``Your father will be delighted to take you wherever there is a probability of breaking both your necks, my dear,'' said Mrs Dene.
``Griffin!'' said Ruth, giving her hand a loving little squeeze under the table.
Loisl came up with his zither and they all made way before him. Anna placed a small lantern on the table and the light fell on the handsome bearded Jaeger's face as he leaned lovingly above his instrument.
The incurable ``Sehnsucht'' of humanity found not its only expression in that great Symphony where ``all the mightier strings assembling, fell a trembling.'' Ruth heard it as she leaned back in the deep shade and listened to those silvery melodies and chords of wonderful purity, coaxed from the little zither by Loisl's strong, rough hand, with its tender touch. To all the airs he played her memory supplied the words. Sometimes a Sennerin was watching from the Alm for her lover's visit in the evening. Sometimes the hunter said farewell as he sprang down the mountainside. Once tears came into Ruth's eyes as the simple tune recalled how a maiden who died and went to Heaven told her lover at parting:
``When you come after me I shall know you by my ring which you will wear, and me you will know by your rose that rests on my heart.''
Loisl had stopped playing and was tuning a little, idly sounding chords of penetrating sweetness. There came a noise of jolting and jingling from the road below.
Mrs Dene spoke softly to Ruth. ``That is the Mail; it is time he was here.'' Ruth assented absently. She cared at that moment more for hearing a new folk-song than for the coming of her old playmate.
Rapid wheels approaching from the same direction overtook and passed the ``Post'' and stopped below. Mrs Dene rose, drawing Ruth with her. The three tall Jaegers rose too, touching their hats. Thanking them all, with a special compliment to Loisl, the ladies went and stood by some stone steps which lead from the road to the Först-haus, just as a young fellow, proceeding up them two at a time, arrived at the top, and taking Mrs Dene's hand began to kiss it affectionately.
``At last!'' she cried, ``and the very same boy! after four years! Ruth!'' Ruth gave one hand and Reginald Gethryn took two, releasing one the next moment to put his arm around the little old lady, and so he led them both into the house, more at home already than they were.
``Shall we begin to talk about how we are not one bit changed, only a little older, first, or about your supper?'' said Mrs Dene.
``Oh! supper, please!'' said Rex, of the sun-browned face and laughing eyes. Smiling Anna, standing by, understood, aided by a hint from Ruth of ``Schmarn und Reh-braten'' -- and clattered away to fetch the never-changing venison and fried batter, with which, and Schicksalsee beer, the Frau Förster sustained her guests the year round, from ``Georgi'' to ``Michaeli'' and from ``Michaeli'' to ``Georgi,'' reasoning that what she liked was good enough for them. The shapeless cook was ladling out dumplings, which she called ``Nudel,'' into some soup for a Munich opera singer, who had just arrived by the stage. Anna confided to her that this was a ``feiner Herr,'' and must be served accordingly....