Under the trees the townsfolk are walking, chatting low and friendly. A soldier has his arm round a fat-faced Maedchen’s waist, an attention which she takes with the stolidity engendered by long habit. Dear, willing, panting dogs, are laboriously dragging the washer-women’s little carts up-hill.
“Vick,” say I, gravely, “how would you like to drag a little cart to the wash?”
Vick does not answer verbally, but she stretches her small neck over the carriage-side, and gives a disdainful yet inquisitive smell at her low brethren. No words could express a fuller contempt for a dog that earns his own living.
The driver is taking his horses along very easily, but we do not care to hurry him. I have not felt so happy, so at ease, so gay, since I was wed.
“This is nice,” say I, making a frantic snatch at a long acacia-droop; “how I wish they were all here!”
Sir Roger laughs a little, and raises his eyebrows slightly.
“Do you mean with us—now—in the carriage? Should not we be rather a tight fit?”
“Rather,” say I, laughing too. “We should be puzzled how to pack them all, should not we? We would be like the animals in a Noah’s ark.”
A little pause.
“General,” say I, impulsively, “it has just occurred to me, are not you sometimes deadly, deadly tired of hearing about the boys? I am sure I should be, if I were you. Confess! I will try not to be any angrier with you than I can help; but do not you sometimes wish that Algy and Bobby, and the Brat—not to speak of Tou Tou—were drowned in the Bed Sea, or in the horse-pond, at home?”
“At least you gave me fair warning,” he says, with a smile. “Do you remember telling me that whoever married you would have to marry all six?”
“I wish you would not remind me of that,” say I, reddening.
It was quite the broadest hint any one ever gave. The evening is deepening. We have reached Weisserhoisch. Now our faces are turned homeward again. As we pass the entrance to the Gardens of the Linnisches Bad, we see the lamps springing into light, and the people gayly yet quietly trooping in, while on the soft evening air comes the swell of merry music.
“Stop! stop!” cry I, springing up, excitedly. “Let us go in. I love a band! It is almost as good as a circus. May we, general? Do you mind? Would it bore you?”
Five minutes more, and we are sitting at a little round table, each with a tall green glass of Mai. Frank [Transcriber’s note: sic] before us, and a brisk Uhlanenritt in our ears. I look round with a pleasant sense of dissipation. The still, green trees; the cluster of oval lamps, like great bright ostrich-eggs; the countless little tables like our own; the happy social groups; the waiters running madly about with bif-tecks; the great-lidded goblets of amber-colored Bohemian beer; the young Bavarian officers, in light-blue uniforms, at the next table to us—stalwart, fair-haired boys—I should not altogether mind knowing a few of them; and, over all, the arch of suave, dark, evening sky.