"Why," said Van Mounen, who was looking up and down the street in a bewildered way. "We've walked right past the museum, and I don't see the boys. Let us go back."
The boys met at the museum and were soon engaged in examining its extensive collection of curiosities, receiving a new insight into Egyptian life, ancient and modern. Ben and Lambert had often visited the British Museum, but that did not prevent them from being surprised at the richness of the Leyden collection. There were household utensils, wearing apparel, weapons, musical instruments, sarcophagi, and mummies of men, women, and cats, ibexes, and other creatures. They saw a massive gold armlet that had been worn by an Egyptian king at a time when some of these same mummies, perhaps, were nimbly treading the streets of Thebes; and jewels and trinkets such as Pharaoh's daughter wore, and the children of Israel borrowed when they departed out of Egypt.
There were other interesting relics, from Rome and Greece, and some curious Roman pottery which had been discovered in digging near The Hague--relics of the days when the countrymen of Julius Caesar had settled there. Where have they not settled? I for one would hardly be astonished if relics of the ancient Romans should someday be found deep under the grass growing around the Bunker Hill monument.
When the boys left this museum, they went to another and saw a wonderful collection of fossil animals, skeletons, birds, minerals, precious stones, and other natural specimens, but as they were not learned men, they could only walk about and stare, enjoy the little knowledge of natural history they possessed, and wish with all their hearts they had acquired more. Even the skeleton of the mouse puzzled Jacob. What wonder? He was not used to seeing the cat-fearing little creatures running about in their bones--and how could he ever have imagined their necks to be so queer?
Besides the Museum of Natural History, there was Saint Peter's Church to be visited, containing Professor Luzac's memorial, and Boerhaave's monument of white and black marble, with its urn and carved symbols of the four ages of life, and its medallion of Boerhaave, adorned with his favorite motto, Simplex sigillum veri. They also obtained admittance to a tea garden, which in summer was a favorite resort of the citizens and, passing naked oaks and fruit trees, ascended to a high mound which stood in the center. This was the site of a round tower now in ruins, said by some to have been built by Hengist the Anglo-Saxon king, and by others to have been the castle of one of the ancient counts of Holland.
As the boys walked about on the top of its stone wall, they could get but a poor view of the surrounding city. The tower stood higher when, more than two centuries ago, the inhabitants of beleaguered Leyden shouted to the watcher on its top their wild, despairing cries, "Is there any help? Are the waters rising? What do you see?"
And for months he could only answer, "No help. I see around us nothing but the enemy."
Ben pushed these thoughts away and, resolutely looking down into the bare tea garden, filled it in imagination with gay summer groups. He tried to forget old battle clouds, and picture only curling wreaths of tobacco smoke rising from among men, women, and children enjoying their tea and coffee in the open air. But a tragedy came in spite of him.