Envelope post marked: Rotterdam, 2 July 1888
Mrs. D. S. Stanley
San Antonio, Texas
In this letter you will find two photographs of Mynheer and Frau Noorlander. They sent them to you. It is nice of them, isn’t it. They are such good people and try so hard to make us comfortable. Everything about the house is so comfortable and the table so dainty, more so than in the Holland hotels.
I left a lot of photographs of myself at home in a drawer of a writing desk in the back parlor. Won’t you send two or three? Don’t forget it, for I want to give these people some. Why don’t you say more about Jo’s plans – she and I will have a lovely time next winter. Lena went to Amsterdam last week to meet Mary. I was so sorry to have her go. She is such a lovely girl and I am as fond of her as I am of my own sisters. We are so congenial and she is so amiable and so sensible and so pretty and everything that is attractive that I am perfectly broken up to have her go. I do hope we can have her visit us for a long time sometime. She is a girl that you would never tire of, who never imposes herself. Well, Momma knows what she is. There are very, very few girls who would have worn as well as she did last summer.
The girls spent two days at Amsterdam and two at the Hague and two at Dordrecht. I went down to stay with them at Dortrecht, and we had such a good time. I went down to Rotterdam to meet them and we took the boat up the river Maas to Dordrecht or “Dort” as the Hollanders call it. The river is so lovely. The banks are low, but the dykes with the houses below the mote’s level are just showing their red roofs above the dyke. There are many windmills with thatched roofs, some with great balconies halfway up, swinging their great arms in the wind. It was a breezy day and the sun shone brightly. Great clumping sailboats laden with hay or brush came booming along in the wind. They are not painted but varnished and the color in this is very rich and beautiful. They have a great deal of the trimming painted sea‑green and bright red, and at the side instead of the center are boards to keep the boat steady. They look like great fins and one can think of nothing else, when looking at the Dutch boats, than great fat flying fish.
At Dort, we met Mrs. Haskell and the girls, who had brought with them some of Frau Nooslander’s delicious brown bread and sweet butter. We bought strawberries and beer and sat down at a little cafe and ate our lunch. I wish you could see the Holland strawberries, they are so big and delicious. The women go about with great yokes on and immense baskets of berries suspended from them. When they are “goed koop “, as they say here ‑‑ that is cheap ‑‑ you pay two and a half cents for a pound. We feasted on them while we were there and here have them every day. We sketched in the afternoon and went through a windmill ‑‑ saw how they make the thing go. That evening, after the girls had come home to Rijsoord, we took a little excursion across the river to Pappendrecht, a little town on the other side. There is a summer garden there and we meant to take tea there. A great storm came up as we were crossing, so we went immediately to the garden. It had turned cold and blustery since morning and the summer garden looked like the last rose of summer. All the tables and chairs had been piled up in a comer and everything gave the impression that sensible visitors were not expected. But nevertheless, in one remote corner we found a table and ordered tea. They brought first a great coal‑scuttle full of burning coals and on top of it a kettle of boiling water. Then cups, saucers, and that sort of thing, and the tea in a little tin box, with another little teapot and a brazier to put that in. It was so cozy and nice it was great fun to make our own tea out of doors, even though a storm was coming up. After a very little time, we had to resort to umbrellas, for the rain came down in torrents. Then the beautiful calm of our tea table was ruffled and this is how it looked. The garcon stood and grinned at us from the cafe. The next day we spent exploring Dortrecht. Lena and Mary left for England the next morning and I came disconsolately home. They sail for home July 19th by the Cunard line from Liverpool, landing at Boston instead of New York, for they have never seen Boston and this gives them an opportunity to see it.
The weather here is perfectly abominable for July, so terribly cold and blustery, actually too cold for work out of doors. If this is Holland weather, I am sorry for the Hollanders. I have a very pleasant room in the garret. It looks out on a great field, and every afternoon at four the maids come and milk the cows. They milk a cow even in an original way. They proceed first to tie the cow, hind legs and tail together. Then they seat themselves on the most peculiar stool you ever saw. It looks like a very delicate toadstool. At the gate of the field is a cart drawn by dogs, with great bright brass milk cans. After each pale full they strain it right into the cans.
We have had some very interesting times here. Last week we were all invited to come to Frau Nooslander’s mother’s to drink the health of the “oude tonte” (old aunt), her mother’s aunt, on her 88th birthday. She is a spry old lady yet, and darns all the family’s stockings, no small work here, where it is considered a mortal sin to enter a house with wooden shoes on, so that everyone goes around in stocking feet in the house. We each brought the old lady a little present and then drank her health in “avocat”, a favorite drink that nearly kills me. It is raw egg beaten up with brandy. Then we sang. It was very nice. Sometimes it gets to be a great bore, as today. We are momentarily expecting three lumping dutchmen who are coming to sing for our benefit. We do not look forward to it with any great pleasure. Here they are now in a carriage! I meant to spy them out as they approached and skip off for a walk. It is like the Cervantes’ visit to us. We have to grin a great deal and talk very little owing to the very small amount of Holland that we know. I can understand now very well, but cannot speak but a little. I really enjoy it here very much, but it is the quietest little place under the sun.
Now for Momma’s benefit ‑‑ I have received all the money you have sent, the $3.00 for the dress and the little sums, too. I have to send my draft to England through a Rotterdam money changer. These Dutch are so afraid of losing a cent that they told me at the bank that they never gave money on drafts to strangers, even though they are identified ‑‑ isn’t it outrageous. Now I suppose I will have to go down and see these Dutchmen. It’s such a bother! And no doubt they will take the very roof off the house with their voices!
Later ‑ They did not sing so very badly, but they smoke so much, after a little while the air becomes thick enough to cut with a knife. We had tea and hot coffee, and now, I am glad to say, they are gone. Sunday is a do‑nothing day here. We cannot go to church, for we cannot understand the Holland, so we stay at home and write letters and read and walk. I received our country (presumably a book) and am going to read it very soon. Then I hope to astonish these “Furriners”, (19th century slang for foreigners). But now I must stop writing for supper will be ready.
July 1st 1888