The other day a flag was lying on the sidewalk of the main street of the
town where the initiator of the
So many pedestrians had trodden on it with dirty shoes, some of them fouled
with dogs' excrement, that it had become impossible to see what kind of
flag it was.
The only thing you could make up about it was that it had been black and
Most people ignored the flag completely and just walked on; a few spat on
it; and a few looked at it briefly, were surprised to find an unfamiliar
flag on the sidewalk, and then walked on as well.
The flag might have been lying there for two days or so when someone
dressed in simple, partially, perhaps, a little bit shabby, clothes walked
It seemed as if this person recognized the flag from a long distance
'E immediately walked, almost
ran, towards it and picked it up at a spot which was still relatively
'E looked around
'im and saw a small water
faucet at the entrance of a parkette.
'E went to the faucet and started to wash the coarsest dirt off the flag.
Soon, however, 'e was joined by a roller-skater who had found the washer's
behavior rather odd and who wanted to know why 'e was taking all the
trouble and risk of picking up such a piece of dirty cotton with lots of
germs on it.
"Hey!" the obtrusive fellow said, "Are you crazy or something? Who cares
about a stained cloth?"
Altho these two
questions were clear enough, the washer did not answer them and
kept on pouring water over the flag, so that at least the worst of the
smut would disappear.
While doing this the pattern on the flag became visible bit by bit.
It seemed to be whiter in the middle, with some kind of a tilted cross,
and blacker at the far left and far right.
"Hey!" the obtrusive fellow said again, "Why all this fuss about a dirty
piece of cotton. Are you a tramp or something?"
And, again, the washer did not answer and kept on pouring water over
the flag, so that still more of the smut would disappear, and still more
of the pattern on the flag would become visible.
But the skater could not wait any longer,
'er patience was up and with
a sudden jerk 'e pulled the flag from the washer's hands and sped away
The washer had not expected such a violent reaction and was too
perplexed to even follow the thief (for a thief 'e was).
"Let 'im go", the washer thought to 'imself, "'e only took a worthless,
dirty and wet piece of cotton away from me".
Since this story is being used as material for the novel
Triptych of Times,
you are presently being given free access to less than a quarter of it.
(For more info about this novel by Vincent van Mechelen see