Oh, Bernard, how grateful I am to you

When Tall Hendrik and Crisje are discussing a few things in the morning before Hendrik leaves, Jeus always looks from his corner of the bedroom at those two there in the kitchen, it is a real feast for him, because there is always something extra to see and hear.
What nonsense his father can tell.
He has never directly seen his father serious, but when father is ready and about to leave, Jeus already knows that mother will be thrown in the air and will get three kisses.
That is always the case!
Every morning, father will never forget that.
And then Jeus hears Crisje squeaking, it is just like giggling ...
Of course, it does mother good and he will try it as well later, when he is bigger and stronger.
It appears worthwhile to him and he will do that as well when he is married with his own wife, because he thinks all of it is great.
When Jeus talked to Bernard about it, he said that he thought this was so wonderful and nice, he was under the impression that Bernard didn’t see or know anything about it, it surprised him when it appeared that Bernard knew and even understood it better.
Bernard continued to tell Jeus:
“I’ve looked at that all my life and have forgotten already ...” that struck a large hole in Jeus’ world of thoughts and he had to think about it for a moment.
He didn’t need to ask Johan a thing about it, because he always laughed.
But Bernard went into everything, for him Bernard was the big man who knew everything and who could give you a clear answer to whatever you asked.
Look at that father of theirs now, Jeus thinks.
Father is in a very good mood this morning, father probably won’t mind if he comes and joins them.
Gerrit, who is sleeping next to him, is cantankerous, because Jeus has pulled all his blankets off and the warmth with it with that hanging out of bed, the perky and fast reacting fellow sees no reason for this.
Gerrit also hits out immediately, regardless of as small as he is, Gerrit won’t have it.
Crisje already knows about Gerrit that he stands up for himself, Gerrit is immediately prepared and kicks and hits wherever he can strike his opponent.
Jeus takes no notice of a lot of what Gerrit does, because what does that mite want?
Jeus is a good friend of Bernard, naturally you have Johan, you always have him, he is a bit like mother.
You can do everything with Johan, if you put Johan day and night in darkness, in the cellar, for example, the child will sit down quietly and wait.
Crisje, who certainly doesn’t want to see the children angry, once asked Johan:
“Do you never get angry, Johan?”
“No, mother ...” passes his lips, “why should I get angry?”
That was the situation for Crisje.
That child is too good, she thought, and will have a difficult time in this life.
This child is peace, a still water; you never hear a harsh word from him.
He never blows his top; he and Bernard are like chalk and cheese.
Tall Hendrik knows that too, he knows that too well and that maddens him, Johan is nothing like Tall Hendrik, and if you want to sing, you must also have something else in you or they will crush you to pieces at the stage.
A while ago Crisje already made it clear to her Hendrik: “Just get that out of your head, Johan can only hold on to my skirt.
Even though this is one of the best we have!”
Hendrik couldn’t add anything to this, because Crisje always told the sacred truth.
There was neither anything to add or change about it.
It was as if the inner life side was asleep and would never waken.
Tall Hendrik also teased that child too much, in Crisje’s opinion, but even that didn’t help.
Johan remained calm and was always himself.
And didn’t react to anything.
He was their eldest?
There were also two others and one on the way again, Crisje knew, because of the feelings she got, which never failed before, that it would be a boy again, a type like Hendrik.
Yes, exactly the same!
“We will just leave it at that”, Tall Hendrik resigned himself.
“There has got to be one opera singer amongst them, Cris?
What do you think?”
Crisje didn’t care about those singers of Hendrik.
A good trade was better.
However, she knew that what her Hendrik had not been able to realize for himself, is what he saw in his boys, and he tried to make something out of them, you could trust him with that he thought.
“Singers?
They are on the breadline”, said Crisje, “today they have some­thing to scream about, tomorrow they can get lost!”
And wasn’t that the case, Tall Hendrik?
What Jeus had, what lived in Jeus, that was something!
But that was not for sale, and only a few children possessed it.
It was the greatest thing that a person could have.
It was strange, but Hendrik couldn’t see that, he wasn’t in the least interested either.
He did not notice because it hung between heaven and earth and that was too difficult for him and too far removed from his life.
It was not in his hands so that he could look at it.
For Crisje this was the very highest that a person could receive from Our Lord!
And to add to this, there was the sweet nature of the child; that lovely softness, the pleasant feeling, the pure thinking like an adult and the contact with you, which came straight into your life, which all escaped Tall Hendrik!
He was blind to this, completely blind!
Hendrik was fooling about with Crisje this morning, they were like two doves in the dovecote, which sat cooing day and night!
Tall Hendrik is laughing!
Crisje is tittering.
Jeus thinks, it can happen now.
He would like to sit with his father for a while.
A nice cup of coffee from mother, sitting in between them and absor­bing the nice things about adults, just like father, who is bothered by his big moustache.
“May I come through beside you, father?
Then I will sit very quietly.
It is so cosy beside you, isn’t it?”
“Did you hear that, Crisje?
Since when is he so big?”
“You will see some things yet from him, Hendrik.
If I were you, I would look inside him more, that listening to voices, that is something completely different!”
“Isn’t that something, Cris?”
“He already understands everything, Hendrik.
You can talk to him like a grown-up.”
Jeus is already sitting at the table beside father.
He is drinking a nice cup of coffee.
Crisje makes him a sandwich.
He feels old, in harmony with his parents, he thinks of the time that he will also have to go to work.
The child descends deep into that life and sits there, sees Tall Hendrik, as if heaven and earth are resting on him.
Hendrik follows the child, but there is not much time, he must leave soon.
Jeus only wants to know what it is like to sit with his parents at the table so early.
He wants to know what his father feels, when he is about to leave.
As head of this household, with all those boys as well, a wife who makes nice coffee and talks to you; it all feels so great, that nice chicken soup from his mother cannot even compete with it.
He feels and sees all kinds of things in it.
Tall Hendrik takes pleasure in his coffee, points his moustache upwards, and doesn’t want to make his goatee beard dirty.
Jeus sees this and he imitates that for a moment, by putting his hands on his lips and holding his chin, but he doesn’t manage this without burning himself.
The coffee flows over the table and Crisje already jumps up to catch the mess.
“Good God ...”, Jeus comes out with, “what a bloody idiot I am ...!”
Tall Hendrik almost splits his sides laughing.
He does not jump out of his chair, but has something nice for Crisje.
When he can laugh no more, Crisje hears:
“Now I believe, Cris, that he is a special one.
He can already swear like me.
I have to say he has learned praying!”
Tall Hendrik allows Jeus to stay.
Crisje looks at Jeus, as if she has to haul him out of the mud, as if he is up to his ears in mud in the pigsty behind the house, and she has to haul him out.
It is a blow for Crisje, and much more!
Where did Jeus learn all this so quickly?
Crisje sees red, it is a blow, and feels it is a hole that she almost drowns in.
But Jeus is already asking for another coffee.
He has not yet taken in everything from this morning.
Father is, thank God, not angry.
He doesn’t know what this means.
Because father laughed about it, therefore, it is not so bad either!
However, Jeus has spoiled it for Crisje.
To save, what can be saved, and in order not to give the child any illusions, she gives Jeus another half cup and then he can enjoy it again.
Gulp by gulp; drop by drop, the child drinks his coffee.
However Hendrik is ready to go.
And Jeus watches with his eyes over the rim of the cup as his mother is swung in the air.
Crisje is now hanging between heaven and earth.
She gets her kisses from father and that is so great, something so different, that Jeus can’t get enough of it.
Tall Hendrik has gone!
Now that they are alone, Jeus hears: “Why do you use such dirty words, Jeus?”
The child thinks, looks at his mother and asks:
“Are they dirty words, mother?”
“Yes, of course, Jeus, that is wrong.”
“Oh”, he says, “is that wrong.”
However, Jeus has learned a whole bunch of words like that.
You should hear Bernard, Crisje, he teaches his little brother all kinds of things.
It is quiet for a moment, but then it happens.
“How father can kiss, mother!”
Crisje could kick herself.
For what has she started, allowing the child to be with them in the kitchen so early in the morning.
Jeus thinks and Crisje also contemplates further until she is disturbed by Jeus.
“Mother, may I ask you something?”
“Of course, what do you want to know?”
“Why do people say ‘damn’?”
Crisje almost keels over from shock; in her mind she crosses herself ten times and doesn’t know what to say.
“Oh, that is an ugly word, Jeus, and you mustn’t say it anymore, because then the devils are happy and you will go straight to hell later.”
“What is a hell, mother?”
“Hell, yes, that is where all naughty children go, that is just like the cellar!”
Jeus thinks about it, Crisje does too.
It is something else, at half past six in the morning there is already someone who wants to know what a hell is.
Then that swearing as well, it is terrible.
Jeus understands, it is dark in hell, as dark as anything.
Now more follows about which Crisje doesn’t need to have any sacred thoughts or illusions.
She also knows that children learn precisely those words which they shouldn’t know at all.
Nevertheless this has been happening as long as the world has existed and you cannot change anything about it anyway.
Only she has never been able to do it, even if you have to use a harsh word occasionally, but that is not swearing, that is the way the dialect is.
“Why do people say, mother, you can ‘drop dead’?”
Good gracious, what now?
That is really bad.
Crisje is outraged, where did the child learn all this?
“But my Jeus, that is swearing!
That is the worst thing there is!”
In addition as if Jeus senses that it will now come to an abrupt end and he will not be able to ask any more, he comes out with:
“And why do people say ‘piss off’, mother?”
Crisje doesn’t know any more.
She will have to confess ten times to rectify this again.
“Stop that now, chatterbox.
I have other things to do.”
How strange, Jeus thinks, that adults can never take time to talk to you in peace.
You are laughed at or they haven’t any time.
Bernard has already told him: ‘Those are excuses, aren’t they, then they suspect that you already know all about it and then they are dumbfounded.’
And mother is now dumbfounded.
What an awful lot Bernard already knows about this life.
Bernard knows even more than Crisje, even more than father does as well, more than everyone.
Jeus also knows this now, he doesn’t need to come to Crisje, and mother won’t give him an answer.
Bernard had also said:
‘You must be careful, Jeus.
If you ask them something, which they don’t want to tell you, why I don’t know ... I must try and find out, they stand there not knowing what to say or they walk away!’
And Crisje walked away.
Mother has no time for him now, Crisje has a lot to do, but that is rubbish and a big lie!
Now Johan and Bernard appear, and the three of them are together, which is nice, and they can have a chat again.
Crisje hears that those other two know a lot more, and have mastered more than swearing, she must admit that she cannot change anything about it anymore.
However this world is rotten, more rotten than stinking manure, and whoever brought these words into the world is a bad person.
That is a customer for hell!
“So”, Bernard says to Jeus, “do you want to know everything?
Then I will take you through the town today.”
Isn’t that something?
“Do you mean that, Bernard?”
“Of course, when I say something, you can count on it as well!”
See, that is Bernard.
Jeus is ready, and they will leave soon.
First Bernard must do a few things for himself.
Bernard has left, as Johan gets his things together and goes to school.
By ten o’clock Bernard is ready for Jeus and they leave on the sly, because mother will not approve of course, they must stay in the neighbourhood.
Bernard begins to explain the surroundings to Jeus.
Now they are in the middle of the Grintweg.
Also worthwhile, Bernard thinks.
“This road, Jeus, runs from here all the way to Zeddam and even further.
If you walk this way, you will arrive in Arnhem and that is a big town.
At least a thousand people live there.
It is completely different there from here.”
“How do you know all that, Bernard?” Jeus asks.
“That is a good one, but I’m years older than you.”
“That is true.
And did they tell you that in the way you will tell me?”
“That is very simple, isn’t it, people learn from each other.”
“That is understandable.”
“Now, there is really nothing to see here.
That is Hosman’s house.
They have cows and horses there.
All kinds, he is a farmer.
They also have chickens and a dog that you can ride on, but a dangerous one.
And I don’t want anything to do with him.
Those people, Jeus, are as mean as anything.
They eat the tastiest cheese themselves.”
“How do you know all this, Bernard?”
“You will soon see, when you, like I and Johan have to fetch milk.
If they can cheat you with the milk, they will do it!
But they won’t get me.
They manage to get Johan, he is always cheated on.”
Hand in hand, they stroll along the Grintweg.
Bernard has something in mind and he will show it to Jeus.
It is a bit away from home, but definitely worthwhile.
Bernard expects respectful admiration for everything which he already knows, and he doesn’t want any more than that.
“Tell me, Jeus, have you heard of the ‘Hut of Sint van Tien before?”
“What is that, Bernard?”
“It is more than your search for Our Lord, even more than all your playing with the balls, but which I don’t believe for a second.”
Jeus looks up at his brother.
Therefore, a conflict, Bernard has got him.
Bernard follows Jeus and hasn’t forgotten it.
He hears and sees everything and knows very well that his mother is religious and Jeus has stolen her heart, even if he knows that mother doesn’t make any differences between her boys.
But Jeus has to swallow this.
“Where is Fanny?”
Jeus gets a fright.
“We didn’t take him with us, Bernard.”
“Never mind ...” Bernard throws at him, “he must stand on his own feet.
We are absolutely crazy about that dog, it doesn’t have to be in on everything!”
Jeus thinks it is a shame.
He thinks of Fanny.
He could also have experienced a nice trip.
He does nothing without his friend!
Fanny should be part of everything.
The animal is his life, his thoughts, and his love.
However, when Bernard tries to explain to Jeus what he knows about this hut, Fanny meets him wagging his tail and Jeus is happy.
Not Bernard, he already has something to say about it:
“If you aren’t listening anymore and looking at that dog, I’m going home.”
Jeus lets Fanny go, and he realizes that he has to listen.
The boys are now on the Zwartekolkseweg.
They are already in the middle of the woods, there are beautiful trees everywhere, and the natural beauty is wonderful.
Over there is a hut and Bernard wants to tell him all about it.
Jeus now feels like he felt in paradise.
These are trees.
Just like yonder where José lives.
How is it possible!
Jeus feels the thick bark.
Bernard follows him.
When Jeus remarks:
“What a thick skin they are wearing,” Bernard has to laugh in spite of himself.
“Skin?
Do you call that a skin?
People and animals have skins, trees don’t.
That is wood, and not skin!”
“But ...”, Jeus utters...“no but’s, will you listen to me or do you know better?
Otherwise I’m going home!”
Jeus now understands that Bernard is not to be sneezed at.
He has to follow his brother or he will make off and leave him behind and alone.
He concentrates on Bernard.
However, Jeus would like to sit down for a moment.
It is so nice and soft here, he has never seen any of it before.
However, Bernard doesn’t like the idea.
It means nothing to him.
Later, Bernard promises him, he can go and sit in the woods as much as he likes!
“Look, Jeus, that is the hut of Sint van Tien.”
Jeus sees a hut, which is surrounded by a fence.
That hut is protected.
But why?
Bernard is now whispering.
“In here, Jeus, lies a man, they say, who killed himself.
The man is said to have hung himself.
And people who hang themselves, you can ask mother that, may not be buried in the other graveyard or they will infect the other people.”
Jeus is dumbfounded by all that wisdom.
The things that Bernard knows.
But what does all this mean?
“What is hanging, Bernard?”
Bernard has to laugh about this.
“That’s something”, he roars with laughter overconfidently, “that’s something ... don’t you know what hanging is?”
Jeus has to admit that he doesn’t know or understand the least thing about it and Bernard can laugh as loudly as he likes.
He has to be honest, he doesn’t know.
Now Bernard feels important.
He knows, because he has hung at least ten mice, to find out what hanging meant.
“Hanging, Jeus.”
Now the momentous explanation follows.
“Is destroying something.
Like if a person does that, and puts a piece of rope around his own neck, then that is hanging himself.
Of course, he destroys himself, doesn’t he!
And then you can’t be buried in the other graveyard.”
“Do a lot of people do that, Bernard?”
“No, of course not.
Who wants to destroy himself?”
“I can clearly understand that.
I won’t do that either.
What about you, Bernard?”
“Of course not.
I like my life far too much.
I would be mad!”
“But why do they call it the hut of Sint van Tien, Bernard?”
“I don’t know, and no one knows, do they.”
“And why did they bury him here, Bernard?”
“I already told you.
Mother said they may not lie in sacred ground.”
Jeus looks at the hut.
“Why have they locked the door, Bernard?
Are they afraid that he will walk out?”
Bernard carries on; he doesn’t answer Jeus anymore.
There is too much to see.
“Look here, Jeus, that is the Jewish graveyard!”
“The Jewish graveyard, Bernard?
What is a Jewish graveyard?”
“You should have asked, what is a Jew, shouldn’t you!
But you cannot think yet.”
He got you, Jeus!
Bernard is the boss over you, you know nothing about this.
But he will ask José; he knows everything.
On the other hand maybe the Tall One!
“Come on, Jeus”, Bernard continues on his way, “we’re going to the Mill, that is nice as well, really!”
They walk through the woods dragging their feet and come to a mill.
Jeus has never seen such a thing.
The mill is turning, the arms are flying round, and it is a strange thing.
“Why, but why, does that thing have to turn, and why here in the middle of the woods, and at such a height?”
Bernard doesn’t know.
Jeus now knows that Bernard doesn’t know everything either.
He thought he would hear more from his brother.
Bernard has already gone down in his estimation; the enormous hulk is becoming smaller for Jeus.
He already knows, in a few weeks time Bernard can tell him another one, then he will teach Bernard something, and he can explain things.
He now has to accept that Bernard always says: ‘I don’t know, but it will come.’
It is a lack of common sense.
Bernard doesn’t think.
Bernard can only chatter!
When Bernard feels that Jeus is standing looking at him in disbelief, he continues:
“Here they grind bread, so they do.
Here they make flour and that is why the arms turn!”
“That is something different, Bernard.”
“What is something different, what are you talking about now?”
“Now I know why those things turn.”
“Oh, but of course you can understand that”, Jeus hears, and it is Bernard’s way of saying that he has to think.
Jeus already senses that he had mistaken himself.
Bernard knows much more than he thought.
“Come on, we are going to the Wetering, that is a big stretch of water.”
“Where is that, Bernard?”
“That is on the border, I will show you water such as you have never seen before in your life!”
Bernard pulls Jeus through the alley to the border.
When he sees the mighty monastery where the fathers live, he can’t get enough.
“What kind of big house is that, Bernard?”
“That is the monastery.
The fathers live here.
You know, those men who always shuffle along the Grintweg and go to the woods, with those black outfits.”
Jeus understands, because he has seen these men often.
“Oh, is that the monastery?
What do those men do, Bernard?”
“That’s a good one, they are all priests ... or they will become priests!”
“Just like our priest, mother’s priest?”
“That’s the same thing and these ones are no different!”
How wonderful that is and what a nice house, Jeus thinks.
“And do they have to have such a big house, Bernard?”
“I suppose so!” Bernard utters in a dry tone.
“I suppose so!”
Jeus lets it sink in.
But ... Bernard?
“They must be rich, Bernard?”
“They are extremely rich, can’t you see that from the house?”
“Of course, I can understand.
And did they make that themselves, Bernard?”
“I suppose so ... I don’t know, but that is understandable.”
A bit further and they are standing in front of the Zutphen-Emmerik station.
Jeus stares his eyes out and already asks:
“What is this, Bernard?”
“That’s the tram!”
“The tram?
Tram ...?”
And then he bubbles over with excitement and asks:
“Is that the tram which father takes?”
“That’s exactly the same one, father comes here when he has to go to Emmerik every day.”
“And is that true, Bernard?”
“Is it true?
But there are the wagons?”
“You are right, Bernard.”
However, Bernard sees more.
He points out to Jeus where the watchman is.
But that doesn’t interest Bernard himself and he shuffles on.
Now they are reaching the border, the Wetering.
They stand on the bridge and watch the flowing water.
As far as Jeus can see, he sees water.
My God, what a lot of water.
“You can drown in here, Bernard!”
“That is pretty obvious, just be careful.
Remember that I can’t swim.
“Swim, Bernard?
What is swimming?”
“There are people, boys can do it as well, and I want to learn later, who do not let themselves drown.
They stay floating on the water.
And that is swimming!”
Jeus understands that immediately.
“And here”, Bernard continues, “here you already have the border.
If you stand with your foot there, you will be in Germany.
And over there, it is a long way to walk, is Emmerik and father has gone to work there!”
Jeus looks, and everything is wonderful.
Jeus has a think and has something to ask.
What did the adults say again?
“Do you know what those people are called, Bernard?”
“What those people are called?
Which people?”
“These ones, who live here!”
Bernard looks at him.
Yes, he already knows what Jeus means, he has a think for a minute
He has got it.
A ray of happiness spreads across his little face, because he can tell Jeus what he feels and knows:
“I already know what you are thinking and what you want to know, Jeus.
They call those people ‘krauts’!”
“That’s it!
Gerrit Noesthede, and Jan Maandag and father as well, talk about it.
But what are krauts, Bernard?”
“Krauts, krauts ... yes, what are krauts?
I don’t know either, Jeus.
You should just ask mother, or father, they know!”
Knowing he has had enough!
Bernard strolls back.
Now they are standing in front of the police station, which they had passed earlier on.
“Do you see that, Jeus?”
“Yes, Bernard.”
“Now that is the house of the constabulary.
Here is the prison.
They put drunks here, people who cause arguments, knife stabbers.
You know the constabulary, they always go along the Grintweg with their horses.
Yes, Jeus understands that.
What a lot he is learning today, how can he deal with all that?
“Are the drunks here?”, Bernard hears him asking himself.
Then why haven’t they put Mrs De Man in prison, Bernard?
She drinks like a fish!”
Bernard has to smile.
Jeus is still too much of a whippersnapper to know that Mrs De Man does not stab with knives, because only the knife stabbers and the thieves are put in the ‘can’.
And when Bernard makes that clear to him, Jeus is very grateful, because it is clear and understandable.
They are now standing in front of a school and listening to the chatter from inside.
Bernard continues to explain to his brother:
“Here, Jeus, this is the school.
Johan is here already, and he has a lot to learn, later we will also have to go to school.
This is where the teachers are!”
Jeus would like to call to Johan.
However, Bernard says he mustn’t do that, because the masters will not tolerate it, and then, when they are sitting on those benches, they’ll be in trouble.
“Listen to them singing, Jeus.
The teachers tell them to ...”
“Are those masters good people, Bernard?”
“Jan says that the school mistress is a cat.
She is from the town and is a tough customer.
And they don’t want anything to do with her.”
“Do they give punishments, Bernard?”
“Johan told me, ‘too right they do’, they let you stand in a corner and if you carry on a lot you go to the shed.”
Jeus doesn’t want to stay here for long, he wants to go further along, this place stinks.
What a lot there is to see in the world.
Bernard now moves him along through the small town.
“Here”, says Bernard, “is Café Ernst, the footballers come here.
And here is Jaspese the bicycle repairer.
He has bicycles enough, just look for yourself.
And you can hire these bikes.
The big boys hire bikes.”
“We will do that as well, won’t we?”
“Of course, and then we will be able to cycle on the quay.”
“Is that dangerous, Bernard?”
“Nothing to it, that happens on its own.”
“And you can’t break your neck?”
“You have to watch out for that yourself.”
That is the truth, thinks Jeus, that makes sense.
Bernard is no slouch, because he knows everything, Jeus hadn’t thought about that and could never have dreamt it.
“And here, Jeus, lives Anneke Klaredaal, where mother always gets that tasty meat.”
Jeus looks right inside a beautiful shop.
There are masses of meat hanging up.
So, is that their own butcher?
Bernard replies: “They are all butchers who live here, Jeus.
And all these people walk about with a long knife in their pockets, with which they slaughter the pigs, the cattle and the sheep, just like Gradus Derksche does, and you know him!”
Jeus pulls Bernard away from this place.
He doesn’t like it, all that blood bothers him and goes for his throat.
When Bernard sees that, he says triumphantly:
“Are you afraid of these butchers, Jeus?”
“Aren’t you then, Bernard?”
“No, I’m not, because they don’t harm people, after all?”
“That is true, I hadn’t actually thought of that.
It is stupid of me.”
When they walk on a bit further they are standing in front of a big house.
“What kind of big house is that, Bernard?”
“That’s not a house, it’s the church?”
“The church, Bernard?
Does mother always come here to pray?”
“You guessed right.
Yes, mother always comes here to pray.”
“But do they have to build such a big house to pray in?”
“Yes, of course, at least a thousand people have to fit in.”
“Is a thousand so much, Bernard?”
“If you have a thousand marbles, you can play for the rest of your life, a thousand is that much.”
Jeus nods, he understands Bernard.
Then he looks up.
That tower impresses him.
“Are there people in there as well, Bernard?”
“I believe so, just ask mother about that.
She knows everything about the church.”
“Have you ever been there, Bernard?”
“Yes, with mother, there is a lot to see there and it is completely different than from outside.”
“And is Our Lord here, Bernard?”
“Yes, He is here.”
“And can you also see Him?”
“Just ask mother.
I can’t tell you that.”
Bernard thinks this is too much.
His stomach starts to rumble; that is just ample for today.
However, he also takes Jeus to the town hall, where he gets to hear something as well.
Behind the town hall Bernard continues to explain “there is the district reservoir and they go skating there.
And over there lives the Baron of Hugepoot.
Mother knows all of that and father as well.
The mayor lives over there, near Jaspese, but he comes here to help people.
And that is the town hall.
Do you know now?”
“I know, Bernard.”
Bernard drags him onwards, hand in hand they continue.
“The doctor lives here, Jeus, if you are sick, they must fetch him from here.”
“Oh”, he utters, “that is clear”, Jeus doesn’t want to know any more about it.
Only the church is still occupying him and he would like to know more about it, but that will surely come.
“And here, Jeus, lives Hanne Schuurman, the big boys go cycling here.
They do that in the big hall, Johan said, and there are those small, but strong bikes, which never break, because Johan saw that six people were standing on top of them at the same time.”
“Can you go in there, Bernard?”
“Of course not, that is a good one, they don’t need us for that.
And here, Bernard continues: "here is the club-house.
Here they have fairs, they shoot here too and that is for the adults.
They shoot the hen from the pole and get a prize and in the evening they dance and drink jenever!"
Jeus lets it sink in; his head is almost bursting.
He has now really had enough.
The child is exhausted, and Bernard is also almost on his last legs.
Yet he still continues.
“This is Jan Hieltjes, Jeus.
Here the men sit and drink and play billiards, I saw that at Hent Klink, really.
Father can do it as well.
That’s ... that’s a ... board ... no, that’s not it either, it’s a long table, with balls.
And those balls have to do it and they have a long stick for it.
I would like to try it as well.”
They head for home now.
Bernard walks past the brush factory and that information can also just be passed on and then Jeus knows all of ’s-Heerenberg;
The whole of this area, everything about his own town.
“Yes”, says Bernard, when Jeus wants to know whether many men work at the factory.
“But why doesn’t father go and work here?
Because this is close to mother?
If anything happens, they can just call father, then he is right near home?”
Bernard chuckles at Jeus: “Father would be mad to go and work in this stinking place?
In the pitch perhaps?
That’s not for father.
They are all people who can’t do anything else!”
Now it is clear to Jeus.
That he doesn’t want to work there either.
He wants nothing to do with it.
The stench meets you.
However, Jeus, who can take it away from you?
How can you be so sure that you will not end up in this terrible stinking place?
Don’t worry about it now!
Bernard is already back on the Grintweg again and explains a few more things.
Jeus sees where Manus Reuzel lives and studies the fence where they harness the horses to give them new horseshoes.
He hears that the Fox lives there; that is an insulting nickname for a man.
He sees another butcher and he is called Hendriks.
They are coming closer to home and suddenly Jeus says:
“Bernard, how grateful I am to you.”
And Bernard believes it.
Jeus says it with all his love.
Bernard can be content.
Jeus has learned an enormous amount today.
The child has become ten years older.
The boys are exhausted.
The first thing that Crisje hears is:
“Mother, why have they put such a big thing on the church?
Is that to crawl into heaven, mother?”
Crisje laughs.
It is difficult to give an answer to that.
She says: “No, but it is in honour of Our Lord.”
That is possible, Jeus thinks, the higher the closer to Our Lord.
So big is Our Lord, of course.
But he has something else:
“Why do you have to pray there, mother?”
“That’s a good one, Jeus, because Our Lord is there.”
“And he is nowhere else, mother?”
What can Crisje say now?
Jeus is making it difficult for her.
Then she says: “Our Lord is everywhere, but Our Lord is always in the church, you can pray there as in no other place.”
That is acceptable.
But when Jeus wants to know more, he hears Crisje say that he must wait a moment.
Later, he will have to experience that himself and he will suddenly know.
Then his head was bursting and Jeus went for a nice nap.
Crisje hears him asking questions in his sleep to Bernard.
The hut of Sint van Tien is also included.
What will he have to ask her later?
Jeus is dreaming during the day and that is also something different, because this has to do with his own life.
This is very ordinary.
All people dream sometimes during the day and see high towers and butchers with long knives, but then they jump out of bed nearly crazy from fear because life is so good!
However, if you can see the good side of it, there is nothing the matter and you have the nice life again of Jeus and yourself!
He doesn’t sleep for long and he jumps out of bed.
Where is mother?
Mother is at the back in the garden.
No, mother was there just a moment ago.
Mother is at Theet’s.
She is fetching her groceries.
Jeus cannot stand it and runs to the other side of the street.
Is mother here?
Yes, there is Crisje.
And she is finished shopping.
Fanny is there as well.
Jeus could hit himself on the head.
Because he had forgotten Fanny all this time.
“Fanny, come here, I have an awful lot to tell you.”
In the street Crisje already hears:
“Mother, why do people hang themselves?
Why do they do that?”
“Who made you think that?”
“Made me think that, mother?
I saw that with my own eyes.”
Crisje stops on the street, in the middle of the Grintweg she looks at Jeus and asks the child anxiously:
“Did you see a person hanging himself, Jeus?”
But doesn’t mother understand that then?
It was the hut of Sint van Tien, Crisje.
When Jeus says to her:
“I was at the hut of Sint van Tien with Bernard, mother”, Crisje changes her step and shuffles into the house.
Isn’t that a shock?
Good gracious, what a shock she got there.
Those boys too.
Now what?
“Don’t you know enough for today yet?”
“I want to know that, mother.”
“So, is there nothing else?”
“Yes, mother, why are there Jews in the world?”
“What?”
“Jews, mother.”
Crisje thinks, Jews?
Does the child already have to know now what Jews are?
That is something for Hendrik.
However, she can’t let it go so far.
Hendrik will laugh himself silly and the child will get a wrong answer.
Crisje thinks and then she knows.
“Yes, Jeus, that goes without saying, they are people of a different faith and these people have their own graveyard, you surely saw it, didn’t you?”
“Yes, mother.”
“And if you hang yourself, mother, will you be buried there, or not?”
“Yes, Jeus, because then you cannot lie in consecrated ground.
You may not take your own life, you surely understand that, don’t you?”
“Yes, mother.”
Now see that you get away, Crisje thinks, this is going too far.
That is not something for a child.
When she makes it clear to Jeus that she is busy, he is able to say again:
“That’s a lie, mother.
That’s nonsense, you don’t know what to say.”
Crisje looks at the child and asks:
“Does that also come from Bernard, Jeus?”
“Yes, mother!
Bernard said if I want to ask you something and it has nothing to do with me, then you no longer have time.”
Now she has to laugh.
Crisje lifts him up and kisses him.
“Just come over here, Jeus.
Look.
Is that nice, Jeus?”
Jeus nibbles at his biscuit, and Crisje has got him.
“Now go and play outside for a while, Jeus, then I can work.
Father will be coming soon.”
One thing Jeus now knows, Bernard is right.
If you ask something and they do not wish to give you an answer, they have no time for you.
And this biscuit is, as dry as anything and of the cheapest kind.
He doesn’t like it.
And so the day drags on for Jeus.
Tall Hendrik is at home and Jeus is lying in bed.
He doesn’t lie awake for long, but he immediately falls into a dreamless sleep.
His body and his legs are exhausted.
But tomorrow, soon, then he will continue into life, into everything he has received.
Bernard got half of the biscuit, but not satisfied he went and got another one for himself as well.
That is nearly two.
For Bernard the safest way, in this way you will never lack anything and life is great.
It is good.
Very good, then you see towers!
And the older a person becomes, the more sense he gets, that’s what they say, and Jeus will find out whether it is true!
Now they will not cheat him either!
Then he will talk to those Jews.
José knows all about it!
High above his head a mosquito is flying, if the creature goes higher, it will become a fly and even higher that creature will be everything, because now it sees Our Lord and it can be what it likes.
He wants to know that as well!
And a night is nothing.
Nothing.
You are wakened in no time and you continue!
And he will also get to know the Zwartekolkseweg!
Those trees as well.
Along with that soft grass.
Everything!