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Title: The Burgomaster's Wife — Volume 02
Author: Ebers, Georg
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Burgomaster's Wife — Volume 02" ***

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THE BURGOMASTER'S WIFE

By Georg Ebers

Volume 2.


CHAPTER VII.

A second and third rainy day followed the first one.  White mists and
grey fog hung over the meadows.  The cold, damp north-west wind drove
heavy clouds together and darkened the sky.  Rivulets dashed into the
streets from the gutters on the steep roofs of Leyden; the water in the
canals and ditches grew turbid and rose towards the edges of the banks.
Dripping, freezing men and women hurried past each other without any form
of greeting, while the pair of storks pressed closer to each other in
their nest, and thought of the warm south, lamenting their premature
return to the cold, damp, Netherland plain.

In thoughtful minds the dread of what must inevitably come was
increasing.  The rain made anxiety grow as rapidly in the hearts of many
citizens, as the young blades of grain in the fields.  Conversations,
that sounded anything but hopeful, took place in many tap-rooms--in
others men were even heard declaring resistance folly, or loudly
demanding the desertion of the cause of the Prince of Orange and liberty.

Whoever in these days desired to see a happy face in Leyden might have
searched long in vain, and would probably have least expected to find it
in the house of Burgomaster Van der Werff.

Three days had now elapsed since Peter's departure, nay the fourth was
drawing towards noon, yet the burgomaster had not returned, and no
message, no word of explanation, had reached his family.

Maria had put on her light-blue cloth dress with Mechlin lace in the
square neck, for her husband particularly liked to see her in this gown
and he must surely return to-day.

The spray of yellow wall-flowers on her breast had been cut from the
blooming plant in the window of her room, and Barbara had helped arrange
her thick hair.

It lacked only an hour of noon, when the young wife's delicate, slender
figure, carrying a white duster in her hand, entered the burgomaster's
study.  Here she stationed herself at the window, from which the pouring
rain streamed in numerous crooked serpentine lines, pressed her forehead
against the panes, and gazed down into the quiet street.

The water was standing between the smooth red tiles of the pavement.  A
porter clattered by in heavy wooden shoes, a maid-servant, with a shawl
wrapped around her head, hurried swiftly past, a shoemaker's boy, with a
pair of boots hanging on his back, jumped from puddle to puddle,
carefully avoiding the dry places;--no horseman appeared.

It was almost unnaturally quiet in the house and street; she heard
nothing except the plashing of the rain.  Maria could not expect her
husband until the beat of horses' hoofs was audible; she was not even
gazing into the distance--only dreamily watching the street and the
ceaseless rain.

The room had been thoughtfully heated for the drenched man, whose return
was expected, but Maria felt the cold air through the chinks in the
windows.  She shivered, and as she turned back into the dusky room, it
seemed as if this twilight atmosphere must always remain, as if no more
bright days could ever come.

Minutes passed before she remembered for what purpose she had entered the
room and began to pass the dusting-cloth over the writing-table, the
piles of papers, and the rest of the contents of the apartment.  At last
she approached the pistols, which Peter had not taken with him on his
journey.

The portrait of her husband's first wife hung above the weapons and sadly
needed dusting, for until now Maria had always shrunk from touching it.

To-day she summoned up her courage, stood opposite to it, and gazed
steadily at the youthful features of the woman, with whom Peter had been
happy.  She felt spellbound by the brown eyes that gazed at her from the
pleasant face.

Yes, the woman up there looked happy, almost insolently happy.  How much
more had Peter probably given to his first wife than to her?

This thought cut her to the heart, and without moving her lips she
addressed a series of questions to the silent portrait, which still gazed
steadily and serenely at her from its plain frame.

Once it seemed as if the full lips of the pictured face quivered, once
that the eyes moved.  A chill ran through her veins, she began to be
afraid, yet could not leave the portrait, and stood gazing upward with
dilated eyes.

She did not stir, but her breath came quicker and quicker, and her eyes
seemed to grow keener.

A shadow rested on the dead Eva's high forehead.  Had the artist intended
to depict some oppressive anxiety, or was what she saw only dust, that
had settled on the colors?

She pushed a chair towards the portrait and put her foot on the seat,
pushing her dress away in doing so.  Blushing, as if other eyes than the
painted ones were gazing down upon her, she drew it over the white
stocking, then with a rapid movement mounted the seat.  She could now
look directly into the eyes of the portrait.  The cloth in Maria's
trembling hand passed over Eva's brow, and wiped the shadow from the rosy
flesh.  She now blew the dust from the frame and canvas, and perceived
the signature of the artist to whom the picture owed its origin.  "Artjen
of Leyden," he called himself, and his careful hand had finished even the
unimportant parts of the work with minute accuracy.  She well knew the
silver chain with the blue turquoises, that rested on the plump neck.
Peter had given it to her as a wedding present, and she had worn it to
the altar; but the little diamond cross suspended from the middle she had
never seen.  The gold buckle at Eva's belt had belonged to her since her
last birthday--it was very badly bent, and the dull points would scarcely
pierce the thick ribbon.

"She had everything when it was new," she said to herself.  "Jewels?
What do I care for them!  But the heart, the heart--how much love has
she left in Peter's heart?"

She did not wish to do so, but constantly heard these words ringing in
her ears, and was obliged to summon up all her self-control, to save
herself from weeping.

"If he would only come, if he would only come!"  cried a voice in her
tortured soul.

The door opened, but she did not notice it.

Barbara crossed the threshold, and called her by her name in a tone of
kindly reproach.

Maria started and blushing deeply, said"

"Please give me your hand; I should like to get down.  I have finished.
The dust was a disgrace."  When she again stood on the floor, the widow
said, "What red cheeks you have!  Listen, my dear sister-in-law, listen
to me, child--!"

Barbara was interrupted in the midst of her admonition, for the knocker
fell heavily on the door, and Maria hurried to the window.

The widow followed, and after a hasty glance into the street, exclaimed:

"That's Wilhelm Cornieliussohn, the musician.  He has been to Delft.  I
heard it from his mother.  Perhaps he brings news of Peter.  I'll send
him up to you, but he must first tell me below what his tidings are.  If
you want me, you'll find me with Bessie.  She is feverish and her eyes
ache; she will have some eruption or a fever."

Barbara left the room.  Maria pressed her hands upon her burning cheeks,
and paced slowly to and fro till the musician knocked and entered.

After the first greeting, the young wife asked eagerly:

"Did you see my husband in Delft?"

"Yes indeed," replied Wilhelm, "the evening of the day before yesterday."

"Then tell me--"

"At once, at once.  I bring you a whole pouch full of messages.  First
from your mother."

"Is she well?"

"Well and bright.  Worthy Doctor Groot too is hale and hearty."

"And my husband?"

"I found him with the doctor.  Herr Groot sends the kindest remembrances
to you.  We had musical entertainments at his home yesterday and the day
be fore.  He always has the latest novelties from Italy, and when we try
this motet here--"

"Afterwards, Herr Wilhelm!  You must first tell me what my husband--"

"The burgomaster came to the doctor on a message from the Prince.  He was
in haste, and could not wait for the singing.  It went off admirably.  If
you, with your magnificent voice, will only--"

"Pray, Meister Wilhelm?"

"No, dear lady, you ought not to refuse.  Doctor Groot says, that when a
girl in Delft, no one could support the tenor like you, and if you, Frau
von Nordwyk, and Herr Van Aken's oldest daughter--"

"But, my dear Meister!"  exclaimed the burgomaster's wife with increasing
impatience, "I'm not asking about your motets and tabulatures, but my
husband."

Wilhelm gazed at the young wife's face with a half-startled, half-
astonished look.  Then, smiling at his own awkwardness, he shook his
head, saying in a tone of good-natured repentance:

"Pray forgive me, little things seem unduly important to us when they
completely fill our own souls.  One word about your absent husband must
surely sound sweeter to your ears, than all my music.  I ought to have
thought of that sooner.  So--the burgomaster is well and has transacted a
great deal of business with the Prince.  Before he went to Dortrecht
yesterday morning, he gave me this letter and charged me to place it in
your hands with the most loving greetings."

With these words the musician gave Maria a letter.  She hastily took it
from his hand, saying:

"No offence, Herr Wilhelm, but we'll discuss your motet to-morrow, or
whenever you choose; to-day--"

"To-day your time belongs to this letter," interrupted Wilhelm.  "That is
only natural.  The messenger has performed his commission, and the music-
master will try his fortune with you another time."

As soon as the young man had gone, Maria went to her room, sat down at
the window, hurriedly opened her husband's letter and read:

     "MY DEAR AND FAITHFUL WIFE!

     "Meister Wilhelm Corneliussohn, of Leyden, will bring you this
     letter.  I am well, but it was hard for me to leave you on the
     anniversary of our wedding-clay.  The weather is very bad.  I found
     the Prince in sore affliction, but we don't give up hope, and if God
     helps us and every man does his duty, all may yet be well.  I am
     obliged to ride to Dortrecht to-day.  I have an important object to
     accomplish there.  Have patience, for several days must pass before
     my return.

     "If the messenger from the council inquires, give him the papers
     lying on the right-hand side of the writing-table under the smaller
     leaden weight.  Remember me to Barbara and the children.  If money
     is needed, ask Van Hout in my name for the rest of the sum due me;
     he knows about it.  If you feel lonely, visit his wife or Frail von
     Nordwyk; they would be glad to see you.  Buy as much meal, butter,
     cheese, and smoked meat, as is possible.  We don't know what may
     happen.  Take Barbara's advice!  Relying upon your obedience,

                              "Your faithful husband,

                                   "PETER ADRIANSSOHN VAN DER WERFF."

Maria read this letter at first hastily, then slowly, sentence by
sentence, to the end.  Disappointed, troubled, wounded, she folded it,
drew the wall-flowers from the bosom of her dress--she knew not why--and
flung them into the peat-box by the chimney-piece.  Then she opened her
chest, took out a prettily-carved box, placed it on the table, and laid
her husband's letter inside.

Long after it had found a place with other papers, Maria still stood
before the casket, gazing thoughtfully at its contents.

At last she laid her hand on the lid to close it; but hesitated and took
up a packet of letters that had lain amid several gold and silver coins,
given by godmothers and godfathers, modest trinkets, and a withered rose.

Drawing a chair up to the table, the young wife seated herself and began
to read.  She knew these letters well enough.  A noble, promising youth
had addressed them to her sister, his betrothed bride.  They were dated
from Jena, whither he had gone to complete his studies in jurisprudence.
Every word expressed the lover's ardent longing, every line was pervaded
by the passion that had filled the writer's heart.  Often the prose of
the young scholar, who as a pupil of Doctor Groot had won his bride in
Delft, rose to a lofty flight.

While reading, Maria saw in imagination Jacoba's pretty face, and the
handsome, enthusiastic countenance of her bridegroom.  She remembered
their gay wedding, her brother-in-law's impetuous friend, so lavishly
endowed with every gift of nature, who had accompanied him to Holland to
be his groomsman, and at parting had given her the rose which lay before
her in the little casket.  No voice had ever suited hers so well; she had
never heard language so poetical from any other lips, never had eyes that
sparkled like the young Thuringian noble's looked into hers.

After the wedding Georg von Dornberg returned home and the young couple
went to Haarlem.  She had heard nothing from the young foreigner, and her
sister and her husband were soon silenced forever.  Like most of the
inhabitants of Haarlem, they were put to death by the Spanish destroyers
at the capture of the noble, hapless city.  Nothing was left of her
beloved sister except a faithful memory of her, and her betrothed
bridegroom's letters, which she now held in her hand.

They expressed love, the true, lofty love, that can speak with the
tongues of angels and move mountains.  There lay her husband's letter.
Miserable scrawl!  She shrank from opening it again, as she laid the
beloved mementoes back into the box, yet her breast heaved as she thought
of Peter.  She knew too that she loved him, and that his faithful heart
belonged to her.  But she was not satisfied, she was not happy, for he
showed her only tender affection or paternal kindness, and she wished to
be loved differently.  The pupil, nay the friend of the learned Groot,
the young wife who had grown up in the society of highly educated men,
the enthusiastic patriot, felt that she was capable of being more, far
more to her husband, than he asked.  She had never expected gushing
emotions or high-strung phrases from the grave man engaged in vigorous
action, but believed he would understand all the lofty, noble sentiments
stirring in her soul, permit her to share his struggles and become the
partner of his thoughts and feelings.  The meagre letter received to-day
again taught her that her anticipations were not realized.

He had been a faithful friend of her father, now numbered with the dead.
Her brother-in-law too had attached himself, with all the enthusiasm of
youth, to the older, fully-matured champion of liberty, Van der Werff.
When he had spoken of Peter to Maria, it was always with expressions of
the warmest admiration and love.  Peter had come to Delft soon after her
father's death and the violent end of the young wedded pair, and when he
expressed his sympathy and strove to comfort her, did so in strong,
tender words, to which she could cling, as if to an anchor, in the misery
of her heart.  The valient citizen of Leyden came to Delft more and more
frequently, and was always a guest at Doctor Groot's house.  When the men
were engaged in consultation, Maria was permitted to fill their glasses
and be present at their conferences.  Words flew to and fro and often
seemed to her neither clear nor wise; but what Van der Werff said was
always sensible, and a child could understand his plain, vigorous speech.
He appeared to the young girl like an oak-tree among swaying willows.
She knew of many of his journeys, undertaken at the peril of his life,
in the service of the Prince and his native land, and awaited their
result with a throbbing heart.

More than once in those days, the thought had entered her mind that it
would be delightful to be borne through life in the strong arms of this
steadfast man.  Then he extended these arms, and she yielded to his wish
as proudly and happily as a squire summoned by the king to be made a
knight.  She now remembered this by-gone time, and every hope with which
she had accompanied him to Leyden rose vividly before her soul.

Her newly-wedded husband had promised her no spring, but a pleasant
summer and autumn by his side.  She could not help thinking of this
comparison, and what entirely different things from those she had
anticipated, the union with him had offered to this day.  Tumult,
anxiety, conflict, a perpetual alternation of hard work and excessive
fatigue, this was his life, the life he had summoned her to share at his
side, without even showing any desire to afford her a part in his cares
and labors.  Matters ought not, should not go on so.  Everything that had
seemed to her beautiful and pleasant in her parents' home--was being
destroyed here.  Music and poetry, that had elevated her soul, clever
conversation, that had developed her mind, were not to be found here.
Barbara's kind feelings could never supply the place of these lost
possessions; for her husband's love she would have resigned them all--
but what had become of this love?

With bitter emotions, she replaced the casket in the chest and obeyed the
summons to dinner, but found no one at the great table except Adrian and
the servants.  Barbara was watching Bessie.

Never had she seemed to herself so desolate, so lonely, so useless as
to-day.  What could she do here?  Barbara ruled in kitchen and cellar,
and she--she only stood in the way of her husband's fulfilling his duties
to the city and state.

Such were her thoughts, when the knocker again struck the door.  She
approached the window.  It was the doctor.  Bessie had grown worse and
she, her mother, had not even inquired for the little one.

"The children, the children!"  she murmured; her sorrowful features
brightened, and her heart grew lighter as she said to herself:

"I promised Peter to treat them as if they were my own, and I will fulfil
the duties I have undertaken."  Full of joyous excitement, she entered
the sick-room, hastily closing the door behind her.  Doctor Bontius
looked at her with a reproving glance, and Barbara said:

"Gently, gently!  Bessie is just sleeping a little."  Maria approached
the bed, but the physician waved her back, saying:

"Have you had the purple-fever?"

"No."

"Then you ought not to enter this room again.  No other help is needed
where Frau Barbara nurses."

The burgomaster's wife made no reply, and returned to the entry.  Her
heart was so heavy, so unutterably heavy.  She felt like a stranger in
her husband's house.  Some impulse urged her to go out of doors, and as
she wrapped her mantle around her and went downstairs, the smell of
leather rising from the bales piled in layers on the lower story, which
she had scarcely noticed before, seemed unendurable.  She longed for her
mother, her friends in Delft, and her quiet, cheerful home.  For the
first time she ventured to call herself unhappy and, while walking
through the streets with downcast eyes against the wind, struggled vainly
to resist some mysterious, gloomy power, that compelled her to minutely
recall everything that had resulted differently from her expectations.



CHAPTER VIII.

After the musician had left the burgomaster's house, he went to young
Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma's aunt to get his cloak, which had not been
returned to him.  He did not usually give much heed to his dress, yet he
was glad that the rain kept people in the house, for the outgrown wrap on
his shoulders was by no means pleasing in appearance.  Wilhelm must
certainly have looked anything but well-clad, for as he stood in old
Fraulein Van Hoogstraten's spacious, stately hall, the steward Belotti
received him as patronizingly as if he were a beggar.

But the Neopolitan, in whose mouth the vigorous Dutch sounded like the
rattling in the throat of a chilled singer, speedily took a different
tone when Wilhelm, in excellent Italian, quietly explained the object of
his visit.  Nay, at the sweet accents of his native tongue, the servant's
repellent demeanor melted into friendly, eager welcome.  He was beginning
to speak of his home to Wilhelm, but the musician made him curt replies
and asked him to get his cloak.

Belotti now led him courteously into a small room at the side of the
great hall, took off his cloak, and then went upstairs.  As minute after
minute passed, until at last a whole quarter of an hour elapsed, and
neither servant nor cloak appeared, the young man lost his patience,
though it was not easily disturbed, and when the door at last opened
serious peril threatened the leaden panes on which he was drumming loudly
with his fingers.  Wilhelm doubtless heard it, yet he drummed with
redoubled vehemence, to show the Italian that the time was growing long
to him.  But he hastily withdrew his fingers from the glass, for a girl's
musical voice said behind him in excellent Dutch:

"Have you finished your war-song, sir?  Belotti is bringing your cloak."

Wilhelm had turned and was gazing in silent bewilderment into the face of
the young noblewoman, who stood directly in front of him.  These features
were not unfamiliar, and yet--years do not make even a goddess younger,
and mortals increase in height and don't grow smaller; but the, lady whom
he thought he saw before him, whom he had known well in the eternal city
and never forgotten, had been older and taller than the young girl, who
so strikingly resembled her and seemed to take little pleasure in the
young man's surprised yet inquiring glance.  With a haughty gesture she
beckoned to the steward, saying in Italian:

"Give the gentleman his cloak, Belotti, and tell him I came to beg him to
pardon your forgetfulness."

With these words Henrica Van Hoogstraten turned towards the door, but
Wilhelm took two hasty strides after her, exclaiming:

"Not yet, not yet, Fraulein!  I am the one to apologize.  But if you
have ever been amazed by a resemblance--"

"Anything but looking like other people!"  cried the girl with a
repellent gesture.

"Ah, Fraulein, yet--"

"Let that pass, let that pass," interrupted Henrica in so irritated a
tone that the musician looked at her in surprise.  "One sheep looks just
like another, and among a hundred peasants twenty have the same face.
All wares sold by the dozen are cheap."

As soon as Wilhelm heard reasons given, the quiet manner peculiar to him
returned, and he answered modestly:

"But nature also forms the most beautiful things in pairs.  Think of the
eyes in the Madonna's face."

"Are you a Catholic?"

"A Calvinist, Fraulein."

"And devoted to the Prince's cause?"

"Say rather, the cause of liberty."

"That accounts for the drumming of the war-song."

"It was first a gentle gavotte, but impatience quickened the time.  I am
a musician, Fraulein."

"But probably no drummer.  The poor panes!"

"They are an instrument like any other, and in playing we seek to express
what we feel."

"Then accept my thanks for not breaking them to pieces."

"That wouldn't have been beautiful, Fraulein, and art ceases when
ugliness begins."

"Do you think the song in your cloak--it dropped on the ground and Nico
picked it up--beautiful or ugly?"

"This one or the other?"

"I mean the Beggar-song."

"It is fierce, but no more ugly than the roaring of the storm."

"It is repulsive, barbarous, revolting."

"I call it strong, overmastering in its power."

"And this other melody?"

"Spare me an answer; I composed it myself.  Can you read notes,
Fraulein?"

"A little."

"And did my attempt displease you?"

"Not at all, but I find dolorous passages in this choral, as in all the
Calvinist hymns."

"It depends upon how they are sung."

"They are certainly intended for the voices of the shopkeepers' wives and
washerwomen in your churches."

"Every hymn, if it is only sincerely felt, will lend wings to the souls
of the simple folk who sing it; and whatever ascends to Heaven from the
inmost depths of the heart, can hardly displease the dear God, to whom it
is addressed.  And then--"

"Well?"

"If these notes are worth being preserved, it may happen that a matchless
choir--"

"Will sing them to you, you think?"

"No, Fraulein; they have fulfilled their destination if they are once
nobly rendered.  I would fain not be absent, but that wish is far less
earnest than the other."

"How modest!"

"I think the best enjoyment in creating is had in anticipation."

Henrica gazed at the artist with a look of sympathy, and said with a
softer tone in her musical voice:

"I am sorry for you, Meister.  Your music pleases me; why should I deny
it?  In many passages it appeals to the heart, but how it will be spoiled
in your churches!  Your heresy destroys every art.  The works of the
great artists are a horror to you, and the noble music that has unfolded
here in the Netherlands will soon fare no better."

"I think I may venture to believe the contrary."

"Wrongly,  Meister, wrongly, for if your cause triumphs, which may the
Virgin forbid, there will soon be nothing in Holland except piles of
goods, workshops, and bare churches, from which even singing and organ-
playing will soon be banished."

"By no means, Fraulein.  Little Athens first became the home of the arts,
after she had secured her liberty in the war against the Persians."

"Athens and Leyden!" she answered scornfully.  "True, there are owls on
the tower of Pancratius.  But where shall we find the Minerva?"

While Henrica rather laughed than spoke these words, her name was called
for the third time by a shrill female voice.  She now interrupted herself
in the middle of a sentence, saying:

"I must go.  I will keep these notes."

"You will honor me by accepting them; perhaps you will allow me to bring
you others."

"Henrica!"  the voice again called from the stairs, and the young lady
answered hastily:

"Give Belotti whatever you choose, but soon, for I shan't stay here much
longer."

Wilhelm gazed after her.  She walked no less quickly and firmly through
the wide hall and up the stairs, than she had spoken, and again he was
vividly reminded of his friend in Rome.

The old Italian had also followed Henrica with his eyes.  As she vanished
at the last bend of the broad steps, he shrugged his shoulders, turned to
the musician and said, with an expression of honest sympathy:

"The young lady isn't well.  Always in a tumult; always like a loaded
pistol, and these terrible headaches too!  She was different when she
came here."

"Is she ill?"

"My mistress won't see it," replied the servant.  "But what the cameriera
and I see, we see.  Now red--now pale, no rest at night, at table she
scarcely eats a chicken-wing and a leaf of salad."

"Does the doctor share your anxiety?"

"The doctor?  Doctor Fleuriel isn't here.  He moved to Ghent when the
Spaniards came, and since then my mistress will have nobody but the
barber who bleeds her.  The doctors here are devoted to the Prince of
Orange and are all heretics.  There, she is calling again.  I'll send the
cloak to your house, and if you ever feel inclined to speak my language,
just knock here.  That calling--that everlasting calling!  The young lady
suffers from it too."

When Wilhelm entered the street, it was only raining very slightly.  The
clouds were beginning to scatter, and from a patch of blue sky the sun
was shining brightly down on Nobelstrasse.  A rainbow shimmered in
variegated hues above the roofs, but to-day the musician had no eyes for
the beautiful spectacle.  The bright light in the wet street did not
charm him.  The hot rays of the day-star were not lasting, for "they drew
rain."  All that surrounded him seemed confused and restless.  Beside a
beautiful image which he treasured in the sanctuary of his memories, only
allowing his mind to dwell upon it in his happiest hours, sought to
intrude.  His real diamond was in danger of being exchanged for a stone,
whose value he did not know.  With the old, pure harmony blended another
similar one, but in a different key.  How could he still think of
Isabella, without remembering Henrica!  At least he had not heard the
young lady sing, so his recollection of Isabella's songs remained
unclouded.  He blamed himself because, obeying an emotion of vanity, he
had promised to send new songs to the proud young girl, the friend of
Spain.  He had treated Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma rudely on account of
his opinions, but sought to approach her, who laughed at what he prized
most highly, because she was a woman, and it was sweet to hear his work
praised by beautiful lips.  "Hercules throws the club aside and sits down
at the distaff, when Omphale beckons, and the beautiful Esther and the
daughter of Herodias--" murmured Wilhelm indignantly.  He felt sorely
troubled, and longed for his quiet attic chamber beside the dove-cote.

"Something unpleasant has happened to him in Delft," thought his father.

"Why doesn't he relish his fried flounders to-day?"  asked his mother,
when he had left them after dinner.  Each felt that something oppressed
the pride and favorite of the household, but did not attempt to discover
the cause; they knew the moods to which he was sometimes subject for half
a day.

After Wilhelm had fed his doves, he went to his room, where he paced
restlessly to and fro.  Then he seized his violin and wove all the
melodies be had heard from Isabella's lips into one.  His music had
rarely sounded so soft, and then so fierce and passionate, and his
mother, who heard it in the kitchen, turned the twirling-stick faster and
faster, then thrust it into the firmly-tied dough, and rubbing her hands
on her apron, murmured:

"How it wails and exults!  If it relieves his heart, in God's name let
him do it, but cat-gut is dear and it will cost at least two strings."

Towards evening Wilhelm was obliged to go to the drill of the military
corps to which he belonged.  His company was ordered to mount guard at
the Hoogewoort Gate.  As he marched through Nobelstrasse with it, he
heard the low, clear melody of a woman's voice issuing from an open
window of the Hoogstraten mansion.  He listened, and noticing with a
shudder how much Henrica's voice--for the singer must be the young lady
--resembled Isabella's, ordered the drummer to beat the drum.

The next morning a servant came from the Hoogstraten house and gave
Wilhelm a note, in which he was briefly requested to come to Nobelstrasse
at two o'clock in the afternoon, neither earlier nor later.

He did not wish to say "yes"--he could not say "no," and went to the
house at the appointed hour.  Henrica was awaiting him in the little room
adjoining the hall.  She looked graver than the day before, while heavier
shadows under her eyes and the deep flush on her cheeks reminded Wilhelm
of Belotti's fears for her health.  After returning his greeting, she
said without circumlocution, and very rapidly:

"I must speak to you.  Sit down.  To be brief, the way you greeted me
yesterday awakened strange thoughts.  I must strongly resemble some other
woman, and you met her in Italy.  Perhaps you are reminded of
some one very near to me, of whom I have lost all trace.  Answer me
honestly, for I do not ask from idle curiosity.  Where did you meet her?"

"In Lugano.  We drove to Milan with the same vetturino, and afterwards I
found her again in Rome and saw her daily for months."

Then you know her intimately.  Do you still think the resemblance
surprising, after having seen me for the second time?"

"Very surprising."

"Then I must have a double.  Is she a native of this country?"

"She called herself an Italian, but she understood Dutch, for she has
often turned the pages of my books and followed the conversation I had
with young artists from our home.  I think she is a German lady of noble
family."

"An adventuress then.  And her name?"

"Isabella--but I think no one would be justified in calling her an
adventuress."

"Was she married?"

"There was something matronly in her majestic appearance, yet she never
spoke of a husband.  The old Italian woman, her duenna, always called
her Donna Isabella, but she possessed little more knowledge of her past
than I."

"Is that good or evil?"

"Nothing at all, Fraulein."

"And what led her to Rome?"

"She practised the art of singing, of which she was mistress; but did not
cease studying, and made great progress in Rome.  I was permitted to
instruct her in counterpoint."

"And did she appear in public as a singer?"

"Yes and no.  A distinguished foreign prelate was her patron, and his
recommendation opened every door, even the Palestrina's.  So the church
music at aristocratic weddings was entrusted to her, and she did not
refuse to sing at noble houses, but never appeared for pay.  I know that,
for she would not allow any one else to play her accompaniments.  She
liked my music, and so through her I went into many aristocratic houses."

"Was she rich?"

"No, Fraulein.  She had beautiful dresses and brilliant jewels, but was
compelled to economize.  Remittances of money came to her at times from
Florence, but the gold pieces slipped quickly through her fingers, for
though she lived plainly and eat scarcely enough for a bird, while her
delicate strength required stronger food, she was lavish to imprudence if
she saw poor artists in want, and she knew most of them, for she did not
shrink from sitting with them over their wine in my company."

"With artists and musicians?"

"Mere artists of noble sentiments.  At times she surpassed them all in
her overflowing mirth."

"At times?"

"Yes, only at times, for she bad also sorrowful, pitiably sorrowful hours
and days, but as sunshine and shower alternate in an April day, despair
and extravagant gayety ruled her nature by turns."

"A strange character.  Do you know her end?"

"No, Fraulein.  One evening she received a letter from Milan, which must
have contained bad news, and the next day vanished without any farewell."

"And you did not try to follow her?"

Wilhelm blushed, and answered in an embarrassed tone:

"I had no right to do so, and just after her departure I fell sick--
dangerously sick."

"You loved her?"

"Fraulein, I must beg you--"

"You loved her!  And did she return your affection?"

"We have known each other only since yesterday, Fraulein von
Hoogstraten."

"Pardon me!  But if you value my desire, we shall not have seen each
other for the last time, though my double is undoubtedly a different
person from the one I supposed.  Farewell till we meet again.  You hear,
that calling never ends.  You have aroused an interest in your strange
friend, and some other time must tell me more about her.  Only this one
question: Can a modest maiden talk of her with you without disgrace?"

"Certainly, if you do not shrink from speaking of a noble lady who had no
other protector than herself."

"And you, don't forget yourself!"  cried Henrica, leaving the room.

The musician walked thoughtfully towards home.  Was Isabella a relative
of this young girl?  He had told Henrica almost all he knew of her
external circumstances, and this perhaps gave the former the same right
to call her an adventuress, that many in Rome had assumed.  The word
wounded him, and Henrica's inquiry whether he loved the stranger
disturbed him, and appeared intrusive and unseemly.  Yes, he had felt an
ardent love for her; ay, he had suffered deeply because he was no more
to her than a pleasant companion and reliable friend.  It had cost him
struggles enough to conceal his feelings, and he knew, that but for the
dread of repulse and scorn, he would have yielded and revealed them to
her.  Old wounds in his heart opened afresh, as he recalled the time she
suddenly left Rome without a word of farewell.  After barely recovering
from a severe illness, he had returned home pale and dispirited, and
months elapsed ere he could again find genuine pleasure in his art.
At first, the remembrance of her contained nothing save bitterness, but
now, by quiet, persistent effort, he had succeeded, not in attaining
forgetfulness, but in being able to separate painful emotions from the
pure and exquisite joy of remembering her.  To-day the old struggle
sought to begin afresh, but he was not disposed to yield, and did not
cease to summon Isabella's image, in all its beauty, before his soul.

Henrica returned to her aunt in a deeply-agitated mood.  Was the
adventuress of whom Wilhelm had spoken, the only creature whom she loved
with all the ardor of her passionate soul?  Was Isabella her lost sister?
Many incidents were opposed to it, yet it was possible.  She tortured
herself with questions, and the less peace her aunt gave her, the more
unendurable her headache became, the more plainly she felt that the
fever, against whose relaxing power she had struggled for days, would
conquer her.



CHAPTER IX.

On the evening of the third day after Wilhelm's interview with Henrica,
his way led him through Nobelstrasse past the Hoogstraten mansion.

Ere reaching it, he saw two gentlemen, preceded by a servant carrying a
lantern, cross the causeway towards it.

Wilhelm's attention was attracted.  The servant now seized the knocker,
and the light of his lantern fell on the men's faces.  Neither was
unfamiliar to him.

The small, delicate old man, with the peaked hat and short black velvet
cloak, was Abbe Picard, a gay Parisian, who had come to Leyden ten years
before and gave French lessons in the wealthy families of the city.  He
had been Wilhelm's teacher too, but the musician's father, the Receiver-
General, would have nothing to do with the witty abbe; for he was said
to have left his beloved France on account of some questionable
transactions, and Herr Cornelius scented in him a Spanish spy.  The
other gentleman, a grey-haired, unusually stout man, of middle height,
who required a great deal of cloth for his fur-bordered cloak, was Signor
Lamperi, the representative of the great Italian mercantile house of
Bonvisi in Antwerp, who was in the habit of annually coming to Leyden on
business for a few weeks with the storks and swallows, and was a welcome
guest in every tap-room as the inexhaustible narrator of funny stories.
Before these two men entered the house, they were joined by a third,
preceded by two servants carrying lanterns.  A wide cloak enveloped his
tall figure; he too stood on the threshold of old age and was no stranger
to Wilhelm, for the Catholic Monseigneur Gloria, who often came to Leyden
from Haarlem, was a patron of the noble art of music, and when the young
man set out on his journey to Italy had provided him, spite of his
heretical faith, with valuable letters of introduction.

Wilhelm, as the door closed behind the three gentlemen, continued his
way.  Belotti had told him the day before that the young lady seemed very
ill, but since her aunt was receiving guests, Henrica was doubtless
better.

The first story in the Hoogstraten mansion was brightly lighted, but in
the second a faint, steady glow streamed into Nobelstrasse from a single
window, while she for whom the lamp burned sat beside a table, her eyes
sparkling with a feverish glitter, as she pressed her forehead against
the marble top.  Henrica was entirely alone in the wide, lofty room her
aunt had assigned her.  Behind curtains of thick faded brocade was her
bedstead, a heavy structure of enormous width.  The other articles of
furniture were large and shabby, but had once been splendid.  Every
chair, every table looked as if it had been taken from some deserted
banqueting-hall.  Nothing really necessary was lacking in the apartment,
but it was anything but home-like and cosey, and no one would ever have
supposed a young girl occupied it, had it not been for a large gilt harp
that leaned against the long, hard couch beside the fireplace.

Henrica's head was burning but, though she had wrapped a shawl around her
lower limbs, her feet were freezing on the uncarpeted stone floor.

A short time after the three gentlemen had entered her aunt's house, a
woman's figure ascended the stairs leading from the first to the second
story.  Henrica's over-excited senses perceived the light tread of the
satin shoes and the rustle of the silk train, long before the approaching
form had reached the room, and with quickened breathing, she sat erect.

A thin hand, without any preliminary knock, now opened the door and old
Fraulein Van Hoogstraten walked up to her niece.

The elderly dame had once been beautiful, now and at this hour she
presented a strange, unpleasing appearance.

The thin, bent figure was attired in a long trailing robe of heavy pink
silk.  The little head almost disappeared in the ruff, a large structure
of immense height and width.  Long chains of pearls and glittering gems
hung on the sallow skin displayed by the open neck of her dress, and on
the false, reddish-yellow curls rested a roll of light-blue velvet decked
with ostrich plumes.  A strong odor of various fragrant essences preceded
her.  She herself probably found them somewhat overpowering, for her
large glittering fan was in constant motion and fluttered violently, when
in answer to her curt: "Quick, quick," Henrica returned a resolute "no,
'ma tante.'"

The old lady, however, was not at all disconcerted by the refusal, but
merely repeated her "Quick, quick," more positively, adding as an
important reason:

"Monseigneur has come and wants to hear you."

"He does me great honor," replied the young girl, "great honor, but how
often must I repeat: I will not come."

"Is it allowable to ask why not, my fair one?"  said the old lady.

"Because I am not fit for your society," cried Henrica vehemently,
"because my head aches and my eyes burn, because I can't sing to-day,
and because--because--because--I entreat you, leave me in peace."

Old Fraulein Van Hoogstraten let her fan sink by her side, and said
coolly:

"Were you singing two hours ago--yes or no?"

"Yes."

"Then your headache can't be so very bad, and Denise will dress you."

"If she comes, I'll send her away.  When I just took the harp, I did so
to sing the pain away.  It was relieved for a few minutes, but now my
temples are throbbing with twofold violence."

"Excuses."

"Believe what you choose.  Besides--even if I felt better at this moment
than a squirrel in the woods.  I wouldn't go down to see the gentlemen.
I shall stay here.  I have given my word, and I am a Hoogstraten as well
as you."

Henrica had risen, and her eyes flashed with a gloomy fire at her
oppressor.  The old lady waved her fan faster, and her projecting chin
trembled.  Then she said curtly:

"Your word of honor!  So you won't!  You won't!"

"Certainly not," cried the young girl with undutiful positiveness.

"Everybody must have his way," replied the old lady, turning towards the
door.  "What is too wilful is too wilful.  Your father won't thank you
for this."  With these words Fraulein Van Hoogstraten raised her long
train and approached the door.  There she paused, and again glanced
enquiringly at Henrica.  The latter doubtless noticed her aunt's
hesitation, but without heeding the implied threat intentionally turned
her back.

As soon as the door closed, the young girl sank back into her chair,
pressed her forehead against the marble slab and let it remain there a
long time.  Then she rose as suddenly and hastily as if obeying some
urgent summons, raised the lid of her trunk, tossed the stockings,
bodices and shoes, that came into her way, out on the floor, and did not
rise until she had found a few sheets of writing-paper which she had
laid, before leaving her father's castle, among the rest of her property.

As she rose from her kneeling posture, she was seized with giddiness,
but still kept her feet, carried to the table first the white sheets and
a portfolio, then the large inkstand that had already stood several days
in her room, and seated herself beside it.

Leaning far back in her chair, she began to write.  The book that served
as a desk lay on her knee, the paper on the book.  Creaking and pausing,
the goosequill made large, stiff letters on the white surface.  Henrica
was not skilled in writing, but to-day it must have been unspeakably
difficult for her; her high forehead became covered with perspiration,
her mouth was distorted by pain, and whenever she had finished a few
lines, she closed her eyes or drank greedily from the water-pitcher that
stood beside her.

The large room was perfectly still, but the peace that surrounded her was
often disturbed by strange noises and tones, that rose from the dining-
hall directly under her chamber.  The clinking of glasses, shrill
tittering, loud, deep laughter, single bars of a dissolute love-song,
cheers, and then the sharp rattle of a shattered wine glass reached her
in mingled sounds.  She did not wish to hear it, but could not escape and
clenched her white teeth indignantly.  Yet meantime the pen did not
wholly stop.

She wrote in broken, or long, disconnected sentences, almost incoherently
involved.  Sometimes there were gaps, sometimes the same word was twice
or thrice repeated.  The whole resembled a letter written by a lunatic,
yet every line, every stroke of the pen, expressed the same desire
uttered with passionate longing: "Take me away from here!  Take me away
from this woman and this house!"

The epistle was addressed to her father.  She implored him to rescue her
from this place, come or send for her.  "Her uncle, Matanesse Van
Wibisma," she said, "seemed to be a sluggish messenger; he had probably
enjoyed the evenings at her aunt's, which filled her, Henrica, with
loathing.  She would go out into the world after her sister, if her
father compelled her to stay here."  Then she began a description of her
aunt and her life.  The picture of the days and nights she had now spent
for weeks with the old lady, presented in vivid characters a mixture of
great and petty troubles, external and mental humiliations.

Only too often the same drinking and carousing had gone on below as
to-day-Henrica had always been compelled to join her aunt's guests,
elderly dissolute men of French or Italian origin and easy morals.  While
describing these conventicles, the blood crimsoned her flushed cheeks
still more deeply, and the long strokes of the pen grew heavier and
heavier.  What the abbe related and her aunt laughed at, what the Italian
screamed and Monseigneur smilingly condemned with a slight shake of the
head, was so shamelessly bold that she would have been defiled by
repeating the words.  Was she a respectable girl or not?  She would
rather hunger and thirst, than be present at such a banquet again.  If
the dining-room was empty, other unprecedented demands were made upon
Henrica, for then her aunt, who could not endure to be alone a moment,
was sick and miserable, and she was obliged to nurse her.  That she
gladly and readily served the suffering, she wrote, she had sufficiently
proved by her attendance on the village children when they had the
smallpox, but if her aunt could not sleep she was compelled to watch
beside her, hold her hand, and listen until morning as she moaned, whined
and prayed, sometimes cursing herself and sometimes the treacherous
world.  She, Henrica, had come to the house strong and well, but so much
disgust and anger, such constant struggling to control herself had robbed
her of her health.

The young girl had written until midnight.  The letters became more and
more irregular and indistinct, the lines more crooked, and with the last
words: "My head, my poor head!  You will see that I am losing my senses.
I beseech you, I beseech you, my dear, stern father, take me home.
I have again heard something about Anna--" her eyes grew dim, her pen
dropped from her hand, and she fell back in the chair unconscious.

There she lay, until the last laugh and sound of rattling glass had died
away below, and her aunt's guests had left the house.

Denise, the cameriera, noticed the light in the room, entered, and after
vainly endeavoring to rouse Henrica, called her mistress.

The latter followed the maid, muttering as she ascended the stairs:

"Fallen asleep, found the time hang heavy--that's all!  She might have
been lively and laughed with us!  Stupid race!  'Men of butter,' King
Philip says.  That wild Lamperi was really impertinent to-night, and the
abbe said things--things--"

The old lady's large eyes were sparkling vinously, and her fan waved
rapidly to and fro to cool the flush on her cheeks.

She now stood opposite to Henrica, called her, shook her and sprinkled
her with perfumed water from the large shell, set in gold, which hung as
an essence bottle from her belt.  When her niece only muttered incoherent
words, she ordered the maid to bring her medicine-chest.

Denise had gone and Fraulein Van Hoogstraten now perceived Henrica's
letter, raised it close to her eyes, read page after page with increasing
indignation, and at last tossed it on the floor and tried to shake her
niece awake; but in vain.

Meantime Belotti had been informed of Henrica's serious illness and, as
he liked the young girl, sent for a physician on his own responsibility,
and instead of the family priest summoned Father Damianus.  Then he went
to the sick girl's chamber.

Even before he crossed the threshold, the old lady in the utmost
excitement, exclaimed:

"Belotti, what do you say now, Belotti?  Sickness in the house, perhaps
contagious sickness, perhaps the plague."

"It seems to be only a fever," replied the Italian soothingly.  "Come,
Denise, we will carry the young lady to the bed.

"The doctor will soon be here."

"The doctor?"  cried the old lady, striking her fan on the marble top of
the table.  "Who permitted you, Belotti--"

"We are Christians," interrupted the servant, not without dignity.

"Very well, very well," she cried.  "Do what you please, call whom you
choose, but Henrica can't stay here.  Contagion in the house, the plague,
a black tablet."

"Excellenza is disturbing herself unnecessarily.  Let us first hear what
the doctor says."

"I won't hear him; I can't bear the plague and the small-pox.  Go down at
once, Belotti, and have the sedan-chair prepared.  The old chevalier's
room in the rear building is empty."

"But, Excellenza, it's gloomy, and so damp that the north wall is covered
with mould."

"Then let it be aired and cleaned.  What does this delay mean?  You have
only to obey.  Do you understand?"

"The chevalier's room isn't fit for my mistress's sick niece," replied
Belotti civilly, but resolutely.

"Isn't it?  And you know exactly?"  asked his mistress scornfully.
"Go down, Denise, and order the sedan-chair to be brought up.  Have you
anything more to say, Belotti?"

"Yes, Padrona," replied the Italian, in a trembling voice.  "I beg your
excellenza to dismiss me."

"Dismiss you from my service?"

"With your excellenza's permission, yes--from your service."

The old woman started, clasped her hands tightly upon her fan, and said:

"You are irritable, Belotti."

"No, Padrona, but I am old and dread the misfortune of being ill in this
house."

Fraulein Van Hoogstraten shrugged her shoulders and turning to her maid,
cried:

"The sedan-chair, Denise.  You are dismissed, Belotti."



CHAPTER X.

The night, on which sorrow and sickness had entered the Hoogstraten
mansion, was followed by a beautiful morning.  Holland again became
pleasant to the storks, that with a loud, joyous clatter flew clown into
the meadows on which the sun was shining.  It was one of those days the
end of April often bestows on men, as if to show them that they render
her too little, her successor too much honor.  April can boast that in
her house is born the spring, whose vigor is only strengthened and beauty
developed by her blooming heir.

It was Sunday, and whoever on such a day, while the bells are ringing,
wanders in Holland over sunny paths, through flowery meadows where
countless cattle, woolly cheep, and idle horses are grazing, meeting
peasants in neat garments, peasant women with shining gold ornaments
under snow-white lace caps, citizens in gay attire and children released
from school, can easily fancy that even nature wears a holiday garb and
glitters in brighter green, more brilliant blue, and more varied
ornaments of flowers than on work-days.

A joyous Sunday mood doubtless filled the minds of the burghers, who
to-day were out of doors on foot, in large over-crowded wooden wagons,
or gaily-painted boats on the Rhine, to enjoy the leisure hours of the
day of rest, eat country bread, yellow butter, and fresh cheese, or drink
milk and cool beer, with their wives and children.

The organist, Wilhelm, had long since finished playing in the church, but
did not wander out into the fields with companions of his own age, for he
liked to use such days for longer excursions, in which walking was out of
the question.

They bore him on the wings of the wind over his native plains, through
the mountains and valleys of Germany, across the Alps to Italy.  A spot
propitious for such forgetfulness of the present and his daily
surroundings, in favor of the past and a distant land, was ready.  His
brothers, Ulrich and Johannes, also musicians, but who recognized
Wilhelm's superior talent without envy and helped him develop it, had
arranged for him, during his stay in Italy, a prettily-furnished room in
the narrow side of the pointed roof of the house, from which a broad door
led to a little balcony.  Here stood a wooden bench on which Wilhelm
liked to sit, watching the flight of his doves, gazing dreamily into the
distance or, when inclined to artistic creation, listening to the
melodies that echoed in his soul.

This highest part of the house afforded a beautiful prospect; the view
was almost as extensive as the one from the top of the citadel, the old
Roman tower situated in the midst of Leyden.  Like a spider in its web,
Wilhelm's native city lay in the midst of countless streams and canals
that intersected the meadows.  The red brick masonry of the city wall,
with its towers and bastions, washed by a dark strip of water, encircled
the pretty place as a diadem surrounds a young girl's head; and like a
chaplet of loosely-bound thorns, forts and redoubts extended in wider,
frequently broken circles around the walls.  The citizens' herds of
cattle grazed between the defensive fortifications and the city wall,
while beside and beyond them appeared villages and hamlets.

On this clear April day, looking towards the north, Haarlem lake was
visible, and on the west, beyond the leafy coronals of the Hague woods,
must be the downs which nature had reared for the protection of the
country against the assaults of the waves.  Their long chain of hillocks
offered a firmer and more unconquerable resistance to the pressure of the
sea, than the earthworks and redoubts of Alfen, Leyderdorp and
Valkenburg, the three forts situated close to the banks of the Rhine,
presented to hostile armies.  The Rhine!  Wilhelm gazed down at the
shallow, sluggish river, and compared it to a king deposed from his
throne, who has lost power and splendor and now kindly endeavors to
dispense benefits in little circles with the property that remains.  The
musician was familiar with the noble, undivided German Rhine; and often
followed it in imagination towards the south but more often still his
dreams conveyed him with a mighty leap to Lake Lugano, the pearl of the
Western Alps, and when he thought of it and the Mediterranean, beheld
rising before his mental vision emerald green, azure blue, and golden
light; and in such hours all his thoughts were transformed within his
breast into harmonies and exquisite music.

And his journey from Lugano to Milan!  The conveyance that bore him to
Leonardo's city was plain and overcrowded, but in it he had found
Isabella.  And Rome, Rome, eternal, never-to-be-forgotten Rome, where so
long as we dwell there, we grow out of ourselves, increase in strength
and intellectual power, and which makes us wretched with longing when it
lies behind us.

By the Tiber Wilhelm had first thoroughly learned what art, his glorious
art was; here, near Isabella, a new world had opened to him, but a sharp
frost had passed over the blossoms of his heart that had unfolded in
Rome, and he knew they were blighted and could bear no fruit--yet to-day
he succeeded in recalling her in her youthful beauty, and instead of the
lost love, thinking of the kind friend Isabella and dreaming of a sky
blue as turquoise, of slender columns and bubbling fountains, olive
groves and marble statues, cool churches and gleaming villas, sparkling
eyes and fiery wine, magnificent choirs and Isabella's singing.

The doves that cooed and clucked, flew away and returned to the cote
beside him, could now do as they chose, their guardian neither saw nor
heard them.

Allertssohn, the fencing-master, ascended the ladder to his watch-tower,
but he did not notice him until he stood on the balcony by his side,
greeting him with his deep voice.

"Where have we been, Herr Wilhelm?"  asked the old man.  "In this cloth-
weaving Leyden?  No!  Probably with the goddess of music on Olympus, if
she has her abode there."

"Rightly guessed," replied Wilhelm, pushing the hair back from his
forehead with both hands." I have been visiting her, and she sends you a
friendly greeting."

"Then offer one from me in return," replied the other, "but she usually
belongs to the least familiar of my acquaintances.  My throat is better
suited to drinking than singing.  Will you allow me?"

The fencing-master raised the jug of beer which Wilhelm's mother filled
freshly every day and placed in her darling's room, and took a long pull.
Then wiping his moustache, he said:

That did me good, and I needed it.  The men wanted to go out pleasuring
and omit their drill, but we forced them to go through it, Junker von
Warmond, Duivenvoorde and I.  Who knows how soon it may be necessary to
show what we can do.  Roland, my fore man, such imprudence is like a
cudgel, against which one can do nothing with Florentine rapiers, clever
tierce and quarto.  My wheat is destroyed by the hail."

"Then let it he, and see if the barley and clover don't do better,"
replied Wilhelm gaily, tossing vetches and grains of wheat to a large
dove that had alighted on the parapet of his tower.

"It eats, and what use is it?"  cried Allertssohn, looking at the dove.
"Herr von Warmond, a young man after God's own heart, has just brought me
two falcons; do you want to see bow I tame them?"

"No, Captain, I have enough to do with my music and my doves."

"That is your affair.  The long-necked one yonder is a queer-looking
fellow."

"And of what country is he probably a native?  There he goes to join the
others.  Watch him a little while and then answer me."

"Ask King Soloman that; he was on intimate terms with birds."

"Only watch him, you'll find out presently."

"The fellow has a stiff neck, and holds his head unusually high."

"And his beak?"

"Curved, almost like a hawk's!  Zounds, why does the creature strut about
with its toes so far apart?  Stop, bandit!  He'll peck that little dove
to death.  As true as I live, the saucy rascal must be a Spaniard!"

"Right, it is a Spanish dove.  It flew to me, but I can't endure it and
drive it away; for I keep only a few pairs of the same breed and try to
get the best birds possible.  Whoever raises many different kinds in the
same cote, will accomplish nothing."

"That gives food for thought.  But I believe you haven't chosen the
handsomest species."

"No, sir.  What you see are a cross between the carrier and tumblers, the
Antwerp breed of carrier pigeons.  Bluish, reddish, spotted birds.
I don't care for the colors, but they must have small bodies and large
wings, with broad quills on their flag-feathers, and above all ample
muscular strength.  The one yonder stop, I'll catch him--is one of my
best flyers.  Try to lift his pinions."

"Heaven knows the little thing has marrow in its bones!  How the tiny
wing pinches; the falcons are not much stronger."

"It's a carrier-dove too, that finds its way alone."

"Why do you keep no white tumblers?  I should think they could be watched
farthest in their flight."

"Because doves fare like men.  Whoever shines very brightly and is seen
from a distance, is set upon by opponents and envious people, and birds
of prey pounce upon the white doves first.  I tell you, Captain, whoever
has eyes in his head, can learn in a dove-cote how things come to pass
among Adam and Eve's posterity on earth."

"There is quarrelling and kissing up here just as there is in Leyden."

"Yes, exactly the same, Captain.  If I mate an old dove with one much
younger, it rarely turns out well.  When the male dove is in love, he
understands how to pay his fair one as many attentions, as the most
elegant gallant shows the mistress of his heart.  And do you know what
the kissing means?  The suitor feeds his darling, that is, seeks to win
her affection by beautiful gifts.  Then the wedding comes, and they build
a nest.  If there are young birds, they feed them together in perfect
harmony.  The aristocratic doves brood badly, and we put their eggs under
birds of more ordinary breed."

"Those are the noble ladies, who have nurses for their infants."

"Unmated doves often make mischief among the mated ones."

"Take warning, young man, and beware of being a bachelor.  I'll say
nothing against the girls who remain unmarried, for I have found among
them many sweet, helpful souls."

"So have I, but unfortunately some bad ones too, as well as here in the
dove-tote.  On the whole my wards lead happy married lives, but if it
comes to a separation--"

"Which of the two is to blame?"

"Nine times out of ten the little wife."

"Roland, my fore man, exactly as it is among human beings," cried the
fencing-master, clapping his hands.

"What do you mean by your Roland, Herr Allerts?  You promised me a short
time ago--but who is coming up the ladder?"

"I hear your mother."

"She is bringing me a visitor.  I know that voice and yet.  Wait.  It's
old Fraulein Van Hoogstraten's steward."

"From Nobelstrasse?  Let me go, Wilhelm, for this Glipper crew--"

"Wait a little while, there is only room for one on the ladder," said the
musician, holding out his hand to Belotti to guide him from the last rung
into his room.

"Spaniards and the allies of Spain," muttered the fencing-master, opened
the door, and called while descending the ladder: "I'll wait down below
till the air is pure again."

The steward's handsome face, usually smoothly shaven with the most
extreme care, was to-day covered with a stubbly beard, and the old man
looked sad and worn, as he began to tell Wilhelm what had occurred in his
mistress's house since the evening of the day before.

"Years may make a hot-tempered person weaker, but not calmer," said the
Italian, continuing his story.  "I can't look on and see the poor angel,
for she isn't far from the Virgin's throne, treated like a sick dog that
is flung out into the court-yard, so I got my discharge."

"That does you honor, but was rather out of place just now.  And has the
young lady really been carried to the damp room?"

"No, sir.  Father Damianus came and made the old excellenza understand
what the holy Virgin expected of a Christian, and when the padrona still
tried to carry out her will, the holy man spoke to her in words so harsh
and stern that she yielded.  The signorina is now lying in bed with
burning cheeks, raving in delirium."

"And who is attending the patient?"

"I came to you about the physician, my dear sir, for Doctor de Bout, who
instantly obeyed my summons, was treated so badly by the old excellenza,
that he turned his back upon her and told me, at the door of the house,
he wouldn't come again."

Wilhelm shook his head, and the Italian continued, "There are other
doctors in Leyden, but Father Damianus says de Bont or Bontius, as they
call him, is the most skilful and learned of them all, and as the old
excellenza herself had an attack of illness about noon, and certainly
won't leave her bed very speedily, the way is open, and Father Damianus
says he'll go to Doctor Bontius himself if necessary.  But as you are a
native of the city and acquainted with the signorina, I wanted to spare
him the rebuff he would probably meet from the foe of our holy Church.
The poor man has enough to suffer from good-for-nothing boys and
scoffers, when he goes through the city with the sacrament."

"You know people are strictly forbidden to disturb him in the exercise of
his calling."

"Yet he can't show himself in the street without being jeered.  We two
cannot change the world, sir.  So long as the Church had the upper hand,
she burned and quartered you, now you have the power here, our priests
are persecuted and scorned."

"Against the law and the orders of the magistrates."

"You can't control the people, and Father Damianus is a lamb, who bears
everything patiently, as good a Christian as many saints before whom we
burn candles.  Do you know the doctor?"

"A little, by sight."

"Oh, then go to him, sir, for the young lady's sake," cried the old man
earnestly.  "It is in your power to save a human life, a beautiful young
life."

The steward's eyes glittered with tears.  As Wilhelm laid his hand on his
arm, saying kindly: "I will try," the fencing-master called: "Your
council is lasting too long for me.  I'll come another time."

"No, Meister, come up a minute,  This gentleman is here on account of a
poor sick girl.  The poor, helpless creature is now lying without any
care, for her aunt, old Fraulein Van Hoogstraten, has driven Doctor de
Bont from her bed because he is a Calvinist."

"From the sick girl's bed?"

"It's abominable enough, but the old lady is now ill herself."

"Bravo, bravo!" cried the fencing-master, clapping his hands.  "If the
devil himself isn't afraid of her and wants to fetch her, I'll pay for
his post-horses.  But the girl, the sick girl?"

"Herr Belotti begs me to persuade de Bont to visit her again.  Are you on
friendly terms with the doctor?"

"I was, Wilhelm, I was; but--last Friday we had some sharp words about
the new morions, and now the learned demi-god demands an apology from me,
but to sound a retreat isn't written here--"

"Oh, my dear sir," cried Belotti, with touching earnestness.  "The poor
child is lying helpless in a raging fever.  If Heaven has blessed you
with children--"

"Be calm, old man, be calm," replied the fencing master, stroking
Belotti's grey hair kindly.  "My children are nothing to you, but we'll do
what we can for the young girl.  Farewell till we meet again, gentlemen.
Roland, my fore man, what shall we live to see!  Hemp is still cheap in
Holland, and yet such a monster has lived amongst us to be as old as a
raven."

With these words he went down the ladder.  On reaching the street, he
pondered over the words in which he should apologize to Doctor Bontius,
with a face as sour as if he had wormwood in his mouth; but his eyes and
bearded lips smiled.

His learned friend made the apology easy for him, and when Belotti came
home, he found the doctor by the sick girl's bed.



CHAPTER XI.

Frau Elizabeth von Nordwyk and Frau Van Bout had each asked the
burgomaster's wife to go into the country with them to enjoy the
beautiful spring day, but in spite of Barbara's persuasions, Maria
could not be induced to accept their invitation.

A week had elapsed since her husband's departure, a week whose days had
run their course from morning to evening as slowly as the brackish water
in one of the canals, intersecting the meadows of Holland, flowed towards
the river.

Sleep loves the couches of youth, and had again found hers, but with the
rising of the sun the dissatisfaction, anxiety and secret grief, that
slumber had kindly interrupted, once more returned.  She felt that it was
not right, and her father would have blamed her if he had seen her thus.

There are women who are ashamed of rosy cheeks, unrestrained joy in life,
to whom the emotion of sorrow affords a mournful pleasure.  To this class
Maria certainly did not belong.  She would fain have been happy, and left
untried no means of regaining the lost joy of her heart.  Honestly
striving to do her duty, she returned to little Bessie; but the child was
rapidly recovering and called for Barbara, Adrian or Trautchen, as soon
as she was left alone with her.

She tried to read, but the few books she had brought from Delft were all
familiar, and her thoughts, ere becoming fixed on the old volumes,
pursued their own course.

Wilhelm brought her the new motet, and she endeavored to sing it; but
music demands whole hearts from those who desire to enjoy her gifts, and
therefore melody and song refused comfort as well as pleasure to her,
whose mind was engrossed by wholly different things.  If she helped
Adrian in his work, her patience failed much sooner than usual.  On the
first market-day, she went out with Trautchen to obey her husband's
directions and make purchases and, while shopping at the various places
where different wares were offered--here fish, yonder meat or vegetables,
amid the motley crowd, hailed on every side by cries of: "Here, Frau
Burgermeisterin!  I  have  what  you want, Frau Burgermeisterin!" forgot
the sorrow that oppressed her.

With newly-animated self-reliance, she examined flour, pulse and dried
fish, making it a point of honor to bargain carefully; Barbara should see
that she knew how to buy.  The crowd was very great everywhere, for the
city magistrates had issued a proclamation bidding every household, in
view of the threatened danger, to supply itself abundantly with
provisions on all the market-days; but the purchasers made way for
the burgomaster's pretty young wife, and this too pleased her.

She returned home with a bright face, happy in having done her best, and
instantly went into the kitchen to see Barbara.

Peter's good-natured sister had plainly perceived how sorely her young
sister-in-law's heart was troubled, and therefore gladly saw her go out
to make her purchases.  Choosing and bargaining would surely dispel her
sorrows and bring other thoughts.  True, the cautious house-keeper, who
expected everything good from Maria except the capacity of showing
herself an able, clever mistress of the house, had charged Trautchen to
warn her mistress against being cheated.  But when in market the demand
is two or three times greater than the supply, prices rise, and so it
happened that when Maria told the widow how much she had paid for this or
that article, Barbara's "My child, that's perfectly unheard--of!"  or,
"It's enough to drive us to beggary," followed each other in quick
succession.

These exclamations, which under the circumstances were usually entirely
unjustifiable, vexed Maria; but she wished to be at peace with her
sister-in-law, and though it was hard to bear injustice, it was contrary
to her nature and would have caused her pain to express her indignation
in violent words.  So she merely said with a little excitement:

"Please ask what other ladies are paying, and then Scold, if you think it
right."

With these words she left the kitchen.

"My child, I'm not scolding at all," Barbara called after her, but Maria
would not hear, hastily ascended the stairs and locked herself into her
room.  Her joyousness had again vanished.

On Sunday she went to church.  After dinner she filled a canvas-bag with
provisions for Adrian, who was going on a boating excursion with several
friends, and then sat at the window in her chamber.

Stately men, among them many members of the council, passed by with their
gaily-dressed wives and children; young girls with flowers in their
bosoms moved arm in arm, by twos and threes, along the footpath beside
the canal, to dance in the village outside the Zyl-Gate.  They walked
quietly forward with eyes discreetly downcast, but many a cheek flushed
and many an ill-suppressed smile hovered around rosy lips, when the
youths, who followed the girls moving so decorously along, as gaily and
swiftly as sea-gulls flutter around a ship, uttered teasing jests, or
whispered into their ears words that no third party need hear.

All who were going towards the Zyl-Gate seemed gay and careless, every
face showed what joyous hours in the open air and sunny meadows were
anticipated.  The object that attracted them appeared beautiful and
desirable to Maria also, but what should she do among the happy, how
could she be alone amid strangers with her troubled heart?  The shadows
of the houses seemed especially dark to-day, the air of the city heavier
than usual, as if the spring had come to every human being, great and
small, old and young, except herself.

The buildings and the trees that bordered the Achtergracht were already
casting longer shadows, and the golden mists hovering over the roofs
began to be mingled with a faint rosy light, when Maria heard a horseman
trotting up the street.  She drew herself up.  rigidly and her heart
throbbed violently.  She would not receive Peter any differently from
usual, she must be frank to him and show him how she felt, and that
matters could not go on so, nay she was already trying to find fitting
words for what she had to say to him.  Just at that moment, the horse
stopped before the door.  She went to the window; saw her husband swing
himself from the saddle and look joyously up to the window of her room
and, though she made no sign of greeting, her heart drew her towards him.
Every thought, every fancy was forgotten, and with winged steps she flew
down the corridor to the stairs.  Meantime he had entered, and she called
his name.  "Maria, child, are you there!"  he shouted, rushed up the
steps as nimbly as a youth, met her on one of the upper stairs and drew
her with overflowing tenderness to his heart.

"At last, at last, I have you again!" he cried joyously, pressing his
lips to her eyes and her fragrant hair.  She had clasped her hands
closely around his neck, but he released himself, held them in his, and
asked: "Are Barbara and Adrian at home?"

She shook her head.

The burgomaster laughed, stooped, lifted her up like a child, and carried
her into his room.  As a beautiful tree beside a burning house is seized
by the neighboring flames, although immediately protected with cold
water, Maria, in spite of her long-cherished resolve to receive him
coolly, was overwhelmed by the warmth of her husband's feelings.  She
cordially rejoiced in having him once more, and willingly believed him,
as he told her in loving words how painfully he had felt their
separation, how sorely he had missed her, and how distinctly he, who
usually lacked the ability to remember an absent person, had had her
image before his eyes.

How warmly, with what convincing tones he understood how to give
expression to his love to-day!  She was still a happy wife, and showed
him that she was without reserve.

Barbara and Adrian returned home, and there was now much to tell at the
evening meal.  Peter had had many a strange experience on the journey,
and gained fresh hope, the boy had distinguished himself at school, and
Bessie's sickness might already be called a danger happily overcome.
Barbara was radiant with joy, for all seemed well between Maria and her
brother.

The beautiful April night passed pleasantly away.  When Maria was
braiding black velvet into her hair the next morning, she was full of
grateful emotion, for she had found courage to tell Peter that she
desired to have a larger share in his anxieties than before, and received
a kind assent.  A worthier, richer life, she hoped, would now begin.  He
was to tell her this very day what he had discussed and accomplished with
the Prince and at Dortrecht, for hitherto no word of all this had escaped
his lips.

Barbara, who was moving about in the kitchen and just on the point of
catching three chickens to kill them, let them live a little longer, and
even tossed half a handful of barley into their coop, as she heard her
sister-in-law come singing down-stairs.  The broken bars of Wilhelm's
last madrigal sounded as sweet and full of promise as the first notes of
the nightingale, which the gardener hears at the end of a long winter.
It was spring again in the house, and her pleasant round face, in its
large cap, looked as bright and unclouded as a sunflower amid its green
leaves, as she called to Maria:

"This is a good day for you, child; we'll melt down the butter and salt
the hams."

The words sounded as joyous as if she had offered her an invitation to
Paradise, and Maria willingly helped in the work, which began at once.
When the widow moved her hands, tongues could not remain silent, and the
conversation that had probably taken place between Peter and his wife
excited her curiosity not a little.

She turned the conversation upon him cleverly enough, and, as if
accidentally, asked the question:

"Did he apologize for his departure on the anniversary of your wedding-
day?"

"I know the reason; he could not stay."

"Of course not, of course not; but whoever is green the goats eat.  We
mustn't allow the men to go too far.  Give, but take also.  An injustice
endured is a florin, for which in marriage a calf can be bought."

"I will not bargain with Peter, and if anything weighed heavily on my
mind, I have willingly forgotten it after so long a separation."

"Wet hay may destroy a barn, and any one to whom the hare runs can catch
him!  People ought not to keep their troubles to themselves, but tell
them; that's why they have tongues, and yesterday was the right time to
make a clean breast of everything that grieves you."

"He was in such a joyous mood when he came home, and then: Why do you
think I feel unhappy?"

"Unhappy.  Who said so?"

Maria blushed, but the widow seized the knife and opened the hen-coop.

Trautchen was helping the two ladies in the kitchen, but she was
frequently interrupted in her work, for this morning the knocker on the
door had no rest, and those who entered must have brought the burgomaster
no pleasant news, for his deep, angry voice was often audible.

His longest discussion was with Herr Van Hout, who had come to him, not
only to ask questions and tell what occurred, but also to make
complaints.

It was no ordinary spectacle, when these two men, who, towering far above
their fellow-citizens, not only in stature, but moral earnestness and
enthusiastic devotion to the cause of liberty, declared their opinions
and expressed their wrath.  The inflammable, restless Van Hout took the
first part, the slow, steadfast Van der Werff, with mighty
impressiveness, the second.

A bad disposition ruled among the fathers of the city, the rich men of
old families, the great weavers and brewers, for to them property, life
and consideration were more than religion and liberty, while the poor
men, who laboriously supported their families by the sweat of their
brows, were joyously determined to sacrifice money and blood for the good
cause.

There was obstacle after obstacle to conquer.  The scaffolds and barns,
frames and all other wood-work that could serve to conceal a man, were to
be levelled to the earth, as all the country-houses and other buildings
near the city had formerly been.  Much newly-erected woodwork was already
removed, but the rich longest resisted having the axe put to theirs.  New
earthworks had been commenced at the important fort of Valkenburg; but
part of the land, where the workmen were obliged to dig, belonged to a
brewer, who demanded a large sum in compensation for his damaged meadow.
When the siege was raised in March, paper-money was restored, round
pieces of pasteboard, one side of which bore the Netherland lion, with
the inscription, "Haec libertatis ergo," while the other had the coat-of-
arms of the city and the motto "God guard Leyden."  These were intended
to be exchanged for coin or provisions, but rich speculators had obtained
possession of many pieces, and were trying to raise their value.  Demands
of every kind pressed upon him, and amid all these claims the burgomaster
was also compelled to think of his own affairs, for all intercourse with
the outside world would soon be cut off, and it was necessary to settle
many things with the representative of his business in Hamburg.  Great
losses were threatening, but he left no means untried to secure for his
family what might yet be saved.

He rarely saw wife or children; yet thought he was fulfilling the promise
Maria had obtained from him the evening after his return, when he briefly
answered her questions or voluntarily gave her such sentences as "There
was warm work at the town-hall to-day!"  or, "It is more difficult to
circulate the paper-money than we expected!"  He did not feel the kindly
necessity of having a confidante and expressing his feelings, and his
first wife had been perfectly contented and happy, if he sat silently
beside her during quiet hours, called her his treasure, petted the
children, or even praised her cracknels and Sunday roast.  Business and
public affairs had been his concern, the kitchen and nursery hers.  What
they had shared, was the consciousness of the love one felt for the
other, their children, the distinction, honors and possessions of the
household.

Maria asked more and he was ready to grant it, but when in the evening
she pressed the wearied man with questions he was accustomed to hear only
from the lips of men, he put her off for the answers till less busy
times, or fell asleep in the midst of her inquiries.

She saw how many burdens oppressed him, how unweariedly he toiled--but
why did he not move a portion of the load to other shoulders?

Once, during the beautiful spring weather, he went out with her into the
country.  She seized upon the opportunity to represent that it was his
duty to himself and her to gain more rest.

He listened patiently, and when she had finished her entreaty and
warnings, took her hand in his, saying:

"You have met Herr Marnix von St. Aldegonde and know what the cause of
liberty owes him.  Do you know his motto?"

She nodded and answered softly: "Repos ailleurs."

"Where else can we rest," he repeated firmly.

A slight shiver ran through her limbs, and as she withdrew her hands, she
could not help thinking: "Where else;-so not here.  Rest and happiness
have no home here."  She did not utter the words, but could not drive
them from her mind.



CHAPTER XII.

During these May days the Hoogstraten mansion was the quietest of all the
houses in quiet Nobelstrasse.  By the orders of Doctor Bontius and the
sick lady's attorney, a mixture of straw and sand lay on the cause-way
before it.  The windows were closely curtained, and a piece of felt hung
between the door and the knocker.  The door was ajar, but a servant sat
close behind it to answer those who sought admission.

On a morning early in May the musician, Wilhelm Corneliussohn, and Janus
Dousa turned the corner of Nobelstrasse.  Both men were engaged in eager
conversation, but as they approached the straw and sand, their voices
became lower and then ceased entirely.

"The carpet we spread under the feet of the conqueror Death," said the
nobleman.  "I hope he will lower the torch only once here and do honor to
age, little worthy of respect as it may be.  Don't stay too long in the
infected house, Herr Wilhelm."

The musician gently opened the door.  The servant silently greeted him
and turned towards the stairs to call Belotti; for the "player-man" had
already enquired more than once for the steward.

Wilhelm entered the little room where he usually waited, and for the
first time found another visitor there, but in a somewhat peculiar
attitude.  Father Damianus sat bolt upright in an arm-chair, with his
head drooping on one side, sound asleep.  The face of the priest, a man
approaching his fortieth year, was as pink and white as a child's, and
framed by a thin light-brown beard.  A narrow circle of thin light hair
surrounded his large tonsure, and a heavy dark rosary of olive-wood beads
hung from the sleeper's hands.  A gentle, kindly smile hovered around his
half-parted lips.

"This mild saint in long woman's robes doesn't look as if he could grasp
anything strongly" thought Wilhelm, "yet his hands are callous and have
toiled hard."

When Belotti entered the room and saw the sleeping priest, he carefully
pushed a pillow under his head and beckoned to Wilhelm to follow him into
the entry.

"We won't grudge him a little rest," said the Italian.  "He has sat
beside the padrona's bed from yesterday noon until two hours ago.
Usually she doesn't know what is going on around her, but as soon as
consciousness returns she wants religious consolation.  She still refuses
to take the sacrament for the dying, for she won't admit that she is
approaching her end.  Yet often, when the disease attacks her more
sharply, she asks in mortal terror if everything is ready, for she is
afraid to die without extreme unction."

"And how is Fraulein Henrica?"

"A very little better."

The priest had now come out of the little room.  Belotti reverently
kissed his hand and Wilhelm bowed respectfully.

"I had fallen asleep," said Damianus simply and naturally, but in a voice
less deep and powerful than would have been expected from his broad
breast and tall figure.  "I will read the mass, visit my sick, and then
return.  Have you thought better of it, Belotti?"

"It won't do sir, the Virgin knows it won't do.  My dismissal was given
for the first of May, this is the eighth, and yet I'm still here--I
haven't left the house because I'm a Christian!  Now the ladies have a
good physician, Sister Gonzaga is doing her duty, you yourself will earn
by your nursing a place among the martyrs in Paradise, so, without making
myself guilty of a sin, I can tie up my bundle."

"You will not go, Belotti," said the priest firmly.  "If you still insist
on having your own way, at least do not call yourself a Christian."

"You will stay," cried Wilhelm, "if only for the sake of the young lady,
to whom you still feel kindly."  Belotti shook his head, and answered
quietly:

"You can add nothing, young sir, to what the holy Father represented to
me yesterday.  But my mind is made up, I shall go; yet as I value the
holy Father's good opinion and yours, I beg you to do me the favor to
listen to me.  I have passed my sixty-second birthday, and an old horse
or an old servant stands a long time in the market-place before any one
will buy them.  There might probably be a place in Brussels for a
Catholic steward, who understands his business, but this old heart longs
to return to Naples--ardently, ardently, unutterably.  You have seen our
blue sea and our sky, young sir, and I yearn for them, but even more for
other, smaller things.  It now seems a joy that I can speak in my native
language to you, Herr Wilhelm, and you, holy Father.  But there is a
country where every one uses the same tongue that I do.  There is a
little village at the foot of Vesuvius--merciful Heavens!  Many a person
would be afraid to stay there, even half an hour, when the mountain
quakes, the ashes fall in showers, and the glowing lava pours out in a
stream.  The houses there are by no means so well built, and the window-
panes are not so clean as in this country.  I almost fear that there are
few glass windows in Resina, but the children don't freeze, any more than
they do here.  What would a Leyden house-keeper say to our village
streets?  Poles with vines, boughs of fig-trees, and all sorts of under-
clothing on the roofs, at the windows, and the crooked, sloping
balconies; orange and lemon-trees with golden fruit grow in the little
gardens, which have neither straight paths nor symmetrical beds.
Everything there grows together topsy-turvy.  The boys, who in rags that
no tailor has darned or mended, clamber over the white vineyard walls,
the little girls, whose mothers comb their hair before the doors of the
houses, are not so pink and white, nor so nicely washed as the Holland
children, but I should like to see again the brown-skinned, black-haired
little ones with the dark eyes, and end my days amid all the clatter in
the warm air, among my nephews, nieces and blood-relations."

As he uttered these words, the old man's features had flushed and his
black eyes sparkled with a fire, that but a short time before the
northern air and his long years of servitude seemed to have extinguished.
Since neither the priest nor the musician answered immediately, he
continued more quietly:

"Monseigneur Gloria is going to Italy now, and I can accompany him to
Rome as courier.  From thence I can easily reach Naples, and live there
on the interest of my savings free from care.  My future master will
leave on the 15th, and on the 12th I must be in Antwerp, where I am to
meet him."

The eyes of the priest and the musician met.  Wilhelm lacked courage to
seek to withhold the steward from carrying out his plan, but Damianus
summoned up his resolution, laid his hand on the old man's shoulder, and
said:

"If you wait here a few weeks more, Belotti, you will find the true rest,
the peace of a good conscience.  The crown of life is promised to those,
who are faithful, unto death.  When these sad days are over, it will be
easy to smooth the way to your home.  We shall meet again towards noon,
Belotti.  If my assistance is necessary, send for me; old Ambrosius knows
where to find me.  May God's blessing rest upon you, and if you will
accept it from me, on you also, Meister Wilhelm."

After the priest had left the house, Belotti said, sighing:

"He'll yet force me to yield to his will.  He abuses his power over
souls.  I'm no saint, and what he asks of me--"

"Is right," said Wilhelm firmly.

"But you don't know what it is to throw away, like a pair of worn-out
shoes, the dearest hope of a long, sad life.  And for whom, I ask you,
for whom?  Do you know my padrona?  Oh! sir, I have experienced in this
house things, which your youth does not dream could be possible.  The
young lady has wounded you.  Am I right or wrong?"

"You are mistaken, Belotti."

"Really?  I am glad for your sake, you are a modest artist, but the
signorina bears the Hoogstraten name, and that is saying everything.  Do
you know her father?"

"No, Belotti."

"That's a race-a race!  Have you never heard anything of the story of our
signorina's older sister?"

"Has Henrica an older sister?"

"Yes, sir, and when I think of her.--Imagine the signorina, exactly like
our signorina, only taller, more stately, more beautiful."

"Isabella!"  exclaimed the musician.  A conjecture, which had been
aroused since his conversation with Henrica, appeared to be confirmed;
he seized the steward's arm so suddenly and unexpectedly, that the latter
drew back, and continued eagerly: "What do you know of her?  I beseech
you, Belotti, tell me all."

The servant looked up the stairs, then shaking his head, answered:

"You are probably mistaken.  There has never been an Isabella in this
house to my knowledge, but I will gladly place myself at your service.
Come again after sunset, but you must expect to hear no pleasant tale."

Twilight had scarcely yielded to darkness, when the musician again
entered the Hoogstraten mansion.  The little room was empty, but Belotti
did not keep him waiting long.

The old man placed a dainty little waiter, bearing a jug of wine and a
goblet, on the table beside the lamp and, after informing Wilhelm of the
invalids' condition, courteously offered him a chair.  When the musician
asked him why he had not brought a cup for himself too, he replied:

"I drink nothing but water, but allow me to take the liberty to sit down.
The servant who attends to the chambers has left the house, and I've done
nothing but go up and down stairs all day.  It tries my old legs, and we
can expect no quiet night."

A single candle lighted the little room.  Belotti, who had leaned far
back in his chair, opened his clenched hands and slowly began:

"I spoke this morning of the Hoogstraten race.  Children of the same
parents, it is true, are often very unlike, but in your little country,
which speaks its own language and has many things peculiar to itself--you
won't deny that--every old family has its special traits.  I know, for I
have been in many a noble household in Holland.  Every race has its own
peculiar blood and ways.  Even where--by your leave--there is a crack in
the brain, it rarely happens to only one member of a family.  My mistress
has more of her French mother's nature.  But I intended to speak only of
the signorina, and am wandering too far from my subject."

"No, Belotti, certainly not, we have plenty of time, and I shall be glad
to listen to you, but first you must answer one question."

"Why, sir, how your cheeks glow!  Did you meet the signorina in Italy?"

"Perhaps so, Belotti."

"Why, of course, of course!  Whoever has once seen her, doesn't easily
forget.  What is it you wish to know?"

"First, the lady's name."

"Anna."

"And not Isabella also?"

"No, sir, she was never called anything but Anna."

"And when did she leave Holland?"

"Wait; it was--four years ago last Easter."

"Has she dark, brown or fair hair?"

"I've said already that she looked just like Fraulein Henrica.  But what
lady might not have fair, brown or dark hair?  I think we shall reach the
goal sooner, if you will let me ask a question now.  Had the lady you
mean a large semi-circular scar just under the hair, exactly in the
middle of her forehead?"

"Enough," cried Wilhelm, rising hastily.  "She fell on one of her
father's weapons when a child."

"On the contrary, sir, the handle of Junker Van Hoogstraten's weapon fell
on the forehead of his own daughter.  How horrified you look!  Oh!
I have witnessed worse things in this house.  Now it is your turn
again: In what city of my home did you meet the signorina?"

"In Rome, alone and under an assumed name.  Isabella--a Holland girl!
Pray go on with your story, Belotti; I won't interrupt you again.  What
had the child done, that her own father--"

"He is the wildest of all the wild Hoogstratens.  Perhaps you may have
seen men like him in Italy--in this country you might seek long for such
a hurricane.  You must not think him an evil-disposed man, but a word
that goes against the grain, a look askance will rob him of his senses,
and things are done which he repents as soon as they are over.  The
signorina received her scar in the same way.  She was a mere child, and
of course ought not to have touched fire-arms, nevertheless she did
whenever she could, and once a pistol went off and the bullet struck one
of the best hunting-dogs.  Her father heard the report and, when he saw
the animal lying on the ground and the pistol at the little girl's feet,
he seized it and with the sharp-edged handle struck--"

"A child, his own daughter!"  exclaimed Wilhelm indignantly.

"People are differently constituted," Belotti continued.  "Some, the
class to which you probably belong, cautiously consider before they speak
or act; the second reflect a long time and, when they are ready, pour
forth a great many words, but rarely act at all; while the third, and at
their head the Hoogstraten family, heap deeds on deeds, and if they ever
think, it is only after the act is accomplished.  If they then find that
they have committed an injustice, pride comes in and forbids them to
confess, atone for, or recall it.  So one misfortune follows another;
but the gentlemen pay no heed and find forgetfulness in drinking and
gambling, carousing and hunting.  There are plenty of debts, but all
anxiety concerning them is left to the creditors, and boys who receive no
inheritance are supplied with a place at court or in the army; for the
girls, thank God, there is no lack of convents, if they confess our holy
religion, and both have expectations from rich aunts and other blood
relations, who die without children."

"You paint in vivid colors."

But they are true, and they all suit the Junker; though to be sure he
need not keep his property for sons, since his wife gave him none.  He
met her at court in Brussels, and she came from Parma."

"Did you know her?"

"She died before I came to the padrona's house.  The two young ladies
grew up without a mother.  You have heard that their father would even
attack them, yet he doubtless loved them and would never resolve to place
them in a convent.  True, he often felt--at least he freely admitted it
in conversations with her excellenza--that there were more suitable
places for young girls than his castle, where matters went badly enough,
and so he at last sent his oldest daughter to us.  My mistress usually
could not endure the society of young girls, but Fraulein Anna was one of
her nearest relatives, and I know she invited her of her own accord.  I
can still see in memory the signorina at sixteen; a sweeter creature,
Herr Wilhelm, my eyes have never beheld before or since, and yet she
never remained the same.  I have seen her as soft as Flemish velvet, but
at other times she could rage like a November storm in your country.  She
was always beautiful as a rose and, as her mother's old cameriera--she
was a native of Lugano--had brought her up, and the priest who taught her
came from Pisa and was acknowledged to be an excellent musician, she
spoke my language like a child of Tuscany and was perfectly familiar with
music.  You have doubtless heard her singing, her harp and lute-playing,
but you should know that all the ladies of the Hoogstraten family, with
the exception of my mistress, possess a special talent for your art.  In
summer we lived in the beautiful country-house, that was torn down before
the seige by your friends--with little justice I think.  Many a stately
guest rode out to visit us.  We kept open house, and where there is a
good table and a beautiful young lady like our signorina, the gallants
are not far off.  Among them was a very aristocratic gentleman of middle
age, the Marquis d'Avennes, whom her excellenza had expressly invited.
We had never received any prince with so much attention; but this was a
matter of course, for his mother was a relative of her excellenza.  You
must know that my mistress; on her mother's side, is descended from a
family in Normandy.  The Marquis d'Avennes was certainly an elegant
cavalier, but rather dainty than manly.  He was soon madly in love with
Fraulein Anna, and asked in due form for her hand.  Her excellenza
favored the match, and the father said simply: 'You will take him!'
He would listen to no opposition.  Other gentlemen don't consult their
daughters when a suitable lover appears.  So the signorina became the
marquis's betrothed wife, but the padrona said firmly that her niece was
too young to be married.  She induced Junker Van Hoogstraten, whom she
held as firmly as a farrier holds a filly, to defer the wedding until
Easter.  The outfit was to be provided during the winter.  The condition
that he must wait six months was imposed on the marquis, and he went back
to France with the ring on his finger.  His betrothed bride did not shed
a single tear for him, and as soon as he had gone, flung the engagement
ring into the jewel-cup on her dressing-table, before the eyes of the
camariera, from whom I heard the story.  She did not venture to oppose
her father, but did not hesitate to express her opinion of the marquis to
her excellenza, and her aunt, though she had favored the Frenchman's
suit, allowed it.  Yet there had often been fierce quarrels between the
old and young lady, and if the padrona had had reason to clip the wild
falcon's wings and teach her what is fitting for noble ladies, the
signorina would have been justified in complaining of many an exaction,
by which the padrona had spoiled her pleasure in life.  I am sorry to
destroy the confidence of your youth, but whoever grows grey, with his
eyes open, will meet persons who rejoice, nay to whom it is a necessity
to injure others.  Yet it is a consolation, that no one is wicked simply
for the sake of wickedness, and I have often found--how shall I express
it?--that the worst impulses arise from the perversion, or even the
excess of the noblest virtues, whose reverse or caricature they become.
I have seen base envy proceed from beautiful ambition, contemptible
avarice from honest emulation, fierce hate from tender love.  My
mistress, when she was young, knew how to love truly and faithfully, but
she was shamefully deceived, and now rancor, not against an individual,
but against life, has taken possession of her, and her noble loyalty has
become tenacious adherence to bad wishes.  How this has happened you will
learn, if you will continue to listen.

"When winter came, I was ordered to go to Brussel, and establish the new
household in splendid style.  The ladies were to follow me.  It was four
years ago.  The Duke of Alva then lived as viceroy in Brussels, and this
nobleman held my mistress in high esteem, nay had even twice paid us the
honor of a visit.  His aristocratic officers also frequented our house,
among them Don Luis d'Avila, a nobleman of ancient family, who was one of
the duke's favorites.  Like the Marquis d'Avennes, he was no longer in
his early youth, but was  a  man of totally different  stamp; tall,
strong as if hammered from steel, a soldier of invincible strength and
skill, a most dreaded seeker of quarrels, but a man whose glowing eyes
and wonderful gift of song must have exerted a mysterious, bewitching
power over women.  Dozens of adventures, in which he was said to have
taken part, were told in the servant's hall and half of them had some
foundation of truth, as I afterwards learned by experience.  If you
suppose this heart-breaker bore any resemblance to the gay, curly-haired
minions of fortune, on whom young ladies lavish their love, you are
mistaken; Don Luis was a grave man with close-cut hair, who never wore
anything but dark clothes, and even carried a sword, whose hilt, instead
of gold and silver, consisted of blackened metal.  He resembled death
much more than blooming love.  Perhaps this very thing made him
irresistible, since we are all born for death and no suitor is so sure of
victory as he.

"The padrona had not been favorably disposed to him at first, but this
mood soon changed, and at New Year's he too was admitted to small evening
receptions of intimate friends.  He came whenever we invited him, but had
no word, no look, scarcely a greeting for our young lady.  Only when it
pleased the signorina to sing, he went near her and sharply criticised
anything in her execution that chanced to displease him.  He often sang
himself too, and then usually chose the same songs as Fraulein Anna, as
if to surpass her by his superior skill.

"So things went on till the time of the carnival.  On Shrove-Tuesday the
padrona gave a large entertainment, and when I led the servants and stood
behind the signorina and Don Luis, to whom her excellenza had long been
in the habit of assigning the seat beside her niece, I noticed that their
hands met under the table and rested in each other's clasp a long time.
My heart was so full of anxiety, that it was very hard for me to keep the
attention so necessary on that evening--and when the next morning, the
padrona summoned me to settle the accounts, I thought it my duty to
modestly remark that Don Luis d'Avila's wooing did not seem disagreeable
to the young lady in spite of her betrothal.  She let me speak, but when
I ventured to repeat what people said of the Spaniard, angrily started up
and showed me to the door.  A faithful servant often hears and sees more
than his employers suspect, and I had the confidence of the padrona's
foster-sister, who is now dead; but at that time Susanna knew everything
that concerned her mistress.

"There was a bad prospect for the expectant bridegroom in France, for
whenever the padrona spoke of him, it was with a laugh we knew, and which
boded no good; but she still wrote frequently to the marquis and his
mother, and many a letter from Rochebrun reached our house.  To be sure,
her excellenza also gave Don Luis more than one secret audience.

"During Lent a messenger from Fraulein Van Hoogstraten's father arrived
with the news, that at Easter he, himself, would come to Brussels from
Haarlem, and the marquis from Castle Rochebrun, and on Maundy Thursday
I received orders to dress the private chapel with flowers, engage
posthorses, and do several other things.  On Good Friday, the day of our
Lord's crucifixion--I wish I were telling lies--early in the morning of
Good Friday the signorina was dressed in all her bridal finery.  Don Luis
appeared clad in black, proud and gloomy as usual, and by candle-light,
before sunrise on a cold, damp morning--it seems to me as if it were only
yesterday--the Castilian was married to our young mistress.  The padrona,
a Spanish officer and I were the witnesses.  At seven o'clock the
carriage drove up, and after it was packed Don Luis handed me a little
box to put in the vehicle.  It was heavy and I knew it well; the padrona
was in the habit of keeping her gold coin in it.  At Easter the whole
city learned that Don Luis d'Avila had eloped with the beautiful Anna Van
Hoogstraten, after killing her betrothed bridegroom in a duel on Maundy-
Thursday at Hals on his way to Brussels--scarcely twenty-four hours
before the wedding.

"I shall never forget how Junker Van Hoogstraten raged.  The padrona
refused to see him and pretended to be ill, but she was as well as only
she could be during these last few years."

"And do you know how to interpret your mistress's mysterious conduct?"
asked Wilhelm.

"Yes sir; her reasons are perfectly evident.  But I must hasten, it is
growing late; besides I cannot tell you minute particulars, for I was
myself a child when the event happened, though Susanna has told me many
things that would probably be worth relating.  Her excellenza's mother
was a Chevreaux, and my mistress spent the best years of her life with
her mother's sister, who during the winter lived in Paris.  It was in the
reign of the late King Francis, and you doubtless know that this great
Prince was a very gallant gentleman, who was said to have broken as many
hearts as lances.  My padrona, who in those days was very beautiful,
belonged to the ladies of his court, and King Francis especially
distinguished her.  But the young lady knew how to guard her honor, for
she had early found in the gallant Marquis d'Avennes a knight to whom she
was loyally devoted, and for whom she had wept bitterly many a night.
Like master, like servant, and though the marquis had worn the young
lady's color for years and rendered her every service of an obedient
knight, his eyes and heart often wandered to the right and left.  Yet he
always returned to his liege-lady, and when the sixth year came, the
Chevreaux's urged the marquis to put an end to his trifling and think of
marriage.  My mistress began to make her preparations, and Susanna was a
witness of her consultation with the marquis about whether she would keep
or sell the Holland estates and castles.  But the wedding did not take
place, for the marquis was obliged to go to Italy with the army and her
excellenza lived in perpetual anxiety about him; at that time the French
fared ill in my country, and he often left her whole months without news.
At last he returned and found in the Chevreaux's house his betrothed
wife's little cousin, who had grown up into a charming young lady.

"You can imagine the rest.  The rose-bud Hortense now pleased the marquis
far better than the Holland flower of five and twenty.  The Chevreaux's
were aristocratic but deeply in debt, and the suitor, while fighting in
Italy, had inherited the whole of his uncle's great estate, so they did
not suffer him to sue in vain.  My mistress returned to Holland.  Her
father challenged the marquis, but no blood was spilled in the duel, and
Monsieur d'Avennes led a happy wedded life with Hortense de Chevreaux.
Her son was the signorina's hapless lover.  Do you understand, Herr
Wilhelm?  She had nursed and fostered the old grudge for half a life
time; for its sake she had sacrificed her own kinswoman to Don Luis, but
in return she repaid by the death of the only son of a hated mother, the
sorrow she had suffered for years on her account."

The musician had clenched the handkerchief, with which he had wiped the
perspiration from his brow, closely in his hand, and asked:

"What more have you heard of Anna?"

"Very little," replied Belotti.  "Her father has torn her from his heart,
and calls Henrica his only daughter.  Happiness abandons those who are
burdened by a father's curse, and she certainly did not find it.  Don
Luis is said to have been degraded to the rank of ensign on account of
some wild escapades, and who knows what has become of the poor, beautiful
signorina.  The padrona sometimes sent money to her in Italy, by way of
Florence, through Signor Lamperi--but I have heard nothing of her during
the last few months."

"One more question, Belotti," said Wilhelm, "how could Henrica's father
trust her to your mistress, after what had befallen his older daughter in
her house?"

"Money--miserable money!  To keep his castle and not lose his
inheritance, he resigned his child.  Yes, sir, the signorina was
bargained for, like a horse, and her father didn't sell her cheap.
Drink some wine, sir, you look ill."

"It is nothing serious," said Wilhelm, "but the fresh air will probably
do me good.  Thanks for your story, Belotti."



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Art ceases when ugliness begins
Debts, but all anxiety concerning them is left to the creditors
Despair and extravagant gayety ruled her nature by turns
Repos ailleurs
The best enjoyment in creating is had in anticipation
To whom the emotion of sorrow affords a mournful pleasure





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