The gnome’s spectacles I kept hidden under my pillow, and many a time when Mabel was with me I felt a strong temptation to try their effect upon her. Was Mabel really as good and beautiful as she seemed to me? Often I had my hand on the dangerous glasses, but always the same dread came over me, and my courage failed me. That sweet, fair, beautiful face,—what could it be, if it was not what it seemed? No, no, I loved Mabel too well as she seemed, to wish to know whether she was a delusion or a reality. What good would it do me if I found out that she too was a parrot, or a goose, or any other kind of bird or beast? The fairest hope would go out of my life, and I should have little or nothing left worth living for. I must confess that my curiosity often tormented me beyond endurance, but, as I said, I could never muster courage enough either to conquer it or to yield to it. Thus, when at the end of a week I was allowed to sit up, I knew no more about Mabel’s real character than I had known before. I saw that she was patient, kind-hearted, sweet-tempered,—that her comings and goings were as quiet and pleasant as those of the sunlight which now stole in unhindered and again vanished through the uncurtained windows. And, after all, had I not known that always? One thing, however, I now knew better than before, and that was that I never could love anybody as I loved Mabel, and that I hoped some time to make her my wife.
A couple of days elapsed, and then I was permitted to return to my own lonely rooms. And very dreary and desolate did they seem to me after the pleasant days I had spent, playing sick, with Mabel and the professor. I did try once or twice the effect of my spectacles on some of my friends, and always the result was astonishing. Once I put them on in church, and the minister, who had the reputation of being a very pious man, suddenly stood before me as a huge fox in gown and bands. His voice sounded like a sort of a bark, and his long snout opened and shut again in such a funny fashion that I came near laughing aloud. But, fortunately, I checked myself and looked for a moment at a couple of old maids in the pew opposite. And, whether you will believe me or not, they looked exactly like two dressed-up magpies, while the stout old gentleman next to them had the appearance of a sedate and pious turkey-cock. As he took out his handkerchief and blew his nose—I mean his bill—the laughter again came over me, and I had to stoop down in the pew and smother my merriment. An old chum of mine, who was a famous sportsman and a great favorite with the ladies, turned out to be a bull-dog, and as he adjusted his neck-tie and pulled up his collar around his thick, hairy neck, I had once more to hide my face in order to preserve my gravity.