Elizabeth and Her German Garden Part 6

"Yes--Minora--imagine it!"

We stood and looked at each other with awestruck faces.

"How dreadful!" murmured Irais. "I never met a young girl who did that before."

"She says this place is full of copy." "Full of what?"

"That's what you make books with."

"Oh, my dear, this is worse than I expected! A strange girl is always a bore among good friends, but one can generally manage her. But a girl who writes books--why, it isn't respectable! And you can't snub that sort of people; they're unsnubbable."

"Oh, but we'll try!" I cried, with such heartiness that we both laughed.

The hall and the library struck Minora most; indeed, she lingered so long after dinner in the hall, which is cold, that the Man of Wrath put on his fur coat by way of a gentle hint. His hints are always gentle.

She wanted to hear the whole story about the chapel and the nuns and Gustavus Adolphus, and pulling out a fat note-book began to take down what I said. I at once relapsed into silence.

"Well?" she said.

"That's all."

"Oh, but you've only just begun."

"It doesn't go any further. Won't you come into the library?"

In the library she again took up her stand before the fire and warmed herself, and we sat in a row and were cold. She has a wonderfully good profile, which is irritating. The wind, however, is tempered to the shorn lamb by her eyes being set too closely together.

Irais lit a cigarette, and leaning back in her chair, contemplated her critically beneath her long eyelashes. "You are writing a book?" she asked presently.

"Well--yes, I suppose I may say that I am. Just my impressions, you know, of your country. Anything that strikes me as curious or amusing--I jot it down, and when I have time shall work it up into something, I daresay."

"Are you not studying painting?"

"Yes, but I can't study that for ever. We have an English proverb: 'Life is short and Art is long'--too long, I sometimes think--and writing is a great relaxation when I am tired."

"What shall you call it?"

"Oh, I thought of calling it Journeyings in Germany. It sounds well, and would be correct. Or Jottings from German Journeyings,--I haven't quite decided yet which."

"By the author of Prowls in Pomerania, you might add," suggested Irais.

"And Drivel from Dresden," said I.

"And Bosh from Berlin," added Irais.

Minora stared. "I don't think those two last ones would do," she said, "because it is not to be a facetious book. But your first one is rather a good title," she added, looking at Irais and drawing out her note-book. "I think I'll just jot that down."

"If you jot down all we say and then publish it, will it still be your book?" asked Irais.

But Minora was so busy scribbling that she did not hear.

"And have you no suggestions to make, Sage?" asked Irais, turning to the Man of Wrath, who was blowing out clouds of smoke in silence.

"Oh, do you call him Sage?" cried Minora; "and always in English?"

Irais and I looked at each other. We knew what we did call him, and were afraid Minora would in time ferret it out and enter it in her note-book.

The Man of Wrath looked none too well pleased to be alluded to under his very nose by our new guest as "him."

"Husbands are always sages," said I gravely.

"Though sages are not always husbands," said Irais with equal gravity.

"Sages and husbands--sage and husbands--" she went on musingly, "what does that remind you of, Miss Minora?"

"Oh, I know,--how stupid of me!" cried Minora eagerly, her pencil in mid-air and her brain clutching at the elusive recollection, "sage and,--why,--yes,--no,--yes, of course--oh," disappointedly, "but that's vulgar--I can't put it in."

"What is vulgar?" I asked.

"She thinks sage and onions is vulgar," said Irais languidly; "but it isn't, it is very good." She got up and walked to the piano, and, sitting down, began, after a little wandering over the keys, to sing.

"Do you play?" I asked Minora.

"Yes, but I am afraid I am rather out of practice."

I said no more. I know what that sort of playing is.

When we were lighting our bedroom candles Minora began suddenly to speak in an unknown tongue. We stared. "What is the matter with her?"

murmured Irais.

"I thought, perhaps," said Minora in English, "you might prefer to talk German, and as it is all the same to me what I talk--" "Oh, pray don't trouble," said Irais. "We like airing our English--don't we, Elizabeth?"

"I don't want my German to get rusty though," said Minora; "I shouldn't like to forget it."

"Oh, but isn't there an English song," said Irais, twisting round her neck as she preceded us upstairs, ""Tis folly to remember, 'tis wisdom to forget'?"

"You are not nervous sleeping alone, I hope," I said hastily.

"What room is she in?" asked Irais.

"No. 12."

"Oh!--do you believe in ghosts?"

Minora turned pale.

"What nonsense," said I; "we have no ghosts here. Good-night. If you want anything, mind you ring."

"And if you see anything curious in that room," called Irais from her bedroom door, "mind you jot it down."

Chapter end

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