Part 5 out of 6
help of his telescope, to watch everything that was going on
at the Loewestein in Rosa's room, just as at Dort he had
watched the dry-room of Cornelius.
He had not been installed more than three days in his attic
before all his doubts were removed.
From morning to sunset the flower-pot was in the window,
and, like those charming female figures of Mieris and
Metzys, Rosa appeared at that window as in a frame, formed
by the first budding sprays of the wild vine and the
honeysuckle encircling her window.
Rosa watched the flower-pot with an interest which betrayed
to Boxtel the real value of the object enclosed in it.
This object could not be anything else but the second bulb,
that is to say, the quintessence of all the hopes of the
When the nights threatened to be too cold, Rosa took in the
Well, it was then quite evident she was following the
instructions of Cornelius, who was afraid of the bulb being
killed by frost.
When the sun became too hot, Rosa likewise took in the pot
from eleven in the morning until two in the afternoon.
Another proof: Cornelius was afraid lest the soil should
become too dry.
But when the first leaves peeped out of the earth Boxtel was
fully convinced; and his telescope left him no longer in any
uncertainty before they had grown one inch in height.
Cornelius possessed two bulbs, and the second was intrusted
to the love and care of Rosa.
For it may well be imagined that the tender secret of the
two lovers had not escaped the prying curiosity of Boxtel.
The question, therefore, was how to wrest the second bulb
from the care of Rosa.
Certainly this was no easy task.
Rosa watched over her tulip as a mother over her child, or a
dove over her eggs.
Rosa never left her room during the day, and, more than
that, strange to say, she never left it in the evening.
For seven days Boxtel in vain watched Rosa; she was always
at her post.
This happened during those seven days which made Cornelius
so unhappy, depriving him at the same time of all news of
Rosa and of his tulip.
Would the coolness between Rosa and Cornelius last for ever?
This would have made the theft much more difficult than
Mynheer Isaac had at first expected.
We say the theft, for Isaac had simply made up his mind to
steal the tulip; and as it grew in the most profound
secrecy, and as, moreover, his word, being that of a
renowned tulip-grower, would any day be taken against that
of an unknown girl without any knowledge of horticulture, or
against that of a prisoner convicted of high treason, he
confidently hoped that, having once got possession of the
bulb, he would be certain to obtain the prize; and then the
tulip, instead of being called Tulipa nigra Barlaensis,
would go down to posterity under the name of Tulipa nigra
Boxtellensis or Boxtellea.
Mynheer Isaac had not yet quite decided which of these two
names he would give to the tulip, but, as both meant the
same thing, this was, after all, not the important point.
The point was to steal the tulip. But in order that Boxtel
might steal the tulip, it was necessary that Rosa should
leave her room.
Great therefore was his joy when he saw the usual evening
meetings of the lovers resumed.
He first of all took advantage of Rosa's absence to make
himself fully acquainted with all the peculiarities of the
door of her chamber. The lock was a double one and in good
order, but Rosa always took the key with her.
Boxtel at first entertained an idea of stealing the key, but
it soon occurred to him, not only that it would be
exceedingly difficult to abstract it from her pocket, but
also that, when she perceived her loss, she would not leave
her room until the lock was changed, and then Boxtel's first
theft would be useless.
He thought it, therefore, better to employ a different
expedient. He collected as many keys as he could, and tried
all of them during one of those delightful hours which Rosa
and Cornelius passed together at the grating of the cell.
Two of the keys entered the lock, and one of them turned
round once, but not the second time.
There was, therefore, only a little to be done to this key.
Boxtel covered it with a slight coat of wax, and when he
thus renewed the experiment, the obstacle which prevented
the key from being turned a second time left its impression
on the wax.
It cost Boxtel two days more to bring his key to perfection,
with the aid of a small file.
Rosa's door thus opened without noise and without
difficulty, and Boxtel found himself in her room alone with
The first guilty act of Boxtel had been to climb over a wall
in order to dig up the tulip; the second, to introduce
himself into the dry-room of Cornelius, through an open
window; and the third, to enter Rosa's room by means of a
Thus envy urged Boxtel on with rapid steps in the career of
Boxtel, as we have said, was alone with the tulip.
A common thief would have taken the pot under his arm, and
carried it off.
But Boxtel was not a common thief, and he reflected.
It was not yet certain, although very probable, that the
tulip would flower black; if, therefore, he stole it now, he
not only might be committing a useless crime, but also the
theft might be discovered in the time which must elapse
until the flower should open.
He therefore -- as being in possession of the key, he might
enter Rosa's chamber whenever he liked -- thought it better
to wait and to take it either an hour before or after
opening, and to start on the instant to Haarlem, where the
tulip would be before the judges of the committee before any
one else could put in a reclamation.
Should any one then reclaim it, Boxtel would in his turn
charge him or her with theft.
This was a deep-laid scheme, and quite worthy of its author.
Thus, every evening during that delightful hour which the
two lovers passed together at the grated window, Boxtel
entered Rosa's chamber to watch the progress which the black
tulip had made towards flowering.
On the evening at which we have arrived he was going to
enter according to custom; but the two lovers, as we have
seen, only exchanged a few words before Cornelius sent Rosa
back to watch over the tulip.
Seeing Rosa enter her room ten minutes after she had left
it, Boxtel guessed that the tulip had opened, or was about
During that night, therefore, the great blow was to be
struck. Boxtel presented himself before Gryphus with a
double supply of Genievre, that is to say, with a bottle in
Gryphus being once fuddled, Boxtel was very nearly master of
At eleven o'clock Gryphus was dead drunk. At two in the
morning Boxtel saw Rosa leaving the chamber; but evidently
she held in her arms something which she carried with great
He did not doubt that this was the black tulip which was in
But what was she going to do with it? Would she set out that
instant to Haarlem with it?
It was not possible that a young girl should undertake such
a journey alone during the night.
Was she only going to show the tulip to Cornelius? This was
He followed Rosa in his stocking feet, walking on tiptoe.
He saw her approach the grated window. He heard her calling
Cornelius. By the light of the dark lantern he saw the tulip
open, and black as the night in which he was hidden.
He heard the plan concerted between Cornelius and Rosa to
send a messenger to Haarlem. He saw the lips of the lovers
meet, and then heard Cornelius send Rosa away.
He saw Rosa extinguish the light and return to her chamber.
Ten minutes after, he saw her leave the room again, and lock
Boxtel, who saw all this whilst hiding himself on the
landing-place of the staircase above, descended step by step
from his story as Rosa descended from hers; so that, when
she touched with her light foot the lowest step of the
staircase, Boxtel touched with a still lighter hand the lock
of Rosa's chamber.
And in that hand, it must be understood, he held the false
key which opened Rosa's door as easily as did the real one.
And this is why, in the beginning of the chapter, we said
that the poor young people were in great need of the
protection of God.
The Black Tulip changes Masters
Cornelius remained standing on the spot where Rosa had left him.
He was quite overpowered with the weight of his twofold happiness.
Half an hour passed away. Already did the first rays of the
sun enter through the iron grating of the prison, when
Cornelius was suddenly startled at the noise of steps which
came up the staircase, and of cries which approached nearer
Almost at the same instant he saw before him the pale and
distracted face of Rosa.
He started, and turned pale with fright.
"Cornelius, Cornelius!" she screamed, gasping for breath.
"Good Heaven! what is it?" asked the prisoner.
"Cornelius! the tulip ---- "
"How shall I tell you?"
"Speak, speak, Rosa!"
"Some one has taken -- stolen it from us."
"Stolen -- taken?" said Cornelius.
"Yes," said Rosa, leaning against the door to support
herself; "yes, taken, stolen!"
And saying this, she felt her limbs failing her, and she
fell on her knees.
"But how? Tell me, explain to me."
"Oh, it is not my fault, my friend."
Poor Rosa! she no longer dared to call him "My beloved one."
"You have then left it alone," said Cornelius, ruefully.
"One minute only, to instruct our messenger, who lives
scarcely fifty yards off, on the banks of the Waal."
"And during that time, notwithstanding all my injunctions,
you left the key behind, unfortunate child!"
"No, no, no! this is what I cannot understand. The key was
never out of my hands; I clinched it as if I were afraid it
would take wings."
"But how did it happen, then?"
"That's what I cannot make out. I had given the letter to my
messenger; he started before I left his house; I came home,
and my door was locked, everything in my room was as I had
left it, except the tulip, -- that was gone. Some one must
have had a key for my room, or have got a false one made on
She was nearly choking with sobs, and was unable to
Cornelius, immovable and full of consternation, heard almost
without understanding, and only muttered, --
"Stolen, stolen, and I am lost!"
"O Cornelius, forgive me, forgive me, it will kill me!"
Seeing Rosa's distress, Cornelius seized the iron bars of
the grating, and furiously shaking them, called out, --
"Rosa, Rosa, we have been robbed, it is true, but shall we
allow ourselves to be dejected for all that? No, no; the
misfortune is great, but it may perhaps be remedied. Rosa,
we know the thief!"
"Alas! what can I say about it?"
"But I say that it is no one else but that infamous Jacob.
Shall we allow him to carry to Haarlem the fruit of our
labour, the fruit of our sleepless nights, the child of our
love? Rosa, we must pursue, we must overtake him!"
"But how can we do all this, my friend, without letting my
father know we were in communication with each other? How
should I, a poor girl, with so little knowledge of the world
and its ways, be able to attain this end, which perhaps you
could not attain yourself?"
"Rosa, Rosa, open this door to me, and you will see whether
I will not find the thief, -- whether I will not make him
confess his crime and beg for mercy."
"Alas!" cried Rosa, sobbing, "can I open the door for you?
have I the keys? If I had had them, would not you have been
free long ago?"
"Your father has them, -- your wicked father, who has
already crushed the first bulb of my tulip. Oh, the wretch!
he is an accomplice of Jacob!"
"Don't speak so loud, for Heaven's sake!"
"Oh, Rosa, if you don't open the door to me," Cornelius
cried in his rage, "I shall force these bars, and kill
everything I find in the prison."
"Be merciful, be merciful, my friend!"
"I tell you, Rosa, that I shall demolish this prison, stone
for stone!" and the unfortunate man, whose strength was
increased tenfold by his rage, began to shake the door with
a great noise, little heeding that the thunder of his voice
was re-echoing through the spiral staircase.
Rosa, in her fright, made vain attempts to check this
"I tell you that I shall kill that infamous Gryphus?" roared
Cornelius. "I tell you I shall shed his blood as he did that
of my black tulip."
The wretched prisoner began really to rave.
"Well, then, yes," said Rosa, all in a tremble. "Yes, yes,
only be quiet. Yes, yes, I will take his keys, I will open
the door for you! Yes, only be quiet, my own dear
She did not finish her speech, as a growl by her side
"My father!" cried Rosa.
"Gryphus!" roared Van Baerle. "Oh, you villain!"
Old Gryphus, in the midst of all the noise, had ascended the
staircase without being heard.
He rudely seized his daughter by the wrist.
"So you will take my keys?" he said, in a voice choked with
rage. "Ah! this dastardly fellow, this monster, this
gallows-bird of a conspirator, is your own dear Cornelius,
is he? Ah! Missy has communications with prisoners of state.
Ah! won't I teach you -- won't I?"
Rosa clasped her hands in despair.
"Ah!" Gryphus continued, passing from the madness of anger
to the cool irony of a man who has got the better of his
enemy, -- "Ah, you innocent tulip-fancier, you gentle
scholar; you will kill me, and drink my blood! Very well!
very well! And you have my daughter for an accomplice. Am I,
forsooth, in a den of thieves, -- in a cave of brigands?
Yes, but the Governor shall know all to-morrow, and his
Highness the Stadtholder the day after. We know the law, --
we shall give a second edition of the Buytenhof, Master
Scholar, and a good one this time. Yes, yes, just gnaw your
paws like a bear in his cage, and you, my fine little lady,
devour your dear Cornelius with your eyes. I tell you, my
lambkins, you shall not much longer have the felicity of
conspiring together. Away with you, unnatural daughter! And
as to you, Master Scholar, we shall see each other again.
Just be quiet, -- we shall."
Rosa, beyond herself with terror and despair, kissed her
hands to her friend; then, suddenly struck with a bright
thought, she rushed toward the staircase, saying, --
"All is not yet lost, Cornelius. Rely on me, my Cornelius."
Her father followed her, growling.
As to poor Cornelius, he gradually loosened his hold of the
bars, which his fingers still grasped convulsively. His head
was heavy, his eyes almost started from their sockets, and
he fell heavily on the floor of his cell, muttering, --
"Stolen! it has been stolen from me!"
During this time Boxtel had left the fortress by the door
which Rosa herself had opened. He carried the black tulip
wrapped up in a cloak, and, throwing himself into a coach,
which was waiting for him at Gorcum, he drove off, without,
as may well be imagined, having informed his friend Gryphus
of his sudden departure.
And now, as we have seen him enter his coach, we shall with
the consent of the reader, follow him to the end of his
He proceeded but slowly, as the black tulip could not bear
But Boxtel, fearing that he might not arrive early enough,
procured at Delft a box, lined all round with fresh moss, in
which he packed the tulip. The flower was so lightly pressed
upon all sides, with a supply of air from above, that the
coach could now travel full speed without any possibility of
injury to the tulip.
He arrived next morning at Haarlem, fatigued but triumphant;
and, to do away with every trace of the theft, he
transplanted the tulip, and, breaking the original
flower-pot, threw the pieces into the canal. After which he
wrote the President of the Horticultural Society a letter,
in which he announced to him that he had just arrived at
Haarlem with a perfectly black tulip; and, with his flower
all safe, took up his quarters at a good hotel in the town,
and there he waited.
The President van Systens
Rosa, on leaving Cornelius, had fixed on her plan, which was
no other than to restore to Cornelius the stolen tulip, or
never to see him again.
She had seen the despair of the prisoner, and she knew that
it was derived from a double source, and that it was
On the one hand, separation became inevitable, -- Gryphus
having at the same time surprised the secret of their love
and of their secret meetings.
On the other hand, all the hopes on the fulfilment of which
Cornelius van Baerle had rested his ambition for the last
seven years were now crushed.
Rosa was one of those women who are dejected by trifles, but
who in great emergencies are supplied by the misfortune
itself with the energy for combating or with the resources
for remedying it.
She went to her room, and cast a last glance about her to
see whether she had not been mistaken, and whether the tulip
was not stowed away in some corner where it had escaped her
notice. But she sought in vain, the tulip was still missing;
the tulip was indeed stolen.
Rosa made up a little parcel of things indispensable for a
journey; took her three hundred guilders, -- that is to say,
all her fortune, -- fetched the third bulb from among her
lace, where she had laid it up, and carefully hid it in her
bosom; after which she locked her door twice to disguise her
flight as long as possible, and, leaving the prison by the
same door which an hour before had let out Boxtel, she went
to a stable-keeper to hire a carriage.
The man had only a two-wheel chaise, and this was the
vehicle which Boxtel had hired since last evening, and in
which he was now driving along the road to Delft; for the
road from Loewestein to Haarlem, owing to the many canals,
rivers, and rivulets intersecting the country, is
Not being able to procure a vehicle, Rosa was obliged to
take a horse, with which the stable-keeper readily intrusted
her, knowing her to be the daughter of the jailer of the
Rosa hoped to overtake her messenger, a kind-hearted and
honest lad, whom she would take with her, and who might at
the same time serve her as a guide and a protector.
And in fact she had not proceeded more than a league before
she saw him hastening along one of the side paths of a very
pretty road by the river. Setting her horse off at a canter,
she soon came up with him.
The honest lad was not aware of the important character of
his message; nevertheless, he used as much speed as if he
had known it; and in less than an hour he had already gone a
league and a half.
Rosa took from him the note, which had now become useless,
and explained to him what she wanted him to do for her. The
boatman placed himself entirely at her disposal, promising
to keep pace with the horse if Rosa would allow him to take
hold of either the croup or the bridle of her horse. The two
travellers had been on their way for five hours, and made
more than eight leagues, and yet Gryphus had not the least
suspicion of his daughter having left the fortress.
The jailer, who was of a very spiteful and cruel
disposition, chuckled within himself at the idea of having
struck such terror into his daughter's heart.
But whilst he was congratulating himself on having such a
nice story to tell to his boon companion, Jacob, that worthy
was on his road to Delft; and, thanks to the swiftness of
the horse, had already the start of Rosa and her companion
by four leagues.
And whilst the affectionate father was rejoicing at the
thought of his daughter weeping in her room, Rosa was making
the best of her way towards Haarlem.
Thus the prisoner alone was where Gryphus thought him to be.
Rosa was so little with her father since she took care of
the tulip, that at his dinner hour, that is to say, at
twelve o'clock, he was reminded for the first time by his
appetite that his daughter was fretting rather too long.
He sent one of the under-turnkeys to call her; and, when the
man came back to tell him that he had called and sought her
in vain, he resolved to go and call her himself.
He first went to her room, but, loud as he knocked, Rosa
The locksmith of the fortress was sent for; he opened the
door, but Gryphus no more found Rosa than she had found the
At that very moment she entered Rotterdam.
Gryphus therefore had just as little chance of finding her
in the kitchen as in her room, and just as little in the
garden as in the kitchen.
The reader may imagine the anger of the jailer when, after
having made inquiries about the neighbourhood, he heard that
his daughter had hired a horse, and, like an adventuress,
set out on a journey without saying where she was going.
Gryphus again went up in his fury to Van Baerle, abused him,
threatened him, knocked all the miserable furniture of his
cell about, and promised him all sorts of misery, even
starvation and flogging.
Cornelius, without even hearing what his jailer said,
allowed himself to be ill-treated, abused, and threatened,
remaining all the while sullen, immovable, dead to every
emotion and fear.
After having sought for Rosa in every direction, Gryphus
looked out for Jacob, and, as he could not find him either,
he began to suspect from that moment that Jacob had run away
The damsel, meanwhile, after having stopped for two hours at
Rotterdam, had started again on her journey. On that evening
she slept at Delft, and on the following morning she reached
Haarlem, four hours after Boxtel had arrived there.
Rosa, first of all, caused herself to be led before Mynheer
van Systens, the President of the Horticultural Society of
She found that worthy gentleman in a situation which, to do
justice to our story, we must not pass over in our
The President was drawing up a report to the committee of
This report was written on large-sized paper, in the finest
handwriting of the President.
Rosa was announced simply as Rosa Gryphus; but as her name,
well as it might sound, was unknown to the President, she
was refused admittance.
Rosa, however, was by no means abashed, having vowed in her
heart, in pursuing her cause, not to allow herself to be put
down either by refusal, or abuse, or even brutality.
"Announce to the President," she said to the servant, "that
I want to speak to him about the black tulip."
These words seemed to be an "Open Sesame," for she soon
found herself in the office of the President, Van Systens,
who gallantly rose from his chair to meet her.
He was a spare little man, resembling the stem of a flower,
his head forming its chalice, and his two limp arms
representing the double leaf of the tulip; the resemblance
was rendered complete by his waddling gait which made him
even more like that flower when it bends under a breeze.
"Well, miss," he said, "you are coming, I am told, about the
affair of the black tulip."
To the President of the Horticultural Society the Tulipa
nigra was a first-rate power, which, in its character as
queen of the tulips, might send ambassadors.
"Yes, sir," answered Rosa; "I come at least to speak of it."
"Is it doing well, then?" asked Van Systens, with a smile of
"Alas! sir, I don't know," said Rosa.
"How is that? could any misfortune have happened to it?"
"A very great one, sir; yet not to it, but to me."
"It has been stolen from me."
"Stolen! the black tulip?"
"Do you know the thief?"
"I have my suspicions, but I must not yet accuse any one."
"But the matter may very easily be ascertained."
"How is that?"
"As it has been stolen from you, the thief cannot be far
"Because I have seen the black tulip only two hours ago."
"You have seen the black tulip!" cried Rosa, rushing up to
Mynheer van Systens.
"As I see you, miss."
"Well, with your master, of course."
"With my master?"
"Yes, are you not in the service of Master Isaac Boxtel?"
"But for whom do you take me, sir?"
"And for whom do you take me?"
"I hope, sir, I take you for what you are, -- that is to
say, for the honorable Mynheer van Systens, Burgomaster of
Haarlem, and President of the Horticultural Society."
"And what is it you told me just now?"
"I told you, sir, that my tulip has been stolen."
"Then your tulip is that of Mynheer Boxtel. Well, my child,
you express yourself very badly. The tulip has been stolen,
not from you, but from Mynheer Boxtel."
"I repeat to you, sir, that I do not know who this Mynheer
Boxtel is, and that I have now heard his name pronounced for
the first time."
"You do not know who Mynheer Boxtel is, and you also had a
"But is there any other besides mine?" asked Rosa,
"Yes, -- that of Mynheer Boxtel."
"How is it?"
"Black, of course."
"Without a single speck, or even point."
"And you have this tulip, -- you have it deposited here?"
"No, but it will be, as it has to be exhibited before the
committee previous to the prize being awarded."
"Oh, sir!" cried Rosa, "this Boxtel -- this Isaac Boxtel --
who calls himself the owner of the black tulip ---- "
"And who is its owner?"
"Is he not a very thin man?"
"With sunken eyes?"
"I think he has."
"Restless, stooping, and bowlegged?"
"In truth, you draw Master Boxtel's portrait feature by
"And the tulip, sir? Is it not in a pot of white and blue
earthenware, with yellowish flowers in a basket on three
"Oh, as to that I am not quite sure; I looked more at the
flower than at the pot."
"Oh, sir! that's my tulip, which has been stolen from me. I
came here to reclaim it before you and from you."
"Oh! oh!" said Van Systens, looking at Rosa. "What! you are
here to claim the tulip of Master Boxtel? Well, I must say,
you are cool enough."
"Honoured sir," a little put out by this apostrophe, "I do
not say that I am coming to claim the tulip of Master
Boxtel, but to reclaim my own."
"Yes, the one which I have myself planted and nursed."
"Well, then, go and find out Master Boxtel, at the White
Swan Inn, and you can then settle matters with him; as for
me, considering that the cause seems to me as difficult to
judge as that which was brought before King Solomon, and
that I do not pretend to be as wise as he was, I shall
content myself with making my report, establishing the
existence of the black tulip, and ordering the hundred
thousand guilders to be paid to its grower. Good-bye, my
"Oh, sir, sir!" said Rosa, imploringly.
"Only, my child," continued Van Systens, "as you are young
and pretty, and as there may be still some good in you, I'll
give you some good advice. Be prudent in this matter, for we
have a court of justice and a prison here at Haarlem, and,
moreover, we are exceedingly ticklish as far as the honour
of our tulips is concerned. Go, my child, go, remember,
Master Isaac Boxtel at the White Swan Inn."
And Mynheer van Systens, taking up his fine pen, resumed his
report, which had been interrupted by Rosa's visit.
A Member of the Horticultural Society
Rosa, beyond herself and nearly mad with joy and fear at the
idea of the black tulip being found again, started for the
White Swan, followed by the boatman, a stout lad from
Frisia, who was strong enough to knock down a dozen Boxtels
He had been made acquainted in the course of the journey
with the state of affairs, and was not afraid of any
encounter; only he had orders, in such a case, to spare the
But on arriving in the great market-place Rosa at once
stopped, a sudden thought had struck her, just as Homer's
Minerva seizes Achilles by the hair at the moment when he is
about to be carried away by his anger.
"Good Heaven!" she muttered to herself, "I have made a
grievous blunder; it may be I have ruined Cornelius, the
tulip, and myself. I have given the alarm, and perhaps
awakened suspicion. I am but a woman; these men may league
themselves against me, and then I shall be lost. If I am
lost that matters nothing, -- but Cornelius and the tulip!"
She reflected for a moment.
"If I go to that Boxtel, and do not know him; if that Boxtel
is not my Jacob, but another fancier, who has also
discovered the black tulip; or if my tulip has been stolen
by some one else, or has already passed into the hands of a
third person; -- if I do not recognize the man, only the
tulip, how shall I prove that it belongs to me? On the other
hand, if I recognise this Boxtel as Jacob, who knows what
will come out of it? whilst we are contesting with each
other, the tulip will die."
In the meanwhile, a great noise was heard, like the distant
roar of the sea, at the other extremity of the market-place.
People were running about, doors opening and shutting, Rosa
alone was unconscious of all this hubbub among the
"We must return to the President," she muttered.
"Well, then, let us return," said the boatman.
They took a small street, which led them straight to the
mansion of Mynheer van Systens, who with his best pen in his
finest hand continued to draw up his report.
Everywhere on her way Rosa heard people speaking only of the
black tulip, and the prize of a hundred thousand guilders.
The news had spread like wildfire through the town.
Rosa had not a little difficulty is penetrating a second
time into the office of Mynheer van Systens, who, however,
was again moved by the magic name of the black tulip.
But when he recognised Rosa, whom in his own mind he had set
down as mad, or even worse, he grew angry, and wanted to
send her away.
Rosa, however, clasped her hands, and said with that tone of
honest truth which generally finds its way to the hearts of
"For Heaven's sake, sir, do not turn me away; listen to what
I have to tell you, and if it be not possible for you to do
me justice, at least you will not one day have to reproach
yourself before God for having made yourself the accomplice
of a bad action."
Van Systens stamped his foot with impatience; it was the
second time that Rosa interrupted him in the midst of a
composition which stimulated his vanity, both as a
burgomaster and as President of the Horticultural Society.
"But my report!" he cried, -- "my report on the black
"Mynheer van Systens," Rosa continued, with the firmness of
innocence and truth, "your report on the black tulip will,
if you don't hear me, be based on crime or on falsehood. I
implore you, sir, let this Master Boxtel, whom I assert to
be Master Jacob, be brought here before you and me, and I
swear that I will leave him in undisturbed possession of the
tulip if I do not recognise the flower and its holder."
"Well, I declare, here is a proposal," said Van Systens.
"What do you mean?"
"I ask you what can be proved by your recognising them?"
"After all," said Rosa, in her despair, "you are an honest
man, sir; how would you feel if one day you found out that
you had given the prize to a man for something which he not
only had not produced, but which he had even stolen?"
Rosa's speech seemed to have brought a certain conviction
into the heart of Van Systens, and he was going to answer
her in a gentler tone, when at once a great noise was heard
in the street, and loud cheers shook the house.
"What is this?" cried the burgomaster; "what is this? Is it
possible? have I heard aright?"
And he rushed towards his anteroom, without any longer
heeding Rosa, whom he left in his cabinet.
Scarcely had he reached his anteroom when he cried out aloud
on seeing his staircase invaded, up to the very
landing-place, by the multitude, which was accompanying, or
rather following, a young man, simply clad in a
violet-coloured velvet, embroidered with silver; who, with a
certain aristocratic slowness, ascended the white stone
steps of the house.
In his wake followed two officers, one of the navy, and the
other of the cavalry.
Van Systens, having found his way through the frightened
domestics, began to bow, almost to prostrate himself before
his visitor, who had been the cause of all this stir.
"Monseigneur," he called out, "Monseigneur! What
distinguished honour is your Highness bestowing for ever on
my humble house by your visit?"
"Dear Mynheer van Systens," said William of Orange, with a
serenity which, with him, took the place of a smile, "I am a
true Hollander, I am fond of the water, of beer, and of
flowers, sometimes even of that cheese the flavour of which
seems so grateful to the French; the flower which I prefer
to all others is, of course, the tulip. I heard at Leyden
that the city of Haarlem at last possessed the black tulip;
and, after having satisfied myself of the truth of news
which seemed so incredible, I have come to know all about it
from the President of the Horticultural Society."
"Oh, Monseigneur, Monseigneur!" said Van Systens, "what
glory to the society if its endeavours are pleasing to your
"Have you got the flower here?" said the Prince, who, very
likely, already regretted having made such a long speech.
"I am sorry to say we have not."
"And where is it?"
"With its owner."
"Who is he?"
"An honest tulip-grower of Dort."
"At the White Swan; I shall send for him, and if in the
meanwhile your Highness will do me the honour of stepping
into my drawing-room, he will be sure -- knowing that your
Highness is here -- to lose no time in bringing his tulip."
"Very well, send for him."
"Yes, your Highness, but ----
"What is it?"
"Oh, nothing of any consequence, Monseigneur."
"Everything is of consequence, Mynheer van Systens."
"Well, then, Monseigneur, if it must be said, a little
difficulty has presented itself."
"This tulip has already been claimed by usurpers. It's true
that it is worth a hundred thousand guilders."
"Yes, Monseigneur, by usurpers, by forgers."
"This is a crime, Mynheer van Systens."
"So it is, your Highness."
"And have you any proofs of their guilt? '
"No, Monseigneur, the guilty woman ---- "
"The guilty woman, Sir?"
"I ought to say, the woman who claims the tulip,
Monseigneur, is here in the room close by."
"And what do you think of her?"
"I think, Monseigneur, that the bait of a hundred thousand
guilders may have tempted her."
"And so she claims the tulip?"
"And what proof does she offer?"
"I was just going to question her when your Highness came
"Question her, Mynheer van Systens, question her. I am the
first magistrate of the country; I will hear the case and
"I have found my King Solomon," said Van Systens, bowing,
and showing the way to the Prince.
His Highness was just going to walk ahead, but, suddenly
recollecting himself he said --
"Go before me, and call me plain Mynheer."
The two then entered the cabinet.
Rosa was still standing at the same place, leaning on the
window, and looking through the panes into the garden.
"Ah! a Frisian girl," said the Prince, as he observed Rosa's
gold brocade headdress and red petticoat.
At the noise of their footsteps she turned round, but
scarcely saw the Prince, who seated himself in the darkest
corner of the apartment.
All her attention, as may be easily imagined, was fixed on
that important person who was called Van Systens, so that
she had no time to notice the humble stranger who was
following the master of the house, and who, for aught she
knew, might be somebody or nobody.
The humble stranger took a book down from the shelf, and
made Van Systens a sign to commence the examination
Van Systens, likewise at the invitation of the young man in
the violet coat, sat down in his turn, and, quite happy and
proud of the importance thus cast upon him, began, --
"My child, you promise to tell me the truth and the entire
truth concerning this tulip?"
"Well, then, speak before this gentleman; this gentleman is
one of the members of the Horticultural Society."
"What am I to tell you, sir," said Rosa, "beside that which
I have told you already."
"Well, then, what is it?"
"I repeat the question I have addressed to you before."
"That you will order Mynheer Boxtel to come here with his
tulip. If I do not recognise it as mine I will frankly tell
it; but if I do recognise it I will reclaim it, even if I go
before his Highness the Stadtholder himself, with my proofs
in my hands."
"You have, then, some proofs, my child?"
"God, who knows my good right, will assist me to some."
Van Systens exchanged a look with the Prince, who, since the
first words of Rosa, seemed to try to remember her, as if it
were not for the first time that this sweet voice rang in
An officer went off to fetch Boxtel, and Van Systens in the
meanwhile continued his examination.
"And with what do you support your assertion that you are
the real owner of the black tulip?"
"With the very simple fact of my having planted and grown it
in my own chamber."
"In your chamber? Where was your chamber?"
"You are from Loewestein?"
"I am the daughter of the jailer of the fortress."
The Prince made a little movement, as much as to say, "Well,
that's it, I remember now."
And, all the while feigning to be engaged with his book, he
watched Rosa with even more attention than he had before.
"And you are fond of flowers?" continued Mynheer van
"Then you are an experienced florist, I dare say?"
Rosa hesitated a moment; then with a tone which came from
the depth of her heart, she said, --
"Gentlemen, I am speaking to men of honor."
There was such an expression of truth in the tone of her
voice, that Van Systens and the Prince answered
simultaneously by an affirmative movement of their heads.
"Well, then, I am not an experienced florist; I am only a
poor girl, one of the people, who, three months ago, knew
neither how to read nor how to write. No, the black tulip
has not been found by myself."
"But by whom else?"
"By a poor prisoner of Loewestein."
"By a prisoner of Loewestein?" repeated the Prince.
The tone of his voice startled Rosa, who was sure she had
heard it before.
"By a prisoner of state, then," continued the Prince, "as
there are none else there."
Having said this he began to read again, at least in
"Yes," said Rosa, with a faltering voice, "yes, by a
prisoner of state."
Van Systens trembled as he heard such a confession made in
the presence of such a witness.
"Continue," said William dryly, to the President of the
"Ah, sir," said Rosa, addressing the person whom she thought
to be her real judge, "I am going to incriminate myself very
"Certainly," said Van Systens, "the prisoner of state ought
to be kept in close confinement at Loewestein."
"And from what you tell me you took advantage of your
position, as daughter of the jailer, to communicate with a
prisoner of state about the cultivation of flowers."
"So it is, sir," Rosa murmured in dismay; "yes, I am bound
to confess, I saw him every day."
"Unfortunate girl!" exclaimed Van Systens.
The Prince, observing the fright of Rosa and the pallor of
the President, raised his head, and said, in his clear and
decided tone, --
"This cannot signify anything to the members of the
Horticultural Society; they have to judge on the black
tulip, and have no cognizance to take of political offences.
Go on, young woman, go on."
Van Systens, by means of an eloquent glance, offered, in the
name of the tulip, his thanks to the new member of the
Rosa, reassured by this sort of encouragement which the
stranger was giving her, related all that had happened for
the last three months, all that she had done, and all that
she had suffered. She described the cruelty of Gryphus; the
destruction of the first bulb; the grief of the prisoner;
the precautions taken to insure the success of the second
bulb; the patience of the prisoner and his anxiety during
their separation; how he was about to starve himself because
he had no longer any news of his tulip; his joy when she
went to see him again; and, lastly, their despair when they
found that the tulip which had come into flower was stolen
just one hour after it had opened.
All this was detailed with an accent of truth which,
although producing no change in the impassible mien of the
Prince, did not fail to take effect on Van Systens.
"But," said the Prince, "it cannot be long since you knew
Rosa opened her large eyes and looked at the stranger, who
drew back into the dark corner, as if he wished to escape
"Why, sir?" she asked him.
"Because it is not yet four months since the jailer Gryphus
and his daughter were removed to Loewestein."
"That is true, sir."
"Otherwise, you must have solicited the transfer of your
father, in order to be able to follow some prisoner who may
have been transported from the Hague to Loewestein."
"Sir," said Rosa, blushing.
"Finish what you have to say," said William.
"I confess I knew the prisoner at the Hague."
"Happy prisoner!" said William, smiling.
At this moment the officer who had been sent for Boxtel
returned, and announced to the Prince that the person whom
he had been to fetch was following on his heels with his tulip.
The Third Bulb
Boxtel's return was scarcely announced, when he entered in
person the drawing-room of Mynheer van Systens, followed by
two men, who carried in a box their precious burden and
deposited it on a table.
The Prince, on being informed, left the cabinet, passed into
the drawing-room, admired the flower, and silently resumed
his seat in the dark corner, where he had himself placed his
Rosa, trembling, pale and terrified, expected to be invited
in her turn to see the tulip.
She now heard the voice of Boxtel.
"It is he!" she exclaimed.
The Prince made her a sign to go and look through the open
door into the drawing-room.
"It is my tulip," cried Rosa, "I recognise it. Oh, my poor
And saying this she burst into tears.
The Prince rose from his seat, went to the door, where he
stood for some time with the full light falling upon his
As Rosa's eyes now rested upon him, she felt more than ever
convinced that this was not the first time she had seen the
"Master Boxtel," said the Prince, "come in here, if you
Boxtel eagerly approached, and, finding himself face to face
with William of Orange, started back.
"His Highness!" he called out.
"His Highness!" Rosa repeated in dismay.
Hearing this exclamation on his left, Boxtel turned round,
and perceived Rosa.
At this sight the whole frame of the thief shook as if under
the influence of a galvanic shock.
"Ah!" muttered the Prince to himself, "he is confused."
But Boxtel, making a violent effort to control his feelings,
was already himself again.
"Master Boxtel," said William, "you seem to have discovered
the secret of growing the black tulip?"
"Yes, your Highness," answered Boxtel, in a voice which
still betrayed some confusion.
It is true his agitation might have been attributable to the
emotion which the man must have felt on suddenly recognising
"But," continued the Stadtholder, "here is a young damsel
who also pretends to have found it."
Boxtel, with a disdainful smile, shrugged his shoulders.
William watched all his movements with evident interest and
"Then you don't know this young girl?" said the Prince.
"No, your Highness!"
"And you, child, do you know Master Boxtel?"
"No, I don't know Master Boxtel, but I know Master Jacob."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean to say that at Loewestein the man who here calls
himself Isaac Boxtel went by the name of Master Jacob."
"What do you say to that, Master Boxtel?"
"I say that this damsel lies, your Highness."
"You deny, therefore, having ever been at Loewestein?"
Boxtel hesitated; the fixed and searching glance of the
proud eye of the Prince prevented him from lying.
"I cannot deny having been at Loewestein, your Highness, but
I deny having stolen the tulip."
"You have stolen it, and that from my room," cried Rosa,
"I deny it."
"Now listen to me. Do you deny having followed me into the
garden, on the day when I prepared the border where I was to
plant it? Do you deny having followed me into the garden
when I pretended to plant it? Do you deny that, on that
evening, you rushed after my departure to the spot where you
hoped to find the bulb? Do you deny having dug in the ground
with your hands -- but, thank God! in vain, as it was a
stratagem to discover your intentions. Say, do you deny all
Boxtel did not deem it fit to answer these several charges,
but, turning to the Prince, continued, --
"I have now for twenty years grown tulips at Dort. I have
even acquired some reputation in this art; one of my hybrids
is entered in the catalogue under the name of an illustrious
personage. I have dedicated it to the King of Portugal. The
truth in the matter is as I shall now tell your Highness.
This damsel knew that I had produced the black tulip, and,
in concert with a lover of hers in the fortress of
Loewestein, she formed the plan of ruining me by
appropriating to herself the prize of a hundred thousand
guilders, which, with the help of your Highness's justice, I
hope to gain."
"Yah!" cried Rosa, beyond herself with anger.
"Silence!" said the Prince.
Then, turning to Boxtel, he said, --
"And who is that prisoner to whom you allude as the lover of
this young woman?"
Rosa nearly swooned, for Cornelius was designated as a
dangerous prisoner, and recommended by the Prince to the
especial surveillance of the jailer.
Nothing could have been more agreeable to Boxtel than this
"This prisoner," he said, "is a man whose name in itself
will prove to your Highness what trust you may place in his
probity. He is a prisoner of state, who was once condemned
"And his name?"
Rosa hid her face in her hands with a movement of despair.
"His name is Cornelius van Baerle," said Boxtel, "and he is
godson of that villain Cornelius de Witt."
The Prince gave a start, his generally quiet eye flashed,
and a death-like paleness spread over his impassible
He went up to Rosa, and with his finger, gave her a sign to
remove her hands from her face.
Rosa obeyed, as if under mesmeric influence, without having
seen the sign.
"It was, then to follow this man that you came to me at
Leyden to solicit for the transfer of your father?"
Rosa hung down her head, and, nearly choking, said, --
"Yes, your Highness."
"Go on," said the Prince to Boxtel.
"I have nothing more to say," Isaac continued. "Your
Highness knows all. But there is one thing which I did not
intend to say, because I did not wish to make this girl
blush for her ingratitude. I came to Loewestein because I
had business there. On this occasion I made the acquaintance
of old Gryphus, and, falling in love with his daughter, made
an offer of marriage to her; and, not being rich, I
committed the imprudence of mentioning to them my prospect
of gaining a hundred thousand guilders, in proof of which I
showed to them the black tulip. Her lover having himself
made a show at Dort of cultivating tulips to hide his
political intrigues, they now plotted together for my ruin.
On the eve of the day when the flower was expected to open,
the tulip was taken away by this young woman. She carried it
to her room, from which I had the good luck to recover it at
the very moment when she had the impudence to despatch a
messenger to announce to the members of the Horticultural
Society that she had produced the grand black tulip. But she
did not stop there. There is no doubt that, during the few
hours which she kept the flower in her room, she showed it
to some persons whom she may now call as witnesses. But,
fortunately, your Highness has now been warned against this
impostor and her witnesses."
"Oh, my God, my God! what infamous falsehoods!" said Rosa,
bursting into tears, and throwing herself at the feet of the
Stadtholder, who, although thinking her guilty, felt pity
for her dreadful agony.
"You have done very wrong, my child," he said, "and your
lover shall be punished for having thus badly advised you.
For you are so young, and have such an honest look, that I
am inclined to believe the mischief to have been his doing,
and not yours."
"Monseigneur! Monseigneur!" cried Rosa, "Cornelius is not
"Not guilty of having advised you? that's what you want to
say, is it not?"
"What I wish to say, your Highness, is that Cornelius is as
little guilty of the second crime imputed to him as he was
of the first."
"Of the first? And do you know what was his first crime? Do
you know of what he was accused and convicted? Of having, as
an accomplice of Cornelius de Witt, concealed the
correspondence of the Grand Pensionary and the Marquis de
"Well, sir, he was ignorant of this correspondence being
deposited with him; completely ignorant. I am as certain as
of my life, that, if it were not so, he would have told me;
for how could that pure mind have harboured a secret without
revealing it to me? No, no, your Highness, I repeat it, and
even at the risk of incurring your displeasure, Cornelius is
no more guilty of the first crime than of the second; and of
the second no more than of the first. Oh, would to Heaven
that you knew my Cornelius; Monseigneur!"
"He is a De Witt!" cried Boxtel. "His Highness knows only
too much of him, having once granted him his life."
"Silence!" said the Prince; "all these affairs of state, as
I have already said, are completely out of the province of
the Horticultural Society of Haarlem."
Then, knitting his brow, he added, --
"As to the tulip, make yourself easy, Master Boxtel, you
shall have justice done to you."
Boxtel bowed with a heart full of joy, and received the
congratulations of the President.
"You, my child," William of Orange continued, "you were
going to commit a crime. I will not punish you; but the real
evil-doer shall pay the penalty for both. A man of his name
may be a conspirator, and even a traitor, but he ought not
to be a thief."
"A thief!" cried Rosa. "Cornelius a thief? Pray, your
Highness, do not say such a word, it would kill him, if he
knew it. If theft there has been, I swear to you, Sir, no
one else but this man has committed it."
"Prove it," Boxtel coolly remarked.
"I shall prove it. With God's help I shall."
Then, turning towards Boxtel, she asked, --
"The tulip is yours?"
"How many bulbs were there of it?"
Boxtel hesitated for a moment, but after a short
consideration he came to the conclusion that she would not
ask this question if there were none besides the two bulbs
of which he had known already. He therefore answered, --
"What has become of these bulbs?"
"Oh! what has become of them? Well, one has failed; the
second has produced the black tulip."
"And the third?
"The third, -- where is it?"
"I have it at home," said Boxtel, quite confused.
"At home? Where? At Loewestein, or at Dort?"
"At Dort," said Boxtel.
"You lie!" cried Rosa. "Monseigneur," she continued, whilst
turning round to the Prince, "I will tell you the true story
of these three bulbs. The first was crushed by my father in
the prisoner's cell, and this man is quite aware of it, for
he himself wanted to get hold of it, and, being balked in
his hope, he very nearly fell out with my father, who had
been the cause of his disappointment. The second bulb,
planted by me, has produced the black tulip, and the third
and last" -- saying this, she drew it from her bosom --
"here it is, in the very same paper in which it was wrapped
up together with the two others. When about to be led to the
scaffold, Cornelius van Baerle gave me all the three. Take
it, Monseigneur, take it."
And Rosa, unfolding the paper, offered the bulb to the
Prince, who took it from her hands and examined it.
"But, Monseigneur, this young woman may have stolen the
bulb, as she did the tulip," Boxtel said, with a faltering
voice, and evidently alarmed at the attention with which the
Prince examined the bulb; and even more at the movements of
Rosa, who was reading some lines written on the paper which
remained in her hands.
Her eyes suddenly lighted up; she read, with breathless
anxiety, the mysterious paper over and over again; and at
last, uttering a cry, held it out to the Prince and said,
"Read, Monseigneur, for Heaven's sake, read!"
William handed the third bulb to Van Systens, took the
paper, and read.
No sooner had he looked at it than he began to stagger; his
hand trembled, and very nearly let the paper fall to the
ground; and the expression of pain and compassion in his
features was really frightful to see.
It was that fly-leaf, taken from the Bible, which Cornelius
de Witt had sent to Dort by Craeke, the servant of his
brother John, to request Van Baerle to burn the
correspondence of the Grand Pensionary with the Marquis de
This request, as the reader may remember, was couched in the
following terms: --
"My Dear Godson, --
"Burn the parcel which I have intrusted to you. Burn it
without looking at it, and without opening it, so that its
contents may for ever remain unknown to yourself. Secrets of
this description are death to those with whom they are
deposited. Burn it, and you will have saved John and
Cornelius de Witt.
"Farewell, and love me.
Cornelius de Witt.
"August 20, 1672."
This slip of paper offered the proofs both of Van Baerle's
innocence and of his claim to the property of the tulip.
Rosa and the Stadtholder exchanged one look only.
That of Rosa was meant to express, "Here, you see yourself."
That of the Stadtholder signified, "Be quiet, and wait."
The Prince wiped the cold sweat from his forehead, and
slowly folded up the paper, whilst his thoughts were
wandering in that labyrinth without a goal and without a
guide, which is called remorse and shame for the past.
Soon, however, raising his head with an effort, he said, in
his usual voice, --
"Go, Mr. Boxtel; justice shall be done, I promise you."
Then, turning to the President, he added, --
"You, my dear Mynheer van Systens, take charge of this young
woman and of the tulip. Good-bye."
All bowed, and the Prince left, among the deafening cheers
of the crowd outside.
Boxtel returned to his inn, rather puzzled and uneasy,
tormented by misgivings about that paper which William had
received from the hand of Rosa, and which his Highness had
read, folded up, and so carefully put in his pocket. What
was the meaning of all this?
Rosa went up to the tulip, tenderly kissed its leaves and,
with a heart full of happiness and confidence in the ways of
God, broke out in the words, --
"Thou knowest best for what end Thou madest my good
Cornelius teach me to read."
The Hymn of the Flowers
Whilst the events we have described in our last chapter were
taking place, the unfortunate Van Baerle, forgotten in his
cell in the fortress of Loewestein, suffered at the hands of
Gryphus all that a prisoner can suffer when his jailer has
formed the determination of playing the part of hangman.
Gryphus, not having received any tidings of Rosa or of
Jacob, persuaded himself that all that had happened was the
devil's work, and that Dr. Cornelius van Baerle had been
sent on earth by Satan.
The result of it was, that, one fine morning, the third
after the disappearance of Jacob and Rosa, he went up to the
cell of Cornelius in even a greater rage than usual.
The latter, leaning with his elbows on the window-sill and
supporting his head with his two hands, whilst his eyes
wandered over the distant hazy horizon where the windmills
of Dort were turning their sails, was breathing the fresh
air, in order to be able to keep down his tears and to
fortify himself in his philosophy.
The pigeons were still there, but hope was not there; there
was no future to look forward to.
Alas! Rosa, being watched, was no longer able to come. Could
she not write? and if so, could she convey her letters to
No, no. He had seen during the two preceding days too much
fury and malignity in the eyes of old Gryphus to expect that
his vigilance would relax, even for one moment. Moreover,
had not she to suffer even worse torments than those of
seclusion and separation? Did this brutal, blaspheming,
drunken bully take revenge on his daughter, like the
ruthless fathers of the Greek drama? And when the Genievre
had heated his brain, would it not give to his arm, which
had been only too well set by Cornelius, even double force?
The idea that Rosa might perhaps be ill-treated nearly drove
He then felt his own powerlessness. He asked himself whether
God was just in inflicting so much tribulation on two
innocent creatures. And certainly in these moments he began
to doubt the wisdom of Providence. It is one of the curses
of misfortune that it thus begets doubt.
Van Baerle had proposed to write to Rosa, but where was she?
He also would have wished to write to the Hague to be
beforehand with Gryphus, who, he had no doubt, would by
denouncing him do his best to bring new storms on his head.
But how should he write? Gryphus had taken the paper and
pencil from him, and even if he had both, he could hardly
expect Gryphus to despatch his letter.
Then Cornelius revolved in his mind all those stratagems
resorted to by unfortunate prisoners.
He had thought of an attempt to escape, a thing which never
entered his head whilst he could see Rosa every day; but the
more he thought of it, the more clearly he saw the
impracticability of such an attempt. He was one of those
choice spirits who abhor everything that is common, and who
often lose a good chance through not taking the way of the
vulgar, that high road of mediocrity which leads to
"How is it possible," said Cornelius to himself, "that I
should escape from Loewestein, as Grotius has done the same
thing before me? Has not every precaution been taken since?
Are not the windows barred? Are not the doors of double and
even of treble strength, and the sentinels ten times more
watchful? And have not I, besides all this, an Argus so much
the more dangerous as he has the keen eyes of hatred?
Finally, is there not one fact which takes away all my
spirit, I mean Rosa's absence? But suppose I should waste
ten years of my life in making a file to file off my bars,
or in braiding cords to let myself down from the window, or
in sticking wings on my shoulders to fly, like Daedalus? But
luck is against me now. The file would get dull, the rope
would break, or my wings would melt in the sun; I should
surely kill myself, I should be picked up maimed and
crippled; I should be labelled, and put on exhibition in the
museum at the Hague between the blood-stained doublet of
William the Taciturn and the female walrus captured at
Stavesen, and the only result of my enterprise will have
been to procure me a place among the curiosities of Holland.
"But no; and it is much better so. Some fine day Gryphus
will commit some atrocity. I am losing my patience, since I
have lost the joy and company of Rosa, and especially since
I have lost my tulip. Undoubtedly, some day or other Gryphus
will attack me in a manner painful to my self-respect, or to
my love, or even threaten my personal safety. I don't know
how it is, but since my imprisonment I feel a strange and
almost irresistible pugnacity. Well, I shall get at the
throat of that old villain, and strangle him."
Cornelius at these words stopped for a moment, biting his
lips and staring out before him; then, eagerly returning to
an idea which seemed to possess a strange fascination for
him, he continued, --
"Well, and once having strangled him, why should I not take
his keys from him, why not go down the stairs as if I had
done the most virtuous action, why not go and fetch Rosa
from her room, why not tell her all, and jump from her
window into the Waal? I am expert enough as a swimmer to
save both of us. Rosa, -- but, oh Heaven, Gryphus is her
father! Whatever may be her affection for me, she will never
approve of my having strangled her father, brutal and
malicious as he has been.
"I shall have to enter into an argument with her; and in the
midst of my speech some wretched turnkey who has found
Gryphus with the death-rattle in his throat, or perhaps
actually dead, will come along and put his hand on my
shoulder. Then I shall see the Buytenhof again, and the
gleam of that infernal sword, -- which will not stop
half-way a second time, but will make acquaintance with the
nape of my neck.
"It will not do, Cornelius, my fine fellow, -- it is a bad
plan. But, then, what is to become of me, and how shall I
find Rosa again?"
Such were the cogitations of Cornelius three days after the
sad scene of separation from Rosa, at the moment when we
find him standing at the window.
And at that very moment Gryphus entered.
He held in his hand a huge stick, his eyes glistening with
spiteful thoughts, a malignant smile played round his lips,
and the whole of his carriage, and even all his movements,
betokened bad and malicious intentions.
Cornelius heard him enter, and guessed that it was he, but
did not turn round, as he knew well that Rosa was not coming
There is nothing more galling to angry people than the
coolness of those on whom they wish to vent their spleen.
The expense being once incurred, one does not like to lose
it; one's passion is roused, and one's blood boiling, so it
would be labour lost not to have at least a nice little row.
Gryphus, therefore, on seeing that Cornelius did not stir,
tried to attract his attention by a loud --
Cornelius was humming between his teeth the "Hymn of
Flowers," -- a sad but very charming song, --
"We are the daughters of the secret fire
Of the fire which runs through the veins of the earth;
We are the daughters of Aurora and of the dew;
We are the daughters of the air;
We are the daughters of the water;
But we are, above all, the daughters of heaven."
This song, the placid melancholy of which was still
heightened by its calm and sweet melody, exasperated Gryphus.
He struck his stick on the stone pavement of the cell,
and called out, --
"Halloa! my warbling gentleman, don't you hear me?"
Cornelius turned round, merely saying, "Good morning," and
then began his song again: --
"Men defile us and kill us while loving us,
We hang to the earth by a thread;
This thread is our root, that is to say, our life,
But we raise on high our arms towards heaven."
"Ah, you accursed sorcerer! you are making game of me, I
believe," roared Gryphus.
Cornelius continued: --
"For heaven is our home,
Our true home, as from thence comes our soul,
As thither our soul returns, --
Our soul, that is to say, our perfume."
Gryphus went up to the prisoner and said, --
"But you don't see that I have taken means to get you under,
and to force you to confess your crimes."
"Are you mad, my dear Master Gryphus?" asked Cornelius.
And, as he now for the first time observed the frenzied
features, the flashing eyes, and foaming mouth of the old
jailer, he said, --
"Bless the man, he is more than mad, he is furious."
Gryphus flourished his stick above his head, but Van Baerle
moved not, and remained standing with his arms akimbo.
"It seems your intention to threaten me, Master Gryphus."
"Yes, indeed, I threaten you," cried the jailer.
"And with what?"
"First of all, look at what I have in my hand."
"I think that's a stick," said Cornelius calmly, "but I
don't suppose you will threaten me with that."
"Oh, you don't suppose! why not?"
"Because any jailer who strikes a prisoner is liable to two
penalties, -- the first laid down in Article 9 of the
regulations at Loewestein: --
"'Any jailer, inspector, or turnkey who lays hands upon any
prisoner of State will be dismissed.'"
"Yes, who lays hands," said Gryphus, mad with rage, "but
there is not a word about a stick in the regulation."
"And the second," continued Cornelius, "which is not written
in the regulation, but which is to be found elsewhere: --
"'Whosoever takes up the stick will be thrashed by the
Gryphus, growing more and more exasperated by the calm and
sententious tone of Cornelius, brandished his cudgel, but at
the moment when he raised it Cornelius rushed at him,
snatched it from his hands, and put it under his own arm.
Gryphus fairly bellowed with rage.
"Hush, hush, my good man," said Cornelius, "don't do
anything to lose your place."
"Ah, you sorcerer! I'll pinch you worse," roared Gryphus.
"I wish you may."
"Don't you see my hand is empty?"
"Yes, I see it, and I am glad of it."
"You know that it is not generally so when I come upstairs
in the morning."
"It's true, you generally bring me the worst soup, and the
most miserable rations one can imagine. But that's not a
punishment to me; I eat only bread, and the worse the bread
is to your taste, the better it is to mine."
"Oh, it's a very simple thing."
"Well, tell it me," said Gryphus.
"Very willingly. I know that in giving me bad bread you
think you do me harm."
"Certainly; I don't give it you to please you, you brigand."
"Well, then, I, who am a sorcerer, as you know, change your
bad into excellent bread, which I relish more than the best
cake; and then I have the double pleasure of eating
something that gratifies my palate, and of doing something
that puts you in a rage.
Gryphus answered with a growl.
"Oh! you confess, then, that you are a sorcerer."
"Indeed, I am one. I don't say it before all the world,
because they might burn me for it, but as we are alone, I
don't mind telling you."
"Well, well, well," answered Gryphus. "But if a sorcerer can
change black bread into white, won't he die of hunger if he
has no bread at all?"
"What's that?" said Cornelius.
"Consequently, I shall not bring you any bread at all, and
we shall see how it will be after eight days."
Cornelius grew pale.
"And," continued Gryphus, "we'll begin this very day. As you
are such a clever sorcerer, why, you had better change the
furniture of your room into bread; as to myself, I shall
pocket the eighteen sous which are paid to me for your
"But that's murder," cried Cornelius, carried away by the
first impulse of the very natural terror with which this
horrible mode of death inspired him.
"Well," Gryphus went on, in his jeering way, "as you are a
sorcerer, you will live, notwithstanding."
Cornelius put on a smiling face again, and said, --
"Have you not seen me make the pigeons come here from Dort?"
"Well?" said Gryphus.
"Well, a pigeon is a very dainty morsel, and a man who eats
one every day would not starve, I think."
"And how about the fire?" said Gryphus.
"Fire! but you know that I'm in league with the devil. Do
you think the devil will leave me without fire? Why, fire is
his proper element."
"A man, however healthy his appetite may be, would not eat a
pigeon every day. Wagers have been laid to do so, and those
who made them gave them up."
"Well, but when I am tired of pigeons, I shall make the fish
of the Waal and of the Meuse come up to me."
Gryphus opened his large eyes, quite bewildered.
"I am rather fond of fish," continued Cornelius; "you never
let me have any. Well, I shall turn your starving me to
advantage, and regale myself with fish."
Gryphus nearly fainted with anger and with fright, but he
soon rallied, and said, putting his hand in his pocket, --
"Well, as you force me to it," and with these words he drew
forth a clasp-knife and opened it.
"Halloa! a knife?" said Cornelius, preparing to defend