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Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons

Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons
Title: Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons
Release Date: 2018-07-08
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited




OF CANADA, Limited


Jacqueline and her Carrier Pigeon in the Procession

Title Page

Copyright 1910


Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1910












I am glad that Mrs. Seaman has written this story. Americans cannot knowLeyden too well, for no city in Europe so worthily deserves the name ofAlma Mater. Here, after giving the world an inspiring example ofheroism, modern liberty had her chosen home. The siege, so finelypictured in this story, took place about midway in time between twogreat events—the march of Alva the Spaniard and his terrible army of"Black Beards" into the Netherlands, and the Union of Utrecht, by whichthe seven states formed the Dutch Republic.

This new nation was based on the federal compact of a writtenconstitution, under the red and white striped flag, in which each striperepresented a state. Under that flag, which we borrowed in 1775 andstill keep, though we have added stars, universal common schooleducation of all the children, in public schools sustained by taxation,and freedom of religion for all, was the rule. Leyden won her victoryseven years before the Dutch Declaration of Independence in July, 1581.As our own Benjamin Franklin declared, "In love of liberty and braveryin the defense of it, she (the Dutch Republic) has been our greatexample."

With freedom won, as so graphically portrayed in this story, Leydenenlarged her bounds and welcomed to residence and citizenship threecompanies of people who became pioneers of our American life. Like thecarrier-pigeons, they brought something with them. To our nation, theygave some of the noblest principles of the seven Dutch United States tohelp in making those thirteen of July 4, 1776, and the constitutionalcommonwealth of 1787, formed by "the people of the United States ofAmerica."

First of all, to victorious Leyden, came the Walloons, or refugees fromBelgium, to gather strength before sailing in the good ship NewNetherland, in 1623, to lay the foundations of the Empire State. Thenfollowed the Pilgrim Fathers of New England. Many of the young andstrong who sailed in the Speedwell and Mayflower were born in Leyden andspoke and wrote Dutch. The old folks, who could not cross the Atlantic,remained in Leyden until they died and some were buried in St. Pancrasand St. Peter's Church. In this city, also, dwelt the Huguenots, inlarge numbers, many of whom came to America to add their gifts andgraces to enrich our nation. Last, but not least, besides educating inher university hundreds of colonial Americans, including two sons ofJohn Adams, one of whom, John Quincy Adams became president of theUnited States, Leyden in 1782, led in the movement to recognize us as anindependent country. Then the Dutch lent us four millions of dollars,which paid off our starving Continentals. Principal and interest, repaidin 1808, amounting to fourteen millions, were used to develop sixthousand square miles of Western New York, when New Amsterdam (latercalled Buffalo) was laid out, and whence came two of our presidents,Fillmore and Cleveland.

A most delightful romance is this of Mrs. Seaman. True to facts andexact in coloring, it is all the better for being the straightforwardnarrative of a real boy and a genuine girl. Gysbert Cornellisen'scooking pot, once smoking with savory Spanish stew or hodge-podge, isstill to be seen in the Stedelyk (city) Museum, which every Americanought to visit when in Leyden. It is in the old Laken Hal (or clothHall). From the turreted battlements of Hengist Hill (Den Burg) we maystill look out over the country. If in Leyden on October 3, one will seeThanksgiving Day celebrated, as I know it was, most gaily, in 1909, in amost delightfully Dutch way, when the brides of the year are inevidence. In Belfry Lane, where Jacqueline lived, was the later home ofthe Pilgrim Fathers. On the wall of great Saint Peter's church is abronze tablet in honor of the pastor of the Mayflower company, andinside is the tomb of Jean Luzac, "friend of Washington, Jefferson andAdams." His newspaper, printed in Dutch and French, during ourRevolutionary War, won for us the recognition of three governments inEurope. On the Rapenburg, where he lived, a bronze tablet in his honorwas unveiled, to the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" on September8, 1909.

Having spent weeks in Leyden, during a dozen visits, I can testify tothe general historic accuracy, as well as to the throbbing humaninterest of this story of Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons. It willbe sure to attract many a young traveller to Leyden.

William Elliot Griffis.
Ithaca, N. Y., January 8, 1910.






[Pg 3]



The hush of a golden May afternoon lay on the peaceful, watery streetsof Leyden. Just enough breeze circulated to rustle the leaves of thepoplars, limes and willows that arched the shaded canals. The citydrowsed in its afternoon siesta, and few were about to notice the boyand girl making their way rapidly toward the middle of the town.Directly before them, the canal-interlaced streets and stone bridgesgave place to a steep incline of ground rising to a considerable height.Its sides were clothed with groves of fruit trees, and from its summitfrowned the mouldering walls of some long-forsaken fortress. So old anddeserted was[Pg 4] this tower that a great clump of oak trees had grown upinside of it, and overtopped its walls.

"Art thou tired, Gysbert?" asked the girl, a slim, golden-haired lass ofseventeen, of her younger brother, a boy of little over fourteen years.

"No, Jacqueline, I am strong! A burden of this sort does not weary me!"answered the boy, and he stoutly took a fresh grip on some large,box-like object wrapped in a dark shawl, that they carried between them.

Up the steep sides of the hill they toiled, now lost to sight in thegrove of fruit trees, now emerging again near the grim walls of the oldbattlement. Panting for breath yet laughing gaily, they placed theburden on the ground, and sat down beside it to rest and look aboutthem. Before their eyes lay pictured the sparkling canal-streets of thecity, beyond whose limits stretched the fair, fertile plains of Holland,and in the dim distance[Pg 5] the blue line of the boundless ocean. Gysbert'seyes grew misty with longing.

"Ah! if I had but brush and colors I would paint this," he sighed. "Iwould paint it so that all the world would think they looked upon thevery scene itself!"

"Some day thou shalt have them, Gysbert, if thou dost but possessthyself with patience," answered his sister, with the gentle yetauthoritative air of her three years' senority. "We will raise manypigeons and train them. Then, when the price we have obtained from themis sufficient, thou shalt buy an artist's outfit, and paint to thyheart's content. Meantime thou must practice with thy charcoal andpencil, and wait till the war is over."

Both sat silent for a while, each occupied with thoughts that were, inall probability, very similar. The little word "war" recalled to themmemories, pictures, speculations and fears, all very painful andpuzzling. Neither[Pg 6] one could remember the time when their peace-lovingland of the Netherlands had been allowed to pursue its avocationsunmolested by the terrible Spanish soldiery. From time immemorial hadthese fair provinces been tightly grasped in the clutch of Spain. Now atlast they were awakening, rousing themselves from the long inaction, andstriking the first bold blows for liberty from the relentless oppressor.Little did the children dream, as they sat looking out over thebeautiful city, that this same year of 1574, and this same Leyden wereto witness the great turning-point of the struggle.

"Look, look, Jacqueline! There is the church of Saint Pancras, and thereis our house in Belfry Lane. I can almost see Vrouw Voorhaas lookingfrom the window! Come, let us set free the pigeons!" And Gysbert, allexcitement, began to fumble with the wrappings of the bundle. Jacquelinerose, threw back the two golden braids that[Pg 7] had fallen across hershoulders, and knelt down to superintend the work.

Very carefully they removed the dark shawl and laid it aside, disclosinga box roughly fashioned like a cage, containing four pigeons. Thefrightened birds fluttered about wildly for a moment, then settled downcooing softly. When they had become accustomed to the daylight,Jacqueline opened one side of the box, thrust in her arm, and drewtoward her a young pigeon of magnificent coloring, whose iridescent neckglittered as if hung with jewels. The girl cuddled the bird gently underher chin, and with one finger stroked his handsome head.

"Let us send 'William of Orange,' first," she said. "He is the finest,strongest and wisest, and will lead the way. I am glad we named himafter our great leader."

"But the message!" Gysbert reminded her. "We must not forget that, orgood Vrouw Voorhaas will never know whether[Pg 8] he got back first or not.She cannot seem to remember one pigeon from another. Here, I will writeit." He drew from his pocket a tiny scrap of paper on which he hastilyscrawled:—"'William of Orange' brings greetings to Vrouw Voorhaas fromJacqueline and Gysbert." This he wrapped about the leg of the bird andtied it with a string. "Now, let him go!" he cried.

Jacqueline stood up, lifted the bird in both hands, and with a swiftupward movement, launched him into the air. The pigeon circled round andround for a moment, then mounted up into the sky with a curious spiralflight. When it was many feet above the children it suddenly changed itstactics, spread its wings taut, and made straight in the direction ofSaint Pancras spire and Belfry Lane.

"Bravo! bravo!" they cried, watching intently till its sun-gilded wingshad all but faded from sight. "'William of Orange' is a true carrierpigeon! Now for the rest!"

[Pg 9]

One after another they released the three remaining birds to whom theyhad given the names 'Count Louis' and 'Count John' after the greatWilliam of Nassau's two favorite brothers, and lastly 'Admiral Boisot.'It seemed to be a fancy of the children to call their pets after theirfamous generals and naval commanders.

"These are the finest pigeons we have raised," remarked Jacqueline asshe shaded her eyes to watch their flight. "None of the others cancompare with them, though all are good."

"Now we have twenty," added Gysbert, "and all have proved that they havethe very best training. No pigeons in the city are like ours, not

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