This is the fourteenth of thirty-one readers used in the Veritas Press Phonics Museum program, designed for first grade.
As his hands were flicking the scraps at the quacking, splashing ducks, a sudden gust of wind hit him.
He had a soft landing as he was jumping from the stilts, but the gust sent his hat aloft. Whisk!
He had to watch, helpless, as it was swept along in the wind, twisting and spinning.
The story of The Grand Cat transpires during the epoch of the Dutch Reformation. Throughout the 1500s the Netherlands included the territory that today constitutes Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg. The people of this area were diligent and self-reliant, hardened by years of reclaiming the land from the sea by building a series of dikes and canals. The waterway system that meandered through the land provided ready access from the port cities for trade and commerce from around the world. Because of these geographic conditions, the land blossomed with prosperity.
The dawn of the 16th century brought great change to the Netherlands. From 1482 to 1506 Philip of Burgundy, son of the Holy Roman Emperor, ruled them. His son, Emperor Charles V, who was himself a Netherlander, eventually became king of Spain at a time when the Netherlands was soon to be influenced by the teaching of that famed Protestant Reformer, John Calvin. While Charles V tolerated the new Protestant ideals, his son, King Philip II of Spain, attempted to squelch this threat against Catholicism. After his appointed governor, Duke of Alva, marched with his 10,000 soldiers into the Low Country in 1567, a ruthless dictatorship ensued. In response to the execution of two leaders of the opposition, William of Orange fled to Germany where he raised an army of 25,000 troops. He returned to lead both Catholics and Protestants in the Dutch Revolt against the Spanish Tyranny.
Although Spain was able to subdue some of the southern provinces, seven northern provinces declared their independence in 1581 and established the Dutch Republic. William of Orange served as its chief until his assassination by a Catholic fanatic in 1584. This small country had reclaimed its land, but Spain never officially recognized their independence until 1648.
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