Part 1 out of 18
Contributed by Neil McLachlan, email@example.com
and Ted Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cloister and the Hearth
by Charles Reade
1. Greek passages are enclosed in angled brackets, (e.g.
alpha A, a
beta B, b
gamma G, g
delta D, d
epsilon E, e
zeta Z, z
eta Y, y
theta Th, th
iota I, i
kappa K, k
lamda L, l
mu M, m
nu N, n
omicron O, o
pi P, p
rho R, r
sigma S, s
tau T, t
phi Ph, ph
chi Ch, ch
psi Ps, ps
xi X, x
upsilon U, u
omega W, w
2. All diacritics have been removed from this version
3. References for the Author's footnotes are enclosed in square
brackets(e.g. ) and collected at the end of the chapter they
4. There are 100 chapters in the book, each starting with CHAPTER R,
where R is the chapter number expressed as a Roman numeral.
A small portion of this tale appeared in Once a Week, July-
September, 1859, under the title of "A Good Fight."
After writing it, I took wider views of the subject, and also felt
uneasy at having deviated unnecessarily from the historical
outline of a true story. These two sentiments have cost me more
than a year's very hard labour, which I venture to think has not
been wasted. After this plain statement I trust all who comment on
this work will see that to describe it as a reprint would be
unfair to the public and to me. The English language is copious,
and, in any true man's hands, quite able to convey the truth-
namely, that one-fifth of the present work is a reprint, and four-
fifths of it a new composition.
Not a day passes over the earth, but men and women of no note do
great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows. of these
obscure heroes, philosophers, and martyrs, the greater part will
never be known till that hour, when many that are great shall be
small, and the small great; but of others the world's knowledge
may be said to sleep: their lives and characters lie hidden from
nations in the annals that record them. The general reader cannot
feel them, they are presented so curtly and coldly: they are not
like breathing stories appealing to his heart, but little historic
hail-stones striking him but to glance off his bosom: nor can he
understand them; for epitomes are not narratives, as skeletons are
not human figures.
Thus records of prime truths remain a dead letter to plain folk:
the writers have left so much to the imagination, and imagination
is so rare a gift. Here, then, the writer of fiction may be of use
to the public - as an interpreter.
There is a musty chronicle, written in intolerable Latin, and in
it a chapter where every sentence holds a fact. Here is told, with
harsh brevity, the strange history of a pair, who lived
untrumpeted, and died unsung, four hundred years ago; and lie now,
as unpitied, in that stern page, as fossils in a rock. Thus,
living or dead, Fate is still unjust to them. For if I can but
show you what lies below that dry chronicler's words, methinks you
will correct the indifference of centuries, and give those two
sore-tried souls a place in your heart - for a day.
It was past the middle of the fifteenth century; Louis XI was
sovereign of France; Edward IV was wrongful king of England; and
Philip "the Good," having by force and cunning dispossessed his
cousin Jacqueline, and broken her heart, reigned undisturbed this
many years in Holland, where our tale begins.
Elias, and Catherine his wife, lived in the little town of Tergou.
He traded, wholesale and retail, in cloth, silk, brown holland,
and, above all, in curried leather, a material highly valued by
the middling people, because it would stand twenty years' wear,
and turn an ordinary knife, no small virtue in a jerkin of that
century, in which folk were so liberal of their steel; even at
dinner a man would leave his meat awhile, and carve you his
neighbour, on a very moderate difference of opinion.
The couple were well to do, and would have been free from all
earthly care, but for nine children. When these were coming into
the world, one per annum, each was hailed with rejoicings, and the
saints were thanked, not expostulated with; and when parents and
children were all young together, the latter were looked upon as
lovely little playthings invented by Heaven for the amusement,
joy, and evening solace of people in business.
But as the olive-branches shot up, and the parents grew older, and
saw with their own eyes the fate of large families, misgivings and
care mingled with their love. They belonged to a singularly wise
and provident people: in Holland reckless parents were as rare as
disobedient children. So now when the huge loaf came in on a
gigantic trencher, looking like a fortress in its moat, and, the
tour of the table once made, seemed to have melted away, Elias and
Catherine would look at one another and say, "Who is to find bread
for them all when we are gone?"
At this observation the younger ones needed all their filial
respect to keep their little Dutch countenances; for in their
opinion dinner and supper came by nature like sunrise and sunset,
and, so long as that luminary should travel round the earth, so
long as the brown loaf go round their family circle, and set in
their stomachs only to rise again in the family oven. But the
remark awakened the national thoughtfulness of the elder boys, and
being often repeated, set several of the family thinking, some of
them good thoughts, some ill thoughts, according to the nature of
"Kate, the children grow so, this table will soon be too small."
"We cannot afford it, Eli," replied Catherine, answering not his
words, but his thought, after the manner of women.
Their anxiety for the future took at times a less dismal but more
mortifying turn. The free burghers had their pride as well as the
nobles; and these two could not bear that any of their blood
should go down in the burgh after their decease.
So by prudence and self-denial they managed to clothe all the
little bodies, and feed all the great mouths, and yet put by a
small hoard to meet the future; and, as it grew and grew, they
felt a pleasure the miser hoarding for himself knows not.
One day the eldest boy but one, aged nineteen, came to his mother,
and, with that outward composure which has so misled some persons
as to the real nature of this people, begged her to intercede with
his father to send him to Amsterdam, and place him with a
merchant. "It is the way of life that likes me: merchants are
wealthy; I am good at numbers; prithee, good mother, take my part
in this, and I shall ever be, as I am now, your debtor."
Catherine threw up her hands with dismay and incredulity.
"What! leave Tergou!"
"What is one street to me more than another? If I can leave the
folk of Tergou, I can surely leave the stones."
"What! quit your poor father now he is no longer young?"
"Mother, if I can leave you, I can leave"
"What! leave your poor brothers and sisters, that love you so
"There are enough in the house without me."
"What mean you, Richart? Who is more thought of than you Stay,
have I spoken sharp to you? Have I been unkind to you?"
"Never that I know of; and if you had, you should never hear of it
from me. Mother," said Richart gravely, but the tear was in his
eye, "it all lies in a word, and nothing can change my mind. There
will be one mouth less for you to feed.'
"There now, see what my tongue has done," said Catherine, and the
next moment she began to cry. For she saw her first young bird on
the edge of the nest trying his wings to fly into the world.
Richart had a calm, strong will, and she knew he never wasted a
It ended as nature has willed all such discourse shall end: young
Richart went to Amsterdam with a face so long and sad as it had
never been seen before, and a heart like granite.
That afternoon at supper there was one mouth less. Catherine
looked at Richart's chair and wept bitterly. On this Elias shouted
roughly and angrily to the children, "Sit wider, can't ye: sit
wider!" and turned his head away over the back of his seat awhile,
and was silent.
Richart was launched, and never cost them another penny; but to
fit him out and place him in the house of Vander Stegen, the
merchant, took all the little hoard but one gold crown. They began
again. Two years passed, Richart found a niche in commerce for his
brother Jacob, and Jacob left Tergou directly after dinner, which
was at eleven in the forenoon. At supper that day Elias remembered
what had happened the last time; so it was in a low whisper he
said, "Sit wider, dears!" Now until that moment, Catherine would
not see the gap at table, for her daughter Catherine had besought
her not to grieve to-night, and she had said, "No, sweetheart, I
promise I will not, since it vexes my children." But when Elias
whispered "Sit wider!" says she, "Ay! the table will soon be too
big for the children, and you thought it would be too small;" and
having delivered this with forced calmness. she put up her apron
the next moment, and wept sore.
"'Tis the best that leave us," sobbed she; "that is the cruel
"Nay! nay!" said Elias, "our children are good children, and all
are dear to us alike. Heed her not! What God takes from us still
seems better that what He spares to us; that is to say, men are by
nature unthankful - and women silly."
"And I say Richart and Jacob were the flower of the flock," sobbed
The little coffer was empty again, and to fill it they gathered
like ants. In those days speculation was pretty much confined to
the card-and-dice business. Elias knew no way to wealth but the
slow and sure one. "A penny saved is a penny gained," was his
humble creed. All that was not required for the business and the
necessaries of life went into the little coffer with steel bands
and florid key. They denied themselves in turn the humblest
luxuries, and then, catching one another's looks, smiled; perhaps
with a greater joy than self-indulgence has to bestow. And so in
three years more they had gleaned enough to set up their fourth
son as a master-tailor, and their eldest daughter as a robemaker,
in Tergou. Here were two more provided for: their own trade would
enable them to throw work into the hands of this pair. But the
coffer was drained to the dregs, and this time the shop too bled a
little in goods if not in coin.
Alas! there remained on hand two that were unable to get their
bread, and two that were unwilling. The unable ones were, 1,
Giles, a dwarf, of the wrong sort, half stupidity, half malice,
all head and claws and voice, run from by dogs and unprejudiced
females, and sided with through thick and thin by his mother; 2,
Little Catherine, a poor little girl that could only move on
crutches. She lived in pain, but smiled through it, with her
marble face and violet eyes and long silky lashes; and fretful or
repining word never came from her lips. The unwilling ones were
Sybrandt, the youngest, a ne'er-do-weel, too much in love with
play to work; and Cornelis, the eldest, who had made calculations,
and stuck to the hearth, waiting for dead men's shoes. Almost worn
out by their repeated efforts, and above all dispirited by the
moral and physical infirmities of those that now remained on hand,
the anxious couple would often say, "What will become of all these
when we shall be no longer here to take care of them?" But when
they had said this a good many times, suddenly the domestic
horizon cleared, and then they used still to say it, because a
habit is a habit, but they uttered it half mechanically now, and
added brightly and cheerfully, "But thanks to St. Bavon and all
the saints, there's Gerard."
Young Gerard was for many years of his life a son apart and he was
going into the Church, and the Church could always maintain her
children by hook or by crook in those days: no great hopes,
because his family had no interest with the great to get him a
benefice, and the young man's own habits were frivolous, and,
indeed, such as our cloth merchant would not have put up with in
any one but a clerk that was to be. His trivialities were reading
and penmanship, and he was so wrapped up in them that often he
could hardly be got away to his meals. The day was never long
enough for him; and he carried ever a tinder-box and brimstone
matches, and begged ends of candles of the neighbours, which he
lighted at unreasonable hours - ay, even at eight of the clock at
night in winter, when the very burgomaster was abed. Endured at
home, his practices were encouraged by the monks of a neighbouring
convent. They had taught him penmanship, and continued to teach
him until one day they discovered, in the middle of a lesson, that
he was teaching them. They pointed this out to him in a merry way:
he hung his head and blushed: he had suspected as much himself,
but mistrusted his judgment in so delicate a matter. "But, my
son," said an elderly monk, "how is it that you, to whom God has
given an eye so true, a hand so subtle yet firm, and a heart to
love these beautiful crafts, how is it you do not colour as well
as write? A scroll looks but barren unless a border of fruit, and
leaves, and rich arabesques surround the good words, and charm the
sense as those do the soul and understanding; to say nothing of
the pictures of holy men and women departed, with which the
several chapters should be adorned, and not alone the eye soothed
with the brave and sweetly blended colours, but the heart lifted
by effigies of the saints in glory. Answer me, my son."
At this Gerard was confused, and muttered that he had made several
trials at illuminating, but had not succeeded well; and thus the
Soon after this a fellow-enthusiast came on the scene in the
unwonted form of an old lady. Margaret, sister and survivor of the
brothers Van Eyck, left Flanders, and came to end her days in her
native country. She bought a small house near Tergou. In course of
time she heard of Gerard, and saw some of his handiwork: it
pleased her so well that she sent her female servant, Reicht
Heynes, to ask him to come to her. This led to an acquaintance: it
could hardly be otherwise, for little Tergou had never held so
many as two zealots of this sort before. At first the old lady
damped Gerard's courage terribly. At each visit she fished out of
holes and corners drawings and paintings, some of them by her own
hand, that seemed to him unapproachable; but if the artist
overpowered him, the woman kept his heart up. She and Reicht soon
turned him inside out like a glove: among other things, they drew
from him what the good monks had failed to hit upon, the reason
why he did not illuminate, viz., that he could not afford the
gold, the blue, and the red, but only the cheap earths; and that
he was afraid to ask his mother to buy the choice colours, and was
sure he should ask her in vain. Then Margaret Van Eyck gave him a
little brush - gold, and some vermilion and ultramarine, and a
piece of good vellum to lay them on. He almost adored her. As he
left the house Reicht ran after him with a candle and two
quarters: he quite kissed her. But better even than the gold and
lapis-lazuli to the illuminator was the sympathy to the isolated
enthusiast. That sympathy was always ready, and, as he returned
it, an affection sprung up between the old painter and the young
caligrapher that was doubly characteristic of the time. For this
was a century in which the fine arts and the higher mechanical
arts were not separated by any distinct boundary, nor were those
who practised them; and it was an age in which artists sought out
and loved one another. Should this last statement stagger a
painter or writer of our day, let me remind him that even
Christians loved one another at first starting.
Backed by an acquaintance so venerable, and strengthened by female
sympathy, Gerard advanced in learning and skill. His spirits, too,
rose visibly: he still looked behind him when dragged to dinner in
the middle of an initial G; but once seated, showed great social
qualities; likewise a gay humour, that had hitherto but peeped in
him, shone out, and often he set the table in a roar, and kept it
there, sometimes with his own wit, sometimes with jests which were
glossy new to his family, being drawn from antiquity.
As a return for all he owed his friends the monks, he made them
exquisite copies from two of their choicest MSS., viz., the life
of their founder, and their Comedies of Terence, the monastery
finding the vellum.
The high and puissant Prince, Philip "the Good," Duke of Burgundy,
Luxemburg, and Brabant, Earl of Holland and Zealand, Lord of
Friesland, Count of Flanders, Artois, and Hainault, Lord of Salins
and Macklyn - was versatile.
He could fight as well as any king going; and lie could lie as
well as any, except the King of France. He was a mighty hunter,
and could read and write. His tastes were wide and ardent. He
loved jewels like a woman, and gorgeous apparel. He dearly loved
maids of honour, and indeed paintings generally; in proof of which
he ennobled Jan Van Eyck. He had also a rage for giants, dwarfs,
and Turks. These last stood ever planted about him, turbaned and
blazing with jewels. His agents inveigled them from Istamboul with
fair promises; but the moment he had got them, he baptized them by
brute force in a large tub; and this done, let them squat with
their faces towards Mecca, and invoke Mahound as much as they
pleased, laughing in his sleeve at their simplicity in fancying
they were still infidels. He had lions in cages, and fleet
leopards trained by Orientals to run down hares and deer. In
short, he relished all rarities, except the humdrum virtues. For
anything singularly pretty or diabolically ugly, this was your
customer. The best of him was, he was openhanded to the poor; and
the next best was, he fostered the arts in earnest: whereof he now
gave a signal proof. He offered prizes for the best specimens of
orfevrerie in two kinds, religious and secular: item, for the best
paintings in white of egg, oils, and tempera; these to be on
panel, silk, or metal, as the artists chose: item, for the best
transparent painting on glass: item, for the best illuminating and
border-painting on vellum: item, for the fairest writing on
vellum. The burgomasters of the several towns were commanded to
aid all the poorer competitors by receiving their specimens and
sending them with due care to Rotterdam at the expense of their
several burghs. When this was cried by the bellman through the
streets of Tergou, a thousand mouths opened, and one heart beat -
Gerard's. He told his family timidly he should try for two of
those prizes. They stared in silence, for their breath was gone at
his audacity; but one horrid laugh exploded on the floor like a
petard. Gerard looked down, and there was the dwarf, slit and
fanged from ear to ear at his expense, and laughing like a lion.
Nature, relenting at having made Giles so small, had given him as
a set-off the biggest voice on record. His very whisper was a
bassoon. He was like those stunted wide-mouthed pieces of ordnance
we see on fortifications; more like a flower-pot than a cannon;
but ods tympana how they bellow!
Gerard turned red with anger, the more so as the others began to
titter. White Catherine saw, and a pink tinge came on her cheek.
She said softly, "Why do you laugh? Is it because he is our
brother you think he cannot be capable? Yes, Gerard, try with the
rest. Many say you are skilful; and mother and I will pray the
Virgin to guide your hand."
"Thank you, little Kate. You shall pray to our Lady, and our
mother shall buy me vellum and the colours to illuminate with."
"What will they cost, my lad?"
"Two gold crowns" (about three shillings and fourpence English
"What!" screamed the housewife, "when the bushel of rye costs but
a groat! What! me spend a month's meal and meat and fire on such
vanity as that: the lightning from Heaven would fall on me, and my
children would all be beggars."
"Mother!" sighed little Catherine, imploringly.
"Oh! it is in vain, Kate," said Gerard, with a sigh. "I shall have
to give it up, or ask the dame Van Eyck. She would give it me, but
I think shame to be for ever taking from her."
"It is not her affair," said Catherine, very sharply; "what has
she to do coming between me and my sun?" and she left the room
with a red face. Little Catherine smiled. Presently the housewife
returned with a gracious, affectionate air, and two little gold
pieces in her hand.
"There, sweetheart," said she, "you won't have to trouble dame or
demoiselle for two paltry crowns."
But on this Gerard fell a thinking how he could spare her purse.
"One will do, mother. I will ask the good monks to let me send my
copy of their 'Terence:' it is on snowy vellum, and I can write no
better: so then I shall only need six sheets of vellum for my
borders and miniatures, and gold for my ground, and prime colours
- one crown will do.'
"Never tyne the ship for want of a bit of tar, Gerard," said his
changeable mother. But she added, "Well, there, I will put the
crown in my pocket. That won't be like putting it back in the box.
Going to the box to take out instead of putting in, it is like
going to my heart with a knife for so many drops of blood. You
will be sure to want it, Gerard. The house is never built for less
than the builder counted on."
Sure enough, when the time came, Gerard longed to go to Rotterdam
and see the Duke, and above all to see the work of his
competitors, and so get a lesson from defeat. And the crown came
out of the housewife's pocket with a very good grace. Gerard would
soon be a priest. It seemed hard if he might not enjoy the world a
little before separating himself from it for life.
The night before he went, Margaret Van Eyck asked him to take a
letter for her, and when he came to look at it, to his surprise he
found it was addressed to the Princess Marie, at the Stadthouse in
The day before the prizes were to be distributed, Gerard started
for Rotterdam in his holiday suit, to wit, a doublet of
silver-grey cloth, with sleeves, and a jerkin of the same over it,
but without sleeves. From his waist to his heels he was clad in a
pair of tight-fitting buckskin hose fastened by laces (called
points) to his doublet. His shoes were pointed, in moderation, and
secured by a strap that passed under the hollow of the foot. On
his head and the back of his neck he wore his flowing hair, and
pinned to his back between his shoulders was his hat: it was
further secured by a purple silk ribbon little Kate had passed
round him from the sides of the hat, and knotted neatly on his
breast; below his hat, attached to the upper rim of his broad
waist-belt, was his leathern wallet. When he got within a league
of Rotterdam he was pretty tired, but he soon fell in with a pair
that were more so. He found an old man sitting by the roadside
quite worn out, and a comely young woman holding his hand, with a
face brimful of concern. The country people trudged by, and
noticed nothing amiss; but Gerard, as he passed, drew conclusions.
Even dress tells a tale to those who study it so closely as he
did, being an illuminator. The old man wore a gown, and a fur
tippet, and a velvet cap, sure signs of dignity; but the
triangular purse at his girdle was lean, the gown rusty, the fur
worn, sure signs of poverty. The young woman was dressed in plain
russet cloth: yet snow-white lawn covered that part of her neck
the gown left visible, and ended half way up her white throat in a
little band of gold embroidery; and her head-dress was new to
Gerard: instead of hiding her hair in a pile of linen or lawn, she
wore an open network of silver cord with silver spangles at the
interstices: in this her glossy auburn hair was rolled in front
into two solid waves, and supported behind in a luxurious and
shapely mass. His quick eye took in all this, and the old man's
pallor, and the tears in the young woman's eyes. So when he had
passed them a few yards, he reflected, and turned back, and came
towards them bashfully.
"Father, I fear you are tired."
"Indeed, my son, I am," replied the old man, "and faint for lack
Gerard's address did not appear so agreeable to the girl as to the
old man. She seemed ashamed, and with much reserve in her manner,
said, that it was her fault - she had underrated the distance, and
imprudently allowed her father to start too late in the day.
"No, no "said the old man; "it is not the distance, it is the want
The girl put her arms round his neck with tender concern, but took
that opportunity of whispering, "Father, a stranger- a young man!
But it was too late. Gerard, with simplicity, and quite as a
matter of course, fell to gathering sticks with great expedition.
This done, he took down his wallet, out with the manchet of bread
and the iron flask his careful mother had put up, and his
everlasting tinder-box; lighted a match, then a candle-end, then
the sticks; and put his iron flask on it. Then down he went on his
stomach, and took a good blow: then looking up, he saw the girl's
face had thawed, and she was looking down at him and his energy
with a demure smile. He laughed back to her. "Mind the pot," said
he, "and don't let it spill, for Heaven's sake: there's a cleft
stick to hold it safe with;" and with this he set off running
towards a corn-field at some distance.
Whilst he was gone, there came by, on a mule with rich purple
housings, an old man redolent of wealth. The purse at his girdle
was plethoric, the fur on his tippet was ermine, broad and new.
It was Ghysbrecht Van Swieten, the burgomaster of Tergou.
He was old, and his face furrowed. He was a notorious miser, and
looked one generally. But the idea of supping with the Duke raised
him just now into manifest complacency. Yet at the sight of the
faded old man and his bright daughter sitting by a fire of sticks,
the smile died out of his face, and he wore a strange look of pain
and uneasiness. He reined in his mule.
"Why, Peter,- Margaret," said he, almost fiercely, "what mummery
is this?" Peter was going to answer, but Margaret interposed
hastily, and said: "My father was exhausted, so I am warming
something to give him strength before we go on."
"What! reduced to feed by the roadside like the Bohemians," said
Ghysbrecht, and his hand went into his purse; but it did not seem
at home there; it fumbled uncertainly, afraid too large a coin
might stick to a finger and come out.
At this moment who should come bounding up but Gerard. He had two
straws in his hand, and he threw himself down by the fire and
relieved Margaret of the cooking part: then suddenly recognizing
the burgomaster, he coloured all over. Ghysbrecht Van Swieten
started and glared at him, and took his hand out of his purse.
"Oh!" said he bitterly, "I am not wanted," and went slowly on,
casting a long look of suspicion on Margaret, and hostility on
Gerard, that was not very intelligible. However, there was
something about it that Margaret could read enough to blush at,
and almost toss her head. Gerard only stared with surprise. "By
St. Bavon, I think the old miser grudges us three our quart of
soup," said he. When the young man put that interpretation on
Ghysbrecht's strange and meaning look, Margaret was greatly
relieved, and smiled gaily on the speaker.
Meanwhile Ghysbrecht plodded on, more wretched in his wealth than
these in their poverty. And the curious thing is, that the mule,
the purple housings, and one-half the coin in that plethoric
purse, belonged not to Ghysbrecht Van Swieten, but to that faded
old man and that comely girl, who sat by a roadside fire to he fed
by a stranger. They did not know this; but Ghysbrecht knew it, and
carried in his heart a scorpion of his own begetting; that
scorpion is remorse - the remorse that, not being penitence, is
incurable, and ready for fresh misdeeds upon a fresh temptation.
Twenty years ago, when Ghysbrecht Van Swieten was a hard and
honest man, the touchstone opportunity came to him, and he did an
act of heartless roguery. It seemed a safe one. It had hitherto
proved a safe one, though he had never felt safe. To-day he had
seen youth, enterprise, and, above all, knowledge, seated by fair
Margaret and her father on terms that look familiar and loving.
And the fiends are at big ear again.
"The soup is hot," said Gerard.
"But how are we to get it to our mouths?" inquired the senior,
"Father, the young man has brought us straws." And Margaret smiled
"Ay, ay!" said the old man; "but my poor bones are stiff, and
indeed the fire is too hot for a body to kneel over with these
short straws. St. John the Baptist, but the young man is adroit!"
For, while he stated his difficulty, Gerard removed it. He untied
in a moment the knot on his breast, took his hat off, put a stone
into each corner of it, then, wrapping his hand in the tail of his
jerkin, whipped the flask off the fire, wedged it in between the
stones, and put the hat under the old man's nose with a merry
smile. The other tremulously inserted the pipe of rye-straw and
sucked. Lo and behold, his wan, drawn face was seen to light up
more and more, till it quite glowed; and as soon as he had drawn a
"Hippocrates and Galen!" he cried, "'tis a soupe au vin - the
restorative of restoratives. Blessed be the nation that invented
it, and the woman that made it, and the young man who brings it to
fainting folk. Have a suck, my girl, while I relate to our young
host the history and virtues of this his sovereign compound. This
corroborative, young sir, was unknown to the ancients: we find it
neither in their treatises of medicine, nor in those popular
narratives, which reveal many of their remedies, both in
chirurgery and medicine proper. Hector, in the Ilias, if my memory
does not play me false---
(Margaret. "Alas! he's off.")
----was invited by one of the ladies of the poem to drink a
draught of wine; but he declined, on the plea that he was just
going into battle, and must not take aught to weaken his powers.
Now, if the soupe au vin had been known in Troy, it is clear that
in declining vinum merum upon that score, he would have added in
the hexameter, 'But a soupe au vin, madam, I will degust, and
gratefully.' Not only would this have been but common civility - a
virtue no perfect commander is wanting in - but not to have done
it would have proved him a shallow and improvident person, unfit
to be trusted with the conduct of a war; for men going into a
battle need sustenance and all possible support, as is proved by
this, that foolish generals, bringing hungry soldiers to blows
with full ones, have been defeated, in all ages, by inferior
numbers. The Romans lost a great battle in the north of Italy to
Hannibal, the Carthaginian, by this neglect alone. Now, this
divine elixir gives in one moment force to the limbs and ardour to
the spirits; and taken into Hector's body at the nick of time,
would, by the aid of Phoebus, Venus, and the blessed saints, have
most likely procured the Greeks a defeat. For note how faint and
weary and heart-sick I was a minute ago; well, I suck this
celestial cordial, and now behold me brave as Achilles and strong
as an eagle."
"Oh, father, now? an eagle, alack!"
"Girl, I defy thee and all the world. Ready, I say, like a foaming
charger, to devour the space between this and Rotterdam, and
strong to combat the ills of life, even poverty and old age, which
last philosophers have called the summum malum. Negatur; unless
the man's life has been ill-spent - which, by the bye, it
generally has. Now for the moderns!"
"Father! dear father!"
"Fear me not, girl; I will be brief, unreasonably and unseasonably
brief. The soupe au vin occurs not in modern science; but this is
only one proof more, if proof were needed, that for the last few
hundred years physicians have been idiots, with their
chicken-broth and their decoction of gold, whereby they attribute
the highest qualities to that meat which has the least juice of
any meat, and to that metal which has less chemical qualities than
all the metals; mountebanks! dunces! homicides! Since, then, from
these no light is to be gathered, go we to the chroniclers; and
first we find that Duguesclin, a French knight, being about to
join battle with the English - masters, at that time, of half
France, and sturdy strikers by sea and land - drank, not one, but
three soupes au vin in honour of the Blessed Trinity. This done,
he charged the islanders; and, as might have been foretold, killed
a multitude, and drove the rest into the sea. But he was only the
first of a long list of holy and hard-hitting ones who have, by
this divine restorative, been sustentated, fortified,
corroborated, and consoled."
"Dear father, prithee add thyself to that venerable company ere
the soup cools." And Margaret held the hat imploringly in both
hands till he inserted the straw once more.
This spared them the "modern instances," and gave Gerard an
opportunity of telling Margaret how proud his mother would be her
soup had profited a man of learning.
"Ay! but," said Margaret, "it would like her ill to see her son
give all and take none himself. Why brought you but two straws?"
"Fair mistress, I hoped you would let me put my lips to your
straw, there being but two."
Margaret smiled and blushed. "Never beg that you may command,"
said she. "The straw is not mine, 'tis yours: you cut it in yonder
"I cut it, and that made it mine; but after that, your lip touched
it, and that made it yours."
"Did it Then I will lend it you. There - now it is yours again;
your lip has touched it."
"No, it belongs to us both now. Let us divide it."
"By all means; you have a knife."
"No, I will not cut it - that would be unlucky. I'll bite it.
There I shall keep my half: you will burn yours, once you get
home, I doubt.'
"You know me not. I waste nothing. It is odds but I make a hairpin
of it, or something."
This answer dashed the novice Gerard, instead of provoking him, to
fresh efforts, and he was silent. And now, the bread and soup
being disposed of, the old scholar prepared to continue his
journey. Then came a little difficulty: Gerard the adroit could
not tie his ribbon again as Catherine had tied it. Margaret, after
slily eyeing his efforts for some time, offered to help him; for
at her age girls love to be coy and tender, saucy and gentle, by
turns, and she saw she had put him out of countenance but now.
Then a fair head, with its stately crown of auburn hair, glossy
and glowing through silver, bowed sweetly towards him; and, while
it ravished his eye, two white supple hands played delicately upon
the stubborn ribbon, and moulded it with soft and airy touches.
Then a heavenly thrill ran through the innocent young man, and
vague glimpses of a new world of feeling and sentiment opened on
him. And these new and exquisite sensations Margaret unwittingly
prolonged: it is not natural to her sex to hurry aught that
pertains to the sacred toilet. Nay, when the taper fingers had at
last subjugated the ends of the knot, her mind was not quite easy,
till, by a manoeuvre peculiar to the female hand, she had made her
palm convex, and so applied it with a gentle pressure to the
centre of the knot - a sweet little coaxing hand-kiss, as much as
to say, "Now be a good knot, and stay so." The palm-kiss was
bestowed on the ribbon, but the wearer's heart leaped to meet it.
"There, that is how it was," said Margaret, and drew back to take
one last keen survey of her work; then, looking up for simple
approval of her skill, received full in her eyes a longing gaze of
such ardent adoration, as made her lower them quickly and colour
all over. An indescribable tremor seized her, and she retreated
with downcast lashes and tell-tale cheeks, and took her father's
arm on the opposite side. Gerard, blushing at having scared her
away with his eyes, took the other arm; and so the two young
things went downcast and conscious, and propped the eagle along in
They entered Rotterdam by the Schiedamze Poort; and, as Gerard was
unacquainted with the town, Peter directed him the way to the
Hooch Straet, in which the Stadthouse was. He himself was going
with Margaret to his cousin, in the Ooster-Waagen Straet, so,
almost on entering the gate, their roads lay apart. They bade each
other a friendly adieu, and Gerard dived into the great town. A
profound sense of solitude fell upon him, yet the streets were
crowded. Then he lamented too late that, out of delicacy, he bad
not asked his late companions who they were and where they lived.
"Beshrew my shamefacedness!" said he. "But their words and their
breeding were above their means, and something did whisper me they
would not be known. I shall never see her more. Oh weary world, I
hate you and your ways. To think I must meet beauty and goodness
and learning - three pearls of price - and never see them more!"
Falling into this sad reverie, and letting his body go where it
would, he lost his way; but presently meeting a crowd of persons
all moving in one direction, he mingled with them, for he argued
they must be making for the Stadthouse. Soon the noisy troop that
contained the moody Gerard emerged, not upon the Stadthouse, but
upon a large meadow by the side of the Maas; and then the
attraction was revealed. Games of all sorts were going on:
wrestling, the game of palm, the quintain, legerdemain, archery,
tumbling, in which art, I blush to say, women as well as men
performed, to the great delectation of the company. There was also
a trained bear, who stood on his head, and marched upright, and
bowed with prodigious gravity to his master; and a hare that beat
a drum, and a cock that strutted on little stilts disdainfully.
These things made Gerard laugh now and then; but the gay scene
could not really enliven it, for his heart was not in tune with
it. So hearing a young man say to his fellow that the Duke had
been in the meadow, but was gone to the Stadthouse to entertain
the burgomasters and aldermen and the competitors for the prizes,
and their friends, he suddenly remembered he was hungry, and
should like to sup with a prince. He left the river-side, and this
time he found the Hooch Straet, and it speedily led him to the
Stadthouse. But when he got there he was refused, first at one
door, then at another, till he came to the great gate of the
courtyard. It was kept by soldiers, and superintended by a pompous
major-domo, glittering in an embroidered collar and a gold chain
of office, and holding a white staff with a gold knob. There was a
crowd of persons at the gate endeavouring to soften this official
rock. They came up in turn like ripples, and retired as such in
turn. It cost Gerard a struggle to get near him, and when he was
within four heads of the gate, he saw something that made his
heart beat; there was Peter, with Margaret on his arm, soliciting
humbly for entrance.
"My cousin the alderman is not at home; they say he is here."
"What is that to me, old man?"
"If you will not let us pass in to him, at least take this leaf
from my tablet to my cousin. See, I have written his name; he will
come out to us.
"For what do you take me? I carry no messages, I keep the gate."
He then bawled, in a stentorian voice, inexorably:
"No strangers enter here, but the competitors and their
"Come, old man," cried a voice in the crowd, "you have gotten your
answer; make way."
Margaret turned half round imploringly:
"Good people, we are come from far, and my father is old; and my
cousin has a new servant that knows us not, and would not let us
sit in our cousin's house."
At this the crowd laughed hoarsely. Margaret shrank as if they had
struck her. At that moment a hand grasped hers - a magic grasp; it
felt like heart meeting heart, or magnet steel. She turned quickly
round at it, and it was Gerard. Such a little cry of joy and
appeal came from her bosom, and she began to whimper prettily.
They had hustled her and frightened her, for one thing; and her
cousin's thoughtlessness, in not even telling his servant they
were coming, was cruel; and the servant's caution, however wise
and faithful to her master, was bitterly mortifying to her father
and her. And to her so mortified, and anxious and jostled, came
suddenly this kind hand and face. "Hinc illae lacrimae."
"All is well now," remarked a coarse humourist; "she hath gotten
"Haw! haw! haw!" went the crowd.
She dropped Gerard's hand directly, and turned round, with eyes
flashing through her tears:
"I have no sweetheart, you rude men. But I am friendless in your
boorish town, and this is a friend; and one who knows, what you
know not, how to treat the aged and the weak."
The crowd was dead silent. They had only been thoughtless, and now
felt the rebuke, though severe, was just. The silence enabled
Gerard to treat with the porter.
"I am a competitor, sir."
"What is your name?" and the man eyed him suspiciously.
"Gerard, the son of Elias."
The janitor inspected a slip of parchment he held in his hand:
"Gerard Eliassoen can enter."
"With my company, these two?"
"Nay; those are not your company they came before you."
"What matter? They are my friends, and without them I go not in."
"Stay without, then."
"That will I not."
"That we shall see."
"We will, and speedily." And with this, Gerard raised a voice of
astounding volume and power, and routed so that the whole street
"Ho! PHILIP, EARL OF HOLLAND!"
"Are you mad?" cried the porter.
"HERE IS ONE OF YOUR VARLETS DEFIES YOU."
"AND WILL NOT LET YOUR GUESTS PASS IN."
"Hush! murder! The Dukes there. I'm dead," cried the janitor,
Then suddenly trying to overpower Gerard's thunder, he shouted,
with all his lungs:
"OPEN THE GATE, YE KNAVES! WAY THERE FOR GERARD ELIASSOEN AND HIS
COMPANY! (The fiends go with him!)"
The gate swung open as by magic. Eight soldiers lowered their
pikes halfway, and made an arch, under which the victorious three
marched in triumphant. The moment they had passed, the pikes
clashed together horizontally to bar the gateway, and all but
pinned an abdominal citizen that sought to wedge in along with
Once past the guarded portal, a few steps brought the trio upon a
scene of Oriental luxury. The courtyard was laid out in tables
loaded with rich meats and piled with gorgeous plate. Guests in
rich and various costumes sat beneath a leafy canopy of fresh-cut
branches fastened tastefully to golden, silver, and blue silken
cords that traversed the area; and fruits of many hues, including
some artificial ones of gold, silver, and wax, hung pendant, or
peeped like fair eyes among the green leaves of plane-trees and
lime-trees. The Duke's minstrels swept their lutes at intervals,
and a fountain played red Burgundy in six jets that met and
battled in the air. The evening sun darted its fires through those
bright and purple wine spouts, making them jets and cascades of
molten rubies, then passing on, tinged with the blood of the
grape, shed crimson glories here and there on fair faces, snowy
beards, velvet, satin, jewelled hilts, glowing gold, gleaming
silver, and sparkling glass. Gerard and his friends stood dazzled,
spell-bound. Presently a whisper buzzed round them, "Salute the
Duke! Salute the Duke!" They looked up, and there on high, under
the dais, was their sovereign, bidding them welcome with a kindly
wave of the hand. The men bowed low, and Margaret curtsied with a
deep and graceful obeisance. The Duke's hand being up, he gave it
another turn, and pointed the new-comers out to a knot of valets.
Instantly seven of his people, with an obedient start, went
headlong at our friends, seated them at a table, and put fifteen
many-coloured soups before them, in little silver bowls, and as
many wines in crystal vases.
"Nay, father, let us not eat until we have thanked our good
friend," said Margaret, now first recovering from all this bustle.
"Girl, he is our guardian angel."
Gerard put his face into his hands.
"Tell me when you have done," said he, "and I will reappear and
have my supper, for I am hungry. I know which of us three is the
happiest at meeting again."
"Me?" inquired Margaret.
"No: guess again."
"Then I have no guess which it can be;" and she gave a little crow
of happiness and gaiety. The soup was tasted, and vanished in a
twirl of fourteen hands, and fish came on the table in a dozen
forms, with patties of lobster and almonds mixed, and of almonds
and cream, and an immense variety of brouets known to us as
rissoles. The next trifle was a wild boar, which smelt divine.
Why, then, did Margaret start away from it with two shrieks of
dismay, and pinch so good a friend as Gerard? Because the Duke's
cuisinier had been too clever; had made this excellent dish too
captivating to the sight as well as taste. He had restored to the
animal, by elaborate mimicry with burnt sugar and other edible
colours, the hair and bristles he had robbed him of by fire and
water. To make him still more enticing, the huge tusks were
carefully preserved in the brute's jaw, and gave his mouth the
winning smile that comes of tusk in man or beast; and two eyes of
coloured sugar glowed in his head. St. Argus! what eyes! so
bright, so bloodshot, so threatening - they followed a man and
every movement of his knife and spoon. But, indeed, I need the
pencil of Granville or Tenniel to make you see the two gilt valets
on the opposite side of the table putting the monster down before
our friends, with a smiling, self-satisfied, benevolent
obsequiousness for this ghastly monster was the flower of all
comestibles - old Peter clasping both hands in pious admiration of
it; Margaret wheeling round with horror-stricken eyes and her hand
on Gerard's shoulder, squeaking and pinching; his face of unwise
delight at being pinched, the grizzly brute glaring sulkily on
all, and the guests grinning from ear to ear.
"What's to do?" shouted the Duke, hearing the signals of female
distress. Seven of his people with a zealous start went headlong
and told him. He laughed and said, "Give her of the beef-stuffing,
then, and bring me Sir Boar." Benevolent monarch! The
beef-stuffing was his own private dish. On these grand occasions
an ox was roasted whole, and reserved for the poor. But this wise
as well as charitable prince had discovered, that whatever
venison, bares, lamb, poultry, etc., you skewered into that beef
cavern, got cooked to perfection, retaining their own juices and
receiving those of the reeking ox. These he called his
beef-stuffing, and took delight therein, as did now our trio; for,
at his word, seven of his people went headlong, and drove silver
tridents into the steaming cave at random, and speared a kid, a
cygnet, and a flock of wildfowl. These presently smoked before
Gerard and company; and Peter's face, sad and slightly morose at
the loss of the savage hog, expanded and shone. After this, twenty
different tarts of fruits and herbs, and last of all,
confectionery on a Titanic scale; cathedrals of sugar, all gilt
painted in the interstices of the bas-reliefs; castles with moats,
and ditches imitated to the life; elephants, camels, toads;
knights on horseback jousting; kings and princesses looking on
trumpeters blowing; and all these personages eating, and their
veins filled with sweet-scented juices: works of art made to be
destroyed. The guests breached a bastion, crunched a crusader and
his horse and lance, or cracked a bishop, cope, chasuble, crosier
and all, as remorselessly as we do a caraway comfit; sipping
meanwhile hippocras and other spiced drinks, and Greek and
Corsican wines, while every now and then little Turkish boys,
turbaned, spangled, jewelled, and gilt, came offering on bended
knee golden troughs of rose-water and orange-water to keep the
guests' hands cool and perfumed.
But long before our party arrived at this final stage appetite had
succumbed, and Gerard had suddenly remembered he was the bearer of
a letter to the Princess Marie, and, in an under-tone, had asked
one of the servants if he would undertake to deliver it. The man
took it with a deep obeisance: "He could not deliver it himself,
but would instantly give it one of the Princess's suite, several
of whom were about."
It may be remembered that Peter and Margaret came here not to
dine, but to find their cousin. Well, the old gentleman ate
heartily, and - being much fatigued, dropped asleep, and forgot
all about his cousin. Margaret did not remind him; we shall hear
Meanwhile, that Cousin was seated within a few feet of them, at
their backs, and discovered them when Margaret turned round and
screamed at the boar. But he forbore to speak to them, for
municipal reasons. Margaret was very plainly dressed, and Peter
inclined to threadbare. So the alderman said to himself:
"'Twill be time to make up to them when the sun sets and the
company disperses then I will take my poor relations to my house,
and none will be the wiser."
Half the courses were lost on Gerard and Margaret. They were no
great eaters, and just now were feeding on sweet thoughts that
have ever been unfavourable to appetite. But there is a delicate
kind of sensuality, to whose influence these two were perhaps more
sensitive than any other pair in that assembly - the delights of
colour, music, and perfume, all of which blended so fascinatingly
Margaret leaned back and half closed her eyes, and murmured to
Gerard: "What a lovely scene! the warm sun, the green shade, the
rich dresses, the bright music of the lutes and the cool music of
the fountain, and all faces so happy and gay! and then, it is to
you we owe it."
Gerard was silent all but his eyes; observing which -
"Now, speak not to me," said Margaret languidly; "let me listen to
the fountain: what are you a competitor for?"
He told her.
"Very well! You will gain one prize, at least."
"Which? which? have you seen any of my work?"
"I? no. But you will gain a prize.
"I hope so; but what makes you think so?"
"Because you were so good to my father."
Gerard smiled at the feminine logic, and hung his head at the
sweet praise, and was silent.
"Speak not," murmured Margaret. "They say this is a world of sin
and misery. Can that be? What is your opinion?"
"No! that is all a silly old song," explained Gerard. "'Tis a
byword our elders keep repeating, out of custom: it is not true."
"How can you know? You are but a child," said Margaret, with
"Why, only look round! And then thought I had lost you for ever;
and you are by my side; and now the minstrels are going to play
again. Sin and misery? Stuff and nonsense!"
The lutes burst out. The courtyard rang again with their delicate
"What do you admire most of all these beautiful things, Gerard?"
"You know my name? How is that?"
"White magic. I am a - witch."
"Angels are never witches. But I can't think how you - "
"Foolish boy! was it not cried at the gate loud enough to deave
"So it was. Where is my head? What do I admire most? If you will
sit a little more that way, I'll tell you."
"Yes; so that the light may fall on you. There! I see many fair
things here, fairer than I could have conceived; but the fairest
of all, to my eye, is your lovely hair in its silver frame, and
the setting sun kissing it. It minds me of what the Vulgate
praises for beauty, 'an apple of gold in a network of silver,' and
oh, what a pity I did not know you before I sent in my poor
endeavours at illuminating! I could illuminate so much better now.
I could do everything better. There, now the sun is full on it, it
is like an aureole. So our Lady looked, and none since her until
"Oh, fie! it is wicked to talk so. Compare a poor, coarse-favoured
girl like me with the Queen of Heaven? Oh, Gerard! I thought you
were a good young man." And Margaret was shocked apparently.
Gerard tried to explain. "I am no worse than the rest; but how can
I help having eyes, and a heart Margaret!"
"Be not angry now!"
"Now, is it likely?"
"I love you."
"Oh, for shame! you must not say that to me," and Margaret
coloured furiously at this sudden assault.
"I can't help it. I love you. I love you."
"Hush, hush! for pity's sake! I must not listen to such words from
a stranger. I am ungrateful to call you a stranger. Oh! how one
may be mistaken! If I had known you were so bold - And Margaret's
bosom began to heave, and her cheeks were covered with blushes,
and she looked towards her sleeping father, very much like a timid
thing that meditates actual flight.
Then Gerard was frightened at the alarm he caused. "Forgive me,"
said he imploringly. "How could any one help loving you?"
"Well, sir, I will try and forgive you - you are so good in other
respects; but then you must promise me never to say you - to say
"Give me your hand then, or you don't forgive me."
She hesitated; but eventually put out her hand a very little way,
very slowly, and with seeming reluctance. He took it, and held it
prisoner. When he thought it had been there long enough, she tried
gently to draw it away. He held it tight: it submitted quite
patiently to force. What is the use resisting force She turned her
head away, and her long eyelashes drooped sweetly. Gerard lost
nothing by his promise. Words were not needed here; and silence
was more eloquent. Nature was in that day what she is in ours; but
manners were somewhat freer. Then as now, virgins drew back
alarmed at the first words of love; but of prudery and artificial
coquetry there was little, and the young soon read one another's
hearts. Everything was on Gerard's side, his good looks, her
belief in his goodness, her gratitude; and opportunity for at the
Duke's banquet this mellow summer eve, all things disposed the
female nature to tenderness: the avenues to the heart lay open;
the senses were so soothed and subdued with lovely colours, gentle
sounds, and delicate odours; the sun gently sinking, the warm air,
the green canopy, the cool music of the now violet fountain.
Gerard and Margaret sat hand in hand in silence; and Gerard's eyes
sought hers lovingly; and hers now and then turned on him timidly
and imploringly and presently two sweet unreasonable tears rolled
down her cheeks, and she smiled
while they were drying: yet they did not take long.
And the sun declined; and the air cooled; and the fountain plashed
more gently; and the pair throbbed in unison and silence, and this
weary world looked heaven to them.
Oh, the merry days, the merry days when we were young.
Oh, the merry days, the merry days when we were young.
A grave white-haired seneschal came to their table, and inquired
courteously whether Gerard Eliassoen was of their company. Upon
Gerard's answer, he said:
"The Princess Marie would confer with you, young sir; I am to
conduct you to her presence."
Instantly all faces within hearing turned sharp round, and were
bent with curiosity and envy on the man that was to go to a
Gerard rose to obey.
"I wager we shall not see you again," said Margaret calmly, but
colouring a little.
"That you will," was the reply: then he whispered in her ear:
"This is my good princess; but you are my queen." He added aloud:
"Wait for me, I pray you, I will presently return."
"Ay, ay!" said Peter, awaking and speaking at one and the same
Gerard gone, the pair whose dress was so homely, yet they were
with the man whom the Princess sent for, became "the cynosure of
neighbouring eyes;" observing which, William Johnson came forward,
acted surprise, and claimed his relations.
"And to think that there was I at your backs, and you saw me not"
"Nay, cousin Johnson, I saw you long syne," said Margaret coldly.
"You saw me, and spoke not to me?"
"Cousin, it was for you to welcome us to Rotterdam, as it is for
us to welcome you at Sevenbergen. Your servant denied us a seat in
"And I had a mind to see whether it was 'like maid like master:'
for there is sooth in bywords."
William Johnson blushed purple. He saw Margaret was keen, and
suspected him. He did the wisest thing under the circumstances,
trusted to deeds not words. He insisted on their coming home with
him at once, and he would show them whether they were welcome to
Rotterdam or not.
"Who doubts it, cousin? Who doubts it?" said the scholar.
Margaret thanked him graciously, but demurred to go just now: said
she wanted to hear the minstrels again. In about a quarter of an
hour Johnson renewed his proposal, and bade her observe that many
of the guests had left. Then her real reason came out.
"It were ill manners to our friend; and he will lose us. He knows
not where we lodge in Rotterdam, and the city is large, and we
have parted company once already."
"Oh!" said Johnson, "we will provide for that. My young man, ahem!
I mean my secretary, shall sit here and wait, and bring him on to
my house: he shall lodge with me and with no other."
"Cousin, we shall be too burdensome."
"Nay, nay; you shall see whether you are welcome or not, you and
your friends, and your friends' friends, if need be; and I shall
hear what the Princess would with him."
Margaret felt a thrill of joy that Gerard should be lodged under
the same roof with her; then she had a slight misgiving.
"But if your young man should be thoughtless, and go play, and
Gerard miss him?"
"He go play? He leave that spot where I put him, and bid him stay?
Ho! stand forth, Hans Cloterman."
A figure clad in black serge and dark violet hose arose, and took
two steps and stood before them without moving a muscle: a solemn,
precise young man, the very statue of gravity and starched
propriety. At his aspect Margaret, being very happy, could hardly
keep her countenance. But she whispered Johnson, "I would put my
hand in the fire for him. We are at your command, cousin, as soon
as you have given him his orders."
Hans was then instructed to sit at the table and wait for Gerard,
and conduct him to Ooster-Waagen Straet. He replied, not in words,
but by calmly taking the seat indicated, and Margaret, Peter, and
William Johnson went away together.
"And, indeed, it is time you were abed, father, after all your
travel," said Margaret. This had been in her mind all along.
Hans Cloterman sat waiting for Gerard, solemn and businesslike.
The minutes flew by, but excited no impatience in that perfect
young man. Johnson did him no more than justice when he laughed to
scorn the idea of his secretary leaving his post or neglecting his
duty in pursuit of sport or out of youthful hilarity and
As Gerard was long in coming, the patient Hans - his employer's
eye being no longer on him improved the time by quaffing solemnly,
silently, and at short but accurately measured intervals, goblets
of Corsican wine. The wine was strong, so was Cloterman's head;
and Gerard had been gone a good hour ere the model secretary
imbibed the notion that Creation expected Cloterman to drink the
health of all good fellows, and nommement of the Duke of Burgundy
there present. With this view he filled bumper nine, and rose
gingerly but solemnly and slowly. Having reached his full height,
he instantly rolled upon the grass, goblet in hand, spilling the
cold liquor on more than one ankle - whose owners frisked - but
not disturbing a muscle in his own long face, which, in the total
eclipse of reason, retained its gravity, primness, and
The seneschal led Gerard through several passages to the door of
the pavilion, where some young noblemen, embroidered and
feathered, sat sentinel, guarding the heir-apparent, and playing
cards by the red light of torches their servants held. A whisper
from the seneschal, and one of them rose reluctantly, stared at
Gerard with haughty surprise, and entered the pavilion. He
presently returned, and, beckoning the pair, led then, through a
passage or two and landed them in an ante-chamber, where sat three
more young gentlemen, feathered, furred, and embroidered like
pieces of fancy work, and deep in that instructive and edifying
branch of learning, dice.
"You can't see the Princess - it is too late," said one.
Another followed suit:
"She passed this way but now with her nurse. She is gone to bed,
doll and all. Deuce - ace again!"
Gerard prepared to retire. The seneschal, with an incredulous
"The young man is here by the Countess's orders; be so good as
conduct him to her ladies."
On this a superb Adonis rose, with an injured look, and led Gerard
into a room where sat or lolloped eleven ladies, chattering like
magpies. Two, more industrious than the rest, were playing
cat's-cradle with fingers as nimble as their tongues. At the sight
of a stranger all the tongues stopped like one piece of
complicated machinery, and all the eyes turned on Gerard, as if
the same string that checked the tongues had turned the eyes on.
Gerard was ill at ease before, but this battery of eyes
discountenanced him, and down went his eyes on the ground. Then
the cowards finding, like the hare who ran by the pond and the
frogs scuttled into the water, that there was a creature they
could frighten, giggled and enjoyed their prowess. Then a duenna
said severely, "Mesdames!" and they were all abashed at once as
though a modesty string had been pulled. This same duenna took
Gerard, and marched before him in solemn silence. The young man's
heart sank, and he had half a mind to turn and run out of the
"What must princes be," he thought, "when their courtiers are so
freezing? Doubtless they take their breeding from him they serve."
These reflections were interrupted by the duenna suddenly
introducing him into a room where three ladies sat working, and a
pretty little girl tuning a lute. The ladies were richly but not
showily dressed, and the duenna went up to the one who was hemming
a kerchief, and said a few words in a low tone. This lady then
turned towards Gerard with a smile, and beckoned him to come near
her. She did not rise, but she laid aside her work, and her manner
of turning towards him, slight as the movement was, was full of
graCe and ease and courtesy. She began a conversation at once.
"Margaret Van Eyck is an old friend of mine, sir, and I am right
glad to have a letter from her hand, and thankful to you, sir, for
bringing it to me safely. Marie, my love, this is the gentleman
who brought you that pretty miniature."
"Sir, I thank you a thousand times," said the young lady.
"I am glad you feel her debtor, sweetheart, for our friend would
have us to do him a little service in return.
"I will do anything on earth for him," replied the young lady with
"Anything on earth is nothing in the world," said the Countess of
"Well, then, I will - What would you have me to do, sir?"
Gerard had just found out what high society he was in. "My
sovereign demoiselle," said he, gently and a little tremulously,
"where there have been no pains, there needs no reward."
But we must obey mamma. All the world must obey
"That is true. Then, our demoiselle, reward me, if you will. by
letting me hear the stave you were going to sing and I did
"What! you love music, sir?"
"I adore it."
The little princess looked inquiringly at her mother, and received
a smile of assent. She then took her lute and sang a romaunt of
the day. Although but twelve years old, she was a well-taught and
painstaking musician. Her little claw swept the chords with
Courage and precision, and struck out the notes of the arpeggio
clear, and distinct, and bright, like twinkling stars; but the
main charm was her voice. It was not mighty, but it was round,
clear, full, and ringing like a bell. She sang with a certain
modest eloquence, though she knew none of the tricks of feeling.
She was too young to be theatrical, or even sentimental, so
nothing was forced - all gushed. Her little mouth seemed the mouth
of Nature. The ditty, too, was as pure as its utterance. As there
were none of those false divisions - those whining slurs, which
are now sold so dear by Italian songsters, though every jackal in
India delivers them gratis to his customers all night, and
sometimes gets shot for them, and always deserves it - so there
were no cadences and fiorituri, the trite, turgid, and feeble
expletives of song, the skim-milk with which mindless musicians
and mindless writers quench fire, wash out colour, and drown
melody and meaning dead.
While the pure and tender strain was flowing from the pure young
throat, Gerard's eyes filled. The Countess watched him with
interest, for it was usual to applaud the Princess loudly, but not
with cheek and eye. So when the voice ceased, and the glasses left
off ringing, she asked demurely, "Was he content?"
Gerard gave a little start; the spoken voice broke a charm and
brought him back to earth.
"Oh, madam!" he cried, "surely it is thus that cherubs and seraphs
sing, and charm the saints in heaven."
"I am somewhat of your opinion, my young friend," said the
Countess, with emotion; and she bent a look of love and gentle
pride upon her girl: a heavenly look, such as, they say, is given
to the eye of the short-lived resting on the short-lived.
The Countess resumed: "My old friend request me to be serviceable
to you. It is the first favour she has done us the honour of
asking us, and the request is sacred. You are in holy orders,
"I fear you are not a priest, you look too young."
"Oh no, madam; I am not even a sub-deacon. I am only a lector; but
next month I shall be an exorcist, and before long an acolyth."
"Well, Monsieur Gerard, with your accomplishments you can soon
pass through the inferior orders. And let me beg you to do so. For
the day after you have said your first mass I shall have the
pleasure of appointing you to a benefice."
"And, Marie, remember I make this promise in your name as well as
"Fear not, mamma: I will not forget. But if he will take my
advice, what he will be is Bishop of Liege. The Bishop of Liege is
a beautiful bishop. What! do you not remember him, mamma, that day
we were at Liege? he was braver than grandpapa himself. He had on
a crown, a high one, and it was cut in the middle, and it was full
of oh! such beautiful jewels; and his gown stiff with gold; and
his mantle, too; and it had a broad border, all pictures; but,
above all, his gloves; you have no such gloves, mamma. They were
embroidered and covered with jewels, and scented with such lovely
scent; I smelt them all the time he was giving me his blessing on
my head with them. Dear old man! I dare say he will die soon most
old people do and then, sir, you Can be bishop. you know, and wear
"Gently, Marie, gently: bishoprics are for old gentlemen; and this
is a young gentleman."
"Mamma! he is not so very young.
"Not compared with you, Marie, eh?"
"He is a good bigth. dear mamma; and I am sure he is good enough
for a bishop.
"Alas! mademoiselle, you are mistaken"
"I know not that, Monsieur Gerard; but I am a little puzzled to
know on what grounds mademoiselle there pronounces your character
"Alas! mamma, said the Princess, "you have not looked at his face,
then; "and she raised her eyebrows at her mother's simplicity.
"I beg your pardon," said the Countess, "I have. Well, sir, if I
cannot go quite so fast as my daughter, attribute it to my age,
not to a want of interest in your welfare. A benefice will do to
begin your Career with; and I must take care it is not too far
from - what call you the place?"
"A priest gives up much," continued the Countess; "often, I fear,
he learns too late how much;" and her woman's eye rested a moment
on Gerard with mild pity and half surprise at his resigning her
sex and all the heaven they can bestow, and the great parental
joys: "at least you shall be near your friends. Have you a
"Yes, madam, thanks be to God!"
"Good! You shall have a church near Tergou. She will thank me. And
now, sir, we must not detain you too long from those who have a
better claim on your society than we have. Duchess, oblige me by
bidding one of the pages conduct him to the hall of banquet; the
way is hard to find."
Gerard bowed low to the Countess and the Princess, and backed
towards the door.
"I hope it will be a nice benefice," said the Princess to him,
with a pretty smile, as he was going out; then, shaking her head
with an air of solemn misgiving, "but you had better have been
Bishop of Liege."
Gerard followed his new conductor, his heart warm with gratitude;
but ere he reached the banquet-hall a chill came over him. The
mind of one who has led a quiet, uneventful life is not apt to
take in contradictory feelings at the same moment and balance
them, but rather to be overpowered by each in turn. While Gerard
was with the Countess, the excitement of so new a situation, the
unlooked-for promise. the joy and pride it would cause at home,
possessed him wholly; but now it was passion's turn to be heard
again. What! give up Margaret, whose soft hand he still felt in
his, and her deep eyes in his heart? resign her and all the world
of love and joy she had opened on him to-day? The revulsion, when
it did come, was so strong that he hastily resolved to say nothing
at home about the offered benefice. "The Countess is so good,"
thought he, "she has a hundred ways of aiding a young man's
fortune: she will not compel me to be a priest when she shall
learn I love one of her sex: one would almost think she does know
it, for she cast a strange look on me, and said, 'A priest gives
up much, too much.' I dare say she will give me a place about the
palace." And with this hopeful reflection his mind was eased, and,
being now at the entrance of the banqueting hall, he thanked his
conductor, and ran hastily with joyful eyes to Margaret. He came
in sight of the table- she was gone. Peter was gone too. Nobody
was at the table at all; only a citizen in sober garments had just
tumbled under it dead drunk, and several persons were raising him
to carry him away. Gerard never guessed how important this solemn
drunkard was to him: he was looking for "Beauty," and let the
"Beast" lie. He ran wildly round the hall, which was now
comparatively empty. She was not there. He left the palace:
outside he found a crowd gaping at two great fan-lights just
lighted over the gate. He asked them earnestly if they had seen an
old man in a gown, and a lovely girl pass out. They laughed at the
question. "They were staring at these new lights that turn night
into day. They didn't trouble their heads about old men and young
wenches, every-day sights." From another group he learned there
was a Mystery being played under canvas hard by, and all the world
gone to see it. This revived his hopes, and he went and saw the
In this representation divine personages, too sacred for me to
name here, came clumsily down from heaven to talk sophistry with
the cardinal Virtues, the nine Muses, and the seven deadly sins,
all present in human shape, and not unlike one another. To enliven
which weary stuff in rattled the Prince of the power of the air,
and an imp that kept molesting him and buffeting him with a
bladder, at each thwack of which the crowd were in ecstasies. When
the Vices had uttered good store of obscenity and the Virtues
twaddle, the celestials, including the nine Muses went gingerly
back to heaven one by one; for there was but one cloud; and two
artisans worked it tip with its supernatural freight, and worked
it down with a winch, in full sight of the audience. These
disposed of, the bottomless pit opened and flamed in the centre of
the stage; the carpenters and Virtues shoved the Vices in, and the
Virtues and Beelzebub and his tormentor danced merrily round the
place of eternal torture to the fife and tabor.
This entertainment was writ by the Bishop of Ghent for the
diffusion of religious sentiment by the aid of the senses, and was
an average specimen of theatrical exhibitions so long as they were
in the hands of the clergy. But, in course of time, the laity
conducted plays, and so the theatre, I learn from the pulpit, has
Margaret was nowhere in the crowd, and Gerard could not enjoy the
performance; he actually went away in Act 2, in the midst of a
much-admired piece of dialogue, in which Justice out-quibbled
Satan. He walked through many streets, but could not find her he
sought. At last, fairly worn out, he went to a hostelry and slept
till daybreak. All that day, heavy and heartsick, he sought her,
but could never fall in with her or her father, nor ever obtain
the slightest clue. Then he felt she was false or had changed her
mind. He was irritated now, as well as sad. More good fortune fell
on him; he almost hated it. At last, on the third day, after he
had once more been through every street, he said, "She is not in
the town, and I shall never see her again. I will go home." He
started for Tergou with royal favour promised, with fifteen golden
angels in his purse, a golden medal on his bosom, and a heart like
a lump of lead.
It was near four o'clock in the afternoon. Eli was in the shop.
His eldest and youngest sons were abroad. Catherine and her little
crippled daughter had long been anxious about Gerard, and now they
were gone a little way down the road, to see if by good luck he
might be visible in the distance; and Giles was alone in the
sitting-room, which I will sketch, furniture and dwarf included.
The Hollanders were always an original and leading people. They
claim to have invented printing (wooden type), oil-painting,
liberty, banking, gardening, etc. Above all, years before my tale,
they invented cleanliness. So, while the English gentry, in velvet
jerkins and chicken-toed shoes, trode floors of stale rushes, foul
receptacle of bones, decomposing morsels, spittle, dogs, eggs, and
all abominations, this hosier's sitting-room at Tergou was floored
with Dutch tiles, so highly glazed and constantly washed, that you
could eat off them. There was one large window; the cross
stone-work in the centre of it was very massive, and stood in
relief, looking like an actual cross to the inmates, and was eyed
as such in their devotions. The panes were very small and
lozenge-shaped, and soldered to one another with strips of lead:
the like you may see to this day in our rural cottages. The chairs
were rude and primitive, all but the arm-chair, whose back, at
right angles with its seat, was so high that the sitter's head
stopped two feet short of the top. This chair was of oak, and
carved at the summit. There was a copper pail, that went in at the
waist, holding holy water, and a little hand-besom to sprinkle it
far and wide; and a long, narrow, but massive oak table, and a
dwarf sticking to its rim by his teeth, his eyes glaring, and his
claws in the air like a pouncing vampire. nature, it would seem,
did not make Giles a dwarf out of malice prepense; she constructed
a head and torso with her usual care; but just then her attention
was distracted, and she left the rest to chance; the result was a
human wedge, an inverted cone. He might justly have taken her to
task in the terms of Horace
Institui; currente rota cur urceus exit?"
His centre was anything but his centre of gravity. Bisected, upper
Giles would have outweighed three lower Giles. But this very
disproportion enabled him to do feats that would have baffled
Milo. His brawny arms had no weight to draw after them; so he
could go up a vertical pole like a squirrel, and hang for hours
from a bough by one hand like a cherry by its stalk. If he could
have made a vacuum with his hands, as the lizard is said to do
with its feet, he would have gone along a ceiling. Now, this
pocket-athlete was insanely fond of gripping the dinner-table with
both hands, and so swinging; and then - climax of delight! he
would seize it with his teeth, and, taking off his hands, hold on
like grim death by his huge ivories.
But all our joys, however elevating, suffer interruption. Little
Kate caught Sampsonet in this posture, and stood aghast. She was
her mother's daughter, and her heart was with the furniture, not
with the 12mo gymnast.
"Oh, Giles! how can you? Mother is at hand. It dents the table."
"Go and tell her, little tale-bearer," snarled Giles. "You are the
one for making mischief."
"Am I?" inquired Kate calmly; "that is news to me."
"The biggest in Tergou," growled Giles, fastening on again.
"Oh, indeed!" said Kate drily.
This piece of unwonted satire launched, and Giles not visibly
blasted, she sat down quietly and cried.
Her mother came in almost at that moment, and Giles hurled himself
under the table, and there glared.
"What is to do now?" said the dame sharply. Then turning her
experienced eyes from Kate to Giles, and observing the position he
had taken up, and a sheepish expression, she hinted at cuffing of
"Nay, mother," said the girl; "it was but a foolish word Giles
spoke. I had not noticed it at another time; but I was tired and
in care for Gerard, you know."
"Let no one be in care for me," said a faint voice at the door,
and in tottered Gerard, pale, dusty, and worn out; and amidst
uplifted hands and cries of delight, curiosity, and anxiety
mingled, dropped exhausted into the nearest chair.
Beating Rotterdam, like a covert, for Margaret, and the long
journey afterwards, had fairly knocked Gerard up. But elastic
youth soon revived, and behold him the centre of an eager circle.
First of all they must hear about the prizes. Then Gerard told
them he had been admitted to see the competitors' works, all laid
out in an enormous hall before the judges pronounced.
"Oh, mother! oh, Kate! when I saw the goldsmiths' work, I had
liked to have fallen on the floor. I thought not all the
goldsmiths on earth had so much gold, silver, jewels, and craft of
design and facture. But, in sooth, all the arts are divine."
Then, to please the females, he described to them the reliquaries,
feretories, calices, crosiers, crosses, pyxes, monstrances, and
other wonders ecclesiastical, and the goblets, hanaps, watches,
Clocks, chains, brooches, &c., so that their mouths watered.
"But, Kate, when I came to the illuminated work from Ghent and
Bruges, my heart sank. Mine was dirt by the side of it. For the
first minute I could almost have cried; but I prayed for a better
spirit, and presently I was able to enjoy them, and thank God for
those lovely works, and for those skilful, patient craftsmen, whom
I own my masters. Well, the coloured work was so beautiful I
forgot all about the black and white. But next day, when all the
other prizes had been given, they came to the writing, and whose
name think you was called first?"
"Yours," said Kate.
The others laugher her to scorn.
"You may well laugh," said Gerard, "but for all that, Gerard
Eliassoen of Tergou was the name the herald shouted. I stood
stupid; they thrust me forward. Everything swam before my eyes. I
found myself kneeling on a cushion at the feet of the Duke. He
said something to me, but I was so fluttered I could not answer
him. So then he put his hand to his side, and did not draw a
glaive and cut off my dull head, but gave me a gold medal, and
there it is." There was a yell and almost a scramble. "And then he
gave me fifteen great bright golden angels. I had seen one before,
but I never handled one. Here they are."
"Oh, Gerard! oh, Gerard!"
"There is one for you, our eldest; and one for you, Sybrandt, and
for you, Little Mischief; and two for thee, Little Lily, because
God hath afflicted thee; and one for myself, to buy colours and
vellum; and nine for her that nursed us all, and risked the two
crowns upon poor Gerard's hand."
The gold drew out their characters. Cornelis and Sybrandt clutched
each his coin with one glare of greediness and another glare of
envy at Kate, who had got two pieces. Giles seized his and rolled
it along the floor and gambolled after it. Kate put down her
crutches and sat down, and held out her little arms to Gerard with
a heavenly gesture of love and tenderness; and the mother, fairly
benumbed at first by the shower of gold that fell on her apron,
now cried out, "Leave kissing him, Kate; he is my son, not yours.
Ah. Gerard! my boy! I have not loved you as you deserved."
Then Gerard threw himself on his knees beside her, and she flung
her arms round him and wept for joy and pride upon his neck.
"Good lad! good lad!" cried the hosier, with some emotion. "I must
go and tell the neighbours. Lend me the medal, Gerard; I'll show
it my good friend Peter Buyskens; he is ever regaling me with how
his son Jorian won the tin mug a shooting at the butts."
"Ay, do, my man; and show Peter Buyskens one of the angels. Tell
him there are fourteen more where that came from. Mind you bring
it me back!"
"Stay a minute, father; there is better news behind," said Gerard,
flushing with joy at the joy he caused.
"Better! better than this?"
Then Gerard told his interview with the Countess, and the house
rang with joy.
"Now, God bless the good lady, and bless the dame Van Eyck! A
benefice? our son! My cares are at an end. Eli, my good friend and
master, now we two can die happy whenever our time comes. This
dear boy will take our place, and none of these loved ones will
want a home or a friend."
From that hour Gerard was looked upon as the stay of the family.
He was a son apart, but in another sense. He was always in the
right, and nothing too good for him. Cornelis and Sybrandt became
more and more jealous of him, and longed for the day he should go
to his benefice; they would get rid of the favourite, and his
reverence's purse would be open to them. With these views he
co-operated. The wound love had given him throbbed duller and
duller. His success and the affection and admiration of his
parents made him think more highly of himself, and resent with
more spirit Margaret's ingratitude and discourtesy. For all that,
she had power to cool him towards the rest of her sex, and now for
every reason he wished to be ordained priest as soon as he could
pass the intermediate orders. He knew the Vulgate already better
than most of the clergy, and studied the rubric and the dogmas of
the Church with his friends the monks; and, the first time the
bishop came that way, he applied to be admitted "exorcist," the
third step in holy orders. The bishop questioned him, and ordained
him at once. He had to kneel, and, after a short prayer, the
bishop delivered to him a little MS. full of exorcisms, and said:
"Take this, Gerard, and have power to lay hands on the possessed,
whether baptized or catechumens!" and he took it reverently, and
went home invested by the Church with power to cast out demons.
Returning home from the church, he was met by little Kate on her
"Oh, Gerard! who, think you, hath sent to our house seeking you? -
the burgomaster himself."
"Ghysbrecht Van Swieten! What would he with me?"
"Nay, Gerard, I know not. But he seems urgent to see you. You are
to go to his house on the instant."
"Well, he is the burgomaster: I will go; but it likes me not.
Kate, I have seen him cast such a look on me as no friend casts.
No matter; such looks forewarn the wise. To be sure, he knows
"Knows what, Gerard?"
"Kate, I'll go."
Ghysbrecht Van Swieten was an artful man. He opened on the novice
with something quite wide of the mark he was really aiming at.
"The town records," said he, "are crabbedly written, and the ink
rusty with age." He offered Gerard the honour of transcribing them
Gerard inquired what he was to be paid.
Ghysbrecht offered a sum that would have just purchased the pens,
ink, and parchment.
"But, burgomaster, my labour? Here is a year's work."
"Your labour? Call you marking parchment labour? Little sweat goes
to that, I trow."
"'Tis labour, and skilled labour to boot; and that is better paid
in all crafts than rude labour, sweat or no sweat. Besides,
there's my time."
"Your time? Why, what is time to you, at two-and-twenty?" Then
fixing his eyes keenly on Gerard, to mark the effect of his words,
he said: "Say, rather, you are idle grown. You are in love. Your
body is with these chanting monks, but your heart is with Peter
Brandt and his red-haired girl."
"I know no Peter Brandt."
This denial confirmed Ghysbrecht's suspicion that the caster-out
of demons was playing a deep game.
"Ye lie!" he shouted. "Did I not find you at her elbow on the road
"Ah! And you were seen at Sevenbergen but t'other day."
"Ah and at Peter's house."
"Ay, at Sevenbergen."
Now, this was what in modern days is called a draw. It was a
guess, put boldly forth as fact, to elicit by the young man's
answer whether he had been there lately or not.
The result of the artifice surprised the crafty one. Gerard
started up in a strange state of nervous excitement.
"Burgomaster," said he, with trembling voice, "I have not been at
Sevenbergen these three years, and I know not the name of those
you saw me with, nor where they dwelt; but, as my time is
precious, though you value it not, give you good day." And he
darted out, with his eyes sparkling.
Ghysbrecht started up in huge ire; but he sank into his chair
"He fears me not. He knows something, if not all."
Then he called hastily to his trusty servant, and almost dragged
him to a window.
"See you yon man?" he cried. "Haste! follow him! But let him not
see you. He is young, but old in craft. Keep him in sight all day.
Let me know whither he goes, and what he does."
It was night when the servant returned.
"Well? well?" cried Van Swieten eagerly.
"Master, the young man went from you to Sevenbergen."
"To the house of Peter the Magician."
"Look into your own heart and write!" said Herr Cant; and earth's
cuckoos echoed the cry. Look into the Rhine where it is deepest,
and the Thames where it is thickest, and paint the bottom. Lower a
bucket into a well of self-deception, and what comes up must be
immortal truth, mustn't it? Now, in the first place, no son of
Adam ever reads his own heart at all, except,by the habit
acquired, and the light gained, from some years perusal of other
hearts; and even then, with his acquired sagacity and reflected
light, he can but spell and decipher his own heart, not read it
fluently. Half way to Sevenbergen Gerard looked into his own
heart, and asked it why he was going to Sevenbergen. His heart
replied without a moment's hesitation, "We are going out of
curiosity to know why she jilted us, and to show her it has not
broken our hearts, and that we are quite content with our honours
and our benefice in prospectu, and don't want her nor ally of her
He soon found out Peter Brandt's cottage; and there sat a girl in
the doorway, plying her needle, and a stalwart figure leaned on a
long bow and talked to her. Gerard felt an unaccountable pang at
the sight of him. However, the man turned out to be past fifty
years of age, an old soldier, whom Gerard remembered to have seen
shoot at the butts with admirable force and skill. Another minute
and the youth stood before them. Margaret looked up and dropped
her work, and uttered a faint cry, and was white and red by turns.
But these signs of emotion were swiftly dismissed, and she turned
far more chill and indifferent than she would if she had not
betrayed this agitation.
"What! is it you, Master Gerard? What on earth brings you here, I
"I was passing by and saw you; so I thought I would give you good
day, and ask after your father."
"My father is well. He will be here anon."
"Then I may as well stay till he comes."
"As you will. Good Martin, step into the village and tell my
father here is a friend of his."
"And not of yours?"
"My father's friends are mine."
"That is doubtful. It was not like a friend to promise to wait for
me, and then make off the moment my back was turned. Cruel
Margaret you little know how I searched the town for you; how for
want of you nothing was pleasant to me."
"These are idle words; if you had desired my father's company, or
mine, you would have come back. There I had a bed laid for you,
sir, at my cousin's, and he would have made much of you, and, who
knows, I might have made much of you too. I was in the humour that
day. You will not catch me in the same mind again, neither you nor
any young man, I warrant me."
"Margaret, I came back the moment the Countess let me go; but you
were not there."
"Nay, you did not, or you had seen Hans Cloterman at our table; we
left him to bring you on."
"I saw no one there, but only a drunken man, that had just tumbled
"At our table? How was he clad?"
"Nay, I took little heed: in sad-coloured garb."
At this Margaret's face gradually warmed; but presently, assuming
incredulity and severity, she put many shrewd questions, all of
which Gerard answered most loyally. Finally, the clouds cleared,
and they guessed how the misunderstanding had come about. Then
came a revulsion of tenderness, all the more powerful that they
had done each other wrong; and then, more dangerous still, came
mutual confessions. Neither had been happy since; neither ever
would have been happy but for this fortunate meeting.
And Gerard found a MS. Vulgate lying open on the table, and
pounced upon it like a hawk. MSS. were his delight; but before he
could get to it two white hands quickly came flat upon the page,
and a red face over them.
"Nay, take away your hands, Margaret, that I may see where you are
reading, and I will read there too at home; so shall my soul meet
yours in the sacred page. You will not? Nay, then I must kiss them
away." And he kissed them so often, that for very shame they were
fain to withdraw, and, lo! the sacred book lay open at
"An apple of gold in a network of silver."
"There, now," said she, "I had been hunting for it ever so long,