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- A Word Only A Word, Volume 4. - 10/10 -


last two rows, she rested her chin on the cards in her hands and, trying to meet his glance, asked:

"How shall we begin? Do you still remember your childhood?"

"Certainly."

"Your father?"

"I have not seen him for a long time. Don't the cards tell you, that he is dead?"

"Dead, dead:--of course he's dead. You had a mother too?"

"Yes, yes," he answered impatiently; for he was unwilling to talk with this woman about his mother.

She shrank back a little, and said sadly: "That sounds very harsh. Do you no longer like to think of your mother?"

"What is that to you?"

"I must know."

"No, what concerns my mother is....I will--is too good for juggling."

"Oh," she said, looking at him with a glance from which he shrank. Then she silently laid down the last cards, and asked: "Do you want to hear anything about a sweetheart?"

"I have none. But how you look at me! Have you grown tired of Zorrillo? I am ill-suited for a gallant."

She shuddered slightly. Her bright face had again grown old, so old and weary that he pitied her. But she soon regained her composure, and continued:

"What are you saying? Ask the questions yourself now, if you please."

"Where is my native place?"

"A wooded, mountainous region in Germany."

"Ah, ha! and what do you know of my father?"

"You look like him, there is an astonishing resemblance in the forehead and eyes; his voice, too, was exactly like yours."

"A chip of the old block."

"Well, well. I see Adam before me...."

"Adam?" asked Ulrich, and the blood left his cheeks.

"Yes, his name was Adam," she continued more boldly, with increasing vivacity: "there he stands. He wears a smith's apron, a small leather cap rests on his fair hair. Auriculas and balsams stand in the bow- window. A roan horse is being shod in the market-place below."

The soldier's head swam, the happiest period of his childhood, which he had not recalled for a long time, again rose before his memory; he saw his father stand before him, and the woman, the sibyl yonder, had the eyes and mouth, not of his mother, but of the Madonna he had destroyed with his maul-stick. Scarcely able to control himself, he grasped her hand, pressing it violently, and asked in German:

"What is my name? And what did my mother call me?"

She lowered her eyes as if in shame, and whispered softly in German: "Ulrich, Ulrich, my darling, my little boy, my lamb, Ulrich--my child! Condemn me, desert me, curse me, but call me once more "my mother."

"My mother," he said gently, covering his face with his hands--but she started up, hurried back to the pale baby in the cradle, and pressing her face upon the little one's breast, moaned and wept bitterly.

Meantime, Zorrillo had not averted his eyes from Navarrete and his companion. What could have passed between the two, what ailed the man?

Rising slowly, he approached the basket before which the sibyl was kneeling, and asked anxiously: "What was it, Flora?"

She pressed her face closer to the weeping child, that he might not see her tears, and answered quickly "I predicted things, things....go, I will tell you about it later."

He was satisfied with this answer, but she was now obliged to join the Spaniards, and Ulrich took leave of her with a silent salutation.


A Word Only A Word, Volume 4. - 10/10

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