“What are you two about?” he called out, “is this the beginning of some mischievous prank?”
“Be quiet, Jule, we haven’t a minute to lose,” said Lili seriously. Jule laughed aloud and went on his way. Going down stairs, he met Miss Hanenwinkel.
“What has got into the twins now?” he asked. “Have they taken the notion of being virtuous, into their small noddles?”
“That is more likely at seven than at seventeen;” was all the answer he got.
He went on down stairs still laughing, and just at the front door met his mother. She was starting at that early hour to try to see the doctor before he went from home, to ask him exactly the state of Dora’s arm, and whether there was any danger for the child. Aunt Ninette’s anxiety had infected her, and she could not rest until she knew the probabilities of the case.
“Do I hear some one playing on the piano, Jule?” she asked. “It is an unusual sound for this time of day.”
“Mother dear, I do believe that the end of the world is coming,” replied Julius;
“Lili is up there hurrying from one finger-exercise to another as if she could not get enough of that exquisite amusement, and Wili is seated at her side in a similar condition of nervous industry, waiting for his turn at the piano.”
“A strange state of things, to be sure, Jule,” said his mother; “for it was only yesterday that Miss Hanenwinkel was complaining to me that Lili did not show the slightest interest in her music, and that she would not even play her piece, much less her exercises.”
“It’s just as I said; the end of the world is coming,” said Jule, turning towards the stable.
“Let us hope rather the beginning,” replied Mrs. Birkenfeld, starting in the other direction to go down the hill towards the village. When she reached the doctor’s house, she was so fortunate as to find him at home, and she asked him the question that so greatly disquieted her. He assured her that the wound was doing perfectly well, and that there was not the slightest danger of any permanent stiffness of the arm; though he laughingly owned that he had made the worst of it to Dora, in order to impress her with caution for the future. It would be all over in a day or two at farthest. Mrs. Birkenfeld was much relieved, for besides her sympathy for Dora, she had felt keenly her children’s responsibility for the misfortune.
On her way home Mrs. Birkenfeld stopped to speak to Aunt Ninette; not only to carry her the doctor’s favorable verdict, but also to talk with her about Dora. She now learned for the first time, that Dora was to earn her living by sewing; and that for this reason her aunt felt obliged to keep her so closely to her shirt-making.
Mrs. Birkenfeld took a warm interest in Dora. She thought the little girl very delicate for such heavy work, and she was glad that there was still some time left for her to grow stronger before she had to go back to Karlsruhe, and settle down to regular work again. She begged Aunt Ninette to let the child, during the rest of their stay, give up the sewing entirely, and she offered to let her own seamstress make the shirts, that Dora might be free to amuse herself with the children, and gain strength by play in the open air.