Infomotions, Inc.Hans Brinker; or, the Silver Skates / Dodge, Mary Mapes, 1831-1905



Author: Dodge, Mary Mapes, 1831-1905
Title: Hans Brinker; or, the Silver Skates
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): gretel; hans; brinker; dame brinker; mynheer; raff; ben; lambert; carl; peter; skates; jacob; dame; raff brinker; holland; canal; jacob poot; dutch; saint nicholas; hans brinker; carl schummel
Contributor(s): Scott-Moncrieff, C. K. (Charles Kenneth), 1889-1930 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 84,820 words (short) Grade range: 7-8 (grade school) Readability score: 72 (easy)
Identifier: etext764
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Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates

by Mary Mapes Dodge

December, 1996 [Etext #764]


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HANS BRINKER OR THE SILVER SKATES


BY MARY MAPES DODGE



To my father
James J. Mapes
this book is dedicated
in gratitude and love




Preface



This little work aims to combine the instructive features of a
book of travels with the interest of a domestic tale.  Throughout
its pages the descriptions of Dutch localities, customs, and
general characteristics have been given with scrupulous care. 
Many of its incidents are drawn from life, and the story of Raff
Brinker is founded strictly upon fact.

While acknowledging my obligations to many well-known writers on
Dutch history, literature, and art, I turn with especial
gratitude to those kind Holland friends who, with generous zeal,
have taken many a backward glance at their country for my sake,
seeing it as it looked twenty years ago, when the Brinker home
stood unnoticed in sunlight and shadow.

Should this simple narrative serve to give my young readers a
just idea of Holland and its resources, or present true pictures
of its inhabitants and their every-day life, or free them from
certain current prejudices concerning that noble and enterprising
people, the leading desire in writing it will have been
satisfied.

Should it cause even one heart to feel a deeper trust in God's
goodness and love, or aid any in weaving a life, wherein, through
knots and entanglements, the golden thread shall never be
tarnished or broken, the prayer with which it was begun and ended
will have been answered.

--M.M.D.




A LETTER FROM HOLLAND



Amsterdam, July 30, 1873


DEAR BOYS AND GIRLS AT HOME:

If you all could be here with me today, what fine times we might
have walking through this beautiful Dutch city!  How we should
stare at the crooked houses, standing with their gable ends to
the street; at the little slanting mirrors fastened outside of
the windows; at the wooden shoes and dogcarts nearby; the
windmills in the distance; at the great warehouses; at the
canals, doing the double duty of streets and rivers, and at the
singular mingling of trees and masts to be seen in every
direction.  Ah, it would be pleasant, indeed!  But here I sit in
a great hotel looking out upon all these things, knowing quite
well that not even the spirit of the Dutch, which seems able to
accomplish anything, can bring you at this moment across the
moment.  There is one comfort, however, in going through these
wonderful Holland towns without you--it would be dreadful to have
any of the party tumble into the canals; and then these lumbering
Dutch wagons, with their heavy wheels, so very far apart; what
should I do if a few dozen of you were to fall under THEM?  And,
perhaps, one of the wildest of my boys might harm a stork, and
then all Holland would be against us!  No.  It is better as it
is.  You will be coming, one by one, as years go on, to see the
whole thing for yourselves.

Holland is as wonderful today as it was when, more than twenty
years ago, Hans and Gretel skated on the frozen Y.  In fact,
more wonderful, for every day increases the marvel of its not
being washed away by the sea.  Its cities have grown, and some of
its peculiarities have been washed away by contact with other
nations; but it is Holland still, and always will be--full of
oddity, courage and industry--the pluckiest little country on
earth.  I shall not tell you in this letter of its customs, its
cities, its palaces, churches, picture galleries and museums--for
these are described in the story--except to say that they are
here still, just the same, in this good year 1873, for I have
seen them nearly all within a week.

Today an American boy and I, seeing some children enter an old
house in the business part of Amsterdam, followed them in--and
what do you think we found?  An old woman, here in the middle of
summer, selling hot water and fire!  She makes her living by it. 
All day long she sits tending her great fires of peat and keeping
the shining copper tanks above them filled with water.  The
children who come and go carry away in a curious stone pail their
kettle of boiling water and their blocks of burning peat.  For
these they give her a Dutch cent, which is worth less than half
of one of ours.  In this way persons who cannot afford to keep a
fire burning in hot weather may yet have their cup of tea or
coffee and bit of boiled fish and potato.

After leaving the old fire woman, who nodded a pleasant good-bye
to us, and willingly put our stivers in her great outside pocket,
we drove through the streets enjoying the singular sights of a
public washing day.  Yes, in certain quarters of the city, away
from the canals, the streets were lively with washerwomen hard at
work.  Hundreds of them in clumsy wooden shoes, with their
tucked-up skirts, bare arms, and close-fitting caps, were bending
over tall wooden tubs that reached as high as their
waists--gossiping and rubbing, rubbing and gossiping--with
perfect unconcern, in the public thoroughfare, and all washing
with cold water instead of using hot, as we do.  What a grand
thing it would be for our old fire woman if boiling water were
suddenly to become the fashion on these public washing days!

And now goodbye.  Oh!  I must tell you one more thing.  We found
today in an Amsterdam bookstore this story of Hans Brinker told
in Dutch.  It is a queer-looking volume, beautifully printed, and
with colored pictures, but filled with such astounding words that
it really made me feel sorry for the little Hollanders who are to
read them.

Good-bye again, in the touching words of our Dutch translator
with whom I'm sure you'll heartily agree:  Toch ben ik er mijn
landgenooten dank baar voor, die mijn arbeid steeds zoo
welwillend outvangen en wier genegenheid ik voortdurend hoop te
verdienen.

Yours affectionately,
The Author.




Contents



Hans and Gretel
Holland
The Silver Skates
Hans and Gretel Find a Friend
Shadows in the Home
Sunbeams
Hans Has His Way
Introducing Jacob Poot and His Cousin
The Festival of Saint Nicholas
What the Boys Saw and Did in Amsterdam
Big Manias and Little Oddities
On the Way to Haarlem
A Catastrophe
Hans
Homes
Haarlem--The Boys Hear Voices
The Man with Four Heads
Friends in Need
On the Canal
Jacob Poot Changes the Plan
Mynheer Kleef and His Bill of Fare
The Red Lion Becomes Dangerous
Before the Court
The Beleaguered Cities
Leyden
The Palace in the Wood
The Merchant Prince and the Sister-Princess
Through the Hague
A Day of Rest
Homeward Bound
Boys and Girls
The Crisis
Gretel and Hilda
The Awakening
Bones and Tongues
A New Alarm
The Father's Return
The Thousand Guilders
Glimpses
Looking for Work
The Fairy Godmother
The Mysterious Watch
A Discovery
The Race
Joy in the Cottage
Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Higgs
Broad Sunshine
Conclusion




Hans and Gretel



On a bright December morning long ago, two thinly clad children
were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen canal in Holland.

The sun had not yet appeared, but the gray sky was parted near
the horizon, and its edges shone crimson with the coming day. 
Most of the good Hollanders were enjoying a placid morning nap. 
Even Mynheer von Stoppelnoze, that worthy old Dutchman, was still
slumbering "in beautiful repose".

Now and then some peasant woman, poising a well-filled basket
upon her head, came skimming over the glassy surface of the
canal; or a lusty boy, skating to his day's work in the town,
cast a good-natured grimace toward the shivering pair as he flew
along.

Meanwhile, with many a vigorous puff and pull, the brother and
sister, for such they were, seemed to be fastening something to
their feet--not skates, certainly, but clumsy pieces of wood
narrowed and smoothed at their lower edge, and pierced with
holes, through which were threaded strings of rawhide.

These queer-looking affairs had been made by the boy Hans.  His
mother was a poor peasant woman, too poor even to think of such a
thing as buying skates for her little ones.  Rough as these were,
they had afforded the children many a happy hour upon the ice. 
And now, as with cold, red fingers our young Hollanders tugged at
the strings--their solemn faces bending closely over their
knees--no vision of impossible iron runners came to dull the
satisfaction glowing within.

In a moment the boy arose and, with a pompous swing of the arms
and a careless "Come on, Gretel," glided easily across the canal.

"Ah, Hans," called his sister plaintively, "this foot is not well
yet.  The strings hurt me on last market day, and now I cannot
bear them tied in the same place."

"Tie them higher up, then," answered Hans, as without looking at
her he performed a wonderful cat's cradle step on the ice.

"How can I?  The string is too short."

Giving vent to a good-natured Dutch whistle, the English of which
was that girls were troublesome creatures, he steered toward her.

"You are foolish to wear such shoes, Gretel, when you have a
stout leather pair.  Your klompen *{Wooden shoes.} would be
better than these."

"Why, Hans!  Do you forget?  The father threw my beautiful new
shoes in the fire.  Before I knew what he had done, they were all
curled up in the midst o the burning peat.  I can skate with
these, but not with my wooden ones.  Be careful now--"

Hans had taken a string from his pocket.  Humming a tune as he
knelt beside her, he proceeded to fasten Gretel's skate with all
the force of his strong young arm.

"Oh! oh!" she cried in real pain.

With an impatient jerk Hans unwound the string.  He would have
cast it on the ground in true big-brother style, had he not just
then spied a tear trickling down his sister's cheek.

"I'll fix it--never fear," he said with sudden tenderness, "but
we must be quick.  The mother will need us soon."

Then he glanced inquiringly about him, first at the ground, next
at some bare willow branches above his head, and finally at the
sky, now gorgeous with streaks of blue, crimson, and gold.

Finding nothing in any of these localities to meet his need, his
eye suddenly brightened as, with the air of a fellow who knew
what he was about, he took off his cap and, removing the tattered
lining, adjusted it in a smooth pad over the top of Gretel's
worn-out shoe.

"Now," he cried triumphantly, at the same time arranging the
strings as briskly as his benumbed fingers would allow, "can you
bear some pulling?"

Gretel drew up her lips as if to say, "Hurt away," but made no
further response.

In another moment they were all laughing together, as hand in
hand they flew along the canal, never thinking whether the ice
would bear them or not, for in Holland ice is generally an
all-winter affair.  It settles itself upon the water in a
determined kind of way, and so far from growing thin and
uncertain every time the sun is a little severe upon it, it
gathers its forces day by day and flashes defiance to every beam.

Presently, squeak! squeak! sounded something beneath Hans' feet. 
next his strokes grew shorter, ending oftimes with a jerk, and
finally, he lay sprawling upon the ice, kicking against the air
with many a fantastic flourish.

"Ha! ha!" laughed Gretel.  "That was a fine tumble!"  But a
tender heart was beating under her coarse blue jacket, and even
as she laughed, she came, with a graceful sweep, close to her
prostrate brother.

"Are you hurt, Hans?  Oh, you are laughing!  Catch me now!"  And
she darted away, shivering no longer, but with cheeks all aglow
and eyes sparkling with fun.

Hans sprang to his feet and started in brisk pursuit, but it was
no easy thing to catch Gretel.  Before she had traveled very far,
her skates, too, began to squeak.

Believing that discretion was the better part of valor, she
turned suddenly and skated into her pursuer's arms.

"Ha! ha! I've caught you!" cried Hans.

"Ha! ha! I caught YOU," she retorted, struggling to free
herself.

Just then a clear, quick voice was heard calling, "Hans! 
Gretel!"

"It's the mother," said Hans, looking solemn in an instant.

By this time the canal was gilded with sunlight.  The pure
morning air was very delightful, and skaters were gradually
increasing in numbers.  It was hard to obey the summons.  But
Gretel and Hans were good children; without a thought of yielding
to the temptation to linger, they pulled off their skates,
leaving half the knots still tied.  Hans, with his great square
shoulders and bushy yellow hair, towered high above his blue-eyed
little sister as they trudged homeward.  He was fifteen years old
and Gretel was only twelve.  He was a solid, hearty-looking boy,
with honest eyes and a brow that seemed to bear a sign GOODNESS
WITHIN just as the little Dutch zomerhuis *{Summer house} wears
a motto over its portal.  Gretel was lithe and quick; her eyes
had a dancing light in them, and while you looked at her cheek
the color paled and deepened just as it does upon a bed of pink
and white blossoms when the wind is blowing.

As soon as the children turned from the canal, they could see
their parents' cottage.  Their mother's tall form, arrayed in
jacket and petticoat and close-fitting cap, stood, like a
picture, in the crooked frame of the doorway.  Had the cottage
been a mile away, it would still have seemed near.  In that flat
country every object stands out plainly in the distance; the
chickens show as distinctly as the windmills.  Indeed, were it
not for the dikes and the high banks of the canals, one could
stand almost anywhere in middle Holland without seeing a mound or
a ridge between the eye and the "jumping-off place."

None had better cause to know the nature of these same dikes than
Dame Brinker and the panting youngsters now running at her call. 
But before stating WHY, let me ask you to take a rocking-chair
trip with me to that far country where you may see, perhaps for
the first time, some curious things that Hans and Gretel saw
every day.




Holland



Holland is one of the queerest countries under the sun.  It
should be called Odd-land or Contrary-land, for in nearly
everything it is different from the other parts of the world.  In
the first place, a large portion of the country is lower than the
level of the sea.  Great dikes, or bulwarks, have been erected at
a heavy cost of money and labor to keep the ocean where it
belongs.  On certain parts of the coast it sometimes leans with
all its weight against the land, and it is as much as the poor
country can do to stand the pressure.  Sometimes the dikes give
way or spring a leak, and the most disastrous results ensue. 
They are high and wide, and the tops of some of them are covered
with buildings and trees.  They have even fine public roads on
them, from which horses may look down upon wayside cottages. 
Often the keels of floating ships are higher than the roofs of
the dwellings.  The stork clattering to her young on the house
peak may feel that her nest is lifted far out of danger, but the
croaking frog in neighboring bulrushes is nearer the stars than
she.  Water bugs dart backward and forward above the heads of the
chimney swallows, and willow trees seem drooping with shame,
because they cannot reach as high as the reeds nearby.

Ditches, canals, ponds, rivers, and lakes are everywhere to be
seen.  High, but not dry, they shine in the sunlight, catching
nearly all the bustle and the business, quite scorning the tame
fields stretching damply beside them.  One is tempted to ask,
"Which is Holland--the shores or the water?"  The very verdure
that should be confined to the land has made a mistake and
settled upon the fish ponds.  In fact, the entire country is a
kind of saturated sponge or, as the English poet, Butler, called
it,


A land that rides at anchor, and is moor'd,
In which they do not live, but go aboard.


Persons are born, live, and die, and even have their gardens on
canal-boats.  Farmhouses, with roofs like great slouched hats
pulled over their eyes, stand on wooden legs with a tucked-up
sort of air, as if to say, "We intend to keep dry if we can." 
Even the horses wear a wide stool on each hoof as if to lift them
out of the mire.  In short, the landscape everywhere suggests a
paradise for ducks.  It is a glorious country in summer for
barefoot girls and boys.  Such wading!  Such mimic ship sailing! 
Such rowing, fishing, and swimming!  Only think of a chain of
puddles where one can launch chip boats all day long and never
make a return trip!  But enough.  A full recital would set all
young America rushing in a body toward the Zuider Zee.

Dutch cities seem at first sight to be a bewildering jungle of
houses, bridges, churches, and ships, sprouting into masts,
steeples, and trees.  In some cities vessels are hitched like
horses to their owners' doorposts and receive their freight from
the upper windows.  Mothers scream to Lodewyk and Kassy not to
swing on the garden gate for fear they may be drowned!  Water
roads are more frequent there than common roads and railways;
water fences in the form of lazy green ditches enclose
pleasure-ground, farm, and garden.

Sometimes fine green hedges are seen, but wooden fences such as
we have in America are rarely met with in Holland.  As for stone
fences, a Dutchman would lift his hands with astonishment at the
very idea.  There is no stone there, except for those great
masses of rock that have been brought from other lands to
strengthen and protect the coast.  All the small stones or
pebbles, if there ever were any, seem to be imprisoned in
pavements or quite melted away.  Boys with strong, quick arms may
grow from pinafores to full beards without ever finding one to
start the water rings or set the rabbits flying.  The water roads
are nothing less than canals intersecting the country in every
direction.  These are of all sizes, from the great North Holland
Ship Canal, which is the wonder of the world, to those which a
boy can leap.  Water omnibuses, called trekschuiten, *{Canal
boats.  Some of the first named are over thirty feet long.  They
look like green houses lodged on barges and are drawn by horses
walking along the bank of the canal.  The trekschuiten are
divided into two compartments, first and second class, and when
not too crowded, the passengers make themselves quite at home in
them; the men smoke, the women knit or sew, while children play
upon the small outer deck.  Many of the canal boats have white,
yellow, or chocolate-colored sails.  This last color is caused by
a tanning preparation which is put on to preserve them.}
constantly ply up and down these roads for the conveyance of
passengers; and water drays, called pakschuyten, are used for
carrying fuel and merchandise.  Instead of green country lanes,
green canals stretch from field to barn and from barn to garden;
and the farms, or polders, as they are termed, are merely great
lakes pumped dry.  Some of the busiest streets are water, while
many of the country roads are paved with brick.  The city boats
with their rounded sterns, gilded prows, and gaily painted sides,
are unlike any others under the sun; and a Dutch wagon, with its
funny little crooked pole, is a perfect mystery of mysteries.

"One thing is clear," cries Master Brightside, "the inhabitants
need never be thirsty."  But no, Odd-land is true to itself
still.  Notwithstanding the sea pushing to get in, and the lakes
struggling to get out, and the overflowing canals, rivers, and
ditches, in many districts there is no water fit to swallow; our
poor Hollanders must go dry or drink wine and beer or send far
into the inland to Utrecht and other favored localities for that
precious fluid older than Adam yet younger than the morning dew. 
Sometimes, indeed, the inhabitants can swallow a shower when they
are provided with any means of catching it; but generally they
are like the albatross-haunted sailors in Coleridge's famous poem
"The Ancient Mariner."  They see


     Water, Water, everywhere,
     Nor any drop to drink!


Great flapping windmills all over the country make it look as if
flocks of huge sea birds were just settling upon it.  Everywhere
one sees the funniest trees, bobbed into fantastical shapes, with
their trunks painted a dazzling white, yellow, or red.  Horses
are often yoked three abreast.  Men, women, and children go
clattering about in wooden shoes with loose heels; peasant girls
who cannot get beaux for love, hire them for money to escort them
to the kermis, *{Fair.} and husbands and wives lovingly harness
themselves side by side on the bank of the canal and drag their
pakschuyts to market.

Another peculiar feature of Holland is the dune, or sand hill. 
These are numerous along certain portions of the coast.  Before
they were sown with coarse reed grass and other plants, to hold
them down, they used to send great storms of sand over the
inland.  So, to add to the oddities, the farmers sometimes dig
down under the surface to find their soil, and on windy days DRY
SHOWERS (of sand) often fall upon fields that have grown wet
under a week of sunshine.

In short, almost the only familiar thing we Yankees can meet with
in Holland is a harvest song which is quite popular there, though
no linguist could translate it.  Even then we must shut our eyes
and listen only to the tune, which I leave you to guess.


     Yanker didee dudel down
         Didee dudel lawnter;
     Yankee viver, voover, vown,
         Botermelk and Tawnter!


On the other hand, many of the oddities of Holland serve only to
prove the thrift and perseverance of the people.  There is not a
richer or more carefully tilled garden spot in the whole world
than this leaky, springy little country.  There is not a braver,
more heroic race than its quite, passive-looking inhabitants. 
Few nations have equalled it in important discoveries and
inventions; none has excelled it in commerce, navigation,
learning, and science--or set as noble examples in the promotion
of education and public charities; and none in proportion to its
extent has expended more money or labor upon public works.

Holland has its shining annals of noble and illustrious men and
women; its grand, historic records of patience, resistance, and
victory; its religious freedom; its enlightened enterprise; its
art, music, and literature.  It has truly been called "the
battlefield of Europe"; as truly may we consider it the asylum of
the world, for the oppressed of every nation have there found
shelter and encouragement.  If we Americans, who after all are
homeopathic preparations of Holland stock, can laugh at the
Dutch, and call them human beavers and hint that their country
may float off any day at high tide, we can also feel proud, and
say they have proved themselves heroes and that their country
will not float off while there is a Dutchman left to grapple it.

There are said to be at least ninety-nine hundred large windmills
in Holland, with sails ranging from eighty to one hundred and
twenty feet long.  They are employed in sawing timber, beating
hemp, grinding, and many other kinds of work; but their principal
use is for pumping water from the lowlands into the canals, and
for guarding against the inland freshets that so often deluge the
country.  Their yearly cost is said to be nearly ten million
dollars.  The large ones are of great power.  The huge circular
tower, rising sometimes from the midst of factory buildings, is
surmounted with a smaller one tapering into a caplike roof.  This
upper tower is encircled at its base with a balcony, high above
which juts the axis turned by its four prodigious ladder-back
sails.

Many of the windmills are primitive affairs, seeming sadly in
need of Yankee "improvements," but some of the new ones are
admirable.  They are constructed so that by some ingenious
contrivance they present their fans, or wings, to the wind in
precisely the right direction to work with the requisite power. 
In other words, the miller may take a nap and feel quite sure
that his mill will study the wind and make the most of it, until
he wakens.  Should there be but a slight current of air, every
sail will spread itself to catch the faintest breath, but if a
heavy "blow" should come, they will shrink at its touch, like
great mimosa leaves, and only give it half a chance to move them.

One of the old prisons of Amsterdam, called the Rasphouse,
because the thieves and vagrants who were confined there were
employed in rasping logwood, had a cell for the punishment of
lazy prisoners.  In one corner of this cell was a pump, and in
another, an opening through which a steady stream of water was
admitted.  The prisoner could take his choice, either to stand
still and be drowned or to work for dear life at the pump and
keep the flood down until his jailer chose to relieve him.  Now
it seems to me that, throughout Holland, nature has introduced
this little diversion on a grand scale.  The Dutch have always
been forced to pump for their very existence and probably must
continue to do so to the end of time.

Every year millions of dollars are spent in repairing dikes and
regulating water levels.  If these important duties were
neglected, the country would be uninhabitable.  Already dreadful
consequences, as I have said, have followed the bursting of these
dikes.  Hundreds of villages and towns have from time to time
been buried beneath the rush of waters, and nearly a million
persons have been destroyed.  One of the most fearful inundations
ever known occurred in the autumn of the year 1570.  Twenty-eight
terrible floods had before that time overwhelmed portions of
Holland, but this was the most terrible of all.  The unhappy
country had long been suffering under Spanish tyranny; now, it
seemed, the crowning point was given to its troubles.  When we
read Motley's history of the rise of the Dutch republic, we learn
to revere the brave people who have endured, suffered, and dared
so much.

Mr. Motley, in his thrilling account of the great inundation,
tells us how a long-continued and violent gale had been sweeping
the Atlantic waters into the North Sea, piling them against the
coasts of the Dutch provinces; how the dikes, taxed beyond their
strength, burst in all directions; how even the Hand-bos, a
bulwark formed of oaken piles, braced with iron, moored with
heavy anchors, and secured by gravel and granite, was snapped to
pieces like thread; how fishing boats and bulky vessels floating
up into the country became entangled among the trees or beat in
the roofs and walls of dwellings, and how, at last, all Friesland
was converted into an angry sea.  "Multitudes of men, women,
children, of horses, oxen, sheep, and every domestic animal, were
struggling in the waves in every direction.  Every boat and every
article which could serve as a boat was eagerly seized upon. 
Every house was inundated; even the graveyards gave up their
dead.  The living infant in his cradle and the long-buried corpse
in his coffin floated side by side.  The ancient flood seemed
about to be renewed.  Everywhere, upon the tops of trees, upon
the steeples of churches, human beings were clustered, praying to
God for mercy and to their fellow men for assistance.  As the
storm at last was subsiding, boats began to ply in every
direction, saving those who were struggling in the water, picking
fugitives from roofs and treetops, and collecting the bodies of
those already drowned."  No less than one hundred thousand human
beings had perished in a few hours.  Thousands upon thousands of
dumb creatures lay dead upon the waters, and the damage to
property was beyond calculation.

Robles, the Spanish governor, was foremost in noble efforts to
save life and lessen the horrors of the catastrophe.  He had
previously been hated by the Dutch because of his Spanish or
Portuguese blood, but by his goodness and activity in their hour
of disaster, he won all hearts to gratitude.  He soon introduced
an improved method of constructing the dikes and passed a law
that they should in future be kept up by the owners of the soil. 
There were fewer heavy floods from this time, though within less
than three hundred years, six fearful inundations swept over the
land.

In the spring there is always great danger of inland freshets,
especially in times of thaw, because the rivers, choked with
blocks of ice, overflow before they can discharge their rapidly
rising waters into the ocean.  Adding to this that the sea chafes
and presses against the dikes, it is no wonder that Holland is
often in a state of alarm.  The greatest care is taken to prevent
accidents.  Engineers and workmen are stationed all along in
threatened places, and a close watch is kept up night and day. 
When a general signal of danger is given, the inhabitants all
rush to the rescue, eager to combine against their common foe. 
As, everywhere else, straw is supposed to be of all things the
most helpless in the water, of course, in Holland, it must be
rendered the mainstay against a rushing tide.  Huge straw mats
are pressed against the embankments, fortified with clay and
heavy stone, and once adjusted, the ocean dashes against them in
vain.

Raff Brinker, the father of Gretel and Hans, had for years been
employed upon the dikes.  It was at the time of a threatened
inundation, when in the midst of a terrible storm, in darkness
and sleet, the men were laboring at a weak spot near the Veermyk
sluice, that he fell from the scaffolding and became insensible. 
From that hour he never worked again; though he lived on, mind
and memory were gone.

Gretel could not remember him otherwise than as the strange,
silent man whose eyes followed her vacantly whichever way she
turned, but Hans had recollections of a hearty, cheerful-voiced
father who was never tired of bearing him upon his shoulder and
whose careless song still seemed echoing near when he lay awake
at night and listened.




The Silver Skates



Dame Brinker earned a scant support for her family by raising
vegetables, spinning, and knitting.  Once she had worked on board
the barges plying up and down the canal and had occasionally been
harnessed with other women to the towing rope of a pakschuyt
plying between Broek and Amsterdam.  But when Hans had grown
strong and large, he had insisted on doing all such drudgery in
her place.  Besides, her husband had become so very helpless of
late that he required her constant care.  Although not having as
much intelligence as a little child, he was yet strong of arm and
very hearty, and Dame Brinker had sometimes great trouble in
controlling him.

"Ah! children, he was so good and steady," she would sometimes
say, "and as wise as a lawyer.  Even the burgomaster would stop
to ask him a question, and now, alack! he doesn't know his wife
and little ones.  You remember the father, Hans, when he was
himself--a great brave man--don't you?"

"Yes, indeed, Mother, he knew everything and could do anything
under the sun--and how he would sing!  Why, you used to laugh and
say it was enough to set the windmills dancing."

"So I did.  Bless me! how the boy remembers!  Gretel, child, take
that knitting needle from your father, quick; he'll get it in his
eyes maybe; and put the shoe on him.  His poor feet are like ice
half the time, but I can't keep 'em covered, all I can do--"  And
then, half wailing, half humming, Dame Brinker would sit down and
fill the low cottage with the whirr of her spinning wheel.

Nearly all the outdoor work, as well as the household labor, was
performed by Hans and Gretel.  At certain seasons of the year the
children went out day after day to gather peat, which they would
stow away in square, bricklike pieces, for fuel.  At other times,
when homework permitted, Hans rode the towing-horses on the
canals, earning a few stivers *{A stiver is worth about two
cents of our money.} a day, and Gretel tended geese for the
neighboring farmers.

Hans was clever at carving in wood, and both he and Gretel were
good gardeners.  Gretel could sing and sew and run on great, high
homemade stilts better than any other girl for miles around.  She
could learn a ballad in five minutes and find, in its season, any
weed or flower you could name; but she dreaded books, and often
the very sight of the figuring board in the old schoolhouse would
set her eyes swimming.  Hans, on the contrary, was slow and
steady.  The harder the task, whether in study or daily labor,
the better he liked it.  Boys who sneered at him out of school,
on account of his patched clothes and scant leather breeches,
were forced to yield him the post of honor in nearly every class. 
It was not long before he was the only youngster in the school
who had not stood at least ONCE in the corner of horrors, where
hung a dreaded whip, and over it this motto:  "Leer, leer! jou
luigaart, of dit endje touw zal je leeren!" *{Learn! learn! you
idler, or this rope's end shall teach you.}

It was only in winter that Gretel and Hans could be spared to
attend school, and for the past month they had been kept at home
because their mother needed their services.  Raff Brinker
required constant attention, and there was black bread to be
made, and the house to be kept clean, and stockings and other
things to be knitted and sold in the marketplace.

While they were busily assisting their mother on this cold
December morning, a merry troop of girls and boys came skimming
down the canal.  There were fine skaters among them, and as the
bright medley of costumes flitted by, it looked from a distance
as though the ice had suddenly thawed and some gay tulip bed were
floating along on the current.

There was the rich burgomaster's daughter Hilda van Gleck, with
her costly furs and loose-fitting velvet sack; and, nearby, a
pretty peasant girl, Annie Bouman, jauntily attired in a coarse
scarlet jacket and a blue skirt just short enough to display the
gray homespun hose to advantage.  Then there was the proud Rychie
Korbes, whose father, Mynheer van Korbes, was one of the leading
men of Amsterdam; and, flocking closely around her, Carl
Schummel, Peter and Ludwig van Holp, Jacob Poot, and a very small
boy rejoicing in the tremendous name of Voostenwalbert
Schimmelpenninck.  There were nearly twenty other boys and girls
in the party, and one and all seemed full of excitement and
frolic.

Up and down the canal within the space of a half mile they
skated, exerting their racing powers to the utmost.  Often the
swiftest among them was seen to dodge from under the very nose of
some pompous lawgiver or doctor who, with folded arms, was
skating leisurely toward the town; or a chain of girls would
suddenly break at the approach of a fat old burgomaster who, with
gold-headed cane poised in air, was puffing his way to Amsterdam. 
Equipped in skates wonderful to behold, with their superb
strappings and dazzling runners curving over the instep and
topped with gilt balls, he would open his fat eyes a little if
one of the maidens chanced to drop him a curtsy but would not
dare to bow in return for fear of losing his balance.

Not only pleasure seekers and stately men of note were upon the
canal.  There were workpeople, with weary eyes, hastening to
their shops and factories; market women with loads upon their
heads; peddlers bending with their packs; bargemen with shaggy
hair and bleared faces, jostling roughly on their way; kind-eyed
clergymen speeding perhaps to the bedsides of the dying; and,
after a while, groups of children with satchels slung over their
shoulders, whizzing past, toward the distant school.  One and all
wore skates except, indeed, a muffled-up farmer whose queer cart
bumped along on the margin of the canal.

Before long our merry boys and girls were almost lost in the
confusion of bright colors, the ceaseless motion, and the
gleaming of skates flashing back the sunlight.  We might have
known no more of them had not the whole party suddenly come to a
standstill and, grouping themselves out of the way of the
passersby, all talked at once to a pretty little maiden, whom
they had drawn from the tide of people flowing toward the town.

"Oh, Katrinka!" they cried in one breath, "have you heard of it? 
The race--we want you to join!"

"What race?" asked Katrinka, laughing.  "Don't all talk at once,
please, I can't understand."

Everyone panted and looked at Rychie Korbes, who was their
acknowledged spokeswoman.

"Why," said Rychie, "we are to have a grand skating match on the
twentieth, on Mevrouw van Gleck's birthday.  It's all Hilda's
work.  They are going to give a splendid prize to the best
skater."

"Yes," chimed in half a dozen voices," a beautiful pair of silver
skates--perfectly magnificent--with, oh! such straps and silver
bells and buckles!"

"WHO said they had bells?" put in a small voice of the boy with
the big name.

"I say so, Master Voost," replied Rychie.

"So they have"; "No, I'm sure they haven't"; "OH, how can you
say so?"; "It's an arrow"; "And Mynheer van Korbes told MY
mother they had bells"--came from the excited group, but Mynheer
Voostenwalbert Schimmelpenninck essayed to settle the matter with
a decisive "Well, you don't any of you know a single thing about
it; they haven't a sign of a bell on them, they--"

"Oh! oh!" and the chorus of conflicting opinions broke forth
again.

"The girls' pair is to have bells," interposed Hilda quietly,
"but there is to be another pair for the boys with an arrow
engraved upon the sides."

"THERE!  I told you so!" cried nearly all the youngsters in one
breath.

Katrinka looked at them with bewildered eyes.

"Who is to try?" she asked.

"All of us," answered Rychie.  "It will be such fun!  And you
must, too, Katrinka.  But it's schooltime now, we will talk it
all over at noon.  Oh! you will join, of course."

Katrinka, without replying, made a graceful pirouette and
laughing out a coquettish, "Don't you hear the last bell?  Catch
me!" darted off toward the schoolhouse standing half a mile away
on the canal.

All started, pell-mell, at this challenge, but they tried in vain
to catch the bright-eyed, laughing creature who, with golden hair
streaming in the sunlight, cast back many a sparkling glance of
triumph as she floated onward.

Beautiful Katrinka!  Flushed with youth and health, all life and
mirth and motion, what wonder thine image, ever floating in
advance, sped through one boy's dreams that night!  What wonder
that it seemed his darkest hour when, years afterward, thy
presence floated away from him forever.




Hans and Gretel Find a Friend



At noon our young friends poured forth from the schoolhouse,
intent upon having an hour's practice upon the canal.

They had skated but a few moments when Carl Schummel said
mockingly to Hilda, "There's a pretty pair just coming upon the
ice!  The little ragpickers!  Their skates must have been a
present from the king direct."

"They are patient creatures," said Hilda gently.  "It must have
been hard to learn to skate upon such queer affairs.  They are
very poor peasants, you see.  The boy has probably made the
skates himself."

Carl was somewhat abashed.

"Patient they may be, but as for skating, they start off pretty
well, only to finish with a jerk.  They could move well to your
new staccato piece, I think."

Hilda laughed pleasantly and left him.  After joining a small
detachment of the racers and sailing past every one of them, she
halted beside Gretel, who, with eager eyes, had been watching the
sport.

"What is your name, little girl?"

"Gretel, my lady," answered the child, somewhat awed by Hilda's
rank, though they were nearly of the same age, "and my brother is
called Hans."

"Hans is a stout fellow," said Hilda cheerily, "and seems to have
a warm stove somewhere within him, but YOU look cold.  You
should wear more clothing, little one."

Gretel, who had nothing else to wear, tried to laugh as she
answered, "I am not so very little.  I am past twelve years old."

"Oh, I beg your pardon.  You see, I am nearly fourteen, and so
large for my age that other girls seem small to me, but that is
nothing.  Perhaps you will shoot up far above me yet, but not
unless you dress more warmly, though.  Shivering girls never
grow."

Hans flushed as he saw tears rising in Gretel's eyes.

"My sister has not complained of the cold, but this is bitter
weather, they all say."  And he looked sadly upon Gretel.

"It is nothing," said Gretel.  "I am often warm--too warm when I
am skating.  You are good, jufvrouw, *{Miss; young lady
(pronounced yuffrow).  In studied or polite address it would be
jongvrowe (pronounced youngfrow).} to think of it."

"No, no," answered Hilda, quite angry at herself.  "I am
careless, cruel, but I meant no harm.  I wanted to ask you--I
mean, if--"  And here Hilda, coming to the point of her errand,
faltered before the poorly clad but noble-looking children she
wished to serve.

"What is it, young lady?" exclaimed Hans eagerly.  "If there is
any service I can do, any--"

"Oh, no, no," laughed Hilda, shaking off her embarrassment.  "I
only wished to speak to you about the grand race.  Why do you not
join it?  You both can skate well, and the ranks are free. 
Anyone may enter for the prize."

Gretel looked wistfully at Hans, who, tugging at his cap,
answered respectfully.

"Ah, jufvrouw, even if we could enter, we could skate only a few
strokes with the rest.  Our skates are hard wood, you
see"--holding up the sole of his foot--"but they soon become
damp, and then they stick and trip us."

Gretel's eyes twinkled with fun as she thought of Hans's mishap
in the morning, but she blushed as she faltered out timidly, "Oh,
no, we can't join, but may we be there, my lady, on the great day
to look on?"

"Certainly," answered Hilda, looking kindly into the two earnest
faces and wishing from her heart that she had not spent so much
of her monthly allowance for lace and finery.  She had but eight
kwartjes *{A kwartje is a small silver coin worth one-quarter of
a guilder, or ten cents in American currency.} left, and they
would buy but one pair of skates, at the furthest.

Looking down with a sigh at the two pairs of feet so very
different in size, she asked:

"Which of you is the better skater?"

"Gretel," replied Hans promptly.

"Hans," answered Gretel in the same breath.

Hilda smiled.

"I cannot buy you each a pair of skates, or even one good pair,
but here are eight kwartjes.  Decide between you which stands
the best chance of winning the race, and buy the skates
accordingly.  I wish I had enough to buy better ones.  Good-bye!" 
And, with a nod and a smile, Hilda, after handing the money to
the electrified Hans, glided swiftly away to rejoin her
companions.

"Jufvrouw!  Jufvrouw van Gleck!" called Hans in a loud tone,
stumbling after her as well as he could, for one of his skate
strings was untied.

Hilda turned and, with one hand raised to shield her eyes from
the sun, seemed to him to be floating through the air, nearer and
nearer.

"We cannot take this money," panted Hans, "though we know your
goodness in giving it."

"Why not, indeed?" asked Hilda, flushing.

"Because," replied Hans, bowing like a clown but looking with the
eye of a prince at the queenly girl, "we have not earned it."

Hilda was quick-witted.  She had noticed a pretty wooden chain
upon Gretel's neck.

"Carve me a chain, Hans, like the one your sister wears."

"That I will, lady, with all my heart.  We have whitewood in the
house, fine as ivory; you shall have one tomorrow."  And Hans
hastily tried to return the money.

"No, no," said Hilda decidedly.  "That sum will be but a poor
price for the chain."  And off she darted outstripping the
fleetest among the skaters.

Hans sent a long, bewildered gaze after her; it was useless, he
felt, to make any further resistance.

"It is right," he muttered, half to himself, half to his faithful
shadow, Gretel.  "I must work hard every minute, and sit up half
the night if the mother will let me burn a candle, but the chain
shall be finished.  We may keep the money, Gretel."

"What a good little lady!" cried Gretel, clapping her hands with
delight.  "Oh! Hans, was it for nothing the stork settled on our
roof last summer?  Do you remember how the mother said it would
bring us luck and how she cried when Janzoon Kolp shot him?  And
she set it would bring him trouble.  But the luck has come to us
at last!  Now, Hans, if the mother sends us to town tomorrow, you
can buy the skates in the marketplace."

Hans shook his head.  "The young lady would have given us the
money to buy skates, but if I EARN it, Gretel, it shall be spent
for wool.  You must have a warm jacket."

"Oh!" cried Gretel in real dismay, "not buy the skates?  Why, I
am not often cold!  Mother says the blood runs up and down in
poor children's veins, humming, 'I must keep 'em warm!  I must
keep 'em warm.'

"Oh, Hans," she continued with something like a sob, "don't say
you won't buy the skates.  It makes me feel just like crying. 
Besides, I want to be cold.  I mean, I'm real, awful warm--so
now!"

Hans looked up hurriedly.  He had a true Dutch horror or tears,
or emotion of any kind, and most of all, he dreaded to see his
sisters' blue eyes overflowing.

"Now, mind," cried Gretel, seeing her advantage, "I'll feel awful
if you give up the skates.  I don't want them.  I'm not so
stingy as that; but I want YOU to have them, and then when I get
bigger, they'll do for me--oh--count the pieces, Hans.  Did you
ever see so many!"

Hans turned the money thoughtfully in his palm.  Never in all his
life had he longed so intensely for a pair of skates, for he had
known of the race and had fairly ached for a chance to test his
powers with the other children.  He felt confident that with a
good pair of steel runners he could readily outdistance most of
the boys on the canal.  Then, too, Gretel's argument was
plausible.  On the other hand, he knew that she, with her strong
but lithe little frame, needed but a week's practice on good
runners to make her a better skater than Rychie Korbes or even
Katrinka Flack.  As soon as this last thought flashed upon him,
his resolve was made.  If Gretel would not have the jacket, she
should have the skates.

"No, Gretel," he answered at last, "I can wait.  Someday I may
have money enough saved to buy a fine pair.  You shall have
these."

Gretel's eyes sparkled, but in another instant she insisted,
rather faintly, "The young lady gave the money to YOU, Hans. 
I'd be real bad to take it."

Hans shook his head resolutely as he trudged on, causing his
sister to half skip and half walk in her effort to keep beside
him.  By this time they had taken off their wooden "rockers" and
were hastening home to tell their mother the good news.

"Oh!  I know!" cried Gretel in a sprightly tone.  "You can do
this.  You can get a pair a little too small for you, and too big
for me, and we can take turns and use them.  Won't that be fine?"
Gretel clapped her hands again.

Poor Hans!  This was a strong temptation, but he pushed it away
from him, brave-hearted fellow that he was.

"Nonsense, Gretel.  You could never get on with a big pair.  You
stumbled about with these, like a blind chicken, before I curved
off the ends.  No, you must have a pair to fit exactly, and you
must practice every chance you can get, until the twentieth
comes.  My little Gretel shall win the silver skates."

Gretel could not help laughing with delight at the very idea.

"Hans!  Gretel!" called out a familiar voice.

"Coming, Mother!"

They hastened toward the cottage, Hans still shaking the pieces
of silver in his hand.

On the following day there was not a prouder nor a happier boy in
all Holland than Hans Brinker as he watched his sister, with many
a dexterous sweep, flying in and out among the skaters who at
sundown thronged the canal.  A warm jacket had been given her by
the kind-hearted Hilda, and the burst-out shoes had been cobbled
into decency by Dame Brinker.  As the little creature darted
backward and forward, flushed with enjoyment and quite
unconscious of the many wondering glances bent upon her, she felt
that the shining runners beneath her feet had suddenly turned
earth into fairyland while "Hans, dear, good Hans!" echoed itself
over and over again in her grateful heart.

"By den donder!" exclaimed Peter van Holp to Carl Schummel, "but
that little one in the red jacket and patched petticoat skates
well.  Gunst!  She has toes on her heels and eyes in the back of
her head!  See her!  It will be a joke if she gets in the race
and beats Katrinka Flack, after all."

"Hush! not so loud!" returned Carl, rather sneeringly.  "That
little lady in rags is the special pet of Hilda van Gleck.  Those
shining skates are her gift, if I make no mistake."

"So! so!" exclaimed Peter with a radiant smile, for Hilda was his
best friend.  "She has been at her good work there too!"  And
Mynheer van Holp, after cutting a double figure eight on the ice,
to say nothing of a huge P, then a jump and an H, glided onward
until he found himself beside Hilda.

Hand in hand, they skated together, laughingly at first, then
staidly talking in a low tone.

Strange to say, Peter van Holp soon arrived at a sudden
conviction that his little sister needed a wooden chain just like
Hilda's.

Two days afterwards, on Saint Nicholas's Eve, Hans, having burned
three candle ends and cut his thumb into the bargain, stood in
the marketplace at Amsterdam, buying another pair of skates.




Shadows in the Home



Good Dame Brinker!  As soon as the scanty dinner had been cleared
away that noon, she had arrayed herself in her holiday attire in
honor of Saint Nicholas.  It will brighten the children, she
thought to herself, and she was not mistaken.  This festival
dress had been worn very seldom during the past ten years; before
that time it had done good service and had flourished at many a
dance and kermis, when she was known, far and wide, as the
pretty Meitje Klenck.  The children had sometimes been granted
rare glimpses of it as it lay in state in the old oaken chest. 
Faded and threadbare as it was, it was gorgeous in their eyes,
with its white linen tucker, now gathered to her plump throat and
vanishing beneath the trim bodice of blue homespun, and its
reddish-brown skirt bordered with black.  The knitted woolen
mitts and the dainty cap showing her hair, which generally was
hidden, made her seem almost like a princess to Gretel, while
Master Hans grew staid and well-behaved as he gazed.

Soon the little maid, while braiding her own golden tresses,
fairly danced around her mother in an ecstasy of admiration.

"Oh, Mother, Mother, Mother, how pretty you are!  Look, Hans! 
Isn't it just like a picture?"

"Just like a picture," assented Hans cheerfully.  "JUST like a
picture--only I don't like those stocking things on the hands."

"Not like the mitts, brother Hans!  Why, they're very important. 
See, they cover up all the red.  Oh, Mother, how white your arm
is where the mitt leaves off, whiter than mine, oh, ever so much
whiter.  I declare, Mother, the bodice is tight for you.  You're
growing!  You're surely growing!"

Dame Brinker laughed.

"This was made long ago, lovey, when I wasn't much thicker about
the waist than a churn dasher.  And how do you like the cap?" she
asked, turning her head from side to side.

"Oh, EVER so much, Mother.  It's b-e-a-u-tiful!  See, the father
is looking!"

Was the father looking?  Alas! only with a dull stare.  His
vrouw turned toward him with a start, something like a blush
rising to her cheeks, a questioning sparkle in her eye.  The
bright look died away in an instant.

"No, no."  She sighed.  "He sees nothing.  Come, Hans"--and the
smile crept faintly back again--"don't stand gaping at me all
day, and the new skates waiting for you at Amsterdam."

"Ah, Mother," he answered, "you need so many things.  Why should
I buy skates?"

"Nonsense, child.  The money was given to you on purpose, or the
work was--it's all the same thing.  Go while the sun is high."

"Yes, and hurry back, Hans!" laughed Gretel.  "We'll race on the
canal tonight, if the mother lets us."

At the very threshold he turned to say, "Your spinning wheel
wants a new treadle, Mother."

"You can make it, Hans."

"So I can.  That will take no money.  But you need feathers and
wool and meal, and--"

"There, there!  That will do.  Your silver cannot buy everything. 
Ah!  Hans, if our stolen money would but come back on this bright
Saint Nicholas's Eve, how glad we would be!  Only last night I
prayed to the good saint--"

"Mother!" interrupted Hans in dismay.

"Why not, Hans?  Shame on you to reproach me for that!  I'm as
true a Protestant, in sooth, as any fine lady that walks into
church, but it's no wrong to turn sometimes to the good Saint
Nicholas.  Tut!  It's a likely story if one can't do that,
without one's children flaring up at it--and he the boys' and
girls' own saint.  Hoot!  Mayhap the colt is a steadier horse
than the mare?"

Hans knew his mother too well to offer a word in opposition when
her voice quickened and sharpened as it did now (it was often
sharp and quick when she spoke of the missing money), so he said
gently, "And what did you ask of good Saint Nicholas, Mother?"

"Why, never to give the thieves a wink of sleep till they brought
it back, to be sure, if he has the power to do such things, or
else to brighten our wits that we might find it ourselves.  Not a
sight have I had of it since the day before the dear father was
hurt--as you well know, Hans."

"That I do, Mother," he answered sadly, "though you have almost
pulled down the cottage in searching."

"Aye, but it was of no use," moaned the dame.  "'HIDERS make
best finders.'"

Hans started.  "Do you think the father could tell aught?"

"Aye, indeed," said Dame Brinker, nodding her head.  "I think so,
but that is no sign.  I never hold the same belief in the matter
two days.  Mayhap the father paid it off for the great silver
watch we have been guarding since that day.  But, no--I'll never
believe it."

"The watch was not worth a quarter of the money, Mother."

"No, indeed, and your father was a shrewd man up to the last
moment.  He was too steady and thrifty for silly doings."

"Where did the watch come from, I wonder," muttered Hans, half to
himself.

Dame Brinker shook her head and looked sadly toward her husband,
who sat staring blankly at the floor.  Gretel stood near him,
knitting.

"That we shall never know, Hans.  I have shown it to the father
many a time, but he does not know it from a potato.  When he came
in that dreadful night to supper, he handed the watch to me and
told me to take good care of it until he asked for it again. 
Just as he opened his lips to say more, Broom Klatterboost came
flying in with word that the dike was in danger.  Ah!  The waters
were terrible that Pinxter-week!  My man, alack, caught up his
tools and ran out.  That was the last I ever saw of him in his
right mind.  He was brought in again by midnight, nearly dead,
with his poor head all bruised and cut.  The fever passed off in
time, but never the dullness--THAT grew worse every day.  We
shall never know."

Hans had heard all this before.  More than once he had seen his
mother, in hours of sore need, take the watch from its hiding
place, half resolved to sell it, but she had always conquered the
temptation.

"No, Hans," she would say, "we must be nearer starvation than
this before we turn faithless to the father!"

A memory of some such scene crossed her son's mind now, for,
after giving a heavy sigh, and flipping a crumb of wax at Gretel
across the table, he said, "Aye, Mother, you have done bravely to
keep it--many a one would have tossed it off for gold long ago."

"And more shame for them!" exclaimed the dame indignantly.  "I
would not do it.  Besides, the gentry are so hard on us poor
folks that if they saw such a thing in our hands, even if we
told all, they might suspect the father of--"

Hans flushed angrily.

"They would not DARE to say such a thing, Mother!  If they did,
I'd. . ."

He clenched his fist and seemed to think that the rest of his
sentence was too terrible to utter in her presence.

Dame Brinker smiled proudly through her tears at this
interruption.

"Ah, Hans, thou'rt a true, brave lad.  We will never part company
with the watch.  In his dying hour the dear father might wake and
ask for it."

"Might WAKE, Mother!" echoed Hans.  "Wake--and know us?"

"Aye, child," almost whispered his mother, "such things have
been."

By this time Hans had nearly forgotten his proposed errand to
Amsterdam.  His mother had seldom spoken so familiarly to him. 
He felt himself now to be not only her son, but her friend, her
adviser:

"You are right, Mother.  We must never give up the watch.  For
the father's sake we will guard it always.  The money, though,
may come to light when we least expect it."

"Never!" cried Dame Brinker, taking the last stitch from her
needle with a jerk and laying the unfinished knitting heavily
upon her lap.  "There is no chance!  One thousand guilders--and
all gone in a day!  One thousand guilders.  Oh, what ever DID
become of them?  If they went in an evil way, the thief would
have confessed it on his dying bed.  he would not dare to die
with such guilt on his soul!"

"He may not be dead yet," said Hans soothingly.  "Any day we may
hear of him."

"Ah, child," she said in a changed tone, "what thief would ever
have come HERE?  It was always neat and clean, thank God, but
not fine, for the father and I saved and saved that we might have
something laid by.  'Little and often soon fills the pouch.'  We
found it so, in truth.  Besides, the father had a goodly sum
already, for service done to the Heernocht lands, at the time of
the great inundation.  Every week we had a guilder left over,
sometimes more; for the father worked extra hours and could get
high pay for his labor.  Every Saturday night we put something
by, except the time when you had the fever, Hans, and when Gretel
came.  At last the pouch grew so full that I mended an old
stocking and commenced again.  Now that I look back, it seems
that the money was up to the heel in a few sunny weeks.  There
was great pay in those days if a man was quick at engineer work. 
The stocking went on filling with copper and silver--aye, and
gold.  You may well open your eyes, Gretel.  I used to laugh and
tell the father it was not for poverty I wore my old gown.  And
the stocking went on filling, so full that sometimes when I woke
at night, I'd get up, soft and quiet, and go feel it in the
moonlight.  Then, on my knees, I would thank our Lord that my
little ones could in time get good learning, and that the father
might rest from labor in his old age.  Sometimes, at supper, the
father and I would talk about a new chimney and a good winter
room for the cow, but my man had finer plans even than that.  'A
big sail,' says he, 'catches the wind--we can do what we will
soon,' and then we would sing together as I washed my dishes. 
Ah, 'a smooth wind makes an easy rudder.'  Not a thing vexed me
from morning till night.  Every week the father would take out
the stocking and drop in the money and laugh and kiss me as we
tied it up together.  Up with you, Hans!  There you sit gaping,
and the day a-wasting!" added Dame Brinker tartly, blushing to
find that she had been speaking too freely to her boy.  "It's
high time you were on your way."

Hans had seated himself and was looking earnestly into her face. 
He arose and, in almost a whisper, asked, "Have you ever tried,
Mother?"

She understood him.

"Yes, child, often.  But the father only laughs, or he stares at
me so strange that I am glad to ask no more.  When you and Gretel
had the fever last winter, and our bread was nearly gone, and I
could earn nothing, for fear you would die while my face was
turned, oh!  I tried then!  I smoothed his hair and whispered to
him soft as a kitten, about the money--where it was, who had it? 
Alack!  He would pick at my sleeve and whisper gibberish till my
blood ran cold.  At last, while Gretel lay whiter than snow, and
you were raving on the bed, I screamed to him--it seemed as if he
MUST hear me--'Raff, where is our money?  Do you know aught of
the money, Raff?  The money in the pouch and the stocking, in
the big chest?'  But I might as well have talked to a stone.  I
might as--"

The mother's voice sounded so strange, and her eye was so bright,
that Hans, with a new anxiety, laid his hand upon her shoulder.

"Come, Mother," he said, "let us try to forget this money.  I am
big and strong.  Gretel, too, is very quick and willing.  Soon
all will be prosperous with us again.  Why, Mother, Gretel and I
would rather see thee bright and happy than to have all the
silver in the world, wouldn't we, Gretel?"

"The mother knows it," said Gretel, sobbing.




Sunbeams



Dame Brinker was startled at her children's emotion; glad, too,
for it proved how loving and true they were.

Beautiful ladies in princely homes often smile suddenly and
sweetly, gladdening the very air around them, but I doubt if
their smile be more welcome in God's sight than that which sprang
forth to cheer the roughly clad boy and girl in the humble
cottage.  Dame Brinker felt that she had been selfish.  Blushing
and brightening, she hastily wiped her eyes and looked upon them
as only a mother can.

"Hoity!  Toity!  Pretty talk we're having, and Saint Nicholas's
Eve almost here!  What wonder the yarn pricks my fingers!  Come,
Gretel, take this cent, *{The Dutch cent is worth less than half
of an American cent.} and while Hans is trading for the skates
you can buy a waffle in the marketplace."

"Let me stay home with you, Mother," said Gretel, looking up with
eyes that sparkled through their tears.  "Hans will buy me the
cake."

"As you will, child, and Hans--wait a moment.  Three turns of
this needle will finish this toe, and then you may have as good a
pair of hose as ever were knitted (owning the yarn is a grain too
sharp) to sell to the hosier on the Harengracht. *{A street in
Amsterdam.}  That will give us three quarter-guilders if you make
good trade; and as it's right hungry weather, you may buy four
waffles.  We'll keep the Feast of Saint Nicholas after all."

Gretel clapped her hands.  "That will be fine!  Annie Bouman told
me what grand times they will have in the big houses tonight. 
But we will be merry too.  Hans will have beautiful new
skates--and then there'll be the waffles!  Oh!  Don't break them,
brother Hans.  Wrap them well, and button them under your jacket
very carefully."

"Certainly," replied Hans, quite gruff with pleasure and
importance.

"Oh!  Mother!" cried Gretel in high glee, "soon you will be
busied with the father, and now you are only knitting.  Do tell
us all about Saint Nicholas!"

Dame Brinker laughed to see Hans hang up his hat and prepare to
listen.  "Nonsense, children," she said.  "I have told it to you
often."

"Tell us again!  Oh, DO tell us again!" cried Gretel, throwing
herself upon the wonderful wooden bench that her brother had made
on the mother's last birthday.  Hans, not wishing to appear
childish, and yet quite willing to hear the story, stood
carelessly swinging his skates against the fireplace.

"Well, children, you shall hear it, but we must never waste the
daylight again in this way.  Pick up your ball, Gretel, and let
your sock grow as I talk.  Opening your ears needn't shut your
fingers.  Saint Nicholas, you must know, is a wonderful saint. 
He keeps his eye open for the good of sailors, but he cares most
of all for boys and girls.  Well, once upon a time, when he was
living on the earth, a merchant of Asia sent his three sons to a
great city, called Athens, to get learning."

"Is Athens in Holland, Mother?" asked Gretel.

"I don't know, child.  Probably it is."

"Oh, no, Mother," said Hans respectfully.  "I had that in my
geography lessons long ago.  Athens is in Greece."

"Well," resumed the mother, "what matter?  Greece may belong to
the king, for aught we know.  Anyhow, this rich merchant sent his
sons to Athens.  While they were on their way, they stopped one
night at a shabby inn, meaning to take up their journey in the
morning.  Well, they had very fine clothes--velvet and silk, it
may be, such as rich folks' children all over the world think
nothing of wearing--and their belts, likewise, were full of
money.  What did the wicked landlord do but contrive a plan to
kill the children and take their money and all their beautiful
clothes himself.  So that night, when all the world was asleep,
he got up and killed the three young gentlemen."

Gretel clasped her hands and shuddered, but Hans tried to look as
if killing and murder were everyday matters to him.

"That was not the worst of it," continued Dame Brinker, knitting
slowly and trying to keep count of her stitches as she talked. 
"That was not near the worst of it.  The dreadful landlord went
and cut up the young gentlemen's bodies into little pieces and
threw them into a great tub of brine, intending to sell them for
pickled pork!"

"Oh!" cried Gretel, horror-stricken, though she had often heard
the story before.  Hans was still unmoved and seemed to think
that pickling was the best that could be done under the
circumstances.

"Yes, he pickled them, and one might think that would have been
the last of the young gentlemen.  But no.  That night Saint
Nicholas had a wonderful vision, and in it he saw the landlord
cutting up the merchant's children.  There was no need of his
hurrying, you know, for he was a saint, but in the morning he
went to the inn and charged the landlord with murder.  Then the
wicked landlord confessed it from beginning to end and fell down
on his knees, begging forgiveness.  He felt so sorry for what he
had done that he asked the saint to bring the young masters to
life."

"And did the saint do it?" asked Gretel, delighted, well knowing
what the answer would be.

"Of course he did.  The pickled pieces flew together in an
instant, and out jumped the young gentlemen from the brine tub. 
They cast themselves at the feet of Saint Nicholas, and he gave
them his blessing, and--oh! mercy on us, Hans, it will be dark
before you get back if you don't start this minute!"

By this time Dame Brinker was almost out of breath and quite out
of commas.  She could not remember when she had seen the children
idle away an hour of daylight in this manner, and the thought of
such luxury quite appalled her.  By way of compensation she now
flew about the room in extreme haste.  Tossing a block of peat
upon the fire, blowing invisible fire from the table, and handing
the finished hose to Hans, all in an instant. . .

"Comes, Hans," she said as her boy lingered by the door.  "What
keeps thee?"

Hans kissed his mother's plump cheek, rosy and fresh yet, in
spite of all her troubles.

"My mother is the best in the world, and I would be right glad to
have a pair of skates, but"--and as he buttoned his jacket he
looked, in a troubled way, toward a strange figure crouching by
the hearthstone--"if my money would bring a meester *{Doctor
(dokter in Dutch), called meester by the lower class.} from
Amsterdam to see the father, something might yet be done."

"A meester would not come, Hans, for twice that money, and it
would do no good if he did.  Ah, how many guilders I once spent
for that, but the dear, good father would not waken.  It is God's
will.  Go, Hans, and buy the skates."

Hans started with a heavy heart, but since the heart was young
and in a boy's bosom, it set him whistling in less than five
minutes.  His mother had said "thee" to him, and that was quite
enough to make even a dark day sunny.  Hollanders do not address
each other, in affectionate intercourse, as the French and
Germans do.  But Dame Brinker had embroidered for a Heidelberg
family in her girlhood, and she had carried its thee and thou
into her rude home, to be used in moments of extreme love and
tenderness.

Therefore, "What keeps thee, Hans?" sang an echo song beneath the
boy's whistling and made him feel that his errand was blest.




Hans Has His Way



Broek, with its quiet, spotless streets, its frozen rivulets, its
yellow brick pavements and bright wooden houses, was nearby.  It
was a village where neatness and show were in full blossom, but
the inhabitants seemed to be either asleep or dead.

Not a footprint marred the sanded paths where pebbles and
seashells lay in fanciful designs.  Every window shutter was
tightly closed as though air and sunshine were poison, and the
massive front doors were never opened except on the occasion of a
wedding, a christening, or a funeral.

Serene clouds of tobacco smoke were floating through hidden
corners, and children, who otherwise might have awakened the
place, were studying in out-of-the-way corners or skating upon
the neighboring canal.  A few peacocks and wolves stood in the
gardens, but they had never enjoyed the luxury of flesh and
blood.  They were made out of boxwood hedges and seemed to be
guarding the grounds with a sort of green ferocity.  Certain
lively automata, ducks, women, and sportsmen, were stowed away in
summer houses, waiting for the spring-time when they could be
wound up and rival their owners in animation; and the shining
tiled roofs, mosaic courtyards, and polished house trimmings
flashed up a silent homage to the sky, where never a speck of
dust could dwell.

Hans glanced toward the village, as he shook his silver kwartjes
and wondered whether it were really true, as he had often heard,
that some of the people of Broek were so rich that they used
kitchen utensils of solid gold.

He had seen Mevrouw van Stoop's sweet cheeses in market, and he
knew that the lofty dame earned many a bright silver guilder in
selling them.  But did she set the cream to rise in golden pans? 
Did she use a golden skimmer?  When her cows were in winter
quarters, were their tails really tied up with ribbons?

These thoughts ran through his mind as he turned his face toward
Amsterdam, not five miles away, on the other side of the frozen
Y. *{Pronounced eye, an arm of the Zuider Zee.}  The ice upon
the canal was perfect, but his wooden runners, so soon to be cast
aside, squeaked a dismal farewell as he scraped and skimmed
along.

When crossing the Y, whom should he see skating toward him but
the great Dr. Boekman, the most famous physician and surgeon in
Holland.  Hans had never met him before, but he had seen his
engraved likeness in many of the shop windows in Amsterdam.  It
was a face that one could never forget.  Thin and lank, though a
born Dutchman, with stern blue eyes, and queer compressed lips
that seemed to say "No smiling permitted," he certainly was not a
very jolly or sociable-looking personage, nor one that a
well-trained boy would care to accost unbidden.

But Hans WAS bidden, and that, too, by a voice he seldom
disregarded--his own conscience.

"Here comes the greatest doctor in the world," whispered the
voice.  "God has sent him.  You have no right to buy skates when
you might, with the same money, purchase such aid for your
father!"

The wooden runners gave an exultant squeak.  Hundreds of
beautiful skates were gleaming and vanishing in the air above
him.  He felt the money tingle in his fingers.  The old doctor
looked fearfully grim and forbidding.  Hans's heart was in his
throat, but he found voice enough to cry out, just as he was
passing, "Mynheer Boekman!"

The great man halted and, sticking out his thin underlip, looked
scowling about him.

Hans was in for it now.

"Mynheer," he panted, drawing close to the fierce-looking
doctor, "I knew you could be none other than the famous Boekman. 
I have to ask a great favor--"

"Hump!" muttered the doctor, preparing to skate past the
intruder.  "Get out of the way.  I've no money--never give to
beggars."

"I am no beggar, mynheer," retorted Hans proudly, at the same
time producing his mite of silver with a grand air.  "I wish to
consult you about my father.  He is a living man but sits like
one dead.  He cannot think.  His words mean nothing, but he is
not sick.  He fell on the dikes."

"Hey?  What?" cried the doctor, beginning to listen.

Hans told the whole story in an incoherent way, dashing off a
tear once or twice as he talked, and finally ending with an
earnest "Oh, do see him, mynheer.  His body is well--it is only
his mind.  I know that this money is not enough, but take it,
mynheer.  I will earn more, I know I will.  Oh!  I will toil for
you all my life, if you will but cure my father!"

What was the matter with the old doctor?  A brightness like
sunlight beamed from his face.  His eyes were kind and moist; the
hand that had lately clutched his cane, as if preparing to
strike, was laid gently upon Hans's shoulder.

"Put up your money, boy, I do not want it.  We will see your
father.  It's hopeless, I fear.  How long did you say?"

"Ten years, mynheer," sobbed Hans, radiant with sudden hope.

"Ah! a bad case, but I shall see him.  Let me think.  Today I
start for Leyden, to return in a week, then you may expect me. 
Where is it?"

"A mile south of Broek, mynheer, near the canal.  It is only a
poor, broken-down hut.  Any of the children thereabout can point
it out to your honor," added Hans with a heavy sigh.  "They are
all half afraid of the place; they call it the idiot's cottage."

"That will do," said the doctor, hurrying on with a bright
backward nod at Hans.  "I shall be there.  A hopeless case," he
muttered to himself, "but the boy pleases me.  His eye is like my
poor Laurens's.  Confound it, shall I never forget that young
scoundrel!"  And, scowling more darkly than ever, the doctor
pursued his silent way.

Again Hans was skating toward Amsterdam on the squeaking wooden
runners; again his fingers tingled against the money in his
pocket; again the boyish whistle rose unconsciously to his lips.

Shall I hurry home, he was thinking, to tell the good news, or
shall I get the waffles and the new skates first?  Whew!  I think
I'll go on!

And so Hans bought the skates.




Introducing Jacob Poot and His Cousin



Hans and Gretel had a fine frolic early on that Saint Nicholas's
Eve.  There was a bright moon, and their mother, though she
believed herself to be without any hope of her husband's
improvement, had been made so happy at the prospect of the
meester's visit, that she yielded to the children's entreaties
for an hour's skating before bedtime.

Hans was delighted with his new skates and, in his eagerness to
show Gretel how perfectly they "worked," did many things upon the
ice that caused the little maid to clasp her hands in solemn
admiration.  They were not alone, though they seemed quite
unheeded by the various groups assembled upon the canal.

The two Van Holps and Carl Schummel were there, testing their
fleetness to the utmost.  Out of four trials Peter van Holp had
won three times.  Consequently Carl, never very amiable, was in
anything but a good humor.  He had relieved himself by taunting
young Schimmelpenninck, who, being smaller than the others, kept
meekly near them without feeling exactly like one of the party,
but now a new thought seized Carl, or rather he seized the new
thought and made an onset upon his friends.

"I say, boys, let's put a stop to those young ragpickers from the
idiot's cottage joining the race.  Hilda must be crazy to think
of it.  Katrinka Flack and Rychie Korbes are furious at the very
idea of racing with the girl; and for my part, I don't blame
them.  As for the boy, if we've a spark of manhood in us, we will
scorn the very idea of--"

"Certainly we will!" interposed Peter van Holp, purposely
mistaking Carl's meaning.  "Who doubts it?  No fellow with a
spark of manhood in him would refuse to let in two good skaters
just because they were poor!"

"Carl wheeled about savagely.  "Not so fast, master!  And I'd
thank you not to put words in other people's mouths.  You'd best
not try it again."

"Ha, ha!" laughed little Voostenwalbert Schimmelpenninck,
delighted at the prospect of a fight, and sure that, if it should
come to blows, his favorite Peter could beat a dozen excitable
fellows like Carl.

Something in Peter's eye made Carl glad to turn to a weaker
offender.  He wheeled furiously upon Voost.

"What are you shrieking about, you little weasel?  You skinny
herring you, you little monkey with a long name for a tail!"

Half a dozen bystanders and byskaters set up an applauding shout
at this brave witticism; and Carl, feeling that he had fairly
vanquished his foes, was restored to partial good humor.  He,
however, prudently resolved to defer plotting against Hans and
Gretel until some time when Peter should not be present.

Just then, his friend, Jacob Poot, was seen approaching.  They
could not distinguish his features at first, but as he was the
stoutest boy in the neighborhood, there could be no mistaking his
form.

"Hello!  Here comes Fatty!" exclaimed Carl.  "And there's someone
with him, a slender fellow, a stranger."

"Ha! ha!  That's like good bacon," cried Ludwig.  "A streak of
lean and a streak of fat."

"That's Jacob's English cousin," put in Master Voost, delighted
at being able to give the information.  "That's his English
cousin, and, oh, he's got such a funny little name--Ben Dobbs. 
He's going to stay with him until after the grand race."

All this time the boys had been spinning, turning, rolling, and
doing other feats upon their skates, in a quiet way, as they
talked, but now they stood still, bracing themselves against the
frosty air as Jacob Poot and his friend drew near.

"This is my cousin, boys," said Jacob, rather out of breath. 
"Benjamin Dobbs.  He's a John Bull and he's going to be in the
race."

All crowded, boy-fashion, about the newcomers.  Benjamin soon
made up his mind that the Hollanders, notwithstanding their queer
gibberish, were a fine set of fellows.

If the truth must be told, Jacob had announced his cousin as
Penchamin Dopps, and called his a Shon Pull, but as I translate
every word of the conversation of our young friends, it is no
more than fair to mend their little attempts at English.  Master
Dobbs felt at first decidedly awkward among his cousin's friends. 
Though most of them had studied English and French, they were shy
about attempting to speak either, and he made very funny blunders
when he tried to converse in Dutch.  He had learned that vrouw
meant wife; and ja, yes; and spoorweg, railway; kanaals, canals;
stoomboot, steamboat; ophaalbruggen, drawbridges; buiten plasten,
country seats; mynheer, mister; tweegevegt, duel or "two fights";
koper, copper; zadel, saddle; but he could not make a sentence
out of these, nor use the long list of phrases he had learned in
his "Dutch dialogues."  The topics of the latter were fine, but
were never alluded to by the boys.  Like the poor fellow who had
learned in Ollendorf to ask in faultless German, "Have you seen
my grandmother's red cow?" and, when he reached Germany,
discovered that he had no occasion to inquire after that
interesting animal, Ben found that his book-Dutch did not avail
him as much as he had hoped.  He acquired a hearty contempt for
Jan van Gorp, a Hollander who wrote a book in Latin to prove that
Adam and Eve spoke Dutch, and he smiled a knowing smile when his
uncle Poot assured him that Dutch "had great likeness mit
Zinglish but it vash much petter languish, much petter."

However, the fun of skating glides over all barriers of speech. 
Through this, Ben soon felt that he knew the boys well, and when
Jacob (with a sprinkling of French and English for Ben's benefit)
told of a grand project they had planned, his cousin could now
and then put in a ja, or a nod, in quite a familiar way.

The project WAS a grand one, and there was to be a fine
opportunity for carrying it out; for, besides the allotted
holiday of the Festival of Saint Nicholas, four extra days were
to be allowed for a general cleaning of the schoolhouse.

Jacob and Ben had obtained permission to go on a long skating
journey--no less a one than from Broek to The Hague, the capital
of Holland, a distance of nearly fifty miles! *{Throughout this
narrative distances are given according to our standard, the
English statute mile of 5,280 feet.  The Dutch mile is more than
four times as long as ours.}

"And now, boys," added Jacob, when he had told the plan, "who
will go with us?"

"I will!  I will!" cried the boys eagerly.

"And so will I," ventured little Voostenwalbert.

"Ha! ha!" laughed Jacob, holding his fat sides and shaking his
puffy cheeks.  "YOU go?  Such a little fellow as you?  Why,
youngster, you haven't left off your pads yet!"

Now, in Holland very young children wear a thin, padded cushion
around their heads, surmounted with a framework of whalebone and
ribbon, to protect them in case of a fall; and it is the dividing
line between babyhood and childhood when they leave it off. 
Voost had arrived at this dignity several years before;
consequently Jacob's insult was rather to great for endurance.

"Look out what you say!" he squeaked.  "Lucky for you when you
can leave off YOUR pads--you're padded all over!"

"Ha! ha!" roared all the boys except Master Dobbs, who could not
understand.  "Ha! ha!"--and the good-natured Jacob laughed more
than any.

"It ish my fat--yaw--he say I bees pad mit fat!" he explained to
Ben.

So a vote was passed unanimously in favor of allowing the now
popular Voost to join the party, if his parents would consent.

"Good night!" sang out the happy youngster, skating homeward with
all his might.

"Good night!"

"We can stop at Haarlem, Jacob, and show your cousin the big
organ," said Peter van Holp eagerly, "and at Leyden, too, where
there's no end to the sights; and spend a day and night at the
Hague, for my married sister, who lives there, will be delighted
to see us; and the next morning we can start for home."

"All right!" responded Jacob, who was not much of a talker.

Ludwig had been regarding his brother with enthusiastic
admiration.

"Hurrah for you, Pete!  It takes you to make plans!  Mother'll be
as full of it as we are when we tell her we can take her love
direct to sister Van Gend.  My, but it's cold," he added.  "Cold
enough to take a fellow's head off his shoulders.  We'd better go
home."

"What if it is cold, old Tender-skin?" cried Carl, who was busily
practicing a step he called the "double edge."  "Great skating we
should have by this time, if it was as warm as it was last
December.  Don't you know that if it wasn't an extra cold winter,
and an early one into the bargain, we couldn't go?"

"I know it's an extra cold night anyhow," said Ludwig.  "Whew! 
I'm going home!"

Peter van Holp took out a bulgy gold watch and, holding it toward
the moonlight as well as his benumbed fingers would permit,
called out, "Halloo!  It's nearly eight o'clock!  Saint Nicholas
is about by this time, and I, for one, want to see the little
ones stare.  Good night!"

"Good night!" cried one and all, and off they started, shouting,
singing, and laughing as they flew along.

Where were Gretel and Hans?

Ah, how suddenly joy sometimes comes to an end!

They had skated about an hour, keeping aloof from the others,
quite contented with each other, and Gretel had exclaimed, "Ah,
Hans, how beautiful!  How fine!  To think that we both have
skates!  I tell you, the stork brought us good luck!"--when they
heard something!

It was a scream--a very faint scream!  No one else upon the canal
observed it, but Hans knew its meaning too well.  Gretel saw him
turn white in the moonlight as he busily tore off his skates.

"The father!" he cried.  "He has frightened our mother!"  And
Gretel ran after him toward the house as rapidly as she could.




The Festival of Saint Nicholas



We all know how, before the Christmas tree began to flourish in
the home life of our country, a certain "right jolly old elf,"
with "eight tiny reindeer," used to drive his sleigh-load of toys
up to our housetops, and then bounded down the chimney to fill
the stockings so hopefully hung by the fireplace.  His friends
called his Santa Claus, and those who were most intimate ventured
to say "Old Nick."  It was said that he originally came from
Holland.  Doubtless he did, but, if so, he certainly, like many
other foreigners, changed his ways very much after landing upon
our shores.  In Holland, Saint Nicholas is a veritable saint and
often appears in full costume, with his embroidered robes,
glittering with gems and gold, his miter, his crosier, and his
jeweled gloves.  Here Santa Claus comes rollicking along, on the
twenty-fifth of December, our holy Christmas morn.  But in
Holland, Saint Nicholas visits earth on the fifth, a time
especially appropriated to him.  Early on the morning of the
sixth, he distributes his candies, toys, and treasures, then
vanishes for a year.

Christmas Day is devoted by the Hollanders to church rites and
pleasant family visiting.  It is on Saint Nicholas's Eve that
their young people become half wild with joy and expectation.  To
some of them it is a sorry time, for the saint is very candid,
and if any of them have been bad during the past year, he is
quite sure to tell them so.  Sometimes he gives a birch rod under
his arm and advises the parents to give them scoldings in place
of confections, and floggings instead of toys.

It was well that the boys hastened to their abodes on that bright
winter evening, for in less than an hour afterward, the saint
made his appearance in half the homes of Holland.  He visited the
king's palace and in the selfsame moment appeared in Annie
Bouman's comfortable home.  Probably one of our silver
half-dollars would have purchased all that his saintship left at
the peasant Bouman's; but a half-dollar's worth will sometimes do
for the poor what hundreds of dollars may fail to do for the
rich; it makes them happy and grateful, fills them with new peace
and love.

Hilda van Gleck's little brothers and sisters were in a high
state of excitement that night.  They had been admitted into the
grand parlor; they were dressed in their best and had been given
two cakes apiece at supper.  Hilda was as joyous as any.  Why
not?  Saint Nicholas would never cross a girl of fourteen from
his list, just because she was tall and looked almost like a
woman.  On the contrary, he would probably exert himself to do
honor to such an august-looking damsel.  Who could tell?  So she
sported and laughed and danced as gaily as the youngest and was
the soul of all their merry games.  Her father, mother, and
grandmother looked on approvingly; so did her grandfather, before
he spread his large red handkerchief over his face, leaving only
the top of his skullcap visible.  This kerchief was his ensign of
sleep.

Earlier in the evening all had joined in the fun.  In the general
hilarity there had seemed to be a difference only in bulk between
grandfather and the baby.  Indeed, a shade of solemn expectation,
now and then flitting across the faces of the younger members,
had made them seem rather more thoughtful than their elders.

Now the spirit of fun reigned supreme.  The very flames danced
and capered in the polished grate.  A pair of prim candles that
had been staring at the astral lamp began to wink at other
candles far away in the mirrors.  There was a long bell rope
suspended from the ceiling in the corner, made of glass beads
netted over a cord nearly as thick as your wrist.  It is
generally hung in the shadow and made no sign, but tonight it
twinkled from end to end.  Its handle of crimson glass sent
reckless dashes of red at the papered wall, turning its dainty
blue stripes into purple.  Passersby halted to catch the merry
laughter floating, through curtain and sash, into the street,
then skipped on their way with a startled consciousness that the
village was wide-awake.  At last matters grew so uproarious that
the grandsire's red kerchief came down from his face with a jerk. 
What decent old gentleman could sleep in such a racket!  Mynheer
van Gleck regarded his children with astonishment.  The baby even
showed symptoms of hysterics.  It was high time to attend to
business.  Madame suggested that if they wished to see the good
Saint Nicholas, they should sing the same loving invitation that
had brought him the year before.

The baby stared and thrust his fist into his mouth as mynheer
put him down upon the floor.  Soon he sat erect and looked with a
sweet scowl at the company.  With his lace and embroideries and
his crown of blue ribbon and whalebone (for he was not quite past
the tumbling age), he looked like the king of the babies.

The other children, each holding a pretty willow basket, formed a
ring at once, and moved slowly around the little fellow, lifting
their eyes, for the saint to whom they were about to address
themselves was yet in mysterious quarters.

Madame commenced playing softly upon the piano.  Soon the voices
rose--gentle, youthful voices--rendered all the sweeter for their
tremor:


     "Welcome, friend!  Saint Nicholas, welcome!
         Bring no rod for us tonight!
     While our voices bid thee welcome,
         Every heart with joy is light!

          Tell us every fault and failing,
          We will bear thy keenest railing,
          So we sing--so we sing--
          Thou shalt tell us everything!

     Welcome, friend!  Saint Nicholas, welcome!
         Welcome to this merry band!
     Happy children greet thee, welcome!
         Thou art glad'ning all the land!

          Fill each empty hand and basket,
          'Tis thy little ones who ask it,
          So we sing--so we sing--
          Thou wilt bring us everything!"


During the chorus sundry glances, half in eagerness, half in
dread, had been cast toward the polished folding doors.  Now a
loud knocking was heard.  The circle was broken in an instant. 
Some of the little ones, with a strange mixture of fear and
delight, pressed against their mother's knee.  Grandfather bent
forward with his chin resting upon his hand; Grandmother lifted
her spectacles; Mynheer van Gleck, seated by the fireplace,
slowly drew his meerschaum from his mouth while Hilda and the
other children settled themselves beside him in an expectant
group.

The knocking was heard again.

"Come in," said madame softly.

The door slowly opened, and Saint Nicholas, in full array, stood
before them.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Soon he spoke.  What a mysterious majesty in his voice!  What
kindliness in his tones!

"Karel van Gleck, I am pleased to greet thee, and thy honored
vrouw Kathrine, and thy son and his good vrouw Annie!

"Children, I greet ye all!  Hendrick, Hilda, Broom, Katy,
Huygens, and Lucretia!  And thy cousins, Wolfert, Diedrich,
Mayken, Voost, and Katrina!  Good children ye have been, in the
main, since I last accosted ye.  Diedrich was rude at the Haarlem
fair last fall, but he has tried to atone for it since.  Mayken
has failed of late in her lessons, and too many sweets and
trifles have gone to her lips, and too few stivers to her charity
box.  Diedrich, I trust, will be a polite, manly boy for the
future, and Mayken will endeavor to shine as a student.  Let her
remember, too, that economy and thrift are needed in the
foundation of a worthy and generous life.  Little Katy has been
cruel to the cat more than once.  Saint Nicholas can hear the cat
cry when its tail is pulled.  I will forgive her if she will
remember from this hour that the smallest dumb creatures have
feelings and must not be abused."

As Katy burst into a frightened cry, the saint graciously
remained silent until she was soothed.

"Master Broom," he resumed, "I warn thee that the boys who are in
the habit of putting snuff upon the foot stove of the
schoolmistress may one day be discovered and receive a
flogging--"

Master Broom colored and stared in great astonishment.

"But thou art such an excellent scholar, I shall make thee no
further reproof."

"Thou, Hendrick, didst distinguish thyself in the archery match
last spring, and hit the Doel *{Bull's-eye.} though the bird was
swung before it to unsteady thine eye.  I give thee credit for
excelling in manly sport and exercise, though I must not unduly
countenance thy boat racing, since it leaves thee little time for
thy proper studies.

"Lucretia and Hilda shall have a blessed sleep tonight.  The
consciousness of kindness to the poor, devotion in their souls,
and cheerful, hearty obedience to household rule will render them
happy.

"With one and all I avow myself well content.  Goodness,
industry, benevolence, and thrift have prevailed in your midst. 
Therefore, my blessing upon you--and may the new year find all
treading the paths of obedience, wisdom, and love.  Tomorrow you
shall find more substantial proofs that I have been in your
midst.  Farewell!"

With these words came a great shower of sugarplums, upon a linen
sheet spread out in front of the doors.  A general scramble
followed.  The children fairly tumbled over each other in their
eagerness to fill their baskets.  Madame cautiously held the baby
down in their midst, till the chubby little fists were filled. 
Then the bravest of the youngsters sprang up and burst open the
closed doors.  In vain they peered into the mysterious apartment. 
Saint Nicholas was nowhere to be seen.

Soon there was a general rush to another room, where stood a
table, covered with the finest and whitest of linen damask.  Each
child, in a flutter of excitement, laid a shoe upon it.  The door
was then carefully locked, and its key hidden in the mother's
bedroom.  Next followed goodnight kisses, a grand family
procession to the upper floor, merry farewells at bedroom doors,
and silence, at last, reigned in the Van Gleck mansion.

Early the next morning the door was solemnly unlocked and opened
in the presence of the assembled household, when lo! a sight
appeared, proving Saint Nicholas to be a saint of his word!

Every shoe was filled to overflowing, and beside each stood many
a colored pile.  The table was heavy with its load of
presents--candies, toys, trinkets, books, and other articles. 
Everyone had gifts, from the grandfather down to the baby.

Little Katy clapped her hands with glee and vowed inwardly that
the cat should never know another moment's grief.

Hendrick capered about the room, flourishing a superb bow and
arrows over his head.  Hilda laughed with delight as she opened a
crimson box and drew forth its glittering contents.  The rest
chuckled and said "Oh!" and "Ah!" over their treasures, very much
as we did here in America on last Christmas Day.

With her glittering necklace in her hands, and a pile of books in
her arms, Hilda stole towards her parents and held up her beaming
face for a kiss.  There was such an earnest, tender look in her
bright eyes that her mother breathed a blessing as she leaned
over her.

"I am delighted with this book.  Thank you, Father," she said,
touching the top one with her chin.  "I shall read it all day
long."

"Aye, sweetheart," said mynheer, "you cannot do better.  There
is no one like Father Cats.  If my daughter learns his 'Moral
Emblems' by heart, the mother and I may keep silent.  The work
you have there is the Emblems--his best work.  You will find it
enriched with rare engravings from Van de Venne."

Considering that the back of the book was turned away, mynheer
certainly showed a surprising familiarity with an unopened
volume, presented by Saint Nicholas.  It was strange, too, that
the saint should have found certain things made by the elder
children and had actually placed them upon the table, labeled
with parents' and grandparents' names.  But all were too much
absorbed in happiness to notice slight inconsistencies.  Hilda
saw, on her father's face, the rapt expression he always wore
when he spoke of Jakob Cats, so he put her armful of books upon
the table and resigned herself to listen.

"Old Father Cats, my child, was a great poet, not a writer of
plays like the Englishman, Shakespeare, who lived in his time.  I
have read them in the German and very good they are--very, very
good--but not like Father Cats.  Cats sees no daggers in the air;
he has no white women falling in love with dusky Moors; no young
fools sighing to be a lady's glove; no crazy princes mistaking
respectable old gentlemen for rats.  No, no.  He writes only
sense.  It is great wisdom in little bundles, a bundle for every
day of your life.  You can guide a state with Cats's poems, and
you can put a little baby to sleep with his pretty songs.  He was
one of the greatest men of Holland.  When I take you to The
Hague, I will show you the Kloosterkerk where he lies buried. 
THERE was a man for you to study, my sons!  He was good through
and through.  What did he say?


     "O Lord, let me obtain this from Thee
     To live with patience, and to die with pleasure!

     *{O Heere! laat my daat van uwen hand verwerven,
     Te leven met gedult, en met vermaak te sterven.}


"Did patience mean folding his hands?  No, he was a lawyer,
statesman, ambassador, farmer, philosopher, historian, and poet. 
He was keeper of the Great Seal of Holland!  He was a--Bah! there
is too much noise here, I cannot talk."  And mynheer, looking
with great astonishment into the bowl of his meerschaum, for it
had gone out, nodded to his vrouw and left the apartment in
great haste.

The fact is, his discourse had been accompanied throughout with a
subdued chorus of barking dogs, squeaking cats, and bleating
lambs, to say nothing of a noisy ivory cricket that the baby was
whirling with infinite delight.  At the last, little Huygens,
taking advantage of the increasing loudness of mynheer's tones,
had ventured a blast on his new trumpet, and Wolfert had hastily
attempted an accompaniment on the drum.  This had brought matters
to a crisis, and it was good for the little creatures that it
had.  The saint had left no ticket for them to attend a lecture
on Jakob Cats.  It was not an appointed part of the ceremonies. 
Therefore when the youngsters saw that the mother looked neither
frightened nor offended, they gathered new courage.  The grand
chorus rose triumphant, and frolic and joy reigned supreme.

Good Saint Nicholas!  For the sake of the young Hollanders, I,
for one, am willing to acknowledge him and defend his reality
against all unbelievers.

Carl Schummel was quite busy during that day, assuring little
children, confidentially, that not Saint Nicholas but their own
fathers and mothers had produced the oracle and loaded the
tables.  But WE know better than that.

And yet if this were a saint, why did he not visit the Brinker
cottage that night?  Why was that one home, so dark and
sorrowful, passed by?




What the Boys Saw and Did in Amsterdam



"Are we all here?" cried Peter, in high glee, as the party
assembled upon the canal early the next morning, equipped for
their skating journey.  "Let me see.  As Jacob has made me
captain, I must call the roll.  Carl Schummel, you here?"

"Ya!"

"Jacob Poot!"

"Ya!"

"Benjamin Dobbs!"

"Ya-a!"

"Lambert van Mounen!"

"Ya!"

"That's lucky!  Couldn't get on without YOU, as you're the only
one who can speak English.  Ludwig van Holp!"

"Ya!"

"Voostenwalbert Schimmelpenninck!"

No answer.

"Ah, the little rogue has been kept at home!  Now, boys, it's
just eight o'clock--glorious weather, and the Y is as firm as a
rock.  We'll be at Amsterdam in thirty minutes.  One, two, three
START!"

True enough, in less than half an hour they had crossed a dike of
solid masonry and were in the very heart of the great metropolis
of the Netherlands--a walled city of ninety-five islands and
nearly two hundred bridges.  Although Ben had been there twice
since his arrival in Holland, he saw much to excite wonder, but
his Dutch comrades, having lived nearby all their lives,
considered it the most matter-of-course place in the world. 
Everything interested Ben:  the tall houses with their forked
chimneys and gable ends facing the street; the merchants' ware
rooms, perched high up under the roofs of their dwellings, with
long, armlike cranes hoisting and lowering goods past the
household windows; the grand public buildings erected upon wooden
piles driven deep into the marshy ground; the narrow streets; the
canals crossing the city everywhere; the bridges; the locks; the
various costumes; and, strangest of all, shops and dwellings
crouching close to the fronts of the churches, sending their
long, disproportionate chimneys far upward along the sacred
walls.

If he looked up, he saw tall, leaning houses, seeming to pierce
the sky with their shining roofs.  If he looked down, there was
the queer street, without crossing or curb--nothing to separate
the cobblestone pavement from the footpath of brick--and if he
rested his eyes halfway, he saw complicated little mirrors
(spionnen) fastened upon the outside of nearly every window, so
arranged that the inmates of the houses could observe all that
was going on in the street or inspect whoever might be knocking
at the door, without being seen themselves.

Sometimes a dogcart, heaped with wooden ware, passed him; then a
donkey bearing a pair of panniers filled with crockery or glass;
then a sled driven over the bare cobblestones (the runners kept
greased with a dripping oil rag so that it might run easily); and
then, perhaps, a showy but clumsy family carriage, drawn by the
brownest of Flanders horses, swinging the whitest of snowy tails.

The city was in full festival array.  Every shop was gorgeous in
honor of Saint Nicholas.  Captain Peter was forced, more than
once, to order his men away from the tempting show windows, where
everything that is, has been, or can be, thought of in the way of
toys was displayed.  Holland is famous for this branch of
manufacture.  Every possible thing is copied in miniature for the
benefit of the little ones; the intricate mechanical toys that a
Dutch youngster tumbles about in stolid unconcern would create a
stir in our patent office.  Ben laughed outright at some of the
mimic fishing boats.  They were so heavy and stumpy, so like the
queer craft that he had seen about Rotterdam.  The tiny
trekschuiten, however, only a foot or two long, and fitted out,
complete, made his heart ache.  He so longed to buy one at once
for his little brother in England.  He had no money to spare, for
with true Dutch prudence, the party had agreed to take with them
merely the sum required for each boy's expenses and to consign
the purse to Peter for safekeeping.  Consequently Master Ben
concluded to devote all his energies to sight-seeing and to think
as seldom as possible of little Robby.

He made a hasty call at the Marine school and envied the sailor
students their full-rigged brig and their sleeping berths swung
over their trunks or lockers; he peeped into the Jews' Quarter of
the city, where the rich diamond cutters and squalid
old-clothesmen dwell, and wisely resolved to keep away from it;
he also enjoyed hasty glimpses of the four principal avenues of
Amsterdam--the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, and
Singel.  These are semicircular in form, and the first three
average more than two miles in length.  A canal runs through the
center of each, with a well-paved road on either side, lined with
stately buildings.  Rows of naked elms, bordering the canal, cast
a network of shadows over its frozen surface, and everything was
so clean and bright that Ben told Lambert it seemed to him like
petrified neatness.

Fortunately the weather was cold enough to put a stop to the
usual street flooding and window-washing, or our young
excursionists might have been drenched more than once.  Sweeping,
mopping, and scrubbing form a passion with Dutch housewives, and
to soil their spotless mansions is considered scarcely less than
a crime.  Everywhere a hearty contempt is felt for those who
neglect to rub the soles of their shoes to a polish before
crossing the doorsill; and in certain places visitors are
expected to remove their heavy shoes before entering.

Sir William Temple, in his memoirs of "What Passed in Christendom
from 1672 to 1679," tells a story of a pompous magistrate going
to visit a lady of Amsterdam.  A stout Holland lass opened the
door, and told him in a breath that the lady was at home and that
his shoes were not very clean.  Without another word she took the
astonished man up by both arms, threw him across her back,
carried him through two rooms, set him down at the bottom of the
stairs, seized a pair of slippers that stood there, and put them
upon his feet.  Then, and not until then, she spoke, telling him
that his mistress was on the floor above, and that he might go
up.

While Ben was skating with his friends upon the crowded canals of
the city, he found it difficult to believe that the sleepy
Dutchmen he saw around him, smoking their pipes so leisurely and
looking as though their hats might be knocked off their heads
without their making any resistance, were capable of those
outbreaks that had taken place in Holland--that they were really
fellow countrymen of the brave, devoted heroes of whom he had
read in Dutch history.

As his party skimmed lightly along he told Van Mounen of a burial
riot which in 1696 had occurred in that very city, where the
women and children turned out, as well as the men, and formed
mock funeral processions through the town, to show the
burgomasters that certain new regulations, with regard to burying
the dead would not be acceded to--how at last they grew so
unmanageable and threatened so much damage to the city that the
burgomasters were glad to recall the offensive law.

"There's the corner," said Jacob, pointing to some large
buildings, where, about fifteen years ago, the great corn houses
sank down in the mud.  They were strong affairs and set up on
good piles, but they had over seven million pounds of corn in
them, and that was too much."

It was a long story for Jacob to tell, and he stopped to rest.

"How do you know there were seven million pounds in them?" asked
Carl sharply.  "You were in your swaddling clothes then."

"My father knows all about it" was Jacob's suggestive reply. 
Rousing himself with an effort, he continued, "Ben likes
pictures.  Show him some."

"All right," said the captain.

"If we had time, Benjamin," said Lambert van Mounen in English,
"I should like to take you to the City Hall, or Stadhuis.  There
are building piles for you!  It is built on nearly fourteen
thousand of them, driven seventy feet into the ground.  But what
I wish you to see there is the big picture of Van Speyk blowing
up his ship--great picture."

"Van WHO?" asked Ben.

"Van Speyk.  Don't you remember?  He was in the height of an
engagement with the Belgians, and when he found that they had the
better of him and would capture his ship, he blew it up, and
himself, too, rather than yield to the enemy."

"Wasn't that Van Tromp?"

"Oh, no.  Van Tromp was another brave fellow.  They've a monument
to him down at Delftshaven--the place where the Pilgrims took
ship for America."

"Well, what about Van Tromp?  He was a great Dutch admiral,
wasn't he?"

"Yes, he was in more than thirty sea fights.  He beat the Spanish
fleet and an English one, and then fastened a broom to his
masthead to show that he had swept the English from the sea. 
Takes the Dutch to beat, my boy!"

"Hold up!" cried Ben.  "Broom or no broom, the English conquered
him at last.  I remember all about it now.  He was killed
somewhere on the Dutch coast in an engagement in which the
English fleet was victorious.  Too bad," he added maliciously,
"wasn't it?"

"Ahem!  Where are we?" exclaimed Lambert, changing the subject. 
"Halloo!  The others are way ahead of us--all but Jacob.  Whew! 
How fat he is!  He'll break down before we're halfway."

Ben, of course, enjoyed skating beside Lambert, who, though a
staunch Hollander, had been educated near London and could speak
English as fluently as Dutch, but he was not sorry when Captain
van Holp called out, "Skates off!  There's the museum!"

It was open, and there was no charge on that day for admission. 
In they went, shuffling, as boys will when they have a chance,
just to hear the sound of their shoes on the polished floor.

This museum is in fact a picture gallery where some of the finest
works of the Dutch masters are to be seen, besides nearly two
hundred portfolios of rare engravings.

Ben noticed, at once, that some of the pictures were hung on
panels fastened to the wall with hinges.  These could be swung
forward like a window shutter, thus enabling the subject to be
seen in the best light.  The plan served them well in viewing a
small group by Gerard Douw, called the "Evening School," enabling
them to observe its exquisite finish and the wonderful way in
which the picture seemed to be lit through its own windows. 
Peter pointed out the beauties of another picture by Douw, called
"The Hermit," and he also told them some interesting anecdotes of
the artist, who was born at Leyden in 1613.

"Three days painting a broom handle!" echoed Carl in
astonishment, while the captain was giving some instances of
Douw's extreme slowness of execution.

"Yes, sir, three days.  And it is said that he spent five in
finishing one hand in a lady's portrait.  You see how very bright
and minute everything is in this picture.  His unfinished works
were kept carefully covered and his painting materials were put
away in airtight boxes as soon as he had finished using them for
the day.  According to all accounts, the studio itself must have
been as close as a bandbox.  The artist always entered it on
tiptoe, besides sitting still, before he commenced work, until
the slight dust caused by his entrance had settled.  I have read
somewhere that his paintings are improved by being viewed through
a magnifying glass.  He strained his eyes so badly with the extra
finishing, that he was forced to wear spectacles before he was
thirty.  At forty he could scarcely see to paint, and he couldn't
find a pair of glasses anywhere that would help his sight.  At
last, a poor old German woman asked him to try hers.  They suited
him exactly, and enabled him to go on painting as well as ever."

"Humph!" exclaimed Ludwig indignantly.  "That was high!  What did
SHE do without them, I wonder?"

"Oh," said Peter, laughing, "likely she had another pair.  At any
rate she insisted upon his taking them.  He was so grateful that
he painted a picture of the spectacles for her, case and all, and
she sold it to a burgomaster for a yearly allowance that made her
comfortable for the rest of her days."

"Boys!" called Lambert in a loud whisper, "come look at this
'Bear Hunt.'"

It was a fine painting by Paul Potter, a Dutch artist of the
seventeenth century, who produced excellent works before he was
sixteen years old.  The boys admired it because the subject
pleased them.  They passed carelessly by the masterpieces of
Rembrandt and Van der Helst, and went into raptures over an ugly
picture by Van der Venne, representing a sea fight between the
Dutch and English.  They also stood spellbound before a painting
of two little urchins, one of whom was taking soup and the other
eating an egg.  The principal merit in this work was that the
young egg-eater had kindly slobbered his face with the yolk for
their entertainment.

An excellent representation of the "Feast of Saint Nicholas" next
had the honor of attracting them.

"Look, Van Mounen," said Ben to Lambert.  "Could anything be
better than this youngster's face?  He looks as if he KNOWS he
deserves a whipping, but hopes Saint Nicholas may not have found
him out.  That's the kind of painting I like; something that
tells a story."

"Come, boys!" cried the captain.  "Ten o'clock, time we were
off!"

They hastened to the canal.

"Skates on!  Are you ready?  One, two--halloo!  Where's Poot?"

Sure enough, where WAS Poot?

A square opening had just been cut in the ice not ten yards off. 
Peter observed it and, without a word, skated rapidly toward it.

All the others followed, of course.

Peter looked in.  They all looked in; then stared anxiously at
each other.

"Poot!" screamed Peter, peering into the hole again.  All was
still.  The black water gave no sign; it was already glazing on
top.

Van Mounen turned mysteriously to Ben.
//
"DIDN'T HE HAVE A FIT ONCE?"

"My goodness! yes!" answered Ben in a great fright.

"Then, depend upon it, he's been taken with one in the museum!"

The boys caught his meaning.  Every skate was off in a twinkling. 
Peter had the presence of mind to scoop up a capful of water from
the hole, and off they scampered to the rescue.

Alas!  They did indeed find poor Jacob in a fit, but it was a fit
of sleepiness.  There he lay in a recess of the gallery, snoring
like a trooper!  The chorus of laughter that followed this
discovery brought an angry official to the spot.

"What now!  None of this racket!  Here, you beer barrel, wake
up!"  And Master Jacob received a very unceremonious shaking.

As soon as Peter saw that Jacob's condition was not serious, he
hastened to the street to empty his unfortunate cap.  While he
was stuffing in his handkerchief to prevent the already frozen
crown from touching his head, the rest of the boys came down,
dragging the bewildered and indignant Jacob in their midst.

"The order to start was again given.  Master Poot was wide-awake
at last.  The ice was a little rough and broken just there, but
every boy was in high spirits.

"Shall we go on by the canal or the river?" asked Peter.

"Oh, the river, by all means," said Carl.  "It will be such fun;
they say it is perfect skating all the way, but it's much
farther."

Jacob Poot instantly became interested.

"I vote for the canal!" he cried.

"Well, the canal it shall be," responded the captain, "if all are
agreed."

"Agreed!" they echoed, in rather a disappointed tone, and Captain
Peter led the way.

"All right, come on.  We can reach Haarlem in an hour!"




Big Manias and Little Oddities



While skating along at full speed, they heard the cars from
Amsterdam coming close behind them.

"Halloo!" cried Ludwig, glancing toward the rail track, "who
can't beat a locomotive?  Let's give it a race!"

The whistle screamed at the very idea--so did the boys--and at it
they went.

For an instant the boys were ahead, hurrahing with all their
might--only for an instant, but even THAT was something.

This excitement over, they began to travel more leisurely and
indulge in conversation and frolic.  Sometimes they stopped to
exchange a word with the guards who were stationed at certain
distances along the canal.  These men, in winter, attend to
keeping the surface free from obstruction and garbage.  After a
snowstorm they are expected to sweep the feathery covering away
before it hardens into a marble pretty to look at but very
unwelcome to skaters.  Now and then the boys so far forgot their
dignity as to clamber among the icebound canal boats crowded
together in a widened harbor off the canal, but the watchful
guards would soon spy them out and order them down with a growl.

Nothing could be straighter than the canal upon which our party
were skating, and nothing straighter than the long rows of willow
trees that stood, bare and wispy, along the bank.  On the
opposite side, lifted high above the surrounding country, lay the
carriage road on top of the great dike built to keep the Haarlem
Lake within bounds; stretching out far in the distance, until it
became lost in a point, was the glassy canal with its many
skaters, its brown-winged iceboats, its push-chairs, and its
queer little sleds, light as cork, flying over the ice by means
of iron-pronged sticks in the hands of the riders.  Ben was in
ecstasy with the scene.

Ludwig van Holp had been thinking how strange it was that the
English boy should know so much of Holland.  According to
Lambert's account, he knew more about it than the Dutch did. 
This did not quite please our young Hollander.  Suddenly he
thought of something that he believed would make the "Shon Pull"
open his eyes; he drew near Lambert with a triumphant "Tell him
about the tulips!"

Ben caught the word tulpen.

"Oh, yes!" said he eagerly, in English, "the Tulip Mania--are you
speaking of that?  I have often heard it mentioned but know very
little about it.  It reached its height in Amsterdam, didn't it?"

Ludwig moaned; the words were hard to understand, but there was
no mistaking the enlightened expression on Ben's face.  Lambert,
happily, was quite unconscious of his young countryman's distress
as he replied, "Yes, here and in Haarlem, principally; but the
excitement ran high all over Holland, and in England too for that
matter."

"Hardly in England, *{Although the Tulip Mania did not prevail in
England as in Holland, the flower soon became an object of
speculation and brought very large prices.  In 1636, tulips were
publicly sold on the Exchange of London.  Even as late as 1800 a
common price was fifteen guineas for one bulb.  Ben did not know
that in his own day a single tulip plant, called the "Fanny
Kemble", had been sold in London for more than seventy guineas.

Mr Mackay, in his "Memoirs of Popular Delusions," tells a funny
story of an English botanist who happened to see a tulip bulb
lying in the conservatory of a wealthy Dutchman.  Ignorant if its
value, he took out his penknife and, cutting the bulb in two,
became very much interested in his investigations.  Suddenly the
owner appeared and, pouncing furiously upon him, asked if he knew
what he was doing.  "Peeling a most extraordinary onion," replied
the philosopher.  "Hundert tousant tuyvel!" shouted the
Dutchman, "it's an Admiral Van der Eyk!"  "Thank you," replied
the traveler, immediately writing the name in his notebook. 
"Pray, are these very common in your country?"  "Death and the
tuyvel!" screamed the Dutchman, "come before the Syndic and you
shall see!"  In spite of his struggles the poor investigator,
followed by an indignant mob, was taken through the streets to a
magistrate.  Soon he learned to his dismay that he had destroyed
a bulb worth 4,000 florins ($1,600).  He was lodged in prison
until securities could be procured for the payment of the sum.} I
think," said Ben, "but I am not sure, as I was not there at the
time."

"Ha! ha! that's true, unless you are over two hundred years old. 
Well, I tell you, sir, there never was anything like it before
nor since.  Why, persons were so crazy after tulip bulbs in those
days that they paid their weight in gold for them."

"What, the weight of a man!" cried Ben, showing such astonishment
in his eyes that Ludwig fairly capered.

"No, no, the weight of a BULB.  The first tulip was sent here
from Constantinople about the year 1560.  It was so much admired
that the rich people of Amsterdam sent to Turkey for more.  From
that time they grew to be the rage, and it lasted for years. 
Single roots brought from one to four thousand florins; and one
bulb, the Semper Augustus, brought fifty-five hundred."

"That's more than four hundred guineas of our money," interposed
Ben.

"Yes, and I know I'm right, for I read it in a translation from
Beckman, only day before yesterday.  Well, sir, it was great. 
Everyone speculated in tulips, even bargemen and rag women and
chimney sweeps.  The richest merchants were not ashamed to share
the excitement.  People bought bulbs and sold them again at a
tremendous profit without ever seeing them.  It grew into a kind
of gambling.  Some became rich by it in a few days, and some lost
everything they had.  Land, houses, cattle, and even clothing
went for tulips when people had no ready money.  Ladies sold
their jewels and finery to enable them to join in the fun. 
Nothing else was thought of.  At last the States-General
interfered.  People began to see what dunces they were making of
themselves, and down went the price of tulips.  Old tulip debts
couldn't be collected.  Creditors went to law, and the law turned
its back upon them; debts made in gambling were not binding, it
said.  Then there was a time!  Thousands of rich speculators were
reduced to beggary in an hour.  As old Beckman says, 'The bubble
was burst at last.'"

"Yes, and a big bubble it was," said Ben, who had listened with
great interest.  "By the way, did you know that the name tulip
came from a Turkish word, signifying turban?"

"I had forgotten that," answered Lambert, "but it's a capital
idea.  Just fancy a party of Turks in full headgear squatted upon
a lawn--perfect tulip bed!  Ha! ha!  Capital idea!"

"There," groaned Ludwig to himself, "he's been telling Lambert
something wonderful about tulips--I knew it!"

"The fact is," continued Lambert, "you can conjure up quite a
human picture of a tulip bed in bloom, especially when it is
nodding and bobbing in the wind.  Did you ever notice it?"

"Not I.  It strikes me, Van Mounen, that you Hollanders are
prodigiously fond of the flower to this day."

"Certainly.  You can't have a garden without them; prettiest
flower that grows, I think.  My uncle has a magnificent bed of
the finest varieties at his summer house on the other side of
Amsterdam."

"I thought your uncle lived in the city?"

"So he does; but his summer house, or pavilion, is a few miles
off.  He has another one built out over the river.  We passed
near it when we entered the city.  Everybody in Amsterdam has a
pavilion somewhere, if he can."

"Do they ever live there?" asked Ben.

"Bless you, no!  They are small affairs, suitable only to spend a
few hours in on summer afternoons.  There are some beautiful ones
on the southern end of the Haarlem Lake--now that they've
commenced to drain it into polders, it will spoil THAT fun.  By
the way, we've passed some red-roofed ones since we left home. 
You noticed them, I suppose, with their little bridges and ponds
and gardens, and their mottoes over the doorway."

Ben nodded.

"They make but little show, now," continued Lambert, "but in warm
weather they are delightful.  After the willows sprout, uncle
goes to his summer house every afternoon.  He dozes and smokes;
aunt knits, with her feet perched upon a foot stove, never mind
how hot the day; my cousin Rika and the other girls fish in the
lake from the windows or chat with their friends rowing by; and
the youngsters tumble about or hang upon the little bridges over
the ditch.  Then they have coffee and cakes, beside a great bunch
of water lilies on the table.  It's very fine, I can tell you;
only (between ourselves), though I was born here, I shall never
fancy the odor of stagnant water that hangs about most of the
summer houses.  Nearly every one you see is built over a ditch. 
Probably I feel it more, from having lived so long in England."

"Perhaps I shall notice it too," said Ben, "if a thaw comes.  The
early winter has covered up the fragrant waters for my
benefit--much obliged to it.  Holland without this glorious
skating wouldn't be the same thing at all."

"How very different you are from the Poots!" exclaimed Lambert,
who had been listening in a sort of brown study.  "And yet you
are cousins--I cannot understand it."

"We ARE cousins, or rather we have always considered ourselves
such, but the relationship is not very close.  Our grandmothers
were half-sisters.  MY side of the family is entirely English,
while he is entirely Dutch.  Old Great-grandfather Poot married
twice, you see, and I am a descendant of his English wife.  I
like Jacob, though, better than half of my English cousins put
together.  He is the truest-hearted, best-natured boy I ever
knew.  Strange as you may think it, my father became accidentally
acquainted with Jacob's father while on a business visit to
Rotterdam.  They soon talked over their relationship--in French,
by the way--and they have corresponded in the language ever
since.  Queer things come about in this world.  My sister Jenny
would open her eyes at some of Aunt Poot's ways.  Aunt is a
thorough lady, but so different from mother--and the house, too,
and furniture, and way of living, everything is different."

"Of course," assented Lambert, complacently, as if to say You
could scarcely expect such general perfection anywhere else than
in Holland.  "But you will have all the more to tell Jenny when
you go back."

"Yes, indeed.  I can say one thing--if cleanliness is, as they
claim, next to godliness, Broek is safe.  It is the cleanest
place I ever saw in my life.  Why, my Aunt Poot, rich as she is,
scrubs half the time, and her house looks as if it were varnished
all over.  I wrote to mother yesterday that I could see my double
always with me, feet to feet, in the polished floor of the dining
room."

"Your DOUBLE!  That word puzzles me; what do you mean?"

"Oh, my reflection, my apparition.  Ben Dobbs number two."

"Ah, I see," exclaimed Van Mounen.  "Have you ever been in your
Aunt Poot's grand parlor?"

Ben laughed.  "Only once, and that was on the day of my arrival. 
Jacob says I shall have no chance of entering it again until the
time of his sister Kanau's wedding, the week after Christmas. 
Father has consented that I shall remain to witness the great
event.  Every Saturday Aunt Poot and her fat Kate go into that
parlor and sweep and polish and scrub; then it is darkened and
closed until Saturday comes again; not a soul enters it in the
meantime; but the schoonmaken, as she calls it, must be done
just the same."

"That is nothing.  Every parlor in Broek meets with the same
treatment," said Lambert.  "What do you think of those moving
figures in her neighbor's garden?"

"Oh, they're well enough; the swans must seem really alive
gliding about the pond in summer; but that nodding mandarin in
the corner, under the chestnut trees, is ridiculous, only fit for
children to laugh at.  And then the stiff garden patches, and the
trees all trimmed and painted.  Excuse me, Van Mounen, but I
shall never learn to admire Dutch taste."

"It will take time," answered Lambert condescendingly, "but you
are sure to agree with it at last.  I saw much to admire in
England, and I hope I shall be sent back with you to study at
Oxford, but, take everything together, I like Holland best."

"Of course you do," said Ben in a tone of hearty approval.  "You
wouldn't be a good Hollander if you didn't.  Nothing like loving
one's country.  It is strange, though, to have such a warm
feeling for such a cold place.  If we were not exercising all the
time, we should freeze outright."

Lambert laughed.

"That's your English blood, Benjamin.  I'M not cold.  And look at
the skaters here on the canal--they're red as roses and happy as
lords.  Halloo, good Captain van Holp," called out Lambert in
Dutch, "what say you to stopping at yonder farmhouse and warming
our toes?"

"Who is cold?" asked Peter, turning around.

"Benjamin Dobbs."

"Benjamin Dobbs shall be warmed," and the party was brought to a
halt.




On the Way to Haarlem



On approaching the door of the farmhouse the boys suddenly found
themselves in the midst of a lively domestic scene.  A burly
Dutchman came rushing out, closely followed by his dear vrouw,
and she was beating him smartly with her long-handled warming
pan.  The expression on her face gave our boys so little promise
of a kind reception that they prudently resolved to carry their
toes elsewhere to be warmed.

The next cottage proved to be more inviting.  Its low roof of
bright red tiles extended over the cow stable that, clean as
could be, nestled close to the main building.  A neat,
peaceful-looking old woman sat at one window, knitting.  At the
other could be discerned part of the profile of a fat figure
that, pipe in mouth, sat behind the shining little panes and
snowy curtain.  In answer to Peter's subdued knock, a
fair-haired, rosy-cheeked lass in holiday attire opened the upper
half of the green door (which was divided across the middle) and
inquired their errand.

"May we enter and warm ourselves, jufvrouw?" asked the captain
respectfully.

"Yes, and welcome" was the reply as the lower half of the door
swung softly toward its mate.  Every boy, before entering, rubbed
long and faithfully upon the rough mat, and each made his best
bow to the old lady and gentleman at the window.  Ben was half
inclined to think that these personages were automata like the
moving figures in the garden at Broek; for they both nodded their
heads slowly, in precisely the same way, and both went on with
their employment as steadily and stiffly as though they worked by
machinery.  The old man puffed, puffed, and his vrouw clicked
her knitting needles, as if regulated by internal cog wheels. 
Even the real smoke issuing from the motionless pipe gave no
convincing proof that they were human.

But the rosy-cheeked maiden.  Ah, how she bustled about.  How she
gave the boys polished high-backed chairs to sit upon, how she
made the fire blaze as if it were inspired, how she made Jacob
Poot almost weep for joy by bringing forth a great square of
gingerbread and a stone jug of sour wine!  How she laughed and
nodded as the boys ate like wild animals on good behavior, and
how blank she looked when Ben politely but firmly refused to take
any black bread and sauerkraut!  How she pulled off Jacob's
mitten, which was torn at the thumb, and mended it before his
eyes, biting off the thread with her whit teeth, and saying "Now
it will be warmer" as she bit; and finally, how she shook hands
with every boy in turn and, throwing a deprecating glance at the
female automaton, insisted upon filling their pockets with
gingerbread!

All this time the knitting needles clicked on, and the pipe never
missed a puff.

When the boys were fairly on their way again, they came in sight
of the Zwanenburg Castle with its massive stone front, and its
gateway towers, each surmounted with a sculptured swan.

"Halfweg, *{Halfway.} boys," said Peter, "off with your skates."

"You see," explained Lambert to his companions, "the Y and the
Haarlem Lake meeting here make it rather troublesome.  The river
is five feet higher than the land, so we must have everything
strong in the way of dikes and sluice gates, or there would be
wet work at once.  The sluice arrangements are supposed to be
something extra.  We will walk over them and you shall see enough
to make you open your eyes.  The spring water of the lake, they
say, has the most wonderful bleaching powers of any in the world;
all the great Haarlem bleacheries use it.  I can't say much upon
that subject, but I can tell you ONE thing from personal
experience."

"What is that?"

"Why, the lake is full of the biggest eels you ever saw.  I've
caught them here, often--perfectly prodigious!  I tell you
they're sometimes a match for a fellow; they'd almost wriggle
your arm from the socket if you were not on your guard.  But
you're not interested in eels, I perceive.  The castle's a big
affair, isn't it?"

"Yes.  What do those swans mean?  Anything?" asked Ben, looking
up at the stone gate towers.

"The swan is held almost in reverence by us Hollanders.  These
give the building its name--Zwanenburg, swan castle.  That is all
I know.  This is a very important spot; for it is here that the
wise ones hold council with regard to dike matters.  The castle
was once the residence of the celebrated Christian Brunings."

"What about HIM?" asked Ben.

"Peter could answer you better than I," said Lambert, "if you
could only understand each other, or were not such cowards about
leaving your mother tongues.  But I have often heard my
grandfather speak of Brunings.  He is never tired of telling us
of the great engineer--how good he was and how learned and how,
when he died, the whole country seemed to mourn as for a friend. 
He belonged to a great many learned societies and was at the head
of the State Department intrusted with the care of the dikes and
other defences against the sea.  There's no counting the
improvements he made in dikes and sluices and water mills and all
that kind of thing.  We Hollanders, you know, consider our great
engineers as the highest of public benefactors.  Brunings died
years ago; they've a monument to his memory in the cathedral of
Haarlem.  I have seen his portrait, and I tell you, Ben, he was
right noble-looking.  No wonder the castle looks so stiff and
proud.  It is something to have given shelter to such a man!"

"Yes, indeed," said Ben.  "I wonder, Van Mounen, whether you or I
will ever give any old building a right to feel so proud. 
Heigh-ho!  There's a great deal to be done yet in this world and
some of us, who are boys now, will have to do it.  Look to your
shoe latchet, Van.  It's unfastened.




A Catastrophe



It was nearly one o'clock when Captain van Holp and his command
entered the grand old city of Haarlem.  They had skated nearly
seventeen miles since morning and were still as fresh as young
eagles.  From the youngest (Ludwig van Holp, who was just
fourteen) to the eldest, no less a personage than the captain
himself, a veteran of seventeen, there was but one opinion--that
this was the greatest frolic of their lives.  To be sure, Jacob
Poot had become rather short of breath during the last mile of
two, and perhaps he felt ready for another nap, but there was
enough jollity in him yet for a dozen.  Even Carl Schummel, who
had become very intimate with Ludwig during the excursion, forgot
to be ill-natured.  As for Peter, he was the happiest of the
happy and had sung and whistled so joyously while skating that
the staidest passersby had smiled as they listened.

"Come, boys!  It's nearly tiffin hour," he said as they neared a
coffeehouse on the main street.  "We must have something more
solid than the pretty maiden's gingerbread"--and the captain
plunged his hands into his pockets as if to say, "There's money
enough here to feed an army!"

"Halloo!" cried Lambert.  "What ails the man?"

Peter, pale and staring, was clapping his hands upon his breast
and sides.  He looked like one suddenly becoming deranged.

"He's sick!" cried Ben.

"No, he's lost something," said Carl.

Peter could only gasp, "The pocketbook with all our money in
it--it's gone!"

For an instant all were too much startled to speak.

Carl at last came out with a gruff, "No sense in letting one
fellow have all the money.  I said so from the first.  Look in
your other pocket."

"I did.  It isn't there."

"Open your underjacket."

Peter obeyed mechanically.  He even took off his hat and looked
into it, then thrust his hand desperately into every pocket.

"It's gone, boys," he said at last in a hopeless tone.  "No
tiffin for us, nor dinner, either.  What is to be done?  We
can't get on without money.  If we were in Amsterdam, I could get
as much as we want, but there is not a man in Haarlem from whom I
can borrow a stiver.  Doesn't one of you know anyone here who
would lend us a few guilders?"

Each boy looked into five blank faces.  Then something like a
smile passed around the circle, but it got sadly knotted up when
it reached Carl.

"That wouldn't do," he said crossly.  "I know some people here,
rich ones, too, but father would flog me soundly if I borrowed a
cent from anyone.  He has 'An honest man need not borrow' written
over the gateway of his summer house."

"Humph!" responded Peter, not particularly admiring the sentiment
just at that moment.

The boys grew desperately hungry at once.

"It wash my fault," said Jacob, in a penitent tone, to Ben.  "I
say first, petter all de boys put zair pursh into Van Holp's
monish."

"Nonsense, Jacob.  You did it all for the best."

Ben said this in such a sprightly tone that the two Van Holps and
Carl felt sure that he had proposed a plan that would relieve the
party at once.

"What? what?  Tell us, Van Mounen," they cried.

"He says it is not Jacob's fault that the money is lost--that he
did it for the best when he proposed that Van Holp should put all
of our money into his purse."

"Is that all?" said Ludwig dismally.  "He need not have made such
a fuss in just saying THAT.  How much money have we lost?"

"Don't you remember?" said Peter.  "We each put in exactly ten
guilders.  The purse had sixty guilders in it.  I am the
stupidest fellow in the world; little Schimmelpenninck would have
made you a better captain.  I could pommel myself for bringing
such a disappointment upon you."

"Do it, then," growled Carl.  "Pooh," he added, "we all know that
it was an accident, but that doesn't help matters.  We must have
money, Van Holp--even if you have to sell your wonderful watch."

"Sell my mother's birthday present!  Never!  I will sell my coat,
my hat, anything but my watch."

"Come, come," said Jacob pleasantly, "we are making too much of
this affair.  We can go home and start again in a day or two."

"YOU may be able to get another ten-guilder piece," said Carl,
"but the rest of us will not find it so easy.  If we go home, we
stay home, you may depend."

Our captain, whose good nature had not yet forsaken him for a
moment, grew indignant.

"Do you think that I will let you suffer for my carelessness?" he
exclaimed.  "I have three times sixty guilders in my strong box
at home!"

"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Carl hastily, adding in a surlier
tone, "Well, I see no better way than to go back hungry."

"I see a better plan than that," said the captain.

"What is it?" cried all the boys.

"Why, to make the best of a bad business and go back pleasantly
and like men," said Peter, looking so gallant and handsome as he
turned his frank face and clear blue eyes upon them that they
caught his spirit.

"Ho for the captain!" they shouted.

"Now, boys, we may as well make up our minds, there's no place
like Broek, after all--and that we mean to be there in two hours. 
Is that agreed to?"

"Agreed!" cried all as they ran to the canal.

"On with your skates!  Are you ready?  Here, Jacob, let me help
you."

"Now.  One, two, three, start!"

And the boyish faces that left Haarlem at that signal were nearly
as bright as those that had entered it with Captain Peter half an
hour before.




Hans



"Donder and Blixin!" cried Carl angrily, before the party had
skated twenty yards from the city gates, "if here isn't that
wooden-skate ragamuffin in the patched leather breeches.  That
fellow is everywhere, confound him!  We'll be lucky," he added,
in as sneering a tone as he dared to assume, "if our captain
doesn't order us to halt and shake hands with him."

"Your captain is a terrible fellow," said Peter pleasantly, "but
this is a false alarm, Carl.  I cannot spy your bugbear anywhere
among the skaters.  Ah, there he is!  Why, what is the matter
with the lad?"

Poor Hans!  His face was pale, his lips compressed.  He skated
like one under the effects of a fearful dream.  Just as he was
passing, Peter hailed him:

"Good day, Hans Brinker!"

Hans's countenance brightened at once.  "Ah, mynheer, is that
you?  It is well we meet!"

"Just like his impertinence," hissed Carl Schummel, darting
scornfully past his companions, who seemed inclined to linger
with their captain.

"I am glad to see you, Hans," responded Peter cheerfully, "but
you look troubled.  Can I serve you?"

"I have a trouble, mynheer," answered Hans, casting down his
eyes.  Then, lifting them again with almost a happy expression,
he added, "But it is Hans who can help Mynheer van Holp THIS
time."

"How?" asked Peter, making, in his blunt Dutch way, no attempt to
conceal his surprise.

"By giving you THIS, mynheer."  And Hans held forth the missing
purse.

"Hurrah!" shouted the boys, taking their cold hands from their
pockets to wave them joyfully in the air.  But Peter said "Thank
you, Hans Brinker" in a tone that made Hans feel as if the king
had knelt to him.

The shout of the delighted boys had reached the muffled ears of
the fine young gentleman who, under a full pressure of pent-up
wrath, was skating toward Amsterdam.  A Yankee boy would have
wheeled about at once and hastened to satisfy his curiosity.  But
Carl only halted, and, with his back toward his party, wondered
what on earth had happened.  There he stood, immovable, until,
feeling sure that nothing but the prospect of something to eat
could have made them hurrah so heartily, he turned and skated
slowly toward his excited comrades.

In the meantime Peter had drawn Hans aside from the rest.

"How did you know it was my purse?" he asked.

"You paid me three guilders yesterday, mynheer, for making the
whitewood chain, telling me that I must buy skates."

"Yes, I remember."

"I saw your purse then.  It was of yellow leather."

"And where did you find it today?"

"I left my home this morning, mynheer, in great trouble, and as
I skated, I took no heed until I stumbled against some lumber,
and while I was rubbing my knee I saw your purse nearly hidden
under a log."

"That place!  Ah, I remember now.  Just as we were passing it I
pulled my tippet from my pocket and probably flipped out the
purse at the same time.  It would have been gone but for you,
Hans.  Here"--pouring out the contents--"you must give us the
pleasure of dividing the money with you."

"No, mynheer," answered Hans.  He spoke quietly, without
pretence or any grace of manner, but Peter, somehow, felt
rebuked, and put the silver back without a word.

I like that boy, rich or poor, he thought to himself, then added
aloud, "May I ask about this trouble of yours, Hans?"

"Ah, mynheer, it is a sad case, but I have waited here too long. 
I am going to Leyden to see the great Dr. Boekman."

"Dr. Boekman!" exclaimed Peter in astonishment.

"Yes, mynheer, and I have not a moment to lose.  Good day!"

"Stay, I am going that way.  Come, my lads!  Shall we return to
Haarlem!"

"Yes," cried the boys, eagerly--and off they started.

"Now," said Peter, drawing near Hans, both skimming the ice so
easily and lightly as they skated on together that they seemed
scarcely conscious of moving.  "We are going to stop at Leyden,
and if you are going there only with a message to Dr. Boekman,
cannot I do the errand for you?  The boys may be too tired to
skate so far today, but I will promise to see him early tomorrow
if he is to be found in the city."

"Ah, mynheer, that would be serving me indeed; it is not the
distance I dread but leaving my mother so long."

"Is she ill?"

"No, mynheer.  It is the father.  You may have heard it, how he
has been without wit for many a year--ever since the great
Schlossen Mill was built; but his body has been well and strong. 
Last night the mother knelt upon the hearth to blow the peat (it
is his only delight to sit and watch the live embers, and she
will blow them into a blaze every hour of the day to please him). 
Before she could stir, he sprang upon her like a giant and held
her close to the fire, all the time laughing and shaking his
head.  I was on the canal, but I heard the mother scream and ran
to her.  The father had never loosened his hold, and her gown was
smoking.  I tried to deaden the fire, but with one hand he pushed
me off.  There was no water in the cottage or I could have done
better, and all that time he laughed--such a terrible laugh,
mynheer, hardly a sound, but all in his face.  I tried to pull
her away, but that only made it worse.  Then--it was dreadful,
but could I see the mother burn?  I beat him--beat him with a
stool.  He tossed me away.  The gown was on fire.!  I WOULD put
it out.  I can't remember well after that.  I found myself upon
the floor, and the mother was praying.  It seemed to me that she
was in a blaze, and all the while I could hear that laugh. 
Gretel flew to the closet and filled a porringer with the food he
liked and put it upon the floor.  Then, mynheer, he left the
mother and crawled to it like a little child.  She was not
burned, only a part of her clothing.  Ah, how kind she was to him
all night, watching and tending him.  He slept in a high fever,
with his hands pressed to his head.  The mother says he has done
that so much of late, as though he felt pain there.  Ah,
mynheer, I did not mean to tell you.  If the father was himself,
he would not harm even a kitten."

For a moment the two boys moved on in silence.

"It is terrible," said Peter at last.  "How is he today?"

"Very sick, mynheer."

"Why go for Dr. Boekman, Hans?  There are others in Amsterdam who
could help him, perhaps.  Boekman is a famous man, sought only by
the wealthiest, and they often wait upon him in vain."

"He PROMISED, mynheer, he promised me yesterday to come to the
father in a week.  But now that the change has come, we cannot
wait.  We think the poor father is dying.  Oh, mynheer, you can
plead with him to come quick.  He will not wait a whole week and
our father dying, the good meester is so kind."

"SO KIND!" echoed Peter in astonishment.  "Why, he is known as
the crossest man in Holland!"

"He looks so because he has no fat and his head is busy, but his
heart is kind, I know.  Tell the meester what I have told you,
mynheer, and he will come."

"I hope so, Hans, with all my heart.  You are in haste to turn
homeward, I see.  Promise me that should you need a friend, you
will go to my mother in Broek.  Tell her I bade you see her. 
And, Hans Brinker, not as a reward, but as a gift, take a few of
these guilders."

Hans shook his head resolutely.

"No, no, mynheer.  I cannot take it.  If I could find work in
Broek or at the South Mill, I would be glad, but it is the same
story everywhere--'Wait until spring'".

"It is well you speak of it," said Peter eagerly, "for my father
needs help at once.  Your pretty chain pleased him much.  He
said, 'That boy has a clean cut; he would be good at carving.' 
There is to be a carved portal to our new summer house, and
father will pay well for the job."

"God is good!" cried Hans in sudden delight.  "Oh, mynheer, that
would be too much joy.  I have never tried big work, but I can do
it.  I know I can."

"Well, tell my father you are the Hans Brinker of whom I spoke. 
He will be glad to serve you."

Hans stared in honest surprise.

"Thank you, mynheer."

"Now, captain," shouted Carl, anxious to appear as good humored
as possible, by way of atonement, "here we are in the midst of
Haarlem, and no word from you yet.  We await your orders, and
we're as hungry as wolves."

Peter made a cheerful answer, and turned hurriedly to Hans.

"Come, get something to eat, and I will detain you no longer.'

What a quick, wistful look Hans threw upon him!  Peter wondered
that he had not noticed before that the poor boy was hungry.

"Ah, mynheer, even now the mother may need me, the father may be
worse--I must not wait.  May God care for you."  And, nodding
hastily, Hans turned his face homeward and was gone.

"Come, boys," sighed Peter, "now for our tiffin!"




Homes



It must not be supposed that our young Dutchmen had already
forgotten the great skating race which was to take place on the
twentieth.  On the contrary, they had thought and spoken of it
very often during the day.  Even Ben, though he had felt more
like a traveler than the rest, had never once, through all the
sight-seeing, lost a certain vision of silver skates which, for a
week past, had haunted him night and day.

Like a true "John Bull," as Jacob had called him, he never
doubted that his English fleetness, English strength, English
everything, could at any time enable him, on the ice, to put all
Holland to shame, and the rest of the world too, for that matter. 
Ben certainly was a superb skater.  He had enjoyed not half the
opportunities for practicing that had fallen to his new comrades
but he had improved his share to the utmost and was, besides, so
strong of frame, so supple of limb, in short, such a tight, trim,
quick, graceful fellow in every way that he had taken to skating
as naturally as a chamois to leaping or an eagle to soaring.

Only to the heavy heart of poor Hans had the vision of the silver
skates failed to appear during that starry winter night and the
brighter sunlit day.

Even Gretel had seen them flitting before her as she sat beside
her mother through those hours of weary watching--not as prizes
to be won, but as treasures passing hopelessly beyond her reach.

Rychie, Hilda, and Katrinka--why, they had scarcely known any
other thought than "The race, the race.  It will come off on the
twentieth!"

These three girls were friends.  Though of nearly the same age,
talent, and station, they were as different as girls could be.

Hilda van Gleck, as you already know, was a warm-hearted, noble
girl of fourteen.  Rychie Korbes was beautiful to look upon, far
more sparkling and pretty than Hilda but not half so bright and
sunny within.  Clouds of pride, of discontent, and envy had
already gathered in her heart and were growing bigger and darker
every day.  Of course, these often relieved themselves very much
after the manner of other clouds.  But who saw the storms and the
weeping?  Only her maid or her father, mother, and little
brother--those who loved her better than all.  Like other clouds,
too, hers often took queer shapes, and what was really but mist
and vapory fancy assumed the appearance of monster wrongs and
mountains of difficulty.  To her mind, the poor peasant girl
Gretel was not a human being, a God-created creature like
herself--she was only something that meant poverty, rags, and
dirt.  Such as Gretel had no right to feel, to hope; above all,
they should never cross the paths of their betters--that is, not
in a disagreeable way.  They could toil and labor for them at a
respectful distance, even admire them, if they would do it
humbly, but nothing more.  If they rebel, put them down; if they
suffer, "Don't trouble me about it" was Rychie's secret motto. 
And yet how witty she was, how tastefully she dressed, how
charmingly she sang; how much feeling she displayed (for pet
kittens and rabbits), and how completely she could bewitch
sensible, honest-minded lads like Lambert van Mounen and Ludwig
van Holp!

Carl was too much like her, within, to be an earnest admirer, and
perhaps he suspected the clouds.  He, being deep and surly and
always uncomfortably in earnest, of course preferred the lively
Katrinka, whose nature was made of a hundred tinkling bells.  She
was a coquette in her infancy, a coquette in her childhood, and
now a coquette in her school days.  Without a thought of harm she
coquetted with her studies, her duties, even her little troubles. 
She coquetted with her mother, her pet lamb, her baby brother,
even with her own golden curls--tossing them back as if she
despised them.  Everyone liked her, but who could love her?  She
was never in earnest.  A pleasant face, a pleasant heart, a
pleasant manner--these satisfy for an hour.  Poor happy Katrinka! 
She tinkled, tinkled so merrily through their early days, but
life is so apt to coquette with them in turn, to put all their
sweet bells out of tune or to silence them one by one!

How different were the homes of these three girls from the
tumbling old cottage where Gretel dwelt.  Rychie lived in a
beautiful house near Amsterdam, where the carved sideboards were
laden with services of silver and gold and where silken
tapestries hung in folds from ceiling to floor.

Hilda's father owned the largest mansion in Broek.  Its
glittering roof of polished tiles and its boarded front, painted
in half a dozen various colors, were the admiration of the
neighborhood.

Katrinka's home, not a mile distant, was the finest of Dutch
country seats.  The garden was so stiffly laid out in little
paths and patches that the birds might have mistaken it for a
great Chinese puzzle with all the pieces spread out ready for
use.  But in summer it was beautiful; the flowers made the best
of their stiff quarters, and, when the gardener was not watching,
glowed and bent about each other in the prettiest way imaginable. 
Such a tulip bed!  Why, the queen of the fairies would never care
for a grander city in which to hold her court!  But Katrinka
preferred the bed of pink and white hyacinths.  She loved their
freshness and fragrance and the lighthearted way in which their
bell-shaped blossoms swung in the breeze.

Carl was both right and wrong when he said that Katrinka and
Rychie were furious at the very idea of the peasant Gretel
joining in the race.  He had heard Rychie declare that it was
"Disgraceful, shameful, too bad!" which in Dutch, as in English,
is generally the strongest expression an indignant girl can use;
and he had seen Katrinka nod her pretty head and heard her
sweetly echo, "Shameful, too bad!" as nearly like Rychie as
tinkling bells can be like the voice of real anger.  This had
satisfied him.  He never suspected that had Hilda, not Rychie,
first talked with Katrinka upon the subject, the bells would have
jingled as willing an echo.  She would have said, "Certainly, let
her join us," and would have skipped off thinking no more about
it.  But now Katrinka with sweet emphasis pronounced it a shame
that a goose-girl, a forlorn little creature like Gretel, should
be allowed to spoil the race.

Rychie Korbes, being rich and powerful (in a schoolgirl way), had
other followers besides Katrinka who were induced to share her
opinions because they were either too careless or too cowardly to
think for themselves.

Poor little Gretel!  Her home was sad and dark enough now.  Raff
Brinker lay moaning upon his rough bed, and his vrouw,
forgetting and forgiving everything, bathed his forehead, his
lips, weeping and praying that he might not die.  Hans, as we
know, had started in desperation for Leyden to search for Dr.
Boekman and induce him, if possible, to come to their father at
once.  Gretel, filled with a strange dread, had done the work as
well as she could, wiped the rough brick floor, brought peat to
build up the slow fire, and melted ice for her mother's use. 
This accomplished, she seated herself upon a low stool near the
bed and begged her mother to try to sleep awhile.

"You are so tired," she whispered.  "Not once have you closed
your eyes since that dreadful hour last night.  See, I have
straightened the willow bed in the corner, and spread everything
soft upon it I could find, so that the mother might lie in
comfort.  Here is your jacket.  Take off that pretty dress.  I'll
fold it away very carefully and put it in the big chest before
you go to sleep."

Dame Brinker shook her head without turning her eyes from her
husband's face.

"I can watch, mother," urged Gretel, "and I'll wake you every
time the father stirs.  You are so pale, and your eyes are so
red!  Oh, mother, DO!"

The child pleaded in vain.  Dame Brinker would not leave her
post.

Gretel looked at her in troubled silence, wondering whether it
were very wicked to care more for one parent than for the other,
and sure--yes, quite sure--that she dreaded her father while she
clung to her mother with a love that was almost idolatry.

Hans loves the father so well, she thought, why cannot I?  Yet I
could not help crying when I saw his hand bleed that day, last
month, when he snatched the knife--and now, when he moans, how I
ache, ache all over.  Perhaps I love him, after all, and God will
see that I am not such a bad, wicked girl as I thought.  Yes, I
love the poor father--almost as Hans does--not quite, for Hans is
stronger and does not fear him.  Oh, will that moaning go on
forever and ever!  Poor mother, how patient she is; SHE never
pouts, as I do, about the money that went away so strangely.  If
he only could, for one instant, open his eyes and look at us, as
Hans does, and tell us where mother's guilders went, I would not
care for the rest.  Yes, I would care; I don't want the poor
father to die, to be all blue and cold like Annie Bouman's little
sister.  I KNOW I don't.  Dear God, I don't want Father to die.

Her thoughts merged into a prayer.  When it ended the poor child
scarcely knew.  Soon she found herself watching a little pulse of
light at the side of the fire, beating faintly but steadily,
showing that somewhere in the dark pile there was warmth and
light that would overspread it at last.  A large earthen cup
filled with burning peat stood near the bedside; Gretel had
placed it there to "stop the father's shivering," she said.  She
watched it as it sent a glow around the mother's form, tipping
her faded skirt with light and shedding a sort of newness over
the threadbare bodice.  It was a relief to Gretel to see the
lines in that weary face soften as the firelight flickered gently
across it.

Next she counted the windowpanes, broken and patched as they
were, and finally, after tracing every crack and seam in the
walls, fixed her gaze upon a carved shelf made by Hans.  The
shelf hung as high as Gretel could reach.  It held a large
leather-covered Bible with brass clasps, a wedding present to
Dame Brinker from the family at Heidelberg.

Ah, how handy Hans is!  If he were here, he could turn the father
some way so the moans would stop.  Dear, dear!  If this sickness
lasts, we shall never skate anymore.  I must send my new skates
back to the beautiful lady.  Hans and I will not see the race. 
And Gretel's eyes, that had been dry before, grew full of tears.

"Never cry, child," said her mother soothingly.  "This sickness
may not be as bad as we think.  The father has lain this way
before."

Gretel sobbed now.

"Oh, mother, it is not that alone--you do not know all.  I am
very, very bad and wicked!"

"YOU, Gretel! you so patient and good!" and a bright, puzzled
look beamed for an instant upon the child.  "Hush, lovey, you'll
wake him."

Gretel hid her face in her mother's lap and tried not to cry.

Her little hand, so thin and brown, lay in the coarse palm of her
mother's, creased with many a hard day's work.  Rychie would have
shuddered to touch either, yet they pressed warmly upon each
other.  Soon Gretel looked up with that dull, homely look which,
they say, poor children in shanties are apt to have, and said in
a trembling voice, "The father tried to burn you--he did--I saw
him, and he was LAUGHING!"

"Hush, child!"

The mother's words came so suddenly and sharply that Raff
Brinker, dead as he was to all that was passing around him,
twitched slightly upon the bed.

Gretel said no more but plucked drearily at the jagged edge of a
hole in her mother's holiday gown.  It had been burned there. 
Well for Dame Brinker that the gown was woolen.




Haarlem--The Boys Hear Voices



Refreshed and rested, our boys came forth from the coffeehouse
just as the big clock in the square, after the manner of certain
Holland timekeepers, was striking two with its half-hour bell for
half-past two.

The captain was absorbed in thought, at first, for Hans Brinker's
sad story still echoed in his ears.  Not until Ludwig rebuked him
with a laughing "Wake up, grandfather!" did he reassume his
position as gallant boy-leader of his band.

"Ahem! this way, young gentlemen!"

They were walking through the city, not on a curbed sidewalk, for
such a thing is rarely to be found in Holland, but on the brick
pavement that lay on the borders of the cobblestone carriage-way
without breaking its level expanse.

Haarlem, like Amsterdam, was gayer than usual, in honor of Saint
Nicholas.

A strange figure was approaching them.  It was a small man
dressed in black, with a short cloak.  He wore a wig and a cocked
hat from which a long crepe streamer was flying.

"Who comes here?" cried Ben.  "What a queer-looking object."

"That's the aanspreeker," said Lambert.  "Someone is dead."

"Is that the way men dress in mourning in this country?"

"Oh, no!  The aanspreeker attends funerals, and it is his
business, when anyone dies, to notify all the friends and
relatives."

"What a strange custom."

"Well," said Lambert, "we needn't feel very badly about this
particular death, for I see another man has lately been born to
the world to fill up the vacant place."

Ben stared.  "How do you know that?"

"Don't you see that pretty red pincushion hanging on yonder
door?" asked Lambert in return.

"Yes."

"Well, that's a boy."

"A boy!  What do you mean?"

"I mean that here in Haarlem, whenever a boy is born, the parents
have a red pincushion put out at the door.  If our young friend
had been a girl instead of a boy, the cushion would have been
white.  In some places they have much more fanciful affairs, all
trimmed with lace, and even among the very poorest houses you
will see a bit of ribbon or even a string tied on the door
latch--"

"Look!" screamed Ben.  "There IS a white cushion at the door of
that double-joined house with the funny roof."

"I don't see any house with a funny roof."

"Oh, of course not," said Ben.  "I forgot you're a native, but
all the roofs are queer to me, for that matter.  I mean the house
next to that green building."

"True enough, there's a girl!  I tell you what, captain," called
out Lambert, slipping easily into Dutch, "we must get out of this
street as soon as possible.  It's full of babies!  They'll set up
a squall in a moment."

The captain laughed.  "I shall take you to hear better music than
that," he said.  "We are just in time to hear the organ of Saint
Bavon.  The church is open today."

"What, the great Haarlem organ?" asked Ben.  "That will be a
treat indeed.  I have often read of it, with its tremendous
pipes, and its vox humana *{An organ stop which produces an
effect resembling the human voice.} that sounds like a giant
singing."

"The same," answered Lambert van Mounen.

Peter was right.  The church was open, though not for religious
services.  Someone was playing upon the organ.  As the boys
entered, a swell of sound rushed forth to meet them.  It seemed
to bear them, one by one, into the shadows of the building.

Louder and louder it grew until it became like the din and roar
of some mighty tempest, or like the ocean surging upon the shore. 
In the midst of the tumult a tinkling bell was heard; another
answered, then another, and the storm paused as if to listen. 
The bells grew bolder; they rang out loud and clear.  Other
deep-toned bells joined in; they were tolling in solemn
concert--ding, dong! ding, dong!  The storm broke forth with
redoubled fury, gathering its distant thunder.  The boys looked
at each other but did not speak.  It was growing serious.  What
was that?  WHO screamed?  WHAT screamed--that terrible, musical
scream?  Was it man or demon?  Or was it some monster shut up
behind that carved brass frame, behind those great silver
columns--some despairing monster begging, screaming for freedom! 
it was the vox humana!

At last an answer came--soft, tender, loving, like a mother's
song.  The storm grew silent; hidden birds sprang forth filling
the air with glad, ecstatic music, rising higher and higher until
the last faint note was lost in the distance.

The vox humana was stilled, but in the glorious hymn of
thanksgiving that now arose, one could almost hear the throbbing
of a human heart.  What did it mean?  That man's imploring cry
should in time be met with a deep content?  That gratitude would
give us freedom?  To Peter and Ben it seemed that the angels were
singing.  Their eyes grew dim, and their souls dizzy with a
strange joy.  At last, as if borne upward by invisible hands,
they were floating away on the music, all fatigue forgotten, and
with no wish but to hear forever those beautiful sounds, when
suddenly Van Holp's sleeve was pulled impatiently and a gruff
voice beside him asked, "How long are you going to stay here,
captain, blinking at the ceiling like a sick rabbit?  It's high
time we started."

"Hush!" whispered Peter, only half aroused.

"Come, man!  Let's go," said Carl, giving the sleeve a second
pull.

Peter turned reluctantly.  He would not detain the boys against
their will.  All but Ben were casting rather reproachful glances
upon him.

"Well, boys," he whispered, "we will go.  Softly now."

"That's the greatest thing I've seen or heard since I've bee in
Holland!" cried Ben enthusiastically, as soon as they reached the
open air.  "It's glorious!"

Ludwig and Carl laughed slyly at the English boy's wartaal, or
gibberish.  Jacob yawned, and Peter gave Ben a look that made him
instantly feel that he and Peter were not so very different after
all, though one hailed from Holland and the other from England. 
And Lambert, the interpreter, responded with a brisk "You may
well say so.  I believe there are one or two organs nowadays that
are said to be as fine; but for years and years this organ of
Saint Bavon was the grandest in the world."

"Do you know how large it is?" asked Ben.  "I noticed that the
church itself was prodigiously high and that the organ filled the
end of the great aisle almost from floor to roof."

"That's true," said Lambert, "and how superb the pipes
looked--just like grand columns of silver.  They're only for
show, you know.  The REAL pipes are behind them, some big enough
for a man to crawl through, and some smaller than a baby's
whistle.  Well, sir, for size, the church is higher than
Westminster Abbey, to begin with, and, as you say, the organ
makes a tremendous show even then.  Father told me last night
that it is one hundred and eight feet high, fifty feet wide, and
has over five thousand pipes.  It has sixty-four stops--if you
know what they are, I don't--and three keyboards."

"Good for you!" said Ben.  "You have a fine memory.  MY head is a
perfect colander for figures.  They slip through as fast as
they're poured in.  But other facts and historical events stay
behind--that's some consolation."

"There we differ," returned Van Mounen.  "I'm great on names and
figures, but history, take it altogether, seems to me to be the
most hopeless kind of jumble."

Meantime Carl and Ludwig were having a discussion concerning some
square wooden monuments they had observed in the interior of the
church.  Ludwig declared that each bore the name of the person
buried beneath, and Carl insisted that they had no names but only
the heraldic arms of the deceased painted on a black ground, with
the date of the death in gilt letters.

"I ought to know," said Carl, "for I walked across to the east
side, to look for the cannonball Mother told me was embedded
there.  It was fired into the church, in the year fifteen hundred
and something, by those rascally Spaniards, while the services
were going on.  There it was in the wall, sure enough, and while
I was walking back, I noticed the monuments.  I tell you, they
haven't the sign of a name on them."

"Ask Peter," said Ludwig, only half convinced.

"Carl is right," replied Peter, who, though conversing with
Jacob, had overheard their dispute.  "Well, Jacob, as I was
saying, Handel, the great composer, chanced to visit Haarlem and,
of course, he at once hunted up this famous organ.  He gained
admittance and was playing upon it with all his might when the
regular organist chanced to enter the building.  The man stood
awestruck.  He was a good player himself, but he had never heard
such music before.  'Who is there?' he cried.  'If it is not an
angel or the devil, it must be Handel!'  When he discovered that
it WAS the great musician, he was still more mystified!  'But
how is this?' he said.  'You have done impossible things--no ten
fingers on earth can play the passages you have given.  Human
fingers couldn't control all the keys and stops!'  'I know it,'
said Handel coolly, 'and for that reason, I was forced to strike
some notes with the end of my nose.'  Donder! just think how the
old organist must have stared!"

"Hey!  What?" exclaimed Jacob, startled when Peter's animated
voice suddenly became silent.

"Haven't you heard me, you rascal?" was the indignant rejoinder.

"Oh, yes--no.  The fact is, I heard you at first.  I'm awake now,
but I do believe I've been walking beside you half asleep,"
stammered Jacob, with such a doleful, bewildered look on his face
that Peter could not help laughing.




The Man With Four Heads



After leaving the church, the boys stopped nearby in the open
marketplace, to look at the bronze statue of Laurens Janszoon
Coster, who is believed by the Dutch to have been the inventor of
printing.  This is disputed by those who award the same honor to
Johannes Gutenberg of Mayence; while many maintain that Faustus,
a servant of Coster, stole his master's wooden types on a
Christmas eve, when the latter was at church, and fled with his
booty and his secret, to Mayence.  Coster was a native of
Haarlem, and the Hollanders are naturally anxious to secure the
credit of the invention for their illustrious townsman.  Certain
it is that the first book he printed is kept by the city in a
silver case wrapped in silk and is shown with great caution as a
precious relic.  It is said that he first conceived the idea of
printing from cutting his name upon the bark of a tree and
afterward pressing a piece of paper upon the characters.

Of course, Lambert and his English friend fully discussed this
subject.  They also had a rather warm argument concerning another
invention.  Lambert declared that the honor of giving both the
telescope and the microscope to the world lay between Metius and
Jansen, both Hollanders, while Ben as stoutly insisted that Roger
Bacon, an English monk of the thirteenth century, "wrote out the
whole thing, sir, perfect descriptions of microscopes and
telescopes, too, long before either of those other fellows was
born."

On one subject, however, they both agreed:  that the art of
curing and pickling herrings was discovered by William Beukles of
Holland, and that the country did perfectly right in honoring him
as a national benefactor, for its wealth and importance had been
in a great measure due to its herring trade.

"It is astonishing," said Ben, "in what prodigious quantities
those fish are found.  I don't know how it is here, but on the
coast of England, off Yarmouth, the herring shoals have been
known to be six and seven feet deep with fish."

"That is prodigious, indeed," said Lambert, "but you know your
herring is derived from the German heer, an army, on account of a
way the fish have of coming in large numbers.'

Soon afterward, while passing a cobbler's shop, Ben exclaimed,
"Halloo!  Lambert, here is the name of one of your greatest men
over a cobbler's stall!  Boerhaave.  If it were only Herman
Boerhaave instead of Hendrick, it would be complete."

Lambert knit his brows reflectively, as he replied, "Boerhaave,
Boerhaave!  The name is perfectly familiar; I remember, too, that
he was born in 1668, but the rest is all gone, as usual.  There
have been so many famous Hollanders, you see, that it is
impossible for a fellow to know them all.  What was he?  Did he
have two heads?  Or was he one of your great, natural swimmers
like Marco Polo?"

"He had FOUR heads," answered Ben, laughing, "for he was a great
physician, naturalist, botanist, and chemist.  I am full of him
just now, for I read his life a few weeks ago."

"Pour out a little, then," said Lambert, "only walk faster or we
shall lose sight of the other boys."

"Well," resumed Ben, quickening his pace and looking with great
interest at everything going on in the crowded street, "this Dr.
Boerhaave was a great anspewker."

"A great WHAT?" roared Lambert.

"Oh, I beg pardon.  I was thinking of that man over there with
the cocked hat.  He's an anspewker, isn't he?"

"Yes.  He's an aanspreeker, if that is what you mean to say. 
But what about your friend with the four heads?"

"Well, as I was going to say, the doctor was left a penniless
orphan at sixteen without education or friends--"

"Jolly beginning!" interposed Lambert.

"Now, don't interrupt.  He was a poor friendless orphan at
sixteen, but he was so persevering and industrious, so determined
to gain knowledge, that he made his way, and in time became one
of the most learned men of Europe.  All the--what is that?"

"Where?  What do you mean?"

"Why, that paper on the door opposite.  Don't you see?  Two or
three persons are reading it.  I have noticed several of these
papers since I've been here."

"Oh, that's only a health bulletin.  Somebody in the house is
ill, and to prevent a steady knocking at the door, the family
write an account of the patient's condition on a placard and hang
it outside the door, for the benefit of inquiring friends--a very
sensible custom, I'm sure.  Nothing strange about it that I can
see.  Go on, please.  You said, 'All the'--and there you left me
hanging."

"I was going to say," resumed Ben, "that all the--all the--how
comically persons do dress here, to be sure!  Just look at those
men and women with their sugarloaf hats.  And see this woman
ahead of us with a straw bonnet like a scoop shovel tapering to a
point in the back.  Did ever you see anything so funny?  And
those tremendous wooden shoes, too--I declare, she's a beauty?"

"Oh, they are only back-country folk," said Lambert, rather
impatiently.  "You might as well let old Boerhaave drop or else
shut your eyes."

"Ha! ha!  Well, I was GOING to say, all the big men of his day
sought out this great professor.  Even Peter the Great, when he
came over to Holland from Russia to learn shipbuilding, attended
his lectures regularly.  By that time Boerhaave was professor of
medicine and chemistry and botany in the University at Leyden. 
He had grown to be very wealthy as a practicing physician, but he
used to say that the poor were his best patients because God
would be their paymaster.  All Europe learned to love and honor
him.  In short, he became so famous that a certain mandarin of
China addressed a letter to 'the illustrious Boerhaave, physician
in Europe,' and the letter found its way to him without any
difficulty."

"My goodness!  That is what I call being a public character.  The
boys have stopped.  How now, Captain van Holp, where next?"

"We propose to move on," said Van Holp.  "There is nothing to see
at this season in the Bosch.  The Bosch is a noble wood,
Benjamin, a grand park where they have most magnificent trees,
protected by law.  Do you understand?"

"Ya!" nodded Ben as the captain proceeded.

"Unless you all desire to visit the Museum of Natural History, we
may go on the grand canal again.  If we had more time it would be
pleasant to take Benjamin up the Blue Stairs."

"What are the Blue Stairs, Lambert?" asked Ben.

"They are the highest point of the Dunes.  You have a grand view
of the ocean from there, besides a fine chance to see how
wonderful these dunes are.  One can hardly believe that the wind
could ever heap up sand in so remarkable a way.  But we have to
go through Bloemendal to get there, not a very pretty village,
and some distance from here.  What do you say?"

"Oh, I am ready for anything.  For my part, I would rather steer
direct for Leyden, but we'll do as the captain says--hey, Jacob?"

"Ya, dat ish goot," said Jacob, who felt decidedly more like
taking a nap than ascending the Blue Stairs.

The captain was in favor of going to Leyden.

"It's four long miles from here.  Full sixteen of your English
miles, Benjamin.  We have no time to lose if you wish to reach
there before midnight.  Decide quickly, boys--Blue Stairs or
Leyden?"

"Leyden," they answered, and were out of Haarlem in a twinkling,
admiring the lofty, towerlike windmills and pretty country seats
as they left the city behind them.

"If you really wish to see Haarlem," said Lambert to Ben, after
they had skated awhile in silence, "you should visit it in
summer.  It is the greatest place in the world for beautiful
flowers.  The walks around the city are superb; and the 'wood'
with its miles of noble elms, all in full feather, is something
to remember.  You need not smile, old fellow, at my saying 'full
feather.'  I was thinking of waving plumes and got my words mixed
up a little.  But a Dutch elm beats everything; it is the noblest
tree on earth, Ben--if you except the English oak."

"Aye," said Ben solemnly, "IF you except the English oak."  And
for some moments he could scarcely see the canal because Robby
and Jenny kept bobbing in the air before his eyes.




Friends in Need



In the meantime, the other boys were listening to Peter's account
of an incident which had occurred long ago *{Sir Thomas Carr's
tour through Holland.} in a part of the city where stood an
ancient castle, whose lord had tyrannized over the burghers of
the town to such an extent that they surrounded his castle and
laid siege to it.  Just at the last extremity, when the haughty
lord felt that he could hold out no longer and was prepared to
sell his life as dearly as possible, his lady appeared on the
ramparts and offered to surrender everything, provided she was
permitted to bring out, and retain, as much of her most precious
household goods as she could carry upon her back.  The promise
was given, and the lady came forth from the gateway, bearing her
husband upon her shoulders.  The burghers' pledge preserved him
from the fury of the troops but left them free to wreak their
vengeance upon the castle.

"Do you BELIEVE that story, Captain Peter?" asked Carl in an
incredulous tone.

"Of course, I do.  It is historical.  Why should I doubt it?"

"Simply because no woman could do it--and if she could, she
wouldn't.  That is my opinion."

"And I believe that there are many who WOULD.  That is, to save
those they really cared for," said Ludwig.

Jacob, who in spite of his fat and sleepiness was of rather a
sentimental turn, had listened with deep interest.

"That is right, little fellow," he said, nodding his head
approvingly.  "I believe every word of it.  I shall never marry a
woman who would not be glad to do as much for ME."

"Heaven help her!" cried Carl, turning to gaze at the speaker. 
"Why, Poot, three MEN couldn't do it!"

"Perhaps not," said Jacob quietly, feeling that he had asked
rather too much of the future Mrs. Poot.  "But she must be
WILLING, that is all."

"Aye," responded Peter's cheery voice, "willing heart makes
nimble foot--and who knows, but it may make strong arms also."

"Pete," asked Ludwig, changing the subject, "did you tell me last
night that the painter Wouwerman was born in Haarlem?"

"Yes, and Jacob Ruysdael and Berghem too.  I like Berghem because
he was always good-natured.  They say he always sang while he
painted, and though he died nearly two hundred years ago, there
are traditions still afloat concerning his pleasant laugh.  He
was a great painter, and he had a wife as cross as Xantippe."

"They balanced each other finely," said Ludwig.  "He was kind and
she was cross.  But, Peter, before I forget it, wasn't that
picture of Saint Hubert and the horse painted by Wouwerman?  You
remember, Father showed us an engraving from it last night."

"Yes, indeed.  There is a story connected with that picture."

"Tell us!" cried two or three, drawing closer to Peter as they
skated on.

"Wouwerman," began the captain oratorically, "was born in 1620,
just four years before Berghem.  He was a master of his art and
especially excelled in painting horses.  Strange as it may seem,
people were so long finding out his merits that, even after he
had arrived at the height of his excellence, he was obliged to
sell his pictures for very paltry prices.  The poor artist became
completely discouraged, and, worst of all, was over head and ears
in debt.  ne day he was talking over his troubles with his
father-confessor, who was one of the few who recognized his
genius.  The priest determined to assist him and accordingly lent
him six hundred guilders, advising him at the same time to demand
a better price for his pictures.  Wouwerman did so, and in the
meantime paid his debts.  Matters brightened with him at once. 
Everybody appreciated the great artist who painted such costly
pictures.  He grew rich.  The six hundred guilders were returned,
and in gratitude Wouwerman sent also a work which he had painted,
representing his benefactor as Saint Hubert kneeling before his
horse--the very picture, Ludwig, of which we were speaking last
night."

"So! so!" exclaimed Ludwig, with deep interest.  "I must take
another look at the engraving as soon as we get home."


At that same hour, while Ben was skating with his companions
beside the Holland dike, Robby and Jenny stood in their pretty
English schoolhouse, ready to join in the duties of their reading
class.

"Commence!  Master Robert Dobbs," said the teacher, "page 242. 
Now, sir, mind every stop."

And Robby, in a quick childish voice, roared forth at schoolroom
pitch, "Lesson 62.  The Hero of Haarlem.  Many years ago, there
lived in Haarlem, one of the principal cities of Holland, a
sunny-haired boy of gentle disposition.  His father was a
sluicer, that is, a man whose business it was to open and close
the sluices, or large oaken gates, that are placed at regular
distances across the entrances of the canals, to regulate the
amount of water that shall flow into them.

"The sluicer raises the gates more or less according to the
quantity of water required, and closes them carefully at night,
in order to avoid all possible danger of an oversupply running
into the canal, or the water would soon overflow it and inundate
the surrounding country.  As a great portion of Holland is lower
than the level of the sea, the waters are kept from flooding the
land only by means of strong dikes, or barriers, and by means of
these sluices, which are often strained to the utmost by the
pressure of the rising tides.  Even the little children in
Holland know that constant watchfulness is required to keep the
rivers and ocean from overwhelming the country, and that a
moment's neglect of the sluicer's duty may bring ruin and death
to all."

"Very good," said the teacher.  "Now, Susan."

"One lovely autumn afternoon, when the boy was about eight years
old, he obtained his parents' consent to carry some cakes to a
blind man who lived out in the country, on the other side of the
dike.  The little fellow started on his errand with a light
heart, and having spent an hour with his grateful old friend, he
bade him farewell and started on his homeward walk.

"Trudging stoutly along the canal, he noticed how the autumn
rains had swollen the waters.  Even while humming his careless,
childish song, he thought of his father's brave old gates and
felt glad of their strength, for, thought he, 'If THEY gave way,
where would Father and Mother be?  These pretty fields would all
be covered with the angry waters--Father always calls them the
ANGRY waters.  I suppose he thinks they are mad at him for
keeping them out so long.'  And with these thoughts just
flitting across his brain, the little fellow stooped to pick the
pretty flowers that grew along his way.  Sometimes he stopped to
throw some feathery seed ball in the air and watch it as it
floated away; sometimes he listened to the stealthy rustling of a
rabbit, speeding through the grass, but oftener he smiled as he
recalled the happy light he had seen arise on the weary,
listening face of his blind old friend."

"Now, Henry," said the teacher, nodding to the next little
reader.

"Suddenly the boy looked around him in dismay.  He had not
noticed that the sun was setting.  Now he saw that his long
shadow on the grass had vanished.  It was growing dark, he was
still some distance from home, and in a lonely ravine, where even
the blue flowers had turned to gray.  He quickened his footsteps
and, with a beating heart recalled many a nursery tale of
children belated in dreary forests.  Just as he was bracing
himself for a run, he was startled by the sound of trickling
water.  Whence did it come?  He looked up and saw a small hole in
the dike through which a tiny stream was flowing.  Any child in
Holland will shudder at the thought of A LEAK IN THE DIKE!  The
boy understood the danger at a glance.  That little hole, if the
water were allowed to trickle through, would soon be a large
one, and a terrible inundation would be the result.

"Quick as a flash, he saw his duty.  Throwing away his flowers,
the boy clambered up the heights until he reached the hole.  His
chubby little finger was thrust in, almost before he knew it. 
The flowing was stopped!  Ah! he thought, with a chuckle of
boyish delight, the angry waters must stay back now!  Haarlem
shall not be drowned while I am here!

"This was all very well at first, but the night was falling
rapidly.  Chill vapors filled the air.  Our little hero began to
tremble with cold and dread.  He shouted loudly; he screamed,
'Come here! come here!' but no one came.  The cold grew more
intense, a numbness, commencing in the tired little finger, crept
over his hand and arm, and soon his whole body was filled with
pain.  He shouted again, 'Will no one come?  Mother!  Mother!' 
Alas, his mother, good, practical soul, had already locked the
doors and had fully resolved to scold him on the morrow for
spending the night with blind Jansen without her permission.  He
tried to whistle.  Perhaps some straggling boy might heed the
signal, but his teeth chattered so, it was impossible.  Then he
called on God for help.  And the answer came, through a holy
resolution:  'I will stay here till morning.'"

"Now, Jenny Dobbs," said the teacher.  Jenny's eyes were
glistening, but she took a long breath and commenced.

"The midnight moon looked down upon that small, solitary form,
sitting upon a stone, halfway up the dike.  His head was bent but
he was not asleep, for every now and then one restless hand
rubbed feebly the outstretched arm that seemed fastened to the
dike--and often the pale, tearful face turned quickly at some
real or fancied sounds.

"How can we know the sufferings of that long and fearful
watch--what falterings of purpose, what childish terrors came
over the boy as he thought of the warm little bed at home, of his
parents, his brothers and sisters, then looked into the cold,
dreary night!  If he drew away that tiny finger, the angry
waters, grown angrier still, would rush forth, and never stop
until they had swept over the town.  No, he would hold it there
till daylight--if he lived!  He was not very sure of living. 
What did this strange buzzing mean?  And then the knives that
seemed pricking and piercing him from head to foot?  He was not
certain now that he could draw his finger away, even if he wished
to.

"At daybreak a clergyman, returning from the bedside of a sick
parishioner, thought he heard groans as he walked along on the
top of the dike.  Bending, he saw, far down on the side, a child
apparently writhing with pain.

"'In the name of wonder, boy,' he exclaimed, 'what are you doing
there?'

"'I am keeping the water from running out,' was the simple answer
of the little hero.  'Tell them to come quick.'

"It is needless to add that they did come quickly and that--"

"Jenny Dobbs," said the teacher, rather impatiently, "if you
cannot control your feelings so as to read distinctly, we will
wait until you recover yourself."

"Yes, sir!" said Jenny, quite startled.


It was strange, but at that very moment, Ben, far over the sea,
was saying to Lambert, "The noble little fellow!  I have
frequently met with an account of the incident, but I never knew,
till now, that it was really true."

"True!  Of course it is," said Lambert.  "I have given you the
story just as Mother told it to me, years ago.  Why, there is not
a child in Holland who does not know it.  And, Ben, you may not
think so, but that little boy represents the spirit of the whole
country.  Not a leak can show itself anywhere either in its
politics, honor, or public safety, that a million fingers are not
ready to stop it, at any cost."

"Whew!" cried Master Ben.  "Big talking that!"

"It's true talk anyway," rejoined Lambert, so very quietly that
Ben wisely resolved to make no further comment.




On the Canal



The skating season had commenced unusually early; our boys were
by no means alone upon the ice.  The afternoon was so fine that
men, women, and children, bent upon enjoying the holiday, had
flocked to the grand canal from far and near.  Saint Nicholas had
evidently remembered the favorite pastime; shining new skates
were everywhere to be seen.  Whole families were skimming their
way to Haarlem or Leyden or the neighboring villages.  The ice
seemed fairly alive.  Men noticed the erect, easy carriage of
women, and their picturesque variety of costume.  There were the
latest fashions, fresh from Paris, floating past dingy,
moth-eaten garments that had seen service through two
generations; coal-scuttle bonnets perched over freckled faces
bright with holiday smiles; stiff muslin caps with wings at the
sides, flapping beside cheeks rosy with health and contentment;
furs, too, encircling the whitest of throats; and scanty garments
fluttering below faces ruddy with exercise.  In short, every
quaint and comical mixture of dry goods and flesh that Holland
could furnish seemed sent to enliven the scene.

There were belles from Leyden, and fishwives from the border
villages; cheese women from Gouda, and prim matrons from
beautiful country seats on the Haarlemmer Meer.  Gray-headed
skaters were constantly to be seen; wrinkled old women with
baskets upon their heads, and plump little toddlers on skates
clutching at their mothers' gowns.  Some women carried their
babies upon their backs, firmly secured with a bright shawl.  The
effect was pretty and graceful as they darted by or sailed slowly
past, now nodding to an acquaintance, now chirruping and throwing
soft baby talk to the muffled little ones they carried.

Boys and girls were chasing each other and hiding behind the
one-horse sleds that, loaded high with peat or timber, pursued
their cautious way along the track marked out as "safe." 
Beautiful, queenly women were there, enjoyment sparkling in their
quiet eyes.  Sometimes a long file of young men, each grasping
the coat of the one before him, flew by with electric speed; and
sometimes the ice squeaked under the chair of some gorgeous old
dowager, or rich burgomaster's lady, who, very red in the nose
and sharp in the eyes, looked like a scare-thaw invented by old
Father Winter for the protection of his skating grounds.  The
chair would be heavy with foot stoves and cushions, to say
nothing of the old lady.  Mounted upon shining runners, it slid
along, pushed by the sleepiest of servants, who, looking neither
to the right nor the left, bent himself to his task while she
cast direful glances upon the screaming little rowdies who
invariably acted as bodyguard.

As for the men, they were pictures of placid enjoyment.  Some
were attired in ordinary citizen's dress, but many looked odd
enough with their short woolen coats, wide breeches, and big
silver buckles.  These seemed to Ben like little boys who had, by
a miracle, sprung suddenly into manhood and were forced to wear
garments that their astonished mothers had altered in a hurry. 
He noticed, too, that nearly all the men had pipes as they passed
him, whizzing and smoking like so many locomotives.  There was
every variety of pipes, from those of common clay to the most
expensive meerschaums mounted in silver and gold.  Some were
carved into extraordinary and fantastic shapes, representing
birds, flowers, heads, bugs, and dozens of other things; some
resembled the "Dutchman's pipe" that grows in our American woods;
some were red and many were of a pure, snowy white; but the most
respectable were those which were ripening into a shaded brown. 
The deeper and richer the brown, of course, the more honored the
pipe, for it was proof that the owner, if honestly shading it,
was deliberately devoting his manhood to the effort.  What pipe
would not be proud to be the object of such a sacrifice!

For a while Ben skated on in silence.  There was so much to
engage his attention that he almost forgot his companions.  Part
of the time he had been watching the iceboats as they flew over
the great Haarlemmer Meer (or lake), the frozen surface of which
was now plainly visible from the canal.  These boats had very
large sails, much larger, in proportion, than those of ordinary
vessels, and were set upon a triangular frame furnished with an
iron "runner" at each corner--the widest part of the triangle
crossing the bow, and its point stretching beyond the stem.  They
had rudders for guiding and brakes for arresting their progress
and were of all sizes and kinds, from small, rough affairs
managed by a boy, to large and beautiful ones filled with gay
pleasure parties and manned by competent sailors, who, smoking
their stumpy pipes, reefed and tacked and steered with great
solemnity and precision.

Some of the boats were painted and gilded in gaudy style and
flaunted gay pennons from their mastheads; others, white as snow,
with every spotless sail rounded by the wind, looked like swans
borne onward by a resistless current.  It seemed to Ben as,
following his fancy, he watched one of these in the distance,
that he could almost hear its helpless, terrified cry, but he
soon found that the sound arose from a nearer and less romantic
cause--from an iceboat not fifty yards from him, using its brakes
to avoid a collision with a peat sled.

It was a rare thing for these boats to be upon the canal, and
their appearance generally caused no little excitement among
skaters, especially among the timid; but today every iceboat in
the country seemed afloat or rather aslide, and the canal had its
full share.

Ben, though delighted at the sight, was often startled at the
swift approach of the resistless, high-winged things threatening
to dart in any and every possible direction.  It required all his
energies to keep out of the way of the passersby and to prevent
those screaming little urchins from upsetting him with their
sleds.  Once he halted to watch some boys who were making a hole
in the ice preparatory to using their fishing spears.  Just as he
concluded to start again, he found himself suddenly bumped into
an old lady's lap.  Her push-chair had come upon him from the
rear.  The old lady screamed; the servant who was propelling her
gave a warning hiss.  In another instant Ben found himself
apologizing to empty air.  The indignant old lady was far ahead.

This was a slight mishap compared with one that now threatened
him.  A huge iceboat, under full sail, came tearing down the
canal, almost paralyzing Ben with the thought of instant
destruction.  It was close upon him!  He saw its gilded prow,
heard the schipper *{Skipper.  Master of a small trading
vessel--a pleasure boat or iceboat.} shout, felt the great boom
fairly whiz over his head, was blind, deaf, and dumb all in an
instant, then opened his eyes to find himself spinning some yards
behind its great skatelike rudder.  It had passed within an inch
of his shoulder, but he was safe!  Safe to see England again,
safe to kiss the dear faces that for an instant had flashed
before him one by one--Father, Mother, Robby, and Jenny--that
great boom had dashed their images into his very soul.  He knew
now how much he loved them.  Perhaps this knowledge made him face
complacently the scowls of those on the canal who seemed to feel
that a boy in danger was necessarily a BAD boy needing instant
reprimand.

Lambert chided him roundly.

"I thought it was all over with you, you careless fellow!  Why
don't you look where you are going?  Not content with sitting on
all the old ladies' laps, you must make a Juggernaut of every
iceboat that comes along.  We shall have to hand you over to the
aanspreekers yet, if you don't look out!"

"Please don't," said Ben with mock humility, then seeing how pale
Lambert's lips were, he added in a low tone, "I do believe I
THOUGHT more in that one moment, Van Mounen, than in all the
rest of my past life."

There was no reply, and, for a while, the two boys skated on in
silence.

Soon a faint sound of distant bells reached their ears.

"Hark!" said Ben.  "What is that?"

"The carillons," replied Lambert.  "They are trying the bells in
the chapel of yonder village.  Ah!  Ben, you should hear the
chimes of the 'New Church' at Delft.  They are superb--nearly
five hundred sweet-toned bells, and on of the best carillonneurs
of Holland to play upon them.  Hard work, though.  They say the
fellow often has to go to bed from positive exhaustion, after his
performances.  You see, the bells are attached to a kind of
keyboard, something like they have on pianofortes; there is also
a set of pedals for the feet; when a brisk tune is going on, the
player looks like a kicking frog fastened to his seat with a
skewer."

"For shame," said Ben indignantly.

Peter had, for the present, exhausted his stock of Haarlem
anecdotes, and now, having nothing to do but skate, he and his
three companions were hastening to catch up with Lambert and Ben.

"That English lad is fleet enough," said Peter.  "If he were a
born Hollander, he could do no better.  Generally these John
Bulls make but a sorry figure on skates.  Halloo!  Here you are,
Van Mounen.  Why, we hardly hoped for the honor of meeting you
again.  Whom were you flying from in such haste?"

"Snails," retorted Lambert.  "What kept you?"

"We have been talking, and besides, we halted once to give Poot a
chance to rest."

"He begins to look rather worn-out," said Lambert in a low voice.

Just then a beautiful iceboat with reefed sail and flying
streamers swept leisurely by.  Its deck was filled with children
muffled up to their chins.  Looking at them from the ice you
could see only smiling little faces imbedded in bright-colored
woolen wrappings.  They were singing a chorus in honor of Saint
Nicholas.  The music, starting in the discord of a hundred
childish voices, floated, as it rose, into exquisite harmony:


"Friend of sailors and of children!
   Double claim have we,
As in youthful joy we're sailing,
   O'er a frozen sea!

               Nicholas!  Saint Nicholas!
                  Let us sing to thee!

While through wintry air we're rushing,
   As our voices blend,
Are you near us?  Do you hear us,
   Nicholas, our friend?

               Nicholas!  Saint Nicholas!
                  Love can never end.

Sunny sparkles, bright before us,
   Chase away the cold!
Hearts where sunny thoughts are welcome,
   Never can grow old.

               Nicholas!  Saint Nicholas!
                  Never can grow old!

Pretty gift and loving lesson,
   Festival and glee,
Bid us thank thee as we're sailing
   O'er the frozen sea.

               Nicholas!  Saint Nicholas!
                  So we sing to thee!




Jacob Poot Changes the Plan



The last note died away in the distance.  Our boys, who in their
vain efforts to keep up with the boat had felt that they were
skating backward, turned to look at one another.

"How beautiful that was!" exclaimed Van Mounen.

"Just like a dream!"

Jacob drew close to Ben, giving his usual approving nod, as he
spoke.  "Dat ish goot.  Dat ish te pest vay.  I shay petter to
take to Leyden mit a poat!"

"Take a boat!" exclaimed Ben in dismay.  "Why, man, our plan was
to SKATE, not to be carried like little children."

"Tuyfels!" retorted Jacob.  "Dat ish no little--no papies--to go
for poat!"

The boys laughed but exchanged uneasy glances.  It would be great
fun to jump on an iceboat, if they had a chance, but to abandon
so shamefully their grand undertaking--who could think of such a
thing?

An animated discussion arose at once.

Captain Peter brought his party to a halt.

"Boys," said he, "it strikes me that we should consult Jacob's
wishes in this matter.  He started the excursion, you know."

"Pooh!" sneered Carl, throwing a contemptuous glance at Jacob. 
"Who's tired?  We can rest all night in Leyden."

Ludwig and Lambert looked anxious and disappointed.  It was no
slight thing to lose the credit of having skated all the way from
Broek to the Hague and back again, but both agreed that Jacob
should decide the question.

Good-natured, tired Jacob!  He read the popular sentiment at a
glance.

"Oh, no," he said in Dutch.  "I was joking.  We will skate, of
course."

The boys gave a delighted shout and started on again with renewed
vigor.

All but Jacob.  He tried his best not to seem fatigued and, by
not saying a word, saved his breath and energy for the great
business of skating.  But in vain.  Before long, the stout body
grew heavier and heavier--the tottering limbs weaker and weaker. 
Worse than all, the blood, anxious to get as far as possible from
the ice, mounted to the puffy, good-natured cheeks, and made the
roots of his thin yellow hair glow into a fiery red.

This kind of work is apt to summon vertigo, of whom good Hans
Anderson writes--the same who hurls daring young hunters from the
mountains or spins them from the sharpest heights of the glaciers
or catches them as they tread the stepping-stones of the mountain
torrent.

Vertigo came, unseen, to Jacob.  After tormenting him awhile,
with one touch sending a chill from head to foot, with the next
scorching every vein with fever, she made the canal rock and
tremble beneath him, the white sails bow and spin as they passed,
then cast him heavily upon the ice.

"Halloo!" cried Van Mounen.  "There goes Poot!"

Ben sprang hastily forward.

"Jacob!  Jacob, are you hurt?"

Peter and Carl were lifting him.  The face was white enough now. 
It seemed like a dead face--even the good-natured look was gone.

A crowd collected.  Peter unbuttoned the poor boy's jacket,
loosened his red tippet, and blew between the parted lips.

"Stand off, good people!" he cried.  "Give him air!"

"Lay him down," called out a woman from the crowd.

"Stand him upon his feet," shouted another.

"Give him wine," growled a stout fellow who was driving a loaded
sled.

"Yes! yes, give him wine!" echoed everybody.

Ludwig and Lambert shouted in concert, "Wine!  Wine!  Who has
wine?"

A sleepy-headed Dutchman began to fumble mysteriously under the
heaviest of blue jackets, saying as he did so, "Not so much
noise, young masters, not so much noise!  The boy was a fool to
faint like a girl."

"Wine, quick!" cried Peter, who, with Ben's help, was rubbing
Jacob from head to foot.

Ludwig stretched forth his hand imploringly toward the Dutchman,
who, with an air of great importance, was still fumbling beneath
the jacket.

"DO hurry!  He will die!  Has anyone else any wine?"

"He IS dead!" said an awful voice from among the bystanders.

This startled the Dutchman.

"Have a care!" he said, reluctantly drawing forth a small blue
flask.  "This is schnapps.  A little is enough."

A little WAS enough.  The paleness gave way to a faint flush. 
Jacob opened his eyes, and, half bewildered, half ashamed, feebly
tried to free himself from those who were supporting him.

There was no alternative, now, for our party but to have their
exhausted comrade carried, in some way, to Leyden.  As for
expecting him to skate anymore that day, the thing was
impossible.  In truth, by this time each boy began to entertain
secret yearnings toward iceboats, and to avow a Spartan resolve
not to desert Jacob.  Fortunately a gentle, steady breeze was
setting southward.  If some accommodating schipper would but come
along, matters would not be quite so bad after all.

Peter hailed the first sail that appeared.  The men in the stern
would not even look at him.  Three drays on runners came along,
but they were already loaded to the utmost.  Then an iceboat, a
beautiful, tempting little one, whizzed past like an arrow.  The
boys had just time to stare eagerly at it when it was gone.  In
despair, they resolved to prop up Jacob with their strong arms,
as well as they could, and take him to the nearest village.

At that moment a very shabby iceboat came in sight.  With but
little hope of success Peter hailed at it, at the same time
taking off his hat and flourishing it in the air.

The sail was lowered, then came the scraping sound of the brake,
and a pleasant voice called from the deck, "What now?"

"Will you take us on?" cried Peter, hurrying with his companions
as fast as he could, for the boat as "bringing to" some distance
ahead.  "Will you take us on?"

"We'll pay for the ride!" shouted Carl.

The man on board scarcely noticed him except to mutter something
about its not being a trekschuit.  Still looking toward Peter,
he asked, "How many?"

"Six."

"Well, it's Nicholas's Day--up with you!  Young gentleman sick?" 
He nodded toward Jacob.

"Yes--broken down.  Skated all the way from Broek," answered
Peter.  "Do you go to Leyden?"

"That's as the wind says.  It's blowing that way now.  Scramble
up!"

Poor Jacob!  If that willing Mrs. Poot had only appeared just
then, her services would have been invaluable.  It was as much as
the boys could do to hoist him into the boat.  All were in at
last.  The schipper, puffing away at his pipe, let out the sail,
lifted the brake, and sat in the stern with folded arms.

"Whew!  How fast we go!" cried Ben.  "This is something like! 
Feel better, Jacob?"

"Much petter, I tanks you."

"Oh, you'll be as good as new in ten minutes.  This makes a
fellow feel like a bird."

Jacob nodded and blinked his eyes.

"Don't go to sleep, Jacob, it's too cold.  You might never wake
up, you know.  Persons often freeze to death in that way."

"I no sleep," said Jacob confidently, and in two minutes he was
snoring.

Carl and Ludwig laughed.

"We must wake him!" cried Ben.  "It is dangerous, I tell
you--Jacob!  Ja-a-c--"

Captain Peter interfered, for three of the boys were helping Ben
for the fun of the thing.

"Nonsense!  Don't shake him!  Let him alone, boys.  One never
snores like that when one's freezing.  Cover him up with
something.  Here, this cloak will do.  Hey, schipper?" and he
looked toward the stern for permission to use it.

The man nodded.

"There," said Peter, tenderly adjusting the garment, "let him
sleep.  He will be as frisky as a lamb when he wakes.  How far
are we from Leyden, schipper?"

"Not more'n a couple of pipes," replied a voice, rising from
smoke like the genii in fairy tales (puff! puff!).  "Likely not
more'n one an' a half"--puff! puff!--"if this wind holds."  Puff!
puff! puff!

"What is the man saying, Lambert?" asked Ben, who was holding his
mittened hands against his cheeks to ward off the cutting air.

"He says we're about two pipes from Leyden.  Half the boors here
on the canal measure distance by the time it takes them to finish
a pipe."

"How ridiculous."

"See here, Benjamin Dobbs," retorted Lambert, growing
unaccountably indignant at Ben's quiet smile.  "See here, you've
a way of calling every other thing you see on THIS side of the
German ocean 'ridiculous.'  It may suit YOU, this word, but it
doesn't suit ME.  When you want anything ridiculous, just
remember your English custom of making the Lord Mayor of London,
at his installation, count the nails in a horseshoe to prove HIS
LEARNING."

"Who told you we had any such custom as that?" cried Ben, looking
grave in an instant.

"Why, I KNOW it, no use of anyone telling me.  It's in all the
books--and it's true.  It strikes me," continued Lambert,
laughing in spite of himself, "that you have been kept in happy
ignorance of a good many ridiculous things on YOUR side of the
map."

"Humph!" exclaimed Ben, trying not to smile.  "I'll inquire into
that Lord Mayor business when I get home.  There must be some
mistake.  B-r-r-roooo!  How fast we're going.  This is glorious!"

It was a grand sail, or ride, I scarcely know which to call it;
perhaps FLY would be the best word, for the boys felt very much
as Sinbad did when, tied to the roc's leg, he darted through the
clouds; or as Bellerophon felt when he shot through the air on
the back of his winged horse Pegasus.

Sailing, riding, or flying, whichever it was, everything was
rushing past, backward, and before they had time to draw a deep
breath, Leyden itself, with its high, peaked roofs, flew halfway
to meet them.

When the city came in sight, it was high time to waken the
sleeper.  That feat accomplished, Peter's prophecy came to pass. 
Master Jacob was quite restored and in excellent spirits.

The schipper made a feeble remonstrance when Peter, with hearty
thanks, endeavored to slip some silver pieces into his tough
brown palm.

"Ye see, young master," said he, drawing away his hand, "the
regular line o' trade's ONE thing, and a favor's another."

"I know it," said Peter, "but those boys and girls of yours will
want sweets when you get home.  Buy them some in the name of
Saint Nicholas."

The man grinned.  "Aye, true enough, I've young 'uns in plenty, a
clean boatload of them.  You are a sharp young master at
guessing."

This time the knotty hand hitched forward again, quite
carelessly, it seemed, but its palm was upward.  Peter hastily
dropped in the money and moved away.

The sail came tumbling down.  Scrape, scrape went the brake,
scattering an ice shower round the boat.

"Good-bye, schipper!" shouted the boys, seizing their skates and
leaping from the deck one by one.  "Many thanks to you!"

"Good-bye! good-b--Hold!  Here!  Stop!  I want my coat."

Ben was carefully assisting his cousin over the side of the boat.

"What is the man shouting about?  Oh, I know, you have his
wrapper round your shoulders."

"Dat ish true," answered Jacob, half jumping, half tumbling down
upon the framework, "dat ish vot make him sho heavy."

"Made YOU so heavy, you mean, Poot?"

"Ya, made you sho heavy--dat ish true," said Jacob innocently as
he worked himself free of the big wrapper.  "Dere, now you hands
it mit him, straits way, and tells him I vos much tanks for dat."

"Ho! for an inn!" cried Peter as they stepped into the city.  "Be
brisk, my fine fellows!"




Mynheer Kleef and His Bill of Fare



The boys soon found an unpretending establishment near the
Breedstraat (Broad Street) with a funnily painted lion over the
door.  This was the Rood Leeuw or Red Lion, kept by one Huygens
Kleef, a stout Dutchman with short legs and a very long pipe.

By this time they were in a ravenous condition.  The tiffin,
taken at Haarlem, had served only to give them an appetite, and
this had been heightened by their exercise and swift sail upon
the canal.

"Come, mine host!  Give us what you can!" cried Peter rather
pompously.

"I can give you anything--everything," answered Mynheer Kleef,
performing a difficult bow.

"Well, give us sausage and pudding."

"Ah, mynheer, the sausage is all gone.  There is no pudding."

"Salmagundi, then, and plenty of it."

"That is out also, young master."

"Eggs, and be quick."

"Winter eggs are VERY poor eating," answered the innkeeper,
puckering his lips and lifting his eyebrows.

"No eggs?  Well--caviar."

The Dutchman raised his fat hands:

"Caviar!  That is made of gold!  Who has caviar to sell?"

Peter had sometimes eaten it at home; he knew that it was made of
the roes of the sturgeon and certain other large fish, but he had
no idea of its cost.

"Well, mine host, what have you?"

"What have I?  Everything.  I have rye bread, sauerkraut, potato
salad, and the fattest herring in Leyden."

"What do you say, boys?" asked the captain.  "Will that do?"

"Yes," cried the famished youths, "if he'll only be quick."

Mynheer moved off like one walking in his sleep, but soon opened
his eyes wide at the miraculous manner in which his herring were
made to disappear.  Next came, or rather went, potato salad, rye
bread, and coffee--then Utrecht water flavored with orange, and,
finally, slices of dry gingerbread.  This last delicacy was not
on the regular bill of fare, but Mynheer Kleef, driven to
extremes, solemnly produced it from his own private stores and
gave only a placid blink when his voracious young travelers
started up, declaring they had eaten enough.

"I should think so!" he exclaimed internally, but his smooth face
gave no sign.

Softly rubbing his hands, he asked, "Will your worships have
beds?"

"'Will your worships have beds?'" mocked Carl.  "What do you
mean?  Do we look sleepy?"

"Not at all, master.  But I would cause them to be warmed and
aired.  None sleep under damp sheets at the Red Lion."

"Ah, I understand.  Shall we come back here to sleep, captain?"

Peter was accustomed to finer lodgings, but this was a frolic.

"Why not?" he replied.  "We can fare excellently here."

"Your worship speaks only the truth," said mynheer with great
deference.

"How fine to be called 'your worship,'" laughed Ludwig aside to
Lambert, while Peter replied, "Well, mine host, you may get the
rooms ready by nine."

"I have one beautiful chamber, with three beds, that will hold
all of your worships," said Mynheer Kleef coaxingly.

"That will do."

"Whew!" whistled Carl when they reached the street.

Ludwig startled.  "What now?"

"Nothing, only Mynheer Kleef of the Red Lion little thinks how we
shall make things spin in that same room tonight.  We'll set the
bolsters flying!"

"Order!" cried the captain.  "Now, boys, I must seek this great
Dr. Boekman before I sleep.  If he is in Leyden it will be no
great task to find him, for he always puts up at the Golden Eagle
when he comes here.  I wonder that you did not all go to bed at
once.  Still, as you are awake, what say you to walking with Ben
up by the Museum or the Stadhuis?"

"Agreed," said Ludwig and Lambert, but Jacob preferred to go with
Peter.  In vain Ben tried to persuade him to remain at the inn
and rest.  He declared that he never felt "petter," and wished of
all things to take a look at the city, for it was his first "stop
mit Leyden."

"Oh, it will not harm him," said Lambert.  "How long the day has
been--and what glorious sport we have had!  It hardly seems
possible that we left Broek only this morning."

Jacob yawned.

"I have enjoyed it well," he said, "but it seems to me at least a
week since we started."

Carl laughed and muttered something about "twenty naps."

"Here we are at the corner.  Remember, we all meet at the Red
Lion at eight," said the captain as he and Jacob walked away.




The Red Lion Becomes Dangerous



The boys were glad to find a blazing fire awaiting them upon
their return to the Red Lion.  Carl and his party were there
first.  Soon afterward Peter and Jacob came in.  They had
inquired in vain concerning Dr. Boekman.  All they could
ascertain was that he had been seen in Haarlem that morning.

"As for his being in Leyden," the landlord of the Golden Eagle
had said to Peter, "the thing is impossible.  He always lodges
here when in town.  By this time there would be a crowd at my
door waiting to consult him.  Bah!  People make such fools of
themselves!"

"He is called a great surgeon," said Peter.

"Yes, the greatest in Holland.  But what of that?  What of being
the greatest pill choker and knife slasher in the world?  The man
is a bear.  Only last month on this very spot, he called me a
PIG, before three customers!"

"No!" exclaimed Peter, trying to look surprised and indignant.

"Yes, master--A PIG," repeated the landlord, puffing at his pipe
with an injured air.  "Bah!  If he did not pay fine prices and
bring customers to my house, I would sooner see him in the Vleit
Canal than give him lodging."

Perhaps mine host felt that he was speaking too openly to a
stranger, or it may be he saw a smile lurking in Peter's face,
for he added sharply, "Come, now, what more do you wish?  Supper? 
Beds?"

"No, mynheer, I am but searching for Dr. Boekman."

"Go find him.  He is not in Leyden."

Peter was not to be put off so easily.  He succeeded in obtaining
permission to leave a note for the famous surgeon, or rather, he
BOUGHT from his amiable landlord the privilege of writing it
there, and a promise that it should be promptly delivered when
Dr. Boekman arrived.  This accomplished, Peter and Jacob returned
to the Red Lion.

This inn had once been a fine house, the home of a rich burgher,
but having grown old and shabby, it had passed through many
hands, until finally it had fallen into the possession of Mynheer
Kleef.  He was fond of saying as he looked up at its dingy,
broken walls, "Mend it and paint it, and there's not a prettier
house in Leyden."  It stood six stories high from the street. 
The first three were of equal breadth but of various heights, the
last three were in the great, high roof, and grew smaller and
smaller like a set of double steps until the top one was lost in
a point.  The roof was built of short, shining tiles, and the
windows, with their little panes, seemed to be scattered
irregularly over the face of the building, without the slightest
attention to outward effect.  But the public room on the ground
floor was the landlord's joy and pride.  He never said, "Mend it
and paint it," there, for everything was in the highest condition
of Dutch neatness and order.  If you will but open your mind's
eye, you may look into the apartment.

Imagine a large, bare room, with a floor that seemed to be made
of squares cut out of glazed earthen pie-dishes, first a yellow
piece, then a red, until the whole looked like a vast
checkerboard.  Fancy a dozen high-backed wooden chairs standing
around; then a great hollow chimney place all aglow with its
blazing fire, reflected a hundred times in the polished steel
firedogs; a tiled hearth, tiled sides, tiled top, with a Dutch
sentence upon it; and over all, high above one's head, a narrow
mantleshelf, filled with shining brass candlesticks, pipe
lighters, and tinderboxes.  Then see, in one end of the room,
three pine tables; in the other, a closet and a deal dresser. 
The latter is filled with mugs, dishes, pipes, tankards, earthen
and glass bottles, and is guarded at one end by a brass-hooped
keg standing upon long legs.  Everything is dim with tobacco
smoke, but otherwise as clean as soap and sand can make it.

Next, picture two sleepy, shabby-looking men, in wooden shoes,
seated near the glowing fireplace, hugging their knees and
smoking short, stumpy pipes; Mynheer Kleef walking softly and
heavily about, clad in leather knee breeches, felt shoes, and a
green jacket wider than it is long; then throw a heap of skates
in the corner and put six tired well-dressed boys, in various
attitudes, upon the wooden chairs, and you will see the coffee
room of the Red Lion just as it appeared at nine o'clock upon the
evening of December 6, 184--.  For supper, gingerbread again,
slices of Dutch sausage, rye bread sprinkled with anise seed,
pickles, a bottle of Utrecht water, and a pot of very mysterious
coffee.  The boys were ravenous enough to take all they could get
and pronounce it excellent.  Ben made wry faces, but Jacob
declared he had never eaten a better meal.  After they had
laughed and talked awhile, and counted their money by way of
settling a discussion that arose concerning their expenses, the
captain marched his company off to bed, led on by a greasy
pioneer boy who carried skates and a candlestick instead of an
ax.

One of the ill-favored men by the fire had shuffled toward the
dresser and was ordering a mug of beer, just as Ludwig, who
brought up the rear, was stepping from the apartment.  "I don't
like that fellow's eye," he whispered to Carl.  "He looks like a
pirate or something of that kind."

"Looks like a granny!" answered Carl in sleepy disdain.

Ludwig laughed uneasily.

"Granny or no granny," he whispered, "I tell you he looks just
like one of those men in the voetspoelen."

"Pooh!" sneered Carl, "I knew it.  That picture was too much for
you.  Look sharp now, and see if yon fellow with the candle
doesn't look like the other villain."

"No, indeed, his face is as honest as a Gouda cheese.  But, I
say, Carl, that really was a horrid picture."

"Humph!  What did you stare at it so long for?"

"I couldn't help it."

By this time the boys had reached the "beautiful room with three
beds in it."  A dumpy little maiden with long earrings met them
at the doorway, dropped them a curtsy, and passed out.  She
carried a long-handled thing that resembled a frying pan with a
cover.

"I am glad to see that," said Van Mounen to Ben.

"What?"

"Why, the warming pan.  It's full of hot ashes; she's been
heating our beds."

"Oh, a warming pan, eh!  Much obliged to her, I'm sure," said
Ben, too sleepy to make any further comment.

Meantime, Ludwig still talked of the picture that had made such a
strong impression upon him.  He had seen it in a shop window
during their walk.  It was a poorly painted thing, representing
two men tied back to back, standing on shipboard, surrounded by a
group of seamen who were preparing to cast them together into the
sea.  This mode of putting prisoners to death was called
voetspoelen, or feet washing, and was practiced by the Dutch
upon the pirates of Dunkirk in 1605; and again by the Spaniards
against the Dutch, in the horrible massacre that followed the
siege of Haarlem.  Bad as the painting was, the expression upon
the pirates' faces was well given.  Sullen and despairing as they
seemed, they wore such a cruel, malignant aspect that Ludwig had
felt a secret satisfaction in contemplating their helpless
condition.  he might have forgotten the scene by this time but
for that ill-looking man by the fire.  Now, while he capered
about, boylike, and threw himself with an antic into his bed, he
inwardly hoped that the voetspoelen would not haunt his dreams.

It was a cold, cheerless room; a fire had been newly kindled in
the burnished stove and seemed to shiver even while it was trying
to burn.  The windows, with their funny little panes, were bare
and shiny, and the cold waxed floor looked like a sheet of yellow
ice.  Three rush-bottomed chairs stood stiffly against the wall,
alternating with three narrow wooden bedsteads that made the room
look like the deserted ward of a hospital.  At any other time the
boys would have found it quite impossible to sleep in pairs,
especially in such narrow quarters, but tonight they lost all
fear of being crowded and longed only to lay their weary bodies
upon the feather beds that lay lightly upon each cot.  Had the
boys been in Germany instead of Holland, they might have been
covered, also, by a bed of down or feathers.  This peculiar form
of luxury was at that time adopted only by wealthy or eccentric
Hollanders.

Ludwig, as we have seen, had not quite lost his friskiness, but
the other boys, after one or two feeble attempts at pillow
firing, composed themselves for the night with the greatest
dignity.  Nothing like fatigue for making boys behave themselves!

"Good night, boys!" said Peter's voice from under the covers.

"Good night," called back everybody but Jacob, who already lay
snoring beside the captain.

"I say," shouted Carl after a moment, "don't sneeze, anybody. 
Ludwig's in a fright!"

"No such thing," retorted Ludwig in a smothered voice.  Then
there was a little whispered dispute, which was ended by Carl
saying, "For my part, I don't know what fear is.  But you really
are a timid fellow, Ludwig."

Ludwig grunted sleepily, but made no further reply.


It was the middle of the night.  The fire had shivered itself to
death, and, in place of its gleams, little squares of moonlight
lay upon the floor, slowly, slowly shifting their way across the
room.  Something else was moving also, but the boys did not see
it.  Sleeping boys keep but a poor lookout.  During the early
hours of the night, Jacob Poot had been gradually but surely
winding himself with all the bed covers.  He now lay like a
monster chrysalis beside the half-frozen Peter, who, accordingly,
was skating with all his might over the coldest, bleakest of
dreamland icebergs.

Something else, I say, besides the moonlight, was moving across
the bare, polished floor--moving not quite so slowly, but quite
as stealthily.

Wake up, Ludwig!  The voetspoelen is growing real!

No.  Ludwig does not waken, but he moans in his sleep.

Does not Carl hear it--Carl the brave, the fearless?

No.  Carl is dreaming of the race.

And Jacob?  Van Mounen?  Ben?

Not they.  They, too, are dreaming of the race, and Katrinka is
singing through their dreams--laughing, flitting past them; now
and then a wave from the great organ surges through their midst.

Still the thing moves, slowly, slowly.

Peter!  Captain Peter, there is danger!


Peter heard no call, but in his dream, he slid a few thousand
feet from one iceberg to another, and the shock awoke him.

Whew!  How cold he was!  He gave a hopeless, desperate tug at the
chrysalis in vain.  Sheet, blanket, and spread were firmly wound
around Jacob's inanimate form.

Clear moonlight, he thought.  We shall have pleasant weather
tomorrow.  Halloo!  What's that?

He saw the moving thing, or rather something black crouching upon
the floor, for it had halted as Peter stirred.

He watched in silence.

Soon it moved again, nearer and nearer.  It was a man crawling
upon hands and feet!

The captain's first impulse was to call out, but he took an
instant to consider matters.

The creeper had a shining knife in one hand.  This was ugly, but
Peter was naturally self-possessed.  When the head turned,
Peter's eyes were closed as if in sleep, but at other times,
nothing could be keener, sharper than the captain's gaze.

Closer, closer crept the robber.  His back was very near Peter
now.  The knife was laid softly upon the floor.  One careful arm
reached forth stealthily to drag the clothes from the chair by
the captain's bed--the robbery was commenced.

Now was Peter's time!  Holding his breath, he sprang up and
leaped with all his strength upon the robber's back, stunning the
rascal with the force of the blow.  To seize the knife was but a
second's work.  The robber began to struggle, but Peter sat like
a giant astride the prostrate form.

"If you stir," said the brave boy in as terrible a voice as he
could command, "stir but one inch, I will plunge this knife into
your neck.  Boys!  Boys!  Wake up!" he shouted, still pressing
down the black head and holding the knife at pricking distance. 
"Give us a hand!  I've got him!"

The chrysalis rolled over, but made no other sign.

"Up, boys!" cried Peter, never budging.  "Ludwig!  Lambert! 
Donder!  Are you all dead?"

Dead?  Not they!  Van Mounen and Ben were on their feet in an
instant.

"Hey!  What now?" they shouted.

"I've got a robber here," said Peter coolly.  "Lie still, you
scoundrel, or I'll slice your head off!  Now, boys, cut out your
bed cord--plenty of time--he's a dead man if he stirs."

Peter felt that he weighed a thousand pounds.  So he did, with
that knife in his hand.

The man growled and swore but dared not move.

Ludwig was up by this time.  He had a great jackknife, the pride
of his heart, in his breeches pocket.  It could do good service
now.  They bared the bedstead in a moment.  It was laced backward
and forward with a rope.

"I'll cut it," cried Ludwig, sawing away at the knot.  "Hold him
tight, Peter!"

"Never fear!" answered the captain, giving the robber a warning
prick.

The boys were soon pulling at the rope like good fellows.  It was
out at last--a long, stout piece.

"Now, boys," commanded the captain, "lift up his rascally arms! 
Cross his hands over his back!  That's right--excuse me for being
in the way--tie them tight!"

"Yes, and his feet too, the villain!" cried the boys in great
excitement, tying knot after knot with Herculean jerks.

The prisoner changed his tone.

"Oh--oh!" he moaned.  "Spare a poor sick man--I was but walking
in my sleep."

"Ugh!" grunted Lambert, still tugging away at the rope.  "Asleep,
were you?  Well, we'll wake you up."

The man muttered fierce oaths between his teeth, then cried in a
piteous voice, "Unbind me, good young masters!  I have five
little children at home.  By Saint Bavon I swear to give you each
a ten-guilder piece if you will but free me!"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Peter.

"Ha! ha!" laughed the other boys.

Then came threats, threats that made Ludwig fairly shudder,
though he continued to bind and tie with redoubled energy.

"Hold up, mynheer housebreaker," said Van Mounen in a warning
voice.  "That knife is very near your throat.  If you make the
captain nervous, there is no telling what may happen."

The robber took the hint, and fell into a sullen silence.

Just at this moment the chrysalis upon the bed stirred and sat
erect.

"What's the matter?" he asked, without opening his eyes.

"Matter!" echoed Ludwig, half trembling, half laughing.  "Get up,
Jacob.  Here's work for you.  Come sit on this fellow's back
while we get into our clothes, we're half perished."

"What fellow?  Donder!"

"Hurrah for Poot!" cried all the boys as Jacob, sliding quickly
to the floor, bedclothes and all, took in the state of affairs at
a glance and sat heavily beside Peter on the robber's back.

Oh, didn't the fellow groan then!

"No use in holding him down any longer, boys," said Peter,
rising, but bending as he did so to draw a pistol from the man's
belt.  "You see I've been keeping a guard over this pretty little
weapon for the last ten minutes.  It's cocked, and the least
wriggle might have set it off.  No danger now.  I must dress
myself.  You and I, Lambert, will go for the police.  I'd no idea
it was so cold."

"Where is Carl?" asked one of the boys.

They looked at one another.  Carl certainly was not among them.

"Oh!" cried Ludwig, frightened at last.  "Where is he?  Perhaps
he's had a fight with the robber and got killed."

"Not a bit of it," said Peter quietly as he buttoned his stout
jacket.  "Look under the beds."

They did so.  Carl was not there.

Just then they heard a commotion on the stairway.  Ben hastened
to open the door.  The landlord almost tumbled in; he was armed
with a big blunderbuss.  Two or three lodgers followed; then the
daughter, with an upraised frying pan in one hand and a candle in
the other; and behind her, looking pale and frightened, the
gallant Carl!

"There's your man, mine host," said Peter, nodding toward the
prisoner.

Mine host raised his blunderbuss, the girl screamed, and Jacob,
more nimble than usual, rolled quickly from the robber's back.

"Don't fire," cried Peter, "he is tied, hand and foot.  Let's
roll him over and see what he looks like."

Carl stepped briskly forward, with a bluster, "Yes.  We'll turn
him over in a way he won't like.  Lucky we've caught him!"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Ludwig.  "Where were you, Master Carl?"

"Where was I?" retorted Carl angrily.  "Why, I went to give the
alarm, to be sure!"

All the boys exchanged glances, but they were too happy and
elated to say anything ill-natured.  Carl certainly was bold
enough now.  He took the lead while three others aided him in
turning the helpless man.

While the robber lay faceup, scowling and muttering, Ludwig took
the candlestick from the girl's hand.

"I must have a good look at the beauty," he said, drawing closer,
but the words were no sooner spoken than he turned pale and
started so violently that he almost dropped the candle.

"The voetspoelen!" he cried!  "Why, boys, it's the man who sat
by the fire!"

"Of course it is," answered Peter.  "We counted out money before
him like simpletons.  But what have we to do with voetspoelen,
brother Ludwig?  A month in jail is punishment enough."

The landlord's daughter had left the room.  She now ran in,
holding up a pair of huge wooden shoes.  "See, father," she
cried, "here are his great ugly boats.  It's the man that we put
in the next room after the young masters went to bed.  Ah!  It
was wrong to send the poor young gentlemen up here so far out of
sight and sound."

"The scoundrel!" hissed the landlord.  "He has disgraced my
house.  I go for the police at once!"

In less than fifteen minutes two drowsy-looking officers were in
the room.  After telling Mynheer Kleef that he must appear early
in the morning with the boys and make his complaint before a
magistrate, they marched off with their prisoner.

One would think the captain and his band could have slept no more
that night, but the mooring has not yet been found that can
prevent youth and an easy conscience from drifting down the river
of dreams.  The boys were much too fatigued to let so slight a
thing as capturing a robber bind them to wakefulness.  They were
soon in bed again, floating away to strange scenes made of
familiar things.  Ludwig and Carl had spread their bedding upon
the floor.  One had already forgotten the voetspoelen, the
race--everything; but Carl was wide-awake.  He heard the
carillons ringing out their solemn nightly music and the
watchman's noisy clapper putting in discord at the quarter hours;
he saw the moonshine glide away from the window and the red
morning light come pouring in, and all the while he kept
thinking, Pooh! what a goose I have made of myself!

Carl Schummel, alone, with none to look or to listen, was not
quite so grand a fellow as Carl Schummel strutting about in his
boots.




Before the Court



You may believe that the landlord's daughter bestirred herself to
prepare a good meal for the boys next morning.  Mynheer had a
Chinese gong that could make more noise than a dozen breakfast
bells.  Its hideous reveille, clanging through the house,
generally startled the drowsiest lodgers into activity, but the
maiden would not allow it to be sounded this morning.

"Let the brave young gentlemen sleep," she said to the greasy
kitchen boy.  "They shall be warmly fed when they awaken."

It was ten o'clock when Captain Peter and his band came
straggling down one by one.

"A pretty hour," said mine host, gruffly.  "It is high time we
were before the court.  Fine business, this, for a respectable
inn.  You will testify truly, young masters, that you found most
excellent fare and lodging at the Red Lion?"

"Of course we will," answered Carl saucily, "and pleasant
company, too, though they visit at rather unseasonable hours."

A stare and a "humph!" was all the answer mynheer made to this,
but the daughter was more communicative.  Shaking her earrings at
Carl, she said sharply, "Not so very pleasant, either, master
traveler, if you could judge by the way YOU ran away from it!"

"Impertinent creature!" hissed Carl under his breath as he began
busily to examine his skate straps.  Meantime the kitchen boy,
listening outside at the crack of the door, doubled himself with
silent laughter.

After breakfast the boys went to the police court, accompanied by
Huygens Kleef and his daughter.  Mynheer's testimony was
principally to the effect that such a thing as a robber at the
Red Lion had been unheard of until last night, and as for the Red
Lion, it was a most respectable inn, as respectable as any house
in Leyden.  Each boy, in turn, told all that he knew of the
affair and identified the prisoner in the box as the same man who
entered their room in the dead of night.  Ludwig was surprised to
find that the prisoner in the box was a man of ordinary
size--especially after he had described him, under oath, to the
court as a tremendous fellow with great, square shoulders and
legs of prodigious weight.  Jacob swore that he was awakened by
the robber kicking and thrashing upon the floor, and immediately
afterward, Peter and the rest (feeling sorry that they had not
explained the matter to their sleepy comrade) testified that the
man had not moved a muscle from the moment the point of the
dagger touched his throat, until, bound from head to foot, he was
rolled over for inspection.  The landlord's daughter made one boy
blush, and all the court smile, by declaring, "If it hadn't been
for that handsome young gentleman there"--pointing to
Peter--"they might have all been murdered in their beds; for the
dreadful man had a great, shining knife most as long as Your
Honor's arm," and SHE believed, "the handsome young gentleman
had struggled hard enough to get it away from him, but he was too
modest, bless him! to say so."

Finally, after a little questioning, and cross-questioning from
the public prosecutor, the witnesses were dismissed, and the
robber was handed over to the consideration of the criminal
court.

"The scoundrel!" said Carl savagely when the boys reached the
street.  "He ought to be sent to jail at once.  If I had been in
your place, Peter, I certainly should have killed him outright!"

"He was fortunate, then, in falling into gentler hands," was
Peter's quiet reply.  "It appears he has been arrested before
under a charge of housebreaking.  He did not succeed in robbing
this time, but he broke the door-fastenings, and that I believe
constitutes a burglary in the eyes of the law.  He was armed with
a knife, too, and that makes it worse for him, poor fellow!"

"Poor fellow!" mimicked Carl.  "One would think he was your
brother!"

"So he is my brother, and yours too, Carl Schummel, for that
matter," answered Peter, looking into Carl's eye.  "We cannot say
what we might have become under other circumstances.  WE have
been bolstered up from evil, since the hour we were born.  A
happy home and good parents might have made that man a fine
fellow instead of what he is.  God grant that the law may cure
and not crush him!"

"Amen to that!" said Lambert heartily while Ludwig van Holp
looked at his brother in such a bright, proud way that Jacob
Poot, who was an only son, wished from his heart that the little
form buried in the old church at home had lived to grow up beside
him.

"Humph!" said Carl.  "It's all very well to be saintly and
forgiving, and all that sort of thing, but I'm naturally hard. 
All these fine ideas seem to rattle off me like hailstones--and
it's nobody's business, either, if they do."

Peter recognized a touch of good feeling in this clumsy
concession.  Holding out his hand, he said in a frank, hearty
tone, "Come, lad, shake hands, and let us be good friends, even
if we don't exactly agree on all questions."

"We do agree better than you think," sulked Carl as he returned
Peter's grasp.

"All right," responded Peter briskly.  "Now, Van Mounen, we await
Benjamin's wishes.  Where would he like to go?"

"To the Egyptian Museum?" answered Lambert after holding a brief
consultation with Ben.

"That is on the Breedstraat.  To the museum let it be.  Come,
boys!"




The Beleaguered Cities



"This open square before us," said Lambert, as he and Ben walked
on together, "is pretty in summer, with its shady trees.  They
call it the Ruine.  Years ago it was covered with houses, and the
Rapenburg Canal, here, ran through the street.  Well, one day a
barge loaded with forty thousand pounds of gunpowder, bound for
Delft, was lying alongside, and the bargemen took a notion to
cook their dinner on the deck, and before anyone knew it, sir,
the whole thing blew up, killing lots of persons and scattering
about three hundred houses to the winds."

"What!" exclaimed Ben.  "Did the explosion destroy three hundred
houses!"

"Yes, sir, my father was in Leyden at the time.  He says it was
terrible.  The explosion occurred just at noon and it was like a
volcano.  All this part of the town was on fire in an instant,
buildings tumbling down and men, women, and children groaning
under the ruins.  The king himself came to the city and acted
nobly, Father says, staying out in the streets all night,
encouraging the survivors in their efforts to arrest the fire and
rescue as many as possible from under the heaps of stone and
rubbish.  Through his means a collection for the benefit of the
sufferers was raised throughout the kingdom, besides a hundred
thousand guilders paid out of the treasury.  Father was only
nineteen years old then.  It was in 1807, I believe, but he
remembers it perfectly.  A friend of his, Professor Luzac, was
among the killed.  They have a tablet erected to his memory, in
Saint Peter's Church, farther on--the queerest thing you ever
saw, with an image of the professor carved upon it, representing
him just as he looked when he was found after the explosion."

"What a strange idea!  Isn't Boerhaave's monument in Saint
Peter's also?"

"I cannot remember.  Perhaps Peter knows."

The captain delighted Ben by saying that the monument was there
and that he thought they might be able to see it during the day.

"Lambert," continued Peter, "ask Ben if he saw Van der Werf's
portrait at the town hall last night?"

"No," said Lambert, "I can answer for him.  It was too late to go
in.  I say, boys, it is really wonderful how much Ben knows. 
Why, he has told me a volume of Dutch history already.  I'll
wager he has the siege of Leyden at his tongue's end."

"His tongue must burn, then," interposed Ludwig, "for if
Bilderdyk's account is true, it was a pretty hot affair."

Ben was looking at them with an inquiring smile.

"We are speaking of the siege of Leyden," explained Lambert.

"Oh, yes," said Ben, eagerly, "I had forgotten all about it. 
This was the very place.  Let's give old Van der Werf three
cheers.  Hur--"

Van Mounen uttered a hasty "Hush!" and explained that, patriotic
as the Dutch were, the police would soon have something to say if
a party of boys cheered in the street at midday.

"What?  Not cheer Van der Werf?" cried Ben, indignantly.  "One of
the greatest chaps in history?  Only think!  Didn't he hold out
against those murderous Spaniards for months and months?  There
was the town, surrounded on all sides by the enemy; great black
forts sending fire and death into the very heart of the city--but
no surrender!  Every man a hero--women and children, too, brave
and fierce as lions, provisions giving out, the very grass from
between the paving stones gone--till people were glad to eat
horses and cats and dogs and rats.  Then came the
plague--hundreds dying in the streets--but no surrender!  Then
when they could bear no more, when the people, brave as they
were, crowded about Van der Werf in the public square begging him
to give up, what did the noble old burgomaster say?  'I have
sworn to defend this city, and with God's help, I MEAN TO DO IT! 
If my body can satisfy your hunger, take it, and divide it among
you, but expect no surrender so long as I am alive.'  Hurrah!
hur--"

Ben was getting uproarious; Lambert playfully clapped his hand
over his friend's mouth.  The result was one of those quick
India-rubber scuffles fearful to behold but delightful to human
nature in its polliwog state.

"Vat wash te matter, Pen?" asked Jacob, hurrying forward.

"Oh! nothing at all," panted Ben, "except that Van Mounen was
afraid of starting an English riot in this orderly town.  He
stopped my cheering for old Van der--"

"Ya! ya--it ish no goot to sheer--to make te noise for dat.  You
vill shee old Van der Does's likeness mit te Stadhuis."

"See old Van der Does?  I thought it was Van der Werf's picture
they had there."

"Ya," responded Jacob, "Van der Werf--vell, vot of it!  Both ish
just ash goot--"

"Yes, Van der Does was a noble old Dutchman, but he was not Van
der Werf.  I know he defended the city like a brick, and--"

"Now vot for you shay dat, Penchamin?  He no defend te city mit
breek, he fight like goot soltyer mit his guns.  You like make te
fun mit effrysinks Tutch."

"No!  No!  No!  I said he defended the city LIKE a brick.  That
is very high praise, I would have you understand.  We English
call even the Duke of Wellington a brick."

Jacob looked puzzled, but his indignation was already on the ebb.

"Vell, it ish no matter.  I no tink, before, soltyer mean breek,
but it ish no matter."

Ben laughed good-naturedly, and seeing that his cousin was tired
of talking in English, he turned to his friend of the two
languages.

"Van Mounen, they say the very carrier pigeons that brought news
of relief to the besieged city are somewhere here in Leyden.  I
really should like to see them.  Just think of it!  At the very
height of the trouble, if the wind didn't turn and blow in the
waters, and drown hundreds of Spaniards and enable the Dutch
boats to sail in right over the land with men and provisions to
the very gates of the city.  The pigeons, you know, did great
service, in bearing letters to and fro.  I have read somewhere
that they were reverently cared for from that day, and when they
died, they were stuffed and placed for safekeeping in the town
hall.  We must be sure to have a look at them."

Van Mounen laughed.  "On that principle, Ben, I suppose when you
go to Rome you'll expect to see the identical goose who saved the
capitol.  But it will be easy enough to see the pigeons.  They
are in the same building with Van der Werf's portrait.  Which was
the greater defense, Ben, the siege of Leyden or the siege of
Haarlem?"

"Well," replied Ben thoughtfully, "Van der Werf is one of my
heroes.  We all have our historical pets, you know, but I really
think the siege of Haarlem brought out a braver, more heroic
resistance even, than the Leyden one; besides, they set the
Leyden sufferers an example of courage and fortitude, for their
turn came first."

"I don't know much about the Haarlem siege," said Lambert,
"except that it was in 1573.  Who beat?"

"The Spaniards," said Ben.  "The Dutch had stood out for months. 
Not a man would yield nor a woman, either, for that matter.  They
shouldered arms and fought gallantly beside their husbands and
fathers.  Three hundred of them did duty under Kanau Hesselaer, a
great woman, and brave as Joan of Arc.  All this time the city
was surrounded by the Spaniards under Frederic of Toledo, son of
that beauty, the Duke of Alva.  Cut off from all possible help
from without, there seemed to be no hope for the inhabitants, but
they shouted defiance over the city walls.  They even threw bread
into the enemy's camps to show that they were not afraid of
starvation.  Up to the last they held out bravely, waiting for
the help that never could come--growing bolder and bolder until
their provisions were exhausted.  Then it was terrible.  In time,
hundreds of famished creatures fell dead in the streets, and the
living had scarcely strength to bury them.  At last they made the
desperate resolution that, rather than perish by lingering
torture, the strongest would form a square, placing the weakest
in the center, and rush in a body to their death, with the faint
chance of being able to fight their way through the enemy.  The
Spaniards received a hint of this, and believing that there was
nothing the Dutch would not dare to do, they concluded to offer
terms."

"High time, I should think."

"Yes, with falsehood and treachery they soon obtained an entrance
into the city, promising protection and forgiveness to all except
those whom the citizens themselves would acknowledge as deserving
of death."

"You don't say so!" said Lambert, quite interested.  "That ended
the business, I suppose."

"Not a bit of it," returned en, "for the Duke of Alva had already
given his son orders to show mercy to none."

"Ah!  That was where the great Haarlem massacre came in.  I
remember now.  You can't wonder that the Hollanders dislike Spain
when you read of the way they were butchered by Alva and his
hosts, though I admit that our side sometimes retaliated
terribly.  But as I have told you before, I have a very
indistinct idea of historical matters.  Everything is
confusion--from the flood to the battle of Waterloo.  One thing
is plain, however, the Duke of Alva was about the worst specimen
of a man that ever lived."

"That gives only a faint idea of him," said Ben, "but I hate to
think of such a wretch.  What if he HAD brains and military
skill, and all that sort of thing!  Give me such men as Van der
Werf, and-- What now?"

"Why," said Van Mounen, who was looking up and down the street in
a bewildered way.  "We've walked right past the museum, and I
don't see the boys.  Let us go back."




Leyden



The boys met at the museum and were soon engaged in examining its
extensive collection of curiosities, receiving a new insight into
Egyptian life, ancient and modern.  Ben and Lambert had often
visited the British Museum, but that did not prevent them from
being surprised at the richness of the Leyden collection.  There
were household utensils, wearing apparel, weapons, musical
instruments, sarcophagi, and mummies of men, women, and cats,
ibexes, and other creatures.  They saw a massive gold armlet that
had been worn by an Egyptian king at a time when some of these
same mummies, perhaps, were nimbly treading the streets of
Thebes; and jewels and trinkets such as Pharaoh's daughter wore,
and the children of Israel borrowed when they departed out of
Egypt.

There were other interesting relics, from Rome and Greece, and
some curious Roman pottery which had been discovered in digging
near The Hague--relics of the days when the countrymen of Julius
Caesar had settled there.  Where have they not settled?  I for
one would hardly be astonished if relics of the ancient Romans
should someday be found deep under the grass growing around the
Bunker Hill monument.

When the boys left this museum, they went to another and saw a
wonderful collection of fossil animals, skeletons, birds,
minerals, precious stones, and other natural specimens, but as
they were not learned men, they could only walk about and stare,
enjoy the little knowledge of natural history they possessed, and
wish with all their hearts they had acquired more.  Even the
skeleton of the mouse puzzled Jacob.  What wonder?  He was not
used to seeing the cat-fearing little creatures running about in
their bones--and how could he ever have imagined their necks to
be so queer?

Besides the Museum of Natural History, there was Saint Peter's
Church to be visited, containing Professor Luzac's memorial, and
Boerhaave's monument of white and black marble, with its urn and
carved symbols of the four ages of life, and its medallion of
Boerhaave, adorned with his favorite motto, Simplex sigillum
veri.  They also obtained admittance to a tea garden, which in
summer was a favorite resort of the citizens and, passing naked
oaks and fruit trees, ascended to a high mound which stood in the
center.  This was the site of a round tower now in ruins, said by
some to have been built by Hengist the Anglo-Saxon king, and by
others to have been the castle of one of the ancient counts of
Holland.

As the boys walked about on the top of its stone wall, they could
get but a poor view of the surrounding city.  The tower stood
higher when, more than two centuries ago, the inhabitants of
beleaguered Leyden shouted to the watcher on its top their wild,
despairing cries, "Is there any help?  Are the waters rising? 
What do you see?"

And for months he could only answer, "No help.  I see around us
nothing but the enemy."

Ben pushed these thoughts away and, resolutely looking down into
the bare tea garden, filled it in imagination with gay summer
groups.  He tried to forget old battle clouds, and picture only
curling wreaths of tobacco smoke rising from among men, women,
and children enjoying their tea and coffee in the open air.  But
a tragedy came in spite of him.

Poot was bending over the edge of the high wall.  It would be
just like him to grow dizzy and tumble off.  Ben turned
impatiently away.  If the fellow, with his weak head, knew no
better than to be venturesome, why, let him tumble.  Horror! 
What mean that heavy, crashing sound?

Ben could not stir.  He could only gasp.  "Jacob!"

"Jacob!" cried another startled voice and another.  Ready to
faint, Ben managed to turn his head.  He saw a crowd of boys on
the edge of the wall opposite, but Jacob was not there!

"Good heavens!" he cried, springing forward, "where is my
cousin?"

The crowd parted.  It was only four boys, after all.  There sat
Jacob in their midst, holding his sides and laughing heartily.

"Did I frighten you all?" he said in his native Dutch.  "Well, I
will tell you how it was.  There was a big stone lying on the
wall and I put my--my foot out just to push it a little, you see,
and the first thing I knew, down went the stone all the way to
the bottom and left me sitting here on top with both my feet in
the air.  If I had not thrown myself back at that moment, I
certainly should have rolled over after the stone.  Well, it is
no matter.  Help me up, boys."

"You're hurt!" said Ben, seeing a shade of seriousness pass over
his cousin's face as they lifted him to his feet.

Jacob tried to laugh again.  "Oh, no--I feels a little hurt ven I
stant up, but it ish no matter."


The monument to Van der Werf in the Hooglandsche Kerk was not
accessible that day, but the boys spent a few pleasant moments in
the Stadhuis or town hall, a long irregular structure somewhat in
the Gothic style, uncouth in architecture but picturesque from
age.  Its little steeple, tuneful with bells, seemed to have been
borrowed from some other building and hastily clapped on as a
finishing touch.

Ascending the grand staircase, the boys soon found themselves in
a rather gloomy apartment, containing the masterpiece of Lucas
van Leyden, or Hugens, a Dutch artist born three hundred and
seventy years ago, who painted well when he was ten years of age
and became distinguished in art when only fifteen.  This picture,
called the Last Judgment, considering the remote age in which it
was painted, is truly a remarkable production.  The boys,
however, were less interested in tracing out the merits of the
work than they were in the fact of its being a triptych--that is,
painted on three divisions, the two outer ones swung on hinges so
as to close, when required, over the main portion.

The historical pictures of Harel de Moor and other famous Dutch
artists interested them for a while, and Ben had to be almost
pulled away from the dingy old portrait of Van der Werf.

The town hall, as well as the Egyptian Museum, is on the
Breedstraat, the longest and finest street in Leyden.  It has no
canal running through it, and the houses, painted in every
variety of color, have a picturesque effect as they stand with
their gable ends to the street; some are very tall with half
their height in their step-like roofs; others crouch before the
public edifices and churches.  Being clean, spacious,
well-shaded, and adorned with many elegant mansions, it compares
favorably with the finery portions of Amsterdam.  It is kept
scrupulously neat.  Many of the gutters are covered with boards
that open like trapdoors, and it is supplied with pumps
surmounted with shining brass ornaments kept scoured and bright
at the public cost.  The city is intersected by numerous water
roads formed by the river Rhine, there grown sluggish, fatigued
by its long travel, but more than one hundred and fifty stone
bridges reunite the dissevered streets.  The same world-renowned
river, degraded from the beautiful, free-flowing Rhine, serves as
a moat from the rampart that surrounds Leyden and is crossed by
drawbridges at the imposing gateways that give access to the
city.  Fine broad promenades, shaded by noble trees, border the
canals and add to the retired appearance of the houses behind,
heightening the effect of scholastic seclusion that seems to
pervade the place.

Ben, as he scanned the buildings on the Rapenburg Canal, was
somewhat disappointed in the appearance of the great University
of Leyden.  But when he recalled its history--how, attended with
all the pomp of a grand civic display, it had been founded by the
Prince of Orange as a tribute to the citizens for the bravery
displayed during the siege; when he remembered the great men in
religion, learning, and science who had once studied there and
thought of the hundreds of students now sharing the benefits of
its classes and its valuable scientific museums--he was quite
willing to forego architectural beauty, though he could not help
feeling that no amount of it could have been misplaced on such an
institution.

Peter and Jacob regarded the building with an even deeper, more
practical interest, for they were to enter it as students in the
course of a few months.

"Poor Don Quixote would have run a hopeless tilt in this part of
the world," said Ben after Lambert had been pointing out some of
the oddities and beauties of the suburbs.  "It is all windmills. 
You remember his terrific contest with one, I suppose."

"No," said Lambert bluntly.

"Well, I don't, either, that is, not definitely.  But there was
something of that kind in his adventures, and if there wasn't,
there should have been.  Look at them, how frantically they whirl
their great arms--just the thing to excite the crazy knight to
mortal combat.  It bewilders one to look at them.  Help me to
count all those we can see, Van Mounen.  I want a big item for my
notebook."  And after a careful reckoning, superintended by all
the party, Master Ben wrote in pencil, "Saw, Dec., 184--,
ninety-eight windmills within full view of Leyden."

He would have been glad to visit the old brick mill in which the
painter Rembrandt was born, but he abandoned the project upon
learning that it would take them out of their way.  Few boys as
hungry as Ben was by this time would hesitate long between
Rembrandt's home a mile off and tiffin close by.  Ben chose the
latter.

After tiffin, they rested awhile, and then took another, which,
for form's sake, they called dinner.  After dinner the boys sat
warming themselves at the inn; all but Peter, who occupied the
time in another fruitless search for Dr. Boekman.

This over, the party once more prepared for skating.  They were
thirteen miles from The Hague and not as fresh as when they had
left Broek early on the previous day, but they were in good
spirits and the ice was excellent.




The Palace in the Wood



As the boys skated onward, they saw a number of fine country
seats, all decorated and surrounded according to the Dutchest of
Dutch taste, but impressive to look upon, with their great,
formal houses, elaborate gardens, square hedges, and wide
ditches--some crossed by a bridge, having a gate in the middle to
be carefully locked at night.  These ditches, everywhere
traversing the landscape, had long ago lost their summer film and
now shone under the sunlight like trailing ribbons of glass.

The boys traveled bravely, all the while performing the
surprising feat of producing gingerbread from their pockets and
causing it to vanish instantly.

Twelve miles were passed.  A few more long strokes would take
them to The Hague, when Van Mounen proposed that they should vary
their course by walking into the city through the Bosch.

"Agreed!" cried one and all--and their skates were off in a
twinkling.

The Bosch is a grand park or wood, nearly two miles long,
containing the celebrated House in the Wood--Huis in't
Bosch--sometimes used as a royal residence.

The building, though plain outside for a palace, is elegantly
furnished within and finely frescoed--that is, the walls and
ceiling are covered with groups and designs painted directly upon
them while the plaster was fresh.  Some of the rooms are
tapestried with Chinese silks, beautifully embroidered.  One
contains a number of family portraits, among them a group of
royal children who in time were orphaned by a certain ax, which
figures very frequently in European history.  These children were
painted many times by the Dutch artist Van Dyck, who was court
painter to their father, Charles the First of England.  Beautiful
children they were.  What a deal of trouble the English nation
would have been spared had they been as perfect in heart and soul
as they were in form!

The park surrounding the palace is charming, especially in
summer, for flowers and birds make it bright as fairyland.  Long
rows of magnificent oaks rear their proud heads, conscious that
no profaning hand will ever bring them low.  In fact, the Wood
has for ages been held as an almost sacred spot.  Children are
never allowed to meddle with its smallest twig.  The ax of the
woodman has never resounded there.  Even war and riot have passed
it reverently, pausing for a moment in their devastating way. 
Philip of Spain, while he ordered Dutchmen to be mowed down by
hundreds, issued a mandate that not a bough of the beautiful Wood
should be touched.  And once, when in a time of great necessity
the State was about to sacrifice it to assist in filling a nearly
exhausted treasury, the people rushed to the rescue, and nobly
contributed the required amount rather than that the Bosch should
fall.

What wonder, then, that the oaks have a grand, fearless air? 
Birds from all Holland have told them how, elsewhere, trees are
cropped and bobbed into shape--but THEY are untouched.  Year
after year they expand in unclipped luxuriance and beauty; their
wide-spreading foliage, alive with song, casts a cool shade over
lawn and pathway or bows to its image in the sunny ponds.

Meanwhile, as if to reward the citizens for allowing her to have
her way for once, Nature departs from the invariable level,
wearing gracefully the ornaments that have been reverently
bestowed upon her.  So the lawn slopes in a velvety green; the
paths wind in and out; flower beds glow and send forth perfume;
and ponds and sky look at each other in mutual admiration.

Even on that winter day the Bosch was beautiful.  Its trees were
bare, but beneath them still lay the ponds, every ripple smoothed
into glass.  The blue sky was bright overhead, and as it looked
down through the thicket of boughs, it saw another blue sky, not
nearly so bright, looking up from the dim thicket under the ice.

Never had the sunset appeared more beautiful to Peter than when
he saw it exchanging farewell glances with the windows and
shining roofs of the city before him.  Never had The Hague itself
seemed more inviting.  He was no longer Peter van Holp, going to
visit a great city, nor a fine young gentleman bent on
sight-seeing; he was a knight, an adventurer, travel-soiled and
weary, a Hop-o'-my-Thumb grown large, a Fortunatas approaching
the enchanted castle where luxury and ease awaited him, for his
own sister's house was not half a mile away.

"At last, boys," he cried in high glee, "we may hope for a royal
resting place--good beds, warm rooms, and something fit to eat. 
I never realized before what a luxury such things are.  Our
lodgings at the Red Lion have made us appreciate our own homes."




The Merchant Prince and the Sister-Princess



Well might Peter feel that his sister's house was like an
enchanted castle.  Large and elegant as it was, a spell of quiet
hung over it.  The very lion crouching at its gate seemed to have
been turned into stone through magic.  Within, it was guarded by
genii, in the shape of red-faced servants, who sprang silently
forth at the summons of bell or knocker.  There was a cat also,
who appeared as knowing as any Puss-in-Boots, and a brass gnome
in the hall whose business it was to stand with outstretched arms
ready to receive sticks and umbrellas.  Safe within the walls
bloomed a Garden of Delight, where the flowers firmly believed it
was summer, and a sparkling fountain was laughing merrily to
itself because Jack Frost could not find it.  There was a
Sleeping Beauty, too, just at the time of the boys' arrival, but
when Peter, like a true prince, flew lightly up the stairs and
kissed her eyelids, the enchantment was broken.  The princess
became his own good sister, and the fairy castle just one of the
finest, most comfortable houses of The Hague.

As may well be believed, the boys received the heartiest of
welcomes.  After they had conversed awhile with their lively
hostess, one of the genii summoned them to a grand repast in a
red-curtained room, where floor and ceiling shone like polished
ivory, and the mirrors suddenly blossomed into rosy-cheeked boys
as far as the eye could reach.

They had caviar now, and salmagundi, and sausage and cheese,
besides salad and fruit and biscuit and cake.  How the boys could
partake of such a medley was a mystery to Ben, for the salad was
sour, and the cake was sweet; the fruit was dainty, and the
salmagundi heavy with onions and fish.  But, while he was
wondering, he made a hearty meal, and was soon absorbed in
deciding which he really preferred, the coffee or the anisette
cordial.  It was delightful too--this taking one's food from
dishes of frosted silver and liqueur glasses from which Titania
herself might have sipped.  The young gentleman afterward wrote
to his mother that, pretty and choice as things were at home, he
had never known what cut glass, china, and silver services were
until he visited The Hague.

Of course, Peter's sister soon heard all of the boys' adventures. 
How they had skated over forty miles and seen rare sights on the
way; how they had lost their purse and found it again.  How one
of the party had fallen and given them an excuse for a grand sail
in an ice boat; how, above all, they had caught a robber and so,
for a second time, saved their slippery purse.

"And now, Peter," said the lady when the story was finished, "you
must write at once to tell the good people of Broek that your
adventures have reached their height, that you and your fellow
travelers have all been taken prisoners."

The boys looked startled.

"Indeed, I shall do no such thing," laughed Peter.  "We must
leave tomorrow at noon."

But the sister had already decided differently, and a Holland
lady is not to be easily turned from her purpose.  In short, she
held forth such strong temptations and was so bright and cheerful
and said so many coaxing and unanswerable things, both in English
and Dutch, that the boys were all delighted when it was settled
that they should remain at The Hague for at least two days.

Next the grand skating race was talked over; Mevrouw van Gend
gladly promised to be present on the occasion.  "I shall witness
your triumph, Peter," she said, "for you are the fastest skater I
ever knew."

Peter blushed and gave a slight cough as Carl answered for him.

"Ah, mevrouw, he is swift, but all the Broek boys are fine
skaters--even the rag pickers," and he thought bitterly of poor
Hans.

The lady laughed.  "That will make the race all the more
exciting," she said.  "But I shall wish each of you to be the
winner."

At this moment her husband Mynheer van Gend came in, and the
enchantment falling upon the boys was complete.

The invisible fairies of the household at once clustered about
them, whispering that Jasper van Gend had a heart as young and
fresh as their own, and if he loved anything in this world more
than industry, it was sunshine and frolic.  They hinted also
something about his having a hearty full of love and a head full
of wisdom and finally gave the boys to understand that when
mynheer said a thing, he meant it.

Therefore his frank "Well, now, this is pleasant," as he shook
hands with them all, made the boys feel quite at home and as
happy as squirrels.

There were fine paintings in the drawing room and exquisite
statuary, and portfolios filled with rare Dutch engravings,
besides many beautiful and curious things from China and Japan. 
The boys felt that it would require a month to examine all the
treasures of the apartment.

Ben noticed with pleasure English books lying upon the table.  He
saw also over the carved upright piano, life-sized portraits of
William of Orange and his English queen, a sight that, for a
time, brought England and Holland side by side in his heart. 
William and Mary have left a halo round the English throne to
this day, he the truest patriot that ever served an adopted
country, she the noblest wife that ever sat upon a British
throne, up to the time of Victoria and Albert the Good.  As Ben
looked at the pictures he remembered accounts he had read of King
William's visit to The Hague in the winter of 1691.  He who sang
the Battle of Ivry had not yet told the glowing story of that
day, but Ben knew enough of it to fancy that he could almost hear
the shouts of the delighted populace as he looked from the
portraits to the street, which at this moment was aglow with a
bonfire, kindled in a neighboring square.

That royal visit was one never to be forgotten.  For two years
William of Orange had been monarch of a foreign land, his head
working faithfully for England, but his whole heart yearning for
Holland.  Now, when he sought its shores once more, the entire
nation bade him welcome.  Multitudes flocked to The Hague to meet
him--"Many thousands came sliding or skating along the frozen
canals from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leyden, Haarlem, Delft."
*{Macaulay's History of England.}  All day long the festivities
of the capital were kept up, the streets were gorgeous with
banners, evergreen arches, trophies, and mottoes of welcome and
emblems of industry.  William saw the deeds of his ancestors and
scenes of his own past life depicted on banners and tapestries
along the streets.  At night superb fireworks were displayed upon
the ice.  Its glassy surface was like a mirror.  Sparkling
fountains of light sprang up from below to meet the glittering
cascades leaping upon it.  Then a feathery fire of crimson and
green shook millions of rubies and emeralds into the ruddy depths
of the ice--and all this time the people were shouting, "God
bless William of Orange!  Long live the king!"  They were half
mad with joy and enthusiasm.  William, their own prince, their
stadtholder, had become the ruler of three kingdoms; he had been
victorious in council and in war, and now, in his hour of
greatest triumph, had come as a simple guest to visit them.  he
king heard their shouts with a beating heart.  It is a great
thing to be beloved by one's country.  His English courtiers
complimented him upon his reception.  "Yes," said he, "but the
shouting is nothing to what it would have been if Mary had been
with me!"

While Ben was looking at the portraits, Mynheer van Gend was
giving the boys an account of a recent visit to Antwerp.  As it
was the birthplace of Quentin Matsys, the blacksmith who for love
of an artist's daughter studied until he became a great painter,
the boys asked their host if he had seen any of Matsys' works.

"Yes, indeed," he replied, and excellent they are.  His famous
triptych in a chapel of the Antwerp cathedral, with the Descent
from the Cross on the center panel, is especially fine, but I
confess I was more interested in his well."

"What well, mynheer?" asked Ludwig.

One in the heart of the city, near this same cathedral, whose
lofty steeple is of such delicate workmanship that the French
emperor said it reminded him of Mechlin lace.  The well is
covered with a Gothic canopy surmounted by the figure of a knight
in full armor.  It is all of metal and proves that Matsys was an
artist at the forge as well as at the easel; indeed, his great
fame is mainly derived from his miraculous skill as an artificer
in iron."

Next, mynheer showed the boys some exquisite Berlin castings,
which he had purchased in Antwerp.  They were IRON JEWELRY, and
very delicate--beautiful medallions designed from rare
paintings, bordered with fine tracery and open work--worthy, he
said, of being worn by the fairest lady of the land. 
Consequently the necklace was handed with a bow and a smile to
the blushing Mevrouw van Gend.

Something in the lady's aspect, as she bent her bright young face
over the gift, caused mynheer to say earnestly, "I can read your
thoughts, sweetheart."

She looked up in playful defiance.

"Ah, now I am sure of them!  You were thinking of those
noblehearted women, but for whom Prussia might have fallen.  I
know it by that proud light in your eye."

"The proud light in my eye plays me false, then," she answered. 
"I had no such grand matter in my mind.  To confess the simple
truth, I was only thinking how lovely this necklace would be with
my blue brocade."

"So, so!" exclaimed the rather crestfallen spouse.

"But I CAN think of the other, Jasper, and it will add a deeper
value to your gift.  You remember the incident, do you not,
Peter?  How when the French were invading Prussia and for lack of
means the country was unable to defend itself against the enemy,
the women turned the scale by pouring their plate and jewels into
the public treasury--"

Aha! thought mynheer as he met his vrouw's kindling glance.  The
proud light is there now, in earnest.

Peter remarked maliciously that the women had still proved true
to their vanity on that occasion, for jewelry they would have. 
If gold or silver were wanted by the kingdom, they would
relinquish it and use iron, but they could not do without their
ornaments.

"What of that?" said the vrouw, kindling again.  "It is no sin
to love beautiful things if you adapt your material to
circumstances.  All I have to say is, the women saved their
country and, indirectly, introduced a very important branch of
manufacture.  Is not that so, Jasper?"

"Of course it is, sweetheart," said mynheer, "but Peter needs no
word of mine to convince him that all the world over women have
never been found wanting in their country's hour of trial,
though"--(bowing to mevrouw)--"his own country women stand
foremost in the records of female patriotism and devotion."

Then, turning to Ben, the host talked with him in English of the
fine old Belgian city.  Among other things he told the origin of
its name.  Ben had been taught that Antwerp was derived from
ae'nt werf (on the wharf), but Mynheer van Gend gave him a far
more interesting derivation.

It appears that about three thousand years ago, a great giant,
named Antigonus, lived on the river Scheld, on the site of the
present city of Antwerp.  This giant claimed half the merchandise
of all navigators who passed his castle.  Of course, some were
inclined to oppose this simple regulation.  In such cases,
Antigonus, by way of teaching them to practice better manners
next time, cut off and threw into the river the rights hands of
the merchants.  Thus handwerpen (or hand-throwing), changed to
Antwerp, came to be the name of the place.  The escutcheon or
arms of the city has two hands upon it; what better proof than
this could one have of the truth of the story, especially when
one wishes to believe it!

When Mynheer van Gend had related in two languages this story of
Antwerp, he was tempted to tell other legends--some in English,
some in Dutch; and so the moments, borne upon the swift shoulders
of gnomes and giants, glided rapidly away toward bedtime.

It was hard to break up so pleasant a party, but the Van Gend
household moved with the regularity of clockwork.  There was no
lingering at the threshold when the cordial "Good night!" was
spoken.  Even while our boys were mounting the stairs, the
invisible household fairies again clustered around them,
whispering that system and regularity had been chief builders of
the master's prosperity.

Beautiful chambers with three beds in them were not to be found
in this mansion.  Some of the rooms contained two, but each
visitor slept alone.  Before morning, the motto of the party
evidently was, "Every boy his own chrysalis," and Peter, at
least, was not sorry to have it so.

Tired as he was, Ben, after noting a curious bell rope in the
corner, began to examine his bedclothes.  Each article filled him
with astonishment--the exquisitely fine pillow spread trimmed
with costly lace and embroidered with a gorgeous crest and
initial, the dekbed cover (a great silk bag, large as the bed,
stuffed with swan's down), and the pink satin quilts, embroidered
with garlands of flowers.  He could scarcely sleep for thinking
what a queer little bed it was, so comfortable and pretty, too,
with all its queerness.  In the morning he examined the top
coverlet with care, for he wished to send home a description of
it in his next letter.  It was a beautiful Japanese spread,
marvelous in texture as well as in its variety of brilliant
coloring, and worth, as Ben afterward learned, not less than
three hundred dollars.

The floor was of polished wooden mosaic, nearly covered with a
rich carpet bordered with thick black fringe.  Another room
displayed a margin of satinwood around the carpet.  Hung with
tapestry, its walls of crimson silk were topped with a gilded
cornice which shot down gleams of light far into the polished
floor.

Over the doorway of the room in which Jacob and Ben slept was a
bronze stork that, with outstretched neck, held a lamp to light
the guests into the apartment.  Between the two narrow beds of
carved whitewood and ebony, stood the household treasure of the
Van Gends, a massive oaken chair upon which the Prince of Orange
had once sat during a council meeting.  Opposite stood a quaintly
carved clothespress, waxed and polished to the utmost and filled
with precious stores of linen; beside it a table holding a large
Bible, whose great golden clasps looked poor compared with its
solid, ribbed binding made to outlast six generations.

There was a ship model on the mantleshelf, and over it hung an
old portrait of Peter the Great, who, you know, once gave the
dockyard cats of Holland a fine chance to look at a king, which
is one of the special prerogatives of cats.  Peter, though czar
of Russia, was not too proud to work as a common shipwright in
the dockyards of Saardam and Amsterdam, that he might be able to
introduce among his countrymen Dutch improvements in ship
building.  It was this willingness to be thorough even in the
smallest beginnings that earned for him the title of Peter the
Great.

Peter the little (comparatively speaking) was up first, the next
morning; knowing the punctual habits of his brother-in-law, he
took good care that none of the boys should oversleep themselves. 
A hard task he found it to wake Jacob Poot, but after pulling
that young gentleman out of bed, and, with Ben's help, dragging
him about the room for a while, he succeeded in arousing him.

While Jacob was dressing and moaning within him because the felt
slippers, provided him as a guest, were too tight for his swollen
feet, Peter wrote to inform their friends at Broek of the safe
arrival of his party at The Hague.  He also begged his mother to
send word to Hans Brinker that Dr. Boekman had not yet reached
Leyden but that a letter containing Hans's message had been left
at the hotel where the doctor always lodged during his visits to
the city.  "Tell him, also," wrote Peter, "that I shall call
there again, as I pass through Leyden.  The poor boy seemed to
feel sure that 'the meester' would hasten to save his father,
but we, who know the gruff old gentleman better, may be confident
he will do no such thing.  It would be a kindness to send a
visiting physician from Amsterdam to the cottage at once, if
Jufvrouw *{In Holland, women of the lower grades of society do
not take the title of Mrs. (or Mevrouw) when they marry, as with
us.  They assume their husbands' names but are still called Miss
(Jufvrouw, pronounced Yuffrow).} Brinker will consent to receive
any but the great king of the meesters, as Dr. Boekman certainly
is.

"You know, Mother," added Peter, "that I have always considered
Sister van Gend's house as rather quiet and lonely, but I assure
you, it is not so now.  He says we make him wish that he had a
houseful of boys of his own.  He has promised to let us ride on
his noble black horses.  They are gentle as kittens, he says, if
one have but a firm touch at the rein.  Ben, according to Jacob's
account, is a glorious rider, and your son Peter is not a very
bad hand at the business; so we two are to go out together this
morning mounted like knights of old.  After we return, Brother
van Gend says he will lend Jacob his English pony and obtain
three extra horses; and all of the party are to trot about the
city in a grand cavalcade, led on by him.  He will ride the black
horse which Father sent him from Friesland.  My sister's pretty
roan with the long white tail is lame, and she will ride none
other; else she would accompany us.  I could scarcely close my
eyes last night after Sister told me of the plan.  Only the
thought of poor Hans Brinker and his sick father checked me, but
for that I could have sung for joy.  Ludwig has given us a name
already--the Broek Cavalry.  We flatter ourselves that we shall
make an imposing appearance, especially in single file. . . ."

The Broek Cavalry were not disappointed.  Mynheer van Gend
readily procured good horses; and all the boys could ride, though
none was as perfect horsemen (or horseboys) as Peter and Ben. 
They saw The Hague to their hearts' content, and The Hague saw
them--expressing its approbation loudly, through the mouths of
small boys and cart dogs; silently, through bright eyes that, not
looking very deeply into things, shone as they looked at the
handsome Carl and twinkled with fun as a certainly portly youth
with shaking cheeks rode past bumpetty, bumpetty, bump!

On their return, the boys pronounced the great porcelain stove in
the family sitting room a decidedly useful piece of furniture,
for they could gather around it and get warm without burning
their noses or bringing on chilblains.  It was so very large
that, though hot elsewhere, it seemed to send out warmth by the
houseful.  Its pure white sides and polished brass rings made it
a pretty object to look upon, notwithstanding the fact that our
ungrateful Ben, while growing thoroughly warm and comfortable
beside it, concocted a satirical sentence for his next letter, to
the effect that a stove in Holland must, of course, resemble a
great tower of snow or it wouldn't be in keeping with the oddity
of the country.

To describe all the boys saw and did on that day and the next
would render this little book a formidable volume indeed.  They
visited the brass cannon foundry, saw the liquid fire poured into
molds, and watched the smiths, who, half naked, stood in the
shadow, like demons playing with flame.  They admired the grand
public buildings and massive private houses, the elegant streets,
and noble Bosch--pride of all beauty-loving Hollanders.  The
palace with its brilliant mosaic floors, its frescoed ceilings,
and gorgeous ornaments, filled Ben with delight; he was surprised
that some of the churches were so very plain--elaborate sometimes
in external architecture but bare and bleak within with their
blank, whitewashed walls.

If there were no printed record, the churches of Holland would
almost tell her story.  I will not enter into the subject here,
except to say that Ben--who had read of her struggles and wrongs
and of the terrible retribution she had from time to time dealt
forth--could scarcely tread a Holland town without mentally
leaping horror-stricken over the bloody stepping-stones of its
history.  He could not forget Philip of Spain nor the Duke of
Alva even while rejoicing in the prosperity that followed the
Liberation.  He looked into the meekest of Dutch eyes for
something of the fire that once lit the haggard faces of those
desperate, lawless men who, wearing with pride the title of
"Beggars," which their oppressors had mockingly cast upon them,
became the terror of land and sea.  In Haarlem he had wondered
that the air did not still resound with the cries of Alva's three
thousand victims.  In Leyden his heart had swelled in sympathy as
he thought of the long procession of scarred and famished
creatures who after the siege, with Adrian van der Werf at their
head, tottered to the great church to sing a glorious anthem
because Leyden was free!  He remembered that this was even before
they had tasted the bread brought by the Dutch ships.  They would
praise God first, then eat.  Thousands of trembling voices were
raised in glad thanksgiving.  For a moment it swelled higher and
higher, then suddenly changed to sobbing--not one of all the
multitude could sing another note.  But who shall say that
anthem, even to its very end, was not heard in heaven!

Here, in The Hague, other thoughts came to Ben--of how Holland in
later years unwillingly put her head under the French yoke, and
how, galled and lashed past endurance, she had resolutely jerked
it out again.  He liked her for that.  What nation of any spirit,
thought he, could be expected to stand such work, paying all her
wealth into a foreign treasury and yielding up the flower of her
youth under foreign conscription.  It was not so very long ago,
either, since English guns had been heard booming close by in the
German Ocean; well--all the fighting was over at last.  Holland
was a snug little monarchy now in her own right, and Ben, for
one, was glad of it.  Arrived at this charitable conclusion, he
was prepared to enjoy to the utmost all the wonders of her
capital; he quite delighted Mynheer van Gend with his hearty and
intelligent interest--so, in fact, did all the boys, for a
merrier, more observant party never went sight-seeing.




Through the Hague



The picture gallery in the Maurits Huis, *{A building erected by
Prince Maurice of Nassau.} one of the finest in the world, seemed
to have only flashed by the boys during a two-hour visit, so much
was there to admire and examine.  As for the royal cabinet of
curiosities in the same building, they felt that they had but
glanced at it, though they were there nearly half a day.  It
seemed to them that Japan had poured all her treasures within its
walls.  For a long period Holland, always foremost in commerce,
was the only nation allowed to have any intercourse with Japan. 
One can well forego a journey to that country if he can but visit
the museum at The Hague.

Room after room is filled with collections from the Hermit
Empire--costumes peculiar to various ranks and pursuits, articles
of ornament, household utensils, weapons, armor, and surgical
instruments.  There is also an ingenious Japanese model of the
Island of Desina, the Dutch factory in Japan.  It appears almost
as the island itself would if seen through a reversed opera glass
and makes one feel like a Gulliver coming unexpectedly upon a
Japanese Lilliput.  There you see hundreds of people in native
costumes, standing, kneeling, stooping, reaching--all at work, or
pretending to be--and their dwellings, even their very furniture,
spread out before you, plain as day.  In another room a huge
tortoiseshell dollhouse, fitted up in Dutch style and inhabited
by dignified Dutch dolls, stands ready to tell you at a glance
how people live in Holland.

Gretel, Hilda, Katrinka, even the proud Rychie Korbes would have
been delighted with this, but Peter and his gallant band passed
it by without a glance.  The war implements had the honor of
detaining them for an hour; such clubs, such murderous krits, or
daggers, such firearms, and, above all, such wonderful Japanese
swords, quite capable of performing the accredited Japanese feat
of cutting a man in two at a single stroke!

There were Chinese and other Oriental curiosities in the
collection.  Native historical relics, too, upon which our young
Dutchmen gazed very soberly, though they were secretly proud to
show them to Ben.

There was a model of the cabin at Saardam in which Peter the
Great lived during his short career as ship-builder.  Also,
wallets and bowls--once carried by the "Beggar" Confederates,
who, uniting under the Prince of Orange, had freed Holland from
the tyranny of Spain; the sword of Admiral van Speyk, who about
ten years before had perished in voluntarily blowing up his own
ship; and Van Tromp's armor with the marks of bullets upon it. 
Jacob looked around, hoping to see the broom which the plucky
admiral fastened to his masthead, but it was not there.  The
waistcoat which William Third *{William, Prince of Orange, who
became king of England, was a great-grandson of William the
Silent, Prince of Orange, who was murdered by Geraerts (or
Gerard) July 10, 1584.} of England wore during the last days of
his life, possessed great interest for Ben, and one and all gazed
with a mixture of reverence and horror-worship at the identical
clothing worn by William the Silent *{see above} when he was
murdered at Delft by Balthazar Geraerts.  A tawny leather doublet
and plain surcoat of gray cloth, a soft felt hat, and a high
neck-ruff from which hung one of the "Beggars'" medals--these
were not in themselves very princely objects, though the doublet
had a tragic interest from its dark stains and bullet holes.  Ben
could readily believe, as he looked upon the garments, that the
Silent Prince, true to his greatness of character, had been
exceedingly simple in his attire.  His aristocratic prejudices
were, however, decidedly shocked when Lambert told him of the way
in which William's bride first entered The Hague.

"The beautiful Louisa de Coligny, whose father and former husband
both had fallen at the massacre of St. Bartholomew, was coming to
be fourth wife to the Prince, and of course," said Lambert, "we
Hollanders were too gallant to allow the lady to enter the town
on foot.  No, sir, we sent--or rather my ancestors did--a clean,
open post-wagon to meet her, with a plank across it for her to
sit upon!"

"Very gallant indeed!" exclaimed Ben, with almost a sneer in his
polite laugh.  "And she the daughter of an admiral of France."

"Was she?  Upon my word, I had nearly forgotten that.  But, you
see, Holland had very plain ways in the good old time; in fact,
we are a very simple, frugal people to this day.  The Van Gend
establishment is a decided exception, you know."

"A very agreeable exception, I think," said Ben.

"Certainly, certainly.  But, between you and me, Mynheer van
Gend, though he has wrought his own fortunes, can afford to be
magnificent and yet be frugal."

"Exactly so," said Ben profoundly, at the same time stroking his
upper lip and chin, which latterly he believed had been showing
delightful and unmistakable signs of coming dignities.

While tramping on foot through the city, Ben often longed for a
good English sidewalk.  Here, as in the other towns, there was no
curb, no raised pavement for foot travelers, but the streets were
clean and even, and all vehicles were kept scrupulously within a
certain tract.  Strange to say, there were nearly as many sleds
as wagons to be seen, though there was not a particle of snow. 
The sleds went scraping over the bricks or cobblestones, some
provided with an apparatus in front for sprinkling water, to
diminish the friction, and some rendered less musical by means of
a dripping oil rag, which the driver occasionally applied to the
runners.

Ben was surprised at the noiseless way in which Dutch laborers do
their work.  Even around the warehouses and docks there was no
bustle, no shouting from one to another.  A certain twitch of the
pipe, or turn of the head, or, at most, a raising of the hand,
seemed to be all the signal necessary.  Entire loads of cheeses
or herrings are pitched from cart or canalboat into the
warehouses without a word; but the passerby must take his chance
of being pelted, for a Dutchman seldom looks before or behind him
while engaged at work.

Poor Jacob Poot, who seemed destined to bear all the mishaps of
the journey, was knocked nearly breathless by a great cheese,
which a fat Dutchman was throwing to a fellow laborer, but he
recovered himself, and passed on without evincing the least
indignation.  Ben professed great sympathy upon the occasion, but
Jacob insisted that it was "notting."

"Then why did you screw your face so when it hit you?"

"What for screw mine face?" repeated Jacob soberly.  "Vy, it vash
de--de--"

"That what?" insisted Ben maliciously.

"Vy, de-de-vat you call dis, vat you taste mit de nose?"

Ben laughed.  "Oh, you mean the smell."

"Yesh.  Dat ish it," said Jacob eagerly.  "It wash de shmell.  I
draw mine face for dat!"

"Ha! ha!" roared Ben.  "That's a good one.  A Dutch boy smell a
cheese!  You can never make me believe THAT!"

"Vell, it ish no matter," replied Jacob, trudging on beside Ben
in perfect good humor.  "Vait till you hit mit cheese--dat ish
all."

Soon he added pathetically, "Penchamin, I no likes to be call
Tuch--dat ish no goot.  I bees a Hollander."

Just as Ben was apologizing, Lambert hailed him.

"Hold up!  Ben, here is the fish market.  There is not much to be
seen at this season.  But we can take a look at the storks if you
wish."

Ben knew that storks were held in peculiar reverence in Holland
and that the bird figured upon the arms of the capital.  He had
noticed cart wheels placed upon the roofs of Dutch cottages to
entice storks to settle upon them; he had seen their huge nests,
too, on many a thatched gable roof from Broek to The Hague.  But
it was winter now.  The nests were empty.  No greedy birdlings
opened their mouths--or rather their heads--at the approach of a
great white-winged thing, with outstretched neck and legs,
bearing a dangling something for their breakfast.  The long-bills
were far away, picking up food on African shores, and before they
would return in the spring, Ben's visit to the land of dikes
would be over.

Therefore he pressed eagerly forward, as Van Mounen led the way
through the fish market, anxious to see if storks in Holland were
anything like the melancholy specimens he had seen in the
Zoological Gardens of London.

It was the same old story.  A tamed bird is a sad bird, say what
you will.  These storks lived in a sort of kennel, chained by the
feet like felons, though supposed to be honored by being kept at
the public expense.  In summer they were allowed to walk about
the market, where the fish stalls were like so many free dining
saloons to them.  Untasted delicacies in the form of raw fish and
butcher's offal lay about their kennels now, but the city guests
preferred to stand upon one leg, curving back their long necks
and leaning their heads sidewise, in a blinking reverie.  How
gladly they would have changed their petted state for the busy
life of some hardworking stork mother or father, bringing up a
troublesome family on the roof of a rickety old building where
flapping wind-mills frightened them half to death every time they
ventured forth on a frolic!

Ben soon made up his mind, and rightly, too, that The Hague with
its fine streets and public parks shaded with elms, was a
magnificent city.  The prevailing costume was like that of London
or Paris, and his British ears were many a time cheered by the
music of British words.  The shops were different in many
respects from those on Oxford Street and the Strand, but they
often were illumined by a printed announcement that English was
"spoken within."  Others proclaimed themselves to have London
stout for sale, and one actually promised to regale its customers
with English roast beef.

Over every possible shop door was the never-failing placard,
TABAK TE KOOP (tobacco to be sold).  Instead of colored glass
globes in the windows, or high jars of leeches, the drugstores
had a gaping Turk's head at the entrance--or, if the
establishment was particularly fine, a wooden mandarin entire,
indulging in a full yawn.

Some of these queer faces amused Ben exceedingly; they seemed to
have just swallowed a dose of physic, but Van Mounen declared he
could not see anything funny about them.  A druggist showed his
sense by putting a Gaper before his door, so that his place
would be known at once as an apotheek and that was all there was
to it.

Another thing attracted Ben--the milkmen's carts.  These were
small affairs, filled with shiny brass kettles, or stone jars,
and drawn by dogs.  The milkman walked meekly beside his cart,
keeping his dog in order, and delivering the milk to customers. 
Certain fish dealers had dogcarts, also, and when a herring dog
chanced to meet a milk dog, he invariably put on airs and growled
as he passed him.  Sometimes a milk dog would recognize an
acquaintance before another milk cart across the street, and then
how the kettles would rattle, especially if they were empty! 
Each dog would give a bound and, never caring for his master's
whistle, insist upon meeting the other halfway.  Sometimes they
contented themselves with an inquisitive sniff, but generally the
smaller dog made an affectionate snap snap at the larger one's
ear, or a friendly tussle was engaged in by way of exercise. 
Then woe to the milk kettles, and woe to the dogs!

The whipping over, each dog, expressing his feelings as best as
he could, would trot demurely back to his work.

If some of these animals were eccentric in their ways, others
were remarkably well behaved.  In fact, there was a school for
dogs in the city, established expressly for training them.  Ben
probably saw some of its graduates.  Many a time he noticed a
span of barkers trotting along the street with all the dignity of
horses, obeying the slightest hint of the man walking briskly
beside them.  Sometimes, when their load was delivered, the
dealer would jump in the cart and have a fine drive to his home
beyond the gates of the city; and sometimes, I regret to say, a
patient vrouw would trudge beside the cart with a fish basket
upon her head and a child in her arms--while her lord enjoyed his
drive, carrying no heavier burden than a stumpy clay pipe, the
smoke of which mounted lovingly into her face.




A Day of Rest



The sight-seeing came to an end at last, and so did our boys'
visit to The Hague.  They had spent three happy days and nights
with the Van Gends, and, strange to say, had not once, in all
that time, put on skates.  The third day had indeed been one of
rest.  The noise and bustle of the city was hushed; sweet Sunday
bells sent blessed, tranquil thoughts into their hearts.  Ben
felt, as he listened to their familiar music, that the Christian
world is one, after all, however divided by sects and differences
it may be.  As the clock speaks everyone's native language in
whatever land it may strike the hour, so church bells are never
foreign if our hearts but listen.

Led on by these clear voices, our party, with Mevrouw van Gend
and her husband, trod the quiet but crowded streets, until they
came to a fine old church in the southern part of the city.

The interior was large and, notwithstanding its great stained
windows, seemed dimly lighted, though the walls were white and
dashes of red and purple sunshine lay brightly upon pillar and
pew.

Ben saw a few old women moving softly through the aisles, each
bearing a high pile of foot stoves which she distributed among
the congregation by skillfully slipping out the under one, until
none were left.  It puzzled him that mynheer should settle
himself with the boys in a comfortable side pew, after seating
his vrouw in the body of the church, which was filled with
chairs exclusively appropriated to the women.  But Ben was
learning only a common custom of the country.

The pews of the nobility and the dignitaries of the city were
circular in form, each surrounding a column.  Elaborately carved,
they formed a massive base to their great pillars standing out in
bold relief against the blank, white walls beyond.  These
columns, lofty and well proportioned, were nicked and defaced
from violence done to them long ago; yet it seemed quite fitting
that, before they were lost in the deep arches overhead, their
softened outlines should leaf out as they did into richness and
beauty.

Soon Ben lowered his gaze to the marble floor.  It was a pavement
of gravestones.  Nearly all the large slabs, of which it was
composed, marked the resting places of the dead.  An armorial
design engraved upon each stone, with inscription and date, told
whose form as sleeping beneath, and sometimes three of a family
were lying one above the other in the same sepulcher.

He could not help but think of the solemn funeral procession
winding by torchlight through those lofty aisles and bearing its
silent burden toward a dark opening whence the slab had been
lifted, in readiness for its coming.  It was something to think
that his sister Mabel, who died in her flower, was lying in a
sunny churchyard where a brook rippled and sparkled in the
daylight and waving trees whispered together all night long;
where flowers might nestle close to the headstone, and moon and
stars shed their peace upon it, and morning birds sing sweetly
overhead.

Then he looked up from the pavement and rested his eyes upon the
carved oaken pulpit, exquisitely beautiful in design and
workmanship.  He could not see the minister--though, not long
before, he had watched him slowly ascending its winding stair--a
mild-faced man wearing a ruff about his neck and a short cloak
reaching nearly to the knee.

Meantime the great church had been silently filling.  Its pews
were somber with men and its center radiant with women in their
fresh Sunday attire.  Suddenly a soft rustling spread through the
pulpit.  All eyes were turned toward the minister now appearing
above the pulpit.

Although the sermon was spoken slowly, Ben could understand
little of what was said; but when the hymn came, he joined in
with all his heart.  A thousand voices lifted in love and praise
offered a grander language than he could readily comprehend.

Once he was startled, during a pause in the service, by seeing a
little bag suddenly shaken before him.  It had a tinkling bell at
its side and was attached to a long stick carried by one of the
deacons of the church.  Not relying solely upon the mute appeal
of the poor boxes fastened to the columns near the entrance, this
more direct method was resorted to, of awakening the sympathies
of the charitable.

Fortunately Ben had provided himself with a few stivers, or the
musical bag must have tinkled before him in vain.

More than once, a dark look rose on our English boy's face that
morning.  He longed to stand up and harangue the people
concerning a peculiarity that filled him with pain.  Some of the
men wore their hats during the service or took them off whenever
the humor prompted, and many put theirs on in the church as soon
as they arose to leave.  No wonder Ben's sense of propriety was
wounded; and yet a higher sense would have been exercised had he
tried to feel willing that Hollanders should follow the customs
of their country.  But his English heart said over and over
again, "It is outrageous!  It is sinful!"

There is an angel called Charity who would often save our hearts
a great deal of trouble if we would but let her in.




Homeward Bound



On Monday morning, bright and early, our boys bade farewell to
their kind entertainers and started on their homeward journey.

Peter lingered awhile at the lion-guarded door, for he and his
sister had many parting words to say.

As Ben saw them bidding each other good-bye, he could not help
feeling that kisses as well as clocks were wonderfully alike
everywhere.  The English kiss that his sister Jenny had given him
when he left home had said the same thing to him that the Vrouw
van Gend's Dutch kiss said to Peter.  Ludwig had taken his share
of the farewell in the most matter-of-fact manner possible, and
though he loved his sister well, had winced a little at her
making such a child of him as to put an extra kiss "for mother"
upon his forehead.

He was already upon the canal with Carl and Jacob.  Were they
thinking about sisters or kisses?  Not a bit of it.  They were so
happy to be on skates once more, so impatient to dart at once
into the very heart of Broek, that they spun and wheeled about
like crazy fellows, relieving themselves, meantime, by muttering
something about "Peter and donder" not worth translating.

Even Lambert and Ben, who had been waiting at the street corner,
began to grow impatient.

The captain joined them at last and they were soon on the canal
with the rest.

"Hurry up, Peter," growled Ludwig.  "We're freezing by
inches--there!  I knew you'd be the last after all to get on your
skates."

"Did you?" said his brother, looking up with an air of deep
interest.  "Clever boy!"

Ludwig laughed but tried to look cross, as he said, "I'm in
earnest.  We must get home sometime this year."

"Now, boys," cried Peter, springing up as he fastened the last
buckle.  "There's a clear way before us!  We will imagine it's
the grand race.  Ready!  One, two, three, start!"

I assure you that very little was said for the first half hour. 
They were six Mercuries skimming the ice.  In plain English, they
were lightning.  No--that is imaginary too.  The fact is, one
cannot decide what to say when half a dozen boys are whizzing
past at such a rate.  I can only tell you that each did his best,
flying, with bent body and eager eyes, in and out among the
placid skates on the canal, until the very guard shouted to them
to "Hold up!"  This only served to send them onward with a
two-boy power that startled all beholders.

But the laws of inertia are stronger even than canal guards.

After a while Jacob slackened his speed, then Ludwig, then
Lambert, then Carl.

They soon halted to take a long breath and finally found
themselves standing in a group gazing after Peter and Ben, who
were still racing in the distance as if their lives were at
stake.

"It is very evident," said Lambert at he and his three companions
started up again, "that neither of them will give up until he
can't help it."

"What foolishness," growled Carl, "to tire themselves at the
beginning of the journey!  But they're racing in earnest--that's
certain.  Halloo!  Peter's flagging!"

"Not so!" cried Ludwig.  "Catch him being beaten!"

"Ha! ha!" sneered Carl.  "I tell you, boy, Benjamin is ahead."

Now, if Ludwig disliked anything in this world, it was to be
called a boy--probably because he was nothing else.  He grew
indignant at once.

"Humph, what are YOU, I wonder.  There, sir!  NOW look and see if
Peter isn't ahead!"

"I think he IS," interposed Lambert, "but I can't quite tell at
this distance."

"I think he isn't!" retorted Carl.

Jacob was growing anxious--he always abhorred an argument--so he
said in a coaxing tone, "Don't quarrel--don't quarrel!"

"Don't quarrel!" mocked Carl, looking back at Jacob as he skated. 
"Who's quarreling?  Poot, you're a goose!"

"I can't help that," was Jacob's meek reply.  "See! they are
nearing the turn of the canal."

"NOW we can see!" cried Ludwig in great excitement.

"Peter will make it first, I know."

"He can't--for Ben is ahead!" insisted Carl.  "Gunst!  That
iceboat will run over him.  No!  He is clear!  They're a couple
of geese, anyhow.  Hurrah! they're at the turn.  Who's ahead?"

"Peter!" cried Ludwig joyfully.

"Good for the captain!" shouted Lambert and Jacob.

And Carl condescended to mutter, "It IS Peter after all.  I
thought, all the time, that head fellow was Ben."

This turn in the canal had evidently been their goal, for the two
racers came to a sudden halt after passing it.

Carl said something about being "glad that they had sense enough
to stop and rest," and the four boys skated on in silence to
overtake their companions.

All the while Carl was secretly wishing that he had kept on with
Peter and Ben, as he felt sure he could easily have come out
winner.  He was a very rapid, though by no means a graceful,
skater.

Ben was looking at Peter with mingled vexation, admiration, and
surprise as the boys drew near.

They heard him saying in English, "You're a perfect bird on the
ice, Peter van Holp.  The first fellow that ever beat me in a
fair race, I can tell you!"

Peter, who understood the language better than he could speak it,
returned a laughing bow at Ben's compliment but made no further
reply.  Possibly he was scant of breath at the time.

"Now, Penchamin, vat you do mit yourself?  Get so hot as a fire
brick--dat ish no goot," was Jacob's plaintive comment.

"Nonsense!" answered Ben.  "This frosty air will cool me soon
enough.  I am not tired."

"You are beaten, though, my boy," said Lambert in English, "and
fairly too.  How will it be, I wonder, on the day of the grand
race?"

Ben flushed and gave a proud, defiant laugh, as if to say, "This
was mere pastime.  I'm DETERMINED to beat then, come what will!"




Boys and Girls



By the time the boys reached the village of Voorhout, which
stands near the grand canal, about halfway between The Hague and
Haarlem, they were forced to hold a council.  The wind, though
moderate at first, had grown stronger and stronger, until at last
they could hardly skate against it.  The weather vanes throughout
the country had evidently entered into a conspiracy.

"No use trying to face such a blow as this," said Ludwig.  "It
cuts its way down a man's throat like a knife."

"Keep your mouth shut, then," grunted the affable Carl, who was
as strong-chested as a young ox.  "I'm for keeping on."

"In this case," interposed Peter, "we must consul the weakest of
the party rather than the strongest."

The captain's principle was all right, but its application was
not flattering to Master Ludwig.  Shrugging his shoulders, he
retorted, "Who's weak?  Not I, for one, but the wind's stronger
than any of us.  I hope you'll condescend to admit that!"

"Ha, ha!" laughed Van Mounen, who could barely keep his feet. 
"So it is."

Just then the weather vanes telegraphed to each other by a
peculiar twitch--and, in an instant, the gust came.  It nearly
threw the strong-chested Carl; it almost strangled Jacob and
quite upset Ludwig.

"This settles the question," shouted Peter.  "Off with your
skates!  We'll go into Voorhout."

At Voorhout they found a little inn with a big yard.  The yard
was well stocked, and better than all, was provided with a
complete set of skittles, so our boys soon turned the detention
into a frolic.  The wind was troublesome even in that sheltered
quarter, but they were on good standing ground and did not mind
it.

First a hearty dinner--then the game.  With pins as long as their
arms and balls as big as their heads, plenty of strength left for
rolling, and a clean sweep of sixty yards for the strokes--no
wonder they were happy.

That night Captain Peter and his men slept soundly.  No prowling
robber came to disturb them, and, as they were distributed in
separate rooms, they did not even have a bolster battle in the
morning.

Such a breakfast as they ate!  The landlord looked frightened. 
When he had asked them where they "belonged," he made up his mind
that the Broek people starved their children.  It was a shame. 
"Such fine young gentlemen too!"

Fortunately the wind had tired itself out and fallen asleep in
the great sea cradle beyond the dunes.  There were signs of snow;
otherwise the weather was fine.

It was mere child's play for the well-rested boys to skate to
Leyden.  Here they halted awhile, for Peter had an errand at the
Golden Eagle.

He left the city with a lightened heart; Dr. Boekman had been at
the hotel, read the note containing Hans's message, and departed
for Broek.

"I cannot say that it was your letter sent him off so soon,"
explained the landlord.  "Some rich lady in Broek was taken bad
very sudden, and he was sent for in haste."

Peter turned pale.

"What was the name?" he asked.

"Indeed, it went in one ear and out of the other, for all I
hindered it.  Plague on people who can't see a traveler in
comfortable lodgings, but they must whisk him off before one can
breathe."

"A lady in Broek, did you say?"

"Yes."  Very gruffly.  "Any other business, young master?"

"No, mine host, except that I and my comrades here would like a
bite of something and a drink of hot coffee."

"Ah," said the landlord sweetly, "a bite you shall have, and
coffee, too, the finest in Leyden.  Walk up to the stove, my
masters--now I think again--that was a widow lady from Rotterdam,
I think they said, visiting at one Van Stoepel's if I mistake
not."

"Ah!" said Peter, greatly relieved.  "They live in the white
house by the Schlossen Mill.  Now, mynheer, the coffee, please!"

What a goose I was, thought he, as the party left the Golden
Eagle, to feel so sure that it was my mother.  But she may be
somebody's mother, poor woman, for all that.  Who can she be?  I
wonder.

There were not many upon the canal that day, between Leyden and
Haarlem.  However, as the boys neared Amsterdam, they found
themselves once more in the midst of a moving throng.  The big
ysbreeker *{Icebreaker.  A heavy machine armed with iron spikes
for breaking the ice as it is dragged along.  Some of the small
ones are worked by men, but the large ones are drawn by horses,
sixty or seventy of which are sometimes attached to one
ysbreeker.} had been at work for the first time that season, but
there was any amount of skating ground left yet.

"Three cheers for home!" cried Van Mounen as they came in sight
of the great Western Dock (Westelijk Dok).  "Hurrah!  Hurrah!"
shouted one and all.  "Hurrah!  Hurrah!"

This trick of cheering was an importation among our party. 
Lambert van Mounen had brought it from England.  As they always
gave it in English, it was considered quite an exploit and, when
circumstances permitted, always enthusiastically performed, to
the sore dismay of their quiet-loving countrymen.

Therefore, their arrival at Amsterdam created a great sensation,
especially among the small boys on the wharf.

The Y was crossed.  They were on the Broek canal.

Lambert's home was reached first.

"Good-bye, boys!" he cried as he left them.  "We've had the
greatest frolic ever known in Holland."

"So we have.  Good-bye, Van Mounen!" answered the boys.

"Good-bye!"

Peter hailed him.  "I say, Van Mounen, the classes begin
tomorrow!"

"I know it.  Our holiday is over.  Good-bye, again."

"Good-bye!"

Broek came in sight.  Such meetings!  Katrinka was upon the
canal!  Carl was delighted.  Hilda was there!  Peter felt rested
in an instant.  Rychie was there!  Ludwig and Jacob nearly
knocked each other over in their eagerness to shake hands with
her.

Dutch girls are modest and generally quiet, but they have very
glad eyes.  For a few moments it was hard to decide whether
Hilda, Rychie, or Katrinka felt the most happy.

Annie Bouman was also on the canal, looking even prettier than
the other maidens in her graceful peasant's costume.  But she did
not mingle with Rychie's party; neither did she look unusually
happy.

The one she liked most to see was not among the newcomers. 
Indeed, he was not upon the canal at all.  She had not been near
Broek before, since the Eve of Saint Nicholas, for she was
staying with her sick grandmother in Amsterdam and had been
granted a brief resting spell, as the grandmother called it,
because she had been such a faithful little nurse night and day.

Annie had devoted her resting-spell to skating with all her might
toward Broek and back again, in the hope of meeting her mother on
the canal, or, it might be, Gretel Brinker.  Not one of them had
she seen, and she must hurry back without even catching a glimpse
of her mother's cottage, for the poor helpless grandmother, she
knew, was by this time moaning for someone to turn her upon her
cot.

Where can Gretel be? thought Annie as she flew over the ice; she
can almost always steal a few moments from her work at this time
of day.  Poor Gretel!  What a dreadful thing it must be to have a
dull father!  I should be woefully afraid of him, I know--so
strong, and yet so strange!

Annie had not heard of his illness.  Dame Brinker and her affairs
received but little notice from the people of the place.

If Gretel had not been known as a goose girl, she might have had
more friends among the peasantry of the neighborhood.  As it was,
Annie Bouman was the only one who did not feel ashamed to avow
herself by word and deed the companion of Gretel and Hans.

When the neighbors' children laughed at her for keeping such poor
company, she would simply flush when Hans was ridiculed, or laugh
in a careless, disdainful way, but to hear little Gretel abused
always awakened her wrath.

"Goose girl, indeed!" she would say.  "I can tell you that any of
you are fitter for the work than she.  My father often said last
summer that it troubled him to see such a bright-eyed, patient
little maiden tending geese.  Humph!  She would not harm them, as
you would, Janzoon Kolp, and she would not tread upon them, as
you might, Kate Wouters."

This would be pretty sure to start a laugh at the clumsy,
ill-natured Kate's expense, and Annie would walk loftily away
from the group of young gossips.  Perhaps some memory of Gretel's
assailants crossed her mind as she skated rapidly toward
Amsterdam, for her eyes sparkled ominously and she more than once
gave her pretty head a defiant toss.  When that mood passed, such
a bright, rosy, affectionate look illuminated her face that more
than one weary working man turned to gaze after her and to wish
that he had a glad, contented lass like that for a daughter.


There were five joyous households in Broek that night.

The boys were back safe and sound, and they found all well at
home.  Even the sick lady at neighbor Van Stoepel's was out of
danger.

But the next morning!  Ah, how stupidly school bells will
ding-dong, ding-dong, when one is tired.

Ludwig was sure that he had never listened to anything so odious. 
Even Peter felt pathetic on the occasion.  Carl said it was a
shameful thing for a fellow to have to turn out when his bones
were splitting.  And Jacob soberly bade Ben "Goot-pye!" and
walked off with his satchel as if it weighed a hundred pounds.




The Crisis



While the boys are nursing their fatigue, we will take a peep
into the Brinker cottage.

Can it be that Gretel and her mother have not stirred since we
saw them last?  That the sick man upon the bed has not even
turned over?  It was four days ago, and there is the sad group
just as it was before.  No, not precisely the same, for Raff
Brinker is paler; his fever is gone, though he knows nothing of
what is passing.  Then they were alone in the bare, clean room. 
Now there is another group in an opposite corner.

Dr. Boekman is there, talking in a low tone with a stout young
man who listens intently.  The stout young man is his student and
assistant.  Hans is there also.  He stands near the window,
respectfully waiting until he shall be accosted.

"You see, Vollenhoven," said Dr. Boekman, "it is a clear case
of--"  And here the doctor went off into a queer jumble of Latin
and Dutch that I cannot conveniently translate.

After a while, as Vollenhoven looked at him rather blankly, the
learned man condescended to speak to him in simpler phrase.

"It is probably like Rip Donderdunck's case," he exclaimed in a
low, mumbling tone.  "He fell from the top of Voppelploot's
windmill.  After the accident the man was stupid and finally
became idiotic.  In time he lay helpless like yon fellow on the
bed, moaned, too, like him, and kept constantly lifting his hand
to his head.  My learned friend Von Choppem performed an
operation upon this Donderdunck and discovered under the skull a
small dark sac, which pressed upon the brain.  This had been the
cause of the trouble.  My friend Von Choppem removed it--a
splendid operation!  You see, according to Celsius--"  And here
the doctor again went off into Latin.

"Did the man live?" asked the assistant respectfully.

Dr. Boekman scowled.  "That is of no consequence.  I believe he
died, but why not fix your mind on the grand features of the
case?  Consider a moment how--"  And he plunged into Latin
mysteries more deeply than ever.

"But mynheer," gently persisted the student, who knew that the
doctor would not rise to the surface for hours unless pulled at
once from his favorite depths.  "Mynheer, you have other
engagements today, three legs in Amsterdam, you remember, and an
eye in Broek, and that tumor up the canal."

"The tumor can wait," said the doctor reflectively.  "That is
another beautiful case--a beautiful case!  The woman has not
lifted her head from her shoulder for two months--magnificent
tumor, sir!"

The doctor by this time was speaking aloud.  He had quite
forgotten where he was.

Vollenhoven made another attempt.

"This poor fellow on the bed, mynheer.  Do you think you can
save him?"

"Ah, indeed, certainly," stammered the doctor, suddenly
perceiving that he had been talking rather off the point. 
"Certainly, that is--I hope so."

"If anyone in Holland can, mynheer," murmured the assistant with
honest bluntness, "it is yourself."

The doctor looked displeased, growled out a tender request for
the student to talk less, and beckoned Hans to draw near.

This strange man had a great horror of speaking to women,
especially on surgical matters.  "One can never tell," he said,
"what moment the creatures will scream or faint."  Therefore he
explained Raff Brinker's case to Hans and told him what he
believed should be done to save the patient.

Hans listened attentively, growing red and pale by turns and
throwing quick, anxious glances toward the bed.

"It may KILL the father--did you say, mynheer?" he exclaimed at
last in a trembling whisper.

"It may, my boy.  But I have a strong belief that it will cure
and not kill.  Ah!  If boys were not such dunces, I could lay the
whole matter before you, but it would be of no use."

Hans looked blank at this compliment.

"It would be of no use," repeated Dr. Boekman indignantly.  "A
great operation is proposed, but one might as well do it with a
hatchet.  The only question asked is, 'Will it kill?'"

"The question is EVERYTHING to us, mynheer," said Hans with
tearful dignity.

Dr. Boekman looked at him in sudden dismay.

"Ah!  Exactly so.  You are right, boy, I am a fool.  Good boy. 
One does not wish one's father killed--of course I am a fool."

"Will he die, mynheer, if this sickness goes on?"

"Humph!  This is no new illness.  The same thing growing worse
ever instant--pressure on the brain--will take him off soon like
THAT," said the doctor, snapping his fingers.

"And the operation MAY save him," pursued Hans.  "How soon,
mynheer, can we know?"

Dr. Boekman grew impatient.

"In a day, perhaps, an hour.  Talk with your mother, boy, and let
her decide.  My time is short."

Hans approached his mother; at first, when she looked up at him,
he could not utter a syllable; then, turning his eyes away, he
said in a firm voice, "I must speak with the mother alone."

Quick little Gretel, who could not quite understand what was
passing, threw rather an indignant look at Hans and walked away.

"Come back, Gretel, and sit down," said Hans, sorrowfully.

She obeyed.

Dame Brinker and her boy stood by the window while the doctor and
his assistant, bending over the bedside, conversed together in a
low tone.  There was no danger of disturbing the patient.  He
appeared like one blind and deaf.  Only his faint, piteous moans
showed him to be a living man.  Hans was talking earnestly, and
in a low voice, for he did not wish his sister to hear.

With dry, parted lips, Dame Brinker leaned toward him, searching
his face, as if suspecting a meaning beyond his words.  Once she
gave a quick, frightened sob that made Gretel start, but, after
that, she listened calmly.

When Hans ceased to speak, his mother turned, gave one long,
agonized look at her husband, lying there so pale and
unconscious, and threw herself on her knees beside the bed.

Poor little Gretel!  What did all this mean?  She looked with
questioning eyes at Hans; he was standing, but his head was bent
as if in prayer--at the doctor.  He was gently feeling her
father's head and looked like one examining some curious
stone--at the assistant.  The man coughed and turned away--at her
mother.  Ah, little Gretel, that was the best you could do--to
kneel beside her and twine your warm, young arms about her neck,
to weep and implore God to listen.

When the mother arose, Dr. Boekman, with a show of trouble in his
eyes, asked gruffly, "Well, jufvrouw, shall it be done?"

"Will it pain him, mynheer?" she asked in a trembling voice.

"I cannot say.  Probably not.  Shall it be done?"

"It MAY cure him, you said, and--mynheer, did you tell my boy
that--perhaps--perhaps. . ."  She could not finish.

"Yes, jufvrouw, I said the patient might sink under the
operation, but we hope it may prove otherwise."  He looked at his
watch.  The assistant moved impatiently toward the window. 
"Come, jufvrouw, time presses.  Yes or no?"

Hans wound his arm about his mother.  It was not his usual way. 
He even leaned his head against her shoulder.

"The meester awaits an answer," he whispered.

Dame Brinker had long been head of her house in every sense. 
Many a time she had been very stern with Hans, ruling him with a
strong hand and rejoicing in her motherly discipline.  NOW she
felt so weak, so helpless.  It was something to feel that firm
embrace.  There was strength even in the touch of that yellow
hair.

She turned to her boy imploringly.

"Oh, Hans!  What shall I say?"

"Say what God tells thee, Mother," answered Hans, bowing his
head.

One quick, questioning prayer to Heaven rose from the mother's
heart.

The answer came.

She turned toward Dr. Boekman.

"It is right, mynheer.  I consent."

"Humph!" grunted the doctor, as if to say, "You've been long
enough about it."  Then he conferred a moment with his assistant,
who listened with great outward deference but was inwardly
rejoicing at the grand joke he would have to tell his fellow
students.  He had actually seen a tear in "old Boekman's" eye.

Meanwhile Gretel looked on in trembling silence, but when she saw
the doctor open a leather case and take out one sharp, gleaming
instrument after another, she sprang forward.

"Oh, Mother!  The poor father meant no wrong.  Are they going to
MURDER him?"

"I do not know, child," screamed Dame Brinker, looking fiercely
at Gretel.  "I do not know."

"This will not do, jufvrouw," said Dr. Boekman sternly, and at
the same time he cast a quick, penetrating look at Hans.  "You
and the girl must leave the room.  The boy may stay."

Dame Brinker drew herself up in an instant.  Her eyes flashed. 
Her whole countenance was changed.  She looked like one who had
never wept, never felt a moment's weakness.  Her voice was low
but decided.  "I stay with my husband, mynheer."

Dr. Boekman looked astonished.  His orders were seldom
disregarded in this style.  For an instant his eye met hers.

"You may remain, jufvrouw," he said in an altered voice.

Gretel had already disappeared.

In one corner of the cottage was a small closet where her rough,
boxlike bed was fastened against the wall.  None would think of
the trembling little creature crouching there in the dark.

Dr. Boekman took off his heavy coat, filled an earthen basin with
water, and placed it near the bed.  Then turning to Hans he
asked, "Can I depend upon you, boy?"

"You can, mynheer."

"I believe you.  Stand at the head, here--your mother may sit at
your right--so."  And he placed a chair near the cot.

"Remember, jufvrouw, there must be no cries, no fainting."

Dame Brinker answered him with a look.

He was satisfied.

"Now, Vollenhoven."

Oh, that case with the terrible instruments!  The assistant
lifted them.  Gretel, who had been peering with brimming eyes
through the crack of the closet door, could remain silent no
longer.

She rushed frantically across the apartment, seized her hood, and
ran from the cottage.




Gretel and Hilda



It was recess hour.  At the first stroke of the schoolhouse bell,
the canal seemed to give a tremendous shout and grow suddenly
alive with boys and girls.

Dozens of gaily clad children were skating in and out among each
other, and all their pent-up merriment of the morning was
relieving itself in song and shout and laughter.  There was
nothing to check the flow of frolic.  Not a thought of
schoolbooks came out with them into the sunshine.  Latin,
arithmetic, grammar--all were locked up for an hour in the dingy
schoolroom.  The teacher might be a noun if he wished, and a
proper one at that, but THEY meant to enjoy themselves.  As long
as the skating was as perfect as this, it made no difference
whether Holland were on the North Pole or the equator; and, as
for philosophy, how could they bother themselves with inertia and
gravitation and such things when it was as much as they could do
to keep from getting knocked over in the commotion.

In the height of the fun, one of the children called out, "What
is that?"

"What?  Where?" cried a dozen voices.

"Why, don't you see?  That dark thing over there by the idiot's
cottage."

"I don't see anything," said one.

"I do," shouted another.  "It's a dog."

"Where's any dog?" put in a squeaky voice that we have heard
before.  "It's no such thing--it's a heap of rags."

"Pooh!  Voost," retorted another gruffly, "that's about as near
the fact as you ever get.  It's the goose girl, Gretel, looking
for rats."

"Well, what of it?" squeaked Voost.  "Isn't SHE a bundle of
rags, I'd like to know?"

"Ha! ha!  Pretty good for you, Voost!  You'll get a medal for wit
yet, if you keep on."

"You'd get something else, if her brother Hans were here.  I'll
warrant you would!" said a muffled-up little fellow with a cold
in his head."

As Hans was NOT there, Voost could afford to scout the
insinuation.

"Who cares for HIM, little sneezer?  I'd fight a dozen like him
any day, and you in the bargain."

"You would, would you?  I'd like to catch you all at it," and, by
way of proving his words, the sneezer skated off at the top of
his speed.

Just then a general chase after three of the biggest boys of the
school was proposed--and friend and foe, frolicsome as ever, were
soon united in a common cause.

Only one of all that happy throng remembered the dark little form
by the idiot's cottage.  Poor, frightened little Gretel!  She was
not thinking of them, though their merry laughter floated lightly
toward her, making her feel like one in a dream.

How loud the moans were behind the darkened window!  What if
those strange men were really killing her father!

The thought made her spring to her feet with a cry of horror.

"Ah, no!"  She sobbed, sinking upon the frozen mound of earth
where she had been sitting.  Mother is there, and Hans.  They
will care for him.  But how pale they were.  And even Hans was
crying!

Why did the cross old meester keep him and send me away? she
thought.  I could have clung to the mother and kissed her.  That
always makes her stroke my hair and speak gently, even after she
has scolded me.  How quiet it is now!  Oh, if the father should
die, and Hans, and the mother, what WOULD I do?  And Gretel,
shivering with cold, buried her face in her arms and cried as if
her heart would break.

The poor child had been tasked beyond her strength during the
past four days.  Through all, she had been her mother's willing
little handmaiden, soothing, helping, and cheering the
half-widowed woman by day and watching and praying beside her all
the long night.  She knew that something terrible and mysterious
was taking place at this moment, something that had been too
terrible and mysterious for even kind, good Hans to tell.

Then new thoughts came.  Why had not Hans told her?  It was a
shame.  It was HER father as well as his.  She was no baby.  She
had once taken a sharp knife from the father's hand.  She had
even drawn him away from the mother on that awful night when
Hans, as big as he was, could not help her.  Why, then, must she
be treated like one who could do nothing?  oh, how very still it
was--how bitter, bitter cold!  If Annie Bouman had only stayed
home instead of going to Amsterdam, it wouldn't be so lonely. 
How cold her feet were growing!  Was it the moaning that made her
feel as if she were floating in the air?

This would not do--the mother might need her help at any moment!

Rousing herself with an effort, Gretel sat upright, rubbing her
eyes and wondering--wondering that the sky was so bright and
blue, wondering at the stillness in the cottage, more than all,
at the laughter rising and falling in the distance.

Soon she sank down again, the strange medley of thought growing
more and more confused in her bewildered brain.

What a strange lip the meester had!  How the stork's nest upon
the roof seemed to rustle and whisper down to her!  How bright
those knives were in the leather case--brighter perhaps than the
silver skates.  If she had but worn her new jacket, she would not
shiver so.  The new jacket was pretty--the only pretty thing she
had ever worn.  God had taken care of her father so long.  He
would do it still, if those two men would but go away.  Ah, now
the meesters were on the roof, they were clambering to the
top--no--it was her mother and Hans--or the storks.  It was so
dark, who could tell?  And the mound rocking, swinging in that
strange way.  How sweetly the birds were singing.  They must be
winter birds, for the air was thick with icicles--not one bird
but twenty.  Oh! hear them, Mother.  Wake me, Mother, for the
race.  I am so tired with crying, and crying--

A firm hand was laid upon her shoulder.

"Get up, little girl!" cried a kind voice.  "This will not do,
for you to lie here and freeze."

Gretel slowly raised her head.  She was so sleepy that it seemed
nothing strange to her that Hilda van Gleck should be leaning
over her, looking with kind, beautiful eyes into her face.  She
had often dreamed it before.

But she had never dreamed that Hilda was shaking her roughly,
almost dragging her by main force; never dreamed that she heard
her saying, "Gretel!  Gretel Brinker!  You MUST wake!"

This was real.  Gretel looked up.  Still the lovely delicate
young lady was shaking, rubbing, fairly pounding her.  It must be
a dream.  No, there was the cottage--and the stork's nest and the
meester's coach by the canal.  She could see them now quite
plainly.  Her hands were tingling, her feet throbbing.  Hilda was
forcing her to walk.

At last Gretel began to feel like herself again.

"I have been asleep," she faltered, rubbing her eyes with both
hands and looking very much ashamed.

"Yes, indeed, entirely too much asleep"--laughed Hilda, whose
lips were very pale--"but you are well enough now.  Lean upon me,
Gretel.  There, keep moving, you will soon be warm enough to go
by the fire.  Now let me take you into the cottage."

"Oh, no! no! no! jufvrouw, not in there!  The meester is there. 
He sent me away!"

Hilda was puzzled, but she wisely forebore to ask at present for
an explanation.  "Very well, Gretel, try to walk faster.  I saw
you upon the mound, some time ago, but I thought you were
playing.  That is right, keep moving."

All this time the kindhearted girl had been forcing Gretel to
walk up and down, supporting her with one arm and, with the
other, striving as well as she could to take off her own warm
sacque.

Suddenly Gretel suspected her intention.

"Oh, jufvrouw! jufvrouw!" she cried imploringly.  "PLEASE never
think of such a thing as THAT.  Oh! please keep it on, I am
burning all over, jufvrouw!  I really am burning.  Not burning
exactly, but pins and needles pricking all over me.  Oh,
jufvrouw, don't!"

The poor child's dismay was so genuine that Hilda hastened to
reassure her.

"Very well, Gretel, move your arms then--so.  Why, your cheeks
are as pink as roses, already.  I think the meester would let
you in now, he certainly would.  Is your father so very ill?"

"Ah, jufvrouw," cried Gretel, weeping afresh, "he is dying, I
think.  There are two meesters in with him at this moment, and
the mother has scarcely spoken today.  Can you hear him moan,
jufvrouw?" she added with sudden terror.  "The air buzzes so I
cannot hear.  He may be dead!  Oh, I do wish I could hear him!"

Hilda listened.  The cottage was very near, but not a sound could
be heard.

Something told her that Gretel was right.  She ran to the window.

"You cannot see there, my lady," sobbed Gretel eagerly.  "The
mother has oiled paper hanging inside.  But at the other one, in
the south end of the cottage, you can look in where the paper is
torn."

Hilda, in her anxiety, ran around, past the corner where the low
roof was fringed with its loosened thatch.

A sudden thought checked her.

"It is not right for me to peep into another's house in this
way," she said to herself.  Then, softly calling to Gretel, she
added in a whisper, "You may look--perhaps he is only sleeping."

Gretel tried to walk briskly toward the spot, but her limbs were
trembling.  Hilda hastened to her support.

"You are sick, yourself, I fear," she said kindly.

"No, not sick, jufvrouw, but my heart cries all the time now,
even when my eyes are as dry as yours.  Why, jufvrouw, your eyes
are not dry!  Are you crying for US?  Oh, jufvrouw, if God sees
you!  Oh!  I know father will get better now."  And the little
creature, even while reaching to look through the tiny window,
kissed Hilda's hand again and again.

The sash was sadly patched and broken; a torn piece of paper hung
halfway down across it.  Gretel's face was pressed to the window.

"Can you see anything?" whispered Hilda at last.

"Yes--the father lies very still, his head is bandaged, and all
their eyes are fastened upon him.  Oh, jufvrouw!" almost
screamed Gretel, as she started back and, by a quick, dexterous
movement shook off her heavy wooden shoes.  "I MUST go in to my
mother!  Will you come with me?"

"Not now, the bell is ringing.  I shall come again soon. 
Good-bye!"

Gretel scarcely heard the words.  She remembered for many a day
afterward the bright, pitying smile on Hilda's face as she turned
away.




The Awakening



An angel could not have entered the cottage more noiselessly. 
Gretel, not daring to look at anyone, slid softly to her mother's
side.

The room was very still.  She could hear the old doctor breathe. 
She could almost hear the sparks as they fell into the ashes on
the hearth.  The mother's hand was very cold, but a burning spot
glowed on her cheek, and her eyes were like a deer's--so bright,
so sad, so eager.

At last there was a movement upon the bed, very slight, but
enough to cause them all to start.  Dr. Boekman leaned eagerly
forward.

Another movement.  The large hands, so white and soft for a poor
man's hand, twitched, then raised itself steadily toward the
forehead.

It felt the bandage, not in a restless, crazy way but with a
questioning movement that caused even Dr. Boekman to hold his
breath.

"Steady!  Steady!" said a voice that sounded very strange to
Gretel.  "Shift that mat higher, boys!  Now throw on the clay. 
The waters are rising fast; no time to--"

Dame Brinker sprang forward like a young panther.

She seized his hands and, leaning over him, cried, "Raff!  Raff,
boy, speak to me!"

"Is it you, Meitje?" he asked faintly.  "I have been asleep,
hurt, I think.  Where is little Hans?"

"Here I am, Father!" shouted Hans, half mad with joy.  But the
doctor held him back.

"He knows us!" screamed Dame Brinker.  "Great God!  He knows us! 
Gretel!  Gretel!  Come, see your father!"

In vain Dr. Boekman commanded "Silence!" and tried to force them
from the bedside.  He could not keep them off.

Hans and the mother laughed and cried together as they hung over
the newly awakened man.  Gretel made no sound but gazed at them
all with glad, startled eyes.  Her father was speaking in a faint
voice.

"Is the baby asleep, Meitje?"

"The baby!" echoed Dame Brinker.  "Oh, Gretel, that is you!  And
he calls Hans 'little Hans.'  Ten years asleep!  Oh, mynheer,
you have saved us all.  He has known nothing for ten years! 
Children, why don't you thank the meester?"

The good woman was beside herself with joy.  Dr. Boekman said
nothing, but as his eye met hers, he pointed upward.  She
understood.  So did Hans and Gretel.

With one accord they knelt by the cot, side by side.  Dame
Brinker felt for her husband's hand even while she was praying. 
Dr. Boekman's head was bowed; the assistant stood by the hearth
with his back toward them.

"Why do you pray?" murmured the father, looking feebly from the
bed as they rose.  "Is it God's day?"

It was not Sunday; but his vrouw bowed her head--she could not
speak.

"Then we should have a chapter," said Raff Brinker, speaking
slowly and with difficulty.  "I do not know how it is.  I am
very, very weak.  Mayhap the minister will read it to us."

Gretel lifted the big Dutch Bible from its carved shelf.  Dr.
Boekman, rather dismayed at being called a minister, coughed and
handed the volume to his assistant.

"Read," he murmured.  "These people must be kept quiet or the man
will die yet."

When the chapter was finished, Dame Brinker motioned mysteriously
to the rest by way of telling them that her husband was asleep.

"Now, jufvrouw," said the doctor in a subdued tone as he drew on
his thick woolen mittens, "there must be perfect quiet.  You
understand.  This is truly a most remarkable case.  I shall come
again tomorrow.  Give the patient no food today," and, bowing
hastily, he left the cottage, followed by his assistant.

His grand coach was not far away; the driver had kept the horses
moving slowly up and down by the canal nearly all the time the
doctor had been in the cottage.

Hans went out also.

"May God bless you, mynheer!" he said, blushing and trembling. 
"I can never repay you, but if--"

"Yes, you can," interrupted the doctor crossly.  "You can use
your wits when the patient wakes again.  This clacking and
sniveling is enough to kill a well man, let alone one lying on
the edge of his grave.  If you want your father to get well, keep
'em quiet."

So saying, Dr. Boekman, without another word, stalked off to meet
his coach, leaving Hans standing there with eyes and mouth wide
open.


Hilda was reprimanded severely that day for returning late to
school after recess, and for imperfect recitations.

She had remained near the cottage until she heard Dame Brinker
laugh, until she had heard Hans say, "Here I am, Father!"  And
then she had gone back to her lessons.  What wonder that she
missed them!  How could she get a long string of Latin verbs by
heart when her heart did not care a fig for them but would keep
saying to itself, "Oh, I am so glad!  I am so glad!"




Bones and Tongues



Bones are strange things.  One would suppose that they knew
nothing at all about school affairs, but they do.  Even Jacob
Poot's bones, buried as they were in flesh, were sharp in the
matter of study hours.

Early on the morning of his return they ached through and
through, giving Jacob a twinge at every stroke of the school
bell, as if to say, "Stop that clapper!  There's trouble in it." 
After school, on the contrary, they were quiet and comfortable;
in fact, seemed to be taking a nap among their cushions.

The other boys' bones behaved in a similar manner, but that is
not so remarkable.  Being nearer the daylight than Jacob's, they
might be expected to be more learned in the ways of the world. 
Master Ludwig's, especially, were like beauty, only skin deep;
they were the most knowing bones you ever heard of.  Just put
before him ever so quietly a grammar book with a long lessons
marked in it, and immediately the sly bone over his eyes would
set up such an aching!  Request him to go to the garret for your
foot stove, instantly the bones would remind him that he was "too
tired."  Ask him to go to the confectioner's, a mile away, and
PRESTO! not a bone would remember that it had ever been used
before.

Bearing all this in mind, you will not wonder when I tell you
that our five boys were among the happiest of the happy throng
pouring forth from the schoolhouse that day.

Peter was in excellent spirits.  He had heard through Hilda of
Dame Brinker's laugh and of Hans's joyous words, and he needed no
further proof that Raff Brinker was a cured man.  In fact, the
news had gone forth in every direction, for miles around. 
Persons who had never before cared for the Brinkers, or even
mentioned them, except with a contemptuous sneer or a shrug of
pretended pity, now became singularly familiar with every point
of their history.  There was no end to the number of ridiculous
stories that were flying about.

Hilda, in the excitement of the moment, had stopped to exchange a
word with the doctor's coachman as he stood by the horses,
pommelling his chest and clapping his hands.  Her kind heart was
overflowing.  She could not help pausing to tell the cold,
tired-looking man that she thought the doctor would be out soon;
she even hinted to him that she suspected--only suspected--that a
wonderful cure had been performed, an idiot brought to his
senses.  Nay, she was SURE of it, for she had heard his widow
laugh--no, not his widow, of course, but his wife--for the man
was as much alive as anybody, and, for all she knew, sitting up
and talking like a lawyer.

All this was very indiscreet.  Hilda, in an impenitent sort of
way, felt it to be so.

But it is always so delightful to impart pleasant or surprising
news!

She went tripping along by the canal, quite resolved to repeat
the sin, ad infinitum, and tell nearly every girl and boy in the
school.

Meantime Janzoon Kolp came skating by.  Of course, in two
seconds, he was striking slippery attitudes and shouting saucy
things to the coachman, who stared at him in indolent disdain.

This, to Janzoon, was equivalent to an invitation to draw nearer. 
The coachman was now upon his box, gathering up the reins and
grumbling at his horses.

Janzoon accosted him.

"I say.  What's going on at the idiot's cottage?  Is your boss in
there?"

Coachman nodded mysteriously.

"Whew!" whistled Janzoon, drawing closer.  "Old Brinker dead?"

The driver grew big with importance and silent in proportion.

"See here, old pincushion, I'd run home yonder and get you a
chunk of gingerbread if I thought you could open your mouth."

Old pincushion was human--long hours of waiting had made him
ravenously hungry.  At Janzoon's hint, his countenance showed
signs of a collapse.

"That's right, old fellow," pursued his tempter.  "Hurry up! 
What news?--old Brinker dead?"

"No, CURED!  Got his wits," said the coachman, shooting forth
his words, one at a time, like so many bullets.

Like bullets (figuratively speaking) they hit Janzoon Kolp.  He
jumped as if he had been shot.

"Goede Gunst!  You don't say so!"

The man pressed his lips together and looked significantly toward
Master Kolp's shabby residence.

Just then Janzoon saw a group of boys in the distance.  Hailing
them in a rowdy style, common to boys of his stamp all over the
world, weather in Africa, Japan, Amsterdam, or Paris, he
scampered toward them, forgetting coachman, gingerbread,
everything but the wonderful news.

Therefore, by sundown it was well known throughout the
neighboring country that Dr. Boekman, chancing to stop at the
cottage, had given the idiot Brinker a tremendous dose of
medicine, as brown as gingerbread.  It had taken six men to hold
him while it was poured down.  The idiot had immediately sprung
to his feet, in full possession of all his faculties, knocked
over the doctor or thrashed him (there was admitted to be a
slight uncertainty as to which of these penalties was inflicted),
then sat down and addressed him for all the world like a lawyer. 
After that he had turned and spoken beautifully to his wife and
children.  Dame Brinker had laughed herself into violent
hysterics.  Hans had said, "Here I am, Father, your own dear
son!"  And Gretel had said, "Here I am, Father, your own dear
Gretel!"  And the doctor had afterward been seen leaning back in
his carriage looking just as white as a corpse.




A New Alarm



When Dr. Boekman called the next day at the Brinker cottage, he
could not help noticing the cheerful, comfortable aspect of the
place.  An atmosphere of happiness breathed upon him as he opened
the door.  Dame Brinker sat complacently knitting beside the bed,
her husband was enjoying a tranquil slumber, and Gretel was
noiselessly kneading rye bread on the table in the corner.

The doctor did not remain long.  He asked a few simple questions,
appeared satisfied with the answers, and after feeling his
patient's pulse, said, "Ah, very weak yet, jufvrouw.  Very weak,
indeed.  He must have nourishment.  You may begin to feed the
patient.  Ahem!  Not too much, but what you do give him let it be
strong and of the best."

"Black bread, we have, mynheer, and porridge," replied Dame
Brinker cheerily.  "They have always agreed with him well."

"Tut, tut!" said the doctor, frowning.  "Nothing of the kind.  He
must have the juice of fresh meat, white bread, dried and
toasted, good Malaga wine, and--ahem!  The man looks cold.  Give
him more covering, something light and warm.  Where is the boy?"

"Hans, mynheer, has gone into Broek to look for work.  He will
be back soon.  Will the meester please be seated?

Whether the hard polished stool offered by Dame Brinker did not
look particularly tempting, or whether the dame herself
frightened him, partly because she was a woman, and partly
because an anxious, distressed look had suddenly appeared in her
face, I cannot say.  Certain it is that our eccentric doctor
looked hurriedly about him, muttered something about "an
extraordinary case," bowed, and disappeared before Dame Brinker
had time to say another word.

Strange that the visit of their good benefactor should have left
a cloud, yet so it was.  Gretel frowned, an anxious, childish
frown, and kneaded the bread dough violently without looking up. 
Dame Brinker hurried to her husband's bedside, leaned over him,
and fell into silent but passionate weeping.

In a moment Hans entered.

"Why, Mother," he whispered in alarm, "what ails thee?  Is the
father worse?"

She turned her quivering face toward him, making no attempt to
conceal her distress.

"Yes.  He is starving--perishing.  A meester said it."

Hans turned pale.

"What does this mean, Mother?  We must feed him at once.  Here,
Gretel, give me the porridge."

"Nay!" cried his mother, distractedly, yet without raising her
voice.  "It may kill him.  Our poor fare is too heavy for him. 
Oh, Hans, he will die--the father will DIE, if we use him this
way.  He must have meat and sweet wine and a dekbed.  Oh, what
shall I do, what shall I do?" she sobbed, wringing her hands. 
"There is not a stiver in the house."

Gretel pouted.  It was the only way she could express sympathy
just then.  Her tears fell one by one into the dough.

"Did the meester say he MUST have these things, Mother?" asked
Hans.

"Yes, he did."

"Well, Mother, don't cry, HE SHALL HAVE THEM.  I shall bring
meat and wine before night.  Take the cover from my bed.  I can
sleep in the straw."

"Yes, Hans, but it is heavy, scant as it is.  The meester said
he must have something light and warm.  He will perish.  Our peat
is giving out, Hans.  The father has wasted it sorely, throwing
it on when I was not looking, dear man."

"Never mind, Mother," whispered Hans cheerfully.  "We can cut
down the willow tree and burn it, if need be, but I'll bring home
something tonight.  There MUST be work in Amsterdam, though
there's none in Broek.  Never fear, Mother, the worst trouble of
all is past.  We can brave anything now that the father is
himself again."

"Aye!" sobbed Dame Brinker, hastily drying her eyes.  "That is
true indeed."

"Of course it is.  Look at him, Mother, how softly he sleeps.  Do
you think God would let him starve, just after giving him back to
us?  Why, Mother, I'm as SURE of getting all the father needs as
if my pocket were bursting with gold.  There, now, don't fret." 
And, hurriedly kissing her, Hans caught up his skates and
slipped from the cottage.

Poor Hans!  Disappointed in his morning's errand, half sickened
with this new trouble, he wore a brave look and tried to whistle
as he tramped resolutely off with the firm intention of mending
matters.

Want had never before pressed so sorely upon the Brinker family. 
Their stock of peat was nearly exhausted, and all the flour in
the cottage was in Gretel's dough.  They had scarcely cared to
eat during the past few days, scarcely realized their condition. 
Dame Brinker had felt so sure that she and the children could
earn money before the worst came that she had given herself up to
the joy of her husband's recovery.  She had not even told Hans
that the few pieces of silver in the old mitten were quite gone.

Hans reproached himself, now, that he had not hailed the doctor
when he saw him enter his coach and drive rapidly away in the
direction of Amsterdam.

Perhaps there is some mistake, he thought.  The meester surely
would have known that meat and sweet wine were not at our
command; and yet the father looks very weak--he certainly does. 
I MUST get work.  If Mynheer van Holp were back from Rotterdam, I
could get plenty to do.  But Master Peter told me to let him know
if he could do aught to serve us.  I shall go to him at once. 
Oh, if it were but summer!

All this time Hans was hastening toward the canal.  Soon his
skates were on, and he was skimming rapidly toward the residence
of Mynheer van Holp.

"The father must have meat and wine at once," he muttered, "but
how can I earn the money in time to buy them today?  There is no
other way but to go, as I PROMISED, to Master Peter.  What would
a gift of meat and wine be to him?  When the father is once fed,
I can rush down to Amsterdam and earn the morrow's supply."

Then came other thoughts--thoughts that made his heart thump
heavily and his cheeks burn with a new shame.  It is BEGGING, to
say the least.  Not one of the Brinkers has ever been a beggar. 
Shall I be the first?  Shall my poor father just coming back into
life learn that his family has asked for charity--he, always so
wise and thrifty?  "No," cried Hans aloud, "better a thousand
times to part with the watch."

I can at least borrow money on it, in Amsterdam! he thought,
turning around.  That will be no disgrace.  I can find work at
once and get it back again.  Nay, perhaps I can even SPEAK TO
THE FATHER ABOUT IT!

This last thought made the lad dance for joy.  Why not, indeed,
speak to the father?  He was a rational being now.  He may wake,
thought Hans, quite bright and rested--may tell us the watch is
of no consequence, to sell it of course!  And Hans almost flew
over the ice.

A few moments more and the skates were again swinging from his
arm.  He was running toward the cottage.

His mother met him at the door.

"Oh, Hans!" she cried, her face radiant with joy, "the young lady
has been here with her maid.  She brought everything--meat,
jelly, wine, and bread--a whole basketful!  Then the meester
sent a man from town with more wine and a fine bed and blankets
for the father.  Oh! he will get well now.  God bless them!"

"God bless them!" echoed Hans, and for the first time that day
his eyes filled with tears.




The Father's Return



That evening Raff Brinker felt so much better that he insisted
upon sitting up for a while on the rough high-backed chair by the
fire.  For a few moments there was quite a commotion in the
little cottage.  Hans was all-important on the occasion, for his
father was a heavy man and needed something firm to lean upon. 
The dame, though none of your fragile ladies, was in such a state
of alarm and excitement at the bold step they were taking in
lifting him without the meester's orders that she came near
pulling her husband over, even while she believed herself to be
his main prop and support.

"Steady, vrouw, steady," panted Raff.  "Have I grown old and
feeble, or is it the fever makes me thus helpless?"

"Hear the man!"--Dame Brinker laughed--"talking like any other
Christian!  Why, you're only weak from the fever, Raff.  Here's
the chair, all fixed snug and warm.  Now, sit thee
down--hi-di-didy--there we are!"

With these words Dame Brinker let her half of the burden settle
slowly into the chair.  Hans prudently did the same.

Meanwhile Gretel flew about generally, bringing every possible
thing to her mother to tuck behind the father's back and spread
over his knees.  Then she twitched the carved bench under his
feet, and Hans kicked the fire to make it brighter.

The father was sitting up at last.  What wonder that he looked
about him like one bewildered.  "Little Hans" had just been
almost carrying him.  "The baby" was over four feet long and was
demurely brushing up the hearth with a bundle of willow wisps. 
Meitje, the vrouw, winsome and fair as ever, had gained at least
fifty pounds in what seemed to him a few hours.  She also had
some new lines in her face that puzzled him.  The only familiar
things in the room were the pine table that he had made before he
was married, the Bible upon the shelf, and the cupboard in the
corner.

Ah!  Raff Brinker, it was only natural that your eyes should fill
with hot tears even while looking at the joyful faces of your
loved ones.  Ten years dropped from a man's life are no small
loss; ten years of manhood, of household happiness and care; ten
years of honest labor, of conscious enjoyment of sunshine and
outdoor beauty, ten years of grateful life--one day looking
forward to all this; the next, waking to find them passed and a
blank.  What wonder the scalding tears dropped one by one upon
your cheek!

Tender little Gretel!  The prayer of her life was answered
through those tears.  She LOVED her father silently at that
moment.  Hans and his mother glanced silently at each other when
they saw her spring toward him and throw her arms about his neck.

"Father, DEAR Father," she whispered, pressing her cheek close to
his, "don't cry.  We are all here."

"God bless thee," sobbed Raff, kissing her again and again.  "I
had forgotten that!"

Soon he looked up again and spoke in a cheerful voice.  "I should
know her, vrouw," he said, holding the sweet young face between
his hands and gazing at it as though he were watching it grow. 
"I should know her.  The same blue eyes and the lips, and ah! me,
the little song she could sing almost before she could stand. 
But that was long ago," he added, with a sigh, still looking at
her dreamily.  "Long ago; it's all gone now."

"Not so, indeed," cried Dame Brinker eagerly.  "Do you think I
would let her forget it?  Gretel, child, sing the old song thou
hast known so long!"

Raff Brinker's hand fell wearily and his eyes closed, but it was
something to see the smile playing about his mouth as Gretel's
voice floated about him like incense.

It was a simple air; she had never known the words.

With loving instinct she softened every note, until Raff almost
fancied that his two-year-old baby was once more beside him.


As soon as the song was finished, Hans mounted a wooden stool and
began to rummage in the cupboard.

"Have a care, Hans," said Dame Brinker, who through all her
poverty was ever a tidy housewife.  "Have a care, the wine is
there at your right and the white bread beyond it."

"Never fear, Mother," answered Hans, reaching far back on an
upper shelf.  "I shall do no mischief."

Jumping down, he walked toward his father and placed an oblong
block of pine wood in his hands.  One of its ends was rounded
off, and some deep cuts had been made on the top.

"Do you know what that is, Father?" asked Hans.

Raff Brinker's face brightened.  "Indeed I do, boy!  It is the
boat I was making you yest--alack, not yesterday, but years ago."

"I have kept it ever since, Father.  It can be finished when your
hand grows strong again."

"Yes, but not for you, my lad.  I must wait for the
grandchildren.  Why, you are nearly a man.  Have you helped your
mother through all these years?"

"Aye and bravely," put in Dame Brinker.

"Let me see," muttered the father, looking in a puzzled way at
them all, "how long is it since the night when the waters were
coming in?  'Tis the last I remember."

"We have told thee true, Raff.  It was ten years last Pinxter
week."

"Ten years--and I fell then, you say?  Has the fever been on me
ever since?"

Dame Brinker scarcely knew how to reply.  Should she tell him
all?  Tell him that he had been an idiot, almost a lunatic?  The
doctor had charged her on no account to worry or excite his
patient.

Hans and Gretel looked astonished.

"Like enough, Raff," she said, nodding her head and raising her
eyebrows.  "When a heavy man like thee falls on his head, it's
hard to say what will come--but thou'rt well NOW, Raff.  Thank
the good Lord!"

The newly awakened man bowed his head.

"Aye, well enough, mine vrouw," he said after a moment's
silence, "but my brain turns somehow like a spinning wheel.  It
will not be right till I get on the dikes again.  When shall I be
at work, think you?"

"Hear the man!" cried Dame Brinker, delighted, yet frightened,
too, for that matter.  "We must get him on the bed, Hans.  Work
indeed!"

They tried to raise him from the chair, but he was not ready yet.

"Be off with ye!" he said with something like his old smile
(Gretel had never seen it before).  "Does a man want to be lifted
about like a log?  I tell you before three suns I shall be on the
dikes again.  Ah!  There'll be some stout fellows to greet me. 
Jan Kamphuisen and young Hoogsvliet.  They have been good friends
to thee, Hans, I'll warrant."

Hans looked at his mother.  Young Hoogsvliet had been dead five
years.  Jan Kamphuisen was in the jail at Amsterdam.

"Aye, they'd have done their share no doubt," said Dame Brinker,
parrying the inquiry, "had we asked them.  But what with working
and studying, Hans has been busy enough without seeking
comrades."

"Working and studying," echoed Raff, in a musing tone.  "Can the
youngsters read and cipher, Meitje?"

"You should hear them!" she answered proudly.  "They can run
through a book while I mop the floor.  Hans there is as happy
over a page of big words as a rabbit in a cabbage patch; as for
ciphering--"

"Here, lad, help a bit," interrupted Raff Brinker.  "I must get
me on the bed again."




The Thousand Guilders



None seeing the humble supper eaten in the Brinker cottage that
night would have dreamed of the dainty repast hidden away nearby. 
Hans and Gretel looked rather wistfully toward the cupboard as
they drank their cupful of water and ate their scanty share of
black bread; but even in thought they did not rob their father.

"He relished his supper well," said Dame Brinker, nodding
sidewise toward the bed, "and fell asleep the next moment.  Ah,
the dear man will be feeble for many a day.  He wanted sore to
sit up again, but while I made show of humoring him and getting
ready, he dropped off.  Remember that, my girl, when you have a
man of your own (and many a day may it be before that comes to
pass), remember that you can never rule by differing; 'humble
wife is husband's boss.'  Tut! tut!  Never swallow such a
mouthful as that again, child.  Why, I could make a meal off two
such pieces.  What's in thee, Hans?  One would think there were
cobwebs on the walls."

"Oh, no, Mother, I was only thinking--"

"Thinking about what?  Ah, no use asking," she added in a changed
tone.  "I was thinking of the same a while ago.  Well, it's no
blame if we DID look to hear something by this time about the
thousand guilders but not a word--no--it's plain enough he knows
naught about them."

Hans looked up anxiously, dreading lest his mother should grow
agitated, as usual, when speaking of the lost money, but she was
silently nibbling her bread and looking with a doleful stare
toward the window.

"Thousand guilders," echoed a faint voice from the bed.  "Ah, I
am sure they have been of good use to you, vrouw, through the
long years when your man was idle."

The poor woman started up.  These words quite destroyed the hope
that of late had been glowing within her.

"Are you awake, Raff?" she faltered.

"Yes, Meitje, and I feel much better.  Our money was well saved,
vrouw, I was saying.  Did it last through all those ten years?"

"I--I--have not got it, Raff, I--"  She was going to tell him the
whole truth when Hans lifted his finger warningly and whispered,
"Remember what the meester told us.  The father must not be
worried."

"Speak to him, child," she answered, trembling.

Hans hurried to the bedside.

"I am glad you are feeling better," he said, leaning over his
father.  "Another day will see you quite strong again."

"Aye, like enough.  How long did the money last, Hans?  I could
not hear your mother.  What did she say?"

"I said, Raff," stammered Dame Brinker in great distress, "that
it was all gone."

"Well, well, wife, do not fret at that; one thousand guilders is
not so very much for ten years and with children to bring up. .
.but it has helped to make you all comfortable.  Have you had
much sickness to bear?"

"No, no," sobbed Dame Brinker, lifting her apron to her eyes.

"Tut, tut, woman, why do you cry?" said Raff kindly.  "We will
soon fill another pouch when I am on my feet again.  Lucky I told
you all about it before I fell."

"Told me what, man?"

"Why, that I buried the money.  In my dream just now, it seemed
that I had never said aught about it."

Dame Brinker started forward.  Hans caught her arm.

"Hist!  Mother," he whispered, hastily leading her away, "we must
be very careful."  Then, while she stood with clasped hands
waiting in breathless anxiety, he once more approached the cot. 
Trembling with eagerness he said, "That was a troublesome dream. 
Do you remember WHEN you buried the money, Father?"

"Yes, my boy.  It was just before daylight on the same day I was
hurt.  Jan Kamphuisen said something, the sundown before, that
made me distrust his honesty.  He was the only one living besides
Mother who knew that we had saved a thousand guilders, so I rose
up that night and buried the money--blockhead that I was ever to
suspect an old friend!"

"I'll be bound, Father," pursued Hans in a laughing voice,
motioning to his mother and Gretel to remain quiet, "that you've
forgotten where you buried it."

"Ha! ha!  Not I, indeed.  But good night, my son, I can sleep
again."

Hans would have walked away, but his mother's gestures were not
to be disobeyed.  So he said gently, "Good night, Father.  Where
did you say you buried the money?  I was only a little one then."

"Close by the willow sapling behind the cottage," said Raff
Brinker drowsily.

"Ah, yes.  North side of the tree, wasn't it, Father?"

"No, the south side.  Ah, you know the spot well enough, you
rogue.  Like enough you were there when your mother lifted it. 
Now, son, easy.  Shift this pillow so.  Good night."

"Good night, Father!" said Hans, ready to dance for joy.

The moon rose very late that night, shining in, full and clear,
at the little window, but its beams did not disturb Raff Brinker. 
He slept soundly; so did Gretel.  As for Hans and his mother,
they had something else to do.

After making a few hurried preparations, they stole forth with
bright, expectant faces, bearing a broken spade and a rusty
implement that had done many a day's service when Raff was a hale
worker on the dikes.

It was so light out of doors that they could see the willow tree
distinctly.  The frozen ground was hard as stone, but Hans and
his mother were resolute.  Their only dread was that they might
disturb the sleepers in the cottage.

"This ysbreeker is just the thing, Mother," said Hans, striking
many a vigorous blow, "but the ground has set so firm it'll be a
fair match for it."

"Never fear, Hans," she answered, watching him eagerly.  "Here,
let me try awhile."

They soon succeeded in making an impression.  One opening and the
rest was not so difficult.

Still they worked on, taking turns and whispering cheerily to one
another.  Now and then Dame Brinker stepped noiselessly over the
threshold and listened, to be certain that her husband slept.

"What grand news it will be for him," she said, laughing, "when
he is strong enough to bear it.  How I should like to put the
pouch and the stocking, just as we find them, all full of money,
near him this blessed night, for the dear man to see when he
wakens."

"We must get them first, Mother," panted Hans, still tugging away
at his work.

"There's no doubt of that.  They can't slip away from us now,"
she answered, shivering with cold and excitement as she crouched
beside the opening.  "Like enough we'll find them stowed in the
old earthen pot I lost long ago."

By this time Hans, too, began to tremble, but not with cold.  He
had penetrated a foot deep for quite a space on the south side of
the tree.  At any moment they might come upon the treasure. 
Meantime the stars winked and blinked at each other as if to say,
"Queer country, this Holland!  How much we do see, to be sure!"

"Strange that the dear father should have put it down so woeful
deep," said Dame Brinker in rather a provoked tone.  "Ah, the
ground was soft enough then, I warrant.  How wise of him to
mistrust Jan Kamphuisen, and Jan in full credit at the time. 
Little I thought that handsome fellow with his gay ways would
ever go to jail!  Now, Hans, let me take a turn.  It's lighter
work, d'ye see, the deeper we go?  I'd be loath to kill the tree,
Hans.  Will we harm it, do you think?"

"I cannot say," he answered gravely.

Hour after hour, mother and son worked on.  The hole grew larger
and deeper.  Clouds began to gather in the sky, throwing elfish
shadows as they passed.  Not until moon and stars faded away and
streaks of daylight began to appear did Meitje Brinker and Hans
look hopelessly into each other's faces.

They had searched the ground thoroughly, desperately, all round
the tree; south, north, east, west.  THE HIDDEN MONEY WAS NOT
THERE!




Glimpses



Annie Bouman had a healthy distaste for Janzoon Kolp.  Janzoon
Kolp, in his own rough way, adored Annie.  Annie declared that
she could not "to save her life" say one civil word to that
odious boy.  Janzoon believed her to be the sweetest, sauciest
creature in the world.  Annie laughed among her playmates at the
comical flapping of Janzoon's tattered and dingy jacket; he
sighed in solitude over the floating grace of her jaunty blue
petticoat.  She thanked her stars that her brothers were not like
the Kolps, and he growled at his sister because she was not like
the Boumans.  His presence made her harsh and unfeeling, and the
very sight of her made him gentle as a lamb.  Of course they were
thrown together very often.  It is thus that in some mysterious
way we are convinced of error and cured of prejudice.  In this
case, however, the scheme failed.  Annie detested Janzoon more
and more at each encounter; and Janzoon liked her better and
better every day.

He killed a stork, the wicked old wretch! she would say to
herself.

She knows I am strong and fearless, thought Janzoon.

How red and freckled and ugly he is! was Annie's secret comment
when she looked at him.

How she stares and stares! thought Janzoon.  Well, I am a fine,
weather-beaten fellow, anyway.

"Janzoon Kolp, you impudent boy, go right away from me!" Annie
often said.  "I don't want any of your company."

Ha!  Ha! laughed Janzoon to himself.  Girls never say what they
mean.  I'll skate with her every chance I can get.

And so it came to pass that the pretty maid would not look up
that morning when, skating homeward from Amsterdam, she became
convinced that a great burly boy was coming down the canal toward
her.

Humph! if I look at him, thought Annie, I'll--

"Good morrow, Annie Bouman," said a pleasant voice.

How a smile brightens a girl's face!

"Good morrow, Master Hans, I am right glad to meet you."

How a smile brightens a boy's face!

"Good morrow, again, Annie.  There has been a great change at our
house since you left."

"How so?" she exclaimed, opening her eyes very wide.

Hans, who had been in a great hurry and rather moody, grew
talkative and quite at leisure in Annie's sunshine.

Turning about, and skating slowly with her toward Broek, he told
the good news of his father.  Annie was so true a friend that he
told her even of their present distress, of how money was needed
and how everything depended upon his obtaining work, and he could
find nothing to do in the neighborhood.

All this was not said as a complaint but just because she was
looking at him and really wished to know.  He could not speak of
last night's bitter disappointment, for that secret was not
wholly his own.

"Good-bye, Annie!" he said at last.  "The morning is going fast,
and I must haste to Amsterdam and sell these skates.  Mother must
have money at once.  Before nightfall I shall certainly find a
job somewhere."

"Sell your new skates, Hans?" cried Annie.  "You, the best skater
around Broek!  Why, the race is coming off in five days!"

"I know it," he answered resolutely.  "Good-bye!  I shall skate
home again on the old wooden ones."

Such a bright glance!  So different from Janzoon's ugly grin--and
Hans was off like an arrow.

"Hans, come back!" she called.

Her voice changed the arrow into a top.  Spinning around, he
darted, in one long, leaning sweep, toward her.

"Then you really are going to sell your new skates if you can
find a customer?"

"Well, Hans, if you ARE going to sell your skates," said Annie,
quite confused, "I mean if you--well, I know somebody who would
like to buy them, that's all."

"Not Janzoon Kolp?" asked Hans, flushing.

"Oh, no," she said, pouting, "he is not one of my friends."

"But you KNOW him," persisted Hans.

Annie laughed, "Yes, I know him, and it's all the worse for him
that I do.  Now, please, Hans, don't ever talk any more to me
about Janzoon.  I hate him!"

"Hate him!  YOU hate anybody, Annie?"

She shook her head saucily.  "Yes, and I'll hate you, too, if you
persist in calling him one of my friends.  You boys may like him
because he caught the greased goose at the kermis last summer
and climbed the pole with his great, ugly body tied up in a sack,
but I don't care for such things.  I've disliked him ever since I
saw him try to push his little sister out of the merry-go-round
at Amsterdam, and it's no secret up OUR way who killed the stork
on your mother's roof.  But we mustn't talk about such a bad,
wicked fellow.  Really, Hans, I know somebody who would be glad
to buy your skates.  You won't get half a price for them in
Amsterdam.  Please give them to me.  I'll take you the money this
very afternoon."

If Annie was charming even when she said HATE, there was no
withstanding her when she said PLEASE; at least Hans found it to
be so.

"Annie," he said, taking off the skates and rubbing them
carefully with a snarl of twine before handing them to her, "I am
sorry to be so particular, but if your friend should not want
them, will you bring them back to me today?  I must buy peat and
meal for the mother early tomorrow morning."

"My friend WILL want them," Annie laughed, nodding gaily, and
skated off at the top of her speed.

As Hans drew forth the wooden "runners" from his capricious
pockets and fastened them on as best he could, he did not hear
Annie murmur, "I wish I had not been so rude.  Poor, brave Hans. 
What a noble boy he is!"  And as Annie skated homeward, filled
with pleasant thoughts, she did not hear Hans say, "I grumbled
like a bear.  But bless her!  Some girls are like angels!"

Perhaps it was all for the best.  One cannot be expected to know
everything that is going on around the world.




Looking For Work



Luxuries unfit us for returning to hardships easily endured
before.  The wooden runners squeaked more than ever.  It was as
much as Hans could do to get on with the clumsy old things;
still, he did not regret that he had parted with his beautiful
skates, but resolutely pushed back the boyish trouble that he had
not been able to keep them just a little longer, at least until
after the race.

Mother surely will not be angry with me, he thought, for selling
them without her leave.  She has had care enough already.  It
will be full time to speak of it when I take home the money.

Hans went up and down the streets of Amsterdam that day, looking
for work.  He succeeded in earning a few stivers by assisting a
man who was driving a train of loaded mules into the city, but he
could not secure steady employment anywhere.  He would have been
glad to obtain a situation as porter or errand boy, but though he
passed on his way many a loitering shuffling urchin, laden with
bundles, there was no place for him.  Some shopkeepers had just
supplied themselves; others needed a trimmer, more lightly built
fellow (they meant better dressed but did not choose to say so);
others told him to call again in a month or two, when the canals
would probably be broken up; and many shook their heads at him
without saying a word.

At the factories he met with no better luck.  It seemed to him
that in those great buildings, turning out respectively such
tremendous quantities of woolen, cotton, and linen stuffs, such
world-renowned dyes and paints, such precious diamonds cut from
the rough, such supplies of meal, of bricks, of glass and
china--that in at least one of these, a strong-armed boy, able
and eager to work, could find something to do.  But no--nearly
the same answer met him everywhere.  No need of more hands just
now.  If he had called before Saint Nicholas's Day they might
have given him a job as they were hurried then; but at present
they had more boys than they needed.  Hans wished they could see,
just for a moment, his mother and Gretel.  He did not know how
the anxiety of both looked out from his eyes, and how, more than
once, the gruffest denials were uttered with an uncomfortable
consciousness that the lad ought not be turned away.  Certain
fathers, when they went home that night, spoke more kindly than
usual to their youngsters, from memory of a frank, young face
saddened at their words, and before morning one man actually
resolved that he would instruct his head man Blankert to set the
boy from Broek at something if he should come in again.

But Hans knew nothing of all this.  Toward sundown he started on
his return to Broek, uncertain whether the strange, choking
sensation in his throat arose from discouragement or resolution. 
There was certainly one more chance.  Mynheer van Holp might have
returned by this time.  Master Peter, it was reported, had gone
to Haarlem the night before to attend to something connected with
the great skating race.  Still, Hans would go and try.

Fortunately Peter had returned early that morning.  He was at
home when Hans reached there and was just about starting for the
Brinker cottage.

"Ah, Hans!" he cried as the weary boy approached the door.  "You
are the very one I wished to see.  "You are the very one I wished
to see.  Come in and warm yourself."

After tugging at his well-worn hat, which always WOULD stick to
his head when he was embarrassed, Hans knelt down, not by way of
making a new style of oriental salute, nor to worship the
goddess of cleanliness who presided there, but because his heavy
shoes would have filled the soul of a Broek housewife with
horror.  When their owner stepped softly into the house, they
were left outside to act as sentinels until his return.


Hans left the Van Holp mansion with a lightened heart.  Peter had
brought word from Haarlem that young Brinker was to commence
working upon the summer-house doors immediately.  There was a
comfortable workshop on the place and it was to be at his service
until the carving was done.

Peter did not tell him that he had skated all the way to Haarlem
for the purpose of arranging this plan with Mynheer van Holp.  It
was enough for him to see the glad, eager look rise on young
Brinker's face.

"I THINK I can do it," said Hans, "though I have never learned
the trade."

"I am SURE you can," responded Peter heartily.  "You will find
every tool you require in the workshop.  It is nearly hidden
yonder by that wall of twigs.  In summer, when the hedge is
green, one cannot see the shop from here at all.  How is your
father today?"

"Better, mynheer.  He improves every hour."

"It is the most astonishing thing I ever heard of.  That gruff
old doctor is a great fellow after all."

"Ah, mynheer," said Hans warmly, "he is more than great.  He is
good.  But for the meester's kind heart and great skill my poor
father would yet be in the dark.  I think, mynheer," he added
with kindling eyes, "surgery is the very noblest science in the
world!"

Peter shrugged his shoulders.  "Very noble it may be, but not
quite to my taste.  This Dr. Boekman certainly has skill.  As for
his heart--defend me from such hearts as his!"

"Why do you say so, mynheer?" asked Hans.

Just then a lady slowly entered from an adjoining apartment.  It
was Mevrouw van Holp arrayed in the grandest of caps and the
longest of satin aprons ruffled with lace.  She nodded placidly
as Hans stepped back from the fire, bowing as well as he knew
how.

Peter at once drew a high-backed oaken chair toward the fire, and
the lady seated herself.  There was a block of cork on each side
of the chimney place.  One of these he placed under his mother's
feet.

Hans turned to go.

"Wait a moment, if you please, young man," said the lady.  "I
accidentally overheard you and my son speaking, I think, of my
friend Dr. Boekman.  You are right, young man.  Dr. Boekman has a
very kind heart.  You perceive, Peter, that we may be quite
mistaken in judging a person solely by his manners, though a
courteous deportment is by no means to be despised."

"I intended no disrespect, mother," said Peter, "but surely one
has no right to go growling and snarling through the world as
they say he does."

"They say.  Ah, Peter, 'they' means everybody or nobody.  Surgeon
Boekman has had a great sorrow.  Many years ago he lost his only
child under very painful circumstances.  A fine lad, except that
he was a thought too hasty and high-spirited.  Before then Gerard
Boekman was one of the most agreeable gentlemen I ever knew."

So saying, Mevrouw van Holp, looking kindly upon the two boys,
rose, and left the room with the same dignity with which she had
entered.

Peter, only half convinced, muttered something about "the sin of
allowing sorrow to turn all one's honey into gall" as he
conducted his visitor to the narrow side door.  Before they
parted, he advised Hans to keep himself in good skating order,
"for," he added, "now that your father is all right, you will be
in fine spirits for the race.  That will be the prettiest skating
show ever seen in this part of the world.  Everybody is talking
of it; you are to try for the prize, remember."

"I shall not be in the race, mynheer," said Hans, looking down.

"Not in the race!  Why not, indeed!"  And immediately Peter's
thoughts swept on a full tide of suspicion toward Carl Schummel.

"Because I cannot, mynheer," answered Hans as he bent to slip
his feet into his big shoes.

Something in the boy's manner warned Peter that it would be no
kindness to press the matter further.  He bade Hans good-bye, and
stood thoughtfully watching him as he walked away.

In a minute Peter called out, "Hans Brinker!"

"Yes, mynheer."

"I'll take back all I said about Dr. Boekman."

"Yes, mynheer."

Both were laughing.  But Peter's smile changed to a look of
puzzled surprise when he saw Hans kneel down by the canal and put
on the wooden skates.

"Very queer," muttered Peter, shaking his head as he turned to go
into the house.  "Why in the world doesn't the boy wear his new
ones?"



The Fairy Godmother


/spell/
The sun had gone down quite out of sight when our hero--with a
happy heart but with something like a sneer on his countenance as
he jerked off the wooden "runners"--trudged hopefully toward the
tiny hutlike building, known of old as the "idiot's cottage."

Duller eyes than his would have discerned two slight figures
moving near the doorway.

That gray well-patched jacket and the dull blue skirt covered
with an apron of still duller blue, that faded close-fitting cap,
and those quick little feet in their great boatlike shoes, they
were Gretel's of course.  He would have known them anywhere.

That bright coquettish red jacket, with its pretty skirt,
bordered with black, that graceful cap bobbing over the gold
earrings, that dainty apron, and those snug leather shoes that
seemed to have grown with the feet--why if the Pope of Rome had
sent them to him by express, Hans could have sworn they were
Annie's.

The two girls were slowly pacing up and down in front of the
cottage.  Their arms were entwined, of course, and their heads
were nodding and shaking as emphatically as if all the affairs of
the kingdom were under discussion.

With a joyous shout Hans hastened toward them.

"Huzza, girls, I've found work!"

This brought his mother to the cottage door.

She, too, had pleasant tidings.  The father was still improving. 
He had been sitting up nearly all day and was now sleeping as
Dame Brinker declared, "Just as quiet as a lamb."

"It is my turn now, Hans," said Annie, drawing him aside after he
had told his mother the good word from Mynheer van Holp.  "Your
skates are sold, and here's the money."

"Seven guilders!" cried Hans, counting the pieces in
astonishment.  "Why, that is three times as much as I paid for
them."

"I cannot help that," said Annie.  "If the buyer knew no better,
that is not our fault."

Hans looked up quickly.

"Oh, Annie!"

"Oh, Hans!" she mimicked, pursing her lips, and trying to look
desperately wicked and unprincipled.

"Now, Annie, I know you would never mean that!  You must return
some of this money."

"But I'll not do any such thing," insisted Annie.  "They're sold,
and that's an end of it."  Then, seeing that he looked really
pained, she added in a lower tone, "Will you believe me, Hans,
when I say that there has been no mistake, that the person who
bought your skates INSISTED upon paying seven guilders for
them?"

"I will," he answered, and the light from his clear blue eyes
seemed to settle and sparkle under Annie's lashes.

Dame Brinker was delighted at the sight of so much silver, but
when she learned that Hans had parted with his treasures to
obtain it, she sighed and then exclaimed, "Bless thee, child! 
That will be a sore loss for thee!"

"Here, Mother," said the boy, plunging his hands far into his
pocket, "here is more--we shall be rich if we keep on!"

"Aye, indeed," she answered, eagerly reaching forth her hand. 
Then, lowering her voice, added, "We SHOULD be rich but for that
Jan Kamphuisen.  He was at the willow tree years ago, Hans. 
Depend upon it!"

"Indeed, it seems likely," sighed Hans.  "Well, Mother, we must
give up the money bravely.  It is certainly gone.  The father has
told us all he knows.  Let us think no more about it."

"That's easy saying, Hans.  I shall try, but it's hard and my
poor man wanting so many comforts.  Bless me!  How girls fly
about!  They were here but this instant.  Where did they run to?"

"They slipped behind the cottage," said Hans, "like enough to
hide from us.  Hist!  I'll catch them for you!  They both can
move quicker and softer than yonder rabbit, but I'll give them a
good start first."

"Why, there IS a rabbit, sure enough.  Hold, Hans, the poor
thing must have been in sore need to venture from its burrow in
this bitter weather.  I'll get a few crumbs for it within."

So saying, the good woman bustled into the cottage.  She soon
came out again, but Hans had forgotten to wait, and the rabbit,
after taking a cool survey of the premises, had scampered off to
unknown quarters.  Turning the corner of the cottage, Dame
Brinker came upon the children.  Hans and Gretel were standing
before Annie, who was seated carelessly upon a stump.

"That is as good as a picture!" cried Dame Brinker, halting in
admiration of the group.  "Many a painting have I seen at the
grand house at Heidelberg not a whit prettier.  My two are rough
chubs, Annie, but YOU look like a fairy."

"Do I?" laughed Annie, sparkling with animation.  "Well, then,
Gretel and Hans, imagine I'm your godmother just paying you a
visit.  Now I'll grant you each a wish.  What will you have,
Master Hans?"

A shade of earnestness passed over Annie's face as she looked up
at him; perhaps it was because she wished from the depths of her
heart that for once she could have a fairy's power.

Something whispered to Hans that, for a moment, she was more than
mortal.  "I wish," said he solemnly, "that I could find something
I was searching for last night!"

Gretel laughed merrily.  Dame Brinker moaned.  "Shame on you,
Hans!"  And she went wearily into the cottage.

The fairy godmother sprang up and stamped her foot three times.

"Thou shalt have thy wish," said she.  "Let them say what they
will."  Then, with playful solemnity, she put her hand in her
apron pocket and drew forth a large glass bead.  "Bury this,"
said she, giving it to Hans, "where I have stamped, and ere
moonrise thy wish shall be granted."

Gretel laughed more merrily than ever.

The godmother pretended great displeasure.

"Naughty child," said she, scowling terribly.  "In punishment for
laughing at a fairy, THY wish shall not be granted."

"Ha!" cried Gretel in high glee, "better wait till you're asked,
godmother.  I haven't made any wish!"

Annie acted her part well.  Never smiling, through all their
merry laughter, she stalked away, the embodiment of offended
dignity.

"Good night, fairy!" they cried again and again.

"Good night, mortals!" she called out at last as she sprang over
a frozen ditch and ran quickly homeward.

"Oh, isn't she just like flowers--so sweet and lovely!" cried
Gretel, looking after her in great admiration.  "And to think how
many days she stays in that dark room with her grandmother.  Why,
brother Hans!  What is the matter?  What are you going to do?"

"Wait and see!" answered Hans as he plunged into the cottage and
came out again, all in an instant, bearing the spade and
ysbreeker in his hands.  "I'm going to bury my magic bead!"


Raff Brinker still slept soundly.  His wife took a small block of
peat from her nearly exhausted store and put it upon the embers. 
Then opening the door, she called gently, "Come in, children."

"Mother!  Mother!  See here!" shouted Hans.

"Holy Saint Bavon!" exclaimed the dame, springing over the
doorstep.  "What ails the boy!"

"Come quick, Mother," he cried in great excitement, working with
all his might and driving in the ysbreeker at each word.  "Don't
you see?  THIS is the spot--right here on the south side of the
stump.  Why didn't we think of it last night?  THE STUMP is the
old willow tree--the one you cut down last spring because it
shaded the potatoes.  That little tree wasn't here when Father. .
.Huzza!"

Dame Brinker could not speak.  She dropped on her knees beside
Hans just in time to see him drag forth THE OLD STONE POT!

He thrust in his hand and took out a piece of brick, then
another, then another, then the stocking and the pouch, black and
moldy, but filled with the long-lost treasure!

Such a time!  Such laughing!  Such crying!  Such counting after
they went into the cottage!  It was a wonder that Raff did not
waken.  His dreams were pleasant, however, for he smiled in his
sleep.

Dame Brinker and her children had a fine supper, I can assure
you.  No need of saving the delicacies now.

"We'll get Father some nice fresh things tomorrow," Dame Brinker
said as she brought forth cold meat, wine, bread, and jelly, and
placed them on the clean pine table.  "Sit by, children, sit by."


That night Annie fell asleep wondering whether it was a knife
Hans had lost and thinking how funny it would be if he should
find it, after all.

Hans had scarcely closed his eyes before he found himself
trudging along a thicket; pots of gold were lying all around, and
watches and skates, and glittering beads were swinging from every
branch.

Strange to say, each tree, as he approached it, changed into a
stump, and on the stump sat the prettiest fairy imaginable, clad
in a scarlet jacket and a blue petticoat.




The Mysterious Watch



Something else than the missing guilders was brought to light on
the day of the fairy godmother's visit.  This was the story of
the watch that for ten long years had been so jealously guarded
by Raff's faithful vrouw.  Through many an hour of sore
temptation she had dreaded almost to look upon it, lest she might
be tempted to disobey her husband's request.  It had been hard to
see her children hungry and to know that the watch, if sold,
would enable the roses to bloom in their cheeks again.  "But
nay," she would exclaim, "Meitje Brinker is not one to forget her
man's last bidding, come what may."

"Take good care of this, mine vrouw," he had said as he handed
it to her--that was all.  No explanation followed, for the words
were scarcely spoken when one of his fellow workmen rushed into
the cottage, crying, "Come, man!  The waters are rising!  You're
wanted on the dikes."

Raff had started at once, and that was the last Dame Brinker saw
of him in his right mind.

On the day when Hans was in Amsterdam looking for work, and
Gretel, after performing her household labors, was wandering in
search of chips, twigs, anything that could be burned, Dame
Brinker with suppressed excitement had laid the watch in her
husband's hand.

"It wasn't in reason," as she afterward said to Hans, "to wait
any longer, when a word from the father would settle all.  No
woman living but would want to know how he came by that watch." 
Raff Brinker turned the bright polished thing over and over in
his hand, then he examined the bit of smoothly ironed black
ribbon fastened to it.  He seemed hardly to recognize it.  At
last he said, "Ah, I remember this!  Why, you've been rubbing it,
vrouw, till it shines like a new guilder."

"Aye," said Dame Brinker, nodding her head complacently.

Raff looked at it again.  "Poor boy!" he murmured, then fell into
a brown study.

This was too much for the dame.  "'Poor boy!'" she echoed,
somewhat tartly.  "What do you think I'm standing here for, Raff
Brinker, and my spinning awaiting, if not to hear more than
that?"

"I told ye all, long since," said Raff positively as he looked up
in surprise.

"Indeed, and you never did!" retorted the vrouw.

"Well, if not, since it's no affair of ours, we'll say no more
about it," said Raff, shaking his head sadly.  "Like enough while
I've been dead on the earth, all this time, the poor boy's died
and been in heaven.  He looked near enough to it, poor lad!"

"Raff Brinker!  If you're going to treat me this way, and I
nursing you and bearing with you since I was twenty-two years
old, it's a shame.  Aye, and a disgrace," cried the vrouw,
growing quite red and scant of breath.

Raff's voice was feeble yet.  "Treat you WHAT way, Meitje?"

"What way," said Dame Brinker, mimicking his voice and manner. 
"What way?  Why, just as every woman in the world is treated
after she's stood by a man through the worst, like a--"

"Meitje!"

Raff was leaning forward with outstretched arms.  His eyes were
full of tears.

In an instant Dame Brinker was at his feet, clasping his hands in
hers.

"Oh, what have I done!  Made my good man cry, and he not back
with me four days!  Look up, Raff!  Nay, Raff, my own boy, I'm
sorry I hurt thee.  It's hard not to be told about the watch
after waiting ten years to know, but I'll ask thee no more, Raff. 
Here, we'll put the thing away that's made the first trouble
between us, after God just gave thee back to me."

"I was a fool to cry, Meitje," he said, kissing her, "and it's no
more than right that ye should know the truth.  But it seemed as
if it might be telling the secrets of the dead to talk about the
matter."

"Is the man--the lad--thou wert talking of dead, think thee?"
asked the vrouw, hiding the watch in her hand but seating
herself expectantly on the end of his long foot bench.

"It's hard telling," he answered.

"Was he so sick, Raff?"

"No, not sick, I may say; but troubled, vrouw, very troubled."

"Had he done wrong, think ye?" she asked, lowering her voice.

Raff nodded.

"MURDER?" whispered the wife, not daring to look up.

"He said it was like to that, indeed."

"Oh!  Raff, you frighten me.  Tell me more, you speak so strange
and you tremble.  I must know all."

"If I tremble, mine vrouw, it must be from the fever.  There is
no guilt on my soul, thank God!"

"Take a sip of this wine, Raff.  There, now you are better.  It
was like to a crime, you were saying."

"Aye, Meitje, like to murder.  THAT he told me himself.  But
I'll never believe it.  A likely lad, fresh and honest-looking as
our own youngster but with something not so bold and straight
about him."

"Aye, I know," said the dame gently, fearing to interrupt the
story.

"He came upon me quite suddenly," continued Raff.  "I had never
seen his face before, the palest, frightenedest face that ever
was.  He caught me by the arm.  'You look like an honest man,'
says he."

"Aye, he was right in that," interrupted the dame emphatically.

Raff looked somewhat bewildered.

"Where was I, mine vrouw?"

"The lad took hold of your arm, Raff," she said, gazing at him
anxiously.

"Aye, so.  The words come awkward to me, and everything is like a
dream, ye see."

"S-stut!  What wonder, poor man."  She sighed, stroking his hand. 
"If ye had not had enough for a dozen, the wit would never have
come to ye again.  Well, the lad caught me by the arm and said ye
looked honest.  (Well he might!)  What then?  Was it noontime?

"Nay, before daylight--long before early chimes."

"It was the same day you were hurt," said the dame.  "I know it
seemed that you went to your work in the middle of the night. 
You left off where he caught your arm, Raff."

"Yes," resumed her husband, "and I can see his face this
minute--so white and wild-looking.  'Take me down this river a
way,' says he.  I was working then, you'll remember, far down on
the line, across from Amsterdam.  I told him I was no boatman. 
'It's an affair of life and death,' says he.  'Take me on a few
miles.  Yonder skiff is not locked, but it may be a poor man's
boat and I'd be loath to rob him!'  (The words might differ some,
vrouw, for it's all like a dream.)  Well, I took him down--it
might be six or eight miles--and then he said he could run the
rest of the way on shore.  I was in haste to get the boat back. 
Before he jumped out, he says, sobbing-like, 'I can trust you. 
I've done a thing--God knows I never intended it--but the man is
dead.  I must fly from Holland."

"What was it?  Did he say, Raff?  Had he been shooting at a
comrade, as they do down at the University at Gottingen?"

"I can't recall that.  Mayhap he told me, but it's all like a
dream.  I said it wasn't for me, a good Hollander, to cheat the
laws of my country by helping him off that way, but he kept
saying, 'God knows I am innocent!'  And he looked at me in the
starlight as fair, now, and clear-eyed as our little Hans
might--and I just pulled away faster."

"It must have been Jan Kamphuisen's boat," remarked Dame Brinker
dryly.  "None other would have left his oars out that careless."

"Aye, it was Jan's boat, sure enough.  The man will be coming in
to see me Sunday, likely, if he's heard, and young Hoogsvliet
too.  Where was I?"

"Where were you?  Why, not very far, forsooth--the lad hadn't yet
given ye the watch--alack, I misgive whether he came by it
honestly!"

"Why, vrouw," exclaimed Raff Brinker in an injured tone.  "He
was dressed soft and fine as the prince himself.  The watch was
his own, clear enough."

"How came he to give it up?" asked the dame, looking uneasily at
the fire, for it needed another block of peat.

"I told ye just now," he answered with a puzzled air.

"Tell me again," said Dame Brinker, wisely warding off another
digression.

"Well, just before jumping from the boat, he says, handing me the
watch, 'I'm flying from my country as I never thought I could. 
I'll trust you because you look honest.  Will you take this to my
father--not today but in a week--and tell him his unhappy boy
sent it, and tell him if ever the time comes that he wants me to
come back to him, I'll brave everything and come.  Tell him to
send a letter to--to'--there, the rest is all gone from me.  I
CAN'T remember where the letter was to go.  Poor lad, poor lad!"
resumed Raff, sorrowfully, taking the watch from his vrouw's lap
as he spoke.  "And it's never been sent to his father to this
day."

"I'll take it, Raff, never fear--the moment Gretel gets back. 
She will be in soon.  What was the father's name, did you say? 
Where were you to find him?"

"Alack!" answered Raff, speaking very slowly.  "It's all slipped
me.  I can see the lad's face and his great eyes, just as
plain--and I remember his opening the watch and snatching
something from it and kissing it--but no more.  All the rest
whirls past me; there's a sound like rushing waters comes over me
when I try to think."

"Aye.  That's plain to see, Raff, but I've had the same feeling
after a fever.  You're tired now.  I must get ye straight on the
bed again.  Where IS the child, I wonder?"

Dame Brinker opened the door, and called, "Gretel!  Gretel!"

"Stand aside, vrouw," said Raff feebly as he leaned forward and
endeavored to look out upon the bare landscape.  "I've half a
mind to stand beyond the door just once."

"Nay, nay."  She laughed.  "I'll tell the meester how ye tease
and fidget and bother to be let out in the air; and if he says
it, I'll bundle ye warm tomorrow and give ye a turn on your feet. 
But I'm freezing you with this door open.  I declare if there
isn't Gretel with her apron full, skating on the canal like wild. 
Why, man," she continued almost in a scream as she slammed the
door, "thou'rt walking to the bed without my touching thee! 
Thou'lt fall!"

The dame's thee proved her mingled fear and delight, even more
than the rush which she made toward her husband.  Soon he was
comfortably settled under the new cover, declaring, as his vrouw
tucked him in snug and warm, that it was the last daylight that
should see him abed.

"Aye!  I can hope it myself," laughed Dame Brinker, "now you have
been frisking about at that rate."  As Raff closed his eyes, the
dame hastened to revive her fire, or rather to dull it, for Dutch
peat is like a Dutchman, slow to kindle, but very good at a blaze
once started.  Then, putting her neglected spinning wheel away,
she drew forth her knitting from some invisible pocket and seated
herself by the bedside.

"If you could remember the man's name, Raff," she began
cautiously, "I might take the watch to him while you're sleeping. 
Gretel can't but be in soon."

Raff tried to think but in vain.

"Could it be Boomphoffen?" suggested the dame.  "I've heard how
they've had two sons turn out bad--Gerard and Lambert?"

"It might be," said Raff.  "Look if there's letters on the watch;
that'll guide us some."

"Bless thee, man," cried the happy dame, eagerly lifting the
watch.  "Why, thou'rt sharper than ever!  Sure enough.  Here's
letters!  L.J.B.  That's Lambert Boomphoffen, you may depend. 
What the J is for I can't say, but they used to be grand kind o'
people, high-feathered as fancy fowl.  Just the kind to give
their children all double names, which isn't Scripture, anyway."

"I don't know about that, vrouw.  Seems to me there's long mixed
names in the holy Book, hard enough to make out.  But you've got
the right guess at a jump.  It was your way always," said Raff,
closing his eyes.  "Take the watch to Boompkinks and try."

"Not Boompkinks.  I know no such name; it's Boomphoffen."

"Aye, take it there."

"Take it there, man!  Why the whole brood of them's been gone to
America these four years.  But go to sleep, Raff, you look pale
and out of strength.  It'll al come to you, what's best to do, in
the morning.

"So, Mistress Gretel!  Here you are at last!"


Before Raff awoke that evening, the fairy godmother, as we know,
had been in the cottage, the guilders were once more safely
locked in the big chest, and Dame Brinker and the children were
faring sumptuously on meat and white bread and wine.

So the mother, in the joy of her heart, told them the story of
the watch as far as she deemed it prudent to divulge it.  It was
no more than fair, she thought, that the poor things should know
after keeping the secret so safe ever since they had been old
enough to know anything.




A Discovery



The next sun brought a busy day to the Brinkers.  In the first
place the news of the thousand guilders had, of course, to be
told to the father.  Such tidings as that surely could not harm
him.  Then while Gretel was diligently obeying her mother's
injunction to "clean the place fresh as a new brewing," Hans and
the dame sallied forth to revel in the purchasing of peat and
provisions.

Hans was careless and contented; the dame was filled with
delightful anxieties caused by the unreasonable demands of ten
thousand guilders' worth of new wants that had sprung up like
mushrooms in a single night.  The happy woman talked so largely
to Hans on their way to Amsterdam and brought back such little
bundles after all that he scratched his bewildered head as he
leaned against the chimney piece, wondering whether "Bigger the
pouch, tighter the string" was in Jacob Cats, and therefore true,
or whether he had dreamed it when he lay in a fever.

"What thinking on, Big-eyes?" chirruped his mother, half reading
his thoughts as she bustled about, preparing the dinner.  "What
thinking on?  Why, Raff, would ye believe it, the child thought
to carry half Amsterdam back on his head.  Bless us!  He would
have bought us as much coffee as would have filled this fire pot. 
'No, no, my lad,' says I.  'No time for leaks when the ship is
rich laden.'  And then how he stared--aye--just as he stares this
minute.  Hoot, lad, fly around a mite.  Ye'll grow to the chimney
place with your staring and wondering.  Now, Raff, here's your
chair at the head of the table, where it should be, for there's a
man to the house now--I'd say it to the king's face.  Aye, that's
the way--lean on Hans.  There's a strong staff for you!  Growing
like a weed, too, and it seems only yesterday since he was
toddling.  Sit by, my man, sit by."

"Can you call to mind, vrouw, "said Raff, settling himself
cautiously in the big chair, "the wonderful music box that
cheered your working in the big house at Heidelberg?"

"Aye, that I can," answered the dame.  "Three turns of a brass
key and the witchy thing would send the music fairly running up
and down one's back.  I remember it well.  But, Raff"--growing
solemn in an instant--"you would never throw our guilders away
for a thing like that?"

"No, no, not I, vrouw, for the good Lord has already given me a
music box without pay."

All three cast quick, frightened glances at one another and at
Raff.  Were his wits on the wing again?

"Aye, and a music box that fifty pouchful would not buy from me,"
insisted Raff.  "And it's set going by the turn of a mop handle,
and it slips and glides around the room, everywhere in a flash,
carrying the music about till you'd swear the birds were back
again."

"Holy Saint Bavon!" screeched the dame.  "What's in the man?"

"Comfort and joy, vrouw, that's what's in him!  Ask Gretel, ask
my little music box Gretel if your man has lacked comfort and joy
this day."

"Not he, Mother," laughed Gretel.  "He's been MY music box, too. 
We sang together half the time you were gone."

"Aye, so," said the dame, greatly relieved.  "Now, Hans, you'll
never get through with a piece like that, but never mind, chick,
thou'st had a long fasting.  Here, Gretel, take another slice of
the sausage.  It'll put blood in your cheeks."

"Oh!  Oh, Mother," laughed Gretel, eagerly holding forth her
platter.  "Blood doesn't grow in girls' cheeks--you mean roses. 
Isn't it roses, Hans?"

While Hans was hastily swallowing a mammoth mouthful in order to
give a suitable reply to this poetic appeal, Dame Brinker settled
the matter with a quick, "Well, roses or blood, it's all one to
me, so the red finds its way on your sunny face.  It's enough for
mother to get pale and weary-looking without--"

"Hoot, vrouw," spoke up Raff hastily, "thou'rt fresher and
rosier this minute than both our chicks put together."

This remark, though not bearing very strong testimony to the
clearness of Raff's newly awakened intellect, nevertheless
afforded the dame immense satisfaction.  The meal accordingly
went on in the most delightful manner.

After dinner the affair of the watch was talked over and the
mysterious initials duly discussed.

Hans had just pushed back his stool, intending to start at once
for Mynheer van Holp's, and his mother had risen to put the watch
away in its old hiding place, when they heard the sound of wheels
upon the frozen ground.

Someone knocked at the door, opening it at the same time.

"Come in," stammered Dame Brinker, hastily trying to hide the
watch in her bosom.  "Oh, is it you, mynheer!  Good day!  The
father is nearly well, as you see.  It's a poor place to greet
you in, mynheer, and the dinner not cleared away."

Dr. Boekman scarcely noticed the dame's apology.  He was
evidently in haste.

"Ahem!" he exclaimed.  "Not needed here, I perceive.  The patient
is mending fast."

"Well he may, mynheer," cried the dame, "for only last night we
found a thousand guilders that's been lost to us these ten
years."

Dr. Boekman opened his eyes.

"Yes, mynheer," said Raff.  "I bid the vrouw tell you, though
it's to be held a secret among us, for I see you can keep your
lips closed as well as any man."

The doctor scowled.  He never liked personal remarks.

"Now, mynheer," continued Raff, "you can take your rightful pay. 
God knows you have earned it, if bringing such a poor tool back
to the world and his family can be called a service.  Tell the
vrouw what's to pay, mynheer.  She will hand out the sum right
willingly."

"Tut, tut!" said the doctor kindly.  "Say nothing about money.  I
can find plenty of such pay any time, but gratitude comes seldom. 
That boy's thank-you," he added, nodding sidewise toward Hans,
was pay enough for me."

"Like enough ye have a boy of your own," said Dame Brinker, quite
delighted to see the great man becoming so sociable.

Dr. Boekman's good nature vanished at once.  He gave a growl (at
least, it seemed so to Gretel), but made no actual reply.

"Do not think the vrouw meddlesome, mynheer," said Raff.  "She
has been sore touched of late about a lad whose folks have gone
away--none knows where--and I had a message for them from the
young gentleman."

"The name was Boomphoffen," said the dame eagerly.  "Do you know
aught of the family, mynheer?"

The doctor's reply was brief and gruff.

"Yes.  A troublesome set.  They went long since to America."

"It might be, Raff," persisted Dame Brinker timidly, "that the
meester knows somebody in that country, though I'm told they are
mostly savages over there.  If he could get the watch to the
Boomphoffens with the poor lad's message, it would be a most
blessed thing."

"Tut, vrouw, why pester the good meester, and dying men and
women wanting him everywhere?  How do ye know ye have the true
name?"

"I'm sure of it," she replied.  "They had a son Lambert, and
there's an L for Lambert and a B for Boomphoffen, on the back,
though, to be sure, there's an odd J, too, but the meester can
look for himself."

So saying, she drew forth the watch.

"L.J.B.!" cried Dr. Boekman, springing toward her.

Why attempt to describe the scene that followed?  I need only say
that the lad's message was delivered to his father at last,
delivered while the great surgeon was sobbing like a little
child.

"Laurens!  My Laurens!" he cried, gazing with yearning eyes at
the watch as he held it tenderly in his palm.  "Ah, if I had but
known sooner!  Laurens a homeless wanderer--great heaven!  He may
be suffering, dying at this moment!  Think, man, where is he? 
Where did my boy say that the letter must be sent?"

Raff shook his head sadly.

"Think!" implored the doctor.  Surely the memory so lately
awakened through his aid could not refuse to serve him in a
moment like this.

"It is all gone, mynheer," sighed Raff.

Hans, forgetting distinctions of rank and station, forgetting
everything but that his good friend was in trouble, threw his
arms around the doctor's neck.

"I can find your son, mynheer.  If alive, he is SOMEWHERE.  The
earth is not so very large.  I will devote every day of my life
to the search.  Mother can spare me now.  You are rich, mynheer. 
Send me where you will."

Gretel began to cry.  It was right for Hans to go, but how could
they ever live without him?"

Dr. Boekman made no reply, neither did he push Hans away.  His
eyes were fixed anxiously upon Raff Brinker.  Suddenly he lifted
the watch and, with trembling eagerness, attempted to open it. 
Its stiffened spring yielded at last; the case flew open,
disclosing a watch paper in the back bearing a group of blue
forget-me-nots.  Raff, seeing a shade of intense disappointment
pass over the doctor's face, hastened to say, "There was
something else in it, mynheer, but the young gentleman tore it
out before he handed it to me.  I saw him kiss it as he put it
away."

"It was his mother's picture," moaned the doctor.  "She died when
he was ten years old.  Thank God!  The boy had not forgotten! 
Both dead?  It is impossible!" he cried, starting up.  "My boy is
alive.  You shall hear his story.  Laurens acted as my assistant. 
By mistake he portioned out the wrong medicine for one of my
patients--a deadly poison--but it was never administered, for I
discovered the error in time.  The man died that day.  I was
detained with other bad cases until the next evening.  When I
reached home my boy was gone.  Poor Laurens!" sobbed the doctor,
breaking down completely.  "Never to hear from me through all
these years.  His message disregarded.  Oh, what he must have
suffered!"

Dame Brinker ventured to speak.  Anything was better than to see
the meester cry.

"It is a mercy to know the young gentleman was innocent.  Ah, how
he fretted!  Telling you, Raff, that his crime was like unto
murder.  It was sending the wrong physic that he meant.  Crime
indeed!  Why, our own Gretel might have done that!  Like enough
the poor young gentleman heard that the man was dead--that's why
he ran, mynheer.  He said, you know, Raff, that he never could
come back to Holland again, unless"--she hesitated--"ah, your
honor, ten years is a dreary time to be waiting to hear from--"

"Hist, vrouw!" said Raff sharply.

"Waiting to hear"--the doctor groaned--"and I, like a fool,
sitting stubbornly at home, thinking that he had abandoned me.  I
never dreamed, Brinker, that the boy had discovered the mistake. 
I believed it was youthful folly, ingratitude, love of adventure,
that sent him away.  My poor, poor Laurens!"

"But you know all, now, mynheer," whispered Hans.  "You know he
was innocent of wrong, that he loved you and his dead mother.  We
will find him.  You shall see him again, dear meester."

"God bless you!" said Dr. Boekman, seizing the boy's hand.  "It
may be as you say.  I shall try--I shall try--and, Brinker, if
ever the faintest gleam of recollection concerning him should
come to you, you will send me word at once?"

"Indeed we will!" cried all but Hans, whose silent promise would
have satisfied the doctor even had the others not spoken.

"Your boy's eyes," he said, turning to Dame Brinker, "are
strangely like my son's.  The first time I met him it seemed that
Laurens himself was looking at me."

"Aye, mynheer," replied the mother proudly.  "I have marked that
you were much drawn to the child."

For a few moments the meester seemed lost in thought, then,
arousing himself, he spoke in a new voice.  "Forgive me, Raff
Brinker, for this tumult.  Do not feel distressed on my account. 
I leave your house today a happier man than I have been for many
a long year.  Shall I take the watch?"

"Certainly, you must, mynheer.  It was your son's wish."

"Even so," responded the doctor, regarding his treasure with a
queer frown, for his face could not throw off its bad habits in
an hour, "even so.  And now I must be gone.  No medicine is
needed by my patient, only peace and cheerfulness, and both are
here in plenty.  Heaven bless you, my good friends!  I shall ever
be grateful to you."

"May Heaven bless you, too, mynheer, and may you soon find the
young gentleman," said Dame Brinker earnestly, after hurriedly
wiping her eyes upon the corner of her apron.

Raff uttered a hearty, "Amen!" and Gretel threw such a wistful,
eager glance at the doctor that he patted her head as he turned
to leave the cottage.

Hans went out also.

"When I can serve you, mynheer, I am ready."

"Very well, boy," replied Dr. Boekman with peculiar mildness. 
"Tell them, within, to say nothing of what has just happened. 
Meantime, Hans, when you are with his father, watch his mood. 
You have tact.  At any moment he may suddenly be able to tell us
more."

"Trust me for that, mynheer."

"Good day, my boy!" cried the doctor as he sprang into his
stately coach.

Aha! thought Hans as it rolled away, the meester has more life
in him than I thought.




The Race



The twentieth of December came at last, bringing with it the
perfection of winter weather.  All over the level landscape lay
the warm sunlight.  It tried its power on lake, canal, and river,
but the ice flashed defiance and showed no sign of melting.  The
very weathercocks stood still to enjoy the sight.  This gave the
windmills a holiday.  Nearly all the past week they had been
whirling briskly; now, being rather out of breath, they rocked
lazily in the clear, still air.  Catch a windmill working when
the weathercocks have nothing to do!

There was an end to grinding, crushing, and sawing for that day. 
It was a good thing for the millers near Broek.  Long before noon
they concluded to take in their sails and go to the race. 
Everybody would be there--already the north side of the frozen Y
was bordered with eager spectators.  The news of the great
skating match had traveled far and wide.  Men, women, and
children in holiday attire were flocking toward the spot.  Some
wore furs and wintry cloaks or shawls, but many, consulting their
feelings rather than the almanac, were dressed as for an October
day.

The site selected for the race was a faultless plain of ice near
Amsterdam, on that great arm of the Zuider Zee, which Dutchmen,
of course, must call the Eye.  The townspeople turned out in
large numbers.  Strangers to the city deemed it a fine chance to
see what was to be seen.  Many a peasant from the northward had
wisely chosen the twentieth as the day for the next city trading. 
It seemed that everybody, young and old, who had wheels, skates,
or feet at command had hastened to the scene.

There were the gentry in their coaches, dressed like Parisians,
fresh from the boulevards; Amsterdam children in charity
uniforms; girls from the Roman Catholic Orphan House, in sable
gowns and white headbands; boys from the Burgher Asylum, with
their black tights and short-skirted, harlequin coats. *{This is
not said in derision.  Both the boys and girls of this
institution wear garments quartered in red and black,
alternately.  By making the dress thus conspicuous, the children
are, in a measure, deterred from wrongdoing while going about the
city.  The Burgher Orphan Asylum affords a comfortable home to
several hundred boys and girls.  Holland is famous for its
charitable institutions.}  There were old-fashioned gentlemen in
cocked hats and velvet knee breeches; old-fashioned ladies, too,
in stiff quilted skirts and bodices of dazzling brocade.  These
were accompanied by servants bearing foot stoves and cloaks. 
There were the peasant folk arrayed in every possible Dutch
costume, shy young rustics in brazen buckles; simple village
maidens concealing their flaxen hair under fillets of gold; women
whose long, narrow aprons were stiff with embroidery; women with
short corkscrew curls hanging over their foreheads; women with
shaved heads and close-fitting caps; and women in striped skirts
and windmill bonnets.  Men in leather, in homespun, in velvet,
and in broadcloth; burghers in model European attire, and
burghers in short jackets, wide trousers, and steeple-crowned
hats.

There were beautiful Friesland girls in wooden shoes and coarse
petticoats, with solid gold crescents encircling their heads,
finished at each temple with a golden rosette and hung with lace
a century old.  Some wore necklaces, pendants, and earrings of
the purest gold.  Many were content with gilt or even with brass,
but it is not an uncommon thing for a Friesland woman to have all
the family treasure in her headgear.  More than one rustic lass
displayed the value of two thousand guilders upon her head that
day.

Scattered throughout the crowd were peasants from the Island or
Marken, with sabots, black stockings, and the widest of breeches;
also women from Marken with short blue petticoats, and black
jackets, gaily figured in front.  They wore red sleeves, white
aprons, and a cap like a bishop's miter over their golden hair.

The children often were as quaint and odd-looking as their
elders.  In short, one-third of the crowd seemed to have stepped
bodily from a collection of Dutch paintings.

Everywhere could be seen tall women and stumpy men, lively-faced
girls, and youths whose expression never changed from sunrise to
sunset.

There seemed to be at least one specimen from every known town in
Holland.  There were Utrecht water bearers, Gouda cheesemakers,
Delft pottery men, Schiedam distillers, Amsterdam diamond
cutters, Rotterdam merchants, dried-up herring packers, and two
sleepy-eyes shepherds from Texel.  Every man of them had his pipe
and tobacco pouch.  Some carried what might be called the
smoker's complete outfit--a pipe, tobacco, a pricker with which
to clean the tube, a silver net for protecting the bowl, and a
box of the strongest brimstone matches.

A true Dutchman, you must remember, is rarely without his pipe on
any possible occasion.  He may for a moment neglect to breathe,
but when the pipe is forgotten, he must be dying indeed.  There
were no such sad cases here.  Wreaths of smoke were rising from
every possible quarter.  The more fantastic the smoke wreath, the
more placid and solemn the smoker.

Look at those boys and girls on stilts!  That is a good idea. 
They can see over the heads of the tallest.  It is strange to see
those little bodies high in the air, carried about on mysterious
legs.  They have such a resolute look on their round faces, what
wonder that nervous old gentlemen with tender feet wince and
tremble while the long-legged little monsters stride past them.

You will read in certain books that the Dutch are a quiet
people--so they are generally.   But listen!  Did you ever hear
such a din?  All made up of human voices--no, the horses are
helping somewhat, and the fiddles are squeaking pitifully (how it
must pain fiddles to be tuned!), but the mass of the sound comes
from the great vox humana that belongs to a crowd.

That queer little dwarf going about with a heavy basket, winding
in and out among the people, helps not a little.  You can hear
his shrill cry above all the other sounds, "Pypen en tabac! 
Pypen en tabac!"

Another, his big brother, though evidently some years younger, is
selling doughnuts and bonbons.  He is calling on all pretty
children far and near to come quickly or the cakes will be gone.

You know quite a number among the spectators.  High up in yonder
pavilion, erected upon the border of the ice, are some persons
whom you have seen very lately.  In the center is Madame van
Gleck.  It is her birthday, you remember; she has the post of
honor.  There is Mynheer van Gleck, whose meerschaum has not
really grown fast to his lips--it only appears so.  There are
Grandfather and Grandmother, whom you met at the Saint Nicholas
fete.  All the children are with them.  It is so mild, they have
brought even the baby.  The poor little creature is swathed very
much after the manner of an Egyptian mummy, but it can crow with
delight and, when the band is playing, open and shut its animated
mittens in perfect time to the music.

Grandfather, with his pipe and spectacles and fur cap, makes
quite a picture as he holds baby upon his knee.  Perched high
upon their canopied platforms, the party can see all that is
going on.  No wonder the ladies look complacently at the glassy
ice; with a stove for a foot stool one might sit cozily beside
the North Pole.

There is a gentleman with them who somewhat resembles Saint
Nicholas as he appeared to the young Van Glecks on the fifth of
December.  But the saint had a flowing white beard, and this face
is as smooth as a pippin.  His saintship was larger around the
body, too, and (between ourselves) he had a pair of thimbles in
his mouth, which this gentleman certain has not.  It cannot be
Saint Nicholas after all.

Nearby, in the next pavilion, sit the Van Holps with their son
and daughter (the Van Gends) from The Hague.  Peter's sister is
not one to forget her promises.  She has brought bouquets of
exquisite hothouse flowers for the winners.

These pavilions, and there are others besides, have all been
erected since daylight.  That semicircular one, containing
Mynheer Korbes's family, is very pretty and proves that the
Hollanders are quite skilled at tentmaking, but I like the Van
Glecks' best--the center one--striped red and white and hung with
evergreens.

The one with the blue flags contains the musicians.  Those
pagodalike affairs, decked with seashells and streamers of every
possible hue, are the judges' stands, and those columns and
flagstaffs upon the ice mark the limit of the race course.  The
two white columns twined with green, connected at the top by that
long, floating strip of drapery, form the starting point.  Those
flagstaffs, half a mile off, stand at each end of the boundary
line, which is cut sufficiently deep to be distinct to the
skaters, though not deep enough to trip them when they turn to
come back to the starting point.

The air is so clear that is seems scarcely possible that the
columns and the flagstaffs are so far apart.  Of course, the
judges' stands are but little nearer together.

Half a mile on the ice, when the atmosphere is like this, is but
a short distance after all, especially when fenced with a living
chain of spectators.

The music has commenced.  How melody seems to enjoy itself in the
open air!  The fiddles have forgotten their agony, and everything
is harmonious.  Until you look at the blue tent it seems that the
music springs from the sunshine, it is so boundless, so joyous. 
Only when you see the staid-faced musicians do you realize the
truth.

Where are the racers?  All assembled together near the white
columns.  It is a beautiful sight.  Forty boys and girls in
picturesque attire darting with electric swiftness in and out
among each other, or sailing in pairs and triplets, beckoning,
chatting, whispering in the fullness of youthful glee.

A few careful ones are soberly tightening their straps; others
halting on one leg, with flushed, eager faces, suddenly cross the
suspected skate over their knee, give it an examining shake, and
dart off again.  One and all are possessed with the spirit of
motion.  They cannot stand still.  Their skates are a part of
them, and every runner seems bewitched.

Holland is the place for skaters, after all.  Where else can
nearly every boy and girl perform feats on the ice that would
attract a crowd if seen in Central Park?  Look at Ben!  He is
really astonishing the natives; no easy thing to do in the
Netherlands.  Save your strength, Ben, you will need it soon. 
Now other boys are trying!  Ben is surpassed already.  Such
jumping, such poising, such spinning, such India-rubber exploits
generally!  That boy with a red cap is the lion now; his back is
a watch spring, his body is cork--no, it is iron, or it would
snap at that!  He's a bird, a top, a rabbit, a corkscrew, a
sprite, a fleshball, all in an instant.  When you think he's
erect, he is down, and when you think he is down, he is up.  He
drops his glove on the ice and turns a somersault as he picks it
up.  Without stopping he snatches the cap from Jacob Poot's
astonished head and claps it back again "hindside before." 
Lookers-on hurrah and laugh.  Foolish boy!  It is arctic weather
under your feet, but more than temperate over head.  Big drops
already are rolling down your forehead.  Superb skater as you
are, you may lose the race.

A French traveler, standing with a notebook in his hand, sees our
English friend, Ben, buy a doughnut of the dwarf's brother and
eat it.  Thereupon he writes in his notebook that the Dutch take
enormous mouthfuls and universally are fond of potatoes boiled in
molasses.

There are some familiar faces near the white columns.  Lambert,
Ludwig, Peter, and Carl are all there, cool and in good skating
order.  Hans is not far off.  Evidently he is going to join in
the race, for his skates are on--the very pair that he sold for
seven guilders!  He had soon suspected that his fairy godmother
was the mysterious "friend" who bought them.  This settled, he
had boldly charged her with the deed, and she, knowing well that
all her little savings had been spent in the purchase, had not
had the face to deny it.  Through the fairy godmother, too, he
had been rendered amply able to buy them back again.  Therefore
Hans is to be in the race.  Carl is more indignant than ever
about it, but as three other peasant boys have entered, Hans is
not alone.

Twenty boys and twenty girls.  The latter, by this time, are
standing in front, braced for the start, for they are to have the
first "run."  Hilda, Rychie, and Katrinka are among them--two or
three bend hastily to give a last pull at their skate straps.  It
is pretty to see them stamp, to be sure that all is firm.  Hilda
is speaking pleasantly to a graceful little creature in a red
jacket and a new brown petticoat.  Why, it is Gretel!  What a
difference those pretty shoes make, and the skirt and the new
cap.  Annie Bouman is there, too.  Even Janzoon Kolp's sister has
been admitted, but Janzoon himself has been voted out by the
directors, because he killed the stork, and only last summer was
caught in the act of robbing a bird's nest, a legal offence in
Holland.

This Janzoon Kolp, you see, was--There, I cannot tell the story
just now.  The race is about to commence.

Twenty girls are formed in a line.  The music has ceased.

A man, whom we shall call the crier, stands between the columns
and the first judges' stand.  He reads the rules in a loud voice: 
"The girls and boys are to race in turn, until one girl and one
boy have beaten twice.  They are to start in a line from the
united columns, skate to the flagstaff line, turn, and then come
back to the starting point, thus making a mile at each run."

A flag is waved from the judges' stand.  Madame van Gleck rises
in her pavilion.  She leans forward with a white handkerchief in
her hand.  When she drops it, a bugler is to give the signal for
them to start.

The handkerchief is fluttering to the ground!  Hark!

They are off!

No.  Back again.  Their line was not true in passing the judges'
stand.

The signal is repeated.

Off again.  No mistake this time.  Whew!  How fast they go!

The multitude is quiet for an instant, absorbed in eager,
breathless watching.

Cheers spring up along the line of spectators.  Huzza!  Five
girls are ahead.  Who comes flying back from the boundary mark? 
We cannot tell.  Something red, that is all.  There is a blue
spot flitting near it, and a dash of yellow nearer still. 
Spectators at this end of the line strain their eyes and wish
they had taken their post nearer the flagstaff.

The wave of cheers is coming back again.  Now we can see. 
Katrinka is ahead!

She passes the Van Holp pavilion.  The next is Madame van
Gleck's.  That leaning figure gazing from it is a magnet.  Hilda
shoots past Katrinka, waving her hand to her mother as she
passes.  Two others are close now, whizzing on like arrows.  What
is that flash of red and gray?  Hurray, it is Gretel!  She, too,
waves her hand, but toward no gay pavilion.  The crowd is
cheering, but she hears only her father's voice.  "Well done,
little Gretel!"  Soon Katrinka, with a quick, merry laugh, shoots
past Hilda.  The girl in yellow is gaining now.  She passes them
all, all except Gretel.  The judges lean forward without seeming
to lift their eyes from their watches.  Cheer after cheer fills
the air; the very columns seem rocking.  Gretel has passed them. 
She has won.

"Gretel Brinker, one mile!" shouts the crier.

The judges nod.  They write something upon a tablet which each
holds in his hand.

While the girls are resting--some crowding eagerly around our
frightened little Gretel, some standing aside in high
disdain--the boys form a line.

Mynheer van Gleck drops the handkerchief this time.  The buglers
give a vigorous blast!  The boys have started!

Halfway already!  Did ever you see the like?

Three hundred legs flashing by in an instant.  But there are only
twenty boys.  No matter, there were hundreds of legs, I am sure! 
Where are they now?  There is such a noise, one gets bewildered. 
What are the people laughing at?  Oh, at that fat boy in the
rear.  See him go!  See him!  He'll be down in an instant; no, he
won't.  I wonder if he knows he is all alone; the other boys are
nearly at the boundary line.  Yes, he knows it.  He stops!  He
wipes his hot face.  He takes off his cap and looks about him. 
Better to give up with a good grace.  He has made a hundred
friends by that hearty, astonished laugh.  Good Jacob Poot!

The fine fellow is already among the spectators, gazing as
eagerly as the rest.

A cloud of feathery ice flies from the heels of the skaters as
they "bring to" and turn at the flagstaffs.

Something black is coming now, one of the boys--it is all we
know.  He has touched the vox humana stop of the crowd; it fairly
roars.  Now they come nearer--we can see the red cap.  There's
Ben--there's Peter--there's Hans!

Hans is ahead!  Young Madame van Gend almost crushes the flowers
in her hand; she had been quite sure that Peter would be first. 
Carl Schummel is next, then Ben, and the youth with the red cap. 
A tall figure darts from among them.  He passes the red cap, he
passes Ben, then Carl.  Now it is an even race between him and
Hans.  Madame van Gend catches her breath.

It is Peter!  He is ahead!  Hans shoots past him.  Hilda's eyes
fill with tears.  Peter MUST beat.  Annie's eyes flash proudly. 
Gretel gazes with clasped hands--four strokes more will take her
brother to the columns.

He is there!  Yes, but so was young Schummel just a second
before.  At the last instant Carl, gathering his powers, had
whizzed between them and passed the goal.

"Carl Schummel, one mile!" shouts the crier.

Soon Madame van Gleck rises again.  The falling handkerchief
starts the bugle, and the bugle, using its voice as a bowstring,
shoots of twenty girls like so many arrows.

It is a beautiful sight, but one has not long to look; before we
can fairly distinguish them they are far in the distance.  This
time they are close upon one another.  it is hard to say as they
come speeding back from the flagstaff which will reach the
columns first.  There are new faces among the foremost--eager,
glowing faces, unnoticed before.  Katrinka is there, and Hilda,
but Gretel and Rychie are in the rear.  Gretel is wavering, but
when Rychie passes her, she starts forward afresh.  Now they are
nearly beside Katrinka.  Hilda is still in advance, she is almost
"home."  She has not faltered since that bugle note sent her
flying; like an arrow still she is speeding toward the goal. 
Cheer after cheer rises in the air.  Peter is silent, but his
eyes shine like stars.  "Huzza!  Huzza!"

The crier's voice is heard again.

"Hilda van Gleck, one mile!"

A loud murmur of approval runs through the crowd, catching the
music in its course, till all seems one sound, with a glad
rhythmic throbbing in its depths.  When the flag waves all is
still.

Once more the bugle blows a terrific blast.  It sends off the
boys like chaff before the wind--dark chaff I admit, and in big
pieces.

It is whisked around at the flagstaff, driven faster yet by the
cheers and shouts along the line.  We begin to see what is
coming.  There are three boys in advance this time, and all
abreast.  Hans, Peter, and Lambert.  Carl soon breaks the ranks,
rushing through with a whiff!  Fly, Hans; fly, Peter; don't let
Carl beat again.  Carl the bitter.  Carl the insolent.  Van
Mounen is flagging, but you are strong as ever.  Hans and Peter,
Peter and Hans; which is foremost?  We love them both.  We
scarcely care which is the fleeter.

Hilda, Annie, and Gretel, seated upon the long crimson bench, can
remain quiet no longer.  They spring to their feet--so different
and yet one in eagerness.  Hilda instantly reseats herself.  None
shall know how interested she is, none shall know how anxious,
how filled with one hope.  Shut your eyes then, Hilda--hide our
face rippling with joy.  Peter has beaten.

"Peter van Holp, one mile!" calls the crier.

The same buzz of excitement as before, while the judges take
notes, the same throbbing of music through the din; but something
is different.  A little crowd presses close about some object,
near the column.  Carl has fallen.  He is not hurt, though
somewhat stunned.  if he were less sullen he would find more
sympathy in these warm young hearts.  As it is they forget him as
soon as he is fairly on his feet again.

The girls are to skate their third mile.

How resolute the little maidens look as they stand in a line! 
Some are solemn with a sense of responsibility, some wear a smile
half bashful, half provoked, but one air of determination
pervades them all.

This third mile may decide the race.  Still, if neither Gretel
nor Hilda wins, there is yet a chance among the rest for the
silver skates.

Each girl feels sure that this time she will accomplish the
distance in one half of the time.  How they stamp to try their
runners!  How nervously they examine each strap!  How erect they
stand at last, every eye upon Madame van Gleck!

The bugle thrills through them again.  With quivering eagerness
they spring forward, bending, but in perfect balance.  Each
flashing stroke seems longer than the last.

Now they are skimming off in the distance.

Again the eager straining of eyes, again the shouts and cheering,
again the thrill of excitement as, after a few moments, four or
five, in advance of the rest, come speeding back, nearer, nearer
to the white columns.

Who is first?  Not Rychie, Katrinka, Annie, nor Hilda, nor the
girl in yellow, but Gretel--Gretel, the fleetest sprite of a girl
that ever skated.  She was but playing in the earlier races, NOW
she is in earnest, or rather, something within her has
determined to win.  That lithe little form makes no effort, but
it cannot stop--not until the goal is passed!

In vain the crier lifts his voice.  He cannot be heard.  He has
no news to tell--it is already ringing through the crowd. 
GRETEL HAS WON THE SILVER SKATES!

Like a bird she has flown over the ice, like a bird she looks
about her in a timid, startled way.  She longs to dart to the
sheltered nook where her father and mother stand.  But Hans is
beside her--the girls are crowding round.  Hilda's kind, joyous
voice breathes in her ear.  From that hour, none will despise
her.  Goose girl or not, Gretel stands acknowledged queen of the
skaters!

With natural pride Hans turns to see if Peter van Holp is
witnessing his sister's triumph.  Peter is not looking toward
them at all.  He is kneeling, bending his troubled face low, and
working hastily at his skate strap.  Hans is beside him at once.

"Are you in trouble, mynheer?"

"Ah, Hans, that you?  Yes, my fun is over.  I tried to tighten my
strap--to make a new hole--and this botheration of a knife has
cut it nearly in two."

"Mynheer," said Hans, at the same time pulling off a skate, "you
must use my strap!"

"Not I, indeed, Hans Brinker," cried Peter, looking up, "though I
thank you warmly.  Go to your post, my friend, the bugle will be
sounding in another minute."

"Mynheer," pleaded Hans in a husky voice, "you have called me
your friend.  Take this strap--quick!  There is not an instant to
lose.  I shall not skate this time.  Indeed, I am out of
practice.  Mynheer, you MUST take it."  And Hans, blind and deaf
to any remonstrance, slipped his strap into Peter's skate and
implored him to put it on.

"Come, Peter!" cried Lambert from the line.  "We are waiting for
you."

"For madame's sake," pleaded Hans, "be quick.  She is motioning
to you to join the racers.  There, the skate is almost on. 
Quick, mynheer, fasten it.  I could not possibly win.  The race
lies between Master Schummel and yourself."

"You are a noble fellow, Hans!" cried Peter, yielding at last. 
He sprang to his post just as the white handkerchief fell to the
ground.  The bugle sends forth its blast--loud, clear, and
ringing.

Off go the boys!

"Mine Gott," cries a tough old fellow from Delft.  "They beat
everything, these Amsterdam youngsters.  See them!"

See them, indeed!  They are winged Mercuries, every one of them. 
What mad errand are they on?  Ah, I know.  They are hunting Peter
van Holp.  He is some fleet-footed runaway from Olympus.  Mercury
and his troop of winged cousins are in full chase.  They will
catch him!  Now Carl is the runaway.  The pursuit grows
furious--Ben is foremost!

The chase turns in a cloud of mist.  It is coming this way.  Who
is hunted now?  Mercury himself.  It is Peter, Peter van Holp;
fly, Peter--Hans is watching you.  He is sending all his
fleetness, all his strength into your feet.  Your mother and
sister are pale with eagerness.  Hilda is trembling and dares not
look up.  Fly, Peter!  The crowd has not gone deranged, it is
only cheering.  The pursuers are close upon you!  Touch the white
column!  It beckons--it is reeling before you--it--

"Huzza!  Huzza!  Peter has won the silver skates!"

"Peter van Holp!" shouted the crier.  But who heard him?  "Peter
van Holp!" shouted a hundred voices, for he was the favorite boy
of the place.  "Huzza!  Huzza!"

"Now the music was resolved to be heard.  It struck up a lively
air, then a tremendous march.  The spectators, thinking something
new was about to happen, deigned to listen and to look.

The racers formed in single file.  Peter, being tallest, stood
first.  Gretel, the smallest of all, took her place at the end. 
Hans, who had borrowed a strap from the cake boy, was near the
head.

Three gaily twined arches were placed at intervals upon the river
facing the Van Gleck pavilion.

Skating slowly, and in perfect time to the music, the boys and
girls moved forward, led on by Peter.

It was beautiful to see the bright procession glide along like a
living creature.  It curved and doubled, and drew its graceful
length in and out among the arches--whichever way Peter, the
head, went, the body was sure to follow.  Sometimes it steered
direct for the center arch, then, as if seized with a new
impulse, turned away and curled itself about the first one, then
unwound slowly and, bending low, with quick, snakelike curvings,
crossed the river, passing at length through the furthest arch.

When the music was slow, the procession seemed to crawl like a
thing afraid.  It grew livelier, and the creature darted forward
with a spring, gliding rapidly among the arches, in and out,
curling, twisting, turning, never losing form until, at the
shrill call of the bugle rising above the music, it suddenly
resolved itself into boys and girls standing in a double
semicircle before Madam van Gleck's pavilion.

Peter and Gretel stand in the center in advance of the others. 
Madame van Gleck rises majestically.  Gretel trembles but feels
that she must look at the beautiful lady.  She cannot hear what
is said, there is such a buzzing all around her.  She is thinking
that she ought to try and make a curtsy, such as her mother makes
to the meester, when suddenly something so dazzling is placed in
her hand that she gives a cry of joy.

Then she ventures to look about her.  Peter, too, has something
in his hands.  "Oh!  Oh!  How splendid!" she cries, and "Oh!  How
splendid!" is echoed as far as people can see.

Meantime the silver skates flash in the sunshine, throwing dashes
of light upon those two happy faces.

Mevrouw van Gend sends a little messenger with her bouquets.  One
for Hilda, one for Carl, and others for Peter and Gretel.

At sight of the flowers the queen of the skaters becomes
uncontrollable.  With a bright stare of gratitude, she gathers
skates and bouquets in her apron, hugs them to her bosom, and
darts off to search for her father and mother in the scattering
crowd.




Joy in the Cottage



Perhaps you were surprised to learn that Raff and his vrouw were
at the skating race.  You would have been more so had you been
with them on the evening of that merry twentieth of December.  To
see the Brinker cottage standing sulkily alone on the frozen
marsh, with its bulgy, rheumatic-looking walls and its slouched
hat of a roof pulled far over its eyes, one would never suspect
that a lively scene was passing within.  Without, nothing was
left of the day but a low line of blaze at the horizon.  A few
venturesome clouds had already taken fire, and others, with
their edges burning, were lost in the gathering smoke.

A stray gleam of sunshine slipping down from the willow stump
crept stealthily under the cottage.  It seemed to feel that the
inmates would give it welcome if it could only get near them. 
The room under which it hid was as clean as clean could be.  The
very cracks in the rafters were polished.  Delicious odors filled
the air.  A huge peat fire upon the hearth sent flashes of
harmless lightning at the somber walls.  It played in turn upon
the great leather Bible, upon Gretel's closet-bed, the household
things upon their pegs, and the beautiful silver skates and the
flowers upon the table.  Dame Brinker's honest face shone and
twinkled in the changing light.  Gretel and Hans, with arms
entwined, were leaning against the fireplace, laughing merrily,
and Raff Brinker was dancing!

I do not mean that he was pirouetting or cutting a pigeon-wing,
either of which would have been entirely too undignified for the
father of a family.  I simply affirm that while they were
chatting pleasantly together Raff suddenly sprang from his seat,
snapped his fingers, and performed two or three flourishes very
much like the climax of a highland fling.  Next he caught his
vrouw in his arms and fairly lifted her from the ground in his
delight.

"Huzza!" he cried.  "I have it!  I have it!  It's Thomas Higgs. 
That's the name!  It came upon me like a flash.  Write it down,
lad, write it down!"

Someone knocked at the door.

"It's the meester," cried the delighted dame.  "Goede Gunst! 
How things come to pass!"

Mother and children came in merry collision as they rushed to
open the door.

It was not the doctor, after all, but three boys, Peter van Holp,
Lambert, and Ben.

"Good evening, young gentlemen," said Dame Brinker, so happy and
proud that she would scarcely have been surprised at a visit from
the king himself.

"Good evening, jufvrouw," said the trio, making magnificent
bows.

Dear me, thought Dame Brinker as she bobbed up and down like a
churn dasher, it's lucky I learned to curtsy at Heidelberg!

Raff was content to return the boys' salutations with a
respectful nod.

"Pray be seated, young masters," said the dame as Gretel
bashfully thrust a stool at them.  "There's a lack of chairs as
you see, but this one by the fire is at your service, and if you
don't mind the hardness, that oak chest is as good a seat as the
best.  That's right, Hans, pull it out."

By the time the boys were seated to the dame's satisfaction,
Peter, acting as a spokesman, had explained that they were going
to attend a lecture at Amsterdam, and had stopped on the way to
return Hans's strap.

"Oh, mynheer," cried Hans, earnestly, "it is too much trouble. 
I am very sorry."

"No trouble at all, Hans.  I could have waited for you to come to
your work tomorrow, had I not wished to call.  And, Hans, talking
of your work, my father is much pleased with it.  A carver by
trade could not have done it better.  He would like to have the
south arbor ornamented, also, but I told him you were going to
school again."

"Aye!" put in Raff Brinker, emphatically.  "Hans must go to
school at once--and Gretel as well--that is true."

"I am glad to hear you say so," responded Peter, turning toward
the father, "and very glad to know that you are again a well
man."

"Yes, young master, a well man, and able to work as steady as
ever, thank God!"

Here Hans hastily wrote something on the edge of a time-worn
almanac that hung by the chimney-place.  "Aye, that's right, lad,
set it down.  Figgs!  Wiggs!  Alack!  Alack!" added Raff in great
dismay, "it's gone again!"

"All right, Father," said Hans, "the name's down now in black and
white.  Here, look at it, father; mayhap the rest will come to
you.  If we had the place as well, it would be complete!"  Then
turning to Peter, he said in a low tone, "I have an important
errand in town, mynheer, and if--"

"Wist!" exclaimed the dame, lifting her hands.  "Not to Amsterdam
tonight, and you've owned your legs were aching under you.  Nay,
nay--it'll be soon enough to go at early daylight."

"Daylight, indeed!" echoed Raff.  "That would never do.  Nay,
Meitje, he must go this hour."

The vrouw looked for an instant as if Raff's recovery was
becoming rather a doubtful benefit; her word was no longer sole
law in the house.  Fortunately the proverb "Humble wife is
husband's boss" had taken deep root in her mind; even as the dame
pondered, it bloomed.

"Very well, Raff," she said smilingly, "it is thy boy as well as
mine.  Ah!  I've a troublesome house, young masters."

Just then Peter drew a long strap from his pocket.

Handing it to Hans he said in an undertone, "I need not thank you
for lending me this, Hans Brinker.  Such boys as you do not ask
for thanks, but I must say you did me a great kindness, and I am
proud to acknowledge it.  I did not know," he added laughingly,
"until fairly in the race, how anxious I was to win."

Hans was glad to join in Peter's laugh; it covered his
embarrassment and gave his face a chance to cool off a little. 
Honest, generous boys like Hans have such a stupid way of
blushing when you least expect it.

"It was nothing, mynheer," said the dame, hastening to her son's
relief.  "The lad's whole soul was in having you win the race, I
know it was!"

This helped matters beautifully.

"Ah, mynheer," Hans hurried to say, "from the first start I felt
stiff and strange on my feet.  I was well out of it so long as I
had no chance of winning."

Peter looked rather distressed.

"We may hold different opinions here.  That part of the business
troubles me.  It is too late to mend it now, but it would be
really a kindness to me if--"

The rest of Peter's speech was uttered so confidentially that I
cannot record it.  Enough to say, Hans soon started back in
dismay, and Peter, looking very much ashamed, stammered out
something to the effect that he would keep them, since he won the
race, but it was "all wrong."

Here Van Mounen coughed, as if to remind Peter that lecture hour
was approaching fast.  At the same moment Ben laid something upon
the table.

"Ah," exclaimed Peter, "I forgot my other errand.  Your sister
ran off so quickly today that Madame van Gleck had no opportunity
to give her the case for her skates."

"S-s-t!" said Dame Brinker, shaking her head reproachfully at
Gretel.  "She was a very rude girl, I'm sure."  Secretly she was
thinking that very few women had such a fine little daughter."

"No, indeed"--Peter laughed--"she did exactly the right
thing--ran home with her richly won treasures.  Who would not? 
Don't let us detain you, Hans," he continued, turning around as
he spoke, but Hans, who was eagerly watching his father, seemed
to have forgotten their presence.

Meantime, Raff, lost in thought, was repeating, under his breath,
"Thomas Higgs, Thomas Higgs, aye, that's the name.  Alack! if I
could but remember the place as well."

The skate case was elegantly made of crimson morocco, ornamented
with silver.  If a fairy had designed its delicate tracery, they
could not have been more daintily beautiful.  "For the Fleetest"
was written upon the cover in sparkling letters.  It was lined
with velvet, and in one corner was stamped the name and address
of the maker.

Gretel thanked Peter in her own simple way, then, being quite
delighted and confused and not knowing what else to do, she
lifted the case, carefully examining it in every part.  "It's
made by Mynheer Birmingham," she said after a while, still
blushing and holding it before her eyes.

"Birmingham!" replied Lambert van Mounen, "that's the name of a
place in England.  Let me see it."

"Ha! ha!"  He laughed, holding the open case toward the
firelight.  "No wonder you thought so, but it's a slight mistake. 
The case was made at Birmingham, but the maker's name is in
smaller letters.  Humph!  They're so small, I can't read them."

"Let me try," said Peter, leaning over his shoulder.  "Why, man,
it's perfectly distinct.  It's T-H--it's T--"

"Well!" exclaimed Lambert triumphantly, "if you can read it so
easily, let's hear it, T-H, what?"

"T.H.-T.H.  Oh!  Why, Thomas Higgs, to be sure," replied Peter,
pleased to be able to decipher it at last.  Then, feeling that
they had been acting rather unceremoniously, he turned to Hans.

Peter turned pale!  What was the matter with the people?  Raff
and Hans had started up and were staring at him in glad
amazement.  Gretel looked wild.  Dame Brinker, with an unlighted
candle in her hand, was rushing about the room, crying, "Hans! 
Hans!  Where's your hat?  Oh, the meester!  Oh the meester!"

"Birmingham!  Higgs!" exclaimed Hans.  "Did you say Higgs?  We've
found him!  I must be off."

"You see, young masters."  The dame was panting, at the same time
snatching Hans's hat from the bed, "you see--we know him.  He's
our--no, he isn't.  I mean--oh, Hans, you must go to Amsterdam
this minute!"

"Good night, mynheers," panted Hans, radiant with sudden joy. 
"Good night.  You will excuse me, I must go. 
Birmingham--Higgs--Higgs--Birmingham."  And seizing his hat from
his mother and his skates from Gretel he rushed from the cottage.

What could the boys think, but that the entire Brinker family had
suddenly gone crazy!

They bade an embarrassed "Good evening," and turned to go.  But
Raff stopped them.

"This Thomas Higgs, young masters, is a--a person."

"Ah!" exclaimed Peter, quite sure that Raff was the most crazy of
all.

"Yes, a person.  A--ahem--a friend.  We thought him dead.  I hope
it is the same man.  In England, did you say?"

"Yes, Birmingham," answered Peter.  "It must be Birmingham in
England."

"I know the man," said Ben, addressing Lambert.  "His factory is
not four miles from our place.  A queer fellow--still as an
oyster--doesn't seem at all like an Englishman.  I've often seen
him--a solemn-looking chap, with magnificent eyes.  He made a
beautiful writing case once for me to give Jenny on her birthday. 
Makes pocketbooks, telescope cases, and all kinds of
leatherwork."

As this was said in English, Van Mounen of course translated it
for the benefit of all concerned, noticing meanwhile that neither
Raff nor his vrouw looked very miserable, though Raff was
trembling and the dame's eyes were swimming with tears.

You may believe that the doctor heard every word of the story,
when later in the evening he came driving back with Hans.  "The
three young gentlemen have been gone some time," Dame Brinker
said, "but like enough, by hurrying, it would be easy to find
them coming out from the lecture, wherever that was."

"True," said Raff, nodding his head.  "The vrouw always hits
upon the right thing.  It would be well to see the young English
gentleman, mynheer, before he forgets all about Thomas Higgs. 
It's a slippery name, d'ye see?  One can't hold it safe a minute. 
It come upon me sudden and strong as a pile driver, and my boy
writ it down.  Aye, mynheer, I'd haste to talk with the English
lad.  He's seen your son many a time--only to think on't!"

Dame Brinker took up the thread of the discourse.

"You'll pick out the lad quick enough, mynheer, because he's in
company with Peter van Holp, and his hair curls up over his
forehead like foreign folk's, and if you hear him speak, he talks
of big and fast, only it's English, but that wouldn't be any
hindrance to your honor."

The doctor had already lifted his hat to go.  With a beaming face
he muttered something about its being just like the young scamp
to give himself a rascally English name, called Hans "my son,"
thereby making that young gentleman as happy as a lord, and left
the cottage with very little ceremony, considering what a great
meester he was.


The grumbling coachman comforted himself by speaking his mind as
he drove back to Amsterdam.  Since the doctor was safely stowed
away in the coach and could not hear a word, it was a fine time
to say terrible things of folks who hadn't no manner of feeling
for nobody, and who were always wanting the horses a dozen times
of a night.




Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Higgs



Higgs's factory was a mine of delight for the gossips of
Birmingham.  It was a small building but quite large enough to
hold a mystery.  Who the proprietor was, or where he came from
none could tell.  He looked like a gentleman, that was certain,
though everybody knew he had risen from an apprenticeship, and he
could handle his pen like a writing master.

Years ago he had suddenly appeared in the place a lad of
eighteen, learned his trade faithfully, and risen in the
confidence of his employer, been taken in as a partner soon after
the time was up.  Finally, when old Willett died, had assumed the
business on his own hands.  This was all that was known of his
affairs.

It was a common remark among some of the good people that he
never had a word to say to a Christian soul, while others
declared that though he spoke beautifully when he chose to, there
was something wrong in his accent.  A tidy man, too, they called
him, all but for having that scandalous green pond alongside of
his factory, which wasn't deep enough for an eel and was "just a
fever nest, as sure as you live."

His nationality was a great puzzle.  The English name spoke plain
enough for ONE side of his house, but of what manner of nation
was his mother?  If she'd been an American, he'd certainly have
had high cheekbones and reddish skin; if a German, he would have
known the language, and Squire Smith declared that he didn't; if
French (and his having that frog pond made it seem likely), it
would come out in his speech.  No, there was nothing he could be
but Dutch.  And, strangest of all, though the man always pricked
up his ears when you talked of Holland, he didn't seem to know
the first thing about the country when you put him to the point.

Anyhow, as no letters ever came to him from his mother's family
in Holland, and as nobody living had ever seen old Higgs, the
family couldn't be anything much.  Probably Thomas Higgs himself
was no better than he should be, for all he pretended to carry
himself so straight; and for their parts, the gossips declared,
they were not going to trouble their heads about him. 
Consequently Thomas Higgs and his affairs were never-failing
subjects of discussion.

Picture, then, the consternation among all the good people when
it was announced by "somebody who was there and ought to know,"
that the postboy had that very morning handed Higgs a
foreign-looking letter, and the man had "turned as white as the
wall, rushed to his factory, talked a bit with one of the head
workmen, and without bidding a creature good-bye, was off bag and
baggage, before you could wink, ma'am."  Mistress Scrubbs, his
landlady, was in deep affliction.  The dear soul became quite out
of breath while speaking of him.  "To leave lodgin's in that
suddent way, without never so much as a day's warnin', which was
what every woman who didn't wish to be trodden underfoot, which
thank hevving wasn't HER way, had a perfect right to expect;
yes, and a week's warnin' now you mention it, and without even so
much as sayin' 'Many thanks, Mistress Scrubbs, for all past
kindnesses,' which was most numerous, though she said it who
shouldn't say it; leastwise she wasn't never no kind of person to
be lookin' for thanks every minnit.  It was really scanderlous,
though to be sure Mister 'iggs paid up everythin' to the last
farthin' and it fairly brought tears to my eyes to see his dear
empty boots lyin' there in the corner of his room, which alone
showed trouble of mind for he always stood 'em up straight as
solgers, though bein' half-soled twice they hadn't, of course,
been worth takin' away."

Whereupon her dearest friend, Miss Scrumpkins, ran home to tell
all about it.  And, as everybody knew the Scrumpkinses, a shining
gossamer of news was soon woven from one end of the street to the
other.

An investigating committee met that evening at Mrs.
Snigham's--sitting in secret session over her best china.  Though
invited only to a quiet "tea," the amount of judicial business
they transacted on the occasion was prodigious.  The biscuits
were actually cold before the committee had a chance to eat
anything.  There was so much to talk over, and it was so
important that it should be firmly established that each member
had always been "certain sure that something extraordinary would
be happening to that man yet," that it was nearly eight o'clock
before Mrs. Snigham gave anybody a second cup.




Broad Sunshine



One snowy day in January Laurens Boekman went with his father to
pay his respects to the Brinker family.

Raff was resting after the labors of the day; Gretel, having
filled and lighted his pipe, was brushing every speck of ash from
the hearth; the dame was spinning; and Hans, perched upon a stool
by the window, was diligently studying his lessons.  It was a
peaceful, happy household whose main excitement during the past
week had been the looking forward to this possible visit from
Thomas Higgs.

As soon as the grand presentation was over, Dame Brinker insisted
upon giving her guests some hot tea; it was enough to freeze
anyone, she said, to be out in such crazy, blustering weather. 
While they were talking with her husband she whispered to Gretel
that the young gentleman's eyes and her boy's were certainly as
much alike as four beans, to say nothing of a way they both had
of looking as if they were stupid and yet knew as much as a
body's grandfather.

Gretel was disappointed.  She had looked forward to a tragic
scene, such as Annie Bouman had often described to her, from
storybooks; and here was the gentleman who came so near being a
murderer, who for ten years had been wandering over the face of
the earth, who believed himself deserted and scorned by his
father--the very young gentleman who had fled from his country in
such magnificent trouble, sitting by the fire just as pleasant
and natural as could be!

To be sure, his voice had trembled when he talked with her
parents, and he had met his father's look with a bright kind of
smile that would have suited a dragon-killer bringing the waters
of perpetual youth to his king, but after all, he wasn't at all
like the conquered hero in Annie's book.  He did not say, lifting
his arm toward heaven, "I hereby swear to be forever faithful to
my home, my God, and my country!" which would have been only
right and proper under the circumstances.

All things considered, Gretel was disappointed.  Raff, however,
was perfectly satisfied.  The message was delivered.  Dr. Boekman
had his son safe and sound, and the poor lad had done nothing
sinful after all, except in thinking that his father would have
abandoned him for an accident.  To be sure, the graceful
stripling had become rather a heavy man.  Raff had unconsciously
hoped to clasp that same boyish hand again, but all things were
changed to Raff, for that matter.  So he pushed back every
feeling but joy as he saw father and son sitting side by side at
his hearthstone.  Meantime, Hans was wholly occupied in the
thought of Thomas Higgs's happiness in being able to be the
meester's assistant again, and Dame Brinker was sighing softly
to herself, wishing that the lad's mother were alive to see
him--such a fine young gentleman as he was--and wondering how Dr.
Boekman could bear to see the silver watch getting so dull.  He
had worn it ever since Raff handed it over, that was evident. 
What had he done with the gold one he used to wear?

The light was shining full upon Dr. Boekman's face.  How
contented he looked; how much younger and brighter than formerly. 
The hard lines were quite melting away.  He was laughing as he
said to the father, "Am I not a happy man, Raff Brinker?  My son
will sell out his factory this month and open a warehouse in
Amsterdam.  I shall have all my spectacle cases for nothing."

Hans started from his reverie.  "A warehouse, mynheer!  And will
Thomas Higgs--I mean, is your son not to be your assistant
again?"

A shade passed over the meester's face, but he brightened with
an effort as he replied, "Oh, no, Laurens has had quite enough of
that.  He wishes to be a merchant."

Hans appeared so surprised and disappointed that his friend asked
good-naturedly, "Why so silent, boy?  Is it any disgrace to be a
merchant?"

"N-not a disgrace, mynheer," stammered Hans, "but--"

"But what?"

"Why, the other calling is so much better," answered Hans, "so
much nobler.  I think, mynheer," he added with enthusiasm, "that
to be a surgeon, to cure the sick and crippled, to save human
life, to be able to do what you have done for my father, is the
grandest thing on earth."

The doctor was regarding him sternly.  Hans felt rebuked.  His
cheeks were flushed; hot tears were gathering under his lashes.

"It is an ugly business, boy, this surgery," said the doctor,
still frowning at Hans.  "It requires great patience,
self-denial, and perseverance."

"I am sure that it does," cried Hans.  "It calls for wisdom, too,
and a reverence for God's work.  Ah, mynheer, it may have its
trials and drawbacks, but you do not mean what you say.  It is
great and noble, not ugly!  Pardon me, mynheer.  It is not for
me to speak so boldly."

Dr. Boekman was evidently displeased.  He turned his back on the
boy and conferred aside with Laurens.  Meanwhile the dame scowled
a terrible warning at Hans.  These great people, she knew well
enough, never like to hear poor folk speak up so pertly.

The meester turned around.

"How old are you, Hans Brinker?"

"Fifteen, mynheer," was the startled reply.

"Would you like to become a physician?"

"Yes, mynheer," answered Hans, quivering with excitement.

"Would you be willing, with your parents' consent, to devote
yourself to study, to go to the university, and, in time, be a
student in my office?"

"Yes, mynheer."

"You would not grow restless, think you, and change your mind
just as I had set my heart upon preparing you to be my
successor?"

Hans's eyes flashed.

"No, mynheer, I would not change."

"You may believe him there," cried the dame, who could remain
quiet no longer.  "Hans is like a rock when once he decides, and
as for study, mynheer, the child has almost grown fast to his
books of late.  He can jumble off Latin already, like any
priest!"

The doctor smiled.  "Well, Hans, I see nothing to prevent us from
carrying out this plan, if your father agrees."

"Ahem," said Raff, too proud of his boy to be very meek.  "The
fact is, mynheer, I prefer an active, out-of-door life, myself. 
But if the lad's inclined to study for a meester, and he'd have
the benefit of your good word to push him on in the world, it's
all one to me.  The money's all that's wanting, but it mightn't
be long, with two strong pair of arms to earn it, before we--"

"Tut, tut!" interrupted the doctor.  "If I take your right-hand
man away, I must pay the cost, and glad enough will I be to do
it.  It will be like having TWO sons, eh, Laurens?  One a
merchant and the other a surgeon.  I shall be the happiest man in
Holland!  Come to me in the morning, Hans, and we will arrange
matters at once."

Hans bowed assent.  He dared not trust himself to speak.

"And, Brinker," continued the doctor, "my son Laurens will need a
trusty, ready man like you, when he opens his warehouse in
Amsterdam, someone to oversee matters, and see that the lazy
clowns round about the place do their duty.  Someone to--Why
don't you tell him yourself, you rascal!"

This last was addressed to the son and did not sound half as
fierce as it looks in print.  The rascal and Raff soon understood
each other perfectly.

"I'm loath to leave the dikes," said the latter, after they had
talked together awhile, "but it is such a good offer, mynheer,
I'd be robbing my family if I let it go past me."


Take a long look at Hans as he sits there staring gratefully at
the meester, for you shall not see him again for many years.

And Gretel--ah, what a vista of puzzling work suddenly opens
before her!  Yes, for dear Hans's sake she will study now.  If he
really is to be a meester, his sister must not shame his
greatness.

How faithfully those glancing eyes shall yet seek for the jewels
that lie hidden in rocky schoolbooks!  And how they shall yet
brighten and droop at the coming of one whom she knows of now
only as the boy who wore a red cap on that wonderful day when she
found the silver skates in her apron!

But the doctor and Laurens are going.  Dame Brinker is making her
best curtsy.  Raff stands beside her, looking every inch a man as
he grasps the meester's hand.  Through the open cottage door we
can look out upon the level Dutch landscape, all alive with the
falling snow.




Conclusion



Our story is nearly told.  Time passes in Holland just as surely
and steadily as here.  In that respect no country is odd.

To the Brinker family it has brought great changes.  Hans has
spent the years faithfully and profitably, conquering obstacles
as they arose and pursuing one object with all the energy of his
nature.  If often the way has been rugged, his resolution has
never failed.  Sometimes he echoes, with his good friend, the
words said long ago in that little cottage near Broek:  "Surgery
is an ugly business," but always in his heart of hearts lingers
the echo of those truer words:  "It is great and noble!  It
awakes a reverence for God's work!"

Were you in Amsterdam today, you might see the famous Dr. Brinker
riding in his grand coach to visit his patients, or, it might be,
you would see him skating with his own boys and girls upon the
frozen canal.  For Annie Bouman, the beautiful, frank-hearted
peasant girl, you would inquire in vain; but Annie Brinker, the
vrouw of the great physician, is very like her--only, as Hans
says, she is even lovelier, wiser, more like a fairy godmother
than ever.

Peter van Holp, also, is a married man.  I could have told you
before that he and Hilda would join hands and glide through life
together, just as years ago they skimmed side by side over the
frozen sunlit river.

At one time, I came near hinting that Katrinka and Carl would
join hands.  It is fortunate that the report was not started, for
Katrinka changed her mind and is single to this day.  The lady is
not quite so merry as formerly, and, I grieve to say, some of the
tinkling bells are out of tune.  But she is the life of her
social circle, still.  I wish she would be in earnest, just for a
little while, but no; it is not in her nature.  Her cares and
sorrows do nothing more than disturb the tinkling; they never
waken any deeper music.

Rychie's soul has been stirred to its depths during these long
years.  Her history would tell how seed carelessly sown is
sometimes reaped in anguish and how a golden harvest may follow a
painful planting.  If I mistake not, you may be able to read the
written record before long; that is, if you are familiar with the
Dutch language.  In the witty but earnest author whose words are
welcomed to this day in thousands of Holland homes, few could
recognize the haughty, flippant Rychie who scoffed at little
Gretel.

Lambert van Mounen and Ludwig van Holp are good Christian men
and, what is more easily to be seen at a glance, thriving
citizens.  Both are dwellers in Amsterdam, but one clings to the
old city of that name and the other is a pilgrim to the new.  Van
Mounen's present home is not far from Central Park, and he says
if the New Yorkers do their duty the park will in time equal his
beautiful Bosch, near The Hague.  He often thinks of the Katrinka
of his boyhood, but he is glad now that Katrinka, the woman, sent
him away, though it seemed at the time his darkest hour.  Ben's
sister Jenny has made him very happy, happier than he could have
been with anyone else in the wide world.

Carl Schummel has had a hard life.  His father met with reverses
in business, and as Carl had not many warm friends, and, above
all, was not sustained by noble principles, he has been tossed
about by fortune's battledore until his gayest feathers are
nearly all knocked off.  He is a bookkeeper in the thriving
Amsterdam house of Boekman and Schimmelpenninck.  Voostenwalbert,
the junior partner, treats him kindly; and he, in turn, is very
respectful to the "monkey with a long name for a tail."

Of all our group of Holland friends, Jacob Poot is the only one
who has passed away.  Good-natured, true-hearted, and unselfish
to the last, he is mourned now as heartily as he was loved and
laughed at while on earth.  He grew to be very thin before he
died, thinner than Benjamin Dobbs, who is now portliest among the
portly.

Raff Brinker and his vrouw have been living comfortably in
Amsterdam for many years--a faithful, happy pair, as simple and
straightforward in their good fortune as they were patient and
trustful in darker days.  They have a zomerhuis near the old
cottage and thither they often repair with their children and
grandchildren on the pleasant summer afternoons when the pond
lilies rear their queenly heads above the water.

The story of Hans Brinker would be but half told if we did not
leave him with Gretel standing near.  Dear, quick , patient
little Gretel!  What is she now?  Ask old Dr. Boekman, he will
declare that she is the finest singer, the loveliest woman in
Amsterdam.  Ask Hans and Annie, they will assure you that she is
the dearest sister ever known.  Ask her husband, he will tell you
that she is the brightest, sweetest little wife in Holland.  Ask
Dame Brinker and Raff, their eyes will glisten with joyous tears. 
Ask the poor and the air will be filled with blessings.

But, lest you forget a tiny form trembling and sobbing on the
mound before the Brinker cottage, ask the Van Glecks; they will
never weary of telling of the darling little girl who won the
silver skates.





End of the Project Gutenberg text of Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates


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