“Oh, please, mother, tell us a little more,” Kurt begged eagerly, when his mother rose.
“Oh, mother,” Mea joined in, “tell us more about your friend, Leonore.”
“Oh, yes, tell us more, mother,” Bruno supplicated. “There must be more to know still. Did Baron Bruno keep on travelling in Spain?”
“I think most of the time, but I can’t tell you for sure,” the mother replied. “I know everything only from Apollonie, who had these reports from Mr. Trius, but he either does not choose to talk or does not know very much himself about his master. I have told you everything now and you must go to bed as quickly as you can. It was your bedtime long ago.”
No questions or supplications helped now, and soon the house was silent, except for the mother’s quiet steps as she once more visited the children’s beds. Her eldest, who could become so violent, lay before her with a peaceful expression on his clear brow. She knew how high his standard of honor was, but how would he end if his unfortunate trait gained more ascendancy over him? Soon she would be obliged to send him away, and how could she hope for a loving influence in strange surroundings, which was the only thing to quiet him? The mother knew that she had not the power to keep her children from pain and sin, but she knew the hand which leads and steadies all children that are entrusted to it, that can guard and save where no mother’s hand or love can avail. She went with folded hands from one bed to the other, surrendering her children to their Father’s protection in Heaven. He knew best how much they were in need of His loving care.
AN UNEXPECTED APPARITION
Kurt had so many plans the next day that he already rushed to school as if he had not a minute to lose. Mea and Lippo, who started with him, looked full of astonishment at his unusual speed. Arriving at the school, he saw Loneli coming along with a drooping head and not, as usual, with a happy stride.
“What is it, Loneli?” asked Kurt coming nearer. “Why are your eyes swollen already before it is even eight o’clock? Just he happy. I’ll help you. Did anybody hurt you?”
“No, Kurt, no one, but I can’t be happy any more,” and with these words Loneli’s eyes filled again with tears. “I wish you could see grandmother since I’ve been on the shame-bench. I would not mind if she were angry, for she generally forgives me again after a while; but she is sad all the time. It is worst when I go to school in the morning, because she says that I brought down shame on us both, and that I have given her gray hairs. She said to me that after having lived an honorable life and spent most of it with the most noble family, this was very hard for her. She felt as if she had raised me only to bring down shame on both for the rest of our lives.”
Loneli broke out anew into tears. This neverending disgrace, together with the constant reproaches she had had to bear, seemed to choke her,