The man pulling down a rope

Some days pass quietly. Klomp, like all Brejanians and Warfumans, had heard of the finding of the deaf-mute Rika. Some did not believe that she had found the child and was already investigating among themselves who might be the boy’s father. Some, however, who know the mute, and who have seen her daily, believe in the words of the priest, by whose good care the child was inscribed as a found man, under the name of Moses. He chose that name because the little boy, like Moses from the Bible, was found in a box, and because the mute woman, when she explained in her own way how she had found her Moses, occasionally pointed to Moses in the framed picture. .

It is now Sunday and eight o’clock in the morning. The Klomps sit together at the table and have breakfast. He is reading a newspaper in the meantime and she pours coffee and prepares some children’s clothes. Klomp, eating large pieces of bread and cheese, stares across the newspaper, which he holds almost horizontally in front of him, and catches sight of the clothes. He speculates that they are for Rika’s child, but hardly dares to find out about it. He boils with restrained anger, for he hates the mute; and it bothers him that his wife is so interested in the find. Mrs. Klomp quietlydrinks his coffee, eats his loaf of bread and from time to time continues to arrange the clothes. Eventually the farmer can no longer control himself and angrily puts a large piece of bread in his mouth. It almost suffocates him; he coughs with all his might and when he finally manages to swallow the piece, he is red as a cherry. He finishes drinking his cup of coffee and showing the newspaper the clothes his wife is folding, he asks:

“What is that?”


“I see that, but for whom?”

– By Moses.

“For the finder? Hm! Can’t the girl take care of those clothes herself?”

‘She can, but I want to surprise her.

– Surprises !?

– Yes, the child has enough clothes, but they are not suitable for the ceremony.

– Ceremony !?

– Moses must of course be baptized and for that ceremony he needs special clothes.

– No! … do you have to prepare them?

‘I don’t have to, but I like to make them, because Rika doesn’t understand baptism or the clothes needed for that baptism.

– This child must be baptized !?

“Of course! We live in a small Christian village, where all the children are properly baptized.” So why make an exception with Moses?

“Here’s something beautiful! Can’t the mutineer’s relatives take care of it?”

‘Of course they can, but I can too, and the priest asked me to arrange everything.

– Hm! … beautiful thing!

“Won’t you oppose it?”

Klomp, not answering that question, says further:

“Who assures us that the child’s parents are Christians?” It was said in the village that he was like a Jewish child.

‘He may be a Jew, but that doesn’t stop him. Many Jews become Christians.

‘He may also be a Turk.

– Turkish !?

“Yes, a Turk. All Turks have black hair and black eyes.”

‘That doesn’t stop either. Anyone can become a Christian, even a Turk.

“And when is he to be baptized?”



Klomp throws away the newspaper and with surprise he looks at his wife.

“Today!” He repeats. “Why didn’t you talk about it already?”

– Because a few days ago you asked me never to talk about Rika again.

Klomp walks back and forth in the room. He thinks that he always goes to church on Sundays, not for religious reasons, but to spend part of the boring Sundays for him. If he goes now too, he will sit almost face to face with Rika, for his church pew stands just in front of the one where usually sit the parents whose children are to be baptized. He could now stay at home, but does not dare to fear that he would be mocked later in the village bar, for no doubt his absence would be noticed and talked about. Everyone heard about the overturned milk barrel, and it was as if he had not come to church because of the mute woman.

Mrs. Klomp guesses easily that her husband would rather not go to church now, namely to avoid Rika, but she does not allude to that at all. Silently she takes the clothes, gets up, dresses to go out; then she says to Klomp:

– You don’t have to attend the baptism.

“But what will the farmers say if I am absent?” They will say: Klomp did not dare to go to church because of the mutineer.

‘Let them talk.

‘I wish that damn girl was all hell!

Mrs. Klomp shakes her head, but does not respond to that desire because she knows her husband and does not want to provoke his anger. Calmly she takes the package with the clothes under her arm and leaves.

The farmer stays in the room; he stands with outstretched legs, which appear to be more like the legs of an elephant than of a man; he leans over and looks at her through the window.

She goes to Rika. Reaching her cottage, she looks through the windowpane and sees the mutineer sucking the little boy. Rika, however, immediately notices the mistress as she looks behind her. A smile plays on her face and pointing to the door she asks the lady to herself.

The farmer’s wife enters and shows the package.

Rika raises her eyebrows up and the dimples in her cheeks deepen as she guesses right away that the mistress wants to surprise her.

A minute later they both sit side by side, and as the child sucks and looks at the women in turn, Mrs. Klomp opens the package, takes off her clothes, and hangs them on one of her hands, which she raises high to show how the white man will sit. hood, the white skirt and so on.

Rika stands up admiringly and thanks the mistress with loud shouts and a handshake. She points to the biblical Moses to say that her Moses will be as beautiful as the other one, and Mrs. Klomp nods with a smile as if to say: You are right …, he is so beautiful.

Moses has now drunk enough and is dressed in the new snow-white robes. The mistress takes him in her arms and stands up a few steps to show the girl how beautiful her little boy looks, and Rika claps her hands together in joy and admiration. She wants to pick up the child, but Mrs. Klomp suddenly presents her with another package and gestures:

‘Open up! … it’s yours.

Rika understands, obeys and pulls out of it a white hood, a beautiful silk mixed-color apron and a pair of shoes.

Shoes Rika never wore and she marveled, once again pulling up her eyebrows; then she taps her shoes and herself with her finger and asks:

“Mine, too?”

The mistress nods with a smile and says:

‘Put them on!

Rika puts them on and luckily the new shoes sit well. Like a little girl who is wearing new boots for the first time, the girl admires her shoes and takes a few steps on the tile floor. Then she puts on the hood and the apron and looks at herself in the mirror.

It is now about half past nine. The farmer’s wife signals for the mutineer to follow her outside, but this one remains standing, not knowing why to go out. The mistress is already with the child in the hallway and signals again.

Rika, who trusts the mistress in everything, follows and both go in Brej’s direction.

Strange thoughts enter the girl’s head: Why should she go with the mistress? … Where? … Why is the child present? …