Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of The Dutch Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


"We'll see what the Saint thinks about that," said the mother.
"Now get dressed; for Grandfather and Grandmother will be here
for dinner, and we're going to have roast goose, and there's a
great deal to do."

Kit and Kat set their beautiful cakes up where they could see
them while they dressed.

"I do wish every day were St. Nicholas Day," said Kit.

"Or the day before," said Kat. "That was such a nice day!"

"All the days are nice days, I think," said Kit.

"I don't think the dog-cart day was so very nice," said Kat. "We
tore our best clothes, and they'll never, never be so nice again.
That was because you didn't mind!"

"Well," said Kit, "I minded as much as I could. How can I mind
two things at one time? You know how well I can think! You know
how I thought about Vrouw Van der Kloot's cakes. But I can't
think how I can mind twice at one time."

"I don't suppose you can," said Kat. "But anyway, I'm sorry about
my dress."

Just then Vrouw Vedder called them to come and eat their
breakfast.

Father and Mother Vedder sat down at the little round table and
bowed their heads. Kit and Kat stood up. Father Vedder said
grace; and then they ate their salt herring and drank their
coffee; and Kit and Kat had coffee too, because it was St.
Nicholas morning.

It was snowing when, after breakfast, Kit went out with his
father to feed the chickens and the pigs, and to see that the cow
had something very good that she liked to eat. When they had done
that, they called Kat; and she helped throw out some grain on the
white snow, so the birds could have a feast, too.

It snowed all day. Kit and Kat both helped their mother get the
dinner. They got the cabbage and the onions and the potatoes
ready; and when the goose was hung upon the fire to roast, they
watched it and kept it spinning around on the spit, so it would
brown evenly.

By and by the kitchen was all in order, and you can't think how
clean and homelike it looked! The brasses all around the room had
little flames dancing in them, because they were so bright and
shiny. Everything was ready for the St. Nicholas feast. The goose
was nearly roasted, and there was such a good smell of it in the
air!

After a while there was a great stamping of feet at the door; and
Vrouw Vedder ran with the broom to brush the snow off Grandfather
and Grandmother, who had skated all the way from town, on the
canal. When they were warmed and dried, and all their wraps put
away, Grandfather and Grandmother Winkle looked around the
pleasant kitchen; and Grandmother said to Grandfather,

"Our Neltje is certainly a good house-wife." Neltje was Vrouw
Vedder. And Grandfather said,

"There's only one better one, my dear." He meant Grandmother
Winkle.

By and by they all sat down to dinner, and I can't begin to tell
you how good it was! It makes one hungry just to think of it.
They had roast goose and onions and turnips and cabbage. They had
bread and butter, and cheese, and sweet cakes.

"Everything except the flour in the bread, we raised ourselves,"
said Vrouw Vedder. "The hens gave us the eggs; and the cow, the
butter. The Twins helped Father and me to take care of the
chickens, and to milk the cow, and to make the butter; so it is
our very own St. Nicholas feast that we are eating."

"A farmer's life is the best life there is," said Father Vedder.

They sat a long time at the table; and Grandfather told stories
about when he was a boy; and Father Vedder told how Kit and Kat
learned to skate; and Kit and Kat told how they saw St. Nicholas
riding on a white horse, and how he sent them the very things
they wanted; and they all enjoyed themselves very much.

After dinner, Grandmother Winkle sat down in the chimney corner
and called Kit and Kat.

"Come here," she said, "and I'll tell you some stories about St.
Nicholas."

The Twins brought two little stools and sat beside her, one on
each side. She took out her knitting; and as the needles clicked
in her fingers, she told this story:

"Once upon a time, many years ago, three little brothers went out
one day to the woods to gather fagots. They were just about as
big as you are, Kit and Kat."

"Were they all three, twins?" asked Kat.

"The story doesn't tell about that," said Grandmother Winkle;
"but maybe they were. At any rate, they all got lost in the woods
and wandered ever so far, trying to find their way home. But
instead of finding their way home, they just got more and more
lost all the time. They were very tired and hungry; but, as they
were brave boys, not one of them cried."

"It's lucky that none of those twins were girls," said Kit.

"I've even heard of boy twins that cried, when dog carts ran
away, or something of that kind happened," said Grandmother
Winkle. "But you shouldn't interrupt; it's not polite."

"Oh!" said Kit very meekly.

"Well, as I was saying, they were very lost indeed. Night was
coming on; and they were just thinking that they must lie down on
the ground to sleep, when one of them saw a light shining through
the leaves. He pointed it out to the others; and they walked
along toward it, stumbling over roots and stones as they went,
for it was now quite dark.

"As they came nearer, they saw that the light came from the
window of a poor little hut on the edge of a clearing.

"They went to the door and knocked. The door was opened by a
dirty old woman, who lived in the but with her husband, who was a
farmer.

"The boys told the old woman that they had lost their way, and
asked her if she could give them a place to sleep. She spoke to
her husband, who sat crouched over a little fire in the corner;
and he told her to give them a bed in the loft.

"The three boys climbed the little ladder into the loft and lay
down on the hay. They were so tired that they fell asleep at
once. The old man and his wife whispered about them over their
bit of fire.

"'They are fine-looking boys; and well dressed,' said the old
woman.

"'Yes,' said the old man, 'and I have no doubt they have plenty
of money about them.'

"'Do you really think so?' said the wife.

"'I think I'll find out,' said the wicked farmer. So he climbed
up to the loft and killed the three boys. Then he looked in their
pockets for money; but there was no money there.

"He was very angry. And he was very much afraid, wicked people
are always afraid."

"Are all afraid people wicked?" asked Kat. She wished very much
that she were brave.

"M-m-m, well, not always," said Grandmother Winkle.

"The wicked farmer was so afraid that he wanted to put the bodies
of the three boys where no one would find them. So he carried
them down cellar and put them into the pickle tub with his pork."

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" screamed Kat, and she put her hands over her ears.
Even Kit's eyes were very round and big. But Grandmother said,

"Now, don't you be scared until I get to the end of the story.
Didn't I tell you it was all about St. Nicholas? You wait and see
what happened!

"That very same day the wicked farmer went to market with some
vegetables to sell. As he was sitting in the market, St. Nicholas
appeared, before him. He had on his mitre and his long robes,
just as you see him in Kit's cake.

"Have you any pork to sell?" St. Nicholas asked the man.

"No," said the farmer.

"What of the three young pigs in your brine tub in the cellar?"
said St. Nicholas.

The farmer saw that his wicked deed was found out, as all wicked
deeds are, sooner or later. He fell on his knees and begged the
good Saint to forgive him.

St. Nicholas said, "Show me the way to your house."

The farmer left his vegetables unsold in the market and went
home at once, the Saint following all the way.

When they reached the hut, St. Nicholas went to the pickled-pork
tub in the cellar. He waved his staff over the tub, and out
jumped the three boys, hearty and well! Then the good Saint took
them through the woods and left them in sight of their own home.

"Oh, what a good St. Nicholas!" said Kit and Kat. "Tell us
another."

"Well," said Grandmother Winkle, once upon another time there was
a very mean man, who had a great deal of money, that often
happens. He had, also, three beautiful daughters, that sometimes
happens too.

One day he lost all his money. Now, he cared more for money than
for anything else in the world more, even, than for his three
beautiful daughters. So he made up his mind to sell them!

St. Nicholas knew of this wicked plan; so that very night he
went to the man's house and dropped some money through a broken
window.

"Why did he do that?" asked Kat.

Because the man was selling his daughters to get money. If he
had money enough, he wouldn't sell them.

The first night St. Nicholas dropped enough money to pay for the
eldest daughter. The next night he took a purse of gold for the
second daughter, and dropped it down the chimney. It fell down
right in front of the man, as he was getting a coal to light his
pipe. The third night the man watched; and when St. Nicholas
came, the door flew open, and the man ran out. He caught St.
Nicholas by his long robe and held him.

"O St. Nicholas, Servant of the Lord," he said, "why dost thou
hide thy good deeds?"

And from that time on, every one has known it is St. Nicholas
who brings gifts in the night and drops them down the chimney.

"Did the man sell his daughter?" asked Kat.

"No," said Grandmother. "He was so ashamed of himself that he
wasn't wicked any more."

"Does St. Nicholas give everybody presents so they will be good?"
asked Kat.

"Yes," said Grandmother; "that's why bad children get only a rod
in their shoes."

"He gave the bad man nice presents to make him good," said Kit.
"Why doesn't he give bad children nice things to make them good
too?"

Grandmother Winkle knitted for a minute without speaking. Then
she said,

"I guess he thinks that the rod is the present that will make
them good in the shortest time."

The clock had been ticking steadily along while Grandmother had
been telling stories, and it was now late in the afternoon. The
sky was all red in the west; there were long, long shadows across

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com