Don ’t take that away from me, Hendrik, otherwise I can no longer live
Jeus now runs through the house, just like Johan and Bernard.
He plays and romps with the family dog, Fanny.
Life is starting to expand for him.
It is becoming nicer.
Every hour life changes for Jeus and Crisje.
But once again Crisje witnesses to another strange event with regard to Jeus.
He is following something that seems to be floating around in the kitchen, which he can see, but it is invisible to Crisje.
Even Johan was aware of it and asked:
“What’s he doing jumping about like a madman, Mother?
But what is he looking for and what is he doing?”
‘Yes, Johan,’ thought Crisje, ‘if only we knew.
Probably we would also start to skip through the house and would find things which we cannot buy here!’
Johan only listened for a minute.
Bernard didn’t even go into it.
Bernard thinks fast and is alert like his father.
That’s something, if children can change something in the kitchen with their skipping, which an old woman then notices.
But Crisje is not old.
She has just turned thirty.
The party was great.
Crisje will never forget her birthday.
How Gerrit let rip along with Hendrik; it was such good fun!
They sang the whole evening until deep in the night, because it coincided nicely with a good wage earned by Tall Hendrik.
It was a bundle of money, and pure profit.
The portraits, and that money as well which he had earned with his singing and waiting tables at the Broezia.
Waiting tables at the Broezia, in Emmerik, having a nice seat outside and enjoying their lemonades and drinks, is something for Tall Hendrik.
The richest people, he said, come there.
He had to think about it, as did Crisje, because you see, their Sunday, the only day of the week, which they could enjoy together, was lost completely to it.
But what can you do?
It has been a long winter.
And another child is born to Crisje and Hendrik.
Whose name is Gerrit.
The boys are in need of essentials.
Money disappears just like that.
You don't know where it got to.
And things are expensive.
Tall Hendrik did what he thought best,
And he got a job as a waiter and earned some extra money.
And when it was Crisje’s birthday once again, in the holy days of Our Lord, exactly on Christmas Day, there was a party in the house never to be forgotten.
Those days were special already.
It was as if, Tall Hendrik readily admitted, Our Lord had granted Crisje the grace to be born on His day.
Yes, that was really something special.
Crisje brings honour to Our Lord.
She lives according to his teachings and is happy with that.
However, Hendrik knows that all this doesn’t bring in a single cent.
If you want to have money, you have to work for it yourself.
You must think and not wait too long with a decision, because other people will beat you to it, and you will be left behind bars yawning.
Crisje had been frugal.
She had been saving money and they had promised themselves they would buy or rent themselves a piece of land with it.
In any case, it lay there in the cupboard.
It was not yet enough, but the rest would come soon.
Because she did extra work at the other farms.
And so the ship sailed on.
Two strong and aware people beat each storm.
Here the ship had never ended up in a situation where you could say: it is sailing towards destruction.
It is heading straight for the rocks.
That did not exist for Crisje and Hendrik.
It was not possible!
They had examples enough which told them: That’s not the way ..., like this, that is better and more careful!
When there was enough money Crisje could go to the land.
Their own land at that.
But it had to be ploughed first.
And that required money as well.
Gerrit van Hosman did this for her and didn’t charge much.
She jumped for joy about the land and sang her highest song to Our Lord, from gratitude for this unprecedented happiness.
Crisje hauled along the manure and liquid manure for the potatoes herself.
Yes, she wouldn’t dare tell Tall Hendrik about it, because that was men’s work.
Such a barrel full of liquid manure was heavy.
And she had to push it in a wheelbarrow for a long way.
A horse and cart cost handfuls of money and there was no end to all that renting.
Some fifteen barrels had to be put over the land, if she wanted to enjoy her own potatoes.
And, if you wanted to eat tasty food, you had to make a sacrifice.
For now the cellar was full!
When she went down only four or five steps, she was already standing on the potatoes.
Crisje got such a lot out of her own ground.
But what a job it was!
She still didn’t understand how her back wasn’t broken.
Even up to the last minute before Gerrit was born, Crisje was still on the land.
People did not talk about it as a scandal, but they did consider it a bit too much.
How Hendrik let ‘his wife work!
Crisje was a drudge!’
But Crisje has no time to think about it.
She must prepare the land, which consisted of hauling all the essentials.
Back and forth with the wheelbarrow, half an hour with all those things.
Then planting the potatoes one by one.
Anyway, people knew what had to be done before they are boiled and are on the table.
But if you had worked for them and grown them yourself, only then could you taste how good they were.
Then they are your own potatoes.
Johan and Bernard couldn’t get enough of them.
Johan and Bernard had to help as well.
Crisje made the holes and Johan was allowed to throw a potato into it.
Then came Bernard with the liquid manure.
Sometimes the roles were reversed.
She therefore had to give credit where it was due; the boys had done their best and earned their potato.
And got as many as they wanted.
Tall Hendrik sometimes asked: “Is it not too much for you, Cris?”
But then it was always: “No, Hendrik, I really like doing it, you don’t have to worry about me.”
Crisje had her own plans.
Tall Hendrik didn’t know everything about them.
Each week beggars came to get their bite to eat and Crisje had potatoes for them.
Of course, she knew she could have earned money by selling some potatoes but she didn’t do that; those she had to spare were for the poor.
These beggars told her that they had never eaten so well and that was the satisfaction in it for Crisje.
These thanks were what she had drudged for the whole year.
All these things haunted Crisje, as she busily poked at the stove.
Jeus was now crying as he had never cried before.
What could Jeus see this time, Crisje thought?
She followed her own heart and continued her work in the kitchen.
What Jeus saw were lights, many coloured lights.
He attempted to grasp at them but apparently they were out of reach.
And those lights were invisible again to another.
Only Jeus could see them.
Just look at that child, thinks Crisje!
You would swear that it is playing in the heavens.
But what is Jeus following?
Jeus sees luminous balloons and children who are playing with him.
These children are also invisible to Crisje.
But you must hear and see it, she thinks, it is heavenly.
Jeus laughed, and was having enormous fun.
If Johan and Bernard ever stood there watching, Crisje only heard: ‘He is completely mad ...’
Too harsh from a child’s mouth, but they heard that from the big ones.
Only Jeus lived in this world!
And that world was for him alone!
He climbs onto the chairs and tries to catch the balls of light, Crisje notices that they move on again.
Yes, if you see all that, you forget to watch the stove and you can start all over again.
Jeus doesn’t look at toys.
Those wooden things don’t mean anything to him.
He must have living toys.
Fanny has therefore become a friend of Jeus, you can’t keep the dog away from him.
Which Johan and Bernard are jealous of.
It doesn’t help, you must conquer hearts and Jeus had won Fanny’s heart long ago.
The dog is so fond of him, that Crisje enjoys it herself because she sees that pure love always conquers all.
Because Jeus is also fond of Fanny, he shares his food with him, so that Crisje has to watch, or the child will eat nothing more himself and give the dog everything.
Johan and Bernard are already furious because they cannot get Fanny out the door.
And when the dog ever wants to go out into the fresh air, romps with Bernard who has the greatest fun, the animal has already disappeared five minutes later and Bernard finds it back with Jeus.
Crisje once asked Bernard:
“What do you want here, Bennad?”
“It’s that cursed dog, mother!
You can’t keep it outside for a minute.
But I have something to say as well!”
This is how Bernard is, thinks Crisje.
She also knows that Fanny has found his master in Jeus.
That does Crisje good, because she wants a good mate for Jeus.
Jeus sees the balloons of light flying through the kitchen.
“Balloons, balloons, mama.”
And that is also something else new.
Usually Jeus says mother like the other boys.
But now he is playing with the universe, to call it that, he says ‘mama’, which sounds like really High Dutch.
Here no child says that.
In the corner of the kitchen Jeus sees a beautiful man.
However, he is likewise invisible to Crisje.
This man is very friendly to Jeus.
He laughs at Jeus and he talks to him.
Jeus calls the man the ‘Tall One’ because he is just as big as father.
And this man has exactly the same goatee beard under his chin.
Just like father.
This Tall One brings these balls to Jeus and also the children with whom he can play.
And this man only visible to Jeus nods to him.
He is the one who brought in the so-called cursed wreath from outside.
And also gave Jeus the rattle and made Crisje go through all this.
She is not sorry about it, because this man took Jeus and her to the Parvis of Our Lord.
If this man, dear Crisje, is able to release you and Jeus from this so solid world and put a garment on you of heavenly blue, and can show you how beautiful you are in reality; just imagine what you will get to see when he can work with his own powers.
If they are ever steaming ahead at full power, only then will you fully experience miracles.
All this is only child’s play, compared with what lies ahead of you.
Jeus claps his hands from happiness.
Crisje cannot get enough of it.
She hears him say ‘Tall One’.
Jeus looks in a corner of the kitchen where that nice man is standing and claps his hands again.
What is that?
Nice birds come flying.
Into the kitchen.
Jeus dances with pleasure.
Crisje burns her fingers on the stove.
Today it is like the angels are visiting.
It is heavenly.
But who will believe it?
No one, but that doesn’t matter, if only you see it and Jeus experiences it.
The rest of the world has nothing to do with it!
But it comes from Our Lord!
Suddenly Jeus goes away.
The child runs to the back and messes about with something.
Crisje wants to know what the child is up to.
When she comes near him, Jeus pulls her to the rabbit hutches.
He must have a rabbit.
Finally Crisje understands what the child wants.
She takes two rabbits and gives them to him.
Jeus now races as fast as he can back to the kitchen.
What does he want now?
Crisje sees that Jeus wants to throw the rabbits in the air.
That is strange, she thinks, but she continues to watch the child quietly.
The friends of Jeus have brought living toys for him, and he wants to do the same for them.
They must just admire his little rabbits sometime.
What now happens is so heavenly and so beautiful, if you could see that, Crisje, you would cry.
The Tall One also has to admire the rabbits and the invisible children enjoy themselves, but not in the way they enjoyed the balls.
Yes, they know those animals well, but it is so long ago and already so far away.
A few of the children still know these animals, there they also call them rabbits.
But what is an earthly rabbit compared to one of these glittering balls from Our Lord.
Crisje sees that Jeus is starting to look disappointed.
You felt that well, Crisje, because rabbits do not give light.
The rabbits, however much Jeus throws them in the air, fall back to earth again where they belong.
Rabbits are impeded by their flesh and blood and those heavenly balloons, Crisje, are of a thinner material, even your fairground balloons cannot compete.
Because they are coarse.
In those other ones you could see your reflection as in the crystal clear water of Our Lord in the Parvis.
Crisje tries to lift Jeus up and press him to her heart, because she feels this is an unequal ‘game’.
But she is brought down to earth with a shock.
Jeus cannot be approached.
‘Strange’, she thinks, ‘He doesn’t want to be pitied either!
He is just like me!
If it is not possible, then it’s just a case of waiting, or nothing at all.
Good, Jeus, never say die.
That is quite something, you are a plucky boy!’
But she has to give him a kiss.
Jeus first looks at Crisje, then at that tall man.
And now she experiences what she could never have dreamed of.
Jeus looks at the tall man and then back at Crisje again.
Crisje has to have a big kiss.
The tall man sees it and nods to say another one!
Give Crisje one from him as well.
Jeus looks again and when Crisje sees that, she falls onto the chair with heart palpitations and cries from a happiness, which she will never be able to explain to another person.
Not even to Hendrik!
And that is bad!
But what do you want, Tall Hendrik?
To get kisses from the heavens?
Crisje, you got an angel-kiss!!
What did you think of that, Crisje?
When Jeus sees that his rabbits do not remain floating in the air, the man comes to his aid.
Jeus hears him saying:
“Listen, you must not think, Jeus, that the children do not understand you.
They understand you, but they cannot do anything else, Jeus.
Don’t you see that?”
Yes, Jeus saw that.
But he still has Fanny.
What will they say about that?
The children, Jeus sees, are looking at Fanny.
Crisje hears Jeus saying:
“Hold him for a minute.
He doesn’t bite anyway, when I am there, he doesn’t do anything.”
And Jeus now sees that the children are stroking Fanny’s back but, Jeus also notices, it doesn’t even feel it and doesn’t pay any attention to all these children.
But, Jeus knows that Fanny has good eyes in his head.
The animal now looks round and starts to bark.
When Jeus is holding Fanny it sees what his master can perceive and is now bothered by the children.
And so the afternoon passes, until Jeus can no longer see out of his eyes and falls asleep.
Crisje sees that the child is tired out.
As it has been a lot for him too, she thinks.
Even an adult cannot deal with it.
Jeus is sleeping; the other boys are romping about outside, but for Crisje a new door has opened of Our Lord’s Paradise, in which you can live and die and from which you can receive kisses from the angels, who want the best for you!
‘But where will it end’, Crisje wonders, ‘I don’t know ... but I am afraid of nothing!’
Jeus is dreaming.
He could hit himself on the head.
As small as he is, the boy can already think, Crisje feels, when he is sleeping.
However, Jeus is already wide-awake.
“Why didn’t I show the children to Gerrit?”
He thinks that would be a good idea if they ever come back again.
Crisje has already gone through some fairly remarkable things with him.
When the child could hardly say a word, Jeus suddenly asked her:
“Do you have a sore stomach, mother?”
Jeus looks at Crisje and the child looks at her belly.
She cannot believe it, because it seems impossible to her.
Even Johan and Bernard didn’t see it, but this child of forty-two centimetres high, looks through your coloured apron and says something which you have to think about as a mother, and which almost makes you blush.
One thing Crisje knows and she is sure about this: she and Jeus have one thought, one feeling, are really the same in everything.
It is through this that Crisje understands her child, this life; and that Tall Hendrik cannot feel it.
And is not a part of these lives
When she was carrying Gerrit, and she was felled by the pains, she didn’t know any more how to deal with everyday life, Jeus was closer to her than Tall Hendrik with all his talk and good care.
The child held her hand and anyone who wants to laugh about it can go ahead, but Crisje felt the pain in her stomach disappear.
And she said to herself: ‘He did that!’
And Jeus doesn’t know, but it is that Tall One, who brought Crisje back to material reality through Jeus.
Also when Tall Hendrik was worried, Crisje could tell him: ‘But don’t worry, Hendrik, in a few days time I will be myself again.’
Gerrit had drained away a chunk of her life, about which Mina said: “If you have another two of them, they can lay you in the coffin.”
But Crisje was already building herself up on Jeus.
He gave her life and feeling, and from this powerful and beautiful universe, in which the Tall One of Jeus lived, the powers reached her life and Crisje absorbed them into her.
Crisje also knew: Our Lord did not play with His powers.
You must first exhaust your own powers if you want to receive new powers from Our Lord.
Who had told her that she did not know.
For her it was a law.
And so it was the case with everything.
Our Lord was not crazy, He was love, but for everything: “Do good with the things I gave you.
Use your powers, work and serve.
If you don’t have enough then I will help you.
I have my envoys for that.
And those angels looked at Fanny, played with Jeus, kissed and walked with her in the kitchen.
“Yes, my Dear Lord, I am almost bursting with happiness and I swear to You, I will continue to do my best!”
In those days, as Tall Hendrik sits with Crisje and spoils her, and Jeus observes his parents, he hears the child speak:
“Father, you must buy a cross and chain for mother!”
That is too much for Crisje.
She sobs and now she can tell her Tall Hendrik about the nice cross and chain that she wore in the Parvis of Our Lord, and her longing to be able to own one!
Because she still does not have it!
And is that now really so difficult?
She doesn’t know either, but it is strange.
You cannot have everything.
When Tall Hendrik hears in the evening what has happened, and he has to take Bernard to task, he confronts him in front of the dark cellar to show him what is waiting for him if he isn’t careful, then when he hears that his child plays with heavenly balloons and Crisje was kissed by a guardian angel through Jeus, because Crisje cannot keep quiet about that anyway, then Tall Hendrik needs some bitters and strong ones at that!
He cannot deal with this immediately, then he will also begin to dream and then no one will do any more work!
But that is a lie, Tall Hendrik, Crisje even works too hard!
But you will hear about that!
Tall Hendrik is at Hent Klink in ten steps and orders a strong bitter.
Hent asks him:
“Have you stomach ache, Hendrik, that you want such a strong one?”
“Not exactly that, Hent, but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.”
Hent looks at Hendrik.
They know each other really well; they grew up together as it were.
“How can you have too much of a good thing, Hendrik?”
Tall Hendrik always lets Hent have it, because Hent is one who understands everything and more.
But Tall Hendrik knows that.
For it is innkeeper’s nonsense.
And those people want to know everything.
That is how they attract their customers.
However, it is an authority, which doesn’t mean a thing to Tall Hendrik.
What Hent gets up to with his customers and tries on with them, he doesn’t need to attempt with Tall Hendrik.
Hent knows, Tall Hendrik is not everyone.
Hent therefore gets to hear:
“You don’t understand anyway what is occupying me, Hent.”
Now just look at the way Hent is.
His fat head is angry.
‘Hent ... Hent ...’, thinks Tall Hendrik, ‘how strange, to me they say Hendrik and to him Hent, and that’s exactly the same.
It’s strange, why do people call him Hendrik?’
But that sounds better, Tall Hendrik thinks.
What is Hent really?
But that Hent cannot be fooled easily, Hendrik.
Especially now that you are annoying him, he knows what’s up.
Day in day out people come here and Hent has his own records of all these people and there is a lot in there.
Hent begins already:
“You must know, Hendrik, a lot of people come here.
You learn about everything really.”
“But about this, I know, Hent, you know nothing!”
“What is it then, Hendrik?”
“Yes, if only you really knew?
It can’t be said in a few words, Hent.”
Tall Hendrik wants to make a drama of it and puts up Hent’s blood pressure.
Hent will get him.
But Tall Hendrik continues:
“There are people, Hent, who understand nothing about it all their lives, even if they have dealt with thousands of people, they still don’t understand.”
“You are strange this evening, Hendrik, as long as you know that.”
That’s a cheek!
I have never been so close to home as I am now, Hent!”
“You will probably know best yourself, Hendrik, that is true, but you can also listen to other people sometimes!
But, what did I hear, is Gerrit going back to Italy?”
Tall Hendrik has to laugh.
Gerrit has got them again.
Tall Hendrik gets Hent immediately:
“I thought, Hent, that you were such a good judge of character.”
“I certainly am, but I always have trouble with Gerrit, don’t I?
Gerrit is too slippery for me.”
“You are right about that, Hent, but he is as fat as a pig, you must be able to hold him in your hands.”
Hent doesn’t know any more.
Tall Hendrik is too slippery for him now; Hent cannot get a grip on him and now changes the subject.
What a laugh Tall Hendrik will have.
Hendrik has another drink.
Hent is busy choosing his words and wants to make his move.
It eats away at his fat head that Tall Hendrik is now boss over him and now Hent becomes mean.
“Do you want another one, Hendrik?
Bitters always do me good as well.
Alie’s the same, but she can’t touch them, she is always bothered with her stomach, and that is going to be a problem until the end of her life!”
Tall Hendrik lets the innkeeper chatter away, Hendrik will go back to Crisje and Jeus, who have brought him to another world.
But Hent also comes back; he very carefully turns things around and attacks.
Carefully, like a snake, this man crawls towards Tall Hendrik and bites him, which he is not aware of.
He may know his people, and can be on the alert for everything, but Hent attacks and hits him; he will even poison Tall Hendrik.
“How is your Jeus, Hendrik?”
Now who wouldn’t fall for this?
Now it is time to go to Crisje.
Which is exactly what Tall Hendrik needs.
This is what he is pre-occupied with.
Whoever touches him now will get a drink as well.
“Is it all true, Hendrik, what Mina said about your Jeus?
When you have brought up the boys, Hendrik, you can rest on your laurels.
And Crisje as well, because Crisje works far too hard anyway.”
Tall Hendrik pricks up his ears.
The first word has already fallen, which has got to him.
Someone is making comments about his Cris.
What does he want from Crisje?
“You already have four, don’t you?
If they all go out and earn money, Hendrik ...
Cris is busy and works for four at the same time, that last one, Hendrik, wasn’t good, she shouldn’t have done it!”
Now you have it!
Tall Hendrik thinks and then he reacts.
He is furious, and has suddenly become a different person.
What did Hent just say there?
What does that Hent want, what is he getting at?
What does he want from his Cris?
What kind of curiosity is that and what does it mean?
Does he know something about his Cris?
Does a stranger know more than he does?
Tall Hendrik must know what is going on.
Hent has hit the mark.
This snake crawls over and bites him, right in his pounding heart, as blood rushes to his head.
Tall Hendrik must be careful now.
He must not let it show that he doesn’t know anything about it, because that makes him seem ridiculous.
Other men never know what their wives are up to.
Tall Hendrik does know and that is a well-known fact.
If he doesn’t know what Hent means, Hent will hit him right in his face and this false dog will laugh as well.
What shouldn’t Crisje have done?
Tall Hendrik must try to get there in a roundabout way.
“Yes, Hent, when they are big, I know what will happen”, Hendrik begins.
“Then I will play my violin the whole day and then I will buy one which will make you cry so that you don’t know what to do with yourself anymore.”
Hent holds on, he bites back:
“Yes, Hendrik, when they are big, then you’ll know what to do, won’t you?
Then Crisje can have a rest!
Cris works too much, but what can you do?
But she doesn’t need to, does she?
You take care of everything and more.
There are not many like you!”
‘But what a mean dog Hent is,’ thinks Tall Hendrik.
‘He can flatter!’
All those innkeepers can flatter, do well from another person, eat and drink from people and then drag them through the muck.
Now Hendrik is still in the dark.
And almost suffocates from it.
What has he to do with Crisje’s work?
Tall Hendrik looks at Hent and would loved to have hauled him over the bar counter and have given him a hiding such as he hasn’t had in years.
Hent leans over the counter and lays his trap!
“But it is also true, Hendrik: we didn’t make ourselves, did we!
But we must still deal with ourselves!
There are gluttons enough on the street!
Last week Bad van Gelder was here with his cart.
Bad asked one of those skunks to watch his horse for a minute.
And you know Bad, he doesn’t want anything for nothing, but that tramp wouldn’t have any of it.
Now you, Hendrik!”
Tall Hendrik almost burst.
Does he wish to compare Crisje with vagrants?
Does Hent want to involve Crisje with tramps?
What do those gluttons have to do with Crisje?
But what is Hent getting at?
And what mustn’t Crisje do?
Hent follows Tall Hendrik and senses something.
“You’ve got it bad, Hendrik.
You must have another one, then you will get rid of the cold from your ribs.”
Hendrik grins at him, but it isn’t a genuine grin.
Tall Hendrik says that he also thinks that he has a cold between his ribs and that Hent could be right.
He takes another drink and asks Hent:
“You just told me there that Bad has something to do with vagrants, but what I really want to ask, Hent, is this, are there so many vagrants walking around in this dump?”
Tall Hendrik thinks that Hent will now begin and he will now get to hear the truth, but that will still take a while, Tall Hendrik
“Didn’t you even know that, Hendrik?
But I understand you are always in Emmerik and you don’t know everything that happens here every day.
That is understandable, Hendrik.
But I, Hendrik, I am here every day behind the bar.
I have to do with that lot.
I see something every day.
Far too many come to Crisje as well, but of course that is up to you and has nothing to do with anyone else.
But it is too much, Hendrik, and I don’t understand, that you don’t put a stop to it!”
Isn’t that something?
Wouldn’t you do something to that man?
Wouldn’t you break his neck?
Hendrik also hangs over the bar and clenches his fists, how he would like to show Hent how strong he is.
What kind of piece of rubbish is that Hent anyway.
But he still doesn’t know anything.
‘What is he talking about, damn it’, thinks Hendrik.
‘What does that brute want from me and Cris?’
The door opens.
Jan the watchmaker appears in the doorway.
Jan is a great man, works hard and struggles with his family.
Jan’s wife is not strong.
But Jan is a good professional and deals in everything, has a nice shop; otherwise Jan could also have to go to the brush factory or to Emmerik to earn some extra money, because he has a house full of children to take care of.
“Good evening everyone.
“Evening, Jan, how are you?”
“Let’s say, Hendrik, getting by, getting by.
For me the clocks work for too long, Hendrik.
I make them too good, they should break sooner, shouldn’t they, then I could live in a castle and I could do something else as well, than sitting all day fiddling with those small screws and hands!
Hent, some bitters for me as well.”
Now Tall Hendrik has to be patient for a bit longer.
Jan knocks back his bitters in one gulp and wants another one.
Tall Hendrik thinks!
‘Even if it is getting late he wants to know what Hent knows about Crisje.’
Jan has done a repair job for Hent and the discussion is about this.
“Damn it Hent, what a long time I spent working on that piece of junk.
If I had known that, I would have advised you to get a new one.
The whole lot is worn inside!”
Tall Hendrik just thought of something.
Jan sells crosses.
Why he only thinks of this now for the first time, he doesn’t know.
He cannot think of such things.
He forgets continually.
It is crazy, but Tall Hendrik cannot help it either.
But does Crisje actually deserve her cross?
He hears such strange stories about Crisje, that he has to think about it first.
But now it won’t let go of him anymore, the man who sells crosses is standing next to him.
Hendrik thinks about it and then it comes:
“You sell crosses, Jan?”
Today I got some really nice ones.
Did you want one?
Just come with me, then you can pick one for Crisje.”
No, Tall Hendrik doesn’t want that.
He has something to discuss with Hent.
So, Jan fetches the crosses as Tall Hendrik waits.
Jan is already flying.
And now, according to Hent, there is something wrong with Jan, he has something to say about him as well.
In this way, Hendrik knows, everyone is ‘talked about’.
And then to think that that cursed innkeeper lives off them as well.
Tall Hendrik has a feeling of hate when he hears: “He never has enough!
He is bursting with greed and always has some excuse.
I shouldn’t have started about it.
But that is one to sell.
Is that not obvious, Hendrik?”
“But don’t you want to sell anything then, Hent?
Is that the way to talk about your people?”
Hent is now bursting with poison.
He feels that he has made a blunder and he hadn’t wanted that.
Hent thought that he was on the same wavelength as Tall Hendrik and could say something about another person.
This, he knows, is innkeeper’s friendship.
Putting one person on a pedestal and trampling another into the ground.
It is a dirty mean streak, thinks Tall Hendrik.
He doesn’t have to come to him with these stories.
As Hent continues his venomous talk:
“Haggle a bit off, Hendrik, he charges far too much anyway ”, the blood flows to Tall Hendrik’s head.
And when he continues with: “But you can handle that yourself and you are man enough for it.”Hendrik senses the dirty nature of Hent even stronger.
And as if that wasn’t enough, he feels that Hent doesn’t like the man, Hent continues:
“And he can drink as well and keep his wife short, which, Hendrik, I always try to stop him from doing, because I don’t want that.
My father was just like that; you know that as well.
And then eight children.
I can’t understand it.”
Hendrik now understands for the first time what a sneaky serpent that Hent is.
And to think he has known that monster for so long.
It is scandalous, rotten, and terrible.
‘He lives off his people, eats from them and then drags them through the muck as well.
That is evil so to speak!’
Hent returns to Tall Hendrik.
‘Finally’, he thinks, ‘now I will learn about it.’
“If I tell you, Hendrik, that there are so many vagrants roaming about here, you can believe me.
And they like to knock at Crisje’s door.
Even if I say so myself, they always get something from me as well, because I know my customers.
But there are also rats amongst them and you must keep an eye on them.
And most people don’t know that.”
Tall Hendrik now heads straight for his target and wants a battle on an open plain.
This is too dangerous for him and is also taking too long.
“Are you trying to tell me, Hent, that Crisje does too much for drunks?”
Hent looks at Tall Hendrik, who waits and asks:
“If I tell you things in your own interest, Hendrik, you shouldn’t get angry with me.
Cris does too much for those drunks and tramps, Hendrik.
Crisje does the work herself.
There aren’t many of her in a pound, but that she bakes cellars full of potatoes for those skunks and then gives them marks as well, that is too much, isn’t it, Hendrik.
That is too much for a person like Cris, then the children will go short.
Is that true or not, say it yourself!”
It’s been said!
Hent has fired a shot at Hendrik.
He is lying there wounded.
And is losing blood.
Just as long as it doesn’t become a hospital case.
Because the snakes are biting Tall Hendrik
And they are poisonous bites, from which he sweats blood.
The Grintweg comes crashing down.
The world prattles on and turns.
People are bad, rotten!
His legs are shaking; Tall Hendrik sees everything double.
He is already moaning.
It is a direct hit.
He hadn’t counted on this.
A dirty, mean snake is talking about his Crisje!
A rotten person, who stinks of misery, takes away Crisje’s glory.
Tall Hendrik, don’t upset yourself about that dirty animal.
Just leave that man and never come back!
Do not dirty your hands, don’t break his neck.
That animal isn’t worth it.
What Crisje does is good, you know that, Crisje doesn’t keep anything from you!
Tall Hendrik is saved by Jan.
He returns with the crosses.
Will Tall Hendrik take one for Crisje?
But who is on a higher plain, Cris or Hent?
This foul innkeeper or her sacredness?
Tall Hendrik’s fists immediately relax, for Jan is his saviour, even if Tall Hendrik didn’t realize it.
But Crisje will have her cross and chain now!
“Have you got the crosses, Jan?
I must have a nice one!
It doesn’t matter to me how much it costs, a really nice one for Cris.”
Tall Hendrik looks sideways at Hent.
He must hear it.
Jan unpacks, the Tall One looks at the crosses.
Jan praises his wares.
Aren’t they nice?
See the light, which shines from this one.
This one, Hendrik, is made from the wood on which they nailed Our Lord.
You don’t believe me, do you, Hendrik, but the traveller told me that himself.
And you know, Hendrik, I do not mock holy things.
Just the thing for Crisje, Hendrik.”
“I don’t want a wooden one, Jan.
I want a gold one.
Cris must have one of them, such as no one else wears.”
Hent now knows that his dirty talk has not got to Hendrik.
His snake poison works for him exactly in the other direction.
Tall Hendrik kills it by understanding, by self-control, by friendship, trust and love!
Otherwise he wasn’t worth a thing, he feels for himself and he accepts it, otherwise he wouldn’t ever be able to forgive himself.
Jan continues his talking, which also has an effect on Tall Hendrik.
But now Hent is not a part of it at all.
He can get the ‘droodles’ as far as Hendrik is concerned; no one pays attention to him now.
Hent Klink get lost, go to hell, go to the devil!
He can drop dead.
Hendrik knows enough now!
Jan asks: “This one then, Hendrik?
“This one has the light of Saint Veronica and you can see it shining from a distance of a hundred metres .
Let’s see, Hendrik, how much it is.”
Jan gets out the papers.
And they look at the prices.
Causing Jan to react in a startled manner.
“That’s surely too much, Hendrik?
This one costs seven guilders and thirty cents.
But it is also one which will give you pleasure.
Too much, is it?
Just say so, Hendrik.
I have them in all types of prices.
And if you can’t pay it at once, you know me anyway!
I will wait.
I don’t begrudge Crisje anything!
If I could manage it, Hendrik, I assure you, Crisje would have had one from us long ago!
But, it is true; the woman must get such things from her own husband.
These are sacred thoughts, and you mustn’t let anyone else meddle in it.
And that is understandable as well.
Honestly, Hendrik, I wouldn’t let Crisje wander round with a cheap thing like that.
Crisje is too good for that!
What do you think, Hendrik?”
Tall Hendrik looks at the crosses.
He doesn’t know.
“Do you know what, Jan, we’ll go together to Cris!
Let Cris choose one herself, that’s safer, isn’t it?”
Hendrik pays, and Hent is bid ‘good evening’.
Then he disappears with Jan.
And moments later they are at his front door, which he opens too loudly.
What is the matter with Hendrik?
“I’m back, Cris.
And now, Cris, I want to make you very happy.
Jan has brought nice crosses.
Choose one for yourself.
You may have the nicest one.”
“Good heavens, Hendrik, that is a surprise ...
Honestly, I hadn’t thought of this.”
Jan lays his treasures on the table.
Crisje is already looking, nothing can keep her away.
Now she will finally be able to wear a cross and chain from her own mighty Hendrik.
“Look, Crisje”, says Jan, “aren’t they nice?”
Crisje throws up her hands.
She can’t believe it!
She looks at Tall Hendrik with pride.
But he is very sullen.
It is not shyness.
There is something the matter with Tall Hendrik!
Is he so impressed?
Crisje doesn’t know.
But Hendrik isn’t himself.
There is something!
Crisje asks after Jan’s wife and children.
“How is Mieneke, Jan?”
“A bit better, Crisje, but it is otherwise a struggle.
She is always complaining about her stomach.
No Crisje, there is something wrong with that lower abdomen.
Mieneke’s intestines can’t take anything.”
“I will make up some herbs for Mieneke, Jan.”
“If you could do that, Crisje?
I will send Kaatje, Crisje.
I know, you can do that.”
Crisje chooses a cross and chain.
Is that not too much for her?
Hendrik says no.
She may take whichever one she wants and which she likes the best.
Then Crisje has made her choice.
It is one that you cannot see shining from a distance,
It is one that almost looks like the other cross and chain, which Crisje wore in the Parvis of Our Lord.
It is this one and no other!
Jan has gone.
Tall Hendrik is sitting at the table and doesn’t say a thing.
There is something the matter with him.
Is this now sullying a present?
Does dirt have to be thrown over it?
Isn’t that something?
Could she ever have thought this?
Is this a mercy or is this a slap in her face?
But what’s the matter?
“What are you thinking about, Hendrik, is there something the matter with you?”
He looks up.
“Yes, Cris, there is something the matter.
Just come over beside me!
Just come here and tell me what you have done all year.”
Crisje sits on his knee and now Tall Hendrik must know about it.
“Will you tell me, Cris, why do you always have to have drunks in our house when I’m not here to give them food?
I know that you have always given poor people something, but so much.
Do you want to give drunks marks so that they can drink, Cris?”
Crisje already notices there is something going on, and speaks her mind.
“You got that from Hent.
He always has something to gossip about.
He always has to rake people through the mud.
But he should look after his own properly first.
Hent is a false beast, Hendrik, don’t you know that?
He sets the customers against each other and that is dangerous!
We shouldn’t really go to him anymore!
No, don’t speak.
Let me finish, Hendrik.
You don’t know everything, but now you will hear everything!”
A hand is put in front of Tall Hendrik’s mouth and he has to keep quiet.
“I am everything for you, Hendrik, and you for me.
Nothing can come between us!
You have your own life, and I have mine.
And now if I want to give poor people something, Hendrik, for which I have worked myself and which nobody has helped me with, then that is my own business!
We must understand each other, Hendrik.
Then no one will go short.
Neither you nor the boys!
And if he thinks that I will collapse, it will have nothing to do with him.
What you and I and all people do out of love, Hendrik, you cannot collapse from that!
And that I gave a beggar a mark in my emotion, which I only discovered the next day or I would have pulled him by his coat, is an entirely different matter, Hendrik, and has nothing to do with Hent.
You believed that fat pig in the way he talked about you?
Well then, you let yourself be fooled!”
Now it is Tall Hendrik’s turn.
He also has something to say.
“That is all very well, Cris.
I will say nothing about it.
But why do you want to work until you drop for drunks?”
“So, is that what you think, Hendrik.
But they are not all drunks.
There are also poor people amongst them.
It is God’s lamentation.
That man drunk my mark at Hent’s, of course, and got to gossiping.
What a stupid man that is, Hendrik.
Because he won’t get any more from me.
As long as I live.
Even if I see that man perish!
I do not intend, Hendrik, to let myself be taken in.
I still have my own eyes in my head.
But that was just at the moment when I was sitting dreaming and was in the Parvis of Our Lord with Jeus.
I gave him something and later I saw that my mark was gone.
And he was stupid enough to gossip about it?
He is digging his own grave, Hendrik.
And I am telling you now, that will never happen again, never again!
But if you want to forbid me to cook food for the poor, I ask you, don’t take that away from me, because I will have no life any more.
Then I can no longer live!
And now you can say something to me.”
Hendrik can say little.
“Hendrik, if I want to fry potatoes which grow for nothing and I have my cellar full of them, that is really cheap and it has nothing to do with anyone!”
Tall Hendrik could hit himself on the head.
He could bite his lips until they bleed, because this is a lesson, such as he hasn’t had in a long time.
Through that skunk Hent, he feels cheated, bitten, contaminated.
Everything which is rotten!
And when Crisje sees how it is eating at her husband, he continues to listen and bursts from warmth and happiness, making his knees glow, because Crisje is sitting on them, giving him a heavenly feeling.
It is as if an angel is kissing him, but Tall Hendrik has already known this for such a long time.
Now and again Hendrik forgets it, but that is habit and he doesn’t see it any more.
“And now, Hendrik”, he hears, “because I know you, you would want to fetch him from behind the counter, wouldn’t you?
But I have something else to say, Hendrik.
If you do that, then you will be washing your dirty linen in public.
And he will get just what he wants!
Believe me, Hendrik, you must treat such people differently.
You mustn’t give people like that the chance to look through your curtains, you must treat people like that with contempt and that always hits the mark and you are the better person!
Are you angry with me now, Hendrik?
And can you forgive me all of this, Hendrik?”
Tall Hendrik wants to hold Crisje, but she has more to say:
“One thing, Hendrik, you have to learn from me.
Never listen again to gossip, don’t do it again, because whoever gossips about another is evil.
That is the devil, Hendrik, and not the person you are gossiping about and raking through the mud.
Did he not have something to say about Jan?
I know Hent better than you know him, Hendrik.
And that can be said in a few words, he stinks from all sides!
And you must watch out for that!”
Now Tall Hendrik may kiss Crisje.
And after his strong show of affection he quietens down.
You don’t have to crush Crisje to death, if there is no harmony and you feel it!
You do not need to fool yourself.
There is something between you and that love.
Something isn’t working inside!
Isn’t a person a strange thing?
But the material body is good; Tall Hendrik feels that as well.
And now that kiss doesn’t taste as wonderful as that of the other day, now it is only a lick from a dog, Fanny does it better!
This, Tall Hendrik feels, must die a natural death!
This must, he knows, be forgotten and forgiven, if he doesn’t wish to sully this wonderful happiness and take away its dignity with his own hands.
While Hendrik sits and thinks, Crisje makes another nice cup of coffee.
When Crisje looks at the cross and chain she could weep.
She then looks at her Hendrik.
Just sitting there.
Now look at the same Tall Hendrik.
She thinks: ‘You could catch him in your hat, he is just like a small child!’
Tall Hendrik reaches for his red handkerchief.
Crisje cannot have that and races over to him.
Then Hendrik hears:
What a good man you are.
My God, how grateful I am to you.”
And now Tall Hendrik is kissed back.
These kisses taste like they were given by angels.
And blessed by Our Lord!
Crisje now sees something which has never happened before.
You would want to have such troubles every evening, but that is dangerous!
You would want to hear such conversations every day, but then you are standing still!
And you don’t want that!
It can be a feast every day, but that is sometimes too much!
And that is nonsense, Crisje re-establishes.
It is not true; a person can have a lot, but, be careful!
Watch out for yourself; watch out for that dangerous beast with twenty heads.
Watch out for ‘habit’ because that is the devil himself.
It is the Satan!
Crisje knows, that the world has been destroyed through this.
Tall Hendrik also knows!
And now he continues to Crisje:
“No, Cris, I will never take that away from you, never, as long as you know that!”
And Crisje has to get this off her chest:
“I, Hendrik, got strength from Our Lord, as long as you never forget that.
And the rest, Hendrik?
You can now kiss that away!”
Crisje is dreaming.
She goes back to the Parvis with Jeus ...
An awe-inspiring happiness now lives in her heart.
She makes a new journey with Jeus.
Crisje experiences everything again which Our Lord has given her this day.
Again she feels the kiss of the angels, of Jeus.
She sends an ardent pure prayer into the universe.
No one can stop her thoughts, no one!
She includes the whole of this world in her prayer.
Also the poor, and that God may give her strength to do much more for them.
She sees the balloons of Jeus and the rabbits.
She now hears fine, gossamer voices singing.
She smells something; it is as if she is outside there again.
But what a smell!
It was a beautiful day, with many gifts!
And finally that weeping of her Hendrik as well!
They were flowers, they were ‘orchids’!
They are all for Our Lord.
They go straight to the altar ...!
How wonderful life is!
She is already sleeping, nothing disturbs her, nothing.
The angels are keeping guard!