The Soul of Veere Part 4


Then in those miniature houses there was a gradual animation, and the reappearance of life that seemed to have slept for ages behind closed doors, awaiting only the coming of the pale young man with the accordion. Behind the windows there was laughter on the faces j of young girls with their white headdresses decorated with quaint spirals sticking out like antennae.All the pretty girls of Veere were there behind their lace curtains, with mouths agape like roses in ; a cloud of bees. Seeing them thus emerge out of the deep shadows and come, with fresh complexions, to their windows, I imagined these 1 homes to be real dolls` houses brought to life by enchantment—the houses of all the dolls of Veere, with their lovely bare arms tanned by the salt air, their great bulged skirts, their little colored heads and eyes tinted like the sea.So the musician went here and there through the streets, his wild airs j changing to sad and plaintive strains that brought tears to the eyes. These were like the melancholy tunes played at sea during the night, by some little cabin boy. It was the soul of Veere, silently weeping over her lost love, sighing regretfully over all the lovely girls who now lay asleep with crosses over them, for the handsome young men who went to sea and never returned. Finally the sounds of the accordion died away far off among the dunes.When I returned to the inn I said to Pietje:“You were right. There is a boy in this town who plays his little tunes. Doubtless he is a soul in torment. Do they know what evil befell him?” The little cat-eyed creature laughed and pointed to a man seated over by the window:“Ask him,” she said. “He can tell you better than I could.”Well, the story was quite commonplace, after all. It seems that one day the lad had fallen in love with one of those doll-like creatures who come to the windows. One evening he had come to her house to dance and play the accordion. Other boys were also in the habit of coming to the same house, and they too paid their court to the girl.

Caught sight of her in the arms

When the lad wept, she would say to him, “What do you expect? I love you, but I love him, too—the boy over by the door, and I love the boy who`s coming here after you leave…. I love them all!” Once from behind the hedge he had caught sight of her in the arms of the youth who had come before him. He quickly drew his knife, and killed both the girl and the boy.And from that day to this,” continued the man who was telling the story, “he wanders through the streets, playing his little tunes. He`s quite inoffensive: children throw stones at him and the girls laugh. He doesn`t understand.”But I could not quite believe that this was the true version. Things are true only in appearance: behind even the most obvious facts there lurks a secret meaning: this must be sought for, for it is the more beautiful of the two. I therefore said to myself that this boy was the soul of Veere.I now understand why he came out of the church door. You, little town of Veere, and that poor half-witted musician are both tainted with the same quiet madness. It is as if the winds of the sea had turned your heads. Something has gone never to return, something that is lamented by your carillon, that sobs in the notes of that accordian.At Veere there is always a strange young man who walks off in the direction of the dunes and looks out over the broad expanse of the sea.

Read More about Neighbor part 1