"Is it you, Meitje?" he asked faintly. "I have been asleep, hurt, I think. Where is little Hans?"
"Here I am, Father!" shouted Hans, half mad with joy. But the doctor held him back.
"He knows us!" screamed Dame Brinker. "Great God! He knows us! Gretel! Gretel! Come, see your father!"
In vain Dr. Boekman commanded "Silence!" and tried to force them from the bedside. He could not keep them off.
Hans and the mother laughed and cried together as they hung over the newly awakened man. Gretel made no sound but gazed at them all with glad, startled eyes. Her father was speaking in a faint voice.
"The baby!" echoed Dame Brinker. "Oh, Gretel, that is you! And he calls Hans 'little Hans.' Ten years asleep! Oh, mynheer, you have saved us all. He has known nothing for ten years! Children, why don't you thank the meester?"
The good woman was beside herself with joy. Dr. Boekman said nothing, but as his eye met hers, he pointed upward. She understood. So did Hans and Gretel.
With one accord they knelt by the cot, side by side. Dame Brinker felt for her husband's hand even while she was praying. Dr. Boekman's head was bowed; the assistant stood by the hearth with his back toward them.