After dinner, they went to the library to look at the late newspapers. Ludwig himself made the coffee, after which he read the papers, and dictated his comments and criticisms on certain articles to Marie, who wrote them out in her delicate hair-line chirography.
When Ludwig and Marie separated for the afternoon, he touched his lips to her hand and brow. Marie then returned to her own apartments, played the hand-organ for her pets, changed her dolls’ toilets, counted her gains or losses at cards, colored with her paints a few of the illustrations in the magazines, looked through her “Orbis pictus,” reading without difficulty the text which was printed in four languages, and read for the hundredth time her favorite “Robinson Crusoe.”
And thus passed day after day, from spring until autumn, from autumn until spring.
Evenings, when Marie prepared for bed, before she undressed herself, she spread a heavy silken coverlet over the leather lounge which stood near the door. She knew very well that the some one she called Ludwig slept every night on the lounge, but he came in so late, and went away so early in the morning, that she never heard his coming or his going.
The little maid was a sound sleeper, and the pugs never barked at the master of the house, who gave them lumps of sugar.
Often the little maid had determined that she would not go to sleep until she heard Ludwig come into the room. But all her attempts to remain awake were in vain. Her eyelids closed the moment her head touched the pillow. Then she tried to waken early, in order to wish him good morning; but when she thrust her little head from between the bed-curtains, and called cheerily, “Good morning, dear Ludwig!” there was no one there.
Ludwig never slept more than four hours of the twenty-four, and his slumber was so light that he woke at the slightest noise. Then, too, he slept like a soldier in the field—always clothed, with his weapons beside him.
One day in the year formed an exception to all the rest. It was Marie’s birthday. From her earliest childhood this one day had been entirely her own. On this day she addressed Ludwig with the familiar “thou,” as she had been wont to do when he had taught her to walk. She always looked forward with great pleasure to this day, and made for it all sorts of plans whose accomplishment was extremely problematic.
And who came to congratulate her on her birthday? First of all, the solitary sparrow, whose name was David—surely because he, too, was a tireless singer! Already at early dawn, when the first faint rosy hues of morning glimmered through the jalousie, he would fly to the head of her bed. Then the cats would come with their gratulations, but not until their little mistress had leaped from the bed, run to the window, flung open the sash, and called, “Puss, puss!” Then the whole four would scamper into the room, one after the other, and wish her many happy returns of the day.