A frightful Deed.
It was a beautiful, bright Sunday morning. In the garden all was peaceful and lovely. No sound broke the perfect stillness, save when now and then a rosy-cheeked apple fell to the ground, for the apples were ripening fast in the autumn sun.
Mr. and Mrs. Birkenfeld had gone to church, and with them Paula and Miss Hanenwinkel. In the sitting-room, Jule and Hunne were harmoniously discussing over a big dish of hazel-nuts, in how many different ways they could make the nutcracker crack a nut. The twins, since the lesson they had had in the wash-house, had returned contented to the mimic ark, with its wooden men and women, and they were now playing with it on the school-room table, which they had all to themselves to-day. Rolf had early betaken himself to the garden, and had settled down in a sequestered summer-house, where he could think over all sorts of things, without fear of being disturbed.
After the flood had subsided (a flood this time without water), and when the dove had returned with the olive-branch, and quiet was restored in the land, new schemes began to work in Lili’s busy little head.
“What do you say, Wili, to coming down-stairs to look at Rolf’s new bow; he left it in the passage-way last evening.”
Wili was all agog at the idea, and they both scampered down-stairs. Lili knew the corner where Rolf had placed the bow, and there too was the quiver, with its two feathered arrows.
“Just see how jolly this is;” said Lili, “you pull this string back, and put the arrow here, and then let the string fly, and off goes the arrow like anything. I saw just how Rolf did it; and suppose we try to see how it works!”
“But we must not shoot with it; don’t you remember that papa said so, Lili?”
“I don’t mean to shoot, but only to try it. I just want to see how it is done; don’t you understand?”
This explanation satisfied Wili.
“Where shall we try it? There is not room in this passage.”
“No, no; I know where, in the garden. Come along;” and Lili ran off with the quiver, while Wili followed with the bow. They chose a nice open space near the hedge.
“Here now, we will both try together, and see if we can do it,” said Lili.
Wili brought up his bow, and they pressed it against the ground, and then both took the cord in their hands, and tugged away till they had snapped it into place. Lili shouted with delight.
“Now, we must lift it up,” she said, “so; and put the arrow in here, Wili, do you see? and now you pull back that thing underneath, and you will see how it will go off. There, just try.”
Wili tried; pulled back the “thing,” and the arrow whistled through the hedge. Instantly a cry of anguish sounded from the other side, and then all was silent. They looked at each other in great fright.