Such music as came from that flute! It was as if the “sweet birds singing in his heart” had risen and were perched, all twittering and cooing, chirping, carolling upon his lips. And all they sang about was love—love—love—a father’s love for his delightful daughter. Sweet and pure and wholly lovely was the melody which filled the room and held the charming woman it was meant for spellbound; held the little slavey from the grime of London as one hypnotized upon her chair; sang its way out of the window, down into the grimy court between this dingy tenement and the whole row of dingy tenements which faced the other street, and made a dozen little slum-bred children pause there in their play, in wonder and delight. Ah, how Kreutzer played the flute, that day, for his beloved Anna!
“Ah, when you play,” said she, as with a smile, he laid the wonderful old instrument upon the shelf again, “it is your life, your soul—you put all into the old flute!”
“Yes, Anna; and to-day it was far more. It was my love for you—that was the greatest part of it; and there were sweet memories of my native land.” The fervor of his playing, more than the effort of it, had exhausted him. He sat down somewhat wearily, with a long sigh. “But we will not speak of our native land, my Anna,” he said sadly. “Ach! I am a little tired.” He held his arms out to her. “But happy—very happy,” he said quickly when he saw the look of quick compassion on her face. “And you?”
The burden of her secret had grown heavy on her heart. It did not seem a decent thing to wait a moment more before she told it to him.
“I am happy, too—but—but—oh, my father, father!”
She threw herself into his arms, bursting into tears.
The old flute-player looked down upon his lovely daughter as, sobbing, she clung to him, with bewildered, utterly dismayed amazement. What could be the matter with the child? He glanced about him helplessly. It dazed him. Everything, a moment since, had been so bright and gay! There had been a smile upon her lips, a soft glow of happiness alight within her eyes. He could not understand this situation. He was actually frightened.
So, also, was M’riar, who stood gaping at the spectacle of her Miss Anna’s grief with wide, fear-stricken eyes.
“Cawn’t Hi do nothink for ’er, sir?” she said, approaching timidly.
For the first time in his life he spoke almost harshly to the child, in his excitement. “No,” he said emphatically. “You will only stand and say ‘My heye! Hi sye! Hi sye! My heye!’ You can do nothing. It would be well for you to step into the kitchen, possibly. I smell me that there may be something burning, there. And do not come again until I call to you. If nothing burns there, now, then something might burn, later. It would be well for you to stay and watch.” He had no wish to hurt the poor child’s feelings—but his Anna! Surely none but he must witness this completely inexplicable, this mad outburst of wild woe.