“You love her, eh?” he asked.
“Love ’er!” said M’riar, breathlessly. “My heye! Love ’er! Ou, Hi, sye!”
Herr Kreutzer reached an arm out with a thrill of real affection and drew the little waif close to him. Never in her life had she been offered a caress, before, by anyone but Anna. It took her by surprise, and, without the slightest thought of doing so, she burst into a flood of tears. He did not fail to understand the workings of her soul. He drew the tiny creature to him and softly pressed a kiss upon her perfectly clean forehead.
“You vould not want to leave her, M’riar?”
“Hi’d die, Hi would,” sobbed M’riar.
Herr Kreutzer held her head back and smiled into her eyes with a good smile which made her very happy. “Ach, liebling, do not worry.”
“W’y wouldn’t yer go with the toff and pl’y in ther big horchestra?” she made bold to ask. “You’d set ’em cryzy, you would! My ’art turns somersets, it does, w’en you pl’ys on yer flute.”
He pushed the child away, almost as if she angered him; then, seeing her remorseful, frightened look, he took her back again and held her close beside his knee.
“I have no love for crowds, my M’riar,” he said slowly. “No; not even in America. I have no love for crowds.”
Herr Kreutzer’s little stock of money (depleted sadly by dishonest exchange) sagged heavily in a small leather bag which he carried in a carefully buttoned hip-pocket in his trousers. There it gave him comfort, as, the day after he had landed in New York, it chinked and thumped against him as he walked. There was so much of it! In this land of gold and generous appreciation of ability, it would be far more than enough to carry him and the two girls who were now dependent on him until he should find a well paid, but not too conspicuous, situation. He was sure of this. It had been the gossip of the little orchestra in London that musicians, in New York, if worthy, were always in demand; that when they played they were paid vastly. Tales often had been told of money literally thrown to players by delighted members of appreciative audiences—money in great rolls of bank-notes, heavy gold-pieces, bank checks. Nowhere in the world, not even in the music loving Fatherland, a wandering trombonist who had visited the states had solemnly assured him, were expert performers on any sort of instrument so well paid and so well beloved as in the city of New York.
“You, Kreutzer,” this man had said (for when musicians lie the cultivated and exotic fancy, essential to success in their profession, makes them lie superbly) “could, past the shadow of a doubt, win a real fortune in a season in New York.”
“Much work is waiting, eh?” said Kreutzer, eagerly. He did not wish to win a fortune, for that would mean the larger orchestras, but he wondered if the smaller organizations paid proportionally well.