The burgomaster, having now found what he sought, seized his hat and again looked at his wife.
How pale and disappointed she was!
His heart ached; he would so gladly have given expression in words to the great, warm love he felt for her, offered her joyous congratulations; but in this hour, amid his grief, with such anxieties burdening his breast, he could not do it, so he only held out both hands, saying tenderly:
“You surely know what you are to me, Maria, if you do not, I will tell you this evening. I must meet the members of the council at the town-hall, or a whole day will be lost, and at this time we must be avaricious even of the moments. Well, Maria?”
The young wife was gazing at the floor. She would gladly have flown to his breast, but offended pride would not suffer her to do so, and some mysterious power bound her hands and did not permit her to lay them in his.
“Farewell,” she said in a hollow tone.
“Maria!” he exclaimed reproachfully. “To-day is no well-chosen time for pouting. Come and be my sensible wife.”
She did not move instantly; but he heard the bell ring for the fourth hour, the time when the session of the council ended, and left the room without looking back at her.
The little bouquet still lay on the writing-table; the young wife saw it, and with difficulty restrained her tears.
Countless citizens had flocked to the stately townhall. News of Louis of Nassau’s defeat had spread quickly through all the eighteen wards of the city, and each wanted to learn farther particulars, express his grief and fears to those who held the same views, and hear what measures the council intended to adopt for the immediate future.
Two messengers had only too thoroughly confirmed Baron Matanesse Van Wibisma’s communication. Louis was dead, his brother Henry missing, and his army completely destroyed.
Jan Van Hout, who had taught the boys that morning, now came to a window, informed the citizens what a severe blow the liberty of the country had received, and in vigorous words exhorted them to support the good cause with body and soul.
Loud cheers followed this speech. Gay caps and plumed hats were tossed in the air, canes and swords were waved, and the women and children, who had crowded among the men, fluttered their handkerchiefs, and with their shriller voices drowned the shouts of the citizens.
The members of the valiant city-guard assembled, to charge their captain to give the council the assurance, that the “Schutterij” was ready to support William of Orange to the last penny and drop of their blood, and would rather die for the cause of Holland, than live under Spanish tyranny. Among them was seen many a grave, deeply-troubled face; for these men, who filled its ranks by their own choice, all loved William of Orange: his sorrow hurt them—and