So saying, the good woman bustled into the cottage. She soon came out again, but Hans had forgotten to wait, and the rabbit, after taking a cool survey of the premises, had scampered off to unknown quarters. Turning the corner of the cottage, Dame Brinker came upon the children. Hans and Gretel were standing before Annie, who was seated carelessly upon a stump.
"That is as good as a picture!" cried Dame Brinker, halting in admiration of the group. "Many a painting have I seen at the grand house at Heidelberg not a whit prettier. My two are rough chubs, Annie, but YOU look like a fairy."
"Do I?" laughed Annie, sparkling with animation. "Well, then, Gretel and Hans, imagine I'm your godmother just paying you a visit. Now I'll grant you each a wish. What will you have, Master Hans?"
A shade of earnestness passed over Annie's face as she looked up at him; perhaps it was because she wished from the depths of her heart that for once she could have a fairy's power.
Something whispered to Hans that, for a moment, she was more than mortal. "I wish," said he solemnly, "that I could find something I was searching for last night!"
Gretel laughed merrily. Dame Brinker moaned. "Shame on you, Hans!" And she went wearily into the cottage.
The fairy godmother sprang up and stamped her foot three times.
"Thou shalt have thy wish," said she. "Let them say what they will." Then, with playful solemnity, she put her hand in her apron pocket and drew forth a large glass bead. "Bury this," said she, giving it to Hans, "where I have stamped, and ere moonrise thy wish shall be granted."