Rolf had abandoned his old plan of charade-making, and had started on an entirely new system, and he spent his leisure hours striding up and down certain of the garden-walks, sunk in thought with his hands clasped behind his back, and so lost to outward things that Hunne was charged to keep away from these paths; for more than once he was almost run down by his brother. A new set of riddles was now ready every evening for Uncle Titus, who was always waiting for his young friend in the summer-house, prepared to guess, and showing remarkable skill in finding out even the most intricate puzzles; and as a natural result, Rolf grew more and more clever in making them. Before long, Uncle Titus began to give riddles himself in return, and his were carefully written out; for they required serious study, as they were in Latin. Rolf carried these home to his father and Jule, but they would not even try to guess them. Mr. Ehrenreich declared that his Latin was quite too rusty for such work as this, and Jule maintained that during vacation he did not dare to tax his brain unnecessarily; he needed all his wits for his serious work next term. So Rolf worked away by himself, dictionary in hand, and twisted and turned the words till he wrung out their meaning. Then he showed them with triumph to his father and brother, and in the evening carried them to Uncle Titus. The pleasure which his kind old friend took in his success spurred the boy on to greater activity. He studied not only the riddles themselves, but his Latin lessons more earnestly, and he took to early rising, and every morning before breakfast he worked with his Lexicon in the garden, as if his livelihood depended on the solution of Latin puzzles.
Hunne too was a lucky boy in these days, for no matter how often or how long he hung upon Dora, and claimed her as his own property, never once did the good-natured girl avoid or repulse her little friend; but always lent herself to his wishes, and took so much pains to amuse him, that it seemed as if she found her own pleasure in pleasing him. Mrs. Birkenfeld had persuaded Aunt Ninette to leave Dora entirely at liberty both morning and evening, and when in the afternoon she took her sewing and sat with the family under the apple-tree, she found that even shirt-making might be an agreeable occupation, under such favorable circumstances as these.
One day Dora made a new riddle for Hunne; for indeed his “nut-cracker” one had become rather an old story; yet he couldn’t bear to give up riddle-giving. To his unspeakable joy this new riddle had a triumphant experience, quite unprecedented in the family annals—no one could guess it. This time nobody could turn him off with, “Oh, go away with that same old charade.” For as no one knew the answer, no one could laugh at the little questioner, and he and Dora agreed not to give the slightest hint that might lead to the right guess, and so put an end to this delightful state of things.