"Well, Mother, don't cry, HE SHALL HAVE THEM. I shall bring meat and wine before night. Take the cover from my bed. I can sleep in the straw."
"Yes, Hans, but it is heavy, scant as it is. The meester said he must have something light and warm. He will perish. Our peat is giving out, Hans. The father has wasted it sorely, throwing it on when I was not looking, dear man."
"Never mind, Mother," whispered Hans cheerfully. "We can cut down the willow tree and burn it, if need be, but I'll bring home something tonight. There MUST be work in Amsterdam, though there's none in Broek. Never fear, Mother, the worst trouble of all is past. We can brave anything now that the father is himself again."
"Aye!" sobbed Dame Brinker, hastily drying her eyes. "That is true indeed."
"Of course it is. Look at him, Mother, how softly he sleeps. Do you think God would let him starve, just after giving him back to us? Why, Mother, I'm as SURE of getting all the father needs as if my pocket were bursting with gold. There, now, don't fret." And, hurriedly kissing her, Hans caught up his skates and slipped from the cottage.
Poor Hans! Disappointed in his morning's errand, half sickened with this new trouble, he wore a brave look and tried to whistle as he tramped resolutely off with the firm intention of mending matters.
Want had never before pressed so sorely upon the Brinker family. Their stock of peat was nearly exhausted, and all the flour in the cottage was in Gretel's dough. They had scarcely cared to eat during the past few days, scarcely realized their condition. Dame Brinker had felt so sure that she and the children could earn money before the worst came that she had given herself up to the joy of her husband's recovery. She had not even told Hans that the few pieces of silver in the old mitten were quite gone.
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.