"Hasten," she said to Elsa, as she pushed through the crowd, "for doubtless some horror passes here."
"Have no fear," answered an elderly and good-natured woman who overheard her, "we are only waiting to hear the new governor of the prison read his deed of appointment."
As she spoke the doors were thrown open and a man—he was a well-known executioner named Baptiste—came out carrying a sword in one hand and a bunch of keys on a salver in the other. After him followed the governor gallantly dressed and escorted by a company of soldiers and the officials of the prison. Drawing a scroll from beneath his cloak he began to read it rapidly and in an almost inaudible voice.
It was his commission as governor of the prison signed by Alva himself, and set out in full his powers, which were considerable, his responsibilities which were small, and other matters, excepting only the sum of money that he had paid for the office, that, given certain conditions, was, as a matter of fact, sold to the highest bidder. As may be guessed, this post of governor of a gaol in one of the large Netherland cities was lucrative enough to those who did not object to such a fashion of growing rich. So lucrative was it, indeed, that the salary supposed to attach to the office was never paid; at least its occupant was expected to help himself to it out of heretical pockets.
As he finished reading through the paper the new governor looked up, to see, perhaps, what impression he had produced upon his audience. Now Elsa saw his face for the first time and gripped Lysbeth's arm.
"It is Ramiro," she whispered, "Ramiro the spy, the man who dogged my father at The Hague."
As well might she have spoken to a statue. Indeed, of a sudden Lysbeth seemed to be smitten into stone, for there she stood staring with a blanched and meaningless face at the face of the man opposite to her. Well might she stare, for she also knew him. Across the gulf of years, one-eyed, bearded, withered, scarred as he was by suffering, passion and evil thoughts, she knew him, for there before her stood one whom she deemed dead, the wretch whom she had believed to be her husband, Juan de Montalvo. Some magnetism drew his gaze to her; out of all the faces of that crowd it was hers that leapt to his eye. He trembled and grew white; he turned away, and swiftly was gone back into the hell of the Gevangenhuis. Like a demon he had come out of it to survey the human world beyond, and search for victims there; like a demon he went back into his own place. So at least it seemed to Lysbeth.
"Come, come," she muttered and, drawing the girl with her, passed out of the crowd.
Elsa began to talk in a strained voice that from time to time broke into a sob.
"That is the man," she said. "He hounded down my father; it was his wealth he wanted, but my father swore that he would die before he should win it, and he is dead—dead in the Inquisition, and that man is his murderer."
Lysbeth made no answer, never a word she uttered, till presently they halted at a mean and humble door. Then she spoke for the first time in cold and constrained accents.
"I am going in here to visit the Vrouw Jansen; you have heard of her, the wife of him whom they burned. She sent to me to say that she is sick, I know not of what, but there is smallpox about; I have heard of four cases of it in the city, so, cousin, it is wisest that you should not enter here. Give me the basket with the food and wine. Look, yonder is the factory, quite close at hand, and there you will find Foy. Oh! never mind Ramiro. What is done is done. Go and walk with Foy, and for a while forget—Ramiro."
At the door of the factory Elsa found Foy awaiting her, and they walked together through one of the gates of the city into the pleasant meadows that lay beyond. At first they did not speak much, for each of them was occupied with thoughts which pressed their tongues to silence. When they were clear of the town, however, Elsa could contain herself no more; indeed, the anguish awakened in her mind by the sight of Ramiro working upon nerves already overstrung had made her half-hysterical. She began to speak; the words broke from her like water from a dam which it has breached. She told Foy that she had seen the man, and more—much more. All the misery which she had suffered, all the love for the father who was lost to her.
At last Elsa ceased outworn, and, standing still there upon the river bank she wrung her hands and wept. Till now Foy had said nothing, for his good spirits and cheerful readiness seemed to have forsaken him. Even now he said nothing. All he did was to put his arms about this sweet maid's waist, and, drawing her to him, to kiss her upon brow and eyes and lips. She did not resist; it never seemed to occur to her to show resentment; indeed, she let her head sink upon his shoulder like the head of a little child, and there sobbed herself to silence. At last she lifted her face and asked very simply:
"What do you want with me, Foy van Goorl?"
"What?" he repeated; "why I want to be your husband."
"Is this a time for marrying and giving in marriage?" she asked again, but almost as though she were speaking to herself.
"I don't know that it is," he replied, "but it seems the only thing to do, and in such days two are better than one."
She drew away and looked at him, shaking her head sadly. "My father," she began——
"Yes," he interrupted brightening, "thank you for mentioning him, that reminds me. He wished this, so I hope now that he is gone you will take the same view."
"It is rather late to talk about that, isn't it, Foy?" she stammered, looking at his shoulder and smoothing her ruffled hair with her small white hand. "But what do you mean?"
So word for word, as nearly as he could remember it, he told her all that Hendrik Brant had said to him in the cellar at The Hague before they had entered upon the desperate adventure of their flight to the Haarlemer Meer. "He wished it, you see," he ended.
"My thought was always his thought, and—Foy—I wish it also."
"Priceless things are not lightly won," said he, quoting Brant's words as though by some afterthought.
"There he must have been talking of the treasure, Foy," she answered, her face lightening to a smile.
"Ay, of the treasure, sweet, the treasure of your dear heart."
"A poor thing, Foy, but I think that—it rings true."
"It had need, Elsa, yet the best of coin may crack with rough usage."
"Mine will wear till death, Foy."
"I ask no more, Elsa. When I am dead, spend it elsewhere; I shall find it again above where there is no marrying or giving in marriage."
"There would be but small change left to spend, Foy, so look to your own gold and—see that you do not alter its image and superscription, for metal will melt in the furnace, and each queen has her stamp."
"Enough," he broke in impatiently. "Why do you talk of such things, and in these riddles which puzzle me?"
"Because, because, we are not married yet, and—the words are not mine—precious things are dearly won. Perfect love and perfect peace cannot be bought with a few sweet words and kisses; they must be earned in trial and tribulation."
"Of which I have no doubt we shall find plenty," Foy replied cheerfully. "Meanwhile, the kisses make a good road to travel on."
After this Elsa did not argue any more.
At length they turned and walked homeward through the quiet evening twilight, hand clasped in hand, and were happy in their way. It was not a very demonstrative way, for the Dutch have never been excitable, or at least they do not show their excitement. Moreover, the conditions of this betrothal were peculiar; it was as though their hands had been joined from a deathbed, the deathbed of Hendrik Brant, the martyr of The Hague, whose new-shed blood cried out to Heaven for vengeance. This sense pressing on both of them did not tend towards rapturous outbursts of youthful passion, and even if they could have shaken it off and let their young blood have rein, there remained another sense—that of dangers ahead of them.
"Two are better than one," Foy had said, and for her own reasons she had not wished to argue the point, still Elsa felt that to it there was another side. If two could comfort each other, could help each other, could love each other, could they not also suffer for each other? In short, by doubling their lives, did they not also double their anxieties, or if children should come, treble and quadruple them? This is true of all marriage, but how much more was it true in such days and in such a case as that of Foy and Elsa, both of them heretics, both of them rich, and, therefore, both liable at a moment's notice to be haled to the torment and the stake? Knowing these things, and having but just seen the hated face of Ramiro, it is not wonderful that although she rejoiced as any woman must that the man to whom her soul turned had declared himself her lover, Elsa could only drink of this joyful cup with a chastened and a fearful spirit. Nor is it wonderful that even in the hour of his triumph Foy's buoyant and hopeful nature was chilled by the shadow of her fears and the forebodings of his own heart.
When Lysbeth parted from Elsa that afternoon she went straight to the chamber of the Vrouw Jansen. It was a poor place, for after the execution of her husband his wretched widow had been robbed of all her property and now existed upon the charity of her co-religionists. Lysbeth found her in bed, an old woman nursing her, who said that she thought the patient was suffering from a fever. Lysbeth leant over the bed and kissed the sick woman, but started back when she saw that the glands of her neck were swollen into great lumps, while the face was flushed and the eyes so bloodshot as to be almost red. Still she knew her visitor, for she whispered:
"What is the matter with me, Vrouw van Goorl? Is it the smallpox coming on? Tell me, friend, the doctor would not speak."
"I fear that it is worse; it is the plague," said Lysbeth, startled into candour.
The poor girl laughed hoarsely. "Oh! I hoped it," she said. "I am glad, I am glad, for now I shall die and go to join him. But I wish that I had caught it before," she rambled on to herself, "for then I would have taken it to him in prison and they couldn't have treated him as they did." Suddenly she seemed to come to herself, for she added, "Go away, Vrouw van Goorl, go quickly or you may catch my sickness."
"If so, I am afraid that the mischief is done, for I have kissed you," answered Lysbeth. "But I do not fear such things, though perhaps if I took it, this would save me many a trouble. Still, there are others to think of, and I will go." So, having knelt down to pray awhile by the patient, and given the old nurse the basket of soup and food, Lysbeth went.
Next morning she heard that the Vrouw Jansen was dead, the pest that struck her being of the most fatal sort.
Lysbeth knew that she had run great risk, for there is no disease more infectious than the plague. She determined, therefore, that so soon as she reached home she would burn her dress and other articles of clothing and purify herself with the fumes of herbs. Then she dismissed the matter from her mind, which was already filled with another thought, a dominant, soul-possessing thought.
Oh God, Montalvo had returned to Leyden! Out of the blackness of the past, out of the gloom of the galleys, had arisen this evil genius of her life; yes, and, by a strange fatality, of the life of Elsa Brant also, since it was her, she swore, who had dragged down her father. Lysbeth was a brave woman, one who had passed through many dangers, but her whole heart turned sick with terror at the sight of this man, and sick it must remain till she, or he, were dead. She could well guess what he had come to seek. It was that cursed treasure of Hendrik Brant's which had drawn him. She knew from Elsa that for a year at least the man Ramiro had been plotting to steal this money at The Hague. He had failed there, failed with overwhelming and shameful loss through the bravery and resource of her son Foy and their henchman, Red Martin. Now he had discovered their identity; he was aware that they held the secret of the hiding-place of that accursed hoard, they and no others, and he had established himself in Leyden to wring it out of them. It was clear, clear as the setting orb of the red sun before her. She knew the man—had she not lived with him?—and there could be no doubt about it, and—he was the new governor of the Gevangenhuis. Doubtless he has purchased that post for his own dark purposes and—to be near them.
Sick and half blind with the intensity of her dread, Lysbeth staggered home. She must tell Dirk, that was her one thought; but no, she had been in contact with the plague, first she must purify herself. So she went to her room, and although it was summer, lit a great fire on the hearth, and in it burned her garments. Then she bathed and fumigated her hair and body over a brazier of strong herbs, such as in those days of frequent and virulent sickness housewives kept at hand, after which she dressed herself afresh and went to seek her husband. She found him at a desk in his private room reading some paper, which at her approach he shuffled into a drawer.
"What is that, Dirk?" she asked with sudden suspicion.
He pretended not to hear, and she repeated the query.
"Well, wife, if you wish to know," he answered in his blunt fashion, "it is my will."
"Why are you reading your will?" she asked again, beginning to tremble, for her nerves were afire, and this simple accident struck her as something awful and ominous.
"For no particular reason, wife," he replied quietly, "only that we all must die, early or late. There is no escape from that, and in these times it is more often early than late, so it is as well to be sure that everything is in order for those who come after us. Now, since we are on the subject, which I have never cared to speak about, listen to me."
"What about, husband?"
"Why, about my will. Look you, Hendrik Brant and his treasure have taught me a lesson. I am not a man of his substance, or a tenth of it, but in some countries I should be called rich, for I have worked hard and God has prospered me. Well, of late I have been realising where I could, also the bulk of my savings is in cash. But the cash is not here, not in this country at all. You know my correspondents, Munt and Brown, of Norwich, in England, to whom we ship our goods for the English market. They are honest folk, and Munt owes me everything, almost to his life. Well, they have the money, it has reached them safely, thanks be to God, and with it a counterpart of this my will duly attested, and here is their letter of acknowledgment stating that they have laid it out carefully at interest upon mortgage on great estates in Norfolk where it lies to my order, or that of my heirs, and that a duplicate acknowledgment has been filed in their English registries in case this should go astray. Little remains here except this house and the factory, and even on those I have raised money. Meanwhile the business is left to live on, and beyond it the rents which will come from England, so that whether I be living or dead you need fear no want. But what is the matter with you, Lysbeth? You look strange."
"Oh! husband, husband," she gasped, "Juan de Montalvo is here again. He has appeared as the new governor of the gaol. I saw him this afternoon, I cannot be mistaken, although he has lost an eye and is much changed."
Dirk's jaw dropped and his florid face whitened. "Juan de Montalvo!" he said. "I heard that he was dead long ago."
"You are mistaken, husband, a devil never dies. He is seeking Brant's treasure, and he knows that we have its secret. You can guess the rest. More, now that I think of it, I have heard that a strange Spaniard is lodging with Hague Simon, he whom they call the Butcher, and Black Meg, of whom we have cause to know. Doubtless it is he, and—Dirk, death overshadows us."
"Why should he know of Brant's treasure, wife?"
"Because he is Ramiro, the man who dogged him down, the man who followed the ship Swallow to the Haarlemer Meer. Elsa was with me this afternoon, she knew him again."
Dirk thought a while, resting his head upon his hand. Then he lifted it and said:
"I am very glad that I sent the money to Munt and Brown, Heaven gave me that thought. Well, wife, what is your counsel now?"
"My counsel is that we should fly from Leyden—all of us, yes, this very night before worse happens."
He smiled. "That cannot be; there are no means of flight, and under the new laws we could not pass the gates; that trick has been played too often. Still, in a day or two, when I have had time to arrange, we might escape if you still wish to go."
"To-night, to-night," she urged, "or some of us stay for ever."
"I tell you, wife, it is not possible. Am I a rat that I should be bolted from my hole thus by this ferret of a Montalvo? I am a man of peace and no longer young, but let him beware lest I stop here long enough to pass a sword through him."
"So be it, husband," she replied, "but I think it is through my heart that the sword will pass," and she burst out weeping.
Supper that night was a somewhat melancholy meal. Dirk and Lysbeth sat at the ends of the table in silence. On one side of fit were placed Foy and Elsa, who were also silent for a very different reason, while opposite to them was Adrian, who watched Elsa with an anxious and inquiring eye.
That the love potion worked he was certain, for she looked confused and a little flushed; also, as would be natural under the circumstances, she avoided his glance and made pretence to be interested in Foy, who seemed rather more stupid than usual. Well, so soon as he could find his chance all this would be cleared up, but meanwhile the general gloom and silence were affecting his nerves.
"What have you been doing this afternoon, mother?" Adrian asked presently.
"I, son?" she replied with a start, "I have been visiting the unhappy Vrouw Jansen, whom I found very sick."
"What is the matter with her, mother?"
Lysbeth's mind, which had wandered away, again returned to the subject at hand with an effort.
"The matter? Oh! she has the plague."
"The plague!" exclaimed Adrian, springing to his feet, "do you mean to say you have been consorting with a woman who has the plague?"
"I fear so," she answered with a smile, "but do not be frightened, Adrian, I have burnt my clothes and fumigated myself."
Still Adrian was frightened. His recent experience of sickness had been ample, and although he was no coward he had a special dislike of infectious diseases, which at the time were many.
"It is horrible," he said, "horrible. I only hope that we—I mean you—may escape. The house is unbearably close. I am going to walk in the courtyard," and away he went, for the moment, at any rate, forgetting all about Elsa and the love potion.
FOY SEES A VISION
Never since that day when, many years before, she had bought the safety of the man she loved by promising herself in marriage to his rival, had Lysbeth slept so ill as she did upon this night. Montalvo was alive. Montalvo was here, here to strike down and destroy those whom she loved, and triple armed with power, authority, and desire to do the deed. Well she knew that when there was plunder to be won, he would not step aside or soften until it was in his hands. Yet there was hope in this; he was not a cruel man, as she knew also, that is to say, he had no pleasure in inflicting suffering for its own sake; such methods he used only as a means to an end. If he could get the money, all of it, she was sure that he would leave them alone. Why should he not have it? Why should all their lives be menaced because of this trust which had been thrust upon them?
Unable to endure the torments of her doubts and fears, Lysbeth woke her husband, who was sleeping peacefully at her side, and told him what was passing in her mind.
"It is a true saying," answered Dirk with a smile, "that even the best of women are never quite honest when their interest pulls the other way. What, wife, would you have us buy our own peace with Brant's fortune, and thus break faith with a dead man and bring down his curse upon us?"
"The lives of men are more than gold, and Elsa would consent," she answered sullenly; "already this pelf is stained with blood, the blood of Hendrik Brant himself, and of Hans the pilot."
"Yes, wife, and since you mention it, with the blood of a good many Spaniards also, who tried to steal the stuff. Let's see; there must have been several drowned at the mouth of the river, and quite twenty went up with the Swallow, so the loss has not been all on our side. Listen, Lysbeth, listen. It was my cousin, Hendrik Brant's, belief that in the end this great fortune of his would do some service to our people or our country, for he wrote as much in his will and repeated it to Foy. I know not when or in what fashion this may come about; how can I know? But first will I die before I hand it over to the Spaniard. Moreover, I cannot, since its secret was never told to me."
"Foy and Martin have it."
"Lysbeth," said Dirk sternly, "I charge you as you love me not to work upon them to betray their trust; no, not even to save my life or your own—if we must die, let us die with honour. Do you promise?"
"I promise," she answered with dry lips, "but on this condition only, that you fly from Leyden with us all, to-night if maybe."
"Good," answered Dirk, "a halfpenny for a herring; you have made your promise, and I'll give you mine; that's fair, although I am old to seek a new home in England. But it can't be to-night, wife, for I must make arrangements. There is a ship sailing to-day, and we might catch her to-morrow at the river's mouth, after she has passed the officers, for her captain is a friend of mine. How will that do?"
"I had rather it had been to-night," said Lysbeth. "While we are in Leyden with that man we are not safe from one hour to the next."
"Wife, we are never safe. It is all in the hands of God, and, therefore, we should live like soldiers awaiting the hour to march, and rejoice exceedingly when it pleases our Captain to sound the call."
"I know," she answered; "but, oh! Dirk, it would be hard—to part."
He turned his head aside for a moment, then said in a steady voice, "Yes, wife, but it will be sweet to meet again and part no more."
While it was still early that morning Dirk summoned Foy and Martin to his wife's chamber. Adrian for his own reasons he did not summon, making the excuse that he was still asleep, and it would be a pity to disturb him; nor Elsa, since as yet there was no necessity to trouble her. Then, briefly, for he was given to few words, he set out the gist of the matter, telling them that the man Ramiro whom they had beaten on the Haarlemer Meer was in Leyden, which Foy knew already, for Elsa had told him as much, and that he was no other than the Spaniard named the Count Juan de Montalvo, the villain who had deceived Lysbeth into a mock marriage by working on her fears, and who was the father of Adrian. All this time Lysbeth sat in a carved oak chair listening with a stony face to the tale of her own shame and betrayal. She made no sign at all beyond a little twitching of her fingers, till Foy, guessing what she suffered in her heart, suddenly went to his mother and kissed her. Then she wept a few silent tears, for an instant laid her hand upon his head as though in blessing, and, motioning him back to his place, became herself again—stern, unmoved, observant.
Next Dirk, taking up his tale, spoke of his wife's fears, and of her belief that there was a plot to wring out of them the secret of Hendrik Brant's treasure.
"Happily," he said, addressing Foy, "neither your mother nor I, nor Adrian, nor Elsa, know that secret; you and Martin know it alone, you and perhaps one other who is far away and cannot be caught. We do not know it, and we do not wish to know it, and whatever happens to any of us, it is our earnest hope that neither of you will betray it, even if our lives, or your lives, hang upon the words, for we hold it better that we should keep our trust with a dead man at all costs than that we should save ourselves by breaking faith. Is it not so, wife?"
"It is so," answered Lysbeth hoarsely.
"Have no fear," said Foy. "We will die before we betray."
"We will try to die before we betray," grumbled Martin in his deep voice, "but flesh is frail and God knows."
"Oh! I have no doubt of you, honest man," said Dirk with a smile, "for you have no mother and father to think of in this matter."
"Then, master, you are foolish," replied Martin, "for I repeat it—flesh is frail, and I always hated the look of a rack. However, I have a handsome legacy charged upon this treasure, and perhaps the thought of that would support me. Alive or dead, I should not like to think of my money being spent by any Spaniard."
While Martin spoke the strangeness of the thing came home to Foy. Here were four of them, two of whom knew a secret and two who did not, while those who did not implored those who did to impart to them nothing of the knowledge which, if they had it, might serve to save them from a fearful doom. Then for the first time in his young and inexperienced life he understood how great erring men and women can be and what patient majesty dwells in the human heart, that for the sake of a trust it does not seek can yet defy the most hideous terrors of the body and the soul. Indeed, that scene stamped itself upon his mind in such fashion that throughout his long existence he never quite forgot it for a single day. His mother, clad in her frilled white cap and grey gown, seated cold-faced and resolute in the oaken chair. His father, to whom, although he knew it not, he was now speaking for the last time, standing by her, his hand resting upon her shoulder and addressing them in his quiet, honest voice. Martin standing also but a little to one side and behind, the light of the morning playing upon his great red beard; his round, pale eyes glittering as was their fashion when wrathful, and himself, Foy, leaning forward to listen, every nerve in his body strung tight with excitement, love, and fear.
Oh! he never forgot it, which is not strange, for so great was the strain upon him, so well did he know that this scene was but the prelude to terrible events, that for a moment, only for a moment, his steady reason was shaken and he saw a vision. Martin, the huge, patient, ox-like Martin, was changed into a red Vengeance; he saw him, great sword aloft, he heard the roar of his battle cry, and lo! before him men went down to death, and about him the floor seemed purple with their blood. His father and his mother, too; they were no longer human, they were saints—see the glory which shone over them, and look, too, the dead Hendrik Brant was whispering in their ears. And he, Foy, he was beside Martin playing his part in those red frays as best he might, and playing it not in vain.
Then all passed, and a wave of peace rolled over him, a great sense of duty done, of honour satisfied, of reward attained. Lo! the play was finished, and its ultimate meaning clear, but before he could read and understand—it had gone.
He gasped and shook himself, gripping his hands together.
"What have you seen, son?" asked Lysbeth, watching his face.
"Strange things, mother," Foy answered. "A vision of war for Martin and me, of glory for my father and you, and of eternal peace for us all."
"It is a good omen, Foy," she said. "Fight your fight and leave us to fight ours. 'Through much tribulation we must enter into the Kingdom of God,' where at last there is a rest remaining for us all. It is a good omen. Your father was right and I was wrong. Now I have no more to fear; I am satisfied."
None of them seemed to be amazed or to find these words wonderful and out of the common. For them the hand of approaching Doom had opened the gates of Distance, and they knew everyone that through these some light had broken on their souls, a faint flicker of dawn from beyond the clouds. They accepted it in thankfulness.
"I think that is all I have to say," said Dirk in his usual voice. "No, it is not all," and he told them of his plan for flight. They listened and agreed to it, yet to them it seemed a thing far off and unreal. None of them believed that this escape would ever be carried out. All of them believed that here in Leyden they would endure the fiery trial of their faith and win each of them its separate crown.
When everything was discussed, and each had learned the lesson of what he must do that day, Foy asked if Adrian was to be told of the scheme. To this his father answered hastily that the less it was spoken of the better, therefore he proposed to tell Adrian late that night only, when he could make up his mind whether he would accompany them or stay in Leyden.
"Then he shan't go out to-night, and will come with us as far as the ship only if I can manage it," muttered Martin beneath his breath, but aloud he said nothing. Somehow it did not seem to him to be worth while to make trouble about it, for he knew that if he did his mistress and Foy, who believed so heartily in Adrian, would be angry.
"Father and mother," said Foy again, "while we are gathered here there is something I wish to say to you."
"What is it, son?" asked Dirk.
"Yesterday I became affianced to Elsa Brant, and we wish to ask your consent and blessing."
"That will be gladly given, son, for I think this very good news. Bring her here, Foy," answered Dirk.
But although in his hurry Foy did not notice it, his mother said nothing. She liked Elsa well indeed—who would not?—but oh! this brought them a step nearer to that accursed treasure, the treasure which from generation to generation had been hoarded up that it might be a doom to men. If Foy were affianced to Elsa, it was his inheritance as well as hers, for those trusts of Hendrik Brant's will were to Lysbeth things unreal and visionary, and its curse would fall upon him as well as upon her. Moreover it might be said that he was marrying her to win the wealth.
"This betrothal does not please you; you are sad, wife," said Dirk, looking at her quickly.
"Yes, husband, for now I think that we shall never get out of Leyden. I pray that Adrian may not hear of it, that is all."
"Why, what has he to do with the matter?"
"Only that he is madly in love with the girl. Have you not seen it? And—you know his temper."
"Adrian, Adrian, always Adrian," answered Dirk impatiently. "Well, it is a very fitting match, for if she has a great fortune hidden somewhere in a swamp, which in fact she has not, since the bulk of it is bequeathed to me to be used for certain purposes; he has, or will have, moneys also—safe at interest in England. Hark! here they come, so, wife, put on a pleasant face; they will think it unlucky if you do not smile."
As he spoke Foy re-entered the room, leading Elsa by the hand, and she looked as sweet a maid as ever the sun shone on. So they told their story, and kneeling down before Dirk, received his blessing in the old fashion, and very glad were they in the after years to remember that it had been so received. Then they turned to Lysbeth, and she also lifted up her hand to bless them, but ere it touched their heads, do what she would to check it, a cry forced its way to her lips, and she said:
"Oh! children, doubtless you love each other well, but is this a time for marrying and giving in marriage?"
"My own words, my very words," exclaimed Elsa, springing to her feet and turning pale.
Foy looked vexed. Then recovering himself and trying to smile, he said:
"And I give them the same answer—that two are better than one; moreover, this is a betrothal, not a marriage."
"Ay," muttered Martin behind, thinking aloud after his fashion, "betrothal is one thing and marriage another," but low as he spoke Elsa overheard him.
"Your mother is upset," broke in Dirk, "and you can guess why, so do not disturb her more at present. Let us to our business, you and Martin to the factory to make arrangements there as I have told you, and I, after I have seen the captain, to whatever God shall call me to do. So, till we meet again, farewell, my son—and daughter," he added, smiling at Elsa.
They left the room, but as Martin was following them Lysbeth called him back.
"Go armed to the factory, Martin," she said, "and see that your young master wears that steel shirt beneath his jerkin."
Martin nodded and went.
Adrian woke up that morning in an ill mood. He had, it is true, administered his love potion with singular dexterity and success, but as yet he reaped no fruit from his labours, and was desperately afraid lest the effect of the magic draught might wear off. When he came downstairs it was to find that Foy and Martin were already departed to the factory, and that his stepfather had gone out, whither he knew not. This was so much to the good, for it left the coast clear. Still he was none the better off, since either his mother and Elsa had taken their breakfast upstairs, or they had dispensed with that meal. His mother he could spare, especially after her recent contact with a plague patient, but under the circumstances Elsa's absence was annoying. Moreover, suddenly the house had become uncomfortable, for every one in it seemed to be running about carrying articles hither and thither in a fashion so aimless that it struck him as little short of insane. Once or twice also he saw Elsa, but she, too, was carrying things, and had no time for conversation.
At length Adrian wearied of it and departed to the factory with the view of making up his books, which, to tell the truth, had been somewhat neglected of late, to find that here, too, the same confusion reigned. Instead of attending to his ordinary work, Martin was marching to and fro bearing choice pieces of brassware, which were being packed into crates, and he noticed, for Adrian was an observant young man, that he was not wearing his usual artisan's dress. Why, he wondered to himself, should Martin walk about a factory upon a summer's day clad in his armour of quilted bull's hide, and wearing his great sword Silence strapped round his middle? Why, too, should Foy have removed the books and be engaged in going through them with a clerk? Was he auditing them? If so, he wished him joy of the job, since to bring them to a satisfactory balance had proved recently quite beyond his own powers. Not that there was anything wrong with the books, for he, Adrian, had kept them quite honestly according to his very imperfect lights, only things must have been left out, for balance they would not. Well, on the whole, he was glad, since a man filled with lover's hopes and fears was in no mood for arithmetical exercises, so, after hanging about for a while, he returned home to dinner.
The meal was late, an unusual occurrence, which annoyed him; moreover, neither his mother nor his stepfather appeared at table. At length Elsa came in looking pale and worried, and they began to eat, or rather to go through the form of eating, since neither of them seemed to have any appetite. Nor, as the servant was continually in the room, and as Elsa took her place at one end of the long table while he was at the other, had their tete-a-tete any of the usual advantages.
At last the waiting-woman went away, and, after a few moment's pause, Elsa rose to follow. By this time Adrian was desperate. He would bear it no more; things must be brought to a head.
"Elsa," he said, in an irritated voice, "everything seems to be very uncomfortable here to-day, there is so much disturbance in the house that one might imagine we were going to shut it up and leave Leyden."
Elsa looked at him out of the corners of her eyes; probably by this time she had learnt the real cause of the disturbance.
"I am sorry, Heer Adrian," she said, "but your mother is not very well this morning."
"Indeed; I only hope she hasn't caught the plague from the Jansen woman; but that doesn't account for everybody running about with their hands full, like ants in a broken nest, especially as it is not the time of year when women turn all the furniture upside down and throw the curtains out of the windows in the pretence that they are cleaning them. However, we are quiet here for a while, so let us talk."
Elsa became suspicious. "Your mother wants me, Heer Adrian," she said, turning towards the door.
"Let her rest, Elsa, let her rest; there is no medicine like sleep for the sick."
Elsa pretended not to hear him, so, as she still headed for the door, by a movement too active to be dignified, he placed himself in front of it, adding, "I have said that I want to speak with you."
"And I have said that I am busy, Heer Adrian, so please let me pass."
Adrian remained immovable. "Not until I have spoken to you," he said.
Now as escape was impossible Elsa drew herself up and asked in a cold voice:
"What is your pleasure? I pray you, be brief."
Adrian cleared his throat, reflecting that she was keeping the workings of the love potion under wonderful control; indeed to look at her no one could have guessed that she had recently absorbed this magic Eastern medicine. However, something must be done; he had gone too far to draw back.
"Elsa," he said boldly, though no hare could have been more frightened, "Elsa," and he clasped his hands and looked at the ceiling, "I love you and the time has come to say so."
"If I remember right it came some time ago, Heer Adrian," she replied with sarcasm. "I thought that by now you had forgotten all about it."
"Forgotten!" he sighed, "forgotten! With you ever before my eyes how can I forget?"
"I am sure I cannot say," she answered, "but I know that I wish to forget this folly."
"Folly! She calls it folly!" he mused aloud. "Oh, Heaven, folly is the name she gives to the life-long adoration of my bleeding heart!"
"You have known me exactly five weeks, Heer Adrian——"
"Which, sweet lady, makes me desire to know you for fifty years."
Elsa sighed, for she found the prospect dreary.
"Come," he went on with a gush, "forego this virgin coyness, you have done enough and more than enough for honour, now throw aside pretence, lay down your arms and yield. No hour, I swear, of this long fight will be so happy to you as that of your sweet surrender, for remember, dear one, that I, your conqueror, am in truth the conquered. I, abandoning——"
He got no further, for at this point the sorely tried Elsa lost control of herself, but not in the fashion which he hoped for and expected.
"Are you crazed, Heer Adrian," she asked, "that you should insist thus in pouring this high-flown nonsense into my ears when I have told you that it is unwelcome to me? I understand that you ask me for my love. Well, once for all I tell you that I have none to give."
This was a blow, since it was impossible for Adrian to put a favourable construction upon language so painfully straightforward. His self-conceit was pierced at last and collapsed like a pricked bladder.
"None to give!" he gasped, "none to give! You don't mean to tell me that you have given it to anybody else?"
"Yes, I do," she answered, for by now Elsa was thoroughly angry.
"Indeed," he replied loftily. "Let me see; last time it was your lamented father who occupied your heart. Perhaps now it is that excellent giant, Martin, or even—no, it is too absurd"—and he laughed in his jealous rage, "even the family buffoon, my worthy brother Foy."
"Yes," she replied quietly, "it is Foy."
"Foy! Foy! Hear her, ye gods! My successful rival, mine, is the yellow-headed, muddy-brained, unlettered Foy—and they say that women have souls! Of your courtesy answer me one question. Tell me when did this strange and monstrous thing happen? When did you declare yourself vanquished by the surpassing charms of Foy?"
"Yesterday afternoon, if you want to know," she said in the same calm and ominous voice.
Adrian heard, and an inspiration took him. He dashed his hand to his brow and thought a moment; then he laughed loud and shrilly.
"I have it," he said. "It is the love charm which has worked perversely. Elsa, you are under a spell, poor woman; you do not know the truth. I gave you the philtre in your drinking water, and Foy, the traitor Foy, has reaped its fruits. Dear girl, shake yourself free from this delusion, it is I whom you really love, not that base thief of hearts, my brother Foy."
"What do you say? You gave me a philtre? You dare to doctor my drink with your heathen nastiness? Out of the way, sir! Stand off, and never venture to speak to me again. Well will it be for you if I do not tell your brother of your infamy."
What happened after this Adrian could never quite remember, but a vision remained of himself crouching to one side, and of a door flung back so violently that it threw him against the wall; a vision, too, of a lady sweeping past him with blazing eyes and lips set in scorn. That was all.
For a while he was crushed, quite crushed; the blow had gone home. Adrian was not only a fool, he was also the vainest of fools. That any young woman on whom he chose to smile should actually reject his advances was bad and unexpected, but that the other man should be Foy—oh! this was infamous and inexplicable. He was handsomer than Foy, no one would dream of denying it. He was cleverer and better read, had he not mastered the contents of every known romance—high-souled works which Foy bluntly declared were rubbish and refused even to open? Was he not a poet? But remembering a certain sonnet he did not follow this comparison. In short, how was it conceivable that a woman looking upon himself, a very type of the chivalry of Spain, silver-tongued, a follower—nay, a companion of the Muses, one to whom in every previous adventure of the heart to love had been to conquer, could still prefer that broad-faced, painfully commonplace, if worthy, young representative of the Dutch middle classes, Foy van Goorl?
It never occurred to Adrian to ask himself another question, namely, how it comes about that eight young women out of ten are endowed with an intelligence or instinct sufficiently keen to enable them to discriminate between an empty-headed popinjay of a man, intoxicated with the fumes of his own vanity, and an honest young fellow of stable character and sterling worth? Not that Adrian was altogether empty-headed, for in some ways he was clever; also beneath all this foam and froth the Dutch strain inherited from his mother had given a certain ballast and determination to his nature. Thus, when his heart was thoroughly set upon a thing, he could be very dogged and patient. Now it was set upon Elsa Brant, he did truly desire to win her above any other woman, and that he had left a different impression upon her mind was owing largely to the affected air and grandiloquent style of language culled from his precious romances which he thought it right to assume when addressing a lady upon matters of the affections.
For a little while he was prostrate, his heart seemed swept clean of all hope and feeling. Then his furious temper, the failing that, above every other, was his curse and bane, came to his aid and occupied it like the seven devils of Scripture, bringing in its train his re-awakened vanity, hatred, jealousy, and other maddening passions. It could not be true, there must be an explanation, and, of course, the explanation was that Foy had been so fortunate, or so cunning as to make advances to Elsa soon after she had swallowed the love philtre. Adrian, like most people in his day, was very superstitious and credulous. It never even occurred to him to doubt the almost universally accepted power and efficacy of this witch's medicine, though even now he understood what a fool he was when, in his first outburst of rage, he told Elsa that he had trusted to such means to win her affections, instead of letting his own virtues and graces do their natural work.
Well, the mischief was done, the poison was swallowed, but—most poisons have their antidotes. Why was he lingering here? He must consult his friend, the Master, and at once.
Ten minutes later Adrian was at Black Meg's house.
THE FRAY IN THE SHOT TOWER
The door was opened by Hague Simon, the bald-headed, great-paunched villain who lived with Black Meg. In answer to his visitor's anxious inquiries the Butcher said, searching Adrian's face with his pig-like eyes the while, that he could not tell for certain whether Meg was or was not at home. He rather thought that she was consulting the spirits with the Master, but they might have passed out without his knowing it, "for they had great gifts—great gifts," and he wagged his fat head as he showed Adrian into the accustomed room.
It was an uncomfortable kind of chamber which, in some unexplained way, always gave Adrian the impression that people, or presences, were stirring in it whom he could not see. Also in this place there happened odd and unaccountable noises; creakings, and sighings which seemed to proceed from the walls and ceiling. Of course, such things were to be expected in a house where sojourned one of the great magicians of the day. Still he was not altogether sorry when the door opened and Black Meg entered, although some might have preferred the society of almost any ghost.
"What is it, that you disturb me at such an hour?" she asked sharply.
"What is it? What isn't it?" Adrian replied, his rage rising at the thought of his injuries. "That cursed philtre of yours has worked all wrong, that's what it is. Another man has got the benefit of it, don't you understand, you old hag? And, by Heaven! I believe he means to abduct her, yes, that's the meaning of all the packing and fuss, blind fool that I was not to guess it before. The Master—I will see the Master. He must give me an antidote, another medicine——"
"You certainly look as though you want it," interrupted Black Meg drily. "Well, I doubt whether you can see him; it is not his hour for receiving visitors; moreover, I don't think he's here, so I shall have to signal for him."
"I must see him. I will see him," shouted Adrian.
"I daresay," replied Black Meg, squinting significantly at his pocket.
Enraged as he was Adrian took the hint.
"Woman, you seek gold," he said, quoting involuntarily from the last romance he had read, and presenting her with a handful of small silver, which was all he had.
Meg took the silver with a sniff, on the principle that something is better than nothing, and departed gloomily. Then followed more mysterious noises; voices whispered, doors opened and shut, furniture creaked, after which came a period of exasperating and rather disagreeable silence. Adrian turned his face to the wall, for the only window in the room was so far above his head that he was unable to look out of it; indeed, it was more of a skylight than a window. Thus he remained a while gnawing at the ends of his moustache and cursing his fortune, till presently he felt a hand upon his shoulder.
"Who the devil is that?" he exclaimed, wheeling round to find himself face to face with the draped and majestic form of the Master.
"The devil! That is an ill word upon young lips, my friend," said the sage, shaking his head in reproof.
"I daresay," replied Adrian, "but what the—I mean how did you get here? I never heard the door open."
"How did I get here? Well, now you mention it, I wonder how I did. The door—what have I to do with doors?"
"I am sure I don't know," answered Adrian shortly, "but most people find them useful."
"Enough of such material talk," interrupted the sage with sternness. "Your spirit cried to mine, and I am here, let that suffice."
"I suppose that Black Meg fetched you," went on Adrian, sticking to his point, for the philtre fiasco had made him suspicious.
"Verily, friend Adrian, you can suppose what you will; and now, as I have little time to spare, be so good as to set out the matter. Nay, what need, I know all, for have I not—is this the case? You administered the philtre to the maid and neglected my instructions to offer yourself to her at once. Another saw it and took advantage of the magic draught. While the spell was on her he proposed, he was accepted—yes, your brother Foy. Oh! fool, careless fool, what else did you expect?"
"At any rate I didn't expect that," replied Adrian in a fury. "And now, if you have all the power you pretend, tell me what I am to do."
Something glinted ominously beneath the hood, it was the sage's one eye.
"Young friend," he said, "your manner is brusque, yes, even rude. But I understand and I forgive. Come, we will take counsel together. Tell me what has happened."
Adrian told him with much emphasis, and the recital of his adventures seemed to move the Master deeply, at any rate he turned away, hiding his face in his hands, while his back trembled with the intensity of his feelings.
"The matter is grave," he said solemnly, when at length the lovesick and angry swain had finished. "There is but one thing to be done. Your treacherous rival—oh! what fraud and deceit are hidden beneath that homely countenance—has been well advised, by whom I know not, though I suspect one, a certain practitioner of the Black Magic, named Arentz——"
"Ah!" ejaculated Adrian.
"I see you know the man. Beware of him. He is, indeed, a wolf in sheep's clothing, who wraps his devilish incantations in a cloak of seditious doctrine. Well, I have thwarted him before, for can Darkness stand before Light? and, by the help of those who aid me, I may thwart him again. Now, attend and answer my questions clearly, slowly and truthfully. If the girl is to be saved to you, mark this, young friend, your cunning rival must be removed from Leyden for a while until the charm works out its power."
"You don't mean—" said Adrian, and stopped.
"No, no. I mean the man no harm. I mean only that he must take a journey, which he will do fast enough, when he learns that his witchcrafts and other crimes are known. Now answer, or make an end, for I have more business to attend to than the love-makings of a foo—of a headstrong youth. First: What you have told me of the attendances of Dirk van Goorl, your stepfather, and others of his household, namely, Red Martin and your half-brother Foy, at the tabernacle of your enemy, the wizard Arentz, is true, is it not?"
"Yes," answered Adrian, "but I do not see what that has to do with the matter."
"Silence!" thundered the Master. Then he paused a while, and Adrian seemed to hear certain strange squeakings proceeding from the walls. The sage remained lost in thought until the squeakings ceased. Again he spoke:
"What you have told me of the part played by the said Foy and the said Martin as to their sailing away with the treasure of the dead heretic, Hendrik Brant, and of the murders committed by them in the course of its hiding in the Haarlemer Meer, is true, is it not?"
"Of course it is," answered Adrian, "but——"
"Silence!" again thundered the sage, "or by my Lord Zoroaster, I throw up the case."
Adrian collapsed, and there was another pause.
"You believe," he went on again, "that the said Foy and the said Dirk van Goorl, together with the said Martin, are making preparations to abduct that innocent and unhappy maid, the heiress, Elsa Brant, for evil purposes of their own?"
"I never told you so," said Adrian, "but I think it is a fact; at least there is a lot of packing going on."
"You never told me! Do you not understand that there is no need for you to tell me anything?"
"Then, in the name of your Lord Zoroaster, why do you ask?" exclaimed the exasperated Adrian.
"That you will know presently," he answered musing.
Once more Adrian heard the strange squeaking as of young and hungry rats.
"I think that I will not take up your time any more," he said, growing thoroughly alarmed, for really the proceedings were a little odd, and he rose to go.
The Master made no answer, only, which was curious conduct for a sage, he began to whistle a tune.
"By your leave," said Adrian, for the magician's back was against the door. "I have business——"
"And so have I," replied the sage, and went on whistling.
Then suddenly the side of one of the walls seemed to fall out, and through the opening emerged a man wrapped in a priest's robe, and after him, Hague Simon, Black Meg, and another particularly evil-looking fellow.
"Got it all down?" asked the Master in an easy, everyday kind of voice.
The monk bowed, and producing several folios of manuscript, laid them on the table together with an ink-horn and a pen.
"Very well. And now, my young friend, be so good as to sign there, at the foot of the writing."
"Sign what?" gasped Adrian.
"Explain to him," said the Master. "He is quite right; a man should know what he puts his name to."
Then a monk spoke in a low, business-like voice.
"This is the information of Adrian, called Van Goorl, as taken down from his own lips, wherein, among other things, he deposes to certain crimes of heresy, murder of the king's subjects, an attempted escape from the king's dominions, committed by his stepfather, Dirk van Goorl, his half-brother, Foy van Goorl, and their servant, a Frisian known as Red Martin. Shall I read the papers? It will take some time."
"If the witness so desires," said the Master.
"What is that document for?" whispered Adrian in a hoarse voice.
"To persuade your treacherous rival, Foy van Goorl, that it will be desirable in the interests of his health that he should retire from Leyden for a while," sneered his late mentor, while the Butcher and Black Meg sniggered audibly. Only the monk stood silent, like a black watching fate.
"I'll not sign!" shouted Adrian. "I have been tricked! There is treachery!" and he bent forward to spring for the door.
Ramiro made a sign, and in another instant the Butcher's fat hands were about Adrian's throat, and his thick thumbs were digging viciously at the victim's windpipe. Still Adrian kicked and struggled, whereon, at a second sign, the villainous-looking man drew a great knife, and, coming up to him, pricked him gently on the nose.
Then Ramiro spoke to him very suavely and quietly.
"Young friend," he said, "where is that faith in me which you promised, and why, when I wish you to sign this quite harmless writing, do you so violently refuse?"
"Because I won't betray my stepfather and brother," gasped Adrian. "I know why you want my signature," and he looked at the man in a priest's robe.
"You won't betray them," sneered Ramiro. "Why, you young fool, you have already betrayed them fifty times over, and what is more, which you don't seem to remember, you have betrayed yourself. Now look here. If you choose to sign that paper, or if you don't choose, makes little difference to me, for, dear pupil, I would almost as soon have your evidence by word of mouth."
"I may be a fool," said Adrian, turning sullen; "yes, I see now that I have been a fool to trust in you and your sham arts, but I am not fool enough to give evidence against my own people in any of your courts. What I have said I said never thinking that it would do them harm."
"Not caring whether it would do them harm or no," corrected Ramiro, "as you had your own object to gain—the young lady whom, by the way, you were quite ready to doctor with a love medicine."
"Because love blinded me," said Adrian loftily.
Ramiro put his hand upon his shoulder and shook him slightly as he answered:
"And has it not struck you, you vain puppy, that other things may blind you also—hot irons, for instance?"
"What do you mean?" gasped Adrian.
"I mean that the rack is a wonderful persuader. Oh! it makes the most silent talk and the most solemn sing. Now take your choice. Will you sign or will you go to the torture chamber?"
"What right have you to question me?" asked Adrian, striving to build up his tottering courage with bold words.
"Just this right—that I to whom you speak am the Captain and Governor of the Gevangenhuis in this town, an official who has certain powers."
Adrian turned pale but said nothing.
"Our young friend has gone to sleep," remarked Ramiro, reflectively. "Here you, Simon, twist his arm a little. No, not the right arm; he may want that to sign with, which will be awkward if it is out of joint: the other."
With an ugly grin the Butcher, taking his fingers from Adrian's throat, gripped his captive's left wrist, and very slowly and deliberately began to screw it round.
"Painful, isn't it?" said Ramiro. "Well, I have no more time to waste, break his arm."
Then Adrian gave in, for he was not fitted to bear torture; his imagination was too lively.
"I will sign," he whispered, the perspiration pouring from his pale face.
"Are you quite sure you do it willingly?" queried his tormentor, adding, "another little half-turn, please, Simon; and you, Mistress Meg, if he begins to faint, just prick him in the thigh with your knife."
"Yes, yes," groaned Adrian.
"Very good. Now here is the pen. Sign."
So Adrian signed.
"I congratulate you upon your discretion, pupil," remarked Ramiro, as he scattered sand on the writing and pocketed the paper. "To-day you have learned a very useful lesson which life teaches to most of us, namely, that the inevitable must rule our little fancies. Let us see; I think that by now the soldiers will have executed their task, so, as you have done what I wished, you can go, for I shall know where to find you if I want you. But, if you will take my advice, which I offer as that of one friend to another, you will hold your tongue about the events of this afternoon. Unless you speak of it, nobody need ever know that you have furnished certain useful information, for in the Gevangenhuis the names of witnesses are not mentioned to the accused. Otherwise you may possibly come into trouble with your heretical friends and relatives. Good afternoon. Brother, be so good as to open the door for this gentleman."
A minute later Adrian found himself in the street, towards which he had been helped by the kick of a heavy boot. His first impulse was to run, and he ran for half a mile or more without stopping, till at length he paused breathless in a deserted street, and, leaning against the wheel of an unharnessed waggon, tried to think. Think! How could he think? His mind was one mad whirl; rage, shame, disappointed passion, all boiled in it like bones in a knacker's cauldron. He had been fooled, he had lost his love, and, oh! infamy, he had betrayed his kindred to the hell of the Inquisition. They would be tortured and burnt. Yes, even his mother and Elsa might be burned, since those devils respected neither age nor sex, and their blood would be upon his head. It was true that he had signed under compulsion, but who would believe that, for had they not taken down his talk word for word? For once Adrian saw himself as he was; the cloaks of vanity and self-love were stripped from his soul, and he knew what others would think when they came to learn the story. He thought of suicide; there was water, here was steel, the deed would not be difficult. No, he could not; it was too horrible. Moreover, how dared he enter the other world so unprepared, so steeped in every sort of evil? What, then, could he do to save his character and those whom his folly had betrayed? He looked round him; there, not three hundred yards away, rose the tall chimney of the factory. Perhaps there was yet time; perhaps he could still warn Foy and Martin of the fate which awaited them.
Acting on the impulse of the moment, Adrian started forward, running like a hare. As he approached the building he saw that the workmen had left, for the big doors were shut. He raced round to the small entrance; it was open—he was through it, and figures were moving in the office. God be praised! They were Foy and Martin. To them he sped, a white-faced creature with gaping mouth and staring eyes, to look at more like a ghost than a human being.
Martin and Foy saw him and shrank back. Could this be Adrian, they thought, or was it an evil vision?
"Fly!" he gasped. "Hide yourselves! The officers of the Inquisition are after you!" Then another thought struck him, and he stammered, "My father and mother. I must warn them!" and before they could speak he had turned and was gone, as he went crying, "Fly! Fly!"
Foy stood astonished till Martin struck him on the shoulder, and said roughly:
"Come, let us get out of this. Either he is mad, or he knows something. Have you your sword and dagger? Quick, then."
They passed through the door, which Martin paused to lock, and into the courtyard. Foy reached the gate first, and looked through its open bars. Then very deliberately he shot the bolts and turned the great key.
"Are you brain-sick," asked Martin, "that you lock the gate on us?"
"I think not," replied Foy, as he came back to him. "It is too late to escape. Soldiers are marching down the street."
Martin ran and looked through the bars. It was true enough. There they came, fifty men or more, a whole company, headed straight for the factory, which it was thought might be garrisoned for defence.
"Now I can see no help but to fight for it," Martin said cheerfully, as he hid the keys in the bucket of the well, which he let run down to the water.
"What can two men do against fifty?" asked Foy, lifting his steel-lined cap to scratch his head.
"Not much, still, with good luck, something. At least, as nothing but a cat can climb the walls, and the gateway is stopped, I think we may as well die fighting as in the torture-chamber of the Gevangenhuis, for that is where they mean to lodge us."
"I think so too," answered Foy, taking courage. "Now how can we hurt them most before they quiet us?"
Martin looked round reflectively. In the centre of the courtyard stood a building not unlike a pigeon-house, or the shelter that is sometimes set up in the middle of a market beneath which merchants gather. In fact it was a shot tower, where leaden bullets of different sizes were cast and dropped through an opening in the floor into a shallow tank below to cool, for this was part of the trade of the foundry.
"That would be a good place to hold," he said; "and crossbows hang upon the walls."
Foy nodded, and they ran to the tower, but not without being seen, for as they set foot upon its stair, the officer in command of the soldiers called upon them to surrender in the name of the King. They made no answer, and as they passed through the doorway, a bullet from an arquebus struck its woodwork.
The shot tower stood upon oaken piles, and the chamber above, which was round, and about twenty feet in diameter, was reached by a broad ladder of fifteen steps, such as is often used in stables. This ladder ended in a little landing of about six feet square, and to the left of the landing opened the door of the chamber where the shot were cast. They went up into the place.
"What shall we do now?" said Foy, "barricade the door?"
"I can see no use in that," answered Martin, "for then they would batter it down, or perhaps burn a way through it. No; let us take it off its hinges and lay it on blocks about eight inches high, so that they may catch their shins against it when they try to rush us."
"A good notion," said Foy, and they lifted off the narrow oaken door and propped it up on four moulds of metal across the threshold, weighting it with other moulds. Also they strewed the floor of the landing with three-pound shot, so that men in a hurry might step on them and fall. Another thing they did, and this was Foy's notion. At the end of the chamber were the iron baths in which the lead was melted, and beneath them furnaces ready laid for the next day's founding. These Foy set alight, pulling out the dampers to make them burn quickly, and so melt the leaden bars which lay in the troughs.
"They may come underneath," he said, pointing to the trap through which the hot shot were dropped into the tank, "and then molten lead will be useful."
Martin smiled and nodded. Then he took down a crossbow from the walls, for in those days, when every dwelling and warehouse might have to be used as a place of defence, it was common to keep a good store of weapons hung somewhere ready to hand, and went to the narrow window which overlooked the gate.
"As I thought," he said. "They can't get in and don't like the look of the iron spikes, so they are fetching a smith to burst it open. We must wait."
Very soon Foy began to fidget, for this waiting to be butchered by an overwhelming force told upon his nerves. He thought of Elsa and his parents, whom he would never see again; he thought of death and all the terrors and wonders that might lie beyond it; death whose depths he must so soon explore. He had looked to his crossbow, had tested the string and laid a good store of quarrels on the floor beside him; he had taken a pike from the walls and seen to its shaft and point; he had stirred the fires beneath the leaden bars till they roared in the sharp draught.
"Is there nothing more to do?" he asked.
"Yes," replied Martin, "we might say our prayers; they will be the last," and suiting his action to the word, the great man knelt down, an example which Foy followed.
"Do you speak," said Foy, "I can't think of anything."
So Martin began a prayer which is perhaps worthy of record:—
"O Lord," he said, "forgive me all my sins, which are too many to count, or at least I haven't the time to try, and especially for cutting off the head of the executioner with his own sword, although I had no death quarrel with him, and for killing a Spaniard in a boxing match. O Lord, I thank you very much because you have arranged for us to die fighting instead of being tortured and burnt in the gaol, and I pray that we may be able to kill enough Spaniards first to make them remember us for years to come. O Lord, protect my dear master and mistress, and let the former learn that we have made an end of which he would approve, but if may be, hide it from the Paster Arentz, who might think that we ought to surrender. That is all I have to say. Amen."
Then Foy did his own praying, and it was hearty enough, but we need scarcely stop to set down its substance.
Meanwhile the Spaniards had found a blacksmith, who was getting to work upon the gate, for they could see him through the open upper bars.
"Why don't you shoot?" asked Foy. "You might catch him with a bolt."
"Because he is a poor Dutchman whom they have pressed for the job, while they stand upon one side. We must wait till they break down the gate. Also we must fight well when the time comes, Master Foy, for, see, folk are watching us, and they will expect it," and he pointed upwards.
Foy looked. The foundry courtyard was surrounded by tall gabled houses, and of these the windows and balconies were already crowded with spectators. Word had gone round that the Inquisition had sent soldiers to seize one of the young Van Goorls and Red Martin—that they were battering at the gates of the factory. Therefore the citizens, some of them their own workmen, gathered there, for they did not think that Red Martin and Foy van Goorl would be taken easily.
The hammering at the gate went on, but it was very stout and would not give.
"Martin," said Foy presently, "I am frightened. I feel quite sick. I know that I shall be no good to you when the pinch comes."
"Now I am sure that you are a brave man," answered Martin with a short laugh, "for otherwise you would never have owned that you feel afraid. Of course you feel afraid, and so do I. It is the waiting that does it; but when once the first blow has been struck, why, you will be as happy as a priest. Look you, master. So soon as they begin to rush the ladder, do you get behind me, close behind, for I shall want all the room to sweep with my sword, and if we stand side by side we shall only hinder each other, while with a pike you can thrust past me, and be ready to deal with any who win through."
"You mean that you want to shelter me with your big carcase," answered Foy. "But you are captain here. At least I will do my best," and putting his arms about the great man's middle, he hugged him affectionately.
"Look! look!" cried Martin. "The gate is down. Now, first shot to you," and he stepped to one side.
As he spoke the oaken doors burst open and the Spanish soldiers began to stream through them. Suddenly Foy's nerve returned to him and he grew steady as a rock. Lifting his crossbow he aimed and pulled the trigger. The string twanged, the quarrel rushed forth with a whistling sound, and the first soldier, pierced through breastplate and through breast, sprang into the air and fell forward. Foy stepped to one side to string his bow.
"Good shot," said Martin taking his place, while from the spectators in the windows went up a sudden shout. Martin fired and another man fell. Then Foy fired again and missed, but Martin's next bolt struck the last soldier through the arm and pinned him to the timber of the broken gate. After this they could shoot no more, for the Spaniards were beneath them.
"To the doorway," said Martin, "and remember what I told you. Away with the bows, cold steel must do the rest."
Now they stood by the open door, Martin, a helmet from the walls upon his head, tied beneath his chin with a piece of rope because it was too small for him, the great sword Silence lifted ready to strike, and Foy behind gripping the long pike with both hands. Below them from the gathered mob of soldiers came a confused clamour, then a voice called out an order and they heard footsteps on the stair.
"Look out; they are coming," said Martin, turning his head so that Foy caught sight of his face. It was transfigured, it was terrible. The great red beard seemed to bristle, the pale blue unshaded eyes rolled and glittered, they glittered like the blue steel of the sword Silence that wavered above them. In that dread instant of expectancy Foy remembered his vision of the morning. Lo! it was fulfilled, for before him stood Martin, the peaceful, patient giant, transformed into a Red Vengeance.
A man reached the head of the ladder, stepped upon one of the loose cannon-balls and fell with an oath and a crash. But behind him came others. Suddenly they turned the corner, suddenly they burst into view, three or four of them together. Gallantly they rushed on. The first of them caught his feet in the trap of the door and fell headlong across it. Of him Martin took no heed, but Foy did, for before ever the soldier could rise he had driven his pike down between the man's shoulders, so that he died there upon the door. At the next Martin struck, and Foy saw this one suddenly grow small and double up, which, if he had found leisure to examine the nature of that wound, would have surprised him very little. Another man followed so quickly that Martin could not lift the sword to meet him. But he pointed with it, and next instant was shaking his carcase off its blade.
After this Foy could keep no count. Martin slashed with the sword, and when he found a chance Foy thrust with the pike, till at length there were none to thrust at, for this was more than the Spaniards had bargained. Two of them lay dead in the doorway, and others had been dragged or had tumbled down the ladder, while from the onlookers at the windows without, as they caught sight of them being brought forth slain or sorely wounded, went up shout upon shout of joy.
"So far we have done very well," said Martin quietly, "but if they come up again, we must be cooler and not waste our strength so much. Had I not struck so hard, I might have killed another man."
But the Spaniards showed no sign of coming up any more; they had seen enough of that narrow way and of the red swordsman who awaited them in the doorway round the corner. Indeed it was a bad place for attackers, since they could not shoot with arquebuses or arrows, but must pass in to be slaughtered like sheep at the shambles in the dim room beyond. So, being cautious men who loved their lives, they took a safer counsel.
The tank beneath the shot-tower, when it was not in use, was closed with a stone cover, and around this they piled firewood and peats from a stack in the corner of the yard, and standing in the centre out of the reach of arrows, set light to it. Martin lay down watching them through a crack in the floor. Then he signed to Foy, and whispered, and going to the iron baths, Foy drew from them two large buckets of molten lead, each as much as a man could carry. Again Martin looked through the crack, waiting till several of the burners were gathered beneath. Then, with a swift motion he lifted up the trap-door, and as those below stared upwards wondering, full into their faces came the buckets of molten lead. Down went two of them never to speak more, while others ran out shrieking and aflame, tearing at their hair and garments.
After this the Spaniards grew more wary, and built their fires round the oak piers till the flames eating up them fired the building, and the room above grew full of little curling wreaths of smoke.
"Now we must choose," said Martin, "whether we will be roasted like fowls in an oven, or go down and have our throats cut like pigs in the open."
"For my part, I prefer to die in the air," coughed Foy.
"So say I, master. Listen. We can't get down the stair, for they are watching for us there, so we must drop from the trap-door and charge through the fire. Then, if we are lucky, back to back and fight it out."
Half a minute later two men bearing naked swords in their hands might be seen bursting through the barrier of flaming wood. Out they came safely enough, and there in an open space not far from the gateway, halted back to back, rubbing the water from their smarting eyes. On them, a few seconds later, like hounds on a wounded boar, dashed the mob of soldiers, while from every throat of the hundreds who were watching went up shrill cries of encouragement, grief, and fear. Men fell before them, but others rushed in. They were down, they were up again, once more they were down, and this time only one of them rose, the great man Martin. He staggered to his feet, shaking off the soldiers who tried to hold him, as a dog in the game-pit shakes off rats. He was up, he stood across the body of his companion, and once more that fearful sword was sweeping round, bringing death to all it touched. They drew back, but a soldier, old in war, creeping behind him suddenly threw a cloak over his head. Then the end came, and slowly, very slowly, they overmatched his strength, and bore him down and bound him, while the watching mob groaned and wept with grief.
IN THE GEVANGENHUIS
When Adrian left the factory he ran on to the house in the Bree Straat.
"Oh! what has happened?" said his mother as he burst into the room where she and Elsa were at work.
"They are coming for him," he gasped. "The soldiers from the Gevangenhuis. Where is he? Let him escape quickly—my stepfather."
Lysbeth staggered and fell back into her chair.
"How do you know?" she asked.
At the question Adrian's head swam and his heart stood still. Yet his lips found a lie.
"I overheard it," he said; "the soldiers are attacking Foy and Martin in the factory, and I heard them say that they were coming here for him."
Elsa moaned aloud, then she turned on him like a tiger, asking:
"If so, why did you not stay to help them?"
"Because," he answered with a touch of his old pomposity, "my first duty was towards my mother and you."
"He is out of the house," broke in Lysbeth in a low voice that was dreadful to hear. "He is out of the house, I know not where. Go, son, and search for him. Swift! Be swift!"
So Adrian went forth, not sorry to escape the presence of these tormented women. Here and there he wandered to one haunt of Dirk's after another, but without success, till at length a noise of tumult drew him, and he ran towards the sound. Presently he was round the corner, and this was what he saw.
Advancing down the wide street leading to the Gevangenhuis came a body of Spanish soldiers, and in the centre of them were two figures whom it was easy for Adrian to recognise—Red Martin and his brother Foy. Martin, although his bull-hide jerkin was cut and slashed and his helmet had gone, seemed to be little hurt, for he was still upright and proud, walking along with his arms lashed behind him, while a Spanish officer held the point of a sword, his own sword Silence, near his throat ready to drive it home should he attempt to escape. With Foy the case was different. At first Adrian thought that he was dead, for they were carrying him upon a ladder. Blood fell from his head and legs, while his doublet seemed literally to be rent to pieces with sword-cuts and dagger-thrusts; and in truth had it not been for the shirt of mail which he wore beneath, he must have been slain several times over. But Foy was not dead, for as Adrian watched he saw his head turn upon the ladder and his hand rise up and fall again.
But this was not all, for behind appeared a cart drawn by a grey horse, and in it were the bodies of Spanish soldiers—how many Adrian could not tell, but there they lay with their harness still on them. After these again, in a long and melancholy procession, marched other Spanish soldiers, some of them sorely wounded, and, like Foy, carried upon doors or ladders, and others limping forward with the help of their comrades. No wonder that Martin walked proudly to his doom, since behind him came the rich harvest of the sword Silence. Also, there were other signs to see and hear, since about the cavalcade surged and roared a great mob of the citizens of Leyden.
"Bravo, Martin! Well fought, Foy van Goorl!" they shouted, "We are proud of you! We are proud of you!" Then from the back of the crowd someone cried, "Rescue them!" "Kill the Inquisition dogs!" "Tear the Spaniards to pieces!"
A stone flew through the air, then another and another, but at a word of command the soldiers faced about and the mob drew back, for they had no leader. So it went on till they were within a hundred yards of the Gevangenhuis.
"Don't let them be murdered," cried the voice. "A rescue! a rescue!" and with a roar the crowd fell upon the soldiers. It was too late, for the Spaniards, trained to arms, closed up and fought their way through, taking their prisoners with them. But they cost them dear, for the wounded men, and those who supported them, were cut off. They were cut off, they were struck down. In a minute they were dead, every one of them, and although they still held its fortresses and walls, from that hour the Spaniards lost their grip of Leyden, nor did they ever win it back again. From that hour to this Leyden has been free. Such were the first fruits of the fight of Foy and Martin against fearful odds.
The great doors of oak and iron of the Gevangenhuis clashed to behind the prisoners, the locks were shot, and the bars fell home, while outside raved the furious crowd.
The place was not large nor very strong, merely a drawbridge across the narrow arm of a moat, a gateway with a walled courtyard beyond, and over it a three-storied house built in the common Dutch fashion, but with straight barrel windows. To the right, under the shadow of the archway, which, space being limited, was used as an armoury, and hung with weapons, lay the court-room where prisoners were tried, and to the left a vaulted place with no window, not unlike a large cellar in appearance. This was the torture-chamber. Beyond was the courtyard, and at the back of it rose the prison. In this yard were waiting the new governor of the jail, Ramiro, and with him a little red-faced, pig-eyed man dressed in a rusty doublet. He was the Inquisitor of the district, especially empowered as delegate of the Blood Council and under various edicts and laws to try and to butcher heretics.
The officer in command of the troops advanced to make his report.
"What is all that noise?" asked the Inquisitor in a frightened, squeaky voice. "Is this city also in rebellion?"
"And where are the rest of you?" said Ramiro, scanning the thin files.
"Sir," answered the officer saluting, "the rest of us are dead. Some were killed by this red rogue and his companion, and the mob have the others."
Then Ramiro began to curse and to swear, as well he might, for he knew that when this story reached headquarters, his credit with Alva and the Blood Council would be gone.
"Coward!" he yelled, shaking his fist in the face of the officer. "Coward to lose a score or more of men in taking a brace of heretics."
"Don't blame me, sir," answered the man sullenly, for the word stirred his bile, "blame the mob and this red devil's steel, which went through us as though we were wet clay," and he handed him the sword Silence.
"It fits the man," muttered Montalvo, "for few else could wield such a blade. Go hang it in the doorway, it may be wanted in evidence," but to himself he thought, "Bad luck again, the luck that follows me whenever I pit myself against Lysbeth van Hout." Then he gave an order, and the two prisoners were taken away up some narrow stairs.
At the top of the first flight was a solid door through which they passed, to find themselves in a large and darksome place. Down the centre of this place ran a passage. On either side of the passage, dimly lighted by high iron-barred windows, were cages built of massive oaken bars, and measuring each of them eight or ten feet square, very dens such as might have served for wild beasts, but filled with human beings charged with offences against the doctrines of the Church. Those who chance to have seen the prison of the Inquisition at The Hague as it still stands to-day, will know what they were like.
Into one of these dreadful holes they were thrust, Foy, wounded as he was, being thrown roughly upon a heap of dirty straw in the corner. Then, having bolted and locked the door of their den, the soldiers left them.
As soon as his eyes grew accustomed to the light, Martin stared about him. The conveniences of the dungeon were not many; indeed, being built above the level of the ground, it struck the imagination as even more terrible than any subterranean vault devoted to the same dreadful purpose. By good fortune, however, in one corner of it stood an earthenware basin and a large jug of water.
"I will take the risk of its being poisoned," thought Martin to himself, as lifting the jug he drank deep of it, for what between fighting, fire and fury there seemed to be no moisture left in him. Then, his burning thirst satisfied at last, he went to where Foy lay unconscious and began to pour water, little by little, into his mouth, which, senseless as he was, he swallowed mechanically and presently groaned a little. Next, as well as he could, Martin examined his comrade's wounds, to find that what had made him insensible was a cut upon the right side of the head, which, had it not been for his steel-lined cap, must certainly have killed him, but as it was, beyond the shock and bruise, seemed in no way serious.
His second hurt was a deep wound in the left thigh, but being on the outside of the limb, although he bled much it had severed no artery. Other injuries he had also upon the forearms and legs, also beneath the chain shirt his body was bruised with the blows of swords and daggers. But none of these were dangerous.
Martin stripped him as tenderly as he might and washed his wounds. Then he paused, for both of them were wearing garments of flannel, which is unsuitable for the dressing of hurts.
"You need linen," said a woman's voice, speaking from the next den. "Wait awhile and I will give you my smock."
"How can I take your garment, lady, whoever you may be," answered Martin, "to bind about the limbs of a man even if he is wounded?"
"Take it and welcome," said the unknown in sweet, low tones, "I want it no more; they are going to execute me to-night."
"Execute you to-night?" muttered Martin.
"Yes," replied the voice, "in the court-room or one of the cellars, I believe, as they dare not do it outside because of the people. By beheading—am I not fortunate? Only by beheading."
"Oh! God, where art Thou?" groaned Martin.
"Don't be sorry for me," answered the voice, "I am very glad. There were three of us, my father, my sister, and I, and—you can guess—well, I wish to join them. Also it is better to die than to go through what I have suffered again. But here is the garment. I fear that it is stained about the neck, but it will serve if you tear it into strips," and a trembling, delicate hand, which held the linen, was thrust between the oaken bars.
Even in that light, however, Martin saw that the wrist was cut and swollen. He saw it, and because of that tender, merciful hand he registered an oath about priests and Spaniards, which, as it chanced, he lived to keep very thoroughly. Also, he paused awhile wondering whether if all this was of any good, wondering if it would not be best to let Foy die at once, or even to kill him.
"What are you thinking about, sir?" asked the lady on the other side of the bars.
"I am thinking," answered Martin, "that perhaps my young master here would be better dead, and that I am a fool to stop the bleeding."
"No, no," said the sweet voice, "do your utmost and leave the rest to God. It pleases God that I should die, which matters little as I am but a weak girl; it may please Him that this young man shall live to be of service to his country and his faith. I say, bind up his wounds, good sir."
"Perhaps you are right," answered Martin. "Who knows, there's a key to every lock, if only it can be found." Then he set to work upon Foy's wounds, binding them round with strips of the girl's garment dipped in water, and when he had done the best he could he clothed him again, even to the chain shirt.
"Are you not hurt yourself?" asked the voice presently.
"A little, nothing to speak of; a few cuts and bruises, that's all; this bull's hide turned their swords."
"Tell me whom you have been fighting," she said.
So, to while away the time while Foy still lay senseless, Martin told her the story of the attack upon the shot tower, of how they had driven the Spaniards down the ladder, of how they had drenched them with molten lead, and of their last stand in the courtyard when they were forced from the burning building.
"Oh! what a fearful fight—two against so many," said the voice with a ring of admiration in it.
"Yes," answered Martin, "it was a good fight—the hottest that ever I was in. For myself I don't much care, for they've paid a price for my carcase. I didn't tell you, did I, that the mob set on them as they haled us here and pulled four wounded men and those who carried them to bits? Oh! yes, they have paid a price, a very good price for a Frisian boor and a Leyden burgher."
"God pardon their souls," murmured the unknown.
"That's as He likes," said Martin, "and no affair of mine; I had only to do with their bodies and—" At this moment Foy groaned, sat up and asked for something to drink.
Martin gave him water from the pitcher.
"Where am I?" he asked, and he told him.
"Martin, old fellow," said Foy in an uncertain voice, "we are in a very bad way, but as we have lived through this"—here his characteristic hopefulness asserted itself—"I believe, I believe that we shall live through the rest."
"Yes, young sir," echoed the thin, faint notes out of the darkness beyond the bars, "I believe, too, that you will live through the rest, and I am praying that it may be so."
"Who is that?" asked Foy drowsily.
"Another prisoner," answered Martin.
"A prisoner who will soon be free," murmured the voice again through the blackness, for by now night had fallen, and no light came from the hole above.
Then Foy fell into sleep or stupor, and there was silence for a long while, until they heard the bolts and bars of the door of the dungeon creaking, and the glint of a lantern appeared floating on the gloom. Several men tramped down the narrow gangway, and one of them, unlocking their cage, entered, filled the jug of water from a leathern jack, and threw down some loaves of black bread and pieces of stockfish, as food is thrown to dogs. Having examined the pair of them he grunted and went away, little knowing how near he had been to death, for the heart of Martin was mad. But he let him go. Then the door of the next cell was opened, and a man said, "Come out. It is time."
"It is time and I am ready," answered the thin voice. "Good-bye, friends, God be with you."
"Good-bye, lady," answered Martin; "may you soon be with God." Then he added, by an afterthought, "What is your name? I should like to know."
"Mary," she replied, and began to sing a hymn, and so, still singing the hymn, she passed away to her death. They never saw her face, they never learned who she might be, this poor girl who was but an item among the countless victims of perhaps the most hideous tyranny that the world has ever known—one of Alva's slaughtered sixty thousand. But many years afterwards, when Foy was a rich man in a freer land, he built a church and named it Mary's kirk.
The long night wore away in silence, broken only by the groans and prayers of prisoners in dens upon the same floor, or with the solemn rhythm of hymns sung by those above, till at length the light, creeping through the dungeon lattices, told them that it was morning. At its first ray Martin awoke much refreshed, for even there his health and weariness had brought sleep to him. Foy also awoke, stiff and sore, but in his right mind and very hungry. Then Martin found the loaves and the stockfish, and they filled themselves, washing down the meal with water, after which he dressed Foy's wounds, making a poultice for them out of the crumb of the bread, and doctored his own bruises as best he could.
It must have been ten o'clock or later when again the doors were opened, and men appeared who commanded that they should follow them.
"One of us can't walk," said Martin; "still, perhaps I can manage," and, lifting Foy in his arms as though he had been a baby, he passed with the jailers out of the den, down the stair, and into the court-room. Here, seated behind a table, they found Ramiro and the little, squeaky-voiced, red-faced Inquisitor.
"Heaven above us!" said the Inquisitor, "what a great hairy ruffian; it makes me feel nervous to be in the same place with him. I beg you, Governor Ramiro, instruct your soldiers to be watching and to stab him at the first movement."
"Have no fear, noble sir," answered Ramiro, "the villain is quite unarmed."
"I daresay, I daresay, but let us get on. Now what is the charge against these people? Ah! I see, heresy like the last upon the evidence of—oh! well, never mind. Well, we will take that as proved, and, of course, it is enough. But what more? Ah! here it is. Escaped from The Hague with the goods of a heretic, killed sundry of his Majesty's lieges, blew up others on the Haarlemer Meer, and yesterday, as we know for ourselves, committed a whole series of murders in resisting lawful arrest. Prisoners, have you anything to say?"
"Plenty," answered Foy.
"Then save your trouble and my time, since nothing can excuse your godless, rebellious, and damnable behaviour. Friend Governor, into your hands I deliver them, and may God have mercy on their souls. See, by the way, that you have a priest at hand to shrive them at last, if they will be shriven, just for the sake of charity, but all the other details I leave to you. Torment? Oh! of course if you think there is anything to be gained by it, or that it will purify their souls. And now I will be going on to Haarlem, for I tell you frankly, friend Governor, that I don't think this town of Leyden safe for an honest officer of the law; there are too many bad characters here, schismatics and resisters of authority. What? The warrant not ready? Well, I will sign it in blank. You can fill it in. There. God forgive you, heretics; may your souls find peace, which is more, I fear, than your bodies will for the next few hours. Bah! friend Governor, I wish that you had not made me assist at the execution of that girl last night, especially as I understand she leaves no property worth having; her white face haunts my mind, I can't be rid of the look of those great eyes. Oh! these heretics, to what sorrow do they put us orthodox people! Farewell, friend Governor; yes, I think I will go out by the back way, some of those turbulent citizens might be waiting in front. Farewell, and temper justice with mercy if you can," and he was gone.