The Cloister and the Hearth
Charles Reade

Part 9 out of 18

power ebbed rapidly out of her body.

"Father!" cried Kate, whose eye was as quick as her affection.

Denys started up; but Eli waved him back and flung a little water
sharply in his wife's face. This did her instant good. She gasped,
"So sudden. My poor boy!" Eli whispered Denys, "Take no notice!
she thinks of him night and day." They pretended not to observe
her, and she shook it off, and hustled and laid the cloth with her
own hands; but as she smoothed it, her hands trembled and a tear
or two stole down her cheeks.

They could not make enough of Denys. They stuffed him, and crammed
him; and then gathered round him and kept filling his glass in
turn, while by that genial blaze of fire and ruby wine and eager
eyes he told all that I have related, and a vast number of minor
details, which an artist, however minute, omits.

But how different the effect on my readers and on this small
circle! To them the interest was already made before the first
word came from his lips. It was all about Gerard, and be who sat
there telling it them, was warm from Gerard and an actor with him
in all these scenes.

The flesh and blood around that fire quivered for their severed
member, hearing its struggles and perils.

I shall ask my readers to recall to memory all they can of
Gerard's journey with Denys, and in their mind's eye to see those
very matters told by his comrade to an exile's father, all stoic
outside, all father within, and to two poor women, an exile's
mother and a sister, who were all love and pity and tender anxiety
both outside and in. Now would you mind closing this book for a
minute and making an effort to realize all this? It will save us
so much repetition.

Then you will not be surprised when I tell you that after a while
Giles came softly and curled himself up before the fire, and lay
gazing at the speaker with a reverence almost canine; and that,
when the rough soldier had unconsciously but thoroughly betrayed
his better qualities, and above all his rare affection for Gerard,
Kate, though timorous as a bird, stole her little hand into the
warrior's huge brown palm, where it lay an instant like a
tea-spoonful of cream spilt on a platter, then nipped the ball of
his thumb and served for a Kardiometer. In other words, Fate is
just even to rival storytellers, and balances matters. Denys had
to pay a tax to his audience which I have not. Whenever Gerard was
in too much danger, the female faces became so white, and their
poor little throats gurgled so, he was obliged in common humanity
to spoil his recital. Suspense is the soul of narrative, and thus
dealt Rough-and-Tender of Burgundy with his best suspenses. "Now,
dame, take not on till ye hear the end; ma'amselle, let not your
cheek blanch so; courage! it looks ugly; but you shall hear how we
won through. Had he miscarried, and I at hand, would I be alive?"

And meantime Kate's little Kardiometer, or heart-measurer,
graduated emotion, and pinched by scale. At its best it was by no
means a high-pressure engine. But all is relative. Denys soon
learned the tender gamut; and when to water the suspense, and
extract the thrill as far as possible. On one occasion only he
cannily indemnified his narrative for this drawback. Falling
personally into the Rhine, and sinking, he got pinched, he Denys,
to his surprise and satisfaction. "Oho!" thought he, and on the
principle of the anatomists, "experimentum in corpore vili," kept
himself a quarter of an hour under water; under pressure all the
time. And even when Gerard had got hold of him, he was loth to
leave the river, so, less conscientious than I was, swam with
Gerard to the east bank first, and was about to land, but detected
the officers and their intent, chaffed them a little space,
treading water, then turned and swam wearily all across, and at
last was obliged to get out, for very shame, or else acknowledge
himself a pike; so permitted himself to land, exhausted: and the
pressure relaxed.

It was eleven o'clock, an unheard-of hour, but they took no note
of time this night; and Denys had still much to tell them, when
the door was opened quietly, and in stole Cornelis and Sybrandt
looking hang-dog. They had this night been drinking the very last
drop of their mysterious funds.

Catherine feared her husband would rebuke them before Denys; but
he only looked sadly at them, and motioned them to sit down

Denys it was who seemed discomposed. He knitted his brows and eyed
them thoughtfully and rather gloomily. Then turned to Catherine.
"What say you, dame? the rest to-morrow; for I am somewhat weary,
and it waxes late."

"So be it," said Eli. But when Denys rose to go to his inn, he was
instantly stopped by Catherine. "And think you to lie from this
house? Gerard's room has been got ready for you hours agone; the
sheets I'll not say much for, seeing I spun the flax and wove the

"Then would I lie in them blindfold," was the gallant reply. "Ah,
dame, our poor Gerard was the one for fine linen. He could hardly
forgive the honest Germans their coarse flax, and whene'er my
traitors of countrymen did amiss, a would excuse them, saying,
'Well, well; bonnes toiles sont en Bourgogne:' that means, there
be good lenten cloths in Burgundy.' But indeed he beat all for
bywords and cleanliness.

"Oh, Eli! Eli! doth not our son come back to us at each word?"

"Ay. Buss me, my poor Kate. You and I know all that passeth in
each other's hearts this night. None other can, but God."


Denys took an opportunity next day and told mother and daughter
the rest, excusing himself characteristically for not letting
Cornelis and Sybrandt hear of it. "It is not for me to blacken
them; they come of a good stock. But Gerard looks on them as no
friends of his in this matter; and I'm Gerard's comrade and it is
a rule with us soldiers not to tell the enemy aught - but lies."

Catherine sighed, but made no answer.

The adventures he related cost them a tumult of agitation and
grief, and sore they wept at the parting of the friends, which
even now Denys could not tell without faltering. But at last all
merged in the joyful hope and expectation of Gerard's speedy
return. In this Denys confidently shared; but reminded them that
was no reason why he should neglect his friend's wishes and last
words. In fact, should Gerard return next week, and no Margaret to
be found, what sort of figure should he cut?

Catherine had never felt so kindly towards the truant Margaret as
now; and she was fully as anxious to find her, and be kind to her
before Gerard's return, as Denys was; but she could not agree with
him that anything was to be gained by leaving this neighbourhood
to search for her. "She must have told somebody whither she was
going. It is not as though they were dishonest folk flying the
country; they owe not a stiver in Sevenbergen; and dear heart,
Denys, you can't hunt all Holland for her."

"Can I not?" said Denys grimly. "That we shall see." He added,
after some reflection, that they must divide their forces; she
stay here with eyes and ears wide open, and he ransack every town
in Holland for her, if need be. "But she will not be many leagues
from here. They be three. Three fly not so fast, nor far, as one."

"That is sense," said Catherine. But she insisted on his going
first to the demoiselle Van Eyck. "She and our Margaret were bosom
friends. She knows where the girl is gone, if she will but tell
us." Denys was for going to her that instant, so Catherine, in a
turn of the hand, made herself one shade neater, and took him with

She was received graciously by the old lady sitting in a richly
furnished room; and opened her business. The tapestry dropped out
of Margaret Van Eyck's hands. "Gone? Gone from Sevenbergen and not
told me; the thankless girl."

This turn greatly surprised the visitors. "What, you know not?
when was she here last?"

"Maybe ten days agone. I had ta'en out my brushes, after so many
years, to paint her portrait. I did not do it, though; for

Catherine remarked it was "a most strange thing she should go away
bag and baggage like this, without with your leave or by your
leave, why, or wherefore. Was ever aught so untoward; just when
all our hearts are warm to her; and here is Gerard's mate come
from the ends of the earth with comfort for her from Gerard, and
can't find her, and Gerard himself expected. What to do I know
not. But sure she is not parted like this without a reason. Can ye
not give us the clue, my good demoiselle? Prithee now.

"I have it not to give," said the elder lady, rather peevishly.

"Then I can," said Reicht Heynes, showing herself in the doorway,
with colour somewhat heightened.

"So you have been hearkening all the time, eh?"

"What are my ears for, mistress?"

"True. Well, throw us the light of thy wisdom on this dark

"There is no darkness that I see," said Reicht. "And the clue,
why, an ye call't a two-plye twine, and the ends on't in this room
e'en now, ye'll not be far out. Oh, mistress, I wonder at you
sitting there pretending."

"Marry, come up." and the mistress's cheek was now nearly as red
as the servant's. "So 'twas I drove the foolish girl away."

"You did your share, mistress. What sort of greeting gave you her
last time she came? Think you she could miss to notice it, and she
all friendless? And you said, 'I have altered my mind about
painting of you,' says you, a turning up your nose at her."

"I did not turn up my nose. It is not shaped like yours for
looking heavenward."

"Oh, all our nosen can follow our heartys bent, for that matter.
Poor soul. She did come into the kitchen to me. 'I am not to be
painted now,' said she, and the tears in her eyes. She said no
more. But I knew well what she did mean. I had seen ye."

"Well," said Margaret Van Eyck, "I do confess so much, and I make
you the judge, madam. Know that these young girls can do nothing
of their own heads, but are most apt at mimicking aught their
sweethearts do. Now your Gerard is reasonably handy at many
things, and among the rest at the illuminator's craft. And
Margaret she is his pupil, and a patient one: what marvel? having
a woman's eye for colour, and eke a lover to ape. 'Tis a trick I
despise at heart: for by it the great art of colour, which should
be royal, aspiring, and free, becomes a poor slave to the petty
crafts of writing and printing, and is fettered, imprisoned, and
made little, body and soul, to match the littleness of books, and
go to church in a rich fool's pocket. Natheless affection rules us
all, and when the poor wench would bring me her thorn leaves, and
lilies, and ivy, and dewberries, and ladybirds, and butterfly
grubs, and all the scum of Nature-stuck fast in gold-leaf like
wasps in a honey-pot, and withal her diurnal book, showing she had
pored an hundred, or an hundred and fifty, or two hundred hours
over each singular page, certes I was wroth that an immortal soul,
and many hours of labour, and much manual skill, should be flung
away on Nature's trash, leaves, insects, grubs, and on barren
letters; but, having bowels, I did perforce restrain, and as it
were, dam my better feelings, and looked kindly at the work to see
how it might be bettered; and said I, 'Sith Heaven for our sins
hath doomed us to spend time, and soul, and colour on great
letters and little beetles, omitting such small fry as saints and
heroes, their acts and passions, why not present the scum
naturally?' I told her 'the grapes I saw, walking abroad, did hang
i' the air, not stick in a wall; and even these insects,' quo' I,
'and Nature her slime in general, pass not their noxious lives
wedged miserably in metal prisons like flies in honey-pots and
glue-pots, but do crawl or hover at large, infesting air.' 'Ah my
dear friend,' says she, 'I see now whither you drive; but this
ground is gold; whereon we may not shade.' 'Who said so?' quoth I.
'All teachers of this craft,' says she; and (to make an end o' me
at once, I trow) 'Gerard himself!' 'That for Gerard himself,'
quoth I, 'and all the gang; gi'e me a brush!'

"Then chose I, to shade her fruit and reptiles, a colour false in
nature, but true relatively to that monstrous ground of glaring
gold; and in five minutes out came a bunch of raspberries, stalk
and all, and a'most flew in your mouth; likewise a butterfly grub
she had so truly presented as might turn the stoutest stomach. My
lady she flings her arms round my neck, and says she, 'Oh!'"

"Did she now?"

"The little love!" observed Denys, succeeding at last in wedging
in a word.

Margaret Van Eyck stared at him; and then smiled. She went on to
tell them how from step to step she had been led on to promise to
resume the art she had laid aside with a sigh when her brothers
died, and to paint the Madonna once more - with Margaret for
model. Incidentally she even revealed how girls are turned into
saints. "Thy hair is adorable," said I. "Why, 'tis red," quo' she.
"Ay," quoth I, "but what a red! how brown! how glossy! most hair
is not worth a straw to us painters; thine the artist's very hue.
But thy violet eyes, which smack of earth, being now languid for
lack of one Gerard, now full of fire in hopes of the same Gerard,
these will I lift to heaven in fixed and holy meditation, and thy
nose, which doth already somewhat aspire that way (though not so
piously as Reicht's), will I debase a trifle, and somewhat
enfeeble thy chin."

"Enfeeble her chin? Alack! what may that mean? Ye go beyond me,

'Tis a resolute chin. Not a jot too resolute for this wicked
world; but when ye come to a Madonna? No thank you."

"Well I never. A resolute chin."

Denys. "The darling!"

"And now comes the rub. When you told me she was - the way she is,
it gave me a shock; I dropped my brushes. Was I going to turn a
girl, that couldn't keep her lover at a distance, into the Virgin
Mary, at my time of life? I love the poor ninny still. But I adore
our blessed Lady. Say you, 'a painter must not be peevish in such
matters'? Well, most painters are men; and men are fine fellows.
They can do aught. Their saints and virgins are neither more nor
less than their lemans, saving your presence. But know that for
this very reason half their craft is lost on me, which find
beneath their angels' white wings the very trollops I have seen
flaunting it on the streets, bejewelled like Paynim idols, and put
on like the queens in a pack o' cards. And I am not a fine fellow,
but only a woman, and my painting is but one half craft, and
t'other half devotion. So now you may read me. 'Twas foolish,
maybe, but I could not help it; yet am I sorry." And the old lady
ended despondently a discourse which she had commenced in a'mighty
defiant tone.

"Well, you know, dame," observed Catherine, "you must think it
would go to the poor girl's heart, and she so fond of ye?"

Margaret Van Eyck only sighed.

The Frisian girl, after biting her lips impatiently a little
while, turned upon Catherine. "Why, dame, think you 'twas for that
alone Margaret and Peter hath left Sevenbergen? Nay."

"For what else, then?"

"What else? Why, because Gerard's people slight her so cruel. Who
would bide among hard-hearted folk that ha' driven her lad t'
Italy, and now he is gone, relent not, but face it out, and ne'er
come anigh her that is left?"

"Reicht, I was going."

"Oh, ay, going, and going, and going. Ye should ha' said less or
else done more. But with your words you did uplift her heart and
let it down wi' your deeds. 'They have never been,' said the poor
thing to me, with such a sigh. Ay, here is one can feel for her:
for I too am far from my friends, and often, when first I came to
Holland, I did used to take a hearty cry all to myself. But ten
times liever would I be Reicht Heynes with nought but the leagues
atw'een me and all my kith, than be as she is i' the midst of them
that ought to warm to her, and yet to fare as lonesome as I."

"Alack, Reicht, I did go but yestreen, and had gone before, but
one plaguy thing or t'other did still come and hinder me."

"Mistress, did aught hinder ye to eat your dinner any one of those
days? I trow not. And had your heart been as good towards your own
flesh and blood, as 'twas towards your flesher's meat, nought had
prevailed to keep you from her that sat lonely, a watching the
road for you and comfort, wi' your child's child a beating 'neath
her bosom."

Here this rude young woman was interrupted by an incident not
uncommon in a domestic's bright existence. The Van Eyck had been
nettled by the attack on her, but with due tact had gone into
ambush. She now sprang out of it. "Since you disrespect my guests,
seek another place!"

"With all my heart," said Reicht stoutly.

"Nay, mistress," put in the good-natured Catherine. "True folk
will still speak out. Her tongue is a stinger." Here the water
came into the speaker's eyes by way of confirmation. "But better
she said it than thought it. So now 't won't rankle in her. And
part with her for me, that shall ye not. Beshrew the wench, she
wots she is a good servant, and takes advantage. We poor wretches
which keep house must still pay 'em tax for value. I had a good
servant once, when I was a young woman. Eh dear, how she did grind
me down into the dust. In the end, by Heaven's mercy, she married
the baker, and I was my own woman again. 'So,' said I, 'no more
good servants shall come hither, a hectoring o' me.' I just get a
fool and learn her; and whenever she knoweth her right hand from
her left, she sauceth me: then out I bundle her neck and crop, and
take another dunce in her place. Dear heart, 'tis wearisome,
teaching a string of fools by ones; but there - I am mistress:"
here she forgot that she was defending Reicht, and turning rather
spitefully upon her, added, "and you be mistress here, I trow."

"No more than that stool," said the Van Eyck loftily. "She is
neither mistress nor servant; but Gone. She is dismissed the
house, and there's an end of her. What, did ye not hear me turn
the saucy baggage off?"

"Ay, ay. We all heard ye," said Reicht, with vast indifference.

"Then hear me!" said Denys solemnly.

They all went round like things on wheels, and fastened their eyes
on him.

"Ay, let us hear what the man says," urged the hostess. "Men are
fine fellows, with their great hoarse voices."

"Mistress Reicht,"said Denys, with great dignity and ceremony,
indeed so great as to verge on the absurd, "you are turned off. If
on a slight acquaintance I might advise, I'd say, since you are a
servant no more, be a mistress, a queen.

"Easier said than done," replied Reicht bluntly.

"Not a jot. You see here one who is a man, though but half an
arbalestrier, owing to that devilish Englishman's arrow, in whose
carcass I have, however, left a like token, which is a comfort. I
have twenty gold pieces" (he showed them) "and a stout arm. In
another week or so I shall have twain. Marriage is not a habit of
mine; but I capitulate to so many virtues. You are beautiful,
good-hearted, and outspoken, and above all, you take the part of
my she-comrade. Be then an arbalestriesse!"

"And what the dickens is that?" inquired Reicht.

"I mean, be the wife, mistress, and queen of Denys of Burgundy
here present."

A dead silence fell on all.

It did not last long, though; and was followed by a burst of
unreasonable indignation.

Catherine. ". "Well, did you ever?"

Margaret. "Never in all my born days."

Catherine. "Before our very faces."

Margaret. "Of all the absurdity, and insolence of this ridiculous

Then Denys observed somewhat drily, that the female to whom he ad
addressed himself was mute; and the others, on whose eloquence
there was no immediate demand, were fluent: on this the voices
stopped, and the eyes turned pivot-like upon Reicht.

She took a sly glance from under her lashes at her military
assailant, and said, "I mean to take a good look at any man ere I
leap into his arms."

Denys drew himself up majestically. "Then look your fill, and leap

This proposal led to a new and most unexpected result. A long
white finger was extended by the Van Eyck in a line with the
speaker's eye, and an agitated voice bade him stand, in the name
of all the saints. "You are beautiful, so," cried she. "You are
inspired - with folly. What matters that? you are inspired. I must
take off your head." And in a moment she was at work with her
pencil. "Come out, hussy," she screamed to Reicht. "more in front
of him, and keep the fool inspired and beautiful. Oh, why had I
not this maniac for my good centurion? They went and brought me a
brute with a low forehead and a shapeless beard."

Catherine stood and looked with utter amazement at this pantomime,
and secretly resolved that her venerable hostess had been a
disguised lunatic all this time, and was now busy throwing off the
mask. As for Reicht, she was unhappy and cross. She had left her
caldron in a precarious state, and made no scruple to say so, and
that duties so grave as hers left her no "time to waste a playing
the statee and the fool all at one time." Her mistress in reply
reminded her that it was possible to be rude and rebellious to
one's poor, old, affectionate, desolate mistress, without being
utterly heartless and savage; and a trampler on arts.

On this Reicht stopped, and pouted, and looked like a little
basilisk at the inspired model who caused her woe. He retorted
with unshaken admiration. The situation was at last dissolved by
the artist's wrist becoming cramped from disuse; this was not,
however, until she had made a rough but noble sketch. "I can work
no more at present," said she sorrowfully.

"Then, now, mistress, I may go and mind my pot?"

"Ay, ay, go to your pot! And get into it, do; you will find your
soul in it: so then you will all be together."

"Well, but, Reicht," said Catherine, laughing, "she turned you

"Boo, boo, boo!" said Reicht contemptuously. "When she wants to
get rid of me, let her turn herself off and die. I am sure she is
old enough for't. But take your time, mistress; if you are in no
hurry, no more am I. When that day doth come, 'twill take a man to
dry my eyes; and if you should be in the same mind then, soldier,
you can say so; and if you are not, why, 'twill be all one to
Reicht Heynes."

And the plain speaker went her way. But her words did not fall to
the ground. Neither of her female hearers could disguise from
herself that this blunt girl, solitary herself, had probably read
Margaret Brandt aright, and that she had gone away from
Sevenbergen broken-hearted.

Catherine and Denys bade the Van Eyck adieu, and that same
afternoon Denys set out on a wild goose chase. His plan, like all
great things, was simple. He should go to a hundred towns and
villages, and ask in each after an old physician with a fair
daughter, and an old long-bow soldier. He should inquire of the
burgomasters about all new-comers, and should go to the fountains
and watch the women and girls as they came with their pitchers for

And away he went, and was months and months on the tramp, and
could not find her.

Happily, this chivalrous feat of friendship was in some degree its
own reward.

Those who sit at home blindfolded by self-conceit, and think camel
or man out of the depths of their inner consciousness, alias their
ignorance, will tell you that in the intervals of war and danger,
peace and tranquil life acquire their true value and satisfy the
heroic mind. But those who look before they babble or scribble
will see and say that men who risk their lives habitually thirst
for exciting pleasures between the acts of danger, are not for
innocent tranquility.

To this Denys was no exception. His whole military life had been
half sparta, half Capua. And he was too good a soldier and too
good a libertine to have ever mixed either habit with the other.
But now for the first time he found himself mixed; at peace and
yet on duty; for he took this latter view of his wild goose chase,
luckily. So all these months he was a demi-Spartan; sober,
prudent, vigilant, indomitable; and happy, though constantly
disappointed, as might have been expected. He flirted gigantically
on the road; but wasted no time about it. Nor in these his
wanderings did he tell a single female that "marriage was not one
of his habits, etc."

And so we leave him on the tramp, "Pilgrim of Friendship," as his
poor comrade was of Love.


Catherine was in dismay when she reflected that Gerard must reach
home in another month at farthest, more likely in a week; and how
should she tell him she had not even kept an eye upon his
betrothed? Then there was the uncertainty as to the girl's fate;
and this uncertainty sometimes took a sickening form.

"Oh, Kate," she groaned, "if she should have gone and made herself

"Mother, she would never be so wicked."

"Ah, my lass, you know not what hasty fools young lasses be, that
have no mothers to keep 'em straight. They will fling themselves
into the water for a man that the next man they meet would ha'
cured 'em of in a week. I have known 'em to jump in like brass one
moment and scream for help in the next. Couldn't know their own
minds ye see even about such a trifle as yon. And then there's
times when their bodies ail like no other living creatures ever I
could hear of, and that strings up their feelings so, the
patience, that belongs to them at other times beyond all living
souls barring an ass, seems all to jump out of 'em at one turn,
and into the water they go. Therefore, I say that men are


"Monsters, and no less, to go making such heaps o' canals just to
tempt the poor women in. They know we shall not cut our throats,
hating the sight of blood and rating our skins a hantle higher nor
our lives; and as for hanging, while she is a fixing of the nail
and a making of the noose she has time t' alter her mind. But a
jump into a canal is no more than into bed; and the water it does
all the lave, will ye, nill ye. Why, look at me, the mother o'
nine, wasn't I agog to make a hole in our canal for the nonce?"

"Nay, mother, I'll never believe it of you."

"Ye may, though. 'Twas in the first year of our keeping house
together. Eli hadn't found out my weak stitches then, nor I his;
so we made a rent, pulling contrariwise; had a quarrel. So then I
ran crying, to tell some gabbling fool like myself what I had no
business to tell out o' doors except to the saints, and there was
one of our precious canals in the way; do they take us for teal?
Oh, how tempting it did look! Says I to myself, 'Sith he has let
me go out of his door quarrelled, he shall see me drowned next,
and then he will change his key. He will blubber a good one, and I
shall look down from heaven' (I forgot I should be in t'other
part), 'and see him take on, and oh, but that will be sweet!' and
I was all a tiptoe and going in, only just then I thought I
wouldn't. I had got a new gown a making, for one thing, and hard
upon finished. So I went home instead, and what was Eli's first
word, 'Let yon flea stick i' the wall, my lass,' says he. 'Not a
word of all I said t' anger thee was sooth, but this, "I love
thee."' These were his very words; I minded 'em, being the first
quarrel. So I flung my arms about his neck and sobbed a bit, and
thought o' the canal; and he was no colder to me than I to him,
being a man and a young one; and so then that was better than
lying in the water; and spoiling my wedding kirtle and my fine new
shoon, old John Bush made 'em, that was uncle to him keeps the
shop now. And what was my grief to hers?"

Little Kate hoped that Margaret loved her father too much to think
of leaving him so at his age. "He is father and mother and all to
her, you know."

"Nay, Kate, they do forget all these things in a moment o' despair
when the very sky seems black above them. I place more faith in
him that is unborn, than on him that is ripe for the grave, to
keep her out o' mischief. For certes it do go sore against us to
die when there's a little innocent a pulling at our hearts to let
'un live, and feeding at our very veins."

"Well, then, keep up a good heart, mother." She added, that very
likely all these fears were exaggerated. She ended by solemnly
entreating her mother at all events not to persist in naming the
sex of Margaret's infant. It was so unlucky, all the gossips told
her; "dear heart, as if there were not as many girls born as

This reflection, though not unreasonable, was met with clamour.

"Have you the cruelty to threaten me with a girl!!? I want no more
girls, while I have you. What use would a lass be to me? Can I set
her on my knee and see my Gerard again as I can a boy? I tell thee
'tis all settled.

"How may that be?"

"In my mind. And if I am to be disappointed i' the end, 'tisn't
for you to disappoint me beforehand, telling me it is not to be a
child, but only a girl."


MARGARET BRANDT had always held herself apart from Sevenbergen;
and her reserve had passed for pride; this had come to her ears,
and she knew many hearts were swelling with jealousy and
malevolence. How would they triumph over her when her condition
could no longer be concealed! This thought gnawed her night and
day. For some time it had made her bury herself in the house, and
shun daylight even on those rare occasions when she went abroad.

Not that in her secret heart and conscience she mistook her moral
situation, as my unlearned readers have done perhaps. Though not
acquainted with the nice distinctions of the contemporary law, she
knew that betrothal was a marriage contract, and could no more be
legally broken on either side than any other compact written and
witnessed; and that marriage with another party than the betrothed
had been formerly annulled both by Church and State and that
betrothed couples often came together without any further
ceremony, and their children were legitimate.

But what weighed down her simple mediaeval mind was this: that
very contract of betrothal was not forthcoming. Instead of her
keeping it, Gerard had got it, and Gerard was far, far away. She
hated and despised herself for the miserable oversight which had
placed her at the mercy of false opinion.

For though she had never heard Horace's famous couplet, Segnius
irritant, etc., she was Horatian by the plain, hard, positive
intelligence, which, strange to say, characterizes the judgment of
her sex, when feeling happens not to blind it altogether. She
gauged the understanding of the world to a T. Her marriage lines
being out of sight, and in Italy, would never prevail to balance
her visible pregnancy, and the sight of her child when born. What
sort of a tale was this to stop slanderous tongues? "I have got my
marriage lines, but I cannot show them you." What woman would
believe her? or even pretend to believe her? And as she was in
reality one of the most modest girls in Holland, it was women's
good opinion she wanted, not men's.

Even barefaced slander attacks her sex at a great advantage; but
here was slander with a face of truth. "The strong-minded woman"
had not yet been invented; and Margaret, though by nature and by
having been early made mistress of a family, she was resolute in
some respects, was weak as water in others, and weakest of all in
this. Like all the elite of her sex, she was a poor little leaf,
trembling at each gust of the world's opinion, true or false. Much
misery may be contained in few words. I doubt if pages of
description from any man's pen could make any human creature,
except virtuous women (and these need no such aid), realize the
anguish of a virtuous woman foreseeing herself paraded as a frail
one. Had she been frail at heart, she might have brazened it out.
But she had not that advantage. She was really pure as snow, and
saw the pitch coming nearer her and nearer. The poor girl sat
listless hours at a time, and moaned with inner anguish. And
often, when her father was talking to her, and she giving
mechanical replies, suddenly her cheek would burn like fire, and
the old man would wonder what he had said to discompose her.
Nothing. His words were less than air to her. It was the
ever-present dread sent the colour of shame into her burning
cheek, no matter what she seemed to be talking and thinking about.
But both shame and fear rose to a climax when she came back that
night from Margaret Van Eyck's. Her condition was discovered, and
by persons of her own sex. The old artist, secluded like herself,
might not betray her; but Catherine, a gossip in the centre of a
family, and a thick neighbourhood? One spark of hope remained.
Catherine had spoken kindly, even lovingly. The situation admitted
no half course. Gerard's mother thus roused must either be her
best friend or worst enemy. She waited then in racking anxiety to
hear more. No word came. She gave up hope. Catherine was not going
to be her friend. Then she would expose her, since she had no
strong and kindly feeling to balance the natural love of babbling.

Then it was the wish to fly from this neighbourhood began to grow
and gnaw upon her, till it became a wild and passionate desire.
But how persuade her father to this? Old people cling to places.
He was very old and infirm to change his abode. There was no
course but to make him her confidant; better so than to run away
from him; and she felt that would be the alternative. And now
between her uncontrollable desire to fly and hide, and her
invincible aversion to speak out to a man, even to her father, she
vibrated in a suspense full of lively torture. And presently
betwixt these two came in one day the fatal thought, "end all!"
Things foolishly worded are not always foolish; one of poor
Catherine's bugbears, these numerous canals, did sorely tempt this
poor fluctuating girl. She stood on the bank one afternoon, and
eyed the calm deep water. It seemed an image of repose, and she
was so harassed. No more trouble. No more fear of shame. If Gerard
had not loved her, I doubt she had ended there.

As it was, she kneeled by the water side, and prayed fervently to
God to keep such wicked thoughts from her. "Oh! selfish wretch,"
said she, "to leave thy father. Oh, wicked wretch, to kill thy
child, and make thy poor Gerard lose all his pain and peril
undertaken for thy sight. I will tell father all, ay, ere this sun
shall set." And she went home with eager haste, lest her good
resolution should ooze out ere she got there.

Now, in matters domestic the learned Peter was simple as a child,
and Margaret, from the age of sixteen, had governed the house
gently but absolutely. It was therefore a strange thing in this
house, the faltering, irresolute way in which its young but
despotic mistress addressed that person, who in a domestic sense
was less important than Martin Wittenhaagen, or even than the
little girl who came in the morning and for a pittance washed the
vessels, etc., and went home at night.

"Father, I would speak to thee."

"Speak on, girl."

"Wilt listen to me? And - and - not - and try to excuse my

"We have all our faults, Margaret, thou no more than the rest of
us; but fewer, unless parental feeling blinds me."

"Alas, no, father: I am a poor foolish girl, that would fain do
well, but have done ill, most ill, most unwisely; and now must
bear the shame. But, father, I love you, with all my faults, and
will not you forgive my folly, and still love your motherless

"That ye may count on," said Peter cheerfully.

"Oh, well, smile not. For then how can I speak and make you sad?"

"Why, what is the matter?"

"Father, disgrace is coming on this house: it is at the door. And
I the culprit. Oh, father, turn your head away. I - I - father, I
have let Gerard take away my marriage lines."

"Is that all? 'Twas an oversight."

"'Twas the deed of a mad woman. But woe is me! that is not the

Peter interrupted her. "The youth is honest, and loves you dear.
You are young. What is a year or two to you? Gerard will assuredly
come back and keep troth."

"And meantime know you what is coming?"

"Not I, except that I shall be gone first for one."

"Worse than that. There is worse pain than death. Nay, for pity's
sake turn away your head, father."

"Foolish wench!" muttered Peter, but turned his head.

She trembled violently, and with her cheeks on fire began to
falter out, "I did look on Gerard as my husband - we being
betrothed-and he was in so sore danger, and I thought I had killed
him, and I-oh, if you were but my mother I might find courage: you
would question me. But you say not a word."

"Why, Margaret, what is all this coil about? and why are thy
cheeks crimson, speaking to no stranger', but to thy old father?"

"Why are my cheeks on fire? Because - because - father kill me;
send me to heaven! bid Martin shoot me with his arrow! And then
the gossips will come and tell you why I blush so this day. And
then, when I am dead, I hope you will love your girl again for her
mother's sake."

"Give me thy hand, mistress," said Peter, a little sternly.

She put it out to him trembling. He took it gently and began with
some anxiety in his face to feel her pulse.

"Alas, nay," said she. "'Tis my soul that burns, not my body, with
fever. I cannot, will not, bide in Sevenbergen." And she wrung her
hands impatiently.

"Be calm now," said the old man soothingly, "nor torment thyself
for nought. Not bide in Sevenbergen? What need to bide a day, as
it vexes thee, and puts thee in a fever: for fevered thou art,
deny it not."

"What!" cried Margaret, "would you yield to go hence, and - and
ask no reason but my longing to be gone?" and suddenly throwing
herself on her knees beside him, in a fervour of supplication she
clutched his sleeve, and then his arm, and then his shoulder,
while imploring him to quit this place, and not ask her why.
"Alas! what needs it? You will soon see it. And I could never say
it. I would liever die."

"Foolish child, who seeks thy girlish secrets? Is it I, whose life
hath been spent in searching Nature's? And for leaving
Sevenbergen, what is there to keep me in it, thee unwilling? Is
there respect for me here, or gratitude? Am I not yclept
quacksalver by those that come not near me, and wizard by those I
heal? And give they not the guerdon and the honour they deny me to
the empirics that slaughter them? Besides, what is't to me where
we sojourn? Choose thou that, as did thy mother before thee."

Margaret embraced him tenderly, and wept upon his shoulder.

She was respited.

Yet as she wept, respited, she almost wished she had had the
courage to tell him.

After a while nothing would content him but her taking a
medicament he went and brought her. She took it submissively, to
please him. It was the least she could do. It was a composing
draught, and though administered under an error, and a common one,
did her more good than harm: she awoke calmed by a long sleep, and
that very day began her preparations.

Next week they went to Rotterdam, bag and baggage, and lodged
above a tailor's shop in the Brede-Kirk Straet.

Only one person in Tergou knew whither they were gone.

The Burgomaster.

He locked the information in his own breast.

The use he made of it ere long, my reader will not easily divine:
for he did not divine it himself.

But time will show.


Among strangers Margaret Brandt was comparatively happy. And soon
a new and unexpected cause of content arose. A civic dignitary
being ill, and fanciful in proportion, went from doctor to doctor;
and having arrived at death's door, sent for Peter. Peter found
him bled and purged to nothing. He flung a battalion of bottles
out of window, and left it open; beat up yolks of eggs in neat
Schiedam, and administered it in small doses; followed this up by
meat stewed in red wine and water, shredding into both mild
febrifugal herbs, that did no harm. Finally, his patient got about
again, looking something between a man and a pillow-case, and
being a voluble dignitary, spread Peter's fame in every street;
and that artist, who had long merited a reputation in vain, made
one rapidly by luck. Things looked bright. The old man's pride was
cheered at last, and his purse began to fill. He spent much of his
gain, however, in sovereign herbs and choice drugs, and would have
so invested them all, but Margaret white-mailed a part. The
victory came too late. Its happy excitement was fatal.

One evening, in bidding her good-night, his voice seemed rather

The next morning he was found speechless, and only just sensible.

Margaret, who had been for years her father's attentive pupil,saw
at once that he had had a paralytic stroke. But not trusting to
herself, she ran for a doctor. One of those who, obstructed by
Peter, had not killed the civic dignitary, came, and cheerfully
confirmed her views. He was for bleeding the patient. She
declined. "He was always against blooding," said she, "especially
the old." Peter lived, but was never the same man again. His
memory became much affected, and of course he was not to be
trusted to prescribe; and several patients had come, and one or
two, that were bent on being cured by the new doctor and no other,
awaited his convalescence. Misery stared her in the face. She
resolved to go for advice and comfort to her cousin William
Johnson, from whom she had hitherto kept aloof out of pride and
poverty. She found him and his servant sitting in the same room,
and neither of them the better for liquor. Mastering all signs of
surprise, she gave her greetings, and presently told him she had
come to talk on a family matter, and with this glanced quietly at
the servant by way of hint. The woman took it, but not as

"Oh, you can speak before me, can she not, my old man?"

At this familiarity Margaret turned very red, and said -

"I cry you mercy, mistress. I knew not my cousin had fallen into
the custom of this town. Well, I must take a fitter opportunity;"
and she rose to go.

"I wot not what ye mean by custom o' the town," said the woman,
bouncing up. "But this I know; 'tis the part of a faithful servant
to keep her master from being preyed on by his beggarly kin."

Margaret retorted: "Ye are too modest, mistress. Ye are no
servant. Your speech betrays you. 'Tis not till the ape hath
mounted the tree that she, shows her tail so plain. Nay, there
sits the servant; God help him! And while so it is, fear not thou
his kin will ever be so poor in spirit as come where the likes of
you can flout their dole." And casting one look of mute reproach
at her cousin for being so little of a man as to sit passive and
silent all this time, she turned and went haughtily out; nor would
she shed a single tear till she got home and thought of it. And
now here were two men to be lodged and fed by one pregnant girl;
and another mouth coming into the world.

But this last, though the most helpless of all, was their best

Nature was strong in Margaret Brandt; that same nature which makes
the brutes, the birds, and the insects, so cunning at providing
food and shelter for their progeny yet to come.

Stimulated by nature she sat and brooded, and brooded, and
thought, and thought, how to be beforehand with destitution. Ay,
though she had still five gold pieces left, she saw starvation
coming with inevitable foot.

Her sex, when, deviating from custom, it thinks with male
intensity, thinks just as much to the purpose as we do. She rose,
bade Martin move Peter to another room, made her own very neat and
clean, polished the glass globe, and suspended it from the
ceiling, dusted the crocodile and nailed him to the outside wall;
and after duly instructing Martin, set him to play the lounging
sentinel about the street door, and tell the crocodile-bitten that
a great, and aged, and learned alchymist abode there, who in his
moments of recreation would sometimes amuse himself by curing
mortal diseases.

Patients soon came, and were received by Margaret, and demanded to
see the leech. "That might not be. He was deep in his studies,
searching for the grand elixir, and not princes could have speech
of him. They must tell her their symptoms, and return in two
hours." And oh! mysterious powers! when they did return, the drug
or draught was always ready for them. Sometimes, when it was a
worshipful patient, she would carefully scan his face, and feeling
both pulse and skin, as well as hearing his story, would go softly
with it to Peter's room; and there think and ask herself how her
father, whose system she had long quietly observed, would have
treated the case. Then she would write an illegible scrawl with a
cabalistic letter, and bring it down reverently, and show it the
patient, and "Could he read that?" Then it would be either, "I am
no reader," or, with admiration, "Nay, mistress, nought can I make

"Ay, but I can. 'Tis sovereign. Look on thyself as cured!" If she
had the materials by her, and she was too good an economist not to
favour somewhat those medicines she had in her own stock, she
would sometimes let the patient see her compound it, often and
anxiously consulting the sacred prescription lest great Science
should suffer in her hands. And so she would send them away
relieved of cash, but with their pockets full of medicine, and
minds full of faith, and humbugged to their hearts' content.
Populus vult decipi. And when they were gone, she would take down
two little boxes Gerard had made her; and on one of these she had
written To-day, and on the other To-morrow, and put the smaller
coins into "To-day," and the larger into "To-morrow," along with
such of her gold pieces as had survived the journey from
Sevenbergen, and the expenses of housekeeping in a strange place.
and so she met current expenses, and laid by for the rainy day she
saw coming, and mixed drugs with simples, and vice with virtue. On
this last score her conscience pricked her sore, and after each
day's comedy, she knelt down and prayed God to forgive her "for
the sake of her child." But lo and behold, cure and cure was
reported to her; so then her conscience began to harden. Martin
Wittenhaagen had of late been a dead weight on her hands. Like
most men who had endured great hardships, he had stiffened rather
suddenly. But though less supple, he was as strong as ever, and at
his own pace could have carried the doctor herself round Rotterdam
city. He carried her slops instead.

In this new business he showed the qualities of a soldier:
unreasoning obedience, punctuality, accuracy, despatch, and

He fell among "good fellows;" the blackguards plied him with
Schiedam; he babbled, he bragged.

Doctor Margaret had risen very high in his estimation. All this
brandishing of a crocodile for a standard, and setting a dotard in
ambush, and getting rid of slops, and taking good money in
exchange, struck him not as Science but something far superior,
Strategy. And he boasted in his cups and before a mixed company
how "me and my General we are a biting of the burghers.

When this revelation had had time to leaven the city, his General,
Doctor Margaret, received a call from the constables; they took
her, trembling and begging subordinate machines to forgive her,
before the burgomaster; and by his side stood real physicians, a
terrible row, in long robes and square caps, accusing her of
practising unlawfully on the bodies of the duke's lieges. At first
she was too frightened to say a word. Novice like, the very name
of "Law" paralyzed her. But being questioned closely, but not so
harshly as if she had been ugly, she told the truth; she had long
been her father's pupil, and had but followed his system, and she
had cured many; "and it is not for myself in very deed, sirs, but
I have two poor helpless honest men at home upon my hands, and how
else can I keep them? Ah, good sirs, let a poor girl make her
bread honestly; ye hinder them not to make it idly and shamefully;
and oh, sirs, ye are husbands, ye are fathers; ye cannot but see I
have reason to work and provide as best I may;" and ere this
woman's appeal had left her lips, she would have given the world
to recall it, and stood with one hand upon her heart and one
before her face, hiding it, but not the tears that trickled
underneath it. All which went to the wrong address. Perhaps a
female bailiff might have yielded to such arguments, and bade her
practise medicine, and break law, till such time as her child
should be weaned, and no longer.

"What have we to do with that," said the burgomaster, save and
except that if thou wilt pledge thyself to break the law no more,
I will remit the imprisonment, and exact but the fine?"

On this Doctor Margaret clasped her hands together, and vowed most
penitently never, never, never to cure body or beast again; and
being dismissed with the constables to pay the fine, she turned at
the door, and curtsied, poor soul, and thanked the gentlemen for
their forbearance.

And to pay the fine the "To-morrow box" must be opened on the
instant; and with excess of caution she had gone and nailed it up,
that no slight temptation might prevail to open it. And now she
could not draw the nails, and the constables grew impatient, and
doubted its contents, and said, "Let us break it for you." But she
would not let them. "Ye will break it worse than I shall." And she
took a hammer, and struck too faintly, and lost all strength for a
minute, and wept hysterically; and at last she broke it, and a
little cry bubbled from her when it broke; and she paid the fine,
and it took all her unlawful gains and two gold pieces to boot;
and when the men were gone, she drew the broken pieces of the box,
and what little money they had left her, all together on the
table, and her arms went round them, and her rich hair escaped,
and fell down all loose, and she bowed her forehead on the wreck,
and sobbed, "My love's box it is broken, and my heart withal;" and
so remained. And Martin Wittenhaagen came in, and she could not
lift her head, but sighed out to him what had befallen her,
ending, "My love his box is broken, and so mine heart is broken."

And Martin was not so sad as wroth. Some traitor had betrayed him.
What stony heart had told and brought her to this pass? Whoever it
was should feel his arrow's point. The curious attitude in which
he must deliver the shaft never occurred to him.

"Idle chat! idle chat!" moaned Margaret, without lifting her brow
from the table. "When you have slain all the gossips in this town,
can we eat them? Tell me how to keep you all, or prithee hold thy
peace, and let the saints get leave to whisper me." Martin held
his tongue, and cast uneasy glances at his defeated General.

Towards evening she rose, and washed her face and did up her hair,
and doggedly bade Martin take down the crocodile, and put out a
basket instead.

"I can get up linen better than they seem to do it in this
street," said she, "and you must carry it in the basket."

"That will I for thy sake," said the soldier.

"Good Martin! forgive me that I spake shrewishly to thee."

Even while they were talking came a male for advice. Margaret told
it the mayor had interfered and forbidden her to sell drugs.
"But," said she, "I will gladly iron and starch your linen for
you, and I will come and fetch it from your house."

"Are ye mad, young woman?" said the male. "I come for a leech, and
ye proffer me a washerwoman;" and it went out in dudgeon.

"There is a stupid creature," said Margaret sadly.

Presently came a female to tell the symptoms of her sick child.
Margaret stopped it.

"We are forbidden by the bailiff to sell drugs. But I will gladly
wash, iron, and starch your linen for you-and-I will come and
fetch it from your house."

"Oh, ay," said the female. "Well, I have some smocks and ruffs
foul. Come for them; and when you are there, you can look at the
boy;" and it told her where it lived, and when its husband would
be out; yet it was rather fond of its husband than not.

An introduction is an introduction. And two or three patients out
of all those who came and were denied medicine made Doctor
Margaret their washerwoman.

"Now, Martin, you must help. I'll no more cats than can slay

"Mistress, the stomach is not awanting for't, but the headpiece,
worst luck."

"Oh! I mean not the starching and ironing; that takes a woman and
a handy one. But the bare washing; a man can surely contrive that.
Why, a mule has wit enough in's head to do't with his hoofs, an'
ye could drive him into the tub. Come, off doublet, and try."

"I am your man," said the brave old soldier, stripping for the
unwonted toil. "I'll risk my arm in soapsuds, an you will risk
your glory."

"My what?"

"Your glory and honour as a - washerwoman."

"Gramercy! if you are man enough to bring me half-washed linen t'
iron, I am woman enough to fling't back i' the suds."

And so the brave girl and the brave soldier worked with a will,
and kept the wolf from the door. More they could not do. Margaret
had repaired the "To-morrow box," and as she leaned over the glue,
her tears mixed with it, and she cemented her exiled lover's box
with them, at which a smile is allowable, but an intelligent smile
tipped with pity, please, and not the empty guffaw of the
nineteenth-century-jackass, burlesquing Bibles, and making fun of
all things except fun. But when mended it stood unreplenished.
They kept the weekly rent paid, and the pot boiling, but no more.

And now came a concatenation. Recommended from one to another,
Margaret washed for the mayor. And bringing home the clean linen
one day she heard in the kitchen that his worship's only daughter
was stricken with disease, and not like to live, Poor Margaret
could not help cross-questioning, and a female servant gave her
such of the symptoms as she had observed. But they were too
general. However, one gossip would add one fact, and another
another. And Margaret pondered them all.

At last one day she met the mayor himself. He recognized her
directly. "Why, you are the unlicensed doctor." "I was," said she,
"but now I'm your worship's washerwoman." The dignitary coloured,
and said that was rather a come down. "Nay, I bear no malice; for
your worship might have been harder. Rather would I do you a good
turn. Sir, you have a sick daughter. Let me see her."

The mayor shook his head. "That cannot be. The law I do enforce on
others I may not break myself." Margaret opened her eyes. "Alack,
sir, I seek no guerdon now for curing folk; why, I am a
washerwoman. I trow one may heal all the world, an if one will but
let the world starve one in return." "That is no more than just,"
said the mayor: he added, "an' ye make no trade on't, there is no
offence." "Then let me see her."

"What avails it? The learnedest leeches in Rotterdam have all seen
her, and bettered her nought. Her ill is inscrutable. One skilled
wight saith spleen; another, liver; another, blood; another,
stomach; and another, that she is possessed; and in very truth,
she seems to have a demon; shunneth all company; pineth alone;
eateth no more victuals than might diet a sparrow. Speaketh
seldom, nor hearkens them that speak, and weareth thinner and
paler and nearer and nearer the grave, well-a-day." "Sir," said
Margaret, "an if you take your velvet doublet to half-a-dozen of
shops in Rotterdam, and speer is this fine or sorry velvet, and
worth how much the ell, those six traders will eye it and feel it,
and all be in one story to a letter. And why? Because they know
their trade. And your leeches are all in different stories. Why?
Because they know not their trade. I have heard my father say each
is enamoured of some one evil, and seeth it with his bat's eye in
every patient. Had they stayed at home, and never seen your
daughter, they had answered all the same, spleen, blood, stomach,
lungs, liver, lunacy, or as they call it possession. Let me see
her. We are of a sex, and that is much." And when he still
hesitated, "Saints of heaven!" cried she, giving way to the
irritability of a breeding woman, "is this how men love their own
flesh and blood? Her mother had ta'en me in her arms ere this, and
carried me to the sick room." And two violet eyes flashed fire.

"Come with me," said the mayor hastily.

"Mistress, I have brought thee a new doctor."

The person addressed, a pale young girl of eighteen, gave a
contemptuous wrench of her shoulder, and turned more decidedly to
the fire she was sitting over.

Margaret came softly and sat beside her. "But 'tis one that will
not torment you.

"A woman!" exclaimed the young lady, with surprise and some

"Tell her your symptoms."

"What for? you will be no wiser."

"You will be none the worse."

"Well, I have no stomach for food, and no heart for any thing. Now
cure me, and go."

"Patience awhile! Your food, is it tasteless like in your mouth?"

"Ay. How knew you that?"

"Nay, I knew it not till you did tell me. I trow you would be
better for a little good company."

"I trow not. What is their silly chat to me?"

Here Margaret requested the father to leave them alone; and in his
absence put some practical questions. Then she reflected.

"When you wake i' the morning you find yourself quiver, as one may

"Nay. Ay. How knew you that?"

"Shall I dose you, or shall I but tease you a bit with my silly

"Which you will."

"Then I will tell you a story. 'Tis about two true lovers."

"I hate to hear of lovers," said the girl; "nevertheless canst
tell me, 'twill be less nauseous than your physic - maybe."

Margaret then told her a love story. The maiden was a girl called
Ursel, and the youth one Conrad; she an old physician's daughter,
he the son of a hosier at Tergou. She told their adventures, their
troubles, their sad condition. She told it from the female point
of view, and in a sweet and winning and earnest voice, that by
degrees soon laid hold of this sullen heart, and held it
breathless; and when she broke it off her patient was much

"Nay, nay, I must hear the end. I will hear it."

"Ye cannot, for I know it not; none knoweth that but God."

"Ah, your Ursel was a jewel of worth," said the girl earnestly.
"Would she were here."

"Instead of her that is here?"

"I say not that;" and she blushed a little.

"You do but think it."

"Thought is free. Whether or no, an she were here, I'd give her a
buss, poor thing."

"Then give it me, for I am she."

"Nay, nay, that I'll be sworn y' are not."

"Say not so; in very truth I am she. And prithee, sweet mistress,
go not from your word, but give me the buss ye promised me, and
with a good heart, for oh, my own heart lies heavy: heavy as
thine, sweet mistress."

The young gentlewoman rose and put her arms round Margaret's neck
and kissed her. "I am woe for you," she sighed. "You are a good
soul; you have done me good - a little." (A gulp came in her
throat.) "Come again! come again!"

Margaret did come again, and talked with her, and gently, but
keenly watched what topics interested her, and found there was but
one. Then she said to the mayor, "I know your daughter's trouble,
and 'tis curable."

"What is't? the blood?"


"The stomach?"


"The liver?"


"The foul fiend?"


"What then?"


"Love? stuff, impossible! She is but a child; she never stirs
abroad unguarded. She never hath from a child."

"All the better; then we shall not have far to look for him."

"I vow not. I shall but command her to tell me the caitiff's name,
that hath by magic arts ensnared her young affections."

"Oh, how foolish be the wise!" said Margaret; "what, would ye go
and put her on her guard? Nay, let us work by art first; and if
that fails, then 'twill still be time for violence and folly."

Margaret then with some difficulty prevailed on the mayor to take
advantage of its being Saturday, and pay all his people their
salaries in his daughter's presence and hers.

It was done: some fifteen people entered the room, and received
their pay with a kind word from their employer. Then Margaret, who
had sat close to the patient all the time, rose and went out. The
mayor followed her.

"Sir, how call you yon black-haired lad?"

"That is Ulrich, my clerk."

"Well then, 'tis he."

"Now Heaven forbid a lad I took out of the streets."

"Well, but your worship is an understanding man. You took him not
up without some merit of his?"

"Merit? not a jot! I liked the looks of the brat, that was all."

"Was that no merit? He pleased the father's eye. And now who had
pleased the daughter's. That has oft been seen since Adam."

"How know ye 'tis he?"

"I held her hand, and with my finger did lightly touch her wrist;
and when the others came and went, 'twas as if dogs and cats had
fared in and out. But at this Ulrich's coming her pulse did leap,
and her eye shine; and when he went, she did sink back and sigh;
and 'twas to be seen the sun had gone out of the room for her.
Nay, burgomaster, look not on me so scared: no witch or magician
I, but a poor girl that hath been docile, and so bettered herself
by a great neglected leech's art and learning. I tell ye all this
hath been done before, thousands of years ere we were born. Now
bide thou there till I come to thee, and prithee, prithee, spoil
not good work wi' meddling." She then went back and asked her
patient for a lock of her hair.

"Take it," said she, more listlessly than ever.

"Why, 'tis a lass of marble. How long do you count to be like
that, mistress?"

"Till I am in my grave, sweet Peggy."

"Who knows? maybe in ten minutes you will be altogether as hot."

She ran into the shop, but speedily returned to the mayor and
said, "Good news! He fancies her and more than a little. Now how
is't to be? Will you marry your child, or bury her, for there is
no third way, for shame and love they do rend her virgin heart to

The dignitary decided for the more cheerful rite, but not without
a struggle; and with its marks on his face he accompanied Margaret
to his daughter. But as men are seldom in a hurry to drink their
wormwood, he stood silent. So Doctor Margaret said cheerfully,
"Mistress, your lock is gone; I have sold it."

"And who was so mad as to buy such a thing?" inquired the young
lady scornfully.

"Oh, a black-haired laddie wi' white teeth. They call him Ulrich."

The pale face reddened directly, brow and all.

"Says he, 'Oh, sweet mistress, give it me.' I had told them all
whose 'twas. 'Nay,' said I, 'selling is my livelihood, not
giving.' So he offered me this, he offered me that, but nought
less would I take than his next quarter's wages.

"Cruel," murmured the girl, scarce audibly.

"Why, you are in one tale with your father. Says he to me when I
told him, 'Oh, an he loves her hair so well, 'tis odd but he loves
the rest of her. Well,' quoth he, ''tis an honest lad, and a shall
have her, gien she will but leave her sulks and consent.' So, what
say ye, mistress, will you be married to Ulrich, or buried i' the

"Father! father!"

"'Tis so, girl, speak thy mind."

"I will obey my father - in all things," stammered the poor girl,
trying hard to maintain the advantageous position in which
Margaret had placed her. But nature, and the joy and surprise,
were too strong even for a virgin's bashful cunning. She cast an
eloquent look on them both, and sank at her father's knees, and
begged his pardon, with many sobs for having doubted his

He raised her in his arms, and took her, radiant through her tears
with joy, and returning life, and filial love, to his breast; and
the pair passed a truly sacred moment, and the dignitary was as
happy as he thought to be miserable; so hard is it for mortals to
foresee. And they looked round for Margaret, but she had stolen
away softly.

The young girl searched the house for her.

"Where is she hid? Where on earth is she?"

Where was she? why, in her own house, dressing meat for her two
old children, and crying bitterly the while at the living picture
of happiness she had just created.

"Well-a-day, the odds between her lot and mine; well-a-day!"

Next time she met the dignitary he hemm'd and hawed, and remarked
what a pity it was the law forbade him to pay her who had cured
his daughter. "However, when all is done, 'twas not art, 'twas but
woman's wit."

"Nought but that, burgomaster," said Margaret bitterly. "Pay the
men of art for not curing her: all the guerdon I seek, that cured
her, is this: go not and give your foul linen away from me by way
of thanks."

"Why should I?" inquired he.

"Marry, because there be fools about ye will tell ye she that hath
wit to cure dark diseases, cannot have wit to take dirt out o'
rags; so pledge me your faith."

The dignitary promised pompously, and felt all the patron.

Something must be done to fill "To-morrow's" box. She hawked her
initial letters and her illuminated vellums all about the town.
Printing had by this time dealt caligraphy in black and white a
terrible blow in Holland and Germany. But some copies of the
printed books were usually illuminated and fettered. The printers
offered Margaret prices for work in these two kinds.

"I'll think on't," said she.

She took down her diurnal book, and calculated that the price of
an hour's work on those arts would be about one-fifth what she got
for an hour at the tub and mangle. "I'll starve first," said she;
"what, pay a craft and a mystery five times less than a

Martin, carrying the dry clothes-basket, got treated, and drunk.
This time he babbled her whole story. The girls got hold of it and
gibed her at the fountain.

All she had gone through was light to her, compared with the pins
and bodkins her own sex drove into her heart, whenever she came
near the merry crew with her pitcher, and that was every day. Each
sex has its form of cruelty; man's is more brutal and terrible;
but shallow women, that have neither read nor suffered, have an
unmuscular barbarity of their own (where no feeling of sex steps
in to overpower it). This defect, intellectual perhaps rather than
moral, has been mitigated in our day by books, especially by able
works of fiction; for there are two roads to the highest effort of
intelligence, Pity; Experience of sorrows, and Imagination, by
which alone we realize the grief we never felt. In the fifteenth
century girls with pitchers had but one; Experience; and at
sixteen years of age or so, that road had scarce been trodden.
These girls persisted that Margaret was deserted by her lover. And
to be deserted was a crime (They had not been deserted yet.) Not a
word against the Gerard they had created out of their own heads.
For the imaginary crime they fell foul of the supposed victim.
Sometimes they affronted her to her face. Oftener they talked at
her backwards and forwards with a subtle skill, and a perseverance
which, "oh, that they had bestowed on the arts," as poor Aguecheek

Now Margaret was brave, and a coward; brave to battle difficulties
and ill fortune; brave to shed her own blood for those she loved.
Fortitude she had. But she had no true fighting courage. She was a
powerful young woman, rather tall, full, and symmetrical; yet had
one of those slips of girls slapped her face, the poor fool's
hands would have dropped powerless, or gone to her own eyes
instead of her adversary's. Nor was she even a match for so many
tongues; and besides, what could she say? She knew nothing of
these girls, except that somehow they had found out her sorrows,
and hated her; only she thought to herself they must be very
happy, or they would not be so hard on her.

So she took their taunts in silence; and all her struggle was not
to let them see their power to make her writhe within.

Here came in her fortitude; and she received their blows with
well-feigned, icy hauteur. They slapped a statue.

But one day, when her spirits were weak, as happens at times to
females in her condition, a dozen assailants followed suit so
admirably, that her whole sex seemed to the dispirited one to be
against her, and she lost heart, and the tears began to run
silently at each fresh stab.

On this their triumph knew no bounds, and they followed her half
way home casting barbed speeches.

After that exposure of weakness the statue could be assumed no
more. So then she would stand timidly aloof out of tongue-shot,
till her young tyrants' pitchers were all filled, and they gone;
and then creep up with hers. And one day she waited so long that
the fount had ceased to flow. So the next day she was obliged to
face the phalanx, or her house go dry. She drew near slowly, but
with the less tremor, that she saw a man at the well talking to
them. He would distract their attention, and besides, they would
keep their foul tongues quiet if only to blind the male to their
real character. This conjecture, though shrewd, was erroneous.
They could not all flirt with that one man; so the outsiders
indemnified themselves by talking at her the very moment she came

"Any news from foreign parts, Jacqueline?"

"None for me, Martha. My lad goes no farther from me than the town

"I can't say as much," says a third.

"But if he goes t' Italy I have got another ready to take the
fool's place."

"He'll not go thither, lass. They go not so far till they are sick
of us that bide in Holland."

Surprise and indignation, and the presence of a man, gave Margaret
a moment's fighting courage.

"Oh, flout me not, and show your ill nature before the very
soldier. In Heaven's name, what ill did I ever to ye? what harsh
word cast back, for all you have flung on me, a desolate stranger
in your cruel town, that ye flout me for my bereavement and my
poor lad's most unwilling banishment? Hearts of flesh would surely
pity us both, for that ye cast in my teeth these many days, ye
brows of brass, ye bosoms of stone."

They stared at this novelty, resistance; and ere they could
recover and make mincement of her, she put her pitcher quietly
down, and threw her coarse apron over her head, and stood there
grieving, her short-lived spirit oozing fast. "Hallo!" cried the
soldier, "why, what is your ill?" She made no reply. But a little
girl, who had long secretly hated the big ones, squeaked out,
"They did flout her, they are aye flouting her; she may not come
nigh the fountain for fear o' them, and 'tis a black shame."

"Who spoke to her! Not I for one."

"Nor I. I would not bemean myself so far."

The man laughed heartily at this display of dignity. "Come, wife,"
said he, "never lower thy flag to such light skirmishers as these.
Hast a tongue i' thy head as well as they."

"Alack, good soldier, I was not bred to bandy foul terms."

"Well, but hast a better arm than these. Why not take 'em by twos
across thy knee, and skelp 'em till they cry Meculpee?"

"Nay, I would not hurt their bodies for all their cruel hearts."

"Then ye must e'en laugh at them, wife. What! a woman grown, and
not see why mesdames give tongue? You are a buxom wife; they are a
bundle of thread-papers. You are fair and fresh; they have all the
Dutch rim under their bright eyes, that comes of dwelling in
eternal swamps. There lies your crime. Come, gie me thy pitcher,
and if they flout me, shalt see me scrub 'em all wi' my beard till
they squeak holy mother." The pitcher was soon filled, and the
soldier put it in Margaret's hand. She murmured, "Thank you
kindly, brave soldier."

He patted her on the shoulder. "Come, courage, brave wife; the
divell is dead!" She let the heavy pitcher fall on his foot
directly. He cursed horribly, and hopped in a circle, saying, "No,
the Thief's alive and has broken my great toe."

The apron came down, and there was a lovely face all flushed with'
emotion, and two beaming eyes in front of him, and two hands held
out clasped.

"Nay, nay, 'tis nought," said he good-humouredly, mistaking.


"Well? - But - Hallo! How know you my name is - "

"Denys of Burgundy!"

"Why, ods bodikins! I know you not, and you know me."

"By Gerard's letter. Crossbow! beard! handsome! The divell is

"Sword of Goliah! this must be she. Red hair, violet eyes, lovely
face. But I took ye for a married wife, seeing ye- - "

"Tell me my name," said she quickly.

"Margaret Brandt."

"Gerard? Where is he? Is he in life? Is he well? Is he coming? Is
he come? Why is he not here? Where have ye left him? Oh tell me!
prithee, prithee, prithee, tell me!"

"Ay, ay, but not here. Oh, ye are all curiosity now, mesdames, eh?
Lass, I have been three months a-foot travelling all Holland to
find ye, and here you are. Oh, be joyful!" and he flung his cap in
the air, and seizing both her hands kissed them ardently. "Ah, my
pretty she-comrade, I have found thee at last. I knew I should.
Shall be flouted no more. I'll twist your necks at the first word,
ye little trollops. And I have got fifteen gold angels left for
thee, and our Gerard will soon be here. Shalt wet thy purple eyes
no more."

But the fair eyes were wet even now, looking kindly and gratefully
at the friend that had dropped among her foes as if from heaven;
Gerard's comrade. "Prithee come home with me good, kind Denys. I
cannot speak of him before these." They went off together,
followed by a chorus. "She has gotten a man. She has gotten a man
at last. Boo! boo! boo!"

Margaret quickened her steps; but Denys took down his crossbow and
pretended to shoot them all dead: they fled quadrivious,


The reader already knows how much these two had to tell one
another. It was a sweet yet bitter day for Margaret, since it
brought her a true friend, and ill news; for now first she learned
that Gerard was all alone in that strange land. She could not
think with Denys that he would come home; indeed he would have
arrived before this.

Denys was a balm. He called her his she-comrade, and was always
cheering her up with his formula and hilarities, and she petted
him and made much of him, and feebly hectored it over him as well
as over Martin, and would not let him eat a single meal out of her
house, and forbade him to use naughty words. "It spoils you,
Denys. Good lack, to hear such ugly words come forth so comely a
head: forbear, or I shall be angry: so be civil." Whereupon Denys
was upon his good behaviour, and ludicrous the struggle between
his native politeness and his acquired ruffianism. And as it never
rains but it pours, other persons now solicited Margaret's
friendship. She had written to Margaret Van Eyck a humble letter
telling her she knew she was no longer the favourite she had been,
and would keep her distance; but could not forget her
benefactress's past kindness. She then told her briefly how many
ways she had battled for a living, and in conclusion, begged
earnestly that her residence might not be betrayed, "least of all
to his people. I do hate them, they drove him from me. And even
when he was gone, their hearts turned not to me as they would an
if they had repented their cruelty to him."

The Van Eyck was perplexed. At last she made a confidante of
Reicht. The secret ran through Reicht, as through a cylinder, to

"Ay, and is she turned that bitter against us?" said that good
woman. "She stole our son from us, and now she hates us for not
running into her arms. Natheless it is a blessing she is alive and
no farther away than Rotterdam."

The English princess, now Countess Charolois, made a stately
progress through the northern states of the duchy, accompanied by
her stepdaughter the young heiress of Burgundy, Marie de
Bourgogne. Then the old duke, the most magnificent prince in
Europe, put out his splendour. Troops of dazzling knights, and
bevies of fair ladies gorgeously attired, attended the two
princesses; and minstrels, jongleurs, or story-tellers, bards,
musicians, actors, tumblers followed in the train; and there was
fencing, dancing, and joy in every town they shone on. Richart
invited all his people to meet him at Rotterdam and view the

They had been in Rotterdam some days, when Denys met Catherine
accidentally in the street, and after a warm greeting on both
sides, bade her rejoice, for he had found the she-comrade, and
crowed; but Catherine cooled him by showing him how much earlier
he would have found her by staying quietly at Tergou, than by
vagabondizing it all over Holland. "And being found, what the
better are we? her heart is set dead against us now."

"Oh, let that flea stick; come you with me to her house."

No, she would not go where she was sure of an ill welcome. "Them
that come unbidden sit unseated." No, let Denys be mediator, and
bring the parties to a good understanding. He undertook the office
at once, and with great pomp and confidence. He trotted off to
Margaret and said, "She-comrade, I met this day a friend of

"Thou didst look into the Rotter then, and see thyself."

"Nay, 'twas a female, and one that seeks thy regard; 'twas
Catherine, Gerard's mother."

"Oh, was it?" said Margaret; "then you may tell her she comes too
late. There was a time I longed and longed for her; but she held
aloof in my hour of most need, so now we will be as we ha' been.'

Denys tried to shake this resolution. He coaxed her, but she was
bitter and sullen, and not to be coaxed. Then he scolded her well;
then, at that she went into hysterics.

He was frightened at this result of his eloquence, and being off
his guard, allowed himself to be entrapped into a solemn promise
never to recur to the subject. He went back to Catherine
crestfallen, and told her. She fired up and told the family how
his overtures had been received. Then they fired up; it became a
feud and burned fiercer every day. Little Kate alone made some
excuses for Margaret.

The very next day another visitor came to Margaret, and found the
military enslaved and degraded, Martin up to his elbows in
soapsuds, and Denys ironing very clumsily, and Margaret plaiting
ruffs, but with a mistress's eye on her raw levies. To these there
entered an old man, venerable at first sight, but on nearer view
keen and wizened.

"Ah," cried Margaret. Then swiftly turned her back on him and hid
her face with invincible repugnance. "Oh, that man! that man!"

"Nay, fear me not," said Ghysbrecht; "I come on a friend's errand.
I bring ye a letter from foreign parts."

"Mock me not, old man," and she turned slowly round.

"Nay, see;" and he held out an enormous letter.

Margaret darted on it, and held it with trembling hands and
glistening eyes. It was Gerard's handwriting.

"Oh, thank you, sir, bless you for this, I forgive you all the ill
you ever wrought me."

And she pressed the letter to her bosom with one hand, and glided
swiftly from the room with it.

As she did not come back, Ghysbrecht went away, but not without a
scowl at Martha. Margaret was hours alone with her letter.


When she came down again she was a changed woman. Her eyes were
wet, but calm, and all her bitterness and excitement charmed away.

"Denys," said she softly, "I have got my orders. I am to read my
lover's letter to his folk."

"Ye will never do that?"

"Ay will I."

"I see there is something in the letter has softened ye towards

"Not a jot, Denys, not a jot. But an I hated them like poison I
would not disobey my love. Denys, 'tis so sweet to obey, and
sweetest of all to obey one who is far, far away, and cannot
enforce my duty, but must trust my love for my obedience. Ah,
Gerard, my darling, at hand I might have slighted thy commands,
misliking thy folk as I have cause to do; but now, didst bid me go
into the raging sea and read thy sweet letter to the sharks, there
I'd go. Therefore, Denys, tell his mother I have got a letter, and
if she and hers would hear it, I am their servant; let them say
their hour, and I'll seat them as best I can, and welcome them as
best I may."

Denys went off to Catherine with this good news. He found the
family at dinner, and told them there was a long letter from
Gerard. Then in the midst of the joy this caused, he said, "And
her heart is softened, and she will read it to you herself; you
are to choose your own time."

"What does she think there are none can read but her?" asked
Catherine. "Let her send the letter and we will read it."

"Nay, but, mother," objected little Kate; "mayhap she cannot bear
to part it from her hand; she loves him dearly."

"What, thinks she we shall steal it?"

Cornelis suggested that she would fain wedge herself into the
family by means of this letter.

Denys cast a look of scorn on the speaker. "There spoke a bad
heart," said he. "La camarade hates you all like poison. Oh,
mistake me not, dame; I defend her not, but so 'tis; yet maugre
her spleen at a word from Gerard she proffers to read you his
letter with her own pretty mouth, and hath a voice like honey -
sure 'tis a fair proffer."

"'Tis so, mine honest soldier," said the father of the family,
"and merits a civil reply, therefore hold your whisht ye that be
women, and I shall answer her. Tell her I, his father, setting
aside all past grudges, do for this grace thank her, and would she
have double thanks, let her send my son's letter by thy faithful
hand, the which will I read to his flesh and blood, and will then
to her so surely and faithful return, as I am Eli a Dierich a
William a Luke, free burgher of Tergou, like my forbears, and like
them, a man of my word."

"Ay, and a man who is better than his word," cried Catherine; "the
only one I ever did foregather."

"Hold thy peace, wife."

"Art a man of sense, Eli, a dirk, a chose, a chose[1],"' shouted
Denys. "The she-comrade will be right glad to obey Gerard and yet
not face you all, whom she hates as wormwood, saving your
presence. Bless ye, the world hath changed, she is all submission
to-day: 'obedience is honey,' quoth she; and in sooth 'tis a
sweetmeat she cannot but savour, eating so little on't, for what
with her fair face, and her mellow tongue; and what wi' flying in
fits and terrifying us that be soldiers to death, an we thwart
her; and what wi' chiding us one while, and petting us like lambs
t' other, she hath made two of the crawlingest slaves ever you saw
out of two honest swashbucklers. I be the ironing ruffian, t'
other washes."

"What next?

"What next? why, whenever the brat is in the world I shall rock
cradle, and t' other knave will wash tucker and bib. So, then,
I'll go fetch the letter on the instant. Ye will let me bide and
hear it read, will ye not?"

"Else our hearts were black as coal," said Catherine.

So Denys went for the letter. He came back crestfallen. "She will
not let it out of her hand neither to me nor you, nor any he or
she that lives."

"I knew she would not," said Cornelis.

"Whisht! whisht!" said Eli, "and let Denys tell his story."

"'Nay,' said I, 'but be ruled by me.' 'Not I,' quoth she. 'Well,
but,' quoth I, 'that same honey Obedience ye spake of.' 'You are a
fool,' says she; 'obedience to Gerard is sweet, but obedience to
any other body, who ever said that was sweet?'

"At last she seemed to soften a bit, and did give me a written
paper for you, mademoiselle. Here 'tis."

"For me?" said little Kate, colouring.

"Give that here!" said Eli, and he scanned the writing, and said
almost in a whisper, "These be words from the letter Hearken!

"'And, sweetheart, an if these lines should travel safe to thee,
make thou trial of my people's hearts withal. Maybe they are
somewhat turned towards me, being far away. If 'tis so they will
show it to thee, since now to me they may not. Read, then, this
letter! But I do strictly forbid thee to let it from thy hand; and
if they still hold aloof from thee, why, then say nought, but let
them think me dead. Obey me in this; for, if thou dost disrespect
my judgment and my will in this, thou lovest me not.'"

There was a silence, and Gerard's words copied by Margaret here
handed round and inspected.

"Well," said Catherine, "that is another matter. But methinks 'tis
for her to come to us, not we to her."

"Alas, mother! what odds does that make?"

"Much," said Eli. "Tell her we are over many to come to her, and
bid her hither, the sooner the better."

When Denys was gone, Eli owned it was a bitter pill to him.

"When that lass shall cross my threshold, all the mischief and
misery she hath made here will seem to come in adoors in one heap.
But what could I do, wife? We must hear the news of Gerard. I saw
that in thine eyes, and felt it in my own heart. And she is backed
by our undutiful but still beloved son, and so is she stronger
than we, and brings our noses down to the grindstone, the sly,
cruel jade. But never heed. We will hear the letter; and then let
her go unblessed as she came unwelcome."

"Make your mind easy," said Catherine. "She will not come at all."
And a tone of regret was visible.

Shortly after Richart, who had been hourly expected, arrived from
Amsterdam grave and dignified in his burgher's robe and gold
chain, ruff, and furred cap, and was received not with affection
only, but respect; for he had risen a step higher than his
parents, and such steps were marked in mediaeval society almost as
visibly as those in their staircases.

Admitted in due course to the family council, he showed plainly,
though not discourteously, that his pride was deeply wounded by
their having deigned to treat with Margaret Brandt. "I see the
temptation," said he. "But which of us hath not at times to wish
one way and do another?" This threw a considerable chill over the
old people. So little Kate put in a word. "Vex not thyself, dear
Richart. Mother says she will not come.

"All the better, sweetheart. I fear me, if she do, I shall hie me
back to Amsterdam."

Here Denys popped his head in at the door, and said -

"She will be here at three on the great dial."

They all looked at one another in silence.

[1] Anglice, a Thing-em-bob.


"Nay, Richart," said Catherine at last, "for Heaven's sake let not
this one sorry wench set us all by the ears: hath she not made ill
blood enough already?"

"In very deed she hath. Fear me not, good mother. Let her come and
read the letter of the poor boy she hath by devilish arts
bewitched and then let her go. Give me your words to show her no
countenance beyond decent and constrained civility: less we may
not, being in our own house; and I will say no more." On this
understanding they waited the foe. She, for her part, prepared for
the interview in a spirit little less hostile. When Denys brought
word they would not come to her, but would receive her, her lip
curled, and she bade him observe how in them every feeling,
however small, was larger than the love for Gerard. "Well," said
she, "I have not that excuse; so why mimic the pretty burgher's
pride, the pride of all unlettered folk? I will go to them for
Gerard's sake. Oh, how I loathe them!"

Thus poor good-natured Denys was bringing into one house the
materials of an explosion.

Margaret made her toilet in the same spirit that a knight of her
day dressed for battle - he to parry blows, and she to parry
glances - glances of contempt at her poverty, or of irony at her
extravagance. Her kirtle was of English cloth, dark blue, and her
farthingale and hose of the same material, but a glossy roan, or
claret colour. Not an inch of pretentious fur about her, but plain
snowy linen wristbands, and curiously plaited linen from the bosom
of the kirtle up to the commencement of the throat; it did not
encircle her throat, but framed it, being square, not round. Her
front hair still peeped in two waves much after the fashion which
Mary Queen of Scots revived a century later; but instead of the
silver net, which would have ill become her present condition, the
rest of her head was covered with a very small tight-fitting hood
of dark blue cloth, hemmed with silver. Her shoes were red; but
the roan petticoat and hose prepared the spectator's mind for the
shock, and they set off the arched instep and shapely foot.

Beauty knew its business then as now.

And with all this she kept her enemies waiting, though it was
three by the dial.

At last she started, attended by her he-comrade. And when they
were halfway, she stopped and said thoughtfully, "Denys!"

"Well, she-general?"

"I must go home" (piteously).

"What, have ye left somewhat behind?"


"My courage. Oh! oh! oh!"

"Nay, nay, be brave, she-general. I shall be with you."

"Ay, but wilt keep close to me when I be there?"

Denys promised, and she resumed her march, but gingerly.

Meantime they were all assembled, and waiting for her with a
strange mixture of feelings.

Mortification, curiosity, panting affection, aversion to her who
came to gratify those feelings, yet another curiosity to see what
she was like, and what there was in her to bewitch Gerard and make
so much mischief.

At last Denys came alone, and whispered, "The she-comrade is

"Fetch her in," said Eli. "Now whisht, all of ye. None speak to
her but I."

They all turned their eyes to the door in dead silence.

A little muttering was heard outside; Denys's rough organ and a
woman's soft and mellow voice.

Presently that stopped; and then the door opened slowly, and
Margaret Brandt, dressed as I have described, and somewhat pale,
but calm and lovely, stood on the threshold, looking straight
before her.


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