"The meester awaits an answer," he whispered.
Dame Brinker had long been head of her house in every sense. Many a time she had been very stern with Hans, ruling him with a strong hand and rejoicing in her motherly discipline. NOW she felt so weak, so helpless. It was something to feel that firm embrace. There was strength even in the touch of that yellow hair.
She turned to her boy imploringly.
"Say what God tells thee, Mother," answered Hans, bowing his head.
One quick, questioning prayer to Heaven rose from the mother's heart.
"It is right, mynheer. I consent."
"Humph!" grunted the doctor, as if to say, "You've been long enough about it." Then he conferred a moment with his assistant, who listened with great outward deference but was inwardly rejoicing at the grand joke he would have to tell his fellow students. He had actually seen a tear in "old Boekman's" eye.
Meanwhile Gretel looked on in trembling silence, but when she saw the doctor open a leather case and take out one sharp, gleaming instrument after another, she sprang forward.