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Apply ’the best of ourselves to the task at hand’

 

A large part of the Netherlands used to be under the sea but now the sea is held back by dikes and a large part of that country lies below sea level.

In 1865 Mary Mapes Dodge, a 34-year-old resident of New York, wrote a legendary story about life in Holland. Her story is known today by two titles, either “Hans Brinker” or “The Silver Skates.” The author included some “historical” short stories within her main story including this well-known story about a little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike.

Many years ago there lived in Haarlem a sunny-haired little boy of gentle disposition. His father was a sluicer a man who opens or closes the gates, which regulate the flow of water through all the canals.

One autumn afternoon the small boy carried some cakes to a blind man who lived in the country, over on the other side of the dyke. As he trudged along the canal on the way home, he noticed how recent rains had swollen the waters. Suddenly he looked around him with dismay. It was growing dark, and he was still some distance from home. Just as he started to run, he was startled by the sound of trickling water! The boy understood the danger at a glance. The water trickling through that small hole in the dyke would soon grow into a great stream and flood the country unless the trickle was stopped!

Quick as a flash he saw his duty. Climbing to the side of the dyke, he thrust his little finger in the hole. The flowing was stopped! “Ah!” thought the boy, “the angry waters must stay back now! Haarlem should not be drowned while I am here!”

That was all very fine at first; but it rapidly became dark and the night winds grew colder. The little hero began to tremble with cold and dread. He shouted loudly but no one came. The cold grew more intense, and numbness slowly crept over him until his entire body was wracked with pain.

He tried to whistle but his teeth chattered so he could not. He shouted again, “Mother! Mother! Will no one come?” But his mother had already locked the doors, thinking the boy had stayed with his blind friend.

So the midnight moon looked down on that small form halfway up the dyke. The boy’s head was bent, but he was not asleep, for now and then one restless hand feebly rubbed the outstretched arm that seemed fastened to the dyke. If he drew away that tiny finger, the angry waters would grow angrier still until they rushed forth and swept away the town!

At daybreak a clergyman, returning from a sick call, heard groans as he walked along the top of the dyke. Looking below, he saw a child apparently writhing in agony. “In the name of wonder, boy,” he exclaimed, “what are you doing there?”

“I am keeping the water from running out,” was the simple answer of the little one. “Tell them to come quick!” Needless to say, they did come quickly, and the little hero, quite rightly, has become a character in history! That young boy succeeded because he was dedicated.

Vince Lombardi described it this way: “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Ken and Nan Webster have collected inspiration for many years from many sources, and now inspire readers of “A Matter That Matters.” Contact them at kennanco@gmail.com or visit www.kennancompany.com.

 
 
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