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keep them-remember Haarlem! Two women and a child—à maiden child-depend on me, and I have sworn if the town falls to stab them all three to the heart, and myself afterwards.
You are a man in soul, though a boy in years, Dirk Willem
I want your promise-your oath-that you will stand by me in this thing."
Dirk shuddered. Plunge a knife into Roskě's heart! The thing was unimaginable. “Don't ask me,” he said hoarsely. “But, Mynheer, I will do all I can ; all that is possible.”
“My words are too hard for thee, poor boy. Keep them to thyself. Let not my wife and sister know that I have abandoned hope-or rather, that hope has abandoned me.”
No one spoke of Dirk's return to the fleet. The attempt would have been almost certain death, and for no certain gain. His presence in
the city was worth, many times over, the morsel of food upon which he contrived to exist. In the
terrible enforced idleness caused by the stagnation of business in the town, one who had endless stories of what was doing in the fleet and in the country was enormous acquisition. Many a weary hour did he beguile for the gaunt, holloweyed groups that used to gather round him in the squares, or at the corners of the streets. He would give a minute description of the ships, each and all, from the ponderous Ark of Delft, which was moved in the water, not by sails, but by paddles and a crank, down to his own little Scorpion, with her desperate crew and her brave oneeyed captain. On these occasions he would usually have Roskě in his arms, sometimes listening delighted to his stories, sometimes sleeping quietly, or playing with some toy he had made for her. There was
one subject, however, upon which he preserved a determined silence. 'Why does not the Prince come himself to the fleet?” was often asked of him. “His presence would be worth a new army.”
“Would you wish him to come and be killed by the Spaniards ?” Dirk would ask.
No; they did not wish him to lose his life, though perhaps they wished him to risk it for their sakes. Perhaps it would have been some consolation to them in their misery if he had. But they thought him safe at Delft or Rotterdam, with plenty to eat and drink, while they were starving. There were some who even dared to hint that fighting was not his strong point, that he kept out of it whenever he could. Dirk's loyal heart burned within him, but still he held his peace.
Such words as these were but chance “spray drops from the fount of misery ;" on the whole, and persistently, the agonised city looked to the Prince as mariners look to the pole-star. Next after the Name Divine, his name was ever on their lips; they could not pray for him, Dirk thought, more fervently, even if they knew how much he needed their prayers.
Dirk came to Leyden on the morning of the 12th of September, and on the 18th, after six slow days of suffering, there dawned a ray of hope. Going early out to visit some of the many sick, Adrian felt, to his joy, a strong north-west wind blowing in his face. He came back instantly
“Rose-Marie,” he cried, as he entered the room where they were busy examining an armful of green things Dirk had brought in to try if any were fit to eat.-"Rose - Marie—the wind has changed. And, thank God, it is blowing a gale. It will bring the water. The ships will float-at last."
Rose and Marie shed tears of joy, and even little Roskě, who had recovered some of her playfulness since the coming of Dirk, danced about the room, crying, “The ships will bring us breadwe shall have bread again.”
Rose reached down her hood.
“Let us go to church,” she said, “and thank God. Adrian, you will come too."
During that sad time, all the churches in the town were open continually, and preachers full of zeal exhorted the people, encouraged them to hope in God, and led their prayers for deliverance. Rose and Marie found much comfort in attending, but Adrian latterly had refused to accompany them. He said now, “ Not to-day, ma mie, there are too many sick who need me. Pray thou for us both."
For three days the gale lasted. Hope grew ever stronger in the hearts of the citizens. On a little hill in the midst of their town stood the citadel, the historic tower of Hengist, commanding a wide view over the level plain that stretched around, intersected by canals and dotted with sheets of water. The men of Leyden, and Adrian often amongst them, used to ascend to the ramparts of the tower, and watch the friendly fleet as it drew nearer and nearer, borne along upon the rapidly rising waters. And now, at last, the watery waste reflected something more than the shadow of the ships. There gleamed across it fires which were not baleful, but true beacons of hope. The Spanish fortifications, and the villages they had occupied, were falling one by one into the hands of the Sea Beggars, who set them on fire, to tell the citizens by their blaze that rescue was at hand. The excitement of the town rose to its utmost, when salvoes of artillery, plainly heard from the fleet, told that the strong position of the north Aa, which had been held in force by the Spaniards, was taken at last.
During those days of strained expectation, the citizens lived on hope, and they had little else left them to live upon. But, to the thunder of that cannon from the north Aa, there succeeded an ominous silence. Again the wind changed; now, as before, it blew persistently from the east. From the summit of the tower of Hengist, to which, day by day with weary feet and throbbing hearts the citizens ascended, they could plainly see the fleet lying stranded in the shallow water. Between them and it they saw the host of their enemies -driven into an ever-narrowing, yet all the more impenetrable circle--- bristling with cannon, and glistening with steel around the doomed citydoomed, it would seem, to perish in a lingering agony with rescue full in view.
On one of these awful days, Adrian came into the house with a frown on his brow, holding Roskě by the hand. That frown was often seen now upon the broad forehead of the poor perplexed man of science, forced, in spite of himself, to take
part in the turmoil of the distracting world around him. “For Heaven's sake, Rose, keep the child indoors,” he said, almost angrily. “I found her down by the canal playing with the children of Arendtz the glover. And - he has plague.”
Rose's pale cheek took an added shade of paleness." The Plague! Oh, Adrian, has God sent that too?”
“God, or the devil. God, perhaps, to shorten our misery, since He does not mean to save us. Whoever sent it, it is here. The watchmen report several found dead of it this morning. I myself saw a woman with a baby at her breast-both dead. But I own that, upon examination, I found no trace of the plague. It was only starvation. Still, if you think it worth while keeping Roskě, or any of us, alive a little longer, 'twere well to take more care of her. Where is Dirk ?”
“ Gone to fetch our daily morsel of flesh from the shambles. He says the crowds there are fearful. Scraps of hide, blood, offal-everything is desperately fought for."
“ That will be over soon—when the cattle are all gone. And there is Valdez outside bidding high for a surrender."
“Which the city fathers will not hear of,” said Rose's steadfast, sorrowful voice.
“Nor any man-nor woman-nor child even. We have often said we would die first. And now, it means that. But I must go. If I can do no more,
I can at least show myself no whit afraid of this thing they call the plague. Why should we fear it? It is a quicker and easier death than starvation.” (Still, he had been tremblingly anxious to preserve Roskě from contagion. Hope is hard to kill, when it draws its life from love.)
“Adrian,” Rose said with hesitation, " these are perilous days. Wilt kiss me ere thou goest forth, my husband ?”
“Surely, my beloved.”
Long and tender was the kiss he pressed upon the white and trembling lips.
She held his hand fast in hers, looked into his face, and smiled.
“ Thou canst smile—now ?” he said, surprised.
“Why not?" she answered, smiling still. “Adrian, I am not unhappy. For, in these dark days, I have come back to my father's God. Or rather, my father's God has come back to me. It is better with me now (were it not for you and Roskě and the others) than it was in Antwerp or Rotterdam, where we had bread enough, and to spare. Do you remember that day, in the Venetian House in Antwerp, after Alva came, when we stood and watched the martyrs, with our Betgen among them, go singing to their death ? I knew why they sang, and I envied them in my heart. God was with them. But He is so good that sometimes He forgives and blesses--not steadfast martyrs only—but those who have been weak and faithless—like me.”
"It is well for thee," said Adrian gently, though sadly. “ But-weak and faithless ! "Tis thou that hast the strong faith, to stand all these trials."
Through the trials God brought me the faith,”
said Rose. “ As the waters are bringing the ships of our deliverance. It was when everything, even daily bread, was gone, that I first knew He was there-my father's God, and
go now, beloved, I must not keep thee from the sick, who need thee so. Only remember, whatever comes, that thy poor weak Rose is strong now, for His strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Adrian went forth to his work with a softened, but foreboding heart. He speedily found his boast that no one in the city would hear of a surrender falsified by facts. It was impossible that the miscellaneous population of a great city should all, without exception, behave like heroes and martyrs. There were the Glippers, whose Cassandra-like prophecies were for ever sounding in the ears of their fellow-citizens ; but these were few compared with the great crowd, who were neither Glippers nor traitors, only men and women dying slowly of hunger, and seeing their loved ones die before their eyes. Was it any wonder if the wish, which is father to the thought, inclined them to place faith in the promises of mercy and forgiveness the Spaniards were now daily proffering, and urging?
At first Adrian did not notice anything unusual, so full were his thoughts of Rose, and Rose's words of peace and resignation. Far from bringing him any comfort, these filled his heart with a great fear. Could it be that God, or whatever dread power ruled their destinies, was going to take from him the desire of his eyes ? “For," thought he, “it is ever so. At the end comes peace. The ship settles ere it sinks, the thunder burst is heralded by a calm. Well, and what matter, after all ? Are we not dying, all of us?” Here he came suddenly out of his reverie to find himself entangled in a crowd ; a thing which often happened to him, not because he liked crowds, for he hated them, but because he was apt to lose himself in his own thoughts, and take no heed whither he was going
This was no common crowd. Fierce, wild-eyed men, and fiercer women yelled, screamed, shouted, tossing their thin arms in passionate supplication, or clenching their hands, as if for some dread revenge.
“ What is the matter ?” he asked of some one near, as soon as he could make his voice heard above the tumult. “Have the Spaniards forced the gate ?"
“Would they had !” said the man addressed.
“ Better the Spaniards than the hunger fiend," cried another.
“My wife died of hunger last night," a third added, and Adrian's heart sank within him at the word.
“We are all dying--dying," wailed a woman's voice.
“ But what do all these people want?” asked Adrian of the first speaker.
" They want the Burgomaster to surrender the town. All this misery is his doing. And that of Colonel Van der Does, the Commandant.”
"Is the Burgomaster here?” asked Adrian. He could not see for the throng around him.
“Look! that's his hat yonder with the Beggar's tempting them to surrender with promises of mercy and pardon, which grew every day more liberal and more alluring. They mocked with bitter scorn their hopes of rescue.
“ As well,” cried they to the starving sentinels on the walls, “ as well could the Prince of Orange pluck the stars from the
as bring the bread to the walls of Leyden.” But this was the final answer to threat, and taunt and promise — “Ye call us rat-eaters and dog-eaters, and it is true.
So long then as ye hear dog bark or cat mew within the walls, so long ye may know that the city holds out. And when all have perished we will devour our left arms, keeping our right to defend our women, our freedom and our faith. When the last hour has come, with our own hands we will set fire to the city, and die together, men, women, and children in the flames, rather than suffer our homes to be polluted, and our liberties to be crushed.”
CHAPTER XVII.—DIRK'S HOLIDAY CAP.
medal in it! There, in the very midst ! Well if he escapes with life.”
“God help him!” said another. They are like to tear him limb from limb."
Adrian did not try now to get out of the crowd. Exerting all his remaining strength he pushed his way into the very centre of it, and as the units that composed it were at least as weak as himself, it was no difficult task. To stand beside the brave Burgomaster, and help him to keep off his cowardly assailants, was his one thought and aim. With all his heart Adrian Perrenot reverenced Adrian Van der Werf, the soul of adamant noshing could move, the strong rock upon which all men rested, the man who was, for the town of Leyden, what William of Nassau was for the whole land. Pressing to his side, he saw at a glance that in the midst of that furious mob he was cool and dauntless, as in his seat in the Council Hall. To the threats, the curses, the
in his ears, he made no reply, but walked on steadily, drawing the crowd after him. Down they passed through narrow streets, on by the tower of Hengist, on-on still-until they all poured together into the Place where stood the church of St. Pancras. There, at the door, between two ancient lime-trees, the Burgomaster took his stand, a tall, gaunt figure, worn and haggard as the poorest who cried to him for bread, but full of the majesty of high resolve and unflinching courage. He took off his broad-leaved felt hat and waved it over the crowd, imploring, or rather commanding silence. This crowd knew its master, and obeyed.
Then he spoke those heroic words which still echo down the centuries : “What would ye, my friends? That we should break our vows, and surrender to the Spaniards, a fate more horrible than the agony we are enduring now? I tell you, I have sworn to hold the city, and may God give me strength to keep my oath! I can die but once, whether by your hands, or the enemy's, or the hand of God. For my own fate I care not, but I care for the city entrusted to me. I know we shall starve if not soon relieved, but better starvation than dishonoured death. Your threats move me not,--my life is in your hands, here is my sword, plunge it into my heart, divide my flesh among you. Take my body to appease your hunger, but expect no surrender, as long as I live."
There was a moment's silence. Then Adrian's voice raised a shout of applause. It was caught up instantly by the crowd :-famished and desperate though they were, they were not falsehearted. Long and loud it sounded, making the walls of the old church, and the houses clustering round it, ring again and yet again with its echoes. Yet it had an undertone of deep pathos, showing that the hearts it came from, though resolved, were well-nigh breaking. But the Burgomaster knew now that the men of Leyden would be true to him, and to each other, “to the bitter end.”
Thus was quelled the solitary outbreak by which a few--and only a few-of the agonised citizens of Leyden dimmed the glory of their long martyrdom. All this time the Spaniards were
THEN the crowd had dispersed from the door
of the church of St. Pancras, and the heroic
Burgomaster had gone home, Adrian stood there still, in the reaction that follows strong excitement. Feeling faint and weak, he thought he would go into the house of a friend and patient, who lived beside the church, and who might, perhaps, have a little wine to give him. So he knocked at the door, and receiving no answer, presently knocked again--knocked, at intervals, four times or five.
He had begun to feel uneasy, when one of the city watchmen passed by. Knowing the Doctor, as most people did, by sight, he stopped
“ Have you not heard what has happened here, Mynheer Doctor ? Not one in that house needs your help any more. Going my rounds this morning, I was hailed by a man who said he thought something was wrong; he had been knocking for half-an-hour without an answer. So we forced the door, and found no living thing within--father, mother, children, servants, all dead. We are coming back to-night to bury them.”
Adrian shuddered. He knew this was solitary occurrence; more than once already had whole households been found dead-of plague, or famine, or both.
He sat down on the threshold of the house of death. He remembered vaguely that he had set out to visit his patients—but what use? The physician felt his work was done, his calling taken from him, by that mightier physician whose touch heals all earthly ills, and whose name is Death.
Probably he fainted as he sat there ; he never knew. The next thing he was conscious of was a hand laid upon his shoulder. Looking up, he saw Dirk before him, and his fears about Rose came back.
“What is wrong?” he asked. “Is it
“Oh no, Mynheer, the ladies are as usual ; but they sent me to bid you come back at once, for ” -he bent down close to him and whispered in his ear—" we have food.”
The magic whisper brought Adrian to his feet.
not weep any more for the dead, neither bemoaned them.
Death hovered over the house of Adrian, but as yet forbore to strike.
He had now given up in despair the physician's contest with the dread adversary, and spent his time either in a frantic search after morsels of anything that could rossibly be eaten, or in pilgrimages to the Tower of Hengist, whence his longing eyes could see the ships of the deliverers stranded at the North Aa, while the shallow waters between mocked his despair, and would not rise. Only a few more inches needed to bear them onward! But, unless the wind changed, those inches were impossible.
The body asserted its imperious sway; the sickening hunger pain was gnawing his heart out, and for the moment the thought of a meal was absolute bliss.
“ Where? How?” he asked, tottering and leaning on Dirk for support.
“ That good Master Floriszoon searched the shelves again where he used to keep his drugs. He found behind one of them a hole in the wall, into which there had slipped a bag about the size of a child's head. The rats being gone now it was all right-and full of some grain, hard, and white, and long-shaped. He says the Indians eat it.”
“ Rice! That is excellent food! God be praised !”
“He gave us five-sixths of it,” Dirk continued. “He says he has only himself to think for now, and there are five of us."
“ But then, his old mother, whom he takes such care of ?”
" His mother died this morning," Dirk answered sadly. “It was before you went out, but he would not tell you. He brought us the food and the news together. He would do anything for the ladies, they have been so kind to her, he says. Come quickly, Mynheer, Mevrouw is cooking the rice."
A few handfuls of rice, and a few gleams of hope, kept the little household alive for some days longer. The tidings of hope were brought to the city, appropriately, by a dove, in a letter from Admiral Boisot, promising that relief should come very soon-in a few days at farthest. The welcome missive was read publicly in the Marketplace, and all the bells of all the churches rang out a joyous peal.
But Adrian heard the sound with a sinking heart; for he raised his sorrowful eyes, which had no light of hope in them, to the vanes on the steeples, and saw that now again they pointed steadily to the east. " While that wind lasts, the ships cannot move," he said within himself. “ Relief may come in the end, but it will come to a city of the dead.”
When he returned home that day, he dared not look his wife or his sister in the face, for theirs were still bright with hope. He took little Roskě in his arms, and found her hot, feverish, and fretful. “She was tired of playing,” she said, laying her head down on his shoulder.
“ Then go to sleep, darling. Father will keep you in his arms."
“Oh, I can't sleep ; I am too hungry. I want the ships to come to us, with the bread.”
“ Then pray God to change the wind,” said Adrian, in hopeless bitterness of soul.
But the child did pray, with all childhood's faith and fervour, until a sleep, which her father well-nigh hoped might be the last, stole over her weary eyelids.
For three awful days the vanes still pointed to the east, until the city grew almost silent in the depth of its despair : strength only remained for low inarticulate moans, and wailings that had no ear to hear them-upon earth. In the streets and the houses death was busy, but now the living did
LITTLE ROSKÉ CANNOT SLEEP FOR HUNGER.
On the evening of the 1st of October, Adrian stood upon the tower, lost in melancholy thought. Suddenly he found his broad-leaved felt hat carried off his head, down to the roofs of the hous below. The wind was rising—that was nothing. But what was much-what was everything--the wind was changing. The joyful cries of the starved watchers around him proclaimed the fact. Neither he nor they could bear to quit the post of observation, although so weakened by long fasting that they had to cling to rampart, wall, and buttress, to avoid being swept away.
Ere midnight a cry arose : “ It is the Equinoctial gale! It is blowing north-west !
We are saved ! "
Rapidly, even as they watched and waited, it veered round to the south-west. Better still ! Little recked those weak and weary watchers that the keen, strong wind pierced them to the bone, besides threatening every moment to hurl them from their places. They exulted in its might. It was the wind of God! He was fighting for them at last!
Morning came. The October sun shone down upon a grey and seething mass of water in the distance, flecked with foam. The wind of God had brought the waves of His sea, filling first the channels of the Meuse and Yssel, then sweeping over the whole land with mighty, thundering, resistless force, dashing furiously onward over dyke and causeway, and every other obstacle that opposed it.
Morning showed something else too. During the night the uproar of the storm had drowned the “confused noise" of battle ; but with returning light the citizens saw that their friends had been fighting fiercely for them in the darkness. Spanish ships were drifting about helplessly, or sinking wrecked and crippled, while the light of blazing villages showed how their strong posts were taken or abandoned. How brightly gleamed the sun upon the brown ships of the Sea Beggars, as they sailed on triumphantly towards the two forts of Leydensdorp and Lammen-one little mile only from the gates of Leyden! Hope grew into rapture, when the flames, bursting from Leydensdorp, told that it too had been taken, and set on fire by the deliverers.
This sight brought Adrian home, to tell his household that rescue was at hand. It was time. There was absolutely no food now. The little party sat together, silent, with idle hands, as mourners sit beside their dead. Only, these were waiting themselves for death. Adrian thought Roskě very ill, and would have laid her in her little bed, but she did not care to leave her place, leaning on her mother's breast.
Whilst he was talking with them, the aged pastor whose church Rose and Marie usually attended, came in.
He bore, carefully concealed beneath his cloak, a basket, out of which he took a small piece of bread and a flask of wine. After affectionate greetings, he explained that, ere their stores were quite spent, the Town Council had entrusted him with a little flour and a little wine for the administration of the Lord's Supper. He had kept them faithfully for the purpose, resisting all agonies of starvation ; but now, when a few hours must decide their fate one way or the other, he felt himself free to give what was left to the sick amongst his congregation, if it might perchance be the means of preserving life. He had heard there was a sick child in the house ; but, knowing the piety and faithfulness of Mevrouw Pernet and her sister, he proposed to turn what --although he had a good hope in God's mercymight yet be their last meal upon earth, into a sacred feast.
" You speak well, Mynheer Pastor," said Adrian, " and I pray of you, so do as you have said. But as I do not feel my conscience free to partake of the sacred rite, I shall bid you fare
well, only asking your leave to call my friend, Master Floriszoon, the apothecary, who dwells in the upper part of this house. He will take my place.
In spite of the earnest remonstrances of his wife and sister, who would have had him share at least the bread and wine, Adrian went out again, and paced the silent streets, now almost deserted, nearly every one who could walk being on the rampart either of the town or of the citadel. He was long past any clear or consecutive thinking, but he wondered, in a dull, aimless way, whether those waves were sweeping over the land at the bidding of the God Rose and the Pastor worshipped, or whether it was all pure chance and blind fate.
Meanwhile, prayer and faith and childlike resignation into the hands of the God they knew and loved, strengthened the hearts of those left behind, including the little child, even more than the morsel of bread and the few drops of wine strengthened their fainting frames.
Day wore to eventide. At nightfall another dove flew in, bearing a message. This the Burgomaster read aloud in the great square to a breathless multitude. It was bitterly disappointing. The Spaniards indeed had lost heavily, but they had concentrated their remaining forces in the strong fort of Lammen, the last bar to the entrance of the town. To the Admiral and the fleet this last bar seemed impregnable. Nevertheless, on the following morning they would attempt to carry it. If they failed, they would then have done all that men could do for the relief of Leyden.
Having read this, the Burgomaster, without a word, led the way to the Tower of Hengist, whither he was followed by the crowd. Adrian was among them, and Dirk joined him on the way.
Van der Werf stood upon the rampart, and stretching out his gaunt arms towards the ships of their preservers, cried aloud in his penetrating voice
“ Yonder-behind that fort- are bread, meat, and brethren in thousands. Shall all this be destroyed by the Spanish guns, or shall we rush to the rescue of our friends ? "
A cry went up to the darkening sky, wrung from the deepest hearts of those despairing men.
“ We will tear down the fortress with our teeth and nails, ere we see the long-expected relief wrested from us thus.”
" Good! Let all who are of this mind follow Colonel Van der Does in a sortie from the Cowgate at daybreak to-morrow.”
“We will all be there," cried the citizens. “And if we fail," they added in their hearts, may the Lord have mercy on our souls.”
Night fell—a night of blackest darkness, no moon, no stars. Adrian found his way home with difficulty. Most of the crowd went home also, to prepare for the intended sortie, Dirk lingered still on the rampart of the tower, gazing through the darkness at the place where he knew the terrible Lammen Fort to be. He did not want to
His loving eyes, which watched Roskě so tenderly, saw a look that day in the little face