“What’s failure or success to me?
I have subdued my life to the one purpose.”
Eugen sent a telegram from Emmerich to Frau Mittendorf to reassure her as to my safety. At four in the afternoon we left that town, refreshed and rehatted, to reach Elberthal at six.
I told Eugen that we were going away the next day to stay a short time at a place called Lahnburg.
He started and looked at me.
“Lahnburg!—I—when you are there—nein, das ist—You are going to Lahnburg?”
“Yes. Why not?”
“You will know why I ask if you go to Schloss Rothenfels.”
“I say no more, dear May. I will leave you to form your own conclusions. I have seen that this fair head could think wisely and well under trying circumstances enough. I am rather glad that you are going to Lahnburg.”
“The question is—will you still be at Elberthal when I return?”
“I can not say. We had better exchange addresses. I am at Frau Schmidt’s again—my old quarters. I do not know when or how we shall meet again. I must see Friedhelm, and you—when you tell your friends, you will probably be separated at once and completely from me.”
“Well, a year is not much out of our lives. How old are you, Eugen?”
“Thirty-two. And you?”
“Twenty and two months; then you are twelve years older than I. You were a school-boy when I was born. What were you like?”
“A regular little brute, I should suppose, as they all are.”
“When we are married,” said I, “perhaps I may go on with my singing, and earn some more money by it. My voice will be worth something to me then.”
“I thought you had given up art.”
“Perhaps I shall see Adelaide,” I added; “or, rather, I will see her.” I looked at him rather inquiringly. To my relief he said:
“Have you not seen her since her marriage?”
“No; have you?”
“She was my angel nurse when I was lying in hospital at ——. Did you not know that she has the Iron Cross? And no one ever won it more nobly.”
“Adelaide—your nurse—the Iron Cross?” I ejaculated. “Then you have seen her?”
“Seen her shadow to bless it.”
“Do you know where she is now?”
“With her husband at ——. She told me that you were in England, and she gave me this.”
He handed me a yellow, much-worn folded paper, which, on opening, I discovered to be my own letter to Adelaide, written during the war, and which had received so curt an answer.
“I begged very hard for it,” said he, “and only got it with difficulty, but I represented that she might get more of them, whereas I—”
He stopped, for two reasons. I was weeping as I returned it to him, and the train rolled into the Elberthal station.
On my way to Dr. Mittendorf’s, I made up my mind what to do. I should not speak to Stella, nor to any one else of what had happened, but I should write very soon to my parents and tell them the truth. I hoped they would not refuse their consent, but I feared they would. I should certainly not attempt to disobey them while their authority legally bound me, but as soon as I was my own mistress, I should act upon my own judgment. I felt no fear of anything; the one fear of my life—the loss of Eugen—had been removed, and all others dwindled to nothing. My happiness, I am and was well aware, was quite set upon things below; if I lost Eugen I lost everything, for I, like him, and like all those who have been and are dearest to both of us, was a Child of the World.