' DWIN LIBRARY ANNEX
I N' ..
THE SILVER SKATES
2 Storp of ttfe in dollar'
MARY MAPES DODGE
GROSSET & DUNLAP
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LIBRARIES
THIs little work aims to combine the instructive fea-
tures 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 unno-
ticed in sunlight and shadow.
Should this simple narrative serve to give my young
readers a just idea of Holland and its resources, or pre-
sent true pictures of its inhabitants and their every-day
life, or free them from certain current prejudices con-
cerning 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.
I. Hans and Gretel.............................
II. Holland. .................................. 6
III. The Silver Skates........................... 16
IV. Hans and Gretel Find a Friend .............. 22
V. Shadows in the Home....................... 29
VI. Sunbeams .. ................................ 37
VII. Hans Has His Way......................... 42
VIII. Introducing Jacob Poot and His Cousin....... 46
IX. The Festival of Saint Nicholas .............. 53
X. What the Boys Saw and Did in Amsterdam.... 62
XI. Big Manias and Little Oddities ............... 72
XII. On the Way to Haarlem..................... 8o
XIII. A Catastrophe .............................. 84
XIV. Hans. .................................... 88
XV. Homes .. ................................... 94
XVI. Haarlem. The Boys Hear Voices ............. 101
XVII. The Man With Four Heads.................. 107
XVIII. Friends in Need............................ 113
XIX. On the Canal............................... 121
XX. Jacob Poot Changes the Plan................ 128
XXI. Mynheer Kleef and His Bill of Fare ......... 136
XXII. The Red Lion Becomes Dangerous ............ 140o
XXIII. Before the Court............................ 152
XXIV. The Beleaguered Cities...................... 156
XXV. Leyden. .................................. 162
XXVI. The Palace in the Wood..................... 168
XXVII. The Merchant Prince and the Sister Princess.. 171
XXVIII. Through the Hague......................... 185
XXIX. A Day of Rest.............................. 193
XXX. Homeward Bound .......................... 197
XXXI. Boys and Gfrls.............................. 20o
XXXII. The Crisis ................................. 207
XXXIII. Gretel and Hilda............................ 214
XXXIV. The Awakening ............................ 221
XXXV. Bones and Tongues.......................... 225
XXXVI. A New Alarm............................... 229
XXXVII. The Father's Return......................... 234
XXXVIII. The Thousand Guilders..................... 239
XXXIX. Glimpses ................................. 244
XL. Looking for Work ........................... 248
XLI. The Fairy Godmother....................... 254
XLII. The Mysterious Watch...................... 260
XLIII. A Discovery ............................... 269
XLIV. The Race ................................... 277
XLV. Joy in the Cottage........................... 294
XLVI. Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Higgs... 302
XLVII. Broad Sunshine ............................ 305
XLVIII. Conclusion. ............................... 3xo
THE SILVER SKATES.
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 en-
joying a placid morning nap; even Mynheer von Stoppel-
noze, that worthy old Dutchman, was still slumbering "in
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 upon their feet-not skates, cer-
tainly, but clumsy pieces of wood narrowed and smoothed
at their lower edge, and pierced with holes, through
which were threaded strings of raw hide.
2 HANS BRINKER; OR,
These queer looking affairs had been made by the boy
Hans. His mother was a poor peasant-woman, too poor
to even 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 Eng-
lish of which was that girls were troublesome creatures,
he steered towards her.
"You are foolish to wear such shoes, Gretel, when you
have a stout leather pair. Your klompen* would be bet-
ter 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 of 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.
THE SILVER SKATES.
"Oh! oh!" she cried, in real pain.
With an impatient jerk Hans unwound the string. He
would have cast it upon the ground in true big-brother
style, had he not just then spied a tear trickling down his
"I'll fix it-never fear," he said, with sudden tender-
ness, "but we must be quick; the mother will need us
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 ar-
ranging 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 laughing together, as
hand in hand they flew along the canal, never thinking
whether the ice would bear 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 be-
neath Hans' feet. Next his strokes grew shorter, end-
ing ofttimes with a jerk, and finally, he lay sprawling
unon the ice, kicking against the air with many a fan-
HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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 grace-
ful 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
Just then a clear, quick voice was heard calling "Hans!
"It's the mother," said Hans, looking solemn in an
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 zomer-
huis* wears a motto over its portal. Gretel was lithe and
quick; her eyes had a dancing light in them, and while
THE SILVER SKATES. 5
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
dykes 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
None had better cause to know the nature of these
same dykes than Dame Brinker and the panting young-
sters 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
6 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 dykes
or bulwarks have been erected at a heavy cost of money
and labor, to keep the ocean where it belongs. On cer-
tain 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
dykes 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 upon them, from which
horses may look down upon way-side 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 near by.
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
THE SILVER SKATES. 7
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. Farm-houses, 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 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 bare-footed
girls and boys. Such wadings! 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' door-posts and re-
ceive 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 rail-
ways; water-fences in the form of lazy green ditches,
enclose pleasure-ground, polder and garden.
8 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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, excepting 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*, 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,
-re 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
*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 choco-
late-colored sails. This last color is caused by a preparation
of tan which is put on to preserve them.
THE SILVER SKATES. 9
any others under the sun; and a Dutch wagon with its
funny little crooked pole, is a perfect mystery of mys-
"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 over-
flowing 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 young as 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 of "The Ancient Mariner"-
"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 fan-
tastical 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*; 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
I0 HANS BRINKER; OR,
the coast. Before they were sown with coarse reedgrass
and other plants, to hold them down, they used to send
great storms of sand over the inland. So, to add to the
oddities, 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 und 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 quiet, passive-looking inhabitants. Few nations
have equaled 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 and labor upon
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 enlight-
ened enterprise, its art, its music and its literature. It has
truly been called, "the battle field of Europe," as truly
THE SILVER SKATES. II
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 pump-
ing 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
millions of dollars. The large ones are of great power.
Their huge, circular tower, rising sometimes from the
midst of factory buildings, is surmounted with a smaller
one tapering into a cap-like roof. This upper tower is
encircled at its base with a balcony, high above which,
juts the axis turned by its four prodigious, ladder-backed
Many of the windmills are primitive affairs, seeming
sadly in need of Yankee "improvements;" but some of
the new ones are admirable. They are so constructed
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;
12 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 Rasp-
house, because the thieves and vagrants who were con-
fined there were employed in rasping log-wood, 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 pris-
oner 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 in-
troduced 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
dykes, and regulating water levels. If these important
duties were neglected the country would be uninhabitable.
Already, dreadful consequences, as I have said, have fol-
lowed the bursting of these dykes. Hundreds of villages
and towns have from time to time been buried beneath
the rush of waters, and nearly a million of 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 over-
whelmed portions of Holland, but this was the most
terrible of all. The unhappy country had long been suf-
fering under Spanish tyranny; now, it seemed the crown-
ing point was given to its troubles. When we read Mot-
ley'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 inun-
THE SILVER SKATES. 13
dation 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 dykes, tasked 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 packthread; how fishing boats and bulky
vessels floating up into the country became entangled
among the trees, or beat in the roofs and walls of dwell-
ings, 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, were
eagerly seized upon. Every house was inundated, even
the grave-yards 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 re-
newed. Everywhere, upon the tops of trees, upon the
steeples of churches, human beings were clustered, pray-
ing to God for mercy, and to their fellowmen for assist-
ance. 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 tree tops,
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 dam-
age done to property of every description was beyond
Robles, the Spanish Governor, was foremost in noble
efforts to save life and lessen the horrors of the catastro-
phe. He had formerly been hated by the Dutch because
14 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 dykes, 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 inunda-
tions 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 dis-
charge their rapidly rising waters into the ocean. Added
to this, the sea chafing and pressing against the dykes,
it is no wonder that Holland is often in a state of 2larm.
The greatest care is taken to prevent accidents. Engi-
neers 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 com-
mon 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 main stay 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 dykes. It was at the time
of a threatened inundation, when in the midst of a terri-
ble storm, in darkness and sleet, the men were laboring
at a weak spot near the Veermyk sluice, that he fell from
the scaffolding, and was taken home 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
THE SILVER SKATES. i5
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
16 HANS BRINKER; OR,
THE SILVER SKATES.
DAME BRINKER earned a scanty 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 upon 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 con-
"Ah! children, he was so good and steady," she would
sometimes say, "and as wise as a lawyer. Even the Bur-
gomaster would stop to ask him a question, and now
alack! he don't know his wife and little ones. You re-
member 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
"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 may be; and put the shoe
on him. His poor feet are like ice half the time, but I
THE SILVER SKATES. 17
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
Nearly all the out-door work, as well as the house-
hold labor, was performed by Hans and Gretel. At cer-
tain seasons of the year the children went out day after
day to gather peat, which they would stow away in
square, brick-like pieces, for fuel. At other times, when
home-work permitted, Hans rode the towing-horses on
the canals, earning a few stivers* 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, home-made stilts better than any
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 school-house 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:
t"Leer, leer! jou luigaart, of dit endje touw zal je leerenl"
It was only in winter that Gretel and Hans could be
*A stiver is worth about two cents of our money.
t(Learn! Learn! you idler, or this rope's end shall teach
HANS BRINKER; OR,
spared to attend school; and for the past month they had
been kept at home because their mother needed their ser-
vices. 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 market place.
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 flit-
ted 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 sacque;
and, near by, 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 lead-
ing 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 law-
giver or doctor, who with folded arms was skating leis-
urely toward the town; or a chain of girls would sud-
*Ludwig, Gretel and Carl were named after German friends.
The Dutch form would be Lodewyk, Grietje and KareL
THE SILVER SKATES. 19
denly 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, from their superb strappings, and dazzling run-
ners 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 courtesy, 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 work-people, with
weary eyes, hastening to their shops and factories; mar-
ket-women with loads upon their heads; peddlers bend-
ing with their packs; barge-men 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, towards the
distant school. One and all wore skates excepting, in-
deed, 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 passers-by, 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 a 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."
Every one panted and looked at Rychie Korbes, who
was their acknowledged spokeswoman.
HANS BRINKER; OR,
"Why," said Rychie, "we are to have a grand skating
match on the twentieth, on *Mevrouw van Gleck's birth-
day. It's all Hilda's work. They are going to give a
splendid prize to the best skater."
"Yes," chimed in a 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 the 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 sundry of 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 opinion broke
"The girls' pair are 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 a breath.
Katrinka looked at them with bewildered eyes.
"Who is to try?" she asked.
"All of us," answered Rychie. "It will be such fun t
And you must, too, Katrinka. But it's school time now,
we will talk it all over at noon. Oh! you will join of
Katrinka, without replying, made a graceful pirouette,
and laughing out a coquettish-"Don't you hear the last
*Mrs. or Madame (pronounced MEzFRow).
THE SILVER SKATES. 21
bell? Catch me!"-darted off toward the school-house,
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 on-
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.
22 HANS BRINKER; OR,
HANS AND GRETEL FIND A FRIEND.
AT noon our young friends poured forth from the
school-house intent upon having an hour's practicing
upon the canal.
They had skated but a few moments when Carl Schum-
mel said mockingly to Hilda:
"There's a pretty pair just coming upon the ice! The
little rag-pickers! Their skates must have been a pres-
ent 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
THE SILVER SKATES.
you look cold. You should wear more clothing, little
Gretel, who had nothing else to wear, tried to laugh as
"I am not so very little. I am past twelve years old."
"Oh, I beg your pardon. You see I am nearly four-
teen, and so large of my age that other girls seem small
to me, but that is nothing. Perhaps you will shoot up far
above me yet; not unless you dress more warmly, though
-shivering girls never grow."
Hans flushed as he saws tears rising in Gretel's eyes.
"My sister has not complained of the cold; but this is
bitter weather they say--" and he looked sadly upon
"It is nothing," said Gretel. "I am often warm-too
warm when I am skating. You are good jufvrouw* 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 embar-
rassment, "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. Any one may enter for the
Gretel looked wistfully at Hans, who tugging at his
cap, answered respectfully:
*Miss-Young lady (pronounced YUFFROW). In studied or
polite address it would be jongvrowe (pronounced YOUNG-
24 HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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
Gretel's eyes twinkled with fun as she thought of
Hans' 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* left, and they
would buy but one pair of skates, at the furthest.
Looking down with a sigh at the two pair 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.
"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 von 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
*A kwartje is a small silver coin worth one quarter of a
guilder, or 10 cents in American currency.
THE SILVER SKATES. 25
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
"That I will, lady, with all my heart, we have white-
wood in the house, fine as ivory; you shall have one
to-morrow," 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, outstrip-
ping 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 remem-
ber how the mother said it would bring us luck, and how
she cried when Janzoon Kolp shot him? And she said it
would bring him trouble. But the luck has come to us at
last! Now, Hans, if mother sends us to town to-morrow
you can buy the skates in the market-place."
Hans shook his head. "The young lady would have
HANS BRINKER; OR,
given us the money to buy skates; but if I earn it, Gretel,
it shall be spent for wool. You must have a warm
"On!" 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 hum-
ming '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 hor-
ror of tears, or emotion of any kind, and most of all, he
dreaded to see his sister's 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 such a stingy as that; but I want you to have
them, and then when I get bigger they'll do for me-
oh-h-count the pieces, Hans. Did ever you see so
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,
boy-like, 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 distance most
of the boys on the canal. Then, too, Gretel's argument
was so 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
"No, Gretel," he answered at last, "I can wait. Some
THE SILVER SKATES. 27
day 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 ?" and Gretel clapped her hands
Poor Hans! This was a strong temptation, but he
pushed it away from him, brave-hearted fellow that he
"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
"Hans! Gretel!" called out a familiar voice.
"Coming, mother !" and they hastened toward the cot-
tage, 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
28 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 Fairy-
land, 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
"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 8 on the ice, to say nothing of a huge P, then
a jump, and an H, glided onward until he found himself
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 sud-
den conviction that his little sister needed a wooden chain
just like Hilda's.
Two days afterward, on St. Nicholas' Eve, Hans, hav-
ing burned three candle-ends, and cut his thumb into the
bargain, stood in the market-place at Amsterdam, buying
another pair of skates.
THE SILVER SKATES. 29
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
"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
HANS BRINKER; OR,
like a picture-only I don't like those stocking things on
"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
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?" turning her head from side to
"Oh, ever so much, mother. It's b-e-a-u-tifull 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
"Ah, mother," he answered, "you need 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 to-night, if the mother lets us."
At the very threshold he turned to say-"Your spin-
ning-wheel wants a new treadle, mother."
"You can make it, Hans."
THE SILVER SKATES.
"So I can. That will take no money. But you need
feathers, and wool and meal, and-"
"There, there I That will do. Your silver cannot buy
everything. Ah! Hans, if our stolen money would but
come back on this bright Saint Nicholas Eve, how glad
we would be! Only last night I prayed to the good
"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 some-
times 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,
"Why to never give the thieves a wink of sleep till
they brought it back, to be sure, if he's 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,
"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 ?" he asked mysteriously.
HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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,
"No, indeed; and your father was a shrewd man up to
the last moment. He was too steady and thrifty for silly
"Where did the watch come from, I wonder," mut-
tered 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 dyke was in danger. Ah! the waters were
terrible that holy 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 starv-
ing than this before we turn faithless to the father!"
THE SILVER SKATES. 33
A memory of some such scene crossed her son's mind
now; for, after giving a heavy sigh, and filliping 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
"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
"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 with 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
"Never!" cried Dame Brinker, taking the last stitch
from her needle with a jerk, and laying the unfinished
34 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 con-
fessed by this 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 cop-
per and silver-aye, and gold. You may well open your
eyes, Gretel. I used to laugh and tell the father it wasi
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
THE SILVER SKATES. 35
a new chimney and a good winter-room for the cow;
but my man forsooth 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 sea 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 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
The mother's voice sounded so strangely, and her eye
was so bright, that Hans, with a new anxiety, laid his
hand upon her shoulder.
36 HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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.
THE SILVER SKATES.
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 sud-
denly 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
"Hoity! Toity! pretty talk we're having, and Saint
Nicholas' Eve almost here! What wonder the yarn
pricks my fingers! Come, Gretel, take this cent,* and
while Hans is trading for the skates you can buy a
waffle in the market-place.
"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 the 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
*The Dutch cent is worth less than half of an American
HANS BRINKER; OR,
Heireen Gracht.* That will give us three quarter-guild-
ers 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 to-night. But we will be merry too. Hans
vill have beautiful new skates,-and then there'll be the
waffles! Oh-h! Don't break them, brother Hans. Wrap
them well, and button them under your jacket very care-
"Certainly," replied Hans quite gruff with pleasure
"Oh! mother!" cried Gretel in high glee, "soon you
will be busied with the father, and now you are only knit-
ting. 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 will-
ing to hear the story, stood carelessly swinging his skates
against the fire-place.
"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
*A street in Amsterdam.
THE SILVER SKATES. 39
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
"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 con-
trive 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 every-day
matters to him.
"That was not the worst of it," continued Dame Brin-
ker, 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
"OH!" cried Gretel, horror-stricken, though she had
often heard the story before. Hans still continued un-
moved, and seemed to think that pickling was the best
that could be done under the circumstances.
40 HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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 chil-
dren. 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 the 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 dust from the table, and
handing the finished hose to Hans, all in an instant-
"Come, 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 SILVER SKATES. 41
the hearth-stone-"if my money would bring a meester*
from Amsterdam to see the father, something might yet
"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 the 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 affec-
tionate 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.
*Doctor (dokter in Dutch), called meester by the lower class.
42 HANS BRINKER; OR,
HANS HAS HIS WAY.
BROEK, with its quiet, spotless streets, its frozen rivu-
lets, its yellow brick pavements, and bright wooden
houses, was near by. It was a village where neatness
and show were in full blossom; but the inhabitants
seemed to be either asleep or dead.
Not a foot-print marred the sanded paths, where peb-
bles and sea-shells lay in fanciful designs. Every win-
dow-shutter was closed as tightly as though air and sun-
shine were poison; and the massive front doors were
never opened except on the occasion of a wedding,
christening, or a funeral.
Serene clouds of tobacco-smoke were floating through
hidden apartments, 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 cut out in growing box, and seemed 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 springtime, when
they could be wound up, and rival their owners in anima-
tion; and the shining, tiled roofs, mosaic court-yards 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
THE SILVER SKATES. 43
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.* 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
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 cer-
tainly was not a very jolly or sociable looking personage,
nor one that a well-trained boy would care to accost
But Hans was bidden, and that, too, by a voice he sel-
dom disregarded-his own conscience.
"Here comes the greatest doctor in the world," whis-
pered the voice, "God has sent him; you have no right to
buy skates when you might, with the same money, pur-
chase such aid for your father !"
*Pronounced EYE, an arm of the Zuider Zee.
44 HANS BRINKER; OR,
The wooden runners gave an exultant squeak. Hun-
dreds 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 for-
bidding. Hans' heart was in his throat, but .he found
voice enough to cry out, just as he was passing:
The great man halted, and sticking out his thin under
lip, 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-"
"Humph!" 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 with 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 dykes."
"Hey ? what ?" cried the doctor beginning to listen.
Hans told the whole story in an incoherent way, dash-
ing off a tear once or twice as he talked, and finally end-
ing with an earnest,
"Oh, do see him, Mynheer. His body is well-it is
only his mind-I know 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
What was the matter with the old doctor? A bright-
ness like sunlight beamed from his face. His eyes were
kind and moist; the hand that had lately clutched his
THE SILVER SKATES.
cane, as if preparing to strike, was laid gently upon
"Put up your money, boy, I do not want it-we will
see your father. It is a hopeless case, I fear. How long
did you say ?"
"Ten years, Mynheer," sobbed Hans, radiant with
"Ah! a bad case; but I shall see him. Let me think.
To-day 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 hope-
less case," he muttered to himself, "but the boy pleases
me. His eye is like my poor Laurens. Confound it,
shall I never forget that young scoundrel!" and, scowl-
ing more darkly than ever, the doctor pursued his silent
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.
HANS BRINKER; OR,
INTRODUCING JACOB POOT AND HIS COUSIN.
HANS and Gretel had a fine frolic early on that Saint
Nicholas' 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 had
.yielded to the children's entreaties for an hour's skating
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 beaten 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
"I say, boys, let's put a stop to those young rag-pickers
from the idiot's cottage joining the race. Hilda must be
THE SILVER SKATES.
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
"Certainly we will!" interposed Peter Van Holp, pur-
posely 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
"Ha! ha!" laughed little Voostenwalbert Schimmelpen-
ninck, 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 by-standers and by-skaters set up an
applauding shout at this brave witticism; and Carl, feel-
ing 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 approach-
ing. They could not distinguish his features at first; but
as he was the stoutest boy in the neighborhood their(
could be no mistaking his form.
"Hola! here comes Fatty!" exclaimed Carl, "and
there's some one with him, a slender fellow, a stranger."
HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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 new comers. Ben-
jamin soon made up his mind that the Hollanders, not-
withstanding their queer gibberish, were a fine set of
If the truth must be told, Jacob had announced his
cousin as "Penchamin Dopps," and called him 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 means wife, and ja, yes; and
spoorweg, railway; kanaals, canals; stoomboat, steam-
boat; ophaalbruggen, drawbridges; buiten plasten, coun-
try seats; mynheer, 'mister;' tweegevegt, duer or two-
fights; koper, copper; zadel, saddle; but he could not
THE SILVER SKATES.
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
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
"And now, boys," added Jacob when he had told the
plan, "who will go with us ?"
*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.
HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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
Now in Holland very young children wear a thin, pad.
ded 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 baby-
hood and childhood when they leave it off. Voost had
arrived at this dignity several years before; consequently
Jacob's insult was rather too great for endurance.
"Look out what you say!" he squeaked. "Lucky for
you when you can leave off your pads-you're padded
"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 allow-
ing the now popular Voost to join the party, if his parents
"Good-night!" sang out the happy youngster, skating
homeward with all his might.
"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."
THE SILVER SKATES.
"All right!" responded Jacob, who was not much of a
Ludwig had been regarding his brother with enthusi-
"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 which 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 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 Lud-
wig. "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:
"Hello! 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
52 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 SILVER SKATES.
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 ot toys up to our house-tops, and then bound
down the chimney to fill the stockings so hopefully hung
by the fire-place. His friends called him Santa Claus,
and those who were most intimate ventured to say "Old
Knick." It was said that he originally came from Hol-
land. Doubtless he did; but, if so, he certainly like many
other foreigners changed his ways very much after land-
ing 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
mitre, his crozier 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 van-
ishes for a year.
Christmas day is devoted by the Hollanders to church
rites and pleasant family visiting. It is on Saint Nicholas'
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
HANS BRINKER; OR,
bad during the past year, he is quite sure to tell them so.
Sometimes he carries a birch rod under his arm and
advises the parents to give them scoldings in place of con-
fections, 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 after-
wards, the saint made his appearance in half the homes
of Holland. He visited the king's palace and in the self
same 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 ad-
mitted 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.
Father, mother and grandmother looked on approvingly;
so did grandfather, before he spread his large red hand-
kerchief over his face, leaving only the top of his scull-
cap 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
THE SILVER SKATES. 55
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 generally hung in the
shadow and made no sign; but to-night 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. Passers-by halted to catch the merry
laughter floating, through curtain and sash, into the
street, then skipped on their way with a startled con-
sciousness that the village was wide awake. At last mat-
ters 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
whale-bone (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 at once in a ring, and moved slowly around tihe
little fellow, lifting their eyes, meanwhile, for the saint
56 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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, to-night!
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 towards 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 spec-
tacles; Mynheer van Gleck, seated by the fire-place, slowly
drew his meerschaum from his mouth, while Hilda and
the other children settled themselves beside him in an
The knocking was heard again.
"Come in," said Madame, softly.
THE SILVER SKATES. 57
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
"Children, I greet ye all! Hendrick, Hilda, Broom,
Katy, Huygens, and Lucretia! And thy cousins, Wol-
fert, Diedrich, Mayken, Voost, and Katrina! Good chil-
dren 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. Died-
rich, 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
As Katy burst into a frightened cry, the Saint gra-
ciously remained silent until she was soothed.
"Master Broom," he resumed, "I warn thee that boys
who are in the habit of putting snuff upon the. foot-stove
of the school-mistress may one day be discovered and
receive a flogging--"
[Master Broom colored and stared in great astonish-
"But thou art such an excellent scholar, I shall make
thee no further reproof.
58 HANS BRINKER; OR,
"Thou, Hendrick, didst distinguish thyself in the arch-
ery match last Spring, and hit the Doel,* 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 too little time for thy proper studies.
"Lucretia and Hilda shall have a blessed sleep to-night.
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. Good-
ness, 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. To-morrow you shall find more sub-
stantial proofs that I have been in your midst. Fare-
With these words came a great shower of sugar-plums,
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 apart-
ment-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
good-night kisses, a grand family-procession to the upper
THE SILVER SKATES. 59
floor, merry farewells at bedroom doors-and silence, at
last, reigned in the Van Gleck mansion.
Early the next morning, the door was solemnly un-
locked 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. Every one had gifts, from grandfather down
to the baby.
Little Katy clapped her hands with glee, and vowed,
inwardly, that the cat should never know another mo-
Hendrick capered about the room, flourishing a su-
perb 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 bet-
ter. 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 Em-
60 HANS BRINKER; OR,
blems-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 cer-
tain 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 Jacob Cats, so she 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, Shakspeare, 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 bun-
dle for every day of your life. You can guide a state
with Cats' 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
ard through. What did he say ?
"'Oh, Lord, let me obtain this from Thee
To live with patience, and to die with pleasure!"*
"Did patience mean folding his hands? No, he was
a lawyer, statesman, ambassador, farmer, philosopher,
*0 Heere laat my dat van uwen hand verwerven,
Ta leven met gedult, en met vermaak te sterven.
THE SILVER SKATES.
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 aston-
ishment 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 in-
finite delight. At the last, little Huygens taking advan-
tage 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 well for the little
creatures that it had. The Saint had left no ticket for
them to attend a lecture on Jacob 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 su-
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, assur-
ing 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
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?
62 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 ?"
"Lambert von Mounen!"
"[That's lucky! Couldn't get on without you, as
you're the only one who can speak English.] Ludwig
"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 dyke 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. Al-
THE SILVER SKATES.
though Ben had been there twice since his arrival in Hol-
land, he saw much to excite wonder; but his Dutch com-
rades, having lived near by all their lives, considered it
the most matter-of-course place in the world. Everything
interested Ben; the tall houses with their forked chim-
neys and gable ends facing the street; the merchants'
ware-rooms, perched high up under the roofs of their
dwellings, with long, arm-like cranes hoisting and lower-
ing goods past the household windows; the grand public
buildings erected upon wooden piles driven deep into the
marshy ground; the narrow streets; the canals every-
where crossing the city; the bridges; the locks; the vari-
ous 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 cobble-'stone pavement
from the foot-path of brick-and if he rested his eyes
half way, 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 dog-cart, 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 cobble-stones, (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
HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 manu-
facture. 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 out-
right 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 safe keeping. Con-
sequently Master Ben concluded to devote all his ener-
gies to sight seeing, and to think as seldom as possible of
He made a hasty call at the Marine school and envied
the sailor-students their full-rigged brig and their sleep-
ing-berths swung over their trunks or lockers; he peeped
into the Jews' Quarter of the city, where the rich dia-
mond cutters and squalid old-clothes men dwell, and
wisely resolved to keep away from it; he also enjoyed
hasty glimpses of the four principal avenues of Amster-
dam-the Prinsen gracht, Keizers gracht, Heeren gracht
and Singel. These are semi-circular in form, and the
first three average more than two miles in length. A
canal runs through the centre of each, with a well paved
THE SILVER SKATES. 65
road on either side, lined with stately buildings. Rows
of naked elms, bordering the canal, cast a net-work 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 house-wives, and to soil their spotless
mansions is considered scarcely less than a crime. Every-
where a hearty contempt is felt for those who neglect to
rub the soles of their shoes to a polish before crossing the
door-sill; 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 her 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 be-
lieve that the sleepy Dutchmen he saw around him, smok-
ing 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 out-breaks
HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 unmanage-
able, 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 sev-
enty thousand hundred-weight of corn in them; and that
was too much."
It was a long story for Jacob to tell and he stopped to
"How do you know there were seventy thousand hun-
dred-weight 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
THE SILVER SKATES. 67
"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 Delft Haven-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 mast-head 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 Eng-
lish conquered him at last. I remember all about it now.
He was killed somewhere on the Dutch coast, in an en-
gagement in which the British fleet was victorious. Too
bad," he added maliciously, "wasn't it ?"
"Ahem! where are we?" exclaimed Lambert changing
the subject. "Hello! the others are way ahead of us-
all but Jacob. Whew! how fat he is! He'll break down
before we're half-way."
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.
68 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 pic-
ture 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 in-
stances 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 air-tight boxes as
soon as he had finished using them for the day. Accord-
ing to all accounts, the studio itself must have been as
close as a band-box. The artist always entered it on tip-
toe, 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 this 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,
THE SILVER SKATES. 69
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 specta-
cles 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 17th 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
master-pieces of Rembrandt and Van der Heist, and went
into raptures over an ugly picture by Van der Venne, rep-
resenting a sea-fight between the Dutch and English.
They also stood spell-bound before a painting of two little
urchins, one of whom was taking soup and the other eat-
ing 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 !"
70 HANS BRINKER; OR,
They hastened to the canal.
"Skates on! Are you ready? ONE, Two-hollo!
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 anx-
iously 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
The boys caught his meaning. Every skate was off in
a twinkling. Peter had the presence of mind to scoop
up a cap-full of water from the hole, and off they scam-
pered 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
"What now! None of this racket! Here, you beer-
barrel, wake up!" and master Jacob received a very un-
As soon as Peter saw that Jacob's condition was not
serious, he hastened to the street to empty his unfortu-
nate cap. While he was stuffing in his handkerchief to
prevent the already frozen crown from touching his head,
THE SILVER SKATES. 71
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
"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
72 HANS BRINKER; OR,
BIG MANIAS AND LITTLE ODDITIES.
WHILE skating along at full speed, they heard the cars
from Amsterdam coming close behind them.
"Hollo!" 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 some-
This excitement over, they began to travel more
leisurely, and indulge in conversation and frolic. Some-
times 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 snow-storm they
are expected to sweep the feathery covering away before
it hardens into a marble pretty to look at but very unwel-
come to skaters. Now and then the boys so far forgot'
their dignity as to clamber among the ice-bound 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 straiter than the canal upon which
our party were skating, and nothing straiter than the
long rows of willow trees that stood, bare and wispy,
along the bank. On the opposite side, lifted high above
THE SILVER SKATES.
the surrounding country, lay the carriage road on top of
the great dyke 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 ice-boats, its push-chairs and its queer
little sleds, light as cork, flying over the ice by means of
~ron-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 Hol-
land. 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 some-
thing 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 ex-
citement ran high all over Holland, and in England too
for that matter."
"Hardly in England,* I think," said Ben, "but I am
not sure, as I was not there at the tune."
*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
74 HANS BRINKER; OR,
"Ha! ha! that's true, unless you are over two hundred
years old. Well, I tell you, sir, there was never any-
thing 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 I56o. 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."
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
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 of its value, he took out his penknife and, cutting
the bulb in two, became very much interested in his investiga-
tions. Suddenly the owner appeared, and pouncing furiously
upon him, asked him if he knew what he was doing. "Peel-
ing a most extraordinary onion," replied the philosopher.
"Hundert tousant tuyvel!' shouted the Dutchman, "it's an
ADMIRAL VANDER EYK!" "Thank you," replied the traveler.
immediately writing the name in his note book, 'pray are
these very common in your country?" "Death and the tuy-
vel!" screamed the Dutchman, "come before the Syndic and
you shall see!" In spite of his struggles the poor investiga-
tor, followed by an indignant mob, was taken through the
streets to a magistrate. Soon he learned to his dismay that
L.h 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.
THE SILVER SKATES. 7S
"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 transla-
tion from Beckman, only day before yesterday. Well,
sir, it was great. Everyone speculated in Tulips, even
the barge-men 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 geese 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 reduced to beggary
in an hour. As old Beckman says, "the bubble was burst
"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, signify-
ing turban ?"
"I had forgotten that," answered Lambert, "but it's a
capital idea. Just fancy a party of Turks in full head-
gear, squatted upon a lawn-perfect tulip bed! Ha! ha!
["There," groaned Ludwig to himself, "he's been tell-
ing Lambert something wonderful about Tulips-I knew
76 HANS BRINKER; OR,
"The fact is," continued Lambert, "you can conjure up
quite a human picture out of a tulip bed in bloom, espe-
cially when it is nodding and bobbing in the wind. Did
you ever notice it ?"
"Not I. It strikes me, Van Mounen, that you Hol-
landers 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
"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 Haar-
lem 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."
"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
THE SILVER SKATES. 77
bridges over the ditch. Then they have coffee and cakes;
besides 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
to me at all."
"How very different you are from the Poots!" ex-
claimed Lambert, who had been listening in a sort of
brown study, "and yet you are cousins-I cannot under-
"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 his 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 acci-
dentally acquainted with Jacob's father while on a busi-
ness visit to Rotterdam. They soon talked over their re-
lationship-in French, by-the-way-and they have corre-
sponded in that 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 differ-
HANS BRINKER; OR,
"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
"Oh, my reflection, my apparition. Ben Dobbs number
"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 pf
entering it again until the time of his sister Kenau's wed-
ding, 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 par-
lor 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 these 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 nod-
ding Mandarin in the corner, under the chestnut trees,
is ridiculous, only fit for children to laugh at. And then
THE SILVER SKATES. 79
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, condescend-
ingly, "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
"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. Hallo! good Captain van
Holp," called out Lambert in Dutch, "what say you to
stopping at yonder farm-house and warming our toes ?"
"Who is cold ?" asked Peter, turning around.
"Benjamin Dobbs shall be warmed," and the party was
brought to a halt.
8o HANS BRINKER; OR,
ON THE WAY TO HAARLEM.
ON approaching the door of the farm-house the boys
suddenly found themselves in the midst of a lively domes-
tic scene. A burly Dutchman came rushing out, closely
followed by his dear vrouw, and she was beating him
smartly with a long handled warming-pan. The expres-
sion 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
"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 windows. Ben was half inclined
THE SILVER SKATES.
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 be-
havior, and how blank she looked when Ben politely but
firmly refused to take any black bread and sourkrout!
How she pulled off Jacob's mitten, which was torn at the
thum, and mended it before his eyes, biting off the thread
with her 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 gin-
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 Zwanenburg Castle with its massive
sione front, and its gate-way towers, each surmounted
with a sculptured swan.
"Halfweg,* boys," said Peter, "off with your skates."
8z HANS BRINKER; OR,
"You see," explained Lambert to his companion, "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 dykes
and sluice-gates, or there would be wet work at once.
The sluice arrangements here are supposed to be some-
thing 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 bleach-
eries 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 per-
ceive. 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 dyke matters. The castle was once the resi-
dence of the celebrated Christiaan Brunings."
"What about him?" asked Ben.
"Peter could answer you better than I," said Lam-
bert, "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 Brun-
ings. He is never tired of telling us of the great engi-
neer-how good he was, and how learned, and how when,
THE SILVER SKATES. 83
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 dykes, and other defences against the
sea. There's no counting the improvements he made in
dykes 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. Brun-
ings 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 won-
der 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 proud-Heigho! 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 un-
84 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 young-
est (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 or 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 passers-by had smiled as they listened.
"Come, boys! it's nearly tiffin*-hour," he said, as they
neared a coffee-house on the main street." We must
have something more solid than the pretty maiden's gin-
gerbread-" and the captain plunged his hands into his
pockets as if to say "there's money enough here to feed
"Hello!" cried Lambert, "what ails the man?"
Peter, pale and staring, was clapping his hands upon
THE SILVER SKATES.
his breast and sides-he looked like one suddenly becom-
"He's sick!" cried Ben.
"No, he's lost something," said Carl.
Peter could only gasp-"the pocket book! 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 under jacket-"
Peter obeyed mechanically. He even took off his hat
and looked into it-then thrust his hand desperately into
"It's gone, boys," he said at last, in a hopeless tone.
"No tiffin for us, nor dinner neither. 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. Don't one of you know any one here who would
lend us a few guilders ?"
Each boy looked into five blank faces. Then some-
thing 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 peo-
1ple here, rich ones, too, but father would flog me soundly,
if I borrowed a cent from any one. He has 'AN HONEST
MAN NEED NOT BORROW,' written over the gateway of
"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
86 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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 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 Schimmel-
penninck would have made you a better captain. I could
pommel myself for bringing such a disappointment upon
"Do it then," growled Carl. "Pooh," he added, "we all
know 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 I will let you suffer for my careless-
THE SILVER SKATES.
ness," 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
"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 BRINKER; OR,
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, pleas-
antly, "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' 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 in-
clined to linger with their captain.
"I am glad to see you, Hans," responded Peter, cheer-
ily, "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."
THE SILVER SKATES. 89
"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 reached the muffled
ears of the fine young gentleman who, under a full pres-
sure 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.
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, fo)
making the white-wood chain, telling me that I must bu)
"Yes, I remember."
"I saw your purse then; it was of yellow leather."
"And where did you find it to-day ?"
"I left my home this morning, mynheer, in great trou
ble, and as I skated, I took no heed until I stumble,
against some lumber, and while I was rubbing my knee K
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 prob-
ably flirted out the purse at the same time. It would have
been gone but for you, Hans. Here"-pouring out the
90 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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
"I like that boy, rich or poor," he thought to himself,
then added aloud, "May I ask about this trouble of yours,
"Ah, mynheer, it is a sad case-but I have waited here
too long. I am going to Leyden to see the great Doctor
"Doctor Boekman!" exclaimed Peter in astonishment.
"Yes, mynheer, and I have not a moment to lose. Good-
'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 skim-
ming the ice so easily and lightly as they skated on to-
gether that they seemed scarce conscious of moving, "we
are going to stop at Leyden, and if you are going there
only with a message to Doctor Boekman cannot I do the
errand for you? The boys may be too tired to skate so
far to-day, but I will promise to see him early to-mor-
row 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
THE SILVER SKATES. 91
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. My sister
Gretel screamed out that he was holding the mother close
to the very coals, I could not tell! 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 burnt,
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
For a moment the two boys moved on in silence-
"It is terrible," said Peter at last-"How is he to-day ?"
"Very sick, mynheer-"
"Why go for Dr. Boekman, Hans? There are others
92 HANS BRINKER; OR,
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, at Broek. Tell
her I bade you see her; and, Hans Brinker-not as a re-
ward-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 till 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
"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."