Trautchen shook her finger at him, but he turned hastily back and ran towards the Zyl-gate, this time to lead the Spaniards against the Netherlanders.
The burgomaster had pressed the nobleman to sit down in the study-chair, while he himself leaned in a half-sitting attitude on the writing-table, listening somewhat impatiently to his distinguished guest.
“Before speaking of more important things,” Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma had begun, “I should like to appeal to you, as a just man, for some punishment for the injury my son has sustained in this city.”
“Speak,” said the burgomaster, and the nobleman now briefly, and with unconcealed indignation, related the story of the attack upon his son at the church.
“I’ll inform the rector of the annoying incident,” replied Van der Werff, “and the culprits will receive their just dues; but pardon me, noble sir, if I ask whether any inquiry has been made concerning the cause of the quarrel?”
Herr Matanesse Van Wibisma looked at the burgomaster in surprise and answered proudly:
“You know my son’s report.”
“Both sides must be fairly heard,” replied Van der Werff calmly. “That has been the custom of the Netherlands from ancient times.”
“My son bears my name and speaks the truth.”
“Our boys are called simply Leendert or Adrian or Gerrit, but they do the same, so I must beg you to send the young gentleman to the examination at the school.”
“By no means,” answered the knight resolutely. “If I had thought the matter belonged to the rector’s department, I should have sought him and not you, Herr Peter. My son has his own tutor, and was not attacked in your school, which in any case he has outgrown, for he is seventeen, but in the public street, whose security it is the burgomaster’s duty to guard.”
“Very well then, make your complaint, take the youth before the judges, summon witnesses and let the law follow its course. But, sir,” continued Van der Werff, softening the impatience in his voice, “were you not young yourself once? Have you entirely forgotten the fights under the citadel? What pleasure will it afford you, if we lock up a few thoughtless lads for two days this sunny weather? The scamps will find something amusing to do indoors, as well as out, and only the parents will be punished.”
The last words were uttered so cordially and pleasantly, that they could not fail to have their effect upon the baron. He was a handsome man, whose refined, agreeable features, of the true Netherland type, expressed anything rather than severity.
“If you speak to me in this tone, we shall come to an agreement more easily,” he answered, smiling. “I will only say this. Had the brawl arisen in sport, or from some boyish quarrel, I wouldn’t have wasted a word on the matter—but that children already venture to assail with jeers and violence those who hold different opinions, ought not to be permitted to pass without reproof. The boys shouted after my son the absurd word—”