That night Annie fell asleep wondering whether it was a knife Hans had lost and thinking how funny it would be if he should find it, after all.
Hans had scarcely closed his eyes before he found himself trudging along a thicket; pots of gold were lying all around, and watches and skates, and glittering beads were swinging from every branch.
Strange to say, each tree, as he approached it, changed into a stump, and on the stump sat the prettiest fairy imaginable, clad in a scarlet jacket and a blue petticoat.
Something else than the missing guilders was brought to light on the day of the fairy godmother's visit. This was the story of the watch that for ten long years had been so jealously guarded by Raff's faithful vrouw. Through many an hour of sore temptation she had dreaded almost to look upon it, lest she might be tempted to disobey her husband's request. It had been hard to see her children hungry and to know that the watch, if sold, would enable the roses to bloom in their cheeks again. "But nay," she would exclaim, "Meitje Brinker is not one to forget her man's last bidding, come what may."
"Take good care of this, mine vrouw," he had said as he handed it to her--that was all. No explanation followed, for the words were scarcely spoken when one of his fellow workmen rushed into the cottage, crying, "Come, man! The waters are rising! You're wanted on the dikes."
Raff had started at once, and that was the last Dame Brinker saw of him in his right mind.
On the day when Hans was in Amsterdam looking for work, and Gretel, after performing her household labors, was wandering in search of chips, twigs, anything that could be burned, Dame Brinker with suppressed excitement had laid the watch in her husband's hand.
"It wasn't in reason," as she afterward said to Hans, "to wait any longer, when a word from the father would settle all. No woman living but would want to know how he came by that watch." Raff Brinker turned the bright polished thing over and over in his hand, then he examined the bit of smoothly ironed black ribbon fastened to it. He seemed hardly to recognize it. At last he said, "Ah, I remember this! Why, you've been rubbing it, vrouw, till it shines like a new guilder."