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Title: Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons
Author: Seaman, Augusta Huiell
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons" ***

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[Illustration: Book Cover]



JACQUELINE OF THE CARRIER PIGEONS



[Illustration]

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK - BOSTON - CHICAGO - DALLAS
ATLANTA - SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
LONDON - BOMBAY - CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
OF CANADA, LIMITED
TORONTO



[Illustration: Jacqueline and her Carrier Pigeon in the Procession]



[Illustration: Title Page]



Copyright 1910
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1910
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY
THE BERWICK & SMITH CO.



TO

MY SEVEREST CRITIC,

MY FATHER,

AND TO

VIRGINIA

WHO WAS ITS INSPIRATION,

I DEDICATE THIS BOOK



INTRODUCTION

FAIR LEYDEN


I am glad that Mrs. Seaman has written this story. Americans cannot know
Leyden too well, for no city in Europe so worthily deserves the name of
Alma Mater. Here, after giving the world an inspiring example of
heroism, modern liberty had her chosen home. The siege, so finely
pictured in this story, took place about midway in time between two
great events--the march of Alva the Spaniard and his terrible army of
"Black Beards" into the Netherlands, and the Union of Utrecht, by which
the seven states formed the Dutch Republic.

This new nation was based on the federal compact of a written
constitution, under the red and white striped flag, in which each stripe
represented a state. Under that flag, which we borrowed in 1775 and
still keep, though we have added stars, universal common school
education of all the children, in public schools sustained by taxation,
and freedom of religion for all, was the rule. Leyden won her victory
seven years before the Dutch Declaration of Independence in July, 1581.
As our own Benjamin Franklin declared, "In love of liberty and bravery
in the defense of it, she (the Dutch Republic) has been our great
example."

With freedom won, as so graphically portrayed in this story, Leyden
enlarged her bounds and welcomed to residence and citizenship three
companies of people who became pioneers of our American life. Like the
carrier-pigeons, they brought something with them. To our nation, they
gave some of the noblest principles of the seven Dutch United States to
help in making those thirteen of July 4, 1776, and the constitutional
commonwealth of 1787, formed by "the people of the United States of
America."

First of all, to victorious Leyden, came the Walloons, or refugees from
Belgium, to gather strength before sailing in the good ship New
Netherland, in 1623, to lay the foundations of the Empire State. Then
followed the Pilgrim Fathers of New England. Many of the young and
strong who sailed in the Speedwell and Mayflower were born in Leyden and
spoke and wrote Dutch. The old folks, who could not cross the Atlantic,
remained in Leyden until they died and some were buried in St. Pancras
and St. Peter's Church. In this city, also, dwelt the Huguenots, in
large numbers, many of whom came to America to add their gifts and
graces to enrich our nation. Last, but not least, besides educating in
her university hundreds of colonial Americans, including two sons of
John Adams, one of whom, John Quincy Adams became president of the
United States, Leyden in 1782, led in the movement to recognize us as an
independent country. Then the Dutch lent us four millions of dollars,
which paid off our starving Continentals. Principal and interest, repaid
in 1808, amounting to fourteen millions, were used to develop six
thousand square miles of Western New York, when New Amsterdam (later
called Buffalo) was laid out, and whence came two of our presidents,
Fillmore and Cleveland.

A most delightful romance is this of Mrs. Seaman. True to facts and
exact in coloring, it is all the better for being the straightforward
narrative of a real boy and a genuine girl. Gysbert Cornellisen's
cooking pot, once smoking with savory Spanish stew or hodge-podge, is
still to be seen in the Stedelyk (city) Museum, which every American
ought to visit when in Leyden. It is in the old Laken Hal (or cloth
Hall). From the turreted battlements of Hengist Hill (Den Burg) we may
still look out over the country. If in Leyden on October 3, one will see
Thanksgiving Day celebrated, as I know it was, most gaily, in 1909, in a
most delightfully Dutch way, when the brides of the year are in
evidence. In Belfry Lane, where Jacqueline lived, was the later home of
the Pilgrim Fathers. On the wall of great Saint Peter's church is a
bronze tablet in honor of the pastor of the Mayflower company, and
inside is the tomb of Jean Luzac, "friend of Washington, Jefferson and
Adams." His newspaper, printed in Dutch and French, during our
Revolutionary War, won for us the recognition of three governments in
Europe. On the Rapenburg, where he lived, a bronze tablet in his honor
was unveiled, to the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" on September
8, 1909.

Having spent weeks in Leyden, during a dozen visits, I can testify to
the general historic accuracy, as well as to the throbbing human
interest of this story of _Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons_. It will
be sure to attract many a young traveller to Leyden.

  WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS.
  Ithaca, N. Y., January 8, 1910.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                           PAGE
      I.  ON HENGIST HILL                              3
     II.  THE KING'S PARDON                           19
    III.  GYSBERT BECOMES A JUMPER                    35
     IV.  IN THE CAMP OF THE ENEMY                    51
      V.  THE DECISION OF JACQUELINE                  67
     VI.  THE COMING OF THE FIRST PIGEON              83
    VII.  A SWIM IN THE CANAL--AND WHAT CAME OF IT    99
   VIII.  "TRANQUIL AMID RAGING BILLOWS"             113
     IX.  VROUW VOORHAAS'S SECRET                    129
      X.  THE BEGGARS OF THE SEA                     141
     XI.  JACQUELINE RESPONDS TO AN URGENT SUMMONS   155
    XII.  REUNITED                                   169
   XIII.  ADRIAN VAN DER WERF                        185
    XIV.  ALONZO DE ROVA IS AS GOOD AS HIS WORD      201
     XV.  THE EAVESDROPPERS AND THE PLOT             213
    XVI.  WHEN THE WIND CHANGED                      229
   XVII.  A CRASH IN THE NIGHT                       245
  XVIII.  THE DAWN OF OCTOBER THIRD                  261
    XIX.  THE SECRET OUT                             277
     XX.  THE GREAT DAY                              289



ILLUSTRATIONS

FROM DECORATIVE DRAWINGS
BY GEORGE WHARTON EDWARDS


  Jacqueline and her carrier pigeons in the procession    _Frontispiece_
                                                             FACING PAGE
  Gysbert draws the portrait of Alonzo De Rova                        62
  Dirk Willumhoog seizes Jacqueline                                  292



ON HENGIST HILL



CHAPTER I

ON HENGIST HILL


The hush of a golden May afternoon lay on the peaceful, watery streets
of Leyden. Just enough breeze circulated to rustle the leaves of the
poplars, limes and willows that arched the shaded canals. The city
drowsed in its afternoon siesta, and few were about to notice the boy
and girl making their way rapidly toward the middle of the town.
Directly before them, the canal-interlaced streets and stone bridges
gave place to a steep incline of ground rising to a considerable height.
Its sides were clothed with groves of fruit trees, and from its summit
frowned the mouldering walls of some long-forsaken fortress. So old and
deserted was this tower that a great clump of oak trees had grown up
inside of it, and overtopped its walls.

"Art thou tired, Gysbert?" asked the girl, a slim, golden-haired lass of
seventeen, of her younger brother, a boy of little over fourteen years.

"No, Jacqueline, I am strong! A burden of this sort does not weary me!"
answered the boy, and he stoutly took a fresh grip on some large,
box-like object wrapped in a dark shawl, that they carried between them.

Up the steep sides of the hill they toiled, now lost to sight in the
grove of fruit trees, now emerging again near the grim walls of the old
battlement. Panting for breath yet laughing gaily, they placed the
burden on the ground, and sat down beside it to rest and look about
them. Before their eyes lay pictured the sparkling canal-streets of the
city, beyond whose limits stretched the fair, fertile plains of Holland,
and in the dim distance the blue line of the boundless ocean. Gysbert's
eyes grew misty with longing.

"Ah! if I had but brush and colors I would paint this," he sighed. "I
would paint it so that all the world would think they looked upon the
very scene itself!"

"Some day thou shalt have them, Gysbert, if thou dost but possess
thyself with patience," answered his sister, with the gentle yet
authoritative air of her three years' senority. "We will raise many
pigeons and train them. Then, when the price we have obtained from them
is sufficient, thou shalt buy an artist's outfit, and paint to thy
heart's content. Meantime thou must practice with thy charcoal and
pencil, and wait till the war is over."

Both sat silent for a while, each occupied with thoughts that were, in
all probability, very similar. The little word "war" recalled to them
memories, pictures, speculations and fears, all very painful and
puzzling. Neither one could remember the time when their peace-loving
land of the Netherlands had been allowed to pursue its avocations
unmolested by the terrible Spanish soldiery. From time immemorial had
these fair provinces been tightly grasped in the clutch of Spain. Now at
last they were awakening, rousing themselves from the long inaction, and
striking the first bold blows for liberty from the relentless oppressor.
Little did the children dream, as they sat looking out over the
beautiful city, that this same year of 1574, and this same Leyden were
to witness the great turning-point of the struggle.

"Look, look, Jacqueline! There is the church of Saint Pancras, and there
is our house in Belfry Lane. I can almost see Vrouw Voorhaas looking
from the window! Come, let us set free the pigeons!" And Gysbert, all
excitement, began to fumble with the wrappings of the bundle. Jacqueline
rose, threw back the two golden braids that had fallen across her
shoulders, and knelt down to superintend the work.

Very carefully they removed the dark shawl and laid it aside, disclosing
a box roughly fashioned like a cage, containing four pigeons. The
frightened birds fluttered about wildly for a moment, then settled down
cooing softly. When they had become accustomed to the daylight,
Jacqueline opened one side of the box, thrust in her arm, and drew
toward her a young pigeon of magnificent coloring, whose iridescent neck
glittered as if hung with jewels. The girl cuddled the bird gently under
her chin, and with one finger stroked his handsome head.

"Let us send 'William of Orange,' first," she said. "He is the finest,
strongest and wisest, and will lead the way. I am glad we named him
after our great leader."

"But the message!" Gysbert reminded her. "We must not forget that, or
good Vrouw Voorhaas will never know whether he got back first or not.
She cannot seem to remember one pigeon from another. Here, I will write
it." He drew from his pocket a tiny scrap of paper on which he hastily
scrawled:--"'William of Orange' brings greetings to Vrouw Voorhaas from
Jacqueline and Gysbert." This he wrapped about the leg of the bird and
tied it with a string. "Now, let him go!" he cried.

Jacqueline stood up, lifted the bird in both hands, and with a swift
upward movement, launched him into the air. The pigeon circled round and
round for a moment, then mounted up into the sky with a curious spiral
flight. When it was many feet above the children it suddenly changed its
tactics, spread its wings taut, and made straight in the direction of
Saint Pancras spire and Belfry Lane.

"Bravo! bravo!" they cried, watching intently till its sun-gilded wings
had all but faded from sight. "'William of Orange' is a true carrier
pigeon! Now for the rest!"

One after another they released the three remaining birds to whom they
had given the names 'Count Louis' and 'Count John' after the great
William of Nassau's two favorite brothers, and lastly 'Admiral Boisot.'
It seemed to be a fancy of the children to call their pets after their
famous generals and naval commanders.

"These are the finest pigeons we have raised," remarked Jacqueline as
she shaded her eyes to watch their flight. "None of the others can
compare with them, though all are good."

"Now we have twenty," added Gysbert, "and all have proved that they have
the very best training. No pigeons in the city are like ours, not even
old Jan Van Buskirk's. When shall we begin to hire them out as
messengers, Jacqueline?"

"Perhaps there will be an opportunity soon," answered the girl. "Now
that our city is no longer besieged we may have to bide our time. But no
one can tell what will happen next in these days. We must wait,
Gysbert."

"Come, come! let us be going," said her brother restlessly, "and see if
they all get back safely, and whether 'William of Orange' was first."

"No, let us stay awhile," replied Jacqueline. "It is pleasant and cool
up here, and the afternoon is long. Vrouw Voorhaas will let the birds
in, and tell us all about when they arrived. We may as well enjoy the
day."

She reseated herself and gazed off toward the blue line of the ocean,
shut out from the land by a series of dykes whose erection represented
years of almost incredible labor. The river Rhine making its way
sluggishly to the sea,--a very different Rhine from that of its earlier
course through Germany,--was almost choked off by the huge sand dunes
through which it forced its discouraged path. The girl's thoughtful mood
was infectious, and Gysbert, after rambling about idly for a time, came
and settled himself at her side.

"'Tis a strange hill, this, is it not, Jacqueline, to be rising right in
the middle of a city like Leyden? Why, there is nothing like it for
miles upon miles in this flat country! How came it here, I wonder?"

"Father used to tell me," said the girl, "that some think it was the
work of the Romans when they occupied the land many centuries ago, while
more declare that it was raised by the Anglo-Saxon conqueror Hengist.
That is why it is called 'Hengist Hill.'"

"How different it would have been for us if father had lived!" exclaimed
Gysbert, suddenly changing the subject. "It seems so long ago, and I was
so young that I do not remember much about him. Tell me what thou
knowest, Jacqueline. Thou art older and must remember him better."

"Yes, I was eleven," said Jacqueline with a dreamy look in her eyes,
"and thou wast only eight, when he went away and we never saw him
again. We had always lived in the city of Louvain, and father was a
professor of medicine in the big university there. Mother died when thou
wast but a little baby. I can just remember her as tall and pale and
golden-haired, and very gentle. Good Vrouw Voorhaas always kept house
for us, and we had a big house then,--a grand house,--and many servants.

"Father was so loving and so kind! He used to take me on his knee and
tell me many tales of Holland and the former days. I liked best those
about the beautiful Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, after whom he said I
was named, and of how good and beloved she was, and how much she
suffered for her people.

"Then came the day when he disappeared--no one knew how or where for a
while--till the news reached Vrouw Voorhaas that he had been captured by
the cruel Duke of Alva and put to death. It was at the same time that
the young Count de Buren, the eldest son of our great William of
Orange, was kidnapped from the University where he was studying, and
taken a captive to Spain. We had little time to think of that outrage,
so great was our grief for our dear father. Vrouw Voorhaas dismissed all
the servants, closed the house and sold it, and we came to Leyden to
live in the little house in Belfry Lane, where we have been ever since."

The boy listened spellbound, though the recital was evidently one that
had been oft-repeated, but had never lost its mystery and sorrowful
charm.

"I was so little," he said at last, "I only remember our father as a
tall man with gray hair and beard, and very blue, twinkling eyes. It is
all like a dream to me! But is it not singular, Jacqueline, that Vrouw
Voorhaas will never talk about him to us, nor answer any questions when
we ask about him? And she has told us never to mention his name to
others, and has made us change our last name from Cornellisen to
Coovenden. I wonder why!"

"It is very strange," agreed Jacqueline, shaking her head, "and I do not
understand it myself. She told me once that I should know some day, and
till then must never question her." But the restless spirit had again
seized Gysbert, and he scrambled to his feet to make another tour around
the old fortress. Suddenly the girl was startled by his loud, insistent
shout:

"Jacqueline, Jacqueline! come here! There is something very odd coming
across the plains! Come quickly!" She rose and ran to the other side of
the hill where she found Gysbert shading his eyes with one hand. With
the other he pointed to a thin, dark, undulating line moving slowly in
the direction of the city, while here and there the sun caught a flash
of blue and white, as from waving banners. Jacqueline's cheeks grew
white.

"The Spaniards!" she breathed.

"The Spaniards indeed!" shouted Gysbert. "And coming to besiege the city
once more, when we thought they had left us for good and all. In five
hours at most, they will be here in front of the walls. We must run to
warn the Burgomaster Van der Werf to strengthen the defences and make
all speed to close the gates. There is not a moment to lose! Come!"

And without another thought but for the safety of the beautiful city,
the two children clasped hands and ran at top speed down the steep
hillside, in the direction of the great statehouse.



THE KING'S PARDON



CHAPTER II

THIS KING'S PARDON


A week had passed, and Leyden lay encircled by the Spanish army in a
state of close siege. Eight thousand troops under the Spanish commander
Valdez surrounded the city, sixty-two redoubts had been raised to
bombard its walls, and moreover, the number of the enemy was daily
increasing.

But _within_ the town were only a small corps of burgher guards, and
"freebooters" under the command of brave John Van der Does. Three
sources alone supplied the reliance of the beleaguered city,--their
trust in God, the stout hearts and willing hands of the inhabitants, and
the sleepless energy of Prince William of Orange, their heroic national
commander.

Jacqueline stood in the dove-cote one morning about eight days after
the trip to Hengist Hill, feeding her little troop of carrier pigeons.
Her golden hair fell over her shoulders in two shining braids, her eyes
sparkled, and her cheeks glowed with the pleasure of her occupation.
Upon her shoulders, her hands, and even her head perched the feathered
pets, so tame that they fairly disputed among themselves for the
privilege of her attention. The dove-cote was a room on the top floor of
the little house in Belfry Lane. The sun streamed in brightly through
the large open window, the walls were lined with boxes serving as nests,
and every detail of the room was, through the untiring efforts of
Jacqueline, as neat and immaculate as a new pin.

Suddenly the door opened and Gysbert, hatless and panting, stood on the
threshold.

"Ah, Jacqueline!" he exclaimed, with true artist's instinct. "What a
beautiful picture thou dost make, standing there in the sunlight with
the pigeons all around thee! Had I but time I would bring my pencil,
and sketch thee just as thou art. But hurry, hurry! The Burgomaster Van
der Werf is going to make a speech and read two proclamations from the
steps of the statehouse. Every one will be there. Come, we must get near
the front!"

"Yes, yes!" echoed Jacqueline, as eager as the boy. "Close thou the door
tightly, Gysbert, and we will hurry, that we may not miss a word. Ah, I
hope that the good William the Silent has sent the city a message!"

Out into the street they sallied, mingling with the crowd that was
surging toward the open square in front of the great statehouse. The
bells of Saint Pancras sounded the signal for a public meeting, and one
could read from each earnest, excited countenance, the importance that
was placed on being present in this crisis.

"Look!" cried Gysbert. "There is Jan Van Buskirk not far ahead. I
thought he was too ill with lumbago to leave his bed! See how he
hobbles along! Let us join him, Jacqueline." They ran ahead and caught
up with the old man, who greeted them cheerily, in spite of the pains
with which his poor bent body was racked.

"Yes, I managed to crawl out of my bed," he assured them. "'Tis
important that every one should attend these meetings in such a pass as
we are now. Think you we will hear word from William the Silent?"

"Aye, but I hope so, though I do not yet know certainly," answered the
boy. "We have received no word from him since the siege began. Surely he
will not desert us in this hour of need!"

"See, Gysbert!" whispered Jacqueline. "There is that evil-looking Dirk
Willumhoog across the street. Do not let us get near him. His very
appearance makes me shudder!" The girl shrank closer to her brother and
old Jan.

"Surely thou art not afraid of him, Jacqueline!" said Gysbert
scornfully. "'Tis true I detest him myself, but I fear him not. What
harm can he do us?"

"I do not know," replied his sister, "but there is that in his look that
makes me think he would harm us if he could!"

"Poof!" exclaimed Gysbert. "Did I not tell thee that he stopped me in
the street one day, and asked me who we were, and where we lived, and
who took care of us? I reminded him that it was naught of his affairs,
as far as I could see, and left him to scowl his ugly scowl as I walked
away whistling."

But the crowd had swept Dirk Willumhoog from their sight, and in a few
moments they found themselves in the great square surging with people,
and as fortune would have it, almost directly in front of the imposing
statehouse, from whose high, carved steps the proclamations were to be
read. They were not a moment too soon, and had but just pushed their way
to the front, near a convenient wall against which Jan might lean, when
Adrian Van der Werf, the dignified and honored Burgomaster of the city,
appeared on the stone steps high above the crowd. The Universal babel of
tongues immediately ceased, and the hush that followed was broken only
by the occasional booming of the Spanish guns battering at the walls of
the city. Then the Burgomaster began to speak:

"Men and women of Leyden, I am here to read to you two
proclamations,--one from our beloved William the Silent, Prince of
Orange-Nassau,--" here he was interrupted by loud and prolonged cheers
from the multitude, "--and one from His Majesty, King Philip the Second
of Spain." The absolute and scornful silence with which the people
received the last name was but a fitting indication of their hatred.

"I shall read the message from the Prince of Orange first." And while
the people listened in eager, respectful silence, he repeated to them
how their Prince and leader, whose headquarters were now at Delft and
Rotterdam, sympathized with them sincerely in their fresh trouble, and
how he deplored the fact that they had not followed his suggestion to
lay in large stocks of provisions and fortify their city while there had
been time in the months before the siege. The Prince reminded them that
they were now about to contend, not for themselves alone, but for all
future generations of their beloved land. The eyes of the world were
upon them. They would reap eternal glory, if they exhibited a courage
worthy of the cause of their liberty and religion. He implored them to
hold out for three months, in which time he would surely devise means
for their deliverance.

He warned them to take no heed of fair promises from the Spaniards if
they would surrender the city, reminding them of how these same soldiers
had behaved at the sieges of Naarden and Haarlem, when, in spite of
their declaration to let the citizens go out in peace, they had rushed
in and murdered every one as soon as the gates were opened. Finally, he
begged them to take a strict account of all the provisions in the city,
and be most saving and economical with food, lest it should fail them
before the siege was raised. When the message was ended the crowds
cheered themselves hoarse, and when the burgomaster inquired what word
they desired him to send the Prince, they shouted as with one voice:

"Tell him that while there is a living man left in the city we will
contend for our liberty and our religion!"

"And now," continued Adrian Van der Werf, "hear the proclamation of the
King of Spain. He invites all his erring and repentant subjects in the
Netherlands, and especially Leyden, to return to his service and he will
extend to them full forgiveness for all their crimes. He declares that
if any will lay down their arms, surrender themselves, and become his
loyal subjects once more, that they shall receive his pardon, and all
shall be forgotten. He has authorized General Valdez to say that if the
city will surrender at once, that the citizens shall be shown every
mercy." No sooner had the burgomaster ceased to speak, than old Jan Van
Buskirk raised his voice:

"It is a trap! Believe not in it!"

"Yes, yes! It is a trap!" stormed the multitude. "We will have none of
it! We will die to the last man, before we will surrender!"

"What right has that wretch of a Spanish King to offer _us_ pardon!"
growled Gysbert to his sister and Jan. "_He_ forgive us, indeed! And it
is he that has been doing all the wrong and committing all the crimes.
Many thanks to him, truly!"

"But what message is it your pleasure that I shall send in answer to
this?" asked the burgomaster.

"Tell him," roared Jan, who seemed to have constituted himself spokesman
for the people, "that the fowler plays sweet notes on his pipe, while
he spreads his net for the birds!"

"Aye, aye!" assented the crowd approvingly. "Tell him that!" "'Tis a
good answer," commented Van der Werf, "and I will send it as it stands.
Now who will take advantage of this pardon for himself? Let any who may
feel so inclined come forward at once, and they shall be sent out of the
gates to go their chosen ways in peace."

Another tense silence ensued. Each person stood his own ground stanchly,
and watched for any sign of wavering in his neighbor. Presently from out
the crowd there pushed a stout old man who finally gained the open space
before the burgomaster.

"I am a brewer of Utrecht," he announced. "I do not live in this city
and have no desire to maintain the siege. I wish to take advantage of
the King's pardon!"

"Be it as you wish, neighbor," answered Van der Werf. "Here are the
necessary papers. You shall pass out unmolested, at the opening of the
gate." The man received the papers, while the crowd looked on, muttering
in contemptuous undertones.

"And I," declared another who had shoved his way to the front, "will
also receive the pardon, if you please." Jacqueline grasped her
brother's arm convulsively.

"Dirk Willumhoog!" he whistled softly. "The city will be well rid of
him, to be sure, but what a coward!"

When the two men had been furnished with the proper credentials, the
burgomaster commanded them to proceed at once to the principal city
gate, where they would be dismissed to the Spanish army outside. But as
they made their way down the wide Breede Straat, the fury of the crowd
broke loose.

"Shame! Shame!" hissed the following throng. "Shame on the cowards who
desert their countrymen to join the despicable ranks of Spain! Thrice
shame on their accursed heads!" Straight to the walls of the city the
multitude pursued the fleeing men, now actually trembling for their
lives. The two children and old Jan, caught in the swirling throngs,
found themselves almost on the heels of the fugitives. Jan grunted and
spluttered his disapproval, but Gysbert seemed fairly boiling over in
his wrath, especially against Dirk Willumhoog.

The gate having been reached, it was opened but the smallest crack
available by the guarding soldiers. The brewer from Utrecht squeezed his
bulky form with difficulty through the narrow aperture, followed by the
howls of the crowd. But Gysbert could contain himself no longer.
Breaking away from his sister's grasp, he rushed up to the remaining
fugitive and shouted in his face:

"Shame on thee, Dirk Willumhoog, for a dog of a coward! Shame! shame!"
The man turned on him with so savage a countenance that Jacqueline could
not repress a frightened scream. The cry attracted the man's attention
to her also.

"You shall rue this, you two!" he vociferated. "You shall rue this day
forever,--and for more reasons than you now think! You shall rue it!"
And the closing gate shut his wicked features and his impotent rage from
their sight.



GYSBERT BECOMES A JUMPER



CHAPTER III

GYSBERT BECOMES A JUMPER


"Turn thy face a little more to the light, Jacqueline. I want to get a
full profile."

In the little living-room of the house in Belfry Lane, sat the two
children, on an evening a month after the events of the last chapter. On
one side of the table Vrouw Voorhaas bent over a huge pile of mending,
casting an occasional loving and solicitous glance at her two charges,
but otherwise quiet, silent and reserved. She was a woman of large,
almost masculine proportions, and her muscular frame knew not the
meaning of fatigue. Her features were plain and unprepossessing to a
degree, but nevertheless grave and intelligent. She was rarely known to
smile, and her manner was as that of one weighted down with a great
responsibility. Gysbert frequently told his sister that Vrouw Voorhaas
acted as though she had some dark secret on her mind, and Jacqueline was
forced to admit the truth of the remark. Her devotion to the children
was beyond question, yet she seldom exhibited any outward expression of
affection.

Jacqueline bent over a musty-looking old book, turning its pages
thoughtfully, and drawing her pretty brows together with a puzzled
expression at frequent intervals. Gysbert sat on the opposite side of
the table with pencil and paper before him, making a sketch of his
sister's head as she leaned over her book.

"What is it thou art reading so intently?" he demanded at length.

"'Tis an old volume that belonged to father's library,--the only book
that was not sold before we left Louvain," answered Jacqueline. Neither
she nor Gysbert noticed the startled glance with which Vrouw Voorhaas
raised her head at these words. Jacqueline continued:

"It seems to be all about medicine. Thou knowest how that subject
interests me, Gysbert. I long, when I grow up to practice the healing
art. I feel in some way as if the gift were in me."

"Poof!" said the boy. "Women are not fashioned to be physicians,--they
have other duties! Thou art mad, Jacqueline! Such business is not for
thee!"

"Ah! I know it is not considered a woman's business, and few if any have
tried it. Yet there is the famous Queen Marguerite of Navarre. They say
she is the wisest woman in France, for all she is so young, and knows
not only Latin, Greek and other languages, but much about medicine and
the healing art also! I have been reading in this old book, but I can
make little out of it, for there is much Latin in it, of which I
understand nothing. But it is my great hope that some day I shall study
all about it, even though I never become a physician."

While they were talking, Vrouw Voorhaas gathered up her work and without
a word, left the room. No sooner had she gone than Gysbert leaned across
the table, and spoke to his sister in a voice scarcely above a whisper:

"Jacqueline, now that Vrouw Voorhaas is out of the way, I want to tell
thee several things, some of which I learned to-day. One thing I have
fully made up my mind to do,--I am going to become a 'jumper'!"

"A 'jumper,' Gysbert! And what may that be?"

"Why, I might as well begin at the beginning and explain it all," he
answered. "Thou knowest the siege has lasted now for over a month, and
things are beginning to look black for us. There is no more bread in the
city, and but very little of the malt-cakes on which we are all now
living. Precious glad I am that we were fortunate enough to lay in an
extra stock of seeds for our pigeons, or we should soon be reduced to
feeding on _them_!

"Well, I was in the square before the statehouse this morning, and
through listening to and taking part in some of the gossip there, I
learned a few things. In the first place, our good William the Silent
cannot possibly raise a sufficient army to encounter the besieging
troops of the Spaniards, that's plain. Relief must come in some other
way, but how, God alone knows! However, our wonderful Prince is wise and
resourceful. Let us not despair, but trust him to save us, and do our
best to help.

"Jacqueline, I am going to do _my_ part! To-morrow I go to Burgomaster
Van der Werf, to offer myself as a 'jumper.' Let me tell thee what that
means. The Prince wants a few swift, skillful messengers who will go out
of the gates secretly, in some kind of disguise, and make their way
through the Spanish forces to him. Now I am young, I know, but I am big
and strong, and I know my way around the walls and outside the city as
well and perhaps better than anyone in Leyden. And I want to _do_
something! I can't sit around idle while all are helping in one way or
another. Why dost thou look so white and frightened, Jacqueline?"

"Ah, Gysbert! thou must _not_ do this! Thou wilt surely be captured and
killed. Ah! I cannot allow it, nor will Vrouw Voorhaas!"

"Vrouw Voorhaas must not know of it,--at least at first. And thou must
not interfere with me, dear sister. I know that our father, were he
alive, would approve of my decision. Did he not always tell us to be
courageous, and would he not wish us to serve our city in this great
distress?" This argument silenced Jacqueline's remonstrances.

"Do what thou wilt, Gysbert, since thou thinkest that our father would
approve, only be not rash, and have a care for thy life. What would I
do if thou wert taken from me, brother?"

"I will be most cautious, sister, never fear for that!"

"But how shall we keep it from Vrouw Voorhaas? She would lock thee in a
room and never let thee out, did she but dream of thy decision!"

"Thou mayst tell her that I am out helping with the defence of the city,
if I fail to come back for too long a period. That will be the strict
truth, yet not enough to alarm her seriously," answered Gysbert.

"How absurdly worried and careful she has been about us, since the day
we told her of the King's Pardon and Dirk Willumhoog! She turned deathly
white at the mention of his name, and I thought she was going to faint
when we told her what he said before he left the gate. Dost thou
remember, Gysbert?"

"Aye, but let me tell thee something else, Jacqueline. What dost thou
think of this? I saw Dirk Willumhoog in the city this morning!"

"Gysbert! thou art surely joking! That cannot be possible. Since he was
expelled from the city, how could he get back?"

"Ask me not how he got back, for I do not know. But the best of it is
that he did not see me, and he was so disguised that had it not been for
certain circumstances, I should never have known him. I had strolled up
Hengist Hill after leaving the Breede Straat, and had climbed into a
tree to get a better view of the Spanish army outside the walls. I was
sitting in the branches very quietly, when a man in a long cloak and big
slouching hat came out of the grove and sat down right under my tree.
Thinking himself alone, he took off his hat, threw aside his cloak, and
then to my great surprise, pulled off the thick beard that covered his
face!

"'Ah, but it is hot!' I heard him mutter. Then he stood up and stretched
his arms, and I all but lost my hold and fell out of the tree when I
recognized who it was! He sat down again and rested for half an hour,
and I thought he would never go. Fortunately he did not once think of
looking up or he would have certainly seen me. At last he donned his
beard, hat and cloak, and sneaked off never dreaming who had watched his
every movement! I would give a good round florin to know what he is
after!"

"Ah, I am sure it is some harm to us, he is plotting!" shuddered
Jacqueline. "Dost thou recall his look of hate on that dreadful day,
Gysbert? He has some reason for wishing us evil."

"That may or may not be," answered Gysbert. "At any rate, I think he can
do us but little harm. However, thou shouldst be careful about going
abroad in the city alone, Jacqueline. Thou art not as strong as I."

"I go nowhere except to purchase our small allowance of food--thou
knowst Vrouw Voorhaas never goes out at all now--and to visit poor Jan
Van Buskirk once a day, and take him some soothing medicine. He says
that nothing helps him like the decoction of my herbs, and nothing
charms away his pain like the touch of my hands. Dost thou know,
Gysbert, that he has been obliged to kill and eat most of his pigeons
since food has been so short? I know not what he will do when they are
gone!"

"We will share our food with him, Jacqueline. He has always been so kind
to us, and taught us how to raise and train our pigeons. But now, let us
to rest! It is late, and I must see Burgomaster Van der Werf early
to-morrow."

Poor Jacqueline's sleep that night was restless and tormented by
frightful dreams in which Gysbert's new and dangerous vocation, and the
evil face of Dirk Willumhoog bore no inconspicuous part. Gysbert, on the
contrary, slept sweetly and undisturbed as a year old baby, and rose
next morning betimes to seek what fortune he should meet in this new
enterprise.

Adrian Van der Werf sat alone in his great office in the statehouse. His
fine face was clouded with an expression of intense gloom, and he shook
his head gravely as he looked out over the besieged city. Was this fair
spot to fall a prey to Spanish vengeance, as its sister cities had
fallen? He saw no hope in present prospects, for a better fate.
Presently an official opened the door and saluted him:

"A small boy outside wishes to speak with your Worship."

"Admit him," answered the burgomaster. "I am not engaged at present."
Glancing up as Gysbert entered, his face lighted with a smile of
recognition.

"Ah! thou art the boy who warned us of the approach of the Spaniards!
Thou art a brave and thoughtful lad. What can I do for thee?"

"Your Worship, I have a request to make," answered Gysbert promptly. "I
wish to serve my city by becoming a 'jumper?'"

"A jumper--_thou_! But thou art scarce fourteen years of age, if I judge
rightly. It would be wicked to expose one so young to such dangers!"
exclaimed the astonished burgomaster.

"Aye, your Worship, you have guessed my age correctly. But I am strong
and agile, and know the walls and outlying districts well. Moreover, I
have a plan that I trust will take me safely through the Spanish lines."

"And what may be that plan!" demanded Van der Werf, more and more
amazed.

"This," answered the boy. "I shall stain my skin and hair darker with
walnut juice, that I may not be recognized. And pretending to be
somewhat half-witted, I shall go out among the Spanish troops peddling
healing herbs. My sister raises many such in her little garden and has
taught me much of their use. In this way I can most likely get through
the lines, unsuspected and unmolested, and deliver any message to your
faithful ones who are beyond."

"It is a clever scheme!" admitted the wondering burgomaster. "And if
thou dost act thy part well, thou wilt be fairly safe."

"Likewise," added Gysbert, "I have some carrier pigeons that have been
exceedingly well-trained, and perchance could make them of use also."

"The very thing!" exclaimed Van der Werf. "Our stock of carrier pigeons
waxes very low, having either died of starvation, or been eaten. I have
been wondering where I should find well-fed, well-trained birds to fill
their place. Canst thou take a couple at a time with thee? I must needs
send some to William the Silent at Delft, else we will get no more
messages from him."

"Aye, I can bind two and take them at the bottom of my bag of herbs,"
answered Gysbert. "I will wager for it that they shall be delivered
safely." Adrian Van der Werf spent a moment in silent consideration.

"Thou art a brave and clever youth," he said. "But thou must know that
thou art risking much in this hazardous enterprise. However, God will
watch over those who serve Him. Come to me to-morrow bringing two
carrier pigeons, and I will instruct thee as to the message." And
Gysbert, highly pleased, departed for Belfry Lane, whistling lustily one
of the popular songs of the day:

  "Beat the drums gaily,
  "Bub-dub a dub-dee!
  "Beat the drums gaily,
  "And the Spaniards will flee!"



IN THE CAMP OF THE ENEMY



CHAPTER IV

IN THE CAMP OF THE ENEMY


In the cold gray mist of earliest dawn, Gysbert crept silently through
one of the city gates. So changed was his appearance that his own sister
would scarcely have known him, had she not assisted in effecting his
disguise, late the night before. His straight light hair had assumed a
dark brown color, and his fresh rosy complexion had suddenly become as
swarthy as any Spaniard's. His Dutch blouse, cap and wooden sabots were
exchanged for garments of a more foreign cut, and in his hand he bore a
large bag of assorted herbs, both green and dried.

Thanks to an almost daily study of the Spanish camp from his perch on
Hengist Hill, he had selected the most favorable quarter for his egress
through the enemies' ranks--the situation farthest removed from the
headquarters of commander Valdez.

The camp had very much the appearance of a little city of mushroom
growth--rows upon rows of tents, and here and there a hut of larger
proportions hastily constructed of boards. In the middle of one tented
street had been erected a rude shrine protected by an awning, at which
knelt a priest celebrating the early morning mass. The tinkle of the
silver bell calling to service was the only sound that broke the
silence. Gysbert proceeded cautiously, rejoicing at every step that took
him unmolested on his way, when suddenly a rough command arrested his
progress:

"Halt! The password! What art thou doing here?"

"_Requesens!_" answered Gysbert glibly, thanking his stars that the
burgomaster had not failed to inform him of the Spanish password for the
day. Van der Werf had two or three trusted spies in the Spanish army,
who kept him well posted as to their daily plans and watchwords.

"_Requesens!_ is correct enough," replied the sentinel, "but who art
thou, and where art thou going so early?"

"I am a Glipper," answered Gysbert in a sing-song nasal voice. "I come
from the city. We are starving there. I sell these healing herbs in
order to get some food." Now a Glipper was the name given to any
Hollander who sympathized with Spain, and they were as a rule very
favorably regarded by the Spaniards. Gysbert, being naturally truthful,
disliked exceedingly to thus falsify himself, but consoled his
conscience with the motto--'All's fair in war.' The sentinel looked him
over suspiciously, but concluded that he had not the appearance of a
genuine, out-and-out Dutch boy. Moreover, it was evident from his speech
and expression that he was not blessed with more than half the usual
quantity of wits.

"Well, little fool, I will let thee pass, provided thou wilt supply me
with something healing for this wound in my hand where the gunpowder
from my musket burned me, yesterday morn." Gysbert hunted in his bag,
brought out a small bundle of dried leaves, and recited as if by rote:

"Thou shalt steep these in boiling water. Thou shalt make a poultice
with the leaves thus steeped. Thou shalt bind it on thy wound. In two
days thou shalt be better."

"Thanks, little numbskull! Thy poultice and not thy wits have saved
thee! And now, cut away quickly!" Availing himself not too hastily of
the permission, Gysbert strolled away as if there were not a thought of
danger in his mind. But no sooner was he out of sight of the sentinel
than he took to his heels and ran swiftly and silently through the still
sleeping camp.

"If only I can reach the outskirts before they waken, all will be well!"
he thought. Once again only, at the edge of the encampment, he was
challenged by another sentry. But the password given, he was allowed to
go on without question, by a sentinel whose one sleepy thought was the
bed into which he hoped soon to turn. Once on the high-road to Delft,
Gysbert's troubles were for the time over, and he abandoned himself to a
leisurely walk, and to the enjoyment of his breakfast, a stale malt-cake
which he munched contentedly as he trudged along.

Then the sun rose, the morning mist evaporated, and the waters of the
canal sparkled like jewels in the clear air of the July day. A lazy boat
with one big brown sail edged its way slowly along the canal in the
direction of Delft.

"I might as well save my strength," argued Gysbert to himself, "and what
is more, I have time in quantities to spare. Hi!--Herr Captain, I pray
you take me on your gallant bark!" The captain looked up from a sail he
was mending, and scanned the boy from head to foot.

"I like thee not," he answered. "Thou hast too much of the Spaniard
about thee, little frog! Thine own two good feet can carry thee!"
Gysbert was secretly delighted that his disguise was so effective, but
hastened to add:

"Good Herr Captain, you are much mistaken. Look you!" And from the
bottom of his bag he pulled out two pigeons bound and helpless.

"These be carriers!" he announced. "I am commissioned by Burgomaster Van
der Werf to take them to our Prince at Delft. Also I have a message, but
that is in my mind." Instantly the captain's surly manner changed.

"Come aboard! Come thou aboard!" he called heartily. "Thou art a small
lad but a clever one. Here, catch this plank!" In two minutes Gysbert,
comfortably ensconced in the stern, had curled himself up to finish the
morning nap, with which his early expedition had seriously interfered.
In due time this easy-going vessel reached the Gate St. Catherine, the
principal entrance to Delft, and Gysbert disembarking, thanked the
good-natured captain for his assistance.

"No thanks to me, youngster," replied the man. "It's all for the good
cause, and my name is Joris Fruytiers, shouldst thou ever meet me and
need my help again."

Gysbert set off with all speed to the _Prinsenhof_, the palace where
William the Silent held his headquarters. One of the boy's greatest
desires in life was to see and speak with this great Father of his
country, the Prince of Orange, who had been for several years his hero
and idol. Hence his errand was all the more delightful to him since it
was to afford him this coveted opportunity.

But this time he was doomed to disappointment. The Prince was away at
Rotterdam, and his commissioner, Paul Buys, took the message in his
stead. It was to the effect that the people of Leyden implored immediate
help. They were on the point of facing starvation, and feared lest the
weaker ones would lose courage and yield up the city. Paul Buys sent
word back to Van der Werf that the Prince of Orange was on the point of
putting into execution a scheme of release that he had long been
considering, and would send word by one of the carrier pigeons when he
was ready to put it into effect.

Buys then told Gysbert that hereafter he would not have to come as far
as Delft with the pigeons, but could leave them at the farmhouse of
Julius Van Shaick, not far beyond Leyden, from whence they would be
conveyed to Delft in safety. Before the boy left for his homeward
journey, Buys superintended him in the disposal of such a meal as he had
not seen for many a long day, and he sighed only that he could not
convey some of it to Jacqueline and Vrouw Voorhaas.

Trusting to no slow-moving canal vessel, but relying mainly on the
swiftness of his strong young legs, he accomplished the fifteen miles
back to Leyden in four hours, and at nightfall reached once more the
outskirts of the Spanish camp. But his passage through the enemy's midst
was not destined to be as uneventful as that of the morning.

The camp streets were bustling with life and activity. Soldiers
promenaded up and down, women--the few who had chosen to follow their
husbands' fortunes--called to each other shrilly from the tent-doors,
and even some children ran hither and thither in garments of startling
untidiness. Gysbert hoped to escape notice in the general confusion, but
in this he was mistaken. A sudden hand was laid in no gentle manner on
his shoulder, and a voice from behind demanded:

"The password!"

"_Requesens!_" he replied confidently.

"In that thou art much in error!" answered the soldier. "Dost thou think
that the password does not change from day to day? Thou art twelve
hours too late. Come thou with me!" and he led Gysbert to the door of a
tent which was empty and lighted only by a large fire outside.

"Here, Alonzo de Rova!" he called to a burly sentinel. "Guard this young
interloper till I have time to report him to Commander Valdez."

"Now," thought Gysbert, "I _am_ caught in earnest! But without seeming
to possess any wits, I will try to use those the good God has given me
as skillfully as I can." Alonzo de Rova paced up and down before the
tent door for a time, apparently utterly ignoring the boy, yet in
reality watching him keenly.

Gysbert on his part kept his eyes well open, yet assumed the vacant gaze
he had attempted in the morning. Presently he took up a charred stick
from the fire that happened to lie near him, and with it commenced to
make some strokes on the white canvas of the tent.

"What art thou doing?" demanded De Rova, and he drew near curiously to
examine the marks.

"Why, by the Pope!" he exclaimed. "It is myself--my very self as I stand
here with my musket! Thou canst indeed draw, little stranger! Who art
thou?"

"I am a Glipper," repeated Gysbert monotonously. "I sell healing herbs.
I also can draw."

"Art thou indeed a Glipper? Well, that is not so bad! And look thou
here! Canst draw a good portrait of me on fine paper?"

"Aye, I can!" answered Gysbert in his adopted nasal tone.

"Well, thou hast evidently not all the wits that God usually gives us,
but thou shalt try," said De Rova, and he drew from his belongings a
sheet of paper, and what stood for a pencil in those days.

[Illustration: Gysbert draws the Portrait of Alonzo de Rova]

"Draw me well, little Glipper! Make of me a fine figure, for I wish to
send it to my sweetheart in Madrid, and we will see what can be done for
thee!" Drawing himself up to his full height he assumed a martial
position, ready for the likeness. He was truly a splendid specimen of a
soldier, and evidently very proud of his magnificent proportions.
Gysbert seized the pencil and paper, and went to work with a will. Never
had he striven so hard to give satisfaction, never had so much been at
stake, never had his art stood him in such good stead. When the picture
was finished Alonzo de Rova was profuse in expressing his wonder and
delight, and slipped a coin into the boy's hand.

"And now, little artist, fly! Slip away under the back of the tent, when
I am not looking and no one will be the wiser. The captain who caught
thee is a good friend of mine, and beside I will tell him thou art a
Glipper. Remember Alonzo de Rova, and if thou dost ever come to the camp
again I will put thee in the way of earning a pretty penny, for there
are many like me who would gladly sit for their portraits. I doubt not
but that thou couldst make a florin a day at that work. One more word
of advice--the password for to-night is _Phillip_. Farewell!" With that
he turned his back on the boy and commenced pacing up and down before
the fire.

Gysbert lost not a moment's time, but acting on the friendly soldier's
suggestion slipped out through a loose flap at the back of the tent.
Thanks to the now dense darkness and his knowledge of the password, he
escaped safely through the camp to the Cow Gate, where giving a peculiar
knock previously concerted between himself and the gatekeeper, he once
more stood secure within the city walls. Speeding homeward to Belfry
Lane he murmured to himself:

"I have accomplished the mission without mishap, and have also made two
friends. On the whole, I think I have not done so badly!"



THE DECISION OF JACQUELINE



CHAPTER V

THE DECISION OF JACQUELINE


On the morning of Gysbert's first venture into the midst of the enemy,
Jacqueline rose with a very heavy heart. She helped her brother with the
last preparations for his departure, aided him in escaping the vigilant
eye of Vrouw Voorhaas who was already at work though the hour was so
early, and bade him a tearful farewell as he sped down the silent
street. But her mind was full of foreboding, and she felt as though she
could never live through the time till he should return in safety. To
pass the weary hours and otherwise occupy her thoughts, she assisted
Vrouw Voorhaas with the daily routine of housework, cleaned the
pigeon-house, and fed her eighteen remaining pets with a scanty supply
of their rapidly diminishing stock of corn.

Vrouw Voorhaas had many questions to ask concerning the whereabouts of
Gysbert whom she had not seen that day. Jacqueline parried these as best
she could, explaining that he had gone off early to execute some errands
for Burgomaster Van der Werf. Her companion, unconvinced that all was as
it should be, and vaguely uneasy about her youngest charge, accepted the
explanation somewhat distrustfully. To change the subject Jacqueline
began to talk about their supply of food and to make plans for
husbanding it to the last crumb. While she was talking her gaze suddenly
riveted itself on the tall form of the older woman.

"Why Vrouw Voorhaas," she exclaimed, "how thin thou art growing! See,
thy dress dost hang about thee in great folds, and thine arms almost
show the bones! Surely we have not yet come to the pass when such loss
of flesh would be noticeable! What hast thou been doing?"

"Nothing, nothing, child!" exclaimed the woman hastily. "I eat as
heartily as our supply of food will permit, but the hot weather always
did reduce my flesh. Hurry away now, and see what thou canst purchase at
the market, but try not to be seen too prominently. Young people are not
too safe in the streets in these wild times. Art going to visit old Jan
to-day?"

"Yes," answered Jacqueline. "He grows worse and worse, though I do my
best to aid him. There seems to be something else ailing him beside just
his lumbago, but I cannot quite make out what it is, and he will not see
a physician. I will go out and gather some fresh herbs now to take with
me."

The girl took her little basket and went out to her patch of garden at
the back of the house. Gay flowers bloomed in one half of it, but the
other was devoted to the cultivation of the medicinal herbs whose
healing properties she had carefully studied in the old book belonging
to her father. First she gathered a sweet-smelling bouquet of late roses
and jasmine to cheer the eyes of old Jan, and then stooping among the
herbs selected those most calculated to help his poor infirm body. When
this was done she re-entered the house, added some malt-cakes and a
bottle of Vrouw Voorhaas's cooling homemade wine, and proceeded on her
errand of comfort.

Jan Van Buskirk's home was on a tiny street just off the
Marendorfstrasse, and to reach it Jacqueline was obliged to take a
rather circuitous route that led through the poorest section of the
city. What she saw there on that day tore her gentle heart with an agony
of sympathy. The weather was extremely hot and oppressive, and every one
seemed to have sought the coolness of the shaded street in preference to
the little suffocating rooms. Pale, emaciated children thronged the
doorways, many gnawing on dry unsightly bones from which the last
vestige of meat had long since disappeared. Sick babies wailed
fretfully, white, haggard men and women strove in vain to comfort them.
And here and there lay stretched on an improvised cot the form of some
person desperately ill, moaning piteously. Jacqueline contrasted the
scene with these same comfortable, happy people of a few months before
and her heart grew rebellious at the mighty suffering entailed in just
the little word "war." "Is there no help,--no help for it?" she asked
herself.

Jan Van Buskirk was worse, unquestionably worse than when she had
visited him before, and his condition alarmed her seriously. He was
tossing from side to side, rolling his head feverishly, and muttering
incoherent words; nor did he seem in the least to recognize his little
friend. Jacqueline quietly determined that it was high time he had more
expert medical advice than she could offer, and went out hastily to
seek the nearest physician. Dr. Pieter de Witt was hard to find for his
duties were long and arduous in these dreadful days, but finally she
discovered him in the house of a poor family all sick but the mother who
could hardly drag herself around. Hearing Jacqueline's errand he made
haste to accompany her. One glance at the unconscious Jan told him the
tale.

"My girl," he said, turning to Jacqueline, "go away from here as
speedily as thou canst. This man has the plague. It has broken out in
several parts of the city, owing to bad food or none at all, and this
man has caught it. Thou art exposing thyself to a terrible disease and
almost certain death. This is no place for thee. Go home, and I will
take care of the man to the best of my ability, but I doubt if he will
live, even so."

Jacqueline's eyes opened wide with a startled look, and she glanced
uncertainly at Jan. The sick man stirred restlessly, then with a sudden
cry muttered her name in his feverish sleep. At that word the girl
formed her decision.

"I will not go, Dr. de Witt. This man has been a friend to me and mine
ever since I can remember. I do not fear the plague, and even if I did
it would not keep me from giving all the aid I could to Jan Van Buskirk.
Moreover, I know a little about medicine myself, having read it in an
old book in my possession. I have raised healing herbs, and I also
possess one which has the power, they say, to protect from such diseases
if carried about the person. I will always have it by me, for I wish to
help you in nursing this my friend back to life and health." Dr. de Witt
looked her over for a moment in silent astonishment. Then he spoke:

"Thou art a brave maiden, whoever thou art, and I would that there were
many more like thee! Help me thou shalt if such is thy determination,
and the good God will bless thee and protect thee from all harm. There
is much in having absolutely no fear of this contagion, and I see thou
hast none. With thy help we may perhaps save our old friend and
neighbor." Together they labored over the old man, and before he left,
the doctor expressed his amazed approval of the skill and knowledge
exhibited by this fair slip of a girl in tending and administering to
the sick. Beyond this too, something in her manner, her look and her
speech indefinably recalled to him old recollections.

"Thou dost constantly put me in mind of some one," he remarked finally.
"Hadst thou ever any relation who was a physician? What is thy father?"

"I have no father," answered the girl with the reticence she had learned
to exhibit through Vrouw Voorhaas's teaching. "He is long since dead."

"But what is thy last name?" persisted the good doctor.

"Coovenden," replied Jacqueline with the hesitancy she could never
quite overcome in pronouncing this assumed title.

"Coovenden? Ah, it is not a name that I recognize--and yet there is
something,--I know not what, which stirs me!" And he went away shaking
his head thoughtfully. On her way home Jacqueline stopped at the public
market to purchase what scarce supply of provisions she was able to
obtain.

"But this is a miserable little cabbage!" she expostulated mildly to the
huckster who served her. "And see! this mutton-bone has scarce any meat
upon it. 'Twill be watery soup that is made from this mess!"

"And lucky thou art to have any soup at all!" answered the market-woman.
"I tell thee, girl, the time is coming when we shall be glad to eat the
grass that grows in the streets, and that's not far distant, either. I,
for one would gladly see the gates opened to the Spaniards. They are
better at least than slow starvation!" Jacqueline shrank away from her
at these words so like disloyalty to the great cause, and hurried home
with the news she had to tell.

As the day wore on, Vrouw Voorhaas became more and more uneasy about
Gysbert, and questioned his sister so closely about his absence that she
had hard work quieting the woman's fears and at the same time hiding the
truth about him. She herself was beset by more definite terrors for his
safety than Vrouw Voorhaas could even guess, and though she did not
expect Gysbert before nightfall, counted the moments with
ever-increasing agitation.

Then darkness came and the two partook of their frugal supper, laying
aside a generous portion for the boy. One by one the stars twinkled out.
Jacqueline, sitting by the window tried to count them to distract her
thoughts. Her mind reverted again and again to the scenes of the
morning, and the pictures of the suffering she had witnessed would not
fade from her consciousness. As she sat leaning her head against the
casement, she was suddenly startled by having two hands clapped over her
eyes, and a voice whispering in her ear:

"Guess who it is!"

"Gysbert!" she exclaimed. "How didst thou get in?"

"Hush! I slipped in through the garden and climbed to my window up the
rose-trellis. I did not want Vrouw Voorhaas to see my disguise, and have
washed it all off and changed my clothes. Where is she?"

"In her room," answered his sister, "and right anxious about thee, I can
warrant! But tell me all about it, Gysbert!"

In hasty sentences the boy told her of his day's adventures. She
listened with breathless interest, and shuddered not a few times at the
narrowness of his escapes. Then she recounted to him her own
experiences, and told of Jan Van Buskirk's illness and danger. When she
had finished they sat together in the darkness for a long time without
speaking. Finally Jacqueline took her brother's hand in hers and said:

"Gysbert, thine own bravery and the dark scenes I have witnessed to-day
have set me thinking, and to-night I have made my resolve. Since thou
hast given thyself to the dangerous task of assisting our beloved city,
I, too, can do no less than devote myself to the relief of some of its
suffering. To-morrow I shall seek Dr. de Witt and ask him to allow me to
accompany him in his visits to the sick and starving. I can aid in
nursing them, at least, since God has given me that power."

Gysbert returned his sister's clasp, but continued in silence for some
moments. Truth to tell, he was struggling with a lump that had risen in
his throat, and was glad that the darkness hid the tears that had
gathered under his lashes. The experience of the last few days and weeks
had helped to give him a poise beyond his years, but his admiration for
his sister's quiet courage almost deprived him of words with which to
express it. Presently, however, he got up and put his arms around her
neck.

"Jacqueline," he said, trying to master the huskiness in his voice,
"thou art very brave. I would rather go ten times into the heart of the
Spanish army, than once into a room with the plague. But thou art right.
It is thy destined work since thou hast chosen it, and our father, were
he here, would surely say, 'Well done!'"



THE COMING OF THE FIRST PIGEON



CHAPTER VI

THE COMING OF THE FIRST PIGEON


The middle of August found the conditions in Leyden in no way improved
but rather the worse, being just so many weeks nearer starvation. The
poor had reached a point where they were indeed glad to get what
nourishment they might from the grass that grew in the streets, and even
the leaves from the trees that shaded the canals. Even the rich now
suffered from the scantiness of provisions, and were fain to draw in
their belts tightly to lessen the gnawing of constant hunger.

Jacqueline and Gysbert had lost their fresh, rosy complexions and the
roundness of their youthful curves, and looked white and thin. Yet they
still fared better than some. Gysbert had made seven trips through the
Spanish lines, each time bearing away two carrier pigeons, and bringing
back when he could, a little supply of fresh food in his bag. The six
remaining birds they had decided to kill and eat, one a week, so that
they might have at least a taste of fresh untainted meat occasionally.
It had cost Jacqueline many a pang to thus sacrifice her pets, but she
could not see her dear ones suffer when it was in her power to give them
food.

Gysbert's latest excursion outside the city walls had been successful,
and without any of the excitement that had attended his first trip. He
had chosen an entirely different quarter through which to pass, had met
with either a friendly reception or indifference from those he met, and
who freely purchased his herbs. He was taken without question for a
Glipper, as he had announced himself to be, and his presence soon became
a familiar figure in their midst. Then too, these expeditions were of
much shorter duration than his first, since instead of travelling all
the way to Delft, he had only to leave his message and the pigeons at
the farmhouse of Julius Van Schaick, a short distance from the city. He
had thus far managed also to escape the vigilance of Vrouw Voorhaas, who
now accepted without question the explanation of his executing errands
for the burgomaster.

And what of Jacqueline? Plague now raged through all the poorer sections
of the city,--a dread disease brought on by improper nourishment or none
at all. Dr. de Witt and Jacqueline went their daily rounds, cheering,
comforting, and administering medicine and nourishment on every side.
Never was a presence more welcome in a sick room than that of the slim,
fair girl whom many in their delirium took to be an angel. Never was a
touch more deft, light and soothing than hers.

By her tender care, Jan Van Buskirk had been nursed through the awful
scourge. He was still as weak as a baby, yet able to crawl about his
room listlessly, and inquire after the progress of the siege. His
admiration for, and devotion to the girl who had brought him safely
through his peril was beyond all expression, and he did little else when
she was near, than follow her with his eyes in an ecstasy of dumb
admiration.

Vrouw Voorhaas utterly disapproved of Jacqueline's mission to the sick,
and spared no pains to make her disapproval known. She was constantly in
terror lest the girl herself should become infected, and scolded,
muttered and sighed whenever Jacqueline prepared to go out. But the
young girl's determination was too firm to be shaken by the older
woman's expostulations, and her interest and devotion to the work had
grown with her increasing responsibility. Dr. de Witt secretly marvelled
at her quiet firmness, skill, and unflinching courage. More and more did
he rack his brains to elucidate the mystery of her strange resemblance
to someone he had once known or seen, but without result.

"Jacqueline, come up to Hengist Hill with me," said Gysbert one hot,
oppressive day about the twentieth of August. "Thou dost look white and
tired, and needest a little change of air, and besides I want to talk to
thee."

"Ah, Gysbert, the day is too hot, and I am very tired! Let us rest here
in the house instead," replied the girl wearily.

"Nay, the air is fresh and cool on the hill, and I have yet another
reason for the expedition. Come with me and thou wilt not regret it."
Yielding to his wish, Jacqueline accompanied him through the blazing,
sun-baked streets, striving for once not to see the misery that now lay
open to the daylight all about them. But Gysbert was right,--the Hill
was a decided improvement on the heated atmosphere of the town. The
grove was cool and pleasant and a refreshing breeze swept the summit.
They sat down in the shadow of the old fortress, and drew in great
breaths of the life-giving salt air.

"Ah, it is good to be here!" exclaimed Gysbert. "Art thou not glad we
came, Jacqueline? And now let me ask a question. Answer truly! What hast
thou had to eat to-day?"

"Oh, I had plenty!" answered the girl evasively. "The weather is so hot
that I cannot eat much."

"Now, look thou here!" he replied. "For breakfast this morning we had
some watery gruel of our pigeon grain, and a thin slice of malt-cake
apiece. I saw thee eat the gruel, but the cake disappeared quickly in
some mysterious way. Jacqueline, didst thou save it to take to Jan?"

"Well, yes, I suppose so," she faltered, cornered so cleverly that she
could not deny it.

"Very well!" replied Gysbert with decision. "Then I will tell him the
next time I go there, that thou art starving thyself to feed him!"

"No, no, Gysbert!" she cried in genuine alarm, "thou must not do that!
It would grieve him unto death, for I have told him that we have
plenty."

"Ah! does that worry thee? Then if thou wilt do something to please
_me_, I promise not to tell him."

"Yes, yes," said Jacqueline eagerly. "Anything, Gysbert, will I do if
thou wilt only keep that secret!" The boy did not answer, but running to
the wall of the fortress, lifted a good-sized stone and took from the
hollow underneath something which he brought to his sister. It was the
legs and body of a wild rabbit which had been prepared and cooked
evidently before an open fire.

"Why, Gysbert!" exclaimed Jacqueline in astonishment. "Where didst thou
get this?"

"I brought down the rabbit with a stone, here on the Hill early this
morning. Then I skinned him, dressed him, built a fire and roasted him
before it, and hid him away in a cool place for our treat this
afternoon. Thou must eat exactly half of it now, or I will tell Jan all
about thy deception."

"But Vrouw Voorhaas!" said the girl, doubtfully. "We ought to take some
of it to her."

"Nay," he answered. "I have watched her, and I know what she does, also.
She would thank us and put it aside, only to present it to us at another
meal, saying she could not eat it herself. And what is more, she never
would eat it, if we left it till it rotted away, so we might just as
well finish it now."

Together they divided the doubtful dainty, and devoured it as though it
were the perfection of epicurean cookery; never did a meal taste sweeter
to these half-famished children, as they sat nibbling the last vestige
of meat from the bones, and feeling new life renewed within them.

"Now," said Gysbert, when they had finished, "let me tell thee all about
my last trip through the besieging lines yesterday, and the messages I
bore. Mynheer Van der Werf sent very discouraged word to our good Prince
of Orange. The city, he said, was on the brink of starvation, the bread
was gone, and the malt-cakes would hold out but four days more.
Moreover, the people had fulfilled the promise made in the beginning of
the siege,--they had held out two months with food and one month
without, and human strength could do no more.

"Mynheer Paul Buys, himself, was at the farmhouse and took the message
and the pigeons. He said the number of birds was now sufficient and I
need bring no more unless these should all return before the siege was
over. Then he sent by word of mouth, this reply to the burgomaster. 'The
Prince begs you to hold out a few days more, as his scheme for relief
has already begun to be put into execution. In a day or two a carrier
pigeon will come from him telling all about it.'

"Jacqueline, I have guessed what that relief is going to be! A few
chance words dropped by Mynheer Buys and an exclamation from the
burgomaster has made me certain of it. Ah! it is a great thought,--great
indeed!--and like our wonderful Prince to dare it. Canst thou imagine
what it is?"

"Nay," said the girl, wonderingly, "I cannot."

"Look!" cried Gysbert, pointing in the direction of the ocean. "Dost
thou see that huge bulk across the Rhine about five miles from here?
That is the greatest outer barrier, the Land-scheiding. See how it keeps
back the ocean? Dost thou guess now what is happening?"

"Not,--" hesitated the girl, "not that the dykes have been pierced!"

"Just that! just that!" cried her brother. "Is it not wonderful? The
Prince is calling the ocean to his aid, since he cannot raise an army.
The Spaniards will drown like rats in a tank!" Jacqueline looked
doubtful, and not quite convinced.

"But the land!" she said. "It will ruin all the farms and crops between
here and the ocean. And think of all the labor that has been spent on
the dykes to shut out the sea. When will they ever be able to rebuild
these barriers and shut out the waters?"

"That will all come in good time," he replied. "First, it is most
important to get rid of this Spanish pest. Did I not hear Mynheer Van
der Werf himself mutter, 'Better a drowned land than a lost one!' It was
this exclamation that put me on the track."

"Dost say that the Prince sends word that the scheme is already begun?"
asked Jacqueline.

"Yes, and I think I know what he has done. Mynheer Buys was telling me
that he has but lately been to Kappelle and Schiedam. I will wager that
they have pierced the dykes all the way from here to Rotterdam, and even
as far as Kappelle. But the tide does not rise high at this time of the
year, and there is only an east wind, so that the water flows in slowly.
But see! see!" and he pointed far off in the sky, where a tiny speck
floated,--a mere golden moat in the sunshine. "I feel certain that is one
of our pigeons, Jacqueline. He flies like 'William of Orange.'"

"Thou hast good eyes, Gysbert! I can see nothing but a faint speck. Let
us watch it, though." Together they waited in breathless suspense, while
the speck drew nearer and assumed more definite shape.

"Look how the left wing droops a trifle. I _know_ that is 'William of
Orange'!" cried Gysbert. In an incredibly short time the bird had passed
the limits of the city wall, had drawn closer and closer, and at last
passed directly over their heads.

So close to the summit of the Hill was its flight that they could
faintly hear the whir of its wings. When it was close above them, all
doubt as to its identity vanished, and besides, it was making straight
in the direction of Belfry Lane. Without waiting a moment they rushed
down the hill, their bodies refreshed by their meal of none too well
cooked rabbit meat, their courage restored by the hope of speedy
deliverance for the city.

They found when they reached the house that the pigeon had been long
before them, Vrouw Voorhaas declaring that she had let it in some half
an hour previously. Up to the dove-cote they clambered, breathless and
excited, to behold "William of Orange" strutting about proudly, preening
his ruffled feathers, and cooing plaintively to be fed. Gysbert found a
message tied about the bird's leg. As fast as his feet would carry him,
he flew to the statehouse to deliver the precious bit of paper into the
hands of Adrian Van der Werf. But Jacqueline with a handful of corn
coaxed the weary messenger to alight on her arm. When he had eaten his
fill, she cuddled his head under her soft chin, and stroked his
brilliant plumage.

"'William of Orange,'" she crooned, "thou art well-called. The city owes
much to thee, and to thy great namesake!"



A SWIM IN THE CANAL AND WHAT CAME OF IT



CHAPTER VII

A SWIM IN THE CANAL AND WHAT CAME OF IT


The message brought by the pigeon proved to be word direct from the
Prince of Orange himself to the people of Leyden. He implored them to
take courage, and explained what means he had taken to effect their
relief. The plan was what Gysbert had suspected, but was of even wider
scope. Not only had all the dykes been ruptured and the water had begun
to rise upon the Land-scheiding, but also the Prince had been rapidly
collecting provisions in all the principal cities and towns near by and
was loading them on a fleet of vessels ready to sail across the land to
Leyden when the flood would permit. Thus the same waters that were to
rout the Spanish army were to bear life and food to the suffering city.
It was truly a daring and original plan, and Van der Werf's stern,
harassed countenance lighted with joy when he read the missive.

"Ring the bells!" he commanded. "Call a meeting of the populace in the
great square! Order the military bands to play inspiriting music! Fire
the cannons and sing lustily! Surely this news must put heart into the
people!"

Then such a bedlam of sounds as rose within the walls of Leyden! Not for
months had there been such a stir and life in the streets of the
half-dead city. The Spaniards outside, hearing the revelry and not in
the least understanding its cause, gazed at each other in amazement and
could only conjecture that a great army must be coming to the relief of
their foes. But they were not long to remain in doubt. That night a
sentinel rushed into the camp shouting:

"The water! the water! It stands ten inches deep all round the outskirts
of the Land-scheiding! The dykes have all been pierced!" And swift
consternation seized them, as they began to grasp the meaning of the
shouts of joy within the walls of Leyden.

But a week passed, and the waters did not continue to rise. The low
tides and the constant east winds were most unfavorable to the present
flooding of the land. Confidence was restored to the Spanish army, and
in the city the recent joy faded away as suddenly as it had come. Dull
distrust reigned unchecked, and the Glippers of whom there were not a
few in the town, lost no opportunity to scoff at 'This mad hopeless
scheme of the Prince's,' as they called it.

"Go up to the Tower on Hengist Hill," they would cry scornfully to the
patriots, "and _see_ if the ocean is coming over the dry land to your
relief!" Then it came to be that Hengist Hill was haunted day and night
by anxious, hunger-stricken men and women, watching, hoping, trusting,
praying that some help might come to the famished city.

Meantime the weather continued stifling and unbearable, and sickness,
death and the plague raged in Leyden. Jacqueline had her heart and hands
full with her newly assumed duties. But Gysbert, not having lately any
mission to execute beyond the walls, found time hanging rather heavily
on his hands. One muggy, oppressive morning he determined, for lack of
anything better to do, to seek some secluded spot and indulge in a
refreshing swim in one of the less-frequented canals.

Reaching a shaded spot sufficiently isolated for his purpose, he
divested himself of his garments, plunged in, and remained for half an
hour swimming about idly in the cool water. At length concluding that
his bath had been long enough, he drew himself out and was about to
resume his clothes, when he happened to glance down the road that led by
the canal. About a hundred yards ahead, a black-cloaked figure whose
rear view struck him as somewhat familiar, was hurrying stealthily
along.

"By St. Pancras!" muttered Gysbert. "If that isn't Dirk Willumhoog
again! There's mischief afoot!" Dropping his clothes he ran down the
bank, slipped without noise into the water, and swam hurriedly in the
direction of the retreating figure.

"If I keep behind him close and to the bank," thought the boy, "I can
watch him very well, and he'll never suspect there is a soul around." It
did not take him long to catch up with the man he was pursuing. Most of
the time he kept out of sight, but he rose occasionally far enough to
poke his head over the edge of the canal and peep at his enemy. Once as
he did so, he dropped back quickly, finding that Dirk had seated himself
under a tree not five feet away. The man was busily engaged in examining
the writing on some scraps of paper, or he would certainly have seen the
wet, tousled head poked suddenly up over the bank.

"Whew!" thought Gysbert as he ducked, "but that was a narrow escape! I
wonder how long he's going to sit mooning there! 'Tis right unpleasant
hanging here motionless, and in spite of the heat, the water grows
chilly." But Dirk had evidently no intention of moving at present, and
Gysbert was obliged to shiver and wait for some time, before the spirit
moved the man to be gone. At length the crunch of footsteps on the
gravel warned the boy that his enemy was once more on his way. It was a
relief to swim again and limber up his stiffened body, but to his
astonishment he found that they were drawing near to an unfrequented
portion of the city near the walls, and that the canal-street would soon
turn off in another direction.

"Where _can_ he be going?" questioned Gysbert, as he poked up his head
at the turn, and saw Dirk advancing straight on, apparently right to the
wall itself. At that moment the man half turned his head and Gysbert
ducked under hastily. When he again raised himself, to his amazement
Dirk had disappeared as completely as though the earth had opened up
and swallowed him.

"Has the rascal spread his cloak and _flown_ over the wall, or has he
changed his bodily substance and passed right through it, like the
prince in the fairy tale?" demanded Gysbert of the air about him. But as
it was plain this would bring no solution of the enigma, he cautiously
crept toward the wall, determined by some means to solve the mystery.

From the turn of the canal to the wall was a distance of perhaps five
hundred yards, an unoccupied space of ground like a meadow, broken by
nothing save a little brook that connected with the canal. At the base
of the wall this brook spread out for a space, like a miniature lake.
Gysbert examined every inch of the ground attentively, without finding
anything that might serve to enlighten him. At the face of the wall he
stopped. Plainly no human being could scale at this point the high,
smooth surface that confronted him. Dropping on his knees he examined
the base. "Nothing here!" he muttered, and waded into the tiny lake that
spread out before him.

Step by step he advanced, feeling carefully of the brick wall at every
interval, to detect any possible weak spot, when suddenly his feet
slipped into a deep hole, he was drawn under, and swept by the force of
some swift current, through a small hidden aperture in the wall. When he
came to the surface, he grasped at a projecting ledge, and tried to
ascertain what had happened. It did not take him long to guess. The
marshy land in and about Leyden was constantly intersected by the
formation of new brooks and streams. Not infrequently they would
undermine the very wall itself, and in times of peace, these defects
were always carefully watched and remedied. But in the terrible strain
under which the city had existed for the past months, this one had
evidently passed unnoticed, and in truth, no one would have suspected
its presence from the inside of the city, so well was it hidden by the
little spreading lake.

"Now what ought I do next?" thought Gysbert when he had unravelled this
mystery. "Without doubt this is Dirk's secret doorway, and how he
discovered it the Evil One only knows! The question is, should I try to
explore it before he is well out of the way? I would hardly care to meet
him in this black hole! On the other hand, I don't believe he will
remain in here a moment longer than he has to, and I'm freezing hanging
here. I'll risk it!"

So saying he plunged into the grim cave, and commenced his journey
through the base of the great wall of Leyden. To his disgust he found
that the stream did not penetrate straight from side to side, but turned
and pierced through the _length_ of the wall for many yards. The way was
difficult enough, since he had to fight every inch of his progress
against the swift current, and once the water deepened to such an
extent that he was forced to swim. Moreover, unwarmed by any sun it was
icy cold, and his limbs grew numb and his teeth chattered.

For a moment panic seized him, and he felt sure he would never get out
alive, but would drown in this horrible place. Then his natural courage
again asserted itself, and he pressed steadily forward. At length the
course of the hidden stream changed again, a faint glimmer of daylight
appeared, and in another moment he stood outside the walls of Leyden,
protected from the gaze of the Spanish camp only by a few bushes. No
Dirk Willumhoog was to be seen, but there remained not a shadow of doubt
that this was his mode of ingress to and exit from the city of Leyden.

Gysbert lay down in the sunlight, and warmed his numbed body in its
welcome heat. In half an hour's time he had started on his return trip,
and found it twice as easy as travelling in the opposite direction. Far
from fighting the current he was helped along by it, and in a short time
stood safe within the town again. Arrived there, another swim awaited
him, for as he could not run through the town clad in nothing at all, he
was obliged to take to the canal till he reached the spot where he had
left his clothes. Once only he stopped to climb out and investigate the
place where Dirk had sat examining his papers. As good luck would have
it, he discovered hidden away in the grass where it had evidently fallen
unnoticed, one of the scraps. On it were written a few words, evidently
only a part of the whole, whatever that might have been. Gysbert read
them and his eyes grew big with wonder, and then snapped angrily. "Ah,
this is shameful!" he cried. "We'll see about this, Dirk Willumhoog,
thou traitor as well as coward!"

With the paper in his mouth for safety, he plunged into the canal, swam
to the point where he had left his clothes, flung them on hastily, and
hurried home as fast as he could run.

"I shall have something to tell Jacqueline about _this_ day's work!" he
remarked to himself with great satisfaction.



"TRANQUIL AMID RAGING BILLOWS"



CHAPTER VIII

"TRANQUIL AMID RAGING BILLOWS"


Jacqueline was not at home when Gysbert arrived hot and breathless. She
had been out all morning with Dr. de Witt on their usual errand of
mercy, and Vrouw Voorhaas declared with much sullen complaining, that
she could not be expected for an hour yet. So the boy was compelled to
fret and wander about idly till she appeared. When she came she looked
desperately tired, but she ascended cheerfully to the dove-cote with her
brother, which place he chose as the safest and most secluded in which
to impart his secret.

"I had the greatest adventure this morning, Jacqueline!" he began. And
while she listened eagerly, petting the smooth head of her finest pigeon
and coaxing him with a little grain, Gysbert told of his swim in the
canal and its results. When he came to the part concerning the discovery
of the paper, he pulled it from his pocket and showed it to her. It was,
as has been said, only a portion of the whole writing, and commenced at
the top with the completion of some sentence begun on another piece:--

  "--evidently in Belfry Lane.
  "The Prince is dangerously ill
  "in Rotterdam. We have conveyed
  "to him the report that Leyden
  "has surrendered. While this is
  "not yet true, the news will so
  "discourage him that it is
  "doubtful if he will recover--"

"Canst thou imagine anything more despicable than that?" exclaimed
Gysbert. "Our good Prince sickened unto death by such reports! Something
must be done about it."

"Shall thou go at once and tell Mynheer Van der Werf?" inquired his
sister.

"Well, I suppose I should, but then he would only send me off at once
to deny the rumor, so I may just as well not lose the time."

"But, Gysbert, what can that mean at the first?" said Jacqueline,
"'--evidently in Belfry Lane.' Can it possibly refer to us?"

"I do not doubt that it is just what it does refer to," he replied. "He
has, most likely, found out where we live. He means mischief, I tell
thee, not only to the country but to us also, though what we have done
to merit his attention, I cannot imagine."

"Thou didst anger him, Gysbert, that day at the gate, and he has not
forgotten. But there is something else beside. What can it be? Ah, I
fear harm is coming to us!"

"Well, I for one am not going to think about that, when this other
matter is so much more important," replied Gysbert, characteristically.
"This very night I shall disguise myself as usual, and make one more
trip through the camp. As I must travel all the way to Rotterdam, I may
not return for two or three days, so thou must explain it as best thou
canst to Vrouw Voorhaas. I do not care much now what thou dost tell her,
for she can do little to prevent my getting away if I choose."

"Ah, brother, I dread to have thee go! These be evil times, and I have a
foreboding that all will not go well whilst thou art away. And yet I
would not keep thee, for 'tis more than wicked that our Prince should be
so ill and so cruelly deceived. But thou must take a pigeon with thee,
and send him to me with a message, if thou art detained over long, else
I shall break my heart with anxiety, watching for thee."

At dawn next morning Gysbert set forth in his usual disguise carrying
the pigeon "William of Orange" at the bottom of his bag of herbs.
Passing out through the gate of the Tower of Burgundy, he chose a route
through a part of the army near that of his first attempt, since that
way lay nearer to the road for Delft and Rotterdam. The usual sleeping
camp lay all about him. The usual challenge from drowsy sentinels
arrested his progress, but thanks to the magic countersign, "_Don
Carlos_," which he had learned from the gatekeeper, he was no where
detained. He accomplished the passage of the camp with absolutely no
molestation or exciting incident, thinking that the feat was becoming
very, very easy.

On the road to Delft he looked along the canal to see if he might spy
Joris Fruytiers and his bulky craft. But the canal was deserted, and he
was obliged to make up his mind that his own two feet must carry him
most of the way. As he trudged along, he could not but notice the
exceeding muddiness of the road, and the farther he proceeded, the worse
did it become, till at length he found himself plowing through a
veritable bog.

"This is singular!" was his first thought, and then, "Why, no it isn't
either! This is the result of the broken down dykes. How strange that I
did not think of it at first!" And the worse it became, the more it
pleased him, since it might mean ultimate relief and victory to the
city. Finally he found himself wading through several inches of water,
and he took infinite, boyish delight in slopping through its muddy
depths, splashing the drops from side to side as he walked. In due time
he reached Delft, and stopped to get a hearty meal at a baker's shop,
with a few coins he had in his pocket. Thus refreshed and rested, he
continued on his way.

Darkness at length overtook him, and abandoning all hope of reaching
Rotterdam that night, he crept into a farmer's barn, and in the hayloft
slept the sleep of healthy weariness, till the first streaks of dawn
tinted the horizon. Trudging on his road again, without either a
breakfast or the prospect of one, it was noon before he reached the goal
of his desire, Rotterdam, where lay ill and despairing the idol of his
boyish dreams, William, Prince of Orange-Nassau.

Gysbert had never been in Rotterdam, consequently he was compelled to
inquire his way frequently. Ascertaining that the Prince was then
stopping at a house on the Hoog Straat, and being directed to that
thoroughfare, he was not long in arriving at his destination. It was a
much smaller establishment than the palace of the _Prinsenhof_ in Delft,
and to the boy's astonishment there seemed to be absolutely no one about
the premises. The large front entrance was not locked, and having
knocked in vain for many minutes, he pushed open the door and entered.

Nothing greeted him but deserted halls and rooms. He lingered about in
the corridors for a while, hoping that someone might come in. Then his
attention became attracted by occasional groans and muttered
ejaculations from the room above. Fearing that someone, possibly the
Prince himself, might be in trouble, he decided to go up and see if he
might render any assistance. He crept up softly, and guided by the
sounds, reached an open doorway and peeped in.

Tossing and moaning on a bed, lay the gaunt form of a man. One glance
sufficed to convince Gysbert that it was William of Orange, and that he
was desperately ill. Why the great head of his country should be thus
deserted by every one of his attendants in his trouble, was more than
Gysbert could fathom. A natural hesitancy, however, kept him from
intruding on the privacy of the sick man's bedroom, and he stood outside
for a time, watching and wondering if there were anything he might do.

The Prince lay in a huge, four-post bed, raised on a sort of dias or
platform. At his feet on the coverlet sat a little brown and white
spaniel, who whined plaintively as if in answer to his master's groans.
When Gysbert appeared in the doorway, the animal sprang up barking
furiously, and tried to wake his master. But the Prince was at the time
in a sort of stupor, and paid no heed to the animal's cries. The dog
soon perceived that the intruder attempted no harm, and settled himself
in his former post.

Gysbert knew well why the Prince was attended by this faithful beast.
Two years before at the siege of Mons, he had been surprised one night
while asleep in his tent, by a party of Spaniards who had planned to
capture him. A little spaniel who slept in his quarters sprang up
barking and scratching his hands. The Prince thus wakened found time to
escape, but had it not been for the faithful little animal, the
Netherlands would have lost their strongest protector. For the rest of
his life, the Prince was never without a spaniel of the same breed who
slept nightly in his room.

Gysbert had ample time to note what manner of man was this his idol. His
forehead was high, noble, and marked with many lines of care. The
expression of his face, even racked with burning fever, was of a tender,
strong and fatherly benignity. Near by lay his armor and sword, on the
hilt of which was carved in Latin his chosen motto:--

  "Sævis tranquillus in undis!"

  ("Tranquil amid raging billows!")

No language could have better expressed the quiet firmness and unshaken
courage of this wonderful nobleman, even in the most harrowing and
adverse circumstances.

The sick man was gradually emerging from unconsciousness. His eyes
opened widely but unseeingly, and he muttered in a half-delirium:

"Ah, Leyden, Leyden! Would God that I might help thee! It is not true,
it cannot be true that thou hast yielded to the enemy! Ah, my country!
What fate is now before thee, and I so helpless to render thee
aid!--Tranquil,--tranquil!--I must be tranquil amid the billows!--Oh,
thou my God, help me!--" Again unconsciousness overcame him, and he sank
into another stupor. Gysbert's heart ached with pity and the wild desire
to tell him that his fears were groundless. "When he next wakes,"
thought the boy, "I will go in and tell him how false is this report he
has heard." Presently the Prince exhibited signs of returning
consciousness, but he seemed weaker, and could only murmur:

"Leyden!--Leyden!--Tranquil--" Then Gysbert with trembling knees and
quaking heart, entered the door and walked up to the bed. At first the
Prince did not see him, but soon the renewed barking of his spaniel
attracted his attention to the curious little figure standing by the
bedside.

"Who art thou?" he queried feebly.

"Mynheer Prince," faltered Gysbert, "I am only a boy from Leyden, but I
have come to tell you that it is not true,--what you have been told
concerning the city's surrender. Leyden still holds out and will so
continue till its last defender is slain!" The dullness of fever in the
sick man's eyes gave place to an actual sparkle.

"Leyden still safe!" he exclaimed. "Then have I surely been deceived.
Oh, God be praised that He has answered my prayer! But tell me, brave
little fellow, how camest thou to know what only one of my confidential
servants has whispered to me, and how camest thou all this way to
undeceive me? Methinks too, thou hast assumed something of a disguise."
Then Gysbert told him the circumstances of the finding of the paper, and
much about Dirk Willumhoog. From this the Prince beguiled him into
telling about how he had made expeditions with messages through the
Spanish army, and how his sister was helping care for the sick and
plague-stricken in Leyden, and many details about the condition of the
city. When he had finished he was emboldened to ask the Prince how it
was that the house had no attendants, especially when he lay so ill.

"Truly it must seem strange!" answered William the Silent. "I have the
kindest of servants, and the best medical attendance, but it so happens
that I have sent all off this morning on errands of the greatest
importance. When this traitor, this Joachim Hansleer, returns I will
discharge him straightway for a lying villain who thinks to kill me by
his deception. He has been whispering to me this past week, that Leyden
had surrendered but that the rest were afraid to tell me!"

"If the great Prince would forgive me for saying it," replied Gysbert,
"I would suggest that he be locked up in close confinement instead, else
he will join his companion, Dirk Willumhoog, and plot more wickedness!"

"True, true!" exclaimed the Prince, laughing for the first time in
weeks. "Thou art a clever lad to have thought of it. And now tell me thy
name. I shall not forget thee." When Gysbert had told him, he held out
his hand:

"Take these ten florins and buy thyself all the food thou canst carry
back with thee. Be sure to tell Van der Werf to guard that opening in
the wall well, and arrest Dirk Willumhoog if he enters again. Tell him
also that help is very near, and pray God for a west wind. My grateful
thanks go with thee! Already I feel the fever abated, and new life
surging through me. Farewell!" Gysbert knelt to kiss the hand of his
hero, and then sped away light of heel and glad of heart at the
successful outcome of his errand.

And when, a few moments later, the Receiver-General of Holland,
Cornelius Van Meirop, ascended to the bed-chamber to visit his Prince,
he marvelled at the great change for the better that had suddenly taken
place in the condition of William the Silent.



VROUW VOORHAAS'S SECRET



CHAPTER IX

VROUW VOORHAAS'S SECRET


No sooner had Gysbert been dispatched on his journey to Rotterdam, than
Jacqueline turned her attention to preparing breakfast. Much to her
astonishment, Vrouw Voorhaas was not yet up and about, but she concluded
that the woman was wearied out with hard work and anxiety, and was
taking an extra, involuntary nap.

The most careful search in the larder revealed nothing that under
ordinary circumstances would be considered in the least palatable.
Jacqueline remembered two pigeons' eggs that had been laid the day
before, and determined that they must go toward furnishing the
breakfast-table. These, with some very thin gruel of pigeon grain
completed the arrangements. Wondering that Vrouw Voorhaas had not yet
appeared, and fearing lest something were the matter, she decided to go
up and investigate the cause of this unusual state of affairs. At the
door of the bedroom she paused, horror-struck at the sound of a curious
muttering and groaning now grown terribly familiar to her ears. Then she
opened the door. Her worst suspicions were verified--Vrouw Voorhaas had
the plague!

The woman lay tossing and moaning, utterly unconscious of anything about
her, muttering strange, incoherent sentences in her delirium. Amazed and
shocked at what she heard, Jacqueline stood rooted to the spot
listening.

"I will not eat it!--I must not eat it!--" cried the unconscious woman,
"--It is for the children!--Oh, God, how I hunger!--" Then in a lower
tone:--"Dirk Willumhoog thou shalt _not_ harm them as thou didst
endeavor to harm--" Here she appeared to fall into a restless sleep, and
for a few moments her tossing form lay quiet; Jacqueline buried her
face in her hands and wept with sheer bitterness and despair.

"Oh, Vrouw Voorhaas, Vrouw Voorhaas!--now I know what doth ail thee!"
she sobbed aloud. "Thou hast starved thyself for our sakes, thou didst
deceive us into thinking thou wast satisfied with a little, and now thou
art reaping the results of thy sacrifice!" The realization that this
faithful servant had brought herself to this pass by her own
self-denial, occupied Jacqueline's mind to the exclusion of every other
thought. "How wicked and ungrateful I have been," she blamed herself,
"going out to nurse other people, when starvation and illness lay
waiting right at my own door, and I never guessed! Oh, if Gysbert were
only here!"

Then the necessity for doing something, and that speedily, forced itself
upon her. Deciding that she could leave the sick woman more easily now
than later, she ran out at once to find Dr. de Witt. He accompanied her
without an instant's delay. When he reached the sick room he gave one
keen glance at his patient, and then set about his work of relief,
Jacqueline assisting him with the intelligence and skill perfected by
much practice.

"Now," said he finally, "thou must make up thy mind, Juffrouw
Jacqueline, to one thing. For the present thou must give up all thought
of going on thy daily round with me, and devote thyself to the care of
this thy companion. Her case is more critical than usual, having been
brought on, I judge, by systematic starvation."

"But Jan!--" faltered the girl. "He is still very weak and needs my
care."

"Let him come here and stay," ordered the doctor. "I will myself fetch
him this afternoon, and thus thou wilt have both thy patients under
thine eye. He also may be able to help thee a little. Where is thy
brother?"

"He has gone out of the city on an errand of importance. I do not
expect him back for two or three days," she answered.

"Well, keep him out of the sick room when he returns. 'Tis best for him
not to be exposed to the disease. Now I must be going on my usual way. I
shall miss thy helpful presence much, Juffrouw Jacqueline. Ah, but times
are sore in this wretched city!" As he turned to go, Vrouw Voorhaas
roused herself and began muttering anew:

"Louvain?--Louvain?--Yes, from there we came, but what is that to
thee!--" The doctor started, and walked back toward his patient.

"She hath been raving much without sense!" remarked Jacqueline hastily.
"I fear her mind is all unhinged!" But Dr. de Witt continued to
scrutinize sharply the features of the sick woman.

"Didst thou really come from Louvain?" he asked Jacqueline at length.

"Yes," faltered the girl, "many years ago."

"What is the name of this woman?" the doctor continued to question. As
Jacqueline told him, a great light appeared to break in on his mind.

"Ah, ah!" he exclaimed. "I see it all! It is as clear as day to me now!
That resemblance in thee I was sure I should place sometime. Is not thy
name Cornellisen, and was not thy father the famous doctor-professor in
the University?"

"Aye!" answered Jacqueline in fear and trembling, "Thou hast guessed
aright, but tell no one, I pray thee!"

"I knew it! I felt it!" continued the doctor. "And yet I could not make
the memory a connected one, till now. I was a student about to graduate
from the University, and thy father was my great admiration and example.
I saw Vrouw Voorhaas once on visiting his home, but never his children,
hence I did not recognize thee. It was sad--sad, thy father's end, and I
grieved over it many a long day! It was his great devotion to the young
Count de Buren who was under his special care, that brought him to his
death. Dost thou know all about it?"

"I know only what Vrouw Voorhaas has told me, of his being captured and
killed by the cruel Duke of Alva," answered Jacqueline.

"Then I can tell thee more, and I will some time. Right glad I am that
it has fallen to my lot to help and befriend thee, for so I can render
service to thy dead father who was always more than kind to me."

All the morning Jacqueline sat by the sick woman's bedside, moistening
her parched lips with water, cooling her feverish brow with refreshing
compresses, and tending to every unspoken want with a devotion born of
love and remorse. At no time did Vrouw Voorhaas become sane and
conscious of her surroundings, and her feverish delirium increased as
the day wore on. It wrung the girl's tender heart to hear her cry out
against the pangs of hunger and imagine that she must continually deny
herself for the children's sake.

Little by little the history of all the past weeks of suffering was
revealed to the watching girl, and she realized that what she had
supposed to be a sufficient supply of provisions for all, had only been
rendered enough for herself and Gysbert by the cruel deprivation of this
faithful woman. But other chance ejaculations were more mystifying, and
served to arouse in Jacqueline an intense, terrified curiosity as to
what might be this long kept secret that so troubled the soul of Vrouw
Voorhaas. Once she was electrified by hearing the sick woman hiss:

"How didst thou get in the city, Dirk Willumhoog?--No, go away! Thou
canst draw nothing from me!--I will not tell thee, I say!--Thou dare not
touch one hair of their heads!--Nay, I _will_ not tell thee!--Keep thy
gold!--What do I care for all the wealth of the Indies?--Their father--"

Jacqueline puzzled over it in trembling astonishment. Was it possible
that Dirk Willumhoog had been here in Belfry Lane, and interviewed Vrouw
Voorhaas while they were away somewhere? But why had she not told them
of it? What could be this dreadful mystery that the two seemed to share
in common? What harm did he plan to do them?

That afternoon Jan arrived, accompanied by Dr. de Witt. Jacqueline now
had her hands full with the two patients, but she was grateful for the
companionship of the old man. It had seemed unutterably depressing to be
shut up alone with this sick woman who was never for a moment in her
right mind, and who raved incessantly about disturbing mysteries. Two
more days passed and the conditions in Belfry Lane continued about the
same. Vrouw Voorhaas did not improve, except that she had less delirium,
and Jacqueline was worried almost out of her senses because Gysbert had
not yet appeared. Nothing could convince her that all was well with
him, and she kept constant watch for the carrier pigeon to bring some
news.

Running up to the cote on the fourth day, she found to her joy, "William
of Orange" strutting about among the two or three other birds. A note
was fastened about his leg, and Jacqueline unfastened it with trembling,
eager fingers. To her surprise it was addressed not to her but to Vrouw
Voorhaas, and was in a strange handwriting. With a great throb of
terror, she opened it and read these words:--

     "VROUW VOORHAAS,"

     "Fortune has at last turned in my favor. The boy is now in my
     possession, and before long the girl will be also. I snap my
     fingers in thy face!"

  "DIRK WILLUMHOOG."



THE BEGGARS OF THE SEA



CHAPTER X

THE BEGGARS OF THE SEA


"Vrouw Voorhaas is decidedly better to-day, Juffrouw Jacqueline,"
remarked Dr. Pieter de Witt as he left the bedside of the sick woman.
"She is really coming out of this illness very well, thanks to thy
careful nursing and our good Jan's assistance."

"Is it so indeed!" answered Jacqueline listlessly, striving to force
herself to some show of enthusiasm. "Then am I right glad, for I have
done my best, and thou hast been devotion itself, Dr. de Witt. Oh! if
only--" She turned away her head to hide the tears that would come, and
a sob stopped her further utterance. The good doctor understood, and
busied himself over his patient till the girl had regained her
self-control.

"If I mistake not," he ventured at length, "she will probably be quite
herself to-day, having regained consciousness several times lately. It
would be well, should she recover sufficiently to ask after thy brother,
not to allow her to think he has come to harm. A shock like that would
thrust her lower than she has yet been."

"But what shall we say?" faltered Jacqueline. "I must not tell an
untruth."

"Wouldst thou tell her the broad, brutal facts, and thereby cause her
death?" demanded the doctor sternly. "Nay, it is only necessary to say
that since she had been suffering with the plague, it was deemed wisest
to send him away for a time, lest he contract the disease. She will be
satisfied with that for the present." Jacqueline acquiesced in this, and
the two went downstairs to acquaint Jan Van Buskirk with the news of the
improvement in Vrouw Voorhaas's condition. Jan was sitting in the sunny,
immaculate kitchen reading his big Bible, one of the few possessions he
had brought with him to Belfry Lane. He was as pleased as the others
with the good report.

"Listen to this!" he remarked. "I've just been reading it in the Good
Book. I think the Lord must have had the siege of Leyden in mind when He
caused this to be written--'Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare
of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence!'--Isn't that just what
happened to Vrouw Voorhaas and myself! I call it nothing less than
miraculous! And here's some more!--'Thou shalt not be afraid for the
terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day'--Doesn't that
just describe the Spanish army out beyond!--'nor for the pestilence that
walketh in darkness'--that's the plague--'nor for the destruction that
wasteth at noonday.'--That's starvation!

"'A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand,
but it shall not come nigh thee!' Haven't more than five thousand died
of starvation and the pestilence here already, and we are yet spared!"

"True, true!" murmured Jacqueline, "but Gysbert!--" Now there was an
unspoken but well-understood conspiracy between the doctor and Jan to
keep up the spirits of the despairing girl on this painful subject.

"Thou didst not let me read far enough, Jacqueline," the old man
hastened to add. "Only listen! Here is another Psalm that I was reading
this morning. It should be a great help to thee:--'The Lord is my light
and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my
life; of whom shall I be afraid?

"'When the wicked, even mine enemies came upon me to eat up my flesh,
they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me my heart
shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, in this will I be
confident.

"'Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path because of mine
enemies. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage and He shall strengthen
thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!'"

"What thou hast read does truly give me new courage," said Jacqueline.
"Thanks, Jan! Thou art indeed a help and a comfort. And now I will go up
to the dove-cote to see if perchance a pigeon has come with some message
for the burgomaster."

A week had passed since the disappearance of the boy, and not a sign or
a token had come to the anxious watchers in Belfry Lane, to indicate his
whereabouts or his fate. After the first shock caused by Dirk's message,
Jacqueline had gone straight to Adrian Van der Werf and explained the
situation, imploring him to assist in trying to find and rescue her
brother. The burgomaster was deeply distressed at the misfortune that
had come to his little "jumper," and was much mystified as to the cause
of this continued persecution of two innocent children by an unknown
man.

But as to offering any assistance, that he told Jacqueline was quite
beyond his power. Already concern for the famishing, besieged city, and
despair at its vanishing hopes of relief had driven him almost beyond
his senses with anxiety. It was now not only impossible, but would be
also quite fruitless for him to send men outside the walls to search for
Gysbert, as they would probably be killed on sight by the ferocious
Spaniards. He advised Jacqueline to wait quietly for further
developments, and gave it as his opinion that Gysbert had not been
killed, but was probably being kept alive for some yet unknown purpose.
But little encouraged by this interview, Jacqueline crept home to endure
silent but unending misery. For she was too proud to be seen by the
others constantly grieving, and moreover, she blamed herself bitterly
for ever allowing her brother to undertake such a hazardous enterprise.

Ascending to the pigeon-loft that morning, she found a returned
messenger strutting about among the remaining birds. He bore a note
wrapped round his leg, addressed to Adrian Van der Werf. Jacqueline made
all haste to carry this to the statehouse, for it now devolved upon her
to be the bearer of these messages when they arrived. The burgomaster
welcomed her kindly:

"Good-morning, Juffrouw Jacqueline! Hast heard any news from thy brother
yet?"

"Nay," answered the girl shaking her head sadly. "But I have here
another message for you, Mynheer Van der Werf. It has but just come by a
pigeon."

"Thanks, thanks!" he said, opening it eagerly. Then with sparkling eyes
he cried:

"Ah, this is excellent, excellent news! Admiral Boisot with his fleet
manned by the Beggars of the Sea, has arrived out of Zeeland, and is
already entering the Rhine over the broken dykes. He cannot be ten miles
from the city! Praise God, praise God!" He turned to Jacqueline for an
answering enthusiasm, but found to his surprise that the poor girl had
fainted away in the chair where she sat, evidently from sheer hunger and
fatigue. Van der Werf hastened to a closet, took out a bottle, and
forced some cordial between her set teeth. As he chafed her cold hands
he murmured:

"Poor, poor little girl! Thou hast borne thy share of this cursed
trouble nobly and well--that I know from De Witt himself. Thou shalt
have every comfort and help that I can render thee!" Jacqueline soon
returned to consciousness, but the burgomaster would not yet allow her
to leave, and insisted that she drink another glass of the revivifying
cordial. When she was quite herself again, he sent her back to Belfry
Lane with a large basket of food from his own larder, which he had
despatched a soldier to procure.

"It is not much," he apologized, "for we are hard put to it ourselves
for sustenance now. But it is at least something I can do for so
faithful a helper. See that thou dost not stint _thyself_ in thy
distribution of it!" he ended laughing.

When she had gone, Van der Werf hastened to despatch a town-crier to
spread the good news, and himself made all speed to Hengist Hill to
observe the position of the fleet. The day was clear, and the flotilla
lay in plain sight, not far beyond the Land-scheiding--a motley array of
more than two hundred vessels of every conceivable shape and size. The
largest, an enormous craft with shot-proof bulwarks and moved by huge
paddle wheels turned by a crank, was called the "_Ark of Delft_." It
served as the flag-ship for Admiral Boisot, and was renowned for being
the leader in every battle. Each ship carried from eight to ten cannon,
and the whole fleet was manned by twenty-five hundred wild and
battle-scarred veterans, the bravest and fiercest in the land.

They called themselves the "Beggars of the Sea," a name they had assumed
since a time at first, when the scornful Spanish soldiery had mocked
them. "Who is afraid of you! You are nothing but a pack of _beggars_!"
scoffed the Spaniards. "Very well!" replied the hot-headed Zeelanders.
"Ye shall see how _beggars_ can _fight_!" And truly they made a
ferocious crew, as the Spanish found later, to their surprise and
dismay. They neither gave nor took quarter, for theirs was a battle to
the death, and woe to the luckless Spaniard who fell within their power!
"Long live the Beggars!" was their rallying cry, and "Long live the
Beggars!" now echoed in shout upon shout from Hengist Hill, by the
crowds that had followed the burgomaster to the summit. Hope was once
more restored, and Leyden gathered herself together and drew a long
breath of renewed courage.

But before the consummation of this hope there was much to be done, and
many battles to fight. The Land-scheiding lay before the fleet guarded
by Spanish troops, and all about, the villages and fortresses were in
the hands of the same enemy. On the night of September tenth, the city
was startled by loud cannonading to the southwest, and the sky grew
lurid with the flames of burning farmhouses and villages. Boisot had
made the first bold move. Finding that the great dyke was but
insufficiently guarded, he attacked it in the dead of night, at the same
time setting fire to and ruining several adjacent strongholds of the
enemy.

When morning dawned he was in possession of the coveted Land-scheiding,
without the loss of a single man. The discomfited Spaniards had but too
late discovered their mistake in underestimating the courage of their
assailants. A dove flew in on the morning of the eleventh, sent by
Boisot, telling of the victory. Jacqueline carried it to the statehouse
with the first feeling of enthusiasm she had experienced in many a long
day. Perhaps the city really would be relieved, and perhaps Gysbert
might be restored to them after all!



JACQUELINE RESPONDS TO AN URGENT SUMMONS



CHAPTER XI

JACQUELINE RESPONDS TO AN URGENT SUMMONS


Since the great dyke had been pierced an entire week had elapsed.
Stout-hearted Admiral Boisot had expected to find the Land-scheiding the
only barrier between his fleet and the city. But no sooner had this been
passed than he discovered to his surprise and disgust that several more
dykes and fortresses stood between himself and the goal. Three-quarters
of a mile farther on was the "Green-way," another long dyke rising a
foot above the water. But the Spaniards had not yet sufficiently learned
their lesson, and this barrier also was very scantily guarded.

With his usual promptness and audacity, Boisot carried this situation,
set his men to levelling the dyke, and the fleet passed through
triumphantly. But again he was doomed to disappointment. Beyond the
"Green-way" stretched a large shallow lake called "Freshwater Mere"
through which there was but one passage, a deep canal. As fortune would
have it, however, this canal led directly under a bridge that was in
possession of the Spaniards. This time the enemy had looked well to its
defences, and a few skirmishes soon convinced Boisot that the foe had
the advantage of him. So he prudently drew off and waited.

Only two and a half miles from the beleaguered city lay the rescuing
fleet stranded in shallow water, unable to progress an inch. The east
wind blew steadily, the waters decreased and the Spaniards laughed in
their faces. Within the city reigned a despair all the blacker for the
brief illumination of hope that had now died. But God had not yet
forsaken the cause of the right.

On the eighteenth of September the wind changed, a great gale raged for
three days out of the northwest, the waters rose rapidly, and the
vessels were again afloat. Fortunately too, from some fugitives from one
of the villages, who had come aboard, Boisot learned of another course
he could pursue, a little roundabout indeed, but having the advantage of
avoiding the terrible, guarded bridge. He lost no time in availing
himself of this, and the amazed Spaniards at the village of Nord Aa
suddenly beheld this fear-inspiring flotilla bearing down upon them from
an entirely unexpected direction. They fled precipitately, not even
stopping to gather up their possessions, to the strongly fortified
village of Zoeterwoude, only a mile and three-quarters from the city.

A little beyond Nord Aa, Boisot encountered the last dyke, the
"Kirk-way." This he promptly levelled, but the wind had again changed,
the water fell to the depth of only nine inches, and the fleet lay once
more helpless in its shallows. Day by day passed and nothing occurred to
alter the monotony of this inaction. But one circumstance took place
which filled the Sea Beggars with renewed courage and inspired universal
joy. The Prince of Orange, now recovered sufficiently from his long
illness to be about, came on board the "_Ark of Delft_," to grasp the
hand of the doughty Admiral. From thence he made a triumphal tour of all
the vessels, instilling into every heart fresh courage, cheering,
advising and directing. He looked pale and worn after his illness, and
his devoted veterans, even these fierce Sea Beggars, were ready to fall
at his feet and obey his lightest command. After a long and serious
conference with Boisot, he returned to Delft.

Meanwhile, what of Jacqueline, upon the messages borne by whose carrier
pigeons the whole city hung with breathless expectation? Since the
passing of the Land-scheiding she had continued to carry constant
messages to Van der Werf, for every time the Admiral gained a new
advantage, he hastened to despatch another pigeon, for the
encouragement of Leyden. Everyone who was not too weak with hunger to
walk, haunted the summit of Hengist Hill to watch the advance of the
rescuers. It filled their hearts with new courage to note how small a
space the besieging army was now forced to occupy,--only a ring little
more than a mile wide all about the city, with the threatening ocean and
a crew of desperate Sea Beggars on one side, and the hunger-maddened
populace of Leyden in the center. The situation was certainly becoming a
trifle embarrassing for the Spanish army!

Jacqueline occasionally went to Hengist Hill with Jan, who was now able
to get about quite briskly. Dr. de Witt insisted that she must get out
and take fresh air and exercise, and he was always willing to sit with
Vrouw Voorhaas while she was away. They never allowed the girl to go far
alone, for all yet feared the threat of Dirk Willumhoog to entrap her as
well as her brother, and took care that she was well guarded. Vrouw
Voorhaas had also made decided improvement but was yet unable to leave
her bed. The excessive weakness caused by her long self-denial and its
consequences, seemed almost impossible to overcome. Her constant
inquiries about Gysbert too, were becoming more and more difficult to
answer, though they still kept up the fiction that he was quartered with
Dr. de Witt during her illness. Sometimes it seemed as though she
watched them all with hidden suspicion, and once she even murmured:

"I fear he is not safe! Something tells me he is in danger!" On the
night when the fleet reached Nord Aa a pigeon flew in bearing the
tidings. Jacqueline found him, for she was constantly on the watch for
messages, but since it was nearly nine o'clock, it was deemed best that
Jan should carry the word to the burgomaster. The doctor had just left
not five minutes before, and Jan hobbled off to execute his mission
leaving Jacqueline with Vrouw Voorhaas. The girl sat reading by the sick
bed, casting an occasional glance at her patient who was sound asleep.
Presently, thinking she heard a knock at the door, she closed her book
and hurried downstairs.

"'Tis early for Jan to be back," she thought. "He has but just left, and
I know he will want to stay and chat awhile with Mynheer Van der Werf.
Who can it be!" Some indefinable sensation of misgiving caused her to be
a little long about opening the door. She was reassured, however, by
seeing only a small boy who thrust a note into her hand, and turning ran
down the street. She called to him to come back as there might be an
answer required, but the child apparently did not hear her, and was soon
out of sight. Wonderingly she brought the scrap of paper to the
candle-light and read its contents.

     "Juffrouw Jacqueline, (it ran):--

     "If thou wouldst hear news of thy brother, and dost also desire a
     chance to rescue him, I beg thee to come to the end of the
     Wirtemstrasse at once. Do not waste a moment, for the opportunity
     is but brief. The messenger there can only wait fifteen minutes.
     Thy brother sends his love.

  "One who is thy friend."

Jacqueline flushed with joy and then turned deathly pale. Hope, doubt
and distrust reigned equally in her mind. News of Gysbert!--a chance to
rescue him!--she would go to the end of the world for that! But why had
not the writer of the note signed his name? Why had the little boy who
brought it run away so quickly? Oh, if Jan or Dr. de Witt were only here
to advise her! Oh, if there were but more time! She glanced at the note
again. It said--"Come immediately. The messenger has but fifteen minutes
to wait." Fifteen minutes! _One_ had gone already, while it would take
at least ten to reach the appointed spot. Only four minutes in which to
decide! But she had been forbidden to go out alone, especially at
night. That she concluded would not interfere if they knew that
Gysbert's welfare hung upon it. The girl was on a positive rack of
torturing doubt, but the note again conquered. "Thy brother sends his
love." Gysbert was then at least alive and safe, and was thinking of
her? "One who is thy friend."--Surely, no one who wished her evil could
subscribe that signature! If it were a _friend_ she need fear no harm.
Then and there she formed her determination to risk all and obey this
summons. God would surely watch over her!

Catching up a light wrap she opened and closed the door softly, and sped
down the dark street. The night was starless and chilly; the few people
she met were hurrying in the opposite direction to witness the
conflagration at Nord Aa from Hengist Hill. Her way lay in the direction
of the city wall between the Cow Gate and the Tower of Burgundy. It was
a deserted section, and approaching it, she recognized it as the scene
of Gysbert's adventure in the canal. A shudder of apprehension shook her
but she hurried on. It was do or die now, and nothing could have induced
her to turn back.

Reaching the end of the Wirtemstrasse, she found herself at the bend of
the canal described by Gysbert. A meadow stretched out before her, and
beyond that rose a section of the grim wall of Leyden. There was not a
soul in sight, and the girl began to think that in some way she had been
deceived. Concluding, however, that she might possibly be a little ahead
of time, she leaned over the rail of the stone bridge that crossed the
canal, and waited.

[Illustration: Dirk Willumhoog seizes Jacqueline]

Suddenly, without a warning sound, she felt herself seized from behind.
Before she could even cry out, a bandage was clapped over her mouth and
fastened at the back of her head. Instantly another was bound over her
eyes and her hands were tied behind her in spite of her desperate
struggles. In all this time she had not caught one glimpse of her
captor, but she heard a rough voice mutter: "Ah!--I have thee at last! I
have waited long enough for a chance to find thee unguarded by those two
watchdogs!" And she knew it to be the voice of Dirk Willumhoog!

"Now walk with me and do exactly as I tell thee, if thou dost not wish
to be knocked in the head!" the voice commanded in a low key. In utter
despair Jacqueline was forced to obey, there being obviously no other
course to pursue. The man grasped her by one arm and pulled her along
after him. She could tell by the feeling of the ground that they were
crossing the meadow, and anticipating what was to come, she trembled
till her knees almost refused to support her. Presently she stepped up
to her ankles in a pool of water.

"Draw a long breath and hold it!" commanded the voice. She tried to do
as she was told, when with a sudden plunge she was immersed head and
all, for what seemed an interminable length of time. At last she felt
her head raised above the surface. "Keep it up--so!" was the order. The
icy current more than once forced her from her feet, causing her to slip
under, and the atmosphere of the place struck a chill to her very
marrow. Once again the ground gave way beneath her, and she felt the
man's strong arm pulling her after him, while he swam in water too deep
for wading.

But the girl's senses could no longer stand the strain of cold, fatigue
and terror, and at this point she suddenly became unconscious. How the
rest of the journey was accomplished she could never imagine, for she
knew no more till she came to herself in what seemed to be some sort of
narrow hallway. A door was opened and she was rudely thrust inside with
the exclamation: "There!--at length!--I thought I should never get thee
here!" Then the door was slammed to, and loudly bolted.



REUNITED



CHAPTER XII

REUNITED


For a time Jacqueline sat huddled and motionless in the corner where she
had fallen. Her eyes were still bandaged, her mouth was gagged and her
hands were tied behind her. She wondered vaguely whether they would ever
come to release her from these bonds, and she shivered pitifully in her
wet garments. Finally she roused herself and struggled feebly to free
her hands. Her surprise was great when she found that the cords fell
apart easily, but it was not till later that she guessed the
secret--they had probably been severed nearly through before she was
pushed into the room.

Once her hands were free, it was the work of but a few seconds to unbind
her eyes and mouth and look about her. The room was in inky darkness,
save where a small window admitted a faint gray light that indicated the
outer world. There was no sound anywhere through the house. Oh, if they
had only allowed her a little light! It was weird and uncanny to be thus
thrust into a strange room and left there in utter darkness.

Presently the chill of her dripping clothes caused her to shudder and
give an involuntary moan. A moment after she was electrified by hearing
_something_ move, on the other side of the room. There was then some
living thing in here with her! A chill, not of cold this time but of
sheer terror, shook her from head to foot, and a wild desire to shriek
aloud possessed her. Again the dreaded something moved, breathed hard,
and uttered the word, "Jacqueline"! With a cry of joy and recognition
she sprang across the room, and brother and sister found themselves
tightly clasped in each others' arms. For a moment neither of them
could do anything but sob and laugh and kiss the other distractedly. At
last they grew sufficiently calm for speech.

"Oh, Gysbert, my brother! Art thou truly unharmed and well? How did this
dreadful thing happen?" breathed Jacqueline.

"Yes, I am alive and whole," he replied, "but how I got here is a long
story which I will tell thee later. But what about thee, Jacqueline?
Thou art soaking wet! How didst thou come to be caught in the same
trap?" In rapid sentences she sketched the history of the night's
adventures.

"The scoundrel!" exclaimed Gysbert. "He must have brought thee through
that same hole in the wall. I felt sure he had been planning to capture
thee, but to-night when thou wert thrown so violently into the room, I
could not tell whether it was thyself or some new trap he had been
setting for me. Not till I heard thee moan was I sure. He has some
deep-laid scheme in getting possession of us two, but what it is I
cannot imagine. However, thou must get rid of these wet things, sister.
There is a little room adjoining this where thou canst sleep. It has
evidently been arranged for that purpose. Take off thy dripping clothes
and wrap thyself in the bed-coverings, and we will then tell each other
all that has happened since we parted.

"Now," said Gysbert, when his sister had arrayed herself in the warm
bed-coverings, "I will begin by telling thee all about my journey to
Rotterdam." And he rehearsed to her all the details of his interview
with the Prince of Orange, and continued: "It took me another day and
night to pass Delft and reach the Spanish outposts. Feeling so certain I
should get through in safety, I think I grew a little reckless and
determined to try the route I had taken the first time. I never made a
bigger mistake!

"In the first place, I hadn't an idea of the password, having been away
three days. As luck would have it, I failed to encounter my friend
Alonzo de Rova, but did meet right face to face with the same captain
who had arrested me before. He made short work of laying hands on me and
delivered me over to the charge of about six or eight soldiers in a big
tent. I tried again my scheme of drawing pictures, and they all became
very much interested, hanging over me with laughter and much admiration
as I drew the portrait of each one. I was hoping Alonzo would happen
along, but he didn't.

"I cannot tell how my plan would have worked, nor whether the soldiers
would have released me, for just as I was finishing the last one, I
happened to look up and there was the evil face of Dirk Willumhoog in
the door of the tent, staring down at me. I thought perhaps he would not
recognize me in my disguise, but he did somehow. Disappearing for a
moment, he came back with the captain and pointed to me, saying:

"'That is the boy I want, and I've been hunting for him all over. He is
no Glipper at all, but a spy and a very dangerous character. Give him to
me, and I'll see that he is properly taken care of.' I saw by this that
resistance would be useless, so I very meekly followed him out of the
tent. Once outside, he blindfolded my eyes, tied my hands, and led me
what seemed a long distance. At last we entered this house. Upstairs we
climbed, and inside this room he uncovered my eyes. 'We'll see if thou
art a Glipper!' he said, and proceeded to wash off all the stain. 'Now
we will pay off some old scores of long standing!' he added, and with a
heavy switch, he gave me such a beating as I never had in my life
before."

"He beat _thee_!" exclaimed the girl, her eyes blazing in the dark. "Oh,
I could kill him for it!"

"Yes, but I did not cry out!" replied Gysbert proudly. "Not one moan did
he hear from me, till at last he stopped from sheer weariness. 'That's
to pay for thy kind remarks on the day I left Leyden!' he said. 'We will
settle the rest later!' Then he took my bag and examined it, wondering
at the herbs, and finding the food and pigeon. 'What hast thou here?' he
asked, 'And why wast thou outside the walls?' I told him we were hungry,
and I had been trying to get some food by selling herbs. 'Thou liest!'
he shouted. 'What was this carrier pigeon for? I tell thee thou earnest
messages to the enemy!'

"I said I had taken it so that in case I could not get back in time, I
could send a message. 'Well, _I'll_ send the message,' he replied, 'and
it will be somewhat differently worded, thou canst wager!' What was it,
Jacqueline?" The girl told him, and both together puzzled over the
supposition that Dirk and Vrouw Voorhaas must sometime have met, and
held some secret knowledge in common. She also told him what the woman
had uttered in her delirium, but they could make nothing of the mystery.
Then Gysbert went on with his story.

"After that he left me, bolting the door behind him, and I was free to
look about me, and see where I was, as far as my limited space would
permit I found myself in this room which thou wilt see at daylight, with
the other small one opening from it. Both contained a bed, and that made
me guess that at some time he hoped to capture thee also. There are two
little windows well guarded by heavy iron bars like a prison. However, I
could see enough through them to guess where I was. This is a little,
lonely farmhouse well outside the village of Zoeterwoude. Thou knowest
where that is, Jacqueline. We have often gone there to buy pigeons. It
is about a mile and a half from Leyden.

"The walls and floorings of the rooms are thick, and I seldom hear any
sounds from the rest of the house. There is no fireplace and very little
furniture. Well, here I was, and likely to remain till fortune again
turned in my favor! For three successive days Dirk came up and gave me a
beating, till I foresaw that this was to become a daily practice.
Otherwise I had food enough shoved in the door at me,--more than I had
in Leyden!--and nothing on earth to do. At length I became thoroughly
weary of the beating performance, and hit upon a scheme to avoid it. And
what dost thou think that was, Jacqueline?"

"I cannot guess!" she answered.

"Why, I pretended I had the _plague_!" he cried gleefully. "Oh,
Jacqueline, thou canst not guess what a desperate coward that Dirk
Willumhoog is! One day when I heard him coming, I held my breath till I
was scarlet in the face, like fever. I lay covered up in bed, and when
he entered, I began to toss my arms about and rave, as though light in
the head. He did not beat me that time, but stared at me uneasily for a
while, and went out muttering. He did not come in again that day, and I
had a chance to make myself a little worse!

"I found a place in the wall where some loose plaster had fallen away
from the brick lining within. Breaking off some of this brick, powdering
and moistening it, I thus obtained some fine red paint with which I
proceeded to decorate myself. With the pail of water for a mirror, all
over my face and hands I imitated the blotches that appear on the
plague-stricken. Oh, I must have been a fine, healthful sight!

"When Dirk came in to visit me next morning, he looked, gave one howl,
and rushed out of the room! I have not seen him since, and I know he
believes me far gone in this illness. Strange to say though, in spite of
his hatred, he does not seem to wish me to die, but has caused to be
thrust in the door the finest food and nourishment that could be
procured. I could live like a lord if I wished, but I scarcely touch it,
saving only enough to keep life in me, else he would surely suspect.
Thus have I passed the three weeks!" He ceased to speak, and for a while
they sat silent, hoping, doubting, fearing for the future, yet rejoicing
that they were at last together.

"But now thou must go to bed, Jacqueline," said Gysbert at length. "Thou
art wearied out and sleep will do thee good." Obediently she crept into
the bed in the little room, dropped asleep almost as soon as her head
touched the pillow, and never woke till the sun was streaming in at the
small window high overhead. Rising and donning the clothes that were now
dry, she hurried into the next room to get the first glimpse at her
brother.

He was indeed a remarkable sight, as he lay in bed exhibiting his
horribly blotched face and hands. It would have taken a keen eye, so
cleverly had he executed this dreadful decoration, to detect it as
false.

"Thou must pretend to be greatly alarmed about me, Jacqueline, should
they interview thee, and do not be surprised at my ravings, for they
are right hair-raising!" Gysbert had hardly uttered this caution, when
there was a sound of steps approaching the door. Immediately he began to
toss his arms about, moan, mutter, and occasionally shriek in a muffled
manner.

"Go away! Go away from me!" he raved. "Thou art not my sister! Why dost
thou say thou art Jacqueline! I do not know thee! Thou art someone sent
by that enemy of ours! Go away, go away, I tell thee!" Then the door was
unbolted, a basket of food was thrust within, and a voice was heard
calling above the racket of Gysbert's pretended delirium:

"Juffrouw Jacqueline! Is thy brother very ill?"

"Yes," answered the girl trembling. "He is so sorely ill that I fear he
will die!"

"Well, thou must not let him die! Thou must nurse him carefully. We do
not wish either of you to come to harm."

"Why dost thou keep us here?" demanded Jacqueline growing bolder. "Let
us go away where he can get a doctor and proper treatment."

"'Tis not for thee to inquire why thou art here. That thou shalt perhaps
know in due time," answered the voice. "As for a doctor, it is
impossible to procure one and inadvisable to bring him here if we could.
Thou knowest much about nursing the plague, and hast had rare experience
in the city. If thou dost need any special food or medicine for him we
will try to procure it, but otherwise all must remain as it is. Dost
think this case is very contagious?"

"Ah, very!" replied Jacqueline, slyly. "Even the odor from the room is
enough to infect one, especially if one fears it greatly!" At this the
door was slammed hastily shut, and when the children had heard the last
departing footsteps of Dirk Willumhoog die away, they could not, in
spite of their danger, repress a giggle of uncontrollable mirth!



ADRIAN VAN DER WERF



CHAPTER XIII

ADRIAN VAN DER WERF


Words cannot express the astonishment of Jan Van Buskirk when he
returned from the burgomaster's, to find no Jacqueline in the little
house in Belfry Lane. Unfortunately, she had still grasped the crumpled
note in her hand when she left the house, so he had absolutely no clew
to her whereabouts. The only explanation he could offer to himself was
that she must have gone out unpremeditatedly to obtain some fresh
medicine at a little chemist shop near by. So he sat down to wait for
her return.

But the time passed on and still she did not come. An hour rolled by and
Vrouw Voorhaas awoke to ask for Jacqueline. Jan quieted her by telling
her that the girl had retired to take a little rest, and Vrouw Voorhaas
went to sleep again. Another hour passed, and Jan, frightened almost out
of his senses, resolved to seek Dr. de Witt. Waking Vrouw Voorhaas he
told her that he did not feel well and was going out to consult the
doctor. She, he said, must go quietly to sleep again, as it was nothing
serious. Unsuspectingly she assented, and he hurried out to find Dr. de
Witt, weary with his day's exertion, just about to turn into bed. The
tale was soon told, and Pieter de Witt lost not a moment in resuming his
clothes.

"She has answered some summons," said he, "and has been led into a trap.
I know it! I have suspected all along that something like this would
happen when we least dreamed of it. My God! It is unthinkable!" From end
to end the two searched the city that night. No one had heard of her,
none had seen her, and they returned home in the gray of early morning,
foot-sore, despairing and heartsick.

"It will kill Vrouw Voorhaas," said De Witt, "and by this time she must
certainly know something is wrong, since both you and the girl have been
away all night. Come right for me, Jan, if it is necessary, but I must
turn in now for just a few moment's rest, or I'll break down too." Poor
Jan crept home broken and almost in tears. At the door he was met by
Vrouw Voorhaas who had dragged herself out of bed to search the house
for its usual inmates. Her eyes were wild and haggard, and she faced him
fiercely.

"Where hast thou been all night? Where are Jacqueline and Gysbert?" she
demanded.

"Oh, they are all right,--all safe!" he tried to prevaricate, but his
face betrayed him.

"It is not so! Thou liest!" she interrupted him. "Evil has come to
them,--I know it! I know it! For many days have I suspected that all was
not well with Gysbert, and now Jacqueline has disappeared too. Thou
canst not deceive me! Do not try! Ah, Dirk Willumhoog, thou--" She
could not finish, but fell unconscious at the feet of Jan.

He tried to raise her, but in his own weakened condition found it
impossible, and concluded that the best thing to do was to go back at
once for the doctor. Pieter de Witt, exhausted but indefatigable still
in the cause of his friends, hurried back with him at once. Together
they succeeded in raising her and getting her back to bed, but they
failed utterly in restoring her to consciousness. Dr. de Witt shook his
head many times over the black prospect.

"This shock has caused a sudden relapse--and no wonder!" he said. "I
sadly fear that the end is not now far away. Thou wilt have to be her
attendant now, Jan. For the sake of the children do thy best, and I will
help thee!"

"There is one more possibility that we have not tried," said Jan. "We
did not go to the burgomaster's. Can it be possible that another message
came while I was returning, and she hurried out with it, going some
other way? Perchance as it was late, Mynheer Van der Werf's wife would
not allow her to go home, and has kept her till morning. Perchance she
has been taken sick there."

"It is a small chance, Jan,--a very small one!" said De Witt. "They
would surely have sent us word in any case. But go to him if it will set
thy heart at rest. I will stay with Vrouw Voorhaas the while." Jan set
out once more, his poor old legs fairly tottering under him with loss of
sleep, lack of food, and weakness. But excitement still buoyed him up,
and the faint, vague hope that Jacqueline might have passed the night
with Mevrouw Van der Werf spurred him on to one more effort. It was yet
too early to find the burgomaster at the statehouse, so he proceeded
straight to the residence in the Werfsteg.

He was obliged to lift the heavy knocker several times before he could
arouse the sleepy servants within. At length he was admitted by a
yawning, hastily clad domestic who went to call the burgomaster. Van der
Werf came down quickly, expecting another message from outside the city.
His face was pale, haggard and careworn, and his eyes showed plainly
that he had passed a sleepless night.

"Jan," he cried, "what news hast thou? Is there another message?" Then
seeing the old man's wild, questioning eyes,--"Ah! what ails thee? Has
anything dreadful happened?"

"Is she not here? Is she not here?" muttered Jan, sinking limply into a
chair.

"Is who not here?" questioned Van der Werf mystified.

"Jacqueline!--the Juffrouw Jacqueline!"

"Juffrouw Jacqueline has not been here for three days! Why, Jan, what
has happened?" Then the old man told the story, while Van der Werf
listened with darkening face.

"'Tis passing strange! 'Tis fairly devillish!" he vociferated. "I could
feel no worse if harm had come to one of my own family! Nay, I know
nothing about her, and what is worse, I can do nothing. I am as helpless
as thou art. My hands are tied! Thou sayest thou hast searched the
city?--even I can do no more! If she has by any means been taken beyond
the walls,--God help her!" The two men sat for some moments gloomily
silent. Jan had reached a point of exhaustion where his body absolutely
refused to obey the behests of his mind,--when he attempted to take his
departure, he could not rise from his chair.

"Thou must stay and have a little food and drink,--such poor stuff as I
can offer thee!" said the burgomaster seeing his plight, and he rang for
a servant to bring in such fare as they had in the house. Jan had no
heart to attack the breakfast, but Van der Werf insisted that he should
eat a little to sustain his strength. So he made a brave attempt, while
the burgomaster strode restlessly up and down the room.

"Jan, Jan!" he cried at length. "The Lord hath put more on my shoulders
than mortal man can bear! Dost thou know, it is by my will alone that
this city holds out? Daily I receive the most cajoling and fair-spoken
notes from Commander Valdez. He makes the most extravagant promises of
mercy and leniency if I will only open the gates. 'Tis but a siren's
song, as everyone well knows! Yet the dissatisfied ones are clamorous to
try once more the mercy of the Spaniard!--They accuse me of starving and
killing them for a mere question of my personal pride. My God! has not
one of my own family already died of the plague? Is not my own wife even
now desperately ill? Am _I_ the gainer by my policy? Alas, no! Jan, a
dead body was found placed against my door yesterday morning. We all
know what that means,--they lay the city's terrible plight to my
stubbornness. But while I live, I swear I will not open the gates!"

When Jan somewhat refreshed, had finished his meal and rose to start for
home, Van der Werf offered to accompany him a way, saying he wanted no
breakfast himself and must be at the statehouse early. Together they
went out, the burgomaster supporting the old man's feeble steps as
tenderly as a son might have assisted his father. Not many rods behind
them, two or three malcontents, well-known for having always leaned
toward the opinions of the Glippers, began to follow the magistrate,
muttering remarks of no very pleasant nature. Jan the fiery, turned
about once and rebuked them:

"Hold thy tongue, Janus de Vries! And thou, Pieter Brouwer, hast thou
not thyself been fed from the burgomaster's own kitchen! I know all
about thee! Who art thou to utter complaint!"

"Do not pay any more attention to them, Jan, lest they begin to be wordy
and attract more attention to themselves and us than is desirable!" said
Van der Werf. But a crowd had already begun to gather, which in an
incredibly short time grew into a mob, shouting, yelling, gesticulating,
fiercely demanding bread and the opening of the gates. The burgomaster
began to fear, not for his own life, but for that of the feeble old man
who would be so helpless in their hands did they come at last to
violence. Just at this crisis, they emerged into the triangular space in
front of the old church of St. Pancras.

Deeming the time ripe for him to exert all his powers of persuasion on
this threatening throng, Van der Werf ascended the steps of the edifice,
placed Jan in a protecting angle of the doorway, and turned about to
face the crowd. As he removed his great felt hat, the morning sunlight
fell through the surrounding lime-trees on a face, calm, imposing and
softened with a great and overwhelming sadness. Its silent appeal
touched even the hearts of the famishing mob, and when he raised his
hand there was instant silence. Then after a moment he spoke, in words
that history has forever made memorable:

"What would ye, my friends? Why do ye murmur that we do not break our
vows and surrender to the Spaniards? That would be a fate more horrible
than what the city now endures! I tell you I have made an oath to hold
the city, and may God give me strength to keep that oath! I can die but
once, whether by your hands, or the enemy's, or the hand of God. My own
fate is indifferent to me, but not so that of the city which has been
entrusted to my care. I know that we shall starve if we are not soon
relieved, but starvation is preferable to a dishonored death, is it not?
Your threats move me not! My life is at your disposal. Here is my
sword,--plunge it into my breast if ye will! Take my body to appease
your hunger, but do not expect me to surrender while I live!" He held
out his arms a moment, then dropped them at his side.

Instantly a great shout of approval went up from the multitude. In the
twinkling of an eye the threats were changed to cries of encouragement
to the city and defiance to the enemy, transmuted by the persistent,
dogged courage of one man standing absolutely alone!

"Long live Adrian Van der Werf!" they shouted. "We will indeed fight to
the end!" And leaving the two standing on the steps of St. Pancras, the
crowd rushed to the walls where they remained all day hurling renewed
defiance at the Spaniards.

When the mob had deserted them, Van der Werf escorted Jan to Belfry Lane
and left him at the door, after which he proceeded with firmer step and
easier mind to his daily duties at the statehouse. But when Jan reached
Vrouw Voorhaas's room, he sat suddenly down in a chair and looked hard
at the doctor, who noticed that the old man's expression was as exalted
as though he had seen some heavenly vision.

"What is the matter?" he asked. "Hast thou found Juffrouw Jacqueline?"

"Nay," answered Jan, "I have not found her. But Pieter de Witt, I have
just beheld the finest act of courage that it was ever the lot of one
poor man to witness! If Adrian Van der Werf can thus bear the sorrows of
a whole city on his heart, thou and I, through God, must not shrink at
the burdens His wisdom has seen fit to lay upon us!" And he told the
doctor of his morning's experience.



ALONZO DE ROVA IS AS GOOD AS HIS WORD



CHAPTER XIV

ALONZO DE ROVA IS AS GOOD AS HIS WORD


Meanwhile, Jacqueline and Gysbert, isolated in the upper room of the
little farmhouse in Zoeterwoude, found themselves with a great deal of
time on their hands, and liberty to do pretty much as they liked within
their limited space. The fiction of Gysbert's illness with the plague
was rigorously adhered to, and beyond opening the door a crack to poke
in the food, Dirk Willumhoog never ventured to intrude. Every day he
would shout through the closed door to Jacqueline, inquiring about
Gysbert's condition. Generally she would reply that he was no better, or
that the symptoms were very much worse. Very infrequently she answered
that he was a little better.

They lived on the best of fare, for Dirk was evidently anxious that the
patient should have every opportunity in that way to improve. Gysbert
now ate even more than his share, but Jacqueline was of course supposed
to have consumed the larger amount. On the whole, though, they felt that
the deception could not be sustained very much longer, without
discovery. From the barred windows they watched constantly, endeavoring
to discover in that way if possible, something that was going on. There
was little life about the farmhouse, though they occasionally saw a few
Spanish soldiers go in and out, and a woman sometimes moving about the
yard. Only once they overheard a conversation that threw some light on
whose house they were inhabiting. A soldier entered the yard one day,
and was accosted by this woman who seemed to belong to the place.

"Hast thou heard any news of my husband?" she questioned.

"Nothing certain, Vrouw Hansleer," he replied, "but there is a rumor
that the Prince has discovered him and had him cast into prison." Then
the two passed out of hearing. But Gysbert snapped his fingers
delightedly and cried:

"_Hansleer_, is it! Now I know where we are, Jacqueline! The Prince told
me that the name of the wretch who was deceiving him was Joachim
Hansleer,--dost thou not remember? And it is due to me that he has been
imprisoned! How much dost thou suppose our lives would be worth if Dirk
Willumhoog and Vrouw Hansleer knew that! Long live the Prince, and may
he keep our secret!"

But one day when Gysbert was looking from the window, he was startled by
the sight of a figure that had something familiar in its aspect. It was
a man in the uniform of a Spanish soldier who was tall and finely built,
but his face could not be seen by the boy. Presently however, he looked
up, and Gysbert recognized in an instant the features of Alonzo de
Rova! Immediately a plan formed itself in his mind.

"Jacqueline," he whispered, "it is a big risk, but I'm going to take the
chance! He half-promised to help me if ever I needed it. Now we will
see! The yard is deserted and I will try to attract his attention."
Suiting the action to the word, he gave a low whistle, and the soldier
looked up. Seeing this strange, horribly spotted face at the window, he
uttered a startled exclamation:

"By St. Lawrence! what dost thou want with me? Art thou the
plague-stricken boy Dirk Willumhoog is keeping for some unknown
purpose?"

"Yes," answered Gysbert in a low tone. "Dost thou not remember the
little Glipper lad who drew thy portrait?"

"By the Pope! I do!" replied Alonzo. "Surely thou art not he!"

"I am," said Gysbert. "Wilt thou help me? If so, ask to come up and see
me."

"But thou hast the plague!" answered the soldier. For reply Gysbert
shook his head and significantly rubbed off one of the brick-dust spots.
Alonzo gave a loud guffaw of appreciation at the joke, and nodded
encouragingly. "Wait!" he motioned with his lips, for someone was coming
out of the house. Not long after the children heard a great commotion on
the stairs. Immediately Gysbert leaped into bed, covered himself well,
and began to moan and rave incoherently, while Jacqueline trembled lest
their secret should now be discovered through her brother's rashness.
Nearer and nearer came the sounds, as of remonstrance and scuffling
combined:

"I tell thee I will see them, Dirk! It will do no harm, and thou sayest
the lass is pretty. I wager five florins she is not so fair as my
sweetheart in Madrid! Dost thou take the wager?"

"Nay, but thou wilt catch the plague! Thou canst not wish to risk that.
The boy is a terrible sight, and the very odor of the room will infect
thee!"

"Zounds, man! how careful thou art of my health! But, fortunately, I do
not fear the plague. I had it three years ago and got over it bravely.
They say one is then exempt and can never catch it again. Let me go,
Dirk."

"Aye, but I will not answer for the consequences, thou reckless man!"
answered Dirk as he reluctantly unbolted the door, shutting it again
quickly, when the soldier was once inside. Alonzo sat down on a vacant
chair, and laughed till the tears rolled down his cheeks, at the capers
Gysbert cut, raving and tossing, shouting and groaning, and flinging the
bed-clothes about.

"Thou art the cleverest lad I ever met!" he whispered, glancing
significantly at the door, to intimate that Dirk was probably outside
listening. Then aloud:

"By the Pope! thou art in a right bad predicament, and methinks thou
hast not much longer to survive, my lively boy! And thy sister is truly
as handsome as Dirk painted her. But I like the dark beauty of my Inez
best!" Here someone called Dirk loudly, and they heard him descending
the stairs. Knowing however, that his absence would probably not be for
long, they made the best use of their time.

"De Rova," hurriedly whispered Gysbert, "we are caught here like rats in
a trap! Canst thou help us to escape?"

"Willingly would I," answered the soldier, "for I have not forgotten the
splendid portrait of me which I sent to Madrid. I do truly think it has
at last turned the undecided heart of fair Inez Montagno toward me, for
her letters of late, have been warmer and less flouting. Also I bear no
particular love to Dirk Willumhoog, who has done me one or two sneaking
ill turns that he thinks I do not trace to him. But how can I aid thee?
I cannot unlock doors so carefully guarded. I cannot waft thee from
barred windows, nor can I rescue thee with ladders! What wilt thou?"

"Only one thing!" said Gysbert quickly. "Hast thou a knife about thee?
If so, leave it with me, I pray! No--" seeing the soldier's questioning
glance--"I do not mean to kill anyone with it, but with something sharp
in our possession I think we can furnish our own means of escape." For
an answer the Spaniard drew from his belt a short-handled weapon with a
strong Toledo blade, and placed it in the boy's hands. Quickly
concealing it under his mattress, Gysbert thanked him with an eloquent
look. But footsteps were again approaching, and all knew that the
interview must soon end. Alonzo turned to Jacqueline with a look of
reverent admiration in his eyes:

"Fair young Juffrouw, beyond everything do I admire thy quiet courage
and devotion to thy brother. For the sake of my lady, Donna Inez
Montagno, whom I shall one day tell all about thee, may I kiss thy hand
in farewell?" Jacqueline, genuinely touched, extended her hand. De Rova
dropped gallantly on one knee and touched it with his lips.

"I would that I could do more for thee," he whispered, "but I have done
all that is in my power. God bless you both, and grant you success!" A
knock was heard at the door, Gysbert began to rave again, and Alonzo
prepared to take his departure.

"They are hard put to it!" the children heard him telling Dirk as he
went out. "I doubt whether the boy will recover, and he is not in his
senses a minute. But I have won my wager, Dirk! I consider Donna Inez
far handsomer than thy little Juffrouw Jacqueline in there!"

"But is he not a jewel!" whispered Gysbert. "I told thee I had made a
friend when I cultivated his acquaintance. This pretty little blade is
going to save us, I hope!" and he stroked the weapon admiringly.

"But how?" demanded Jacqueline, in wonder.

"Trust me, and thou wilt see!" was all he would reply.



THE EAVESDROPPERS AND THE PLOT



CHAPTER XV

THE EAVESDROPPERS AND THE PLOT


Gysbert did not keep his sister long in doubt as to the use he proposed
to make of Alonzo de Rova's Toledo blade. The first thing he did caused
her considerable wonder and not a little alarm. In one corner of the
room he pried up the tiles of the flooring for the space of a square
foot, and cut away the planking underneath, leaving nothing but some
thin lath and plaster between them and the room below.

"Oh, Gysbert! what art thou doing?" asked Jacqueline in distress. "We
will be discovered and all will be lost!"

"Not at all!" said Gysbert as he covered up his work by carefully
replacing everything he had removed. "No one will suspect what I have
done, and through this hole we can listen to much that goes on below.
We may hear something worth while if we listen hard enough! But that is
only one thing I intend to do with this valuable weapon. Let me show
thee to what other use it may be put!" He went to the window,
reconnoitered long and carefully to see that no one was near, and then
commenced to file away at one of the iron bars, digging carefully into
the wood in which it was imbedded, and using every effort to dislodge it
from the socket in which it was set.

"This will be a long and tedious piece of work," he remarked. "There are
three thick bars, each set stoutly in woodwork nearly as hard as iron
itself, and we want to do this work so carefully that it will not be
noticeable should anyone enter the room. Each bar will have to be
loosened both top and bottom, and I know not how long it will take us.
We will work as constantly as we can, and I doubt not in time we shall
be free as the birds, as far as this window is concerned. 'Tis a good
thing the blade is sharp and enduring!"

"Yes, but even so," demurred Jacqueline, "what are we going to do when
the bars are loosed? To be as free as the birds, as thou sayest, we must
have wings, for we are fully twenty feet from the ground!"

"There are many ways to get out of a window, Jacqueline, as thou wouldst
know if thou hadst climbed in and out of one as many times as I have!
But that too will all come in good season, and meanwhile we must work
away at the bars." Hope,--even vague and indefinite hope,--lends wings
to the soul and zest to the brain and hands. This faint glimmer that had
been cast across the blackness of the two children's prospects so filled
their hearts with its brightness that they were almost gay, as they
sawed away on the stout iron bars. They would have shouted and sung, had
not that performance surely encouraged unwelcome attention in their
direction.

That same night Gysbert removed the tiles and piece of plank from the
hole he had dug in the flooring. Leaning over it the children strove to
gather, from any sounds they might hear, what was going on beneath them.
It was destined that they should hear something that night which while
it enlightened them upon several points hitherto inscrutable, served in
no way to add to their peace of mind. The room just under theirs was
evidently one that was not often used, for it seemed to be dark and
deserted. Presently however, a light shown through the cracks in the
ceiling, someone was heard moving about, and voices whispered words that
could not be distinguished. At length the sentence, "He is even now
coming!" penetrated up through the ceiling, and there was another
silence. Then the neighing of horses was heard outside. A loud tramping
of heavily shod feet resounded on the wooden floors, the door of the
room below opened, and three people entered.

"Sit you down! Pray, sit you down!" said a voice easily recognized as
Dirk Willumhoog's. "We will be secure here from all interruption and can
talk freely, with absolutely no fear of being overheard!" Here Gysbert
pinched Jacqueline till she almost laughed aloud. Two gruff voices
replied in monosyllables, and there was a scraping of chairs and
jingling of spurs, as the two horsemen placed themselves at the table.

"Now," commanded one of the gruff voices, "tell us quickly, Dirk
Willumhoog, what is this plan that thou hast, and we will then discuss
whether it be worth considering!"

"Nay, nay, Commander Valdez!" whined Dirk. "We must not be quite so
speedy!"

"Didst thou hear that, Jacqueline?" whispered Gysbert. "Commander
Valdez!--Now we are going to hear something worth while!"

"Come, come!" put in the third voice impatiently. "Why all this
parleying? If thou hast a plan worth considering, out with it, and thou
shalt be recompensed accordingly. Dost thou think us willing to sit here
all night to split hairs with such as thou?"

"Not so fast! not so fast, Colonel Borgia!" complained Dirk. "If my plan
is worth anything it is worth bargaining for, and I do not intend to
sell it cheaply, I assure you!"

"Jacqueline," again whispered Gysbert, "there is some dreadful plan
afoot! Colonel Borgia is the Spaniard in command of Fort Lammen, the
strongest redoubt against the city. Listen!--"

"Well, Dirk," interrupted Valdez, perceiving evidently that it would not
do to try bullying this subtle rascal, "tell us then what is thy price
for the service thou dost propose to render the Spanish army?"

"Fifty thousand florins!" replied Dirk, calmly but firmly.

"_Fifty thousand flying devils!_" roared Valdez pounding the table with
his fist. "Dost thou think the Spanish treasury is a mine of diamonds?
Away with thee, thou scurvy rascal! Come, Borgia! 'tis useless parleying
with a madman!"

"Gentlemen," remarked Dirk, quite unmoved by this outburst on the part
of the Spanish general, "you do me wrong. Did you but know my plan, you
would say it was easily worth full twice the amount I have named.
However, I have other ways of disposing profitably of my secret, should
my terms not appeal to you!" In the silence that ensued, the two
listeners could imagine the Spaniards consulting each other with
uncertain glances. At last the voice of Valdez spoke again, this time in
a more conciliatory tone:

"Willumhoog, I am not authorized to offer any such amount as thou dost
name. But I swear to thee that I will consult with one ever gracious
and merciful King Philip II, at the earliest opportunity, to obtain this
amount for thee, using every influence in my power."

"Will your worship put that down in writing?" inquired Dirk eagerly.

"Certainly, certainly!" replied the general, glad to have made an
impression so easily. Dirk hastened out, evidently to obtain pen and
paper, and was back again in a jiffy. "I have one more request to make,"
he remarked in honeyed tones. "As thou wilt!" said Valdez.

"It is that your worship will write at my dictation."

There was another uneasy pause, and then the general acquiesced,
muttering that he did not have to write anything that he did not wish!

"I, General Valdez," dictated Dirk, "Commander of the Spanish army
before Leyden, do hereby give my promise that I will intercede with His
Majesty, Philip II, to pay over to Dirk Willumhoog, for the valuable
secret he shall impart concerning an unknown entrance into the city, the
sum of fifty thousand florins." Scratch, scratch went the pen, and
coming to this point, Valdez exclaimed: "There now I will sign my name!"

"Not quite yet!" said Dirk quietly. "There is something else!"--"And if
I do not succeed in so persuading His Majesty, I stand ready to
reimburse said Dirk Willumhoog for the amount remaining above what he
shall have already received, out of my own private funds and estates."

"Never!" shouted Valdez, springing to his feet and clanking around the
room. "Dost thou take me for a natural-born fool, thou sneaking rascal!"

"The loss will be all your worship's," responded Dirk unmoved, "as the
glory would also be, could you but take the city by surprise. I am not
asking for glory. I do not wish my part in it to become generally
known. All I ask is the gold!" Valdez and Borgia consulted together for
a moment in low tones, and the result of their consultation seemed to be
the hasty decision that they must capitulate.

"Very well!" declared the general, "I will write as thou hast said, but
mark my words! Thou hadst better keep out of my way, Dirk Willumhoog,
when this transaction is completed!"

"And now, gentlemen, just one thing more," added Dirk when the writing
was finished and in his possession. "As an earnest of your good faith, I
require a thousand florins to be paid me at once!" More splutterings
from Borgia and explosions from Valdez ensued, but this was evidently
mere bluster, for after a due amount of bickering and bargaining, a
clinking of coins was heard, and money was counted out slowly and
reluctantly.

"There!" said Valdez, "Thou hast now every jot thou didst demand. Out
with thy secret, and be quick about it, for we have not all night to
spend!"

"This, then, is my story," answered Dirk. "I have discovered--never mind
how!--a passageway through a certain part of the wall of Leyden. Not a
soul knows of its existence save myself, and none could ever find it
unassisted, for I myself stumbled upon it quite by chance. There is room
for but one to pass through at a time, and the passage is dangerous. But
it would be an easy matter to introduce a regiment of soldiers through
it in the night, and in the morning the town would be yours for the
inhabitants are all too weak from starvation to make much resistance."

"But where _is_ this secret passage?" demanded Valdez.

"That will I not divulge till I lead the first soldier through it,"
replied Willumhoog shrewdly. "When does your worship think would be the
best and earliest opportunity to effect the entrance?"

Again Valdez and Borgia consulted together.

"To-day is the thirtieth of September," replied the general. "On the
night of October third we will have all in readiness, and thou shalt
fulfill thy promise. At the same time Colonel Borgia shall make an
assault upon the wall on the opposite side of the city, and thus draw
off the attention from our place of ingress." With a few more remarks
relative to the payment of the money, and a hasty and anything but
cordial leave-taking, the two Spaniards tramped out, mounted their
horses and rode away. The lights in the room below were extinguished,
the door was shut, and darkness and silence reigned throughout the
farmhouse. But up in their prison room, the two children clasped each
other and shuddered with horror at the dark crime that was soon to be
committed.

"It is frightful, Gysbert!" moaned Jacqueline. "Our beautiful city that
has so long and so bravely held out will be given over by this traitor
to the Spanish fury!"

"But what makes me feel the worst," raged Gysbert, "is that I could not
warn the burgomaster of that breach, as the Prince bade me! Why did I
not think to tell Mynheer Van der Werf before I went away! Why didst not
thou tell him, Jacqueline?"

"I somehow never thought of it when I was with him, and he never asked
me how Dirk got in. I think his mind was all but distracted with the
burden of the city's distress, so that he could give no heed to what
seemed then but a comparatively light matter. Oh, Gysbert! can we do
nothing about it? Surely God who led us to overhear this vile plot will
show us the way to foil it!"

"I think He will!" said Gysbert reverently. "And anyhow, I am going to
pray to-night that He show us some means of getting out of our prison
and warning the city. Wilt thou too, Jacqueline?"

"I will indeed!" answered the girl. "And before we go to bed we will
work long at the bars, for that seems our surest means of escape."

"Only three days!" groaned Gysbert. "I would that it were as many times
as far away. But in three days we can do much--if we work hard!"



WHEN THE WIND CHANGED



CHAPTER XVI

WHEN THE WIND CHANGED


All the next day the children bent every effort toward sawing and
digging away at their window bars, but the hours wore away and only one
had been completely loosened, while another was unfastened at the
bottom. The knife-blade was becoming dull with this rough usage, and
their courage dropped in proportion as their strength gave out and night
approached. Well on in the afternoon, Gysbert again removed the tiles
and planking, for both had imagined they heard unusual sounds in the
room below. They were not mistaken. A moment's listening convinced them
that it was Dirk and the wife of Joachim Hansleer, holding an animated
conversation in low tones.

"Give me my share now, Dirk!" they heard the woman say. "If thou art
going to depart for Spain shortly, it will be just as well to settle up
this matter at once. I know not where my good man Joachim is, nor when I
will see him again, and I need the money."

"I shall not depart for Spain with those brats till after the sack of
the city, when the boy ought to be better. I do not half believe he is
as ill as he makes out to be. Why canst thou not wait till then?"
answered Dirk. "I must go away this afternoon, and will probably not be
back till after the third. I am going to make one more test to see if my
secret is still safe and practicable. When I return will be time
enough!"

"Thou art a slippery eel, Dirk Willumhoog, and that I know right well!"
replied the woman. "After the excitement is all over, thou wouldst find
some means of sliding away without paying up thy just debts. I swear to
thee that if thou dost not pay me at once those three hundred florins
which are due me for my trouble, I will go straightway upstairs after
thou art gone to the city and release those two children! And I care not
what may be the consequences!"

This knock-down argument evidently convinced Dirk that it would be best
to parley no longer with the decided Vrouw Hansleer, but pay her at
once. There was a clinking of coins, a counting aloud, several disputes
over the reckoning, and at last the matter was settled and peace
restored.

"Remember," warned Dirk as they were leaving the room, "to guard those
children well, for they will surely mean more money to us--" Then the
door was shut and the listeners heard no more.

"What can all this mean!" queried Gysbert. "Didst thou hear him speak of
'taking those two brats to Spain in a short time'? That means us, of
course! What can he possibly mean to do with us there, and how can we
bring him more money? One would think we were important personages and
he was trying to get a ransom for us!"

"It is all dark and mysterious," answered his sister, "but if we do what
we hope, Master Willumhoog will receive a little surprise before October
third! Come, we must waste no more time, but work away!" Later on they
saw Dirk Willumhoog leave the house, carrying with him a bag which they
did not doubt contained the remaining seven hundred florins. While
watching his progress down the road, Gysbert's attention suddenly became
fixed on something in the sky, and he seized Jacqueline's arm excitedly.

"Look, look!" he cried. "Dost thou see?"

"I see nothing! What is it?"

"Why the wind is changing! Look at those black clouds rising out of the
northwest! Look at the leaves of the trees all bending toward the east!
Look at the birds flying so low! I tell thee, Jacqueline, we are going
to have a terrible storm! The equinoctial gale should have come a week
ago, but it is here at last!"

What Gysbert predicted was quite correct. The continual east wind had at
last shifted to the northwest, bringing with it the strong, salt smell
of the sea. The sky was still beautifully clear and blue, but a
weather-wise person would have certainly read the signs of coming
change. Dirk Willumhoog was now far out of sight, but they saw Vrouw
Hansleer come out to the yard and scan the horizon anxiously.

"Here, Jacqueline," said Gysbert when the woman had gone in, "give me
that knife now, while thou dost take a rest. We must get along even
faster, for if the wind holds and the water rises, there will be fine
doings to-night, and we want to be prepared to take our part. Look! I
think the top of this end bar will give way in a short time."

"This surely will float the fleet, will it not?" asked his sister. "The
night I was captured Boisot sent a message that he was at Nord Aa, but
must remain there until the water rose. They have probably been stranded
there ever since."

"Surely, surely!" answered Gysbert. "And what is more, we ought to have
a full view from our little window here, if they come by. For though we
are a good distance from the canal, I think we could get a fine sight of
a battle, if there is to be one. Oh, I hope there will be a battle!" In
a frenzy of excitement, they kept at their work till darkness fell.
Before the last streaks of twilight had faded, they had witnessed the
puddles in the road grow and spread into small ponds, the ponds widen
and join themselves into a shallow lake which lapped against the walls
of the house.

Then came the tempest! The wind raged and howled; the sky was black with
high-piled clouds; the tree branches tossed and groaned, or were split
asunder with loud cracking noises; the walls of the farmhouse shook,
the windows rattled, and pandemonium itself seemed let loose! The
children trembled, half with awed admiration at this war in the
elements, half with delight at what this would mean to the besieged
city, and clasped their hands convulsively at every louder roar of the
wind or crash of huge trees falling. Down below it was evident that
panic and disorder reigned supreme. Cries and shouts of dismay mingled
with the shrill screaming of a woman's voice. Once they heard Vrouw
Hansleer splash out into the flooded yard, calling to someone unseen in
the darkness:

"Come, Wilhelm! come and help me move my furniture! Oh, my beautiful
furniture! it will all be ruined!"

"Zounds, woman!" responded the voice. "Dost thou think thou canst save
thy wretched furniture in this pass! Thou shalt be thankful to get off
with thy life! Take what thou canst carry and be quick, for the Kirk-way
is broken through, and the flood will soon be upon us. Hurry, hurry, I
say! Merciful St. Anthony! I can hear it roar now!" And true enough,
from far in the distance came a faint, ominous sound, low at first as
the sighing of a summer breeze, yet dreadful enough to those who
understood it, to paralyze every muscle with terror. With one final
shriek Vrouw Hansleer darted into the house for a moment, then out again
and the children heard the retreating footsteps splashing hurriedly down
the road. After that a deathlike silence reigned in the house.

"Gysbert, they have gone and left us!" cried the terrified Jacqueline.
"Left us to perish here like rats drowned in a trap when the flood
reaches us! Oh, it is cruel, cruel!"

"Nonsense!" retorted her brother. "This is the finest thing that could
have happened. I am certain the flood will not rise higher than these
windows, so we will be perfectly safe from drowning. And now that they
have deserted the house, we can turn our attention to getting out of the
door somehow, and not bother with these window bars any longer. I feel
certain the wood of the door will yield to this knife, and when we have
made a hole big enough, we can crawl out, or burst it open, or pull back
the bolts, or something. But we must be quick about it, for we want to
get ahead of Dirk and warn the city before October third. That is the
day after to-morrow." In the pitchy darkness they groped and found the
door. Gysbert began immediately to hack away at one of the panels,
finding that it offered much less resistance than did the deeply
imbedded iron bars of the window.

"Courage, Jacqueline!" he called at intervals. "We are going to make it
soon, without fail. But thou hadst best keep watch at the window." The
storm far from abating, increased in violence. The wind shifted again
from the northwest to the southwest, piling up the waters of the German
ocean in huge masses, and dashing them against the broken dykes. At
about eleven o'clock, the ominous, distant murmur increased to a loud
roar. Jacqueline at the window called to Gysbert, and together they
watched the terrible, awe-inspiring sight, or as much of it as they
could see in the darkness.

The dreadful _something_ approached nearer and nearer, till, with an
ear-splitting sound it suddenly appeared out of the gloom,--a huge black
wall of water nearly ten feet high, rolling forward with incredible
swiftness, deluging, submerging, or pushing before it everything that
came in its way. For one horrible instant it surged about the house,
rocking the structure to its very foundations, and threatening to uproot
it outright, and fling it to the ground. But the house stood firm, and
the vanguard of the flood passed on, leaving the water well up to the
second story window, and burying all else in its swirling depths.

When this moment of danger was past the children breathed again. Gysbert
went back to his work on the door with only an, "I told thee so!" while
Jacqueline kept watch at her post by the window. The black waters just a
little way below her seemed dangerously near, and she imagined them to
be rapidly rising. But as they were not yet up to the window, the
children were for the present, at least, safe.

At midnight another panorama was spread before their eyes. While Gysbert
was digging away at the door, Jacqueline was suddenly startled by a
bright flash and a sharp report, across the black waste of waters.
Instantly it was followed by a resounding roar, as from the mouths of
twenty cannon. Gysbert dropped the knife and rushed to the window.

"The fleet! The fleet!" he cried. "They have passed the Kirk-way, and
are making their way toward the city! Long live Admiral Boisot!" It was
indeed the doughty Admiral and his fearless Beggars of the Sea. Up till
that day he had been all but in despair, and had even written to the
Prince of Orange that the expedition must be abandoned if the wind did
not change. Then came the storm. The waters rose, and the Kirk-way,
already broken through, was soon levelled, and the flotilla passed in
triumph at midnight toward the village of Zoeterwoude. Not half a mile
distant from the farmhouse in which the children were incarcerated, the
fleet received its first challenge from the guarding Spanish sentinels,
and answered with such a roar of cannon as all but staggered the
astounded outposts.

Then ensued a terrible battle, amid a scene perhaps the strangest in
which ever a battle was fought. From out the village of Zoeterwoude
flocked the Spanish, making their way in any kind of craft on which they
could lay hands. The fleet found itself progressing amid half-submerged
tree-tops and orchards, interspersed with chimney stacks and the roofs
of low houses. In this strange surrounding they grappled with the
Spanish enemy. All the advantage, however, was on their side, as they
had but to upset the frail crafts of the Spanish in order to create the
most utter rout in the ranks of the enemy.

From the window the children watched the strange spectacle, the room
being frequently illuminated by the glare from the cannons. So near were
they, that even the shouts and cries reached them distinctly, and once
was borne to them across the waters, the "Song of the Beggars" uplifted
in a swelling chorus of triumphant voices:

  "Long live the Beggars! Wilt thou God's word cherish--
  Long live the Beggars! bold of heart and hand.
  Long live the Beggars! God will not see thee perish.
  Long live the Beggars! oh, noble Christian band!"

Then the fleet swept on, and though the sound of shouting and
cannonading diminished but little, the battle passed out of the range of
the children's vision.

When morning dawned over the waste of gray waters, it revealed a weird
and desolate scene outside the window. But inside, it lighted up a door
in which Gysbert had carved a hole long enough for him to reach his arm
through and unloose the bolts!



A CRASH IN THE NIGHT



CHAPTER XVII

A CRASH IN THE NIGHT


With a mighty effort Gysbert drew back the massive bolt and chain that
had so long kept them prisoners, pushed open the demolished door, and
they stood outside the room--free at last!

"Go cautiously!" warned he. "We are not yet absolutely sure that
everyone is out of the house. But I have this knife, if we meet anyone,
and it comes to the worst. We won't try to go down stairs,--it would be
like diving into a tank!" And indeed the water had entered the house and
crept three-quarters of the way up the staircase, while bumping against
the ceiling of the rooms below, floated articles of Vrouw Hansleer's
cherished furniture.

From room to room on the second floor the children crept, carefully
listening and waiting before they entered any door. But the house was
plainly deserted, except for themselves, and in a short time they
abandoned all caution, rollicking about in their new freedom like a
couple of three-year-olds! Theirs, they soon discovered, were the only
other bedrooms on that floor, and of course the only ones with barred
windows. Two other large apartments occupied the remaining space, one
evidently used as a storeroom, the other as a granary. Both had large,
open windows through which it would be easy to pass.

For a long time they stood at one of these windows, watching the strange
sight outside. The water swept by from the ocean inward with a rapid
current, bearing on its surface every imaginable article that could
float. Boxes, barrels, furniture of every description, parts of houses,
here and there a struggling cow or pig, and not infrequently a great
haystack striking out majestically on its impromptu voyage. Once a
baby's cradle completely furnished, came in sight, and Jacqueline went
nearly wild with terror and excitement lest it might bear a precious
burden in its wrappings. But as it was swept nearer they saw that it was
empty, and both children breathed a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, Gysbert of the fertile brain had already concocted a plan of
escape.

"I tell thee, Jacqueline, we shall get out of here in the easiest way
imaginable, if we can only fish out of this muddle the thing we need!
Sooner or later some small boat is bound to come along,--I know it, for
I saw one way off there just now, too far away to reach. First we will
try to forage up something to eat, if that is possible, for I am nearly
starved and thou must be also. Then we will each station ourselves at a
window,--I in this room and thou in the granary,--to watch for a boat.
In this way we can see from both directions. I will be prepared to swim
for it if it comes near enough, and then the matter will be simple."

"Aye, but I advise thee to first wash thy face!" responded Jacqueline
gaily. "That plague-smitten countenance of thine would frighten away any
rescuers we might encounter!" And so, laughing, Gysbert followed her
advice, leaning out of the window to dabble his hands in the water that
now lapped within a foot of the sill.

Breakfast was about as difficult a matter as any they had to undertake,
for everything eatable was downstairs, and it would be worse than
useless to attempt procuring anything from those water-soaked depths.
Beside, they had very little notion as to the whereabouts of the
kitchen. So they turned again to the windows to solve their problem,
counting it almost certain that eatables of some sort must in due time
go sailing by. Their watch was long but not in vain, for in an hour or
so, there hove in sight a loaf of bread floating so close that it was
within reach of a long stick which they used to secure their treasure.
Water-logged and unsavory as it was, they devoured it with unspeakable
relish, for was it not the first meal they had eaten in freedom this
many a weary day!

Then came the watch for the craft that was to bear them away. But the
morning wore on, and though they strained their eyes in every direction,
nothing in the least available came into view. The water continued to
rise till it was only six inches below the window ledge, and should it
come much further, their position might be reckoned exceedingly
precarious. What they should do if the second floor became flooded
except climb out on the roof, they could not imagine. At last, well on
in the afternoon, Jacqueline called excitedly from her lookout:

"Gysbert! Gysbert! Come here immediately! The very thing!" He was at her
side in an instant, and there, sure enough, coming rapidly down stream
was a little, shallow rowboat bobbing gaily along on the waves. In a
very few moments it would be abreast of them.

"I'll have to swim for it," said Gysbert. "It's too far away to reach
with the pole!" Hastily flinging off some of his outer garments he
plunged out of the window. He reached the spot opposite the window not
an instant too soon; just as the stern of the boat swung by he grasped
it and climbed clumsily aboard. But to Jacqueline's surprise, he did not
instantly grasp the oars and start to pull back. Instead he put his
hands to his mouth, shouted, "No oars!" and in a twinkling was swept
from her sight.

For a moment the situation did not seem very serious, and she waited
calmly, thinking he would soon pick up an oar or a pole and return to
her. But the time passed on and he did not come. The minutes grew into
half an hour, then dragged themselves out to a full hour. Still no
Gysbert! Jacqueline became almost distracted, and the situation
warranted every fear that thronged her terrified soul. Suppose the water
should rise and flood the room? Suppose the night should fall and add
its horrors to the prospect? Suppose Dirk Willumhoog should return and
snatch her away to unknown terrors? Suppose Gysbert should be swamped in
his little boat and drowned? Suppose?--But the accumulated burden of
these fears was too great to be borne. She fell on her knees by the
window ledge in an agony of prayer, but could only murmur:

"Oh, God, God, God! Help!--"

The afternoon waned and twilight drew down. The water was now within an
inch of the window ledge, but Jacqueline did not notice. She knelt with
her head buried in her arms, and neither saw nor heard anything.
Suddenly she was aroused from this half-stupor by a loud shout. She
raised her head and perceived to her delight, a bulky canal vessel, so
close that it looked as though it were about to sail right in the
window. Over the prow leaned Gysbert, and a man whose face she did not
recognize.

"Oh, Jacqueline!" called her brother. "Didst thou think I had forsaken
thee? Well, I've had the amazing good fortune to be picked up by Herr
Captain Joris Fruytiers, and we came at once to get thee!" It took but a
moment to launch the little boat, and take Jacqueline on board. As she
crept into the boat, Gysbert noticed that the water was just beginning
to trickle over the window-sill into the room.

"Jacqueline, we weren't a moment too soon, were we?" he remarked
gravely. When the girl had been established in comfortable quarters in
the roomy old canal-vessel, Gysbert told her the history of his
adventures since he had been swept from her sight. He had at first felt
perfectly confident of finding an oar or a pole floating along in the
general confusion, so he did not jump out and swim back as he might have
done. But the current bore him on and on, and nothing available did he
see in all his journey. Presently, as he was watching over one side of
the boat, he heard a hearty voice call out from the opposite direction:

"Ship ahoy! Well, if that isn't a pretty small fry commanding that
bark!" and he recognized the gruff voice of his former acquaintance on
the road to Delft. Captain Fruytiers had lost no time in getting both
himself and his little boat aboard the big lugger which he said he was
taking to join the fleet of Boisot at Zwieten. Gysbert quickly told the
bluff captain his story and easily persuaded him to turn back and rescue
Jacqueline from her perilous position.

This was all, except that from some passing vessel they had picked up
the news that the Fleet had made a most triumphant progress all day,
scattering the Spaniards right and left, as they poured from the
captured fortresses and fled along the road to the Hague. But Boisot had
now arrived before the strongest Spanish redoubt,--the fortress of
Lammen, less than five hundred rods from the city. Here he was obliged
to halt, for it swarmed with soldiers, bristled with artillery, and
defied the fleet to either capture it by force, or pass under its guns.
The Admiral hoped to carry the fort next morning, but he expected a
stiff battle.

Joris Fruytiers was to join the rear of the flotilla and help to swell
its numbers. Plainly it was no situation for Jacqueline, in the midst of
these battle-thirsty Beggars of the Sea, and yet no safer place could be
found for her at present. So it was decided that she should remain on
board, but Gysbert's head was full of another plan for himself:

"I _must_ get into the city somehow! It would be horrible, with relief
so near, to have that scoundrel, Dirk, lead in a Spanish regiment and
bring about an untimely surrender," he urged. "What is more, I have not
a minute to spare, for to-morrow night the deed is to be done. If I can
get in to-night it will be time enough to warn the burgomaster and
raise a defending corps to guard the breach. Stay thou here with good
Joris Fruytiers, and I will take the small boat and a pair of oars, and
row to the side where I can get through the scattering army, and into
Dirk Willumhoog's clever little entrance!"

So Jacqueline acquiesced, and watched her brother row away with much
trepidation and many muttered prayers for his safety. Darkness soon shut
each boat from the sight of the other, but Gysbert paddled on keeping
clear of floating debris as best he could, and trying hard to ascertain
through the blackness just what was his location. Several times he found
himself far out of his course, and thus more than one valuable hour was
lost. At length, however, the water became too shallow to continue
rowing, and he disembarked, tying the boat to a tree. By several signs
he recognized the spot to be near where he had come out of the hidden
tunnel, several weeks ago. Of the Spanish army at this spot, there
remained but a few stragglers gathering up their possessions.

Gysbert concluded that the safest place for him was the tree to which he
had tied his boat, and he was soon among its branches. From here he
watched the departure of the last Spaniard, and was just about to
descend, when one solitary sneaking shadow attracted his attention. In
the blackness of the night he could discover little of its intentions,
but as it moved off in the direction of the wall, he decided to get down
and follow it. The shadow glided along straight for the wall till it
finally disappeared behind the bushes that hid the secret opening. When
Gysbert arrived on the spot, there was not even a shadow to be seen.
Then a great light dawned on his mind.

"Dirk Willumhoog!" he whispered. "What on earth am I to do now?" For a
moment he stood undecided. He dared not venture into the secret passage
while his enemy was there. And should Dirk not come back it was still
very unsafe, for he might be guarding the other entrance. But the matter
was soon to be solved in a way very different from any he could possibly
have imagined.

While he stood considering his course, he was startled by a curious
rumbling sound that appeared to emanate from the very earth under his
feet. Then there were grinding and groaning noises, low and indistinct,
but terrifying beyond imagination. Gysbert's hair fairly rose on his
head, and something impelled him to beat the hastiest kind of a retreat.
Turning on his heel, he ran with all speed to his boat, unmoored it,
pushed it off, and rowed far out upon the black water.

Suddenly there was a terrific sound like an explosion, then a crash that
shook the earth for miles around, and made Gysbert's little boat rock on
the waves till it all but over-turned completely. When the boy
recovered himself enough to realize what had happened, it did not take
him long to explain the dreadful sounds. Undermined by the stream so
long secretly eating at its base, the whole wall of Leyden between the
Cow Gate and the Tower of Burgundy had suddenly fallen in utter ruins!



THE DAWN OF OCTOBER THIRD



CHAPTER XVIII

THE DAWN OF OCTOBER THIRD


Gysbert rowed away frantically from the scene of destruction. He had
not, for the moment, the slightest idea what direction he was taking,
but his mind was actively at work. The wall of Leyden had fallen in for
the space of nearly a quarter of a mile! If the Spaniards had the
faintest suspicion of this, he reasoned, they would flock immediately to
the scene, and make an easy and terrible entrance. There was no
defending the breach from the _inside_, for the brave, but
hunger-enfeebled corps of John Van der Does would be as nothing before
the fierce thousands of the Spanish army. To his mind there remained but
one course,--he must in some way get word to Admiral Boisot and his Sea
Beggars, and let them make an entrance into the city before the
Spaniards got wind of the disaster.

With this end in view he looked about him, ascertained as nearly as he
could the position of the fleet, and commenced to row steadily in that
direction. As he drew near the Fortress of Lammen, however, he became
aware that something very strange was taking place. Wonderingly he
shipped his oars and turned about to watch the curious sight. Myriads of
tiny lights twinkled across the dark waste of waters. There was almost
no sound, but only a vague impression that something mysterious was
happening. After a time the lights formed themselves into a long
procession which seemed to flit steadily across the one remaining
causeway that led to the Hague.

The boy sat breathless, eager, marvelling at this apparently
never-ending procession of lights, twinkling in single file over what
seemed the very face of the water. For a time he could find no
explanation for this singular spectacle, till all at once the truth
flashed on him. The Spaniards were retreating! Under cover of darkness,
they were silently sneaking away, fleeing panic-stricken from the
unknown terror of that hideous sound in the night,--fleeing like cowards
at the very moment when fortune had rendered their entrance to the
coveted city as easy as stepping over a log!

Truly had God's providence operated in a marvellous manner! At the crash
of the falling wall, the terrified citizens of Leyden believed that the
Spaniards had at last effected their entrance in some horrible way. The
Spanish, on the other hand, felt certain that the citizens were making a
final, desperate sortie. And between this new danger on one side, and
the fierce Sea Beggars and the inward-surging ocean on the other, they
deemed retreat to be their only course, short of complete extermination,
and they fled away in the night.

For two hours Gysbert sat in his little boat and watched the retreat.
In all the city of Leyden or its environments, he was the only soul that
night who was aware of the true state of affairs. At length the last few
straggling lights disappeared, and all was silence and darkness. When he
was convinced that a nearer approach was safe, he rowed slowly toward
Fort Lammen, reconnoitering carefully at almost every yard. But the
nearer he drew, the plainer it became that the fort was absolutely
deserted. Boldly landing at the foot of the battlement, he entered at
the cannon-defended gate, and found the enclosure empty. Colonel Borgia
and his troops had fled so hastily that even some of their time-honored
battle-flags were left behind!

Gysbert was not content, however, with ascertaining only the condition
of Lammen. It was quite possible that the retreating army had halted at
Leyderdorp, the headquarters of Valdez, half a mile away. Now that he
was about it, he concluded that he might as well investigate there
before daylight. Again pushing off his boat, he paddled across the
shallow lake that now spread over what was ordinarily meadow-land. But
Leyderdorp was also deserted. Guided by a dying camp-fire, he reached a
small building which he guessed to be the abode of General Valdez. The
fire was built before the doorway, and over it was still cooking a pot
of "hodge-podge" or stewed meat and vegetables. Evidently it had been
intended for the breakfast of the general, but so speedy had been the
retreat that it was left behind in the hurry.

"Whew!" ejaculated Gysbert, leaning over the pot. "This smells right
savory to a stomach that has had nothing to-day but half a water-soaked
loaf! Thanks, my cowardly friends! I'll partake of your bounty before I
do another thing!" Swinging the pot from its hook, and scarcely waiting
for it to cool, he helped himself to a large quantity doled out with a
great iron spoon, and ate as only a half-starved, healthy boy can eat,
till he could hold no more.

Hunger satisfied, he proceeded to investigate the fleeing general's
quarters. By the dying fire-light he could discern several maps of
Leyden and the outlying districts pinned about the walls, and on the
table lay a scrap of paper hastily written upon. Gysbert took it out to
the fire, coaxed the embers into a blaze, and kneeling over the flames
tried to decipher the writing. It was in Latin, and very poor Latin at
that, and was plainly the General's farewell to the city. Gysbert had
been for over a year studying this language in school, so he was able to
construe its meaning fairly well.

"_Vale civitas!_" he read. "_Valete castelli parvii, qui relicti estis
propter aquam et non per vim inimicorum!_"

"'_Vale civitas!_'--That's 'Farewell city of Leyden!' I suppose.
'_Valete castelli parvii--_' What in the world can he mean by that! If I
had written such stuff in the Latin-school, the master would have boxed
my ears and kept me in from play for three days to write my
conjugations! What this doughty Spaniard _wished_ to remark was
probably--'Farewell miserable town! Thou art abandoned because of the
water, and not because of the strength of thy resistance!' Oh, ho! noble
Valdez, thy Latin is as poor as thy courage! I must keep this carefully
to hand to Admiral Boisot."

But the dawn was already breaking, and Gysbert hurried back to Lammen,
carrying with him as a souvenir, the iron pot of hodge-podge. Early that
morning there was to be a combined assault on the fort by the Admiral's
fleet and the citizens of the town. The day before, Boisot had
despatched the last pigeon into the city, urging the starving populace
to aid him in one last desperate attack. With the first streaks of
daylight all was in readiness, and the Admiral prepared to push his
fleet under the very guns of cannon-bristling Lammen. But to his great
astonishment, as the flotilla drew nearer, not a sound came from within
the fort, not a vestige of life was to be seen anywhere. A sickening
fear assailed him that the Spaniards had entered the walls during the
night, which would explain the hideous sounds he had heard, and were
already sacking the city.

Suddenly upon the summit of the breastwork appeared the figure of a
small boy. With one hand he waved his cap, and in the other he
brandished a great pot of hodge-podge.

"Come on! Come on!" he shouted. "They've gone! They fled in the night!
Have no fear!" For a moment good Boisot could hardly believe his senses.
But his sailors lost no time, pushed the fleet to the very walls of the
fortress and found it to be true. Past the terrible Lammen they floated
in triumph. The watching, wondering citizens of the city opened the
gates with shouts of joy, and the conquering fleet sailed in. Leyden was
saved!

In the twinkling of an eye were the canals and docks lined with throngs
of the starving populace. They grasped with famished delight the loaves
of bread thrown to them by the jolly Beggars of the Sea, and nearly
choked themselves to death trying to swallow huge mouthfuls without even
chewing them.

Gysbert waited impatiently on the fortress till he saw the familiar
lugger of Joris Fruytiers come into view, and then ran down and climbed
aboard her. Words cannot describe the meeting between himself and
Jacqueline, who during that night of terror and uncertainty had given
him up for dead. They had much to tell each other, but little time to
give to it, for old Captain Joris demanded at once the whole history of
Gysbert's night, and was loud in the praise of his bravery.

When the last vessel had entered the gates, stanch Admiral Boisot stood
on the deck of his flag-ship and made a speech to the assembled crowds.
He ended by saying that both the city and the Sea Beggars had much to
thank God for, and proposed that they all proceed to the great cathedral
of St. Peter, to render their praise to the God of Battles at once. Then
many remembered what in the excitement of the moment they had quite
forgotten--that the day was Sunday! With the Admiral at their head, they
marched in solid ranks down the Breede Straat, and entered the cathedral
reverently.

"Shall we go?" questioned Gysbert of his sister. "Or dost thou think we
had best go straight home first?"

"No," answered Jacqueline, "I think God's worship claims us before all
else!" and they entered the church with the rest. Only a suffering,
plague-stricken, lately besieged and recently delivered people could
have rendered such thanks as rose up to God's throne from St. Peter's
that day. There were sounds of suppressed sobbing all through the
congregation, and strong men's eyes grew moist when the clergyman read:

"'Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for His
wonderful works to the children of men!

"'They cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of
their distresses!

"'For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry with good
things!

"'He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death. He brake
their bands in sunder!

"'For He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind which lifteth up the
waves!

"'Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth
forever!'"

Then the congregation rose, and every voice joined in their battle-hymn:

  "A mighty fortress is our God,
    A bulwark never failing!
  Our helper He amid the flood
    Of mortal ills prevailing.
  For still our ancient foe
    Doth seek to work us woe,
  His craft and power are great,
    And armed with cruel hate,--
  On earth is not his equal!"

But in the midst of the second verse, a general emotion checked the
volume of sound. One by one the voices failed, till at last the whole
vast multitude broke down and wept like children, out of the great
thankfulness for their deliverance. In their corner by a window, Gysbert
openly sobbed with his head on his arm, and Jacqueline stood with the
tears raining down her face, and the glad light of happiness in her
eyes.

"Come," she said when the service was over. "We must hasten at once to
Vrouw Voorhaas! I have sad misgivings that all is not well with her."
They had, however, gone but a few steps when they heard a shout behind
them, and turning they beheld Dr. Pieter de Witt beckoning to them and
running as fast as he could come. Seizing Gysbert, he hugged him
distractedly, and he squeezed Jacqueline's hand till she almost screamed
aloud.

"You blessed, blessed children!" he shouted. "I never supposed I should
see you again! Ah, this will indeed re-animate old Jan, and even Vrouw
Voorhaas may--but come!" And he rushed them along so fast that
Jacqueline could hardly find breath in which to ask after the sick
woman.

"She is very, very low!" panted De Witt. "We hardly expect her to live
through the day, but the sight of you two may make some difference,--I
cannot tell! Hurry, hurry!" They reached Belfry Lane, stopped a moment
to regain breath, and all three crept upstairs as softly as possible.
The opened door revealed a strange sight to their astonished gaze. Jan
stood huddled in a corner, eyes wide with amazement, apprehension, and
doubt. Vrouw Voorhaas, withered and shrunken by her long illness, half
sat up in her bed looking more like a ghost than a living being. But
most astonishing of all, over her leaned a stranger, a tall, gaunt man
clad in the uniform of the Beggars of the Sea. He bent over the woman,
clasping her hand and questioning her anxiously in a low voice. Her
face was lined with despair, and her words, though faint, were audible
to the listeners at the door:

"Gone!--gone!--not here!--" Suddenly she raised her head and saw the
newcomers. With a great happy cry she pointed to them:

"They are here! they are safe!--I have fulfilled my duty,--praise God!"
and she fell back unconscious on the pillow.



THE SECRET OUT



CHAPTER XIX

THE SECRET OUT


Dr. De Witt flew to Vrouw Voorhaas's assistance, pushing the stranger
unceremoniously aside in his haste. For a moment no one spoke while he
busied himself over the sick woman. Then he turned to the intruder,
sternly inquiring:

"Who art thou, and why art thou here?" The man pulled off his cap
ornamented with the Beggar's crescent, and drew himself up to face the
physician.

"I am Dr. Cornellisen," he said, "and I have come to claim my children!"

Struck dumb with amazement and incredulity, not a soul moved. Then De
Witt advanced a step and stuttered:

"But--b-b-but--Dr. Cornellisen is dead!"

"No, he is not dead!" answered the stranger. "He never died--but there
was excellent reason why he should be considered so. Come, children!
will you not kiss your father?" And he held out his arms to the two.
Then the spell was broken. Doubting no longer, Jacqueline and Gysbert
rushed into his embrace, while Jan blubbered in his joy like a great
baby, and Dr. de Witt tore around the room, alternately laughing and
crying, and trying to shake hands with Jan. The confusion lasted many
minutes, during which time Vrouw Voorhaas came unassisted to her senses,
and smiled understandingly on the scene.

"Oh, my boy and girl!" said the father at last. "God has brought us
through many strange trials and vicissitudes to the happiness of this
meeting! But now, if it pleases Him, we shall never part again."

"But father," answered Jacqueline, "we can scarcely yet realize that
thou art our father, so much dost thou seem like one risen from the
dead! Wilt thou not tell us the whole story?"

"I will indeed, daughter, and right here and now, since it must seem
passing strange to you all." They sat down to listen breathlessly, while
Dr. Cornellisen began his story. As the tale unfolded, it revealed many
things to them that had long been hidden in mystery.

"Jacqueline here must remember," he commenced, "the time when I
mysteriously disappeared six year ago. And so must thou, Dr. de Witt,
for now I recognize thy face, and thank thee for thy devotion to me and
mine. Well, as you all know, the young Count de Buren was cunningly
enticed away from the University of Louvain by King Philip's orders, to
be taken to Spain and either killed outright, or kept as a hostage. He
was only a boy of thirteen, and they flattered and cajoled him with fine
promises. Count de Chassy had been sent from Spain with a retinue,
under the pretext of escorting the young Count on a visit to His Majesty
Philip II.

"The boy was under my special care, and I counselled him strongly not to
accept these doubtful honors. But the child was uncontrollable in his
desire to have his own way, and before I could get word to the Prince of
Orange, the start was made. Young De Buren was to travel in state,
though secretly. He had a retinue of two pages, two valets, a cook and
an accountant, and moreover insisted that I should go with him as a
personal companion. I was nothing loath to do so, for I thought I might
thus be able to shield him from harm. My presence, however, was not
relished by the Spanish envoys, but at first they thought it best not to
oppose the boy's wish.

"We reached the borders of Spain, and camped one night in a little
mountain village. As the evening was fine, I determined to take a short
stroll before retiring. On reaching a lonely spot, I was set upon by a
masked man, overpowered, stabbed in the ribs, dragged into the bushes
and left for dead. I know now that my assailant was Dirk Willumhoog, and
that he had been hired to kill me!" At this familiar name the children
gasped.

"Next morning the calvacade passed on without me, telling the boy I had
left in the night to return to Louvain. But Dirk's thrust had not quite
reached its mark! I was picked up next day by some kind-hearted
peasants, carefully tended for weeks, and at last was as well as ever. I
was of course, perfectly unknown to them and remained so. In the
meantime I had decided on a plan. I communicated with Vrouw Voorhaas,
told her to sell the house, take you children and go to live in Leyden.
She was to carefully conceal the fact that I was alive, and bring you
children up in her good care till I should return. I knew that you would
be more than safe in her excellent keeping, but I never dreamed that my
term of absence would be so long.

"At the same time I wrote to the Prince of Orange, who was almost
distracted for the safety of his son. I told him what had happened, and
also that I intended to disguise myself as a Dutch malcontent or Glipper
under the name of Dr. Leonidus Graafzoon, and obtain entrance to the
court of Spain. There I could remain for a time, and watch over the
fortunes of the young boy, so cruelly enticed into the midst of his
father's enemies. The Prince wrote back that by so doing I would earn
his eternal gratitude, and procured me letters of introduction to the
Spanish court, under my assumed name.

"There I remained for five years, carefully guarding the safety of the
count. At the end of that time, however, it became apparent that they
contemplated no harm toward young De Buren. He was systematically
well-treated, carefully educated, and seemed rather to like his new
surroundings than otherwise. I had of course, been most anxious to be
reunited with my family, and begged the Prince to free me from my duties
and allow me to join you. He gave a hearty and gracious consent, and I
began my preparations to return to Leyden when the news of the siege
reached me, and I knew that great and imminent danger threatened you. I
left Spain, as I learned later, not a day too soon for my old enemy Dirk
Willumhoog had in some way discovered my secret, unearthed all my past
history, and was hot upon a little scheme of his own.

"Vrouw Voorhaas sent me word,--it was the last I heard from her,--that a
man whom she described as Dirk, called on her one day when you both were
out, informed her that he knew her secret and who you children were and
all about me. Then he tried to bribe her to give you up to him, offering
a good round sum in gold. When she refused he threatened to get
possession of you in some other way. She was wild with anxiety for your
safety, and begged me to hasten to Leyden without delay. But by the time
I reached Holland the siege was in full progress, and all thought of
access to the city was hopeless. Having thus a double reason for serving
the city, I went to Zeeland and joined the Sea Beggars. I fought all the
way to Leyden on the '_Ark of Delft_,' and have been frequently almost
prostrated by the alternations of hope and despair. But I am here, we
are reunited,--and now you know my story!"

"Yes," said Jacqueline with a long-drawn breath, "but I still do not see
why Dirk wished to get possession of Gysbert and myself."

"Why! dost thou not comprehend!--" interrupted the boy. "He wanted to
hold us for a ransom, well knowing father would pay any price to have us
back. Dost thou not remember how we overheard him telling Vrouw
Hansleer that we would surely mean more money to them? And that is why
they were so careful of us too!"

"Yes," said Dr. Cornellisen, "that is what he wanted with you. But now I
must hear your story too. How came Vrouw Voorhaas to think she had lost
you?" The children recounted their adventures, first one and then the
other interrupting in a breathless, excited fashion. At last Gysbert
ended with the recital of the singular adventure of the night before,
and the terrible falling of the wall, just after Dirk Willumhoog had
entered the breach.

"It doubtless became his tomb," remarked Dr. Cornellisen thoughtfully,
"and a terrible ending indeed,--too terrible to linger over!"

"No, no!" interrupted old Jan eagerly. "It was but just,--just! Was he
not about to betray the city for filthy Spanish gold, and does it not
fulfil every word of that verse from the Scriptures,--'In the snare
which the wicked hath set is his own foot taken!'"

"The Bible says also,--'Judge not that ye be not judged!'" said Dr.
Cornellisen quietly. "So we will leave Dirk Willumhoog forever, as he
has gone to face his sentence in a higher court than any human one."

Presently Dr. de Witt made a sign to old Jan, and the two crept quietly
out together, leaving the happy family alone for a while in their new
joy of glad reunion.



THE GREAT DAY



CHAPTER XX

THE GREAT DAY


Four months had passed since the lifting of the great siege of Leyden.
No sooner had the Spaniards effected their retreat than the gales
shifted, the wind changed to the east, the sea retreated and left the
waters to drain from the sodden, half-drowned fields. In due time the
work of reconstructing the dykes commenced, and the exhausted city once
more lifted up its head, smiling to meet its renewal of life.

No one rejoiced more over the wonderful victory than did the Prince of
Orange. And to express his gratitude to the citizens for their enduring
heroism during all the long weary months, he determined to present the
city with a gift. This gift was one more highly valued by the Dutch than
anything else it was in his power to bestow, for it was neither more
nor less than a _University_.

Accordingly, the University of Leyden, destined in after years to be so
illustrious, was endowed with a rich sum of money, and provided with
professors and instructors, the most learned and distinguished in all
the Netherlands. Among these was Dr. Cornellisen whose valuable personal
services the Prince was never weary of praising. William of Orange
declared that a professorship was all too poor a reward for such
devotion, but the doctor would accept of no other, vowing that his
ambition was completely satisfied in being connected with such a
wonderful institution of learning.

On the fifth of February, 1575, all preparations being completed, the
solemn ceremony of consecrating the University was to take place. It was
to be a great day, and the whole city was on tip-toe of expectation in
consequence. The weather was perfect, and even though so early in the
year, the atmosphere had a spring-like flavor. The canals were packed
with gay barges, houses flaunted in bunting and floral decorations, and
a festive air was prevalent in every quarter of the city. At seven
o'clock in the morning there was a solemn ceremony of consecration in
the great church of St. Peter. Jacqueline and Gysbert could not but
think of another scene in this same church only four months before,--but
how different! There was no weeping now! All the new professors filed in
and took their places in the chancel, looking very grand and imposing in
their flowing robes and decorations.

"Look, look, Vrouw Voorhaas! there is father!" whispered Gysbert,
pulling her sleeve. And the faithful woman, now quite recovered from her
long illness, nodded and smiled approvingly. The impressive service
continued, ending with the singing of the famous hymn,--"A Mighty
Fortress Is Our God!" But this time the joyful anthem was interrupted by
no sobs of overwrought emotion, as on that memorable Sunday, when
Leyden was saved.

Then came a gorgeous procession. Up the wide Breede Straat it moved
slowly and majestically under great triumphal arches and over pavements
strewn with flowers. First there was a grand military escort in which
Adrian Van der Werf, the brave and loyal burgomaster rode at the head of
his company of burgher guards. This was followed by glittering chariots
and wonderfully arrayed figures representing Justice, Peace the four
Gospels, and many mythological and allegorical characters. But in the
midst of these there was a little break, and then appeared, riding on a
milk-white horse a fair young girl. Her beautiful golden hair floated
all about her, she was clothed in a long trailing robe of white silk,
and on one shoulder sat a glistening pigeon, fastened to her by a small
golden chain. She represented _Medicine_, and carried a garland of
healing herbs in one hand. As she passed through the crowds a great
cry went up,--"Jacqueline! Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons!" for all
recognized her as the sweet, unselfish girl who had done and risked so
much in the terrible days of the plague and siege, and not a few were
also acquainted with the remarkable story of her father's return.

It was a proud moment in her life, but she bore herself with the ease of
entire unconsciousness, for her thoughts were on the honor of the
University, and not on herself. Last in the procession came the
professors and instructors, and the whole passed through every prominent
street of the city till it came to the cloister of Saint Barbara, the
place prepared for the new University. Here there was a long address by
the Reverend Casper Kolhas, orator of the day, and later on a
magnificent banquet. It was nightfall before all was over, and the tired
participants returned to their various homes.

In a fine, roomy house on the Marendorfstrasse, the new quarters of the
Cornellisen family, Gysbert and Jacqueline waited to bid their father
good-night. When his social duties at last permitted him to come to the
children, he entered the room and they gathered about him to talk it all
over before going to bed.

"I am proud of my children!" said Dr. Cornellisen. "Proud of thee,
Jacqueline, because thou hast borne thyself with so much grace and
dignity during a difficult day. Proud of thee, Gysbert, because thou
didst not complain of having no prominent part in the parade, although
thy services to the city during the siege were really most praiseworthy.
And now I am going to tell thee that the Prince wished me to allow thee
to ride on a float all by thyself, dressed as thou wert on the morning
of October third, with the pot of hodge-podge at thy side!" Gysbert's
eyes opened wide at this.

"But I would not permit it," went on his father. "Thou art yet too young
to take so prominent a part, and I did not think it best for thee. But
to make up for this, I am going to allow thee, in addition to studying
in the University, to take a course in art under the very finest master
that can be procured. Does that please thee, son?"

"Father, father!" answered the boy, and his voice trembled with the
intensity of his feeling, "I know naught in all this world that would
please me so much!"

"And as for thee, Jacqueline," said the doctor turning to her, "since
thou hast shown thyself so proficient in the healing art,--and Dr. de
Witt tells me thou didst do wonders during the plague,--I shall give
thee a special course under my own tuition, in the University. Thou
mayst not ever become a titled physician, that not being exactly a
woman's work, but at least thou shalt have all the understanding of one.
Daughter, I trust that makes thee happy." Jacqueline did not answer in
words, but she put her arms about his neck, and laid her soft cheek
against his own, and her father understood.

"And now let us call in Vrouw Voorhaas and Jan," cried Gysbert, "and
tell them the good news!" Vrouw Voorhaas expressed her approval in her
own quiet way, and Jan who now occupied a trusted position in the
household shouted hurrah like a boy! In the midst of this rejoicing, Dr.
de Witt dropped in on his way home from the burgomaster's.

"And let me tell you all something else," he added when he had been
informed of the children's good fortune. "Mynheer Van der Werf has been
commissioned by the Prince, in the name of the city, to buy all thy
carrier-pigeons, Juffrouw Jacqueline, that were used during the siege,
preserve them carefully while they live, and have them stuffed and
placed in the Leyden Museum when they die. Likewise he undertakes to buy
thy hodge-podge pot, Gysbert, for a good round sum, and place that also
in the Museum. So I suppose you will both have to make up your minds to
part with these cherished possessions."

"I'm only too glad to part with mine," said Gysbert, "for I shall be
proud to go and look at that old iron pot in its honored place in the
Museum, and think how I found it that horrible night, and how good the
Spanish hodge-podge tasted that I got out of it!"

"And I," said Jacqueline, "will give up my pigeons since the Prince
wishes it, but I think I will keep 'William of Orange' for myself. He
rode with me in the procession to-day, and I love him both for the name
he bears, and the part he played in those dreadful days. No, I am sure I
cannot part with my faithful 'William of Orange'!"

       *       *       *       *       *

But the future was to hold one more _great day_ for the Cornellisen
family, at which we must have one glimpse before we leave them.

Five years more had passed, and again it was October third, the
anniversary of the great Relief of Leyden. The day was always set apart
as one of feasting and general thanksgiving, and a holiday air pervaded
the city. But in the Cornellisen home were preparations of quite another
character,--for it was the wedding day of Jacqueline. Grown into a fair
and noble womanhood was this same Jacqueline of splendid promise, who
had so bravely discharged what seemed to her the highest duty, in the
days of the memorable siege. She was going to marry loyal, true-hearted
Pieter de Witt who had learned to love her in the terrible days when
they tended the starving and plague-stricken together. Patiently had he
waited and watched her grow to be a sweet, unselfish woman. Then he had
courted and won her, and to-night she stood ready to become his wife.

No prettier bride could have possibly been imagined than Jacqueline as
she stood robed in her wedding-garments. Vrouw Voorhaas hovered over her
lovingly, giving the last tender, anxious touches to the array of her
beloved charge. Presently the door opened, and Gysbert laughingly
demanded admission,--Gysbert no longer a little lad of fourteen, but a
tall fine youth of nineteen. He entered at his sister's bidding, and
surveyed her admiringly from top to toe.

"Thou art perfect, my Jacqueline, but no one knows how I hate to part
with thee, even to Pieter whom I do certainly love."

"But thou art not parting with me, Gysbert. Are we not going to stay
right here with thee and father? I shall be with thee as much as ever!"

"Well, I suppose that is true. After all, I am only gaining a brother by
this! But dost thou remember, Jacqueline, how we used to talk over our
ambitions up there on Hengist Hill? I am in a fair way to gain mine, for
what dost thou think!--Karel Van Mander told father that I bid fair to
become a great artist if I persevere, and he is the greatest himself,
in the Netherlands, at the present time! And then the Prince of Orange
admired and purchased my last picture, and has promised to hang it in
his salon in the _Prinsenhof_. But what of _thy_ great ambition,
sister?"

"Ah!" she answered laughingly. "I have studied medicine till I have it
at my finger ends. I am the daughter of one physician, and am about to
become the wife of another! What more can I ask? I am content, Gysbert!"

"But is it not splendid," said the boy, "that the Prince is to be
present at the wedding! Thou art much honored, Jacqueline, and I am wild
to see him again. He is still my hero and ideal!"

"Thou hast not yet seen the present he sent," added Jacqueline. "It came
but a short time ago. Look!" She held out her arm and exhibited a
beautiful bracelet set with many pearls. In the center was a small gold
plate on which was engraved:

  "To Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons

  "from

  "William of Orange-Nassau,

  "In memory of faithful services in Leyden,

  "1574."

"I prize this more than aught else I received!" she said softly.

Then in came Jan, brave in wedding finery, to have a last intimate view
of his Jacqueline. Round and round her he walked, speechless with
admiration, and could only smile and chuckle, and rub his hands, and
stroke her dainty garments with half-shy, half-reverent touches. Last of
all came her father in his scholarly robes of the University, and took
her in his arms for a final caress.

"Thou art sweet and fair, my darling!" he whispered. "Be as good a wife
to Pieter as thou hast been ever a daughter to me, and Heaven itself
could ask no more! But come! the Prince and his suite have arrived, the
guests are all assembled, and thy future husband waits to claim thee!"

And so, to the sound of merry wedding music, we say farewell to
Jacqueline of the Carrier Pigeons!

THE END





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