It was so light out of doors that they could see the willow tree distinctly. The frozen ground was hard as stone, but Hans and his mother were resolute. Their only dread was that they might disturb the sleepers in the cottage.
"This ysbreeker is just the thing, Mother," said Hans, striking many a vigorous blow, "but the ground has set so firm it'll be a fair match for it."
"Never fear, Hans," she answered, watching him eagerly. "Here, let me try awhile."
They soon succeeded in making an impression. One opening and the rest was not so difficult.
Still they worked on, taking turns and whispering cheerily to one another. Now and then Dame Brinker stepped noiselessly over the threshold and listened, to be certain that her husband slept.
"What grand news it will be for him," she said, laughing, "when he is strong enough to bear it. How I should like to put the pouch and the stocking, just as we find them, all full of money, near him this blessed night, for the dear man to see when he wakens."
"We must get them first, Mother," panted Hans, still tugging away at his work.
"There's no doubt of that. They can't slip away from us now," she answered, shivering with cold and excitement as she crouched beside the opening. "Like enough we'll find them stowed in the old earthen pot I lost long ago."