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Grandfather’s Birthday Present – Herman Heijermans (1864-1934)
Herman Heijermans, Jr. made his literary debut in 1892 with a peasant novel, and though he continued to write fiction for many years, he was chiefly engaged in writing plays and, in later life, in managing his own theatre in Amsterdam. His now famous Sketches, first issued under the pseudonym of Samuel Falkland, are known simply as “Falklands.” These are quaint and homely tales of the life of the lower middle classes.

Grandfather’s Birthday Present is one of the most delightful of these “Falklands.” The present version was translated by Dr. A. van C. P. Huizinga, especially for this collection. It is included by permission of the author’s heirs.
Grandfather’s Birthday Present
(From Sketches, by “Samuel Falkland”)

“Door as they all were, not one of the family had ever been able to rise even to a moderate state of prosperity. It was an invariable rule among them to be constantly on the lookout for some miraculous turn in the tide of fortune by which the chronically empty coffers might be suddenly replenished.

Jet, the eldest daughter, had for a while been most successful, until her husband was sent to the hospital. It was her idea to give grandfather a new Bible with a gold-plated clasp, while each of the grandchildren should give him some inconsiderable trifle. This plan entailed no excessive outlay, which might be regretted later on.

Dirk was the next. He was six years younger than his sister. Three other brothers and sisters had moved away while their mother was yet alive. Dirk thoughjt little of sister Jet’s proposal; he was of the opinion that if grandfather were to have a Bible with a gold clasp, he would none the less continue to use the old Bible he had always read out of with his wife. Besides, Dirk had ideas of his own; everyone had a right to his convictions; he had not been inside a church for years, and he would certainly vote against the Bible.

Grandfather`s Birthday Present part 6

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Just then Henk came in. “Well, where is it?” he asked, with the self- importance of one who had thought of the idea in the first place, and had already paid his share.“We`ll have...

Grandfather`s Birthday Present part 5

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In order that the old man should not suspect what they were doing, they walked about in their stocking feet; and in order not to wake him they pinned the decorations with hairpins rather...

Grandfather`s Birthday Present part 4

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“Well, I don`t think I can guess,” smiled the old man contentedly. Hoping that the two cents which he invariably received from the old man on Sundays might be increased to three, the youngster...

Grandfather`s Birthday Present part 3

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They were fourteen in all—one more than the unlucky number. The photographer said that he had seldom had the pleasure of seeing a liner group in his studio. It was not easy, however, for...

Grandfather`s Birthday Present part 2

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Mary was the second daughter. She had been separated from her husband (at the expense of the state!), and was now expecting her fourth child, before the decree was finally pronounced. She did not...

Grandfather`s Birthday Present part 1

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Herman Heijermans (1864-1934)Herman Heijermans, Jr. made his literary debut in 1892 with a peasant novel, and though he continued to write fiction for many years, he was chiefly engaged in writing plays and, in...

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