Beschaving

On april 7, my train from Utrecht to Berlin was scheduled to depart in ten minutes.

I was reading Huizinga's Nederlands beschaving in de 17de eeuw. A young woman came into my empty compartment and began to say something that I did not understand. I mumbled an apology for sitting in what I thought might be her reserved seat. To my astonishment, she asked me, in very good French, whether I was not Mr. Montias, which I allowed I was. Since I was sure only the Dutch friends who had just seen me off knew that I was taking this train, it flashed into my head that some catastrophe must have happened at home for some one to locate me under these circumstances. She then explained that she was bringing me the international card allowing me to get a reduction on the train (and which I would have needed to show on this trip), which card I had forgotten at the ticket and reservation office of the Amsterdam station three days earlier. I gratefully thanked her, with the thought that 'Nederland's beschaving in de laat 20e eeuw is ook niet so erg.''