Part 4 out of 6
"Take care, sir, take care," said Cornelius, growing quite
"Care of what? Zounds! of what?" roared the jailer.
"Take care, I say, you will crush it, Master Gryphus."
And with a rapid and almost frantic movement he snatched the
jug from the hands of Gryphus, and hid it like a treasure
under his arms.
But Gryphus, obstinate, like an old man, and more and more
convinced that he was discovering here a conspiracy against
the Prince of Orange, rushed up to his prisoner, raising his
stick; seeing, however, the impassible resolution of the
captive to protect his flower-pot he was convinced that
Cornelius trembled much less for his head than for his jug.
He therefore tried to wrest it from him by force.
"Halloa!" said the jailer, furious, "here, you see, you are
"Leave me my tulip," cried Van Baerle.
"Ah, yes, tulip," replied the old man, "we know well the
shifts of prisoners."
"But I vow to you ---- "
"Let go," repeated Gryphus, stamping his foot, "let go, or I
shall call the guard."
"Call whoever you like, but you shall not have this flower
except with my life."
Gryphus, exasperated, plunged his finger a second time into
the soil, and now he drew out the bulb, which certainly
looked quite black; and whilst Van Baerle, quite happy to
have saved the vessel, did not suspect that the adversary
had possessed himself of its precious contents, Gryphus
hurled the softened bulb with all his force on the flags,
where almost immediately after it was crushed to atoms under
his heavy shoe.
Van Baerle saw the work of destruction, got a glimpse of the
juicy remains of his darling bulb, and, guessing the cause
of the ferocious joy of Gryphus, uttered a cry of agony,
which would have melted the heart even of that ruthless
jailer who some years before killed Pelisson's spider.
The idea of striking down this spiteful bully passed like
lightning through the brain of the tulip-fancier. The blood
rushed to his brow, and seemed like fire in his eyes, which
blinded him, and he raised in his two hands the heavy jug
with all the now useless earth which remained in it. One
instant more, and he would have flung it on the bald head of
But a cry stopped him; a cry of agony, uttered by poor Rosa,
who, trembling and pale, with her arms raised to heaven,
made her appearance behind the grated window, and thus
interposed between her father and her friend.
Gryphus then understood the danger with which he had been
threatened, and he broke out in a volley of the most
"Indeed," said Cornelius to him, "you must be a very mean
and spiteful fellow to rob a poor prisoner of his only
consolation, a tulip bulb."
"For shame, my father," Rosa chimed in, "it is indeed a
crime you have committed here."
"Ah, is that you, my little chatter-box?" the old man cried,
boiling with rage and turning towards her; "don't you meddle
with what don't concern you, but go down as quickly as
"Unfortunate me," continued Cornelius, overwhelmed with
"After all, it is but a tulip," Gryphus resumed, as he began
to be a little ashamed of himself. "You may have as many
tulips as you like: I have three hundred of them in my
"To the devil with your tulips!" cried Cornelius; "you are
worthy of each other: had I a hundred thousand millions of
them, I would gladly give them for the one which you have
"Oh, so!" Gryphus said, in a tone of triumph; "now there we
have it. It was not your tulip you cared for. There was in
that false bulb some witchcraft, perhaps some means of
correspondence with conspirators against his Highness who
has granted you your life. I always said they were wrong in
not cutting your head off."
"Father, father!" cried Rosa.
"Yes, yes! it is better as it is now," repeated Gryphus,
growing warm; "I have destroyed it, and I'll do the same
again, as often as you repeat the trick. Didn't I tell you,
my fine fellow, that I would make your life a hard one?"
"A curse on you!" Cornelius exclaimed, quite beyond himself
with despair, as he gathered, with his trembling fingers,
the remnants of that bulb on which he had rested so many
joys and so many hopes.
"We shall plant the other to-morrow, my dear Mynheer
Cornelius," said Rosa, in a low voice, who understood the
intense grief of the unfortunate tulip-fancier, and who,
with the pure sacred love of her innocent heart, poured
these kind words, like a drop of balm, on the bleeding
wounds of Cornelius.
Rosa had scarcely pronounced these consolatory words when a
voice was heard from the staircase asking Gryphus how
matters were going on.
"Do you hear, father?" said Rosa.
"Master Jacob calls you, he is uneasy."
"There was such a noise," said Gryphus; "wouldn't you have
thought he would murder me, this doctor? They are always
very troublesome fellows, these scholars."
Then, pointing with his finger towards the staircase, he
said to Rosa: "Just lead the way, Miss."
After this he locked the door and called out: "I shall be
with you directly, friend Jacob."
Poor Cornelius, thus left alone with his bitter grief,
muttered to himself, --
"Ah, you old hangman! it is me you have trodden under foot;
you have murdered me; I shall not survive it."
And certainly the unfortunate prisoner would have fallen ill
but for the counterpoise which Providence had granted to his
grief, and which was called Rosa.
In the evening she came back. Her first words announced to
Cornelius that henceforth her father would make no objection
to his cultivating flowers.
"And how do you know that?" the prisoner asked, with a
"I know it because he has said so."
"To deceive me, perhaps."
"No, he repents."
"Ah yes! but too late."
"This repentance is not of himself."
"And who put it into him?"
"If you only knew how his friend scolded him!"
"Ah, Master Jacob; he does not leave you, then, that Master
"At any rate, he leaves us as little as he can help."
Saying this, she smiled in such a way that the little cloud
of jealousy which had darkened the brow of Cornelius
"How was it?" asked the prisoner.
"Well, being asked by his friend, my father told at supper
the whole story of the tulip, or rather of the bulb, and of
his own fine exploit of crushing it."
Cornelius heaved a sigh, which might have been called a
"Had you only seen Master Jacob at that moment!" continued
Rosa. "I really thought he would set fire to the castle; his
eyes were like two flaming torches, his hair stood on end,
and he clinched his fist for a moment; I thought he would
have strangled my father."
"'You have done that,' he cried, 'you have crushed the
"'Indeed I have.'
"'It is infamous,' said Master Jacob, 'it is odious! You
have committed a great crime!'
"My father was quite dumbfounded.
"'Are you mad, too?' he asked his friend."
"Oh, what a worthy man is this Master Jacob!" muttered
Cornelius, -- "an honest soul, an excellent heart that he
"The truth is, that it is impossible to treat a man more
rudely than he did my father; he was really quite in
despair, repeating over and over again, --
"'Crushed, crushed the bulb! my God, my God! crushed!'
"Then, turning toward me, he asked, 'But it was not the only
one that he had?'"
"Did he ask that?" inquired Cornelius, with some anxiety.
"'You think it was not the only one?' said my father. 'Very
well, we shall search for the others.'
"'You will search for the others?' cried Jacob, taking my
father by the collar; but he immediately loosed him. Then,
turning towards me, he continued, asking 'And what did that
poor young man say?'
"I did not know what to answer, as you had so strictly
enjoined me never to allow any one to guess the interest
which you are taking in the bulb. Fortunately, my father
saved me from the difficulty by chiming in, --
"'What did he say? Didn't he fume and fret?'
"I interrupted him, saying, 'Was it not natural that be
should be furious, you were so unjust and brutal, father?'
"'Well, now, are you mad?' cried my father; 'what immense
misfortune is it to crush a tulip bulb? You may buy a
hundred of them in the market of Gorcum.'
"'Perhaps some less precious one than that was!' I quite
"And what did Jacob say or do at these words?" asked
"At these words, if I must say it, his eyes seemed to flash
"But," said Cornelius, "that was not all; I am sure he said
something in his turn."
"'So, then, my pretty Rosa,' he said, with a voice as sweet
a honey, -- 'so you think that bulb to have been a precious
"I saw that I had made a blunder.
"'What do I know?' I said, negligently; 'do I understand
anything of tulips? I only know -- as unfortunately it is
our lot to live with prisoners -- that for them any pastime
is of value. This poor Mynheer van Baerle amused himself
with this bulb. Well, I think it very cruel to take from him
the only thing that he could have amused himself with.'
"'But, first of all,' said my father, 'we ought to know how
he has contrived to procure this bulb.'
"I turned my eyes away to avoid my father's look; but I met
those of Jacob.
"It was as if he had tried to read my thoughts at the bottom
of my heart.
"Some little show of anger sometimes saves an answer. I
shrugged my shoulders, turned my back, and advanced towards
"But I was kept by something which I heard, although it was
uttered in a very low voice only.
"Jacob said to my father, --
"'It would not be so difficult to ascertain that.'
"'You need only search his person: and if he has the other
bulbs, we shall find them, as there usually are three
"Three suckers!" cried Cornelius. "Did you say that I have
"The word certainly struck me just as much as it does you. I
turned round. They were both of them so deeply engaged in
their conversation that they did not observe my movement.
"'But,' said my father, 'perhaps he has not got his bulbs
"'Then take him down, under some pretext or other and I will
search his cell in the meanwhile.'"
"Halloa, halloa!" said Cornelius. "But this Mr. Jacob of
yours is a villain, it seems."
"I am afraid he is."
"Tell me, Rosa," continued Cornelius, with a pensive air.
"Did you not tell me that on the day when you prepared your
borders this man followed you?"
"So he did."
"That he glided like a shadow behind the elder trees?"
"That not one of your movements escaped him?"
"Not one, indeed."
"Rosa," said Cornelius, growing quite pale.
"It was not you he was after."
"Who else, then?"
"It is not you that he was in love with!"
"But with whom else?"
"He was after my bulb, and is in love with my tulip!"
"You don't say so! And yet it is very possible," said Rosa.
"Will you make sure of it?"
"In what manner?"
"Oh, it would be very easy!"
"Go to-morrow into the garden; manage matters so that Jacob
may know, as he did the first time, that you are going
there, and that he may follow you. Feign to put the bulb
into the ground; leave the garden, but look through the
keyhole of the door and watch him."
"Well, and what then?"
"What then? We shall do as he does."
"Oh!" said Rosa, with a sigh, "you are very fond of your
"To tell the truth," said the prisoner, sighing likewise,
"since your father crushed that unfortunate bulb, I feel as
if part of my own self had been paralyzed."
"Now just hear me," said Rosa; "will you try something
"Will you accept the proposition of my father?"
"Did not he offer to you tulip bulbs by hundreds?"
"Indeed he did."
"Accept two or three, and, along with them, you may grow the
"Yes, that would do very well," said Cornelius, knitting his
brow; "if your father were alone, but there is that Master
Jacob, who watches all our ways."
"Well, that is true; but only think! you are depriving
yourself, as I can easily see, of a very great pleasure."
She pronounced these words with a smile, which was not
altogether without a tinge of irony.
Cornelius reflected for a moment; he evidently was
struggling against some vehement desire.
"No!" he cried at last, with the stoicism of a Roman of old,
"it would be a weakness, it would be a folly, it would be a
meanness! If I thus give up the only and last resource which
we possess to the uncertain chances of the bad passions of
anger and envy, I should never deserve to be forgiven. No,
Rosa, no; to-morrow we shall come to a conclusion as to the
spot to be chosen for your tulip; you will plant it
according to my instructions; and as to the third sucker,"
-- Cornelius here heaved a deep sigh, -- "watch over it as a
miser over his first or last piece of gold; as the mother
over her child; as the wounded over the last drop of blood
in his veins; watch over it, Rosa! Some voice within me
tells me that it will be our saving, that it will be a
source of good to us."
"Be easy, Mynheer Cornelius," said Rosa, with a sweet
mixture of melancholy and gravity, "be easy; your wishes are
commands to me."
"And even," continued Van Baerle, warming more and more with
his subject, "if you should perceive that your steps are
watched, and that your speech has excited the suspicion of
your father and of that detestable Master Jacob, -- well,
Rosa, don't hesitate for one moment to sacrifice me, who am
only still living through you, -- me, who have no one in the
world but you; sacrifice me, -- don't come to see me any
Rosa felt her heart sink within her, and her eyes were
filling with tears.
"Alas!" she said.
"What is it?" asked Cornelius.
"I see one thing."
"What do you see?"
"I see," said she, bursting out in sobs, "I see that you
love your tulips with such love as to have no more room in
your heart left for other affections."
Saying this, she fled.
Cornelius, after this, passed one of the worst nights he
ever had in his life.
Rosa was vexed with him, and with good reason. Perhaps she
would never return to see the prisoner, and then he would
have no more news, either of Rosa or of his tulips.
We have to confess, to the disgrace of our hero and of
floriculture, that of his two affections he felt most
strongly inclined to regret the loss of Rosa; and when, at
about three in the morning, he fell asleep overcome with
fatigue, and harassed with remorse, the grand black tulip
yielded precedence in his dreams to the sweet blue eyes of
the fair maid of Friesland.
The Maid and the Flower
But poor Rosa, in her secluded chamber, could not have known
of whom or of what Cornelius was dreaming.
From what he had said she was more ready to believe that he
dreamed of the black tulip than of her; and yet Rosa was
But as there was no one to tell her so, and as the words of
Cornelius's thoughtless speech had fallen upon her heart
like drops of poison, she did not dream, but she wept.
The fact was, that, as Rosa was a high-spirited creature, of
no mean perception and a noble heart, she took a very clear
and judicious view of her own social position, if not of her
moral and physical qualities.
Cornelius was a scholar, and was wealthy, -- at least he had
been before the confiscation of his property; Cornelius
belonged to the merchant-bourgeoisie, who were prouder of
their richly emblazoned shop signs than the hereditary
nobility of their heraldic bearings. Therefore, although he
might find Rosa a pleasant companion for the dreary hours of
his captivity, when it came to a question of bestowing his
heart it was almost certain that he would bestow it upon a
tulip, -- that is to say, upon the proudest and noblest of
flowers, rather than upon poor Rosa, the jailer's lowly
Thus Rosa understood Cornelius's preference of the tulip to
herself, but was only so much the more unhappy therefor.
During the whole of this terrible night the poor girl did
not close an eye, and before she rose in the morning she had
come to the resolution of making her appearance at the
grated window no more.
But as she knew with what ardent desire Cornelius looked
forward to the news about his tulip; and as, notwithstanding
her determination not to see any more a man her pity for
whose fate was fast growing into love, she did not, on the
other hand, wish to drive him to despair, she resolved to
continue by herself the reading and writing lessons; and,
fortunately, she had made sufficient progress to dispense
with the help of a master when the master was not to be
Rosa therefore applied herself most diligently to reading
poor Cornelius de Witt's Bible, on the second fly leaf of
which the last will of Cornelius van Baerle was written.
"Alas!" she muttered, when perusing again this document,
which she never finished without a tear, the pearl of love,
rolling from her limpid eyes on her pale cheeks -- "alas! at
that time I thought for one moment he loved me."
Poor Rosa! she was mistaken. Never had the love of the
prisoner been more sincere than at the time at which we are
now arrived, when in the contest between the black tulip and
Rosa the tulip had had to yield to her the first and
foremost place in Cornelius's heart.
But Rosa was not aware of it.
Having finished reading, she took her pen, and began with as
laudable diligence the by far more difficult task of
As, however, Rosa was already able to write a legible hand
when Cornelius so uncautiously opened his heart, she did not
despair of progressing quickly enough to write, after eight
days at the latest, to the prisoner an account of his tulip.
She had not forgotten one word of the directions given to
her by Cornelius, whose speeches she treasured in her heart,
even when they did not take the shape of directions.
He, on his part, awoke deeper in love than ever. The tulip,
indeed, was still a luminous and prominent object in his
mind; but he no longer looked upon it as a treasure to which
he ought to sacrifice everything, and even Rosa, but as a
marvellous combination of nature and art with which he would
have been happy to adorn the bosom of his beloved one.
Yet during the whole of that day he was haunted with a vague
uneasiness, at the bottom of which was the fear lest Rosa
should not come in the evening to pay him her usual visit.
This thought took more and more hold of him, until at the
approach of evening his whole mind was absorbed in it.
How his heart beat when darkness closed in! The words which
he had said to Rosa on the evening before and which had so
deeply afflicted her, now came back to his mind more vividly
than ever, and he asked himself how he could have told his
gentle comforter to sacrifice him to his tulip, -- that is
to say, to give up seeing him, if need be, -- whereas to him
the sight of Rosa had become a condition of life.
In Cornelius's cell one heard the chimes of the clock of the
fortress. It struck seven, it struck eight, it struck nine.
Never did the metal voice vibrate more forcibly through the
heart of any man than did the last stroke, marking the ninth
hour, through the heart of Cornelius.
All was then silent again. Cornelius put his hand on his
heart, to repress as it were its violent palpitation, and
The noise of her footstep, the rustling of her gown on the
staircase, were so familiar to his ear, that she had no
sooner mounted one step than he used to say to himself, --
"Here comes Rosa."
This evening none of those little noises broke the silence
of the lobby, the clock struck nine, and a quarter; the
half-hour, then a quarter to ten, and at last its deep tone
announced, not only to the inmates of the fortress, but also
to all the inhabitants of Loewestein, that it was ten.
This was the hour at which Rosa generally used to leave
Cornelius. The hour had struck, but Rosa had not come.
Thus then his foreboding had not deceived him; Rosa, being
vexed, shut herself up in her room and left him to himself.
"Alas!" he thought, "I have deserved all this. She will come
no more, and she is right in staying away; in her place I
should do just the same."
Yet notwithstanding all this, Cornelius listened, waited,
and hoped until midnight, then he threw himself upon the
bed, with his clothes on.
It was a long and sad night for him, and the day brought no
hope to the prisoner.
At eight in the morning, the door of his cell opened; but
Cornelius did not even turn his head; he had heard the heavy
step of Gryphus in the lobby, but this step had perfectly
satisfied the prisoner that his jailer was coming alone.
Thus Cornelius did not even look at Gryphus.
And yet he would have been so glad to draw him out, and to
inquire about Rosa. He even very nearly made this inquiry,
strange as it would needs have appeared to her father. To
tell the truth, there was in all this some selfish hope to
hear from Gryphus that his daughter was ill.
Except on extraordinary occasions, Rosa never came during
the day. Cornelius therefore did not really expect her as
long as the day lasted. Yet his sudden starts, his listening
at the door, his rapid glances at every little noise towards
the grated window, showed clearly that the prisoner
entertained some latent hope that Rosa would, somehow or
other, break her rule.
At the second visit of Gryphus, Cornelius, contrary to all
his former habits, asked the old jailer, with the most
winning voice, about her health; but Gryphus contented
himself with giving the laconical answer, --
At the third visit of the day, Cornelius changed his former
"I hope nobody is ill at Loewestein?"
"Nobody," replied, even more laconically, the jailer,
shutting the door before the nose of the prisoner.
Gryphus, being little used to this sort of civility on the
part of Cornelius, began to suspect that his prisoner was
about to try and bribe him.
Cornelius was now alone once more; it was seven o'clock in
the evening, and the anxiety of yesterday returned with
But another time the hours passed away without bringing the
sweet vision which lighted up, through the grated window,
the cell of poor Cornelius, and which, in retiring, left
light enough in his heart to last until it came back again.
Van Baerle passed the night in an agony of despair. On the
following day Gryphus appeared to him even more hideous,
brutal, and hateful than usual; in his mind, or rather in
his heart, there had been some hope that it was the old man
who prevented his daughter from coming.
In his wrath he would have strangled Gryphus, but would not
this have separated him for ever from Rosa?
The evening closing in, his despair changed into melancholy,
which was the more gloomy as, involuntarily, Van Baerle
mixed up with it the thought of his poor tulip. It was now
just that week in April which the most experienced gardeners
point out as the precise time when tulips ought to be
planted. He had said to Rosa, --
"I shall tell you the day when you are to put the bulb in
He had intended to fix, at the vainly hoped for interview,
the following day as the time for that momentous operation.
The weather was propitious; the air, though still damp,
began to be tempered by those pale rays of the April sun
which, being the first, appear so congenial, although so
pale. How if Rosa allowed the right moment for planting the
bulb to pass by, -- if, in addition to the grief of seeing
her no more, he should have to deplore the misfortune of
seeing his tulip fail on account of its having been planted
too late, or of its not having been planted at all!
These two vexations combined might well make him leave off
eating and drinking.
This was the case on the fourth day.
It was pitiful to see Cornelius, dumb with grief, and pale
from utter prostration, stretch out his head through the
iron bars of his window, at the risk of not being able to
draw it back again, to try and get a glimpse of the garden
on the left spoken of by Rosa, who had told him that its
parapet overlooked the river. He hoped that perhaps he might
see, in the light of the April sun, Rosa or the tulip, the
two lost objects of his love.
In the evening, Gryphus took away the breakfast and dinner
of Cornelius, who had scarcely touched them.
On the following day he did not touch them at all, and
Gryphus carried the dishes away just as he had brought them.
Cornelius had remained in bed the whole day.
"Well," said Gryphus, coming down from the last visit, "I
think we shall soon get rid of our scholar."
Rosa was startled.
"Nonsense!" said Jacob. "What do you mean?"
"He doesn't drink, he doesn't eat, he doesn't leave his bed.
He will get out of it, like Mynheer Grotius, in a chest,
only the chest will be a coffin."
Rosa grew pale as death.
"Ah!" she said to herself, "he is uneasy about his tulip."
And, rising with a heavy heart, she returned to her chamber,
where she took a pen and paper, and during the whole of that
night busied herself with tracing letters.
On the following morning, when Cornelius got up to drag
himself to the window, he perceived a paper which had been
slipped under the door.
He pounced upon it, opened it, and read the following words,
in a handwriting which he could scarcely have recognized as
that of Rosa, so much had she improved during her short
absence of seven days, --
"Be easy; your tulip is going on well."
Although these few words of Rosa's somewhat soothed the
grief of Cornelius, yet he felt not the less the irony which
was at the bottom of them. Rosa, then, was not ill, she was
offended; she had not been forcibly prevented from coming,
but had voluntarily stayed away. Thus Rosa, being at
liberty, found in her own will the force not to come and see
him, who was dying with grief at not having seen her.
Cornelius had paper and a pencil which Rosa had brought to
him. He guessed that she expected an answer, but that she
would not come before the evening to fetch it. He therefore
wrote on a piece of paper, similar to that which he had
"It was not my anxiety about the tulip that has made me ill,
but the grief at not seeing you."
After Gryphus had made his last visit of the day, and
darkness had set in, he slipped the paper under the door,
and listened with the most intense attention, but he neither
heard Rosa's footsteps nor the rustling of her gown.
He only heard a voice as feeble as a breath, and gentle like
a caress, which whispered through the grated little window
in the door the word, --
Now to-morrow was the eighth day. For eight days Cornelius
and Rosa had not seen each other.
The Events which took place during those Eight Days
On the following evening, at the usual hour, Van Baerle
heard some one scratch at the grated little window, just as
Rosa had been in the habit of doing in the heyday of their
Cornelius being, as may easily be imagined, not far off from
the door, perceived Rosa, who at last was waiting again for
him with her lamp in her hand.
Seeing him so sad and pale, she was startled, and said, --
"You are ill, Mynheer Cornelius?"
"Yes, I am," he answered, as indeed he was suffering in mind
and in body.
"I saw that you did not eat," said Rosa; "my father told me
that you remained in bed all day. I then wrote to calm your
uneasiness concerning the fate of the most precious object
of your anxiety."
"And I," said Cornelius, "I have answered. Seeing your
return, my dear Rosa, I thought you had received my letter."
"It is true; I have received it."
"You cannot this time excuse yourself with not being able to
read. Not only do you read very fluently, but also you have
made marvellous progress in writing."
"Indeed, I have not only received, but also read your note.
Accordingly I am come to see whether there might not be some
remedy to restore you to health."
"Restore me to health?" cried Cornelius; "but have you any
good news to communicate to me?"
Saying this, the poor prisoner looked at Rosa, his eyes
sparkling with hope.
Whether she did not, or would not, understand this look,
Rosa answered gravely, --
"I have only to speak to you about your tulip, which, as I
well know, is the object uppermost in your mind."
Rosa pronounced those few words in a freezing tone, which
cut deeply into the heart of Cornelius. He did not suspect
what lay hidden under this appearance of indifference with
which the poor girl affected to speak of her rival, the
"Oh!" muttered Cornelius, "again! again! Have I not told
you, Rosa, that I thought but of you? that it was you alone
whom I regretted, you whom I missed, you whose absence I
felt more than the loss of liberty and of life itself?"
Rosa smiled with a melancholy air.
"Ah!" she said, "your tulip has been in such danger."
Cornelius trembled involuntarily, and showed himself clearly
to be caught in the trap, if ever the remark was meant as
"Danger!" he cried, quite alarmed; "what danger?"
Rosa looked at him with gentle compassion; she felt that
what she wished was beyond the power of this man, and that
he must be taken as he was, with his little foible.
"Yes," she said, "you have guessed the truth; that suitor
and amorous swain, Jacob, did not come on my account."
"And what did he come for?" Cornelius anxiously asked.
"He came for the sake of the tulip."
"Alas!" said Cornelius, growing even paler at this piece of
information than he had been when Rosa, a fortnight before,
had told him that Jacob was coming for her sake.
Rosa saw this alarm, and Cornelius guessed, from the
expression of her face, in what direction her thoughts were
"Oh, pardon me, Rosa!" he said, "I know you, and I am well
aware of the kindness and sincerity of your heart. To you
God has given the thought and strength for defending
yourself; but to my poor tulip, when it is in danger, God
has given nothing of the sort."
Rosa, without replying to this excuse of the prisoner,
"From the moment when I first knew that you were uneasy on
account of the man who followed me, and in whom I had
recognized Jacob, I was even more uneasy myself. On the day,
therefore, after that on which I saw you last, and on which
you said -- "
Cornelius interrupted her.
"Once more, pardon me, Rosa!" he cried. "I was wrong in
saying to you what I said. I have asked your pardon for that
unfortunate speech before. I ask it again: shall I always
ask it in vain?"
"On the following day," Rosa continued, "remembering what
you had told me about the stratagem which I was to employ to
ascertain whether that odious man was after the tulip, or
after me ---- "
"Yes, yes, odious. Tell me," he said, "do you hate that
"I do hate him," said Rosa, "as he is the cause of all the
unhappiness I have suffered these eight days."
"You, too, have been unhappy, Rosa? I thank you a thousand
times for this kind confession."
"Well, on the day after that unfortunate one, I went down
into the garden and proceeded towards the border where I was
to plant your tulip, looking round all the while to see
whether I was again followed as I was last time."
"And then?" Cornelius asked.
"And then the same shadow glided between the gate and the
wall, and once more disappeared behind the elder-trees."
"You feigned not to see him, didn't you?" Cornelius asked,
remembering all the details of the advice which he had given
"Yes, and I stooped over the border, in which I dug with a
spade, as if I was going to put the bulb in."
"And he, -- what did he do during all this time?"
"I saw his eyes glisten through the branches of the tree
like those of a tiger."
"There you see, there you see!" cried Cornelius.
"Then, after having finished my make-believe work, I
"But only behind the garden door, I dare say, so that you
might see through the keyhole what he was going to do when
you had left?"
"He waited for a moment, very likely to make sure of my not
coming back, after which he sneaked forth from his
hiding-place, and approached the border by a long
round-about; at last, having reached his goal, that is to
say, the spot where the ground was newly turned, he stopped
with a careless air, looking about in all directions, and
scanning every corner of the garden, every window of the
neighbouring houses, and even the sky; after which, thinking
himself quite alone, quite isolated, and out of everybody's
sight, he pounced upon the border, plunged both his hands
into the soft soil, took a handful of the mould, which he
gently frittered between his fingers to see whether the bulb
was in it, and repeated the same thing twice or three times,
until at last he perceived that he was outwitted. Then,
keeping down the agitation which was raging in his breast,
he took up the rake, smoothed the ground, so as to leave it
on his retiring in the same state as he had found it, and,
quite abashed and rueful, walked back to the door, affecting
the unconcerned air of an ordinary visitor of the garden."
"Oh, the wretch!" muttered Cornelius, wiping the cold sweat
from his brow. "Oh, the wretch! I guessed his intentions.
But the bulb, Rosa; what have you done with it? It is
already rather late to plant it."
"The bulb? It has been in the ground for these six days."
"Where? and how?" cried Cornelius. "Good Heaven, what
imprudence! What is it? In what sort of soil is it? It what
aspect? Good or bad? Is there no risk of having it filched
by that detestable Jacob?"
"There is no danger of its being stolen," said Rosa, "unless
Jacob will force the door of my chamber."
"Oh! then it is with you in your bedroom?" said Cornelius,
somewhat relieved. "But in what soil? in what vessel? You
don't let it grow, I hope, in water like those good ladies
of Haarlem and Dort, who imagine that water could replace
"You may make yourself comfortable on that score," said
Rosa, smiling; "your bulb is not growing in water."
"I breathe again."
"It is in a good, sound stone pot, just about the size of
the jug in which you had planted yours. The soil is composed
of three parts of common mould, taken from the best spot of
the garden, and one of the sweepings of the road. I have
heard you and that detestable Jacob, as you call him, so
often talk about what is the soil best fitted for growing
tulips, that I know it as well as the first gardener of
"And now what is the aspect, Rosa?"
"At present it has the sun all day long, -- that is to say
when the sun shines. But when it once peeps out of the
ground, I shall do as you have done here, dear Mynheer
Cornelius: I shall put it out of my window on the eastern
side from eight in the morning until eleven and in my window
towards the west from three to five in the afternoon."
"That's it! that's it!" cried Cornelius; "and you are a
perfect gardener, my pretty Rosa. But I am afraid the
nursing of my tulip will take up all your time."
"Yes, it will," said Rosa; "but never mind. Your tulip is my
daughter. I shall devote to it the same time as I should to
a child of mine, if I were a mother. Only by becoming its
mother," Rosa added, smilingly, "can I cease to be its
"My kind and pretty Rosa!" muttered Cornelius casting on her
a glance in which there was much more of the lover than of
the gardener, and which afforded Rosa some consolation.
Then, after a silence of some moments, during which
Cornelius had grasped through the openings of the grating
for the receding hand of Rosa, he said, --
"Do you mean to say that the bulb has now been in the ground
for six days?"
"Yes, six days, Mynheer Cornelius," she answered.
"And it does not yet show leaf"
"No, but I think it will to-morrow."
"Well, then, to-morrow you will bring me news about it, and
about yourself, won't you, Rosa? I care very much for the
daughter, as you called it just now, but I care even much
more for the mother."
"To-morrow?" said Rosa, looking at Cornelius askance. "I
don't know whether I shall be able to come to-morrow."
"Good heavens!" said Cornelius, "why can't you come
"Mynheer Cornelius, I have lots of things to do."
"And I have only one," muttered Cornelius.
"Yes," said Rosa, "to love your tulip."
"To love you, Rosa."
Rosa shook her head, after which followed a pause.
"Well," -- Cornelius at last broke the silence, -- "well,
Rosa, everything changes in the realm of nature; the flowers
of spring are succeeded by other flowers; and the bees,
which so tenderly caressed the violets and the wall-flowers,
will flutter with just as much love about the honey-suckles,
the rose, the jessamine, and the carnation."
"What does all this mean?" asked Rosa.
"You have abandoned me, Miss Rosa, to seek your pleasure
elsewhere. You have done well, and I will not complain. What
claim have I to your fidelity?"
"My fidelity!" Rosa exclaimed, with her eyes full of tears,
and without caring any longer to hide from Cornelius this
dew of pearls dropping on her cheeks, "my fidelity! have I
not been faithful to you?"
"Do you call it faithful to desert me, and to leave me here
"But, Mynheer Cornelius," said Rosa, "am I not doing
everything for you that could give you pleasure? have I not
devoted myself to your tulip?"
"You are bitter, Rosa, you reproach me with the only
unalloyed pleasure which I have had in this world."
"I reproach you with nothing, Mynheer Cornelius, except,
perhaps, with the intense grief which I felt when people
came to tell me at the Buytenhof that you were about to be
put to death."
"You are displeased, Rosa, my sweet girl, with my loving
"I am not displeased with your loving them, Mynheer
Cornelius, only it makes me sad to think that you love them
better than you do me."
"Oh, my dear, dear Rosa! look how my hands tremble; look at
my pale cheek, hear how my heart beats. It is for you, my
love, not for the black tulip. Destroy the bulb, destroy the
germ of that flower, extinguish the gentle light of that
innocent and delightful dream, to which I have accustomed
myself; but love me, Rosa, love me; for I feel deeply that I
love but you."
"Yes, after the black tulip," sighed Rosa, who at last no
longer coyly withdrew her warm hands from the grating, as
Cornelius most affectionately kissed them.
"Above and before everything in this world, Rosa."
"May I believe you?"
"As you believe in your own existence."
"Well, then, be it so; but loving me does not bind you too
"Unfortunately, it does not bind me more than I am bound;
but it binds you, Rosa, you."
"First of all, not to marry."
"That's your way," she said; "you are tyrants all of you.
You worship a certain beauty, you think of nothing but her.
Then you are condemned to death, and whilst walking to the
scaffold, you devote to her your last sigh; and now you
expect poor me to sacrifice to you all my dreams and my
"But who is the beauty you are talking of, Rosa?" said
Cornelius, trying in vain to remember a woman to whom Rosa
might possibly be alluding.
"The dark beauty with a slender waist, small feet, and a
noble head; in short, I am speaking of your flower."
"That is an imaginary lady love, at all events; whereas,
without counting that amorous Jacob, you by your own account
are surrounded with all sorts of swains eager to make love
to you. Do you remember Rosa, what you told me of the
students, officers, and clerks of the Hague? Are there no
clerks, officers, or students at Loewestein?"
"Indeed there are, and lots of them."
"Who write letters?"
"They do write."
"And now, as you know how to read ---- "
Here Cornelius heaved a sigh at the thought, that, poor
captive as he was, to him alone Rosa owed the faculty of
reading the love-letters which she received.
"As to that," said Rosa, "I think that in reading the notes
addressed to me, and passing the different swains in review
who send them to me, I am only following your instructions."
"How so? My instructions?"
"Indeed, your instructions, sir," said Rosa, sighing in her
turn; "have you forgotten the will written by your hand on
the Bible of Cornelius de Witt? I have not forgotten it; for
now, as I know how to read, I read it every day over and
over again. In that will you bid me to love and marry a
handsome young man of twenty-six or eight years. I am on the
look-out for that young man, and as the whole of my day is
taken up with your tulip, you must needs leave me the
evenings to find him."
"But, Rosa, the will was made in the expectation of death,
and, thanks to Heaven, I am still alive."
"Well, then, I shall not be after the handsome young man,
and I shall come to see you."
"That's it, Rosa, come! come!"
"Under one condition."
"That the black tulip shall not be mentioned for the next
"It shall never be mentioned any more, if you wish it,
"No, no," the damsel said, laughing, "I will not ask for
And, saying this, she brought her fresh cheek, as if
unconsciously, so near the iron grating, that Cornelius was
able to touch it with his lips.
Rosa uttered a little scream, which, however, was full of
love, and disappeared.
The Second Bulb
The night was a happy one, and the whole of the next day
During the last few days, the prison had been heavy, dark,
and lowering, as it were, with all its weight on the
unfortunate captive. Its walls were black, its air chilling,
the iron bars seemed to exclude every ray of light.
But when Cornelius awoke next morning, a beam of the morning
sun was playing about those iron bars; pigeons were hovering
about with outspread wings, whilst others were lovingly
cooing on the roof or near the still closed window.
Cornelius ran to that window and opened it; it seemed to him
as if new life, and joy, and liberty itself were entering
with this sunbeam into his cell, which, so dreary of late,
was now cheered and irradiated by the light of love.
When Gryphus, therefore, came to see his prisoner in the
morning, he no longer found him morose and lying in bed, but
standing at the window, and singing a little ditty.
"Halloa!" exclaimed the jailer.
"How are you this morning?" asked Cornelius.
Gryphus looked at him with a scowl.
"And how is the dog, and Master Jacob, and our pretty Rosa?"
Gryphus ground his teeth, saying. --
"Here is your breakfast."
"Thank you, friend Cerberus," said the prisoner; "you are
just in time; I am very hungry."
"Oh! you are hungry, are you?" said Gryphus.
"And why not?" asked Van Baerle.
"The conspiracy seems to thrive," remarked Gryphus.
"Very well, I know what I know, Master Scholar; just be
quiet, we shall be on our guard."
"Be on your guard, friend Gryphus; be on your guard as long
as you please; my conspiracy, as well as my person, is
entirely at your service."
"We'll see that at noon."
Saying this, Gryphus went out.
"At noon?" repeated Cornelius; "what does that mean? Well,
let us wait until the clock strikes twelve, and we shall
It was very easy for Cornelius to wait for twelve at midday,
as he was already waiting for nine at night.
It struck twelve, and there were heard on the staircase not
only the steps of Gryphus, but also those of three or four
soldiers, who were coming up with him.
The door opened. Gryphus entered, led his men in, and shut
the door after them.
"There, now search!"
They searched not only the pockets of Cornelius, but even
his person; yet they found nothing.
They then searched the sheets, the mattress, and the straw
mattress of his bed; and again they found nothing.
Now, Cornelius rejoiced that he had not taken the third
sucker under his own care. Gryphus would have been sure to
ferret it out in the search, and would then have treated it
as he did the first.
And certainly never did prisoner look with greater
complacency at a search made in his cell than Cornelius.
Gryphus retired with the pencil and the two or three leaves
of white paper which Rosa had given to Van Baerle, this was
the only trophy brought back from the expedition.
At six Gryphus came back again, but alone; Cornelius tried
to propitiate him, but Gryphus growled, showed a large tooth
like a tusk, which he had in the corner of his mouth, and
went out backwards, like a man who is afraid of being
attacked from behind.
Cornelius burst out laughing, to which Gryphus answered
through the grating, --
"Let him laugh that wins."
The winner that day was Cornelius; Rosa came at nine.
She was without a lantern. She needed no longer a light, as
she could now read. Moreover, the light might betray her, as
Jacob was dogging her steps more than ever. And lastly, the
light would have shown her blushes.
Of what did the young people speak that evening? Of those
matters of which lovers speak at the house doors in France,
or from a balcony into the street in Spain, or down from a
terrace into a garden in the East.
They spoke of those things which give wings to the hours;
they spoke of everything except the black tulip.
At last, when the clock struck ten, they parted as usual.
Cornelius was happy, as thoroughly happy as a tulip-fancier
would be to whom one has not spoken of his tulip.
He found Rosa pretty, good, graceful, and charming.
But why did Rosa object to the tulip being spoken of?
This was indeed a great defect in Rosa.
Cornelius confessed to himself, sighing, that woman was not
Part of the night he thought of this imperfection; that is
to say, so long as he was awake he thought of Rosa.
After having fallen asleep, he dreamed of her.
But the Rosa of his dreams was by far more perfect than the
Rosa of real life. Not only did the Rosa of his dreams speak
of the tulip, but also brought to him a black one in a china
Cornelius then awoke, trembling with joy, and muttering, --
"Rosa, Rosa, I love you."
And as it was already day, he thought it right not to fall
asleep again, and he continued following up the line of
thought in which his mind was engaged when he awoke.
Ah! if Rosa had only conversed about the tulip, Cornelius
would have preferred her to Queen Semiramis, to Queen
Cleopatra, to Queen Elizabeth, to Queen Anne of Austria;
that is to say, to the greatest or most beautiful queens
whom the world has seen.
But Rosa had forbidden it under pain of not returning; Rosa
had forbidden the least mention of the tulip for three days.
That meant seventy-two hours given to the lover to be sure;
but it was seventy-two hours stolen from the horticulturist.
There was one consolation: of the seventy-two hours during
which Rosa would not allow the tulip to be mentioned,
thirty-six had passed already; and the remaining thirty-six
would pass quickly enough: eighteen with waiting for the
evening's interview, and eighteen with rejoicing in its
Rosa came at the same hour, and Cornelius submitted most
heroically to the pangs which the compulsory silence
concerning the tulip gave him.
His fair visitor, however, was well aware that, to command
on the one point, people must yield on another; she
therefore no longer drew back her hands from the grating,
and even allowed Cornelius tenderly to kiss her beautiful
Poor girl! she had no idea that these playful little lovers'
tricks were much more dangerous than speaking of the tulip
was; but she became aware of the fact as she returned with a
beating heart, with glowing cheeks, dry lips, and moist
And on the following evening, after the first exchange of
salutations, she retired a step, looking at him with a
glance, the expression of which would have rejoiced his
heart could he but have seen it.
"Well," she said, "she is up."
"She is up! Who? What?" asked Cornelius, who did not venture
on a belief that Rosa would, of her own accord, have
abridged the term of his probation.
"She? Well, my daughter, the tulip," said Rosa.
"What!" cried Cornelius, "you give me permission, then?"
"I do," said Rosa, with the tone of an affectionate mother
who grants a pleasure to her child.
"Ah, Rosa!" said Cornelius, putting his lips to the grating
with the hope of touching a cheek, a hand, a forehead, --
anything, in short.
He touched something much better, -- two warm and half open
Rosa uttered a slight scream.
Cornelius understood that he must make haste to continue the
conversation. He guessed that this unexpected kiss had
"Is it growing up straight?"
"Straight as a rocket," said Rosa.
"At least two inches."
"Oh, Rosa, take good care of it, and we shall soon see it
"Can I take more care of it?" said she. "Indeed, I think of
nothing else but the tulip."
"Of nothing else, Rosa? Why, now I shall grow jealous in my
"Oh, you know that to think of the tulip is to think of you;
I never lose sight of it. I see it from my bed, on awaking
it is the first object that meets my eyes, and on falling
asleep the last on which they rest. During the day I sit and
work by its side, for I have never left my chamber since I
put it there."
"You are right Rosa, it is your dowry, you know."
"Yes, and with it I may marry a young man of twenty-six or
twenty-eight years, whom I shall be in love with."
"Don't talk in that way, you naughty girl."
That evening Cornelius was one of the happiest of men. Rosa
allowed him to press her hand in his, and to keep it as long
as he would, besides which he might talk of his tulip as
much as he liked.
From that hour every day marked some progress in the growth
of the tulip and in the affection of the two young people.
At one time it was that the leaves had expanded, and at
another that the flower itself had formed.
Great was the joy of Cornelius at this news, and his
questions succeeded one another with a rapidity which gave
proof of their importance.
"Formed!" exclaimed Cornelius, "is it really formed?"
"It is," repeated Rosa.
Cornelius trembled with joy, so much so that he was obliged
to hold by the grating.
"Good heavens!" he exclaimed.
Then, turning again to Rosa, he continued his questions.
"Is the oval regular? the cylinder full? and are the points
"The oval is almost one inch long, and tapers like a needle,
the cylinder swells at the sides, and the points are ready
Two days after Rosa announced that they were open.
"Open, Rosa!" cried Cornelius. "Is the involucrum open? but
then one may see and already distinguish ---- "
Here the prisoner paused, anxiously taking breath.
"Yes," answered Rosa, "one may already distinguish a thread
of different colour, as thin as a hair."
"And its colour?" asked Cornelius, trembling.
"Oh," answered Rosa, "it is very dark!"
"Darker than that."
"Darker, my good Rosa, darker? Thank you. Dark as ---- "
"Dark as the ink with which I wrote to you."
Cornelius uttered a cry of mad joy.
Then, suddenly stopping and clasping his hands, he said, --
"Oh, there is not an angel in heaven that may be compared to
"Indeed!" said Rosa, smiling at his enthusiasm.
"Rosa, you have worked with such ardour, -- you have done so
much for me! Rosa, my tulip is about to flower, and it will
flower black! Rosa, Rosa, you are the most perfect being on
"After the tulip, though."
"Ah! be quiet, you malicious little creature, be quiet! For
shame! Do not spoil my pleasure. But tell me, Rosa, -- as
the tulip is so far advanced, it will flower in two or three
days, at the latest?"
"To-morrow, or the day after."
"Ah! and I shall not see it," cried Cornelius, starting
back, "I shall not kiss it, as a wonderful work of the
Almighty, as I kiss your hand and your cheek, Rosa, when by
chance they are near the grating."
Rosa drew near, not by accident, but intentionally, and
Cornelius kissed her tenderly.
"Faith, I shall cull it, if you wish it."
"Oh, no, no, Rosa! when it is open, place it carefully in
the shade, and immediately send a message to Haarlem, to the
President of the Horticultural Society, that the grand black
tulip is in flower. I know well it is far to Haarlem, but
with money you will find a messenger. Have you any money,
"Oh, yes!" she said.
"Enough?" said Cornelius.
"I have three hundred guilders."
"Oh, if you have three hundred guilders, you must not send a
messenger, Rosa, but you must go to Haarlem yourself."
"But what in the meantime is to become of the flower?"
"Oh, the flower! you must take it with you. You understand
that you must not separate from it for an instant."
"But whilst I am not separating from it, I am separating
from you, Mynheer Cornelius."
"Ah! that's true, my sweet Rosa. Oh, my God! how wicked men
are! What have I done to offend them, and why have they
deprived me of my liberty? You are right, Rosa, I cannot
live without you. Well, you will send some one to Haarlem,
-- that's settled; really, the matter is wonderful enough
for the President to put himself to some trouble. He will
come himself to Loewestein to see the tulip."
Then, suddenly checking himself, he said, with a faltering
"Rosa, Rosa, if after all it should not flower black!"
"Oh, surely, surely, you will know to-morrow, or the day
"And to wait until evening to know it, Rosa! I shall die
with impatience. Could we not agree about a signal?"
"I shall do better than that."
"What will you do?"
"If it opens at night, I shall come and tell you myself. If
it is day, I shall pass your door, and slip you a note
either under the door, or through the grating, during the
time between my father's first and second inspection."
"Yes, Rosa, let it be so. One word of yours, announcing this
news to me, will be a double happiness."
"There, ten o'clock strikes," said Rosa, "I must now leave
"Yes, yes," said Cornelius, "go, Rosa, go!"
Rosa withdrew, almost melancholy, for Cornelius had all but
sent her away.
It is true that he did so in order that she might watch over
his black tulip.
The Opening of the Flower
The night passed away very sweetly for Cornelius, although
in great agitation. Every instant he fancied he heard the
gentle voice of Rosa calling him. He then started up, went
to the door, and looked through the grating, but no one was
behind it, and the lobby was empty.
Rosa, no doubt, would be watching too, but, happier than he,
she watched over the tulip; she had before her eyes that
noble flower, that wonder of wonders. which not only was
unknown, but was not even thought possible until then.
What would the world say when it heard that the black tulip
was found, that it existed and that it was the prisoner Van
Baerle who had found it?
How Cornelius would have spurned the offer of his liberty in
exchange for his tulip!
Day came, without any news; the tulip was not yet in flower.
The day passed as the night. Night came, and with it Rosa,
joyous and cheerful as a bird.
"Well?" asked Cornelius.
"Well, all is going on prosperously. This night, without any
doubt, our tulip will be in flower."
"And will it flower black?"
"Black as jet."
"Without a speck of any other colour."
"Without one speck."
"Good Heavens! my dear Rosa, I have been dreaming all night,
in the first place of you," (Rosa made a sign of
incredulity,) "and then of what we must do."
"Well, and I will tell you now what I have decided on. The
tulip once being in flower, and it being quite certain that
it is perfectly black, you must find a messenger."
"If it is no more than that, I have a messenger quite
"Is he safe?"
"One for whom I will answer, -- he is one of my lovers."
"I hope not Jacob."
"No, be quiet, it is the ferryman of Loewestein, a smart
young man of twenty-five."
"Be quiet," said Rosa, smiling, "he is still under age, as
you have yourself fixed it from twenty-six to twenty-eight."
"In fine, do you think you may rely on this young man?"
"As on myself; he would throw himself into the Waal or the
Meuse if I bade him."
"Well, Rosa, this lad may be at Haarlem in ten hours; you
will give me paper and pencil, and, perhaps better still,
pen and ink, and I will write, or rather, on second
thoughts, you will, for if I did, being a poor prisoner,
people might, like your father, see a conspiracy in it. You
will write to the President of the Horticultural Society,
and I am sure he will come."
"But if he tarries?"
"Well, let us suppose that he tarries one day, or even two;
but it is impossible. A tulip-fancier like him will not
tarry one hour, not one minute, not one second, to set out
to see the eighth wonder of the world. But, as I said, if he
tarried one or even two days, the tulip will still be in its
full splendour. The flower once being seen by the President,
and the protocol being drawn up, all is in order; you will
only keep a duplicate of the protocol, and intrust the tulip
to him. Ah! if we had been able to carry it ourselves, Rosa,
it would never have left my hands but to pass into yours;
but this is a dream, which we must not entertain," continued
Cornelius with a sigh, "the eyes of strangers will see it
flower to the last. And above all, Rosa, before the
President has seen it, let it not be seen by any one. Alas!
if any one saw the black tulip, it would be stolen."
"Did you not tell me yourself of what you apprehended from
your lover Jacob? People will steal one guilder, why not a
"I shall watch; be quiet."
"But if it opened whilst you were here?"
"The whimsical little thing would indeed be quite capable of
playing such a trick," said Rosa.
"And if on your return you find it open?"
"Oh, Rosa, whenever it opens, remember that not a moment
must be lost in apprising the President."
"And in apprising you. Yes, I understand."
Rosa sighed, yet without any bitter feeling, but rather like
a woman who begins to understand a foible, and to accustom
herself to it.
"I return to your tulip, Mynheer van Baerle, and as soon as
it opens I will give you news, which being done the
messenger will set out immediately."
"Rosa, Rosa, I don't know to what wonder under the sun I
shall compare you."
"Compare me to the black tulip, and I promise you I shall
feel very much flattered. Good night, then, till we meet
again, Mynheer Cornelius."
"Oh, say 'Good night, my friend.'"
"Good night, my friend," said Rosa, a little consoled.
"Say, 'My very dear friend.'"
"Oh, my friend -- "
"Very dear friend, I entreat you, say 'very dear,' Rosa,
"Very dear, yes, very dear," said Rosa, with a beating
heart, beyond herself with happiness.
"And now that you have said 'very dear,' dear Rosa, say also
'most happy': say 'happier and more blessed than ever man
was under the sun.' I only lack one thing, Rosa."
"And that is?"
"Your cheek, -- your fresh cheek, your soft, rosy cheek. Oh,
Rosa, give it me of your own free will, and not by chance.
The prisoner's prayer ended in a sigh of ecstasy; his lips
met those of the maiden, -- not by chance, nor by stratagem,
but as Saint-Preux's was to meet the lips of Julie a hundred
Rosa made her escape.
Cornelius stood with his heart upon his lips, and his face
glued to the wicket in the door.
He was fairly choking with happiness and joy. He opened his
window, and gazed long, with swelling heart, at the
cloudless vault of heaven, and the moon, which shone like
silver upon the two-fold stream flowing from far beyond the
hills. He filled his lungs with the pure, sweet air, while
his brain dwelt upon thoughts of happiness, and his heart
overflowed with gratitude and religious fervour.
"Oh Thou art always watching from on high, my God," he
cried, half prostrate, his glowing eyes fixed upon the
stars: "forgive me that I almost doubted Thy existence
during these latter days, for Thou didst hide Thy face
behind the clouds, and wert for a moment lost to my sight, O
Thou merciful God, Thou pitying Father everlasting! But
to-day, this evening, and to-night, again I see Thee in all
Thy wondrous glory in the mirror of Thy heavenly abode, and
more clearly still in the mirror of my grateful heart."
He was well again, the poor invalid; the wretched captive
was free once more.
During part of the night Cornelius, with his heart full of
joy and delight, remained at his window, gazing at the
stars, and listening for every sound.
Then casting a glance from time to time towards the lobby,
"Down there," he said, "is Rosa, watching like myself, and
waiting from minute to minute; down there, under Rosa's
eyes, is the mysterious flower, which lives, which expands,
which opens, perhaps Rosa holds in this moment the stem of
the tulip between her delicate fingers. Touch it gently,
Rosa. Perhaps she touches with her lips its expanding
chalice. Touch it cautiously, Rosa, your lips are burning.
Yes, perhaps at this moment the two objects of my dearest
love caress each other under the eye of Heaven."
At this moment, a star blazed in the southern sky, and shot
through the whole horizon, falling down, as it were, on the
fortress of Loewestein.
Cornelius felt a thrill run through his frame.
"Ah!" he said, "here is Heaven sending a soul to my flower."
And as if he had guessed correctly, nearly at that very
moment the prisoner heard in the lobby a step light as that
of a sylph, and the rustling of a gown, and a well-known
voice, which said to him, --
"Cornelius, my friend, my very dear friend, and very happy
friend, come, come quickly."
Cornelius darted with one spring from the window to the
door, his lips met those of Rosa, who told him, with a kiss,
"It is open, it is black, here it is."
"How! here it is?" exclaimed Cornelius.
"Yes, yes, we ought indeed to run some little risk to give a
great joy; here it is, take it."
And with one hand she raised to the level of the grating a
dark lantern, which she had lit in the meanwhile, whilst
with the other she held to the same height the miraculous
Cornelius uttered a cry, and was nearly fainting.
"Oh!" muttered he, "my God, my God, Thou dost reward me for
my innocence and my captivity, as Thou hast allowed two such
flowers to grow at the grated window of my prison!"
The tulip was beautiful, splendid, magnificent; its stem was
more than eighteen inches high; it rose from out of four
green leaves, which were as smooth and straight as iron
lance-heads; the whole of the flower was as black and
shining as jet.
"Rosa," said Cornelius, almost gasping, "Rosa, there is not
one moment to lose in writing the letter."
"It is written, my dearest Cornelius," said Rosa.
"Is it, indeed?"
"Whilst the tulip opened I wrote it myself, for I did not
wish to lose a moment. Here is the letter, and tell me
whether you approve of it."
Cornelius took the letter, and read, in a handwriting which
was much improved even since the last little note he had
received from Rosa, as follows: --
"Mynheer President, -- The black tulip is about to open,
perhaps in ten minutes. As soon as it is open, I shall send
a messenger to you, with the request that you will come and
fetch it in person from the fortress at Loewestein. I am the
daughter of the jailer, Gryphus, almost as much of a captive
as the prisoners of my father. I cannot, therefore, bring to
you this wonderful flower. This is the reason why I beg you
to come and fetch it yourself.
"It is my wish that it should be called Rosa Barlaensis.
"It has opened; it is perfectly black; come, Mynheer
"I have the honour to be your humble servant,
"That's it, dear Rosa, that's it. Your letter is admirable!
I could not have written it with such beautiful simplicity.
You will give to the committee all the information that will
be required of you. They will then know how the tulip has
been grown, how much care and anxiety, and how many
sleepless nights, it has cost. But for the present not a
minute must be lost. The messenger! the messenger!"
"What's the name of the President?"
"Give me the letter, I will direct it. Oh, he is very well
known: it is Mynheer van Systens, the burgomaster of
Haarlem; give it to me, Rosa, give it to me."
And with a trembling hand Cornelius wrote the address, --
"To Mynheer Peter van Systens, Burgomaster, and President of
the Horticultural Society of Haarlem."
"And now, Rosa, go, go," said Cornelius, "and let us implore
the protection of God, who has so kindly watched over us
And in fact the poor young people were in great need of protection.
They had never been so near the destruction of their hopes
as at this moment, when they thought themselves certain of
The reader cannot but have recognized in Jacob our old
friend, or rather enemy, Isaac Boxtel, and has guessed, no
doubt, that this worthy had followed from the Buytenhof to
Loewestein the object of his love and the object of his
hatred, -- the black tulip and Cornelius van Baerle.
What no one but a tulip-fancier, and an envious
tulip-fancier, could have discovered, -- the existence of
the bulbs and the endeavours of the prisoner, -- jealousy
had enabled Boxtel, if not to discover, at least to guess.
We have seen him, more successful under the name of Jacob
than under that of Isaac, gain the friendship of Gryphus,
which for several months he cultivated by means of the best
Genievre ever distilled from the Texel to Antwerp, and he
lulled the suspicion of the jealous turnkey by holding out
to him the flattering prospect of his designing to marry
Besides thus offering a bait to the ambition of the father,
he managed, at the same time, to interest his zeal as a
jailer, picturing to him in the blackest colours the learned
prisoner whom Gryphus had in his keeping, and who, as the
sham Jacob had it, was in league with Satan, to the
detriment of his Highness the Prince of Orange.
At first he had also made some way with Rosa; not, indeed,
in her affections, but inasmuch as, by talking to her of
marriage and of love, he had evaded all the suspicions which
he might otherwise have excited.
We have seen how his imprudence in following Rosa into the
garden had unmasked him in the eyes of the young damsel, and
how the instinctive fears of Cornelius had put the two
lovers on their guard against him.
The reader will remember that the first cause of uneasiness
was given to the prisoner by the rage of Jacob when Gryphus
crushed the first bulb. In that moment Boxtel's exasperation
was the more fierce, as, though suspecting that Cornelius
possessed a second bulb, he by no means felt sure of it.
From that moment he began to dodge the steps of Rosa, not
only following her to the garden, but also to the lobbies.
Only as this time he followed her in the night, and
bare-footed, he was neither seen nor heard except once, when
Rosa thought she saw something like a shadow on the
Her discovery, however, was made too late, as Boxtel had
heard from the mouth of the prisoner himself that a second
Taken in by the stratagem of Rosa, who had feigned to put it
in the ground, and entertaining no doubt that this little
farce had been played in order to force him to betray
himself, he redoubled his precaution, and employed every
means suggested by his crafty nature to watch the others
without being watched himself.
He saw Rosa conveying a large flower-pot of white
earthenware from her father's kitchen to her bedroom. He saw
Rosa washing in pails of water her pretty little hands,
begrimed as they were with the mould which she had handled,
to give her tulip the best soil possible.
And at last he hired, just opposite Rosa's window, a little
attic, distant enough not to allow him to be recognized with
the naked eye, but sufficiently near to enable him, with the