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A HEAD BY HELLEU.
i Up in her room, which she occupied in common with Wilhelmina, she placed the picture on her commode which stood against the wall between the two beds. Her sewing box,--a shell, in which she kept her thimble, a needle case of red satin, a carved watch case, without any watch, and her own photograph in wooden frame with some dried flowers pasted on it-she pushed aside. The white frame pleased her very much. But the picture_she tried to examine it. Which was the top and which the bottom she now knew. She also was able to tell which was the face, the head a little inclined, and an arm and a book, and quite a way below on the leaf two hạnds, which did not entirely belong there. She looked at it and shook her own blond head and took the photograph opposite. The expressionless, ordinary portrait in the Sunday dress with the gold confirmation brooch-that pleased her better. And
now she placed the little looking glass on the window and compared herself with both and smiled. So entirely smooth and holiday-like as the photograph she was not. But still--so homely as the Parisian young lady with the loosened hair she certainly could not see that she was. One scarcely knew whether the person there had on a dress or not. How could Hubert see any resemblance and the Frau Doctor also right away? She could discover none. And she was right glad that she could not. Hang the picture up, as the lady had advised? So that Wilhelmina could criticise it every morning and evening --no, no indeed! But she would write
to him. Since the Frau Doctor had said it was like her she understood better how it was meant-he thought of her in everything, as he had told her before that he would do-even in the wonderful strokes there on the leaf. He loved her. This the Frau Doctor had also discovered. And she loved him. She took the picture in the white frame and kissed it. No matter what it was, so long as it came from him. She would not have been more glad of a hat, she said to herself. What he gave her and might give her, was good and lovely. What had he not already done for her! The young creature thought of every walk with him, of the matinee at the theatre, of the costly restaurant, in which she had placed her feet shyly enough, and of the good things to eat to which she was so unaccustomed. And then she thought how he had remained with her alone, even till late in the night, and at parting had taken her hand in his and kissed her finger tips. She was grateful to him for that. She would willingly have held up her lips to him, her whole face. But it flattered her that he did not wish this, because he considered her beautiful, distinguished. That he had not given much to her, as a bridegroom generally gave his girl, no brooch-the old one from her confirmation she had long ago given to her little sister Lina-and no good woollen dress, that was also because he was so different from others, so entirely himself. Often she did not understand him entirely. As, when he admired her simple dress, praising her that she needed no arts of the toilette. And still less, when he had once said, that when she became his wife, she must always dress in plain, softly tinted colors, black and gray, and in summer nothing
* Translated for The Living Age by Adene Williams.
but white with a little lilac. She had secretly wished that for once she might have a blue dress, a real beautiful blue, of good wool, which would stay good a long time and that could be cleaned and when necessary turned. But certainly, when she was his wife, her dresses would not need to last so long. Then she would take one and give it away immediately when it did not please her and have a made, as the Frau Doctor did. And she knew already to whom she would give it: to Lina, her little Lina, who should certainly have the first one that he gave her. She wanted to laugh from pleasure, as she imagined how the child would rejoice. And she took the picture again and kissed it several times; “Oh, thou, thou!" As his wife she would be a real lady and could sleep in the mornings as long as she wished, her maid would make the fire and cook the coffee, and make the beds and sweep the floor and wipe off the dust, and she-what would she do? What all the ladies did, look at beauti. ful pictures, read, take walks-and nothing else. And Sundays go to the theatre. And always with him! If he was only here now, her Hubert, Hubert Ehren. Doctor Ehren and-Frau Doctorin!"
She was frightened at herself, lest some one should have overheard the words that she had spoken out loud. And then she heard steps on the stairs, Wilhelmina's steps, and she hurriedly opened the drawer of the commode and shoved the picture in the white frame in between her two dresses and pushed the drawer to and locked it. She breathed more easily as Wilhelmina came and asked her in a vexed tone whether she had forgotten that it was Sunday evening, and all the table silver still lay in the drawing room
on the window seat, and that Frau Doctor who formerly never came down, and who was so short sighted that she gen
erally saw nothing, had come down and noticed the disorder and bad scolded her, Wilhelmina, and said that she must put it away at once, that it might be stolen.
“That did not please me. And I said that it was Lisbeth's work, and she said: Ah, indeed? and went out quickly and said nothing more. Now I want to know once why she scolds me and not you."
Lisbeth ran, nay, flew, down the steps and to her work. That she had just promised to go through the house in a moderate way, she had entirely forgotten.
So it was evening before she was able to write the necessary letter of thanks. It was late, the masters had company, Wilhelmina had laid herself on the bed to get a little sleep, and Lis. beth sat in the warm kitchen at the table near the cook Wea, who knitted diligently, only stopping from time to time, when a row was finished, to put her needle behind her ear and look at the girl through the great, round spectacles.
“So," said the latter at last, "so, that is finished."
"A hard work,” remarked Wea, "if he only were not a Herr Doctor, almost like ours, then he would not have sent you the picture and you would not need to do that."
"No," said Lisbeth, "then I need not do it." She propped both elbows on the table, laid her head in the empty hands and stared silently for a while at the light of the petroleum lamp"but,”—and she again raised her head high, “then everything would be different, and I don't want that."
"No," remarked Wea, comfortably knitting, "for it is good so. But I wonder when you become a real madame, whether you will like it."
Lisbeth laughed. “I also wonder," she cried as she went out of the kitchen to the old woman, and waved her let. ter joyfully. But outside in the half darkness she sighed to herself. It was all so strange that everybody did not think altogether well of it. First the Frau Doctor and now Wea, they all acted as if they thought these two could never come together happily. And he was always so confident! She went out of the house to the nearest letter box and put her letter in it.
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 trife, 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
in 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? Does she 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. And 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 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. She 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? Do 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. Yes, 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 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
helmina cannot contradict them. Do you also think so?”.
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