"Even so," responded the doctor, regarding his treasure with a queer frown, for his face could not throw off its bad habits in an hour, "even so. And now I must be gone. No medicine is needed by my patient, only peace and cheerfulness, and both are here in plenty. Heaven bless you, my good friends! I shall ever be grateful to you."
"May Heaven bless you, too, mynheer, and may you soon find the young gentleman," said Dame Brinker earnestly, after hurriedly wiping her eyes upon the corner of her apron.
Raff uttered a hearty, "Amen!" and Gretel threw such a wistful, eager glance at the doctor that he patted her head as he turned to leave the cottage.
"When I can serve you, mynheer, I am ready."
"Very well, boy," replied Dr. Boekman with peculiar mildness. "Tell them, within, to say nothing of what has just happened. Meantime, Hans, when you are with his father, watch his mood. You have tact. At any moment he may suddenly be able to tell us more."
"Good day, my boy!" cried the doctor as he sprang into his stately coach.
Aha! thought Hans as it rolled away, the meester has more life in him than I thought.
The twentieth of December came at last, bringing with it the perfection of winter weather. All over the level landscape lay the warm sunlight. It tried its power on lake, canal, and river, but the ice flashed defiance and showed no sign of melting. The very weathercocks stood still to enjoy the sight. This gave the windmills a holiday. Nearly all the past week they had been whirling briskly; now, being rather out of breath, they rocked lazily in the clear, still air. Catch a windmill working when the weathercocks have nothing to do!