Hans reproached himself, now, that he had not hailed the doctor when he saw him enter his coach and drive rapidly away in the direction of Amsterdam.
Perhaps there is some mistake, he thought. The meester surely would have known that meat and sweet wine were not at our command; and yet the father looks very weak--he certainly does. I MUST get work. If Mynheer van Holp were back from Rotterdam, I could get plenty to do. But Master Peter told me to let him know if he could do aught to serve us. I shall go to him at once. Oh, if it were but summer!
All this time Hans was hastening toward the canal. Soon his skates were on, and he was skimming rapidly toward the residence of Mynheer van Holp.
"The father must have meat and wine at once," he muttered, "but how can I earn the money in time to buy them today? There is no other way but to go, as I PROMISED, to Master Peter. What would a gift of meat and wine be to him? When the father is once fed, I can rush down to Amsterdam and earn the morrow's supply."
Then came other thoughts--thoughts that made his heart thump heavily and his cheeks burn with a new shame. It is BEGGING, to say the least. Not one of the Brinkers has ever been a beggar. Shall I be the first? Shall my poor father just coming back into life learn that his family has asked for charity--he, always so wise and thrifty? "No," cried Hans aloud, "better a thousand times to part with the watch."
I can at least borrow money on it, in Amsterdam! he thought, turning around. That will be no disgrace. I can find work at once and get it back again. Nay, perhaps I can even SPEAK TO THE FATHER ABOUT IT!
This last thought made the lad dance for joy. Why not, indeed, speak to the father? He was a rational being now. He may wake, thought Hans, quite bright and rested--may tell us the watch is of no consequence, to sell it of course! And Hans almost flew over the ice.
A few moments more and the skates were again swinging from his arm. He was running toward the cottage.