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Title: The Burgomaster's Wife — Complete
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.

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THE BURGOMASTER’S WIFE, Complete

By Georg Ebers


Translated from the German by Mary J. Safford



BARONESS SOPHIE VON BRANDENSTEIN, nee EBERS.

My reason for dedicating a book, and particularly this book, to you, the
only sister of my dead father, needs no word of explanation between us.
From early childhood you have been a dear and faithful friend to me,
and certainly have not forgotten how industriously I labored, while your
guest seventeen years ago, in arranging the material which constitutes
the foundation of the “Burgomaster’s Wife.” You then took a friendly
interest in many a note of facts, that had seemed to me extraordinary,
admirable, or amusing, and when the claims of an arduous profession
prevented me from pursuing my favorite occupation of studying the
history of Holland, my mother’s home, in the old way, never wearied of
reminding me of the fallow material, that had previously awakened your
sympathy.

At last I have been permitted to give the matter so long laid aside its
just dues. A beautiful portion of Holland’s glorious history affords the
espalier, around which the tendrils of my narrative entwine. You have
watched them grow, and therefore will view them kindly and indulgently.

In love and friendship,

               Ever the same,

                       GEORG EBERS

Leipsic, Oct. 30th, 1881.



THE BURGOMASTER’S WIFE.



CHAPTER I.

In the year 1574 A. D. spring made its joyous entry into the Netherlands
at an unusually early date.

The sky was blue, gnats sported in the sunshine, white butterflies
alighted on the newly-opened yellow flowers, and beside one of the
numerous ditches intersecting the wide plain stood a stork, snapping at
a fine frog; the poor fellow soon writhed in its enemy’s red beak. One
gulp--the merry jumper vanished, and its murderer, flapping its wings,
soared high into the air. On flew the bird over gardens filled with
blossoming fruit-trees, trimly laid-out flower-beds, and gaily-painted
arbors, across the frowning circlet of walls and towers that girdled
the city, over narrow houses with high, pointed gables, and neat streets
bordered with elm, poplar, linden and willow-trees, decked with the
first green leaves of spring. At last it alighted on a lofty gable-roof,
on whose ridge was its firmly-fastened nest. After generously giving up
its prey to the little wife brooding over the eggs, it stood on one
leg and gazed thoughtfully down upon the city, whose shining red tiles
gleamed spick and span from the green velvet carpet of the meadows. The
bird had known beautiful Leyden, the gem of Holland, for many a year,
and was familiar with all the branches of the Rhine that divided the
stately city into numerous islands, and over which arched as many stone
bridges as there are days in five months of the year; but surely many
changes had occurred here since the stork’s last departure for the
south.

Where were the citizens’ gay summer-houses and orchards, where the
wooden frames on which the weavers used to stretch their dark and
colored cloths?

Whatever plant or work of human hands had risen, outside the city
walls and towers to the height of a man’s breast, thus interrupting the
uniformity of the plain, had vanished from the earth, and beyond, on
the bird’s best hunting-grounds, brownish spots sown with black circles
appeared among the green of the meadows.

Late in October of the preceding year, just after the storks left the
country, a Spanish army had encamped here, and a few hours before the
return of the winged wanderers in the first opening days of spring, the
besiegers retired without having accomplished their purpose.

Barren spots amid the luxuriant growth of vegetation marked the places
where they had pitched their tents, the black cinders of the burnt coals
their camp-fires.

The sorely-threatened inhabitants of the rescued city, with thankful
hearts, uttered sighs of relief. The industrious, volatile populace
had speedily forgotten the sufferings endured, for early spring is so
beautiful, and never does a rescued life seem so delicious as when we
are surrounded by the joys of spring.

A new and happier time appeared to have dawned, not only for Nature but
for human beings. The troops quartered in the besieged city, which had
the day before committed many an annoyance, had been dismissed with song
and music. The carpenter’s axe flashed in the spring sunlight before the
red walls, towers and gates, and cut sharply into the beams from
which new scaffolds and frames were to be erected; noble cattle grazed
peacefully undisturbed around the city, whose desolated gardens were
being dug, sowed and planted afresh. In the streets and houses a
thousand hands, which but a short time before had guided spears and
arquebuses on the walls and towers, were busy at useful work, and old
people sat quietly before their doors to let the warm spring sun shine
on their backs.

Few discontented faces were to be seen in Leyden on this eighteenth of
April. True, there was no lack of impatient ones, and whoever wanted
to seek them need only go to the principal school, where noon was
approaching and many boys gazed far more eagerly through the open
windows of the school-room, than at the teacher’s lips.

But in that part of the spacious hall where the older lads received
instruction, no restlessness prevailed. True, the spring sun shone on
their books and exercises too, the spring called them into the open
air, but even more powerful than its alluring voice seemed the influence
exerted on their young minds by what they were now hearing.

Forty sparkling eyes were turned towards the bearded man, who addressed
them in his deep voice. Even wild Jan Mulder had dropped the knife with
which he had begun to cut on his desk a well-executed figure of a ham,
and was listening attentively.

The noon bell now rang from the neighboring church, and soon after was
heard from the tower of the town-hall, the little boys noisily left the
room, but--strange-=the patience of the older ones still held out; they
were surely hearing things that did not exactly belong to their lessons.

The man who stood before them was no teacher in the school, but the
city clerk, Van Hout, who, to-day filled the place of his sick friend,
Verstroot, master of arts and preacher. During the ringing of the bells
he had closed the book, and now said:

“‘Suspendo lectionem.’ Jan Mulder, how would you translate my
‘suspendere’?”

“Hang,” replied the boy.

“Hang!” laughed Van Hout. “You might be hung from a hook perhaps, but
where should we hang a lesson? Adrian Van der Werff.”

The lad called rose quickly, saying:

“‘Suspendere lectionen’ means to break off the lesson.”

“Very well; and if we wanted to hang up Jan Mulder, what should we say?”

“Patibulare--ad patibulum!” cried the scholars. Van Hout, who had just
been smiling, grew very grave. Drawing a long breath, he said:

“Patibulo is a bad Latin word, and your fathers, who formerly sat here,
understood its meaning far less thoroughly than you. Now, every child in
the Netherlands knows it, Alva has impressed it on our minds. More than
eighteen thousand worthy citizens have come to the gallows through his
‘ad patibulum.’”

With these words he pulled his short black doublet through his girdle,
advanced nearer the first desk, and bending his muscular body forward,
said with constantly increasing emotion:

“‘This shall be enough for to-day, boys. It will do no great harm, if
you afterwards forget the names earned here. But always remember
one thing: your country first of all. Leonidas and his three hundred
Spartans did not die in vain, so long as there are men ready to follow
their example. Your turn will come too. It is not my business to boast,
but truth is truth. We Hollanders have furnished fifty times three
hundred men for the freedom of our native soil. In such stormy times
there are steadfast men; even boys have shown themselves great. Ulrich
yonder, at your head, can bear his nickname of Lowing with honor.
‘Hither Persians--hither Greeks!’ was said in ancient times, but we cry:
‘Hither Netherlands, hither Spain!’ And indeed, the proud Darius never
ravaged Greece as King Philip has devastated Holland. Ay, my lads,
many flowers bloom in the breasts of men. Among them is hatred of the
poisonous hemlock. Spain has sowed it in our gardens. I feel it
growing within me, and you too feel and ought to feel it. But don’t
misunderstand me! ‘Hither Spain--hither Netherlands!’ is the cry, and
not: ‘Hither Catholics and hither Protestants.’ Every faith may be
right in the Lord’s eyes, if only the man strives earnestly to walk in
Christ’s ways. At the throne of Heaven, it will not be asked: Are you
Papist, Calvinist, or Lutheran? but: What were your intentions and acts?
Respect every man’s belief; but despise him who makes common cause with
the tyrant against the liberty of our native land. Now pray silently,
then you may go home.”

The scholars rose; Van Hout wiped the perspiration from his high
forehead, and while the boys were collecting books, pencils, and pens,
said slowly, as if apologizing to himself for the words already uttered:

“What I have told you perhaps does not belong to the school-room; but,
my lads, this battle is still far from being ended, and though you must
occupy the school-benches for a while, you are the future soldiers.
Lowing, remain behind, I have something to say to you.”

He slowly turned his back to the boys, who rushed out of doors. In a
corner of the yard of St. Peter’s church, which was behind the building
and entered by few of the passers-by, they stood still, and from amid
the wild confusion of exclamations arose a sort of consultation,
to which the organ-notes echoing from the church formed a strange
accompaniment.

They were trying to decide upon the game to be played in the afternoon.

It was a matter of course, after what Van Hout had said, that there
should be a battle; it had not even been proposed by anybody, but the
discussion that now arose proceeded from the supposition.

It was soon decided that patriots and Spaniards, not Greeks and
Persians, were to appear in the lists against each other; but when the
burgomaster’s son, Adrian Van der Werff, a lad of fourteen, proposed to
form the two parties, and in the imperious way peculiar to him attempted
to make Paul Van Swieten and Claus Dirkson Spaniards, he encountered
violent opposition, and the troublesome circumstance was discovered that
no one was willing to represent a foreign soldier.

Each boy wanted to make somebody else a Castilian, and fight himself
under the banner of the Netherlands. But friends and foes are necessary
for a war, and Holland’s heroic courage required Spaniards to prove
it. The youngsters grew excited, the cheeks of the disputants began
to flush, here and there clenched fists were raised, and everything
indicated that a horrible civil war would precede the battle to be given
the foes of the country.

In truth, these lively boys were ill-suited to play the part of King
Philip’s gloomy, stiff-necked soldiers. Amid the many fair heads, few
lads were seen with brown locks, and only one with black hair and dark
eyes. This was Adam Baersdorp, whose father, like Van der Werff’s,
was one of the leaders of the citizens. When he too refused to act a
Spaniard, one of the boys exclaimed:

“You won’t? Yet my father says your father is half a Glipper,--[The
name given in Holland to those who sympathized with Spain]--and a whole
Papist to boot.”

At these words young Baersdorp threw his books on the ground, and was
rushing with upraised fist upon his enemy--but Adrian Van der Werff
hastily interposed, crying:

“For shame, Cornelius.--I’ll stop the mouth of anybody who utters such
an insult again. Catholics are Christians, as well as we. You heard it
from Van Hout, and my father says so too. Will you be a Spaniard, Adam,
yes or no?”

“No!” cried the latter firmly. “And if anybody else--”

“You can quarrel afterward,” said Adrian Van der Werff, interrupting his
excited companions, then good-naturedly picking up the books Baersdorp
had flung down, and handing them to him, continued resolutely, “I’ll be
a Spaniard to-day. Who else?”

“I, I, I too, for aught I care,” shouted several of the scholars, and
the forming of the two parties would have been carried on in the best
order to the end, if the boys’ attention had not been diverted by a
fresh incident.

A young gentleman, followed by a black servant, came up the street
directly towards them. He too was a Netherlander, but had little in
common with the school-boys except his age, a red and white complexion,
fair hair, and clear blue eyes, eyes that looked arrogantly out upon
the world. Every step showed that he considered himself an important
personage, and the gaily-costumed negro, who carried a few recently
purchased articles behind him, imitated this bearing in a most comical
way. The negro’s head was held still farther back than the young
noble’s, whose stiff Spanish ruff prevented him from moving his handsome
head as freely as other mortals.

“That ape, Wibisma,” said one of the school-boys, pointing to the
approaching nobleman.

All eyes turned towards him, scornfully scanning his little velvet hat
decked with a long plume, the quilted red satin garment padded in the
breast and sleeves, the huge puffs of his short brown breeches, and the
brilliant scarlet silk stockings that closely fitted his well-formed
limbs.

“The ape,” repeated Paul Van Swieten. “He wants to be a cardinal, that’s
why he wears so much red.”

“And looks as Spanish as if he came straight from Madrid,” cried another
lad, while a third added:

“The Wibismas certainly were not to be found here, so long as bread was
short with us.”

The Wibismas are all Glippers.

“And he struts about on week-days, dressed in velvet and silk,” said
Adrian. “Just look at the black boy the red-legged stork has brought
with him to Leyden.”

The scholars burst into a loud laugh, and as soon as the youth had
reached them, Paul Van Swieten snarled in a nasal tone:

“How did deserting suit you? How are affairs in Spain, master Glipper?”

The young noble raised his head still higher, the negro did the same,
and both walked quietly on, even when Adrian shouted in his ear:

“Little Glipper, tell me, for how many pieces of silver did Judas sell
the Saviour?”

Young Matanesse Van Wibisma made an indignant gesture, but controlled
himself until Jan Mulder stepped in front of him, holding his little
cloth cap, into which he had thrust a hen’s feather, under his chin like
a beggar, and saying humbly:

“Give me a little shrove-money for our tom-cat, Sir Grandee; he stole a
leg of veal from the butcher yesterday.”

“Out of my way!” said the youth in a haughty, resolute tone, trying to
push Mulder aside with the back of his hand.

“Hands off, Glipper!” cried the school-boys, raising their clenched
hands threateningly.

“Then let me alone,” replied Wibisma, “I want no quarrel, least of all
with you.”

“Why not with us?” asked Adrian Van der Werff, irritated by the
supercilious, arrogant tone of the last words.

The youth shrugged his shoulders, but Adrian cried: “Because you like
your Spanish costume better than our doublets of Leyden cloth.”

Here he paused, for Jan Mulder stole behind Wibisma, struck his hat down
on his head with a book, and while Nicolas Van Wibisma was trying to
free his eyes from the covering that shaded them, exclaimed:

“There, Sir Grandee, now the little hat sits firm! You can keep it on,
even before the king.”

The negro could not go to his master’s assistance, for his arms were
filled with parcels, but the young noble did not call him, knowing
how cowardly his black servant was, and feeling strong enough to help
himself.

A costly clasp, which he had just received as a gift on his seventeenth
birthday, confined the plume in his hat; but without a thought he flung
it aside, stretched out his arms as if for a wrestling-match, and with
florid cheeks, asked in a loud, resolute tone: “Who did that?”

Jan Mulder had hastily retreated among his companions, and instead of
coming forward and giving his name, called:

“Look for the hat-fuller, Glipper! We’ll play blindman’s buff.”

The youth, frantic with rage, repeated his question. When, instead of
any other answer, the boys entered into Jan Mulder’s jest, shouting
gaily: “Yes, play blind-man’s buff! Look for the hat-fuller. Come,
little Glipper, begin.” Nicolas could contain himself no longer, but
shouted furiously to the laughing throng:

“Cowardly rabble!”

Scarcely had the words been uttered, when Paul Van Swieten raised his
grammar, bound in hog-skin, and hurled it at Wibisma’s breast.

Other books followed, amid loud outcries, striking him on the legs and
shoulders. Bewildered, he shielded his face with his hands and retreated
to the church-yard wall, where he stood still and prepared to rush upon
his foes.

The stiff, fashionable high Spanish ruff no longer confined his handsome
head with its floating golden locks. Freely and boldly he looked his
enemies in the face, stretched the young limbs hardened by many a
knightly exercise, and with a true Netherland oath sprang upon Adrian
Van der Werff, who stood nearest.

After a short struggle, the burgomaster’s son, inferior in strength and
age to his opponent, lay extended on the ground; but the other lads, who
had not ceased shouting, “Glipper, Glipper,” seized the young noble, who
was kneeling on his vanquished foe.

Nicolas struggled bravely, but his enemies’ superior power was too
great.

Frantic with fury, wild with rage and shame, he snatched the dagger from
his belt.

The boys now raised a frightful yell, and two of them rushed upon
Nicolas to wrest the weapon from him. This was quickly accomplished; the
dagger flew on the pavement, but Van Swieten sprang back with a low cry,
for the sharp blade had struck his arm, and the bright blood streamed on
the ground.

For several minutes the shouts of the lads and the piteous cries of the
black page drowned the beautiful melody of the organ, pouring from
the windows of the church. Suddenly the music ceased; instead of the
intricate harmony the slowly-dying note of a single pipe was heard, and
a young man rushed out of the door of the sacristy of the House of God.
He quickly perceived the cause of the wild uproar that had interrupted
his practising, and a smile flitted over the handsome face which, framed
by a closely-cut beard, had just looked startled enough, though the
reproving words and pushes with which he separated the enraged lads were
earnest enough, and by no means failed to produce their effect.

The boys knew the musician, Wilhelm Corneliussohn, and offered no
resistance, for they liked him, and his dozen years of seniority gave
him an undisputed authority among them. Not a hand was again raised
against Wibisma, but the boys, all shouting and talking together,
crowded around the organist to accuse Nicolas and defend themselves.

Paul Van Swieten’s wound was slight. He stood outside the circle of
his companions, supporting the injured left arm with his right hand. He
frequently blew upon the burning spot in his flesh, over which a bit
of cloth was wrapped, but curiosity concerning the result of this
entertaining brawl was stronger than the wish to have it bandaged and
healed.

As the peace-maker’s work was already drawing to a close, the wounded
lad, pointing with his sound hand in the direction of the school,
suddenly called warningly:

“There comes Herr von Nordwyk. Let the Glipper go, or there will be
trouble.”

Paul Van Swieten again clasped his wounded arm with his right hand and
ran swiftly around the church. Several other boys followed, but the
new-comer of whom they were afraid, a man scarcely thirty years old, had
legs of considerable length, and knew how to use them bravely.

“Stop, boys!” he shouted in an echoing voice of command. “Stop! What has
Happened here?”

Every one in Leyden respected the learned and brave young nobleman, so
all the lads who had not instantly obeyed Van Swieten’s warning shout,
stood still until Herr von Nordwyk reached them.

A strange, eager light sparkled in this man’s clever eyes, and a subtle
smile hovered around his moustached lip, as he called to the musician:

“What has happened here, Meister Wilhelm? Didn’t the clamor of Minerva’s
apprentices harmonize with your organ-playing, or did--but by all the
colors of Iris, that’s surely Nico Matanesse, young Wibisma! And how he
looks! Brawling in the shadow of the church--and you here too, Adrian,
and you, Meister Wilhelm?”

“I separated them,” replied the other quietly, smoothing his rumpled
cuffs.

“With perfect calmness, but impressively--like your organ-music,” said
the commander, laughing.

“Who began the fight? You, young sir? or the others?”

Nicolas, in his excitement, shame, and indignation, could find no
coherent words, but Adrian came forward saying: “We wrestled together.
Don’t be too much vexed with us, Herr Janus.”

Nicolas cast a friendly glance at his foe.

Herr von Nordwyk, Jan Van der Does, or as a learned man he preferred
to call himself, Janus Dousa, was by no means satisfied with this
information, but exclaimed:

“Patience, patience! You look suspicious enough, Meister Adrian; come
here and tell me, ‘atrekeos,’ according to the truth, what has been
going on.”

The boy obeyed the command and told his story honestly, without
concealing or palliating anything that had occurred.

“Hm,” said Dousa, after the lad had finished his report. “A difficult
case. No one is to be acquitted. Your cause would be the better one, had
it not been for the knife, my fine young nobleman, but you, Adrian,
and you, you chubby-cheeked rascals, who--There comes the rector--If
he catches you, you’ll certainly see nothing but four walls the rest of
this beautiful day. I should be sorry for that.”

The chubby-cheeked rascals, and Adrian also, understood this hint, and
without stopping to take leave scampered around the corner of the church
like a flock of doves pursued by a hawk.

As soon as they had vanished, the commander approached young Nicolas,
saying:

“Vexatious business! What was right to them is just to you. Go to your
home. Are you visiting your aunt?”

“Yes, my lord,” replied the young noble. “Is your father in the city
too?” Nicolas was silent.

“He doesn’t wish to be seen?”

Nicolas nodded assent, and Dousa continued:

“Leyden stands open to every Netherlander, even to you. To be sure, if
you go about like King Philip’s page, and show contempt to your equals,
you must endure the consequences yourself. There lies the dagger, my
young friend, and there is your hat. Pick them up, and remember that
such a weapon is no toy. Many a man has spoiled his whole life, by
thoughtlessly using one a single moment. The superior numbers that
pressed upon you may excuse you. But how will you get to your aunt’s
house in that tattered doublet?”

“My cloak is in the church,” said the musician, “I’ll give it to the
young gentleman.”

“Bravo, Meister Wilhelm!” replied Dousa. “Wait here, my little master,
and then go home. I wish the time, when your father would value my
greeting, might come again. Do you know why it is no longer pleasant to
him?”

“No, my lord.”

“Then I’ll tell you. Because he is fond of Spain, and I cling to the
Netherlands.”

“We are Netherlanders as well as you,” replied Nicolas with glowing
cheeks.

“Scarcely,” answered Dousa calmly, putting his hand up to his thin chin,
and intending to add a kinder word to the sharp one, when the youth
vehemently exclaimed:

“Take back that ‘scarcely,’ Herr von Nordwyk.” Dousa gazed at the bold
lad in surprise, and again an expression of amusement hovered about his
lips. Then he said kindly:

“I like you, Herr Nicolas; and shall rejoice if you wish to become a
true Hollander. There comes Meister Wilhelm with his cloak. Give me your
hand. No, not this one, the other.”

Nicolas hesitated, but Janus grasped the boy’s right hand in both of
his, bent his tall figure to the latter’s ear, and said in so low a tone
that the musician could not understand:

“Ere we part, take with you this word of counsel from one who means
kindly. Chains, even golden ones, drag us down, but liberty gives wings.
You shine in the glittering splendor, but we strike the Spanish chains
with the sword, and I devote myself to our work. Remember these words,
and if you choose repeat them to your father.”

Janus Dousa turned his back on the boy, waved a farewell to the
musician, and went away.



CHAPTER II.

Young Adrian hurried down the Werffsteg, which had given his family its
name. He heeded neither the lindens on both sides, amid whose tops the
first tiny green leaves were forcing their way out of the pointed buds,
nor the birds that flew hither and thither among the hospitable boughs
of the stately trees, building their nests and twittering to each other,
for he had no thought in his mind except to reach home as quickly as
possible.

Beyond the bridge spanning the Achtergracht, he paused irresolutely
before a large building.

The knocker hung on the central door, but he did not venture to lift
it and let it fall on the shining plate beneath, for he could expect no
pleasant reception from his family.

His doublet had fared ill during his struggle with his stronger enemy.
The torn neck-ruffles had been removed from their proper place and
thrust into his pocket, and the new violet stocking on his right leg,
luckless thing, had been so frayed by rubbing on the pavement, that
a large yawning rent showed far more of Adrian’s white knee than was
agreeable to him.

The peacock feather in his little velvet cap could easily be replaced,
but the doublet was torn, not ripped, and the stocking scarcely capable
of being mended. The boy was sincerely sorry, for his father had bade
him take good care of the stuff to save money; during these times there
were hard shifts in the big house, which with its three doors, triple
gables adorned with beautifully-arched volutes, and six windows in the
upper and lower stories, fronted the Werffsteg in a very proud, stately
guise.

The burgomaster’s office did not bring in a large income, and Adrian’s
grandfather’s trade of preparing chamois leather, as well as the
business in skins, was falling off; his father had other matters in his
head, matters that claimed not only his intellect, strength and time,
but also every superfluous farthing.

Adrian had nothing pleasant to expect at home--certainly not from his
father, far less from his aunt Barbara. Yet the boy dreaded the anger of
these two far less, than a single disapproving glance from the eyes of
the young wife, whom he had called “mother” scarcely a twelve month, and
who was only six years his senior.

She never said an unkind word to him, but his defiance and wildness
melted before her beauty, her quiet, aristocratic manner. He scarcely
knew himself whether he loved her or not, but she appeared like the good
fairy of whom the fairy tales spoke, and it often seemed as if she were
far too delicate, dainty and charming for her simple, unpretending home.
To see her smile rendered the boy happy, and when she looked sad--a
thing that often happened-it made his heart ache. Merciful Heavens! She
certainly could not receive him kindly when she saw his doublet, the
ruffles thrust into his pocket, and his unlucky stockings.

And then!

There were the bells ringing again!

The dinner hour had long since passed, and his father waited for no
one. Whoever came too late must go without, unless Aunt Barbara took
compassion on him in the kitchen.

But what was the use of pondering and hesitating? Adrian summoned up
all his courage, clenched his teeth, clasped his right hand still closer
around the torn ruffles in his pocket, and struck the knocker loudly on
the steel plate beneath.

Trautchen, the old maid-servant, opened the door, and in the spacious,
dusky entrance-hall, where the bales of leather were packed closely
together, did not notice the dilapidation of his outer man.

He hurried swiftly up the stairs.

The dining-room door was open, and--marvellous--the table was still
untouched, his father must have remained at the town-hall longer than
usual.

Adrian rushed with long leaps to his little attic room, dressed himself
neatly, and entered the presence of his family before the master of the
house had asked the blessing.

The doublet and stocking could be confided to the hands of Aunt Barbara
or Trautchen, at some opportune hour.

Adrian sturdily attacked the smoking dishes; but his heart soon grew
heavy, for his father did not utter a word, and gazed into vacancy as
gravely and anxiously as at the time when misery entered the beleaguered
city.

The boy’s young step-mother sat opposite her husband, and often glanced
at Peter Van der Werff’s grave face to win a loving glance from him.

Whenever she did so in vain, she pushed her soft, golden hair back from
her forehead, raised her beautiful head higher, or bit her lips and
gazed silently into her plate.

In reply to Aunt Barbara’s questions: “What happened at the council? Has
the money for the new bell been collected? Will Jacob Van Sloten rent
you the meadow?” he made curt, evasive replies.

The steadfast man, who sat so silently with frowning brow among his
family, sometimes attacking the viands on his plate, then leaving them
untouched, did not look like one who yields to idle whims.

All present, even the men and maid-servants, were still devoting
themselves to the food, when the master of the house rose, and pressing
both hands over the back of his head, which was very prominently
developed, exclaimed groaning:

“I can hold out no longer. Do you give thanks, Maria. Go to the
town-hall, Janche, and ask if no messenger has yet arrived.”

The man-servant wiped his mouth and instantly obeyed. He was a tall,
broad-shouldered Frieselander, but only reached to his master’s
forehead.

Peter Van der Werff, without any form of salutation, turned his back on
his family, opened the door leading into his study, and after
crossing the threshold, closed it with a bang, approached the big oak
writing-desk, on which papers and letters lay piled in heaps, secured
by rough leaden weights, and began to rummage among the newly-arrived
documents. For fifteen minutes he vainly strove to fix the necessary
attention upon his task, then grasped his study-chair to rest his folded
arms on the high, perforated back, adorned with simple carving, and
gazed thoughtfully at the wooden wainscoting of the ceiling. After a few
minutes he pushed the chair aside with his foot, raised his hand to his
mouth, separated his moustache from his thick brown beard, and went to
the window. The small, round, leaden-cased panes, however brightly they
might be polished, permitted only a narrow portion of the street to be
seen, but the burgomaster seemed to have found the object for which he
had been looking. Hastily opening the window, he called to his servant,
who was hurriedly approaching the house:

“Is he in, Janche?”

The Frieselander shook his head, the window again closed, and a few
minutes after the burgomaster seized his hat, which hung, between some
cavalry pistols and a plain, substantial sword, on the only wall of his
room not perfectly bare.

The torturing anxiety that filled his mind, would no longer allow him to
remain in the house.

He would have his horse saddled, and ride to meet the expected
messenger.

Ere leaving the room, he paused a moment lost in thought, then
approached the writing-table to sign some papers intended for the
town-hall; for his return might be delayed till night.

Still standing, he looked over the two sheets he had spread out before
him, and seized the pen. Just at that moment the door of the room gently
opened, and the fresh sand strewn over the white boards creaked under
a light foot. He doubtless heard it, but did not allow himself to be
interrupted.

His wife was now standing close behind him. Four and twenty years his
junior, she seemed like a timid girl, as she raised her arm, yet did not
venture to divert her husband’s attention from his business.

She waited quietly till he had signed the first paper, then turned her
pretty head aside, and blushing faintly, exclaimed with downcast eyes:

“It is I, Peter!”

“Very well, my child,” he answered curtly, raising the second paper
nearer his eyes.

“Peter!” she exclaimed a second time, still more eagerly, but with
timidity. “I have something to tell you.”

Van der Werff turned his head, cast a hasty, affectionate glance at her,
and said:

“Now, child? You see I am busy, and there is my hat.”

“But Peter!” she replied, a flash of something like indignation
sparkling in her eyes, as she continued in a voice pervaded with a
slightly perceptible tone of complaint: “We haven’t said anything to
each other to-day. My heart is so full, and what I would fain say to you
is, must surely--”

“When I come home Maria, not now,” he interrupted, his deep voice
sounding half impatient, half beseeching. “First the city and the
country--then love-making.”

At these words, Maria raised her head proudly, and answered with
quivering lips:

“That is what you have said ever since the first day of our marriage.”

“And unhappily--unhappily--I must continue to say so until we reach
the goal,” he answered firmly. The blood mounted into the young wife’s
delicate cheeks, and with quickened breathing, she answered in a hasty,
resolute tone:

“Yes, indeed, I have known these words ever since your courtship, and as
I am my father’s daughter never opposed them, but now they are no longer
suited to us, and should be: ‘Everything for the country, and nothing at
all for the wife.’”

Van der Werff laid down his pen and turned full towards her.

Maria’s slender figure seemed to have grown taller, and the blue eyes,
swimming in tears, flashed proudly. This life-companion seemed to have
been created by God especially for him. His heart opened to her, and
frankly stretching out both hands, he said tenderly:

“You know how matters are! This heart is changeless, and other days will
come.”

“When?” asked Maria, in a tone as mournful as if she believed in no
happier future.

“Soon,” replied her husband firmly. “Soon, if only each one gives
willingly what our native land demands.”

At these words the young wife loosed her hands from her husband’s,
for the door had opened and Barbara called to her brother from the
threshold.

“Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma, the Glipper, is in the entry and wants to
speak to you.”

“Show him up,” said the burgomaster reluctantly. When again alone with
his wife, he asked hastily “Will you be indulgent and help me?”

She nodded assent, trying to smile.

He saw that she was sad and, as this grieved him, held out his hand to
her again, saying:

“Better days will come, when I shall be permitted to be more to you than
to-day. What were you going to say just now?”

“Whether you know it or not--is of no importance to the state.”

“But to you. Then lift up your head again, and look at me. Quick, love,
for they are already on the stairs.”

“It isn’t worth mentioning--a year ago to-day--we might celebrate the
anniversary of our wedding to-day.”

“The anniversary of our wedding-day!” he cried, striking his hands
loudly together. “Yes, this is the seventeenth of April, and I have
forgotten it.”

He drew her tenderly towards him, but just at that moment the door
opened, and Adrian ushered the baron into the room.

Van der Werff bowed courteously to the infrequent guest, then called
to his blushing wife, who was retiring: “My congratulations! I’ll come
later. Adrian, we are to celebrate a beautiful festival to-day, the
anniversary of our marriage.”

The boy glided swiftly out of the door, which he still held in his hand,
for he suspected the aristocratic visitor boded him no good.

In the entry he paused to think, then hurried up the stairs, seized his
plumeless cap, and rushed out of doors. He saw his school-mates, armed
with sticks and poles, ranging themselves in battle array, and would
have liked to join the game of war, but for that very reason preferred
not to listen to the shouts of the combatants at that moment, and ran
towards the Zylhof until beyond the sound of their voices.

He now checked his steps, and in a stooping posture, often on his knees,
followed the windings of a narrow canal that emptied into the Rhine.

As soon as his cap was overflowing with the white, blue, and yellow
spring flowers he had gathered, he sat down on a boundary stone, and
with sparkling eyes bound them into a beautiful bouquet, with which he
ran home.

On the bench beside the gate sat the old maidservant with his little
sister, a child six years old. Handing the flowers, which he had kept
hidden behind his back, to her, he said:

“Take them and carry them to mother, Bessie; this is the anniversary of
her wedding-day. Give her warm congratulations too, from us both.”

The child rose, and the old servant said, “You are a good boy, Adrian.”

“Do you think so?” he asked, all the sins of the forenoon returning to
his mind.

But unluckily they caused him no repentance; on the contrary, his eyes
began to sparkle mischievously, and a smile hovered around his lips, as
he patted the old woman’s shoulder, whispering softly in her ear:

“The hair flew to-day, Trautchen. My doublet and new stockings are lying
up in my room under the bed. Nobody can mend as well as you.”

Trautchen shook her finger at him, but he turned hastily back and
ran towards the Zyl-gate, this time to lead the Spaniards against the
Netherlanders.



CHAPTER III.

The burgomaster had pressed the nobleman to sit down in the study-chair,
while he himself leaned in a half-sitting attitude on the writing-table,
listening somewhat impatiently to his distinguished guest.

“Before speaking of more important things,” Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma
had begun, “I should like to appeal to you, as a just man, for some
punishment for the injury my son has sustained in this city.”

“Speak,” said the burgomaster, and the nobleman now briefly, and with
unconcealed indignation, related the story of the attack upon his son at
the church.

“I’ll inform the rector of the annoying incident,” replied Van der
Werff, “and the culprits will receive their just dues; but pardon me,
noble sir, if I ask whether any inquiry has been made concerning the
cause of the quarrel?”

Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma looked at the burgomaster in surprise and
answered proudly:

“You know my son’s report.”

“Both sides must be fairly heard,” replied Van der Werff calmly. “That
has been the custom of the Netherlands from ancient times.”

“My son bears my name and speaks the truth.”

“Our boys are called simply Leendert or Adrian or Gerrit, but they
do the same, so I must beg you to send the young gentleman to the
examination at the school.”

“By no means,” answered the knight resolutely. “If I had thought the
matter belonged to the rector’s department, I should have sought him and
not you, Herr Peter. My son has his own tutor, and was not attacked in
your school, which in any case he has outgrown, for he is seventeen,
but in the public street, whose security it is the burgomaster’s duty to
guard.”

“Very well then, make your complaint, take the youth before the judges,
summon witnesses and let the law follow its course. But, sir,” continued
Van der Werff, softening the impatience in his voice, “were you not
young yourself once? Have you entirely forgotten the fights under
the citadel? What pleasure will it afford you, if we lock up a few
thoughtless lads for two days this sunny weather? The scamps will find
something amusing to do indoors, as well as out, and only the parents
will be punished.”

The last words were uttered so cordially and pleasantly, that they could
not fail to have their effect upon the baron. He was a handsome
man, whose refined, agreeable features, of the true Netherland type,
expressed anything rather than severity.

“If you speak to me in this tone, we shall come to an agreement more
easily,” he answered, smiling. “I will only say this. Had the brawl
arisen in sport, or from some boyish quarrel, I wouldn’t have wasted
a word on the matter--but that children already venture to assail with
jeers and violence those who hold different opinions, ought not to be
permitted to pass without reproof. The boys shouted after my son the
absurd word--”

“It is certainly an insult,” interrupted Van der Werff, “a very
disagreeable name, that our people bestow on the enemies of their
liberty.”

The baron rose, angrily confronting the other.

“Who tells you,” he cried, striking his broad breast, padded with silken
puffs, “who tells you that we grudge Holland her liberty? We desire,
just as earnestly as you, to win it back to the States, but by other,
straighter paths than Orange--”

“I cannot test here whether your paths are crooked or straight,”
 retorted Van der Werff; “but I do know this--they are labyrinths.”

“They will lead to the heart of Philip, our king and yours.”

“Yes, if he only had what we in Holland call a heart,” replied the
other, smiling bitterly; but Wibisma threw his head back vehemently,
exclaiming reproachfully:

“Sir Burgomaster, you are speaking of the anointed Prince to whom I have
sworn fealty.”

“Baron Matanesse,” replied Van der Werff, in a tone of deep earnestness,
as he drew himself up to his full height, folded his arms, and looked
the nobleman sharply in the eye, “I speak rather of the tyrant, whose
bloody council declared all who bore the Netherland name, and you among
us, criminals worthy of death; who, through his destroying devil, Alva,
burned, beheaded, and hung thousands of honest men, robbed and exiled
from the country thousands of others, I speak of the profligate--”

“Enough!” cried the knight, clenching the hilt of his sword. “Who gives
you the right--”

“Who gives me the right to speak so bitterly, you would ask?”
 interrupted Peter Van der Werff, meeting the nobleman’s eyes with a
gloomy glance. “Who gives me this right? I need not conceal it. It was
bestowed by the silent lips of my valiant father, beheaded for the
sake of his faith, by the arbitrary decree, that without form of law,
banished my brother and myself from the country--by the Spaniards’
broken vows, the torn charters of this land, the suffering of the poor,
ill-treated, worthy people that will perish if we do not save them.”

“You will not save them,” replied Wibisma in a calmer tone. “You will
push those tottering on the verge of the abyss completely over the
precipice, and go to destruction with them.”

“We are pilots. Perhaps we shall bring deliverance, perhaps we shall go
to ruin with those for whom we are ready to die.”

“You say that, and yet a young, blooming wife binds you to life.”

“Baron, you have crossed this threshold as complainant to the
burgomaster, not as guest or friend.”

“Quite true, but I came with kind intentions, as monitor to the guiding
head of this beautiful, hapless city. You have escaped the storm once,
but new and far heavier ones are gathering above your heads.”

“We do not fear them.”

“Not even now?”

“Now, with good reason, far less than ever.”

“Then you don’t know the Prince’s brother--”

“Louis of Nassau was close upon the Spaniards on the 14th, and our cause
is doing well--”

“It certainly did not fare ill at first.”

“The messenger, who yesterday evening--”

“Ours came this morning.”

“This morning, you say? And what more--”

“The Prince’s army was defeated and utterly destroyed on Mook Heath.
Louis of Nassau himself was slain.”

Van der Werff pressed his fingers firmly on the wood of the
writing-table. The fresh color of his cheeks and lips had yielded to
a livid pallor, and his mouth quivered painfully as he asked in a low,
hollow tone, “Louis dead, really dead?”

“Dead,” replied the baron firmly, though sorrowfully. “We were enemies,
but Louis was a noble youth. I mourn him with you.”

“Dead, William’s favorite dead!” murmured the burgomaster as if in a
dream. Then, controlling himself by a violent effort, he said, firmly:

“Pardon me, noble sir. Time is flying. I must go to the town-hall.”

“And spite of my message, you will continue to uphold rebellion?”

“Yes, my lord, as surely as I am a Hollander.”

“Do you remember the fate of Haarlem?”

“I remember her citizens’ resistance, and the rescued Alkmaar.”

“Man, man!” cried the baron. “By all that sacred, I implore you to be
circumspect.”

“Enough, baron, I must go to the town-hall.”

“No, only this one more word, this one word. I know you upbraid us
as ‘Glippers,’ deserters, but as truly as I hope for God’s mercy, you
misjudge us. No, Herr Peter, no, I am no traitor! I love this country
and this brave, industrious people with the same love as yourself, for
its blood flows in my veins also. I signed the compromise. Here I stand,
sir. Look at me. Do I look like a Judas? Do I look like a Spaniard? Can
you blame me for faithfully keeping the oath I gave the king? When did
we of the Netherlands ever trifle with vows? You, the friend of Orange,
have just declared that you did not grudge any man the faith to which he
clung, and I will not doubt it. Well, I hold firmly to the old church, I
am a Catholic and shall remain one. But in this hour I frankly confess,
that I hate the inquisition and Alva’s bloody deeds as much as you do.
They have as little connection with our religion as iconoclasm had with
yours Like you, I love the freedom of our home. To win it back is my
endeavor, as well as yours. But how can a little handful like us ever
succeed in finally resisting the most powerful kingdom in the world?
Though we conquer once, twice, thrice, two stronger armies will follow
each defeated one. We shall accomplish nothing by force, but may do much
by wise concession and prudent deeds. Philip’s coffers are empty; he
needs his armies too in other countries. Well then, let us profit by
his difficulties, and force him to ratify some lost liberty for every
revolted city that returns to him. Let us buy from his hands, with
what remains of our old wealth, the rights he has wrested from us while
fighting against the rebels. You will find open hands with me and those
who share my opinions. Your voice weighs heavily in the council of this
city. You are the friend of Orange, and if you could induce him--”

“To do what, noble sir?”

“To enter into an alliance with us. We know that those in Madrid
understand how to estimate his importance and fear him. Let us
stipulate, as the first condition, a full pardon for him and his
faithful followers. King Philip, I know, will receive him into favor
again--”

“In his arms to strangle him,” replied the burgomaster resolutely. “Have
you forgotten the false promises of pardon made in former times, the
fate of Egmont and Horn, the noble Montigney and other lords? They
ventured it and entered the tiger’s den. What we buy to-day will surely
be taken from us tomorrow, for what oath would be sacred to Philip? I am
no statesman, but I know this--if he would restore all our liberties, he
will never grant the one thing, without which life is valueless.”

“What is that, Herr Peter?”

“The privilege of believing according to the dictates of our hearts. You
mean fairly, noble sir;--but you trust the Spaniard, we do not; if we
did, we should be deceived children. You have nothing to fear for your
religion, we everything; you believe that the number of troops and power
of gold will turn the scales in our conflict, we comfort ourselves
with the hope, that God will give victory to the good cause of a brave
people, ready to suffer a thousand deaths for liberty. This is my
opinion, and I shall defend it in the town-hall.”

“No, Meister Peter, no! You cannot, ought not.”

“What I can do is little, what I ought to do is written within, and I
shall act accordingly.”

“And thus obey the sorrowing heart rather than the prudent head, and be
able to give naught save evil counsel. Consider, man, Orange’s last army
was destroyed on Mock Heath.”

“True, my lord, and for that very reason we will not use the moments for
words, but deeds.”

“I’ll take the hint myself, Herr Van der Werf, for many friends of the
king still dwell in Leyden, who must be taught not to follow you blindly
to the shambles.”

At these words Van der Werff retreated from the nobleman, clenched his
moustache firmly in his right hand, and raising his deep voice to a
louder tone, said coldly and imperiously:

“Then, as guardian of the safety of this city, I command you to quit
Leyden instantly. If you are found within these walls after noon
to-morrow, I will have you taken across the frontiers by the
city-guard.”

The baron withdrew without any form of leave-taking.

As soon as the door had closed behind him, Van der Werff, threw himself
into his arm-chair and covered his face with his hands. When he again
sat erect, two large tear-drops sparkled on the paper which had lain
under his fingers. Smiling bitterly, he wiped them from the page with
the back of his hand.

“Dead, dead,” he murmured, and the image of the gallant youth, the
clever mediator, the favorite of William of Orange, rose before his
mind--he asked himself how this fresh stroke of fate would affect the
Prince, whom he revered as the providence of the country, admired and
loved as the wisest, most unselfish of men.

William’s affliction grieved him as sorely as if it had fallen upon
himself, and the blow that had struck the cause of freedom was a heavy
one, perhaps never to be overcome.

Yet he only granted himself a short time to indulge in grief, for the
point in question now was to summon all the nation’s strength to repair
what was lost, avert by vigorous acts the serious consequences which
threatened to follow Louis’s defeat, and devise fresh means to carry on
the war.

He paced up and down the room with frowning brow, inventing measures
and pondering over plans. His wife had opened the door, and now remained
standing on the threshold, but he did not notice her until she called
his name and advanced towards him.

In her hand she held part of the flowers the boy had brought, another
portion adorned her bosom.

“Take it,” she said, offering him the bouquet. “Adrian, dear boy,
gathered them, and you surely know what they mean.”

He willingly took the messengers of spring, raised them to his face,
drew Maria to his breast, pressed a long kiss upon her brow, and then
said gloomily:

“So this is the celebration of the first anniversary of our wedding-day.
Poor wife! The Glipper was not so far wrong; perhaps it would have been
wiser and better for me not to bind your fate to mine.”

“How can such thoughts enter your mind, Peter!” she exclaimed
reproachfully.

“Louis of Nassau has fallen,” he murmured in a hollow tone, “his army is
scattered.”

“Oh-oh!” cried Maria, clasping her hands in horror, but he continued:

“It was our last body of troops. The coffers are empty, and where we
are to obtain new means, and what will happen now--this, this--Leave me,
Maria, I beg you. If we don’t profit by the time now, if we don’t find
the right paths now, we shall not, cannot prosper.”

With these words he threw the bouquet on the table, hastily seized a
paper, looked into it, and, without glancing at her, waved his right
hand.

The young wife’s heart had been full, wide open, when she entered the
room. She had expected so much that was beautiful from this hour, and
now stood alone in the apartment he still shared with her. Her arms had
fallen by her side; helpless, mortified, wounded, she gazed at him in
silence.

Maria had grown up amid the battle for freedom, and knew how to estimate
the grave importance of the tidings her husband had received. During his
wooing he had told her that, by his side, she must expect a life full of
anxiety and peril, yet she had joyously gone to the altar with the brave
champion of the good cause, which had been her father’s, for she had
hoped to become the sharer of his cares and struggles. And now? What was
she permitted to be to him? What did he receive from her? What had he
consented to share with her, who could not feel herself a feeble woman,
on this, the anniversary of their wedding-day.

There she stood, her open heart slowly closing and struggling against
her longing to cry out to him, and say that she would as gladly bear his
cares with him and share every danger, as happiness and honor.

The burgomaster, having now found what he sought, seized his hat and
again looked at his wife.

How pale and disappointed she was!

His heart ached; he would so gladly have given expression in words
to the great, warm love he felt for her, offered her joyous
congratulations; but in this hour, amid his grief, with such anxieties
burdening his breast, he could not do it, so he only held out both
hands, saying tenderly:

“You surely know what you are to me, Maria, if you do not, I will
tell you this evening. I must meet the members of the council at the
town-hall, or a whole day will be lost, and at this time we must be
avaricious even of the moments. Well, Maria?”

The young wife was gazing at the floor. She would gladly have flown to
his breast, but offended pride would not suffer her to do so, and some
mysterious power bound her hands and did not permit her to lay them in
his.

“Farewell,” she said in a hollow tone.

“Maria!” he exclaimed reproachfully. “To-day is no well-chosen time for
pouting. Come and be my sensible wife.”

She did not move instantly; but he heard the bell ring for the fourth
hour, the time when the session of the council ended, and left the room
without looking back at her.

The little bouquet still lay on the writing-table; the young wife saw
it, and with difficulty restrained her tears.



CHAPTER IV.

Countless citizens had flocked to the stately townhall. News of Louis of
Nassau’s defeat had spread quickly through all the eighteen wards of the
city, and each wanted to learn farther particulars, express his grief
and fears to those who held the same views, and hear what measures the
council intended to adopt for the immediate future.

Two messengers had only too thoroughly confirmed Baron Matanesse Van
Wibisma’s communication. Louis was dead, his brother Henry missing, and
his army completely destroyed.

Jan Van Hout, who had taught the boys that morning, now came to a
window, informed the citizens what a severe blow the liberty of the
country had received, and in vigorous words exhorted them to support the
good cause with body and soul.

Loud cheers followed this speech. Gay caps and plumed hats were tossed
in the air, canes and swords were waved, and the women and children, who
had crowded among the men, fluttered their handkerchiefs, and with their
shriller voices drowned the shouts of the citizens.

The members of the valiant city-guard assembled, to charge their captain
to give the council the assurance, that the “Schutterij” was ready to
support William of Orange to the last penny and drop of their blood,
and would rather die for the cause of Holland, than live under Spanish
tyranny. Among them was seen many a grave, deeply-troubled face; for
these men, who filled its ranks by their own choice, all loved William
of Orange: his sorrow hurt them--and their country’s distress pierced
their hearts. As soon as the four burgomasters, the eight magistrates of
the city, and the members of the common council appeared at the windows,
hundreds of voices joined in the Geusenlied,--[Beggars’ Song or Hymn.
Beggar was the name given to the patriots by those who sympathized with
Spain.]--which had long before been struck up by individuals, and when
at sunset the volatile populace scattered and, still singing, turned,
either singly or by twos or threes, towards the taverns, to strengthen
their confidence in better days and dispel many a well-justified anxiety
by drink, the market-place of Leyden and its adjoining streets presented
no different aspect, than if a message of victory had been read from the
town-hall.

The cheers and Beggars’ Song had sounded very powerful--but so many
hundreds of Dutch throats would doubtless have been capable of shaking
the air with far mightier tones.

This very remark had been made by the three well-dressed citizens,
who were walking through the wide street, past the blue stone, and the
eldest said to his companions:

“They boast and shout and seem large to themselves now, but we shall see
that things will soon be very different.”

“May God avert the worst!” replied the other, “but the Spaniards will
surely advance again, and I know many in my ward who won’t vote for
resistance this time.”

“They are right, a thousand times right. Requesens is not Alva, and if
we voluntarily seek the king’s pardon--”

“There would be no blood shed and everything would take the best
course.”

“I have more love for Holland than for Spain,” said the third. “But,
after Mook-Heath, resistance is a thing of the past. Orange may be an
excellent prince, but the shirt is closer than the coat.”

“And in fact we risk our lives and fortunes merely for him.”

“My wife said so yesterday.”

“He’ll be the last man to help trade. Believe me, many think as we do,
if it were not so, the Beggars’ Song would have sounded louder.”

“There will always be five fools to three wise men,” said the older
citizen. “I took good care not to split my mouth.”

“And after all, what great thing is there behind this outcry for
freedom? Alva burnt the Bible-readers, De la Marck hangs the priests.
My wife likes to go to Mass, but always does so secretly, as if she were
committing a crime.”

“We, too, cling to the good old faith.”

“Never mind faith,” said the third. “We are Calvinists, but I take no
pleasure in throwing my pennies into Orange’s maw, nor can it gratify me
to again tear up the poles before the Cow-gate, ere the wind dries the
yarn.”

“Only let us hold together,” advised the older man. “People don’t
express their real opinions, and any poor ragged devil might play the
hero. But I tell you there will be sensible men enough in every ward,
every guild, nay, even in the council, and among the burgomasters.”

“Hush,” whispered the second citizen, “there comes Van der Werff with
the city clerk and young Van der Does; they are the worst of all.”

The three persons named came down the broad street, talking eagerly
together, but in low tones.

“My uncle is right, Meister Peter,” said Jan Van der Does, the same
tall young noble, who, on the morning of that day, had sent Nicolas
Van Wibisma home with a kindly warning. “It’s no use, you must seek the
Prince and consult with him.”

“I suppose I must,” replied the burgomaster. “I’ll go to-morrow
morning.”

“Not to-morrow,” replied Van Hout. “The Prince rides fast, and if you
don’t find him in Delft--”

“Do you go first,” urged the burgomaster, “you have the record of our
session.”

“I cannot; but to-day you, the Prince’s friend, for the first time lack
good-will.”

“You are right, Jan,” exclaimed the burgomaster, “and you shall know
what holds me back.”

“If it is anything a friend can do for you, here he stands,” said von
Nordwyk.

Van der Werff grasped the hand the young nobleman extended, and
answered, smiling: “No, my lord, no. You know my young wife. To-day we
should have celebrated the first anniversary of our marriage, and amid
all these anxieties I disgracefully forgot it.”

“Hard, hard,” said Van Hout, softly. Then he drew himself up to his full
height, and added resolutely: “And yet, were I in your place, I would
go, in spite of her.”

“Would you go to-day?”

“To-day, for to-morrow it may be too late. Who knows how soon egress
from the city may be stopped and, before again venturing the utmost, we
must know the Prince’s opinion. You possess more of his confidence than
any of us.”

“And God knows how gladly I would bring him a cheering word in these
sorrowful hours; but it must not be to-day. The messenger has ridden off
on my bay.”

“Then take my chestnut, he is faster too,” said Janus Dousa and Van der
Werff answered hastily.

“Thanks, my lord. I’ll send for him early tomorrow morning.”

The blood mounted to Van Hout’s head and, thrusting his hand angrily
between his girdle and doublet, he exclaimed: “Send me the chestnut, if
the burgomaster will give me leave of absence.”

“No, send him to me,” replied Peter calmly. “What must be, must be; I’ll
go to-day.”

Van Hout’s manly features quickly smoothed and, clasping the
burgomaster’s right hand in both his, he said joyously:

“Thanks, Herr Peter. And no offence; you know my hot temper. If the time
seems long to your young wife, send her to mine.”

“And mine,” added Dousa. “It’s a strange thing about those two little
words ‘wish’ and ‘ought.’ The freer and better a man becomes, the more
surely the first becomes the slave of the second.

“And yet, Herr Peter, I’ll wager that your wife will confound the
two words to-day, and think you have sorely transgressed against the
‘ought.’ These are bad times for the ‘wish.’”

Van der Werff nodded assent, then briefly and firmly explained to his
friends what he intended to disclose to the Prince.

The three men separated before the burgomaster’s house.

“Tell the Prince,” said Van Hout, on parting, “that we are prepared for
the worst, will endure and dare it.”

At these words Janus Dousa measured both his companions with his eyes,
his lips quivered as they always did when any strong emotion filled
his heart, and while his shrewd face beamed with joy and confidence, he
exclaimed: “We three will hold out, we three will stand firm, the tyrant
may break our necks, but he shall not bend them. Life, fortune, all that
is dear and precious and useful to man, we will resign for the highest
of blessings.”

“Ay,” said Van der Werff, loudly and earnestly, while Van Hout
impetuously repeated: “Yes, yes, thrice yes.”

The three men, so united in feeling, grasped each other’s hands firmly
for a moment. A silent vow bound them in this hour, and when Herr von
Nordwyk and Van Hout turned in opposite directions, the citizens who met
them thought their tall figures had grown taller still within the last
few hours.

The burgomaster went to his wife’s room without delay, but did not find
her there.

She had gone out of the gate with his sister.

The maid-servant carried a light into his chamber; he followed her,
examined the huge locks of his pistols, buckled on his old sword, put
what he needed into his saddle-bags, then, with his tall figure drawn up
to its full height, paced up and down the room, entirely absorbed in his
task.

Herr von Nordwyk’s chestnut horse was stamping on the pavement before
the door, and Hesperus was rising above the roofs.

The door of the house now opened.

He went into the entry and found, not his wife, but Adrian, who had just
returned home, told the boy to give his most loving remembrances to
his mother, and say that he was obliged to seek the Prince on important
business.

Old Trautchen had already washed and undressed little Elizabeth, and now
brought him the child wrapped in a coverlet. He kissed the dear little
face, which smiled at him out of its queer disguise, pressed his lips
to Adrian’s forehead, again told him to give his love to his mother, and
then rode down Marendorpstrasse.

Two women, coming from the Rheinsburger gate, met him just as he reached
St. Stephen’s cloister. He did not notice them, but the younger one
pushed the kerchief back from her head, hastily grasped her companion’s
wrist, and exclaimed in a low tone:

“That was Peter!”

Barbara raised her head higher.

“It’s lucky I’m not timid. Let go of my arm. Do you mean the horseman
trotting past St. Ursula alley?”

“Yes, it is Peter.”

“Nonsense, child! The bay has shorter legs than that tall camel; and
Peter never rides out at this hour.”

“But it was he.”

“God forbid! At night a linden looks like a beechtree. It would be a
pretty piece of business, if he didn’t come home to-day.”

The last words had escaped Barbara’s lips against her will; for until
then she had prudently feigned not to suspect that everything between
Maria and her husband was not exactly as it ought to be, though
she plainly perceived what was passing in the mind of her young
sister-in-law.

She was a shrewd woman, with much experience of the world, who certainly
did not undervalue her brother and his importance to the cause of their
native land; nay, she went so far as to believe that, with the exception
of the Prince of Orange, no man on earth would be more skilful than
Peter in guiding the cause of freedom to a successful end; but she felt
that her brother was not treating Maria justly, and being a fair-minded
woman, silently took sides against the husband who neglected his wife.

Both walked side by side for a time in silence. At last the widow
paused, saying:

“Perhaps the Prince has sent a messenger for Peter. In such times, after
such blows, everything is possible. You might have seen correctly.”

“It was surely he,” replied Maria positively.

“Poor fellow!” said the other. “It must be a sad ride for him! Much
honor, much hardship! You’ve no reason to despond, for your husband
will return tomorrow or the day after; while I--look at me, Maria! I go
through life stiff and straight, do my duty cheerfully; my cheeks are
rosy, my food has a relish, yet I’ve been obliged to resign what was
dearest to me. I have endured my widowhood ten years; my daughter
Gretchen has married, and I sent Cornelius myself to the Beggars of the
Sea. Any hour may rob me of him, for his life is one of constant
peril. What has a widow except her only son? And I gave him up for our
country’s cause! That is harder than to see a husband ride away for a
few hours on the anniversary of his wedding-day. He certainly doesn’t do
it for his own pleasure!”

“Here we are at home,” said Maria, raising the knocker.

Trautchen opened the door and, even before crossing the threshold,
Barbara exclaimed:

“Is your master at home?”

The reply was in the negative, as she too now expected.

Adrian gave his message; Trautchen brought up the supper, but the
conversation would not extend beyond “yes” and “no.”

After Maria had hastily asked the blessing, she rose, and turning to
Barbara, said:

“My head aches, I should like to go to bed.”

“Then go to rest,” replied the widow. “I’ll sleep in the next room and
leave the door open. In darkness and silence--whims come.”

Maria kissed her sister-in-law with sincere affection, and lay down in
bed; but she found no sleep, and tossed restlessly to and fro until near
midnight.

Hearing Barbara cough in the next room, she sat up and asked:

“Sister-in-law, are you asleep?”

“No, child. Do you feel ill?”

“Not exactly; but I’m so anxious--horrible thoughts torment me.”

Barbara instantly lighted a candle at the night-lamp, entered the
chamber with it, and sat down on the edge of the bed.

Her heart ached as she gazed at the pretty young creature lying alone,
full of sorrow, in the wide bed, unable to sleep from bitter grief.

Maria had never seemed to her so beautiful; resting in her white
night-robes on the snowy pillow, she looked like a sorrowing angel.

Barbara could not refrain from smoothing the hair back from the narrow
forehead and kissing the flushed cheeks.

Maria gazed gratefully into her small, light-blue eyes and said
beseechingly:

“I should like to ask you something.”

“Well?”

“But you must honestly tell me the truth.”

“That is asking a great deal!”

“I know you are sincere, but it is--”

“Speak freely.”

“Was Peter happy with his first wife?”

“Yes, child, yes.”

“And do you know this not only from him, but also from his dead wife,
Eva?”

“Yes, sister-in-law, yes.”

“And you can’t be mistaken?”

“Not in this case certainly! But what puts such thoughts into your head?
The Bible says: ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ Now turn over and try to
sleep.”

Barbara went back to her room, but hours elapsed ere Maria found the
slumber she sought.



CHAPTER V.

The next morning two horsemen, dressed in neat livery, were waiting
before the door of a handsome House in Nobelstrasse, near the
market-place. A third was leading two sturdy roan steeds up and down,
and a stable-boy held by the bridle a gaily-bedizened, long maned pony.
This was intended for the young negro lad, who stood in the door-way
of the house and kept off the street-boys, who ventured to approach, by
rolling his eyes and gnashing his white teeth at them.

“Where can they be?” said one of the mounted men: “The rain won’t keep
off long to-day.”

“Certainly not,” replied the other. “The sky is as grey as my old
felt-hat, and, by the time we reach the forest, it will be pouring.”

“It’s misting already.”

“Such cold, damp weather is particularly disagreeable to me.”

“It was pleasant yesterday.”

“Button the flaps tighter over the pistol-holsters! The portmanteau
behind the young master’s saddle isn’t exactly even. There! Did the cook
fill the flask for you?”

“With brown Spanish wine. There it is.”

“Then let it pour. When a fellow is wet inside, he can bear a great deal
of moisture without.”

“Lead the horses up to the door; I hear the gentlemen.”

The man was not mistaken; for before his companion had succeeded in
stopping the larger roan, the voices of his master, Herr Matanesse Van
Wibisma, and his son, Nicolas, were heard in the wide entry.

Both were exchanging affectionate farewells with a young girl, whose
voice sounded deeper than the halfgrown boy’s.

As the older gentleman thrust his hand through the roan’s mane and was
already lifting his foot to put it in the stirrup, the young girl, who
had remained in the entry, came out into the street, laid her hand on
Wibisma’s arm, and said:

“One word more, uncle, but to you alone.”

The baron still held his horse’s mane in his hand, exclaiming with a
cordial smile:

“If only it isn’t too heavy for the roan. A secret from beautiful lips
has its weight.”

While speaking, he bent his ear towards his niece, but she did not seem
to have intended to whisper, for she approached no nearer and merely
lowered her tone, saying in the Italian language:

“Please tell my father, that I won’t stay here.”

“Why, Henrica!”

“Tell him I won’t do so under any circumstances.”

“Your aunt won’t let you go.”

“In short, I won’t stay.”

“I’ll deliver the message, but in somewhat milder terms, if agreeable to
you.”

“As you choose. Tell him, too, that I beg him to send for me. If he
doesn’t wish to enter this heretic’s nest himself, for which I don’t
blame him in the least, he need only send horses or the carriage for
me.”

“And your reasons?”

“I won’t weight your baggage still more heavily. Go, or the saddle will
be wet before you ride off.”

“Then I’m to tell Hoogstraten to expect a letter.”

“No. Such things can’t be written. Besides, it won’t be necessary. Tell
my father I won’t stay with aunt, and want to go home. Good-bye, Nico.
Your riding-boots and green cloth doublet are much more becoming than
those silk fal-lals.”

The young lady kissed her hand to the youth, who had already swung
himself into the saddle, and hurried back to the house. Her uncle
shrugged his shoulders, mounted the roan, wrapped the dark cloak closer
around him, beckoned Nicolas to his side, and rode on with him in
advance of the servants.

No word was exchanged between them, so long as their way led through the
city, but outside the gate, Wibisma said:

“Henrica finds the time long in Leyden; she would like to go back to her
father.”

“It can’t be very pleasant to stay with aunt,” replied the youth.

“She is old and sick, and her life has been a joyless one.”

“Yet she was beautiful. Few traces of it are visible, but her eyes are
still like those in the portrait, and besides she is so rich.”

“That doesn’t give happiness.”

“But why has she remained unmarried?” The baron shrugged his shoulders,
and replied: “It certainly didn’t suit the men.”

“Then why didn’t she go into a convent?”

“Who knows? Women’s hearts are harder to understand than your Greek
books. You’ll learn that later. What were you saying to your aunt as I
came up?”

“Why, just see,” replied the boy, putting the bridle in his mouth,
and drawing the glove from his left hand, “she slipped this ring on my
finger.”

“A splendid emerald! She doesn’t usually like to part with such things.”

“She first offered me another, saying she would give it to me to make
amends for the thumps I received yesterday as a faithful follower of the
king. Isn’t it comical?”

“More than that, I should think.”

“It was contrary to my nature to accept gifts for my bruises, and I
hastily drew my hand back, saying the burgher lads had taken some home
from me, and I wouldn’t have the ring as a reward for that.”

“Right, Nico, right.”

“So she said too, put the little ring back in the box, found this one,
and here it is.”

“A valuable gem!” murmured the baron, thinking: “This gift is a good
omen. The Hoogstratens and he are her nearest heirs, and if the silly
girl doesn’t stay with her, it might happen--”

But he found no time to finish these reflections, Nicolas interrupted
them by saying:

“It’s beginning to rain already. Don’t the fogs on the meadows look like
clouds fallen from the skies? I am cold.”

“Draw your cloak closer.”

“How it rains and hails! One would think it was winter. The water in the
canals looks black, and yonder--see--what is that?”

A tavern stood beside the road, and just in front of it a single lofty
elm towered towards the sky. Its trunk, bare as a mast, had grown
straight up without separating into branches until it attained the
height of a house. Spring had as yet lured no leaves from the boughs,
but there were many objects to be seen in the bare top of the tree. A
small flag, bearing the colors of the House of Orange, was fastened to
one branch, from another hung a large doll, which at a distance strongly
resembled a man dressed in black, an old hat dangled from a third, and a
fourth supported a piece of white pasteboard, on which might be read in
large black letters, which the rain was already beginning to efface:

     “Good luck to Orange, to the Spaniard death.
     So Peter Quatgelat welcomes his guests.”

This tree, with its motley adornments, offered a by no means pleasant
spectacle, seen in the grey, cold, misty atmosphere of the rainy April
morning.

Ravens had alighted beside the doll swaying to and fro in the wind,
probably mistaking it for a man. They must have been by no means
teachable birds, for during the years the Spaniards had ruled in
Holland, the places of execution were never empty. They were screeching
as if in anger, but still remained perched on the tree, which they
probably mistook for a gibbet. The rest of the comical ornaments and
the thought of the nimble adventurer, who must have climbed up to fasten
them, formed a glaring and offensive contrast to the caricature of the
gallows.

Yet Nicolas laughed loudly, as he perceived the queer objects in the top
of the elm, and pointing upward, said:

“What kind of fruits are hanging there?”

But the next instant a chill ran down his back, for a raven perched on
the black doll and pecked so fiercely at it with its hard beak, that
bird and image swayed to and fro like a pendulum.

“What does this nonsense mean?” asked the baron, turning to the servant,
a bold-looking fellow, who rode behind him.

“It’s something like a tavern-sign,” replied the latter.
“Yesterday, when the sun was shining, it looked funny enough--but
to-day--b-r-r-r-it’s horrible.”

The nobleman’s eyes were not keen enough to read the inscription on the
placard. When Nicolas read it aloud to him, he muttered an oath, then
turned again to the servant, saying:

“And does this nonsense bring guests to the rascally host’s tavern?”

“Yes, my lord, and ‘pon my soul, it looked very comical yesterday, when
the ravens were not to be seen; a fellow couldn’t look at it without
laughing. Half Leyden was there, and we went with the crowd. There
was such an uproar on the grass-plot yonder. Dudeldum--Hubutt,
Hubutt--Dudeldum--fiddles squeaking and bag-pipes droning as if they
never would stop. The crazy throng shouted amidst the din; the noise
still rings in my ears. There was no end to the games and dancing. The
lads tossed their brown, blue and red-stockinged legs in the air, just
as the fiddle played--the coat-tails flew and, holding a girl clasped
in the right arm and a mug of beer high over their heads till the foam
spattered, the throng of men whirled round and round. There was as much
screaming and rejoicing as if every butter-cup in the grass had been
changed into a gold florin. But to-day--holy Florian--this is a rain!”

“It will do the things up there good,” exclaimed the baron. “The tinder
grows damp in such a torrent, or I’d take out my pistols and shoot the
shabby liberty hat and motley tatters off the tree.”

“That was the dancing ground,” said the man, pointing to a patch of
trampled grass.

“The people are possessed, perfectly possessed,” cried the baron,
“dancing and rejoicing to-day, and tomorrow the wind will blow the
felt-hat and flag from the tree, and instead of the black puppet they
themselves will come to the gallows. Steady roan, steady! The hail
frightens the beasts. Unbuckle the portmanteau, Gerrit, and give your
young master a blanket.”

“Yes, my lord. But wouldn’t it be better for you to go in here until the
shower is over? Holy Florian!

“Just see that piece of ice in your horse’s mane! It’s as large as
a pigeon’s egg. Two horses are already standing under the shed, and
Quatgelat’s beer isn’t bad.” The baron glanced inquiringly at his son.

“Let us go in,” replied Nicolas; “we shall get to the Hague early
enough. See how poor Balthasar is shivering! Henrica says he’s a white
boy painted; but if she could see how well he keeps his color in this
weather, she would take it back.”

Herr Van Wibisma turned his dripping, smoking steed, frightened by
the hail-stones, towards the house, and in a few minutes crossed the
threshold of the inn with his son.



CHAPTER VI.

A current of warm air, redolent of beer and food, met the travellers
as they entered the large, low room, dimly lighted by the tiny windows,
scarcely more than loop-holes, pierced in two sides. The tap-room itself
looked like the cabin of a ship. Ceiling and floor, chairs and tables,
were made of the same dark-brown wood that covered the walls, along
which beds were ranged like berths.

The host, with many bows, came forward to receive the aristocratic
guests, and led them to the fire-place, where huge pieces of peat were
glimmering. The heat they sent forth answered several purposes at the
same time. It warmed the air, lighted a portion of the room, which
was very dark in rainy weather, and served to cook three fowl that,
suspended from a thin iron bar over the fire, were already beginning to
brown.

As the new guests approached the hearth, an old woman, who had been
turning the spit, pushed a white cat from her lap and rose.

The landlord tossed on a bench several garments spread over the backs
of two chairs to dry, and hung in their place the dripping cloaks of the
baron and his son.

While the elder Wibisma was ordering something hot to drink for himself
and servants, Nicolas led the black page to the fire.

The shivering boy crouched on the floor beside the ashes, and stretched
now his soaked feet, shod in red morocco, and now his stiffened fingers
to the blaze.

The father and son took their seats at a table, over which the
maid-servant had spread a cloth. The baron was inclined to enter into
conversation about the decorated tree with the landlord, an over-civil,
pock-marked dwarf, whose clothes were precisely the same shade of brown
as the wood in his tap-room; but refrained from doing so because two
citizens of Leyden, one of whom was well known to him, sat at a short
distance from his table, and he did not wish to be drawn into a quarrel
in a place like this.

After Nicolas had also glanced around the tap-room, he touched his
father, saying in a low tone:

“Did you notice the men yonder? The younger one--he’s lifting the cover
of the tankard now--is the organist who released me from the boys and
gave me his cloak yesterday.”

“The one yonder?” asked the nobleman. “A handsome young fellow. He might
be taken for an artist or something of that kind. Here, landlord, who
is the gentleman with brown hair and large eyes, talking to Allertssohn,
the fencing-master?”

“It’s Herr Wilhelm, younger son of old Herr Cornelius, Receiver General,
a player or musician, as they call them.”

“Eh, eh,” cried the baron. “His father is one of my old Leyden
acquaintances. He was a worthy, excellent man before the craze for
liberty turned people’s heads. The youth, too, has a face pleasant to
look at.

“There is something pure about it--something-it’s hard to say,
something--what do you think, Nico? Doesn’t he look like our Saint
Sebastian? Shall I speak to him and thank him for his kindness?”

The baron, without waiting for his son, whom he treated as an equal,
to reply, rose to give expression to his friendly feelings towards the
musician, but this laudable intention met with an unexpected obstacle.

The man, whom the baron had called the fencing-master Allertssohn, had
just perceived that the “Glippers” cloaks were hanging by the fire,
while his friend’s and his own were flung on a bench. This fact seemed
to greatly irritate the Leyden burgher; for as the baron rose, he pushed
his own chair violently back, bent his muscular body forward, rested
both arms on the edge of the table opposite to him and, with a jerking
motion, turned his soldierly face sometimes towards the baron, and
sometimes towards the landlord. At last he shouted loudly:

“Peter Quatgelat--you villain, you! What ails you, you, miserable
hunchback!--Who gives you a right to toss our cloaks into a corner?”

“Yours, Captain,” stammered the host, “were already--”

“Hold your tongue, you fawning knave!” thundered the other in so loud a
tone and such excitement, that the long grey moustache on his upper lip
shook, and the thick beard on his chin trembled. “Hold your tongue! We
know better. Jove’s thunder! Nobleman’s cloaks are favored here. They’re
of Spanish cut. That exactly suits the Glippers’ faces. Good Dutch cloth
is thrown into the corner. Ho, ho, Brother Crooklegs, we’ll put you on
parade.”

“Pray, most noble Captain--”

“I’ll blow away your most noble, you worthless scamp, you arrant rascal!
First come, first served, is the rule in Holland, and has been ever
since the days of Adam and Eve. Prick up your ears, Crooklegs! If my
‘most noble’ cloak, and Herr Wilhelm’s too, are not hanging in their old
places before I count twenty, something will happen here that won’t suit
you. One-two-three--”

The landlord cast a timid, questioning glance at the nobleman, and as
the latter shrugged his shoulders and said audibly: “There is probably
room for more than two cloaks at the fire,” Quatgelat took the Leyden
guests’ wraps from the bench and hung them on two chairs, which he
pushed up to the mantel-piece.

While this was being done, the fencing-master slowly continued to count.
By the time he reached twenty the landlord had finished his task, yet
the irate captain still gave him no peace, but said:

“Now our reckoning, man. Wind and storm are far from pleasant, but
I know even worse company. There’s room enough at the fire for four
cloaks, and in Holland for all the animals in Noah’s ark, except
Spaniards and the allies of Spain. Deuce take it, all the bile in my
liver is stirred. Come to the horses with me, Herr Wilhelm, or there’ll
be mischief.”

The fencing-master, while uttering the last words, stared angrily at
the nobleman with his prominent eyes, which even under ordinary
circumstances, always looked as keen as if they had something marvellous
to examine.

Wibisma pretended not to hear the provoking words, and, as the
fencing-master left the room, walked calmly, with head erect, towards
the musician, bowed courteously, and thanked him for the kindness he had
shown his son the day before.

“You are not in the least indebted to me,” replied Wilhelm
Corneliussohn. “I helped the young nobleman, because it always has an
ill look when numbers attack one.”

“Then allow me to praise this opinion,” replied the baron.

“Opinion,” repeated the musician with a subtle smile, drawing a few
notes on the table.

The baron watched his fingers silently a short time, then advanced
nearer the young man, asking:

“Must everything now relate to political dissensions?”

“Yes,” replied Wilhelm firmly, turning his face with a rapid movement
towards the older man. “In these times ‘yes,’ twenty times ‘yes.’ You
wouldn’t do well to discuss opinions with me, Herr Matanesse.”

“Every man,” replied the nobleman, shrugging his shoulders, “every
man of course believes his own opinion the right one, yet he ought to
respect the views of those who think differently.”

“No, my lord,” cried the musician. “In these times there is but one
opinion for us. I wish to share nothing, not even a drink at the table,
with any man who has Holland blood, and feels differently. Excuse me, my
lord; my travelling companion, as you have unfortunately learned, has an
impatient temper and doesn’t like to wait.”

Wilhelm bowed distantly, waved his hand to Nicolas, approached the
chimney-piece, took the half-dried cloaks on his arm, tossed a coin
on the table and, holding in his hands a covered cage in which several
birds were fluttering, left the room.

The baron gazed after him in silence. The simple words and the young
man’s departure aroused painful emotions. He believed he desired what
was right, yet at this moment a feeling stole over him that a stain
rested on the cause he supported.

It is more endurable to be courted than avoided, and thus an expression
of deep annoyance rested on the nobleman’s pleasant features as he
returned to his son.

Nicolas had not lost a single word uttered by the organist, and the
blood left his ruddy cheeks as he was forced to see this man, whose
appearance had especially won his young heart, turn his back upon his
father as if he were a dishonorable man to be avoided.

The words, with which Janus Dousa had left him the day before, returned
to his mind with great force, and when the baron again seated himself
opposite him, the boy raised his eyes and said hesitatingly, but with
touching earnestness and sincere anxiety:

“Father, what does that mean? Father--are they so wholly wrong, if they
would rather be Hollanders than Spaniards?”

Wibisma looked at his son with surprise and displeasure, and because he
felt his own firmness wavering, and a blustering word often does good
service where there is lack of possibility or inclination to contend
against reasons, he exclaimed more angrily than he had spoken to his son
for years:

“Are you, too, beginning to relish the bait with which Orange lures
simpletons? Another word of that kind, and I’ll show you how malapert
lads are treated. Here, landlord, what’s the meaning of that nonsense on
yonder tree?”

“The people, my lord, the Leyden fools are to blame for the mischief,
not I. They decked the tree out in that ridiculous way, when the troops
stationed in the city during the siege retired. I keep this house as a
tenant of old Herr Van der Does, and dare not have any opinions of my
own, for people must live, but, as truly as I hope for salvation, I’m
loyal to King Philip.”

“Until the Leyden burghers come out here again,” replied Wibisma
bitterly. “Did you keep this inn during the siege?”

“Yes, my lord, the Spaniards had no cause to complain of me, and if a
poor man’s services are not too insignificant for you, they are at your
disposal.”

“Ah! ha!” muttered the baron, gazing attentively at the landlord’s
disagreeable face, whose little eyes glittered very craftily, then
turning to Nicolas, said:

“Go and watch the blackbirds in the window yonder a little while, my
son, I have something to say to the host.”

The youth instantly obeyed and as, instead of looking at the birds, he
gazed after the two enthusiastic supporters of Holland’s liberty, who
were riding along the road leading to Delft, remembered the simile of
fetters that drag men down, and saw rising before his mental vision
the glitter of the gold chain King Philip had sent his father, Nicolas
involuntarily glanced towards him as he stood whispering eagerly with
the landlord. Now he even laid his hand on his shoulder. Was it right
for him to hold intercourse with a man whom he must despise at heart?
Or was he--he shuddered, for the word “traitor,” which one of the
school-boys had shouted in his ears during the quarrel before the
church, returned to his memory.

When the rain grew less violent, the travellers left the inn. The baron
allowed the hideous landlord to kiss his hand at parting, but Nicolas
would not suffer him to touch his.

Few words were exchanged between father and son during the remainder of
their ride to the Hague, but the musician and the fencing-master were
less silent on the way to Delft.

Wilhelm had modestly, as beseemed the younger man, suggested that his
companion had expressed his hostile feelings towards the nobleman too
openly.

“True, perfectly true,” replied Allertssohn, whom his friends called
“Allerts.” “Very true! Temper oh! temper! You don’t suspect, Herr
Wilhelm--But we’ll let it pass.”

“No, speak, Meister.”

“You’ll think no better of me, if I do.”

“Then let us talk of something else.”

“No, Wilhelm. I needn’t be ashamed, no one will take me for a coward.”

The musician laughed, exclaiming: “You a coward! How many Spaniards has
your Brescian sword killed?”

“Wounded, wounded, sir, far oftener than killed,” replied the other. “If
the devil challenges me I shall ask: Foils, sir, or Spanish swords? But
there’s one person I do fear, and that’s my best and at the same time
my worst friend, a Netherlander, like yourself, the man who rides here
beside you. Yes, when rage seizes upon me, when my beard begins to
tremble, my small share of sense flies away as fast as your doves when
you let them go. You don’t know me, Wilhelm.”

“Don’t I? How often must one see you in command and visit you in the
fencing-room?”

“Pooh, pooh--there I’m as quiet as the water in yonder ditch--but when
anything goes against the grain, when--how shall I explain it to you,
without similes?”

“Go on.”

“For instance, when I am obliged to see a sycophant treated as if he
were Sir Upright--”

“So that vexes you greatly?”

“Vexes? No! Then I grow as savage as a tiger, and I ought not to be so,
I ought not. Roland, my foreman, probably likes--”

“Meister, Meister, your beard is beginning to tremble already!”

“What did the Glippers think, when their aristocratic cloaks--”

“The landlord took yours and mine from the fire entirely on his own
responsibility.”

“I don’t care! The crook-legged ape did it to honor the Spanish
sycophant. It enraged me, it was intolerable.”

“You didn’t keep your wrath to yourself, and I was surprised to see how
patiently the baron bore your insults.”

“That’s just it, that’s it!” cried the fencing-master, while his beard
began to twitch violently. “That’s what drove me out of the tavern,
that’s why I took to my heels. That--that--Roland, my fore man.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“Don’t you, don’t you? How should you; but I’ll explain. When you’re
as old as I am, young man, you’ll experience it too. There are few
perfectly sound trees in the forest, few horses without a blemish, few
swords without a stain, and scarcely a man who has passed his fortieth
year that has not a worm in his breast. Some gnaw slightly, others
torture with sharp fangs, and mine--mine.--Do you want to cast a glance
in here?”

The fencing-master struck his broad chest as he uttered these words and,
without waiting for his companion’s reply, continued:

“You know me and my life, Herr Wilhelm. What do I do, what do I
practise? Only chivalrous work.

“My life is based upon the sword. Do you know a better blade or surer
hand than mine? Do my soldiers obey me? Have I spared my blood in
fighting before the red walls and towers yonder? No, by my fore man
Roland, no, no, a thousand times no.”

“Who denies it, Meister Allerts? But tell me, what do you mean by your
cry: Roland, my fore man?”

“Another time, Wilhelm; you mustn’t interrupt me now. Hear my story
about where the worm hides in me. So once more: What I do, the calling I
follow, is knightly work, yet when a Wibisma, who learned how to use his
sword from my father, treats me ill and stirs up my bile, if I should
presume to challenge him, as would be my just right, what would he do?
Laugh and ask: ‘What will the passado cost, Fencing-master Allerts? Have
you polished rapiers?’ Perhaps he wouldn’t even answer at all, and we
saw just now how he acts. His glance slipped past me like an eel, and he
had wax in his ears. Whether I reproach, or a cur yelps at him, is all
the same to his lordship. If only a Renneberg or Brederode had been in
my place just now, how quickly Wibisma’s sword would have flown from
its sheath, for he understands how to fight and is no coward. But I--I?
Nobody would willingly allow himself to be struck in the face, yet so
surely as my father was a brave man, even the worst insult could be more
easily borne, than the feeling of being held in too slight esteem to be
able to offer an affront. You see, Wilhelm, when the Glipper looked past
me--”

“Your beard lost its calmness.”

“It’s all very well for you to jest, you don’t know--”

“Yes, yes, Herr Allerts; I understand you perfectly.”

“And do you also understand, why I took myself and my sword out of doors
so quickly?”

“Perfectly; but please stop a moment with me now. The doves are
fluttering so violently; they want air.” The fencing-master stopped his
steed, and while Wilhelm was removing the dripping cloth from the little
cage that rested between him and his horse’s neck, said:

“How can a man trouble himself about such gentle little creatures? If
you want to diminish, in behalf of feathered folk, the time given to
music, tame falcons, that’s a knightly craft, and I can teach you.”

“Let my doves alone,” replied Wilhelm. “They are not so harmless as
people suppose, and have done good service in many a war, which is
certainly chivalrous pastime. Remember Haarlem. There, it’s beginning
to pour again. If my cloak were only not so short; I would like to cover
the doves with it.”

“You certainly look like Goliath in David’s garments.”

“It’s my scholar’s cloak; I put my other on young Wibisma’s shoulders
yesterday.”

“The Spanish green-finch?”

“I told you about the boys’ brawl.”

“Yes, yes. And the monkey kept your cloak?”

“You came for me and wouldn’t wait. They probably sent it back soon
after our departure.”

“And their lordships expect thanks because the young nobleman accepted
it!”

“No, no; the baron expressed his gratitude.”

“But that doesn’t make your cape any longer. Take my cloak, Wilhelm.
I’ve no doves to shelter, and my skin is thicker than yours.”



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 valiant 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 had 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 be, 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 how 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-cote. 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
siege 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.”



CHAPTER XIII.

On the afternoon of the sixteenth of May, Burgomaster Van der Werff’s
wife was examining chests and boxes. Her husband was at the town-hall,
but had told her that towards evening, the Prince’s commissioner, Herr
Dietrich Van Bronkhorst, the two Seigneurs von Nordwyk, the city clerk
Van Hout, and several other heads of municipal affairs and friends of
freedom would meet at his house for a confidential consultation. Maria
had the charge of providing the gentlemen with a nice collation, wine,
and many similar cares.

This invitation had a very cheering influence on the young wife. It
pleased her to be able to play the hostess, according to the meaning
of the word in her parents’ house. How long she had been debarred from
hearing any grave, earnest conversation. True, there had been no lack of
visitors: the friends and relatives of her husband’s family, who called
upon her and talked with Barbara, often begged her to come to their
houses; among them were many who showed themselves kindly disposed
and could not help respecting her worth, but not one to whom she was
attracted by any warm affection. Maria, whose life was certainly not
crowded with amusements, dreaded their coming, and when they did call,
endured their presence as an unavoidable evil. The worthy matrons were
all much older than herself and, while sitting over their cakes, stewed
fruit, and hippocras, knitting, spinning or netting, talked of the hard
times during the siege, of the cares of children and servants,
washing and soap-making, or subjected to a rigid scrutiny the numerous
incomprehensible and reprehensible acts other women were said to have
committed, to be committing, or to desire to commit, until Maria’s heart
grew heavy and her lonely room seemed to her a peaceful asylum.

She could find words only when the conversation turned upon the misery
of the country and the sacred duty of bearing every privation a second
time, if necessary for the freedom of the nation, and then she gladly
listened to the sturdy women, who evidently meant what they said; but
when the hours were filled with idle gossip, it caused her actual pain.
Yet she dared not avoid it and was obliged to wait until the departure
of the last acquaintance; for after she had ventured to retire early
several times, Barbara kindly warned her against it, not concealing that
she had had great difficulty in defending her against the reproach of
pride and incivility.

“Such chat,” said the widow, “is pleasant and strengthens the courage,
and whoever leaves the visitors while they are together, can pray the
Lord for a favorable report.”

One lady in Leyden pleased the burgomaster’s wife. This was the wife
of Herr Van Hout, the city clerk, but the latter rarely appeared in
company, for though a delicate, aristocratic-looking woman, she was
obliged to be busy from morning till night, to keep the children and
household in good order on a narrow income.

Maria felt brighter and happier than she had done for many days, as
she stood before the shelf that contained the table-furniture and the
cupboard where the silver was kept. All the handsome dishes belonging to
the house were bright and shining, free from every grain of dust, so too
were the white linen cloths, trimmed with lace. She selected what she
needed, but many of the pewter, glass, and silver articles did not
please her; for they did not match, and she found scratches and cracks
on numerous pieces.

When her mother had begun to prepare her wedding-outfit, Peter expressed
a desire that in these hard times the money should be kept and no
useless things purchased. There was an abundance of household articles
of every kind in his home, and he would have thought it wrong to buy
even a plate. In fact there was no lack of anything on the shelves
and cupboards, but she had not selected and bought them herself;
they belonged to her, but not entirely, and what was worse, her eyes,
accustomed to prettier things, could find no pleasure in these dull,
scratched pewter plates, these pitchers, cups and tankards painted in
coarse figures with glaring colors. The clumsy glass, too, did not suit
her taste, and, while looking it over and selecting what was necessary,
she could not help thinking of her recently-wedded friends, who, with
sparkling eyes, had showed her their spick-and-span new table-furniture
as proudly and happily, as if each piece had been their own work. But,
even with the articles she possessed, a table could be set very prettily
and daintily.

She had gone out with Adrian before dinner to cut some flowers in the
garden by the city wall, and also gathered some delicate grasses in the
meadow before the gate. These gifts of May were now tastefully arranged,
mixed with peacock-feathers, and placed in vases, and she was delighted
to see even the clumsiest dishes win a graceful aspect from the garlands
she twined around them. Adrian watched her in astonishment. He would
not have marvelled if, under her hands, the dark dining-room had been
transformed into a hall of mother-of-pearl and crystal.

When the table was laid, Peter returned home for a moment. He was going
to ride out to Valkenburg with Captain Allertssohn, Janus Dousa,
and other gentlemen, to inspect the fortifications before his guests
appeared. As he passed through the dining-room, he waved his hand to his
wife and glancing over the table, said:

“This decoration was not necessary, least of all the flowers. We
expect to hold a serious consultation, and you have arranged a
wedding-banquet.”

Perceiving that Maria cast down her eyes, he exclaimed kindly:

“But it can remain so for aught I care,” and left the room.

Maria stood irresolutely before her work. Bitter emotions were again
beginning to stir in her mind, and she was already extending her hand
defiantly towards one particularly beautiful vase, when Adrian raised
his large eyes to her face, exclaiming in a tone of earnest entreaty:

“No, mother, you mustn’t do that, it looks quite too pretty.”

Maria smiled, passed her hand over the boy’s curls, took two cakes from
a dish, gave them to him, and said:

“One for you, the other for Bessie; our flowers shall stay.”

Adrian hurried off with the sweet gifts, but Maria glanced over the
table once more, saying:

“Peter never wants anything but what is absolutely necessary; yet
that surely isn’t all, or God would have made all the birds with grey
feathers.”

After helping Barbara in the kitchen, she went to her own room. There
she arranged her hair, put a fresh, beautifully-starched ruff around her
neck and carefully-plaited lace in the open bosom of her dress, but wore
her every-day gown, for her husband did not wish to give the assembly at
his house a festal aspect.

Just as she had put the last gold pin in her hair, and was considering
whether the place of honor at the table belonged to Herr Van Bronkhorst,
as representative of the Prince, or to the older Herr von Nordwyk,
Trautchen knocked at the door and informed her, that Doctor Bontius
wished to see the burgomaster on urgent business. The maid-servant had
told the physician that her master had ridden out, but he would not be
put off, and asked permission to see her mistress.

Maria instantly went to Peter’s room. The doctor seemed to be in haste.
His only greeting was to point with the gold head of his long staff
towards the peaked black hat, that never left his head, even beside the
sickbed, and asked in a curt, hurried tone:

“When will Meister Peter come home?”

“In an hour,” replied Maria. “Sit down, Doctor.”

“Another time. It will keep me too long to wait for your husband. After
all, you can come with me even without his consent.”

“Certainly; but we are expecting visitors.”

“Yes. If I find time, I shall come too. The gentlemen can do without me,
but you are necessary to the sick person to whom I wish to take you.”

“I have no idea of whom you are speaking.”

“Haven’t you? Then once more, it is of some one who is suffering, and
that will be enough for you at first.”

“And you think I could--”

“You can do far more than you know. Barbara is attending to affairs in
the kitchen, and now I tell you again: You must help a sufferer.”

“But, Doctor--”

“I must beg you to hurry, for my time is limited. Do you wish to make
yourself useful; yes or no?” The door of the dining-room had remained
open. Maria again glanced at the table, and all the pleasures she had
anticipated this evening passed through her mind. But as the doctor was
preparing to go, she stopped him, saying:

“I will come.”

The manners of this blunt, but unselfish and clever man were familiar to
Maria who, without waiting for a reply, brought her shawl, and led
the way downstairs. As they passed by the kitchen, Bontius called to
Barbara:

“Tell Meister Peter, I have taken his wife to see Fraulein Van
Hoogstraten in Nobelstrasse.”

Maria could scarcely keep up with the doctor’s rapid strides and had
some difficulty in understanding him, as in broken sentences he told
her that all the Glipper friends of the Hoogstraten family had left the
city, the old Fraulein was dead, the servants had run away from fear of
the plague, which had no existence, and Henrica was now deserted. She
had been very ill with a severe fever, but was much better during the
past few days. “Misfortune has taken up its abode in the Glipper nest,”
 he added. “The scythe-man did the old lady a favor when he took her. The
French maid, a feeble nonentity, held out bravely, but after watching
a few nights broke down entirely and was to have been carried to St.
Catharine’s hospital, but the Italian steward, who is not a bad fellow,
objected and had her taken to a Catholic laundress. He has followed to
nurse her. No one is left in the deserted house to attend to the young
lady, except Sister Gonzaga, a good little nun, one of the three who
were allowed to remain in the old convent near you, but early this
morning, to cap the climax of misfortune, the kind old woman scalded
her fingers while heating a bath. The Catholic priest has faithfully
remained at his post, but what can we men do in nursing the sick girl!
You doubtless now suspect why I brought you with me. You ought not and
cannot become the stranger’s nurse permanently; but if the young lady is
not to sink after all, she must now have some face about her which she
can love, and God has blessed you with one. Look at the sick girl, talk
with her, and if you are what I believe you--but here we are.”

The air of the dark entrance hall of the Hoogstraten residence was
filled with a strong odor of musk. The old lady’s death had been
instantly announced at the town-hall by Doctor Bontius’ representative,
and an armed man was marching up and down in the hall, keeping guard,
who told the physician that Herr Van Hout had already been here with his
men and put seals on all the doors.

On the staircase Maria seized her guide’s arm in terror; for through an
open door-way of the second story, to which she was ascending with her
companion, she saw in the dusk a shapeless figure, moving strangely
hither and thither, up and down. Her tone was by no means confident as,
pointing towards it with her finger, she asked the doctor:

“What is that?”

The physician had paused with her, and seeing the strange object to
which the burgomaster’s wife pointed, recoiled a step himself. But
the cool-headed man quickly perceived the real nature of the ghostly
apparition, and leading Maria forward exclaimed smiling:

“What in the world are you doing there on the floor, Father Damianus?”

“I am scouring the boards,” replied the priest quietly.

“Right is right,” cried the doctor indignantly. “You are too good for
maid-servant’s work, Father Damianus, especially when there is plenty
of money without an owner here in the house, and we can find as many
scrubbing-women as we want to-morrow.”

“But not to-day, doctor; and the young lady won’t stay in yonder room
any longer. You ordered her to go to sleep yourself, and Sister Gonzaga
says she won’t close her eyes so long as she is next door to the
corpse.”

“Then Van Hout’s men ought to have carried her on her bed into the old
lady’s beautiful sitting-room.”

“That’s sealed, and so are all the other handsome chambers on this
story. The men were obliging and tried to find scrub-women, but the poor
things are afraid of the plague.”

“Such rumors grow like wire-grass,” cried the doctor. “Nobody sows it,
yet who can uproot it when it is once here?”

“Neither you nor I,” replied the priest. “The young lady must be brought
into this room at once; but it looked neglected, so I’ve just set it to
rights. It will do the invalid good, and the exercise can’t hurt me.”
 With these words Father Damianus rose, and seeing Maria, said:

“You have brought a new nurse? That’s right. I need not praise Sister
Gonzaga, for you know her; but I assure you Fraulein Henrica won’t allow
her to remain with her long, and I shall leave this house as soon as the
funeral is over.”

“You have done your duty; but what does this news about the Sister
mean?” cried the physician angrily. “I’d rather have your old Gonzaga
with her burnt fingers than--what has happened?”

The priest approached and, hastily casting a side glance at the
burgomaster’s wife, exclaimed:

“She speaks through her nose, and Fraulein Henrica said just now it made
her ache to hear her talk; I must keep her away.”

Doctor Bontius reflected a moment, and then said: “There are eyes that
cannot endure a glare of light, and perhaps certain tones may seem
unbearable to irritated ears. Frau Van der Werff, you have been kept
waiting a long time, please follow me.”

It had grown dark. The curtains of the sick-room were lowered and a
small lamp, burning behind a screen, shed but a feeble light.

The doctor approached the bed, felt Henrica’s pulse, said a few words in
a low tone to prepare her for her visitor, and then took the lamp to see
how the invalid looked.

Maria now beheld a pale face with regular outline, whose dark eyes,
in their size and lustre, formed a striking contrast to the emaciated
cheeks and sunken features of the sick girl.

After old Sister Gonzaga had restored the lamp to its former place, the
physician said:

“Excellent! Now, Sister, go and change the bandage on your arm and lie
down.” Then he beckoned Maria to approach.

Henrica’s face made a strange impression upon the burgomaster’s wife.
She thought her beautiful, but the large eyes and firmly-shut lips
seemed peculiar, rather than attractive. Yet she instantly obeyed the
physician’s summons, approached the bed, said kindly that she had been
glad to come to stay with her a short time, and asked what she desired.

At these words, Henrica raised herself and with a sigh of relief,
exclaimed:

“That does me good! Thanks, Doctor. That’s a human voice again. If you
want to please me, Frau Van der Werff keep on talking, no matter what
you say. Please come and sit down here. With Sister Gonzaga’s hands,
your voice, and the doctor’s--yes, I will say with Doctor Bontius’
candor, it won’t be difficult to recover entirely.”

“Good, good,” murmured the physician. “Kind Sister Gonzaga’s injuries
are not serious and she will stay with you, but when it is time for you
to sleep, you will be moved elsewhere. You can remain here an hour, Frau
Van der Werff, but that will be enough for to-day. I’ll go to your house
and send the servant for you with a lantern.”

When the two ladies were left alone together, Maria said:

“You set great value on the sound of voices; so do I, perhaps more than
is desirable. True, I have never had any serious illness--”

“This is my first one too,” replied Henrica, “but I know now what it
is to be compelled to submit to everything we don’t like, and feel with
two-fold keenness everything that is repulsive. It is better to die than
suffer.”

“Your aunt is dead,” said Maria sympathizingly.

“She died early this morning. We had little in common save the tie of
blood.”

“Are your parents no longer living?”

“Only my father; but what of that?”

“He will rejoice over your recovery; Doctor Bontius says you will soon
be perfectly well.”

“I think so too,” replied Henrica confidently, and then said softly,
without heeding Maria’s presence: “There is one beautiful thing. When I
am well again, I shall once more--Do you practise music?”

“Yes, dear Fraulein.”

“Not merely as a pastime, but because you feel you cannot live without
it?”

“You must keep quiet, Fraulein. Music;--yes, I think my life would be
far poorer without it than it is.”

“Do you sing?”

“Very seldom here; but when a girl in Delft we sung every day.”

“Of course you were the soprano?”

“Yes, Fraulein.”

“Let the Fraulein drop, and call me Henrica.”

“With all my heart, if you will call me Maria, or Frau Maria.”

“I’ll try. Don’t you think we could practise many a song together?”

Just as these words were uttered, Sister Gonzaga entered the room,
saying that the wife of Receiver General Cornelius had called to ask if
she could do anything for the sick lady.

“What does that mean?” asked Henrica angrily. “I don’t know the woman.”

“She is the mother of Herr Wilhelm, the musician,” said the young wife.

“Oh!” exclaimed Henrica. “Shall I admit her, Maria?”

The latter shook her head and answered firmly “No, Fraulein Henrica.
It is not good for you to have more than one visitor at this hour, and
besides--”

“Well?”

“She is an excellent woman, but I fear her blunt manner, heavy step, and
loud voice would not benefit you just now. Let me go to her and ask what
she desires.”

“Receive her kindly, and tell her to remember me to her son. I am not
very delicate, but I see you understand me; such substantial fare would
hardly suit me just now.”

After Maria had performed her errand and talked with Henrica for a time,
Frau Van Hout was announced. Her husband, who had been present when the
doors of the house of death were sealed, had told her about the invalid
and she came to see if the poor girl needed anything.

“You might receive her,” said Maria, “for she would surely please you;
but the bell is ringing again, and you have talked enough for to-day.
Try to sleep now. I’ll go home with Frau Van Hout and come again
tomorrow, if agreeable to you.”

“Come, pray come!” exclaimed the young girl.

“Do you want to say anything more to me?”

“I should like to do so, Fraulein Henrica. You ought not to stay in this
sad house. There is plenty of room in ours. Will you be our guest until
your father--”

“Yes, take me home with you!” cried the invalid, tears sparkling in her
eyes. “Take me away from here, only take me away--and I will be grateful
to you all my life.”



CHAPTER XIV.

Maria had not mounted the stairs so joyously for weeks as she did
to-day. She would have sung, had it been seemly, though she felt a
little anxious; for perhaps her husband would not think she had done
right to invite, on her own authority, a stranger, especially a sick
stranger, who was a friend of Spain, to be their guest.

As she passed the dining-room, she heard the gentlemen consulting
together. Then Peter began to speak. She noticed the pleasant depth of
his voice, and said to herself that Henrica would like to hear it. A few
minutes after she entered the apartment, to greet her husband’s guests,
who were also hers. Joyous excitement and the rapid walk through the air
of the May evening, which, though the day had been warm, was still cool,
had flushed her cheeks and, as she modestly crossed the threshold with
a respectful greeting, which nevertheless plainly revealed the pleasure
afforded by the visit of such guests, she looked so winning and lovely,
that not a single person present remained unmoved by the sight. The
older Herr Van der Does clapped Peter on the shoulder and then struck
the palm of his hand with his fist, as if to say: “I won’t question
that!” Janus Dousa whispered gaily to Van Hout, who was a good Latin
scholar:

“Oculi sunt in amore duces.”

Captain Allertssohn started up and raised his hand to his hat with
a military salute; Van Bronkhorst, the Prince’s Commissioner, gave
expression to his feelings in a courtly bow, Doctor Bontius smiled
contentedly, like a person who has successfully accomplished a hazardous
enterprise, and Peter proudly and happily strove to attract his wife’s
attention to himself. But this was not to be, for as soon as Maria
perceived that she was the mark for so many glances, she lowered her
eyes with a deep blush, and then said far more firmly than would have
been expected from her timid manner:

“Welcome, gentlemen! My greeting comes late, but I would have gladly
offered it earlier.”

“I can bear witness to that,” cried Doctor Bontius, rising and shaking
hands with Maria more cordially than ever before. Then he motioned
towards Peter, and exclaimed to the assembled guests: “Will you excuse
the burgomaster for a moment?”

As soon as he stood apart with the husband and wife at the door, he
began:

“You have invited a new visitor to the house, Frau Van der Werff; I
won’t drink another drop of Malmsey, if I’m mistaken.”

“How do you know?” asked Maria gaily. “I see it in your face.”

“And the young lady shall be cordially welcome to me,” added Peter.

“Then you know?” asked Maria.

“The doctor did not conceal his conjecture from me.”

“Why yes, the sick girl will be glad to come to us, and to-morrow--”

“No, I’ll send for her to-day,” interrupted Peter. “To-day? But dear
me! It’s so late; perhaps she is asleep, the gentlemen are here, and our
spare bed--” exclaimed Maria, glancing disapprovingly and irresolutely
from the physician to her husband.

“Calm yourself; child,” replied Peter. “The doctor has ordered a covered
litter from St. Catharine’s hospital, Jan and one of the city-guard will
carry her, and Barbara has nothing more to do in the kitchen and is now
preparing her own chamber for her.”

“And,” chimed in the physician, “perhaps the sick girl may find sleep
here. Besides, it will be far more agreeable to her pride to be carried
through the streets unseen, under cover of the darkness.”

“Yes, yes,” said Maria sadly, “that may be so; but I had been
thinking--People ought not to do anything too hastily.”

“Will you be glad to receive the young lady as a guest?” asked Peter.

“Why, certainly.”

“Then we won’t do things by halves, but show her all the kindness in our
power. There is Barbara beckoning; the litter has come, Doctor. Guide
the nocturnal procession in God’s name, but don’t keep us waiting too
long.”

The burgomaster returned to his seat, and Bontius left the room.

Maria followed him. In the entry, he laid his hand on her arm and asked:

“Will you know next time, what I expect from you?”

“No,” replied the burgomaster’s wife, in a tone which sounded gay,
though it revealed the disappointment she felt; “no--but you have
taught me that you are a man who understands how to spoil one’s best
pleasures.”

“I will procure you others,” replied the doctor laughing and descended
the stairs. He was Peter’s oldest friend, and had made many objections
to the burgomaster’s marriage with a girl so many years his junior, in
these evil times, but to-day he showed himself satisfied with Van der
Werff’s choice.

Maria returned to the guests, filled and offered glasses of wine to
the gentlemen, and then went to her sister-in-law’s room, to help her
prepare everything for the sick girl as well as possible. She did not do
so unwillingly, but it seemed as if she would have gone to the work with
far greater pleasure early the next morning.

Barbara’s spacious chamber looked out upon the court-yard. No sound
could be heard there of the conversation going on between the gentlemen
in the dining-room, yet it was by no means quiet among these men who,
though animated by the same purpose, differed widely about the ways and
means of bringing it to a successful issue.

There they sat, the brave sons of a little nation, the stately leaders
of a small community, poor in numbers and means of defence, which had
undertaken to bid defiance to the mightiest power and finest armies of
its age. They knew that the storm-clouds, which had been threatening for
weeks on the horizon, would rise faster and faster, mass together,
and burst in a furious tempest over Leyden, for Herr Van der Werff had
summoned them to his house because a letter addressed to himself and
Commissioner Van Bronkhorst by the Prince, contained tidings, that the
Governor of King Philip of Spain had ordered Senor del Campo Valdez
to besiege Leyden a second time and reduce it to subjection. They were
aware, that William of Orange could not raise an army to divert the
hostile troops from their aim or relieve the city before the lapse of
several months; they had experienced how little aid was to be expected
from the Queen of England and the Protestant Princes of Germany, while
the horrible fate of Haarlem, a neighboring and more powerful city,
rose as a menacing example before their eyes. But they were conscious of
serving a good cause, relied upon the faith, courage and statesmanship
of Orange, were ready to die rather than allow themselves to be enslaved
body and soul by the Spanish tyrant. Their belief in God’s justice was
deep and earnest, and each individual possessed a joyous confidence in
his own resolute, manly strength.

In truth, the men who sat around the table, so daintily decked with
flowers by a woman’s hand, understood how to empty the large fluted
goblets so nimbly, that jug after jug of Peter’s Malmsey and Rhine wine
were brought up from the cellar, the men who made breaches in the round
pies and huge joints of meat, juicier and more nourishing than any
country except theirs can furnish--did not look as if pallid fear had
brought them together.

The hat is the sign of liberty, and the free man keeps his hat on. So
some of the burgomaster’s guests sat at the board with covered heads,
and how admirably the high plaited cap of dark-red velvet, with its rich
ornaments of plumes, suited the fresh old face of the senior Seigneur of
Nordwyk and the clever countenance of his nephew Janus Dousa; how well
the broad-brimmed hat with blue and orange ostrich-feathers--the colors
of the House of Orange--became the waving locks of the young Seigneur
of Warmond, Jan Van Duivenvoorde. How strongly marked and healthful were
the faces of the other men assembled here! Few countenances lacked ruddy
color, and strong vitality, clear intellect, immovable will and firm
resolution flashed from many blue eyes around the table. Even the
black-robed magistrates, whose plaited ruffs and high white collars
were very becoming, did not look as if the dust of documents had injured
their health. The moustaches and beards on the lips of each, gave them
also a manly appearance. They were all joyously ready to sacrifice
themselves and their property for a great spiritual prize, yet looked as
if they had a firm foothold in the midst of life; their hale, sensible
faces showed no traces of enthusiasm; only the young Seigneur of
Warmond’s eyes sparkled with a touch of this feeling, while Janus
Dousa’s glance often seemed turned within, to seek things hidden in
his own heart; and at such moments his sharply-cut, irregular features
possessed a strange charm.

The broad, stout figure of Commissioner Van Bronkhorst occupied a
great deal of room. His body was by no means agile, but from the
round, closely shaven head looked forth a pair of prominent eyes, that
expressed unyielding resolution.

The brightly-lighted table, around which such guests had gathered,
presented a gay, magnificent spectacle. The yellow leather of the
doublets worn by Junker von Warmond, Colonel Mulder, and Captain
Allertssohn, the colored silk scarfs that adorned them, and the scarlet
coat of brave Dirk Smaling contrasted admirably with the deep black
robes of Pastor Verstroot, the burgomaster, the city clerk, and their
associates! The violet of the commissioner’s dress and the dark hues of
the fur-bordered surcoats worn by the elder Herr Van der Does and
Herr Van Montfort blended pleasantly and harmonized the light and dark
shades. Everything sorrowful seemed to have been banished far from
this brilliant, vigorous round table, so words flowed freely and voices
sounded full and strong enough.

Danger was close at hand. The Spanish vanguard might appear before
Leyden any day. Many preparations were made. English auxiliaries were
to garrison the fortifications of Alfen and defend the Gouda lock. The
defensive works of Valkenburg had been strengthened and entrusted to
other British troops, the city soldiers, the militia and volunteers were
admirably drilled. They did not wish to admit foreign troops within the
walls, for during the first siege they had proved far more troublesome
than useful, and there was little reason to fear that a city guarded by
water, walls and trees would be taken by storm.

What most excited the gentlemen was the news Van Hout had brought. Rich
Herr Baersdorp, one of the four burgomasters, who had the largest grain
business in Leyden, had undertaken to purchase considerable quantities
of bread-stuffs in the name of the city. Several ship loads of wheat
and rye had been delivered by him the day before, but he was still in
arrears with three-quarters of what was ordered. He openly said that
he had as yet given no positive orders for it, because owing to the
prospect of a good harvest, a fall in the price of grain was expected
in the exchanges of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and he would still have
several weeks time before the commencement of the new blockade.

Van Hout was full of indignation, especially as two out of the four
burgomasters sided with their colleague Baersdorp.

The elder Herr von Nordwyk agreed with him, exclaiming:

“With all due respect to your dignity, Herr Peter, your three companions
in office belong to the ranks of bad friends, who would willingly be
exchanged for open enemies.”

“Herr von Noyelles,” said Colonel Mulder, “has written about them to the
Prince, the good and truthful words, that they ought to be sent to the
gallows.”

“And they will suit them,” cried Captain Allertssohn, “so long as
hangmen’s nooses and traitors’ necks are made for each other.”

“Traitors--no,” said Van der Werff resolutely. “Call them cowards, call
them selfish and base-minded--but not one of them is a Judas.”

“Right, Meister Peter, that they certainly are not, and perhaps even
cowardice has nothing to do with their conduct,” added Herr von Nordwyk.
“Whoever has eyes to see and ears to hear, knows the views of the
gentlemen belonging to the old city families, who are reared from
infancy as future magistrates; and I speak not only of Leyden, but the
residents of Gouda and Delft, Rotterdam and Dortrecht. Among a hundred,
sixty would bear the Spanish yoke, even do violence to conscience, if
only their liberties and rights were guaranteed. The cities must rule
and they themselves in them; that is all they desire. Whether people
preach sermons or read mass in the church, whether a Spaniard or a
Hollander rules, is a matter of secondary importance to them. I except
the present company, for you would not be here, gentlemen, if your views
were similar to those of the men of whom I speak.”

“Thanks for those words,” said Dirk Smaling, “but with all due honor to
your opinion, you have painted matters in too dark colors. May I ask if
the nobles do not also cling to their rights and liberties?”

“Certainly, Herr Dirk; but they are commonly of longer date than yours,”
 replied Van Bronkhorst. “The nobleman needs a ruler. He is a lustreless
star, if the sun that lends him light is lacking. I, and with me all the
nobles who have sworn fealty to him, now believe that our sun must
and can be no other person than the Prince of Orange, who is one of
ourselves, knows, loves, and understands us; not Philip, who has no
comprehension of what is passing within and around us, is a foreigner
and detests us. We will uphold William with our fortunes and our lives
for, as I have already said, we need a sun, that is, a monarch--but the
cities think they have power to shine and wish to be admired as bright
stars themselves. True, they feel that, in these troublous times, the
country needs a leader, and that they can find no better, wiser and more
faithful one than Orange; but if it comes to pass--and may God grant
it--that the Spanish yoke is broken, the noble William’s rule will seem
wearisome, because they enjoy playing sovereign themselves. In short:
the cities endure a ruler, the nobles gather round him and need him.
No real good will be accomplished until noble, burgher and peasant
cheerfully yield to him, and unite to battle under his leadership for
the highest blessings of life.”

“Right,” said Van flout. “The well-disposed nobility may well serve as
an example to the governing classes here and in the other cities, but
the people, the poor hard-working people, know what is coming and,
thank God, have not yet lost a hearty love for what you call the highest
blessings of life. They wish to be and remain Hollanders, curse the
Spanish butchers with eloquent hatred, desire to serve God according
to the yearning of their own souls, and believe what their own hearts
dictate-and these men call the Prince their Father William. Wait a
little! As soon as trouble oppresses us, the poor and lowly will stand
firm, if the rich and great waver and deny the good cause.”

“They are to be trusted,” said Van der Werff, “firmly trusted.”

“And because I know them,” cried Van Hout, “we shall conquer, with God’s
assistance, come what may.” Janus Dousa had been looking into his glass.
Now he raised his head and with a hasty gesture, said:

“Strange that those who toil for existence with their hands, and whose
uncultured brains only move when their daily needs require it, are most
ready to sacrifice the little they possess, for spiritual blessings.”

“Yes,” said the pastor, “the kingdom of heaven stands open to the
simple-hearted. It is strange that the poor and unlearned value
religion, liberty and their native land far more than the perishable
gifts of this world, the golden calf around which the generations
throng.”

“My companions are not flattered to-day,” replied Dirk Smaling; “but
I beg you to remember in our favor, that we are playing a great and
dangerous game, and property-holders must supply the lion’s share of the
stake.”

“By no means,” retorted Van Hout, “the highest stake for which the die
will be cast is life, and this has the same value to rich and poor.
Those who will hold back--I think I know them--have no plain motto or
sign, but a proud escutcheon over their doors. Let us wait.”

“Yes, let us wait,” said Van der Werff; “but there are more important
matters to be considered now. Day after to-morrow will be Ascension
Day, when the bells will ring for the great fair. More than one foreign
trader and traveller has passed through the gates yesterday and the
day before. Shall we order the booths to be set up, or have the fair
deferred until some other time? If the enemy hastens his march, there
will be great confusion, and we shall perhaps throw a rich prize into
his hands. Pray give me your opinion, gentlemen.”

“The traders ought to be protected from loss and the fair postponed,”
 said Dirk Smaling.

“No,” replied Van Hout, “for if this prohibition is issued, we shall
deprive the small merchants of considerable profit and prematurely damp
their courage.”

“Let them have their festival,” cried Janus Dousa. “We mustn’t do coming
trouble the favor of spoiling the happy present on its account. If you
want to act wisely, follow the advice of Horace.”

“The Bible also teaches that ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof,’” added the pastor, and Captain Allertssohn exclaimed:

“On my life, yes! My soldiers, the city-guard and volunteers must have
their parade. Marching in full uniform, with all their weapons, while
beautiful eyes smile upon them, the old wave greetings, and children run
before with exultant shouts, a man learns to feel himself a soldier for
the first time.”

So it was determined to let the fair be held. While other questions were
being eagerly discussed, Henrica found a loving welcome in Barbara’s
pleasant room. When she had fallen asleep, Maria went back to her
guests, but did not again approach the table; for the gentlemen’s cheeks
were flushed and they were no longer speaking in regular order, but each
was talking about whatever he chose. The burgomaster was discussing with
Van Hout and Van Bronkhorst the means of procuring a supply of grain for
the city, Janus Dousa and Herr von Warmond were speaking of the poem the
city clerk had repeated at the last meeting of the poets’ club, Herr Van
der Does senior and the pastor were arguing about the new rules of
the church, and stout Captain Allertssohn, before whom stood a huge
drinking-horn drained to the dregs, had leaned his forehead on Colonel
Mulder’s shoulder and, as usual when he felt particularly happy over his
wine, was shedding tears.



CHAPTER XV.

The next day after the meeting of the council, Burgomaster Van der
Werff, Herr Van Hout, and a notary, attended by two constables, went to
Nobelstrasse to set old Fraulein Van Hoogstraten’s property in order.
The fathers of the city had determined to seize the Glippers’ abandoned
dwellings and apply the property found in them to the benefit of the
common cause.

The old lady’s hostility to the patriots was known to all, and as her
nearest relatives, Herr Van Hoogstraten and Matanesse Van Wibisma, had
been banished from Leyden, the duty of representing the heirs fell upon
the city. It was to be expected that only notorious Glippers would
be remembered in the dead woman’s will, and if this was the case, the
revenue from the personal and real estate would fall to the city, until
the deserters mended their ways, and adopted a course of conduct that
would permit the magistrates to again open their gates to them. Whoever
continued to cling to the Spaniards and oppose the cause of liberty,
would forfeit his share of the inheritance. This was no new procedure.
King Philip had taught its practice, nay not only the estates of
countless innocent persons who had been executed, banished or gone into
voluntary exile for the sake of the new religion, but also the property
of good Catholic patriots had been confiscated for his benefit. After
being anvil so many years, it is pleasant to play hammer; and if
that was not always done in a proper and moderate way, people excused
themselves on the ground of having experienced a hundred-fold harsher
and more cruel treatment from the Spaniards. It might have been
unchristian to repay in the same coin, but they dealt severe blows only
in mortal conflict, and did not seek the Glippers’ lives.

At the door of the house of death, the magistrates met the musician
Wilhelm Corneliussohn and his mother, who had come to offer Henrica
a hospitable reception in their house. The mother, who had at first
refused to extend her love for her neighbor to the young Glipper girl,
now found it hard to be deprived of the opportunity to do a good work,
and gave expression to these feelings in the sturdy fashion peculiar to
her.

Belotti was standing in the entry, no longer attired in the silk hose
and satin-bordered cloth garments of the steward, but in a plain burgher
dress. He told the musician and Peter, that he remained in Leyden
principally because he could not bear to leave the sick maid, Denise,
in the lurch; but other matters also detained him, especially, though he
was reluctant to acknowledge it, the feeling, strengthened by long years
of service, that he belonged to the Hoogstraten house. The dead woman’s
attorney had said that his account books were in good order, and
willingly paid the balance due him. His savings had been well invested,
and as he never touched the interest, but added to the capital, had
considerably increased. Nothing detained him in Leyden, yet he could not
leave it until everything was settled in the house where he had so long
ruled.

He had daily inquired for the sick lady, and after her death, though
Denise began to recover, still lingered in Leyden; he thought it his
duty to show the last honors to the dead by attending her funeral.

The magistrates were glad to find Belotti in the house. The notary had
managed his little property, and respected him as an honest man. He
now asked him to act as guide to his companions and himself. The most
important matter was to find the dead woman’s will. Such a document must
be in existence, for up to the day after Henrica’s illness it had been
in the lawyer’s possession, but was then sent for by the old lady, who
desired to make some changes in it. He could give no information about
its contents, for his dead partner, whose business had fallen to him,
had assisted in drawing it up.

The steward first conducted the visitors to the padrona’s sitting-room
and boudoir, but though they searched the writing-tables, chests and
drawers, and discovered many letters, money and valuable jewels in boxes
and caskets, the document was not found.

The gentlemen thought it was concealed in a secret drawer, and ordered
one of the constables to call a locksmith. Belotti allowed this to be
done, but meantime listened with special attention to the low chanting
that issued from the bedroom where the old lady’s body lay. He knew that
the will would most probably be found there, but was anxious to have the
priest complete the consecration of his mistress undisturbed. As soon
as all was still in the death-chamber, he asked the gentlemen to follow
him.

The lofty apartment into which he led them, was filled with the odor
of incense. A large bedstead, over which a pointed canopy of heavy silk
rose to the ceiling, stood at the back, the coffin in which the dead
woman lay had been placed in the middle of the room. A linen cloth,
trimmed with lace, covered the face. The delicate hands, still
unwrinkled, were folded, and lightly clasped a well-worn rosary. The
lifeless form was concealed beneath a costly coverlid, in the centre of
which lay an exquisitely-carved ivory crucifix.

The visitors bowed mutely before the corpse. Belotti approached it and,
as he saw the padrona’s well-known hands, a convulsive sob shook the old
man’s breast. Then he knelt beside the coffin, pressed his lips, to the
cold, slender fingers, and a warm tear, the only one shed for this dead
form, fell on the hands now clasped forever.

The burgomaster and his companion did not interrupt him, even when
he laid his forehead upon the wood of the coffin and uttered a brief,
silent prayer. After he had risen, and an elderly priest in the
sacerdotal robes had left the room, Father Damianus beckoned to the
acolytes, with whom he had lingered in the background, and aided by
them and Belotti put the lid on the coffin, then turned to Peter Van der
Werff, saying:

“We intend to bury Fraulein Van Hoogstraten at midnight, that no offence
may be given.”

“Very well, sir!” replied the burgomaster. “Whatever may happen, we
shall not expel you from the city. Of course, if you prefer to go to the
Spaniards--”

Damianus shook his head and, interrupting the burgomaster, answered
modestly:

“No, sir; I am a native of Utrecht and will gladly pray for the liberty
of Holland.”

“There, there!” exclaimed Van Hout. “Those were good words, admirable
words! Your hand, Father.”

“There it is; and, so long as you don’t change the ‘haec libertatis
ergo’ on your coins to ‘haec religionis ergo,’ not one of those words
need be altered.”

“A free country and in it religious liberty for each individual, even
for you and your followers,” said the burgomaster, “is what we desire.
Doctor Bontius has spoken of you, worthy man; you have cared well for
this dead woman. Bury her according to the customs of your church; we
have come to arrange the earthly possessions she leaves behind. Perhaps
this casket may contain the will.”

“No, sir,” replied the priest. “She opened the sealed paper in my
presence, when she was first taken sick, and wrote a few words whenever
she felt stronger. An hour before her end, she ordered the notary to
be sent for, but when he came life had departed. I could not remain
constantly beside the corpse, so I locked up the paper in the linen
chest. There is the key.”

The opened will was soon found. The burgomaster quietly unfolded it,
and, while reading its contents aloud, the notary and city clerk looked
over his shoulder.

The property was to be divided among various churches and convents,
where masses were to be read for her soul, and her nearest blood
relations. Belotti and Denise received small legacies.

“It is fortunate,” exclaimed Van Hout, “that this paper is a piece of
paper and nothing more.”

“The document has no legal value whatever,” added the notary, “for it
was taken from me and opened with the explicit statement, that changes
were to be made. Here is a great deal to be read on the back.”

The task, that the gentlemen now undertook, was no easy one, for the
sick woman had scrawled short notes above and below, hither and thither,
on the blank back of the document, probably to assist her memory while
composing a new will.

At the very top a crucifix was sketched with an unsteady hand, and
below it the words: “Pray for us! Everything shall belong to holy Mother
Church.”

Farther down they read: “Nico, I like the lad. The castle on the downs.
Ten thousand gold florins in money. To be secured exclusively to him.
His father is not to touch it. Make the reason for disinheriting him
conspicuous. Van Vliet of Haarlem was the gentleman whose daughter my
cousin secretly wedded. On some pitiful pretext he deserted her, to form
another marriage. If he has forgotten it, I have remembered and would
fain impress it upon him. Let Nico pay heed: False love is poison. My
life has been ruined by it--ruined.”

The second “ruined” was followed by numerous repetitions of the same
word. The last one, at the very end of the sentence, had been ornamented
with numerous curves and spirals by the sick woman’s pen.

On the right-hand margin of the sheet stood a series of short notes

“Ten thousand florins to Anna. To be secured to herself. Otherwise they
will fall into the clutches of that foot-pad, d’Avila.

“Three times as much to Henrica. Her father will pay her the money--from
the sum he owes me. Where he gets it is his affair. Thus the account
with him would be settled.

“Belotti has behaved badly. He shall be passed over.

“Denise may keep what was given her.”

In the middle of the paper, written in large characters, twice and
thrice underlined, was the sentence: “The ebony-casket with the
Hoogstraten and d’Avila arms on the lid is to be sent to the widow of
the Marquis d’Avennes. Forward it to Chateau Rochebrun in Normandy.”

The men, who had mutually deciphered these words, looked at each other
silently, until Van Hout exclaimed:

“What a confused mixture of malice and feminine weakness. Let a woman’s
heart seem ever so cold; glacier flowers will always be found in it.”

“I’m sorry for the young lady in your house, Herr Peter,” cried the
notary, “it would be easier to get sparks from rye-bread, than such
a sum from the debt-laden poor devil. The daughter’s portion will
be curtailed by the father; that’s what I call bargaining between
relations.”

“What can be in the casket?” asked the notary.

“There it is,” cried Van Hout.

“Bring it here, Belotti.”

“We must open it,” said the lawyer, “perhaps she is trying to convey her
most valuable property across the frontiers.”

“Open it? Contrary to the dead woman’s express desire?” asked Van der
Werff.

“Certainly!” cried the notary. “We were sent here to ascertain the
amount of the inheritance. The lid is fastened. Take the picklock,
Meister. There, it is open.” The city magistrates found no valuables
in the casket, merely letters of different dates. There were not many.
Those at the bottom, yellow with age, contained vows of love from the
Marquis d’Avennes, the more recent ones were brief and, signed Don Louis
d’Avila. Van Hout, who understood the Castilian language in which they
were written, hastily read them. As he was approaching the end of the
last one, he exclaimed with lively indignation:

“We have here the key of a rascally trick in our hands! Do you remember
the excitement aroused four years ago by the duel, in which the Marquis
d’Avennes fell a victim to a Spanish brawler? The miserable bravo
writes in this letter that he has.... It will be worth the trouble; I’ll
translate it for you. The first part of the note is of no importance;
but now comes the point: ‘And now, after having succeeded in crossing
swords with the marquis and killing him, not without personal danger,
a fate he has doubtless deserved, since he aroused your displeasure
to such a degree, the condition you imposed upon me is fulfilled, and
to-morrow I hope through your favor to receive the sweetest reward. Tell
Donna Anna, my adored betrothed, that I would fain lead her to the
altar early to-morrow morning, for the d’Avennes are influential and the
following day my safety will perhaps be imperilled. As for the rest, I
hope I may be permitted to rely upon the fairness and generosity of my
patroness.”

Van Hout flung the letter on the table, exclaiming “See, what a dainty
hand the bravo writes. And, Jove’s thunder, the lady to whom this
plotted murder was to have been sent, is doubtless the mother of the
unfortunate marquis, whom the Spanish assassin slew.”

“Yes, Herr Van Hout,” said Belotti, “I can confirm your supposition. The
marquise was the wife of the man, who broke his plighted faith to the
young Fraulein Van Hoogstraten. She, who lies there, saw many suns rise
and set, ere her vengeance ripened.”

“Throw the scrawl into the fire!” cried Van Hout impetuously.

“No,” replied Peter. “We will not send the letters, but you must keep
them in the archives. God’s mills grind slowly, and who knows what good
purpose these sheets may yet serve.”

The city clerk nodded assent and folding the papers, said: “I think the
dead woman’s property will be an advantage to the city.”

“The Prince will dispose of it,” replied Van der Werff. “How long have
you served this lady, Belotti?”

“Fifteen years.”

“Then remain in Leyden for a time. I think you may expect the legacy she
originally left you. I will urge your claim.”

A few hours before the nocturnal burial of old Fraulein Van Hoogstraten,
Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma and his son Nicolas appeared before the city,
but were refused admittance by the men who guarded the gates, although
both appealed to their relative’s death. Henrica’s father did not come,
he had gone several days before to attend a tourney at Cologne.



CHAPTER XVI.

Between twelve and one o’clock on the 26th of May, Ascension-Day,
the ringing of bells announced the opening of the great fair. The old
circuit of the boundaries of the fields had long since given place to
a church festival, but the name of “Ommegang” remained interwoven with
that of the fair, and even after the new religion had obtained the
mastery, all sorts of processions took place at the commencement of the
fair.

In the days of Catholic rule the cross had been borne through the
streets in a soleum procession, in which all Leyden took part, now the
banners of the city and standards bearing the colors of the House of
Orange headed the train, followed by the nobles on horseback, the city
magistrates in festal array, the clergy in black robes, the volunteers
in magnificent uniforms, the guilds with their emblems, and long joyous
ranks of school-children. Even the poorest people bought some thing new
for their little ones on this day. Never did mothers braid their young
daughters’ hair more carefully, than for the procession at the opening
of the fair. Spite of the hard times, many a stiver was taken from
slender purses for fresh ribbons and new shoes, becoming caps and
bright-hued stockings. The spring sunshine could be reflected from the
little girls’ shining, smoothly-combed hair, and the big boys and little
children looked even gayer than the flowers in Herr Van Montfort’s
garden, by which the procession was obliged to pass. Each wore a sprig
of green leaves in his cap beside the plume, and the smaller the boy,
the larger the branch. There was no lack of loud talk and merry shouts,
for every child that passed its home called to its mother, grandparents,
and the servants, and when one raised its voice many others instantly
followed. The grown people too were not silent, and as the procession
approached the town-hall, head-quarters of military companies,
guild-halls or residences of popular men, loud cheers arose, mingled
with the ringing of bells, the shouts of the sailors on both arms of the
Rhine and on the canals, the playing of the city musicians at the street
corners, and the rattle of guns and roar of cannon fired by the gunners
and their assistants from the citadel. It was a joyous tumult in jocund
spring! These merry mortals seemed to lull themselves carelessly in the
secure enjoyment of peace and prosperity, and how blue the sky was, how
warmly and brightly the sun shone! The only grave, anxious faces were
among the magistrates; but the guilds and the children behind did not
see them, so the rejoicings continued without interruption until the
churches received the procession, and words so earnest and full of
warning echoed from the pulpits, that many grew thoughtful.

All three phases of time belong to man, the past to the graybeard, the
future to youth, and the present to childhood. What cared the little
boys and girls of Leyden, released from school during the fair, for
the peril close at hand? Whoever, on the first day and during the great
linen-fair on Friday and the following days, received spending money
from parents or godparents, or whoever had eyes to see, ears to hear,
and a nose to smell, passed through the rows of booths with his or her
companions, stopped before the camels and dancing-bears, gazed into
the open taverns, where not only lads and lasses, but merry old
people whirled in the dance to the music of bagpipes, clarionets and
violins--examined gingerbread and other dainties with the attention
of an expert, or obeyed the blasts of the trumpet, by which the quack
doctor’s negro summoned the crowd.

Adrian, the burgomaster’s son, also strolled day after day, alone or
with his companions, through the splendors of the fair, often grasping
with the secure sense of wealth the leather purse that hung at his
belt, for it contained several stivers, which had flowed in from various
sources; his father, his mother, Barbara and his godmother. Captain Van
Duivenvoorde, his particular friend, on whose noble horse he had often
ridden, had taken him three times into a wafer booth, where he eat till
he was satisfied, and thus, even on the Tuesday after Ascension-Day, his
little fortune was but slightly diminished. He intended to buy something
very big and sensible: a knight’s sword or a cross-bow; perhaps
even--but this thought seemed like an evil temptation--the ginger-cake
covered with almonds, which was exhibited in the booth of a Delft
confectioner. He and Bessie could surely nibble for weeks upon this
giant cake, if they were economical, and economy is an admirable virtue.
Something must at any rate be spared for “little brothers,”--[A kind
of griddle or pancake.]--the nice spiced cakes which were baked in many
booths before the eyes of the passers-by.

On Tuesday afternoon his way led him past the famous Rotterdam
cake-shop. Before the door of the building, made of boards lightly
joined together and decked with mirrors and gay pictures, a stout,
pretty woman, in the bloom of youth, sat in a high arm-chair, pouring
rapidly, with remarkable skill, liquid dough into the hot iron plate,
provided with numerous indentations, that stood just on a level with her
comfortably outspread lap. Her assistant hastily turned with a fork
the little cakes, browning rapidly in the hollows of the iron, and when
baked, laid them neatly on small plates. The waiter prepared them for
purchasers by putting a large piece of yellow butter on the smoking
pile. A tempting odor, that only too vividly recalled former enjoyment,
rose from the fireplace, and Adrian’s fingers were already examining the
contents of his purse, when the negro’s trumpet sounded and the quack
doctor’s cart stopped directly in front of the booth.

The famous Doctor Morpurgo was a fine-looking man, dressed in bright
scarlet, who had a thin, coalblack beard hanging over his breast. His
movements were measured and haughty, the bows and gestures with which he
saluted the assembled crowd, patronizing and affable. After a sufficient
number of curious persons had gathered around his cart, which was
stocked with boxes and vials, he began to address them in broken Dutch,
spiced with numerous foreign words.

He praised the goodness of the Providence which had created the marvel
of human organism. Everything, he said, was arranged and formed wisely
and in the best possible manner, but in one respect nature fared badly
in the presence of adepts.

“Do you know where the error is, ladies and gentlemen?” he asked.

“In the purse,” cried a merry barber’s clerk, “it grows prematurely thin
every day.”

“Right, my son,” answered the quack graciously. “But nature also
provides it with the great door from which your answer has come. Your
teeth are a bungling piece of workmanship. They appear with pain,
decay with time, and so long as they last torture those who do not
industriously attend to them. But art will correct nature. See this
box--” and he now began to praise the tooth-powder and cure for
toothache he had invented. Next he passed to the head, and described in
vivid colors, its various pains. But they too were to be cured, people
need only buy his arcanum. It was to be had for a trifle, and whoever
bought it could sweep away every headache, even the worst, as with a
broom.

Adrian listened to the famous doctor with mouth wide open. Specially
sweet odors floated over to him from the hot surface of the stove before
the booth, and he would have gladly allowed himself a plate of fresh
cakes. The baker’s stout wife even beckoned to him with a spoon, but he
closed his hand around the purse and again turned his eyes towards the
quack, whose cart was now surrounded by men and women buying tinctures
and medicines.

Henrica lay ill in his father’s house. He had been taken into her room
twice, and the beautiful pale face, with its large dark eyes, had filled
his heart with pity. The clear, deep voice in which she addressed a few
words to him, also seemed wonderful and penetrated the inmost depths
of his soul: He was told one morning that she was there, and since that
time his mother rarely appeared and the house was far more quiet than
usual; for everybody walked lightly, spoke in subdued tones, rapped
cautiously at a window instead of using the knocker, and whenever Bessie
or he laughed aloud or ran up or down-stairs, Barbara, his mother, or
Trautchen appeared and whispered: “Gently, children, the young lady has
a headache.”

There were many bottles in the cart which were warranted to cure the
ailment, and the famous Morpurgo seemed to be a very sensible man,
no buffoon like the other mountebanks. The wife of the baker, Wilhelm
Peterssohn, who stood beside him, a woman he knew well, said to her
companion that the doctor’s remedies were good, they had quickly cured
her godmother of a bad attack of erysipelas.

The words matured the boy’s resolution. Fleeting visions of the sword,
the cross-bow, the gingerbread and the nice little brothers once more
rose before his mind, but with a powerful effort of the will he thrust
them aside, held his breath that he might not smell the alluring odor of
the cakes, and hastily approached the cart. Here he unfastened his purse
from his belt, poured its contents into his hand, showed the coins to
the doctor, who had fixed his black eyes kindly on the odd customer, and
asked: “Will this be enough?”

“For what?”

“For the medicine to cure headache.”

The quack separated the little coins in Adrian’s hand with his
forefinger, and answered gravely: “No, my son, but I am always glad to
advance the cause of knowledge. There is still a great deal for you to
learn at school, and the headache will prevent it. Here are the drops
and, as it’s you, I’ll give this prescription for another arcanum into
the bargain.”

Adrian hastily wrapped the little vial the quack handed him in the piece
of printed paper, received his dearly-bought treasure, and ran home. On
the way he was stopped by Captain Allertssohn, who came towards him with
the musician Wilhelm.

“Have you seen my Andreas, Master Good-for-nothing?” he asked.

“He was standing listening to the musicians,” replied Adrian, released
himself from the captain’s grasp, and vanished among the crowd.

“A nimble lad,” said the fencing-master. “My boy is standing with the
musicians again. He has nothing but your art in his mind. He would
rather blow on a comb than comb his hair with it, he’s always tooting
on every leaf and pipe, makes triangles of broken sword-blades, and not
even a kitchen pot is safe from his drumming; in short there’s nothing
but singsong in the good-for-nothing fellow’s head; he wants to be a
musician or something of the sort.”

“Right, right!” replied Wilhelm eagerly; “he has a fine ear and the best
voice in the choir.”

“The matter must be duly considered,” replied the captain, “and you, if
anybody, are the person to tell us what he can accomplish in your art.
If you have time this evening, Herr Wilhelm, come to me at the watch
house, I should like to speak to you. To be sure, you’ll hardly find me
before ten o’clock. I have a stricture in my throat again, and on such
days--Roland, my fore man!”

The captain cleared his throat loudly and vehemently. “I am at your
service,” said Wilhelm, “for the night is long, but I won’t let you go
now until I know what you mean by your fore man Roland.”

“Very well, it’s not much of a story, and perhaps you won’t understand.
Come in here; I can tell it better over a mug of beer, and the legs
rebel if they’re deprived of rest four nights in succession.”

When the two men were seated opposite to each other in the tap-room, the
fencing-master pushed his moustache away from his lips, and began: “How
long ago is it-? We’ll say fifteen years, since I was riding to Haarlem
with the innkeeper Aquarius, who as you know, is a learned man and has
all sorts of old stuff and Latin manuscripts. He talks well, and when
the conversation turned upon our meeting with many things in life
that we fancy we have already seen, remarked that this could be easily
explained, for the human soul was an indestructible thing, a bird that
never dies. So long as we live it remains with us, and when we die flies
away and is rewarded or punished according to its deserts; but after
centuries, which are no more to the Lord than the minutes in which I
empty this fresh mug--one more, bar-maid--the merciful Father releases
it again, and it nestles in some new born child. This made me laugh;
but he was not at all disturbed and told the story of an old Pagan, a
wonderfully wise chap, who knew positively that his soul had formerly
lodged in the body of a mighty hero. This same hero also remembered
exactly where, during his former life, he had hung his shield, and told
his associates. They searched and found the piece of armor, with
the initials of the Christian and surname which had belonged to the
philosopher in his life as a soldier, centuries before. This puzzled me,
for you see--now don’t laugh--something had formerly happened to me very
much like the Pagan’s experience. I don’t care much for books, and
from a child have always read the same one. I inherited it from my dead
father and the work is not printed, but written. I’ll show it to you
some time--it contains the history of the brave Roland. Often, when
absorbed in these beautiful and true stories, my cheeks have grown
as red as fire, and I’ll confess to you, as I did to my
travelling-companion: If I’m not mistaken, I’ve sat with King Charles
at the board, or I’ve worn Roland’s chain armor in battle and in the
tourney. I believe I have seen the Moorish king, Marsilia, and once
when reading how the dying Roland wound his horn in the valley of the
Roncesvalles, I felt such a pain in my throat, that it seemed as if it
would burst, and fancied I had felt the same pain before. When I frankly
acknowledged all this, my companion exclaimed that there was no doubt
my soul had once inhabited Roland’s body, or in other words, that in a
former life I had been the Knight Roland.”

The musician looked at the fencing-master in amazement and asked: “Could
you really believe that, Captain?”

“Why not,” replied the other. “Nothing is impossible to the Highest. At
first I laughed in the man’s face, but his words followed me; and when I
read the old stories--I needn’t strain my eyes much, for at every line I
know beforehand what the next will be--I couldn’t help asking myself--In
short, sir, my soul probably once inhabited Roland’s body, and that’s
why I call him my ‘fore man.’ In the course of years, it has become a
habit to swear by him. Folly, you will think, but I know what I know,
and now I must go. We will have another talk this evening, but about
other matters. Yes, everybody in this world is a little crackbrained,
but at least I don’t bore other people. I only show my craze to intimate
friends, and strangers who ask me once about the fore man Roland rarely
do so a second time. The score, bar-maid--There it is again. We must see
whether the towers are properly garrisoned, and charge the sentinels
to keep their eyes open. If you come prepared for battle, you may save
yourself a walk, I’ll answer for nothing to-day. You will probably pass
the new Rhine. Just step into my house, and tell my wife she needn’t
wait supper for me. Or, no, I’ll attend to that myself; there’s
something in the air, you’ll see it, for I have the Roncesvalles throat
again.”



CHAPTER XVII.

In the big watch-house that had been erected beside the citadel,
during the siege of the city, raised ten months before, city-guards and
volunteers sat together in groups after sunset, talking over their beer
or passing the time in playing cards by the feeble light of thin tallow
candles.

The embrasure where the officers’ table stood was somewhat better
lighted. Wilhelm, who, according to his friend’s advice, appeared in
the uniform of an ensign of the city-guards, seated himself at the empty
board just after the clock in the steeple had struck ten. While ordering
the waiter to bring him a mug of beer, Captain Allertssohn appeared with
Junker von Warmond, who had taken part in the consultation at Peter Van
der Werff’s, and bravely earned his captain’s sash two years before
at the capture of Brill. As this son of one of the richest and most
aristocratic families in Holland, a youth whose mother had borne the
name of Egmont, entered, he drew his hand, encased in a fencing glove,
from the captain’s arm and said, countermanding the musician’s order:

“Nothing of that sort, waiter! The little keg from the Wurzburger Stein
can’t be empty yet. We’ll find the bottom of it this evening. What do
you say, Captain?”

“Such an arrangement will lighten the keg and not specially burden us,”
 replied the other. “Good-evening, Herr Wilhelm, punctuality adorns the
soldier. People are beginning to understand how much depends upon it.
I have posted the men, so that they can overlook the country in
every direction. I shall have them relieved from time to time, and at
intervals look after them myself. This is good liquor, Junker. All honor
to the man who melts his gold into such a fluid. The first glass must be
a toast to the Prince.”

The three men touched their glasses, and soon after drank to the liberty
of Holland and the prosperity of the good city of Leyden. Then the
conversation took a lively turn, but duty was not forgotten, for at the
end of half an hour the captain rose to survey the horizon himself and
urge the sentinels to vigilant watchfulness.

When he returned, Wilhelm and Junker von Warmond were so engaged in
eager conversation, that they did not notice his entrance. The musician
was speaking of Italy, and Allertssohn heard him exclaim impetuously:

“Whoever has once seen that country can never forget it, and when I am
sitting on the house-top with my doves, my thoughts only too often fly
far away with them, and my eyes no longer see our broad, monotonous
plains and grey, misty sky.”

“Oh! ho! Meister Wilhelm,” interrupted the captain, throwing himself
into the arm-chair and stretching out his booted legs. “Oh! ho! This
time I’ve discovered the crack in your brain. Italy, always Italy!
I know Italy too, for I’ve been in Brescia, looking for good steel
sword-blades for the Prince and other nobles, I crossed the rugged
Apennines and went to Florence to see fine pieces of armor. From Livorno
I went by sea to Genoa, where I obtained chased gold and silverwork for
shoulder-belts and sheaths. Truth is truth the brown-skinned rascals can
do fine work. But the country--the country! Roland, my fore man--how any
sensible man can prefer it to ours is more than I understand.”

“Holland is our mother,” replied von Warmond. “As good sons we believe
her the best of women; yet we can admit, without shame, that there are
more beautiful ones in the world.”

“Do you blow that trumpet too?” exclaimed the fencing-master, pushing
his glass angrily further upon the table. “Did you ever cross the Alps?”

“No, but--”

“But you believe the color-daubers of the artist guild, whose eyes are
caught by the blue of the sky and sea, or the musical gentry who allow
themselves to be deluded by the soft voices and touching melodies there,
but you would do well to listen to a quiet man too for once.”

“Go on, Captain.”

“Very well. And if anybody can get an untruthful word out of me, I’ll
pay his score till the Day of Judgment. I’ll begin the story at the
commencement. First you must cross the horrible Alps. There you see
barren, dreary rocks, cold snow, wild glacier torrents on which no boat
can be used. Instead of watering meadows, the mad waves fling stones on
their banks. Then we reach the plains, where it is true many kinds
of plants grow. I was there in June, and made my jokes about the tiny
fields, where small trees stood, serving as props for the vines. It
didn’t look amiss, but the heat, Junker, the heat spoiled all pleasure.
And the dirt in the taverns, the vermin, and the talk about bravos,
who shed the blood of honest Christians in the dark for a little paltry
money. If your tongue dries up in your mouth, you’ll find nothing but
hot wine, not a sip of cool beer. And the dust, gentlemen, the frightful
dust. As for the steel in Brescia--it’s worthy of all honor. But the
feather was stolen from my hat in the tavern, and the landlord devoured
onions as if they were white bread. May God punish me if a single piece
of honest beef, such as my wife can set before me every day--and we
don’t live like princes--ever came between my teeth.

“And the butter, Junker, the butter! We burn oil in lamps, and grease
door-hinges with it, when they creak, but the Italians use it to fry
chickens and fish. Confound such doings!”

“Beware, Captain,” cried Wilhelm, “or I shall take you at your word and
you’ll be obliged to pay my score for life. Olive-oil is a pure, savory
seasoning.”

“For a man that likes it. I commend Holland butter. Olive-oil has its
value for polishing steel, but butter is the right thing for roasting
and frying; so that’s enough! But I beg you to hear me farther. From
Lombardy I went to Bologna, and then crossed the Apennines. Sometimes
the road ascended, then suddenly plunged downward again, and it’s a
queer pleasure, which, thank God, we are spared in this country, to sit
in the saddle going down a mountain. On the right and left, lofty
cliffs tower like walls. Your breathing becomes oppressed in the narrow
valleys, and if you want to get a distant view--there’s nothing to
be seen, for everywhere some good-for-nothing mountain thrusts itself
directly before your nose. I believe the Lord created those humps for
a punishment to men after Adam’s fall. On the sixth day of creation the
earth was level. It was in August, and when the noon sun was reflected
from the rocks, the heat was enough to kill one; it’s a miracle, that
I’m not sitting beside you dried up and baked. The famous blue of the
Italian sky! Always the same! We have it here in this country too, but
it alternates with beautiful clouds. There are few things in Holland I
like better than our clouds. When the rough Apennines at last lay behind
me, I reached the renowned city of Florence.”

“And can you deny it your approval?” asked the musician.

“No, sir, there are many proud, stately palaces and beautiful churches
and no lack of silk and velvet everywhere, the trade of cloth-weaving
too is flourishing; but my health, my health was not good in your
Florence, principally on account of the heat, and besides I found many
things different from what I expected. In the first place, there’s the
river Arno! The stream is a puddle, nothing but a puddle! Do you know
what the water looks like? Like the pools that stand between the broken
fragments and square blocks in a stonecutter’s yard, after a heavy
thunder-shower.”

“The score, Captain, the score!”

“I mean the yard of a stone-cutter, who does a large business, and pools
of tolerable width. Will you still contradict me if I maintain--the
Arno is a shallow, narrow stream, just fit to sail a boy’s bark-boat.
It spreads over a wide surface of grey pebbles, very much as the gold
fringe straggles over the top of Junker von Warmond’s fencing-glove.”

“You saw it at the end of a hot summer,” replied Wilhelm, “it’s very
different in spring.”

“Perhaps so; but I beg you to remember the Rhine, the Meuse, and our
other rivers, even the Marne, Drecht and whatever the smaller streams
are called. They remain full and bear stately ships at all seasons of
the year. Uniform and reliable is the custom of this country; to-day one
way, to-morrow another, is the Italian habit. It’s just the same with
the blades in the fencing-school.”

“The Italians wield dangerous weapons,” said von Warmond.

“Very true, but they bend to and fro and lack firmness. I know what
I’m talking about, for I lodged with my colleague Torelli, the best
fencing-master in the city. I’ll say nothing of the meals he set
before me. To-day macaroni, to-morrow macaroni with a couple of chicken
drumsticks to boot, and so on. I’ve often drawn my belt tighter after
dinner. As for the art of fencing, Torelli is certainly no bungler, but
he too has the skipping fashion in his method. You must keep your eyes
open in a passado with him, but if I can once get to my quarte, tierce,
and side-thrust, I have him.”

“An excellent series,” said Junker von Warmond. “It has been useful to
me.”

“I know, I know,” replied the captain eagerly. “You silenced the
French brawler with it at Namur. There’s the catch in my throat again.
Something will happen to-day, gentlemen, something will surely happen.”

The fencing-master grasped the front of his ruff with his left hand and
set the glass on the table with his right. He had often done so far more
carelessly, but to-day the glass shattered into many fragments.

“That’s nothing,” cried the young nobleman. “Waiter, another glass for
Captain Allertssohn.”

The fencing-master pushed his chair back from the table, and looking
at the broken pieces of greenish glass, said in an altered tone, as if
speaking to himself rather than his companions:

“Yes, yes, something serious will happen to-day. Shattered into a
thousand pieces. As God wills! I know where my place is.”

Von Warmond filled a fresh glass, saying with a slight shade of reproof
in his tone: “Why, Captain, Captain, what whims are these? Before the
battle of Brill I fell in jumping out of the boat and broke my sword.
I soon found another, but the idea came into my head: ‘you’ll meet your
death to-day.’ Yet here I sit, and hope to empty many a beaker with
you.”

“It has passed already,” said the fencing-master, raising his hat and
wiping the perspiration from his forehead with the back of his hand.
“Every one must meet his death-hour, and if mine is approaching
to-day--be it as God wills! My family won’t starve. The house on the new
Rhine is free from mortgage, and though they don’t inherit much else, I
shall leave my children an honest name and trustworthy friends. I know
you won’t lose sight of my second boy, the musician, Wilhelm. Nobody is
indispensable, and if Heaven wishes to call me from this command, Junker
von Nordwyk, Jan Van der Does, can fill my place. You, Herr von Warmond,
are in just the right spot, and the good cause will reach a successful
end even without me.”

The musician listened with surprise to the softened tone of the strange
man’s voice, but the young nobleman raised his drinking-cup, exclaiming:

“Such heavy thoughts for a light glass! You make too much of the matter,
Captain. Take your bumper again, and pledge me: Long live the noble art
of fencing, and your series: quarte, tierce and side-thrust!”

“They’ll live,” replied Allertssohn, “ay, they’ll live. Many hundreds of
noble gentlemen use the sword in this country, and the man who sits here
has taught them to wield it according to the rules. My series has served
many in duelling, and I, Andreas, their master, have made tierce follow
quarte and side-thrust tierce thousands of times, but always with
buttons on the foils and against padded doublets. Outside the walls, in
the battle-field, no one, often as I have pressed upon the leaders, has
ever stood against me in single combat. This Brescian sword-blade has
more than once pierced a Spanish jerkin, but the art I teach, gentlemen,
the art I love, to which my life has been devoted, I have never
practised in earnest. That is hard to bear, gentlemen, and if Heaven is
disposed, before calling him away from earth, to grant a poor man, who
is no worse than his neighbors, one favor, I shall be permitted to cross
blades once in a true, genuine duel, and try my series against an able
champion in a mortal struggle. If God would grant Andreas this--”

Before the fencing-master had finished the last sentence, an armed man
dashed the door open, shouting: “The light is raised at Leyderdorp!”

At these words Allertssohn sprang from his chair as nimbly as a youth,
drew himself up to his full height, adjusted his shoulder-belt and drew
down his sash, exclaiming:

“To the citadel, Hornist, and sound the call for assembling the troops.
To your volunteers, Captain Van Duivenvoorde. Post yourself with four
companies at the Hohenort Gate, to be ready to take part, if the battle
approaches the city-walls. The gunners must provide matches. Let the
garrisons in the towers be doubled. Klaas, go to the sexton of St.
Pancratius and tell him to ring the alarm-bell, to warn the people at
the fair. Your hand, Junker. I know you will be at your post, and you,
Meister Wilhelm.”

“I’ll go with you,” said the musician resolutely. “Don’t reject me. I
have remained quiet long enough; I shall stifle here.”

Wilhelm’s cheeks flushed, and his eyes sparkled with a lustre so bright
and angry, that Junker von Warmond looked at his phlegmatic friend in
astonishment, while the captain called:

“Then station yourself in the first company beside my ensign. You don’t
look as if you felt like jesting, and the work will be in earnest now,
bloody earnest.”

Allertssohn walked out of doors with a steady step, addressed his men
in a few curt, vigorous words, ordered the drummers to beat their drums,
while marching through the city, to rouse the people at the fair, placed
himself at the head of his trusty little band, and led them towards the
new Rhine.

The moon shone brightly down into the quiet streets, was reflected from
the black surface of the river, and surrounded the tall peaked gables of
the narrow houses with a silvery lustre. The rapid tramp of the soldiers
was echoed loudly back from the houses through the silence of the night,
and the vibration of the air, shaken by the beating of the drums, made
the panes rattle.

This time no merry children with paper flags and wooden swords preceded
the warriors, this time no gay girls and proud mothers followed them,
not even an old man, who remembered former days, when he himself bore
arms. As the silent troops reached the neighborhood of Allertssohn’s
house, the clock in the church-steeple slowly struck twelve, and
directly after the alarm-bell began to sound from the tower of
Pancratius.

A window in the second story of the fencing-toaster’s house was thrown
open, and his wife’s face appeared. An anxious married life with her
strange husband had prematurely aged pretty little Eva’s countenance,
but the mild moonlight transfigured her faded features. The beat of her
husband’s drums was familiar to her, and when she saw him at midnight
marching past to the horrible call of the alarm-bell, a terrible dread
overpowered her and would scarcely allow her to call: “Husband, husband!
What is the matter, Andreas?”

He did not hear, for the roll of the drums, the tramp of the soldiers’
feet on the pavement and the ringing of the alarm-bell drowned her
voice; but he saw her distinctly, and a strange feeling stole over him.
Her face, framed in a white kerchief and illumined by the moonlight,
seemed to him fairer than he had ever seen it since the days of his
wooing, and he felt so youthful and full of chivalrous daring, on his
way to the field of danger, that he drew himself up to his full height
and marched by, keeping most perfect time to the beat of the drums,
as in lover-like fashion he threw her a kiss with his left hand, while
waving his sword in the right.

The beating of drums and waving of banners had banished every gloomy
thought from his mind. So he marched on to the Gansort. There stood a
cart, the home of travelling traders, who had been roused from sleep by
the alarm-bell, and were hastily collecting their goods. An old woman,
amid bitter lamentations, was just harnessing a thin horse to the
shafts, and from a tiny window a child’s wailing voice was heard
calling, “mother, mother,” and then, “father, father.”

The fencing-master heard the cry. The smile faded from his lips, and his
step grew heavier. Then he turned and shouted a loud “Forward” to
his men. Wilhelm was marching close behind him and at a sign from the
captain approached; but Allertssohn, quickening his pace, seized the
musician’s arm, saying in a low tone:

“You’ll take the boy to teach?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Good; you’ll be rewarded for it some day,” replied the fencing-master,
and waving his sword, shouted: “Liberty to Holland, death to the
Spaniard, long live Orange!”

The soldiers joyously joined in the shout, and marched rapidly with him
through the Hohenort Gate into the open country and towards Leyderdorp.



CHAPTER XVIII.

Adrian hurried home with his vial, and in his joy at bringing the
sick lady relief, forgot her headache and struck the knocker violently
against the door. Barbara received him with a by no means flattering
greeting, but he was so full of the happiness of possessing the
dearly-bought treasure, that he fearlessly interrupted his aunt’s
reproving words, by exclaiming eagerly, in the consciousness of his good
cause:

“You’ll see; I have something here for the young lady; where is mother?”

Barbara perceived that the boy was the bearer of some good tidings,
which engrossed his whole attention, and the fresh happy face pleased
her so much, that she forgot to scold and said smiling:

“You make me very curious; what is the need of so much hurry?”

“I’ve bought something; is mother up-stairs?”

“Yes, show me what you have bought.”

“A remedy. Infallible, I tell you; a remedy for headache.”

“A remedy for headache?” asked the widow in astonishment. “Who told you
that fib?”

“Fib?” repeated the boy, laughing. “I got it below cost.”

“Show it to me, boy,” said Barbara authoritatively, snatching at the
vial, but Adrian stepped back, hid the medicine behind him, and replied:

“No, aunt; I shall take it to mother myself.”

“Did one ever hear of such a thing!” cried the widow. “Donkeys dance
on ropes, school-boys dabble in doctor’s business! Show me the thing at
once! We want no quack wares.”

“Quack wares!” replied Adrian eagerly. “It cost all my fair money, and
it’s good medicine.”

During this little discussion Doctor Bontius came down-stairs with the
burgomaster’s wife. He had heard the boy’s last words and asked sternly:

“Where did you get the stuff?”

With these words, he seized the hand of the lad, who did not venture to
resist the stern man, took the little vial and printed directions from
him and, after Adrian had curtly answered: “From Doctor Morpurgo!”
 continued angrily:

“The brew is good to be thrown away; only we must take care not to
poison the fishes with it, and the thing cost half a florin. You’re
a rich young man, Meister Adrian! If you have any superfluous capital
again, you can lend it to me.”

These words spoiled the boy’s pleasure, but did not convince him, and he
defiantly turned half away from the physician. Barbara understood what
was passing in his mind, and whispered compassionately to the doctor and
her sister-in-law:

“All his fair money to help the young lady.”

Maria instantly approached the disappointed child, drew his curly head
towards her and silently kissed his forehead, while the doctor read the
printed label, then without moving a muscle, said as gravely as ever:

“Morpurgo isn’t the worst of quacks, the remedy he prescribes here may
do the young lady good after all.” Adrian had been nearer crying than
laughing. Now he uttered a sigh of relief, but still clasped Maria’s
hand firmly, as he again turned his face towards the doctor, listening
intently while the latter continued:

“Two parts buckbeans, one part pepper-wort, and half a part valerian.
The latter specially for women. Let it steep in boiling water and drink
a cupful cold every morning and evening! Not bad--really not bad. You
have found a good remedy, my worthy colleague.

“I had something else to say to you, Adrian. My boys are going to the
English riders this evening, and would be glad to have you accompany
them. You can begin with the decoction to-day.”

The physician bowed to the ladies and went on; Barbara followed him into
the street, asking:

“Are you in earnest about the prescription?”

“Of course, of course,” replied the doctor, “my grandmother used this
remedy for headache, and she was a sensible woman. Evening and morning,
and the proper amount of sleep.”

Henrica occupied a pretty, tastefully-furnished room. The windows
looked out upon the quiet court-yard, planted with trees, adjoining the
chamois-leather work shops. She was allowed to sit up part of the day
in a cushioned arm-chair, supported by pillows. Her healthy constitution
was rapidly rallying. True, she was still weak, and the headache spoiled
whole days and nights. Maria’s gentle and thoughtful nature exerted a
beneficial influence upon her, and she cheerfully welcomed Barbara, with
her fresh face and simple, careful, helpful ways.

When Maria told her about the purchase Adrian had made for her, she was
moved to tears; but to the boy she concealed her grateful emotion under
jesting words, and greeted him with the exclamation:

“Come nearer, my preserver, and give me your hand.”

Afterwards, she always called him “my preserver” or, as she liked to
mingle Italian words with her Dutch, “Salvatore” or “Signor Salvatore.”
 She was particularly fond of giving the people, with whom she
associated, names of her own, and so called Barbara, whose Christian
name she thought frightful, “Babetta,” and little slender, pretty
Bessie, whose company she specially enjoyed, “the elf.” The
burgomaster’s wife only remained “Frau Maria,” and when the latter once
jestingly asked the cause of such neglect, Henrica replied that she
suited her name and her name her; had she been called Martha, she would
probably have named her “Maria.”

The invalid had passed a pleasant, painless day, and when towards
evening Adrian went to see the English riders and the fragrance of the
blooming lindens and the moonlight found their way through the open
windows of her room, she begged Barbara not to bring a light, and
invited Maria to sit down and talk with her.

From Adrian and Bessie the conversation turned upon their own childhood.
Henrica had grown up among her father’s boon companions, amid the
clinking of glasses and hunting-shouts, Maria in a grave burgher
household, and what they told each other seemed like tidings from a
strange world.

“It was easy for you to become the tall, white lily you are now,” said
Henrica, “but I must thank the saints, that I came off as well as I
did, for we really grew up like weeds, and if I hadn’t had a taste for
singing and the family priest hadn’t been such an admirable musician, I
might stand before you in a still worse guise. When will the doctor let
me hear you sing?”

“Next week; but you musn’t expect too much. You have too high an opinion
of me. Remember the proverb about still waters. Here in the depths it
often looks far less peaceful, than you probably suppose.”

“But you have learned to keep the surface calm when it storms; I
haven’t. A strange stillness has stolen over me here. Whether I owe it
to illness or to the atmosphere that pervades this house, I can’t tell,
but how long will it last? My soul used to be like the sea, when the
hissing waves plunge into black gulfs, the seagulls scream, and the
fishermen’s wives pray on the shore. Now the sea is calm. Don’t be too
much frightened, if it begins to rage again.”

At these words Maria clasped the excited girl’s hands, saying
beseechingly:

“Be quiet, be quiet, Henrica. You must think only of your recovery now.
And shall I confess something? I believe everything hard can be more
easily borne, if we can cast it impatiently forth like the sea of which
you speak; with me one thing is piled on another and remains lying
there, as if buried under the sand.”

“Until the hurricane comes, that sweeps it away. I don’t want to be an
evil prophet, but you surely remember these words. What a wild, careless
thing I was! Then a day came, that made a complete revolution in my
whole nature.”

“Did a false love wound you?” asked Maria modestly.

“No, except the false love of another,” replied Henrica bitterly. “When
I was a child this fluttering heart often throbbed more quickly, I
don’t know how often. First I felt something more than reverence for
the one-eyed chaplain, our music-teacher, and every morning placed fresh
flowers on his window, which he never noticed. Then--I was probably
fifteen--I returned the ardent glances of Count Brederode’s pretty page.
Once he tried to be tender, and received a blow from my riding-whip.
Next came a handsome young nobleman, who wanted to marry me when I was
barely sixteen, but he was even more heavily in debt than my father, so
he was sent home. I shed no tears for him, and when, two months after,
at a tournament in Brussels, I saw Don Frederic, the son of the great
Duke of Alva, fancied myself as much in love with him as ever any lady
worshipped her Amadis, though the affair never went beyond looks. Then
the storm, of which I have already spoken, burst, and that put an end to
love-making. I will tell you more about this at some future time; I need
not conceal it, for it has been no secret. Have you ever heard of my
sister? No? She was older than I, a creature-God never created
anything more perfect. And her singing! She came to my dead aunt’s, and
there--But I won’t excite myself uselessly--in short, the man whom she
loved with all the strength of her heart thrust her into misery, and
my father cursed and would not stretch out a finger to aid her. I never
knew my mother, but through Anna I never missed her. My sister’s fate
opened my eyes to men. During the last few years many have wanted me,
but I lacked confidence and, still more, love, for I shall never have
anything to do with that.”

“Until it finds you,” replied Maria. “It was wrong to speak of such
things with you, it excites you, and that is bad.”

“Never mind; it will do me good to relieve my heart. Did you love no one
before your husband?”

“Love? No, Henrica, I never really loved any one except him.”

“And your heart waited for the burgomaster, ere it beat faster?”

“No, it had not always remained quiet before; I grew up among social
people, old and young, and of course liked some better than others.”

“And surely one best of all.”

“I won’t deny it. At my sister’s wedding, my brother-in-law’s friend, a
young nobleman, came from Germany and remained several weeks with us. I
liked him, and remember him kindly even now.”

“Have you never heard from him again?”

“No; who knows what has become of him. My brother-in-law expected great
things from him, and he possessed many rare gifts, but was reckless,
fool-hardy, and a source of constant anxiety to his mother.”

“You must tell me more about him.”

“What is the use, Henrica?”

“I don’t want to talk any more, but I should like to be still, inhale
the fragrance of the lindens, and listen, only listen.”

“No, you must go to bed now. I’ll help you undress and, when you have
been alone an hour, come back again.”

“One learns obedience in your house, but when my preserver comes home,
bring him here. He must tell me about the English riders. There
comes Frau Babetta with his decoction. You shall see that I take it
punctually.”

The boy returned home late, for he had enjoyed all the glories of the
fair with the doctor’s children. He was permitted to pay only a short
visit to Henrica, and did not see his father at all, the latter having
gone to a night council at Herr Van Bronkhorst’s.

The next morning the fair holidays were to end, school would begin and
Adrian had intended to finish his tasks this evening; but the visit
to the English riders had interfered, and he could not possibly appear
before the rector without his exercise. He frankly told Maria so, and
she cleared a place for him at the table where she was sewing, and
helped the young scholar with many a word and rule she had learned with
her dead brother.

When it lacked only half an hour of midnight, Barbara entered, saying:

“That’s enough now. You can finish the rest early to-morrow morning
before school.”

Without waiting for Maria’s reply, she closed the boy’s books and pushed
them together.

While thus occupied, the room shook with rude blows on the door of the
house. Maria threw down her sewing and started from her seat, while
Barbara exclaimed:

“For Heaven’s sake, what is it?” Adrian rushed into his father’s room
and opened the window.

The ladies had hurried after him, and before they could question the
disturber of the peace, a deep voice called:

“Open, I must come in.”

“What is it?” asked Barbara, who recognized a soldier in the moonlight.
“We can’t hear our own voices; stop that knocking.”

“Call the burgomaster!” shouted the messenger, who had been constantly
using the knocker. “Quick, woman; the Spaniards are coming.”

Barbara shrieked aloud and beat her hands. Maria turned pale, but
without losing her composure, replied: “The burgomaster is not at home,
but I’ll send for him. Quick, Adrian, call your father.”

The boy rushed down-stairs, meeting in the entry the man-servant
and Trautchen, who had jumped hastily out of bed, throwing on an
under-petticoat, and was now trying, with trembling hands, to unlock the
door. The man pushed her aside, and as soon as the door creaked on its
hinges, Adrian darted out and ran, as if in a race, down the street
to the commissioner’s. Arriving before any other messenger, he pressed
through the open door into the dining-hall and called breathlessly to
the men, who were holding a council over their wine:

“The Spaniards are here!”

The gentlemen hastily rose from their seats. One wanted to rush to the
citadel, another to the town-hall and, in the excitement of the moment,
no sensible reflection was made. Peter Van der Werff alone maintained
his composure and, after Allertssohn’s messenger had appeared and
reported that the captain and his men were on the way to Leyderdorp, the
burgomaster pointed out that the leaders’ care should now be devoted
to the people who had come to the fair. He and Van Hout undertook to
provide for them, and Adrian was soon standing with his father and the
city clerk among the crowds of people, who had been roused from sleep by
the wailing iron voice from the Tower or Pancratius.



CHAPTER XIX.

Adrian’s activity for this night was not yet over, for his father did
not prevent his accompanying him to the town-hall. There he directed him
to tell his mother, that he should be busy until morning and the servant
might send all persons, who desired to speak to him after one o’clock,
to the timber-market on the Rhine. Maria sent the boy back to the
town-hall, to ask his father if he did not want his cloak, wine, a lunch
or anything of the sort.

The boy fulfilled this commission with great zeal, for he never had
felt so important as while forcing his way through the crowds that
had gathered in the narrower streets; he had a duty to perform, and
at night, the time when other boys were asleep, especially his
school-mates, who certainly would not be allowed to leave the house now.
Besides, an eventful period, full of the beating of drums, the blare of
trumpets, the rattle of musketry and roar of cannon might be expected.
It seemed as if the game “Holland against Spain” was to be continued in
earnest, and on a grand scale. All the vivacity of his years seized
upon him, and when he had forced a way with his elbows to less crowded
places, he dashed hurriedly along, shouting as merrily as if spreading
some joyful news in the darkness:

“They are coming!” “the Spaniards!” or “Hannibal ante portas.”

After learning on his return to the town-hall, that his father wanted
nothing and would send a constable if there was need of anything, he
considered his errand done and felt entitled to satisfy his curiosity.

This drew him first to the English riders. The tent where they had given
their performances had disappeared from the earth, and screaming men
and women were rolling up large pieces of canvas, fastening packs,
and swearing while they harnessed horses. The gloomy light of torches
mingled with the moonbeams and showed him on the narrow steps, that led
to a large four-wheeled cart, a little girl in shabby clothes, weeping
bitterly. Could this be the rosy-cheeked angel who, floating along on
the snow-white pony, had seemed to him like a happy creature from more
beautiful worlds? A scolding old woman now lifted the child into the
cart, but he followed the crowd and saw Doctor Morpurgo, no longer clad
in scarlet, but in plain dark cloth, mounted on a lean horse, riding
beside his cart. The negro was furiously urging the mule forward, but
his master seemed to have remained in full possession of the calmness
peculiar to him. His wares were of small value, and the Spaniards had
no reason to take his head and tongue, by which he gained more than he
needed.

Adrian followed him to the long row of booths in the wide street, and
there saw things, which put an end to his thoughtlessness and made him
realize, that the point in question now concerned serious, heart-rending
matters. He had still been able to laugh as he saw the ginger-bread
bakers and cotton-sellers fighting hand to hand, because in the first
fright they had tossed their packages of wares hap-hazard into each
other’s open chests, and were now unable to separate their property;
but he felt sincerely sorry for the Delft crockery-dealer on the corner,
whose light booth had been demolished by a large wagon from Gouda,
loaded with bales, and who now stood beside her broken wares, by means
of which she supported herself and children, wringing her hands, while
the driver, taking no notice of her, urged on his horses with loud
cracks of his whip. A little girl, who had lost her parents and was
being carried away by a compassionate burgher woman, was weeping
piteously. A poor rope-dancer, who had been robbed by a thief in the
crowd, of the little tin box containing the pennies he had collected,
was running about, ringing his hands and looking for the watchman.
A shoemaker was pounding riding-boots and women’s shoes in motley
confusion into a wooden chest with rope handles, while his wife, instead
of helping him, tore her hair and shrieked: “I told you so, you fool,
you simpleton, you blockhead! They’ll come and rob us of everything.”

At the entrance of the street that led past the Assendelft house to the
Leibfrau Bridge, several loaded wagons had become entangled, and the
drivers, instead of getting down and procuring help, struck at each
other in their terror, hitting the women and children seated among the
bales. Their cries and shrieks echoed a long distance, but were destined
to be drowned, for a dancing-bear had broken loose and was putting every
one near him to flight. The people, who were frightened by the beast,
rushed down the street, screaming and yelling, dragging with them others
who did not know the cause of the alarm, and misled by the most imminent
fear, roared: “The Spaniards! The Spaniards!” Whatever came in the
way of the terrified throngs was overthrown. A sieve-dealer’s child,
standing beside its father’s upset cart, fell beneath the mob close
beside Adrian, who had stationed himself in the door-way of a house. But
the lad was crowded so closely into his hiding-place, that he could not
spring to the little one’s aid, and his attention was attracted to a
new sight, as Janus Dousa appeared on horseback. In answer to the cry
of “The Spaniards! The Spaniards!” he shouted loudly: “Quiet, people,
quiet! The enemy hasn’t come yet! To the Rhine! Vessels are waiting
there for all strangers. To the Rhine! There are no Spaniards there, do
you hear, no Spaniards!”

The nobleman stopped just before Adrian, for his horse could go no
farther and stood snorting and trembling under his rider. The advice
bore little fruit, and not until hundreds had rushed past him, did the
frightened crowd diminish. The bear, from which they fled, had been
caught by a brewer’s apprentice and taken back to its owner long before.
The city constables now appeared, led by Adrian’s father, and the boy
followed them unobserved to the timber-market on the southern bank of
the Rhine. There another crowd met him, for many dealers had hurried
thither to save their property in the ships. Men and women pressed past
bales and wares, that were being rolled down the narrow wooden bridges
to the vessels. A woman, a child, and a rope-maker’s cart had been
pushed into the water, and the wildest confusion prevailed around the
spot. But the burgomaster reached the place just at the right time,
gave directions for rescuing the drowning people, and then made every
exertion to bring order out of the confusion.

The constables were commanded to admit fugitives only on board the
vessels bound for the places where they belonged; two planks were laid
to every ship, One for goods, the other for passengers; the constables
loudly shouted that--as the law directed when the alarm-bell rang--all
citizens of Leyden must enter their houses and the streets be cleared,
on pain of a heavy penalty. All the city gates were opened for the
passage of wheeled vehicles, except the Hohenort Gate, which led to
Leyderdorp, where egress was refused. Thus the crowd in the streets
was lessened, order appeared amid the tumult, and when, in the dawn of
morning, Adrian turned his steps towards home, there was little more
bustle in the streets than on ordinary nights.

His mother and Barbara had been anxious, but he told them about his
father and in what manner he had put a stop to the confusion.

While talking, the rattle of musketry was heard in the distance, awaking
such excitement in Adrian’s mind, that he wanted to rush out again; but
his mother stopped him and he was obliged to mount the stairs to his
room. He did not go to sleep, but climbed to the upper loft in the gable
of the rear building and gazed through the window, to which the bales of
leather were raised by pulleys, towards the east, from whence the sound
of firing was still audible. But he saw nothing except the dawn and
light clouds of smoke, that assumed a rosy hue as they floated upward.
As nothing new appeared, his eyes closed, and he fell asleep beside the
open window where he dreamed of a bloody battle and the English riders.
His slumber was so sound, that he did not hear the rumble of wheels in
the quiet courtyard below him. The carts from which the noise proceeded
belonged to traders from neighboring cities, who preferred to leave
their goods in the threatened town, rather than carry them towards the
advancing Spaniards. Meister Peter had allowed some of them to store
their property with him. The carts were obliged to pass through the
back-building with the workshops, and the goods liable to be injured
by the weather, were to be placed in the course of the day in the large
garrets of his house.

The burgomaster’s wife had gone to Henrica at midnight to soothe her
fears, but the sick girl seemed free from all anxiety, and when she
heard that the Spaniards were on the march, her eyes sparkled joyously.
Maria noticed it and turned away from her guest, but she repressed the
harsh words that sprang to her lips, wished her good-night, and left the
chamber.

Henrica gazed thoughtfully after her and then rose, for no sleep was
possible that night. The alarm-bell in the Tower of Pancratius rang
incessantly, and more than once doors opened, voices and shots were
heard. Many tones and noises, whose origin and nature she could not
understand, reached her ears, and when morning dawned, the court-yard
under her windows, usually so quiet, was full of bustle. Carts rattled,
loud tones mingled excitedly, and a deep masculine voice seemed to be
directing what was going on. Her curiosity and restlessness increased
every moment. She listened so intently that her head began to ache
again, but could hear only separate words and those very indistinctly.
Had the city been surrendered to the Spaniards, had King Philip’s
soldiers found quarters in the burgomaster’s house? Her blood boiled
indignantly, when she thought of the Castilians’ triumph and the
humiliation of her native land, but soon her former joyous excitement
again filled her mind, as she beheld in imagination art re-enter the
bare walls of the Leyden churches, now robbed of all their ornaments,
chanting processions move through the streets, and priests in rich robes
celebrating mass in the newly-decorated tabernacles, amid beautiful
music, the odor of incense, and the ringing of bells. She expected to
receive from the Spaniards a place where she could pray and free her
soul by confession. Amid her former surroundings nothing had afforded
her any support, except her religion. A worthy priest, who was also her
instructor, had zealously striven to prove to her, that the new religion
threatened to destroy the mystical consecration of life, the yearning
for the beautiful, every ideal emotion of the human soul, and with
them art also; so Henrica preferred to see her native land Spanish
and Catholic, rather than free from the foreigners whom she hated and
Calvinistical.

The court-yard gradually became less noisy, but when the first rays of
morning light streamed into her windows, the bustle again commenced and
grew louder. Heavy soles tramped upon the pavement, and amid the voices
that now mingled with those she had formerly heard, she fancied she
distinguished Maria’s and Barbara’s. Yes, she was not mistaken. That
cry of terror must proceed from her friend’s mouth, and was followed by
exclamations of grief from bearded lips and loud sobs.

Evil tidings must have reached her host’s house, and the woman weeping
so impetuously below was probably kind “Babetta.”

Anxiety drove her from her bed. On the little table beside it, amid
several bottles and glasses, the lamp and the box of matches, stood the
tiny bell, at whose faint sound one of her nurses invariably hastened
in. Henrica rang it three times, then again and again, but nobody
appeared. Then her hot blood boiled, and half from impatience and
vexation, half from curiosity and sympathy, she slipped into her shoes,
threw on a morning dress, went to the chair which stood on the platform
in the niche, opened the window, and looked down at the groups gathered
below.

No one noticed her, for the men who stood there sorrowing, and the
weeping women, among whom were Maria and Barbara, were listening with
many tokens of sympathy to the eager words of a young man, and had eyes
and ears for him alone. Henrica recognized in the speaker the musician
Wilhelm, but only by his voice, for the morion on his curls and the
blood-stained coat of mail gave the unassuming artist a martial, nay
heroic air.

He had advanced a long way in his story, when Henrica unseen became a
listener.

“Yes, sir,” he replied, in answer to a question from the burgomaster,
“we followed them, but they disappeared in the village and all remained
still. To risk storming the houses, would have been madness. So we
kept quiet, but towards two o’clock heard firing in the neighborhood
of Leyderdorp. ‘Junker von Warmond has made a sally,’ said the captain,
leading us in the direction of the firing. This was what the Spaniards
had wanted, for long before we reached the goal, a company of
Castilians, with white sheets over their armor, climbed out of a
ditch in the dim light, threw themselves on their knees, murmured a
‘Pater-noster,’ shouted their San Jago and pressed forward upon us. We
had seen them in time for the halberdiers to extend their pikes, and
the musketeers to be down amid the grass. So the Spaniards had a warm
reception, and four of them fell in this attack. We were superior in
numbers, and their captain led them back to the ditch in good order.
There they halted, for their duty was probably to detain us and then
have us cut down by a larger body. We were too weak to drive them from
their position, but when the east began to brighten and they still did
not come forward, the captain advanced towards them with the drummer,
bearing a white flag, and shouted to them in Italian, which he had
learned to speak a little in Italy, that he wished the Castilian
gentlemen good-morning, and if there was any officer with a sense of
honor among them, let him come forth and meet a captain who wished to
cross swords with him. He pledged his word, that his men would look on
at the duel without taking any share in it, no matter what the result
might be. Just at that moment two shots were fired from the ditch and
the bullets whizzed close by the poor captain. We called to him to save
his life, but he did not stir, and shouted that they were cowards and
assassins, like their king.

“Meantime it had grown tolerably light--we heard them calling to and
fro from the ditch, and just as Allertssohn was turning away, an officer
sprang into the meadow, exclaiming: ‘Stand, braggart, and draw your
blade.’

“The captain drew his Brescian sword, bowed to his enemy as if he were
in the fencing-school, bent the steel and closed with the Castilian. The
latter was a thin man of stately figure and aristocratic bearing, and
as it soon appeared, a dangerous foe. He circled like a whirlwind, round
the captain with bounds, thrusts and feints, but Allertssohn maintained
his composure, and at first confined himself to skilful parrying. Then
he dealt a magnificent quarte, and when the other parried it, followed
with the tierce, and this being warded off, gave with the speed of
lightning a side-thrust such as only he can deal. The Castilian fell on
his knees, for the Brescian blade had pierced his lungs. His death was
speedy.

“As soon as he lay on the turf, the Spaniards again rushed upon us, but
we repulsed them and took the officer’s body in our midst. Never have I
seen the captain so proud and happy. You, Junker von Warmond, can easily
guess the cause. He had now done honor to his series in a genuine
duel against an enemy of equal rank, and told me this was the happiest
morning of his life. Then he ordered us to march round the ditch and
attack the enemy on the flank. But scarcely had we begun to move, when
the expected troops from Leyderdorp pressed forward, their loud San Jago
resounding far and wide, while at the same time the old enemy rose from
the ditch and attacked us. Allertssohn rushed forward, but did not reach
them--oh, gentlemen! I shall never forget it, a bullet struck him down
at my side. It probably pierced his heart, for he said: nothing but:
‘Remember the boy!’ stretched out his powerful frame and died. We wanted
to bear his body away with us, but were pressed by superior numbers,
and it was hard enough to come within range of Junker von Warmond’s
volunteers. The Spaniards did not venture so far. Here we are. The
Castilian’s body is lying in the tower at the Hohenort Gate. These are
the papers we found in the dead man’s doublet, and this is his ring; he
has a proud escutcheon.”

Peter Van der Werff took the dead man’s letter-case in his hand, looked
through it and said: “His name was Don Luis d’Avila.”

He said no more, for his wife had seen Henrica’s head stretched far out
of the window, and cried loudly in terror: “Fraulein, for Heaven’s sake,
Fraulein--what are you doing?”



CHAPTER XX.

The burgomaster’s wife had been anxious about Henrica, but the latter
greeted her with special cheerfulness and met her gentle reproaches with
the assurance that this morning had done her good. Fate, she said,
was just, and if it were true that confidence of recovery helped the
physician, Doctor Bontius would have an easy task with her. The dead
Castilian must be the wretch, who had plunged her sister Anna into
misery. Maria, surprised, but entirely relieved, left her and sought her
husband to tell him how she had found the invalid, and in what relation
the Spanish officer, slain by Allertssohn, seemed to have stood to
Henrica and her sister. Peter only half listened to her, and when
Barbara brought him a freshly-ironed ruff, interrupted his wife in the
middle of her story, gave her the dead man’s letter-case, and said:

“There, let her satisfy herself, and bring it to me again in the
evening, I shall hardly be able to come to dinner; I suppose you’ll see
poor Allertssohn’s widow in the course of the day.”

“Certainly,” she answered eagerly. “Whom will you appoint in his place?”

“That is for the Prince to decide.”

“Have you thought of any means of keeping the communication with Delft
free from the enemy?”

“On your mother’s account?”

“Not solely. Rotterdam also lies to the south. We can expect nothing
from Haarlem and Amsterdam, that is, from the north, for everything
there is in the hands of the Spaniards.”

“I’ll get you a place in the council of war. Where do you learn your
wisdom?”

“We have our thoughts, and isn’t it natural that I should rather follow
you into the future with my eyes open, than blindly? Has the English
troop been used to secure the fortifications on the old canal? Kaak too
is an important point.”

Peter gazed at his wife in amazement, and the sense of discomfort
experienced by an unskilful writer, when some one looks over his
shoulder, stole over him. She had pointed out a bad, momentous error,
which, it is true, did not burden him alone, and as he certainly did not
wish to defend it to her, and moreover might have found justification
difficult, he made no reply, saying nothing but: “Men’s affairs!
Good-bye until evening.” With these words he walked past Barbara,
towards the door.

Maria did not know how it happened, but before he laid his hand on the
latch she gained sufficient self-command to call after him:

“Are you going so, Peter! Is that right? What did you promise me on your
return from the journey to the Prince?”

“I know, I know,” he answered impatiently. “We cannot serve two masters,
and in these times I beg you not to trouble me with questions and
matters that don’t concern you. To direct the business of the city is
my affair; you have your invalid, the children, the poor; let that
suffice.”

Without waiting for her reply he left the room, while she stood
motionless, gazing after him.

Barbara watched her anxiously for several minutes, then busied herself
with the papers on her brother’s writing-table, saying as if to herself,
though turning slightly towards her sister-in-law:

“Evil times! Let every one, who is not oppressed with such burdens as
Peter, thank the Lord. He has to bear the responsibility of everything,
and people can’t dance lightly with hundred-pound weights on their
legs. Nobody has a better heart, and nobody means more honestly. How the
traders at the fair praised his caution! In the storm people know the
pilot, and Peter was always greatest, when things were going worst.
He knows what he is undertaking, but the last few weeks have aged him
years.”

Maria nodded. Barbara left the room, but returning after a few minutes,
said beseechingly:

“You look ill, child, come and lie down. An hour’s sleep is better than
three meals. At your age, such a night as this last one doesn’t pass
without leaving traces. The sun is shining so brightly, that I’ve drawn
your window-curtains. I’ve made your bed, too. Be sensible and come.”

While uttering the last words, she took Maria’s hand and drew her away.
The young wife made no resistance, and though her eyes did not remain
dry when she was alone, sleep soon overpowered her.

Towards noon, refreshed by slumber, and newly dressed, she went to the
captain’s house. Her own heart was heavy, and compassion for herself
and her own fate again had the mastery. Eva Peterstochter, the
fencing-master’s widow, a quiet, modest woman, whom she scarcely knew by
sight, did not appear. She was sitting alone in her room, weeping,
but Maria found in her house the musician, Wilhelm, who had spoken
comforting words to his old friend’s son, and promised to take charge of
him and make him a good performer.

The burgomaster’s wife sent a message to the widow, begging to see her
the next day, and then went out into the street with Wilhelm. Everywhere
groups of citizens, women, and journeymen were standing together,
talking about what had happened and the coming trouble. While Maria
was telling the musician who the dead Castilian was, and that Henrica
desired to speak with him, Wilhelm, as soon as possible, she was
interrupted more than once; for sometimes a company of volunteers
or city guards, relieved from duty in the towers and on the walls,
sometimes a cannon barred their way. Was it the anticipation of coming
events, or the beat of drums and blare of trumpets, which so excited her
companion, that he often pressed his hand to his forehead and she
was obliged to request him to slacken his pace. There was a strange,
constrained tone in his voice as, in accordance with her request, he
told her that the Spaniards had come by ship up the Amstel, the Drecht,
and the Brasem See to the Rhine and landed at Leyderdorp.

A mounted messenger wearing the Prince’s colors, and followed not only
by children, but by grown persons, who ran after him eager to reach
the town-hall at the same time, interrupted Wilhelm, and as soon as
the crowd had passed, the burgomaster’s wife asked her companion one
question after another. The noise of war, the firing audible in the
distance, the gay military costumes everywhere to be seen in place of
the darker citizens’ dress, also aroused her eager interest, and what
she learned from Wilhelm was little calculated to diminish it. The main
body of the Spanish troops was on the way to the Hague. The environment
of the city had commenced, but the enemy could hardly succeed in
his purpose; for the English auxiliaries, who were to defend the new
fortifications of Valkenburg, the village of Alfen, and the Gouda
sluice might be trusted. Wilhelm had seen the British soldiers, their
commander, Colonel Chester, and Captain Gensfort, and praised their
superb equipments and stately bearing.

On reaching her own house, Maria attempted to take leave of her
companion, but the latter earnestly entreated permission to have an
interview with Henrica at once, and could scarcely be convinced that he
must have patience until the doctor had given his consent.

At dinner Adrian, who when his father was not present, talked freely
enough, related all sorts of things he had seen himself, as well as news
and rumors heard at school and in the street, his eloquence being no
little encouraged by his step-mother’s eager questions.

Intense anxiety had taken possession of the burgomaster’s wife. Her
enthusiasm for the cause of liberty, to which her most beloved relatives
had fallen victims, blazed brightly, and wrath against the oppressors
of her native land seethed passionately in her breast. The delicate,
maidenly, reserved woman, who was utterly incapable of any loud or rude
expression of feeling in ordinary life, would now have rushed to the
walls, like Kanau Hasselaer of Haarlem, to fight the foe among the men.

Offended pride, and everything that an hour ago had oppressed her
heart, yielded to sympathy for her country’s cause. Animated with fresh
courage, she went to Henrica and, as evening had closed in, sat down by
the lamp to write to her mother; for she had neglected to do so since
the invalid’s arrival, and communication with Delft might soon be
interrupted.

When she read over the completed letter, she was satisfied with it and
herself, for it breathed firm confidence in the victory of the good
cause, and also distinctly and unconstrainedly expressed her cheerful
willingness to bear the worst.

Barbara had retired when Peter at last appeared, so weary that he could
scarcely touch the meal that had been kept ready for him. While raising
the food to his lips, he confirmed the news Maria had already heard from
the musician, and was gentle and kind, but his appearance saddened her,
for it recalled Barbara’s allusion to the heavy burden he had assumed.
To-day, for the first time, she noticed two deep lines that anxiety had
furrowed between his eyes and lips, and full of tender compassion, went
behind him, laid her hands on his cheeks and kissed him on the forehead.
He trembled slightly, seized her slender right hand so impetuously that
she shrank back, raised it first to his lips, then to his eyes, and held
it there for several minutes.

At last he rose, passed before her into his sleeping-room, bade her an
affectionate good-night, and lay down to rest. When she too sought her
bed, he was breathing heavily. Extreme fatigue had quickly overpowered
him. The slumber of both was destined to be frequently interrupted
during this night, and whenever Maria woke, she heard her husband sigh
and moan. She did not stir, that she might not disturb the sleep he
sought and needed, and twice held her breath, for he was talking to
himself. First he murmured softly: “Heavy, too heavy,” and then: “If I
can only bear it.”

When she awoke next morning, he had already left the room and gone to
the town-hall. At noon he returned home, saying that the Spaniards had
taken the Hague and been hailed with delight by the pitiful adherents
of the king. Fortunately, the well-disposed citizens and Beggars had had
time to escape to Delft, for brave Nicolas Ruichhaver had held the
foe in check for a time at Geestburg. The west was still open, and the
newly-fortified fort of Valkenburg, garrisoned by the English soldiers,
would not be so easy to storm. On the east, other British auxiliaries
were posted at Alfen in the Spaniards’ rear.

The burgomaster told all this unasked, but did not speak as freely and
naturally as when conversing with men. While talking, he often looked
into his plate and hesitated. It seemed as if he were obliged to impose
a certain restraint upon himself, in order to speak before women,
servants, and children, of matters he was in the habit of discussing
only with men of his own position. Maria listened attentively, but
maintained a modest reserve, urging him only by loving looks and
sympathizing exclamations, while Barbara boldly asked one question after
another.

The meal was approaching an end, when Junker von Warmond entered
unannounced, and requested the burgomaster to accompany him at once, for
Colonel Chester was standing before the White Gate with a portion of his
troops, asking admittance to the city.

At these tidings, Peter dashed his mug of beer angrily on the table,
sprang from his seat, and left the room before the nobleman.

During the late hours of the afternoon, the Van der Werff house was
crowded with people. The gossips came to talk over with Barbara the
events occurring at the White Gate. Burgomaster Van Swieten’s wife had
heard from her own husband, that the Englishmen, without making any
resistance, had surrendered the beautiful new fort of Valkenburg and
taken to their heels, at the mere sight of the Spaniards. The enemy had
marched out from Haarlem through the downs above Nordwyk, and it would
have been an easy matter for the Britons to hold the strong position.

“Fine aid such helpers give!” cried Barbara indignantly. “Let Queen
Elizabeth keep the men on her island for herself, and send us the
women.”

“Yet they are real sons of Anak, and bear themselves like trim
soldiers,” said the wife of the magistrate Heemskerk. “High boots,
doublets of fine leather, gay plumes in their morions and hats, large
coats of mail, halberds that would kill half a dozen--and all like new.”

“They probably didn’t want to spoil them, and so found a place of safety
as soon as possible, the windy cowards,” cried the wife of Church-warden
de Haes, whose sharp tongue was well known. “You seem to have looked at
them very closely, Frau Margret.”

“From the wind-mill at the gate,” replied the other. “The envoy stopped
on the bridge directly under us. A handsome man on a stately horse. His
trumpeter too was mounted, and the velvet cloth on his trumpet bristled
with beautiful embroidery in gold thread and jewels. They earnestly
entreated admittance, but the gate remained closed.”

“Right, right!” cried Frau Heemskerk. “I don’t like the Prince’s
commissioner, Van Bronkhorst. What does he care for us, if only the
Queen doesn’t get angry and withdraw the subsidies? I’ve heard he wants
to accommodate Chester and grant him admission.”

“He would like to do so,” added Frau Van Hout. “But your husband, Frau
Maria, and mine--I was talking with him on the way here--will make every
effort to prevent it. The two Seigneurs of Nordwyk are of their opinion,
so perhaps the commissioner will be out-voted.”

“May God grant it!” cried the resolute voice of Wilhelm’s mother. “By
to-morrow or the day after, not even a cat will be allowed to leave the
gates, and my husband says we must begin to save provisions at once.”

“Five hundred more consumers in the city, to lessen our children’s
morsels; that would be fine business!” cried Frau de Haes, throwing
herself back in her chair so violently, that it creaked, and beating her
knees with her hands.

“And they are Englishmen, Frau Margret, Englishmen,” said the
Receiver-General’s wife. “They don’t eat, they don’t consume, they
devour. We supply our troops; but Herr von Nordwyk--I mean the younger
one, who has been at the Queen’s court as the Prince’s ambassador, told
my Wilhelm what a British glutton can gobble. They’ll clear off your
beef like cheese, and our beer is dish-water compared with their black
malt brew.”

“All that might be borne,” replied Barbara, “if they were stout
soldiers. We needn’t mind a hundred head of cattle more or less, and
the glutton becomes temperate, when a niggard rules the house. But I
wouldn’t take one of our Adrian’s grey rabbits for these runaways.”

“It would be a pity,” said Frau de Haes. “I shall go home now, and if
I find my husband, he’ll learn what sensible people think of the
Englishmen.”

“Gently, my friend, gently,” said Burgomaster Van Swieten’s wife, who
had hitherto been playing quietly with the cat. “Believe me, it will be
just the same on the whole, whether we admit the auxiliaries or not, for
before the gooseberries in our gardens are ripe, all resistance will be
over.”

Maria, who was passing cakes and hippocras, set her waiter on the table
and asked:

“Do you wish that, Frau Magtelt?”

“I do,” replied the latter positively, “and many sensible people wish
it too. No resistance is possible against such superior force, and
the sooner we appeal to the King’s mercy, the more surely it will be
granted.”

The other women listened to the bold speaker in silence, but Maria
approached and answered indignantly:

“Whoever says that, can go to the Spaniards at once; whoever says that,
desires the disgrace of the city and country; whoever says that--”

Frau Magtelt interrupted Maria with a forced laugh, saying:

“Do you want to school experienced women, Madam Early-Wise? Is it
customary to attack a visitor?”

“Customary or not,” replied the other, “I will never permit such words
in our house, and if they crossed the lips of my own sister I would say
to her Go, you are my friend no longer!”

Maria’s voice trembled, and she pointed with outstretched arm towards
the door.

Frau Magtelt struggled for composure, but as she left the room found
nothing to say, except: “Don’t be troubled, don’t be troubled--you won’t
see me again.”

Barbara followed the offended woman, and while those who remained fixed
their eyes in embarrassment upon their laps, Wilhelm’s mother exclaimed:

“Well said, little woman, well said!”

Herr Van Hout’s kind wife threw her arm around Maria, kissed her
forehead, and whispered:

“Turn away from the other women and dry your eyes.”



CHAPTER XXI.

A story is told of a condemned man, whom his cruel executioner cast into
a prison of ingenious structure. Each day the walls of this cage grew
narrower and narrower, each day they pressed nearer and nearer to the
unfortunate prisoner, until in despair he died and the dungeon became
his coffin. Even so, league by league, the iron barriers of the Spanish
regiments drew nearer and nearer Leyden, and, if they succeeded in
destroying the resistance of their victim, the latter was threatened
with a still more cruel and pitiless end than that of the unhappy
prisoner. The girdle Valdez, King Philip’s commander, and his skilful
lieutenant, Don Ayala, had drawn around the city in less than two days,
was already nearly closed, the fort of Valkenburg, strengthened with
the utmost care, belonged to the enemy, and the danger had advanced
more rapidly and with far more irresistible strength, than even the most
timid citizens had feared. If Leyden fell, its houses would be delivered
to fire and pillage, its men to death, its women to disgrace--this was
guaranteed by the fate of other conquered cities and the Spanish nature.

Who could imagine the guardian angel of the busy city, except under a
sullen sky, with clouded brow and anxious eyes, and yet it looked as gay
and bright at the White Gate as if a spring festival was drawing to
a close with a brilliant exhibition. Wherever the walls, as far as
Catherine’s Tower, afforded a foothold, they were crowded with men,
women, and children. The old masonry looked like the spectators’ seats
in an arena, and the buzzing of the many-headed, curious crowd was heard
for a long distance in the city.

It is a kind dispensation of Providence, that enables men to enjoy a
brief glimpse of sunshine amid terrible storms, and thus the journeymen
and apprentices, women and children, forgot the impending danger and
feasted their eyes on the beautifully-dressed English soldiers, who were
looking up at them, nodding and laughing saucily to the young girls,
though part of them, it is true, were awaiting with thoughtful faces the
results of the negotiations going on within the walls.

The doors of the White Gate now opened; Commissioner Van Bronkhorst, Van
der Werff, Van Hout and other leaders of the community accompanied the
British colonel and his trumpeter to the bridge. The former seemed to be
filled with passionate indignation and several times struck his hand on
the hilt of his sword, the Leyden magistrates were talking to him, and
at last took leave with low bows, which he answered only with a haughty
wave of the hand. The citizens returned, the portals of the gate closed,
the old lock creaked, the iron-shod beams fell back into their places,
the chains of the drawbridge rattled audibly, and the assembled throng
now knew that the Englishmen had been refused admittance to the city.

Loud cheers, mingled with many an expression of displeasure, were heard.
“Long live Orange!” shouted the boys, among whom were Adrian and the
son of the dead fencing-master Allertssohn; the women waved their
handkerchiefs, and all eyes were fixed on the Britons. A loud flourish
of trumpets was heard, the English mounted officers dashed towards the
colonel and held a short council of war with him, interrupted by hasty
words from several individuals, and soon after a signal was sounded. The
soldiers hurriedly, formed in marching array, many of them shaking their
fists at the city. Halberds and muskets, which had been stacked, were
seized by their owners and, amid the beating of drums and blare of
trumpets, order arose out of the confusion. Individuals fell into ranks,
ranks into companies, gay flags were unfurled and flung to the evening
breeze, and with loud hurrahs the troops marched along the Rhine towards
the south-west, where the Spanish outposts were stationed.

The Leyden boys joined loudly in the Englishmen’s cheer.

Even Andreas, the fencing-master’s son, had begun to shout with them;
but when he saw a tall captain marching proudly before his company, his
voice failed and, covering his eyes with his hands, he ran home to his
mother.

The other lads did not notice him, for the setting sun flashed so
brightly on the coats of mail and helmets of the soldiers, the trumpets
sounded so merrily, the officers’ steeds caracoled so proudly under
their riders, the gay plumes and banners and the smoke of the glimmering
matches gained such beautiful hues in the roseate light of sunset, that
eyes and ears seemed spellbound by the spectacle. But a fresh incident
now attracted the attention of great and small.

Thirty-six Englishmen, among them several officers, lingered behind the
others and approached the gate. Again the lock creaked and the chains
rattled. The little band was admitted to the city and welcomed at
the first houses of the northern end by Herr Van Bronkhorst and the
burgomaster.

Every one on the walls had expected, that a skirmish between the
retreating Englishmen and Castilians would now take place before their
eyes. But they were greatly mistaken. Before the first ranks reached
the enemy, the matches for lighting the cannon flew through the air, the
banners were lowered, and when darkness came and the curious spectators
dispersed, they knew that the Englishmen had deserted the good cause and
gone over to the Spaniards.

The thirty-six men, who had been admitted through the gates, were the
only ones who refused to be accessory to this treason.

The task of providing quarters for Captain Cromwell and the other
Englishmen and Netherlanders, who had remained faithful, was assigned
to Van Hout. Burgomaster Van der Werff went home with Commissioner
Van Bronkhorst. Many a low-voiced but violent word had been exchanged
between them. The commissioner protested that the Prince would be highly
incensed at the refusal to admit the Englishmen, for with good reason he
set great value on Queen Elizabeth’s favorable disposition to the cause
of freedom, to which the burgomaster and his friends had rendered bad
service that day. Van der Werff denied this, for everything depended
upon holding Leyden. After the fall of this city, Delft, Rotterdam and
Gouda would also be lost, and all farther efforts to battle for the
liberty of Holland useless. Five hundred consumers would prematurely
exhaust the already insufficient stock of provisions. Everything had
been done to soften their refusal to admit the Englishmen, nay they had
had free choice to encamp beneath the protection of the walls under the
cannon of the city.

When the two men parted, neither had convinced the other, but each felt
sure of his comrade’s loyalty. As Peter took leave, he said:

“Van Hout shall explain the reasons for our conduct to the Prince, in
a letter as clear and convincing as only he can make it, and his
excellency will finally approve of it. Rely upon that.”

“We will wait,” replied the commissioner, “but don’t forget that we
shall soon be shut within these walls behind bolts and bars, like
prisoners, and perhaps day after to-morrow no messenger will be able to
get to him.”

“Van Hout is swift with his pen.”

“And let a proclamation be read aloud, early tomorrow morning, advising
the women, old men and children, in short, all who will diminish the
stock of provisions and add no strength to the defence, to leave the
city. They can reach Delft without danger, for the roads leading to it
are still open.”

“Very well,” replied Peter. “It’s said that many girls and women have
gone to-day in advance of the others.”

“That’s right,” cried the commissioner. “We are driving in a fragile
vessel on the high seas. If I had a daughter in the house, I know what
I should do. Farewell till we meet again, Meister. How are matters at
Alfen? The firing is no longer heard.”

“Darkness has probably interrupted the battle.”

“We’ll hope for the best news to-morrow, and even if all the men outside
succumb, we within the walls will not flinch or yield.”

“We will hold out firmly to the end,” replied Peter resolutely.

“To the end, and, if God so wills it, a successful end.”

“Amen,” cried Peter, pressed the commissioner’s hand and pursued his way
home.

Barbara met him on the steps and wanted to call Maria, who was with
Henrica; but he forbade it and paced thoughtfully to and fro, his lips
often quivering as if he were suffering great pain. When, after some
time, he heard his wife’s voice in the dining-room, he controlled
himself by a violent effort, went to the door, and slowly opened it.

“You are at home already, and I sitting quietly here spinning!” she
exclaimed in surprise.

“Yes, child. Please come in here, I have something to say to you.”

“For Heaven’s sake! Peter, tell me what has happened. How your voice
sounds, and how pale you look!”

“I’m not ill, but matters are serious, terribly serious, Maria.”

“Then it is true that the enemy--”

“They gained great advantage to-day and yesterday, but I beg you, if you
love me, don’t interrupt me now; what I have to say is no easy thing, it
is hard to force the lips to utter it. Where shall I begin? How shall
I speak, that you may not misunderstand me? You know, child, I took you
into my house from a warm nest. What we could offer was very little,
and you had doubtless expected to find more. I know you have not been
happy.”

“But it would be so easy for you to make me so.”

“You are mistaken, Maria. In these troublous times but one thing claims
my thoughts, and whatever diverts them from it is evil. But just now
one thing paralyzes my courage and will-anxiety about your fate; for who
knows what is impending over us, and therefore it must be said, I must
take my heart to the shambles and express a wish.--A wish? Oh, merciful
Heaven, is there no other word for what I mean!”

“Speak, Peter, speak, and do not torture me!” cried Maria, gazing
anxiously into her husband’s face. It could be no small matter, that
induced the clear-headed, resolute man to utter such confused language.

The burgomaster summoned up his courage and began again:

“You are right, it is useless to keep back what must be said. We have
determined at the town-hall to-day, to request the women and girls to
leave the city. The road to Delft is still open; day after to-morrow
it may no longer be so, afterwards--who can predict what will happen
afterwards? If no relief comes and the provisions are consumed, we shall
be forced to open the gates to the enemy, and then, Maria, imagine what
will happen! The Rhine and the canals will grow crimson, for much blood
will flow into them and they will mirror an unequalled conflagration.
Woe betide the men, tenfold woe betide the women, against whom the
conqueror’s fury will then be directed. And you, you--the wife of the
man who has induced thousands to desert King Philip, the wife of the
exile, who directs the resistance within these walls.”

At the last words Maria had opened her large eyes wider and wider, and
now interrupted her husband with the question: “Do you wish to try how
high my courage will rise?”

“No, Maria. I know you will hold out loyally and would look death in the
face as fearlessly as your sister did in Haarlem; but I, I cannot endure
the thought of seeing you fall into the hands of our butchers. Fear for
you, terrible fear, will destroy my vigorous strength in the decisive
hours, so the words must be uttered--”

Maria had hitherto listened to her husband quietly; she knew what he
desired. Now she advanced nearer and interrupted him by exclaiming
firmly, nay imperiously:

“No more, no more, do you hear! I will not endure another word!”

“Maria!”

“Silence it is my turn now. To escape fear, you will thrust your wife
from the house; fear, you say, would undermine your strength. But will
longing strengthen it? If you love me, it will not fail to come--”

“If I love you, Maria!”

“Well, well! But you have forgotten to consider how I shall feel in
exile, if I also love you. I am your wife. We vowed at the altar, that
nothing save death should part us. Have you forgotten it? Have your
children become mine? Have I taught them, rejoiced to call myself their
mother? Yes, or no?”

“Yes, Maria, yes, yes, a hundred times yes!”

“And you have the heart to throw me into the arms of this wasting
longing! You wish to prevent me from keeping the most sacred of vows?
You can bring yourself to tear me from the children? You think me too
shallow and feeble, to endure suffering and death for the sacred cause,
which is mine as well as yours! You are fond of calling me your child,
but I can be strong, and whatever may come, will not weep. You are the
husband and have the right to command, I am only the wife and shall
obey. Shall I go? Shall I stay? I await your answer.”

She had uttered the last words in a trembling voice, but the burgomaster
exclaimed with deep emotion:

“Stay, stay, Maria! Come, come, and forgive me!” Peter seized her hand,
exclaiming again:

“Come, come!”

But the young wife released herself, retreated a step and said
beseechingly:

“Let me go, Peter, I cannot; I need time to overcome this.”

He let his arms fall and gazed mournfully into her face, but she turned
away and silently left the room. Peter Van der Werff did not follow her,
but went quietly into his study and strove to reflect upon many things,
that concerned his office, but his thoughts constantly reverted to
Maria. His love oppressed him as if it were a crime, and he seemed to
himself like a courier, who gathers flowers by the way-side and in this
idling squanders time and forgets the object of his mission. His heart
felt unspeakably heavy and sad, and it seemed almost like a deliverance
when, just before midnight, the bell in the Tower of Pancratius raised
its evilboding voice. In danger, he knew, he would feel and think of
nothing except what duty required of him, so with renewed strength he
took his hat from the hook and left the house with a steady step.

In the street he met Junker Van Duivenvoorde, who summoned him to the
Hohenort Gate, before which a body of Englishmen had again appeared; a
few brave soldiers who, in a fierce, bloody combat, had held Alfen and
the Gouda sluice against the Spaniards until their powder was exhausted
and necessity compelled them to yield or seek safety in flight. The
burgomaster followed the officer and ordered the gates to be opened
to the brave soldiers. They were twenty in number, among them the
Netherland Captain Van der Iaen, and a Young German officer. Peter
commanded, that they should have shelter for the night in the town-hall
and the guard-house at the gate. The next morning suitable quarters
would be found for them in the houses of the citizens. Janus Dousa
invited the captain to lodge with him, the German went to Aquanus’s
tavern. All were ordered to report to the burgomaster at noon the next
day, to be assigned to quarters and enrolled among the volunteer troops.

The ringing of the alarm-bell in the tower also disturbed the night’s
rest of the ladies in the Van der Werff household. Barbara sought Maria,
and neither returned to their rooms until they had learned the cause of
the ringing and soothed Henrica.

Maria could not sleep. Her husband’s purpose of separating from her
during the impending danger, had stirred her whole soul, wounded her
to the inmost depths of her heart. She felt humiliated, and, if not
misunderstood, at least unappreciated by the man for whose sake she
rejoiced, whenever she perceived a lofty aspiration or noble emotion in
her own soul. What avail is personal loveliness to the beautiful wife of
a blind man; of what avail to Maria was the rich treasure buried in her
bosom, if her husband would not see and bring it to the surface! “Show
him, tell him how lofty are your feelings,” urged love; but womanly
pride exclaimed: “Do not force upon him what he disdains to seek.”

So the hours passed, bringing her neither sleep, peace, nor the desire
to forget the humiliation inflicted upon her.

At last Peter entered the room, stepping lightly and cautiously, in
order not to wake her. She pretended to be asleep, but with half-closed
eyes could see him distinctly. The lamp-light fell upon his face, and
the lines she had formerly perceived looked like deep shadows between
his eyes and mouth. They impressed upon his features the stamp of heavy,
sorrowful anxiety, and reminded Maria of the “too hard” and “if I can
only bear it,” he had murmured in his sleep the night before. Then he
approached her bed and stood there a long time; she no longer saw him,
for she kept her eyes tightly closed, but the first loving glance, with
which he gazed down upon her, had not escaped her notice. It continued
to beam before her mental vision, and she thought she felt that he was
watching and praying for her as if she were a child.

Sleep had long since overpowered her husband, while Maria lay gazing at
the glimmering dawn, as wakeful as if it were broad day. For the sake
of his love she would forgive much, but she could not forget the
humiliation she had experienced. “A toy,” she said to herself, “a work
of art which we enjoy, is placed in security when danger threatens the
house; the axe and the bread, the sword and the talisman that protects
us, in short whatever we cannot dispense with while we live, we do
not release from our hands till death comes. She was not necessary,
indispensable to him. If she had obeyed his wish and left him,
then--yes, then--”

Here the current of her thoughts was checked, for the first time she
asked herself the question: “Would he have really missed your helping
hand, your cheering word?”

She turned restlessly, and her heart throbbed anxiously, as she told
herself that she had done little to smooth his rugged pathway. The vague
feeling, that he had not been entirely to blame, if she had not found
perfect happiness by his side, alarmed her. Did not her former conduct
justify him in expecting hindrance rather than support and help in
impending days of severest peril?

Filled with deep longing to obtain a clear view of her own heart, she
raised herself on her pillows and reviewed her whole former life.

Her mother had been a Catholic in her youth, and had often told her how
free and light-hearted she had felt, when she confided everything that
can trouble a woman’s heart to a silent third person, and received from
the lips of God’s servant the assurance that she might now begin a new
life, secure of forgiveness. “It is harder for us now,” her mother
said before her first communion, “for we of the Reformed religion are
referred to ourselves and our God, and must be wholly at peace with
ourselves before we approach the Lord’s table. True, that is enough, for
if we frankly and honestly confess to the judge within our own breasts
all that troubles our consciences, whether in thought or deed, and
sincerely repent, we shall be sure of forgiveness for the sake of the
Saviour’s wounds.”

Maria now prepared for this silent confession, and sternly and
pitilessly examined her conduct. Yes, she had fixed her gaze far too
steadily upon herself, asked much and given little. The fault was
recognized, and now the amendment should begin.

After this self-inspection, her heart grew lighter, and when she at last
turned away from the morning-light to seek sleep, she looked forward
with pleasure to the affectionate greeting she meant to offer Peter in
the morning; but she soon fell asleep and when she woke, her husband had
long since left the house.

As usual, she set Peter’s study in order before proceeding to any other
task, and while doing so, cast a friendly glance at the dead Eva’s
picture. On the writing-table lay the bible, the only book not connected
with his business affairs, that her husband ever read. Barbara sometimes
drew comfort and support from the volume, but also used it as an oracle,
for when undecided how to act she opened it and pointed with her finger
to a certain passage. This usually had a definite meaning and she
generally, though not always, acted as it directed. To-day she had been
disobedient, for in response to her question whether she might venture
to send a bag of all sorts of dainties to her son, a Beggar of the Sea,
in spite of the Spaniards encircling the city, she had received the
words of Jeremiah: “Their tents and their flocks shall they take away:
they shall take to themselves their curtains and all their vessels and
their camels,” and yet the bag had been entrusted early that morning
to a widow, who intended to make her escape to Delft with her young
daughter, according to the request of the magistrates. The gift might
perhaps reach Rotterdam; a mother always hopes for a miracle in behalf
of her child.

Before Maria restored the bible to its old place, she opened it at the
thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians,
which speaks of love, and was specially dear to her. There were the
words: “Charity suffereth long and is kind, charity is not easily
provoked;” and “Charity beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth
all things, endureth all things.”

To be kind and patient, to hope and endure all things, was the duty love
imposed upon her.

When she had closed the bible and was preparing to go to Henrica,
Barbara ushered Janus Dousa into the room. The young nobleman to-day
wore armor and gorget, and looked far more like a soldier than a
scientist or poet. He had sought Peter in vain at the town-hall, and
hoped to find him at home. One of the messengers sent to the Prince
had returned from Dortrecht with a letter, which conferred on Dousa the
office made vacant by Allertssohn’s death. He was to command not only
the city-guard, but all the armed force. He had accepted the appointment
with cheerful alacrity, and requested Maria to inform her husband.

“Accept my congratulations,” said the burgomaster’s wife. “But what will
now become of your motto: ‘Ante omnia Musae?’”

“I shall change the words a little and say: ‘Omnia ante Musas.”

“Do you understand that jargon, child?” asked Barbara.

“A passport will be given the Muses,” replied Maria gaily.

Janus was pleased with the ready repartee and exclaimed: “How bright and
happy you look! Faces free from care are rare birds in these days.”

Maria blushed, for she did not know how to interpret the words of
the nobleman, who understood how to reprove with subtle mockery,
and answered naively: “Don’t think me frivolous, Junker. I know the
seriousness of the times, but I have just finished a silent confession
and discovered many bad traits in my character, but also the desire to
replace them with more praiseworthy ones.”

“There, there,” replied Janus. “I knew long ago that you had formed a
friendship in the Delft school with my old sage. ‘Know thyself,’ was
the Greek’s principal lesson, and you wisely obey it. Every silent
confession, every desire for inward purification, must begin with
the purpose of knowing ourselves and, if in so doing we unexpectedly
encounter things which tend to make our beloved selves uncomely,
and have the courage to find them just as hideous in ourselves as in
others--”

“Abhorrence will come, and we shall have taken the first step towards
improvement.”

“No, dear lady, we shall then stand on one of the higher steps. After
hours of long, deep thought, Socrates perceived--do you know what?”

“That he knew nothing at all. I shall arrive at this perception more
speedily.”

“And the Christian learns it at school,” said Barbara, to join in the
conversation. “All knowledge is botchwork.”

“And we are all sinners,” added Janus. “That’s easily said, dear madam,
and easily understood, when others are concerned. ‘He is a sinner’
is quickly uttered, but ‘I am a sinner’ escapes the lips with more
difficulty, and whoever does exclaim it with sorrow, in the stillness of
his own quiet room, mingles the white feathers of angels’ wings with the
black pinions of the devil. Pardon me! In these times everything thought
and said is transformed into solemn earnest. Mars is here, and the
cheerful Muses are silent. Remember me to your husband, and tell him,
that Captain Allertssohn’s body has been brought in and to-morrow is
appointed for the funeral.”

The nobleman took his leave, and Maria, after visiting her patient and
finding her well and bright, sent Adrian and Bessie into the garden
outside the city-wall to gather flowers and foliage, which she intended
to help them weave into wreaths for the coffin of the brave soldier. She
herself went to the captain’s widow.



CHAPTER XXII.

The burgomaster’s wife returned home just before dinner, and found a
motley throng of bearded warriors assembled in front of the house, they
were trying to make themselves intelligible in the English language to
some of the constables, and when the latter respectfully saluted Maria,
raised their hands to their morions also.

She pleasantly returned the greeting and passed into the entry, where
the full light of noon streamed in through the open door.

Peter had assigned quarters to the English soldiers outside, and after
a consultation with the new commandant, Jan Van der Does, gave them
officers. They were probably waiting for their comrades, for when the
young wife had ascended the first steps of the staircase and looked
upward, she found the top of the narrow flight barred by the tall figure
of a soldier. The latter had his back towards her and was showing
Bessie his dark velvet cap, surrounded by rectangular teeth, above which
floated a beautiful light-blue ostrich-plume. The child seemed to have
formed a close friendship with the soldier, for, although the latter was
refusing her something, the little girl laughed gaily.

Maria paused irresolutely a moment; but when the child snatched the
gay cap and put it on her own curls, she thought she must check her and
exclaimed warningly: “Why, Bessie, that is no plaything for children.”

The soldier turned, stood still a moment in astonishment, raised his
hand to his forehead, and then, with a few hurried bounds, sprang down
the stairs and rushed up to the burgomaster’s wife. Maria had started
back in surprise; but he gave her no time to think, for stretching out
both hands he exclaimed in an eager, joyous tone, with sparkling eyes:
“Maria! Jungfrau Maria! You here! This is what I call a lucky day!” The
young wife had instantly recognized the soldier and willingly laid her
right hand in his, though not without a shade of embarrassment.

The officer’s clear, blue eyes sought hers, but she fixed her gaze on
the floor, saying: “I am no longer what I was, the young girl has become
a housewife.”

“A housewife!” he exclaimed. “How dignified that sounds! And yet! Yet!
You are still Jungfrau Maria! You haven’t changed a hair. That’s just
the way you bent your head at the wedding in Delft, the way you raised
your hands, lowered your eyes--you blushed too, just as prettily.”

There was a rare melody in the voice which uttered these words with
joyous, almost childlike freedom, which pleased Maria no less than the
officer’s familiar manner annoyed her. With a hasty movement she raised
her head, looked steadily into the young man’s handsome face and said
with dignity:

“You see only the exterior, Junker von Dornburg; three years have made
many changes within.”

“Junker von Dornburg,” he repeated, shaking his waving locks. “I was
Junker Georg in Delft. Very different things have happened to us, dear
lady, very different things. You see I have grown a tolerable, though
not huge moustache, am stouter, and the sun has bronzed my pink and
white boyish face--in short: my outer man has changed for the worse, but
within I am just the same as I was three years ago.”

Maria felt the blood again mounting into her cheeks, but she did not
wish to blush and answered hastily: “Standing still is retrograding, so
you have lost three beautiful years, Herr von Dornburg.”

The officer looked at Maria in perplexity, and then said more gravely
than before:

“Your jest is more opportune, than you probably suppose; I had hoped to
find you again in Delft, but powder was short in Alfen, so the Spaniard
will probably reach your native city sooner than we. Now a kind fate
brings me to you here; but let me be honest--What I hope and desire
stands clearly before my eyes, echoes in my soul, and when I thought of
our meeting, I dreamed you would lay both hands in mine and, instead of
greeting me with witty words, ask the old companion of happy hours, your
brother Leonhard’s best friend: ‘Do you still remember our dead?’ And
when I had told you: ‘Yes, yes, yes, I have never forgotten him,’ then I
thought the mild lustre of your eyes--Oh, oh, how I thank you! The dear
orbs are floating in a mist of tears. You are not so wholly changed as
you supposed, Frau Maria, and if I loyally remember the past, will you
blame me for it?”

“Certainly not,” she answered cordially. “And now that you speak to me
so, I will with pleasure again call you Junker Georg, and as Leonhard’s
friend and mine, invite you to our house.”

“That will be delightful,” he cried cordially. “I have so much to ask
you and, as for myself--alas, I wish I had less to tell.”

“Have you seen my husband?” asked Maria.

“I know nobody in Leyden,” he replied, “except my learned, hospitable
host, and the doge of this miniature Venice, so rich in water and
bridges.”

Georg pointed up the stair-case. Maria blushed again as she said:

“Burgomaster Van der Werff is my husband.”

The nobleman was silent for a short time, then he said quickly:

“He received me kindly. And the pretty elf up yonder?”

“His child by his first marriage, but now mine also. How do you happen
to call her the elf?”

“Because she looks as if she had been born among white flowers in the
moonlight, and because the afterglow of the sunrise, from which the
elves flee, crimsoned her cheeks when I caught her.”

“She has already received the name once,” said Maria. “May I take you to
my husband?”

“Not now, Frau Van der Werff, for I must attend to my men outside, but
to-morrow, if you will allow me.”

Maria found the dishes smoking on the dining-table. Her family had
waited for her, and, heated by the rapid walk at noon, excited by her
unexpected meeting with the young German, she opened the door of the
study and called to her husband:

“Excuse me! I was detained. It is very late.”

“We were very willing to wait,” he answered kindly, approaching her.
Then all she had resolved to do returned to her memory and, for the
first time since her marriage, she raised her husband’s hand to her
lips. He smilingly withdrew it, kissed her on the forehead, and said:

“It is delightful to have you here.”

“Isn’t it?” she asked, gently shaking her finger at him.

“But we are all here now, and dinner is waiting.”

“Come then,” she answered gaily. “Do you know whom I met on the stairs?”

“English soldiers.”

“Of course, but among them Junker von Dornburg.”

“He called on me. A handsome fellow, whose gayety is very attractive, a
German from the evangelical countries.”

“Leonhard’s best friend. Don’t you know? Surely I’ve told you about him.
Our guest at Jacoba’s wedding.”

“Oh! yes. Junker Georg. He tamed the chestnut horse for the Prince’s
equerry.”

“That was a daring act,” said Maria, drawing a long breath.

“The chestnut is still an excellent horse,” replied Peter. “Leonhard
thought the Junker, with his gifts and talents, would lift the world out
of its grooves; I remember it well, and now the poor fellow must remain
quietly here and be fed by us. How did he happen to join the Englishmen
and take part in the war?”

“I don’t know; he only told me that he had had many experiences.”

“I can easily believe it. He is living at the tavern; but perhaps we can
find a room for him in the side wing, looking out upon the court-yard.”

“No, Peter,” cried the young wife eagerly. “There is no room in order
there.”

“That can be arranged later. At any rate we’ll invite him to dinner
to-morrow, he may have something to tell us. There is good marrow in the
young man. He begged me not to let him remain idle, but make him of use
in the service. Jan Van der Does has already put him in the right place,
the new commandant looks into people’s hearts.”

Barbara mingled in the conversation, Peter, though it was a week-day,
ordered a jug of wine to be brought instead of the beer, and an event
that had not occurred for weeks happened: the master of the house sat at
least fifteen minutes with his family after the food had been removed,
and told them of the rapid advance of the Spaniards, the sad fate of the
fugitive Englishmen, who had been disarmed and led away in sections, the
brave defence the Britons, to whose corps Georg belonged, had made at
Alfen, and of another hot combat in which Don Gaytan, the right-hand and
best officer of Valdez, was said to have fallen. Messengers still went
and came on the roads leading to Delft, but to-morrow these also would
probably be blocked by the enemy.

He always addressed everything he said to Maria, unless Barbara
expressly questioned him, and when he at last rose from the table,
ordered a good roast to be prepared the next day for the guest he
intended to invite. Scarcely had the door of his room closed behind him,
when little Bessie ran up to Maria, threw her arms around her and asked:

“Mother, isn’t Junker Georg the tall captain with the blue feather, who
ran down-stairs so fast to meet you?”

“Yes, child.”

“And he’s coming to dinner to-morrow! He’s coming, Adrian.”

The child clapped her hands in delight and then ran to Barbara to
exclaim once more:

“Aunt Barbel, did you hear? He’s coming!”

“With the blue feather,” replied the widow.

“And he has curls, curls as long as Assendelft’s little Clara. May I go
with you to see Cousin Henrica?”

“Afterwards, perhaps,” replied Maria. “Go now, children, get the flowers
and separate them carefully from the leaves. Trautchen will bring some
hoops and strings, and then we’ll bind the wreaths.”

Junker Georg’s remark, that this was a lucky day, seemed to be verified;
for the young wife found Henrica bright and free from pain. With the
doctor’s permission, she had walked up and down her room several times,
sat a longer time at the open window, relished her chicken, and when
Maria entered, was seated in the softly-cushioned arm-chair, rejoicing
in the consciousness of increasing strength.

Maria was delighted at her improved appearance, and told her how well
she looked that day.

“I can return the compliment,” replied Henrica. “You look very happy.
What has happened to you?”

“To me? Oh! my husband was more cheerful than usual, and there was a
great deal to tell at dinner. I’ve only come to enquire for your health.
I will see you later. Now I must go with the children to a sorrowful
task.”

“With the children? What have the little elf and Signor Salvatore to do
with sorrow?”

“Captain Allertssohn will be buried to-morrow, and we are going to make
some wreaths for the coffin.”

“Make wreaths!” cried Henrica, “I can teach you that! There, Trautchen,
take the plate and call the little ones.”

The servant went away, but Maria said anxiously: “You will exert
yourself too much again, Henrica.”

“I? I shall be singing again to-morrow. My preserver’s potion does
wonders, I assure you. Have you flowers and oak-leaves enough?”

“I should think so.”

At the last words the door opened and Bessie cautiously entered the
room, walking on tiptoe as she had been told, went up to Henrica,
received a kiss from her, and then asked eagerly:

“Cousin Henrica, do you know? Junker Georg, with the blue feather, is
coming again to-morrow and will dine with us.”

“Junker Georg?” asked the young lady.

Maria interrupted the child’s reply, and answered in an embarrassed
tone:

“Herr von Domburg, an officer who came to the city with the Englishmen,
of whom I spoke to you--a German--an old acquaintance. Go and arrange
the flowers with Adrian, Bessie, then I’ll come and help you.”

“Here, with Cousin Henrica,” pleaded the child.

“Yes, little elf, here; and we’ll both make the loveliest wreath you
ever saw.”

The child ran out, and this time, in her delight, forgot to shut the
door gently.

The young wife gazed out of the window. Henrica watched her silently for
a time and then exclaimed:

“One word, Frau Maria. What is going on in the court-yard? Nothing?
And what has become of the happy light in your eyes? Your house isn’t
swarming with guests; why did you wait for Bessie to tell me about
Junker Georg, the German, the old acquaintance?”

“Let that subject drop, Henrica.”

“No, no! Do you know what I think? The storm of war has blown to your
house the young madcap, with whom you spent such happy hours at your
sister’s wedding. Am I right or wrong? You needn’t blush so deeply.”

“It is he,” replied Maria gravely. “But if you love me, forget what I
told you about him, or deny yourself the idle amusement of alluding to
it, for if you should still do so, it would offend me.”

“Why should I! You are the wife of another.”

“Of another whom I honor and love, who trusts me and himself invited the
Junker to his house. I have liked the young man, admired his talents,
been anxious when he trifled with his life as if it were a paltry leaf,
which is flung into the river.”

“And now that you have seen him again, Maria?”

“Now I know, what my duty is. Do you see, that my peace here is not
disturbed by idle gossip.”

“Certainly not, Maria; yet I am still curious about this Chevalier Georg
and his singing. Unfortunately we shan’t be long together. I want to go
home.”

“The doctor will not allow you to travel yet.”

“No matter. I shall go as soon as I feel well enough. My father is
refused admittance, but your husband can do much, and I must speak with
him.”

“Will you receive him to-morrow?”

“The sooner the better, for he is your husband and, I repeat, the ground
is burning under my feet.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Maria.

“That sounds very sad,” cried Henrica. “Do you want to hear, that I
shall find it hard to leave you? I shouldn’t go yet; but my sister
Anna, she is now a widow--Thank God, I should like to say, but she is
suffering want and utterly deserted. I must speak to my father about
her, and go forth from the quiet haven into the storm once more.”

“My husband will come to you,” said Maria.

“That’s right, that’s right! Come in, children! Put the flowers on the
table yonder. You, little elf, sit down on the stool and you, Salvatore,
shall give me the flowers. What does this mean? I really believe the
scamp has been putting perfumed oil on his curly head. In honor of me,
Salvatore? Thank you!--We shall need the hoops later. First we’ll make
bouquets, and then bind them with the leaves to the wood. Sing me a song
while we are working, Maria. The first one! I can bear it to-day.”



CHAPTER XXIII.

Half Leyden had followed the brave captain’s coffin, and among the other
soldiers, who rendered the last honors to the departed, was Georg von
Dornburg. After the funeral, the musician Wilhelm led the son of the
kind comrade, whom so many mourned, to his house. Van der Werff found
many things to be done after the burial, but reserved the noon hour; for
he expected the German to dine.

The burgomaster, as usual, sat at the head of the table; the Junker
had taken his place between him and Maria, opposite to Barbara and the
children.

The widow never wearied of gazing at the young man’s fresh, bright face,
for although her son could not compare with him in beauty, there was
an honest expression in the Junker’s eyes, which reminded her of her
Wilhelm.

Many a question and answer had already been exchanged between those
assembled round the board, many a pleasant memory recalled, when Peter,
after the dishes had been removed and a new jug with better wine placed
on the table, filled the young nobleman’s glass again, and raised his
own.

“Let us drink this bumper,” he cried, gazing at Georg with sincere
pleasure in his eyes, “let us drink to the victory of the good cause,
for which you too voluntarily draw your sword. Thanks for the vigorous
pledge. Drinking is also an art, and the Germans are masters of it.”

“We learn it in various places, and not worst at the University of
Jena.”

“All honor to the doctors and professors, who bring their pupils up to
the standard of my dead brother-in-law, and judging from this sample
drink, you also.”

“Leonhard was my teacher in the ‘ars bibendi.’ How long ago it is!”

“Youth is not usually content,” replied Peter, “but when the point
in question concerns years, readily calls ‘much,’ what seems to older
people ‘little.’ True, many experiences may have been crowded into the
last few years of your life. I can still spare an hour, and as we are
all sitting so cosily together here, you can tell us, unless you wish to
keep silence on the subject, how you chanced to leave your distant home
for Holland, and your German and Latin books to enlist under the English
standard.”

“Yes,” added Maria, without any trace of embarrassment. “You still owe
me the story. Give thanks, children, and then go.”

Adrian gazed beseechingly first at his mother and then at his father,
and as neither forbade him to stay, moved his chair close to his sister,
and both leaned their heads together and listened with wide open eyes,
while the Junker first quietly, then with increasing vivacity, related
the following story:

“You know that I am a native of Thuringia, a mountainous country in the
heart of Germany. Our castle is situated in a pleasant valley, through
which a clear river flows in countless windings. Wooded mountains, not
so high as the giants in Switzerland, yet by no means contemptible,
border the narrow boundaries of the valley. At their feet the fields
and meadows, at a greater height rise pine forests, which, like the
huntsman, wear green robes at all seasons of the year. In winter, it
is true, the snow cover them with a glimmering white sheet. When spring
comes, the pines put forth new shoots, as fresh and full of sap as the
budding foliage of your oaks and beeches, and in the meadows by the
river it begins to snow in the warm breezes, for then one fruit-tree
blooms beside another, and when the wind rises, the delicate white
petals flutter through the air and fall among the bright blossoms in the
grass, and on the clear surface of the river. There are also numerous
barren cliffs on the higher portions of the mountains, and where they
towered in the most rugged, inaccessible ridges, our ancestors built
their fastnesses, to secure themselves from the attacks of their
enemies. Our castle stands on a mountain-ridge in the midst of the
valley of the Saale. There I was born, there I sported through the years
of my boyhood, learned to read and guide the pen. There was plenty of
hunting in the forests, we had spirited horses in the stable, and, wild
lad that I was, I rarely went voluntarily into the school-room, the
grey-haired teacher, Lorenz, had to catch me, if he wanted to get
possession of me. My sisters and Hans, our youngest child, the boy was
only three years younger than I, kept quiet--I had an older brother too,
yet did not have him. When his beard was first beginning to grow, he was
given by our gracious Duke to Chevalier von Brand as his esquire, and
sent to Spain, to buy Andalusian horses. John Frederick’s father had
learned their value in Madrid after the battle of Muhlburg. Louis was
a merry fellow when he went away, and knew how to tame the wildest
stallion. It was hard for our parents to believe him dead, but years
elapsed, and as neither he nor Chevalier von Brand appeared, we were
obliged to give him up for lost. My mother alone could not do this, and
constantly expected his return. My father called me the future heir
and lord of the castle. When I had passed beyond boyhood and understood
Cicero tolerably well, I was sent to the University of Jena to study
law, as my uncle, the chancellor, wished me to become a counsellor of
state.

“Oh Jena, beloved Jena! There are blissful days in May and June, when
only light clouds float in the sky, and all the leaves and flowers
are so fresh and green, that one would think--they probably think so
themselves--that they could never fade and wither; such days in human
existence are the period of joyous German student life. You can believe
it. Leonhard has told you enough of Jena. He understood how to unite
work and pleasure; I, on the contrary, learned little on the wooden
benches, for I rarely occupied them, and the dust of books certainly
didn’t spoil my lungs. But I read Ariosto again and again, devoted
myself to singing, and when a storm of feeling seethed within my breast,
composed many songs for my own pleasure. We learned to wield the sword
too in Jena, and I would gladly have crossed blades with the sturdy
fencing-master Allertssohn, of whom you have just told me. Leonhard was
older than I, and when he graduated with honor, I was still very weak
in the pandects. But we were always one in heart and soul, so I went
to Holland with him to attend his wedding. Ah, those were days! The
theologians in Jena have actively disputed about the part of the earth,
in which the little garden of Paradise should be sought. I considered
them all fools, and thought: ‘There is only one Eden, and that lies in
Holland, and the fairest roses the dew waked on the first sunny morning,
bloom in Delft!’”

At these words Georg shook back his waving locks and hesitated in great
embarrassment, but as no one interrupted him and he saw Barbara’s eager
face and the children’s glowing cheeks, quietly continued:

“So I came home, and was to learn for the first time, that in life also
beautiful sunny days often end with storms. I found my father ill, and
a few days after my return he closed his eyes in death. I had never seen
any human being die, and the first, the very first, was he, my father.”

Georg paused, and deeply moved, passed his hand over his eyes.

“Your father!” cried Barbara, in a tone of cordial sympathy, breaking
the silence. “If we can judge the tree by the apple, he was surely a
splendid man.”

The Junker again raised his head, exclaiming with sparkling eyes:

“Unite every good and noble quality, and embody them in the form of a
tall, handsome man, then you will have the image of my father;--and I
might tell you of my mother--”

“Is she still alive?” asked Peter.

“God grant it!” exclaimed the young man. “I have heard nothing from my
family for two months. That is hard. Pleasures smile along every path,
and I like my profession of soldier, but it often grieves me sorely to
hear so little from home. Oh! if one were only a bird, a sunbeam, or a
shooting-star, one might, if only for the twinkling of an eye, learn
how matters go at home and fill the soul with fresh gratitude, or, if it
must be--but I will not think of that. In the valley of the Saale, the
trees are blossoming and a thousand flowers deck all the meadows, just
as they do here, and did there two years ago, when I left home for the
second time.

“After my father’s death I was the heir, but neither hunting nor riding
to court, neither singing nor the clinking of beakers could please me.
I went about like a sleep-walker, and it seemed as if I had no right to
live without my father. Then--it is now just two years ago--a messenger
brought from Weimar a letter which had come from Italy with several
others, addressed to our most gracious sovereign; it contained the news
that our lost brother was still alive, lying sick and wretched in the
hospital at Bergamo. A kind nun had written for him, and we now learned
that on the journey from Valencia to Livorno Louis had been captured by
corsairs and dragged to Tunis. How much suffering he endured there, with
what danger he at last succeeded in obtaining his liberty, you shall
learn later. He escaped to Italy on a Genoese galley. His feet carried
him as far as Bergamo, but he could go no farther, and now lay ill,
perhaps dying, among sympathizing strangers. I set out at once and did
not spare horseflesh on the way to Bergamo, but though there were many
strange and beautiful things to be seen on my way, they afforded me
little pleasure, the thought of Louis, so dangerously ill, saddened my
joyous spirits. Every running brook urged me to hasten, and the lofty
mountains seemed like jealous barriers. When once beyond St. Gotthard
I felt less anxious, and as I rode down from Bellinzona to Lake Lugano,
and the sparkling surface of the water beyond the city smiled at me like
a blue eye, forgot my grief for a time, waved my hat, and sung a song.
In Bergamo I found my brother, alive, but enfeebled in mind and body,
weak, and without any desire to take up the burden of life again. He
had been in good hands, and after a few weeks we were able to travel
homeward--this time I went through beautiful Tyrol. Louis’s strength
daily increased, but the wings of his soul had been paralyzed by
suffering. Alas, for long years he had dug and carried heavy loads, with
chains on his feet, beneath a broiling sun. Chevalier von Brand could
not long endure this hard fate, but Louis, while in Tunis, forgot both
how to laugh and weep, and which of the two can be most easily spared?

“Even when he saw my mother again, he could not shed a tear, yet his
whole body--and surely his heart also--trembled with emotion. Now he
lives quietly at the castle. In the prime of manhood he is an old man,
but he is beginning to accommodate himself to life, only he can’t bear
the sight of a strange face. I had a hard battle with him, for as the
eldest son, the castle and estate, according to the law, belong to him,
but he wanted to resign his rights and put me in his place. Even when
he had brought my mother over to his side, and my uncle and brothers and
sisters tried to persuade me to yield to his wish, I remained resolute.
I would not touch what did not belong to me, and our youngest boy,
Wolfgang, has grown up, and can fill my place wherever it is necessary.
When the entreaties and persuasions became too strong for me, I saddled
my horse and went away again. It was hard for my mother to let me go,
but I had tasted the delight of travelling, and rode off as if to a
wedding. If I must be perfectly frank, I’ll confess that I resigned
castle and estates like a troublesome restraint. Free as the wind and
clouds, I followed the same road over which I had ridden with Leonhard,
for in your country a war after my own heart was going on, and my future
fortune was to be based upon my sword. In Cologne I enlisted under the
banner of Louis of Nassau, and fought with him at Mook Heath till every
one retreated. My horse had fallen, my doublet was torn, there was
little left save good spirits and the hope of better days. These were
soon found, for Captain Gensfort asked me to join the English troops. I
became his ensign, and at Alfen held out beside him till the last grain
of powder was exhausted. What happened there, you know.”

“And Captain Van der Laen told us,” said Peter, “that he owes his life
to you. You fought like a lion.”

“It was wild work enough at the fortifications, yet neither I nor my
horse had a hair ruffled, and this time I even saved my knapsack and
a full purse. Fate, like mothers, loves troublesome children best, and
therefore led me to you and your family, Herr Burgomaster.”

“And I beg you to consider yourself one of them,” replied Peter. “We
have two pleasant rooms looking out upon the court-yard; they shall be
put in order for you, if you would like to occupy them.”

“With pleasure,” replied the Junker, and Peter, offering him his hand,
said:

“The duties of my office call me away, but you can tell the ladies what
you need, and when you mean to move in. The sooner, the better we shall
be pleased. Shall we not, Maria?”

“You will be welcome, Junker Georg. Now I must look after the invalid we
are nursing here. Barbara will ascertain your wishes.”

The young wife took her husband’s hand and left the room with him.

The widow was left alone with the young nobleman and tried to learn
everything he desired. Then she followed her sister-in-law, and finding
her in Henrica’s room, clapped her hands, exclaiming:

“That is a man! Fraulein, I assure you that, though I’m an old woman, I
never met so fine a young fellow in all my life. So much heart, and so
handsome too! ‘To whom fortune gives once, it gives by bushels, and unto
him that hath, shall be given!’ Those are precious words!”



CHAPTER XXIV.

Peter had promised Henrica, to request the council to give her
permission to leave the city.

It was hard for her to part from the burgomaster’s household. Maria’s
frank nature exerted a beneficial influence; it seemed as if her respect
for her own sex increased in her society. The day before she had heard
her sing. The young wife’s voice was like her character. Every note
flawless and clear as a bell, and Henrica grieved that she should be
forbidden to mingle her own voice with her hostess’s. She was very sorry
to leave the children too. Yet she was obliged to go, on Anna’s account,
for her father could not be persuaded by letters to do anything. Had
she appealed to him in writing to forgive his rejected child, he would
hardly have read the epistle to the end. Something might more easily be
won from him through words, by taking advantage of a favorable moment.
She must have speech with him, yet she dreaded the life in his castle,
especially as she was forced to acknowledge, that she too was by no
means necessary to her father. To secure the inheritance, he had sent
her to a terrible existence with her aunt; while she lay dangerously
ill, he had gone to a tournament, and the letter received from him the
day before, contained nothing but the information that he was refused
admittance to the city, and a summons for her to go to Junker de
Heuter’s house at the Hague. Enclosed was a pass from Valdez, enjoining
all King Philip’s soldiers to provide for her safety.

The burgomaster had intended to have her conveyed in a litter,
accompanied by a flag of truce, as far as the Spanish lines, and the
doctor no longer opposed her wish to travel. She hoped to leave that
day.

Lost in thought, she stationed herself in the baywindow and gazed out
into the court-yard. Several windows in the building on the eastern side
stood open. Trautchen must have risen early, for she came out of the
rooms arranged for Georg’s occupation, followed by a young assistant
carrying various scrubbing utensils. Next Jan appeared with a large
arm-chair on his head. Bessie ran after the Frieselander, calling:

“Aunt Barbel’s grandfather’s chair; where will she take her afternoon
nap?”

Henrica had heard the words, and thought first of good old “Babetta,”
 who could also feel tenderly, then of Maria and the man who was to lodge
in the rooms opposite. Were there not some loose threads still remaining
of the old tie, that had united the burgomaster’s wife to the handsome
nobleman? A feeling of dread overpowered her. Poor Meister Peter, poor
Maria!

Was it right to abandon the young wife, who had held out a saving
hand in her distress? Yet how much nearer was her own sister than this
stranger! Each day that she allowed herself to linger in this peaceful
asylum, seemed like a theft from Anna--since she had read in a letter
from her to her husband, the only one the dead man’s pouch contained,
that she was ill and sunk in poverty with her child.

Help was needed here, and no one save herself could offer it.

With aid from Barbara and Maria, she packed her clothes. At noon
everything was ready for her departure, and she would not be withheld
from eating in the dining-room with the family. Peter was prevented from
coming to dinner, Henrica took his seat and, under the mask of loud,
forced mirth, concealed the grief and anxieties that filled her heart.
At twilight Maria and the children followed her into her room, and she
now had the harp brought and sang. At first her voice failed to reach
many a note, but as the snow falling from the mountain peaks to the
plains at first slides slowly, then rapidly increases in bulk and power,
her tones gradually gained fulness and irresistible might and, when
at last she rested the harp against the wall and walked to the chair
exhausted, Maria clasped her hand and said with deep emotion:

“Stay with us, Henrica.”

“I ought not,” replied the girl.

“You are enough for each other. Shall I take you with me, children?”
 Adrian lowered his eyes in embarrassment, but Bessie jumped into her
lap, exclaiming.

“Where are you going? Stay with us.”

Just at that moment some one knocked at the door, and Peter entered.
It was evident that he brought no good tidings. His request had been
refused. The council had almost unanimously voted an assent to Van
Bronkhorst’s proposition, that the young lady, as a relation of
prominent friends of Spain among the Netherland nobility, should be kept
in the city. Peter’s representations were unheeded; he now frankly told
Henrica what a conflict he had had, and entreated her to have patience
and be content to remain in his house as a welcome guest.

The young girl interrupted him with many a passionate exclamation of
indignation, and when she grew calmer, cried:

“Oh, you men, you men! I would gladly stay with you, but you know from
what this base deed of violence detains me. And then: to be a prisoner,
to live weeks, months, without mass and without confession. Yet first
and last-merciful Heavens, what will become of my unfortunate sister?”

Maria gazed beseechingly at Peter, and the latter said:

“If you desire the consolations of your religion, I will send Father
Damianus to you, and you can hear mass with the Grey Sisters, who live
beside us, as often as you desire. We are not fighting against your
religion, but for the free exercise of every faith, and the whole city
stands open to you. My wife will help you bear your anxiety about your
sister far better than I could do, but let me say this: wherever and
however I can help you, it shall be done, and not merely in words.”

So saying, he held out his hand to Henrica. She gave him hers,
exclaiming:

“I have cause to thank you, I know, but please leave me now and give me
time to think until tomorrow.”

“Is there no way of changing the decision of the council?” Maria asked
her husband.

“No, certainly not.”

“Well, then,” said the young wife earnestly, “you must remain our guest.
Anxiety for your sister does not cloud your pleasure alone, but saddens
me too. Let us first of all provide for her. How are the roads to
Delft?”

“They are cut, and no one will be able to pass after to-morrow or the
day after.”

“Then calm yourself, Henrica, and let us consider what is to be done.”

The questions and counter-questions began, and Henrica gazed in
astonishment at the delicate young wife, for with unerring resolution
and keenness, she held the first voice in the consultation. The surest
means of gaining information was to seek that very day a reliable
messenger, by whom to send Anna d’Avila money, and if possible bring her
to Holland. The burgomaster declared himself ready to advance from his
own property, a portion of the legacy bequeathed Henrica’s sister
by Fraulein Van Hoogstraten, and accepted his guest’s thanks without
constraint.

“But whom could they send?”

Henrica thought of Wilhelm; he was her sister’s friend.

“But he is in the military service,” replied the burgomaster. “I know
him. He will not desert the city in these times of trouble, not even for
his mother.”

“But I know the right messenger,” said Maria. “We’ll send Junker Georg.”

“That’s a good suggestion,” said Peter. “We shall find him in his
lodgings. I must go to Van Hout, who lives close by, and will send the
German to you. But my time is limited, and with such gentlemen, fair
women can accomplish more than bearded men. Farewell, dear Fraulein,
once more--we rejoice to have you for our guest.”

When the burgomaster had left the room, Henrica said:

“How quickly, and how differently from what I expected, all this
has happened. I love you. I am under obligations to you, but to be
imprisoned, imprisoned. The walls will press upon me, the ceiling will
seem like a weight. I don’t know whether I ought to rejoice or despair.
You have great influence with the Junker. Tell him about Anna, touch his
heart, and if he would go, it would really be best for us both.”

“You mean for you and your sister,” replied Maria with a repellent
gesture of the hand. “There is the lamp. When the Junker comes, we shall
see each other again.”

Maria went to her room and threw herself on the couch, but soon rose and
paced restlessly to and fro. Then stretching out her clasped hands, she
exclaimed:

“Oh, if he would only go, if he would only go! Merciful God! Kind,
gracious Father in Heaven, grant him every happiness, every blessing,
but save my peace of mind; let him go, and lead him far, far away from
here.”



CHAPTER XXV.

The tavern where Georg von Dornburg lodged stood on the “broad street,”
 and was a fine building with a large court-yard, in which were numerous
vehicles. On the left of the entrance was a large open room entered
through a lofty archway. Here the drivers and other folk sat over their
beer and wine, suffering the innkeeper’s hens to fly on the benches and
even sometimes on the table, here vegetables were cleaned, boiled and
fried, here the stout landlady was frequently obliged to call her
sturdy maid and men servants to her aid, when her guests came to actual
fighting, or some one drank more than was good for him. Here the new
custom of tobacco-smoking was practised, though only by a few sailors
who had served on Spanish ships--but Frau Van Aken could not endure
the acrid smoke and opened the windows, which were filled with blooming
pinks, slender stalks of balsam, and cages containing bright-plumaged
goldfinches. On the side opposite to the entrance were two closed
rooms. Above the door of one, neatly carved in wood, were the lines from
Horace:

       “Ille terrarum mihi praeter omnes.
        Angulus ridet.”

        [Of all the corners of the world,
        There is none that so charms me.]

Only a few chosen guests found admittance into this long, narrow
apartment. It was completely wainscoted with wood, and from the centre
of the richly-carved ceiling a strange picture gleamed in brilliant
hues. This represented the landlord. The worthy man with the smooth
face, firmly-closed lips, and long nose, which offered an excellent
straight line to its owner’s burin, sat on a throne in the costume of
a Roman general, while Vulcan and Bacchus, Minerva and Poinona, offered
him gifts. Klaus Van Aken, or as he preferred to be called, Nicolaus
Aquanus, was a singular man, who had received good gifts from more than
one of the Olympians; for besides his business he zealously devoted
himself to science and several of the arts. He was an excellent
silver-smith, a die-cutter and engraver of great skill, had a remarkable
knowledge of coins, was an industrious student and collector of
antiquities. His little tap-room was also a museum; for on the shelves,
that surrounded it, stood rare objects of every description, in rich
abundance and regular order; old jugs and tankards, large and small
coins, gems in carefully-sealed glass-cases, antique lamps of clay
and bronze, stones with ancient Roman inscriptions, Roman and Greek
terra-cotta, polished fragments of marble which he had found in Italy
among the ruins, the head of a faun, an arm, a foot and other bits of
Pagan works of art, a beautifully-enamelled casket of Byzantine work,
and another with enamelled ornamentation from Limoges. Even half a Roman
coat of mail and a bit of mosaic from a Roman bath were to be seen here.
Amid these antiquities, stood beautiful Venetian glasses, pine-cones and
ostrich-eggs. Such another tap-room could scarcely be found in Holland,
and even the liquor, which a neatly-dressed maid poured for the guests
from oddly-shaped tankards into exquisitely-wrought goblets, was
exceptionally fine. In this room Herr Aquanus himself was in the habit
of appearing among his guests; in the other, opposite to the entrance,
his wife held sway.

On this day, the “Angulus,” as the beautiful taproom was called, was but
thinly occupied, for the sun had just set, though the lamps were already
lighted. These rested in three-branched iron chandeliers, every portion
of which, from the slender central shaft to the intricately-carved and
twisted ornaments, had been carefully wrought by Aquanus with his own
hand.

Several elderly gentlemen were at one table enjoying their wine,
while at another were Captain Van der Laen, a brave Hollander, who was
receiving English pay and had come to the city with the other defenders
of Alfen, the Musician Wilhelm, Junker Georg, and the landlord.

“It’s a pleasure to meet people like you, Junker,” said Aquanus. “You’ve
travelled with your eyes open, and what you tell me about Brescia
excites my curiosity. I Should have liked to see the inscription.”

“I’ll get it for you,” replied the young man; “for if the Spaniards
don’t send me into another world, I shall certainly cross the Alps
again. Did you find any of these Roman antiquities in your own country?”

“Yes. At the Roomburg Canal, perhaps the site of the old Praetorium, and
at Katwyk. The forum Hadriani was probably located near Voorburg. The
coat of mail, I showed you, came from there.”

“An old, green, half-corroded thing,” cried Georg. “And yet! What
memories the sight of it awakens! Did not some Roman armorer forge it
for the wandering emperor? When I look at this coat of mail, Rome
and her legions appear before my eyes. Who would not, like you, Herr
Wilhelna, go to the Tiber to increase the short span of the present by
the long centuries of the past!”

“I should be glad to go to Italy once more with you,” replied Wilhelm.

“And I with you.”

“Let us first secure our liberty,” said the musician. “When that is
accomplished, each individual will belong to himself, and then: why
should I conceal it, nothing will keep me in Leyden.”

“And the organ? Your father?” asked Aquanus.

“My brothers will remain here, snug in their own nest,” answered
Wilhelm. “But something urges, impels me--”

“There are still waters and rivers on earth,” interrupted Georg, “and in
the sky the fixed stars remain quiet and the planets cannot cease from
wandering. So among human beings, there are contented persons, who like
their own places, and birds of passage like us. To be sure, you needn’t
go to Italy to hear fine singing. I just heard a voice, a voice--”

“Where? You make me eager.”

“In the court-yard of Herr Van der Werff’s house.”

“That was his wife.”

“Oh, no! Her voice sounds differently.”

During this conversation, Captain Van der Laen had risen and examined
the landlord’s singular treasures. He was now standing before a board,
on which the head of an ox was sketched in charcoal, freely, boldly and
with perfect fidelity to nature.

“What magnificent piece of beef is this?” he asked the landlord.

“No less a personage than Frank Floris sketched it,” replied Aquanus.
“He once came here from Brussels and called on Meister Artjen. The old
man had gone out, so Floris took a bit of charcoal and drew these lines
with it. When Artjen came home and found the ox’s head, he stood before
it a long time and finally exclaimed: ‘Frank Floris, or the devil!’ This
story--But there comes the burgomaster. Welcome, Meister Peter. A rare
honor.”

All the guests rose and respectfully greated Van der Werff; Georg
started up to offer him his chair. Peter sat down for a short time and
drank a glass of wine, but soon beckoned to the Junker and went out with
him into the street.

There he briefly requested him to go to his house, for they had an
important communication to make, and then went to Van Hout’s residence,
which was close beside the inn.

Georg walked thoughtfully towards the burgomaster’s.

The “they” could scarcely have referred to any one except Maria. What
could she want of him at so late an hour? Had his friend regretted
having offered him lodgings in her own house? He was to move into his
new quarters early next morning; perhaps she wished to inform him
of this change of mind, before it was too late. Maria treated him
differently from before, there was no doubt of that, but surely this was
natural! He had dreamed of a different, far different meeting! He
had come to Holland to support the good cause of Orange, yet he would
certainly have turned his steed towards his beloved Italy, where a good
sword was always in demand, instead of to the north, had he not hoped to
find in Holland her, whom he had never forgotten, for whom he had never
ceased to long--Now she was the wife of another, a man who had shown him
kindness, given him his confidence. To tear his love from his heart
was impossible; but he owed it to her husband and his own honor to be
strong, to resolutely repress every thought of possessing her, and only
rejoice in seeing her; and this he must try to accomplish.

He had told himself all these things more than once, but realized that
he was walking with unsteady steps, upon a narrow pathway, when she met
him outside the dining-room and he felt how cold and tremulous was the
hand she laid in his.

Maria led the way, and he silently followed her into Henrica’s room. The
latter greeted him with a friendly gesture, but both ladies hesitated to
utter the first word. The young man turned hastily, noticed that he was
in the room overlooking the court-yard, and said, eagerly: “I was
down below just before twilight, to look at my new quarters, and heard
singing from this room, and such singing! At first I didn’t know
what was coming, for the tones were husky, weak, and broken, but
afterwards--afterwards the melody burst forth like a stream of lava
through the ashes. We ought to wish many sorrows to one, who can lament
thus.”

“You shall make the singer’s acquaintance,” said Maria, motioning
towards the young girl. “Fraulein Henrica Van Hoogstraten, a beloved
guest in our house.”

“Were you the songstress?” asked Georg.

“Does that surprise you?” replied Henrica. “My voice has certainly
retained its strength better than my body, wasted by long continued
suffering. I feel how deeply my eyes are sunken and how pale I must
be. Singing certainly lightens pain, and I have been deprived of the
comforter long enough. Not a note has passed my lips for weeks, and
now my heart aches so, that I would far rather weep than sing. ‘What
troubles me?’ you will ask, and yet Maria gives me courage to request a
chivalrous service, almost without parallel, at your hands.”

“Speak, speak,” Georg eagerly exclaimed. “If Frau Maria summons me and I
can serve you, dear lady: here I am, dispose of me.”

Henrica did not avoid his frank glance, as she replied:

“First hear what a great service we ask of you. You must prepare
yourself to hear a short story. I am still weak and have put my strength
to a severe test to-day, Maria must speak for me.”

The young wife fulfilled this task quietly and clearly, closing with the
words:

“The messenger we need, I have found myself. You must be he, Junker
Georg.”

Henrica had not interrupted the burgomaster’s wife; but now said warmly

“I have only made your acquaintance to-day, but I trust you entirely.
A few hours ago, black would have been my color, but if you will be my
knight, I’ll choose cheerful green, for I now begin to hope again. Will
you venture to take the ride for me?”

Hitherto Georg had gazed silently at the floor. Now he raised his head,
saying:

“If I can obtain leave of absence, I will place myself at your
disposal;--but my lady’s color is blue, and I am permitted to wear no
other.”

Henrica’s lips quivered slightly, but the young nobleman continued:

“Captain Van der Laen is my superior officer. I’ll speak to him at
once.”

“And if he says no?” asked Maria.

Henrica interrupted her and answered haughtily: “Then I beg you to send
me Herr Wilhelm, the musician.”

Georg bowed and went to the tavern.

As soon as the ladies were alone, the young girl asked:

“Do you know Herr von Dornburg’s lady?”

“How should I?” replied Maria. “Give yourself a little rest, Fraulein.
As soon as the Junker comes back, I’ll bring him to you.”

The young wife left the room and seated herself at the spinning-wheel
with Barbara. Georg kept them waiting a long time, but at midnight again
appeared, accompanied by two companions. It was not within the limits
of the captain’s authority to grant him a leave of absence for several
weeks--the journey to Italy would have required that length of time--but
the Junker had consulted the musician, and the latter had found the
right man, with whom Wilhelm speedily made the necessary arrangements,
and brought him without delay: it was the old steward, Belotti.



CHAPTER XXVI.

On the morning of the following day the spacious shooting-grounds,
situated not far from the White Gate, between the Rapenburg and the
city-wall, presented a busy scene, for by a decree of the council the
citizens and inhabitants, without exception, no matter whether they were
poor or rich, of noble or plebeian birth, were to take a solemn oath to
be loyal to the Prince and the good cause.

Commissioner Van Bronkhorst, Burgomaster Van der Werff, and two other
magistrates, clad in festal attire, stood under a group of beautiful
linden-trees to receive the oaths of the men and youths, who flocked to
the spot. The solemn ceremonial had not yet commenced. Janus Dousa, in
full uniform, a coat of mail over his doublet and a helmet on his head,
arm-in-arm with Van Hout, approached Meister Peter and the commissioner,
saying: “Here it is again! Not one of the humbler citizens and
workmen is absent, but the gentlemen in velvet and fur are but thinly
represented.”

“They shall come yet!” cried the city clerk menacingly.

“What will formal vows avail?” replied the burgomaster. “Whoever desires
liberty, must grant it. Besides, this hour will teach us on whom we can
depend.”

“Not a single man of the militia is absent,” said the commissioner.

“There is comfort in that. What is stirring yonder in the linden?”

The men looked up and perceived Adrian, who was swaying in the top
of the tree, as a concealed listener. “The boy must be everywhere,”
 exclaimed Peter. “Come down, saucy lad. You appear at a convenient
time.”

The boy clung to a limb with his hands, let himself drop to the ground
and stood before his father with a penitent face, which he knew how to
assume when occasion required. The burgomaster uttered no further words
of reproof, but bade him go home and tell his mother, that he saw no
possibility of getting Belotti through the Spanish lines in safety, and
also that Father Damianus had promised to call on the young lady in the
course of the day.

“Hurry, Adrian, and you, constables, keep all unbidden persons away
from these trees, for any place where an oath is taken becomes sacred
ground--The clergymen have seated themselves yonder near the target.
They have the precedence. Have the kindness to summon them, Herr Van
Hout. Dominie Verstroot wishes to make an address, and then I would like
to utter a few words of admonition to the citizens myself.”

Van Hout withdrew, but before he had reached the preachers Junker von
Warmond appeared, and reported that a messenger, a handsome young lad,
had come as an envoy. He was standing before the White Gate and had a
letter.

“From Valdez?”

“I don’t know; but the young fellow is a Hollander and his face is
familiar to me.”

“Conduct him here; but don’t interrupt us until the ceremony of taking
the oath is over. The messenger can tell Valdez what he has seen and
heard here. It will do the Castilian good, to know in advance what we
intend.”

The Junker withdrew, and when he returned with Nicolas Van Wibisma, who
was the messenger, Dominie Verstroot had finished his stirring speech.
Van der Werff was still speaking. The sacred fire of enthusiasm
sparkled in his eyes, and though the few words he addressed to his
fellow-combatants in the deepest chest tones of his powerful voice were
plain and unadorned, they found their way to the souls of his auditors.

Nicolas also followed the speech with a throbbing heart; it seemed as if
the tall, earnest man under the linden were speaking directly to him
and to him alone, when at the close he raised his voice once more and
exclaimed enthusiastically:

“And now let what will, come! A brave man from your midst has said
to-day: ‘We will not yield, so long as an arm is left on our bodies, to
raise food to our lips and wield a sword!’ If we all think thus, twenty
Spanish armies will find their graves before these walls. On Leyden
depends the liberty of Holland. If we waver and fall, to escape the
misery that only threatens us to-day, but will pitilessly oppress and
torture us later, our children will say: ‘The men of Leyden were blind
cowards; it is their fault, that the name of Hollander is held in no
higher esteem, than that of a useless slave.’ But if we faithfully
hold out and resist the gloomy foreigner to the last man and the
last mouthful of bread, they will remember us with tears and joyfully
exclaim: ‘We owe it to them, that our noble, industrious, happy people
is permitted to place itself proudly beside the other nations, and need
no longer tolerate the miserable cuckoo in its own nest. Let whoever
loves honor, whoever is no degenerate wretch, that betrays his parents’
house, whoever would rather be a free man than a slave, ere raising
his hand before God to take the oath, exclaim with me: ‘Long live our
shield, Orange, and a free Holland!’”

“They shall live!” shouted hundreds of powerful voices, five, ten,
twenty times. The gunner discharged the cannon planted near the target,
drums beat, one flourish of trumpets after another filled the air, the
ringing of bells from all the towers of the city echoed over the
heads of the enthusiastic crowd, and the cheering continued until the
commissioner waved his hand and the swearing fealty began.

The guilds and the armed defenders of the city pressed forward in bands
under the linden. Now impetuously, now with dignified calmness, now
with devout exaltation, hands were raised to take the oath, and whoever
clasped hands did so with fervent warmth. Two hours elapsed before all
had sworn loyalty, and many a group that had passed under the linden
together, warmly grasped each other’s hands on the grounds in pledge of
a second silent vow.

Nicolas Van Wibisma sat silently, with his letter in his lap, beside a
target opposite the spot where the oath was taken, but sorrowful, bitter
emotions were seething in his breast. How gladly he would have wept
aloud and torn his father’s letter! How gladly, when he saw the
venerable Herr Van Montfort come hand in hand with the grey-haired Van
der Does to be sworn, he would have rushed to their side to take the
oath, and call to the earnest man beneath the linden:

“I am no degenerate wretch, who betrays his parents’ house; I desire to
be no slave, no Spaniard; I am a Netherlander, like yourself.”

But he did not go, did not speak, he remained sitting motionless till
the ceremony was over and Junker von Warmond conducted him under the
linden. Van Hout and both the Van der Does had joined the magistrates
who had administered the oath. Bowing silently, Nicolas delivered his
father’s letter to the burgomaster.

Van der Werff broke the seal, and after reading it, handed it to the
other gentlemen, then turning to Nicolas, said:

“Wait here, Junker. Your father counsels us to yield the city to the
Spaniards, and promises a pardon from the King. You cannot doubt the
answer, after what you have heard in this place.”

“There is but one,” cried Van Hout, in the midst of reading the letter.
“Tear the thing up and make no reply.”

“Ride home, in God’s name,” added Janus Dousa. “But wait, I’ll give you
something more for Valdez.”

“Then you will vouchsafe no reply to my father’s letter?” asked Nicolas.

“No, Junker. We wish to hold no intercourse with Baron Matanesse,”
 replied the commissioner. “As for you, you can return home or wait here;
just as you choose.”

“Go to your cousin, Junker,” said Janus Dousa kindly; “it will probably
be an hour before I can find paper, pen and sealing wax. Fraulein Van
Hoogstraten will be glad to hear, through you, from her father.”

“If agreeable to you, young sir,” added the burgomaster; “my house
stands open to you.”

Nicolas hesitated a moment, then said quickly: “Yes, take me to her.”

When the youth had reached the north end of the city with Herr von
Warmond, who had undertaken to accompany him, he asked the latter:

“Are you Junker Van Duivenvoorde, Herr von Warmond?”

“I am.”

“And you captured Brill, with the Beggars, from the Spaniards?”

“I had that good fortune.”

“And yet, you are of a good old family. And were there not other
noblemen with the Beggars also?”

“Certainly. Do you suppose it ill-beseems us, to have a heart for our
ancestors’ home? My forefathers, as well as yours, were noble before a
Spaniard ever entered the land.”

“But King Philip rules us as the lawful sovereign.”

“Unhappily. And therefore we obey his Stadtholder, the Prince, who
reigns in his name. The perjured hangman needs a guardian. Ask on; I’ll
answer willingly.”

Nicolas did not heed the request, but walked silently beside his
companion until they reached the Achtergracht. There he stood still,
seized the captain’s arm in great excitement, and said hastily in low,
broken sentences:

“It weighs on my heart. I must tell some one. I want to be Dutch. I hate
the Castilians. I have learned to know them in Leyderdorp and at the
Hague. They don’t heed me, because I am young, and they are not aware
that I understand their language. So my eyes were opened. When they
speak of us, it is with contempt and scorn. I know all that has been
done by Alva and Vargas. I have heard from the Spaniards’ own lips, that
they would like to root us out, exterminate us. If I could only do as I
pleased, and were it not for my father, I know what I would do. My head
is so confused. The burgomaster’s speech is driving me out of my wits.
Tell him, Junker, I beseech you, tell him I hate the Spaniards and it
would be my pride to be a Netherlander.”

Both had continued their walk, and as they approached the burgomaster’s
house, the captain, who had listened to the youth with joyful surprise,
said:

“You’re cut from good timber, Junker, and on the way to the right goal.
Only keep Herr Peter’s speech in your mind, and remember what you have
learned in history. To whom belong the shining purple pages in the great
book of national history? To the tyrants, their slaves and eye-servants,
or the men who lived and died for liberty? Hold up your head. This
conflict will perhaps outlast both our lives, and you still have a long
time to put yourself on the right side. The nobleman must serve his
Prince, but he need be no slave of a ruler, least of all a foreigner,
an enemy of his nation. Here we are; I’ll come for you again in an hour.
Give me your hand. I should like to call you by your Christian name in
future, my brave Nico.”

“Call me so,” exclaimed the youth, “and--you’ll send no one else? I
should like to talk with you again.”

The Junker was received in the burgomaster’s house by Barbara. Henrica
could not see him immediately, Father Damianus was with her, so he was
obliged to wait in the dining-room until the priest appeared. Nicolas
knew him well, and had even confessed to him once the year before. After
greeting the estimable man and answering his inquiry how he had come
there, he said frankly and hastily:

“Forgive me, Father, but something weighs upon my heart. You are a holy
man, and must know. Is it a crime, if a Hollander fights against the
Spaniards, is it a sin, if a Hollander wishes to be and remain what God
made him? I can’t believe it.”

“Nor do I,” replied Damianus in his simple manner. “Whoever clings
firmly to our holy church, whoever loves his neighbor and strives to
do right, may confidently favor the Dutch, and pray and fight for the
freedom of his native land.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Nicolas, with sparkling eyes.

“For,” continued Damianus more eagerly, “for you see, before the
Spaniards came into the country, they were good Catholics here and led
devout lives, pleasing in the sight of God. Why should it not be so
again? The most High has separated men into nations, because He wills,
that they should lead their own lives and shape them for their salvation
and His honor; but not to give the stronger nation the right to torture
and oppress another. Suppose your father went out to walk and a Spanish
grandee should jump on his shoulders and make him taste whip and spur,
as if he were a horse. It would be bad for the Castilian. Now substitute
Holland for Herr Matanesse, and Spain for the grandee, and you will know
what I mean. There is nothing left for us to do, except cast off the
oppressor. Our holy church will sustain no loss. God appointed it, and
it will stand whether King Philip or another rules. Now you know my
opinion. Do I err or not, in thinking that the name of Glipper no longer
pleases you, dear Junker?”

“No, Father Damianus!--You are right, a thousand times right. It is no
sin, to desire a free Holland.”

“Who told you it was one?”

“Canon Bermont and our chaplain.”

“Then we are of a different opinion concerning this temporal matter.
Give to God the things that are God’s, and remain where the Lord placed
you. When your beard grows, if you wish to fight for the liberty of
Holland, do so confidently. That is a sin for which I will gladly grant
you absolution.”

Henrica was greatly delighted to see the fresh, happy-looking youth
again. Nicolas was obliged to tell her about her father and his, and
inform her how he had come to Leyden. When she heard that he intended
to return in an hour, a bright idea entered her mind, which was wholly
engrossed by Belotti’s mission. She told Nicolas what she meant to
do, and begged him to take the steward through the Spanish army to the
Hague. The Junker was not only ready to fulfil her request, but promised
that, if the old man wanted to return, he would apprize her of it in
some way.

At the end of an hour she bade the boy farewell, and when again walking
towards the Achtergracht with Herr von Warmond, he asked joyously:

“How shall I get to the Beggars?”

“You?” asked the captain in astonishment.

“Yes, I!” replied the Junker eagerly. “I shall soon be seventeen, and
when I am--Wait, just wait--you’ll hear of me yet.”

“Right, Nicolas, right,” replied the other. “Let us be Holland nobles
and noble Hollanders.”

Three hours later, Junker Matanesse Van Wibisma rode into the Hague with
Belotti, whom he had loved from childhood. He brought his father nothing
but a carefully-folded and sealed letter, which Janus Dousa, with a
mischievous smile, had given him on behalf of the citizens of Leyden
for General Valdez, and which contained, daintily inscribed on a large
sheet, the following lines from Dionysius Cato:

     “Fistula dulce canit volucrem dum decipit auceps.”

   [“Sweet are the notes of the flute, when the fowler lures the bird
   to his nest.”]



CHAPTER XXVII.

The first week in June and half the second had passed, the beautiful
sunny days had drawn to a close, and numerous guests sought the
“Angulus” in Aquarius’s tavern during the evening hours. It was so cosy
there when the sea-breeze whistled, the rain poured, and the water fell
plashing on the pavements. The Spanish besieging army encompassed
the city like an iron wall. Each individual felt that he was a
fellow-prisoner of his neighbor, and drew closer to companions of his
own rank and opinions. Business was stagnant, idleness and anxiety
weighed like lead on the minds of all, and whoever wished to make time
pass rapidly and relieve his oppressed soul, went to the tavern to give
utterance to his own hopes and fears, and hear what others were thinking
and feeling in the common distress.

All the tables in the Angulus were occupied, and whoever wanted to be
understood by a distant neighbor was forced to raise his voice very
loud, for special conversations were being carried on at every table.
Here, there, and everywhere, people were shouting to the busy bar-maid,
glasses clinked together, and pewter lids fell on the tops of hard
stone-ware jugs.

The talk at a round table in the end of the long room was louder than
anywhere else. Six officers had seated themselves at it, among them
Georg von Dornburg. Captain Van der Laen, his superior officer, whose
past career had been a truly heroic one, was loudly relating in his deep
voice, strange and amusing tales of his travels by sea and land, Colonel
Mulder often interrupted him, and at every somewhat incredible story,
smilingly told a similar, but perfectly impossible adventure of his own.
Captain Van Duivenvoorde soothingly interposed, when Van der Laen, who
was conscious of never deviating far from the truth, angrily repelled
the old man’s jesting insinuations. Captain Cromwell, a grave man with
a round head and smooth long hair, who had come to Holland to fight for
the faith, rarely mingled in the conversation, and then only with a few
words of scarcely intelligible Dutch. Georg, leaning far back in his
chair, stretched his feet out before him and stared silently into
vacancy.

Herr Aquanus, the host, walked from one table to another, and when he
at last reached the one where the officers sat, paused opposite to the
Thuringian, saying:

“Where are your thoughts, Junker? One would scarcely know you during the
last few days. What has come over you?”

Georg hastily sat erect, stretched himself like a person roused from
sleep, and answered pleasantly:

“Dreams come in idleness.”

“The cage is getting too narrow for him,” said Captain Van der Laen. “If
this state of things lasts long, we shall all get dizzy like the sheep.”

“And as stiff as the brazen Pagan god on the shelf yonder,” added
Colonel Mulder.

“There was the same complaint during the first siege,” replied the host,
“but Herr von Noyelles drowned his discontent and emptied many a cask of
my best liquor.”

“Tell the gentlemen how he paid you,” cried Colonel Mulder.

“There hangs the paper framed,” laughed Aquarius. “Instead of sending
money, he wrote this:

     ‘Full many a favor, dear friend, hast thou done me,
     For which good hard coin glad wouldst thou be to see
     There’s none in my pockets; so for the debt
        In place of dirty coin,
        This written sheet so fine;
     Paper money in Leyden is easy to get.’”

“Excellent!” cried Junker von Warmond, “and besides you made the die for
the pasteboard coins yourself.”

“Of course! Herr von Noyelles’ sitting still, cost me dear. You have
already made two expeditions.”

“Hush, hush, for God’s sake say nothing about the first sally!”
 cried the captain. “A well-planned enterprise, which was shamefully
frustrated, because the leader lay down like a mole to sleep! Where has
such a thing happened a second time?”

“But the other ended more fortunately,” said the host. “Three hundred
hams, one hundred casks of beer, butter, ammunition, and the most
worthless of all spies into the bargain; always an excellent prize.”

“And yet a failure!” cried Captain Van der Laen, “We ought to have
captured and brought in all the provision ships on the Leyden Lake! And
the Kaag! To think that this fort on the island should be in the hands
of the enemy.”

“But the people have held out bravely,” said von Warmond.

“There are real devils among them,” replied Van der Laen, laughing. “One
struck a Spaniard down and, in the midst of the battle, took off his red
breeches and pulled them on his own legs.”

“I know the man,” added the landlord, “his name is Van Keulen; there
he sits yonder over his beer, telling the people all sorts of queer
stories. A fellow with a face like a satyr. We have no lack of comfort
yet! Remember Chevraux’ defeat, and the Beggars’ victory at Vlissingen
on the Scheldt.”

“To brave Admiral Boisot and the gallant Beggar troops!” cried Captain
Van der Laen, touching glasses with Colonel Mulder. The latter turned
with upraised beaker towards the Thuringian and, as the Junker who
had relapsed into his reverie, did not notice the movement, irritably
exclaimed:

“Well, Herr Dornburg, you require a long time to pledge a man.”

Georg started and answered hastily:

“Pledge? Oh! yes. Pledge. I pledge you, Colonel!” With these words he
raised the goblet, drained it at a single draught, made the nail test
and replaced it on the table.

“Well done!” cried the old man; and Herr Aquanus said:

“He learned that at the University; studying makes people thirsty.”

As he uttered the words, he cast a friendly glance of anxiety at the
young German, and then looked towards the door, through which Wilhelm
had just entered the Angulus. The landlord went to meet him and
whispered:

“I don’t like the German nobleman’s appearance. The singing lark has
become a mousing night-bird. What ails him?”

“Home-sickness, no news from his family, and the snare into which the
war has drawn him in his pursuit of glory and honor. He’ll soon be his
old self again.”

“I hope so,” replied the host. “Such a succulent little tree will
quickly rebound, when it is pressed to the earth; help the fine young
fellow.”

A guest summoned the landlord, but the musician joined the officers and
began a low conversation with Georg, which was drowned by the confused
mingling of loud voices.

Wilhelm came from the Van der Werff house, where he had learned that the
next day but one, June fourteenth, would be the burgomaster’s birthday.
Adrian had told Henrica, and the latter informed him. The master of the
house was to be surprised with a song on the morning of his birthday
festival.

“Excellent,” said Georg, interrupting his friend, “she will manage the
matter admirably.”

“Not she alone; we can depend upon Frau Van der Werff too. At first she
wanted to decline, but when I proposed a pretty madrigal, yielded and
took the soprano.”

“The soprano?” asked the Junker excitedly. “Of course I’m at your
service. Let us go; have you the notes at home?”

“No, Herr von Dornburg, I have just taken them to the ladies; but early
to-morrow morning--”

“There will be a rehearsal early to-morrow morning! The jug is for me,
Jungfer Dortchen! Your health, Colonel Mulder! Captain Huivenvoorde,
I drain this goblet to your new standard and hope to have many a jolly
ride by your side.”

The German’s eyes again sparkled with an eager light, and when Captain
Van der Laen, continuing his conversation, cried enthusiastically: “The
Beggars of the Sea will yet sink the Spanish power. The sea, gentlemen.
the sea! To base one’s cause on nothing, is the best way! To exult, leap
and grapple in the storm! To fight and struggle man to man and breast to
breast on the deck of the enemy’s ship! To fight and conquer, or perish
with the foe!”

“To your health, Junker!” exclaimed the colonel. “Zounds, we need such
youths!”

“Now you are your old self again,” said Wilhelm, turning to his friend.
“Touch glasses to your dear ones at home.”

“Two glasses for one,” cried Georg. “To the dear ones at home--to
the joys and sorrows of the heart, to the fair woman we love! War is
rapture, love is life! Let the wounds bleed, let the heart break into
a thousand pieces. Laurels grow green on the battle-field, love twines
garlands of roses-roses with thorns, yet beautiful roses! Go, beaker! No
other lips shall drink from you.”

Georg’s cheeks glowed as he flung the glass goblet into a corner of
the room, where it shattered into fragments. His comrades at the table
cheered loudly, but Captain Cromwell rose quietly to leave the room, and
the landlord shook his wise head doubtfully.

It seemed as if fire had poured into Georg’s soul and his spirit had
gained wings. The thick waving locks curled in dishevelled masses around
his handsome head, as leaning far back in his chair with unfastened
collar, he mingled clever sallies and brilliant similes with the quiet
conversation of the others. Wilhelm listened to his words sometimes with
admiration, sometimes with anxiety. It was long past midnight, when the
musician left the tavern with his friend. Colonel Mulder looked after
him and exclaimed to those left behind:

“The fellow is possessed with a devil.”

The next morning the madrigal was practised at the burgomaster’s house,
while its master was presiding over a meeting at the town-hall. Georg
stood between Henrica and Maria. So long as the musician found it
necessary to correct errors and order repetitions, a cheerful mood
pervaded the little choir, and Barbara, in the adjoining room, often
heard the sound of innocent laughter; but when each had mastered his or
her part and the madrigal was faultlessly executed, the ladies grew more
and more grave. Maria gazed fixedly at the sheet of music, and rarely
had her voice sounded so faultlessly pure, so full of feeling. Georg
adapted his singing to hers and his eyes, whenever they were raised
from the notes, rested on her face. Henrica sought to meet the Junker’s
glance, but always in vain, yet she wished to divert his attention from
the young wife, and it tortured her to remain unnoticed. Some impulse
urged her to surpass Maria, and the whole passionate wealth of her
nature rang out in her singing. Her fervor swept the others along.
Maria’s treble rose exultantly above the German’s musical voice, and
Henrica’s tones blended angrily yet triumphantly in the strain. The
delighted and inspired musician beat the time and, borne away by the
liquid melody of Henrica’s voice, revelled in sweet recollections of her
sister.

When the serenade was finished, he eagerly cried:

“Again!” The rivalry between the singers commenced with fresh vigor,
and this time the Junker’s beaming gaze met the young wife’s eyes. She
hastily lowered the notes, stepped out of the semicircle, and said:

“We know the madrigal. Early to-morrow morning, Meister Wilhelm; my time
is limited.”

“Oh, oh!” cried the musician regretfully. “It was going on so
splendidly, and there were only a few bars more.” But Maria was already
standing at the door and made no reply, except:

“To-morrow.”

The musician enthusiastically thanked Henrica for her singing; Georg
courteously expressed his gratitude. When both had taken leave, Henrica
paced rapidly to and fro, passionately striking her clenched fist in the
palm of her other hand.

The singers were ready early on the birthday morning, but Peter had
risen before sunrise, for there was a proposition to be arranged with
the city clerk, which must be completed before the meeting of the
council. Nothing was farther from his thoughts than his birthday, and
when the singers in the dining-room commenced their madrigal, he rapped
on the door, exclaiming:

“We are busy; find another place for your singing.” The melody was
interrupted for a moment, and Barbara said:

“People picking apples don’t think of fishing-nets. He has no idea it is
his birthday. Let the children go in first.”

Maria now entered the study with Adrian and Bessie. They carried
bouquets in their hands, and the young wife had dressed the little girl
so prettily that, in her white frock, she really looked like a dainty
fairy.

Peter now knew the meaning of the singing, warmly embraced the three
well-wishers, and when the madrigal began again, stood opposite to the
performers to listen. True, the execution was not nearly so good as
at the rehearsal, for Maria sang in a low and somewhat muffled voice,
while, spite of Wilhelm’s vehement beating of time, the warmth and verve
of the day before would not return.

“Admirable, admirable,” cried Peter, when the singers ceased. “Well
planned and executed, a beautiful birthday surprise.” Then he shook
hands with each, saying a few cordial words and, as he grasped the
Junker’s right hand, remarked warmly: “You have dropped down on us from
the skies during these bad days, just at the right time. It is always
something to have a home in a foreign land, and you have found one with
us.”

Georg had bent his eyes on the floor, but at the last words raised them
and met the burgomaster’s. How honestly, how kindly and frankly they
looked at him! Deep emotion overpowered him, and without knowing what
he was doing, he laid his hands on Peter’s arms and hid his face on his
shoulder.

Van der Werff suffered him to do so, stroked the youth’s hair, and said
smiling:

“Like Leonhard, wife, just like our Leonhard. We will dine together
to-day. You, too, Van Hout; and don’t forget your wife.”

Maria assigned the seats at the table, so that she was not obliged to
look at Georg. His place was beside Frau Van Hout and opposite Henrica
and the musician. At first he was silent and embarrassed, but Henrica
gave him no rest, and when he had once begun to answer her questions
he was soon carried away by her glowing vivacity, and gave free, joyous
play to his wit. Henrica did not remain in his debt, her eyes sparkled,
and in the increasing pleasure of trying the power of her intellect
against his, she sought to surpass every jest and repartee made by
the Junker. She drank no wine, but was intoxicated by her own flow of
language and so completely engrossed Georg’s attention, that he found
no time to address a word to the other guests. If he attempted to do so,
she quickly interrupted him and compelled him to turn to her again. This
constraint annoyed the young man; while struggling against it his
spirit of wantonness awoke, and he began to irritate Henrica into making
unprecedented assertions, which he opposed with equally unwarrantable
ones of his own.

Maria sometimes listened to the young lady in surprise, and there was
something in Georg’s manner that vexed her. Peter took little notice
of Henrica; he was talking with Van Hout about the letters from the
Glippers asking a surrender, three of which had already been brought
into the city, of the uncertain disposition of some members of the
council and the execution of the captured spy.

Wilhelm, who had scarcely vouchsafed his neighbor an answer, was now
following the conversation of the older men and remarked, that he had
known the traitor. He was a tavern-keeper, in whose inn he had once met
Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma.

“There we have it,” said Van Hout. “A note was found in Quatgelat’s
pouch, and the writing bore a mysterious resemblance to the baron’s
hand. Quatgelat was to enquire about the quantity of provisions in
Leyden.” “All alike!” exclaimed the burgomaster. “Unhappily he could
have brought tidings only too welcome to Valdez. Little that is cheering
has resulted from the investigation; though the exact amount has not yet
been ascertained.”

“We must place it during the next few days in charge of the ladies.”

“Give it to the women?” asked Peter in astonishment.

“Yes, to us!” cried Van Hout’s wife. “Why should we sit idle, when we
might be of use.”

“Give us the work!” exclaimed Maria. “We are as eager as you, to render
the great cause some service.”

“And believe me,” added Frau Van Hout, “we shall find admittance to
store-rooms and cellars much more quickly than constables and guards,
whom the housewives fear.”

“Women in the service of the city,” said Peter thoughtfully. “To be
honest--but your proposal shall be considered.--The young lady is in
good spirits today.”

Maria glanced indignantly at Henrica, who had leaned far across the
table. She was showing Georg a ring, and laughingly exclaimed:

“Don’t you wish to know what the device means? Look, a serpent biting
its own tail.”

“Aha!” replied the Junker, “the symbol of self-torment.”

“Good, good! But it has another meaning, which you would do well to
notice, Sir Knight. Do you know the signification of eternity and
eternal faith?”

“No, Fraulein, I wasn’t taught to think so deeply at Jena.”

“Of course. Your teachers were men. Men and faith, eternal faith!”

“Was Delilah, who betrayed Samson to the Philistines, a man or a woman?”
 asked Van Hout.

“She was a woman. The exception, that proves the rule. Isn’t that so,
Maria?”

The burgomaster’s wife made no reply except a silent nod; then
indignantly pushed back her chair, and the meal was over.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

Days and weeks had passed, July was followed by sultry August, and that,
too, was drawing to a close. The Spaniards still surrounded Leyden,
and the city now completely resembled a prison. The soldiers and armed
citizens did their duty wearily and sullenly, there was business enough
at the town-hall, but the magistrates’ work was sad and disagreeable;
for no message of hope came from the Prince or the Estates, and
everything to be considered referred to the increasing distress and
the terrible follower of war, the plague, which had made its entry
into Leyden with the famine. Moreover the number of malcontents weekly
increased. The friends of the old order of affairs now raised their
voices more and more loudly, and many a friend of liberty, who saw
his family sickening, joined the Spanish sympathizers and demanded
the surrender of the city. The children went to school and met in
the playgrounds as before, but there was rarely a flash of the merry
pertness of former days, and what had become of the boys’ red cheeks and
the round arms of the little girls? The poor drew their belts tighter,
and the morsel of bread, distributed by the city to each individual, was
no longer enough to quiet hunger and support life.

Junker Georg had long been living in Burgomaster Van der Werff’s house.

On the morning of August 29th he returned home from an expedition,
carrying a cross-bow in his hand, while a pouch hung over his shoulder.
This time he did not go up-stairs, but sought Barbara in the kitchen.
The widow received him with a friendly nod; her grey eyes sparkled as
brightly as ever, but her round face had grown narrower and there was a
sorrowful quiver about the sunken mouth.

“What do you bring to-day?” she asked the Junker. Georg thrust his hand
into his game-bag and answered, smiling: “A fat snipe and four larks;
you know.”

“Poor sparrows! But what sort of a creature can this be? Headless,
legless, and carefully plucked! Junker, Junker, that’s suspicious.”

“It will do for the pan, and the name is of no consequence.”

“Yet, yet; true, nobody knows on what he fattens, but the Lord didn’t
create every animal for the human stomach.”

“That’s just what I said. It’s a short-billed snipe, a corvus, a real
corvus.”

“Corvus! Nonsense, I’m afraid of the thing--the little feathers under
the wings. Good heavens! surely it isn’t a raven?”

“It’s a corvus, as I said. Put the bird in vinegar, roast it with
seasoning and it will taste like a real snipe. Wild ducks are not to be
found every day, as they were a short time ago, and sparrows are
getting as scarce as roses in winter. Every boy is standing about with a
cross-bow, and in the court-yards people are trying to catch them under
sieves and with lime-twigs. They are going to be exterminated, but one
or another is still spared. How is the little elf?”

“Don’t call her that!” exclaimed the widow. “Give her her Christian
name. She looks like this cloth, and since yesterday has refused to take
the milk we daily procure for her at a heavy cost. Heaven knows what
the end will be. Look at that cabbage-stalk. Half a stiver! and that
miserable piece of bone! Once I should have thought it too poor for the
dogs--and now! The whole household must be satisfied with it. For supper
I shall boil ham-rind with wine and add a little porridge to it. And
this for a giant like Peter! God only knows where he gets his strength;
but he looks like his own shadow. Maria doesn’t need anything more than
a bird, but Adrian, poor fellow, often leaves the table with tears in
his eyes, yet I know he has broken many a bit of bread from his thin
slice for Bessie. It is pitiable. Yet the proverb says: ‘Stretch
yourself towards the ceiling, or your feet will freeze--‘Necessity knows
no law,’ and ‘Reserve to preserve.’ Day before yesterday, like the rest,
we again gave of the little we still possessed. To-morrow, everything
beyond what is needed for the next fortnight, must be delivered up, and
Peter won’t allow us to keep even a bag of flour, but what will come
then--merciful Heaven!--”

The widow sobbed aloud as she uttered the last words and continued,
weeping: “Where do you get your strength? At your age this miserable
scrap of meat is a mere drop of water on a red-hot stone.”

“Herr Van Aken gives me what he can, in addition to my ration. I shall
get through; but I witnessed a terrible sight to-day at the tailor’s,
who mends my clothes.”

“Well?”

“Two of his children have starved to death.”

“And the weaver’s family opposite,” added Barbara, weeping. “Such nice
people! The young wife was confined four days ago, and this morning
mother and child expired of weakness, expired, I tell you, like a
lamp that has consumed its oil and must go out. At the cloth-maker
Peterssohn’s, the father and all five children have died of the plague.
If that isn’t pitiful!”

“Stop, stop!” said Georg, shuddering. “I must go to the court-yard to
drill.”

“What’s the use of that! The Spaniards don’t attack; they leave the
work to the skeleton death. Your fencing gives an appetite, and the poor
hollow herrings can scarcely stir their own limbs.”

“Wrong, Frau Barbara, wrong,” replied the young man. “The exercise and
motion sustains them. Herr von Nordwyk knew what he was doing, when he
asked me to drill them in the dead fencing-master’s place.”

“You’re thinking of the ploughshare that doesn’t rust. Perhaps you are
right; but before you go to work, take a sip of this. Our wine is still
the best. When people have something to do, at least they don’t mutiny,
like those poor fellows among the volunteers day before yesterday. Thank
God, they are gone!”

While the widow was filling a glass, Wilhelm’s mother came into the
kitchen and greeted Barbara and the young nobleman. She carried under
her shawl a small package clasped tightly to her bosom. Her breadth was
still considerable, but the flesh, with which she had moved about
so briskly a few months ago, now seemed to have become an oppressive
burden.

She took the little bundle in her right hand, saying “I have something
for your Bessie. My Wilhelm, good fellow--”

Here she paused and restored her gift to its old place. She had seen
the Junker’s plucked present, and continued in an altered tone: “So you
already have a pigeon--so much the better! The city clerk’s little girl
is beginning to droop too. I’ll see you to-morrow, if God wills.”

She was about to go, but Georg stopped her, saying: “You are mistaken,
my good lady. I shot that bird to-day, I’ll confess now, Frau Barbara;
my corvus is a wretched crow.”

“I thought so,” cried the widow. “Such an abomination!”

Yet she thrust her finger into the bird’s breast, saying: “But there’s
meat on the creature.”

“A crow!” cried Wilhelm’s mother, clasping her hands. “True, dogs and
cats are already hanging on many a spit and have wandered into many a
pan. There is the pigeon.”

Barbara unwrapped the bird as carefully, as if it might crumble under
her fingers, gazing tenderly at it as she weighed it carefully in her
hand; but the musician’s mother said:

“It’s the fourth one Wilhelm has killed, and he said it would have been
a good flier. He intended it specially for your Bessie. Stuff it nicely
with yellow paste, not too solid and a little sweetened. That is what
children like, and it will agree with her, for it is cheerfully given.
Put the little thing away. When we have known any creature, we feel
sorry to see it dead.”

“May God reward you!” cried Barbara, pressing the kind old hand. “Oh!
these terrible times!”

“Yet there is still something to be thankful for.”

“Of course, for it will be even worse in hell,” replied the widow.

“Don’t fall into sin,” said the aged matron: “You have only one sick
person in the house. Can I see Frau Maria?”

“She is in the workshops, taking the people a little meat from our
store. Are you too so short of flour? Cows are still to be seen in the
pastures, but the grain seems to have been actually swept away; there
wasn’t a peck in the market. Will you take a sip of wine too? Shall I
call my sister-in-law?”

“I will seek her myself. The usury in the market is no longer to be
endured. We can do nothing more there, but she is already bringing
people to reason.”

“The traders in the market?” asked Georg.

“Yes, Herr von Dornburg, yes. One wouldn’t believe how much that
delicate woman can accomplish. Day before yesterday, when we went about
to learn how large a stock of provisions every house contains, people
treated me and the others very rudely, many even turned us out of doors.
But she went to the roughest, and the cellars and store-rooms opened
before her, as the waves of the sea divided before the people of Israel.
How she does it, Heaven knows, but the people can’t refuse her.”

Georg drew a long breath and left the kitchen. In the court-yard he
found several city soldiers, volunteers and militia-men, with whom
he went through exercises in fencing. Van der Werff placed it at his
disposal for this purpose, and there certainly was no man in Leyden more
capable than the German of supplying worthy Allertssohn’s place.

Barbara was not wrong. His pupils looked emaciated and miserable enough,
but many of them had learned, in the dead man’s school, to wield the
sword well, and were heartily devoted to the profession.

In the centre of the court-yard stood a human figure, stuffed with tow
and covered with leather, which bore on the left breast a bit of red
paper in the shape of a heart. The more unskilful were obliged to thrust
at this figure to train the hand and eye; the others stood face to face
in pairs and fought under Georg’s direction with blunt foils.

The Junker had felt very weak when he entered the kitchen, for the
larger half of his ration of bread had been left at the unfortunate
tailor’s; but Barbara’s wine had revived him and, rousing himself, he
stepped briskly forth to meet his fencers. His doublet was quickly
flung on a bench, his belt drawn tighter, and he soon stood in his white
shirt-sleeves before the soldiers.

As soon as his first word of command was heard, Henrica’s window closed
with a bang. Formerly it had often been opened when the fencing drill
began, and she had not even shrunk from occasionally clapping her hands
and calling “bravo.” This time had long since passed, it was weeks since
she had bestowed a word or glance on the young noble. She had never
made such advances to any man, would not have striven so hard to win a
prince’s favor! And he? At first he had been distant, then more and more
assiduously avoided her. Her pride was deeply wounded. Her purpose of
diverting his attention from Maria had long been forgotten, and moreover
something--she knew not what had come between her and the young wife.
Not a day elapsed in which he did not meet her, and this was a source of
pleasure to Henrica, because she could show him that his presence was
a matter of indifference, nay even unpleasant. Her imprisonment greatly
depressed her, and she longed unutterably for the open country, the
fields and the forest. Yet she never expressed a wish to leave the city,
for--Georg was in Leyden, and every waking and dreaming thought was
associated with him. She loved him to-day, loathed him tomorrow, and did
both with all the ardor of her passionate heart. She often thought of
her sister too, and uttered many prayers for her. To win the favor of
Heaven by good works and escape ennui, she helped the Grey Sisters, who
lived in a little old convent next to Herr Van der Werff’s house, nurse
the sick whole they had lovingly received, and even went with Sister
Gonzaga to the houses of the Catholic citizens, to collect alms for the
little hospital. But all this was done without joyous self-devotion,
sometimes with extravagant zeal, sometimes lazily, and for days not at
all. She had become excessively irritable, but after being unbearably
arrogant one day, would seem sorrowful and ill at ease the next, though
without asking the offended person’s pardon.

The young girl now stood behind the closed window, watching Georg, who
with a bold spring dashed at the leathern figure and ran the sword in
his right hand through the phantom’s red heart.

The soldiers loudly expressed their admiration. Henrica’s eye, also
sparkled approvingly, but suddenly they lost their light, and she
stepped farther back into the room, for Maria came out of the workshops
in the court-yard and, with her gaze fixed on the ground, walked past
the fencers.

The young wife had grown paler, but her clear blue eyes had gained a
more confident, resolute expression. She had learned to go her own way,
and sought and found arduous duties in the service of the city and the
poor. She had remained conqueror in many a severe conflict of the heart,
but the struggle was not yet over; she felt this whenever Georg’s
path crossed hers. As far as possible she avoided him, for she did not
conceal from herself, that the attempt to live with him on the footing
of a friend and brother, would mean nothing but the first step on the
road to ruin for him and herself. That he was honestly aiding her by a
strong effort at self-control, she gratefully felt, for she stood heart
to heart with her husband on the ship of life. She wished no other
guide; nay the thought of going to destruction with Peter had no
terror to her. And yet, yet! Georg was like the magnetic mountain, that
attracted her, and which she must avoid to save the vessel from sinking.

To-day she had been asking the different workmen how they fared, and
witnessed scenes of the deepest misery.

The brave men knew that the surrender of the city might put an end to
their distress, but wished to hold out for the sake of liberty and their
religion, and endured their suffering as an inevitable misfortune.

In the entry of the house Maria met Wilhelm’s mother, and promised
her she would consult with Frau Van Hout that very day, concerning the
extortion practised by the market-men. Then she went to poor Bessie, who
sat, pale and weak, in a little chair. Her prettiest doll had been lying
an hour in the same position on her lap. The child’s little hands and
will were too feeble to move the toy. Trautchen brought in a cup of new
milk. The citizens were not yet wholly destitute of this, for a goodly
number of cows still grazed outside the city walls under the protection
of the cannon, but the child refused to drink and could only be induced,
amid tears, to swallow a few drops.

While Maria was affectionately coaxing the little one, Peter entered
the room. The tall man, the very model of a stately burgher, who paid
careful heed to his outward appearance, now looked careless of
his person. His brown hair hung over his forehead, his thick,
closely-trimmed moustache straggled in thin lines over his cheeks, his
doublet had grown too large, and his stockings did not fit snugly as
usual, but hung in wrinkles on his powerful legs.

Greeting his wife with a careless wave of the hand, he approached the
child and gazed silently at it a long time with tender affection. Bessie
turned her pretty little face towards him and tried to welcome him, but
the smile died on her lips, and she again gazed listlessly at her doll,
Peter stooped, raised her in his arms, called her by name and pressed
his lips to her pale cheeks. The child gently stroked his beard and then
said feebly:

“Put me down, dear father, I feel dizzy up here.” The burgomaster, with
tears in his eyes, put his darling carefully back in her little chair,
then left the room and went to his study. Maria followed him and asked
“Is there no message yet from the Prince or the estates?”

He silently shrugged his shoulders.

“But they will not, dare not forget us?” cried the young wife eagerly.

“We are perishing and they leave us to die,” he answered in a hollow
tone.

“No, no, they have pierced the dykes; I know they will help us.”

“When it is too late. One thing follows another, misfortune is heaped
on misfortune, and on whom do the curses of the starving people fall? On
me, me, me alone.”

“You are acting with the Prince’s commissioner.”

Peter smiled bitterly, saying: “He took to his bed yesterday. Bontius
says it is the plague. I, I alone bear everything.”

“We bear it with you,” cried Maria. “First poverty, then hunger, as we
promised.”

“Better than that. The last grain was baked today. The bread is
exhausted.”

“We still have oxen and horses.”

“We shall come to them day after to-morrow. It was determined: Two
pounds with the bones to every four persons. Bread gone, cows gone, milk
gone. And what will happen then? Mothers, infants, sick people! And our
Bessie!”

The burgomaster pressed his hands on his temples and groaned aloud. But
Maria said: “Courage, Peter, courage. Hold fast to one thing, don’t let
one thing go--hope.”

“Hope, hope,” he answered scornfully.

“To hope no longer,” cried Maria, “means to despair. To despair means in
our case to open the gates, to open the gates means--”

“Who is thinking of opening the gates? Who talks of surrender?” he
vehemently interrupted. “We will still hold firm, still, still----There
is the portfolio, take it to the messenger.”



CHAPTER XXIX.

Bessie had eaten a piece of roast pigeon, the first morsel for several
days, and there was as much rejoicing over it in the Van der Werff
household, as if some great piece of good fortune had befallen the
family. Adrian ran to the workshops and told the men, Peter went to the
town-hall with a more upright bearing, and Maria, who was obliged to go
out, undertook to tell Wilhelm’s mother of the good results produced by
her son’s gift.

Tears ran down the old lady’s flabby cheeks at the story and, kissing
the burgomaster’s wife, she exclaimed:

“Yes, Wilhelm, Wilhelm! If he were only at home now. But I’ll call his
father. Dear me, he is probably at the town-hall too. Hark, Frau Maria,
hark--what’s that?”

The ringing of bells and firing of cannon had interrupted her words; she
hastily threw open the window, crying:

“From the Tower of Pancratius! No alarm-bell, firing and merry-ringing.
Some joyful tidings have come. We need them! Ulrich, Ulrich! Come back
at once and bring us the news. Dear Father in Heaven!

“Merciful God! Send the relief. If it were only that!”

The two women waited in great suspense. At last Wilhelm’s brother Ulrich
returned, saying that the messengers sent to Delft had succeeded in
passing the enemy’s ranks and brought with them a letter from the
estates, which the city-clerk had read from the window of the town-hall.
The representatives of the country praised the conduct and endurance
of the citizens, and informed them that, in spite of the damage done to
thousands of people, the dykes would be cut.

In fact, the water was already pouring over the land, and the messengers
had seen the vessels appointed to bring relief. The country surrounding
Leyden must soon be inundated, and the rising flood would force the
Spanish army to retreat, “Better a drowned land than a lost land,” was
a saying that had been decisive in the execution of the violent measure
proposed, and those who had risked so much might be expected to shrink
from no sacrifice to save Leyden.

The two women joyously shook hands with each other; the bells continued
to ring merrily, and report after report of cannon made the window-panes
rattle.

As twilight approached, Maria turned her steps towards home. It was
long since her heart had been so light. The black tablets on the
houses containing cases of plague did not look so sorrowful to-day, the
emaciated faces seemed less pitiful than usual, for to them also help
was approaching. The faithful endurance was to be rewarded, the cause of
freedom would conquer.

She entered the “broad street” with winged steps. Thousands of citizens
had flocked into it to see, hear, and learn what might be hoped, or what
still gave cause for fear. Musicians had been stationed at the corners
to play lively airs; the Beggars’ song mingled with the pipes and
trumpets and the cheers of enthusiastic men. But there were also throngs
of well-dressed citizens and women, who loudly and fearlessly mocked
at the gay music and exulting simpletons, who allowed themselves to be
cajoled by empty promises. Where was the relief? What could the handful
of Beggars--which at the utmost were all the troops the Prince could
bring--do against King Philip’s terrible military power, that surrounded
Leyden? And the inundation of the country? The ground on which the city
stood was too high for the water ever to reach it. The peasants had been
injured, without benefitting the citizens. There was only one means of
escape--to trust to the King’s mercy.

“What is liberty to us?” shouted a brewer, who, like all his companions
in business, had long since been deprived of his grain and forbidden to
manufacture any fresh beer. “What will liberty be to us, when we’re cold
in death? Let whoever means well go the town-hall and demand a surrender
before it is too late.”

“Surrender! The mercy of the King!” shouted the citizens.

“Life comes first, and then the question whether it shall be free or
under Spanish rule, Calvanistical or Popish!” screamed a master-weaver.
“I’ll march to the town-hall with you.”

“You are right, good people,” said Burgomaster Baersdorp, who, clad in
his costly fur-bordered cloak, was coming from the town-hall and had
heard the last speaker’s words. “But let me set you right. To-day the
credulous are beginning to hope again, and the time for pressing your
just desire is ill-chosen. Wait a few days and then, if the relief does
not appear, urge your views. I’ll speak for you, and with me many a
good man in the magistracy. We have nothing to expect from Valdez, but
gentleness and kindness. To rise against the King was from the first a
wicked deed--to fight against famine, the plague and death is sin and
madness. May God be with you, men!”

“The burgomaster is sensible,” cried a cloth-dyer.

“Van Swieten and Norden think as he does, but Meister Peter rules
through the Prince’s favor. If the Spaniards rescue us, his neck will be
in danger, when they make their entrance into the city So no matter who
dies; he and his are living on the fat of the land and have plenty.”

“There goes his wife,” said a master-weaver, pointing to Maria. “How
happy she looks! The leather business must be doing well. Holloa--Frau
Van der Werff! Holloa! Remember me to your husband and tell him, his
life may be valuable; but ours are not wisps of straw.”

“Tell him, too,” cried a cattle-dealer, who did not yet seem to have
been specially injured by the general distress, “tell him oxen can be
slaughtered, the more the better; but Leyden citizens--”

The cattle-dealer did not finish his sentence, for Herr Aquanus had seen
from the Angulus what was happening to the burgomaster’s wife, came
out of the tavern into the street, and stepped into the midst of the
malcontents.

“For shame!” he cried. “To assail a respectable lady in the street! Are
these Leyden manners? Give me your hand, Frau Maria, and if I hear a
single reviling word, I’ll call the constables. I know you. The gallows
Herr Van Bronkhorst had erected for men like you, is still standing by
the Blue Stone. Which of you wants to inaugurate them?”

The men, to whom these words were addressed, were not the bravest of
mortals, and not a syllable was heard, as Aquanus led the young wife
into the tavern. The landlord’s wife and daughter received her in their
own rooms, which were separated from those occupied by guests of the
inn, and begged her to make herself comfortable there until the crowd
had dispersed. But Maria longed to reach home, and when she said she
must go, Aquanus offered his company.

Georg von Dornburg was standing in the entry and stepped back with a
respectful bow, but the innkeeper called to him, saying:

“There is much to be done to-day, for many a man will doubtless indulge
himself in a glass of liquor after the good news. No offence, Frau Van
der Werft; but the Junker will escort you home as safely as I--and you,
Herr von Dornburg--”

“I am at your service,” replied Georg, and went out into the street with
the young wife.

For a time both walked side by side in silence, each fancying he or she
could hear the beating of the other’s heart. At last Georg, drawing a
long breath, said:

“Three long, long months have passed since my arrival here. Have I been
brave, Maria?”

“Yes, Georg.”

“But you cannot imagine what it has cost me to fetter this poor heart,
stifle my words, and blind my eyes. Maria, it must once be said--”

“Never, never,” she interrupted in a tone of earnest entreaty. “I know
that you have struggled honestly, do not rob yourself of the victory
now.”

“Oh! hear me, Maria, this once hear me.”

“What will it avail, if you oppress my soul with ardent words? I must
not hear from any man that he loves me, and what I must not hear, you
must not speak.”

“Must not?” he asked in a tone of gentle reproach, then in a gloomy,
bitter mood, continued: “You are right, perfectly right. Even speech is
denied me. So life may run on like a leaden stream, and everything that
grows and blossoms on its banks remain scentless and grey. The golden
sunshine has hidden itself behind a mist, joy lies fainting in my heart,
and all that once pleased me has grown stale and charmless. Do you
recognize the happy youth of former days?”

“Seek cheerfulness again, seek it for my sake.”

“Gone, gone,” he murmured sadly. “You saw me in Delft, but you did not
know me thoroughly. These eyes were like two mirrors of fortune in which
every object was charmingly transfigured, and they were rewarded; for
wherever they looked they met only friendly glances. This heart then
embraced the whole world, and beat so quickly and joyously! I often did
not know what to do with myself from sheer mirth and vivacity, and it
seemed as if I must burst into a thousand pieces like an over-loaded
firelock, only instead of scattering far and wide, mount straight up to
Heaven. Those days were so happy, and yet so sad--I felt it ten times
as much in Delft, when you were kind to me. And now, now? I still have
wings, I still might fly, but here I creep like a snail--because it is
your will.”

“It is not my wish,” replied Maria. “You are dear to me, that I may
be permitted to confess--and to see you thus fills me with grief. But
now--if I am dear to you, and I know you care for me--cease to torture
me so cruelly. You are dear to me. I have said it, and it must be
spoken, that everything may be clearly understood between us. You are
dear to me, like the beautiful by-gone days of my youth, like pleasant
dreams, like a noble song, in which we take delight, and which refreshes
our souls, whenever we hear or remember it--but more you are not, more
you can never be. You are dear to me, and I wish you to remain so, but
that you can only do by not breaking the oath you have sworn.”

“Sworn?” asked Georg. “Sworn?”

“Yes, sworn,” interrupted Maria, checking her steps. “On Peter’s breast,
on the morning of his birthday--after the singing. You remember it well.
At the time you took a solemn vow; I know it, know it no less surely,
than that I myself swore faith to my husband at the altar. If you can
give me the lie, do so.”

Georg shook his head, and answered with increasing warmth:

“You read my soul. Our hearts know each other like two faithful friends,
as the earth knows her moon, the moon her earth. What is one without
the other? Why must they be separated? Did you ever walk along a forest
path? The tracks of two wheels run side by side and never touch. The
axle holds them asunder, as our oath parts us.”

“Say rather--our honor.”

“As our honor parts us. But often in the woods we find a place where the
road ends in a field or hill, and there the tracks cross and intersect
each other, and in this hour I feel that my path has come to an end. I
can go no farther, I cannot, or the horses will plunge into the thicket
and the vehicle be shattered on the roots and stones.”

“And honor with it. Not a word more. Let us walk faster. See the lights
in the windows. Everyone wants to show that he rejoices in the good
news. Our house mustn’t remain dark either.”

“Don’t hurry so. Barbara will attend to it, and how soon we must part!
Yet you said that I was dear to you.”

“Don’t torture me,” cried the young wife, with pathetic entreaty.

“I will not torture you, Maria, but you must hear me. I was in earnest,
terrible earnest in the mute vow I swore, and have sought to release
myself from it by death. You have heard how I rushed like a madman among
the Spaniards, at the storming of the Boschhuizen fortification in July.
Your bow, the blue bow from Delft, the knot of ribbons the color of the
sky, fluttered on my left shoulder as I dashed upon swords and lances. I
was not to die, and came out of the confusion uninjured. Oh! Maria, for
the sake of this oath I have suffered unequalled torments. Release me
from it, Maria, let me once, only once, freely confess--”

“Stop, Georg, stop,” pleaded the young wife. “I will not, must not hear
you-neither to-day, nor tomorrow, never, never, to all eternity!”

“Once, only once, I will, I must say to you, that I love you, that life
and happiness, peace and honor--”

“Not one word more, Junker von Dornburg. There is our house. You are
our guest, and if you address a single word like the last ones to your
friend’s wife--”

“Maria, Maria--oh, don’t touch the knocker. How can you so unfeelingly
destroy the whole happiness of a human being--”

The door had opened, and the burgomaster’s wife crossed the threshold.
Georg stood opposite to her, held out his hand as if beseeching aid, and
murmured in a hollow tone:

“Cast forth to death and despair! Maria, Maria, why do you treat me
thus?”

She laid her right hand in his, saying:

“That we may remain worthy of each other, Georg.”

She forcibly withdrew her icy hand and entered the house; but he
wandered for hours through the lighted streets like a drunken man, and
at last threw himself, with a burning brain, upon his couch. A small
volume, lightly stitched together, lay on a little table beside the bed.
He seized it, and with trembling fingers wrote on its pages. The pencil
often paused, and he frequently drew a long breath and gazed with
dilated eyes into vacancy. At last he threw the book aside and watched
anxiously for the morning.



CHAPTER XXX.

Just before sunrise Georg sprang from his couch, drew out his knapsack,
and filled it with his few possessions; but this time the little book
found no place with the other articles.

The musician Wilhelm also entered the court-yard at a very early-hour,
just as the first workmen were going to the shops. The Junker saw him
coming, and met him at the door.

The artist’s face revealed few traces of the want he had endured, but
his whole frame was trembling with excitement and his face changed color
every moment, as he instantly, and in the utmost haste, told Georg the
purpose of his early visit.

Shortly after the arrival of the city messengers, a Spanish envoy had
brought Burgomaster Van der Werff a letter written by Junker Nicolas
Matanesse, containing nothing but the tidings, that Henrica’s sister
had reached Leyderdorp with Belotti and found shelter in the elder Baron
Matanesse’s farm-house. She was very ill, and longed to see her sister.
The burgomaster had given this letter to the young lady, and Henrica
hastened to the musician without delay, to entreat him to help her
escape from the city and guide her to the Spanish lines. Wilhelm was
undergoing a severe struggle. No sacrifice seemed too great to see Anna
again, and what the messenger had accomplished, he too might succeed
in doing. But ought he to aid the flight of the young girl detained as
hostage by the council, deceive the sentinels at the gate, desert his
post?

Since Henrica’s request that Georg would escort her sister from Lugano
to Holland, the young man had known everything that concerned the
latter, and was also aware of the state of the musician’s heart.

“I must, and yet I ought not,” cried Wilhelm. “I have passed a terrible
night; imagine yourself in my place, in the young lady’s.”

“Get a leave of absence until to-morrow,” said Georg resolutely. “When
it grows dark, I’ll accompany Henrica with you. She must swear to return
to the city in case of a surrender. As for me, I am no longer bound by
any oath to serve the English flag. A month ago we received permission
to enter the service of the Netherlands. It will only cost me a word
with Captain Van der Laen, to be my own master.”

“Thanks, thanks; but the young lady forbade me to ask your assistance.”

“Folly, I shall go with you, and when our goal is reached, fight my way
through to the Beggars. Our departure will not trouble the council, for,
when Henrica and I are outside, there will be two eaters less in
Leyden. The sky is grey; I hope we shall have a dark night. Captain Van
Duivenvoorde commands the guard at the Hohenort Gate. He knows us both,
and will let us pass. I’ll speak to him. Is the farm-house far inside
the village?”

“No, outside on the road to Leyden.”

“Well then, we’ll meet at Aquanus’s tavern at four o’clock.”

“But the young lady--”

“It will be time enough, if she learns at the gate who is to accompany
her.”

When Georg came to the tavern at the appointed hour, he learned that
Henrica had received another letter from Nicolas. It had been given to
the outposts by the Junker himself, and contained only the words “Until
midnight, the Spanish watch-word is ‘Lepanto.’ Your father shall know
to-day, that Anna is here.”

After the departure from the Hohenort Gate had been fixed for nine
o’clock in the evening, Georg went to Captain Van der Laen and the
commandant Van der Does, received from the former the discharge he
requested, and from Janus a letter to his friend, Admiral Boisot. When
he informed his men, that he intended to leave the city and make his way
to the Beggars, they declared they would follow, and live or die with
him. It was with difficulty that he succeeded in restraining them.
Before the town-hall he slackened his pace. The burgomaster was always
to be found there at this hour. Should he quit the city without taking
leave of him? No, no! And yet--since yesterday he had forfeited the
right to look frankly into his eyes. He was afraid to meet him, it
seemed as if he were completely estranged from him. So Georg rushed
past the town-hall, and said defiantly: “Even if I leave him without a
farewell, I owe him nothing; for I must pay for his kindness with cruel
suffering, perhaps death. Maria loved me first, and what she is, and
was, and ever will be to me, she shall know before I go.”

He returned to his room at twilight, asked the manservant to carry his
knapsack to Captain Van Duivenvoorde at the Hohenort Gate, and then
went, with his little book in his doublet, to the main building to take
leave of Maria. He ascended the staircase slowly and paused in the upper
entry.

The beating of his heart almost stopped his breath. He did not know at
which door to knock, and a torturing dread overpowered him, so that
he stood for several minutes as if paralyzed. Then he summoned up his
courage, shook himself, and muttered: “Have I become a coward!” With
these words he opened the door leading into the dining-room and entered.
Adrian was sitting at the empty table, beside a burning torch, with some
books. Georg asked for his mother.

“She is probably spinning in her room,” replied the boy.

“Call her, I have something important to tell her.” Adrian went away,
returning with the answer that the Junker might wait in his father’s
study.

“Where is Barbara?” asked Georg.

“With Bessie.”

The German nodded, and while pacing up and down beside the dining-room,
thought, “I can’t go so. It must come from the heart; once, once more
I will hear her say, that she loves me, I will--I will--Let it be
dishonorable, let it be worthy of execration, I will atone for it; I
will atone for it with my life!”

While Georg was pacing up and down the room, Adrian gathered his books
together, saying: “B-r-r-r, Junker, how you look to-day! One might be
afraid of you. Mother is in there already. The tinder-box is rattling;
she is probably lighting the lamp.”

“Are you busy?” asked Georg. “I’ve finished.”

“Then run over to Wilhelm Corneliussohn and tell him it is settled:
we’ll meet at nine, punctually at nine.”

“At Aquarius’s tavern?” asked the boy.

“No, no, he knows; make haste, my lad.”

Adrian was going, but Georg beckoned to him, and said in a low tone:
“Can you be silent?”

“As a fried sole.”

“I shall slip out of the city to-day, and perhaps may never return.”

“You, Junker? To-day?” asked the boy.

“Yes, dear lad. Come here, give me a farewell kiss. You must keep this
little ring to remember me.” The boy submitted to the kiss, put the ring
on his finger, and said with tearful eyes: “Are you in earnest? Yes,
the famine! God knows I’d run after you, if it were not for Bessie and
mother. When will you come back again?”

“Who knows, my lad! Remember me kindly, do you hear? Kindly! And now
run.”

Adrian rushed down the stairs, and a few minutes after the Junker was
standing in Peter’s study, face to face with Maria. The shutters were
closed, and the sconce on the table had two lighted candles.

“Thanks, a thousand thanks for coming,” said Georg. “You pronounced my
sentence yesterday, and to-day--”

“I know what brings you to me,” she answered gently. “Henrica has bidden
me farewell, and I must not keep her. She doesn’t wish to have you
accompany her, but Meister Wilhelm betrayed the secret to me. You have
come to say farewell.”

“Yes, Maria, farewell forever.”

“If it is God’s will, we shall see each other again. I know what is
driving you away from here. You are good and noble, Georg, and if there
is one thing that lightens the parting, it is this: We can now think of
each other without sorrow and anger. You will not forget us, and--you
know that the remembrance of you will be cherished here by old and
young--in the hearts of all--”

“And in yours also, Maria?”

“In mine also.”

“Hold it firmly. And when the storm has blown out of your path the poor
dust, which to-day lives and breathes, loves and despairs, grant it a
place in your memory.”

Maria shuddered, for deep despair looked forth with a sullen glow
from the eyes that met hers. Seized with an anxious foreboding, she
exclaimed: “What are you thinking of, Georg? for Christ’s sake! tell me
what is in your mind.”

“Nothing wrong, Maria, nothing wrong. We birds now sing differently.
Whoever can saunter, with lukewarm blood and lukewarm pleasures, from
one decade to another in peace and honor, is fortunate. My blood flows
in a swifter course, and what my eager soul has once clasped with its
polyp arms, it will never release until the death-hour comes. I am
going, never to return; but I shall take you and my love with me to
battle, to the grave.--I go, I go--”

“Not so, Georg, you must not part from me thus.” Then cry: ‘Stay!’ Then
say: ‘I am here and pity you!’ But don’t expect the miserable wretch,
whom you have blinded, to open his eyes, behold and enjoy the beauties
of the world. “Here you stand, trembling and shaking, without a word for
him who loves you, for him--him--”

The youth’s voice faltered with emotion and sighing heavily, he pressed
his hand to his brow. Then he seemed to recollect himself and continued
in a low, sad tone: “Here I stand, to tell you for the last time the
state of my heart. You should hear sweet words, but grief and pain will
pour bitter drops into everything I say. I have uttered in the language
of poetry, when my heart impelled me, that for which dry prose possesses
no power of expression. Read these pages, Maria, and if they wake an
echo in your soul, oh! treasure it. The honeysuckle in your garden needs
a support, that it may grow and put forth flowers; let these poor songs
be the espalier around which your memory of the absent one can twine
its tendrils and cling lovingly. Read, oh! read, and then say once more:
‘You are dear to me,’ or send me from you.”

“Give it to me,” said Maria, opening the volume with a throbbing heart.

He stepped back from her, but his breath came quickly and his eyes
followed hers while she was reading. She began with the last poem but
one. It had been written just after Georg’s return the day before, and
ran as follows:

          “Joyously they march along,
          Lights are flashing through the panes,
          In the streets a busy throng
          Curiosity enchains.
          Oh! the merry festal night;
          Would that it might last for aye!
          For aye! Alas! Love, splendor, light,
          All, all have passed away.”

The last lines Georg had written with a rapid pen the night before. In
them he bewailed his hard fate. She must hear him once, then he would
sing her a peerless song. Maria had followed the first verses silently
with her eyes, but now her lips began to move and in a low, rapid tone,
but audibly she read:

       “Sometimes it echoes like the thunder’s peal,
        Then soft and low through the May night doth steal;
        Sometimes, on joyous wing, to Heaven it soars,
        Sometimes, like Philomel, its woes deplores.
        For, oh! this a song that ne’er can die,
        It seeks the heart of all humanity.
        In the deep cavern and the darksome lair,
        The sea of ether o’er the realm of air,
        In every nook my song shall still be heard,
        And all creation, with sad yearning stirred,
        United in a full, exultant choir,
        Pray thee to grant the singer’s fond desire.
        E’en when the ivy o’er my grave hath grown,
        Still will ring on each sweet, enchanting tone,
        Through the whole world and every earthly zone,
        Resounding on in aeons yet to come.”

Maria read on, her heart beating more and more violently, her breath
coming quicker and quicker, and when she had reached the last verse,
tears burst from her eyes, and she raised the book with both hands to
hurl it from her and throw her arms around the writer’s neck.

He had been standing opposite to her, as if spellbound, listening
blissfully to the lofty flight of his own words. Trembling with
passionate emotion, he yet restrained himself until she had raised her
eyes from his lines and lifted the book, then his power of resistance
flew to the winds and, fairly beside himself, he exclaimed: “Maria, my
sweet wife!”

“Wife?” echoed in her breast like a cry of warning, and it seemed as if
an icy hand clutched her heart. The intoxication passed away, and as she
saw him standing before her with out-stretched arms and sparkling
eyes, she shrank back, a feeling of intense loathing of him and her own
weakness seized upon her and, instead of throwing the book aside and
rushing to meet him, she tore it in halves, saying proudly: “Here are
your verses, Junker von Dornburg; take them with you.” Then, maintaining
her dignity by a strong effort, she continued in a lower, more gentle
tone, “I shall remember you without this book. We have both dreamed; let
us now wake. Farewell! I will pray that God may guard you. Give me your
hand, Georg, and when you return, we will bid you welcome to our house
as a friend.”

With these words Maria turned away from the Junker and only nodded
silently, when he exclaimed: “Past! All past!”



CHAPTER XXXI.

Georg descended the stairs in a state of bewilderment. Both halves of
the book, in which ever since the wedding at Delft he had written a
succession of verses to Maria, lay in his hand.

The light of the kitchen-fire streamed into the entry. He followed it,
and before answering Barbara’s kind greeting, went to the hearth
and flung into the fire the sheets, which contained the pure, sweet
fragrance of a beautiful flower of youth.

“Oho! Junker!” cried the widow. “A quick fire doesn’t suit every kind of
food. What is burning there?”

“Foolish paper!” he answered. “Have no fear. At the utmost it might weep
and put out the flames. It will be ashes directly. There go the sparks,
flying in regular rows through the black, charred pages. How pretty it
looks! They appear, leap forth and vanish--like a funeral
procession with torches in a pitch-dark night. Good-night, poor
children--good-night, dear songs! Look, Frau Barbara! They are rolling
themselves up tightly, convulsively, as if it hurt them to burn.”

“What sort of talk is that?” replied Barbara, thrusting the charred book
deeper into the fire with the tongs. Then pointing to her own forehead,
she continued: “One often feels anxious about you. High-sounding words,
such as we find in the Psalms, are not meant for every-day life and our
kitchen. If you were my own son, you’d often have something to listen
to. People who travel at a steady pace reach their goal soonest.”

“That’s good advice for a journey,” replied Georg, holding out his hand
to the widow. “Farewell, dear mother. I can’t bear it here any longer.
In half an hour I shall turn my back on this good city.”

“Go then--just as you choose--Or is the young lady taking you in tow?
Nobleman’s son and nobleman’s daughter! Like to like--Yet, no; there
has been nothing between you. Her heart is good, but I should wish you
another wife than that Popish Everyday-different.”

“So Henrica has told you--”

“She has just gone. Dear me-she has her relatives outside; and we--it’s
hard to divide a plum into twelve pieces. I said farewell to her
cheerfully; but you, Georg, you--”

“I shall take her out of the city, and then--you won’t blame me for
it--then I shall make my way through to the Beggars.”

“The Beggars! That’s a different matter, that’s right. You’ll be in your
proper place there! Cheer up, Junker, and go forth boldly? Give me your
hand, and if you meet my boy--he commands a ship of his own.--Dear me, I
remember something. You can wait a moment longer. Come here, Trautchen.
The woollen stockings I knit for him are up in the painted chest. Make
haste and fetch them. He may need them on the water in the damp autumn
weather. You’ll take them with you?”

“Willingly, most willingly; and now let me thank you for all your
kindness. You have been like an own mother to me.” Georg clasped the
widow’s hand, and neither attempted to conceal how dear each had become
to the other and how hard it was to part. Trautchen had given Barbara
the stockings, and many tears fell upon them, while the widow was
bidding the Junker farewell. When she noticed they were actually wet,
she waved them in the air and handed them to the young man.

The night was dark but still, even sultry. The travellers were received
at the Hohenort Gate by Captain Van Duivenvoorde, preceded by an old
sergeant, carrying a lantern, who opened the gate. The captain
embraced his brave, beloved comrade, Dornburg; a few farewell words
and god-speeds echoed softly from the fortification walls, and the trio
stepped forth into the open country.

For a time they walked silently through the darkness. Wilhelm knew the
way and strode in front of Henrica; the Junker kept close at her side.

All was still, except from time to time they heard a word of command
from the walls, the striking of a clock, or the barking of a dog.

Henrica had recognized Georg by the light of the lantern, and when
Wilhelm stopped to ascertain whether there was any water in the ditch
over which he intended to guide his companions, she said, under her
breath:

“I did not expect your escort, Junker.”

“I know it, but I, too, desired to leave the city.”

“And wish to avail yourself of our knowledge of the watchword. Then stay
with us.”

“Until I know you are safe, Fraulein.”

“The walls of Leyden already lie between you and the peril from which
you fly.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“So much the better.”

Wilhelm turned and, in a muffled voice, requested his companions to keep
silence. They now walked noiselessly on, until just outside the camp
they reached the broad road around which they had made a circuit. A
Spanish sentinel challenged them.

“Lepanto!” was the answer, and they passed on through the camp
unmolested. A coach drawn by four horses, a mere box hung between two
tiny fore-wheels and a pair of gigantic hind-wheels, drove slowly past
them. It was conveying Magdalena Moons, the daughter of an aristocratic
Holland family, distinguished among the magistracy, back to the Hague
from a visit to her lover and future husband, Valdez. No one noticed
Henrica, for there were plenty of women in the camp. Several poorly-clad
ones sat before the tents, mending the soldiers’ clothes. Some
gaily-bedizened wenches were drinking wine and throwing dice with their
male companions in front of an officer’s tent. A brighter light glowed
from behind the general’s quarters, where, under a sort of shed, several
confessionals and an altar had been erected. Upon this altar candles
were burning, and over it hung a silver lamp; a dark, motionless stream
pressed towards it; Castilian soldiers, among whom individuals could be
recognized only when the candle-light flashed upon a helmet or coat of
mail.

The loud singing of carousing German mercenaries, the neighing and
stamping of the horses, and the laughter of the officers and girls,
drowned the low chanting of the priests and the murmur of the penitents,
but the shrill sounding of the bell calling to mass from time to time
pierced, with its swift vibrations, through the noise of the camp. Just
outside the village the watch-word was again used, and they reached the
first house unmolested.

“Here we are,” said Wilhelm, with a sigh of relief. “Profit by the
darkness, Junker, and keep on till you have the Spaniards behind you.”

“No, my friend; you will remain here. I wish to share your danger. I
shall return with you to Leyden and from thence try to reach Delft;
meantime I’ll keep watch and give you warning, if necessary.”

“Let us bid each other farewell now, Georg; hours may pass before I
return.”

“I have time, a horrible amount of time. I’ll wait. There goes the
door.”

The Junker grasped his sword, but soon removed his hand from the hilt,
for it was Belotti, who came out and greeted the signorina.

Henrica followed him into the house and there talked with him in a low
tone, until Georg called her, saying:

“Fraulein Van Hoogstraten, may I ask for a word of farewell?”

“Farewell, Herr von Dornburg!” she answered distantly, but advanced a
step towards him.

Georg had also approached, and now held out his hand. She hesitated a
moment, then placed hers in it, and said so softly, that only he could
hear:

“Do you love Maria?”

“So I am to confess?”

“Don’t refuse my last request, as you did the first. If you can be
generous, answer me fearlessly. I’ll not betray your secret to any one.
Do you love Frau Van der Werff?”

“Yes, Fraulein.”

Henrica drew a long breath, then continued: “And now you are rushing out
into the world to forget her?”

“No, Fraulein.”

“Then tell me why you have fled from Leyden?”

“To find an end that becomes a soldier.”

Henrica advanced close to his side, exclaiming so scornfully, that it
cut Georg to the heart:

“So it has grasped you too! It seizes all: Knights, maidens, wives and
widows; not one is spared. Never ending sorrow! Farewell, Georg! We can
laugh at or pity each other, just as we choose. A heart pierced with
seven swords: what an exquisite picture! Let us wear blood-red knots of
ribbon, instead of green and blue ones. Give me your hand once more, now
farewell.”

Henrica beckoned to the musician and both followed Belotti up the steep,
narrow stairs. Wilhelm remained behind in a little room, adjoining a
second one, where a beautiful boy, about three years old, was being
tended by an Italian woman. In a third chamber, which like all the other
rooms in the farm-house, was so low that a tall man could scarcely stand
erect, Henrica’s sister lay on a wide bedstead, over which a screen,
supported by four columns, spread like a canopy. Links dimly lighted
the long narrow room. The reddish-yellow rays of their broad flames were
darkened by the canopy, and scarcely revealed the invalid’s face.

Henrica had given the Italian woman and the child in the second room but
a hasty greeting, and now impetuously pressed forward into the third,
rushed to the bed, threw herself on her knees, clasped her arms
passionately around her sister, and covered her face with owing kisses.

She said nothing but “Anna,” and the sick woman and no other word than
“Henrica.” Minutes elapsed, then the young girl started up, seized one
of the torches and cast its light on her regained sister’s face. How
pale, how emaciated it looked! But it was still beautiful, still
the same as before. Strangely-blended emotions of joy and grief took
possession of Henrica’s soul. Her cold hard feelings grew warm and
melted, and in this hour the comfort of tears, of which she had been so
long deprived, once more became hers.

Gradually the flood tide of emotion began to ebb, and the confusion of
loving exclamations and incoherent words gained some order and separated
into question and answer. When Anna learned that the musician had
accompanied her sister, she wished to see him, and when he entered, held
out both hands, exclaiming:

“Meister, Meister, in what a condition you find me again! Henrica, this
is the best of men; the only unselfish friend I have found on earth.”

The succeeding hours were full of sorrowful agitation.

Belotti and the old Italian woman often undertook to speak for the
invalid, and gradually the image of a basely-destroyed life, that had
been worthy of a better fate, appeared before Henrica and Wilhelm. Fear,
anxiety and torturing doubt had from the first saddened Anna’s existence
with the unprincipled adventurer and gambler, who had succeeded in
beguiling her young, experienced heart. A short period of intoxication
was followed by an unexampled awakening. She was clasping her first
child to her breast, when the unprecedented outrage occurred--Don Luis
demanded that she should move with him into the house of a notorious
Marchesa, in whose ill-famed gambling-rooms he had spent his evenings
and nights for months. She indignantly refused, but he coldly and
threateningly persisted in having his will. Then the Hoogstraten blood
asserted itself, and without a word of farewell she fled with her
child to Lugano. There the boy was received by his mother’s former
waiting-maid, while she herself went to Rome, not as an adventuress, but
with a fixed, praiseworthy object in view. She intended to fully perfect
her musical talents in the new schools of Palestrina and Nanini, and
thus obtain the ability, by means of her art, to support her child
independently of his father and hers. She risked much, but very definite
hopes hovered before her eyes, for a distinguished prelate and lover of
music, to whom she had letters of introduction from Brussels, and who
knew her voice, had promised that after her return from her musical
studies he would give her the place of singing-mistress to a young girl
of noble birth, who had been educated in a convent at Milan. She was
under his guardianship, and the worthy man took care to provide Anna,
before her departure, with letters to his friends in the eternal city.

Her hasty flight from Rome had been caused by the news, that Don Luis
had found and abducted his son. She could not lose her child, and when
she did not find the boy in Milan, followed and at last discovered him
in Naples. There d’Avila restored the child, after she had declared her
willingness to make over to him the income she still received from her
aunt. The long journey, so full of excitement and fatigue, exhausted her
strength, and she returned to Milan feeble and broken in health.

Her patron had been anxious to keep the place of singing-mistress open
for her, but she could only fulfil for a short time the duties to which
the superior of the convent kindly summoned her, for her sickness was
increasing and a terrible cough spoiled her voice. She now returned to
Lugano, and there sought to compensate her poor honest friend by the
sale of her ornaments, but the time soon came when the generous artist
was forced to submit to be supported by the charity of a servant. Until
the last six months she had not suffered actual want, but when her
maid’s husband died, anxiety about the means of procuring daily bread
arose, and now maternal love broke down Anna’s pride: she wrote to her
father as a repentant daughter, bowed down by misfortune, but received
no reply. At last, reduced to starvation with her child, she undertook
the hardest possible task, and besought the man, of whom she could only
think with contempt and loathing, not to let his son grow up like a
beggar’s child. The letter, which contained this cry of distress, had
reached Don Luis just before his death. No help was to come to her from
him. But Belotti appeared, and now she was once more at home, her friend
and sister were standing beside her bed, and Henrica encouraged her to
hope for her father’s forgiveness.

It was past midnight, yet Georg still awaited his friend’s return. The
noise and bustle of the camp began to die away and the lantern, which at
first had but feebly lighted the spacious lower-room of the farmhouse,
burned still more dimly. The German shared this apartment with
agricultural implements, harnesses, and many kinds of grain and
vegetables heaped in piles against the walls, but he lacked inclination
to cast even a glance at his motley surroundings. There was nothing
pleasant to him in the present or future. He felt humiliated, guilty,
weary of life. His self-respect was trampled under foot, love and
happiness were forfeited, there was naught before him save a colorless,
charmless future, full of bitterness and mental anguish. Nothing seemed
desirable save a speedy death. At times the fair image of his home
rose before his memory--but it vanished as soon as he recalled the
burgomaster’s dignified figure, his own miserable weakness and the
repulse he had experienced. He was full of fierce indignation against
himself, and longed with passionate impatience for the clash of swords
and roar of cannon, the savage struggle man to man.

Time passed without his perceiving it, but a torturing desire for food
began to torment the starving man. There were plenty of turnips piled
against the wall, and he eat one after another, until he experienced
the feeling of satiety he had so long lacked. Then he sat down on a
kneading-trough and considered how he could best get to the Beggars. He
did not know his way, but woe betide those who ventured to oppose him.
His arm and sword were good, and there were Spaniards enough at hand
whom he could make feel the weight of both. His impatience began to
rise, and it seemed like a welcome diversion, when he heard steps
approaching and a man’s figure entered the house. He had stationed
himself by the wall with his sword between his folded arms, and now
shouted a loud “halt” to the new-comer.

The latter instantly drew his sword, and when Georg imperiously demanded
what he wanted, replied in a boyish voice, but a proud, resolute tone:

“I ask you that question! I am in my father’s house.”

“Indeed!” replied the German smiling, for he had now recognized the
speaker’s figure by the dim light. “Put up your sword. If you are young
Matanesse Van Wibisma, you have nothing to fear from me.”

“I am. But what are you doing on our premises at night, sword in hand?”

“I’m warming the wall to my own satisfaction, or, if you want to know
the truth, mounting guard.”

“In our house?”

“Yes, Junker. There is some one up-stairs with your cousins, who
wouldn’t like to be surprised by the Spaniards. Go up. I know from
Captain Van Duivenvoorde what a gallant young fellow you are.”

“From Herr von Warmond?” asked Nicolas eagerly. “Tell me! what brings
you here, and who are you?”

“One who is fighting for your liberty, a German, Georg von Dornburg.”

“Oh, wait here, I entreat you. I’ll come back directly. Do you know
whether Fraulein Van Hoogstraten--”

“Up there,” replied Georg, pointing towards the ceiling.

Nicolas sprang up the stairs in two or three bounds, called his cousin,
and hastily told her that her father had had a severe fall from his
horse while hunting, and was lying dangerously ill. When Nicolas spoke
of Anna he had at first burst into a furious passion, but afterwards
voluntarily requested him to tell him about her, and attempted to
leave his bed to accompany him. He succeeded in doing so, but fell back
fainting. When his father came early the next morning, she might tell
him that he, Nicolas, begged his forgiveness; he was about to do what he
believed to be his duty.

He evaded Henrica’s questions, and merely hastily enquired about Anna’s
health and the Leyden citizen, whom Georg had mentioned.

When he heard the name of the musician Wilhelm, he begged her to warn
him to depart in good time, and if possible in his company, then bade
her a hurried farewell and ran down-stairs.

Wilhelm soon followed. Henrica accompanied him to the stairs to see
Georg once more, but as soon as she heard his voice, turned defiantly
away and went back to her sister.

The musician found Junker von Dornburg engaged in an eager conversation
with Nicolas.

“No, no, my boy,” said the German cordially, “my way cannot be yours.”

“I am seventeen years old.”

“That’s not it; you’ve just confronted me bravely, and you have a man’s
strength of will--but life ought still to bear flowers for you, if
such is God’s will--you are going forth to fight sword-in-hand to win
a worthy destiny of peace and prosperity, for yourself and your native
land, in freedom--but I, I--give me your hand and promise--”

“My hand? There it is; but I must refuse the promise. With or without
you--I shall go to the Beggars!”

Georg gazed at the brave boy in delight, and asked gently:

“Is your mother living?”

“No.”

“Then come. We shall probably both find what we seek with the Beggars.”

Nicolas clasped the hand Georg offered, but Wilhelm approached the
Junker, saying:

“I expected this from you, after what I saw at St. Peter’s church and
Quatgelat’s tavern.”

“You first opened my eyes,” replied Nicolas. “Now come, we’ll go
directly through the camp; they all know me.”

In the road the boy pressed close to Georg, and in answer to his remark
that he would be in a hard position towards his father, replied:

“I know it, and it causes me such pain--such pain.--But I can’t help it.
I won’t suffer the word ‘traitor’ to cling to our name.”

“Your cousin Matanesse, Herr von Riviere, is also devoted to the good
cause.”

“But my father thinks differently. He has the courage to expect good
deeds from the Spaniards. From the Spaniards! I’ve learned to know
them during the last few months. A brave lad from Leyden, you knew him
probably by his nickname, Lowing, which he really deserved, was captured
by them in fair fight, and then--it makes me shudder even now when I
think of it--they hung him up head downward, and tortured him to death.
I was present, and not one word of theirs escaped my ears. Such ought
to be the fate of all Holland, country and people, that was what they
wanted. And remarks like these can be heard every day. No abuse of us
is too bad for them, and the King thinks like his soldiers. Let some one
else endure to be the slave of a master, who tortures and despises us!
My holy religion is eternal and indestructible. Even if it is hateful to
many of the Beggars, that shall not trouble me--if only they will help
break the Spanish chains.” Amid such conversation they walked through
the Castilian camp, where all lay buried in sleep. Then they reached
that of the German troops, and here gay carousing was going on under
many a tent. At the end of the encampment a sutler and his wife were
collecting together the wares that remained unsold.

Wilhelm had walked silently behind the other two, for his heart was
deeply stirred, joy and sorrow were striving for the mastery. He felt
intoxicated with lofty, pure emotions, but suddenly checked his
steps before the sutler’s stand and pointed to the pastry gradually
disappearing in a chest.

Hunger had become a serious, nay only too serious and mighty power,
in the city beyond, and it was not at all surprising that Wilhelm
approached the venders, and with sparkling eyes bought their last ham
and as much bread as they had left.

Nicolas laughed at the bundle he carried under his arm, but Georg said:

“You haven’t yet looked want in the face, Junker. This bread is a remedy
for the most terrible disease.” At the Hohenort Gate Georg ordered
Captain von Warmond to be waked, and introduced Nicolas to him as a
future Beggar. The captain congratulated the boy and offered him money
to supply himself in Delft with whatever he needed, and defray his
expenses during the first few weeks; but Nicolas rejected his wealthy
friend’s offer, for a purse filled with gold coins hung at his girdle.
A jeweller in the Hague had given them to him yesterday in payment for
Fraulein Van Hoogstraten’s emerald ring.

Nicolas showed the captain his treasure, and then exclaimed:

“Now forward, Junker von Dornburg, I know where we shall find them; and
you, Captain Van Duivenvoorde, tell the burgomaster and Janus Dousa what
has become of me.”



CHAPTER XXXII.

A week had elapsed since Henrica’s flight, and with it a series of days
of severe privation. Maria knew from the musician, that young Matanesse
had accompanied Georg, and that the latter was on his way to the
Beggars. This was the right plan. The bubbling brook belonged to
the wild, rushing, mighty river. She wished him happiness, life and
pleasure; but--strange--since the hour that she tore his verses, the
remembrance of him had receded as far as in the day: before the approach
of the Spaniards. Nay, after her hard-won conquest of herself and his
departure, a rare sense of happiness, amid all her cares and troubles,
had taken possession of the young wife’s heart. She had been cruel to
herself, and the inner light of the clear diamond first gleams
forth with the right brilliancy, after it has endured the torture of
polishing. She now felt with joyous gratitude, that she could look Peter
frankly in the eye, grant him love, and ask love in return. He scarcely
seemed to notice her and her management under the burden of his cares,
but she felt, that many things she said and could do for him pleased
him. The young wife did not suffer specially from the long famine, while
it caused Barbara pain and unstrung her vigorous frame. Amid so much
suffering, she often sunk into despair before the cold hearth and empty
pots, and no longer thought it worth while to plait her large cap and
ruffs. It was now Maria’s turn to speak words of comfort, and remind her
of her son, the Beggar captain, who would soon enter Leyden.

On the sixth of September the burgomaster’s wife was returning home from
an early walk. Autumn mists darkened the air, and the sea-breeze drove
a fine, drizzling spray through the streets. The dripping trees had
long since been robbed of their leaves, not by wind and storm, but by
children and adults, who had carried the caterpillars’ food to their
kitchens as precious vegetables.

At the Schagensteg Maria saw Adrian, and overtook him. The boy was
sauntering idly along, counting aloud. The burgomaster’s wife called to
him, and asked why he was not at school and what he was doing there.

“I’m counting,” was the reply. “Now there are nine.”

“Nine?”

“I’ve met nine dead bodies so far; the rector sent us home. Master
Dirks is dead, and there were only thirteen of us to-day. There are some
people bringing another one.”

Maria drew her kerchief tighter and walked on. At her left hand stood a
tall, narrow house, in which lived a cobbler, a jovial man, over whose
door were two inscriptions. One ran as follows:

       “Here are shoes for sale,
        Round above and flat below;
        If David’s foot they will not fit,
        Goliath’s sure they’ll suit, I know.”

The other was:

       “When through the desert roved the Jews,
        Their shoes for forty years they wore,
        Were the same custom now in use,
        ‘Prentice would ne’er seek cobbler’s door.”

On the ridge of the lofty house was the stork’s nest, now empty. The
red-billed guests did not usually set out on their journey to the south
so early, and some were still in Leyden, standing on the roofs as
if lost in thought. What could have become of the cobbler’s beloved
lodgers? At noon the day before, their host, who in March usually
fastened the luck-bringing nest firmly with his own hands, had stolen up
to the roof, and with his cross-bow shot first the little wife and then
the husband. It was a hard task, and his wife sat weeping in the kitchen
while the evil deed was done, but whoever is tormented by the fierce
pangs of hunger and sees his dear ones dying of want, doesn’t think
of old affection and future good fortune, but seeks deliverance at the
present time.

The storks had been sacrificed too late, for the cobbler’s son, his
growing apprentice, had closed his eyes the night before for his eternal
sleep. Loud lamentations reached Maria’s ear from the open door of the
shop, and Adrian said: “Jacob is dead, and Mabel is very sick. This
morning their father cursed me on father’s account, saying it was his
fault that everything was going to destruction. Will there be no bread
again to-day, mother? Barbara has some biscuit, and I feel so sick. I
can’t swallow the everlasting meal any longer.”

“Perhaps there will be a slice. We must save the baked food, child.”

In the entry of her house Maria found a man-servant, clad in black. He
had come to announce the death of Commissioner Dietrich Van Bronkhorst.
The plague had ended the strong man’s life on the evening of the day
before, Sunday.

Maria already knew of this heavy loss, which threw the whole
responsibility of everything, that now happened, upon her husband’s
shoulders. She had also learned that a letter had been received from
Valdez, in which he had pledged his word of honor as a nobleman, to
spare the city, if it would surrender itself to the king’s “mercy,” and
especially to grant Burgomaster Van der Werff, Herr Van der Does, and
the other supporters of the rebellion, free passage through the Spanish
lines. The Castilians would retire and Leyden should be garrisoned only
by a few German troops. He invited Van der Werff and Herr von Nordwyk
to come to Leyderdorp as ambassadors, and in any case, even if the
negotiations failed, agreed to send them home uninjured under a safe
escort. Maria knew that her husband had appointed that day for a great
assembly of the council, the magistrates, and all the principal men in
the city, as well as the captains of the city-guard--but not a word of
all this had reached her ears from Peter. She had heard the news from
Frail Van Hout and the wives of other citizens.

During the last few days a great change had taken place in her husband.
He went out and returned with a pallid, gloomy face. Taciturn and
wasting away with anxiety, he withdrew from the members of his family
even when at home, repelling his wife curtly and impatiently when,
yielding to the impulse of her heart, she approached him with
encouraging words. Night brought him no sleep, and he left his couch
before morning dawned, to pace restlessly to and fro, or gaze at Bessie,
who to him alone still tried to show recognition by a faint smile.

When Maria returned home, she instantly went to the child and found
Doctor Bontius with her. The physician shook his head at her appearance,
and said the delicate little creature’s life would soon be over. Her
stomach had been injured during the first months of want; now it refused
to do its office, and to hope for recovery would be folly.

“She must live, she must not die!” cried Maria, frantic with grief and
yet full of hope, like a true mother, who cannot grasp the thought
that she is condemned to lose her child, even when the little heart is
already ceasing to beat and the bright eyes are growing dim and closing.
“Bessie, Bessie, look at me! Bessie, take this nice milk. Only a few
drops! Bessie, Bessie, you must not die.”

Peter had entered the room unobserved and heard the last words. Holding
his breath, he gazed down at his darling, his broad shoulders shook, and
in a stifled, faltering voice he asked the physician: “Must she die?”

“Yes, old friend; I think so! Hold up your head! You have much still
left you. All five of Van Loo’s children have died of the plague.”

Peter shuddered, and without taking any notice of Maria, passed from the
room with drooping head. Bontius followed him into his study, laid his
hand on his arm, and said:

“Our little remnant of life is made bitter to us, Peter. Barbara says a
corpse was laid before your door early this morning.”

“Yes. When I went out, the livid face offered me a morning greeting.
It was a young person. All whom death mows down, the people lay to my
charge. Wherever one looks--corpses! Whatever one hears--curses! Have I
authority over so many lives? Day and night nothing but sorrow and death
before my eyes;--and yet, yet, yet--oh God! save me from madness!”

Peter clasped both hands over his brow; but Bontius found no word of
comfort, and merely exclaimed: “And I, and I? My wife and child ill with
a fever, day and night on my feet, not to cure, but to see people die.
What has been learned by hard study becomes childish folly in these
days, and yet the poor creatures utter a sigh of hope when I feel their
pulses. But this can’t go on, this can’t go on. Day before yesterday
seventy, yesterday eighty-six deaths, and among them two of my
colleagues.”

“And no prospect of improvement?”

“To-morrow the ninety will become a hundred--the one hundred will become
two, three, four, five, until at last one individual will be left, for
whom there will be no grave-digger.”

“The pest-houses are closed, and we still have cattle and horses.”

“But the pestilence creeps through the joints, and since the last loaf
of bread and the last malt-cake have been divided, and there is nothing
for the people to eat except meat, meat, and nothing else--one tiny
piece for the whole day--disease is piled on disease in forms utterly
unprecedented, of which no book speaks, for which no remedy has yet been
discovered. This drawing water with a bottomless pitcher is beginning to
be too much for me. My brain is no stronger than yours. Farewell until
to-morrow.”

“To-day, to-day! You are coming to the meeting at the town-hall?”

“Certainly not! Do what you can justify; I shall practise my profession,
which now means the same thing as saying: ‘I shall continue to close
eyes and hold coroner’s inquests.’ If things go on so, there will soon
be an end to practice.”

“Once for all: if you were in my place, you would treat with Valdez?”

“In your place? I am not you; I am a physician, one who has nothing
to do except to take the field against suffering and death. You, since
Bronkhorst’s death, are the providence of the city. Supply a bit of
bread, if only as large as my hand, in addition to the meat, or--I love
my native land and liberty as well as any one--or--”

“Or?”

“Or--leave Death to reap his harvest, you are no physician.”

Bontius bade his friend farewell and left him, but Peter thrust his
hand through his hair and stood gazing out of the window, until Barbara
entered, laid his official costume on a chair and asked with feigned
carelessness:

“May I give Adrian some of the last biscuit? Meat is repulsive to him.
He’s lying on the bed, writhing in pain.”

Peter turned pale, and said in a hollow tone: “Give it to him and call
the doctor. Maria and Bontius are already with him.” The burgomaster
changed his clothing, feeling a thrill of fierce indignation against
every article he put on. To-day the superb costume was as hateful to him
as the office, which gave him the right to wear it, and which, until
a few weeks ago, he had occupied with a joyous sense of confidence in
himself.

Before leaving the house, he sought Adrian. The boy was lying in
Barbara’s room, complaining of violent pains, and asking if he must die
too.

Peter shook his head, but Maria kissed him, exclaiming:

“No, certainly not.”

The burgomaster’s time was limited. His wife stopped him in the entry,
but he hurried down-stairs without hearing what she called after him.

The young wife returned to Adrian’s bedside, thinking anxiously of the
speedy death of many comrades of the dear boy, whose damp hand rested
in hers. She thought of Bessie, followed Peter in imagination to the
town-hall, and heard his powerful voice contending for resistance to the
last man and the last pound of meat; nay, she could place herself by
his side, for she knew what was to come: To stand fast, stand fast for
liberty, and if God so willed, die a martyr’s death for it like Jacoba,
Leonhard, and Peter’s noble father.

One anxious hour followed another.

When Adrian began to feel better, she went to Bessie, who pale and
inanimate, seemed to be gently fading away, and only now and then raised
her little finger to play with her dry lips.

Oh, the pretty, withering human flower! How closely the little girl
had grown into her heart, how impossible it seemed to give her up!
With tearful eyes, she pressed her forehead on her clasped hands, which
rested on the head-board of the little bed, and fervently implored God
to spare and save this child. Again and again she repeated the prayer,
but when Bessie’s dim eyes no longer met hers and her hands fell into
her lap, she could not help thinking of Peter, the assembly, the fate of
the city, and the words: “Leyden saved, Holland saved! Leyden lost, all
is lost!”

So the hours passed until the gloomy day were away into twilight, and
twilight was followed by evening. Trautchen brought in the lamp, and at
last Peter’s step was heard on the stairs.

It must be he, and yet it was not, for he never came up with such slow
and dragging feet.

Then the study door opened.

It was he!

What could have happened, what had the citizens determined?

With an anxious heart, she told Trautchen to stay with the child, and
then went to her husband.

Peter sat at the writing-table in full official uniform, with his hat
still on his head. His face lay buried on his folded arms, beside the
sconce.

He saw nothing, heard nothing, and when she at last called him, started,
sprang up and flung his hat violently on the table. His hair was
dishevelled, his glance restless, and in the faint light of the
glimmering candles his cheeks looked deadly pale.

“What do you want?” he asked curtly, in a harsh voice; but for a time
Maria made no reply, fear paralyzed her tongue.

At last she found words, and deep anxiety was apparent in her question:

“What has happened?”

“The beginning of the end,” he answered in a hollow tone.

“They have out-voted you?” cried the young wife. “Baersdorp and the
other cowards want to negotiate?”

Peter drew himself up to his full height, and exclaimed in a loud,
threatening tone:

“Guard your tongue! He who remains steadfast until his children die
and corpses bar the way in front of his own house, he who bears the
responsibility of a thousand deaths, endures curses and imprecations
through long weeks, and has vainly hoped for deliverance during more
than a third of a year--he who, wherever he looks, sees nothing save
unprecedented, constantly increasing misery and then no longer repels
the saving hand of the foe--”

“Is a coward, a traitor, who breaks the sacred oath he has sworn.”

“Maria,” cried Peter angrily, approaching with a threatening gesture.

She drew her slender figure up to its full height and with quickened
breath awaited him, pointing her finger at him, as she exclaimed with a
sharp tone perceptible through the slight tremor in her voice:

“You, you have voted with the Baersdorps, you, Peter Van der Werff!
You have done this thing, you, the friend of the Prince, the shield and
providence of this brave city, you, the man who received the oaths of
the citizens, the martyr’s son, the servant of liberty--”

“No more!” he interrupted, trembling with shame and rage. “Do you know
what it is to bear the guilt of this most terrible suffering before God
and men?”

“Yes, yes, thrice yes; it is laying one’s heart on the rack, to save
Holland and liberty. That is what it means! Oh, God, my God! You are
lost! You intend to negotiate with Valdez!”

“And suppose I do?” asked the burgomaster, with an angry gesture.

Maria looked him sternly in the eye, and exclaimed in a loud, resolute
tone:

“Then it will be my turn to say: Go to Delft; we need different men
here.”

The burgomaster turned pale and bent his eyes on the floor, while she
fearlessly confronted him with a steady glance.

The light fell full upon her glowing face, and when Peter again raised
his eyes, it seemed as if the same Maria stood before him, who as a
bride had vowed to share trouble and peril with him, remain steadfast in
the struggle for liberty to the end; he felt that his “child” Maria had
grown to his own height and above him, recognized for the first time in
the proud woman before him his companion in conflict, his high-hearted
helper in distress and danger. An overmastering yearning, mightier than
any emotion ever experienced before, surged through his soul, impelled
him towards her, and found utterance in the words:

“Maria, Maria, my wife, my guardian angel! We have written to Valdez,
but there is still time,--nothing binds me yet, and with you, with you I
will stand firm to the end.”

Then, in the midst of these days of woe, she threw herself on his
breast, crying aloud in the abundance of this new, unexpected,
unutterable happiness:

“With you, one with you--forever, unto death, in conflict and in love!”



CHAPTER XXXIII.

Peter felt animated with new life. A fresh store of courage and
enthusiasm filled his breast, for he constantly received a new supply
from the stout-hearted woman by his side.

Under the pressure of the terrible responsibility he endured, and urged
by his fellow-magistrates, he had consented, at the meeting of the
council, to write to Valdez and ask him to give free passage to
embassadors, who were to entreat the estates and the Prince of Orange to
release the tortured city from her oath.

Valdez made every effort to induce the burgomaster to enter into farther
negotiations, but the latter remained firm, and no petition for release
from the sacred duty of resistance left the city. The two Van der Does,
Van Hout, Junker von Warmond, and other resolute men, who had already,
in the great assembly, denounced any intercourse with the enemy, now
valiantly supported him against his fellow-magistrates and the council,
that with the exception of seven of its members, persistently and
vehemently urged the commencement of negotiations.

Adrian rapidly recovered, but Doctor Bontius’s prediction was terribly
fulfilled, for famine and pestilence vied with each other in horrible
fury, and destroyed almost half of all the inhabitants of the
flourishing city. Intense was the gloom, dark the sky, yet even amidst
the cruel woe there was many an hour in which bright sunshine illumined
souls, and hope unfurled her green banner. The citizens of Leyden rose
from their couches more joyously, than a bride roused by the singing
of her companions on her wedding-day, when on the morning of September
eleventh loud and long-continued cannonading was heard from the
distance, and the sky became suffused with a crimson glow. The villages
southwest of the city were burning. Every house, every barn that sunk
into ashes, burying the property of honest men, was a bonfire to the
despairing citizens.

The Beggars were approaching!

Yonder, where the cannon thundered and the horizon glowed, lay the
Land-scheiding, the bulwark which for centuries had guarded the plains
surrounding Leyden from the assaults of the waves, and now barred the
way of the fleet bringing assistance.

“Fall, protecting walls, rise, tempest, swallow thy prey, raging sea,
destroy the property of the husbandman, ruin our fields and meadows, but
drown the foe or drive him hence.” So sang Janus Dousa, so rang a voice
in Peter’s soul, so prayed Maria, and with her thousands of men and
women.

But the glow in the horizon died away, the firing ceased. A second day
elapsed, a third and fourth, but no messenger arrived, no Beggar ship
appeared, and the sea seemed to be calm; but another terrible power
increased, moving with mysterious, stealthy, irresistible might; Death,
with his pale companions, Despair and Famine.

The dead were borne secretly to their graves under cover of the darkness
of night, to save their scanty ration for the survivors, in the division
of food. The angel of death flew from house to house, touched pretty
little Bessie’s heart, and kissed her closed eyes while she slumbered in
the quiet night.

The faint-hearted and the Spanish sympathizers raised their heads
and assembled in bands, one of which forced a passage into the
council-chamber and demanded bread. But not a crumb remained, and the
magistrates had nothing more to distribute except a small portion of cow
and horse-flesh, and boiled and salted hides.

During this period of the sorest distress, Van der Werff was passing
down the “broad street.” He did not notice that a throng of desperate
men and women were pursuing him with threats; but as he turned to enter
Van Hout’s house, suddenly found himself surrounded. A pallid woman,
with her dying child in her arms, threw herself before him, held out
the expiring infant, and cried in hollow tones: “Let this be enough,
let this be enough--see here, see this; it is the third. Let this be
enough!”

“Enough, enough! Bread, bread! Give us bread!” was shrieked and shouted
around him, and threatening weapons and stones were raised; but a
carpenter, whom he knew, and who had hitherto faithfully upheld the good
cause, advanced saying in measured accents, in his deep voice: “This can
go on no longer. We have patiently borne hunger and distress in fighting
against the Spaniards and for our Bible, but to struggle against certain
death is madness.”

Peter, pale and agitated, gazed at the mother, the child, the sturdy
workman and the threatening, shrieking mob. The common distress, which
afflicted them and so many starving people, oppressed his soul with a
thousand-fold greater power. He would fain have drawn them all to his
heart, as brothers in misfortune, companions of a future, worthier
existence. With deep emotion, he looked from one to the other, then
pressed his hand upon his breast and called to the crowd, which thronged
around him:

“Here I stand. I have sworn to faithfully endure to the end; and you
did so with me. I will not break my oath, but I can die. If my life will
serve you, here I am! I have no bread, but here, here is my body. Take
it, lay hands on me, tear me to pieces. Here I stand, here I stand. I
will keep my oath.”

The carpenter bent his head, and said in a hollow tone: “Come, people,
let God’s will be done; we have sworn.”

The burgomaster quietly entered his friend’s house. Frau Van Hout had
seen and heard all this, and on the very same day told the story to
Maria, her eyes sparkling brightly as she exclaimed: “Never did I see
any man so noble as he was in that hour! It is well for us, that
he rules within these walls. Never will our children and children’s
children forget this deed.”

They have treasured it in their memories, and during the night
succeeding the day on which the burgomaster acted so manly a part, a
letter arrived from the Prince, full of joyous and encouraging news. The
noble man had recovered, and was striving with all his power to rescue
brave Leyden. The Beggars had cut the Landscheiding, their vessels were
pressing onward--help was approaching, and the faithful citizen who
brought the letter, had seen with his own eyes the fleet bringing relief
and the champions of freedom, glowing with martial ardor. The two Van
der Does, by the same letter, were appointed the Prince’s commissioners
in place of the late Herr Van Bronkhorst. Van der Werff no longer stood
alone, and when the next morning “Father William’s” letter was read
aloud and the messenger’s news spread abroad, the courage and confidence
of the tortured citizens rose like withering grass after a refreshing
rain.

But they were still condemned to long weeks of anxiety and suffering.

During the last days of September they were forced to slaughter the cows
hitherto spared for the infants and young mothers, and then, then?

Help was close at hand, for the sky often reddened, and the air was
shaken by the roar of distant cannon; but the east wind continued to
prevail, driving back the water let in upon the land, and the vessels
needed a rising flood to approach the city.

Not one of all the messengers, who had been sent out, returned; there
was nothing certain, save the cruelly increasing unendurable suffering.
Even Barbara had succumbed, and complained of weakness and loathing of
the ordinary food.

Maria thought of the roast-pigeon, which had agreed with Bessie so well,
and went to the musician, to ask if he could sacrifice another of his
pets for her sister-in-law.

Wilhelm’s mother received the burgomaster’s wife. The old lady was
sitting wearily in an arm-chair; she could still walk, but amid her
anxiety and distress a strange twitching had affected her hands. When
Maria made her request, she shook her head, saying: “Ask him yourself.
He’s obliged to keep the little creatures shut up, for whenever they
appear, the poor starving people shoot at them. There are only three
left. The messengers took the others, and they haven’t returned.

“Thank God for it; the little food he still has, will do more good in
dishes, than in their crops. Would you believe it? A fortnight ago
he paid fifty florins out of his savings for half a sack of peas, and
Heaven knows where he found them. Ulrich, Ulrich! Take Frau Van der
Werff up to Wilhelm. I’d willingly spare you the climb, but he’s
watching for the carrier-pigeons that have been sent out, and won’t
even come down to his meals. To be sure, they would hardly be worth the
trouble!”

It was a clear, sunny day. Wilhelm was standing in his look-out, gazing
over the green, watery plain, that lay out-spread below him, towards
the south. Behind him sat Andreas, the fencing-master’s fatherless boy;
writing notes, but his attention was not fixed on his work; for as soon
as he had finished a line he too gazed towards the horizon, watching for
the pigeon his teacher expected. He did not look particularly emaciated,
for many a grain of the doves’ food had been secretly added to his
scanty ration of meat.

Wilhelm showed that he felt both surprised and honored by Frau Van der
Werff’s visit, and even promised to grant her request, though it was
evident that the “saying yes” was by no means easy for him.

The young wife went out on the balcony with him, and he showed her in
the south, where usually nothing but a green plain met the eye, a wide
expanse over which a light mist was hovering. The noon sun seemed to
steep the white vapor with light, and lure it upward by its ardent rays.
This was the water streaming through the broken dyke, and the black
oblong specks moving along its edges were the Spanish troops and herds
of cattle, that had retreated before the advancing flood from the outer
fortifications, villages and hamlets. The Land-scheiding itself was not
visible, but the Beggars had already passed it. If the fleet succeeded
in reaching the Zoetermere Lake and from thence.

Wilhelm suddenly interrupted his explanation, for Andreas had suddenly
started up, upsetting his stool, and exclaimed:

“It’s coming! The dove! Roland, my fore man, there it comes!”

For the first time Wilhelm heard the boy’s lips utter his father’s
exclamation. Some great emotion must have stirred his heart, and in
truth he was not mistaken; the speck piercing the air, which his
keen eye had discovered, was no longer a mere spot, but an oblong
something--a bird, the pigeon!

Wilhelm seized the flag on the balcony, and waved it as joyously as
ever conqueror unfurled his banner after a hard-won fight. The dove came
nearer--alighted, slipped into the cote, and a few minutes after the
musician appeared with a tiny letter.

“To the magistrates!” cried Wilhelm. “Take it to your husband at once.
Oh! dear lady, dear lady, finish what the dove has begun. Thank God!
thank God! they are already at North-Aa. This will save the poor people
from despair! And now one thing more! You shall have the roasted bird,
but take this grain too; a barley-porridge is the best medicine for
Barbara’s condition; I’ve tried it!”

When evening came, and the musician had told his parents the joyful
news, he ordered the blue dove with the white breast to be caught. “Kill
it outside the house,” said he, “I can’t bear to see it.”

Andreas soon came back with the beheaded pigeon.

His lips were bloody, Wilhelm knew from what, yet he did not reprove the
hungry boy, but merely said:

“Fie, you pole-cat!”

Early the next morning a second dove returned. The letters the
winged messengers had brought were read aloud from the windows of the
town-hall, and the courage of the populace, pressed to the extremest
limits of endurance, flickered up anew and helped them bear their
misery. One of the letters was addressed to the magistrates, the other
to Janus Dousa; they sounded confident and hopeful, and the Prince,
the faithful shield of liberty, the friend and guide of the people, had
recovered from his sickness and visited the vessels and troops intended
for the relief of Leyden. Rescue was so near, but the north-east wind
would not change, and the water did not rise. Great numbers of citizens,
soldiers, magistrates and women stood on the citadel and other elevated
places, gazing into the distance.

A thousand hands were clasped in fervent prayer, and the eyes of all
were turned in feverish expectation and eager yearning towards the
south, but the boundary line of the waves did not move; and the sun, as
if in mockery, burst cheerily through the mists of the autumn morning,
imparted a pleasant warmth to the keen air, and in the evening sank
towards the west in the midst of radiant light, diffusing its golden
rays far and wide. The cloudless blue sky arched pitilessly over the
city, and at night glittered with thousands of twinkling stars. Early
on the morning of the twenty-ninth the mists grew denser, the grass
remained dry, the fogs lifted, the cool air changed to a sultry
atmosphere, the grey clouds piled in masses on each other, and grew
black and threatening. A light breeze rose, stirring the leafless
branches of the trees, then a sudden gust of wind swept over the
heads of the throngs watching the distant horizon. A second and third
followed, then a howling tempest roared and hissed without cessation
through the city, wrenching tiles from the roofs, twisting the
fruit-trees in the gardens and the young elms and lindens in many a
street, tearing away the flags the boys had fastened on the walls in
defiance of the Spaniards, lashing the still waters of the city moat
and quiet canals, and--the Lord does not abandon His own--and the vanes
turned, the storm came from the north-west. No one saw the result, but
the sailors shouted the tidings, and each individual caught up the words
and bore them exultantly on--the hurricane drove the sea into the mouth
of the Meuse, forcing back the waves of the river by its fierce assault,
driving them over its banks through the gaps opened in the dykes, and
the gates of the sluices, and bearing forward on their towering crests
the vessels bringing deliverance.

Roar, roar, thou storm, stream, stream, rushing rain, rage, waves,
and destroy the meadows, swallow up houses and villages! Thousands
and thousands of people on the walls and towers of Leyden hail your
approach, behold in you the terrible armies of the avenging God, exult
and shout a joyous welcome!

For two successive days the burgomaster, Maria and Adrian, the Van der
Does and Van Houts stood with brief intervals of rest among the throng
on the citadel or the tower at the Cow-Gate; even Barbara, far
more strengthened by hope than by the barley-porridge or the lean
carrier-pigeon, would not stay at home, but dragged herself to the
musician’s look-out, for every one wanted to see the rising water, the
earth softening, the moisture creeping between the blades of grass, then
spreading into pools and ponds, until at last there was a wide expanse
of water, on which bubbles rose, burst under the descending rain, and
formed ever-widening circles. Every one wanted to watch the Spaniards,
hurrying hither and thither like sheep pursued by a wolf. Every one
wanted to hear the thunder of the Beggars’ cannon, the rattle of
their arquebuses and muskets; men and women thought the tempest that
threatened to sweep them away, pleasanter than the softest breeze, and
the pouring rain, which drenched them, preferable to spring dew-drops
mirroring the sunshine.

Behind the strong fort of Lammen, defended by several hundred Spanish
soldiers, and the Castle of Cronenstein, a keen eye could distinguish
the Beggars’ vessels.

During Thursday and Friday Wilhelm watched in vain for a dove, but on
Saturday his best flier returned, bringing a letter from Admiral Boisot,
who called upon the armed forces of the city to sally out on Friday and
attack Lammen.

The storm had blown the pigeon away. It had reached the city too late,
but on Saturday evening Janus Dousa and Captain Van der Laen were
actively engaged, summoning every one capable of bearing arms to appear
early Sunday morning. Poor, pale, emaciated troops were those who obeyed
the leaders’ call, but not a man was absent and each stood ready to give
his life for the deliverance of the city and his family.

The tempest had moderated, the firing had ceased, and the night was dark
and sultry. No eyes wished to sleep, and those whose slumber overpowered
for a short time, were startled and terrified by strange, mysterious
noises. Wilhelm sat in his look-out, gazing towards the south and
listening intently. Sometimes a light gust of wind whistled around the
lofty house, sometimes a shout, a scream, or the blast of a trumpet
echoed through the stillness of the night; then a crashing noise, as if
an earthquake had shaken part of the city to its foundations, arose near
the Cow-Gate. Not a star was visible in the sky, but bright spots, like
will-o’-the-wisps, moved through the dense gloom in regular order near
Lanimen. It was a horrible, anxious night.

Early next morning the citizens saw that a part of the city-wall near
the Cow-Gate had fallen, and then unexampled rejoicing arose at the
breach, no longer dangerous; exultant cries echoed through every street
and alley, drawing from the houses men and women, grey-beards and
children, the sick and the well, one after another thronging to
the Cow-Gate, where the Beggars’ fleet was seen approaching. The
city-carpenter, Thomassohn, and other men, tore out of the water the
posts by which the Spaniards had attempted to bar the vessels’ advance,
then the first ship, followed by a second and third, arrived at the
walls. Stern, bearded men, with fierce, scarred, weather-beaten faces,
whose cheeks for years had been touched by no salt moisture, save the
sea-spray, smiled kindly at the citizens, flung them one loaf of bread
after another, and many other good things of which they had long been
deprived, weeping and sobbing with emotion like children, while the poor
people eat and eat, unable to utter a word of thanks. Then the leaders
came, Admiral Boisot embraced the Van der Does and Burgomaster Van der
Werff, the Beggar captain Van Duijkenburg was clasped in the arms of his
mother, Barbara, and many a Leyden man hugged a liberator, on whom his
eyes now rested for the first time. Many, many tears fell, thousands of
hearts overflowed, and the Sunday bells, sounding so much clearer and
gayer than usual, summoned rescuers and rescued to the churches to pray.
The spacious sanctuary was too small for the worshippers, and when the
pastor, Corneliussohn, who filled the place of the good Verstroot, now
ill from caring for so many sufferers, called upon the congregation to
give thanks, his exhortation had long since been anticipated; from the
first notes of the organ, the thousands who poured into the church
had been filled with the same eager longing, to utter thanks, thanks,
fervent thanks.

In the Grey Sisters’ chapel Father Damianus also thanked the Lord, and
with him Nicolas Van Wibisma and other Catholics, who loved their native
land and liberty.

After church Adrian, holding a piece of bread in one hand and his shoes
in the other, waded at the head of his school-mates through the higher
meadows to Leyderdorp, to see the Spaniards’ deserted camp. There stood
the superb tent of General Valdez, in which, over the bed, hung a map of
the Rhine country, drawn by the Netherlander Beeldsnijder to injure his
own nation. The boys looked at it, and a Beggar, who had formerly been
in a writing-school and now looked like a sea-bear, said:

“Look here, my lads. There is the Land-scheiding.

“We first pierced that, but more was to be done. The green path had many
obstacles, and here at the third dyke--they call it the Front-way--there
were hard nuts to crack, and farther progress was impossible. We now 45
returned, made a wide circuit across the Segwaertway, and through this
canal here, where there was hard fighting, to North-Aa. The Zoetermeer
Lake now lay behind us, but the water became too shallow and we could
get no farther. Have you seen the great Ark of Delft? It’s a huge
vessel, moved by wheels, by which the water is thrust aside. You’ll
be delighted with it. At last the Lord gave us the storm and the
spring-tide. Then the vessels had the right depth of water. There was
warm work again at the Kirk-way, but the day before yesterday we reached
Lammen. Many a brave man has fallen on both sides, but at Lammen every
one expected the worst struggle to take place. We were going to attack
it early this morning, but when day dawned everything was unnaturally
quiet in the den, and moreover, a strange stillness prevailed. Then we
thought: Leyden has surrendered; starvation conquered her. But it was
nothing of the sort! You are people of the right stamp, and soon after a
lad about as large as one of you, came to our vessel and told us he had
seen a long procession of lights move out of the fort during the night
and march away. At first we wouldn’t believe him, but the boy was right.
The water had grown too hot for the crabs, and the lights the lad saw
were the Spaniards’ lunts. Look, children, there is Lammen--”

Adrian had gone close to the map with his companions and now interrupted
the Beggar by laughing loudly.

“What is it, curly-head?” asked the latter.

“Look, look!” cried the boy, “the great General Valdez has immortalized
himself here, and there is his name too. Listen, listen! The rector
would hang a placard with the word donkey round his neck, for he has
written: ‘Castelli parvi! Vale civitas, valete castelli parvi; relicti
estis propter aquam et non per vim inimicorum!’ Oh! the donkey ‘Castelli
parvi!’”

“What does it mean?” asked the Beggar.

“Farewell, Leyden, farewell, ye little ‘Castelli;’ ye are abandoned
on account of the waves, and not of the power of the enemy. ‘Parvi
Castelli!’ I must tell mother that!”

On Monday, William of Orange entered Leyden, and went to Herr von
Montfort’s house. The people received their Father William with joy, and
the unwearied champion of liberty, in the midst of the exultation and
rejoicing that surrounded him, labored for the future prosperity of the
city. At a later period he rewarded the faithful endurance of the people
with a peerless memorial: the University of Leyden. This awakened and
kept alive in the busy city and the country bleeding for years in severe
conflicts, that lofty aspiration and effort, which is its own reward,
and places eternal welfare far above mere temporal prosperity. The tree,
whose seed was planted amid the deepest misery, conflict and calamity,
has borne the noblest fruits for humanity, still bears them, and if it
is the will of God will continue to bear them for centuries.

       ................................

On the twenty-sixth of July, 1581, seven years after the rescue of
Leyden, Holland and Zealand, whose political independence had already
been established for six years, proclaimed themselves at the Hague
free from Spain. Hitherto, William of Orange had ruled as King Philip’s
“stadtholder,” and even the war against the monarch had been carried
on in his name. Nay, the document establishing the University, a paper,
which with all the earnestness that dictated it, deserves to be called
an unsurpassed masterpiece of the subtlest political irony, purported to
issue from King Philip’s mouth, and it sounds amusing enough to read
in this paper, that the gloomy dunce in the Escurial, after mature
deliberation with his dear and faithful cousin, William of Orange, has
determined to found a free-school and university, from motives, which
could not fail to seem abominable to the King.

On the twenty-fourth of July this game ceased, allegiance to Philip was
renounced, and the Prince assumed sovereign authority.

Three days after, these joyful events were celebrated by a splendid
banquet at Herr Van der Werff’s house. The windows of the dining-room
were thrown wide open, and the fresh breeze of the summer night fanned
the brows of the guests, who had assembled around the burgomaster’s
table. They were the most intimate friends of the family: Janus Dousa,
Van Hout, the learned Doctor Grotius of Delft, who to Maria’s delight
had been invited to Leyden as a professor, and this very year filled
the office of President of the new University, the learned tavern-keeper
Aquarius, Doctor Bontius, now professor of medicine at the University,
and many others.

The musician Wilhelm was also present, but no longer alone; beside
him sat his beautiful, delicate wife, Anna d’Avila, with whom he had
recently returned from Italy. He had borne for several years the name
of Van Duivenbode (messenger-dove), which the city had bestowed on him,
together with a coat of arms bearing three blue doves on a silver field
and two crossed keys.

With the Prince’s consent the legacies bequeathed by old Fraulein Van
Hoogstraten to her relatives and servants, had been paid, and Wilhelm
now occupied with his wife a beautiful new house, that did not lack
a dovecote, and where Maria, though her four children gave her little
time, took part in many a madrigal. The musician had much to say about
Rome and his beautiful sister-in-law Henrica, to Adrian, now a fine
young man, who had graduated at the University and was soon to be
admitted to the council. Belotti, after the death of the young girl’s
father, who had seen and blessed Anna again, went to Italy with her,
where she lived as superior of a secular institution, where music was
cultivated with special devotion.

Barbara did not appear among the guests. She had plenty to do in the
kitchen. Her white caps were now plaited with almost coquettish skill
and care, and the firm, contented manner in which she ruled Trautchen
and the two under maid-servants showed that everything was going on well
in Peter’s house and business. It was worth while to do a great deal
for the guests upstairs. Junker von Warmond was among them, and had
been given the seat of honor between Doctor Grotius and Janus Dousa, the
first trustee of the University, for he had become a great nobleman
and influential statesman, who found much difficulty in getting time to
leave the Hague and attend the banquet with his young assistant, Nicolas
Van Wibisma. He drank to Meister Aquanus as eagerly and gaily as ever,
exclaiming:

“To old times and our friend, Georg von Dornburg.”

“With all my heart,” replied the landlord. “We haven’t heard of his bold
deeds and expeditions for a long time.”

“Of course! The fermenting wine is now clear. Dornburg is in the
English service, and four weeks ago I met him as a member of her British
Majesty’s navy in London. His squadron is now on the way to Venice.
He still cherishes an affectionate memory of Leyden, and sends kind
remembrances to you, but you would never recognize in the dignified
commander and quiet, cheerful man, our favorite in former days. How
often his enthusiastic temperament carried him far beyond us all, and
how it would make the heart ache to see him brooding mournfully over his
secret grief.”

“I met the Junker in Delft,” said Doctor Grotius. “Such enthusiastic
natures easily soar too high and then get a fall, but when they yoke
themselves to the chariot of work and duty, their strength moves vast
burdens, and with cheerful superiority conquers the hardest obstacles.”

Meantime Adrian, at a sign from his father, had risen and filled the
glasses with the best wine. The “hurrah,” led by the Burgomaster, was
given to the Prince, and Janus Dousa followed it by a toast to the
independence and liberty of their native land.

Van Hout devoted a glass to the memory of the days of trouble, and the
city’s marvellous deliverance. All joined in the toast, and after the
cheers had died away, Aquanus said:

“Who would not gladly recall the exquisite Sunday of October third; but
when I think of the misery that preceded it, my heart contracts, even at
the present day.”

At these words Peter clasped Maria’s hand, pressed it tenderly, and
whispered:

“And yet, on the saddest day of my life, I found my best treasure.”

“So did I!” she replied, gazing gratefully into his faithful eyes.


     ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:

     A blustering word often does good service
     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
     Drinking is also an art, and the Germans are masters of it
     Hat is the sign of liberty, and the free man keeps his hat on
     Held in too slight esteem to be able to offer an affront
     Here the new custom of tobacco-smoking was practised
     Must take care not to poison the fishes with it
     Repos ailleurs
     Standing still is retrograding
     The shirt is closer than the coat
     The best enjoyment in creating is had in anticipation
     Those two little words ‘wish’ and ‘ought’
     To whom fortune gives once, it gives by bushels
     To whom the emotion of sorrow affords a mournful pleasure
     Wet inside, he can bear a great deal of moisture without
     Youth calls ‘much,’ what seems to older people ‘little’





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