It is understandable that the ambulations of a man moving atop a wooden orb cannot be too spry, but Filip is brave and were it not for a slight limp and the clatter of his prosthesis down the bone-dry way, it would be diffcult to realise that this man is missing one leg. The slower tempo also means there’s time to talk. A crisp morning, the streets are lively, sunrise, the sun’s disc scraped up by slender poplars – it’s a pleasant walk. Halfway there they manage to stop a cart carrying vegetables to the Leyden market, thanks to which they have more time for a real breakfast at the Emperor’s Inn.
Then from the harbour at the channel they got on a boat pulled overland by massive horses; they choose cheap places on deck under a tent that shields them from the sun, and because the weather is nice, the trip becomes pure pleasure.
And so I shall leave them – heading on a barge to Amsterdam, in a shadow-stain passing across the water cast by the covering of the tent over their heads. Both of them are dressed in black, wearing white starched batiste collars; van Horssen is more lavish, neater, which means just that he has a wife who takes care of his clothing, or that he can afford a servant – probably nothing more. Filip is sitting with his back to their direction of travel, comfortably leaning, with his healthy leg bent, his black leather slipper crowned by a dark purple tattered ribbon. The wooden orb leans on a knot in the boards of the barge. They both see each other against a backdrop of fleeting landscape: fields bordered with willows, drainage ditches, the piers of small harbours and wooden houses covered in reeds. Goose down floats like tiny watercraft along the shore. A light warm breeze moves the feathers in their hats.