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."
By this time Hans, too, began to tremble, but not with cold. He had penetrated a foot deep for quite a space on the south side of the tree. At any moment they might come upon the treasure. Meantime the stars winked and blinked at each other as if to say, "Queer country, this Holland! How much we do see, to be sure!"
"Strange that the dear father should have put it down so woeful deep," said Dame Brinker in rather a provoked tone. "Ah, the ground was soft enough then, I warrant. How wise of him to mistrust Jan Kamphuisen, and Jan in full credit at the time. Little I thought that handsome fellow with his gay ways would ever go to jail! Now, Hans, let me take a turn. It's lighter work, d'ye see, the deeper we go? I'd be loath to kill the tree, Hans. Will we harm it, do you think?"
"I cannot say," he answered gravely.