So it was with subdued and chastened spirits that Hartog and I arrived at Amsterdam, where it was arranged that Hartog should dispose of our rich cargo and apportion the profits of the venture. As a peace offering to Pauline I took with me twenty splendid pearls and six silver fox-skins, and, thus provided, I presented myself at my house at Amsterdam, to which I was at first denied admittance by the man-servant, who opened the door to me, and who had no knowledge of my identity.
While we were arguing the matter; however, Pauline appeared in the hall, into which I advanced to meet her. She was changed, I thought, and her face had wonderfully softened. I held out my arms to her, and she came to me, nestling into my embrace as though she indeed belonged to me. Then she rested her head upon my shoulder, and gave way to tears. I was touched by this kindly greeting, and had begun to mentally upbraid myself for my former conduct, and to promise amendment in the future, when the cause of my wife’s changed disposition was suddenly, in a flash, revealed to me by a series of yells from a room upstairs, accompanied by a low voice of pleading in remonstrance, and what sounded like the, throwing about of some hard substance on the floor.
I looked into my wife’s eyes, and read in them the secret of the great happiness which had come to me.
“He is quarrelling with his nurse,” she said, smiling up at me through her tears. “He is such a masterful baby.”
Next moment I was bounding up the stairs, and on entering the nursery I saw my boy seated on the floor, his face red with passion, while with his chubby little hands he was tearing the sails off a toy ship that had been given him to play with. The clever lad, even in his infancy, must have noticed that the wretched apology for a ship which they offered him was not rigged in seaman-like fashion. Well, I promised myself that I would make him a model of the “Golden Seahorse”, perfect in every detail, and big enough for him to sail in. When I came into the nursery he stopped crying and looked at me, but the nurse kept on saying, “Oh, Master Peter, Master Peter, you must not be naughty like that,” as though she were repeating a formula.
I ran to Master Peter and picked him up, when he tried to bite my hard hand with his little pearly teeth. Ah, what a lad of spirit he was! He was not a bit afraid of me or of anyone. A boy after my own heart. Then he looked at me, and the passion in his rosy face melted into a dimpled smile. He knew me, I am certain of it, and putting his little arms round my neck, he seemed to ask pardon for his wilfulness. We were comrades from that moment, he and I, and although not a word was spoken we understood each other thoroughly.
Pauline and the nurse watched us. Both women were weeping, as is the way with women when they seek to relieve their feelings. But the tears they shed were tears of joy.