"Do just look, Trudel," said Lottchen. "I believe there is a little man in that hollow tree!"
"So there is, he is smiling and bowing to us, let's go and visit him," said Trudel, always enterprising.
Lottchen hung back, feeling a little afraid; she was always on the look-out for the unexpected, and yet was surprised when something really happened.
"Come along, darling," said Trudel, grasping her smaller sister by the hand.
They both distinctly saw the little man; they said they could have drawn him afterwards, and indeed they attempted to do so as well as they could. But as they approached the venerable oak, the little man vanished, and all they saw was a strange green stain on the inside of the tree, resembling a dwarf with a peaked hood on.
"Just look at this Gothic window," said Lottchen, proud of her knowledge of the word "Gothic." "How nicely this tree-room is carved. I am sure he lives here; where are his little chairs and tables? I should love to see them."
They peeped through a window or hole in the old tree and saw their mother approaching.
"Mother, mother, here lives a real tree man; we saw him—didn't you?"
Mother smiled—what the children called her mysterious smile.
"You look like two little wood-men yourselves," she said. "Lottchen, stand up straight in the hole and look at me."
Lottchen stood up just fitting into the green mark on the tree behind her. She made a pretty picture, her laughing brown eyes with the long eyelashes, her rosy cheeks, and the wind-blown hair straying from under her hood.
"O look, Lottchen, here is a little basin of holy water, just like we saw in the cathedral," said Trudel.
Nice and brown,
In a little cup.
Won't you drink it up?"
said a tiny voice that sounded like that of a wood-bird.
"Mother! did you hear anything, mother?"
"Yes, darlings, the birds are singing so sweetly now the rain is over. I have brought my camp-stool. I shall sit here and sketch the tree," said mother.