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Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

Part 5 out of 6

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just then. Her tears fell one by one into the dough.

"Did the meester say he MUST have these things, Mother?" asked

"Yes, he did."

"Well, Mother, don't cry, HE SHALL HAVE THEM. I shall bring
meat and wine before night. Take the cover from my bed. I can
sleep in the straw."

"Yes, Hans, but it is heavy, scant as it is. The meester said
he must have something light and warm. He will perish. Our peat
is giving out, Hans. The father has wasted it sorely, throwing
it on when I was not looking, dear man."

"Never mind, Mother," whispered Hans cheerfully. "We can cut
down the willow tree and burn it, if need be, but I'll bring home
something tonight. There MUST be work in Amsterdam, though
there's none in Broek. Never fear, Mother, the worst trouble of
all is past. We can brave anything now that the father is
himself again."

"Aye!" sobbed Dame Brinker, hastily drying her eyes. "That is
true indeed."

"Of course it is. Look at him, Mother, how softly he sleeps. Do
you think God would let him starve, just after giving him back to
us? Why, Mother, I'm as SURE of getting all the father needs as
if my pocket were bursting with gold. There, now, don't fret."
And, hurriedly kissing her, Hans caught up his skates and
slipped from the cottage.

Poor Hans! Disappointed in his morning's errand, half sickened
with this new trouble, he wore a brave look and tried to whistle
as he tramped resolutely off with the firm intention of mending

Want had never before pressed so sorely upon the Brinker family.
Their stock of peat was nearly exhausted, and all the flour in
the cottage was in Gretel's dough. They had scarcely cared to
eat during the past few days, scarcely realized their condition.
Dame Brinker had felt so sure that she and the children could
earn money before the worst came that she had given herself up to
the joy of her husband's recovery. She had not even told Hans
that the few pieces of silver in the old mitten were quite gone.

Hans reproached himself, now, that he had not hailed the doctor
when he saw him enter his coach and drive rapidly away in the
direction of Amsterdam.

Perhaps there is some mistake, he thought. The meester surely
would have known that meat and sweet wine were not at our
command; and yet the father looks very weak--he certainly does.
I MUST get work. If Mynheer van Holp were back from Rotterdam, I
could get plenty to do. But Master Peter told me to let him know
if he could do aught to serve us. I shall go to him at once.
Oh, if it were but summer!

All this time Hans was hastening toward the canal. Soon his
skates were on, and he was skimming rapidly toward the residence
of Mynheer van Holp.

"The father must have meat and wine at once," he muttered, "but
how can I earn the money in time to buy them today? There is no
other way but to go, as I PROMISED, to Master Peter. What would
a gift of meat and wine be to him? When the father is once fed,
I can rush down to Amsterdam and earn the morrow's supply."

Then came other thoughts--thoughts that made his heart thump
heavily and his cheeks burn with a new shame. It is BEGGING, to
say the least. Not one of the Brinkers has ever been a beggar.
Shall I be the first? Shall my poor father just coming back into
life learn that his family has asked for charity--he, always so
wise and thrifty? "No," cried Hans aloud, "better a thousand
times to part with the watch."

I can at least borrow money on it, in Amsterdam! he thought,
turning around. That will be no disgrace. I can find work at
once and get it back again. Nay, perhaps I can even SPEAK TO

This last thought made the lad dance for joy. Why not, indeed,
speak to the father? He was a rational being now. He may wake,
thought Hans, quite bright and rested--may tell us the watch is
of no consequence, to sell it of course! And Hans almost flew
over the ice.

A few moments more and the skates were again swinging from his
arm. He was running toward the cottage.

His mother met him at the door.

"Oh, Hans!" she cried, her face radiant with joy, "the young lady
has been here with her maid. She brought everything--meat,
jelly, wine, and bread--a whole basketful! Then the meester
sent a man from town with more wine and a fine bed and blankets
for the father. Oh! he will get well now. God bless them!"

"God bless them!" echoed Hans, and for the first time that day
his eyes filled with tears.

The Father's Return

That evening Raff Brinker felt so much better that he insisted
upon sitting up for a while on the rough high-backed chair by the
fire. For a few moments there was quite a commotion in the
little cottage. Hans was all-important on the occasion, for his
father was a heavy man and needed something firm to lean upon.
The dame, though none of your fragile ladies, was in such a state
of alarm and excitement at the bold step they were taking in
lifting him without the meester's orders that she came near
pulling her husband over, even while she believed herself to be
his main prop and support.

"Steady, vrouw, steady," panted Raff. "Have I grown old and
feeble, or is it the fever makes me thus helpless?"

"Hear the man!"--Dame Brinker laughed--"talking like any other
Christian! Why, you're only weak from the fever, Raff. Here's
the chair, all fixed snug and warm. Now, sit thee
down--hi-di-didy--there we are!"

With these words Dame Brinker let her half of the burden settle
slowly into the chair. Hans prudently did the same.

Meanwhile Gretel flew about generally, bringing every possible
thing to her mother to tuck behind the father's back and spread
over his knees. Then she twitched the carved bench under his
feet, and Hans kicked the fire to make it brighter.

The father was sitting up at last. What wonder that he looked
about him like one bewildered. "Little Hans" had just been
almost carrying him. "The baby" was over four feet long and was
demurely brushing up the hearth with a bundle of willow wisps.
Meitje, the vrouw, winsome and fair as ever, had gained at least
fifty pounds in what seemed to him a few hours. She also had
some new lines in her face that puzzled him. The only familiar
things in the room were the pine table that he had made before he
was married, the Bible upon the shelf, and the cupboard in the

Ah! Raff Brinker, it was only natural that your eyes should fill
with hot tears even while looking at the joyful faces of your
loved ones. Ten years dropped from a man's life are no small
loss; ten years of manhood, of household happiness and care; ten
years of honest labor, of conscious enjoyment of sunshine and
outdoor beauty, ten years of grateful life--one day looking
forward to all this; the next, waking to find them passed and a
blank. What wonder the scalding tears dropped one by one upon
your cheek!

Tender little Gretel! The prayer of her life was answered
through those tears. She LOVED her father silently at that
moment. Hans and his mother glanced silently at each other when
they saw her spring toward him and throw her arms about his neck.

"Father, DEAR Father," she whispered, pressing her cheek close to
his, "don't cry. We are all here."

"God bless thee," sobbed Raff, kissing her again and again. "I
had forgotten that!"

Soon he looked up again and spoke in a cheerful voice. "I should
know her, vrouw," he said, holding the sweet young face between
his hands and gazing at it as though he were watching it grow.
"I should know her. The same blue eyes and the lips, and ah! me,
the little song she could sing almost before she could stand.
But that was long ago," he added, with a sigh, still looking at
her dreamily. "Long ago; it's all gone now."

"Not so, indeed," cried Dame Brinker eagerly. "Do you think I
would let her forget it? Gretel, child, sing the old song thou
hast known so long!"

Raff Brinker's hand fell wearily and his eyes closed, but it was
something to see the smile playing about his mouth as Gretel's
voice floated about him like incense.

It was a simple air; she had never known the words.

With loving instinct she softened every note, until Raff almost
fancied that his two-year-old baby was once more beside him.

As soon as the song was finished, Hans mounted a wooden stool and
began to rummage in the cupboard.

"Have a care, Hans," said Dame Brinker, who through all her
poverty was ever a tidy housewife. "Have a care, the wine is
there at your right and the white bread beyond it."

"Never fear, Mother," answered Hans, reaching far back on an
upper shelf. "I shall do no mischief."

Jumping down, he walked toward his father and placed an oblong
block of pine wood in his hands. One of its ends was rounded
off, and some deep cuts had been made on the top.

"Do you know what that is, Father?" asked Hans.

Raff Brinker's face brightened. "Indeed I do, boy! It is the
boat I was making you yest--alack, not yesterday, but years ago."

"I have kept it ever since, Father. It can be finished when your
hand grows strong again."

"Yes, but not for you, my lad. I must wait for the
grandchildren. Why, you are nearly a man. Have you helped your
mother through all these years?"

"Aye and bravely," put in Dame Brinker.

"Let me see," muttered the father, looking in a puzzled way at
them all, "how long is it since the night when the waters were
coming in? 'Tis the last I remember."

"We have told thee true, Raff. It was ten years last Pinxter

"Ten years--and I fell then, you say? Has the fever been on me
ever since?"

Dame Brinker scarcely knew how to reply. Should she tell him
all? Tell him that he had been an idiot, almost a lunatic? The
doctor had charged her on no account to worry or excite his

Hans and Gretel looked astonished.

"Like enough, Raff," she said, nodding her head and raising her
eyebrows. "When a heavy man like thee falls on his head, it's
hard to say what will come--but thou'rt well NOW, Raff. Thank
the good Lord!"

The newly awakened man bowed his head.

"Aye, well enough, mine vrouw," he said after a moment's
silence, "but my brain turns somehow like a spinning wheel. It
will not be right till I get on the dikes again. When shall I be
at work, think you?"

"Hear the man!" cried Dame Brinker, delighted, yet frightened,
too, for that matter. "We must get him on the bed, Hans. Work

They tried to raise him from the chair, but he was not ready yet.

"Be off with ye!" he said with something like his old smile
(Gretel had never seen it before). "Does a man want to be lifted
about like a log? I tell you before three suns I shall be on the
dikes again. Ah! There'll be some stout fellows to greet me.
Jan Kamphuisen and young Hoogsvliet. They have been good friends
to thee, Hans, I'll warrant."

Hans looked at his mother. Young Hoogsvliet had been dead five
years. Jan Kamphuisen was in the jail at Amsterdam.

"Aye, they'd have done their share no doubt," said Dame Brinker,
parrying the inquiry, "had we asked them. But what with working
and studying, Hans has been busy enough without seeking

"Working and studying," echoed Raff, in a musing tone. "Can the
youngsters read and cipher, Meitje?"

"You should hear them!" she answered proudly. "They can run
through a book while I mop the floor. Hans there is as happy
over a page of big words as a rabbit in a cabbage patch; as for

"Here, lad, help a bit," interrupted Raff Brinker. "I must get
me on the bed again."

The Thousand Guilders

None seeing the humble supper eaten in the Brinker cottage that
night would have dreamed of the dainty repast hidden away nearby.
Hans and Gretel looked rather wistfully toward the cupboard as
they drank their cupful of water and ate their scanty share of
black bread; but even in thought they did not rob their father.

"He relished his supper well," said Dame Brinker, nodding
sidewise toward the bed, "and fell asleep the next moment. Ah,
the dear man will be feeble for many a day. He wanted sore to
sit up again, but while I made show of humoring him and getting
ready, he dropped off. Remember that, my girl, when you have a
man of your own (and many a day may it be before that comes to
pass), remember that you can never rule by differing; 'humble
wife is husband's boss.' Tut! tut! Never swallow such a
mouthful as that again, child. Why, I could make a meal off two
such pieces. What's in thee, Hans? One would think there were
cobwebs on the walls."

"Oh, no, Mother, I was only thinking--"

"Thinking about what? Ah, no use asking," she added in a changed
tone. "I was thinking of the same a while ago. Well, it's no
blame if we DID look to hear something by this time about the
thousand guilders but not a word--no--it's plain enough he knows
naught about them."

Hans looked up anxiously, dreading lest his mother should grow
agitated, as usual, when speaking of the lost money, but she was
silently nibbling her bread and looking with a doleful stare
toward the window.

"Thousand guilders," echoed a faint voice from the bed. "Ah, I
am sure they have been of good use to you, vrouw, through the
long years when your man was idle."

The poor woman started up. These words quite destroyed the hope
that of late had been glowing within her.

"Are you awake, Raff?" she faltered.

"Yes, Meitje, and I feel much better. Our money was well saved,
vrouw, I was saying. Did it last through all those ten years?"

"I--I--have not got it, Raff, I--" She was going to tell him the
whole truth when Hans lifted his finger warningly and whispered,
"Remember what the meester told us. The father must not be

"Speak to him, child," she answered, trembling.

Hans hurried to the bedside.

"I am glad you are feeling better," he said, leaning over his
father. "Another day will see you quite strong again."

"Aye, like enough. How long did the money last, Hans? I could
not hear your mother. What did she say?"

"I said, Raff," stammered Dame Brinker in great distress, "that
it was all gone."

"Well, well, wife, do not fret at that; one thousand guilders is
not so very much for ten years and with children to bring up. .
.but it has helped to make you all comfortable. Have you had
much sickness to bear?"

"No, no," sobbed Dame Brinker, lifting her apron to her eyes.

"Tut, tut, woman, why do you cry?" said Raff kindly. "We will
soon fill another pouch when I am on my feet again. Lucky I told
you all about it before I fell."

"Told me what, man?"

"Why, that I buried the money. In my dream just now, it seemed
that I had never said aught about it."

Dame Brinker started forward. Hans caught her arm.

"Hist! Mother," he whispered, hastily leading her away, "we must
be very careful." Then, while she stood with clasped hands
waiting in breathless anxiety, he once more approached the cot.
Trembling with eagerness he said, "That was a troublesome dream.
Do you remember WHEN you buried the money, Father?"

"Yes, my boy. It was just before daylight on the same day I was
hurt. Jan Kamphuisen said something, the sundown before, that
made me distrust his honesty. He was the only one living besides
Mother who knew that we had saved a thousand guilders, so I rose
up that night and buried the money--blockhead that I was ever to
suspect an old friend!"

"I'll be bound, Father," pursued Hans in a laughing voice,
motioning to his mother and Gretel to remain quiet, "that you've
forgotten where you buried it."

"Ha! ha! Not I, indeed. But good night, my son, I can sleep

Hans would have walked away, but his mother's gestures were not
to be disobeyed. So he said gently, "Good night, Father. Where
did you say you buried the money? I was only a little one then."

"Close by the willow sapling behind the cottage," said Raff
Brinker drowsily.

"Ah, yes. North side of the tree, wasn't it, Father?"

"No, the south side. Ah, you know the spot well enough, you
rogue. Like enough you were there when your mother lifted it.
Now, son, easy. Shift this pillow so. Good night."

"Good night, Father!" said Hans, ready to dance for joy.

The moon rose very late that night, shining in, full and clear,
at the little window, but its beams did not disturb Raff Brinker.
He slept soundly; so did Gretel. As for Hans and his mother,
they had something else to do.

After making a few hurried preparations, they stole forth with
bright, expectant faces, bearing a broken spade and a rusty
implement that had done many a day's service when Raff was a hale
worker on the dikes.

It was so light out of doors that they could see the willow tree
distinctly. The frozen ground was hard as stone, but Hans and
his mother were resolute. Their only dread was that they might
disturb the sleepers in the cottage.

"This ysbreeker is just the thing, Mother," said Hans, striking
many a vigorous blow, "but the ground has set so firm it'll be a
fair match for it."

"Never fear, Hans," she answered, watching him eagerly. "Here,
let me try awhile."

They soon succeeded in making an impression. One opening and the
rest was not so difficult.

Still they worked on, taking turns and whispering cheerily to one
another. Now and then Dame Brinker stepped noiselessly over the
threshold and listened, to be certain that her husband slept.

"What grand news it will be for him," she said, laughing, "when
he is strong enough to bear it. How I should like to put the
pouch and the stocking, just as we find them, all full of money,
near him this blessed night, for the dear man to see when he

"We must get them first, Mother," panted Hans, still tugging away
at his work.

"There's no doubt of that. They can't slip away from us now,"
she answered, shivering with cold and excitement as she crouched
beside the opening. "Like enough we'll find them stowed in the
old earthen pot I lost long ago."

By this time Hans, too, began to tremble, but not with cold. He
had penetrated a foot deep for quite a space on the south side of
the tree. At any moment they might come upon the treasure.
Meantime the stars winked and blinked at each other as if to say,
"Queer country, this Holland! How much we do see, to be sure!"

"Strange that the dear father should have put it down so woeful
deep," said Dame Brinker in rather a provoked tone. "Ah, the
ground was soft enough then, I warrant. How wise of him to
mistrust Jan Kamphuisen, and Jan in full credit at the time.
Little I thought that handsome fellow with his gay ways would
ever go to jail! Now, Hans, let me take a turn. It's lighter
work, d'ye see, the deeper we go? I'd be loath to kill the tree,
Hans. Will we harm it, do you think?"

"I cannot say," he answered gravely.

Hour after hour, mother and son worked on. The hole grew larger
and deeper. Clouds began to gather in the sky, throwing elfish
shadows as they passed. Not until moon and stars faded away and
streaks of daylight began to appear did Meitje Brinker and Hans
look hopelessly into each other's faces.

They had searched the ground thoroughly, desperately, all round
the tree; south, north, east, west. THE HIDDEN MONEY WAS NOT


Annie Bouman had a healthy distaste for Janzoon Kolp. Janzoon
Kolp, in his own rough way, adored Annie. Annie declared that
she could not "to save her life" say one civil word to that
odious boy. Janzoon believed her to be the sweetest, sauciest
creature in the world. Annie laughed among her playmates at the
comical flapping of Janzoon's tattered and dingy jacket; he
sighed in solitude over the floating grace of her jaunty blue
petticoat. She thanked her stars that her brothers were not like
the Kolps, and he growled at his sister because she was not like
the Boumans. His presence made her harsh and unfeeling, and the
very sight of her made him gentle as a lamb. Of course they were
thrown together very often. It is thus that in some mysterious
way we are convinced of error and cured of prejudice. In this
case, however, the scheme failed. Annie detested Janzoon more
and more at each encounter; and Janzoon liked her better and
better every day.

He killed a stork, the wicked old wretch! she would say to

She knows I am strong and fearless, thought Janzoon.

How red and freckled and ugly he is! was Annie's secret comment
when she looked at him.

How she stares and stares! thought Janzoon. Well, I am a fine,
weather-beaten fellow, anyway.

"Janzoon Kolp, you impudent boy, go right away from me!" Annie
often said. "I don't want any of your company."

Ha! Ha! laughed Janzoon to himself. Girls never say what they
mean. I'll skate with her every chance I can get.

And so it came to pass that the pretty maid would not look up
that morning when, skating homeward from Amsterdam, she became
convinced that a great burly boy was coming down the canal toward

Humph! if I look at him, thought Annie, I'll--

"Good morrow, Annie Bouman," said a pleasant voice.

How a smile brightens a girl's face!

"Good morrow, Master Hans, I am right glad to meet you."

How a smile brightens a boy's face!

"Good morrow, again, Annie. There has been a great change at our
house since you left."

"How so?" she exclaimed, opening her eyes very wide.

Hans, who had been in a great hurry and rather moody, grew
talkative and quite at leisure in Annie's sunshine.

Turning about, and skating slowly with her toward Broek, he told
the good news of his father. Annie was so true a friend that he
told her even of their present distress, of how money was needed
and how everything depended upon his obtaining work, and he could
find nothing to do in the neighborhood.

All this was not said as a complaint but just because she was
looking at him and really wished to know. He could not speak of
last night's bitter disappointment, for that secret was not
wholly his own.

"Good-bye, Annie!" he said at last. "The morning is going fast,
and I must haste to Amsterdam and sell these skates. Mother must
have money at once. Before nightfall I shall certainly find a
job somewhere."

"Sell your new skates, Hans?" cried Annie. "You, the best skater
around Broek! Why, the race is coming off in five days!"

"I know it," he answered resolutely. "Good-bye! I shall skate
home again on the old wooden ones."

Such a bright glance! So different from Janzoon's ugly grin--and
Hans was off like an arrow.

"Hans, come back!" she called.

Her voice changed the arrow into a top. Spinning around, he
darted, in one long, leaning sweep, toward her.

"Then you really are going to sell your new skates if you can
find a customer?"

"Well, Hans, if you ARE going to sell your skates," said Annie,
quite confused, "I mean if you--well, I know somebody who would
like to buy them, that's all."

"Not Janzoon Kolp?" asked Hans, flushing.

"Oh, no," she said, pouting, "he is not one of my friends."

"But you KNOW him," persisted Hans.

Annie laughed, "Yes, I know him, and it's all the worse for him
that I do. Now, please, Hans, don't ever talk any more to me
about Janzoon. I hate him!"

"Hate him! YOU hate anybody, Annie?"

She shook her head saucily. "Yes, and I'll hate you, too, if you
persist in calling him one of my friends. You boys may like him
because he caught the greased goose at the kermis last summer
and climbed the pole with his great, ugly body tied up in a sack,
but I don't care for such things. I've disliked him ever since I
saw him try to push his little sister out of the merry-go-round
at Amsterdam, and it's no secret up OUR way who killed the stork
on your mother's roof. But we mustn't talk about such a bad,
wicked fellow. Really, Hans, I know somebody who would be glad
to buy your skates. You won't get half a price for them in
Amsterdam. Please give them to me. I'll take you the money this
very afternoon."

If Annie was charming even when she said HATE, there was no
withstanding her when she said PLEASE; at least Hans found it to
be so.

"Annie," he said, taking off the skates and rubbing them
carefully with a snarl of twine before handing them to her, "I am
sorry to be so particular, but if your friend should not want
them, will you bring them back to me today? I must buy peat and
meal for the mother early tomorrow morning."

"My friend WILL want them," Annie laughed, nodding gaily, and
skated off at the top of her speed.

As Hans drew forth the wooden "runners" from his capricious
pockets and fastened them on as best he could, he did not hear
Annie murmur, "I wish I had not been so rude. Poor, brave Hans.
What a noble boy he is!" And as Annie skated homeward, filled
with pleasant thoughts, she did not hear Hans say, "I grumbled
like a bear. But bless her! Some girls are like angels!"

Perhaps it was all for the best. One cannot be expected to know
everything that is going on around the world.

Looking For Work

Luxuries unfit us for returning to hardships easily endured
before. The wooden runners squeaked more than ever. It was as
much as Hans could do to get on with the clumsy old things;
still, he did not regret that he had parted with his beautiful
skates, but resolutely pushed back the boyish trouble that he had
not been able to keep them just a little longer, at least until
after the race.

Mother surely will not be angry with me, he thought, for selling
them without her leave. She has had care enough already. It
will be full time to speak of it when I take home the money.

Hans went up and down the streets of Amsterdam that day, looking
for work. He succeeded in earning a few stivers by assisting a
man who was driving a train of loaded mules into the city, but he
could not secure steady employment anywhere. He would have been
glad to obtain a situation as porter or errand boy, but though he
passed on his way many a loitering shuffling urchin, laden with
bundles, there was no place for him. Some shopkeepers had just
supplied themselves; others needed a trimmer, more lightly built
fellow (they meant better dressed but did not choose to say so);
others told him to call again in a month or two, when the canals
would probably be broken up; and many shook their heads at him
without saying a word.

At the factories he met with no better luck. It seemed to him
that in those great buildings, turning out respectively such
tremendous quantities of woolen, cotton, and linen stuffs, such
world-renowned dyes and paints, such precious diamonds cut from
the rough, such supplies of meal, of bricks, of glass and
china--that in at least one of these, a strong-armed boy, able
and eager to work, could find something to do. But no--nearly
the same answer met him everywhere. No need of more hands just
now. If he had called before Saint Nicholas's Day they might
have given him a job as they were hurried then; but at present
they had more boys than they needed. Hans wished they could see,
just for a moment, his mother and Gretel. He did not know how
the anxiety of both looked out from his eyes, and how, more than
once, the gruffest denials were uttered with an uncomfortable
consciousness that the lad ought not be turned away. Certain
fathers, when they went home that night, spoke more kindly than
usual to their youngsters, from memory of a frank, young face
saddened at their words, and before morning one man actually
resolved that he would instruct his head man Blankert to set the
boy from Broek at something if he should come in again.

But Hans knew nothing of all this. Toward sundown he started on
his return to Broek, uncertain whether the strange, choking
sensation in his throat arose from discouragement or resolution.
There was certainly one more chance. Mynheer van Holp might have
returned by this time. Master Peter, it was reported, had gone
to Haarlem the night before to attend to something connected with
the great skating race. Still, Hans would go and try.

Fortunately Peter had returned early that morning. He was at
home when Hans reached there and was just about starting for the
Brinker cottage.

"Ah, Hans!" he cried as the weary boy approached the door. "You
are the very one I wished to see. "You are the very one I wished
to see. Come in and warm yourself."

After tugging at his well-worn hat, which always WOULD stick to
his head when he was embarrassed, Hans knelt down, not by way of
making a new style of oriental salute, nor to worship the
goddess of cleanliness who presided there, but because his heavy
shoes would have filled the soul of a Broek housewife with
horror. When their owner stepped softly into the house, they
were left outside to act as sentinels until his return.

Hans left the Van Holp mansion with a lightened heart. Peter had
brought word from Haarlem that young Brinker was to commence
working upon the summer-house doors immediately. There was a
comfortable workshop on the place and it was to be at his service
until the carving was done.

Peter did not tell him that he had skated all the way to Haarlem
for the purpose of arranging this plan with Mynheer van Holp. It
was enough for him to see the glad, eager look rise on young
Brinker's face.

"I THINK I can do it," said Hans, "though I have never learned
the trade."

"I am SURE you can," responded Peter heartily. "You will find
every tool you require in the workshop. It is nearly hidden
yonder by that wall of twigs. In summer, when the hedge is
green, one cannot see the shop from here at all. How is your
father today?"

"Better, mynheer. He improves every hour."

"It is the most astonishing thing I ever heard of. That gruff
old doctor is a great fellow after all."

"Ah, mynheer," said Hans warmly, "he is more than great. He is
good. But for the meester's kind heart and great skill my poor
father would yet be in the dark. I think, mynheer," he added
with kindling eyes, "surgery is the very noblest science in the

Peter shrugged his shoulders. "Very noble it may be, but not
quite to my taste. This Dr. Boekman certainly has skill. As for
his heart--defend me from such hearts as his!"

"Why do you say so, mynheer?" asked Hans.

Just then a lady slowly entered from an adjoining apartment. It
was Mevrouw van Holp arrayed in the grandest of caps and the
longest of satin aprons ruffled with lace. She nodded placidly
as Hans stepped back from the fire, bowing as well as he knew

Peter at once drew a high-backed oaken chair toward the fire, and
the lady seated herself. There was a block of cork on each side
of the chimney place. One of these he placed under his mother's

Hans turned to go.

"Wait a moment, if you please, young man," said the lady. "I
accidentally overheard you and my son speaking, I think, of my
friend Dr. Boekman. You are right, young man. Dr. Boekman has a
very kind heart. You perceive, Peter, that we may be quite
mistaken in judging a person solely by his manners, though a
courteous deportment is by no means to be despised."

"I intended no disrespect, mother," said Peter, "but surely one
has no right to go growling and snarling through the world as
they say he does."

"They say. Ah, Peter, 'they' means everybody or nobody. Surgeon
Boekman has had a great sorrow. Many years ago he lost his only
child under very painful circumstances. A fine lad, except that
he was a thought too hasty and high-spirited. Before then Gerard
Boekman was one of the most agreeable gentlemen I ever knew."

So saying, Mevrouw van Holp, looking kindly upon the two boys,
rose, and left the room with the same dignity with which she had

Peter, only half convinced, muttered something about "the sin of
allowing sorrow to turn all one's honey into gall" as he
conducted his visitor to the narrow side door. Before they
parted, he advised Hans to keep himself in good skating order,
"for," he added, "now that your father is all right, you will be
in fine spirits for the race. That will be the prettiest skating
show ever seen in this part of the world. Everybody is talking
of it; you are to try for the prize, remember."

"I shall not be in the race, mynheer," said Hans, looking down.

"Not in the race! Why not, indeed!" And immediately Peter's
thoughts swept on a full tide of suspicion toward Carl Schummel.

"Because I cannot, mynheer," answered Hans as he bent to slip
his feet into his big shoes.

Something in the boy's manner warned Peter that it would be no
kindness to press the matter further. He bade Hans good-bye, and
stood thoughtfully watching him as he walked away.

In a minute Peter called out, "Hans Brinker!"

"Yes, mynheer."

"I'll take back all I said about Dr. Boekman."

"Yes, mynheer."

Both were laughing. But Peter's smile changed to a look of
puzzled surprise when he saw Hans kneel down by the canal and put
on the wooden skates.

"Very queer," muttered Peter, shaking his head as he turned to go
into the house. "Why in the world doesn't the boy wear his new

The Fairy Godmother

The sun had gone down quite out of sight when our hero--with a
happy heart but with something like a sneer on his countenance as
he jerked off the wooden "runners"--trudged hopefully toward the
tiny hutlike building, known of old as the "idiot's cottage."

Duller eyes than his would have discerned two slight figures
moving near the doorway.

That gray well-patched jacket and the dull blue skirt covered
with an apron of still duller blue, that faded close-fitting cap,
and those quick little feet in their great boatlike shoes, they
were Gretel's of course. He would have known them anywhere.

That bright coquettish red jacket, with its pretty skirt,
bordered with black, that graceful cap bobbing over the gold
earrings, that dainty apron, and those snug leather shoes that
seemed to have grown with the feet--why if the Pope of Rome had
sent them to him by express, Hans could have sworn they were

The two girls were slowly pacing up and down in front of the
cottage. Their arms were entwined, of course, and their heads
were nodding and shaking as emphatically as if all the affairs of
the kingdom were under discussion.

With a joyous shout Hans hastened toward them.

"Huzza, girls, I've found work!"

This brought his mother to the cottage door.

She, too, had pleasant tidings. The father was still improving.
He had been sitting up nearly all day and was now sleeping as
Dame Brinker declared, "Just as quiet as a lamb."

"It is my turn now, Hans," said Annie, drawing him aside after he
had told his mother the good word from Mynheer van Holp. "Your
skates are sold, and here's the money."

"Seven guilders!" cried Hans, counting the pieces in
astonishment. "Why, that is three times as much as I paid for

"I cannot help that," said Annie. "If the buyer knew no better,
that is not our fault."

Hans looked up quickly.

"Oh, Annie!"

"Oh, Hans!" she mimicked, pursing her lips, and trying to look
desperately wicked and unprincipled.

"Now, Annie, I know you would never mean that! You must return
some of this money."

"But I'll not do any such thing," insisted Annie. "They're sold,
and that's an end of it." Then, seeing that he looked really
pained, she added in a lower tone, "Will you believe me, Hans,
when I say that there has been no mistake, that the person who
bought your skates INSISTED upon paying seven guilders for

"I will," he answered, and the light from his clear blue eyes
seemed to settle and sparkle under Annie's lashes.

Dame Brinker was delighted at the sight of so much silver, but
when she learned that Hans had parted with his treasures to
obtain it, she sighed and then exclaimed, "Bless thee, child!
That will be a sore loss for thee!"

"Here, Mother," said the boy, plunging his hands far into his
pocket, "here is more--we shall be rich if we keep on!"

"Aye, indeed," she answered, eagerly reaching forth her hand.
Then, lowering her voice, added, "We SHOULD be rich but for that
Jan Kamphuisen. He was at the willow tree years ago, Hans.
Depend upon it!"

"Indeed, it seems likely," sighed Hans. "Well, Mother, we must
give up the money bravely. It is certainly gone. The father has
told us all he knows. Let us think no more about it."

"That's easy saying, Hans. I shall try, but it's hard and my
poor man wanting so many comforts. Bless me! How girls fly
about! They were here but this instant. Where did they run to?"

"They slipped behind the cottage," said Hans, "like enough to
hide from us. Hist! I'll catch them for you! They both can
move quicker and softer than yonder rabbit, but I'll give them a
good start first."

"Why, there IS a rabbit, sure enough. Hold, Hans, the poor
thing must have been in sore need to venture from its burrow in
this bitter weather. I'll get a few crumbs for it within."

So saying, the good woman bustled into the cottage. She soon
came out again, but Hans had forgotten to wait, and the rabbit,
after taking a cool survey of the premises, had scampered off to
unknown quarters. Turning the corner of the cottage, Dame
Brinker came upon the children. Hans and Gretel were standing
before Annie, who was seated carelessly upon a stump.

"That is as good as a picture!" cried Dame Brinker, halting in
admiration of the group. "Many a painting have I seen at the
grand house at Heidelberg not a whit prettier. My two are rough
chubs, Annie, but YOU look like a fairy."

"Do I?" laughed Annie, sparkling with animation. "Well, then,
Gretel and Hans, imagine I'm your godmother just paying you a
visit. Now I'll grant you each a wish. What will you have,
Master Hans?"

A shade of earnestness passed over Annie's face as she looked up
at him; perhaps it was because she wished from the depths of her
heart that for once she could have a fairy's power.

Something whispered to Hans that, for a moment, she was more than
mortal. "I wish," said he solemnly, "that I could find something
I was searching for last night!"

Gretel laughed merrily. Dame Brinker moaned. "Shame on you,
Hans!" And she went wearily into the cottage.

The fairy godmother sprang up and stamped her foot three times.

"Thou shalt have thy wish," said she. "Let them say what they
will." Then, with playful solemnity, she put her hand in her
apron pocket and drew forth a large glass bead. "Bury this,"
said she, giving it to Hans, "where I have stamped, and ere
moonrise thy wish shall be granted."

Gretel laughed more merrily than ever.

The godmother pretended great displeasure.

"Naughty child," said she, scowling terribly. "In punishment for
laughing at a fairy, THY wish shall not be granted."

"Ha!" cried Gretel in high glee, "better wait till you're asked,
godmother. I haven't made any wish!"

Annie acted her part well. Never smiling, through all their
merry laughter, she stalked away, the embodiment of offended

"Good night, fairy!" they cried again and again.

"Good night, mortals!" she called out at last as she sprang over
a frozen ditch and ran quickly homeward.

"Oh, isn't she just like flowers--so sweet and lovely!" cried
Gretel, looking after her in great admiration. "And to think how
many days she stays in that dark room with her grandmother. Why,
brother Hans! What is the matter? What are you going to do?"

"Wait and see!" answered Hans as he plunged into the cottage and
came out again, all in an instant, bearing the spade and
ysbreeker in his hands. "I'm going to bury my magic bead!"

Raff Brinker still slept soundly. His wife took a small block of
peat from her nearly exhausted store and put it upon the embers.
Then opening the door, she called gently, "Come in, children."

"Mother! Mother! See here!" shouted Hans.

"Holy Saint Bavon!" exclaimed the dame, springing over the
doorstep. "What ails the boy!"

"Come quick, Mother," he cried in great excitement, working with
all his might and driving in the ysbreeker at each word. "Don't
you see? THIS is the spot--right here on the south side of the
stump. Why didn't we think of it last night? THE STUMP is the
old willow tree--the one you cut down last spring because it
shaded the potatoes. That little tree wasn't here when Father. .

Dame Brinker could not speak. She dropped on her knees beside
Hans just in time to see him drag forth THE OLD STONE POT!

He thrust in his hand and took out a piece of brick, then
another, then another, then the stocking and the pouch, black and
moldy, but filled with the long-lost treasure!

Such a time! Such laughing! Such crying! Such counting after
they went into the cottage! It was a wonder that Raff did not
waken. His dreams were pleasant, however, for he smiled in his

Dame Brinker and her children had a fine supper, I can assure
you. No need of saving the delicacies now.

"We'll get Father some nice fresh things tomorrow," Dame Brinker
said as she brought forth cold meat, wine, bread, and jelly, and
placed them on the clean pine table. "Sit by, children, sit by."

That night Annie fell asleep wondering whether it was a knife
Hans had lost and thinking how funny it would be if he should
find it, after all.

Hans had scarcely closed his eyes before he found himself
trudging along a thicket; pots of gold were lying all around, and
watches and skates, and glittering beads were swinging from every

Strange to say, each tree, as he approached it, changed into a
stump, and on the stump sat the prettiest fairy imaginable, clad
in a scarlet jacket and a blue petticoat.

The Mysterious Watch

Something else than the missing guilders was brought to light on
the day of the fairy godmother's visit. This was the story of
the watch that for ten long years had been so jealously guarded
by Raff's faithful vrouw. Through many an hour of sore
temptation she had dreaded almost to look upon it, lest she might
be tempted to disobey her husband's request. It had been hard to
see her children hungry and to know that the watch, if sold,
would enable the roses to bloom in their cheeks again. "But
nay," she would exclaim, "Meitje Brinker is not one to forget her
man's last bidding, come what may."

"Take good care of this, mine vrouw," he had said as he handed
it to her--that was all. No explanation followed, for the words
were scarcely spoken when one of his fellow workmen rushed into
the cottage, crying, "Come, man! The waters are rising! You're
wanted on the dikes."

Raff had started at once, and that was the last Dame Brinker saw
of him in his right mind.

On the day when Hans was in Amsterdam looking for work, and
Gretel, after performing her household labors, was wandering in
search of chips, twigs, anything that could be burned, Dame
Brinker with suppressed excitement had laid the watch in her
husband's hand.

"It wasn't in reason," as she afterward said to Hans, "to wait
any longer, when a word from the father would settle all. No
woman living but would want to know how he came by that watch."
Raff Brinker turned the bright polished thing over and over in
his hand, then he examined the bit of smoothly ironed black
ribbon fastened to it. He seemed hardly to recognize it. At
last he said, "Ah, I remember this! Why, you've been rubbing it,
vrouw, till it shines like a new guilder."

"Aye," said Dame Brinker, nodding her head complacently.

Raff looked at it again. "Poor boy!" he murmured, then fell into
a brown study.

This was too much for the dame. "'Poor boy!'" she echoed,
somewhat tartly. "What do you think I'm standing here for, Raff
Brinker, and my spinning awaiting, if not to hear more than

"I told ye all, long since," said Raff positively as he looked up
in surprise.

"Indeed, and you never did!" retorted the vrouw.

"Well, if not, since it's no affair of ours, we'll say no more
about it," said Raff, shaking his head sadly. "Like enough while
I've been dead on the earth, all this time, the poor boy's died
and been in heaven. He looked near enough to it, poor lad!"

"Raff Brinker! If you're going to treat me this way, and I
nursing you and bearing with you since I was twenty-two years
old, it's a shame. Aye, and a disgrace," cried the vrouw,
growing quite red and scant of breath.

Raff's voice was feeble yet. "Treat you WHAT way, Meitje?"

"What way," said Dame Brinker, mimicking his voice and manner.
"What way? Why, just as every woman in the world is treated
after she's stood by a man through the worst, like a--"


Raff was leaning forward with outstretched arms. His eyes were
full of tears.

In an instant Dame Brinker was at his feet, clasping his hands in

"Oh, what have I done! Made my good man cry, and he not back
with me four days! Look up, Raff! Nay, Raff, my own boy, I'm
sorry I hurt thee. It's hard not to be told about the watch
after waiting ten years to know, but I'll ask thee no more, Raff.
Here, we'll put the thing away that's made the first trouble
between us, after God just gave thee back to me."

"I was a fool to cry, Meitje," he said, kissing her, "and it's no
more than right that ye should know the truth. But it seemed as
if it might be telling the secrets of the dead to talk about the

"Is the man--the lad--thou wert talking of dead, think thee?"
asked the vrouw, hiding the watch in her hand but seating
herself expectantly on the end of his long foot bench.

"It's hard telling," he answered.

"Was he so sick, Raff?"

"No, not sick, I may say; but troubled, vrouw, very troubled."

"Had he done wrong, think ye?" she asked, lowering her voice.

Raff nodded.

"MURDER?" whispered the wife, not daring to look up.

"He said it was like to that, indeed."

"Oh! Raff, you frighten me. Tell me more, you speak so strange
and you tremble. I must know all."

"If I tremble, mine vrouw, it must be from the fever. There is
no guilt on my soul, thank God!"

"Take a sip of this wine, Raff. There, now you are better. It
was like to a crime, you were saying."

"Aye, Meitje, like to murder. THAT he told me himself. But
I'll never believe it. A likely lad, fresh and honest-looking as
our own youngster but with something not so bold and straight
about him."

"Aye, I know," said the dame gently, fearing to interrupt the

"He came upon me quite suddenly," continued Raff. "I had never
seen his face before, the palest, frightenedest face that ever
was. He caught me by the arm. 'You look like an honest man,'
says he."

"Aye, he was right in that," interrupted the dame emphatically.

Raff looked somewhat bewildered.

"Where was I, mine vrouw?"

"The lad took hold of your arm, Raff," she said, gazing at him

"Aye, so. The words come awkward to me, and everything is like a
dream, ye see."

"S-stut! What wonder, poor man." She sighed, stroking his hand.
"If ye had not had enough for a dozen, the wit would never have
come to ye again. Well, the lad caught me by the arm and said ye
looked honest. (Well he might!) What then? Was it noontime?

"Nay, before daylight--long before early chimes."

"It was the same day you were hurt," said the dame. "I know it
seemed that you went to your work in the middle of the night.
You left off where he caught your arm, Raff."

"Yes," resumed her husband, "and I can see his face this
minute--so white and wild-looking. 'Take me down this river a
way,' says he. I was working then, you'll remember, far down on
the line, across from Amsterdam. I told him I was no boatman.
'It's an affair of life and death,' says he. 'Take me on a few
miles. Yonder skiff is not locked, but it may be a poor man's
boat and I'd be loath to rob him!' (The words might differ some,
vrouw, for it's all like a dream.) Well, I took him down--it
might be six or eight miles--and then he said he could run the
rest of the way on shore. I was in haste to get the boat back.
Before he jumped out, he says, sobbing-like, 'I can trust you.
I've done a thing--God knows I never intended it--but the man is
dead. I must fly from Holland."

"What was it? Did he say, Raff? Had he been shooting at a
comrade, as they do down at the University at Gottingen?"

"I can't recall that. Mayhap he told me, but it's all like a
dream. I said it wasn't for me, a good Hollander, to cheat the
laws of my country by helping him off that way, but he kept
saying, 'God knows I am innocent!' And he looked at me in the
starlight as fair, now, and clear-eyed as our little Hans
might--and I just pulled away faster."

"It must have been Jan Kamphuisen's boat," remarked Dame Brinker
dryly. "None other would have left his oars out that careless."

"Aye, it was Jan's boat, sure enough. The man will be coming in
to see me Sunday, likely, if he's heard, and young Hoogsvliet
too. Where was I?"

"Where were you? Why, not very far, forsooth--the lad hadn't yet
given ye the watch--alack, I misgive whether he came by it

"Why, vrouw," exclaimed Raff Brinker in an injured tone. "He
was dressed soft and fine as the prince himself. The watch was
his own, clear enough."

"How came he to give it up?" asked the dame, looking uneasily at
the fire, for it needed another block of peat.

"I told ye just now," he answered with a puzzled air.

"Tell me again," said Dame Brinker, wisely warding off another

"Well, just before jumping from the boat, he says, handing me the
watch, 'I'm flying from my country as I never thought I could.
I'll trust you because you look honest. Will you take this to my
father--not today but in a week--and tell him his unhappy boy
sent it, and tell him if ever the time comes that he wants me to
come back to him, I'll brave everything and come. Tell him to
send a letter to--to'--there, the rest is all gone from me. I
CAN'T remember where the letter was to go. Poor lad, poor lad!"
resumed Raff, sorrowfully, taking the watch from his vrouw's lap
as he spoke. "And it's never been sent to his father to this

"I'll take it, Raff, never fear--the moment Gretel gets back.
She will be in soon. What was the father's name, did you say?
Where were you to find him?"

"Alack!" answered Raff, speaking very slowly. "It's all slipped
me. I can see the lad's face and his great eyes, just as
plain--and I remember his opening the watch and snatching
something from it and kissing it--but no more. All the rest
whirls past me; there's a sound like rushing waters comes over me
when I try to think."

"Aye. That's plain to see, Raff, but I've had the same feeling
after a fever. You're tired now. I must get ye straight on the
bed again. Where IS the child, I wonder?"

Dame Brinker opened the door, and called, "Gretel! Gretel!"

"Stand aside, vrouw," said Raff feebly as he leaned forward and
endeavored to look out upon the bare landscape. "I've half a
mind to stand beyond the door just once."

"Nay, nay." She laughed. "I'll tell the meester how ye tease
and fidget and bother to be let out in the air; and if he says
it, I'll bundle ye warm tomorrow and give ye a turn on your feet.
But I'm freezing you with this door open. I declare if there
isn't Gretel with her apron full, skating on the canal like wild.
Why, man," she continued almost in a scream as she slammed the
door, "thou'rt walking to the bed without my touching thee!
Thou'lt fall!"

The dame's thee proved her mingled fear and delight, even more
than the rush which she made toward her husband. Soon he was
comfortably settled under the new cover, declaring, as his vrouw
tucked him in snug and warm, that it was the last daylight that
should see him abed.

"Aye! I can hope it myself," laughed Dame Brinker, "now you have
been frisking about at that rate." As Raff closed his eyes, the
dame hastened to revive her fire, or rather to dull it, for Dutch
peat is like a Dutchman, slow to kindle, but very good at a blaze
once started. Then, putting her neglected spinning wheel away,
she drew forth her knitting from some invisible pocket and seated
herself by the bedside.

"If you could remember the man's name, Raff," she began
cautiously, "I might take the watch to him while you're sleeping.
Gretel can't but be in soon."

Raff tried to think but in vain.

"Could it be Boomphoffen?" suggested the dame. "I've heard how
they've had two sons turn out bad--Gerard and Lambert?"

"It might be," said Raff. "Look if there's letters on the watch;
that'll guide us some."

"Bless thee, man," cried the happy dame, eagerly lifting the
watch. "Why, thou'rt sharper than ever! Sure enough. Here's
letters! L.J.B. That's Lambert Boomphoffen, you may depend.
What the J is for I can't say, but they used to be grand kind o'
people, high-feathered as fancy fowl. Just the kind to give
their children all double names, which isn't Scripture, anyway."

"I don't know about that, vrouw. Seems to me there's long mixed
names in the holy Book, hard enough to make out. But you've got
the right guess at a jump. It was your way always," said Raff,
closing his eyes. "Take the watch to Boompkinks and try."

"Not Boompkinks. I know no such name; it's Boomphoffen."

"Aye, take it there."

"Take it there, man! Why the whole brood of them's been gone to
America these four years. But go to sleep, Raff, you look pale
and out of strength. It'll al come to you, what's best to do, in
the morning.

"So, Mistress Gretel! Here you are at last!"

Before Raff awoke that evening, the fairy godmother, as we know,
had been in the cottage, the guilders were once more safely
locked in the big chest, and Dame Brinker and the children were
faring sumptuously on meat and white bread and wine.

So the mother, in the joy of her heart, told them the story of
the watch as far as she deemed it prudent to divulge it. It was
no more than fair, she thought, that the poor things should know
after keeping the secret so safe ever since they had been old
enough to know anything.

A Discovery

The next sun brought a busy day to the Brinkers. In the first
place the news of the thousand guilders had, of course, to be
told to the father. Such tidings as that surely could not harm
him. Then while Gretel was diligently obeying her mother's
injunction to "clean the place fresh as a new brewing," Hans and
the dame sallied forth to revel in the purchasing of peat and

Hans was careless and contented; the dame was filled with
delightful anxieties caused by the unreasonable demands of ten
thousand guilders' worth of new wants that had sprung up like
mushrooms in a single night. The happy woman talked so largely
to Hans on their way to Amsterdam and brought back such little
bundles after all that he scratched his bewildered head as he
leaned against the chimney piece, wondering whether "Bigger the
pouch, tighter the string" was in Jacob Cats, and therefore true,
or whether he had dreamed it when he lay in a fever.

"What thinking on, Big-eyes?" chirruped his mother, half reading
his thoughts as she bustled about, preparing the dinner. "What
thinking on? Why, Raff, would ye believe it, the child thought
to carry half Amsterdam back on his head. Bless us! He would
have bought us as much coffee as would have filled this fire pot.
'No, no, my lad,' says I. 'No time for leaks when the ship is
rich laden.' And then how he stared--aye--just as he stares this
minute. Hoot, lad, fly around a mite. Ye'll grow to the chimney
place with your staring and wondering. Now, Raff, here's your
chair at the head of the table, where it should be, for there's a
man to the house now--I'd say it to the king's face. Aye, that's
the way--lean on Hans. There's a strong staff for you! Growing
like a weed, too, and it seems only yesterday since he was
toddling. Sit by, my man, sit by."

"Can you call to mind, vrouw, "said Raff, settling himself
cautiously in the big chair, "the wonderful music box that
cheered your working in the big house at Heidelberg?"

"Aye, that I can," answered the dame. "Three turns of a brass
key and the witchy thing would send the music fairly running up
and down one's back. I remember it well. But, Raff"--growing
solemn in an instant--"you would never throw our guilders away
for a thing like that?"

"No, no, not I, vrouw, for the good Lord has already given me a
music box without pay."

All three cast quick, frightened glances at one another and at
Raff. Were his wits on the wing again?

"Aye, and a music box that fifty pouchful would not buy from me,"
insisted Raff. "And it's set going by the turn of a mop handle,
and it slips and glides around the room, everywhere in a flash,
carrying the music about till you'd swear the birds were back

"Holy Saint Bavon!" screeched the dame. "What's in the man?"

"Comfort and joy, vrouw, that's what's in him! Ask Gretel, ask
my little music box Gretel if your man has lacked comfort and joy
this day."

"Not he, Mother," laughed Gretel. "He's been MY music box, too.
We sang together half the time you were gone."

"Aye, so," said the dame, greatly relieved. "Now, Hans, you'll
never get through with a piece like that, but never mind, chick,
thou'st had a long fasting. Here, Gretel, take another slice of
the sausage. It'll put blood in your cheeks."

"Oh! Oh, Mother," laughed Gretel, eagerly holding forth her
platter. "Blood doesn't grow in girls' cheeks--you mean roses.
Isn't it roses, Hans?"

While Hans was hastily swallowing a mammoth mouthful in order to
give a suitable reply to this poetic appeal, Dame Brinker settled
the matter with a quick, "Well, roses or blood, it's all one to
me, so the red finds its way on your sunny face. It's enough for
mother to get pale and weary-looking without--"

"Hoot, vrouw," spoke up Raff hastily, "thou'rt fresher and
rosier this minute than both our chicks put together."

This remark, though not bearing very strong testimony to the
clearness of Raff's newly awakened intellect, nevertheless
afforded the dame immense satisfaction. The meal accordingly
went on in the most delightful manner.

After dinner the affair of the watch was talked over and the
mysterious initials duly discussed.

Hans had just pushed back his stool, intending to start at once
for Mynheer van Holp's, and his mother had risen to put the watch
away in its old hiding place, when they heard the sound of wheels
upon the frozen ground.

Someone knocked at the door, opening it at the same time.

"Come in," stammered Dame Brinker, hastily trying to hide the
watch in her bosom. "Oh, is it you, mynheer! Good day! The
father is nearly well, as you see. It's a poor place to greet
you in, mynheer, and the dinner not cleared away."

Dr. Boekman scarcely noticed the dame's apology. He was
evidently in haste.

"Ahem!" he exclaimed. "Not needed here, I perceive. The patient
is mending fast."

"Well he may, mynheer," cried the dame, "for only last night we
found a thousand guilders that's been lost to us these ten

Dr. Boekman opened his eyes.

"Yes, mynheer," said Raff. "I bid the vrouw tell you, though
it's to be held a secret among us, for I see you can keep your
lips closed as well as any man."

The doctor scowled. He never liked personal remarks.

"Now, mynheer," continued Raff, "you can take your rightful pay.
God knows you have earned it, if bringing such a poor tool back
to the world and his family can be called a service. Tell the
vrouw what's to pay, mynheer. She will hand out the sum right

"Tut, tut!" said the doctor kindly. "Say nothing about money. I
can find plenty of such pay any time, but gratitude comes seldom.
That boy's thank-you," he added, nodding sidewise toward Hans,
was pay enough for me."

"Like enough ye have a boy of your own," said Dame Brinker, quite
delighted to see the great man becoming so sociable.

Dr. Boekman's good nature vanished at once. He gave a growl (at
least, it seemed so to Gretel), but made no actual reply.

"Do not think the vrouw meddlesome, mynheer," said Raff. "She
has been sore touched of late about a lad whose folks have gone
away--none knows where--and I had a message for them from the
young gentleman."

"The name was Boomphoffen," said the dame eagerly. "Do you know
aught of the family, mynheer?"

The doctor's reply was brief and gruff.

"Yes. A troublesome set. They went long since to America."

"It might be, Raff," persisted Dame Brinker timidly, "that the
meester knows somebody in that country, though I'm told they are
mostly savages over there. If he could get the watch to the
Boomphoffens with the poor lad's message, it would be a most
blessed thing."

"Tut, vrouw, why pester the good meester, and dying men and
women wanting him everywhere? How do ye know ye have the true

"I'm sure of it," she replied. "They had a son Lambert, and
there's an L for Lambert and a B for Boomphoffen, on the back,
though, to be sure, there's an odd J, too, but the meester can
look for himself."

So saying, she drew forth the watch.

"L.J.B.!" cried Dr. Boekman, springing toward her.

Why attempt to describe the scene that followed? I need only say
that the lad's message was delivered to his father at last,
delivered while the great surgeon was sobbing like a little

"Laurens! My Laurens!" he cried, gazing with yearning eyes at
the watch as he held it tenderly in his palm. "Ah, if I had but
known sooner! Laurens a homeless wanderer--great heaven! He may
be suffering, dying at this moment! Think, man, where is he?
Where did my boy say that the letter must be sent?"

Raff shook his head sadly.

"Think!" implored the doctor. Surely the memory so lately
awakened through his aid could not refuse to serve him in a
moment like this.

"It is all gone, mynheer," sighed Raff.

Hans, forgetting distinctions of rank and station, forgetting
everything but that his good friend was in trouble, threw his
arms around the doctor's neck.

"I can find your son, mynheer. If alive, he is SOMEWHERE. The
earth is not so very large. I will devote every day of my life
to the search. Mother can spare me now. You are rich, mynheer.
Send me where you will."

Gretel began to cry. It was right for Hans to go, but how could
they ever live without him?"

Dr. Boekman made no reply, neither did he push Hans away. His
eyes were fixed anxiously upon Raff Brinker. Suddenly he lifted
the watch and, with trembling eagerness, attempted to open it.
Its stiffened spring yielded at last; the case flew open,
disclosing a watch paper in the back bearing a group of blue
forget-me-nots. Raff, seeing a shade of intense disappointment
pass over the doctor's face, hastened to say, "There was
something else in it, mynheer, but the young gentleman tore it
out before he handed it to me. I saw him kiss it as he put it

"It was his mother's picture," moaned the doctor. "She died when
he was ten years old. Thank God! The boy had not forgotten!
Both dead? It is impossible!" he cried, starting up. "My boy is
alive. You shall hear his story. Laurens acted as my assistant.
By mistake he portioned out the wrong medicine for one of my
patients--a deadly poison--but it was never administered, for I
discovered the error in time. The man died that day. I was
detained with other bad cases until the next evening. When I
reached home my boy was gone. Poor Laurens!" sobbed the doctor,
breaking down completely. "Never to hear from me through all
these years. His message disregarded. Oh, what he must have

Dame Brinker ventured to speak. Anything was better than to see
the meester cry.

"It is a mercy to know the young gentleman was innocent. Ah, how
he fretted! Telling you, Raff, that his crime was like unto
murder. It was sending the wrong physic that he meant. Crime
indeed! Why, our own Gretel might have done that! Like enough
the poor young gentleman heard that the man was dead--that's why
he ran, mynheer. He said, you know, Raff, that he never could
come back to Holland again, unless"--she hesitated--"ah, your
honor, ten years is a dreary time to be waiting to hear from--"

"Hist, vrouw!" said Raff sharply.

"Waiting to hear"--the doctor groaned--"and I, like a fool,
sitting stubbornly at home, thinking that he had abandoned me. I
never dreamed, Brinker, that the boy had discovered the mistake.
I believed it was youthful folly, ingratitude, love of adventure,
that sent him away. My poor, poor Laurens!"

"But you know all, now, mynheer," whispered Hans. "You know he
was innocent of wrong, that he loved you and his dead mother. We
will find him. You shall see him again, dear meester."

"God bless you!" said Dr. Boekman, seizing the boy's hand. "It
may be as you say. I shall try--I shall try--and, Brinker, if
ever the faintest gleam of recollection concerning him should
come to you, you will send me word at once?"

"Indeed we will!" cried all but Hans, whose silent promise would
have satisfied the doctor even had the others not spoken.

"Your boy's eyes," he said, turning to Dame Brinker, "are
strangely like my son's. The first time I met him it seemed that
Laurens himself was looking at me."

"Aye, mynheer," replied the mother proudly. "I have marked that
you were much drawn to the child."

For a few moments the meester seemed lost in thought, then,
arousing himself, he spoke in a new voice. "Forgive me, Raff
Brinker, for this tumult. Do not feel distressed on my account.
I leave your house today a happier man than I have been for many
a long year. Shall I take the watch?"

"Certainly, you must, mynheer. It was your son's wish."

"Even so," responded the doctor, regarding his treasure with a
queer frown, for his face could not throw off its bad habits in
an hour, "even so. And now I must be gone. No medicine is
needed by my patient, only peace and cheerfulness, and both are
here in plenty. Heaven bless you, my good friends! I shall ever
be grateful to you."

"May Heaven bless you, too, mynheer, and may you soon find the
young gentleman," said Dame Brinker earnestly, after hurriedly
wiping her eyes upon the corner of her apron.

Raff uttered a hearty, "Amen!" and Gretel threw such a wistful,
eager glance at the doctor that he patted her head as he turned
to leave the cottage.

Hans went out also.

"When I can serve you, mynheer, I am ready."

"Very well, boy," replied Dr. Boekman with peculiar mildness.
"Tell them, within, to say nothing of what has just happened.
Meantime, Hans, when you are with his father, watch his mood.
You have tact. At any moment he may suddenly be able to tell us

"Trust me for that, mynheer."

"Good day, my boy!" cried the doctor as he sprang into his
stately coach.

Aha! thought Hans as it rolled away, the meester has more life
in him than I thought.

The Race

The twentieth of December came at last, bringing with it the
perfection of winter weather. All over the level landscape lay
the warm sunlight. It tried its power on lake, canal, and river,
but the ice flashed defiance and showed no sign of melting. The
very weathercocks stood still to enjoy the sight. This gave the
windmills a holiday. Nearly all the past week they had been
whirling briskly; now, being rather out of breath, they rocked
lazily in the clear, still air. Catch a windmill working when
the weathercocks have nothing to do!

There was an end to grinding, crushing, and sawing for that day.
It was a good thing for the millers near Broek. Long before noon
they concluded to take in their sails and go to the race.
Everybody would be there--already the north side of the frozen Y
was bordered with eager spectators. The news of the great
skating match had traveled far and wide. Men, women, and
children in holiday attire were flocking toward the spot. Some
wore furs and wintry cloaks or shawls, but many, consulting their
feelings rather than the almanac, were dressed as for an October

The site selected for the race was a faultless plain of ice near
Amsterdam, on that great arm of the Zuider Zee, which Dutchmen,
of course, must call the Eye. The townspeople turned out in
large numbers. Strangers to the city deemed it a fine chance to
see what was to be seen. Many a peasant from the northward had
wisely chosen the twentieth as the day for the next city trading.
It seemed that everybody, young and old, who had wheels, skates,
or feet at command had hastened to the scene.

There were the gentry in their coaches, dressed like Parisians,
fresh from the boulevards; Amsterdam children in charity
uniforms; girls from the Roman Catholic Orphan House, in sable
gowns and white headbands; boys from the Burgher Asylum, with
their black tights and short-skirted, harlequin coats. *{This is
not said in derision. Both the boys and girls of this
institution wear garments quartered in red and black,
alternately. By making the dress thus conspicuous, the children
are, in a measure, deterred from wrongdoing while going about the
city. The Burgher Orphan Asylum affords a comfortable home to
several hundred boys and girls. Holland is famous for its
charitable institutions.} There were old-fashioned gentlemen in
cocked hats and velvet knee breeches; old-fashioned ladies, too,
in stiff quilted skirts and bodices of dazzling brocade. These
were accompanied by servants bearing foot stoves and cloaks.
There were the peasant folk arrayed in every possible Dutch
costume, shy young rustics in brazen buckles; simple village
maidens concealing their flaxen hair under fillets of gold; women
whose long, narrow aprons were stiff with embroidery; women with
short corkscrew curls hanging over their foreheads; women with
shaved heads and close-fitting caps; and women in striped skirts
and windmill bonnets. Men in leather, in homespun, in velvet,
and in broadcloth; burghers in model European attire, and
burghers in short jackets, wide trousers, and steeple-crowned

There were beautiful Friesland girls in wooden shoes and coarse
petticoats, with solid gold crescents encircling their heads,
finished at each temple with a golden rosette and hung with lace
a century old. Some wore necklaces, pendants, and earrings of
the purest gold. Many were content with gilt or even with brass,
but it is not an uncommon thing for a Friesland woman to have all
the family treasure in her headgear. More than one rustic lass
displayed the value of two thousand guilders upon her head that

Scattered throughout the crowd were peasants from the Island or
Marken, with sabots, black stockings, and the widest of breeches;
also women from Marken with short blue petticoats, and black
jackets, gaily figured in front. They wore red sleeves, white
aprons, and a cap like a bishop's miter over their golden hair.

The children often were as quaint and odd-looking as their
elders. In short, one-third of the crowd seemed to have stepped
bodily from a collection of Dutch paintings.

Everywhere could be seen tall women and stumpy men, lively-faced
girls, and youths whose expression never changed from sunrise to

There seemed to be at least one specimen from every known town in
Holland. There were Utrecht water bearers, Gouda cheesemakers,
Delft pottery men, Schiedam distillers, Amsterdam diamond
cutters, Rotterdam merchants, dried-up herring packers, and two
sleepy-eyes shepherds from Texel. Every man of them had his pipe
and tobacco pouch. Some carried what might be called the
smoker's complete outfit--a pipe, tobacco, a pricker with which
to clean the tube, a silver net for protecting the bowl, and a
box of the strongest brimstone matches.

A true Dutchman, you must remember, is rarely without his pipe on
any possible occasion. He may for a moment neglect to breathe,
but when the pipe is forgotten, he must be dying indeed. There
were no such sad cases here. Wreaths of smoke were rising from
every possible quarter. The more fantastic the smoke wreath, the
more placid and solemn the smoker.

Look at those boys and girls on stilts! That is a good idea.
They can see over the heads of the tallest. It is strange to see
those little bodies high in the air, carried about on mysterious
legs. They have such a resolute look on their round faces, what
wonder that nervous old gentlemen with tender feet wince and
tremble while the long-legged little monsters stride past them.

You will read in certain books that the Dutch are a quiet
people--so they are generally. But listen! Did you ever hear
such a din? All made up of human voices--no, the horses are
helping somewhat, and the fiddles are squeaking pitifully (how it
must pain fiddles to be tuned!), but the mass of the sound comes
from the great vox humana that belongs to a crowd.

That queer little dwarf going about with a heavy basket, winding
in and out among the people, helps not a little. You can hear
his shrill cry above all the other sounds, "Pypen en tabac!
Pypen en tabac!"

Another, his big brother, though evidently some years younger, is
selling doughnuts and bonbons. He is calling on all pretty
children far and near to come quickly or the cakes will be gone.

You know quite a number among the spectators. High up in yonder
pavilion, erected upon the border of the ice, are some persons
whom you have seen very lately. In the center is Madame van
Gleck. It is her birthday, you remember; she has the post of
honor. There is Mynheer van Gleck, whose meerschaum has not
really grown fast to his lips--it only appears so. There are
Grandfather and Grandmother, whom you met at the Saint Nicholas
fete. All the children are with them. It is so mild, they have
brought even the baby. The poor little creature is swathed very
much after the manner of an Egyptian mummy, but it can crow with
delight and, when the band is playing, open and shut its animated
mittens in perfect time to the music.

Grandfather, with his pipe and spectacles and fur cap, makes
quite a picture as he holds baby upon his knee. Perched high
upon their canopied platforms, the party can see all that is
going on. No wonder the ladies look complacently at the glassy
ice; with a stove for a foot stool one might sit cozily beside
the North Pole.

There is a gentleman with them who somewhat resembles Saint
Nicholas as he appeared to the young Van Glecks on the fifth of
December. But the saint had a flowing white beard, and this face
is as smooth as a pippin. His saintship was larger around the
body, too, and (between ourselves) he had a pair of thimbles in
his mouth, which this gentleman certain has not. It cannot be
Saint Nicholas after all.

Nearby, in the next pavilion, sit the Van Holps with their son
and daughter (the Van Gends) from The Hague. Peter's sister is
not one to forget her promises. She has brought bouquets of
exquisite hothouse flowers for the winners.

These pavilions, and there are others besides, have all been
erected since daylight. That semicircular one, containing
Mynheer Korbes's family, is very pretty and proves that the
Hollanders are quite skilled at tentmaking, but I like the Van
Glecks' best--the center one--striped red and white and hung with

The one with the blue flags contains the musicians. Those
pagodalike affairs, decked with seashells and streamers of every
possible hue, are the judges' stands, and those columns and
flagstaffs upon the ice mark the limit of the race course. The
two white columns twined with green, connected at the top by that
long, floating strip of drapery, form the starting point. Those
flagstaffs, half a mile off, stand at each end of the boundary
line, which is cut sufficiently deep to be distinct to the
skaters, though not deep enough to trip them when they turn to
come back to the starting point.

The air is so clear that is seems scarcely possible that the
columns and the flagstaffs are so far apart. Of course, the
judges' stands are but little nearer together.

Half a mile on the ice, when the atmosphere is like this, is but
a short distance after all, especially when fenced with a living
chain of spectators.

The music has commenced. How melody seems to enjoy itself in the
open air! The fiddles have forgotten their agony, and everything
is harmonious. Until you look at the blue tent it seems that the
music springs from the sunshine, it is so boundless, so joyous.
Only when you see the staid-faced musicians do you realize the

Where are the racers? All assembled together near the white
columns. It is a beautiful sight. Forty boys and girls in
picturesque attire darting with electric swiftness in and out
among each other, or sailing in pairs and triplets, beckoning,
chatting, whispering in the fullness of youthful glee.

A few careful ones are soberly tightening their straps; others
halting on one leg, with flushed, eager faces, suddenly cross the
suspected skate over their knee, give it an examining shake, and
dart off again. One and all are possessed with the spirit of
motion. They cannot stand still. Their skates are a part of
them, and every runner seems bewitched.

Holland is the place for skaters, after all. Where else can
nearly every boy and girl perform feats on the ice that would
attract a crowd if seen in Central Park? Look at Ben! He is
really astonishing the natives; no easy thing to do in the
Netherlands. Save your strength, Ben, you will need it soon.
Now other boys are trying! Ben is surpassed already. Such
jumping, such poising, such spinning, such India-rubber exploits
generally! That boy with a red cap is the lion now; his back is
a watch spring, his body is cork--no, it is iron, or it would
snap at that! He's a bird, a top, a rabbit, a corkscrew, a
sprite, a fleshball, all in an instant. When you think he's
erect, he is down, and when you think he is down, he is up. He
drops his glove on the ice and turns a somersault as he picks it
up. Without stopping he snatches the cap from Jacob Poot's
astonished head and claps it back again "hindside before."
Lookers-on hurrah and laugh. Foolish boy! It is arctic weather
under your feet, but more than temperate over head. Big drops
already are rolling down your forehead. Superb skater as you
are, you may lose the race.

A French traveler, standing with a notebook in his hand, sees our
English friend, Ben, buy a doughnut of the dwarf's brother and
eat it. Thereupon he writes in his notebook that the Dutch take
enormous mouthfuls and universally are fond of potatoes boiled in

There are some familiar faces near the white columns. Lambert,
Ludwig, Peter, and Carl are all there, cool and in good skating
order. Hans is not far off. Evidently he is going to join in
the race, for his skates are on--the very pair that he sold for
seven guilders! He had soon suspected that his fairy godmother
was the mysterious "friend" who bought them. This settled, he
had boldly charged her with the deed, and she, knowing well that
all her little savings had been spent in the purchase, had not
had the face to deny it. Through the fairy godmother, too, he
had been rendered amply able to buy them back again. Therefore
Hans is to be in the race. Carl is more indignant than ever
about it, but as three other peasant boys have entered, Hans is
not alone.

Twenty boys and twenty girls. The latter, by this time, are
standing in front, braced for the start, for they are to have the
first "run." Hilda, Rychie, and Katrinka are among them--two or
three bend hastily to give a last pull at their skate straps. It
is pretty to see them stamp, to be sure that all is firm. Hilda
is speaking pleasantly to a graceful little creature in a red
jacket and a new brown petticoat. Why, it is Gretel! What a
difference those pretty shoes make, and the skirt and the new
cap. Annie Bouman is there, too. Even Janzoon Kolp's sister has
been admitted, but Janzoon himself has been voted out by the
directors, because he killed the stork, and only last summer was
caught in the act of robbing a bird's nest, a legal offence in

This Janzoon Kolp, you see, was--There, I cannot tell the story
just now. The race is about to commence.

Twenty girls are formed in a line. The music has ceased.

A man, whom we shall call the crier, stands between the columns
and the first judges' stand. He reads the rules in a loud voice:
"The girls and boys are to race in turn, until one girl and one
boy have beaten twice. They are to start in a line from the
united columns, skate to the flagstaff line, turn, and then come
back to the starting point, thus making a mile at each run."

A flag is waved from the judges' stand. Madame van Gleck rises
in her pavilion. She leans forward with a white handkerchief in
her hand. When she drops it, a bugler is to give the signal for
them to start.

The handkerchief is fluttering to the ground! Hark!

They are off!

No. Back again. Their line was not true in passing the judges'

The signal is repeated.

Off again. No mistake this time. Whew! How fast they go!

The multitude is quiet for an instant, absorbed in eager,
breathless watching.

Cheers spring up along the line of spectators. Huzza! Five
girls are ahead. Who comes flying back from the boundary mark?
We cannot tell. Something red, that is all. There is a blue
spot flitting near it, and a dash of yellow nearer still.
Spectators at this end of the line strain their eyes and wish
they had taken their post nearer the flagstaff.

The wave of cheers is coming back again. Now we can see.
Katrinka is ahead!

She passes the Van Holp pavilion. The next is Madame van
Gleck's. That leaning figure gazing from it is a magnet. Hilda
shoots past Katrinka, waving her hand to her mother as she
passes. Two others are close now, whizzing on like arrows. What
is that flash of red and gray? Hurray, it is Gretel! She, too,
waves her hand, but toward no gay pavilion. The crowd is
cheering, but she hears only her father's voice. "Well done,
little Gretel!" Soon Katrinka, with a quick, merry laugh, shoots
past Hilda. The girl in yellow is gaining now. She passes them
all, all except Gretel. The judges lean forward without seeming
to lift their eyes from their watches. Cheer after cheer fills
the air; the very columns seem rocking. Gretel has passed them.
She has won.

"Gretel Brinker, one mile!" shouts the crier.

The judges nod. They write something upon a tablet which each
holds in his hand.

While the girls are resting--some crowding eagerly around our
frightened little Gretel, some standing aside in high
disdain--the boys form a line.

Mynheer van Gleck drops the handkerchief this time. The buglers
give a vigorous blast! The boys have started!

Halfway already! Did ever you see the like?

Three hundred legs flashing by in an instant. But there are only
twenty boys. No matter, there were hundreds of legs, I am sure!
Where are they now? There is such a noise, one gets bewildered.
What are the people laughing at? Oh, at that fat boy in the
rear. See him go! See him! He'll be down in an instant; no, he
won't. I wonder if he knows he is all alone; the other boys are
nearly at the boundary line. Yes, he knows it. He stops! He
wipes his hot face. He takes off his cap and looks about him.
Better to give up with a good grace. He has made a hundred
friends by that hearty, astonished laugh. Good Jacob Poot!

The fine fellow is already among the spectators, gazing as
eagerly as the rest.

A cloud of feathery ice flies from the heels of the skaters as
they "bring to" and turn at the flagstaffs.

Something black is coming now, one of the boys--it is all we
know. He has touched the vox humana stop of the crowd; it fairly
roars. Now they come nearer--we can see the red cap. There's
Ben--there's Peter--there's Hans!

Hans is ahead! Young Madame van Gend almost crushes the flowers
in her hand; she had been quite sure that Peter would be first.
Carl Schummel is next, then Ben, and the youth with the red cap.
A tall figure darts from among them. He passes the red cap, he
passes Ben, then Carl. Now it is an even race between him and
Hans. Madame van Gend catches her breath.

It is Peter! He is ahead! Hans shoots past him. Hilda's eyes
fill with tears. Peter MUST beat. Annie's eyes flash proudly.
Gretel gazes with clasped hands--four strokes more will take her
brother to the columns.

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