National Geographic : 1915 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE zest and energy, there is certainly noth ing much funnier than to stand upon the bridge over the old moat and watch them mount their bicycles and ride away home. In the courtyard of the old inn there are many chaises and wagons, but they would not contain half nor quarter the marketers of a Tuesday morning. In they come by twos and threes and fours upon their wheels; a hundred bicycles at least were stacked in rows beside one little cafe. Carts and wagons bring in the market supplies. Under the tall old trees about the church you will find them reloading at noonday, and a miscellaneous load it is that they take. The butter, eggs, and poultry which they brought are all sold to the townsfolk. Back to the various farms along their road they are taking the farmers' purchases-crockery, hard ware, farm tools, a lamp, a crate of tiny pigs, a pair of fancy chickens, a new table, a bolt of muslin, shoes, an alarm clock (a waker-up clock, our Dutch friends would say), groceries-anything which towns supply and farms lack. The freight wagon commissioned to deliver his packages, the farmer may mount his high chaise or his bicycle and ride off, care and burden free. The roads are good, tree - shaded, dust - free, and level; the only enemy of the wheelman in Zeeland is the wind, which bloweth where and when it listeth, which is pretty much all the time and directly in his face. How those Protestant ladies, with the wide-spreading wind-scoops of caps, can ride so merrily and so swiftly is beyond me to tell. Very rarely one "ducks" her head or trims her sails to the wind. Over the bridge they come in a long proces sion, heads up, eyes bright, gold plates gleaming, coral beads glowing, gay kerchiefs unruffled, full skirts falling smoothly, black - shod feet pedaling steadily, trim, orderly, and merry, as if rehearsing for some performance, not riding home from a busy morning to a busier afternoon. The men ride a little more solemnly than the girls, or is it their black cloth ing which gives them that grave aspect? There is no "scorching," no ducking low over down-turned handle-bars; no high gears; the bicycle in the Netherlands is not a plaything or a race-horse; it is a useful servant. There are numerous motor-cycles, but the automobile has not yet come to dwell in Zeeland. A PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE 'The Zeeland farmer takes kindly to progress, however, in spite of his con servatism in the matter of costume. American farm machinery stands in many a farmyard; the quick adoption of bicycle and alarm-clock, the constant use of tram-car and telephone give proof of this. Jacqueline may have seen lace caps and coral beads, who knows? But certainly she never saw a bicycle. Look once more at her as she stands above Middelburg market. She would not seem out of place in that costume in Goes today, amid all these oddly-clad maids and matrons; one might even fancy her mounting that tall black chaise, although she would prob ably prefer a well-cushioned saddle or pillion. High enthroned in a great mo tor-car, our lady fair might even look comfortable and imposing, but mounted upon a bicycle-strangle the thought ere it chokes us with laughter. Let us return, then, to Middelburg filled with gay memories of sunshine and laughter. Some gray day when there is no market to distract, when Goes is quiet and sleepy and heavy with dreams of her past, we shall return to sit beside Jacque line's mulberry-tree, read once more the old poet's halting but pathetic lines which in such small compass embrace her whole short life: "Four times in marriage sweet love me did give, Yet not through me shall my race grow or live. Gorinchem from Arkel I took at fearful cost, And in one day three thousand English lost. From prison cell my husband dear to save, I all my lands to Burgundy's Duke gave. Ten years I ruled distressed; now, in one tomb With my ancestors, content I have found room."