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Song of the Lark

Chapter I.11
One Saturday, late in June, Thea arrived early for her lesson. As she perched
herself upon the piano stool, --a wobbly, old-fashioned thing that worked on a
creaky screw,--she gave Wunsch a side glance, smiling. "You must not be cross
to me to-day. This is my birthday."
"So?" he pointed to the keyboard.
After the lesson they went out to join Mrs. Kohler, who had asked Thea to
come early, so that she could stay and smell the linden bloom. It was one of
those still days of intense light, when every particle of mica in the soil flashed like
a little mirror, and the glare from the plain below seemed more intense than the
rays from above. The sand ridges ran glittering gold out to where the mirage
licked them up, shining and steaming like a lake in the tropics. The sky looked
like blue lava, forever incapable of clouds, --a turquoise bowl that was the lid of
the desert. And yet within Mrs. Kohler's green patch the water dripped, the beds
had all been hosed, and the air was fresh with rapidly evaporating moisture.
The two symmetrical linden trees were the proudest things in the garden.
Their sweetness embalmed all the air. At every turn of the paths,--whether one
went to see the hollyhocks or the bleeding heart, or to look at the purple morning-
glories that ran over the bean-poles,--wherever one went, the sweetness of the
lindens struck one afresh and one always came back to them. Under the round
leaves, where the waxen yellow blossoms hung, bevies of wild bees were
buzzing. The tamarisks were still pink, and the flower-beds were doing their best
in honor of the linden festival. The white dove-house was shining with a fresh
coat of paint, and the pigeons were crooning contentedly, flying down often to
drink at the drip from the water tank. Mrs. Kohler, who was transplanting pansies,
came up with her trowel and told Thea it was lucky to have your birthday when
the lindens were in bloom, and that she must go and look at the sweet peas.
Wunsch accompanied her, and as they walked between the flower-beds he took
Thea's hand.
"ES FLUSTERN UND SPRECHEN DIE BLUMEN,"-he muttered. "You
know that von Heine? IM LEUCHTENDEN SOMMERMORGEN?" He looked
down at Thea and softly pressed her hand.
"No, I don't know it. What does FLUSTERN mean?"
"FLUSTERN?--to whisper. You must begin now to know such things. That is
necessary. How many birthdays?"
"Thirteen. I'm in my 'teens now. But how can I know words like that? I only
know what you say at my lessons. They don't teach German at school. How can I
learn?"
"It is always possible to learn when one likes," said Wunsch. His words were
peremptory, as usual, but his tone was mild, even confidential. "There is always a
 
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