The Open Door by John de Liefde

Poor Mrs. Van Loon was a widow. She had four little children. The eldest was Dirk, a boy of eight years.

One evening she had no bread, and her children were hungry. She folded her hands, and prayed to God; for she served the Lord, and she believed that he loved and could help her.

When she had finished her prayer, Dirk said to her, "Mother, don't we read in the Bible that God sent ravens to a pious man to bring him bread?"

"Yes," answered the mother, "but that's long, long ago, my dear."

"Well," said Dirk, "then the Lord may send ravens now. I'll go and open the door, else they can't fly in."

In a trice Dirk jumped to the door, which he left wide open, so that the light of the lamp fell on the pavement of the street.

Shortly after, the burgomaster passed by. The burgomaster is the first magistrate of a Dutch town or village. Seeing the open door, he stopped.

Looking into the room, he was pleased with its clean, tidy appearance, and with the nice little children who were grouped around their mother. He could not help stepping in, and approaching Mrs. Van Loon he said, "Eh, my good woman, why is your door open so late as this?"

Mrs. Van Loon was a little confused when she saw such a well-dressed gentleman in her poor room. She quickly rose and dropped a courtesy to the gentleman; then taking Dirk's cap from his head, and smoothing his hair, she answered, with a smile, "My little Dirk has done it, sir, that the ravens may fly in to bring us bread."

Now, the burgomaster was dressed in a black coat and black trousers, and he wore a black hat. He was quite black all over, except his collar and shirt-front.

"Ah! indeed!" he exclaimed cheerfully. "Dirk is right. Here is a raven, you see, and a large one too. Come along, Dirk, and I'll show you where the bread is."

The burgomaster took Dirk to his house, and ordered his servant to put two loaves and a small pot of butter into a basket. This he gave to Dirk, who carried it home as quickly as he could. When the other little children saw the bread, they began dancing and clapping their hands. The mother gave to each of them a thick slice of bread and butter, which they ate with the greatest relish.

When they had finished their meal, Dirk went to the open door, and, taking his cap from his head, looked up to the sky, and said, "Many thanks, good Lord!" And after having said this, he shut the door.