But her dreary schoolroom and Fraeulein’s society chafed her nervous sensibilities dangerously; there were only a few brown sparrows, or a stray cat intent on game, to be seen from her window. From the drawing-room, from Sara’s boudoir, from her mother’s bedroom, there was a charming view of the Park. In the spring the fresh foliage of the trees, and the velvety softness of the grass, would be delicious; down in the broad white road, carriages were passing, horses cantering, happy-looking people in smart bonnets, in gorgeous mantles, driving about everywhere; children would be running up and down the paths in the Park, flower-sellers would stand offering their innocent wares to the passengers. Jill would sit entranced by her mother’s window watching them; the sunshine, the glitter, the hubbub, intoxicated her; she made up stories by the dozen, as her dark eyes followed the gay equipages. When Fraeulein summoned her she went away reluctantly; the stories got into her head, and stopped there all the time she laboured through that long sonata.
‘Why are your fingers all thumbs to-day, Fraeulein?’ Herr Schliefer would demand gloomily. Jill, who was really fond of the stern old professor, hung her head and blushed guiltily. She had no excuse to offer: her girlish dreams were sacred to her; they came gliding to her through the most intricate passages of the sonata, now with a staccato movement,—brisk, lively,—with fitful energy, now andante, then crescendo, con passione. Jill’s unformed girlish hands strike the chords wildly, angrily. ‘Dolce, dolce,’ screams the professor in her ears. The music softens, wanes, and the dreams seem to die away too. ’That will do, Fraeulein: you have not acquitted yourself so badly after all.’ And Jill gets off her music-stool reluctant, absent, half awake, and her day-dream broken up into chaos.
As I opened the schoolroom door a half-forgotten picture of Cinderella came vividly before me.
The fire had burnt low; a heap of black ashes lay under the grate; and by the dull red glow I could see Jill’s forlorn figure, very indistinctly, as she sat in her favourite attitude on the rug, her arms clasping her knees and her short black locks hanging loosely over her shoulders. She gave a little shrill exclamation of pleasure when she saw me.
‘Ah, you dear darling bear, do come and hug me,’ she cried, trying to get up in a hurry, but her dress entangled her.
‘Where is Fraeulein?’ I asked, pushing her back into her place, while I knelt down to manipulate the miserable fire. ’Jill, you look just like Cinderella when the proud sisters drove away to the ball. My dear, were you asleep? Why are you sitting in the dark, with the fire going out, and the lamp unlighted? There, it only wanted to be stirred; we shall have light by which to see other’s faces directly,’