On returning to his office Paul Harley found awaiting him

When the music was slow, the procession seemed to crawl like a thing afraid. It grew livelier, and the creature darted forward with a spring, gliding rapidly among the arches, in and out, curling, twisting, turning, never losing form until, at the shrill call of the bugle rising above the music, it suddenly resolved itself into boys and girls standing in a double semicircle before Madam van Gleck's pavilion.

On returning to his office Paul Harley found awaiting him

Peter and Gretel stand in the center in advance of the others. Madame van Gleck rises majestically. Gretel trembles but feels that she must look at the beautiful lady. She cannot hear what is said, there is such a buzzing all around her. She is thinking that she ought to try and make a curtsy, such as her mother makes to the meester, when suddenly something so dazzling is placed in her hand that she gives a cry of joy.

On returning to his office Paul Harley found awaiting him

Then she ventures to look about her. Peter, too, has something in his hands. "Oh! Oh! How splendid!" she cries, and "Oh! How splendid!" is echoed as far as people can see.

On returning to his office Paul Harley found awaiting him

Meantime the silver skates flash in the sunshine, throwing dashes of light upon those two happy faces.

Mevrouw van Gend sends a little messenger with her bouquets. One for Hilda, one for Carl, and others for Peter and Gretel.

At sight of the flowers the queen of the skaters becomes uncontrollable. With a bright stare of gratitude, she gathers skates and bouquets in her apron, hugs them to her bosom, and darts off to search for her father and mother in the scattering crowd.

Perhaps you were surprised to learn that Raff and his vrouw were at the skating race. You would have been more so had you been with them on the evening of that merry twentieth of December. To see the Brinker cottage standing sulkily alone on the frozen marsh, with its bulgy, rheumatic-looking walls and its slouched hat of a roof pulled far over its eyes, one would never suspect that a lively scene was passing within. Without, nothing was left of the day but a low line of blaze at the horizon. A few venturesome clouds had already taken fire, and others, with their edges burning, were lost in the gathering smoke.

A stray gleam of sunshine slipping down from the willow stump crept stealthily under the cottage. It seemed to feel that the inmates would give it welcome if it could only get near them. The room under which it hid was as clean as clean could be. The very cracks in the rafters were polished. Delicious odors filled the air. A huge peat fire upon the hearth sent flashes of harmless lightning at the somber walls. It played in turn upon the great leather Bible, upon Gretel's closet-bed, the household things upon their pegs, and the beautiful silver skates and the flowers upon the table. Dame Brinker's honest face shone and twinkled in the changing light. Gretel and Hans, with arms entwined, were leaning against the fireplace, laughing merrily, and Raff Brinker was dancing!

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