“Oh,” Uncle Philip breathed relieved when they had reached the top. “At least we are as far as this. It really is an undertaking to keep in order a handful of children where one always differs from the last. Now I have luckily gotten through for today. What? Not yet? What is the matter, Bruno?”
The latter, approaching his uncle with clear signs that he wanted him for something, had pulled him aside.
“I want to ask you for something,” said Bruno. “I wonder if you will do me a great favor, Uncle Philip. Salo and I have so much to talk about still and he must leave to-morrow, I wanted to ask you if Kurt can sleep beside you in the guest room and Salo could sleep in Kurt’s bed in my room.”
“What are you thinking of,” the uncle said irritably. “You should hear what your mother would say to that. The idea of having a Wallerstaetten for a guest and offering him a bed which has been used already. That would seem a real crime in her eyes. That can’t be; no, it mustn’t. I hope you can see it, too, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Bruno said, much depressed, for he had to agree. But Uncle could not stand such downcast spirits.
“Listen, Bruno,” he said, “you realize that we can’t do it that way. But an uncle knows how to arrange things and that is why he is here. This is the way we’ll do. I’ll sleep in your bed, and Salo and you can sleep in the guest-room. Will that suit?”
“Oh, thank you, Uncle Philip! There is no other uncle like you,” Bruno cried out in his enthusiasm.
So Uncle Philip’s last difficulty was solved for to-day and everybody was willing to go to bed. Soon the house lay in deep quiet: even the sick child in the highest story lay calmly sleeping on her cool pillows. She did not even notice when Mrs. Maxa stepped up once more to her bedside with a little lamp. Before herself retiring she wanted to listen once more to the child’s breathing. Only the two new friends were still talking long after midnight.
They understood each other so thoroughly and upon all points that Bruno had proposed in his enthusiasm that they would not waste one minute of the night in sleep. Salo expressed his wish over and over again that Bruno might become his comrade in the boarding school. But finally victorious sleep stole unperceived over the two lads and quietly closed their eyes.
THE MOTHER’S ABSENCE HAS CONSEQUENCES
Next morning Salo was allowed to go into his sister’s room in order to say good-bye to her. She looked at him so cheerfully that he asked with eager delight, “Do you feel so much better already, Leonore?”
“Oh, yes, I feel as if I were at home,” she replied with shining eyes. “I feel as if our mother had come down from heaven to take care of me.”
“When you can get up and go downstairs you will be happier still. I know how much you will enjoy meeting the whole family,” said Salo. “Then you will feel as if you were in a real home that belongs to you.”