"So, so!" exclaimed the rather crestfallen spouse.
"But I CAN think of the other, Jasper, and it will add a deeper value to your gift. You remember the incident, do you not, Peter? How when the French were invading Prussia and for lack of means the country was unable to defend itself against the enemy, the women turned the scale by pouring their plate and jewels into the public treasury--"
Aha! thought mynheer as he met his vrouw's kindling glance. The proud light is there now, in earnest.
Peter remarked maliciously that the women had still proved true to their vanity on that occasion, for jewelry they would have. If gold or silver were wanted by the kingdom, they would relinquish it and use iron, but they could not do without their ornaments.
"What of that?" said the vrouw, kindling again. "It is no sin to love beautiful things if you adapt your material to circumstances. All I have to say is, the women saved their country and, indirectly, introduced a very important branch of manufacture. Is not that so, Jasper?"
"Of course it is, sweetheart," said mynheer, "but Peter needs no word of mine to convince him that all the world over women have never been found wanting in their country's hour of trial, though"--(bowing to mevrouw)--"his own country women stand foremost in the records of female patriotism and devotion."
Then, turning to Ben, the host talked with him in English of the fine old Belgian city. Among other things he told the origin of its name. Ben had been taught that Antwerp was derived from ae'nt werf (on the wharf), but Mynheer van Gend gave him a far more interesting derivation.
It appears that about three thousand years ago, a great giant, named Antigonus, lived on the river Scheld, on the site of the present city of Antwerp. This giant claimed half the merchandise of all navigators who passed his castle. Of course, some were inclined to oppose this simple regulation. In such cases, Antigonus, by way of teaching them to practice better manners next time, cut off and threw into the river the rights hands of the merchants. Thus handwerpen (or hand-throwing), changed to Antwerp, came to be the name of the place. The escutcheon or arms of the city has two hands upon it; what better proof than this could one have of the truth of the story, especially when one wishes to believe it!