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she must begin to get things ready that very hour. She must write her brother Maarten immediately. If she was going back to her own house, the windows had better be opened at once.
Thus Tante Lotje wept and protested and grumbled and worked, congratulated Marie, sympathised with her, scolded her, kissed her, jibed her, presented her with little unnecessary articles for the voyage bought out of her own slender store, all in a breath, in the most inconvenient places, and at the most irrelevant moments of the day and night, up to the moment that the bride set sail for the East.
Marie, following the Dutch custom, went out as a wife, married with the glove. According to the learned, the passage of a glove from hand to hand was sign and seal among the ancients of a transference of unmovable property; and from this they derive the ceremony of marriage with a substitute whereby the Dutch bride at home is legally vested in the possession of a property, to all intents and purposes unmovable a husband in the Indian Ocean. The glove, it is true, has disappeared from the ceremonial, but the name seems to warrant the conclusion of the pundits. Be that as it may, the institution has material advantages which mere antiquity could not give it, else it should not survive among so sagacious a people. The bride makes the voyage under protection of a husband's name. Shipboard, which experience tells is a severe test of
affection that is pledged, not bound, the bridegroom can now contemplate with a measure of serenity. And if, still, by an act of God, he should have to hold out his arms for her in vain, or she should find no arms awaiting her into which to fall, consolation is provided by the pensions and worldly goods in which the State and the marriage contract vest the survivor.
In Marie's case the ceremony was simple, and civil only. The Maarten van de Burgs, a sprinkling of de Bruins and van Heesterens, and, of course, Tante Lotje, composed the marriage party which drove to the town-house at noon. Marie wore few of the trappings of a bride: a spray or two of orange blossoms somewhere on a morning costume. Dr Maarten, in the dignity of evening dress, was a mild replica of his brother the General. When he advanced to take the bride's arm to lead her to her seat in front of the Registrar, people said smilingly that he made a handsome bridegroom. Tante Lotje was embracing Marie in a corner at the moment, and she whispered in her ear, "Eh! You should have had Remmers as a substitute, Marie," and kissed her again, with tears.
There was a little reception of relations when they drove back from the town-house, and the Maarten van de Burgs remained to dinner and unravelled with Tante Lotje the various pedigrees and private histories of the van Heesterens who had graced the ceremony.
The following day the house
in the Voorhout was closed. eyes-back to her own village Marie went on board under care of the captain at Amsterdam, the General's ders were for embarkation there, not at Marseilles. Tante Lotje and Uncle Maarten waved their "good-byes." The vessel steamed slowly down the canal, and the evening train bore Tante Lotje- the curls lamenting over tear - swollen
A fortnight had passed since Marie sailed. At Tante Lotje's house the curtains were up, the coppers polished, the stoves had been brought back from the blacksmith's and the silver from Uncle Maarten's. On the freshly-papered shelves of the linen-cupboard the linen was stacked with a sprig of lieve-vrouwe-bedstroo among it. The winter's butter had been bought in, and stood in jars in the store - room, beside glass bottles of morelletjes, shallots and gherkins in Cologne pots, rolpens laid in vinegar, and potted meats in various shapes. The poultry had been taken over from Gerrit, and successors found for some that had died of the pip. Tante Lotje had
turned round in her house and made herself comfortable. And as she had suggested to her sister-in-law, the doctor's wife, several improvements in the management of her establishment which that lady was foolish enough not to act upon, Tante Lotje was feeling especially virtuous. But suddenly her serenity was overcast.
Coffee drinking was
As the train swung through the olive shadows of the polder, she roused Maarten to say
"I've never breathed it to a soul; so mind, don't tell that I said it. But Marie is in love with Remmers!"
"You've told me that before," said Maarten grimly, and turned in his corner.
and Tante Lotje was in the kitchen directing old Saartje and the other maid in slicing the French beans through the mill into a blue linen - basket when the General's telegram arrived. It ran: "De Bruin killed stopping Marie Suez.” Under the stun of the blow she was conscious of her sympathy gushing out towards Marie. Presently, recovering, her thought was, "You'll see, Michiel will order me back to The Hague." In fact, she spoke the thought out aloud, and to the gasp of consternation that old Saartje gave said
"It's true. You'll see. needn't pickle the snijboontjes now," and stopped the mill.
Putting on her black straw, she ran to Dr Maarten's with the news. At the gate she turned back and re-entered the kitchen for a moment to tell Saartje that they might as well go on with the beans. They could tin them, and then they would do for The Hague house. The Doctor's wife had driven into the town. The Doctor himself was out with his gun and Gerrit and the dog. They had gone over the river, down
by the Laantjes it was believed. Tante Lotje was in despair, until her eye fell on the horn that hung in the surgery-a battered old metal thing, a contrivance of the Doctor for his speedy recall from his sport to his patients. Finding no one about the place whom she could intrust with her errand, she whipped off the horn and started herself. The fieldworkers had gone back to the harvesting, and the village slumbered heavily under the peat-smoke. Down the street, across the square, along the meadow-path ran Tante Lotje. The bridge, when she reached the river, was drawn to let a highstacked peat-boat crawl through, and Tante Lotje hummed impatient on the bank. Once across, she soon was at the Laantjes, and she ran through the hop-trailed alleys winding her horn, and bringing the whole polder into consternation at the thought of some one in it at death's door. Above the young hazels and beeches could be seen a ruddy sun tumbling among creamy clouds; but a light September mist shrouded the meadows, and presently through it loomed two figures, gigantic, leaping the wide ditches with their polsstoks.
"In truth, I wasn't thinking of you, Charlotte," says Maarten grimly, and setting out after his partridges. "I was thinking of Marie, dear girl, and of Michiel."
And thereupon Tante thought of them too, and went home heavy-hearted.
She carried to The Hague, on Marie's return thither two weeks later, a whole arsenal of refreshment for her stricken niece, denuding, in order to do so, the store-room of its morellas and raspberry, and the rest; and having plied the widow with these, she tried upon her an emollient that she had found most precious in soothing her own grief
"Now you can marry Remmers, hé!"
"You forget, you forget," Marie said, laying her hand with a restraining pressure on Tante Lotje's arm.
"My dear girl, it's sad, I know-it's sad. But it might have been worse. Suppose you had been in love with him."
"I pray you, I beg of you, Tante Lotje, do not add to the
"It's Miss van de Burg!" cried Gerrit, coming up first; but in her excitement Tante Lotje still held on her way with the horn at her lips.
"Mijn Hemel, Charlotte! what are you toot - tootering about?" cried Maarten, when the two met breathless.
She pushed the telegram into burden of my sorrow." his hand.
There was something in
Marie's voice at once so severe and so appealing that sent Tante Lotje to her room in wonderment.
"A touch of sun in the Red Sea," she said, tapping her head, and addressing herself confidentially in the mirror.
The next day, or the day following that, cards arrived, forwarded from Tante Lotje's own house, announcing the engagement of Remmers, who had been posted to Zutphen. That young gentleman, flung into a despondency by Marie's marriage, had been caught on the rebound.
"Nelly van Staate! Is not that the plain Amsterdam girl that was visiting these people in the Celebes Straat with her sister the plainer of the two?" Tante Lotje asked spitefully, tossing the card from her.
"I have heard that she has blossomed into a beauty," said Marie, apparently from an altitude at which love and beauty have no existence.
"Poof!" cried Tante Lotje, stung into asperity. "You had better write off and congratulate him."
"I am going to," Marie replied. "He was, of course, my husband's cousin.'
Tante Lotje walked off in disgust. She was uneasy about her niece, and she had reason to be more and more SO as the days went on.
Marie was not her Marie. One knew, and could understand it, Tante Lotje said to herself, that when a girl marries she presents an altered complexion to the world. She changes. One saw that every day. But it took time. It took time even to set up that
glass of the dual personality of man and wife through which each is seen in changed hues. Whereas Marie, here, had only got as far as Suez as a wife, to return forthwith a widow, without a touch of the hand, a look of the eye, a word, a scrap of writing passing between man and wife. She had not even seen him dead. Yet in that short time her nature had undergone some subtle process of transmutation.
Tante Lotje could not understand it. When people remarked, as most did, how deep had been Marie's affection for de Bruin, Tante Lotje snorted, in the sureness of her private conviction; but she could not deny Marie's grief, and her philosophy had no explanation for the contradiction.
At first she thought it a conventional mourning merely, and was disgusted, for then it was carried by Marie the length of rank hypocrisy. Decency demanded some recognition of widowhood, but here was Marie fulfilling decency's demands indecently. It was thus that a minx and a baggage gives herself airs, and she could not have believed it of Marie. Yet very likely it was true. The situation, always delicate and difficult, was anomalous, indeed ridiculous, in the case of Marie, whose want of affection for de Bruin when living could not be allowed to regulate her show of grief for him now that he was dead. That must be it, Tante Lotje said. The position evidently was too involved and embarrassing for Marie, who had failed in it.
But very soon Tante Lotje
grief de Bruin could do was to hold it till not a man of his force was left alive, trusting that by the delay the forts would be saved. So he determined. All day long the slaughter went on, man after man falling in the fierce assault. De Bruin, wounded again and again, stuck to his post, encouraging his devoted soldiers to sell their lives as dearly as possible, and when at length the enemy swept through the pass over dead bodies, it was to find their attack anticipated and to be driven back to the hills. Soon all Holland was roused by this story to the tip-top of enthusiasm and admiration. The name of de Bruin was on every lip. He had taken the General's place as the national hero, and with an instinct of gratitude to both, the people turned to Marie to pay their tributes when it became known that the General's daughter was also the Captain's wife, and actually had been on her way to him when she received the news of his death. In this reflected glory Marie shone serenely. She received deputations bearing the people's condolences with a dignity of manner that was almost grandiose. Into her greetings and reception of her acquaintance there slipped a note of condescension so soon as her husband's name was mentioned. Little crowds followed her and Tante Lotje in the streets, and now it was Tante Lotje who coaxed her, in vain, to escape public observation.
"Let the good people pay their tribute to my brave husband," Marie would say, with sad resignation.
recognised that Marie's