Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks
William Elliot Griffis
Part 2 out of 3
So it happened that, on the very day that the bishop had his great
church built, with a splendid bulb spire on the top, and all nicely
furnished within, but without one bell to ring in it, that the kabouters
planned a great surprise.
It was night. The bishop was packing his saddle bags, ready to take a
journey, on horseback, to Rheims. At this city, the great caravans from
India and China ended, bringing to the annual fair, rugs, spices, gems,
and things Oriental, and the merchants of Rheims rolled in gold. Here
the bishop would beg the money, or ask for a bell, or chimes.
Suddenly, in the night, while in his own house, there rang out music in
the air, such as the bishop had never heard in Holland, or in any of the
seventeen provinces of the Netherlands. Not even in the old lands,
France, or Spain, or Italy, where the Christian teachers, builders and
singers, and the music of the bells had long been heard, had such a
flood of sweet sounds ever fallen on human ears. Here, in these northern
regions, rang out, not a solo, nor a peal, nor a chime, nor even a
cascade, from one bell, or from many bells; but, a long programme of
richest music in the air--something which no other country, however rich
or old, possessed. It was a carillon, that is, a continued mass of real
music, in which whole tunes, songs, and elaborate pieces of such length,
mass and harmony, as only a choir of many voices, a band of music, or an
orchestra of many performers could produce.
To get this grand work of hanging in the spire done in one night, and
before daylight, also, required a whole regiment of fairy toilers, who
must work like bees. For if one ray of sunshine struck any one of the
kabouters, he was at once petrified. The light elves lived in the
sunshine and thrived on it; but for dark elves, like the kabouters,
whose home was underground, sunbeams were as poisoned arrows bringing
sure death; for by these they were turned into stone. Happily the task
was finished before the eastern sky grew gray, or the cocks crowed.
While it was yet dark, the music in the air flooded the earth. The
people in their beds listened with rapture.
"Laus Deo" (Praise God), devoutly cried the surprised bishop. "It sounds
like a choir of angels. Surely the cherubim and seraphim are here. Now
is fulfilled the promise of the Psalmist: 'The players on instruments
shall be there.'"
So, from this beginning, so mysterious to the rough, unwise and stupid
teachers, but, by degrees, clearer to the tactful ones, who were kind
and patient, the carillons spread over all the region between the
forests of Ardennes and the island in the North Sea. The Netherlands
became the land of melodious symphonies and of tinkling bells. No town,
however poor, but in time had its carillon. Every quarter of an hour,
the sweet music of hymn or song, made the air vocal, while at the
striking of the hours, the pious bowed their heads and the workmen heard
the call for rest, or they took cheer, because their day's toil was
over. At sunrise, noon, or sunset, the Angelus, and at night the curfew
sounded their calls.
It grew into a fashion, that, on stated days, great concerts were given,
lasting over an hour, when the grand works of the masters of music were
rendered and famous carillon players came from all over the Netherlands,
to compete for prizes. The Low Countries became a famous school, in
which klokken-spielers (bell players) by scores were trained. Thus no
kingdom, however rich or great, ever equalled the Land of the Carillon,
in making the air sweet with both melody and harmony.
Nobody ever sees a kabouter nowadays, for in the new world, when the
woods are nearly all cut down, the world made by the steam engine, and
telegraph, and wireless message, the automobile, aeroplane and
submarine, cycle and under-sea boat, the little folks in the mines and
forests are forgotten. The chemists, miners, engineers and learned men
possess the secrets which were once those of the fairies only. Yet the
artists and architects, the clockmakers and bellfounders, who love
beauty, remember what their fathers once thought and believed. That is
the reason why, on many a famous clock, either in front of the dial or
near the pendulum, are figures of the gnomes, who thought, and the
kabouters who wrought, to make the carillons. In Teuton lands, where
their cousins are named kobolds, and in France where they are called
fee, and in England brownies, they have tolling and ringing of bells,
with peals, chimes and cascades of sweet sound; but the Netherlands,
still, above all others on earth, is the home of the carillon.
THE WOMAN WITH THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SIX CHILDREN
Long, long ago, before the oldest stork was young and big deer and
little fawns were very many in the Dutch forests, there was a pond,
famous for its fish, which lay in the very heart of Holland, with woods
near by. Hunters came with their bows and arrows to hunt the stags. Or,
out of the bright waters, boys and men in the sunshine drew out the fish
with shining scales, or lured the trout, with fly-bait, from their
hiding places. In those days the fish-pond was called the Vijver, and
the woods where the deer ran, Rensselaer, or the Deer's Lair.
So, because the forests of oak, and beech, and alder trees were so fine,
and game on land and in water so plentiful, the lord of the country came
here and built his castle. He made a hedge around his estate, so that
the people called the place the Count's Hedge; or, as we say, The Hague.
Even to-day, within the beautiful city, the forests, with their grand
old trees, still remain, and the fish-pond, called the Vijver, is there
yet, with its swans. On the little island, the fluffy, downy cygnets are
born and grow to be big birds, with long necks, bent like an arch. In
another part of the town, also, with their trees for nesting, and their
pond for wading, are children of the same storks, whose fathers and
mothers lived there before America was discovered.
By and by, many people of rank and fortune came to The Hague, for its
society. They built their grand houses at the slope of the hill, not far
away from the Vijver, and in time a city grew up.
It was a fine sight to see the lords and ladies riding out from the
castle into the country. The cavalcade was very splendid, when they went
hawking. There were pretty women on horseback, and gentlemen in velvet
clothes, with feathers in their hats, and the horses seemed proud to
bear them. The falconers followed on foot, with the hunting birds
perched on a hoop, which the man inside the circle carried round him.
Each falcon had on a little cap or hood, which was fastened over its
head. When this was taken off, it flew high up into the air, on its hunt
for the big and little birds, which it brought down for its masters.
There were also men with dogs, to beat the reeds and bushes, and drive
the smaller birds from shelter. The huntsmen were armed with spears,
lest a wild boar, or bear, should rush out and attack them. It was
always a merry day, when a hawking party, in their fine clothes and gay
trappings, started out.
There were huts, as well as palaces, and poor people, also, at The
Hague. Among these, was a widow, whose twin babies were left without
anything to eat--for her husband and their father had been killed in the
war. Having no money to buy a cradle, and her babies being too young to
be left alone, she put the pair of little folks on her back and went out
Now there was a fine lady, a Countess, who lived with her husband, the
Count, near the Vijver. She was childless and very jealous of other
women who were mothers and had children playing around them. On this
day, when the beggar woman, with her two babies on her back, came along,
the grand lady was in an unusually bad temper. For all her pretty
clothes, she was not a person of fine manners. Indeed, she often acted
more like a snarling dog, ready to snap at any one who should speak to
her. Although she had cradles and nurses and lovely baby clothes all
ready, there was no baby. This spoiled her disposition, so that her
husband and the servants could hardly live with her.
One day, after dinner, when there had been everything good to eat and
drink on her table, and plenty of it, the Countess went out to walk in
front of her house. It was the third day of January, but the weather was
mild. The beggar woman, with her two babies on her back and their arms
round her neck, crying with hunger, came trudging along. She went into
the garden and asked the Countess for food or an alms. She expected
surely, at least a slice of bread, a cup of milk, or a small coin.
But the Countess was rude to her and denied her both food and money. She
even burst into a bad temper, and reviled the woman for having two
children, instead of one.
"Where did you get those brats? They are not yours. You just brought
them here to play on my feelings and excite my jealousy. Begone!"
But the poor woman kept her temper. She begged piteously and said: "For
the love of Heaven, feed my babies, even if you will not feed me."
"No! they are not yours. You're a cheat," said the fine lady, nursing
"Indeed, Madame, they are both my children and born on one day. They
have one father, but he is dead. He was killed in the war, while serving
his grace, your husband."
"Don't tell me such a story," snapped back the Countess, now in a fury.
"I don't believe that any one, man or woman, could have two children at
once. Away with you," and she seized a stick to drive off the poor
Now, it was the turn of the beggar to answer back. Both had lost their
temper, and the two angry women seemed more like she-bears robbed of
"Heaven punish you, you wicked, cruel, cold-hearted woman," cried the
mother. Her two babies were almost choking her in their eagerness for
food. Yet their cries never moved the rich lady, who had bread and good
things to spare, while their poor parent had not a drop of milk to give
them. The Countess now called her men-servants to drive the beggar away.
This they did, most brutally. They pushed the poor woman outside the
garden gate and closed it behind her. As she turned away, the poor
mother, taking each of her children by its back, one in each hand, held
them up before the grand lady and cried out loudly, so that all heard
"May you have as many children as there are days in the year."
Now with all her wrath burning in her breast, what the beggar woman
really meant was this: It was the third of January, and so there were
but three days in the year, so far. She intended to say that, instead of
having to care for two children, the Countess might have the trouble of
rearing three, and all born on the same day.
But the fine lady, in her mansion, cared nothing for the beggar woman's
words. Why should she? She had her lordly husband, who was a count, and
he owned thousands of acres. Besides, she possessed vast riches. In her
great house, were ten men-servants and thirty-one maid-servants,
together with her rich furniture, and fine clothes and jewels. The lofty
brick church, to which she went on Sundays, was hung with the coats of
arms of her famous ancestors. The stone floor, with its great slabs, was
so grandly carved with the crests and heraldry of her family, that to
walk over these was like climbing a mountain, or tramping across a
ploughed field. Common folks had to be careful, lest they should stumble
over the bosses and knobs of the carved tombs. A long train of her
servants, and tenants on the farms followed her, when she went to
worship. Inside the church, the lord and lady sat, in high seats, on
velvet cushions and under a canopy.
By the time summer had come, according to the fashion in all good Dutch
families, all sorts of pretty baby clothes were made ready. There were
soft, warm, swaddling bands, tiny socks, and long white linen dresses. A
baptismal blanket, covered with silk, was made for the christening, and
daintily embroidered. Plenty of lace, and pink and blue ribbons--pink
for a girl and blue for a boy--were kept at hand. And, because there
might be twins, a double set of garments was provided, besides baby
bathtubs and all sorts of nice things for the little stranger or
strangers--whether one or two--to come. Even the names were chosen--one
for a boy and the other for a girl. Would it be Wilhelm or Wilhelmina?
It was real fun to think over the names, but it was hard to choose out
of so many. At last, the Countess crossed off all but forty-six; or the
following; nearly every girl's name ending in _je_, as in our
Magtel Catharyna Gerrit Gysbert
Nelletje Alida Cornelis Jausze
Zelia Annatje Volkert Myndert
Jannetje Christina Kilian Adrian
Zara Katrina Johannes Joachim
Marytje Bethje Petrus Arendt
Willemtje Eva Barent Dirck
Geertruy Dirkje Wessel Nikolaas
Petronella Mayken Hendrik Staats
Margrieta Hilleke Teunis Gozen
Josina Bethy Wouter Willemtje
But before the sun set on the expected day, it was neither one boy nor
one girl, nor both; nor were all the forty-six names chosen sufficient;
for the beggar woman's wish had come true, in a way not expected. There
were as many as, and no fewer children than, there were days in the
year; and, since this was leap year, there were three hundred and
sixty-six little folks in the house; so that other names, besides the
forty-six, had to be used.
Yet none of these wee creatures was bigger than a mouse. Beginning at
daylight, one after another appeared--first a girl and then a boy; so
that after the forty-eighth, the nurse was at her wit's end, to give
them names. It was not possible to keep the little babies apart. The
thirty-one servant maids of the mansion were all called in to help in
sorting out the girls from the boys; but soon it seemed hopeless to try
to pick out Peter from Henry, or Catalina from Annetje. After an hour or
two spent at the task, and others coming along, the women found that it
was useless to try any longer. It was found that little Piet, Jan and
Klaas, Hank, Douw and Japik, among the boys; and Molly, Mayka, Lena,
Elsje, Annatje and Marie were getting all mixed up. So they gave up the
attempt in despair. Besides, the supply of pink and blue ribbons had
given out long before, after the first dozen or so were born. As for
the, baby clothes made ready, they were of no use, for all the garments
were too big. In one of the long dresses, tied up like a bag, one might
possibly, with stuffing, have put the whole family of three hundred and
sixty-six brothers and sisters.
It was not likely such small fry of human beings could live long. So,
the good Bishop Guy, of Utrecht, when he heard that the beggar woman's
curse had come true, in so unexpected a manner, ordered that the babies
should be all baptized at once. The Count, who was strict in his ideas
of both custom and church law, insisted on it too.
So nothing would do but to carry the tiny infants to church. How to get
them there, was a question. The whole house had been rummaged to provide
things to carry the little folks in: but the supply of trays, and mince
pie dishes, and crocks, was exhausted at the three hundred and sixtieth
baby. So there was left only a Turk's Head, or round glazed earthen
dish, fluted and curved, which looked like the turban of a Turk. Hence
its name. Into this, the last batch of babies, or extra six girls, were
stowed. Curiously enough, number 366 was an inch taller than the others.
To thirty house maids was given a tray, for each was to carry twelve
mannikins, and one the last six, in the Turk's Head. Instead of rich
silk blankets a wooden tray, and no clothes on, must suffice.
In the Groote Kerk, or Great Church, the Bishop was waiting, with his
assistants, holding brass basins full of holy water, for the
christening. All the town, including the dogs, were out to see what was
going on. Many boys and girls climbed up on the roofs of the one-story
houses, or in the trees to get a better view of the curious
procession--the like of which had never been seen in The Hague before.
Neither has anything like it ever been seen since.
So the parade began. First went the Count, with his captains and the
trumpeters, blowing their trumpets. These were followed by the
men-servants, all dressed in their best Sunday clothes, who had the
crest and arms of their master, the Count, on their backs and breasts.
Then came on the company of thirty-one maids, each one carrying a tray,
on which were twelve mannikins, or minikins. Twenty of these trays were
round and made of wood, lined with velvet, smooth and soft; but ten were
of earthenware, oblong in shape, like a manger. In these, every year,
were baked the Christmas pies.
At first, all went on finely, for the outdoor air seemed to put the
babies asleep and there was no crying. But no sooner were they inside
the church, than about two hundred of the brats began wailing and
whimpering. Pretty soon, they set up such a squall that the Count felt
ashamed of his progeny and the Bishop looked very unhappy.
To make matters worse, one of the maids, although warned of the danger,
stumbled over the helmet of an old crusader, carved in stone, that rose
some six inches or so above the floor. In a moment, she fell and lay
sprawling, spilling out at least a dozen babies. "Heilige Mayke" (Holy
Mary!), she cried, as she rolled over. "Have I killed them?"
Happily the wee ones were thrown against the long-trained gown of an old
lady walking directly in front of her, so that they were unhurt. They
were easily picked up and laid on the tray again, and once more the line
Happily the Bishop had been notified that he would not have to call out
the names of all the infants, that is, three hundred and sixty-six; for
this would have kept him at the solemn business all day long. It had
been arranged that, instead of any on the list of the chosen forty-six,
to be so named, all the boys should be called John, and all the girls
Elizabeth; or, in Dutch, Jan and Lisbet, or Lizbethje. Yet even to say
"John" one hundred and eighty times, and "Lisbet" one hundred and
eighty-six times, nearly tired the old gentleman to death, for he was
fat and slow.
So, after the first six trays full of wee folks had been sprinkled, one
at a time, the Bishop decided to "asperse" them, that is, shake, from a
mop or brush, the holy water, on a tray full of babies at one time. So
he called for the "aspersorium." Then, clipping this in the basin of
holy water, he scattered the drops over the wee folk, until all, even
the six extra girl babies in the Turk's Head, were sprinkled. Probably,
because the Bishop thought a Turk was next door to a heathen, he dropped
more water than usual on these last six, until the young ones squealed
lustily with the cold. It was noted, on the contrary, that the little
folks in the mince pie dishes were gently handled, as if the good man
had visions of Christmas coming and the good things on the table.
Yet it was evident that such tiny people could not bear what healthy
babies of full size would think nothing of. Whether it was because of
the damp weather, or the cold air in the brick church, or too much
excitement, or because there were not three hundred and sixty-six
nurses, or milk bottles ready, it came to pass that every one of the wee
creatures died when the sun went down.
Just where they were buried is not told, but, for hundreds of years,
there was, in one of The Hague churches, a monument in honor of these
little folks, who lived but a day. It was graven with portraits in stone
of the Count and Countess and told of their children, as many as the
days of the year. Near by, were hung up the two basins, in which the
holy water, used by the Bishop, in sprinkling the babies, was held. The
year, month and day of the wonderful event were also engraved. Many and
many people from various lands came to visit the tomb. The guide books
spoke of it, and tender women wept, as they thought how three hundred
and sixty-six little cradles, in the Count's castle, would have looked,
had each baby lived.
THE ONI ON HIS TRAVELS
Across the ocean, in Japan, there once lived curious creatures called
Onis. Every Japanese boy and girl has heard of them, though one has not
often been caught. In one museum, visitors could see the hairy leg of a
specimen. Falling out of the air in a storm, the imp had lost his limb.
It had been torn off by being caught in the timber side of a well curb.
The story-teller was earnestly assured by one Japanese lad that his
grandfather had seen it tumble from the clouds.
Many people are sure that the Onis live in the clouds and occasionally
fall off, during a peal of thunder. Then they escape and hide down in a
well. Or, they get loose in the kitchen, rattle the dishes around, and
make a great racket. They behave like cats, with a dog after them. They
do a great deal of mischief, but not much harm. There are even some old
folks who say that, after all, Onis are only unruly children, that
behave like angels in the morning and act like imps in the afternoon. So
we see that not much is known about the Onis.
Many things that go wrong are blamed on the Onis. Foolish folks, such as
stupid maid-servants, and dull-witted fellows, that blunder a good deal,
declare that the Onis made them do it. Drunken men, especially, that
stumble into mud-holes at night, say the Onis pushed them in. Naughty
boys that steal cake, and girls that take sugar, often tell fibs to
their parents, charging it on the Onis.
The Onis love to play jokes on people, but they are not dangerous. There
are plenty of pictures of them in Japan, though they never sat for their
portraits, but this is the way they looked.
Some Onis have only one eye in their forehead, others two, and, once in
a while, a big fellow has three. There are little, short horns on their
heads, but these are no bigger than those on a baby deer and never grow
long. The hair on their heads gets all snarled up, just like a little
girl's that cries when her tangled tresses are combed out; for the Onis
make use of neither brushes nor looking glasses. As for their faces,
they never wash them, so they look sooty. Their skin is rough, like an
elephant's. On each of their feet are only three toes. Whether an Oni
has a nose, or a snout, is not agreed upon by the learned men who have
No one ever heard of an Oni being higher than a yardstick, but they are
so strong that one of them can easily lift two bushel bags of rice at
once. In Japan, they steal the food offered to the idols. They can live
without air. They like nothing better than to drink both the rice spirit
called sake, and the black liquid called soy, of which only a few drops,
as a sauce on fish, are enough for a man. Of this sauce, the Dutch, as
well as the Japanese, are very fond.
Above all things else, the most fun for a young Oni is to get into a
crockery shop. Once there, he jumps round among the cups and dishes,
hides in the jars, straddles the shelves and turns somersaults over the
counter. In fact, the Oni is only a jolly little imp. The Japanese
girls, on New Year's eve, throw handfuls of dried beans in every room of
the house and cry, "In, with good luck; and out with you, Onis!" Yet
they laugh merrily all the time. The Onis cannot speak, but they can
chatter like monkeys. They often seem to be talking to each other in
Now it once happened in Japan that the great Tycoon of the country
wanted to make a present to the Prince of the Dutch. So he sent all over
the land, from the sweet potato fields in the south to the seal and
salmon waters in the north, to get curiosities of all sorts. The
products of Japan, from the warm parts, where grow the indigo and the
sugar cane, to the cold regions, in which are the bear and walrus, were
sent as gifts to go to the Land of Dykes and Windmills. The Japanese had
heard that the Dutch people like cheese, walk in wooden shoes, eat with
forks, instead of chopsticks, and the women wear twenty petticoats
apiece, while the men sport jackets with two gold buttons, and folks
generally do things the other way from that which was common in Japan.
Now it chanced that while they were packing the things that were piled
up in the palace at Yedo, a young Oni, with his horns only half grown,
crawled into the kitchen, at night, through the big bamboo water pipe
near the pump. Pretty soon he jumped into the storeroom. There, the
precious cups, vases, lacquer boxes, pearl-inlaid pill-holders, writing
desks, jars of tea, and bales of silk, were lying about, ready to be put
into their cases. The yellow wrappings for covering the pretty things of
gold and silver, bronze and wood, and the rice chaff, for the packing of
the porcelain, were all at hand. What a jolly time the Oni did have, in
tumbling them about and rolling over them! Then he leaped like a monkey
from one vase to another. He put on a lady's gay silk kimono and wrapped
himself around with golden embroidery. Then he danced and played the
game of the Ka-gu'-ra, or Lion of Korea, pretending to make love to a
girl-Oni. Such funny capers as he did cut! It would have made a cat
laugh to see him. It was broad daylight, before his pranks were over,
and the Dutch church chimes were playing the hour of seven.
Suddenly the sound of keys in the lock told him that, in less than a
minute, the door would open.
Where should he hide? There was no time to be lost. So he seized some
bottles of soy from the kitchen shelf and then jumped into the big
bottom drawer of a ladies' cabinet, and pulled it shut.
"Namu Amida" (Holy Buddha!), cried the man that opened the door. "Who
has been here? It looks like a rat's picnic."
However, the workmen soon came and set everything to rights. Then they
packed up the pretty things. They hammered down the box lids and before
night the Japanese curiosities were all stored in the hold of a swift,
Dutch ship, from Nagasaki, bound for Rotterdam. After a long voyage, the
vessel arrived safely in good season, and the boxes were sent on to The
Hague, or capital city. As the presents were for the Prince, they were
taken at once to the pretty palace, called the House in the Wood. There
they were unpacked and set on exhibition for the Prince and Princess to
see the next day.
When the palace maid came in next morning to clean up the floor and dust
the various articles, her curiosity led her to pull open the drawer of
the ladies' cabinet; when out jumped something hairy. It nearly
frightened the girl out of her wits. It was the Oni, which rushed off
and down stairs, tumbling over a half dozen servants, who were sitting
at their breakfast. All started to run except the brave butler, who
caught up a carving knife and showed fight. Seeing this, the Oni ran
down into the cellar, hoping to find some hole or crevice for escape.
All around, were shelves filled with cheeses, jars of sour-krout,
pickled herring, and stacks of fresh rye bread standing in the corners.
But oh! how they did smell in his Japanese nostrils! Oni, as he was, he
nearly fainted, for no such odors had ever beaten upon his nose, when in
Japan. Even at the risk of being carved into bits, he must go back. So
up into the kitchen again he ran. Happily, the door into the garden
stood wide open.
Grabbing a fresh bottle of soy from the kitchen shelf, the Oni, with a
hop, skip and jump, reached outdoors. Seeing a pair of klomps, or wooden
shoes, near the steps, the Oni put his pair of three toes into them, to
keep the dogs from scenting its tracks. Then he ran into the fields,
hiding among the cows, until he heard men with pitchforks coming. At
once the Oni leaped upon a cow's back and held on to its horns, while
the poor animal ran for its life into its stall, in the cow stable,
hoping to brush the monster off.
The dairy farmer's wife was at that moment pulling open her bureau
drawer, to put on a new clean lace cap. Hearing her favorite cow moo and
bellow, she left the drawer open and ran to look through the pane of
glass in the kitchen. Through this, she could peep, at any minute, to
see whether this or that cow, or its calf, was sick or well.
Meanwhile, at the House in the Wood, the Princess, hearing the maid
scream and the servants in an uproar, rushed out in her embroidered
white nightie, to ask who, and what, and why, and wherefore. All
different and very funny were the answers of maid, butler, cook, valet
The first maid, who had pulled open the drawer and let the Oni get out,
held up broom and duster, as if to take oath. She declared:
"It was a monkey, or baboon; but he seemed to talk--Russian, I think."
"No," said the butler. "I heard the creature--a black ram, running on
its hind legs; but its language was German, I'm sure."
The cook, a fat Dutch woman, told a long story. She declared, on honor,
that it was a black dog like a Chinese pug, that has no hair. However,
she had only seen its back, but she was positive the creature talked
English, for she heard it say "soy."
The valet honestly avowed that he was too scared to be certain of
anything, but was ready to swear that to his ears the words uttered
seemed to be Swedish. He had once heard sailors from Sweden talking, and
the chatter sounded like their lingo.
Then there was Boots, the errand boy, who believed that it was the
Devil; but, whatever or whoever it was, he was ready to bet a week's
wages that its lingo was all in French.
Now when the Princess found that not one of her servants could speak or
understand any language but their own, she scolded them roundly in
Dutch, and wound up by saying, "You're a lot of cheese-heads, all of
Then she arranged the wonderful things from the Far East, with her own
dainty hands, until the House in the Wood was fragrant with Oriental
odors, and soon it became famous throughout all Europe. Even when her
grandchildren played with the pretty toys from the land of Fuji and
flowers, of silk and tea, cherry blossoms and camphor trees, it was not
only the first but the finest Japanese collection in all Europe.
Meanwhile, the Oni, in a strange land, got into one trouble after
another. In rushed men with clubs, but as an Oni was well used to seeing
these at home, he was not afraid. He could outrun, outjump, or outclimb
any man, easily. The farmer's vrouw (wife) nearly fainted when the Oni
leaped first into her room and then into her bureau drawer. As he did
so, the bottle of soy, held in his three-fingered paw, hit the wood and
the dark liquid, as black as tar, ran all over the nicely starched
laces, collars and nightcaps. Every bit of her quilled and crimped
hear-gear and neckwear, once as white as snow, was ruined.
"Donder en Bliksem" (thunder and lightning), cried the vrouw. "There's
my best cap, that cost twenty guilders, utterly ruined." Then she
bravely ran for the broomstick.
The Oni caught sight of what he thought was a big hole in the wall and
ran into it. Seeing the blue sky above, he began to climb up. Now there
were no chimneys in Japan and he did not know what this was. The soot
nearly blinded and choked him. So he slid down and rushed out, only to
have his head nearly cracked by the farmer's wife, who gave him a whack
of her broomstick. She thought it was a crazy goat that she was
fighting. She first drove the Oni into the cellar and then bolted the
An hour later, the farmer got a gun and loaded it. Then, with his hired
man he came near, one to pull open the door, and the other to shoot.
What they expected to find was a monster.
But no! So much experience, even within an hour, of things unknown in
Japan, including chimneys, had been too severe for the poor, lonely,
homesick Oni. There it lay dead on the floor, with its three fingers
held tightly to its snout and closing it. So much cheese, zuur kool
(sour krout), gin (schnapps), advocaat (brandy and eggs), cows' milk,
both sour and fresh, wooden shoes, lace collars and crimped neckwear,
with the various smells, had turned both the Oni's head and his stomach.
The very sight of these strange things being so unusual, gave the Oni
first fright, and then a nervous attack, while the odors, such as had
never tortured his nose before, had finished him.
The wise men of the village were called together to hold an inquest.
After summoning witnesses, and cross-examining them and studying the
strange creature, their verdict was that it could be nothing less than a
_Hersen Schim_, that is, a spectre of the brain. They meant by this
that there was no such animal.
However, a man from Delft, who followed the business of a knickerbocker,
or baker of knickers, or clay marles, begged the body of the Oni. He
wanted it to serve as a model for a new gargoyle, or rain spout, for the
roof of churches. Carved in stone, or baked in clay, which turns red and
is called terra cotta, the new style of monster became very popular. The
knickerbocker named it after a new devil, that had been expelled by the
prayers of the saints, and speedily made a fortune, by selling it to
stone cutters and architects. So for one real Oni, that died and was
buried in Dutch soil, there are thousands of imaginary ones, made of
baked clay, or stone, in the Dutch land, where things, more funny than
in fairy-land, constantly take place.
The dead Japanese Oni serving as a model, which was made into a water
gutter, served more useful purposes, for a thousand years, than ever he
had done, in the land where his relations still live and play their
THE LEGEND OF THE WOODEN SHOE
In years long gone, too many for the almanac to tell of, or for clocks
and watches to measure, millions of good fairies came down from the sun
and went into the earth. There, they changed themselves into roots and
leaves, and became trees. There were many kinds of these, as they
covered the earth, but the pine and birch, ash and oak, were the chief
ones that made Holland. The fairies that lived in the trees bore the
name of Moss Maidens, or Tree "Trintjes," which is the Dutch pet name
for Kate, or Katharine.
The oak was the favorite tree, for people lived then on acorns, which
they ate roasted, boiled or mashed, or made into meal, from which
something like bread was kneaded and baked. With oak bark, men tanned
hides and made leather, and, from its timber, boats and houses. Under
its branches, near the trunk, people laid their sick, hoping for help
from the gods. Beneath the oak boughs, also, warriors took oaths to be
faithful to their lords, women made promises, or wives joined hand in
hand around its girth, hoping to have beautiful children. Up among its
leafy branches the new babies lay, before they were found in the cradle
by the other children. To make a young child grow up to be strong and
healthy, mothers drew them through a split sapling or young tree. Even
more wonderful, as medicine for the country itself, the oak had power to
heal. The new land sometimes suffered from disease called the _val_
(or fall). When sick with the _val_, the ground sunk. Then people,
houses, churches, barns and cattle all went down, out of sight, and were
lost forever, in a flood of water.
But the oak, with its mighty roots, held the soil firm. Stories of dead
cities, that had tumbled beneath the waves, and of the famous Forest of
Reeds, covering a hundred villages, which disappeared in one night, were
known only too well.
Under the birch tree, lovers met to plight their vows, and on its smooth
bark was often cut the figure of two hearts joined in one. In summer,
the forest furnished shade, and in winter warmth from the fire. In the
spring time, the new leaves were a wonder, and in autumn the pigs grew
fat on the mast, or the acorns, that had dropped on the ground.
So, for thousands of years, when men made their home in the forest, and
wanted nothing else, the trees were sacred.
But by and by, when cows came into the land and sheep and horses
multiplied, more open ground was needed for pasture, grain fields and
meadows. Fruit trees, bearing apples and pears, peaches and cherries,
were planted, and grass, wheat, rye and barley were grown. Then, instead
of the dark woods, men liked to have their gardens and orchards open to
the sunlight. Still, the people were very rude, and all they had on
their bare feet were rough bits of hard leather, tied on through their
toes; though most of them went barefooted.
The forests had to be cut down. Men were so busy with the axe, that in a
few years, the Wood Land was gone. Then the new "Holland," with its
people and red roofed houses, with its chimneys and windmills, and dykes
and storks, took the place of the old Holt Land of many trees.
Now there was a good man, a carpenter and very skilful with his tools,
who so loved the oak that he gave himself, and his children after him,
the name of Eyck, which is pronounced Ike, and is Dutch for oak. When,
before his neighbors and friends, according to the beautiful Dutch
custom, he called his youngest born child, to lay the corner-stone of
his new house, he bestowed upon her, before them all, the name of
Neeltje (or Nellie) Van Eyck.
The carpenter daddy continued to mourn over the loss of the forests. He
even shed tears, fearing lest, by and by, there should not one oak tree
be left in the country. Moreover, he was frightened at the thought that
the new land, made by pushing back the ocean and building dykes, might
sink down again and go back to the fishes. In such a case, all the
people, the babies and their mothers, men, women, horses and cattle,
would be drowned. The Dutch folks were a little too fast, he thought, in
winning their acres from the sea.
One day, while sitting on his door-step, brooding sorrowfully, a Moss
Maiden and a Tree Elf appeared, skipping along, hand in hand. They came
up to him and told him that his ancestral oak had a message for him.
Then they laughed and ran away. Van Eyck, which was now the man's full
family name, went into the forest and stood under the grand old oak
tree, which his fathers loved, and which he would allow none to cut
Looking up, the leaves of the tree rustled, and one big branch seemed to
sweep near him. Then it whispered in his ear:
"Do not mourn, for your descendants, even many generations hence, shall
see greater things than you have witnessed. I and my fellow oak trees
shall pass away, but the sunshine shall be spread over the land and make
it dry. Then, instead of its falling down, like acorns from the trees,
more and better food shall come up from out of the earth. Where green
fields now spread, and the cities grow where forests were, we shall come
to life again, but in another form. When most needed, we shall furnish
you and your children and children's children, with warmth, comfort,
fire, light, and wealth. Nor need you fear for the land, that it will
fall; for, even while living, we, and all the oak trees that are left,
and all the birch, beech, and pine trees shall stand on our heads for
you. We shall hold up your houses, lest they fall into the ooze and you
shall walk and run over our heads. As truly as when rooted in the soil,
will we do this. Believe what we tell you, and be happy. We shall turn
ourselves upside down for you."
"I cannot see how all these things can be," said Van Eyck.
"Fear not, my promise will endure."
The leaves of the branch rustled for another moment. Then, all was
still, until the Moss Maiden and Trintje, the Tree Elf, again, hand in
hand, as they tripped along merrily, appeared to him.
"We shall help you and get our friends, the elves, to do the same. Now,
do you take some oak wood and saw off two pieces, each a foot long. See
that they are well dried. Then set them on the kitchen table to-night,
when you go to bed." After saying this, and looking at each other and
laughing, just as girls do, they disappeared.
Pondering on what all this might mean, Van Eyck went to his wood-shed
and sawed off the oak timber. At night, after his wife had cleared off
the supper table, he laid the foot-long pieces in their place.
When Van Eyck woke up in the morning, he recalled his dream, and, before
he was dressed, hurried to the kitchen. There, on the table, lay a pair
of neatly made wooden shoes. Not a sign of tools, or shavings could be
seen, but the clean wood and pleasant odor made him glad. When he
glanced again at the wooden shoes, he found them perfectly smooth, both
inside and out. They had heels at the bottom and were nicely pointed at
the toes, and, altogether, were very inviting to the foot. He tried them
on, and found that they fitted him exactly. He tried to walk on the
kitchen floor, which his wife kept scrubbed and polished, and then
sprinkled with clean white sand, with broomstick ripples scored in the
layers, but for Van Eyck it was like walking on ice. After slipping and
balancing himself, as if on a tight rope, and nearly breaking his nose
against the wall, he took off the wooden shoes, and kept them off, while
inside the house. However, when he went outdoors, he found his new shoes
very light, pleasant to the feet and easy to walk in. It was not so much
like trying to skate, as it had been in the kitchen.
At night, in his dreams, he saw two elves come through the window into
the kitchen. One, a kabouter, dark and ugly, had a box of tools. The
other, a light-faced elf, seemed to be the guide. The kabouter at once
got out his saw, hatchet, auger, long, chisel-like knife, and smoothing
plane. At first, the two elves seemed to be quarrelling, as to who
should be boss. Then they settled down quietly to work. The kabouter
took the wood and shaped it on the outside. Then he hollowed out, from
inside of it, a pair of shoes, which the elf smoothed and polished. Then
one elf put his little feet in them and tried to dance, but he only
slipped on the smooth floor and flattened his nose; but the other fellow
pulled the nose straight again, so it was all right. They waltzed
together upon the wooden shoes, then took them off, jumped out the
window, and ran away.
When Van Eyck put the wooden shoes on, he found that out in the fields,
in the mud, and on the soft soil, and in sloppy places, this sort of
foot gear was just the thing. They did not sink in the mud and the man's
feet were comfortable, even after hours of labor. They did not "draw"
his feet, and they kept out the water far better than leather possibly
When the Van Eyck vrouw and the children saw how happy Daddy was, they
each one wanted a pair. Then they asked him what he called them.
"Klompen," said he, in good Dutch, and klompen, or klomps, they are to
"I'll make a fortune out of this," said Van Eyck. "I'll set up a
klomp-winkel (shop for wooden shoes) at once."
So, going out to the blacksmith's shop, in the village, he had the man
who pounded iron fashion for him on his anvil, a set of tools, exactly
like those used by the kabouter and the elf, which he had seen in his
dream. Then he hung out a sign, marked "Wooden blocks for shoes." He
made klomps for the little folks just out of the nursery, for boys and
girls, for grown men and women, and for all who walked out-of-doors, in
the street or on the fields.
Soon klomps came to be the fashion in all the country places. It was
good manners, when you went into a house, to take off your wooden shoes
and leave them at the door. Even in the towns and cities, ladies wore
wooden slippers, especially when walking or working in the garden.
Klomps also set the fashion for soft, warm socks, and stockings made
from sheep's wool. Soon, a thousand needles were clicking, to put a soft
cushion between one's soles and toes and the wood. Women knitted, even
while they walked to market, or gossiped on the streets. The
klomp-winkels, or shops of the shoe carpenters, were seen in every
When rich beyond his day-dreams, Van Eyck had another joyful night
vision. The next day, he wore a smiling countenance. Everybody, who met
him on the street, saluted him and asked, in a neighborly way:
"Good-morning, Mynheer Bly-moe-dig (Mr. Cheerful). How do you sail
That's the way the Dutch talk--not "how do you do," but, in their watery
country, it is this, "How do you sail?" or else, "Hoe gat het u al?"
(How goes it with you, already?)
Then Van Eyck told his dream. It was this: The Moss Maiden and Trintje,
the wood elf, came to him again at night and danced. They were lively
"What now?" asked the dreamer, smilingly, of his two visitors.
[Illustration: The kabouter took the wood and shaped it on the inside.]
He had hardly got the question out of his mouth, when in walked a
kabouter, all smutty with blacksmith work. In one hand, he grasped his
tool box. In the other, he held a curious looking machine. It was a big
lump of iron, set in a frame, with ropes to pull it up and let it fall
down with a thump.
"What is it?" asked Van Eyck.
"It's a Hey" (a pile driver), said the kabouter, showing him how to use
it. "When men say to you, on the street, to-morrow, 'How do you sail?'
laugh at them," said the Moss Maiden, herself laughing.
"Yes, and now you can tell the people how to build cities, with mighty
churches with lofty towers, and with high houses like those in other
lands. Take the trees, trim the branches off, sharpen the tops, turn
them upside down and pound them deep in the ground. Did not the ancient
oak promise that the trees would be turned upside down for you? Did they
not say you could walk on top of them?"
By this time, Van Eyck had asked so many questions, and kept the elves
so long, that the Moss Maiden peeped anxiously through the window.
Seeing the day breaking, she and Trintje and the kabouter flew away, so
as not to be petrified by the sunrise.
"I'll make another fortune out of this, also," said the happy man, who,
next morning, was saluted as Mynheer Blyd-schap (Mr. Joyful).
At once, Van Eyck set up a factory for making pile drivers. Sending men
into the woods, who chose the tall, straight trees, he had their
branches cut off. Then he sharpened the trunks at one end, and these
were driven, by the pile driver, down, far and deep, into the ground. So
a foundation, as good as stone, was made in the soft and spongy soil,
and well built houses uprose by the thousands. Even the lofty walls of
churches stood firm. The spires were unshaken in the storm.
Old Holland had not fertile soil like France, or vast flocks of sheep,
producing wool, like England, or armies of weavers, as in the Belgic
lands. Yet, soon there rose large cities, with splendid mansions and
town halls. As high towards heaven as the cathedrals and towers in other
lands, which had rock for foundation, her brick churches rose in the
air. On top of the forest trees, driven deep into the sand and clay,
dams and dykes were built, that kept out the ocean. So, instead of the
old two thousand square miles, there were, in the realm, in the course
of years, twelve thousand, rich in green fields and cattle. Then, for
all the boys and girls that travel in this land of quaint customs,
Holland was a delight.
THE CURLY-TAILED LION
Once upon a time, some Dutch hunters went to Africa, hoping to capture a
whole family of lions. In this they succeeded. With a pack of hounds and
plenty of aborigines to poke the jungle with sticks, they drove a big
male lion, with his wife and four whelps, out of the undergrowth into a
circle. In the centre, they had dug a pit and covered it over with
sticks and grass. Into this, the whole lion family tumbled. Then, by
nets and ropes, the big, fierce creatures and the little cubs were
lifted out. They were put in cages and brought to Holland. The baby
lions, no bigger than pug dogs, were as pretty and harmless as kittens.
The sailors delighted to play with them.
Now lions, even before one was ever seen among the Dutch, enjoyed a
great reputation for strength, courage, dignity and power. It was
believed that they had all the traits of character supposed to belong to
kings, and which boys like to possess. Many fathers had named their sons
Leo, which is Latin for lion. Dutch daddies had their baby boys
christened with the name of Leeuw, which is their word for the king of
Before lions were brought from the hot countries into colder lands, the
bear and wolf were most admired; because, besides possessing plenty of
fur, as well as great claws and terrible teeth, they had great courage.
For these reasons, many royal and common folks had taken the wolf and
bear as namesakes for their hopeful sons.
But the male lion could make more noise than wolves, for he could roar,
while they could only howl. He had a shaggy mane and a very long tail.
This had a nail at the end, for scratching and combing out his hair,
when tangled up. If he were angry, the mighty brute could stick out his
red tongue, curled like a pump handle, and nearly half a yard long.
So the lion was called the king of beasts, and the crowned rulers and
knights took him as their emblem. They had pictures of the huge creature
painted on their flags, shields and armor. Sometimes they stuck a gold
or brass lion on their iron war hats, which they called helmets. No
knight was allowed to have more than one lion on his shield, but kings
might have three or four, or even a whole menagerie of meat-eating
creatures. These painted or sculptured lions were in all sorts of
action, running, walking, standing up and looking behind or before.
Now there was a Dutch artist, who noticed what funny fellows kings were,
and how they liked to have all sorts of beasts and birds of prey, and
sea creatures that devour, on their banners. There were dragons,
two-headed eagles, boars with tusks, serpents with fangs, hawks,
griffins, wyverns, lions, dragons and dragon-lions, besides horses with
wings, mermaids with scaly tails, and even night mares that went flying
through the dark. With such a funny variety of beast, bird, and fish,
some wondered why there were not cows with two tails, cats with two
noses, rams with four horns, and creatures that were half veal and half
mutton. He noticed that kings did not care much for tame, quiet,
peaceable, or useful creatures, such as oxen or horses, doves or sheep;
but only for those brutes that hunt and kill the more defenceless
Since, then, kings of the country must have a lion, the artist resolved
to make a new one. He would have some fun, at any rate.
So as painter or sculptor select men and women to pose for them in their
study as their heroes and heroines, and just as they picture plump
little boys and girls as cherubs and angels, so the Dutchman would make
of the cubs and the father beast of prey his models for coats of arms.
Poor lions! They did not know, but they soon found out how tiresome it
was to pose. They must hold their paws up, down, sideways or behind,
according as they were told. They must stand or kneel, for a long time,
in awkward positions. They must stick out their tongues to full length,
walk on their hind legs, twist their necks, to one side or the other,
look forward or backward, and in many tiresome ways do just as they were
ordered. They must also make of their tails every sort of use, whether
to wrap around posts or bundles, to stick out of their cage, or put
between their legs, as they ran away, or to whisk them around, as they
roared; or hoist them up high when rampant.
In some cases, they were expected, even, to put on spectacles, and
pretend to be reading, to hold in their paws books and scrolls, or town
arms, or shop signs. They must pose, not only as companions of Daniel,
in the lions' den at Babylon, which was proper; but also to sit, as
companion of St. Mark, and even to stand on their legs on the top of a
high column, without falling off.
In a word, this artist belonged to the college of heralds, and he
introduced the king of beasts into Dutch heraldry.
So from that day forth, the life of that family of African lions, from
the daddy to the youngest cub, was made a burden. When at home in the
jungle and even in the cage, the father lion's favorite position was
that of lolling on one side, with his paws stretched out, and half
asleep and all day, until he went out, towards dark, to hunt. Now, he
must stand up, nearly all day. Daddy lion had to do most of the posing,
until the poor beast's front legs and paws were weary with standing so
long. Moreover, the hair was all worn off his body at the place where he
had to sit on the hard wooden floor. He must do all this, on penalty of
being punched with a red hot poker, if he refused. A charcoal furnace
and long andirons were kept near by, and these were attended to by a
Dutch boy. Or, it might be that the whole family of lions were not
allowed to have any dinner till Daddy obeyed and did what he was told,
though often with a snarl or a roar.
First, Leo must rise upon his hind legs and look in front of him. This
posture was not hard, for in his native jungle, he had often thus
obtained a breakfast of venison for his wife and family. But oh, to
stand a half hour on two legs only, when he had four, and would gladly
have used all of them, was hard. Yet this was the position, called "the
lion rampant," which kings liked best.
But the king's uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, and his wife's
relations generally, every one of them, wanted a lion on his or her
stationery and pocket handkerchiefs, as well as on their shields and
flags. So the old lion was tortured--the hot poker being always in
sight--and he was made to take a great variety of positions. The artist
called out to Leo, just as a driver says to his cart horse, "whoa," "get
up," "golong," etc. When he yelled in this fashion, the lion had to
Pretty soon lions in heraldry, on flags, armor, town arms, family crests
and city seals became all the fashion. The whole country went lion-mad.
There were lions carved in stone, wood and iron, and every sort and
kind, possible or impossible. Some of them seemed to be engaged in a
variety of tricks, as if they belonged to a circus, or were having a
holiday. They laughed, giggled, yawned, stuck out their tongues, held
boards for hotels, bundles for the shopkeepers, or barrels for beer
halls, and made excellent shop signs, which the boys and girls enjoyed
Mrs. Leo was not in much demand, for Mr. Leo did not approve of his
wife's appearing in public. She was kept busy in taking care of her
cubs. Daddy Lion had to do multiple work for his family, until the cubs
were grown. Yet long before this time had come, their Dad had died and
been stuffed for a museum. How this first king of beasts in the
Netherlands came to his untimely end was on this wise.
Not satisfied with posing Leo in every posture, and with all possible
gestures, his master, the artist, wanted him to look "heraldical"; that
is, like some of the mythical beasts that were combinations of any and
all creatures having fins, fur, feathers, or scales, such as the dragon
or griffin. One day, he attempted to make out of a live lion a fanciful
creature of curlicues and curliewurlies. So he strapped the lion down,
and used a curling iron on his mane until he looked like a bearded bull
of Babylon. Then he combed out, and, with curl papers, twisted the long
line of hair, which is seen in front of Leo's stomach. In like manner,
he treated the bunches of hair that grow over the animal's kneepans and
elbows. Last of all, he took a hair brush, and smoothed out the tuft, at
the end of the animal's long tail. Then the artist made a picture of him
in this condition, all curled and rich in ringlets, like a dandy.
By this time, the father of the lion family looked as if he had come out
fresh from a hairdresser's parlor. Indeed, Mrs. Leo was so struck with
her husband's appearance, that she immediately licked her cubs all over,
until their fur shone, so they should look like their father. Then,
having used her tongue as a comb, to make her own skin smooth and
glossy, she completed the job by using the nail in her tail, to do the
finishing work. Altogether, this was the curliest family of lions ever
seen, and Daddy Leo appeared to be the funniest curly-headed and
curly-bodied lion ever seen. In fact he was all curls, from head to
Notwithstanding all his pains, the artist was not yet satisfied with his
job. He wanted a circle of long hair to grow in the middle of the lion's
tail. His curly lion should beat all creation, and in this way he
His own daughter, being a young lady and having some trouble of the
throat, the doctor had ordered medicine for the girl, charging her not
to spill any drops of the liquid on her face, or clothes.
But, in giving the dose, either the mother, or the daughter, was
careless. At that very moment the cat ran across the room, after the
mouse, and just as she held the spoon to her mouth, Puss got twisted in
her skirts. So most of the medicine splashed upon her upper lip and then
ran down to her chin, on either side of her mouth. She laughed over the
spill, wiped off the liquid, and thought no more of the matter.
But a week later, she was astonished. On waking, she looked in the
glass, only to shrink back in horror. On her face had grown both
moustaches and a beard. True, both were rather downy, but still they
were black; and, until the barber came, and shaved off the growth, she
was a bearded woman. Yet, strange to tell, after one or two shaves by
the barber, no more hair grew again on her face, which was smooth again.
"By Saint Servatus! I'll make a fortune on this," cried the artist, when
he saw his daughter's hairy face.
So, he sold his secret to a druggist, and this man made an ointment,
giving it a Chinese name, meaning "beard-grower." This wonderful
medicine, as his sign declared, would "force the growth of luxuriant
moustaches and a beard, on the smoothest face of any young man," who
should buy and apply it.
Soon the whole town rang with the news of the wonderful discovery. The
druggist sold out his stock, in two days, to happy purchasers. Other
young fellows, that wanted to outrival their companions, had to wait a
fortnight for the new medicine to be made. By that time, a full crop of
downy hair had come out on the cheeks and chin and upper lip of many a
youth. Some, who had been trying for years to raise moustaches, in order
duly to impress the girls, to whom they were making love, were now
jubilant. In several cases, a lover was able to cut out his rival and
win the maid he wanted. Several courtings were hastened and became
genuine matches, because a face, long very smooth, and like a desert as
to hair, bore a promising crop. Beard and cheeks had at last met
together. So the new medicine was called a "match-maker."
The artist rubbed his hands in glee, at the prospect of a fortune. He
argued that if the wonderful ointment made beards for men, it must be
good for lions also. So again, Daddy Lion was coerced by the threat of
the hot poker. Then his tail was seized, and, by means of a rope, tied
to a post on one side of the cage, he was held fast. Then the artist
anointed about six inches of the middle of the smooth tail with the
magic liquid. For fear the lion might lick it off, the poor beast was
held in this tiresome position for a whole week, so that he could not
turn round, and he nearly died of fatigue.
But it happened to the lion's tail, as it did with the young men's
chins, cheeks and upper lips. A beard did indeed grow, but once shaved
off--and many did shave, thinking to promote greater growth--no more
hair ever appeared again. The ointment forced a downy growth but it
killed the roots of the hair.
A worse fate befell the lion. A crop of hair, perhaps an inch longer
than common, grew out. But this time, the bad medicine, which had
deceived men, and was unfit for lions, struck in.
From this cause, added to nervous prostration, old Leo fell dead. As
lion fathers go, he was a good one, and his widow and children mourned
for him. He had never once, however hungry, tried to eat up his cubs,
which was something in his favor.
Soon after these exploits, the old artist died also. His son, hearing
there was still a demand, among kings, for lions, and those especially
with centre curls in their tails, took the most promising of the whelps
and petted and fed him well. In the seventh year, when his mane and
elbow and knee hair had grown out, this cub was mated to a young lioness
of like promise. When, of this couple, a male whelp was born, it was
found that in due time its knees, elbows, tail-tuft, and the front of
its body were all rich in furry growth. In the middle of its tail, also,
thick ringlets, several inches long, were growing. Evidently, the hair
tonic had done some good. So this one became the father of all the
curly-tailed lions in the Netherlands. Not only was this lion, thus
distinguished for so novel an ornament, copied into heraldry, but it
adorned many city seals and town arms. In time, the lion of the
Netherlands was pictured with a crown on its head, a sword in its right
hand, a bundle of seven arrows--in token of a union of seven
states--and, still later, the new Order of the Netherlands Lion was
founded. The original curly lion, with long hair in the middle of its
tail, boasts of a long line of descendants that are proud of their
BRABO AND THE GIANT
Ages ago, when the giants were numerous on the earth, there lived a big
fellow named Antigonus. That was not what his mother had called him, but
some one told him of a Greek general of that name; so he took this for
his own. He was rough and cruel. His castle was on the Scheldt River,
where the city of Antwerp now stands. Many ships sailed out of France
and Holland, down this stream. They were loaded with timber, flax, iron,
cheese, fish, bread, linen, and other things made in the country. It was
by this trade that many merchants grew rich, and their children had
plenty of toys to play with. The river was very grand, deep, and wide.
The captains of the ships liked to sail on it, because there was no
danger from rocks, and the country through which it flowed was so
So every day, one could see hundreds of white-sailed craft moving
towards the sea, or coming in from the ocean. Boys and girls came down
to stand in their wooden shoes on the banks, to see the vessels moving
to and fro. The incoming ships brought sugar, wine, oranges, lemons,
olives and other good things to eat, and wool to make warm clothes.
Often craftsmen came from the wonderful countries in the south to tell
of the rich cities there, and help to build new and fine houses, and
splendid churches, and town halls. So all the Belgian people were happy.
But one day, this wicked giant came into the country to stop the ships
and make them pay him money. He reared a strong castle on the river
banks. It had four sides and high walls, and deep down in the earth were
dark, damp dungeons. One had to light a candle to find his way to the
What was it all for? The people wondered, but they soon found out. The
giant, with a big knotted club, made out of an oak tree, strode through
the town. He cried out to all the people to assemble in the great open
"From this day forth," he roared, "no ship, whether up or down the
river, shall pass by this place, without my permission. Every captain
must pay me toll, in money or goods. Whoever refuses, shall have both
his hands cut off and thrown into the river.
"Hear ye all and obey. Any one caught in helping a ship go by without
paying toll, whether it be night, or whether it be day, shall have his
thumbs cut off and be put in the dark dungeon for a month. Again I say,
With this, the giant swung and twirled his club aloft and then brought
it down on a poor countryman's cart, smashing it into flinders. This was
done to show his strength.
So every day, when the ships hove in sight, they were hailed from the
giant's castle and made to pay heavy toll. Poor or rich, they had to
hand over their money. If any captain refused, he was brought ashore and
made to kneel before a block and place one hand upon the other. Then the
giant swung his axe and cut off both hands, and flung them into the
river. If a ship master hesitated, because he had no money, he was cast
into a dungeon, until his friends paid his ransom.
Soon, on account of this, the city got a bad name. The captains from
France kept in, and the ship men from Spain kept out. The merchants
found their trade dwindling, and they grew poorer every day. So some of
them slipped out of the city and tried to get the ships to sail in the
night, and silently pass the giant's castle.
But the giant's watchers, on the towers, were as wide awake as owls and
greedy as hawks. They pounced on the ship captains, chopped off their
hands and tossed them into the river. The townspeople, who were found on
board, were thrown into the dungeons and had their thumbs cut off.
So the prosperity of the city was destroyed, for the foreign merchants
were afraid to send their ships into the giant's country. The reputation
of the city grew worse. It was nicknamed by the Germans Hand Werpen, or
Hand Throwing; while the Dutchmen called it Antwerp, which meant the
same thing. The Duke of Brabant, or Lord of the land, came to the big
fellow's fortress and told him to stop. He even shook his fist under the
giant's huge nose, and threatened to attack his castle and burn it. But
Antigonus only snapped his fingers, and laughed at him. He made his
castle still stronger and kept on hailing ships, throwing some of the
crews into dungeons and cutting off the hands of the captains, until the
fish in the river grew fat.
Now there was a brave young fellow named Brabo, who lived in the
province of Brabant. He was proud of his country and her flag of yellow,
black and red, and was loyal to his lord. He studied the castle well and
saw a window, where he could climb up into the giant's chamber.
Going to the Duke, Brabo promised if his lord's soldiers would storm the
gates of the giant's castle, that he would seek out and fight the
ruffian. While they battered down the gates, he would climb the walls.
"He's nothing but a 'bulle-wak'" (a bully and a boaster), said Brabo,
"and we ought to call him that, instead of Antigonus."
The Duke agreed. On a dark night, one thousand of his best men-at-arms
were marched with their banners, but with no drums or trumpets, or
anything that could make a noise and alarm the watchmen.
Reaching a wood full of big trees near the castle, they waited till
after midnight. All the dogs in the town and country, for five miles
around, were seized and put into barns, so as not to bark and wake the
giant up. They were given plenty to eat, so that they quickly fell
asleep and were perfectly quiet.
At the given signal, hundreds of men holding ship's masts, or tree
trunks, marched against the gates. They punched and pounded and at last
smashed the iron-bound timbers and rushed in. After overcoming the
garrison, they lighted candles, and unlocking the dungeons, went down
and set the poor half-starved captives free. Some of them pale, haggard
and thin as hop poles, could hardly stand. About the same time, the barn
doors where the dogs had been kept, were thrown open. In full cry, a
regiment of the animals, from puppies to hounds, were at once out,
barking, baying, and yelping, as if they knew what was going on and
wanted to see the fun.
But where was the giant? None of the captains could find him. Not one of
the prisoners or the garrison could tell where he had hid.
But Brabo knew that the big fellow, Antigonus, was not at all brave, but
really only a bully and a coward. So the lad was not afraid. Some of his
comrades outside helped him to set up a tall ladder against the wall.
Then, while all the watchers and men-at-arms inside, had gone away to
defend the gates, Brabo climbed into the castle, through a slit in the
thick wall. This had been cut out, like a window, for the bow-and-arrow
men, and was usually occupied by a sentinel. Sword in hand, Brabo made
for the giant's own room. Glaring at the youth, the big fellow seized
his club and brought it down with such force that it went through the
wooden floor. But Brabo dodged the blow and, in a trice, made a sweep
with his sword. Cutting off the giant's head, he threw it out the
window. It had hardly touched the ground, before the dogs arrived. One
of the largest of these ran away with the trophy and the big, hairy
noddle of the bully was never found again.
But the giant's huge hands! Ah, they were cut off by Brabo, who stood on
the very top of the highest tower, while all below looked up and
cheered. Brabo laid one big hand on top of the other, as the giant used
to do, when he cut off the hands of captains. He took first the right
hand and then the left hand and threw them, one at a time, into the
A pretty sight now revealed the fact that the people knew what had been
going on and were proud of Brabo's valor. In a moment, every house in
Antwerp showed lighted candles, and the city was illuminated. Issuing
from the gates came a company of maidens. They were dressed in white,
but their leader was robed in yellow, red, and black, the colors of the
Brabant flag. They all sang in chorus the praises of Brabo their hero.
"Let us now drop the term of disgrace to the city--that of the
Hand-Throwing and give it a new name," said one of the leading men of
"No," said the chief ruler, "let us rather keep the name, and, more than
ever, invite all peaceful ships to come again, 'an-'t-werf' (at the
wharf), as of old. Then, let the arms of Antwerp be two red hands above
"Agreed," cried the citizens with a great shout. The Duke of Brabant
approved and gave new privileges to the city, on account of Brabo's
bravery. So, from high to low, all rejoiced to honor their hero, who
was richly rewarded.
After this, thousands of ships, from many countries, loaded or unloaded
their cargoes on the wharves, or sailed peacefully by. Antwerp excelled
all seaports and became very rich again. Her people loved their native
city so dearly, that they coined the proverb "All the world is a ring,
and Antwerp is the pearl set in it."
To this day, in the great square, rises the splendid bronze monument of
Brabo the Brave. The headless and handless hulk of the giant Antigonus
lies sprawling, while on his body rests Antwerp castle. Standing over
all, at the top, is Brabo high in air. He holds one of the hands of
Antigonus, which he is about to toss into the Scheldt River.
No people honor valor more than the Belgians. Themselves are to-day, as
of old, among the bravest.
THE FARM THAT RAN AWAY AND CAME BACK
There was once a Dutchman, who lived in the province called Drenthe.
Because there was a row of little trees on his farm, his name was Ryer
Van Boompjes; that is, Ryer of the Little Trees. After a while, he moved
to the shore of the Zuyder Zee and into Overijssel. Overijssel means
over the Ijssel River. There he bought a new farm, near the village of
Blokzyl. By dyking and pumping, certain wise men had changed ten acres,
of sand and heath, into pasture and land for plowing. They surrounded it
on three sides with canals. The fourth side fronted on the Zuyder Zee.
Then they advertised, in glowing language, the merits of the new land
and Ryer Van Boompjes bought it and paid for his real estate. He was as
proud as a popinjay of his island and he ruled over it like a Czar or a
A few years before, Ryer had married a "queezel," as the Dutch call
either a nun, or a maid who is no longer young. At this date, when our
story begins, he had four blooming, but old-fashioned children, with
good appetites. They could eat cabbage and potatoes, rye bread and
cheese, by the half peck, and drink buttermilk by the quart. In
addition, Ryer owned four horses, six cows, two dogs, some roosters and
hens, a flock of geese, two dozen ducks, and a donkey.
Yet although Ryer was rich, as wealth is reckoned in Drenthe, whence he
had come, he was greedy for more. He skimped the food of his animals. So
much did he do this, that his neighbors declared that they had seen him
put green spectacles on his cows and the donkey. Then he mixed straws
and shavings with the hay to make the animals think they were eating
When he ploughed, he drove his horses close to the edge next to the
water, so as to make use of every half inch of land. When sometimes bits
of fen land, from his neighbor's farms, got loose and floated on the
water, Ryer felt he was in luck. He would go out at night, grapple the
boggy stuff and fasten it to his own land.
After this had happened several times, and Ryer had added a half acre to
his holdings, his greed possessed him like a bad fairy. He began to
steal the land on the other side of the Zuyder Zee. In the course of
time, he became a regular land thief. Whenever he saw, or heard of, a
floating bit of territory, he rowed his boat after it by night. Before
morning, aided by wicked helpers, who shared in the plunder, and were in
his pay, he would have the bog attached to his own farm.
All this time, he hardly realized that his ill-gotten property, now
increased to twelve acres or more, was itself a very shaky bit of real
estate. In fact, it was not real at all. His wife one day told him so,
for she knew of her mean husband's trickery.
About this time, heavy rains fell, for many days, and without ceasing,
until all the region was reduced to pulp and the country seemed afloat.
The dykes appeared ready to burst. Thousands feared that the land had an
attack of the disease called val (fall) and that the soil would sink
under the waves as portions of the realm had done before, in days long
Yet none of this impending trouble worried Ryer, whose greed grew by
what it fed upon. In fact, the first day the sun shone again, quickly
drying up parts of his farm, he had two horses harnessed up for work.
Then he drove them so near the edge of the ditch that plough, man, and
horses tumbled, and down they went, into the shiny mess of mud and
At this moment, also, the water, from below the bottom of the Zuyder
Zee, welled up, in a great wave, like a mushroom, and the whole of
Ryer's soggy estate was on the point of breaking loose and seemed ready
to float away.
The stingy fellow, as he fell overboard, bumped his head so hard on the
plough beam, that he lay senseless for a half hour. He would certainly
have been drowned, had not Pete, his stout son, who was not far away,
and had seen the tumble, ran to the house, launched a boat and rowed
quickly to the spot, where he had last seen his father. Grabbing his
daddy by the collar, he hauled him, half dead, into the boat. Between
his bump and his fright, and the cold bath, old Ryer was a long time
coming to his wits. With filial piety, Pete kept on rubbing the paternal
hands and restoring the circulation.
All this, however, took a long time, even an hour or more. When his
father was able to sit up and talk, Pete started to row back to the
little wharf in front of his home.
But where was it,--the farm, with the house and fields? Whither had they
gone? Ryer was too mystified to get his bearings, but Pete knew the
points of the compass. Yet his father's farm was not there. He looked at
the shore of Overijssel, which he had left. Instead of the old, straight
lines of willow trees, with the church spire beyond, there was a hollow
and empty place. It looked as if a giant, as big as the world itself,
had bitten out a piece of land and swallowed it down. Dumbfounded,
father and son looked, the one at the other, but said nothing, for there
was nothing to say.
Meanwhile, what had become of the farm and "the Queezel," as the
neighbors still called her--that is, the mother with the children. These
good people soon saw that they were floating off somewhere. The mainland
was every moment receding further into the distance. In fact, the farm
was moving from Overijssel northward, towards Friesland. One by one, the
church spires of the village near by faded from sight.
But when the wind changed from south to west, they seemed as if on a
ship, with sails set, and to be making due west, for North Holland. The
younger children, so far from being afraid, clapped their hands in glee.
They thought it great fun to ferry across the big water, which they had
so long seen before their eyes. Their stingy father had never owned a
carriage, or allowed the horses to be ridden. He always made his family
walk to church. Whether it were to the sermon, in the morning, or to
hear the catechism expounded by the Domine, in the afternoon, all the
family had to tramp on their wooden shoes there and back.
As for the floating farm, the cows could not understand it. They mooed
piteously, while the donkey brayed loudly. At night, and day after day,
no one could attend properly to the animals, to see that they were fed
and given water. One always sees a big tub in the middle of a Dutch
pasture field. Neither ducks, nor geese, nor chickens minded it in the
least, but the thirsty cattle and horses, at the end of the first day,
had drunk the tub dry. None of the dumb brutes, even if they had not
been afraid of being drowned, could drink from the Zuyder Zee, for it
was chiefly sea water, that is, salt, or at least brackish.
Occasionally this errant farm, that had thus broken loose, passed by
fishermen, who wondered at so much land thus adrift. Yet they feared to
hail, and go on board, lest the owners might think them intruding.
Others thought it none of their business, supposing some crazy fellow
was using his farm as a ship, to move his lands, goods and household,
and thus save expense. In some of the villages, the runaway farm was
descried from the tops of the church towers. Then, it furnished a
subject for chat and gossip, during three days, to the women, as they
milked the cows, or knitted stockings. To the men, also, while they
smoked, or drank their coffee, it was a lively topic.
"There were real people on it and a house and stables," said the sexton
of a church, who declared that he had seen this new sort of a flying
Dutchman. It was the usual sight--"cow, dog, and stork," and then he
quoted the old Dutch proverb.
At last, after several days, and when Ryer and his son were nearly
finished, with fatigue and fright, in trying to row their boat to catch
up with the runaway farm, they finally reached a village across the
Zuyder Zee, in North Holland, where rye bread and turnips satisfied
their hunger and they had waffles for dessert. Their small change went
quickly, and then the two men were at their wit's end to know what
further to do.
By this time, out on the floating farm, the mother and children were
wild with fear of starving. All the food for the cattle had been eaten
up, the dog had no meat, the cat no milk, and the stork had run out of
its supply of frogs. There was no sugar or coffee, and neither rye nor
currant-bread, or sliced sausage or wafer-thin cheese for any one; but
only potatoes and some barley grain. Happily, however, in drifting
within sight of the village of Osterbeek, the mother and the children
noticed that the east wind was freshening. Soon they descried the tops
of the church towers of North Holland. The smell of cows and cheese and
of burning peat fires from the chimneys made both animals and human
beings happy, as the wind blew the island westward to the village.
Curiously enough, this was the very place at which, by hard rowing, Ryer
and Pete had also arrived. Father and son were sitting in the hotel
parlor, with their eyes down on the sandy floor, wondering how they were
to pay for their next sandwich and coffee, for their money was all gone.
At that moment, a small boy clattered over the bricks in his klomps. He
kicked these off, at the door, and rushed into the room. He had on his
yellow baggy trousers and his hair, of the same color, was cut level
with his ears. Half out of breath, he announced the coming, afloat, of
what looked like a combination of farm and menagerie. A house, a woman,
some girls, a dog, a cat, and a stork were on it and afloat.
At once, old man Ryer, still stiff from his long, cold bath, hobbled
out, and Pete ran before him. Yes, it was mother, the children and all
the animals! For the first time in his life, the mean old sinner felt
his heart thumping, in grateful emotion, under his woolen jacket, with
its two gold buttons. Something like real religion had finally oozed out
from under his crusted soul.
A whole convoy of boys, fishermen, farmers, and a fat vrouw or two,
volunteered to go out and tow the runaway farm to the village wharf.
They succeeded in grappling the float and held it fast by ropes tied to
a horse post.
That night all were happy. The farm was made fast by another rope put
round the town pump. Then the villagers all went to bed. They were happy
in having rescued a runaway farm, and they expected a good "loon"
(reward) from the rich old Ryer, who, in the barroom, had talked big
about his wealth.
As for the Van Boompjes, in order to save a landlord's bill for beds,
they slept in their house, on board the farm, amid the lowing of their
cattle that called out, in their own way, for more fodder; while the
people in the village wondered at roosters crowing out on the water, and
evidently the barn-yard birds were frightened.
And so they were; for, before midnight, when all other creatures were
asleep, and not even a mouse was stirring on land, whether hard fast, or
floating, the west wind rose mightily and blew to a terrific gale.
In a moment, the tow lines, that held the vagrant farm to the village
pump and horse post, snapped. The Van Boompjes estate left the wharf and
was driven, at a furious rate, across the Zuyder Zee. For several hours,
like a ship under full sail, it was pushed westward by the wind. Yet so
soundly did all sleep, man and wife, children and hens, that none
awakened during this strange voyage. Even the roosters, after their
first concert, held in their voices.
Suddenly, and as straight as if steered by a skilled pilot, the Van
Boompjes farm, now an accomplished traveller, after its many adventures,
shot into its old place. This took place with such violence, that Ryer
Van Boompjes and his wife were both thrown out of bed. The cows were
knocked over in the stable. The dog barked, supposing some one had
kicked him. One old rooster, jostled off his perch, set up a tremendous
crowing, that brought some of the early risers out to rub their eyes and
see what was going on.
"Hemel en aard, bliksem en regen" (Heaven and earth, lightning and
rain), they cried, "the old farm is back in its place."
In fact, the Van Boompjes real estate was snugly fitted once more to the
mainland, and again in the niche it had left. It had struck so hard,
that a ridge of raised sod, five inches high, marked the place of
junction. At least twenty fishes and wriggling eels were smashed in the
From that day forth the conscience of Van Boompjes returned, and he
actually became an honest man. He sawed off, from time to time, portions
of his big farm, and returned them home, with money paid as interest, to
the owners. He found out all the mynheers, whose bits of land had
drifted off. He sent a tidy sum of gold to the village in North Holland,
where his farm had been moored, for a few hours. With a good conscience,
he went to church and worshipped. His action, at each of the two
collections, which Dutch folks always take up on Sundays, was noticed
and praised as a sure and public sign of the old sinner's true
repentance. When the deacons, with their white gloves on, poked under
his nose their black velvet bags, hung at the end of fishing poles, ten
feet long, this man, who had been for years a skinflint, dropped in a
silver coin each time.
On the farm, all the animals, from duck to stork, and from dog to ox,
now led happier lives. In the family, all declared that the behavior of
the farm and the wind of the Zuyder Zee had combined to make a new man
and a delightful father of old Van Boompjes. He lived long and happily
and died greatly lamented.
SANTA KLAAS AND BLACK PETE
Who is Santa Klaas? How did he get his name? Where does he live? Did you
ever see him?
These are questions, often asked of the storyteller, by little folks.
Before Santa Klaas came into the Netherlands, that is, to Belgium and
Holland, he was called by many names, in the different countries in
which he lived, and where he visited. Some people say he was born in
Myra, many hundred years ago before the Dutch had a dyke or a windmill,
or waffles, or wooden shoes. Others tell us how, in time of famine, the
good saint found the bodies of three little boys, pickled in a tub, at a
market for sale, and to be eaten up. They had been salted down to keep
till sold. The kind gentleman and saint, whose name was Nicholas,
restored these three children to life. It is said that once he lost his
temper, and struck with his fist a gentleman named Arius; but the
story-teller does not believe this, for he thinks it is a fib, made up
long afterward. How could a saint lose his temper so?
Another story they tell of this same Nicholas was this. There were three
lovely maidens, whose father had lost all his money. They wanted
husbands very badly, but had no money to buy fine clothes to get married
in. He took pity on both their future husbands and themselves. So he
came to the window, and left three bags of gold, one after the other.
Thus these three real girls all got real husbands, just as the novels
tell us of the imaginary ones. They lived happily ever afterward, and
never scolded their husbands.
By and by, men who were goldsmiths, bankers or pawnbrokers, made a sign
of these three bags of gold, in the shape of balls. Now they hang them
over their shop doors, two above one. This means "two to one, you will
never get it again"--when you put your ring, furs, or clothes, or watch,
or spoons, in pawn.
It is ridiculous how many stories they do tell of this good man,
Nicholas, who was said to be what they call a bishop, or inspector, who
goes around seeing that things are done properly in the churches. It was
because the Reverend Mr. Nicholas had to travel about a good deal, that
the sailors and travellers built temples and churches in his honor. To
travel, one must have a ship on the sea and a horse on the land, or a
reindeer up in the cold north; though now, it is said, he comes to
Holland in a steamship, and uses an automobile.
On Santa Klaas eve, each of the Dutch children sets out in the chimney
his wooden shoe. Into it, he puts a whisp of hay, to feed the
traveller's horse. When St. Nicholas first came to Holland, he arrived
in a sailing ship from Spain and rode on a horse. Now he arrives in a
big steamer, made of steel. Perhaps he will come in the future by
aeroplane. To fill all the shoes and stockings, the good saint must have
an animal to ride. Now the fast white horse, named Sleipnir, was ready
for him, and on Sleipnir's back he made his journeys.
How was Santa Klaas dressed?
His clothes were those of a bishop. He wore a red coat and his cap,
higher than a turban and called a mitre, was split along two sides and
pointed at the top. In his hands, he held a crozier, which was a staff
borrowed from shepherds, who tended sheep; and with the crozier he
helped the lambs over rough places; but the crozier of Santa Klaas was
tipped with gold. He had white hair and rosy cheeks. For an old man, he
was very active, but his heart and feelings never got to be one day
older than a boy's, for these began when mother love was born and
father's care was first in the world, but it never grows old.
When Santa Klaas travelled up north to Norway and into the icy cold
regions, where there were sleighs and reindeer, he changed his clothes.
Instead of his red robe, he wears a jacket, much shorter and trimmed
with ermine, white as snow. Taking off his mitre, he wears a cap of fur
also, and has laid aside his crozier. In the snow, wheels are no good,
and runners are the best for swift travel. So, instead of his white
horse and a wagon, he drives in a sleigh, drawn by two stags with large
horns. In every country, he puts into the children's stockings hung up,
or shoes set in the fireplace, something which they like. In Greenland,
for example, he gives the little folks seal blubber, and fish hooks. So
his presents are not the same in every country. However, for naughty
boys and girls everywhere, instead of filling shoes and stockings, he
may leave a switch, or pass them by empty.
When Santa Klaas travels, he always brings back good things. Now when he
first came to New Netherland in America, what did he find to take back
Well, it was here, on our continent, that he found corn, potatoes,
pumpkins, maple sugar, and something to put in pipes to smoke; besides
strange birds and animals, such as turkeys and raccoons, in addition to
many new flowers. What may be called a weed, like the mullein, for
example, is considered very pretty in Europe, where they did not have
such things. There it is called the American Velvet Plant, or the King's
But, better than all, Santa Klaas found a negro boy, Pete, who became
one of the most faithful of his helpers. At Utrecht, in Holland, the
students of the University give, every year, a pageant representing
Santa Klaas on his white horse, with Black Pete, who is always on hand
and very busy. Black Pete's father brought peanuts from Africa to
America, and sometimes Santa Klaas drops a bagful of these, as a great
curiosity, into the shoes of the Dutch young folks.
Santa Klaas was kept very busy visiting the homes and the public schools
in New Netherland; for in these schools all the children, girls as well
as boys, and not boys only, received a free education. In later visits
he heard of Captain Kidd and his fellow pirates, who wore striped shirts
and red caps, and had pigtails of hair, tied in eel skins, and hanging
down their backs. These fellows wore earrings and stuck pistols in their
belts and daggers at their sides. Instead of getting their gold
honestly, and giving it to the poor, or making presents to the children,
the pirates robbed ships. Then, as 'twas said, they buried their
treasure. Lunatics and boys that read too many novels, have ever since
been digging in the land to find Captain Kidd's gold.
Santa Klaas does not like such people. Moreover, he was just as good to
the poor slaves, as to white children. So the colored people loved the
good saint also. Their pickaninnies always hung up their stockings on
the evening of December sixth.
Santa Klaas filled the souls of the people in New Netherland so full of
his own spirit, that now children all over the United States, and those
of Americans living in other countries, hang up their stockings and look
for a visit from him.
In Holland, Black Pete was very loyal and true to his master, carrying
not only the boxes and bundles of presents for the good children, but
also the switches for bad boys and girls. Between the piles of pretty
things to surprise good children, on one side, and the boxes of birch
and rattan, the straps and hard hair-brush backs for naughty youngsters,
Pete holds the horn of plenty. In this are dolls, boats, trumpets,
drums, balls, toy houses, flags, the animals in Noah's Ark, building
blocks, toy castles and battleships, story and picture books, little
locomotives, cars, trains, automobiles, aeroplanes, rocking horses,
windmills, besides cookies, candies, marbles, tops, fans, lace, and more
nice things than one can count.
Pete also takes care of the horse of Santa Klaas, named Sleipnir, which
goes so fast that, in our day, the torpedo and submarine U-boats are
named after him. This wonderful animal used to have eight feet, for
swiftness. That was when Woden rode him, but, in course of time, four of
his legs dropped off, so that the horse of Santa Klaas looks less like a
centipede and more like other horses. Whenever Santa Klaas walks, Pete
has to go on foot also, even though the chests full of presents for the
children are very heavy and Pete has to carry them.
Santa Klaas cares nothing about rich girls or poor girls, for all the
kinds of boys he knows about or thinks of are good boys and bad boys. A
youngster caught stealing jam out of the closet, or cookies from the
kitchen, or girls lifting lumps of sugar out of the sugar bowl, or
eating too much fudge, or that are mean, stingy, selfish, or have bad
tempers, are considered naughty and more worthy of the switch than of
presents. So are the boys who attend Sunday School for a few weeks
before Christmas, and then do not come any more till next December.
These Santa Klaas turns over to Pete, to be well thrashed.
[Illustration: Santa Klaas and Black Pete.]
In Holland, Pete still keeps on the old dress of the time of New
Netherland. He wears a short jacket, with wide striped trousers, in
several bright colors, shoes strapped on his feet, a red cap and a ruff
around his neck. Sometimes he catches bad boys, to put them in a bag for
a half hour, to scare them; or, he shuts them up in a dark closet, or
sends them to bed without any supper. Or, instead of allowing them
eleven buckwheat cakes at breakfast, he makes them stop at five. When
Santa Klaas leaves Holland to go back to Spain, or elsewhere, Pete takes
care of the nag Sleipnir, and hides himself until Santa Klaas comes
again next year.
The story-teller knows where Santa Klaas lives, but he won't tell.
THE GOBLINS TURNED TO STONE
When the cow came to Holland, the Dutch folks had more and better things
to eat. Fields of wheat and rye took the place of forests. Instead of
acorns and the meat of wild game, they now enjoyed milk and bread. The
youngsters made pets of the calves and all the family lived under one
roof. The cows had a happy time of it, because they were kept so clean,
fed well, milked regularly, and cared for in winter.
By and by the Dutch learned to make cheese and began to eat it every
day. They liked it, whether it was raw, cooked, toasted, sliced, or in
chunks, or served with other good things. Even the foxes and wild
creatures were very fond of the smell and taste of toasted cheese. They
came at night close to the houses, often stealing the cheese out of the
pantry. When a fox would not, or could not, be caught in a trap by any
other bait, a bit of cooked cheese would allure him so that he was
caught and his fur made use of.
When the people could not get meat, or fish, they had toasted bread and
cheese, which in Dutch is "geroostered brod met kaas." Then they
laughed, and named the new dish after whatever they pretended it was. It
was just the same, as when they called goodies, made out of flour and
sugar, "nuts," "fingers," "calves" and "lambs." Even grown folks love to
play and pretend things like children.
Soon, it became the fashion to have cheese parties. Men and women would
sit around the fire, by the hour, nibbling the toast that had melted
cheese poured over it. But after they had gone to bed, some of them
Now some dreams may be pleasant, but cheese-dreams were not usually of
this sort. The dreamer thought that a big she-horse had climbed upon the
bed and sat down upon his stomach. Once there, the beast grinned
hideously, snored, and pressed its hoofs down on the sleeper's breast,
so that he could not breathe or speak. The feeling was a horrible one;
but, just when the dreamer expected to choke, he seemed to jump off some
high place, and come down somewhere, very far off. Then the animal ran
away and the terrible dream was over.
This was called a nightmare, or in Dutch a "nacht merrie." "Nacht" means
night, and "merrie" a filly or a mare. In the dream, it was not a small
or a young horse, but always a big mare that squatted down on a man's
In those days, instead of seeking for the trouble inside, or asking
whether there was any connection between nightmares and too hearty
eating of cheese, the Dutch fathers laid it all on the goblins.
The goblins, or sooty elves, that used to live in Holland, were ugly,
short fellows, very smart, quick in action and able to travel far in a
second. They were first cousins to the kabouters. They had big heads,
green eyes and split feet, like cows. They were so ugly, that they were
ordered to live under ground and never come out during the day. If they
did, they would be turned to stone.
The goblins had a bad reputation for mischief. They liked to have fun
with human beings. They would listen to the conversation of people and
then mock them by repeating the last word. That is the reason why echoes
were called "week klank," or dwarf's talk.
Because these goblins were short, they envied men their greater stature
and wanted to grow to the height of human beings. As they were not able
of themselves to do this, they often sneaked into a house and snatched a
child out of the cradle. In place of the stolen baby, one of their own
wizened children was laid. That was the reason why many a poor little
baby, that grew puny and thin, was called a "wiseel-kind," or
changeling. When the sick baby could not get well, and medicine or care
seemed to do no good, the mother thought that the goblins had taken away
her own child.
It was only the female goblins that would change themselves into night
mares and sit on the body of the dreamer. They usually came in through a
hole or a crack; but if that person in the house could plug up the hole,
or stop the crack, he could conquer the female goblin, and do what he
pleased with her. If a man wanted to, he could make her his wife. So
long as the hole was kept stopped up, by which the goblin entered, she
made a good wife. If this crack was left open, or if the plug dropped
out of the hole, the she-goblin was off and could never be found again.
The ruler of the goblins lived beneath the earth, as the king of the
underworld. His palace was made of gold and glittered with gems. He had
riches more than men could count. All the goblins and kabouters, who
worked in the mines and at the forges and anvils, making swords, spears,
bells, or jewels, obeyed him.
The most wonderful things about these dwarfs was the way in which they
made themselves invisible, so that men were able to see neither the
night mares nor the male goblins, while at their mischief. This was a
little red cap which every goblin possessed, and which he was careful
never to lose. The red cap acted like a snuffer on a candle, to put it
out, and while under it, no goblin could be seen by mortal eyes.
Now it happened that one night, as a dear old lady lay dying on her bed,
a middle-sized goblin, with his red cap on, came in through a crack into
the room, and stood at the foot of her bed. Just for mischief and to
frighten her by making himself visible, he took off his red cap.
When the old lady saw the imp, she cried out loudly:
"Go way, go way. Don't you know I belong to my Lord?"
But the goblin dwarf only laughed at her, with his green eyes.
Calling her daughter Alida, the old lady whispered in her ear:
"Bring me my wooden shoes."
Rising up in her bed, the old lady hurled the heavy klomps, one after
the other, at the goblin's head. At this, he started to get out through
the crack, and away, but before his body was half out, Alida snatched
his red cap away. Then she stuck a needle in his cloven foot that made
him howl with pain. Alida looked at the crack through which he escaped
and found it quite sooty.
Twirling the little red cap around on her forefinger, a brilliant
thought struck her. She went and told the men her plan, and they agreed
to it. This was to gather hundreds of farmers and townfolk, boys and men
together, on the next moonlight night, and round up all the goblins in
Drenthe. By pulling off their caps, and holding them till the sun rose,
when they would be petrified, the whole brood could be exterminated.
So, knowing that the goblin would come the next night, to steal back his
red cap, she left a note outside the crack, telling him to bring several
hundred goblins to the great moor, or veldt. There, at a certain hour
near midnight, he would find the red cap on a bush. With his companions,
he could celebrate the return of the cap. In exchange for this, she
asked the goblin to bring her a gold necklace.
The moonlight night came round and hundreds of the men of Drenthe
gathered together. They were armed with horseshoes, and with witch-hazel
and other plants, which are like poison to the sooty elves. They had
also bits of parchment covered with runes, a strange kind of writing,
and various charms which are supposed to be harmful to goblins. It was
agreed to move together in a circle towards the centre, where the lady
Alida was to hang the red cap upon a bush. Then, with a rush, the men
were to snatch off all the goblins' caps, pulling and grabbing, whether
they could see, or even feel anything, or not.
The placing of the red cap upon the bush in the centre, by the lady
Alida, was the signal.
So, when the great round-up narrowed to a small space, the men began to
grab, snatch and pull. Putting their hands out in the air, at the height
of about a yard from the ground, they hustled and pushed hard. In a few
minutes, hundreds of red caps were in their hands, and as many goblins
became visible. They were, indeed, an ugly host.
Yet hundreds of other goblins escaped, with their caps on, and were
still invisible. As they broke away in groups, however, they were seen,
for in each bunch was one or more visible fellow, because he was
capless. So the men divided into squads, to chase the imps a long
distance, even to many distant places. It was a most curious night
battle. Here could be seen groups of men in a tussle with the goblins,
many more of which, but by no means all, were made capless and visible.
[Illustration: AT THE FIRST LEVEL RAY THE GOBLINS WERE ALL TURNED TO STONE]
The racket kept up till the sky in the east was gray. Had all the
goblins run away, it would have been well with them. Hundreds of them
did, but the others were so anxious to help their fellows, or to get
back their own caps, fearing the disgrace of returning head bare to
their king, and getting a good scolding, that the sun suddenly rose on
them, before they knew it was day.
At the first level ray, the goblins were all turned to stone.
The treeless, desolate land, which, a moment before, was full of
struggling goblins and men, became as quiet as the blue sky above.
Nothing but some rounded rocks or stones, in groups, marked the spot
where the bloodless battle of imps and men had been fought.
There, these stones, big and little, lie to this day. Among the
buckwheat, and the potato blossoms of the summer, under the shadows and
clouds, and whispering breezes of autumn, or covered with the snows of
winter, they are seen on desolate heaths. Over some of them, oak trees,
centuries old, have grown. Others are near, or among, the farmers' grain
fields, or, not far from houses and barn-yards. The cows wander among
them, knowing nothing of their past. And the goblins come no more.
THE MOULDY PENNY
"Gold makes a woman penny-white," said the Dutch, in the days when
fairies were plentiful and often in their thoughts. What did the proverb
mean? Who ever saw a white penny?
Well, that was long ago, when pennies were white, because they were then
made of silver. Each one was worth a denary, which was a coin worth
about a shilling, or a quarter of a dollar.
As the Dutch had pounds, shillings and pence, before the English had
them, we see what _d_ in the signs L s. d. means, that is, a
denary, or a white penny, made of silver.
In the old days, before the Dutch had houses with glass windows or
clothes of cloth or linen, or hats or shoes, cows and horses, or butter
and cheese, they knew nothing of money and they cared less. Almost
everything, even the land, was owned in common by all. Their wants were
few. Whenever they needed anything from other countries they swapped or
bartered. In this way they traded salt for furs, or fish for iron. But
when they met with, or had to fight, another tribe that was stronger or
richer, or knew more than they did, they required other things, which
the forests and waters could not furnish. So, by and by, pedlars and
merchants came up from the south. They brought new and strange articles,
such as mirrors, jewelry, clothes, and pretty things, which the girls
and women wanted and had begged their daddies and husbands to get for
them. For the men, they brought iron tools and better weapons, improved
traps, to catch wild beasts, and wagons, with wheels that had spokes.
When regular trade began, it became necessary to have money of some
Then coins of gold, silver, and copper were seen in the towns and
villages, and even in the woods and on the heaths of Holland. Yet there
was a good deal that was strange and mysterious about these round,
shining bits of metal, called money.
"Money. What is money?" asked many a proud warrior disdainfully.
Then the wise men explained to the fighting men, that money was named
after Juno Moneta, a goddess in Rome. She told men that no one would
ever want for money who was honest and just. Then, by and by, the mint
was in her temple and money was coined there. Then, later, in Holland,
the word meant money, but many people, who wanted to get rich quickly,
worshipped her. In time, however, the word "gold" meant money in
When a great ruler, named Charlemagne, conquered or made treaties with
our ancestors, he allowed them to have mints and to coin money. Then,
again, it seemed wonderful how the pedlars and the goldsmiths and the
men called Lombards--strange long-bearded men from the south, who came
among the Dutch--grew rich faster than the work people. They seemed to
amass gold simply by handling money.
When a man who knew what a silver penny would do, made a present of one
to his wife, her face lighted up with joy. So in time, the word "penny
white," meant the smiling face of a happy woman. Yet it was also noticed
that the more people had, the more they wanted. The girls and boys
quickly found that money would buy what the pedlars brought. In the
towns, shops sprang up, in which were many curious things, which tempted
people to buy.
Some tried to spend their money and keep it too--to eat their cake and
have it also--but they soon found that they could not do this. There
were still many foolish, as well as wise people, in the land, even
during the new time of money. A few saved their coins and were happy in
giving some to the poor and needy. Many fathers had what was called a
"sparpot," or home savings bank, and taught their children the right use
of money. It began to be the custom for people to have family names, so
that a girl was not merely the daughter of so-and-so, nor a boy the son
of a certain father. In the selection of names, those which had the word
"penny" in them proved to be very popular. To keep a coin in the little
home bank, without spending it, long enough for it to gather mould,
which it did easily in the damp climate of Holland, that is, to darken
and get a crust on it, was considered a great virtue in the owner. This
showed that the owner had a strong mind and power of self-control. So
the name "Schimmelpennig," or "mouldy penny," became honorable, because
such people were wise and often kind and good. They did not waste their
money, but made good use of it.
On the other hand, were some mean and stingy folks, who liked to hear
the coins jingle. Instead of wisely spending their cash, or trading with
it, they hoarded their coins; that is, they hid them away in a stocking,
or a purse, or in a jar, or a cracked cooking pot, that couldn't be
used. Often they put it away somewhere in the chimney, behind a loose
brick. Then, at night, when no one was looking, these miserly folks
counted, rubbed, jingled, and gloated over the shining coins and never
helped anybody. So there grew up three sorts of people, called the
thrifty, the spendthrifts, and the misers. These last were the meanest
and most disliked of all. Others, again, hid their money away, so as to
have some, when sick, or old, and they talked about it. No one found
fault with these, though some laughed and said "a penny in the savings
jar makes more noise than when it is full of gold." Even when folks got
married they were exhorted by the minister to save money, "so as to have
something to give to the poor."
Now when the fairies, that work down underground, heard that the Dutch
had learned the use of money, and had even built a mint to stamp the
metal, they held a feast to talk over what they should do to help or
harm. In any event, they wanted to have some fun with the mortals above
That has always been the way with kabouters. They are in for fun, first,
last, and always. So, with punches and hammers, they made counterfeit
money. Then, in league with the elves, they began also to delude misers
and make them believe that much money makes men happy.
A long time after the mint had been built, two kabouters met to talk
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