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Vermelde kunstenaars: Julia Helen Heynemann (pseudoniem Van Dyke Brown), miss White
Vermelde inwoners: dhr. van der Linden, 25-jarige Apolonia/Pleuntje en dochter Sijgje.

IN THE QUAINT OLD LAND OF DUNES AND DITCHES

Mynheer Van der Linden is an aristocrat. He has made many trips
to Rotterdam and to Dordrecht. Once, forty-five years ago next Michaelmas,
he made a journey to Antwerp. He exhibits with great pride an oaken
chest with V. d. L. in brass nails on the carved lid. He tells us, with a
momentary flush on his hard, brown face, that is like a wood carving, that
sometimes people offer to buy his chest, of which he is so proud. His
house is quite large, as houses go in Rijsoord, with a gabled roof, not of
green thatch to delight an artist's eyes, but of red and black tiles and with
white lines painted around the small, shining windows.

Mynheer is very hospitable. He drops his wooden shoes outside the
door and enters in his stocking feet, out of respect to the immaculate
scrubbed flags, on which there is a foot or two of home-made carpet. He
waves the visitor into his front room with suppressed pride. And well
may he be proud. He has two melodeons, a picture representing Daniel
in the lions' den, a tall, polished bureau with elaborate brass knobs and
corners and the oaten chest with his name on the lid.

Rijsoord, an hour's distance from Rotterdam, is a characteristic
Dutch village, all tbe houses in long rows on either bank of the river;
the river is the Waal and is a silent, swift stream, running noiselessly
under the low bridges, hardly stirring the bulrushes, hardly lifting the
brown weeds or the flat water-lily leaves, or that curious little green scum
that sometimes covers half its dark surface. Processions of trees, tall and
straight-stemmed, willows and poplars and elms and shivering aspens,

march across the fields and along the roads in solemn avenues, and
everywhere the country is cut and crossed by the tiny canals— the sloots
that shine line pale ribbons of satin. The silence during the day is
profound, almost mournful. In the fields, where the flax lies drying in
the rare sunlight, the women bend over their work all day long. Their
white caps and faded blue aprons are picturesque in the extreme, and
determined art students are always stealthily catching an effect or an
impression
as though they were rare animals. The peasants seem to
regard the painters with a stolid, rather tolerant amusement, as harmless
lunatics, who pay them for idleness.

They pose with the animation and freedom of movement of cigar-store
Indians. Ploinky (spelled Ploontje), whose real name is Apollonia, is a
great favorite. Ploinky is the mother of five children - four meisje (girls)
and one jonge (boy). She leans over her washtub in the morning, her big
arms bare, her straight fair hair pressed under her black cap. She has a
long day's work before her. A shadow crosses the doorway; it is Miss
White
from the hotel. Pioinky looks about in despair, but there is no es-
cape.

Miss White has a serious countenance that has been flattened out by
lone contact with the world. She wears spectacles, an old hat cocked over
one eye; her hair, that is tinged with gray, straggles over her forehead;
she wears an overcoat like a man's and wipes her brushes on her skirt.
She hopes to exhibit in the salon at some not too distant date.
"Ploinky" will receive 15 Dutch cents an hour for posing — that is
a little more than 5 American cents. She has five children. She cannot
afford to refuse. She wipes her arms, scolds the children, places little

Sygje, who is pronounced Psyche, at the washtub, and trudges after Miss
White
to a distant field, where she is told to lean against a tree and turn
her head back over her shoulder till her neck is almost dislocated. Her
wooden shoes are very much in the foreground. She poses as though she
had a steel ramrod in place of a spine. Her pale eyes fix themselves on a
point in the landscape; her worn and wintry face that shows the skull
underneath with pathetic distinctness is absolutely expressionless.
Ploinky looks to be 40 years of age, but, in truth, she has seen the joys
and sorrows of but twenty-five summers.

At noon her jonge comes with a hunk of bread. She may rest for a
few moments to eat it. She throws herself full length upon the gray,
green grass, and plays with her youngest as a cat plays with a kitten -
mauling him, teasing him, roiling him over and under, pressing her face
into his little neck, their laughter inaudible and controlled. They are
almost beautiful, this hideous little Dutchman end the young mother
with the old face. Her movements are quick and natural; her young,
strong figure has lost its rigidity. There is a wild acandan, an uncouth
grace about both of them, if such an apparent paradox is permissible.
Miss White, however, with her lower lip turned forward and her eyes

half closed, is struggling with the values of a plowed field and a black and
white cow she wishes to introduce into her picture. She has no time for
side shows.
Rijsoord has almost as many art students as aborigines. They swarm
in tbe streets, in the fields, on the canals, on the river. The jargon of the
studio is heard more than Dutch. They hunt "motives" near and far,
paint "impressions, studies and evening effects," and are always discov-
ering an "awfully good interior." It might be interesting to gather a
little collection of "impressions" of the unfortunate inhabitants of these
interiors when a disheveled art student bursts in upon them and paints them
at their homely employments, paring potatoes or apples with an
"effect" of top light or side light, or no light at all, having emotions at
the aide of an empty bed in which an imaginary corpse is represented by
a pillow placed under the counterpane.
Perhaps tbe pictures ars sufficient apology for the complete oblivious-
ness of the average art student - setting up her easel on the family hearth
and leaving twenty cents and some paint pots as recollections of her
descent. There are exceptions, naturally. Sometimes the art student
feminine is considerate as well as talented, and her reception in the vil-

lage after the absence of a half-year in Paris is a march of triumph. The
women rush out to erect her. the men nod, the children follow her, shout-
inn "Goo'-by, goo"-by," which is the one word of the English language
common to ail of them, and to be used in greeting, as a term of vitupera-
tion and scorn, or as a farewell.
Just now the color of flax is everywhere; it has been sunk in the river
to rot; in some places it still lies there. In the fields it is spread out
to dry, little warm brown hills of it. The barns are being filled, and the air
reeks with the ache of it — the dull, unholy, heavy smell, like the essence
de dumpcart wafted over the seawall in San Francisco on a summer night.
The evenings are quiet. The women come up from the distant farms,
swinging along in the half-darkness, singing a weird sea song full of sad-
ness; the tramp of their wooden shoes, the sound of their strong, young
voices, shrill but not unpleasant, can be heard long after their white caps

and blue aprons have disappeared behind the trees. The children congre-
gate on the roadside, dancing in circles, shouting and calling, or filling
their wooden shoes with water and sending them to sea on the little sloots
under the willows. Lights spring up here and there; the women knit at
the doorways, the men smoke; the frogs croak in the bulrushes; other-
wise there is no sound but the wind rushing through the treetops.
Sunday in Holland is a day to be most scrupulously observed; there
is a legend that one adventurous art student, overcome by the beauty of
the day, made an attempt to sketch and was promptly stoned by a stern
and indignant gathering. The women perch little bonnets with feathers
and flowers on the top of their starched, elaborate caps, and the effect is
comical in the extreme. They remove these sinful frivolities during the
sermon, concealing them under their aprons. The service lasts four hours;
tbe doors are locked at the beginning that no unworthy wretch may

escape; the music is contributed by the entire congregation, and is de-
livered with great severity in the loudest possible voice. The result may
be better imagined than described.
And yet Rijsoord, by contrast with other villages, is sophisticated; the
art students have introduced extravagant tastes, a faint comprehension of
English words and a dim suggestion that there is a world outside of the
circle to which even the little dogcarts may not penetrate.
There is Heerjansdam, a little village twenty minutes removed. You
may go down by the river in a big square rowboat, shaped lite a mud-
scow; the old boatman believes iv the dignity of restrained movements;
nothing can hurry him, nothing can in any way break in upon his calm.
The little low houses lift their thatched roofs, beautiful with age, over the
green gardens that slope down to the water. Tbe women kneel on the
edge of the stream and dip their linen, and rinse and clean their jars and
pots of brown and green earthenware. The great round fishnets that are
to induce the unwary little fish into their brown depths rise and bob and
turn in the quiet water. Heerjansdam is primeval in its simplicity:
here we see no trace of a tourist. Curious faces peer from the tiny pol-
ished windows down the one stone street that curves boldly around a pre-
cipitous hill: the children come after us in crowds, their wooden shoes
plunkingin unison.
The men stop work in the fields and stare; the women bending over
the flax in the warm darkness of the barns stand upright, their brawny
arms hanging at their sides, their tanned blonde faces peering out at us
from under their white caps.
The village peddler divides with us the general interest. His face is
covered with dust and seamed with a thousand fine wrinkles, and above

his hard, dry, red brow his white hair sticks out in wisps. He might have
posed for Holbein. A child trudges at his side and pokes occasionally at
the combs and boxes in tbe great basket tbe man carries. She is more
like a gypsy than a Dutch peasant, with more than a suggestion of the
Spanish strain - her copper-colored hair blows about her face and the eyes
that look up from under it are large and liquid and very dark. Both of
them sbout at the top of their lungs a strange prolonged cry.
The entire village is interested in our desire for a glass of milk and
our directions are shouted at us from a hundred mouths. They nearly
come to blows over it. The old gray houses are picturesque in the ex-
treme. The dates of their erection are almost obliterated under the over-
hanging eaves. On one of the most imposing - a long, low structure, with
deep windows - the date is 1700.
The gray church, very old and very clean, occupies the square, and
under the shadow of a stately avenue of aspens and willows stretches the
quiet graveyard. The bulrushes protect it, but the water laps under-
neath them, convenient for the ghosts to come out at midnight to wash
their feet over the low wall. As for the river itself, at this point and on
this day it is silver and green and pure gray. The flax floats on it and
the long, brown hair of the seaweed and the leaves of the water lilies
starred with blossoms. The windmills hardly move their gigantic arms.
There is not a sound of life, not a movement over all the shining surface
in all the soft, vast sky, but two storks, who sail majestically over our heads.
To spend a day in Rotterdam after several weeks in slumbering Rij-
soord is an intoxicating form of diversion, and the city seems as
large as noisy, as full of life and busy movement as London itself.
Van Dyke Brown.

San Francisco Call, Volume 80, Number 98, 6 September 1896