rijsoord banner
(NB. met Rijsdijk wordt Rijsoord bedoeld; Vrouw van Waaldorp = van Warendorp)
(pagina 162)



Katty telegraphed her sister next morning that
she was in dire need of help . . . her Flemish Hos-
tel short handed, and complications at Rijsdijk, the
Holland end of the work. Could Crystal come to
town for a few days?

Telegram in hand ... at moments like this one
did not bless the absence of a telephone as one did
at other times . . . the lady of the Pond House
walked up and down her orchard paths. She hated
to leave this peaceful Oxfordshire even for two
days. And perhaps Katty's telegram meant that
one of them must cross to Holland. That wouldn't
be so bad. She loved her Holland, darling little
country !

She and Katty, Daphne with them, had once spent
a summer in an unspoiled little village near Dor-
drecht. Katty, who did everything easily, had
learned Dutch as a joke. Daphne, as serious as
Katty was not, had learned it too, far more cor-
rectly, but with none of Katty's lively volubility.
That knowledge had been invaluable during the war,
when Katty had volunteered her services as Flem-
ish interpreter (Dutch and Flemish being practi-
cally the same), and afterwards, when she had es-

(pagina 163)

tablished a Flemish Hostel for the housing of such
unfortunates as could not return to Flanders.
Daphne had assisted her till her convent life began.
Crystal had helped with the French speaking refu-

Thus it happened that Crystal left before the post
was in, and so missed Horace's letter. Her surmise
was right, Katty had gone imexpectedly to Holland.
There was much to do at the Hostel, where Crystal's
sense of mothering, of hospitality, of generosity
always rose in a flood that Katty said would pau-
perise the American continent if ever it reached
there. And having restored the regular workings
of the place she returned to the Pond House.

It had seemed curious to get no word from Hor-
ace. Of course she had telephoned to his hotel, to
learn that Mr. Dimock had been called unexpectedly
to Paris ... "a three days' trip on business," the
clerk informed her. But of course she would find
letters from him at the Pond House, and went down
on the late train Saturday evening.

The little house under its gigantic trees was dark
except for a tiny night light in the low square hall.
Yes, there lay Horace's letter by the light; the be-
loved handwriting was like a tender welcome. She
would have a look at the children first, slip into a
dressing gown, and then on the couch in the cosy
drawing room where he had lain so many wonderful
evenings while she read to him, she would enjoy
his letter, evidently a long, full one, in delicious

She lighted the big softly shaded oil lamp . . .

(pagina 260)

They hurried by Tube to the Hostel. On the
way Daphne read van den Poel's letter:

"Simonne ! our dear daughter.

"Now is there by good luck" (ran its laboured
Flemish) "a cousin from my mother in Holland, by
Dordrecht. He is a good man, very poor, married
with a Hollander, and many children. It is a pity
you must leave Engeland. We hear that all is good
in Engeland. Much to eat. Here is there little. But
your mother is very sick. Jan and Piet can not take
good care of your mother. And Jan was shot by a
soldier. In the leg. Your mother asks always for
Simonne. My cousin is also Cornelis van den Poel,
so as I. He will help you to come to Alost. The
village is Rijsdijk. The father from Cornelis is
Pieter, but Pieter is dead. Everybody in Rijsdijk
will know Pieter.


(pagina 261)

"Be careful, Simonne. And come quickly. Your
father. C. v. d. Poel."

'And now it is yet two days before I can start!"
mourned Simonne. "My mother is very sick, I
know it. My father will not write if she is not
very sick. We do not like to write in Alost. But
when I come to Rijsdijk I can walk quickly to the
boat, and the boat will bring me to another cousin,
only three days from Alost, walking all the day.'

Daphne looked at her curiously. "You're not
afraid, Simonne, of the long journey?"

(pagina 264)



They met no mines, floating or anchored. And
reaching Rotterdam in the normal grey mist of
that picture-card approach through flat distances and
past squat barges and windmills, they made their
way to the train and were soon in Dordrecht.

Katty loved Siena and Cork and Oxford, Daphne
remembered. Crystal adored Girgenti . . . but the
girl thought rapturously that she loved her ''Dort''
as dearly.

The smoky little tram that must take them to
Rijsdijk had just departed, so they had an hour to
themselves. Daphne was only too happy to wander
through the narrow streets she recalled with such

It was curious that Fate should be bringing her
back to the only two places she knew well in Hol-
land . . . Dordrecht and Rijsdijk. Nothing seemed
altered though it was six years since they had been
there, Katty, Crystal with the baby Bedelia, and
Daphne herself. Mr. McClinton was in London
for some long-drawn-out History Conference, and
they had spent the three months of his absence in

Simonne walked about with an amusing air of

(pagina 266)

Rijsdijk was only fifteen minutes away, even by
the jerky little tram, which stopped with a bounce
near the inn . . . they called it the "Hotel" in
Rijsdijk . . . Vrouw van Waaldorp, with the win-
try sun shining through the great white wings of her
flapping cap, stood in the doorway just as she had
stood six years earlier.

She remembered Daphne at once, and of course

(pagina 267)

she knew Simonne's cousin, a good man down the
"Kekker," she said ... the Kekker was a little
lane of the poorer houses. . . . And here, as it was
the dinner hour, they found Cornelis, a bald, kind
little Belgian, with a tall good looking Dutch wife,
Janneke, and seven little Jannekes, all gazing wide
eyed at the strangers. Comelis and his vrouw took
in new ideas slowly, but once in all was well. Yes,
surely, Cornelis would go with Simonne to the fron-
tier, by water, and start her homewards.

(pagina 270)

Daphne was walking along the dyke by the broad,
scarcely moving river. It was twilight, a cold, clear
evening, and no wind stirred in the tall bare trees
by the dyke, or amongst the lopped willows. A
bird flew homewards. If it had been later in the
year. Daphne thought, it would have been a stork,
delicate silhouette against the pale sky, bound for
the next village. Some labourers passed her on
their way home, heavy-going, silent men, who an-
swered her good evening ("Goede Avond") with
a pleased, gruff "Avon', Juffrouw!"

She loved Holland, loved the Hollanders, espe-
cially in the out-of-the-way villages. There was
a kind of primitive justice in life there. You
worked, you ate and slept. You tried to be hon-
est and faithful. You were kind. If the season
was good, you prospered. If bad, you suffered.
People far away had been at war; there had been
danger for Holland too of course. Powerful
countries had tried to drag Holland into that war;
but they had not succeeded. There had been no
war in the quiet land. And how good the coffee
tasted in your little two roomed house, when the
vrouw took a burning lump of river peat from the
hearth and stuck it into the "stoofje" on which
your coffee pot would stand hot and comforting!

(pagina 272)

Rijsdijk was not central, but the
comfort of Vrouw Waaldorp's devoted care out-
balanced the fatigue of her daily journeys.

In any event she must spend some days in learn-
ing the ropes, and finding where she was most
needed. Her experience at the Hostel inclined her
to some post where she could not only help the
Flemish, but where she could be interpreter for the
French-speaking Belgians as well. Comparatively
few of the latter spoke Flemish, that is to say Dutch,
and only the better educated amongst the Dutch
spoke French.

Her letters of introduction were excellent. Even
more useful was the fact that, an American lady,
she had troubled to learn ''Hollandsch.'' The Hol-
landers expected English and Americans to know
German . . . they were always delightfully sur-
prised to find their own language understood and

(pagina 273)

A few days later came a letter from Crystal.

"I envy you the charm of Rijsdijk, dearest child,
but through your new environment will soon pass a
curiously foreign element ... a Serbian officer, no
less! If I were asked for the most unlikely com-
bination possible, even in this time of change, I should
say, if I were wild enough to think of it, a proud
young Montenegrin officer in a Rijsdijk inn . . .
Dakovich in Holland I Katty has just heard from
the beautiful boy. He is at the Hague, on a mis-
sion from his government. She has telegraphed him
to look you up at Rijsdijk.'

The rest of the letter could wait ; Daphne leaned
from the inn balcony, where on Sundays and holi-
days the good Rotterdamers and Dordrechters sat
at the little tables drinking their beer or coffee . . .
but on other days never a soul disturbed Vrouw
van Waaldorp
's quiet life. Crystal's letter of itself
was certainly introducing a foreign element,
Daphne thought . . . why should she pause now
when so much called to be done, mooning at the
river in the morning sunlight about the unknown

(pagina 277)

Daphne looked unconvinced, but there was no
time for argument. Vrouw van Waaldorp bustled
in with a steaming pot of chocolate to stand on
one "stoof je," and a mysterious dish of eggs and
potato and ham for the other. A second white-
capped, smiling head appeared behind, as Mijntje,
the cook, brought in a third "stoof je" and a pile
of sliced bread for toasting thereon. This she ...

(pagina 280)

After supper Daphne showed him the village
in which he took not the slightest interest.
Yet it was beautiful in the moonlight ... the long
tree-bordered roads, one on each side of the broad
stream, a single bridge connecting them. The com-
fortable small houses, a "sloot" or little ditch of
pure water, running by so many gardens, through
so many fields; and over all the perfect luminous
arch of the Holland sky.

(pagina 284)



Next morning Daphne gave him his breakfast
With the Vrouw and Mijntje, delightedly voluble,
hovering about them, they had little chance for more
than the briefest sentences.

It was a shimmering opalescent morning, such
as only the low lying country can offer, where the
eternal mists drift from the river and the little
"sloots." Frosty stmlight glinted on the stream
outside the "zaal" windows, and was in turn re-
flected dancingly on the pale walls. In this early
light the yoimg Montenegrin was more freshly
handsome than ever. "It is a mooi man!" the
Vrouw whispered whenever she could get a word
to Daphne . . . "Oh, zoo mooi!' ("Oh, so good

(pagina 285/286)

And as the Vrouw entered at that instant, to say
that the tram could be heard ... it always whistled
upon approaching the village . . . there was no
time for any but the shortest farewells. Daphne
smiled a little wistfully, as he kissed her hand . . .
kissed it twice. He had left no address, no direc-
tions for letters, no idea as to his plans ; it was not
like an American boy. Yet with what eyes he
looked at her !

The Vrouw and Mijntje were waiting outside
with his bag near the tram's stopping place.

Mr. Dimock door mrs. Denis O'Sullivan (London, John Lane, 1920)