I W.O&LOWMn Lamury
~I hr, AL 4,Rbe
A STORY OF LIFE
MARY MAPES DODGE-
Nebi 'lmsterbatn Ebition
ILLUSTRATED BY ALLEN B. DOGGETT
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, AND COMPANY
St. Dunstan's % housee
FETTER LANE, FLEET STREET, E.C.
TO Ce ?ilber Rphatec
Copyright, T896, by Charles Scribner's Sons,
for the United States of America.
Printed by John Wilson and Son,
Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A.
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THE story of Hans Brinker, or of any boy born and bred
in Holland, cannot be fitly told without including some-
thing of the story of Holland itself, of its history, its oddities,
and the leading characteristics of its heroic and thrifty people.
All these must be borne in mind, for some of the traits peculiar
to his race are ingrained in every Hollander, young or old, and
Holland is as different from Elsewhere as can be imagined.
Therefore, necessary and careful descriptions of Dutch life
and customs have been given in the narrative, and many of
the incidents are drawn directly from life. Even the won-
derful experiences of Raff Brinker are founded strictly upon
While acknowledging my obligations to many well-known
writers on Dutch history, literature and art, I turn with espe-
cial gratitude to two kind friends, natives of Holland, who,
after their marriage, had taken up their abode in this country.
With generous zeal, they patiently answered questions, and
took many a backward glance at their country for my sake,
seeing it as it looked, years ago, when the humble home of
the Brinkers crouched by the sheltering dike in sunlight and
It was my tardy good fortune to visit Holland not long after
this book was written, and see with my own eyes the land I
had tried to picture for my readers. The Brinker cottage
was empty, and many things in Holland had changed since the
days when Hans and his little sister skated on the frozen "Y."
But, to my joy, every detail of the earlier picture of the coun-
try was verified. Holland was still wonderful,-in fact, more
wonderful; for time only increased the marvel of its not being
washed away by the sea.
Its cities have grown, and, in some of them, national cos-
tumes have given place to the conventional European dress of
the day. A few of its peculiarities have been brushed away
by contact with other nations; but it is Holland still, and always
will be; full of oddity, courage and industry, the pluckiest
little country on earth.
Through the liberality of the publishers, this story of Dutch
life is now presented in a more beautiful form than ever be-
fore. Mr. Allen B. Doggett, who made a journey to Holland
for the express purpose of illustrating this latest and best edition
of the story, has done his work with rare skill and discretion
and appreciative fidelity to nature.
While thanking the illustrator for his artistic and sympathetic
work, I must again express my gratitude to the publishers, the
critics, and, above all, the boys and girls of America, England,
France and Holland for the kindness they have shown toward
this simple story of Hans and Gretel and the Silver Skates.
M. M. D.
I. HANS AND GRETEL ... .. I
II. HOLLAND .......... 10
III. THE SILVER SKATES . .... 25
IV. HANS AND GRETEL FIND A FRIEND. .. 36
V. SHADOWS IN THE HOME .. . 46
VI. SUNBEAMS . . . 54
VII. HANS HAS HIS WAY . .. 61
VIII. INTRODUCING JACOB POOT AND HIS COUSIN . 66
IX. THE FESTIVAL OF ST. NICHOLAS . 73
X. WHAT THE BOYS SAW AND DID IN AMSTERDAM 84
XI. BIG MANIAS AND LITTLE ODDITIES . 97
XII. ON THE WAY TO HAARLEM . 107
XIII. A CATASTROPHE .. . 113
XIV. HANS . . ... II8
XV. HOMES . ... . ..... 125
XVI. HAARLEM-THE BOYS HEAR VOICES . 132
XVII. THE MAN WITH FOUR HEADS . . 141
XVIII. FRIENDS IN NEED . . 147
XIX. ON THE CANAL . .. 156
XX. JACOB POOT CHANGES THE PLAN .. 165
XXI. MYNHEER KLEEF AND HIS BILL OF FARE 173
XXII. THE RED LION BECOMES DANGEROUS . 177
XXIII. BEFORE THE COURT . ... .194
XXIV. THE BELEAGUERED CITIES .... .. .198
XXV. LEYDEN .... . 205
XXVI. THE PALACE AND THE WOOD . 213
XXVII. THE MERCHANT PRINCE AND THE PRINCESS 217
XXVIII. THROUGH THE HAGUE . . 233
XXIX. A DAY or REST . . 242
XXX. HOMEWARD BOUND . .. 246
XXXI. BOYS AND GIRLS .. . ... 251
XXXII. THE CRISIS . . 261
XXXIII. GRETEL AND HILDA .. . ... 272
XXXIV. THE AWAKENING . . ... 280
XXXV. BONES AND TONGUES . .. 286
XXXVI. A NEW ALARM .... ...... 290
XXXVII. THE FATHER'S RETURN . . 295
XXXVIII. THE THOUSAND GUILDERS . ... 302
XXXIX. GLIMPSES . . .. 308
XL. LOOKING FOR WORK . ... .312
XLI. THE FAIRY GODMOTHER .... .320
XLII. THE MYSTERIOUS WATCH ..... 328
XLIII. A DISCOVERY . ... 338
XLIV. THE RACE ........ ... .349
XLV. JOY IN THE COTTAGE .... .370
XLVI. THE MYSTERY OF THOMAS HIGGS .... .379
XLVII. BROAD SUNSHINE . .. 383
XLVIII. CONCLUSION ... .. 390
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
THE RACE . .
THE WOODEN SKATES . .
FISHING THROUGH THE ICE . .
HANS AND GRETEL . .
A PAIR OF SKATERS . .
THEIR MOTHER'S TALL FORM STOOD IN THE
LOWER THAN THE LEVEL OF THE SEA .
A HOME ON A CANAL-BOAT . .
EVEN THE HORSES WEAR A WIDE STOOL ON EACH HOOF .
CHILDREN AT PLAY IN HOLLAND . ....
THE POLE OF A DUTCH WAGON .. ....
A DUTCH WATER-CARRIER ....
ON THE DUNES . .
WINDMILLS ALONG THE CANAL . .
A DUTCH PRISONER FORCED TO PUMP OR DROWN .
VESSELS HITCHED TO A FENCE-POST . .
WOMEN TOWING A PAKSCHUYT . .
DAME BRINKER AT HER SPINNING-WHEEL .
HANS AND GRETEL GATHERING PEAT . .
xii List of Illustrations
RUNNING ON STILTS . . .. 30
A BURGOMASTER . . . 32
A VOLENDAM MARKET-WOMAN . .. 33
"HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT? . . .. 34
"WE CANNOT TAKE THIS MONEY," PANTED HANS 39
THE MARKET-PLACE, AMSTERDAM . . 45
" O MOTHER, MOTHER HOW PRETTY YOU ARE 47
HANS AND GRETEL HEAR THE STORY OF ST. NICHOLAS 57
BY THE TOWN OF BROEK . . .. 61
HANS AND DOCTOR BOEKMAN . ...... 64
JACOB AND BEN : "A STREAK OF LEAN AND A STREAK OF FAT" 68
READY FOR A TUMBLE . . .. 70
SANTA CLAUS . . 73
ST NICHOLAS IN FULL ARRAY STOOD BEFORE THEM 78
SHOES ON THE TABLE ON ST. NICHOLAS EVE .. 80
PETER CALLING THE ROLL . . .. 85
LONG ARM-LIKE CRANES, HOISTING AND LOWERING GOODS .86
A BRIDGE IN OLD AMSTERDAM . .. 87
SPIONNEN . . 88
THE DOGS TAKE A REST . . .. 89
GREASING SLED-RUNNERS WITH AN OILED RAG . 90
WHERE WAS JACOB? . . 96
ON THE FROZEN ZUYDER ZEE . . 97
A GUARD . . 98
THE TULIPS IN BLOOM . . . 99
A SUMMER-HOUSE IN HOLLAND . .. 103
" MAY WE ENTER AND WARM OURSELVES, JUFVROUW ? IO9
" IT'S GONE '! . . 114
"I THANK YOU, HANS BRINKER!' . 120
THE AANSPREEKER . 133
'THERE IS A WHITE CUSHION . . .134
IN THE CATHEDRAL . . 137
A LEAK IN THE DIKE WILL NO ONE COME? 152
List of Illustrations xiii
ON THE CANAL . 157
BEN'S M ISHAP . 160
AN ICE-BOAT . 163
"WILL YOUR WORSHIPS HAVE BEDS?" . .175
AT THE RED LION INN . . .. 179
A WARMING-PAN . 183
STILL THE THING MOVES, SLOWLY, SLOWLY .. 186
AT THIS MOMENT THE CHRYSALIS SAT ERECT . 189
"THERE'S YOUR MAN, MINE HOST" . .. 191
VAN DER W ERF . 200
CARRIER PIGEONS . 203
"DID I FRIGHTEN YOU ALL ? . ... 207
THE STADHUIS AT LEYDEN . . .. 208
A TRIPTYCH . 209
THE UNIVERSITY OF LEYDEN . . .. 210
REMBRANDT . .. 211
IN THE BOSCH . 214
WILLIAM OF ORANGE AND QUEEN MARY . 220
QUENTIN MATSYS'S WELL AT ANTWERP . .. 223
PETER THE GREAT . 227
THE BLACK CAVALRY . . .. 229
STORKS' NESTS ON THE ROOFS . .. 238
A GAPER . 239
A FISH-DEALER IN HIS DOG-CART . .. 240
FOOT-STOVES IN CHURCH . . .. 243
CONTRIBUTION BAGS . 245
PETER BIDDING HIS SISTER GOOD-BY . .. 247
A GUST OF W IND . . 252
PLAYING SKITTLES . 253
GRETEL TENDING GEESE . . 257
THE MEESTER CONFERS WITH HIS ASSISTANT . 263
"THE QUESTION IS EVERYTHING TO US, MYNHEER" 266
" IT IS RIGHT, MYNHEER. I CONSENT . 269
List of Illustrations
HILDA AND GRETEL AT THE COTTAGE . .. 276
" CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING ?". . . 279
RAFF BRINKER's AWAKENING . . .. 281
" MEAT, JELLY, WINE AND BREAD, A WHOLE BASKETFUL". 294
"DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS, FATHER?" . 299
THE HIDDEN MONEY WAS NOT THERE . 307
VISITORS W ITHIN . . 314
WAIT A MOMENT, IF YOU PLEASE, YOUNG MAN 317
" HUZZA, GIRLS, I'VE FOUND WORK ..... 321
"BURY THIS . 325
THE WATCH . 329
"I'M FLYING FROM MY COUNTRY" . .. 334
RAFF BRINKER PAYS HIS VROUW A COMPLIMENT 339
HANS AND THE MEESTER . . 344
"WHEN I CAN SERVE YOU, MYNHEER, I AM READY" 347
HOLLAND PEASANT-FOLK . . ... 351
EVERY MAN HAD HIS PIPE . . 353
THE FRENCH TRAVELLER . .... 356
" TAKE THIS STRAP- QUICK . . 364
"PETER HAS WON . . 367
THE INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE . ..... 381
"WOULD YOU LIKE TO BECOME A PHYSICIAN?" 387
DR. BRINKER WITH HIS BOYS AND GIRLS . .391
THE SILVER SKATES
OR, THE SILVER SKATES
HANS AND GRETEL
ON a bright December morning long ago, two poorly clad
children were kneeling upon the bank of a frozen
canal in Holland.
The sun had not yet appeared; but the gray sky was
parted near the horizon, and its edges shone crimson with the
coming day. Most of the good Hollanders were enjoying a
placid morning nap: even Mynheer von Stoppelnoze, that
worthy old Dutchman, was still slumbering "in beautiful
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 some-
thing upon their feet, not skates, certainly, but clumsy
pieces of wood narrowed and smoothed at their lower edge,
and pierced with holes, through which were threaded strings
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
How can I ? The string is too short."
Giving vent to a good-natured Dutch whistle, the English
of which was, that girls were troublesome creatures, he steered
You are foolish to wear such shoes, Gretel, when you
or, The Silver Skates
have a stout leather pair. Your klompen 1 would be better than
"Why, Hans! Do you forget? The father threw my
beautiful new shoes in the fire. Before I knew what he had
HANS AND GRETEL.
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
1 Wooden shoes.
Hans had taken a string from his pocket. Humming a
tune as he knelt beside her, he proceeded to fasten Gretel's
skate with all the force of his strong young arm.
Oh, oh! she cried in real pain.
With an impatient jerk, Hans unwound the string. He
would have cast it upon the ground in true big-brother style, had
he not just then spied a tear trickling down his sister's cheek.
I'11 fix it, never fear," he said with sudden tenderness;
" but we must be quick. The mother will need us soon."
Then he glanced inquiringly about him, first at the ground,
next at some bare willow-branches above his head, and finally at
the sky, now gorgeous with streaks of blue, crimson and gold.
Finding nothing in any of these localities to meet his need,
his eye suddenly brightened, as, with the air of a fellow who
knew what he was about, he took off his cap, and, removing
the tattered lining, adjusted it in a smooth pad over the top of
Gretel's aching foot.
Now," he cried triumphantly, at the same time arranging
the strings as briskly as his benumbed fingers would allow,
"can you bear some pulling ? "
Gretel drew up her lips as if to say, Hurt away," but made
no further response.
In another moment they were 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 beneath Hans'
feet. Next his strokes grew shorter, ending ofttimes with
or, The Silver Skates
a jerk, and, finally, he lay sprawling upon the ice, kicking
against the air with many a fantastic flourish.
Ha, ha laughed Gretel, that was a fine tumble." But
a tender heart was beating under her coarse blue jacket;
and, even as she laughed,
she came, with a graceful
sweep, close to her pros-
"Are you hurt, Hans
Oh, you are laughing!
Catch me now!" And
she darted away, shivering
A PAIR OF SKATERS.
no longer, but with cheeks all aglow and eyes sparkling with
Hans sprang'to his feet and started in brisk pursuit; but
it was no easy thing to catch Gretel. Before she had trav-
elled very far, her skates, too, began to squeak.
Believing that discretion was the better part of valor, she
turned suddenly and skated into her pursuer's arms.
Ha, ha I've caught you cried Hans.
"Ha, ha I caught you," she retorted, struggling to free
A boy and a girl whom they knew came skating toward them.
Just then a voice was heard calling, Hans Gretel! "
"It's the mother," said Hans, looking solemn in an instant.
By this time the canal was gilded with sunlight. The pure
morning air was very delightful, and skaters were gradually
increasing in numbers. It was hard to obey the summons.
But Gretel and Hans were good children. Without a thought
of yielding to the temptation to linger, they pulled off their
skates, leaving half the knots still tied. Hans, with his great
square shoulders, and bushy yellow hair, towered high above
his blue-eyed little sister, as they trudged homeward. He was
fifteen years old, and Gretel was only twelve. He was a
solid, hearty-looking boy, with honest eyes, and a brow that
seemed to bear a sign, "goodness within," just as the little
Dutch zomerhuisl wears a motto over its portal. Gretel was
lithe and quick. Her eyes had a dancing light in them; and,
while you looked at her cheek, the color paled and deepened
just as it does upon a bed of pink-and-white blossoms when
the wind is blowing.
As soon as the children turned from the canal, they were
near their parents' cottage. Their mother's tall form, arrayed
in jacket and petticoat and close-fitting cap, stood, like a pic-
ture, in the crooked frame of the doorway. Had the cottage
been a mile away, it would still have seemed near. In that
flat country, every object stands out plainly in the distance:
the chickens show as distinctly as the windmills. Indeed,
were it not for the dikes, and the high banks of the canals,
THEIR MOTHER'S TALL FORM STOOD IN THE DOORWAY.
or, The Silver Skates 9
one could stand almost anywhere in Middle Holland without
seeing a mound or a ridge between the eye and the "jumping-
None had better cause to know the nature of these same
dikes than Dame Brinker and the panting youngsters now
running at her call. But, before stating why, let me ask you
to take a rocking-chair trip with me to that far country, where
you may see, perhaps for the first time, some curious things
that Hans and Gretel saw every day.
HOLLAND 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 other parts of the
world. In the first place,
i |J .. a large portion of the
country is lower than the
level of the sea. Great
dikes, or bulwarks, have
: cost of money and labor,
to keep the ocean where
it belongs. On certain
S' parts of the coast, it some-
times leans with all its
weight against the land;
and it is as much as the
poor country can do to
stand the pressure. Some-
times the dikes give way,
or spring a leak, and the
most disastrous results en-
sue. They are high and
LOWER THAN THE LEVEL OF THE SEA. wide; and the tops of
or, The Silver Skates
, t .k.I' I k L. 1
A HOME ON A CANAL-BOAT.
some of them are covered with buildings and trees. They
have even fine public roads upon them, from which horses may
look down upon wayside cottages. Often the keels of float-
ing 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, catch-
ing nearly all the bustle and the business, quite scorning the
tame fields stretching damply beside them. One is tempted to
ask, Which is Holland, the shores, or the water ? The
very verdure that should be confined to the land has made a
mistake, and settled upon the fish-ponds. In fact, the entire
country is a kind of saturated sponge, or, as the English poet
Butler called it,-
A land that rides at anchor, and is moored
In which they do not live, but go aboard."
Persons are born, live, and die, and even have their gardens,
on canal-boats. Farmhouses, with roofs like great slouched
hats pulled over their eyes, stand on wooden legs with a tucked-
up sort of air, as if to say, We intend to keep dry if we can."
Even the horses wear a wide stool on each hoof to lift them
out of the mire.
-. : In short, the land-
suggests a paradise
for ducks. It is
Syic gi y a glorious country
Sin summer for
sp and boys. Such
sailing! such row-
S ing, fishing and
think of a chain
of puddles, where
one can launch
EVEN THE HORSES WEAR A WIDE STOOL ON chip boats all day
EAcH HOOF. long, and never
make a return trip! But enough. A full recital would set
all young America rushing in a body toward the Zuyder-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 receive their freight
from the upper windows. Mothers scream to Lodewyk and
or, The Silver Skates
Kassy not to swing on the garden-gate, for fear they may be
drowned. Water-roads are more frequent there than common
roads and railways. Water-fences, in the form of lazy green
ditches, enclose pleasure-ground, polder and garden.
Sometimes fine green hedges are seen; but wooden fences,
such as we have
in America, are
rarely met with in
Holland. As for
stone fences, a
lift his hands with -
astonishment at -
the very idea.
There is no stone '
there, excepting CHILDREN AT PLAY IN HOLLAND.
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 dawn these roads for the conveyance
of passengers; and water-drays, called pakschuyten,1 are used
1 Canal-boats. Some of the first-named are over thirty feet long. They
look like greenhouses lodged on barges, and are drawn by horses walking
for carrying fuel and merchandise. Instead of green country
Slanes, green canals stretch from field to barn, and from barn
to garden; and the farms, or polders, as they are termed, are
merely great lakes pumped dry. Some of the busiest streets
are water; while many of the country roads are paved with
brick. The city boats, with their rounded sterns, gilded prows
and gayly painted sides, are unlike any others under the sun;
and a Dutch wagon, with its
funny little crooked pole, is a
perfect mystery of mysteries.
"One thing is" clear," cries
= Master Brightside, "the inhabit-
Sants need never be thirsty."
But, no, Odd-land is true to
/ 'itself still. Notwithstanding the
Ssea pushing to get in, and the
lakes struggling to get out, and
the overflowing canals, rivers and
THE POLE OF A DUTCH WAGON.
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
along the bank of the canal. The trekschuiten are divided into two com-
partments, first and second class; and, when not too crowded, the
passengers make themselves quite at home in them : the men smoke, the
women knit or sew, while children play upon the small outer deck.
Many of the canal-boats have white, yellow or chocolate-colored sails.
This last color is caused by a preparation of tan, which is put on to
or, The Silver Skates
with any means of catching it; but generally they are like the
albatross-haunted sailors in Coleridge's famous poem of "The
Ancient Mariner": they see
"Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink 1"
A DUTCH WATER-CARRIER.
Great flapping windmills all over the country make it look as
if flocks of huge sea-birds were just settling upon it. Every-
where one sees the funniest trees, bobbed into fantastical
shapes, with their trunks painted a dazzling white, yellow or
red. Horses are often yoked three abreast. Men, women
and children go clattering about in wooden shoes with loose
heels; peasant-girls who cannot get beaux for love, hire them
for money, to escort them to the kermis;1 and husbands and
wives lovingly harness themselves side by side on the bank of
the canal, and drag their pakschuyts to market.
Another peculiar feature of Holland is the dune," or sand-
hill. These are numerous along certain portions of the coast.
Before they were sown with coarse reed-grass and other plants,
to hold them down, they used to send great storms of sand
over the inland. So, to add to the oddities, 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
or, The Silver Skates 17
world than this leaky, springy, little country. There is not a
braver, more heroic race than its quiet, passive-looking in-
habitants. Few nations have equalled it in important discoveries
and inventions; none has excelled it in commerce, navigation,
,- .. -
ON THE DUNES.
learning and science, or set as noble examples in the promo-
tion of education and public charities; and none, in proportion
to its extent, has expended more money and labor upon public
Holland has its shining annals of noble and illustrious men
and women, its grand historic records of patience, resistance
and victory, its religious freedom, its enlightened enterprise, its
art, its music and its literature. It has truly been called "the
battle-field of Europe:" as truly may we consider it the
asylum of the world; for the oppressed of every nation have
there found shelter and encouragement. If we Americans
- many of us surely 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 know
that 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 wind-
mills in Holland, with sails ranging from eighty to one hundred
and twenty feet long. They are employed in sawing timber,
beating hemp, grinding, and many other kinds of work; but
their principal use is for pumping water from the lowlands into
the canals, and for guarding against the inland freshets that so
often deluge the country. Their yearly cost is said to be
nearly ten 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 caplike roof. This upper tower is encircled at
its base with a balcony, high above which juts the axis, turned
by its four prodigious ladder-backed sails.
Many of the windmills are primitive affairs, seeming sadly
in need of Yankee "improvements; but some of the new
ones are admirable. They are 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 cur-
rent of air, every sail will spread itself to catch the faintest
breath; but, if a heavy blow" should come, they will shrink
at its touch, like great mimosa-leaves, and only give it half a
chance to move them.
"t I ,
WINDMILLS ALONG THE CANAL.
or, The Silver Skates
One of the old prisons of Amsterdam, called the Rasp-
house," because the thieves and vagrants who were confined
there were employed
in rasping logwood,
had a cell for the
punishment of lazy
prisoners. In one
corner of this cell was
a pump, and in anoth-
er an opening, through
which a steady stream
of water was admit-
ted. The prisoner
could take his choice,
- either to stand still
and be drowned; or
to work for dear life
at the pump, and keep
the rising flood down
until relieved. Now,
it seems to me that,
Nature has introduced
this little diversion on
a grand scale. The
Dutch always have
been forced to pump A DUTCH PRISONER FORCED TO PUMP OR
for their very exist-
ence, and probably must continue to do so to the end of time.
Every year millions of dollars are spent in repairing dikes
and regulating water-levels. If these important duties were
neglected, the country would be uninhabitable. Already
dreadful consequences, as I have said, have followed the
bursting of these dikes. Hundreds of villages and towns
have, from time to time, been buried beneath the rush of
waters; and nearly a million 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 overwhelmed portions of Holland; but
this was the most terrible of all. The unhappy country had
long been suffering under Spanish tyranny; now, it seemed,
came the crowning point of its troubles. When we read
Motley's Rise of the Dutch Republic," we learn to revere the
brave people who have endured, suffered and dared so much.
Mr. Motley, in his thrilling account of the great inundation,
tells us how a long-continued and violent gale had been
sweeping the Atlantic waters into the North Sea, piling them
against the coasts of the Dutch provinces; how the dikes,
tasked beyond their strength, burst in all directions; how even
the hand-boss, 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
dwellings; and how, at last, all Friesland was converted into
an angry sea. Multitudes of men, women, children, of
horses, oxen, sheep, and every domestic animal, were struggling
in the waves in every direction. Every boat and every article
which could serve as a boat was eagerly seized upon. Every
house was inundated: even the graveyards gave up their dead.
The living infant in his cradle and the long-buried corpse in
his coffin floated side by side. The ancient flood seemed
or, The Silver Skates
about to be renewed. Everywhere--upon the tops of trees,
upon the steeples of churches human beings were clustered,
praying to God for mercy, and to their fellow-men for assistance.
As the storm at last was subsiding, boats began to ply in
every direction, saving those who were struggling in the water,
picking fugitives from roofs and tree-tops, and collecting the
bodies of those already drowned. No less than one hundred
thousand human beings had perished in a few hours. Thou-
sands upon thousands of dumb creatures lay dead upon the
waters; and the damage to property was beyond calculation.
Robles, the Spanish governor, was foremost in noble efforts
to save life, and lessen the horrors of the catastrophe. He
had formerly been hated by the Dutch, because of his Spanish
or Portuguese blood; but, by his goodness and activity in their
hour of disaster, he won all hearts to gratitude. He soon
introduced an improved method of constructing the dikes, and
passed a law that they should in future be kept up by the
owners of the soil. There were fewer heavy floods from this
time; though, within less than three hundred years, six fearful
inundations swept over the land.
In the spring there is always great danger of inland freshets,
especially in times of thaw, because the rivers, choked with
blocks of ice, overflow before they can discharge their rapidly
rising waters into the ocean. Add to this the sea chafing and
pressing against the dikes and it is no wonder that Holland
is often in a state of alarm. The greatest care is taken to
prevent accidents. Engineers and workmen are stationed all
along in threatened places; and a close watch is kept up
night and day. When a general signal of danger is given, the
inhabitants all rush to the rescue, eager to combine against
their common foe. As, everywhere else, straw is supposed to
be of all things the most helpless in the water, of course in
Holland it must be rendered the mainstay against a rushing
tide. Huge straw mats are pressed against the embankments,
fortified with clay and heavy stone; and, once adjusted, the
ocean dashes against them in vain.
Raff Brinker, the father of Gretel and Hans, had for
years been employed upon the dikes. It was at the time of
a threatened inundation, when in the midst of a terrible storm,
in darkness and sleet, the men were laboring at a weak spot
near the Veermyk sluice, that he fell from the scaffolding, and
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 strange,
silent man whose eyes followed her vacantly whichever way
she turned; but Hans had recollections of a hearty, cheerful-
voiced father, who was never tired of bearing him
upon his shoulder, and \ whose careless song still
seemed echoing near when he lay awake at
night and listened.
VESSELS HITCHED TO A FENCE-POST.
THE SILVER SKATES
DAME BRINKER earned a scanty support for her fam-
ily 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 he had not as much
intelligence as a little child, he was yet strong of arm and
very hearty; and Dame Brinker had sometimes great trouble
in controlling him. When Hans was in the cottage, or'some
kind-hearted passer-by came to her assistance on hearing a
noise within, the poor vrouw could get on very well; but,
when she was alone, it was a different matter.
"Ah, children he was so good and steady," she would
sometimes say, and as wise as a lawyer. Even the burgo-
master would stop to ask him a question; and now, alack he
doesn't know his wife and little ones. You remember the
father, Hans, when he was himself, -a great brave man,--
don't you ? "
Yes, indeed, mother He knew everything, and could do
anything under the sun; and how he would sing Why, you
used to laugh, and say it was enough to set the windmills
So I did. Bless me how the boy remembers Gretel,
child, take that knitting-needle from your father, quick, -
he'll get it in his eyes, maybe, -and put the shoe on him.
His poor feet are like ice half the time; but I can't keep 'em
covered, all I can do." And then, half wailing, half hum-
ming, Dame Brinker would sit down and fill the low cottage
with the whir of her spinning-wheel.
Nearly all the outdoor work, as well as the household
labor, was performed by Hans and Gretel. At certain sea-
sons 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 per-
mitted, Hans rode the towing-horses on the canals, earning a
few stivers1 a day; and Gretel tended geese for the neighbor-
1 A stiver is worth about two cents of our money.
DAME BRINKER AT HER SPINNING-WHEEL.
or, The Silver Skates 29
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
--. .. -
HANS AND GRETEL GATHERING PEAT.
find, in its season, any weed or flower you could name. But
she dreaded books; and often the very sight of the figuring-
board in the old schoolhouse would set her eyes swimming.
30 Hans Brinker
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
RUNNING ON STILTS,
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 :--
or, The Silver Skates
"Leer, leer! jou luigaart, of dit endje touw zal je leeren!" 1
It was only in winter that Gretel and Hans could be spared
to attend school; and for the past month they had been kept
at home because their mother needed their services. Raff
Brinker required constant attention; and there was black-bread
to be made, and the house to be kept clean, and stockings and
other things to be knitted and sold in the 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 flitted by, it
looked from a distance as though the ice had suddenly
thawed, and some gay tulip-bed were floating along on the
There was the rich burgomaster's daughter, Hilda van
Gleck, with her costly furs and loose-fitting velvet sack; 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 leading men of Amsterdam; and,
flocking closely around her, Carl Schummel, Peter and Lud-
wig 2 van Holp, Jacob Poot, and a very small boy, rejoicing
in the tremendous name of Voostenwalbert Schimmelpen-
ninck. There were nearly twenty other boys and girls in
the party; and one and all seemed full of excitement and
Up and down the canal, within the space of a half-mile,
1 ," Learn, learn, you idler! or this rope's end shall teach you."
2 Ludwig, Gretel and Carl were named after German friends. The
Dutch form would be Lodewyk, Grietje and Karel.
they skated, exerted 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 leisurely toward the town; or a chain
of girls would suddenly break at the approach of a fat old
burgomaster, who, with gold-headed
cane poised in air, was puffing his
way to Amsterdam. Equipped in
skates wonderful to behold, -from
their superb strappings, and daz-
zling runners curving toward 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
S stately men of note were upon the
canal. There were work-people,
.------- -- with weary eyes, hastening to their
shops and factories; market-women
with loads upon their heads; ped-
dlers bending with their packs;
bargemen, with shaggy hair and bleared faces, jostling roughly
on their way; kind-eyed clergymen speeding perhaps to the
bedsides of the dying; and, after a while, groups of children,
with satchels slung over their shoulders, whizzing past toward
the distant school. One and all wore skates, excepting, in-
deed, a muffled-up farmer, whose queer cart bumped along on
the margin of the canal.
or, The Silver Skates
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.
0 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 ac-
"Why," said Rychie, "we are
to have a grand skating-match on
the 20th, on Mevrouw 1 van Gleck's -_:-
birthday. It's all Hilda's work.
They are going to give a splendid A VOLENDAM MARKET-WOMAN.
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 "
W/ho said they had bells ? put in the small voice of the
boy with the big name.
1 Mrs., or madame (pronounced meffrow).
34 Hans Brinker
"I say so, Master Voost," replied Rychie.
So they have No, I 'm sure they have n't "-" Oh!
how can you say so ? -" It's an arrow And Mynheer
van Korbes told my mother they had bells "- came from
"HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT?"
sundry of the excited group; but Mynheer Voostenwalbert
Schimmelpenninck essayed to settle the matter with a de-
or, The Silver Skates
Well, you don't any of you know a single thing about it:
they have n'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
Katrinka looked at them with bewildered eyes.
Who is to try ? she asked.
All of us," answered Rychie. It will be such fun!
And you must, too, Katrinka. But it's school-time now : we
will talk it all over at noon. Oh, you will join, of course."
Katrinka, without replying, made a graceful pirouette, and
- laughing out a coquettish, Don't you hear the last bell ?
Catch me "- darted off toward the schoolhouse, standing
half a mile away on the canal.
All started pell-mell at this challenge; but they tried in
vain to catch the bright-eyed, laughing creature, who, with
golden hair streaming in the sunlight, cast back many a spark-
ling glance of triumph as she floated onward.
Beautiful Katrinka Flushed with youth and health, all life
and mirth and emotion, what wonder thine image, ever float-
ing in advance, sped through one boy's dreams that night !
What wonder that it seemed his darkest hour, when, years
afterward, thy presence floated away from him forever!
HANS AND GRETEL FIND A FRIEND
AT noon our young friends poured forth from the school-
house, intent upon having an hour's practising upon
They had skated but a few moments when Carl Schummel
said mockingly to Hilda,-
"There's a pretty pair just coming upon the ice! The
little rag-pickers Their skates must have been a present from
the king direct."
"They are patient creatures," said Hilda, gently. It must
have been hard to learn to skate upon such queer affairs.
They are very poor peasants, you see. The boy has probably
made the skates himself."
Carl was somewhat abashed.
"Patient they may be; but, as for skating, they start off
pretty well, only to finish with a jerk. They could move well
to your new staccato piece, I think."
Hilda laughed pleasantly, and left him. After joining a
small detachment of the racers, and sailing past every one of
them, she halted beside Gretel, who, with eager eyes, had been
watching the sport.
"c 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."
or, The Silver Skates
Hans is a stout fellow," said Hilda, cheerily, and seems
to have a warm stove somewhere within him; but you look
cold. You should wear more clothing, little one."
Gretel, who had nothing else to wear, tried to laugh, as she
I am not so very little. I am past twelve years old."
Oh, I beg your pardon You see, I am nearly fourteen,
and so large 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
Hans flushed as he saw tears rising in Gretel's eyes.
My sister has not complained of the cold; but this is
bitter weather, they say; and he looked sadly upon Gretel.
It is nothing," said Gretel. I am often warm, too warm,
when I am skating. You are good, jufvrouw, I 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 embarrass-
ment. 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 prize."
Gretel looked wistfully at Hans, who, tugging at his cap,
answered respectfully, -
1 Miss, young lady (pronounced yuffrow). In studied or polite address,
it would be jugvro.we (pronounced youngfrow).
Ah, jufvrouw, even if we could enter, we could skate only
a few strokes with the rest. Our skates are hard wood, you
see (holding up the sole of his foot); but they soon become
damp, and then they stick, and trip us."
Gretel's eyes twinkled with fun as she thought of Hans' 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 1 left; and they would buy but one
pair of skates, at the furthest.
Looking down with a sigh at the two pairs of feet so very
different in size, she asked,-
Which of you is the better skater ? "
Gretel," replied Hans, promptly.
Hans," answered Gretel, in the same breath.
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-
by !" And, with a nod and a smile, Hilda, after handing the
money to the electrified Hans, glided swiftly away to rejoin
Jufvrouw, jufvrouw van Gleck called Hans, in a loud
tone, stumbling after her as well as he could; for one of his
skate-strings was untied.
1 A kwartje is a small silver coin worth one-quarter of aguilder, or ten
cents in American currency.
"WE CANNOT TAKE THIS MONEY," PANTED HANS.
or, The Silver Skates
Hilda turned, and, with one hand raised to shield her eyes
from the sun, seemed to him to be floating through the air,
nearer and nearer.
We cannot take this money," panted Hans, "though we
know your goodness in giving it."
"Why not, indeed ? asked Hilda, flushing.
Because," replied Hans, bowing like a clown, but looking
with the eye of a prince at the queenly girl, we have not
Hilda was quick-witted. She had noticed a pretty wooden
chain upon Gretel's neck.
Carve me a chain, Hans, like the one your sister wears."
That I will, lady, with all my heart. We have whitewood
in the house, fine as ivory. You shall have one 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, outstripping the
fleetest among the skaters.
Hans sent a long, bewildered gaze after her. It was useless,
he felt, to make any further resistance.
It is right," he muttered, half to himself, half to his faith-
ful 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,
"What a good young lady! cried Gretel, clapping her
hands with delight. -0O Hans was it for nothing the stork
settled on our roof last summer ? Do you remember how the
mother said it would bring us luck, and how she cried when
Janzoon Kolp shot him? And she 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 given
us the money to buy skates ; but, if I earn it, Gretel, it shall
be spent for wool. You must have a warm jacket."
Oh cried Gretel, in real dismay. Not buy the skates.
Why, I am not often cold. Mother says the blood runs up
and down in poor children's veins, humming,' I must keep
'em warm; I must keep 'em warm! '
0 Hans!" she continued, with something like a sob,
" don't say you won't buy the skates: it makes me feel just
like crying. Besides, I want to be cold I mean I 'm real,
awful warm so, now "
Hans looked up hurriedly. He had a true Dutch horror 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 '11
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 many ?"
Hans turned the money thoughtfully in his palm. Never in
all his life had he longed so intensely for a pair of skates; for
he had known of the race, and had, boylike, 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
or, The Silver Skates
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
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
"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 again.
Poor Hans This was a strong temptation; but he pushed
it away from him, brave-hearted fellow that he was.
"Nonsense, Gretel! You could never get on with a big
pair: you stumbled about with these like a blind chicken,
before I curved off the ends. No: you must have a pair
to fit exactly; and you must practise every chance you can
get until the 20th comes. My little Gretel shall win the
Gretel could not help laughing with delight at the very
Hans, Gretel !" called out a familiar voice.
Coming, mother." And they hastened toward the cottage,
Hans still shaking the pieces of silver in his hand.
On the following day there was not a prouder nor a happier
boy in all Holland than Hans Brinker, as he watched his
sister, with many a dexterous sweep, flying in and out among
the skaters who at sundown thronged the canal. A warm
jacket had been given her by the kind-hearted Hilda; and
the burst-out shoes had been cobbled into decency by Dame
Brinker. As the little creature darted backward and forward,
flushed with enjoyment, and quite unconscious of the many
wondering glances bent upon her, she felt that the shining
runners beneath her feet had suddenly turned earth into 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 beside Hilda.
Hand in hand, they skated together, laughingly at first, then
staidly talking in a low tone.
Strange to say, Peter van Holp soon arrived at a sudden
conviction that his little sister needed a wooden chain just like
or, The Silver Skates
Two days afterward, on St. Nicholas Eve, Hans, having
burned three candle-ends, and cut his thumb into the bargain,
stood in the market-place at Amsterdam, buying another pair
THE MARKET-PLACE, AMSTERDAM.
SHADOWS IN THE HOME
G OOD 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 St. 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 woollen
mitts, and the dainty cap showing her hair, which generally
was hidden, made her seem almost like a princess to Gretel;
while Master Hans grew staid and well-behaved as he gazed.
Soon the little maid, while braiding her own golden tresses,
fairly danced around her mother in an ecstasy of admiration.
mother, mother, mother how pretty you are Look,
Hans isn't it just like a picture ? "
"Just like a picture," assented Hans, cheerfully, -"just
like a picture; only I don't like those stocking things on the
or, The Silver Skates
Not like the mitts,
Brother Hans! why,
they 're very important.
See, they cover up all
the red. O mother!
how white your arm is
where the mitt leaves
off! it 's whiter than
mine, oh, ever so much
whiter! I do declare,
mother, the bodice is
tight for you. You 're
growing; you're surely
"This was made
long ago, lovey, when
I was not much thicker i
about the waist than
a churn-dasher," said
Dame Brinker, add-
ing, And how do you
like the cap ? as she
turned her head from
side to side.
Oh, ever so much,
mother !" said Gretel.
mother!" said Grete. O MOTHER, MOTHER! HOW PRETTY
" It's beautiful See, YOU ARE !"
the father is looking'-"
Was the father looking ? Alas! only with a dull stare.
His vrouw turned toward him with a start, 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 gap-
ing at me all day, and the new skates waiting for you at
Ah, mother!" he answered, "you need many things.
Why should I buy skates ?"
Nonsense, child The money was given to you on pur-
pose, 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 spinning-
wheel wants a new treadle, mother."
You can make it, Hans."
So I can. That will take no money. But you need
feathers and wool and meal, and -"
"There, there! that will do. Your silver cannot buy
everything. Ah, Hans if our stolen money would but come
back on this bright St. Nicholas' Eve, how glad we would be!
Only last night, I prayed to the good saint -"
Mother! interrupted Hans, in dismay.
"Why not, Hans ? Shame on you to reproach me for
that! I'm as true a Protestant, in sooth, as any fine lady
that walks into church; but it's no wrong to turn sometimes
to the good St. 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 oppose her when her
voice quickened and sharpened as it often did when she spoke
of the missing money; so he said gently,--
or, The Silver Skates
And what did you ask of good St. Nicholas, mother ? "
Why, never to 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, Hans."
"That I do, mother," he answered sadly, "though you
have almost pulled down the cottage in searching."
Ay; 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.
Ay, 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 '11 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," muttered
Hans, half to himself.
Dame Brinker shook her head, and looked sadly toward her
husband, who sat staring blankly at the floor. Gretel stood
near him, knitting.
That we shall never know, Hans. I have shown it to the
father many a time; but he does not know it from a potato.
When he came in that dreadful night to supper, he handed the
watch to me, and told me to take good care of it until he
asked for it again. Just as he opened his lips to say more,
Broom Klatterboost came flying in with word that the dike
was in danger. Ah the waters were terrible that holy Pinx-
ter-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 dulness: that grew worse every day. We shall
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 starving
than this before we turn faithless to the father."
A memory of some such scene came to the boy's mind
now; for, after giving a heavy sigh, and filliping a crumb of
wax at Gretel across the table, he said, -
Ay, 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, indig-
nantly. 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-"
Hans flushed angrily.
They would not dare to say such a thing, mother! If
they did, I'd-"
He clinched 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
or, The Silver Skates
Ah, Hans! thou'rt a true, brave lad. We will never part
company with the watch. In his dying hour the dear father
might wake, and ask for it."
"Might wake, mother!" echoed Hans,-" wake and
know us ? "
"Ay, child," almost whispered his mother: such things
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 expect it."
"Never cried Dame Brinker, taking the last stitch from
her needle with a jerk, and laying the unfinished knitting
heavily upon her lap. There is no chance. One thousand
guilders--and all gone in a day! One thousand guilders!
Oh! what ever did become of them ? If they went in an evil
way, the thief would have confessed 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: be-
sides, the father had a goodly sum already, for service done to
the Heernocht lands at the time of the great inundation.
Every week we had a guilder left over, sometimes more; for
the father worked extra hours, and could get high pay for his
labor. Every Saturday night we put something by, except the
time when you had the fever, Hans, and when Gretel came.
At last the pouch grew so full that I mended an old stocking,
and commenced again. Now that I look back, it seems that
the money was up to the heel in a few sunny weeks. There
was great pay in those days, if a man was quick at engineer
work. The stocking went on filling with copper and silver,
ay, and gold. You may well open your eyes, Gretel. I used
to laugh, and tell the father it was not for poverty I wore my
old gown. And the stocking went on filling, so full, that
sometimes, when I woke at night, I'd get up, soft and quiet,
and go feel it in the moonlight. Then, on my knees, I would
thank our Lord that my little ones could in time get good
learning, and that the father might rest from labor in his old
age. Sometimes, at supper, the father and I would talk about
a new chimney, and a good winter-room for the cow; but my
man, 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.
or, The Silver Skates
"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 as-"
The mother's voice sounded so strangely, and her eye was
so bright, that Hans, with a new anxiety, laid his hand upon
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.
DAME BRINKER was startled at her children's emo-
tion,-glad, too, for it proved how loving and true
Beautiful ladies in princely homes often smile suddenly and
sweetly, gladdening the very air around them; but I doubt if
their smile be more welcome in God's sight than that which
sprang forth to cheer the roughly clad boy and girl in the
humble cottage. Dame Brinker felt that she had been selfish.
Blushing and brightening, she hastily wiped her eyes, and
looked upon them as only a mother can.
Hoity, toity Pretty talk we're having, and St. 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 was knitted (owning the
yarn is a grain too sharp) to sell to the hosier on the Heireen
Gracht.2 That will give us three quarter-guilders, if you
1 The Dutch cent is worth less than half of an American cent.
2 A street in Amsterdam.
or, The Silver Skates
make good trade; and, as it's right hungry weather, you
may buy four waffles. We'll keep the Feast of St. Nicholas,
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 shall be merry too. Hans will 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 carefully."
Certainly," replied Hans, quite gruff with pleasure and
0 mother cried Gretel, in high glee, soon you will be
busied with the father, and now you are only knitting. Do
tell us all about St. 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, throw-
ing herself upon the wonderful wooden bench that her brother
had made on the mother's last birthday. Hans, not wishing
to appear childish, and yet quite willing to hear the story, stood
carelessly swinging his skates against the fireplace.
Well, children, you shall hear it; but we must never waste
the daylight again in this way. Pick up your ball, Gretel, and
let your sock grow as I talk. Opening your ears need not shut
your fingers. St. Nicholas, you must know, is a wonderful
saint. He keeps his eye open for the good of sailors; but he
cares most of all for boys and girls. Well, once upon a time,
when he was living on the earth, a merchant of Asia sent his
three sons to a great city, called Athens, to get learning."
Is Athens in Holland, mother?" asked Gretel.
I don't know, child. Probably it is."
Oh, no, mother said Hans, respectfully. I had that
in my geography lessons long ago. Athens is in Greece."
"Well," resumed the mother, what matter ? Greece may
belong to the king, for aught we know. Anyhow, this rich
merchant sent his sons to Athens. While they were on their
way, they stopped one night at a shabby inn, meaning to take
up their journey in the morning. Well, they had very fine
clothes, velvet and silk, it may be, such as rich folks' children
all over the world think nothing of wearing; and their belts,
likewise, were full of money. What did the wicked landlord
do, but contrive a plan to kill the children, and take their money
and all their beautiful clothes himself? So that night, when
all the world was asleep, he got up and killed the three young
Gretel clasped her hands and shuddered; but Hans tried
to look as if killing and murder were every-day matters to
"That was not the worst of it," continued Dame Brinker,
knitting slowly, and trying to keep count of her stitches as she
talked : that was not near the worst of it. The dreadful land-
lord went and cut up the young gentlemen's bodies into little
pieces, and threw them into a great tub of brine, intending to
sell them for pickled pork."
Oh cried Gretel, horror-stricken, though she had often
heard the story before. Hans still continued unmoved, and
seemed to think that pickling was the best that could be done
under the circumstances.
Yes, he pickled them; and one might think that would
have been the last of the young gentlemen. But no. That
night St. Nicholas had a wonderful vision; and in it he saw
HANS AND GRETEL HEAR THE STORY OF ST. NICHOLAS.
or, The Silver Skates
the landlord cutting up the merchant's children. There was
no need of his hurrying, you know, for he was a saint; but in
the morning he went to the inn, and charged the landlord with
the murder. Then the wicked landlord confessed it from
beginning to end, and fell down on his knees, begging forgive-
ness. 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 a
flash, and out jumped the young gentlemen from the brine-tub.
They cast themselves at the feet of St. 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
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 hearthstone --
" if my money would bring a meester 1 from Amsterdam to see
the father, something might yet be done."
1 Doctor (dokter in Dutch) called meester by the lower class.
60 Hans Brinker
A meester would not come, Hans, for twice that money;
and it would do no good, if he did. Ah, how many guilders I
once spent for that! But the dear, good father would not
waken. It is God's will. Go, Hans, and buy the skates."
Hans started with a heavy heart; but since the heart was
young, and in a boy's bosom, it set him whistling in less than
five minutes. His mother had said thee to him; and that
was quite enough to make even a dark day sunny. Hollanders
do not address each other in affectionate intercourse, as the
French and Germans do. But Dame Brinker had embroidered
for a Heidelberg family in her girlhood ; and she had carried its
" thee and thou into her rude home, to be used in moments
of extreme love and tenderness.
Therefore, What keeps thee, Hans ? sang an echo-song
beneath the boy's whistling, and made him feel that his errand
BY THE TOWN OF BROEK.
HANS HAS HIS WAY
B ROEK, with its quiet, spotless streets, its frozen rivulets,
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
Not a footprint marred the sanded paths, where pebbles and
sea-shells lay in fanciful designs. Every window-shutter was
closed as tightly as though air and sunshine were poison; and
the massive front doors were never opened, except on the
occasion of a wedding, a christening or a funeral.
Serene clouds of tobacco-smoke were floating through hidden
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 animation; and
the shining, tiled roofs, mosaic courtyards and polished house-
trimmings, flashed up a silent homage to the sky, where never
a speck of dust could dwell.
Hans glanced toward the village, as he shook his silver
kwartjes, and wondered whether it were really true, as he had
often heard, that some of the people of Broek were so rich
that they used kitchen utensils of solid gold.
He had seen Mevrouw van Stoop's sweet cheeses in market,
and he knew that the lofty dame earned many a bright silver
guilder in selling them. But "did she set the cream to rise in
golden pans ? Did she use a golden skimmer ? When her
cows were in winter-quarters, were their tails really tied up
with ribbons ? "
These thoughts ran through his mind as he turned his face
toward Amsterdam, not five miles away, on the other side of
the frozen Y.1 The ice upon the canal was perfect; but his
wooden runners, so soon to be cast aside, squeaked a dismal
farewell, as he scraped and skimmed along.
When crossing the Y, whom should he see skating toward
him, but the great Dr. Boekman, the most famous physician
1 Pronounced eye, an arm of the Zuyder-Zee.
or, The Silver Skates
and surgeon in Holland Hans had never met him before;
but he had seen his engraved likeness in many of the shop-
windows of 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 allowed," he certainly was not a very jolly or sociable
looking personage, nor one that a well-trained boy would care
to accost unbidden.
But Hans was bidden, and that, too, by a voice he seldom
disregarded,-his own conscience.
Here comes the greatest doctor in the world," whispered
the voice. "God has sent him. You have no right to buy
skates, when you might, with the same money, purchase such
aid for your father."
The wooden runners gave an exultant squeak. Hundreds
of beautiful skates were gleaming and vanishing in the air
above him. He felt the money tingle in his fingers. The
old doctor looked fearfully grim and forbidding. Hans' heart
was in his throat; but he found voice enough to cry out, just
as he was passing, -
Mynheer Boekman !"
The great man halted, and, sticking out his thin under-lip,
looked scowlingly 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 even
think; and his words
mean nothing. But
he is not sick. He
fell on the dikes."
cried the doctor, be-
ginning to listen.
Hans told the whole
story in an incoherent
way, dashing 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 shall earn more, I
HANS AND DOCTOR BOEKMAN. know I shall. Oh, I
will toil for you all
my life, if you will but cure my father! "
What was the matter with the old doctor ? A brightness
like sunlight beamed from his face. His eyes were kind and
moist. The hand that had lately clutched his cane, as if pre-
paring to strike, was laid gently upon Hans' shoulder.
or, The Silver Skates
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 sudden
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 there-
about can point it out to your Honor," added Hans, with a
heavy sigh. They are all half afraid of the place : they call
it the idiot's cottage.' "
"That will do," said the doctor, hurrying on, with a bright
backward nod at Hans : I shall be there. A hopeless case,"
he muttered to himself; "but the boy pleases me. His eye
is like my poor Laurens. Confound it! shall I never forget
that young scoundrel ?" And, scowling more darkly than
ever, the doctor pursued his silent way.
Again Hans was skating toward Amsterdam, on the squeak-
ing wooden runners; again his fingers tingled against the
money in his pocket; again the boyish whistle rose uncon-
sciously 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 '11 go on I "
And so Hans bought the skates.
INTRODUCING JACOB POOT AND HIS COUSIN
HANS and Gretel had a fine frolic early on that St.
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 before bed-time.
Hans was delighted with his new skates ; and, in his eager-
ness 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 feel-
ing exactly like one of the party. But now a new thought
seized Carl; or, rather, he seized the new thought, and made
an onset upon his friends.
"I say, boys, let's put a stop to those young rag-pickers
from the idiot's cottage joining the race. Hilda must be crazy
or, The Silver Skates
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 man-
hood in us, we will scorn the very idea of-"
Certainly we will," interposed Peter van Holp, purposely
mistaking Carl's meaning. "Who doubts it ? No fellow with
a spark of manhood in him would refuse to let in two good
skaters, just because they were poor."
Carl wheeled about savagely.
Not so fast, master And I 'd thank you not to put words
in other people's mouths. You'd best not try it again."
Ha, ha! laughed little Voostenwalbert Schimmelpennick,
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
Half a dozen bystanders and byskaters set up an applauding
shout at this brave witticism; and Carl, feeling that he had
fairly vanquished his foes, was restored to partial good humor.
He, however, prudently resolved to defer plotting against Hans
and Gretel until some time when Peter should not be present.
Just then his friend Jacob Poot was seen approaching. They
could not distinguish his features at first; but, as he was the
stoutest boy in the neighborhood, there could be no mistaking
"Halloo! here comes Fatty!" exclaimed Carl. "And
there's some one with him,- a slender fellow, a stranger."
"Ha, ha! that's like good bacon," cried Ludwig,--"a
streak of lean and a streak of fat."
"That's Jacob's English cousin," put in Master Voost,
delighted at being able to give the information. That 's his
English cousin; and, oh, he's
got such a funny little name!-
Ben Dobbs. He's going to
stay with him until after the
All this time the boys had
been spinning, turning, "roll-
ing," 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."
JACOB AND BEN: "A STREAK OF All crowded, boy-fashion,
LEAN AND A STREAK OF FAT."
about the new-comers. Ben-
jamin soon made up his mind that the Hollanders, notwith-
standing their queer gibberish, were a fine set of fellows.
If the truth must be told, Jacob had announced his cousin
as Penchamin Dopps," and called 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
or, The Silver Skates
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; "
stoomboot, "steamboat;" ophaalbruggen, drawbridges;" buiten
plasten, country-seats; mynheer, mister; tweegevegt,
"duel," or "two-fights;" koper, "copper;" zadel, "saddle : "
but he could not make a sentence out of these, nor use the long
list of phrases he had learned in his Dutch Dialogues." The
topics of the latter were fine, but were never alluded to by the
boys. Like the poor fellow who had learned in Ollendorff"
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 aja, or a nod, in quite a familiar
The project was a grand one, and there was -to be a fine
opportunity for carrying it out; for, besides the allotted holi-
day of the Festival of St. Nicholas, four extra days were to be
allowed for a general cleaning of the schoolhouse.
Jacob and Ben had obtained permission to go on a long skat-
ing-journey; no less a one than from Broek to the Hague, the
capital of Holland, a distance of nearly fifty miles. 1
And now, boys," added Jacob when he had told the plan,
"who will go with us ? "
I will, I will cried the boys, eagerly.
And so will I," ventured little Voostenwalbert.
"Ha, ha! laughed Jacob, holding his fat sides, and
shaking his puffy cheeks. You go ? Such a little fellow
as you! Why, youngster, you haven't left off your pads
Now, in Holland, very young children wear a thin, padded
cushion around their heads, surmounted with a framework of
whalebone and ribbon, to protect them in
case of a fall; and it is the dividing-line
between babyhood and childhood when
they leave it off. Voost had arrived at
this dignity several years before; conse-
Squently Jacob's insult was rather too
great for endurance.
S"Look out what you say!" he
S\ c\ squeaked. "Lucky for you when you
i I' can leave off your pads. You're padded
1 all over!"
READY FOR A TUMBLE. Ha, ha! roared all the boys except
Master Dobbs, who could not under-
stand. "Ha, ha !" and the good-natured Jacob laughed more
1 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.
or, The Silver Skates
It ish my fat -yaw- he say I bees pad mit fat! he
explained to Ben.
So a vote was passed unanimously in favor of allowing
the now popular Voost to join the party, if his parents would
Good-night! sang out the happy youngster, skating home-
ward 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
All right," responded Jacob, who was not much of a
Ludwig had been regarding his brother with enthusiastic
"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 shoul-
ders. We'd better go home."
What if it is cold, old tender-skin ? cried Carl, who was
busily practising 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 Ludwig.
"Whew, I 'm going home !"
Peter van Holp took out a bulgy gold watch, and, holding it
toward the moonlight as well as his benumbed fingers would
permit, called out, -
Halloo, it's nearly eight o'clock St. Nicholas is about
by this time; and I, for one, want to see the little ones stare.
"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 ex-
claimed, Ah, Hans, how beautiful, how fine, to think that
we both have skates I tell you the stork brought us good
luck," when they heard something.
It was a scream, a very faint scream. No one else upon
the canal observed it; but Hans knew its meaning too well.
Gretel saw him turn white in the moonlight as he hastily tore
off his skates.
"The father!" he cried. "He has frightened our
mother;" and Gretel ran after him toward the house as hard
as she could.
or, The Silver Skates
THE FESTIVAL OF ST. NICHOLAS
W E 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 rein-
deer," used to drive -
his sleigh-load of toys
up to our housetops,
and then bound down
the chimney to fill the
stockings so hopefully
hung by the fireplace.
His friends called him
Santa Claus; and those
who were most inti-
mate ventured to say,
"Old Nick." It was
said that he originally -
came from Holland.
Doubtless he did; but,
if so, he certainly, like SANrrA CLAUS.
many other foreigners,
changed his ways very much after landing upon our shores.
In Holland, St. Nicholas is a veritable saint, and often appears
in full costume, with his embroidered robes glittering with
gems and gold, his mitre, his crosier, and his jewelled gloves.
Here Santa Claus comes rollicking along on the 25th of De-
cember, our holy Christmas morn; but in Holland, St.
Nicholas visits earth on the 5th, a time especially appropriated
to him. Early on the morning of the 6th, which is St.
Nicholas Day, he distributes his candies, toys and treasures,
and then vanishes for a year.
Christmas Day is devoted by the Hollanders to church-rites
and pleasant family visiting. It is on St. 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 can-
did, and, if any of them have been 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 scold-
ings in place of confections, and floggings instead of toys.
It was well that the boys hastened to their abodes on that
bright winter evening; for, in less than an hour afterwards,
the saint made his appearance in half the homes of Holland.
He visited the king's palace, and in the selfsame moment ap-
peared in Annie Bouman's comfortable home. Probably one
of our silver half-dollars would have purchased all that his
saintship left at the peasant Bouman's. But a half-dollar's
worth will sometimes do for the poor what hundreds of dollars
may fail to do for the rich: it makes them happy and grateful,
fills them with new peace and love.
Hilda van Gleck's little brothers and sisters were in a high
state of excitement that night. They had been admitted into
the grand parlor: they were dressed in their best, and had
been given two cakes apiece at supper. Hilda was as joyous
as any. Why not ? St. Nicholas would never cross a girl of
or, The Silver Skates
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
gayly as the youngest, and was the soul of all their merry
games. Father, mother and grandmother looked on approv-
ingly; so did grandfather, before he spread his large red
handkerchief over his face, leaving only the top of his skull-
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 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 the startled conscious-
ness that the village was wide awake. At last matters grew
so uproarious that the grandsire's red kerchief came down
from his face with a jerk. What decent old gentleman could
sleep in such a racket! Mynheer van Gleck regarded his
children with astonishment. The baby even showed symp-
toms of hysterics. It was high time to attend to business.
Mevrouw suggested that, if they wished to see the good St.
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 em-
broideries, and his crown of blue ribbon and whalebone (for he
was not quite past the tumbling age), he looked like the king
of the babies.
The other children, each holding a pretty willow basket,
formed at once in a ring, and moved slowly around the little
fellow, lifting their eyes meanwhile; for the saint to whom
they were about to address themselves was yet in mysterious
Mevrouw commenced playing softly upon the piano; soon
the voices rose, gentle, youthful voices, rendered all the
sweeter for their tremor,-
SWelcome, friend St. 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 St. Nicholas, welcome !
Welcome to this merry band !
Happy children greet thee, welcome !
Thou art gladdening all the land.
or, The Silver Skates
Fill each empty hand and basket
'T is 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 spectacles; 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 expectant group.
The knocking was heard again.
Come in," said the mevrouw, softly.
The door slowly opened; and St. Nicholas, in full array,
stood before them. You could have heard a pin drop. Soon
he spoke. What a mysterious majesty in his voice what
kindliness in his tones!
Karel van Gleck, I am pleased to greet thee, and thy
honored vrouw, Kathrine, and thy son, and his good vrouw,
Children, I greet ye all, Hendrick, Hilda, Broom, Katy,
Huygens and Lucretia. And thy cousins,-Wolfert, Diedrich,
Mayken, Voost and Katrina. Good children ye have been,
in the main, since I last accosted ye. Diedrich was rude at the
Haarlem fair last fall; but he has tried to atone for it since.
Mayken has failed, of late, in her lessons; and too many sweets
and trifles have gone to her lips, and too few stivers to her
charity-box. Diedrich, I trust, will be a polite, manly boy for
the future; and Mayken will endeavor to shine as a student.
Let her remember, too, that economy and thrift are needed in
ST. NICHOLAS IN FULL ARRAY STOOD BEFORE THEM.
the foundation of a worthy and generous life. Little Katy has
been cruel to the cat more than once. St. Nicholas can hear
or, The Silver Skates
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 feeling, and must not be abused."
As Katy burst into a frightened cry, the saint graciously
remained silent until she was soothed.
Master Broom," he resumed, "I warn thee that 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
[Master Broom colored, and stared in great astonishment.]
But, thou art such an excellent scholar, I shall make thee
no further reproof.
Thou, Hendrick, didst distinguish thyself in the archery
match last spring, and hit the doel,1 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 coun-
tenance 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. Goodness,
industry, benevolence and thrift have prevailed in your midst.
Therefore, my blessing upon you; and may the New Year find
all treading the paths of obedience, wisdom and love To-
morrow you shall find more substantial proofs that I have been
in your home. Farewell! "
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. Mevrouw cau-
tiously held the baby down upon the sheet till the chubby little
fists were filled. Then the bravest of the youngsters sprang
up and threw open the closed doors. In vain they searched the
mysterious apartment. St. Nicholas was nowhere to be seen.
Soon they all sped to another room, where stood
a table, covered with the whitest of linen damask.
Each child, in a flutter of pleasure, laid a shoe upon it,
and each shoe held a little hay for the good saint's horse.
The door was then carefully locked, and its key hidden in the
mother's bedroom. Next followed good-night kisses, a grand
to the upper floor,
merry farewells at
and silence, at last,
reigned in the Van
Early the next
morning, the door
was solemnly un-
locked and opened
in the presence of
SHOES ON THE TABLE ON ST. NICHOLAS EVE. the assembled
lo a sight appeared, proving good St. Nicholas to be a saint
of his word.
Every shoe was filled to overflowing; and beside each
stood a many-colored pile. The table was heavy with its
load of presents,- candies, toys, trinkets, books and other
or, The Silver Skates
articles. Every one had gifts, from grandfather down to
Little Katy clapped her hands with glee, and vowed inwardly
that the cat should never know another moment's grief.
Hendrick capered about the room, flourishing a superb bow
and arrows over his head. Hilda laughed with delight as she
opened a crimson box, and drew forth its glittering contents.
The rest chuckled, and said, Oh and Ah over their
treasures, very much as we did here in America on last Christmas
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, ten-
der 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
Ay, sweetheart," said mynheer, you cannot do better.
There is no one like Father Cats. If my daughter learns his
' Moral Emblem' by heart, the mother and I may keep silent.
The work you have there, the Emblems, is his best work.
You will find it enriched with rare engravings from Van de
[Considering that the back of the book was turned away,
mynheer certainly showed a surprising familiarity with an
unopened volume presented by St. Nicholas. It was strange,
too, that the saint should have found certain things made by
the elder children, and have actually placed them upon the table,
labelled 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's. Cats sees no
daggers in the air; he has no white women falling in love with
dusky Moors, no young fools sighing to be a lady's glove, no
crazy princes mistaking respectable old gentlemen for rats.
No, no! He writes only sense. It is great wisdom in little
bundles, a bundle for every day of your life. You can guide
a state with Cats's poems; and you can put a little baby to
sleep with his pretty songs. He was one of the greatest men
of Holland. When I take you to the Hague, I will show you
the Kloosterkerk where he lies buried. There was a man for
you to study, my sons He was good through and through.
What did he say ? -
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, 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 astonishment into the bowl of his
meerschaum (for it had gone out "), nodded to his vrouw, and
left the apartment in great haste.
The fact is, his discourse had been accompanied throughout
1 0 Heere laat my dat van uwen hand verwerven,
Te leven met gedult, en met vermaak te sterven.
or, The Silver Skates
with a subdued chorus of barking dogs, squeaking cats and
bleating lambs, to say nothing of a noisy ivory cricket, that the
baby was whirling with infinite delight. At the last, little
Huygens, taking advantage of the increasing loudness of myn-
heer'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 supreme.
Good St. Nicholas For the sake of the young Hollanders,
I, for one, am willing to acknowledge him, and defend his
reality against all unbelievers.
Carl Schummel was quite busy during that day, assuring little
children confidentially that not St. Nicholas, but their own
fathers and mothers, had produced the oracle, and loaded the
tables. But we know better than that.
And yet, if this were a saint, why did he not visit the
Brinker cottage that night? Why was that one home, so
dark and sorrowful, passed by ?
WHAT THE BOYS SAW AND DID IN AMSTERDAM
" A RE we all here ? cried Peter, in high glee, as the party
A 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 ? "
"Jacob Poot? "
"Benjamin Dobbs? "
"Lambert van Mounen ? "
"That's lucky Couldn't get on without you, as you're
the only one who can speak English. Ludwig van Holp ? "
"Voostenwalbert Schimmelpenninck? "
Ah the little rogue has been kept at home. Now, boys,
it's just eight o'clock, glorious weather; and the Y is as firm
as a rock. We'll be at Amsterdam in thirty minutes. One,
two, three -START! "
True enough. In less than half an hour, they had crossed
a dike of solid masonry, and were in the very heart of the great