Chapter 20: Life for Life
The summer days that followed were full of rest and pleasure for young and old,
as they did the honours of Plumfield to their happy guests. While Franz and Emil
were busy with the affairs of Uncle Hermann and Captain Hardy, Mary and
Ludmilla made friends everywhere; for, though very unlike, both were excellent
and charming girls. Mrs Meg and Daisy found the German bride a Hausfrau after
their own hearts, and had delightful times learning new dishes, hearing about the
semi-yearly washes and the splendid linen-room at Hamburg, or discussing
domestic life in all its branches. Ludmilla not only taught, but learned, many
things, and went home with many new and useful ideas in her blonde head.
Mary had seen so much of the world that she was unusually lively for an English
girl; while her various accomplishments made her a most agreeable companion.
Much good sense gave her ballast; and the late experiences of danger and
happiness added a sweet gravity at times, which contrasted well with her natural
gaiety. Mrs Jo was quite satisfied with Emil's choice, and felt sure this true and
tender pilot would bring him safe to port through fair or stormy weather. She had
feared that Franz would settle down into a comfortable, moneymaking burgher,
and be content with that; but she soon saw that his love of music and his placid
Ludmilla put much poetry into his busy life, and kept it from being too prosaic. So
she felt at rest about these boys, and enjoyed their visit with real, maternal
satisfaction; parting with them in September most regretfully, yet hopefully, as
they sailed away to the new life that lay before them.
Demi's engagement was confided to the immediate family only, as both were
pronounced too young to do anything but love and wait. They were so happy that
time seemed to stand still for them, and after a blissful week they parted bravely--
Alice to home duties, with a hope that sustained and cheered her through many
trials; and John to his business, full of a new ardour which made all things
possible when such a reward was offered.
Daisy rejoiced over them, and was never tired of hearing her brother's plans for
the future. Her own hope soon made her what she used to be--a cheery, busy
creature, with a smile, kind word, and helping hand for all; and as she went
singing about the house again, her mother felt that the right remedy for past
sadness had been found. The dear Pelican still had doubts and fears, but kept
them wisely to herself, preparing sundry searching tests to be applied when Nat
came home, and keeping a sharp eye on the letters from London; for some
mysterious hint had flown across the sea, and Daisy's content seemed reflected
in Nat's present cheerful state of mind.
Having passed through the Werther period, and tried a little Faust-- of which
experience he spoke to his Marguerite as if it had included an acquaintance with
Mephistopheles, Blocksburg, and Auerbach's wine-cellar--he now felt that he was
a Wilhelm Meister, serving his apprenticeship to the great masters of life. As she
knew the truth of his small sins and honest repentance, Daisy only smiled at the
mixture of love and philosophy he sent her, knowing that it was impossible for a
young man to live in Germany without catching the German spirit.