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Mrs. Dr. Ross had a great deal to do during the succeeding days; Lisbeth scarcely saw her; it seemed as though, when the lady had formerly called for her house maid for every trifle, that now she would not have her at all. It was not until the following Sunday evening, when the other maid had gone out and the lady and gentleman of the house had not concluded until late to go to the theatre, that Lisbeth was called to help the young woman to dress.
"Well, have you received any more presents and letters from Paris?" she asked, as Lisbeth kneeled before her, fastening her boots.
"Yes, a letter again yesterday." "And what does Hubert Ehren write to you?"
"I don't know, Frau Doctor, I haven't read it yet."
"What! Not read it? A letter which you received yesterday!"
"I have had no time. Yesterday evening we had company, and it was too late. And when I went up stairs, I was too tired-"
"And to-day? This whole long day!" "Frau Doctor, first I had to clean the silver. And then I had to put the parlor to rights. And then clear up for Wilhelmina. And his letters are always very long, always four, five whole sheets. I was just about to read it, when Frau Doctor rang. Will Frau Doctor have the black lace or the white?" she asked, as the boots were buttoned and she rose from her knees while the lady still sat there, her head
her hands, and looked at her thoughtfully.
"The black," said Frau Hertha, and then she rose and went to the mirror to have this put on. While Lisbeth was arranging the lace on her hair she turned her head around suddenly.
"Well, and you? Do you also write four sheets?"
"Why should I? I have not so much to tell. Four pages at the most, and not that this time."
"Why not this time?"
"But, Frau Doctor, he is coming again next Sunday."
"So, next Sunday? Because you are at liberty then?"
"Yes, Frau Doctor."
The lady stood in her cloak and lace ready to go to the theatre. "What a singular world it is," she said, half aloud. "One pours out his deepest heart in long letters and she who receives them has not even a desire to read the letters. It is always the way: L'un que embrasse, et l'autre que tend la joue. And others again stand without at a distance and long-"
"Are you ready?" said the doctor at the door.
"Yes, I am coming"-The young lady took the embroidered bag with the opera glass and her fan from Lisbeth's hands and went out to her husband.
The girl, as soon as Mrs. Ross had gone, ran up to her room, lit the lamp and sat down on the edge of the bed and read. But even in the middle of the letter she suddenly let the letter fall. "What does she want?
think that I am not good enough for him? If I only please him! And I do please him!" She went to her commode and took the picture out, which she had not looked at again since she first received it. Again she had to turn it round and round, until she could see the head correctly. And then she laid it down quickly. She did not at all understand that it was beautiful and just
as little that it resembled herself. And she also understood very little of the letter. It was indeed nice that he should write to her such long and full letters every day. But the lamp burned so bad. And this evening she was late in getting to bed. The writing was also so fine and so close together. Before she was ready her eyes closed. When Wilhelmina came up a couple of hours later, she saw the young housemaid still in her red dress fast asleep on the bed and around her blond head with the little cap the sheets of the letter lay scattered on the blue-white pillow.
During the whole week Lisbeth rejoiced at the Sunday to come. She sewed during every free minute on the dress that the Frau Doctorin had given her a short time ago, and which, with Wilhelmina's help she was making up after the latest fashion. now it was Sunday and the beautiful, bright New Year's dress was all ready and it rained and stormed so that she could not wear it.
Promptly at one o'clock Hubert Ehren under his umbrella walked up and down the street. From time to time he looked up at Dr. Ross's house. Once he thought he saw the curtain move in a window of the first story. The quick rush of blood made his heart begin to knock softly. But as he looked up sharply, the lace hung smooth and unwrinkled again, nothing moved and she did not come. Then he went a little further on. His restlessness had misled him. But still that something in him knocked-She must have received his letter yesterday, telling her that he would wait here. would not play him a trick. Ladies of the world and of distinguished appearance might perhaps do this, but not she, certainly not she. As he walked back and forth in the rain before her house like a sentinel and again back and forth, there sprang up in his heart
a feeling of happiness, a wild unreasoning exultation that she was as she was. He felt so secure of himself and of her. He was so certain, he who had formerly so often vacillated helplessly, a security strong as the rocks, a trust so that he had not the least impatience. If that which was within still knocked, it was only his nerves; he would not listen to them. He would and must believe in her. For in her was his cure. He thought of her, of the sweet peace which her nearness would bring him. And he felt himself strong. Neither gusts of rain or wind could disturb. She would certainly come!
And he was right, there she was. Quickly and nimbly Lisbeth came down the two steps of the house, through the front yard-the gravel scarcely crunched, so light was her step and straight across the street to him:
"Here I am!"
And she put her hand in his arm and his umbrella covered them both and they went on.
"Thou, how it rains!"
He only bowed, pressing her hand closer to him. He could not have spoken for the world.
"I kept you waiting a long time. How glad I am that you did not go away! It just seemed as if Frau Doctor had made up her mind that I should not get away. And that I should clean and sew and always something else. And she knew very well that it was my Sunday out to-day, and that I had beside asked extra for permission. Even at the last minute as I came out of the room she asked me after my betrothed, and what he wrote to me and what I wrote to him. If I only had never told her anything about it. What is it to her?"
He smiled. He really heard nothing of her chatter, he heard only the sound of her voice and he looked at her. The dark eyes in the small face, the way
in which she held her head, the slender grace which always reminded him of a young fawn-no, the sketch by Helleu which he had discovered in Goupil's windows on the Avenue de l'Opera with such ecstasy because it had not only her features, but even the expression, the childish incompleteness and yet decision, self-determination, now appeared to him as he remembered it, crude and stiff in comparison with the real Lisbeth, as she hung on his arm walking beside him under the umbrella in the rain.
"Thou," she said again, and gave him a little push with her elbows. "What is the matter with you to-day? Why do you look at me so earnestly? you find it bad also, that I am so un. cultured? Frau Doctor said that. She asked me whether I did not wish to learn something, French or the history of art, as she said. So that I would be a little better suited to you. she meant well, but when should I do that? In the evenings I am too tired. And between dish washing and silver cleaning, my brain is not fit for that. I would have been glad of this when I first came out of school. But now to take up study again, no really, I have no desire. Then I should at least speak correctly, she thinks. And in everything that I say she corrects me. She is indeed very nice and I thank her always. But-Thou, Hubert, I am no longer a child. And I know myself through and through. And indeed I do not speak Platt as Wea and the coachman Hinrich do. And-Thou, what think'st thou?"
"Speak some more," he said half aloud, "Go on. You have such a gentle voice, it falls quieting upon my nerves like balsam and like the spring wind."
"What things you always think! But, Hubert, tell me once, but truly, quite truly. Those in the kitchen always say that I look like a real lady. Even Wil
He shook his head. "You look just like yourself, that is better."
"I what? That means nothing. I must know whether you really now, since you have been in Paris-"
"You know well enough that on that first evening I took you for a young lady, that you had ventured, as a stroke of genius, to go out alone in the dark, and that I was afraid that your parents would reprove you for it."
"Yes, that is true, but tell me once, in earnest, when you saw me for the first time in my cotton dress and in the cap "
"Leave all that, Lisbeth, I love you just as you are. Here in the rain on the street, in your narrow dark dress with the little felt hat. And in a ball room. And in a hut. And wherever you may be and wherever I may be. You yourself, as you come and as you go, and as you raise your head, and as you blush, as you now turn yourself, as you laugh and as you weep. I love you! How could it be otherwise? What do I know of anything else, that you should ask about it?"
She nodded earnestly. "Really that is enough," she said and went a couple of steps without speaking, beside him. Close to his arm she leaned, while the rain pattered on the umbrella. "Hubert, where are you going? I don't know this street at all. You must be lost."
He shook his head and went on.
"Tell me now, where are you steering. You didn't write me a single word about what we should do to-day. The weather is really too bad, now on my Sunday. Will we go to the theatre?"
"Perhaps this evening. But not to the matinee; now we are going to my mother."
"To your mother? Hubert! So suddenly. And she knows everything? And she is willing and will see me! Ah, that is fine. But why didn't you tell
me, why didn't you write me about it? I would have dressed differently, this old, faded dress! I would have-"
He suddenly stopped in all the rain, and so that he protected her with the umbrella, his arms outstretched, but not beside her, but in front of her, eye to eye.
"Listen to me, Lisbeth. It makes no difference what kind of a dress you wear, you are my bride. Be yourself and you will please her. And if you should not please her-it is all the same to me; for you please me, do you understand that? Me. I will try to explain this to you so that you may know exactly and have no more doubts about it. I am nearly thirty years old, ten years older than you. I am alone in the world, alone, although my mother is still living. It is my way. Once, more than ten years ago, I had an illusion about a woman who made me mad-how that happened, I will tell you later. I do not know her present name and scarcely remember her face. But this first illusion clouded my mind, embittered me. A second, I know well, I could not live through. And I meant never to love again—until I found you! But I did not trust myself this time and went to Paris in order to prove myself. And to-day I have returned at the appointed hour, to meet you here. Do you understand me now?"
"Ah, but it is raining so, I am getting all wet," she said, plaintively.
He had to laugh. He took her hand again in his arm and they went forward quickly. Why should he tell all this to her, how for years he had ' looked upon all women as a foreign, hostile race. Even the one whom he had once loved was miles away from him. For every one, even his mother, all seemed to have their way for themselves, which was not his way, their thoughts, which were not his thoughts, their decided ideas of the world which
he had not impressed upon them. Only one, so had he often thought to himself, only one would entirely understand him, feel with him, think with him, if he could only find her, a womanly being, who would conform to him, who would receive only so much of knowledge and of art as he would give her.
But as he walked beside Lisbeth silently in the rain, the old wish sunk from sight. He thought no more about moulding her for himself. Still, he said to himself, I will not say too much to her, will not waken her out of the half sleep of consciousness, will leave her to time. Wherefore wish to perplex and mould her, when it is this infinite nerve-resting peace which is so pleasant in her, that she might understand either the complex, tumultuous world or even himself entirely.
"Thou!" said the sweet, young voice near his shoulder, "do you know that your overcoat smells good, even in all the rain. It is so nice. It must be that that suits me, that my bridegroom is such a gentleman!"
"Is that why you love me?"
"Yes, that also. And in general—” and she drew closer to him. "Thou! But it is really getting too vexing. How it pours. Are we not almost there? Where does your mother live?" "Immediately; just around the
They turned, as he spoke, into a street whose houses all looked out on to the water. The wind blew so fiercely here that they could not talk while walking, and it was all that they could do to keep the umbrella up over them. And as he stepped into a house the storm blew the door from his hands and slammed to, and Lisbeth screamed out from terror. He had closed the dripping umbrella, and he took off his hat, shook back his hair and turned his melancholy eyes on the laughing face of the girl.
"What ails you?" she asked.
"You," he answered. "I have done without you for four weeks"-and he seized her by both shoulders and turned her head to him and kissed her. He had never before kissed her like this or grasped her. She wanted to stop him. There in the vestibule, in the half darkness, behind the ground glass of the door, he held her fast and it seemed as if he could not kiss her enough, on her lips and cheeks, her hair and her neck. When he let her go at last, there were tears in her eyes. "But, Hubert!" she said. She trembled and held his hand and caressed it. "My Hubert," she whispered softly, "I love you too."
"Yes," he asked, "really?" and laughed as one does to a child when he cannot explain to it just how he feels. He took her by the hand and they went up the steps. But he stopped at the first story:
"I have told my mother nothing further than that I would come to-day
with my betrothed. For years it has been her wish to see me married. But she has prejudices, is old fashioned, narrow, if you will. If she sees you before she has heard much of you, she can at least have no preconceived ideas and you will win her love as you are. Therefore-in general, sweet Lisbeth, I considered it for the best, and so it will, I think, also seem so to you. Then he touched the bell.
"Is the Frau Geheimrath at home?" he asked of the old servant, who opened the door, at the same time giving her his hat and overcoat. The question was quite superfluous. His mother seldom went out, and certainly not in the rain and never on Sunday. And as he had written from Paris that he would be there at two oclock with his bride, the old Grethe knew very well, but she murmured something in reply and went before them through the dark hall and opened the door to the room. "Frau Geheimrath, there they are!" Adalbert Meinhardt.
(To be continued.)
A LOVE LYRIC FROM THE GREEK.
THE FIRST KISS.
At the hour the long day ends, when our friends we bid goodnight,
Mæris kissed me, if, ah! me, it was she and not her sprite.
All she told me and besought, when I thought she kissed me too.
But when, golden link on link, I would think remembrance
Now I'm sure she kissed me then, now again I'm sore in doubt,
Since if into Paradise in such wise I e'er was borne,
How is this that here below still I go with steps forlorn?
A. P. G.