“It isn’t worth mentioning—a year ago to-day—we might celebrate the anniversary of our wedding to-day.”
“The anniversary of our wedding-day!” he cried, striking his hands loudly together. “Yes, this is the seventeenth of April, and I have forgotten it.”
He drew her tenderly towards him, but just at that moment the door opened, and Adrian ushered the baron into the room.
Van der Werff bowed courteously to the infrequent guest, then called to his blushing wife, who was retiring: “My congratulations! I’ll come later. Adrian, we are to celebrate a beautiful festival to-day, the anniversary of our marriage.”
The boy glided swiftly out of the door, which he still held in his hand, for he suspected the aristocratic visitor boded him no good.
In the entry he paused to think, then hurried up the stairs, seized his plumeless cap, and rushed out of doors. He saw his school-mates, armed with sticks and poles, ranging themselves in battle array, and would have liked to join the game of war, but for that very reason preferred not to listen to the shouts of the combatants at that moment, and ran towards the Zylhof until beyond the sound of their voices.
He now checked his steps, and in a stooping posture, often on his knees, followed the windings of a narrow canal that emptied into the Rhine.
As soon as his cap was overflowing with the white, blue, and yellow spring flowers he had gathered, he sat down on a boundary stone, and with sparkling eyes bound them into a beautiful bouquet, with which he ran home.
On the bench beside the gate sat the old maidservant with his little sister, a child six years old. Handing the flowers, which he had kept hidden behind his back, to her, he said:
“Take them and carry them to mother, Bessie; this is the anniversary of her wedding-day. Give her warm congratulations too, from us both.”
The child rose, and the old servant said, “You are a good boy, Adrian.”
“Do you think so?” he asked, all the sins of the forenoon returning to his mind.
But unluckily they caused him no repentance; on the contrary, his eyes began to sparkle mischievously, and a smile hovered around his lips, as he patted the old woman’s shoulder, whispering softly in her ear:
“The hair flew to-day, Trautchen. My doublet and new stockings are lying up in my room under the bed. Nobody can mend as well as you.”
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.”