This time no merry children with paper flags and wooden swords preceded the warriors, this time no gay girls and proud mothers followed them, not even an old man, who remembered former days, when he himself bore arms. As the silent troops reached the neighborhood of Allertssohn’s house, the clock in the church-steeple slowly struck twelve, and directly after the alarm-bell began to sound from the tower of Pancratius.
A window in the second story of the fencing-toaster’s house was thrown open, and his wife’s face appeared. An anxious married life with her strange husband had prematurely aged pretty little Eva’s countenance, but the mild moonlight transfigured her faded features. The beat of her husband’s drums was familiar to her, and when she saw him at midnight marching past to the horrible call of the alarm-bell, a terrible dread overpowered her and would scarcely allow her to call: “Husband, husband! What is the matter, Andreas?”
He did not hear, for the roll of the drums, the tramp of the soldiers’ feet on the pavement and the ringing of the alarm-bell drowned her voice; but he saw her distinctly, and a strange feeling stole over him. Her face, framed in a white kerchief and illumined by the moonlight, seemed to him fairer than he had ever seen it since the days of his wooing, and he felt so youthful and full of chivalrous daring, on his way to the field of danger, that he drew himself up to his full height and marched by, keeping most perfect time to the beat of the drums, as in lover-like fashion he threw her a kiss with his left hand, while waving his sword in the right.
The beating of drums and waving of banners had banished every gloomy thought from his mind. So he marched on to the Gansort. There stood a cart, the home of travelling traders, who had been roused from sleep by the alarm-bell, and were hastily collecting their goods. An old woman, amid bitter lamentations, was just harnessing a thin horse to the shafts, and from a tiny window a child’s wailing voice was heard calling, “mother, mother,” and then, “father, father.”
The fencing-master heard the cry. The smile faded from his lips, and his step grew heavier. Then he turned and shouted a loud “Forward” to his men. Wilhelm was marching close behind him and at a sign from the captain approached; but Allertssohn, quickening his pace, seized the musician’s arm, saying in a low tone:
“You’ll take the boy to teach?”
“Good; you’ll be rewarded for it some day,” replied the fencing-master, and waving his sword, shouted: “Liberty to Holland, death to the Spaniard, long live Orange!”
The soldiers joyously joined in the shout, and marched rapidly with him through the Hohenort Gate into the open country and towards Leyderdorp.
Adrian hurried home with his vial, and in his joy at bringing the sick lady relief, forgot her headache and struck the knocker violently against the door. Barbara received him with a by no means flattering greeting, but he was so full of the happiness of possessing the dearly-bought treasure, that he fearlessly interrupted his aunt’s reproving words, by exclaiming eagerly, in the consciousness of his good cause: