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Chapter V.: GOING NORTHWARDS. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 6 (Messrs. Vanderput and Snoek, The Loom and the Lugger Parts 1 & 2) 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 6.
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The transit from Amsterdam to Winkel was accomplished too soon for the wishes of some of the party, while others found it very wearisome. These last were not rendered impatient by the annoyances which would have fatigued an English traveller,—the slowness of the trekschuit, the frequent interruptions of the bridges over the canal, and the smoking which went on on board the boat. All these were matters of course to a Dutch voyager. Heins's unexpected attendance was much more wearisome to Gertrude than any anticipated circumstances of the voyage; and her ancient attendant was more annoyed by the manifest rivalship of Francesca Slyk than by any infliction, in the form of smoke or garlic, of the other passengers. Heins, on the other hand, enjoyed and made the most of the protracted opportunity thus afforded him of paying his court to Gertrude, well knowing that, once on shore, his privileges would be at an end. While she sat sewing in the roef, or best cabin, he took his place beside her, and importuned her with conversation, in defiance of Francesca's frequent calls to observe the pleasure boats which floated on the canal, or the laden barges which were being towed down, or the trim gardens of the country houses stretching to the brink of the water. If Gertrude engaged herself in any employment in which he was not concerned, he was far too ready with his warnings of some provoking bridge which they might as well pass on foot, or of the approach of dinner-time, when he had ascertained that they might safely go on shore to refresh themselves on the grass, out of the reach of the scents of tobacco on the one hand, and decaying vegetation on the other. Then came the ostentation of the delicate dinner he had caused to be provided, and of the taste with which he had selected the spot where they were to rest. He was never wearied of pointing out how the grass on the sloping dyke where they sat was greener than anywhere else; and what a pleasant shade the willows made; and how precisely he had chosen the point of view for seeing the slow sail gliding between the tufted banks and gay gardens. He busied himself to learn the name of every village whose houses were clustered on the intersecting dykes; and piqued himself on measuring exactly by his eye the extent of the oblong fields formed by the intersections. He pronounced learnedly on the turf-soils and clay soils which alternated under what, to inexperienced eyes, was only bright verdure; and, when there had been enough of this, glided into a fit of sentiment on the unrivalled beauties of a summer noon in Holland. Gertrude had been silently admiring what he now began to praise,—the prospect where the greenest of meadows formed a relief from the gleams of water on every side,—water in the sluggish canal, water standing in the hollows, water rising in the grass, water hanging in the air in the form of a silvery haze, which dissolved the outlines, and melted into harmony the hues of all objects, from the whirling mills on the banks which seemed to possess a life of their own, to the lazy cattle which lay ruminating under the scanty shade of the willows. From the moment that Heins became romantic, however, Gertrude's contemplation was spoiled; and she returned to her spiced baked eels and glass of liqueur with a new relish.
If Heins could but have been made to tow the boat which held his beloved, she would have been happy to admit his services while dining on shore; but to have him at her elbow in the trekschuit, and at her feet on the grass, was rather too much. As soon as she could with any grace leave the company, she wandered with her attendant to some distance from the feasting party, trusting that Francesca would choose this time for detaining Heins by her side.
Without going out of hearing of the bell of the trekschuit, Gertrude found she could change her scene and company. From the ridge of the bank she saw a bleaching-ground below, and hastened down to exchange a few words with the children who were sitting in a circle to guard the linen, and peeling sallows the while. The ground was unapproachable but by a little bridge over the ditch; and on this bridge was stationed an old woman, with petticoats tucked up to an unusual shortness, a hat like an umbrella, and an evident preparation for the endurance of heat and fatigue.
“You are weary, good mother, since you seem to be resting,” said Gertrude. “Truly you would rest better in the shade.”
The old lady replied, that she was only waiting for the boat-call. She took her turn to tow, when the trekschuit passed this place. It was warm work in a summer's noon, and she took her pleasure before and after it.
“And what becomes of the horse?” inquired Gertrude's maid. “We changed horse but lately.”
“My grandson there rides him forward through he fields to a point where the towing-path grows wide enough for him again,” said the old woman; “and the boy lightens my way home, when the boat is on its course again.”
“You talk,” said Gertrude, “of taking your pleasure. Is it pleasure to lean over this bridge at noon time?”
“It is a pleasure, young mistress, to look abroad and see how Providence has blest our land above every other. I venture to say something to our pastor in return for all that he says to us. I tell him that, though he has lost his country for his religion's sake, he has gained a better, besides his heavenly reward. Our pastor came from France during the persecution.”
“And does he like this country better than France?”
No doubt, the old woman supposed. In France, she was credibly informed, more than one cow had died of drought, during the last hot season, when heaven blessed Holland with water enough for the purposes of all Europe, if some of it had not been putrid. In certain parts of France, such a thing as an eel was never seen; and there was a false religion there, which showed that the curse of God was on the country. The very children were quite unlike the Dutch children. They would dance and shout under the chestnut trees, and laugh loud enough to be heard far off, instead of giving their hearts to God, and using their hands in the service of their parents, like the little people who were at work so soberly in yonder bleaching ground.
“You point out to your grand-children,” said Gertrude, “the blessings you are yourself so sensible of?”
“The pastor teaches them to give praise for the pure gospel,” replied the old woman; “and I bring them out to show them the gifts that follow upon grace. I show them the waters that bear corn to us, and breed fish for us; and the pastures that feed our cows. And I tell them about the sand that the rough sea washes up to strengthen our dykes; and I bid them be thankful that we have lime-kilns near, without which the fever might carry us all off any autumn.”
“The fever prevails here then?”
“We have lost two of the children in it; but Providence has been pleased to show us the way out of this danger, through our pastor. You see that mill, with the new thatch upon it. Well; it was our pastor who thought we might have a mill as well as our neighbours; and it carries off the mud, and keeps up a stir in the water, so that we trust God will preserve us from the fever this year.”
“Your house stands on high ground,” observed Gertrude. “It looks as if it must be healthy and convenient.”
“We can see the spires of two great towns from it. I tell the children the sight should make them thankful that they are far from the snares which try the spirit in great cities. It pleases Heaven to prosper my son's traffic at Rotterdam fair, once a year; and he brings home news enough of what he sees there to show us that a country place like this is the true resting place for God's chosen.”
“I should like to rest here a while with you, good mother; and to bring with me a little friend to whom Providence denies repose upon earth.” And Gertrude spoke of Christian, adding that she trusted the good mother was so much more pious than herself as to be reconciled to even such a case of suffering as this. The dame requested, with much respect, that if opportunity should offer, she might be honoured with a call on her hospitality in behalf of the child whom the hand of God had touched, and whose heart would, she trusted, be in due time touched by His grace.
Gertrude really hoped that such an opportunity would occur, whenever Christian should return to Amsterdam. Hospitality was at that time as free in Holland as in any country at any period; and the disciples of the reformed religion, especially, communicated as brethren. Gertrude thought that she and Christian could be very happy for a while in the substantial farm-house which stood on the slope, with a well-ordered family of children about them, a pious pastor at hand, and the happy dame to point out blessing in every thing. Christian should hear all about it; and it was much to be wished that the slanderers of Holland could see what her peasantry really were;—that they were remarkable for other things than being the richest in the world.
Gertrude had no time to improve her acquaintance with the family before the bell rang, and it was necessary to hasten back to the boat. While she again settled down to her work in the cabin, the dame stoutly passed the towing-rope over her shoulders, and paced the narrow foot-path for three miles, drawing the boat after her with great apparent ease. After bidding her farewell, Gertrude had not come to a conclusion as to what blessing the dame could contrive to educe from the infliction of Heins's society, when her attention was called to an important feature in the landscape. Rising above the dykes which crossed the country in every direction, was an eminence planted with trees, and prolonged to the furthest visible points north and south. This was certainly the sea dyke, and they were approaching Winkel; and accordingly, they were presently after landed at the summer-house which overlooked the canal from the extremity,—that is,—the highest part of Mrs. Snoek's garden.
What screams of joy issued from this retreat is the boat glided before the window from which Christian was fishing, and well-known faces looked out from the cabin, and one friend after another stepped on shore! The summer-house had windows all round, that no passing object might escape the notice of those who came there to be amused. Christian occupied nearly the whole water-window, as it was called. His brother and sister contended for the dyke or road-window, from whence Luc speedily descended to make acquaintance with the towing-horse. Mrs. Snoek awaited her guests at the door, and’ Katrina stretched her neck from the back-window which presented no object beyond the familiar cows, and the herd's cottage in the back-ground. With his fishing-rod suspended, and his eyes so intently fixed on Gertrude that he did not even hear the compliments of Francesca, Christian sat patiently waiting his share of the caresses which his active brother and sister were snatching from the common favourite. He was rewarded, as usual, for his patience by his friend's taking a seat where he could keep possession of her hand, and see every turn of her countenance. At the first unobserved moment, she bent over him, whispering an inquiry whether his spirit had been at quiet in the absence of the pastor, and whether he had been strong of heart, as he had promised, for his mother's sake. Christian looked down, as if afraid to answer for himself, and at last said that his pain had been worse than ever, just when Gertrude was not there to nurse him.
“And how did you bear it?”
“Ask mother,” replied the boy, with one of his radiant smiles, which yet had little of the brightness of childhood in it. And he went on to tell how his mother had scarcely ever left him, and how she had time now to nurse him, just as she did before his father was ill; and how he had told her his secret about bearing the pain; and how she thought it a very good method, and was glad to understand why he looked in a particular way when the pain seemed to be coming on, and spoke slowly and gently when he had been lying awake at night longer than usual; and how she really thought he might try to be as patient as Jesus Christ, and become more so, in time, than seemed possible at present. Gertrude was very glad to hear all this, and also that the ranunculus, which had been taken all possible care of for her, was now in beautiful blow, and that they were to go down to the decoy together the first day that there should be no mist, when Christian had two or three kinds of waterfowl to show her which had never settled near them before. But all this was hastily dismissed for Master Peter. Master Peter had inquired, more than once, for Christian; but had said nothing about coming to Winkel. Christian must meet him again at Saardam some day.
And now Gertrude and Christian had both need of patience; Gertrude being first half stifled by Roselyn's boisterous love, and then rescued by Heins, at the expense of many tears from the scolded child; and Christian being not less teased by lectures from Slyk, and fondness from Francesca. He did not lose his good-humour, however; and, with the rest of the party, was too happy to wish to leave the summer-house till the sun sank red behind the west-dyke, and the evening fog began to rise.