After a letter like this there was no need for farther delay; everything had been provided for. Dora now heard for the first time that she was to go with them, and with a light heart and a willing hand, she packed the heavy materials for six large shirts, which she was to make while they were in Switzerland. The prospect of sewing on the shirts in a new place, and with different surroundings, excited her so much that she looked on it all as a holiday. At last all was ready. The trunks and chests were carried down to the street door, and the servant-girl was sent out for a cabman with a hand-cart, to take them away.
Dora had been ready for a long time, and stood at the head of the stairs with beating heart filled with expectations of all the new things that she was to see for the next six weeks. The idea of this coming freedom almost overcame her with its bewildering delight, after all those long, long days in the seamstress’ little, stifling room.
At last her uncle and aunt came from their room laden with innumerable umbrellas and parasols, baskets and bundles, got down stairs with some difficulty, and mounted the carriage that was waiting below. And they were fairly off for the country,—and quiet.
On the other side of the hedge.
Mr. Birkenfeld’s large house was situated on the summit of a green hill with a lovely view across a lake to a richly-wooded valley beyond. From early spring to the end of autumn, flowers of every hue glistened and glowed in the bright sunshine that seemed always to lie on those lovely meadows. Near the house was the stable, in which stamped four spirited horses, and there, also, many shining cows stood at their cribs, peacefully chewing the fragrant grass with which they were well-supplied by the careful Battiste, an old servant who had served the family for many years. When Hans, the stable-boy, and all the other servants were away, busy on the estate, it was Battiste’s habit to walk round from time to time through the stalls, to make sure that all was as it should be. For he knew all about the right management of horses and cattle, having been in the service of Mr. Birkenfeld’s father when he was a mere lad. Now that he was well on in years, he had been advanced to the position of house-servant, but he still had an eye upon the stable and over the whole farm. The mows were neatly filled with sweet-smelling hay, and the bins were piled full of wheat and oats and barley, all the product of the farm, which extended over the hill-side far away into the valley below. On the side of the house opposite the barnyards stood the wash-house with its spacious drying-ground, and not far away, but quite concealed by a high hedge from the house and garden, was the tiny cottage which the owner had kindly allowed the school-master’s widow to occupy for several years past.