The Black Tulip
17. The First Bulb
On the following evening, as we have said, Rosa returned with the Bible of Cornelius de
Then began between the master and the pupil one of those charming scenes which are
the delight of the novelist who has to describe them.
The grated window, the only opening through which the two lovers were able to
communicate, was too high for conveniently reading a book, although it had been quite
convenient for them to read each other's faces.
Rosa therefore had to press the open book against the grating edgewise, holding above
it in her right hand the lamp, but Cornelius hit upon the lucky idea of fixing it to the bars,
so as to afford her a little rest. Rosa was then enabled to follow with her finger the
letters and syllables, which she was to spell for Cornelius, who with a straw pointed out
the letters to his attentive pupil through the holes of the grating.
The light of the lamp illuminated the rich complexion of Rosa, her blue liquid eyes, and
her golden hair under her head-dress of gold brocade, with her fingers held up, and
showing in the blood, as it flowed downwards in the veins that pale pink hue which
shines before the light owing to the living transparency of the flesh tint.
Rosa's intellect rapidly developed itself under the animating influence of Cornelius, and
when the difficulties seemed too arduous, the sympathy of two loving hearts seemed to
smooth them away.
And Rosa, after having returned to her room, repeated in her solitude the reading
lessons, and at the same time recalled all the delight which she had felt whilst receiving
One evening she came half an hour later than usual. This was too extraordinary an
instance not to call forth at once Cornelius's inquiries after its cause.
"Oh! do not be angry with me," she said, "it is not my fault. My father has renewed an
acquaintance with an old crony who used to visit him at the Hague, and to ask him to let
him see the prison. He is a good sort of fellow, fond of his bottle, tells funny stories, and
moreover is very free with his money, so as always to be ready to stand a treat."
"You don't know anything further of him?" asked Cornelius, surprised.