Between morning and noon Mary was sitting on a low cane seat under the sycamores which yesterday had shaded Katharina’s brief young happiness; by her side was her governess Eudoxia, under whose superintendence she was writing out the Ten Commandments from a Greek catechism.
The teacher had been lulled to sleep by the increasing heat and the pervading scent of flowers, and her pupil had ceased to write. Her eyes, red with tears, were fixed on the shells with which the path was strewn, and she was using her long ruler, at first to stir them about, and then to write the words: “Paula,” and “Paula, Mary’s darling,” in large capital letters. Now and again a butterfly, following the motion of the rod, brought a smile to her pretty little face from which the dark spirit “Trouble” had not wholly succeeded in banishing gladness. Still, her heart was heavy. Everything around her, in the garden and in the house, was still; for her grandfather’s state had become seriously worse at sunrise, and every sound must be hushed. Mary was thinking of the poor sufferer: what pain he had to bear, and how the parting from Paula would grieve him, when Katharina came towards her down the path.
The young girl did little credit to-day to her nickname of “the water-wagtail;” her little feet shuffled through the shelly gravel, her head hung wearily, and when one of the myriad insects, that were busy in the morning sunshine, came within her reach she beat it away angrily with her fan. As she came up to Mary she greeted her with the usual “All hail!” but the child only nodded in response, and half turning her back went on with her inscription.
Katharina, however, paid no heed to this cool reception, but said in sympathetic tones:
“Your poor grandfather is not so well, I hear?” Mary shrugged her shoulders.
“They say he is very dangerously ill. I saw Philippus himself.”
“Indeed?” said Mary without looking up, and she went on writing.
“Orion is with him,” Katharina went on. “And Paula is really going away?”
The child nodded dumbly, and her eyes again filled with tears.
Katharina now observed how sad the little girl was looking, and that she intentionally refused to answer her. At any other time she would not have troubled herself about this, but to-day this taciturnity provoked her, nay it really worried her; she stood straight in front of Mary, who was still indefatigably busy with the ruler, and said loudly and with some irritation:
“I have fallen into disgrace with you, it would seem, since yesterday. Every one to his liking; but I will not put up with such bad manners, I can tell you!”
The last words were spoken loud enough to wake Eudoxia, who heard them, and drawing herself up with dignity she said severely:
“Is that the way to behave to a kind and welcome visitor, Mary?”