Standing at the high window overlooking the Amstel River Petronella Mager looked at the bright sky.
“I’m going to visit my sister.”
The maid servant immediately fetched her mistress’s mantle.
“Keep an eye on my daughter,” Petronella commanded, “I don’t want Saskia to wreck my best room again.”
The young girl nodded timidly.
“Today I want you to polish the tin and copper. And don’t forget to scrub the doorsteps when you do the floors.” Petronella sent the girl a warning look.
“Yes madam,” the maid whispered.
“I’ll be back before dark.” The merchant’s wife pulled her red woolen mantle close and descended the wide staircase leading to a broad sidewalk. She noticed at least the copper posts were polished to a shine.
The cobbled street ran parallel with the Amstel River and was lined with opulent merchant houses. Those with wide steps and broad sidewalks in front spoke of affluence – the owner could afford high taxes. Most houses had four stories and a richly ornamented neck gable. Merchandize was stored in the loft and brought up via a hoist-beam.
Close to the Amstel’s olive green water, bare poplars were alternated with lanterns in front of each 12th house.
On the Blue Bridge she passed the ‘cart-go-through’ man who was busy pulling a heavy loaded pushcart to the other side.
An hour later Petronella reached Machteld Mager’s even more opulent house where a young girl washed the steps in front of the basement’s servant entrance. Petronella ascended the steps and knocked on the ‘Amsterdam Green’ front door.
A maid ushered her into the best room.
“Petronella!” Machteld kissed her sister warmly.
“Oh, it’s nice and cozy in here!” Petronella sat down in an upholstered chair near the window.
“I like your bracelets,” Machteld took a closer look.
“At least I can wear them now, with these new three-quarter sleeves. What do you think of my lace collar?”
“Exquisite!” Machteld carefully fingered the fine handiwork. “Your husband found a good batch. Oh, I want to show you something, before the tea arrives.”
In the so-called painting room Machteld proudly showed a new portrait.
“Amazing!” Petronella exclaimed. “Such warm colors! Who is the painter?” She tried to read the signature.
“Rembrandt van Rijn.” Machteld looked pleased. “If you’d like, I can introduce you to his agent, his son Titus. Poor man desperately needs the money.”
“I want him to paint our oldest son,” Petronella couldn’t keep her eyes off the painting.
“Tea is ready to be served madam,” the maid interrupted.
Two fragile Japanese teacups stood on a beautifully carved table. The rest was stored in a tea cabinet decorated with gold and pearls.
While sipping their tea the two sisters talked about their children, their husband’s flourishing trade and the unreliable but indispensable servants.
“You want to hear the latest scandal?” Machteld refilled her sister’s cup and presented another piece of cake.
“Of course!” Petronella grinned and bit in the pastry.
“You know our church helps widows, cripples and single women,” Machteld began. “When a committee member checked to see if they really needed the charity, they found out that a single woman had been cheating them for a long time.”
Petronella sucked in her breath. “How dreadful! So what happened?”
“The woman was convicted to one hour on the scaffold with a paper on her breast reading, “I cheated charity!”
“Hope that will teach others!” Petronella finished her cake.
25 cups of tea later it was time to say goodbye.
“Such a pity there’s no bridge between us.” Petronella sighed.
On her way home it began to rain.
“Oh, mistress, you’re completely soaked!” The maid quickly lit the fire in the bedroom, and helped Petronella out of her clothes.
“I hope you can save that satin dress,” Petronella’s teeth chattered, “it’s my favorite blue one. And oh, my hair!” All the corkscrew curls were gone and her pearl studded cap had also lost its shape.
Petronella’s husband finally gave in when he saw his miserable, sneezing, red-nosed wife.
“I’ll talk to my brother.” He handed her a clean handkerchief. “We’ll finance the building of a wooden pedestrian bridge between the two Kerk (Church) streets.”
The original bridge was completed in 1670.
However, it was the enlarged version which ultimately became Amsterdam’s famous “Magere Brug” (“Skinny Bridge”).
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.