Chapter VIII. Maezli Pays Visits
 

Whenever Maezli found the time heavy on her hands, she would suddenly remember people who might want to see her. She had been extremely occupied all these days entertaining Leonore, as during school hours she had been the older girl's sole companion. Her brothers and sisters were now home for a holiday and constantly surrounded Leonore. Finding herself without her usual employment, Maezli ran after her mother on the morning of the holiday and kept on saying, "I must go to see Apollonie. I am sure Loneli is sad that I have not been to see her so long," until her mother finally gave her permission to go that afternoon.

On her way to Apollonie Maezli had been struck by an idea which occupied her very much. She arrived at the cottage of her old friend and sat down beside Loneli, who was not in the least sad, but looked about her with the merriest eyes. "I must go see the Castle-Steward to-day," she said quickly. "I promised it but I forgot about it."

"No, no, Maezli," Apollonie said evasively, "we have lots of other things to do. We have to see if the plums are getting ripe on the tree in the corner of the garden, and after that you must see the chickens. Just think, Maezli, they have little chicks, and you will have to see them. I am sure you won't ever want to leave them."

"Oh, yes, when I have seen them I must go to the Castle-Steward because I promised to," Maezli replied.

"I am sure he has forgotten all about it and does not remember you any more," Apollonie said, trying to ward Maezli off from her design. "Does your mama know that you mean to go to the castle?"

"No, because I only thought of it on my way here," Maezli assured her old friend. "But one must always keep a promise; Kurt told me that."

"Mr. Trius won't even let you in," Apollonie protested.

"Certainly! He has to. I know the Castle-Steward well, and he is not in the least afraid of Mr. Trius; I have noticed that," said Maezli, firmly holding to her resolution.

Apollonie realized that words would do no good and resolved to entertain Maezli so well with the little chickens and other things that it would finally be too late for her to go to the castle. Maezli inspected the tiny chickens and the ripening plums with great enjoyment, but as this had barely taken any time at all, she soon said resolutely, "I have to go now because it is late. If you would like to stay home, Loneli can come with me. I am sure we can easily find the way."

"What are you dreaming of, Maezli?" Apollonie cried out. "How do you think Mr. Trius would receive you if you ask him to let you in, I should like to know? You'll find out something you won't like, I am afraid. No, no, this can't be. If you insist on going, I had better go along."

Apollonie went indoors to get ready for the walk, as she always put on better clothes whenever she mounted to the castle, despite the fact that she might not see anyone. Loneli was extremely eager to have a chance to find out who was the Castle-Steward whom Maezli had promised to visit. She had tried to persuade her grandmother to let her go with Maezli, in which case her mother would not need to change her clothes, But the latter would not even hear of it, remarking, "You can sit on the bench under the pear tree with your knitting in the meantime, and you can sing a song. We are sure to be back again in a little while."

Soon they started off, Apollonie firmly holding Maezli's hand. Mr. Trius appeared at the door before they even had time to ring; it seemed as if the man really had his eyes on everything. Throwing a furious glance at Maezli, he opened the door before Apollonie had said a word. But he had taken great care to leave a crack which would only allow a little person like Maezli to slip through without sticking fast in the opening. Maezli wriggled through and started to run away. The next moment the door was closed again. "Do you think I intend to squeeze myself through, too? You do not need to bolt it, Mr. Trius," Apollonie said, much offended. "It is not necessary to cut off the child from me like that, so that I don't even know where she is going. I am taking care of her, remember. Won't you please let me in, for I want to watch her, that is all."

"Forbidden," said Mr. Trius.

"Why did you let the child in?"

"I was ordered to."

"What? You were ordered to? By the master?" cried out Apollonie. "Oh, Mr. Trius, how could he let the child go in and walk about the garden while his old servant is kept out? She ought to be in there looking after things. I am sure you have never told him how I have come to you, come again and again and have begged you to admit me. I want to put things into their old order and you don't want me to. You don't even know, apparently, which bed he has and if his pillows are properly covered. You said so yourself. I am sure that the good old Baroness would have no peace in her grave if she knew all this. And this is all your fault. I can clearly see that. I can tell you one thing, though! If you refuse to give my messages to the master as I have begged and begged you to so often, I'll find another way. I'll write a letter."

"Won't help."

"What won't help? How can you know that? You won't know what's in the letter. I suppose the Baron still reads his own letters," Apollonie eagerly went on.

"He receives no letters from these parts."

This was a terrible blow for Apollonie, to whom this new thought had given great confidence. She therefore decided to say nothing more and quietly watched Mr. Trius as he walked up and down inside the garden.

Maezli in the meantime had eagerly pursued her way and was soon up on the terrace. Glancing about from there, she saw the gentleman again, stretched out in the shadow of the pine tree, as she had seen him first, and the glinting cover was lying again on his knees. Maezli ran over to him.

"How do you do, Mr. Castle-Steward? Are you angry with me because I have not come for so long?" she called out to him from a distance, and a moment later she was by his side. "It was only on account of Leonore," Maezli continued. "I should otherwise have come ages ago. But when the others are all in school she can't be left alone. So I stay with her and I like to do it because she is so nice. Everybody likes Leonore, everybody likes her terribly; Kurt and Bruno, too. They stay home all the time now because Leonore is with us. You ought to know how nice she is. You would like her dreadfully right away."

"Do you think so?" said the gentleman, while something like a smile played about his lips. "Is it your sister?"

"My sister? No, indeed," Maezli said, quite astonished at his error. "She is Salo's sister, the boy who was with us and who had to go back to Hanover. She has to go back to Hanover, too, as soon as she is well, and mama always gets very sad when she talks about it. But Mea gets sadder still and even cries. Leonore hates to leave us, but she has to. She cried dreadfully once because she can never, never have a home. As long as she lives she'll have to be homeless. The beggar-woman who came with the two ragged children said that. They were homeless, and Leonore said afterwards, 'I am that way, too,' and then she cried terribly, and we were sent out into the garden. She might have cried still more if she had thought about our having a home with a mama while she has none. She has no papa or anybody. But you must not think that she is a homeless child with a torn dress; she looks quite different. Maybe she can find a home in Apollonie's little house under the hill. Then Salo can come home to her in the holidays. But mama does not think that this can be. But Leonore wants it ever so much. I must bring her to you one day."

"Who are you, child? What is your name," asked the gentleman abruptly.

Maezli looked at him in astonishment.

"I am Maezli," she said, "and mama has the same name as I have. But they don't call her that. Some people call her Mrs. Rector, some mama, and Uncle Philip says Maxa to her and Leonore calls her Aunt Maxa."

"Is your father the rector of Nolla?" the gentleman asked.

"He has been in heaven a long while, and he was in heaven before we came here, but mama wanted to come back to Nolla because this was her home. We don't live in the rectory now, but where there is a garden with lots of paths, and where the big currant-bushes are in the corners, here and here and here." Maezli traced the position of the bushes exactly on the lionskin. The castle-steward, leaning back in his chair, said nothing more. "Do you find it very tiresome here?" Maezli asked sympathetically.

"Yes, I do," was the answer.

"Have you no picture-book"

"No."

"Oh, I'll bring you one, as soon as I come again. And then--but perhaps you have a headache?" Maezli interrupted herself. "When my mama wrinkles up her forehead the way you do she always has a headache, and one must get her some cold water to make it better. I'll quickly get some," and the next instant Maezli was gone.

"Come back, child!" the gentleman called after her. "There is nobody in the castle, and you won't find any."

It seemed strange to Maezli that there should be nobody to bring water to the Castle-Steward.

"I'll find somebody for him," she said, eagerly running down the incline to the door, in whose vicinity Mr. Trius was wandering up and down.

"You are to go up to the Castle-Steward at once," she said standing still in front of him, "and you are to bring him some cold water, because he has a headache. But very quickly."

Mr. Trius glanced at Maezli in an infuriated way as if to say: "How do you dare to come to me like this?" Then throwing the door wide open he growled like a cross bear: "Out of here first, so I can close it." After Maezli had slipped out he banged the big door with all his might so that the hinges rattled. Turning the monstrous key twice in the lock, he also bolted it with a vengeance. By this he meant to show that no one could easily go in again at his pleasure.

Apollonie, who had been sitting down in the shade not far from the door now went up to Maezli and said, "You stayed there a long time. What did the gentleman say?"

"Very little, but I told him a lot," Maezli said. "He has a headache, Apollonie, and just think! nobody ever brings him any water, and Mr. Trius even turns the key and bolts the door before he goes to him."

Apollonie broke out into such lamentations and complaints after these words that Maezli could not bear it.

"But he has the water long ago, Apollonie. I am sure Mr. Trius gave it to him. Please don't go on so," she said a trifle impatiently. But this was only oil poured on the flames.

"Yes, no one knows what he does and what he doesn't do," Apollonie lamented, louder than ever. "The poor master is sick, and all his servant does is to stumble about the place, not asking after his needs and letting everything go to rack and ruin. Not a cabbage-head or a pea-plant is to be seen. Not one strawberry or raspberry, no golden apricots on the wall or a single little dainty peach. The disorder everywhere is frightful. When I think how wonderfully it used to be managed by the Baroness!" Apollonie kept on wiping her eyes because present conditions worried her dreadfully. "You can't understand it, Maezli," she continued, when she had calmed down a trifle. "You see, child, I should be glad to give a finger of my right hand if I could go up there one day a week in order to arrange things for the master as they should be and fix the garden and the vegetables. The stuff the old soldier is giving him to eat is perfectly horrid, I know."

Maezli hated to hear complaints, so she always looked for a remedy.

"You don't need to be so unhappy," she said. "Just cook some nice milk-pudding for him and I'll take it up to him. Then he'll have something good to eat, something much better than vegetables; oh, yes, a thousand times better."

"You little innocent! Oh, when I think of forty years ago!" Apollonie cried out, but she complained no further. Maezli's answers had clearly given her the conviction that the child could not possibly understand the difficult situation she was in.

Maezli chattered gaily by Apollonie's side, and as soon as she reached home, wanted to tell her mother what had happened. But the child was to have no opportunity for that day. The mother had been very careful in keeping the contents of Miss Remke's letter from the children in order not to spoil their last two weeks together. Unfortunately Bruno had that day received a letter from Salo, in which he wrote that in ten days one of the ladies was coming to fetch Leonore home, as she was completely well. Salo remarked quite frankly that he himself hardly looked forward to Leonore's coming, as he saw in each of her letters how happy she was in Aunt Maxa's household and how difficult the separation would be for her. Whenever he thought how hard it would be for her to grow accustomed to the change again, all his joy vanished at the prospect of her return. Bruno had read the whole letter aloud and had therewith conjured up such consternation and grief on every side that the mother hardly knew how to comfort them. Leonore herself was sitting in the midst of the excited group. She gave no sound and had unsuccessfully tried to swallow her rising tears, but they had got the better of her and were falling over her cheeks in a steady stream.

Mea was crying excitedly, "Oh, mother, you must help us. You have to write to the ladies that they mustn't come. Please don't let Leonore go!"

Bruno remarked passionately that no one had the right to drag a sick person on a journey against the doctor's wishes. The doctor had said the last time he had been here that Leonore was to have not less than a month for her complete recovery.

Kurt cried out over and over again, "Oh, mother, it's cruel, it's perfectly cruel! We all want to keep her here and she wants to stay. Now she is to be violently taken from us. Isn't that absolutely cruel?"

Lippo, coming close to Leonore, also did his best to console her. He remembered that he could not say "stay with us" any more, but he had another plan.

"Don't cry, Leonore," he said encouragingly. "As soon as I am big, Uncle Philip has promised to give me a house and a lot of meadows. I'll be a farmer then, and I'll write to you to come to live with me, and Salo can come for the holidays, too."

Leonore could not help smiling, but it only brought more tears when she thought how much love she was receiving from all these children, and that she had to leave them and might never see them again. The mother's attempts to comfort them failed entirely, because she had no hope herself.

In the middle of this agitating scene Maezli arrived, perfectly happy and filled with her recent experiences. She wished to relate what the Castle-Steward had said to her and what she had said to him, and what had happened afterwards. But no one listened because they were so deeply absorbed with their own disturbing thoughts. They were not in the least interested in what Maezli had to say about the Steward, as they all thought that the steward was Mr. Trius. That evening the unheard-of happened. Maezli actually begged to go to bed before the evening song had been sung, because the depressing atmosphere in the house was so little to her taste that she even preferred to go to bed.

Mea had been hoping till now that her mother would find some means to keep Leonore. If it could not be the way Apollonie planned, she might at least stay for a long stretch of time. All of a sudden this hope was gone entirely, and the day of separation was terribly near. The girl looked so completely miserable when she started out for school next day that the mother had not the heart to let her go without a little comfort.

"You only need to go to school two more days, Mea," she said. "Next week you can stay home and spend all your time with Leonore."

Mea was very glad to hear it, but without uttering a word she ran away, for everything that concerned Leonore brought tears to her eyes.

Leonore had been looking so pale the last few days that Mrs. Maxa surveyed her anxiously. Perhaps the recovery had not been as complete as they had hoped, for the news of the close date of her departure had proved to be a great strain for her. Mrs. Maxa went about quite downcast and silent herself. Nothing for a long time had been so hard for her to bear as the thought of separation from the little girl she had begun to love like one of her own, who had also grown so lovingly attached to her. The pressure lay on them all very heavily. Bruno never said a word. Kurt, standing in a corner with a note-book, was busily scribbling down his melancholy thoughts, but he did not show his verses to anyone, as the tragic feeling in them might have drawn remarks from Bruno which he might not have been able to endure. Lippo faithfully followed Leonore wherever she went and from time to time repeated his consoling words, but he said them in such a wailing voice that they sounded extremely doleful. Maezli alone still gazed about her with merry eyes and was dancing with joy when she saw that it was a bright sunny day.

"You can take a little walk with Leonore, Maezli," the mother said immediately after lunch, as soon as the other children had started off to school. "Leonore will grow too pale if she does not get into the open air. Take her on a pretty walk, Maezli. You might go to Apollonie."

Maezli most willingly got her little hat, and the children set out. When they had passed half-way across the garden Maezli suddenly stood still.

"Oh, I forgot something," she said. "I have to go back again. Please wait for me, I won't be long."

Maezli disappeared but came back very shortly with a large picture-book under each arm. They were the biggest she had found and she had chosen them because she thought: The bigger the books, the bigger his delight at looking at them.

"Now I'll tell you what I thought," she said on reaching Leonore. "You see, up in the castle under a big tree sits the sick Castle-Steward. I promised to go to see him soon again and to bring him a picture book. But I am bringing him two because he'll like two better. I also promised to bring you and something else besides. You don't know why he needs that other thing, but you will hear when we are up there. Let us go now."

"But, Maezli, I don't know the gentleman and he doesn't know me," Leonore began to object. "I can't go, because he might not like it. Besides your mother knows nothing about it."

But Maezli had not the slightest intention of giving up her expedition.

"I have everything I want to bring him now, and the Castle-Steward has probably been waiting for us all day, so, you see, we simply must go. Mama also says that one has to go to see sick people and bring them things, because it cheers them up. He has to sit all day alone under the tree and he gets dreadfully tired. When he has a headache not a person comes to bring him anything. It is not nice of you not to want to go when he is expecting us."

Maezli had talked so eagerly that she not only became absolutely convinced herself that it would be the greatest wrong if she did not go to see the Castle-Steward, but produced a similar feeling in Leonore.

"I shall gladly go with you, if you think the sick gentleman does not object," she said; "I only didn't know whether he would want us."

Maezli was satisfied now, and, gaily talking, led Leonore toward the lofty iron door. The path led up between fragrant meadows and heavily laden apple trees, and when they reached their destination, they found it quite superfluous to ring the bell. Mr. Trius had long ago observed them and stood immovably behind the door. Hoping that he would open it, the children waited expectantly, but he did not budge.

"We want to pay a visit to the Castle-Steward," said Maezli. "You'd better open soon."

"Not for two," was the answer.

"Certainly. We both have to go in, because he is expecting us," Maezli informed him. "I promised to bring Leonore, so you'd better open."

But Mr. Trius did not stir.

"Come, Maezli, we'd better go back," said Leonore in a low voice. "Can't you see that he won't open it? Maybe he is not allowed."

But it was no easy matter to turn Maezli from her project.

"If he won't open it I'll scream so loud that the Castle-Steward will hear it," she said obstinately. "He is sure to say something then, for he is waiting for us. I can shout very loud, just listen: 'Mr. Castle-Steward!'"

Her cry was so vigorous that Mr. Trius became quite blue with rage. "Be quiet, you little monster!" he said, but he opened the door nevertheless.

"Maybe we shouldn't go in," said Leonore. Maezli pulled her along, however, and never let go her hand till they had reached the terrace; she had no desire to leave her friend behind when they were so near their goal. Now, Maezli quickly taking back the second picture-book, which Leonore had been carrying for her, began to run.

"Just come! Leonore. Look! there he sits already." With this Maezli flew over to the large pine tree.

"How do you do, Mr. Castle-Steward! Didn't I come soon again, this time?" she merrily called out to him. "I have also brought everything I promised. Here are the picture books--look! two of them. I thought you might look through one too quickly."

Maezli laid both books on the lion skin and began to rummage through her pockets. "Look what else I brought you," and Maezli laid down a tiny ivory whistle. "Kurt gave it to me once and now I give it to you. If you have a headache and Mr. Trius is far away, all you need to do is to whistle. Then he can come and bring you some water. He'll hear it far, far away, because it whistles as loud as anything. Just try it once! I have also brought you Leonore."

The gentleman started slightly and looked up. Leonore had shyly retreated behind the chair, but Maezli pulled her forward. The gentleman now threw a penetrating glance at the delicate looking little girl, who hardly dared to raise her large, dark eyes to his. Leonore, who had blushed violently under his scrutiny, said in a barely audible voice, "Perhaps we should not have come; but Maezli thought we might be allowed to see you. Can we do something for you? Perhaps Maezli should not have brought me. Oh, I am so sorry if I have offended you."

"No, indeed. Maezli meant well when she wanted me to meet her friend," the gentleman said in quite a friendly voice. "What is the name of Maezli's friend?"

"Leonore von Wallerstaetten," the girl answered, and noticing the large books on the gentleman's knees, she added, "May I take the books away? They might be too heavy."

"Yes, you might, but it was very good of Maezli to bring them all the way up to me," he said. "I'll look at them a little later."

"May I fix your pillow for you? It does not do you much good that way," said Leonore, pulling it up. It had long ago slipped out of position.

"Oh, this is better, this is lovely," the sick man replied, comfortably leaning back in the chair.

"What a shame! It won't stay, I am afraid. It is falling down again," said Leonore regretfully. "We ought to have a ribbon. If I only had one and a thread and needle!--but perhaps we could come again to-morrow--"

Leonore became quite frightened suddenly at her boldness and remained silent from embarrassment. But Maezli got her out of this trying situation. Full of confidence she announced that they would return the next day with everything necessary.

The gentleman now asked Leonore where she came from and where she lived. She related that she had been living in a boarding school for several years, ever since the death of her great-aunt, with whom both she and her brother had found a home.

"Have you no other relations?" the gentleman asked, keenly observing her the while.

"No, none at all, except an uncle who has been living in Spain for many years. My aunt told us that he won't ever come back and that no one knows where he is. If we knew where he is, we should have written to him long ago. Salo would go to Spain as soon as he was allowed to and I should go to him in any case."

"Why?" the gentleman asked.

"Because he is our father's brother," she replied, "and we could love him like a father, too. He is the only person in the whole world to whom we could belong. We have wished many and many a time a chance to look for him, because we might live with him."

"No, you couldn't do that. I know him, I have been in Spain," the Castle-Steward said curtly.

A light spread over Leonore's face, as if her heart had been suddenly flooded with hope.

"Oh, do you really know our uncle? Do you know where he is living?" she cried out, while her cheeks flushed with happiness. "Oh, please tell me what you know about him."

When she gazed up at the gentleman with such sparkling eyes, it seemed to him that he ought to consider his reply carefully.

Suddenly he said positively, "No, no, you can never seek him out. Your uncle is an old, sick man, and no young people could possibly live with him. He must remain alone in his old owl's nest. You could not go to him there."

"But we should go to him so much more, if he is old and ill. He needs us more then than if he had a family," Leonore said eagerly. "He could be our father and we his children and we could take care of him and love him. If he only were not so dreadfully far away! If you could only tell us where he lives, we could write to him and get his permission to go there. Without him we can't do anything at all, because Mr. von Stiele in Hanover wants Salo to study for years and years longer. We have to do everything he says, unless our uncle should call us. Oh, please tell me where he lives!"

"Just think of all the deprivations you would have to suffer with your old uncle! Think how lonely it would be for you to live with a sick man in a wild nest among the rocks! What do you say to that?" he said curtly.

"Oh, it would only be glorious for Salo and me to have a real home with an uncle we loved," Leonore continued, showing that her longing could not be quenched. "There is only one thing I should miss there, but I have to miss it in Hanover, too. I shall never, never feel at home there!"

"Well, what is this?" the gentleman queried.

"That I can't be together with Aunt Maxa and the children."

"Shall we ask Aunt Maxa's advice? Would this suit you, child?"

"Oh, yes indeed," Leonore answered happily.

At the mention of Aunt Maxa she suddenly remembered that they had not told her where they were going. As she was afraid that they had remained away too long already, Lenore urged Maezli to take her leave quickly, while she gave her hand to the steward.

"Will you deliver a message for me, Leonore?" he said; "will you tell your Aunt Maxa that the master of the castle, whom she knew long years ago, would love to visit her, but he is unable? Ask her if he may hope that she will come up to him at the castle instead?"

Maezli gave her hand now to say good-bye, and when she noticed that the pillow had slipped down again, she said, "Apollonie would just love to set things in order for you, but Mr. Trius won't let her in. She would be willing to give a finger from her right hand if she were allowed to do everything Mr. Trius doesn't do."

"Come now, Maezli," said Leonore, for she had the feeling that this peculiar revelation might be followed by others as unintelligible. But the Castle-Steward smiled, as if he had comprehended Maezli's words.

Mrs. Maxa was standing in front of her house, surrounded by her children, anxiously looking for the two missing ones. Nobody could understand where Leonore and Maezli might have stayed so long. Suddenly they caught a glimpse of two blue ribbons fluttering from Leonore's hat. Quickly the children rushed to meet them.

"Where do you come from? Where did you stay so long? Where have you been all this time," sounded from all sides.

"In the castle," was the answer.

The excitement only grew at this.

"How could you get there? Who opened the door? What did you do at the castle?" The questions were poured out at such a rate that no answer could possibly have been heard.

"I went to see the Castle-Steward before. I have been to see him quite often," said Maezli loudly, for she was desirous of being heard.

Leonore had gone ahead with the mother's arm linked in hers, for she was very anxious to deliver her message.

Kurt was too much interested in Maezli's expedition to the castle to be frightened off by the first unintelligible account. He had to find out how it had come about and what had happened, but the two did not get very far in their dialogue.

As soon as Maezli began to talk first about Mr. Trius and then about the Steward, Kurt always said quickly, "But this is all one and the same person. Don't make two out of them, Maezli! All the world knows that Mr. Trius is the Steward of Castle Wildenstein; he is one person and not two."

Then Maezli answered, "Mr. Trius is one and the Castle-Steward is another. They are two people and not one."

After they had repeated this about three times Bruno said, "Oh, Kurt, leave her alone. Maezli thinks that there are two, when she calls him first Mr. Trius and then Mr. Castle-Steward."

That was too much for Maezli, and shouting vigorously, "They are two people, they are two people," she ran away.

Leonore had related in the meantime how Maezli had proposed to visit the sick Castle-Steward and how she had at first been reluctant to go, till Maezli had made her feel that she was wrong. She related everything that had happened and all the questions he had asked her.

"Just think, Aunt Maxa," Leonore went on, "the gentleman knows our uncle in Spain. He said that he had been there, too, and he knows that our uncle is old and ill and is living all by himself. I wanted so much to find out where he was, and asked him to tell me, but he thought it would not help, as we couldn't possibly go to him. So I said that we might write, and just think, Aunt Maxa! at last he said he would ask your advice." Then Leonore gave her message. "He did not say that the Castle-Steward, as he called himself to Maezli, sent the message, but told me that it was from the master of the castle, whom you knew a long time ago," Leonore concluded. "Oh, just think! Aunt Maxa, we might find our uncle after all. Oh, please help us, for I want so much to write to him."

Mrs. Maxa had listened with ever-growing agitation, and she was so deeply affected that she could not say a word. She could not express the thought which thrilled her so, because she did not know the Baron's intentions. Mea's loud complaints at this moment conveniently hid her mother's silence.

"Oh, Leonore," she cried out, "if you go to Spain, we shan't see each other again for the rest of our lives; then you will never, never come back here any more!"

"Do you really think so?" Leonore asked, much downcast. She felt that it would be hard for her to choose in such a case, and she suddenly did not know if she really wanted to go to Spain.

"It is not very easy to make a trip to Spain, children," said the mother, "and I am sure that it is not necessary to get excited about it."

When Kurt, after the belated supper that night, renewed his examination about the single or the double Steward of Castle Wildenstein, their mother announced that bedtime had not only come for the little ones, but for all. Soon after, the whole lively party was sleeping soundly and only the mother was still sitting in her room, sunk in deep meditation. She had not been able to think over the Baron's words till now and she wondered what hopes she might build upon them. He might only want to talk over Leonore's situation because he had realized how little she felt at home in Hanover. But all this thinking led to nothing, and she knew that our good Lord in heaven, who opens doors which seem most tightly barred, had let it happen for a purpose. She was so grateful that she would be able to see the person who, more than anyone else, held Leonore's destiny in his hands. Full of confidence in God, she hoped that the hand which had opened an impassable road would also lead an embittered heart back to himself, and by renewing in him the love of his fellowmen, bring about much happiness and joy.