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Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates(Chapter48)

2006-09-08 21:40

  Chapter 48. Conclusion

  Our story is nearly told. Time passes in Holland just as surely and steadily as here. In that respect no country is odd.

  To the Brinker family it has brought great changes. Hans has spent the years faithfully and profitably, conquering obstacles as they arose and pursuing one object with all the energy of his nature. If often the way has been rugged, his resolution has never failed. Sometimes he echoes, with his good friend, the words said long ago in that little cottage near Broek: "Surgery is an ugly business," but always in his heart of hearts lingers the echo of those truer words: "It is great and noble! It awakes a reverence for God's work!"

  Were you in Amsterdam today, you might see the famous Dr. Brinker riding in his grand coach to visit his patients, or, it might be, you would see him skating with his own boys and girls upon the frozen canal. For Annie Bouman, the beautiful, frank-hearted peasant girl, you would inquire in vain; but Annie Brinker, the vrouw of the great physician, is very like her——only, as Hans says, she is even lovelier, wiser, more like a fairy godmother than ever.

  Peter van Holp, also, is a married man. I could have told you before that he and Hilda would join hands and glide through life together, just as years ago they skimmed side by side over the frozen sunlit river.

  At one time, I came near hinting that Katrinka and Carl would join hands. It is fortunate that the report was not started, for Katrinka changed her mind and is single to this day. The lady is not quite so merry as formerly, and, I grieve to say, some of the tinkling bells are out of tune. But she is the life of her social circle, still. I wish she would be in earnest, just for a little while, but no; it is not in her nature. Her cares and sorrows do nothing more than disturb the tinkling; they never waken any deeper music.

  Rychie's soul has been stirred to its depths during these long years. Her history would tell how seed carelessly sown is sometimes reaped in anguish and how a golden harvest may follow a painful planting. If I mistake not, you may be able to read the written record before long; that is, if you are familiar with the Dutch language. In the witty but earnest author whose words are welcomed to this day in thousands of Holland homes, few could recognize the haughty, flippant Rychie who scoffed at little Gretel.

  Lambert van Mounen and Ludwig van Holp are good Christian men and, what is more easily to be seen at a glance, thriving citizens. Both are dwellers in Amsterdam, but one clings to the old city of that name and the other is a pilgrim to the new. Van Mounen's present home is not far from Central Park, and he says if the New Yorkers do their duty the park will in time equal his beautiful Bosch, near The Hague. He often thinks of the Katrinka of his boyhood, but he is glad now that Katrinka, the woman, sent him away, though it seemed at the time his darkest hour. Ben's sister Jenny has made him very happy, happier than he could have been with anyone else in the wide world.

  Carl Schummel has had a hard life. His father met with reverses in business, and as Carl had not many warm friends, and, above all, was not sustained by noble principles, he has been tossed about by fortune's battledore until his gayest feathers are nearly all knocked off. He is a bookkeeper in the thriving Amsterdam house of Boekman and Schimmelpenninck. Voostenwalbert, the junior partner, treats him kindly; and he, in turn, is very respectful to the "monkey with a long name for a tail."

  Of all our group of Holland friends, Jacob Poot is the only one who has passed away. Good-natured, true-hearted, and unselfish to the last, he is mourned now as heartily as he was loved and laughed at while on earth. He grew to be very thin before he died, thinner than Benjamin Dobbs, who is now portliest among the portly.

  Raff Brinker and his vrouw have been living comfortably in Amsterdam for many years——a faithful, happy pair, as simple and straightforward in their good fortune as they were patient and trustful in darker days. They have a zomerhuis near the old cottage and thither they often repair with their children and grandchildren on the pleasant summer afternoons when the pond lilies rear their queenly heads above the water.

  The story of Hans Brinker would be but half told if we did not leave him with Gretel standing near. Dear, quick , patient little Gretel! What is she now? Ask old Dr. Boekman, he will declare that she is the finest singer, the loveliest woman in Amsterdam. Ask Hans and Annie, they will assure you that she is the dearest sister ever known. Ask her husband, he will tell you that she is the brightest, sweetest little wife in Holland. Ask Dame Brinker and Raff, their eyes will glisten with joyous tears. Ask the poor and the air will be filled with blessings.

  But, lest you forget a tiny form trembling and sobbing on the mound before the Brinker cottage, ask the Van Glecks; they will never weary of telling of the darling little girl who won the silver skates.

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