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Chapter 15 The Little Grated Window

  • Gryphus was followed by the mastiff.
  • The turnkey took the animal round the jail, so that, if needs be, he migh_ecognize the prisoners.
  • "Father," said Rosa, "here is the famous prison from which Mynheer Grotiu_scaped. You know Mynheer Grotius?"
  • "Oh, yes, that rogue Grotius, a friend of that villain Barneveldt, whom I sa_xecuted when I was a child. Ah! so Grotius; and that's the chamber from whic_e escaped. Well, I'll answer for it that no one shall escape after him in m_ime."
  • And thus opening the door, he began in the dark to talk to the prisoner.
  • The dog, on his part, went up to the prisoner, and, growling, smelled abou_is legs just as though to ask him what right he had still to be alive, afte_aving left the prison in the company of the Recorder and the executioner.
  • But the fair Rosa called him to her side.
  • "Well, my master," said Gryphus, holding up his lantern to throw a littl_ight around, "you see in me your new jailer. I am head turnkey, and have al_he cells under my care. I am not vicious, but I'm not to be trifled with, a_ar as discipline goes."
  • "My good Master Gryphus, I know you perfectly well," said the prisoner, approaching within the circle of light cast around by the lantern.
  • "Halloa! that's you, Mynheer van Baerle," said Gryphus. "That's you; well, _eclare, it's astonishing how people do meet."
  • "Oh, yes; and it's really a great pleasure to me, good Master Gryphus, to se_hat your arm is doing well, as you are able to hold your lantern with it."
  • Gryphus knitted his brow. "Now, that's just it," he said, "people always mak_lunders in politics. His Highness has granted you your life; I'm sure _hould never have done so."
  • "Don't say so," replied Cornelius; "why not?"
  • "Because you are the very man to conspire again. You learned people hav_ealings with the devil."
  • "Nonsense, Master Gryphus. Are you dissatisfied with the manner in which _ave set your arm, or with the price that I asked you?" said Cornelius, laughing.
  • "On the contrary," growled the jailer, "you have set it only too well. Ther_s some witchcraft in this. After six weeks, I was able to use it as i_othing had happened, so much so, that the doctor of the Buytenhof, who know_is trade well, wanted to break it again, to set it in the regular way, an_romised me that I should have my blessed three months for my money before _hould be able to move it."
  • "And you did not want that?"
  • "I said, 'Nay, as long as I can make the sign of the cross with that arm'
  • (Gryphus was a Roman Catholic), 'I laugh at the devil.'"
  • "But if you laugh at the devil, Master Gryphus, you ought with so much mor_eason to laugh at learned people."
  • "Ah, learned people, learned people! Why, I would rather have to guard te_oldiers than one scholar. The soldiers smoke, guzzle, and get drunk; they ar_entle as lambs if you only give them brandy or Moselle, but scholars, an_rink, smoke, and fuddle — ah, yes, that's altogether different. They kee_ober, spend nothing, and have their heads always clear to make conspiracies.
  • But I tell you, at the very outset, it won't be such an easy matter for you t_onspire. First of all, you will have no books, no paper, and no conjurin_ook. It's books that helped Mynheer Grotius to get off."
  • "I assure you, Master Gryphus," replied Van Baerle, "that if I hav_ntertained the idea of escaping, I most decidedly have it no longer."
  • "Well, well," said Gryphus, "just look sharp: that's what I shall do also.
  • But, for all that, I say his Highness has made a great mistake."
  • "Not to have cut off my head? thank you, Master Gryphus."
  • "Just so, look whether the Mynheer de Witt don't keep very quiet now."
  • "That's very shocking what you say now, Master Gryphus," cried Van Baerle, turning away his head to conceal his disgust. "You forget that one of thos_nfortunate gentlemen was my friend, and the other my second father."
  • "Yes, but I also remember that the one, as well as the other, was _onspirator. And, moreover, I am speaking from Christian charity."
  • "Oh, indeed! explain that a little to me, my good Master Gryphus. I do no_uite understand it."
  • "Well, then, if you had remained on the block of Master Harbruck —— "
  • "What?"
  • "You would not suffer any longer; whereas, I will not disguise it from you, _hall lead you a sad life of it."
  • "Thank you for the promise, Master Gryphus."
  • And whilst the prisoner smiled ironically at the old jailer, Rosa, from th_utside, answered by a bright smile, which carried sweet consolation to th_eart of Van Baerle.
  • Gryphus stepped towards the window.
  • It was still light enough to see, although indistinctly, through the gray haz_f the evening, the vast expanse of the horizon.
  • "What view has one from here?" asked Gryphus.
  • "Why, a very fine and pleasant one," said Cornelius, looking at Rosa.
  • "Yes, yes, too much of a view, too much."
  • And at this moment the two pigeons, scared by the sight and especially by th_oice of the stranger, left their nest, and disappeared, quite frightened i_he evening mist.
  • "Halloa! what's this?" cried Gryphus.
  • "My pigeons," answered Cornelius.
  • "Your pigeons," cried the jailer, "your pigeons! has a prisoner anything o_is own?"
  • "Why, then," said Cornelius, "the pigeons which a merciful Father in Heave_as lent to me."
  • "So, here we have a breach of the rules already," replied Gryphus. "Pigeons!
  • ah, young man, young man! I'll tell you one thing, that before to-morrow i_ver, your pigeons will boil in my pot."
  • "First of all you should catch them, Master Gryphus. You won't allow thes_igeons to be mine! Well, I vow they are even less yours than mine."
  • "Omittance is no acquittance," growled the jailer, "and I shall certainl_ring their necks before twenty-four hours are over: you may be sure of that."
  • Whilst giving utterance to this ill-natured promise, Gryphus put his head ou_f the window to examine the nest. This gave Van Baerle time to run to th_oor, and squeeze the hand of Rosa, who whispered to him, —
  • "At nine o'clock this evening."
  • Gryphus, quite taken up with the desire of catching the pigeons next day, a_e had promised he would do, saw and heard nothing of this short interlude; and, after having closed the window, he took the arm of his daughter, left th_ell, turned the key twice, drew the bolts, and went off to make the same kin_romise to the other prisoners.
  • He had scarcely withdrawn, when Cornelius went to the door to listen to th_ound of his footsteps, and, as soon as they had died away, he ran to th_indow, and completely demolished the nest of the pigeons.
  • Rather than expose them to the tender mercies of his bullying jailer, he drov_way for ever those gentle messengers to whom he owed the happiness of havin_een Rosa again.
  • This visit of the jailer, his brutal threats, and the gloomy prospect of th_arshness with which, as he had before experienced, Gryphus watched hi_risoners, — all this was unable to extinguish in Cornelius the swee_houghts, and especially the sweet hope, which the presence of Rosa ha_eawakened in his heart.
  • He waited eagerly to hear the clock of the tower of Loewestein strike nine.
  • The last chime was still vibrating through the air, when Cornelius heard o_he staircase the light step and the rustle of the flowing dress of the fai_risian maid, and soon after a light appeared at the little grated window i_he door, on which the prisoner fixed his earnest gaze.
  • The shutter opened on the outside.
  • "Here I am," said Rosa, out of breath from running up the stairs, "here I am."
  • "Oh, my good Rosa."
  • "You are then glad to see me?"
  • "Can you ask? But how did you contrive to get here? tell me."
  • "Now listen to me. My father falls asleep every evening almost immediatel_fter his supper; I then make him lie down, a little stupefied with his gin.
  • Don't say anything about it, because, thanks to this nap, I shall be able t_ome every evening and chat for an hour with you."
  • "Oh, I thank you, Rosa, dear Rosa."
  • Saying these words, Cornelius put his face so near the little window that Ros_ithdrew hers.
  • "I have brought back to you your bulbs."
  • Cornelius's heart leaped with joy. He had not yet dared to ask Rosa what sh_ad done with the precious treasure which he had intrusted to her.
  • "Oh, you have preserved them, then?"
  • "Did you not give them to me as a thing which was dear to you?"
  • "Yes, but as I have given them to you, it seems to me that they belong t_ou."
  • "They would have belonged to me after your death, but, fortunately, you ar_live now. Oh how I blessed his Highness in my heart! If God grants to him al_he happiness that I have wished him, certainly Prince William will be th_appiest man on earth. When I looked at the Bible of your godfather Cornelius, I was resolved to bring back to you your bulbs, only I did not know how t_ccomplish it. I had, however, already formed the plan of going to th_tadtholder, to ask from him for my father the appointment of jailer o_oewestein, when your housekeeper brought me your letter. Oh, how we wep_ogether! But your letter only confirmed me the more in my resolution. I the_eft for Leyden, and the rest you know."
  • "What, my dear Rosa, you thought, even before receiving my letter, of comin_o meet me again?"
  • "If I thought of it," said Rosa, allowing her love to get the better of he_ashfulness, "I thought of nothing else."
  • And, saying these words, Rosa looked so exceedingly pretty, that for th_econd time Cornelius placed his forehead and lips against the wire grating; of course, we must presume with the laudable desire to thank the young lady.
  • Rosa, however, drew back as before.
  • "In truth," she said, with that coquetry which somehow or other is in th_eart of every young girl, "I have often been sorry that I am not able t_ead, but never so much so as when your housekeeper brought me your letter. _ept the paper in my hands, which spoke to other people, and which was dumb t_oor stupid me."
  • "So you have often regretted not being able to read," said Cornelius. "_hould just like to know on what occasions."
  • "Troth," she said, laughing, "to read all the letters which were written t_e."
  • "Oh, you received letters, Rosa?"
  • "By hundreds."
  • "But who wrote to you?"
  • "Who! why, in the first place, all the students who passed over the Buytenhof, all the officers who went to parade, all the clerks, and even the merchant_ho saw me at my little window."
  • "And what did you do with all these notes, my dear Rosa?"
  • "Formerly," she answered, "I got some friend to read them to me, which wa_apital fun, but since a certain time — well, what use is it to attend to al_his nonsense? — since a certain time I have burnt them."
  • "Since a certain time!" exclaimed Cornelius, with a look beaming with love an_oy.
  • Rosa cast down her eyes, blushing. In her sweet confusion, she did not observ_he lips of Cornelius, which, alas! only met the cold wire-grating. Yet, i_pite of this obstacle, they communicated to the lips of the young girl th_lowing breath of the most tender kiss.
  • At this sudden outburst of tenderness, Rosa grew very pale, — perhaps pale_han she had been on the day of the execution. She uttered a plaintive sob, closed her fine eyes, and fled, trying in vain to still the beating of he_eart.
  • And thus Cornelius was again alone.
  • Rosa had fled so precipitately, that she completely forgot to return t_ornelius the three bulbs of the Black Tulip.