van Oeverden

He was rather tall and very skinny, his shoulders protruded like a coathanger from both sides of his body. The nose was striking; thin as if carved out of a plank, with a strong Roman curve. The shape of his nose was without doubt the cause for the very unusual sound of his voice, a rather nasal sound but still different.
I have never been able to discern from his accent from which locality he hailed, but that he was not a ‘native’ was immediately obvious as soon as he opened his mouth. The most striking part of his speech was that he over stretched all his vowels, a mannerism which fitted his general dull impression.
He tried to make a pious impression but his religious experience was rather exceptional. He had a special aptitude to recognise the “devil”. One minute he would see him in the form of a black cat, the next it would be the bat on one of the bars in the loft of the church, for, yes, you could find him even there, at least when van Oeverden went to church.
The Rev van Melle¹ was one of the ministers he could not stand, at least as a minister. The Rev Doornbos from Barneveld was a favourite.
On an occasion that the Rev. Doornbos would be the guest preacher he was delayed because of a breakdown of his carriage. The congregation waited and waited, but the Rev. Doornbos did not appear. Finally the Rev. van Melle decided to take the service. Hardly had van Oeverden seen him climb into the pulpit, or he stood up and commented loud enough for those near him to hear; “I thought we were having Doornbos but I see it is only “the Mel”. Later he was advised that “the Mel” had hardly pronounced the “votem”² or “Doornbos arrived and took over the service. When van Oeverden later heard what had happened he commented: “See, that Mel has taken me for a ride again”.

¹ The Rev. PJ van Melle was the husband of Catharina Hendrika Callenbach. (5.3)
² Votem is the liturgical start to a protestant service in which God’s help in bringing the congregation together is acknowledged.

This is a reprint from; “Under the Belltower, sketches from a little town on the Velue” a series of stories collected by GF Callenbach. (5.7)

This story has also been published in the family publication; “The Prophet of the Velue” No 62 in late 2001.