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Chapter 10 The Jailer's Daughter

  • On the same evening Gryphus, as he brought the prisoner his mess, slipped o_he damp flags whilst opening the door of the cell, and fell, in the attemp_o steady himself, on his hand; but as it was turned the wrong way, he brok_is arm just above the wrist.
  • Cornelius rushed forward towards the jailer, but Gryphus, who was not ye_ware of the serious nature of his injury, called out to him, —
  • "It is nothing: don't you stir."
  • He then tried to support himself on his arm, but the bone gave way; then onl_e felt the pain, and uttered a cry.
  • When he became aware that his arm was broken, this man, so harsh to others, fell swooning on the threshold, where he remained motionless and cold, as i_ead.
  • During all this time the door of the cell stood open and Cornelius foun_imself almost free. But the thought never entered his mind of profiting b_his accident; he had seen from the manner in which the arm was bent, and fro_he noise it made in bending, that the bone was fractured, and that th_atient must be in great pain; and now he thought of nothing else but o_dministering relief to the sufferer, however little benevolent the man ha_hown himself during their short interview.
  • At the noise of Gryphus's fall, and at the cry which escaped him, a hasty ste_as heard on the staircase, and immediately after a lovely apparitio_resented itself to the eyes of Cornelius.
  • It was the beautiful young Frisian, who, seeing her father stretched on th_round, and the prisoner bending over him, uttered a faint cry, as in th_irst fright she thought Gryphus, whose brutality she well knew, had fallen i_onsequence of a struggle between him and the prisoner.
  • Cornelius understood what was passing in the mind of the girl, at the ver_oment when the suspicion arose in her heart.
  • But one moment told her the true state of the case and, ashamed of her firs_houghts, she cast her beautiful eyes, wet with tears, on the young man, an_aid to him, —
  • "I beg your pardon, and thank you, sir; the first for what I have thought, an_he second for what you are doing."
  • Cornelius blushed, and said, "I am but doing my duty as a Christian in helpin_y neighbour."
  • "Yes, and affording him your help this evening, you have forgotten the abus_hich he heaped on you this morning. Oh, sir! this is more than humanity, — this is indeed Christian charity."
  • Cornelius cast his eyes on the beautiful girl, quite astonished to hear fro_he mouth of one so humble such a noble and feeling speech.
  • But he had no time to express his surprise. Gryphus recovered from his swoon, opened his eyes, and as his brutality was returning with his senses, h_rowled "That's it, a fellow is in a hurry to bring to a prisoner his supper, and falls and breaks his arm, and is left lying on the ground."
  • "Hush, my father," said Rosa, "you are unjust to this gentleman, whom I foun_ndeavouring to give you his aid."
  • "His aid?" Gryphus replied, with a doubtful air.
  • "It is quite true, master! I am quite ready to help you still more."
  • "You!" said Gryphus, "are you a medical man?"
  • "It was formerly my profession."
  • "And so you would be able to set my arm?"
  • "Perfectly."
  • "And what would you need to do it? let us hear."
  • "Two splinters of wood, and some linen for a bandage."
  • "Do you hear, Rosa?" said Gryphus, "the prisoner is going to set my arm, that's a saving; come, assist me to get up, I feel as heavy as lead."
  • Rosa lent the sufferer her shoulder; he put his unhurt arm around her neck, and making an effort, got on his legs, whilst Cornelius, to save him a walk, pushed a chair towards him.
  • Gryphus sat down; then, turning towards his daughter, he said, —
  • "Well, didn't you hear? go and fetch what is wanted."
  • Rosa went down, and immediately after returned with two staves of a smal_arrel and a large roll of linen bandage.
  • Cornelius had made use of the intervening moments to take off the man's coat, and to tuck up his shirt sleeve.
  • "Is this what you require, sir?" asked Rosa.
  • "Yes, mademoiselle," answered Cornelius, looking at the things she ha_rought, — "yes, that's right. Now push this table, whilst I support the ar_f your father."
  • Rosa pushed the table, Cornelius placed the broken arm on it so as to make i_lat, and with perfect skill set the bone, adjusted the splinters, an_astened the bandages.
  • At the last touch, the jailer fainted a second time.
  • "Go and fetch vinegar, mademoiselle," said Cornelius; "we will bathe hi_emples, and he will recover."
  • But, instead of acting up to the doctor's prescription, Rosa, after havin_atisfied herself that her father was still unconscious, approached Corneliu_nd said, —
  • "Service for service, sir."
  • "What do you mean, my pretty child?" said Cornelius.
  • "I mean to say, sir, that the judge who is to examine you to-morrow ha_nquired to-day for the room in which you are confined, and, on being tol_hat you are occupying the cell of Mynheer Cornelius de Witt, laughed in _ery strange and very disagreeable manner, which makes me fear that no goo_waits you."
  • "But," asked Cornelius, "what harm can they do to me?"
  • "Look at that gibbet."
  • "But I am not guilty," said Cornelius.
  • "Were they guilty whom you see down there gibbeted, mangled, and torn t_ieces?"
  • "That's true," said Cornelius, gravely.
  • "And besides," continued Rosa, "the people want to find you guilty. Bu_hether innocent or guilty, your trial begins to-morrow, and the day after yo_ill be condemned. Matters are settled very quickly in these times."
  • "Well, and what do you conclude from all this?"
  • "I conclude that I am alone, that I am weak, that my father is lying in _woon, that the dog is muzzled, and that consequently there is nothing t_revent your making your escape. Fly, then; that's what I mean."
  • "What do you say?"
  • "I say that I was not able to save Mynheer Cornelius or Mynheer John de Witt, and that I should like to save you. Only be quick; there, my father i_egaining his breath, one minute more, and he will open his eyes, and it wil_e too late. Do you hesitate?"
  • In fact, Cornelius stood immovable, looking at Rosa, yet looking at her as i_e did not hear her.
  • "Don't you understand me?" said the young girl, with some impatience.
  • "Yes, I do," said Cornelius, "but —— "
  • "But?"
  • "I will not, they would accuse you."
  • "Never mind," said Rosa, blushing, "never mind that."
  • "You are very good, my dear child," replied Cornelius, "but I stay."
  • "You stay, oh, sir! oh, sir! don't you understand that you will be condemne_o death, executed on the scaffold, perhaps assassinated and torn to pieces, just like Mynheer John and Mynheer Cornelius. For heaven's sake, don't thin_f me, but fly from this place, Take care, it bears ill luck to the De Witts!"
  • "Halloa!" cried the jailer, recovering his senses, "who is talking of thos_ogues, those wretches, those villains, the De Witts?"
  • "Don't be angry, my good man," said Cornelius, with his good-tempered smile,
  • "the worst thing for a fracture is excitement, by which the blood is heated."
  • Thereupon, he said in an undertone to Rosa —
  • "My child, I am innocent, and I shall await my trial with tranquillity and a_asy mind."
  • "Hush," said Rosa.
  • "Why hush?"
  • "My father must not suppose that we have been talking to each other."
  • "What harm would that do?"
  • "What harm? He would never allow me to come here any more," said Rosa.
  • Cornelius received this innocent confidence with a smile; he felt as if a ra_f good fortune were shining on his path.
  • "Now, then, what are you chattering there together about?" said Gryphus, rising and supporting his right arm with his left.
  • "Nothing," said Rosa; "the doctor is explaining to me what diet you are t_eep."
  • "Diet, diet for me? Well, my fine girl, I shall put you on diet too."
  • "On what diet, my father?"
  • "Never to go to the cells of the prisoners, and, if ever you should happen t_o, to leave them as soon as possible. Come, off with me, lead the way, and b_uick."
  • Rosa and Cornelius exchanged glances.
  • That of Rosa tried to express, —
  • "There, you see?"
  • That of Cornelius said, —
  • "Let it be as the Lord wills."