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Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates(Chapter21)

2006-09-08 21:27

  Chapter 21. Mynheer Kleef and His Bill of Fare

  The boys soon found an unpretending establishment near the Breedstraat (Broad Street) with a funnily painted lion over the door. This was the Rood Leeuw or Red Lion, kept by one Huygens Kleef, a stout Dutchman with short legs and a very long pipe.

  By this time they were in a ravenous condition. The tiffin, taken at Haarlem, had served only to give them an appetite, and this had been heightened by their exercise and swift sail upon the canal.

  "Come, mine host! Give us what you can!" cried Peter rather pompously.

  "I can give you anything——everything," answered Mynheer Kleef, performing a difficult bow.

  "Well, give us sausage and pudding."

  "Ah, mynheer, the sausage is all gone. There is no pudding."

  "Salmagundi, then, and plenty of it."

  "That is out also, young master."

  "Eggs, and be quick."

  "Winter eggs are VERY poor eating," answered the innkeeper, puckering his lips and lifting his eyebrows.

  "No eggs? Well——caviar."

  The Dutchman raised his fat hands:

  "Caviar! That is made of gold! Who has caviar to sell?"

  Peter had sometimes eaten it at home; he knew that it was made of the roes of the sturgeon and certain other large fish, but he had no idea of its cost.

  "Well, mine host, what have you?"

  "What have I? Everything. I have rye bread, sauerkraut, potato salad, and the fattest herring in Leyden."

  "What do you say, boys?" asked the captain. "Will that do?"

  "Yes," cried the famished youths, "if he'll only be quick."

  Mynheer moved off like one walking in his sleep, but soon opened his eyes wide at the miraculous manner in which his herring were made to disappear. Next came, or rather went, potato salad, rye bread, and coffee——then Utrecht water flavored with orange, and, finally, slices of dry gingerbread. This last delicacy was not on the regular bill of fare, but Mynheer Kleef, driven to extremes, solemnly produced it from his own private stores and gave only a placid blink when his voracious young travelers started up, declaring they had eaten enough.

  "I should think so!" he exclaimed internally, but his smooth face gave no sign.

  Softly rubbing his hands, he asked, "Will your worships have beds?"

  "'Will your worships have beds?'" mocked Carl. "What do you mean? Do we look sleepy?"

  "Not at all, master. But I would cause them to be warmed and aired. None sleep under damp sheets at the Red Lion."

  "Ah, I understand. Shall we come back here to sleep, captain?"

  Peter was accustomed to finer lodgings, but this was a frolic.

  "Why not?" he replied. "We can fare excellently here."

  "Your worship speaks only the truth," said mynheer with great deference.

  "How fine to be called 'your worship,'" laughed Ludwig aside to Lambert, while Peter replied, "Well, mine host, you may get the rooms ready by nine."

  "I have one beautiful chamber, with three beds, that will hold all of your worships," said Mynheer Kleef coaxingly.

  "That will do."

  "Whew!" whistled Carl when they reached the street.

  Ludwig startled. "What now?"

  "Nothing, only Mynheer Kleef of the Red Lion little thinks how we shall make things spin in that same room tonight. We'll set the bolsters flying!"

  "Order!" cried the captain. "Now, boys, I must seek this great Dr. Boekman before I sleep. If he is in Leyden it will be no great task to find him, for he always puts up at the Golden Eagle when he comes here. I wonder that you did not all go to bed at once. Still, as you are awake, what say you to walking with Ben up by the Museum or the Stadhuis?"

  "Agreed," said Ludwig and Lambert, but Jacob preferred to go with Peter. In vain Ben tried to persuade him to remain at the inn and rest. He declared that he never felt "petter," and wished of all things to take a look at the city, for it was his first "stop mit Leyden."

  "Oh, it will not harm him," said Lambert. "How long the day has been——and what glorious sport we have had! It hardly seems possible that we left Broek only this morning."

  Jacob yawned.

  "I have enjoyed it well," he said, "but it seems to me at least a week since we started."

  Carl laughed and muttered something about "twenty naps."

  "Here we are at the corner. Remember, we all meet at the Red Lion at eight," said the captain as he and Jacob walked away.

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