At another place Mr. George himself, as well as Rollo, was much interested in seeing the process of tobacco inspection. There were a number of hogsheads of tobacco, with a party of porters, coopers, inspectors, and clerks examining them. It was curious to see how rapidly they would go through the process. The coopers would set a hogshead up upon its end, knock out the head, loosen all the staves at one end, whisk it over upon the platform of the scales, and then lift the hogshead itself entirely off, and set it down on one side, leaving the tobacco alone, in a great round pile, on the platform. Then when it was weighed they would tumble it over upon its side, and separate it into its layers, and the inspectors would take out specimens from all the different portions of it. Then they would pile up the layers again, and put the hogshead on over them, as you would put an extinguisher on a candle; and, finally, after turning it over once more, they would put it on the head, and bind it all up again tight and secure, with hoop poles which they nailed in and around it. The porters would then roll the hogshead off, in order to put it on a cart and take it away. The whole operation was performed with a degree of system, regularity, and promptness, that was quite surprising. The whole work of opening the hogshead, examining it thoroughly, weighing it, selecting specimens, and putting it up again, was accomplished in less time than it has taken me here to describe it.
There were a great many other operations of this sort that arrested the attention of Mr. George and Rollo, as they walked along the streets. Much of the merchandise which they saw thus landing from the ships, or going on board of them, was of great value, and the ships in which it came were of immense size, such as are engaged in the East India trade. Mr. George said that they were the kind that he had often read about in history, under the name of Dutch East Indiamen.
Rollo was very much amused at the signs over the doors of the shops, in those streets where there were shops, and in the efforts that he made to interpret them. There was one which read SCHEEP'S VICTUALIJ, which Mr. George said must mean victualling for ships. He was helped, however, somewhat in making this translation by observing what was exhibited in the windows of the shop, and at the door. There was another in which Rollo did not require any help to enable him to translate it. It was TABAK, KOFFY, UND THEE. Another at first perplexed him. It was this: HUIS UND SCHEEP'S SMEDERY. But by seeing that the place was a sort of blacksmith's shop, Rollo concluded that it must mean house and ship smithery, that is, that it was a place for blacksmith's work for houses and ships.
Over one of the doors was OOSTERHOUTS UND BREDA'S BIER HUIS. Mr. George said that Breda was a place not far from Rotterdam, and that the last part of the sign must mean house for selling Breda beer. Rollo then concluded that the first word must mean something connected with oysters. There was another, KOFFER EN ZADEL MAKERIJ. At first Rollo could not make any thing of this; but on looking at the window he saw a painting of a horse's head, with a handsome bridle upon it, and a saddle on one side. So he concluded it must mean a trunk and saddle makery. He was the more convinced of the correctness of this from the fact that the word for trunk or box, in French, is coffre.
Rollo amused himself a long time in interpreting in this way the signs that he saw in the streets, and he succeeded so well in it that he told Mr. George that he believed he could learn the Dutch language very easily, if he were going to stay for any considerable time in Holland.
Another thing that amused Rollo very much, was to see the wooden shoes that were worn by the common people in the streets. These shoes appeared to Rollo to be very large and clumsy; but even the little children wore them, and the noise that they made, clattering about the pavements with them, was very amusing.
In a great many places where the streets intersected each other, there were bridges leading across the canals. These bridges were of a very curious construction. They were all draw bridges, and as boats and vessels were continually passing and repassing along the canals, it became frequently necessary to raise them, in order to let the vessels go through. The machinery for raising these bridges and letting them down again, was very curious; and Rollo and Mr. George were both glad, when, in coming to the bridge, they found it was up, as it gave them an opportunity to watch the manoeuvre of passing the vessel through.
Every boat and vessel that went through had a toll to pay, and the manner of collecting this toll was not the least singular part of the whole procedure. While the bridge was up, and when the boat had passed nearly through, the helmsman, or helmswoman, as the case might be,—for one half the boats and vessels seemed to be steered by women,—would get the money ready; and then the tollman, who stood on the abutment of the bridge, would swing out to the boat one of the wooden shoes above described, which was suspended by a long line from the end of a pole, like a fishing pole. The tollman would swing out this shoe over the boat that was passing through, as a boy would swing his hook and sinker out over the water if he were going to catch fish. The helmsman in the boat would take hold of it when it came within his reach, and put the money into the toe of it. The tollman would then draw it in, and, taking out the money, would carry it to his toll house, which was a small building, not much bigger than a sentry box that stood on the pier close by.
In one case Rollo came to a bridge, which, instead of being made to be raised entirely, had only a very narrow part in the centre, just wide enough for the masts and rigging of the ship to go through, that could be moved. When this part was lifted up to let a vessel pass, it made only a very narrow opening, such as a boy might jump across very easily.
In some places where the passing and repassing of ships was very great, there was a ferry instead of a bridge. In these cases there was a flat-bottomed boat to pass to and from one side to the other, with a pretty little landing of stone steps at each end. Rollo was much entertained by these ferries. He said it was crossing a street by water. And it was exactly that, and no more. The place where he first crossed one of these ferries was precisely like a broad street of water, with ships and boats going to and fro upon it, instead of carriages, and a very wide brick sidewalk on each side. The ferry was at the crossing, at the place where another street intersected it.
As the houses on each side of these streets were very large and handsome, and as there were rows of beautiful trees on the margin of the water, and as every thing about the water, and the ships, and the quays, and the sidewalks, was kept very neat and clean, the whole view, as it presented itself to Rollo and Mr. George while they were crossing in the boat, was exceedingly attractive and exciting.
Mr. George and Rollo remained in Rotterdam several days before they were satisfied with the curious and wonderful spectacles which it presented to view. In one of their walks they made the entire circuit of the town, and Mr. George agreed with Rollo in the opinion that this was one of the most interesting walks they had ever taken.
The way led along a smooth and beautiful road, which was neatly paved, and kept very nice and clean. On the right hand side there extended along the whole length of it a wide canal, with boats all the time going to and fro. This canal looked brimming full. The water, in fact, came up within a few inches of the level of the road. The line of the road was formed by a smooth and straight margin of stone,—like the margin of a fountain,—with little platforms extending out here and there, where neatly-dressed girls and women were washing.
On the other side of the road, down ten feet or more below the level of it, was a range of houses, with yards, gardens, and fields about them. The way to these houses was by paths leading down from the dike on which the road was built, and across little bridges built over a small canal which extended between them and the dike. This small canal was for the draining of the land on which the houses stood. The water in this canal had a gentle flow towards the end of the street, where there was a wind mill to pump it up into the great canal on the other side of the street.
As Rollo and Mr. George walked along this road, it was very curious to them to see the water on one side so much higher than the land on the other. At the intervals between the houses they obtained glimpses of the interior of the country, which consisted of level fields lying far below where they were standing, and intersected in every direction by small canals, which served the purpose at the same time of fences, roads, and drains. There seemed to be no other divisions than these between the lands of the different proprietors, and no other roads for bringing home the hay or grain, or other produce which might be raised in the fields.
In pursuing their walk around the town, our travellers were continually coming to objects so curious in their construction and use, as to arrest their attention and cause them to stop and examine them. At one place they saw a little ferry boat, which looked precisely like a little floating room. It was square, and had a roof over it like a house, with seats for the passengers below. This boat plied to and fro across the canal, by means of a rope fastened to each shore, and running over pulleys in the boat.
"We might take this ferry boat," said Mr. George, "and go across the canal into the town again. See, it lands opposite to one of the streets."
"Yes," said Rollo, "but I would rather keep on, and go all around the town outside."
"We might go over in the ferry boat just for the fun of it," said Mr. George, "and then come back again."
"Well," said Rollo. "How much do you suppose the toll is?"
"I don't know," said Mr. George. "It can't be much, it is such a small boat, and goes such a little way; and then, besides, I know it must be cheap, or else there could not so many of these girls and women go back and forth."
For while they had been looking at the boat, as they gradually approached the spot, they had seen it pass to and fro with many passengers, who, though they were very neatly dressed, were evidently by no means wealthy or fashionable people.
So Mr. George and Rollo went to the margin of the road where the ferry boat had its little landing place, and when it came up they stepped on board. The ferryman could only talk Dutch, and so Mr. George could not ask him what was to pay. The only thing to be done was to give him a piece of silver, and let him give back such change as he pleased. Mr. George gave him a piece of money about as big as half a franc, and he got back so much change in return that he said he felt richer than he did before.
At another place they came to a bridge that led across the canal. This bridge turned on a pivot placed out near the middle of the canal, so that it could be moved out of the way when there was a boat to go by. A man was turning it when Mr. George and Rollo came along. They stopped to witness the operation. They were quite amused, not merely with the manoeuvring of the bridge, but with the form and appearance of the boat that was going through. It seemed to be half boat and half house. There was a room built in it, which rose somewhat above the deck, and showed several little windows with pretty curtains to them. There was a girl sitting at one of these windows, knitting, and two or three children were playing about the deck at the time that the boat was going through the bridge.
Farther on the party came to an immense wind mill, which was employed in pumping up water. This wind mill, like most of the others, was built of brick. It rose to a vast height into the air, and there its immense sails were slowly revolving. The wind mill was forty or fifty feet in diameter at the base, and midway between the base and the summit was a platform built out, that extended all around it. The sails of the mill, as they revolved, only extended down to this platform, and the platform itself was above the roofs of the four-story houses that stood near.
At the foot of this wind mill Mr. George and Rollo could see the water running in under it, through a sluice way which led from a low canal, and on the other side they could see it pouring out in a great torrent, into a higher one.
* * * * *
Besides making this circuit around the town, Mr. George and Rollo one evening took a walk in the environs, on a road which led along on the top of a dike. The dike was very broad, and the descent from it to the low land on each side was very gradual. On the slopes on each side, and along the margin on the top, were rows of immense trees, that looked as if they had been growing for centuries. The branches of these trees met overhead, so as to exclude the sun entirely. They made the road a deeply-shaded avenue, and gave to the whole scene a very sombre and solemn expression. On each side of the road, down upon the low land which formed the general level of the country, were a succession of country houses, the summer residences of the rich merchants of Rotterdam. These houses were beautifully built; and they were surrounded with grounds ornamented in the highest degree. There were winding walks, and serpentine canals, and beds of flowers, and pretty bridges, and summer houses, and groves of trees, and every thing else that can add to the beauty of a summer retreat.
All these scenes Mr. George and Rollo looked down upon as they sauntered slowly along the smooth sidewalk of the dike, under the majestic trees which shaded it. The place where they were walking on the dike was on a level with the second story windows of the houses.
DOING THE HAGUE.
"And now what is the next place that we shall come to?" said Rollo to Mr. George one morning after they had been some days in Rotterdam.
"The Hague," replied Mr. George.
"Ah, yes," said Rollo, "that is the capital. We shall stop there a good while I suppose, because it is the capital."
"No," said Mr. George, "I shall go through it just as quick as I can for that very reason. I have a great mind not to stop there at all."
"Why, uncle George!" exclaimed Rollo, surprised, "what do you mean by that?"
"Why, the Hague," rejoined Mr. George, "is the place where the king lives, and the princes, and the foreign ambassadors, and all the fashionable people; and there will be nothing to see there, I expect, but palaces, and picture galleries, and handsome streets, and such things, all of which we can see more of and better in Paris or London."
"Still we want to see what sort of a place the Hague is," said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George, "and I expect to do that in a very short time, and then I shall go on to Haarlem, where they have had such a time with their pumping."
Mr. George and Rollo packed up their valise, paid their bill at the hotel, and set off for the station.
"Let's go to the station by water," said Rollo.
"Well," said Mr. George, "if you will engage a boat."
"I know a place not far from here where there is a boat station," said Rollo.
So Rollo led the way until they came to a bridge, and there, by the side of the bridge, were some stairs leading down to the water. There were several boats lying at the foot of the stairs, and boatmen near, who all called out in Dutch, "Do you want a boat?" At least that was what Rollo supposed they said, though, of course, he could not understand their language. Rollo walked down the steps, and got into one of the boats, and Mr. George followed him.
"I can't speak Dutch," said Rollo to the boatman, "but that is the way we want to go." So saying, Rollo pointed in the direction which led towards the station. The man did not understand a word that Rollo had said; but still, by hearing it, he learned the fact that Rollo did not speak the language of the country, and by his signs he knew that he must go the way that he pointed. So he began to row the boat along.
"We cannot go quite to the station by the boat," said Rollo, "but we can go pretty near it, and we can walk the rest of the way."
"How will you find out the way," asked Mr. George, "through all these canals?"
"I can tell by the map," said Rollo.
So Rollo sat down on a seat at the stern of the boat, and taking out his map, which was printed on a pocket handkerchief, he spread it on his knee, and began to study out the canals.
"There," said he, "we are going along this canal, now; and there, a little way ahead from here, is a bridge that we shall go under. Then we shall make a turn," continued Rollo, still studying his map. "We shall have to go a very round-about way; but that is no matter."
So they went on, Rollo at each turn pointing to the boatman which way he was to go. Sometimes the boat was stopped for a time by a jam in the boats and vessels before it, as a hack might be stopped in Broadway in New York. Sometimes it went under bridges, and sometimes through dark archways, where Rollo could hear carriages rumbling over his head in the streets above.
At length the boat reached the point which Rollo thought was nearest to the station; and the man, at a signal which Rollo gave him, stopped at some steps. Rollo paid the fare by holding out a handful of money in his hand, and letting the man take what was right, watching him, however, to see that he did not take too much.
Then Mr. George and Rollo both went ashore, and walked the rest of the way to the station.
In the European railroad stations there are different waiting rooms for the different classes of travellers. Mr. George sometimes took second class carriages, and sometimes first. For short distances he generally went first class, and as it was only a few miles to the Hague from Rotterdam, he now went into the first class waiting room. There was a counter for refreshment in one corner of the room, and some sofas along the sides. Mr. George sat down upon one of the sofas, putting his valise on the floor at the end of it. Rollo said that he would go out and take a little walk around the station, for it was yet half an hour before the train was to go.
In a few minutes after Rollo had gone, there came to the door, among other carriages, one from which Mr. George, to his great surprise, saw Mr. and Mrs. Parkman get out. Mr. George's first thought was to go out by another door, and make his escape. But he checked this impulse, saying to himself,
"It would be very ungenerous in me to abandon my old friend in his misfortune; so I will stay."
Mr. Parkman seemed very much delighted, as well as surprised, to see Mr. George again; and Mrs. Parkman gave him quite a cordial greeting, although she half suspected that Mr. George did not like her very well.
Mr. George asked her how she liked Holland, so far as she had seen it.
"Not much," said she. "The towns are not pretty. The streets are all full of canals, and there is nothing to be seen but boats and ships. And what ugly wooden shoes they wear. Did you ever see any thing so ugly in all your life?"
"They look pretty big and clumsy," said Mr. George, "I must admit; but it amuses me to see them."
"At the Hague I expect to find something worth seeing," continued Mrs. Parkman. "That's where the king and all the great people live, and all the foreign ambassadors. If William had only got letters of introduction to some of them! He might have got them just as well as not. Our minister at London would have given him some if he had asked for them. But he said he did not like to ask for them."
"Strange!" said Mr. George.
"Yes," rejoined Mrs. Parkman, "I think it is not only strange, but foolish. I want to go to some of the parties at the Hague, but we can't stop. William says we can only give one day to the Hague."
"O, you can do it up quite well in one day," said Mr. George.
"If you would only go with us and show us how to do it," said Mrs. Parkman.
"Yes," said Mr. Parkman. "Do, George. Go with us. Join us for one day. I'll put the whole party entirely under your command, and you shall have every thing your own way."
Mr. George did not know what to reply to this proposition. At last he said that he would go and find Rollo, and consult him on the subject, and if Rollo approved of it they would consent to the arrangement.
Mrs. Parkman laughed at hearing this. "Why," said she, "is it possible that you are under that boy's direction?"
"Not exactly that," said Mr. George. "But then he is my travelling companion, and it is not right for one person, in such a case, to make any great change in the plan without at least first hearing what the other has to say about it."
"That's very true," replied Mrs. Parkman. "Do you hear that, William? You must remember that when you are going to change the plans without asking my consent."
Mrs. Parkman said this in a good-natured way, as if she meant it in joke. It was one of those cases where people say what they wish to have considered as meant in a joke, but to be taken in earnest.
Mr. George went out to look for Rollo. He found him lying on the grass by the side of a small canal which flowed through the grounds, and reaching down to the water to gather some curious little plants that were growing upon it. Mr. George informed him that Mr. and Mrs. Parkman were at the station, and that they had proposed that he himself and Rollo should join their party in seeing the Hague.
"And I suppose you don't want to do it," said Rollo.
"Why, yes," said Mr. George, "I've taken a notion to accept the proposal if you like it. We'll then do the Hague in style, and I shall get back into Mrs. Parkman's good graces. Then we will bid them good by, and after that you and I will travel on in our own way."
"Well," said Rollo, "I agree to it."
Mr. George accordingly went back into the station, and told Mr. and Mrs. Parkman that he and Rollo would accept their invitation, and join with them in seeing what there was in the Hague.
"And then, after that," said Mr. George, "we shall come back to Delft, while you go on to Amsterdam."
"I wish you would go on with us," said Mr. Parkman.
"We can't do that very well," said Mr. George. "We want to try a Dutch canal once, and a good place to try it is in going from the Hague to Delft. It is only about four or five miles. We are going there by the canal boat, and then coming back on foot."
Mr. George had taken care in planning the course which he and Rollo were to pursue after leaving the Hague, to contrive an expedition which he was very sure Mrs. Parkman would not wish to join in.
"O, Mr. George!" she exclaimed, "what pleasure can there be in going on a canal?"
"Why, the canal boats are so funny!" said Rollo. "And then we see such curious little places all along the banks of them, and we meet so many boats, carrying all sorts of things."
"I don't think it would be very agreeable for a lady," said Mr. George; "but Rollo and I thought we should like to try it."
Just at this moment the door leading to the platform opened, and a man dressed in a sort of uniform, denoting that he was an officer of the railroad, called out in Dutch that the train was coming. The ladies and gentlemen that were assembled in the waiting room immediately took up their bags and bundles, and went out upon the platform. As they went out, Mr. George, in passing the man in uniform, slipped a piece of money into his hand, and said to him in an under tone, first in French and then in English,—
"A good seat by a window for this lady."
The officer received the money, made a bow of assent, and immediately seemed to take the whole party under his charge. When the train arrived, and had stopped before the place, there was a great crowd among the new passengers to get in and procure seats. The officer beckoned to Mr. George to follow him, but Mrs. Parkman seemed disposed to go another way. She was looking eagerly about here and there among the carriages, as if the responsibility of finding seats for the party devolved upon her.
"What shall we do?" said she. "The cars are all full."
"Leave it to me," said Mr. George to her in an under tone. "Leave it entirely to me. You'll see presently."
The officer, finding the carriages generally full, said to Mr. George, in French, "Wait a moment, sir." So Mr. George said to the rest of the party—
"We will all stand quietly here. He'll come to us presently."
"Yes," said Mrs. Parkman, "when all the seats are taken. We shan't get seats at all, William."
"You'll see," said Mr. George.
In a moment more the officer came to the party, and bowing respectfully to Mrs. Parkman, he said,
He took out a key from his pocket, and unlocked the door of a carriage which had not before been opened, and standing aside, he bowed to let Mrs. Parkman pass.
Mrs. Parkman was delighted. There was nobody in the carriage, and so she had her choice of the seats. She chose one next the window on the farther side. Her husband took the seat opposite to her.
"Ah!" said she, with a tone of great satisfaction, "how nice this is! And what a gentlemanly conductor! I never had the conductor treat me so politely in my life."
Mrs. Parkman was put in excellent humor by this incident, and she said, towards the end of the journey, that she should have had a delightful ride if the country had not been so flat and uninteresting. To Mr. George and Rollo, who sat at the other window, it appeared extremely interesting, there was so much that was curious and novel to be seen. The immense green fields, with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep feeding every where, and separated from each other by straight and narrow canals instead of fences; the boats passing to and fro, loaded with produce; the little bridges built over these canals here and there, for the foot paths, with the gates across them to keep the cattle from going over; the long road ways raised upon dikes, and bordered by quadruple rows of ancient and venerable trees, stretching to a boundless distance across the plains; and now and then a wide canal, with large boats or vessels passing to and fro,—these and a multitude of other such sights, to be seen in no other country in the world, occupied their attention all the time, and kept them constantly amused.
At length the train arrived at the station for the Hague, and the whole party descended from the carriage.
"Now, William," said Mr. George, "give me the ticket for your trunk, and you yourself take Mrs. Parkman into the waiting room and wait till I come."
"No," said Mr. Parkman, "I cannot let you take that trouble."
"Certainly," said Mr. George. "You said that I should have the entire command. Give me the ticket."
So Mr. Parkman gave him the ticket, and Mr. George went out. Rollo remained with Mr. and Mrs. Parkman. In a few minutes Mr. George returned, and said that the carriage was ready. They all went to the door, and there they found a carriage waiting, with Mr. and Mrs. Parkman's trunk upon the top of it. A man was holding the door open for the party to get in. As soon as they had all entered, Mr. George put a few coppers into the hand of the man at the door, and said to him,
[Footnote 4: In French, Hotel Belle Vue; but Mr. George gave it the English pronunciation, because the pronunciation of words in Holland is much more like the English than like the French.]
"HOTEL BELVIEW!" shouted the man to the coachman. On hearing this command the coachman drove on.
The road that led into the town lay along the banks of a canal, and after going about half a mile in this direction, the horses turned and went over a bridge. They were now in the heart of the town, but the party could not see much, for the night was coming on and the sky was cloudy. It was cold, too, and Mrs. Parkman wished to have the windows closed. The carriage went along a narrow street, crossing bridges occasionally, until at length it came to a region of palaces, and parks, and grounds beautifully ornamented. Finally it stopped before a large and very handsome hotel. The hotel stood in a street which had large and beautiful houses and gardens on one side, and an open park, with deer feeding on the borders of a canal, on the other.
Two or three very nicely dressed servants came out when the carriage stopped, and opened the door of it in a very assiduous and deferential manner.
"Wait here in the carriage," said Mr. George, "till I come."
So saying, he himself descended from the carriage, and went into the house, followed by two of the waiters that had come to the door.
In about two minutes he came out again.
"Yes," said he to Mrs. Parkman, "I think you will like the rooms."
So saying, he helped Mrs. Parkman out of the carriage, and gave her his arm to conduct her into the house. At the same time he said to one of the waiters,—
"See that every thing is taken out of the carriage, and pay the coachman."
"Very well, sir," said the waiter.
Mr. George led Mrs. Parkman up a broad and handsome staircase. He was preceded by one waiter and followed by two others. These waiters had taken every thing from the hands of the party, especially from Mrs. Parkman, so that they were loaded with bags, cloaks, and umbrellas, while the travellers themselves had nothing to carry.
At the head of the staircase the waiter, who was in advance, opened a door which led to a large drawing room or parlor, which was very handsomely decorated and furnished. The windows were large, and they looked out upon a handsome garden, though it was now too dark to see it very distinctly.
As Mrs. Parkman turned round again, after trying to look out at the window, she saw a second waiter coming into the room, bringing with him two tall wax candles in silver candlesticks. The candles had just been lighted. The waiter placed them on the table, and then retired.
"And now," said Mr. George to the other waiter, "we want a good fire made here, and then let us have dinner as soon as you can."
"Very well, sir," replied the waiter; and so saying he bowed respectfully and retired.
A neatly-dressed young woman, in a very picturesque and pretty cap, had come into the room with the party, and while Mr. George had been ordering the fire and the dinner, she had shown Mrs. Parkman to her bedroom, which was a beautiful and richly furnished room with two single beds in it, opening out of the parlor. On the other side of the parlor was another bedroom, also with two beds in it, for Mr. George and Rollo.
[Footnote 5: Almost all the bedrooms in the hotels on the continent of Europe are furnished thus with two single beds, instead of one double one. It is the custom for every body to sleep alone.]
Mr. and Mrs. Parkman remained in their room for a time, and when they came out they found the table set for dinner, and a very pleasant fire burning in the grate.
"Mr. George," said she, "I wish we had you to make arrangements for us all the time."
"It would be a very pleasant duty," said Mr. George. "You are so easily satisfied."
Mrs. Parkman seemed much pleased with this compliment. She did not for a moment doubt that she fully deserved it.
About eight o'clock that evening, Mr. George asked Mrs. Parkman at what time she would like to have breakfast the next morning.
"At any time you please," said she; "that is, if it is not too early."
"How would half past nine do?" asked Mr. George.
"I think that will do very well," said Mrs. Parkman.
"We will say ten, if you prefer," said Mr. George.
"O, no," said she, "half past nine will do very well."
So Mr. George rang the bell, and when the waiter came, he ordered a sumptuous breakfast, consisting of beefsteaks, hot rolls, coffee, omelet, and every thing else that he could think of that was good, and directed the waiter to have it ready at half past nine.
"I shall also want a carriage and a pair of horses to-morrow," continued Mr. George, "and a commissioner."
"Very well, sir," said the waiter; "and what time shall you wish for the carriage?"
"What time, Mrs. Parkman?" repeated Mr. George, turning to the lady. "Shall you be ready by half past ten to go out and see the town?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Parkman, "that will be a very good time."
"Very well, sir," said the waiter; and he bowed and retired.
The next morning, when the different members of the party came out into the breakfast room, they found the table set for breakfast. At half past nine all were ready except Mrs. Parkman. She sent word by her husband that she would come out in a few minutes.
"There is no hurry," said Mr. George. "It will be time enough to have breakfast when she comes."
In about fifteen minutes she came. Mr. George asked her very politely how she had spent the night; and after she had sat a few minutes talking by the fire, he said that they would have breakfast whenever she wished.
"Yes," said she, "I am ready any time. Indeed, I was afraid that I should be late, and keep you waiting. I am very glad that I am in season."
So Mr. George rang the bell; when the waiter came, he ordered breakfast to be brought up.
While the party were at breakfast, a very nicely-dressed waiter, with a white napkin over his arm, stood behind Mrs. Parkman's chair, and evinced a great deal of alertness and alacrity in offering her every thing that she required. When the breakfast was nearly finished, Mr. George turned to him and said,—
"Is the commissioner ready, John, who is to go with us to-day?"
"Yes, sir," said the waiter.
"I wish you to go down and send him up," said Mr. George.
So the waiter went down stairs to find the commissioner, and while he was gone Mr. George took out a pencil and paper from his pocket.
"I am going to ask him," said Mr. George to Mrs. Parkman, "what there is to be seen here, and to make a list of the places; and then we will go and see them all, or you can make a selection, just as you please."
"Very well," said Mrs. Parkman. "I should like that."
Accordingly, when the commissioner came in, Mr. George asked him to name, in succession, the various objects of interest usually visited by travellers coming to the Hague; and as he named them, Mr. George questioned him respecting them, so as to enable Mrs. Parkman to obtain a somewhat definite idea of what they were. The commissioner enumerated a variety of places to be seen, such as the public museum of painting, several private museums, the old palace, the new palace, two or three churches, the town hall, and various other sights which tourists, arriving at the Hague, usually like to view. Mr. George made a list of all these, and opposite to each he marked the time which the commissioner said would be required to see it well. After completing this list, he said,—
"And there is a great watering place on the sea shore, not far from this, I believe."
"Yes, sir," said the commissioner, "about three miles."
"Is it a pleasant ride there?" asked Mr. George.
"Yes, sir," replied the commissioner. "It is a very pleasant ride. You can go one way and return another. It is a very fashionable place. The queen and the princesses go there every summer."
"Very well; it takes about two hours and a half, I suppose, to go there and return," said Mr. George.
"Yes, sir," said the commissioner.
"Very well," said Mr. George. "Have the carriage ready in—— Shall we say half an hour, Mrs. Parkman? Shall you be ready in half an hour?"
Mrs. Parkman said that she should be ready in half an hour, and so Mr. George appointed that time, and then the commissioner went away.
Mr. George added up all the periods of time that the commissioner had said would be required for the several sights, and found that there would be time for them to see the whole, and yet be ready for the afternoon train for Amsterdam, where Mr. and Mrs. Parkman were going next. So Mrs. Parkman concluded not to omit any from the list, but to go and see the whole.
In half an hour the carriage was at the door, and in ten or fifteen minutes afterwards Mrs. Parkman was ready. Just before they went, Mr. George rang the bell again, and called for the bill, requesting the waiter to see that every thing was charged—carriage, servants, commissioner, and all. When it came, Mr. Parkman took out his purse, expecting to pay it himself, but Mr. George took out his purse too.
"The amount," said Mr. George, looking at the footing of the bill, "is forty-five guilders and some cents. Your share is, say twenty-two guilders and a half."
"No, indeed," said Mr. Parkman. "My share is the exact footing of the bill. You have nothing to do with this payment."
"Yes," said Mr. George. "I have just one half to pay for Rollo and me. We are four in all, and Rollo and I are two."
Mr. Parkman seemed extremely unwilling to allow Mr. George to pay any thing at all; but Mr. George insisted upon it, and so the bill was paid by a joint contribution.
All this time the carriage was ready at the door, and the gentlemen, attended by two or three waiters, conducted Mrs. Parkman down to the door. The party then drove, in succession, to the various places which the commissioner had enumerated. There were museums consisting of a great many rooms filled with paintings, and palaces, where they were shown up grand staircases, and through long corridors, and into suites of elegant apartments, and churches, and beautiful parks and gardens, and a bazaar filled with curiosities from China and Japan, and a great many other similar places. Mr. George paid very particular attention to Mrs. Parkman during the whole time, and made every effort to anticipate and comply with her wishes in all respects. In one case, indeed, I think he went too far in this compliance, and the result was to mortify her not a little. It was in one of the museums of paintings. Mrs. Parkman, like other ladies of a similar character to hers, always wanted to go where she could not go, and to see what she could not see. If, when she came into a town, she heard of any place to which, for any reason, it was difficult to obtain admission, that was the very place of all others that she wished most to see; and if, in any museum, or palace, or library that she went into, there were two doors open and one shut, she would neglect the open ones, and make directly to the one that was shut, and ask to know what there was there. I do not know as there was any thing particularly blameworthy in this. On the contrary, such a feeling may be considered, in some respects, a very natural one in a lady. But, nevertheless, when it manifests itself in a decided form, it makes the lady a very uncomfortable and vexatious companion to the gentleman who has her under his care.
In one of the rooms where our party went in the museum of paintings, there was a door near one corner that was shut. All the other doors—those which communicated with the several apartments where the pictures were hung—were open. As soon as Mrs. Parkman came in sight of the closed door, she pointed to it and said,—
"I wonder what there is in that room. I suppose it is something very choice. I wish we could get in."
Mr. Parkman paid, at first, no attention to this request, but continued to look at the pictures around him.
"I wish you would ask some of the attendants," she continued, "whether we cannot go into that room."
"O, no," replied her husband. "If it was any thing that it was intended we should see, the door would be open. The fact that the door is shut is notice enough that, we are not to go in there."
"I'm convinced there are some choice pictures in there," said Mrs. Parkman; "something that they do not show to every body. Mr. George, I wish you would see if you can't find out some way to get in."
"Certainly," said Mr. George, "I will try."
So Mr. George walked along towards one of the attendants, whom he saw in another part of the room,—putting his hand in his pocket as he went, to feel for a piece of money. He put the piece of money into the attendant's hand, and then began to talk with him, asking various indifferent questions about the building; and finally he asked him where that closed door led to.
"O, that is only a closet," said the attendant, "where we keep our brooms and dusters."
"I wish you would just let us look into it," said Mr. George. "Here's half a guilder for you."
The man looked a little surprised, but he took the half guilder, saying,—
"Certainly, if it will afford you any satisfaction."
Mr. George then went back to where he had left the rest of his party, and said to Mrs. Parkman,—
"This man is going to admit us to that room. Follow Him. I will come in a moment."
So Mr. George stopped to look at a large painting on the wall, while Mrs. Parkman, with high anticipations of the pleasure she was to enjoy in seeing what people in general were excluded from, walked in a proud and stately manner to the door, and when the man opened it, saw only a small, dark room, with nothing in it but brooms, dust pans, and lamp fillers. She was exceedingly abashed by this adventure, and for the rest of that day she did not once ask to see any thing that was not voluntarily shown to her.
After visiting all the places of note in the town, the coachman was ordered to drive to the watering place on the sea shore. It was a very pleasant drive of about three miles. Just before reaching the shore of the sea, the road came to a region of sand hills, called dunes, formed by the drifting sands blown in from the beach by the winds. Among these dunes, and close to the sea shore, was an immense hotel, with long wings stretching a hundred feet on each side, and a row of bath vans on the margin of the beach before it. The beach was low and shelving, and it could be traced for miles in either direction along the coast, whitened by the surf that was rolling in from the German Ocean.
After looking at this prospect for a time, and watching to see one or two of the bathing vans drive down into the surf, in order to allow ladies who had got into them to bathe, the party returned to the carriage, and the coachman drove them through the village, which was very quaint and queer, and inhabited by fishermen. The fishing boats were drawn up on the shore in great numbers, very near the houses. Rollo desired very much to go and see these boats and the fishermen, and learn, if he could, what kind of fish they caught in them, and how they caught them. But Mrs. Parkman thought that they had better not stop. They were nothing but common fishing boats, she said.
The carriage returned to the Hague by a different road from the one in which it came. It was a road that led through a beautiful wood, where there were many pleasant walks, with curious looking Dutch women going and coming. As the party approached the town, they passed through a region of parks, and palaces, and splendid mansions of all kinds. Mrs. Parkman was curious to know who lived in each house, and Mr. George contrived to communicate her inquiries to the coachman, by making signs, and by asking questions partly in English and partly in German. But though the coachman understood the questions, Mrs. Parkman could not understand the answers that he gave, for they were Dutch names,—sometimes long and sometimes short; but whether they were long or short, the sounds were so uncouth and strange that Mrs. Parkman looked terribly distressed in trying to make them out.
At length the carriage arrived at the hotel again; and there the porters put on the baggage belonging both to Mr. and Mrs. Parkman, and to Mr. George and Rollo. It then proceeded to the station. Mr. George and Rollo waited there until the train for Amsterdam arrived, and then took leave of Mr. and Mrs. Parkman as they went to their seats in the carriage. Mrs. Parkman shook hands with Mr. George very cordially, and said,—
"We are very much obliged to you, Mr. George, for your company to-day. We have had a very pleasant time. I wish that we could have you to travel with us all the time."
* * * * *
"I think she ought to be obliged to you," said Rollo, as soon as the train had gone.
"Not at all," said Mr. George.
"Not at all?" repeated Rollo. "Why not? You have done a great deal for her to-day."
"No," said Mr. George. "All that I have done has not been for her sake, but for William's. William is an excellent good friend of mine, and I am very sorry that he has not got a more agreeable travelling companion."
One day, when Mr. George and Rollo were at the town of Leyden, it began to rain while they were eating their breakfast.
"Never mind," said Rollo. "We can walk about the town if it does rain."
"Yes," said Mr. George, "we can; but we shall get tired of walking about much sooner if it rains, than if it were pleasant weather. However, I am not very sorry, for I should like to write some letters."
"I've a great mind to write a letter, too," said Rollo. "I'll write to my mother. Don't you think that would be a good plan?"
"Why,—I don't know,"—said Mr. George, speaking in rather a doubtful tone. "It seems to me that it would be hardly worth while."
"Why not?" asked Rollo.
"Why, the postage is considerable," said Mr. George, "and I don't believe the letter would be worth what your father would have to pay for it; that is, if it is such a letter as I suppose you would write."
"Why, what sort of a letter do you suppose I should write?" asked Rollo.
"O, you would do as boys generally do in such cases," replied his uncle. "In the first place you would want to take the biggest sheet that you could find to write the letter upon. Then you would take up as much of the space as possible writing the date, and My dear mother. Then you would go on for a few lines, saying things of no interest to any body, such as telling what day you came to this place, and what day to that. Perhaps you'd say that to-day is a rainy day, and that yesterday was pleasant—just as if your mother, when she gets your letter, would care any thing about knowing what particular days were rainy and what pleasant, in Holland, a week back. Then, after you had got about two thirds down the page, you would stop because you could not think of any thing more to say, and subscribe your name with ever so many scrawl flourishes, and as many affectionate and dutiful phrases as you could get to fill up the space.
"And that would be a letter that your father, like as not, would have to pay one and sixpence Or two shillings sterling for, to the London postman."
Rollo laughed at this description of the probable result of his proposed attempt to write a letter; but he laughed rather faintly, for he well recollected how many times he had written letters in just such a way. He secretly resolved, however, that when they came in from their walk, and Mr. George sat down to his writing, he would write too, and would see whether he could not, for once, produce a letter that should be at least worth the postage.
After they came in from their walk, they asked the landlady to have a fire made in their room; but she said they could not have any fire, for the stoves were not put up. She said it was the custom in Holland not to put the stoves up until October; and so nobody could have a fire in any thing but foot stoves until that time. The foot stoves, she said, would make it very comfortable for them.
So she brought in two foot stoves. They consisted of small, square boxes, with holes bored in the top, and a little fire of peat in an earthen vessel within. Rollo asked Mr. George to give him two sheets of thin note paper, and he established himself at a window that looked out upon a canal. He intended to amuse himself in the intervals of his writing in watching the boats that were passing along the canal.
He took two sheets of note paper instead of one sheet of letter paper, in order that, if he should get tired after filling one of them, he could stop, and so send what he had written, without causing his father to pay postage on any useless paper.
"Then," thought he, "if I do not get tired, I will go on and fill the second sheet, and my mother will have a double small letter. A double small letter will be just as good as a single large one."
This was an excellent plan.
Rollo also took great pains to guard against another fault which boys often fall into in writing their letters; that is, the fault of growing careless about the writing as they go on with the work, by which means a letter is produced which looks very neat and pretty at the beginning, but becomes an ill-looking and almost illegible scrawl at the end.
"I'll begin," said he, "as I think I shall be able to hold out; and I'll hold out to the end just as I begin."
Rollo remained over his letter more than three hours. He would have become exceedingly tired with the work if he had written continuously all this time; but he stopped to rest very often, and to amuse himself with observing what was passing before him in the street and on the canal.
Mr. George was occupied all this time in writing his letter, and each read what he had written to the other that same evening, after dinner. The two letters were as follows:—
MR. GEORGE'S LETTER.
"LEYDEN, HOLLAND, September 27.
"MY DEAR EDWARD:
[Footnote 6: Edward was Mr. George's brother. He was a boy about twelve years old.]
"We have been travelling now for several days in Holland, and it is one of the most curious and amusing countries to travel in that I have ever seen.
"We all know from the books of geography which we study at school, that Holland is a very low country—lower in many places than the ocean; and that the water of the ocean is kept from overflowing it by dikes, which the people built ages ago, along the shores. I always used to suppose that it was only from the sea that people had any danger to fear of inundations; but I find now that it is not so.
"The people have to defend themselves from inundations, not only on the side towards the sea, but also quite as much, if not more, on the side towards the land, from the waters of the River Rhine. The River Rhine rises in Switzerland, and flows through various countries of Europe until it comes to the borders of Holland, and there it spreads out into innumerable branches, and runs every where, all over the country. It would often overflow the country entirely, were it not that the banks are guarded by dikes, like the dikes of the sea. The various branches of the rivers are connected together by canals, which are also higher than the land on each side of them. Thus the whole country is covered with a great network of canals, rivers, and inlets from the sea, with water in them higher than the land. When the tide is low in the sea, the surplus water from these rivers and canals flows off through immense sluices at the mouth of them. When the tide comes up, it is kept from flowing in by immense gates, with which the sluices are closed. They call the tracts of land that lie lower than the channels of water around them, polders. That is rather a queer name. I suppose it is a Dutch name.
"The polders all have drains and canals cut in them. As we ride along in the railway carriages we overlook these polders. They look like immense green fields, extending as far as you can see, with straight canals running through them in every direction, and crossing each other at right angles. These canals, in the bottom of the polders, are about six feet wide. They are wide enough to prevent the cattle from jumping across them, and so they serve for fences to divide the fields from each other. They also serve for roads, for the Dutchmen use boats on their farms to get in their hay and produce, instead of carts.
"The water that collects in these low canals and drains, which run across the polders, cannot flow out into the large canals, which are higher than they are, and so they have to pump it out. They pump it out generally by means of wind mills. So wherever you go, throughout all Holland, you find an immense number of wind mills. These wind mills are very curious indeed. Some of them are immensely large. They look like lighthouses. The large ones are generally built of brick, and some of them are several hundred years old. The sails of the big ones are often fifty feet long, and sometimes eighty feet. This makes a wheel one hundred and sixty feet in diameter. When you stand under one of these mills, and look up, and see these immense sails revolving so high in the air that the lowest point, when the sail comes round, is higher than the tops of the four story houses, the effect is quite sublime.
"With these wind mills they pump the water up from one drain or canal to another, till they get it high enough to run off into the sea. In some places, however, it is very difficult to get the water into the sea even in this way, even at low tides. The River Amstel, for instance, which comes out at Amsterdam, and into which a great many canals and channels are pumped, is so low at its mouth that the sea is never, at the lowest tides, more than a foot and a half below it. At high tides the sea is a great deal above it. The average is about a foot above. Of course it requires a great deal of management to get the waters of the river out, and avoid letting the water of the sea in. They do it by immense sluices, which are generally kept shut, and only opened when the tide is low.
"In the mean time, if it should ever so happen that they could not succeed in letting the water out fast enough, it would, of course, accumulate, and rise in the rivers, and press against the dikes that run along the banks of it, till at last it would break through in some weak place; and then, unless the people could stop the breach, the whole polder on that side would be gradually overflowed. The inundation would extend until it came to some other dike to stop it. The polder that would first be filled would become a lake. The lake would be many miles in extent, perhaps, but the water in it would not usually be very deep—not more than eight or ten feet, perhaps; though in some cases the polders are so low, that an inundation from the rivers and canals around it would make the lake twenty or thirty feet deep.
"Of course, in ancient times, when a portion of the country became thus submerged, it was for the people to consider whether they would abandon it or try to pump all that water out again, by means of the wind mills. They would think that if they pumped it out it would be some years before the land would be good again; for the salt in the water would tend to make it barren. So they would sometimes abandon it, and put all their energy into requisition to strengthen the dikes around it, in order to prevent the inundation from spreading any farther. For water, in Holland, tends to spread and to destroy life and property, just as fire does in other countries. The lakes and rivers, where they are higher than the land, are liable to burst their barriers after heavy rains falling in the country, or great floods coming down the rivers, or high tides rise from the sea, and so run into each other; and the people have continually to contend against this danger, just as in other countries they do against spreading conflagrations.
"In the case of spreading fire, water is the great friend and helper of man; and in the case of these spreading inundations of water, it is wind that he relies upon. The only mode that the Dutch had to pump out the water in former times was the wind mills. When the rains or the tides inundated the land, they called upon the wind to help them lift the water out to where it could flow away again.
"There was a time, two or three hundred years ago, when all the wind mills that the people could make, seem not to have been enough to do the work; and there was one place, in the centre of the country, where the water continued to spread more and more—breaking through as it spread from one polder to another—until, at last, it swallowed up such an extent of country as to form a lake thirty miles in circumference. This lake at last extended very near to the gates of Haarlem, and it was called the Holland Lake. You will find it laid down on all the maps of Holland, except those which have been printed within a few years. The reason why it is not laid down now is, because a few years ago, finding that the wind mills were not strong enough to pump it out, the government concluded to try what virtue there might be in steam. So they first repaired and strengthened the range of dikes that extended round the lake. In fact, they made them double all around, leaving a space between for a canal. They made both the inner and outer of these dikes water-tight; so that the water should neither soak back into the lake again, after it was pumped out, nor ooze out into the polders beyond. The way they made them water-tight was by lining them on both sides with a good thick coating of clay.
"When the dikes enclosing the lake were completed, the engineers set up three very powerful steam engines, and gave to each one ten or twelve enormous pumps to work. These pumping engines were made on such a grand scale that they lifted over sixty tuns of water at every stroke. But yet so large was the lake, and so vast the quantity of water to be drained, that though there were three of the engines working at this rate, and though they were kept at work night and day, it took them a year and a half to lay the ground dry. The work was, however, at last accomplished, and now, what was the bottom of the lake is all converted into pastures and green fields. But they still have to keep the pumps going all the time to lift out the surplus water that falls over the whole space in rain. You may judge that the amount is very large that falls on a district thirty miles round. They calculate that the quantity which they have to pump up now, every year, in order to keep the land from being overflowed again, is over fifty millions of tuns. And that is a quantity larger than you can ever conceive of.
"And yet the piece of ground is so large, that the cost of this pumping makes only about fifty cents for each acre of land, which is very little.
"Besides these great spreading inundations, which Holland has always been subject to from the lakes and rivers in the middle of the country, there has always been a greater danger still to be feared from the ice freshets of the Rhine, and other great rivers coming from the interior of the country. The Rhine, you know, flows from south to north, and often the ice, in the spring, breaks up in the middle of the course of the river, before it gets thawed in Holland. The broken ice, in coming down the stream towards the north, is kept within the banks of the stream where the banks are high; but when it reaches Holland it is not only no longer so confined, but it finds its flow obstructed by the ice which there still remains solid, and so it gets jammed and forms dams, and that makes the water rise very fast. At one time when such a dam was formed, the water rose seven feet in an hour. At such times the pressure becomes so prodigious that the dikes along the bank of the river are burst, and water, sand, gravel, and ice, all pour over together upon the surrounding country, and overwhelm and destroy every thing that comes in its way.
"Some of the inundations caused in Holland by these floods and freshets have been terrible. In ancient times they were worse than they are now; because now the dikes are stronger, and are better guarded. At one inundation that occurred about sixty years ago, eighty thousand persons were drowned. At another, three hundred years earlier, one hundred thousand perished. Think what awful floods there must have been.
"But I cannot write any more in this letter. I have taken up so much space and time in telling you about the inundations and freshets, that I have not time to describe a great many other things which I have seen, that are quite as curious and remarkable as they. But when I get home I can tell you all about them, in the winter evenings, and read to you about them from my journal.
"Your affectionate brother, "GEORGE."
"LEYDEN, Tuesday, September 27.
"MY DEAR MOTHER:
"Uncle George and I are having a very fine time indeed in travelling about Holland; it is such a funny country, on account of their being so many canals. The water is all smooth and still in all the canals, (except when the wind blows,) and so there must be excellent skating every where in the winter.
"I wish it was winter here now, for one day, so that uncle George and I could have some Dutch skating.
"There must be good skating every where here in the winter, for there is water every where, and it is all good water for skating. In the fields, instead of brooks running in crooked ways and tumbling over rocks, there are only long and narrow channels of smooth water, just about wide enough to skate upon, and reaching as far as you can see.
"The people here speak Dutch, and they cannot understand me, and I cannot understand them. And that is not the worst of it; they can't understand that I can't understand them. Sometimes the woman that comes to make my bed tells me something in Dutch, and I tell her that I can't understand. I know the Dutch for 'I can't understand.' Then she says, 'O!' and goes on to tell me over again, only now she tries to speak plainer—as if it could make any difference to me whether she speaks plain or not. I shake my head, and tell her I can't understand any thing. I tell her in French, and in English, and in Dutch. But it does not do any good, for she immediately begins again, and tells me the whole story all over again, trying to speak plainer than ever. I suppose she thinks that any body can understand Dutch, if she only speaks it plain enough to them.
"When I want any thing of them, I always tell them by signs. The other evening, uncle George and I wanted some candles. So I rang the bell, and a woman came. I went to the door of the room, and made believe that I had two candlesticks in my hand, and that I was bringing them in. I made believe put them on the table, and then sat down and opened a book, and pretended that I was reading by the light of them. She understood me immediately. She laughed, and said, 'Ya, ya!' and went off out of the room to get the candles.
"Ya, ya, means yes, yes.
"Another time we wanted a fire. So when the woman came in, I shivered, and made believe that I was very cold, and then I went to the fireplace, and made believe warm myself. Then I pointed to the fireplace, and made a sign for her to go away and bring the fire to put there. But instead of going, she told me something in Dutch, and shook her head; and when I said I could not understand it, she told me over again; and finally she went away, and sent the landlady. The landlady could speak a little English. So she told me that we could not have any fire except in foot stoves, for the fireplace stoves were not put up.
"It is very curious to walk about the streets, and see the boats on the canals, and what the people are carrying back and forth in them. I watch them sometimes from the windows of the hotel, especially when it rains, and we cannot go out. They have every thing in these boats. They use some of them instead of houses; and the man who owns them lives in them with his wife and children, and sometimes with his ducks and chickens.
"I often see the little children playing on the decks of the boat. Once I saw one that had a dog, and he was trying to teach him to cipher on a slate. His mother and the other children were on the boat too.
"The people use their dogs here to draw carts. They have three or four sometimes harnessed in together. The dogs look pretty poor and lean, but they draw like good fellows. You would be surprised to see what great loads they draw. They draw loads of vegetables to market, and then, when the vegetables are sold, they draw the market women home in the empty carts.
"Only they don't mind very well, when they are told which way to go. I saw a boy yesterday riding along in a cart, with a good big dog to draw him, and when he came to a street where he wanted him to turn down, the dog would not turn. The boy hallooed out to him in Dutch a good many times, and finally the boy had to jump down out of the cart, and run and seize him by the collar, and pull him round.
"It is not a great deal that they use dog carts to bring things to market, for generally they bring them in boats. They take almost every thing to and fro along the canals in boats; and it is very curious to stand on a bridge and look down on the boats that pass under, and see how many different kinds of boats there are, and how many different kinds of things they have in them. This morning, I saw one that had the bottom of it divided into three pens for animals. In the first pen were two great cows, lying down on the straw; in the second pen were several sheep; and in the third there were as many as a dozen small pigs, just big enough to be roasted. I suppose it was a farmer bringing in his stock to market.
"Sometimes they row the boats along the canal, and sometimes they push them with setting poles. They have the longest setting poles in some of the boats that I ever saw. There is an iron pike at one end of the pole, and a wooden knob at the other. When they are pushing the boat by means of one of these poles, they run the ironed end of it down to the bottom, and then the man puts his shoulder to the little knob at the other end and pushes. As the boat goes on, he walks along the boat from the bow to the stern, pushing all the way as hard as he can push.
"When they are out of town the men pull the boats along the canals by means of a long cord, which is fastened to a strap over their shoulders. With this strap they walk along on the tow-path of the canal, pulling in this way—so that if the cord should break, I should think they would fall headlong on the ground.
"I saw a man and a woman the other day pulling a double boat, loaded with hay, along a canal. The hay was loaded across from one boat to the other. It made as much as five or six of the largest cart loads of hay that I ever saw. I was surprised to see that a man and a woman could draw so much. They drew it by long lines, and by straps over their shoulders. The woman's line was fastened to one of the boats, and the man's to the other.
"The people travel a great deal in boats in these parts of the country, where there are no railroads. Uncle George and I took a little journey in one, the other day. I wanted to go very much, but uncle George was afraid, he said, that they might take us somewhere where there would be nobody that could talk English, and so we might get into some serious difficulty. But he said that he would go with me a few miles, if I could find a canal boat going to some place that we knew. So I found one going to a town called Delft. We knew that place, because we had come through it, or close by it, by the railway.
"Uncle George said that it was an excellent plan to go there, for then, if we got tired of the canal boat in going, we could come home by a railroad train.
"So we went; and we had a very pleasant time, indeed. I found the canal boat by going to the place where the boats all were, and saying, Delft, Delft, to the people; and then they pointed me to the right boat. So we got in. When the captain came for the fare, I took out a handful of money, and said Delft, and also pointed to uncle George. So he took out enough to pay for uncle George and me to go to Delft. At least I suppose he thought it was enough, though I thought it was very little.
"We had a very pleasant sail to Delft. The banks of the canal are beautiful. They are green and pretty every where, and in some places there were beautiful gardens, and summer houses, and pavilions close upon the shore.
"But now I begin to be tired of writing. I should have been tired a great while ago, only I have stopped to rest pretty often, and to look out the window, and see what is going by on the canal.
"There is a boat coming now with a mast, and I don't see what they are going to do, for there is a bridge here, and it is not a draw bridge. Almost all the bridges are draw bridges, but this one is not. So I don't see how he is going to get by.
"Ah, I see how it is! The mast is on a hinge, so that it can turn down backward, and lie along flat on the deck of the boat. It is going down now.
"Now it is down, and the boat is going under the bridge.
"But good by, mother, for it is time for me to stop.
"Your affectionate and dutiful son, "ROLLO.
"P. S. This is the longest letter that I ever wrote."
AS may well be imagined, the best use to which the green fields of Holland can be put, is the raising of grass to feed cattle; for the wetness of the land, which makes it somewhat unsuitable to be ploughed, causes grass to grow upon it very luxuriantly. Accordingly, as you ride through the country along the great railway lines, you see, every where, herds of cattle and flocks of sheep feeding in the meadows that extend far and wide in every direction.
The cattle are kept partly for the purpose of being fatted and sent to market for beef, and partly for their milk, which the Dutch farmers make cheese of. Dutch cheeses are celebrated in every part of the world.
In the neighborhood of Amsterdam there are a number of dairy villages where cheeses are made, and some of them are almost always visited by travellers. They are great curiosities, in fact, on account of their singular and most extraordinary neatness. Cleanliness is, in all parts of the world, deemed a very essential requisite of a dairy, and the Dutch housewives in the dairy villages of Holland have carried the idea to the extreme. The village which is most commonly visited by strangers who go to Amsterdam, is one called Broek. It lies to the north of Amsterdam, and at a distance of about five or six miles from it.
One day when Mr. George and Rollo arrived in Amsterdam, Mr. George, just at sundown, looked out at the window of the hotel, and said,—
"Rollo, I think it is going to be a superb day to-morrow."
"So do I," said Rollo.
"At least," said Mr. George, "I should think so if I were in America. The wind has all gone down, and the western sky is full of golden clouds shining in roseate splendor."
Mr. George enunciated these high-sounding words in a pompous and theatrical manner, which made Rollo laugh very heartily.
"And, to descend from poetry to plain prose," said Mr. George, "I think we had better take advantage of the fine weather to go to Broek to-morrow."
"Very well," said Rollo, "that plan suits me exactly."
Rollo was always ready for any plan which involved the going away from the place where he, was, to some new place which he had not seen before.
"But how are we going to find the way there?" said Rollo.
"I shall take a commissioner," said Mr. George. "I am going to Saandam, too, where Peter the Great learned ship carpentry."
"I have heard something about that," said Rollo, "but I don't know much about it."
"Why, Peter the Great was emperor of Russia," said Mr. George, "and he wished to introduce ship building into his dominions. So he came to Holland to learn about the construction of ships, in order that he might be better qualified to take the direction of the building of a fleet in Russia. Saandam was the place that he came to. While he was there he lived in a small, wooden house, near the place where the ship building was going on. That house is there now, and almost every body that comes to this part of the country goes to see it."
"How long ago was it that he was there?" asked Rollo.
"It was more than one hundred and fifty years ago," said Mr. George.
"I should not think a wooden house would have lasted so long," said Rollo.
"It would not have lasted so long," replied Mr. George, "if they had not taken special pains to preserve it. They have built a brick house around it and over it, to protect it from the weather, and so it has been preserved. Now I think we had better go to-morrow and see Broek, and also Saandam, and I am going to take a commissioner."
Mr. George had employed a commissioner once before, as the reader will perhaps recollect, namely, at the Hague; and perhaps I ought to stop here a moment to explain more fully what a commissioner is. He is a servant hired by the day to conduct strangers about the town where they reside, and about the environs, if necessary, to show them what there is that is curious and wonderful there. These men are called, sometimes commissioners and sometimes valets de place, and in their way they are very useful.
If a traveller arrives at a hotel in the morning, at any important town in Europe, before he has been in his room fifteen minutes he generally hears a knock at his door, and on bidding the person come in, a well-dressed looking servant man appears and asks,—
"Shall you wish for a commissioner, sir, to-day?"
Or if the gentleman, after remaining in his room a few minutes, takes his wife or his daughter, or whomever he may have travelling with him, and goes out from the door of the hotel, he is pretty sure to be met near the door by one or more of these men, who accost him earnestly, saying,—
"Do you want a commissioner, sir?" Or, "Shall I show you the way, sir?" Or, "Would you like to see the museum, sir?"
When a traveller intends to remain some days in a place, he has generally no occasion for a commissioner; since, in his rambles about the town, he usually finds all the places of interest himself, and in such a case the importunities of the commissioners seeking employment are sometimes annoying to him. But if his time is very short, or if he wishes to make excursions into the neighborhood of a town where he does not understand the language of the people, then such a servant is of very great advantage.
Mr. George thought that his proposed excursion to Broek and Saandam was an occasion on which a commissioner could be very advantageously employed. Accordingly, after he and Rollo had finished their dinner, which they took at a round table near a window in the coffee room, he asked Rollo to ring the bell.
Rollo did so, and a waiter came in.
"Send me in a commissioner, if you please," said Mr. George.
"Very well, sir," said the waiter, with a bow.
The waiter went out, and in a few minutes a well-dressed and very respectable looking young man came in, and advancing towards Mr. George, said,—
"Did you wish to see a commissioner, sir?"
"Yes," said Mr. George. "I want to make some inquiries about going to Broek and to Saandam, to-morrow. I want to know what the best way is to go, and what the expenses will be."
So saying, Mr. George took out a pencil and a piece of paper from his pocket, in order to make a memorandum of what the commissioner should say.
"In the first place," asked Mr. George, "what is your name? I shall want to know what to call you."
"My name is James," said the commissioner.
"Well, now, James," said Mr. George, "I want you to tell me what the best way is to go, and what all the expenses will be. I want to know every thing beforehand."
"Well, sir," said James, "we shall go first by the ferry boat across to the Y, and there we shall take the trekschuyt for a short distance on the canal."
[Footnote 7: The Y is the name of the sheet of water which lies before Amsterdam. It is a sort of harbor.]
"And how much will that cost?" asked Mr. George.
"For the three, forty-five cents," said James.
He meant, of course, Dutch cents. It takes two and a half Dutch cents to make one American cent.
"There," continued James, "we take a carriage."
"And how much will the carriage be?" asked Mr. George.
"To go to Broek and back, and then to Saandam, will be ten guilders."
Mr. George made memoranda of these sums on his paper, as James named them.
"And the tolls," continued James, "will be one guilder and twenty-five cents more."
"And the driver?" asked Mr. George.
In most of the countries of Europe, when you make a bargain for the carriage, the driver's services are not included in it. He expects a fee besides.
"The driver, fifty cents. Half a guilder," said James.
"Is that enough for him?" asked Mr. George.
"Yes, sir," said James, "that's enough."
"We will call it seventy-five cents," said Mr. George. So saying, he wrote seventy-five.
"Then there will be some fees to pay, I suppose," said Mr. George, "both at Broek and at Saandam."
"Yes, sir," said James. "We pay twenty-five cents at the dairy, twenty-five cents at the garden, and twenty-five to the hostler. That makes seventy-five. And the same at Saandam, to see the hut of Peter the Great, and the house. That makes one guilder fifty centimes."
"Is that all?" asked Mr. George.
"There will be forty-five cents for the ferry, coming back," said James.
Mr. George added this sum to the column, and then footed it up. The amount was nearly fifteen guilders.
"We will call it fifteen guilders," said he. "To-morrow I will give you fifteen guilders, and you will pay all expenses. And then what shall I have to pay you for your services?"
"My charge is four guilders for the day," said James.
"Very well," said Mr. George. "And at what time in the morning will it be best to set out?"
"There is a boat at nine o'clock," said James.
"Then we will leave here at half past eight. We will have breakfast, Rollo, at eight. Or perhaps we can have breakfast at Broek. Is there a hotel there, James?"
"Yes, sir," said James. "There is a hotel there."
"Very well. Then we will wait till we get there before we take breakfast, and we will expect you at half past eight. Our room is number eleven."
The arrangement being thus fully made, the commissioner, promising to be punctual, bowed and retired.
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. George, "to-morrow we will have a good time. After I give the commissioner the fifteen guilders, I shall have no further care or responsibility, but shall be taken along over the whole ground as if I were a child under the care of his father."
THE GREAT CANAL.
The commissioner knocked at Mr. George's door at the time appointed. Mr. George and Rollo were both ready. Mr. George counted out the fifteen guilders on the table, and James put them in his pocket. The party then set out.
Mr. George wished to stop by the way to put a letter in the post office, and to pay the postage of it. He desired to do this personally, for he wished to inquire whether the letter would go direct. So James led them by the way of the post office, and conducted Mr. George into the office where foreign letters were received, and the payment of postage taken for them. Here James served as interpreter. Indeed, it is one of the most important duties of a commissioner to serve as an interpreter to his employer, whenever his services are required in this capacity.
When the letter was put in, the party resumed their walk. The commissioner went on before, carrying Mr. George's travelling shawl and the umbrella, and Mr. George and Rollo followed. The way lay along a narrow street, by the side of a canal. There were a thousand curious sights to be seen, both among the boats on the canal and along the road; but Rollo could not stop to examine them, for the commissioner walked pretty fast.
"I wish he would not walk so fast," said Rollo.
"Ah, yes," said Mr. George, "he is right this morning, for we want to get to the pier in time for the boat. But in walking about the town to see it, it would be a great trouble to us."
"To-morrow we will go about by ourselves," said Rollo, "and stop when and where we please."
"We will," said Mr. George.
At last the party came out to what may be called the front of the city, where they could look off upon the harbor. This harbor is a sheet of water called the Y, which has been before referred to. The morning was bright and beautiful, and the water was covered with ships, steamers, barges, boats, and vessels of every form and size, going to and fro. The steamers passed swiftly, but the sailing vessels scarcely moved, so calm and still was the morning air. The sun was shining, and the whole scene presented to Mr. George's and Rollo's view, as they looked out over the water, was extremely brilliant and beautiful.
The commissioner led the way out over a long pier supported by piles, to a sort of landing platform at a distance from the shore. This place was quite large. It had a tavern upon it, and a great many different offices belonging to the different lines of steamers, and piers projecting in different directions for the different boats and steamers to land at. It stood at some distance from the shore, and the whole had the appearance of a little village on an island. It would have been an island indeed, if there had been any land about it; but there was not. It was built wholly on piles.
Here were crowds of people going and coming on this stage, some having just landed from the different steamers that had just arrived, and some about to embark in others that were going away. Small boats were coming, too, over the water, with passengers in them, among whom were many peasant girls, whose foreheads and temples were adorned with a profusion of golden ornaments, such as are worn by the ladies of North Holland. Rollo looked this way and that as he passed along the stage, and he wished for time to stop and examine what he saw; but the commissioner walked rapidly on, and led the way to the ferry boat.
"You will walk on board," said James, "while I get the tickets."
So Mr. George and Rollo went over the plank on board the boat, while James turned to a little office that stood near to get the tickets.
There was a man standing at the end of the plank to collect the tickets as the passengers came on board. Mr. George, as he passed, pointed back to the office where James had gone. The man bowed, and he and Rollo passed on.
"How independent we are!" said Mr. George. "I shall have nothing to do with making any payments all day to-day, and it will seem as if we were travelling free."
The ferry boat was of a very singular construction, and most singular looking people they were who were on board of it. It had a great flat deck, which was of an oval form, and was spreading out very wide at the sides. There were seats here and there in different places, but no awning or shelter of any kind overhead. Rollo was glad of this, for the morning was so fine, and the view on every side was so magnificent, that he was very much pleased to have it so wholly unobstructed.
As soon as the chimes of the city clocks began to strike for nine, the various steamboats began to shoot out in different directions from the piers of the landing, and soon the ferry boat began to move, too. She moved, however, very slowly.
"What a slow and clumsy boat!" said Rollo.
"I'm glad she is slow," replied Mr. George, "for I want to look about. I should be willing to be an hour in going across this ferry."
The prospect on every side was, indeed, very fine. On looking back they could see the buildings of the town extending far and wide for miles, with domes, and towers, and spires, and tops of trees, and masts of ships rising together every where above the tops of the houses. The water of the harbor was covered with ships and steamers passing to and fro—those near glittering in the sun, while the distant ones were half lost in a smoky haze that every where softened and concealed the horizon. Mr. George and Rollo gazed earnestly on this scene, looking now in this direction, and now in that, but not speaking a word.
When they were about half across the Y, James came to Mr. George, and said,—
"This ferry boat connects with a steamer on the canal, which goes to the Helder, and also with various trekschuyts. We shall take a trekschuyt to go for a short distance?—as far as to the place where we shall get a carriage."
"Very well," said Mr. George. "Arrange it as you think best. Then we shall go a short distance on the great canal."
"Yes, sir," said James. "You will like to see a little of the canal."
"I shall, indeed," said Mr. George.
The great canal of which James here spoke is the grandest work of the kind in Holland, and perhaps in the world. If you look at the map you will see that Amsterdam stands somewhat in the interior of the country, and that the only approach to it, by sea, is through a great gulf called the Zuyder Zee. Now, the water in the Zuyder Zee is shallow. There are channels, it is true, that are tolerably deep; but they are very winding and intricate, and they are so surrounded with shoals and sand banks as to make the navigation very difficult, especially for ships of large size.
The people, accordingly, conceived the plan of digging a canal across the country; from Amsterdam to the nearest place where there was deep water on the sea. This was at a point of land called the Helder.
The reason why there was deep water there, was, that that was the outlet for the Zuyder Zee, and the water rushing in there when the tide is rising, and out again when it goes down, keeps the channel deep and clear.
So it was determined to make a canal from the Helder to Amsterdam. But the land was lower, almost all the way, than the sea. This rendered it impossible to construct the canal so as to make it of the same level with the sea, without building up the banks of it to an inconvenient height. Besides, it was just as well to make the canal lower than the sea, and then to build gates at each end of it, to prevent the sea water from coming in.
"Then how were the ships to get in?" asked Rollo, when Mr. George explained this to him.
"Why, there were two ways," replied Mr. George, "by which ships might get in. You see, although the canal is lower than the sea is generally, there is an hour or two every day when the tide goes down, in which the two are about on a level. Accordingly, by opening the gates when the tide is low, a communication would be made by which the vessels could sail in and out."
"But that would be inconvenient, I should think," said Rollo, "not to have the gates open but twice a day."
"Yes," said Mr. George; "and so, to enable them to admit ships at any time, they have built locks at each end."
"Like the locks in a common canal in America?" said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George; "and by means of these locks, ships can be taken in and out at any time."
"I don't exactly understand how they do it," said Rollo.
"Let me explain it to you, then," replied Mr. George. "Listen attentively, and picture to your mind precisely what I describe, and see if you understand.
"First," continued Mr. George, "imagine that you are down by the sea shore, where the canal ends. The water in the sea is higher than it is in the canal, and there are two sets of gates, at a little distance from each other, near the mouth of the canal, which keep the water of the sea from flowing in."
"Yes," said Rollo, "I can picture that to my mind. But how far apart are the two sets of gates?"
"A little farther apart," said Mr. George, "than the length of the longest ship. Of course one pair of these locks is towards the sea, and the other towards the canal. I will call the first the sea gates, and the other the canal gates. The space between the two gates is called the lock."
"Yes," said Rollo, "I understand all that."
"Now," continued Mr. George, "a ship comes in, we will suppose, and is to be taken into the canal. First, the men open the sea gates. The sea can now flow into the lock, but it cannot get into the canal, because the canal gates are still shut."
"Yes," said Rollo.
"And, now you see," continued Mr. George, "that as the water in the lock is high, and on a level with the sea, the ship can sail into the lock."
"But it can't get down into the canal," said Rollo.
"No," replied Mr. George, "not yet. But now the men shut the sea gates, and thus shut the ship in. They then open the passages through the canal gates, and this lets the water out of the lock until it subsides to the level of that in the canal, and the ship settles down with it. But the sea cannot come in, for the sea gates, that are now behind the ship, are shut. When the water in the lock has gone down to the canal level, then they can open the gates, and the ship can sail along out of the lock into the canal.
"Thus they lock the ship down into the canal at one end, and when she has passed through the canal, they lock her up into the Y again at the other."
"Yes," said Rollo. "I understand it now. And shall we go into the canal through the locks in this way?"
"I don't know," said Mr. George. "I'll ask James."
So Mr. George beckoned to James to come to him, and asked him whether they should enter the canal through the lock.
"No," said James. "The ferry boat does not go into the canal at all. We go into a little dock or harbor by the side of it, and the passengers walk over the dike, and down to the canal, where they find the boats ready for them that they are to take."
"Why don't they pass from those boats through the locks, and let them come across to Amsterdam?" asked Rollo, "and then we might get on board them there, and so not have to change from one boat to the other."
"Because it takes some time, and some trouble," said James, "to pass any thing through the locks, and it is not worth while to do it, except in case of large and valuable ships. So the boats and steamers that ply along the canal are left inside the lock, and the passengers are taken to and from them by the ferry boat."
The ferry boat, by this time, began to approach the shore. It entered into a little opening in the land, which formed a sort of harbor. Here the passengers were landed at a wharf, which was surrounded by small buildings. Thence they ascended what was evidently a large dike. When they reached the top of the dike they saw below them, on the other side of it, the beginning of the canal. It lay several feet lower than the water of the harbor in which they had left the ferry boat; but it was quite wide, and it was bordered by broad dikes with avenues of trees upon them, on either side. On one side, under the trees, was a tow path, and on the other a broad and smoothly gravelled road.
Two boats were lying moored to the wharves at the side of the canal. One was a long, sharp, and narrow steamer, which was going through the whole length of the canal to the Helder. The other was a trekschuyt, or canal boat, which was going only a short way, to the nearest village.
The passengers that came in the ferry boat divided into two parties, as they came down the dike. One party went to the steamer, the other to the trekschuyt. Mr. George and Rollo, of course, went with the last.
The trekschuyt was a curious sort of boat. It was built like the Noah's ark made for children to play with; that is, it was a broad boat, with a house in it. The roof of the house, which formed the deck of the boat, was flat, and there were seats along the sides of it, and a railing behind them on the margin, to keep people from falling off. At each end of the house were two flights of steps, leading up to the roof or deck, and below them another flight, which led down to the little cabins below.