It was about midnight when poor Van Baerle was locked up in the prison of th_uytenhof.
What Rosa foresaw had come to pass. On finding the cell of Cornelius de Wit_mpty, the wrath of the people ran very high, and had Gryphus fallen into th_ands of those madmen he would certainly have had to pay with his life for th_risoner.
But this fury had vented itself most fully on the two brothers when they wer_vertaken by the murderers, thanks to the precaution which William — the ma_f precautions — had taken in having the gates of the city closed.
A momentary lull had therefore set in whilst the prison was empty, and Ros_vailed herself of this favourable moment to come forth from her hiding place, which she also induced her father to leave.
The prison was therefore completely deserted. Why should people remain in th_ail whilst murder was going on at the Tol-Hek?
Gryphus came forth trembling behind the courageous Rosa. They went to clos_he great gate, at least as well as it would close, considering that it wa_alf demolished. It was easy to see that a hurricane of mighty fury had vente_tself upon it.
About four o'clock a return of the noise was heard, but of no threatenin_haracter to Gryphus and his daughter. The people were only dragging in th_wo corpses, which they came back to gibbet at the usual place of execution.
Rosa hid herself this time also, but only that she might not see the ghastl_pectacle.
At midnight, people again knocked at the gate of the jail, or rather at th_arricade which served in its stead: it was Cornelius van Baerle whom the_ere bringing.
When the jailer received this new inmate, and saw from the warrant the nam_nd station of his prisoner, he muttered with his turnkey smile, —
"Godson of Cornelius de Witt! Well, young man, we have the family cell here, and we will give it to you."
And quite enchanted with his joke, the ferocious Orangeman took his cresse_nd his keys to conduct Cornelius to the cell, which on that very mornin_ornelius de Witt had left to go into exile, or what in revolutionary times i_eant instead by those sublime philosophers who lay it down as an axiom o_igh policy, "It is the dead only who do not return."
On the way which the despairing florist had to traverse to reach that cell h_eard nothing but the barking of a dog, and saw nothing but the face of _oung girl.
The dog rushed forth from a niche in the wall, shaking his heavy chain, an_niffing all round Cornelius in order so much the better to recognise him i_ase he should be ordered to pounce upon him.
The young girl, whilst the prisoner was mounting the staircase, appeared a_he narrow door of her chamber, which opened on that very flight of steps; and, holding the lamp in her right hand, she at the same time lit up he_retty blooming face, surrounded by a profusion of rich wavy golden locks, whilst with her left she held her white night-dress closely over her breast, having been roused from her first slumber by the unexpected arrival of Va_aerle.
It would have made a fine picture, worthy of Rembrandt, the gloomy windin_tairs illuminated by the reddish glare of the cresset of Gryphus, with hi_cowling jailer's countenance at the top, the melancholy figure of Corneliu_ending over the banister to look down upon the sweet face of Rosa, standing, as it were, in the bright frame of the door of her chamber, with embarrasse_ien at being thus seen by a stranger.
And at the bottom, quite in the shade, where the details are absorbed in th_bscurity, the mastiff, with his eyes glistening like carbuncles, and shakin_is chain, on which the double light from the lamp of Rosa and the lantern o_ryphus threw a brilliant glitter.
The sublime master would, however, have been altogether unable to render th_orrow expressed in the face of Rosa, when she saw this pale, handsome youn_an slowly climbing the stairs, and thought of the full import of the words, which her father had just spoken, "You will have the family cell."
This vision lasted but a moment, — much less time than we have taken t_escribe it. Gryphus then proceeded on his way, Cornelius was forced to follo_im, and five minutes afterwards he entered his prison, of which it i_nnecessary to say more, as the reader is already acquainted with it.
Gryphus pointed with his finger to the bed on which the martyr had suffered s_uch, who on that day had rendered his soul to God. Then, taking up hi_resset, he quitted the cell.
Thus left alone, Cornelius threw himself on his bed, but he slept not, he kep_is eye fixed on the narrow window, barred with iron, which looked on th_uytenhof; and in this way saw from behind the trees that first pale beam o_ight which morning sheds on the earth as a white mantle.
Now and then during the night horses had galloped at a smart pace over th_uytenhof, the heavy tramp of the patrols had resounded from the pavement, an_he slow matches of the arquebuses, flaring in the east wind, had thrown up a_ntervals a sudden glare as far as to the panes of his window.
But when the rising sun began to gild the coping stones at the gable ends o_he houses, Cornelius, eager to know whether there was any living creatur_bout him, approached the window, and cast a sad look round the circular yar_efore him
At the end of the yard a dark mass, tinted with a dingy blue by the mornin_awn, rose before him, its dark outlines standing out in contrast to th_ouses already illuminated by the pale light of early morning.
Cornelius recognised the gibbet.
On it were suspended two shapeless trunks, which indeed were no more tha_leeding skeletons.
The good people of the Hague had chopped off the flesh of its victims, bu_aithfully carried the remainder to the gibbet, to have a pretext for a doubl_nscription written on a huge placard, on which Cornelius; with the keen sigh_f a young man of twenty-eight, was able to read the following lines, daube_y the coarse brush of a sign-painter: —
"Here are hanging the great rogue of the name of John de Witt, and the littl_ogue Cornelius de Witt, his brother, two enemies of the people, but grea_riends of the king of France."
Cornelius uttered a cry of horror, and in the agony of his frantic terro_nocked with his hands and feet at the door so violently and continuously, that Gryphus, with his huge bunch of keys in his hand, ran furiously up.
The jailer opened the door, with terrible imprecations against the prisone_ho disturbed him at an hour which Master Gryphus was not accustomed to b_roused.
"Well, now, by my soul, he is mad, this new De Witt," he cried, "but all thos_e Witts have the devil in them."
"Master, master," cried Cornelius, seizing the jailer by the arm and draggin_im towards the window, — "master, what have I read down there?"
"Where down there?"
"On that placard."
And, trembling, pale, and gasping for breath, he pointed to the gibbet at th_ther side of the yard, with the cynical inscription surmounting it.
Gryphus broke out into a laugh.
"Eh! eh!" he answered, "so, you have read it. Well, my good sir, that's wha_eople will get for corresponding with the enemies of his Highness the Princ_f Orange."
"The brothers De Witt are murdered!" Cornelius muttered, with the cold swea_n his brow, and sank on his bed, his arms hanging by his side, and his eye_losed.
"The brothers De Witt have been judged by the people," said Gryphus; "you cal_hat murdered, do you? well, I call it executed."
And seeing that the prisoner was not only quiet, but entirely prostrate an_enseless, he rushed from the cell, violently slamming the door, and noisil_rawing the bolts.
Recovering his consciousness, Cornelius found himself alone, and recognise_he room where he was, — "the family cell," as Gryphus had called it, — as th_atal passage leading to ignominious death.
And as he was a philosopher, and, more than that, as he was a Christian, h_egan to pray for the soul of his godfather, then for that of the Gran_ensionary, and at last submitted with resignation to all the sufferings whic_od might ordain for him.
Then turning again to the concerns of earth, and having satisfied himself tha_e was alone in his dungeon, he drew from his breast the three bulbs of th_lack tulip, and concealed them behind a block of stone, on which th_raditional water-jug of the prison was standing, in the darkest corner of hi_ell.
Useless labour of so many years! such sweet hopes crushed; his discovery was, after all, to lead to naught, just as his own career was to be cut short.
Here, in his prison, there was not a trace of vegetation, not an atom of soil, not a ray of sunshine.
At this thought Cornelius fell into a gloomy despair, from which he was onl_roused by an extraordinary circumstance.