Crisje, I was in a heaven

Tall Hendrik is up early.
His sparkling bliss makes Crisje very happy.
Today is a busy day.
Who cares about Emmerik?
Crisje has a wreath placed on her head, which Tall Hendrik made for her.
She looks at him gratefully.
Hendrik can hardly wait until the birth of Jeus is registered.
Of course he will also turn that into a big party.
It will cost him a treat for his friends, because they like him and always hang about him.
Trui has already come to tidy up.
The boys are allowed to see Jeus now.
“And Johan, what do you think of your little brother?”
Johan looks at Jeus, but doesn’t answer.
However, he asks with interest whether the stork had bitten mother’s leg or not.
Crisje reassures him and shakes her head.
Johan is thinking, apparently he thinks it’s great, and then he pats Crisje on the back.
“It can bite other mothers, but not you, mother, will it?
You didn’t do anything to it.
You are far too good to be bitten.”
Johan keeps his opinion to himself that this new child is far too fat for his liking.
When asked about his new brother, Bernard plucks a little at the beautiful earthly body.
He thinks it is a strange child, and he doesn’t want much to do with Jeus.
When Mina comes the boys have to disappear.
She organises everything in a short time and then leaves.
She has more things to do.
Mina has a pair of strong arms, and a good sensible mind.
Like Crisje she is always busy.
Now that Mina is finished and Jeus has also been taken care of, Crisje can think and pray once more, she thanks Our Lord for everything, and that it all went so well again.
What a child it is!
Mina couldn’t stop talking about it again.
The whole village already knows that Crisje has had such a special child.
People are talking about it and do not resent her happiness in the least, because everyone who comes into contact with her, learns to appreciate her and love her.
Crisje closes her eyes.
The eggs with cognac will strengthen her, and now her thoughts can return to a higher plain.
She finds it strange that her thoughts are now different.
Now that the child is here she feels very different inside.
The things a tiny child like that can do.
Crisje feels herself again, but she cannot reach into the depth of the concentration of thought, which she desires and longs for.
It isn’t working!
And however much she thinks about it, and however much effort she makes, this event has reached an end.
It is now different inside.
The life is born, and her powerful and lovely feelings have disappeared with this birth.
It is definitely worthwhile thinking about it seriously and deeply, especially since she now has the time for it.
She must also prepare herself, because Father will be coming, and then she must make a confession.
She has lied and therefore tainted herself and this is a scandal for Our Lord, Who gives her nothing but happiness.
Gradually Crisje starts to feel and understand that her thinking is lying there in that little bed.
Her flying-in-space is lying there in that improvised cradle.
There lies the child of her life.
That lovely silence has now also left her and more, much more, which she cannot put into words, but which possessed a certainty for her, which is not of this world, and which definitely belongs to the powers and laws of Our Lord.
Crisje is missing something and that lack is awe-inspiring; it is more than a person can deal with.
It is something, she thinks and suspects, which another person must probably work all his life for, if he wants to achieve this, which belongs to life.
It is strength, personality and feeling; Crisje knows that this certainty has gone from her life.
She follows herself and retreats into that feeling.
She wants to know where it has gone.
She is standing on it, but still has no certainty that it lives under her feet.
Where have these foundations gone?
Jeus is sleeping.
Jeus is resting and it is this peace, this silence with which Crisje was one for nine months.
It was one circulation, one heartbeat, one breath, one tick; they were one in thoughts and feeling.
When Trui looks at her, she asks:
“What’s the matter now, Crisje?
What is it?”
Crisje cannot answer.
Trui is thinking again about Hendrik, but it’s not him.
“What’s the matter, Cris, is he at it again?”
Crisje waves to Trui that it isn’t Tall Hendrik.
She will tell her shortly.
But that takes a little while.
Trui can’t understand and still thinks that Hendrik is behind it and has messed up his happiness.
Trui can now see that children do not bring happiness.
When Crisje hears that her sister thinks that, she feels that this must be the answer for Trui and that she can’t understand anything about the real reason anyway.
Finally she summons Trui.
“Oh, Trui, what shall I say.
It isn’t Hendrik, he is for me as Our Lord couldn’t wish for better.
No, it’s something else.
It’s the afterpains, I think.”
Trui can quite understand this.
“That’s natural, natural, that’s very natural.”
She understands that immediately.
All mothers have that, they have to recover first.
But Tall Hendrik will still be behind it, Trui believes, and Crisje does not spoil her illusions.
Now Crisje has a little time again to think about what she has really lost and which made her so happy all that time.
So intensely happy, that she now has to cry about it.
But, after all she knows that she must be strong.
She already sees what strange ideas she is creating; if she is not really careful, she will be talked about in the street, and Tall Hendrik will be in for it.
Because her sister is a gossip.
But those beautiful feelings are gone.
She will tell her Hendrik herself, but will he understand her?
It is so fragile, so rare, something so pure.
You must go down on your knees for this, bow your head deeply, and go into nature and space, then your thoughts will have that sublime flight.
Outside amongst the rye, when the sun is shining and the weather is lovely and just not too warm, and you then feel so fresh and glorious as you sit there like this, it can suddenly come to you.
And then you may not say a word, talk any nonsense and joke about it, or throw each other in the rye, because then you won’t feel it.
Then it’s not there and you cannot make that journey.
Now you are occupied with yourself and you do not feel a shred of it, then you are standing with both feet on the ground in the poverty of this rotten society, this cold, horrible, wretched world, where there is nothing but hate, envy and gossip!
You must be open to it.
You must love it; yes, be willing to give everything of yourself, then it is there!
And now, it is no longer there!
Now it is lying there and it is called ‘Jeus’!
Crisje would be devastated if she wasn’t so strong inside.
Moreover she could cry about it day and night but she refuses to do so.
She can’t have that because that is petty and she doesn’t want anything to do with pettiness.
But it has gone from her.
Precisely, Crisje, it is living there, it is lying there, it is sleeping there.
Yesterday evening, at seven minutes to ten, it was torn away from your life by the process which people call ‘being born’.
Not a second too early or too late, exactly on time and exactly in the right place.
Crisje, if you only knew that you had bore a spiritual prince, a prince of the Universe!
You will probably only hear what it means from this child in forty years time, possibly a bit earlier.
If I went into it and followed the event, I could tell you down to the last second, but that is not the intention.
Why should I grant you this wisdom?
It would only exhaust you.
But how would you receive this life then?
If Tall Hendrik had known this, Crisje, then he would not be a person anymore and he would have exploded.
But we can’t have that!
The stars and planets, Crisje, know about this life.
This life is ‘WAYTI’, Crisje!
You will hear later what this word means!
But I’m telling you, the suns, the stars and planets, this Universe shines from the eyes of Jeus.
Honestly, that silly Gerrit saw and felt it.
Many will still feel it.
The first days after the birth, but then it will be gone and Jeus will be a perfectly ordinary child.
But this life is in the hands of them, Crisje, who no longer belong to this life, but who once also knew a material life.
You will not learn this through your pure, good, best friend, Father, he doesn’t know the truth of the matter either.
This lives somewhere else and no university has been built for it yet.
Jeus will do that!
You must feel it, Crisje.
I am talking like a madman or as an omniscient person, but this omniscience lives in your Jeus!
And that was the feeling, your floating, your being one with the child, this life, which you felt all that time and as a result of which you were so happy and exalted.
Think about it, Crisje, it is good for later, when he awakens and wishes to talk to you!
But you will walk away now and again, Crisje.
Then you will be at a loss, because he will ask you questions, that will dazzle you and which no person can answer to a child, because it is not possible.
Exactly, Crisje, you must think, observe everything, it is re-experience, which Jeus will also have to do some time, if he wishes to give shape to and deal with the laws of Our Lord, and give them a place in this, oh, so rotten society.
Carry on, Crisje, we are keeping watch!
There is a visitor.
Mrs De Man comes with soup for Crisje, but she doesn’t like ?.
It would make her sick and she can’t have that.
She must not upset herself, that is harmful for the child.
Crisje gives her another wise lesson.
With Mrs De Man the lie is standing in front of her mind and her heart.
She solemnly resolves to tell Father everything.
Crisje hammers away at the human soul, where so much evil lives.
She can’t help it, each time she meets bad people Crisje conjures up purgatory and stokes these fires in such a way that people will definitely be frightened.
Trui says:
“That woman doesn’t pay any heed to purgatory anyway; you should throw her directly into hell.
She is shrewd, she is ...” Trui has even more to add, which Crisje had to make do with, and Trui knows all about it.
However Crisje never admits defeat and people know when you come to Crisje you will get worldly wisdom with a capital ‘w’ or a sermon which is not to be sneezed at, and which stands out a mile.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
This little apple comes straight from the Garden of Eden!
Is it tasty?
You have your pockets full and steal like ravens.
You will, therefore go straight to purgatory or even worse, the hells are waiting for you.
But Mrs De Man says:
“I will take care of it, Crisje.
I will better my life, but I must have time.”
This is just exactly something for Crisje.
“What do you mean?
You have already wasted and drunk your time.
It is terrible to have to say it, but it is true.
You must start a better life now!
You must bow your head for Our Lord.
Have you understood, Mrs De Man?
And what did you do with my mark?
That’s the last time, as long as you know.
It is scandalous, you drank that money anyway, didn’t you?”
Crisje takes that unsightly woman to task, such, as it has never happened to her before.
But it is pretty dreadful.
It is so terrible that Crisje can find no words for it.
So bad!
Mrs De Man is in purgatory again and Trui, who is following all of this attentively, even if Crisje is talking so quietly, leers at the new mother with eagle eyes.
Be careful now that that cursed woman doesn’t get any more money.
Because that is serving the devil!
And Trui doesn’t want that, she is better off without him.
But oh, this Trui is not open to Our Lord either.
Crisje has noticed it thousands of times already.
Trui is mean.
Her heart refuses if she has to fork out money.
She now makes things worse and wants that woman to go.
She should slurp her soup herself.
Trui says: “I saw you shuffling along three times to Hent Klink, Mrs De Man”, then Crisje knows that this person has taken outrageous advantage of her again.
Three visits to Hent Klink and in times like this.
Three measures of cheap gin is nothing, but these people drink it by the litre.
But now the reproach is starting to make an impression on Mrs De Man and she becomes visibly anxious.
Crisje starts to feel sorry for the wretch and changes the subject to her husband and son and the ordinary everyday things.
Trui is now ruled out, Crisje feels, she can get to a person and, oh, Crisje is really stupid, that she gave her the chance to completely destroy this life.
She cannot forgive herself for this.
But what kind of things has she landed herself in?
What kind of terrible things do people bring with them, walk round with and get wrapped up in?
Worries are horrible, are insufferable for heart and soul, and Crisje wants nothing to do with them.
Now it is crystal clear that Trui sits behind her curtains and spies on people.
She doesn’t give up yet and wants to be right.
Trui wants to give Crisje a slap in the face; otherwise she will have lost her status in this neighbourhood.
Can’t you answer me, Mrs De Man?
Didn’t you go and fetch jenever three times?”
Mrs De Man feels that the torture is starting all over again.
When she is angry she can swear like a trooper and she becomes livid.
Then her face becomes so hard, so beastly and demonic that it is frightening.
There are people who avoid her because they think that she is the devil in person; such a demonic influence surrounds this woman.
The woman moves a little and then addresses Trui: “Do you know what you can do, old sourpuss, poison ivy?
What do you want from me, bitch?”
There will be an argument and a bust-up, Crisje thinks and she can’t have that.
She orders Trui to hold her tongue and says calmly to Mrs De Man that she needs rest and asks her to leave.
And how polite the unsightly woman is now.
She can do that for Crisje and knows now that she must not row.
But the strength of her one eye floors Trui.
Crisje is bid good day, Trui is invisible to her.
With her skirts up and her head in her neck, this twenty-two high turf stack goes out the door.
But Trui just catches up with her and orders her:
“Through the back, only people go through the front door.”
Mrs De Man spits on the ground.
Crisje turns away.
That one will not be back in the near future.
It really is scandalous, thinks Crisje.
And today of all days.
“If that isn’t a nasty piece!”
They are busy talking.
The sisters have something to say to each other.
But Crisje retreats into herself and asks Trui to be quiet.
In the past Trui was not able to do that, which is also why she stayed away so long.
She cannot forget anything and always wants to have the last word.
Trui refuses to accept anything.
But now she holds her tongue and this is a gain for her character.
Crisje needs time to recover.
This is really something.
And all this on an empty stomach.
Thank God that Hendrik wasn’t home.
Then there would have been the devil to pay.
Through other people you always end up with misery and trouble.
But what is that person doing here?
Who wants to have anything to do with that woman?
But can you keep the door closed for a person?
Let’s forget it, Trui thinks.
But Crisje gets to hear that you don’t have to look for lice, there’s enough around.
She needn’t try knocking at Trui’s door.
But, Crisje knows, with the bad you get the good ones.
Sometimes you can experience happiness through people but in that case you would have lost it.
And Christ said: “There are many dwellings in My Father’s house.”
Never close a door in the face of His children or He will keep the doors of His Kingdom closed for you!
And that is something for which Crisje has sacred respect.
They are the very roots of practising charity.
But in spite of all that, Crisje feels that she has been had again in a bad way!
Bad people have taken her for a ride in a bullying way and so badly that she doesn’t even dare to tell Hendrik.
And Trui knows all of that.
She has already experienced this for years and moreover, she knows that it was she herself who ruined Hendrik completely during the first months of their marriage by telling him everything that Crisje did.
But then it started!
Then Hendrik was given what for and Crisje laid her own solid foundations for her happiness, peace and quiet.
Their marriage is now on solid rocks.
They are the foundations, which cannot be affected by anyone!
However, what was Crisje’s life like at the beginning of her marriage?
Trui gossiped and came between her and Hendrik.
Trui saw everything wrong.
But still Crisje didn’t mind her coming round.
But Crisje had her plans and believed that she shouldn’t do anything yet, then she would have a right to speak later and she could tell her Hendrik the truth, with all his wrong carrying-on and thoughts.
It lasted one year.
But then Tall Hendrik got what for and Trui got such a beating, which was in fact a great miracle, that even uncle Gradus became angry and had to protect his wife, or Hendrik would have killed her.
She screamed like a pig being slaughtered; Hendrik had got hold of her mean person so tenaciously.
Finally Crisje had to come to the aid of her sister.
And how sorry Crisje was!
But she had thought everything through from beginning to end.
Crisje had had to tell her husband because the pile of complaints had become such a horrible mountain that she almost collapsed under it.
It was all Trui’s fault, because she couldn’t stand it that Crisje did good things, and was open to everyone and even gave things away from her modest possessions which she could do without.
Trui thought that was a silly carry-on and couldn’t stand it.
It was very difficult for Tall Hendrik to be able to see through this.
But not for Crisje, and when she saw through her sister completely, she knew how to sort that one out, if she didn’t want to see her happiness and household go to pieces because of her sister’s jealous talk.
And when Hendrik finally understood that Trui defiled his Crisje, his happiness, his love in order to put herself in a good light, Hendrik floored Trui with one blow.
Uncle Gradus, otherwise a wimp of a man, became angry, stood in front of Tall Hendrik and gave his side of the story.
Hendrik should leave!
And he did.
There was friction for months, they did not talk or look at each other.
Trui and Crisje lived in a state of war, but Crisje knew: she was right.
She didn’t have to feel ashamed.
Father also knew all about it, and agreed with Crisje completely.
Yes, Father was a party to all of it, because she had confessed all her sins, as a result of which her confessor understood everything about her life.
When Hendrik believed that he had to give Crisje a good hiding, Father intervened and said to Tall Hendrik:
“Have you finally got your eyes open, Hendrik?
Are you trying to tell me that it’s your Crisje?”
Father was not allowed to give anything away from the confessional box.
But to Hendrik, Father is not so high and mighty as you think, he doesn’t know for himself beforehand what the situation was.
Crisje analyzed everything and then confessed it honestly.
As a result of this Father had respect for this pure life, this child of God, this unique soul.
“Don’t touch Crisje”, Father had said to Tall Hendrik, “then you will have me to answer to!
And if you lay your hands on Trui, you don’t have to come back to me again, Hendrik.
Because we are all sinners and children of one Father!
But Crisje, you leave her alone!
Crisje belongs to us all, Hendrik, because Crisje is a blessing for the church!”
Father made sure that Trui started talking again.
Because that was certainly desirable.
After all, they lived next to each other.
If Crisje had to see to her pigs or chickens and Trui, like her, was also busy at the back of the house, Crisje felt as if she were being stabbed by knives.
Many a night Crisje lay crying about it, for months on end and hour after hour she sent up her prayers.
Finally her prayers were heard.
When Trui came round again the heavens opened for Crisje.
Trui was still a difficult person with an annoying character, but you had to oblige just such a person and help her as much as possible.
Trui had learned something, but for both Tall Hendrik and Crisje it was a difficult task to live in harmony with her.
Hendrik did not pay much attention to his sister-in-law any more.
Anybody should dare now to say anything against his wife.
Hendrik thanked God on his bare knees that He had saved his Crisje for him.
As a result of all that misery he had created a heaven with his Cris, which no one could take away from them again.
If Trui wished, she could look in and mop the floors.
But there wasn’t any more for her to do there.
Trui had no eyes and even less understanding for Crisje and Hendrik’s happiness.
This had become the life psychology of two people, which only came into existence through love and justice.
Now there was no other person in the world, no matter how knowledgeable, who could drive a wedge between Tall Hendrik and Crisje.
Trui had come up against a brick wall.
The whole neighbourhood and complete surroundings knew of the happiness and wisdom which reigned in this family.
Even the boss in Emmerik came to hear about it and invited Crisje to visit.
He also wanted to meet this wonder of wisdom and love some time, from whom there was so much to learn.
And so Crisje put on her new dress and went with Hendrik to Emmerik to visit his lord and master, the wine merchant.
It was a real feast for her.
The boss quickly noticed that the wife of his employee was of better stock and when, during the conversation, she told about which families she used to have contact with, the boss and his wife sat there listening with their mouths wide open and with looks of astonishment.
But Tall Hendrik had backed a winner, as long as he was aware of that.
Crisje was a lady.
They couldn’t stop talking about it and later they asked her several times whether she would come again.
But she didn’t have time for that.
After all she had her own life and household, and was far too busy to pay visits often.
Crisje now lets Trui think what she likes.
She knows her sister and knows that the fire in her burns out very quickly.
She would pile up trouble upon trouble if they got under each other’s feet.
Crisje possesses an infallible intuition to allow this life to muddle on until the moment of spiritual awakening.
She sees that her sister is up to her neck among the weeds.
Crisje now lets her sort it out herself, and, sensible as always, she just agrees with Trui and follows the only path, shown by Our Lord: the path of ‘love’.
After all, because she is life, a woman and a human being, Trui also wants to have a taste of what makes those two so happy.
For her it is one healthy boy after another.
Crisje is probably right, maybe she is too rigid, too staid and too hard on herself.
Who knows.
Yet, Trui has learned something.
She contains herself more easily, and doesn’t open her mouth so quickly any more.
She already prefers to leave the house than to start on Hendrik, and to challenge him to a duel as it were, as she used to.
And Tall Hendrik?
Oh, he generally doesn’t see her any more.
He is finished with Trui and if now and again she is within his sight, then he only sees a person, who is only here a while, but whom he wants as little as possible to do with.
This is also why Trui had to leave that bottle of wine alone.
He will not let it be sullied by her no matter what.
Crisje got a fright of course, because she felt for Trui and understood Hendrik.
Trui kept her lips tightly closed, but steered clear of her brother-in-law and did not stir up trouble.
Silently, Crisje gave her a pat on the back.
Her sister now really stood up to Hendrik.
They were the signs of awakening and relaxing, although they didn’t mean much to Our Lord yet.
However, if Trui was faced with other people, she was immediately ready for attack.
Despite all of this, she was still busy laying a foundation.
Of course, it was clear that this was only for her own self and happiness, with the apparent intention of winning a place amongst all these people who, after all, had their own flaws.
According to Trui everything stank!
And if a person had no clothes on any more, he was nothing.
Crisje found the expressions which her sister always used too cheap, too transparent and too poor in spirit.
They were nothing more than trying to save her own self, which was, however, not acknowledged openly and consciously by a single person in the village.
People found her just an ordinary person, a beanpole with a mouth and some hair on it.
Uncle Gradus’ Trui was a cold and impassive figure and definitely not a chaplet for Crisje.
Her dress rehearsals for communion and other religious customs bounced off the walls of the church and people saw through them.
People knew what a prayer from her was worth.
No, if they needed help they asked Crisje to pray for their happiness and bliss, who was happy to do so.
But there were so many.
Therefore when she saw that they were not worth it and didn’t do anything themselves for it, she stopped with her prayers.
After all, Our Lord was not a market vendor.
Trui’s prayers hung like wet washing in the garden when there is no dryness in the air and it is misty day and night.
Everyone knew that and she herself did as well.
Her mind would not crack and burst and her feeling couldn’t develop.
She missed the vital spark.
Father also knew that, because he knew his flock.
The maternal warm feeling, the urge to caress and soothe, to love everything that lives, did not reach any higher than the bench she was sitting on.
People did not accept the humility which she displayed.
No one took that seriously.
Born and bred together in the same area, they were completely familiar with each other’s characters.
They knew what you were thinking about, what you felt and what was on your mind.
Trui’s prayers, said Tall Hendrik, were like a chicken which could cackle but which never laid an egg.
Of course it went in the pot, because you have to slaughter greedy-guts!
Crisje sees today that Trui often falls back into her own hard world, but has learned something, and that is worth thanking Our Lord for.
Crisje prays for the well-being of her family and for all her other fellow human beings; prayers which fly into the universe.
Crisje must have had answers to her prayers at least fifty times.
People came to tell her themselves that their troubles had disappeared.
It was because of her, her prayer could work wonders.
And Father also knew that, as a result of which no child of his parish could point a finger at her, or they would have to answer to him.
She had acquired this wonderful respect and Tall Hendrik could make hay and allow himself to say: “I am the happiest man in the world!”
Trui has lost and no longer tries to upset this marriage, because she would break her neck on the foundations laid, which have been blessed by Our Lord himself.
And now: it’s okay.
Trui is searching for a path.
Crisje lets her sister discover this path for herself.
Help not asked for would work as an obstruction in the development of Trui’s character.
Of course Crisje is prepared to assist her and to take care of her day and night with her great love.
But Trui is there again and Crisje finds this a supernatural mercy.
When she comes back, after she has let Mrs De Man out the door, Crisje says:
“You are right, Trui.
Such people are the downfall of another.”
That is grist to Trui’s mill.
She has her answer already:
“I could have told you and taught you that before, but you think that I have no heart.”
Yes, Trui, now you are right.
Giving money to Mrs De Man is serving the devil.
Trui throws the soup out for the pigs, which costs Crisje a quick prayer again, because there are so many poor people who could have benefited from it.
This is a sin in Crisje’s eyes and she resolves, when the first pig is slaughtered in the autumn, to give a portion of it to the first beggar who happens to come to her door.
Mrs De Man won’t be forgotten then either.
Apart from that, what a day it has been, what a lot she has to think about again and to reflect on before she can do anything, at least if she doesn’t want to mess things up and prevent Trui from gaining control.
The neighbours come, neither Crisje nor Trui are particularly keen on the visitors.
After all, it is not sincere interest, but only to satisfy their curiosity in seeing how holy Crisje is doing now.
Furthermore, there will just be a load of gossip about all the people in the neighbourhood.
“And Crisje, did you have much pain?”
“Oh, Mrs Ruikes, what can I say, it happened on its own.”
“And Crisje, was it very bad?”
“Oh, Mrs Kniep, what can I say?
It had happened before I knew it.”
Crisje is getting fed up with the moaning.
With a meaningful look at the clock Trui says that it’s time for Crisje to rest.
But the women are not planning to move on immediately by the first warning.
Such an afternoon must be exploited considerably.
The titbit is too tasty to leave just like that.
Luckily not too many ‘interested people’ have come.
However there are some whom you almost never see and whom you only know very superficially.
But these people also force themselves upon your life and it is very difficult to keep the door closed for them.
Crisje could barely appreciate the eggs brought by the visitors.
How many people are there who need them far more?
Never before did Crisje heartily detest all this fuss so much, all that gossip and this morbid curiosity.
How often had the women dragged each other through the mud with their gossip about each other?
It was often that this talk also reached the bar of Hent Klink.
That then sometimes caused more than flaming rows amongst the men.
No, Crisje couldn’t care less, what it’s like in another person’s house and what another person does.
In her house everything is simple and tidy.
Trui can manage better because uncle Gradus earns more and there are no children in that household, although, as far as earnings are concerned, a change is starting to take place, because Tall Hendrik thinks of everything to increase his income.
Trui really liked to let her sister feel that she was much better off and had a much better life.
But Trui doesn’t do that anymore.
When she once more felt the need to comment on how her sister was less well-off in a condescending manner, Crisje slashed her happiness in one fell swoop.
“The pigs wouldn’t eat those riches of yours, Trui.
It would make them sick too.”
Trui was shocked, became bright red, but was sensible enough to leave this subject alone from then on.
No, Trui, that happiness of yours is not worth much.
Very sensible of you, that you decided not to go into Crisje’s opinion further and not to meddle with her happiness any more.
That golden happiness of Crisje is sacrosanct.
She won’t let it be sullied by any person and therefore not by you either.
Trui has made tasty soup.
The mood is extraordinarily pleasant and their hearts beam with joy and happiness.
When Johan and Bernard assure their mother that they are starving, they are sent to aunt Trui.
Johan can sweet-talk so well that you become weak at the knees.
But what is seen as sweet-talk often comes from the sensitive, golden heart of the child.
That does not escape Trui either and the sincerity of this little character touches her time and again.
She also knows very well that Bernard likes her much less and, as young as he is, he sees through her character and actions.
She knows that Bernard is forced to put up with her presence, but would really rather not see his aunt.
Tall Hendrik comes in and with his arrival there is authority in the house again.
It is now a case of watching out and being careful of your words, because Trui and her brother-in-law are still like fire and water.
Only Hendrik doesn’t pay much attention to his sister-in-law anymore and she just has to put up with it.
He is not impolite to her, but that’s about all.
“Good day, Trui.”
“Good day, Hendrik.”
“Good day, Cris.
Who all came?”
Crisje greets her husband, but skims over his question.
“Oh, Hendrik, no one special.
You know I don’t like visitors.
Did you go to Father?”
“Naturally, Cris.”
“And, Hendrik?”
“We had a nice glass of wine and sat and had a nice chat.
What a good person he is, Cris.
He knows about everything.”
“Yes, that’s true.
Our priest is a good person.
And we should jump for joy that we have got such a good one back.
We can’t thank Our Lord enough for that.”
“Stop it, Cris, he is not a saint either.”
Tall Hendrik restrains his wife a bit; otherwise her soul will take too high a flight with Father.
“Is Father still coming, Hendrik?”
“Yes, tomorrow, I think, Cris.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
Hendrik enjoys his dinner.
He has also had a few drinks but he knows his limit.
That is also a quality of his for which Crisje is grateful.
He has a lot to do.
He looks at Jeus and the boys, then flies out the door again for his portraits and does not come home until late.
Of course, Crisje would rather have kept him at home, but she had to resign herself to it.
After all, he had got another order again and the money is simply useful.
Late in the evening there is also a visitor, one of their best friends, who is now standing in front of them.
Casje, the peddler.
Casje is almost as big as Tall Hendrik, but he is an invalid, his forearms are missing.
Like Gerrit Noesthede he is an extraordinary joker, but then in a different way.
He travels and hikes everywhere and by sheer coincidence he happened to be in the village.
He usually hangs out somewhere else.
As has already been said, the vendor is a born comedian and Crisje usually has to laugh even when just looking at him.
Tall Hendrik greets him with a:
“The best people always come at night.”
“Good evening, Crisje.”
Casje cannot shake hands and makes faces instead.
He makes a comical face and then you have to laugh, and that is sometimes worth more than a handshake, which often just results in a clammy, horrible feeling.
Casje has, also in common with Gerrit Noesthede, a good mind and a handwriting which they cannot improve upon at the town hall.
When it is known that he is back in the village, people come to him with letters which contain one thing or another, which they cannot explain.
Casje is well-versed and writes with curls, which Tall Hendrik is jealous of.
His deceased parents were well-off and gave him a decent education.
It is his own free choice that he is now a peddler and hikes through the country with his wares.
He probably won’t marry either and will remain alone, although he also pretends that he has had plenty of women and that he has now had more than enough of them.
Casje and Crisje have known each other since they were children and have always got on well together.
Tall Hendrik also likes him, because the peddler has become one of them, whom you can really talk to.
It was Casje actually who put Hendrik in touch with the man with the portraits.
There in Didam, where Casje traipsed about, he met the portrait painter.
“I’ll only stay a while, Crisje.
I know that I’m late but I heard about your Jeus and I thought I won’t deny myself that, you would never be able to forgive me!”
Hendrik and Casje talk a bit about the run of things regarding the portraits.
Casje claims that Hendrik can make a mint of money with them, if he goes out now and again.
He himself cannot have this business on top of his own.
Hendrik knows that he really doesn’t need this whole business, because when it comes down to it, Casje has a nest egg.
That nest egg is lying quietly somewhere amongst the people, and Casje knows for certain that no one is capable of swindling him out of this money.
So sharp and quick-witted is Casje.
Leave that to him.
They have another drink.
This day won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Casje’s chest is standing in the corner of the kitchen.
He can never come without bringing something for Crisje.
He will also make her happy again this time with a present.
He dives into his peddler’s chest and rummages about.
Then he finds what he is looking for and shows it to Tall Hendrik.
The rover is a born diplomat and good judge of character, with a good heart and honest through and through.
Casje shows Hendrik his present for Crisje and she can have no scruples about it.
Because with this gift of his friendship Casje is clearly showing that he is not thinking of entering a territory where he doesn’t belong.
Certainly, Casje is only a simple person and a very ordinary peddler, but with a spiritual magnitude which prevents him from touching those sacred things and truths which a husband demands for himself.
Nothing or no one can or may come between this.
These are sacred matters, which only the husband is entitled to take care of for his wife.
Casje knows: the wife must have a cross and chain from her own husband and no other.
Hendrik is afraid that Casje doesn’t know his Crisje.
A pity, he thinks, because now he has to hurt his friend.
How can he intervene so quickly that Crisje is not presented with something, which she cannot accept, and Casje is spared a painful refusal.
Tall Hendrik is sitting there like a beaten dog, the personification of the worst disaster, because Crisje has been longing for a cross and chain for such a long time, he feels like a dirty old dog and a senseless nasty piece of work because he should have taken care of that long ago.
Today of all days it would have been almost the height of bliss for her and, yet again, it goes through his head.
It is as if it is not meant to be!
But Hendrik has been worried for nothing.
After all, Casje’s inner feeling has already warned him.
It will remain a mystery for both of them how this is possible.
From her box bed Crisje could follow those two there in the kitchen and saw what the visitor first wanted to take out of the chest.
But she will never wear that!
Never a cross and chain from a man who doesn’t belong to you.
That would be a snare for yourself with regard to Our Lord.
A prayer which you would send up would always concern the man from whom you received the cross and chain.
That touches the soul, the spirit, life and happiness.
Crisje would only contaminate and defile herself with it.
No, never, could she wear that thing, only Tall Hendrik can give it to her, and then it is a blessing!
Casje doesn’t give Crisje a cross and chain.
Hendrik should be pleased that he is so sensitive.
He does exactly what the mother of Jeus wants him to do, takes a nice cloth and brings it to her.
“Look, Crisje, for Jeus.”
And this is a beautiful gift.
The silk shines towards her.
“Casje, thank you!”
Also from the ‘angels’ here, Casje, whom you cannot see, but who granted you that sensitivity and which also means for you that there is more between heaven and earth which people know nothing about!
But we assure you: Our Lord was pleased with your decision.
It is a strange sight to see Casje use a fork and knife with his wooden arms.
If he wants to write he slides his wooden arms and hands onto his stumps, leans his elbows on the table and embellishes his writing with curls, which they could take as an example in the ministries and other official offices.
For that matter Casje had been a town clerk writer for a while in a town hall, but his love of nature was so strong that he gave up his job and one fine day he said:
“You can find another for me, I’m not a person for sitting.”
This was the end of Casje’s career as a town clerk and his bartering along the road and his life in God’s free, wonderful nature started.
As far afield as Zwolle people now know the travelling peddler with his antics and merriment, his human kindness and his magnitude of soul and spirit.
Casje, who was still a gentleman and remained a gentleman, despite his occasional high-spirited moods, when he would jump about round his peddler’s chest like a complete madman, like a bull fighter in the arena around a wounded bull, because that brought him happiness.
It brought him so much happiness that he sometimes didn’t know what to do with it.
What did a person want with that cursed money?
What did a person want with money, if he didn’t have normal arms and a normal body?
So was he not a person?
Well no, you don’t have to talk to Casje about Our Lord, who loves all His children.
Not that.
Crisje knows Casje and Casje knows Crisje.
They have talked out their petty things more than once together, and still built up an enormous respect and reverence for each other.
One of them knows that the great faith in her Lord cannot be affected or shattered by anything, while the other one knows that she has to leave this soul alone.
She couldn’t help here.
The deficient pair of arms comes between this and cannot be got rid of.
But Casje is a good person and not a tramp.
They were good friends and remained so.
Crisje never tried to serve the deformed person with the holy sacraments any more.
She left that to Father.
In those days Hendrik had had some fun never to be forgotten.
Both fought for one and the same law, one and the same Lord.
The one a God-fearing woman, the other a man with arm stumps.
Casje was always welcome and Crisje was always there for him, made coffee and served him as she served Tall Hendrik.
Not so long ago Casje came unexpectedly and knocked in his own fashion on the windows at half past three at night.
Crisje, who was awake immediately, jumped out of her warm bed, stoked up the stove, fried eggs, gave the visitor a straw mattress and got back under the blankets.
Hendrik wakened for a moment and said: “Good night Casje” and went back to sleep.
That’s Crisje for you!
She did that for him as well as for others.
But this friend possessed her heart and affection, because he was a gentleman and was such a good influence on her Hendrik.
But Crisje went through fire for all her friends; everyone could count on her help and assistance.
Never ever did anyone knock on her heart or house for nothing.
Casje always knocked on the windows in a special way.
Then Tall Hendrik mumbled in his sleep:
“Cris, Casje’s here.”
Casje knew that his friends lived here.
Crisje was like a mother to him.
Both had a profound respect for each other, but they did not give each other an inch.
However, these strong personalities understood the art of living, how to react in certain circumstances.
Casje did a bunk now.
He was still expected somewhere else.
Hendrik now crawled into bed and promised Crisje that he would think about the cross and chain.
Crisje knew her husband, but she would never ask for it.
Then there would be no bliss to be seen or felt on the cross and chain.
So deep were Crisje’s feelings for this gift, and so deep was its meaning for her spiritual life.
She would not let this sully her, not even for a cross of diamonds.
But she wanted a cross and chain from her Tall Hendrik!
But who could let him know this, who could give him this feeling?
You cannot force feelings.
You saw that with Trui, with Mrs De Man and almost every person.
It sometimes took a lifetime to acquire a bit of feeling.
Time and again you had to be ready to be able to help a person and to want to understand, otherwise you were not as Our Lord wished you to be.
Crisje is resting and Hendrik is already snoring.
But, what a miracle, his snoring is much less piercing.
He is now sleeping in a very civilized way with his trap shut.
If that could be conquered as well, he will be her king with a cardboard crown, but still of real nobility!
Crisje has much to pray about tonight, a lot to give thanks for and to be happy about.
Today she has dealt with quite a bit, and has made a clean sweep.
As long as she doesn’t get herself into any more new troubles, life will be wonderful again and the neighbours and everyone in the area will have her blessing.
Jeus is having a nice sleep.
The child is as sound as a bell.
Everything is going very well and she already feels able to get up tomorrow if necessary.
Hendrik kissed his wife three times and went back to work.
An hour later Mina also comes in.
They are busy talking.
Anxiously picking your words is not necessary now, because Mina absorbs everything and Crisje doesn’t have to worry that Trui will do anything wrong again.
The morning flies past and it is already afternoon when Crisje experiences her great joy.
Father has come to visit her.
“Good day, Crisje, how are you?”
“Very well, Father, thank you.”
“And where is Jeus now?
So, is that Jeus?
My Crisje, what nice eyes he has.”
“From feeding, Father, because he has just been fed.”
“No, Crisje, none of that, he looks different from the other two boys.
It is true.
You can be grateful to Our Lord, Crisje!”
“I am grateful, Father, and Father knows that, don’t you?
But I have something to confess, Father.”
“Have you something to confess, Crisje?
I will forgive you anyway!”
“No, Father, I’m serious.”
Crisje tells what is really wrong.
She has been lying terribly and it burdens her.
The child’s feed has been spoiled because of it.
That is too much for Father Luninkhof.
That is very bad.
He tells Crisje what she should have done.
“I would like to tell you something, Crisje, stay the way you are and I will forgive you everything through Our Lord.
But now I want to look at Jeus.”
The good man looks at the child.
Jeus has already closed his eyes, the young life is sleeping.
The priest observes the young life and is now thinking and feeling.
Crisje notices that something special is about to happen.
Father is daydreaming.
The silence has entered him, Crisje feels.
Could that be the same, wonderful silence and peace which descended into her so often while carrying Jeus?
Yes, Crisje, those same feelings have entered Father by looking at and fathoming of the child.
Something is coming from this small being.
It lifted up the spirit of the elderly priest and took him to another world.
It is taking a long time.
At least ten minutes have passed and Father is still sitting there without moving.
He now possesses wings and is in another world, in that of the universe.
He hears singing and sees flowers.
He feels himself raised up and become one with God.
Crisje waits respectfully.
Then life returns to Father again.
He rubs his eyes and then says:
“Well, Crisje, I was in a heaven!
My child, how grateful you can be.
And what a beautiful child it is.
I will think of him and include him in my prayers!”
That is the nicest gift, which Crisje can receive.
Father returns to his church and kneels at the altar.
What was the full meaning of his vision?
He thanked God for this glimpse of heaven.
Through Jeus he was in contact with the heavens.
A great and mighty wonder.
This child of Crisje will make a name for himself one day.
Jeus is a heavenly child and a power lives in that soul, which is not of this world.
Everyone feels that.
Tall Hendrik did not say too much, on the contrary.
But what is it?
What is it?
Father can only thank God, he doesn’t see and feel more than that.
But he was under the influence of the child, and he bowed his head.
This priest got wings.
He travelled in the same way as Crisje was able to do for nine months, but which gift she now no longer possesses.
A great pity, but maybe there will be other times and other children.
However, she is certain of one thing.
She will not have two of these rays of light.
She will talk to Hendrik about it sometime.
Father said exactly what she thought of it herself.
You may not support drunkards and help to promote evil in a person.
That is wrong.
Trui is also right, Crisje, but of course that is a completely different matter.
When Tall Hendrik comes home, Crisje’s face is beaming with bliss and you can also see on Hendrik’s face that he is a happy person.
Where there is so much blessing, where so much sympathy is experienced, the human eye receives a gleam and a shine, heart and mind become weak.
It gives a new form to the spirit and personality, it casts a spell on the person, makes his footsteps lighter and turns him, even if he doesn’t believe it himself, completely upside down and makes him into a different person.
How long such a thing lasts is not important.
Every person gets to experience an hour or a day like that, because that’s why you are human after all.
“Good day, Trui.”
“Good day, Hendrik.”
Crisje listens, pleased.
Does she hear a better and higher tuned tone, or what is it?”
“Tell me quickly, Cris, what all happened to you today.”
She tells everything precisely with all the details and doesn’t forget anything, or that she confessed as well.
Tall Hendrik has to laugh.
It comes bursting out.
He has brought something nice again and this bottle must also be uncorked.
Trui has to have a drink too, even if she claims not to like any wine now.
Her protest is not accepted.
She will drink a glass of wine to the health of mother and child.
Good health, Cris, there you go.
“Heavens above, Hendrik, that’s a good one.”
“That will be right”, Hendrik screams, “I was allowed to pick mine.
Here is one from the boss and one from his wife.
Look, Cris?
It’s this one.”
Crisje looks at the fine bottle of wine, pure blood, according to her husband, and for her alone.
If she happens to feel like it.
Trui is a bit more talkative, but goes home soon.
Tall Hendrik actually asks whether Gradus is coming.
She will pass on the request.
There is unity again for them.
The door of their temple is closed, they are alone again.
Hendrik knows that Crisje only discusses her most sacred problems with him if she feels that both Hendrik and herself are in the right spiritual harmony.
Gradus is not coming, Trui drops in to tell them that he has gone to a meeting.
Even better, thinks Tall Hendrik, then he can devote himself entirely to Cris and he will hear something for a change.
When Tall Hendrik stands in front of Jeus and it is taking too long for Crisje before he says anything, she is afraid that, like Father, he will lose his thoughts for this world and she therefore calls him back:
“You are doing the same as Father, Hendrik.
He also couldn’t get enough and thought that he was sitting in a heaven thinking!”
“You can think what you like about me, Cris, but he has something!
I don’t believe it myself, tomorrow I will have forgotten it again, now I can’t understand it.”
“Shall I tell you something, Hendrik?”
“What do you want to tell me?”
“I had to cry about him.
I had to cry because I am now alone, now I can’t fly or listen any more.
Now I will probably no longer feel that silence, now I am as poor as a church mouse.”
But that is pretty crazy, thinks Hendrik.
He has never heard Crisje like this before.
“What are you saying?”, he asks.
“What do you mean?”
“Yes,” Crisje continues, “Hendrik, what Father felt, I felt and carried for nine months.”
I’ve been flying for so long!
I have been in that silence for so long, in that heaven.
I do not yet know what all this means, but it will be something!
That is as certain as anything, Hendrik.
And he has something to say.”
Yes, Hendrik, how must Crisje express this in words?
She feels it.
She has experienced it, it was part of her heart.
Even though every mother experiences something similar, this is different!
This has a universal meaning.
It is pure spiritual gold, it connects you with all of God’s life.
When Tall Hendrik has listened to everything and he sees that Crisje is deadly serious, he follows the peaceful breathing of the child again.
For a moment he tears himself loose, as if he is afraid of starting to float as well, and he doesn’t want to lose himself!