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CHAPTER FOURTH A TERRIBLE NIGHT
On the following day, about the time when Frau Feland had to take her usual rest, Fr?ulein Hohlweg came with her big basket to a lovely, shady spot near the house, to spend the pleasant hour knitting and reading. Ella sat quietly on her mossy seat, and Rita stood in front of her, telling with great enthusiasm about a bush in the woods, with flaming red flowers, which shone far away through the trees. Her eyes grew bigger and brighter every moment, for the more she talked about it the more plainly she saw it all before her, and it seemed as if she was already on the path in the midst of the woods.

Fr?ulein Hohlweg put aside her big basket and said:

"Sit down now, Rita, and be quiet. I have something lovely to read to you."

But Rita was so full of her flowers and the woods, and all the things she saw before her eyes, that the command was forgotten.

"I must go right away to Papa. I have so much to tell him!" protested Rita, and ran to the house. It was the same thing that happened every day. Rita always thought of something very important to tell her papa, when she should have been sitting down. To-day she had something even more urgent than usual. When a long time had passed and the child did not return, Fr?ulein Hohlweg became uneasy and said:

"Go in quickly, Ella, and call Rita, so that she will not wake Mamma. Papa must have gone already, for he said at the table that he was going for a long walk."

Ella ran in, but did not come back for so long that Fr?ulein Hohlweg went in too. It was perfectly still in the house. No one was in the living-room, no one in the kitchen! Fr?ulein went up the little staircase and softly opened the door of the children's room. No one was there! Through the open door she could see into the parents' room. Frau Feland was lying with closed eyes on her bed; she was alone in the room.

Fr?ulein Hohlweg came out again. Then Ella came up from below and told her she had searched for Rita in the whole house, in every corner, at last even in the yard back of the wood and in the little room belonging to Kaspar's wife, but Rita was nowhere to be found.

Fr?ulein ran down the stairs to the shed; there she got some information. Kaspar's wife was standing inside spreading the straw for the goats. When questioned about little Rita, she replied only that she had seen the child come into the house not long before. But where could Rita have gone afterwards? Fr?ulein Hohlweg and Ella began to search through the whole house once more, then all around it in every nook and corner. Kaspar's wife helped willingly for she saw that Fr?ulein felt a real anxiety; but nowhere was there any trace of the child to be seen. Kaspar's wife ran over to the neighbor's house, perhaps they had seen Rita, but no one was there, the door was closed, everything still. Then it came to the woman's mind that Martin was making hay to-day, high up on the rocks, and that the whole household had gone with him. She came back with this information. Fr?ulein Hohlweg was usually of a timid nature, and now she became more and more uneasy.

"Oh, if I had only gone after the child right away!" she exclaimed regretfully a hundred times, but this was of no use. What was to be done? Where should they look for Rita? Could she, perhaps, have gone after the people up to the rocks, with the little boy, with whom she had been seen the day before? The more she thought about this the more likely it seemed to her. If only there was someone to send up there immediately, she thought, before her mother had to be told about the matter.

The obliging woman offered to do this and to came back again as soon as possible, but it was a long and toilsome way; it would take more time than one would think from looking up there.

Fr?ulein Hohlweg promised her a handsome reward if she would only go and prevent Frau Feland from being frightened, and she was very hopeful that she would surely bring Rita back home with her. But the way was farther than Fr?ulein had thought, and long before the messenger could return Frau Feland came down from her room and wished to take a walk with the children. Then everything had to be told her.

At the first great shock the mother wanted to go out herself at once, to look for the child and see where she could be, but Fr?ulein was so sure that Rita must have run off with the little boy that Frau Feland calmed herself and decided to wait for the return of Kaspar's wife. She really didn't have a peaceful moment. She ran from one window to the other then back to the door, and then around the house. The time seemed so long to her,—so long!

At last, after two weary hours, the ............
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