"You are beaten, though, my boy," said Lambert in English, "and fairly too. How will it be, I wonder, on the day of the grand race?"
Ben flushed and gave a proud, defiant laugh, as if to say, "This was mere pastime. I'm DETERMINED to beat then, come what will!"
By the time the boys reached the village of Voorhout, which stands near the grand canal, about halfway between The Hague and Haarlem, they were forced to hold a council. The wind, though moderate at first, had grown stronger and stronger, until at last they could hardly skate against it. The weather vanes throughout the country had evidently entered into a conspiracy.
"No use trying to face such a blow as this," said Ludwig. "It cuts its way down a man's throat like a knife."
"Keep your mouth shut, then," grunted the affable Carl, who was as strong-chested as a young ox. "I'm for keeping on."
"In this case," interposed Peter, "we must consul the weakest of the party rather than the strongest."
The captain's principle was all right, but its application was not flattering to Master Ludwig. Shrugging his shoulders, he retorted, "Who's weak? Not I, for one, but the wind's stronger than any of us. I hope you'll condescend to admit that!"
"Ha, ha!" laughed Van Mounen, who could barely keep his feet. "So it is."