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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Lily Of Leyden - Chapter 2
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The Lily Of Leyden - Chapter 2 Post by :Larry Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2741

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The Lily Of Leyden - Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO

On reaching the foot of the mound the burgomaster and Captain Van der Elst proceeded to the Stadhuis, while Baron Van Arenberg accompanied Jaqueline in the direction of her own house. She walked on, though with graceful step, far more rapidly than her companion wished, looking directly before her without turning her head, unless it was absolutely necessary to do so.

"I am still not altogether satisfied as to the entire truth of the report brought by this young captain regarding the destruction of Count Louis and his army. The Spanish troops are undoubtedly brave and disciplined, but it seems incredible to me that they should have cut to pieces in so short a time the large number of levies the Count is reported to have had with him. If they allowed themselves to be so easily defeated all I can say is, that they deserved their fate. In my opinion it is a pity that we Hollanders should so persistently hold out against the troops of our lawful sovereign; far better by yielding with a good grace to bring the fighting to an end."

"And share the fate of the unhappy inhabitants of Haarlem," answered Jaqueline, for the first time turning her head and glancing at him with a look which betokened as much contempt as her features were capable of exhibiting. "Think of the thousands of our countrymen who have been cruelly butchered because they were determined to hold fast to our Protestant faith rather than confess that of our foreign tyrants. I should say, let every man and woman perish bravely, fighting to the last rather than basely give up their birthrights."

"I will not venture to argue with you on that point, fair Jaqueline," answered Van Arenberg. "I wish as much as any Hollander can do to preserve our birthrights, as well as my castle and broad estates, but I assure you that you underrate the power of the Spaniards. Our cause, the patriot cause, is desperate; it is on account of the deep admiration I feel for you, if I may use no warmer term, that I would save you from the horrors to which others have been exposed."

"I speak the sentiments held by my father and every right-minded man in our city--ay! and woman too," answered Jaqueline, in a firm tone. "We would imitate our sisters in Haarlem and Alkmaar and join the citizens in defending our walls."

"But should the city be again besieged--and it assuredly will be should the report of the total defeat of Count Louis prove correct--how can Leyden hope to hold out against the disciplined and experienced troops of the king? The Prince of Orange has no force sufficient to relieve the city, and be assured that the fate which overtook Haarlem will be that of Leyden, though the inhabitants are not likely to be treated with that measure of forbearance which those of Haarlem received."

"If you speak of the measure of forbearance awarded to Haarlem, that was small indeed," said Jaqueline. "You seem to forget that every citizen of wealth was massacred, that every Hollander who had borne arms in the siege was put to death, while many hundreds of other citizens were afterwards murdered by the savage Spaniards who desired to strike terror into the hearts of the survivors. I should say, rather than submit to so terrible a fate, let us struggle to the last, and then perish amid the ruins of the town."

"You are indeed, lovely Jaqueline, worthy of being a heroine of romance, and already you inspire me with some of the enthusiasm which you feel, though I cannot pretend to believe that the efforts which the citizens of Leyden may make will be crowned with success; yet believe me that I was prompted entirely by my earnest desire to preserve one I prize so highly and her family from impending destruction to give the advice I venture to offer."

"I am well aware of the admiration in which you hold me, Baron Van Arenberg," answered Jaqueline, "but whatever are your motives, even were I certain that our cause is desperate, and I do not believe that it is (for I feel assured that God will prosper the right in the end), I would not by word or act counsel my father and the citizens of Leyden to yield while a single man remains alive to strike a blow for freedom."

Gentle as Jaqueline looked while she spoke, her voice and manner were firm and determined, while she showed that she was anxious to bring the discussion to an end. It might have afforded more encouragement to the baron had she endeavoured to win him over to the opinions she held, but beyond expressing them she made no attempt to do so. The baron, however, fancied that he was too well acquainted with the female heart to despair of success; he was young, good-looking, and wealthy, and as far as was known his moral character was irreproachable. The burgomaster, deceived by his plausible manners, trusted him fully, and considering from his rank and wealth that he would be a suitable husband for his fair daughter, invited him frequently to the house, and had always received him in a cordial manner. The baron had therefore good reason to believe that his suit would be successful.

On reaching her father's house, Jaqueline politely, though somewhat stiffly, thanked him for the service he had rendered in escorting her home, and the door opening, she entered without expressing the slightest wish that he would remain. He lingered, expecting that she would at last remember what he looked upon as her neglect, but she ascended the steps without further notice of him. He stamped impatiently as he walked away, muttering, "It is clear that I have a rival, or the fair Lily would not treat my advances so coldly, supported, as she knows I am, by her father. Instead of feeling honoured, as she ought, at being sought in marriage by a noble, she seems utterly regardless of my rank and personal qualifications. I am very sure that I can make myself as agreeable to women as can most men, and from her beauty alone, independent of her fortune, she is well worth winning, so I must not despair. Still it will never do to have her cooped up in this hapless town should it be again invested by the Spaniards; I have no fancy indeed to stay in it myself, and I must bend all my efforts towards finding the means of carrying her away before the siege commences. There is not a day, however, to be lost. She appears to have no fear herself, but I may work upon the feelings of her father, and induce him, for the sake of preserving her from the horrors of the siege, to entrust her to my care. I must venture upon some warmer expressions of love and devotion than I have hitherto exhibited, and by describing the horrible fate which may be hers should she remain, and the happiness which awaits her if she will consent to accompany me, as my wife, out of the country, I may induce her to yield more willingly than she at present seems inclined to do." Such were the thoughts which occupied the mind of the baron as he proceeded with leisurely step towards the Stadhuis, where he had no great desire to make his appearance, although having been expressly invited by the burgomaster he could not avoid going. He found the chief magistrates, most influential citizens, assembled. The burgomaster had informed them of the sad intelligence he had just received, and Captain Van der Elst, at his desire, had described the battle and its disastrous termination. One circumstance alone afforded satisfaction, it was that Count John, now the Prince's only surviving brother, who had already done so much for the cause, although expecting to participate in the battle, had, at the urgent request of the other leaders, left the army two days before the action, in order to obtain at Cologne money to pay the troops. The young captain had just finished his account. The first point to be settled was the selection of a military chief whom all would be ready to obey.

The burgomaster rose. After expressing his readiness to devote his fortune, his life, and everything he possessed to the cause, he acknowledged that he had no military experience or talents, and urged upon his fellow-citizens the importance of selecting a man who possessed the talents in which he was wanting. "There is one," he said. "John Van der Does, Seigneur of Nordwyck, a gentleman of distinguished family, but still more distinguished for his learning, his poetical genius, his valour and military accomplishments; if we select him, the Prince I am sure will sanction our appointment."

Without a dissentient voice the Seigneur of Nordwyck was elected military commandant. The burgomaster did not conceal from them the dangers and the sufferings which perchance they would have to undergo, but he added, "Remember Naarden, my friends, we cannot too often reflect on the fate of Naarden; although the inhabitants offered no resistance, they were indiscriminately slaughtered, and such may be our lot even if we go humbly forth to sue for pardon from the conquerors of Mookerheyde. Remember Haarlem, which, although defended with the heroism which ought to have inspired respect and consideration in the hearts of the conquerors, was treated with cruelties from the bare contemplation of which the mind shrinks back with horror; then let us think of Alkmaar which so bravely and successfully resisted, and imitate the example of its citizens with the hope and confidence that we shall be equally successful in driving back the hated foe."

Other patriotic magistrates spoke in the same strain, and all were unanimous in their resolution to defend their city to the last, while it was agreed that steps should instantly be taken for that object. Unhappily much precious time had already been lost; the forts and redoubts thrown up by the Spaniards still remained, and at present the defenders of the city had too much to do within the walls to attempt levelling them. The new commandant urged them to strengthen the fortifications, and in the meantime to obtain such stores of provisions from the immediate neighbourhood as could be collected. There were a _few_, however, who, although they did not vote in opposition to the opinions of the majority, yet spoke of the hopelessness of the undertaking in which they were about to engage. Among these was Baron Van Arenberg, although he expressed himself carefully he did his best to persuade the citizens that their wisest course would be to yield before proceeding to extremities.

"I say not that such is what I advise," he observed. "But conciliatory measures might prove successful; if they fail let us by all means endeavour to keep out the enemy as long as we can."

"The Spaniards have already shown us the uselessness of conciliatory measures as well as the utter worthlessness of their guarantees for the safety of those who submit," said the burgomaster. "It would be suicidal madness to trust them; let us put faith in God, who defends the right, in our own resolute courage and power of endurance, in our strong walls, and in the assistance which the Prince of Orange will afford us at our need."

The baron was silent; he was especially anxious not to say anything which might offend the burgomaster by openly differing from him; but his remarks encouraged others connected with certain persons, their relations or friends, recreant Hollanders, who had sided with the Spaniards and professed to have returned to the Faith of Rome. These men were familiarly called Glippers; their object was to induce their countrymen to follow their example. A few holding their opinions remained in the city, either kept there by business or with the intention of creating dissension among the patriots. Although Baron Van Arenberg openly professed to be a patriot, yet from the expressions he let fall many already began to suspect his designs. When those who followed him spoke, their opinions were received with loud expressions of disapprobation. He saw that in the present state of the public mind it would be prudent for the future more carefully to conceal his sentiments than he had hitherto done. "I must bide my time," he said to himself.

Numerous matters of importance were discussed, and the persons supposed best suited for certain duties were selected to superintend the various tasks which had to be performed to prepare the city for the expected siege. One undertook to procure cattle, another fodder, a third corn; others to collect arms and ammunition. The strengthening of the fortifications was allotted to several who had some experience in such matters. The guns and their carriages had to be looked to, such buildings as were suited for storehouses were to be prepared, and hospitals fitted up to receive the sick or wounded; indeed, no point was neglected. All these arrangements having been made, the brave John Van der Does, the newly-elected commandant, rose.

"We have not concealed from ourselves the difficulties and dangers of the task we have undertaken," he said. "But, my friends and fellow-citizens, on God, on your stout arms, and on the energy of our Prince we will rely to defend our city against all the foes who may appear before our walls," he exclaimed, as he drew his sword; and raising it above his head, he added, "Never will I again sheathe this weapon till the hated Spaniard has been driven from our country, and we may henceforth repose in peace."

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