“Aunt Ninette,” said the little girl timidly, for she knew she had staid out too long, “you need not be frightened; it is all dark again in the garden; the fire is all out.”
Her aunt cast a rapid glance from the window, and saw that this was true; everything was dark, even the last lantern extinguished. Some one was moving about among the trees, evidently to make sure that all was safe.
“This is too terrible! Who would have believed that such things could happen?” said Aunt Ninette, half scolding, half-whimpering. “Go to bed now Dora. To-morrow we will move away, and find another house, or leave the place altogether.”
The child obeyed quickly, and went up to her little bedroom, but it was long, very long, before she could sleep. She still saw the illuminated garden, the sparkling apple tree, and the father and mother with their happy children gathered about them. She thought of the time when she too could tell her father everything, and the thought doubled her sense of her own loneliness, and of the happiness of those other children.
And the child had become so much interested in the life beyond the hedge, and so almost fond of that good father and mother, whom she had been watching, that the thought of going away again as her aunt threatened, was a very sad one. She could not go to sleep. Presently she seemed to see the children with their kind father again, and her own father was standing with them, and she heard these words,
“God holds us in his
God knows the best to send.”
And so she fell asleep, and in her dreams she again saw the shining apple-tree, and the merry group under its branches.
On investigating the cause of the fire, it was discovered that Wili and Lili had conceived the happy thought of turning the riddle into a transparency, so that suddenly the company might see it shining with red light behind it, like the motto behind the Christmas tree, “Glory to God in the highest.”
So they withdrew silently from the company, fetched two candles, climbed upon some high steps, which had been brought when the placard was put in place, and held the candles as near as possible to the card. As they did not perceive any expression of surprise on the faces of the company at the table, they raised their candles higher and higher, nearer and nearer, until the paste-board suddenly took fire, and the flame quickly spread to the bushes above.
The twins readily confessed themselves the cause of the mischief, and were sent to bed with but a gentle reproof, so as not to spoil the general effect of the festivity, but they were seriously warned never to play with fire again as long as they lived.
Soon all was quiet in the great house, and the moon looked peacefully down on the trees and the sleeping flowers in the silent garden.