Once more she seemed to faint, while in her ears there rang the cry—“The Hollander! Outstayed! Outstayed! Conquered is the accursed Spaniard!”
Then Lysbeth knew that it was over, and again the faintness overpowered her.
SHE WHO BUYS—PAYS
When Lysbeth’s mind recovered from its confusion she found herself still in the sledge and beyond the borders of the crowd that was engaged in rapturously congratulating the winner. Drawn up alongside of the Wolf was another sleigh of plain make, and harnessed to it a heavy Flemish horse. This vehicle was driven by a Spanish soldier, with whom sat a second soldier apparently of the rank of sergeant. There was no one else near; already people in the Netherlands had learnt to keep their distance from Spanish soldiers.
“If your Excellency would come now,” the sergeant was saying, “this little matter can be settled without any further trouble.”
“Where is she?” asked Montalvo.
“Not more than a mile or so away, near the place called Steene Veld.”
“Tie her up in the snow to wait till to-morrow morning. My horse is tired and it may save us trouble,” he began, then added, after glancing back at the crowd behind him and next at Lysbeth, “no, I will come.”
Perhaps the Count did not wish to listen to condolences on his defeat, or perhaps he desired to prolong the tete-a-tete with his fair passenger. At any rate, without further hesitation, he struck his weary horse with the whip, causing it to amble forward somewhat stiffly but at a good pace.
“Where are we going, Senor?” asked Lysbeth anxiously. “The race is over and I must seek my friends.”
“Your friends are engaged in congratulating the victor, lady,” he answered in his suave and courteous voice, “and I cannot leave you alone upon the ice. Do not trouble; this is only a little matter of business which will scarcely take a quarter of an hour,” and once more he struck the horse urging it to a better speed.
Lysbeth thought of remonstrating, she thought even of springing from the sledge, but in the end she did neither. To seem to continue the drive with her cavalier would, she determined, look more natural and less absurd than to attempt a violent escape from him. She was certain that he would not put her down merely at her request; something in his manner told her so, and though she had no longing for his company it was better than being made ridiculous before half the inhabitants of Leyden. Moreover, the position was no fault of hers; it was the fault of Dirk van Goorl, who should have been present to take her from the sledge.