**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Peter Of Haarlem: The Boy Who Saved His Country
by [?]

Naturally, a country lying as Holland lies is very damp and misty, and its entire surface is covered with the network of canals running through the meadows to the sea. If you could stand on a hill and look down on it, it would look like an enormous puzzle, consisting of hundreds of small vivid green pieces cut apart by the canals and decorated by the quaint red-roofed houses of which we have spoken.

Through all the canals flows the same water, and all of them are connected with each other, and are so very wide in some places that there is much traffic on them. Then, too, through miles of the green fields flow the narrower canals, draining the pasturelands, and everywhere one feels the nearness and the menace of the everlasting sea, and the protection of the dykes rearing the huge bulwarks between the peaceful country and its treacherous enemy.

And that brings us back again to Haarlem on that April day when the quaint little town was gay with the red and yellow tulips and the air sweet with the scent of hyacinths.

On that bright spring day a little boy whose name is said to have been Peter, and whose father was a sluicer, had for his dinner some cakes of which he was very fond, and which his mother had baked because she knew how much Peter liked them.

Peter was a very unselfish boy, and whenever he had anything he liked, his first thought always was to share it with someone else. So, as soon as he had finished his meal, he jumped up from the table and begged his mother to let him go to see a poor blind man who lived not far away, and to let him carry with him those cakes which had not been eaten.

His mother was pleased with this thought of Peter’s for the poor old man, and at once brought a basket and filled it with cakes for him to carry to the invalid, while Peter’s father was making him promise not to stay out too late, and soon the boy was on his way to his friends, happy in the beauty of the day, and in the thought of the pleasure his present would give the blind man.

And he was not mistaken, the old man was delighted with the cakes, and at once broke and ate one, while he began to tell Peter one of the stories for which he was famous, and which he knew Peter loved to hear. But Peter suddenly remembered his promise not to stay out late, and finally became so uneasy that he told the old man he must not wait to hear the end of the story, and, hastily bidding him farewell, started towards home.

His path lay beside the dyke, and along its grassy banks grew beautiful wild flowers of many varieties, so numerous and attractive that Peter decided to pick a bunch of them to carry home to his mother, who was so much of an invalid that she was seldom out of the house. So he picked a few here and a few there–blue and yellow and pink, until he had a handful of those varieties of which he knew his mother was most fond, and as he walked on, to keep himself from feeling lonesome, he hummed a gay little song.

Presently, he stopped, and neither sang nor smiled, as he looked at a slender thread of water trickling through the grass. Where did it come from? Surely not from the canal, and there was nowhere else for it to come from unless it came from the dyke itself.

The thought was enough to make even a child turn pale and tremble. Only the dykes stood between the boundless sea and the safety of little Holland. He looked again, and to his imagination, the stream seemed greater already. What could he do? Night was coming on, the road was a solitary one. There was only the barest chance of anyone passing that way whom he might hail, or of whom he could ask advice.