A Dutch Treat

: Boys And Girls Bookshelf


"I've been crying again, father."

"Have you, sweetheart? I'm sorry."


"Yes, darling."

"I don't like Holland at all. I wish we had stayed in New York. And I

would much rather stay in Amsterdam with you to-day than to go and see

those horrid little Dutch children. I'm sure I shall hate them all."

"But how about Marie? You want to see her, don't you?"

"No. I'm very much annoyed with Marie. I don't see why she could not

have been contented in New York. After taking care of me ever since I

was a baby, she must like me better than those nieces and nephews she

never saw till yesterday."

"I am sure Marie loves you very dearly, Katharine, but you are getting

to be such a big girl now that you no longer need a nurse, and Marie was

homesick. She wished to come back to Holland years ago, but I persuaded

her to stay till you were old enough to do without her, and until Aunt

Katharine was ready to come to New York and live with us, promising her

that when that time came you and I would come over with her, just as we

have done, on our way to Paris. We must not be selfish and grudge Marie

to her sisters, who have not seen her for twelve years."

"I am homesick now, too, father. I was so happy in New York with my

dolls--and you--and Marie--and--"

"So you shall be again, darling; in a few months we will go back, taking

dear Aunt Katharine with us from Paris, and you will soon love her

better than you do Marie."

Katharine and her father, Colonel Easton, were floating along a canal

just out of Amsterdam, in a trekschuit, or small passenger-boat, on

their way to the home of one of Marie's sisters, two of whom were

married and settled near one of the dikes of Holland. Katharine was to

spend the day there with her nurse, and make the acquaintance of all the

nieces and nephews about whom Marie had told her so much, while her

father was to return to Amsterdam, where he had business to transact

with a friend. They had arrived in Holland only the day before, when

Marie had immediately left them, being anxious to get home as soon as

possible, after exacting a promise from the colonel that Katharine

should visit her the next day.

Katharine felt very sure she would never like Holland as she gazed

rather scornfully at the curious objects they passed: the queer

gay-colored boats, the windmills which met the eye at every turn, with

their great arms waving in the air, the busy-looking people, men and

women, some of the latter knitting as they walked, carrying heavy

baskets on their backs, and all looking so contented and placid.

"Try and think of the nice day you are going to have with Marie and the

children," said the colonel; "then this evening I will come for you, and

we will go together to Paris, and when you see Aunt Katharine you will

be perfectly happy. See, we are nearly at the landing, and look at that

row of little girls and boys. I do believe they are looking for you."

"Yes; they must be Marie's sister's children, I know them from the

description Marie has read me from her letters. Aren't they horrid

little things, father? Just look at their great clumps of shoes--"

"Yes--klompen; that is what they are called, Katharine."

"And their baggy clothes and short waists! One of them knitting, too!

Well, I would never make such a fright of myself, even if I did live in

Holland, which I'm glad I don't."

By this time they had made the landing. Then Katharine and Marie fell

into each other's arms and cried, gazed at in half-frightened curiosity

by seven small, shy Hollanders, and in pitying patience by a very large


"Au revoir. I will call for Katharine this afternoon," called Colonel

Easton, when the time came for him to go on board again.

Katharine waved her handkerchief to her father as long as his boat was

in sight.

"See, Miss Katharine," said Marie--in Dutch now, for Katharine

understood that language very well, Marie having spoken it to her from

her infancy--"here is Gretel, and this is her little sister Katrine and

her brother Jan. The others are their cousins. Come here, Lotten; don't

be shy. Ludolf, Mayken, Freitje, shake hands with my little American

girl; they were all eager to come and meet you, dear, so I had to bring


Katharine shook hands very soberly with the little group, and then

walked off beside Marie, hearing nothing but the clatter-clatter of

fourteen wooden shoes behind her.

Soon they arrived at the cottage, and in a moment seven pairs of klompen

were ranged in a neat row outside a small cottage, while their owners

all talked at once to two sweet-faced women standing in the doorway.

These were Marie's sisters, whose husbands were out on the sea fishing,

and who lived close beside each other in two tiny cottages exactly


"Oh," exclaimed Katharine, as, panting and breathless, she joined the

group, "do you always take off your shoes before you go into the


"Why, of course," said the children.

"How funny!" said Katharine.

Then Marie, who had been left far behind, came up and introduced the

little stranger to Juffrouw Van Dyne and Juffrouw Boekman, who took her

into the house, followed by the three children who belonged there and

the four cousins who belonged next door. They took off her coat and hat

and gave her an arm-chair to sit in as she nibbled a tiny piece of

gingerbread, while large pieces from the same loaf disappeared as if by

magic among the other children. Then Gretel showed to her her doll; Jan

shyly put into her hand a very pretty small model of the boat she had

come in on that morning; Lotten offered her a piece of Edam cheese,

which she took, while politely declining Mayken's offer to teach her to

knit, little Katrine deposited a beautiful white kitten on her lap;

Ludolf showed her a fine pair of klompen on which his father was

teaching him to carve some very pretty figures; Freitje brought all his

new fishing-tackle and invited her to go fishing with him at the back of

the house. It was not long before Katharine forgot that she was

homesick, and grew really interested in her surroundings; and later the

dinner, consisting chiefly of fish and rye bread, tasted very good to

the now hungry Katharine.

It was after dinner that the tragedy happened. The children had all

started out for a walk. Before they had gone more than a mile from the

house the fog settled all around them--so dense, so thick, blotting out

everything, that they could not see more than a step ahead. They were

not frightened, however, as all they had to do was to turn round and go

straight ahead toward home. The children took one another's hands at

Gretel's direction, stretching themselves across the road, Katharine,

who held Gretel's hand, being at one end of the line. They walked on

slowly along the dike for a short time, talking busily, though not able

to see where they were going, when suddenly Katharine felt her feet

slipping. In trying to steady herself she let go of Gretel, gave a wild

clutch at the air, and then rolled, rolled, right down a steep bank,

and, splash! into a pool of water at the bottom. For a moment she lay

half stunned, not knowing what had happened to her; then, as her sense

came, "Oh," thought she, "I must be killed, or drowned, or something!"

She tried to call "Gretel," but her voice sounded weak and far off, and

she could see nothing. Slowly she crawled out of the pool, only to

plunge, splash! into another. She felt, oh, so cold, wet, and bruised!

"I must have rolled right down the dike," she thought. "If I could find

it, I might climb up again." She got up and tried to walk, but sank to

her ankles in water at every step.

She was a little lame from her fall, and soaked from head to foot. Her

clothes hung around her most uncomfortably when she tried to walk. But,

if she had to crawl on hands and knees, she must find the house; so,

plunging, tumbling, rising again, she crawled in and out of ditches,

every minute getting more cold and miserable.

But on she went, shivering and sore, every moment wandering farther from

her friends, who were out searching all along the bottom of the dike.

After what seemed to her a long time, she came bump up against something

hard. She did not know what it was, but she could have jumped for joy,

if her clothes had not been so heavy to hear a voice suddenly call out

in Dutch "What's that? Who has hit against my door? Ach! where in the

world have you come from?" Then in a considerably milder tone: "Ach! the

little one! and she is English. How did you get here, dear heart?"

"I--I--fell down the dike. I have--lost--everybody. Oh, how shall I ever

get back to father?" answered Katharine in her very poor Dutch.

"But tell me, little one, where you came from--ach! so cold and wet!"

"I was spending the day with Marie and Gretel--and--Jan--and we were

walking on the dike when the fog came on; then I fell, and could not

find my way--"

"Gretel and Jan--could they be Juffrouw Van Dyne's children?"

"Yes, yes," eagerly; "that is where I was. Oh, can you take me back,

dear, dear juffrouw?"

"Yes, when the fog clears away, my child. I could not find the house

now; it is more than two miles from here. Besides, you must put off

these wet clothes; you will get your death of cold--poor lambkin."

At this Katharine's sobs broke forth afresh. It must be late in the

evening now, she thought; her father would come to Marie's and would not

be able to find her--

"No, dear child, it is only four o'clock in the afternoon. The fog may

clear away very soon, and then I will take you back."

Quickly the wet garments were taken off and hung about the stove.

Katharine presently found herself wrapped up in blankets in a great

arm-chair in front of the fire, a cushion at her back and another under

her feet, drinking some nice hot broth, and feeling so warm and

comfortable that she fell fast asleep, and awoke two hours later to find

the room quite light, the fog almost gone, the juffrouw sitting beside

her knitting, and a comfortable-looking cat purring noisily at her


"I think I have been asleep," she said.

"I think you have," said Dame Donk.

Just then a loud knock was heard at the door, a head was poked in, then

another, and still another. The cottage was fast filling up. There

stood, first of all, poor, pale, frightened Marie, holding a large

bundle in her arms, Jan with another smaller one, Gretel carrying a pair

of shoes, and one of the sisters, completely filling up the doorway with

her ample proportions, last of all.

It appears that as soon as the fog had begun to clear, the good Dame

Donk had despatched a boy from a neighboring cottage to let them know

where Katharine was, and that her wardrobe would need replenishing.

The excitement on finding the child safe and sound may be better

imagined than described. How she was kissed, cried, and laughed over,

what questions were asked and not answered, as she was taken into an

adjoining room and arrayed in a complete suit of Gretel's clothes, even

to the klompen, for, alas! her French shoes were now in no condition to

be worn, the pretty blue frock torn and stained and hopelessly wet, the

hat with its dainty plume crushed and useless; indeed, every article she

had worn looked only fit for the rag-bag.

Gretel was so much smaller than Katharine that the clothes were a very

tight fit, the skirt which hung round Gretel's ankles reaching just

below Katharine's knees, and it was a funny little figure that stepped

back into the room--no longer a fashionably dressed New York maiden, but

a golden-haired child of Holland, even to the blue eyes, sparkling now

with fun and merriment.

"But didn't you bring a cap for me, Marie?" she asked in a grieved tone.

"Ah, no, deary; I never thought of a cap."

"Well, you must put one on me the minute we get back."

"Oh, what will father say?" she cried delightedly, as she surveyed

herself in the little mirror.

This sobered Marie at once. What would "father" say, indeed? Would he

not have a right to be very angry with her, that she had allowed the

child to get into such danger?

* * *

"Where is Katharine?" asked the colonel, as he stood, tall and

commanding, on the threshold, later that evening, surveying eight small

Hollanders, looking so much alike, except for the difference in their

sizes, that they might have passed for eight Dutch dolls propped up in a

row against the wall.

A sudden shriek of laughter, and one of the dolls was in his arms,

smothering him with kisses. Then every one began to talk at once, as

usual, and it was not until late the next evening, when he and Katharine

were steaming out of Amsterdam, that the colonel was told the whole

story and for the first time fully understood all that had happened to

his little girl on that eventful day.

Meanwhile the new light in his daughter's eyes and the laughter on her

lips kept him from any desire to inquire too deeply into the reason for

a certain embarrassed frightened look on the faces of the women.

Before leaving Amsterdam the colonel was obliged to purchase a complete

suit of Dutch garments for Katharine as a memento of this visit, and

"because they are so pretty, father," she said, and "oh, father, I just

love Holland! As for those Dutch children, I think they are simply the

dearest, sweetest things I ever saw, and I have promised to write to

Gretel as soon as ever I get to Paris."