"So, Mistress Gretel! Here you are at last!"
Before Raff awoke that evening, the fairy godmother, as we know, had been in the cottage, the guilders were once more safely locked in the big chest, and Dame Brinker and the children were faring sumptuously on meat and white bread and wine.
So the mother, in the joy of her heart, told them the story of the watch as far as she deemed it prudent to divulge it. It was no more than fair, she thought, that the poor things should know after keeping the secret so safe ever since they had been old enough to know anything.
The next sun brought a busy day to the Brinkers. In the first place the news of the thousand guilders had, of course, to be told to the father. Such tidings as that surely could not harm him. Then while Gretel was diligently obeying her mother's injunction to "clean the place fresh as a new brewing," Hans and the dame sallied forth to revel in the purchasing of peat and provisions.
Hans was careless and contented; the dame was filled with delightful anxieties caused by the unreasonable demands of ten thousand guilders' worth of new wants that had sprung up like mushrooms in a single night. The happy woman talked so largely to Hans on their way to Amsterdam and brought back such little bundles after all that he scratched his bewildered head as he leaned against the chimney piece, wondering whether "Bigger the pouch, tighter the string" was in Jacob Cats, and therefore true, or whether he had dreamed it when he lay in a fever.
"What thinking on, Big-eyes?" chirruped his mother, half reading his thoughts as she bustled about, preparing the dinner. "What thinking on? Why, Raff, would ye believe it, the child thought to carry half Amsterdam back on his head. Bless us! He would have bought us as much coffee as would have filled this fire pot. 'No, no, my lad,' says I. 'No time for leaks when the ship is rich laden.' And then how he stared--aye--just as he stares this minute. Hoot, lad, fly around a mite. Ye'll grow to the chimney place with your staring and wondering. Now, Raff, here's your chair at the head of the table, where it should be, for there's a man to the house now--I'd say it to the king's face. Aye, that's the way--lean on Hans. There's a strong staff for you! Growing like a weed, too, and it seems only yesterday since he was toddling. Sit by, my man, sit by."
"Can you call to mind, vrouw, "said Raff, settling himself cautiously in the big chair, "the wonderful music box that cheered your working in the big house at Heidelberg?"
"Aye, that I can," answered the dame. "Three turns of a brass key and the witchy thing would send the music fairly running up and down one's back. I remember it well. But, Raff"--growing solemn in an instant--"you would never throw our guilders away for a thing like that?"