The Dutch Uncle: Excerpt #6

The following text is an excerpt from my National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) effort. Excerpts appear in no particular order.

The Dutch Uncle tells the story of Crijn, his sister Mariëlle, an Australian man named Jasper and his daughter Harriet (Harry). It is the story of betrayal, redemption, lost loves, forgotten chances and the problems people create for themselves and others.



Frans and Marielle immediately became lovers. She felt a sense that he was a kindred spirit and she quickly fell in love with him and him with her. They became inseparable and their time in Israel was among the happiest of her life.

In the early morning she would sit in the warm middle-eastern sun and write letters to her brother Crijn.

Mijn lieve broer (My darling brother)

I have arrived in Israel and have recovered from the long and cramped journey. The ship engine’s failed during the trip and we drifted for a day and a night. It was quite beautiful sitting in the middle of the ocean with no noise from the engine.

I found my way to where Mari told me to go, to a kibbutz in Shamir. It is in the north in the top of Galilee. I have met many lovely people here from all over the world. But the most important person I met is another person from Holland. His name is Frans. I really like him and he and I are travelling up into Lebanon next week if we can arrange the papers.


“What does your brother do?” Frans asked Marielle

“He’s a baker,” she replied. “Our uncle Rene and Papa owned a bakery in Beverwijk and Haarlem……my Uncle’s son was killed in an accident before the war and then Papa died….so Crijn went to work for Rene when he was old enough”.

“Free bread?”

“Cakes too,” she laughed, pausing and smiling. “I love my brother. More than anything in the world,” she said.

“More than me,” Frans said as he gripped her in a loving hug.

“Yes,” replied Marielle laughing and smiling. “Much more than you”. The two of them kissed and then resettled on the rug. Marielle laid down and looked up at the sky. Frans lay next to her, raised up on one elbow. He played with her hair, drawing imaginary lines with his index finger, curling her soft blonde hair.

“I do love him,” Marielle continued. “When Mama died, Papa tried so hard to be a good father, but he worked so hard. He was hardly at home. I became a mother at the age of 10,” she wiped a tear from her eye.

“I’m sorry,” Frans said as he leant down and kissed her cheek.

“It’s OK,” she continued. “I had my Uncle Renee and Aunty Anika and they were wonderful. But they worked in the bakery and so I would care for Crijn before and after school and put him to bed. He only really knew me as his mother. I remember once he called me mother and when I told him I was his sister, he cried. But I want you to be my mother.” Marielle laughed and sat up and hunched her shoulders and bent her legs up to her chin. “I suppose I was his mother,” she said as she looked into Frans’ eyes.

“He was very lucky,” Frans said softly.

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