"That English lad is fleet enough," said Peter. "If he were a born Hollander, he could do no better. Generally these John Bulls make but a sorry figure on skates. Halloo! Here you are, Van Mounen. Why, we hardly hoped for the honor of meeting you again. Whom were you flying from in such haste?"
"Snails," retorted Lambert. "What kept you?"
"We have been talking, and besides, we halted once to give Poot a chance to rest."
"He begins to look rather worn-out," said Lambert in a low voice.
Just then a beautiful iceboat with reefed sail and flying streamers swept leisurely by. Its deck was filled with children muffled up to their chins. Looking at them from the ice you
could see only smiling little faces imbedded in bright-colored woolen wrappings. They were singing a chorus in honor of Saint Nicholas. The music, starting in the discord of a hundred childish voices, floated, as it rose, into exquisite harmony:
"Friend of sailors and of children! Double claim have we, As in youthful joy we're sailing, O'er a frozen sea!
Nicholas! Saint Nicholas! Let us sing to thee!