bus’tle, quick and excited motion.
mire, soft and wet earth.
scorn’ing, turning from any thing as if of no value.
sat’u rat ed, wet through and through.
moored, tied fast, as a ship to land.
slouched, hung down.
mim’ic, copied in a smaller form.
* * * * *
Holland is one of the queerest countries under the sun. It should be called Odd-land, or Contrary-land; for, in nearly every thing, it is different from other parts of the world.
In the first place, a large portion of the country is lower than the level of the sea. Great dikes have been built at a heavy cost of money and labor, to keep the ocean where it belongs.
On certain parts of the coast it sometimes leans with all its weight against the land, and it is as much as the poor country can do to stand the pressure.
Sometimes the dikes give way, or spring a leak, and the most disastrous results follow. They are high and wide, and the tops of some of them are covered with buildings and trees. They have even fine public roads upon them, from which horses may look down upon wayside cottages.
Often the keels of floating ships are higher than the roofs of the dwellings. The stork, on the house-peak, may feel that her nest is lifted far out of danger, but the croaking frog in the neighboring bulrushes is nearer the stars than she.
Water-bugs dart backward and forward above the heads of the chimney swallows; and willow-trees seem drooping with shame, because they can not reach so high as the reeds near by.
Ditches, canals, ponds, rivers, and lakes are every-where to be seen. High, but not dry, they shine in the sunlight, catching nearly all the bustle and the business, quite scorning the tame fields, stretching damply beside them. One is tempted to ask: “Which is Holland—the shores or the water?”
The very verdure that should be confined to the land has made a mistake and settled upon the fish ponds. In fact the entire country is a kind of saturated sponge, or, as the English poet Butler called it—
“A land that rides at
anchor, and is moored,
In which they do not live, but go aboard.”
Persons are born, live, and die, and even have their gardens on canal-boats. Farmhouses, with roofs like great slouched hats pulled over their eyes, stand on wooden legs, with a tucked up sort of air, as if to say, “We intend to keep dry if we can.”
Even the horses wear a wide stool on each hoof to lift them out of the mire.
It is a glorious country in summer for bare-footed girls and boys. Such wadings! Such mimic ship sailing! Such rowing, fishing, and swimming! Only think of a chain of puddles where one can launch chip boats all day long, and never make a return trip!