How eagerly their return was awaited, and how delighted the sisters were to be together again! The old father trembled with joy.
When the two brothers-in-law were alone, each saw his own happiness reflected in the other’s face.
“Well, did I exaggerate when I sang your wife’s praises?” asked Mr. Liakos.
“She’s a treasure, my dear friend!” cried Mr. Plateas,—“a perfect treasure! In a few months,” he went on, “I shall have a new favor to ask of you. I want you to stand as godfather to your nephew.”
“What! You too!”
THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS
From “The Massacre of the Innocents and other Tales by Belgian Writers.” Translated by Edith Wingate Rinder. Published by Stone & Kimball.
Copyright, 1895, by Stone & Kimball.
Towards the hour of supper on Friday, the twenty-sixth day of the month of December, a little shepherd lad came into Nazareth, crying bitterly.
Some peasants, who were drinking ale in the Blue Lion, opened the shutters to look into the village orchard, and saw the child running over the snow. They recognized him as the son of Korneliz, and called from the window: “What is the matter? It’s time you were abed!”
But, sobbing still and shaking with terror, the boy cried that the Spaniards had come, that they had set fire to the farm, had hanged his mother among the nut trees and bound his nine little sisters to the trunk of a big tree. At this the peasants rushed out of the inn. Surrounding the child, they stunned him with their questionings and outcries. Between his sobs, he added that the soldiers were on horseback and wore armor, that they had taken away the cattle of his uncle, Petrus Krayer, and would soon be in the forest with the sheep and cows. All now ran to the Golden Swan where, as they knew, Korneliz and his brother-in-law were also drinking their mug of ale. The moment the innkeeper heard these terrifying tidings, he hurried into the village, crying that the Spaniards were at hand.
What a stir, what an uproar there was then in Nazareth! Women opened windows, and peasants hurriedly left their houses carrying lights which were put out when they reached the orchard, where, because of the snow and the full moon, one could see as well as at midday.
Later, they gathered round Korneliz and Krayer, in the open space which faced the inns. Several of them had brought pitchforks and rakes, and consulted together, terror-stricken, under the trees.
But, as they did not know what to do, one of them ran to fetch the cure, who owned Korneliz’s farm. He came out of the house with the sacristan carrying the keys of the church. All followed him into the churchyard, whither his cry came to them from the top of the tower, that he beheld nothing either in the fields, or by the forest, but that around the farm he saw ominous red clouds, for all that the sky was of a deep blue and agleam with stars over the rest of the plain.