O NE afternoon Kit and Kat were playing around the kitchen doorstep, while their Mother sat on a bench by the door, peeling some onions for supper. It was not yet supper-time, but Vrouw Vedder was always ahead of the clock with the work.
Kit and Kat had a pan of water and were teaching their ducklings to swim. They each had one little fat duckling of their very own. The ducklings squawked when Kit lifted them over the edge of the pan into the water.
"Don't do that, Kit," said Kat. "The ducklings don't like it. You didn't like it when you fell into the water, did you?"
"But I'm not a duck," said Kit.
"Well, anyway, they're tired and want to go to their mother," said Kat. "Let's do something else! I'll tell you what! Let's go out to the garden and help Father get the boat loaded for market."
"All right," said Kit. "May we, Mother?"
"Yes," said Vrouw Vedder; "and you may ask Father if he will take
you to market with him
"Oh, goody, goody!" said Kit and Kat, both at once; and they ran as fast as their wooden shoes would take them out into the garden.
They found their father cutting cabbages and gathering them into piles. He was stopping to light his pipe, when they reached him.
"O Father!" said Kit and Kat both together. "May we go on the
boat to market with you
Father Vedder blew two puffs from his pipe without answering.
"We'll help you load the boat," said Kit.
"Yes," said Kat, "I can carry a cabbage."
"I can carry two," said Kit. "We'll both be good," said Kat.
"Very well," said Father, at last. "We'll see how you work! And
Father Vedder went back to his work.
Kit and Kat ran to the cabbage-pile. Kat took one, and Kit took two—just to show that he could.
"When Father says 'I'll see,' he always means
Perhaps it seems queer to you that they should go to market in a boat, but it didn't seem queer at all to the Twins.
You see, in Holland there are a great many canals. They cross the fields like roadways of water, and that is what they really are. Little canals open into big ones, and big ones go clear to the sea.
It is very easy for farmers to load their vegetables for market right on a boat. They can pull the boat out into the big canal, and then away they go to sell their produce in the town.
The canals flow through the towns, too, and make water streets, where boats go up and down as carriages go here.
The Twins and their father worked like beavers, washing the vegetables and packing them in baskets, until their good old boat was filled with cabbages and onions and beets and carrots and all sorts of good things to eat.
By that time it was nearly dark, and they were all three very hungry; so they went home.
They found that Mother Vedder had made buttermilk porridge for supper. The Twins loved buttermilk porridge. They each ate three bowls of it, and then their mother put them to bed.
This is a picture of the bed! It opened like a cupboard right into the kitchen, and it was like going to bed on a shelf in the pantry.
The very next thing the Twins knew, it was morning, and there was Vrouw Vedder calling to them.
"It's market day, and the sun is almost up. Come Kit and Kat, if you want to go with Father," she said.
The Twins bounced out like two rubber balls. They ate some breakfast and then ran to the boat.
Father was there before them. He helped them into the boat and put them both on one seat, and told them to sit still. Then he got in and took the pole and pushed off.
Vrouw Vedder stood on the canal bank to see them pass.
"Be good children; mind Father, and don't get lost," she called after them.
Kit and Kat were very busy all the way to town, looking at the things to be seen on each side of the canal.
It was so early in the morning that the grass was all shiny with dew. Black and white cows were eating the rich green grass, and a few laborers were already in the fields.
They passed little groups of farm buildings, their red-tiled roofs shining in the morning sun; and the windmills threw long, long shadows across the fields.
The blue blossoms of the flax nodded to them from the canal bank; and once they saw a stork fly over a mossy green roof, to her nest on the chimney, with a frog in her mouth.
They went under bridges and by little canals that opened into the main canal. They passed so close to some of the houses that Kit and Kat could see the white curtains blowing in the windows, and the pots of red geraniums standing on the sill. In one house the family waved their hands to Kit and Kat from the breakfast table, and a little farther on they passed a woman who was washing clothes in the canal. Other boats filled with vegetables and flowers of all colors passed them. And they were going to market too. Only no other boat had twins in it.
"Good day, neighbor Vedder," one man called out. "Are you taking a pair of fat pigs to market?"
By and by they came to the town. There were a great many boats in the canal here, and people calling back and forth to each other from them.
Kit and Kat saw a boat that the Captain's family lived in. It was like a floating house.
The Twins thought it must be grand to live on a boat like that, just going about from town to town, seeing new sights every day.
"We should never have to go to school at all," said Kit.
They wished their own boat were big enough to move about in; but Father told them they must sit very, very still all the time.
There were houses on each side of the canal, in the town, and people were clattering along over the pavement in their wooden shoes.