General de Riedesel, who had gone before his wife with the first detachment, that he might arrange a home in advance, had rented “Colle,” the large house of Philip Mazzei, close to the log barracks. Madame de Riedesel was therefore at once in possession of comfortable quarters, and upon hearing from Janice how they were living, she offered her a home with them.
“Come to us, liebling,” she begged. “Ze children zay lofe you so zat almost jealous I am; alreaty my goot husband he says ze Mees Meredeez ees charmant, and I—ah, I neet not tell it, for it tells itself.”
“If it were right I would, Frederica, and I cannot thank you enough for wanting me; but ever since mommy had the fever she has not been really strong, and both she and dadda need me. Perhaps though, if you and the children—whom I dearly love—truly like me, you will help me in another way?”
“I heard you complaining to Baron de Riedesel yesterday of not being able to get a nurse. Will you not give me the place, and let my pay be for us all to live in your garret? We will make as little trouble—”
“Ach! Why deet I not it think before?” cried the baroness, boxing her own ear. “Cochon! Brute! You come, ma pauvre! Mais not as bonne, non, non.”
“Indeed, Frederica, ’t is the only way that we can. We could not live upon you without in some way making a return, and the paper money with which we furnished ourselves has gone on falling till now ’t is worth but a threepence in the pound, so that we could not hope to pay for—”
“Bah! Who asks? You come as our guests; when you had ze plenty of milk and eggs you shared it weez us, and so now we share our plenty weez you. You, a proud girl, to be a nurse, indeet!”
“’T is that pride which asks it, my dear. Ah, if you only would let me! Mommy suffers so with the cold, and has such a frightful cough, that every day I fear to see it become a pneumonia, and—”
“Stop! I was ze wrong. Come as you please, a l’instant. Ah, ze leettle ones, zay will go craze for joy; ze baron he will geef no more eyes to ze wife who is losing her shape, and all ze officairs, zay will say, ‘Gott! How I lofe children!’ Mais, I will not angree be, but kiss you so, and so, and so. And to all will I say, ’Voila, deet efer woman haf such a frent for herself and such a second mutter for her children?’”
The removal to Colle was made the same day, and Janice assumed her new charge. It was, as it proved, not a very onerous one, for the children were well mannered for their years, and, young as they were, in the German method they were kept pretty steadily at tasks, while an old servant of the general, a German Yager, was only too delighted at any time to assume care of them. Janice herself slept in the nursery, and at first Mr. and Mrs. Meredith were given, as suggested, accommodation in the garret. But the baron, not content with the space at his command, as soon as the weather permitted, had built a large dining-room and salon, separate from the house, and this supplied so much more space that the parents were given a good room on a lower floor.