“And then,” said Foy, growing excited, for Martin really told the story very well, “what happened?”
“Oh, his head went back between his shoulders, and when they picked him up, his neck was broken. I was sorry, but I couldn’t help it, the Lord knows I couldn’t help it; he shouldn’t have called me ’a dirty Frisian ox’ and kicked me in the stomach.”
“No, that was very wrong of him. But they arrested you, didn’t they, Martin?”
“Yes, for the second time they condemned me to death as a brawler and a manslayer. You see, the other Friesland business came up against me, and the magistrates here had money on the Spaniard. Then your dear father saved me. He was burgomaster of that year, and he paid the death fine for me—a large sum—afterwards, too, he taught me to be sober and think of my soul. So you know why Red Martin will serve him and his while there is a drop of blood left in his worthless carcase. And now, Master Foy, I’m going to sleep, and God grant that those dirty Spanish dogs mayn’t haunt me.”
“Don’t you fear for that, Martin,” said Foy as he took his departure, “absolvo te for those Spaniards. Through your strength God smote them who were not ashamed to rob and insult a poor new widowed woman after helping to murder her husband. Yes, Martin, you may enter that on the right side of the ledger—for a change—for they won’t haunt you at night. I’m more afraid lest the business should be traced home to us, but I don’t think it likely since the street was quite empty.”
“Quite empty,” echoed Martin nodding his head. “Nobody saw me except the two soldiers and Vrouw Jansen. They can’t tell, and I’m sure that she won’t. Good-night, my young master.”
ADRIAN GOES OUT HAWKING
In a house down a back street not very far from the Leyden prison, a man and a woman sat at breakfast on the morning following the burning of the Heer Jansen and his fellow martyr. These also we have met before, for they were none other than the estimable Black Meg and her companion, named the Butcher. Time, which had left them both strong and active, had not, it must be admitted, improved their personal appearance. Black Meg, indeed, was much as she had always been, except that her hair was now grey and her features, which seemed to be covered with yellow parchment, had become sharp and haglike, though her dark eyes still burned with their ancient fire. The man, Hague Simon, or the Butcher, scoundrel by nature and spy and thief by trade, one of the evil spawn of an age of violence and cruelty, boasted a face and form that became his reputation well. His countenance was villainous, very fat and flabby, with small, pig-like eyes, and framed, as it were, in a fringe of sandy-coloured whiskers, running from the throat to the temple, where they faded away into a great expanse of utterly bald head. The figure beneath was heavy, pot-haunched, and supported upon a pair of bowed but sturdy legs.