Lisbeth smiled a little, and then said, "You may ask me that now!" Her voice sounded honest and friendly. Trautvetter took her hand in his and said: "Then that's all right!" But she continued gaily and cheerfully: "Besides, in any case, I should have ended by being your mistress." "Oh, no!" said Trautvetter. "Under certain circumstances I prefer a wife."

All this was changed when the non-commissioned officers' room received a new inmate, the one-year volunteer Trautvetter. Captain von Wegstetten fully intended that his one-year volunteers, like his whole battery, should be distinguished above all the others in the regiment.

"Why is this?" he asked. "Perhaps I shall be able to pay them up." But Trautvetter answered quietly, "No, never mind! I only won the money from you in play, and gambling debts are not legally reclaimable. I ought never to have lent you the money in the first place."

Then suddenly Trautvetter assumed a severely respectful manner, and added, "I should like to ask you something, sir; and that is that you would promise me never to play again." Heppner looked at him, astonished. Was all this irksome dependence on one of his subordinates, this degradation before the whole battery, really to come to an end?

He looked rather embarrassed when she thanked him heartily for giving back the notes-of-hand; and as he was acquainted with her husband's weaknesses it came to pass that they often talked about Henke. The woman felt a need of speaking out to some one about her husband, and Trautvetter gave her the best advice he could. The young woman pleased him with her industrious, intelligent ways.

The promise he had given to Trautvetter he should construe after his own views; he would be careful to keep within bounds, under all circumstances. It happened, nevertheless, that he lost at times; and to meet such little reverses he was obliged to borrow from the battery cash-box, for Ida kept a tight hand on the purse-strings, and he could not bring himself to cut down her housekeeping money.

He could scarcely believe that any one could be so generous. But he could see that the one-year volunteer was in earnest, not simply making fun of him. "Yes, I promise you, Trautvetter," he said firmly. "I will not play any more." And for the moment he meant what he said; he felt that this was the right minute for making good resolutions and turning over a new leaf.

If they behaved well he was most charming to them; if not, then he was all the more strict, because he considered them young people whose superior education laid them under the greater obligations. All his labour had been in vain with Trautvetter. The one year volunteer was a ne'er-do-weel, a drunkard, a debauchee, and a useless fool on duty into the bargain.

Heppner murmured, with some confusion: "Settling up accounts, all of a sudden there is some money missing; of course I had meant to replace it." Trautvetter understood, and was beginning to pull out his purse, but he suddenly hesitated. "Why, I have got no money left!" he cried in dismay. "Must it be at once? To-morrow afternoon you can have as much as you want." "No, no, at once!

When the two non-commissioned officers had lost all their money, Trautvetter had no objection to lending, and let them give him notes-of-hand, which at last amounted to very considerable sums. He had not, indeed, any real intention of claiming repayment; but these I.O.U.'s were very useful weapons in his hand, and it was not long before the sergeant-major had to dance to his piping.