On The Way
If Fraulein heard what Leonore said, she did not seem surprised, for though she did not, of course, know about the little girl’s curious dream, she knew that Hildegarde’s coming had been freely talked about the evening before. But she was very astonished a moment later when Hildegarde, looking up quietly, said with a smile—
‘I have come to meet you. I was sure I should.’
‘My dear child!’ exclaimed Fraulein. ‘How could you know? The fairies must have told you!’
The little stranger smiled again.
‘This is Leonore,’ she said, taking the other child’s hand. ‘Grandmamma told me her name, but grandmamma did not know I should meet you;’ and she shook her head with a funny little air of mystery.
‘It is wonderful,’ said Fraulein; ‘it is even wonderful that you should know me again. It is five years— five years—since you saw me last—half your life.’
‘Yes,’ said Hildegarde, ‘but I can remember longer ago than that.’
She was still holding Leonore’s hand, and though the little English girl felt rather shy, and had not yet spoken to her new friend, yet she liked the touch of the gentle fingers and pressed them in return, while she looked at Hildegarde’s pretty fair face in admiration.
‘I am coming soon to see Aunt Anna,’ Hildegarde went on. ‘Will you give her my love, Fraulein Elsa, and tell her so? May I come this afternoon?’
‘Certainly, certainly,’ said Fraulein; ‘the sooner you and Leonore make friends, the better pleased we shall all be.’
At this Leonore took courage.
‘Yes,’ she said, looking earnestly at Hildegarde with her serious dark eyes. ‘I want very much to be friends.’
‘It will not take long,’ said Hildegarde, and then, for the first time, Leonore noticed that the little girl’s eyes were not like any she had ever seen before.
They were not blue, as one would have expected from her light, almost flaxen hair and fair complexion, but a kind of bright hazel-brown—with lovely ashes, almost, as it were, of sunshine, coming and going.
‘They are golden eyes,’ thought Leonore; and when she repeated this to Fraulein afterwards, her governess agreed with her that she was right.
‘I remember noticing their colour when she was a very tiny child,’ said Fraulein, thinking to herself that the two little girls made a pretty contrast, for Leonore’s hair was dark, as well as her eyes.
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