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List Of Contents | Contents of The Dutch Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins
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While they were drinking their coffee, Kit and Kat talked about
the ice, and what fun they would have with their sleds on the
canals when winter came.

"I tell you what it is, Kat," said Kit; "I think we're big enough
to have skates. Hans Hite isn't much bigger than I am, and he had
skates last winter. I mean to ask Father this very day."

"Yah," said Kat--that is the way Dutch Twins always say yes--
"Yah, and let us be very good and help mother all we can. I think
maybe they will give skates to good Twins quite soon, even if we
aren't very big yet--not big enough to be called Christopher and
Katrina."

Vrouw Vedder was heating water and getting out her scrubbing
brushes, so Kit and Kat knew that she was going to clean
something.

"What are you going to scrub to-day, Mother?" asked Kit.

"I'm going to scrub the stable," said Vrouw Vedder. "It is
getting too cold for the cows to stay all night in the pastures.
Father means to bring Mevrouw Holstein in to-night, and I want
her stable to be nice and clean for her."

"We'll help you," said Kit and Kat very politely.

"Good children!" their mother said. "You may carry the brushes."
So they opened a door beside the fireplace, and walked right into
the stable.

The stable was really a part of the house. There were two stalls
in the stable. Vrouw Vedder took her pails of water and her
brushes and began to scrub. She scrubbed the walls, and the sides
of the stalls, and the floor. The Twins scrubbed, too, until they
were tired; and the stable was so clean, you would have liked to
live there yourself.

"Let's play out here," said Kat. "Let's play house."

"All right," said Kit. "I'll be the father, and you be the
mother."

"But who will be Twins?" said Kat.

"Let's get the ducklings," said Kit.

"They can be Twins, of course," said Kat. "They are, anyway."

So Kit ran out and brought in the ducklings. They were so tame
they always ran to Kit and Kat, when they saw them coming. They
were almost ducks now, they had grown so big.

"Let's give the Twins their dinner," said Kat. So she got some
grain, and they both sat down on a little box and held the ducks
in their laps and fed them from their hands. The ducks ate
greedily.

"You have very bad manners," said Kat. "You will get your clothes
all dirty." She took two rags and tied them around the ducks'
necks for bibs. The ducks did not like bibs. They quacked.

"Now don't say anything like that," said Kat. "You must do just
as you are told and not spill your food."

Then Kit got some water and a spoon and gave the Twins a drink,
but they did not like the drink either.

"Now we must put them to sleep," said Kat. They rocked the ducks
in their arms, but the ducks squawked dreadfully.

"What bad children to cry so!" said Kit. "You can have both the
Twins"; and he gave his duck to Kat.

"You fix a bed for them," said Kat. So Kit turned up the box they
had been sitting on, and put some hay in it; and they put the
ducks in on the hay.

Pretty soon the ducks went to sleep. Kit and Kat ran away to play
out of doors and forgot all about them.

They didn't think about them again until Father Vedder came home
at night with Mevrouw Holstein. When he put the cow into the
stall, he stumbled over the box. It was rather dark in the
stable.

"Quack, quack!" said the ducks.

Kit and Kat were helping Father put the cow into the stall and
get some hay for her. When the ducks quacked, Father Vedder said,

"What in the world is this?"

"Oh, our Twins! our Twins!" cried Kit and Kat. "Don't let Mevrouw
Holstein step on the Twins!"

Father Vedder pulled out the box. Kit and Kat each took a duck
and carried it out to the poultry house.

"Twins are a great care," said Kit and Kat.

"Now is the time to ask," whispered Kat to Kit, that night, when
Father Vedder had finished his supper and was lighting his pipe.
"You must ask very politely, just the very politest way you
can."

They went and stood before their father. They put their feet
together. Kit made a bow, and Kat bobbed a curtsy.

"Dear parent," said Kit.

"That's a good start," whispered Kat. "Go on."

"Well, well, what now?" said Father Vedder.

"Dear parent, Kat and I are quite big now. I think we must be
nearly four feet and a half high. Don't you think we are big
enough to have skates this winter?"

"So that's it!" said Father Vedder. Then he smoked his pipe
again.

"There was ice on the canal this morning," said Kat.

"So you think you are big enough to skate, do you?" said Father
Vedder, at last. Mother Vedder was clearing away the supper.
"What do you think about it, Mother?" said Father Vedder.

"They have been very good children," said the Vrouw. "There are
the skates you and I had when we were children. We might try them
on and see if they are big enough to wear them. They are in the
bag hanging back of the press."

Kit and Kat almost screamed with joy.

"Our feet are quite large. I'm sure we can wear them," they said.

Father Vedder got the bag down and took out two pairs of skates.
They had long curling ends on the runners. The Twins sat down on
the floor. Father Vedder tried on the skates.

"They are still pretty large; but you will grow," he told the
Twins. "You may have them if you will be very careful and not let
them get rusty. By and by we will teach you to skate."

The Twins practiced standing in the skates on the kitchen floor;
and, when bedtime came, they took the skates to bed with them.

"O Kit," said Kat, "I never supposed we'd get them so soon. Did
you?"

"Well," said Kit, "you see, we're pretty big and very good. That
makes a difference."

"It's very nice to be good when people notice it, isn't it?" said
Kat.

"Yah," said Kit. "I'm going to be good now right along, all the
time; for very soon St. Nicholas will come, and he leaves only a
rod in the shoes of bad children. And if you've been bad, you
have to tell him about it."

"Oh! Oh!" said Kat. "I'm going to be good all the time too. I'm
going to be good until after the feast of St. Nicholas, anyway."

Not many days after Kit and Kat got their skates, there came a
cold, cold wind. It blew over the fields and over the canals all
day and all night long; and in the morning, when the Twins looked
out, the canal was one shining roadway of ice.

Father Vedder came in from the stable with a great pail full of
milk.

"Winter is here now, for good and all," he said, as he set the
pail down. "The canals are frozen over, and soon it will be the
day for the feast of St. Nicholas."

Kit and Kat ran to him and said, both together,

"Dear Father Vedder, will you please teach us to skate before
St. Nicholas Day?"

"I'll see if the ice is strong enough to bear," said Father
Vedder; and he went right down to the canal to see, that very
minute. When he came in, he said,

"Yes, the ice is strong; and we will go out as soon as you are
ready, and try your skates."

Vrouw Vedder said, "I should like to go too"; and Father Vedder
said to Kit and Kat,

"Your mother used to be the finest skater in the whole village
when she was a young girl. You must not let her beat you."

They hurried through with their work, Kit and Kat helped. Then
they all put on their heavy shoes and wraps, took their skates
over their shoulders, and started for the canal.

"If you learn to skate well enough, we will take you to town
before the feast of St. Nicholas," said Father Vedder. "But it
comes very soon."

He put on his own skates and Kit's, and the mother put on her own
and Kat's.

"I'm sure we can do it almost right away," said Kat.

"Now we'll show you how to skate," said Father Vedder. He stood
the Twins up on the ice. They held each other's hands. They were
afraid to move. Father Vedder took Mother Vedder's hand.

"See," he said, "like this!" And away they went like two
swallows, skimming over the ice. In a minute they were ever so
far away.

Kit and Kat felt lonesome, and very queer, when they saw their
father and mother flying along in that way. They weren't used to
see them do anything but work, and move about slowly.

"It looks easy," said Kit. "Let's try it. We must not be afraid."

He started with his right leg, pushing it out a little in front
of him. But it was very strange how his legs acted. They didn't
seem to belong to him at all! His left leg tried to follow his
right, just as it ought to; but, instead, it slid out sidewise
and knocked against Kat's skates. Then both Kat's feet flew up;
and she sat down very hard, on the ice. And Kit came down on top
of her.

They tried to get up; but, each time they tried, their feet slid
away from them.

"Oh dear," said Kat, "we are all mixed up! Are those your feet or
mine? I can't tell which is which!"

"They don't any of them mind," said Kit. "I can't stand up on any
of them. I've tried them all! We'll just have to wait until
Father and Mother come back and pick us out."

"Ice is quite cold to sit on, isn't it?" said Kat.

Soon Father and Mother Vedder came skimming back again. When they
saw Kit and Kat, they laughed and skated to them, picked them up,
and set them on their feet.

"Now I'll take Kit, and you take Kat," said Vrouw Vedder to her
husband, "and they'll be skating in no time." So Kat's father
took her hands, and Kit took hold of his mother's, and they
started off.

At first the Twins' feet didn't behave well at all. They seemed
to want to do everything they could to bother them. They would
sprawl way apart; then they would toe in and run into each other.

Many times Kit and Kat would have fallen if Father and Mother
Vedder had not held them up; but before the lesson was over, both
Kit and Kat could skate a little bit alone.

"See, this is the way," said Vrouw Vedder; and she skated around
in a circle. Then she cut a figure like this 8 in the ice. Then
Father Vedder did a figure like this S all on one foot.

"My!" said Kit and Kat.

"I think our parents must skate the best of all the people in the
world," said Kat.

"I'm going to some day," said Kit.

"So'm I," said Kat.

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