We have been in Dresden three whole days, and as yet my aspirations have not met their fulfillment. We have met no one we know. We have borrowed the Visitors’ Book from the porter, and diligently searched it. We have expectantly examined the guests at the tables d’hote every day, but with no result. It is too early in the year. The hotel is not half full. Of its inmates one half are American, a quarter German, and the other quarter English, such as not the most rabidly social mind can wish to forgather with. At the discovery of our ill-success, Sir Roger looks so honestly crestfallen that my heart smites me.
“How eager you are!” I say, laying my hand on his, with a smile. “You are far more anxious about it than I am! I begin to think that you are growing tired of me already! As for me,” continue I, nonchalantly, seeing his face brighten at my words, “I think I have changed my mind. Perhaps it would be rather a bore to meet any acquaintance, and—and— we do very well as we are, do not we?”
“Is that true, Nancy?” he says, eagerly. “I have been bothering my head rather with the notion that I was but poor company for a little young thing like you; that you must be wearying for some of your own friends.”
“I never had a friend,” reply I, “never—that is—except you! The boys”—(with a little stealing smile)—“always used to call you my friend—always from the first, from the days I used to take you out walking, and keep wishing that you were my father, and be rather hurt because I never could get you to echo the wish.”
“And you are not much disappointed really?” he says, with a wistful persistence, as if he but half believed the words my lips made. “If you are, mind you tell me, child—tell me every thing that vexes you— always!”
“I will tell you every thing that happens to me, bad and good,” reply I, quite gayly, “and all the unlucky things I say—there, that is a large promise, I can tell you!”
I am no longer dusty and grimy; quite spick and span, on the contrary; so freshly and prettily dressed, indeed, that the thought will occur to me that it is a pity there are not more people to see me. However, no doubt some one will turn up by-and-by. The weather is serenely, evenly fine. It seems as if no rain could come from such a high blue sky. It is late afternoon or early evening. Since dinner is over—dinner at the godless hour of half-past four—I suppose we must call it evening. Sir Roger and I are driving out in an open carriage beyond the town, across the Elbe, up the shady road to Weisserhoisch. The calm of coming night is falling with silky softness upon every thing. The acacias stand on each side of the highway, with the delicate abundance of their airy flowers, faintly yet most definitely sweet on the evening air.
I look up and see the crowded blooms drooping in pensive beauty above my head. The guelder-rose’s summer snow-balls, and the mock-orange with its penetrating odor, whiten the still gardens as we pass. The billowy meadow-grass, the tall red sorrel, the untidy, ragged robin, all the yearly-recurring May miracles! What can I say, O my friends, to set them fairly before you?