‘Fraeulein has a headache and has gone to lie down,’ returned Jill, and, though I could not see her clearly, I knew at once by her voice that she had been crying; only she would have been furious if I had noticed the fact. ’I hope I am not very wicked, but Fraeulein’s headaches are the redeeming points in her character; she has them so often, and then she is obliged to lie down.’
‘Of course you have offered to bathe her head?’ I asked, a little mischievously, but Jill, who was unusually subdued, took the question in good part.
’Oh yes, and I spoke to her quite civilly; but I suppose she saw the savage gleam of delight in my eyes, for she was as cross as possible, and went away muttering that “Meess Jocelyn had the heart like the flint; if it had been Meess Sara, now—” and then she banged the door, so the pain could not have been so bad after all. It is my belief,’ went on Jill, ’that Fraeulein always has a headache when she has a novel to finish. Mamma does not like her to set me an example of novel-reading, so she is obliged to lock herself in her own room.’
I took no notice of this statement, as I rather leaned to this view of the subject myself. Fraeulein’s round placid face and excellent appetite showed no signs of suffering, and her constant plea of a bad headache was only received with any credulity by Aunt Philippa herself; neither Sara nor I had much respect for Fraeulein Sonnenschein, with her thick little figure, and big head covered with flimsy flaxen plaits. We were both aware of the smooth selfishness of her character, though Sara chose to ignore it for Jill’s benefit. She was industrious, painstaking, and capable of a great deal of dull routine in the way of duties, but she was far too fond of her own comfort, and all the affection of which she was capable was lavished upon her own relatives; she had cared for Sara moderately, but her other pupil, Jill, was a thorn in her side. So I passed over Fraeulein’s headache without comment, and took Jill to task somewhat sharply for the comfortless state of the room. A good scolding would rouse her from her dejection; the blinds were up and the curtains undrawn; the remains of a meal, the usual five-o’clock schoolroom tea, were still on the table. Jill’s German books were heaped up beside her empty cup and the glass dish that contained marmalade; the kettle spluttered and hissed in the blaze; Jill’s little black kitten, Sooty, was dragging a half-knitted stocking across the rug.
‘I forgot to ring for Martha,’ faltered Jill; ’she will come presently. Don’t be cross, Ursula. I like the room as it is; it is deliciously untidy, just like Cinderella’s kitchen; but there is no hope of the fairy godmother; and you are going away, and I shall be ten times more miserable.’
It was this that was troubling her, then; for I had told her my plans and all about my letter to Uncle Max. Perhaps she had heard his voice in the hall, for Jill’s pretty little ears heard everything that went on in the house: she admitted her knowledge at once when I taxed her with it.