“Judgin’ from ‘is manners an’ kind ’eart ’e might be princes,” said the slavey, drawing in her breath exactly as she would if sucking a ripe orange.
“An’ ’is darter might be princesses!” exclaimed the landlady with a sniff. Quite plainly she did not approve of the seclusion in which Herr Kreutzer kept his daughter. “Five years ’ave them two lived ’ere in this ’ere ‘ouse, an’ not five times ’as that there man let that there ’aughty miss stir hout halone!”
“’Ow ’eavingly!” sighed the maid, who never, in her life, had been cared for, at all, by anyone.
“’Ow fiddlesticks!” the landlady replied. “You’d think she might be waxworks, liable to melt if sun-shone-on! Fer me, Hi says that them as is too fine for Soho houghtn’t to be livin’ ’ere. That’s w’at Hi says—halthough ’e pyes as reg’lar as clockworks.”
“Clockworks fawther with a waxworks darter!” cried the slavey, who had a taste for humor of a kind. “Th’ one ’ud stop if t’other melted. That’s sure.”
“’E hidolizes ‘er that much hit mykes me think o’ Roman Catholics an’ such,” the landlady replied.
Then, for a time, she paused in thought, while the slavey lost herself in dreams that, possibly, she had been serving and been worshiping a real princess. As the height of the ambition of all such as she, in London, is to be humble before rank, the mere thought filled her with delight and multiplied into the homage of a subject for an over-lord the love she felt already for the charming German girl of whom they spoke.
“She might be,” said the landlady, at length.
“W’at? Princesses?” inquired the wistful slavey.
The landlady looked shrewdly at her. It might be that by thus confiding to the servant her own speculations as to her lodgers’ rank, she had been sowing seed of some extravagance. Hypnotized by the idea, the slavey might slip to the two mysterious Germans, sometime, something which would not be charged upon the bill! “Nothink of the sort!” she cried, therefore, hastily. “An’ don’t you never tyke no coals to ’em that you don’t tell abaht—you ’ear?”
The slavey promised, but the seed was sown. From that time on full many a small attention fell to the Herr Kreutzer and his pretty, gentle-mannered, dark-haired, big-eyed Anna of which the landlady knew nothing, and many a dream of romance did the smutted slavey’s small, sad eyes see in the kitchen fire on lonely evenings while she was waiting for the last lodger to come in before she went to bed behind the kindlings-bin. And the central figures of these dreams were, always, the beautiful young German girl and her dignified, independent, shabby, courteous old father.
In the small orchestra where Kreutzer played, he made no friends among the other musical performers; when the manager of the dingy little theatre politely tried to pump him as to details of his history he managed to evade all answers in the least illuminating, although he never failed to do so with complete politeness.