While Hans was hastily swallowing a mammoth mouthful in order to give a suitable reply to this poetic appeal, Dame Brinker settled the matter with a quick, "Well, roses or blood, it's all one to me, so the red finds its way on your sunny face. It's enough for mother to get pale and weary-looking without--"
"Hoot, vrouw," spoke up Raff hastily, "thou'rt fresher and rosier this minute than both our chicks put together."
This remark, though not bearing very strong testimony to the clearness of Raff's newly awakened intellect, nevertheless afforded the dame immense satisfaction. The meal accordingly went on in the most delightful manner.
After dinner the affair of the watch was talked over and the mysterious initials duly discussed.
Hans had just pushed back his stool, intending to start at once for Mynheer van Holp's, and his mother had risen to put the watch away in its old hiding place, when they heard the sound of wheels upon the frozen ground.
Someone knocked at the door, opening it at the same time.
"Come in," stammered Dame Brinker, hastily trying to hide the watch in her bosom. "Oh, is it you, mynheer! Good day! The father is nearly well, as you see. It's a poor place to greet you in, mynheer, and the dinner not cleared away."
Dr. Boekman scarcely noticed the dame's apology. He was evidently in haste.