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Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

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who appeared as knowing as any Puss-in-Boots, and a brass gnome
in the hall whose business it was to stand with outstretched arms
ready to receive sticks and umbrellas. Safe within the walls
bloomed a Garden of Delight, where the flowers firmly believed it
was summer, and a sparkling fountain was laughing merrily to
itself because Jack Frost could not find it. There was a
Sleeping Beauty, too, just at the time of the boys' arrival, but
when Peter, like a true prince, flew lightly up the stairs and
kissed her eyelids, the enchantment was broken. The princess
became his own good sister, and the fairy castle just one of the
finest, most comfortable houses of The Hague.

As may well be believed, the boys received the heartiest of
welcomes. After they had conversed awhile with their lively
hostess, one of the genii summoned them to a grand repast in a
red-curtained room, where floor and ceiling shone like polished
ivory, and the mirrors suddenly blossomed into rosy-cheeked boys
as far as the eye could reach.

They had caviar now, and salmagundi, and sausage and cheese,
besides salad and fruit and biscuit and cake. How the boys could
partake of such a medley was a mystery to Ben, for the salad was
sour, and the cake was sweet; the fruit was dainty, and the
salmagundi heavy with onions and fish. But, while he was
wondering, he made a hearty meal, and was soon absorbed in
deciding which he really preferred, the coffee or the anisette
cordial. It was delightful too--this taking one's food from
dishes of frosted silver and liqueur glasses from which Titania
herself might have sipped. The young gentleman afterward wrote
to his mother that, pretty and choice as things were at home, he
had never known what cut glass, china, and silver services were
until he visited The Hague.

Of course, Peter's sister soon heard all of the boys' adventures.
How they had skated over forty miles and seen rare sights on the
way; how they had lost their purse and found it again. How one
of the party had fallen and given them an excuse for a grand sail
in an ice boat; how, above all, they had caught a robber and so,
for a second time, saved their slippery purse.

"And now, Peter," said the lady when the story was finished, "you
must write at once to tell the good people of Broek that your
adventures have reached their height, that you and your fellow
travelers have all been taken prisoners."

The boys looked startled.

"Indeed, I shall do no such thing," laughed Peter. "We must
leave tomorrow at noon."

But the sister had already decided differently, and a Holland
lady is not to be easily turned from her purpose. In short, she
held forth such strong temptations and was so bright and cheerful
and said so many coaxing and unanswerable things, both in English
and Dutch, that the boys were all delighted when it was settled
that they should remain at The Hague for at least two days.

Next the grand skating race was talked over; Mevrouw van Gend
gladly promised to be present on the occasion. "I shall witness
your triumph, Peter," she said, "for you are the fastest skater I
ever knew."

Peter blushed and gave a slight cough as Carl answered for him.

"Ah, mevrouw, he is swift, but all the Broek boys are fine
skaters--even the rag pickers," and he thought bitterly of poor

The lady laughed. "That will make the race all the more
exciting," she said. "But I shall wish each of you to be the

At this moment her husband Mynheer van Gend came in, and the
enchantment falling upon the boys was complete.

The invisible fairies of the household at once clustered about
them, whispering that Jasper van Gend had a heart as young and
fresh as their own, and if he loved anything in this world more
than industry, it was sunshine and frolic. They hinted also
something about his having a hearty full of love and a head full
of wisdom and finally gave the boys to understand that when
mynheer said a thing, he meant it.

Therefore his frank "Well, now, this is pleasant," as he shook
hands with them all, made the boys feel quite at home and as
happy as squirrels.

There were fine paintings in the drawing room and exquisite
statuary, and portfolios filled with rare Dutch engravings,
besides many beautiful and curious things from China and Japan.
The boys felt that it would require a month to examine all the
treasures of the apartment.

Ben noticed with pleasure English books lying upon the table. He
saw also over the carved upright piano, life-sized portraits of
William of Orange and his English queen, a sight that, for a
time, brought England and Holland side by side in his heart.
William and Mary have left a halo round the English throne to
this day, he the truest patriot that ever served an adopted
country, she the noblest wife that ever sat upon a British
throne, up to the time of Victoria and Albert the Good. As Ben
looked at the pictures he remembered accounts he had read of King
William's visit to The Hague in the winter of 1691. He who sang
the Battle of Ivry had not yet told the glowing story of that
day, but Ben knew enough of it to fancy that he could almost hear
the shouts of the delighted populace as he looked from the
portraits to the street, which at this moment was aglow with a
bonfire, kindled in a neighboring square.

That royal visit was one never to be forgotten. For two years
William of Orange had been monarch of a foreign land, his head
working faithfully for England, but his whole heart yearning for
Holland. Now, when he sought its shores once more, the entire
nation bade him welcome. Multitudes flocked to The Hague to meet
him--"Many thousands came sliding or skating along the frozen
canals from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leyden, Haarlem, Delft."
*{Macaulay's History of England.} All day long the festivities
of the capital were kept up, the streets were gorgeous with
banners, evergreen arches, trophies, and mottoes of welcome and
emblems of industry. William saw the deeds of his ancestors and
scenes of his own past life depicted on banners and tapestries
along the streets. At night superb fireworks were displayed upon
the ice. Its glassy surface was like a mirror. Sparkling
fountains of light sprang up from below to meet the glittering
cascades leaping upon it. Then a feathery fire of crimson and
green shook millions of rubies and emeralds into the ruddy depths
of the ice--and all this time the people were shouting, "God
bless William of Orange! Long live the king!" They were half
mad with joy and enthusiasm. William, their own prince, their
stadtholder, had become the ruler of three kingdoms; he had been
victorious in council and in war, and now, in his hour of
greatest triumph, had come as a simple guest to visit them. he
king heard their shouts with a beating heart. It is a great
thing to be beloved by one's country. His English courtiers
complimented him upon his reception. "Yes," said he, "but the
shouting is nothing to what it would have been if Mary had been
with me!"

While Ben was looking at the portraits, Mynheer van Gend was
giving the boys an account of a recent visit to Antwerp. As it
was the birthplace of Quentin Matsys, the blacksmith who for love
of an artist's daughter studied until he became a great painter,
the boys asked their host if he had seen any of Matsys' works.

"Yes, indeed," he replied, and excellent they are. His famous
triptych in a chapel of the Antwerp cathedral, with the Descent
from the Cross on the center panel, is especially fine, but I
confess I was more interested in his well."

"What well, mynheer?" asked Ludwig.

One in the heart of the city, near this same cathedral, whose
lofty steeple is of such delicate workmanship that the French
emperor said it reminded him of Mechlin lace. The well is
covered with a Gothic canopy surmounted by the figure of a knight
in full armor. It is all of metal and proves that Matsys was an
artist at the forge as well as at the easel; indeed, his great
fame is mainly derived from his miraculous skill as an artificer
in iron."

Next, mynheer showed the boys some exquisite Berlin castings,
which he had purchased in Antwerp. They were IRON JEWELRY, and
very delicate--beautiful medallions designed from rare
paintings, bordered with fine tracery and open work--worthy, he
said, of being worn by the fairest lady of the land.
Consequently the necklace was handed with a bow and a smile to
the blushing Mevrouw van Gend.

Something in the lady's aspect, as she bent her bright young face
over the gift, caused mynheer to say earnestly, "I can read your
thoughts, sweetheart."

She looked up in playful defiance.

"Ah, now I am sure of them! You were thinking of those
noblehearted women, but for whom Prussia might have fallen. I
know it by that proud light in your eye."

"The proud light in my eye plays me false, then," she answered.
"I had no such grand matter in my mind. To confess the simple
truth, I was only thinking how lovely this necklace would be with
my blue brocade."

"So, so!" exclaimed the rather crestfallen spouse.

"But I CAN think of the other, Jasper, and it will add a deeper
value to your gift. You remember the incident, do you not,
Peter? How when the French were invading Prussia and for lack of
means the country was unable to defend itself against the enemy,
the women turned the scale by pouring their plate and jewels into
the public treasury--"

Aha! thought mynheer as he met his vrouw's kindling glance. The
proud light is there now, in earnest.

Peter remarked maliciously that the women had still proved true
to their vanity on that occasion, for jewelry they would have.
If gold or silver were wanted by the kingdom, they would
relinquish it and use iron, but they could not do without their

"What of that?" said the vrouw, kindling again. "It is no sin
to love beautiful things if you adapt your material to
circumstances. All I have to say is, the women saved their
country and, indirectly, introduced a very important branch of
manufacture. Is not that so, Jasper?"

"Of course it is, sweetheart," said mynheer, "but Peter needs no
word of mine to convince him that all the world over women have
never been found wanting in their country's hour of trial,
though"--(bowing to mevrouw)--"his own country women stand
foremost in the records of female patriotism and devotion."

Then, turning to Ben, the host talked with him in English of the
fine old Belgian city. Among other things he told the origin of
its name. Ben had been taught that Antwerp was derived from
ae'nt werf (on the wharf), but Mynheer van Gend gave him a far
more interesting derivation.

It appears that about three thousand years ago, a great giant,
named Antigonus, lived on the river Scheld, on the site of the
present city of Antwerp. This giant claimed half the merchandise
of all navigators who passed his castle. Of course, some were
inclined to oppose this simple regulation. In such cases,
Antigonus, by way of teaching them to practice better manners
next time, cut off and threw into the river the rights hands of
the merchants. Thus handwerpen (or hand-throwing), changed to
Antwerp, came to be the name of the place. The escutcheon or
arms of the city has two hands upon it; what better proof than
this could one have of the truth of the story, especially when
one wishes to believe it!

When Mynheer van Gend had related in two languages this story of
Antwerp, he was tempted to tell other legends--some in English,
some in Dutch; and so the moments, borne upon the swift shoulders
of gnomes and giants, glided rapidly away toward bedtime.

It was hard to break up so pleasant a party, but the Van Gend
household moved with the regularity of clockwork. There was no
lingering at the threshold when the cordial "Good night!" was
spoken. Even while our boys were mounting the stairs, the
invisible household fairies again clustered around them,
whispering that system and regularity had been chief builders of
the master's prosperity.

Beautiful chambers with three beds in them were not to be found
in this mansion. Some of the rooms contained two, but each
visitor slept alone. Before morning, the motto of the party
evidently was, "Every boy his own chrysalis," and Peter, at
least, was not sorry to have it so.

Tired as he was, Ben, after noting a curious bell rope in the
corner, began to examine his bedclothes. Each article filled him
with astonishment--the exquisitely fine pillow spread trimmed
with costly lace and embroidered with a gorgeous crest and
initial, the dekbed cover (a great silk bag, large as the bed,
stuffed with swan's down), and the pink satin quilts, embroidered
with garlands of flowers. He could scarcely sleep for thinking
what a queer little bed it was, so comfortable and pretty, too,
with all its queerness. In the morning he examined the top
coverlet with care, for he wished to send home a description of
it in his next letter. It was a beautiful Japanese spread,
marvelous in texture as well as in its variety of brilliant
coloring, and worth, as Ben afterward learned, not less than
three hundred dollars.

The floor was of polished wooden mosaic, nearly covered with a
rich carpet bordered with thick black fringe. Another room
displayed a margin of satinwood around the carpet. Hung with
tapestry, its walls of crimson silk were topped with a gilded
cornice which shot down gleams of light far into the polished

Over the doorway of the room in which Jacob and Ben slept was a
bronze stork that, with outstretched neck, held a lamp to light
the guests into the apartment. Between the two narrow beds of
carved whitewood and ebony, stood the household treasure of the
Van Gends, a massive oaken chair upon which the Prince of Orange
had once sat during a council meeting. Opposite stood a quaintly
carved clothespress, waxed and polished to the utmost and filled
with precious stores of linen; beside it a table holding a large
Bible, whose great golden clasps looked poor compared with its
solid, ribbed binding made to outlast six generations.

There was a ship model on the mantleshelf, and over it hung an
old portrait of Peter the Great, who, you know, once gave the
dockyard cats of Holland a fine chance to look at a king, which
is one of the special prerogatives of cats. Peter, though czar
of Russia, was not too proud to work as a common shipwright in
the dockyards of Saardam and Amsterdam, that he might be able to
introduce among his countrymen Dutch improvements in ship
building. It was this willingness to be thorough even in the
smallest beginnings that earned for him the title of Peter the

Peter the little (comparatively speaking) was up first, the next
morning; knowing the punctual habits of his brother-in-law, he
took good care that none of the boys should oversleep themselves.
A hard task he found it to wake Jacob Poot, but after pulling
that young gentleman out of bed, and, with Ben's help, dragging
him about the room for a while, he succeeded in arousing him.

While Jacob was dressing and moaning within him because the felt
slippers, provided him as a guest, were too tight for his swollen
feet, Peter wrote to inform their friends at Broek of the safe
arrival of his party at The Hague. He also begged his mother to
send word to Hans Brinker that Dr. Boekman had not yet reached
Leyden but that a letter containing Hans's message had been left
at the hotel where the doctor always lodged during his visits to
the city. "Tell him, also," wrote Peter, "that I shall call
there again, as I pass through Leyden. The poor boy seemed to
feel sure that 'the meester' would hasten to save his father,
but we, who know the gruff old gentleman better, may be confident
he will do no such thing. It would be a kindness to send a
visiting physician from Amsterdam to the cottage at once, if
Jufvrouw *{In Holland, women of the lower grades of society do
not take the title of Mrs. (or Mevrouw) when they marry, as with
us. They assume their husbands' names but are still called Miss
(Jufvrouw, pronounced Yuffrow).} Brinker will consent to receive
any but the great king of the meesters, as Dr. Boekman certainly

"You know, Mother," added Peter, "that I have always considered
Sister van Gend's house as rather quiet and lonely, but I assure
you, it is not so now. He says we make him wish that he had a
houseful of boys of his own. He has promised to let us ride on
his noble black horses. They are gentle as kittens, he says, if
one have but a firm touch at the rein. Ben, according to Jacob's
account, is a glorious rider, and your son Peter is not a very
bad hand at the business; so we two are to go out together this
morning mounted like knights of old. After we return, Brother
van Gend says he will lend Jacob his English pony and obtain
three extra horses; and all of the party are to trot about the
city in a grand cavalcade, led on by him. He will ride the black
horse which Father sent him from Friesland. My sister's pretty
roan with the long white tail is lame, and she will ride none
other; else she would accompany us. I could scarcely close my
eyes last night after Sister told me of the plan. Only the
thought of poor Hans Brinker and his sick father checked me, but
for that I could have sung for joy. Ludwig has given us a name
already--the Broek Cavalry. We flatter ourselves that we shall
make an imposing appearance, especially in single file. . . ."

The Broek Cavalry were not disappointed. Mynheer van Gend
readily procured good horses; and all the boys could ride, though
none was as perfect horsemen (or horseboys) as Peter and Ben.
They saw The Hague to their hearts' content, and The Hague saw
them--expressing its approbation loudly, through the mouths of
small boys and cart dogs; silently, through bright eyes that, not
looking very deeply into things, shone as they looked at the
handsome Carl and twinkled with fun as a certainly portly youth
with shaking cheeks rode past bumpetty, bumpetty, bump!

On their return, the boys pronounced the great porcelain stove in
the family sitting room a decidedly useful piece of furniture,
for they could gather around it and get warm without burning
their noses or bringing on chilblains. It was so very large
that, though hot elsewhere, it seemed to send out warmth by the
houseful. Its pure white sides and polished brass rings made it
a pretty object to look upon, notwithstanding the fact that our
ungrateful Ben, while growing thoroughly warm and comfortable
beside it, concocted a satirical sentence for his next letter, to
the effect that a stove in Holland must, of course, resemble a
great tower of snow or it wouldn't be in keeping with the oddity
of the country.

To describe all the boys saw and did on that day and the next
would render this little book a formidable volume indeed. They
visited the brass cannon foundry, saw the liquid fire poured into
molds, and watched the smiths, who, half naked, stood in the
shadow, like demons playing with flame. They admired the grand
public buildings and massive private houses, the elegant streets,
and noble Bosch--pride of all beauty-loving Hollanders. The
palace with its brilliant mosaic floors, its frescoed ceilings,
and gorgeous ornaments, filled Ben with delight; he was surprised
that some of the churches were so very plain--elaborate sometimes
in external architecture but bare and bleak within with their
blank, whitewashed walls.

If there were no printed record, the churches of Holland would
almost tell her story. I will not enter into the subject here,
except to say that Ben--who had read of her struggles and wrongs
and of the terrible retribution she had from time to time dealt
forth--could scarcely tread a Holland town without mentally
leaping horror-stricken over the bloody stepping-stones of its
history. He could not forget Philip of Spain nor the Duke of
Alva even while rejoicing in the prosperity that followed the
Liberation. He looked into the meekest of Dutch eyes for
something of the fire that once lit the haggard faces of those
desperate, lawless men who, wearing with pride the title of
"Beggars," which their oppressors had mockingly cast upon them,
became the terror of land and sea. In Haarlem he had wondered
that the air did not still resound with the cries of Alva's three
thousand victims. In Leyden his heart had swelled in sympathy as
he thought of the long procession of scarred and famished
creatures who after the siege, with Adrian van der Werf at their
head, tottered to the great church to sing a glorious anthem
because Leyden was free! He remembered that this was even before
they had tasted the bread brought by the Dutch ships. They would
praise God first, then eat. Thousands of trembling voices were
raised in glad thanksgiving. For a moment it swelled higher and
higher, then suddenly changed to sobbing--not one of all the
multitude could sing another note. But who shall say that
anthem, even to its very end, was not heard in heaven!

Here, in The Hague, other thoughts came to Ben--of how Holland in
later years unwillingly put her head under the French yoke, and
how, galled and lashed past endurance, she had resolutely jerked
it out again. He liked her for that. What nation of any spirit,
thought he, could be expected to stand such work, paying all her
wealth into a foreign treasury and yielding up the flower of her
youth under foreign conscription. It was not so very long ago,
either, since English guns had been heard booming close by in the
German Ocean; well--all the fighting was over at last. Holland
was a snug little monarchy now in her own right, and Ben, for
one, was glad of it. Arrived at this charitable conclusion, he
was prepared to enjoy to the utmost all the wonders of her
capital; he quite delighted Mynheer van Gend with his hearty and
intelligent interest--so, in fact, did all the boys, for a
merrier, more observant party never went sight-seeing.

Through the Hague

The picture gallery in the Maurits Huis, *{A building erected by
Prince Maurice of Nassau.} one of the finest in the world, seemed
to have only flashed by the boys during a two-hour visit, so much
was there to admire and examine. As for the royal cabinet of
curiosities in the same building, they felt that they had but
glanced at it, though they were there nearly half a day. It
seemed to them that Japan had poured all her treasures within its
walls. For a long period Holland, always foremost in commerce,
was the only nation allowed to have any intercourse with Japan.
One can well forego a journey to that country if he can but visit
the museum at The Hague.

Room after room is filled with collections from the Hermit
Empire--costumes peculiar to various ranks and pursuits, articles
of ornament, household utensils, weapons, armor, and surgical
instruments. There is also an ingenious Japanese model of the
Island of Desina, the Dutch factory in Japan. It appears almost
as the island itself would if seen through a reversed opera glass
and makes one feel like a Gulliver coming unexpectedly upon a
Japanese Lilliput. There you see hundreds of people in native
costumes, standing, kneeling, stooping, reaching--all at work, or
pretending to be--and their dwellings, even their very furniture,
spread out before you, plain as day. In another room a huge
tortoiseshell dollhouse, fitted up in Dutch style and inhabited
by dignified Dutch dolls, stands ready to tell you at a glance
how people live in Holland.

Gretel, Hilda, Katrinka, even the proud Rychie Korbes would have
been delighted with this, but Peter and his gallant band passed
it by without a glance. The war implements had the honor of
detaining them for an hour; such clubs, such murderous krits, or
daggers, such firearms, and, above all, such wonderful Japanese
swords, quite capable of performing the accredited Japanese feat
of cutting a man in two at a single stroke!

There were Chinese and other Oriental curiosities in the
collection. Native historical relics, too, upon which our young
Dutchmen gazed very soberly, though they were secretly proud to
show them to Ben.

There was a model of the cabin at Saardam in which Peter the
Great lived during his short career as ship-builder. Also,
wallets and bowls--once carried by the "Beggar" Confederates,
who, uniting under the Prince of Orange, had freed Holland from
the tyranny of Spain; the sword of Admiral van Speyk, who about
ten years before had perished in voluntarily blowing up his own
ship; and Van Tromp's armor with the marks of bullets upon it.
Jacob looked around, hoping to see the broom which the plucky
admiral fastened to his masthead, but it was not there. The
waistcoat which William Third *{William, Prince of Orange, who
became king of England, was a great-grandson of William the
Silent, Prince of Orange, who was murdered by Geraerts (or
Gerard) July 10, 1584.} of England wore during the last days of
his life, possessed great interest for Ben, and one and all gazed
with a mixture of reverence and horror-worship at the identical
clothing worn by William the Silent *{see above} when he was
murdered at Delft by Balthazar Geraerts. A tawny leather doublet
and plain surcoat of gray cloth, a soft felt hat, and a high
neck-ruff from which hung one of the "Beggars'" medals--these
were not in themselves very princely objects, though the doublet
had a tragic interest from its dark stains and bullet holes. Ben
could readily believe, as he looked upon the garments, that the
Silent Prince, true to his greatness of character, had been
exceedingly simple in his attire. His aristocratic prejudices
were, however, decidedly shocked when Lambert told him of the way
in which William's bride first entered The Hague.

"The beautiful Louisa de Coligny, whose father and former husband
both had fallen at the massacre of St. Bartholomew, was coming to
be fourth wife to the Prince, and of course," said Lambert, "we
Hollanders were too gallant to allow the lady to enter the town
on foot. No, sir, we sent--or rather my ancestors did--a clean,
open post-wagon to meet her, with a plank across it for her to
sit upon!"

"Very gallant indeed!" exclaimed Ben, with almost a sneer in his
polite laugh. "And she the daughter of an admiral of France."

"Was she? Upon my word, I had nearly forgotten that. But, you
see, Holland had very plain ways in the good old time; in fact,
we are a very simple, frugal people to this day. The Van Gend
establishment is a decided exception, you know."

"A very agreeable exception, I think," said Ben.

"Certainly, certainly. But, between you and me, Mynheer van
Gend, though he has wrought his own fortunes, can afford to be
magnificent and yet be frugal."

"Exactly so," said Ben profoundly, at the same time stroking his
upper lip and chin, which latterly he believed had been showing
delightful and unmistakable signs of coming dignities.

While tramping on foot through the city, Ben often longed for a
good English sidewalk. Here, as in the other towns, there was no
curb, no raised pavement for foot travelers, but the streets were
clean and even, and all vehicles were kept scrupulously within a
certain tract. Strange to say, there were nearly as many sleds
as wagons to be seen, though there was not a particle of snow.
The sleds went scraping over the bricks or cobblestones, some
provided with an apparatus in front for sprinkling water, to
diminish the friction, and some rendered less musical by means of
a dripping oil rag, which the driver occasionally applied to the

Ben was surprised at the noiseless way in which Dutch laborers do
their work. Even around the warehouses and docks there was no
bustle, no shouting from one to another. A certain twitch of the
pipe, or turn of the head, or, at most, a raising of the hand,
seemed to be all the signal necessary. Entire loads of cheeses
or herrings are pitched from cart or canalboat into the
warehouses without a word; but the passerby must take his chance
of being pelted, for a Dutchman seldom looks before or behind him
while engaged at work.

Poor Jacob Poot, who seemed destined to bear all the mishaps of
the journey, was knocked nearly breathless by a great cheese,
which a fat Dutchman was throwing to a fellow laborer, but he
recovered himself, and passed on without evincing the least
indignation. Ben professed great sympathy upon the occasion, but
Jacob insisted that it was "notting."

"Then why did you screw your face so when it hit you?"

"What for screw mine face?" repeated Jacob soberly. "Vy, it vash

"That what?" insisted Ben maliciously.

"Vy, de-de-vat you call dis, vat you taste mit de nose?"

Ben laughed. "Oh, you mean the smell."

"Yesh. Dat ish it," said Jacob eagerly. "It wash de shmell. I
draw mine face for dat!"

"Ha! ha!" roared Ben. "That's a good one. A Dutch boy smell a
cheese! You can never make me believe THAT!"

"Vell, it ish no matter," replied Jacob, trudging on beside Ben
in perfect good humor. "Vait till you hit mit cheese--dat ish

Soon he added pathetically, "Penchamin, I no likes to be call
Tuch--dat ish no goot. I bees a Hollander."

Just as Ben was apologizing, Lambert hailed him.

"Hold up! Ben, here is the fish market. There is not much to be
seen at this season. But we can take a look at the storks if you

Ben knew that storks were held in peculiar reverence in Holland
and that the bird figured upon the arms of the capital. He had
noticed cart wheels placed upon the roofs of Dutch cottages to
entice storks to settle upon them; he had seen their huge nests,
too, on many a thatched gable roof from Broek to The Hague. But
it was winter now. The nests were empty. No greedy birdlings
opened their mouths--or rather their heads--at the approach of a
great white-winged thing, with outstretched neck and legs,
bearing a dangling something for their breakfast. The long-bills
were far away, picking up food on African shores, and before they
would return in the spring, Ben's visit to the land of dikes
would be over.

Therefore he pressed eagerly forward, as Van Mounen led the way
through the fish market, anxious to see if storks in Holland were
anything like the melancholy specimens he had seen in the
Zoological Gardens of London.

It was the same old story. A tamed bird is a sad bird, say what
you will. These storks lived in a sort of kennel, chained by the
feet like felons, though supposed to be honored by being kept at
the public expense. In summer they were allowed to walk about
the market, where the fish stalls were like so many free dining
saloons to them. Untasted delicacies in the form of raw fish and
butcher's offal lay about their kennels now, but the city guests
preferred to stand upon one leg, curving back their long necks
and leaning their heads sidewise, in a blinking reverie. How
gladly they would have changed their petted state for the busy
life of some hardworking stork mother or father, bringing up a
troublesome family on the roof of a rickety old building where
flapping wind-mills frightened them half to death every time they
ventured forth on a frolic!

Ben soon made up his mind, and rightly, too, that The Hague with
its fine streets and public parks shaded with elms, was a
magnificent city. The prevailing costume was like that of London
or Paris, and his British ears were many a time cheered by the
music of British words. The shops were different in many
respects from those on Oxford Street and the Strand, but they
often were illumined by a printed announcement that English was
"spoken within." Others proclaimed themselves to have London
stout for sale, and one actually promised to regale its customers
with English roast beef.

Over every possible shop door was the never-failing placard,
TABAK TE KOOP (tobacco to be sold). Instead of colored glass
globes in the windows, or high jars of leeches, the drugstores
had a gaping Turk's head at the entrance--or, if the
establishment was particularly fine, a wooden mandarin entire,
indulging in a full yawn.

Some of these queer faces amused Ben exceedingly; they seemed to
have just swallowed a dose of physic, but Van Mounen declared he
could not see anything funny about them. A druggist showed his
sense by putting a Gaper before his door, so that his place
would be known at once as an apotheek and that was all there was
to it.

Another thing attracted Ben--the milkmen's carts. These were
small affairs, filled with shiny brass kettles, or stone jars,
and drawn by dogs. The milkman walked meekly beside his cart,
keeping his dog in order, and delivering the milk to customers.
Certain fish dealers had dogcarts, also, and when a herring dog
chanced to meet a milk dog, he invariably put on airs and growled
as he passed him. Sometimes a milk dog would recognize an
acquaintance before another milk cart across the street, and then
how the kettles would rattle, especially if they were empty!
Each dog would give a bound and, never caring for his master's
whistle, insist upon meeting the other halfway. Sometimes they
contented themselves with an inquisitive sniff, but generally the
smaller dog made an affectionate snap snap at the larger one's
ear, or a friendly tussle was engaged in by way of exercise.
Then woe to the milk kettles, and woe to the dogs!

The whipping over, each dog, expressing his feelings as best as
he could, would trot demurely back to his work.

If some of these animals were eccentric in their ways, others
were remarkably well behaved. In fact, there was a school for
dogs in the city, established expressly for training them. Ben
probably saw some of its graduates. Many a time he noticed a
span of barkers trotting along the street with all the dignity of
horses, obeying the slightest hint of the man walking briskly
beside them. Sometimes, when their load was delivered, the
dealer would jump in the cart and have a fine drive to his home
beyond the gates of the city; and sometimes, I regret to say, a
patient vrouw would trudge beside the cart with a fish basket
upon her head and a child in her arms--while her lord enjoyed his
drive, carrying no heavier burden than a stumpy clay pipe, the
smoke of which mounted lovingly into her face.

A Day of Rest

The sight-seeing came to an end at last, and so did our boys'
visit to The Hague. They had spent three happy days and nights
with the Van Gends, and, strange to say, had not once, in all
that time, put on skates. The third day had indeed been one of
rest. The noise and bustle of the city was hushed; sweet Sunday
bells sent blessed, tranquil thoughts into their hearts. Ben
felt, as he listened to their familiar music, that the Christian
world is one, after all, however divided by sects and differences
it may be. As the clock speaks everyone's native language in
whatever land it may strike the hour, so church bells are never
foreign if our hearts but listen.

Led on by these clear voices, our party, with Mevrouw van Gend
and her husband, trod the quiet but crowded streets, until they
came to a fine old church in the southern part of the city.

The interior was large and, notwithstanding its great stained
windows, seemed dimly lighted, though the walls were white and
dashes of red and purple sunshine lay brightly upon pillar and

Ben saw a few old women moving softly through the aisles, each
bearing a high pile of foot stoves which she distributed among
the congregation by skillfully slipping out the under one, until
none were left. It puzzled him that mynheer should settle
himself with the boys in a comfortable side pew, after seating
his vrouw in the body of the church, which was filled with
chairs exclusively appropriated to the women. But Ben was
learning only a common custom of the country.

The pews of the nobility and the dignitaries of the city were
circular in form, each surrounding a column. Elaborately carved,
they formed a massive base to their great pillars standing out in
bold relief against the blank, white walls beyond. These
columns, lofty and well proportioned, were nicked and defaced
from violence done to them long ago; yet it seemed quite fitting
that, before they were lost in the deep arches overhead, their
softened outlines should leaf out as they did into richness and

Soon Ben lowered his gaze to the marble floor. It was a pavement
of gravestones. Nearly all the large slabs, of which it was
composed, marked the resting places of the dead. An armorial
design engraved upon each stone, with inscription and date, told
whose form as sleeping beneath, and sometimes three of a family
were lying one above the other in the same sepulcher.

He could not help but think of the solemn funeral procession
winding by torchlight through those lofty aisles and bearing its
silent burden toward a dark opening whence the slab had been
lifted, in readiness for its coming. It was something to think
that his sister Mabel, who died in her flower, was lying in a
sunny churchyard where a brook rippled and sparkled in the
daylight and waving trees whispered together all night long;
where flowers might nestle close to the headstone, and moon and
stars shed their peace upon it, and morning birds sing sweetly

Then he looked up from the pavement and rested his eyes upon the
carved oaken pulpit, exquisitely beautiful in design and
workmanship. He could not see the minister--though, not long
before, he had watched him slowly ascending its winding stair--a
mild-faced man wearing a ruff about his neck and a short cloak
reaching nearly to the knee.

Meantime the great church had been silently filling. Its pews
were somber with men and its center radiant with women in their
fresh Sunday attire. Suddenly a soft rustling spread through the
pulpit. All eyes were turned toward the minister now appearing
above the pulpit.

Although the sermon was spoken slowly, Ben could understand
little of what was said; but when the hymn came, he joined in
with all his heart. A thousand voices lifted in love and praise
offered a grander language than he could readily comprehend.

Once he was startled, during a pause in the service, by seeing a
little bag suddenly shaken before him. It had a tinkling bell at
its side and was attached to a long stick carried by one of the
deacons of the church. Not relying solely upon the mute appeal
of the poor boxes fastened to the columns near the entrance, this
more direct method was resorted to, of awakening the sympathies
of the charitable.

Fortunately Ben had provided himself with a few stivers, or the
musical bag must have tinkled before him in vain.

More than once, a dark look rose on our English boy's face that
morning. He longed to stand up and harangue the people
concerning a peculiarity that filled him with pain. Some of the
men wore their hats during the service or took them off whenever
the humor prompted, and many put theirs on in the church as soon
as they arose to leave. No wonder Ben's sense of propriety was
wounded; and yet a higher sense would have been exercised had he
tried to feel willing that Hollanders should follow the customs
of their country. But his English heart said over and over
again, "It is outrageous! It is sinful!"

There is an angel called Charity who would often save our hearts
a great deal of trouble if we would but let her in.

Homeward Bound

On Monday morning, bright and early, our boys bade farewell to
their kind entertainers and started on their homeward journey.

Peter lingered awhile at the lion-guarded door, for he and his
sister had many parting words to say.

As Ben saw them bidding each other good-bye, he could not help
feeling that kisses as well as clocks were wonderfully alike
everywhere. The English kiss that his sister Jenny had given him
when he left home had said the same thing to him that the Vrouw
van Gend's Dutch kiss said to Peter. Ludwig had taken his share
of the farewell in the most matter-of-fact manner possible, and
though he loved his sister well, had winced a little at her
making such a child of him as to put an extra kiss "for mother"
upon his forehead.

He was already upon the canal with Carl and Jacob. Were they
thinking about sisters or kisses? Not a bit of it. They were so
happy to be on skates once more, so impatient to dart at once
into the very heart of Broek, that they spun and wheeled about
like crazy fellows, relieving themselves, meantime, by muttering
something about "Peter and donder" not worth translating.

Even Lambert and Ben, who had been waiting at the street corner,
began to grow impatient.

The captain joined them at last and they were soon on the canal
with the rest.

"Hurry up, Peter," growled Ludwig. "We're freezing by
inches--there! I knew you'd be the last after all to get on your

"Did you?" said his brother, looking up with an air of deep
interest. "Clever boy!"

Ludwig laughed but tried to look cross, as he said, "I'm in
earnest. We must get home sometime this year."

"Now, boys," cried Peter, springing up as he fastened the last
buckle. "There's a clear way before us! We will imagine it's
the grand race. Ready! One, two, three, start!"

I assure you that very little was said for the first half hour.
They were six Mercuries skimming the ice. In plain English, they
were lightning. No--that is imaginary too. The fact is, one
cannot decide what to say when half a dozen boys are whizzing
past at such a rate. I can only tell you that each did his best,
flying, with bent body and eager eyes, in and out among the
placid skates on the canal, until the very guard shouted to them
to "Hold up!" This only served to send them onward with a
two-boy power that startled all beholders.

But the laws of inertia are stronger even than canal guards.

After a while Jacob slackened his speed, then Ludwig, then
Lambert, then Carl.

They soon halted to take a long breath and finally found
themselves standing in a group gazing after Peter and Ben, who
were still racing in the distance as if their lives were at

"It is very evident," said Lambert at he and his three companions
started up again, "that neither of them will give up until he
can't help it."

"What foolishness," growled Carl, "to tire themselves at the
beginning of the journey! But they're racing in earnest--that's
certain. Halloo! Peter's flagging!"

"Not so!" cried Ludwig. "Catch him being beaten!"

"Ha! ha!" sneered Carl. "I tell you, boy, Benjamin is ahead."

Now, if Ludwig disliked anything in this world, it was to be
called a boy--probably because he was nothing else. He grew
indignant at once.

"Humph, what are YOU, I wonder. There, sir! NOW look and see if
Peter isn't ahead!"

"I think he IS," interposed Lambert, "but I can't quite tell at
this distance."

"I think he isn't!" retorted Carl.

Jacob was growing anxious--he always abhorred an argument--so he
said in a coaxing tone, "Don't quarrel--don't quarrel!"

"Don't quarrel!" mocked Carl, looking back at Jacob as he skated.
"Who's quarreling? Poot, you're a goose!"

"I can't help that," was Jacob's meek reply. "See! they are
nearing the turn of the canal."

"NOW we can see!" cried Ludwig in great excitement.

"Peter will make it first, I know."

"He can't--for Ben is ahead!" insisted Carl. "Gunst! That
iceboat will run over him. No! He is clear! They're a couple
of geese, anyhow. Hurrah! they're at the turn. Who's ahead?"

"Peter!" cried Ludwig joyfully.

"Good for the captain!" shouted Lambert and Jacob.

And Carl condescended to mutter, "It IS Peter after all. I
thought, all the time, that head fellow was Ben."

This turn in the canal had evidently been their goal, for the two
racers came to a sudden halt after passing it.

Carl said something about being "glad that they had sense enough
to stop and rest," and the four boys skated on in silence to
overtake their companions.

All the while Carl was secretly wishing that he had kept on with
Peter and Ben, as he felt sure he could easily have come out
winner. He was a very rapid, though by no means a graceful,

Ben was looking at Peter with mingled vexation, admiration, and
surprise as the boys drew near.

They heard him saying in English, "You're a perfect bird on the
ice, Peter van Holp. The first fellow that ever beat me in a
fair race, I can tell you!"

Peter, who understood the language better than he could speak it,
returned a laughing bow at Ben's compliment but made no further
reply. Possibly he was scant of breath at the time.

"Now, Penchamin, vat you do mit yourself? Get so hot as a fire
brick--dat ish no goot," was Jacob's plaintive comment.

"Nonsense!" answered Ben. "This frosty air will cool me soon
enough. I am not tired."

"You are beaten, though, my boy," said Lambert in English, "and
fairly too. How will it be, I wonder, on the day of the grand

Ben flushed and gave a proud, defiant laugh, as if to say, "This
was mere pastime. I'm DETERMINED to beat then, come what will!"

Boys and Girls

By the time the boys reached the village of Voorhout, which
stands near the grand canal, about halfway between The Hague and
Haarlem, they were forced to hold a council. The wind, though
moderate at first, had grown stronger and stronger, until at last
they could hardly skate against it. The weather vanes throughout
the country had evidently entered into a conspiracy.

"No use trying to face such a blow as this," said Ludwig. "It
cuts its way down a man's throat like a knife."

"Keep your mouth shut, then," grunted the affable Carl, who was
as strong-chested as a young ox. "I'm for keeping on."

"In this case," interposed Peter, "we must consul the weakest of
the party rather than the strongest."

The captain's principle was all right, but its application was
not flattering to Master Ludwig. Shrugging his shoulders, he
retorted, "Who's weak? Not I, for one, but the wind's stronger
than any of us. I hope you'll condescend to admit that!"

"Ha, ha!" laughed Van Mounen, who could barely keep his feet.
"So it is."

Just then the weather vanes telegraphed to each other by a
peculiar twitch--and, in an instant, the gust came. It nearly
threw the strong-chested Carl; it almost strangled Jacob and
quite upset Ludwig.

"This settles the question," shouted Peter. "Off with your
skates! We'll go into Voorhout."

At Voorhout they found a little inn with a big yard. The yard
was well stocked, and better than all, was provided with a
complete set of skittles, so our boys soon turned the detention
into a frolic. The wind was troublesome even in that sheltered
quarter, but they were on good standing ground and did not mind

First a hearty dinner--then the game. With pins as long as their
arms and balls as big as their heads, plenty of strength left for
rolling, and a clean sweep of sixty yards for the strokes--no
wonder they were happy.

That night Captain Peter and his men slept soundly. No prowling
robber came to disturb them, and, as they were distributed in
separate rooms, they did not even have a bolster battle in the

Such a breakfast as they ate! The landlord looked frightened.
When he had asked them where they "belonged," he made up his mind
that the Broek people starved their children. It was a shame.
"Such fine young gentlemen too!"

Fortunately the wind had tired itself out and fallen asleep in
the great sea cradle beyond the dunes. There were signs of snow;
otherwise the weather was fine.

It was mere child's play for the well-rested boys to skate to
Leyden. Here they halted awhile, for Peter had an errand at the
Golden Eagle.

He left the city with a lightened heart; Dr. Boekman had been at
the hotel, read the note containing Hans's message, and departed
for Broek.

"I cannot say that it was your letter sent him off so soon,"
explained the landlord. "Some rich lady in Broek was taken bad
very sudden, and he was sent for in haste."

Peter turned pale.

"What was the name?" he asked.

"Indeed, it went in one ear and out of the other, for all I
hindered it. Plague on people who can't see a traveler in
comfortable lodgings, but they must whisk him off before one can

"A lady in Broek, did you say?"

"Yes." Very gruffly. "Any other business, young master?"

"No, mine host, except that I and my comrades here would like a
bite of something and a drink of hot coffee."

"Ah," said the landlord sweetly, "a bite you shall have, and
coffee, too, the finest in Leyden. Walk up to the stove, my
masters--now I think again--that was a widow lady from Rotterdam,
I think they said, visiting at one Van Stoepel's if I mistake

"Ah!" said Peter, greatly relieved. "They live in the white
house by the Schlossen Mill. Now, mynheer, the coffee, please!"

What a goose I was, thought he, as the party left the Golden
Eagle, to feel so sure that it was my mother. But she may be
somebody's mother, poor woman, for all that. Who can she be? I

There were not many upon the canal that day, between Leyden and
Haarlem. However, as the boys neared Amsterdam, they found
themselves once more in the midst of a moving throng. The big
ysbreeker *{Icebreaker. A heavy machine armed with iron spikes
for breaking the ice as it is dragged along. Some of the small
ones are worked by men, but the large ones are drawn by horses,
sixty or seventy of which are sometimes attached to one
ysbreeker.} had been at work for the first time that season, but
there was any amount of skating ground left yet.

"Three cheers for home!" cried Van Mounen as they came in sight
of the great Western Dock (Westelijk Dok). "Hurrah! Hurrah!"
shouted one and all. "Hurrah! Hurrah!"

This trick of cheering was an importation among our party.
Lambert van Mounen had brought it from England. As they always
gave it in English, it was considered quite an exploit and, when
circumstances permitted, always enthusiastically performed, to
the sore dismay of their quiet-loving countrymen.

Therefore, their arrival at Amsterdam created a great sensation,
especially among the small boys on the wharf.

The Y was crossed. They were on the Broek canal.

Lambert's home was reached first.

"Good-bye, boys!" he cried as he left them. "We've had the
greatest frolic ever known in Holland."

"So we have. Good-bye, Van Mounen!" answered the boys.


Peter hailed him. "I say, Van Mounen, the classes begin

"I know it. Our holiday is over. Good-bye, again."


Broek came in sight. Such meetings! Katrinka was upon the
canal! Carl was delighted. Hilda was there! Peter felt rested
in an instant. Rychie was there! Ludwig and Jacob nearly
knocked each other over in their eagerness to shake hands with

Dutch girls are modest and generally quiet, but they have very
glad eyes. For a few moments it was hard to decide whether
Hilda, Rychie, or Katrinka felt the most happy.

Annie Bouman was also on the canal, looking even prettier than
the other maidens in her graceful peasant's costume. But she did
not mingle with Rychie's party; neither did she look unusually

The one she liked most to see was not among the newcomers.
Indeed, he was not upon the canal at all. She had not been near
Broek before, since the Eve of Saint Nicholas, for she was
staying with her sick grandmother in Amsterdam and had been
granted a brief resting spell, as the grandmother called it,
because she had been such a faithful little nurse night and day.

Annie had devoted her resting-spell to skating with all her might
toward Broek and back again, in the hope of meeting her mother on
the canal, or, it might be, Gretel Brinker. Not one of them had
she seen, and she must hurry back without even catching a glimpse
of her mother's cottage, for the poor helpless grandmother, she
knew, was by this time moaning for someone to turn her upon her

Where can Gretel be? thought Annie as she flew over the ice; she
can almost always steal a few moments from her work at this time
of day. Poor Gretel! What a dreadful thing it must be to have a
dull father! I should be woefully afraid of him, I know--so
strong, and yet so strange!

Annie had not heard of his illness. Dame Brinker and her affairs
received but little notice from the people of the place.

If Gretel had not been known as a goose girl, she might have had
more friends among the peasantry of the neighborhood. As it was,
Annie Bouman was the only one who did not feel ashamed to avow
herself by word and deed the companion of Gretel and Hans.

When the neighbors' children laughed at her for keeping such poor
company, she would simply flush when Hans was ridiculed, or laugh
in a careless, disdainful way, but to hear little Gretel abused
always awakened her wrath.

"Goose girl, indeed!" she would say. "I can tell you that any of
you are fitter for the work than she. My father often said last
summer that it troubled him to see such a bright-eyed, patient
little maiden tending geese. Humph! She would not harm them, as
you would, Janzoon Kolp, and she would not tread upon them, as
you might, Kate Wouters."

This would be pretty sure to start a laugh at the clumsy,
ill-natured Kate's expense, and Annie would walk loftily away
from the group of young gossips. Perhaps some memory of Gretel's
assailants crossed her mind as she skated rapidly toward
Amsterdam, for her eyes sparkled ominously and she more than once
gave her pretty head a defiant toss. When that mood passed, such
a bright, rosy, affectionate look illuminated her face that more
than one weary working man turned to gaze after her and to wish
that he had a glad, contented lass like that for a daughter.

There were five joyous households in Broek that night.

The boys were back safe and sound, and they found all well at
home. Even the sick lady at neighbor Van Stoepel's was out of

But the next morning! Ah, how stupidly school bells will
ding-dong, ding-dong, when one is tired.

Ludwig was sure that he had never listened to anything so odious.
Even Peter felt pathetic on the occasion. Carl said it was a
shameful thing for a fellow to have to turn out when his bones
were splitting. And Jacob soberly bade Ben "Goot-pye!" and
walked off with his satchel as if it weighed a hundred pounds.

The Crisis

While the boys are nursing their fatigue, we will take a peep
into the Brinker cottage.

Can it be that Gretel and her mother have not stirred since we
saw them last? That the sick man upon the bed has not even
turned over? It was four days ago, and there is the sad group
just as it was before. No, not precisely the same, for Raff
Brinker is paler; his fever is gone, though he knows nothing of
what is passing. Then they were alone in the bare, clean room.
Now there is another group in an opposite corner.

Dr. Boekman is there, talking in a low tone with a stout young
man who listens intently. The stout young man is his student and
assistant. Hans is there also. He stands near the window,
respectfully waiting until he shall be accosted.

"You see, Vollenhoven," said Dr. Boekman, "it is a clear case
of--" And here the doctor went off into a queer jumble of Latin
and Dutch that I cannot conveniently translate.

After a while, as Vollenhoven looked at him rather blankly, the
learned man condescended to speak to him in simpler phrase.

"It is probably like Rip Donderdunck's case," he exclaimed in a
low, mumbling tone. "He fell from the top of Voppelploot's
windmill. After the accident the man was stupid and finally
became idiotic. In time he lay helpless like yon fellow on the
bed, moaned, too, like him, and kept constantly lifting his hand
to his head. My learned friend Von Choppem performed an
operation upon this Donderdunck and discovered under the skull a
small dark sac, which pressed upon the brain. This had been the
cause of the trouble. My friend Von Choppem removed it--a
splendid operation! You see, according to Celsius--" And here
the doctor again went off into Latin.

"Did the man live?" asked the assistant respectfully.

Dr. Boekman scowled. "That is of no consequence. I believe he
died, but why not fix your mind on the grand features of the
case? Consider a moment how--" And he plunged into Latin
mysteries more deeply than ever.

"But mynheer," gently persisted the student, who knew that the
doctor would not rise to the surface for hours unless pulled at
once from his favorite depths. "Mynheer, you have other
engagements today, three legs in Amsterdam, you remember, and an
eye in Broek, and that tumor up the canal."

"The tumor can wait," said the doctor reflectively. "That is
another beautiful case--a beautiful case! The woman has not
lifted her head from her shoulder for two months--magnificent
tumor, sir!"

The doctor by this time was speaking aloud. He had quite
forgotten where he was.

Vollenhoven made another attempt.

"This poor fellow on the bed, mynheer. Do you think you can
save him?"

"Ah, indeed, certainly," stammered the doctor, suddenly
perceiving that he had been talking rather off the point.
"Certainly, that is--I hope so."

"If anyone in Holland can, mynheer," murmured the assistant with
honest bluntness, "it is yourself."

The doctor looked displeased, growled out a tender request for
the student to talk less, and beckoned Hans to draw near.

This strange man had a great horror of speaking to women,
especially on surgical matters. "One can never tell," he said,
"what moment the creatures will scream or faint." Therefore he
explained Raff Brinker's case to Hans and told him what he
believed should be done to save the patient.

Hans listened attentively, growing red and pale by turns and
throwing quick, anxious glances toward the bed.

"It may KILL the father--did you say, mynheer?" he exclaimed at
last in a trembling whisper.

"It may, my boy. But I have a strong belief that it will cure
and not kill. Ah! If boys were not such dunces, I could lay the
whole matter before you, but it would be of no use."

Hans looked blank at this compliment.

"It would be of no use," repeated Dr. Boekman indignantly. "A
great operation is proposed, but one might as well do it with a
hatchet. The only question asked is, 'Will it kill?'"

"The question is EVERYTHING to us, mynheer," said Hans with
tearful dignity.

Dr. Boekman looked at him in sudden dismay.

"Ah! Exactly so. You are right, boy, I am a fool. Good boy.
One does not wish one's father killed--of course I am a fool."

"Will he die, mynheer, if this sickness goes on?"

"Humph! This is no new illness. The same thing growing worse
ever instant--pressure on the brain--will take him off soon like
THAT," said the doctor, snapping his fingers.

"And the operation MAY save him," pursued Hans. "How soon,
mynheer, can we know?"

Dr. Boekman grew impatient.

"In a day, perhaps, an hour. Talk with your mother, boy, and let
her decide. My time is short."

Hans approached his mother; at first, when she looked up at him,
he could not utter a syllable; then, turning his eyes away, he
said in a firm voice, "I must speak with the mother alone."

Quick little Gretel, who could not quite understand what was
passing, threw rather an indignant look at Hans and walked away.

"Come back, Gretel, and sit down," said Hans, sorrowfully.

She obeyed.

Dame Brinker and her boy stood by the window while the doctor and
his assistant, bending over the bedside, conversed together in a
low tone. There was no danger of disturbing the patient. He
appeared like one blind and deaf. Only his faint, piteous moans
showed him to be a living man. Hans was talking earnestly, and
in a low voice, for he did not wish his sister to hear.

With dry, parted lips, Dame Brinker leaned toward him, searching
his face, as if suspecting a meaning beyond his words. Once she
gave a quick, frightened sob that made Gretel start, but, after
that, she listened calmly.

When Hans ceased to speak, his mother turned, gave one long,
agonized look at her husband, lying there so pale and
unconscious, and threw herself on her knees beside the bed.

Poor little Gretel! What did all this mean? She looked with
questioning eyes at Hans; he was standing, but his head was bent
as if in prayer--at the doctor. He was gently feeling her
father's head and looked like one examining some curious
stone--at the assistant. The man coughed and turned away--at her
mother. Ah, little Gretel, that was the best you could do--to
kneel beside her and twine your warm, young arms about her neck,
to weep and implore God to listen.

When the mother arose, Dr. Boekman, with a show of trouble in his
eyes, asked gruffly, "Well, jufvrouw, shall it be done?"

"Will it pain him, mynheer?" she asked in a trembling voice.

"I cannot say. Probably not. Shall it be done?"

"It MAY cure him, you said, and--mynheer, did you tell my boy
that--perhaps--perhaps. . ." She could not finish.

"Yes, jufvrouw, I said the patient might sink under the
operation, but we hope it may prove otherwise." He looked at his
watch. The assistant moved impatiently toward the window.
"Come, jufvrouw, time presses. Yes or no?"

Hans wound his arm about his mother. It was not his usual way.
He even leaned his head against her shoulder.

"The meester awaits an answer," he whispered.

Dame Brinker had long been head of her house in every sense.
Many a time she had been very stern with Hans, ruling him with a
strong hand and rejoicing in her motherly discipline. NOW she
felt so weak, so helpless. It was something to feel that firm
embrace. There was strength even in the touch of that yellow

She turned to her boy imploringly.

"Oh, Hans! What shall I say?"

"Say what God tells thee, Mother," answered Hans, bowing his

One quick, questioning prayer to Heaven rose from the mother's

The answer came.

She turned toward Dr. Boekman.

"It is right, mynheer. I consent."

"Humph!" grunted the doctor, as if to say, "You've been long
enough about it." Then he conferred a moment with his assistant,
who listened with great outward deference but was inwardly
rejoicing at the grand joke he would have to tell his fellow
students. He had actually seen a tear in "old Boekman's" eye.

Meanwhile Gretel looked on in trembling silence, but when she saw
the doctor open a leather case and take out one sharp, gleaming
instrument after another, she sprang forward.

"Oh, Mother! The poor father meant no wrong. Are they going to
MURDER him?"

"I do not know, child," screamed Dame Brinker, looking fiercely
at Gretel. "I do not know."

"This will not do, jufvrouw," said Dr. Boekman sternly, and at
the same time he cast a quick, penetrating look at Hans. "You
and the girl must leave the room. The boy may stay."

Dame Brinker drew herself up in an instant. Her eyes flashed.
Her whole countenance was changed. She looked like one who had
never wept, never felt a moment's weakness. Her voice was low
but decided. "I stay with my husband, mynheer."

Dr. Boekman looked astonished. His orders were seldom
disregarded in this style. For an instant his eye met hers.

"You may remain, jufvrouw," he said in an altered voice.

Gretel had already disappeared.

In one corner of the cottage was a small closet where her rough,
boxlike bed was fastened against the wall. None would think of
the trembling little creature crouching there in the dark.

Dr. Boekman took off his heavy coat, filled an earthen basin with
water, and placed it near the bed. Then turning to Hans he
asked, "Can I depend upon you, boy?"

"You can, mynheer."

"I believe you. Stand at the head, here--your mother may sit at
your right--so." And he placed a chair near the cot.

"Remember, jufvrouw, there must be no cries, no fainting."

Dame Brinker answered him with a look.

He was satisfied.

"Now, Vollenhoven."

Oh, that case with the terrible instruments! The assistant
lifted them. Gretel, who had been peering with brimming eyes
through the crack of the closet door, could remain silent no

She rushed frantically across the apartment, seized her hood, and
ran from the cottage.

Gretel and Hilda

It was recess hour. At the first stroke of the schoolhouse bell,
the canal seemed to give a tremendous shout and grow suddenly
alive with boys and girls.

Dozens of gaily clad children were skating in and out among each
other, and all their pent-up merriment of the morning was
relieving itself in song and shout and laughter. There was
nothing to check the flow of frolic. Not a thought of
schoolbooks came out with them into the sunshine. Latin,
arithmetic, grammar--all were locked up for an hour in the dingy
schoolroom. The teacher might be a noun if he wished, and a
proper one at that, but THEY meant to enjoy themselves. As long
as the skating was as perfect as this, it made no difference
whether Holland were on the North Pole or the equator; and, as
for philosophy, how could they bother themselves with inertia and
gravitation and such things when it was as much as they could do
to keep from getting knocked over in the commotion.

In the height of the fun, one of the children called out, "What
is that?"

"What? Where?" cried a dozen voices.

"Why, don't you see? That dark thing over there by the idiot's

"I don't see anything," said one.

"I do," shouted another. "It's a dog."

"Where's any dog?" put in a squeaky voice that we have heard
before. "It's no such thing--it's a heap of rags."

"Pooh! Voost," retorted another gruffly, "that's about as near
the fact as you ever get. It's the goose girl, Gretel, looking
for rats."

"Well, what of it?" squeaked Voost. "Isn't SHE a bundle of
rags, I'd like to know?"

"Ha! ha! Pretty good for you, Voost! You'll get a medal for wit
yet, if you keep on."

"You'd get something else, if her brother Hans were here. I'll
warrant you would!" said a muffled-up little fellow with a cold
in his head."

As Hans was NOT there, Voost could afford to scout the

"Who cares for HIM, little sneezer? I'd fight a dozen like him
any day, and you in the bargain."

"You would, would you? I'd like to catch you all at it," and, by
way of proving his words, the sneezer skated off at the top of
his speed.

Just then a general chase after three of the biggest boys of the
school was proposed--and friend and foe, frolicsome as ever, were
soon united in a common cause.

Only one of all that happy throng remembered the dark little form
by the idiot's cottage. Poor, frightened little Gretel! She was
not thinking of them, though their merry laughter floated lightly
toward her, making her feel like one in a dream.

How loud the moans were behind the darkened window! What if
those strange men were really killing her father!

The thought made her spring to her feet with a cry of horror.

"Ah, no!" She sobbed, sinking upon the frozen mound of earth
where she had been sitting. Mother is there, and Hans. They
will care for him. But how pale they were. And even Hans was

Why did the cross old meester keep him and send me away? she
thought. I could have clung to the mother and kissed her. That
always makes her stroke my hair and speak gently, even after she
has scolded me. How quiet it is now! Oh, if the father should
die, and Hans, and the mother, what WOULD I do? And Gretel,
shivering with cold, buried her face in her arms and cried as if
her heart would break.

The poor child had been tasked beyond her strength during the
past four days. Through all, she had been her mother's willing
little handmaiden, soothing, helping, and cheering the
half-widowed woman by day and watching and praying beside her all
the long night. She knew that something terrible and mysterious
was taking place at this moment, something that had been too
terrible and mysterious for even kind, good Hans to tell.

Then new thoughts came. Why had not Hans told her? It was a
shame. It was HER father as well as his. She was no baby. She
had once taken a sharp knife from the father's hand. She had
even drawn him away from the mother on that awful night when
Hans, as big as he was, could not help her. Why, then, must she
be treated like one who could do nothing? oh, how very still it
was--how bitter, bitter cold! If Annie Bouman had only stayed
home instead of going to Amsterdam, it wouldn't be so lonely.
How cold her feet were growing! Was it the moaning that made her
feel as if she were floating in the air?

This would not do--the mother might need her help at any moment!

Rousing herself with an effort, Gretel sat upright, rubbing her
eyes and wondering--wondering that the sky was so bright and
blue, wondering at the stillness in the cottage, more than all,
at the laughter rising and falling in the distance.

Soon she sank down again, the strange medley of thought growing
more and more confused in her bewildered brain.

What a strange lip the meester had! How the stork's nest upon
the roof seemed to rustle and whisper down to her! How bright
those knives were in the leather case--brighter perhaps than the
silver skates. If she had but worn her new jacket, she would not
shiver so. The new jacket was pretty--the only pretty thing she
had ever worn. God had taken care of her father so long. He
would do it still, if those two men would but go away. Ah, now
the meesters were on the roof, they were clambering to the
top--no--it was her mother and Hans--or the storks. It was so
dark, who could tell? And the mound rocking, swinging in that
strange way. How sweetly the birds were singing. They must be
winter birds, for the air was thick with icicles--not one bird
but twenty. Oh! hear them, Mother. Wake me, Mother, for the
race. I am so tired with crying, and crying--

A firm hand was laid upon her shoulder.

"Get up, little girl!" cried a kind voice. "This will not do,
for you to lie here and freeze."

Gretel slowly raised her head. She was so sleepy that it seemed
nothing strange to her that Hilda van Gleck should be leaning
over her, looking with kind, beautiful eyes into her face. She
had often dreamed it before.

But she had never dreamed that Hilda was shaking her roughly,
almost dragging her by main force; never dreamed that she heard
her saying, "Gretel! Gretel Brinker! You MUST wake!"

This was real. Gretel looked up. Still the lovely delicate
young lady was shaking, rubbing, fairly pounding her. It must be
a dream. No, there was the cottage--and the stork's nest and the
meester's coach by the canal. She could see them now quite
plainly. Her hands were tingling, her feet throbbing. Hilda was
forcing her to walk.

At last Gretel began to feel like herself again.

"I have been asleep," she faltered, rubbing her eyes with both
hands and looking very much ashamed.

"Yes, indeed, entirely too much asleep"--laughed Hilda, whose
lips were very pale--"but you are well enough now. Lean upon me,
Gretel. There, keep moving, you will soon be warm enough to go
by the fire. Now let me take you into the cottage."

"Oh, no! no! no! jufvrouw, not in there! The meester is there.
He sent me away!"

Hilda was puzzled, but she wisely forebore to ask at present for
an explanation. "Very well, Gretel, try to walk faster. I saw
you upon the mound, some time ago, but I thought you were
playing. That is right, keep moving."

All this time the kindhearted girl had been forcing Gretel to
walk up and down, supporting her with one arm and, with the
other, striving as well as she could to take off her own warm

Suddenly Gretel suspected her intention.

"Oh, jufvrouw! jufvrouw!" she cried imploringly. "PLEASE never
think of such a thing as THAT. Oh! please keep it on, I am
burning all over, jufvrouw! I really am burning. Not burning
exactly, but pins and needles pricking all over me. Oh,
jufvrouw, don't!"

The poor child's dismay was so genuine that Hilda hastened to
reassure her.

"Very well, Gretel, move your arms then--so. Why, your cheeks
are as pink as roses, already. I think the meester would let
you in now, he certainly would. Is your father so very ill?"

"Ah, jufvrouw," cried Gretel, weeping afresh, "he is dying, I
think. There are two meesters in with him at this moment, and
the mother has scarcely spoken today. Can you hear him moan,
jufvrouw?" she added with sudden terror. "The air buzzes so I
cannot hear. He may be dead! Oh, I do wish I could hear him!"

Hilda listened. The cottage was very near, but not a sound could
be heard.

Something told her that Gretel was right. She ran to the window.

"You cannot see there, my lady," sobbed Gretel eagerly. "The
mother has oiled paper hanging inside. But at the other one, in
the south end of the cottage, you can look in where the paper is

Hilda, in her anxiety, ran around, past the corner where the low
roof was fringed with its loosened thatch.

A sudden thought checked her.

"It is not right for me to peep into another's house in this
way," she said to herself. Then, softly calling to Gretel, she
added in a whisper, "You may look--perhaps he is only sleeping."

Gretel tried to walk briskly toward the spot, but her limbs were
trembling. Hilda hastened to her support.

"You are sick, yourself, I fear," she said kindly.

"No, not sick, jufvrouw, but my heart cries all the time now,
even when my eyes are as dry as yours. Why, jufvrouw, your eyes
are not dry! Are you crying for US? Oh, jufvrouw, if God sees
you! Oh! I know father will get better now." And the little
creature, even while reaching to look through the tiny window,
kissed Hilda's hand again and again.

The sash was sadly patched and broken; a torn piece of paper hung
halfway down across it. Gretel's face was pressed to the window.

"Can you see anything?" whispered Hilda at last.

"Yes--the father lies very still, his head is bandaged, and all
their eyes are fastened upon him. Oh, jufvrouw!" almost
screamed Gretel, as she started back and, by a quick, dexterous
movement shook off her heavy wooden shoes. "I MUST go in to my
mother! Will you come with me?"

"Not now, the bell is ringing. I shall come again soon.

Gretel scarcely heard the words. She remembered for many a day
afterward the bright, pitying smile on Hilda's face as she turned

The Awakening

An angel could not have entered the cottage more noiselessly.
Gretel, not daring to look at anyone, slid softly to her mother's

The room was very still. She could hear the old doctor breathe.
She could almost hear the sparks as they fell into the ashes on
the hearth. The mother's hand was very cold, but a burning spot
glowed on her cheek, and her eyes were like a deer's--so bright,
so sad, so eager.

At last there was a movement upon the bed, very slight, but
enough to cause them all to start. Dr. Boekman leaned eagerly

Another movement. The large hands, so white and soft for a poor
man's hand, twitched, then raised itself steadily toward the

It felt the bandage, not in a restless, crazy way but with a
questioning movement that caused even Dr. Boekman to hold his

"Steady! Steady!" said a voice that sounded very strange to
Gretel. "Shift that mat higher, boys! Now throw on the clay.
The waters are rising fast; no time to--"

Dame Brinker sprang forward like a young panther.

She seized his hands and, leaning over him, cried, "Raff! Raff,
boy, speak to me!"

"Is it you, Meitje?" he asked faintly. "I have been asleep,
hurt, I think. Where is little Hans?"

"Here I am, Father!" shouted Hans, half mad with joy. But the
doctor held him back.

"He knows us!" screamed Dame Brinker. "Great God! He knows us!
Gretel! Gretel! Come, see your father!"

In vain Dr. Boekman commanded "Silence!" and tried to force them
from the bedside. He could not keep them off.

Hans and the mother laughed and cried together as they hung over
the newly awakened man. Gretel made no sound but gazed at them
all with glad, startled eyes. Her father was speaking in a faint

"Is the baby asleep, Meitje?"

"The baby!" echoed Dame Brinker. "Oh, Gretel, that is you! And
he calls Hans 'little Hans.' Ten years asleep! Oh, mynheer,
you have saved us all. He has known nothing for ten years!
Children, why don't you thank the meester?"

The good woman was beside herself with joy. Dr. Boekman said
nothing, but as his eye met hers, he pointed upward. She
understood. So did Hans and Gretel.

With one accord they knelt by the cot, side by side. Dame
Brinker felt for her husband's hand even while she was praying.
Dr. Boekman's head was bowed; the assistant stood by the hearth
with his back toward them.

"Why do you pray?" murmured the father, looking feebly from the
bed as they rose. "Is it God's day?"

It was not Sunday; but his vrouw bowed her head--she could not

"Then we should have a chapter," said Raff Brinker, speaking
slowly and with difficulty. "I do not know how it is. I am
very, very weak. Mayhap the minister will read it to us."

Gretel lifted the big Dutch Bible from its carved shelf. Dr.
Boekman, rather dismayed at being called a minister, coughed and
handed the volume to his assistant.

"Read," he murmured. "These people must be kept quiet or the man
will die yet."

When the chapter was finished, Dame Brinker motioned mysteriously
to the rest by way of telling them that her husband was asleep.

"Now, jufvrouw," said the doctor in a subdued tone as he drew on
his thick woolen mittens, "there must be perfect quiet. You
understand. This is truly a most remarkable case. I shall come
again tomorrow. Give the patient no food today," and, bowing
hastily, he left the cottage, followed by his assistant.

His grand coach was not far away; the driver had kept the horses
moving slowly up and down by the canal nearly all the time the
doctor had been in the cottage.

Hans went out also.

"May God bless you, mynheer!" he said, blushing and trembling.
"I can never repay you, but if--"

"Yes, you can," interrupted the doctor crossly. "You can use
your wits when the patient wakes again. This clacking and
sniveling is enough to kill a well man, let alone one lying on
the edge of his grave. If you want your father to get well, keep
'em quiet."

So saying, Dr. Boekman, without another word, stalked off to meet
his coach, leaving Hans standing there with eyes and mouth wide

Hilda was reprimanded severely that day for returning late to
school after recess, and for imperfect recitations.

She had remained near the cottage until she heard Dame Brinker
laugh, until she had heard Hans say, "Here I am, Father!" And
then she had gone back to her lessons. What wonder that she
missed them! How could she get a long string of Latin verbs by
heart when her heart did not care a fig for them but would keep
saying to itself, "Oh, I am so glad! I am so glad!"

Bones and Tongues

Bones are strange things. One would suppose that they knew
nothing at all about school affairs, but they do. Even Jacob
Poot's bones, buried as they were in flesh, were sharp in the
matter of study hours.

Early on the morning of his return they ached through and
through, giving Jacob a twinge at every stroke of the school
bell, as if to say, "Stop that clapper! There's trouble in it."
After school, on the contrary, they were quiet and comfortable;
in fact, seemed to be taking a nap among their cushions.

The other boys' bones behaved in a similar manner, but that is
not so remarkable. Being nearer the daylight than Jacob's, they
might be expected to be more learned in the ways of the world.
Master Ludwig's, especially, were like beauty, only skin deep;
they were the most knowing bones you ever heard of. Just put
before him ever so quietly a grammar book with a long lessons
marked in it, and immediately the sly bone over his eyes would
set up such an aching! Request him to go to the garret for your
foot stove, instantly the bones would remind him that he was "too
tired." Ask him to go to the confectioner's, a mile away, and
PRESTO! not a bone would remember that it had ever been used

Bearing all this in mind, you will not wonder when I tell you
that our five boys were among the happiest of the happy throng
pouring forth from the schoolhouse that day.

Peter was in excellent spirits. He had heard through Hilda of
Dame Brinker's laugh and of Hans's joyous words, and he needed no
further proof that Raff Brinker was a cured man. In fact, the
news had gone forth in every direction, for miles around.
Persons who had never before cared for the Brinkers, or even
mentioned them, except with a contemptuous sneer or a shrug of
pretended pity, now became singularly familiar with every point
of their history. There was no end to the number of ridiculous
stories that were flying about.

Hilda, in the excitement of the moment, had stopped to exchange a
word with the doctor's coachman as he stood by the horses,
pommelling his chest and clapping his hands. Her kind heart was
overflowing. She could not help pausing to tell the cold,
tired-looking man that she thought the doctor would be out soon;
she even hinted to him that she suspected--only suspected--that a
wonderful cure had been performed, an idiot brought to his
senses. Nay, she was SURE of it, for she had heard his widow
laugh--no, not his widow, of course, but his wife--for the man
was as much alive as anybody, and, for all she knew, sitting up
and talking like a lawyer.

All this was very indiscreet. Hilda, in an impenitent sort of
way, felt it to be so.

But it is always so delightful to impart pleasant or surprising

She went tripping along by the canal, quite resolved to repeat
the sin, ad infinitum, and tell nearly every girl and boy in the

Meantime Janzoon Kolp came skating by. Of course, in two
seconds, he was striking slippery attitudes and shouting saucy
things to the coachman, who stared at him in indolent disdain.

This, to Janzoon, was equivalent to an invitation to draw nearer.
The coachman was now upon his box, gathering up the reins and
grumbling at his horses.

Janzoon accosted him.

"I say. What's going on at the idiot's cottage? Is your boss in

Coachman nodded mysteriously.

"Whew!" whistled Janzoon, drawing closer. "Old Brinker dead?"

The driver grew big with importance and silent in proportion.

"See here, old pincushion, I'd run home yonder and get you a
chunk of gingerbread if I thought you could open your mouth."

Old pincushion was human--long hours of waiting had made him
ravenously hungry. At Janzoon's hint, his countenance showed
signs of a collapse.

"That's right, old fellow," pursued his tempter. "Hurry up!
What news?--old Brinker dead?"

"No, CURED! Got his wits," said the coachman, shooting forth
his words, one at a time, like so many bullets.

Like bullets (figuratively speaking) they hit Janzoon Kolp. He
jumped as if he had been shot.

"Goede Gunst! You don't say so!"

The man pressed his lips together and looked significantly toward
Master Kolp's shabby residence.

Just then Janzoon saw a group of boys in the distance. Hailing
them in a rowdy style, common to boys of his stamp all over the
world, weather in Africa, Japan, Amsterdam, or Paris, he
scampered toward them, forgetting coachman, gingerbread,
everything but the wonderful news.

Therefore, by sundown it was well known throughout the
neighboring country that Dr. Boekman, chancing to stop at the
cottage, had given the idiot Brinker a tremendous dose of
medicine, as brown as gingerbread. It had taken six men to hold
him while it was poured down. The idiot had immediately sprung
to his feet, in full possession of all his faculties, knocked
over the doctor or thrashed him (there was admitted to be a
slight uncertainty as to which of these penalties was inflicted),
then sat down and addressed him for all the world like a lawyer.
After that he had turned and spoken beautifully to his wife and
children. Dame Brinker had laughed herself into violent
hysterics. Hans had said, "Here I am, Father, your own dear
son!" And Gretel had said, "Here I am, Father, your own dear
Gretel!" And the doctor had afterward been seen leaning back in
his carriage looking just as white as a corpse.

A New Alarm

When Dr. Boekman called the next day at the Brinker cottage, he
could not help noticing the cheerful, comfortable aspect of the
place. An atmosphere of happiness breathed upon him as he opened
the door. Dame Brinker sat complacently knitting beside the bed,
her husband was enjoying a tranquil slumber, and Gretel was
noiselessly kneading rye bread on the table in the corner.

The doctor did not remain long. He asked a few simple questions,
appeared satisfied with the answers, and after feeling his
patient's pulse, said, "Ah, very weak yet, jufvrouw. Very weak,
indeed. He must have nourishment. You may begin to feed the
patient. Ahem! Not too much, but what you do give him let it be
strong and of the best."

"Black bread, we have, mynheer, and porridge," replied Dame
Brinker cheerily. "They have always agreed with him well."

"Tut, tut!" said the doctor, frowning. "Nothing of the kind. He
must have the juice of fresh meat, white bread, dried and
toasted, good Malaga wine, and--ahem! The man looks cold. Give
him more covering, something light and warm. Where is the boy?"

"Hans, mynheer, has gone into Broek to look for work. He will
be back soon. Will the meester please be seated?

Whether the hard polished stool offered by Dame Brinker did not
look particularly tempting, or whether the dame herself
frightened him, partly because she was a woman, and partly
because an anxious, distressed look had suddenly appeared in her
face, I cannot say. Certain it is that our eccentric doctor
looked hurriedly about him, muttered something about "an
extraordinary case," bowed, and disappeared before Dame Brinker
had time to say another word.

Strange that the visit of their good benefactor should have left
a cloud, yet so it was. Gretel frowned, an anxious, childish
frown, and kneaded the bread dough violently without looking up.
Dame Brinker hurried to her husband's bedside, leaned over him,
and fell into silent but passionate weeping.

In a moment Hans entered.

"Why, Mother," he whispered in alarm, "what ails thee? Is the
father worse?"

She turned her quivering face toward him, making no attempt to
conceal her distress.

"Yes. He is starving--perishing. A meester said it."

Hans turned pale.

"What does this mean, Mother? We must feed him at once. Here,
Gretel, give me the porridge."

"Nay!" cried his mother, distractedly, yet without raising her
voice. "It may kill him. Our poor fare is too heavy for him.
Oh, Hans, he will die--the father will DIE, if we use him this
way. He must have meat and sweet wine and a dekbed. Oh, what
shall I do, what shall I do?" she sobbed, wringing her hands.
"There is not a stiver in the house."

Gretel pouted. It was the only way she could express sympathy

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