ROLLO IN HOLLAND,
BOSTON: BROWN, TAGGARD & CHASE,
SUCCESSORS TO W. J. REYNOLDS & CO., 25 & 29 CORNHILL.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by JACOB ABBOTT, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTYPED AT THE BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY. Damrell & Moore, Printers, Boston.
I.—PREPARATIONS, 11 II.—A BAD TRAVELLING COMPANION, 26 III.—THE MAIL STEAMER, 44 IV.—ENTERING HOLLAND, 67 V.—WALKS ABOUT ROTTERDAM, 86 VI.—DOING THE HAGUE, 109 VII.—CORRESPONDENCE, 138 VIII.—THE COMMISSIONER, 160 IX.—THE GREAT CANAL, 169 X.—THE DAIRY VILLAGE, 186 XI.—CONCLUSION, 200
ROLLO IN HOLLAND.—(Frontispiece.) PAGE VIEW IN HOLLAND, 10 THE HANSOM CAB, 33 LANDING FROM THE MAIL BOAT, 57 DORT, 83 THE FERRY BOAT, 101 THE DINNER, 124 THE BOAT FAMILY, 154 THE TREKSCHUYT, 181 THE DAIRY VILLAGE, 193 CABIN OF PETER THE GREAT, 204
ROLLO'S TOUR IN EUROPE.
ORDER OF THE VOLUMES.
ROLLO ON THE ATLANTIC. ROLLO IN PARIS. ROLLO IN SWITZERLAND. ROLLO IN LONDON. ROLLO ON THE RHINE. ROLLO IN SCOTLAND. ROLLO IN GENEVA. ROLLO IN HOLLAND. ROLLO IN NAPLES. ROLLO IN ROME.
ROLLO IN HOLLAND.
Holland is one of the most remarkable countries on the globe. The peculiarities which make it remarkable arise from the fact that it is almost perfectly level throughout, and it lies so low. A very large portion of it, in fact, lies below the level of the sea, the waters being kept out, as every body knows, by immense dikes that have stood for ages.
These dikes are so immense, and they are so concealed by the houses, and trees, and mills, and even villages that cover and disguise them, that when the traveller first sees them he can hardly believe that they are dikes. Some of them are several hundred feet wide, and have a good broad public road upon the top, with a canal perhaps by the side of it, and avenues of trees, and road-side inns, and immense wind mills on the other hand. When riding or walking along upon such a dike on one side, down a long slope, they have a glimpse of water between the trees. On the other, at an equal distance you see a green expanse of country, with gardens, orchards, fields of corn and grain, and scattered farm houses extending far and wide. At first you do not perceive that this beautiful country that you see spreading in every direction on one side of the road is below the level of the water that you see on the other side; but on a careful comparison you find that it is so. When the tide is high the difference is very great, and were it not for the dikes the people would be inundated.
[Footnote 1: See Frontispiece.]
Indeed, the dikes alone would not prevent the country from being inundated; for it is not possible to make them perfectly tight, and even if it were so, the soil beneath them is more or less pervious to water, and thus the water of the sea and of the rivers would slowly press its way through the lower strata, and oozing up into the land beyond, would soon make it all a swamp.
Then, besides the interpercolation from the soil, there is the rain. In upland countries, the surplus water that falls in rain flows off in brooks and rivers to the sea; but in land that is below the level of the sea, there can be no natural flow of either brooks or rivers. The rain water, therefore, that falls on this low land would remain there stagnant, except the comparatively small portion of it that would be evaporated by the sun and wind.
Thus you see, that if the people of Holland were to rely on the dikes alone to keep the land dry, the country would become in a very short time one immense morass.
To prevent this result it is necessary to adopt some plan to raise the water, as fast as it accumulates in the low grounds, and convey it away. This is done by pumps and other such hydraulic engines, and these are worked in general by wind mills.
They might be worked by steam engines; but steam engines are much more expensive than wind mills. It not only costs much more to make them, but the expense of working them from day to day is very great, on account of the fuel which they require. The necessary attendance on a steam engine, too, is very expensive. There must be engineers, with high pay, to watch the engine and to keep it always in order, and firemen to feed the fires, and ashmen to carry away the ashes and cinders. Whereas a wind mill takes care of itself.
The wind makes the wind mills go, and the wind costs nothing. It is true, that the head of the mill must be changed from time to time, so as to present the sails always in proper direction to the wind. But even this is done by the wind itself. There is a contrivance by which the mill is made to turn itself so as to face always in the right direction towards the wind; and not only so, but the mill is sometimes so constructed that if the wind blows too hard, it takes in a part of the sails by its own spontaneous action, and thus diminishes the strain which might otherwise be injurious to the machinery.
Now, since the advantages of wind mills are so great over steam engines, in respect especially to cheapness, perhaps you will ask why steam is employed at all to turn machinery, instead of always using the wind. The reason is, because the wind is so unsteady. Some days a wind mill will work, and some days it will lie still; and thus in regard to the time when it will do what is required of it, no reliance can be placed upon it. This is of very little consequence in the work of pumping up water from the sunken country in Holland; for, if for several days the mills should not do their work, no great harm would come of it, since the amount of water which would accumulate in that time would not do any harm. The ground might become more wet, and the canals and reservoirs get full,—just as brooks and rivers do on any upland country after a long rain. But then, after the calm was over and the wind began to blow again, the mills would all go industriously to work, and the surplus water would soon be pumped up, and discharged over the dikes into the sea again.
Thus the irregularity in the action of the wind mills in doing such work as this, is of comparatively little consequence.
But in the case of some other kinds of work,—as for example the driving of a cotton mill, or any other great manufactory in which a large number of persons are employed,—it would be of the greatest possible consequence; for when a calm time came, and the wind mill would not work, all the hands would be thrown out of employ. They might sometimes remain idle thus a number of days at a time, at a great expense to their employers, or else at a great loss to themselves. Sometimes, for example, there might be a fine breeze in the morning, and all the hands would go to the mill and begin their work. In an hour the breeze might entirely die away, and the spinners and weavers would all find their jennies and looms going slower and slower, and finally stopping altogether. And then, perhaps, two hours afterwards, when they had all given up the day's work and gone away to their respective homes, the breeze would spring up again, and the wind mill would go to work more industriously than ever.
This would not answer at all for a cotton mill, but it does very well for pumping up water from a great reservoir into which drains and canals discharge themselves to keep a country dry.
And this reminds me of one great advantage which the people of Holland enjoy on account of the low and level condition of their country; and that is, it is extremely easy to make canals there. There are not only no mountains or rocks in the way to impede the digging of them, but, what is perhaps a still more important advantage, there is no difficulty in filling them with water. In other countries, when a canal is to be made, the very first question is, How is it to be filled? For this purpose the engineer explores the whole country through which the canal is to pass, to find rivers and streams that he can turn into it, when the bed of it shall have been excavated; and sometimes he has to bring these supplies of water for a great distance in artificial channels, which often cross valleys by means of great aqueducts built up to hold them. Sometimes a brook is in this way brought across a river,—the river itself not being high enough to feed the canal.
The people of Holland have no such difficulties as these to encounter in their canals. The whole country being so nearly on a level with the sea, they have nothing to do, when they wish for a canal, but to extend it in some part to the sea shore, and then open a sluice way and let the water in.
It is true that sometimes they have to provide means to prevent the ingress of too much water; but this is very easily done.
It is thus so easy to make canals in Holland, that the people have been making them for hundreds of years, until now almost the whole country is intersected every where with canals, as other countries are with roads. Almost all the traffic, and, until lately, almost all the travel of the country, has been upon the canals. There are private canals, too, as well as public. A farmer brings home his hay and grain from his fields by water, and when he buys a new piece of land he makes a canal to it, as a Vermont farmer would make a road to a new pasture or wood lot that he had been buying.
Rollo wished very much to see all these things—but there was one question which it puzzled him very much to decide, and that was whether he would rather go to Holland in the summer or in the winter.
"I am not certain," said he to his mother one day, "whether it would not be better for me to go in the winter."
"It is very cold there in the winter," said his mother; "so I am told."
"That is the very thing," said Rollo. "They have such excellent skating on the canals. I want to see the boats go on the canals, and I want to see the skating, and I don't know which I want to see most."
"Yes," said his mother, "I recollect to have often seen pictures of skating on the Dutch canals."
"And I read, when I was a boy," continued Rollo, "that the women skate to market in Holland."
Rollo here observed that his mother was endeavoring to suppress a smile. She seemed to try very hard, but she could not succeed in keeping perfectly sober.
"What are you laughing at, mother?" asked Rollo.
Here Mrs. Holiday could no longer restrain herself, but laughed outright.
"Is it about the Dutch women skating to market?" asked Rollo.
"I think they must look quite funny, at any rate," said Mrs. Holiday.
What Mrs. Holiday was really laughing at was to hear Rollo talk about "when he was a boy." But the fact was, that Rollo had now travelled about so much, and taken care of himself in so many exigencies, that he began to feel quite like a man. And indeed I do not think it at all surprising that he felt so.
"Which would you do, mother," said Rollo, "if you were I? Would you rather go in the summer or in the winter?"
"I would ask uncle George," said Mrs. Holiday.
So Rollo went to find his uncle George.
Rollo was at this time at Morley's Hotel, in London, and he expected to find his uncle George in what is called the coffee room. The coffee room in Morley's Hotel is a very pleasant place. It fronts on one side upon a very busy and brilliant street, and on another upon a large open square, adorned with monuments and fountains. On the side towards the square is a bay window, and near this bay window were two or three small tables, with gentlemen sitting at them, engaged in writing. There were other tables along the sides of the room and at the other windows, where gentlemen were taking breakfast. Mr. George was at one of the tables near the bay window, and was busy writing.
Rollo went to the place, and standing by Mr. George's side, he said in an under tone,—
Every body speaks in an under tone in an English coffee room. They do this in order not to interrupt the conversation, or the reading, or the writing of other gentlemen that may be in the room.
"Wait a moment," said Mr. George, "till I finish this letter."
So Rollo turned to the bay window and looked out, in order to amuse himself with what he might observe in the street, till his uncle George should be ready to talk with him.
He saw the fountains in the square, and a great many children playing about the basins. He saw a poor boy at a crossing brushing the pavement industriously with an old broom, and then holding out his hand to the people passing by, in hopes that some of them would give him a halfpenny. He saw a policeman walking slowly up and down on the sidewalk, wearing a glazed hat, and a uniform of blue broadcloth, with his letter and number embroidered on the collar. He saw an elegant carriage drive by, with a postilion riding upon one of the horses, and two footmen in very splendid liveries behind. There was a lady in the carriage, but she appeared old, and though she was splendidly dressed, her face was very plain.
"I wonder," said Rollo to himself, "how much she would give of her riches and finery if she could be as young and as pretty as my cousin Lucy."
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. George, interrupting Rollo's reflections, "what is the question?"
"Why, I want to know," said Rollo, "whether you think we had better go to Holland in the winter or in the summer."
"Is it left to you to decide?" asked Mr. George.
"Why, no," said Rollo, "not exactly. But mother asked me to consider which I thought was best, and so I want to know your opinion."
"Very well," said Mr. George, "go on and argue the case. After I have heard it argued I will decide."
Rollo then proceeded to explain to his uncle the advantages, respectively, of going in the summer and in the winter. After hearing him, Mr. George thought it would be decidedly better to go in the summer.
"You see," said he, "that the only advantage of going in the winter is to see the skating. That is very important, I know. I should like to see the Dutch women skating to market myself, very much. But then, in the winter you could see very little of the canals, and the wind mills, and all the other hydraulic operations of the country. Every thing would be frozen up solid."
"Father says that he can't go now very well," continued Rollo, "but that I may go with you if you would like to go."
Mr. George was just in the act of sealing his letter as Rollo spoke these words; but he paused in the operation, holding the stick of sealing wax in one hand and the letter in the other, as if he was reflecting on what Rollo had said.
"If we only had some one else to go with us," said Mr. George.
"Should not we two be enough?" asked Rollo.
"Why, you see," said Mr. George, "when we get into Holland we shall not understand one word of the language."
"What language do they speak?" asked Rollo.
"Dutch," said Mr. George, "and I do not know any Dutch."
"Not a word?" asked Rollo.
"No," said Mr. George, "not a word. Ah, yes! I know one word. I know that dampschiff means steamboat. Damp, I suppose, means steam."
Then Rollo laughed outright. Dampskiff, he said, was the funniest name for steamboat that he ever heard.
"Now, when we don't know a word of the language," added Mr. George, "we cannot have any communication with the people of the country, but shall be confined entirely to each other. Now, do you think that you could get along with having nobody but me to talk to you for a whole fortnight?"
"Yes, indeed!" said Rollo. "But then, uncle George," he continued, "how are you going to get along at the hotels without knowing how to speak to the people at all?"
"By signs and gestures," said Mr. George, laughing. "Could not you make a sign for something to eat?"
"O, yes," said Rollo; and he immediately began to make believe eat, moving his hands as if he had a knife and fork in them.
"And what sign would you make for going to bed?" asked Mr. George.
Here Rollo laid his head down to one side, and placed his hand under it, as if it were a pillow, and then shut his eyes.
"That is the sign for going to bed," said Rollo. "A deaf and dumb boy taught it to me."
"I wish he had taught you some more signs," said Mr. George. "Or I wish we had a deaf and dumb boy here to go with us. Deaf and dumb people can get along excellently well where they do not understand the language, because they know how to make so many signs."
"O, we can make up the signs as we go along," said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George. "I don't think that we shall have any great difficulty about that. But then it would be pleasanter to go in a little larger party. Two people are apt to get tired of each other, when there is nobody else that they can speak a single word to for a whole fortnight. I don't think that I should get tired of you. What I am afraid of is, that you would get tired of me."
There was a lurking smile on Mr. George's face as he said this.
"O, uncle George!" said Rollo, "that is only your politeness. But then if you really think that we ought to have some more company, perhaps the Parkmans are going to Holland, and we might go with them."
"I would not make a journey with the Parkmans," said Mr. George, "if they would pay all my expenses, and give me five sovereigns a day."
"Why, uncle George!" exclaimed Rollo; "I thought you liked Mr. Parkman very much."
"So I do," said Mr. George. "It is his wife that I would not go with."
"O, uncle George!" exclaimed Rollo again.
Rollo was very much surprised at hearing this declaration; and it was very natural that he should be surprised, for Mrs. Parkman was a young and beautiful lady, and she was very kindhearted and very amiable in her disposition. Mr. Parkman, too, was very young. He had been one of Mr. George's college classmates. He had been married only a short time before he left America, and he was now making his bridal tour.
Mr. George thought that Mrs. Parkman was very beautiful and very intelligent, but he considered her a very uncomfortable travelling companion. I think he judged her somewhat too harshly. But this was one of Mr. George's faults. He did not like the ladies very much, and the faults which he observed in them, from time to time, he was prone to condemn much too harshly.
A BAD TRAVELLING COMPANION.
The reason why Mr. George did not like his friend Mr. Parkman's young wife was not because of any want of natural attractiveness in her person, or of amiableness in her disposition,—for she was beautiful, accomplished, and kindhearted. But for all this, from a want of consideration not uncommon among young ladies who are not much experienced in the world, she was a very uncomfortable travelling companion.
It is the duty of a gentleman who has a lady under his charge, in making a journey, to consult her wishes, and to conform to them so far as it is possible, in determining where to go, and in making all the general arrangements of the journey. But when these points are decided upon, every thing in respect to the practical carrying into effect of the plans thus formed should be left to the gentleman, as the executive officer of the party; just as in respect to affairs relating to housekeeping, or any thing else relating to a lady's department, the lady should be left free to act according to her own judgment and taste in arranging details, while in the general plans she conforms to the wishes of her husband. For a lady, when travelling, to be continually making suggestions and proposals about the baggage or the conveyances, and expressing dissatisfaction, or wish for changes in this, that, or the other, is as much a violation of propriety as it would be for the gentleman to go into the kitchen, and there propose petty changes in respect to the mode of cooking the dinner—or to stand by his wife at her work table, and wish to have her thread changed from this place to that—or to have some different stitch to be used in making a seam. A lady very naturally feels disturbed if she finds that her husband does not have confidence enough in her to trust her with such details.
"I will make or mend for you whatever you may desire," she might say, "and I will get for your dinner any thing that you ask for; but in the way of doing it you ought to leave every thing to my direction. It is better to let me have my own way, even if your way is better than mine. For in matters of direction there ought always to be only one head, even if it is not a very good one."
And in the same manner a gentleman might say when travelling with a lady,—
"I will arrange the journey to suit your wishes as far as is practicable, and will go at such times and by such conveyances as you may desire. I will also, at all the places where we stop, take you to visit such objects of interest and curiosity as you wish to see. But then when it comes to the details of the arrangements to be made,—the orders to servants and commissioners, the determination of the times for setting out, and the bargains to be made with coachmen and innkeepers,—it is best to leave all those things to me; for it always makes confusion to have two persons give directions at the same time."
To say this would be right in both cases,—there must always be one to command. A great many families are kept in continual confusion by there being two or more ladies who consider themselves more or less at the head of it—as, for instance, a wife and a sister, or two sisters and a mother. Napoleon used to say that one bad general was better than two good ones; so important is it in war to have unity of command. It is not much less important in social life.
Mrs. Parkman did not understand this principle. Mr. George had seen an example of her mode of management a day or two before, in taking a walk with her and her husband in London. They were going to see the tunnel under the Thames, which was three or four miles down the river from Morley's Hotel, where they were all lodging.
"Which way would you like to go?" asked Mr. Parkman.
"Is there more than one way?" asked his wife.
"Yes," said Mr. Parkman, "we can take a Hansom cab, and drive down through the streets, or we can walk down to the river side, and there take a boat. The boats are a great deal the cheapest, and the most amusing; but the cab will be the most easy and comfortable, and the most genteel. We shall have to walk nearly half a mile before we get to the landing of the boats."
"Is there much difference in the price?" asked Mrs. Parkman.
"Not enough to be of any consequence," replied her husband. "It will make a difference of about one and a half crown; for by the boats it would be only two or three pence, while by the cab it will be as many shillings. But that is of no consequence. We will go whichever way you think you would enjoy the most."
"You may decide for me," said Mrs. Parkman. "I'll leave it entirely to you. It makes no difference to me."
"Then, on the whole, I think we will try the boat," said Mr. Parkman; "it will be so much more amusing, and we shall see so much more of London life. Besides, we shall often read and hear about the steamers on the Thames when we return to America, and it will be well for us to have made one voyage in them. And, Mr. George, will you go with us?"
"Yes," said Mr. George.
So they all left the hotel together, and commenced their walk towards the bridge where the nearest landing stage for the Thames boats lay.
They had not gone but a very short distance before Mrs. Parkman began to hang rather heavily upon her husband's arm, and asked him whether it was much farther that they would have to walk.
"O, yes," said Mr. Parkman. "I told you that we should have to walk about half a mile."
"Then we shall get all tired out," said his wife, "and we want our strength for walking through the tunnel. It does not seem to be worth while to take all this trouble just to save half a crown."
Mr. Parkman, though he had only been married a little more than a month, felt something like a sense of indignation rising in his breast, that his wife should attribute to him such a motive for choosing the river, after what he had said on the subject. But he suppressed the feeling, and only replied quietly,—
"O, let us take a cab then, by all means. I hope you don't suppose that I was going to take you by the boat to save any money."
"I thought you said that you would save half a crown," rejoined his wife.
"Yes," said Mr. Parkman, "I did, it is true."
Mr. Parkman was too proud to defend himself from such an imputation, supported by such reasoning as this; so he only said, "We will go by a cab. We will take a cab at the next stand."
Mr. George instantly perceived that by this change in the plan, he was made one too many for the party, since only two can ride conveniently in a Hansom cab. So he said at once, that he would adhere to the original plan, and go by water.
[Footnote 2: A Hansom cab is made like an old-fashioned chaise, only that it is set very low, so that it is extremely easy to step in and out of it, and the seat of the driver is high up behind. The driver drives over the top of the chaise! Thus the view for the passengers riding inside is wholly unobstructed, and this makes the Hansom cab a very convenient and pleasant vehicle for two persons to ride in, through the streets of a new and strange town.]
"But, first," said he, "I will go with you to the stand, and see you safe in a cab."
So they turned into another street, and presently they came to a stand. There was a long row of cabs there, of various kinds, all waiting to be employed. Among them were several Hansoms.
Mr. Parkman looked along the line to select one that had a good horse. The distance was considerable that they had to go, and besides Mr. Parkman knew that his wife liked always to go fast. So when he had selected the best looking horse, he made a signal to the driver. The driver immediately left the stand, and drove over to the sidewalk where Mr. Parkman and his party were waiting.
Mr. Parkman immediately opened the door of the cab to allow his wife to go in; but she, instead of entering, began to look scrutinizingly into it, and hung back.
"Is this a nice cab?" said she. "It seems to me that I have seen nicer cabs than this.
"Let us look," she added, "and see if there is not a better one somewhere along the line."
The cabman, looking down from his exalted seat behind the vehicle, said that there was not a nicer cab than his in London.
"O, of course," said Mrs. Parkman. "They always say that. But I can find a nicer one, I'm sure, somewhere in the line."
So saying she began to move on. Mr. Parkman gave the cabman a silver sixpence—which is equal to a New York shilling—to compensate him for having been called off from his station, and then followed his wife across the street to the side where the cabs were standing. Mrs. Parkman led the way all down the line, examining each hack as she passed it; but she did not find any one that looked as well as the first.
"After all," said she, "we might as well go back and take the first one." So she turned and began to retrace her steps—the two gentlemen accompanying her. But when they got back they found that the one which Mr. Parkman had first selected was gone. It had been taken by another customer.
Mr. George was now entirely out of patience; but he controlled himself sufficiently to suppress all outward manifestation of it, only saying that he believed he would not wait any longer.
"I will go down to the river," said he, "and take a boat, and when you get a carriage you can go by land. I will wait for you at the entrance to the tunnel."
So he went away; and as soon as he turned the corner of the street he snapped his fingers and nodded his head with the air of a man who has just made a very lucky escape.
"I thank my stars," said he to himself, "that I have not got such a lady as that to take care of. Handsome as she is, I would not have her for a travelling companion on any account whatever."
It was from having witnessed several such exhibitions of character as this that Mr. George had expressed himself so strongly to Rollo on the subject of joining Mr. Parkman and his wife in making the tour of Holland.
But notwithstanding Mr. George's determination that he would not travel in company with such a lady, it seemed to be decreed that he should do so, for he left London about a week after this to go to Holland with Rollo alone; and though he postponed setting out for several days, so as to allow Mr. and Mrs. Parkman time to get well under way before them, he happened to fall in with them several times in the course of the journey. The first time that he met with them was in crossing the Straits of Dover.
There are several ways by which a person may go to Holland from London. The cheapest is to take a steamer, by which means you go down the Thames, and thence pass directly across the German Ocean to the coast of Holland. But that makes quite a little voyage by sea, during which almost all persons are subject to a very disagreeable kind of sickness, on account of the small size of the steamers, and the short tossing motion of the sea that almost always prevails in the waters that lie around Great Britain.
So Mr. George and Rollo, who neither of them liked to be seasick, determined to go another way. They concluded to go down by railway to Dover, and then to go to Calais across the strait, where the passage is the shortest. Mr. and Mrs. Parkman had set off several days before them, and Mr. George supposed that by this time they were far on their way towards Holland. But they had been delayed by Mrs. Parkman's desire to go to Brighton, which is a great watering place on the coast, not far from Dover. There Mr. and Mrs. Parkman had spent several days, and it so happened that in going from Brighton to Dover they met, at the junction, the train that was bringing Mr. George and Rollo down from London; and thus, though both parties were unconscious of the fact, they were travelling along towards Dover, after leaving the junction, in the same train, and when they stepped out of the carriages, upon the Dover platform, there they were all together.
Mr. Parkman and Mr. George were very glad to see each other; and while they were shaking hands with each other, and making mutual explanations, Mrs. Parkman went to the door of the station to see what sort of a place Dover was.
She saw some long piers extending out into the water, and a great many ships and steamers lying near them. The town lay along the shore, surrounding an inner harbor enclosed by the walls of the piers. Behind the town were high cliffs, and an elevated plain above, on which a great number of tents were pitched. It was the encampment of an army. A little way along the shore a vast promontory was seen, crowned by an ancient and venerable looking castle, and terminated by a range of lofty and perpendicular cliffs of chalk towards the sea.
"What a romantic place!" said Mrs. Parkman to herself. "It is just such a place as I like. I'll make William stay here to-day."
Just then she heard her husband's voice calling to her.
She turned and saw her husband beckoning to her. He was standing with Mr. George and Rollo near the luggage van, as they call it in England, while the railway porters were taking out the luggage.
Mrs. Parkman walked towards the place.
"They say, Louise," said Mr. Parkman, "that it is time for us to go on board the boat. She is going to sail immediately."
"Ah! but, William," said Mrs. Parkman, "let us stay here a little while. Dover is such a romantic looking place."
"Very well," said Mr. Parkman, "we will stay if you like. Are you going to stay, Mr. George?"
"Yes," said Mr. George; "Rollo and I were going to stay till this afternoon. There is a boat to cross at four o'clock."
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning when this conversation occurred. The porter stood by all the time with Mr. Parkman's two trunks in his charge, waiting to have it decided when they were to go.
"I should think, sir," said the porter, "that as you have a lady with you, you would find this boat better. This is a tidal steamer, but the four o'clock is the mail boat, and it will be pretty rough this afternoon. There is a breeze coming up."
"O, never mind the breeze," said Mrs. Parkman. "We are used to it, porter. We've crossed the Atlantic."
"Very well," said Mr. Parkman, "we will wait until four o'clock."
"Then I'll put the luggage in the luggage room," said the porter, "and take it to the boat at half past three. That's the way to the hotel," he added, pointing the way.
There are several very nice hotels in Dover, but the one which the porter referred to is one of the finest and most beautifully situated hotels in Europe. It is a large and handsome edifice, built in modern style, and it stands close to the railroad station, on a point of land overlooking the sea. The coffee room, which, unlike other English coffee rooms, is used by both ladies and gentlemen, is a very spacious and splendidly decorated apartment, with large windows on three sides of it, overlooking the sea and the neighboring coasts. Each sash of these windows is glazed with one single pane of plate glass, so that whether they are shut or open there is nothing to intercept the view. The room is furnished with a great number of tables, each large enough to accommodate parties of four or six, and all, except two or three in different parts of the room that are reserved for reading and writing, are covered with neat white table cloths, and other preparations more or less advanced for breakfasts or dinners that may have been ordered, while at almost all times of the day, a greater or less number of them are occupied by parties of tourists, their bags and baskets lying on the neighboring chairs.
It was into this room, so occupied, that our travellers were ushered as they walked from the station into the hotel.
Mrs. Parkman walked forward, and took her seat near a window. The gentlemen attended her.
"What a magnificent view!" said she.
The view was indeed magnificent. Across the water was to be seen the coast of France, lying like a low cloud close to the horizon. Ships, and steamers, and fish boats, and every other sort of craft were seen plying to and fro over the water,—some going out, others coming in. Through one of the windows in the end of the room, Mrs. Parkman could see the castle crowning its bold and lofty promontory, and the perpendicular cliffs of chalk, with the sea beating against the base of them below. Through the opposite window, which of course was at the other end of the room, the view extended down the coast for a great distance, showing point after point, and headland after headland, in dim perspective—with a long line of surf rolling incessantly upon the beach, which seemed, in that direction, interminable.
After looking for some time at the view from the windows, Mrs. Parkman turned to observe the company in the room, and to watch the several parties of new comers as they successively entered. She wished to see if there were any young brides among them. While she was thus engaged, her husband selected a table that was vacant, and ordered breakfast. Mr. George and Rollo did the same at another table near.
While Mr. George and Rollo were at the table drinking their coffee, Mr. George asked Rollo what he supposed the porter meant by saying that the eleven o'clock boat was a tidal boat.
"I know," said Rollo. "I read it in the guide book. The tidal steamers go at high tide, or nearly high tide, and if you go in them you embark from the pier on one side, and you land at the pier on the other. But the mail steamers go at a regular hour every day, and then when it happens to be low tide, they cannot get to the pier, and the passengers have to land in small boats. That is what the porter meant when he said that it would not be pleasant for a lady to go in the mail steamer. It is very unpleasant for ladies to be landed in small boats when the weather is rough."
"I don't believe that Mrs. Parkman understood it," said Mr. George.
"Nor I either," said Rollo.
"I presume she thought," added Mr. George, "that when the porter spoke about the rough sea, he only referred to the motion of the steamer in going over."
"Yes," said Rollo, "but what he really meant was, that it would be bad for her to get down from the steamer into the small boat at the landing. I am afraid that she will not like it, though I think that it will be real good fun."
"Very likely it will be fun for you," said Mr. George.
"I would a great deal rather go across in a mail steamer at low tide than in any other way," said Rollo.
THE MAIL STEAMER.
Rollo's explanation in respect to the mail steamer was correct. As has before been stated in some one or other of the volumes of this series, the northern coast of France is low, and the shore is shelving for almost the whole extent of it, and there are scarcely any good harbors. Immense sandy beaches extend along the coast, sloping so gradually outward, that when the tide goes down the sands are left bare for miles and miles towards the sea. The only way by which harbors can be made on such a shore is to find some place where a creek or small river flows into the sea, and then walling in the channel at the mouth of the creek, so as to prevent it being choked up by sand. In this way a passage is secured, by which, when the tide is high, pretty good sized vessels can get in; but, after all that they can do in such a case, they cannot make a harbor which can be entered at low tide. When the tide is out, nothing is left between the two piers, which form the borders of the channel, but muddy flats, with a small, sluggish stream, scarcely deep enough to float a jolly boat, slowly meandering in the midst of them towards the sea.
The harbor of California is such a harbor as this. Accordingly, in case a steamer arrives there when the tide is down, there is no other way but for her to anchor in the offing until it rises again; and the passengers, if they wish to go ashore, must clamber down the side of the vessel into a small boat, and be pulled ashore by the oarsmen. In smooth weather this is very easily done. But in rough weather, when both steamer and boat are pitching and tossing violently up and down upon the waves, it is not very easy or agreeable, especially for timid ladies.
After finishing their breakfast, Mr. George and Rollo went out, and they rambled about the town until the time drew near for the sailing of the boat. Then they went to the station for the luggage, and having engaged a porter to take it to the boat, they followed him down to the pier till they came to the place where the boat was lying. After seeing the trunk put on board they went on board themselves. A short time afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Parkman came.
The steamer, like all the others which ply between the coasts of France and England, was quite small, and the passengers were very few. There were only four or five ladies, and not far from the same number of gentlemen. As the passage was only expected to occupy about two hours, the passengers did not go below, but arranged themselves on seats upon the deck—some along the sides of the deck by the bulwarks, and some near the centre, around a sort of house built over the passage way which led down into the cabin.
Soon after Mr. and Mrs. Parkman came on board, Mr. Parkman said to his wife,—
"Now, Louise, my dear, you will be less likely to be sick if you get some good place where you can take a reclining posture, and so remain pretty still until we get over."
"O, I shall not be sick," said she. "I am not at all afraid."
So she began walking about the deck with an unconcerned and careless air, as if she had been an old sailor.
Pretty soon Mr. George saw two other ladies coming, with their husbands, over the plank. The countenances of these ladies were very pleasing, and there was a quiet gentleness in their air and manner which impressed Mr. George very strongly in their favor.
As soon as they reached the deck, and while their husbands were attending to the disposal of the luggage, they began to look for seats.
"We will get into the most comfortable position we can," said one of them, "and keep still till we get nearly across."
"Yes," said the other, "that will be the safest."
So they chose good seats near the companion way, and sat down there, and their husbands brought them carpet bags to put their feet upon.
In about fifteen minutes after this the steamer put off from the pier, and commenced her voyage. She very soon began to rise and fall over the waves, with a short, uneasy motion, which was very disagreeable. The passengers, however, all remained still in the places which they had severally chosen,—some reading, others lying quiet with their eyes closed, as if they were trying to go to sleep.
Mr. Parkman himself tried to do this, but his wife would not leave him in peace. She came to him continually to inquire about this or that, or to ask him to look at some vessel that was coming in sight, or at some view on the shore. All this time the wind, and the consequent motion of the steamer, increased. Scudding clouds were seen flitting across the sky, from which there descended now and then misty showers of rain. These clouds gradually became more frequent and more dense, until at length the whole eastern sky was involved in one dense mass of threatening vapor.
It began to grow dark, too. The specified time for sailing was four o'clock; but there was a delay for the mails, and it was full half past four before the steamer had left the pier. And now, before she began to draw near the French coast, it was nearly half past six. At length the coast began slowly to appear. Its outline was dimly discerned among the misty clouds.
Long before this time, however, Mrs. Parkman had become quite sick. She first began to feel dizzy, and then she turned pale, and finally she came and sat down by her husband, and leaned her head upon his shoulder.
She had been sitting in this posture for nearly half an hour, when at length she seemed to feel better, and she raised her head again.
"Are we not nearly there?" said she.
"Yes," said her husband. "The lighthouse is right ahead, and the ends of the piers. In ten minutes more we shall be going in between them, and then all the trouble will be over."
Rollo and Mr. George were at this time near the bows. They had gone there to look forward, in order to get as early a glimpse as possible of the boats that they knew were to be expected to come out from the pier as soon as the steamer should draw nigh.
"Here they come!" said Rollo, at length.
"Yes," said Mr. George. "I see them."
It was so nearly dark that the boats could not be seen distinctly. Indeed there was not much to be discerned but a black moving mass, slowly coming out from under the walls of the pier.
The steamer had now nearly reached the ground where she was to anchor, and so the seamen on the forecastle took in the foresail, which had been spread during the voyage, and the helmsman put down the helm. The head of the steamer then slowly came round till it pointed in a direction parallel to the shore. This carried the boats and the pier somewhat out of view from the place where Mr. George and Rollo had been standing.
"Now we can see them better aft," said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George, "and they will board us aft too; so we had better be there ready."
Accordingly Mr. George and Rollo went aft again, and approached the gangway on the side where they supposed the boats would come.
In going there they passed round first on the other side of the entrance to the cabin, where the two ladies were sitting that have already been described. As they went by one of the gentlemen came to them and said,—
"Keep up your courage a few minutes longer. We are very near the pier. In ten minutes we shall be in smooth water, and all will be over."
The ladies seemed much relieved and rejoiced to hear this, and then the gentleman went with Mr. George and Rollo towards the gangway, in order that they might make further observations. He was joined there a moment afterwards by his companion. Now, these gentlemen, as it happened, knew nothing about the plan of landing in boats. They had made no particular inquiry at Dover in respect to the steamer that they had come in, but took it for granted that she would go into the harbor as usual, and land the passengers at the pier. Their attention had just been attracted to the singular movement of the steamer, when Rollo and Mr. George came up.
"What!" said one of them, speaking with a tone of surprise, and looking about eagerly over the water. "We are coming to, Mr. Waldo. What can that mean?"
Just then the little fleet of boats, six or seven in number, began to come into view from where the gentlemen stood. They were dimly seen at a distance, and looked like long, black animals, slowly advancing over the dark surface of the water, and struggling fearfully with the waves.
"What boats can those be?" said Mr. Waldo, beginning to look a little alarmed.
He was alarmed not for himself, but for his wife, who was very frail and delicate in health, and ill fitted to bear any unusual exposure.
"I am sure I cannot imagine," replied the other.
"It looks marvellously as if they were coming out for us," said Mr. Waldo.
"Can it be possible, Mr. Albert, that we are to land in boats such a night as this?" continued he.
"It looks like it," replied the other. "Yes, they are really coming here."
The boats were now seen evidently advancing towards the steamer. They came on in a line, struggling fearfully with the waves.
"They look like spectres of boats," said Mr. George to Rollo.
Mr. Albert now went round to the other side of the companion way, to the place where the two ladies were sitting.
"Ladies," said he, "I am very sorry to say that we shall be obliged to land in boats."
"In boats!" said the ladies, surprised.
"Yes," said Mr. Albert, "the tide is out, and I suppose we cannot go into port. The steamer has come to, and the boats are coming alongside."
The ladies looked out over the dark and stormy water with an emotion of fear, but they did not say a word.
"There is no help for it," continued the gentleman; "and you have nothing to do but to resign yourselves passively to whatever comes. If we had known that this steamer would not go into port, we would not have come in her; but now that we are here we must go through."
"Very well," said the ladies. "Let us know when the boat for us is ready."
Mr. Albert then returned to the gangway, where Rollo and Mr. George were standing. The foremost boat had come alongside, and the seamen were throwing the mail bags into it. When the mails were all safely stowed in the boat, some of the passengers that stood near by were called upon to follow. Mr. George and Rollo, being near, were among those thus called upon.
"Wait a moment," said Mr. George to Rollo, in a low tone. "Let a few of the others go first, that we may see how they manage it."
It proved to be rather difficult to manage it; for both the steamer and the boat were rocking and tossing violently on the waves, and as their respective motions did not at all correspond, they thumped against each other continually, as the boat rose and fell up and down the side of the steamer in a fearful manner. It was dark too, and the wind was blowing fresh, which added to the frightfulness of the scene.
A crowd of people stood about the gangway. Some of these people were passengers waiting to go down, and others, officers of the ship, to help them. The seamen in the boat below were all on the alert too, some employed in keeping the boat off from the side of the ship, in order to prevent her being stove or swamped, while others stood on each side of the place where the passengers were to descend, with uplifted arms, ready to seize and hold them when they came down.
There was a little flight of steps hanging down the side of the steamer, with ropes on each side of it in lieu of a balustrade. The passenger who was to embark was directed to turn round and begin to go down these steps backward, and then, when the sea lifted the boat so that the seamen on board could seize hold of him, they all cried out vociferously, "LET GO!" and at the same moment a strong sailor grasped him around the waist, brought him down into the bottom of the boat in a very safe, though extremely unceremonious manner.
After several gentlemen and one lady had thus been put into the boat, amid a great deal of calling and shouting, and many exclamations of surprise and terror, the officer at the gangway turned to Mr. George, saying,—
There was no time to stop to talk; so Mr. George stepped forward, saying to Rollo as he went, "Come right on directly after me;" and in a moment more he was seized by the man, and whirled down into the boat, he scarcely knew how. Immediately after he was in, there came some unusually heavy seas, and the steamer and the boat thumped together so violently that all the efforts of the seamen seemed to be required to keep them apart.
"Push off!" said the officer.
"Here, stop! I want to go first," exclaimed Rollo.
"No more in this boat," said the officer. "Push off!"
"Never mind," said Rollo, calling out to Mr. George, "I'll come by and by."
"All right," said Mr. George.
By this time the boat had got clear of the steamer, and she now began to move slowly onward, rising and falling on the waves, and struggling violently to make her way.
"I am glad they did not let me go," said Rollo. "I would rather stay and see the rest go first."
Another boat was now seen approaching, and Rollo stepped back a little to make way for the people that were to go in it, when he heard Mrs. Parkman's voice, in tones of great anxiety and terror, saying to her husband,—
"I cannot go ashore in a boat in that way, William. I cannot possibly, and I will not!"
"Why, Louise," said her husband, "what else can we do?"
"I'll wait till the steamer goes into port, if I have to wait till midnight," replied Mrs. Parkman positively. "It is a shame! Such disgraceful management! Could not they find out how the tide would be here before they left Dover?"
"Yes," replied Mr. Parkman. "Of course they knew perfectly well how the tide would be."
"Then why did not they leave at such an hour as to make it right for landing here?"
"There are boats every day," said Mr. Parkman, "which leave at the right time for that, and most passengers take them. But the mails must come across at regular hours, whether the tide serves or not, and boats must come to bring the mails, and they, of course, allow passengers to come in these boats too, if they choose. We surely cannot complain of that."
"Then they ought to have told us how it was," said Mrs. Parkman. "I think it is a shameful deception, to bring us over in this way, and not let us know any thing about it."
"But they did tell us," said Mr. Parkman. "Do not you recollect that the porter at the station told us that this was a mail boat, and that it would not be pleasant for a lady."
"But I did not know," persisted Mrs. Parkman, "that he meant that we should have to land in this way. He did not tell us any thing about that."
"He told us that it was a mail boat, and he meant by that to tell us that we could not land at the pier. It is true, we did not understand him fully, but that is because we come from a great distance, and do not understand the customs of the country. That is our misfortune. It was not the porter's fault."
"I don't think so at all," said Mrs. Parkman. "And you always take part against me in such things, and I think it is really unkind."
All this conversation went on in an under tone; but though there was a great deal of noise and confusion on every side, Rollo could hear it all. While he was listening to it,—or rather while he was hearing it, for he took no pains to listen,—the gentleman who had been talking with Mr. Waldo, and whom the latter had called Mr. Albert, went round to the two ladies who were waiting to be called, and said,—
"Now, ladies, the boat is ready. Follow me. Say nothing, but do just as you are told, and all will go well."
So the ladies came one after the other in among the crowd that gathered around the gangway, and there, before they could bring their faculties at all to comprehend any thing distinctly amid the bewildering confusion of the scene, they found their bags and shawls taken away from them, and they themselves turned round and gently forced to back down the steps of the ladder over the boiling surges, when, in a moment more, amid loud shouts of "LET GO!" they were seized by the sailors in the boat, and down they went, they knew not how, for a distance of many feet into the stern of the boat, where they suddenly found themselves seated, while the boat itself was rocking violently to and fro, and thumping against the side of the steamer in a frightful manner.
The officer, who had charge of the debarkation on the deck of the steamer above, immediately called to Mrs. Parkman.
"Come, madam!" said he.
"No," said she, "I can't possibly go ashore in that way."
"Then you will have to stay on board all night."
"Well, I'd rather stay on board all night," said she.
"And you will have to go back to Dover, madam," continued the officer, speaking in a very stern and hurried manner, "for the steamer is not going into the pier at all."
Then immediately turning to Rollo, he said, "Come, young man!"
So Rollo marched up to the gangway, and was in a moment whirled down into the boat, as the others had been. Immediately afterwards the boat pushed off, and the sailors began to row, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Parkman on board the steamer. How they were to get to the shore Rollo did not know.
Rollo began to look about over the water. It had become almost entirely dark, and though the moon, which was full, had, as it happened, broken out through the clouds a short time before, when they were getting into the boats, she had now become obscured again, and every thing seemed enveloped in deep gloom. Still Rollo could see at a short distance before him the other boats slowly making their way over the wild and stormy water. He could also see the ends of the piers dimly defined in the misty air, and the tall lighthouse beyond, with a bright light burning in the lantern at the top of it.
"We shall only be a few minutes, now," said one of the gentlemen. "It is not far to the piers."
The boat went on, pitching and tossing over the waves, with her head towards the piers. The pilot who steered the boat called out continually to the oarsmen, and the oarsmen shouted back to him; but nobody could understand such sailor language as they used. At length, on looking forward again, Rollo saw that the boats before him, instead of going on in a line towards the land, were slowly scattering in all directions, and that their own boat, instead of heading towards the pier as at first, gradually turned round, and seemed to be going along in a direction parallel to the coast, as the steamer had done.
"What!" exclaimed Mr. Albert, on observing this, "we are not going towards the piers. Where can we be going?"
The other gentleman shook his head, and said he did not know.
The ladies remained quietly in their places. There was evidently nothing for them to do, and so they concluded, very sensibly, to do nothing.
The boat slowly turned her head round, all the time pitching and tossing violently on the billows, until finally she was directed almost towards the steamer again.
"What can be the matter?" asked one of the gentlemen, addressing the other. "We are not heading towards the shore." Then turning towards the pilot, he said to him,—
"What is the matter? Why cannot we go in?"
The pilot, who spoke English very imperfectly, answered, "It is a bar. The water is not enough."
"There is a bar," said the gentleman, "outside the entrance to the harbor, and the water is not deep enough even for these boats to go over. We can see it."
Rollo and the others looked in the direction where the gentleman pointed, and he could see a long, white line formed by the breakers on the bar, extending each way as far as the eye could reach along the shore. Beyond were to be dimly seen the heads of the piers, and a low line of the coast on either hand, with the lighthouse beyond, towering high into the air, and a bright and steady light beaming from the summit of it.
"I hope the tide is not going down," said the gentleman, "for in that case we may have to wait here half the night."
"Is the tide going down, or coming up?" he said, turning again to the pilot.
"It will come up. The tide will come up," answered the pilot.
"What does he say?" asked one of the ladies in a whisper.
"He says that the tide will come up," replied the gentleman. "Whether he means it is coming up now, or that it will come up some time or other, I do not know. We have nothing to do but to remain quiet, and await the result."
The clouds had been for some time growing darker and darker, and now it began to rain. So the gentlemen took out their umbrellas and spread them, and the party huddled together in the bottom of the boat, and sheltered themselves there as well as they could from the wind and rain. They invited Rollo to come under the umbrellas too, but he said that the rain would not hurt his cap, and he preferred to sit where he could look out and see what they would do.
"Very well," said one of the gentlemen. "Tell us, from time to time, how we get along."
So Rollo watched the manoeuvring of the boat, and reported, from time to time, the progress that she was making. It was not very easy for him to make himself heard, on account of the noise of the winds and waves, and the continual vociferations of the pilot and the seamen.
"We are headed now," said he, "right away from the shore. We are pointed towards the steamer. I can just see her, working up and down in the offing.
"Now the men are backing water," he continued. "We are going stern foremost towards the bar. I believe they are going to try to back her over."
The boat now rapidly approached the line of breakers, moving stern foremost. The roar of the surf sounded nearer and nearer. At length the ladies and gentlemen under the umbrellas looked out, and they saw themselves in the midst of rolling billows of foam, on which the boat rose and fell like a bubble. Presently they could feel her thump upon the bottom. The next wave lifted her up and carried her towards the shore, and then subsiding, brought her down again with another thump upon the sand. The pilot shouted out new orders to the seamen. They immediately began to pull forward with their oars. He had found that the water was yet too shallow on the bar, and that it would be impossible to pass over. So the sailors were pulling the boat out to sea again.
The ladies were, of course, somewhat alarmed while the boat was thumping on the bar, and the boiling surges were roaring so frightfully around them; but they said nothing. They knew that they had nothing to do, and so they remained quiet.
"We are clear of the bar, now," said Rollo, continuing his report. "I can see the breakers in a long line before us, but we are clear of them. Now the sailors are getting out the anchor. I can see a number of the other boats that are at anchor already."
The anchor, or rather the grapnel which served as an anchor, was now thrown overboard, and the boat came to, head to the wind. There she lay, pitching and tossing very uneasily on the sea. The other boats were seen lying in similar situations at different distances. One was very near; so near, that instead of anchoring herself, the seamen threw a rope from her on board the boat where Rollo was, and so held on by her, instead of anchoring herself. In this situation the whole fleet of boats remained for nearly an hour. Rollo kept a good lookout all the time, watching for the first indications of any attempt to move.
At length he heard a fresh command given by the pilot, in language that he could not understand; but the sailors at the bows immediately began to take in the anchor.
"They are raising the anchor," said he. "Now we are going to try it again. There is one boat gone already. She is just coming to the bar. She is now just in the breakers. I can see the white foam all around her. She is going in. Now she is over. I can see the whole line of foam this side of her. Our boat will be there very soon."
In a very few minutes more the boat entered the surf, and soon began to thump as before at every rise and fall of the seas. But as each successive wave came up, she was lifted and carried farther over the bar, and at last came to deep water on the other side.
"It is all over now," said one of the gentlemen, "and, besides, it has stopped raining." So he rose from his place and shut the umbrella. The ladies looked around, and to their great joy saw that they were just entering between the ends of the piers. The passage way was not very wide, and the piers rose like high walls on each side of it; but the water was calm and smooth within, and the boats glided along one after another in a row, in a very calm and peaceful manner. At length they reached the landing stairs, which were built curiously within the pier, among the piles and timbers, and there they all safely disembarked.
On reaching the top of the stairs, Rollo found Mr. George waiting for him.
"Uncle George," said Rollo, "here I am."
"Have you had a good time?" asked Mr. George.
"Yes," said Rollo, "excellent."
"And what became of Mr. and Mrs. Parkman?"
"I don't know," said Rollo; "I left them on board the steamer. She declared that she would not come in a small boat."
"You and I," said Mr. George, "will go off to-morrow morning by the first train, and go straight to Holland as fast as we can, so as to get out of their way."
"Well," said Rollo. "Though I don't care much about it either way."
Mr. George, however, carried his plan into effect. The next day they went to Antwerp; and on the day following they crossed the Belgian frontier, and entered Holland.
Rollo and Mr. George went into Holland by the railway. It was a long time before Rollo learned that in travelling from one European country to another, he was not to expect any visible line of demarcation to show the frontier. Boys at school, in studying the shape and conformation of different countries on the map, and seeing them marked by distinct colored boundaries, are very apt to imagine that they will see something, when travelling from one country to another, to show them by visible signs when they pass the frontier.
But there is nothing of the kind. The green fields, the groves, the farmhouse, the succession of villages continues unchanged as you travel, so that, as you whirl along in the railway carriage, there is nothing to warn you of the change, except the custom house stations, where the passports of travellers are called for, and the baggage is examined.
"Uncle George," said Rollo, after looking out of the window at a place where the train stopped, twenty or thirty miles from Antwerp, "I think we are coming to the frontier."
"Why so?" asked Mr. George.
"Because the Belgian custom house is at this station, and the next will be the Dutch custom house."
Rollo knew that this was the Belgian custom house by seeing the word DOUANE over one of the doors of the station, and under it the words VISITE DES BAGAGES, which means examination of baggage. There were besides a great many soldiers standing about, which was another indication.
"How do you know that it is the Belgian custom house?" asked Mr. George.
"Because all these soldiers are in the Belgian uniform," said he. "I know the Belgian uniform. I don't know the Dutch uniform, but I suppose I shall see it at the next station."
Rollo was perfectly right in his calculations. The last station on the line of the railway in Belgium was the frontier station for Belgium, and here travellers, coming from Holland, were called upon to show their passports, and to have their baggage examined. In the same manner the first station beyond, which was the first one in Holland, was the frontier station for that country, and there passengers going from Belgium into Holland were stopped and examined in the same way.
After going on a few miles from the Belgium station, the whistle blew and the train began to stop.
"Here we are!" said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George; "and now comes the time of trial for the musical box."
Rollo had bought a musical box at Antwerp, and he had some fears lest he might be obliged to pay a duty upon it, in going into Holland. Mr. George had told him that he thought there was some danger, but Rollo concluded that he would take the risk.
"They have no business to make me pay duty upon it," said he to Mr. George.
"Why not?" asked Mr. George.
"Because it is not for merchandise," said Rollo. "It is not for sale. I have bought it for my own use alone."
"That has nothing to do with it," said Mr. George.
"Yes it has, a great deal to do with it," replied Rollo.
There might have been quite a spirited discussion between Mr. George and Rollo, on this old and knotty question, over which tourists in Europe are continually stumbling, had not the train stopped. The moment that the motion ceased, the doors of all the carriages were opened, and a man passed along the line calling out in French,—
"Gentlemen and ladies will all descend here, for the examination of passports and baggage."
Mr. George and Rollo had no baggage, except a valise which they carried with them in the carriage. Mr. George took this valise up and stepped down upon the platform.
"Now, Rollo," said Mr. George, "if they find your musical box and charge duty upon it, pay it like a man."
"Yes," said Rollo, "I will."
"And don't get up a quarrel with the custom house officer on the subject," continued Mr. George, "for he has the whole military force of the kingdom of Holland at his command, and what he says is to be done, in this territory, must be done."
So saying, Mr. George, valise in hand, followed the crowd of passengers through a door, over which was inscribed the Dutch word for baggage. In the centre of this room there was a sort of low counter, enclosing a sort of oblong square. Within the square were a number of custom house officers, ready to examine the baggage which the porters and the passengers were bringing in, and laying upon the counter, all around the four sides of the square.
Mr. George brought up his valise, and placed it on the counter. A custom house officer, who had just examined and marked some other parcels, turned to Mr. George's just as he had unlocked and opened it.
"Have you any thing to declare?" said the officer.
"Nothing, sir," said Mr. George.
The officer immediately shut the valise, and marked it on the back with a piece of chalk, and Mr. George locked it and took it away.
"Are you through?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George.
Mr. George then took the valise and followed a crowd of passengers, who were going through a door at the end of the room opposite to where they came in. There was an officer in uniform on each side of this door. These officers examined every bag, valise, or parcel that the passengers had in their hands, to see if they had been marked by the examiners, and as fast as they found that they were marked, they let them pass.
Following this company, Mr. George and Rollo came soon to another small room, where a man was sitting behind a desk, examining the passports of the passengers and stamping them. Mr. George waited a moment until it came his turn, and then handed his passport too. The officer looked at it, and then stamped an impression from a sort of seal on one corner of it. He also wrote Mr. George's and Rollo's name in a big book, copying them for this purpose from the passport.
He then handed the passport back again, and Mr. George and Rollo went out, passing by a soldier who guarded the door. They found themselves now on the railway platform.
"Now," said Rollo, "I suppose that we may go and take our seats again."
"Yes," said Mr. George. "We are fairly entered within the dominions of his majesty the king of Holland."
"And no duty to pay on my music box," said Rollo.
Rollo took a seat by a window where he could look out as the train went on, and see, as he said, how Holland looked. The country was one immense and boundless plain, and there were no fences or other close enclosures of any kind. And yet the face of it was so endlessly varied with rows of trees, groves, farm houses, gardens, wind mills, roads, and other elements of rural scenery, that Rollo found it extremely beautiful. The fields were very green where grass was growing, and the foliage of the trees, and of the little ornamental hedges that were seen here and there adorning the grounds of the farm houses, was very rich and full. As Rollo looked out at the window, a continued succession of the most bright and beautiful pictures passed rapidly before his eyes, like those of a gayly painted panorama, and they all called forth from him continually repeated exclamations of delight. Mr. George sat at his window enjoying the scene perhaps quite as much as Rollo did, though he was much less ardent in expressing his admiration.
"See these roads, uncle George," said Rollo; "they run along on the tops of the embankment like railroads. Are those dikes?"
"No," said Mr. George. "The dikes are built along the margin of the sea, and along the banks of rivers and canals, to take the water out. These are embankments for the roads, to raise them up and keep them dry."
There were rows of trees on the sides of these raised roads, which formed beautiful avenues to shelter the carriage way from the sun. These avenues could sometimes be seen stretching for miles across the country.
"Now, pretty soon," said Rollo, "we shall come to the water, and then we shall take a steamboat."
"Then we do not go all the way by the train," said Mr. George.
"No," said Rollo. "The railroad stops at a place called Moerdyk, and there we take a steamer and go along some of the rivers.
"But I can't find out by the map exactly how we are to go," he continued, "because there are so many rivers."
Rollo had found, by the map, that the country all about Rotterdam was intersected by a complete network of creeks and rivers. This system was connected on the land side with the waters of the Rhine, by the immense multitude of branches into which that river divides itself towards its mouth, and on the other side by innumerable creeks and inlets coming in from the sea. This network of channels is so extensive, and the water in the various branches of it is so deep, that ships and steamers can go at will all about the country. It would be as difficult to make a railroad over such a tract of mingled land and water as this, as it is easy to navigate a steamer through it; and, accordingly, the owners of the line had made arrangements for stopping the trains at Moerdyk, and then transferring the passengers to a steamer.
"I have great curiosity," said Rollo, "to see whether, when we come to the water, we shall go up to it, instead of down to it."
"Do you think that we shall go up to it?" asked Mr. George.
"I don't know," replied Rollo. "We do in some parts of Holland. In some places, according to what the guide book says, the land is twenty or thirty feet below the level of the water, and so when you come to the shore you go up an embankment, and there you find the water on the other side, nearly at the top of it."
When at length the train stopped at Moerdyk, the conductor called out from the platform that all the passengers would descend from the carriages to embark on board the steamer. Rollo was too much interested in making the change, and in hurrying Mr. George along so as to get a good seat in the steamer, to make any observation on the comparative level of the land and water. There was quite a little crowd of passengers to go on board; and as they walked along the pier towards the place where the steamer was lying, all loaded with as many bags, cloaks, umbrellas, or parcels of some sort, as they could carry, Rollo and Mr. George pressed on before them, Rollo leading the way. The steamer was a long and narrow boat, painted black, in the English fashion. There was no awning over the deck, and most of the passengers went below.
"I don't see what they are all going below for," said Rollo. "I should think that they would wish to stay on deck and see the scenery."
So Rollo chose a seat by the side of a small porch which was built upon the deck over the entrance to the cabin, and sat down immediately upon it, making room for Mr. George by his side. There was a little table before him, and he laid down his guide book and his great coat upon it.
"Now," said he, "this is good. We have got an excellent seat, and we will have a first rate time looking at Holland as we go along."
Just then a young man, dressed in a suit of gray, and with a spy glass hanging at his side, suspended by a strap from his shoulder, and with a young and pretty, but rather disdainful looking lady on his arm, came by.
"Now, Emily," said he, "which would you prefer, to sit here upon the deck or go below?"
"O George," said she, "let us go below. There's nothing to be seen on the deck. The country is every where flat and uninteresting."
"We might see the shores as we go along," suggested her husband.
"O, there's nothing to be seen along the shores," said she; "nothing but bulrushes and willows. We had better go below."
So Emily led George below.
"Rollo," said Mr. George, "if you would like to take a bet, I will bet you the prettiest Dutch toy that you can find in Amsterdam, that that is another Mrs. Parkman."
"I think it very likely she is," said Rollo. "But, uncle George, what do you think they have got down below? I've a great mind to go down and see."
"Very well," said Mr. George.
"And will you keep my place while I am gone?" asked Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George, "or you can put your cap in it to keep it."
So Rollo put his cap in his seat, and went down below. In a few minutes he returned, saying that there was a pretty little cabin down there, with small tables set out along the sides of it, and different parties of people getting ready for breakfast.
"It is rather late for breakfast," said Mr. George. "It is after twelve o'clock."
"Then perhaps they call it luncheon," said Rollo. "But I'd rather stay on deck. We might have something to eat here. Don't you think we could have it on this table?"
"Yes," replied Mr. George, "that is what the table is put here for."
"Well!" said Rollo, his eye brightening up at the idea.
"We can have it here, or we can wait and have it at the hotel in Rotterdam," said Mr. George. "You may decide. I'll do just as you say."
Rollo finally concluded to wait till they arrived at Rotterdam, and then to have a good dinner all by themselves at some table by a window in the hotel, and in the mean time to devote himself, while on board the steamer, to observing the shores of the river, or arm of the sea, whichever it might be, on which they were sailing.
The steamer had before this time set sail from the pier, and after backing out of a little sort of creek or branch where it had been moored, it entered a broad channel of deep water, and began rapidly to move along. The day was pleasant, and though the air was cool, Rollo and Mr. George were so well sheltered by the little porch by the side of which they were sitting, that they were very comfortable in all respects.
Before long the channel of water in which the steamer was sailing became more narrow, and the steamer passed nearer a bank, which Rollo soon perceived was formed by a dike.
"See, see! uncle George," said he. "There are the roofs of the houses over on the other side of the dike. We can just see the tops of them. The ground that the houses stand upon must be a great deal below the water."
"Yes," said Mr. George, "and see, there are the tops of the tall trees."
The dike was very regular in its form, and it was ornamented with two rows of trees along the top of it. There were seats here and there under the trees, and some of these seats had people sitting upon them, looking at the passing boats and steamers. The water was full of vessels of all kinds, coming and going, or lying at anchor. These vessels were all of very peculiar forms, being built in the Dutch style, and not painted, but only varnished, so as to show beautifully the natural color of the wood of which they were made. They had what Rollo called fins on each side, which were made to be taken up or let down into the water, first on one side and then on the other, as the vessel was on different tacks in beating against the wind.
Opposite to every place where there was a house over beyond the dike, there was a line of steps coming down the face of the dike on the hither side, towards the water, with a little pier, and a boat fastened to it, below. These little flights of steps, with the piers and the boats, and the seats under the trees on the top of the dike, and the roofs of the houses, and the tops of the trees beyond, all looked extremely pretty, and presented a succession of very peculiar and very charming scenes to Mr. George and Rollo as the steamer glided rapidly along the shore.
In some places the dike seemed to widen, so as to make room for houses upon the top of it. There were snug little taverns, where the captains and crews of the vessels that were sailing by could stop and refresh themselves, when wind or tide bound in their vessels, and now and then a shop or store of some kind, or a row of pretty, though very queer-looking, cottages. At one place there was a ferry landing. The ferry house, together with the various buildings appertaining to it, was on the top of the dike, and a large pier, with a snug and pretty basin by the side of it, below. There was a flight of stairs leading up from the pier to the ferry house, and also a winding road for carriages. At the time that the steamer went by this place, the ferry boat was just coming in with a carriage on board of it.
There were a great many wind mills here and there along the dike. Some were for pumping up water, some for sawing logs, and some for grinding grain. These wind mills were very large and exceedingly picturesque in their forms, and in the manner in which they were grouped with the other buildings connected with them. Rollo wished very much that he could stop and go on shore and visit some of these wind mills, so as to see how they looked inside.
At length the vessels and ships seemed to increase in numbers, and Mr. George said that he thought that they must be approaching a town. Rollo looked upon the map and found that there was a large town named Dort, laid down on the shores of the river or branch on which they were sailing.
"It is on the other side," said he. "Let us go and see."
So they both rose from their seats and went round to the other side of the boat, and there, there suddenly burst upon their view such a maze of masts, spires, roofs, and wind mills, all mingled together in promiscuous confusion, as was wonderful to behold. In the centre of the whole rose one enormous square tower, which seemed to belong to a cathedral.
This was Dort, or Dordrecht, as it is often called.
As the steamer glided rapidly along the shores, and Mr. George and Rollo attempted to look into the town, they saw not streets, but canals. Indeed, the whole place seemed just level with the surface of the water, and far in the interior of it the masts of ships and the roofs of the houses were mingled together in nearly equal proportion.
The steamer threaded its way among the fleets of boats and shipping that lay off the town, and at length came to a stop at a pier. The passengers destined for this place began to disembark. Mr. George and Rollo stood together on the deck, looking at the buildings which lined the quay, and wondering at the quaint and queer forms which every thing that they saw assumed.
"I should really like to go ashore here," said Mr. George, "and see what sort of a place it is."
"Let us do it, uncle George!" said Rollo, eagerly. "Let us do it!"
"Only we have paid to Rotterdam," said Mr. George.
"Never mind," said Rollo. "It will not make much difference."
But before Mr. George could make up his mind to go on shore, the exchange of passengers was effected, and the plank was pulled in, the ropes were cast off, and the steamer once more began to move swiftly along over the water.
"It is too late," said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George, "and on the whole it is better for us to go on."
In about an hour more the steamer began to draw near to Rotterdam. The approach to the town was indicated by the multitude of boats and vessels that were passing to and fro, and by the numbers of steamers and wind mills that lined respectively the margins of the water and of the land. The wind mills were prodigious in size. They towered high into the air like so many lighthouses; the tops of the sails, as Mr. George estimated, reached, as the vanes revolved, up to not less than one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet into the air. It was necessary to build them high, in order that the sails might not be becalmed by the houses.
At length the steamer stopped at a pier. Two policemen stood at the plank, as the passengers landed, and demanded their passports. Mr. George gave up his passport, as he was directed, and then he and Rollo got into a carriage and were driven to the hotel.
WALKS ABOUT ROTTERDAM.
The hotel where Mr. George and Rollo were set down was a very magnificent edifice standing on the quay opposite to a line of steamers. On entering it, both our travellers were struck with the spaciousness of the hall and of the staircase, and with the sumptuous appearance in general of the whole interior. They called for a chamber. The attendants, as they soon found, all understood English, so that there was no occasion at present to resort to the language of signs, as Mr. George had supposed might be necessary. In answer to Mr. George's request to be shown to a room, the servant showed him and Rollo a very large and lofty apartment, with immense windows in front looking down upon the pier. On the back side of the room were two single beds.
"This will do very well for us," said Mr. George.
"Will you dine at the table d'hote?" asked the waiter.
[Footnote 3: Pronounced tahble dote.]
The table d'hote is the public table.
"At what time is the table d'hote?" asked Mr. George.
"At half past four," said the waiter.
"No," said Mr. George, "we shall want to be out at that time. We will take something now as soon as we can have it. Can you give us a beefsteak?"
"Yes, sir," said the waiter.
"Very well. Give us a beefsteak and some coffee, and some bread and butter."
"Yes, sir," said the waiter. "Will you have two beefsteaks, or one beefsteak?"
"Two," said Rollo, in an under tone to Mr. George.
"Yes," said Mr. George, "and coffee for two, also."
So the waiter left the travellers in their room, and went down stairs. In about ten minutes Mr. George and Rollo went down too. At the foot of the grand staircase they turned into the dining room, where they saw several tables set, and at one of them, near a window, were the preparations for their meal.
The window looked out upon the quay, and Rollo could see the men at work getting out hogsheads and bales of goods from a steamer that was moored there. Besides looking across to the quay, Rollo could also look up and down the street without putting his head out of the window. The way in which he was enabled to do this, was by means of looking glasses placed outside. These looking glasses were attached to an iron frame, and they were placed in an inclined position, so as to reflect the whole length of the street in through the window. Thus a person sitting at his ease within the room, could look up and down the street, as well as across it, at his pleasure.
Rollo afterwards observed such looking glasses attached to the windows of almost all the houses in town.
The dinner was soon brought in, and Mr. George and Rollo ate it with excellent appetites. Just as they had finished their meal, a neatly-dressed young man came to the table and asked them if they wished for some one to show them about the town.
"Because," said he, "I am a valet de place, and I can take you at once to all the places of interest, and save you a great deal of time."
"How much do you ask to do it?" asked Mr. George.
"Five francs a day," said the man.
"That's right," said Mr. George. "That's the usual price. But we shall not want you, at least for this afternoon. We may want you to-morrow. We shall stay in town a day or two."
The young man said that he should be very happy to serve them if they should require his services, and then bowed and went away.
After having finished their meal, Mr. George and Rollo set out to take a ramble about the town by themselves.
"We will go in search of adventures," said Rollo.
"Yes," said Mr. George, "and if we lose our way, we shall be likely to have some adventures, for we cannot speak Dutch to inquire for it."
"Never mind," said Rollo, "I'm not afraid. We will be careful which way we go."
So they went out and took quite a long ramble through the town. The first aspect of the streets struck them with astonishment. The space was now more than half filled with docks and basins, and with canals in which ships and boats of every kind were moving to and fro. In fact almost every street consisted one half of canal, and one half of road way, so that in going through it you could have your choice of going in a boat or in a carriage. The water part of the streets was crowded densely with vessels, some of them of the largest size, for the water was so deep in the canals that the largest ships could go all about the town.
It was curious to observe the process of loading and unloading these vessels, opposite to the houses where the merchants who owned them lived. These houses were very large and handsome. The upper stories were used for the rooms of the merchant and his family, and the lower ones were for the storage of the goods. Thus a merchant could sit at his parlor window with his family about him, could look down upon his ship in the middle of the street before his house, and see the workmen unlading it and stowing the goods safely on his own premises, in the rooms below.
In some of the streets the canal was in the centre, and there was a road way along by the houses on each side. In others there was a road way only on one side, and the walls of the houses and stores rose up directly from the water's edge on the other. It was curious, in this case, to see the men in the upper stories of these stores, hoisting goods up from the vessels below by means of cranes and tackles projecting from the windows.
There was one arrangement in the streets which Rollo at first condemned, as decidedly objectionable in his mind, and that was, that the sidewalks were smooth and level with the pavement of the street, differing only from the street by being paved with bricks, while the road way was paved with stone.
"I think that that is a very foolish plan," said Rollo.
"I should not have expected so crude a remark as that from so old and experienced a traveller as you," said Mr. George.
"Why, uncle George," said Rollo. "It is plainly a great deal better to have the sidewalk raised a little, for that keeps the wheels of the carts and carriages from coming upon them. Besides, there ought to be a gutter."
"People that have never been away from home before," said Mr. George, "are very apt, when they first land in any strange country, and observe any strange or unusual way of doing things, or of making things, to condemn it at once, and say how much better the thing is in their country. But I thought that you had travelled enough to know better than that."
"How so?" asked Rollo.
"Why, you see that after people have travelled more, they get their ideas somewhat enlarged, and they learn that one way of doing things may be best in one country, and another in another, on account of some difference in the circumstances or the wants of the two countries. So, when they see any thing done in a new or unusual manner, they don't condemn it, or laugh at it, until they have had time to find out whether there may not be some good reason for it."
"But I don't see," said Rollo, "what possible good reason there can be for having the sidewalks made so that every cart that comes along can run over you."
"And because you don't in a moment see every reason, does that make it certain that there cannot be any?" said Mr. George.
"Why, no," replied Rollo.
"Then if you had travelled to much purpose," said Mr. George, "you would suspend your judgment until you had inquired."
It was not long before Rollo saw what the reason was for making the sidewalks in this way. Indeed, with a little reflection, he would probably have thought of it himself.
The object was to make it easy to wheel and convey the goods from the ships across to the warehouses. For, as the ships and boats go into almost all the streets in the town, goods have to be wheeled across every where, from the margin of the quay to the warehouses of the merchants, and a range of curbstones and gutter would make an obstacle that would be very much in the way.
Besides, contrary to Rollo's hastily formed opinion, there ought not to be any gutters in such a town as this, as far as the streets are perfectly level, from end to end; if gutters were made the water would not run in them. The only way to have the rain water carried off, is to form a gentle slope from the houses straight across the quay to the margin of the canal, and this requires that the connection between the sidewalk and the road way should be continuous and even. So that on every account the plan adopted in Rotterdam is the best for that town.
I advise all the readers of this book, whether old or young, if they have not yet had an opportunity to learn wisdom by actual experience in travelling, to remember the lesson that Rollo learned on this occasion; and whenever, in their future travels, they find any thing that appears unusual or strange, not to condemn it too soon, simply because it is different from what they have been accustomed to at home, but to wait till they have learned whether there may not be some good cause for the difference.
Rollo wished to stop continually, as he and his uncle walked along, to watch the operations of loading and unloading that were going on between the ships and the warehouses. At one place was a boat loaded with sails, which had apparently come from a sail maker's. The sails were rolled up in long rolls, and some people in a loft of a warehouse near were hoisting them up with tackles, and pulling them in at the windows.
At another place two porters were engaged wheeling something in wheelbarrows across from a slip to the warehouse, stopping by the way at a little platform to have every wheelbarrow load weighed. One of the porters wheeled the loads from the ship to the platform, and the other, after they were weighed, wheeled them to the warehouse. At the platform sat a man with a little desk before him and a big book upon it, in which he entered the weight of each load as it came. As soon as the load was weighed the warehouse porter would take it from the platform, wheel it across the street to the warehouse, empty it there, and then bring back the empty wheelbarrow and set it down by the side of the platform. In the mean time the ship porter would have wheeled another load up to the platform from the ship, and by the time that the warehouse porter had come back, it would be weighed and all ready for him. The ship porter, when he brought the loaded wheelbarrow, would take back to the ship the empty one. The whole operation went on with so much regularity and system, and it worked so well in keeping all the men employed all the time, without either having to wait at all for the other, that it was a pleasure to witness it.