"Ah, jufvrouw," cried Gretel, weeping afresh, "he is dying, I think. There are two meesters in with him at this moment, and the mother has scarcely spoken today. Can you hear him moan, jufvrouw?" she added with sudden terror. "The air buzzes so I cannot hear. He may be dead! Oh, I do wish I could hear him!"
Hilda listened. The cottage was very near, but not a sound could be heard.
Something told her that Gretel was right. She ran to the window.
"You cannot see there, my lady," sobbed Gretel eagerly. "The mother has oiled paper hanging inside. But at the other one, in the south end of the cottage, you can look in where the paper is torn."
Hilda, in her anxiety, ran around, past the corner where the low roof was fringed with its loosened thatch.
"It is not right for me to peep into another's house in this way," she said to herself. Then, softly calling to Gretel, she added in a whisper, "You may look--perhaps he is only sleeping."
Gretel tried to walk briskly toward the spot, but her limbs were trembling. Hilda hastened to her support.
"You are sick, yourself, I fear," she said kindly.