"Comfort and joy, vrouw, that's what's in him! Ask Gretel, ask my little music box Gretel if your man has lacked comfort and joy this day."
"Not he, Mother," laughed Gretel. "He's been MY music box, too. We sang together half the time you were gone."
"Aye, so," said the dame, greatly relieved. "Now, Hans, you'll never get through with a piece like that, but never mind, chick, thou'st had a long fasting. Here, Gretel, take another slice of the sausage. It'll put blood in your cheeks."
"Oh! Oh, Mother," laughed Gretel, eagerly holding forth her platter. "Blood doesn't grow in girls' cheeks--you mean roses. Isn't it roses, Hans?"
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.