Hendrik, you can say what you like, I’m telling you, it’s a boy again!

February 1898.
People say that they have never known such a winter.
This one wins from all the others, because not a day goes by without a bitter frost and unprecedented snow storms; you wouldn’t get a dog out in this weather.
For the men who work in Emmerik it is also really bad because yesterday the Zutphen-Emmerik steam tram did not make the trip, and got stuck on the way.
The men then had to wade through the snow for an hour and a half.
They arrived at work looking like Siberian icicles, but then only the strongest managed, because the weak ones lost heart.
One of the strong-willed was Tall Hendrik, Crisje’s husband, who is not in the least frightened of such a winter.
On the contrary, he was the one who talked the necessary nonsense and managed to drag along the rest of them.
In this way these sturdy men overcame their awful journey.
In the evening they had a stroke of luck: Zutphen-Emmerik brought them back to wife and children, which they of course really appreciated.
Tall Hendrik is already up.
Crisje is still in bed, although it is not her habit, because she is otherwise always the first up.
But this now has a very good reason.
She is expecting her third child and this young life keeps her waiting continually.
The difference with this and the arrival of her first two boys is very remarkable, you would almost start to believe that this child did not wish to be born.
Crisje keeps thinking; it will happen now, but a while later the pains subside, and she has to wait once more.
Mina, the midwife, says:
“Crisje, children who keep you waiting usually have a special nature, and if they are also born on Sunday, you will have nothing at all to complain about.”
They do not know whether this is actually an indisputable truth.
They therefore leave it at that.
When Tall Hendrik asks between his hustle and bustle how Crisje is now, she answers:
“I don’t really know, Hendrik.
It is so different than with Johan and Bernard.
Honestly, the pain won’t increase.
I keep thinking that something is starting, but then it subsides again.
It is not in my hands.”
Indeed, that is the case, Crisje.
These are the laws of Our Lord.
They are the laws, which are not in the hands of the people.
Hendrik makes coffee and sings a song at the same time.
He is a good singer.
He is gifted with a beautiful tenor voice.
People from the whole neighbourhood and the far surroundings know his voice.
At six o’clock in the morning you can already hear his Ave Maria.
But today it does not come from his heart.
Hendrik is singing this morning because he is furious.
The misery yesterday morning is still bothering him and he wants to keep this to himself.
Maybe also for another reason.
For that matter, not so long ago he had to make a very serious and difficult decision.
With the offer of singing on the stage after studying prior to this, he was faced with one of the most difficult moments of his life.
He had to think long, very long, about this tempting offer.
For months he considered the advantages against the disadvantages.
With anxiety and fear Crisje observed the inner struggle, realizing that if he accepted the offer her happiness with him would also fly out the window.
Until finally the decision was taken and Hendrik made her happy inside when he came home one evening with the announcement: “Cris, I’m not going.
I’m staying with you and the boys.”
Crisje flung her arms round her ‘love’, the father of her children.
In this way he gave her a beautiful present for life, for which she had reverence.
Hendrik has also achieved a certain respect from his fellow villagers and a measure of authority.
He plays the violin, sings in the choir and has composed his own quartet.
He is very good friends with Father.
This priest would not miss Tall Hendrik for the world.
When the Reverend therefore heard that he had sacrificed honour and fame and was saved for his church, he expressed his feelings to the couple:
“Hendrik, Our Lord will bless you and Crisje, if you only knew!
That is truly no small matter!”
The good priest knows what his Hendrik is like.
He also knows the really beautiful character of Crisje.
It almost rises above his church tower.
He also knows: Crisje has contact with the ‘heavens’!
And that is the truth!
Don’t bother Crisje with gossip about other people.
Do not try to bring someone down in her presence.
Everybody has his faults and Our Lord forgives everything!
Why do people make each others’ lives so difficult?
Isn’t this scandalous?
Crisje values the life given by God and she knows people.
She also knows her Tall Hendrik and his soul and salvation.
She also knows that Hendrik is now singing because he is faced with a superior power, which is now called ‘winter’.
He is now being bombarded from all sides.
Of course he can stand it, but it is not easy, because it is not easy for Hendrik to bow his head.
Crisje asks:
“What’s the weather like this morning, Hendrik?”
He looks outside and gets a fright.
Crisje hears him moaning:
“Good God, Cris, a horse wouldn’t even get through this.
The snow is up against the door.”
Crisje also gets a fright, but from something different to her husband.
When he hears:
“Do you have to swear about that, Hendrik”, he knows enough.
“You should be ashamed of yourself.
Don’t you know what we are waiting for?”
See, Tall Hendrik, that’s Crisje for you.
But he has his answer ready immediately:
“What’s it got to do with this rotten winter, Cris.
Don’t make me laugh.”
Crisje is sensible enough to hold her tongue now.
He always has to have the last word.
But she hates swearing, it’s almost even worse than a murder for her life, soul and personality.
But, as usual, she has to laugh about the silly antics of Tall Hendrik.
He is never at a loss for words.
The jokes and antics come by themselves.
His spirit is inexhaustible and his judgements and remarks are always spot on.
This is also the reason why Hendrik has so many friends.
He is the uncrowned king of the village; the man of inspiration and inspired progress.
He has a head which can think, never knows when to stop and he grabs at everything around him.
He cannot slow down.
Man must have a strong will; otherwise he has to accept his downfall.
In addition, he also holds the belief: Life can ‘drop dead’!
“Here’s your coffee, Cris.
But how are you now?
Are you still in pain?”
“What can I say, Hendrik.
The pain won’t increase!”
He ponders for a minute and then says:
“That’s funny, isn’t it?
But we didn’t have any trouble with the other two, Cris?”
“No, Hendrik, everything was different with Johan and Bernard.
With Johan I wasn’t even confined for a day and then he was screaming already.
Do you still remember?
Bernard was a bit later and he also gave me the most pain.
I won’t forget it for the rest of my life.
But now I don’t know any more, Hendrik.”
When Hendrik is sitting in the kitchen, with his coffee and sandwiches in front of him to start eating, he hears Crisje groaning and he rushes into the bedroom.
“What is it, Crisje?
Is it still going to come now?
Would it be better if I stayed at home today?”
“No”, Crisje says resolutely, “go to work, we can use the money.
I’ll look after myself.”
See, Hendrik, that’s your Crisje again!
She can manage alone; she doesn’t need you for this.
Other women would be overjoyed to have their husbands at home, but not her.
She thinks of everything.
Your pennies are needed!
Life demands too much.
Of course he has to say something and adds:
“Then please yourself.
I only wanted to help you, or not!”
A blissful smile spreads across Crisje’s face; her feelings of warm appreciation and affection radiate towards him.
They are the orchids of her beautiful loving heart, which she now offers her Tall Hendrik.
And he seizes them and, full of gratitude, he presses his Crisje so firmly against his chest that she almost suffocates and miaows: .
“Are you trying to suffocate me, Hendrik, big idiot
Go now, otherwise you will have to walk again and half the day will be gone.”
Crisje is the only person who is allowed to say ‘big idiot’, and then it seems to Hendrik as if Our Lord himself is saying it, by the way it lights up his life.
It goes straight to his heart; he feels this for certain and consciously.
Jokingly he still says:
“You want me out the door, don’t you?”
“You know better than that, Hendrik.
But what do you want here?
To sit here and stare?”
Now he laughs with merriment.
That Cris.
He sits down, gorges down his sandwich, drinks his coffee and meanwhile gets ready to go to work.
But just when he bends over his angel and kisses her, Our Lord throws them a surprise, a stroke of luck, a strong hand also, because ‘Zutphen-Emmerik’ makes itself heard.
“Goodness, that’s something, Cris.
I will thank Our Lord for that.
That He sympathizes with us poor people.
If you had heard the swearing of all those men, Cris, you would also understand.
When it comes to it, it is still in HIS hands.”
Crisje tones down his talking as always and says in an admonishing tone: “Have you gone completely crazy, Hendrik?
See that you leave, or you can whistle for it and that’s too much.
You shouldn’t involve Our Lord in everything.”
“If He hasn’t to do with summer and winter, then who has, Cris?”
“Don’t make a mockery of it, Hendrik, and see that you leave or you will have to walk.”
Now he races there and says to Crisje:
“See you this evening, Cris.”
“I just hope, Hendrik, that I can then place the child in your arms.
Bye, Hendrik.”
“Bye, Cris.”
He is gone and Crisje lies thinking.
Every morning she goes through a comedy theatre with Tall Hendrik.
It is always the same; he is never in a bad mood.
He never lets his head hang.
He is always strong and aware and he knows what he wants.
How can she ever thank Our Lord enough for all the beautiful things she was granted with.
She knows she had to fight for them and didn’t get her happiness for nothing.
Her thoughts return to the past, when she did everything to get him.
Her parents were dead against it, because they didn’t like him.
But Crisje loved his beautiful voice, his natural cordiality and cheerful nature, his daring and great willpower.
Crisje’s parents were well off.
But Tall Hendrik’s parents did not count for much, they were very simple people, on the breadline, according to Crisje’s parents, and they really didn’t like the idea of a relationship.
Good heavens, how she laughed then.
What a storm it was.
Hendrik as well.
The wonder happened at the fair.
Crisje was under the supervision of her mother and father.
They had forbidden her to even look at Hendrik, because this courtship was ‘nothing’!
But Crisje wanted no other and he felt exactly the same about it.
For him as well there was no one else in the whole wide world.
Crisje was everything to him.
She was walking about the fair with father and mother.
Suddenly Tall Hendrik was standing in front of her.
First he looked in her eyes and then addressed her parents.
As fast as lightening he had made his decision and snapped at her father and mother:
“Try and drive us apart and you’ve got another thing coming!”
In front of the very eyes of parents and onlookers Hendrik kissed his angel and disappeared with her.
“And now, Cris”, he had said, “we will enjoy the fair.
Who can touch us?”
Crisje still remembered it well.
She could have written a book about it, so poignant was Hendrik for her life and the happiness, which she received.
The prince of her life had taken her in his strong arms and no parents, nobody, or anybody, or anything at all, were able to jolt her out of this bliss.
When she came home late at night, my God, how she had to fight for her loved one.
But then her parents saw another Crisje.
Now she knew once and for all:
Tall Hendrik was the one.
He would get her and no other.
Where she got the words from, she does not know any more.
But the parents stood looking as if they had been struck by lightning, when Crisje said: ”
‘I’m taking my life into my own hands now, so now you know!’
At that time Crisje’s eyes opened for the first time and she saw how gauche her parents really were.
These people did not live.
They were the living dead.
They were fussy, small-minded and arrogant.
And pride comes before a fall.
Our Lord wants nothing to do with this.
It is almost the worst thing that there is.
The devil then lies in wait for you.
When Crisje got married she got a violent argument from her parents as a wedding present, but Tall Hendrik put an immediate stop to this with the words: ”
“Come on, Crisje, there’s nothing for us here, they’re not human.
The brave Crisje left her parents for what they were and followed him, for which he is still intensely grateful to her.
Of course, she also knows that it is written ‘Honour thy father and mother.’
But if a father and mother go against everything that is good and always try to impose their own will, then it is a different story.
Crisje talked about it to Father and knows that she got her Tall Hendrik because Father put in his word with her parents.
To her the good shepherd said:
“Crisje, you must follow your heart.
For that matter, your parents have now nothing more to say, nothing at all.”
That decided it and their marriage was celebrated.
Crisje didn’t doubt for a minute.
Her happiness is complete.
Since that time, in all those years she never saw her parents again.
Of course, this also goes against the commandments of love and justice, but Crisje also knows that her father and mother are so narrow-minded that they cannot be approached.
In addition, what can they say about her Hendrik?
Her parents should have acted differently in this matter.
She did not get a penny and he did not want anything from them for that matter.
They could keep their happiness.
“He can keep his money”, Hendrik said, “then they can buy a nice coffin soon, the down-and-outs, the hypocritical buggers.”
Tall Hendrik was ranting and raving so much, that Crisje rebelled again and checked him a bit.
At the end of the day they were still her parents and you didn’t discard anybody.
She knew for certain her parents had to make this up.
Now Crisje has time to think.
She is bombarded with all these things.
But she has reason to be thankful.
There are so many beautiful things for which she can thank Our Lord.
Imagine that her Hendrik had yielded to the temptation and joined the opera.
He would then have gone into the world and she would have been left alone with the children.
Then her great happiness would have disintegrated and have been destroyed beyond repair, because money couldn’t buy such a thing.
No, then better no money a thousand times over.
Better to work to death to keep this blessing received from God.
Her Hendrik is a good man.
At the time when he saw himself on stage, he conjured up the most beautiful palaces for Crisje’s eyes which, however, she was well aware of, had no value in life, because the turbulent content could not be understood by simple souls.
The people around him talked about it every day and found the Tall Hendrik a fool.
What did he earn now?
A pittance, of course.
But as an opera singer he could enjoy everything.
My goodness, Paris, London, Berlin, Venice, New York.
He threw this on the floor just like that and stamped it to smithereens.
Was he raving mad?
Kings and emperors would receive him.
The doors of the rich would fly open for him.
Did Hendrik not know that?
Crisje knew better.
These poor things had no understanding of their lives and they did not know their love.
Those people only saw the money and the bragging but not the emptiness, which lay behind it.
No, they didn’t see that far.
They were people without understanding.
However, as a result of his refusal Hendrik received enormous respect.
He dared to tell the world: “I do not need your car and your palaces.”
But he did dream about it now and again.
Then he was lying in a comfortable chair, smoking fine cigars of a quarter and ... well, his thoughts were: ‘Did you not see me?
Didn’t you hear me sing yet?
You must come and listen some time.
I have been all over the world.
And I know my people.’
What bliss.
Crisje also had to hear how awesomely rich he saw life for himself and her.
However, she was sensible enough to not go into it.
And indeed, she had to admit honestly; it was not easy.
And finally, people were only human.
It was the only apple for Tall Hendrik from the true paradise and he left it on the tree.
He accomplished this feat.
Right in front of the eyes of all those poor souls he closed the gate, and tightly.
Go away, fools.
You do not know life.
And when he came with his problems at home, Crisje shunned this paradise from her and back to her husband with the words:
“It’s your own business, Hendrik.
I’m telling you, what we have now cannot be bought with money.”
Tall Hendrik couldn’t say anything to that.
This cut through his throat and his thoughts completely.
Now he was standing staring with not a thing to say.
Crisje had the last word and he bowed his strong head.
When Tall Hendrik went to Hent Klink and drunk his bitters the garrulous lads always had something else to say about his and Crisje’s life, and of course they knew everything much better.
In an inn like this peoples’ lives were mangled, deceived and ground to dust.
If the world didn’t know already, geniuses met here.
And everyone knew better.
But they knew nothing for themselves.
The mice were lying dead in front of the cupboard; it was poor in their house.
Crisje understood only too well.
Those men!
Those bitters give them all these inspirations.
Only their own lives were not aware and remained living dead.
They did not come out of their blue smocks.
What Tall Hendrik unfortunately couldn’t achieve for himself, he now sees for his boys, because Johan and Bernard will sing.
Crisje could cry about it.
He has built up much happiness for her and the children and goes continually further.
He doesn’t give up.
If life is difficult for him now and again, he thrashes himself against the surface of life and does not flinch.
Hendrik is strong and stands on a pair of legs, which can bear his unstable life.
And next to her and Hendrik are Our Lord, the church, the choir and the quartet.
She sees him with his violin and his tremendous character, as a result of which she experiences this loveliness, from which her life receives its resplendent shine.
“No, Lord, I am not dissatisfied.
I am happy.
How can I thank You?
You have kept my Hendrik at home; it is a miracle.
Because it was You and no other person.”
Does Our Lord hear her thanksgiving prayer?
Hendrik can go by tram, Crisje thinks.
That is also a pleasant thought.
Now Jeus to come and then she can start again.
Because lying here waiting is nothing.
Jeus ... Jeus ... it is like the child is talking to her.
She knows for sure that it is a boy.
When Hendrik did not want to believe her, she came with the persuasion which didn’t tolerate an answer back.
“You can say what you like, Hendrik, I’m telling you, we are having a boy again.”
It is like the child already has something to say.
It is different and so very new for her life.
It is impossible for her to say what it actually is, but it’s there!
She also knew beforehand with Bernard and Johan.
Where does this certainty come from and give this truth to her life?
It is strange.
It lives in her being.
The life says so itself!
Crisje possesses this sensitivity.
She does not know how other mothers experience the magnificent process.
She can talk to the life.
No, that’s not it.
She feels it.
This feeling is now eloquent and creeps on its own to the place where human thinking really begins.
That’s probably the way it is, she also cannot say whether it is really so.
She is too ordinary a mortal for this, a woman from the country, an illiterate being, but with a feeling inside which you seldom meet.
Mina once said:
“Feeling, Crisje, is everything!
And you have feelings for these things.
Other mothers are living dead.”
Mina was able to see and hear this truth, because Crisje already gave the good life to two boys.
They were not girls ... they were boys.
Felt by her beforehand or received this knowledge from Our Lord.
But it is funny that the pains do not increase.
But she can still expect life at any hour.
The boys are now up and Trui has come to help her.
Trui, her sister, always does this.
She is not the same as Crisje for the boys, and not so religious as Crisje would wish, but she cannot change that.
There is help and a person must be grateful for it.
When Tall Hendrik comes home and meets Trui, there is immediately tension in the air.
These two can barely tolerate each other.
He has fathomed her character and now knows exactly what he has in his sister-in-law.
It demands Crisje’s complete attention to prevent a violent argument, they are at each other’s throats for no reason or harsh words fall.
They do not give each other an inch and Trui also stands her ground.
She has to serve constantly as a buffer and intercept these two personalities; otherwise there would not be a minute’s peace in the house.
Crisje knows that life has not given her sister what she had expected and that she had also really wanted children, but unfortunately, she was not yet given this privilege.
Hendrik could often hurt her with this.
Crisje found that hard, very hard and in addition not nice.
You must have respect for another person’s sorrow.
Tall Hendrik once said: “Trui, that dead sourpuss, is too stiff to have children.”
Trui then stayed away for months, despite the fact that they lived right next door to each other.
Another time it became so bad that uncle Gradus, Trui’s husband, came on the scene and called Tall Hendrik to order, to the great surprise of all the family, since Gradus was a dope of a man who never interfered in anything.
However, when Crisje is expecting a child, Trui sees beyond the pile of miseries and Crisje thinks this is wonderful.
It is proof for Crisje that Trui learned to bow the human head.
And Hendrik should be very grateful because her sister was then the worse party again.
She considers this also a prayer to Our Lord.
These hours are wonderful for Crisje, to think over all these things.
When she saw her sister coming in again, she could have cried from happiness.
And when Hendrik had something to add with his grumpy head, he got a licking from Crisje and could accept it for the rest.
He knocked back a few bitters and came home a bit late and a bit unsteady on his feet.
But what did Hendrik think?
That he could steamroller over her life just like that?
Trui had bowed her head and Crisje wanted that now from him as well.
Hendrik was given the very serious warning:
“If you do that to me again, Hendrik, I’ll tell you a different story and I will leave.”
Tall Hendrik was flabbergasted from shock; he had never heard such threats before from Crisje.
He had to eat humble pie and Trui came to help.
Trui definitely had her faults, but she was a human being.
And neither was Hendrik infallible.
He did not have to get that nonsense into his head; nobody would believe it anyway.
Peace and quiet in the house was everything; that’s what you could build on.
On the other hand, arguments and quarrels undermined everything and ruined happiness from the heart.
And she did not like the idea at all.
Crisje’s path was not one with pits and falls, she wanted to see the powerful light shining in everything and saw this only through faith, love and trust.
And everyone had to devote themselves to this completely.
Anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t accept this had to accept the ‘muck’ of it.
Is that not the case?
When Tall Hendrik was once annoying Trui yet again, she flung this at him:
“What are you trying to start with your grating pig’s tenor?”
Wham, that was it.
However, Trui shouldn’t have come away with that, Crisje thought, because Tall Hendrik could sing.
But they were just two opposite characters.
Crisje found that a very sorrowful business.
Nevertheless, she fought for both lives.
All people were equal for her, because they were all children of Our Lord!
Johan and Bernard now interrupt her thoughts and feelings, because they want to see mother.
The boys want to tell her about the beautiful white snow, but they are chased away by aunt Trui.
“You’re not allowed anything from her”, Johan complains.
They do not like their aunt.
The difference with their mother is therefore too big.
Trui asks her sister how she is feeling.
But Crisje has to laugh to herself about that, because Trui takes the attitude that she knows everything about it.
Crisje now gets good advice.
The advice of the doctor is nothing compared to this.
Trui lives now.
The more she can talk about it, the more pleasure she has.
The life of Trui is geared that much towards this wonderful event, which, however, she is no part of whatsoever, because she was not gifted with children.
What Trui can now experience with Crisje is a ray of sunshine for her, which she warms herself with.
“Will the pain not come, Cris?”
“No Trui, it’s taking a long time this time.
I don’t understand it anymore.”
Does Trui enjoy it?
Crisje really empathizes with her sister who is two years older and understands her completely.
It is a sad loss.
You would not even wish it on your worst enemy.
Trui keeps saying pityingly:
“I’m too old to have children.”However, Crisje knows that this is nonsense, because Trui has not yet reached thirty.
Crisje then talks to her sister, as if she has had ten children and she rejoices inside.
You must allow a person something, and if you always give a person what his life longs for, it will always go well.
Crisje always cautiously sails through the characters.
She does not hit against obstacles, she is against this.
People have to take care of these troublesome things themselves.
But Trui doesn’t do that.
She makes a show exactly of these things and if she sees that her life is in shreds, it’s: “I’m too old to have children!”
But take a good look at that human ship.
It’s wretched!
Crisje knows very well that the wind is blowing the wrong way in the sails for Trui and her boat is sailing in the ‘wrong’ direction.
It usually results in vexation and knocking the human head.
When these things trouble Trui’s heart, then there is the devil to pay.
And Crisje knows that her husband has the awfully good knack of getting Trui worked up for him whenever he wants and without her even knowing it, so quick-witted can she be.
As soon as Crisje starts with her proverbs from the Bible, Trui can no longer follow her.
She also really doesn’t want to know.
But Our Lord is still there and Trui must bow her head for Him, otherwise there will never be children.
When Crisje make the biblical passage clear to her, she says: “Praying and being simple, Trui, that is everything.”
But Trui hates going down on her knees.
Not Crisje, she would still be grateful if she had to crawl to the church and Father is well aware of this.
Crisje goes to church every morning; she goes to confession and receives communion.
Too much of a good thing is wrong according to Trui.
You do not do Our Lord any pleasure with this.
It is like saying: I want to be there with you.
I want to be close to you.
It is pride.
These lives differ from each other so much that one does everything out of faith and the other out of simple human understanding, with the grimness and questions of ‘why’ and ‘for what purpose’ on the human chest.
Did you really think you could force such a thing, Trui?
When Trui thinks that she does not have enough attention from Crisje, she starts talking about the coming event.
Then the advice follows.
“Nice warm hot water bottles are also very good and ‘changing positions’.”
Crisje cannot fathom what Trui means exactly but they are good for contractions, according to Trui.
“Hot milk is also very good.”
It is a mystery to Crisje where Trui gets all this wisdom but she just waits patiently until Mina comes.
And because Mina laughs at her inside, Trui doesn’t like her either.
Crisje knows this is how it happens that people come to be alone, because they are at a loss with themselves and this good life.
“Mina will be here shortly, Trui”, and as if Crisje had felt it, Mina is standing in the kitchen and they hear her ‘good morning’.
“Good day, Mina.”
“And Crisje, are they letting you pine away?
How are you?”
“It won’t come, Mina.
Trui thought that I should change positions but I wanted to wait a while until you were here.
Will that help me, Mina?”
The midwife understands already and knows where the shoe pinches.
She also knows Trui.
“Well, Cris, we’ll have a look.”
Mina sits down next to the bed, feels her pulse, taps her stomach, pinches here and there, has a think and then says:
“No, no, Crisje, no tricks, just lie down quietly, then everything will be all right and it will happen on its own.”
And Mina wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t know that she rapped Trui sensitively on the knuckles.
But these things are too sacred for Mina and she cannot stand layman’s talk about it.
She now addresses Trui:
“And now you as well, Trui.
It is time, you should know.”
Mina is enjoying this to the full.
They hear the usual from Trui: “I’m already too old”, but her soul is beaming.
Mina also knows that Trui is a beaten soul.
The motherly heart wants to live and can’t.
Her nature is in bloom, but gets fruit nor flower and no prickles are to be seen.
It remains a barren surface for her.
She now receives not only a full load of goodwill from both, and a cartload of understanding, but also: “what do you know about it”, that “changing positions” of yours is good for a doll of a child.
You can read it on Trui’s face for behind that radiation are the prickles.
But Mina does not go into it, she is above this and Trui stands there ‘staring’.
The hour is ripe for Crisje to force the human soul to humiliation and she gives Trui her sermon:
“You are not the only one in the world, Trui.
But faith is everything!”
For Trui faith means as much as a pound of beans for four cents a kilo.
Are of less use than the worst wallpaper.
Did you not know that yet?
And still contributing to ‘the science of birth’?
You mustn’t make play with it, Trui.
Certainly not with Mina, because you will have a number of blows to accept.
However, as soon as Trui feels that she is on the wrong side and people see through her, she sways to the other side.
Then you will notice that Trui wishes to hide her life and put on a mask as she responds:
“I talked to Father, Mina, and I know that these are gifts from God.
And I prayed!”
When Trui talks like this, just see through it, as Crisje and Mina do, because they know her so well.
And express truths to her, such as: “You must search for your happiness in the church!
That’s where it is!
You must pray, that is the only thing!
You must also bow your head.”Such truths shake someone’s personality but are only considered by Trui as nonsense.
Mina repeats it in a different way: “Oh, what can I say, Trui.
Say it yourself.
I may say that I have experience, or not!
But I tell you, there is something everywhere.
In the Schroete family the children have that terrible TB.
In the Janse family they have carbuncles which they will have for the rest of their lives.
One person has this another person has that.
If you don’t have them, Trui, you’re really better off.
But you are either a mother or you are not.
And you have it in a bad way.”
They hear one word, but will not say it aloud.
But it is in the air.
Mina is bitten for a moment and then you hear: “She is in heat!”
Now, now, Mina!
Trui is neither in heat nor aware of motherhood.
She stands on a roof and plays the boaster.
If it is true what the other women feel and see.
Here is the doctor, Crisje.
What does the learned man say?
“Good morning everyone.”
“Good day, Doctor.”
The learned man looks for a minute and then disappears just as quickly as he came.
“Do you understand people like that, Mina?”
“No, Cris, you can’t understand it.
What kind of strange people are they?
He’ll never be at home here, I tell you.”
Now Mina and Crisje do not understand why that man is so strange, Trui thinks she has to make a word of appreciation for him heard:
“They are learned people after all, are they not?”
She disappears after this; otherwise she would certainly have heard something.
Mina now expresses her surprise to Crisje.
What kind of peculiar person is that?
How is it possible, two sisters and then so different.
Crisje tones it down.
This is just the way Trui is.
She has the ‘yes’ very bad.
When Crisje feels a stab, Mina is there again.
She looks for a minute and then says:
“He will come, and he will stay at home.
And we aren’t any the wiser from the learned man.
We don’t need him either.”
Mina leaves.
Trui is busy with the children and Crisje is lying thinking again.
‘How does Trui intend to have children when she is so rebellious?
You don’t need to come to Our Lord with such a swollen face.
Trui’s prayers remain stuck somewhere, they are too heavy, too material.
There is not a bit of liveliness about them.
Our Lord is really not crazy.’
Exactly, Crisje, that’s the way it is.
Why Trui cannot have children is a great and powerful mystery to her, and many other women.
But now ‘a Jeus’ is coming into the world, and he will explain it later.
He will reveal the laws of Our Lord and analyze them for mankind.
Do you hear this, Crisje?
This is why you experience these wonderful feelings inside.
The space in which you live now lies under your heart and wishes to be born in a few hours.
Since this life passes the phenomena for this to your heart and inner life, you can accept this confidently, because it is something special.
Do you feel this silence, Crisje?
You had no words for it, but it is ‘silence’!
And this silence is also depth, it is feeling.
You can float through it!
You could cry about it.
Wait, if you first have Jeus, then you will know, or later!
Johan and Bernard are sitting at the windows and looking at the terrible weather.
However, for them it seems a paradise.
They are looking at the boys and everything which has their attention.
Johan, who understands a lot and teaches Bernard all kinds of things, says:
“When I grow up, Bernard, I’m going to throw snowballs ... and skate!
But what do I hear, has aunt Trui gone?”
“Yes, Johan, she is gone.”
Johan thinks about Crisje.
He is crazy about his mother.
So is Bernard, but Johan is more sensitive.
When Johan sees that the snow is becoming thicker and it is still snowing, he asks:
“How will the stork get through this, Bernard?
That’s terrible and also impossible so to speak.
And did you not hear mother scream?”
“What are you saying?”, Bernard wants to know.
“Does mother have to scream?”
The four-year-old child gives his brother a lesson.
Bernard wants to know more about it and asks:
“Where did you hear that, Johan?”
“That’s what people say, Bernard.
Do you know what, Bernard?
I’ll go and look on the roof.
We might see the stork and we will see more there than here.”
Johan goes up the stairs.
Bernard has to wait.
In the attic there is a chest.
Johan climbs onto it.
No, he can’t see anything yet.
He shouts to Bernard:
“That beast will never get through this.
My God, Bernard, what a snow!
It won’t be able to find our house.
Do you hear what I’m saying, Bernard?”
Johan doesn’t understand, why is Bernard not saying anything?
However, the person saying something is aunt Trui.
“What are you doing here, brat?
Come on, get downstairs!”
Johan feels himself seized by the scruff of his neck and is downstairs again.
He still tries to tell aunt Trui what he wanted to do but she has no time.
She is not Crisje, Johan.
She does not possess that sensitivity which lives in your mother!
Now that the boys are downstairs again, Crisje asks:
“What did the boys want, Trui?”
“To see if the stork was there yet.
That’s all!”
Crisje does not need to ask any more.
She knows.
The children have forgotten their aunt already.
As far as they are concerned she can disappear from the face of the earth for that matter.
Mother is their mother and not aunt Trui.
You aren’t allowed anything from her!
When father comes they will ask him.
Father knows everything.
But Bernard wants to know more.
He thought of something but doesn’t know exactly what it was.
Suddenly he remembers and asks Johan:
“You told me, Johan, that the stork bit mother’s leg.
Is that true?”
“Then you should listen, Bernard.
You will hear it soon enough.”
“But how do you know that?” Bernard wishes to be informed further.
“I told you already, that’s what people say.
When the child is brought, the stork bites mother’s leg and then she starts screaming.”
“From who did you hear that, Johan?”
“From ... from ... but you don’t know anything about it anyway”, Johan manages to get out of it.
The boys watch the snowball throwing.
The hours pass.
They wait for their father.
They can’t talk to mother, mother looks bad.
“There’s something the matter with mother”, exactly what, they don’t know.
But it has to do with the stork.
Crisje already suspects that she will still not be able to place the child in the arms of Tall Hendrik later.
It is so quiet inside.
Mina also, who has just come in, is not sure.
“Only nature knows”, says Mina and she is right.
From the racket the boys are making, Crisje hears there is something going on.
Johan dashes in.
The child runs to his mother and shakes from nervousness because his father is home.
Crisje can’t believe it.
It is only five o’clock and Tall Hendrik never comes home until nearly seven o’clock.
Trui doesn’t believe it either, but when the door opens and Hendrik appears in the doorway, Crisje is filled with happiness.
Trui expresses herself with a somewhat grim face, and the feeling of ‘what do you want?’
Tall Hendrik has his tricks, but also has respect for people of good will.
Of course ‘that beanpole’ can also tell stories, but he can also appreciate good things; he can also bow his head, but this doesn’t happen immediately.
“Good day, Trui.”
A surly reply follows: “Good day, Hendrik.”
Tall Hendrik is immediately beside his wife.
“Is there still nothing, Cris?”
“No, Hendrik, it’s taking longer this time.
But I can’t do anything about it either.”
“God, is that not something, Cris?”
“Come on, Hendrik!”
“But that’s not swearing, Cris.”
“Is that swearing, Trui?”
She has no direct answer, but mumbles something, but which does not possess enough power and will to allow the feelings to pass her lips.
Inside they are pressed black and heavy against each other and do not give an inch.
Hendrik is not bothered by Trui.
He fumbles with his long body and rearranges his clothes.
Then he removes something from under his trousers and holds it up triumphantly.
“What do you say to this, Cris?
I will help you work, all right?
It’s taking too long for me.
I will pour you an expensive glass of wine.”
Tall Hendrik puts the bottle on the table.
First a kiss for Crisje.
Meanwhile Trui wants to uncork the bottle, but then he is back, and says, again without Crisje’s approval:
“Lay off, Trui, don’t take that away from me, I will do it myself!”
Trui controls herself and feels that she has nothing more to do here.
Trui is great to Tall Hendrik when she leaves him alone, and says casually to her sister:
“Cris, I’ll just go.
If you need me, you know where I am.
Do you need anything else?”
“No, Trui, Hendrik will help me.
Thank you.”
“That’s okay, Cris.
See you tomorrow morning, or, if something should still happen, call me then.”
Trui leaves and is let out by her brother-in-law.
He is making up for something.
Crisje thinks this is great, he has never behaved like this to Trui before.
He follows his sister-in-law to the door.
Then the door closes a bit too hard for Crisje’s feeling and the first thing she has to say to him when he returns is: “Now you are so nice to Trui, but why do you have to spoil it again by slamming the door behind her?
Do you think she didn’t feel that?
What a pity!”
Tall Hendrik is embarrassed for a moment.
But he didn’t do it on purpose.
The door flew out of his hands.
It was the wind.
However, Crisje knows better.
“Who are you trying to fool, Hendrik.
For other things you are different and the door doesn’t fly out of your hands.”
Now he notices that Crisje has seen through him and that the love and warmth displayed by him towards Trui were far from sincere.
Meanwhile he has recovered from his moral depression and says:
“Trui isn’t the queen, is she?”
“Hendrik”, Crisje continues, “that has nothing to do with queens.
You do that out of politeness!
Trui didn’t have to come here, she does that out of love.”
“Cris”, Tall Hendrik now flies into a temper, “love and Trui, that’s a pair, isn’t it!
And stop your preaching.
Our Lord has beaten me enough today.
Here, drink this, then you can work and it will come on its own.”
However, Crisje does not wish to drink the stolen goods and when she says this frankly, Tall Hendrik behaves indignantly and she receives as a reply:
“What are you telling me now, Cris, that I stole this?
Are you telling me that this whole world has to do with Our Lord?
Are you telling me that if I have four thousand bottles in front of my nose I should leave well alone, because I don’t have the money to buy my own bottle?
No, Cris, my boss said today: ‘“Hendrik, you must treat your Cris, Cris likes a good wine.
And good health, to the happiness of your son.’”
Crisje listens calmly; she knows that it is pointless to dispute this.
But she strikes back:
“Yes, you can talk.
And talk nonsense; you’re good at that as well.
But I will not drink stolen wine, as long as you know.”
A while later they toast each other and drink to the health of Jeus, who really must come quickly now.
Evening falls, the storm is raging outside.
Crisje dozes and moans now and again.
The boys are sleeping already.
There is silence and peace and quiet.
Tall Hendrik throws his legs under the stove and looks at the bed now and again.
Although he is impatient by nature, he does not know how the evening will end.
The desire to go to sleep finally overcomes him as well.
A person gets tired from the cold.
The winter, a source of trouble and misery for many, is still a mercy for the tired-out body when you can crawl next to the lovely burning stove and warm yourself.
Now Hendrik can no longer resist sleep and lies down next to his dear Cris.
They still talk for a while, but his eyes close and he loses all sense of feeling and thoughts.
By the sound of the snoring Crisje hears that her tall beanpole is enjoying a blissful rest.
She joins hands and prays silently to Our Lord to protect him for her.
Yes, that her husband may always remain healthy in order to be able to look after her and the children.
Isn’t life good, thinks Crisje.
Isn’t life great, her thoughts continue, but then she feels a stab inside, a warning, that she must also think of that and must pray and say thanks for it.
She is blessed with her Tall Hendrik above thousands of people in this world.
In a pure silence, and full of deep human gratitude, Crisje sends her prayers above.
She knows they will rise up and be received by the angels, because she knows herself and realizes that she is a child of God, Who after all wants to be everything for His creatures, if you can bow your human head.
A little while later Crisje falls into a healthy, refreshing sleep, so that in the coming hours she will be able to give everything for the birth of her Jeus, because it is a boy!
An almost serene silence now reigns throughout the house, only broken by the regular ticking of the old Frisian clock, as a result, Crisje gradually goes from her slumber to sleep ... Inside her there is a life ticking under her heart, which she now lives for, and would give everything for, yes for which she would die, in order to make her Tall Hendrik happy again.
“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Before she can say ‘Amen’
Crisje is sleeping or dreaming.
She is resting.
Her soul and bliss belong to Our Lord.
Would the angels not know that?