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Title: Walter Pieterse - A Story of Holland
Author: Multatuli, 1820-1887
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Walter Pieterse - A Story of Holland" ***

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                            Walter Pieterse
                           A Story of Holland

                         (Eduard Douwes Dekker)

                             Translated by
                          Hubert Evans, Ph. D.

                                New York
                           Friderici & Gareis
                       6 East Seventeenth Street

                            Copyright, 1904,
                           Friderici & Gareis


Most of us know that The Hague is somewhere in Holland; and we all
know that Queen Wilhelmina takes a beautiful picture; but to how many
of us has it occurred that the land of Spinoza and Rembrandt is still
running a literary shop?

How many of us have ever heard of Eduard Douwes Dekker? Very few,
I fear, except professional critics. And yet, the man who, forty
years ago, became famous as Multatuli (I have borne much), was not
only the greatest figure in the modern literature of the Netherlands,
but one of the most powerful and original writers in the literature
of the world. An English critic has called him the Heine of Holland;
Anatole France calls him the Voltaire of the Netherlands.

Eduard Douwes Dekker was born in 1820, at Amsterdam, his father being
the captain of a merchantman trading in the Dutch colonies. At the age
of eighteen Dekker sailed on his father's vessel for the East Indies,
determined to abandon the business career that had been mapped out for
him and enter the colonial service. In 1839 he received a clerkship
in the civil service at Batavia. He now remained in the employ of
the government for seventeen years, being promoted from one grade to
another until he was made Assistant Resident of Lebak in 1856.

In this important position he used his influence to better the
condition of the natives; but, to his sorrow, he soon found that he
did not have the support of his superiors. What he conceived to be
right clashed with the line of conduct he was expected to follow. In
a rash moment of "righteous indignation" he handed in his resignation;
and it was accepted.

This hasty step put an end to a brilliant political career and entailed
upon Dekker years of disappointment and hardship. Seeing that he was
pursuing the wrong method to help either the Javanese, or himself,
he immediately tried to get reinstated, but without success. In 1857
he returned to Holland and applied to the home government, hoping to
be vindicated and restored to his post. Again he was disappointed. The
government offered him another desirable position; but, as it was a
matter of principle with Dekker, he declined it.

When he saw that it was useless to importune the government further,
Dekker made his appeal to the people in "Max Havelaar" (1860). The book
was an instant success and made the name of Multatuli famous. Through
the perfidy of a supposed friend, however, Dekker failed to get very
substantial material rewards from this work. For ten years yet he
was struggling with poverty.

The Bohemian life that Dekker was now compelled to live--his family
was on the sufferance of friends--estranged him from his wife and
strengthened what some might call an unfortunate--or, at least, an
untimely--literary friendship that Dekker had formed with a certain
Miss Mimi Schepel, of The Hague. The spiritual affinity between the
two soon developed a passion that neither could resist. This estimable
lady, who afterwards became Dekker's second wife, is still living,
and has edited Dekker's letters in nine volumes. Dekker died in
February, 1887, at his home in Nieder-Ingelheim, where he had lived
for several years.

The "Woutertje Pieterse" story was first published in Dekker's
seven volume work entitled "Ideen." Here it is sandwiched in between
miscellaneous sketches, essays and treatises, being scattered all
the way from Vol. I to Vol. VII. The story falls naturally into two
parts, of which the present volume is the first part. The second part,
written in a different key, deals with "Walter's Apprenticeship."

A good deal of the flax, or silk, of his Chinaman's pigtail, to use
Dekker's form of expression, I have unraveled as being extraneous
matter. However, despite these omissions, it is quite possible that
some very sensitive person may still find objectionable allusions in
the book. If so, I must refer that one to the shade of Multatuli. From
his own admission his shoulders were evidently broad; and, no doubt,
they will be able to bear the additional strain.

                                                        Hubert Evans.

New York City,
    November, 1904.



Chapter I

    The origin of the story: regarding poetry, incurable love,
    false hair, and the hero of the story--The dangers of fame and
    the advantage of the upper shelf--The Chinaman's pigtail, and
    the collar of humanity                                            1

Chapter II

    An Italian robber on the "Buitensingel" in Amsterdam--The bitter
    suffering of the virtuous Amalia--Wax candles, the palisades of
    morality--The cunning of the little Hallemans--The limitations
    of space                                                          9

Chapter III

    The difference between a sugar bowl and a Bible--Leentje's virtues
    and defects--An unfounded suspicion against Pennewip's honor     18

Chapter IV

    The profound silence of Juffrouw Laps--Stoffel's sermon--Walter's
    fidelity to Glorioso--The last king of Athens--Ruined stomachs
    and bursted ear-drums                                            24

Chapter V

    How one may become a great man--The cleverness of
    M'sieu Millaire--Versifying and the art of classifying
    everything--Hobby-horses                                         27

Chapter VI

    Preparations for a party--The assignment of rôles--The conflict
    between wishing and being--Some tricks of fancy--The two
    sawmills--Amalia and the ducks                                   34

Chapter VII

    Poetry and wigs--The vexation and despair of the latter          42

Chapter VIII

    A tea-evening, and how it began--Some gaps in the author's
    knowledge--Stoffel's zoölogical joke--The cause of the last Punic
    war--And the advantage of smoking                                48

Chapter IX

    Echoes of the last Punic war--The defeat of Hannibal (Laps)
    by Scipio (Pennewip)                                             61

Chapter X

    Causes of the tedious peace in Europe, showing the value
    of a "tea-evening" as a study--Specimens of school-verse
    concluded--Suitable for society poets and clever children        68

Chapter XI

    Report on the condition of the leading characters after the
    catastrophe--Walter again: a character-study                     75

Chapter XII

    Leentje as a comforter and questioner--Prince Walter and his
    dominions                                                        80

Chapter XIII

    Convincing proofs of Walter's improvement--His first invitation--A
    study in love--Paradise and Peri                                 87

Chapter XIV

    Great changes in the Pieterse family--Walter becomes poet-laureate
    at the court of Juffrouw Laps--The mountains of Asia--The bridge,
    Glorioso, and love--again                                       102

Chapter XV

    Walter's dream--A swell coachman--Juffrouw Laps's difficulties

Chapter XVI

    Femke hunts for Walter, and finds him under peculiar
    circumstances--Her adventures by the way                        125

Chapter XVII

    The widower's birthday--Klaasje's poem, and how a surprise may
    involve further surprises                                       132

Chapter XVIII

    Walter's recovery--The doctor's pictures--Amsterdam dramaturgy

Chapter XIX

    Pastors, sermons, and Juffrouw Laps--Chocolate, timidity, and
    love--The fire that didn't break out--Some details of religious
    belief                                                          150

Chapter XX

    Our hero calls on the doctor--Some strange happenings--How Walter
    delivered his present                                           161

Chapter XXI

    Ophelia reaches her destination, and Femke becomes a
    queen--Walter's first experience "proposing"--Choosing a
    profession                                                      170

Chapter XXII

    Walter enters the real world--The firm Motto, Business & Co.--The
    technique of the novel--And the snuff of the Romans             180

Chapter XXIII

    How one may become a "prodigal" by studying the story of the
    Prodigal Son                                                    194

Chapter XXIV

    Why Walter did not see Femke--The worldliness of a servant of
    the church--The secret of Father Jansen's deafness in his left
    ear                                                             201

Chapter XXV

    Kings and doughnuts--How the masses soar and fall--Walter's
    cowardice and remorse of conscience--A good remedy for the
    blues                                                           211

Chapter XXVI

    Our hero retires thinking of Princess Erika, to be aroused
    by robbers and murderers, who are in collusion with Juffrouw
    Laps                                                            225

Chapter XXVII

    Walter alone with a pious lady, or Juffrouw Laps on the war-path

Chapter XXVIII

    A midnight kiss--A wonderful statue in the "Juniper Berry"--
    Republicans and True Dutch hearts--A sailor with--Femke?        245

Chapter XXIX

    Sunrise on the "Dam"--An exciting encounter with a water-nymph--A
    letter from heaven--America, a haven for prodigal sons          260

Chapter XXX

    A message from Femke, which Walter fails to understand--Dr. Holsma
    to the rescue--Femke and family portraits--Femke, and once more
    Femke                                                           270

Chapter XXXI

    Stoffel's view of the matter--Juffrouw Laps's distress, and
    Juffrouw Pieterse's elation--Elephants and butterflies, and
    Kaatje's conception of heredity                                 279

Chapter XXXII

    A theatrical performance under difficulties--The contest between
    Napoleon and King Minos of Crete--A Goddess on Mt. Olympus--Kisses
    and rosebuds                                                    286

Chapter XXXIII

    Conclusion                                                      298



I don't know the year; but, since the reader will be interested to
know the time when this story begins, I will give him a few facts to
serve as landmarks.

My mother complained that provisions were dear, and fuel as well. So
it must have been before the discovery of Political Economy. Our
servant-girl married the barber's assistant, who had only one
leg. "Such a saving of shoe-leather," the good little soul argued. But
from this fact one might infer that the science of Political Economy
had already been discovered.

At all events, it was a long time ago. Amsterdam had no sidewalks,
import duties were still levied, in some civilized countries there were
still gallows, and people didn't die every day of nervousness. Yes,
it was a long time ago.

The Hartenstraat! I have never comprehended why this street should
be called thus. Perhaps it is an error, and one ought to write
Hertenstraat, or something else. I have never found more "heartiness"
there than elsewhere; besides, "harts" were not particularly plentiful,
although the place could boast of a poulterer and dealer in venison.

I haven't been there for a long time, and I only remember that the
Straat connects two main canal-streets, canals that I would fill up
if I had the power to make Amsterdam one of the most beautiful cities
of Europe.

My predilection for Amsterdam, our metropolis, does not make me
blind to her faults. Among these I would mention first her complete
inability to serve as the scene of things romantic. One finds here
no masked Dominos on the street, the common people are everywhere
open to inspection, no Ghetto, no Templebar, no Chinese quarter,
no mysterious courtyard. Whoever commits murder is hanged; and the
girls are called "Mietje" and "Jansje"--everything prose.

It requires courage to begin a story in a place ending with
"dam." There it is difficult to have "Emeranties" and "Héloises";
but even these would be of little use, since all of these belles have
already been profaned.

How do the French authors manage, though, to dress up their "Margots"
and "Marions" as ideals and protect their "Henris" and "Ernestes"
from the trite and trivial? These last remind one of M'sieu Henri or
M'sieu Erneste just about like our castle embankments remind one of
filthy water.

Goethe was a courageous man: Gretchen, Klärchen----

But I, in the Hartenstraat!

However, I am not writing a romance; and even if I should write one,
I don't see why I shouldn't publish it as a true story. For it is
a true story, the story of one who in his youth was in love with a
sawmill and had to endure this torture for a long time.

For love is torture, even if it is only love for a sawmill.

It will be seen that the story is going to be quite simple, in fact
too frail to stand alone. So here and there I am going to plait
something in with the thread of the narrative, just as the Chinaman
does with his pigtail when it is too thin. He has no Eau de Lob or
oil from Macassar--but I admit that I have never found at Macassar
any berries which yielded the required oil.

To begin, in the Hartenstraat was a book-shop and circulating
library. A small boy with a city complexion stood on the step and
seemed to be unable to open the door. It was evident that he was
trying to do something that was beyond his strength.

He stretched out his hand towards the door knob repeatedly, but
every time he interrupted this motion either by stopping to pull
unnecessarily at a big square-cut collar that rested on his shoulders
like a yoke, or by uselessly lifting his hand to screen an ingenuous

He was apparently lost in the contemplation of the pictures that
covered the panes of glass in the door, turning them into a model
chart of inconceivable animals, four-cornered trees and impossible
soldiers. He was glancing continually to one side, like a criminal
who fears that he is going to be caught in the act. It was manifest
that he had something in view which must be concealed from passers-by,
and from posterity, for that matter. His left hand was thrust under
the skirts of his little coat, clutching convulsively at something
concealed in his trousers pocket. To look at him one would have
thought that Walter contemplated a burglary, or something of the kind.

For his name was Walter.

It is a fortunate thing that it occurred to me to relate his history;
and now I consider it my duty to report that he was entirely innocent
of any burglarious or murderous intentions.

I only wish I could clear him of other sins as easily as this. The
object he was turning and twisting in his left breeches pocket was
not a house-key, nor a jimmy, nor a club, nor a tomahawk, nor any
infernal machine: It was a small piece of paper containing fourteen
stivers, which he had raised on his New Testament with Psalms at
the grocer's on the "Ouwebrug"; and the thing that held him fast on
the Hartenstraat was nothing more or less than his entrance into the
magic world of romance. He was going to read "Glorioso."

Glorioso! Reader, there are many imitations, but only one Glorioso. All
the Rinaldos and Fra Diavolos are not to be mentioned in the same
breath with Glorioso, this incomparable hero who carried away
countesses by the dozen, plundered popes and cardinals as if they
were ordinary fallible people, and made a testament-thief of Walter

To be sure, Glorioso was not to blame for this last, certainly not. One
ought to be ashamed to be a hero, or a genius, or even a robber, if
on this account one is to be held responsible for all the crimes that
may be committed years afterwards in the effort to get possession of
one's history.

I myself object to any accusation of complicity in those evil deeds
that are committed after my death in quenching the thirst for knowledge
of my fate. Indeed, I shall never be deterred from a famous career
merely by the thought that some one may sell the New Testament to
get hold of the "Life and Deeds of Multatuli."

"You rascal, what are you loitering around here for? If you want
anything, come in; if you don't, make yourself scarce."

And now Walter had to go in, or else abandon his cherished
Glorioso. But the man who bent over the counter and twisted himself
like a crane to open the door and snarl these words at our young hero
did not have a face that advised anything like turning back. He was
angry. At first Walter had not had the courage to go in; now he did
not dare to turn back. He felt himself drawn in. It was as if the
book-shop swallowed him.

"Glorioso, if you please, M'neer, and here----" He drew that infernal
machine from his pocket. "And here is money----"

For he had learned from his schoolmates, who had infected him with
this craving for romance, that at the circulating library strangers
must deposit a forfeit.

The shopman seemed to regard himself as "sufficiently protected"
by the sum produced. He took down a small volume, which was greasy
and well worn, and bore both within and without the traces of much
unclean enjoyment.

I am certain that the "Sermons of Pastor Splitvesel," which stood
undisturbed on the top shelf and looked down contemptuously on
the literature of the day, would have been ashamed to bring their
spotless binding into contact with so much uncleanliness. But it is
not difficult to remain clean in the upper row. I find, therefore,
that the "sermons" were unjust; and the same is true of many sermons.

After Walter had given his name to the man in a trembling voice, he
stuck the reward of his misdeed under his coat and hurried out the
door, like a cat making away with the prey for which it has waited
for hours.

Walter ran and ran, and did not know where to go. He couldn't go home;
he was watched too closely there,--which was not very difficult,
as the space was rather limited.

He selected quiet streets and finally came to a gateway that he
remembered to have seen several times. It was a low, smooth arch,
where it always smelled like ashes. Here, as a truant, he had taken
that leap! He was with Franz Halleman, who had dared him to cut sacred
studies and jump from the top of this arch. Walter did it just because
little Franz had questioned his courage.

To this escapade he was indebted for his great familiarity with the
prophet Habakkuk, whose prophecies he had to copy twelve times as
a penalty. Further, the sprain that he got in his big toe on that
occasion gave him a good barometer in that organ, which always warned
him of approaching rain.

In a certain sense Habakkuk is to be regarded as marking a transition
in Walter's life, viz. from nursery rhymes to books which deal with big
people. For some time he had felt his admiration for "brave Heinriche"
to be growing; and he was disgusted with the paper peaches that are
distributed as the reward of diligence in the beautiful stories. Of
any other peaches he had no knowledge, as the real article was never
seen in the houses he visited.

Nothing was more natural than that he should most ardently long to
talk with the older schoolboys about the wonders of the real world,
where people ride in coaches, devastate cities, marry princesses,
and stay up in the evening till after 10 o'clock--even if it isn't a
birthday. And then at the table one helps one's self, and may select
just whatever one wants to eat. So think children.

Every boy has his heroic age, and humanity, as a whole, has worn the
little coat with the big collar.

But how far can this comparison be carried? Where does the
identity stop? Will the human race become mature? and more than
mature?--old? Feeble and childish?

How old are we now? Are we boys, youths, men? Or are we
already----? No, that would be too unpleasant to think of.

Let us suppose that we are just in the exuberance of youth! We are
then no longer children exactly, and still we may hope something of
the future.

Yes, of the future,--when this stifling school atmosphere has been
blown away. When we shall take pleasure in the short jacket of the boy
that comes after us; when people will be at liberty to be born without
any legal permit, and will not be reviled for it; when humanity will
speak one language; when metaphysics and religion have been forgotten,
and knowledge of nature takes the place of noble birth. When we shall
have broken away from the nursery stories.

There is some silk for my Chinaman's pigtail. Some will say it is
only flax.


Walter thought neither of the heroic age nor of Chinese cues. Without
any feeling for the beauty of the landscape, he hurried along till
he came to a bridge that spanned a marshy ditch. After looking about
carefully to assure himself that he was alone, he selected this
bridge for his reading-room, and proceeded at once to devour his
robber undisturbed.

For a moment I felt tempted to make the reader a participant of
Walter's pleasure by giving a sketch of the immortal work that chained
the boy's attention. But aside from the fact that I am not very well
versed in Glorioso--which fact of itself, though, would not prevent me
from speaking about him--I have many other things of a more urgent
nature to relate, and am compelled therefore to take the reader
directly to the Hartenstraat, hoping that he will be able to find
his way just as well as if he had crossed the Ouwebrug--the old bridge.

Suffice it to say that Walter found the book "very nice." The virtuous
Amalia, in the glare of flaring torches, at the death-bed of her
revered mother, in the dismal cypress valley, swearing that her ardent
love for the noble robber--through the horrible trapdoor, the rusty
chains, her briny tears--in a word, it was stirring! And there was
more morality in it, too, than in all the insipid imitations. All the
members of the band were married and wore gloves. In the cave was
an altar, with wax tapers; and those chapters in which girls were
abducted always ended with a row of most decorous periods, or with
mysterious dashes--which Walter vainly held up to the light in his
effort to learn more about it.

He read to: "Die, betrayer!" Then it was dark, and he knew that it
was time to go home. He was supposed to be taking a walk with the
Halleman boys,--who were "such respectable children." With regret he
closed the precious volume and hurried away as fast as he could, for
he was afraid he was going to get a whipping for staying away so long.

"You will never get permission again"--thus he was always threatened
on such occasions. But he understood, of course, that they didn't mean
it. He knew too well that people like to get rid of the children for
a while when they are a little short of space at home. And then the
little Hallemans were "such extraordinarily respectable children;
they lived next to a house with a portico, and recently they had
taken off their little caps so politely."

Now, I don't believe that the Hallemans were any more respectable
than other boys of Walter's acquaintance; and, as I would like to
give some reasons for my belief, I am going to relate an incident
that had happened some time before this.

Walter never got any pocket-money. His mother considered this
unnecessary, because he got at home everything that he needed. It
mortified him to have to wait for an invitation to join in a game
of ball with his companions, and then be reminded that he had
contributed nothing towards buying the ball. In Walter's time that
useful instrument of sport cost three doits--just a trifle. Now
I suppose they are more expensive--but no, cheaper, of course, on
account of Political Economy.

On many occasions he was depressed by reason of this lack of money. We
shall see later whether what his mother said was true, or not: that he
received at home everything he needed. It is certain that at home he
never had the privilege of doing with some little thing as he pleased,
which is very nice for children. And for grown-up people, too.

The Hallemans--who were so especially respectable--gave him to
understand that they had no desire to bear all the expenses. Franz
calculated that Walter's friendship had already cost them nine
stivers, which I find high--not for the friendship, but merely
as an estimate. Gustave said it was still more; but that is a
detail. Gustave, too, had let him have four slate pencils, that he
might court "the tall Cecilia," who wouldn't have anything to do with
him because he wore a jacket stuck in his trousers--the kind small
boys wore then. She accepted the pencils, and then made Gustave a
present of them for a kiss.

The reproaches of the little Hallemans, who were so very respectable,
almost drove Walter to despair.

"I have told my mother, but she won't give me anything."

The little Hallemans, who were so respectable, said: "What's that
you're giving us? You're a parasite."

This was the first time Walter had ever heard the word, but he knew
what it meant. Nothing sharpens the wits like bitterness of heart.

"A parasite, a parasite--I'm a parasite," and he ran off screaming,
making a detour in order to avoid the street where Cecilia's father
had a second-hand store. Oh, if she had seen him running through
the street crying like a baby--that would have been worse than the
breeches pulled up over his jacket!

A parasite, a parasite!

He met lots of grown-up people who perhaps were parasites, but they
were not bawling on this account.


He saw a policeman, and caught his breath when he got by him, surprised
that the man hadn't arrested him.


Then came a street-sweeper with his cart, who seemed to rattle that
hateful word after him.

Our little sufferer remembered that the Halleman boys had once told
him what a fortune could be made by peddling peppermint drops. For
twenty-four stivers one could buy a big sack full. By selling so
and so many for a doit, the profit would be enormous. If one only
had the capital to begin! The Hallemans had calculated everything
very exactly; for they were not only very respectable, but also very
cunning. Cunningness and respectability usually go hand in hand. They
had said, all that was needed was the capital. They would attend to
laying in the stock, and would assume all responsibility for the sale
of the same. If Walter would chip in just a florin, they could raise
the rest and all would go well.

Parasite.... Parasite....

Walter slipped a florin from his mother's box of savings and brought
it to the Halleman boys, who were so remarkably respectable.

"Where did you get it?" asked Gustave, but careful not to give Walter
time to answer, or to fall into an embarrassing silence.

"Where did you get it?"--without any interrogation point--"fine! Franz
and I will each add one like it. That'll make twenty-four, and then
we'll buy the peppermints. There's a factory on the Rosengracht--such
a sack for four shillings. Franz and I will do everything. We'll
have more opportunity at school, you understand. Christian Kloskamp
has already ordered twelve; he'll pay after the holidays. We'll take
all the trouble; you needn't do anything, Walter--and then an equal
divide. You can depend upon it."

Walter went home and dreamed of unheard-of wealth. He would put a
dollar in his mother's savings-bank, and buy for Cecilia a lead pencil
from the man who had picked holes in the wood-work of his wagon with
them. So strong were they! That would be something entirely different
from those slate pencils; and if the tall Cecilia still wouldn't
have him, then--but Walter did not care to think further. There are
abysses along the path of fancy that we do not dare to sound. We see
them instinctively, close the eyes and--I only know that on that
evening Walter fell asleep feeling good, expecting soon to have a
good conscience over his little theft and hoping that Cecilia would
give him a happy heart.

Alas, alas! Little Walter had made his calculations without taking into
consideration the slyness and respectability of the Hallemans. They
lay in wait for him the next day as he came from school. Walter,
who had painted to himself how they would be panting under the
weight of the great sack; Walter, who was so anxious to know if
Christian Kloskamp had taken what he had ordered; Walter, who was
burning with curiosity as to the success of the venture--oh, he was
bitterly disappointed. Gustave Halleman not only carried no sack of
peppermints. What's more, he had a very grave face. And little Franz
looked like virtue itself.

"Well, how is everything?" Walter asked, but without saying a word. He
was too curious not to ask, and too fearful to express the question
otherwise than by opening his mouth and poking out his face.

"Don't you know, Walter, we've been thinking about the matter; and
there's a lot to be said against the plan."

Poor Walter! In that moment both his heart and his conscience suffered
shipwreck. Away with your dreams of ethical vindication, away with
the gaping money-boxes of mothers--away, lead pencil that was to
bore a hole in the hard heart of the tall Cecilia--gone, gone, gone,
everything lost.

"You see, Walter, the mint-drops might melt."

"Y-e-s," sobbed Walter.

"And Christian Kloskamp, who ordered twelve--don't you know----"


I wonder if Christian was likely to melt too.

"He is leaving school, and will certainly not return after the

"H-e-e i-i-s?"

"Yes, and for that reason, and also because there are not anything like
so many to the pound as we had thought. Mint-drops are heavy. We've
calculated everything, Franz and I."

"Yes," added little Franz, with the seriousness of one giving
important advice in a time of great danger, "the things are very
heavy at present. Feel this one; but you must give it back to me."

Walter weighed the mint-drop on his finger and returned it

He found it heavy. Ah, in this moment he was so depressed that he
would have found everything heavy.

Franz stuck the piece of candy into his mouth, and sucking at it

"Yes, really, very heavy. These are the English drops, you know. And
then there is something else, too, isn't there, Gustave? The propriety,
the respectability! Tell him, Gustave."

"The respectability," cried Gustave, significantly.

"We mean the respectability of it," repeated Franz, as if he were
explaining something.

Walter looked first from one to the other, and did not seem to

"You tell him, Gustave."

"Yes, Walter, Franz will tell you," said Gustave.

"Walter, our papa is a deacon, and carries a portfolio, and there
where we live is a----"

"Yes," cried Gustave, "there on the Gracht, you know, lives M'neer
Krulewinkel. He has a villa----"

"With a portico," added Franz.

"It's just on account of our standing--don't you see, Walter? And
when a visitor comes our mother brings out the wine."

"Yes, Maderia, Maderia! And our tobacco-box is silver, and----"

"No, Franz, it isn't silver; but, Walter, it looks just like silver."

Our poor little sinner understood all of this, but he failed to see
what bearing it might have on his own disappointed hopes. He stuttered:
"Yes, Gustave--yes, Franz--but the peppermint----"

"We just wanted to tell you that we are very respectable, don't
you see?"

"Yes, Gustave."

"And well-behaved."

"Y-e-e-s, Franz." Poor Walter!

"And then as you said you never got any pocket-money----"

"Yes, Walter--and don't you know? Because our papa is so
respectable--when winter comes you can see how he looks after the

"Yes, and he rings at every door. And--and--we are afraid, that

"That you----"

"The florin----"

"The florin! You understand?"

"That you didn't get it----"

"That you didn't get it honestly. That's it," said Franz, sticking
another mint-drop into his mouth, perhaps to brace himself up.

It was out at last. Poor, miserable Walter.

"And on that account, Walter, we would rather not keep the money,
but just divide now--equally, as we all agreed."

"Yes," cried Gustave, "divide equally. The work--we--you understand?"

They divided the profits. And the Hallemans were sleek about
it. Twenty-four stivers; three into twenty-four goes eight times,

Walter received eight stivers.

"Don't you see," explained Gustave, "we couldn't do it, because our
papa is a deacon."

"Yes--and our tobacco-box, even if it isn't pure silver, it's just
like silver."

My lack of faith in the extreme respectability of the Hallemans
is based upon the foregoing story; and I am inclined to think that
all this "respectability" of which Walter heard so much at home was
only an excuse on his mother's part to get him out of the way. For
there was a lack of room. If she had wanted to use Walter about the
house, it is questionable if she had discovered anything especially
respectable about those boys.

Many laws and most customs have their origin in a "lack of room"--in
the intellect, in one's character, in the house or flat, in the fields,
in the city.

This applies to the preference for the right hand--a result of
crowding at the table--to the institution of marriage, and to many
things lying between these extremes.


We will not try to explain further this fruitful principle of
"limitation of space." Walter knew the fruit of it, even if he failed
to recognize the origin. He was not worried so much by the mere coming
home as by the punishment he expected to receive as soon as that New
Testament should be missed. He had returned from his little excursion
into the country with Glorioso, and now in Amsterdam again the memory
of his recent offense--or shall I say the anticipation of what was
coming?--lay heavily on his mind.

If we could think away all the results of crime committed, there
would be very little left of what we call conscience.

But Walter consoled himself with the thought that it wasn't a thimble
this time. The testament will not be missed at once, he reflected,
because Sunday was a long way off, and no one would ask about it
during the week.

No, it was not a thimble, or a knitting-needle, or a sugar-bowl,
or anything in daily use.

When our hero got home, he stuck his greasy Glorioso under Leentje's
sewing-table--the same Leentje who had sewed up his breeches after
that wonderful leap, so that his mother never found out about it. She
went down to her grave in ignorance of these torn breeches.

But Leentje was employed to patch breeches and such things. She
received for this seven stivers a week, and every evening a slice of
bread and butter.

Long after the Habakkuk period, Walter often thought of her humble
"Good-evening, Juffrouw; good-evening, M'neer and the young Juffrouwen;
good-evening, Walter," etc.

Yes, Walter's mother was called Juffrouw, on account of the
shoe-business. For Juffrouw is the title of women of the lower middle
classes, while plain working women are called simply Vrouw. Mevrouw
is the title of women of the better classes. And so it is in the
Netherlands till to-day: The social structure is a series of classes,
graduated in an ascending scale. Single ladies are also called
Juffrouw, so that Juffrouw may mean either a young lady or a young
matron--who need not necessarily be so young. The young Juffrouwen
were Walter's sisters, who had learned how to dance. His brother
had been called M'neer since his appointment as assistant at the
"intermediate school," a sort of charity school now no longer in
existence. His mother had spliced his jacket that he might command
the respect of the boys, and remarked that the name "Stoffel" scarcely
suited him now. This explains why Leentje addressed him as M'neer. To
Walter she simply said Walter, for he was only a small boy. Walter
owed her three stivers, or, to be exact, twenty-six doits, which he
never did pay her. For, years afterward, when he wanted to return the
money to her, there were no more doits; and, besides, Leentje was dead.

This pained him very much, for he had thought a great deal of her. She
was ugly, even dirty, and was stoop-shouldered, too. Stoffel, the
schoolmaster, said that she had an evil tongue: She was thought to
have started the report that he had once eaten strawberries with
sugar in the "Netherlands." This was a small garden-restaurant.

I am willing to admit the truth of all this; but what more could one
expect for seven stivers and a slice of bread and butter? I have known
duchesses who had larger incomes; and still in social intercourse
they were not agreeable.

Leentje was stooped as a result of continuous sewing. Her needle
kept the whole family clothed; and she knew how to make two jackets
and a cap out of an old coat and still have enough pieces left for
the gaiters that Stoffel needed for his final examination. He fell
through on account of a mistake in Euclid.

With the exception of Walter nobody was satisfied with Leentje. I
believe they were afraid of spoiling her by too much kindness. Walter's
sisters were always talking about "class" and "rank," saying that
"everyone must stay in his place." This was for Leentje. Her father
had been a cobbler who soled shoes, while the father of the young
Juffrouwen had had a store in which "shoes from Paris" were sold. A
big difference. For it is much grander to sell something that somebody
else has made than to make something one's self.

The mother thought that Leentje might be a little cleaner. But I am
going to speak of the price again, and of the difficulty of washing
when one has no time, no soap, no room, and no water. At that time
waterpipes had not been laid, and, if they had been, it's a question
if the water had ever got as far as Leentje.

So, everyone but Walter had a spite against Leentje. He liked her,
and was more intimate with her than with anyone else in the house,
perhaps because the others could not endure him, and there was nothing
left for him to do but to seek consolation from her. For every feeling
finds expression, and nothing is lost, either in the moral or in the
material world. I could say more about this, but I prefer to drop the
subject now, for the organ-grinder under my window is driving me crazy.

Walter's mother called him, "That boy." His brothers--there were
more beside Stoffel--affirmed that he was treacherous and morose,
because he spoke little and didn't care for "marbles." When he did say
anything, they attributed to him a relationship with King Solomon's
cat. His sisters declared he was a little devil. But Walter stood
well with Leentje. She consoled him, and considered it disgraceful
that the family didn't make more out of such a boy as Walter. She
had seen that he was not a child like ordinary children. And I should
scarcely take the trouble to write his story if he had been.

Up to a short time after his trip to Hartenstraat, Ash Gate and the
old bridge, Leentje was Walter's sole confidant. To her he read
the verses that slender Cecilia had disdained. To her he poured
out his grief over the injustice of his teacher Pennewip, who gave
him only "Fair," while to that red-headed Keesje he gave "Very good"
underscored--Keesje who couldn't work an example by himself and always
"stuck" in "Holland Counts."

"Poor boy," said Leentje, "you're right about it." They went over into
the Bavarian house. It's a disgrace! And to save a doit on the pound.

She claimed that Keesje's father, who was a butcher, let Pennewip
have meat at a reduced price, and that this was what was the matter
with all those Holland counts and their several houses.

Later Walter looked upon this as a "white lie," for Pennewip, when
examined closely, didn't look like a man who would carry on a crooked
business with beefsteak. But in those days he accepted gladly this
frivolous suspicion against the man's honor as a plaster for his own,
which had been hurt by the favoritism towards Keesje. Whenever our
honor is touched, or what we regard as our honor, then we think little
of the honor of others.

When his brothers jeered at him and called him "Professor Walter,"
or when his sisters scolded him for his "idiotic groping among
the bed-curtains," or when his mother punished him for eating up
the rice that she intended to serve again "to-morrow"--then it was
always Leentje who restored the equilibrium of his soul and banished
his cares, just as, with her inimitable stitches, she banished the
"triangles" from his jacket and breeches.

Ugly, dirty, evil-tongued Leentje, how Walter did like you! What
consolation radiated from her thimble, what encouragement even in
the sight of her tapeline! And what a lullaby in those gentle words:
"There now, you have a needle and thread and scraps. Sew your little
sack for your pencils and tell me more of all those counts, who always
passed over from one house into another."


I don't know what prophet Walter got as punishment for that pawned
Bible. The pastor came to preach a special sermon. The man was simply
horrified at such impiousness. Juffrouw Laps, who lived in the lower
anteroom, had heard about it too. She was very pious and asserted
that such a boy was destined for the gallows.

"One begins with the Bible," she said significantly, "and ends with
something else."

No one has ever found out just what that "something else" is which
follows a beginning with the Bible. I don't think she knew herself,
and that she said it to make people believe that she possessed much
wisdom and knew more about the world than she gave utterance to. Now,
I admit that I have no respect for wisdom that cannot express itself
in intelligible words, and, if it had been my affair, I should have
very promptly drawn a tight rein on Juffrouw Laps.

Stoffel delivered an exhortation in which he brought out all that had
been forgotten by the preacher. He spoke of Korah, Dathan and Abiram,
who had erred similarly to Walter and had been sent to an early grave
for their sins. He said too, that the honor of the family had been
lost at the "Ouwebrug," that it was his duty, "as the eldest son of an
irreproachable widow and third assistant at the intermediate school,
to take care of the honor of the house----"

"Of Bavaria," said Leentje softly.

That "a marriage, or any other arrangement for the girls, would be
frustrated by Walter's offence, for no one would have anything to do
with girls who----"

In short, Stoffel accented the fact that it was "a disgrace," and that
"he would never be able to look anyone in the face who knew of this
crime." He remarked distinctly that the schoolboys must know of it,
for Louis Hopper had already stuck out his tongue at him!

And finally, that he "shuddered to cross the new market-place"--in
those days criminals were scourged, branded and hanged here--because
it reminded him so disagreeably of Juffrouw Laps's horrible allusion
to Walter's fate.

Then followed all sorts of things about Korahs, Dathans and Abirams,
whereupon the whole family broke out in a wail. For it was so pathetic.

Walter comforted himself with thoughts of Glorioso, and, whenever that
"something else" of Juffrouw Laps was spoken of, he just dreamed of
his marriage with beautiful Amalia, whose train was carried by six
pages. I fancy Juffrouw Laps would have made a pretty face if she
had learned of this interpretation of her mysterious climax.

All efforts to compel our hero to tell how he had spent that money were
in vain. After all known means had been applied, the attempt to force a
confession had to be abandoned. Water and bread, water without bread,
bread without water, no water and no bread, the preacher, Stoffel,
Habakkuk, Juffrouw Laps, tears, the rod--all in vain. Walter was not
the boy to betray Glorioso. This was what he had found so shabby of
Scelerajoso, who had to pay the penalty, as we have seen.

As soon as he got the privilege of walking again with the Hallemans,
who were so eminently respectable, he hurried away to the old bridge,
near Ash Gate, to continue his thrilling book. He read up to that
fatal moment when he had to tell his hero good-bye, and on the last
page saw Glorioso, as a major-general, peacefully expire in the arms
of the virtuous Alvira.

When Walter had returned the book to Hartenstraat his eye was attracted
by some almond-cakes at the confectioner's on the corner. He did with
Glorioso just as the Athenians did with Kodrus: No one was worthy to
be the successor of such a hero, and within a few days the residue
of the New Testament had been converted into stomach-destroying pastry.

I ought to add that a part of the "balance" left after that Italian
excursion--perhaps the part contributed by the Psalms--was invested
in a triple-toned, ear-splitting, soul-searing harmonica, which was
finally confiscated by Master Pennewip as being a disturbing element
in the schoolroom.


I don't feel called upon to pass judgment on the strife between
Leentje and Pennewip regarding the latter's partiality towards Keesje,
the butcher's son. But that fiery feeling for right and justice
which has harrassed me from my earliest youth--ah, for years have I
waited in vain for justice--and the foolish passion for hunting after
mitigating circumstances, even when the misdeed has been proved--all
this compels me to say that Pennewip's lot might be considered a
mitigating circumstance for a man convicted of the eight deadly sins.

I have found that many great men began their careers as feeders of
hogs (see biographical encyclopedias); and it seems to me that this
occupation develops those qualities necessary in ruling or advancing

If the theologists should happen to criticise this story, and perhaps
accuse me of far-reaching ignorance, because I enumerate one cardinal
sin more than they knew of, or of the crime of classifying man as
a sort of hog, I reply that, still another new canonical sin could
be discovered that they have never studied. And that ought to be as
pleasing to them as influenza is to the apothecary.

New problems, gentlemen, new problems!

And as for our relationship with pigs, just consider the relation
of coal to diamond, and I think everyone will be satisfied--even
the theologists.

What a magnificent prospect anyone has who spends his tender youth
with those grunting coal-diamonds of the animal world! But I have
often wondered that in the "Lives of Famous Men" we so seldom read of
a school-teacher, for in the school all the ingredients of greatness
are abounding.

The reverse is more often true. Every day we see banished princes
teaching lazy boys. Dionysius and Louis Philippe are not the only
ones. I myself once tried to teach an American French. It was no go.

If it should ever become customary again to elect kings, I hope the
people will elect such persons as have studied men, just as one studies
Geography on globes or maps. All virtues, propensities, passions,
mistakes, misdeeds, knowledge of which is so indispensable in human
society, can be studied much better in the schoolroom. The field is
restricted, and can be taken in more readily. The famous statecraft
of many a great man, if the truth were known, had its origin in that
old tripping trick, which is everything to the three-foot Machiavellis.

The task of a schoolmaster is not an easy one. I have never understood
why he is not better paid, or, since this must be so, why there are
still men who prefer to teach, when on the same pay they might be
corporals in the army, and teach the use of firearms, which offers
fewer headaches and more fresh air.

I would even rather be a preacher; for he does work with people who are
interested and come to hear him of their own free will. The teacher
has to fight continually with indifference, and with the extremely
dangerous rivalry of tops, marbles, and paper-dolls--not to speak of
candy, scarlatina and weak mothers.

Pennewip was a man of the old school. At least he would seem so to
us if we could see him in his gray school jacket and short trousers
with buckles, and his brown wig, which he was continually pushing
into place. At the first of the week this was always curly, when it
was not raining--rain isn't good for curls; and on Sundays "the man
with the curling irons" came.

Antiquated? But perhaps this is only imagination. Who knows? perhaps
in his day he was quite modern. How soon people will say the same
of us! At all events, the man called himself "Master" and his school
was a school and not an "Institute." It is no advance to call things
by other than their right names. In his school boys and girls sat
together indiscriminately, according to the naïve custom of those
days. They learned, or might learn, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic,
National History, Psalmody, Sewing, Knitting, and Religion. These
were the order of the day, but if anyone distinguished himself by
a show of talent, diligence or good behavior, that one received
special instruction in versification, an art in which Pennewip took
great pleasure.

Thus he taught the boys till they were sufficiently advanced to be
confirmed. With the help of his wife he gave the girls a "finishing
course." They were graduated with a paternoster done in red on a black
background, or perhaps a pierced heart between two flower-pots. Then
they were through and ready to become the grandmothers of their
own generation.

There was no natural science then. Even to-day there is room for
improvement along this line. It is said that some advance has been
made recently. It is more useful for a child to know how corn grows
than to be able to call the name of it in a foreign language. I don't
say that either is incompatible with the other.

The public schools were most deficient at the time when Walter and
Keesje were slowly crawling around the arena of honor; but I doubt if
one could say much more of the "institutes" of to-day. I would advise
everyone to visit such a school as he attended when a boy; and I am
convinced that after this test many a father who has the welfare of
his children at heart will prefer to keep them at home. One comes to
the conclusion, that after all in the school of clever Master Miller,
who was so clever that he got himself addressed as M'sieu Millaire,
precious little was to be learned.

Failing to make this test we continue to believe in the infallibility
of M'sieu of Millaire. We always consider that one a great man whom
we have known in childhood and haven't seen since.

When I remarked a moment ago that school-teachers are paid so
niggardly, I didn't mean that their remuneration was insufficient,
considering the quality and quantity of the goods delivered--knowledge,
scholarship, education. I only had in mind the bitterness of their
lot, and the poor indemnity given to the man who spends his life in
a wasp's nest.

In addition to versifying, Pennewip had still another hobby, which gave
him more claim to a throne than did anything else. He was possessed
with the mania for classifying, a passion known to few, but still of
not infrequent occurrence. I have never quite understood the disease;
and I gave up my search for the "first cause" as soon as I saw how
difficult it is to get around with a hobby-horse taken from somebody
else's stable. So I am going to give only a short sketch of Pennewip's
harmless animal.

Everything that he saw, perceived, experienced he divided into
families, classes, genera, species and sub-species, and made of the
human race a sort of botanical garden, in which he was the Linne. He
regarded that as the only possible way to grasp the final purpose
of creation and clear up all obscure things, both in and out of
school. He even went so far as to say that Walter's New Testament
would have turned up again if Juffrouw Pieterse had only been able
to tell to what class the man belonged who had bound the volume in
black leather. But that was something she didn't know.

As for myself, I shouldn't have said a word about Pennewip's mania for
classifying everything, if I hadn't thought it might help me to give
the reader a better picture of our hero and his surroundings. I should
have preferred to leave the said Pennewip in undisturbed intercourse
with the muses; but we shall have occasion later to refer to his
poetic art, when we shall quote some poems by his pupils.

After the usual general division into "animate" and "inanimate"--the
good man gave the human race only one soul--followed a system that
looked like a pyramid. On the top was God with the angels and
spirits and other accessories, while the oysters and polyps and
mussels were crawling about down near the base, or lying still--just
as they pleased. Half way up stood kings, members of school-boards,
mayors, legislators, theologians and D.D.'s. Next under these were
professors and merchants who do not work themselves. Then came
doctors of things profane, i. e., those driving double rigs, also
lawyers and untitled preachers, the Colonel of the City Militia,
the Rector of the Latin School. Philosophers (only those who have
developed a system), doctors with one horse, doctors without any
horse and poets were further down. Rather low down, and not far from
the mussels, was the seventh sub-division of the third class of the
"citizen population." Our hero would come under this sub-section.

    Citizen Population, Class III., 7th Sub-Division.

    People Living in Rented Flats.

    a. Entrance for tenants only. Three-window front. Two stories,
    with back-rooms. The boys sleep alone, dress, however, with
    the girls. Fresh straw in case a baby is born. Learning French,
    poems at Christmas. The girls are sometimes called Lena or Maria,
    but seldom Louise. Darning. The boys work in offices. One girl
    kept, sewing-girl, and "person for the rough work." Washing
    at home. Read sermons by Palm. Pickled pork on Sundays, with
    table-cloth, liquor after coffee. Religion. Respectability.

    b 1. Still three windows. One story. Neighbors live above who ring
    twice (Vide b. 2). Leentje, Mietje; Louise heard seldom. House-door
    opened with a cord, which is sleek from long use. Sleep in one
    room. Straw-heaps in cases of confinement. One maid-servant
    for everything. Sundays cheese, no liquor, but religion and
    respectability as above.

    b 2. Neighbors who ring twice. About as above. No maid, only a
    "person for the rough work." Seamstress. White table-cloth. Cheese
    from time to time, only occasionally. Religion as above.

    c. One story higher. Two-window front. Small projecting
    back-room. The entire family sleeps in two beds. No trace of
    straw. The boys are called Louw, Piet, or Gerrit, and become
    watchmakers or type-setters. A few become sailors. Continual
    wrangle with the neighbors about the waste-water. Religion as
    above. Associate with "respectable folk." Read "Harlemmer" with
    III. 7, b. 2. No maid, or person for rough work, but a seamstress
    on seven stivers and a piece of bread and butter.

That brings us to Juffrouw Pieterse.

The reader will now have a very good idea of Walter's environment, and
will readily understand why I said he had a "city complexion." That
was when we saw him in the Hartenstraat, on the road to fame, or on
the road to that nameless "other thing" of Juffrouw Laps. At all
events he was on his way to things that will occupy our attention
for some time yet.


It was Wednesday, and the Pieterses were going to give a
party. Juffrouw Laps had been invited, also the Juffrouw living
over the dairy, whose husband was employed at the "bourse." Further
Mrs. Stotter, who had been a midwife for so long and was still merely
"very respectable." Then the widow Zipperman, whose daughter had
married some fellow in the insurance business, or something of the
kind. Also the baker's wife. That was unavoidable: it was impossible
to buy all kinds of pastry and cakes without her finding out what
was up. Then the Juffrouw living below and to the rear. Of course
she wouldn't come, but the Pieterses wanted to show that they had
forgotten the late quarrel over the broken window-pane. If she didn't
come that was the end of the matter, so far as Juffrouw Pieterse was
concerned. She would have nothing more to do with the Juffrouw from
below. I may add that the lady from below did not come, and that her
name was stricken from the calling-list of those higher up.

The children were to go to bed early, with the promise of a cup of
sage-milk for breakfast if they would not make any noise the entire
evening. This drink largely took the place of tea then. It was thought
that the "noise" made by children would not be appreciated. Walter
got permission to go play with the Halleman boys, who were thought
to be very respectable. He must be at home by eight o'clock; but this
was said in a tone that gave him no cause to fear a reprimand in case
he should stay out later. Laurens, who of course was an apprentice to
a printer, and usually came home about seven o'clock in the evening,
was big enough to be present with the guests, but must promise to sit
still and drink only two glasses. The big girls were to be present
as a matter of course: They had been confirmed. Stoffel presided. His
business was to meet the gentlemen when they came for the ladies about
ten o'clock, and entertain the company with stories of Mungo Park.

Leentje was to remain till the people were all there, as it was so
inconvenient to have to open the door every time. She could make
herself useful in arranging the table and doing other things incident
to such occasions. But she "must move about a little brisker,"
otherwise they would prefer to do everything themselves.

The eldest of the girls, Juffrouw Truitje, must look after the
"sage-milk." Pietje had charge of the sandwiches; but Myntje was to
see to it that the butter was spread a little thicker, for the last
time the bread had been too dry.

Everything was going to turn out so nicely, "if only Juffrouw
Laps wouldn't talk so much." That was her failing. And, too, they
hoped that the widow Zipperman would "brag a little less about her
son-in-law." This was considered a source of weariness. And the
Juffrouw who lived over the dairy "might be more modest." She had
"never lived in such a fine house"; and as for the shop--that was no
disgrace; and on the top floor--but one cannot tell how it will be.

No one understood why the baker's wife used so many French words, which
was not becoming in one of her station. "If she does it this evening,
Stoffel, say something to me that she can't understand, then she will
find out that we are not 'from the street,' that we know what's what."

"It's all the same to me," Juffrouw Pieterse continued, "whether the
Juffrouw downstairs comes or not. I don't care a fig about it.--Four,
five--Louw can sit there, but he must keep his legs still--and a chair
there--yes--so! It's a good thing she's not coming; it would have been
too crowded. Leentje, go to work--do blow your nose! No, run over to
Juffrouw Laps's and ask the Juffrouw if the Juffrouw could spare a
few stools--without backs, you understand; because the chairs there
by the chimney--yes, ask the Juffrouw for a few stools, and tell the
Juffrouw that they are for me, and that I expect the Juffrouws about
seven. Give my compliments to the Juffrouw and wipe your nose."

Juffrouw Pieterse didn't like to use personal pronouns; it was

On this afternoon Walter went to his bridge early. It was now not
so useless as usual, for the rain of the day before had filled the
ditch with water, which was even running, so that the straws which
Walter thoughtlessly, or full of thought--both are about the same
thing--threw into the water were carried down to the pond, where
the logs lay that were to be sawed up by the "Eagle" and the "Early
Hour." These were the names of the sawmills that for some weeks had
been the witnesses of Walter's daydreams.

Glorioso was gone, and could not be replaced; but on those afternoons
when he was free Walter returned involuntarily to the spot where he had
had his first glimpse of the world of romance. How rough and crude the
colors in that first picture! Perhaps it was the very roughness of the
colors that attracted him and changed him, till he could not conceive
how he had ever found enjoyment in the little cakes on the corner.

A peculiar prospective had opened up before him. He dreamed of things
that he could not name; but they made him bitterly dissatisfied with
his present condition. He was anxious to do everything prescribed
to get to Heaven; but he thought it would be much easier to pray in
such a cave with wax candles. And as for honoring his mother, a point
upon which she always laid great stress--why didn't she have a train
like the countess? Certainly he ought not to have sold the Bible;
and he wouldn't do it any more--he had vowed it; but then he ought
to have had a box filled with florins, and a feather in his cap,
just as it was in the book.

He was disgusted with his brother Stoffel, and his sisters, and
Juffrouw Laps, and the preacher and everything. He couldn't understand
why the whole family didn't go to Italy and form a respectable
robber-band. But Pennewip and Keesje shouldn't go; that was certain.

He wondered what had become of his verses. Every Wednesday such
pupils as had been well-behaved, and, for that reason, deemed worthy
to contest for the "laurel," handed in a poem written on some subject
suggested by the teacher. This time the subject assigned to Walter was
"Goodness," which probably had some reference to his former behavior,
and was a hint for the improvement of his moral character. But Walter
had already put goodness into rhyme so often, and found the subject so
dry and tedious and worn-out that he had taken the liberty of "singing"
something else. He selected the theme nearest his heart--robbers!

Like all authors he was greatly infatuated with his work. He was
convinced that the teacher, too, would see the excellencies of his poem
and forgive him for deviating from the path of goodness. The verses
would undoubtedly be sent to the mayor, and he would pass them on to
the Pope, who would then summon Walter and appoint him "Court-robber."

And thus he dreamed and threw his straws into the stream. They
moved away slowly and disappeared between the moss-covered
timbers. Involuntarily his fancy had transmuted them into the
characters of his world of romance. There went the countess with
her long train, which got caught in the moss and held the countess
fast. The virtuous Amalia met with no better luck; she got tangled
up in the water lentils. And now came Walter himself. He approached
Amalia, in her green robes, and was just about to rescue her, when
he was swallowed by a duck. This was most unkind of the duck, for
it was Walter's last stalk of grass; and now in the rattling and
buzzing of the sawmills below he could hear Amalia repeating in a
reproachful voice:

            "Warre, warre, warre, we;
            Where is warre, warre, wall--
            Walter, who will rescue me?"

This annoyed him, and he could not resist the temptation to throw
a rock at the duck whose greediness had caused Amalia to doubt his

The duck chose the better part, and retired after she had done Walter
all the damage she could. But the sawmills paid no attention to these
happenings and continued to rattle away.

Walter heard now in the noisy clatter of the mills all kinds of songs
and stories, and, listening to these, he soon forgot Amalia and the
Pope. That the reader may not get a wrong impression of these mills,
I hasten to say that there was really nothing extraordinary about
them. They buzzed and rattled just like other sawmills.

It often happens that we think we perceive something which comes from
the external world, when in fact it is only a subjective product in
ourselves. Similarly, we may think we have just imagined something,
when really it came to us from the world of the senses.

This is a kind of ventriloquism that often gives cause for annoyance
and enmity.

I wonder which turns the faster?--Walter listened to the mills. Now--I
think--no, begin together. Good! No, the Eagle was ahead! Once

Which will get there first? No, that won't do. Once more together. Look
sharp, Morning Hour,--out again! I can't hold my eye on it--what a
whirling and buzzing!

You are tired, are you? I believe it.

If I might only sit on such a big wing, wouldn't I hold on tight? And
wouldn't the sawyer look?

Why are you called "Morning Hour"? Have you gold in your mouth? And
"Eagle"! Can you fly? Take me with you. What a big play-ground up
there, and no school!

I wonder how the first school began. Which came first, the school,
or the teacher? But the first teacher must have attended a school. And
the first school must have had a teacher.

So the first school must have just started itself. But that is
impossible. "Eagle," can you turn yourself?--with the wind? Can you
turn yourself some other way? Try it. Beat "Morning Hour." Quick,

Now, once more alone. Good!

Now, together again! Karre, karre, kra, kra--stretch your arms out and
take me with you. Will you? Put your hat on, Eagle; how the ribbons
fly.--Who are you? Warre, warre, ware, wan--I can't help it; it was the
duck. Tell me what your name is. Fanny, fanny, fanny, fan---- Is your
name fan? And you, Morning Hour, what is your name? Ceny, ceny, ceny,
ce. What kind of a name is Ce? Now together--sing a song together:

            Fanny, fanny, fanny, fan--
            Ceny, ceny, ceny, ce--
            Fanny, ceny, fanny, ceny,
            Fanny, ceny, fan--cy.

Fancy--what do you mean by that? Is that the name of both of you? And
what is it? Has it wings?

"Morning Hour" and "Eagle" had fused into something that had wings
and was called fancy.

Fancy lifted Walter up and bore him away.

When she brought him back to the bridge again it had already been
dark for a long time. He shook himself as if he were wet, rubbed his
eyes and started home. We shall see later what awaited him there;
but first we must go back a few hours. I hope the reader will not
disdain an invitation to Juffrouw Pieterse's. Remember that her
husband never made anything, but bought everything ready-made in Paris.

In passing by I should like to make Master Pennewip a short visit.


School was out; and the seats looked as if the pupils had just left
the tediousness of it all lying there. The map of Europe looked down
peevishly on the heap of writing-pads. There lay the mutilated and
well-worn goose-quills, which since time immemorial have opened up
the gates of learning. True, the black-board vaunted itself with the
heavy results of the last lesson in "fractions"; but the school was
no more. The spirit had fled: It was a corpse.

Yes, the "Geist" had gone out with the children; for the reader will
see in a moment that they carried about with them a tremendous amount
of that article.

We already know that this was the great day when Pennewip was to
criticise the poetical effusions of his young geniuses. There he sat,
his restless wig sharing all the poetical feelings and emotions--and
motions--of its owner. We will just look over his shoulder and read
with him those inestimable treasures of poetic art; and perhaps we
too shall be moved to emotion.

Wig: In the middle, resting quietly.

    Lucas de Bryer: "Our Native Land."

    Cake and wine and native land,
    Out in the moonlight I take my stand;
    Our native land and cake and wine,
    And I hope the moon will shine;
    Five fingers have I on my hand,
    All to honor our native land.

"Melodious," said the teacher, "very melodious; and very profound. Cake
and wine, with our native land as a climax."

Wig: On the right side.

    Lizzie Webbelar: "My Father's Vocation."

    The cat is sly, I know;
    My father is a dealer in Po-
    Tatoes and onions.

"Original, immediate! But I don't like the way she cuts her potatoes
in twain."

Wig: On the left side.

    Jeanette Rust: "The Weather-cock."

    He stands on the chimney since long ago,
    And shows the wind which way to blow.

"Smooth, but not quite correct, if examined closely--but I'll let it
pass as poetic license."

Wig: Down in front.

    Leendert Snelleman: "Lent."

    In Lent it is always nice,
    My brother's birth-day is in May,
    He says his feet need warming,
    So that Lent we must be praising,
    And then we're going to celebrate,
    Easter brings eggs and a holiday.

"It's too bad that he's so careless with his rhymes. His imagination
is extraordinary. Very original."

Wig: Down on his neck.

    Keesje, the Butcher's Boy: "In Praise of the Teacher."

    My father has slaughtered many a steer,
    But Master Pennewip is still living, I hear;
    Some are lean, and some are well-fed,
    He has slipped his wig to the side of his head.

The wig actually went to the side of his head.

"Well, this is curious. I hardly know what to say about it."

The wig slipped to the other side.

"What's the connection between me and steers?"

The wig protested vigorously against any implication of relationship
with steers.

"H--mm! Can it be that this is what our new-fangled writers call

The wig sank down to his eyebrows, which signified doubt.

"I will call up the boy and----"

The wig passed again to the zenith, to express its satisfaction with
the teacher's determination to interview the butcher's boy.

    Lucas de Wilde: "Religion."

    Religion very nice must be,
    Much it pleases the people we see.

"The fundamental idea is very beautiful," said the teacher, "but it
ought to have been developed better."

The wig nodded acquiescence.

    Trudie Gier: "Juffrouw Pennewip."

    The path of virtue she shows us each day,
    And we are glad to go that way;
    And as there's nothing to do more fitting,
    She teaches us sewing, darning and knitting.

The wig fairly leaped with pleasure, and the curls embraced one
another. This out-pouring of Trudie's heart was borne at once to
Juffrouw Pennewip, and was later hung by the fireplace in honor of
the poetess and the subject of the poem.

Then followed a sublime poem on God by Klaasje van der Gracht, the
son of the Catechist. He was thirteen years old, and had not been
vaccinated--out of regard for predestination.

"If only his father didn't help him!"

The wig was rigid with astonishment.

    Louwtje de Wilde: "Friendship."

    Friendship very nice must be,
    Much it pleases the people we see.

The wig seemed dissatisfied. The "Religion" of Lucas de Wilde was
pulled out and compared with Louwtje's "Friendship."

"H--emm. It is possible. Another example of how one thought can
originate in two heads at the same time."

    Wimpje de Wilde: "Fishing."

    Fishing very----

"What's that?"

Yes, really, there it was again:

    Fishing very nice must be,
    Much it pleases the people we see.

The wig was moving continually. It looked as if it were fishing too.

The teacher looked hurriedly through the remaining poems and picked out
the offspring of the entire Wilde connection. His worst suspicions were
realized. Mietje de Wilde, Kees de Wilde, Piet and Jan de Wilde--all
uniformly declared that religion, friendship, fishing, dreaming,
cauliflower and deception "very nice must be," and that they were
also very pleasing "to the people we see." A regular flood of the
nice and pleasing.

Now, what do you suppose the wig did? It did the best thing that
could be done under the circumstances. More could not be expected of a
wig. As soon as it saw the futility of its efforts to comprehend the
difference between fishing, friendship, deception, dreams, religion
and cauliflower, it merely ignored the whole matter, readjusted itself
and assumed an expression of expectancy for what was yet to come.

    Leentje de Haas: "Admiral de Ruyter."

    Pulling the rope with emotion,
      To the top of the mast he came,
    And then he went to the ocean,
      And won for himself great fame.

    And very much more he perfected,
      Saleh he vanquished, too;
    A hero he was then elected,
      With nothing else to do.

The wig lifted itself, the curls applauding enthusiastically. It was
evidently pleased.

    Grete Wauzer: "The Caterpillar."

    The caterpillar, free from care,
    Crawls on the tree just over there.

"Descriptive poetry. A daring idea--the caterpillar crawling on the
tree free from care."

Wig: Quiet.

Ah, the pleasure of a wig is short-lived! And how soon was this
one--but I will not anticipate. Soon, all too soon, the reader will
know the worst.

    Walter Pieterse: "A Robber Song."

"Aha, what's this? And 'goodness'? But where has he written on

The teacher could scarcely believe his eyes. He turned the sheet of
paper over and examined the back side, hoping to discover there some
lines on goodness.

Then he saw that on Walter's sheet there was not a trace of "goodness."

Oh, wretched wig!

Yes, wretched wig! For after it had suffered as never wig had
suffered before, after it had been pulled at and tugged at
and martyred in a manner beyond even the imagination of the
Wilde family, Master Pennewip snatched it from his head,
twisted it convulsively in his hands, stammered a short
"Heaven-human-Christian-soul-good-gracious-my-life--how is it
possible!" slapped it on his head again, covered it with his venerable
cap and burst out the door like one possessed.

He was on his way to Walter's home, where we shall soon see him
arrive. As a conscientious historian, however, it will be my duty
first to give an account of the happenings there.


"Goodness, I'm glad to see you! And so early, too! Leetje, place a
chair over there and get the footstool, but be in a hurry, or I'd
rather do it myself. And how are you? Juffrouw Laps is coming too,
you know--Myntje, you'd better be thinking of your dough and stop
combing your head. That girl can't keep her hands off of her hair
when there's company. But do take a seat--no, not in the corner;
there's a draft there."

There was no more draft in this corner than is usual to corners;
but Mrs. Stotter was only a Vrouw, and not a "Juffrouw." She had
no right to the seat of honour; for on all occasions a Juffrouw
takes precedence of a Vrouw, just as a Mevrouw takes precedence of
a Juffrouw. Everyone must keep his place, especially those in III,
7, b1; or c., where etiquette is observed more closely than at the
court of Madrid. The care and anxiety of the mistress of ceremonies
make her work most trying, and, too, not merely for Juffrouw Pieterse.

"Ah, my dear Juffrouw Pieterse, I was so surprised when Louwie came
to invite me, for I had just remarked to Wimpje, who makes caps, you
know--no, thank you, Pietje, I don't care for any just now--I said
to Wimpje, I wonder what Juffrouw Pieterse is doing, for I hadn't
heard from you in so long, you know--yes, just throw it aside, it's
my old one; I knew you wouldn't mind my wearing my old one--and then
Wimpje said----"

What Wimpje really said I don't know. Mrs. Stotter's garment, which she
had described as her "old one," was removed and placed on the foot of
the bed in the back room. The children, who were piled together there
like sardines, were duly admonished not to stretch out their feet,
lest in doing so they injure Mrs. Stotter's "old" garment.

"And now, my dear, be seated--yes, that's for us, twice
already. Leentje, where are you hiding now? Can't you hear that
somebody is ringing?--It's probably Juffrouw Zipperman. Juffrouw
Zipperman is coming, too, you know."

Again I am at a loss: I don't know whether it was Juffrouw Zipperman
who had rung, or somebody else. But the reader need not scold me for
writing a story that I don't know myself. I cannot be sure whether it
was Juffrouw Zipperman this time or Juffrouw Mabbel, from the bakery,
or Juffrouw Krummel, whose husband is at the bourse, or Juffrouw
Laps--but she didn't need to ring, as she lived in the house. Anyway,
by half past seven the entire company was assembled, and Stoffel was
smoking his pipe as if his life depended upon it. Leentje had gone home
without her piece of bread and butter. She "could get it to-morrow";
to-day there was "so much to do," and "one can't do everything at once,
you know."

"And then she got another one right away--don't you know? One with
a wart on her nose."

"Ah, it's an ordeal one has with girls," said Juffrouw Pieterse. "Take
another piece, don't wait to be insisted upon; it's a cake from your
own dough."

"Excusez," said the Juffrouw from the bakery, with a mouth like a
rabbit, a style of mouth signifying graciousness and good breeding.

"You must eat more, or I shall think you don't like it." She had
baked it herself.

"Then I cannot refuse, Juffrouw Pieterse. Obligé and many thanks."

"And you, Juffrouw Laps, what can I pass you?" Juffrouw Laps selected
ginger cake.

"Fill the cups, Trudie! Yes, Mrs. Stotter, when you are here you must
drink with us. You are welcome to anything we've got. Pietje, wipe off
a table--such a girl! And now go and look after the baby, and tell
her that I don't want to hear any more noise. Ah, Juffrouw Mabbel,
children are a great deal of trouble. And your little Sientje--how
is her cough now?"

"We've got a magnetisier, but that isn't enough. We must have the
clairvoyange of the sonnebule."

"You don't say so! One can hardly believe it. And when is he coming,
the cler--cleek--clar----"

"It's in the nerves, Juffrouw Zipperman. But he has the little nightcap
and nightgown, in which she has sweated, you know; and he says that
it will come all right now."

"Who would have thought it! What will you do now?"

"That's just it; the sonnebule must tell us what to do."

Juffrouw Laps could not agree to this.

"I wouldn't do it--I wouldn't do it--not for anything in the world! I
tell you, what God does is all right. Just mark my words!"

"Yes, Juffrouw Laps; but the Juffrouw at the provision store did it,
and her child is lots better."

"That's what you say, Juffrouw Mabbel, but I tell you there is
something in her eye that I don't like."

"What then, Juffrouw Laps?"

"She has a look, a look--and it's sin--I tell you it is. It's wrong,
it won't do. What God does is all right."

"Come, Stoffel, talk some. You sit there like a stone. Recite a poem,
or tell us something about your school. Would you believe it, Juffrouw
Mabbel, he knows a whole poem by heart. And he has memorized all the
verbs of the feminine gender."

"Mother, what are you talking about?" said Stoffel, displeased. "Don't
you see I'm smoking?"

"Yes, dear, I meant when you were through smoking. Then you can repeat
the words. You will be surprised, Juffrouw Zipperman, and wonder where
he learned it all. How does it go? 'I would have been drunk, he would
have been drunk'--of course, you know, he was not drunk, it belongs
with the verbs. You will kill yourself laughing when he begins. Fill
the cups, Trudie, and blow in the spout; there's a leaf over it."

The reader will not take it amiss, I trust, if I pass over the
subsequent history of this leaf, and, too, make some deviations from
the text of the conversation during the further course of Juffrouw
Pieterse's tea-evening. Stoffel spun off his conjugations and the
ladies fairly shrieked when he related how "he had been drunk" and
that "he would be drunk." Thereupon followed general and particular
criticism of the neighbors. The Juffrouw below received her share,
as a matter of course: She was absent.

Religion and faith play an important part. Juffrouw Laps was for
organizing a prayer-class. The preachers of to-day, she insisted,
take their work too lightly and don't sweep out all the corners.

"I tell you, it's in the Bible that man is only man," she cried;
"that's what I want to tell you. Man must not try to know better than
God himself. Salvation comes through grace, and grace through faith;
but if a man is not chosen, then he has no grace and can have no
faith. That's the way he is damned, don't you see? I tell you, it's
just as certain as twice two--understand? And for that reason I want
to have a prayer-class. Not for the sake of money or profit--God help
me, no! At most just a trifle for the fair, or for New Year. What do
you think of the plan, Juffrouw Mabbel?"

That lady expressed the opinion that her husband would be opposed to
it, for he liked to go out of evenings, and then she must stay in the
shop. Besides, it was so difficult to get through with the work. No
one could imagine what a laborious occupation baking was.

"What do you say, Juffrouw Zipperman? Don't you think it would be a
go? I would serve coffee; and the people could leave something on the
saucers. Really, I am not doing it for the money. We would begin with
the Old Testament--and then--exercise, you know; practice--understand?"

Juffrouw Zipperman thought it would be very nice; but her son-in-law
had said that the preachers are paid to do this, and that any
additional "exercise" was merely an unnecessary expense.

"What do you say to it, Juffrouw Krummel? Don't you think that such
a class--just a small class----"

Juffrouw Krummel said she practiced with her husband when he came
from the bourse.

Juffrouw Laps was now forced to turn to Mrs. Stotter, though she felt
that she was letting herself down in appealing to a Vrouw.

"Ah, my dear Juffrouw Laps, if you had been a midwife as long
as I have you'd take no interest in a prayer-class. Now there is
M'neer Littelman in Prince Street. I've been at his house--always in
respectable houses--and he always said--it's a house with high steps,
and in the hall there's a big clock about the wind and rain--and he
always said: 'Vrouw Stotter,' said he, 'you're a good woman,' said he,
'and a faithful midwife. I always tell the people that,' said he,
'and,' said he, 'all of my connection must send for you,' said he,
'but,' said he, 'when people tell you this you must act as if you
didn't hear it'--thank you, Juffrouw Pieterse, my cup is turned
over. Just as I said: Everyone must know what he's doing."

"But just a little exercise like that, Mrs. Stotter!"

"It's possible, it's possible. But I've had so much experience in such
things. I go my own way; and that's the best way, too. For I've been in
the home of M'neer Witte, who has an uncle in congress--for I always
go to respectable places--and he always said, because he's so funny:
'Child-woman, child-woman, you're nothing but a child-woman.' I was
just going to say that I know what I'm doing, for I've seen a lot in
my life. There's M'neer--what's his name? There in Prince Street--no,
no, Market Square. Oh, what is his name!"

The reader will have noticed that Mrs. Stotter digressed from the
theme. But other folk do the same.

"And Juffrouw Pieterse, what do you think of the idea? Just a little

"Ah, my dear, I have exercise enough with my children. You don't know
what it means to bring up nine. I always worship with the children,
for the Bible says--Trudie, go to the baby; I hear her again."

There was something noble in Trudie's gait as she walked into that
back room. One could see that she felt flattered by the transmission
to her of maternal dignity. Little Kee, the baby, was less flattered.

"What were we talking about? Yes, that is my religious service. The
children keep me busy. You don't know anything about it; if I bring
them up properly--run, Pietje, and straighten out Simon. He's pinching
his sister again; he always does it when there's company."

Simon was straightened out.

"Whenever we have company the children behave so badly. There it
goes again. Myntje, go and see what's the matter and tell them to go
to sleep."

Myntje went, returning immediately with the report that they had
"turned something over."

General indignation. Angry message from the Juffrouw below. It was
unpleasant for the Juffrouw below when the children of the Juffrouw
above turned over things and flooded the back room. Terrible

Finally the children were straightened out.

Juffrouw Zipperman again sat in the corner where there was such a
"draft." This only goes to show that earthly greatness has its dark
side, and that a son-in-law in the insurance business entitles one
to rheumatism.

Juffrouw Laps was greatly pleased with the hearty manner in which
punishment was meted out to the children. It was exactly according
to Scripture, she said; and then she cited a text or two in which
the rod was prescribed. It's in the Bible somewhere, I don't know
where. The Bible mentions everything, and the "rod" especially.

"Now, Stoffel," said the hostess sweetly, "recite something for
us." She wanted to show that her children could do something else
besides pinch and turn things over.

"I don't know anything," said Stoffel, but without a trace of Socratic

"Just say for us what you said the other day. Come, Stoffel. That's
the way he always is, Juffrouw Mabbel. One has to pull him up on his
feet before he will do anything. But then he goes all right. Forward,
Stoffel! He's tired now. Teaching in such a school is hard work. Yes,
Juffrouw, he's as smart as he can be. Would you believe it? All words
are either masculine or feminine. Aren't they, Stoffel?"

"No, mother."

"No? But--and the other day you said--it's only to get him started,
you know, Juffrouw Zipperman, it takes a little time, because he's
worn out with his school work--but you said that all words----"

"No, mother. Masculine, feminine or neuter, I said."

"Yes, and still more," said Juffrouw Pieterse. "You will be astonished
when you hear him. What do you suppose you are, Juffrouw Krummel?"

"I? What I am?"

"Yes, yes, what you are--what you really are."

"I am Juffrouw Krummel," she said, but doubtfully; for she read in
the triumphant look of Juffrouw Pieterse and the tightly closed lips
of Stoffel that she might easily be something entirely different from
Juffrouw Krummel.

The tension did not need to be farther increased; so Juffrouw Pieterse
passed now from the special to the general. Her glance took in the
entire company.

"And you, too, Juffrouw Mabbel; and you, Juffrouw Laps; and you,
Juffrouw Zipperman; and you, Mrs. Stotter--what do you all think
you are?"

No one knew.

This will not be surprising to anyone who knows how difficult knowledge
of the "self" is; but Stoffel had something else in mind. There was
a deeper meaning involved.

Juffrouw Laps was the first to answer, and she spoke with proud

"I am Juffrouw Laps!"

"Wrong, wrong--entirely wrong!"

"But for Heaven sake, am I not Juffrouw Laps?"

"Y-e-s. Of course you are Juffrouw Laps; but Stoffel didn't ask who
you were, but what you were. There's the fine point."

"What I am? I'm Dutch Reform!"

"Y-e-s. That you are, too; but--it isn't that. The question is,
What are you? Help her out, Stoffel."

Between puffs of smoke, and with the air of a professor, Stoffel
proceeded to "help":

"Juffrouw Laps, I wished to know what you were from a zoölogical

"I won't have anything more to do with it," said Juffrouw Laps in
the tone of one who feels that he is going to be insulted.

"I am a midwife," said Mrs. Stotter, "and I'm going to stick to it."

"And I am the baker's wife," cried Juffrouw Mabbel, with a positiveness
in her tone which showed her intention to hold to this opinion.

"Certainly, certainly, Juffrouw Mabbel; but I mean from a zoölogical

"If it's going to be indecent, I prefer to go home."

"I, too," added Juffrouwen Krummel and Zipperman. "We came here to
be entertained."

"But you're not going to get angry about it! I tell you, it's in
the book, Stoffel--you will laugh when you hear it, Juffrouw Mabbel;
and the best part of it is, that it's in the book, and one can't say
anything against it. Tell her, Stoffel!"

"Juffrouw Laps," said Stoffel with dignity--an important moment in
Juffrouw Pieterse's tea-evening had arrived--"Juffrouw Laps, you are
a sucking animal."

I admit frankly that I cannot adequately describe the crisis that
followed these two words. If Stoffel had only said mammal, perhaps
then my task would have been easier.

Juffrouw Laps's face took on all the different colors that are
generally supposed to express anger. She had been attacked more openly
than the others, it is true; but her attitude toward the prayer-class
would go to show that she was naturally polemical.

In French novels people used to turn green; but Juffrouw Laps did not
read French, so she stopped at a terrible violet and screamed--no,
she didn't. She didn't scream anything; for she was choking for
breath. But she did pulverize that piece of ginger cake; and she
looked at Stoffel and his mother in a manner that would have been most
damaging for her if those two persons had happened to die that night.

Imitating the trick of the cuttle-fish, no doubt unconsciously,
Stoffel managed to escape this fatal stare by enveloping himself in a
heavy cloud of smoke. Juffrouw Pieterse, however, not being a smoker,
was at the mercy of Juffrouw Laps. She stammered humbly: "It's in
the book, really it's in the book. Don't be angry, it's in the book."

By this time Juffrouw Laps was getting a little air, so much that
there was now no danger of her suffocating. She threw the mutilated
remains of the ginger cake on the table and began:

"Juffrouw Pieterse, you are nothing but a low, vile, filthy--you
may even be a sucking animal, you and your son too. I want you
to understand that I've always been respectable. My father sold
grain, and nobody's ever been able to say anything against me! Ask
everybody about me--if I've ever run with men-folk, and such things;
and if I haven't always paid my debts. He was manager I would have
you understand, and we lived over the chapter-house, for he was in
the grain business, and you can ask about me there. Thank God, you
can ask about me everywhere--do you hear? But never, never, never,
has such a thing happened to me. What you put on me! If it wasn't
for lowering myself I'd tell you what I think of you--you sucking
animal, you and your son and your whole family. My father sold grain,
and I'm too respectable for you to----"

"But--it's in the book that way. For God's sake believe me; it's in
the book."

"Just hold your lip about your book. Anybody who sells God's holy
word on the Ouwebrug needn't talk to me about books."

This accusation was false; for Walter, and not his mother, had sold
the Bible; but this was no time for such fine distinctions.

"Stoffel, go get the book and show Juffrouw--my God, what shall I do!"

"Go to the Devil with your book and your sucking animals. You've got
nothing to show in your book. I know you--and your lout of a son,
and your wenches of daughters, that are growing up like----"

Truitje, Myntje and Pietje, understanding from this that there
was something radically wrong with their growth, began to screech
too. Other members of the party bawled a word from time to time,
as opportunity presented itself. Then came another message from the
Juffrouw below. This time she threatened to call in the police. The
children, taking advantage of the general excitement to break the
ban under which they had been placed, had left the bed and were
now listening at the keyhole. Juffrouw Pieterse was calling for the
camphor bottle, declaring that she was going to die; Mrs. Stotter
was clamoring for her wrap--her "old one"; and Stoffel was playing
cuttle-fish as well as he could.

All had got up and were going to leave. They could "put up with a
good deal," but that was "too much"! Juffrouw Krummel was going to
tell her husband; Juffrouw Zipperman was going to let everybody in the
insurance business know about it; Mrs. Stotter was going to relate the
whole story to the gentleman in Prince Street; and Juffrouw Mabbel--I
forget whom she was going to tell it all to. In short, every one of
them was going to see to it that the affair was well aired.

Who knows but what these threats would have been carried out, if the
good genius of the Pieterses had not at that moment caused someone
to ring the door-bell? It was that worthy gentleman whom we left in
such a state of pious despair at the close of the last chapter.


Yes, the door-bell rang. And it rang again: So it was "for
us." Juffrouw Pieterse drew a long breath; and I must say, she did
a very proper thing. While admitting that it is foolish to say what
one would do if one were somebody else, still, in her place I should
have drawn a long breath, too. Firstly, because I imagine she hadn't
done this for a long time; secondly, because I know how, in adverse
circumstances, every change and interruption gives one ground for
hope; and, finally, because I think Juffrouw Pieterse was human,
just like the rest of us.

"Ah, my dears," she said, "be peaceable. It must be the gentlemen."

The ladies declared it couldn't be the gentlemen, because it was
too early for them; and this very doubt and uncertainty as to who it
might be gave the crisis a favorable turn.

Mere uncertainty, even when in no way connected with what is occupying
us, has a sort of paralyzing effect. Besides, when one is interrupted
in one's anger, afterwards it is difficult to find the place where
one left off.

This was Juffrouw Laps's experience; she tried it, but it wouldn't
work. Her "a sucking animal, a sucking animal!" was smothered by,
"What can it mean? He never comes before ten!"

Juffrouw Pieterse quickly availed herself of this diversion to get
them all seated again.

Trudie was commissioned to "straighten out" the children, who came off
rather badly. The hostess was just about to state a new zoölogical
argument, which should establish peace between the hostile parties,
when the door opened and Master Pennewip stood before the agitated

He, too, was agitated: the reader knows it.

The surprise caused by the arrival of this unexpected visitor had a
most favorable effect on the peace negotiations. A truce was tacitly
declared, though not without the proviso, at least on Juffrouw Laps's
part, that hostilities should be reopened as soon as curiosity as to
Pennewip's visit had been sufficiently satisfied. Indeed, she was
all the more willing for a truce, as it was evident from the man's
appearance that there was something momentous at hand. His wig cried
out fire and murder in unmistakable tones. And that was just what
the good Juffrouw Laps liked.

"Good-evening, Juffrouw Pieterse; my humblest respects. I see you
have company, but----"

"That 'doesn't make a bit of difference,' Master Pennewip. 'Come
right in and take a seat.'"

These forms of expression were rigidly observed in the "citizen
populace," III, 7. c.

"Won't you drink a cup with us?"

"Juffrouw Pieterse," he said with extreme dignity, "I didn't come
here simply to drink a cup of sage-milk."

"But, Master Pennewip, please be seated!"

It wasn't easy; but the ladies made room and he was soon seated.

He cleared up his throat and looked about him with dignity. Then
he drew a roll of manuscript from his pocket, disarranged his wig
and spoke:

"Juffrouw Pieterse! You are a worthy, respectable woman, and your
husband sold shoes----"

Juffrouw Pieterse looked triumphantly at Juffrouw Laps.

"Yes, Master Pennewip, quite so; he did----"

"Don't interrupt me, Juffrouw Pieterse. Your departed husband sold
shoes. I have taught your children from little tots up to their
confirmation. Haven't I, Juffrouw Pieterse?"

"Yes, Master Pennewip," she replied modestly; for she was afraid of
that excessive dignity in Pennewip's manner and voice.

"And I just want to ask you, Juffrouw Pieterse, whether, during all
this time that your children were in my school, you ever heard any
complaints--reasonable complaints--of the manner in which I, with
my wife, instructed your children in reading, writing, arithmetic,
national history, psalmody, sewing, knitting, drawing and religion? I
put the question to you, Juffrouw Pieterse, and wait for a reply."

An awful silence followed this speech. The Juffrouw below had every
reason to be satisfied.

"But, Master Pennewip----"

"I don't want any 'but', Juffrouw Pieterse. I ask you, whether you
have had any complaints. I mean, of course, well grounded complaints
about my instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic----"

"Well, no, Master Pennewip, I have no complaints; but----"

"So-oo? No complaints? Well, then I will explain to you--where is
your son Walter?"

"Walter? Dear me! Hasn't he come home, Trudie? He went to take a
walk with the Halleman boys. They are such respectable children,
Master Pennewip, and they live----"

"So! With the Hallemans--who go to the French school! Aha, and
that's it? So--from the Hallemans! And he learns such things from the
Hallemans--the Hallemans III, 7, a2, perhaps 'a'--yes, who knows but
that it might be II. It's no wonder--immorality, viciousness--at the
French school! And now, Juffrouw Pieterse, I want to tell you that
your son----"

"What did you say?"

Master Pennewip looked about him as if he were drinking in the
breathless silence that had fallen over his hearers.

Juffrouw Laps hastened to repay with compound interest that triumphant
look of the hostess, while that lady, thoroughly miserable, was making
frequent use of the camphor bottle. She was not so much mortified that
Juffrouw Laps should hear something else unfavorable about Walter,
who had caused them so much trouble, as angry that she should be
the witness of an accusation that would give her a new weapon in the
zoölogical fray.

"Didn't I tell you so? Nothing good will ever come to this Walter. A
boy that begins with the Bible will end with something else. Yes,
Master Pennewip, I'm not surprised--I shouldn't be surprised at
anything he did. I've seen it coming for a long time. But what
shouldn't one expect from a family----"

As quick as a flash Juffrouw Pieterse saw here her opportunity to
recover her lost advantage. Stoffel had said it was in the book;
but a teacher must know whatever is in a book. Therefore----

"Master Pennewip," she cried, "Is it true that Juffrouw Laps is a
sucking animal?"

I am convinced that Pennewip brought this question under a special
category for "peculiar overflowings of the heart," seeing that it
followed upon his unfinished accusation against Walter. He looked
over his glasses and slowly described with his eye a circle, peopled
with women holding their breath, heads and necks stretched out and
mouths wide open. The attitude of Juffrouw Laps was threatening above
everything else, and said quite distinctly: Answer or die! Am I a
sucking animal?

"With whom have I the honor to speak?" he asked, probably not
considering that this question made the matter still more mysterious,
giving the impression that Laps's animal quality depended upon her
name, age, place of residence, family relations, etc.

"I am Juffrouw Laps," she said, "and live down stairs in the front
part of the house."

"Ah--so! Yes, indeed you belong to the class of sucking animals."

A ten-fold sigh was heaved; and Juffrouw Pieterse was again
triumphant. In politics and the citizen populace complete equilibrium
is impossible. The parties or powers are in continual motion, first
one in the ascendency, then the other.

Juffrouw Laps, who had not been able to accomplish anything with pride,
now attempted good humor.

"But Master Pennewip," she said sweetly, "how can you say such a
thing? My father was in the grain business and----"

"Juffrouw Laps, answer me one question."

"Yes, Master Pennewip, but----"

"Answer me, Juffrouw Laps, where do you live?"

"Where I live? Why, in my room, down stairs--two windows--front

"You miss the significance of my question entirely, Juffrouw Laps. The
meaning would be similar if I were to ask you if you belonged to that
class of organisms that live in oyster-shells."

"Yes, yes, Juffrouw Laps," cried the triumphant hostess, "that's the
point--the main point!"

And Stoffel added that it was really and truly the main point.

Juffrouw Laps saw that she was hopelessly lost, for she had to admit to
herself that she didn't usually reside in an oyster-shell. She looked
at the teacher with astonishment; but he paid no attention at all to
the effect of his questions. Assuming a sort of legal manner--which
was closely imitated by his wig, he continued:

"Can you live in water? Have you gills?"

"In water? But--Master Pennewip----"

Wig to the left, which meant: No, but!

"Or half in water, half on land?"

"Master Pennewip, how should I----"

Wig to the right: No subterfuges.

"Answer me, Juffrouw Laps, have you cold blood? Do you bring living
young into the world?"

"It is a sin, Master Pennewip!"

The wig now looked like a battering-ram, anticipating the nature of
the next question.

"Can you lay eggs, Juffrouw Laps? I only ask you the question. Can
you lay eggs? Eh?"

She said she couldn't.

"Then you are a sucking animal, Juffrouw Laps!"

The wig was in the middle again resting quietly. It had vanquished
Juffrouw Laps.

I wonder what the reader's idea is of the effect produced on the
company by this terrible sentence, against which there could be no
appeal. There was something pitiless in Pennewip's manner, and in
his contracted eyebrows there was no intimation of mercy.


The attentive reader who knows human nature will naturally wish to
know why I closed the last chapter so tamely, and why that zoölogical
problem which, only a short time before had caused such a violent
explosion, was now allowed to rest in peace.

There are three reasons for this.

Firstly, the women had been so wrought up that they were now exhausted.

Secondly, Juffrouw Laps, the shrewd leader of the fight, looked over
the battlefield and, without thinking of the famous battle between
the Horatii and the Curiatii, saw with innate tactical talent the
correctness of "divide and conquer." With the forces Stotter, Mabbel,
Krummel and Zipperman against the house of Pieterse--that was all
right. But now that the house was supported by Pennewip's powerful
hand, it was prudent to withdraw from the battle. For who could
guarantee her that she might depend upon her allies? What assurance
had she that the midwife, or even Juffrouw Zipperman would not go over
to the enemy?--if only out of deference to the versatile wig! No, no,
no! She wouldn't risk her rhetorical artillery in such a doubtful
engagement! She was content to say to herself, "I will get even
with you later." Imagining her, with all her relations to society,
multiplied by twenty or thirty millions, we would have read the next
day in this or that official Laps organ something like this:

"Our relations with the Pietersian empire are most cordial. The
recent friendly meeting between the two sovereigns was merely that
they might have the mutual pleasure of seeing one another, and had
no political significance whatever. It will be seen how unfounded
were those rumors of 'strained relations,' which were said to have
been brought about by a discussion of certain characteristics of our
popular princess. The reader will recall that we never gave credence
to those rumors, and reported them with great reserve."

Thirdly. The third and chief cause of the armistice
was--curiosity. Under the present changed circumstances whoever
betrayed any anger would have to leave; and whoever left would not
find out why Master Pennewip had come, or what new crime Walter had
committed. Again we see the truth of the proposition, that everything
has its good side.

"But, Master Pennewip," asked Juffrouw Pieterse--she threw the
subdued sucking animal a look that was like a triumphant telegram,
and read: Where are you now?--"but Master Pennewip, what has Walter
been doing now?"

"Yes, what has he been up to this time," added Juffrouw Laps, delighted
that the conversation had taken this turn, and that she was now to
hear about Walter's latest sin.

For the sinner is a thing in which pious persons find much
edification. As we have already seen, Juffrouw Laps was fond of

Pennewip was just on the point of beginning his indictment when the
door-bell rang. It rang again: "It's for us"--and in a moment our
truant walked into the room.

He was paler than usual, and with good reason; for strange things
had happened to him since Fancy had lifted him up and borne him away.

"Juffrouw Pieterse," began Pennewip, "my school is famous, even as
far away as Kattenburg. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, Master Pennewip."

"I repeat it: Famous! And, too, chiefly on account of the fine moral
there--I mean, of course, in my school. Religion and morality occupy
the first place in my school. I could show you verses on the Deity--but
I pass over that. It is sufficient for you to know that my school is
famous as far as--but what am I talking about--I've even had a boy
from Wittenburg; and I was once consulted about the education of a
boy whose father lived at Muiderberg."

"Oh, Master Pennewip!"

"Yes, Juffrouw, I still have the letter and could show it to you. The
man was a gravedigger--the boy painted inappropriate figures on
the coffins. And just for this reason I feel it my duty to tell you
that I don't intend to see my school lose its good name through that
good-for-nothing boy of yours there!"

Poor Walter had fallen from the clouds. That sounded quite different
from a papal appointment--which he really no longer cared for, as he
had just received another appointment that pleased him better.

His mother wanted to pass immediately to what she called her "divine
worship" and give him a sound thrashing, in order to satisfy the
teacher that religion and morality took the first place in her
house, too.

But the teacher found it preferable to tell the party what the
trouble was, and incidentally to strengthen the feeling of guilt in
the patient.

"Your son belongs to the class of robbers, murderers, ravishers of
women, incendiaries----"

That was all.

"Holy grace! Heavenly righteousness! Compassionate Christian souls! Ah,
divine and human virtue, is it possible! What must we endure!"

I cannot always be exact; but, in general, such was the flood of
exclamations that all but swept away that ten-year-old robber,
murderer, ravisher of women and incendiary.

"I am going to read you something from his hand," said the teacher,
"and then if anybody still doubts the boy's viciousness----"

All tacitly promised to have no doubts.

The work that the teacher read was indeed of such a nature as to leave
small room for doubts; and I, who have chosen Walter for my hero,
anticipate difficulty in convincing the reader that he was not so
bad as he seemed--after his

    "Robber Song."

    "On the steed,
    Off I speed,
    With helmet on head
    And a sword in my hand and the enemy dead;
    Quick, away!"

"Christian souls," cried the whole party, "is he mad?"

    "Rather late,
    Near the gate
    A push and a blow,
    Vanquished dragoon, Margrave laid low----"

"Heaven save us, what has he against the Margrave," wailed the mother.

    "For the spoil!"

"Don't you see, it's for booty," said Juffrouw Laps. "I told you so:
He began with the Bible, he'll end with----"

    "And the prize--
    Pretty eyes----"

"Did you ever hear the like--he has scarcely shed his milk teeth!"

    "And the prize--
    Pretty eyes--
    She was bought with steel----"

"With ste-e-l!"

    "And the prize--
    Pretty eyes--
    She was bought with steel;
    I bore her away to the cave just to feel
    How it seemed."

"Heavenly grace, what is he going to do in the cave?"

    "In my arm,
    Free from harm
    Lay the maid as we sped;
    Her cries, sweet complaints, and the tears----"

"Oh, blessed peace, and the poor thing crying!"

    "Her cries, sweet complaints, and the tears she shed--
    O, delight!"

"And he calls that delight! I'm getting right cold."

    "Then again,
    O'er the plain----"

"Holy Father, there he goes again!"

    "Then again,
    O'er the plain.
    Right and left, nothing spurned,
    Here a villa destroyed or a cloister burned
    For fun."

"The Devil is in that boy. For fun!"

    "Farther yet,
    I forget--
    But the deeds they were dire,
    And the road was marked with blood and fire
    And revenge!"

"Mercy on us! What had they done to him!"

    "Revenge's sweet,
    And is meet
    For the King of the World----"

"Is he crazy? I'll make him a king!"

    "Revenge's sweet
    And is meet
    For the King of the World,
    Who alone is supreme, with a banner unfurled

"What sort of a thing is he talking about?"

    "All! Hurrah!
    But, I say----"

Everybody shuddered.

    "All! Hurrah!
    But, I say
    No pardon shall be lavished,
    The men shall be hanged and the women----"

"Trudie, Trudie, the camphor bottle! You see--I----"

    "The men shall be hanged and the women ravished----"

"The camphor bottle! Trudie, Trudie!"

    "For pleasure!"

"For pleasure," repeated the teacher in a grave-yard voice, "for


The company was stupefied. Even Stoffel's pipe had gone out.

But Walter's was not a nature to be easily disturbed. After his mother
had beaten him till she came to her senses again, he went to bed
in the little back room, far from dissatisfied with the day's work,
and was soon dreaming of Fancy.


On the next day things had largely resumed their wonted course. That
someone may not charge me with carelessness, or indifference towards
the persons with whom we spent a pleasant evening, I will remark
in passing that Juffrouw Mabbel was again busy with her baking and
"clairvoyange," and that Mrs. Stotter had resumed her activities with
the stork. Those unfortunate creatures who were committed to her care
she condemned to lie motionless for two or three months--perhaps to
give the newly born an idea of their new career, and, at the same time,
to punish them for the shameful uproar they had caused by their birth.

As for Master Pennewip, he was busy, as usual, educating future
grandparents of the past. His wig had not yet recovered from the
excitement of the night before and was longing for Sunday.

Klaasje van der Gracht had been awarded the prize with an impressive,
"Keep on that way, my boy"; and he kept on. I still see poems in
the papers whose clearness, conciseness and sublimity betray his
master hand. I have heard that he died of smallpox--he had not been
vaccinated; it will be remembered--but I consider it my duty to
protect him from any such slander. A genius does not die; otherwise
it wouldn't be worth while to be born a genius. Still, if Klaas had
died like other people, his spirit would have lived in those coming
after him. And that is a beautiful immortality.

The family de Wilde, too, has not died out, and will not die. I am
certain of it.

Juffrouw Krummel asked her husband if she was really a "sucking
animal." Being from the bourse, and having much worldly wisdom, he
replied after reflection that of such things he didn't believe more
than half he heard. "In this case the last half," he added--but softly.

Juffrouw Zipperman had caught a cold; but was still able to boast
about her son-in-law. She was a "respectable woman." Only she couldn't
endure for Juffrouw Laps to talk so much about "virtue," and the
"respectability" of her father, who was "in the grain business." Old
Man Laps, she said, was not in, but under the grain business. He had
carried sacks of grain, but that was quite different from selling
grain. For the man who sells is much bigger than the man who
carries. Juffrouw, therefore, had been making misleading statements.

Trudie and her sisters had decked themselves out as well as possible
and were sitting at the window. When young people passed by they
looked as if they had never in their lives straightened out anybody.

The Juffrouw in the rear below told the grocer that she was going
to move out; for it was just scandalous, simply scandalous the way
the Pieterses carried on in their back room; that she couldn't leave
anything uncovered.

Juffrouw Pieterse was busy with her household, and looked like
a working woman. From time to time she had "divine service" with
the children, who, if they could have had their choice, would have
preferred to have been born among the Alfures, Dajaks, or some other
benighted people whose religion is less strenuous.

I am glad to be able to say that Juffrouw Laps had passed a good
night. I should like to tell more about her, but I don't care to
exhaust myself.

Stoffel had returned to school, and was trying to inspire the boys with
contempt for riches. He was using on them a poem that had probably
been written in a garret by some poor devil or other whose wealth
gave him little cause for complaint. The boys were inattentive,
and seemed not to grasp the peculiar pleasure in having no money to
buy marbles. Stoffel attributed their hard-heartedness to Walter's
crazy ideas: They had heard of his attack on the Margrave and of that
remarkable visit to the cave.

And Walter?

He still lived in expectation of the punishment he deserved so
richly. For his mother had given him to understand repeatedly that
the little "straightening out" of the evening before was merely for
practice, and that the reward of his sin would be delayed till she
could speak with the preacher about it.

In the meanwhile Walter didn't know what to do. He couldn't return
to school: Pennewip had closed for him that fountain of knowledge.

Nor was he allowed to go out for a walk. "Who knows what he will do
if I let him out of my sight?" said his mother, who was presumably
afraid that he might make a fresh attack on the cloisters. As a matter
of fact, she denied him this privilege merely because Walter asked it.

She expressed the opinion that it was best not to let bad children
have their own way.

If Walter had been right wise, he would have pretended to be thoroughly
in love with that dark back room; then, for his moral improvement,
he would have been chased down the steps, and away to his sawmills.

But Walter was not smart.

He was forbidden to go into the front room because the young ladies
did not care to see him.

That back room was more than dark: It was narrow, and dirty,
and reeked with all the fumes of "III, 7, c." But Walter was used
to all this and much more. He had always been a martyr--bandages,
poultices, bandy legs, biblical history, rickets, poems on goodness,
evening prayers, the judgment day, hobgoblins for wicked children,
closed eyes before and after the slice of bread, sleeping with crooked
knees, committing sins, fear for the torn breeches, "divine service"
with and without sensible accompaniment!

That droll robber song, whose origin we know so well, shows how easily
his childish soul was moved by whatever seemed great to him. He was a
pure child, and he was a good boy. He wouldn't have hurt a fly. The
criminal character of his song was due to his desire to grasp what
is greater than everything else and to be the leader in that world
created by his childish fancy.

Robber--good! But a first-class robber, a robber of robbers, a robber
without mercy--for pleasure!

As to the gross mistreatment of women mentioned in his song, he had
no idea what it meant. He used the word for the sake of rhyme, and
because from certain sentences in his book he had got the impression
that it must afford great pleasure.

If, perchance, for those fourteen stivers Grandisson--weary
remembrance--had fallen into his hands, his Wednesday's poem would have
been quite different. No doubt he would have sought a reconciliation
with the butcher's Keesje, forgiving him completely all his liberties
with "Holland nobility" and even presenting him a few slate pencils.

For that is the striking characteristic of spirits such as
Walter's. Whatever they are, they are that with all their might,
always going further in any direction than they would seem to be
warranted in doing by the mere external circumstances.

From such characters we could hope much, if through some chance--i. e.,
a natural cause, which we call chance, because we do not understand
it and are ashamed to admit our ignorance--if through some chance
they were not born among people who do not understand them, and,
therefore, mistreat them.

It is one of our peculiarities that we like to mistreat anyone
whose soul is differently organized from ours. How does the watch
move? asks the child, and cannot rest until he has torn apart the
wheels he could not understand. There the watch lies in pieces, and
the little miscreant excuses himself with the remark that he just
wanted to see how it was made.


Walter sat with his elbows on the table, his chin resting in his
hands. He seemed to be deeply interested in Leentje's sewing, but
we shall see in a moment that his thoughts were elsewhere, and, too,
far away from III. 7, c.

They had forbidden her to speak to the shameless rascal, and only
occasionally, when Juffrouw Pieterse left the room, did she have an
opportunity to whisper to him a few words of comfort. To be sure,
she noticed that Walter was not so sad as we should expect one to be
who was caught in between the thrashing of yesterday and the priest of
to-morrow. This gentleman was to come to-morrow to settle the matter.

"But, Walter, how could you speak of burning cloisters!"

"Ah, I meant--sh!"

"And the Count--what had he done?"

"It was a Margrave--sh!"

"What sort of a count is that? I'll bet he was one out of another

"Yes, it was Amalia's father--but that isn't it. I have something to
tell you, Leentje--sh!"

"Amalia--who is Amalia?"

"That was my bride, but--Leentje, I wanted to tell you something--sh!"

"Your bride! Are you mad, Walter? Your bride?"

"Yes, she was; but now no more. I was going to help her--but a duck
came--but that isn't it, Leentje. Now I see it all--sh. I swam by--sh!"

"Who, what? Swam by?"

"By Amalia. She sat on the rushes--now I understand it all--I am--sh!"

"I don't understand a word, Walter. But the women--why did you
want to----"

Poor innocent Leentje.

"The women were in the book--but listen, I am--sh!"

"And the cloisters?"

"That has nothing to do with it--I know everything now. Listen Leentje,
I am--sh!"

"For Heaven sake, Walter, what's the matter with you? You look as if
you were mad."

Walter had a vision. He stretched himself up, cast a proud glance
at the beams in the ceiling, placed his right hand over his heart,
extended his left, as if he were draping a Spanish mantle about
him--remember that he had never been in a theatre--and said:

"Leentje, I am a prince."

At that moment his mother came in, boxed his ears and sent him out
of the room.

Walter's principality was in the moon--no, much farther away.

In the following the reader shall learn how he had attained to this
new dignity.

Long before the beginning of this story--yes, a long time before
this--there was a queen of spirits, just like in "Hans Heiling." Her
name was A----o.

She did not live in a cave, but held her court far up in the clouds;
and this was airier and more suitable for a queen.

She wore a necklace of stars, and a sun was set in her signet-ring.

Whenever she went forth, the clouds flew about like dust, and with
a motion of her hand she drove away the firmaments.

Her children played with planets as with marbles, and she complained
that it was so difficult for her to find them again when they had
rolled away under the furniture.

The little son of the queen, Prince Upsilon, was peevish over this
and was continually calling for more playthings.

The queen then gave him a sack of siriuses; but in a short time these,
too, were all lost. It was Upsilon's own fault: He ought to have paid
more attention to his playthings.

They tried to satisfy him as best they could, but no matter what they
gave him, he always wanted something else, something larger. This
was a defect in the character of the little prince.

The mother, who, as queen of the spirits, was a very intelligent woman,
thought it would be a good idea for the little prince to accustom
himself to privations.

She issued an order, therefore, that for a certain time Upsilon was
to have no playthings.

The order was carried out. Everything was taken away from him,
even the comet that he and his little sister Omicron happened to be
playing with.

Prince Upsilon was somewhat stubborn. He so far forgot himself one
day as to speak disrespectfully to his mother.

Even Princess Omicron was contaminated by his example--nothing is
worse than a bad example--and violently threw her pallet against the
universe. That was not becoming in a girl.

Now, in the kingdom of spirits, there was a law to the effect, that
anyone showing disrespect toward the queen, or throwing anything
against the universe, should be deprived of all titles and dignities
for a certain length of time.

Prince Upsilon became a grain of sand.

After he had behaved himself well in this capacity for a few centuries
he received the news that he had been promoted to be a moss plant.

Then one morning he woke up and found himself a coral zoöphyte.

That occurred about the time that man began to cook his food.

He was industrious, building up islands and continents on the earth. In
recognition of his zeal he was turned into a crab.

In this capacity, too, there could be no complaint against him,
and he was soon transferred to the class of sea-serpents.

He played some innocent pranks on sailors, but he never harmed
anyone. Soon he received four feet and the rank of a mastodon, with
the privilege of roaming over the land.

With the self-control of a philosopher he entered upon his new life,
busying himself with geological investigations.

A few centuries later--remember that in the kingdom of spirits all time
taken together is only as a short quarter of an hour--or to speak more
correctly, that all time is nothing. For time was made merely for man,
for his amusement, and given to him just as we give picture books to
children. For spirits, present, past and future are all the same. They
comprehend yesterday, to-day and to-morrow at a glance, just as one
reads a word without spelling it out. What was and is going to be, is.

The Egyptians and Phoenicians knew that very well, but Christians
have forgotten it.

Fancy knew that Walter could not read, so she related Upsilon's story
to him, just as I am doing for the reader.

Some centuries later he had become an elephant; then a moment later,
i. e., about ten years before the opening of my story--I mean years
as we mortals reckon them--he was elevated to the class of man.

I don't know what sins he may have committed as an elephant.

Anyway, Fancy had said, that in order to return to his station as a
spirit-prince in a short time and escape any further degradation it
was necessary for him to be diligent and well behaved in his present
state, and not write any robber songs, or slip out things and sell
them--even if it was only a Bible.

And, too, he must become reconciled to seeing Juffrouw Pieterse
without a train on her dress. Fancy said it couldn't be helped.

This "Fancy" must have been some lady at his mother's court, who
visited him in his exile to comfort and encourage him, so that
he wouldn't think they were punishing him because they were angry
with him.

She promised to visit him from time to time. "But," asked Walter,
"how is my little sister getting along?"

"She's being punished, too. You know the law. She is patient with
it all and promises to improve. At first she was a fire-ball; but
she behaved so nicely that she was soon changed to a moon-beam; and
also in this state there was nothing against her. It seemed to be
a pleasure for her; and it was all her mother could do to keep from
shortening the punishment. She was soon turned into vapor, and stood
the test well; for she filled the universe. That was about the time
you began to eat grass. Soon she was a butterfly. But your mother
did not consider this suitable for a girl and had her changed into
a constellation. There she stands before us now."

It often happens that we do not see a thing because it is too big.

"Look," said Fancy. "There--to the right! No, further--there,
there--the north star! That is her left eye. You can't see her right,
because she is bending over towards Orion, the doll which she holds
in her lap and caresses."

Walter saw it plainly enough and cried: "Omicron, Omicron!"

"No, no, prince," said the lady of the court, "that will not do. Each
must undergo his punishment alone. It's already a great concession
that you two are imprisoned in the same universe. Recently, when your
little brothers flooded the milky way with sin, they were separated

Walter was sad. How gladly would he have kissed his little
sister!--that group of stars nursing the doll.

"Ah, Fancy, let me be with Omicron."

Fancy said neither yes nor no.

She looked as if she were reflecting on the possibility of
accomplishing the almost impossible.

Walter, taking courage from her hesitation, repeated his request.

"Ah, let me live with my little sister again, even if I have to eat
grass or build continents--I will eat and build with pleasure, if I
may only be with Omicron."

Probably Fancy was afraid to promise something beyond her power;
and she was sorry not to be able to give her promise.

"I will ask," she whispered, "and now----"

Walter rubbed his eyes. There was the bridge and the ditch. He heard
the ducks cackling from the distance. He saw his mills again. Yes, yes,
there they were. But their name was no longer--what was their name?

The mills were called "Morning Hour" and "Eagle," and they called
out just like other sawmills: "Karre, karre, kra, kra----"

Thereupon Walter went home. We have already seen what awaited him


The preacher had come and gone. Sentence had been passed and the
penalty paid. But Walter was depressed and despondent. Leentje did
her best to put some animation into him, but in vain. Perhaps it was
because she no longer understood her ward.

Those confidential communications of Walter's were beyond her
comprehension; and often she looked at him as if she doubted his
sanity. From her meagre weekly allowance she saved a few doits,
thinking to gladden Walter's heart with some ginger cakes, which he
had always enjoyed. It was no use: Walter's soul had outgrown ginger
cakes. This discovery caused Leentje bitter pain.

"But, my dear child, be reasonable, and don't worry over such
foolishness. This Fancy, or whatever the creature's name is, has
mocked you; or you have dreamed it all."

"No, no, no, Leentje. It's all true. I know everything she said,
and it's all true."

"But, Walter, that story about your sister--you would have known that
long ago."

"I did know it, but I had forgotten it. I knew everything that Fancy
told me. It had only slipped out of my mind. When she spoke, then it
all came back to me distinctly."

"I will go to those mills some day," said Leentje.

And she did it. After Walter's description she was able to find
the place where that important meeting had taken place. She saw
the timbers, the dirt, the ducks, the meadow--everything was there,
even the ashes,--everything except Fancy and her stories.

Nor could Walter find Fancy now. In vain did he go out walking with
those respectable Halleman boys as often as he was in the way at
home. For hours he would stand on the bridge and listen to the rattling
of the sawmills; but they told him nothing, and Fancy would not return.

"She has too much to do at my mother's court," Walter sighed, and
went home sad and disappointed.

When he looked out the window and saw the beautiful stars twinkling
encouragement to him, he cheered up a little. His sadness was less
bitter, but it was still there. Pain passed into home-sickness,
a sweet longing for home, and with tears in his eyes, but no longer
despairing, he whispered "Omicron, Omicron!"

Who heard that call, or understood his grief over his exile? Who
observed how that sigh for the "higher" and that fiery desire had
passed into a nobler state?

After long deliberations and Walter's express promise to do better,
Master Pennewip had at last been prevailed upon to allow our young
robber to return to school. He now had the opportunity to perfect
himself in verse-writing, penmanship, verbs, "Holland Counts" and
other equally important things.

The teacher said that the boy at Muiderberg had been still worse,
and he had known what to prescribe. Walter would do all right now,
he thought; but Juffrouw Pieterse must get another pastor, for the
present one belonged to the class of "drinkers." This she did. Walter
was to receive religious instruction from a real preacher.

I don't remember the title of the book, but the first lines were:

    "Q. From whom did you and everything in existence have its origin?"

Walter wanted to say, From my mother; but the book said:

    "Ans. From God, who made everything out of nothing."

    "Q. How do you know that?"

    "Ans. From nature and revelation."

Walter didn't know what it meant, but like the good-natured,
obedient child that he was, he repeated faithfully what he had
memorized from the book. It was annoying for him to have his
Sundays spoiled by recitations in the Kings of Israel--days so well
suited for rambling. He was jealous of the Jews, who were always led
away--a misfortune that seemed delightful to him. But he worked away
patiently, and was not the worst of those apprentices in religion. At
the end of the year he received a book containing three hundred and
sixty-five scriptural texts, twenty-one prayers, as many graces,
the Lord's Prayer, the ten commandments and the articles of faith. It
also contained directions for using it--once a day through the year,
three times a day for a week, etc., etc.; or simply use as needed. On
a leaf pasted in the front of the book was written:

                           To Walter Pieterse
                                  as a
                         Excellent recitations
                                 in the
                               and as an
                         for him to continue to
                               Honor God
                  in the manner in which he has begun.

Under this were the names of the preacher and the officers of the
church, ornamented with flourishes that would have put Pennewip
to shame.

The outward respectability of the Hallemans continued to increase. The
parents of these children had hired a garden on the "Overtoom." That
was so "far out," they said; and then they "couldn't stay in the
city forever." Besides, the expense was "not so much"; for there was
one gardener for everybody; and then, there were plenty of berries
growing there, and that was always very nice. There would be grass
enough for bleaching the linen--an important item, for just lately,
said the mother of the Hallemans, there had been iron-rust in Betty's
dress. For that reason it was the very thing to rent the garden;
and if people said anything about it, it would only be because they
were jealous. And, too, there was a barrel there for rainwater; and
Mrs. Karels had said it leaked, but it was not true; for everyone
must know what he's doing; but when you do anything, everybody
is talking about it. If one paid any attention to it, one would
never get anything done--and it would be such a recreation for the
children. Juffrouw Karels ought to attend to her own business--and
when Gustave's birthday came, he might invite some "young gentlemen."

Gustave's birthday came. "Young gentlemen" were to be invited,
and--Walter was among that select number.

It would lead me too far from the subject to enter upon an
investigation of the motives that prompted Gustave and Franz to invite
their former partner in the peppermint business. The list was made out
and approved by their mother; and as Juffrouw Pieterse felt flattered,
there was no objection from her side. Walter must promise, of course,
to behave properly and be "respectable," not to soil his clothes, not
to wrestle and tear his clothes, and many other things of a similar
nature. Juffrouw Pieterse added that it was a great favor on her part
to let him go, for such visits made a lot of work for her.

Yes, Walter was to make a visit! Eat, drink and enjoy himself under
a strange roof. It was a great event in his life, and already he
was becoming less jealous of the Jews, who went away so often, and
finally never came back home at all.

It was midday now--that glorious midday. With indescribable dignity,
for a boy, Walter stepped through the gate-way. "A little to right--to
the left, to the left again, then over a bridge, and then to the
right straight ahead. You can't miss it," Gustave had said. The name
of the garden was "City Rest," so all Walter had to do was to "ask,"
and he would "find it."

And so it was.

Anyone making a call or visit for the first time always arrives too
early. So it was with Walter, who reached City Rest before any of the
other guests. But the boys received him cordially and presented him
to their mother, who said that Walter had a pretty face, if it were
only not so pale.

The other playmates came then, and running and throwing began, in
the customary boyish style. This was interrupted with waffles and
lemonade, which they "must drink quite slowly," because they were
"wet with perspiration."

When the proud mother of the Hallemans was speaking of berries and
the grossly slandered rainwater barrel, she might have mentioned
the advantages of the leafy bower, where Betty was now sitting with
a gentleman.

"Who is that?" asked Walter of little Emma, who was playing with
the boys.

"That? That's Betty's sweetheart."

From that touching story of slender Cecilia we know that Walter already
had his first love affair behind him; but still Emma's statement was
to him something new. Up to that time he had thought that a sweetheart
was a girl to whom one gives slatepencils and bonbons. But she seemed
to be above such things. Walter saw immediately that he had not taken
the right course with Cecilia; and all at once a desire came over
him to know how a grown man treats a girl who is through school.

"Her sweetheart?"

"Oh yes--engagé!"

That word was too modern for Walter. If the reader is sharp he can
calculate in what year that girl married the barber's apprentice. All
that is necessary is to determine when that stupid engagé came into
use in this sense in "III. 7, a."

"What did you say?" asked Walter.

"Engagé--they go together."

"What is that?"

"Oh, they're going to get married. Don't you know?"

Walter was ashamed not to know such a simple thing; and, as is often
the case, he was ashamed of being ashamed.

"Certainly, of course I know. I hadn't understood right
well. Emma--will you marry me?"

For the moment Emma was unable to accommodate him, as she was engagé
with her mother; but as soon as she was free she would consider
the matter, and Walter would probably be favored. She looked at him
sweetly--and then the game called her to another part of the yard.

Love is the instinct for unity--and the instinct for multiplicity. As
everywhere, nature is simple here in principle, but manifold in
application. The love of a thief means: Come, we will go steal
together. The servant of the Word unites with his loved one in prayer
and psalm, etc., every animal after his kind.

Or is this instinct to share, to be together, to be united at the
same the instinct for the good?

In Walter's case it was, even though he himself did not know it. Had
he not, in the name of Cecilia, liberated a bird that fluttered about
its narrow cage in distress? Of course Cecilia had laughed and asked
Walter if he was crazy. She did not know that there was any connection
between his sympathy for the poor little bird and the beating of his
heart when he scratched her name on the frozen window-pane in the
back room. Perhaps she would have understood if she had loved Walter;
but that was impossible, because he still wore his jacket stuffed in
his trousers.

At all events, it was not possible for him to think of anything bad
when he called "Omicron." He had now forgotten Cecilia, and would
have been greatly surprised if she had appeared in answer to his
call. Little Emma would have come nearer meeting his requirements.

Walter felt that he must know just how the young man was proceeding
with Betty in the bower. He soon found an excuse to separate himself
from his companions; and then he heard all sorts of things that did
not make him much wiser.

"Yes, I said so too. In May----"

"Certainly, on account of the top story----"

"It's annoying! And what does your mother say?"

"Hm--she says we must wait another year, that it isn't respectable
to get married in such a hurry--it's just as if----"

"Four years----"

"Yes, four years. Louw and Anna have been engaged for seven."

Walter was proud that he knew exactly what it all meant. To rent
an upper story together, preferably in May!--that was the way he
understood it.

"And do you get that press for the linen?"

"No, mother wants to keep it. But if we will only wait a year she
will give us another one--a small one."

"The big one would have been nicer."

"I think so too, but she says young people don't need a big press. But
when my sister was married she got a big one."

"Tell them you want a big one too."

"It's no use."

"Try it. I won't marry without that big one."

"I will make them----"

This is a fair sample of what Walter overheard. He was dissatisfied
and slipped away and hid himself, lost in thought. He didn't even know
himself what was the matter with him; but when Emma came and called
him he looked as if he had been thinking of anything else but presses
and vacant flats, for in a tone at once joyous and fearful he cried:

"Could it be she--my little sister?"

It was evening now, and the children were to continue their games
indoors. As the little party was tired, one of the grown-ups was
going to tell a story.

Just what "grown-up" had been requisitioned to narrate the story of
Paradise and Peri, I don't know. Anyway the story hardly harmonized
with Betty's engagement and that love-obstructing clothes-press. But
just as Fortune is said to smile on everyone once in a lifetime, so,
in the midst of the flatness and insipidity of everyday life, it seems
that something always happens which gives that one who lays hold of it
opportunity to lift himself above the ordinary and commonplace. To the
drowning man a voice calls: "Stretch out thy arms, thou canst swim."

"After Peri had begged long, but in vain, at the gates of paradise to
be admitted to the land of the blessed, she brought at last, as the
most beautiful thing in the world, the sigh of a repentant sinner;
and she found favor with the keeper of the gate on account of the
sacredness of the gift she had brought----"

"Let's play forfeits now!" cried Gustave.

"Forfeits! Forfeits!" everybody called out after him.

And they played forfeits. Pawns were redeemed; and of course there
was some kissing done. Riddles were given that nobody could guess;
and who ever knew must not tell--a usual condition in this game.

"Heavy, heavy hangs over your head; what shall the owner do to
possess it?"

"Stand on one leg for five minutes."

"Let him jump over a straw--or recite a poem!"

"No, a fable--la cigale, or something like that."

"Yes, yes!"

It was Walter's pawn.

"I don't know any fable," he said, embarrassed; "and I don't know
French either."

"I will help you," cried Emma. "Le pere, du pere----"

"That's no fable! Go ahead, Walter!"

For some of the party it was a joy that Walter knew no Fable and no
French. If it were only known how often one can do a kindness by being
stupid, perhaps many, out of love for humanity, would affect stupidity.

But Walter did not think of the pleasure of the others--which he
could not have understood. He wept, and was angry at Master Pennewip,
who had taught him no French and no fable.

"Forward, Walter, forward!" insisted the holder of the pawn.

"It needn't be French. Just tell a fable."

"But I don't know what a fable is."

"Oh, it's a story with animals."

"Yes, or with trees! Le chêne un jour dit au roseau--don't you see,
you can have one without animals."

"Yes, yes, a fable is just a story--nothing else. You can have in it
anything you want to."

"But it must rhyme!"

Walter was thinking about reciting his robber song, but fortunately
he reconsidered the matter. That would have been scandalous in the
home of the Hallemans, who were so particularly respectable.

"No," cried another, who was again wiser than all the rest, "it needn't
rhyme. The cow gives milk--Jack saw the plums hanging--Prince William
the First was a great thinker. Don't you see, Walter, it's as easy
as rolling off of a log. Go ahead and tell something, or else you
won't get your pawn."

Walter began.

"A little boy died once who was not allowed to go to heaven----"

"Oho! That's the story of Peri. Tell something else."

"I was going to change it," said Walter, embarrassed. "And so the
little boy couldn't enter the heavenly gates, because he didn't know
French, and because he had sometimes been bad, and because he hadn't
learned his lessons, and also because he--because he"----I believe
Walter had something on the end of his tongue about his mother's
box of savings, but he swallowed it, that he might not offend the
Hallemans by any allusion to the peppermint business--"because he
once laughed during prayers. For it is certain, boys, that if you
laugh during prayers you'll never get to heaven."

"So--o-oo?" asked several, conscious of their guilt.

"Yes, they can't go to heaven. Now the boy had had a sister, who died
one year before him. He had loved her a lot, and when he died he began
to hunt for his sister right away. 'Who is your sister?' he was asked."

"Who asked him that?"

"Be still! Don't interrupt him. Let Walter tell his story!"

"I don't know who asked that. The boy said that his little sister
had on a blue dress and had dimples in her cheeks, and----"

"Just like Emma!"

"Yes, exactly like Emma. They told him that there was a little girl
in heaven that looked just like that. She had come the year before,
and had asked them to let her brother in, who would certainly inquire
after her. But the boy could not go in. I have already said why."

"Had the little girl always learned her lessons?"

"Of course! Don't you see she had? Let Walter go on with his story!"

"It was sad that he could not get to see his sister any more. He felt
that it hadn't really been worth the trouble to die. 'Oh, just let
me in!' he begged the gentleman at the door----"

"At the gate!" corrected several simultaneously, who, though untouched
by the sublimity of Walter's conception of death, were offended by the
commonplaceness of the word door. But such things happen frequently.

"All right!" said Walter. He was ashamed that he had offended against
propriety. "The gentleman at the gate said, 'No!' and then the poor
boy returned to the earth."

"That won't do," cried the philosophical contingency, "whoever is
dead remains dead."

"Don't interrupt him. Of course it's only a story!"

Walter continued: "He returned to the earth and learned French. Then
he appeared at the gate again and said, 'Oui, Monsieur!' but it did
no good; he was not admitted."

"I should think not; he ought to have said: 'j'aime, tu aimes.'"

"I don't know anything about that," Walter replied.

"Then he went to the earth again and learned his lessons till he
could say them backwards. He did this for the keeper of the gate;
but all this did no good; he was not allowed to go in."

"Of course not," cried one of the wise ones, "to get to heaven you
must be confirmed. Had he been confirmed?"

"No. That's the reason it was so difficult. Then he tried something
else. He said that he was engaged to his sister."

"Just like Betty," cried Emma.

"Yes, like Betty--and that he loved her and wanted to marry her. But
it was all of no use; they wouldn't let him into heaven.

"Finally he didn't dare go to the gate any more, for fear the keeper
would get angry at him."

"And then? What happened?"

"I don't know," Walter stuttered. "I don't know what he ought to do
to get to heaven."

Walter knew the rest of the story very well, but he couldn't put it
into words. This was shown in a peculiar manner an hour later.

On the way home the party was almost run over by a wagon just as
they were crossing a bridge. In the commotion Emma slipped under the
railing and fell into the stream. Somebody screamed, and Walter sprang
after her.

If he had died at that moment the keeper of the gate would hardly
have turned him away because he didn't know French and had not been

When he was brought home, wet and dirty, Juffrouw Pieterse said that
one ought not to tempt the Master, and that's what one did when one
jumped into the water without being able to swim.

But I find that the man who can't swim is the very one to expect
something of the Master; for the man who can swim has some prospect
of helping himself.

And Juffrouw Pieterse complained that there was "always something
the matter with that boy." There was something the matter with him.


Juffrouw Pieterse must have inherited something, for all at once the
Pieterses moved to a more respectable neighborhood, and the daughters
no longer knew any of the girls that they used to sew with. Such things
do happen in cases of inheritance, when one moves to a more select
quarter. Besides, there were other signs. They exerted themselves in
trying to get Leentje to speak "better Dutch." Stoffel was zealous
in teaching her, but Juffrouw Pieterse spoiled everything by her
bad example.

Walter was now wearing a new jacket, with a small collar, such as
cabmen wore later. For him a jacket to stuff in the trousers was a
thing of the past. It "looked so babyish," the young ladies said,
and was "out of the question now when the boy can write poetry."

That Walter could write poetry was boasted of to everybody that
would listen. Under the circumstances they really had no right to
reap any fame from Walter's robber song; but this only showed what an
important rôle vanity plays in the world. Of course he himself never
heard anything of this; it was mentioned only when he was not present.

The image of Cecilia had disappeared from Walter's heart; and little
Emma was forgotten. Omicron must show her face in the stars from time
to time to remind the child of his love. And even when he looked at
the evening sky and his soul was stirred by an inexpressible longing
after the good, it was not so much that he was thinking of Omicron
as that he was moved by vague sweet memories. In the twelve years of
his life there was a mythical prehistoric period which was difficult
to separate from the historical period.

He didn't know that he could write verses. He accepted it as a matter
of course that his robber song was very poor, and looked upon Klaasje
van der Gracht with awe. It was from Juffrouw Laps he learned that
he could write poetry; and it was an illumination for him.

Juffrouw Laps had an uncle whose birthday was coming the next week. She
had paid the Pieterses a swell visit to ask if Walter wouldn't write
her a poem for the occasion. She would see that he got some bonbons.

"But Juffrouw Pieterse, you must tell him that it must be religious
and that my uncle is a widower. He must bring that in. I should like
for it to be in the melody of the 103d psalm, for my uncle has that
psalm in his lyre."

The reader will note that she did not mean the lyre of Apollo. What
she spoke of was a thing that turned, and made a screechy noise.

Juffrouw Pieterse was going to speak with Walter about it when he came
from school, but first she had to consider the matter with Stoffel,
to decide whether it should be a request or a command, so that Walter
would have no reason to be "stuck-up." For that she could not endure
in a child.

"Walter, did you know your lesson?"

"No, mother; I had to learn thirteen mountains in Asia, and I knew
only nine."

"Now, look here, that won't do. I'm paying tuition for nothing. Do you
think money grows on my back? I don't know what's to become of you."

"I don't know, either."

After all, though, Walter was flattered by the commission to write
a poem. Stoffel's and Juffrouw Pieterse's efforts to conceal their
real opinion of his poetical talents had been useless. It was a
pleasant surprise for the boy to learn that he was looked up to. He
had always heard that he was worse than worthless, and that he would
never amount to anything. It interested him now to hear the assurance
of his mother and Stoffel that the commission was only a punishment for
not knowing the mountains in Asia. In a great rush Stoffel taught him
the difference between "masculine" and "feminine" verses, explaining
that these must alternate, that all must be of the same length, and
that if at any time the boy was in doubt he would clear the matter up,
etc., etc.

Walter was delighted. He went to the back room, got a slate pencil
and began to write. It could hardly be called a success. "A widower
of God"--"O God, a widower!" That was as far as he got.

He gnawed on the pencil till he had pulverized it and worn out his
teeth, but it wouldn't go. He was continually being interrupted
by Stoffel's masculine and feminine verses. He had been too proud,
and now he was receiving his punishment. He began to believe that
his mother was right when she said nothing would ever come of him.

Nor could Leentje help him. So he determined to make another attempt
to-morrow. Perhaps he could do better then. Leentje agreed with him.

"All right," said Juffrouw Pieterse. "But don't disgrace us
all. Remember, I told Juffrouw Laps you could do it; and the man's
birthday comes Thursday week. So you haven't any too much time."

Walter went to Ash Gate, found his bridge and began to weep bitterly.

"See what's the matter with that boy," he heard a woman saying to a
girl fourteen or fifteen years old. "Perhaps he has lost something."

"Have you lost anything?"

Walter looked up, and was surprised; for he seemed to have seen that
face before. It reminded him of Fancy.

"Now, everything will be all right There you are; and I have been
hunting for you."

"For me?"

"Yes, yes, but I just didn't know it. But I know it now. Tell me
right quick how to write the poem!"

The girl, who was helping her mother place the linen on the grass for
bleaching, looked at Walter in astonishment. She hurried back to her
mother to say that she didn't know what was the matter with the boy,
but that there was certainly something wrong. "He looks as if he were
scared half to death," she decided.

Then she ran and fetched water from the house near by and made Walter
drink. He saw that he had made a mistake; but there was something in
the manner of the girl that drew him to her irresistibly, even though
her name was only Femke. So the mother addressed her. And this name
reminded him of Fancy, which was something.

Femke pointed to an inverted basket and told him to tell the cause of
his trouble; and Walter did it as well as he could, while the mother
was busy with the linen.

"Maybe I can help you," the mother said. "I have a nephew who is
a widower."

"Yes, Juffrouw--but the poem? And there must be something about God
in it."

"Certainly. It's a long story. His wife was a niece of my
husband's--you see we are Catholics, and she acted according to
her religion--put a stone on those cloths, Femke, or they'll blow
away--yes, bleaching is a job. You have no idea what a bother
it is--yes, she acted according to her religion; and that was
right. People that don't do that are not much. But he--draw that
shirt back a little, Femke. The sleeve is hanging in the ditch--but
he didn't believe in it, and said it was all nonsense. But when she
died, and he saw all that was done for her--it was Father Jansen who
was there. Of course you know him--he always walks with a black cane,
but he never lets it touch the ground----"

The women looked at Walter questioningly. The poor boy sat on the
basket, his elbows on his knees, his chin in his hands. He had listened
with open mouth, wondering how he was going to apply it all to his
poem. Of Father Jansen and that cane which despised the ground he
had never heard. This he had to confess.

"Yes, it was Father Jansen who was there, and when my husband's nephew
saw all that--don't spill any, Femke, or the mud will splatter so
bad--yes, when he saw that a human being doesn't die like an animal,
then he was more respectful, and after that he observed Easter like
other people. And last year when he broke his leg--he's a dyer,
you know--he drew thirteen stivers for nine weeks. And so I wanted
to tell you that there's a widower in our family. And now you must
get up, for I need the basket."

Walter arose quickly, as if he feared he might seem to be trespassing;
and the woman went away, after having warned Femke to watch the linen
and call her if any bad boys should come along.

"Are you better now?" Femke asked kindly.

"Oh yes; but I don't see how I'm to use all that in my poem. You
must remember that it has to rhyme, and the verses must be of the
same length, and that they must be masculine and feminine; for my
brother said so, and he's a school-teacher."

Femke reflected, then all at once she cried, "Do you know Latin?" As
if Latin would help Walter.

"No," disconsolately.

"Well, it really makes no difference. It's in Dutch, too. Just watch
the linen a minute."

Walter promised, and Femke ran to the house.

Then some boys came along throwing rocks. Walter, conscious of his
responsibility, called to them to desist--or words to that effect. This
only made them worse. They came closer, and, to worry Walter, began to
walk over the linen. For him it was as if they were mistreating Femke,
and he charged on the miscreants. But it was two against one, and a
weaker one at that; so he would have soon been defeated if his lady had
not returned quickly. She rescued him and drove off his assailants; and
when she saw that his lip was bleeding she gave him a kiss. The boy's
heart trembled; all at once his soul was lifted to an unfamiliar level;
and for the first time in weeks he felt again that princely nature
that had given Leentje such a fright. His eyes shone, and the boy,
who but a moment ago did not know how he was to write some rhymes,
was filled with the feelings and emotions that make poets of men.

"O Fancy, Fancy, to die for thee--to die with such a kiss on the lips!"

It hurt him to think that the boys were gone. If there had been ten
of them he would have had courage for the unequal fight.

And Femke, who had never heard of poetical overflows, understood him
immediately, for she was a pure, innocent girl. She felt Walter's
chivalry, and knew that she was the lady to reward it.

"You are a dear sweet boy," she said, taking his head between her
hands and kissing him again, and again--as if she had done something
of this kind before. But such was not the case.

"And now you must read the verses in the little book. Maybe it will
help you to write for your aunt----"

"She isn't my aunt," Walter said, "but of course I will look through
the book."

He laid it on the railing of the bridge and began to read. Femke,
who was taller than he, had put one arm around his neck, while with
the other hand she was pointing out what he should read.

"Don't you see?" she said, "the lines are the same length."

"Yes, but they don't rhyme." And Walter read:

    Mother most pure,
    Mother undefiled,
    Virgin most powerful,
    Virgin most merciful,
    Virgin most faithful,
    Spiritual vessel,
    Vessel of honor,
    Vessel of singular devotion,
    Mystical rose,
    Tower of David,
    Tower of Ivory,
    Gate of Heaven----

"But, Femke, how am I to use that for my poem? I don't understand
any of it."

Femke didn't understand much of it either. She had been reading the
book every day for the past four or five years, and she had always been
satisfied with her comprehension of it. But now she saw that she was
as ignorant about it as Walter. She was ashamed and closed the book.

"But don't you know what Faith is?" she asked, as if this defect
might account for the general ignorance of both.

"Not that way," Walter replied. "I learned it another way."

"But you believe in Jesus, don't you?"

"Oh, yes. That's God's son. But I didn't learn anything about vessels
and towers. Do they belong to faith?"

"Why, certainly! But you know the holy virgin, Maria!"

"So? Maria? No, I don't."

"And Purgatory?"

"I don't know anything about it."

"And confession?"


"What do you do then?"

"How do you mean, Femke?"

"I mean to be saved."

"I don't know," Walter replied. "You mean, to get to heaven?"

"Why, certainly. That's the point. And you can't do that without the
holy virgin and such a book. Shall I teach you the creed, Walter? Then
we'll be together in heaven."

That pleased Walter, and Femke and Walter began:

"God created the world----"

"What did he do before that, Femke?"

"I don't know. But the people were made wicked by a snake; then the
Pope pronounced a curse upon the snake, for the Pope lives in Rome,
you know. And then Jesus was crucified to make the people good
again. That was a long time ago."

"Yes, I know," Walter said, "Jesus changed the number of the year. At
his birth he began at nought."

Femke didn't know again. In this way each supplemented the knowledge
of the other; and Walter was proud that he knew something about the
creed, even if Femke did think it the wrong creed.

"And so Jesus made the people good again, and if you will pray out
of such a book you will be saved. Do you understand, Walter?"

"Not quite. What is an ivory tower?"

"Why, that's only a name for the virgin. It's as if you were to call
the pastor father. Now you understand."

Femke hunted for another illustration.

"You have a mother; what do you call her?"

"Why, I call her mother."

"Correct. What do the other people call her?"

"They call her Juffrouw Pieterse."

"Just so. When we call the holy virgin 'ivory tower' it's just like
calling your mother Juffrouw Pieterse. Ivory gate means that to get
to heaven we must go through the holy virgin. That's the main thing."

"But, Femke, what is a virgin?"

Femke blushed.

"That is anybody that has never had a child."

"Me?" asked Walter in astonishment.

"No, child, it must be a girl!"

"Are you a virgin?"

"Of course!"

Femke spoke the unvarnished truth.

"Of course--because I'm not married."

"But Maria was married--and Jesus was her child."

"Ah, that's where the holiness comes in," replied Femke. "And for that
reason she is called the ivory gate. Do you understand now, Walter?"

Walter did not understand; but he asked permission to take the book
home with him, that he might study it. That, however, was not possible,
as Femke needed the book every day. Walter consoled himself easily,
for not for anything in the world would he have endangered Femke's
salvation. Femke asked him to come again. She would be glad to tell
him all she knew about the matter; and, if both should get tangled up,
she would ask Father Jansen about it. And then Walter would soon be
as wise as she was.

Walter withdrew; i. e., after he had kissed Femke heartily. This
meeting with her, the mysterious book, salvation, the fight with the
boys--all these things would run through his mind whenever he tried
to think of the poem. It seemed to him that there was some connection
between them.

When he got home he turned through Stoffel's books, hoping to find
something about holy vessels, ivory towers, and immaculate virgins. But
they were all school books, and gave information about everything
else but salvation. Walter was crushed, but he was still searching.

"Master Pennewip had a father and mother; and certainly old Pennewip,
too, who slaughtered hogs; and the one before him, too--but who was the
first Pennewip? And who slaughtered the hogs before old Pennewip? And
before there were any hogs, what did butchers do? And----"

I will know all of that some day, Walter thought. If he could have only
quieted himself so well about his poem! If that were only written, he
thought, then he would clear up the lost causes of everything. In the
meanwhile he dreamed of Femke, of her blue eyes, her friendliness,
her soft lips--and of her voice, when she said, "You are a dear,
sweet boy."

Could it be that she is Omicron? he thought.

And thus the child dreamed, dreamed; and, just as in the development
of humanity, in his life was working a three-fold impulse, towards
love, knowledge, and conflict.

"But Walter, don't you read any books at home about the creed?"

Thus Femke questioned her little friend the next day, as he sat on
her basket again.

"Yes, but they're not pretty."

"Don't you know anything by heart?"

Walter repeated a stanza of a reformed church hymn. This found no
favor with Femke; though she liked his reciting.

"Don't you read anything else?"

Walter reflected: he flew through Stoffel's library--works of the
Poetical Society, Geology by Ippel, On Orthography, Regulations
for the Fire-Watch, Story of Joseph by Hulshoff, Brave Henry, Jacob
Among His Children, Sermons by Hellendoorn, A Catechism by the same,
Hoorn's Song-book.

He felt that all of this would not prove very imposing for
Femke. Finally:

"I do know something, but it isn't about faith and the creed. It's
about Glorioso."

Femke promised to listen, and he began to relate the story. At first
he spoke mechanically, using all the "and then's": but soon he put
himself into the soul of the hero and told the story better than he
had read it in the greasy book. At every deed of Glorioso he would
spring from the basket and act the part of that hero in a way that
made Femke's blood run cold. Still, how magnificent she found it! And
when at last he was through, a spark from his peculiar but sincere
enthusiasm had fallen into her heart, which like his beat with delight
over the beauty of what she had heard. Her cheeks glowed--really,
if a Treckschent had started to Italy at that moment I believe she
would have gone along, in order to take part in so much danger and
adventure--and love. The nicest thing about the story was that it
showed how firm such a robber is in the faith.

"Don't you know another story?"

"Yes," said Walter. "One more. It's in a little book--a calendar,
I believe."

And he related the story of Telasco and Kusco and the beautiful

Telasco and Kusco, sons of the King of the Sun-worshipers, were
twins; and so both were equally near the throne. They loved each other
devotedly; so which would give way for the other? Which of the two was
to become Inca? Funeral pyres were built, one for each, and prayers
were offered to the sun that one of the piles might be ignited. But the
sun did not light either. He ordered that Aztalpa, the sister, should
choose one. That one to whom she offered her hand should inherit the
throne and the empire. But the princess could not decide, for she
loved them both dearly and both equally. It was then decided that
both should go out hunting on a certain morning, and that the one who
killed the first doe should become king. Telasco had red arrows, Kusco
blue. The morning came. The brothers were lying in a thicket as the
deer approached. Both fired, and both missed. Then they swore mutually
not to miss intentionally the next time. They kept the oath, and two
deer fell; but Telasco had shot one of Kusco's arrows, and Kusco one
of Telasco's. Telasco then proposed that Aztalpa should be killed,
to avoid any discord in the empire; and in the other world both would
enjoy the same place in her affections. All agreed to this; but when
the fatal day came, Aztalpa fell on her knees before Telasco and begged
that she might receive her death at the hand of Kusco. Telasco cried:
"Aztalpa, you have chosen!" All bowed down before Kusco; and when
they looked for Telasco he had disappeared. He was never seen again.

Often Femke interrupted with questions, for there was much that was
strange and wonderful to her; but she was charmed with the story and
shared all of Walter's enthusiasm.

"I tell you, though, Walter, if that girl had known what Telasco was
up to she wouldn't have done it. But the story is beautiful. I wonder
if such things really happen."

"That was far from here, Femke, and a long time ago. That's just the
way it was in the book. But now I must go home, for I haven't a stiver
to pay the gate-keeper if I come in after eight. Oh, Femke--if I were
only through with that poetry business."

"It will turn out all right. Just think of Telasco. He had a difficult
task, too."

"No! I will think of the girl. Good-evening, Femke----"

Walter received the hearty kiss that his story had earned him, and
dreaming of Aztalpa, who was guarding the linen, he passed through
the Ash Gate and turned towards home. The moon shone so brightly that
he was annoyed not to have been able to remain with Femke. How much
better, he thought, could he have told his story by moonlight! But
he didn't have the price--a stiver.


The moon paused on the sky, as if she were weary of her lonely
lot. Was she grieved because ungrateful humanity had fallen asleep
and was ignoring her?--or because of the light borrowed from her
for thousands of years, and none returned? She poured forth her
sorrow in heart-breaking noiseless elegies till the night-wind was
moved to pity. Whish! he went through the trees; and the leaves
danced. Crash! he went over the roof; and the tiles flew away, and
chimneys bowed meekly; and over the walls and ditches the sawmills
danced with the logs they were to saw. There a girl sat sleeping. Could
it be Femke? The linen danced about her to the music of the wind, the
shirts making graceful bows and extending their sleeves. Nightcaps,
dickeys and drawers danced the minuet; stockings, skirts, collars,
handkerchiefs waltzed thicker and thicker around the sleeping girl. Her
curls began to flutter--a smile, a sigh, and she sprang to her feet. A
whirlwind caught her up and----

"O, heavens, Femke, Femke!" and Walter grasped at the apparition that
was being borne away towards the moon in a cloud of stockings, socks,
drawers, shirts and collars.

"Mother! Walter's pinching me," cried Laurens, the printer's
apprentice; and Juffrouw Pieterse groaned, that those boys couldn't
even keep quiet at night.

The "House of Pieterse" gathered at Walter's bed. There was the noble
mother of the family enveloped in a venerable jacket that fell in broad
folds over a black woolen skirt. There was Trudie, with her stupid blue
eyes; and Myntje and Pietje--but what am I talking about? In the new
home Trudie had become Gertrude, like a morganatic princess in Hessia;
and Myntje was now Mina, but preferred to be called Mine, as that
sounded more Frenchy. But her stupid face remained unchanged. Pietje
was now Pietro. Stoffel had said that was a very swell name.

Stoffel, too, had now appeared on the scene, to the great astonishment
of his mother, who expected so much of him. This fine sense of
propriety had been developed in the new home.

"What's the matter with you, boy?" cried everybody at once.

"Oh, mother, Femke--Femke!"

"The boy is foolish." That was the unanimous verdict of the family.

And they were not altogether wrong. Walter was delirious.

"They are carrying her away--around and around--Daughter of the Sun,
decide--here is Telasco--thou shalt die, Aztalpa--Femke, stay,
stay, I will watch the clothes--I will shoot the doe--a widower
of God--together through the ivory gate--there she is again--stay,

"Ought we to call in a preacher?" asked Juffrouw Pieterse
hesitatingly. She didn't know whether praying was needed or a
whipping--or both.

And now, perhaps for the first time in his life, Stoffel expressed a
sensible thought: "Mother, we ought to have a doctor. Walter is sick."

Walter had nervous fever. It was fortunate for him that a doctor was
called in, and still more fortunate that it was a man who understood
Walter's mental troubles. He exerted a most wholesome influence on
the boy; though this came later, as at first he could only treat
the disease.

On Juffrouw Pieterse, too, he had a good influence. To her great
astonishment, he explained to her that children ought not to be
packed together in a bed as if they were superfluous pieces of
furniture being thrown aside; that air, light, play, enjoyment,
exercise are all necessary for the development of body and soul;
that whipping does no good, and that she had better dispense with her
"divine worship." He told her of other things she had never heard of;
and she listened willingly, for the doctor----

"Ah, dear Juffrouw Laps, you must manage to be here when he comes. He
writes the prescriptions with a gold pen; and his coachman wears a
brown bear-skin cape."

That gold pen and the bear-skin cape! Ah, if everyone who preaches
truth could only dress up his coachman so swell! But alas, alas--I
know a great many people who love the truth, and they have no coachman
at all--not to mention the bear-skin.

And gold pens often get into the wrong hands.

"I just wanted Juffrouw Zipperman to come sometime when the doctor's
here. Run and tell her, Gertrude, that I said Walter was sick,
and say that we have lunch about twelve. He came about that time
yesterday. And Leentje, you go to the grocer's--we need salt--have
something to say about it--it's not just to be gossiping, you know--I
despise gossip--but I would like to know if the people have noticed
it. And you, Pietro, remember that you are to give me a clean cap
when he comes--for the doctor is such an elegant gentleman, and such
a doctor! And all that he said--I drank it all in. Mina, you mustn't
stare at him again like that; it's not proper. But I'm curious to
know if the people at the grocer's have seen him!"

I shouldn't like to be severe on her; but it seems to me that Juffrouw
Pieterse was gradually beginning to take pleasure in Walter's illness.

There is something swell in having such a carriage standing before
one's door.

Juffrouw Laps had come: "But dear Juffrouw Pieterse, what am I to do
about my uncle? You are invited; and I have told him that there will
be a poem."

"Very bad, Juffrouw Laps. You can see though that that poor worm
can't write the poem. What about Stoffel? Why not ask him to write it?"

"It's all right with me. Just so it's a poem; otherwise I'm disgraced."

Stoffel was requested to take Walter's place, but he raised objections
at once.

"You don't know what that would mean, mother. I would lose the respect
of the boys. For anyone working with youth, respect is the main thing;
and such a poem----"

"But the boys at school need not know it."

"But the man would tell somebody and then--you don't understand it. At
the Diaconate school there was a fellow who wrote verses; and what
has become of him? He went to India, mother, and he still owes me for
half a bottle of ink. That's the way it goes, mother. For me to write
such a poem? No, no, mother--for a boy like Walter it's all right;
but when one is already a teacher!"

"And Master Pennewip?" cried Juffrouw Laps.

"The very man!" cried Stoffel, as if this supported his former
argument. "A happy thought! Master Pennewip will do it."

"I've read a poem by him, Stoffel."

"Yes, yes. And you've read a poem by him. That's because--but how
shall I explain that to you, Juffrouw Laps? You know that in teaching
there are all kinds of things. Take Geography, for example. I will just
mention one fact: Madrid is on the Manganares. Understand, mother?"

"Yes, yes, Stoffel. That's just as if you were to say----"

"Amsterdam on the Y. Exactly so. And then there are many, many more
things, Juffrouw Laps. You have no idea how much there is of it. A
grocer mixes sugar with something else. He must calculate exactly
what he must get for a pound in order not to lose money. Think of
it! And then you have partnership, and breakage, and the verbs--but
I must go before those rascals break everything."

Stoffel returned to school earlier than usual, without having
diminished Juffrouw Laps's difficulties very much. That poor woman
could not comprehend how geography and Madrid and the grocer and
partnerships made it impossible for Stoffel to write verses. Juffrouw
Pieterse smoothed the matter over as well as she could and sent
Juffrouw Laps to Master Pennewip.

That gentleman was alarmed when he saw the angry "sucking animal,"
but he quieted down as soon as he heard the object of her visit.

"To what class does your uncle belong, Juffrouw?"

"Why, to the class--you mean the mussel-shells and eggs?"

"No, no, Juffrouw, I mean on which rung of the ladder is he--how high
up. I repeat it, on what rung--it's a figure, Juffrouw--on what rung
of the social ladder?"

"In the grain business? Is that what you mean?"

"That is not sufficient, Juffrouw Laps. One may be in the grain
business as a pastry cook, a baker, a retailer, a wholesaler, or as a
broker; and all these vocations have their peculiar sub-divisions. Take
Joseph in Egypt, for example. This man of God, whom some place in
the class of patriarchs, while others claim--but let that be as it
may. It is certain that Joseph bought corn and was on the topmost
rung of the ladder, for we read in Genesis, chapter 41----"

"Yes, indeed, he rode in Pharaoh's carriage, and he wore a white silk
coat. My uncle is an agent, and my father was the same."

"So-o-oo?  Agent!  That's something Moses doesn't mention, and I
don't know in what class----" He spoke slowly, puzzling over his words.

"Besides, my uncle is a widower."

"Ah, there we have the difference! We read that Joseph wooed Asnath,
the daughter of Potiphar; but nowhere do we read that his spouse was
already dead when he went into the corn business. Therefore, Juffrouw
Laps, if it is your earnest desire to have a pious poem written on
your uncle, I advise you to go to my pupil, Klaasje van der Gracht."

He explained to her where that prodigy might be found.

Again I must beg pardon if my criticism of Pennewip is too severe; but
he gave me reasons enough to harbor ugly suspicions against him. I am
convinced that he would have written that poem for Juffrouw Laps if
her uncle had received a white silk coat from the king, or had ever
driven through The Hague in a royal carriage. But to sing an agent in
verse! He would leave that to the genius of "the flying tea-kettle"
in the Peperstraat. That was not nice of Pennewip. Was that uncle
to blame because his brothers never threw him into a well? or sold
him into Egypt? Or because he couldn't interpret dreams? Or because
cleverness is not rewarded to-day with rings, white coats, carriages
and high official position?

Juffrouw Laps footed it over to the Peperstraat, where she made
the acquaintance of the elder van der Gracht. The old gentleman
felt flattered.

He was most gracious, and assured the Juffrouw that the poem should
be written that very evening. Klaasje could bring it over the next
morning and repeat it to Juffrouw Laps, and if it were found worthy
as an expression of her feelings toward her uncle, then Klaasje was
to be invited to be present on that evening. The father assured her
that Klaasje would wear a white stand-up collar.

"Just like Joseph," said the Juffrouw. "Everything is in the Bible."

When she got home she read the forty-first chapter of Genesis,
trying to find the relation of Klaasje's apotheosis to Joseph's
exaltation. That night she dreamed she had a mantle in her hand.


It was the afternoon of the day on which Juffrouw Laps sought out
Klaasje van der Gracht, and Walter was lying in bed, still weak but
no longer delirious. The doctor had ordered rest and quiet. The child
counted the flowers in the curtain, and, in his imagination tried
to arrange them in some other order. He allowed them to jump over
one another, or flow into one another. He saw in them faces, forms,
armies, clouds--and all were alive and moving. It was tiresome, but
he couldn't do anything else. If he turned his face toward the wall
it was still worse. The hieroglyphic scratches on the wall told him
all sorts of things that he didn't need to know and overwhelmed him
with unnecessary impressions. He closed his eyes; but still he found
no rest. It seemed to him as if he were being swept away to take part
in that entertainment that the night-wind gave the moon. Everything
was turning round and round, taking him along. He seized his head in
both hands, as if he would stop his imagination by main strength; but
it was useless. The curtains, the cords, the wall, the flowers, the
dance, the whirlwind that tore Femke away--his efforts to hold her----

The boy burst into tears. He knew that it was all imagination; he
knew that he was sick; he knew that chimneys don't dance, and that
girls are not blown to the moon; and yet----

Weeping he called Femke's name softly, not loud enough to be heard
by the others, but loud enough to relieve his own depression.

"What's that?" he cried suddenly. "Does she answer? Is that
imagination, too?"

Actually, Walter heard his name called, and it was Femke's voice!

"I must know whether I'm dreaming, or not," he said, and straightened
himself up in bed. "That is a red flower, that is a black one, I am
Walter, Laurens is a printer's apprentice--everything is all right;
and I'm not dreaming."

He leaned out of bed and listened again, his mouth and eyes as wide
open as he could get them, as if the senses of taste and sight were
going to reinforce that of hearing.

"O, God! Femke's voice! Yes, yes, it is Femke!" He jumped out of bed,
ran out the door, and half ran, half fell down the steps.

To return to Femke for a little while. She had expected Walter at
the bridge the next day after the story of the sun-worshipers. At
first she thought that Walter was waiting till he could borrow from
Stoffel the book with the picture showing Aztalpa embracing the two
brothers. She wanted to see Walter with the picture; now she would have
been satisfied with him without the picture. It couldn't be the boy's
person, she thought--such a child!--but he did recite so well. Perhaps
in the heart of the girl Walter and his recitals had already coalesced.

"Put the clothes in the sun," cried her mother; and Femke translated
that: Sun--Peru--Aztalpa--Kusco--Walter.

"Run those fighters away; they'll throw dirt on the clothes."

Femke dreamed: Courageously fighting against the enemies of the
country--the noblest tribe of the Incas--Telasco--Walter.

Everything seemed to be calling for Walter; but he did not come.

The first day she was sad; the second, impatient; the third, restless.

"Mother, I'm going to see what's become of the little boy who was
going to write a poem."

"Do, my child!" said the mother. "Do you think you will find him?"

Femke nodded; but her nod was not convincing. She did not know where
Walter lived and was afraid to say so. It took courage to start out to
trace the child when she didn't know where he lived; and this courage
she wished to conceal. And why? Just timidity incident to the tender
feelings. Sometimes we conceal the good and boast of the bad.

The girl dressed herself as prettily as she could and put all her
money in her pocket. It was only a few stivers. She hurried through
Ash Gate and inquired where the shop was that lent books. Thus she
came directly to the Hartenstraat. She simply retraced the steps of
our hero, when he made that first sally with Glorioso.

Less timid than Walter--Femke was older, and had had more experience
with men--she asked the gruff fellow in a business-like way for
"the book about the countess with the long train or her dress."

"What? What's the title?"

"I don't know," Femke said. "It's about a robber--and the Pope's
mentioned in it, too. I am hunting for the boy who read the book. I
wanted to ask where he lives--I will pay you for your trouble."

"Do you think I'm a fool? Am I here to hunt for boys?"

"But, M'neer, I will pay you," the girl said, and laid the money on
the counter.

"Oh, get on! What do I know about your boy?"

Femke got angry now.

"I haven't done anything, and you can't run me off like that. No,
you can't. If you don't want to tell me, you needn't to. You are an
unaccommodating fellow!"

She was going to leave, when it occurred to her to ask, "And won't
you lend me a book, either?"

"Yes, you can get a book. What do you want?"

"That book about the robber and Amalia," said Femke. She felt now that
she was a "customer," and oh, how proud she had become all at once!

"I don't know anything about such a book. Do you mean Rinaldo

"No. Is there more than one robber book? Just call over the names of
them for me."

This was said with an air of importance that was not without its effect
on the shopman. He pulled down the catalogue, and soon he came to

"That's it, that's it!" cried Femke, delighted.

"But you must deposit a forfeit," the man said, as he mounted the
ladder to get that precious book.

"No, no, I don't want the book at all. I only want to know where the
boy lives who read it. I will pay you gladly," and she pointed to
her money.

"That isn't necessary," he said. "I don't mind accommodating you when
you ask me politely."

He looked in the register and found the name Femke had mentioned, with
the address. He showed it to her, and was even going to explain to her
the best way to get there; but Femke was already out the door. The
fellow had difficulty in overtaking her to return the money she had
forgotten on the counter.

When she reached the address given, Femke learned that the Pieterses
had moved to a "sweller neighborhood." It was quite a distance away;
but Femke was not deterred by that.

Once at the Pieterses', she was received by the young ladies with a
rough, "What do you want?"

"Oh, Juffrouw, I wanted to ask about Walter."

"Who are you?"

"I am Femke, Juffrouw, and my mother is a wash-woman. I would like
to know if Walter is all right."

"What have you got to do with Walter?" asked Juffrouw Pieterse,
who had heard the commotion and came down.

"Ah, Juffrouw, don't be angry--I wanted to know; and my mother knows
that I've come to ask. Walter told me about Telasco, and the girl
that was to die--oh, Juffrouw, tell me if he's sick! I cannot sleep
till I know."

"That's none of your business. Go, I tell you! I don't want strange
people standing around the door."

"For mercy's sake, Juffrouw!" cried the girl, wringing her hands.

"The girl's crazy. Put her out, Trudie, and slam the door!"

Trudie began to execute the order. Myntje and Pietje got ready to
help her; but the child clung to the balustrade and held her ground.

"Throw her out! The impudent thing!"

"Oh, Juffrouw, I'm not impudent. I will go. Just tell me whether
Walter is sick. Tell me, and I will go right now. Just tell me if
he's sick--if, if he's going--to die."

The poor child began to weep. Anybody else but those Pieterse women
would have been touched at the sight. They were too far up the ladder.

Plainer people, or nobler people would have understood Femke. Feeling,
sympathy, is like the money in a gambling-place. It doesn't come
to everybody. There wenches and countesses sit side by side; merely
respectable people, who sell shoes made in Paris, are not there.

"I won't go!" cried Femke. "Oh, God! I won't go! I will know whether
that child is sick!"

A door was heard opening above; and Walter came in sight. He tumbled
down the steps and fell unconscious at Femke's feet.

"That boy!" groaned the old lady, while the girls stood as if
transfixed. Femke picked Walter up and carried him upstairs. His
bed was pointed out to her, and she placed him in it. No one had the
courage to run her away when she took a chair by the bedside. If at
this moment the rights of the Pieterses and Femke had been voted upon,
all the votes would have gone to Femke.

She wept, and stammered "Don't be angry, Juffrouw; but I couldn't
sleep for thinking of him."


The evening of the birthday party came. All of the Pieterses went,
leaving Walter to be taken care of by Leentje.

Juffrouw Laps was doing the honors.

"A strange state of affairs," said the birthday uncle. "And what did
she want?"

"Oh, goodness, M'neer, I don't know myself. I've told Gertrude a
hundred times that it's too much for me. Just imagine to yourself--such
a thing issuing commands in my house! I told Mina to pitch her out. And
Pietro said----"

"You ought to have seen me get hold of her," croaked that brave young
woman, showing a blue place on her hand. From this it might have been
inferred that Femke had had hold of Pietro.

"Just wait till she comes again," cried Gertrude, "and I will attend
to her!"

"And what will I do for her?" said Mina significantly.

Every one of them was ready for the fray. That is often the case. If
the vote had been taken now on moral worth, Femke would have been

"A common girl, M'neer!"

"Worse than common!"

"How did you get rid of her?"

"Ah, it wasn't easy. I said----"

"No, mother, I said----"

"No, it was I!"

"But it was I!"

Each one of them had said something. Everyone wanted to play the
leading rôle in the interesting drama.

"I would like to know where the young Mr. van der Gracht is," said
Juffrouw Laps. "Yes, uncle, it's a surprise----"

Juffrouw Pieterse did not like to be interrupted when she had something
to tell.

"And so we said--what did we say, Gertrude?"

"Mother, I said it was a disgrace."

"Yes, I said so, too. Then that thing asked for cold water, and
when we didn't get it quick enough for her, she ran and fetched it
herself--just as if she were at home! She wet a cloth and put it on
Walter's head. I was amazed at her insolence. When the child came to
she gave him a kiss! Think of it--and all of us standing there!"

"Yes," cried the three daughters, "think of it--and us standing there!"

"Then she sat down in front of the bed again and talked to him."

"Where can the young Mr. van der Gracht be!" sighed Juffrouw
Laps. "It's only because we have a little surprise, uncle."

"And finally she went away like a princess!"

"Exactly like a princess," testified the girls; and they did not know
that they were telling the truth.

"And she told Walter she would come again. But I just want to see
her do it!"

The door-bell rang. Juffrouw Laps arose; and the catechist van der
Gracht with his son walked into the room. Juffrouw Pieterse didn't
like this; she felt that the star of her narration would pale in the
light of the poem Klaasje had brought with him. And even without a
poem: such dignity, such a carriage, such manners, such a voice!

"Mynheer and Juffrouwen, may God bless you all this evening! This
is my son Klaas, of whom you have heard, I suppose. He's too close
kin to me for me to praise him; but you understand--when it's the
father--well, all blessings come from above."

"Yes, uncle, it will be a surprise."

"Yes, indeed, Juffrouw, a beautiful surprise. I congratulate this
gentleman on the happy return of his natal day. It puts me in the
mood of the psalmist--and I thank God--for Mynheer, everything comes
from above, you know."

"Take a seat. I thank you," said the host, who understood that he
had been congratulated. "It's cold out, isn't it?"

"Yes, a little cool; hardly cold. It's just what we call cool, you
understand. The Master gives us weather as he sees fit; and for that
reason I say cool. Everything comes from above."

To this last statement all assented in audible sighs and thought
themselves pious. What would have happened to him if some poor devil
had announced to them that some things come from below?

"And now, uncle, what do you say? Shall we begin with the surprise?"

"Go ahead, niece; what have you got?"

"Oh, it's only a trifle, Mynheer," put in the catechist. "My son is
a poet. I don't praise him, because he's too close kin to me; but
he's a clever fellow--I can say that without bragging--for everything
comes from above. No, I won't praise him--praise is for the Master
alone. But he's a clever fellow."

The poet Klaas looked conscious, and sat toying with the bottom button
on his vest. He looked poetical all over.

"And so, Mynheer, without bragging--get it out, my son. As a father,
Mynheer, I may say that he's a clever fellow; for in the Bible----"

Klaasje drew a piece of paper from his pocket.

"In the Bible there is really nothing said about widowers--the Master
has his own good reasons for it--but what does the boy do? He takes
the hint and writes a whole poem on widows."

Klaasje laid the paper on the table.

"Yes, I dare say, he has brought into it all the widows mentioned in
the Bible."

"You see it's a surprise. I told you so," said Juffrouw Laps.

"Read it, Klaasje! There are seventy, Mynheer, seventy widows. Read,
my boy."

Klaas pulled at his clothes, arranged his cuffs and began:

    "The widows that in the Bible appear,
    I've brought together in this poem here,
    For the birthday that we celebrate
    Of him who sadly lost his mate,
    Exalting always the Master of Love,
    For all that we have comes from above."

"That's the prologue," explained the father.

"Yes, that's the prologue. Now I will read:

    "Genesis, 38, verse 11, it is said:
    At her father-in-law's must the widow have her bed.
    Exodus, 20, 22, it is penned:
    Widows and orphans thou shalt not offend.
    Two verses further he threatens, wrathful and grim
    To make widows of all the women that anger him.
    Leviticus, 21, verse 14, thou read'st
    That a widow won't do for the wife of a priest.
    A chapter further, one verse less, we have read,
    That a childless widow must eat her father's bread.
    From Numbers, 30, verse 10, we clearly infer,
    That a widow's vow is sufficient for her."

In this style he continued glibly, without any interruption; but when
he came to:

    "Second Samuel, 20, 3, very clearly outlines,
    That as widows must live David's concubines----"

Juffrouw Pieterse became restless and had to have an explanation.

"Yes, Juffrouw, concubines," said van der Gracht senior. "You see
the boy has brought in everything relating to widows."

"The verses are not the same length," Stoffel complained; and there
is no alternation of masculine and feminine lines."

"You may be right, Stoffel, for you are a school-teacher; but that's
immaterial to me. These--these con--what shall I say----"

"Juffrouw Pieterse, you ought not to mock at it," cried Juffrouw Laps.

"That's right," said the catechist, "all blessings come from above. Go
ahead, Klaas!"

"No, I will not hear such things--on account of my daughters!"

The girls were examining their finger nails, and looked preëminently

"Go ahead, Klaas!"

"If I had known that this was going to happen, I would have left my
daughters at home."

"But, Juffrouw, it's in the Bible. You're not opposed to the Bible,
are you?"

"No, but I refuse to hear anything that isn't respectable. My

"Your husband sold shoes. I know it, Juffrouw, but you're not going
to turn against----"

"I'm not going to do anything against the Bible, but I will not endure
such coarseness. Come, Gertrude, come, children!"

Juffrouw Pieterse was climbing the ladder of respectability. Moving
out of a side street into one of the principal avenues, giving the
children French names, calling in a doctor whose coachman wears
furs--that is what lifts us up.


Walter's illness now took a favorable turn. As soon as he was
strong enough to leave his bed, the whole family noticed that he
had grown. All remarked about it and called each other's attention to
it. No one was better convinced of the fact than Juffrouw Pieterse; for
"that boy" had "outgrown all of his clothes," and it would not be easy
"to fit him out respectably again." So much interesting notoriety and
respectability had been reaped from Walter's illness that it was only
natural that his convalescence should be turned to the best account.

The child would sit and fill in the colors in pictures. The doctor
had presented him the pictures and a box of colors. The latter,
so Stoffel said, were the genuine English article.

Oh, such pictures!

Walter was interested especially by pictures from the opera and the
tragedy. There were pictures from Macbeth, Othello, Lear, Hamlet,
from "The Magic Flute," "The Barber of Seville," "Der Freischütz,"
and from still a few more--each one always more romantic than the
last. In selecting suitable colors for his heroes and heroines, Walter
had the advice of the entire family, including Leentje. Usually there
was disagreement, but that only made the matter more important. In
only two details were they agreed: faces and hands were to have
flesh-color, and lips were to be painted red. It had always been
that way; otherwise, why was it called flesh-color? On account of
this arrangement Hamlet came off rather badly, receiving a much more
animated countenance than was suited to his melancholy.

"I wish I knew what the dolls mean," said Walter. He was talking
about his pictures.

"It's only necessary to ask Stoffel," his mother replied. "Wait till
he comes from school."

Walter asked him. Stoffel--there are more such people in the
world--would never admit that he did not know a thing; and he always
knew how to appear knowing.

"What the dolls mean? Well, you see--those are, so to say, the pictures
of various persons. There, for instance, the one with a crown on his
head--that is a king."

"I told you Stoffel could explain them," corroborated his mother.

"Yes, but I should have liked to know what king, and what he did."

"Well! There it is at the bottom. You can read it, can't you?"


"Certainly. It's Macbeth, a famous king of ancient times."

"And that one there with a sword in his hand?"

"Also a king, or a general, or a hero, or something of the
kind--somebody that wants to fight. Perhaps David, or Saul, or
Alexander the Great. That's not to be taken so exactly."

"And the lady with the flowers? She seems to be tearing them up."

"That one? Show her to me: Ophelia. Yes, that's Ophelia. Don't
you know?"

"Yes. Why does she throw the leaves on the ground?"

"Why? why? The questions you do ask!"

Here the mother came to the rescue of her eldest son.

"Yes, Walter, you mustn't ask more questions than anybody can answer."

Walter did not ask any more questions, but he determined to get to
the bottom of the matter at the first opportunity. His imagination
roamed over immeasurable domains--such an insatiate conqueror was
the little emperor Walter in his night-jacket!

He associated the heroes of his pictures with the doctor, who had been
so friendly to him, and with his immortal Glorioso. The Peruvian story,
too, furnished a few subjects for his empire. He married Telasco to
Juliet; and the priests of the sun got their rights again. Master
Pennewip received a new wig, but of gold-colored threads, on the
model of the straw crown of a certain King Lear. Persons that he
could see from the window were numbered among his subjects. He had
to do something; and this foreign material was preferable to that in
his immediate surroundings. Even Lady Macbeth, who was washing her
hands and not looking particularly pleasing, seemed to him to be of
a higher order than his mother or Juffrouw Laps.

In fact, for him those pictures were the greatest things in
the world. He was carried away with the crowns, diadems, plumes,
iron gratings over the faces, with the swords and the daggers with
cross-hilts to swear on--with the trains and puff-sleeves and girdles
with pendents of gold--and the pages. All this had nothing in common
with his everyday surroundings. How is it possible, he thought, that
anyone who has such beautiful pictures should sell them? The doctor
must have inherited them!

Even if he had known that Lady Macbeth was the personification of
crime, it would still have seemed to him a profanation to bring her
into contact with the plebeian commonness around him.

All at once something in Ophelia's form reminded him of Femke. She
too could stand that way, plucking the petals from the flowers and
strewing them on the ground.

He had dim recollections of what had happened, and occasionally he
would ask indifferently about "that girl." He was afraid to speak
her name before Gertrude, Mina, and Pietro. He was always answered in
tones that showed him that there was no room for his romance there;
but he promised himself to visit her as soon as he got up.

"When you're better you must go to see the doctor and thank him
for curing you--but thank God first; and then you can show him what
you've painted."

"Of course, mother! I will give her the Prince of Denmark--I mean him,
the doctor."

"But be careful not to soil it; and don't forget that the ghost of the
old knight must be very pale. Stoffel said so--because it's a ghost,
you see."

"Yes, mother, I'll make it white."

"Good. And you'll make the lady there yellow?" pointing with a
knitting-needle to Ophelia.

"No, no," cried Walter quickly, "she was blue!"

"She was? Who was?"

"I only mean that I have so much yellow already, and I wanted to make
her--this one--Ophelia--I wanted to make her blue. That one washing
her hands can stay yellow."

"So far as I'm concerned," the mother said, "but don't soil it!"

Stoffel, in the meantime, had got on the track of those pictures. He
was slick and had an inquiring mind. One of his colleagues at school,
who was in some way connected with the stage, told him that such
costume-pictures were of great value to players. He also told him
other things about these pictures and about the play in general.

It was fortunate for Walter that Stoffel brought this knowledge
home with him. Even to-day there are people who find something
immoral in the words "Theatre" and "Player"; but at that time it was
still worse. The satisfaction, however, of imparting knowledge and
appearing wise put Stoffel in an attitude of mind on this occasion
that ordinarily would have been irreconcilable with that narrowness
which with him took the place of conscience.

"You see, mother, there are comedies and comedies. Some are sad,
some funny. Some are all nonsense, and there's nothing to be learned
from them; but there are comedies so sad that the people wail when
they see them--even respectable people!"

"Is it possible!"

"Yes, and then there are others where there's music and singing. They
are nice, and moral too. They are called operas; and people who
are entirely respectable go there. You see, mother, there's nothing
bad about it; and we ought not to be so narrow. The old Greeks had
comedies, and our professors still study them."

"Is it possible!"

"Walter's pictures are from real comedies; but I can't tell all the
details now. I will only say there are good comedies."

"You must tell Juffrouw Laps. She always says----"

"And what does she know about it? She never saw a comedy in her life."

That was the truth; but it was just as true of the Pieterse
family--with the exception of Leentje.

One afternoon Leentje had complained of a terrible headache and
had left off sewing and gone out. Later it was learned that she had
not spent the evening with her mother; and then there was a perfect
storm. But Leentje would not say where she had been that night. "That
night" was Juffrouw Pieterse's expression, though she knew that the
girl was at home by eleven o'clock. Leentje betrayed nothing. She
had promised the dressmaker next door not to say anything; for the
dressmaker had to be very careful, because her husband was a hypocrite.

In Leentje's work-box was found a mutilated program; and then one day
she began to sing a song she had never sung before--"I'm full of honor,
I'm full of honor; oh, yes, I'm a man of honor!"

And then it was all out! She had been to the Elandstraat and had seen
the famous Ivan Gras in a comedy!

Leentje began to cry and was going to promise never to do so again,
when, to her amazement, she was told that there was nothing wrong in
it, and that even the greatest professors went to see comedies.

And now she must tell them about it.

It was "The Child of Love," by Kotzebue, that had greeted her
astonished eyes.

"There was music, Juffrouw, and they played beautifully; and then the
curtain went up, and there was a great forest, and a woman wept under
a tree. There was a Baron who made her son a prisoner, because he was
a hunter--but he spoke so nice, and his mother, too. The Baron said
he was master on his place, and that he would punish such thieves. He
was in a great rage. And then the mother said--no, somebody else
came and said--but then the curtain went down. The dressmaker bought
waffles that were being passed around, and we drank chocolate. The
dressmaker said that every day wasn't a feast day. A man sat behind us
and explained everything and took our cups when they were empty. Then
the band played, 'Pretty girls and pretty flowers.'"

"Shame!" cried the three young ladies. For it was a common street song.

"And then the curtain went up again of its own accord; but the
gentleman behind us said somebody raised it--perhaps the 'Child of
Love' himself, for he was not in prison when the curtain was down. The
dressmaker gave him a peppermint-drop, and he said: 'Watch the stage,
Juffrouw, for you have paid to see it.' It cost twelve stivers,
without the waffles and chocolate. Then the Baron said--but I can't
tell it all exactly as it was. I will only say that the old woman
wept all the time, and she could not be reconciled, because she was so
unhappy. You see, Juffrouw, the child of love was her own child; and it
was also the Baron's child of love. That was bad--because it was just
a child of love, you see; and that is always bad. He had no papers,
no credentials; nor the mother, either. And he was to die because he
had hunted. Oh, it was beautiful, Juffrouw! And then the curtain went
down again and we ate another waffle. The gentleman behind us said it
was well that they gave plays with prison scenes in them. There were
so many bad people in the hall, such as pickpockets and the like,
and this would be a warning for them. The dressmaker was going to
offer him another mint-drop, when she saw that her box was gone. It
was silver. The gentleman said of course some pickpocket had taken it."

"He was the pickpocket!" exclaimed several.

Leentje was indignant at the idea.

"No, no! Don't say that; it's a sin. He was a very respectable
gentleman, and addressed me as Juffrouw, just as he did the
dressmaker. He tried to find the thief. He asked where the Juffrouw
lived, and said that if he found the box he would bring it to her. He
wore a fancy vest--no, no, no. Don't say that of him!"

"Well, tell some more about the child of love." All were interested.

"Oh, the music was so nice! And a gentleman showed them with a stick
how to play."

"But tell us about the comedy!"

"That is not so easy. It was very beautiful. It must be seen; it can't
be told. The Baron saw that the hunter in prison was his own son;
because a long time before, you see, that is--formerly, he had been
acquainted with--you understand----"

Poor Leentje turned as red as fire, and left her audience in a
temporary suspense.

"Yes, he had known the old woman formerly, and then they were good
friends, and were often together--I will just tell it that way--and
they were to marry, but something came between them; and so--and--for
that reason the comedy was called the 'Child of Love.'"

Walter listened with as much interest as the others; but he was less
affected than the girls, who sat quietly staring into space. Stoffel
felt called upon to say something.

"That's it! He abused her chastity--that's the way it's spoken of--and
she was left to bear the disgrace. The youth of to-day cannot be
warned enough against this. How often have I told the boys at school!"

"Listen, Walter, and pay attention to what Stoffel says!"

Encouraged by the approval of his mother, Stoffel continued.

"Yes, mother, virtue must be revered. That is God's will; and what God
does is well done. Of all sins sensual pleasure is--a very great sin,
because it is forbidden; and because all sins are punished, either
in this world or in the next."

"Do you hear, Walter?"

"Here, or in the next world, mother! Innocent pleasure, yes; but
sensual pleasure--it is forbidden! It loosens all the ties of human
society. You see that such a comedy can be very fine. Only you must
understand it properly--that's the idea."

"And what did the Baron do then?"

"Ah, Juffrouw, what shall I say! He talked a whole lot to the old
woman, and was very sad because he had--away back there--because
he had----"

"Seduced her," added Stoffel, seeing that Leentje couldn't find the
word. "That's what it's called."

"Yes, that's what she said, too; and he promised never to do it
again. And then he told the child of love always to follow the path
of virtue, and that he would marry the old woman. She was satisfied
with the arrangement."

"I suppose so," cried the three girls in a breath. "She will be a
rich baroness!"

"Yes," said Leentje, "she became a great lady. And then the child of
love fell on the Baron's neck; and they played 'Bridal Wreath.' The
'Child of Love' became a hussar and sang, 'I'm full of honor, I'm
full of honor; Oh, I'm a man of honor!' I don't know what became of
the old Baron. And then we went home; but the dressmaker took no more
pleasure in the play now, because her silver box was gone. I don't
know whether the gentleman ever brought it to her, or not."

The play was out.

The girls thought: "Baroness!"

Stoffel was thinking: "Virtue!"

The mother's thoughts ran: "Twelve stivers for a ticket, and waffles
and chocolate extra!"

Walter was saying to himself: "A hunter! A whole year in the forest,
in the great forest, and alone. I'd like to do it, too."

He took up his brush and looked at Ophelia: "To be alone in the great
forest with--Femke!"

But the theatre question was far from being settled. Leentje had to
clear up many doubtful points yet. For instance, Pietro wanted to
know how old the woman was when the Baron finally married her. Leentje
thought she must have been about sixty.

Also Juffrouw Laps had to express her opinion. She declared that she
was opposed to everything "worldly," and insisted that Walter be sent
to church.

Later she got into a big dispute over the theatre with Master
Pennewip, whom Stoffel had brought in to reinforce his position. He
had brought with him "Floris the Fifth," that powerful comedy by the
noble Bilderdyk. With many declensions and conjugations and remarks
on rhyme and metre, he explained, firstly, that "Floris the Fifth"
was a play from which much could be learned; and, secondly, that the
theatre was something very moral and thoroughly respectable.

To be sure, he failed to convince Juffrouw Laps. Nor was Walter
greatly impressed by that masterpiece, despite the fact that there
were three deaths in it. He much preferred the beautiful story of
Glorioso, or the Peruvian story--or even Little Red Riding Hood.


Walter had been to church: that was now behind him. Stoffel thought
the pastor had preached a beautiful sermon, and said that "in a way
all he said could be accepted." He hoped that it would "bear fruit."

"Yes," said the mother, "and he mustn't tear his new breeches
again. They cost too much hard work for that."

As a matter of fact the "hard work" done in the Pieterse family
might be regarded as a negligible quantity. There was the necessary
housework, and the usual complaining--or boasting, if you will--but
this was to be expected.

That Walter had postponed his visit to go to church was a result of
the frightful threats of Juffrouw Laps. She cited Second Chronicles
xvi. 12, and in the face of this text the Pieterses were not able
successfully to defend their new and more liberal position. Juffrouw
Pieterse could only say that the Bible was not to be interpreted that
way, as if everything in it applied to a given individual.

But Juffrouw Laps stuck to it, that if one has faith and grace one
may come through all right; whereupon Juffrouw Pieterse expressed
her willingness at all times to take advice.

"Those are the essential things; through them we are saved! And--send
him to me the first of the week. Or he can come Sunday, but after
church. Then he can tell me about the sermon, even if the pastors
are--but what does a child know about it!"

Juffrouw Laps didn't think much of pastors. She held that people
with grace in their hearts can understand God's word without Greek
and Latin.

"Yes, Sunday after church. I will count upon it." And in order to
make her invitation more insistent she mentioned certain sweets that
she usually served her guests at that time.

Supposing that Juffrouw Laps was really anxious for Walter to come,
we must admit that she showed deep knowledge of boy-nature.

As for Walter, he was afraid to be alone with this pious lady. For
him she was the living embodiment of all the plagues that are made
use of in the Old Testament to convert rebellious tribes to the true
faith. For instance, thunder and lightning, pestilence, abysses,
boils, flaming swords, etc.

If he had had the courage he would have asked her just to deposit
the promised dainties somewhere outside of her flat. He would find
them then. But he didn't have the courage.

"And why didn't you go?" asked the mother when Stoffel's enthusiasm
over the sermon had begun to die down.

Walter said he had a pain in his stomach, which children always have
when they want to bridge over disagreeable duties. With a better
understanding between the parents and children this disease would be
less frequent.

"I don't believe you have any pain in your stomach," declared the
mother. "It's only because you're a bad child and never do what you're
told to do."

Stoffel agreed with her; and then a council of war was held. Walter
was condemned to go to Juffrouw Laps's at once; and he went.

Expecting some terrible ordeal, he was greatly embarrassed and confused
by the show of friendliness with which he was received.

"And you did come, my dear boy! But you are so late! Church has been
out a long time. See what I have for you, expressly for you!"

She thrust him into a chair at the table and shoved all sorts of
sweets over to him. Walter's embarrassment increased; and he felt
even less at ease when she began to stroke him and call him pet names.

"Now, tell me about the sermon," she said, when the child tried
to escape the tenderness and affection to which he was not
accustomed. "What did the pastor say?"

"The text----"

"But that's all right--afterwards, when your mouth is empty. You must
eat a few cakes first. Nobody can do everything at once. There is
chocolate; and you're to have a little dram, too. I've always said
that you are a nice boy; but they're forever plaguing you so. But
you're not eating enough; do just as if you were at home."

For Walter that was not the right expression. At home!

His first surprise over Walter began to be possessed by a feeling of
fear. Why, he could not have told to save him.

Suddenly he got up and declared that his mother had told him not to
stay long.

There wasn't a word of truth in it. Juffrouw Laps protested, but
Walter held his ground. Despite all of that kindness Walter was able
to escape from the enemy.

Promising "to come back soon" he ran down the steps and into the

An indescribable feeling of freedom regained thrilled through him. He
had escaped. It was incomprehensible even to him. Never had he been
received so kindly, so cordially; never had he been treated in a
manner approaching this. But why his antipathy? When he left she
was going to kiss him, but he managed to dodge her. Why? He didn't
know. But it made him shudder to think of it.

Should he go home now? What excuse could he give for coming back
so soon?

Involuntarily he bent his steps toward Ash Gate. It was not his
intention to visit Femke--not at all, really not! For he didn't have
his Ophelia with him--proof conclusive that when he left home he had
not thought of Femke.

And when he came in sight of his mills on the Buitensingel--oh,
they were silent! Was there no wind? Or were they observing Sunday?

The Buitensingel was full of people taking a Sunday stroll. Walter
followed the small stream, which led him towards Femke's house. Soon he
stood before the low enclosure; but he did not dare to go in. Why? He
put the blame on the absent Ophelia.

"If I only had that picture here I'd certainly go in!"

That is questionable. Even with the picture he would have probably
been just as shy. He didn't know what he ought to say--or, better,
whether he could say anything, or not. He reflected. Suppose Femke's
mother should ask, "Did you want anything?"

We--yes, the "gentle reader" and I--we should have known what to
answer. I wonder if our wisdom would have been wiser than the stupidity
of the child, who stood irresolute and hesitating before the fence?

He stood staring at the house, his mouth wide open. His knees trembled,
his heart fluttered, his tongue was dry.

A small column of smoke curling up from the chimney aroused him. What
if a fire should break out! Then he would have to go in. He would
rescue her, and carry her away in his arms--far, far away--to the end
of the world, or at least outside of the town! Just anywhere where
the people wear red velvet and green silk, where the gentlemen carry
big swords and the ladies wear long trains. They would be so becoming
to Femke. And she should ride horseback, and he would follow her--no,
he would ride by her side, with a falcon on his hand!

If a fire should break out!

But Walter saw that the house was in no danger. This smoke came from
the kitchen. He noticed other houses in the neighborhood where cooking
seemed to be going on, and everywhere the chimneys were bearing witness
to activities below which were presumably similar to those of Femke.

Finally a crowd of fellows came along who had evidently been stopping
at one of those establishments where "refreshments" are served. They
had been greatly refreshed, and in their exuberance of freshness,
so to say, they crowded Walter away from the fence and took him along
with them for a little way.

He was easily reconciled to this; for why, he thought, should he
stand there and watch the smoke? There wasn't going to be any fire;
and then he didn't have Ophelia with him.

But to-morrow! To-morrow he would bring that picture with him! And
then he wouldn't stand at the fence like a baby.

He felt ashamed when he thought of his friends in their gay colors,
or in armor, with plumes and swords. Those kings and knights and
pages--they had been courageous, otherwise they never would have
received such high orders and distinctions. Unless there were some
change, he felt that he would never be pictured like that.

However, he expected that such a change would come--without doubt,
surely, certainly, truly! The further he went, the more determined
he became to go in the next day and put on a bold front and say:
"Good-day, Juffrouw, how do you do?"

It was more difficult for him to decide what he would say to Femke.

He made up various little speeches in the manner of Floris the
Fifth. In case Femke shouldn't like them he was going to say, "Why,
that is from our greatest poet."

And then he would ask her to explain a lot of mysterious words
in Floris that he hadn't understood--for instance, "fast fellow,"
"coverture," "chastity," and others.

Walter's development was determined by his desire to know things. His
feeling for Femke, which was hardly real love, was subordinated to
his thirst for knowledge. He knew that he couldn't get much from her,
especially book-learning; but it was a pleasure merely to discuss
things with her, even if she knew nothing about them.

He was curious to know all that she might have to tell him, or to ask
him; for no doubt she too had been saving up her impressions for her
first friend. But, alas! he was not so certain of her friendship! True,
when he was sick she had asked about him; but perhaps she was just
passing by, and thought how easy it would be to ring the bell and ask,
"How is Walter?"

Still it had taken courage to do it. What would Mungo Park have said
if he had seen him hesitating before the gate! Walter knew that wasn't
the way to conquer the world.

And if anybody had asked Mungo Park: "What do you want in Africa?"

Well, he would have answered. Such a traveller in such a book is
never embarrassed.

Then Walter began to address all sorts of remarks to negro kings
that he had conquered with lance and sword. All the women kissed his
hand as he rode by on his bay, with fiery red caparison. He inquired
patronizingly after those good girls who had nursed him in his illness,
"because the strange white man was far from mother and sisters and
had no home." He would reward them princely.

In all this conquered land Walter was king and Femke was--queen! How
magnificent the big red velvet cloak would look on her--and the
gold crown!

Conquering continents was easy. He was scarcely thirteen; and yet
he was afraid that somebody might get ahead of him while he was
being detained by the treacherous Pennewip with declensions and
conjugations. And, then there were still more things to learn before
one could be king, even of a small country. Pocket-change would have
to be increased too, for, with all possible economy, six doits a week
were insufficient. The Hallemans--well, they had more; but fortunately
they were not thinking of Africa. For the present he was not afraid
of any competition from that quarter; but other children, nearer the
"grown-up" stage, might get the idea in their heads! And then, what
would he do to keep his mother from guessing when he made his trips
into the "interior" longer, and stayed out later than was allowed by
the regulations of the Pieterse household?

It was a difficult matter, but he would manage it.

All that might happen to him and Femke in Africa would be read
afterwards in pretty little books with colored pictures. He already
saw himself sitting on a throne, and Femke by his side. She was not
proud; she was willing for everybody to know--all those kneeling
before her--that she had been a poor wash-girl. She had become queen
because Walter had loved her; and now they needn't kneel any more.

On special occasions--well, of course, that was different; for
instance, when his mother and Stoffel came to visit him. They should
see how all the people honored him--and Femke whom they had treated so
badly. But once would be enough; then he would forgive them everything
and build them a big house with water-barrels and wash-tubs. For
Pennewip he would build a big schoolhouse, with desks and ink-bottles
and copy-books and wall maps of Europe and tables of the new weights
and measures. Then the old master could give instruction from early
in the morning till late at night--or even all night.

He was just puzzling over how he was going to reconcile Master
Pennewip and the dusky young African to one another when Leentje
opened the door.

Without noticing it he had got home and rung the
door-bell. Unsuspectingly he fell into an environment quite different
from that in which he had moved for the last half hour. He scarcely
understood what his mother meant when she asked him how the visit
turned out, and whether Juffrouw Laps was satisfied with his report
on the sermon.

Sermon? Laps? He was unprepared for such an examination. He stammered
out a sort of miscellaneous and irrelevant jumble of words, but
fortunately containing nothing about Africa.

It now developed that in the meantime there had been a sudden change
in certain details of religious belief.

"You see, mother?" said Stoffel. "Just as I've always said, it
would take a lawyer to explain anything to suit her. She always
knows better----"

"That's so," answered the mother. "She's cracked or crazy. Now,
just tell me, Stoffel, if anyone can expect such a child to remember
everything a preacher says. I can't do it myself; and you can't do it,
either. Master Pennewip can't do it. I tell you, nobody can do it. And
to require that of such a child! She just wants to play the professor;
that's the reason she does it."

Stoffel was of the same opinion. Encouraged by his sympathy the mother
became eloquent.

"I would like to know what she's thinking about; or if she thinks
she's a pastor. With all her biblical quotations! And then to torment
a child hardly out of a sick bed--it's a disgrace. You don't need to
go to her. What business have you got with her? I tell you----"

Here it occurred to her that she herself had compelled Walter to go,
and she interrupted this line of thought to scold Walter and tell him
to get out of his Sunday breeches. Her dissatisfaction with herself
expressed itself further in a funeral oration on Walter's last suit,
which had cost so much "hard work."

"And then to let that child sit there for an hour without anything
to eat or drink! She would----"

Walter's feeling for justice couldn't let that pass. He assured them
that on the contrary--and then that excessive kindness got in his way
again. In his confusion he went into all the details of the chocolate.

"Well! Why didn't you say so at once? But it's all the same. I was
going to add that she ought to have given you something to eat. That's
the way such folks are--always grumbling about others and they won't
see themselves. I believe in grace too, and when I have my housework
done I like to hear the Scripture read--but to be everlastingly and
eternally prating about it? No, that isn't religion. What do you say,
Stoffel? One must work part of the time. Walter! aren't you going
to pull off those new breeches? I've told him a dozen times. Trudie,
give him his old ones!"

Walter changed his breeches; but he promised himself that in Africa
he would wear Sunday breeches every day.


The next day Walter rang the doctor's door-bell. His heart was in a
flutter, for the doctor lived in an imposing house. He was admitted
and, after he had been announced, was told just to come upstairs.

The maid conducted Walter to the "study," where the doctor was busy
performing one of his paternal duties: he was teaching his children.

There were three. A boy, somewhat older than Walter, sat alone in one
corner writing at a small table. The other two, a boy of Walter's
age and a girl that seemed to be a few years younger, stood before
the table behind which the doctor was sitting. On the table stood a
large globe, evidently the subject of discussion. This became clear
to Walter later, for, as far as he knew, he had never seen such a
large ball. He didn't know that there was any other way to explain
the location of countries except by means of maps. Thus he noticed
in the room all sorts of things that he didn't understand till later.

When the maid opened the door of the room he heard the voices of
the children, and also that of the father. He even heard laughter;
but when he walked in all became as still as death. The two children
at the table stood like soldiers. There was something so comical in
their attitude that Walter could have laughed at them if he hadn't
been so embarrassed. Even the girl had a touch of official earnestness
in her face more striking than he had seen it in older people, even
at church. While the doctor was welcoming Walter and offering him
a chair, the boy stood with hands clapped down on the seams of his
trousers as if he expected someone to say, "Right about--face!" or,
"Forward, column right, march!"

The larger boy in the corner had only looked up once, but with
that peculiarly hostile expression which distinguishes man from
other animals--to the disadvantage of the former. It is noticeable
especially in children--sometimes in women.

"I'm glad to see you, my boy. It was nice of you to come. What have
you there?"--then he turned to the little soldiers.

"Remind me afterward to tell you at dinner something about Olivier
van Noort. William, you can think of it, can't you?"

Walter squinted at his Lady Macbeth, and was so embarrassed that he
was helpless to present it to the doctor. The room was so magnificent;
and the furnishings--the big cases full of books! His picture seemed
so common and ugly that, if he could have done so, he would have
swallowed it.

At home they had taught him how he must stand and sit and speak;
and now he stood there, as awkward as a cow, stammering and
stuttering. Making a supreme effort he managed to get it out that he
had "come to thank the doctor" for his recovery--"but God first"!

The two soldiers bit their lips; and even the doctor found it difficult
to keep a straight face.

"God first! Well said, my boy. Have you already thanked God?"

"Yes, M'nheer, every evening in bed, and yesterday at church."

Little Sietske unable to control herself any longer had to laugh
outright. Her laughter threatened to become contagious. William was
busier than usual with his nose; Hermann had come to life and was
eyeing Walter slyly.

"Order!" thundered the doctor, giving the table a rap with a ruler
that made the globe tremble. Walter was frightened. "Order! This is
a nice caper during study-hours."

The clock began to strike. Sietske seemed to be counting, for at
every stroke she raised a finger.

"I am going to----"

"Five!" she cried. "All my fingers--just look, five! Five o'clock,
papa--Tyrant! Hurrah, hurrah!"

Both boys joined in the uproar. It was a quodlibet from "Gaudeamus
igitur," "Vive la joie," and "God save the king." Forward, all! Vive
la vacance! A bas les tyrans! Revenge! * * * *

The children were determined to have their well earned romp; and they
had it. Walter rubbed his eyes, and would not believe his ears. It
was beyond his comprehension. * * * *

"That will do now," said the doctor. "Come, mamma is waiting
dinner--and you, too, my boy!"

William took Sietske on his back and Hermann mounted the father. Thus
they descended the stairs, Walter bringing up the rear. Lady Macbeth
had disappeared, being now crumpled up in Walter's breast-pocket.

Walter was nonplussed. Was this the same man who used the gold
pen?--whose coachman wore the furs?

How was it possible? Was it a dream, that he and all the family had
looked on this man and simply been overcome by his dignity?

He couldn't understand it.

Again the atmosphere of the dining-room was quite different from that
of the schoolroom, either before or directly after five.

"Present the young gentleman to your mamma," said the doctor, turning
to William.

"May I do it?" asked Sietske.

Doctor Holsma nodded, and the little girl took Walter by the hand and
conducted him to a lady who sat at the head of the table preparing
the salad.

"Mamma, this is a young gentleman--oh, I must know your name. What
is your name?"

"Walter Pieterse."

"This is Mr. Walter Pieterse, who has come to thank papa, because
he--he was sick; and he--the young gentleman is going to stay for
dinner, papa?"--the doctor nodded again--"and he's going to stay for
dinner, mamma."

"With mamma's consent," said the father.

"Yes, with mamma's consent."

Mevrouw Holsma spoke to Walter kindly and offered him a chair. It
was necessary, too.

Everything seemed so princely to Walter that he was glad to be
seated. Three-fourths of his little figure was hidden under the
table. That was something gained. He was amazed at almost everything
he saw and heard. He folded his hands.

"Do you want to say a grace, little man?" asked the doctor.

"Yes, M'nheer," Walter stammered.

"A good custom. Do you always do that at the table?"

"Yes, always--at warm meals, M'nheer!"

Those children had been taught good manners. Nobody smiled.

Walter bowed his head for a moment; and the doctor took advantage
of the opportunity to give the children a look of warning. They
remembered; and, if afterwards Walter discovered that he had cut a
singular figure in this household, they were not to blame.

"You do well to do it," said Holsma. "We don't do it; and perhaps we
do well not to."

"Certainly," said the mother. "Everyone must act according to his
own conviction."

This simple statement moved Walter more than any of them could have
imagined. He--a conviction! That short sentence of Mevrouw Holsma
attributed to him a dignity and importance that was strange to him,
and gave him a right he had never thought of before. Through the soup
he was thinking continually: "I may have a conviction!"

It never occurred to him that a thing could be interpreted otherwise
than it was interpreted for him by his mother or Stoffel, or some
other grown-up person. The whole question of praying, or not praying,
did not appear so important to him as this new fact, that he could
have a conviction. His heart swelled.

The doctor, who understood Walter, recalled him from his thoughts.

"Everyone must act according to his conviction; and in order to come
to a conviction one has to reflect a long time over the matter. I
am convinced that our little guest would like to eat some of those
peas. Pass them to him, Sietske."

Walter had grasped the import of Holsma's words, and also the meaning
of this transition to the peas. Walter felt--without putting his
feelings into words--that the pedantry of the schoolroom had been put
aside at five o'clock, and that his host merely wanted to give him a
friendly warning against dogmatic bigotry, without tainting the fresh,
wholesome atmosphere of the dining-room.

Despite his shy, retiring nature--or, better, in connection with this
characteristic--Walter was an extremely intelligent boy. This fact
had escaped almost everybody he had come in contact with because of
his lack of self-confidence, which prevented him from revealing his
true self. He usually seemed to comprehend more slowly than others;
but this was because he was less easily satisfied with the result of
his thinking. His mind was exacting of knowledge. During Walter's
sickness Holsma had remarked this peculiarity of the boy, and his
interest had been enlisted at once.

Walter's shyness was due in a great measure to the manner in which
he had been taught what little he knew. Everything his teachers
taught him was looked upon by them as something immutable and
irrefutable. Twice two is four, Prince so-and-so is a hero, good
children go to heaven, God is great, the Reform Church represents the
true faith, etc., etc. It was never hinted to him that there was any
room for doubt. Indeed, he was led to believe that his desire to know
more about things was improper and even sinful.

After all those extraordinary occurrences in the study, Walter was
prepared to expect almost anything in the way of the unusual, but
that William and Hermann, and even little Sietske, were allowed to
help their plates to whatever they wanted--that was more wonderful
to him than the aërial voyage of Elias. With Geneviève in the famous
wilderness--yes, even in Africa it couldn't be any more free and
easy. He was continually surprised and taken off his guard by the
unwonted and unexpected. In fact, his thoughts were so far away that
when during dessert the little girl passed him a saucer of cream----

Ye gods, it happened and--I must tell it. Oh, if like the
chroniclers of old, I might put the blame on some privy councilor,
"who unfortunately advised," etc.

But what privy councilor in the whole world could have advised Walter
to let that porcelain spoon tilt over the edge of the saucer and fall
into Sietske's lap! He did it, he!

Oh, how sad it was. He had just begun to pull himself up in his
chair. Another moment and he would have actually been sitting. Perhaps
he might have said something soon. The name of a certain country in
Africa, which Sietske could not remember a moment before, had occurred
to him. It was not that he might seem smarter than Sietske that he
was going to speak out. No, it was only that he might seem a little
less stupid than himself. But now--that miserable spoon!

Before he had time to wonder how his awkwardness would be received,
Sietske was talking along smoothly about something else--just as if
this little "catastrophe" was a matter of course.

"Papa, you were going to tell us something about Olivier van Noort."

She arose, wiped off her little skirt and fetched Walter another
spoon from the buffet.

"Yes, papa, Olivier van Noort! You promised it, papa."

All urged him to tell the story. Even Mevrouw Holsma manifested great
interest in it. Walter was aware that this conversation was intended
to cover up his accident. He was moved; for he was not accustomed to
anything like this. As Sietske took her seat again she noticed a tear
creeping down across his cheek.

"Mamma, I got a silver spoon. That's just as good, isn't it? These
porcelain things are so heavy and awkward. They've fallen out of my
hand three times; and Hermann can't manage them, either."

The mother nodded to her.

"And how it is with Olivier van Noort?"

The door-bell rang, and almost immediately afterwards a gentleman
entered the room who was greeted by the children as Uncle Sybrand.

The host now invited all to the garden and sent Hermann to the study
for a book.

"You young rascal, don't you go now and maliciously break that
globe. It can't help it."

Then came the story of Admiral Olivier van Noort and the poor
Vice-Admiral Jan Claesz van Ilpendam, who was put ashore in the Strait
of Magellan for insubordination. It interested all, and called forth
a lively discussion, in which the entire family as well as the guests
took part.


To readers of a certain class of fiction it will no doubt seem strange
if I say that Walter's visit to the Holsma family influenced greatly
his spiritual development. Not immediately; but a seed had been planted
which was to grow later. He saw now that after all independent thought
was possible, even if he could not yet allow himself that luxury. The
mere knowledge that there were other opinions in the world than those
of his daily mentors was a long stride forward.

He was depressed on account of his lack of knowledge. Those children
knew so much more than he did; and this made him sad.

They had spoken of someone who was startled to find footprints. Who
was it? The child had never heard of Defoe's hermit. He asked Stoffel.

"Footprints? Footprints? Well, you must tell me what footprints you
mean--whose footprints. You must give names when you ask questions."

"That's right," said the mother, "when you want to know anything
you must mention names. And Mevrouw made the salad herself? Well,
that's strange. The girl must have been out somewhere."

As to other "strange" things, which were not likely to meet the
approbation of his family, Walter was silent. Not a word about
that Saturnalia, or the omission of grace at a "warm meal"! Nor
did he mention the liberties that were allowed the children, or the
freedom with which they joined in the conversation. Perhaps it was
a superfluous precaution. That bearskin would have been excused for
many shortcomings.

Juffrouw Pieterse asked repeatedly if he had been "respectable." Walter
said he had, but without knowing exactly what she meant. That affair
with the spoon--had it been respectable? He didn't care to have this
question decided--at least by his mother. But it was nice of Sietske;
and wouldn't he have done the same?

He learned that the day was approaching when he must return to
school. More than ever he felt that this source of knowledge was
insufficient for him; but opposition was not to be thought of. He
was dissatisfied with himself, with everything.

"I shall never amount to anything," he sighed.

His Lady Macbeth seemed uglier to him than ever. He tore her up. And

Goodness! He hadn't thought of Femke the whole day. Was it because
she was only a wash-girl, while the doctor's children were so
aristocratic? Walter censured himself.

He took advantage of the first opportunity to pay his debt in that
quarter. For he felt that it was a debt; and this consciousness gave
him courage. Picture in hand, he passed the familiar fence this time
and knocked boldly on the door. His heart was thumping terribly;
but he must do it! In a moment he stood before Femke. The lady of
his heart was quietly darning stockings. It is hard on the writer;
but this little detail was a matter of indifference to Walter.

"Oh!" she cried, extending her hand. "Mother, this is the young
gentleman we saw that time--the little boy who was so sick. And how
are you now? You look pale."

"Take a seat, little boy," said the mother. "Yes, you do look
pale. Worms, of course."

"No, no, mother. The child has had nervous fever."

"All right--fever, then; but it could be from worms. Give him a cup,
Femke. It won't hurt you to drink coffee; but if it were worms----"

Mrs. Claus's worms were more in Walter's way than the stockings.

"Where does your mother have her washing done?" she asked. "Not that
I want to pump you--not at all. But if she isn't satisfied with her
wash-woman--it sometimes happens, you understand. Everybody must
look out for himself; and I just thought I'd mention it. Whenever
there are any ink-spots Femke takes them out with oxalic acid; and
it never makes any holes--yes, it did happen once, and we had to pay
for a pair of cuffs. You can ask Femke."

The fact was, he wanted to ask Femke something else; and she knew
it. The story of Aztalpa had left its marks on her mind. But she
was hampered very much like Walter was at home. She couldn't say,
"Mother, speak a bit more Peruvian!" So she simply asked what the
roll was that he had in his hand.

Walter was confused, but he managed to stammer that it was a present
for her. Femke said she would always take good care of the picture.

"Yes," said the mother, "and you must iron out those creases. We iron,
too, little boy, and we deliver the clothes ready to put on. Nobody can
complain. You can tell your mother. And your collar--it isn't ironed
nicely--and such bluing! Ask Femke. Femke, isn't the blue in stripes?"

His collar not ironed nicely? and blued in stripes? And the infallible
Pietro had laundered it! Even here, were there differences in method
and conception? And in this respect, too, was the Pieterse tradition
not the only one that brought happiness?

Femke was on nettles. She studied Ophelia, wondering who she was,
and tried to turn the conversation. At last something occurred to
her. It was necessary for her to run some errand or other, and "the
young gentleman" could "accompany" her a part of the way.

"As far as I'm concerned," said the mother.

The young couple retired, taking one of those ways which in the
neighborhood of Amsterdam are simply called "the ways." That is all
they are. Whoever walks there for pleasure must take a good stock of
impressions with him, in order to escape tedium.

But Walter and Femke were not lacking in this respect. Walter had
so much to tell Femke that he could scarcely hope to get through;
and she, too, had thought of him more than she was willing to admit,
and more than he had any idea of. She began by saying that she hadn't
told her mother of her unfriendly reception by Walter's mother and
sisters, because she didn't want her mother----

"Oh, Femke--and you thought I would come?"

"Yes." said Femke, hesitating, but still with a readiness that
delighted Walter. "Yes, of course I expected to see you again. And
I had a mass said for your recovery."

"Really?" said Walter, who hardly knew what it meant.  "You did that
for me?"

"Yes, and I prayed, too. I should have been sad if you had died. For
I believe you are a good boy."

"I ought to have come sooner; and I wanted to, but--Femke, I was

He related to her how he had been near her on Sunday. The girl
attributed his timidity to his diffidence toward her mother.

"My mother is a good woman. She wouldn't hurt anybody, but--you
understand. She doesn't mix with people much. I understand the
world better, because, you see, I was a nurse for three weeks. I was
only substituting; I was too young to be a real nurse. It was at a
relation's of ours, where the girl was sick. You know we really come
of a good family. But that makes no difference. Tell me, are you well
and strong again?"

Walter told her now all about his sickness, and soon he came
involuntarily to the thing that gave him most trouble, his defective

"All the children know French; but at our school it isn't taught. It's
impossible to be a great man without knowing French."

Walter had difficulty in explaining to her that he meant something
other than the possession of three houses, though that might not
be bad.

"I should like--you understand? I should like--yes--I should like--how
shall I explain?"

The sovereignty of Africa was on the end of his tongue; but he didn't
have the courage to put his dreams into words.

"You know, Femke, that we live here in Europe. Now, down there in the
south, far away--I will draw it for you. We can sit down here and I
will show you exactly what I mean."

He selected some small sticks suitable for making outlines on the
ground, then he and Femke sat down on a low pile of boards. He
proceeded to scratch up the sand for some distance around.

"That is Europe. The earth is round; that is, it consists of
two halves, like a doughnut. You see, it looks like a pair of
spectacles. With that half we are not concerned. That's America. You
can put your feet on it if you want to. Here is where we live; there
is England; and here is Africa. The people there are uncivilized. They
can't read, and they don't wear many clothes. But when a traveler
comes along they are very nice to him--the book says so. I'm going
down there and teach all the people to read and give them clothes and
see to it that there is no injustice done in the whole land. And then
we will----"

"I, too?" asked Femke in amazement.

"Why, certainly! I wanted to ask you if you were willing to go with
me. We will be man and wife, you understand; so when I get to be king
you will be----"

"I? Queen?"

She laughed. Involuntarily she rose and trampled to pieces all the
kingdoms that Walter had just laid at her feet.

"But--won't you be my wife?"

"Oh, you boy! How did you get such nonsense into your head? You are
still a child!"

"Will you wait then till I'm grown up? Will you let me be your friend?"

"Certainly! Only you mustn't think of that nonsense--not that you may
not go to Africa later. Why not? Many people go on journeys. Formerly
there lived a carpenter near us, and he went to the Haarlem with his
whole family. But--marrying!"

She laughed again. It pained Walter. The poor boy's first proposal
was turning out badly.

Suddenly Femke became serious.

"I know that you are a good boy; and I think a great deal of you."

"And I!" cried Walter. "Femke, I have thought of you all the time--when
I was sick--in my fever--I don't know what I thought of in my fever,
but I think it must have been you. And I talked to the picture I
painted for you as if it were you; and that picture answered like you
and looked like you. I was Kusco and Telasco, and you were Aztalpa,
the daughter of the sun. Tell me, Femke, may I be your friend?"

The girl reflected a moment; and in her pure, innocent heart
she felt the desire to do good. Was that seventeen-year-old girl
conscious of the influence that Walter's childish soul exerted upon
her? Scarcely. But she wanted to give him a less cruel answer.

"Certainly, certainly you shall be my friend. But--but----"

She was hunting for some excuse that would not hurt him, and still let
him see the difference in their ages. He had grown during his illness,
to be sure, but still--she could have carried him on her arm. And he
had dreamed of rescuing her from a fire!

"My friend, yes. But then you must do everything that I require."

"Everything, everything! Tell me quick what I can do for you."

It was painful for the girl. She didn't know what she should require;
but she was under the necessity of naming something. She had always
heard that it was good for children to study hard. What if she should
spur him on to do that?

"Listen, Walter. Just for fun I told my mother that you were the best
in school."

"I?" cried Walter abashed.

"Study hard and be the first in school inside the next three months,"
said Femke to the conqueror of continents, unaware of the sarcasm
that lay in her words. "Otherwise, you see, my mother might think
I had made fun of you; and I don't want that to happen. If you will
only do that----"

"I will do it, Femke!"

"Then you must go home and begin at once."

Thus she sent him away. As she told him "Good-bye" she noticed all
at once that he was too large for her to kiss. A few hours later,
when Father Jansen was calling on her mother and incidentally saw
Walter's painting, Walter suddenly became a child again. The priest
had said that in Dutch Ophelia meant Flora, who was the patron-saint
of roses and forget-me-nots.

"Oh, that picture is from a little boy, a very small boy. He's about
ten years old--or nine. He's certainly not older than nine!"

"Girl, you are foolish!" cried the mother. "The boy is fifteen."

"Yes, that may be--but I just meant that he's still only a child."

She stuck Ophelia away in some hidden nook, and Mrs. Claus and Father
Jansen never saw that new edition of the old flower-goddess again.

"Femke, I will do it!" Walter had said.

There was really reason to believe that he would learn faster now;
but Pennewip's instruction would wear Femke's colors. Walter knew
very well that in requiring this service she had had his own welfare
in view; but this showed her interest in him, and was not so bad. How
would it have looked, he thought, if, after all that had gone before,
he had answered: "Everything except that!"

Of course he would have greatly preferred to serve his lady on some
journey full of adventure. But one cannot select for one's self
heroic deeds. In these days Hercules and St. George would have to
put up with miniature dragons.

At all events, Walter took hold of his work in earnest. He studied his
"Ippel," his "Strabbe," his "National History" and even the "Gender
of Nouns," and everything else necessary to the education of a good
Netherlander. Poetry was included; and Walter's accomplishments along
this line were such that other "Herculeses" might have envied him.

He had never read the stories of tournaments. No enchantress gave
him a charmed coat of mail; no Minerva put the head of Medusa on
his shield--no, nothing of all that. But--Keesje, the butcher's boy,
might look sharp for his laurels!

In justice to Walter it must be said that he gave his opponent fair
warning, in true knightly style.

At the end of three months Walter was actually the first in his
classes. Pennewip was compelled to take notice of it.

"It is strange," he remarked. "I might say that it is remarkable. Yes,
in a way, it is unprecedented--without a parallel!"

At home the result was that a great council was held regarding Walter's
future. He didn't want to become a compositor; and to be a sailor--that
would have suited him, but his mother was opposed to it. Stoffel,
too, objected on the ground that usually only young people who are
worthless on land are sent to sea.

Thus Walter's plans for conquest were slipping away from him. He
was not attracted by the brilliant careers that were proposed: They
left Africa out of account. He didn't want to be a school-teacher,
or a shoemaker, or a clerk, or a counter-jumper.

However, after all authorities had been heard, Stoffel came
to the conclusion that Walter was peculiarly well fitted for
"business." Juffrouw Pieterse agreed with him thoroughly.


"A responsible business firm wants a young man (Dt. Ref.) of good
family. He must be moral, well-behaved and not under fifteen years
old. Prospect of salary if diligent and reliable. Good treatment
guaranteed. Address written applications in own handwriting to
'Business,' care E. Maaskamp's book and art store, Nieuwendyk,

The writer cannot recall what sort of art publications E. Maaskamp was
dealing in just at that time, and will not make any guesses, for fear
of getting the reader into chronological difficulties. If it should
become necessary in writing Walter's history, the writer would have
no compunctions of conscience in putting the republic after Louis,
or William I. before the republic.

And as for that "Dt. Ref."--Dutch Reform--in the advertisement--that
gives the writer no trouble. He knows very well that "Dt. Ref." as a
necessary qualification for servants, apprentices, etc., was introduced
after E. Maaskamp's pictures had been forgotten. Nevertheless, it
must be insisted upon that the aforesaid abbreviation was in the
advertisement which was now occupying the undivided attention of
the Pieterses.

"There couldn't be anything more fortunate," said the mother. "What
do you think, Stoffel?"

"Yes, mother, it couldn't be better."

"What pleases me especially is the 'well-behaved.'"

"Moral and well-behaved, mother."

"Yes, moral and well-behaved--do you hear, Walter? Just as I have
always said. And 'prospect of salary.' What do you think of that,

"Yes, mother; but--he must be 'diligent and reliable.'"

"Yes, Walter, you must be diligent and reliable. Haven't I always told
you that? And they require 'Dt. Ref.'; but you are that, thank God."

"Yes, mother, he's that all right."

"Stoffel, don't you think you'd better write the letter?"

"But it says 'in own handwriting.'"

"That's so! But if you write the letter in your own handwriting--that
will be better than for such a child to write it."

Stoffel had some difficulty in making it plain to his mother that
"own handwriting" meant Walter's own handwriting; but she finally
saw the point, and Walter was given a seat at the table.

"Well? What must I write at the top?"

"Now, have you forgotten that again? Such a simple thing? Have you
got down the date? Then write 'Gentlemen,' in business style. It says,
'responsible business firm.'"

"Yes," said the mother, "and add that your father had a business,
too. We sold shoes from Paris. Otherwise they will think we're only

"And write that you are the first in school."

"And that you belong to the Dutch Reform Church."

"And that you are moral and well-behaved."

"And that you are diligent and reliable. Don't you see, you may get
a salary then right away."

At last the letter was ready. It only remained to stamp it and post
it. But why couldn't the young applicant deliver the letter in person
and save the postage? Stoffel thought there would be no impropriety
in such a course. Even a responsible business firm ought to overlook
such a detail.

With a heavy heart Walter started out on his important errand. He was
entering the real world, and was about to become a worshiper of the
great god of "business." He was depressed by his lack of confidence,
and felt that it was unbecoming in himself to make application to a
"responsible business firm."

If he met a man that looked well-to-do, he would ask himself if
the gentleman was a "business man," and belonged to a "responsible
business firm." This last high-sounding expression embodied mysteries
which he did not attempt to understand. He would learn it all later.

Walter stammered an excuse to the young fellow in the shop for not
having sent his letter by post. The fellow didn't understand him, but
threw the letter carelessly into a box containing a few dozen others
that were awaiting the favorable consideration of Messrs. Motto,
Business & Co.

The fellow was busy with some Turkish battles in glaring colors,
and declined to enter into any conversation with our hero. Walter's
mouth watered for a bright picture of Grecian chivalry. But what good
did it do? He had no money; and, besides, he was out for business,
not for heroic deeds.

"Later!" he thought.

Arrived at home he received the usual scolding. His mother maintained
that he had certainly not entered the shop in a "respectable" manner;
otherwise the young gentleman would have given him a friendlier
reception. She was afraid that those excellent gentlemen, Motto,
Business & Co., would take this into consideration to his detriment.

"And you say there were already a whole lot of letters there? You
see, Stoffel--if he only isn't too late! That's the way--those people
would break their necks or be first. And who knows but what some of
them are Roman Catholics? I wonder if they all think they're moral
and well-behaved. You can just see what kind of people there are in
the world!"

Walter had to go back to Maaskamp's and get the address of the firm
in question. The idea was for him to call on the firm in person and
thus get ahead of everybody else. Juffrouw Pieterse wanted to bet her
ears that not a one of the other applicants could boast of a father
who had sold Parisian shoes.

"Tell them that! Your father never took a stitch in his life. He
didn't even know how to. It's only to prove that we had a business,
too. He never had an awl in his hand--isn't it so, Stoffel?"

Those eminently respectable gentlemen, Motto, Business & Co., lived--I
don't know where they lived; but they had founded on the Zeedyk a
cigar store and a circulating library. It was probably not far from
the place where six or eight centuries earlier a few fishermen had
founded the greatest commercial city of Europe.

Walter found one of those worthy gentlemen behind the counter. He was
in his shirt-sleeves, and was engaged in weighing out some snuff for
an old woman. "Business" was evidently being carried on.

As Walter had formed no conception of "responsible business firm,"
he was far from thinking that the gentlemen had claimed too much for
themselves. With his peculiar timidity he even reproached himself
for not having understood the conception "business" before.

Now he understood it. Business meant to stand behind a counter,
in shirt-sleeves, and weigh snuff. And, too, on the Zeedyk.

The cigar store occupied only half the width of the house, and was
connected with the circulating library by a side door. Motto, Business
& Co. were simultaneously cultivating two industries: those who didn't
care for snuff or tobacco could get something to read, and vice versa.

Over the shelves, on the tobacco side, were posted signs bearing the
assurance that something was "manufactured" here. Differing entirely
from the Pieterses, these gentlemen seemed to think that to make
a thing meant more than merely to sell it. We leave the question

Was it true that this business firm manufactured anything? The only
thing they manufactured was the paper bags that were to be pasted
together by the moral, well-behaved, diligent and reliable young man
who was a member of the Dutch Reform Church.

The amount of business done was small, the profits barely paying the
rent. The wicked world on the Zeedyk even said that the two blue
porcelain vases bearing in old-fashioned letters the inscriptions
"Rappee" and "Zinking," had been borrowed from a second-hand dealer
in the neighborhood, and that the good man came by every day to look
after his property.

The shop was small, and was closed off in the rear by a green curtain,
which was calculated to make customers think there was something more
beyond. To be exact, there was something beyond that curtain. There
hung a dilapidated mirror, consoling with a lonely chair, which was
now ornamented by the coat of the worthy senior partner; and leaning
against the wall was a half-round table, on which a pomatum-pot
was making fun of a comb because for years it had been expecting
to grow new teeth. Business was not so exacting but that Mr. Motto
could devote a little spare time to the improvement of his personal
beauty. He had succeeded in developing two beautiful bunches of hair
on the sides of his face. They cost him much pains and grease; but
they were the delight of all the ladies who entered the shop.

"And so you want to go into business, do you?" asked Mr. Motto,
after he had given the old woman a "pinch" from the jar. "What all
have you studied? Reading, writing, arithmetic, French? Eh? And what
are your parents."

"They dealt in shoes--from Paris, M'neer. But I don't know
French. Arithmetic--yes. Went through Strabbe."

"And you know arithmetic, do you? How much then is a Pietje and
a half?"

Walter stammered that he didn't know. Does the reader know?

"But you must know that if you expect to calculate. And you don't know
what a Pietje is? Do you know the difference between a sesthalf and
a shilling? And between a dollar and a twenty-eight piece? Look----"

Mr. Motto pulled out the cash-drawer and seemed to be hunting for a
dollar; but for some reason or other he decided to make out with a
sesthalf. This he laid on the counter and asked Walter to imagine a
shilling lying beside it. He then proceeded to test Walter's knowledge
of business by asking him to point out the differences between the
two coins. Mr. Motto claimed that in business one must know these
details thoroughly.

And Mr. Motto was right about it. At that time there were more
different kinds of money in the Netherlands than there are in Germany
now. To be able to distinguish the various coins readily and make
change accurately a regular course of study was necessary. Just
as a law was about to be passed to confer the title, "Doctor of
Numismatics," on examination, the secretary of the treasury discovered
that all this trouble could be spared by simplifying the money. He
became very unpopular after this.

In Walter's time, though, such a reform had not been thought of. The
florin had twenty stivers; the regular Holland dollar had fifty
stivers, the Zeeland dollar had forty-two. The dollar was worth a
florin and a half, and the gold florin was called a "twenty-eight,"
because it contained twenty-eight stivers. The coins were well-worn and
seldom exhibited any traces of inscriptions, milling, etc. Matters were
further complicated by three-florin pieces and ducats of sixty-three
stivers, not to mention any other coins.

For Walter the money question was a serious one.

"And you don't know French, either?" in a tone that was scarcely

"No----" mournfully.

"And would your parents put up cash security for you?"

Walter didn't understand the question.

"Caution. Don't you understand? Security! There's lots of money
handled, and I must know who I'm turning the shop over to. And--do
you know Danish?"

Mr. Motto did not always speak grammatically.


"What! Nor Danish, either? But Danish sailors come in here to buy
tobacco, and then you need to speak Danish. In a business like this
here you must know all languages. That's the main thing--otherwise
your cake's dough! I've even had Greeks to come in here."

Walter's heart gave a jump. What heroic deeds might they not do on
such occasions!

"Yes, Greeks; but they were drunk and wanted a smoke for nothing. We
don't do it that way. The main thing is to look out for the
little things. Otherwise your cake's dough, you understand. Yes,
in business you must know all languages, otherwise you can't talk
to the customers. That's the main thing. But that will be all right
if your parents can deposit a caution. Sometimes there are at least
ten florins in the cash-drawer, you know; and in business a man must
have security. That's the main thing. Otherwise your cake's dough;
you can see that for yourself."

"My father is dead," said Walter, as if that fact rendered the cash
security unnecessary. He didn't know anything else to say.

"That so? Dead! Yes, it often happens. Dead? All right! But haven't
you a mother who can pay for you?"

"I--will--ask--her," Walter stammered.

"Certainly. Ask her right away; for you know in business things
are done in a hurry. Said, done! That's the main thing. Otherwise
your cake's dough. Here is another shop, and you will have work to
do in there, too--if your mother can put up the money. That's the
main thing."

Mr. Motto conducted Walter into the circulating library. On three sides
of the room were bookcases reaching to the rather low ceiling. For the
rest, the place was provided with a ladder to be used in gathering
such fruits of literature as hung out of reach. And then there was
a big, thick book, in which the diligent and reliable young man of
Protestant faith was to enroll the names of the people who paid a
dubbeltje a week for a book. It's cheaper now.

"You see," said Mr. Motto, "that is the book, so to say the great
book. You understand bookkeeping, don't you?"

Unfortunately Walter had to admit that he had not yet studied that

"Nor bookkeeping, either? Boy! that's the main thing in business. If
a man can't do that his cake's dough. It's very simple. You write down
who takes out a book, with the day and date and street and number. And
when they bring the book back you drawn a line through it; and you've
got a pretty kettle of fish if you don't do it. When you don't know
the people you must----"

"Ask for a deposit!" cried Walter quickly, rejoiced that he knew
something. It's doubtful if he knew what he was to draw the line

"Yes, a deposit. A florin a week for a volume. Then, you understand,
when a volume's gone, the cake's dough with that volume. Later I will
explain to you everything about the cigars and tobacco; but first
I must know whether your mother--ask her right away! And now I've
explained everything to you at least half a dozen times. For there's
no lack of boys that want to go into business; but when it comes to
Moses and the Prophets--then they set the bow-sails. And that's the
main thing. Otherwise you look a little delicate, but I must know
first if your mother can deposit a caution. Adieu!"

Walter went home in a peculiar frame of mind. At first the family
did not think favorably of that "cash security." Stoffel, however,
had often heard of such things, and negotiations were opened with
the said firm. It was finally agreed that a deposit of one hundred
florins should be made, for which the firm agreed to pay 3 1/2%
interest. Juffrouw Pieterse was not quite satisfied with this, as
she was accustomed to getting 4%; but "one must do something for
one's children."

Stoffel, who represented the Pieterses in these negotiations, was
surprised that he never got to see more than the first half of
the firm--or, better, the first third. He even took the liberty
of remarking on the peculiar circumstance, when he learned that
the "Co." was merely ornamental, while "Business" existed only in
Mr. Motto's imagination. In fact that handsome and worthy gentleman
alone constituted the "responsible business firm," and like an Atlas
carried on his broad shoulders all the responsibilities incident to
such a complicated and extensive undertaking. It was quite natural
that he should desire to put a part of the burden on the back of some
diligent, reliable Protestant boy, who could furnish cash security. For
that was "the main thing."

On the library side Walter developed a diligence against which only
one thing could be urged: it was prejudicial to the tobacco industry
adjoining. If he had smoked as much as he read, he would have made
himself sick; and even his reading wasn't the best thing in the world
for his health.

He devoured everything indiscriminately--whether ripe or green. Most
of that literary fruit was green. In a short time he was able to
foretell the fate of the hero with a certainty that would have piqued
the author. The cleverest literary craftsman couldn't let the poor
orphan boy be as poor as a church mouse for ten pages, but that
Walter would see the flashing of the stars and knightly crucifixes
with which he was to be decked out on the last page. One might think
this would cause him to lose interest in the book; but, no! He was
constant to the end--to the official triumph. For him it would have
been a sin to call to the Saxons and Normans a second too soon:
"See if Ivanhoe isn't going to smash that big-mouthed Sir Brian de
Bois-Guilbert!" And all the time he felt as if he were--Ivanhoe? No,
as if he were the deity, who must give the hero strength to overcome
that infamous scoundrel, Brian de Bois-Guilbert.

Then all at once the door-bell would ring, and the magnanimous Walter
would have to occupy himself with things less chivalrous.

The only thing he could do in such moments was to weigh accurately,
and not give anybody a cigar from the "tens" instead of from
the "eights." Such conscienciousness, however, was futile, for
in the cigar-boxes were cigars that ought to have been called
"twenties." Mr. Motto said that the customers were usually drunk,
and that it was all right to give them cabbage leaves to smoke. "You
must size up your customer. That's the main thing."

This was something Walter never could learn. With him, ten was ten,
eight eight--no matter who the customer was. To take an unfair
advantage, or tell a lie never occurred to him. From fear or
embarrassment he might possibly tell an untruth; but if he had been
asked a second time----

As strange as it may seem, this aversion to lying and deception
was nourished by the books he read. The brave knight fought till he
was victorious, or dead. Only the fatally wounded surrendered. All
this had Walter's hearty endorsement: He would not have acted
differently. The beautiful heroine was loved by everybody; and the
rejected suitors died of despair, or joined some desperate band. All
quite proper. The good remained steadfast, in spite of the Devil and
all his machinations--yes, in spite of tedium. Once selected by the
author to be a high-toned, moral hero--then spotless garments! Walter
wondered if such a one could have a pain in the stomach, or suffer
other inconvenience. Certainly not in books!

He did not know that such perfection was humbug. He was satisfied
when the characters in such novels did what was required of them by
the author. The villains were always betraying somebody; the heroes
killed everything that got in their way; and the beautiful virgins
charmed everybody. Even God, the God of romance, did his duty much
better than--but that's another detail.

Yesterday on the Zeedyk a big boy had beaten a little fellow. That
ought to happen in a book. How all the knights would have come
running! Walter, too, was going to--but how could he help it if his
employer called him back? "What in the devil have you got to do with
that? Your work is here in the store. You attend to your own business
now, and don't mix yourself in other people's brawls. That's the
main thing!"

As a rule of conduct, this was not just what Walter was used to in
his novels.

Despite such interruptions he continued his reading. He was almost
ready to begin on the last section of books, when he came to the
store one morning and found everything locked up and under seal.

The worthy Mr. Motto, it seems, had gone to America, as a sailor;
and doubtless that was the "main thing." The unfortunate owner of the
two snuff-vases had a big law suit over them. The point was whether
they were a part of the assets, or not.

On the Zeedyk at Amsterdam such processes must be tried according
to Roman law; but as the Romans did not use snuff there is nothing
said about "Rappee" in the Roman laws. The writer doesn't know how
the matter finally turned out. It is to be hoped that everybody got
what was coming to him.

Juffrouw Pieterse, however, did not recover her hundred florins; and,
as usual, she groaned: "There's always trouble with this boy."

Walter couldn't help her. He had his own troubles: he had been cruelly
interrupted in his reading. Of course the mysterious parentage of
the young robber was perfectly clear to him; but still one likes to
see whether one has guessed correctly, or not.


"Do you think stivers grow on my back?" asked the mother the next
day. "You still don't earn a doit! Do you have to buy tobacco for
old soldiers?"

Walter had nothing to say. Recently his mother had given him a shilling
to give to Holsma's maid. Walter neglected to do this, and spent one
stiver of the money on snuff for an old soldier.

The mother continued her tirade, making use of the word "prodigue,"

"No, mother," said Stoffel, "that isn't it. He's behind in
everything. He doesn't know yet how to handle money, that's it!"

"Yes. He doesn't know how to handle money! All the other children at
his age--when they have a stiver they either save it or buy themselves
something. And he--what does he do? He goes and gives it away! Boy,
boy, will you never learn any sense?"

Walter was cut to the quick by the accusation of wastefulness and
prodigality. In his eyes a prodigal was somebody, a man! "Prodigue,
prodigue," he murmured. He knew the word.

In one of the bedrooms hung a series of crude, highly colored pictures
illustrating the story of the prodigal son. The pictures were French;
and a study of the titles convinced the family that "prodigue" could
mean nothing but prodigal in the worst sense, i. e., "lost." Stoffel
had maintained this proposition against one of his colleagues, till
that one drew a lexicon on him.

After much argument it was decided to compromise on the "mistake"
in the French Bible by allowing "prodigue" to have sometimes the
meaning of "extravagant." Those pictures had afforded Walter much
food for thought.

First picture: The "lost" or prodigal son tells his father
good-bye. The old gentleman wears a purple coat. Very pretty--but the
prodigal himself! A mantle floated about his shoulders--it seemed to
be windy in the colonnade. It was princely; and his turkish trousers
were of pure gold. At his side was a bent sabre, and on his head a
turban, with a stone in it--certainly onyx, or sardonox, or a pearl,
or a precious stone--or whatever it might be!

The old gentleman seemed to be out of humor; but no wonder--all those
loaded camels, and the slaves, and all the accessories for that long,
long journey! A negro, as black as pitch, was holding a horse by
the rein. Another negro was holding the stirrup, and seemed to say:
"Off to the Devil; prodigal, get on!"

What boy wouldn't have been a prodigal son? The bent sabre alone was
worth the sin.

Second picture: Hm--hm. Wicked, wicked! Why, certainly; but not for
Walter, who in his innocence attached no importance to the extravagant
dresses of the "Juffrouwen." It was sufficient that all were eating
and drinking bountifully, and that they were in good spirits and
enjoying themselves. How prettily one of the girls, in glossy silk,
was leaning over the shoulder of the "lost" one! How much nicer to be
lost than found!--anyway, that was the impression the feast made on
Walter. The true purpose of the picture--to deter people from a life of
dissoluteness--escaped Walter entirely. Perhaps he knew what it meant;
but in his heart he felt that it meant something else. What attracted
him most was not the food and drink, under which the table "groaned,"
nor the sinful sensuality painted on the faces of the ladies. It was
the freedom and unconventionality of the company that charmed him. In
order to emphasize the idea of prodigality, the painter had allowed
some big dogs to upset an open cask of wine.

The wine was streaming, and straying away as if it were the lost
sinner. This pleased Walter immensely. None of the guests seemed to
notice such a small trifle, not even the waiters. This ought to have
happened just once in the Pieterse home--and even if it were only a
stein of beer!

The artist says to himself, Do you suppose I didn't foresee the
seductive influence of such a picture? The next one makes it all right!

Well, maybe so.

Third picture: Magnificent. How romantic this wilderness! Oh, to
sit there on that boulder and stare into the immeasurable depths of
the universe--alone!

To think, think, think!

No schoolmaster, no mother, brother, or anyone to say what he
must do with his heart, with his time, with his elbows, or with his
breeches! That's the way Walter saw it. The young man there didn't even
have on breeches; and he looked as if he wouldn't have been ashamed
to stretch himself out on his back, with his arms over his head, and
watch with wide-open eyes the passing of the moon and stars. Walter
asked himself what he would think of when he had founded such an
empire of solitude.

Hm! Femke could sit on the boulder with him. Prodigal son--oh,
sin divine with her! He was surprised that in the whole Bible there
was only one prodigal son. Of all sins this seemed to him the most

And the desert was so--endurable. There were trees in it, which one
could climb, when one really got lost, or use to build a nice little
cabin--for Femke, of course.

The prodigal in the picture didn't seem to have thought of all
that. Why wasn't the Juffrouw in green silk with him? She will come
soon, Walter said to himself. Perhaps she's not quite through with
her prodigality. If she would only hurry up and come! He longs for
her. But that is the only annoyance that a genuine prodigal takes
with him from the profane world into that capital wilderness.

It must be remarked in passing, however, that the hogs with which
that picture was equipped looked ugly. The pious artist had made them
shield-bearers of sin, and had supplied their physiognomies with all
kinds of horrible features. And, too, the trough looked dirty.

If it happens to me, said Walter, I'll take sheep with me; and Femke
can card the wool.

The artist ought to admit that even this third picture is inadequate
to inspire a proper disgust for prodigality.

And the fourth one? No better.

The old gentleman is excessively friendly. We are again in the
colonnade, where the camels have just waited so patiently. One of the
slaves clasps his hands and looks toward heaven--because he's glad,
of course, that little Walter has come back.

He? The real Walter? Returned home, and friendly received in his high
rank of a "has-been" and "recovered" prodigal? Oh, no!

And that fatted calf! In direct opposition to the custom that was
familiar to Walter! It worried the boy. Juffrouw Pieterse never
slaughtered anything. She ran a weekly account with Keesje's father;
and even a roast was a rarity.

There was no prospect of a fatted calf, whether he became a prodigal
or not. But that didn't keep the rank of a prodigal from being higher
than that of a stupid boy who didn't know how to handle money.

He was encouraged to think that he was indebted to his friendly
enemy, Juffrouw Laps, for something. She always cited the Bible,
and spoke continually of feeding swine. Walter wanted to answer:
"That's very nice, Juffrouw Laps, but can't it be sheep this time?"

He knew very well that she had never had any passion for carding,
and consequently was not interested in that blue muffler, which would
be so becoming to Femke's favorite sheep.

But she assured him that he was a prodigal; and that was enough.

"That's what I've always said!" replied Juffrouw Pieterse. "What
does he do but squander his mother's money? If that man wants snuff,
let him buy it. The king pays him. I have to work too hard for my
money. Don't I, Stoffel?"

"Yes, mother; but it's only childishness in Walter!"

"Childishness! That's what I call it."

"No it isn't!" cried the pious Laps. "He's on the straight road to
the trough of Luke 15. He will eat husks! Do you think the Master
doesn't carry out his parables? Just send him to me. The pastors are
to blame for it. They don't explain the Bible. Send him to me."

"If I only knew how he gets such things into his head!"

"You don't know? It's arrogance!"

She spoke the truth.

"Arrogance, Arrogance pure and simple--just as it was in Belshazzar,
or Sennacherib, or Nebuchadnezzar."

How thankful Walter was! If at this moment he had had a letter to
write--preferably to Femke--he would have boasted of being as wicked
as three old kings put together.

"Arrogance!" repeated Juffrouw Laps. "Gold on top, iron in the middle,
and feet of clay. The Master will overthrow him. Send him to me."

This invitation to turn over the royal villain to her for religious
instruction was repeated so often that it was necessary to give her
an answer.

"But, dear Juffrouw, the boy don't want to. He's stubborn; and what
can one do with such a child?"

Walter knew that his mother was not quite truthful; but, after his
former experience with his friendly enemy, he found it desirable to
keep quiet. When pressed, however, for an explanation he said:

"The man wanted snuff, and nobody would give him any; so I----"

Juffrouw Laps knew enough. Walter was as good as her prisoner: she
now knew exactly how to take his fortifications, if they could be
taken at all.

"If he doesn't want to come to me, don't compel him," she said sweetly
on leaving. "To force him won't do any good. Let him exercise his own
pleasure. I'm afraid you pick at the child too much, anyway. What an
awful fuss we've made over a stiver!"

"That's what I say, too," replied the mother. "It looks as if we
begrudged him the money! We could have spared another stiver, and we
wouldn't have missed it, would we, Stoffel?"

"Yes, mother, but it's time for Walter----"

"Goodness, what a hullaballoo to raise about a few pinches of
snuff! The Master will repay it seven times seventy times. Whatever
ye have done to the least of my brothers----"

With this consoling passage on her lips she took her leave of the
astonished family.

Yes, it wasn't so easy to see through Juffrouw Laps!


In his efforts to reconcile the various conflicting authorities
contesting for supremacy in his soul, Walter threw himself into a
severe spell of blues. He was not conscious of the contrast between
the world of his high-flown fancy and the earthy environment of his
home-life. The sympathetic care which he should have received after
his illness had not fallen to his lot.

He felt dejected.

"Femke!" he thought; and he longed for her fresh healthy face,
for her pure, unselfish glance, for her friendly smile. The Fancy
that had led him away to the stars in search of his misty sister had
got lodged on that girl of the Amsterdam lowlands, Femke--with her
unpoetical length, breadth, thickness, and weight.

"I am going to see her," he cried. "I will! And if Mrs. Claus asks
me about worms a dozen times, it's all the same to me; I am going to
see her!"

Walter reached the house and knocked. "Come in!" someone called. This
was a little sudden, for it took some time to get hold of the
latch. But Walter did it. Perhaps he was thinking of Missolonghi.

The Turks that he saw now were not revolting in appearance. They were
unarmed and did not murder a single baby.

But--Femke was not in the party.

Mrs. Claus was at the wash-tub, while Father Jansen was quietly

"Is that you, young man? Very nice! That's the young man who gave
Femke the picture, you remember, father?"

The father nodded to him kindly and smoked away, without manifesting
any special Godliness.

"Yes, Juffrouw, I wanted to----"

"Very nice of you! Won't you have a slice of bread and butter? And how
is your mother? Is she better now? She was sick, wasn't she? That's
a good boy, father. Femke said so. Is your mother better again? It
was fever, wasn't it? or apoplexy--or what was it then?"

"Oh, no! Juffrouw."

"You mustn't call me Juffrouw. I am only a wash-woman. Everyone must
stay in his own class, mustn't he, father? Well, it's all the better;
I thought she had been sick. It must have been somebody else. One
has so much to think of. Do you like cheese?"

The good woman prepared a slice of bread and butter, with cheese. If
Trudie could have seen it, she would have fainted. In the "citizen's
class," such and such a sub-class, according to Pennewip, is found
a certain scantiness that does not obtain in the common laboring
class. In the matter of eating, laborers, who do not invest their
money in Geneva, are not troubled so much by "good form" as people
who give their children French names.

Walter had never seen such a slice of bread. He didn't know whether he
ought to bite through the width, or the thickness. The bit of cheese
gave him his cue.

He liked Mrs. Claus much better this time. And Father Jansen, too;
even if he wasn't like Walter had imagined him to be.

He had never conceived a preacher as being anything else but a very
supernatural and spiritual and celestial sort of person. Father Jansen
didn't seem to be that kind of a man at all.

He visited the sheep of his fold, especially the plain people, not
to make a display of beneficence--for he had nothing, but because he
was happiest among simple people. He was fond of bread and butter of
the Mrs. Claus variety. For the rest, he said mass, preached about
sin, catechised, confirmed, absolved, and did whatever needed to be
done. He performed the functions of his office, and did not think
it at all strange that he should have gone into the church, while
his brother in Nordbrabant succeeded to the business of his father,
who was a farrier and inn-keeper.

"And what are you going to be?" he asked Walter; "for everybody in the
world must be something. Wouldn't you like to be a bookbinder? That's
a good trade."

"I was--I was in business, M'neer; and I'm going back to business."

"That's good, my boy. You may get rich. Especially here in Amsterdam;
for Amsterdam is a commercial city."

Walter wanted to add: "The greatest commercial city of Europe." But
he was abashed by the--worldliness of Father Jansen's talk. He didn't
find it disagreeable: he was merely surprised at it.

"A boy like you ought to eat a lot. You look pale. My brother can bend
a horseshoe. What do you say to that? Have you ever eaten our Brabant
bread? Ham isn't bad, either. A person that doesn't eat enough gets
weak. I always eat two slices of bread and butter whenever I'm here
at Mrs. Claus's; but I'm not nearly so strong as my brother. You
ought to see the Vucht fair. That's a great time."

Walter was more than surprised to hear such talk from a preacher: he
was almost pleased. He had never received such charming messages from
heaven. Of course they came from heaven, those friendly words uttered
in Brabant dialect between the puffs of Father Jansen's pipe. This
man in a priest's coat chattered away as if there were no such thing
in the world as God, Grace, and Hell--especially the latter. He was
as happy as a child in telling about the strength of his brother,
the horseshoer. It was his business to lead the world to eternal
happiness; and he liked thick slices of bread and butter with cheese.

Walter had never had religious things opened up to him so
delightfully. He felt encouraged to speak:

"M'neer, I would like to know who God is!"

Father Jansen started, and looked at Walter as if he hadn't clearly
understood the question.

"Yes--that's very praiseworthy in you. You must----"

"But, father," cried Mrs. Claus, "the child isn't in the church! Are
you?"--to Walter.

"Yes, Juffrouw, I have been confirmed."

"To be sure, to be sure, but----"

"On the Noordermarkt!"

"Well, you see he's in the church all right."

The good woman didn't have the heart--or else she had too much
heart--to tell the father that it wasn't the right church.

"Whoever wants to get acquainted with God," said Father Jansen,
"must study diligently."

"To be sure," said Mrs. Claus, "the articles of faith. You ought to
hear my Femke repeat them. It's a pleasure, isn't it, father? She's
my only child, but--she's a girl worth having!"

"Yes, Femke is an excellent girl. I don't have any trouble with her."

The father spoke in a business-like manner; and he meant it that
way. The spots on Femke's soul were easily removed. He praised Femke
as a cook would praise a kitchen-pot.

Father Jansen had still more praise for Femke: she had patched his
drawers so nicely.

Oh, Fancy!

The mention of this fact did not touch Walter's æsthetic feelings. With
him there were other considerations. Fancy was used to seeing
everything nude--fathers, humanity--so there was no difficulty here.

Walter was sixteen years old, already a little man--why must Femke
patch drawers for this father!

"Yes," said the mother. "Femke is clever at patching. If you've got
anything else that needs mending, just send it over."

Walter was warm. If it had been collars, socks, waistcoats, or--well,
if it had to be something questionable--if it had only been trousers!

"Just send it over, and if Femke isn't here----"

"Where is she going to be?" thought Walter.

"Then I will attend to it myself. I can do it neatly."

Thank God! Dear, good, magnificent Mrs. Claus! Do it, do it yourself,
and leave Femke where she is.

But--where was she?

Thus Walter's thoughts; but what did he say?--the hypocrite, the
budding man.

"Yes, indeed, Mrs. Claus, I had almost forgotten to ask where your
daughter Femke is."

"Femke? She's at my niece's, where the girl is sick. You know we're
of good family. Femke is looking after my niece's children."

Walter didn't have the courage to ask where this niece lived, so he
assumed a look of contentment.

After much waiting and twisting and turning on his chair, Walter
finally left the house with Father Jansen. He had not yet learned
how to end a visit: some people never learn it.

"Don't you want to do me a favor?" said the good man. "Then walk on
my right side. I'm deaf here"--pointing to his left ear.

"I will tell you how it happened. When I was a little boy--are you
a good climber?"

"No, M'neer!"

"Well, I am! In the whole of Vucht there wasn't a boy who could
climb as well as I could. Do you know what I did once? I climbed up
and slipped a flower-pot from a third-story window. And--my priest
wasn't in a good humor at all! He didn't want to accept me till I had
returned that flower-pot; and then I had to go and beg the old woman's
pardon. And she herself went to the priest to intercede for me. Then
he accepted me. But I got twenty 'confiteors'--oh, he was severe!

"But I was going to tell you why I'm deaf in the left ear.

"In one of the seminaries was a student--he's a canonicus in the Rhine
country, and will get to be a cardinal, perhaps pope, for--he was
very sly! I will tell you, his name was--Rake; but, you understand,
his name was really something else. This Rake was a mean rascal; but he
was never punished, because he was careful. See if he doesn't get to be
a cardinal, or pope! You ought to hear him quote from the Vulgate. He
could rattle away for three hours and never made a mistake." * * *

"Are you perfectly crazy, boy, or what is the matter with you? Walking
with a priest! What in the name of the Lord are you thinking about? Go
in the house--quick! Jesu, what troubles I have with that child!"

With these words Juffrouw Pieterse broke off Walter's acquaintance
with Father Jansen for this time.

The way that the father and Walter had taken led them directly by
Walter's home. Juffrouw Pieterse, who was haggling with a Jew over the
price of a basket of potatoes, narrowly escaped a stroke of apoplexy
when she saw them together.

"With a priest!--Stoffel! Come down quick--that boy is walking with
a priest!"

Tears rose in Walter's eyes. He had found Father Jansen a good man,
and was grieved that that gentleman should meet with such a reception.

It is to be hoped that those rude words were received by his left
ear. In fact, this seemed to be the case, for when Walter said that
he was at home now and that his mother was calling him, Father Jansen
answered kindly:

"So? You live there? Then I will tell you the next time why I am so
deaf in my left ear--entirely deaf, you understand!"

Thank God, Walter thought, and wiped away his tears. In his eyes his
mother had committed a sin so grave that about fifty "confiteors"
would be necessary for its expiation.

"Oh, yes. I was going to tell you----"

With these words Father Jansen turned around again. He continued:
"The flower-pot of the old lady, Juffrouw Dungelaar, you know--it
wasn't for the flowers, you understand, nor for the pot, but only
because I could climb so well. Otherwise--one mustn't take anything
away, even if it is so high up. Adieu, young man!"

After giving Juffrouw Pieterse a friendly greeting that she did not
deserve, the man continued on his way.

Stoffel said that to walk with a priest was "simply preposterous."

"As if he were crazy!" said Juffrouw Pieterse.

"Yes," agreed Stoffel, "but it's because he has nothing to do but
loaf around. If that keeps up, he will never amount to anything."

True, Walter was loafing around; but he was not idle. His activities
brought nothing palpable to light, still he was building up the inner
life in a manner of which Stoffel had no idea.

"Of course!" said the mother. "He must have work. If he were only
willing to be a compositor! or an apprentice in the shoe-business. To
make shoes--that he shall never do."

"This running with priests comes only from idleness, mother. Do I
run with priests? Never. Why not? Because I have to go to my school
every day!"

"Yes, Stoffel, you go to your school every day."

"Besides, there are good priests. There was Luther, for instance. He
was a sort of priest. What did he do?"

"Yes, I know. He reformed the people."

"He made them Lutherans, mother; but that's almost the same thing. One
mustn't be narrow-minded."

"That's what I say, Stoffel, people ought not to be so
narrow-minded. What difference does it make what a person's religion
is, just so he's upright, and not a Roman Catholic!"

When Walter told Father Jansen that he "was in business," and that
he was "going back to business," he spoke better than he himself
knew. He did go back to business.

Through a leather-dealer, who, speaking commercially, was in close
touch with shoes that came from Paris, Walter got a position with a
firm whose "responsibility" was somewhat less apocryphal than that of
Messrs. Motto, Business & Co. He was to begin his new apprenticeship
in the offices of Messrs. Ouwetyd & Kopperlith, a firm of world-wide

However, before he was to enter upon his new duties, all sorts of
things were destined to happen, with the tendency to make Walter
appear as a "hero of romance," which he wasn't at all.


It was Thursday. Stoffel came home with the important news that the
king--I don't know what king--had arrived in the city unexpectedly
and would visit the theatre that evening. Everything and everybody
was in a commotion; for in republican countries much importance is
given to pomp and title.

This time curiosity was more wrought up than usual. Many foreign
princes, including an emperor, were visiting the king; and these
distinguished personages would follow the court to Amsterdam, coming
from The Hague, Utrecht and Haarlem. To put it tamely, it was to be
a great occasion.

That republican populace was to get to see the countenance and
coat-tails not only of their tyrant, but also the countenances and
coat-tails of many other tyrants, not to mention female tyrants.

The old doughnut women on the "Dam," which the city rented to them as
a market-place, were threatening to bring suit against the city. They
felt that it was hard to have to pay rent for the fresh air, day after
day, with the prospect of selling a few doughnuts to the youth of
the street, and now be run out because his majesty wanted to exhibit
himself to the people from the balcony of the old City Hall.

Why shouldn't the old women be seen at their accustomed places? Must
the doughnut industry be carried on secretly? Was it for fear of
imitations and unprincely competition? Or was it to keep the old
women from seeing the king?

At any rate, the whole kit of them had to leave. At most, they could
only mix with the crowd incognito, and afterwards might join in
the prearranged "Long live the King!" or somebody else, as the case
might be.

It is really remarkable that princes die. Seemingly the "vivats"
are of no avail.

The crowd was especially large, on account of the many majesties and
highnesses who had gathered about the tyrant.

Among the number was the Prince of Caramania, who had especial claims
upon the sympathy of the people, so all the newspapers said. One of
his ancestors had been a captain in the service of the state and had,
therefore, spilt his blood for the freedom of the Netherlands.

This blood, and perhaps the freedom as well, was newspaper
arabesque. It was certain, however, that the prince wore a green
coat with gold frogs; and upon his head he had a big plume. It was,
therefore, quite proper for the crowd to cry occasionally "Long live
the Prince of Caramania!"

Among the eminent gentlemen was a certain duke, who, by reason of his
virtues, had got himself banished from his country. The man was thrifty
and economical, though without neglecting himself. Nevertheless,
the rabble had dethroned him and sent him across the border with a
bushel of diamonds. Of these diamonds he was now to display a few
dozen in the shape of coat-buttons and the like. The newspapers gave
the crowd their cue accordingly. They were to cry: "Long live the
Duke with his diamonds!"

Princess Erika was the niece of the king, and was to marry the
crown-prince of a great empire, which was indebted to the Netherlands
for its prominence. The newspapers gave the assurance that this empire
would pay off the national debt of the Netherlands if the people
would only put enough enthusiasm into a "Long live Princess Erika!"

The old Countess-palatine of Aetolia was descended directly from
a certain knight who treated his hostlers like princes. In this
case it was not inappropriate for a republican populace to ask for
a prolongation of her ladyship's life. The cry was: "Long live the
Countess-palatine of Aetolia!"

The Grand-duke of Ysland was the handsome grandson of a shopman. His
merits would fill three columns of fine print. The man was a master
of the type-case himself, and by exerting himself could even set up
his own name. The newspapers said that having safely passed an ocean
of pitfalls, he had now perfected himself as the brother-in-law of
a demi-god. Therefore, whoever had the interest of his country at
heart could not afford to fail to bellow at the top of his voice:
"Long live the Grand-duke of Ysland!"

There were still more potentates and ladies of quality who had honored
Amsterdam with a visit. They had heard that the city was la Vénise
du Nord, that it was tres interessant, tres interessant! etc.

And the Holland herrings! Délicieux! Unfortunately the Netherlanders
didn't know how to cook them; they must be baked.

And the Holland school of painting! Rambrànn--magnifique!

There were still other good things in Holland, as their highnesses
testified with patronizing kindness.

"Il parait qu'un certain Wondèle a écrit des choses, des choses--mais
des choses--passablement bien!"

And the dikes! And the Katwyk sluice--gigantesque!

Whatever spare time they might have after making cheese and cooking
herrings, the Holland people liked to devote to fighting the
elements. After skating and racing this was the favorite recreation
of the nation.

I can assure the reader that the aristocratic party took their
departure thoroughly satisfied with our country. The only person who
received quite a different impression--but I will not anticipate the
feelings of our hero. Even a writer has his duties.

The first evening everything was to be illuminated. Two hundred
and fifty thousand candles were to proclaim the enthusiasm of the
people. Two hundred and fifty thousand fiery tongues were to cry:
"Hosanna! Blessed be he who comes in the name of----" In whose
name? Hosanna for whom? For what?

Well, that was a matter of indifference to the people. They knew
that there was something doing, that there was a crowd, and that
was enough. People are somewhat like children, who amuse themselves
immensely in the confusion of a "moving," of a death, or of anything
that causes commotion and excitement.

Walter had got permission to see the illumination. Unconsciously
he assumed that stupid expression which is obligatory on such
occasions. He listened to the conversation of those about him.

"That's what I call illuminating! Nine candles for such a big house!"

"Twelve!" cried another.

"No, nine."



"Three--three--three--and three. Look there are twelve, or I can't

"No, the three above don't count. That story is rented. I know it."

"Well--if you mean it that way. I only said that four times three
are twelve. What do you say, Hannes?"

Hannes found the calculation correct.

"How long will the candles burn?"

"Till about one o'clock, I suppose."

"I don't believe it!"

"Well, I do!"

"But I don't!----"

"Have you been in the Sukkelgracht?"

"Oh, it isn't pretty there."

"You think so? Prettier than here."

"Oh, no!"

"Yes, it is!----"

"Look there; there's a verse."

"Yes, a verse. Can you read it?"

"Certainly! Let me see, what is it?"

"I can read it, too."

"It's about 'illustrious blood'----"

"Yes, and 'our country,' and 'dedicated to honor and virtue.'"

"And 'his illustrious blood'----"

"No, there it stands--'torn from the barbarians'----"

"That comes later. 'Illustrious blood'----"

"Of Holland's hero----"

"Welcome, hero!"

"I wonder if the king looks at the candles. Do you suppose he reads
such verses and copies them?"

"Oh, he has his ministers for that."

"Or generals. He has seen or read about lots of nice things."

"As nice as here?"

"Why, of course!"

"I don't believe it."

"Well, I do."

"Do you know what I think? He likes to look at the lights too."

"You think so?"


"No, you don't believe that."

"Don't crowd so!"

"I can't help it. They're crowding me."

"The people are pushing and shoving as if they were crazy."

"Did you ever see the like? You know what I think? Kalver Street
ought to be as wide again as it is."

"Yes, as wide again. The street's too narrow."

"That's why everybody's scroudging so."

There was much truth in this. Pressure was high. People were mashed
and squeezed together. Those who, by reason of a lack of avoirdupois,
were less firmly attached to the ground, were lifted bodily. Walter
hung suspended in mid-air and looked over the heads of men much taller
than he.

"Are you walking on stilts?" asked a big fat woman, whose hips had
come into collision with Walter's knees. "Well, that's something."

The pressure was increasing. It seemed that the fat woman would soon
have Walter on her shoulder, like a gun; while Walter was thinking
that soon he would be roaming over the country like a knight. No one
was looking at the candles now. People were finding their amusement
in crowding and being crowded.

No, Kalver Street ought not to be widened. For, properly understood,
this crowding and pushing and shoving was the nicest part of the
whole business.

How tedious it would have been quietly to watch those two hundred
and fifty thousand candles from some comfortable position.

Our little man lay on the heads and shoulders of his brothers. Like
some aspirants to a throne, he threw himself upon the masses. But he
was beginning to feel generally uncomfortable. He wanted to hold on
fast to something, or somebody--to somebody's ears, or nose. That,
however, did not suit the masses. They didn't mind being squeezed;
but they didn't like to be held on to.


Don't let the reader be alarmed. Walter had not burst under the strain;
but the pressure of the crowd had broken in the double doors of a
café! The irruption was terrible. The way the crowd streamed in might
be compared to the flow of molten lava. Walter described a parabolic
curve and landed on a table, without suffering any damage.

"Walter Pieterse!" cried the astonished party sitting around the table.

"Have you hurt yourself, Walter?"

No, he hadn't hurt himself; but he was rigid with surprise. Firstly,
over his ascent; secondly, over his aërial journey; then over his
descent among all kinds of glassware; and, finally--and that was not
the least surprising thing--he was surprised to find himself all at
once in the bosom of the Holsma family.

It was Sietske who asked him if he was hurt.

All the glasses, both great and small, were broken; but Walter was
still in one piece. Uncle Sybrand helped him to his feet. It wasn't
easy, for the press was great. However, Walter's size facilitated

The proprietor couldn't reach the scene of action, but he was able
to make his voice heard to the effect that everything broken must be
paid for. From other tables came the noise of more breaking glass. The
man was desperate. He cursed kings and masses indiscriminately.

"One bottle of wine, three lemonades, six glasses!" cried Holsma,
assuming the responsibility for Walter's unintentional work of

Uncle Sybrand was holding up the money to pay for everything.

"Oh, M'neer, I'm afraid to go home after this," cried Walter. "How
can I pay for that? And my mother----"

In the noise and jumble Holsma did not understand; but Sietske

"Sh!" she whispered. "Papa will pay for it all. Besides, I have money;
and William, too; and Hermann. Just be quiet."

Walter still did not understand. When, under the protection of the
Holsmas, he was safe on the outside again, and the entire party had
escaped the mob by taking a side street, he reiterated that he did
dare show his face to his mother and Stoffel.

"It doesn't make any difference about the money," said Holsma. "I
will attend to that. Why, boy, you're scared half to death. You're
shaking. Come along home with us where you can rest a bit and quiet

The distance, however, proved too short to have the desired quieting
effect on Walter.

"My mother will be angry when I come home late."

Holsma told him that a messenger should be sent to his mother at once,
so that she would know where he was.

The doctor gave him a sedative and led him into a room adjoining that
in which the Holsma family were sitting. Walter was to walk up and
down the room till he felt better; but he soon got tired of this and
did the very thing that he was not to do; he sat down on a sofa and
fell asleep.

Whether, in general, it is a good thing to keep in motion after a
fright--that I do not know. Walter, on the contrary, always felt the
need of sleep under such circumstances; and this remedy, with which
nature provided him, usually restored his mental equilibrium. Perhaps,
after all, it wasn't real sleep: he merely dreamed.

Again he was lifted up, higher and higher, borne by strong hands. A
man bit him in the hand. The fact was he had scratched his hand on
a refractory horsehair, which had become tired of acting as stuffing
for a sofa-pillow.

An angry woman assailed him with abuse. Stupid? Not stupid? We, the
masses? She let him fall. But he fell in Sietske's lap; and there
wasn't a single sliver of glassware.

He was happy--but the horsehair scratched him again. Then he heard
a voice. Was he still dreaming? Yes, dreaming again of soaring and
falling. There was Femke.

Of course there had to be something about her in his dream, and about
bleaching the clothes. Father Jansen was there, too, exhibiting to
the stars the particular garment that Femke had patched. Orion and
the Great Bear admired this specimen of her handiwork. Walter did not.

"Did you do it yourself?" he heard Sietske asking in the next room. "Or
couldn't you get through the crowd?"

"No, it was impossible to get through such a mob. I turned it over
to the man with the peddler's wagon."

What was that? Walter sat up. Father Jansen was gone; Orion, too;
and the clouds, and the "masses"; but--that voice!

He heard it again.

"I know him very well--oh, so well! He's a good boy." This he heard
Femke say!

He jumped up and ran into the room where the Holsmas were. He saw
a triangular piece of a woman's dress disappear through the door;
then the door closed.

He didn't have the courage--or was something else beside courage
necessary to ask, "Is that Femke?"

On his way home that evening Walter did not suffer in the least
from the sensation of being borne through the air; or from anything
similar. He was on the earth, very much on the earth. He felt lowly.

If he had only seen that bit of Femke's dress somewhere else, and
not at the Holsmas--not in that swell family; not in the company
of Sietske, who had so much money in her "savings-bank," nor in the
presence of the vain William, who was studying Latin!

He was brave enough to feel ashamed of himself; and that's all I can
say in his favor.

Let us now look at things from the point of view of Juffrouw
Pieterse. That lady was in the clouds. She was hoping that the
messenger who had brought her news of Walter had not been able to
find her flat at once. The idea of someone from Dr. Holsma's asking
for her through the neighborhood was decidedly pleasant. The longer
he might have had to inquire for her the better!

"Of course he was at the grocer's," she said. "Such messengers
never know where they have to go. Of course he told that the 'young
gentleman' was staying at Dr. Holsma's! And such a man always
tattles; such people don't do anything but tattle. But, as far as
I'm concerned, everybody can know it. I only mean that such people
like to tattle. But--say, Walter, how did it happen that you went
with the family? You're a nice rascal. Stoffel, what do you say?"

Stoffel made a serious face--as much as to say: "Hm! I'll have to
think over it. He's been up to something."

"I met the Holsma family in Kalver Street," Walter said. He told
the truth; he had met the family in Kalver Street. But why didn't he
tell anything about the extraordinary circumstances under which he
met them? Ah--there's the rub!

"Your back is so sticky!" complained Pietro, whose care it was to
look after the washing.

The family rubbed, and felt, and smelt; and then they declared
unanimously that Walter's back had been guilty of absorbing all kinds
of sticky gases and liquids.

"Really, it smells like lemon," said Trudie.

"And like wine!"

"And it's just coated with sugar. Boy, where have you been? Don't
you have any sense of shame? To go to visit such swell people with
lemon and sugar on your back! It's a disgrace, a disgrace."

"There was such a crowd on the street."

"That don't explain the wine on your back--nor the lemon--nor the
sugar. What say you, Trudie?"

There was complete unanimity. Timid, as usual, Walter didn't have the
courage to tell everything. Nor would this have done any good. The
understanding of the Pieterse family was like a rusty lock that no key
will open. Walter knew this, and remembering former sad experiences,
allowed the storm to rage above his head. Unfortunately he, too,
in a sense, was rusty. His nobility of character had suffered; he
had been guilty of cowardice.

He felt it. No minister could pray it away. Not even God himself
could revoke it. Everyone must act according to his conviction,
Mevrouw Holsma had said. He had not done this.

A dog would have kissed the hem of Femke's garment, meeting her after
such a long separation. For it was she. Certainly it was Femke--or----

Oh, he was hunting for or's!

Could it have been somebody else? It must have been somebody else. How
could Femke be at Dr. Holsma's?

No, no, it was she! Didn't she say that she knew me? Didn't she speak
with the same voice that I heard when she called me a dear boy and
gave me the kiss at the bridge?

She didn't know then what a coward I am! She wouldn't deny me and
betray me. She would say to everybody: That is Walter, my little
friend that I kissed that time, because he was so brave in fighting
off those boys!

And I? Oh, help me God!

No, God has nothing to do with it. I am a coward. I can't live
this way.

He thought of suicide; and in this mood he spent that Thursday
night. He arose Friday morning with the firm determination to put an
end to his unworthy existence.

Fortunately, just after breakfast he was put to work on a job that
is calculated to reconcile one with life.

He had been tried and convicted, the verdict being unanimous. The
penalty was that he should wash his jacket till it was clean. He
entered upon the task with such enthusiasm that in an hour he was
running to his mother crying triumphantly:

"Look, mother! You can't see a trace of it now!"

This little conquest dispelled all the clouds that had darkened
his life.

There are plenty of people who would gladly fall into a barrel of
lemonade if they only understood the salutary effects of cleaning
a coat.

The poor unfortunate who has never washed his own clothes does not
know what life is.

I will ask her pardon, thought Walter; and he pictured it all
to himself, wondering whether it would do for him to fall at her
feet at Holsma's, in the presence of the one who had delivered the
message. Finally, however, he quieted himself with the thought that
Femke would probably not be at the doctor's very long. He hoped to be
able then to settle the matter quietly, when only the two concerned
were present. This was not courageous, to be sure; but his punishment
was already on the way.


The events of an eventful Friday were at an end, as it seemed; and
Walter prepared to climb into the narrow bedstead, which he shared with
his brother Laurens. He was now in a tranquil frame of mind. He didn't
even have any desire to romp with Laurens, who, without laying claim to
geometrical knowledge, usually managed to find the diagonal of the bed.

It was Walter's intention to think over recent events again. He wished
to busy himself with others; he was tired of himself--at least he
thought so for a moment.

There was a prince, who distributed money among the people. Oh,
if I were only a prince!

That wasn't a bad thought. Under the same circumstances, most people
would have thought: Oh, if I could only have got some of the money!

The countess-palatine from--where from? Well it makes no
difference. She was in the museum and the papers said she was gracious,
very gracious.

I would do it too, thought Walter, if I were a countess-palatine. What
sort of a profession is that?

The king had given audiences--and a dinner--and had said--well, the
usual things. But for Walter it was new and interesting. The welfare of
the city seemed to lie heavily on his majesty's heart. It lay heavily
on Walter's heart, too; but that did not prevent Walter from admiring
this peculiarity of the king. In Africa he would do the same thing.

No, away with Africa!

He threw off his left stocking so violently that it curled around
the leg of the chair like a dying earthworm.

What strange things he had heard of Princess Erika! It was said that
she was to have married a grand-duke, but rejected him.

The middle classes were delighted with this news; though not knowing
but that it might merely have been stubbornness on the part of the

She was of such a strange nature that she did not know how to behave
herself in her high position.

Walter slipped off his other stocking, finding fault with the princess
for disregarding the usual customs and conventions. Hm! He wondered
if she would like to change places with him, and let him be Prince
Erich--and she----

He wondered if she too wore an ugly nightcap. But--no! Princesses
would wear caps of diamonds.

Princess Erika!

Walter blew out the light--no, he was on the point of blowing it
out. He had selected one of the triangles that Laurens had described
in the bed, when suddenly he became aware of a great tumult in the
Pieterse home.

Yes, somebody had rung violently three or four times and was still
banging at the door. Fire?

Hm! Could it be Princess Erika, he thought, who was coming to change
places with him?

Alas, it was only Juffrouw Laps; and she did not come to exchange.

Well, what did she want then, so late in the evening?

Walter pulled himself together and listened.

The compartment where Walter and Laurens slept was a boxed-up
arrangement over the sitting-room. Two of their sisters shared the
space with them. From considerations of modesty, therefore, the boys
always had to get sleepy a quarter of an hour before the young ladies.

The writer is unable to say how much oxygen four young people need
during eight hours without suffocating; but anyway there wasn't much
room in this little nook.

In another closet-affair there was a similar division, and here, too,
the hour for retiring was determined by similar laws of modesty.

The reader will now understand why a part of the family, the female
part of course, was still in the sitting-room when Walter imagined
that Princess Erika had come to exchange places with him.

Juffrouw Laps, who had rushed up the steps like a crazy woman, burst
into the room weeping and moaning and sobbing.

The usual cries of, "What on earth is the matter?" "Lord 'a'
mercy--what has happened?" were forthcoming. Walter noticed, too, that
the customary glass of water was offered and drunk, and that proper
efforts were being made to get the unhappy one to "calm herself."

Juffrouw Laps began her story with the positive assurance that it
was impossible for her to utter a word.

It seemed, therefore, that the affair was something important. Walter
pulled on one of his stockings and prepared to listen.

"I swear, Juffrouw Pieterse, by the omnipotent God, that I'm so
frightened and excited that I can't talk."


"Where are your children? In bed? Not all of them, I hope. Really,
I can't speak. Give me another glass of water, Trudie. Listen, how
my teeth are chattering. That comes from fright, doesn't it? I'm in
a tremble all over. Thank you, Trudie. Where's--Stoffel?"

"He's undressing," said Juffrouw Pieterse. "He goes to bed before
me and Pietro. Mina makes so much noise, you know; and Trudie must
stay with the boys to keep them from fighting. That's why I sleep
with Pietro, you see. Stoffel undresses himself, and then he draws
the curtain when he hears us on the steps. But why----"

"How that concerns me, you mean? To be sure. I'm just beside myself
from fright! And is--Laurens in bed too?"

"Of course! A long time already. He has to go to the printing-house

"All in bed! And I--I run through the streets, wretched, crazy,
and don't know what to do. Is everybody in bed?--everybody?"

"But what has happened?"

"I'm going to tell you, Juffrouw Pieterse. Oh, if you only knew how
frightened I am!"

Consideration of acoustics now led Walter to put on his other stocking.

"You know, Juffrouw Pieterse, that of late so much stealing has been
going on."

"Yes, but----"

"And burglary and murder! And the police can't catch anybody. You know
the old woman and the servant-girl who were murdered in Lommer Street."

"But three are already behind the bars for it. What more do you want?"

"That's all right; the murderers are running around scot-free. They've
locked up three fellows just to keep the people from thinking too
much. They don't want anybody to ask, 'What are the police for?' You
see what I mean? I tell you that such a low-down rascal, who commits
a murder and steals lots of money, cannot hide his bloody clothes;
nor the money, either. He's not used to having so much money. All
the neighbors know his coat and breeches; and such a man hasn't any
trunk where he can hide his things. He doesn't know how to manage with
drafts and notes; and he don't know enough to get away to a foreign
country. As for friends to help him get rid of the stolen things,
he hasn't any. I tell you, Juffrouw Pieterse, a murder or a robbery,
when they don't catch the murderer right away--then some respectable
person has done it, who has more clothes and boxes and presses and
linen--and he has friends among bankers. A common fellow would stick
a hundred thousand florins in the bread-box, and the children would
find it when they went to slip a slice of bread and butter. What do
you say, Trudie?"

Trudie was not versed in criminal statistics and had never reflected
on the matter. At least Walter heard no answer. Curiosity compelled
him to draw on his trousers.

"But," he heard his mother saying again, "what has happened to you?"

"What has happened? I am beside myself. Don't you see how I'm
trembling? The city is full of murderers!"

"My goodness! How can I help it?"

"You can't. But I am beside myself, and I want to ask your advice. Do
they all go to bed so early?--Stoffel--and Laurens--all of them? Look,
how I'm shaking. Do you suppose I dare go back to my room?"

"Why not? Do you think you're going to be murdered?"

"Yes. I do think it! The murderers of that old woman and of the
servant-girl are still on the war-path. Yesterday at the illumination
how many watches did they steal? And the police--what do they
do? Nothing, nothing! Yes, they watch you to see if you beat a rug
in the morning after ten o'clock. That's what the police do. They
don't bother murderers."

"What do you know about the murderers? It's your duty to report them
if you know them."

Walter put on his vest and wrapped his muffler around his neck.

"What I know about them! They are besieging me in my own house. Isn't
that pretty rough? I went out at noon to see the boat race on the
Amstel; but there was nothing to see, because there was no wind. And
such a crowd! All the kings were there, and the visiting princes
and princesses, you know; and everybody stared at the carriages,
and I did too. Not that I care anything about a king. Goodness,
no! For he is only a worm in God's hand, and when the Master doesn't
aid him--all is vanity, vanity. Dust and ashes--that's all. But I
looked at the carriages, you know, and at the horses, and at the
staring crowd. I thought to myself, I will fry the potatoes when I
go home. They had been left over from dinner; and when there are any
potatoes left over, you know, I always fry them for supper. There was
a big crowd, and all were mad because there was no wind; for people
are foolish about pleasure and never think of the Master. Worldly,
worldly, they were--and the princes and princesses. I thought, well,
it's no wonder that there's so much robbery and murder; for they try
God's patience. I thought, God will punish you; He's only abiding
His time. He always does it, Juffrouw Pieterse! A lady--the creature
had red pimples on her face, and was older than you--what do you
suppose she had on her head? A turban! She rode in a carriage with
four horses. What do you think of that? She was playing with a fan;
and, when a prince rode up to her carriage, she stuck out her hand
and let the fan go up and down three times. And the prince did that
way three times. Were they crazy, or not? What will the Master say
to that? If He only doesn't send a pestilence on us!"

"Yes, but the murderers--what did they do to you?"

"Why, certainly--what they did? I am going to tell you. I'm still
trembling. I had sliced my potatoes, put them on a saucer and set
them away in the cupboard. Then I thought, I will fry them when I come
home; for I didn't expect to stay long in the crowd, for I have been
saved by grace and don't care for worldly things--ah, dear Juffrouw
Pieterse, you must call Stoffel, so he can hear what has happened."

Stoffel was already on his way down; and Walter was glad of it. Walter
had heard the noise Stoffel was making putting on his clothes in the
adjoining booth, and upon this he builded hopes that he too might
be allowed to go down, where he could hear the exciting story better
than was possible through the cracks in the floor. In the meantime he
had completely dressed himself. The noises below told him of Stoffel's
arrival in the sitting-room. He heard the usual greetings and Juffrouw
Laps's solemn assurance that she was still in such a tremble that
she couldn't say a word. Then he heard her ask immediately where
Laurens was.

Laurens? Well, he was asleep.

That youth's absence seemed to trouble the visitor. She couldn't
proceed. Was it really necessary for Laurens to be present?

"What do you say, Stoffel? Isn't the city full of thieves and

Stoffel drew in his upper lip and tried to make the lower one touch
his nose. Let the reader try the same; then he will know how Stoffel
answered, and what his answer meant.

Juffrouw Laps pretended to believe that he had said "yes."

"Don't you see, Stoffel says so too! The city is full of thieves and
murderers, and--a respectable person is afraid to go to bed alone
any more. It's just that way."


"The police? Nonsense! What good do the police do, when people
don't believe in God? That's the truth. Whoever doesn't do that is
lost. Human help--I cannot understand at all why Laurens goes to bed so
early. You surely know that so much sleep isn't good for anybody. What
does the Bible say? Watch and pray! But--everyone according to his
notion. I swear before God that I don't dare to go home alone and----"

Walter's curiosity was at high tension. In order to hear better he
was leaning over, supporting himself with the chair. The point of
support was unsteady. The chair slipped and rattled across the floor,
crashing into another piece of furniture.

"Heaven and earth! What are they up to now," groaned the
mother. "Laurens, is that you?"

Walter peeped in, "It was me." The result was that he was soon in the
midst of the interesting conversation that he had been trying to hear
from above.

His entrance took place under unfavorable circumstances. He was blamed
for not having been undressed.

"Do you always put on your nightcap before you undress?" cried
the mother.

The boy had actually forgotten to take off his nightcap. He was so
ashamed that he felt he would like to fall through the floor. He
would rather have neglected anything else.

"And--what have you there?"

Alas, our hero looked more ridiculous than anyone could look by simply
putting on a nightcap. He had armed himself with an old rusty knife
that his father had used in prehistoric times for cutting leather!

During the whole of the Laps recital, which progressed so slowly,
he had thought and hoped and intended--yes, he heard something that
sounded like, "Where is Walter?" The speaker really did not say it--no,
on the contrary, those were the very words she wished to avoid--still,
he thought he heard her say them. On this Friday he had acted mean
and cowardly; but he was still Walter.

Murderers? Thieves? A lady in danger? What other answer could there
be but: "I am here, I, Walter!"

Oh, fate, why did you put that sword in his hand and let him forget
to remove that nightcap? Why didn't you divide these two absurdities
between Stoffel and Walter! Or why couldn't you put that feathery
diadem on the head of the sleeping Laurens? It would have been all
the same to him how he looked in his sleep.

Walter was in a rage.

And I am, too. Towards Femke his chivalry had remained in the
background; and now it must burst forth at a doubtful call from
Juffrouw Laps!

In his anger he threw the weapon down violently and allowed it to
rebound across the room. He slapped the nightcap on the table.

No one would have thought that the little man could be so vehement. His
mother, with her usual solicitousness, inquired into the condition
of his mind, asking if he was only cracked, or downright crazy.

"I tell you," said the visitor, "you ought not to worry that child
so much."

"Go to bed at once!" cried the mother.

"Why can't you let the child stay here? But--oh, yes! I was going to
tell you about my potatoes."

Walter stayed. For this privilege he was indebted to the general

"Just imagine, when I came home about half past ten o'clock--I couldn't
get away earlier on account of the crush, you know. Don't you know,
I don't care for these big occasions. Well, when I got home--the city
is full of thieves, murderers, and that must not be forgotten--well,
my potatoes were--what do you think my potatoes were? They were--gone!"



"All gone?"

"All gone!"

"Your potatoes--gone?"

"My potatoes--all completely gone!"


"I tell you those thieves and murderers did it. Who else could have
done it? Thieves and murderers in my house! And I wanted to ask
you--for I'm afraid in my room----"

Walter's eyes fairly shone.

"I wanted to ask, if perhaps--your son Stoffel----"

Stoffel's face was a study, a curiosity. If the said thieves and
murderers could have seen it they would have been greatly pleased,
for it bore evidence of Stoffel's intention to leave them undisturbed
in their work.

"But, Juffrouw," he said, "haven't you a cat in your room?"

"A cat? A cat to fight murderers with!"

"No, Juffrouw, not to fight murderers; but a cat that might have
eaten the potatoes."

"I don't know anything about a cat. I only know that the city is
full of low-down people when so many murders are committed and no one
tries to catch the murderers. Not that I am anxious about my life--no,
not at all. When the Master calls me I shall say, 'Let thy daughter
go in peace; my eyes have seen thy glory.'"

"But, woman, why didn't you look in your closet, and under the bed?"

"I didn't want to do that, Juffrouw Pieterse! The Lord will take care
of me--but one must not try the Lord's patience. I would not go in the
closet, or look under the bed--not for everything in the world! For of
course he's there, and that's why I wanted to ask if your son--Stoffel,
or, if Stoffel doesn't want to, if perhaps your son--Laurens, or----"

"But, Juffrouw, why didn't you call the neighbors?"

Thus spoke Stoffel.

"The neighbors? Well, I guess they know about it. The man who lives
under me is afraid of a poodle-dog, not to mention a murderer. There's
a man living next to me; but, you know, he is--what shall I say--he
is a sort of bachelor, and I don't want to get talked about. You
know a woman must always think of her reputation, and not get mixed
up in gossip."

It did not occur to anyone to ask what sort of a creature Stoffel
was. Was he a bachelor? Or did his position as a teacher protect him
against any worldly suspicion?

"And, besides," continued the seductive Laps, "do you think all
men have courage? No! They're as afraid of a thief as they are of
death. Last week an insolent beggar was on the steps, and the fellow
wouldn't leave. Do you think the men did anything to him? Scared to
death! But, I tell you, I got hold of him in a hurry and----"

She had gone too far, and she saw it.

"Well, I would have done that if I hadn't been a woman; for a woman
must never use violence. It isn't becoming. What do you say, Trudie? I
ran and shut my door. Wasn't that right? No, none of the men-folk
has any courage!"

None of the men-folk! Walter felt insulted. He was swelling with
suppressed courage; he was eager for a fray. At least, he was eager to
show that he was an exception to Juffrouw Laps's general indictment. Of
course Juffrouw Laps noticed this.

"Well, if Stoffel doesn't want to----"

"To tell the truth, I----"

"And if Laurens is already asleep--and if--if no one else will----"

She arose.

"Then I suppose I must, relying upon God, go alone. But it's horrible
for a woman to be entirely alone!"

She looked at them all in turn, all except the one she was talking
to. Walter felt that he was being forgotten, or overlooked. This only
increased his latent courage and made him burn with a desire to be
numbered with the knighthood of the house.

"Yes, if there's nobody here who's not afraid----"

"I'm not afraid!"

All but Juffrouw Laps were surprised. She was a good psychologist,
and had not expected anything else. It was her part, however, to
pretend to be as much surprised as any of the rest.


"You, Walter?"

"Boy, are you crazy? You?"

"Yes, I. I'm not afraid; not if there were ten in the closet and a
hundred under the bed!"

A little Luther! But with a difference. Luther had a God in whom
he felt he could trust--reinforced by a few grand-dukes. Walter,
without any grand-dukes, was ready to enter the field against a God
who was allowing any number of murderers to take shelter under the
roof and bed of Juffrouw Laps.


"I'll risk it."

"Let him go, Juffrouw Pieterse. You understand--it's company for me
to have such a child with me. Then I'm not frightened so badly, if a
murderer is in the closet. Nobody wants to be entirely alone. Isn't
that so?"

Juffrouw Laps gained her point: Walter was permitted to go with her.

It was principally their vanity that caused the Pieterses to consent
so readily to Juffrouw Laps's request and allow her to take Walter
away to act as her castellan. Not one of them felt that it was a
good thing for Walter to go with the Juffrouw; but they were all
proud of his courage. The story would get noised abroad, and people
would pass it on to their friends. Juffrouw Pieterse would see to
it that the people knew it was "the same young gentlemen, you know,
that went home with Dr. Holsma."

Yes, and then people would say: "There's something in those Pieterse

Mothers like to hear such things.

With his package under his arm Walter marched away with Juffrouw
Laps to do battle for that pious lady. That prehistoric weapon he
left behind, on her assuring him that she had a well-filled store
of weapons and ammunition enough to kill all the murderers that he
would have occasion to contend with.


Walter shuddered as he crossed Juffrouw Laps's threshold. He reflected,
and wondered how he could have entered upon this knightly expedition
without considering certain details connected with it and inseparable
from it.

The first thing she offered him, of course, was the fried potatoes,
that dainty dish which the murderers had greedily made away with!

Walter was beginning to feel that the game wasn't worth the candle. The
adventure didn't offer sufficient outlet for his chivalry. In fact,
he thought something other than chivalry was necessary to face
single-handed and alone those fried potatoes and Juffrouw Laps's
persistent attentions.

"Make yourself at home and eat all you want. Don't be a bit
embarrassed. Or would you rather take off your coat first? You know,
you're to stay all night with me."

Walter preferred to keep on his coat for the present.

"And I have a dram for you, too, my boy--something extra. It's
from Fockink's. You know where he has his distillery, there in that
narrow street. You must never pass along there. Bad women live in
that street. They stand at the doors and windows, don't you know;
and that isn't good for a bachelor like you."

Walter, the "bachelor," looked surprised. He was abashed; though he
was not displeased. This promotion was more flattering than going into

Still, he was embarrassed. Juffrouw Laps found it desirable, therefore,
to continue along this line.

"Certainly, Walter, you're a bachelor. Don't you know that? It's only
because at home they treat you like a child. I tell you, you're a
bachelor, just as much so as anybody else. Do you think I like Stoffel
as well as I do you? No, no, no! Not a bit of it! I like you lots
better. Don't you want a pipe to smoke? You are man enough for that. Of
course you are; and why shouldn't you smoke a pipe like other men?"

Men, men!

Walter answered that he couldn't smoke yet. It cost him an effort to
make the admission; but his first attempt to equal Stoffel in that
respect had turned out badly.

"So? You don't smoke?" She omitted his "yet."

"Well, it's a good thing. It's a stupid habit in men. And forever the
terrible smoke! I know other young gentlemen who do not smoke. For
instance, there is Piet Hammel. He's as old as you, but a little
smaller. He's going to marry a cousin of mine; and he doesn't smoke

Walter felt better now. He was interested.

"Yes, they're going to get married about--well, I don't know exactly
when. But they intend to marry. I tell you, you are a real bachelor;
and it's awfully stupid of them still to treat you like a child. I've
told your mother so a hundred times. There on the street just now,
when we were together--I'm a delicate woman; but do you think I
was afraid?--with you with me? Not a bit. Not a trace of fear. And
why? Because everybody could see that I had a man with me. I ought
to have taken hold of your arm--you're almost taller than I am--but
I didn't do it because you had a package. And then--the people talk
so much! The watchman might have seen it, and he would have spread
the news broadcast that I had been seen at night with a gentleman."

With a gentleman! Walter was listening.

"A woman must always think of her reputation. But we're here at home
now, and that's very different, entirely different. I know that of
course you wouldn't tell anything bad about me. Whoever tells anything
bad on a woman isn't a true gentleman. You know that."

Yes, Walter knew it. He understood Juffrouw Laps better than she

"What I wanted to say was, you must never go through that street. So
long as you were a child, it made no difference. But now! Let me fill
your glass for you."

Walter drank.

O Fancy, my muse, where art thou?

"How do you like it?"

Walter owned that the liquor had a pleasant taste.

Satan's handmaid filled the glasses again. They were "so small,"
really "mere thimbles."

"And you must eat something, dearest. Oh, I have always thought so
much of you! It's good for you to have a little dram like that."

Walter began to eat.

"Just take off your coat; there's nobody here but us."

Quite so. Walter did take off his coat.

"And I'm going to sit close to you, for you are a dear, good,
sweet boy."

Fancy, Fancy!

The liquor was strong, and Walter drank more of it than was good
for him. He lost some of his modesty, and hardly knew what he was
saying to the talkative Juffrouw, as she asked questions from time
to time. She was not quite satisfied with the way things were going,
but hoped for the best.

Occasionally Walter found time to wonder why he was there, what the
purpose of the enforced visit might be. His hostess seemed to have
forgotten all about those thieves and murderers; and when he reminded
her of them, she showed a spirit of valor that did him good. For he
and his valor were undone.

"I will do them! Do you think I'm afraid of such a fellow? Well,
I guess not. Not afraid of three of them. I wouldn't be afraid of
ten of them--I'm not afraid of the whole world. I will do them."

All the better, thought Walter; for then he wouldn't have to "do" them.

They now heard something rustling around in the closet, or else they
imagined they heard something. Walter was frightened. He was a perfect
child again.

"Stay here, and I will see what it is," cried the Juffrouw. "Do
you think I would let them beat you, or stab you, or murder you,
my boy! Never! Whoever touches you will have to walk over me. But I
will give them all they need."

She went out, taking the light with her, to see what was the matter--if
anything. She was careful to leave Walter in the dark long enough for
him to wish for her return. The tables were being turned. A little
more, and the boy would seek protection under her apron.

"But, Juffrouw----"

"I will let you call me Christine. That's my name."

This was too much for Walter. He preferred to avoid addressing her

"But hadn't I better go home now?"

"Not at all. You don't want to leave me, do you? You know your mother
is in bed asleep now. Besides, it was understood that you were to
spend the night here and take breakfast with me."

Breakfast! The boy hadn't been doing anything else for an hour. Was
that to continue till morning?

"I'll tell you what! Just undress yourself; and you needn't be a bit
ashamed before me. I will make down a pallet for you there in the
corner. When I'm here alone--just a woman--with all the thieves and
robbers--oh, it's so horrible!"

Walter did not dare to say no; nor did he dare to do what was proposed
so enticingly. He hesitated.

She talked sweetly and persuaded him.

He began to----

The child was as if hypnotized.

O Fancy, Fancy! Where art thou?


It will be remembered that on this significant Friday a boat-race
had been arranged for the amusement of the visiting princes and
princesses. It had to be called off on account of a disinclination
on the side of the wind to fill its part of the program, or rather,
to fill the sails. For it was to have been a "sail." Rowing was not
in style then; it was not considered dignified and manly. Besides,
the boats were not built to be propelled in this way.

The boat-race had been canceled; but the crowd remained, and continued
to discharge its enthusiasm for royalty till a late hour. It was a
great day; and the populace perspired and shouted and howled.

It was so hot that kings and princesses perspired like ordinary
mortals. They flourished fans indolently. At that time there was a
special kind of fan: "joujoux de Normandie."

It was observed that the old countess-palatine manipulated her fan more
elegantly than anyone else. No doubt it was through this "gentle art"
that she exerted her greatest influence on humanity.

Gradually the carriages of the distinguished guests disappeared,
and the knightly horsemen tired of the saddle. The day drew to a
close. The populace pushed and crowded and sang and hurrahed and
drank. Fireworks were discharged, to express, so the newspapers said,
the inexpressible love of the people for princes and princesses.

Oh, those firecrackers, and the danger in them! Quick, quick--throw
it--a second longer and it will burst in your hand--hurrah!

It was magnificent--the danger and thrilling anxiety. There was
a tradition that somebody had once held a firecracker in his hand
too long and had been badly hurt by it. This traditional "somebody"
was now inspiring the revelers with fresh enthusiasm.

So it was on that evening, before the city authorities had prohibited
the use of fireworks. After the houses had been covered with slate,
it was thought that there was too much danger of fire in firecrackers,
but on that evening, when the houses still had thatch roofs, the
dangerous pleasure of Amsterdam youth was unrestrained.

And the other dangerous pleasures! How many lasses went home with their
skirts singed, some of them hardly getting home at all. Interesting
adventures! And a boy--"those boys have to have their noses in
everything"--yes, a youth came very near getting a load in his
face. Thrilling delight!

The crowd was now in the street where Juffrouw Laps resided. The
reader will recall that Walter was spending the night with her.

Boom! went a gun, or a cannon-cracker; and Walter awoke just as his
affectionate hostess and religious adviser was going to give him
a kiss.

Juffrouw Laps had burned her sinful lips. "Lord have mercy on us,
what is that!" she cried.

Both ran to the open window. Ordinarily a respectable Hollandish girl
never leaves her window open at night; but the extreme heat of the
evening must be urged in Juffrouw Laps's favor.

It was clear to them at once that they had not been fired upon by
those "murderers," for nobody paid any attention to them or showed any
interest in them. Other windows were open, as well; and on all sides
people were looking out. Right and left a cannonade of firecrackers
was going on.

In the interest of privacy Juffrouw Laps took the precaution to blow
out the light as quickly as possible. Another might have neglected

Walter looked down on it all with the delight of a child. He forgot
the insistent kindness of his hostess; he thought of nothing but
the crowd below and their antics. The noise and tumult sobered him;
and it even had a quieting effect on Juffrouw Laps.

"How foolish the people are. They push one another hither and thither
and don't know themselves why they do it."

"Click, click!" answered an enthusiast with a gun. He was in the
midst of a bevy of girls, who scattered in an uproar.

"They're all drunk," said Juffrouw Laps. "I wish they would go
home. I'm tired--and it's two o'clock."

"Just a little more!" begged Walter. "I'm not tired--not a bit!"

"I'm afraid you're catching cold. For you know, the night air after
a hot day--well, put on your cap, dearest. I wouldn't have this night
air to give you a cold for everything in the world. Look, there goes
another one." It was a Roman candle.

    "Amour à la plus belle.
    Honneur au plus vaillant----"

"Why don't they sing Dutch? Do you understand any of it?"

Walter knew something of the handsome Dunois, who slew so many Turks
and received as his reward the daughter of the duke, his master. How
would a knight be rewarded after he had already received one reward? Or
how would it have been if the master had had no daughter?

While Walter was asking his lady friend such difficult questions as
these, they heard an outburst of cries and abuse and oaths below. A
reaction had set in. It was a perfect riot. The crowd swayed first
one way then the other, according as one party or the other was in
the ascendency.

Non-combatants were pushing their way out; combatants, themselves
crowded, were crowding others. Cries of "help" were heard. Mothers,
with babies in their arms, attested their fear; women in delicate
health made their condition known.

The press was worst on the corner, whither the revelers were streaming
from three directions. Here was located a popular restaurant and
drinking-place, which was probably the destination of the stream coming
from Amstel Street. The second stream, coming from Utrecht Street,
evidently had the same objective in view. The strongest current
was flowing from the belligerent group, which was now squeezed into
close quarters.

From his recent experience Walter knew what it meant to be in such a
mob. Whoever fell was walked over. But it really wasn't so bad as that:
to fall was impossible. The danger was in being crowded off the street
into basements, where limbs and necks might be easily broken. In this
respect there was more danger than there had been the evening before
in Kalver Street.

"Christian souls!" cried Juffrouw Laps. "I'm getting right sick at
the stomach."

Walter's condition was about the same. All at once he seized her
arm. He thought that he saw somebody--somebody who looked like----

"That's right, dear. Hold fast to me. It's simply death and murder!"

Walter did not say anything.

"Isn't it enough to run anybody crazy?" continued the dear
Juffrouw. "Hold fast to me, and remember that I am your Christine."

He was remembering something else.

"Don't be afraid--Lord, that child's beside himself--nobody shall
hurt you. I will take care of you."

He held on to her arm all the tighter; otherwise he was as if turned
to stone.

"I wouldn't pay any attention to it, sweetheart. But--it is bad
enough. Do you see that girl there with the North Holland cap on? I
wouldn't like to be in her place."

"It is--Femke! O God, it is Femke!"

Shaking off Juffrouw Laps, who attempted to hold him back, he rushed
down the steps and in a few minutes was in the thickest of the fray.

He fought his way through the crowd like a mad-man, soon reaching the
point where he had seen Femke. She, however, had disappeared. A man
with flashy cap and sailor's jacket, who from above had looked like
her escort, was still contending with the crowd. It seemed as if the
two had come arm in arm through Amstel Street.

"Is there a girl here with a North Holland cap on?"

The man was too busy fighting and wrestling for standing-room to make
answer. Meanwhile, Walter noticed that the fellow was struggling
toward the "Herberge," and concluded that his lady must have taken
refuge there.

Walter paid no more attention to the punches and blows he received. He
was only concerned to give as many blows as were necessary to hasten
his arrival at the restaurant. The place was about as badly crowded
as the street, but there was no fighting going on.

Yes, Walter had made a good beginning: yesterday in the "Polish
Coffeehouse," to-day in the "Juniper Berry"--thrown in there, fighting
his way in here.

He was in the restaurant at last, looking for Femke. Now he thought
that he had discovered her, standing on a step, or something of the
kind. With lips tightly closed, her arms crossed, the girl was looking
quietly down on the multitude as if in silent contempt. The rim was
torn from her cap and was hanging down. Walter thought that he even
saw blood on her face--Femke's dear face!

He was exhausted and could not reach her. He looked at her. She did
not see him.

She stood there proud and haughty. He called to her. She did not hear.

"O God! she despises me. I deserve it for my cowardice at Holsma's."

"Boy," said the woman behind the bar, "we don't have any bellowing
here. If you want to bellow go to your mother."

Easier said than done. He couldn't move a peg, such was the press. He
was shoved against the counter; and it was impossible for him to keep
sight of Femke. The tears began to roll down his cheeks.

"What are you doing in such a crowd anyway?" continued the woman,
"when you're so weak. You look as flimsy as a dish-rag. What have
you been doing? Let me give you a glass of cognac."

He would have been only too glad to pay for his place; but, as he
"received at home everything that he needed," he did not have
the wherewithal. Still, there was no danger of his being thrown
out. The crowd, which was threatening to expend its remaining
energy in destroying the liquids of the place, was now occupying the
barmaid's attention. I should say Mrs. Goremest's attention. She was
the proprietress.

The girl continued to hold her position of advantage. There was
something scornful in her features. "Who dares!" she seemed to say.

Walter was feeling bad. She looked over in his direction, but without
seeing him. He called; but she did not hear.

Then the fellow with the flashy cap and sailor jacket appeared in the
door. He had not been one of the belligerents; but he had suffered
the fate of neutral powers. As his clothing testified, both parties
had been his enemies.

So intent was the fellow on getting in that he did not even take time
to return the shoves and cuffs that he received. Twice, three times
he was crowded back; for where so many want the same thing, it isn't
easy to obtain. Nevertheless, he had one advantage over the others,
who sought only a resting-place and a glass of liquor. He was incited
by something else.

Walter hoped with all his heart that the fellow would succeed in
reaching Femke. She looked so lonely in the midst of that wild mob. If
he had been stronger, he would have--but she wouldn't have anything to
do with him. Wouldn't she push him off, just as she did the insolent
fellow who first caught hold of her apron?

The girl seemed now to spy the sailor. She nodded to him and smiled,
as if to encourage him. Or was she thanking him for his fidelity? Her
smile bore the message that she was uninjured, and fearless. Yes,
she stood there a statute of repose.

The sailor nodded back.

He would never have denied her, Walter thought.

Mrs. Goremest happened to see the new arrival; and, from the way she
greeted him, he seemed to be a frequent visitor to her place:

"Hello, Klaas. Are you there too? You're out of breath, aren't you?"

She gave orders to let him through, and even came out a few steps
and helped open up the way for him.

Thus it happened that Klaas Verlaan found standing-room at the counter
not far from Walter.

"Well, they've made the most of you!"

He saw it the same way. He was never certain of a moment's recreation
before bedtime. Walter, as well as the girl who still maintained her
elevated position in the corner, agreed with the bar-woman's verdict.

"Had a good day?" continued the woman. "It was bad about the

Klaas placed his finger on his mouth, as if he were going to tell
her a secret. He wanted to tell of an adventure with Princess Erika.

"A glass of corn?" translated the bar-woman, but without guessing
the right thing.

"Half and half?"

"Nor that either."


This time Klaas was particularly dainty and hard to please. He declined
regularly whatever she suggested and continued to exert himself to
draw her into a more confidential talk. He had had the pleasure of
pulling Princess Erika out of the water.

On the outside they were still singing, "Amour à la plus belle."

"The devil take those Welsh songs!" cried one of the drinkers. "We
are Dutchmen forever!"

"Yes, we are Dutchman forever----"

"And our prince----"


"I will sing what I please; and, if anybody doesn't want to sing"--he
struck himself on the chest, and the whole party was Dutch and
enthusiastic over royalty. "Our Prince" was sung lustily, and to
a finish.


"Yes, when we were still true Dutchmen----"

"Yes, when we were still true Dutchmen----"

"And under the republic!"

"Long live the republic!"

"You all ought to have seen a yacht-race then."

"And our prince----"

"Under the republic all men were equal."

"Equal. No difference at all."

"Down with the tyrants!"

"They're not a bit better than we are!"

"They suck the life out of the people."

"Yes, they bleed us."

"And why? Because you're all cowardly dogs."

"Yes, they're all cowardly dogs."

"You put your necks under the yoke."

"Whenever a king comes around, or an emperor, or a prince, then all
of you are so frightened you tremble like an aspen leaf."

"Yes, like an aspen leaf!"

"If you fellows were----"

"All men are born free."

"Yes, we were born free and equal."

"And true Dutch hearts--what say you, Mrs. Goremest? What do you think,
that's a daughter of M'neer----"

The name died on the speaker's lips. He became pale.

"A daughter of M'neer----!"

"Certainly. Ask Verlaan."

Verlaan nodded.

"Is that so, Klaas? Really and truly? Why then does she stand there
dressed that way--like an ordinary girl?"

"Oh, those clothes came from my Gertie, you know. Rich people have----"

"Come, boys, we must go home now. Mother Goremest needs sleep,
too. We are not made of iron; we are flesh and blood."

"Down with the tyrants! We were born free. True Dutch hearts----"

"Sh! The young lady----"

"What? That girl? What then?"

"Sh! The daughter of--but don't say a word. Damme if it isn't so--the
daughter of M'neer--Kopperlith!"

"Kopperlith on Keizersgracht? What are you talking about,
man! Kopperlith--on Keizersgracht!"

"Yes, of course. Come, we're going."

"His daughter? His----natural daughter?"

"That's right. You understand it now; but keep quiet about it."

The true Dutch hearts and republicans paid and left the bar.

It was a sudden whim of Klaas Verlaan's to make his ward a child of
Keizersgracht; but it brought him in more ducats than he cared to
admit afterward.

Kopperlith? Kopperlith? on Keizersgracht? Femke on Keizersgracht! And
on the day after to-morrow he was to begin work for this wealthy

His head swam. Was he still Walter Pieterse? He doubted it. Before
he had quite come to himself, he was forced through the door with
other late stragglers. It was time for Mrs. Goremest to close.

The street was comparatively quiet now. Walter remained near the
"Herberge," which to him was a sort of temple where his Goddess was
being worshiped. Now and then somebody else was pitched out the door,
who would have been glad to stay longer. It was not every day that
one got an opportunity to see a daughter of M'neer Kopperlith. Some
wanted to join the triumvirate of Verlaan, the republican speaker,
and Mrs. Goremest; but the three felt themselves strong enough to do
the work and share the rewards.

At last the outflow ceased, and Walter was just going to peep through
the curtains of the glass door, when the door opened again and the
republican emerged. Walter heard Klaas call to him:

"There on the corner in Paarden Street, you know. If it costs a dollar
more, that's all right. Tell the cabby----"

Walter understood. The republican was to get a cab--for Femke?

Walter waited. In the meanwhile, Mrs. Goremest had locked the door and
drawn the curtains, so that it was impossible for him to look in now.

In a short time a carriage drove up, and the republican sprang out
of it. The door of Mrs. Goremest's establishment opened again, and
Klaas Verlaan with the ostensible daughter of Kopperlith appeared.

"Femke, I am here!" Walter cried, hurrying to her. "I am here. Oh,
Femke, don't go with the strange men!"

"What in the devil are you doing here again!" snorted Verlaan, seizing
Walter by the collar to pull him back into the restaurant. "What do
you want? And who are you?"

"Femke, don't go with the strange men. I will take you home, I,

"The boy is weak in the upper story," affirmed Mrs. Goremest. "He's
been bellowing around her the whole evening like a calf, and he hasn't
spent a doit."

Walter reached for Femke's hand; and then he noticed how curiously
she was rigged out. She was completely covered. Of her head,
face, shoulders, figure--nothing was to be seen. Mrs. Goremest
had contributed her cloak; but what would one not do for a
Kopperlith? Still, she was saving: Only the stump of one tallow
candle was burning. It flickered strangely, giving to everything a
ghostly appearance.

"Is it you, Erich?" the girl asked.

"Femke, Femke, for God's sake, don't go with those strange men!"

Tearing himself away from Verlaan, he threw himself at Femke's feet. He
pulled aside her cloak and covered her hand with tears and kisses.

"Just like I tell you," declared Mrs. Goremest. "The boy is as crazy
as a bedbug."

"Femke, I will never deny you again. Strike me, tread on me, kill me,
but--don't go with those strange men."

"Light!" cried the girl peremptorily--a word that even a Dutchman

The republican took the candle from the counter and held it so that
the light fell on Walter's face. The boy was still kneeling. Through
an opening in her hood the girl looked down on him and was silent. She
did not withdraw the hand that Walter held closely pressed to his lips.

Verlaan made a motion as if to remove the intruder; but the girl
stopped him with a look. Then she laid her free hand on Walter's head,
saying simply:

"My brother!"

"Another descendant of Kopperlith!" growled the republican. The young
people have strange ideas about how to spend the night."

When Walter came to his senses, he was in the street again. The
carriage had driven away--whether with her, or without her; whether
with the two men, or without them--that he did not know. It made
no difference to him: she had called him "brother," seriously,
solemnly. She had spoken clearly and distinctly.

"O God! I thank thee. Thou art kind and compassionate. I didn't
know that Femke could speak like that. She must have felt it down in
her heart."

To-morrow, he thought, he would become immensely wealthy--in
"business"--and, of course, he was going to be a king again, and
still more: For Femke he would be more than a brother! Juffrouw Laps
had awakened in him--well, something, he did not know himself what it
was. His heart rejoiced; he walked upon stilts, as tired as he was,
and wondered that his head did not bump against the clouds.


For anyone in Walter's present mood, there are only two things in
the world; self, and--nothingness!

Walter looked about him. "Butter Market," he read on a sign. He noticed
that in the street socks could be bought, wagons hired, etc., etc.

But what did it all mean? Nothing. He had kissed Femke's hand!

It is too bad that the world did not sink out of existence on that
summer night.

If Walter had noticed such an occurrence, he might have asked if
Femke was hurt; otherwise the phenomenon would not have disturbed him.

The reader will understand, of course, that on this eventful night
the world did not go down.

Walter forgave the sun for rising. He even excused the Butter Market
for being such a hot place; but it was difficult for him to convince
himself that it was not all a dream.

A new feeling took possession of him. His ambitious plans of a material
nature receded into the background of consciousness. His one desire
now was to love Femke--and win her love. Those continents that were
expecting salvation from him might wait.

He thought of Femke and her soft hand. Never had her hand felt like
that. Formerly it had seemed harder and rougher; but, of course,
he had just been mistaken about it. He imagined, too, that hitherto
he had not marked her voice well, nor her carriage. Surely, he had
never seen the true Femke till to-night--better, this morning.

But--Klaas Verlaan and his rough companions! What did all that
gab about M'neer Kopperlith mean? There were other questions too;
but--Femke had called him brother; and that was one thing which with
him was as firm as the rock of Gibraltar.

Brooding thus, he slipped along through the streets. Weak and tired,
he came to the "Dam." Here he saw a long row of carriages. The
coachmen sat in their places waiting for the princely guests, who
had wanted to see a Holland sunrise. The sun was already in sight;
but there were no princes and princesses to see him. A few laborers
were looking on indifferently.

Yesterday Walter would have exerted himself to see a live, fullgrown
king, just to find out if he looked like Macbeth, or Arthur, or
Lear. To-day he was so tired that kings did not interest him.

He was just starting on, when the coachmen suddenly assumed a rigid
attitude. A boy remarked that "they" were coming now. He was right:
they did come; and all, except one old lady, drove away so rapidly that
scarcely anyone saw them. She touched her coachman on the shoulder.

"She has forgotten something," said the boy.

Three or four cavaliers stormed back into the palace and brought her
fan. While they were gone, the boys wondered at the pimples on her
face. Walter's  pictures had had nothing of that kind. How different
Femke's face was!

Walter trudged along further; and, without thinking of where he was
going, he came to the meadow where Femke and her mother dried their
clothes. He sat down on the grass, intending to wait for the first
signs of life in Femke's home. He was not certain that she was there;
he did not know but that she might still be at Holsma's; but there
would be somebody there.

Overcome by weariness he lay down and gradually fell asleep. His cap
came off, rolled down into the ditch and disappeared in the mud.

If anyone passed by, he remarked that there lay a drunken fellow. Yes,
youth begins early. Possibly the fellow was sick; but then the police
would take care of him. Nobody hurt him; nobody touched him. His
dreams were undisturbed.

He dreamed of various things; but the principal object of his dreams
was a young girl, who was standing on a platform playing ball with
heavy men, as if that were nothing. Suddenly it was little Sietske

Then in his dreams he heard a voice:

"Goodness, boy, how did you get here?"

At first the voice was far away, then nearer, and finally quite
near. He had the dim impression that somebody was pulling him up to
a sitting posture.

"Sietske!" he whispered, still sleeping.

"Yes, that's my name. How did you know it?"


"Why, certainly. Who told you? And what are you doing here. It isn't
very respectable. Are you drunk? And so young, too."

He called Sietske's name again.

"You may call me by my first name, if you want to; but how does it
come? Did Femke tell you? It's a real disgrace to lie here like a
hog. What were you going to say?"

Walter rubbed his eyes and felt of his head. "I would like to wash
myself," he said, not yet wide awake.

"All right," cried Mrs. Claus. "And you're not hurt, are you? Where
is your cap?"

"Wash--with cold water," Walter said.

"Good! Come to the pump with me." She led him through the house and
across the back yard.

"You needn't be afraid to undress here; nobody can see you. But how
did you happen to call me by my first name all at once. Not that I'm
offended at all."

Walter was still too much asleep to recall what had happened to him
during the past few hours; so he only said that he had a headache
and must wash himself first.

Mrs. Claus, noticing that he was ashamed to undress, hung some quilts
on the fence, thus converting the yard into a sort of room. It never
occurred to her that her own presence might embarrass him. Walter
was still not quite pleased with the outlook for a bath; but since
yesterday he had been thinking of other things as strange.

He began to strip, allowing Mrs. Claus to help him, just as if he
had been fifteen years younger than he was. To Mrs. Claus he was only
a child.

She laid him on a bench under the spout and began to pump. At the first
drops he shivered; then the water flooded his head and shoulders. He
could neither see nor speak. His efforts to speak she interpreted as
calls for more water.

"Yes, this will be good for you." Her words were drowned by the
splashing water.

"You didn't hurt yourself, did you? Do you think that will be enough
now? I've pumped till I've got a pain in my side. But if you think

She stopped all at once, but still held on to the pump handle, as if
to show her willingness to continue.

"I forgot entirely to"--she began pumping again--"wash you off with
green soap. Femke always washes herself with it. It makes the skin
nice and smooth.--You ought to see your back now. It shines like
a looking-glass."

Walter wanted to say something but couldn't.

"Yes, and your forehead, too. It's the green soap that does it. I
guess your mother never washes you with green soap, does she? Then
one must scour and scrub and rub. But, if you are not used to soap----"

She lifted that terrible pump handle again.

"I believe this will be about enough," Walter blubbered. His mouth
was so full of water that again Mrs. Claus did not understand him.

"Green soap is good for corns, and for rheumatism." She was pumping
away for dear life.

Walter finally succeeded in rescuing himself and the bench from
that destructive stream of water. He was now able to make his cries
for mercy understood; but he was not yet able to get up. Besides,
the good woman had hung his clothes out of his reach, and he was
ashamed. He remained sitting.

"Do you want anything else?" inquired the water nymph.

"No, no, no!" he answered quickly. She was already lifting the
pump-handle again. "But----"

The simple, innocent woman did not understand; and, when he continued
to sit there like a helpless lump of misery, she asked:

"Do you have a pain anywhere?"

"No, I haven't any pains."

"Are you tired?"

He was still tired, and said so.

"And I woke you up! I'll tell you what, you must go to sleep and take
a good nap."

She began drying him off, as if that were a usual thing in her day's
work. Then she rolled him up in a sheet and carried him off like a sack
of clothes. He could not but notice the way she laid him down. Then
she covered him warmly.

"Straighten out your legs, my boy."

Walter did as she said, and experienced an indescribable feeling of
comfort. And when she punched him and patted him and tucked him in,
and said: "Poor child, you can sleep good now. This is Femke's bed,
you know----" then he was more than comfortable; he was delighted.

When he awakened at about four o'clock in the afternoon he heard
whispering voices. He listened, at first to find out where he was,
and then to understand what was being said.

It seemed as if there were a plot further to confuse Sietske with
Femke in his mind.

"Yes, Sietske; but what does he mean by lying out like that? If I
were his mother----"

The answer was:

"Cousin, I don't suppose his mother knows about it. Hermann did the
same thing once. That's the way boys are."

Oho! Sietske was there; and Mrs. Claus was her cousin, and her name
was Sietske too! And that girl--there in Mrs. Goremest's place?

His thoughts became more and more confused; though physically he
felt well.

How would it do, he thought, to tear a little piece out of the sheet,
so as to be able to examine it to-morrow and make certain of himself
and his adventures?

If he had been accustomed to fine bedlinen at home, he might now
have taken an especial pleasure in Mrs. Claus's extremely rough
homemade linen. Hm! He had always dreamed of princesses sleeping on
embroidered silk, among diamonds and pearls! He did not yet know that
it is possible to conceive royal and imperial highnesses otherwise
at night, and that perhaps a princess might sometimes be willing to
tousle Femke's bed.

He looked about the room. There was another small bed, where, he
supposed, Femke's mother slept. Across the room was the chimney. Here
were small shelves decorated with works of art. Walter noticed the
"resurrection of Lazarus." Four chairs were in the room. One was
standing by his bed, and on it his clothes were carefully arranged.

In the middle of the room stood a table; and the drawer was partly
open. It was too full. Father Jansen's woolen socks were peeping
out while they waited for repairs. Walter wondered if those other
objectionable articles were there too.

On the wall, at the head of his bed, hung a crucifix, with a small
basin of holy water. With that she crosses herself, he thought. He
stuck his hand into it: it was dry. The whole arrangement was fastened
to an embroidered piece of cardboard, and, when he touched it,
something fell from behind it.

It looked like a large-sized letter. Walter picked it up and looked for
the address. He felt that it must be a letter from Femke to him. Then
he reproached himself, and, trembling with emotion, restored the piece
of paper to its place. He had held it up to the light: it was the
Ophelia that he had presented her after his illness! She had treasured
the picture together with the most sacred thing she possessed.

He was wide awake now; but who wouldn't wake up on receiving a letter
from Heaven?

He dressed himself and went into the other room, where he supposed
Mrs. Claus and Sietske were. Not a soul was to be seen. For the first
time it occurred to him that after those few words he had heard nothing
more. The girl had surely visited her "cousin" and then gone away.

But Mrs. Claus herself? Perhaps she, too, had gone away. This was
the case; however, she had not gone out without leaving behind her
a peculiar sign of her uncouth character and lack of refinement. On
a small table, before which stood an inviting chair, lay two pieces
of bread and butter of her standard make. Beside them was a pot of
coffee. To be sure, it was cold now; but--well, Walter acted quickly
"according to his convictions."

Other thoughts now forced themselves on his mind. The "House of
Pieterse" appeared to his mind's eye as a menacing waterspout. In
the face of this danger difficult questions that had been clamoring
for answer had to be forgotten.

To go home? For heaven's sake, no!

His mother, Stoffel, his sisters--all had turned into Macbethan
witches. In his imagination, even Leentje had deserted him and was
asking him to beg forgiveness for his shameful behavior. He thought
of the prodigal son; though he knew that no calf, fat or otherwise,
would be slaughtered on his return.

Sakkerloot! I haven't done anything wrong; I haven't squandered
anything--not a doit of my inheritance! Have I allowed the wine to
run out? Not a drop!

But something must have been the matter; for--he did not dare to
go home.

Have I had any pleasure? Have I enjoyed any feast with four young
ladies? No! Have I allowed hounds to run around loose in the
banquet-hall? Have I had any negro servant to hold my horse?

There he took his stand. And he stayed there. Of camels and girls and
wine he felt that he was innocent; but himself, and his adventures
of the night, he was unable further to explain.

"I wish I were a crumb of bread," he sighed, as he stuck one into
his mouth, "then I would know where I belong."

Doubtless the first crumb of bread that was ever envied by a ruler.

Go to America?

Yes, if he only had those hundred florins that Mr. Motto had relieved
him of. Of course that worthy gentleman was now living like a prince
on the money. At least, Juffrouw Pieterse had said as much. But,
even if he had the money, he could not go away and leave Mrs. Claus's
house to the mercy of stray thieves and robbers. In a way, hadn't he
on yesterday evening taken the field against robbers?

Besides, he had no cap. There was nothing in sight that looked like
a hat. Yes--there hung a North Holland cap!

Femke? America?


While Walter was looking at Femke's cap and revolving other plans of
escape, the door opened and Kaatje, the girl from Holsma's, walked
in. Not recognizing her, Walter did not understand her when she said
that Femke had sent her to ask how he was. He looked at the messenger
searchingly; then he asked:

"Are you trying to make a fool of me?"

He had puzzled over recent events till everything seemed ghostly and
unreal; and he was angry.

"My dear sir, Femke sent me."

"What Femke? Somebody's grandmother again." He took a step forward;
and his attitude was threatening.

"Are you that giant Miller's sweetheart?" taking another step forward,
while Kaatje fell back.

"Young man!"

Kaatje was already outside of the door, Walter close after her with
his fists doubled up.

"Young man, what's the matter with you?"

"What's the matter with me? I'm tired of being made a fool of. You

She retreated backwards; he pursued. It may have looked comical; but
that was the way his anger chose to express itself. In this manner
the girl returned by the same way she came, which was the footpath
across the meadow where the clothes were dried.

"Oh, heavens! If the doctor would only come."

"What do you think of me?" Walter said, punctuating his words.

"Oh, Lord!"

"Do you think I'm drunk?"

"Oh, no, no. Not at all!"

"Or crazy?"

"No, no!--Where can the doctor be so long!"

Two very similar shouts put an end to the strained situation.

"Thank God, there he is!"

"Thank God, there it is!"

One cry came from Dr. Holsma's coachman, who was driving up hurriedly;
the other cry meant that two boys, who were fishing in the ditch for
frogs, had caught Walter's cap.

Walter accepted his lost property without question or complaint;
while Kaatje, with tears in her eyes, ran up to Dr. Holsma to explain
what was the matter.

"Is it really so bad?" asked that gentleman presently.

He approached Walter, who was shaking the mud from his cap, glad to
think that he was concealing his embarrassment and fright.

"Well, my boy, it's a good thing I met you here. I wanted to ask you
if you wouldn't like to take dinner with us this evening. Afterwards
we will all go out for a little amusement, if you like."

That was the tone Walter needed to hear. He burst into tears.

"Thank you, thank you! That will be nice for my mother, too."

Holsma motioned to Kaatje, who had timidly retired to the background.

"Go to Juffrouw Pieterse and tell her that the young gentleman dines
with us, and that he is going to spend the evening with us."

"Yes," cried Walter quickly, "and----"

The doctor looked at him anxiously. He was afraid that he saw symptoms
of the alleged mental disorder; but Walter's eye was calm and gave
no ground for fear.

"M'neer, can't she say too that I----"

"Out with it, my boy! What have you on your heart?"

"That I was with you--all day!"

Holsma reflected.

"Certainly," he said, "all day."

"From early this morning--from seven o'clock on."

"From seven o'clock on," the doctor repeated.

"And--I ate breakfast at your house."

"Certainly, the young gentleman ate breakfast at our house. To be
sure, he ate breakfast with us. Kaatje, you can ride in the carriage
with us."

As Holsma helped Walter in he gave the coachman directions to stop at
Juffrouw Pieterse's, where "the girl" was "to leave a message." When
he took a seat by his protégé, Walter pressed his hand and exclaimed:
"Oh, what a good fortune it is that I found you!"

"Do you think so? It was only a--mere accident. Mrs. Claus is a----"

"A cousin?" interrupted Walter.

"Yes, and she's a good woman," said Holsma. "She is a cousin of ours,
and I came to visit her. I do that every week, not as a physician,
but as a kinsman. You can go to see her as much as you like: nothing
will hurt you there."

"M'neer!" exclaimed Walter suddenly--and he caught his breath--"I
think so much of Femke!"

"So?" answered Holsma dryly. "I do too."

The doctor was diagnosing Walter's case; but he preferred to do it
quietly. While speaking of indifferent things, he noted that Kaatje had
been mistaken; that Walter was both excited and exhausted, but that
his mind was unaffected. On the contrary, his mind was growing. His
soul was expanding.

When Kaatje left the carriage, Walter felt that the time had come to
give and receive explanations. Holsma was of a contrary opinion. He
was friendly enough, but showed no inclination for heart-to-heart
confidences. Walter's confusing story was promptly interrupted.

"I've heard that you're going to enter the world of business."

"Yes, sir, the day after to-morrow."

"Well, that isn't bad, if you get into the right hands. You must work,
though; and that's good for boys like you."

Fearing that Walter might imagine he was something more than the
average boy, Holsma continued immediately:

"It's a good thing for everybody, especially young people. They're
all alike; and all need to work. All boys must work; and girls,
too. Everybody must work."

Walter did not understand that the doctor was giving him a dose
of medicine; but he saw that the time for explanations had not
yet arrived. Still he would have felt better if he could have
unburdened his mind of at least a part of those persistent memories
of last night. His instinct of chivalry would have prevented him
from mentioning the details of the Laps affair, which, after all,
had only been an ineffective attack.

He began again; but the doctor interrupted him before he had hardly
mentioned the fried potatoes.

"Yes, such things happen to everybody. That doesn't amount to
anything. The thing for young people to do--and for old people,
too--is to work. It seems to be rather windy."

That was true. If it had only been as windy yesterday.

"Do you like pictures?" asked Holsma, when they had left the carriage
and were entering his home.

"Of course!"

"Good! Just go into that room. Look at everything as long as you

The doctor pushed him into the room, then ran through the hall and
up the stairs to prepare the family for Walter's reception.

Walter found little pleasure in paintings. He had had no training
in art. For him, a man with a dog and a hare was merely a man with a
dog and a hare. He felt that a poem ought to have been written about
it all; then it would have been intelligible. His glance fell on the
portrait of a woman, or a queen, or a fairy, or a mayor's daughter.


Instead of the North Holland cap she wore a diadem of sparkling stars,
or rays of----

"Dinner is ready, and papa and mamma invite you to come out to the
dining-room. Are you still sore after your fall?" It was little

"I didn't fall."

"I mean from your fall on the table in the coffee-house. How
comical! Well, if you are all right again, we're going out this
evening--papa, mamma, William, Hermann, you, I--all! We're going to
the theatre!"

Sietske had understood her orders.

"Going out?--to the theatre? But my mother----"

"Papa will attend to that. Don't worry; he will arrange everything."

Once out in the hall, Walter hesitated again. He motioned to Sietske
and took her back into the room.

"Sietske, who is that?"

"That is a great-great-great-great-grandmother of ours."

"But she looks like----"

"Like Femke! Of course. Like me, too. When Hermann puts on such a
cap you can't tell him from Femke. Come, now. We mustn't keep mamma

On entering the dining-room Walter was met by that quiet cordiality
that the doctor had prescribed. When all were seated Sietske mentioned
the picture again in apologizing to Walter for hurrying him away
from it.

"Yes," remarked the doctor quietly, "there is some resemblance;
but Femke is not so pretty. No, not by a great deal."

A cold douche!

Walter had never thought of Femke's beauty. He really did not know
whether the girl was pretty, or not.

"Will you take some sauce, Walter?"

She had called him brother, so solemnly, and with such a mien! Of
course the lady in the portrait, with the sparkling diadem, would
hold out her hand the same way. Walter made an awkward gesture with
his hand.

"Salad?" asked Sietske.

"It will be crowded," said Mevrouw Holsma. "Everyone will want to see
the kings and princes. We haven't asked our guest yet if he wants to
go. We're going to the theatre; would you like to go with us?"

Walter was charmed at the prospect. He had never been in a theatre,
but had long wanted to see such a play as Leentje had described. He
cared nothing for kings. He would have given a dozen kings for one
baron carrying away a girl in the approved manner. The Glorioso
influence was still on him.

"We shall see half of the sovereigns of Europe," said Holsma, "and
a dozen candidates----"

Walter wondered what the candidates would do in the "comedy." Sietske

There was still plenty of time. Holsma was going out to see a patient
and promised to stop at Juffrouw Pieterse's.

For reasons of fashion and feminine finery the play was not to begin
till nine o'clock.

Walter heard that Femke, too, was to witness the performance; and from
the conversation he gathered that the relations existing between the
aristocratic family and the poor wash-girl were most cordial. Mevrouw
Holsma sent Sietske to ask Femke to come in; but Femke preferred to
remain with little Erich, with whom she was playing at the time.

"Erich?" thought Walter.

"I thought as much," said Mevrouw Holsma. "That's why she wasn't at
the table. She would rather stay with the baby."

"She says, too, that we sit at the table too long for her," added

"She wouldn't enjoy the play anyway," observed William. "She's a good
girl, but she's a little thick-headed. Don't you think so, mamma?"

"Everyone must act according to his own convictions, and consult his
own tastes. Femke is too good to be forced to anything."

There must have been some special reason why the mother was going
to the theatre with the rest, when she preferred to stay at home
with little Erich, who had the measles. But she was going to remain
"only a little while," and then come back with Uncle Sybrand. He
would return to the theatre taking Femke with him, if she cared to go.

"I call it thick-headedness," affirmed William. "She just don't want
to put on a fine dress."

"No, she doesn't want to be a fine lady," said the mother. "She is
very sensible and fears that this might disturb her relations with her
mother. We ought to have taken her when she was little; but Mrs. Claus
couldn't give her up then. And now Femke can't give herself up."

"She's only stubborn," William explained.

"She is proud," corrected his mother, "too proud to appear other than
she is. She wouldn't exchange places with a princess."

Uncle Sybrand came. He announced that the "Scylla" of Rotgans was to be
given, followed by "Chloris," with something else as a close. Holsma
had already returned, bringing Walter the assurance that it was all
right with his mother.

Walter was enchanted in anticipation. Was he still thinking of Femke?

William said: "So far as I'm concerned she can stay at home. Suppose
the students were to see me with a peasant girl! What would they do
for me when I enter college in September?"

Such an Amsterdamer calls everybody a "peasant," even if he is a
student and able to explain what sort of a "Scylla" that was.

All were now dressed and starting. Walter was to see his first
"comedy," and, perhaps, take a part in one.


Good Muse, sweet Muse, take us back to Pieterseville again. Whisper
to me and tell me what happened there during Walter's romantic
enchantment; and have a care that my language rises to the dignity
of the subject.

We know already, Clio, how the mistress of the castle saw her progeny
depart to protect the distressed lady from the nefarious attacks of
robbers and murderers; how her blessing and the consecrated blade were
withheld, and how the brave youth sallied forth with a nightcap his
only weapon. We know, too, how the bachelor Stoffel, the hereditary
custodian of the reputation of the family----

Ah, let us treat the matter quite simply, and leave the muse alone.

On the Friday evening in question Juffrouw Pieterse went to bed as
usual. The others did the same. There were no indications of bad
dreams. There was no trace of anxiety over the terrible danger to
which Walter had thoughtlessly exposed himself. This might have
been because they did not know of the danger. It had not been at
all necessary for Juffrouw Laps to conceal her intention so slyly
and always omit Walter's name from the knighthood of the Pieterse
family. Thanks to the stupidity of the family, she might have gained
her point without any finesse.

Saturday morning dawned, that morning on which Mrs. Claus applied
the restoratives so abundantly, and so efficaciously.

"I wonder where in the world the boy can be so long?" said the mother.

"I don't suppose he got up very early; and then maybe she had him to
read a chapter out of the Bible at breakfast."

This explanation by Stoffel quieted the family for half an hour.

"How would it do for you to go over there?" Juffrouw Pieterse proposed
at last.

"I'm not going, mother. You know it isn't on my way to school."

That was a sufficient reason. Never do anything that isn't on your
way--one of the favorite maxims of conservatism. Stoffel himself did
not know how profound was the wisdom of his political aphorism.

"How would it do, then, to send Leentje over to Juffrouw Laps's to
inquire about Walter?"

This proposal met with approval, and Leentje was dispatched forthwith.

Oh, poor Juffrouw Laps! She was "the most wretched woman in the world;"
and the room from which Walter had fled so suddenly was now the temple
of all the heterogeneous griefs and pains that novelists ever make
use of.

I will not place Walter above Joseph, Theseus, Jason or Hippolytos. May
Apollo preserve me from such blind partiality. Not by any means do I
regard my hero as the most interesting mortal that ever left a woman
in the lurch. No, not in Walter's worth do I seek for the measure
of the forsaken lady's despair. Indeed, Juffrouw Laps's pain was
not caused by any reflections as to the beauty or excellence of the
vanished knight. There was another element in the matter that was
filling her with horror and driving her to distraction. With all due
respect for the suffering of other abandoned ladies, Asnath, Ariadne,
Medea, Phaedra--but Juffrouw Laps had to face Walter's family. That
was the trouble.

Her fertile brain evolved the most wonderful plans. How would it do for
her to tell that he had been carried away in a fiery chariot before
the eyes of the people, like Elias of old? She discarded the idea,
for fear that no one would believe it.

At first she had waited at the window, watching for her little Theseus
to return. When she saw him no more she thought that perhaps the mob
had carried him off with them. That was not an unpleasant thought;
since her fear for his return to his family was greater than her
desire for his return to her. This is easily understood: what might
he not tell at home?

It was already daylight; but Juffrouw Laps knew that it was too early
to go to the Pieterses'. Besides, what would she say? That her little
knight had run away during the night? And why? Whither? How did she
know but that he had already told the story in all its details?

She determined--not to determine upon anything, and to leave the
matter with the "Master" for the present. With this pious resolve she
climbed into her maidenly bed; and, before falling asleep, she groaned:
"If the rascal had only broken his neck, like the high priest Eli,
in First Samuel, 4!"

No doubt the Master saw the distress of his faithful disciple and
taught her how to meet the situation that awaited her waking; for
Leentje soon returned with the assurance of Juffrouw Laps that Walter
was out taking a morning walk.

In a way, this was the truth. The Juffrouw merely neglected to add
why he was taking a walk, and at what hour in the morning he had gone
out. Leentje, suspecting nothing, asked no questions. For her it was a
"matter of course" that he would not go out in the middle of the night.

The family now regarded the incident as fresh evidence of Walter's
objectionable habit of roving, and nothing more. They felt no anxiety
for his personal safety.

"There it is again!" said the mother. "The trouble and vexation I
have with that boy. Anybody else would sit down for a while after
breakfast; but he--what does he do? He runs away before it's hardly
daylight. Is that any way to do, Stoffel?"

"No, mother."

"And to leave us here anxious and worrying over him!"

"Yes, mother."

"This is a nice caper he's cutting again. He knows very well that
we're all uneasy and won't have a minute's peace till he comes. God
only knows where he is."

Stoffel could not wait to hear more. It was time for him to go
to school.

It may be repeated that there was not a word of truth in all this
uneasiness and anxiety. The family considered such a display to be the
proper thing; though, for the rest, they did not manifest the slightest
interest in Walter's fate. For aught they knew some accident might
have happened to the boy; but, instead of making a serious effort to
find out what had become of him, his mother found it easier to accuse
him of indecorous conduct and general worthlessness.

Thus matters remained until Dr. Holsma's carriage drove up before
Juffrouw Pieterse's door that afternoon and Kaatje alighted with her
message. After the recent fright Walter had given her, she was glad
enough to escape from such close proximity to the young lunatic. For
thus she regarded him.

All rushed to the window.

"There he is; there he is!" cried the whole family in a breath, and
as loud as they could. "Did you ever! Really, he's sitting there in
Dr. Holsma's carriage."

This flattering observation banished everything else from their
thoughts, and made Kaatje's task an easy one. It was now a simple
matter for her to allay their fears. They were no longer concerned
to know where Walter had been. It was enough that he was now in
Dr. Holsma's carriage.

"Ate breakfast at the doctor's? Girl, you don't say so! And--and--why
isn't the coachman wearing his furs?"

Kaatje was dumbfounded and could only stammer some reference to the
season. In fact, the manner in which her message was being received
strengthened her worst suspicions of Walter's sanity. It seemed to
her that the entire family was a little "off."

"And he really ate breakfast at the doctor's? Do you understand,
Trudie? Ate breakfast at Dr. Holsma's!"

"Yes, he ate breakfast with us. To be sure he did. The doctor himself
said so."

"At Dr. Holsma's, and ate breakfast there?"

"Why, certainly. Where else?"

"And did he use the good manners I've taught him?"

"Of course, Juffrouw! But----"

"And is he now in the carriage with the doctor?"

"Why, Juffrouw--naturally!"

"Listen, my dear," continued the proud mother, "I am going to tell you
something; but you need not repeat it to anybody else. Don't you know,
that's an unusual child!"

"Yes," sighed Kaatje, thoroughly convinced, "I know it."

"You know it, don't you? And do you know why? I'm going to tell
you. He's an unusual child, because--Pietro, move away a little, and
you, too, Mina. Trudie, you can stay where you are, but pay attention
to your knitting!--he's an unusual child, don't you know, because,
before he was born, you understand----"

"Oh, Juffrouw!"

"Yes, my dear, I dreamed of a butterfly; and it was dragging off an
elephant! You understand now?"

"Oh, yes, Juffrouw. I understand exactly."

"Don't you see? That's the reason. Give the doctor my politest regards,
and thank him for me. If he's only well-behaved--I mean Walter. And
the coachman wears such a fur cap only in the winter?"

Kaatje managed to escape, fully resolved never to dream of elephants
and butterflies. Such an indulgence seemed to her to be particularly
dangerous; for she now began to think in all seriousness that the
whole family was crazy, and that what she had seen in Walter was
merely a sample of the general disorder.

When a few hours later the doctor himself stopped at Juffrouw
Pieterse's, her joy over Walter's exaltation know no bounds. Holsma
took note of the stupid woman's foibles and follies, and resolved
to prescribe an intellectual diet for Walter that would counteract
their influence.

Poor Juffrouw Laps! If she had only known how happily everything
had turned out, how much worry she might have spared herself! In the
seclusion of her own room she was still quoting the Bible and fighting
for her honor.


The reader is now invited to return to the theatre party, from which
he was called suddenly away by the anxiety experienced in certain
quarters over Walter's disappearance.

The family took their seats, in the parquet this time, having had to
give up their box to visiting potentates. The box was still unoccupied.

"A comedy!" Walter thought. He looked about him and listened.

The house was crowded, and everyone was talking. Backstairs gossip and
court scandals were passed around. People were wondering who would
sit there, and who would sit there. Later arrivals were pushing at
one another and quarreling about seats.

"The programs for the princes are printed on silk. What do you suppose
it cost a yard?"

"Rotgans is one of the first poets!"

"Hm! Better say one of the second."

"He's a poet of the seventh class."

"Why, then, one of his plays? We have poets whose song is as clear
as a bell!"

"Of course, Bilderdyk! A Phoenix!"

"Oh, these foreigners don't understand a word of it anyway, and it
doesn't make any difference what the play is."

"It's a pity about Floris."

"Oh, there's something behind that."

"Yes, Bilderdyk is a patriot."

"A genuine Hollander!"

"A genuine----"

"He will give those foreigners something to think about."

"Sh!---- ... not much flattery. No Hollander is going to do that."


Everybody stood up. A footman appeared in the royal box, probably to
see whether the cushions were straight on the chairs, or not.

"The idea, the very idea of standing up before a lackey!"

It was enough to make them indignant; but they had done it, even
those who protested loudest. There were city aldermen in the number,
and doctors, and professors, and prominent business men, including,
perhaps, the great Kopperlith.

Another period of babbling and waiting; then another footman
appeared. Again everybody sprang to his feet. Again all, except the
silent Holsmas, railed at such stupidity.

The crowd became more restless. Innumerable times were they fooled by
some footman or other, who opened a door to break the monotony. The
people were already beginning to complain, but softly, cautiously.

Walter was carried away with the elegance and magnificence of it
all. One thing, however, jarred upon his sense of propriety: he
wondered how such swell folk could say such commonplace things. The
Holsmas said nothing. Only once, when Uncle Sybrand pointed to a
certain box, did they join in the general hubbub.

"She will sit there, I think."

"I shall be sorry if I have left little Erich all for nothing,"
said Mevrouw Holsma.

"He's safe with Femke."

"Yes, but I had rather be with him myself. The child is sick. I'm
not going to wait much longer."

"It's doubtful whether she will come with the others. I've heard that
she's full of moods and mischief. She cares nothing for convention. It
seems to run in the blood."

"If she isn't here by ten o'clock I'm going. I don't care much about
it, anyway."

This conversation occupied Walter for a short time. Who was this person
on whose account Mevrouw Holsma had left the bedside of her sick child?

The tension of expectancy was broken, and a momentary excitement pulsed
through the multitude. All arose to their feet, and remained standing.

An emperor, or something of the kind, entered the royal box. Walter
could see little; but he inferred what was going on from whisperings
he heard about him. His majesty had made a quick rush for his chair,
turning over a few other chairs in so doing. That was a habit of
his. Then he looked about the auditorium for a moment with squinted
eyes, jerked up his chair and fell into it. He was in a hurry. The
public was now at liberty to take their seats.

The other boxes were now filled quickly, as if by a stroke of
magic. Remarkable costumes were on exhibition. There were bodices three
inches wide, with skirts of as many yards. Voluptuous bosoms hovered
between chin and girdle. Scanty sleevelets did not know whether they
were to cover arms or shoulders. The ladies wore kid gloves reaching to
their armpits, and on their heads were turbans and flower-gardens. The
uniforms of the gentlemen were even more conspicuous. Those shakos! The
enemy would have run at the sight of them.

The orchestra began to play. It was that song about the brave Dunois,
of course.

"Arise!" someone called; and all scrambled to their feet again in
honor of the brave hero.

The curtain went up.

    "Yes, Minos, on the present that I gave to thee----
    'Twas stolen from the church----"

"What church?" asked Walter.

"Sh!" from William. "Poetic license. You will see how it is."

    "----hangs Nisus' crown and life."

"Qu'est-ze qu'elle changte?" cried the countess-palatine. Then she
let herself out on costumes, speaking in a noisy voice.

Walter listened like a finch. Not that he understood very well;
but everything strange interested him intensely.

Not a soul was touched by the tragic bravery of King Minos; no one was
listening. Poor Rotgans! Afterwards it was said that Napoleon had been
especially pleased with "our Snoel" and with "our Watlier." Goodness,
Napoleon! When he was to be crowned he had Talma the mimic to drill
him for the ceremony--instead of saying to Talma: "Look, this is the
way an emperor appears when he's crowned!"

Walter listened attentively; even though he sometimes felt that he
could make such verses himself.

During the performance another commotion arose. One of their majesties
had asked for a glass of orange lemonade; and this was something the
buffetier did not have. A runner was dispatched to the drug-store
post haste. He returned with a bottle of lemon-syrup. The situation
became threatening. The news spread like fire that they were making a
"Majesty" wait for such a trifle. King Minos declared:

    "Feelings of pleasure thrill my inner man--"

"De l'eau de fleur d'orange! que diantre!" cried a chamberlain. And
Minos noticed that nobody was interested in what was going on in
his interior.

A confectioner up on "Olympus" allowed his light to flash out and
gave some valuable information; but the police had him by the collar
in a jiffy. He was to be dragged away and put in confinement for
the present. The technical charge was, "Making a demonstration for
the House of Orange." At that time the House of Orange was in exile,
and Napoleon's brother was king of Holland.

    "Feelings of pleasure thrill my inner man--"

repeated Minos with gusto. The conductor of the orchestra seized his
baton and was going to play, "Hail to the Emperor." Many stood up in
readiness to escape in case of danger.

In the meantime the prisoner was screaming as if he were possessed;
but the two Italian police that Napoleon had brought with him could
not understand a word.

The emperor himself had forgotten that he had called for orange water
and was now engrossed in a military map.

"Qu' a-t-il?" he seemed to be asking the lady next to him.

Minos had begun again and was once more repeating his assurance that
"feelings of pleasure thrill----"

Walter noted that the grown-up members of the Holsma party did not
pay the slightest attention to the play.

"If she doesn't come soon, I'm going," Mevrouw Holsma repeated.

"Perhaps she's sitting further back in the emperor's box, where we
can't see her."

"I've heard that in Paris she never stays fifteen minutes in the same
place. Maybe we shall find her somewhere else," remarked another.

"I am not going to wait but five minutes longer. My little Erich is
worth more to me than a thousand cousins----"

"Of the king," added Holsma.

Walter had thought that they meant Femke. What, then, could be so
interesting about the princess? The boxes were full of them.

At the close of the third act Mevrouw Holsma left with Uncle Sybrand,
who was to return with Femke. "If she will come," he said. "For she
cares nothing for such a fuss."

Walter knew better. Uncle Sybrand ought to have seen her in the
"Juniper Berry." But a knight tells no tales.

Old Minos is insanely in love with Ismene, who is so beautiful
and virtuous. Scylla is insanely in love with Minos, who is old and
dignified. Ismene is in love with Focus, who is a hero; and, possibly,
Focus loves Ismene, though he does not treat her quite gallantly. He
says to her:

    "Princess, thy reasons spare: to me they're odious!"

The tumult on Mount Olympus began afresh. Had the rebellious
confectioner returned? All eyes were directed toward the gallery. A
policeman in uniform was seen remonstrating in vain with some men
on the front seat. In order to make them understand his French, or
Italian, he was pulling at their arms. They were to understand that
he did not want to arrest them, or kill them, but merely wanted them
to give up their seats.

    "Princess, thy reasons spare: to me they're odious!"

"Qu' y a-t-il encore?" asked the emperor again; and, when one of the
chamberlains answered his question, he laughed heartily. Heads were
together everywhere. Something interesting was going forward on Mount
Olympus. People whispered and tittered and laughed outright. Their
eyes were fastened on the gallery. Even the emperor stood up and
leaned out of his box. But it did no good: he could not see around
the corner. He was surprised at this.

The countess-palatine, however, had got to the bottom of the
matter. She was exchanging telegraphic messages with someone in the
background on Mount Olympus. No one was thinking of Rotgans' play.

She was greeting someone with that famous fan. Whom? The rebellious
confectioner? With arms extended she was testifying that there was
something extraordinary up there among that rabble.

    "Princess, thy reasons spare: to me they're odious!"

The countess-palatine threw off all restraint, and laughed and
laughed. After the emperor had laughed hilarity was permissible. Her
pleasure was beyond her control.

I should have to have a double pen to report what Uncle Sybrand said
on his return, and, at the same time, reproduce the exclamation that
escaped Walter, who was looking towards the gallery with eyes and
mouth wide open.

"Where is Femke?" asked Holsma.

"She didn't want to come," replied Uncle Sybrand. "Just as I said."

"There she is!" cried Walter.


"Femke, M'neer, Femke, Femke--that is Femke! And she----"

The girl above had taken hold of the policeman by the collar and,
pushing him to one side, had pressed forward to the front row. There
she had seated herself on the laps of the fellows the policeman had
been negotiating with in vain.

"It is Femke, M'neer. If only they don't hurt her!"

Again the emperor stood up and stared at Mount Olympus. He saw the girl
with the North Holland cap and nodded to her. The countess-palatine
greeted again with her fan, as if she would congratulate her on
securing the seat.

"But, M'neer, it is Femke," cried Walter, amazed that he received
no answer.

Even Holsma and Sybrand were surprised, but not so much so as Walter.

"Now, children," said Holsma, "you can tell your mother that we saw
her." And to Walter he continued, "That girl is a relation of ours."

"Yes, Femke!"

"No, that isn't her name; and----"

"M'neer, don't I know Femke?"

That sounded quite different from what Walter had said that evening
when he "denied" her.

The girl's big blue eyes, roving about the hall, suddenly fell on
Walter. She bent over, looked him attentively in the face, then nodded
to him and threw him a kiss.

At least, he thought it was that way; and it was that way. But everyone
in the parquet thought that the kiss had been intended for him. Folk
of quality were annoyed at the insolence of the peasant wench; while
more "sporty" persons returned the attention.

Soon hissing was heard. The news had leaked out that Princess Erika,
the cousin of the king, had dressed in the national costume to show
her affection for the people.

"Don't you believe it, M'neer? I tell you that is Femke," Walter
assured him with tears in his eyes.

"No, no, my boy. That girl is not Femke."

"But, she greeted me!"

"You saw the emperor greet her; and you know he would not salute
a wash-girl."

That was perhaps true; but it was hard for Walter to accept it. And,
on the other hand, it was just as hard for him to believe that the
princess was a cousin of the Holsmas.

Again he imagined that the girl was nodding to him and motioning her
lips. It looked to him as if she said: "My brother!" Walter lisped
the words after her and pressed both hands to his breast.

Yes, now he had it! They considered him a little daft and wanted
to cure him of his fixed idea. That would explain the visit to the
theatre and also Femke's alleged unwillingness to come with Uncle
Sybrand. But--how did she dare to interfere with the policeman? And
the greeting from the emperor? And how did Holsma know that he had
"denied" Femke, and that her presence could threaten his peace of mind?

"Oh, M'neer, let Femke sit here! I will be perfectly quiet. I am so
afraid she will get hurt up there among those men."

Holsma looked at him wistfully. After all, could Kaatje have been
right about it? He sought to distract Walter's attention by referring
to other things; but it was useless.

"All right," said Holsma at last "I just wanted to tease you a
little. Femke is sitting up there, because she--doesn't wish to sit
here. She thinks that it wouldn't be proper, because she's only a
wash-girl. She's afraid we would be ashamed. You see?"

"M'neer, no one need be ashamed to sit by her. Not even the emperor."

"Yes, yes," agreed Holsma. "Quite so. Femke is a brave girl and
doesn't need to cringe before anybody. Watch the play, my boy."

Walter was willing to do what the doctor said, but not without taking
leave of that glorious apparition. He looked up; and she smiled to
him again. Then she took from her breast a rose branch, with three
buds on it, held it a moment between the forefinger and thumb of her
left hand, pointed to Walter with her right and let it fall.

The rosebuds landed on the bald pate of a stout gentleman near the
Holsma party. He seized them and examined them admiringly; but, before
he could decide what to do with them, Walter had sprung over half a
dozen chairs and deprived him of the precious property. With a glance
toward Olympus, Walter pressed the roses to his lips. Princess Erika
nodded approval; and the playful countess-palatine applauded lustily.

That was more than Walter could bear. He had never forgiven himself
for denying her; but she, the noble, the big-hearted, the majestic
one!--she had proclaimed her pardon publicly before the people. And
that was why she preferred to sit in the gallery. She had washed
away the black spots from his soul; she had restored his soiled
chivalry. These thoughts flashed through Walter's mind like lightning.

He sank to the floor in a faint. But was it any wonder?

The Holsmas took him home with them for the night; and another message
was sent to Juffrouw Pieterse.

"Don't you see, Stoffel? Just as I said! I don't care if everybody
knows it. He's simply living at Dr. Holsma's. Trudie, don't forget when
Leentje goes to the grocer's---- Upon my soul, he's at Dr. Holsma's
all the time!"


The next morning, Sunday, the doctor invited Walter into his study. He
spoke to him sympathetically and encouraged the boy to lay his case
before him; though he avoided everything that might make Walter believe
that his experiences were anything extraordinary. He already knew
more about it than Walter could tell. Even Walter's adventure with
Juffrouw Laps was perfectly transparent to him. There was nothing
lost to him because of the boy's lack of skill in handling the story.

While Walter poured out to him his inner experiences, Holsma listened
quietly, as if it was all familiar to him. Walter's reverence and
passion for the good he interpreted as a commonplace phenomenon
incident to budding youth. He treated the boy's love for Femke as an
ordinary matter. He admitted that it had been exactly the same way
with him when he was a boy--a method that few parents and educators
seem to be familiar with.

"Certainly, certainly, my boy. In such moods a fellow would like
to be everywhere at the same time, ruling, regulating and putting
things into order. He feels that he's responsible for everything;
and it hurts him to see so much crookedness in the world. I know very
well how it is. But you must consider the means and remedies at your
disposal. How are you going to begin to improve things?"

Walter was silent.

"Do you think that everyone is bad? I suppose you hardly think
that. There are plenty of people in the world who wish for the same
things that you are worrying about. Why don't they change the world?"

Again Walter was silent. The very simplicity with which Holsma put
the question disconcerted him.

"I will try to help you out. Do you believe that I am a good man?"

"Oh, yes!" cried Walter enthusiastically.

"You think so? Well, I think so too. I should be ashamed not to be
able to say that. Why don't I reform the world? You often speak of
Africa. That's because you don't know that country, my boy. And I, who
am a good man, have not abolished slavery. Why not, do you suppose?"

Walter returned no answer. Holsma was busy with a surgical
operation. Is it any wonder that the patient tried to withdraw the
member that was being cut away?

"I will present the matter to you differently. Do you hear that
knocking and hammering? Listen! That comes from the blacksmith's shop
over there. It isn't so bad on Sunday; but you can easily imagine
that the noise sometimes disturbs me."

"In case of sickness!"

"Yes, and also when I wish to think. And then I should like to see the
blacksmiths swept away--quick--just like that! But why don't I do it?"

"Because--because you can't, M'neer."

"Quite right. For the same reason I have not yet corrected any of the
wrongs in Africa. Nor in Asia; nor in America; nor in other countries
that I might mention. But yesterday evening, when you were taken sick
in the theatre, I brought you home with me and put you to bed. Then
I sent a messenger to quiet your mother. That was my duty, wasn't it?

"No thanks, my boy. It seemed to me to be my duty; and I did
it--because I could. Whatever is impossible, is not my duty; and
that's the reason I don't take those blacksmiths between my thumb
and forefinger and transport them to some other clime. For the same
reason I don't fret over doings in Africa. Impossible duty is no duty;
and running after the impossible interferes with the performance of
real duties. At school did you ever fail to know a lesson?"

"Oh yes, very often! But not lately; because Femke----"

"Leave Femke out of account for the present. I may say something
about her another time. When you were neglecting your books at school,
you were thinking of other things, things far removed from your work.

"That is a mistake that many young people make--don't be offended:
I did the same thing--and usually on account of laziness. It is more
convenient to imagine one's self soaring over the distant mountain
top than to lift a foot and step over the stone just in front of
one. Of all the million things that you would like to do there are
only a very few that you can do. Busy yourself with these few. That
is the way to succeed. Whatever comes up, always ask: 'What is my
immediate duty?' Will you promise to do this?"

Walter gave Holsma his hand on it.

"And you would like to know more, my boy? I would, too. What lies
before you? Well, you are behind in your studies. Other boys of your
age know more. We will speak of that again, however; for that is
something to be attended to later, and does not come under the head of
immediate duty. That smattering of Latin, for which you envy William,
you can acquire in a few months, when once you've learned how to use
your will. The enemies you have to fight now are quite different from
the knights of your romances. Do not underestimate the difficulties
you will have to contend with. That might result in your defeat. You
must learn to use your intellectual faculties at will; and keep a firm
grip on 'Fancy,' or else she will throw you head over heels. Dreaming
is not living."

Walter nodded assent.

"True manliness," Holsma continued, "means, to do what has to be done,
no difference how insignificant it may be. What would you think of a
lot of knights, who let tramps beat them over the heads because their
code of honor did not allow them to fight with tramps? You are going
into business now: come to me in a month and tell me if you have kept
your word. Then we will speak further; but--that first! Will you?"

"Certainly I shall keep my word, M'neer. But, M'neer, may I ask----?"

"About Femke? Well, that is a good, brave girl. She's a cousin
of mine."

"But how did she happen to be----?"

"The young lady in the theatre wasn't Femke. That was Princess
Erika. We wanted to see her because her ancestors were related to
ours. You rogue, you! There was nothing special about that."

"A real princess?"

"Yes; and Femke is a real wash-girl. I hope that Princess Erika has as
admirable a character as Femke. But don't attribute too much importance
to this, my boy. Such differences in related families are of frequent
occurrence, whether one notices them, or not. There was a time when
Erika's forefathers dressed themselves in skins; and mine did the
same. We don't know whether she is aware that she has relations here
or not. Uncle Sybrand found out--well, he takes a sort of pleasure
in tracing out the identity of opposites. Rightly understood, the
world is smaller than you imagine; everything is a link in the same
sequence. Who knows but that you may turn the course of history
to-morrow, when you go to work for--what is the style of the firm?"

"Ouwetyd & Kopperlith."

"Yes, when you go to work for Ouwetyd & Kopperlith. But, whether it's
to be an historical event, or not, perform your immediate duty. That
is the chivalrous, manly thing for you to do--if you will take my
advice. Will you?"

"Yes, M'neer! But--Femke?"

"There you go again! She has nothing to do with your immediate
duty. The lady that you must attend upon and serve faithfully is--who?"

"Do you mean 'Business'?"

"Right. If you are determined to know more about Femke, I will tell
you what she says. She says that for the present you must think of
nothing but your work."

"Oh, I will, I will!"

"For about ten years."

"Ten years? Ten?"

"Yes, that is what she said when she heard how little you know and
how little you can do."

"Ten years?"

"Yes, that is what she said. Perhaps eight, perhaps twelve, perhaps
twenty. One cannot say exactly beforehand. You understand that,
don't you?"

"Ten years!"

"So she said."

"I will!"

"Good. It will give me pleasure--and Femke, too. Don't imagine it
will be particularly difficult. Ten years ago thousands began just
where you will begin to-morrow; and they are still alive. So, you see,
it can be done. Besides, think only of the first month; and then the
time will seem shorter. I shall expect you to come to see me in about
a month; then we shall have more to say."

Before Walter left, he promised again to banish all boyish follies
from his thoughts. But he put away the rosebuds; and he kept them.

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use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.