Translated by Ellen Marriage.
h of rowers.
The belated traveler glanced about him as he stepped on board, saw that there was no room for him in the stern, and went to the bows in quest of a seat. They were all poor people there. At first sight of the bareheaded man in the brown camlet coat and trunk-hose, and plain stiff linen collar, they noticed that he wore no ornaments, carried no cap nor bonnet in his hand, and had neither sword nor purse at his girdle, and one and all took him for a burgomaster sure of his authority, a worthy and kindly burgomaster like so many a Fleming of old times, whose homely features and characters have been immortalized by Flemish painters. The poorer passengers, therefore, received him with demonstrations of respect that provoked scornful tittering at the other end of the boat. An old soldier, inured to toil and hardship, gave up his place on the bench to the newcomer, and seated himself on the edge of the vessel, keeping his balance by planting his feet against one of those traverse beams, like the backb
An odd little story. It repeats the medieval legend of a boat trip from an island to mainland Flanders. A strange young man joins the trip at the last moment and has to sit with the poor in the bow. A storm comes up, and the stranger reassures the poor people they will be all right. Then the storm gets worse.
After the tale is told, the author speaks of a reverie he had while visiting a Flemish church. It isn't clear what the connection is.
The writing is rich and beautiful, easily the best part of the piece. The translator did a good job.