Soon he looked up again and spoke in a cheerful voice. "I should know her, vrouw," he said, holding the sweet young face between his hands and gazing at it as though he were watching it grow. "I should know her. The same blue eyes and the lips, and ah! me, the little song she could sing almost before she could stand. But that was long ago," he added, with a sigh, still looking at her dreamily. "Long ago; it's all gone now."
"Not so, indeed," cried Dame Brinker eagerly. "Do you think I would let her forget it? Gretel, child, sing the old song thou hast known so long!"
Raff Brinker's hand fell wearily and his eyes closed, but it was something to see the smile playing about his mouth as Gretel's voice floated about him like incense.
It was a simple air; she had never known the words.
With loving instinct she softened every note, until Raff almost fancied that his two-year-old baby was once more beside him.
As soon as the song was finished, Hans mounted a wooden stool and began to rummage in the cupboard.
"Have a care, Hans," said Dame Brinker, who through all her poverty was ever a tidy housewife. "Have a care, the wine is there at your right and the white bread beyond it."
"Never fear, Mother," answered Hans, reaching far back on an upper shelf. "I shall do no mischief."