“Open, I must come in.”
“What is it?” asked Barbara, who recognized a soldier in the moonlight. “We can’t hear our own voices; stop that knocking.”
“Call the burgomaster!” shouted the messenger, who had been constantly using the knocker. “Quick, woman; the Spaniards are coming.”
Barbara shrieked aloud and beat her hands. Maria turned pale, but without losing her composure, replied: “The burgomaster is not at home, but I’ll send for him. Quick, Adrian, call your father.”
The boy rushed down-stairs, meeting in the entry the man-servant and Trautchen, who had jumped hastily out of bed, throwing on an under-petticoat, and was now trying, with trembling hands, to unlock the door. The man pushed her aside, and as soon as the door creaked on its hinges, Adrian darted out and ran, as if in a race, down the street to the commissioner’s. Arriving before any other messenger, he pressed through the open door into the dining-hall and called breathlessly to the men, who were holding a council over their wine:
“The Spaniards are here!”
The gentlemen hastily rose from their seats. One wanted to rush to the citadel, another to the town-hall and, in the excitement of the moment, no sensible reflection was made. Peter Van der Werff alone maintained his composure and, after Allertssohn’s messenger had appeared and reported that the captain and his men were on the way to Leyderdorp, the burgomaster pointed out that the leaders’ care should now be devoted to the people who had come to the fair. He and Van Hout undertook to provide for them, and Adrian was soon standing with his father and the city clerk among the crowds of people, who had been roused from sleep by the wailing iron voice from the Tower or Pancratius.
Adrian’s activity for this night was not yet over, for his father did not prevent his accompanying him to the town-hall. There he directed him to tell his mother, that he should be busy until morning and the servant might send all persons, who desired to speak to him after one o’clock, to the timber-market on the Rhine. Maria sent the boy back to the town-hall, to ask his father if he did not want his cloak, wine, a lunch or anything of the sort.
The boy fulfilled this commission with great zeal, for he never had felt so important as while forcing his way through the crowds that had gathered in the narrower streets; he had a duty to perform, and at night, the time when other boys were asleep, especially his school-mates, who certainly would not be allowed to leave the house now. Besides, an eventful period, full of the beating of drums, the blare of trumpets, the rattle of musketry and roar of cannon might be expected. It seemed as if the game “Holland against Spain” was to be continued in earnest, and on a grand scale. All the vivacity of his years seized upon him, and when he had forced a way with his elbows to less crowded places, he dashed hurriedly along, shouting as merrily as if spreading some joyful news in the darkness: