“Then let us wash clothes, too.”
Katharina smiled indulgently on the innocent maid, and the two now entered the manor, where Marie made the acquaintance of Fraeulein Lotti, the baroness’s companion.
Marie’s attention was attracted by the number of books she saw everywhere; and they were all new to her. Ludwig had never brought anything like them to the castle. There were poems, histories, romances, fables. Ah, how she would enjoy reading every one of them!
“Oh, who is doing this?” she exclaimed, when her eyes fell on an easel on which was a half-finished painting—a study head.
Her admiration for the baroness increased when that lady told her the picture was the work of her own hand.
“How very clever you must be, little mama! I wonder if you could paint my portrait?”
“I will try it to-morrow,” smilingly replied the baroness.
“And what is this—this great monster with so many teeth?” she asked, running to the piano.
Katharina told her the name of the “monster,” and, seating herself in front of the “teeth,” began to play.
Marie was in an ecstasy of delight.
“How happy you ought to be, little mama, to be able to make such beautiful music!” she cried, when Katharina turned again toward her.
“You shall learn to play, too; Fraeulein Lotti will teach you.”
For this promise Marie ran to Fraeulein Lotti and embraced her.
While at dinner Marie suddenly remembered that she had not yet seen the little water-monster, and inquired about him.
The baroness told her that the boy had gone back to his fish companions in the lake; then asked: “But where did you ever see the creature?”
Marie hesitated a moment before replying; a natural modesty forbade her from confessing to Ludwig’s betrothed wife that he had taught her how to swim, and had always accompanied her on her swimming excursions in his canoe.
“I saw him once with you in the park, when I was looking through the telescope,” she answered, with some confusion.
“Ah! then you also have been spying upon me?” jestingly exclaimed the baroness.
“How else could I have learned that you are so good and beautiful?” frankly returned the young girl.
“Ah, I have an idea,” suddenly observed the baroness. “That spy-glass is here now. The surveyor to whom Ludwig gave it sent it to me when he had done with it. Come, we will pay Herr Ludwig back in his own coin! We will spy out what the gentlemen are doing over at the castle.”
Marie was charmed with this suggestion, and willingly accompanied her “little mama” to the veranda, where the familiar telescope greeted her sight.
Two of the windows in that side of the Nameless Castle which faced the manor were lighted.
“That is the dining-room; they are at dinner,” explained Marie, adjusting the glass—a task of which the baroness was ignorant. When she had arranged the proper focus, she made room for Katharina, who had a better right than she had to watch Ludwig.