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Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates(Chapter39)

2006-09-08 21:33

  Chapter 39. Glimpses

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

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

  She knows I am strong and fearless, thought Janzoon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  How a smile brightens a girl's face!

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

  How a smile brightens a boy's face!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  "Hans, come back!" she called.

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

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

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

  "Not Janzoon Kolp?" asked Hans, flushing.

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

  "But you KNOW him," persisted Hans.

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

  "Hate him! YOU hate anybody, Annie?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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