ON THE CANAL
EXT morning, the pretty blue and white dishes washed, the
kettles scoured, and
fresh white sand sprinkled on the kitchen floor, Patience
took baby Love and went out on the doorstep to watch the
boats on the canal.
There were many of these boats passing to and fro. Some
carried fuel or grain. Some carried fish, and others were
loaded with boxes of goods from the mills. Some were
passenger boats and carried people from one town to another.
Soon Jonathan came out with a large stone jar, which he set
upon the wall of the canal. On the next doorstep sat Mary
and Remember Allerton, and they, too, had a large jar. There
was one at Mistress Chilton's door, and all up and down the
street might be seen these brown jars.
What were they for? Water, to be sure! These children were
waiting for the water barge to come along and fill their
jars. This seems strange in a land where there is more water
than anything else. But the water in the canals is not fit
to drink, so the people must buy fresh water every day.
This is brought from the river far beyond the city.
While the children waited for the water barge, they saw a
large boat coming down the canal. There was no wind, so the
sail was down. At
 first they could not see what made it glide along so
easily. As it came nearer they saw that there was a long
rope tied to the bow, and the boat was being drawn by a
large dog and a boy, who walked along the bank of the canal.
When the boat was in front of Elder Brewster's house, it
stopped. The father came ashore and tied his boat to a
strong post, and then went back to his breakfast.
This was not served in the neat little cabin with the white
curtains at the windows. The breakfast table was spread on
the deck of the boat. There was no cloth, but the table was
scoured as white as Katrina's strong little arms could make
While Katrina and her mother were washing the dishes, the
water barge was seen coming slowly down the canal, stopping
at each house. The mother saw the little barge, and, calling
her son, said something to him which the little Pilgrims
could not understand.
But Jan understood. He took up a large, shining can and
came over where Jonathan and Patience were.
"Good morning," said Jonathan, "Are you waiting for the
water barge, too?" But Jan only smiled and said nothing. He
had not understood one word.
When Mevrow Vedder came up in her flat little boat, with its
rows of shining brass water cans,
 Jan talked fast enough. He seemed to know Mevrow Vedder,
and Karl and Hans, who had come with their mother to help
steer the boat.
"Mevrow Vedder . . . in her flat little boat, with . . .shining
brass water cans"
How fast they all talked, and how strange the language
sounded to the English children! The Dutch language was so
different from their own. The little pilgrims thought they
could never learn to speak or understand this strange
But they did, and Jan and Katrina were their first teachers.
After a few days, when Jan called
 in Dutch, "Can you come up on the boat to play?" the English
children would answer, "Yes," or "No," in his language.
They soon learned the Dutch names for the games they played,
for the different parts of the boat, and for many things in
their own homes. Little by little they grew to understand
what their neighbors said to them. The children learned the
language much easier than their parents did.
Jan and Katrina lived on the canal boat winter and summer.
They had no other home, and they did not wish for one. They
thought a canal boat much better than a house, which must
always stay in one place.
Many families lived in their boats all of the year. In
winter they had to live in the little cabin, but in summer
the kitchen, dining room, and sitting room were all on
All Hollanders are fond of flowers and you are sure to see
them somewhere about each home. Of course Katrina had her
little flower garden. It was in one corner of the deck, and
her mother had a long box of plants in the cabin window.
All fall and winter this canal boat stayed in the same place.
While their father worked in the mill, Jan and Katrina went
to school. Katrina often knitted as she walked to and from
school. Little Dutch girls often knit on the street. They
can knit and walk as easily as we can talk and walk.