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“Of course it was intended for us, for our happy. But all the passions of her heartcare of him! Any fool can see that." deeper stirring than even she had ever
"I suppose so," acquiesced the milder dreamed of in her emptiest days—all her man. “Well, the little brute can repay our mother love and fear and yearning lived kindness by saving Henk's life.” . only for the sickly child she had borne.
To the woods of Gelderland, then, the “This air,” the doctor kept on saying, little family departed, securing a lonely “isn't what the boy needs at all. Couldn't cottage there among the pines. In this your husband find work in Germany—at strange, inhospitable country the invalided Bonn, for instance? So many Dutch workfather sought vainly—and not too strenu- men find good pay along the Rhine." ously-for work. They possessed about “Would he recover, if he lived there?"
ing gone to the purchase of the cottage- “He would have a much better chance," which a friend of Caspers, a builder, had replied the doctor, walking away. put into his business, promising a minimum B ut Hannah knew such talk was futile. of six and a maximum of ten per cent. As well say that boy might recover in Henk reckoned, from all the friend's ac- Heaven! counts, on ten: they had nearly enough to She was sadly ruminating these matters live.
again on that bright August morning, when But the sharp Gelderland air proved un- the motor-car came flying along the dusty satisfactory for the delicate child, whose road, which brought the change. She decomplaint was some sort of slow “waste," tested motors, not only because she didn't as the common people too truly term it. possess one, but for the more individual His asthma, for instance, was worse here reason that dust was bad for Henk. than at The Hague.
This motor-car stopped at her door, and Within eighteen months the builder Hannah went to join it and tell the way to failed: the four thousand guilders had been Arnhem. his last rope of sand. But Henk Caspers But the lady who descended from it, said: was not to blame, for the builder, a church “Vrouw Caspers? I want to see you on elder and parish councillor, had been esti- business”—and Hannah at once thought of mated, till a week before his fall, “safe as Hendrik, out at his work, for the day. the bank.” There are people to whom this Without more ado the lady entered the idea still conveys some conception of secur- cottage and, unasked, she sat down. As ity. The Caspers were penniless. The she loosened the absurd motor-trappings wife, who had barely been reconciled by the which a famous French 'house had furten per cent. to the letting the money leave nished her, the carpenter's wife'saw that the corner it had slept in so many years, she was a woman of “the great world,” no the wife said, “I told you so," till the hus- longer quite young-perhaps forty-fiveband struck her with his unstiff arm. and attired in widow's mourning. And also
Fortunately Hendrik, now aged four- Hannah saw that she trembled in vain atteen, had strong, healthy arms and a will- tempts to steady her knees and her voice. ing heart. People liked him. In this for- She--the visitor-spoke a few phrases lorn neighborhood none knew or cared to about the road, the fine day, the pretty cotknow his unusual connection with his “par- tage-visibly perfunctory, making pretence. ents." These latter had wisely held their T hen she burst out: “Have you children? peace: their elder “son” was put to work Yes, I know you have two. I have come at a carpenter's, who took on the maimed about that.” father at half-price. Henk lay out in the Hannah also sat down, anxiously waiting. woods—all the doctors and quacks con- “You will ask how I know ?-I will tell sulted recommended "fresh air”-and you quite frankly. The Burgomaster of drank milk.
the village where you used to live, VoorThus they struggled on for another year dorp, is a connection of friends of mine, so or two till the great change came. The I heard, long ago, your story. I know you woman, Hannah, had got reconciled to the have a foster-son-was he the child of one foster-child, now he earned more than half of your relations?” She paused, as anxious the family bread. She liked him. He was as the other woman, if not more so.
"He is a foundling," said Hannah, on him. We should have to feel very sure of her guard.
his future. We should have to know a "No? A parish child! Well, that may great deal about the—the person." suit all the better. I am a widow, alone in The visitor smiled, a mixture of pathos the world. It is a dreadful thing to be and hauteur.“I am rich, and he would be childless."
as my son to me." "Yes,” said Hannah, suddenly softening. “Where do you live?" asked Hannah
“I have often thought I should wish, in suddenly. my loneliness, to have a son. But I don't "I am changing my residence. I should want a baby, and it is very hard to get re- live where it was best for him. But this I spectable parents to abandon a half-grown must prepare you for—I shall go abroad.” child."
“Germany?” cried Hannah. “The She spoke these sentences as if trying to Rhine?” seem matter-of-fact; but, in reality, every The visitor smiled again: her voice grew nerve in her was faint with the strain. She calm, as the other's rose. “Germany is showed it, catching her breath with each big,” she said. “What makes you ask?” word or two, as the peasant woman listened “Nothing. Only that many work people in silence.
go from here, so I know about the Rhine.” “I heard, rightly or wrongly, that you “I have thought of Bonn or Wiesbaden, were, perhaps, not over-anxious to—to re- places near there. The boy would have tain the—the foster-child: is that true?” every comfort, every luxury. I have heard
"It depends," replied Hannah slowly. that you have had losses. I should be “We have never thought of parting with glad to—to help you—a little."
“How much?” asked Hannah, too knows, in this beastly dull life; I hate it! I eagerly.
wish I was dead!” The wealthy petitioner drew back. “Not “Henk, listen to me " much," she said coldly. “There is no need. “I hate it, I hate it. Always ill and no I should pay you a thousand guilders, in sort of fun. If she wants me in her motortwo payments of five hundred, once for all, car-_" and I should take the boy-for good.” “She shall have you! Oh, Henk, listen
“Only one thousand guilders!” cried to me!” Hannah.
It was all poured out in one hurried mo“Yes—why should I pay you more?” ment of fierce whispers behind the door.
“But the boy? He would be rich. Have She was only too accustomed to his queruthe best doctors ? Live in a fine house." lous complaints—but till now, but till now
“Is he ill?” cried the visitor, turning —they had been empty, useless complaints! white.
She went back to the visitor: “I must "Not ill. But he isn't strong. I will speak to his father, of course,” she said. fetch him.”
“I don't know what to think or say." “Is he here? I thought he would be at “His father—yes," answered the lady, work somewhere. Is he—" But Hannah turning to the door. “Yes, of course, his was already gone. A moment later she ap- -father. The boy might have been much peared with her son. She stood behind worse." him, holding her finger to her lips.
“What do you mean?” demanded the The boy was tall and well-grown for his woman. age: his ill-health and enforced leisure had “It would be so different if I had come given him an air of refinement and even a for your own child. Is he at work with his certain elegance. As he stood there, he cer- father?” tainly made an unexpectedly pleasing im- “Yes, out for the day.” pression for a boy out of a carpenter's cot- “Just so. To-morrow I shall come for tage on the Gelderland heath.
your reply—and the boy'. What we do, we “And so you are Hendrik Caspers ?” must do at once or not at all." said the visitor. The two bright spots on “Might I know your name, Madam?” her cheeks burned red.
“Certainly. The Baroness van Brest, at “Yes, madam, at your service," he an- the Hôtel du Soleil, Zutfen.” swered prettily.
The woman in the cottage flung her apron With a start of pleasure she caught his over her head and fell, weeping as she accent, so different from that of the chil- never had wept, on the deal table. The dren in the city streets.
woman in the motor-car sat erect, white “You are a nice boy; have you been and tearless. looking at my motor-car?”.
“The boy is better than one could have “Yes, madam."
imagined—better than one could have im“Would you like to have a ride in a mo- agined,” she said over and over again. tor-car?”
Next evening, when the older Hendrik, “Very much, madam. Oh, mother— " the bread-winner of seventeen, came back
Hannah intervened, setting her face hard, from his work, he found that he was the only avoiding his eyes. “Not to-day, at any son henceforth. “The poor brute has gone rate,” she said. “Some other time. Leave away to be rich," said the father, with a us now, Henk!”
gulp. “In a motor-car to Germany. To a But he dragged her out after him. big hotel at Bonn.” “Who is that lady, mother? What does “Yes, to Bonn—to the Royal Hotel,” she want? Why mayn't I?” He stamped said the mother, stirring the pot. his foot. “I want to go in her motor. I'll Hendrik gazed from one to the other. run back.” She clung to him.
“Gone?” he echoed, “Henk?” “You're always spoiling my pleasure. “Yes, gone for good—to be rich," said You do it on purpose—” he pushed so the father, piling up his agony. roughly, she caught at her bosom. “But then you—you haven't got any son “Henki "
left of your own.” “I've little pleasure enough here, Heaven An oath burst from the father; the
mother turned, screaming, from her fire: passionately musical and, in this birthplace “ You lie! You lie, you black guard! What of Beethoven, of music she could take her do you mean? How dare you? What do fill. “The boy has not that taste," she comyou— "
plained: he sang hopelessly out of tune. “Hush!” cried the husband, and struck When he said he felt tired, she protested his hand on the table. “What makes you irritably, but she gradually learned to untalk like that Hendrik ?”
derstand, inexhaustibly healthy herself, “Why-1-1-"the lad shifted his feet that he really was delicate. Then, unable Of course, I know I'm not really your son.” to combat illness, she sent for the daily doc“You know—you know
tor. And she said the boy had been shame“Hush, wife. What do you mean, Hen- fully neglected. The doctor willingly said
it also. Presently Henk said it, with a “Why, father, I heard you say once, growing grievance against his parents-his yourself, when I was a boy, that I was ‘No- “foster-parents”—to whom he now very body's Child,' and I asked what that seldom wrote. meant, and they told me. And I found out On the whole he was good-tempered at how you'd taken me in, and that's why I first, childishly pleased with all his novel love you all I can.”
gewgaws. Only her resolve to have him “But why did you never speak of it to taught something-lessons—he fought. us?”
They clashed-he had a fit of asthma in “I thought it'd hurt you, as you never the night, and she gave way. Some weeks spoke of it to me,” said Hendrik.
later she tried again, with no better As soon as they were alone: “He knows success. nothing of the five thousand guilders," said He would moon about the place all day, the wife to the husband. “Which were except when he went out with her in the ours," replied the husband.
motor. He ate sweets, and wanted pocket “So I've lost them both in one day!” money for that, and for an inordinate pleassaid the red-eyed wife.
ure in dress. After all, he was a great lad of That morning, she had summoned, after sixteen: she closed the door-sometimes a sleepless night, a heroism which surely with a slight bang—on herself and her women alone find cause to develop, and she piano. The doctor said he must on no achad said to her own son, in the gray light of count be “overstrained.” the kitchen: “You will hear, perhaps, that A fter a time he got into very real misyou aren't our child, Henk. Don't talk chief, in spite of his ill-health, but this he about it, but don't contradict it. It is succeeded in entirely concealing from her. true.”
Only it caused him to claim a larger allow“Why—whose child am I?”asked Henk. ance; they almost quarrelled over that. He
"We don't know. You were found on had a long illness-pneumonia, caught overour door step. You are going to be this night-she nursed him through that with grand lady's child now.”
maternal devotion. Picking up far too "“It's a good thing she didn't ask for slowly, through months of semi-convalesHendrik,” remarked Henk.
cence, he moped, and the doctor said he “We-we-our own--you see” she ought to have a companion. fell in a heap on the floor, and he cried out “I want Hendrik,” he declared, after the to her, half angrily, not to take on so. doctor had gone. She objected, and they
He did not take on, in his new German had what Henk called “a row.” But he relife, with the Baroness who bade him call turned to the charge, as was his habit. her mother; it would have been unnatural “He can come as your servant," said the to expect him to grieve; a fairy godmother Baroness at last. “He will be good to you, she was to him-he lived in fairy land-a and, besides, he will have to stay, while villa by the Rhine, with a rose-garden three have given notice since you were ill." around it, servants, a daily doctor, a motor- “You've never felt pain, mother," recar. A certain monotony, for the Baroness plied Henk. van Brest had few acquaintances in this “Yes, I have felt pain,” replied the Barforeign town and seemed not to desire any. oness, and looked out of the window and She had one all-absorbing interest: she was back at her “foster-son."