On my arrival at Amsterdam I obtained leave from my master, De Decker, to visit my parents, and was received by them at my home at Urk with a great show of affection, which, however, I found to be somewhat lessened when it was known I had come back with empty pockets. My father urged me to give up the sea, and to stick more closely to the business of a merchant at Amsterdam, for which my education had fitted me, and my mother extorted from me a half-willing promise that I would follow my father’s advice. I also met Anna Holstein, to whom I related my adventures; nor did I conceal from her that my worldly condition was not yet sufficiently improved to warrant my making formal proposals for her hand in marriage.
My mother pronounced my appearance much improved, when she heard of my attachment to Anna she declared me to be a fit mate for any lady in the land.
“Of a truth, Peter,” she said, “thou art become a proper man, like thy father was before thee, and in my day a young man of spirit chose his wife where he would. My own parents made objections to my being married to your father without some payment to them in goods or money, to compensate for the expense of my upbringing. But Abel Van Bu, thy father, came to our house one June morning and bade me make ready to marry him that very day, a clerk in holy orders being come to Urk to mate together those islanders who were willing to be wed according to the rites of the Church, and Abel’s manner was so masterful that neither I nor my parents dared say him nay. This is how I came to marry your father, my son, and were I a man such as thou, art, I would take the girl of my choosing, in the same manner as thy father did.”
But although I laughingly agreed with my mother, I knew that such a way of proceeding would not answer with Anna Holstein. Anna was rich. It would have shamed me to go to her, a penniless husband. Still, love is blind, and that Anna and I loved each other was not to be denied; so, one evening, by the Zuider Zee, we once more plighted our troth.
It was then that Anna confided to me a trouble of which she had kept the knowledge secret, fearing it might vex me, to the neglect of my work at Amsterdam. I had become so absorbed in my love for her, that I had given no thought to the question of others paying their court. Yet that such should be the case was but natural. Anna was young, beautiful, and wealthy, the only child of a proud noble, so that when Count Hendrick Luitken proposed for her, Anna’s father regarded his suit with approval, and recommended him to his daughter’s good graces. But Anna, whose heart was wholly mine, had evaded the Count’s attentions, although she dared not openly reject him, lest the clandestine love we bore each other might become known by reason of too close questioning, so she had been compelled to play the part of a wilful maid who did not know her own mind, and could not be made to see how advantageous the alliance proposed for her would be.