Hitherto Georg had gazed silently at the floor. Now he raised his head, saying:
“If I can obtain leave of absence, I will place myself at your disposal; —but my lady’s color is blue, and I am permitted to wear no other.”
Henrica’s lips quivered slightly, but the young nobleman continued:
“Captain Van der Laen is my superior officer. I’ll speak to him at once.”
“And if he says no?” asked Maria.
Henrica interrupted her and answered haughtily: “Then I beg you to send me Herr Wilhelm, the musician.”
Georg bowed and went to the tavern.
As soon as the ladies were alone, the young girl asked:
“Do you know Herr von Dornburg’s lady?”
“How should I?” replied Maria. “Give yourself a little rest, Fraulein. As soon as the Junker comes back, I’ll bring him to you.”
The young wife left the room and seated herself at the spinning-wheel with Barbara. Georg kept them waiting a long time, but at midnight again appeared, accompanied by two companions. It was not within the limits of the captain’s authority to grant him a leave of absence for several weeks—the journey to Italy would have required that length of time—but the Junker had consulted the musician, and the latter had found the right man, with whom Wilhelm speedily made the necessary arrangements, and brought him without delay: it was the old steward, Belotti.
On the morning of the following day the spacious shooting-grounds, situated not far from the White Gate, between the Rapenburg and the city-wall, presented a busy scene, for by a decree of the council the citizens and inhabitants, without exception, no matter whether they were poor or rich, of noble or plebeian birth, were to take a solemn oath to be loyal to the Prince and the good cause.
Commissioner Van Bronkhorst, Burgomaster Van der Werff, and two other magistrates, clad in festal attire, stood under a group of beautiful linden-trees to receive the oaths of the men and youths, who flocked to the spot. The solemn ceremonial had not yet commenced. Janus Dousa, in full uniform, a coat of mail over his doublet and a helmet on his head, arm-in-arm with Van Hout, approached Meister Peter and the commissioner, saying: “Here it is again! Not one of the humbler citizens and workmen is absent, but the gentlemen in velvet and fur are but thinly represented.”
“They shall come yet!” cried the city clerk menacingly.
“What will formal vows avail?” replied the burgomaster. “Whoever desires liberty, must grant it. Besides, this hour will teach us on whom we can depend.”
“Not a single man of the militia is absent,” said the commissioner.
“There is comfort in that. What is stirring yonder in the linden?”
The men looked up and perceived Adrian, who was swaying in the top of the tree, as a concealed listener. “The boy must be everywhere,” exclaimed Peter. “Come down, saucy lad. You appear at a convenient time.”