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(geschreven door Julia Helen Heynemann)
Genoemde inwoners: Jan Stok (klapperman, nachtwaker) en vrouw Cornelia en zoon Jan.

DE KLAPPERMAN - The Tale of Old Jan Stock, a Large Man, Inured
Alike to the Bitter Winds That Sweep Down From the
Zuyder Zee and to the Morning Gapes of the Dutch Villagers

"De' Klapperman" climbed out of his bed in the wall without disturbing
"Cornaylia," his wife. Cornelia lay like a log of wood and snored like the
creaking of the windmill on a blustering day.
It was not yet 3 o'clock in the morning. It was summer, but the
dark green wooden blinds were closed and the little room was a black hole
except where the door into the inner room, where the children slept, stood
open.- There were seven children, including Jan, who was an idiot and
would never count, except in the churchyard over at Ridderkerk.
Jan Stock had been "de Klapperman" for twenty-two years, and had
inherited his duties, his labors and his misfortunes from his father. He
was a tall man with large joints; his face, from exposure to the bitterest
cold, to the horrors of the winds that sweep down over the flat country
from the Zuyder Zee, was tanned as brown as the old leather waistcoat he
word for warmth. The hollows of his eyes, under his hard, bulging fore-
head, seemed to hare been scooped out with a spoon; the skin was drawn
over his great cheekbones, that were like brown door knobs; his mouth
was a straignt, dark-brown line in an expanse of shaven green lip
and cheek and chin. The whole face was dark except for the straight yellow
hair and the thatch of stiff eyebrows, bleached almost white, and his eyes,
which were the color of the sea on a misty day, so pale and cold and blue.
He wore a blouse faded into streaks of gray by frequent washing and
patched with vivid new material in absolute independence of Biblical
warnings. His coat and his trousers were of an indefinite brownish green,
with a broad rim around the frayed ankles where he had plowed through
the winter mud and slush.
He moved around like a cat, in his coarse stockings, over the cold
flags. He mumbled over the brass milkcan at the side of the stove and
stood still. Frau Cornelia had a tongue that was suarp as ice. The odors
of flax and earth and leather and smoke combined however to make the
atmosphere heavy, and the good wife slept and the seven children did
not stir.
He drew a long breath as he picked up his great klumpen at the door
and clattered down the stone-paved street with a stern disregard for the
slumberers of the little village. Was he not paid to rouse them at any
time between 1 o'clock and 6? No one rose later than that; not even
Meffrouw Vanderloom, who hired all the men and women who worked in
the fields or at the flax-picking in the great barns, and who paid them so
munificently — 75 Dutch cents a day for the married men and women and
50 cents for the boys and girls, whether they were 20 or 60 years old.
The most notoriously lazy people on the whole riverside were the chil-
dren and wife of the Klapperman himself. Meffrouw Cornelia seldom
rose before 5, and the children were sometimes allowed to sleep till
the sweepings and scourings and scoldings of the mother woke them of their
own accord.
Klapperman passed out into the road. At this hour the moonlight
and the daylight struggled for supremacy; the trees marched shivering
like gray ghosts into a blur of mist and in the river their pale reflec-
tions trembled and shook. Phantom houses huddled together, threatened
by a strange skeleton windmill with its giant arms bound for the night,
silent and motionless. The stillness was something to be felt in all the
fields, drowned in silver mist. Not a living creature moved. The river
alone made a little indefinite noise in the rushes and the sound of his
wooden shoes waked the echoes.
"Rat-a-plan" went the brass knocker against the closed wooden shut-
ters, and a lone, harsh call brought the stupefied sleeper to the realiza-
tion of a new day of life and labor.
The Klapperman had no eyes for the wonderfal changes of the dawn;
even when the day broke over the fresh, green earth and dazzled the little
sloots and emphasized the quaintness of the ancient houses under their
heavy moss-grown roofs, he would hardly have been able to see their pic-
turesque possibilities. What he did see was a number of dwellings,
grimly secured against the long winter and the cruel cold.
His thoughts, that moved slowly and sluggishly as canal-boats, ran
this wise:
Here lives Pieter Bloomers - rat-a-plan - he is deaf and his wife is bed-
ridden and his only son was washed from his boat on his last trip from
Zeeland, with the flax to be worked in the winter. All this was no reason
why they should not pay him, Jan Stock, for three weeks their paltry two
cents a week for waking them. The old man could still do a day's work!
Rat-a-plan. rat-a-plan, rat-a-plan ! ! ! This is for HendricK Steen, who
will come to the field hours too late, with his nose red and his hands shak-
ing and his watery eyes bleared with drink. He is a victim of the tempta-
tions of the flowing bowl in the little black-faced, red-eyed tavern, and

spends his nights and his wife's earnings and the marriage portions of his
daughters in riotous living.
Rat-a-plan! This is for Meffrouw Vanhuysen, who buried her hus-
band last spring and who is already shamelessly encouraging tbe advances
of Halbert Herrenkam, who owns a canal-boat and two dogs for his dog-
cart, and who sells pots and pans in all the villages between Dort and Rot-
terdam. And Halbert has already survived two wives and has married
children. The world is a wicked place!
Rat-a-plan! This is for the miserly son of the old Meffrouw Kock,
who lived forty years on the chanty of the Kerk, whining about her mis-
ery and her abject want; and that the church owed her more than such a
mere pittance, and she died with 220 gulden in coppers and small silver
coin sewed into the pillow upon which her gray and wrinkled old head
had rested for so many nights. The son bade fair to equal the mother,
the wife looked half starved and the children were the most vicious and unkempt of alt the little rascals within a mile. And that was saying ev-
erything that could be said.
Jan Stock did not regard the frugality of Meffrouw Kock in an unchar-
itable spirit; his wintry eyes rested on the little housefront with the shin-
ing black door, with something akin to admiration.
Rat-a-plan! Rat-a-plan! Rat-a-plan! Poor Bastiantje has brought
nine children into the world and nine times has the solemn
"tidings-bearer" gone the rounds of the village, with the long
white streamers in his battered silk hat and the loose white
gloves on his dejected old hands. Only last week he had to inform the
family and friends of the sad fact that Bastiantje's last little meisje had
gone to join her brothers and sisters in the churchyard at Ridderkerk.
Bastiantje had no time for grief. For one day she sat at the little white-
curtained hole in the window staring at the child in her clean frock, with
her hair smoothed and her face like the waxen image in the dreadful
Catholic church.
Bastiantje has an old mother to support and her husband is a good-
for-naught, so she must be aroused like tbe rest to take her place in the
fields, to bring her worn face, that is stupid with grief, out of the darkness
of her bed in the wall, where she could at least forget in the sleep of
mortal fatigue.
Rat-a-plan ! This is for poor Tonia of the windmill, who has neither

father nor mother, but who supports four little brothers and sisters at
cheerfully as possible. She is but 17, is Tonia, and the prettiest and
poorest girl in the village. She works the hardest and wears the stiffest
white caps. There is a tale that she was "versproken," promised to the
Timmerman, but that wily carpenter had gone over to another village
where there were richer girls.
Tonia helped wash the linen and went out in the early morning to

spread it on the crass at the riverside and managed the affairs of the great
windmill, and cooked for and scolded and washed and tended the children
and sang:
Op bergen en in dalen
En overal is God!
If she grieved she bore it silently. Morning and evening you could
hear, if you passed the windmill, her young voice singing:
Omlaag en hoog verheven,
Ja, overal Is God !
So the Klapperman goes from door to door, unmoved by the tragedies
that play behind the green shutters.
Sometimes he starts in at 1 in the morning, when the fishermen must
be called. They have a weary distance to go before their great red-sailed
boats pass, like great birds, down the canals to the sea.
It was better in the dark days, thinks the Klapperman. When his
father lived he was also paid to go down the streets at night to "klapp"
the people into bed with a sounding-board and a big bras klapper.
"Tien is the hour," he would shout, "the hour is tien," after which no
tavern dared wink a malevolent red eye.
The sun rises in summer ana the glory ot the morning breaks - or
in winter the hard snow crunches under his wooden shoes and the icicles
drop from the shutters he rattles. The unfortunates gasp in the compara-
tive warmth of their stuffy bails and hoist themselves to the ground with
a shudder.
Winter and summer are alike to the Klapperman, who goes,
morning after morning, through the misty dawn, a melancholy figure
like a Dutch anticipation of the Judgment Day, and an avenging angel
rousing the dead from their last sleep.
Van Dyck Brown.
Holland, August, 1896.

San Francisco Call, Volume 80, Number 105, 13 September 1896