He rarely saw wife or children; yet thought he was fulfilling the promise Maria had obtained from him the evening after his return, when he briefly answered her questions or voluntarily gave her such sentences as “There was warm work at the town-hall to-day!” or, “It is more difficult to circulate the paper-money than we expected!” He did not feel the kindly necessity of having a confidante and expressing his feelings, and his first wife had been perfectly contented and happy, if he sat silently beside her during quiet hours, called her his treasure, petted the children, or even praised her cracknels and Sunday roast. Business and public affairs had been his concern, the kitchen and nursery hers. What they had shared, was the consciousness of the love one felt for the other, their children, the distinction, honors and possessions of the household.
Maria asked more and he was ready to grant it, but when in the evening she pressed the wearied man with questions he was accustomed to hear only from the lips of men, he put her off for the answers till less busy times, or fell asleep in the midst of her inquiries.
She saw how many burdens oppressed him, how unweariedly he toiled—but why did he not move a portion of the load to other shoulders?
Once, during the beautiful spring weather, he went out with her into the country. She seized upon the opportunity to represent that it was his duty to himself and her to gain more rest.
He listened patiently, and when she had finished her entreaty and warnings, took her hand in his, saying:
“You have met Herr Marnix von St. Aldegonde and know what the cause of liberty owes him. Do you know his motto?”
She nodded and answered softly: “Repos ailleurs.”
“Where else can we rest,” he repeated firmly.
A slight shiver ran through her limbs, and as she withdrew her hands, she could not help thinking: “Where else;-so not here. Rest and happiness have no home here.” She did not utter the words, but could not drive them from her mind.
During these May days the Hoogstraten mansion was the quietest of all the houses in quiet Nobelstrasse. By the orders of Doctor Bontius and the sick lady’s attorney, a mixture of straw and sand lay on the cause-way before it. The windows were closely curtained, and a piece of felt hung between the door and the knocker. The door was ajar, but a servant sat close behind it to answer those who sought admission.