Mother Uberta was by no means blind to the fact that both Fritz and his father had designs on her daughter, and having convinced herself that their prosperity rested on a solid basis, she was not disinclined to favor their suits. The only difficulty was to make a choice between them; and having ascertained that Fritz was entirely dependent upon his father’s bounty, she quickly decided in favor of the father. But she was too wise to allow Mr. Hahn to suspect that he was a desirable son-in-law, being rather addicted to the belief that men only worship what seems utterly beyond their reach. Ilka, it is needless to say, was not a party to these speculations; to her the Hahns appeared equally undesirable in any capacity whatsoever.
As for the proprietor of the “Haute Noblesse,” I believe he was suffering from an honest infatuation. He admired Ilka’s face, he admired her neck, her figure, her voice, her ankles as displayed by the short Tyrolese skirt; he wandered about in a sort of frenzy of unrest, and was never happy except in her presence. That a certain amount of speculation entered into love’s young dream, I cannot positively deny; but, on the whole, the emotion was as sincere as any that Mr. Hahn’s bosom had ever harbored. Whether he should allow her to sing in public after she had become his wife was a point about which he sometimes worried, but which he ended by deciding in the affirmative. It was a splendid investment for the “Haute Noblesse.”