“If only I could have told mother about it!” he sighed. But he felt dreadfully ashamed. She had absolutely forbidden him troubling himself about this matter. Even with his intention to get rid of the talk he had acted against her command. Well, and what had he accomplished? More than ever the whole village would say to-morrow that the ghost of Wildenstein was wandering about again. Furthermore he did not know how to gainsay it. If it only had not been so huge!
When the mother stepped up to her children’s bedside later on as usual, she stopped a little while before Kurt. Hearing him moaning in his sleep, she thought he was ill.
“Kurt,” she said quietly, “does something hurt you?”
He woke up. “Oh, mother,” he said, seizing her hand, “is it you? I thought the ghost of Wildenstein was stretching out his enormous arm towards me!
“You were dreaming; don’t think about such things in daytime,” the mother said kindly. “Have you forgotten your evening prayer after the excitements of the day?”
“Yes, I had so much to think about that I forgot it,” Kurt admitted.
“Say it now, then you will fall asleep more quietly,” said the mother. “But please, Kurt, never forget that God hears our prayers and comforts and calms us only when we open our hearts entirely to him. You know, Kurt, don’t you, that we must hide nothing from him?”
Kurt moaned “Yes” in a very low voice.
After giving him a good-night kiss the mother withdrew.
It seemed as if for several days a heavy atmosphere was weighing down the limbs of all Mrs. Maxa’s household, so that its wonted cheerfulness was entirely absent. Even the mother went about more silently than usual, for the worry about Bruno’s future weighed heavily on her heart. She had written to her brother to come to her as soon as possible, so that they could talk the matter over and come to a united decision. He had answered her that urgent business was forcing him to a journey to South Germany, and that it would be time enough to settle the matter after his return. Bruno, having heard about the situation, was already wrought up by the mere possibility of his being obliged to live with the two boys. Secretly he was already making the wildest plans in order to escape such an intolerable situation. Why shouldn’t he simply disappear and go to Spain like the young Baron of Wallerstaetten? Probably the young gentleman had had some money to dispose of, while he had none. He might hire himself out as a sailor, however, and travel to China or Australia. He might study the inhabitants and peculiarities of these countries and write famous books about them. In that way he could make a good livelihood. Might he not join a band of wandering singers? His mother had already told him how well his voice sounded and that she wanted him to develop it later on. With wrinkled brows Bruno sat about whole evenings, not saying one word but meditating on his schemes. He found it extremely hard to tell which one of them was best and to think of means to carry it out.