Once again such a free week came, and after cleaning her cottage, she went to Uskvert, to a brother who lives there with his family. She left there without locking the door of her cottage at all, for that door is safe; nothing has ever been stolen from the cottage, and she has no idea that a thief will come in to remove the furniture in her absence.
Two days later, in the morning, she leaves her brother again to return to her cottage. Automatically as always she follows the macadam road from Uskvert to Warfum. In Warfum she buys wool from a shopkeeper, where she usually also buys other necessities for knitting and sewing, and half an hour later she stands on the stone alley in front of the door of her cottage. She opens it, lifts the bolt, enters, walks down the hallway to the room door, and suddenly stops. That door is closed, and she didn’t close it when she left the room two days ago.
She thinks about it in her own way, not in words, but in imagination. Thoughtfully she sees someone coming in and out of the cottage, but who went in and out? … Why did they go in and out? … She grabs the ring hanging on the door and hesitates whether she will go in or not. Thoughtfully she sees a person in the room and she releases the ring with which she is about to lift the bolt, thinks for a moment and goes out the hallway outside to look out the window to see if there really is anyone in the room. She leans over to look across the glass that covers the bottom of the window. No one is in, but there is a brown box on the table. Broadly Rika opens her eyes and a strange sound comes out of her mouth. She’s not afraid, because a box can’t do any harm, but it’s an enigma to her how the box came there … and what’s inside? … She looks around to see, maybe a person is standing somewhere who brought in the box, but the sandy path is as deserted as the countryside. Thoughtfully she sees the farmer’s wife, who has brought in the box to surprise her maid, and showing for a moment her white teeth, the mutineer leaves the window and enters the cottage. She turns the ring of the room door, the bolt rises and with two long steps that click on the tile floor, she stands in front of the strange surprise. The cover is neither nailed nor cord-closed, but stands so that she can see part of the contents, namely white linen. Rika starts to think about her bed and imagines seeing new blankets, and carefully she pulls off the box cover. Suddenly she pushes it so hard that it falls to the floor. She does not hear the noise she has made, but looks into the box with her eyes wide open. She does not believe her eyes and stands for a moment looking at the “surprise”, not knowing what to think or do. She pales and the unexpected surprise touches her so much that she has to lean against the table, as her legs tremble and that same strange sound that only a mute person can hear comes out of her throat again, but soon she controls herself. The falling blanket woke the little boy, who was now looking at the girl with big brown eyes. A smile plays on the child’s mouth, which lies there like an angel.
Strange thoughts and imaginations pile up in Rika’s head.
“How did that child get there? Why was it put there on the table? Is it a gift? Will they come to pick it up?”
The child laughs and looks at the girl without fear. She takes off the linen, puts it on the side of the casket and here the baby is like little Moses in the casket on the water of the Nile. In front of Moses stand beautiful maidens, beautiful princesses with fans in their hands, and they are about to take Moses out of the ark, swimming on the water between the tall reeds. In front of this brown box on the table stands the mutineer, who is willingly or unwillingly looking at the picture on the wall, and she, too, is about to take out her Moses.
“How long has he been lying in it?” She thinks about it, but suddenly another thought strikes her.
“Is the child thirsty or hungry? Maybe not because he is not crying, but laughing.”
“Is it clean and dry?”
Rika knows from experience that many children sometimes do not cry when they are wet, although it is necessary for them to be clean and to lie in dry diapers.
She takes the baby on her arm and laughs at it;the baby opens his mouth and moves his lips. Rika knows it makes sounds, but she doesn’t hear them. She is glad, however, that the little one is laughing, and she presses it to her heart, while tears roll down her cheeks with emotion … She thinks in memory of her siblings when they were as small as this baby … She puts the little one back in the box, prepares warm water and removes the diaper. She has done the same thing more than a thousand times when the siblings were suckling children, and she is adept at that job. The child (she now sees) is a handsome little boy. She cleans him up and starts thinking about diapers, a milk bottle and other necessities and what she will have to do with the little boy who is so cute and sweet. Image she sees poor parents with many children, so many that they can’t feed everyone well enough. Image she sees further,
“Does she have to look after him?”
When she looked at the little boy again, he laughed again and Rika leaned over him, kissed him and thought:
‘I will look after him, take care of him and love him.
But here’s another thought:
“Will the little one be taken away from her?”
She is uneasy; the little boy was given to her voluntarily, she wants to keep him a secret so that no one can take him away. She gets up to look for a place where she can best place the casket so that no one from outside could see it. On the side of the fireplace hood is enough space to set up a chair, and on that chair she could place the box she would use as his cot. Setting up the chair with the box there, she goes out and looks out the windows to see if anyone in there can see.notice her little one. She immediately returns home, turns her back on the chair to the fireplace, hangs a towel on the backrest, and goes out again to look inquisitively. She is content because she sees only the towel. Entering the second time, she is caught by the thought that the little boy can be stolen during her absence and immediately she decides to get a lock to always lock the door when she has to leave the child alone. But she wants to own that lock as soon as possible. She puts the box on the bed, closes the door and goes out to buy the lock immediately, because after a few days she will have to be out of the house regularly to work at Klomp’s … She goes out.
Automatically, but faster than before, the clogs scatter the sand clouds and, curiously, the few people she meets on the way look back at the mutineer and marvel at the speed with which she goes towards the village against her habit.
When she gets there, she goes to a blacksmith and points to a lock with a key and two iron brackets. She buys them immediately by paying. Leaving the blacksmith, who marvels at the immediate payment, as Klomp pays only once a year what he needed during that time, the mutineer enters a shop to buy a bottle for a suckling baby and other necessities for the little one. The shopkeeper at first does not understand what she wants, but on looking, she shows with her finger what she wants to buy, and the man is astonished, for the farmer’s wife has no children; but Rika ignores his astonishment and after a nod she leaves the shop.
When she returns to her house, she inserts one clamp into the door frame and the other into the door with her clog so that the curves almost touch each other to get through the lock. Investigating later that the brackets are sitting tightly, she goes in and takes the box from the bed and places it on the chair at the fireplace. The little boy is sleeping soundly. Rika goes out, locks the door, and automatically, but quickly the two clogs scatter the sand clouds on the trail, until she disappears into the farm to get some milk. That milk she takes in the dairy and in her pocket the full bottle that no one can see, because the lowest beehive is so wide that she could effortlessly and unnoticed hide ten bottles under it.
When she returns home, she takes a match from a matchbox and puts it on the hood, because she wants to pay for the milk afterwards, and not being able to read or write to write down the bottles. .
She is now boiling some milk to give to the little boy when he wakes up.
Quietly she sits at the casket, uninterruptedly looking at the little angel whom fate has so suddenly and mysteriously placed in her way.
Her cheeks are redder than usual, her eyes shine brighter than ever before. Widely she admires the beautiful being whose mother she wants to be and for whom she wants to work until he becomes a beautiful adult young man. Oh, how many thoughts and imaginations attack the mutineer! Among them there is only one that worries her: The father might come back to reclaim the little boy, but if he comes back, she wants to ask him to give him up to her, because she can work for him and take care of him, and that’s what she wants.
Minutes pass …, hours pass and it’s already dusk, but the mutineer sits quietly with clasped hands and waits patiently to suck her adoptee for the first time.