He escaped from the garden about ten days before, she explained, and was gone at least two hours, and then returned wet through, and was a little light-headed that night, and had talked of “Maman and the angels,” and “Papa and Cherisette,” but they could obtain no information from him as to why he went, nor whom he had seen. He had so rapidly recovered that the doctor had not thought it necessary to let any one know, and she, Mrs. Morley—guessing how busy one must be ordering a trousseau—when there was no danger had refrained from sending a letter, to be forwarded from the given address.
Here Zara’s eyes had flashed, and she had said sternly,
“The trousseau was not of the slightest consequence in comparison to my brother’s health.”
Mirko was upstairs in his pretty bedroom, playing with a puzzle and the nurse; he had not been told of his sister’s proposed coming, but some sixth sense seemed to inform him it was she, when her footfall sounded on the lower stairs, for they heard an excited voice shouting:
“I tell you I will go—I will go to her, my Cherisette!” And Zara hastened the last part, to avoid his rushing, as she feared he would do, out of his warm room into the cold passage.
The passionate joy he showed at the sight of her made a tightness round her heart. He did not look ill, only, in some unaccountable way, he seemed to have grown smaller. There was, too, even an extra pink flush in his cheeks.
He must sit on her lap and touch all her pretty things. She had put on her uncle’s big pearl earrings and one string of big pearls, on purpose to show him; he so loved what was beautiful and refined.
“Thou art like a queen, Cherisette,” he told her. “Much more beautiful than when we had our tea party, and I wore Papa’s paper cap. And everything new! The uncle, then, is very rich,” he went on, while he stroked the velvet on her dress.
And she kissed and soothed him to sleep in her arms, when he was ready for his bed. It was getting quite late, and she sang a soft, Slavonic cradle song, in a low cooing voice, and, every now and then, before the poor little fellow sank entirely to rest, he would open his beautiful, pathetic eyes, and they would swim with love and happiness, while he murmured, “Adored Cherisette!”
The next day—Saturday—she never left him. They played games together, and puzzles. The nurse was kind, but of a thickness of understanding, like all the rest, he said, and, with his sister there, he could dispense with her services for the moment. He wished, when it grew dusk and they were to have their tea, to play his violin to only her, in the firelight; and there he drew forth divine sounds for more than an hour, tearing at Zara’s heart-strings with the exquisite notes until her eyes grew wet. And at last he began something that she did not know, and the weird, little figure moved as in a dance in the firelight, while he played this new air as one inspired, and then stopped suddenly with a crash of joyous chords.