“Mother,” said John Vanderlyn, not viciously, but, still, a little wickedly, “you are up against it. He’ll never reconsider.”
“But he must! He must!” said Mrs. Vanderlyn, entirely capitulating. “There is nothing I won’t do!” She turned, imploringly, to Kreutzer. “Listen. To-night I hold a reception. It shall be in your daughter’s honor and I will, while it is going on, announce her engagement to my son.” She took the ring which the flute-player had passed over to her, and, holding it between her thumb and forefinger, advanced towards Anna with it. “See, I will, myself, put on the ring.”
John protested, though, at this. “No, mother,” he said hastily, “I will attend to that.”
He took the ring from her reluctant fingers, and, raising Anna’s hand, slipped it into place in open token of betrothal. Then, with an air of manly resolution the young man turned to the father. “And I’ll do more,” he said. “You and Anna shall not be parted. I’ll buy the old estate of Lichtenstahl and you shall be its master, as you ought to be, as long as your life lasts. You’ll let us be your guests, perhaps, and there we’ll all be happy. Eh?”
“I beg you to consider the happiness of our children,” Mrs. Vanderlyn said humbly.
Herr Kreutzer smiled. Conditions, now, were different indeed. No longer was he scorned as a poor flute-player, unworthy to become connected with the house of Vanderlyn by marriage.
“Ah,” said he, “you beg of me! Well, that is different. Your happiness, my little Anna ... so ... I will see. Only give me just a little time to think of it alone.”
“Of course,” said Mrs. Vanderlyn, with a deep sigh of relief. “Come, Anna darling, we must get home in time to dress for the reception. My dear Count, I’ll send the motor back for you. You’ll surely come?”
“Perhaps I come,” said he indifferently. “Possibly.”
But he turned to Anna with a beaming face on which love shone, triumphant. “At least, my Anna, it is not goodbye—and that is very good. Nichtwahr?”
“No, father; it could never be goodbye with us. Together always, father—always—always—us—together.”
She ran to him and hid her head upon his breast.
A moment later and the girl had been borne off by Mrs. Vanderlyn in triumph. John gave his hand to Kreutzer and the aged flute-player pressed it, smiling at him with approval.
As his future son-in-law went out the old man stood and gazed long at the open door. Upon his face there were the lines of happiness, not worry, as there had been for so many years, not bitter grief as there had been that day.
There came a clatter on the stairs which broke the reverie which held him, and he stepped forward to the door, peering out into the hall to see the cause of the unusual noise. An officer approached, and, tightly gripped by her right arm, he held M’riar.