one; the baker's boy who
brought fresh bread to the house every day; and she could not induce him
to join the society. "I am very sorry," she said, "that I could not do
as you asked me; but we are not allowed to go into the kitchen and talk
to the people that come there."

But Oscar was well satisfied. He only wanted to know at what time and
from which direction the baker's boy came every morning; and this Elsli
told him. "All right!" he said; "I can help myself, now."

Meanwhile, Fani and Emma were walking up and down by the river-side,
talking with constantly increasing eagerness. Emma had never been so
excited; she had had a tremendous surprise. Since Fani had left home,
she had never lost sight of her hope that he would become a great
artist. He had never mentioned the subject in his letters, and it had
been more and more evident that Mrs. Stanhope meant to educate the two
children, as she would have done her own, in various branches, without
any view to a special training for a life-work. Emma feared that Fani
would lose his ambition to be an artist, and she set herself to work to
counteract this danger. She had heard of a book called the "Lives of
Celebrated Painters," and she did not rest till her aunt promised to
procure it for her at Christmas; for she thought it would inspire Fani
with fresh enthusiasm to learn how artists had become great and
celebrated. She now brought the book with her, and told Fani about it,
in the hope that it would serve as a spur to arouse his dormant
energies. What was her astonishment when Fani pushed the book away, and
broke out passionately:--

"No, no; I will not read it! I will try not to think of it at all! You
see, Emma, I have a drawing lesson every day; only now of course I do
not, while you are here on a visit. And the more I draw, the more I want
to; I can do much better than I used to, and the teacher has told me
several times that I can certainly learn to be an artist."

Emma could not contain her joy at these words, and she cried out:--

"Now it's all right, Fani! You can be a painter, and I am sure you will
be a celebrated one, the most famous one in all the land. But why do not
you tell Mrs. Stanhope directly that you want to do that and nothing
else?"

Fani shook his head and looked very much depressed.

"It would be of no use. Mrs. Stanhope will not allow me to be an artist;
I am sure of that. Once when we were walking, I said to her that I
thought painting pictures was the greatest happiness a man could have;
she said it was only a childish notion; and that when I grew up I should
have very different ideas as to greatness and happiness. And since then
she has taken me about the estate several times; for you know, Emma,
that it is a very large property; great vineyards stretching for miles
along the Rhine. She says there is nothing so desirable for a man as to
own a large place, and to live on it; and I think she has the thought in
her mind that she will keep me with her here on the estate; and of
course it would be a great thing for me if she did. Just think of it.
Always to live here as we do now; how terribly ungrateful I should be if
I did not rejoice in such a prospect! Only--I must give up all idea of
ever being an artist!" And Fani hung his head.

"Oh, what a shame! It's of no use thinking about it any more, then!"
cried Emma, in tones of intense disappointment. "And I was just
beginning to think that everything would turn out for you as I had
hoped. It is too bad! I had such good fun reading the book, and putting
your name in the place of the celebrated artist; like this--'In delicacy
of drawing Fani von Buchberg stands far above all his compeers.' For you
know when you were celebrated, you would be spoken of so; for they
always take the name of their birth-place, instead of their family name;
and that would be particularly nice, because Hopli isn't a very good
name, but Fani von Buchberg sounds finely, doesn't it? Listen!" And Emma
read from the book.

"Where Fani von Buchberg learned to mix his paints, is a mystery. Even
to this day, he is the only one who can place such enchanting tones of
color upon his canvas. Of course, that is a mistake; it ought to be
_shades_ of color, shouldn't it, Fani? Oh! think, if such things could
be said of you! and now it is all over; no chance of that any more!" And
the girl threw herself on the bench as if it wasn't worth while to take
the trouble to stir again.

Fani sat down at her side. He had followed every word she had said, with
increasing excitement; and he had caught the fire of her enthusiasm,
for his eyes flamed.

"I know something that may make a difference," he said presently; and at
his words Emma, who had looked as if life had lost all charm for her,
sprang up with renewed interest, exclaiming eagerly:--

"What is it, Fani? Speak; do speak!"

"Come with me," and he ran along the river-side, drawing her with him.
"There, sit down here and look up over Rosemount, towards the wood. Do
you see that ruined castle, all covered with ivy?"

"I don't see anything. Oh, yes, I do now! I can see an old, old tower";
and as she spoke the excited girl leaned backwards towards the river,
and she would certainly have fallen in, if Fani had not caught her and
held her fast.

"There, we will go back to the seat again," he said; "though the ruin
is scarcely visible from here," he added, as they reached the spot; "but
it is safer. It is the most beautiful ruined castle that you can
imagine. It is all covered with ivy, and the stones are moss-grown, and
the gray walls show through in places, and in the setting sun they flame
with crimson; you've no idea how beautiful it is! I saw it once from the
steamboat. It was splendid! Now listen! The last lesson I took, the
teacher asked me whether I was in earnest when I said that I wanted to
be a painter; and I said yes, but that I could never be allowed to; and
I told him just what I have told you. He understood at once; and he said
that I mustn't, of course, do anything to displease Mrs. Stanhope; but
that possibly she might in some way be led to have the same wish. He
advised me to make a drawing of something very beautiful; and he said
he would send it to Duesseldorf, where they do something or other with a
whole lot of drawings, and the best one gets a prize. If mine got a
prize, Mrs. Stanhope might change her mind; and if it didn't, I could
try again. I thought directly of the ruined castle, and how beautiful it
would be to draw! But there's no good view of it except from the middle
of the river, and it's quite impossible for me to get there."

To Emma there was no such word as impossible.

"Of course we can get there, Fani. What a delightful ideal" she cried.
"We can make a trip on the steamboat, and we can see the river, and you
must make a sketch of it as fast as you can."

"Oh, yes! I shall just get a few strokes on the paper, and
then--whizz!--we shall be past it like a flash of lightning. What good
would that do?"

Emma was not to be discouraged. If the only thing needful was a way to
take a sketch from the river, she would set herself to find such a way.

At this moment Fani interrupted her meditations by the exclamation: "Oh,
the bell! the bell!" and she heard the ringing of the supper-bell; and
the two children scampered back to the house, and joined the scattered
guests, who came from every direction to meet in the great dining-room.

At the upper end of the table, spread with many delicious luxuries, sat
Mrs. Stanhope, and she welcomed the children in the kindest manner. Aunt
Clarissa seated them in their places, then sat down herself at the foot
of the table, and the meal began. The guests brought wonderful appetites
to the feast. The conversation was subdued, for in Mrs. Stanhope's
presence the children's liveliness was somewhat checked. Elsli spoke
least, and also partook least of the tempting viands. Her abstinence
attracted the attention of Fred, who sat next her, and, in spite of a
warning shove which she gave him under the table, to show him that she
wished to avoid observation, he exclaimed in a loud whisper:--

"What's the matter with you, Elsli? Why don't you eat?"

After supper Mrs. Stanhope led them all out upon the terrace, and they
sat down in a semicircle on the garden benches. Then she told them that
she had a plan of taking them very soon on a steamboat excursion down
the Rhine, as far as Cologne; where there was a remarkably fine
zooelogical garden which they would all visit together. Emma's eyes
blazed with delight, but she did not speak; her thoughts were busy, but
not wholly with the animals of the garden. Fred was delighted at the
prospect; but the zooelogical garden had a powerful rival in an enormous
night-moth which was humming about his head, and which he could hardly
resist his desire to jump up and catch. Such a prize it would be! But he
recollected his aunt's advice, on the good manners of sitting still,
especially in Mrs. Stanhope's presence. Oscar was overjoyed at the
prospect of a voyage, and he bethought himself immediately of the
possibility of meeting with persons much more desirable for his Society
than Elsli's baker's boy.

The next day the children sat down to keep their promise of writing home
an account of their experiences. The three letters were very different
in style, but they were all filled with the delight of their writers at
the beauty and magnificence of the villa, and with the pleasures they
enjoyed and the kindness they received. They hoped they should stay
twelve weeks instead of six. These were the letters. But into each
letter was secretly slipped a private note, addressed to Aunty, begging
her to persuade papa to allow the visit to be prolonged as much as
possible. Fred added that if the time fixed should be a year, and then a
cipher added to the number of days, three thousand six hundred and fifty
would not be one too many for him.




CHAPTER IV.

IN THE FISHERMAN'S HUT.


The next morning, Oscar was early on hand at the iron gate; waiting to
see the baker's boy, when he brought the bread. The boy came along with
a huge basket on his arm, from which issued an agreeable smell of
freshly baked loaves. Oscar went to meet him, and asked abruptly:--

"Which canton are you from?"

"That is none of your business," answered the boy.

Oscar was not a whit surprised or daunted by this reply.

"You needn't be so rough," he said; "I've a very good reason for
asking." And he went on to explain to the boy what he had in mind, and
to enlarge on the pleasure of collecting as many Swiss as possible; and
of holding a festival in honor of their country. Then it appeared that
the fellow was not a bad fellow at all, and had only answered in that
rude way to show his independence. He received Oscar's proposal with
great interest, though he owned that he knew but very few Swiss in the
neighborhood. He had come from Lucerne only about six months before, to
work for the baker, whose wife was his cousin. A shoemaker's boy from
Uri lived near by, and a porter at the "Bunch of Grapes" came from
Schwyz. Then there was the great factory down by the canal, which
belonged to some Swiss gentlemen. He carried bread there every day, and
had often seen two boys playing ball in the garden, but they had never
spoken to him. Oscar was well pleased with this information. He asked
the boy to invite the shoemaker's boy and the porter to join the
society, and he would see the others himself. He would appoint the day,
and decide on other particulars later; as the baker's boy came every day
to the house, there would be no difficulty in keeping him informed.

Highly delighted with his success, Oscar told the other children of his
plans, and asked Fani to go with him to the factory to see the two boys.
Fani refused decidedly. Mrs. Stanhope, he said, did not allow him and
Elsli to visit people with whom she was not acquainted, especially in
the neighborhood. But when Elsli saw how badly Oscar felt at this
refusal, she said:--

"Perhaps you can go, Oscar. If you don't think of any better way, I'll
tell you what I think you could do. When I came away from home, Mr.
Bickel asked me to look about here and find out what sort of factories
there were in this neighborhood, and send him word so that he might know
whether he could form any business relations with them. I have not been
able to do anything about it. Perhaps you could go and visit the
factory, and then write to Mr. Bickel about it"

"I always said you were the cleverest girl in the world," cried Oscar,
with delight; for he saw the way now clear before him. That afternoon,
when they all went out to the court-yard and garden for their out-door
games, he ran off to the factory. The dwelling-house stood not far from
the canal, surrounded by a pretty flower-garden. Under the trees two
lads were playing ball. They played with such zeal that Oscar, looking
over the hedge, became absorbed in watching them, and entirely forgot
his object He was a good player himself; but such throws!

"Bravo!" he cried; and the boys looked round. "Come and play too,"
called one of them.

Oscar asked nothing better. Hardly had he entered the yard than piff!
paff! the play began again. Such a game he had never had before, nor
with such players. The boys were as well pleased as he; and they played
on till the big factory bell rang for close of work, and Oscar
remembered that he must go home. He wanted to make acquaintance with
these boys. The three playmates had, to be sure, already struck up a
friendship, but they did not even know each other's names. Oscar now
told his, and asked theirs; and learned that they were named Fink; the
sons of the family who lived in the large house. They were from St.
Gall, and were warm-hearted, wide awake young fellows. They made
friends with this new acquaintance from Switzerland with all their
hearts, and Oscar was as ardent as they. What enterprises they would
plan and carry out together! But there was no time to stop and talk
about it now. He could only hint to them that he had a project of
founding a great society of Swiss, a kind of Swiss Confederation, in
which he wished them to take part. They received the idea with
enthusiasm, and, having fixed a time for meeting his new friends again,
Oscar returned to Rosemount with a happy heart. But what kind of a
factory that was of Mr. Fink's, he knew as little as before; he had
forgotten to ask.

From this time Oscar was always missing during the time that the
children were left to themselves to play as they pleased out-of-doors.
No one minded his absence; Fred was so busy with his collections that
he thought of nothing else; Fani and Emma were absorbed in their own
plans and only wanted to be let alone; and Elsli, feeling that her
society was not important to any one, sat by herself on the bench under
the lindens, occupied with her own thoughts by the hour together.
Sometimes she grew unhappy at the thought that she was living here so
well-off and at ease, while her father and mother still had such a hard
life at home. Often she thought about Nora, and wondered if she had
forgotten to ask the heavenly Father to call her to himself. She could
well be spared from the earth, where no one needed her, and she longed
to go. To tell the truth, Elsli dreaded to look forward. She did not
feel at home in Mrs. Stanhope's house; she had a constant sense of
unfitness for the position; yet when she thought of going back to her
parents, she knew that there she should be equally out of place. So the
poor child was living a lonely life at beautiful Rosemount, and thinking
herself a useless and superfluous being on the face of the earth.

Down along the bank of the river, a narrow foot-path ran for some
distance towards a thick clump of willows, in which it disappeared.
Elsli had often followed this path by herself; it was so quiet that she
liked it particularly; she never met any one there, for it led only from
Mrs. Stanhope's grounds to the willows. To-day, after Elsli had sat
alone for a time, she rose and walked along this path, and gazed at the
ever-moving waves as they rushed headlong toward the sea. Sunk in
thought, she came at last nearer to the willows than she had ever been
before. The bushes grew larger and higher and became real trees; from a
distance they looked like a thick wood that reached far into the water.
Here was complete solitude; not a creature was to be seen, and the plash
of the water below was the only sound that broke the stillness. Suddenly
a loud scream startled the air. Elsli drew back in alarm. Louder and
louder grew the sounds of distress, now pausing, then beginning afresh.
The child, recovering her courage, hurried forward to the spot from
which they came. Behind the first low-growing clump of willows the
ground was wet and swampy; and fast caught in the bog stood two
children;--a little girl, who was screaming with all her might, and a
boy, who was tugging at his sister's arm as hard as he could. When he
found that he could not pull her out he too began to cry aloud. Elsli
came to their aid, and lifted the little girl from her uncomfortable
position. The boy then slowly worked his way out, but his wooden shoes
were a great encumbrance, and he moved with difficulty. When the two
children stood at last on dry land with their wet shoes and clothes
soaked with muddy water, they presented a pitiable sight, and Elsli
asked them sympathetically whether they were far from home, and where
they lived.

The boy, who was scarcely more than six years old, evidently felt
immediate confidence in Elsli. He took her by the hand and said
entreatingly:--

"Come with us and tell mother about it!" And as he spoke he looked
ruefully at his shoes and at his sister's gown, on which the mud was
rapidly drying, and which looked as if it were made of pasteboard. The
little girl, not more than four years old, taking Elsli's other hand,
said softly, "Do come with us."

It was plain that they wanted some friendly intercession with their
mother, and Elsli felt sure that such small children could not have
wandered far from home; so she held tight the clasping hands and let
them lead her.

The boy became at once very confidential, and entered on the family
history. His mother was ill, and his grandfather could not go out into
the sun unless she helped him. The little girl's name was Lenchen, and
his own was Lucas, and the other boys were Tolf and Heini, and were not
much bigger than he. As he talked, they passed the willow-bushes, and
came to the taller trees that stood near together; and quite close to
the water, wedged tightly in between two of these trees, stood a small
hut, so low and gray with moss, that it could scarcely be distinguished
from the trees.

"Here," said the boy, and drew Elsli with him into the house. It was
pleasant and clean within, though low and small. The sun was streaming
in through the little window in the corner. Against the wall was a
bedstead, where the sick mother lay, staring with big, wide-open eyes at
the new-comer. In the sunny corner sat an old man with snow-white hair.
He looked up wonderingly at Elsli and the children. Two boys, not much
larger than Lucas, came towards them as they entered.

"We've been looking for you everywhere, and we couldn't find you
anywhere!" they cried. Elsli went to the bedside and told the mother
about the children's misfortune, and where she had found them.

The poor woman thanked her, and said it was very difficult for her to
look after the little ones, now that she was confined to her bed. The
two older boys had all they could do to keep the house in order, so she
let the younger children go out by themselves; and sometimes they got
into trouble, for they were foolish little things. As she spoke, the
mother looked with anxious eyes at Lenchen, as she stood in her
mud-stiffened clothes.

"Can I help you in any way?" asked Elsli. She spoke timidly, for the
woman's tone and manner compelled respect.

"We have never been obliged to beg," was the reply. "We help ourselves
as well as we can. But since I have been ill, it has been very hard.
What help could a young lady like you give us?"

"I am not a young lady. I can take off Lenchen's frock and wash it, and
hang it out to dry," replied Elsli, eagerly.

"Your dress shows that you are a young lady," answered the sick woman,
evidently much surprised; and she glanced searchingly at Elsli from
head to foot.

The dress, which was one of Nora's, was of soft woollen material,
trimmed with silk bands.

"It is not mine; it was only given me to wear," she said.

Suddenly the woman felt strongly drawn towards the friendly girl. She
thought she must be a foreigner. Her way of speaking, her whole
appearance had something unusual about it. Perhaps some one had taken
pity on her, and had lent her clothes because she was so good. So she
thanked Elsli and accepted her offer. Without hesitation Elsli set to
work, and it was easy to see that it was not for the first time. In a
trice she had freed Lenchen from her shell, and dressed her in a little
jacket that hung on the wall. Then she took the stiff frock upon her arm
and went with the children into the kitchen. She drew water in a wooden
bucket, and put the two pairs of little feet to soak, after removing the
dirty shoes and socks. When they were clean and dried, she sent the
children back into the other room, while she washed out the dress. They
went very obediently, but Lucas called back to her to hurry and come to
them as soon as the washing was done. The other boys now came into the
kitchen, desirous to scrape acquaintance with this novel visitor.

When Tolf saw how much at home the stranger seemed to be in her work, he
said:--

"Get our supper ready too, won't you? If you don't, we shall have to
wait till father comes home; and he doesn't know how to cook very well,
either."

"Yes," chimed in Heini; "and once he fell asleep when he was cooking, he
was so tired; and the potatoes were all burned up."

"Yes, and then father has to go fishing after supper," continued Tolf;
"every day, no matter how tired he is, he takes the boat and goes to
catch fish to sell."

"And we've got to learn to fish too," interrupted Heini; "father says
the oars are too heavy for us now, but by and by we shall be strong
enough, and we must all work as hard as we can, or else we shall have
nothing to eat, and our house will be taken away from us."

These words roused many old memories in Elsli; how well she knew how it
all was. It seemed to her as if she were at home with her father again,
and saw his tired face, and heard him say:--

"If we can only manage so that we shall not have to give up our house!"

When Elsli had finished the washing, she went to the mother's bedside,
and asked if she were willing that she should get the supper ready, and
if she would tell her what to do. The eyes of the sick woman glowed with
pleasure.

"Oh!" she cried, "how kind you are! will you really do that for us?" and
she seized Elsli's hand, and grasped it heartily. Then she told her what
she wished to have done. It was simple enough; Elsli had done the same
at home a hundred times. The boys ran into the kitchen with her.

"I know of something new for you to do," she said, presently. "How old
are you?"

"I am seven," "I am eight," they answered both at once; and Elsli
said:--

"Well, you are old enough. When I was eight I had to cook the potatoes
all by myself. Now I will show you how to do it, if you like, and then
when your father comes home tired, you can say, 'Sit down, dear father,
and eat your supper; it is all ready.'"

The boys were very much pleased with this proposition, and all eagerness
to begin. Elsli showed them how to make the fire with small bits of dry
wood at first, and to put the larger sticks on afterwards. Then the
potatoes must be washed very clean, and put into the pot, and a very
little water poured upon them. The boys worked away merrily, and
meanwhile Elsli fetched the sour milk. The boys watched the pot
unceasingly, but when the potatoes began to burst apart, first one and
then another, they were frightened and called aloud for Elsli. She
speedily reassured them, explaining that the bursting only meant that
they were good potatoes and that they were done. Then she threw away the
water that remained in the pot, and poured the potatoes out into a big
round dish. She carried the plates into the other room, and made the
table ready against the father's arrival.

The old grandfather, who had watched the proceedings from his corner,
called Elsli to him.

"You are good, and very handy too," he said; "can you come again
to-morrow?"

Elsli promised to come.

"Look, I am lame," he went on, "and ever since my daughter has been
sick, I have not been able to get out into the sun, because there is no
one for me to lean on; the children are too little. Will you help me
to-morrow to get out-of-doors?"

She promised that too. But now it was time for her to go; she must not
be away when the supper-bell rang. The mother thanked her again and
again, and the children begged her to stay longer. As she went out of
the house she saw a man just taking from his shoulder a shovel, which he
placed against the house. Elsli recognized him at once as the weary
laborer whom she had seen before, and who had reminded her of her
father. And as he stood there now, with his two boys affectionately
clinging to his sides, and looked sadly yet kindly at her, he seemed
still more to resemble her father, and she could not keep the tears from
her eyes. She could scarcely refrain from sobbing, so clearly did she
see the anxiety and trouble that were in his heart, the same that
weighed down her own father at home. She held her hand to him, he
pressed it kindly, and she was gone.

When the father entered the cottage, the children all began talking at
once, so that he could not understand a word they said. He went to the
bedside, and asked his wife for an explanation. She told him just what
had happened, and of her wonder that a child so well dressed and with
such an air of refinement should have been able to do that kind of work
for poor people like themselves, and she didn't know where she could
have come from; but the father said simply, "Our Heavenly Father has
taken pity on our misery, and has sent a kind angel to help us." And he
thought of the tears of pity that he had seen in Elsli's eyes.

Elsli ran as fast as she could along the path to the linden tree and up
into the garden. The supper-bell rang just as she reached the house, and
the different members of the household gathered together from their
different occupations. No one asked any questions of Elsli. She meant,
as soon as she could find a good opportunity, to ask Aunt Clarissa's
leave to continue her visits to the fisherman's family. She did not
doubt that she should be allowed to help them; they were so much in
need of help.

When she left the cottage, she had asked the woman if she should not
send a doctor to her; but the answer was that the best medicine would be
her own return. The poor mother had been constantly prevented from
getting well by trying to work before she was strong enough, and yet
there was so much to be done that it was hard for her to keep her bed.
If she could lie still for one week only, she would be well again.

So Elsli had decided that she could not help going again, and she was
glad to go. It was a real pleasure to her to feel that she could be of
use, that some one really needed her.

The next afternoon Elsli did not wait a moment on the seat by the river.
As soon as the children had scattered to their different amusements she
started down to the lindens, and she did not stop till she reached the
little house among the willows. All four children were standing in the
door-way awaiting her. They cried out with joy when they espied her, and
ran to meet her, and when she took little Lenchen up in her arms, the
child almost choked her in her close embrace. The boys too were so glad
to see her, and pressed so near her side, that she began to feel as if
she were surrounded by a tenderness and love such as she had never
before received; the poor, lonely little girl!

The mother's welcome was warm, and the grandfather raised both arms in
the air and cried out:--

"God be praised! I had begun to think that there was no chance for
to-day!"

He asked her to help him go directly out into the sun; for it was
pleasant and warm outside, but within he sat chilly all day long. It
was no easy task, for the old man was heavy, and leaned upon her so that
she could scarcely stand under his weight, but at last they struggled
out to where the sun shone pleasantly on the water, and gilded the
trunks of the old willows with his beams. Here the old man sat down, and
asked Elsli to sit by him. She did so, and he went on talking.

"Yes," he said, "that is the same old Rhine! How I have always loved it!
But it will soon be all over with me; I shall not be long here to see
it; I must go, and where? But it's foolish to talk this way to you; you
are too young to understand. Your life is just beginning. Are you not
happy, and glad to think that you can stay here by this beautiful water
for a long, long time to come?"

"I don't think of that when I look at the river," said Elsli. "I think
of the beautiful stream that flows through Paradise, and of the
happiness of those who live there."

"What do you say! How can you know anything about that?" said the old
man, looking at Elsli in amazement.

"I know what is said about it in a beautiful song; I have known it a
long time. One of my friends taught it to me, and she has gone there
already. Shall I repeat it to you?"

The old man nodded assent, and Elsli was glad to repeat the song again
to some one who must be interested to hear it, since he was so soon
going there himself, he said. She began directly, and, as the old man
listened with great attention, she kept on to the end. He shook his head
several times during the recitation, and, when it was finished, he
said:--

"That will not be for me."

Elsli was very much startled. "But why not, why not?" she asked,
anxiously. "It is certainly for every one; we must all die some time,
and then how happy we shall be, when we go there."

He shook his head again.

"Not for me; it is only for the good." He said no more for some minutes,
and Elsli sat in silence. At last he spoke again.

"I could tell you something, but I don't think you would understand me.
If a man doesn't get along well in life, and he thinks that God can help
him but does not, he says to himself that there's no use in praying, and
he must help himself as he can; and so he grows reckless and does things
that are wrong and that he shouldn't do; then when he comes to die, and
he has not thought for a long time anything about God and Heaven, then
the door of Paradise does not open to him, and he cannot go in to that
happy life. But why do I talk to you of this? You cannot understand."

But Elsli did understand partly, for she remembered hearing her
step-mother once say it was easy enough for those to pray who had all
they wanted, for they could see that God helped them; but he had never
helped her. And Elsli could hear again the sorrowful tones of her
father's voice as he answered:--

"If we think that, it will be worse and worse for us; that is not the
right way to think."

These thoughts made Elsli very sad; but presently she roused herself and
said she would go into the house and see if she could do something for
the sick woman; she would come back by and by, and help him into the
house again. The old man would not let her go, however; he drew her down
again upon the fallen tree on which he was sitting.

"No, no; stay here," he said. "Let us talk a little more; you are wise
COT your age. Don't you know some other song? I should like to hear
another."

Yes; Elsli knew many others; but she could not tell which it would be
best to repeat now. After thinking awhile, she suddenly looked up
brightly and said, "I remember one now that perhaps you will like. Shall
I say it?" and as her companion nodded assent, she went on:--

    "The night draws on--sped is my day;
      I know my end is near.
     I raise my trembling hands to pray;
      The grave's dark road I fear.

    "O God! thou art my only light!
       Be thou my guiding star!
     Hide all my trespasses from sight;
      Thy mercies endless are.

    "Look down upon me, Lord! I bow,
       Repenting of my sin,
     Oh! ope the gates of heaven now,
      And bid me enter in."

The old man was silent. In a few moments Elsli arose, and the
grandfather rose also, to go back with her into the house. While with
slow and painful steps they regained the door, he said, thoughtfully:--

"Yes; I heard that long ago when I went to church. Then, it is still
true! If I could only find my way there! Will you come to-morrow, my
child, and say those verses again?"

Elsli promised heartily. She was glad that she had thought of the right
words to help the poor old man. She set to work at once in the house,
and did not rest till she had put to rights everything that could make
the mother uneasy, and had made the sick woman and the children orderly
and comfortable. The boys were eager to have her come into the kitchen,
to see how well they remembered their yesterday's lesson. Everything
went right; and as she was leaving the house she again met the father
coming in, and again received from him the friendly yet depressed
greeting which reminded her of her own father. And when the four
children seized and held her, declaring that she should not leave them,
a rare smile lighted up his weary face for a moment, and he stretched
out his hand to her with such a tender look of love as she had never in
her life received from any one but her father.

And this was the story of one day after another for many succeeding
days. Elsli was living in quite another world from that in which the
other children were amusing themselves at Rosemount. A new life had come
to her, and she looked so happy always and so changed that Fred one day
called out:--

"What makes you so happy, Elsli? You look as if you had just caught two
gold beetles!"

Elsli had found a place in the world, and no longer felt herself
useless and superfluous. She knew that early every morning the four
children began to count the hours till she should come. The sick mother
longed for her to appear and with her skilful hands bring neatness and
comfort into her room. The grandfather depended on her help to take his
daily airing, and, more than that, he loved the songs and hymns and
gentle talk, with which Elsli brightened an hour of his lonely day. And
every day Elsli could see more clearly how the father grew happier in
his home-coming, now that he found the house-work done and a peaceful
evening of rest before him.

Only one thing troubled her. She had not found a chance to talk with
Aunt Clarissa, and these daily visits were still a secret. And what if
Mrs. Stanhope should disapprove them! This thought gave her great
anxiety. She knew that there was nothing wrong about them, but she was
not sure that they would be allowed. For all that, she could not give
them up. She had made many attempts to tell Aunt Clarissa, but there was
a great deal going on in the house, and every time she spoke she was
told that she must wait till another time. One day she determined to
make another effort to get a few minutes' attention from Aunt Clarissa
in the evening, and then she would tell her the whole story. After
supper she went to her and asked whether she might tell her something
before they went out on the terrace with the others. Aunt Clarissa asked
how long it would take, for Mrs. Stanhope wished them all to go out
together in a few minutes. Elsli answered that it would take some time
to tell it all, but that it was very important.

"Then, dear," said Aunt Clarissa, "we shall have to wait till some
other time; but I will call you to come to me in my room as soon as I
can find a quiet time. There is no hurry, I'm sure."

So it was put off again.




CHAPTER V.

GREAT PREPARATIONS.


The day had come for the expedition to Cologne. It was a perfect day.
The sky was blue and the sun shone bright. The children had a delightful
trip, and the zooelogical garden was beyond all expectation interesting.
Nevertheless, when they went to bed that night, each was a little
dissatisfied on looking back over the day. Each thought:--

"It was splendid! but what a shame!"

Yet each was thinking of a different disappointment.

When they went on board the steamboat in the morning, Mrs. Stanhope
said:--

"Now, all come and sit here quietly with me; there are so many
passengers to-day that it will not do for you to be running about."

This prevented Oscar from carrying out his plan of going through the
crowd, to find as many fellow-countrymen as he could, whom he could
invite to his great Festival.

Emma had cherished a hope that by some unexpected arrangement it would
turn out that the boat would stop for a little while in sight of the
ruined castle, and she had brought pencils and paper, so as to be ready
for the fortunate moment, if it should come. She was greatly
disappointed when the boat shot swiftly by the spot, so that she hardly
caught even a glimpse of the chosen view. Fani glanced at her
despondently, with a look which said:--

"You see I was right. There's nothing to be done about it."

On entering the gardens, Mrs. Stanhope said again that they must all
keep together. No one must linger behind, nor hurry before, or they
might get lost; and they must not touch anything in the garden.

This was a blow to Fred, and took away most of his satisfaction in
seeing the animals; and his martyrdom did not cease while they were in
the gardens. Here he heard great buzzing and humming in a bush, and he
longed to see the wonderful insects that made it. There he saw
bright-colored butterflies fluttering about the flowers; on one side
red-gold beetles were creeping in the grass before his eyes; on the
other some huge lizards were sunning themselves on a rock. He must pass
by all these attractions; not stop a moment to examine them, not touch
one of all this multitude of treasures. It was almost too much for him.
He could scarcely keep his hands off.

Elsli walked silently along, scarcely able to enjoy anything she saw,
for thinking:--

"They are all waiting for me; and I shall not come all day."

And so it was that all five, in spite of the enjoyments of the day, went
to bed at night with the feeling, "What a shame!"

But the next morning the thoughts of disappointment had passed away, and
they came out to their recreation in the garden with happy plans for the
day.

Oscar had a great deal of business on hand. He must see the Fink boys
and fix the day for the Festival. Then, Feklitus was to come to-day, and
he must be met at the station. They had put off the Festival till his
arrival, for he would be one countryman more, and that was worth
counting. Oscar had written him that there were three good hotels near
the station; the Bunch of Grapes, the Eagle, and the Morning Star. A
little farther on, down by the Rhine, was a magnificent house, as large
as the church and the school-house at home put together; yes, and six
dwelling-houses besides. It was called the Crown Prince. There were
Rhine baths there, and many guests came for the sake of the bathing;
perhaps this hotel was rather more expensive than the others.

Mr. and Mrs. Bickel immediately decided in favor of the Crown Prince, on
account of the name, which certainly suited perfectly for their son, and
also because of the acquaintances he might make there. Of course, there
would be only the best of company there, since only those would go who
could afford to pay high prices. It was proper, too, to show people
that their son was a person who could afford to stay at the most
expensive place. Oscar was therefore requested to engage a room for
Feklitus at the Crown Prince.

When the time came for the children to go out and occupy themselves as
they pleased, Oscar went off like a shot. He and the Fink brothers were
now such fast friends that they could not pass one day without meeting,
and had promised to remain intimate all their lives long. Oscar had
never had such friends before. When they were together the hours flew
like minutes, for they had a thousand interests in common--their plays,
their plans, their wishes for the future; they talked over everything
together.

When the hour came for Feklitus to arrive, they started for the station
together. In spite of the friendliness with which the Fink boys met the
new-comer, the greeting was rather a one-sided affair, for Feklitus was
not accustomed to making friends with strangers. His trunks were handed
over to the omnibus-driver, and the four boys proceeded to the hotel on
foot. Here he was shown to a very large room, furnished in splendid
bright red satin, and with windows higher than the doors of most
Buchberg houses.

Oscar began directly to tell Feklitus the arrangements that were to be
made to-day in preparation for the great Festival to-morrow. The
flag-staff must be set in a hole in the ground, and held firm by stones
placed close around its base, so that there would be no delay in the
morning. Then he told him whom he had found to join the society and take
part in the Festival.

Feklitus' nose went up in scorn.

"A fine set of people you have collected! and all from the small
cantons, too!" he exclaimed.

"What do you mean?" cried Oscar, angrily. "Who was it that wanted to
put on the banner, 'Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity'?"

"Well, I say that still," answered Feklitus, stoutly. "But I'll have
fraternity with those I choose, and not with every one that comes along,
as you do."

"Ho, ho! that's it, is it?" cried Oscar, still more furious. "What do
you understand, then, by equality?"

"Just what you do," retorted Feklitus. "I mean that we all have equal
rights to do our own way; I don't care what other people do as long as
they let me alone to act as I choose."

"Oh, you're a fine Swiss!" cried Oscar, screaming with excitement. "Much
you must know about the history of your country! Do you know what you
would be doing now if it had not been for the brave fellows from the
small cantons? You'd be crouching before the tyrant's hat and licking
the dust from his shoes!"

At this point the Fink boys joined with great liveliness in the dispute,
and supported Oscar's side so energetically that Feklitus became excited
in his turn, and shouted that he knew the history of Switzerland as well
as they did, and that he had always been at the head of his class in
school. The quarrel grew louder and louder, and above all Oscar's voice
rose the loudest, crying angrily:--

"We will show you by and by, when we are old enough, what fraternity and
equality and love of our country means. We will found a society for the
whole of Switzerland, and every year we will celebrate the Feast of the
Foundation, in which all the inhabitants of all the cantons shall take
part; and at the feasts they shall sit in the order in which they
joined the society. The first members shall sit at the head, and then
you will see who they are!"

"Yes; then you'll see!" screamed the Finks, and Feklitus raised his
voice still more furiously:--

"Well, you won't come anywhere near the first, you St. Gall fellows, not
by a long piece!"

Just here the door was thrown wide-open by a very elegant waiter, who
looked anxiously at the windows, as if he was afraid they had been
broken in the fray. Then he placed himself in the door-way with a very
polite air, as if to intimate that he would there await the close of the
entertainment.

Oscar found it quite time to lower his voice, and to invite his friends
to go with him to the place chosen for the Festival. The polite
spectator waiting at the door seemed to exercise a subduing influence
upon all the young patriots; for they became suddenly silent, and
followed Oscar readily. He stopped at Rosemount only to fetch his
banner, and then the boys went on.

When they reached the hill where the windmill stood, the banner was
unrolled and admired. The garland of Alpine roses was beautiful with its
bright colors and green leaves. On the other side Elsli had neatly sewed
a large circle of paper, on which Oscar had inscribed his favorite
motto, in large, legible letters.

The afternoon sun shone brightly on the hill and on the great sails of
the windmill. It was a fine place for a festival. The Fink brothers
began to dig a hole for the flag-staff; and Oscar directed them, and
when they were ready he held the staff upright while they filled in the
earth around it, and piled up the heavy stones. Feklitus looked on.

Just before this, the owner of the mill had decided on a walk to visit
his property. He was looking about inside, when unusual noises without
attracted his attention. Coming to a window in the upper story, he
looked down on the scene below. There, directly before his astonished
eyes, floated a banner, on which these words were plainly visible:

    "Freedom we shout! Freedom for all!
        Freedom forever and aye!
    We will not yield till all chains fall,
        And tyrants are banished or die!"

He saw, too, that the boys were working hard to fasten the staff
securely in its place.

"Hm, hm, so, so!" he murmured; "that's to be planted on my land! We'll
see about that."

He stood still at his post of observation, and watched the farther
proceedings. When the staff was firmly fixed so that it was not swayed
by the blowing of the banner above, it was carefully drawn out, the
stones were buried in the hole and neatly covered with sod. The
preparations for the Festival were now all made, and to-morrow the
banner could be easily set in place, and the celebration go on.

Oscar had long had a speech in readiness. Now he cast one long delighted
glance at the beautiful platform before the windmill, so suitable for a
speaker.

"At six o'clock to-morrow evening, not before; the others could not get
away before," he said to his friends. "The meeting-place is behind
Rosemount, by the three oaks. From there we shall march to music."

Then the four boys went down the hill, and at the main road they
separated, promising to meet at the appointed time and place to-morrow.

Early in the morning of this same day, Emma had begun in her busy brain
a new set of schemes. On the trip the day before, she had seen something
which had excited her inventive powers in the highest degree. At the
table at noon a keen observer would have suspected that something was in
the wind, from the unseemly haste with which the little girl devoured
her food. She was too busy with her project to remember her manners!
When they arose from the table, and Mrs. Stanhope, with her
never-forgotten politeness, dismissed them with "many wishes for an
agreeable afternoon," Emma slipped lightly down the stairs, like a
little weasel, and into the kitchen. The fat cook looked up with
surprise from her cup of coffee; she could not get along without her
coffee at noon, whatever happened.

"Well, now, has anything gone wrong with you, miss?" she asked.

"Oh, no," answered Emma; "but I have a little favor to ask of you.
Drink your coffee, first; do."

"I've finished. What do you want?" asked the cook, slowly rising from
her chair.

"My shoes are very dusty; will you please wipe them for me?" asked Emma,
as politely as if she could not speak in any other way.

"It's hardly worth while," answered the woman, but she lifted Emma's
foot upon a cricket, and began to rub it.

"And I want to ask you something more," began Emma. "Where do you get
those beautiful fish that we have on the table so often?"

"They come out of the water near by," answered the cook.

"Yes, of course; but I mean, does a fisherman bring them to you, or do
you go yourself to fetch them?"

"That would be a queer thing, if I had to trot round a couple of hours
before I could have fish for my frying-pan! There! your shoes are all
clean again." And she laid the brush away.

"Does it take a couple of hours to go to the fisherman's?" asked Emma.

"Goodness me! I can't speak always as if I were on oath; if you want to
know how far it is, you'd better go measure it yourself, miss," retorted
the displeased woman.

"That's just what I want to do! Will you please tell me the way?" asked
Emma; and she thanked the cook for brushing her shoes, like a little
lady.

"You go directly down behind the house, as far as the main road; go
along the road a little way, and then turn to the left along a narrow
path, till you come to a clump of willows; there you'll find the
fisherman's house."

With many thanks Emma ran off.

"She is thinking of going a-fishing herself, I'm sure," said the cook,
looking after her.

Emma rushed into the garden to find Fani.

"Come along, come with me! I know something nice! We can do it now!"
and, dragging the boy along with her, the impetuous girl told him that
the day before she had seen a fisherman out in his boat on the river,
and she had made an excuse to go into the kitchen to speak to the cook,
because she knew that children were not allowed there unless they had an
errand to do; and she had found out where the fisherman lived, and of
course they could hire his boat. In that they could go out on the river,
and she would keep the boat still while Fani took a sketch of the ruin.
If he could not finish it the first time, they could go again and again.
It wouldn't cost so much to hire the boat that they couldn't take it
several times if necessary.

Fani was delighted. But there was one difficulty.

"Who will row us, Elsli? I don't know how, and the fisherman couldn't
leave his work so long."

"I can row myself. I took four people out in a boat once, when I was
making a visit, near a lake, to some friends of mamma's. I have often
rowed about alone. You don't know how skilful I am."

Fani was quite satisfied. He never dreamed of questioning Emma's
capability. They went down to the road, and, after looking about for
some time and retracing their steps, they found at last the narrow
foot-path leading to the left, and, after walking a little way, they
saw before them the clump of willows at a short distance. It was now
nearly evening, for they had been a long time finding the way. The path
they had taken was twice as long as that by the river, by which Elsli
went; but they knew nothing of that. Under the willows all was still;
there was nothing to be seen beyond but more willows, and the sound of
the rushing river came through the silence to their ears. The children
came in among the trees till they could see the water that flowed
beyond. There lay the boat not far from them, and behind the bushes a
slender thread of blue smoke rising into the air showed them where the
fisherman's hut was. A man was just going down to the edge of the water,
and presently he began to hammer at something in the boat. Emma ran
towards him, and Fani followed.

"Are you the fisherman?" asked Emma?

The man raised his head, and stopped hammering.

"Yes, I am; at your service," he answered, politely. "Do you want to buy
some fish?"

Emma explained that they only wanted to hire a boat, just for an hour or
two; not to go far away from the shore at all. The man looked doubtful.
Fani looked like a steady little fellow. He ought to manage a boat;
still, it was best to be prudent, so he asked,--

"Are you young people in the habit of rowing yourselves?"

"Oh, yes, it is not our first trip, by any means," said Emma. "We can
take care of ourselves"; and Fani was no less confident.

The fisherman said it was too late to go that day; he should need the
boat himself, and there was some mending to be done to it before it
could be used. If they wanted it the next day, he would have it ready;
they could take it themselves, if he was not there. They ought not to go
far from shore, and the young gentleman could use the pole where the
oars wouldn't serve; he would understand. Emma promised to be careful,
and they promised to pay on their return; and these arrangements being
completed to their immense satisfaction, the children walked happily
back to Rosemount, eagerly discussing their plans on the way. At the
same time Elsli came silent and alone along the little foot-path by the
river. All three came from the same place, but they knew nothing of each
other, for Elsli had not come out of the house till after the others had
reached the road. In the garden they met, and asked each other whether
the supper-bell had rung. As they spoke they heard it; and, running up
the stone steps, they sat down to supper without farther questions, and
each was glad that the others asked none.




CHAPTER VI.

ANXIETY AT ROSEMOUNT.


The only really quiet part of the day at Rosemount was during the
morning hours, when the children were busy writing letters home and
learning their lessons. To-day, however, a certain restlessness seemed
to have taken possession of them all. Emma and Fani could not keep still
a minute. The latter tossed his papers about as if he couldn't make up
his mind which one he wanted. The former made all sorts of signs to him
across the table, and, in the midst of studying her French verbs, she
seemed to be suddenly seized with a desire for lead-pencils, for she
began to sharpen all that she could get together, one after the other.
Oscar was writing out his speech. Any one would have thought that he was
composing a drama and acting it out as he went along; he kept throwing
up his head, and gazing enthusiastically first at one inkstand and then
at another, as if he were summoning them all to great heroic deeds.

Aunt Clarissa, who generally sat in the room during the lesson-time to
keep order in the little company, had just been called out by Lina, the
maid-servant, who was usually a most quiet and reserved young person,
but who was now, evidently, much excited and almost distressed as she
asked to "speak a word with Mrs. Clarissa."

No sooner was the door closed than Oscar broke out eagerly:--

"Though neither you nor anybody knows where the Festival is to be this
evening, Fani, yet promise me, on your word of honor, that you will
join us--Promise! at quarter before six, at the three oaks. Promise! and
from there we march to the place of celebration."

Fani looked at Emma.

"Yes, of course you can promise. We shall be back by that time," said
Emma, decidedly. "You see, Oscar, we have something to do together
before that; but we are going at two o'clock if we can get away."

"Go where you please; only promise to be back," said Oscar.

Fani promised that he would be at the three oaks before six o'clock.

"And you too, Fred; we have not too many at the best. Promise that
you'll come too."

It was not so easy to get Fred's consent; he was always slow to make a
promise. Perhaps he would come; but, if he had anything important to
attend to, he couldn't come if he did promise, so he must be excused.

Oscar was determined to have his own way. Fred was obstinate and would
not yield. Emma and Fani were not at all loath to give up their studies
and join in the dispute.

In the other room, Lina, her cheeks flaming with excitement, was
declaring to Mrs. Clarissa that she would not stay another day in the
house; no one would believe such things could happen who hadn't seen
them; she never heard of such things before in her life.

"Do try to speak plainly, so that I can understand what you mean," said
Clarissa, who had not an idea what the girl was talking about.

"Well, I noticed it a little once or twice before," said the agitated
house-maid; "but I thought it came in at the open window. But to-day,
just now, when I opened the drawer of the young gentleman's wash-stand
to clean it, out jumped a live frog. I opened another and there were a
lot of spiders crawling about! I slapped at them with a cloth and they
ran into all the corners, and I couldn't get them out. Then I saw that
the key was in the writing-desk, and I thought what if by chance any of
the disgusting creatures had got in there; for what would Mrs. Stanhope
say? I opened one division and then another and another. Hu! how it
looked! I can't tell you how horrid it was! Snails, caterpillars,
beetles, every sort of ugly living creature crawled out of every
place,--it was all dirty and nasty and abominable! I cleaned and brushed
and washed and scrubbed as well as I could; but it was so dirty and so
sticky! Ugh! And it was done on purpose, too; that's the worst of it;
and the nasty things have got into my clothes and my hair and all over
me! That stupid young gentleman did it just to frighten whoever came and
found them there! I know he did!"

"No, Lina, you're mistaken," said Clarissa, when she could get in a
word. "Come with me, and I'll see what can be done with the room. The
boy didn't mean to frighten any one. I'm only afraid he was trying to
hide them where they wouldn't be found. Let's go and see."

The aspect of Fred's room was indeed alarming. All the drawers and
shelves in the different pieces of furniture were pulled out, and all
were dirty and bore the marks of the creatures who had been kept in
them. On the floor lay the remains of the spiders and worms that Lina
had destroyed. The windows also were spotted with the dead bodies of
insects. Clarissa shook her head sadly.

"Call the lad to come up here," she said. "But do not make any more fuss
about the matter. Listen to me, Lina; we must make this all clean and
nice again without letting Mrs. Stanhope know anything about it. Do you
understand?"

Lina muttered something to herself and went to call Fred. When the poor
lad entered his room and saw the destruction of all his carefully
preserved treasures, he turned as white as chalk, and spoke not one
word.

"My dear boy," said Clarissa very gently, "you need not be frightened,
but I must tell you that you cannot use these drawers nor this desk for
this purpose. Now, we will clean them all out, but remember that no more
creatures must be brought into the house."

"Oh, my collection! my whole collection!"

"Yes, you see this is not the way to go to work to make a collection.
Don't be unhappy. I will see about your getting some more creatures. But
the first thing is to get this room cleaned up, and I'm sure you won't
want to give us so much trouble again."

Fred glanced at the places where his most cherished treasures had been
stored. His rare oleander-worms and his priceless beetles all were
destroyed. The drawers all opened, the creatures all killed and spoiled.
He went down stairs again, but he could not go back to the others and
have them ask him why he had been sent for. He went out into the garden,
and down to the seat under the lindens by the river. The thought of his
specimens, his precious specimens, was too much for the poor fellow. He
threw himself on the ground and poured out his sorrows in sobs and
tears.

In the afternoon, when the others all ran out rejoicing in the sunshine,
he hid himself in a corner of the school-room, and wrote the following
letter:--

     DEAR AUNTY:--You will cry when you read this, I am sure. It is all
     done for, my entire collection; all killed with a dust-cloth,
     squashed, smashed, driven out of windows, and into holes, and all
     by a maid-servant. As I had no boxes for them, I naturally put my
     specimens into the best places I could find for them. In the
     writing-desk in my room were ever so many little divisions, just
     the very thing to put different varieties into. When the maid came
     to clear up the room, she didn't know anything about their value,
     of course, and she thrust her hateful brush right in and destroyed
     them all. She is a savage, an ignorant savage. I did as you told
     me, dear aunty. Not one tiny little frog even have I carried in my
     pockets, not even a beetle; and this is the result. I will not tell
     you all the things I had found; I couldn't bear to describe them.
     Two such beauties of beetles--bright red wings, the body lilac
     blue, and glittering as any precious stone! Such a rare species!
     And an oleander-sphinx! And my magnificent caterpillar of the
     humming-bird moth!--you know, aunty, that one with yellow stripes
     and blue eye-spots. All trodden to death on the floor.

     I must stop; the longer I think of it, the worse I feel. I will
     say one thing though. You may call a person "Aunty," but that
     doesn't make her one. When we first came here, I used to say to
     Fani, when he wanted anything, "Why don't you go and ask Aunt
     Clarissa?" and he answered more than a dozen times, "That isn't
     allowed here." So at last I understood, and as I didn't want to
     lead him to do anything out of the way, I didn't say it any more.
     But now you see the difference between a real aunt and a
     make-believe one. There is nothing in the world that we can't ask
     you. If you can't do it, you say so, and there's the end of it. But
     that's no reason for not asking another time; there is always
     something to ask, and you understand that, and don't expect us to
     stop asking just because you have to say no sometimes. Now, this
     whole trouble comes from this; for when I asked Fani to ask Aunt
     Clarissa to give me some twenty or thirty old boxes to keep my
     specimens in, he said it was not proper to ask for so many things,
     and I could pack them in paper. Just think of that! To wrap living
     creatures up in paper! Of course Fani doesn't understand anything
     about such things.

     Now what I want you to do, dear aunty, is to write in your next
     letter that we are to come home; it is high time. It is four weeks
     since we came, and that is long enough to be away from home; for
     home is the best place in the whole world. There are plenty of
     boxes to be had there, and everything that you want, and there are
     nice places for things, and there isn't such danger of accidents.
     And if anything does go wrong, you are there, aunty, and in a
     minute it is set right again. Do write and say that we may leave
     here on Saturday, and then on Sunday we shall be at home again. How
     glad we shall be! Good-bye, dear aunty; your ever-loving nephew,

     FRED.

The evening came; lovely and bright. Under the three oaks were assembled
the two Fink boys, the baker's son from Lucerne, the shoemaker's
apprentice from Uri, the hotel porter from Schwyz, and Feklitus! Oscar
stood in the midst with his banner, and looked sharply in every
direction, for it was almost six o'clock and neither Fred nor Fani was
in sight. The clock struck; five, ten minutes passed, and they did not
come.

Oscar felt that it was useless to wait longer. Fred did not mean to
come; he had seen that in the morning; but Fani, where was he? As he
asked himself this question, Oscar raised his fist threateningly in the
air and muttered to himself:--

"Oh, that Emma! that Xanthippe!"

His original intention had been to march to the windmill to the music of
fife and drum, flute and harmonicon, but he had given up part of this
plan; chiefly, he said to himself, on account of his father's advice not
to make any disturbance in a strange place; but also because he could
not get a drum, and Feklitus would not play the flute.

Now it was time to move, and the procession began to march. The lad from
Lucerne went first, playing briskly upon the harmonicon; the others
followed two and two, and Oscar in the middle held aloft the banner. The
staff was quickly planted as previously arranged; the beautiful banner
floated proudly over the land. Oscar took his stand by it, and the
others formed a circle, lying on the grass about him. With a loud
ringing voice he began:--

"Friends and brothers!"

"What does this mean? What is this all about?" suddenly thundered a
voice behind him.

The boys sprang to their feet. Oscar looked round. Two bearded men in
uniform stood close behind him and looked at him with threatening
glances. In a flash Oscar turned about, made one great leap down the
hill-side and away across the field like a madman. Behind him came the
Finks, scarcely touching the ground. Down the other side ran the
Lucerner fast on the heels of the Schwyzer, who tripped, and both went
headlong into a ditch. Feklitus was the only one who kept his ground. He
knew who he was; Fortunatus, the only son of Mr. Bickel. No one would
dare to meddle with him. He knew, too, that he was by no means nimble,
and the sudden appearance of the men in uniform had given him a strange
feeling of heaviness in his legs. He had no mind to stay alone, however,
and so he seized the shoemaker's boy by the collar, and held him as in a
vise.

One of the men now came up to them and said roughly,--

"Come along to the watch-house and explain what you have been about, and
what it all means."

The Uri boy hid himself as well as he could. Feklitus, half-frightened,
half-angry, answered,--

"We have done nothing. We are not to blame. It's all Oscar's doing."

"We don't know anything about that," said the man. "You come along with
us. Our motto is, 'Taken together, hung together.'" Then he turned to
his comrade, and they began to whisper.

Feklitus was as pale as a ghost.

"Did you hear that? They are going to hang us," he said, grasping his
companion still more tightly.

"Let us run away," gasped the boy, hardly able to speak for choking.

Feklitus looked at the men; they were in earnest conversation with the
miller. He sprang from the ground; fear gave him unwonted agility. Down
the hill he raced, his hair fairly standing on end with fright, and the
Uri boy after him. Neither looked back to see whether they were pursued,
but they thought they heard footsteps behind them. On they ran--on, on;
at last they separated; one this way, the other that; and then both
disappeared. They had not been followed.

Oscar reached Rosemount all out of breath. He rushed up the steps, ran
to his bed-room, took out his portfolio, threw himself on a seat before
the table, and wrote the following, sobbing more and more as he went
on:--

     DEAR AUNTY,--I want your help. Something has happened that may have
     very unpleasant consequences, and you are the only person that can
     help me; you will know how. I really did mean to be careful, just
     as my father bade me, and not do anything out of the way, and
     particularly not make a noise. You will not think that I did wrong
     to select the best of the mottoes. You know you said yourself that
     though we had no tyrants ourselves, yet, where there were any, it
     was a splendid verse. I cannot explain it all exactly, but we were
     taken by surprise in the middle of a perfectly harmless meeting. We
     succeeded in escaping, but I think perhaps we shall be prosecuted;
     and if my name comes out, they may write to papa from the court of
     justice here, and that would be horrible. You will stand by me,
     won't you, dear aunty? If a letter should come to my father,
     couldn't you get hold of it and read it and answer it yourself,
     without letting him know? You can explain to the gentlemen that we
     were only having a little Swiss celebration just among ourselves.
     Pray do help me, and not let the story get out. I hope you will
     write to-morrow and tell us to come home. We have been away long
     enough. I am sure papa and mamma would be glad, for we cannot do
     our lessons nicely here, at all. Everything is far better at home;
     things are better arranged, and the amusements are a great deal
     better. Do write to us to come home directly; and tell me too that
     you have done what I ask about the letter to papa. Best love,
     dearest aunty,

     From your loving nephew,

     OSCAR.

The letter was folded in haste, and the address quickly added; and the
writer ran with all his might to the post-office, a short distance from
the house. He had to hurry, for it was nearly supper-time. As he came
tearing along into the court-yard at Rosemount, on his return, he
started back; for there stood one of the men in uniform, with the
deserted banner in his hand. He was waiting to be let in. The door
opened. He entered. Oscar drew back behind a great oak-tree. His heart
beat like a trip-hammer. What was going on inside there? Mrs. Stanhope
would know now all about it! What would she think of him after this!
Perhaps she would send them all home with a letter of complaint to their
father! His heart beat louder and louder. Perhaps the man came to fetch
him to be punished and imprisoned. Had he broken some law when he had
the hole dug in front of the mill, when there was nothing but short
grass there? Oh, if he had only followed his father's advice, and not
tried to do anything in this strange country without leave! All these
anxious thoughts ran through Oscar's head, and the longer that dreadful
man stayed, the more alarmed he grew.

Clarissa had just finished her disagreeable task, and, assisted very
reluctantly by the indignant Lina, had at last succeeded in removing all
traces of Fred's unfortunate collection, when a tremendous ringing at
the house-door called her down stairs. It was the watchman with the
banner. Another strange occurrence. What would happen next? She was
really frightened when she recognized Oscar's banner, and read the too
distinctly printed motto which embellished it. Clarissa looked anxiously
at the different doors for fear that Mrs. Stanhope might come through
one of them. She asked the man what his business might be. He replied
that they had discovered that the owner of the banner he held in his
hand belonged at Rosemount, and also that they had come to the
conclusion that all that affair was only boys' play, though at first the
miller had thought otherwise because of the motto. This was why he had
informed the police. Now, they merely wished to advise Mrs. Stanhope to
bid her young people keep such games within the limits of her own
grounds.

Clarissa still glanced anxiously towards the doors, while she assured
the man that his advice would be followed, and pressed a coin into his
hand as an acknowledgment of the trouble he had taken. Then she
hurriedly took the banner, rolled it up, and carried it away. She was
determined, if possible, to keep from Mrs. Stanhope all knowledge of
this day's occurrences. But would it be possible?

However, all was safe for the present; and, when the bell rang for
supper, Clarissa laid aside her anxiety and went cheerfully into the
dining-room. Oscar and Fred followed each other with slow steps and
dejected demeanor. Their usual vivacity had vanished, and, as they
seated themselves at the table, they hung their heads like hyacinths
nipped by the frost.

Elsli sat next to Fred; her cheeks were glowing with exercise, for she
had had to run fast all the way home to be in time for supper. She, too,
hung her head over her plate to hide her heated face.

Emma and Fani were not there.

Mrs. Stanhope looked silently first at the empty places, then at the
children.

Clarissa watched the door uneasily; no one came.

"I am willing to allow children all possible freedom," said Mrs.
Stanhope, seriously; "but the order of the house must be maintained. I
am very much annoyed at unpunctuality at meals. Fani has never allowed
himself any such irregularity. I wonder how it happened now."

She looked from one brother to another as if expecting some explanation.
They looked so uncomfortable that she took it as a sign of regret for
their sister's delinquency, and so forbore farther remark.

After supper, Mrs. Stanhope went out as usual on the terrace, and the
others followed. It began to grow dark. Clarissa's anxiety became
unendurable; what could have happened to the children?

"Dear Mrs. Stanhope," she said, entreatingly, "do let me send some one
out to look for the children. I cannot rest for fear that they have met
with some accident."

"Where can we send? We have no clue to the direction they have taken,"
answered Mrs. Stanhope in a tone of vexation. "It is very provoking.
Fani never did such a thing before. I will go with you."

She rose and went through a long corridor to the court-yard. Clarissa
and the children followed. There they found the servants all assembled:
the footman, coachman, cook, and maids were holding a council. They were
talking over the children's absence, its possible cause, and Mrs.
Stanhope's probable displeasure. When that lady came upon them
unperceived, they tried to separate and escape; but it was too late. She
told the men to go out into the street and to inquire in different
directions whether anything had been seen of the lost children. Lina
came forward to say that the cook knew that the young lady had gone
fishing. It was a pity that all these young people were so cruel to
animals, the house-maid added; and therewith she shot an angry glance at
Fred, whom she hadn't forgiven for the trouble he had given her.

"For Heaven's sake!" cried Clarissa, in great alarm. "If those children
have gone out on the river, something terrible must have happened to
them! If we could only have the least idea which way they went!"

The cook, being appealed to, said that she had directed the young lady
to the fisherman's hut. It might be well to look for her there.

Clarissa started at once, calling the men to go with her and show her
the way.

Poor Elsli was more frightened now than any one else. She thought that
Aunt Clarissa would now learn the story which she ought long ago to have
told her. By her daily visits she had become so familiar with all the
wants and sufferings of the fisherman's family that she had been led on
to undertake more and more, till at last she had come to do nearly all
the housework of the poor little dwelling. But gradually had grown upon
her the conviction that Mrs. Stanhope would be extremely displeased if
she knew of her conduct. In great agony she now started after Aunt
Clarissa, crying out:--

"Oh, do let me go with you! I have something to tell you, and we can
talk as we go."

"My dear child, what a time to choose to tell me something! How could I
listen now? Turn back directly. What will Mrs. Stanhope think to see you
running away at such a time?"

Mrs. Stanhope only thought that Elsli was anxious about her brother, as
was very natural. She bade the children go to bed, since they could be
of no use in finding the missing ones. They obeyed her in silence, and
went to their rooms. The boys fell asleep as soon as their heads touched
their pillows, and so happily lost remembrance of their troubles; but
poor Elsli sat on her bed with wide-open eyes, for the anxious fear in
her heart made sleep impossible. She went over and over again the events
of the last few weeks. She had not at first meant to do wrong, but she
certainly ought not to have repeated her visits to the fisherman's house
without leave, especially as she knew that Mrs. Stanhope would probably
object. Yet, how could she have left those poor people without help,
when she found that she could do so much for them, and they reminded her
so much of her family at home? Probably Mrs. Stanhope would send her and
Fani away, but she deserved it and Fani did not. The more the poor girl
pondered over all this trouble, the more unhappy she became; and at last
she burst into tears and sobbed out:--

"Oh, if I only had some one to help me. I cannot tell what to do!"

Then Elsli remembered that she could bring her trouble to her Heavenly
Father, and seek comfort and forgiveness from him. She had already
repeated her daily evening prayer; but now she folded her hands again,
and prayed, not as a form but from the bottom of her heart, that God
would help her in her dire need, so that Fani should not be punished for
her fault, and that she should not do wrong again, and that the
fisherman's family should not suffer any more. Peace came as she prayed,
and she lay down and slept at last.




CHAPTER VII.

AN UNEXPECTED TERMINATION.


Directly after dinner Emma and Fani had started on their expedition.
They had no trouble to-day in finding their way to the willows, and they
went as quickly as they could, so that they could have a long afternoon,
and yet get back in time for Oscar's Festival.

They found the boat ready for them; oars and pole all in position, and a
seat in the middle. The boat was but lightly fastened to the shore, and
the children sprang gayly into it. Emma took the oars and pushed off.
She rowed well, and knew what she was about. She handled the boat
skilfully, for she had often been out on the lake with her friend when
the wind blew and the waves were high.

Fani took his seat in the stern, saying:--

"When you want my help, just say so, Emma. But I don't know anything at
all about rowing."

"I shan't need you," answered Emma, bravely, as she pulled away.

Two things, however, she had not counted on. The boat was much heavier
than that which she had used on the lake, and the swift current of the
river was a very different thing to row against, from the quiet waters
of a lake. Emma worked sturdily against the stream. She wanted to go out
far enough to be in full sight of the ruined castle. She had arranged in
her mind a plan for keeping the boat in place while Fani sketched. But
she soon began to find herself growing very tired, while yet she made
little head-way.

"Take the pole, Fani," she said, "and stick it firmly against the
bottom and push." Fani did so, and the boat made an advance of several
feet. "Again, again, Fani." Fani did his best.

"Now I'll row a bit farther into the middle of the river, then hold fast
so that we shall not be carried down; here we are! there is the ruin,
Fani! Now, Fani, stick the pole down, and I'll hold it and you can begin
to sketch."

Fani stuck his pole manfully into the bottom of the river, but the
rushing current seized it and threw it up again as if it had been a
reed.

"Oh! oh!" he cried, "we shall be carried away!"

"You take one of the oars and we'll row back to the shore," said Emma,
anxiously. "Come, be quick!"

But the stream seized the oar before Fani could take it from her, and it
was swept away.

"What shall we do? There is no one to help us," cried Emma, beside
herself. "Suppose the boat should upset!"

Faster and faster they were whirled along, the boat tossing like a
nut-shell upon the waves.

The children sat still, although frightened almost to death.

"Fani, we are Los! who can help us?" screamed Emma. "Let us say our
prayers. I have forgotten to say them ever since I came to Rosemount. I
promised mamma not to forget; but I did. Do you think God will hear me
now? Fani, you pray; you do it every day, I know."

"No; I thought Elsli would do it for me and for herself," said the boy
hoarsely.

"That is no good; you must do it for yourself or God will not listen. He
will only say, 'I do not know him,' when Elsli prays for you. Oh, if I
had not forgotten to pray myself, he would not punish me so now!"

And then she sat silent, looking at the sky and praying from her heart
that God would forgive her forgetfulness of him, and save her and Fani
from the danger that threatened them.

"A steamboat! A steamboat! It is going to run us down!" shrieked Fani;
and his fears were well grounded. With lightning speed, as it seemed,
the great boat came rushing toward them like a huge giant, and in a few
minutes the little boat would be engulfed in the swelling waves.

The children screamed; the steamer came nearer; it was close upon them;
the boat was upset! At the same instant Emma was seized by a strong
hand, lifted into the air, and then set down upon her feet on the deck
of the steamer. Fani was saved, too, by another seaman, and both stood
shivering with cold and fright, dripping with water, and soaked to the
skin, but safe and sound. The passengers crowded about them.

Suddenly a tall, black-bearded man with angry eyes came toward them. It
was the captain.

"What madness is this?" he thundered. "Do you think it is the business
of steamboats to look out for little fools of fishermen? Whose fault
would it have been if you had been run down and drowned?"

But as he looked at the two little dripping, miserable figures, his tone
softened.

"Bring them below and give them something hot to drink," he said to one
of the gaping by-standers. It was a mercy to get them away from all
those staring eyes; they swallowed the steaming contents of the glass
that was given them in the cabin without a word, though it burned their
throats. They did not dare to sit down; they were too wet.

After a while the captain came down and asked where they came from, and
where they were going in that "old fish-box."

Fani told the whole story without reserve. An expression of amusement
passed over the captain's brown face more than once during this
narration, and when he had heard all, he said kindly that they must get
themselves dried off as best they could; he was going to stop at
Cologne, and there they could take the train home again.

To reward him for saving them, Mrs. Stanhope could invite him to visit
her house at the next vintage.

This was their second visit to Cologne; how different it was from the
first one!

The captain's parting advice was that they should in future make their
expeditions by land rather than by water; it was much safer, he said.

It was pretty dark by this time, and they had some trouble in finding
the way to the station. They wandered from street to street inquiring
their way, and at last found themselves again at the steamboat wharf,
just where they had landed. They began to fear that they should lose the
train and have to stay in the city all night. They set out again upon
their search, and at last they came upon a policeman, who took pity upon
them and led them through alleys and by-streets to the station, where
they found that one train had just left, and they must wait two hours
for the next. The little wanderers sat down outside the building to
wait. They were wet and cold and hungry, but they did not complain of
these minor troubles; their anxieties lay far deeper.

"I am dreadfully worried," said Fani, with a deep sigh.

"So am I, but I don't know exactly why," replied Emma.

"Well, I do," said the boy. "I'm perfectly sure that Mrs. Stanhope will
send me home after this, and poor Elsli will have to go too, for she
could never stay without me."

"Oh, that is dreadful!" cried Emma. She was conscience-stricken. It was
a bad scrape, and it was mainly her fault. "Mrs. Stanhope is so kind,"
she went on hopefully, "perhaps she will not be so very angry."

Fani shook his head.

"You don't know about it, Emma. Of course Mrs. Stanhope is the greatest
benefactress in the world. But she is very particular about our minding
exactly what she tells us; and one of her principal rules is that we
must never disturb the regularity of the household, and must keep
punctually to just such hours; and now see what we have done! We shall
not get home till twelve o'clock to-night, midnight! Probably they are
hunting for us everywhere. How will it all turn out? Oh, dear! if she
sends us off, there's an end of drawing and painting for me! That's all
over"; and Fani looked despairing.

Emma felt that he knew Mrs. Stanhope far better than she did, and her
courage began to fail. They sat in silence till the train came along. At
the end of their journey they had a long walk from the station to
Rosemount, and they stumbled along in the dark, frightened and
trembling, and scarcely exchanging a word. Their hearts beat more and
more as they neared the house. As they entered the court-yard, the
watch-dog began to bark, but he stopped when he heard Fani's voice.

The great house-door was opened, and Aunt Clarissa came out to meet
them from the lighted hall.

"Is it you?" she cried. "Thank God!" and she drew them into the house.

Mrs. Stanhope had not gone to bed. She was standing just inside the
door.

"Now you may tell me all about it," she said, looking seriously at the
children, who presented a shocking appearance. "So, you've been in the
water! Where are the men?"

The children stammered out that they had seen no men. They had just come
up from the station.

Mrs. Stanhope shook her head.

"Some one must be sent to the fisherman's hut to tell the men to stop
the search," she said coldly. "I will leave the care of the children to
more skilful hands"; and she withdrew without more words.

Aunt Clarissa put them to bed directly, and a big pitcher of hot tea
was brought to each of them, from which they had to drink one steaming
cup after another, till they were warmed through. Then Clarissa sat down
first by Emma's bed, and then by Fani's, to learn exactly what had
happened, and whether they had met with any injuries that would need a
doctor's attention.

In the midst of assurances that they were not injured, and of attempts
to explain what had happened, the two tired miscreants fell asleep, and
Aunt Clarissa went to her room with thankful heart that things were no
worse.

The next morning Fani was determined, in spite of his weariness of limb,
to be punctual at the breakfast table. He sprang out of bed the moment
that he waked, and dressed an hour too early. He went into the garden to
listen to the birds; he thought their happy singing might make him
happier. As he was walking up and down, he saw the fisherman coming into
the court-yard. He went to meet him. The man stopped and lifted his cap
politely. "I know what you have come for," said Fani, taking out his
purse; "how much do I owe you?"

The man turned his cap about in his hands, as if he were turning his
thoughts over too.

"I don't want to be unreasonable," he said presently, "and I don't
suppose a young gentleman like you knows how much a boat with all its
belongings is worth. I cannot say less than eighty marks; I shall lose
at that, but I will not ask more."

Fani stood thunder-struck. Of course, as the boat was lost, he must make
it good. But eighty marks! He had never even seen so much money as
that. He was speechless. The fisherman looked thoughtfully at him.
Presently he said modestly:--

"I can understand that you cannot pay me the money yourself; you will
have to ask your mother for it. I will come again to-morrow."

"No, no!" cried Fani. "I will bring it to you as soon as I get it. I
will certainly come," he added, as he saw the man's disappointed look.
"I shall keep my word; only I can't say exactly when."

It seemed as if the man had something more to say; but he swallowed it
down, and went away, muttering to himself, "No boat! and no money to buy
another!"

Fani ran back into the house. He looked at Emma's door to see whether
her boots were still outside, but they had disappeared; so he tapped on
the door and said softly:--

"Come out, Emma, I have something to say to you."

"What is the matter? Has Mrs. Stanhope been talking to you?" asked Emma,
in a low tone, as she opened the door.

"No," said Fani, "it's not that"; and he drew her into the garden, to an
arbor in a far-away corner, and there he told her about the eighty marks
that were owing for the lost boat. Emma was greatly excited.

"We can never in the world get together so much as eighty marks! What
can we do?" she cried in a tone of anguish.

"I don't know. We can't ask Mrs. Stanhope for a lot of money like that,
after all that we have done to displease her. Can't you think of any
way? If I only knew some one to borrow of! Oh, don't you know of
anybody, Emma?"

Emma had sunk upon a bench, and her eyes looked as if they would start
out of her head; she was trying so hard to see some way out of the
dilemma.

Fred came running down the walk. He wanted to know what they were about
the night before, but they had no time to answer, for just then the bell
rang for breakfast.

The meal was not a merry one. The children were all embarrassed, and
they knew why; they were all conscious that they had not behaved well to
their hostess.

Mrs. Stanhope looked at them inquiringly, but said not a word. Aunt
Clarissa nervously buttered large slices of bread as fast as she could;
the dish was piled high with them, for no one ate much.

As Mrs. Stanhope left the table, she turned to Fani and said:--

"Go into the library and wait for me. I want to speak to you."

Fani grew white; Emma, red. "It's coming now," they said to themselves.

As Mrs. Stanhope opened the door to leave the room, she was knocked
against by a house-maid who was entering in great haste.

"Excuse me, madam," she said. "I was in such a hurry. Something else has
happened. A servant has just come from the Crown Prince to say that the
young gentleman for whom Master Oscar ordered a room there has not been
at home all night; and this morning the shoemaker told them at the hotel
that he was with the young man himself last evening, and saw him running
like a crazy fellow down towards the river."

It was now Oscar's turn to grow pale.

Aunt Clarissa sent the maid away, saying that she would speak to the
hotel servant herself. She was afraid that Lina would let out the secret
of Fred's untidy room if she were allowed to go on.

Mrs. Stanhope looked very serious.

"I don't understand all this," she said, turning to Clarissa; "but if
the young stranger has anything to do with Oscar, I will be responsible
for his bill at the hotel." And she left the room.

Emma instantly rushed to the school-room, seized her portfolio, and
began to write as fast as her pen could go.

     DEAR AUNTY,--For pity's sake, help me now! Something dreadful has
     happened. I will never make any plans again as long as I live, even
     if they would be sure to come out right. I will always do just as
     mamma bids me, and never suggest anything more to Fani. I gave him
     the book just to encourage him; but he said before he looked at it
     that what he cared for most was to be an artist. And there was
     something that he could do that would make Mrs. Stanhope willing to
     have him one, only he couldn't find any way to do it. So I found a
     way. I didn't forget that I promised mamma that I wouldn't make any
     plans; but I thought this was different. Fani knew what he wanted
     to do; only he couldn't see the way clear to do it, and I was just
     going to help him. Don't you see? And there was a dreadful thing
     that happened when we tried that way; but I can't write about it
     now, it is a long story. I'll tell you by and by. But the trouble
     now is, we have lost a boat in the river; it is a poor fisherman's,
     and we must pay him for it. You will understand that we do not dare
     to tell Mrs. Stanhope anything about it. We can't ask her for so
     much money. Fani says he would rather go to work in the factory.
     But you will help us, I know, dear aunty; you will not let us
     suffer. We want eighty marks. It is terrible. But it is worth that,
     for there were two oars and a pole besides the boat. I don't ask
     you to give it to me, but only to lend it. I will keep thinking day
     and night how I can earn enough to pay you. I have some things, you
     know; my godfather's present. In my drawer in the little
     writing-table at home are six silver spoons, and a beautiful
     pincushion, and two old Easter eggs with pictures on them cut out
     of paper: dragons spitting fire, and flowers, and the sun, moon,
     and stars. You can sell them for something, I am sure; and after
     this I will sell directly everything that I get and give you the
     money. And perhaps I shall contrive to think of some way to earn
     something too; if I can I will. Oh, dearest aunty, you will help
     us, I know, for you help everybody.

     Write as soon as you can and tell us to come home. How glad we
     shall be to get there! There we can tell you all our troubles. I
     wish we could go to-morrow, and get back to you and mamma. Write
     directly, dear aunty. I send you my love a thousand thousand times.

     Your loving niece,

     EMMA.

     P.S. Aunty, dear, I have thought of another way. In Cologne I saw a
     girl who went about in the street with a basket and sold roses. Now
     I think that if Mrs. Stanhope would let me take two roses from each
     bed in her garden I should get a basket full, and I could earn a
     lot of money, I am sure. Don't you think so? With a thousand
     kisses, Your niece,

     EMMA.

     P.S. I have thought this very moment of the nicest plan of all. In
     the vineyards here they put horrid looking figures, like men with
     red beards and arms stretched out, to frighten away the birds. If
     you will send me some red stuff and some yellow, I can make figures
     a great deal more frightful, and they will sell for a great deal.
     Perhaps in this way I can pay you half the money, and I'm sure I
     shall find something else to do by and by.

     I am again and always,

     Your loving niece,

     EMMA.

Fani had been sitting for some time in the library, awaiting with a
beating heart the coming of Mrs. Stanhope. When the door opened, he
sprang to his feet; he had learned that that was the proper thing to do
when a lady entered the room. Mrs. Stanhope took a seat on the sofa, and
motioned him to take a cricket and sit down by her.

"Now tell me all about it, Fani," she began. "Tell me the exact truth
about what happened yesterday. What made you think of going out on the
water, and how did you manage it? Tell me the whole story just as it
was. Keep nothing back."

Fani obeyed. He went way back to the plans which Emma and he had made
before he left home so that he might become an artist. How pleased he
had been to take drawing-lessons, and how they made him love drawing
more and more. How glad Emma had been at his progress, and how she had
urged him to tell Mrs. Stanhope how he felt about his future career. Now
came the most important point, and Fani related it very clearly. He
wished to make a picture of the old ruin, because if he got a prize for
it he thought Mrs. Stanhope would look more favorably on his adoption of
art as a business; and Emma had thought out a way of getting a good
view of it from the river. Then followed the mishap, which occurred
because Emma did not know the strength of the current, nor understand
how different the river was from the lake on which she had been in the
habit of rowing. Fani told the whole story faithfully. Mrs. Stanhope
listened in silence to the end, and then said briefly,--

"Very well; you may go, Fani."

In the hall behind one of the pillars stood Emma, impatient to hear the
result of the interview.

"Well? well?" she asked eagerly.

"Well; it's just as it was before; I don't know any more than I did."

"Did she scold you very hard? Did she say anything about me? For I was
the one to blame."

"No, indeed; Mrs. Stanhope never scolds; but she is very angry with me,
I know, for she did not speak to me when I had told her all about it.
Generally she talks a good deal to me about all sorts of things; even
when I have done something to displease her. I am sure there is no help
for us."

Emma sighed. She knew too well how much she was to blame for this
unfortunate state of things.

Three days passed. The house was more quiet than it had been before
since the children came. A cloud was over them all. No one laughed or
talked freely or cared for amusement. All seemed waiting for some
unpleasant thing that was going to happen.

Early in the morning of the fourth day, a letter was brought to Mrs.
Stanhope, containing an enclosure for the children. The letter was from
their mother. She expressed her gratitude to Mrs. Stanhope for all her
kindness, and for the pleasure the children had enjoyed at Rosemount.
Then followed apologies and regrets for the trouble and annoyance that
the visit must have caused Mrs. Stanhope. And Mrs. Stein closed by
saying that they had too long trespassed on the indulgence of their kind
hostess, and begged her to set a time when it would be convenient to her
for them to take their leave.

The enclosure for the children contained three letters from their aunt.
Emma tore hers open first. A banknote met her delighted eyes. She ran
out of the room, and called Fani. "She has saved us!" she cried. "Oh,
isn't aunty an angel from heaven!" Fani's face shone with pleasure and
surprise. Emma thrust the money into his hand.

"Take it, and run to the fisherman's. I must read my letter"; and she
ran off to the arbor.

After an affectionate greeting it ran thus;--

"It is a crying shame, my dear girl, that this delightful visit, full of
pleasures that may never fall to your lot again, should have been
spoiled by each of you three children, only because of your
disobedience. Especially you and Oscar. Your father and mother gave you
both particular warning against what you were not to do. You both set to
work to see how you could manage to obey in all the trivial details, and
yet carry out your own plans in essentials. You both knew very well what
you were about, and have well deserved the unpleasant consequences of
your actions. I trust that you have both received a lasting lesson. How
much worse the results might have been, dear Emma, we do not dare to
think. We can only guess, though you do not tell us that you had a very
narrow escape. We trust that you will show your gratitude to God for it
by never again straying into forbidden paths. I send you the money you
asked for, in order to spare Mrs. Stanhope any trouble about it. Fani
showed a proper sense of his own folly and of his obligations to her
when he said he would make any sacrifice rather than ask her for it. I
do not lend you the money. It is a gift. But do not run in debt again.
Another time I might not be able to help you. We shall all be glad to
see you at home again."

In her letter to Oscar, aunty wrote that he deserved a much worse
punishment than he had received, for his wilful misinterpretation of his
father's warning, obeying the letter, rather than the spirit, and for
his obstinacy about the motto. The letter then continued:--

"No notice from the police nor from the court of justice has been sent
to your father; but a complaint has been lodged against you from
another quarter. Only three days after he went from home, Feklitus came
back again, without bag or baggage, as if he had fled for his life. He
told a terrible tale of some scrape into which you had led him, and from
which he had got away safe only by his own most skilful management. On
the evening of that unlucky Festival he had scampered away from his
captors with all his might, flung himself into a railway carriage, and,
travelling all night, had not stopped till he reached home. Now you see,
dear Oscar, that you have something to answer for in this affair; for
even if Feklitus was unnecessarily frightened, it does not alter the
fact that you got him involved in a most unpleasant way, and his parents
are naturally very angry with you. You must at any rate take measures to
set Mrs. Bickel's mind at rest She told me yesterday that she had lost
her sleep and her appetite, from thinking about the beautiful leather
trunk, and the six new suits of clothes, which she has no doubt the
waiters at the Crown Prince are sharing among themselves. You must go to
the hotel, pack all the clothes carefully, lock the trunk, and send it
to him. Send the keys in a separate package, and then you will have
removed one cause of their not unreasonable displeasure."

With Fred, aunty pathetically condoled on the loss of his collection;
and then she added:--

"Yet you see, my dear Fred, you are to blame after all; for I told you
not to put your creatures where they would displease Mrs. Stanhope, if
she should see them. I could not specify every such place, but I trusted
to your commonsense to tell you that beetles and caterpillars do not
belong in a writing-desk! You are such an insatiable collector! You will
have to learn moderation. If you had only been satisfied with a
reasonable number of the finest specimens, you would not have needed so
many boxes; I am very glad that Fani hindered you from asking for them
in a house where so many kindnesses were being shown to all of you. It
ill becomes guests to make unreasonable demands. After all, dear Fred, I
hope you will be able to bring home a few treasures, notwithstanding
your great loss, and we will enjoy them together."

These letters were a great relief to all; but some uneasiness still
remained. They did not know yet how Mrs. Stanhope would treat their
several delinquencies, when she knew all about them, and, besides, they
were homesick.

"What about going home?" they asked each other; and none of the letters
had mentioned the subject. They were disappointed.

As to Fani, he began to wonder what Mrs. Stanhope's plans were for him.
When would she talk with him again? Would he have to go back to the
factory? She had never since that day talked with him as she used to do;
but often he was aware that she was looking at him, long and
thoughtfully.

In Elsli's heart, too, anxiety reigned supreme; not so much for herself
as for Fani. Mrs. Stanhope was already displeased with him; and when she
found out that she had been doing wrong too, Elsli could not but fear
that her displeasure would be so severe that they should both be sent
away.




CHAPTER VIII.

THE HAPPY END.


Elsli's bedroom opened into that of Aunt Clarissa. During this time of
worry and excitement, when every day so much happened that was new and
unexpected, Clarissa found it difficult to fulfil all her household
duties with her usual promptness and regularity, so it was often very
late before she could get to her room for the night, and she always
thought Elsli was fast asleep. One evening she was even later than
usual, and she had hardly seated herself to read her evening prayer when
she was surprised to hear Elsli calling her.

"I don't feel very well, Aunt Clarissa," said the child in a feeble
voice; and before she had finished speaking her kind friend was at her
bedside. Clarissa was startled to see her heavy eyes and feverish
cheeks.

"What ails you, my dear girl?" she asked, tenderly, stroking the hot
head with her cool hand, and trying to conceal the anxiety that she
felt.

"Not much, I think," answered Elsli, with a faint smile; "I haven't been
feeling very well for a week or two; I have had a good many dizzy turns
and I've been hot and restless. I've heard you come up to bed every
night though it was so late."

"Why didn't you speak to me, dear? I might have done something to make
you sleep."

"I didn't want to trouble you and it was really nothing. I had no pain,
only heat and restlessness. But to-night I thought I must call you,
because I feel very ill, and besides I have something that I must tell
you, you know, and you told me you would hear it when you could find a
quiet time. Can you spare the time to-night, though it is so late? I
think I could go to sleep better after I have told it. It has worried me
so long." Elsli spoke feebly but eagerly; and Aunt Clarissa, full of
anxious fear, could not but assent to her request, though she was almost
afraid to have her go on; for she saw that the little girl was really
very ill.

She sat down by the bedside holding Elsli's trembling hand in her own
and gently pressing it from time to time. Elsli began:--

"I want to tell you something that I ought to have spoken of long ago.
It was not right for me to go on as I have been doing without telling
you; and I am afraid Mrs. Stanhope will be very much displeased when she
knows about it"

Clarissa could scarcely control her astonishment. Was it possible that
this gentle, conscientious creature had been capable of doing something
wrong and concealing it?

But she only said quietly: "Tell me everything that is on your mind, it
will relieve you; but do not hurry, there is time enough."

Elsli told her of her accidental acquaintance with the fisherman's
family, of their extreme poverty, of the illness of the mother, and of
her own efforts to help them.

"Do you think I have done very wrong?" she asked, timidly, looking up at
Clarissa with wistful eyes.

Clarissa was very much moved.

"My darling," she said, "do not worry about it. You did not mean to do
anything wrong, and all that you did was in kindness. You wanted to tell
me about it long ago, I remember; and it was no fault of yours that I
did not hear it. I will explain it all to Mrs. Stanhope, and she will
understand it and will not be displeased."

"And do you think she will let me go again and help them?"

"You are too ill to think about going now; but I promise to see to them
myself, so do not fret about it, dear. I had no idea that the family
were so poor; the man never has complained when he has been here with
the fish. I will go and inquire what the sick woman needs. Will that
satisfy you, dear?"

"Yes," said Elsli, but somewhat doubtfully. "You see, there is so much
to be done that no one would know about, and she would never tell about
it. I couldn't do much darning and mending, and the clothes are so worn
out that the children can scarcely keep them on; and their mother is
too ill to cook, and when the father comes home he is too tired, and he
has hard work even to keep a house over their heads. If I don't help
them, they will never get through; they will suffer in silence. They are
just like us at home."

Elsli's sobs prevented her from saying any more. The remembrance of her
early sufferings and the thought of her parents' trials came over her
like a flood, and she sobbed as if her heart would break. Clarissa
lifted her head and raised the pillows behind it, so that she could look
out into the clear, star-lit night.

Elsli gradually grew more tranquil, and by and by she looked up into
Clarissa's face and smiled.

"Do you think I shall go to Nora?" she asked. "The old grandfather said
that only good people go to heaven."

"My child" said Clarissa, "our Lord and Saviour shows us the way. He
has opened the door for those who have erred, and shown us that our
Heavenly Father is always ready to forgive and receive those who repent
and turn to him. Don't you remember the parable of the Prodigal Son and
the words of Jesus to the men who were crucified with him? They were not
good, you know."

"Yes, I know," said the child in a tone of relief; and she repeated
softly to herself the hymn which she had said to the old man. The last
couplet was scarcely audible.

    "Oh, ope the gates of heaven now,
      And bid me enter in!"

The next morning Clarissa went to the other children with the sad news
that Elsli was very, very ill. They could not at first believe it. She
had never complained, and had been only yesterday in the garden with
them, joining in their play; quiet to be sure, but always sympathetic
and trying to please them all. It was a sad day for them. They could not
occupy themselves as usual, but sat about in the house and garden,
weeping in silence, or talking in subdued tones about the sick girl whom
they all loved so dearly.

Fani was, of course, the most unhappy of all. Elsli's goodness to him in
their days of poverty and hardship came clearly to his mind. How she had
silently taken many a punishment and rebuke that were really deserved by
him. He felt keenly that if Elsli did not recover he should never meet
with any one to take her place. He saw now, as he had never seen before,
what his sister had been to him.

To Mrs. Stanhope too the blow was a severe one. She blamed herself for
not having noticed that the child had been growing thin and pale during
the last few weeks, and she recalled, now that it was too late, several
times when she had thought that Elsli looked over-heated and tired, but
she had done nothing about it, thinking it only a passing matter. She
sent at once for the physician. He gave little hope of the child's
recovery. He said she had evidently been "running down" for some time,
and she must have been eating too little and doing too much, and,
besides, he suspected some mental depression and anxiety. All this,
acting on a frame naturally delicate and weakened by the hardships of
her early years, had more than counteracted the gain that Elsli had
certainly made during the first months of her life at Rosemount.

Clarissa then told Mrs. Stanhope the story which the little girl had
related to her, and their tears fell fast over the simple tale of pity
and self-sacrifice. Mrs. Stanhope's heart smote her, as she learned how
Elsli had suffered from fear of her displeasure, and from the
concealment into which this had led her, a concealment so foreign to her
nature. She went to the child's bedside, and, embracing her more fondly
than she had ever done before, she said tenderly:--

"I can't tell you, darling child, how sorry I am that you should have
been afraid of me. I never meant it should be so, but I am naturally
reserved, and when my Nora died, I felt as if all my power of loving had
died with her. I liked you, and I meant to take good care of you, but I
see now that I have seemed cold to you, and haven't shown you the love
that has really been growing up for you in my heart. Forgive me, dear,
and believe that I do love you, and that I will be a real loving mother
to Fani, as I would be to you--" She stopped, overcome by her own
emotion.

Elsli's face beamed with a radiant smile. She lifted her feeble arm and
laid it around Mrs. Stanhope's neck.

"I am going to Nora," she whispered; "I will tell her how good you have
been to us. I love you," she added, and it went to Mrs. Stanhope's heart
that it was the first time the child had ever said these words to her.
She could not speak, but she drew Elsli's head to rest upon her
shoulder, and in a few moments the sick girl fell asleep with a peaceful
look upon her face, and Mrs. Stanhope sat holding her unwearied, till
Clarissa came and gently laid the little head back upon the pillows.

For several days Elsli continued in a critical state; but they were
happy days. Mrs. Stanhope never left her, and it seemed as if she could
not do enough to show her tenderness. Clarissa was devoted to her
comfort, and brought her every day news from her friends in the
fisherman's hut, whom Mrs. Stanhope had already begun to help in the
wisest and kindest ways. The poor family sent many messages of love and
gratitude to their little helper, and these Clarissa delivered; but she
did not tell Elsli how unhappy they were at the thought of losing her,
nor how the father said:--

"I knew she was an angel from heaven; and we could not expect her to
stay long with us. Now she is going back again where she belongs."

The children at Rosemount were allowed to come for a few minutes at a
time into Elsli's room. They were charged to bring only cheerful faces,
and not to trouble her with their grief. They brought her flowers from
the garden, and sometimes they read to her from the books she loved.
Fani especially was very tender and devoted, and Elsli took great
satisfaction in having him with her.

Every interview was precious, since the time for them was probably so
short.

But Elsli did not die. The complete repose of the sick-room, and the
devoted care she received, but perhaps more than all that the new
happiness that had come into her heart in Mrs. Stanhope's awakened
affection and her own response to it, and the fresh hopes which sprang
from seeing how large a place she held in the lives of those about her,
and the happy prospect of being useful and valuable without need of
concealment or anxiety,--all these things helped in her recovery; and
when, in a few weeks, she again came down stairs and out into the sunny
garden, it was with new eyes that she looked upon life and its duties
and opportunities, and she thanked God that he had permitted her to stay
upon his beautiful earth, and help his children here. For she saw that
the earth is the Lord's as well as the heavens, and while she still
looked forward to the happy life of Paradise with hope and confidence,
she no longer undervalued the joys and privileges which surrounded her
here.

As soon as Elsli was fairly convalescent, the doctor's children went
home. Their parents could spare them no longer. Mrs. Stanhope bade them
good-bye with the assurance that she should depend on having another
visit from them next year, so that it was plain that she felt no serious
displeasure with them. They were grateful for her forgiveness, and
fervently resolved that next year she should have nothing to forgive.

The three travellers went rapidly on towards their own dear home. At
the last station their father's carriage was waiting for them. A shout
of joy hailed them. It was Rikli. She had been allowed to come to meet
them. It seemed that night as if they would never be tired enough to go
to bed, they were so excited with joy at seeing father and mother and
aunty, and at feeling themselves at home again. Questions and answers
were all poured out together, interrupted by frequent exclamations of
affection and of joy at being all together once more. There seemed no
chance of quiet or rest that night.

But at last the evening came to an end. The active trio were in bed and
asleep, and the happy mother went softly from one bedside to another,
and breathed a silent thanksgiving over each sleeping child, that they
had all been preserved from harm and brought safely back to her arms.

Mrs. Stanhope's summer had been full of excitement of various kinds,
such as she had never in her whole life experienced before. It had been
rather a trying thing to her to have her very methodical and regular
life so disturbed, and she had not always known how to take with
equanimity the alarms and inconveniences that her generous invitation to
the doctor's children had brought upon her. But she had been interested
in the children, and it had been a good thing for her to become
accustomed to the interruption of the too rigorous routine in which she
had been living. Elsli's illness had been a deep and painful experience,
but it had produced a blessed change in the whole tone of her life and
spirit. Her new-born love for the little girl had broken up the sealed
fountains of her heart, and she felt again the bliss of a mother's love
ardently returned by a child. A warmer glow was infused too into her
feeling for Fani, to whom she had been attracted at first by his
resemblance to her Philo. Time had softened her sorrow for the loss of
her boy, so that this resemblance endeared Fani to her, while in Elsli's
case, a similar likeness to Nora had only made it the more difficult to
receive one who was brought to her to take Nora's place, while she was
still stunned with the grief of the recent parting.

Her first thought now was for Elsli. The doctor said that the child must
spend the next winter in a warmer climate, and recommended a removal to
the south of France or to Italy before the coming of cold weather.

"And meantime," he said, "you must put a stop to all this long sitting
on the stone seat under those heavy lindens down by the water, and to
pacing up and down that damp little path that leads to the willows, and
to spending hours in that wretched hut by the bog, that isn't fit for
any one to live in. The river is very beautiful, but it's better to be
looked at from a distance above. Dry air and sunshine are what our
little girl needs. She couldn't do anything worse for mind or body than
to sit and meditate in that cold, damp, lonely place."

Mrs. Stanhope's eyes were opened, and she resolved to act on the
doctor's suggestion, not only with regard to Elsli, but also to the
fisherman's family. She took measures directly for building a small
house on her own land, in a dry situation, but not far from the river,
so that he could continue his avocation as a fisherman, while she also
gave him steady and profitable employment as a laborer on her estate.
Elsli was very happy watching the progress of the new house and fitting
it up for its inmates, and she had the pleasure of seeing them
comfortably established there before she went south for the winter.

Meantime Mrs. Stanhope, after much deliberation, and with considerable
reluctance, for she was not accustomed to change a resolution once made,
had come to a decision with regard to Fani's future, quite at variance
with her former plans, which had been to bring him up with a knowledge
of business, with a view to his becoming steward of her estates.

One evening she was sitting with the two children in the parlor after
supper; for they no longer went out on the terrace at this hour, since
the days were growing shorter and Elsli must not be out after sundown.
The children were chatting gayly, on various subjects, when Mrs.
Stanhope, who had been reading, laid down her book, and said:--

"Come and sit by me, Fani; let us have a little talk together. That
unfortunate expedition of yours on the river, and what you said when you
told me about it, seemed to show that your heart was fully set on
becoming an artist. Is it so still? or was it only a passing fancy? Are
you sure that you have thought long enough about it to be certain of
yourself?"

Fani grew crimson. He hesitated an instant, and then said:--

"Yes; I have thought about it and wished for it a long, long time; and
the more I draw, the more I care for it. But I am willing to think no
more about it; and I will do whatever you wish, to the very best of my
ability."

"I have been talking to your teacher," continued Mrs. Stanhope, "and he
says, if your industry and perseverance are as great as your talent, you
will be a successful artist. And as you care so much about it, I am
sure you will be persevering. So I have decided to take you with us to
Florence this winter, where you will have good instruction in drawing,
and also the benefit of the galleries. You will go on with your studies
too, for I want you to be a well educated man as well as an artist, and
you are too young yet to give up school-work. If you do well, and at the
end of a year or two still persevere in your desire to become a painter,
you shall go to an art-school, at Duesseldorf or somewhere else, and take
a course of several years. There you will find out just how much you can
do, and after that we will decide what is best for our young artist."

Fani sprang to his feet and stood speechless before his kind
benefactress. When he tried to speak, tears came instead of the words he
meant to utter.

Mrs. Stanhope saw his emotion with far more satisfaction than if he had
overwhelmed her with thanks.

"Now," she said to herself, "he is certainly in earnest."

"Meanwhile," she continued aloud, "we shall often be with you, Elsli and
I, sometimes at home, or wherever it is best for us to spend the
winters. In summer we shall be all together here. You are my own
children now; and I shall do for you just as I should have done for my
Philo and Nora if they had stayed with me."

Tears stood in Mrs. Stanhope's eyes, but she smiled too, as she held out
her arms to the children, and drew them, radiant with joy and gratitude,
into a mother's embrace.

There were great rejoicings among their friends in Buchberg over the
news that Mrs. Stanhope had adopted the two children, and that Fani was
to become an art-student. Oscar and Fred, and still more the triumphant
Emma, could already see with prophetic eyes the announcement of the
great exhibition to be held in the neighboring city, of the wonderful
landscapes of that "celebrated painter, Fani von Buchberg!"

Heiri's family grew better off every year with the help that came from
the absent children and their new mother, and Elsli was happy in the
thought that her father's hardest days were over, and that her own
good-fortune had brought good to him also.

Oscar and the Fink boys kept up an uninterrupted correspondence. They
were determined that when they were grown up to manhood they would found
a Swiss brotherhood which should astonish the world.

Feklitus got back his shirts and his new clothes and his trunks safe
from the clutches of the waiters at the Crown Prince. But he never
spoke of his journey to the Rhine, no matter how much his companions
might ply him with questions. If, in school, his geography lesson was
upon the Rhine country, he turned a deaf ear, for he absolutely declined
to learn anything about a place where innocent persons are treated with
such indignity as they meet with there.

Mrs. Stein and her sister still had their hands and their hearts full
with the care of the boys and girls who were at once their anxiety and
their delight; but they still had time and thought to give to the
interests of others, and they never failed to rejoice over the
improvement and the happiness of Gritli's children.


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