“What!” exclaimed Adrian, as Martin advanced down the room, “you set your mastiff on me, do you? Then I will show you how a gentleman treats dogs,” and suddenly, a naked dagger shining in his hand, he leaped straight at the Frisian’s throat. So quick and fierce was the onslaught that only one issue to it seemed possible. Elsa gasped and closed her eyes, thinking when she opened them to see that knife plunged to the hilt in Martin’s breast, and Foy sprang forward. Yet in this twinkling of an eye the danger was done with, for by some movement too quick to follow, Martin had dealt his assailant such a blow upon the arm that the poniard, jarred from his grasp, flew flashing across the room to fall in Lysbeth’s lap. Another second and the iron grip had closed upon Adrian’s shoulder, and although he was strong and struggled furiously, yet he could not loose the hold of that single hand.
“Please cease fighting, Mynheer Adrian, for it is quite useless,” said Martin to his captive in a voice as calm as though nothing unusual had happened. Then he turned and walked with him towards the door.
On the threshold Martin stopped, and looking over his shoulder said, “Master, I think that the Heer is dead, do you still wish me to put him into the street?”
They crowded round and stared. It was true, Adrian seemed to be dead; at least his face was like that of a corpse, while from the corner of his mouth blood trickled in a thin stream.
“Wretched man!” said Lysbeth wringing her hands, and with a shudder shaking the dagger from her lap as though it had been a serpent, “you have killed my son.”
“Your pardon, mistress,” replied Martin placidly; “but that is not so. The master ordered me to remove the Heer Adrian, whereon the Heer Adrian very naturally tried to stab me. But I, having been accustomed to such things in my youth,” and he looked deprecatingly towards the Pastor Arentz, “struck the Heer Adrian upon the bone of his elbow, causing the knife to jump from his hand, for had I not done so I should have been dead and unable to execute the commands of my master. Then I took the Heer Adrian by the shoulder, gently as I might, and walked away with him, whereupon he died of rage, for which I am very sorry but not to blame.”
“You are right, man,” said Lysbeth, “it is you who are to blame, Dirk; yes, you have murdered my son. Oh! never mind what he said, his temper was always fierce, and who pays any heed to the talk of a man in a mad passion?”
“Why did you let your brother be thus treated, cousin Foy?” broke in Elsa quivering with indignation. “It was cowardly of you to stand still and see that great red creature crush the life out of him when you know well that it was because of your taunts that he lost his temper and said things that he did not mean, as I do myself sometimes. No, I will never speak to you again—and only this afternoon he saved me from the robbers!” and she burst into weeping.