Then he looked up from the pavement and rested his eyes upon the carved oaken pulpit, exquisitely beautiful in design and workmanship. He could not see the minister--though, not long before, he had watched him slowly ascending its winding stair--a mild-faced man wearing a ruff about his neck and a short cloak reaching nearly to the knee.
Meantime the great church had been silently filling. Its pews were somber with men and its center radiant with women in their fresh Sunday attire. Suddenly a soft rustling spread through the pulpit. All eyes were turned toward the minister now appearing above the pulpit.
Although the sermon was spoken slowly, Ben could understand little of what was said; but when the hymn came, he joined in with all his heart. A thousand voices lifted in love and praise offered a grander language than he could readily comprehend.
Once he was startled, during a pause in the service, by seeing a little bag suddenly shaken before him. It had a tinkling bell at its side and was attached to a long stick carried by one of the deacons of the church. Not relying solely upon the mute appeal of the poor boxes fastened to the columns near the entrance, this more direct method was resorted to, of awakening the sympathies of the charitable.
Fortunately Ben had provided himself with a few stivers, or the musical bag must have tinkled before him in vain.
More than once, a dark look rose on our English boy's face that morning. He longed to stand up and harangue the people concerning a peculiarity that filled him with pain. Some of the men wore their hats during the service or took them off whenever the humor prompted, and many put theirs on in the church as soon as they arose to leave. No wonder Ben's sense of propriety was wounded; and yet a higher sense would have been exercised had he tried to feel willing that Hollanders should follow the customs of their country. But his English heart said over and over again, "It is outrageous! It is sinful!"
There is an angel called Charity who would often save our hearts a great deal of trouble if we would but let her in.
On Monday morning, bright and early, our boys bade farewell to their kind entertainers and started on their homeward journey.