The Little House
In this way she thought she might perhaps obtain possession of the key at some future time. He might not always think of it if she herself seemed to have forgotten it.
They seated themselves at the table. Prudent ate but little and was sad and silent, in spite of his efforts to appear gay. Rosalie, however, seemed so thoughtless and bright that her father at last recovered his accustomed good spirits.
Rosalie would be fifteen years old in three weeks. Her father had promised an agreeable surprise for this event. A few days passed peacefully away. There remained but fifteen days before her birth-day. One morning Prudent said to Rosalie:—
"My dear child, I am compelled to be absent for one hour. I must go out to arrange something for your birth-day. Wait for me in the house, my dear. Do not yield yourself up to idle curiosity. In fifteen days you will know all that you desire to know, for I read your thoughts and I know what occupies your mind. Adieu, my daughter, beware of curiosity!"
Prudent embraced his daughter tenderly and withdrew, leaving her with great reluctance.
As soon as he was out of sight, Rosalie ran to her father's room and what was her joy to see the key forgotten upon the table! She seized it and ran quickly to the end of the park. Arrived at the little house, she remembered the words of her father, "Beware of curiosity!" She hesitated, and was upon the point of returning the key without having looked at the house, when she thought she heard a light groan. She put her ear against the door and heard a very little voice singing softly:—
"A lonely prisoner I pine,
No hope of freedom now is mine;
I soon must draw my latest breath,
And in this dungeon meet my death."
"No doubt," said Rosalie to herself, "this is some unfortunate creature whom my father holds captive."
Tapping softly upon the door, she said: "Who are you, and what can I do for you?"
"Open the door, Rosalie! I pray you open the door!"
"But why are you a prisoner? Have you not committed some crime?