As soon as she entered, Kurt broke out into a frightened cry. “Oh, mother, we have forgotten all about the poor people whose houses burnt down and we were supposed to take the things with us this morning.”
“Yes, the teacher told us twice that we must not forget it,” Lippo complained, “but I didn’t forget it.”
“Don’t worry, children, I have attended to it,” said the mother. “Kathy has just gone to the school with a basket full of things. It was too heavy for you to carry.”
“Oh, how nice and convenient it is to have a mother,” Kurt said quite relieved.
The mother sat down at the piano.
“Come, let us sing our morning song, now,” she said. “We can’t wait for uncle, because he might come back too late from his walk.” Opening the book, she began to sing “The golden sun—with joy and fun.”
The children taking up the melody sang it briskly, for they knew it well. Maezli was singing full of zeal, too, and wherever she had forgotten the words, she did not stop, but made up some of her own.
Two stanzas had been sung when Kurt said, “We must stop now or it will get too late. After breakfast it is time to go to school.”
The mother, assenting, rose and went to the table to fill their cups.
But Lippo broke into a loud wail. Pulling his mother back, he cried, “Don’t go! Please don’t! We must finish it. We have to finish it. Come back, mother, come back.”
She tried to loosen the grip of the boy’s firm little fingers on her dress and to calm him, but she did not succeed, and he kept on crying louder and louder: “Come back! You said one must not leave anything half done. We didn’t finish the song and we must do it.”
Kurt now began to cry out, too: “Let go your pincher-claws—we’ll get to school late.”
Mea’s voice joined them with loud exclamation against Lippo, who was trying hard to pull his mother back, groaning loudly all the time.
Uncle Philip entered at this moment.
“What on earth is going on here?” he cried loudly into the confusion.
Everybody began to explain.
Lippo let go his grip at last and, approaching his uncle, solicited his help. Kurt’s voice, however, was the loudest and he got the lead in telling about Lippo’s obstinacy.
“Lippo is right,” the uncle decided. “One must finish what one has begun. This is a splendid principle and ought to be followed. Lippo has inherited this from his god-father and so he shall also have his help. Come Lippo, we’ll sit down and finish the song to the last word.”
“But, Uncle Philip, the song has twelve stanzas, and we have to go to school. Lippo must go, too,” Kurt cried out in great agitation. “He can’t get an excuse for saying that he had to finish his morning song.”
“That is true, Kurt is right,” said the uncle. “You see, Lippo, I know a way out. When you sing to-night, mother must promise me to finish the song. Then you will have sung it to the end.”