The Dutch Twins  by Lucy Fitch Perkins

One Sunday

Part 1 of 2

O NE Sunday morning in early fall, Kit and Kat woke up and peeped out from their cupboard bed to see what was going on in the world.

The sun was shining through the little panes of the kitchen window, making square patches of light on the floor. The kettle was singing on the fire, and Vrouw Vedder was already putting away the breakfast things.

Father Vedder was lighting his pipe with a coal from the fire. He had on his black Sunday clothes, all ready for church. Father Vedder did not look at Kit and Kat at all. He just puffed away at his pipe and said to himself,

"If there are any Twins anywhere that want to go to church with me, they'd better get dressed and eat their breakfasts."

Kit and Kat tumbled out of the cupboard at once.

Vrouw Vedder came to help them dress.

I can't tell you how many petticoats she put on Kat, but it was ever so many. And over them all she put a skirt of plaid. There was a waist of a different color, and over that a kerchief with bright red roses on it. And over the skirt she put a new, clean apron.

Kit was dressed very splendidly too. He had full baggy trousers of velveteen that reached to his ankles, and a jacket that buttoned with big silver buttons. His trousers had pockets in them.

Kit and Kat both wore stockings, which Vrouw Vedder had knit, and their best shoes of stout leather.

When they were all dressed, Vrouw Vedder stood them up side by side and had them turn around slowly to be sure they were all right.

"Now see that you behave well in meeting," she said. "Sit up straight. Look at the Dominie, and do not whisper."

"Yes, Mother," said Kit and Kat.

Then she tied a big apron over each of them and gave them each a bowl of bread and milk. While they were eating it, Father Vedder went out and looked at the pigs, and chickens, and ducks, and geese, and smoked his pipe.

When he came in, Kit and Kat were quite ready. Vrouw Vedder had tied on Kat's little white-winged cap, and put Kit's hat on. She kissed them good-bye, and they were off—one on each side of Father Vedder, holding tight to his hands.

Mother Vedder looked after them proudly, from the doorway. She did not go to church that day.

They walked slowly along the roadway in the bright sunshine. Many of their neighbors and friends, all dressed in their best, were walking to church, too.


Father Vedder and Kit and Kat went a little out of their way, in order to pass a large windmill that was swinging its arms around and creaking out a kind of sleepy windmill song. This is the song it seemed to sing:—

Around, and around, and around, I go,

Sometimes fast and sometimes slow.

I pump the water and grind the grain,

The marshy fields of the Lowlands, drain.

I harness the wind to turn my mill,

Around, and around, and around with a will!

Perhaps it was listening to the windmill song that made Kat say,

"Why do we have windmills, father?"

Kit and Kat said "Why?" every few steps on that walk. You see, they didn't often have their father all to themselves, to ask questions of.

"Why, what a little Dutch girl," said Father Vedder, "not to know what windmills are for! They pump the water out of the fields, to be sure! Don't you know how wet the fields are sometimes? If we didn't keep pumping the water out, they would be so wet we could not make gardens at all."

"Does the wind pump the water?" asked Kat.

"Of course it does, goosie girl! and grinds the grain too. The wind blows against the great arms and turns them round and round. That works the pumps; and the pumps suck the water out of the fields, and it is poured out into the canals. If it weren't for the good old windmills working away, who knows but the water would get the best of us some day and cover up all our land!"

"Wouldn't the dykes keep out the sea?" asked Kit.

"Suppose the dykes should break!" said Father Vedder. "Even one little break can let in lots of water. The dykes have to be watched day and night all the time, and the least bit of a hole stopped up right away, so it can't grow any bigger and let in the sea."

"Oh dear," Kat said, "what a leaky country!"

She ran near the mill and let the wind from the fans blow her hair and the white wings on her cap.

As the great fans swung near the ground, Kit jumped up and caught hold of one. It lifted him right off the ground as it swung around, and in a minute he was dangling high in the air.


"Jump, jump, quick," shouted Father Vedder.

Kit let go and dropped to the ground just in time. In another minute he would have been carried clear over.

As it was, he sat down very hard on the ground, and had to have the dirt brushed off of his Sunday clothes.

"I am surprised at you," Father Vedder said, while he brushed him. "You are too small to swing on windmills, and besides it is the Sabbath day. Don't you ever do it again until you are big enough to be called Christopher!"

Sitting down so hard in the dirt had hurt Kit a little bit, and scared him a good deal, so he said, "No, father."

Then they walked all around the mill. They peeped inside a door which was open, and saw the pumps working away.

"Yes," said Father Vedder, "it is nip and tuck between wind and water in Holland. Let us sit down here on the canal bank, in the sunshine, and I will tell you what hard work has to be done to keep this good land of ours. And it is a good land! We should be thankful for it! Just see the rich green meadows over there, with the cows grazing in them!"—Father Vedder pointed to the beautiful fields across the canal. "The grass is so rich and fresh, that the cows here give more milk than any other cows in the whole world!"


"That's what Mother says," said Kat.

"The Holland butter and cheese are famous everywhere," went on Father Vedder; "and we have all the good milk we want to drink, besides. The Dutch gardens, too, are the finest in the world."

"And ours is one of the best of Dutch gardens, isn't it, Father?" said Kit.

"It's a very good garden," said Father Vedder, proudly. "No one can raise better onions and cabbage and carrots than I can. And the Dutch bulbs! Our tulips and hyacinths make the whole world bloom!"

"Holland is really the greatest country there is; isn't it?" said Kit.

"We—ll, not in point of size, perhaps," Father Vedder admitted; "but in pluck, my boy, it is! Did you know that sometimes people call Holland the Land of Pluck?"

"I don't see why," said Kat. "I'm Dutch, but I'm afraid of lots of things! I'm afraid of spiders and of cross geese, and of falling into the water!"

"You're a girl, if you are Dutch," said Kit. "Boys are always pluckier than girls; aren't they, Father?"

"Really plucky people never boast," said Father Vedder.

Kit looked the other way and dug the toe of his shoe into the dirt. Kat snuggled up to her Father and sniffed at Kit.

"So there, Kit!" was all she said.

"There's pluck enough to go round," said Father Vedder mildly, "and we all need it—boys and girls, and men and women too. It was pluck that made Holland, and it's pluck that keeps her from slipping back into the sea."

"How did pluck make Holland?" asked Kit.

"There wasn't any Holland in the first place," Father Vedder answered. "There were only some marshes and some lands under water. But people built a wall of earth around these flats; and then they pumped out the water from the space inside the wall, and made canals through the land, and drained it. And after all that work, we have our rich fields."

"How does pluck keep them?" asked Kat.

"The dykes have to be watched and mended all the time," said Father Vedder. "And the windmills have to work and work, to keep the fields drained. No one can be lazy in Holland. Each one has to work well for what he gets. If Holland should grow lazy, she would soon be back again in the Zuyder Zee! So, my children, you see you must learn well and work hard. And that is all my sermon to-day."

"It is a better sermon than the Dominie will preach, I know," said Kat.

"Tut, tut! You must never say such things," said Father Vedder. He got up and held out his hands to the Twins.

"Come! we must walk along, or we shall be late for church," he said. "Here comes the Dominie now."

There indeed was the Dominie! Kit and Kat knew him well. No one else dressed as he did. He wore a high silk hat, and long, black coat and trousers, such as city people wear.

As he came along the road, all the people bowed respectfully; the little boys took off their caps, and the little girls bobbed a courtesy. Kit and Kat bobbed and courtesied too, and the Dominie smiled at them and laid his hand on Kit's head.


"I wish he'd come to see us again," said Kit, after the Dominie had passed by.

Father Vedder was pleased.

"I am glad to see that you love your pastor, my son," he said.

"Well," said Kit, "I don't really like him so very  much, because we have to be washed, and recite the catechism, and mind all our manners when he comes. But Mother always has such good things to eat when the Dominie comes—doesn't she, Kat?—cake and preserves—and everything!"

"If it weren't for the catechism and such things, it would be something like St. Nicholas day!" sighed Kat. "But the Dominie never forgets! And last time I couldn't tell what saving grace was! The cakes are good, but—"

"Good Dutch boys and girls always learn their catechism well," said Father Vedder; "then they are glad to see the good Dominie as well as the cakes. Now no more chatter! Here is a penny for each of you to put in the bag when it is passed."

He gave them each a penny. Kit put his in his pocket. Kat didn't have a pocket, so she held hers tight in her hand.

At the church door they met Grandfather and Grandmother.

Grandfather looked very fine indeed, in his black clothes; and Grandmother was all dressed up in her best black dress, with a fresh white cap, and a shawl over her shoulders. She carried a large psalm book with golden clasps in one hand, and a scent bottle in the other. She had some peppermints too. Kit and Kat smelled them.


They all went into the church together, and an old woman led them to their seats. Kit and Kat sat one each side of Grandmother. Grandfather and Father Vedder sat on the other side of the church with all the rest of the men.

"You must sit very still and look straight before you," said Grandmother.

Kit remembered the peppermints and sat up like a soldier. So did Kat.

Pretty soon the schoolmaster came in and went up into the pulpit. He read a chapter from the Bible, and then the Dominie stood up in the pulpit and began to preach. He preached a long time.

Kit and Kat tried very hard to sit still, just as Grandmother had said; but pretty soon their heads began to nod.

Grandmother gave them each a peppermint.

They waked up for a minute. But the Dominie kept right on preaching, until they were both sound asleep with their heads on Grandmother's shoulders,—one on each side; and if they had been awake to see, they might have thought that Grandmother took a nap too.


The sermon was so very long that a great many people went to sleep. So, by and by, the Dominie said,

"We will all sing the Ninety-first Psalm."

Everybody woke up.

Grandmother opened the great golden clasps of her psalm book, and stood up with all the rest of the people. She stood up quickly, so that no one would think she had been asleep. She forgot that the Twins were asleep too, with their heads on her shoulders. That was why, when she got up, Kit and Kat fell against each other and bumped their heads!

They forgot that they were in church. They said "Ow!" both together, and Kat began to cry. But Grandmother said "Sh! sh!" and gave them each a peppermint; and that made them feel much better.


Pretty soon the schoolmaster came along with a little bag on the end of a long stick. He passed it to each person. Kit and Kat each put in a penny, though Kit had a hard time to get his out of his pocket. But Grandmother was so upset about the Twins getting bumped, that she forgot and put in a peppermint instead.