Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
Peter had promised Henrica, to request the council to give her permission to leave the city.
It was hard for her to part from the burgomaster's household. Maria's frank nature exerted a beneficial influence; it seemed as if her respect for her own sex increased in her society. The day before she had heard her sing. The young wife's voice was like her character. Every note flawless and clear as a bell, and Henrica grieved that she should be forbidden to mingle her own voice with her hostess's. She was very sorry to leave the children too. Yet she was obliged to go, on Anna's account, for her father could not be persuaded by letters to do anything. Had she appealed to him in writing to forgive his rejected child, he would hardly have read the epistle to the end. Something might more easily be won from him through words, by taking advantage of a favorable moment. She must have speech with him, yet she dreaded the life in his castle, especially as she was forced to acknowledge, that she too was by no means necessary to her father. To secure the inheritance, he had sent her to a terrible existence with her aunt; while she lay dangerously ill, he had gone to a tournament, and the letter received from him the day before, contained nothing but the information that he was refused admittance to the city, and a summons for her to go to Junker de Heuter's house at the Hague. Enclosed was a pass from Valdez, enjoining all King Philip's soldiers to provide for her safety.
The burgomaster had intended to have her conveyed in a litter, accompanied by a flag of truce, as far as the Spanish lines, and the doctor no longer opposed her wish to travel. She hoped to leave that day.
Lost in thought, she stationed herself in the baywindow and gazed out into the court-yard. Several windows in the building on the eastern side stood open. Trautchen must have risen early, for she came out of the rooms arranged for Georg's occupation, followed by a young assistant carrying various scrubbing utensils. Next Jan appeared with a large arm-chair on his head. Bessie ran after the Frieselander, calling:
"Aunt Barbel's grandfather's chair; where will she take her afternoon nap?"
Henrica had heard the words, and thought first of good old "Babetta," who could also feel tenderly, then of Maria and the man who was to lodge in the rooms opposite. Were there not some loose threads still remaining of the old tie, that had united the burgomaster's wife to the handsome nobleman? A feeling of dread overpowered her. Poor Meister Peter, poor Maria!
Was it right to abandon the young wife, who had held out a saving hand in her distress? Yet how much nearer was her own sister than this stranger! Each day that she allowed herself to linger in this peaceful asylum, seemed like a theft from Anna--since she had read in a letter from her to her husband, the only one the dead man's pouch contained, that she was ill and sunk in poverty with her child.
Help was needed here, and no one save herself could offer it.
With aid from Barbara and Maria, she packed her clothes. At noon everything was ready for her departure, and she would not be withheld from eating in the dining-room with the family. Peter was prevented from coming to dinner, Henrica took his seat and, under the mask of loud, forced mirth, concealed the grief and anxieties that filled her heart. At twilight Maria and the children followed her into her room, and she now had the harp brought and sang. At first her voice failed to reach many a note, but as the snow falling from the mountain peaks to the plains at first slides slowly, then rapidly increases in bulk and power, her tones gradually gained fulness and irresistible might and, when at last she rested the harp against the wall and walked to the chair exhausted, Maria clasped her hand and said with deep emotion:
"Stay with us, Henrica."
"I ought not," replied the girl.
"You are enough for each other. Shall I take you with me, children?" Adrian lowered his eyes in embarrassment, but Bessie jumped into her lap, exclaiming.
"Where are you going? Stay with us."
Just at that moment some one knocked at the door, and Peter entered. It was evident that he brought no good tidings. His request had been refused. The council had almost unanimously voted an assent to Van Bronkhorst's proposition, that the young lady, as a relation of prominent friends of Spain among the Netherland nobility, should be kept in the city. Peter's representations were unheeded; he now frankly told Henrica what a conflict he had had, and entreated her to have patience and be content to remain in his house as a welcome guest.
The young girl interrupted him with many a passionate exclamation of indignation, and when she grew calmer, cried:
"Oh, you men, you men! I would gladly stay with you, but you know from what this base deed of violence detains me. And then: to be a prisoner, to live weeks, months, without mass and without confession. Yet first and last-merciful Heavens, what will become of my unfortunate sister?"
Maria gazed beseechingly at Peter, and the latter said:
"If you desire the consolations of your religion, I will send Father Damianus to you, and you can hear mass with the Grey Sisters, who live beside us, as often as you desire. We are not fighting against your religion, but for the free exercise of every faith, and the whole city stands open to you. My wife will help you bear your anxiety about your sister far better than I could do, but let me say this: wherever and however I can help you, it shall be done, and not merely in words."
So saying, he held out his hand to Henrica. She gave him hers, exclaiming:
"I have cause to thank you, I know, but please leave me now and give me time to think until tomorrow."
"Is there no way of changing the decision of the council?" Maria asked her husband.
"No, certainly not."
"Well, then," said the young wife earnestly, "you must remain our guest. Anxiety for your sister does not cloud your pleasure alone, but saddens me too. Let us first of all provide for her. How are the roads to Delft?"
"They are cut, and no one will be able to pass after to-morrow or the day after."
"Then calm yourself, Henrica, and let us consider what is to be done."
The questions and counter-questions began, and Henrica gazed in astonishment at the delicate young wife, for with unerring resolution and keenness, she held the first voice in the consultation. The surest means of gaining information was to seek that very day a reliable messenger, by whom to send Anna d'Avila money, and if possible bring her to Holland. The burgomaster declared himself ready to advance from his own property, a portion of the legacy bequeathed Henrica's sister by Fraulein Van Hoogstraten, and accepted his guest's thanks without constraint.
"But whom could they send?"
Henrica thought of Wilhelm; he was her sister's friend.
"But he is in the military service," replied the burgomaster. "I know him. He will not desert the city in these times of trouble, not even for his mother."
"But I know the right messenger," said Maria. "We'll send Junker Georg."
"That's a good suggestion," said Peter. "We shall find him in his lodgings. I must go to Van Hout, who lives close by, and will send the German to you. But my time is limited, and with such gentlemen, fair women can accomplish more than bearded men. Farewell, dear Fraulein, once more--we rejoice to have you for our guest."
When the burgomaster had left the room, Henrica said:
"How quickly, and how differently from what I expected, all this has happened. I love you. I am under obligations to you, but to be imprisoned, imprisoned. The walls will press upon me, the ceiling will seem like a weight. I don't know whether I ought to rejoice or despair. You have great influence with the Junker. Tell him about Anna, touch his heart, and if he would go, it would really be best for us both."
"You mean for you and your sister," replied Maria with a repellent gesture of the hand. "There is the lamp. When the Junker comes, we shall see each other again."
Maria went to her room and threw herself on the couch, but soon rose and paced restlessly to and fro. Then stretching out her clasped hands, she exclaimed:
"Oh, if he would only go, if he would only go! Merciful God! Kind, gracious Father in Heaven, grant him every happiness, every blessing, but save my peace of mind; let him go, and lead him far, far away from here."
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.