Ruysum. God bless him! He was a king indeed! His hand reached over the whole earth, and he was all in all. Yet, when he met you, he’d greet you just as one neighbour greets another,—and if you were frightened, he knew so well how to put you at your ease—ay, you understand me—he walked out, rode out, just as it came into his head, with very few followers. We all wept when he resigned the government here to his son. You understand me—he is another sort of man, he’s more majestic.
Jetter. When he was here, he never appeared in public, except in pomp and royal state. He speaks little, they say.
Soest. He is no king for us Netherlanders. Our princes must be joyous and free like ourselves, must live and let live. We will neither be despised nor oppressed, good-natured fools though we be.
Jetter. The king, methinks, were a gracious sovereign enough, if he had only better counsellors.
Soest. No, no! He has no affection for us Netherlanders; he has no heart for the people; he loves us not; how then can we love him? Why is everybody so fond of Count Egmont? Why are we all so devoted to him? Why, because one can read in his face that he loves us; because joyousness, open-heartedness, and good-nature, speak in his eyes; because he possesses nothing that he does not share with him who needs it, ay, and with him who needs it not. Long live Count Egmont! Buyck, it is for you to give the first toast; give us your master’s health.
Buyck. With all my heart; here’s to Count Egmont! Hurrah!
Ruysum Conqueror of St. Quintin.
Buyck. The hero of Gravelines.
Ruysum. St. Quintin was my last battle. I was hardly able to crawl along, and could with difficulty carry my heavy rifle. I managed, notwithstanding, to singe the skin of the French once more, and, as a parting gift, received a grazing shot in my right leg.
Buyck. Gravelines! Ha, my friends, we had sharp work of it there! The victory was all our own. Did not those French dogs carry fire and desolation into the very heart of Flanders? We gave it them, however! The old hard-listed veterans held out bravely for a while, but we pushed on, fired away, and laid about us, till they made wry faces, and their lines gave way. Then Egmont’s horse was shot under him; and for a long time we fought pell-mell, man to man, horse to horse, troop to troop, on the broad, flat, sea-sand. Suddenly, as if from heaven, down came the cannon shot from the mouth of the river, bang, bang, right into the midst of the French. These were English, who, under Admiral Malin, happened to be sailing past from Dunkirk. They did not help us much, ’tis true; they could only approach with their smallest vessels, and that not near enough; —besides, their shot fell sometimes among our troops. It did some good, however! It broke the French lines, and raised our courage. Away it went. Helter-skelter!