“Indeed,” I exclaimed, “it must have been very uncomfortable to have been obliged to sleep on a divan, or even in a camp-bed for six entire weeks!”
They both laughed. “On the bare ground—on the snow—under the open sky,” they replied.
Oh, heavens! Even our servants would have died, had they been obliged to pass one winter’s night out of doors. I begged them to follow me, and showed them our best room, in which there were two beds. As the servants were all out, I was going to make down the beds myself.
“Oh, we cannot allow that!” they both exclaimed. “We can do that ourselves,” and, seeing they had need of rest, I bowed and hastened to leave them alone.
Scarcely had I reached my own room when I heard a terrible shriek which seemed to proceed from the apartment I had just left, and cries of “Help! Robbers! Murder!”
I knew the voice, but in my terror I could not remember whose it was, and still the cries continued: “Help! Murder!”
If you can imagine my situation, you may suppose that I never moved from the spot on which I stood till the voice, echoing through the rooms, at last approached my apartment. It was my dear mamma -—but in what a plight. Her clothes all crumpled, her cap over her eyes, one of her shoes off, and her whole face as red as if she had come out of an oven. It was a long time before I could make out where she had been or what had happened to her. Well, only fancy: she had hidden in the very room where I had quartered my two guests, and where, do you think?
In one of the beds, under all the feather quilts! Now you may imagine the rest, and the surprise of the National Guard officer when he threw himself down, half-dead with fatigue. Poor mamma had good reason to cry out, but what an idea, to hide there! After much trouble, I calmed her a little, and endeavored to persuade her that these National Guards had not come to rob or kill us; and finally I succeeded so far that she promised not to hide again, and I undertook to explain to the officers that mamma had the rheumatism and was obliged to get under all those feather beds by way of a vapor bath!
Meanwhile, our guests had scarcely time to fall asleep when an orderly arrived who desired to speak with them.
“You cannot see them at present,” I replied. “They are both asleep; but you may wait, or come again.”
“Where are they sleeping?” he asked.