The tank beneath the shot-tower, when it was not in use, was closed with a stone cover, and around this they piled firewood and peats from a stack in the corner of the yard, and standing in the centre out of the reach of arrows, set light to it. Martin lay down watching them through a crack in the floor. Then he signed to Foy, and whispered, and going to the iron baths, Foy drew from them two large buckets of molten lead, each as much as a man could carry. Again Martin looked through the crack, waiting till several of the burners were gathered beneath. Then, with a swift motion he lifted up the trap-door, and as those below stared upwards wondering, full into their faces came the buckets of molten lead. Down went two of them never to speak more, while others ran out shrieking and aflame, tearing at their hair and garments.
After this the Spaniards grew more wary, and built their fires round the oak piers till the flames eating up them fired the building, and the room above grew full of little curling wreaths of smoke.
“Now we must choose,” said Martin, “whether we will be roasted like fowls in an oven, or go down and have our throats cut like pigs in the open.”
“For my part, I prefer to die in the air,” coughed Foy.
“So say I, master. Listen. We can’t get down the stair, for they are watching for us there, so we must drop from the trap-door and charge through the fire. Then, if we are lucky, back to back and fight it out.”
Half a minute later two men bearing naked swords in their hands might be seen bursting through the barrier of flaming wood. Out they came safely enough, and there in an open space not far from the gateway, halted back to back, rubbing the water from their smarting eyes. On them, a few seconds later, like hounds on a wounded boar, dashed the mob of soldiers, while from every throat of the hundreds who were watching went up shrill cries of encouragement, grief, and fear. Men fell before them, but others rushed in. They were down, they were up again, once more they were down, and this time only one of them rose, the great man Martin. He staggered to his feet, shaking off the soldiers who tried to hold him, as a dog in the game-pit shakes off rats. He was up, he stood across the body of his companion, and once more that fearful sword was sweeping round, bringing death to all it touched. They drew back, but a soldier, old in war, creeping behind him suddenly threw a cloak over his head. Then the end came, and slowly, very slowly, they overmatched his strength, and bore him down and bound him, while the watching mob groaned and wept with grief.
IN THE GEVANGENHUIS
When Adrian left the factory he ran on to the house in the Bree Straat.
“Oh! what has happened?” said his mother as he burst into the room where she and Elsa were at work.
“They are coming for him,” he gasped. “The soldiers from the Gevangenhuis. Where is he? Let him escape quickly—my stepfather.”