The Black Tulip HTML version

19. The Maid And The Flower
But poor Rosa, in her secluded chamber, could not have known of whom or of what
Cornelius was dreaming.
From what he had said she was more ready to believe that he dreamed of the black
tulip than of her; and yet Rosa was mistaken.
But as there was no one to tell her so, and as the words of Cornelius's thoughtless
speech had fallen upon her heart like drops of poison, she did not dream, but she wept.
The fact was, that, as Rosa was a high-spirited creature, of no mean perception and a
noble heart, she took a very clear and judicious view of her own social position, if not of
her moral and physical qualities.
Cornelius was a scholar, and was wealthy, -- at least he had been before the
confiscation of his property; Cornelius belonged to the merchant-bourgeoisie, who were
prouder of their richly emblazoned shop signs than the hereditary nobility of their
heraldic bearings. Therefore, although he might find Rosa a pleasant companion for the
dreary hours of his captivity, when it came to a question of bestowing his heart it was
almost certain that he would bestow it upon a tulip, -- that is to say, upon the proudest
and noblest of flowers, rather than upon poor Rosa, the jailer's lowly child.
Thus Rosa understood Cornelius's preference of the tulip to herself, but was only so
much the more unhappy therefor.
During the whole of this terrible night the poor girl did not close an eye, and before she
rose in the morning she had come to the resolution of making her appearance at the
grated window no more.
But as she knew with what ardent desire Cornelius looked forward to the news about his
tulip; and as, notwithstanding her determination not to see any more a man her pity for
whose fate was fast growing into love, she did not, on the other hand, wish to drive him
to despair, she resolved to continue by herself the reading and writing lessons; and,
fortunately, she had made sufficient progress to dispense with the help of a master
when the master was not to be Cornelius.
Rosa therefore applied herself most diligently to reading poor Cornelius de Witt's Bible,
on the second fly leaf of which the last will of Cornelius van Baerle was written.