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the party, the ransacking of the lovely shops took place. And it really
seemed as if everything that the Henderson boys could possibly want,
was in some of those places - no matter how out-of-the-way - and waiting
to be bought to fly over the sea to Badgertown. At last off that box
went. Then Polly was quite happy, and could enjoy things all the more,
with a mind at rest.

"Now we are all ready for Marken," she cried that night, after dinner,
when the box was on its way to the steamer, "and I do hope we are going
to-morrow." Jasper and she had a little table between them, and they
were having a game of chess.

"Yes, we are, I think," said Jasper, slowly considering whether he
would better bring down one of his knights into the thick of the
battle, or leave it to protect his queen.

"Oh, how fine!" exclaimed Polly, unguardedly moving the pawn that held
at bay a big white bishop, who immediately swooped down on her queen,
and away it went off the board; and "oh, how perfectly dreadful!" all
in one and the same breath.

"You may have it back," said Jasper, putting the black queen in place
again.

"No, indeed - it's perfectly fair that I lost it," said Polly; "oh, I
wouldn't take it back for anything. I was talking; it was all my own
fault, Jasper."

"Well, you were talking about Marken, and I don't wonder, for we have
been so long trying to go there. Do take it back, Polly," he begged,
holding it out.

"No, indeed!" declared Polly again, shaking her brown head decidedly,
"not for the world, Jasper."

"What is going over in that corner?" called Grandpapa's voice, by the
big reading table. He had finished his newspaper, and was now ready to
talk. So Jasper and Polly explained, and that brought out the subject
of Marken, and old Mr. King said yes, it was perfectly true that he had
made all the arrangements to go the following day if the weather were
fine. So Polly and Jasper swept off the remaining pieces on the
chessboard, and packed them away in their box, and ran over to hear all
the rest of it that he was now telling to the family.

"So you see it didn't make any difference about that old queen anyway,"
said Polly, as they hurried over to him, "for nobody has beaten."

"I'm glad I didn't beat," declared Jasper. "I've that satisfaction,
anyway, because you wouldn't have moved that pawn, Polly, if you hadn't
been talking of Marken."

The next day was fine enough to warrant the trip, though not absolutely
sunshiny. Old Mr. King wisely deciding that the fun of the expedition
would lose its edge if postponed again, said, "Start!" So after
breakfast they all went down to the Wester dock and embarked on the
little steamer bound for the island of Marken in the Zuyder Zee.

"Oh, Polly, look," said Jasper, "doesn't Amsterdam look fine?" as the
little steamer slowly put forth.

Polly leaned over the rail and drew in long breaths of delight. "Come,
Adela," she called, "here is a good place;" for the little old lady was
still too much shaken up to make much attempt at travelling, so Polly
had begged Mother Fisher and Grandpapa to ask Adela to come with them
on their sightseeing trips.

And this was done, and the young girl was happy as a bird. So here she
was, going down to Marken too.

Adela ran and kneeled down on the seat by Polly's side and hung over
the rail too. "Don't the houses lean over queerly?" she said, pointing
to the long narrow buildings they were leaving behind. "They look worse
from the water than when we are in the midst of them."

"It's just as if they were holding each other up," said Polly. "Dear
me, I should think they'd tumble over some fine day.

"What makes them sag so?" asked Adela, intently regarding them.

"That's because the city is built on piles, I suppose," said Jasper.
"It's mostly sand in Holland, you know, particularly around Amsterdam,
and so they had to drive down piles to get something strong enough to
put their houses on. That's what - who was it? - oh I
know - Erasmus - meant when he said, 'I know a city whose inhabitants
dwell on the tops of the trees like rooks.'"

"O dear me," said Adela, quite impressed; "well, what makes them not
sag any more?" she asked at length.

"Because they've sagged all they want to, I suppose'" said Jasper,
laughing. "Anyway they've stood so for years on years - probably, so
it's fair to believe they're all right."

"And I think they're ever so much prettier leaning every which way,"
declared Polly. "We can see plenty of straight houses at home, so it's
nice to see crooked ones over here. Oh, Jasper, there's the King's
palace!"

"Yes and there is the dome of the Lutheran Church," said Jasper.

"Look at that woman with the boy," said Adela, on the wharf. She's got
a little black bonnet tied on top of her white cap.".

"That's nothing to what we shall see at Marken, I suppose," said Polly.
"I'm going to take ever so many photographs." She tapped her kodak
lovingly, as it hung from the strap on her shoulder.

"I wish I'd brought mine," said Adela.

"Why didn't you?" cried Polly, whirling around to scan Adela.

"I forgot it," said Adela. "I put it on the table last night close to
my hat and gloves, and then walked off this morning without it."

"Now that's too bad!" exclaimed Polly in sympathy. Then she turned back
uncomfortably, and began to talk of something else. "I'm not going to,"
she said to herself; "it isn't my fault she forgot her kodak, and I
want every one of my films myself. And I care a great deal more for
Marken than for almost any other place." The next moment Mamsie seemed
to say, "Is that my Polly?" and although she was at the other end of
the boat, Polly's head drooped as if she had heard the words.

"O dear me - and Adela hasn't any one but a sick grandmother - and I have
just - everybody," she thought "You shall use my kodak," cried Polly,
aloud, "one-half the time, Adela."

"Oh, no," protested Adela; but she looked hungrily at Polly's kodak
swinging over her shoulder.

"Yes, you shall too," declared Polly, cheerily. "I can take all the
pictures I want in that time, and I have lots of films."

"I'll divide with you, Polly," said Jasper. "I brought ever so many,
and will go shares with my kodak, too." But Polly made up her mind that
Jasper's kodak was to be used for his own special pictures, for she
knew he had set his heart on taking certain ones, and a good many of
them, too.

"Isn't that water just perfectly lovely!" she exclaimed; "such a bluish
grey."

"I think it's a greyish blue," said Adela, squinting along its surface
critically.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked Polly, laughing.

"Not much," said Jasper, "I should think."

"Well, anyway, it's lovely," declared Polly; "I just wish I could paint
it."

"Do you paint?" asked Adela, suddenly.

"No," said Polly, "not a bit"

"Polly is all for music," said Jasper, quickly. "You ought to hear her
play."

"Oh, I can't play much now," said Polly, "but I mean tot some time.
Jasper, how long it is since we have had a duet." Her face dropped its
cheery curves and a sad little look crept into her eyes.

"That's the bother of travelling about; one can't play in a hotel,"
said Jasper. "But wait till we get to Dresden, Polly."

"Oh, I can't bear to wait," said Polly. "I don't want to hurry on,
Jasper - but oh, I do wish we could play on a piano." Her fingers
drummed on the rail in her eagerness.

"Why, you are playing now," said Adela, bursting into a laugh, "or
pretending to, Polly Pepper."

"I know it," said Polly, laughing too; "well, that's what I always used
to do in the little brown house, - drum on the table."

"In the little brown where?" demanded Adela in astonishment.

"The little brown house," answered Polly, and her eyes lightened as she
seemed to see it before her. "That's where we used to live, Adela - oh,
the sweetest place, you can't think!" Polly's fingers stopped drumming
now, and the colour flew up to her cheek; she forgot all about Adela.

"Oh, I suppose it had everything beautiful about it," said Adela,
delighted to make Polly talk, "big gardens, and terraces, and - "

"Oh, no," said Polly, "it didn't have gardens at all, Adela, only a
little bit of a green grass-plot in front. But there was an apple tree
at the back."

"Apple tree at the back?" echoed Adela, faintly.

"Yes, and we had beautiful plays under it," cried Polly, rushing on in
remembrance; "and sometimes when all the work was finished, Mamsie
would let us spend the whole afternoon out there. You can't think what
perfectly splendid times we had there, Adela Gray!"

Adela by this time was beyond words, but stared up at Polly's face
speechlessly. "And what fun it was on baking days, Polly," cried
Jasper, unable to keep quiet any longer; "do you remember when I burnt
all my cakes around the edges?"

"Well, that was because the old stove acted so," said Polly; "one
minute it wouldn't bake at all, and the next it burnt things black."

"And the washing the dishes and things up afterward," said Jasper,
reflecting; "I think I liked that just as well as the baking, Polly."

"It was good fun," said Polly; "and how funny you looked with one of
Mamsie's aprons tied round under your chin, Jasper."

"I know it," said Jasper, bursting into a laugh. "I must have looked
like - I don't know what. But it was good fun, Polly."

And then Phronsie came running up, and after her came Grandpapa to see
that she got there all right.

"Oh, Polly, do you see the windmills?" she cried, clapping her small
hands.

"Yes, Pet," said Polly, looking all along the soft curves of the shore,
"there are hundreds of them, aren't there?"

"There was a girl coming out of the door of one of them," announced
Phronsie, climbing up on the seat and putting her arm around Polly's
neck. "Polly, I'd like to live in a windmill; I would," she whispered
close to her ear.

"Would you, Pet?"

"Yes, I would truly," she said. "Why couldn't I, Polly, just like that
girl I saw coming out of the door?" she asked, looking back wistfully.

"Well, that girl never had a little brown house to live in," said
Polly; "think of that, Phronsie."




XIII

"THE CLEANEST PLACE IN ALL HOLLAND"


"Oh, Polly, see the cunning little doll-houses!" exclaimed Phronsie in
a little scream, flying about from Grandpapa at the head of his party
on their way up from the boat-landing, and then back to the rear of the
procession, which happened to be Polly and Jasper.

"Hush, Phronsie, don't talk so loud; they are not doll-houses," said
Polly. "People live in them."

"People live in them!" echoed Phronsie, standing quite still on the
paved road, that shone as if just freshly scoured.

"Yes, yes; come along, child, the people will hear you," said Polly,
seizing her hand.

Phronsie suffered herself to be piloted along, but she stumbled more
than once over the cobbles, her eyes were so busy.

"Take care, Phronsie," warned Polly, "you came near falling on your
nose that time."

"I'll go on the other side," said Jasper; "there, now, Phronsie, give
us your hand. Well, I don't wonder you are surprised. I never saw such
a place as this Broek is."

"They've just washed it all up, haven't they, Jasper?" asked Polly, her
brown eyes scanning the little walks along each tiny garden they
passed. Everything shone alike.

"They're always washing up, I believe," answered Jasper, with a laugh.
"I suppose they live in a pail of water, so to speak."

"Oh, Jasper, in a pail of water!" exclaimed Phronsie, between them,
poking her head out to look for such a strange and unwarrantable sight
provided by the inhabitants of Broek.

"I mean they're always scrubbing, so they can never be separated from
their pails of water," said Jasper.

"It seems almost too bad to step on such clean roads," said Polly,
getting up on her tiptoes, and stepping gingerly off. When Phronsie saw
Polly do that, she got up on her tiptoes too, and tried to get over the
ground with her.

"You can't do that long," said Jasper, with a laugh for both, "and it
wouldn't do any good, Polly, if you could, for these Broek women will
have to come out and scrub up after us all the same."

"I suppose they will," said Polly, with a sigh of relief, coming down
on to the rest of her feet, which proceeding, Phronsie was very glad to
copy. "And it isn't as nice as it looks to walk on the tips of your
toes. Jasper, do see those cunning little windows and those china
images inside!"

"It seems as if they were all windows," said Jasper, scanning the tiny
panes shining at them from all the cottages. "Dear me, the Broek women
have something to do, don't they, to keep everything so shiny and
clean?"

"Haven't they!" cried Polly. "Well, I don't wonder it is the cleanest
place in all Holland. They must have to sit up all night and wash and
scrub."

"It's the cleanest place on the whole earth, I imagine," laughed Jasper.

"But I should love to see some boys playing with mud pies," sighed
Polly, running her glance up and down the immaculate road, and
compassing all the tiny gardens possible to her range of vision.

"Mud pies!" exclaimed Jasper, in mock surprise. "Polly, how can you
mention such a thing as dirt or mud here!"

"Jasper, do you suppose the children can have a good time here?"
pursued Polly, anxiously, willing to give up the mud pies, if only
reassured on the latter point, which seemed to her a very doubtful one.

"We'll hope so," answered Jasper. "See the klompen outside that door,
Polly. Well, here we are at the dairy, Polly."

"And can I see the cows?" cried Phronsie. "Oh, Grandpapa is calling
me," and off she ran.

And so he was calling her, as he and the parson had now reached the
dairy door, under cover with the dwelling, which seemed much less an
object of painstaking care than the house where the cows resided and
the cheeses were made.

But everything was as neat as a pin in the house, though, and Polly and
Jasper concluded they would explore the two rooms, as everybody seemed
to be expected to do, after the main object of the visit was
accomplished and the dairy inspected.

"Dear me, do they have to take their shoes off before they go in the
house?" cried Polly.

"I suppose so," said Jasper. "Well, it isn't much trouble to get out of
those sabots, that's one comfort for them."

"Dear me," Mrs. Fisher was saying, "if they haven't a carpet on the
floor for the cows to walk on!" And there, surely, were strips of
carpeting all down the walks between the rows of stalls, and something
that looked like braided hemp in the bottom of the stalls themselves.
And everything was tiled where it could be, with little tiles, and all
these and every bit of the woodwork itself shone beautifully - it was so
clean and polished.

Mrs. Fisher's black eyes shone, too. "It's beautiful," she said to her
husband, "to see everything so clean for once in the world."

"What are those hooks for?" asked Jasper of the stolid Dutchman, who
showed them about, and who spoke English fairly well.

"We hook the cows' tails up so they won't shake any dirt on their
sides," said the Dutchman.

"O dear me!" exclaimed Polly Pepper, and everybody laughed - but she
didn't.

"I think that is cruel," she said. "What do the poor things do to beat
off the flies, pray tell?"

"Flies?" said Mother Fisher. "I don't suppose they ever see a fly here,
Polly."

"They'd chase one worse than the dirt, I guess," said the little doctor.

"Oh," said Polly, with a sigh of relief.

"Come, Polly, let us go into the cheese room," suggested Jasper,
peering in, for everything was connected and under one roof. "There's a
man in there, and he is telling something;" so they skipped in, while
Phronsie was bewailing that there were no cows there, and where were
they?

"Why, Phronsie, they are all out in the fields. You wouldn't have them
shut up this hot day," said Grandpapa.

"No," said Phronsie, swallowing the lump in her throat, "I wouldn't,
Grandpapa; I'd much rather know they are having a nice time. I don't
want them in here, I truly don't."

"That's a nice child," said old Mr. King, approvingly. "Well, now,
we'll see how they make these wonderful Edam cheeses, Phronsie."

"I shall call this place the Cheesery," announced Polly, running about
between the vats and the big press.

"Oh, Polly, that's a capital name," said Jasper. "So shall I call it
the 'Cheesery' in my journal. Look at the rows and rows of them, Polly."

"And how round and yellow they are," said Polly; "just like pumpkins,
aren't they? Wouldn't it be fine if we could take some home, to send to
Badgertown? Dear Mrs. Beebe is so fond of cheese, Jasper."

"It is a pity; but we couldn't take cheeses very well. Fancy our
trunks, Polly!" He wrinkled up his face; at sight of it Polly laughed
merrily.

"No, of course not," she said; "but oh, how fine they look!"

"Grandpapa, I'd like to buy one," said Phronsie, overhearing a bit of
this, and opening her little bag that hung on her arm, to get her purse.

"What in the world can you do with a Dutch cheese, child?" exclaimed
old Mr. King.

"But I would like to buy one," persisted Phronsie. And after much
diving Phronsie produced the little silk purse - "Polly wants one,
Grandpapa," she got up on her tiptoes to whisper confidentially.

"Oh, is that it?" said Mr. King. "Well, now, Phronsie, I don't really
believe Polly wants one. You would better ask her. If she wants one you
shall buy it for her."

So Phronsie ran off. "Do you, Polly? Do you?" then she gently pulled
Polly's sleeve to make her hear, for Polly and Jasper were hanging on
the description that the man in attendance was pouring forth.

"Do I what?" cried Polly, only half understanding, and lost in the
thought of how much fun it must be to make little yellow cheeses, and
set them up in rows to be taken to market.

" - want one of those dear sweet little cheeses?" finished Phronsie.

"Yes, indeed," answered Polly, bobbing her head, and listening to the
man with all her might.

"Yes, she does, Grandpapa," declared Phronsie, flying back, "she told
me so her very own self."

"The goodness, she does!" exclaimed old Mr. King, "Well then, she shall
have one. But pick out a small one, Phronsie, the very smallest you can
find."

This was so much a work of time, Phronsie laying aside one selection
after another, each yellow cheese looking so much better on comparison,
that at last old Mr. King was almost in despair, and counselled the
purchase of the last one that Phronsie set her eyes on. But meantime
she had spied one on the upper shelf of all.

"There it is, Grandpapa," she cried, clapping her hands in delight,
"the very littlest of all, and isn't it beautiful, Grandpapa, dear?"

"Indeed it is," assented Grandpapa, and he had the man lift it down and
do it up; a piece of a Dutch newspaper again doing duty, when Phronsie
held out her arms to receive it. "You can't carry it, child; give it to
me. What in the world shall we do with the thing?" all this Grandpapa
was uttering in one breath.

"Oh, Grandpapa, dear, I do so want to carry Polly's little yellow
cheese," said Phronsie, the tears beginning to come in her eyes.

Grandpapa, who had taken the round parcel from her arms, looked from it
to her with increasing perplexity. "Have the goodness to put a string
around it, will you?" he said to the man who was regarding him
stolidly, after satisfying himself that the coin Phronsie had drawn out
of her purse and put in his hand was a good one.

"Yah, yah," said the man, and he brought out of one of his pockets a
long piece of thick twine. This with much hard breathing accompanying
the work, he proceeded to twist and interlace around the paper
containing the little yellow cheese in such a way that when it was
completed, Phronsie was carrying what looked like a little net basket,
for there was a good strong twine handle sticking up, into which she
put her small hand in great satisfaction.

When they all gathered in the living room of the house that had open
doors into the cow-house and dairy, all being under one roof, they
found a huge pile of photographs displayed of various views of the
premises indoors and out.

"But they aren't half as nice as ours will be," whispered Jasper; "how
many did you take, Polly?"

"Three," said Polly.

"Oh, Polly, didn't you get more than that?" said Jasper, quite
disappointed for her, for Polly dearly loved to take photographs. "Oh,
you've let Adela Gray take your kodak," he added; "it's a shame I
didn't give you mine. Take it now, Polly," he begged, slinging off the
leather strap from his shoulder.

"No, no," said Polly, "I don't want to, Jasper, and I wanted Adela to
take it, and don't let her hear us, she may come back from the other
room;" - for Adela had disappeared with the kodak; "and it's all right,
Jasper," she finished up incoherently.

"Aren't these queer beds, Mrs. Fisher?" the parson's wife was saying,
peering into the shelves against the side of the wall, boarded up, with
doors swung open inviting inspection.

"The idea of sleeping in one of them!" exclaimed Mrs. Fisher,
inspecting the interior with a sharp eye. "They're clean enough and as
neat as a pink" - with a critical glance along the white lace spread and
the immaculate pillow - "but to be shut up in a box like that. I should
as soon go to bed in a bureau drawer."

"So should I," laughed the parson's wife; "and look at the artificial
flowers hanging up over the head, and that picture pinned, above the
foot. Well, well, well, and so that is a Dutch bed!"

"There are a good many kinds and sorts of Dutch beds, I suppose,"
observed Mrs. Fisher, turning away, "just as there are a good many
American ones; but I hope there aren't many of this particular kind."

"Jasper," exclaimed Polly, as they all filed decorously out of the
"Model Farm," "how I do wish you and I could race down to the
boat-landing!"

Jasper looked longingly down the washed and shining road. "So do I,
Polly," he said, "but I suppose it wouldn't do; we should shock these
natives."

"I suppose so," assented Polly, ruefully. Just then Phronsie came up
holding with both hands her paper-covered, twine-netted little round
yellow cheese.

"What in the world has Phronsie got!" exclaimed Polly, catching sight
of her. "Come here, Pet," she called.

Phronsie hesitated. On Polly's calling her again she drew near, but
more slowly than was her wont.

"What have you got, Phronsie?" asked Polly, wondering and not a little
hurt by her manner. "A little basket of string; isn't it funny, and
where did you get it?"

"It isn't a basket," corrected Phronsie, "and I cannot tell you now,
Polly," said Phronsie, shaking her head.

"Why, Phronsie," began Polly in surprise; and she couldn't help it, her
voice quavered in spite of her.

When Phronsie heard that, she was equally distressed, and at once
decided to present the gift then instead of carrying it back to the
hotel for Polly as she had at first intended. So she cast her burden
into Polly's hands and piped out, "It's for you, Polly, a sweet little
yellow cheese; you said you wanted it," and stood smiling and
triumphant.

"Oh, my goodness me!" exclaimed Polly Pepper, standing quite still.
Then she did shock the natives, for she sat right down in the road,
with the cheese in her hands.




XIV

THE ISLAND OF MARKEN


When the boat was nearing the island of Marken, the little yellow
cheese had been presented with all due formality to one of the sailors
who had been specially kind in the matter of securing good seats for
Mr. King's party, Polly and Phronsie having held a whispered conference
in a retired nook, to come out of it bright and smiling.

"And now it has made two people happy, Phronsie," Polly had said, when
the presentation was well over, and she ended up with a kiss. "It made
me happy in the first place because you thought of me, and then, just
think, Pet, that poor sailor, how glad he will be to take it home."

"Will he, Polly?" asked Phronsie, in a rapture; "and do you think he
has got any little girls?"

"Perhaps so," said Polly, "and at any rate, he can eat it himself. And
he looks hungry enough."

"I'd rather he had some little girls, Polly," said Phronsie,
thoughtfully, "and have him give them each a piece."

"Well, maybe he has some; we'll think so, anyway," Polly answered. "Oh,
see, Jasper is calling us."

To be sure, there he was on the other side of the boat nearest Marken,
with a big group of passengers, intently watching the Marken children
running along in their clacking sabots, on the high bank, and holding
out their arms, singing something all the while in a shrill, high key.


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