The Black Tulip HTML version
13. What was going on all this Time
Whilst Cornelius was engaged with his own thoughts, a coach had driven up to the
scaffold. This vehicle was for the prisoner. He was invited to enter it, and he obeyed.
His last look was towards the Buytenhof. He hoped to see at the window the face of
Rosa, brightening up again.
But the coach was drawn by good horses, who soon carried Van Baerle away from
among the shouts which the rabble roared in honour of the most magnanimous
Stadtholder, mixing with it a spice of abuse against the brothers De Witt and the godson
of Cornelius, who had just now been saved from death.
This reprieve suggested to the worthy spectators remarks such as the following: --
"It's very fortunate that we used such speed in having justice done to that great villain
John, and to that little rogue Cornelius, otherwise his Highness might have snatched
them from us, just as he has done this fellow."
Among all the spectators whom Van Baerle's execution had attracted to the Buytenhof,
and whom the sudden turn of affairs had disagreeably surprised, undoubtedly the one
most disappointed was a certain respectably dressed burgher, who from early morning
had made such a good use of his feet and elbows that he at last was separated from
the scaffold only by the file of soldiers which surrounded it.
Many had shown themselves eager to see the perfidious blood of the guilty Cornelius
flow, but not one had shown such a keen anxiety as the individual just alluded to.
The most furious had come to the Buytenhof at daybreak, to secure a better place; but
he, outdoing even them, had passed the night at the threshold of the prison, from
whence, as we have already said, he had advanced to the very foremost rank, unguibus
et rostro, -- that is to say, coaxing some, and kicking the others.
And when the executioner had conducted the prisoner to the scaffold, the burgher, who
had mounted on the stone of the pump the better to see and be seen, made to the
executioner a sign which meant, --
"It's a bargain, isn't it?"
The executioner answered by another sign, which was meant to say, --
"Be quiet, it's all right."