The count at once had the plot of ground inclosed with a high fence of stout planks, engaged a gardener, and had it transformed into a beautiful flower-garden.
Then, when the first spring blossoms began to open, he said to Marie, one balmy, sunshiny afternoon: “Come, we will take a promenade.”
He conducted the veiled maiden through the park, along the freshly graveled path to the inclosed plot of ground.
“Here is your garden,” he said, opening the gate. “Now you, too, own a plot of ground.”
Count Vavel had expected to see the little maid clap her hands with delight, and hasten to pluck the flowers for a nosegay.
Instead, however, she clung to his arm and sighed heavily.
“Why do you sigh, Marie? Are you not pleased with your garden?”
“Yes; I think it beautiful.”
“Then why do you sigh?”
“Because I cannot thank you as I wish.”
“But you have already thanked me.”
“That was only with words. Tell me, can any one see us here?”
“No one; we are alone.”
At these words the little maid tore the veil from her face, and for the first time in many years God’s free sunlight illumined her lovely features. What those features expressed, what those eyes flashed through their tears, that was her gratitude.
When she had illumined the heart of her guardian with this expressive glance, she was about to draw the veil over her face again; but Ludwig laid a gently restraining hand on hers, and said: “Leave your face uncovered, Marie; no one can see it here; and every day for one hour you may walk thus here, without fear of being seen, for I shall send the gardener elsewhere during that time.”
When they were leaving the garden, Marie plucked two forget-me-nots, and gave one of them to Ludwig. From that day she had one more pleasure: the garden, a free sight of the sky, the warmth of the sunlight—enjoyments hitherto denied her; but, all the same, the childlike cheerfulness faded more and more from her countenance.
Ludwig, who was distressed to see this continued melancholy in the child’s face, searched among his pedagogic remedies for a cure for such moods. A sixteen-year-old girl might begin the study of history. At this age she would already become interested in descriptions of national customs, in archaeological study, in travels. He therefore collected for Marie’s edification quite a library, and became a zealous expounder of the various works.
In a short time, however, he became aware that his pupil was not so studious as she had been formerly. She paid little heed to his learned discourses, and even neglected to learn her lessons. For this he was frequently obliged to reprove her. This was a sort of refrigerating process. For an instructor to scold a youthful pupil is the best proof that he is a being from a different planet!
One day the tutor was delineating with great eloquence to his scholar—who, he imagined, was listening with special interest—the glorious deeds of heroism performed by St. Louis, and was tracing on the map the heroic king’s memorable crusade. The scholar, however, was writing something on a sheet of paper which lay on the table in front of her.