“Poor child,” thought the little mother, regretfully; “he is all in rags—I wish I had some money!” with a patient sigh.
“There, mamma, we told you so! It’ll stand by the window in the corner of the sitting-room,” two excited voices cried, and the next moment the sitting-room was invaded by two small figures who looked at the empty corner by the window with delicious expectancy; and so the day went slowly by.
In another room the little mother looked at her husband wistfully. “Karl,” she began, timidly, “have you really prepared a surprise for the children? You won’t disappoint them?”
“Betty, don’t say a word! Wait! Did I ever disappoint you?”
Betty turned away with a half-suppressed sigh, while papa Karl strode up and down the room grandly, virtuously, with a good deal of injured innocence in his face.
The great day had come. Hannah and Liseke hadn’t slept a wink all night.
Mitz and family had come purring into the room in the early morning, as usual, but had been shamefully neglected. All six sat in a row by the bedside, watching indignantly the two heads peeping out from the feathers.
“To-day!” Hannah sighed rapturously.
How they got into their clothes, they never knew.
As for eating! why, they couldn’t touch the delicious rolls, the glasses of milk, even that delicious preserve, “Apfel-kraut.”
Max alone was himself, and, in his injured way, managed to eat enough for three. Yet, he was not satisfied; at the age of eight life had few attractions left for him.
Who could believe that a September day would be so long? Or that the old clock in the hall would go so ridiculously slow? There was a quiet jocularity in the motion of its long pendulum, as if it were laughing bitterly that anyone could be in a hurry. “Ha! ha! ha!” ticked the clock.
“Oh, dear!” Hannah said with a sigh, “will it never be three?”
How they kept their ears open to hear a crowd of men come stumbling up the stone steps with the weight of the piano!
“Perhaps it is already here,” Liseke said, faintly.
“Perhaps it’s coming,” Hannah suggested, hopefully.
“One—two—three—,” the clock struck.
“Come, mamma!” the children cried; and so they opened the sitting-room door with trembling hands.
Nobody there; nothing there. Mamma sat down in a corner and began knitting, while the children looked out of the window into the narrow street to see a wagon drive up to the house.
“Perhaps they’ve forgotten all about it,” Liseke was saying tremulously, when the sitting-room door burst open and there stood Max and behind him, papa Karl.
“Oh, Max, Max, where’s the surprise?” the children implored.
“Why, don’t you see!” Max cried, mightily injured, and turning himself about disclosed his small person arrayed in a new velveteen suit brilliant with brass buttons.