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Van Baerle teaching Rosa to read
Nelson and Sons
I. A GRATEFUL PEOPLE .... 5
II. THE Two BROTHERS .... 17
III. THE PUPIL OF JOHN DE WITTE . . 28
IV. POPULAR JUSTICE 40
V. THE TULIP-FANCIER AND HIS NEIGH-
BOUR . . . . . . -53
VI. THE HATRED OF A TULIP-FANCIER . 63
VII. THE HAPPY MAN MAKES ACQUAINTANCE
WITH MISFORTUNE .... 71
VIII. THE FAMILY CELL 84
IX. THE FAMILY CELL 93
X. THE JAILER'S DAUGHTER ... 99
XI. CORNELIUS VAN BAERLE'S WILL . . 105
XII. THE EXECUTION 119
XIII. WHAT WAS GOING ON ALL THIS TIME
IN THE MIND OF ONE OF THE SPEC-
XIV. THE PIGEONS OF DORT . . . .130
XV. THE LITTLE GRATED WINDOW . . 136
XVI. MASTER AND PUPIL .... 144
XVIL THE FIRST SUCKER ....
XVIII. ROSA'S LOVER
XIX. THE MAID AND THE FLOWER
XX. THE EVENTS WHICH TOOK PLACE DUR-
ING THOSE EIGHT DAYS ,
XXI. THE SECOND SUCKER ....
XXII. JOY .
XXIII. THE RIVAL
XXIV. THE BLACK TULIP CHANGES MASTERS .
XXV. THE PRESIDENT VAN HERYSEN
XXVI. A MEMBER OF THE HORTICULTURAL
XXVII. THE THIRD SUCKER ....
XXVIII. THE HYMN OF THE FLOWERS
XXIX. IN WHICH VAN BAERLE, BEFORE LEAV-
ING LCEVESTEIN, SETTLES ACCOUNTS
XXX. WHEREIN THE READER BEGINS TO
GUESS THE KIND OF EXECUTION
THAT WAS AWAITING CORNELIUS
VAN BAERLE .....
XXXII. A LAST REQUEST
A LEX AND RE DUMAS, or to give
A-\ him his full name, Alexandre
Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was
born at Villers-Cotter&s, dep. Aisne, on
24th July 1803. His youth -was somewhat
idle and irregular. In 1823 he went to
Paris, where he was employed for some
time as a clerk in the bureau of the Due
d'' Orleans. Liter attire, however, lured
him from the drudgery of a clerical calling,
and fame came to him in 1829, when he
published " Henri Trois et sa Cour" He
was a most prodigious worker, and his out-
put during the ten years between 1844 an( ^
1854 is without parallel in literature except,
perhaps, the wonderful first decade of the
author of " Waver ley." "La Tulipe
Noire" which is translated in the follow-
ing pages, was published in 1850. In
spite of the vast wealth which his literary
labours brotight him, Dumas 's career ended
in poverty. He left Paris for the last time
with only two napoleons in his possession.
Retiring to his son's villa at Dieppe, he
died there on th December 1870.
THE BLACK TULIP.
A GRATEFUL PEOPLE.
ON the 20th of August 1672 the city of the Hague,
always so lively, so neat, and so trim, that one
might believe every day to be Sunday; with its shady
park, with its tall trees spreading over its Gothic houses,
with its canals like large mirrors, in which its steeples
and its almost Eastern cupolas are reflected the city
of the Hague, the capital of the Seven United Provinces,
was swelling in all its arteries with a black and red
stream of hurried, panting, and restless citizens, who,
with their knives in their girdles, muskets on their
shoulders, or sticks in their hands, were pushing on to
the Buitenhof, a terrible prison, the grated windows of
which are still shown, where, on the charge of attempted
murder, preferred against him by the surgeon Tyckelaer,
Cornelius de Witte, the brother of the Grand Pension-
ary of Holland, was confined.
If the history of that time, and especially that of the
year in the middle of which our narrative commences,
6 THE BLACK TULIP.
were not indissolubly connected with the two
just mentioned, the few explanatory pages which we
are about to add might appear quite supererogatory;
but we will from the very first apprise the reader our
old friend to whom we are wont on the first page to
promise amusement, and with whom we always try to
keep our word as well as is in our power that this
explanation is as indispensable to the right understand-
ing of our story as to that of the great event itself on
which it is based.
Cornelius de Witte, warden of the dykes, ex-burgo-
master of Dort, his native town, and member of the
Assembly of the States of Holland, was forty-nine years
of age when the Dutch people, tired of the republic
such as John de Witte, the Grand Pensionary of Hol-
land, understood it, at once conceived a most violent
affection for the Stadtholderate, which had been abolished
for ever in Holland by the " Perpetual Edict," forced by
John de Witte upon the United Provinces.
As it rarely happens that public opinion in its whim-
sical flights does not identify a principle with a man,
thus the people saw the personification of the republic
in the two stern figures of the brothers De Witte, those
Romans of Holland, spurning to pander to the fancies
of the mob, and wedding themselves with unbending
fidelity to liberty without licentiousness, and prosperity
without the waste of superfluity ; on the other hand,
the Stadtholderate recalled to the popular mind the
grave, thoughtful image of the young Prince William of
The brothers De Witte humoured Louis XIV., whose
moral influence was felt by the whole of Europe, and
the pressure of whose material power Holland had been
THE BLACK TULIP. 7
made to feel in that marvellous campaign on the Rhine
which in the space of three months had laid the power
of the United Provinces prostrate.
Louis XIV. had long been the enemy of the Dutch z
who insulted or ridiculed him to their hearts' content,
although it must be said that they generally used
French refugees for the mouthpiece of their spite.
Their national pride held him up as the Mithridates of
the republic. The brothers De Witte, therefore, had
to strive against a double difficulty against the force
of national antipathy, and, besides, against that feeling
of weariness which is natural to all vanquished people
when they hope that a new chief will be able to save
them from ruin and shame.
This new chief, quite ready to appear on the political
stage, and to measure himself against Louis XIV., how-
ever gigantic the fortunes of the Grand Monarch loomed
in the future, was William, Prince of Orange, son of
William II., and grandson, by his mother Mary Stuart,
of Charles I. of England. We have mentioned him
before as the person by whom the people expected to
see the office of Stadtholder restored.
This young man was in 1672 twenty-two years of age.
John de Witte, who was his tutor, had brought him up
with the view of making him a good citizen. Loving
his country better than he did his disciple, the master
had, by the " Perpetual Edict," extinguished the hope
which the young Prince might have entertained of one
day becoming Stadtholder. But God laughs at the
presumption of man, who wants to raise and prostrate
the powers on earth without consulting the King above ;
and the fickleness and caprice of the Dutch, combined
with the terror inspired by Louis XIV., in repealing the
8 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Perpetual Edict " and re-establishing the office of
Stadtholder in favour of William of Orange, for whom
the hand of Providence had traced out ulterior destinies
on the hidden map of the future.
The Grand Pensionary bowed before the will of his
fellow-citizens. Cornelius de Witte, however, was more
obstinate, and notwithstanding all the threats of death
from the Orangist rabble, who besieged him in his house
at Dort, he stoutly refused to sign the act by which the
office of Stadtholder was restored. Moved by the tears
and entreaties of his wife he at last complied, only
adding to his signature the two letters V.C. (Vi Coactus),
notifying thereby that he only yielded to force.
It was a real miracle that on that day he escaped from
the doom intended for him.
John de Witte derived no advantage from his ready
compliance with the wishes of his fellow-citizens. Only
a few days after an attempt was made to stab him, in
which he was severely although not mortally wounded.
This by no means suited the views of the Orange
faction. The life of the two brothers being a constant
obstacle to their plans, they changed their tactics, and
tried to obtain by calumny what they had not been able
to effect by the aid of the poniard.
How rarely does it happen that in the right moment
a great man is to be found to head the execution of vast
and noble designs ! but it as rarely happens that, when
the devil's work is to be done, the miscreant is not at
hand who readily and at once enters upon the infamous
The wretched tool in this instance was Tyckelaer, a sur-
geon by profession. He lodged an information against
Cornelius de Witte, setting forth that the warden who,
THE BLACK TULIP. 9
as he had shown by the letters added to his signature,
was fuming at the repeal of the " Perpetual Edict "
had, from hatred against William of Orange, hired an
assassin to deliver the new republic of its new Stadt-
holder ; and he, Tyckelaer, was the person thus chosen ;
but that, horrified at the bare idea of the act which he
was asked to perpetrate, he had preferred rather to
reveal the crime than to commit it.
This disclosure was, indeed, well calculated to call
forth a furious outbreak among the Orange faction. The
Attorney-General caused, on the i6th of August 1672,
Cornelius de Witte to be arrested ; and the noble brother
of John de Witte had, like the vilest criminal, to undergo
in one of the apartments of the town prison the pre-
paratory degrees of torture by means of which his
judges expected to force from him the confession of his
alleged plot against William of Orange.
But Cornelius was not only possessed of a great mind,
but also of a great heart. He belonged to that race of
martyrs who, indissolubly wedded to their political con-
viction as their ancestors were to their faith, are able to
smile on pain. Whilst being stretched on the rack he
recited with a firm voice, and scanning the lines ac-
cording to measure, the first strophe of the " Justum ac
tenacem " of Horace ; and, making no confession, tired
not only the strength but even the fanaticism of his
The judges, notwithstanding, acquitted Tyckelaer
from every charge ; at the same time sentencing Cor-
nelius to be deposed from all his offices and dignities,
to pay all the costs of the trial, and to be banished
the soil of the republic for ever.
This judgment against not only an innocent, but also
aft THE BLACK TOUR
a great man, was indeed some gratification to the pas-
sions of the people, to whose interests Cornelius de
Witte had always devoted himself ; but, 93 we shall soon
see, it was not enough.
The Athenians, who indeed have left behind them a
pretty tolerable reputation for ingratitude, have in this
respect to yield precedence to the Dutch. They at
least in the case of Aristides contented themselves with
John de Witte, at the first intimation of the charge
brought against his brother, had resigned his office of
Grand Pensionary. He too received a noble recom-
pense for his devotedness to the best interests of his
country, taking with him into the retirement of private
life the hatred of a host of enemies and the frssh scars
of wounds inflicted by assassinsonly too often the sole
guerdon obtained by honest people, who are guilty of
having worked for their country and of having forgotten
their own private interests
In the meanwhile William of Orange urged on the
course of events by every means in his power, eagerly
waiting for the time when the people, by whom he was
idolized, should have made of the bodies of the brothers
the two steps over which he might ascend to the chair
Well, then, on the 2oth of August 1672, as we have
already stated in the beginning of this chapter, the whole
town was crowding towards the Buitenhof to witness
the departure of Cornelius de Witte from prison, as he
was going to exile, and to see what traces the torture of
the rack had left on the noble frame of the man who
knew his Horace so well.
Yet all this multitude was not crowding to the.Buiten-
THE BLACK TULIP. n
hof with the innocent view of merely feasting their eyes
with the spectacle ; there were many who went there
to play an active part in it, and to take upon themselves
an office which they conceived had been badly filled
that of the executioner.
There were, indeed, others with less hostile intentions.
All that they cared for was the spectacle, always so
attractive to the mob, whose instinctive pride is flat-
tered by it the sight of greatness hurled down into the
" Has not," they would say, " this Cornelius de Witte
been locked up and broken by the rack ? Shall we not
see him pale, streaming with blood, covered with shame ? "
And was not this a sweet triumph for the burghers of the
Hague, whose envy even beat that of the common rabble
a triumph in which every honest citizen and townsman
might be expected to share ?
" Moreover," hinted the Orange agitators interspersed
through the crowd, whom they hoped to manage like a
sharp-edged and at the same time crushing instrument
" moreover, will not, from the Buitenhof to the gate
of the town, a nice little opportunity present itself to
throw some handfuls of dirt, or a few stones, at this Cor-
nelius de Witte, who not only conferred the dignity of
Stadtholder on the Prince of Orange merely vi coactus,*
but who also intended to have him assassinated ? "
" Besides which," fh fierce enemies of France chimed
in, " if the work were cfone well and bravely at the Hague,
Cornelius would certainly not be allowed to go into exile,
where he will renew his intrigues with France, and live
with his big scoundrel of & brother John on the gold of
the Marquis de Louvois."
Being to wicb A temper, people generally will run rather
THE BLACK TULIP,
than walk ; which was the reason why the inhabitants of
the Hague were hurrying so fast towards the Buitenhof .
Honest Tyckelaer, with a heart full of spite and malice,
and with no particular plan settled in his mind, was one
of the foremost, being paraded about by the Orange party
like a hero of probity, national honour, and Christian
This daring miscreant detailed, with all the embellish-
ments and flourishes suggested by his base mind and his
ruffianly imagination, the attempts which he pretended
Cornelius de Witte had made to corrupt him the sums
of money which were promised, and all the diabolical
stratagems planned beforehand to smooth for him, Tycke-
laer, all the difficulties in the path of murder.
And every phrase of his speech, eagerly listened to
by the populace, called forth enthusiastic cheers for the
Prince of Orange, and groans and imprecations of blind
fury against the brothers De Witte.
The mob even began to vent its rage by inveighing
against the iniquitous judges, who had allowed such a
detestable criminal as the villain Cornelius to get off so
Some of the agitators whispered, " He will be off ; he
will escape from us ! "
Others replied, "A vessel is waiting for him at
Schevening a French craft. Tyckelaer has seen her."
"Honest Tyckelaer! Hurrah for Tyckelaer !" the
mob cried in chonis.
" And let us not forget," a voice exclaimed from the
crowd, " that at the same time with Cornelius, his brother
John, who is as rascally a traitor as himself, will likewise
make his escape. K
" And the two rogues will in France make merry with
THE BLACK TULIP. 13
our money, with the money for our vessels, our arsenals,
and our dockyards, which they have sold to Louis XIV."
" Well, then, don't let us allow them to depart," ad-
vised one of the patriots who had gained the start of the
" Forward to the prison, to the prison ! " echoed the
Among these cries the citizens ran along faster and
faster, cocking their muskets, brandishing their hatchets,
and looking death and defiance in all directions,
No violence, however, had as yet been committed, and
the file of horsemen who were guarding the approaches
of the Buitenhof remained cool, unmoved, silent, much
more threatening in their impassibility than all this
crowd of burghers, with their cries, their agitation, and
their threats. The men on their horses, indeed, stood
like so many statues, under the eye of their chief, Count
Tilly, the captain of the mounted troop of the Hague,
who had his sword drawn, but held it with its point
downwards, in a line with the straps of his stirrup.
This troop, the only defence of the prison, overawed
by its firm attitude not only the disorderly, riotous mass
of the populace, but also the detachment of the burgher-
guard which, being placed opposite the Buitenhof to
support the soldiers in keeping order, gave to the rioters
the example of seditious cries, shouting,
" Hurrah for Orange ! Down with the traitors ! "
The presence of Tilly and his horsemen, indeed, exer-
cised a salutary check on these civic warriors ; but by
degrees they waxed more and more angry by their own
shouts, and as they were not able to understand how any
one could have courage without showing it by cries, they
attributed the silence of tho dragoons to pusillanimity,
14 THE BLACK TULIP.
and advanced one step towards the prison, with all the
turbulent mob following in their wake.
In this moment Count Tilly rode forth towards them
single-handed, merely lifting his sword and contracting
his brow while he addressed them,
" Well, gentlemen of the burgher-guard, what are you
advancing for, and what do you wish ? "
The burghers shook their muskets, repeating their
" Hurrah for Orange ! Death to the traitors 1 "
" ' Hurrah for Orange ! ' All well and good," replied
Tilly, " although I certainly am more partial to happy
faces than to gloomy ones. ' Death to the traitors ! ' As
much of it as you like, as long as you show your wishes
only by cries ; but as to putting them to death in good
earnest, I am here to prevent that, and I shall prevent it."
Then turning round to his men, he gave the word of
" Soldiers, ready ! "
The troopers obeyed orders with a precision which
immediately caused the burgher-guard and the people to
full back in a degree of confusion which excited the smile
of the cavalry officer.
" Halloa ! " he exclaimed, with that bantering tone
which is peculiar to men of his profession. "Be easy,
gentlemen, my soldiers will not fire a shot ; but, on the
other hand, you will not advance by one step towards
" And do you know, sir, that we have muskets ? "
roared the commandant of the burghers.
" I must know it, by Jove ; you have made them glitter
enough before my eyes. But I beg you to observe, also,
that we on our side have pistols ; that the pistol carries
THE BLACK TULIP. 15
admirably to a distance of fifty yards, and that you are
only twenty-five from us.' 1
" Death to the traitors!" cried the exasperated
" Go along with you," growled the officer ; " you
always cry the same thing over again. It is very tire-
With this he took his post at the head of his troops,
whilst the tumult grew fiercer and fiercer about the
And yet the fuming crowd did not know that at the
very moment when they were tracking the scent of one
of their victims, the other, as if hurrying to meet his
fate, passed at a distance of not more than a hundred
yards behind the groups of people and the dragoons to
betake himself to the Buitenhof.
John de Witte, indeed, had alighted from his coach
with a servant, and quietly walked across the courtyard
of the prison,
Mentioning his name to the turnkey who, however,
knew him he said,
" Good-morning, Gryphus. I am coming to take away
my brother, who, as you know, is condemned to exile,
and to carry him out of the town."
Whereupon the jailer, a sort of bear, trained to lock
and unlock the gates of the prison, had greeted him and
admitted him into the building, the doors of which were
immediately closed again.
Ten yards farther on John de Witte met a lovely young
girl of about seventeen or eighteen, dressed in the national
costume of the Frisian women, who with pretty demure-
ness dropped a curtsy to him. Chucking her under the
chin, be said to tor,
16 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Good-morning, my good and fair Rosa ; how is my
brother ? "
" O Mynheer John, sir," the young girl replied, " I
am not afraid of the harm which has been done to him ;
that's all over now. 1 '
" But what is it you are afraid of ? "
" I am afraid of the harm which they are going to do
to him.' 1
" Oh yes," said De Witte ; " you mean to speak of the
people down below, don't you ? "
" Do you hear them ? "
" They are indeed in a state of great excitement ; but
when they see us perhaps they will grow calmer, as we
have never done them anything but good."
" That's unfortunately no reason, except for the con-
trary," muttered the girl, as on an imperative sign from
her father she withdrew.
" Indeed, child, what you say is only too true."
Then, in pursuing his way, he said to himself,
" Here is a damsel who very likely does not know how
to read, who consequently has never read anything ;
and yet with one word she has just told the whole his-
tory of the world."
And with the same calm mien, but more melancholy
than he had been on entering the prison, the Grand
Pensionary proceeded towards the cell of his brother.
THE TWO BROTHERS.
As the fair Rosa with foreboding doubt had foretold,
so it happened. Whilst John de Witte was climbing
the narrow winding stairs which led to the prison of his
brother Cornelius, the burghers did their best to have
the troop of Tilly, which was in their way, removed.
Seeing this disposition, King Mob, who fully appre-
ciated the laudable intentions of his own beloved militia,
shouted most lustily,
" Hurrah for the burghers ! "
As to Count Tilly, who was as prudent as he was firm,
he began to parley with the burghers, under the protection
of the cocked pistols of his dragoons, explaining to the
valiant townsmen that his order from the States com-
manded him to guard the prison and its approaches with
" Wherefore such an order ? Why guard the prison ? "
cried the Orangists.
" Stop," replied the Count ; " there you at once ask
me more than I can tell you. I was told, ' Guard the
prison,' and I guard it. You, gentlemen, who are almost
military men yourselves you are aware that an order
must never be gainsaid."
18 THE BLACK TULIP.
" But this order has been given to you that the traitors
may be enabled to leave the town."
" Very possibly, as the traitors are condemned to exile/'
" But who has given this order ? "
" The States, by George ! "
" The States are traitors."
" I don't know anything about that."
" And you are a traitor yourself."
" I ? "
" Yes, you."
" Well, as to that, let us understand each other, gentle-
men. Whom should I betray the States? Why, I
cannot betray them, whilst, being in their pay, I faith-
fully obey their orders."
As the Count was so indisputably in the right that it
was impossible to argue against him, the mob answered
only by redoubled clamour and horrible threats, to which
the Count opposed the most perfect urbanity.
" Gentlemen," he said, " uncock your muskets ; one
of them may go off by accident. And if the shot chanced
to wound one of my men, we should knock over a couple
of hundreds of yours; for which we should, indeed, be
very sorry, but you even more so, especially as such a
thing is neither contemplated by you nor by myself."
" If you did that," cried the burghers, " we should
have a pop at you too."
" Of course you would. But suppose you killed every
man Jack of us, those whom we should have killed would
not for all that be less dead/'
" Then leave the place to us, and you will perform the
part of a good citizen."
" First of all," said the Count, " I am not a dike*?,
THE BLACK TULIP. 19
but an officer, which is a very different thing ; and
secondly, I am not a Hollander but a Frenchman, which
is more different still. I have to do with no one but
the States, by whom I am paid; let me see an order
from them to leave the place to you, and I shall only be
too glad to wheel off in an instant, as I am confoundedly
" Yes, yes ! " cried a hundred voices, the din of which
was immediately swelled by five hundred others. " Let
us march to the Town Hall ; let us go and see the depu-
ties. Come along, come along ! "
" That's it," Tilly muttered between his teeth as he
saw the most violent among the crowd turning away.
" Go and ask for a meanness at the Town Hall, and you
will see whether they will grant it. Go, my fine fellows,
The worthy officer relied on the honour of the magis-
trates, who on their side relied on his honour as a soldier.
" I say, Captain," the first lieutenant whispered into
the ear of the Count, " I hope the deputies will give these
madmen a flat refusal ; but, after all, it would do no
harm if they would send us some reinforcement."
In the meanwhile John de Witte, whom we left climb-
ing the stairs after his conversation with the jailer Gryphus
and his daughter Rosa, had reached the door of the cell,
where on a mattress his brother Cornelius was resting,
after having undergone the preparatory degrees of the
torture. The sentence of banishment having been pro-
nounced, there was no occasion for inflicting the torture
Cornelius was stretched on his couch, with broken
wrists and crushed fingers. He had not confessed a crime
of which he was not guilty ; and now, after three days of
20 THE BLACK TULIP.
agony, he once more breathed freely on being informed
that the judges, from whom he had expected death, were
only condemning him to exile.
Endowed with an iron frame and a stout heart, how
would he have disappointed his enemies if they could
only have seen, in the dark cell of the Buitenhof, his
pale face lit up by the smile of the martyr, who forgets
the dross of this earth after having obtained a glimpse
of the bright glory of heaven.
The warden, indeed, had already recovered his full
strength, much more owing to the force of his own strong
will than to actual aid ; and he was calculating how long
the formalities of the law would still detain him in prison.
This was just at the very moment when the mingled
shouts of the burgher-guard and of the mob were raging
against the two brothers, and threatening Captain Tilly,
who served as a rampart to them. This noise, which
roared outside the walls of the prison as the surf dashing
against the rocks, now reached the ears of the prisoner.
But threatening as it sounded, Cornelius appeared not
to deem it worth his while to inquire after its cause ; nor
did he get up to look out of the narrow grated window
which gave access to the light and to the noise of the
He was so absorbed in his never-ceasing pain that it
had almost become a habit with him. He felt with such
delight the bonds which connected his immortal being
with his perishable frame gradually loosening, that it
seemed to him as if his spirit, freed from the trammels
of the body, were hovering above it like the expiring
flame which rises from the half-extinguished embers.
He also thought of his brother ; and whilst the latter
was thus vividly present to his mind, the door opened,
THE BLACK TULIP. 21
and John entered, hurrying to the bedside of the prisoner,
who stretched out his broken limbs and his hands, tied
up in bandages, towards that glorious brother, whom
he now exceeded, not in services rendered to the country,
but in the hatred which the Dutch bore him.
John tenderly kissed his brother on the forehead, and
put his sore hands gently back on the mattress.
" Cornelius, my poor brother, you are suffering great
pain, are you not ? "
" I am suffering no longer since I see you, my brother."
" Oh, my poor, dear Cornelius, I feel most wretched
to see you in such a state. "
" And indeed I have thought more of you than of my-
self ; and whilst they were torturing me I never thought
of uttering a complaint, except once, to say, 'Poor
brother ! ' But now that you are here, let us forget all.
You are coming to take me away, are you not ? "
" I am."
" I am quite healed. Help me to get up, and you shall
see how well I can walk."
" You will not have to walk far, as I have my coach
near the pond, behind Tilly's dragoons."
"Tilly's dragoons! what are they near the pond
for ? "
"Well," said the Grand Pensionary, with a melancholy
smile which was habitual to him, " the gentlemen at the
Town Hall expect that the people of the Hague would
like to see you depart, and there is some apprehension
of a tumult."
" Of a tumult ? " replied Cornelius, fixing his eyes on
his perplexed brother" a tumult ? "
" Oh ! that's what I heard just now," said the prisoner,
22 THE BLACK TULIP.
as if speaking to himself. Then turning to his brother,
" Are there many persons down before the prison ? "
" Yes, my brother, there are."
" But then, to come here to me "
" Well ? "
" How is it that they have allowed you to pass ? "
" You know well that we are not very popular, Cor-
nelius," said the Grand Pensionary with gloomy bitter-
ness. " I have made my way through all sorts of
by-streets and alleys."
" You hid yourself, John ? "
" I wished to reach you without loss of time, and I did
what people will do in politics, or on sea when the wind
is against them I tacked."
In this moment the noise in the square below was
heard to roar with increasing fury. Tilly was parleying
with the burghers.
" Well, well," said Cornelius, " you are a very skilful
pilot, John ; but I doubt whether you will as safely guide
your brother out of the Buitenhof in the midst of this
gale, and through the raging surf of popular hatred, as
you did the fleet of Van Tromp past the shoals of the
Scheldt to Antwerp."
" With the help of God, Cornelius, we'll at least try,"
answered John ; " but first of all a word with you."
The shouts began anew.
" Hark, hark ! " continued Cornelius ; " how angry
these people are ! Is it against you, or against me ? "
" I should say it is against us both, Cornelius. I told
you, my dear brother, that the Orange party, whilst
assailing us with their absurd calumnies, have also made
THIS BLACK TUOP. 23
it a reproach against us that we have negotiated with
" What blockheads they are ! "
" But indeed they reproach us with it."
" And yet if these negotiations had been successful
they would have prevented the defeats of Rees, Orsay,
Wesel, and Rheirberg ; the Rhine would not have been
crossed, and Holland might still consider herself invin-
cible in the midst of her marshes and canals."
" All this is quite true, my dear Cornelius, but still
more certain it is that if in this moment our correspond-
ence with the Marquis de Louvois were discovered,
skilful pilot as I am I should not be able to save the
frail barque which is to carry the brothers De Witte and
their fortunes out of Holland. That correspondence,
which might prove to honest people how dearly I love
my country, and what sacrifices I have offered to make
for its liberty and glory, would be ruin to us if it fell into
the hands of the Orange party. I hope you have burnt
the letters before you left Dort to join me at the Hague."
" My dear brother," Cornelius answered, " your corre-
spondence with Mr. de Louvois affords ample proof of
your having been of late the greatest, most generous,
and most able citizen of the Seven United Provinces.
I dote on the glory of my country, and particularly do
I dote on your glory, John. I have taken good care not
to burn that correspondence."
" Then we are lost, as far as this life is concerned,"
quietly said the Grand Pensionary, approaching the
" No ; on the contrary, John, we shall at the same time
save our lives and regain our popularity."
" But what have you done with these letters ? "
34 THE BLACK TULIP.
" I have entrusted them to the care of Cornelius van
Baerle, my godson, whom you know, and who lives at
" Poor, honest Van Baerle ! whp knows so much, and
yet thinks of nothing but of flowers and of God who
made them. You have entrusted him with this fatal
secret ; it will be his ruin, poor soul I "
" Yes, for he will either be strong or he will be weak.
If he is strong he will, when he hears of what has hap-
pened to us, boast of our acquaintance ; if he is weak,
he will be afraid on account of his connection with us :
if he is strong, he will betray the secret by his boldness ;
if he is weak, he will allow it to be forced from him. In
either case he is lost, and so are we. Let us therefore
fly, fly, as long as it is still time."
Cornelius de Witte, raising himself on his couch and
grasping the hand of his brother, who shuddered at the
touch of the linen bandages, replied,
" Do not I know my godson ? Have not I been
enabled to read every thought in Van Baerle's mind
and every sentiment in his heart ? You ask whether
he is strong or weak. He is neither the one nor the
other ; but that is not now the question. The princi-
pal point is that he is sure not to divulge the secret,
for the very good reason that he does not know it him-
John turned round in surprise.
" You must know, my dear brother, that I have been
trained in the school of that distinguished politician
John de Witte ; and I repeat to you that Van Baerle
is not aware of the nature and importance of the deposit
which I have entrusted to him.'*
THE BLACK TULIP. 25
" Quick, then," cried John ; " as it is still time, let us
convey to him directions to burn the parcel."
" Through whom ? "
" Through my servant Craeke, who was to have accom-
panied us on horseback, and who has entered the prison
with me to assist you downstairs."
" Consider well before having those precious docu-
ments burnt, John."
" I consider above all things that the brothers De
Witte must necessarily save their lives to be able to
save their character. If we are dead, who will defend
us? Who will have fully understood our inten-
tions ? "
- " You expect, then, that they would kill us if those
papers were found ? "
John, without answering, pointed with his hand to
the square, from whence in that very moment fierce
shouts and savage yells made themselves heard.
" Yes, yes," said Cornelius ; " I hear these shouts very
plainly, but what is their meaning ? "
John opened the window.
" Death to the traitors ! " howled the populace.
" Do you hear now, Cornelius ? "
" To the traitors ! That means us," said the prisoner,
raising his eyes to heaven and shrugging his shoulders.
" Yes, it means us," repeated John.
" Where is Craeke ? "
" At the door of your cell, I suppose."
" Let him enter, then."
John opened the door ; the faithful servant was- wait-
ing on the threshold.
" Come in, Craeke, and mind well what my brother
will tell you."
26 THE BLACK TULIP.
" No, John, it will not suffice to send a verbal message ;
unfortunately, I shall be obliged to write."
" And why that ? "
" Because Van Baerle will neither give up the parcel
nor burn it without a special command to do so."
" But will you be able to write, poor old fellow ? "
John asked, with a look on the scorched and bruised
hands of the unfortunate sufferer.
" If I had pen and ink you would soon see," said Cor-
" Here is a pencil, at any rate."
" Have you any paper ? for they have left me nothing."
" Here, take this Bible and tear out the fly-leaf."
" Very well ; that will do."
" But your writing will be illegible."
" Just leave me alone for that," said Cornelius. " The
executioners have indeed pinched me badly enough, but
my hand will not tremble once in tracing the few lines
which are requisite."
And really Cornelius took the pencil and began to
write, when through the white linen bandages drops of
blood oozed out, which the pressure of the fingers against
the pencil squeezed from the raw flesh.
A cold sweat stood on the brow of the Grand Pensionary.
" MY DEAR GODSON, Burn the parcel which I have
entrusted to you ; burn it without looking at it and
without opening it, so that its contents may for ever
remain unknown to yourself. Secrets of this descrip-
tion are death to those with whom they are deposited.
Burn it, and you will have saved John and Cornelius
de Witte. FareweU, and love me. DE WITTE."
" August 20, 1672."
THE BLACK TULIP. 27
John, with tears in his eyes, wiped off a drop of the
noble blood which had soiled the leaf ; and after having
handed the dispatch to Craeke with a last direction,
returned to Cornelius, who seemed overcome by intense
pain and near fainting.
" Now," said he, " when honest Craeke sounds his
old coxswain's whistle it will be a signal of his being
clear of the crowd, and of his having reached the other
side of the pond ; and then it will be our turn to depart."
Five minutes had not elapsed before a long and shrill
whistle was heard through the din and noise of the square
of the Buitenhof .
John gratefully raised his eyes to heaven.
" And now," said he, " let us be off, Cornelius."
THE PUPIL OF JOHN DE WITTE.
WHILST the clamour of the crowd in the square of the
Buitenhof, which grew more and more menacing against
the two brothers, determined John de Witte to hasten
the departure of his brother Cornelius, a deputation of
burghers had gone to the Town Hall to demand the with-
drawal of Tilly's horse.
It was not far from the Buitenhof to Hoogstraat (High
Street), and a stranger, who since the beginning of this
scene had watched all its incidents with intense interest,
was seen to wend his way with, or rather in the wake of,
the others towards the Town Hall, to hear as soon as
possible the current news of the hour.
This stranger was a very young man, of scarcely twenty-
two or three, with nothing about him that bespoke any
great energy. He evidently had his good reasons for
not making himself known, as he hid his face in a hand-
kerchief of fine Frisian linen, with which he incessantly
wiped his brow or his burning lips.
With an eye keen like that of a bird of prey, with a
long aquiline nose, a finely-cut mouth which he gener-
ally kept open, or rather which was gaping like the edges
of a wound, this man would have presented to Lavater,
if Lavater had lived at that time, a subject for physiog-
THE BLACK TULIP. 29
nomical observations which at the first blush would not
have been very favourable to the person in question.
" What difference is there between the figure of the
conqueror and that of the pirate ? " said the ancients.
The difference only between the eagle and the vulture
serenity or restlessness.
And indeed the sallow physiognomy, the thin and
sickly body, and the prowling ways of the stranger were
the very type of a suspecting master or an unquiet thief ;
and a police-officer would certainly have decided in fa-
vour of the latter supposition, on account of the great
care which the mysterious person evidently took to hide
. He was plainly dressed and apparently unarmed ;
his arm was lean but wiry, and his hands dry but of
aristocratic whiteness and delicacy, and he leaned on the
shoulder of an officer, who with his hand on his sword
had watched the scenes in the Buitenhof with eager
curiosity, very natural in a military man, until his com-
panion drew him away with him.
On arriving at the square of the Hoogstraat, the man
with the sallow face pushed the other behind an open
shutter, from which corner he himself began to survey
the balcony of the Town Hall.
At the savage yells of the mob the window of the
Town Hall opened, and a man came forth to address the
" Who is that on the balcony ? " asked the young man,
glancing at the orator.
" It is the deputy Bo welt," replied the officer.
" What sort of man is he ? Do you know anything
of him ? "
" An honest man at least I believe so, Monseigneur."
30 THE BLACK TULIP.
Hearing this character given of Bowelt the young man
showed signs of such a strange disappointment and evi-
dent dissatisfaction that the officer could not but remark
it, and therefore added,
" At least people say so, Monseigneur. I cannot say
anything about it myself, as I have no personal acquain-
tance with Mynheer Bowelt."
" Well," the young man muttered half to himself and
half to his companion, " let us wait, and we shall soon
The officer bowed his head in token of his assent and
" If this Bowelt is an honest man," his Highness con-
tinued, " he will give to the demand of these furibund
petitioners a very queer reception."
The nervous quiver of his hand, which moved on the
shoulder of his companion as the fingers of a player on
the keys of a harpsichord, betrayed his burning impa-
tience, so ill-concealed at certain times, and particularly
at that moment, under the icy and sombre expression
of his face.
The chief of the deputation of the burghers was then
heard addressing an interpellation to Mynheer Bowelt,
whom he requested to let them know where the other
deputies, his colleagues, were.
" Gentlemen," Bowelt repeated for the second time,
" I assure you that in this moment I am here alone with
Mynheer d'Asperen, and I cannot take any resolution
on my own responsibility."
" The order ! we want the order ! " cried several thou-
Mynheer Bowelt wished to speak, but his words were
not heard, and he was only seen moving his arms in all
THE BLACK TULIP, 31
32 THE BLACK TULIP.
instant that the deputies will order Tilly's horse to quil
their post ? "
" Why not ? " the young man quietly retorted.
" Because doing so would simply be signing the death-
warrant of Cornelius and John de Witte."
" We shall see," his Highness replied with the most
perfect coolness ; " God alone knows what is going on
within the hearts of men."
The officer looked askance at the impassible figure of
his companion, and grew pale ; he was an honest man as
well as a brave one.
From the spot where they stood his Highness and his
attendant heard the tumult and the heavy tramp of the
crowd on the staircase of the Town Hall. The noise
thereupon sounded through the windows of the hall, on
the balcony of which Mynheers Bowelt and D'Asperen
had presented themselves. These two gentlemen had
retired into the building, very likely from fear of being
forced over the balustrade by the pressure of the crowd.
After this, fluctuating shadows in tumultuous con-
fusion were seen flitting to and fro across the windows ;
the council hall was filling.
Suddenly the noise subsided, and as suddenly again
it rose with redoubled intensity, and at last reached such
a pitch that the old building shook to the very roof.
At length the living stream poured back through the
galleries and stairs to the arched gateway from which
it was seen issuing like waters from a spout.
At the head of the first group a man was flying rather
than running, his face hideously distorted with satanic
glee ; this man was the surgeon Tyckelaer.
" We have it ! we have it ! " he cried, brandishing a
paper in the air.
THE BLACK TULIP. 33
" They have got the order ! " muttered the officer in
" Well then," his Highness quietly remarked, " now
I know what to believe with regard to Mynheer Bowelt's
honesty and courage : he has neither the one nor the
Then, looking with a steady glance after the crowd
which was rushing along before him, he continued,
" Let us now go to the Buitenhof, Captain ; I expect
we shall see a very strange sight there."
The officer bowed, and without making any reply fol-
lowed in the steps of his master.
There was an immense crowd in the square and about
the neighbourhood of the prison. But the dragoons of
Tilly still kept it in check with the same success and with
the same firmness.
It was not long before the Count heard the increasing
din of the approaching multitude, the first ranks of which
rushed on with the rapidity of a cataract.
At the same time he observed the paper which was
waving above the surface of clenched fists and glittering
" Halloa ! " he said, rising in his stirrups and touch-
ing his lieutenant with the knob of his sword ; "I really
believe these rascals have got the order."
" Dastardly ruffians they are ! " cried the Lieuten-
It was indeed the order, which the burgher-guard re-
ived with a roar of triumph. They immediately sallied
brth with lowered arms and fierce shouts to meet Count
But the Count was not the man to allow them to ap-
roach to within an inconvenient distance.
34 TOE BLACK TULIP.
" Stop ! " he cried, " stop, and keep off from my horse,
or I shall give the word of command to advance."
" Here is the order," a hundred insolent voices an-
swered at once,
He took it in amazement, cast a rapid glance on it,
and said quite loud,
" Those who have signed this order are the real mur-
derers of Cornelius de Witte. I would rather have my
two hands cut off than have written one single letter of
this infamous order."
And pushing back with the hilt of his sword the man
who wanted to take it from him, he added,
" Wait a minute ; papers like this are of importance
and are to be kept."
Saying this, he folded up the document and carefully
put it in the pocket of his coat.
Then, turning round towards his troop, he gave the
word of command,
" Tilly's dragoons, wheel to the right ! "
After this he added in an undertone, yet loud enough
for his words to be not altogether lost to those about
" And now, ye butchers, do your work 1 "
A savage yell, in which all the keen hatred and fero-
cious triumph rife in the precincts of the prison simul-
taneously burst forth, and accompanied the departure
of the dragoons as they were quietly filing off.
The Count tarried behind, facing to the last the in-
furiated populace, which advanced at the same rate as
the Count retired.
John de Witte, therefore, had by no means exaggerated
the danger when, assisting his brother in getting up, he
hurried his departure. Cornelius, leaning on the arn?
THE BLACK TULIP. 35
of the ex-Grand Pensionary, descended the stairs which
led to the courtyard. At the bottom of the staircase
he found little Rosa trembling all over.
" O Mynheer John," she said, " what a misfortune ! "
" What is it, my child ? " asked De Witte.
"They say that they are gone to the Town Hall to
fetch the order for Tilly's horse to withdraw."
" You do not say so ! " replied John. " Indeed, my
dear child, if the dragoons are off we shall be in a very
" I have some advice to give you," Rosa said, trem-
bling even more violently than before.
" Well, let us hear what you have to say, my child.
Why should not God speak by your mouth ? "
" Now, then, Mynheer John, if I were in your place I
should not go out through the large street."
" And why so, as the dragoons of Tilly are still at their
post ? "
" Yes, but their order, as long as it is not revoked,
enjoins them to stop before the prison."
" Have you got an order for them to accompany you
out of the town ? "
" We have not."
" Well, then, in the very moment when you have passed
the ranks of the dragoons, you will fall into the hands of
" But the burgher-guard ? "
" Alas ! the burgher-guard are the most enraged of
" What are we to do then ? "
" If I were in your place, Mynheer John," the young
girl timidly continued, " I should leave by the postern,
36 THE BLACK TULIP.
which leads into a deserted by-lane, whilst all the people
are waiting in the High Street to see you come out by
the principal entrance. From thence I should try to
reach the gate by which you intend to leave the town."
" But my brother is not able to walk," said John.
" I shall try," Cornelius said, with an expression of
most sublime fortitude.
" But have you not got your carriage ? " asked the
" The carriage is down near the great entrance."
" Not so," she replied, " I considered your coachman
to be a faithful man, and I told him to wait for you at
The two brothers looked first at each other and then
at Rosa with a glance full of the most tender gratitude.
" The question is now," said the Grand Pensionary,
" whether Gryphus will open this door for us."
" Indeed he will do no such thing," said Rosa.
"Well, and how then?"
" I have foreseen his refusal ; and just now, whilst he
was talking from the window of the porter's lodge with
a dragoon, I took away the key from his bunch."
" And you have got it ? "
" Here it is, Mynheer John."
" My child," said Cornelius, " I have nothing to give
you in exchange for the service you are rendering us
but the Bible which you will find in my room : it is the
last gift of an honest man ; I hope it will bring you good
" I thank you, Master Cornelius; it shall never leave
me," replied Rosa.
And then, with a sigh she said to herself, " What a pity
that I do not know how to read/ 9
THE BLACK TULIP. 37
" The shouts and cries are growing louder and
louder/' said John ; " there is not a moment to be
" Come along, gentlemen, " said the girl, who now led
the two brothers through an inner lobby to the back of
the prison. Guided by her they descended a staircase
of about a dozen steps ; traversed a small courtyard,
which was surrounded by castellated walls ; and the
arched door having been opened for them by Rosa, they
emerged into a lonely street, where their carriage was
ready to receive them.
" Quick, quick, my masters ; do you hear them ? " cried
the coachman in a deadly fright.
Yet, after having made Cornelius get into the carriage
first, the Grand Pensionary turned round towards the
girl, to whom he said,
" Good-bye, my child, words could never express our
gratitude. God will reward you for having saved the"
lives of two men."
Rosa took the hand which John de Witte proffered
to her, and kissed it with every show of respect.
" Go for Heaven's sake, go," she said ; " it seems
they are going to force the gate."
John de Witte hastily got in, sat himself down by the
side of his brother, and fastening the apron of the car-
riage, called out to the coachman,
" To the Tol-Hek ! "
The Tol-Hek was the iron gate leading to the harbour
of Schevening, in which a small vessel was waiting for
the two brothers.
The carriage drove off with the fugitives at the full
speed of a pair of spirited Flemish horses. Rosa followed
them with her eyes until they turned the garner o th
38 THE BLACK TULIP.
street, upon which, closing the door after her, she went
back and threw the key into a well.
The noise which had made Rosa suppose that the
people were forcing the prison door was indeed owing
to the mob battering against it after the square had been
left by the military.
Solid as the gate was, and although Gryphus, to do
him justice, stoutly enough refused to open it, yet it
could not evidently resist much longer; and the jailer,
growing very pale, put to himself the question whether
it would not be better to open the door than to allow it
to be forced, when he felt some one gently pulling his
He turned round and saw Rosa.
" Do you hear these madmen ? " he said.
" I hear them so well, my father, that in your place '
" You would open the door ? "
" No, I should allow it to be forced."
" But they will kill me ! "
" Yes, if they see you."
" How shall they not see me ? "
" Hide yourself."
" Where ? "
" In the secret dungeon."
" But you, my child ? "
" I shall get into it with you. We shall lock the door,
and when they have left the prison we shall again come
forth from our hiding-place."
" Zounds, you are right there ! " cried Gryphus ; " it's
surprising how much sense there is in such a little head."
Then, as the gate began to give way amidst the trium-
phant shouts of the mob, she opened a little trap-door,
THE BLACK TULIP. 39
" Come along, come along, father."
" But our prisoners ? "
" God will watch over them, and I shall watch over
Gryphus followed his daughter, and the trap-door
closed over his head just as the broken gate gave admit-
tance to the populace.
The dungeon where Rosa had induced her father to
hide himself, and where for the present we must leave
the two, offered to them a perfectly safe retreat, being
known only to those in power, who used to place there
important prisoners of state, to guard against a rescue
or a revolt.
The people rushed into the prison with the cry of,
" Death to the traitors ! To the gallows with Cor-
nelius de Witte ! Death ! death ! "
THE young man, with his hat still slouched over his eyes,
still leaning on the arm of the officer, and still wiping
from time to time his brow with his handkerchief, was
watching in a corner of the Buitenhof, in the shade of
the overhanging weatherboard of a closed shop, the
doings of the infuriated mob, a spectacle which seemed
to draw near its catastrophe.
" Indeed," said he to the officer, " indeed, I think you
were right, Van Deken ; the order which the deputies
have signed is truly the death-warrant of Master Cor-
nelius. Do you hear these people ? They certainly bear
a sad grudge to the two De Wittes."
" In truth," replied the officer, " I never heard such
" They seem to have found out the cell of the man.
Look, look, is not that the window of the cell where
Cornelius was locked up ? "
A man had seized with both hands and was shaking
the iron bars of the window in the room which Cornelius
had left only ten minutes before.
" Halloa, halloa," the man called out, " he is gone."
" How is that ? Gone ? " asked those of the mob who
THE BLACK TULIP. 41
had not been able to get into the prison, crowded as it
was with the mass of intruders.
" Gone, gone," repeated the man in a rage ; "the bird
" What does this man say ? " asked his Highness,
growing quite pale.
" O Monseigneur, he says a thing which would be
very fortunate if it should turn out true."
" Certainly it would be fortunate if it were true," said
the young man. " Unfortunately, it cannot be true."
" However, look " said the officer.
And indeed some more faces, furious and contorted
with rage, showed themselves at the windows, crying,
" Escaped gone ; they have helped them off ! "
And the people in the street repeated with fearful
" Escaped ! gone ! Let us run after them, and pursue
them ! "
" Monseigneur, it seems that Mynheer Cornelius has
really escaped," said the officer.
" Yes, from prison perhaps, but not from the town.
You will see, Van Deken, that the poor fellow will find
the gate closed against him, which he hoped to find
' Has an order been given to close the town gates,
Monseigneur ? "
" No ; at least I do not think so. Who could have
given such an order ? "
" Indeed, but what makes your Highness suppose "
" There are fatalities," Monseigneur replied in an off-
hand manner ; " and the greatest men have sometimes
fallen victims to such fatalities."
At these words the officer felt his blood run cold, as
42 THE BLACK TULIP.
somehow or other he was convinced that the prisoner
At this moment the roar of the multitude broke forth
like thunder, for it was now quite certain that Cornelius
de Witte was no longer in the prison.
Cornelius and John, after driving along the pond, had
taken the large street which leads to the Tol-Hek, giving
directions to the coachman to slacken his pace, in order
not to excite any suspicion.
But when, on having proceeded half-way down that
street, the man felt that he had left the prison and death
behind, and before him there was life and liberty, he
neglected every precaution and set his horses off at a
All at once he stopped.
" What is the matter ? " asked John, putting his head
out of the coach window.
" my masters ! " cried the coachman, " it is
Terror choked the voice of the honest fellow.
" Well, say what you have to say/' urged the Grand
" The gate is closed ; that's what it is."
" How is this ? It is not usual to close the gate by
" Just look ! "
John de Witte leaned out of the window, and indeed
saw that the man was right.
" Never mind, but drive on," said John. " I have
with me the order for the commutation of the punish-
ment ; the gatekeeper will let us through."
The carriage moved along, but it was evident that the
driver was no longer urging his horses with the same
degree of confidence.
THE BLACK TULIP. 43
Moreover, as John de Witte put his head out of the
carriage-window he was seen and recognized by a brewer,
who, being behind his companions, was just shutting his
door in all haste to join them at the Buitenhof. He
uttered a cry of surprise, and ran after two other men
before him, whom he overtook about a hundred yards
farther on, and told them what he had seen. The three
men then stopped, looking after the carriage, being, how-
ever, not yet quite sure as to whom it contained.
The carriage in the meanwhile arrived at the Tol-
" Open ! " cried the coachman.
" Open ! " echoed the gatekeeper from the threshold
of his lodge ; " it's all very well to say open, but what
am I to do it with ? "
" With the key, to be sure," said the coachman.
" With the key ! Oh yes ; but if you have not got
" How is that ? Have not you got the key ? " asked
" No, I haven't."
" What has become of it ? "
" Well, they have taken it from me."
" Who ? "
*' Some one, I dare say, who had a mind that no one
should leave the town."
" My good man," said the Grand Pensionary, putting
out his head from the window, and risking all for gaining
all ; " my good man, it is for me, John de Witte, and
for my brother Cornelius, whom I am taking away into
"O Mynheer de Witte, I am indeed very much
grieved," said the gatekeeper, rushing towards the car-
44 THE BLACK TULIP.
riage ; " but, upon my sacred word, the key has been
taken from me.
" This morning."
" By whom ? "
" By a pale and thin young man of about twenty-two."
" And wherefore did you give it up to him ? "
" Because he showed me an order, signed and sealed."
" By whom ? "
" By the gentlemen of the Town Hall."
" Well, then," said Cornelius calmly, " our doom seems
to be fixed."
" Do you know whether the same precaution has been
taken at .the other gates ? "
"I do not."
" Now, then," said John to the coachman, " God com-
mands man to do all that is in his power to preserve his
life ; go, and drive to another gate."
And whilst the servant was turning round the vehicle,
the Grand Pensionary said to the gatekeeper,
" Take our thanks for your good intentions ; the will
must count for the deed. You had the will to save us,
and in the eyes of the Lord it is as if you had succeeded
in doing so."
" Alas ! " said the gatekeeper, " do you see down
there ? "
" Drive at a gallop through that group," John called
out to the coachman, " and take the street on the left ;
it is our only chance."
The group which John alluded to had, for its nucleus,
those three men whom we left looking after the carriage,
and who in the meanwhile had been joined by seven or
THE BLACK TULIP. 45
These newcomers evidently meant mischief with re-
gard to the carriage.
When they saw the horses galloping down upon them
they placed themselves across the street, brandishing
cudgels in their hands, and calling out,
The coachman, on his side, lashed his horses into in-
creased speed, until the coach and the men encountered.
The brothers De Witte, enclosed within the body of
the carriage, were not able to see anything ; but they
felt a severe shock, occasioned by the rearing of the
horses. The whole vehicle for a moment shook and
stopped ; but immediately after, passing over something
round and elastic, which seemed to be the body of a pros-
trate man, set off again amidst a volley of the fiercest
" Alas I " said Cornelius, " I am afraid we have hurt
" Gallop, gallop ! " called John.
But notwithstanding this order the coachman sud-
denly came to a stop.
" Now then, what is the matter again ? " asked John.
" Look there I " said the coachman.
John looked. The whole mass of the populace from
the Buitenhof appeared at the extremity of the street
along which the carriage was to proceed, and its stream
moved roaring and rapid, as if lashed on by a hurricane.
" Stop, and get off," said John to the coachman. " It
is useless to go any farther ; we are lost."
" Here they are ! here they are ! " five hundred voices
were crying at the same time.
" Yes, here they are, the traitors, the murderers, the
assassins 1 " answered the men who were running after
46 THE BLACK TULIP.
the carriage to the people who were coming to meet it.
The former carried in their arms the bruised body of one
of their companions, who, trying to seize the reins of the
horses, had been trodden down by them.
This was the object over which the two brothers had
felt their carriage pass.
The coachman stopped, but, however strongly his
master urged him, he refused to get off and save him-
In an instant the carriage was hemmed in between
those who followed and those who met it. It rose above
the mass of moving heads like a floating island. But
in another instant it came to a dead stop. A blacksmith
had, with his hammer, struck down one of the horses,
which fell in the traces.
At this moment the shutter of a window opened, and
disclosed the sallow face and the dark eyes of the young
man, who with intense interest watched the scene which
Behind him appeared the head of the officer, almost
as pale as himself.
" Good heavens, Monseigneur, what is going on there ? "
whispered the officer.
" Something very terrible, to a certainty," replied the
" Don't you see, Monseigneur ? They are dragging the
Grand Pensionary from the carriage; they strike him,
they tear him to pieces ! "
" Indeed, these people must certainly be prompted
by a most violent indignation," said the young man, with
the same impassible tone which he had preserved all
" And here is Cornelius, whom they now likewise drag
THE BLACK TULIP. 47
out of the carriage Cornelius, who is already quite broken
and mangled by the torture. Only look, look ! "
" Indeed, it is Cornelius, and no mistake."
The officer uttered a feeble cry, and turned his head
away ; the brother of the Grand Pensionary, before
having set foot on the ground, whilst still on the bottom
step of the carriage, was struck down with an iron bar
which broke his skull. He rose once more, but imme-
diately fell again.
Some fellows then seized him by the feet, and dragged
him into the crowd, into the middle of which one might
have followed his bloody track, and he was soon closed
in among the savage yells of malignant exultation.
The young man a thing which would have been
thought impossible grew even paler than before, and
his eyes were for a moment veiled behind the lids.
The officer saw this sign of compassion, and, wishing
to avail himself of the softened tone of his feelings, con-
" Come, come, Monseigneur, for here they are also
going to murder the Grand Pensionary."
But the young man had already opened his eyes again.
" To be sure," he said. " These people are really im-
placable. It does no one good to offend them."
" Monseigneur," said the officer, " could not one save
this poor man, who has been your Highness's instructor ?
If there be a means name it, and if I should perish in the
William of Orange for he it was knit his brows in
a very forbidding manner, restrained the glance of gloomy
malice which glistened in his half-closed eye, and an-
" Captain Van Deken, I request you to go and look
48 THE BLACK TULIP.
after my troops, that they may be armed for any emer-
" But am I to leave your Highness here, alone, in the
presence of all these murderers ? "
" Go, and don't you trouble yourself about me more
than I do myself," the Prince gruffly replied.
The officer started off with a speed which was much
less owing to his sense of military obedience than to his
pleasure at being relieved from the necessity of witness-
ing the shocking spectacle of the murder of the other
He had scarcely left the room when John who with
an almost superhuman effort had reached the stone steps
of a house nearly opposite that where his former pupil
concealed himself began to stagger under the blows
which were inflicted on him from all sides, calling out,
" My brother where is my brother ? "
One of the ruffians knocked off his hat with a blow
of his clenched fist.
Another showed to him his bloody hands ; for this
fellow had ripped open Cornelius and disembowelled
him, and was now hastening to the spot in order not to
lose the opportunity of serving the Grand Pensionary
in the same manner, whilst they were dragging the dead
body of Cornelius to the gibbet.
John uttered a cry of agony and grief, and put one of
his hands before his eyes.
" Oh, you close your eyes, do you ? " said one of the
soldiers of the burgher-guard ; " well, I shall open them
And saying this he stabbed him with his pike in the
face, and the blood spurted forth.
" My brother ! " cried John de Witte, trying to see,
THE BLACK TULIP 49
through the stream of blood which blinded him, what
had become of Cornelius ; " my brother, my brother ! "
" Go, and run after him ! " bellowed another murderer,
putting his musket to his temples and pulling the trigger.
But the gun did not go off.
The fellow then turned his musket round, and, taking
it by the barrel with both hands, struck John de Witte
down with the butt-end. John staggered and fell down
at his feet, but raising himself with a last effort he
once more called out, " My brother ! " with a voice so
full of anguish that the young man opposite closed the
There remained little more to see : a third murderer
fired a pistol with the muzzle to his face ; and as this
time the shot took effect, blowing out his brains, John
de Witte fell, to rise no more.
On this every one of the miscreants, emboldened by
his fall, wanted to fire his gun at him, or strike him with
blows of the sledge-hammer, or stab him with knife or
sword ; every one wanted to draw a drop of blood from
the fallen hero, and tear off a shred from his garments.
And after having mangled and torn and completely
stripped the two brothers, the mob dragged their naked
and bloody bodies to an extemporized gibbet, where
amateur executioners hung them up by the feet.
Then came the most dastardly scoundrels of all, who,
not having dared to strike the living flesh, cut the dead
in pieces, and then went about in the town selling small
slices of the bodies of John and Cornelius at ten sous a
We cannot take upon ourselves to say whether, through
the almost imperceptible chink of the shutter, the young
man witnessed the conclusion of this shocking scene :
50 THE BLACK TULIP.
but at the very moment when they were hanging the
two martyrs on the gibbet he passed through the ter-
rible mob, which was too much absorbed in the task,
so grateful to its taste, to take any notice of him ; and
thus he reached unobserved the Tol-Hek, which was still
" Ah, sir," said the gatekeeper, " do you bring me the
key ? "
" Yes, my man, here it is."
" It is most unfortunate that you did not bring me
that key only one quarter of an hour sooner," said the
gatekeeper with a sigh.
" And why that ? " asked the other.
" Because I might have opened the gate to Mynheers
de Witte ; whereas, finding the gate locked, they were
obliged to retrace their steps."
" Gate, gate ! " cried a voice which seemed to be that
of a man in a hurry.
The Prince, turning round, observed Captain Van
" Is that you, Captain ? " he said. " You are not yet
out of the Hague ? This is executing my orders very
" Monseigneur," replied the Captain, " this is the
third gate at which I have presented myself; the two
others were closed."
" Well, this good man will open this one for you. Do
it, my friend/'
The last words were addressed to the gatekeeper, who
stood quite thunderstruck on hearing Captain Van Deken
addressing by the title of Monseigneur this pale young
man, to whom he himself ha,d spoken In such a familial'
THE BLACK TULIP. 51
As it were to make up for his fault he hastened to
open the gate, which swung creaking on its hinges.
" Will Monseigneur avail himself of my horse ? " asked
" I thank you, Captain, I shall use my own steed, which
is waiting for me close at hand."
And taking from his pocket a golden whistle, such as
was generally used at that time for summoning the serv-
ants, he sounded it with a shrill and prolonged call, on
which an equerry on horseback speedily made his appear-
ance, leading another horse by the bridle.
William, without touching the stirrup, vaulted into
the saddle of the led horse, and setting his spurs into
its flanks, started off for the Leyden road. Having
reached it he turned round and beckoned to the Captain,
who was far behind, to ride by his side.
" Do you know," he then said without stopping,
" that those rascals have killed John de Witte as well
as his brother ? "
" Alas ! Monseigneur," the Captain answered sadly,
" I should like it much better if these two difficulties
were still in your Highness's way of becoming de facto
Stadtholder of Holland."
" Certainly it would have been better," said William,
" if what did happen had not happened. But it cannot
be helped now, and we have had nothing to do with it.
Let us push on, Captain, that we may arrive at Alphen
before the message which the States-General are sure
to send to me to the camp."
The Captain bowed, allowed the Prince to ride ahead,
and for the remainder of the journey kept at the same
respectful distance as he had done before his Highness
called him to his side.
52 THE BLACK TULIP.
" How I should wish," William of Orange malignantly
muttered to himself, with a dark frown and setting the
spurs to his horse, " to see the figure which Louis will
cut when he is apprised of the manner in which his dear
friends De Witte have been served I "
THE TULIP-FANCIER AND HIS NEIGHBOUR.
WHILST the burghers of the Hague were tearing in pieces
the bodies of John and Cornelius de Witte, and whilst
William of Orange, after having made sure that his two
antagonists were really dead, was galloping on the Leyden
road, followed by Captain van Deken, whom he found a
little too compassionate to honour him any longer with
his confidence, Craeke, the faithful servant, mounted on
a good horse, and little suspecting what terrible events
had taken place since his departure, proceeded along the
highroad lined with trees, until he was clear of the town
and the neighbouring villages.
Being once safe, he, with a view of avoiding suspicion,
left his horse at a livery-stable, and quietly continuing
his journey on the canal-boats to Dort, soon descried
that cheerful city, at the foot of a hill dotted with wind-
mills. He saw the fine red brick houses, mortared in
white lines, standing on the edge of the water, and their
balconies, open towards the river, decked out with silk
tapestry embroidered with gold flowers, the wonderful
manufacture of India and China ; and near these bril-
liant stuffs, large lines set to catch the voracious eels,
which are attracted towards the houses by the garbage
thrown every day from the kitchens into the river.
54 THE BLACK TULIP.
Craeke, standing on the deck of the boat, saw, across
the moving sails of the windmills on the slope of the
hill, the red and pick house which was the goal of his
errand. The outlines of its roof were merging in the
yellow foliage of a curtain of poplar-trees, the whole
habitation having for background a dark grove of gigantic
elms. The mansion was situated in such a way that the
sun, falling on it as into a funnel, dried up, warmed, and
fertilized the mist which the verdant screen could not
prevent the river-wind from carrying there every morn-
ing and evening.
Having disembarked unobserved among the usual
bustle of the city, Craeke at once directed his steps to-
wards the house which we have just described, and which
white, trim, and tidy, even more cleanly scoured and
more carefully waxed in the hidden corners than in the
places which were exposed to vsew -endowed a truly
This happy mortal, rara avis, was Doctor van B&erle,
the godson of Cornelius de Witte. He fatd inb^bited
the same house ever since his childhood ; ftsr it was the
house in which his father and grandfather, old estab-
lished princely merchants of the princely city of Dort,
Mynheer van Baerle, the father, had amassed in the
Indian trade three or four hundred thousand guilders,
which Mynheer VEJI Baerle, the son, at the death of his
dear and worthy parents, found still quite new, although
one set of them bore the date of coinage of 1640, imd the
other that of 1610 a fact which proved that they were
guilders of Van Baerle the father and of Van Baerle the
grandf ather j bat we will Inform the reader at once that
three or four hundred thousand guilders wre only
THE BLACK TUUP, 55
the pocket-money, or a sort of purse, for Cornelius van
Baerle, the hero of this story, as Ids landed property in
the province yielded him an income of about ten thou-
sand guilders a year,
When the worthy citiben, the father of Cornelius,
passed from tune into eternity three months after hav-
ing buried his wife, who seemed to have departed first
to smooth for him the path of death as she had smoothed
for him the path of life, he said to his son as he embraced
him for the last time,
" Eat, drink, and spend your money, if you wish to
know what life really is ; for as to toiling from morn to
evening on a wooden stool or a leathern chair in a count-
ing-house or a laboratory, that certainly is not living.
"Your time to die will also come ; and if you are not then
so fortunate as to have a son, you will let my name grow
extinct, and my guilders, which no one has ever fingered
but my father, myself, and the coiner, will have the sur-
prise of passing to an unknown master. And least of
all imitate the example of your godfather Cornelius de
Witte, who has plunged into politics, the most ungrateful
of all careers, and who will certainly come to an un-
Having given utterance to this paternal advice, the
worthy Mynheer van Baerle died, to the intense grief of
his son Cornelius, who cared very little for the guilders
and very much for his father.
Cornelius, then, remained alone in his large house.
In vain his godfather offered to him a place in the public
service ; in vain did he try to give him a taste for glory.
Cornelius van Baerle, who was present in De Ruyter's
flagship, The Seven Provinces, at the battle of South-
wold Bay, only calculated after the fight was over how
56 THE BLACK TULIP.
much time a man who likes to shut himself up with his
own thoughts is obliged to waste in closing his eyes and
stopping his ears, whilst his fellow-creatures indulge in
the pleasure of shooting at each other with cannon-balls.
He therefore bade farewell to De Ruyter, to his godfather,
and to glory ; kissed the hands of the Grand Pensionary,
for whom he felt a profound veneration ; and retired to
his house at Dort, where he possessed every element of
what alone was happiness to him.
He studied plants and insects, collected and classified
the flora of all the Dutch islands, arranged the whole
entomology of the province, on which he wrote a trea-
tise, with plates drawn by his own hands ; and at last,
being at a loss what to do with his time, and especially
with his money, which went on accumulating at a most
alarming rate, he took it into his head to select for him-
self, from all the follies of his country and of his age, one
of the most elegant and expensive he became a tulip-
It was the time when the Dutch and the Portuguese,
rivalling each other in this branch of horticulture, had
begun to idolize and almost worship that flower, which
originally had come from the East.
Soon people from Dort to Mons began to talk of Myn-
heer van Baerle's tulips ; and his beds, pits, drying-
rooms, and drawers of bulbs were visited, as the galleries
and libraries of Alexandria were by illustrious Roman
Van Baerle began by expending his yearly revenue in
laying the groundwork of his collection, after which he
broke hi upon his new guilders to bring it to perfection.
His exertions, indeed, were crowned with a most mag-
nificent result. He produced three new tulips, which he
THE BLACK TULIP.
called the " Jane," after his mother ; the " Van Baerle,"
after his father ; and the " Cornelius," after his god-
father. The other names have escaped us, but the fanciers
will be sure to find them in the catalogues of the times.
In the beginning of the year 1672 Cornelius de Witte
came to Dort for three months, to live at his old family
mansion ; for not only was he born in that city, but his
family had been resident there for centuries.
Cornelius at that period, as William of Orange said,
began to enjoy the most perfect unpopularity. To his
fellow-citizens, the good burghers of Dort, however, he
did not appear in the light of a criminal who deserved
to be hung. It is true they did not particularly like
his somewhat too austere republicanism, but they were
proud of his valour ; and when he made his entrance
into their town, the cup of honour was offered to him
readily enough, in the name of the city.
After having thanked his fellow-citizens, Cornelius
proceeded to his old paternal house, and gave directions
for some repairs which he wished to have executed be-
fore the arrival of his wife and children ; and thence he
wended his way to the house of his godson, who perhaps
was the only person in Dort as yet unacquainted with
the presence of Cornelius in the town.
In the same degree as Cornelius de Witte had excited
the hatred of the people by sowing those evil seeds which
are called political passions, Van Baerle had gained the
affections of his fellow-citizens by completely shunning
the pursuit of politics, absorbed as he was in the peaceful
pursuit of cultivating tulips.
Van Baerle was truly beloved by his servants and
labourers ; nor had he any conception that there was
in this world a man who wished ill to another.
58 THE BLACK TULIP.
And yet it must be said, to the disgrace of mankind,
that Cornelius van Baerle, without being aware of the
fact, had a much more ferocious, fierce, and implacable
enemy than the Grand Pensionary and his brother had
among the Orange party.
At the time when Cornelius van Baerle began to de-
vote himself to tulip-growing, expending on this hobby
his yearly revenue and the guilders of his father, there
was at Dort, living next door to .him, a citizen of the
name of Isaac Boxtel, who from the age when he was
able to think for himself had indulged the same fancy,
and who was in ecstasies at the mere mention of the
Boxtel had not the good fortune of being rich like
Van Baerle. He had therefore, with great care and
patience, and by dint of strenuous exertions, laid out
near his house at Dort a garden fit for the culture of his
cherished flower. He had mixed the soil according to
the most approved prescriptions, and given to his hot-
beds just as much heat and fresh air as the strictest rules
of horticulture exact.
Isaac knew the temperature of his frames to the twen-
tieth part of a degree. He knew the strength of the
current of air, and tempered it so as to adapt it to the
wave of the stems of his flowers. His productions also
began to meet with the favour of the public. They were
beautiful nay, distinguished. Several fanciers had come
to see Boxtel's tulips. He had even started a tulip which
bore his name, and which, after having travelled all
through France, had found its way into Spain and pene-
trated as far as Portugal ; and the king,. Don Alphonso
VI. who, being expelled from Lisbon, retired to the
island of Terceira, where he amused himself, not, like
THE BLACK TULIP. 59
the great Conde", with watering his carnations, but with
growing tulips had, on seeing the Boxtel tulip, ex-
claimed, " Not so bad, by any means ! "
All at once Cornelius van Baerle, who after all his
learned pursuits had been seized with the tulipomania,
made some changes in his house at Dort, which, as we
have stated, was next door to that of Boxtel. He raised
a certain building in his courtyard by a story, which,
shutting out the sun, took half a degree of warmth from
BoxteFs garden, and, on the other hand, added half a
degree of cold in winter ; not to mention that it cut the
wind, and disturbed all the horticultural calculations
and arrangements of his neighbour.
After all, this mishap appeared to Boxtel of no great
consequence. Van Baerle was but a painter, a sort of
fool who tried to reproduce and disfigure on canvas
the wonders of nature. The painter, he thought, had
raised his studio by a story to get better light, and thus
he had only been in the right. Mynheer van Baerle was
a painter, as Mynheer Boxtel was a tulip-grower; he
wanted somewhat more sun for his paintings, and he
took half a degree from his neighbour's tulips.
The law was for Van Baerle, and Boxtel had to abide
Besides which, Isaac had made the discovery that
too much sun was injurious to tulips, and that this flower
grew quicker and had a better colouring with the tem-
perate warmth of morning than with the powerful heat
of the midday sun. He therefore felt almost grateful
to Cornelius van Baerle for having given him a screen
Maybe this was not quite in accordance with the true
state of things in general, and of Isaac Boxtel's feelings
60 THE BLACK TULIP.
in particular. It is certainly astonishing what rich com-
fort, great minds, in the midst of momentous catastrophes,
will derive from the consolations of philosophy.
But, alas! what was the agony of the unfortunate
Boxtel on seeing the windows of the new story set out
with bulbs and seedlings of tulips for the border, and
tulips in pots in short, with everything pertaining to
the pursuits of a tulip-fancier.
There were bundles of labels, cupboards, and drawers
with compartments, and wire guards for the cupboards,
to allow free access to the air whilst keeping out slugs,
mice, dormice, and rats all of them very curious fanciers
of tulips at two thousand francs a bulb.
Boxtel was quite amazed when he saw all this appara-
tus, but he was not as yet aware of the full extent of his
misfortune. Van Baerle was known to be fond of every-
thing that pleases the eye. He studied nature in all her
aspects for the benefit of his paintings, which were as
minutely finished as those of Gerard Dow his master,
and of Mieris his friend. Was it not possible that, hav-
ing to paint the interior of a tulip-grower's, he had col-
lected in his new studio all the accessories of decoration ?
Yet, although thus consoling himself with illusory
suppositions, Boxtel was not able to resist the burning
curiosity which was devouring him. In the evening,
therefore, he placed a ladder against the partition wall
between their gardens, and looking into that of his neigh-
bour Van Baerle, he convinced himself that the soil of a
large square bed, which had formerly been occupied by
different plants, was removed, and the ground disposed
in beds of loam mixed with river mud (a combination
which is particularly favourable to the tulip), and the
whole surrounded by a border of turf to keep the soil in
THE BLACK TULIP. 61
its place. Besides this, sufficient shade to temper the
noonday heat ; aspect south-south-west ; water in abun-
dant supply, and at hand in short, every requirement to
ensure not only success but also progress. There could
not be a doubt but that Van Baerle had become a tulip-
Boxtel at once pictured to himself this learned man,
with a capital of four hundred thousand, and a yearly
income of ten thousand guilders, devoting all his intel-
lectual and financial resources to the cultivation of the
tulip. He foresaw his neighbour's success, and he felt
such a pang at the mere idea of this success that his
hands dropped powerless, his knees trembled, and he
fell in despair from the ladder.
And thus it was not for the sake of painted tulips but
for real ones that Van Baerle took from him half a degree
of warmth. And thus Van Baerle was to have the most
admirably fitted aspect, and, besides, a large, airy, and
well-ventilated chamber where to preserve his bulbs and
seedlings ; whilst he, Boxtel, had been obliged to give
up for this purpose his bedroom, and, lest his sleeping
in the same apartment might injure his bulbs and seed-
lings, had taken up his abode in a miserable garret.
Boxtel, then, was to have next door to him a rival and
successful competitor ; and his rival, instead of being
some unknown, obscure gardener, was the godson of
Mynheer Cornelius de Witte that is to say, a celebrity.
Boxtel, as the reader may see, was not possessed of
the spirit of Poms, who on being conquered by Alex-
ander consoled himself with the celebrity of his con-
And how if Van Baerle produced a new tulip and
named it the John de Witte, after having named one
62 THE BLACK TULIP.
the Cornelius ? It was indeed enough to choke honest
Isaac with rage.
Thus Boxtel, with jealous foreboding, became the
prophet of his own misfortune. And after having made
this melancholy discovery, he passed the most wretched
THE HATRED OF A TULIP-FANCIER.
FROM that moment BoxteFs interest in tulips was no
longer a stimulus to his exertions, but a deadening anxiety.
Henceforth all his thoughts ran only upon the injury
which his neighbour would cause him, and thus his fa-
vourite occupation was changed into a constant source of
misery to him.
Van Baerle, as may easily be imagined, had no sooner
begun to apply his natural ingenuity to his new fancy
than he succeeded in growing the finest tulips. Indeed,
he knew better than any one else at Haarlem or Leyden
the two towns which boast the best soil and the most
congenial climate how to vary the colours, to modify
the shape, and to produce new species.
Mynheer van Baerle and his tulips, therefore, were
in the mouth of everybody so much so that Boxtel's
name disappeared for ever from the list of the notable
tulip-growers in Holland, and those of Dort were now
represented by Cornelius van Baerle, the modest and
Engaging heart and soul in his pursuits of sowing,
planting, and gathering, Van Baerle, caressed by the
whole fraternity of tulip-growers in Europe, entertained
64 THE BLACK TULIP.
not the least suspicion that there was at his very
pretender whose throne he had usurped.
He went on in his career, and consequently in his
triumphs ; and in the course of two years he covered his
borders with such marvellous productions as no mortal
man, following in the tracks of the Creator, except per-
haps Shakespeare and Rubens, has equalled in point of
And also, if Dante had wished for a new type to be
added to his characters of the Inferno, he might have
chosen Boxtel during the period of Van Baerle's suc-
cesses. Whilst Cornelius was weeding, manuring, water-
ing his beds ; whilst, kneeling on the turf border, he
analyzed every vein of the flowering tulips and meditated
on the modifications which might be effected by crosses
of colour or otherwise, Boxtel, concealed behind a small
sycamore which he had trained at the top of the partition
wall in the shape of a fan, watched, with his eyes starting
from their sockets and with foaming mouth, every step
and every gesture of his neighbour ; and whenever he
thought he saw him look happy, or descried a smile on
his lips, or a flash of contentment glistening in his eyes,
he poured out towards him such a volley of maledictions
and furious threats as to make it indeed a matter of won-
der that this venomous breath of envy and hatred did not
a blight on the innocent flowers which had excited it.
the evil spirit has once taken hold of the heart
of man, it urges him on without letting him stopTj Thus
Boxtel soon was no longer content with seeing VanBaerle.
He wanted to see his flowers too ; he had the feelings
of an artist ; the masterpiece of a rival engrossed his
He therefore bought a telescope, which enabled him
THE BLACK TULIP. 65
to watch as accurately as did the owner himself every
progressive development of the flower, from the moment
when, in the first year, its pale seed-leaf begins to peep
from the ground to that glorious one when, after five
years, its petals at last reveal the hidden treasures of its
chalice. How often had the miserable, jealous man to
observe in Van Baerle's beds tulips which dazzled him
by their beauty and almost choked him by their perfection !
... And then, after the first blush of the admiration which
he could not help feeling, he began to be tortured by the
pangs of envy, by that slow fever which creeps over the
heart and changes it into a nest of vipers, each devouring
the other, and ever born anew. How often did Boxtel,
in the midst of tortures which no pen is able fully to
"describe how often did he feel an inclination to jump
down into the garden during the night to destroy the
plants, to tear the bulbs with his teeth, and to sacrifice
to his wrath the owner himself if he should venture to
stand up for the defence of his tulips ! ^fc
But to kill a tulip was a horrible crime in the eyes of
a genuine tulip-fancier; as to killing a man, it would
not have mattered so very much.
Yet Van Baerle made such progress in the noble sci-
ence of growing tulips, which he seemed to master with
the true instinct of genius, that Boxtel at last was mad-
dened to such a degree as to think of throwing stones
and sticks into the flower-stands of his neighbour. But
remembering that he would-be jure^tpjsfijound out, and
that he would not on lyjbe punished byJaw. but also dis-
honoured for ever~in the face of all the tulip-growers of
^ Europe, he had recourse to stratagem ; and, to gratify
his hatred, tried to devise a plan by means of which he
might gain his ends without being compromised himself.
66 THE BLACK TULIP.
He considered a long time, and at last his meditations
were crowned with success.
One evening he tied two cats together by their hind
legs with a string about six feet in length, and threw
them from the wall into the midst of that noble, that
princely, that royal bed, which contained not only the
"Cornelius de Witte," but, besides, the "Beauty of
Brabant/' milk-white, edged with purple and pink ;
the " Marble of Rotterdam," colour of flax blossom,
feathered red and flesh colour ; and the " Wonder of
Haarlem, " dark dove colour, tinged with a lighter shade
of the same.
The frightened cats having alighted on the ground,
first tried to fly each in a different direction, until the
string by which they were tied together was tightly
stretched across the bed ; then, however, feeling that
they were not able to get off, they began to pull to and
fro, and to wheel about with heartrending caterwaul-
ings, mowing down with their string the flowers among
which they were disporting themselves, until, after a
furious strife of about a quarter of an hour, the string
broke and the combatants vanished.
Boxtel, hidden behind his sycamore, could not see
anything, as it was pitch dark ; but the piercing cries
of the cats told the whole tale, and his heart, over-
flowing with gall, was now throbbing with triumphant
Boxtel was so eager to ascertain the extent of the in-
jury that he remained on his post until morning, to feast
his eyes at the sad state in which the two cats had placed
the flower-beds of his neighbour. The mists of the morn-
ing chilled his frame; but he did not feel the cold, the
hopejrfjrevenge keeping his blood at fever heat. The
THE BLACK TULIP. 67
chagrin of his rival was to pay for all the inconvenience
which he incurred himself.
At the earliest dawn the door of the white house opened,
and Van Baerle made his appearance, approaching the
flower-beds with the smile of a man who has passed the
night comfortably in his bed and has had happy dreams.
All at once he perceived furrows and little mounds of
earth on the beds, which only the evening before had
been as smooth as a mirror ; all at once he perceived
the symmetrical rows of his tulips to be completely
disordered, like the pikes of a battalion in the midst
of which a shell has fallen.
He ran up to them with blanched cheek.
Boxtel trembled with joy. v Fifteen or twenty tulips,
torn and crushed, were lying about, some of them bent,
others completely broken and already withering; the
sap was oozing from their bleeding bulbs. How gladly
would Van Baerle have redeemed that precious sap with
his own blood !
But what were his surprise and his delight ! what was
the disappointment of his rival ! Not one of the four
tulips which the latter had meant to destroy was injured
at all. They raised proudly their noble heads above
the corpses of their slain companions. This was enough
to console Van Baerle, and enough to fan the rage of
the horticultural murderer, who tore his hair at the sight
of the effects of the crime which he had committed in vain.
Van Baerle could not imagine the cause of the mishap,
which fortunately was of far less consequence than it
might have been. On making inquiries, he learned that
the whole night had been disturbed by terrible cater-
waulings. He besides found traces of the cats their
footmarks and hairs left behind on the battlefield. To
68 THE BLACK TULIP.
guard, therefore, in future against a similar outrage, he
gave orders that henceforth one of the under-gardeners
should sleep in the garden in a sentry-box near the flower-
Boxtel heard him give the order, and saw the sentry-
box put up that very day ; but he deemed himself lucky
in not having been suspected, and being more than ever
incensed against the successful horticulturist, he resolved
to abide his time.
Just then the Tulip Society of Haarlem offered a
prize for the production of the large blacls iujjp without
a spot of colour ; a thing which had not yet been accom-
plished, and was considered impossible, as at that time
there did not exist a flower of that species approaching
even to dark nut-brown. It was, therefore, generally
said that the founders of the prize might just as well
have offered two millions as a hundred thousand guilders,
since no one would be able to gain it.
The tulip-growing world, however, was thrown by it
into a state of most active commotion. Some fanciers
caught at the idea without believing it practicable ; but
such is the power of imagination among florists that,
although considering the undertaking as certain to fail,
all their thoughts were engrossed by that grand black
tulip, which was looked upon as chimerical, as the black
swan or the white raven were reputed to be in those days.
Van Baerle was one of the tulip-growers who were
struck with the idea ; Boxtel thought of it in the light
of a speculation. Van Baerle, as soon as the idea had once
taken root in his clear and ingenious mind, began slowly
the necessary sowings and operations to reduce the tulips
which he had grown already from red to brown and from
brown to dark brown.
THE BLACK TULIP. 69
By the next year he had obtained flowers of a per-
fect nut-brown, and Boxtel espied them in the border,
whereas he had himself as yet only succeeded in pro-
ducing the light brown.
Boxtel, once more worsted by the superiority of his
hated rival, was now completely disgusted with tulip-
growing, and being driven half mad, devoted himself
entirely to observation.
The house of his rival was quite open to view a gar-
den exposed to the sun ; cabinets with glass walls, shelves,
cupboards, boxes, and ticketed pigeon-holes, which could
easily be surveyed by the telescope. Boxtel allowed his
bulbs to rot in the pits, his seedlings to dry up in their
cases, and his tulips to wither in the borders, and hence-
forward occupied himself with nothing else but the doings
at Van Baerle's.
But the most curious part of the operations was not
performed in the garden.
It might be one o'clock in the morning when Van
Baerle went up to his laboratory, into the glazed cabinet
whither Boxtel's telescope had such easy access ; and
here, as soon as the lamp illuminated the walls and win-
dows, Boxtel saw the inventive genius of his rival at
He beheld him sifting his seeds and soaking them in
liquids which were destined to modify or to deepen their
colours. He knew what Cornelius meant when, heating
certain grains, then moistening them, then combining
them with others by a sort of grafting a minute and
marvellously delicate manipulation he shut up in dark-
ness those which were expected to furnish the black
colour, exposed to the sun or to the lamp those which
vere to produce red, and placed between the endless
70 THE BLACK TULIP.
reflection of two water-mirrors those intended for white,
the pure representation of the limpid element.
This innocent magic, the fruit at the same time of
childlike musings and of manly genius this patient,
untiring labour, of which Boxtel knew himself to be in-
capable made him, gnawed as he was with envy, centre
all his life, all his thoughts, and all his hopes in his
For, strange to say, the love and interest of horticulture
had not deadened in Isaac his fierce envy and thirst of
revenge. Sometimes, whilst covering Van Baerle with
his telescope, he deluded himself into a belief that he was
levelling a never-failing musket at him, and then he
would seek with his finger for the trigger to fire the shot
which was to have killed his neighbour. But it is time
that we should connect with this epoch of the operations
of the one, and the espionage of the other, the visit which
Cornelius de Witte came to pay to his native town.
THE HAPPY MAN MAKES ACQUAINTANCE WITH
CORNELIUS DE WITTE, after having attended to his family
affairs, reached the house of his godson Cornelius van
Baerle one evening in the month of January 1672.
De Witte, although being. very little of a horticulturist
or of an artist, went over the whole mansion from the
studio to the greenhouse, inspecting everything from the
pictures down to the tulips. He thanked his godson for
having joined him on the deck of the Admiral's ship,
The Seven Provinces, during the battle of Southwold
Bay, and for having given his name to a magnificent
tulip ; and whilst he thus, with the kindness and affa-
bility of a father to a son, visited Van Baerle's treasures,
the crowd gathered with curiosity and even respect before
the door of the happy man.
All this hubbub excited the attention of Boxtel, who
was just taking his meal by his fireside. He inquired
what it meant, and on being informed of the cause of all
the stir, climbed up to his post of observation, where in
spite of the cold he took his stand, with the telescope
to his eye.
This telescope had not been of great service to him
since the autumn of 1671. The tulips, like true daughters
72 THE BLACK TULIP.
of the East, averse to cold, do not abide in the open
ground in winter. They need the shelter of the house,
the soft bed on the shelves, and the congenial warmth
of the stove. Van Baerle, therefore, passed the whole
winter in his laboratory, in the midst of his books and
pictures. He went only rarely to the room where he
kept his bulbs, unless it were to allow some occasional
rays of the sun to enter by opening one of the movable
sashes of the glass front.
On the evening of which we are speaking, after the
two Corneliuses had visited together all the apartments
of the house, whilst a train of domestics followed their
steps, De Witte said in a low voice to Van Baerle,
" My dear son, send these people away, and let us be
alone for some minutes."
The younger Cornelius bowing assent, said aloud,
" Would you now, sir, please to see my dry-
room ? "
The dry-room, this pantheon, this sanctum sanctorum
of the tulip-fancier, was, as Delphi of old, interdicted to
the profane uninitiated.
Never had any of his servants been bold enough to set
his foot there. Cornelius admitted only the inoffensive
broom of an old Frisian housekeeper who had been his
nurse, and who from the time when he had devoted
himself to the culture of tulips ventured no longer to
put onions in his stews, for fear of pulling to pieces and
mincing the idol of her foster-child.
At the mere mention of the dry-room, therefore, the
servants, who were carrying the lights, respectfully fell
back. Cornelius, taking the candlestick from the hands
of the foremost, conducted his godfather into that room,
which was no other than that very cabinet with a glass
THE BLACK TULIP. 73
front into which Boxtel was continually prying with
The envious spy was watching more intently than ever.
First of all he saw the walls and windows lit up.
Then two dark figures approached.
One of them, tall, majestic, stern, sat down near the
table on which Van Baerle had placed the taper.
In this figure Boxtel recognized the pale features ol
Cornelius de Witte, whose long hair, parted in front, fell
over his shoulders.
De Witte, after having said some few words to Cor-
nelius, the meaning of which the prying neighbour could
not read in the movement of his lips, took from his breast-
pocket a white parcel, carefully sealed, which Boxtel,
judging from the manner in which Cornelius received it
and placed it in one of the presses, supposed to contain
papers of the greatest importance.
His first thought was that this precious deposit en-
closed some newly-imported bulbs from Bengal or Cey-
lon ; but he soon reflected that Cornelius de Witte was
very little addicted to tulip- growing, and that he only
occupied himself with the affairs of man, a pursuit by
far less peaceful and agreeable than that of the florist.
He therefore came to the conclusion that the parcel con-
tained simply some papers, and that these papers were
relating to politics.
But why should papers of political import be entrusted
to Van Baerle, who not only was, but also boasted of
being, an entire stranger to the science of government,
which in his opinion was more occult than alchemy
It was undoubtedly a deposit which Cornelius de Witte,
already threatened by the unpopularity with which his
74 THE BLACK TULIP.
countrymen were going to honour him, was placing in
the hands of his godson ; a contrivance so much the
more cleverly devised, as it certainly was not at all likely
that it should be searched for at the house of one who
had always stood aloof from every sort of intrigue.
And besides, if the parcel had been made up of bulbs,
Boxtel knew his neighbour too well not to expect that
Van Baerle would not have lost one moment in satisfy-
ing his curiosity and feasting his eyes on the present
which he had received.
But, on the contrary, Cornelius had received the parcel
from the hands of his godfather with every mark of re-
spect, and put it by with the same respectful manner in
a drawer, stowing it away so that it should not take up
too much of the room which was reserved to his bulbs.
The parcel thus being secreted, Cornelius de Witte got
up, pressed the hand of his godson, and turned towards
the door, Van Baerle seizing the candlestick and lighting
him on his way down to the street, which was still crowded
with people who wished to see their great fellow-citizen
getting into his coach.
Boxtel had not been mistaken in his supposition. The
deposit entrusted to Van Baerle and carefully locked up
by him was nothing more nor less than John de Witte's
correspondence with the Marquis de Louvois, the war
minister of the King of France ; only the godfather for-
bore giving to his godson the least intimation concerning
the political importance of the secret, merely desiring him
not to deliver the parcel to any one but to himself, or to
whomsoever he would send to claim it in his name.
And Van Baerle, as we have seen, locked it up with
his most precious bulbs, to think no more of it after his
godfather had left him ; very unlike Boxtel, who looked
THE BLACK TULIP. 75
upon this parcel as a clever pilot does on the distant and
scarcely perceptible cloud which is increasing on its way,
and which is fraught with a storm.
Little dreaming of the jealous hatred of his neighbour,
Van Baerle had proceeded step by step towards gaming
the prize offered by the Horticultural Society of Haar-
lem. He had progressed from hazel-nut shade to that
of roasted coffee ; and on the very day when the frightful
events took place at the Hague which we have related
in the preceding chapters, we find him .about one o'clock
in the day gathering from the border the young suckers
raised from tulips of the colour of roasted coffee, and
which, being expected to flower for the first time in the
spring of 1675, would undoubtedly produce the large
black tulip required by the Haarlem Society.
On the 2oth of August 1672, at one o'clock, Cornelius
was therefore in his dry-room, with his feet resting on
the foot-bar of the table, and his elbows on the cover,
looking with intense delight on three suckers which he
had just detached from the mother bulb, pure, perfect,
and entire, and from which was to grow that wonderful
produce of horticulture which would render the name of
Cornelius van Baerle for ever illustrious.
" I shall find the black tulip," said Cornelius to him-
self whilst detaching the suckers. "I shall obtain the
hundred thousand guilders offered by the Society. I
shall distribute them among the poor of Dort, and thus
the hatred which every rich man has to encounter in times
of civil wars will be soothed down, and I shall be able,
without fearing any harm either from Republicans or
Orangists, to keep as heretofore my borders in splendid
condition. I need no more be afraid lest on the day of
a riot the shopkeepers of the town and the sailors of the
76 THE BLACK TULIP.
port should come and tear out my bulbs, to boil them as
onions for their families, as they have sometimes quietly
threatened when they happened to remember my having
paid two or three hundred guilders for one bulb. It is
therefore settled I shall give the hundred thousand guilders
of the prize Haarlem to the poor. And yet "
Here Cornelius stopped and heaved a sigh.
" And yet," he continued, " it would have been so
very delightful to spend the hundred thousand guilders
on the enlargement of my tulip-bed, or even on a journey
to the East, the country of beautiful flowers. But, alas 1
these are no thoughts for the present times, when mus-
kets, standards, proclamations, and beating of drums
are the order of the day."
Van Baerle raised his eyes to heaven and sighed again.
Then turning his glance towards his bulbs objects of
much greater importance to him than all those muskets,
standards, drums, and proclamations, which he conceived
only to be fit to disturb the minds of honest people he
" These are indeed beautiful bulbs ; how smooth they
are, how well formed ! There is that air of melancholy
about them which promises to produce a flower of the
colour of ebony. On their skin you cannot even distin-
guish the circulating veins with the naked eye. Cer-
tainly, certainly, not a light spot will disfigure the tulip
which I have called into existence. And by what name
shall we call this offspring of my sleepless nights, of my
labour and my thought ? Tulipa nigra Barlczensis.
" Yes, Barl&ensis ; a fine name. All the tulip-fan-
ciers that is to say all the intelligent people of Europe
will feel a thrill of excitement when the rumour spreads
to the four quarters of the globe : THE GRAND BLACK
THE BLACK TULIP. 77
TULIP is FOUND ! * How is it called ? ' the fanciers will
ask. c Tulipa nigra Barlceensis I ' ' Why Barlceensis ?
' After its grower, Van Baerle,' will be the answer.
' And who is this Van Baerle ? ' ' It is the same who
has already produced five new tulips : the Jane, the John
de Witte, the Cornelius de Witte, etc/ Well, this is what
I call my ambition. It will cause tears to no one. And
people will still talk of my Tulipa nigra Barlaensis when
perhaps my godfather, this sublime politician, is only
known from the tulip to which I have given his
" Oh, these darling bulbs !
" When my tulip has flowered," Baerle continued in
his soliloquy, " and when tranquillity is restored in Hol-
land, I shall give to the poor only fifty thousand guilders,
which after all is a goodly sum for a man who is under
no obligation whatever. Then with the remaining fifty
thousand guilders I shall make experiments. With
them I shall succeed in imparting scent to the tulip.
Ah, if I succeeded in giving it the odour of the rose or
the carnation, or, what would be still better, a completely
new scent ; if I restored to this queen of flowers its natural
distinctive perfume, which she has lost in passing from
her Eastern to her European throne, and which she must
have in the Indian Peninsula at Goa, Bombay, and Madras,
and especially in that island which in olden times, as is
asserted, was the terrestrial paradise, and which is called
Ceylon oh, what glory ! I must say, I would then rather
be Cornelius van Baerle than Alexander, Caesar, or Maxi-
" Oh, the admirable bulbs ! "
Thus Cornelius indulged in the delights of contempla-
tion, and was carried away by the sweetest dreams.
78 THE BLACK TULIP.
Suddenly the bell of his cabinet was rung much more
violently than usual.
Cornelius, startled, laid his hands on his bulbs, and
" Who is here ? " he asked.
" Sir," answered the servant, "it is a messenger from
" A messenger from the Hague ! What does he want ? "
" Sir, it is Craeke."
" Craeke ! the confidential servant of Mynheer John
de Witte ? Good, let him wait."
" I cannot wait," said a voice in the lobby.
And at the same time forcing his way in, Craeke rushed
into the dry-room.
This abrupt entrance was such an infringement on the
established rules of the household of Cornelius van Baerle
that the latter, at the sight of Craeke, almost convulsively
moved his hand which covered the bulbs, so that two of
them fell on the floor, one of them rolling under a small
table and the other into the fireplace.
" Zounds ! " said Cornelius, eagerly picking up his
precious bulbs, " what's the matter ? "
" The matter, sir ! " said Craeke, laying a paper on
the large table on which the third bulb was lying " the
matter is that you are requested to read this paper with-
out losing one moment."
And Craeke, who thought he had remarked in the
streets of Dort symptoms of a tumult similar to that
which he had witnessed before his departure from the
Hague, ran off without even looking behind him.
" All right, all right, my dear Craeke," said Cornelius,
stretching his arm under the table for the bulb ; " your
paper shall be read indeed it shall."
THE BLACK TULIP. 79
Then, examining the bulb which he held in the hollow
of his hand, he said, " Well, here is one of them unin-
jured. That confounded Craeke ! thus to rush into my
dry-room. Let us now look after the other."
And without laying down the bulb which he already
held, Baerle went to the fireplace, knelt down, and
stirred with the tip of his finger the ashes, which for-
tunately were quite cold.
He at once felt the other bulb.
" Well, here it is," he said. And looking at it with
almost fatherly affection, he exclaimed, " Uninjured, as
the first ! "
At this very instant, and whilst Cornelius, still on his
knees, was examining his pets, the door of the dry-room
was so violently shaken, and opened in such a brusque
manner, that Cornelius felt rising in his cheeks and his
ears the glow of that evil counsellor which is called wrath.
" Now what is it again ? " he demanded. " Are people
going mad here ? "
" O sir, sir ! " cried the servant, rushing into the dry-
room with a much paler face and with much more fright-
ened mien than Craeke had shown.
"Well," asked Cornelius, foreboding some mischief
from this double breach of the strict rule of his house.
" Oh, sir, fly ! fly, quick ! " cried the servant.
" Fly ! and what for ? "
" Sir, the house is full of the guards of the States."
" What do they want ? "
" They want you."
" What for ? "
" To arrest you."
" Arrest me ? Arrest me, do you say ? "
" Yes, sir, and they are headed by a magistrate."
8o THE BLACK TULIP.
" What's the meaning of all this ? " said Van Baerle,
grasping in his hands the two bulbs, and directing his
terrified glance towards the staircase.
" They are coming up ! they are coming up ! " cried the
" O my dear child, my worthy master ! " cried the old
housekeeper, who now likewise made her appearance in the
dry-room, " take your gold, your jewellery, and fly, fly ! "
" But how shall I make my escape, nurse ? " said Van
" Jump out of the window."
" Twenty-five feet from the ground ! "
" But you will fall on six feet of soft soil."
" Yes, but I should fall on my tulips."
" Never mind ; jump out."
Cornelius took the third bulb, approached the window
and opened it, but seeing what havoc he would neces-
sarily cause in his borders, and more than this what a
height he would have to jump, he called out, " Never ! "
and fell back a step.
In this moment they saw across the banister of the
staircase the points of the halberds of the soldiers rising.
The housekeeper raised her hands to heaven.
As to Cornelius van Baerle, it must be stated to his
honour, not as a man but as a tulip-fancier, his only
thought was for his inestimable bulbs.
Looking about for a paper in which to wrap them &p,
he noticed the fly-leaf from the Bible which Craeke had
laid upon the table, took it without in his confusion
remembering whence it came, folded in it the three bulbs,
secreted them in his bosom, and waited.
At this very moment the soldiers, preceded by a magis-
trate, entered the room.
THE BLACK TULIP. 81
" Are you Doctor Cornelius van Baerle ? " demanded
the magistrate, who, although knowing the young man
very well, put his questions according to the forms of
justice, which gave his proceedings a much more digni-
" I am that person, Master van Spennen," answered
Cornelius, politely bowing to his judge, " and you know
it very well."
" Then give up to us the seditious papers which you
secrete in your house."
" The seditious papers ! " repeated Cornelius, quite
dumbfounded at the imputation.
" Now don't look astonished, if you please."
" I vow to you, Master van Spennen," Cornelius re-
plied, " that I am completely at a loss to understand
what you want."
" Then I shall put you in the way, Doctor," said the
judge. "Give up to us the paper which the traitor
Cornelius de Witte deposited with you in the month
of January last."
A sudden light came into the mind of Cornelius.
" Halloa ! " said Van Spennen, " you begin now to
remember, don't you ? "
" Indeed I do ; but you spoke of seditious papers, and
I have none of that sort."
" You deny it then ? "
" Certainly I do."
The magistrate turned round and took a rapid survey
of the whole cabinet.
" Where is the apartment you call your dry-room ? "
" The very same where you now are, Master van
82 THE BLACK TULIP.
The magistrate cast a glance at a small note at the
top of his papers.
" All right," he said, like a man who is sure of his
Then, turning round towards Cornelius, he continued,
" Will you give up those papers to me ? "
" But I cannot, Master van Spennen. Those papers
do not belong to me ; they have been deposited with me
as a trust, and a trust is sacred."
" Doctor Cornelius," said the judge, " in the name of
the States I order you to open this drawer, and to give
up to me the papers which it contains."
Saying this, the judge pointed with his finger to the
third drawer of the press, near the fireplace.
In this very drawer, indeed, the papers deposited by
the Warden of the Dykes with his godson were lying ; a
proof that the police had received very exact information.
" Ah, you will not," said Van Spennen, when he saw
Cornelius standing immovable and bewildered ; " then
I shall open the drawer myself."
And, pulling out the drawer to its full length, the
magistrate at first alighted on about twenty bulbs care-
fully arranged and ticketed, and then on the paper parcel,
which had remained in exactly the same state as it was
when delivered by the unfortunate Cornelius de Witte
to his godson.
The magistrate broke the seals, tore off the envelope,
cast an eager glance on the first leaves which met his
eye, and then exclaimed with a terrible voice,
" Well, justice has been rightly informed after all ! "
" How," said Cornelius, " how is this ? "
" Don't pretend to be ignorant, Mynheer van Baerle,"
answered the magistrate ; " follow me."
THE BLACK TULIP. 83
" How's that ; follow you ? " cried the Doctor.
" Yes, sir, for in the name of the States I arrest you."
Arrests were not as yet made in the name of William
of Orange ; he had not been Stadtholder long enough
" Arrest me ? " cried Cornelius. " But what have I
done ? "
" That's no affair of mine, Doctor ; you will explain
all that before your judges."
" Where ? "
" At the Hague."
Cornelius, in mute stupefaction, embraced his old
nurse, who was in a swoon ; shook hands with his serv-
ants, who were bathed in tears ; and followed the
magistrate, who put him in a coach as a prisoner of State,
and had him driven at full gallop to the Hague.
THE FAMILY CELL.
THE incident just related was, as the reader has guessed
before this, the mischievous work of Mynheer Isaac
It will be remembered that, with the help of his tele-
scope, not even the least detail of the private meeting
between Cornelius de Witte and Van Baerle had escaped
him. He had, indeed, heard nothing ; but he had seen
everything, and had rightly concluded that the papers
entrusted by the Warden to the Doctor must have been
of great importance, as he saw Van Baerle so carefully
secreting the parcel in the drawer where he used to keep
his most precious bulbs.
The upshot of all this was, that when Boxtel who
watched the course of political events much more atten-
tively than his neighbour Cornelius was used to do
heard the news of the brothers De Witte being arrested
on a charge of high treason against the States, he thought
within his heart that very likely he, Boxtel, needed only
to say one word, and the godson would be arrested as well
t as the godfather.
* Yet, full of hatred as was Boxtel's heart, he at first
shrank with horror from the idea of informing against
a man whom this information might lead to the scaffold.
THE BLACK TULIP. 85
But there is this terrible in evil thoughts, that evil
minds grow soon familiar with them. ****
Besides this, Mynheer Isaac Boxtel encouraged him-
self with the following sophism,
" Cornelius de Witte is a bad citizen, as he is charged
with high treason and arrested.
" I, on the contrary, am a good citizen, as I am not
charged with anything in the world, and as I am as free
as the air of heaven.
" If, therefore, Cornelius de Witte is a bad citizen
of which there can be no doubt, as he is charged with
high treason and arrested his accomplice, Cornelius
van Baerle, is no less a bad citizen than himself.
" And as I am a good citizen, and as it is the duty of
every good citizen to inform against the bad ones, it is
my duty to inform against Cornelius van Baerle. "
Specious as this mode of reasoning might sound, it
would not perhaps have taken so complete a hold of
Boxtel, nor would he perhaps have yielded to the mere
desire of vengeance which was gnawing at his heart, had
not the demon of envy been joined by that of cupidity.
Boxtel was quite aware of the progress which Van
Baerle had made towards producing the grand black
Doctor Cornelius, notwithstanding all his modesty,
had not been able to hide from his most intimate friends
that he was all but certain to win, in the year of grace
1673, the prize of a hundred thousand guilders offered
by the Horticultural Society of Haarlem.
Just this certainty of Cornelius van Baerle caused the
fever which raged in the heart of Isaac Boxtel.
If Cornelius should be arrested there would neces-
sarily be a great upset in his house, and during the night
86 THE BLACK TULIP.
after his arrest no one would think of keeping watch
over the tulips in his garden.
Now, in that night Boxtel would climb over the wall,
and as he knew the place of the bulb which was to pro-
duce the grand black tulip, he would nlch it ; and instead
of flowering for Cornelius, it would flower for him, Isaac.
He also, instead of Van Baerle, would have the prize of a
hundred thousand guilders, not to speak of the sublime
honour of calling the new flower Tidipa mgra Boxtettensis
a result which would satisfy not only his vengeance,
but also his cupidity and his ambition.
Awake, he thought of nothing but the grand black
tulip ; asleep, he dreamed of it.
At last, on the igth of August, about two o'clock in
the afternoon, the temptation grew so strong that
Mynheer Isaac was no longer able to resist it.
Accordingly he wrote an anonymous information, the
minute exactness of which made up for its want of authen-
ticity, and posted his letter.
Never did a venomous paper slipped into the jaws of
the bronze lions at Venice produce a more prompt and
On the same evening the letter reached the principal
magistrate, who without a moment's delay convoked
his colleagues early for the next morning. On the fol-
lowing morning, therefore, they assembled, and decided
on Van Baerle's arrest, placing the order for its execu-
tion in the hands of Master van Spennen. who. as \vo
have seen, performed his duty like a true Hollander,
and who arrested the Doctor at the very hour when the
Orange party at the Hague were roasting the bleeding
shreds of flesh torn from the corpses of Cornelius and
John de Witte.
THE BLACK TULIP. 87
But, whether from a feeling of shame or from craven
weakness, Isaac Boxtel did not venture that day to point
his telescope either at the garden or at the laboratory or
at the dry-room.
He knew too well what was about to happen in the
house of the poor Doctor, as that he should have felt a
desire to look into it. He did not even get up when his
only servant who envied the lot of the servants of Cor-
nelius just as bitterly as Boxtel did that of their master
entered his bedroom. He said to the man,
" I shall not get up to-day ; I am ill."
About nine o'clock he heard a great noise in the street,
which made him tremble ; at this moment he was paler
than a real invalid, and shook more violently than a man
* in the height of fever.
His servant entered the room ; Boxtel hid himself
under the counterpane.
" sir ! " cried the servant, not without some ink-
ling that, whilst deploring the mishap which had befallen
Van Baerle, he was announcing agreeable news to his
master " O sir ! you do not know, then, what is hap-
pening at this moment ? "
" How can I know it ? " answered Boxtel with an al-
most unintelligible voice.
" Well, Mynheer Boxtel, at this moment your neigh-
bour Cornelius van Baerle is arrested for high treason."
" Nonsense ! " Boxtel muttered with a faltering voice ;
" the thing is impossible."
" Faith, sir, at any rate that's what people say ; and
besides I have seen Judge van Spennen with the archers
entering the house."
" Well, if you have seen it with your own eyes, that's
a different case altogether."
88 THE BLACK TULIP.
" At all events," said the servant, " I shall go and in-
quire once more. Be you quiet, sir ; I shall let you know
all about it"
Boxtel contented himself with signifying his approval
of the zeal of his servant by dumb show.
The man went out, and returned in half an hour.
" O sir, all that I told you is indeed quite true."
" How so ? "
" Mynheer van Baerle is arrested, and has been put
into a carriage, and they are driving him to the Hague."
" To the Hague ? "
" Yes, to the Hague ; and if what people say is true,
it won't do him much good."
" And what do they say ? " Boxtel asked.
" Faith, sir, they say but it is not quite sure that
by this hour the burghers must be murdering Mynheer
Cornelius and Mynheer John de Witte."
" Oh ! " muttered, or rather growled, Boxtel, closing
his eyes from the dreadful picture which presented itself
to his imagination.
" Why, to be sure," said the servant to himself whilst
leaving the room, " Mynheer Isaac Boxtel must be very
sick not to have jumped from his bed on hearing such
And in reality Isaac Boxtel was very sick, like a man
who has murdered another.
But he had murdered his man with a double object ;
the first was attained, the second was still to be attained.
Night closed in. It was the night which Boxtel had
looked forward to.
As soon as it was dark he got up.
He then climbed into his sycamore.
He had correctly calculated : no one thought of keep-
THE BLACK TULIP. 89
ing watch over the garden ; the house and the servants
were all in the utmost confusion.
He heard the clock strike ten, eleven, twelve.
At midnight, with a beating heart, trembling hands,
and a livid countenance, he descended from the tree,
took a ladder, leaned it against the wall, mounted it to
the last step but one, and listened.
All was perfectly quiet, not a sound broke the silence
of the night ; one solitary light, that of the housekeeper,
was burning in the house.
This silence and this darkness emboldened Boxtel ;
he got astride on the wall, stopped for an instant, and
after having ascertained that there was nothing to fear,
he put his ladder from his own garden into that of Cor-
nelius, and descended.
After this, knowing to an inch where the bulbs which
were to produce the black tulip were planted, he ran
towards the spot, following, however, the crisp gravelled
walks in order not to be betrayed by his footprints, and
on arriving at the precise spot he rushed, with the eager-
ness of a tiger, to plunge his hand into the soft ground.
He found nothing, and thought he was mistaken.
In the meanwhile the cold sweat stood on his brow.
He rummaged close by it nothing.
He rummaged on the right and on the left nothing.
He rummaged in front and at the back nothing.
He was nearly mad when at last he satisfied himself
that on that very morning the earth had been turned.
In fact, whilst Boxtel was lying in bed, Cornelius
had gone down to his garden, had taken up the mother-
bulb, and, as we have seen, divided it into three.
Boxtel could not bring himself to leave the place. He
dug with his hands more than ten square feet of ground.
go THE BLACK TULIP.
At last no doubt remained of his misfortune.
Mad with rage he returned to his ladder, mounted the
wall, drew up the ladder, flung it into his own garden,
and jumped after it.
All at once a last ray of hope presented itself to his
mind the seedling bulbs might be in the dry-room ;
it was therefore only requisite to make his entry there
as he had done into the garden.
There he would find them ; and moreover it was
not at all difficult, as the sashes of the dry-room might
be raised like those of a greenhouse. Cornelius had
opened them on that morning, and no one had thought
of closing them again.
Everything therefore depended upon whether he could
procure a ladder of sufficient length one of twenty-five
feet instead of ten.
Boxtel had noticed in the street where he lived a house
which was being repaired, and against which a very tall
ladder was placed.
This ladder would do admirably, unless the workmen
had taken it away.
He ran to the house ; the ladder was there. Boxtel
took it, carried it with great exertion to his garden, and
with even greater difficulty raised it against the wall
of Van Baerle's house, where it just reached to the
Boxtel put a lighted dark lantern into his pocket,
mounted the ladder, and slipped into the dry-room.
On reaching this sanctuary of the florist he stopped,
supporting himself against the table ; his legs failed
him, his heart beat as if it would choke him. Here it
was even worse than in the garden there Boxtel was
only a trespasser, here he was a thief.
THE BLACK TULIP. 91
However, he took courage again ; he had not gone so
far to turn back with empty hands.
But it was of no use to search the whole room, to open
and shut all the drawers, even that privileged one where
the parcel which had been so fatal to Cornelius had been
deposited. He found ticketed, as in a botanical garden,
the " Jane/' the " John de Witte," the hazel-nut, and
the roasted coffee-coloured tulip ; but of the black tulip,
or rather of the seedling bulbs within which it was still
sleeping, not a trace was to be found.
And yet, on looking over the register of seeds and
bulbs, which Van Baerle kept, if possible, even with
greater exactitude and care than the first commercial
houses of Amsterdam their ledgers, Boxtel read the fol-
lowing entry :
" To-day, 2oth of August 1672, I have taken up the
mother- bulb of the grand black tulip, which I have divided
into three perfect suckers."
" Oh, these suckers, these suckers ! " howled Boxtel,
turning over everything in the dry-room. " Where could
he have concealed them ? "
Then suddenly striking his forehead in his frenzy, he
called out, " Oh, wretch that I am ! Would any one be
separated from his suckers ? Would one leave them
at Dort when one goes to the Hague ? Could one live
far from one's bulbs when they enclose the grand black
tulip ? He had time to get hold of them, the scoundrel ;
he has them about him; he has taken them to the
It was like a flash of lightning which showed to Boxtel
the abyss of a uselessly-committed crime.
Boxtel sank quite paralyzed on that very table, and
on that very spot where, some hours before, the unfor-
92 THE BLACK TULIP.
tunate Van Baerle had so leisurely and with such intense
delight contemplated his darling bulbs.
" Well, then, after all," said the envious Boxtel, raising
his livid face from his hands in which it had been buried,
" if he has them, he can keep them only as long as he lives,
The rest of this detestable thought merged in a hideous
" The suckers are at the Hague," he said, " therefore
I can no longer live at Dort. Away, then, for them to
the Hague ! to the Hague ! "
And Boxtel, without taking any notice of the treasures
about him so entirely were his thoughts absorbed by
another inestimable treasure let himself out by the
window, glided down the ladder, carried it back to the
place whence he had taken it, and, like a beast of prey,
returned growling to his house.
THE FAMILY CELL,
IT was about midnight when poor Van Baerle was
locked up in the prison of the Buitenhof.
What Rosa foresaw had come to pass. On finding
. the cell of Cornelius de Witte empty, the wrath of the
people ran very high ; and had Gryphus fallen into the
hands of those madmen, he would certainly have had to
pay with his life for the prisoner.
But this fury had vented itself most amply on the two
brothers when they were overtaken by the murderers,
thanks to the precaution which William the man of
precautions had taken in having the gates of the city
A momentary lull had therefore set in whilst the prison
war. empty, and Rosa availed herself of this favourable
moment to come forth from her hiding-place, which she
also induced her father to leave.
The prison was therefore completely deserted. Why
should people remain in the jail whilst murder was going
on at the Tol-Hek ?
Gryphus came forth trembling behind the courageous
Rosa. They went to close the great gate at least as well
as it would close, considering that it was half demolished
94 THE BLACK TULIP.
It was easy to see that a hurricane of mighty fury had
About four o'clock a return of the noise was heard,
but of no threatening character to Gryphus and his
daughter. The people were only dragging in the two
corpses, which they came back to gibbet at the usual
place of execution.
Rosa hid herself this time also, but only that she might
not see the ghastly spectacle.
At midnight people again knocked at the gate of the
jail, or rather at the barricade which served in its
stead. It was Cornelius van Baerle whom they were
When the jailer received this new inmate, and saw
from the warrant the name and station of his prisoner,
he muttered with his turnkey smile,
" Godson of Cornelius de Witte ! Well, young man,
we have just here the family cell and we shall give it to
And quite enchanted with his joke, the ferocious
Orangeman took his cresset and his keys to conduct
Cornelius to the cell which, on that very morning,
Cornelius de Witte had left to go into exile, or what, in
revolutionary times, is meant instead by those sublime
philosophers who lay it down as an axiom of high
policy " It is the dead only who do not return."
On the way which the despairing florist had to traverse
to reach that cell, he heard nothing but the barking of a
dog, and saw nothing but the face of a young girl.
The dog rushed forth from a niche in the wall, shaking
his heavy chain, and sniffing all round Cornelius, in order
so much the better to recognize him in case he should
be ordered to pounce upon him.
THE BLACK TULIP. 95
The young girl, whilst the prisoner was mounting the
staircase, appeared at the narrow door of her chamber,
which opened on that very flight of steps ; and, holding
the lamp in her right hand, she at the same time lit up
her pretty blooming face, surrounded by a profusion of
rich wa?y golden locks, whilst with her left she held her
white nightdress closely over her breast, having been
roused from her first slumber by the unexpected arrival
of Van Baerle.
It would have made a fine picture, worthy of Rem-
brandt the gloomy winding stairs illuminated by the
reddish glare of the cresset of Gryphus, with his scowling
jailer's countenance at the top; the melancholy figure
of Cornelius bending over the banister, to look down upon
the sweet face of Rosa, standing as it were in the bright
frame of the door of her chamber, with flurried mien at
being thus seen by a stranger.
And at the bottom, quite in the shade, where the
details are absorbed in the obscurity, the mastiff, with
his eyes glistening like carbuncles, and shaking his chain,
on which the double light from the lamp of Rosa and
cresset of Gryphus threw a brilliant glitter.
The sublime master would, however, have been alto-
gether unable to render the sorrow expressed in the face
of Rosa when she saw this pale, handsome young man
slowly climbing the stairs, and thought of the full import
of the words which her father had just spoken " You
will have the family cell." This vision lasted but a mo-
ment much less time than we have taken to describe
it. Gryphus then proceeded on his way ; Cornelius was
forced to follow him, and five minutes after he entered
his prison, of which it is unnecessary to say more, as the
reader is already acquainted with it.
96 THE BLACK TULIP.
Gryphus pointed with his finger to the bed on which
the martyr had suffered so much, who on that day had
rendered his soul to God. Then, taking up his cresset,
he quitted the cell.
Thus left alone, Cornelius threw himself on his bed,
but he slept not ; he kept his eye fixed on the narrow
window, barred with iron, which looked on the Buiten-
hof, and in this way saw from behind the trees that
first pale beam of light which morning sheds on the earth
as a white mantle.
Now and then during the night horses had galloped
at a smart pace over the Buitenhof ; the heavy tramp
of the patrols had resounded from the pavement ; and
the slow matches of the arquebuses, flaring in the east
wind, had thrown up at intervals a sudden glare as far
as to the panes of his window.
But when the rising sun began to gild the coping-stones
at the gable ends of the houses, Cornelius, eager to know
whether there was any living creature about him, ap-
proached the window and cast a sad look round the
circular yard before him.
At the end of the yard a dark mass, tinted with a
dingy blue by the morning dawn, rose before him, its
dark outlines standing out in contrast to the houses
already illuminated by the pale light of early morning.
Cornelius recognized the gibbet.
On it were suspended two shapeless trunks, which
indeed were no more than bleeding skeletons.
The good people of the Hague had chopped off the
flesh of its victims, but faithfully carried the remainder
to the gibbet, to have a pretext for a double inscription,
written on a huge placard, on which Cornelius, with the
keen sight of a young man of twenty-eight, was able to
THE BLACK TULIP. 97
read the following lines, daubed by the coarse brush of
" Here are hanging the great rogue of the name of
John de Witte, and the little rogue Cornelius de Witte,
his brother, two enemies of the people, but great friends
of the King of France."
Cornelius uttered a cry of horror, and in the agony of
his frantic terror knocked with his hands and feet at his
door so violently and continuously that Gryphus, with
his huge bunch of keys in his hand, ran furiously up to
The jailer opened the door with terrible imprecations
against the prisoner, who disturbed him at an hour at
which Master Gryphus was not accustomed to be aroused.
" Well, now, I declare he is mad, this new De Witte,"
he cried ; " but all those De Wittes have the devil in
" Master, master," cried Cornelius, seizing the jailer
by the arm and dragging him towards the window
" master, what have I read down there ? "
" Where, down there ? "
" On that placard."
And trembling, pale, and gasping for breath, he pointed
to the gibbet at the other side of the yard with the cynic
inscription surmounting it.
Gryphus broke out in a laugh.
" Eh ! eh ! " he answered ; " so you have read it.
Well, my good sir, that's what people will get for cor-
responding with the enemies of his Highness the Prince
" The brothers De Witte are murdered ! " Cornelius
muttered, with the cold sweat on his brow, and sank on
his bed, his arms hanging by his side and his eyes closed.
98 THE BLACK TULIP.
"The brothers De Witte have been judged by the
people/' said Gryphus ; " you call that murdered, do
you ? Well, I caU it executed."
And seeing that the prisoner was not only quiet but
entirely prostrate and senseless, he rushed from the cell,
violently slamming the door and noisily drawing the
Recovering his consciousness, Cornelius found himself
alone, and recognized the room where he was " the
family cell," as Gryphus had called it as the fatal pas-
sage leading to ignominious death.
And as he was a philosopher, and more than that, as
he was a Christian, he began to pray for the soul of his
godfather, then for that of the Grand Pensionary, and
at last submitted with resignation to all the sufferings
which God might ordain for him.
Then turning again to the concerns of earth, and hav-
ing satisfied himself that he was alone in his dungeon,
he drew from his breast the three bulbs of the black tulip,
and concealed them behind a block of stone on which
the traditional water- jug of the prison was standing, in
the darkest corner of his cell.
Useless labour of so many years ! Such sweet hopes
crushed ! His discovery was, after all, to lead to naught,
just as his own career was to be cut short. Here in his
prison there was not a trace of vegetation, not an atom
of soil, not a ray of sunshine.
At this thought Cornelius fell into a gloomy despair,
from which he was only roused by an extraordinary cir-
What was this circumstance ?
We shall inform the reader in the next chapter.
THE JAILER'S DAUGHTER.
ON the same evening Gryphus, as he brought the pris-
oner his mess, slipped on the damp flags whilst opening
the door of the cell, and fell in the attempt to steady
himself on his hand, but as it was turned the wrong
way he broke his arm just above the wrist.
Cornelius rushed forward towards the jailer, but
Gryphus, who was not yet aware of the serious nature
of his injury, called out to him,
" It is nothing ; don't you stir."
He then tried to support himself on his arm, but the
bone gave way ; then only he felt the pain, and uttered
When he became aware that his arm was broken, this
man, so harsh to others, fell swooning on the threshold,
where he remained motionless and cold as if dead.
During all this time the door of the cell stood open,
and Cornelius found himself almost free. But the
thought never entered his mind of profiting by this
accident ; he had seen from the manner in which the
arm was bent, and from the noise it made in bending,
that the bone was fractured, and that the patient must
be in great pain ; and now he thought of nothing else
but of administering relief to the sufferer, however
ioo THE BLACK TULIP.
little benevolent the man had shown himself during
their short interview.
At the noise of Gryphus's fall, and at the cry which
escaped him, a hasty step was heard on the staircase,
and immediately after a lovely apparition presented
itself to the eyes of Cornelius.
It was the beautiful young Frisian, who, seeing her
father stretched on the ground and the prisoner bending
over him, uttered a faint cry, as in the first fright she
thought Gryphus, whose brutality she well knew, had
fallen in consequence of a struggle between him and
Cornelius understood what was passing in the mind
of the girl at the very moment when the suspicion arose
in her heart.
But one moment told her the true state of the case,
and ashamed of her first thoughts she cast her beauti-
ful eyes, wet with tears, on the young man, and said to
" I beg your pardon, and thank you, sir ; the first for
what I have thought, and the second for what you are
Cornelius blushed, and said, " I am but doing my duty
as a Christian in helping my neighbour."
" Yes, and affording him your help this evening, you
have forgotten the abuse which he heaped on you this
morning. O sir ! this is more than humanity this is
indeed Christian charity."
Cornelius cast his eyes on the beautiful girl, quite
astonished to hear from the mouth of one so humble
such a noble and feeling speech.
But he had no time to express his surprise. Gryphus
recovered from his swoon, opened his eyes, and as his
THE BLACK TULIP. 101
brutality was returning with his senses, he growled,
" That's it : a fellow is in a hurry to bring to a prisoner
his supper, and falls and breaks his arm, and is left
lying on the ground."
" Hush, my father," said Rosa ; " you are unjust to
this gentleman, whom I found endeavouring to give you
" His aid ? " Gryphus replied with a doubtful air.
"It is quite true, master ; I am quite ready to help
you still more."
" You ! " said Gryphus. " Are you a medical man ? "
" It was formerly my profession."
" And so you would be able to set my arm ? "
" And what would you need to do it ? let us hear."
" Two splinters of wood, and some linen for a ban-
" Do you hear, Rosa ? " said Gryphus. " The prisoner
is going to set my arm ; that's a saving. Come, assist
me to get up ; I feel as heavy as lead."
Rosa lent the sufferer her shoulder ; he put his un-
hurt arm round her neck, and making an effort, got on
his legs; while Cornelius, to save him a walk, pushed a
chair towards him.
Gryphus sat down ; then turning towards his daughter,
" Well, didn't you hear ? go and fetch what is wanted."
Rosa went down, and immediately after returned with
two staves of a small barrel and a large roll of linen
Cornelius had made use of the intervening moments to
take off the man's coat and to tuck up his shirt sleeve.
" Is this what you require, sir ? " asked Rosa.
102 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Yes, miss," answered Cornelius, looking at the
things which she had brought ; " yes, that's right.
Now push this table whilst I support the arm of
Rosa pushed the table; Cornelius placed the broken arm
on it, so as to make it flat, and with perfect skill set the
bone, adjusted the splinters, and fastened the bandages.
At the last touch the jailer fainted a second time.
" Go and fetch vinegar, miss," said Cornelius ; "we
will bathe his temples, and he will recover."
But instead of acting up to the doctor's prescription,
Rosa, after having assured herself that her father was
still unconscious, approached Cornelius, and said,
" Service for service, sir."
" What do you mean, my dear ? " said Cornelius.
" I mean to say, sir, that the judge who is to examine
you to-morrow has inquired to-day for the room in
which you are confined, and on being told that you
were occupying the cell of Mynheer Cornelius de Witte,
laughed in a very strange and disagreeable manner,
which makes me fear that no good awaits you."
" But," asked Cornelius, " what harm can they do
to me ? "
" Look at that gibbet ! "
" But I am not guilty," said Cornelius.
" Were they guilty whom you see down there, gib-
beted, mangled, and torn to pieces ? "
" That's true," said Cornelius gravely.
" And besides," continued Rosa, " the people want to
find you guilty. But whether innocent or guilty your
trial begins to-morrow, and the day after you will be
condemned. Matters are settled very quickly in these
THE BLACK TULIP. 103
" Well, and what do you conclude from all this ? "
" I conclude that I am alone, that I am weak, that
my father is lying in a swoon, that the dog is muzzled,
and that consequently there is nothing to prevent
your making your escape. Fly, then ; that's what I
" What do you say ? "
" I say that I was not able to save Mynheer Cornelius
or Mynheer John de Witte, and that I should like to
save you. Only be quick ; there, my father is regaining
his breath. One minute more, and he will open his eyes,
and it will be too late. Do you hesitate ? "
In fact Cornelius stood immovable, looking at Rosa,
yet looking at her as if he did not hear her.
" Don't you understand me ? " said the young girl
with some impatience.
" Yes, I do," said Cornelius, " but "
" But ? "
" I will not ; they would accuse you."
" Never mind," said Rosa, blushing " never mind
" You are very good, my dear child," replied Cornelius ;
" but I stay."
" You stay ! O sir, sir, don't you understand
that you will be condemned to death, executed on the
scaffold perhaps assassinated and torn to pieces, just
like Mynheer John and Mynheer Cornelius ? For
heaven's sake don't think of me, but fly from this
place. Take care ; it bears ill luck to the De Wittes ! "
" Halloa ! " cried the jailer, recovering his senses ;
" who is talking of those rogues, those wretches, those
villains the De Wittes ? "
" Don't be angry, my good man," said Cornelius with
104 THE BLACK TULIP.
his good-tempered smile ; " the worst thing for a fr
is excitement, by which the blood is heated."
Thereupon he said in an undertone to Rosa, " My
child, I am innocent, and I shall await my trial with
tranquillity and an easy mind."
" Hush," said Rosa.
" Why hush ? "
" My father must not suppose that we have been talk-
ing to each other."
" What harm would that do ? "
" What harm ? He would never allow me to come
here any more," said Rosa.
Cornelius received this innocent confidence with a
smile ; he felt as if a ray of good fortune was shining
on his path.
" Now then, what are you chattering there together
about ? " said Gryphus, rising and supporting his right
arm with his left.
" Nothing," said Rosa ; " the doctor is explaining to
me what diet you are to keep."
" Diet diet for me ? Well, my fine girl, I shall put
you on diet too."
" On what diet, my father ? "
" Never to go to the cells of the prisoners, and if ever
you should happen to go, to leave them as soon as pos-
sible. Come, off with me, lead the way, and be quick."
Rosa and Cornelius exchanged glances.
That of Rosa tried to express,
" There, you see ? "
That of Cornelius said,
" Let it be as the Lord will."
CORNELIUS VAN BAERLE's WILL.
ROSA had not been mistaken. The judges came on the
following day to the Buitenhof, and proceeded with the
trial of Cornelius van Baerle. The examination, how-
ever, did not last long, it having appeared on evidence
that Cornelius had kept at his house that fatal corre-
spondence of the brothers De Witte with France.
He did not deny it.
The only point about which there seemed any diffi-
culty was whether this correspondence had been en-
trusted to him by his godfather Cornelius de Witte.
But as, since the death of those two martyrs, Van
Baerle had no longer any reason for withholding the
truth, he not only did not deny that the parcel had been
delivered to him by Cornelius de Witte himself, but he
also stated all the circumstances under which it was done.
This confession involved the godson in the crime of
the godfather manifest complicity being considered to
exist between Cornelius de Witte and Cornelius van
The honest Doctor did not confine himself to this
avowal,, but told the whole truth with regard to his own
tastes, habits, and daily life. He described his indiffer-
ence to politics, his love of study, of the fine arts, of science,
106 THE BLACK TULIP.
and of flowers. He explained that, since the day when
Cornelius de Witte handed to him the parcel at Dort,
he himself had never touched nor even noticed it.
To this it was objected that in this respect he could
not possibly be speaking the truth, since the papers had
been deposited in a press in which both his hands and
his eyes must have been engaged every day.
Cornelius answered that it was indeed so ; that, how-
ever, he never put his hand into the press but to ascer-
tain whether his bulbs were dry, and that he never looked
into it but to see if they were beginning to sprout.
To this again it was objected that his pretended in-
difference respecting this deposit was not to be reason-
ably entertained, as he could not have received such
papers from the hand of his godfather without being
made acquainted with their important character.
He replied that his godfather Cornelius loved him too
well, and above all that he was too considerate a man,
to have communicated to him anything of the contents
of the parcel, well knowing that such a confidence would
only have caused anxiety to him who received it.
To this it was objected that if De Witte had wished
to act in such a way he would have added to the parcel,
in case of accidents, a certificate setting forth that his
godson was an entire stranger to the nature of this cor-
respondence ; or at least he would, during his trial, have
written a letter to him which might be produced as his
Cornelius replied that undoubtedly his godfather could
not have thought that there was any risk for the safety
of his deposit, hidden as it was in a press which was
looked upon as sacred as the tabernacle by the whole
household of Van Baeiie ; and that consequently he had
THE BLACK TULIP. 107
considered the certificate as useless. As to a letter, he
certainly had some remembrance that some moments
previous to his arrest, whilst he was absorbed in the con-
templation of one of the rarest of his bulbs, John de
Witte's servant entered his dry-room, and handed to him
a paper. But the whole was to him only like a vague
dream. The servant had disappeared; and as to the paper,
perhaps it might be found if a proper search were made.
As far as Craeke was concerned, it was impossible to
find him, as he had left Holland.
The paper also was not very likely to be found, and
no one gave himself the trouble to look for it.
Cornelius himself did not much press this point, since,
even supposing that the paper should turn up, it could
not have any direct connection with the correspondence
which constituted the crime.
The judges wished to make it appear as though they
wanted to urge Cornelius to make a better defence ; they
displayed that benevolent patience which is generally a
sign of the magistrates being interested for the prisoner,
or of a man's having so completely got the better of his
adversary that he needs no longer any oppressive means
to ruin him.
Cornelius did not accept of this hypocritical protec-
tion, and in a last answer, which he set forth with the
noble bearing of a martyr and the calm serenity of a
righteous man, he said,
" You ask me things, gentlemen, to which I can answer
only the exact truth. Hear it The parcel was put into
my hands in the way I have described. I vow before
God that I was and am still ignorant of its contents,
and that it was not until my arrest that I learned that
this deposit was the correspondence of the Grand Pen-
io8 THE BLACK TULIP.
sionary with the Marquis de Louvois. And, lastly, I
vow and protest that I do not understand how any one
should have known that this parcel was in my house ;
and, above all, how I can be deemed criminal for having
received what my illustrious and unfortunate godfather
brought to my house."
This was Van Baerle's whole defence, after which the
judges began to deliberate on the verdict.
They considered that every offshoot of civil discord
is mischievous, because it revives the contest which it
is the interest of all to put down.
One of them, who bore the character of a profound
observer, laid down as his opinion that this young man,
so phlegmatic in appearance, must in reality be very
dangerous, as under this icy exterior he was sure to con-
ceal an ardent desire to revenge his friends the De Wittes.
Another observed that the love of tulips agreed per-
fectly well with that of politics, and that it was proved
in history that many very dangerous men were engaged
in gardening, just as if it had been their profession, whilst
really they occupied themselves with perfectly different
concerns : witness Tarquin the Elder, who grew poppies
at Gabii, and the great Conde, who watered his carna-
tions at the dungeon of Vincennes, at the very moment
when the former meditated his return to Rome, and the
latter his escape from prison.
The judge summed up with the following dilemma :
" Either Cornelius van Baerle is a great lover of tulips
or a great lover of politics. In either case he has told us
a falsehood first, because his having occupied himself
with politics is proved by the letters which were found
at his house ; and secondly, because his having occu-
pied himself with tulips is proved by the bulbs, which
VHE BLACK TULIP. 109
leave no doubt of the fact. And herein lies the enormity
of the case. As Cornelius van Baerle Was concerned
in the growing of tulips and in the pursuit of politics at
one and the same time, the prisoner is of a hybrid char-
acter, of an amphibious organization, working with equal
ardour at politics and at tulips; which proves him to
belong to the class of men most dangerous to public
tranquillity, and shows a certain, or rather a complete,
analogy between his character and that of those mas-
ter minds of which just now Tarquin the Elder and
the great Conde have been felicitously quoted as
The upshot of aU these reasonings was that his High-
ness the Prince Stadtholder of Holland would feel in-
finitely obliged to the magistracy of the Hague if they
simplified for him the government of the Seven Prov-
inces by destroying even the least germ of conspiracy
against his authority.
This argument capped all the others, and in order so
much the more effectually to destroy the germ of con-
spiracy, sentence of death was unanimously pronounced
against Cornelius van Baerle, as being arraigned and
convicted for having, under the innocent appearance of
a tulip-fancier, participated in the detestable intrigues
and abominable plots of the brothers De Witte against
Dutch nationality, and in their secret relations with their
A supplementary clause was tacked to the sentence
to the effect that " the aforesaid Cornelius van Baerle
should be led from the prison of the Buitenhof to the
scaffold in the yard of the same name, where the public
executioner would cut off his head."
As this deliberation was a most serious affair, it lasted
no THE BLACK TULIP.
a full half -hour, during which the prisoner was remanded
to his cell.
There the Recorder of the States came to read the
sentence to him.
Master Gryphus was detained in bed by the fever
caused by the fracture of his arm. His keys had passed
into the hands of one of his assistants. Behind this
turnkey, who introduced the Recorder, Rosa, the fair
Frisian maid, had slipped into the recess of the door,
with a handkerchief to her mouth to stifle her sobs.
Cornelius listened to the sentence with an expression
rather of surprise than sadness.
After the sentence was read the Recorder asked him
whether he had anything to answer.
" Indeed I have not," he replied. " Only I confess
that, among all the causes of death against which a cau-
tious man may guard, I should never have supposed this
to be comprised."
On this answer the Recorder saluted Van Baerle with
all that consideration which such functionaries generally
bestow upon great criminals of every sort.
But whilst he was about to withdraw Cornelius asked,
" By-the-bye, Mr. Recorder, what day is the thing you
know what I mean to take place ? "
" Well, to-day," answered the Recorder, a little sur-
prised by the self-possession of the condemned man.
A sob was heard behind the door, and Cornelius turned
round to look from whom it came ; but Rosa, who had
foreseen this movement, had fallen back.
" And," continued Cornelius, " what hour is ap-
pointed ? "
" Twelve o'clock, sir."
" Indeed ! " said Cornelius. " I think I heard the clock
THE BLACK TULIP. in
strike ten about twenty minutes ago. I have not much
time to spare."
" Indeed you have not, if you wish to make your peace
with God," said the Recorder, bowing to the ground.
" You may ask for any clergyman you please."
Saying these words he went out backwards; and the
assistant- turnkey was going to follow him, and to lock
the door of Cornelius's cell, when a white and trembling
arm interposed between him and the heavy door.
Cornelius saw nothing but the golden brocade cap,
tipped with lace, such as the Frisian girls wore ; he heard
nothing but some one whispering into the ear of the turn-
key. But the latter put his heavy keys into the white
hand which was stretched out to receive them, and,
descending some steps, sat down on the staircase, which
thus was guarded above by himself and below by the
dog. The head-dress turned round, and Cornelius be-
held the face of Rosa, blanched with grief, and her beau-
tiful eyes streaming with tears.
She went up to Cornelius, crossing her arms on her
" O sir, sir I " she said, but sobs choked her utter-
" My good girl," Cornelius replied with emotion, " what
do you wish ? I may tell you that my time on earth is
" I come to ask a favour of you," said Rosa, extend-
ing her arms partly towards him and partly towards
" Don't weep so, Rosa," said the prisoner, " for your
tears go much more to my heart than my approaching
fate ; and you know the less guilty a prisoner is the more
it is his duty to die calmly, and even joyfully, as he dies
112 THE BLACK TULIP.
a martyr. Come, there's a dear, don't cry any more, and
tell me what you want, my pretty Rosa."
She fell on her knees. " Forgive my father," she said.
" Your father, your father ! " said Cornelius, astonished.
" Yes ; he has been so harsh to you. But it is his
nature ; he is so to every one, and you are not the only
one whom he has bullied."
" He is punished, my dear Rosa, more than punished,
by the accident that has befallen him, and I forgive him."
" I thank you, sir," said Rosa. " And now tell me
oh, tell me can I do anything for you ? "
" You can dry your beautiful eyes, my dear child,"
answered Cornelius with a good-tempered smile.
" But what can I do for you for you I mean ? "
" A man who has only one hour longer to live must be
a great Sybarite still to want anything, my dear Rosa."
" The clergyman whom they have proposed to you ? "
" I have worshipped God all my life ; I have worshipped
Him in His works, and praised Him in His decrees. I
am at peace with Him, and do not wish for a clergyman.
The last thought which occupies my mind, however, has
reference to the glory of the Almighty ; and indeed, my
dear, I should ask you to help me in carrying out this
" O Mynheer Cornelius, speak, speak ! " exclaimed
Rosa, still bathed in tears.
" Give me your hand, and promise me not to laugh,
my dear child."
" Laugh ! " exclaimed Rosa, frantic with grief " laugh
at this moment ! But do you not see my tears ? "
" Rosa, you are no stranger to me. I have not seen
much of you, but that little is enough to make me appre-
ciate your character, I have never seen a woman more
THE BLACK TULIP. 113
fair or more pure than you are ; and if from this moment
I take no more notice of you, forgive me : it is only
because on leaving this world I do not wish to have any
Rosa felt a shudder creeping over her frame, for whilst
the prisoner pronounced these words the belfry clock
of the Buitenhof struck eleven.
Cornelius understood her. "Yes, yes; let us make
haste," he said ; " you are right, Rosa."
Then, taking the paper with the three suckers from
his breast, where he had again put it, since he had no
longer any fear of being searched, he said, " My dear
girl, I have been very fond of flowers. That was at a
time when I did not know that there was anything else
to be loved. Don't blush, Rosa, nor turn away; and
even if I were making you a declaration of love, alas !
poor dear, it would be of no more consequence. Down
there in the yard there is an instrument of steel which
in sixty minutes will put an end to my boldness. Well,
Rosa, I loved flowers dearly, and I have found, or at least
I believe so, the secret of the grand black tulip, which it
has been considered impossible to grow, and for which,
as you know, or may not know, a prize of a hundred
thousand guilders has been offered by the Horticultural
Society of Haarlem. These hundred thousand guilders
and Heaven knows, I do not regret them these hun-
dred thousand guilders I have here in this paper ; for
they are won by the three bulbs wrapped up in it, which
you may take, Rosa, as I make you a present of them."
" Mynheer Cornelius ! "
" Yes, yes, Rosa, you may take them ; you are not
wronging any one, my child. I am alone in this world ;
my parents are dead ; I never had a sister or a brother.
H4 THE BLACK TULIP.
I have never had a thought of loving any one with what
is called love, and if any one has loved me I have not
known it. However, you see well, Rosa, that I am aban-
doned by everyoody, as in this sad hour you alone are
with me in my prison, consoling and assisting me."
" But, sir, a hundred thousand guilders ! "
"Well, let us talk seriously, my dear child. Those
hundred thousand guilders will be a nice marriage por-
tion, with your pretty face. You shall have them, for I
am quite sure of my bulb. You shall have them, Rosa,
dear Rosa, and I ask nothing in return but your promise
that you will marry a fine young man whom you love,
and who will love you as dearly as I loved my flowers.
Don't interrupt me, Rosa dear ; I have only a few min-
The poor girl was nearly choking with her sobs.
Cornelius took her by the hand.
" Listen to me," he continued. " I'll teach you how
to manage it. Go to Dort and ask Butruysheim, my
gardener, for soil from my border number six ; fill a deep
box with it, and plant in it these three bulbs. They will
flower next May that is to say, in seven months ; and
when you see the flower forming on the stem, be careful
at night to protect them from the wind, and by day to
screen them from the sun. They will flower black ; I
am quite sure of it. You are then to apprise the Presi-
dent of the Haarlem Society. He will cause the colour
of the flower to be proved before the committee, and
those hundred thousand guilders will be paid to you."
Rosa heaved a deep sigh. " And now," continued
Cornelius, wiping away a tear which was glistening in
his eye, and which was shed much more for that marvel-
lous black tulip which he was not to see than for the life
THE BLACK TULIP. 115
which he was about to lose, "I have no wish left, except
that the tulip should be called ' Rosa Barlceensis ' that
is to say, that its name should combine yours and mine ;
and as of course you do not understand Latin, and might
therefore forget this name, try to get for me pencil and
paper, that I may write it down for you."
Rosa sobbed afresh, and handed to him a book bound
in shagreen which bore the initials " C. W."
" What is this ? " asked the prisoner.
" Alas ! " replied Rosa, "it is the Bible of your poor
godfather Cornelius de Witte. From it he derived
strength to endure the torture, and to hear his sentence
without flinching. I found it in this cell after the death
of the martyr, and have preserved it as a relic. To-day
I brought it to you, for it seemed to me that this book
must possess in itself a power which is quite heavenly.
Write in it what you have to write, Mynheer Cornelius ;
and though unfortunately I am not able to read, I will
take care that what you write shall be accomplished."
Cornelius took the Bible and kissed it reverently.
" With what shall I write ? " asked Cornelius.
" There is a pencil in the Bible," said Rosa.
This was the pencil which John de Witte had lent to
his brother, and which he had forgotten to take away
Cornelius took it, and on the last fly-leaf (for it will
be remembered that the first was torn out), drawing
near his end like his godfather, he wrote, with a no less
" On this day, the 23rd of August 1672, being on the
point of rendering, although innocent, my soul to God
on the scaffold, I bequeath to Rosa Gryphus the only
n6 THE BLACK TULIP.
worldly good which has remained to me of all that I have
possessed in this world, the rest having been confiscated.
I bequeath, I say, to Rosa Gryphus three bulbs, which
I am convinced must produce in the next May the Grand
Black Tulip, for which a prize of a hundred thousand
guilders has been offered by the Haarlem Society, re-
questing that she may be paid the same sum in my stead,
as my sole heiress, under the only condition of her marry-
ing a respectable young man of about my age, who loves
her and whom she loves, and of her giving the Grand
Black Tulip, which will constitute a new species, the
name of ' Rosa Barl&ensis ' that is to say, hers and mine
" So may God grant me mercy, and to her health and
long life ! CORNELIUS VAN BAERLE.''
The prisoner, then giving the Bible to Rosa, said,
" Alas ! " she answered, " I have already told you I
Cornelius then read to Rosa the testament that he
The agony of the poor girl almost overpowered
" Do you accept my conditions ? " asked the prisoner,
with a melancholy smile, kissing the trembling hands of
the afflicted girl.
" Oh, I don't know, sir/' she stammered.
" You don't know, child ? And why not ? "
" Because there is one condition which I am afraid I
" Which ? I should have thought that all was settled
THE BLACK TULIP. 117
" You give me the hundred thousand guilders as a
marriage portion, don't you ? "
" And under the condition of my marrying a man
whom I love ? "
" Well, then, sir, this money cannot belong to me.
I shall never love any one ; neither shall I marry."
And after having with difficulty uttered these words,
Rosa almost swooned away in the violence of her grief.
Cornelius, frightened at seeing her so pale and sinking,
was going to take her in his arms, when a heavy step,
followed by other dismal sounds, was heard on the stair-
case, amidst the continued barking of the dog.
" They are coming to fetch you. O God ! O God ! "
cried Rosa, wringing her hands. " And have you nothing
more to tell me ? "
She fell on her knees, with her face buried in her hands,
and became almost senseless.
" I have only to say that I wish you to preserve these
bulbs as the most precious treasure, and carefully to
treat them according to the directions I have given you.
Do it for my sake ; and now farewell, Rosa."
" Yes, yes," she said, without raising her head. " I
will do anything you bid me, except marrying," she added
in a low voice, " for that, oh ! that is impossible for me."
She then put that cherished treasure next her beating
The noise on the staircase which Cornelius and Rosa
had heard was caused by the Recorder, who was coming
for the prisoner. He was followed by the executioner,
by the soldiers who were to form the guard round the
scaffold, and by some curious hangers-on of the prison.
n8 THE BLACK TULIP.
Cornelius, without showing any weakness, but likewise
without any bravado, received them rather as friends
than as persecutors, and quietly submitted to all those
preparations which these men were obliged to make in
performance of their duty.
Then, casting a glance into the yard through the nar-
row iron-barred window of his cell, he perceived the
scaffold, and at twenty paces distant from it the gibbet,
from which, by order of the Stadtholder, the outraged
remains of the two brothers De Witte had been taken
When the moment came to descend, in order to follow
the guards, Cornelius sought with his eyes the angelic
look of Rosa ; but he saw, behind the swords and hal-
berds, only a form lying outstretched near a wooden
bench, and a death-like face half covered with long
But whilst falling down senseless, Rosa, still obeying
her friend, had pressed her hand on her velvet bodice,
and forgetting everything in the world besides, instinc-
tively grasped the precious deposit which Cornelius had
entrusted to her care.
Leaving the cell, the young man could still see in the
convulsively-clenched fingers of Rosa the yellowish leaf
from that Bible on which Cornelius de Witte had with
such difficulty and pain written those few lines, which,
if Van Baerle had read them, would undoubtedly have
been the saving of a man and a tulip.
CORNELIUS had not three hundred paces to walk outside
the prison to reach the foot of the scaffold. At the bot-
tom of the staircase the dog quietly looked at him whilst
he was passing ; Cornelius even fancied he saw in the
eyes of the monster a certain expression, as it were, of
The dog perhaps knew the condemned prisoners, and
only bit those who left as free men.
The shorter the way from the door of the prison to the
foot of the scaffold, the more fully of course it was
crowded with curious people.
These were the same who, not satisfied with the blood
which they had shed three days before, were now craving
for a new victim.
And scarcely had Cornelius made his appearance than
a fierce groan ran through the whole street, spreading
all over the yard, and re-echoing from the streets which
led to the scaffold, and which were likewise crowded
The scaffold indeed looked like an islet at the con-
fluence of several rivers.
In the midst of these threats, groans, and yells, Cor-
120 THE BLACK TULIP.
nelius, very likely in order not to hear them, had buried
himself in his own thoughts.
And what did he think of in his last melancholy
Neither of his enemies, nor of his judges, nor of his
He thought of the beautiful tulips which he would
see from heaven above, at Ceylon or Bengal or else-
where, when he would be able to look with pity on this
earth, where John and Cornelius de Witte had been
murdered for having thought too much of politics, and
where Cornelius van Baerle was about to be murdered
for having thought too much of tulips.
" It is only one stroke of the axe," said the philosopher
to himself, " and my beautiful dream will begin to be
Only there was still a chance, just as it had happened
before to M. de Chalais, to M. de Thou, and other slovenly-
executed people, that the headsman might inflict more
than one stroke that is to say, more than one martyr-
dom on the poor tulip-fancier.
Yet. notwithstanding all this, Van Baerle mounted
the scaffold not the less resolutely, proud of having been
the friend of that illustrious John, and godson of that
noble Cornelius de Witte whom the ruffians, who were
now crowding to witness his own doom, had torn to
pieces and burnt three days before.
He knelt down, said his prayers, and observed, not
without a feeling of sincere joy, that laying his head on
the block, and keeping his eyes open, he would be able
to his last moment to see the grated window of the
At length the fatal moment arrived, and Cornelius
THE BLACK TULIP. 121
placed his chin on the cold, damp block. But in this
moment his eyes closed involuntarily, to receive more
resolutely the terrible avalanche which was about to fall
on his head and to engulf his life.
A gleam like that of lightning passed across the scaffold ;
it was the executioner raising his sword.
Van Baerle bade farewell to the grand black tulip,
certain of awaking in another world full of light and
Three times he felt, with a shudder, the cold stream
of air from the knife coming near his neck. But what a
surprise ! He felt neither pain nor shock.
He saw no change in the colour of the sky and of the
world around him.
Then suddenly Van Baerle felt gentle hands raising
him, and soon stood on his feet again, although trembling
He looked around him. There was some one by his
side, reading a large parchment, sealed with a huge seal
of red wax.
And the same sun, yellow and pale as it behoves a
Dutch sun to be, was shining in the skies ; and the same
grated window looked down upon him from the Buitenhof .
And the same rabble, no longer yelling, but completely
thunderstruck, was staring at him from the streets below.
Van Baerle began to be sensible to what was going on
His Highness, William, Prince of Orange, very likely
afraid that Van Baerle's blood would turn the scale of
judgment against him, had compassionately taken into
consideration his good character and the apparent proofs
of his innocence.
His Highness accordingly had granted him his life.
122 THE BLACK TULIP.
Cornelius at first hoped that the pardon would be com-
plete, and that he would be restored to his full liberty
and to his flower-borders at Dort.
But Cornelius was mistaken. To use an expression
of Madame de Sevigne, who wrote about the same time,
" there was a postscript to the letter," and the most
important point of the letter was contained in the post-
In this postscript, William of Orange, Stadtholder of
Holland, condemned Cornelius van Baerle to imprison-
ment for life. He was not sufficiently guilty to suffer
death, but he was too much so to be set at liberty.
Cornelius heard this clause ; but, the first feeling of
vexation and disappointment over, he said to himself,
" Never mind all is not lost yet ; there is some good
in this perpetual imprisonment : Rosa will be there, and
also my three bulbs of the black tulip are there."
But Cornelius forgot that the Seven Provinces had
seven prisons, one for each, and that the board of the
prisoner is anywhere else less expensive than at the
Hague, which is a capital.
His Highness, who, as it seems, did not possess the
means to feed Van Baerle at the Hague, sent him to
undergo his perpetual imprisonment at the fortress of
Loevestein, very near Dort, but, alas ! also very far from
it ; for Lcevestein, as the geographers tell as, is situated
at the point of the islet which is formed by the conflu-
ence of the Waal and the Meuse, opposite Gorcum.
Van Baerle was sufficiently versed in the history of
his country to know that the celebrated Grotius was
confined in that castle after the death of Barneveldte;
and that the States, in their generosity to the illustrious
publicist, jurist, historian, poet, and divine, had granted
THE BLACK TULIP. 123
to him for his daily maintenance the sum of twenty-four
"I," said Baerle to himself " I am worth much less
than Grotius; they will hardly give me twelve stivers,
and I shall live miserably. But never mind ; at all events
I shall live."
Then suddenly a terrible thought struck him.
" Ah ! " he exclaimed, " how damp and misty that
part of the country is, and the soil so bad for the tulips ;
and then Rosa will not be at Lcevestein ! "
WHAT WAS GOING ON ALL THIS TIME IN THE MIND OF
ONE OF THE SPECTATORS.
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
His last look was towards the Buitenhof. 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 mag-
nanimous Stadtholder, mixing with it a spice of abuse
against the brothers De Witte and the godson of Cor-
nelius, who had just now been saved from death.
This reprieve suggested to the worthy spectators re-
marks such as the following,
" It's very fortunate that we used such speed in hav-
ing 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 execu-
tion had attracted to the Buitenhof, and whom the
sudden turn of affairs had disagreeably surprised, un-
doubtedly the one most disappointed was a certain
THE BLACK TULIP. 125
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 Buitenhof at day-
break, 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 wstro that is to
say, coaxing some and kicking the others.
And when the executioner had brought 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,
1 " Be quiet ; it's all right."
This burgher was no other than Mynheer Isaac Boxtel,
who since the arrest of Cornelius had come to the Hague
to try if he could not get hold of the three suckers of the
Boxtel had at first tried to bring over Gryphus to his
interest ; but the jailer had not only the snarling fierce-
ness but likewise the fidelity of a dog. He had there-
fore bristled up at Boxtel's hatred, whom he suspected
to be a warm friend of the prisoner, making trifling in-
quiries to contrive with the more certainty some means
of escape for him.
Thus to the very first proposals which Boxtel made
126 THE BLACK TULIP.
to Gryphus to filch the bulbs, which Cornelius van Baerle
must be supposed to conceal, if not in his breast at least
in some corner of his cell, the surly jailer had only an-
swered by kicking Mynheer Isaac out and setting the
dog at him.
The piece which the mastiff had torn from his hose
did not discourage Boxtel. He came back to the charge ;
but this time Gryphus was in his bed, feverish and with
a broken arm. He therefore was not able to admit the
petitioner, who then addressed himself to Rosa, offering
to buy for her a head-dress of pure gold if she would
but get the bulbs for him. On this the generous girl,
although not yet knowing the value of the object of
the robbery which was to be so well remunerated, had
directed the tempter to the executioner, as the heir of
In the meanwhile the sentence had been pronounced.
Thus Isaac had no more time to bribe any one. He
therefore clung to the idea which Rosa had suggested:
he went to the executioner.
Isaac had not the least doubt but that Cornelius would
die with his bulbs on his heart.
But there were two things which Boxtel did not calcu-
Rosa that is to say, love.
William of Orange that is to say, clemency.
But for Rosa and William the calculations of the en-
vious neighbour would have been correct.
But for William, Cornelius would have died.
But for Rosa, Cornelius would have died with his bulbs
on his heart.
Mynheer Boxtel went to the headsman, to whom he
gave himself out as a great friend of the condemned man,
THE BLACK TULIP. 127
and from whom he bought all the clothes of the dead
man that was to be for one hundred guilders ; rather an
exorbitant sum, as he engaged to leave all the trinkets
of gold and silver to the executioner.
But what was the sum of a hundred guilders to a
man who was all but sure to buy with it the prize of the
Haarlem Society ?
It was money lent at a thousand per cent., which, as
nobody will deny, was a very handsome investment.
The headsman, on the other hand, had scarcely any-
thing to do to earn his hundred guilders. He needed
only, as soon as the execution was over, to allow Myn-
heer Boxtel to ascend the scaffold with his servants to
remove the inanimate remains of his friend.
The thing was, moreover, quite customary among the
" faithful brethren " when one of their masters died a
public death in the yard of the Buitenhof .
A fanatic like Cornelius might very easily have found
another fanatic who gave a hundred guilders for his
The executioner also readily acquiesced in the pro-
posal, making only one condition that of being paid in
Boxtel, like the people who enter a show at a fair,
might not be pleased, and refuse to pay on going out.
Boxtel paid in advance and waited.
After this the reader may imagine how excited Boxtel
was ; with what anxiety he watched the guards, the
Recorder, and the executioner ; and with what intense
interest he surveyed the movements of Van Baerle.
How would he place himself on the block ? how would
he fall ? and would he not, in falling, crush those in-
estimable bulbs? Had not he at least taken care to
128 THE BLACK TULIP.
enclose them in a golden box, as gold is the hardest
all metals ?
Every trifling delay irritated him. Why did that
stupid executioner thus lose his time in brandishing his
sword over the head of Cornelius, instead of cutting that
head off ?
But when he saw the Recorder take the hand of the
condemned and raise him, whilst drawing forth the parch-
ment from his pocket ; when he heard the pardon of the
Stadtholder publicly read out then Boxtel was no more
like a human being. The rage and malice of the tiger, of
the hyaena, and of the serpent glistened in his eyes, and
vented itself in his yell and his movements. Had he
been able to get at Van Baerle, he would have pounced
upon him and strangled him.
And so, then, Cornelius was to live, and was to go to
Loevestein, and thither to his prison he would take with
him his bulbs ; and perhaps he would even find a garden
where the black tulip would flower for him.
Boxtel, quite overcome by his frenzy, fell from the
stone on some Orangemen, who, like him, were sorely
vexed at the turn which affairs had taken. They, mis-
taking the frantic cries of Mynheer Isaac for demon-
strations of joy, began to belabour him with kicks and
cuffs, such as could not have been administered in better
style by any prize-fighter on the other side of the Channel.
Blows were, however, nothing to him. He wanted to
run after the coach which was carrying away Cornelius
with his bulbs. But in his hurry he overlooked a paving-
stone in his way, stumbled, lost his centre of gravity,
rolled over to a distance of some yards, and only rose
again, bruised and begrimed, after the whole rabble of
the Hague with their muddy feet had passed over him.
THE BLACK TULIP. 129
One would think that this was enough for one day; but
Mynheer Boxtel did not seem to think so, as in addition
to having his clothes torn, his back bruised, and his hands
scratched, he inflicted upon himself the further punish-
ment of tearing out his hair by handfuls, as an offering
to that goddess of envy who, as mythology teaches us,
has for her head-dress only a set of serpents.
THE PIGEONS OF DORT.
IT was, indeed, in itself a great honour for Cornelius van
Baerle to be confined in the same prison which had once
received the learned master Grotius.
But on arriving at the prison he met with an honour
even greater. As chance would have it, the cell formerly
inhabited by the illustrious Barneveldte happened to be
vacant when the clemency of the Prince of Orange sent
the tulip-fancier Van Baerle there.
The cell had a very bad character at the castle since
the time when Grotius, by means of the device of his
wife, made escape from thence in that famous book-
chest which the jailers forgot to examine.
On the other hand, it seemed to Van Baerle an auspi-
cious omen that this very cell was assigned to him ;
for, according to his ideas, a jailer ought never to have
given to a second pigeon the cage from which the first
had so easily flown.
The cell has an historical character. We will only
state here that, with the exception of an alcove which
was contrived there for the use of Madame Grotius, it
differed in no respect from the other cells of the prison ;
only perhaps it was a little higher, and had a splendid
view from the grated window.
THE BLACK TULIP. 131
Cornelius himself felt perfectly indifferent as to the
place where he had to lead an existence which was little
more than vegetation. There were only two things now
for which he cared, and the possession of which was a
happiness enjoyed only in imagination.
A flower and a woman, both of them, as he conceived,
lost to him for ever.
Fortunately the good Doctor was mistaken. In his
prison cell the most adventurous life which ever fell to
the lot of any tulip-fancier was reserved for him.
One morning whilst at his window, inhaling the fresh
air which came from the river, and casting a longing
look to the windmills of his dear old city Dort, which
were looming in the distance behind a forest of chim-
neys, he saw flocks of pigeons coming from that quar-
ter, to perch fluttering on the pointed gable ends of
These pigeons, Van Baerle said to himself, are com-
ing from Dort, and consequently may return there. By
fastening a little note to the wing of one of these pigeons
one might have a chance to send a message there. Then,
after a few moments' consideration, he exclaimed,
" I will do it."
A man grows very patient who is twenty-eight years
of age and condemned to a prison for life that is to say,
to something like twenty-two or twenty-three thousand
days of captivity.
Van Baerle, from whose thoughts the three bulbs were
never absent, made a snare for catching the pigeons, bait-
ing the birds with all the resources of his kitchen, such
as it was, for eight stivers (sixpence English) a day ;
and after a month of unsuccessful attempts he at last
caught a female bird.
132 THE BLACK TULIP.
It cost him two more months to catch a male bird ;
he then shut them up together, and having about the
beginning of the year 1673 obtained some eggs from
them, he released the female, which, leaving the male
behind to hatch the eggs in her stead, flew joyously to
Dort with the note under her wing.
She returned in the evening. She had preserved the
Thus it went on for fifteen days, at first to the dis-
appointment and then to the great grief of Van Baerle.
On the sixteenth day, at last, she came back with-
Van Baerle had addressed it to his nurse, the old Frisian
woman, and implored any charitable soul who might find
it to convey it to her as safely and speedily as possible.
In this letter there was a little note enclosed for Rosa.
Van Baerle's nurse had received a letter in the follow-
Leaving Dort, Mynheer Isaac Boxtel had abandoned
not only his house, his servant, his observatory, and his
telescope, but also his pigeons.
The servant having been left without wages, first lived
on his little savings and then on his master's pigeons.
Seeing this, the pigeons emigrated from the roof of
Isaac Boxtel to that of Cornelius van Baerle.
The nurse was a kind-hearted woman, who could not
live without having something to love. She conceived
an affection for the pigeons which had thrown them-
selves on her hospitality ; and when Boxtel's servant
reclaimed them with culinary intentions, having eaten
the first fifteen already, and now wishing to eat the other
fifteen, she offered to buy them from him for a considera-
tion of six stivers per head.
THE BLACK TULIP. 133
This being just double their value, the man was very
glad to close the bargain, and the nurse found herself in
undisputed possession of the pigeons of her master's
The note, as we have said, had reached Van Baerle's
And also it came to pass that one evening in the begin-
ning of February, just when the stars were beginning to
twinkle, Cornelius heard on the staircase of the little
turret a voice which thrilled through him.
He put his hand on his heart and listened.
It was the sweet, harmonious voice of Rosa.
Let us confess it, Cornelius was not so stupefied with
surprise, or so beyond himself with joy, as he would have
been but for the pigeon, which in answer to his letter
had brought back hope to him under her empty wing;
and knowing Rosa, he expected, if the note had ever
reached her, to hear of her whom he loved, and also of
his three darling bulbs.
He rose, listened once more, and bent forward towards
Yes, they were indeed the accents which had fallen so
sweetly on his heart at the Hague.
The question now was, whether Rosa, who had made
the journey from the Hague to Lcevestein, and who
Cornelius did not understand how had succeeded even
in penetrating into the prison, would also be fortunate
enough in penetrating to the prisoner himself.
Whilst Cornelius, debating this point within himself,
was building all sorts of castles in the air, and was strug-
gling between hope and fear, the shutter of the grating
in the door opened, and Rosa, beaming with joy, and
beautiful in her pretty national costume but still more
134 THE BLACK TULIP.
beautiful from the grief which for the last five mo:
had blanched her cheeks pressed her little face against
the wire grating of the window, saying to him,
" O sir, sir, here I am ! "
Cornelius stretched out his arms, and, looking to heaven,
uttered a cry of joy.
" O Rosa, Rosa ! "
" Hush I let us speak low ; my father follows on my
heels/' said the girl.
" Yes : he is in the courtyard at the bottom of the
staircase, receiving the instructions of the Governor ;
he will presently come up/'
" The instructions of the Governor ? x>
" Listen to me ; I'll try to tell you all in a few words.
The Stadtholder has a country house one league distant
from Leyden, properly speaking a kind of large dairy;
and my aunt, who was his nurse, has the management
of it. As soon as I received your letter which, alas ! I
could not read myself, but which your housekeeper read
to me I hastened to my aunt. There I remained until
the Prince should come to the dairy ; and when he came
I asked him as a favour to allow my father to exchange
his post at the prison of the Hague with the jailer of
the fortress of Loevestein. The Prince could not have
suspected my object ; had he known it, he would have
refused my request, but as it is he granted it."
" And so you are here ? "
" As you see/'
" And thus I shall see you every day ? "
" As often as I can manage it."
"0 Rosa, my beautiful Rosa, do you love me a
little ? "
THE BLACK TULIP. 135
" A little ? " she said ; " you make no great preten-
sions, Mynheer Cornelius."
Cornelius tenderly stretched out his hands towards
her; but they were only able to touch each other with
the tips of their fingers through the wire grating.
" Here is my father," said she.
Rosa then abruptly drew back from the door and
ran to meet old Gryphus, who made his appearance at
the top of the staircase.
THE LITTLE GRATED WINDOW.
GRYPHUS was followed by the mastiff.
The turnkey took the animal round the jail, so that
if needs be he might recognize the prisoners.
" Father," said Rosa, " here is the famous prison from
which Mynheer Grotius escaped. You know Mynheer
Grotius ? "
" Oh yes ; that rogue Grotius a friend of that villain
Barneveldte, whom I saw executed when I was a child.
Ah ! so Grotius ; and that's the chamber from which he
escaped. Well, I'll answer for it that no one shall escape
after him in my time."
And thus opening the door he began in the dark to
talk to the prisoner.
The dog, on his part, went up to the prisoner, and,
growling, smelled about his legs, just as though to ask
him what right he had still to be alive after having left
the prison in the company of the Recorder and the exe-
But the fair Rosa called him to her side.
" Well, my master," said Gryphus, holding up his
lantern to throw a little light around, " you see in me
your new jailer. I am head- turnkey, and have all the
THE BLACK TULIP. 137
cells under my care. I'm not vicious, but I'm not to be
trifled with as far as discipline goes."
" My good Master Gryphus, I know you perfectly
well/' said the prisoner, approaching to within the circle
of light cast around by the lantern.
" Halloa I that's you, Mynheer van Baerle," said
Gryphus. " That's you. Well, I declare, it's astonish-
ing how people do meet."
" Oh yes ; and it's really a great pleasure to me, good
Master Gryphus, to see that your arm is doing well, as
you are able to hold your lantern with it."
Gryphus knitted his brow. "Now, that's just it,"
he said ; " people always make blunders in politics. His
Highness has granted you your life ; I'm sure I should
never have done so."
" Don't say so," replied Cornelius. "Why not ? "
" Because you are the very man to conspire again.
You learned people have dealings with the devil."
" Nonsense, Master Gryphus. Are you dissatisfied
with the manner in which I have set your arm, or with
the price that I asked you ? " said Cornelius, laughing.
" On the contrary," growled the jailer, " you have
set it only too well. There is some witchcraft in this.
After six weeks I was able to use it as if nothing had
happened ; so much so, that the doctor of the Buitenhof,
who knows his trade well, wanted to break it again, to
set it in the regular way, and promised me that I should
have my blessed three months for my money before I
should be able to move it."
" And you did not want that ? "
" I said, ' Nay, as long as I can make the sign of the
cross with that arm ' (Gryphus was a Roman Catholic),
' I laugh at the devil.'"
138 THE BLACK TULIP.
" But if you laugh at thedevil, Master Gryphus, you ou
with so much more reason to laugh at learned people."
" Ah, learned people, learned people ! Why, I would
rather have to guard ten soldiers than one scholar. The
soldiers smoke, guzzle, and get drunk they are as gentle
as lambs if you only give them brandy or Moselle ; but
scholars, and drink, smoke, and fuddle ah yes, that's
altogether different. They keep sober, spend nothing,
and have their heads always clear to make conspiracies.
But I tell you, at the very outset, it won't be such an easy
matter for you to conspire. First of all, you will have no
books, no paper, and no conjuring book. It's books that
helped Mynheer Grotius to get off."
"I assure you, Master Gryphus," replied Van Baerle,
" that if I have entertained the idea of escaping, I most
decidedly have it no longer."
" Well, well," said Gryphus, " just look sharp ; that's
what I shall do also. But for all that, I say his Highness
has made a great mistake."
" Not to have cut off my head ? Thank you, Master
" Just so ; look whether the Mynheers de Witte don't
keep very quiet now."
" That's very shocking what you say now, Master
Gryphus," cried Van Baerle, turning away his head to
conceal his disgust. " You forget that one of those un-
fortunate gentlemen was my friend, and the other my
" Yes, but I also remember that the one as well as the
other is a conspirator. And, moreover, I am speaking
from Christian charity."
" Oh, indeed ; explain that a little to me, my good
Master Gryphus. I do not quite understand it."
THE BLACK TULIP. 139
" Well, then, if you had remained on the block of
" What ? "
" You would not suffer any longer ; whereas I will not
disguise it from you I shall lead you a sad life of it."
" Thank you for the promise, Master Gryphus."
And whilst the prisoner smiled ironically at the old
jailer, Rosa from the outside answered by a bright
smile, which carried sweet consolation to the heart of
Gryphus stepped towards the window.
It was still light enough to see, although indistinctly,
through the gray haze of the evening the vast expanse
of the horizon.
" What view has one from here ? " asked Gryphus.
" Why, a very fine and pleasant one," said Cornelius,
looking at Rosa.
" Yes, yes; too much of a view too much."
And at this moment the two pigeons, scared by the
sight, and especially by the voice of the stranger, left
their nest and disappeared, quite frightened, in the even-
" Halloa I what's this ? " cried Gryphus.
" My pigeons/' answered Cornelius.
" Your pigeons," cried the jailer, " your pigeons !
Has a prisoner anything of his own ? "
" Why, then," said Cornelius, " the pigeons which a
merciful Father in heaven has lent to me."
"So, here we have a breach of the rules already,"
replied Gryphus, " Pigeons I Ah, young man, young
man, I'll tell you one thing that before to-morrow is
over your pigeons will boil in my pot/ 7
" First of ail, you should catch them, Master Gryphus.
I4Q THE BLACK TULIP.
You won't allow these pigeons to be mine. Well, I vow
they are even less yours than mine."
" Omittance is no acquittance," growled the jailer,
"and I shall certainly wring their necks before twenty-
four hours are over ; you may be sure of that."
Whilst giving utterance to this ill-natured promise,
Gryphus put his head out of the window to examine the
nest. This gave Van Baerle time to run to the door
and squeeze the hand of Rosa, who whispered to him,
" At nine o'clock this evening."
Gryphus, quite taken up with the desire of catching
the pigeons next day, as he had promised he would do,
saw and heard nothing of this short interlude ; and,
after having closed the window, he took the arm of his
daughter, left the cell, turned the key twice, drew the
bolts, and went off to make the same kind promises to
the other prisoners.
He had scarcely withdrawn when Cornelius went to
the door to listen to the sound of his footsteps ; and as
soon as they had died away, he ran to the window and
completely demolished the nest of the pigeons.
Rather than expose them to the tender mercies of his
bullying jailer, he drove away for ever those gentle
messengers to whom he owed the happiness of having
seen Rosa again.
This visit of the jailer, his brutal threats, and the
gloomy prospect of the harshness with which, as he had
before experienced, Gryphus watched his prisoners all
this was unable to extinguish in Cornelius the sweet
thoughts, and especially the sweet hope, which the pres-
ence of Rosa had reawakened in his heart.
He waited eagerly to hear the clock of the tower of
Loevestein strike nine.
THE BLACK TULIP. 1-41
The last chime was still vibrating through the air,
when Cornelius heard on the staircase the light step
and the rustle of the flowing dress of the fair Frisian
maid, and soon after a light appeared at the little grated
window in the door, on which the prisoner fixed his
The shutter opened on the outside.
" Here I am," said Rosa, out of breath from running
up the stairs ; " here I am."
" O my good Rosa ! "
" You are then glad to see me ? "
" Can you ask ? But how did you contrive to get
here ? Tell me."
" Now, listen to me. My father falls asleep every
evening, almost immediately after his supper. I then
make him lie down, a little stupefied with his gin. Don't
say anything about it, because, thanks to this nap, I
shall be able to come every evening and chat for an hour
" Oh, I thank you, Rosa, dear Rosa."
Saying these words, Cornelius put his face so near the
little window that Rosa withdrew hers.
" I have brought back to you your bulbs."
Cornelius's heart leaped with joy. He had not yet
dared to ask Rosa what she had done with the precious
treasure which he had entrusted to her.
" Oh, you have preserved them, then ? "
" Did you not give them to me as a thing which was
dear to you ? "
" Yes, but as I have given them to you, it seems to
me that they belong to you."
" They would have belonged to me after your death ;
but fortunately you are alive now. Oh, how I blessed
142 THE BLACK TULIP.
his Highness in my heart ! If God grants to him
the happiness that I have wished him, certainly Prince
William will be the happiest man on earth, When I
looked at the Bible of your godfather Cornelius, I was
resolved to bring back to you your bulbs, only I did not
know how to accomplish it. I had, however, already
formed the plan of going to the Stadtholder, to ask from
him, for my father, the appointment of jailer at Loeve-
stein, when your housekeeper brought me your letter.
Oh, how we wept together. But your letter only con-
firmed me the more in my resolution. I then left for
Ley den, and the rest you know/*
" What ! my dear Rosa, you thought, even before re-
ceiving my letter, of coming to meet me again ? "
" If I thought of it ? " said Rosa, allowing her love to
get the better of her bashfulness. " I thought of nothing
And saying these words, Rosa looked so exceedingly
pretty that for the second time Cornelius placed his fore-
head and lips against the wire grating of course, we
must presume, with the laudable desire to thank the
Rosa, however, drew back as before.
" In truth," she said, with that coquetry which some-
how or other is in the heart of every young girl, " I
have often been sorry that I am not able to read, but
never so much so as when your housekeeper brought
me your letter. I kept the paper in my hands, which
spoke to other people, and which was dumb to poor
" So you have often regretted not being able to read,"
said Cornelius. " I should just like to know on what
THE BLACK TULIP. 143
" Troth," said she, laughing, " to read all the letters
which were written to me."
" Oh, you received letters, Rosa ? "
" By hundreds 1 "
" But who wrote to you ? "
" Who ? Why, in the first place, all the students who
passed over the Buitenhof, all the officers who went to
parade, all the clerks, and even the merchants who saw
me at my little window."
" And what did you do with all these notes, my dear
Rosa ? "
" Formerly," she answered, " I got some friend to
read them to me, which was capital fun ; but since a
certain time well, what use is it to attend to all this
nonsense ? since a certain time I have burnt them."
" Since a certain time ! " exclaimed Cornelius, with a
look beaming with love and joy.
Rosa cast down her eyes, blushing. In her sweet con-
fusion she did not observe the lips of Cornelius, which
alas ! only met the cold wire grating. Yet, in spite of
this obstacle, they communicated to the lips of the young
girl the glowing breath of the most tender kiss.
At this sudden, outburst of tenderness, Rosa grew as
pale and perhaps paler than she had been on the day of
the execution. She uttered a plaintive sob, closed her
fine eyes, and fled, trying in vain to still the beating of
And thus Cornelius was again alone.
Rosa had fled so precipitately that she completely
forgot to return to Cornelius the three bulbs of the
MASTER AND PUPIL.
THE worthy Master Gryphus, as the reader may have
seen, was far from sharing the kindly feelings of his
daughter for the godson of Cornelius de Witte.
There being only five prisoners at Lcevestein, the post
of turnkey was not a very onerous one, but rather a sort
of sinecure, given after a long period of service.
But the worthy jailer, in his zeal, had magnified, with
all the power of his imagination, the importance of his
To him Cornelius had swelled to the gigantic propor-
tions of a criminal of the first order. He looked upon
him, therefore, as the most dangerous of all his prisoners.
He watched all his steps, and always spoke to him with
an angry countenance punishing him for what he called
his dreadful rebellion against such a clement prince as
Three times a day he entered Van Baerle's cell, ex-
pecting to find him trespassing ; but Cornelius had
ceased to correspond, since his correspondent was at
hand. It is even probable that if Cornelius had ob-
tained his full liberty, with permission to go wherever
he liked, the prison, with Rosa and his bulbs, would
THE BLACK TULIP. 145
have appeared to him preferable to any other habitation
in the world without Rosa and his bulbs.
Rosa, in fact, had promised to come and see him every
evening, and from the first evening she had kept her
On the following evening she went up as before, with
the same mysteriousness and the same precaution;
only she had this time resolved within herself not to
approach too near the grating. In order, however, to
engage Van Baerle in a conversation from the very first,
which would seriously occupy his attention, she tendered
to him through the grating the three bulbs, which were
still wrapped up in the same paper.
But to the great astonishment of Rosa, Van Baerle
pushed back her white hand with the tips of his fingers.
The young man had been considering about the
" Listen to me," he said. " I think we should risk
too much by embarking our whole fortune in one ship.
Only think, my dear Rosa, that the question is to carry
out an enterprise which until now has been considered
impossible namely, that of making the grand Black
Tulip flower. Let us, therefore, take every possible
precaution, so that, in case of a failure, we may not
have anything to reproach ourselves with. I will now
tell you the way I have traced out for us."
Rosa was all attention to what he would say, much
more on account of the importance which the unfor-
tunate tulip-fancier attached to it than that she felt
interested in the matter herself.
" I will explain to you, Rosa," he said. " I dare say
you have in this fortress a small garden, or some court-
yard, or, if not that, at least some terrace/'
146 THE BLACK TULIP.
" We have a very fine garden," said Rosa ; " it runs
along the edge of the Waal, and is full of fine old trees."
" Could you bring me some soil from the garden, t
I may judge ? "
" I will do so to-morrow/
" Take some from a sunny spot and some from a
shady, so that I may judge of its properties in a dry
and in a moist state."
" Be assured I shall."
" After having chosen the soil, and, if it be necessary,
modified it, we will divide our three suckers. You will
take one and plant it, on the day that I will tell you, in
the soil chosen by me. It is sure to flower if you tend
it according to my directions.'*
" I will not lose sight of it for a minute."
" You will give me another, which I will try to grow
here in my cell, and which will help me to beguile those
long weary hours when I cannot see you, I confess to
you I have very little hope for the latter one, and I look
beforehand on this unfortunate bulb as sacrificed to my
selfishness. However, the sun sometimes visits me. I
will, besides, try to convert everything into an artificial
help, even the heat and the ashes of my pipe. And lastly,
we, or rather you, will keep in reserve the third sucker
as our last resource, in case our first two experiments
should prove a failure. In this manner, my dear Rosa,
it is impossible that we should not succeed in gaining
the hundred thousand guilders for your marriage
portion ; and how dearly shall we enjoy that supreme
happiness of seeing our work brought to a successful
issue ! "
" I know it all now," said Rosa. " I will bring you
the soil to-morrow, and you will choose it for your bulb
THE BLACK TULIP. 147
and for mine. As to that in which yours is to grow, I
shall have several journeys to convey it to you, as I
cannot bring much at a time."
" There is no hurry for it, dear Rosa ; our tulips need
not be put into the ground for a month at least. So
you see we have plenty of time before us. Only I hope
that in planting your bulb you will strictly follow all
" I promise you I will."
" And when you have once planted it, you will com-
municate to me all the circumstances which may interest
our nursling such as change of weather, footprints on
the walks, or footprints in the borders. You will listen
at night whether our garden is not resorted to by cats.
A couple of those untoward animals laid waste two of
my borders at Dort."
" I will listen."
" On moonlight nights. Have you ever looked at
your garden, my dear child ? "
" The window of my sleeping-room overlooks it."
" Well, on moonlight nights you will observe whether
any rats come out from the holes in the wall. The rats
are most mischievous by their gnawing everything ; and
I have heard unfortunate tulip-growers complain most
bitterly of Noah for having put a couple of rats in
" I will observe, and if there are cats or rats "
"You will apprise me of it; that's right. And,
moreover," Van Baerle, having become mistrustful in
his captivity, continued, " there is an animal much more
to be feared than even the cat or the rat."
" What animal ? "
" Man. You comprehend, my dear Rosa, a man may
148 THE BLACK TULIP.
steal a guilder, and risk the prison for such a trifle, and
consequently it is much more likely that some one
might steal a hundred thousand guilders.'*
" No one ever enters the garden but myself."
" Thank you, thank you, my dear Rosa. All the joy
of my life has still to come from you."
And as the lips of Van Baerle approached the grating
with the same ardour as the day before, and as, more-
over, the hour for retiring had struck, Rosa drew back
her head and stretched out her hand.
In this pretty little hand, of which the coquettish
damsel was particularly proud, was the bulb.
Cornelius kissed most tenderly the tips of her fingers.
Did he do so because his hand kept one of the bulbs of
the Grand Black Tulip, or because this hand was Rosa's ?
We shall leave this point to the decision of wiser heads
Rosa withdrew with the two other suckers, pressing
them to her heart.
Did she press them to her heart because they were the
bulbs of the Grand Black Tulip, or because she had
them from Cornelius ?
This point, we believe, might be more readily decided
than the other.
However that may have been, from that moment
life became sweet, and again full of interest to the
Rosa, as we have seen, had returned to him one of the
Every evening she brought to him, handful by hand-
ful, a quantity of soil from that part of the garden
which he had found to be the best, and which, indeed,
THE BLACK TULIP. 149
A large jug, which Cornelius had skilfully broken,
did service as a flower-pot. He half filled it, and
mixed the earth of the garden with a small portion
of dried river-mud a mixture which formed an excel-
Then, at the beginning of April, he planted his first
sucker in that jug.
Not a day passed on which Rosa did not come to
have her chat with Cornelius.
The tulips, concerning whose cultivation Rosa was
taught all the mysteries of the art, formed the principal
topic of the conversation. But interesting as the sub-
ject was, people cannot always talk about tulips.
They therefore began to chat also about other things,
and the tulip-fancier found out, to his great astonish-
ment, what a vast range of subjects a conversation may
Only Rosa had made it a habit to keep her pretty face
invariably six inches distant from the grating, having,
perhaps, become mistrustful of herself.
There was one thing especially which gave Cornelius
almost as much anxiety as his bulbs a subject to which
he always returned the dependence of Rosa on her
Indeed, Van Baerle's happiness depended on the whim
of this man. He might one day find Lcevestein dull, or
the air of the place unhealthy, or the gin bad, and leave
the fortress, and take his daughter with him, when
Cornelius and Rosa would again be separated.
" Of what use would the carrier-pigeons then be,"
said Cornelius to Rosa, " as you, my dear girl, would
not be able to read what I should write to you, nor to
write to me your thoughts in return ? "
150 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Well," answered Rosa, who in her heart was
much afraid of a separation as Cornelius himself, "
have one hour every evening ; let us make a good
" I don't think we make such a bad use of it as
" Let us employ it even better," said Rosa, smiling.
" Teach me to read and to write. I shall make the
best of your lessons, believe me ; and in this way we
shall never be separated any more, except by our own
" Oh, then, we have eternity before us," said Cor-
Rosa smiled, and quietly shrugged her shoulders.
" Will you remain for ever in prison ? " she said;
" and, after having granted you your life, will not his
Highness also grant you your liberty ? And will you
not then recover your fortune, and be a rich man;
and then, when you are driving in your own coach,
riding your own horse, will you still look at poor Rosa,
the daughter of a jailer, scarcely better than a hang-
man ? "
Cornelius tried to contradict her, and certainly he
would have done so with all his heart, and with all the
sincerity of a soul full of love.
She, however, smilingly interrupted him, saying,
" How is your tulip going on ? "
To speak to Cornelius of his tulip was an expedient
resorted to by her to make him forget everything, even
" Pretty well, indeed," he said, " The coat is growing
black ; the sprouting has commenced * the veins of the
bulb are swelling ; in eight days hence, and perhaps
THE BLACK TULIP. 151
sooner, we may distinguish the first buds of the leaves
protruding. And yours, Rosa ? "
" Oh, I have done things on a large scale, and ac-
cording to your directions."
" Now, let me hear, Rosa, what you have done," said
Cornelius, with as tender an anxiety as he had lately
shown to herself.
" Well," she said, smiling, for in her own heart she
could not help studying this double love of the prisoner
for herself and for the black tulip, " I have done things
on a large scale. I have prepared a bed as you described
it to me, on a clear spot, far from trees and walls, in
soil slightly mixed with sand, rather moist than dry,
without a fragment of stone or pebble."
" Well done, Rosa, well done ! "
" I am now only waiting for your further orders to
put in the bulb. You know that I must be behindhand
with you, as I have in my favour all the chances of good
air, of the sun, and abundance of moisture."
" All true, all true," exclaimed Cornelius, clapping
his hands with joy. " You are a good pupil, Rosa, and
you are sure to gain your hundred thousand guilders."
" Don't forget," said Rosa, smiling, " that your
pupil, as you call me, has still other things to learn
besides the cultivation of tulips."
' Yes, yes ; and I am as anxious as you are, Rosa,
that you should learn to read."
" When shall we begin ? "
" At once."
" No, to-morrow."
" Why to-morrow ? "
" Because to-day our hour is expired, and I must
152 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Already ? But what shall we read ? "
" Oh," said Rosa, " I have a book a book which I
hope will bring us luck."
" To-morrow, then."
' Yes, to-morrow."
On the following evening Rosa returned with the
Bible of Cornelius De Witte.
THE FIRST SUCKER.
ON the following evening, as we have said, Rosa re-
turned with the Bible of Cornelius de Witte.
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 sufficient for them to read each other's faces.
Rosa, therefore, had to press the open book against the
grating edgeways, 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 eye, 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
154 THE BLACK TULIP.
Rosa's intellect rapidly developed itself under tl
animating influence of the mind 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, re-
peated in her solitude the reading lessons, but at the
same time recalled all the delight which she had felt
whilst receiving them.
One evening she came half an hour later than usual.
This was too extraordinary an incident 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
" No," she answered ; " it 's only for about a fortnight
that my father has taken such a fancy to this friend
who is so assiduous in visiting him."
" Ah, so," said Cornelius, shaking his head uneasily,
as every new incident seemed to him to forebode some
catastrophe ; " very likely some spy, one of those who
are sent into jails to watch both prisoners and their
" I don't believe that," said Rosa, smiling. " If that
worthy person is spying after any one, it is certainly not
after my father."
" After whom, then ? "
" Me, for instance."
THE BLACK TULIP. 155
" You ? "
" Why not ? " said Rosa, smiling.
" Ah, that's true," Cornelius observed with a sigh.
" You will not always have suitors in vain ; this man
may become your husband."
" I don't say anything to the contrary."
" What cause have you to entertain such a happy
prospect ? "
" Rather say this fear, Mynheer Cornelius."
"Thank you, Rosa; you are right. Well, I will say
then this fear ? "
" I have only this reason "
" Tell me ; I am anxious to hear."
" This man came several times before to the Buiten-
. hof, at the Hague. I remember now, it was just about
the time when you were confined there. When I left,
he left too ; when I came here, he came after me. At
the Hague his pretext was that he wanted to see you."
" See me ? "
" Yes. It must have undoubtedly been only a pretext ;
for now, when he could plead the same reason, as you
are my father's prisoner again, he does not care any
longer for you ; quite the contrary, I heard him say to
my father only yesterday that he did not know you."
" Go on, Rosa, pray do, that I may guess who that
man is and what he wants."
" Are you quite sure, Mynheer Cornelius, that none
of your friends can interest himself for you ? "
" I have no friends, Rosa ; I have only my old nurse,
whom you know, and who knows you. Alas ! poor Sue,
she would come herself, and use no roundabout ways.
She would at once say to your father or to you, ' My
good sir, or my good miss, my child is here; see how
156 THE BLACK TULIP.
grieved I am. Let me see him only for one hour, and
111 pray for you as long as I live.' No, no," continued
Cornelius ; " with the exception of my poor old Sue, I
have no friends in this world."
" Then I come back to what I thought before, and
the more so as last evening at sunset, whilst I was arrang-
ing the border where I am to plant your bulb, I saw a
shadow gliding between the elder trees and the aspens.
I did not appear to see him, but it was this man. He
concealed himself, and saw me digging the ground ; and
certainly it was me whom he followed, and me whom
he was spying after. I could not move my rake or touch
one atom of soil without his noticing it."
" Oh ! yes, yes, he is in love with you," said Cornelius.
" Is he young ? is he handsome ? "
Saying this, he looked anxiously at Rosa, eagerly
waiting for her answer.
" Young ? handsome ? " cried Rosa, bursting into a
laugh. "He is hideous to look at crooked, nearly
fifty years of age, and never dares to look me in the
face, or to speak, except in an undertone."
" And his name ? "
" Jacob Gisels."
" I don't know him."
" Then you see that, at all events, he does not come
"At any rate, if he loves you, Rosa which is very
likely, as to see you is to love you at least you don't
" To be sure I don't."
' Then you wish me to keep my mind easy ? "
" I should certainly ask you to do so."
" Well, then, now as you begin to know how to read,
THE BLACK TULIP. 157
you will read all that I write to you of the pangs of
jealousy and of absence, won't you, Rosa ? "
" I shall read it, if you write with good big letters."
Then, as the turn which the conversation took began
to make Rosa uneasy, she asked,
" By-the-bye, how is your tulip going on ? "
" O Rosa, only imagine my joy ! This morning I
looked at it in the sun, and after having moved the soil
aside which covers the bulb, I saw the first sprouting of
the leaves. This small germ has caused me a much
greater emotion than the order of his Highness, which
turned aside the sword, already raised, at the Buitenhof."
" You hope, then ? " said Rosa, smiling.
" Yes, yes, I hope."
" And I, in my turn, when shall I plant my bulb ? "
" Oh, the first favourable day I will tell you. But
whatever you do, let nobody help you, and don't confide
your secret to any one in the world. Do you see, a con-
noisseur, by merely looking at the bulb, would be able
to distinguish its value. And so, my dearest Rosa, be
careful in locking up the third sucker which remains to
"It is still wrapped up in the same paper in which
you put it, and just as you gave it me. I have laid it
at the bottom of my chest under my point lace, which
keeps it dry, without pressing upon it. But good-night,
my poor captive gentleman."
" How ? already ? "
" It must be, it must be."
" Coming so late, and going so soon."
" My father might grow impatient, not seeing me
return, and that precious lover might suspect a rival,"
Here she listened uneasily,
158 THE BLACK TULIP.
" What is it ? " asked Van Baerle.
" I thought I heard something."
" What, then ? "
" Something like a step creaking on the staircase.
" Surely," said the prisoner, " that cannot be master
Gryphus ; he is always heard at a distance."
" No, it is not my father, I am quite sure, but
" But ? "
" But it might be Mynheer Jacob."
Rosa rushed towards the staircase, and a door was
really heard rapidly to close, before the young damsel
had got down the first ten steps.
Cornelius was very uneasy about it ; but it was, after
all, only a prelude to greater anxieties.
The following day passed without any remarkable
incident. Gryphus made his three visits, and discovered
nothing. He never came at the same hours, as he hoped
thus to discover the secrets of the prisoner. Van Baerle,
therefore, had devised a contrivance, a sort of pulley, by
means of which he was able to lower or to raise his jug
below the ledge of tiles and stone before his window. The
strings by which this was effected he had found means
to cover with that moss which generally grows on tiles,
or in the crannies of the walls.
Gryphus suspected nothing, and the device succeeded
for eight days. One morning, however, when Cornelius,
absorbed in the contemplation of his bulb, from which
a germ of vegetation was already peeping forth, had not
heard old Gryphus coming upstairs, as a gale of wind
was blowing which shook the whole tower, the door
Gryphus, perceiving an unknown and consequently a
forbidden object in the hands of his prisoner, pounced
THE BLACK TULIP. 159
upon it, with the same rapidity as the hawk on its
As ill luck would have it, his coarse, hard hand the
same which he had broken, and which Cornelius van
Baerle had set so well grasped at once in the midst of
the jug on the spot where the bulb was lying in the soil.
" What have you got here?" he roared. "Ah!
have I caught you ? " And with this he grubbed in the
" I ? Nothing, nothing," cried Cornelius, trembling.
"Ah! have I caught you? a jug, and earth in it;
there is some criminal secret at the bottom of all this."
" O my good Master Gryphus," said Van Baerle
imploringly, and anxious, like the partridge robbed of
her young by the reaper.
In fact, Gryphus was beginning to dig the soil with
his crooked fingers.
' Take care, sir, take care," said Cornelius, growing
" Care of what ? zounds ! of what ? " roared the
" Take care, I say ; you will crush it, Master Gryphus ! "
And with a rapid and almost frantic movement he
snatched the jug from the hands of Gryphus, and hid
it like a treasure under his arms.
But Gryphus, obstinate, like an old man, and more
and more convinced that he was discovering here a con-
spiracy against the Prince of Orange, rushed up to his
prisoner, raising his stick ; seeing, however, the impas-
sible resolution of the captive to protect his flower-pot,
he was convinced that Cornelius trembled much less for
his head than for his jug.
He, therefore, tried to wrest it from him by force.
i6o THE BLACK TULIP.
" Halloa ! " said the jailer, furious, " here you
you are rebelling."
" Leave me my tulip," cried Van Baerle.
" Ah yes, tulip," replied the old man ; " we know well
the shifts of prisoners."
" But I vow to you "
" Let go," repeated Gryphus, stamping his foot- -"let
go, or I shall call the guard."
" Call whoever you like, but you shall not have this
flower except with my life."
Gryphus, exasperated, plunged his finger a second
time into the soil ; and now he drew out the bulb, which
certainly looked quite black ; and whilst Van Baerle,
quite happy to have saved the vessel, did not suspect
that the adversary had possessed himself of its precious
contents, Gryphus hurled the softened bulb with all his
force on the flags, where, almost immediately after, it
was crushed to atoms under his heavy shoe.
Van Baerle saw the work of destruction, got a glimpse
of the juicy remains of his darling bulb, and, guessing
the cause of the ferocious joy of Gryphus, uttered a cry
of agony which would have melted the heart even of
that ruthless jailer who some years before killed Pel-
The idea of striking down this spiteful bully passed
like lightning through the brain of the tulip-fancier.
The blood rushed to his brow, and seemed like fire in his
eyes, which blinded him ; and he raised in his two hands
the heavy jug with all the now useless earth which re-
mained in it. One instant more, and he would have
flung it on the bald head of old Gryphus.
But a cry stopped him a cry of agony, uttered by
poor Rosa, who, trembling and pale, with her arms raised
THE BLACK TULIP. 161
to heaven, made her appearance behind the grated
window, and thus interposed between her father and
Gryphus then understood the danger with which he
had been threatened, and he broke out in a volley of
the most terrible abuse.
"Indeed," said Cornelius to him, " you must be a
very mean and spiteful fellow, to rob a poor prisoner of
his only consolation, a tulip bulb."
" For shame, my father," Rosa chimed in ; " it is indeed
a crime you have committed here."
" Ah, is that you, my little chatterbox ? " the old man
cried, boiling with rage and turning towards her ; " don't
you meddle with what don't concern you, but go down
as quickly as possible."
" Unfortunate me," continued Cornelius, overwhelmed
" After all, it is but a tulip," Gryphus resumed, as he
began to be a little ashamed of himself. " You may
have as many tulips as you like ; I have three hundred of
them in my loft."
" To the devil with your tulips ! " cried Cornelius ;
" you are worthy of each other. Had I a hundred thou-
sand millions of them, I would gladly give them for the
one which you have just destroyed ! "
" Ah ! so," Gryphus said, in a tone of triumph ; " now,
there we have it. It was not your tulip you cared for.
There was in that false bulb some witchcraft perhaps
some means of correspondence with conspirators against
his Highness who has granted you your life. I always
said they were wrong in not cutting your head off."
" Father, father ! " cried Rosa.
" Yes, yes ; it is better as it is now," repeated Gryphus,
162 THE BLACK TULIP.
growing warm ; ' " I have destroyed it, and I'll do the
same again, as often as you repeat the trick. Didn't I
tell you, my fine fellow, that I would make your life a
hard one ? "
" A curse on you ! " Cornelius exclaimed, quite beyond
himself with despair, as he gathered, with his trembling
fingers, the remnants of that bulb on which he had rested
so many joys and so many hopes.
" We shall plant the other to-morrow, my dear Mynheer
Cornelius," said Rosa, in a low voice, who understood
the intense grief of the unfortunate tulip-fancier, and
who, with the pure sacred love of her innocent heart,
poured these kind words, like a drop of balm, on the
bleeding wounds of Cornelius.
ROSA had scarcely pronounced these consolatory words,
when a voice was heard from the staircase, asking Gryphus
how matters were going on.
" Do you hear, father ? " said Rosa.
" What ? "
" Master Jacob calls you ; he is uneasy."
" There was such a noise," said Gryphus ; " wouldn't
you have thought he would murder me, this doctor ?
They are always very troublesome fellows, these
Then, pointing with his finger towards the staircase,
he said to Rosa, " Just lead the way, Miss c "
After this, he locked the door and called out, " I shall
be with you directly, friend Jacob."
Poor Cornelius, thus left alone with his bitter grief,
muttered to himself,
" Ah ! you old hangman, it is me you have trodden
under foot; you have murdered me; I shall not sur-
vive it ! "
And certainly the unfortunate prisoner would have
fallen ill, but for the counterpoise which Providence had
granted to his grief, and which was called Rosa.
164 THE BLACK TULIP.
In the evening she came back. Her first words an-
nounced to Cornelius that henceforth her father
would no longer make any objection to his cultivating
" And how do you know that ? " the prisoner asked,
with a doleful look.
" I know it, because he has said so."
" To deceive me, perhaps/'
"No; he repents."
" Ah ! yes, but too late."
" This repentance is not of himself."
" And who put it into him ? "
" If you only knew how his friend scolded him."
" Ah, Master Jacob. He does not leave you, then, that
Master Jacob ? "
" At any rate, he leaves us as little as he can help."
Saying this, she smiled in such a way that the little
cloud of jealousy which had darkened the brow of Cor-
nelius speedily vanished.
" How was it ? " asked the prisoner.
" Well, being asked by his friend, my father told at
supper the whole story of the tulip, or rather of the bulb,
and of his own fine exploit of crushing it."
Cornelius heaved a sigh, which might have been
called a groan.
" Had you only seen Master Jacob at that moment ! "
continued Rosa. " I really thought he would set fire to
the castle ; his eyes were like two flaming torches, his
hair stood on end, and he clenched his fist for a moment ;
I thought he would have strangled my father.
" ' You have done that/ he cried ; ' you have crushed
the bulb ? '
" ' Indeed I have/
THE BLACK TULIP. 165
' It is infamous/ said Master Jacob, ' it is odious !
You have committed a great crime ! '
" My father was quite dumbfounded.
" ' Are you mad, too ? ' he asked his friend."
" Oh ! what a worthy man is this Master Jacob,"
muttered Cornelius " an honest soul, an excellent heart,
that he is."
" The truth is, that it is impossible to treat a man
more rudely than he did my father : he was really quite
in despair, repeating over and over again,
" ' Crushed, crushed the bulb ; my God, my God !
crushed ! '
" Then, turning towards me he asked, ' But it was
not the only one that he had ? ' '
" Did he ask that ? " inquired Cornelius, with some
" ' You think it was not the only one ? ' said my
father. ' Very well; we shall search for the others.'
" ' You will search for the others ? ' cried Jacob,
taking my father by the collar ; but he immediately
loosed him. Then turning towards me, he continued
asking, ' And what did that poor young man say ? '
" I did not know what to answer, as you had so strictly
enjoined me never to allow any one to guess the interest
which you are taking in the bulb. Fortunately, my
father saved me from the difficulty, by chiming in,
" ' What did he say ? Didn't he fume and fret ? '
" I interrupted him, saying, ' Was it not natural that he
should be furious, you were so unjust and brutal, father ? '
" ' Well, now, are you mad ? ' cried my father ;
' what immense misfortune is it to crush a tulip-bulb ?
You may buy a hundred of them in the market of
166 THE BLACK TULIP.
" ' Perhaps some less precious one than that was/ I
" And what did Jacob say or do at these words?"
" At these words, if I must say it, his eyes seemed
to flash like lightning."
" But," said Cornelius, " that was not all ; I am sure
he said something in his turn."
" ' So then, my pretty Rosa/ he said, with a voice as
sweet as honey ' so you think that bulb to have been a
precious one ? '
" I saw that I had made a blunder.
" ' What do I know ? ' I said negligently ; ' do I under-
stand anything of tulips ? I only know as unfortu-
nately it is our lot to live with prisoners that for them
any pastime is of value. This poor Mynheer van Baerle
amused himself with this bulb. Well, I think it very
cruel to take from him the only thing that he could have
amused himself with/
" ' But, first of all/ said my father, ' we ought to know
how he has contrived to procure this bulb/
" I turned my eyes away to avoid my father's look ;
but I met those of Jacob.
" It was as if he had tried to read my thoughts at the
bottom of my heart.
" Some little show of anger sometimes saves an answer.
I shrugged my shoulders, turned my back, and advanced
towards the door.
" But I was kept by something which I heard, although
it was uttered in a very low voice only.
" Jacob said to my father,
" ' It would not be so difficult to ascertain that/
" ' How so ? '
THE BLACK TULIP. 167
" ' You need only search his person ; and if he has
the other bulbs, we shall find them, as there usually are
three suckers ! ' "
" Three suckers ! " cried Cornelius; " did he say that
I have three ? "
" The word certainly struck me just as much as it
does you. I turned round. They were both of them
so deeply engaged in their conversation that they did
not observe my movement.
" ' But/ said my father, ' perhaps he has not got his
bulbs about him/
" ' Then take him down, under some pretext or other,
and I will search his cell in the meanwhile/ '
" Halloa, halloa ! " said Cornelius ; " but this Mr.
Jacob of yours is a villain, it seems."
" I am afraid he is."
" Tell me, Rosa," continued Cornelius, with a pen-
14 What ? "
" Did not you tell me that on the day when you pre-
pared your border this man followed you ? "
" So he did."
" That he glided like a shadow behind the elder-
trees ? "
" That not one of your movements escaped him ? "
" Not one, indeed."
" Rosa," said Cornelius, growing quite pale.
" Well ? "
" It was not you he was after."
" Who else, then ? "
" It is not you that he is in love with."
" But with whom else ? "
168 THE BLACK TULIP.
" He was after my bulb, and is in love with my tulip ! "
" You don't say so ! and yet it is very possible," said
" Will you make sure of it ? "
" In what manner ? "
" Oh ! it would be very easy."
" Tell me."
*' Go to-morrow into the garden ; manage matters so
that Jacob may know, as he did the first time, that you
are going there, and that he may follow you. Feign to
put the bulb in the ground ; leave the garden ; but look
through the keyhole of the door and watch him."
" Well, and what then ? "
" What then ? We shall do as he does."
" Oh ! " said Rosa with a sigh, " you are very fond of
" To tell the truth," said the prisoner, sighing like-
wise, " since your father crushed that unfortunate bulb
I feel as if part of my own self had been paralyzed."
" Now just hear me," said Rosa ; " will you try some-
thing else ? "
" What ? "
" Will you accept the proposition of my father ? "
" Which proposition ? "
" Did not he offer to you tulip-bulbs by hundreds ? "
" Indeed he did."
" Accept two or three, and, along with them, you may
grow the third sucker."
" Yes, that would do very well," said Cornelius, knit-
ting his brow, " if your father were alone ; but there is
that Master Jacob, who watches all our ways."
" Well, that is true ; but only think : you are depriv-
ing yourself, as I can easily see, of a vety great pleasure."
THE BLACK TULIP. 169
She pronounced these words with a smile, which was
not altogether without a tinge of irony.
Cornelius reflected for a moment ; he evidently was
struggling against some vehement desire.
" No ! " he cried at last, with the stoicism of a Roman
of old " no, it would be a weakness, it would be a folly,
it would be a meanness ! If I thus gave up the only and
last resource which we possess to the uncertain chances
of the bad passions of anger and envy, I should never
deserve to be forgiven. No, Rosa, no ; to-morrow we
shall come to a conclusion as to the spot to be chosen
for your tulip ; you will plant it according to my instruc-
tions. And as to the third sucker " Cornelius here
heaved a deep sigh " watch over it, as a miser over
his first or last piece of gold ; as the mother over her
child ; as the wounded over the last drop of blood in
his veins ; watch over it, Rosa ! Some voice within me
tells me that it will be our saving, that it will be a source
of good to us."
" Be easy, Mynheer Cornelius," said Rosa, with a
sweet mixture of melancholy and gravity "be easy;
your wishes are commands to me."
" And even," continued Van Baerle, warming more
and more with his subject, " if you should perceive that
your steps are watched, and that your speech has excited
the suspicion of your father and of that detestable Master
Jacob, well, Rosa, don't hesitate for one moment to
sacrifice me, who am only still living through you me,
who have no one in the world but you ; sacrifice me,
don't come to see me any more."
Rosa felt her heart sink within her, and her eyes were
filling with tears.
" Alas ! " she said.
170 THE BLACK TULIP.
" What is it ? " asked Cornelius.
" I see one thing/*
" What do you see ? "
" I see/* she said, bursting out in sobs " I see that
you love your tulips with such love as to have no more
room in your heart left for other affections."
Saying this, she fled.
Cornelius, after this, passed one of the worst nights
he ever had had in his life.
Rosa was vexed with him, and with good reason.
Perhaps she would never return to see the prisoner,
and then he would have no more news either of Rosa or
of his tulips.
We have to confess, to the disgrace of our hero and
of floriculture, that of his two affections he felt most
strongly inclined to regret the loss of Rosa ; and when,
at about three in the morning, he fell asleep, overcome
with fatigue and harassed with remorse, the grand black
tulip yielded precedence in his dreams to the sweet blue
eyes of the fair maid of Friesland.
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
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 appear-
ance 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 read-
ing 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
172 THE BLACK TULIP.
reading poor Cornelius De Witte's Bible, on the second
fly-leaf of which the last will of Cornelius van Baerle
" Alas ! " she muttered, when perusing again this docu-
ment, which she never finished without a tear, the pearl
of love, rolling from her limpid eyes on her blanched
cheeks ; " alas ! at that time I thought for one moment
he loved me."
Poor Rosa ! she was mistaken. Never had the love
of the prisoner been more sincere than at the time at
which we are now arrived, when in the contest between
the black tulip and Rosa, the tulip had had to yield to
her the first and foremost place in Cornelius's heart.
But Rosa was not aware of it.
Having finished reading, she took her pen, and began
with as laudable diligence the by far more difficult task
As, however, Rosa was already able to write a legible
hand when Cornelius so incautiously opened his heart,
she did not despair of progressing quickly enough to
write after eight days at the latest to the prisoner an
account of his tulip.
She had not forgotten one word of the directions
given to her by Cornelius, whose speeches she treasured
in her heart, even when they did not take the shape of
He, on his part, awoke deeper in love than ever.
The tulip, indeed, was still a luminous and prominent
object in his mind ; but he no longer looked upon it as
a treasure to which he ought to sacrifice everything,
arid even Rosa, but as a marvellous combination of
nature and art, with which he would have been happy
to adorn the bosom of his beloved one.
THE BLACK TULIP. 173
Yet during the whole of that day he was haunted
with a vague uneasiness, at the bottom of which was
the fear lest Rosa should not come in the evening to
pay him her usual visit. This thought took more and
more hold of him, until at the approach of evening his
whole mind was absorbed in it.
How his heart beat when darkness closed in. The
words which he had said to Rosa on the evening before,
and which had so deeply afflicted her, came now back
to his mind more vividly than ever ; and he asked him-
self how he could have told his gentle comforter to
sacrifice him to his tulip that is to say, to give up, if
needs be, seeing him whereas to him the sight of Rosa
had become a condition of life.
In Cornelius's cell one heard the chimes of the clock
of the fortress. It struck seven, it struck eight, it struck
nine. Never did the metal voice vibrate more forcibly
through the heart of any man than did the last stroke,
marking the ninth hour, through the heart of Cornelius.
All was then silent again. Cornelius put his hand
on his heart, to repress, as it were, its violent palpitation,
The noise of her footstep, the rustling of her gown
on the staircase, were so familiar to his ear, that she
had no sooner mounted one step than he used to say
" Here comes Rosa."
This evening none of those little noises broke the
silence of the lobby ; the clock struck nine, and a quarter ;
the half hour ; then a quarter to ten ; and at last its
deep tone announced, not only to the inmates of the
fortress, but also to all the inhabitants of Lcevestein,
that it was ten.
174 THE BLACK TULIP.
This was the hour at which Rosa generally used to
leave Cornelius. The hour had struck, but Rosa had
Thus, then, his foreboding had not deceived him :
Rosa, being vexed, shut herself up in her room and left
him to himself.
" Alas ! " he thought, " I have deserved all this. She
will come no more. And she is right in staying away ;
in her place I should do just the same."
Yet notwithstanding all this, Cornelius listened,
waited, and hoped until midnight ; then he threw
himself, in his clothes, on his bed.
It was a long and sad night for him ; and the day
brought no hope to the prisoner.
At eight in the morning the door of his cell opened ;
but Cornelius did not even turn his head ; he had heard
the heavy step of Gryphus in the lobby, but this step
had perfectly satisfied the prisoner that his jailer was
Thus Cornelius did not even look at Gryphus.
And yet he would have been so glad to draw him out,
and to inquire about Rosa. He even very nearly made
this inquiry, strange as it would needs have appeared to
her father. To tell the truth, there was in all this some
selfish hope, to hear from Gryphus that his daughter
Except on extraordinary occasions, Rosa never came
during the day. Cornelius, therefore, did not really
expect her, as long as the day lasted. Yet his sudden
starts, his listening at the door, his rapid glances, at
every little noise, towards the grated window, showed
clearly that the prisoner entertained some latent hope
that Rosa would, somehow or other, break her rule.
THE BLACK TULIP. 175
At the second visit of Gryphus, Cornelius, contrary
to all his former habits, asked the old jailer, with the
most winning voice, about her health ; but Gryphus
contented himself with giving the laconical answer,
" All's well."
At the third visit of the day, Cornelius changed his
" I hope nobody is ill at Lcevestein ? "
" Nobody/' replied, even more laconically, the jailer,
shutting the door before the nose of the prisoner.
Gryphus, being little used to this sort of civility on
the part of Cornelius, began to suspect that his prisoner
was about to try and bribe him.
Cornelius now was alone once more ; it was seven
o'clock in the evening, and the anxiety of yesterday
returned with increased intensity.
But another time the hours passed away without
bringing the sweet vision which lighted up through the
grated window the cell of poor Cornelius, and which,
in retiring, left light enough in his heart to last until it
came back again.
Van Baerle passed the night in an agony of despair.
On the following day Gryphus appeared to him even
more hideous, brutal, and hateful than usual : in his
mind, or rather in his heart, there had been some hope
that it was the old man who prevented his daughter
In his wrath he would have strangled Gryphus, but
would not this have separated him for ever from Rosa ?
The evening closing in, his despair changed into
melancholy, which was the more gloomy as, involun-
tarily, Van Baerle mixed up with it the thought of his
poor tulip. It was now just that week in April which
176 THE BLACK TULIP.
the most experienced gardeners point out as the pre-
cise time when tulips ought to be planted. He had
said to Rosa,
" I shall tell you the day when you are to put the bulb
in the ground."
He had intended to fix, at the vainly hoped-for inter-
view, the following day as the time for that momentous
operation. The weather was propitious ; the air,
although still damp, began to be tempered by those
pale rays of the April sun which, being the first, appear
so congenial, although so pale. How, if Rosa allowed
the right moment for planting the bulb to pass by ?
If, in addition to the grief of seeing her no more, he
should have to deplore the misfortune of seeing his tulip
fail on account of its having been planted too late, or
of its not having been planted at all !
These two vexations, combined, might well make him
leave off eating and drinking.
This was the case on the fourth day.
It was pitiful to see Cornelius, dumb with grief, and
pale from utter prostration, stretch out his head through
the iron bars of his window, at the risk of not being
able to draw it back again, to try and get a glimpse of
the garden on the left, spoken of by Rosa, who had told
him that its parapet overlooked the river. He hoped
that perhaps he might see, in the light of the April sun,
Rosa, or the tulip, the two lost objects of his love.
In the evening Gryphus took away the breakfast
and dinner of Cornelius, who had scarcely touched them.
On the following day he did not touch them at all,
and Gryphus carried the dishes away just as he had
Cornelius had remained in bed the whole day.
THE BLACK TULIP. 177
11 Well," said Gryphus, coming down from the last
visit, " I think we shall soon get rid of our scholar."
Rosa was startled.
" Nonsense," said Jacob ; " what do you mean ? "
" He doesn't drink, he doesn't eat, he doesn't leave
his bed. He will get out of it, like Mynheer Grotius,
in a chest ; only the chest will be a coffin."
Rosa grew as pale as death.
'* Ah ! " she said to herself, " he is uneasy about his
And rising with a heavy heart, she returned to her
chamber, where she took a pen and paper, and, during
the whole of that night, busied herself with tracing
On the following morning, when Cornelius got up to
drag himself to the window, he perceived a paper which
had been slipped under the door.
He pounced upon it, opened it, and read the following
words, in a handwriting which he could scarcely have
recognized as that of Rosa, so much had she improved
during her short absence of seven days,
" Be easy, your tulip is going on well."
Although these few words of Rosa's somewhat soothed
the grief of Cornelius, yet he felt not the less the irony
which was at the bottom of them. Rosa, then, was not
ill, she was offended ; she had not been forcibly pre-
vented from coming, but had voluntarily stayed away.
Thus Rosa, being at liberty, found in her own will the
force not to come and see him, who was dying with grief
at not having seen her.
Cornelius had paper and a pencil which Rosa had
brought to him. He guessed that she expected an
answer, but that she would not come before the evening
178 THE BLACK TULIP.
to fetch it. He therefore wrote on a piece of paper,
similar to that which he had received,
" It was not my anxiety about the tulip that has made
me ill, but grief at not seeing you."
After Gryphus had made his last visit of the day,
and darkness had set in, he slipped the paper under
tne door, and listened with the most intense attention ;
but he neither heard Rosa's footsteps nor the rustling
of her gown.
He only heard a voice as feeble as a breath, and gentle
like a caress, which whispered through the grated little
window in the door the word,
Now to-morrow was the eighth day. For eight days
Cornelius and Rosa had not seen each other.
THE EVENTS WHICH TOOK PLACE DURING THOSE
ON the following evening, at the usual hour, Van Baerle
heard some one scratch at the grated little window, just
as Rosa had been in the habit of doing in the hey-day
of their friendship.
Cornelius being, as may easily be imagined, not far
off from the door, perceived Rosa, who at last was wait-
ing again for him with her lamp in her hand.
Seeing him so sad and pale she was startled, and
:< You are ill, Mynheer Cornelius ? "
" Yes, I am," he answered, as indeed he was suffering
in mind and in body.
" I saw that you did not eat/" said Rosa ; " my father
told me that you remained in bed all day. I then wrote
to you to calm your uneasiness concerning the fate of
the most precious object of your anxiety."
" And I," said Cornelius, " I have answered. Seeing
you return, my dear Rosa, I thought you had received
" It is true I have received it."
" You cannot this time excuse yourself with not being
i8o THE BLACK TULIP.
able to read. Not only do you read very fluently, but
also you have made marvellous progress in writing."
" Indeed, I have not only received but also read your
note. Accordingly I am come to see whether there
might not be some remedy to restore you to health."
" Restore me to health ? " cried Cornelius. " But have
you any good news to communicate to me ? "
Saying this, the poor prisoner looked at Rosa, his
eyes sparkling with hope.
Whether she did not, or would not, understand this
look, Rosa answered gravely,
" I have only to speak to you about your tulip,
which, as I well know, is the object uppermost in your
Rosa pronounced these few words in a freezing tone,
which cut deeply into the heart of Cornelius. . He did
not suspect what lay hidden under this appearance of
indifference, with which the poor girl affected to speak
of her rival, the black tulip.
" Oh ! " muttered Cornelius, " again ! again ! Have
I not told you, Rosa, that I thought but of you ; that
it was you alone whom I regretted, you whom I missed,
you whose absence I felt more than the loss of liberty
and of life itself ? "
Rosa smiled with a melancholy air.
" Ah ! " she said, " your tulip has been in such
Cornelius trembled involuntarily, and allowed himself
to be caught in the trap, if ever the remark was meant
" Danger ! " he cried, quite alarmed ; " what danger ? "
Rosa looked at him with gentle compassion ; she felt
that what she wished was beyond the power of this
THE BLACK TULIP. 181
man, and that he must be taken as he was, with his little
" Yes," she said, " you have guessed the truth : that
suitor and amorous swain, Jacob, did not come on my
" And what did he come f or ? " Cornelius anxiously
" He came for the sake of the tulip."
" Alas ! " said Cornelius, growing even paler at this
piece of information than he had been when Rosa, a
fortnight before, had told him that Jacob was coming
for her sake.
Rosa saw this alarm, and Cornelius guessed, from the
expression of her face, in what direction her thoughts
" Oh ! pardon me, Rosa," he said, " I know you, and
I am well aware of the kindness and sincerity of your
heart. To you God has given the thought and strength
for defending yourself, but to my poor tulip, when it is
in danger, God has given nothing of the sort."
Rosa, without replying to t)iis excuse of the prisoner,
" From the moment when I first knew that you were
uneasy on account of the man who followed me, and in
whom I had recognized Jacob, I was even more uneasy
myself. On the day, therefore, after that on which I
saw you last, and on which you said "
Cornelius interrupted her.
" Once more, pardon me, Rosa ! " he cried. " I was
wrong in saying to you what I said. I have asked your
pardon for that unfortunate speech before; I ask it
again. Shall I always ask it in vain ? "
"On the following day," Rosa continued, " remem-
182 THE BLACK TULIP.
bering what you had told me about the stratagem which
I was to employ to ascertain whether that odious man
was after the tulip or after me "
" Yes, yes, odious. Tell me," he said, " do you hate
that man ? "
" I do hate him," said Rosa, " as he is the cause
of all the unhappiness I have suffered these eight
" You, too, have been unhappy, Rosa ? I thank you
a thousand times for this kind confession."
" Well, on the day after that unfortunate one, I
went down into the garden, and proceeded towards the
border where I was to plant your tulip, looking round
all the while to see whether I was again followed as I
was last time."
" And then ? " Cornelius asked,
" And then the same shadow glided between the gate
and the wall, and once more disappeared behind the
" You feigned not to see him, didn't you ? " Cornelius
asked, remembering all tie details of the advice which
he had given to Rosa.
" Yes, and I stooped over the border, in which I dug
with a spade, as if I was going to put the bulb in."
" And he what did he do during all this time ? "
" I saw his eyes glisten through the branches of the
tree, like those of a tiger/'"
" There you see, there you see ! " cried Cornelius.
" Then, after having finished my make-believe work,
" But only behind the garden door, I dare say, so
that you might see through the keyhole what he was
going to do when you had left ? "
THE BLACK TULIP. 183
" He waited for a moment, very likely to make sure
of my not coming back ; after which he sneaked forth
from his hiding-place, and approached the border by a
long roundabout. At last, having reached his goal that
is to say, the spot where the ground was newly turned
he stopped with a careless air, looking about in all
directions, and scanning every corner of the garden,
every window of the neighbouring houses, and even the
sky ; after which, thinking himself quite alone, quite
isolated, and out of everybody's sight, he pounced upon
the border, plunged both his hands into the soft soil,
took a handful of the mould, which he gently frittered
between his fingers to see whether the bulb was in it,
and repeated the same thing twice or three times, until
at last he perceived that he was outwitted. Then,
.keeping down the agitation which was raging hi his
breast, he took up the rake, smoothed the ground so as
to leave it, on his retiring, in the same state as he had
found it, and, quite abashed and rueful, walked back to
the door, affecting the unconcerned air of an ordinary
visitor of the garden."
" Oh ! the wretch," muttered Cornelius, wiping the
cold sweat from his brow. " Oh ! the wretch. I
guessed his intentions. But the sucker, Rosa ; what
have you done with it ? It is already rather late to
" The sucker ? It has been in the ground for these
" Where ? and how ? " cried Cornelius. " Good
Heaven ! what imprudence. Where is it ? In what
sort of soil is it ? In what aspect ? Good or bad ? Is
there no risk of having it filched by that detestable
Jacob ? "
184 THE BLACK TULIP.
" There is no danger of its being stolen/' said Rosa,
" unless Jacob will force the door of my chamber."
" Oh ! then it is with you in your bedroom ? " said
Cornelius, somewhat relieved. " But in what soil ? in
what vessel ? You don't let it grow, I hope, in water,
like those good ladies of Haarlem and Dort, who imagine
that water could replace the earth ? "
" You may make yourself comfortable on that score,"
said Rosa, smiling ; " your sucker is not growing in
" I breathe again."
" It is in a good sound stone-pot, Just about the size
of the jug in which you had planted yours. The soil
is composed of three parts of common mould, taken
from the best spot of the garden, and one of the sweep-
ings of the road. I have heard you and that detestable
Jacob, as you call him, so often talk about what is the
soil best fitted for growing tulips, that I know it as well
as the first gardener of Haarlem."
" And now, what is the aspect, Rosa ? "
" At present it has the sun all day long that is to
say, when the sun shines. But when it once peeps out
of the ground, I shall do, as you have done here, dear
Mynheer Cornelius, I shall put it out in my window, on
the eastern side, from eight in the morning until eleven,
and in my window, towards the west, from three to five
in the afternoon."
" That's it, that's it," said Cornelius ; " and you are a
perfect gardener, my pretty Rosa. But I am afraid the
nursing of my tulip will take up all your time/'
" Yes, it will," said Rosa ; " but never mind. Your
tulip is my daughter. I shall devote to it the same time
as I should to a child of mine, if I were a mother. Only
THE BLACK TULIP. 185
by becoming its mother," Rosa added, smilingly, " can I
cease to be its rival."
" My kind and pretty Rosa ! " muttered Cornelius,
casting on her a glance in which there was much more
of the lover than of the gardener, and which afforded
Rosa some consolation.
Then, after a silence of some moments, during which
Cornelius had grasped through the openings of the
grating for the receding hand of Rosa, he said,
" Do you mean to say that the bulb has now been in
the ground for six days ? "
" Yes, six days, Mynheer Cornelius," she answered.
" And it does not yet show leaf ? "
" No ; but I think it will to-morrow."
" Well, then, to-morrow you will bring me news about
, it, and about yourself, won't you, Rosa ? I care very
much for the daughter, as you called it just now, but I
care even much more for the mother."
" To-morrow ? " said Rosa, looking at Cornelius
askance ; " ! don't know whether I shall be able to-
" Good heavens ! " said Cornelius, " why can't you
come to-morrow ? "
" Mynheer Cornelius, I have lots of things to do."
" And 1 have only one," muttered Cornelius.
" Yes," said Rosa" to love your tulip."
" To love you, Rosa."
Rosa shook her head, after which followed a pause.
" Well "Cornelius at last broke the silence" well,
Rosa, everything changes in the realm of nature. The
flowers of spring are succeeded by other flowers ; and
the bees, which so tenderly caressed the violets and the
wallflowers, will flutter with just as much love about
186 THE BLACK TULIP.
the honeysuckles, the rose, the jessamine, and the
" What does all this mean ? " asked Rosa.
" You have abandoned me, Miss Rosa, to seek your
pleasure elsewhere. You have done well, and I will not
complain. What claim have I to your fidelity ? "
" My fidelity ! " Rosa exclaimed, with her eyes full
of tears, and without caring any longer to hide from
Cornelius this dew of pearls dropping on her cheeks
" my fidelity ! have I not been faithful to you ? "
" Do you call it faithful to desert me, and to leave me
here to die ? "
" But, Mynheer Cornelius," said Rosa, " am I not
doing everything for you that could give you pleasure ?
Have I not devoted myself to your tulip ? "
" You are bitter, Rosa ; you reproach me with the
only unalloyed pleasure which I have had in this
" I reproach you with nothing, Mynheer Cornelius,
except, perhaps, with the intense grief which I felt
when people came to tell me at the Buitenhof that you
were about to be put to death."
" You are displeased, Rosa, my sweet girl, with my
" I am not displeased with your loving them, Mynheer
Cornelius, only it make . me sad to think that you love
them better than you do me."
"O my dear, dear Rosa, look how my hands
tremble ; look at my pale cheek ; hear how my heart
beats ! It is for you, my love, not for the black tulip.
Destroy the bulb, destroy the germ of that flower, ex-
tinguish the gentle light of that innocent and delightful
dream to which I have accustomed myself; but love
THE BLACK TULIP. 187
me, Rosa, love me; for I feel deeply that I love but
" Yes, after the black tulip," sighed Rosa, who at
last no longer coyly withdrew her warm hands from the
grating, as Cornelius most affectionately kissed them.
" Above and before everything in this world, Rosa."
" May I believe you ? "
" As you believe in your own existence."
" Well, then, be it so ; but loving me does not bind
you to much."
" Unfortunately it does not bind me more than I am
bound, but it binds you, Rosa, you."
" To what ? "
" First of all, not to marry."
t "That's your way/' she said; "you are tyrants, all
of you. You worship a certain beauty; you think of
nothing but her. Then you are condemned to death,
and whilst walking to the scaffold you devote to her
your last sigh ; and now you expect poor me to sacrifice
to you all my dreams and my happiness."
" But who is the beauty you are talking of, Rosa ? "
said Cornelius, trying in vain to remember a woman to
whom Rosa might possibly be alluding.
"The dark beauty, with a slender waist, small feet,
and a noble head: in short, I am speaking of your
"That is an imaginary lady love, at all events;
whereas, without counting that amorous Master Jacob,
you, by your own account, are surrounded with all sorts
of swains eager to make love to you. Do you remember,
Rosa, what you told me of the students, officers, and
z88 THE BLACK TULIP.
clerks of the Hague ? Are there no clerks, officers, or
students at Loevestein ? "
" Indeed there are, and lots of them."
" Who write letters ? "
" They do write."
" And now, as you know how to read "
Here Cornelius heaved a sigh at the thought that,
poor captive as he was, to him alone Rosa owed the
faculty of reading the love-letters which she received.
" As to that/' said Rosa, " I think that in reading the
notes addressed to me, and passing the different swains
in review who sent them to me, I am only following
" How so ? My instructions ? "
" Indeed, your instructions, sir," said Rosa, sighing in
her turn. " Have you forgotten the will written by your
hand on the Bible of Cornelius de Witte ? I have not
forgotten it ; for now, as I know how to read, I read it
every day over and over again. In that will you bid
me to love and marry a handsome young man of twenty-
six or eight years. I am on the lookout for that young
man, and as the whole of my day is taken up with your
tulip, you must needs leave me the evenings to find
" But, Rosa, the will was made in the expectation of
death, and, thanks to Heaven, I am still alive."
" Well, then, I shall not be after the handsome young
man, and I shall come and see you."
" That's it, Rosa ; come, come ! "
"Under one condition."
" Granted beforehand ! "
"That the black tulip shall not be mentioned for the
next three days."
THE BLACK TULIP. 189
" It shall never be mentioned any more, if you wish
" No, no," the damsel said, laughing ; " I will not ask
And saying this, she brought her fresh cheek, as if
unconsciously, so near the iron grating that Cornelius
was able to touch it with his lips.
Rosa uttered a little scream, which, however, was full
of love, and disappeared.
THE SECOND SUCKER.
THE night was a happy one, and the whole of the next
day happier still.
During the last few days the prison had been heavy,
dark, and lowering, as it were, with all its weight on
the unfortunate captive. Its walls were black, its air
chilling; the iron bars seemed to exclude every ray of
But when Cornelius awoke next morning, a beam of
the morning sun was playing about those iron bars ;
pigeons were hovering about with outspread wings, whilst
others were lovingly cooing on the roof or near the still
Cornelius ran to that window and opened it ; it
seemed to him as if new life, and joy, and liberty itself
were entering, with this sunbeam, into his cell, which,
so dreary of late, was now cheered and irradiated by
the light of love.
When Gryphus, therefore, came to see his prisoner
in the morning, he no longer found him morose and
lying in bed, but standing at the window and singing a
" Halloa i " exclaimed the jailer.
" How are you this morning ? " asked Cornelius.
THE BLACK TULIP. 191
Gryphus looked at him with a scowl.
" And how is the dog, and Master Jacob, and our
pretty Rosa ? "
Gryphus ground his teeth, saying,
" Here is your breakfast."
" Thank you, friend Cerberus," said the prisoner ;
" you are just in time I am very hungry."
" Oh, you are hungry, are you ? " said Gryphus.
" And why not ? " asked Van Baerle.
"The conspiracy seemed to thrive," remarked Gry-
" What conspiracy ? "
"Very well, I know what I know, Master Scholar.
Just be quiet ; we shall be on our guard."
"Be on your guard, friend Gryphus be on your
guard as long as you please ; my conspiracy as well as
my person is entirely at your service."
"We'll see that at noon."
Saying this, Gryphus went out.
" At noon ! " repeated Cornelius ; " what does that
mean ? Well, let us wait until the clock strikes twelve,
and we shall see."
It was very easy for Cornelius to wait for twelve at
midday, as he was already waiting for nine at night.
It struck twelve, and there were heard on the stair-
case, not only the steps of Gryphus, but also those of
three or four soldiers who were coming up with him.
The door opened, Gryphus entered, led his men in,
and shut the door after them.
" There, now search ! "
They searched not only the pockets of Cornelius, but
even his person ; yet they found nothing.
Then they searched the sheets, the mattress* and the
192 THE BLACK TULIP.
straw mattress of his bed; and again they found
Now Cornelius rejoiced that he had not taken the
third sucker under his own care. Gryphus would have
been sure to ferret it out in the search, and would then
have treated it as he did the first.
And certainly never did prisoner look with greater
complacency at a search made in his cell than Cornelius.
Gryphus retired with the pencil and the two or three
leaves of white paper which Rosa had given to Van
Baerle ; this was the only trophy brought back from the
At six Gryphus came again, but alone. Cornelius
tried to propitiate him ; but Gryphus growled, showed
a large tooth like a tusk, which he had in the corner of
his mouth, and went out backwards like a man who is
afraid of being attacked from behind.
Cornelius burst out laughing; to which Gryphus
answered through the grating,
" Let him laugh that wins."
The winner that day was Cornelius Rosa carne at
She was without a lantern. She needed no longer a
light, as she could now read. Moreover, the light might
betray her, as Jacob was dodging her steps more than
ever. And, lastly, the light would have shown her
Of what did the young people speak that evening ?
Of those matters of which lovers speak at the house
doors in France, or from a balcony into the street in
Spain, or down from a terrace into a garden in the East.
They spoke of those things which give wings to the
hours ; they spoke of everything except the black tulip.
THE BLACK TULIP. 193
At last, when the clock struck ten, they parted as
Cornelius was happy, as thoroughly happy as a tulip-
fancier would be to whom one has not spoken about
He found Rosa pretty, good, graceful, and charming.
But why did Rosa object to the tulip being spoken
This was indeed a great defect in Rosa.
Cornelius confessed to himself, sighing, that woman
was not perfect.
Part of the night he thought of this imperfection;
that is to say, as long as he was awake he thought of
After having fallen asleep he dreamed of her.
. But the Rosa of his dreams was by far more perfect
than the Rosa of real life. Not only did the Rosa of
his dreams speak of the tulip, but also brought to him
a black one in a china vase.
Cornelius then awoke, trembling with joy and mut-
" Rosa, Rosa, I love you."
And as it was already day, he thought it right not to
fall asleep again, and he continued following up the line
of thought in which his mind was engaged when he
Ah ! if Rosa had only conversed about the tulip, Cor-
nelius would have preferred her to Queen Semiramis, to
Queen Cleopatra, to Queen Elizabeth, to Queen Anne of
Austria that is to say, to the greatest or most beautiful
queens whom the world has seen.
There was one consolation : of the seventy-two hours,
during which Rosa would not allow the tulip to be men-
194 THE BLACK TULIP.
tioned, thirty-six had passed already; and the remain-
ing thirty-six would pass quickly enough eighteen with
waiting for the evening's interview, and eighteen with
rejoicing in its remembrance.
Rosa came at the same hour, and Cornelius submitted
most heroically to the pangs which the compulsory
silence concerning the tulip gave him.
His fair visitor, however, was well aware that to
command on the one hand people must yield on another ;
she therefore no longer drew back her hands from the
grating, and even allowed Cornelius tenderly to kiss her
beautiful golden tresses.
Poor girl! she had no idea that these playful little
lovers' tricks were much more dangerous than speaking
of the tulip was ; but she became aware of the fact as
she returned with a beating heart, with glowing cheeks,
dry lips, and moist eyes.
And on the following evening, after the first exchange
of salutations, she retired a step, looking at him with a
glance the expression of which would have rejoiced his
heart could he but have seen it.
" Well," she said, " she is up."
" She is up ! Who what ? " asked Cornelius, who
did not venture on a belief that Rosa would, of her own
accord, have abridged the term of his probation.
" She ? Well, my daughter, the tulip," said Rosa.
"What!" cried Cornelius, "you give me permission,
then ? "
"I do," said Rosa, with the tone of an affectionate
mother who grants a pleasure to her child.
" Ah, Rosa ! " said Cornelius, putting his lips to the
grating, with the hope of touching a cheek, a hand, a
forehead anything, in short.
THE BLACK TULIP. 195
He touched something much better two warm and
Rosa uttered a slight scream.
Cornelius understood that he must make haste to
continue the conversation. He guessed that this un-
expected kiss had frightened Rosa.
" Is it growing up straight ? " he asked
" Straight as a rocket," said Rosa.
' 'At least two inches."
"O Rosa, take good care of it, and we shall soon see
it grow quickly."
" Can I take more care of it ? " said she. " Indeed I
think of nothing else but the tulip."
"Of nothing else, Rosa? Why, now, I shall grow
jealous in my turn."
" Oh, you know that to think of the tulip is to think
of you ; I never lose sight of it. I see it from my bed ;
on my awaking it is the first object that meets my eyes,
and on falling asleep the last on which they rest. During
the day I sit and work by its side, for I have never left
my chamber since I put it there."
" You are right, Rosa; it is your dowry, you know."
" Yes, and with it I may marry a young man of twenty-
six or twenty-eight years, whom I shall be in love with."
" Don't talk in that way, you naughty girl."
That evening Cornelius was one of the happiest of
men. Rosa allowed him to press her hand in his, and
to keep it as long as he would, besides which he might
talk of his tulip as much as he liked.
From that hour every day marked some progress in
the growth of the tulip and in the affection of the two
196 THE BLACK TULIP.
At one time it was tha the leaves had expanded, and
at another that the flower itself had formed.
Great was the joy of Cornelius at this news, and his
questions succeeded each other with a rapidity which
gave proof of their importance.
' ' Formed ! ' ' exclaimed Cornelius ; " is it really formed ? ' '
" It is," repeated Rosa.
Cornelius trembled with joy, so much so that he was
obliged to hold by the grating.
" Good heavens ! " he exclaimed.
Then turning again to Rosa, he continued his ques-
" Is the oval regular ; the cylinder full ? and are the
points very green ? "
" The oval is almost one inch long, and tapers like a
needle ; the cylinder swells at the sides, and the points
are ready to open."
Two days after, Rosa announced that they were
" Open, Rosa ! " cried Cornelius. " Is the involu-
crum open? But then one may see, and already distin-
Here the prisoner paused, anxiously taking breath.
" Yes," answered Rosa, " one may already distinguish
a thread of different colour, as thin as a hair."
" And its colour ? " asked Cornelius, trembling.
" Oh," answered Rosa, " it is very dark."
"Darker than that."
" Darker, my good Rosa, darker ? Thank you. Dark
" Dark like the ink with which I wrote to you."
Cornelius uttered a cry of mad joy.
THE BLACK TULIP. 197
Then suddenly stopping and clasping his hands, he
"Oh, there is not an angel in heaven that may be
compared to you, Rosa ! "
" Indeed ! " said Rosa, smiling at his enthusiasm.
" Rosa, you have worked with such ardour ; you have
done so much for me. Rosa, my tulip is about to flower,
and it will flower black. Rosa, Rosa, you are the most
perfect being on earth ! "
"After the tulip, though."
" Ah ! be quiet; you malicious little creature, be quiet ;
for shame, do not spoil my pleasure ! But tell me, Rosa :
as the tulip is so far advanced, it will flower in two or
three days at the latest ? "
"To-morrow or the day after."
"Ah! and I shall not see it," cried Cornelius, starting
back; "I shall not kiss it, as a wonderful work of the
Almighty, as I kiss your hand and your cheek, Rosa,
when by chance they are near the grating."
Rosa drew near, not by accident, but intentionally,
and Cornelius kissed her tenderly.
" Faith, I shall cull it, if you wish it."
" Oh, no, no, Rosa ; when it is open place it carefully
in the shade, and immediately send a message to Haarlem,
to the President of the Horticultural Society, that the
grand black tulip is in flower. I know well it is far to
Haarlem, but with money you will find a messenger.
Have you any money, Rosa ? "
"Oh yes," she said.
" Enough ? " asked Cornelius.
" I have three hundred guilders."
"Oh! if you have three hundred guilders, you must
198 THE BLACK TULIP.
not send a messenger, Rosa, but you must go to Haarlem
" But what, in the meanwhile, is to become of the
flower ? "
"Oh, the flower; you must take it with you. You
understand that you must not separate from it for an
" But whilst I am not separating from it I am sepa-
rating from you, Mynheer Cornelius."
" Ah ! that's true, my sweet Rosa. Oh, good
heavens, how wicked men are ! What have I done
to offend them, and why have they deprived me of my
liberty? You are right, Rosa: I cannot live without
you. Well, you will send some one to Haarlem that's
settled; really the matter is wonderful enough for the
President to put himself to some trouble. He will come
himself to Lcevestein to see the tulip."
Then suddenly checking himself, he said with a
" Rosa, Rosa, if after all it should not flower black ! "
" Oh, surely, surely you will know to-morrow, or the
"And to wait until evening to know it, Rosa! I
shall die with impatience. Could we not agree about a
signal ? "
" I shall do better than that."
" What will you do ? "
" If it opens at night, I shall come and tell you myself.
If it is day, I shall pass your door and slip you a note,
either under the door or through the grating, during the
time between my father's first and second inspection."
" Yes, Rosa, let it be so. One word of yours, an-
nouncing this news to me, will be a Joublu
THE BLACK TULIP. 199
" There, ten o'clock strikes," said Rosa ; " I must now
" Yes, yes," said Cornelius ; " go, Rosa, go."
Rosa withdrew, almost melancholy, for Cornelius had
all but sent her away.
It is true that he did so in order that she might watch
over his black tulip.
THE night passed away very sweetly for Cornelius,
although in great agitation. Every instant he fancied
he heard the gentle voice of Rosa calling him. He then
started up, went to the door, and looked through the
grating; but no one was behind it, and the lobby was
Rosa, no doubt, would be watching too ; but, happier
than he, she watched over the tulip. She had before her
eyes that noble flower, that wonder of wonders, which
not only was unknown, but was not even thought possible
What would the world say when it heard that the
black tulip was found, that it existed, and that it was
the prisoner Van Baerle who had found it ?
How Cornelius would have spurned the offer of his
liberty in exchange for his tulip !
Day came, without any news ; the tulip was not yet
The day passed as the night. Night came, and with
it Rosa, joyous and cheerful as a bird.
"Well? "asked Cornelius.
"Well, all is going on prosperously. This night,
without any doubt, our tulip will be in flower/'
THE BLACK TULIP. 201
" And will it flower black ? "
"Black as jet."
" Without a speck of any other colour ? "
"Without one speck."
" Good heavens ! my dear Rosa, I have been dreaming
all night in the first place of you " (Rosa made a sign of
incredulity), " and then of what we must do."
" Well ? "
" Well, and I will tell you now what I have decided on.
The tulip once being in flower, and it being quite certain
that it is perfectly black, you must find a messenger."
"If it is no more than that, I have a messenger quite
" Is he safe ? "
" One for whom I will answer he is one of my lovers."
" I hope not Jacob."
" No ; be quiet. It is the ferryman of Lcevestein, a
smart young man of twenty-five."
" By Jove ! "
" Be quiet," said Rosa, smiling. " He is still under
age, as you have yourself fixed it at from twenty-six to
" In fine, do you think you may rely on this young
man ? "
"As on myself; he would throw himself into the
Waal or the Meuse if I bade him."
" Well, Rosa, this lad may be at Haarlem in ten hours.
You will give me paper and pencil, and, perhaps better
still, pen and ink, and I will write, or rather, on second
thoughts, you will ; for if I did it, being a poor prisoner,
people might, like your father, see a conspiracy in it.
You will write to the President of the Horticultural
Society, and I am sure he will come."
202 THE BLACK TULIP.
"But if he tarries?"
" Well, let us suppose that he tarries one day, or even
two ; but it is impossible. A tulip-fancier like him will
not tarry one hour, not one minute, not one second, to
set out to see the eighth wonder of the world. But as I
said, if he tarried one or even two days, the tulip will still
be in its full splendour. The flower once being seen by
the President, and the protocol being drawn up, all is in
order ; you will only keep a duplicate of the protocol,
and entrust the tulip to him. Ah ! if we had been able
to carry it ourselves, Rosa, it would never have left my
hands but to pass into yours. But this is a dream, which
we must not entertain," continued Cornelius with a sigh;
" the eyes of strangers will see it flower to the last. And
above all, Rosa, before the President has seen it, let it
not be seen by any one. Alas ! if any one saw the black
tulip, it would be stolen."
" Did you not tell me yourself what you apprehend
from your lover Jacob ? People will steal one guilder ;
why not a hundred thousand ? "
" I shall watch ; be quiet."
" But if it opened whilst you are here ? "
" The whimsical little thing would indeed be quite
capable of playing such a trick," said Rosa.
" And if on your return you find it open ? "
" Well ? "
"O Rosa, whenever it opens, remember that not a
moment must be lost in apprising the President."
" And in apprising you. Yes, I understand."
Rosa sighed, yet without any bitter feeling, but rather
like a woman who begins to understand a foible and to
accustom herself to it.
THE BLACK TULIP. 203
" I return to your tulip, Mynheer van Baerle, and as
soon as it opens I will give you news ; which being done,
the messenger will set out immediately."
" Rosa, Rosa, I don't know to what wonder under the
sun I shall compare you."
" Compare me to the black tulip, and I promise you
I shall feel very much flattered. Good-night, then, till
we meet again, Mynheer Cornelius."
" Oh, say good-night, my friend."
"Good-night, my friend," said Rosa, a little con-
" Say, my very dear friend."
" Oh, my friend."
" Very dear friend, I entreat you, say, very dear, Rosa,
" Very dear, yes, very dear," said Rosa, with a beating
heart, beyond herself with happiness.
During part of the night Cornelius, with his heart full
of joy and delight, remained at his window, gazing at
the stars, and listening for every sound.
Then casting a glance from time to time towards the
" Down there," he said, "is Rosa, watching like myself ,
and waiting from minute to minute ; down there, under
Rosa's eyes, is the mysterious flower, which lives, which
expands, which opens; perhaps Rosa holds in this
moment the stem of the tulip between her delicate
fingers. Touch it gently, Rosa. Perhaps she touches
with her lips its expanding chalice. Touch it cautiously,
Rosa; your lips are burning. Yes, perhaps at this
moment the two objects of my dearest love caress each
other under the eye of Heaven."
At this moment a star blazed in the southern sky,
204 THE BLACK TULIP.
and shot through the whole horizon, falling down, as it
were, on the fortress of Lcevestein.
Cornelius felt a thrill run through his frame.
" Ah ! " he said, " here is Heaven sending a soul to
And as if he had guessed correctly, nearly at that
very moment the prisoner heard in the lobby a step
light as that of a sylph, and the rustling o a gown, and
a well-known voice, which said to him,
" Cornelius, my friend, my very dear friend, and very
happy friend, come, come quickly."
Cornelius darted with one spring from the window to the
door; his lips met those of Rosa, who told him with a kiss,
" It is open it is black ; here it is."
" How, here it is ! " exclaimed Cornelius.
"Yes, yes; we ought, indeed, to run some little risk
to give a great joy. Here it is ; take it."
And with one hand she raised to the level of the
grating a dark lantern, which she had lit in the mean-
while, whilst with the other she held to the same height
the miraculous tulip.
Cornelius uttered a cry, and was nearly fainting.
"Oh!" muttered he, "my God, my God, Thou dost
reward me for my innocence and my captivity, as Thou
hast allowed two such flowers to grow at the grated
window of my prison."
The tulip was beautiful, splendid, magnificent : its
stem was more than eighteen inches high ; it rose from
out of four green leaves, which were as smooth and
straight as iron lance heads; the whole of the flower
was as black and shining as jet.
" Rosa," said Cornelius, almost gasping " Rosa, there
is not one moment to lose in writing the letter."
THE BLACK TULIP. 205
" It is written, my dearest Cornelius," said Rosa.
"Is it, indeed?"
" Whilst the tulip opened I wrote it myself, for I did
not wish to lose a moment. Here is the letter, and tell
me whether you approve of it."
Cornelius took the letter, and read, in a handwriting
which was much improved even since the last little note
he had received from Rosa, as follows :
" MYNHEER PRESIDENT, The black tulip is about to
open, perhaps in ten minutes. As soon as it is open I
shall send a messenger to you, with the request that you
will come and fetch it in person from the fortress at
Loevestein. I am the daughter of the jailer, Gryphus
almost as much a captive as the prisoners of my father.
I cannot, therefore, bring to you this wonderful flower.
This is the reason why I beg you to come and fetch it
" It is my wish that it should be called Rosa Bar-
" It has opened ; it is perfectly black. Come, Mynheer
" I have the honour to be, your humble servant,
" That's it, dear Rosa, that's it. Your letter is admir-
able ! I could not have written it with such beautiful
simplicity. You will give to the committee all the in-
formation that will be asked of you. They will then
know how the tulip has been grown how much care
and anxiety and how many sleepless nights it has cost.
But for the present not a minute must be lost, for the
messenger, the messenger."
206 THE BLACK TULIP.
" What's the name of the President ? "
" Give me the letter; I will direct it. Oh, he is very
well known. It is Mynheer van Herysen, the burgo-
master of Haarlem. Give it me, Rosa, give it me."
And with a trembling hand Cornelius wrote the
"To Mynheer Peter van Herysen, Burgomaster, and
President of the Horticultural Society of Haarlem."
"And now, Rosa, go, go," said Cornelius; "and let
us implore the protection of God, who has so kindly
watched over us until now."
AND in fact the poor young people were in great need
They had never been so near the destruction of their
hopes as at this moment, when they thought themselves
certain of their fulfilment.
The reader cannot but have recognized in Jacob our
old friend, or rather enemy, Isaac Boxtel, and has
guessed, no doubt, that this worthy had followed, from
the Buitenhof to Lcevestein, the object of his love and
the object of his hatred the black tulip and Cornelius
What no one but a tulip-fancier, and an envious tulip-
fancier, could have discovered the existence of the
suckers and the endeavours of the prisoner jealousy
had enabled Boxtel, if not to discover, at least to guess.
We have seen him, more successful under the name
of Jacob than under that of Isaac, gain the friendship
of Gryphus, which for several months he cultivated by
means of the best Genievre ever distilled from the Texel
to Antwerp; and he lulled the suspicion of the jealous
turnkey by holding out to him the flattering prospect of
his designing to marry Rosa.
Besides thus offering a bait to the ambition of the
2o8 THE BLACK TULIP.
father, he managed, at the same time, to interest his
zeal as a jailer, picturing to him in the blackest colours
the learned prisoner whom Gryphus had in his keeping,
and who, as the sham Jacob had it, was in league with
Satan, to the detriment of his Highness the Prince of
At first he had also made some way with Rosa ; not,
indeed, in her affections, but inasmuch as, by talking to
her of marriage and of love, he had evaded all the sus-
picions which he might otherwise have excited.
We have seen how his imprudence in following Rosa
into the garden had unmasked him in the eyes of the
young damsel, and how the instinctive fears of Cornelius
had put the two lovers on their guard against him.
The reader will remember that the first cause for un-
easiness was given to the prisoner by the rage of Jacob
when Gryphus crushed the first sucker. In that moment
Boxtel's exasperation was the more fierce, as, though
suspecting that Cornelius possessed a second sucker, he
by no means felt sure of it.
From that moment he began to dodge the steps of
Rosa, not only following her to the garden, but also to
Only as this time he followed her in the night, and
barefooted, he was neither seen nor heard, except once,
when Rosa thought she saw something like a shadow on
Her discovery, however, was made too late, as Boxtel
had heard from the mouth of the prisoner himself that
a second sucker existed.
Taken in by the stratagem of Rosa, who had feigned
to put it in the ground, and entertaining no doubt but
that this little farce had been played in order to force
THE BLACK TULIP. 209
him to betray himself, he redoubled his precaution, and
employed every means suggested by his crafty nature to
watch the others without being watched himself.
He saw Rosa conveying a large flower-pot of white
earthenware from her father's kitchen to her bedroom.
He saw Rosa washing in pails of water her pretty little
hands, begrimed as they were with the mould which she
had handled, to give her tulip the best soil possible.
And at last he hired, just opposite Rosa's window, a
little attic, distant enough not to allow him to be recog-
nized with the naked eye, but sufficiently near to enable
him, with the help of his telescope, to watch everything
that was going on at Lcevestein in Rosa's room, just as
at Dort he had watched the dry-room of Cornelius.
He had not been installed more than three days in his
attic before all his doubts were removed.
From morning to sunset the flower-pot was in the
window, and like those charming female figures of Mieris
and Metzys, Rosa appeared at that window as in a
frame, formed by the first budding sprays of the wild
vine and the honeysuckle encircling her window.
Rosa watched the flower-pot with an interest which
betrayed to Boxtel the real value of the object enclosed
This object could not be anything else but the second
sucker that is to say, the quintessence of all the hopes
of the prisoner.
When the nights threatened to be too cold, Rosa took
in the flower-pot.
Well, it was then quite evident she was following the
instructions of Cornelius, who was afraid of the bulb
being killed by frost.
When the sun became too hot, Rosa likewise took in
210 THE BLACK TULIP.
the pot from eleven in the morning until two in the
Another proof : Cornelius was afraid lest the soil should
become too dry.
But when the first leaves peeped out of the earth
Boxtel was fully convinced, and his telescope left him no
longer in any uncertainty, before they had grown one
inch in height.
Cornelius possessed two suckers, and the second was
entrusted to the love and care of Rosa.
For it may well be imagined that the tender secret of
the two lovers had not escaped the prying curiosity of
The question, therefore, was how to wrest the second
sucker from the care of Rosa.
Certainly this was no easy task.
Rosa watched over her tulip as a mother over her
child or a dove over her eggs.
Rosa never left her room during the day, and, more
than that, strange to say she never left it in the
For seven days Boxtel in vain watched Rosa; she
was always at her post.
This happened during those seven days which made
Cornelius so unhappy, depriving him at the same time
of all news of Rosa and of his tulip.
Would the coolness between Rosa and Cornelius last
for ever ?
This would have made the theft much more difficult
than Mynheer Isaac had at first expected.
We say the theft, for Isaac had simply made up his
mind to steal the tulip; and as it grew in the most
profound secrecy, and as, moreover, his word, being that
THE BLACK TULIP. 211
of a renowned tulip-grower, would any day be taken
against that of an unknown girl without any knowledge
of horticulture, or against that of a prisoner convicted
of high treason, he confidently hoped that, having once
got possession of the bulb, he would be certain to obtain
the prize; and then the tulip, instead of being called
Tulipa nigra Barlceensis, would go down to posterity
under the name of Tulipa nigra Boxtellensis or Boxtellea.
Mynheer Isaac had not yet quite decided which of
these two names he would give to the tulip; but as
both meant the same thing, this was, after all, not the
The question was, to steal the tulip. But in order
that Boxtel might steal the tulip, it was necessary that
Rosa should leave her room.
Great, therefore, was his joy when he saw the usual
evening meetings of the lovers resumed.
He first of all took advantage of Rosa's absence to
make himself fully acquainted with all the peculiarities
of the door of her chamber. The lock was a double
one, and in good order ; but Rosa always took the key
Boxtel at first entertained an idea of stealing the
key, but it soon occurred to him that not only would it
be exceedingly difficult to abstract it from her pocket,
but also that, when she perceived her loss, she would
not leave her room until the lock was changed, and then
Boxtel's first theft would be useless.
He thought it, therefore, better to employ a different
expedient. He collected as many keys as he could, and
tried all of them during one of those delightful hours
which Rosa and Cornelius passed together, at the grating
of the cell.
212 THE BLACK TULIP.
Two of the keys entered the lock, and one of them
turned round once, but not the second time.
There was therefore only a little to be done to this
Boxtel covered it with a slight coat of wax, and when
he thus renewed the experiment, the obstacle which pre-
vented the key from being turned a second time left its
impression on the wax.
It cost Boxtel two days more to bring his key to per-
fection, with the aid of a small file.
Rosa's door thus opened without noise and without
difficulty, and Boxtel found himself in her room alone
with the tulip.
The first guilty act of Boxtel had been to climb over
a wall in order to dig up the tulip ; the second, to intro-
duce himself into the dry-room of Cornelius, through an
open window; and the third, to enter Rosa's room by
means of a false key.
Thus envy urged Boxtel on with rapid steps in the
career of crime.
Boxtel, as we have said, was alone with the tulip.
A common thief would have taken the 'pot under his
arm and carried it off.
But Boxtel was not a common thief, and he reflected.
It was not yet certain, although very probable, that
the tulip would flower black; if, therefore, he stole it
now, he not only might be committing a useless crime,
but also the theft might be discovered in the time which
must elapse until the flower should open.
He, therefore as, being in possession of the key, he
might enter Rosa's chamber whenever he liked thought
it better to wait and to take it either an hour before or
after opening, and to start on the instant to Haarlem,
THE BLACK TULIP. 213
where the tulip would be before the judges of the com-
mittee before any one else could put in a reclamation.
Should any one then reclaim it, Boxtel would, in his
turn, charge him or her with theft.
This was a deep-laid scheme, and quite worthy of its
Thus, every evening during that delightful hour which
the two lovers passed together at the grated window,
Boxtel entered Rosa's chamber to watch the progress
which the black tulip had made towards flowering.
On the evening at which we have arrived he was
going to enter according to custom ; but the two lovers,
as we have seen, only exchanged a few words before
Cornelius sent Rosa back to watch over the tulip.
Seeing Rosa enter her room ten minutes after she had
left it, Boxtel guessed that the tulip had opened, or was
about to open.
During that night, therefore, the great blow was to be
struck. Boxtel presented himself before Gryphus with a
double supply of Genievre that is to say, with a bottle
in each pocket.
Gryphus being once fuddled, Boxtel was very nearly
master of the house.
At eleven o'clock Gryphus was dead drunk. At two
in the morning Boxtel saw Rosa leaving the chamber;
but evidently she held in her arms something which she
carried with great care.
He did not doubt but that this was the black tulip
which was in flower.
But what was she going to do with it ? Would she set
out that instant to Haarlem with it ?
It was not possible that a young girl should undertake
such a journey alone during the night.
214 THE BLACK TULIP.
Was she only going to show the tulip to Cornelius ?
This was more likely.
He followed Rosa, in his stocking feet, walking on
He saw her approach the grated window. He heard
her calling Cornelius. By the light of the dark lantern
he saw the tulip, open, and black as the night in which
he was hidden.
He heard the plan concerted between Cornelius and
Rosa to send a messenger to Haarlem. He saw the lips
of the lovers meet, and then heard Cornelius send Rosa
He saw Rosa extinguish the light and return to her
chamber. Ten minutes after he saw her leave the room
again and lock it twice.
Boxtel, who saw all this whilst hiding himself on the
landing-place of the staircase above, descended step by
step from his story, as Rosa descended from hers ; so
that when she touched with her light foot the lowest
step of the staircase, Boxtel touched, with a still lighter
hand, the lock of Rosa's chamber.
And in that hand, it must be understood, he held the
false key, which opened Rosa's door as easily as did the
And this is why, in the beginning of the chapter, we
said that the poor young people were in great need of
the protection of God.
THE BLACK TULIP CHANGES MASTERS.
CORNELIUS remained standing on the spot where Rosa
had left him. He was quite overpowered with the
weight of his twofold happiness.
Half an hour passed away. Already did the first rays
of the sun enter through the iron grating of the prison,
when Cornelius was suddenly startled at the noise of
steps which came up the staircase, and of cries which
approached nearer and nearer.
Almost at the same instant he saw before him the pale
and distracted face of Rosa.
He started, and turned pale with fright.
" Cornelius, Cornelius ! " she screamed, gasping for
" Good Heaven ! what is it ? " asked the prisoner.
" Cornelius, the tulip."
" How shall I tell you ? "
" Speak, speak, Rosa ! "
" Some one has taken stolen it from us."
" Stolen taken ? " said Cornelius.
" Yes/' said Rosa, leaning against the door to support
herself " yes, taken, stolen."
23E6 THE BLACK TULIP.
And saying this, she felt her limbs failing her, and she
fell on her knees.
" But how ? Tell me, explain to me."
" Oh, it is not my fault, my friend."
Poor Rosa ! she no longer dared to call him " My
" You have then left it alone," said Cornelius ruefully.
" One minute only, to instruct our messenger, who lives
scarcely fifty yards off, on the banks of the Waal."
" And during that time, notwithstanding all my in-
junctions, you left the key behind unfortunate child ! "
"No, no, no ! that is what I, cannot understand. The
key was never out of my hands; I clenched it as if I
were afraid it would take wings."
" But how did it happen, then ? "
" That's what I cannot make out. I had given the
letter to my messenger; he started before I left his
house; I came home, and my door was locked; every-
thing in my room was as I had left it, except the tulip
that was gone. Some one must have had a key for
my room, or have got a false one made on purpose."
She was nearly choking with sobs, and was unable to
Cornelius, immovable and full of consternation, heard
almost without understanding, and only muttered,
" Stolen, stolen, stolen ! I am lost ! "
" O Cornelius, forgive me, forgive me ; it will kill me ! "
Seeing Rosa's distress, Cornelius seized the iron bars of
the grating, and furiously shaking them, called out,
" Rosa, Rosa, we have been robbed, it is true ; but
shall we allow ourselves to be dejected for all that ?
No, no ; the misfortune is great, but it may perhaps be
remedied. Rosa, we know the thief ! "
THE BLACK TULIP. 217
" Alas ! what can I say about it ? "
" But I say that it is no one else but that infamous
Jacob. Shall we allow him to carry to Haarlem the
fruit of our labour, the fruit of our sleepless nights, the
child of our love ? Rosa, we must pursue ; we must over-
take him ! "
"But how can we do all this, my friend, without
letting my father know that we were in communication
with each other ? How should I, a poor girl with so
little knowledge of the world and its ways, be able to
attain this end, which, perhaps, you could not attain
yourself ? "
" Rosa, Rosa, open this door to me, and you will see
whether I will not find the thief whether I will not
make him confess his crime and beg for mercy."
" Alas ! " cried Rosa, sobbing, " can I open the door
for you ? have I the keys ? If I had had them, would
not you have been free long ago ? "
"Your father has them your wicked father, who has
already crushed the first sucker of my tulip. Oh, the
wretch, the wretch ; he is an accomplice of Jacob ! "
" Don't speak so loud, for Heaven's sake."
" O Rosa, if you don't open the door to me," Cornelius
cried, in his rage, " I shall force these bars, and kill
everything I find in the prison ! "
" Be merciful, be merciful, my friend."
" I tell you, Rosa, that I shall demolish this prison, stone
for stone." And the unfortunate man, whose strength
was increased tenfold by his rage, began to shake the
door with a great noise, little heeding that the thunder
of his voice was re-echoing through the spiral staircase.
Rosa, in her fright, made vain attempts to check this
2i8 THE BLACK TULIP.
" I tell you that I shall kill that infamous Gryphus ! "
roared Cornelius ; " I tell you I shall shed his blood, as
he did that of my black tulip ! "
The wretched prisoner began really to rave.
"Well, then, yes," said Rosa, all in a tremble.
" Yes, yes ; only be quiet. Yes, I will take his keys, I
will open the door for you ; yes, only be quiet, my own
She did not finish her speech, as a growl by her side
" My father ! " cried Rosa.
" Gryphus ! " roared Van Baerle ; "oh, you villain ! "
Old Gryphus, in the midst of all the noise, had as-
cended the staircase without being heard.
He rudely seized his daughter by the wrist.
" So you will take my keys ? " he said, in a voice
choked with rage. "Ah! this dastardly fellow, this
monster, this gallows-bird of a conspirator is your own
dear Cornelius, is he ? Ah ! Missy has communications
with prisoners of State. Ah ! won't I teach you, won't I ? "
Rosa clasped her hands in despair.
" Ah ! " Gryphus continued, passing from the madness
of anger to the cool irony of a man who has got the
better of his enemy "ah! you innocent tulip-fancier,
you gentle scholar you will kill me, and drink my blood !
Very well ! very well ! And you have my daughter for
an accomplice. Am I, forsooth, in a den of thieves in
a cave of brigands ? Yes ; but the Governor shall know
all to-morrow, and his Highness the Stadtholder the
day after. We know the law ; we shall give a second
edition of the Buitenhof, Master Scholar, and a good one
this time. Yes, yes ; just gnaw your paws like a bear
in his -cage. And you, my fine little lady, devour your
THE BLACK TULIP. 219
dear Cornelius with your eyes. I tell you, my lambkins,
you shall not much longer have the felicity of conspiring
together. Away with you ! unnatural daughter ! And
as to you, Master Scholar, we shall see each other again.
Just be quiet we shall."
Rosa, beyond herself with terror and despair, kissed
her hands to her friend; then, suddenly struck with
a bright thought, she rushed towards the staircase,
''All is not yet lost, Cornelius. Rely on me, my
Her father followed her, growling.
As to poor Cornelius, he gradually loosened his hold
of the bars, which his fingers still grasped convulsively.
His head was heavy, his eyes almost started from their
sockets, and he fell heavily on the floor of his cell,
" Stolen ; it has been stolen from me ! "
During this time Boxtel had left the fortress, by the
door which Rosa herself had opened. He carried the
black tulip wrapped up in a cloak, and, throwing himself
into a coach, which was waiting for him at Gorcum, he
drove off, without, as may well be imagined, having
informed his friend Gryphus of his sudden departure.
And now, as we have seen him enter his coach, we
shall, with the consent of the reader, follow him to the
end of his journey.
He proceeded but slowly, as a black tulip could not
bear travelling post-haste.
But Boxtel, fearing that he might not arrive early
enough, procured at Delft a box, lined all round with
fresh moss, in which he packed the tulip. The flower
was uo lightly pressed upon on all sides, with a supply of
220 THE BLACK TULIP.
air from above, that the coach could now travel full
speed without any possibility of injury to the tulip.
He arrived next morning at Haarlem, fatigued but
triumphant ; and, to do away with every trace of the
theft, he transplanted the tulip, and, breaking the
original flower-pot, threw the pieces into the canal.
After which he wrote the President of the Horticul-
tural Society a letter, in which he announced to him
that he had just arrived at Haarlem with a perfectly
black tulip ; and, with his flower all safe, took up his
quarters at a good hotel in the town, and there he
THE PRESIDENT VAN HERYSEN.
ROSA, on leaving Cornelius, had fixed on her plan, which
was no other than to restore to Cornelius the stolen tulip
or never to see him again.
She had seen the despair of the prisoner, and she knew
that it was derived from a double source, and that it
On the one hand, separation became inevitable
Gryphus having, at the same time, surprised the secret
of their love and of their secret meetings.
On the other hand, all the hopes on the fulfilment of
which Cornelius van Baerle had rested his ambition for
the last seven years were now crushed.
Rosa was one of those women who are dejected by
trifles, but who in great emergencies are supplied by
the misfortune itself with the energy for combating
or with the resources for remedying it.
She went to her room, and cast a last glance about
her, to see whether she had not been mistaken, and
whether the tulip was not stowed away in some corner,
where it had escaped her notice. But she sought in
vain ; the tulip was still wanting the tulip was indeed
Rosa made up a little parcel of things indispensable
222 THE BLACK TULIP.
for a journey ; took her three hundred guilders that is
to say, all her fortune ; fetched the third sucker from
among her lace, where she had laid it up, and carefully
hid it in her bosom ; after which she locked her door
twice, to disguise her flight as long as possible ; and
leaving the prison by the same door which an hour
before had let out Boxtel, she went to a stable-keeper
to hire a carriage.
The man had only a two-wheel chaise, and this was
the vehicle which Boxtel had hired since last evening,
and in which he was now driving along the road to
Delft ; for the road from Loevestein to Haarlem, owing
to the many canals, rivers, and rivulets intersecting the
country, is exceedingly circuitous.
Not being able to procure a vehicle, Rosa was obliged
to take a horse, with which the stable-keeper readily
entrusted her, knowing her to be the daughter of the
jailer of the fortress.
Rosa hoped to overtake her messenger, a kind-hearted
and honest lad, whom she would take with her, and
who might, at the same time, serve her as a guide and
And, in fact, she had not proceeded more than a
league before she saw him hastening along one of the
side paths of a very pretty road by the river. Setting
her horse off at a canter, she soon came up with him.
The honest lad was not aware of the important char-
acter of his message ; nevertheless, he used as much
speed as if he had known it, and in less than an hour
he had already gone a league and a half.
Rosa took from him the note, which had now become
useless, and explained to him what she wanted him to
do for her. The boatman placed himself entirely at her
THE BLACK TULIP. 223
disposal, promising to keep pace with the horse, if Rosa
would allow him to take hold of either the croup or the
bridle of her horse. The two travellers had been on
their way for five hours, and made more than eight
leagues, and yet Gryphus had not the least suspicion
of his daughter having left the fortress.
The jailer, who was of a very spiteful and cruel dis-
position, chuckled within himself at the idea of having
struck such terror into his daughter's heart.
But whilst he was congratulating himself on having
such a nice story to tell to his boon companion, Jacob,
that worthy was on his road to Delft, and, thanks to
the swiftness of the horse, had already the start of Rosa
and her companion by four leagues.
And whilst the affectionate father was rejoicing at the
thought of his daughter weeping in her room, Rosa was
making the best of her way towards Haarlem.
Thus the prisoner alone was where Gryphus thought
him to be.
Rosa was so little with her father since she took care
of the tulip, that at his dinner hour -that is to say, at
twelve o'clock he was reminded for the first time, by his
appetite, that his daughter was fretting rather too long.
He sent one of the under-turnkeys to call her ; and
when the man came back to tell him that he had called
and sought her in vain, he resolved to go and call her
He first went to her room ; but loud as he knocked,
Rosa answered not.
The locksmith of the fortress was sent for. He opened
the door; but Gryphus no more found Rosa than she
had found the tulip.
At that very moment she entered Rotterdam.
224 THE BLACK TULIP.
Gryphus, therefore, had just as little chance of finding
her in the kitchen as in her room, and just as little in
the garden as in the kitchen.
The reader may imagine the anger of the jailer when,,
after having made inquiries about the neighbourhood,
he heard that his daughter had hired a horse, and, like
an adventuress, set out on a journey without saying
where she was going.
Gryphus again went up in his fury to Van Baerle,
abused him, threatened him, knocked all the miserable
furniture of his cell about, and promised him all sorts
of misery, even starvation and flogging.
Cornelius, without even hearing what his jailer said,
allowed himself to be ill-treated, abused, and threatened,
remaining all the while sullen, immovable, dead to every
emotion and fear.
After having sought for Rosa in every direction,
Gryphus looked out for Jacob ; and as he could not
find him either, he began to suspect from that moment
that Jacob had run away with her.
The damsel, in the meanwhile, after having stopped
for two hours at Rotterdam, had started again on her
journey. On that evening she slept at Delft, and on
the following morning she reached Haarlem, four hours
after Boxtel had arrived there.
Rosa, first of all, caused herself to be led before
Mynheer van Herysen, the President of the Horticul-
tural Society of Haarlem.
She found that worthy gentleman in a situation which,
to do justice to our story, we must not pass over in our
The President was drawing up a report to the Com-
mittee of the Society.
THE BLACK TULIP. 225
This report was written on large-sized paper, in the
finest handwriting of the President.
Rosa was announced simply as Rosa Gryphus ; but
as her name, well as it might sound, was unknown to
the President, she was refused admittance.
Rosa, however, was by no means abashed, having
vowed in her heart, in pursuing her cause, not to allow
herself to be put down either by refusal, or abuse, or
" Announce to the President," she said to the servant,
" that I want to speak to him about the black tulip."
These words seemed to be an " Open Sesame," for
she soon found herself in the office of the President, Van
Herysen, who gallantly rose from his chair to meet her.
He was a spare little man, resembling the stem of a
flower, his head forming its chalice, and his two limp
arms representing the double leaf of the tulip. The
resemblance was rendered complete by his waddling
gait, which made him even more like that flower, when
it bends under a breeze.
" Well, miss," he said, " you are coming, I am told,
about the affair of the black tulip."
To the President of the Horticultural Society the
Tulipa nigra was a first-rate power, which, in its char-
acter as queen of the tulips, might send ambassadors.
" Yes, sir," answered Rosa ; " I come at least to
speak of it."
" Is it doing well, then ? " asked Van Herysen, with
a smile of tender veneration.
" Alas ! sir, I don't know," said Rosa.
" How is that ? Could any misfortune have happened
to it ? "
" A very great one, sir ; yet not to it, but to me."
226 THE BLACK TULIP.
" What ? "
" It has been stolen from me."
" Stolen ! the black tulip ! "
" Yes, sir."
" Do you know the thief ? "
" I have my suspicions, but I must not yet accuse
" But the matter may very easily be ascertained."
" How is that ? "
"As it has been stolen from you, the thief cannot be
" Why not ? "
" Because I have seen the black tulip only two hours
" You have seen the black tulip ! " cried Rosa, rush-
ing up to Mynheer van Herysen.
" As I see you, miss."
" But where ? "
" Well, with your master, of course."
" With my master ? "
" Yes ; are you not in the service of Master Isaac
Boxtel ? "
" I ? "
" Yes, you."
" But for whom do you take me, sir ? "
" And for whom do you take me ? "
" I hope, sir, I take you for what you are that is to
say, for the honourable Mynheer van Herysen, burgo-
master of Haarlem, and President of the Horticultural
" And what is it you told me just now ? "
" I told you, sir, that my tulip has been stolen."
" Then your tulip is that of Mynheer Boxtel. Well,
THE BLACK TULIP. 227
my child, you express yourself very badly. The tulip
has been stolen, not from you, but from Mynheer
" I repeat to you, sir, that I do not know who this
Mynheer Boxtel is, and that I have now heard his name
pronounced for the first time."
" You do not know who Mynheer Boxtel is ; and you
also had a black tulip ? "
" But is there any other besides mine ? " asked Rosa,
" Yes that of Mynheer Boxtel."
" How is it ? "
" Black, of course."
" Without speck ? "
" Without a single speck or even point."
" And you have this tulip; you have it deposited here ? "
" No, but it will be, as it has to be exhibited before
the Committee previous to the prize being awarded."
" O sir ! " cried Rosa, " this Boxtel, this Isaac Boxtel,
who calls himself the owner of the black tulip "
" And who is its owner ? "
" Is he not a very thin man ? "
" Bald ? "
" With sunken eyes ? "
" I think he has."
" Restless, stooping, and bow-legged."
" In truth you draw Master Boxtel's portrait, feature
" And the tulip, sir is it not in a pot of white and
blue earthenware, with yellowish flowers in a basket on
three sides ? "
228 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Oh, as to that, I am not quite sure ; I looked more
at the flower than at the pot."
" O sir, that's my tulip, which has been stolen from
me. I come here to reclaim it before you and from you."
" Oh, oh ! " said Van Herysen, looking at Rosa.
" What ! you are here to claim the tulip of Master
Boxtel ? Well, I must say you are cool enough."
" Honoured sir," said Rosa, a little put out by this
apostrophe, " I do not say that I am coming to claim
the tulip of Master Boxtel, but to reclaim my own."
" Yours ? "
" Yes, the one which I have myself planted and nursed/'
" Well, then, go and find out Master Boxtel, at the
White Swan Inn, and you can then settle matters with
him ; as for me, considering that the cause seems to me
as difficult to judge as that which was brought before
King Solomon, and that I do not pretend to be as wise
as he was, I shall content myself with making my report,
establishing the existence of the black tulip, and order-
ing the hundred thousand guilders to be paid to its
grower. Good-bye, my child."
" O sir, sir! " said Rosa imploringly.
" Only, my child," continued Van Herysen, " as you
are young and pretty, and as there may be still some
good in you, I'll give you good advice. Be prudent in
this matter, for we have a court of justice, and a prison
here at Haarlem ; and, moreover, we are exceedingly
ticklish, as far as the honour of our tulips is concerned.
Go, my child, go; remember, Master Isaac Boxtel at
the White Swan Inn."
And Mynheer van Herysen, taking up his fine pen,
resumed his report, which had been interrupted by
A MEMBER OF THE HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY.
ROSA, beyond herself, and nearly mad with joy and
fear, at the idea of the black tulip being found again,
started for the White Swan, followed by the boatman, a
stout lad from Frisia, who was strong enough to knock
down a dozen Boxtels single-handed.
He had been made acquainted in the course of the
journey with the state of affairs, and was not afraid of
any encounter ; only he had orders, in such a case, to
spare the tulip.
But on arriving in the great market-place, Rosa at
once stopped ; a sudden thought had struck her, just as
Homer's Minerva seizes Achilles by the hair at the
moment when he is about to be carried away by his
" Good Heavens ! " she muttered to herself, " I have
made a grievous blunder ; may be I have ruined Cor-
nelius, the tulip, and myself. I have given the alarm,
and perhaps awakened suspicion. I am but a woman ;
these men may league themselves against me, and then
I shall be lost. If I am lost, that matters nothing ;
but Cornelius and the tulip ! "
She reflected for a moment.
"If I go to that Boxtel and do not know him ; if
230 THE BLACK TULIP.
that Boxtel is not my Jacob, but another fancier, who
has also discovered the black tulip ; or if my tulip has
been stolen by some one else, or has already passed into
the hands of a third person ; if I do not recognize the
man, only the tulip, how shall I prove that it belongs
to me ? On the other hand, if I recognize this Boxtel
as Jacob, who knows what will come out of it ? Whilst
we are contesting with each other, the tulip will die/'
In the meanwhile, a great noise was heard, like the
distant roar of the sea, at the other extremity of the
market-place. People were running about, doors open-
ing and shutting ; Rosa alone was unconscious of all
this hubbub among the multitude.
" We must return to the President," she muttered.
" Well, then, let us return," said the boatman.
They took a small street, which led them straight to
the mansion of Mynheer van Herysen, who with his
best pen, in his finest hand, continued to draw up his
Everywhere on her way Rosa heard people speaking
only of the black tulip, and the prize of a hundred
thousand guilders. The news had spread like wildfire
through the town.
Rosa had not a little difficulty in penetrating a second
time into the office of Mynheer van Herysen, who, how-
ever, was again moved by the magic name of the black
But when he recognized Rosa, whom in his own mind
he had set down as mad, or even worse, he grew angry,
and wanted to send her away.
Rosa, however, clasped her hands, and said with that
tone of honest truth which generally finds its way to
the hearts of men,
THE BLACK TULIP. 231
" For Heaven's sake, sir, do not turn me away listen
to what I have to tell you ; and if it be not possible for
you to do me justice, at least you will not one day have
to reproach yourself before God for having made your-
self the accomplice of a bad action."
Van Herysen stamped his foot with impatience ; it
was the second time that Rosa interrupted him in the
midst of a composition, which stimulated his vanity,
both as a burgomaster and as the President of the
" But my report ! " he cried " my report on the black
tulip ! "
" Mynheer van Herysen," Rosa continued, with the
firmness of innocence and truth, " your report on the
black tulip will, if you don't hear me, be based on
crime or on falsehood. I implore you, sir, let this
Master Boxtel, whom I assert to be Master Jacob, be
brought here before you and me, and I swear that I will
leave him in undisturbed possession of the tulip if I do
not recognize the flower and its holder."
" Well, I declare, here is a proposal," said Van
" What do you mean ? "
" I ask you what can be proved by your recognizing
them ? "
" After all," said Rosa, in her despair, " you are an
honest man, sir : how would you feel if one day you
found out that you had given the prize to a man for
something which he not only had not produced, but
which he had even stolen ? "
Rosa's speech seemed to have brought a certain con-
viction into the heart of Van Herysen, and he was going
to answer her in a gentler tone, when at once a great
232 THE BLACK TULIP.
noise was heard in the street, and loud cheers shook
" What is this ? " cried the burgomaster " what is
this ? Is it possible ? have I heard right ? "
And he rushed towards his anteroom, without any
longer heeding Rosa, whom he left in his cabinet.
Scarcely had he reached his anteroom, when he cried
out aloud, on seeing his staircase invaded up to the very
landing-place by the multitude, which was accompany-
ing, or rather following, a young man, simply clad in a
coat of violet-coloured velvet, embroidered with silver,
who, with a certain aristocratic slowness, ascended the
shining white stone steps of the house.
In his wake followed two officers, one of the navy, and
the other of the cavalry.
Van Herysen, having found his way through his
frightened domestics, began to bow, almost to prostrate
himself before his visito^ who had been the cause of
all this stir.
" Monseigneur ! " he called out, " Monseigneur ! What
distinguished honour is your Highness bestowing for
ever on my humble house by your visit ! "
"Dear Mynheer van Herysen," said William of
Orange, with a serenity which, with him, took the place
of a smile, M I am a true Hollander j I am fond of the
water, of beer, and of flowers, sometimes even of that
cheese the flavour of which seems so grateful to the
French ; the flower which I prefer to all others is, of
course, the tulip. I heard at Leyden that the city of
Haarlem at last possessed the black tulip ; and, after
having satisfied myself of the truth of news which
seemed so incredible, I have come to know all about it
from the President of the Horticultural Society."
THE BLACK TULIP. 233
" O Monseigneur, Monseigneur," said Van Herysen,
" what glory to the Society if its endeavours are pleasing
to your Highness ! "
" Have you got the flower here ? " said the Prince,
who, very likely, already regretted having made such a
" I am sorry to say we have not."
" And where is it ? "
" With its owner."
" Who is he ? "
" An honest tulip-grower of Dort."
" His name ? "
" His quarters ? "
" At the White Swan ; I shall send for him, and if,
in the meanwhile, your Highness will do me the honour
of stepping into my drawing-room, he will be sure
knowing that your Highness is here to lose no time
in bringing his tulip."
" Very well, send for him."
" Yes, your Highness, but "
" What is it ? "
" Oh ! nothing of any consequence, Monseigneur."
" Everything is of consequence, Mynheer van
" Well then, Monseigneur, if it must be said, a little
difficulty has presented itself."
" What difficulty ? "
" This tulip has already been claimed by usurpers.
It's true that it is worth a hundred thousand guilders."
" Indeed ! "
" Yes, Monseigneur, by usurpers, by forgers."
" This is e crime, Mynheer van Herysen."
234 THE BLACK TULIP.
" So it is, your Highness."
" And have you any proofs of their guilt ? "
" No, Monseigneur, the guilty woman
" The guilty woman, sir ? "
" I ought to say, the woman who claims the tulip.
Monseigneur, is here in the room close by/'
" And what do you think of her ? "
" I think, Monseigneur, that the bait of a hundred
thousand guilders may have tempted her."
" And so she claims the tulip ? "
" Yes, Monseigneur."
" And what proof does she offer ? "
" I was just going to question her, when your High-
ness came in."
" Question her, Mynheer van Herysen, question he**
I am the first magistrate of the country ; I will hear the
case, and administer justice."
" I have found my King Solomon," said Van Herysen,
bowing, and showing the way to the Prince.
His Highness was just going to walk ahead, but,
suddenly recollecting himself, he said,
" Go before me, and call me plain Mynheer."
The two then entered the cabinet.
Rosa was still standing at the same place, leaning on
the window, and looking through the panes into the
" Ah ! a Frisian girl," said the Prince, as he observed
Rosa's gold brocade head-dress and red petticoat.
At the noise of their footsteps she turned round, but
scarcely saw the Prince, who seated himself in the
darkest corner of the apartment.
All her attention, as may easily be imagined, was
fixed on that important person who was called Van
THE BLACK TULIP. 235
Herysetj so that she had no time to notice the humble
stranger, who was following the master of the house,
and who, for aught that she knew, might be somebody
The humble stranger took a book down from the shelf,
and made Van Herysen a sign to commence the examina-
Van Herysen, likewise at the invitation of the young
man in the violet coat, sat down in his turn, and, quite
happy and proud of the importance thus cast upon him,
" My child, you promise to tell me the truth, and the
entire truth, concerning this tulip ? "
" I promise."
" Well, then, speak before this gentleman ; this gentle-
man is one of the members of the Horticultural Society."
" What am I to tell you, sir," said Rosa, " besides
that which I have told you already ? "
" Well, then, what is it ? "
*' I repeat the request which I have addressed to you
" Which ? "
" That you will order Mynheer Boxtel to come here
with his tulip. If I do not recognize it as mine I will
frankly tell it ; but if I do recognize it I will reclaim
it, even if I must go before his Highness, the Stadt-
holder himself, with my proofs in my hands."
'* You have, then, some proofs, my child ? "
*' God, who knows my good right, will assist me to some."
Van Herysen exchanged a look with the Prince, who,
since the first words of Rosa, seemed to try to remember
her, as if it were not for the first time that this sweet
voice rang in his ears.
236 THE BLACK TULIP.
An officer went off to fetch Boxtel, and Van Herysen,
in the meanwhile, continued his examination.
" And with what do you support your assertion that
you are the real owner of the black tulip ? "
" With the very simple fact of my having planted and
grown it in my own chamber."
" In your chamber ? Where was your chamber ? "
" At Lcevestein."
" You are from Lcevestein ? "
" I am the daughter of the jailer of the fortress."
The Prince made a little movement, as much as to
say, " Well, that's it ; I remember now."
And, all the while feigning to be engaged with his
book, he watched Rosa even with more attention than he
had done before.
" And you are fond of flowers ? " continued Mynheer
" Yes, sir."
" Then you are an experienced florist, I dare say ? "
Rosa hesitated a moment ; then with a tone which
came from the depth of her heart, she said,
" Gentlemen, I am speaking to men of honour ? "
There was such an expression of truth in the tone of
her voice that Van Herysen and the Prince answered
simultaneously by an affirmative movement of their
" Well, then, I am not an experienced florist ; I am
only a poor girl, one of the people, who, three months
ago, knew neither how to read or write. No, the black
tulip has not been found by myself."
" But by whom else ? "
" By a poor prisoner of Lcevestein."
" By a prisoner of Lcevestein ? " repeated the Prince.
THE BLACK TULIP. 237
The tone of this voice startled Rosa, who was sure
she had heard it before.
" By a prisoner of state, then," continued the Prince,
" as there are none else there."
Having said this, he began to read again, at least in
" Yes," said Rosa, with a faltering voice; "yes, by a
prisoner of state."
Van Herysen trembled as he heard such a confession
made in the presence of such a witness.
" Continue," said William, dryly, to the President of
the Horticultural Society.
" Ah, sir," said Rosa, addressing the person whom
she thought to be her real judge, " I am going to in-
criminate myself very seriously."
" Certainly," said Van Herysen, " the prisoners of
state ought to be kept in close confinement at Loeve-
" And from what you tell me you took advantage of
your position, as daughter of the jailer, to communicate
with a prisoner of state about the cultivation of flowers,"
" So it is, sir," Rosa murmured in dismay ; " yes, I
am bound to confess, I saw him every day."
" Unfortunate girl ! " exclaimed Van Herysen.
The Prince observing the fright of Rosa, and the
pallor of the President, raised his head, and said, in
his clear and decided tone,
" This cannot signify anything to the members of the
Horticultural Society ; they have to judge on the black
tulip, and have no cognizance to take of political offences.
Go on ; young woman, go on."
Van Herysen, by means of an eloquent glance, offered,
238 THE BLACK TULIP.
in the name of the tulip, his thanks to the new member
of the Horticultural Society.
Rosa, reassured by this sort of encouragement which
the stranger was giving her, related all that had happened
for the last three months, all that she had done, and
all that she had suffered. She described the cruelty
of Gryphus the destruction of the first sucker ; the
grief of the prisoner ; the precautions taken to insure
the success of the second sucker ; the patience of the
prisoner, and his anxiety during their separation : how
he was about to starve himself because he had no longer
any news of his tulip ; his joy when she went to see
him again ; and lastly, their despair when they found
that the tulip, which had come into flower, was stolen
just one hour after it had opened.
All this was detailed with an accent of truth, which,
although producing no change in the impassible mien of
the Prince, did not fail to take effect on Van Herysen.
" But," said the Prince, " it cannot be long since you
knew the prisoner."
Rosa opened her large eyes and looked at the stranger,
who drew back into the dark corner as if he wished to
escape her observation.
" Why, sir ? " she asked him.
" Because it is not yet four months since the jailer
Gryphus and his daughter were removed to Lcevestein."
" That is true, sir."
" Otherwise you must have solicited the transfer of
your father in order to be able to follow some prisoner
who may have been transported from the Hague to
" Sir." said Rosa, blushing.
" Finish what you have to say, said William.
THE BLACK TULIP. 239
" I confess I knew the prisoner at the Hague."
" Happy prisoner ! " said William, smiling.
At this moment the officer who had been sent for
Boxtel returned and announced to the Prince that the
person whom he had been to fetch was following on his
heels with his tulip.
THE THIRD SUCKER.
BOXTEL'S return was scarcely announced, when he
entered in person the drawing-room of Mynheer van
Herysen, followed by two men, who carried in a box
their precious burden, and deposited it on a table.
The Prince, on being informed, left the cabinet, passed
into the drawing-room, admired the flower, and silently
resumed his seat in the dark corner, where he had him-
self placed his chair.
Rosa, trembling, pale, and terrified, expected to be
invited in her turn to see the tulip.
She now heard the voice of Boxtel.
" It is he I " she exclaimed.
The Prince made her a sign to go and look through
the open door into the drawing-room.
" It is my tulip," cried Rosa ; " I recognize it. Oh,
my poor Cornelius ! "
And saying this she burst into tears.
The Prince rose from his seat, went to the door,
where he stood for some time with the full light falling
upon his figure.
As Rosa's eyes now rested upon him she felt more
than ever convinced that this was not the first time she
had seen the stranger.
THE BLACK TULIP. 241
" Master Boxtel," said the Prince, " come in here, if
Boxtel eagerly approached, and finding himself face
to face with William of Orange, started back.
" His Highness ! " he called out.
" His Highness ! " Rosa repeated in dismay.
Hearing this exclamation on his left, Boxtel turned
round, and perceived Rosa.
At this sight the whole frame of the thief shook as
if under the influence of a galvanic shock.
" Ah ! " muttered the Prince to himself, "he is con-
But Boxtel, making a violent effort to control his
feelings, was already himself again.
" Master Boxtel," said William, " you seem to have
discovered the secret of growing the black tulip ? "
. " Yes, your Highness," answered Boxtel, in a voice
which still betrayed some confusion.
It is true his agitation might have been attributable
to the emotion which the man must have felt on suddenly
recognizing the Prince.
" But," continued the Stadtholder, " here is a young
damsel who also pretends to have found it."
Boxtel, with a disdainful smile, shrugged his shoulders.
William watched all his movements with evident
interest and curiosity.
" Then you don't know this young girl ? " said the
" No, your Highness ! "
" And you, child, do you know Master Boxtel ? "
" No ; I don't know Master Boxtel, but I know
" What do you mean ? "
242 THE BLACK TULIP.
" I mean to say that at Loevestein the man who here
calls himself Isaac Boxtel went by the name of Master
" What do you say to that, Master Boxtel ? "
" I say that this damsel lies, your Highness."
" You deny, therefore, having ever been at Lceve-
stein ? "
Boxtel hesitated ; the fixed and searching glance of
the proud eye of the Prince prevented him from lying.
" I cannot deny having been at Loevestein, your
Highness, but I deny having stolen the tulip."
" You have stolen it, and that from my room," cried
Rosa, with indignation.
" I deny it."
" Now listen to me. Do you deny having followed
me into the garden, on the day when I prepared the
border where I was to plant it ? Do you deny having
followed me into the garden, when I pretended to plant
it ? Do you deny that, on that evening, you rushed,
after my departure, to the spot where you hoped to find
the bulb ? Do you deny having dug in the ground
with your hands but, thank God ! in vain ; as it was
but a stratagem to discover your intentions. Say, do
you deny all this ? "
Boxtel did not deem it fit to answer these several
charges, but, turning to the Prince, continued,
" I have now for twenty years grown tulips at Dort.
I have even acquired some reputation in this art ; one
of my hybrids is entered in the catalogue under the
name of an illustrious personage. I have dedicated it
to the King of Portugal. The truth in the matter is
as I shall now tell your Highness. This damsel knew
that I had produced the Black Tulip, and, in concert
THE BLACK TULIP. 243
with a lover of hers, in the fortress of Loevestein, she
formed the plan of ruining me, by appropriating to her-
self the prize of a hundred thousand guilders, which,
with the help of your Highness's justice, I hope to gain."
" Yah ! " cried Rosa, beyond herself with anger.
" Silence ! " said the Prince.
Then, turning to Boxtel, he said,
" And who is that prisoner to whom you allude as the
lover of this young woman ? "
Rosa nearly swooned, for Cornelius was designated as
a dangerous prisoner, and recommended, by the Prince,
to the especial surveillance of the jailer.
Nothing could have been more agreeable to Boxtel
than this question.
" This prisoner," he said, " is a man whose name in
itself will prove to your Highness what trust you may
place in his probity. He is a prisoner of state, who
was once condemned to death."
" And his name ? "
Rosa hid her face in her hands with a movement of
" His name is Cornelius van Baerle," said Boxtel,
" and he is godson of that villain, Cornelius de Witte."
The Prince gave a start ; his generally quiet eye
flashed, and a death-like paleness spread over his im-
He went up to Rosa, and, with his finger, gave her a
sign to remove her hands from her face.
Rosa obeyed, as if under mesmeric influence, without
having seen the sign.
" It was, then, to follow this man that you came to me
at Leyden to solicit for the transfer of your father ? "
Rosa hung down her head, and, nearly choking, said,
244 THE BLACK TULIP.
" Yes, your Highness."
" Go on," said the Prince to Boxtel.
" I have nothing more to say," Isaac continued.
" Your Highness knows all. But there is one thing
which I did not intend to say, because I did not wish to
make this girl blush for her ingratitude. I came to
Loevestein because I had business there. On this
occasion I made the acquaintance of old Gryphus, and,
falling in love with his daughter, made an offer of
marriage to her ; and, not being rich, I committed the
imprudence of mentioning to them my prospect of
gaining a hundred thousand guilders, in proof of which
I showed to them the black tulip. Her lover, having
himself made a show at Dort of cultivating tulips, to
hide his political intrigues, they now plotted together
for my ruin. On the eve of the day when the flower
was expected to open, the tulip was taken away by this
young woman. She carried it to her room, from whence
I had the good luck to recover it, at the very moment
when she had the impudence to dispatch a messenger
to announce to the members of the Horticultural Society
that she had produced the Grand Black Tulip. But
she did not stop there. There is no doubt but that,
during the few hours which she kept the flower in her
room, she showed it to some persons, whom she may
now call as witnesses. But, fortunately, your Highness
has now been warned against this impostor and her
" Oh, my God ! my God ! what infamous falsehoods,"
said Rosa, bursting into tears, and throwing herself at
the feet of the Stadtholder, who, although thinking her
guilty, felt pity for her dreadful agony.
" You have done very wrong, my child," he said,
THE BLACK TULIP. 245
" and your lover shall be punished for having thus badly
advised you. For you are so young, and have such an
honest look, that I am inclined to believe the mischief
to have been his doing, and not yours."
" Monseigneur ! Monseigneur ! " cried Rosa. " Cor-
nelius is not guilty."
" Not guilty of having advised you ; that's what you
want to say, is it not ? "
" What I wish to say, your Highness, is that Corne-
lius is as little guilty of the second crime imputed to
him as he was of the first."
" Of the first ? And do you know what was his first
crime ? Do you know of what he was accused and con-
victed ? Of having, as an accomplice of Cornelius de
Witte, concealed the correspondence of the Grand Pen-
sionary and the Marquis de Louvois."
" Well, sir, he was ignorant of this correspondence
being deposited with him ; completely ignorant. I am as
certain, as of my life, that if it were not so he would
have told me ; for how could that pure mind have har-
boured a secret without revealing it to me ? No, no,
your Highness, I repeat it, and even at the risk of incur-
ring your displeasure, Cornelius is no more guilty of
the first crime than of the second ; and of the second
no more than of the first. Oh, would to Heaven that
you knew my Cornelius, Monseigneur ! "
" He is a De Witte ! " cried Boxtel. " His Highness
knows only too much of him, having once granted him
" Silence ! " said the Prince ; " all these affairs of state,
as I have already said, are completely out of the province
of the Horticultural Society of Haarlem."
246 THE BLACK TULIP.
Then, knitting his brow, he added,
" As to the tulip, make yourself easy, Master Boxtel ;
you shall have justice done to you."
Boxtel bowed, with a heart full of joy, and received
the congratulations of the President.
" You, my child," William of Orange continued, " you
were going to commit a crime. I shall not punish you ;
but the real evildoer will pay the penalty for both. A
man of his name may be a conspirator, and even a traitor,
but he ought not to be a thief."
"A thief!" cried Rosa. "Cornelius a thief! Pray,
your Highness, do not say such a word ; it would kill
him if he knew it. If theft there has been, I swear to
you, sir, no one else but this man has committed it."
" Prove it," Boxtel coolly remarked.
" I shall prove it. With God's help, I shall."
Then, turning towards Boxtel, she asked,
" The tulip is yours ? "
" How many suckers were there of it ? "
Boxtel hesitated for a moment, but, after a short
consideration, he came to the conclusion that she would
not ask this question if there were none besides the two
bulbs of which he had known already. He therefore
" What has become of these suckers ? "
" Oh ! what has become of them ? Well, one has
failed ; the second has produced the black tulip."
" And the third ? "
" The third ! "
" The third where is it ? "
" I have it at home," said Boxtel, quite confused.
THE BLACK TULIP. 247
" At home ? Where ? At Lcevestein, or at Dort ? "
" At Dort," said Boxtel.
" You lie ! " cried Rosa. " Monseigneur," she con-
tinued, whilst turning round to the Prince, " I will tell
you the true story of those three suckers. The first
was crushed by my father in the prisoner's cell, and
this man is quite aware of it, for he himself wanted to
get hold of it, and being baulked in his hope, he very
nearly fell out with my father, who had been the cause
of his disappointment. The second sucker, planted by
me, has produced the Black Tulip ; and the third and
last " saying this, she drew it from her bosom " here
it is, in the very same paper in which it was wrapped
up together with the two others. When about to be led
to the scaffold, Cornelius van Baerle gave me all the
three. Take it, Monseigneur, take it."
And Rosa, unfolding the paper, offered the bulb to
the Prince, who took it from her hands and examined it.
" But, Monseigneur, this young woman may have
stolen the bulb, as she did the tulip," Boxtel said, with
a faltering voice, and evidently alarmed at the attention
with which the Prince examined the bulb ; and even
more at the movements of Rosa, who. was reading some
lines written on the paper which remained in her hands.
Her eyes suddenly lighted up ; she read, with breath-
less anxiety, the mysterious paper over and over again ;
and at last, uttering a cry, held it out to the Prince and
" Read, Monseigneur, for Heaven's sake, read ! "
William handed the third sucker to Van Herysen,
took the paper and read.
No sooner had he looked at it than he began to stagger ;
his hand trembled, and very nearly let the paper fall
248 THE BLACK TULIP.
to the ground ; and the expression of pain and com-
passion in his features was really frightful to see.
It was that fly-leaf, taken from the Bible, which
Cornelius de Witte had sent to Dort by Craeke, the
servant of his brother John, to request Van Baerle toi
burn the correspondence of the Grand Pensionary with
the Marquis de Louvois.
This request, as the reader may remember, was
couched in the following terms :
"MY DEAR GODSON, Burn the parcel which I have
entrusted to you. Burn it, without looking at it and
without opening it, so that its contents may remain
unknown to yourself. Secrets of this description are
death to those with whom they are deposited. Burn
it, and you will have saved John and Cornelius de
Witte. Farewell, and love me.
" CORNELIUS DE WITTE.
" zoth of August, 1672."
This slip of paper offered the proofs both of Van
Baerle's innocence and of his claim to the property of
Rosa and the Stadtholder exchanged one look only.
That of Rosa was meant to express, " Here, you see
That of the Stadtholder signified, " Be quiet, and
The Prince wiped the cold sweat from his forehead
and slowly folded up the paper, whilst his thoughts
were wandering in that labyrinth without a goal and
without a guide which is called remorse and shame of
THE BLACK TULIP. 249
Soon, however, raising his head with an effort, he
said, in his usual voice, %
" Go, Mr. Boxtel, justice shall be done, I promise you."
Then, turning to the President, he added,
" You, my dear Mynheer van Herysen, take charge
of this young woman and of the tulip. Good-bye."
All bowed, and the Prince left, among the deafening
cheers of the crowd outside.
Boxtel returned to his inn, rather puzzled and uneasy,
tormented by misgivings about that paper which William
had received from the hand of Rosa, and which his
Highness had read, folded up, and so carefully put in
his pocket. What was the meaning of all this ?
Rosa went up to the tulip, tenderly kissed its leaves,
and, with a heart full of happiness and confidence in
the ways of God, broke out in the words,
" Thou knowest best for what end thou madest my
good Cornelius teach me to read."
THE HYMN OF THE FLOWERS.
WHILST the events we have described in our last chapters
were taking place, the unfortunate Van Baerle, forgotten
in his cell in the fortress of Lcevestein, suffered, at the
hands of Gryphus, all that a prisoner can suffer when
his jailer has formed the determination of playing the
part of hangman.
Gryphus, not having received any tidings of Rosa,
nor of Jacob, persuaded himself that all that had hap-
pened was the devil's work, and that Doctor Cornelius
van Baerle had been sent on earth by Satan.
The result of it was, that one fine morning, the third
after the disappearance of Jacob and Rosa, he went up
to the cell of Cornelius in even a greater rage than
The latter, leaning with his elbows on the window-
sill, and supporting his head with his two hands, whilst
his eyes wandered over the distant hazy horizon, where
the windmills of Dort were turning their sails, was
breathing the fresh air in order to be able to keep down
his tears and to fortify himself in his philosophy.
The pigeons were still there, but hope was not ; there
was no future to look forward to.
Alas ! Rosa, being watched, was no longer able to
THE BLACK TULIP. 251
come. Could she not write ? and if so, could she convey
her letters to him ?
No, no. He had seen, during the two preceding days,
too much fury and malignity in the eyes of old Gryphus
to expect that his vigilance would relax, even for one
moment. Moreover, had not she to suffer even worse
torments than those of seclusion and separation ? Did
this brutal, blaspheming, drunken bully take revenge
on his daughter, like the ruthless fathers of the Greek
drama ? and when the Genievre had heated his brain,
would it not give to his arm, which had been only too
well set by Cornelius, even double force ?
The idea that Rosa might, perhaps, be ill-treated
nearly drove Cornelius mad.
He then felt his own powerlessness. He asked him-
self whether God was just in inflicting so much tribula-
tion on two innocent creatures. And certainly in these
moments he began to doubt the wisdom of Providence.
It is one of the curses of misfortune that it begets doubt.
Van Baerle had proposed to write to Rosa, but where
was she ?
He also would have wished to write to the Hague to
be beforehand with Gryphus, who, he had no doubt,
would, by denouncing him, do his best to bring new
storms on his head.
But how should he write ? Gryphus had taken the
paper and pencil from him ; and even if he had both,
he could hardly expect Gryphus to dispatch his letter.
Then Cornelius revolved in his mind all those strata-
gems resorted to by unfortunate prisoners.
He had thought of an attempt to escape, a thing
which never entered his head whilst he could see Rosa
every day ; but the more he thought of it, the more
252 THE BLACK TULIP.
clearly he saw the impracticability of such an attempt.
He was one of those choice spirits who abhor everything
that is common, and who often lose a good chance
through not taking the way of the vulgar, that highroad
of mediocrity which leads to everything.
" How is it possible," said Cornelius to himself, " that
I should escape from Lcevestein, as Grotius has done the
same thing before me ? Has not every precaution been
taken since ? Are not the windows barred ? Are not
the doors of double and even of treble strength ? and
the sentinels ten times more watchful ? And have not
I, besides all this, an Argus so much the more dangerous,
as he has the keen eyes of hatred ? I am losing my
patience since I have lost the joy and company of Rosa,
and especially since I have lost my tulip. Undoubtedly,
one day or other, Gryphus will attack me in a manner
painful to my self-respect, or to my love, or even
threaten my personal safety. I don't know how it is,
but since my imprisonment I feel a strange and almost
irresistible pugnacity. Well, I shall get at the throat
of that old villain, and strangle him."
Cornelius, at these words, stopped for a moment,
biting his lips, and staring out before him ; then, eagerly
returning to an idea which seemed to possess a strange
fascination for him, he continued,
" Well, and once having strangled him, why should
not I take his keys from him ; why not go down the
stairs as if I had done the most virtuous action ; why
not go and fetch Rosa from her room ; why not tell her
all, and jump from her window into the Waal ? I
am expert enough as a swimmer to save both of us.
Rosa ! but, oh, heavens, Gryphus is her father. What-
ever may be her affection for me, she will never approve
THE BLACK TULIP. 253
of my having strangled her father, brutal and malicious
as he has been. It will not do, Cornelius, my fine
fellow it is a bad plan. But, then, what is to become
of me, and how shall I find Rosa again ? "
Such were the cogitations of Cornelius three days
after the sad scene of separation from Rosa, at the
moment when we find him standing at the window.
And at that very moment Gryphus entered.
He held in his hand a huge stick ; his eyes glistening
with spiteful thoughts, a malignant smile played round
his lips, and the whole of his carriage, and even all his
movements, betokened bad and malicious intentions.
Cornelius heard him enter, and guessed that it was
he, but did not turn round, as he knew well that Rosa
was not coming after him.
There is nothing more galling to angry people than
.the coolness of those on whom they wish to vent their
The expense being once incurred, one does not like to
lose it ; one's passion is roused, and one's blood boiling,
so it would be labour lost not to have at least a nice
Gryphus, therefore, on seeing that Cornelius did not
stir, tried to attract his attention by a loud,
" Umph, umph."
Cornelius was humming between his teeth the " Hymn
of Flowers," a sad, but very charming song.
"We are the daughters of the secret fire,
Of the fire which circulates through the veins pi the earth j
We are the daughters of Aurora, and of the morning dew ;
We are the daughters of the air ;
We are the daughters of the water ;
But we are, above all, the daughters of heaven."
This song, the placid melancholy of which was still
254 THE BLACK TULIP.
heightened by its calm and sweet melody, exasperal
He, struck his stick on the stone pavement of the
and called out,
" Halloa ! my warbling gentleman, don't you hear
Cornelius turned round, merely saying,
" Good-morning," and then began his song again.
" Men defile us, and kill us while loving us,
We hang to the earth by a thread ;
This thread is our root, that is to say, our life,
But we raise on high our arms towards heaven."
" Ah, you accursed sorcerer ! you are making game
of me, I believe," roared Gryphus.
" For heaven is our home,
Our true home, as from thence comes our soul,
As thither our soul returns,
Our soul, that is to say, our perfume."
Gryphus went up to the prisoner, and said,
" But you don't see that I have taken means to
get you under, and to force you to confess your crimes."
" Are you mad, my dear Master Gryphus ? " asked
And as he now for the first time observed the frenzied
features, the flashing eyes, and foaming mouth of the
old jailer, he said,
" Bless the man, he is more than mad, it seems, he is
Gryphus flourished his stick above his head, but Van
Baerle moved not, and remained standing with his arms
THE BLACK TULIP. 255
" It seems your intention to threaten me, Master
" Yes, indeed, I threaten you," cried the jailer.
" And with what ? "
" First of all, look what I have in my hand."
" I think that's a stick," said Cornelius calmly, " but
I don't suppose you will threaten me with that."
" Oh, you don't suppose oh ! why not ? "
" Because any jailer who strikes a prisoner is liable
to two penalties ; the first laid down in Article 9 of the
regulations at Loevestein :
' Any jailer, inspector, or turnkey who lays hand
upon a prisoner of State will be dismissed.' '
" Yes, who lays hands," said Gryphus, mad with
rage, " but there is not a word about a stick in the
" And the second," continued Cornelius, " which is not
written in the regulation, but which is to be found else-
" Whosoever takes up the stick will be thrashed by the stick."
Gryphus, growing more and more exasperated by the
calm and sententious tone of Cornelius, brandished his
cudgel, but at the moment when he raised it, Cornelius
rushed at him, snatched it from his hands, and put it
under his own arm.
Gryphus fairly bellowed with rage.
" Hush, hush, my good man," said Cornelius, " don't
do anything to lose your place."
" Ah ! you sorcerer, I'll pinch you worse," roared
" I wish you may."
" Don't you see that my hand is empty ? "
" Yes, I see it, and I am glad of it."
256 THE BLACK TULIP.
" You know that it is not generally so when I come
upstairs in the morning."
" It's true, you generally bring me the worst soup
and the most miserable rations one can imagine. But
that's not a punishment to me ; I eat only bread, and
the worse the bread is to your taste, Gryphus, the better
it is to mine."
" How so ? "
" Oh, it's a very simple thing."
" Well, tell it me," said Gryphus.
" Very willingly. I know that in giving me bad
bread you think you do me harm."
" Certainly, I "don't give it you to please you, you
" Well, then, I, who am a sorcerer, as you know,
change your bad into excellent bread, which I relish
more than the best cake ; and then I have the double
pleasure of eating something that gratifies my palate,
and of doing something that puts you in a rage."
Gryphus answered with a growl.
" Oh ! you confess, then, that you are a sorcerer."
" Indeed, I am one. I don't say it before all the
world, because they might burn me for it; but as we
are alone, I don't mind telling you."
"Well, well, well," answered Gryphus, "but if a
sorcerer can change black bread into white, won't he
die of hunger if he has no bread at all ? "
" What's that ? " said Cornelius.
" Consequently, I shall not bring you any bread at
all, and we shall see how it will be after eight days."
Cornelius grew pale.
"And," continued Gryphus, " we'll begin this very
day ! As you are such a clever sorcerer, why, you had
TfiE BLACK TULIP. 257
better change the furniture of your room into bread ;
as to myself, I shall pocket the eighteen sous which
are paid to me for your board."
" But that's murder," cried Cornelius, carried away
by the first impulse of the very natural terror with
which this horrible mode of death inspired him.
" Well," Gryphus went on in his jeering way, " as
you are a sorcerer, you will live notwithstanding."
Cornelius put on a smiling face again, and said,
" Have not you seen me make the pigeons come here
from Dort ? "
" Well ? " said Gryphus.
" Well, a pigeon is a very dainty morsel, and a man
who eats one every day would not starve, I think."
" And how about the fire ? " said Gryphus.
" Fire ! but you know that I'm in league with the
devil. Do you think the devil will leave me without
fire ? Why, fire is his proper element."
" A man, however healthy his appetite may be, would
not eat a pigeon every day. Wagers have been laid to
do so, and those who made them gave them up."
11 Well, but when I am tired of pigeons, I shall make
the fish of the Waal and of the Meuse come up to me."
Gryphus opened his large eyes, quite bewildered.
" I am rather fond of fish," continued Cornelius ;
" you never let me have any. Well, I shall turn your
starving me to advantage, and regale myself with fish."
Gryphus nearly fainted with anger and with fright, but
he soon rallied, and said, putting his hand in his pocket,-^
" Well, as you force me to it," and with these words
he drew forth a clasp-knife and opened it.
" Halloa, a knife ! " said Cornelius, preparing to
defend himself with his stick.
IN WHICH VAN BAERLE, BEFORE LEAVING LOEVESTEIN,
SETTLES ACCOUNTS WITH GRYPHUS.
THE two remained silent for some minutes Gryphus
on the offensive, and Van Baerle on the defensive.
Then, as the situation might be prolonged to an in-
definite length, Cornelius, anxious to know something
more of the causes which had so fiercely exasperated
his jailer, spoke first, by putting the question,
" Well, what do you want, after all ? "
" I'll tell you what I want," answered Gryphus. " I
want you to restore to me my daughter Rosa."
" Your daughter ? " cried Van Baerle.
" Yes, my daughter Rosa, whom you have taken from
me by your devilish magic. Now, will you tell me
where she is ? "
And the attitude of Gryphus became more and more
" Rosa is not at Lcevestein ? " cried Cornelius.
" You know well she is not. Once more, will you
restore her to me ? "
" I see," said Cornelius : " this is a trap you are lay-
ing for me."
" Now, for the last time, will you tell me where my
daughter is ? "
THE BLACK TULIP. 259
" Guess it, you rogue, if you don't know it."
" Only wait, only wait/' growled Gryphus, white with
rage, and with quivering lips, as his brain began to turn.
" Ah, you will not tell me anything ? Well, I'll unlock
your teeth ! "
He advanced a step towards Cornelius, and said,
showing him the weapon which he held in his hand,
" Do you see this knife ? Well, I have killed more
than fifty black cocks with it, and I vow I'll kill their
master the devil as well as them."
" But, you blockhead," said Cornelius, " will you
really kill me ? "
" I shall open your heart, to see in it the place where
you hide my daughter."
Saying this, Gryphus in his frenzy rushed towards
Cornelius, who had barely time to retreat behind his
table to avoid the first thrust. But as Gryphus con-
tinued, with horrid threats, to brandish his huge knife,
and as, although out of the reach of his weapon, yet
as long as it remained in the madman's hand the ruffian
might fling it at him, Cornelius lost no time, and,
availing himself of the stick, which he held tight under
his arm, dealt the jailer a vigorous blow on the wrist
of that hand which held the knife.
The knife fell to the ground, and Cornelius put his
foot on it.
Then, as Gryphus seemed bent upon engaging in a
struggle which the pain in his wrist, and shame for
having allowed himself to be disarmed, would have
made desperate, Cornelius took a decisive step, belabour-
ing his jailer with the most heroic self-possession, and
deliberately aiming his blows at him.
It was not long before Gryphus begged for mercy.
26V THE BLACK TULIP.
But before begging for mercy he had lustily roared
for help, and his cries had roused all the functionaries
of the prison. Two turnkeys, an inspector, and three
or four guards made their appearance all at once and
found Cornelius still using the stick, with the knife
under his foot.
At the sight of these witnesses, who could not know all
the circumstances which had provoked and might justify
his offence, Cornelius felt that he was irretrievably lost.
In fact, appearances were sadly against him.
In one moment Cornelius was disarmed, and Gryphus
raised and supported ; and bellowing with rage and
pain, he was able to count on his back and shoulders the
bruises which were beginning to swell like the hills
dotting the slopes of a mountain ridge.
A protocol of the violence practised by the prisoner
against his jailer was immediately drawn up, and as it
was made on the depositions of Gryphus, it certainly
could not be said to be too tame the prisoner being
charged with neither more nor less than with an attempt
to murder, for a long time premeditated, with open re-
Whilst the charge was made out against Cornelius,
Gryphus, whose presence was no longer necessary after
having made his depositions, was taken down by his
turnkeys to his lodge, groaning, and covered with bruises.
During this time the guards who had seized Cornelius
busied themselves in charitably informing their prisoner
of the usages and customs of Loevestein, which, how-
ever, he knew as well as they did. The regulations had
been read to him at the moment of his entering the
prison, and certain articles in them remained fixed in
THE BLACK TULIP. 261
Among other things, they told him that this regula-
tion had been carried out to its full extent in the case
of a prisoner named Mathias, who in 1668 that is to
say, five years before had committed a much less violent
act of rebellion than that of which Cornelius was guilty.
He had found his soup too hot, and thrown it at the
head of the chief turnkey, who, in consequence of this
ablution, had been put to the inconvenience of having
his skin come off as he wiped his face.
Mathias was taken within twelve hours from his cell,
then led to the jailer's lodge, where he was registered
as leaving Lcevestein, then taken to the Esplanade,
from which there is a very fine prospect over a wide
expanse of country. There they fettered his hands,
bandaged his eyes, and let him say his prayers.
Hereupon he was invited to go down on his knees,
and the guards of Loevestein, twelve in number, at a
sign from a sergeant, very cleverly lodged a musket ball
each in his body.
In consequence of this proceeding Mathias inconti-
nently did then and there die.
Cornelius listened with the greatest attention to this
delightful recital, and then said,
" Ah ! ah ! within twelve hours, you say ? "
" Yes ; the twelfth hour had not even struck, if I re-
member right/' said the guard, who had told him the
" Thank you," said Cornelius.
The guard still had the smile on his face, with which
he accompanied and as it were accentuated his tale,
when footsteps and a jingling of spurs were heard ascend-
ing the staircase.
The guards fell back to allow an officer to pass, who
262 THE BLACK TULIP.
entered the cell of Cornelius at the moment when the
clerk of Loevestein was still making out his report.
" Is this No. ii ? " he asked.
' Yes, Captain/' answered a non-commissioned officer.
" Then this is the cell of the prisoner Cornelius van
Baerle ? "
" Exactly, Captain."
" Where is the prisoner ? "
" Here I am sir," answered Cornelius, growing rather
pale, notwithstanding all his courage.
" You are Doctor Cornelius van Baerle ? " asked he,
this time addressing the prisoner himself.
" Yes, sir."
" Then follow me."
" Oh ! oh ! " said Cornelius, whose heart felt oppressed
by the first dread of death. " What quick work they
make here in the fortress of Lcevestein ! And the rascal
talked to me of twelve hours ! "
" Ah ! what did I tell you ? " whispered the com-
municative guard into the ear of the culprit.
" A He."
" How so ? "
" You promised me twelve hours."
" Ah yes. But here comes to you an aid-de-camp of
his Highness, even one of his most intimate companions,
Van Decken. Zounds ! they did not grant such an
honour to poor Mathias."
" Come, come," said Cornelius, drawing a long
breath " come, I'll show to these people that an
honest burgher, godson of Cornelius de Witte, can,
without flinching, receive as many musket-balls as that
Saying this, he passed proudly before the clerk, who,
THE BLACK TULIP, 263
being interrupted in his work, ventured to say to the
" But, Captain van Decken, the protocol is not yet
"It is not worth while finishing it," answered the
" All right/' replied the clerk, philosophically putting
up his paper and pen in a greasy and well-worn writing
"It was written," thought poor Cornelius, "that I
should not, in this world, give ray name either to a
child, to a flower, or to a book, the three things by which
a man's memory is perpetuated."
But repressing his melancholy thoughts, he followed
the officer with a resolute heart, and carrying his head
Cornelius counted the steps which led to the Esplanade,
regretting that he had not asked the guard how many
there were of them, which the man in his officious com-
plaisance would not have failed to tell him.
What the poor prisoner was most afraid of during
this walk, which he considered as leading him to the
end of the journey of life, was to see Gryphus and not
to see Rosa. What savage satisfaction would glisten in
the eyes of the father, and what sorrow dim those of the
Indeed, the poor tulip-fancier needed all his courage
and resolution not to burst into tears at the thought of
the latter, and of her foster-daughter the black tulip.
Although he looked to the right and to the left, he saw
neither Rosa nor Gryphus.
On reaching the Esplanade he bravely looked about
for the guards who were to be his executioners, and in
THE BLACK TULIP,
reality saw a dozen soldiers assembled. But they were
not standing in line or carrying muskets, but talking
together so gaily that Cornelius felt almost shocked.
All at once Gryphus, limping, staggering, and sup-
porting himself on a crooked stick, came forth from the
jailer's lodge ; his old eyes, gray as those of a cat, were
lit up by a gleam in which all his hatred was concen-
trated. He then began to pour forth such a torrent of
disgusting imprecations against Cornelius that the latter,
addressing the officer, said,
" I do not think it very becoming, sir, that I should
be thus insulted by this man, especially at a moment
"Well, hear me," said the officer, laughing, "it is
quite natural that this worthy fellow should bear you a
grudge ; you seem to have given it him very soundly."
" But, sir, it was only in self-defence."
" Never mind," said the Captain, shrugging his shoul-
ders like a true philosopher, ''let him talk; what does
it matter to you now ? "
The cold sweat stood on the brow of Cornelius at this
answer, which he looked upon somewhat in the light of
brutal irony, especially as coming from an officer of
whom he had heard it said that he was attached to the
person of the Prince.
The unfortunate tulip-fancier then felt that he had no
more resources and no more friends, and resigned himself
to his fate.
"God's will be done," he muttered, bowing his head;
then turning towards the officer who seemed compla-
cently to wait until he had finished his meditations, he
" Please, sir, tell me now, where am I to go ?"
THE BLACK TULIP. 265
The officer pointed to a carriage drawn by four horses,
which reminded him very strongly of that which, under
similar circumstances, had before attracted his attention
at the Buitenhof .
"Enter," said the officer.
" Ah ! " muttered Cornelius to himself, " it seems they
are not going to treat me to the honours of the Espla-
He uttered these words loud enough for the chatty
guard, who was at his heels, to overhear him.
That kind soul very likely thought it his duty to give
Cornelius some new information; for, approaching the
door of the carriage whilst the officer, with one foot on
the step, was still giving some orders, he whispered to
" Condemned prisoners have sometimes been taken to
their own town, to be made an example of, and they
have then been executed before the door of their own
house. It's all according to circumstances."
Cornelius thanked him by signs, and then said to
"Well, here is a fellow who never misses giving con-
solation whenever an opportunity presents itself. In
truth, my friend, I'm very much obliged to you. Good-
The carriage drove away.
" Ah, you villain, you brigand ! " roared Gryphus,
clenching his fists at the victim, who was escaping from
his clutches. "Is it not a shame that this fellow gets
off without having restored my daughter to me ? "
" If they take me to Dort," thought Cornelius, " I
shall see, in passing my house, whether my poor borders
>have been much spoiled."
WHEREIN THE READER BEGINS TO GUESS THE KIND OF
EXECUTION THAT WAS AWAITING CORNELIUS VAN
THE carriage rolled on during the whole day ; it passed
on the right of Dort, went through Rotterdam, and
reached Delft. At five o'clock in the evening at least
twenty leagues had been travelled.
Cornelius addressed some questions to the officer, who
was at the same time his guard and his companion ; but
cautious as were his inquiries, he had the disappointment
of receiving no answer.
Cornelius regretted that he had no longer by his side
that chatty soldier who would talk without being ques-
That obliging person would, undoubtedly, have given
him as pleasant details and exact explanations, concern-
ing this third strange part of his adventures, as he had
done concerning the two first.
The travellers passed the night in the carriage. On
the following morning, at dawn, Cornelius found himself
beyond Leyden, having the North Sea on his left and
the Zuyder Zee on his right.
Three hours after he entered Haarlem.
Cornelius vva not aware of what had passed at
THE BLACK TULIP. 267
Haarlem, and we shall leave him in ignorance of it until
the course of events enlighten him.
But the reader has a right to know all about it, even
before our hero, and therefore we shall not make him
We have seen that Rosa and the tulip, like two orphan
sisters, had been left by the Prince William of Orange
at the house of the President van Herysen.
Rosa did not hear again from the Stadtholder until the
evening of that day on which she had seen him face to
About evening an officer called at Van Herysen's
house. He came from his Highness, with a request
for Rosa to appear at the Town Hall.
There, in the large Council Room, into which she was
ushered, she found the Prince writing.
He was alone, with a large Frisian greyhound at his
feet, which looked at him with a steady glance, as if the
faithful animal were wishing to do what no man could
do read the thoughts of his master in his face.
William continued his writing for a moment; then
raising his eyes, and seeing Rosa standing near the
door, he said, without laying down his pen,
" Come here, my child."
Rosa advanced a few steps towards the table.
" Sit down," he said,
Rosa obeyed, for the Prince was fixing his eyes upon
her; but he had scarcely turned them again to his
paper when she bashfully retired to the door.
The Prince finished his letter.
During this time the greyhound went up to Rosa,
surveyed her, and began to caress her.
"Ah! ah! ;? said William to his dog, "it's easy to
268 THE BLACK TULIP.
see that she is a countrywoman of yours, and that you
Then turning towards Rosa, and fixing on her his
scrutinizing and at the same time impenetrable glance,
" Now, my child."
The Prince was scarcely twenty-three, and Rosa
eighteen or twenty. He might therefore, perhaps,
better have said, my sister.
" My child," he said, with that strangely commanding
accent which chilled all those who approached him,
" we are alone ; let us speak together."
Rosa began to tremble; and yet there was nothing
but kindness in the expression of the Prince's face.
" Monseigneur," she stammered.
" You have a father at Lcevestein ? "
" Yes, your Highness."
" You do not love him ? "
" I do not at least, not as a daughter ought to do,
" It is not right not to love one's father, but it is right
not to tell a falsehood."
Rosa cast her eyes to the ground.
" What is the reason of your not loving your father ? "
"He is wicked."
" In what way does he show his wickedness ? "
" He ill-treats the prisoners."
"All of them?"
"But don't you bear him a grudge for ill-treating
some one in particular ? "
"My father ill-treats in particular Mynheer van
Baerle, who "
THE BLACK TULIP, 269
" Who is your lover ? "
Rosa started back a step.
" Whom I love, Monseigneur," she answered proudly.
" Since when ? " asked the Prince.
" Since the day when I first saw him."
" And when was that ? "
" The day after that on which the Grand Pensionary
John and his brother Cornelius met with such an awful
The Prince compressed his lips and knit his brow, and
his eyelids dropped so as to hide his eyes for an instant.
After a momentary silence he resumed the conversation.
" But to what can it lead to love a man who is doomed
to live and die in prison ? "
" It will lead, if he lives and dies in prison, to my
aiding him in life and in death."
" And would you accept the lot of being the wife of a
prisoner ? "
" As the wife of Mynheer van Baerle, I should, under
any circumstances, be the proudest and happiest woman
in the world ; but "
" I dare not say, Monseigneur."
" There is something like hope in your tone ; what do
you hope ? "
She raised her moist and beautiful eyes, and looked
at William with a glance full of meaning, which was
calculated to stir up in the recesses of his heart the
clemency which was slumbering there.
" Ah ! I understand you," he said.
Rosa, with a smile, clasped her hands.
" You hope in me ? " said the Prince.
" Yes, Monseigneur."
270 THE BLACK TULIP.
The Prince sealed the letter which he had just written,
and summoned one of his officers, to whom he said,
"Captain van Decken, carry this dispatch to Loeve-
stein; you will read the orders which I give to the
Governor, and execute them as far as they regard
The officer bowed, and a few minutes afterwards the
gallop of a horse was heard resounding in the vaulted
" My child," continued the Prince, " the feast of the
tulip will be on Sunday next that is to say, the day
after to-morrow. Make yourself smart with these five
hundred guilders, as I wish that day to be a great day
" How does your Highness wish me to be dressed ? *
" Take the costume of a Frisian bride," said William ;
" it will suit you very well indeed."
THE fifteenth of May 1673 was a great day for the
good city of Haarlem. It had to celebrate a threefold
festival. In the first place, the black tulip had been
produced ; secondly, the Prince William of Orange, as
a true Hollander, had promised to be present at the
ceremony of its inauguration; and thirdly, it was a
point of honour with the States to show to the French,
at the conclusion of such a disastrous war as that of
1672, that the flooring of the Batavian Republic was
solid enough for its people to dance on it, with the
accompaniment of the cannon of their fleets.
The Horticultural Society of Haarlem had shown
itself worthy of its fame, by giving a hundred thousand
guilders for the bulb of a tulip. The town, which did
not wish to remain behindhand, voted a like sum,
which was placed in the hands of that notable body to
solemnize the auspicious event.
And, indeed, on the Sunday fixed for the ceremony,
there was such a stir among the people, and such an
enthusiasm among the townsfolk, that even a French-
man, who laughs at everything at all times, could not
have helped admiring the character of those honest
Hollanders, who were equally ready to spend their
272 THE BLACK TULIP.
money for the construction of a man-of-war that is to
say, for the support of national honour as they were
to reward the grower of a new flower, destined to bloom
for one day, and to serve during that day to divert the
ladies, the learned, and the curious.
At the head of the Notables and of the Horticultural
Committee shone Mynheer van Herysen, dressed in
his richest habiliments.
The worthy man had done his best to resemble his
favourite flower, in the sombre and stern elegance of
his garments ; and we are bound to record, to his
honour, that he had perfectly succeeded in his object.
Dark crimson velvet, dark purple silk, and jet-black
cloth, with linen of dazzling whiteness, composed the
festive dress of the President, who marched at the head
of his Committee, carrying an enormous nosegay, like
that which, a hundred and twenty-one years later,
Monsieur de Robespierre displayed at the festival of
" The Supreme Being."
There was, however, a little difference between the
two : very different from the French tribune, whose
heart was so full of hatred and ambitious vindictive-
ness, the honest President carried in his bosom a heart
as innocent as the flowers which he held in his hand.
Behind the Committee, who were as gay as a meadow,
and as fragrant as a garden in spring, marched the
learned societies of the town, the magistrates, the mili-
tary, the nobles, and the boors.
The people, even among the respected republicans of
the Seven Provinces, had no place assigned to them in
the procession ; they merely lined the streets.
This is the place for the multitude, which, with true
philosophic spirit, waits until the triumphal pageants
THE BLACK TULIP. 273
have passed to know what to say of them, and some-
times also to know what to do.
This time, however, there was no question either of
the triumph of Pompey or of Caesar ; neither of the
defeat of Mithridates nor of the conquest of Gaul.
The procession was as placid as the passing of a flock
of lambs, and as inoffensive as a flight of birds sweep-
ing through the air.
Haarlem had no other triumphers, except its
gardeners. Worshipping flowers, Haarlem idolized the
In the centre of this pacific and fragrant cortege the
black tulip was seen, carried on a litter which was covered
with white velvet and fringed with gold.
It was arranged that the Prince Stadtholder himself
should give the prize of a hundred thousand guilders,
which interested the people at large ; and it was thought
that, perhaps, he would make a speech which interested
more particularly his friends and enemies.
The whole population of Haarlem, swelled by that of
the neighbourhood, had arranged itself along the beau-
tiful avenues of trees, with the fixed resolution, this
time, to applaud neither the heroes of war nor those of
science, but merely the conqueror of nature, who had
forced her to produce the black tulip.
Nothing, however, is more fickle than such a resolution
of the people. When a crowd is once in the humour to
cheer, it is just the same as when it begins to hiss it
never knows when to stop.
It therefore, in the first place s cheered Van Herysen
and his nosegay, then the corporations ; then followed a
cheer for the people ; and at last, and for once with great
justice, there was one for the excellent music with which
274 THE BLACK TULIP.
the gentlemen of the town council generously treated
the assemblage at every halt.
All eyes were on the lookout for the hero of the day
of course we mean the grower of the tulip.
This hero made his appearance at the conclusion of
the reading of the report, which we have seen Van
Herysen drawing up with such conscientiousness; and
he produced almost a greater sensation than the Stadt-
There he walked, covered with flowers down to his
girdle, well combed and brushed, and entirely dressed in
scarlet, a colour which contrasted strongly with his black
hair and yellow complexion.
This hero, radiant with rapturous joy, who had the
distinguished honour of making the people forget the
speech of Van Herysen, and even the presence of the
Stadtholder, was Isaac Boxtel, who saw, carried on his
right before him, the black tulip, his pretended daughter ;
and on his left, in a large purse, the hundred thousand
guilders in glittering gold pieces, towards which he was
constantly squinting, fearful of losing sight of them for
Another quarter of an hour and the Prince will arrive,
and the procession will halt for the last time. After the
tulip is placed on its throne, the Prince, yielding pre-
cedence to this rival for the popular adoration, will take
a magnificently emblazoned parchment, on which is
written the name of the grower; and his Highness, in
a loud and audible tone, will proclaim him to be the
discoverer of a wonder that Holland, by the instru-
mentality of him, Boxtel, has forced nature to produce
a black flower, which shall henceforth be called Tulipa
THE BLACK TULIP. 275
From time to time, however, Boxtel withdrew his
eyes for a moment from the tulip and the purse, timidly
looking among the crowd, for, more than anything, he
dreaded to descry there the pale face of the pretty
She would have been a spectre spoiling the joy of
the festival for him, just as Banquo's ghost did that of
And yet, if the truth must be told, this wretch, who
had stolen what was the boast of a man and the dowry
of a woman, did not consider himself as a thief. He
had so intently watched this tulip, followed it so eagerly
from the drawer in Cornelius's dry-room to the scaffold
of the Buitenhof, and from the scaffold to the fortress
of Lcevestein; he had seen it bud and grow in Rosa's
window, and so often warmed the air round it with his
breath, that he felt as if no one had a better right to call
himself its producer than he had; and any one who
would now take the black tulip from him would have
appeared to him as a thief.
Yet he did not perceive Rosa ; his joy, therefore, was
In the centre of a circle of magnificent trees, which
were decorated with garlands and inscriptions, the pro-
cession halted, amidst the sounds of lively music; and
the young damsels of Haarlem made their appearance
to escort the tulip to the raised seat which it was to
occupy on the platform, by the side of the gilded chair
of his Highness the Stadtholder.
And the proud tulip, raised on its pedestal, soon over-
looked the assembled crowd of people, who clapped their
hands, and made the old town of Haarlem re-echo with
their tremendous cheers.
A LAST REQUEST.
IN this solemn moment, and whilst the cheers still
resounded, a carriage was driving along the road on the
outskirts of the green on which the scene occurred; it
pursued its way slowly, on account of the flocks of
children who were pushed out of the avenue by the
crowd of men and women.
This carriage, covered with dust, and creaking on its
axles, the result of a long journey, enclosed the unfor-
tunate Van Baerle, who was quite dazzled and bewildered
by this festive splendour and bustle.
Notwithstanding the little readiness which his com-
panion had shown in answering his questions concern-
ing his fate, he ventured once more to ask what all
" As you may see, sir," replied the officer, " it is a
" Ah, a feast," said Cornelius, in the sad tone of
indifference of a man to whom no joy remains in this
Then, after some moments' silence, during which the
carriage had proceeded a few yards, he asked once
THE BLACK TULIP. 277
" The feast of the patron saint of Haarlem ? as I
see so many flowers."
"It is indeed a feast in which flowers play a prin-
" Oh, the sweet scents ! oh, the beautiful colours ! "
" Stop, that the gentleman may see," said the officer,
with that frank kindliness which is peculiar to military
men, to the soldier who was acting as postilion.
" Oh, thank you, sir, for your kindness," replied
Van Baerle, in a melancholy tone ; " the joy of others
pains me ; please spare me this pang."
" Just as you wish. Drive on ? I ordered the driver
to stop because I thought it would please you, as you
are said to love flowers, and especially that, the feast
of which is celebrated to-day."
" And what flower is that ? "
" The tulip."
"The tulip!" cried Van Baerle. "Is to-day the
feast of the tulip ? "
" Yes, sir ; but as this spectacle displeases you, let
us drive on."
The officer was about to give the order to proceed,
but Cornelius stopped him, a painful thought having
struck him. He asked, with faltering voice,
" Is the prize given to-day, sir ? "
" Yes, the prize for the black tulip."
Cornelius's cheek flushed, his whole frame trembled,
and the cold sweat stood on his brow.
" Alas ! sir," he said, " all these good people will be
as unfortunate as myself, for they will not see the
solemnity which they have come to witness, or at least
they will see it incompletely."
278 THE BLACK TULIP.
" What is it you mean to say ? "
" I mean to say," replied Cornelius, throwing himselt
back in the carriage, " that the black tulip will not be
found, except by one whom I know."
" In this case," said the officer, " the person whom
you know has found it, for the thing which the whole
of Haarlem is looking at at this moment is neither
more nor less than the black tulip."
" The black tulip i " cried Van Baerle, thrusting half
his body out of the carriage-window* " Where is it ?
where is it ? "
" Down there, on the throne. Don't you see ? "
" I do see it."
" Come along, sir," said the officer. " Now we must
" Oh ! have pity, have mercy, sir," said Van Baerle ;
" don't take me away. Let me look once more. Is
what I see down there the black tulip ? Quite black ?
Is it possible ? O sir, have you seen it ? It must
have specks, it must be imperfect, it must only be dyed
black ; ah, if I were there ! I should see it at once.
Let me alight ; let me see it close, I beg of you."
" Are you mad, sir ? How could I allow such a
thing ? "
" I implore you."
" But you forget that you are a prisoner."
" It is true I am a prisoner, but I am a man of honour,
and I promise you on my word that I will not run away,
I will not attempt to escape ; only let me see the
" But my orders, sir, my orders." And the officer
again made the driver a sign to proceed.
Cornelius stopped him once more.
THE BLACK TULIP. 279
* f Oh, be forbearing, be generous ; my whole life de-
pends upon your pity. Alas ! perhaps it will not be
much longer. You don't know, sir, what I suffer. You
don't know the struggle going on in my heart and mind ;
for after all," Cornelius cried in despair, " if this were
my tulip, if it were the one which has been stolen from
Rosa ! Oh, I must alight, sir ! I must see the flower !
You may kill me afterwards if you like, but I will see it,
I must see it."
" Be quiet, unfortunate man, and come quickly back
into the carriage, for here is the escort of his Highness
the Stadtholder ; and if the Prince observed any dis-
turbance, or heard any noise, it would be ruin to me, as
well as to you."
Van Baerle, more afraid for his companion than him-
self, threw himself back into the carriage ; but he could
only keep quiet for half a minute, and the first twenty
horsemen had scarcely passed when he again leaned out
of the carriage-window, gesticulating imploringly towards
the Stadtholder at the very moment when he passed.
William, impassible and quiet as usual, was proceed-
ing to the green to fulfil his duty as chairman. He held
in his hand the roll of parchment which, on this festive
day, had become his baton.
Seeing the man gesticulate with imploring mien, and
perhaps also recognizing the officer who accompanied
him, his Highness ordered his carriage to stop.
In one instant his snorting steeds stood still, at a
distance of about six yards from the carriage in which
Van Baerle was caged.
" What is this ? " the Prince asked the officer, who
at the first order of the Stadtholder had jumped out of
the carnage, and was respectively approaching him.
THE BLACK TULIP.
"' Monseigneur/* he cried, " this is the prisoner of State
whom I have fetched from Loevestein, and whom I have
brought to Haarlem according to your Highnesses com-
" What does he want ? "
" He entreats for permission to stop here for a
" To see the black tulip, Monseigneur/' said Van
Baerle, clasping his hands ; " and when I have seen it,
when I have seen what I desire to know, I am quite
ready to die, if die I must ; but in dying I shall bless
your Highness's mercy for having allowed me to witness
the glorification of my work/'
It was, indeed, a curious spectacle to see these two
men at the windows of their several carriages ; the one
surrounded by his guards and all powerful, the other
a prisoner and miserable ; the one going to mount a
throne, the other believing himself to be on his way
to the scaffold.
William, looking with his cold glance on Cornelius,
listened to his anxious and urgent request.
Then, addressing himself to the officer, he said,
" Is this person the mutinous prisoner who has
attempted to kill his jailer at Loevestein ? "
Cornelius heaved a sigh and hung his head. His
good-tempered, honest face turned pale and red at the
same instant. These words of the all-powerful Prince,
who, by some secret messenger, unavailable to other
mortals, had already been apprised of his crime, seemed
to him to forebode not only his doom, but also the
refusal of his last request.
He did not try to make a struggle, or to defend Vim-
self ; and he presented to the Prince the affecting
THE BLACK TULIP. 281
spectacle of despairing innocence, like that of a child
a spectacle which was fully understood and felt by the
great mind and the great heart of him who observed it.
" Allow the prisoner to alight, and let him see the
black tulip ; it is well worth being seen once."
" Thank you, Monseigneur, thank you," said Cor-
nelius, nearly swooning with joy, and staggering on the
steps of his carriage ; had not the officer supported
him, our poor friend would have made his thanks to
his Highness prostrate on his knees with his forehead
in the dust.
After having granted this permission, the Prince pro-
ceeded on his way over the green amidst the most en-
He soon arrived at the platform, and the thunder of
cannon shook the air.
VAN BAERLE, led by four guards, who pushed their
way through the crowd, sidled up to the black tulip,
towards which his gaze was attracted with increasing
interest the nearer he approached to it.
He saw it that unique flower, which he was to see
once, and no more. He saw it at the distance of six
paces, and was delighted with its perfection and grace-
fulness ; he saw it surrounded by young and beautiful
girls, who formed, as it were, a guard of honour for this
queen of excellence and purity. And yet, the more he
ascertained with his own eyes the perfection of the
flower, the more wretched and miserable he felt. He
looked all around for some one to whom he might
address only one question ; but his eyes everywhere
met strange faces, and the attention of all was directed
towards the chair of state, on which the Stadtholder had
William rose, casting a tranquil glance over the en-
thusiastic crowd, and his keen eye rested by turns on
the three extremities of a. triangle, formed opposite to
him by three persons of very different interests and
THE BLACK TULIP. 283
At one of the angles, Boxtel, trembling with im-
patience, and quite absorbed in watching the Prince,
the guilders, the black tulip, and the crowd.
At the other, Cornelius, panting for breath, silent,
and his attention, his eyes, his life, his heart, his love
quite concentrated on the black tulip.
And, thirdly, standing on a raised step among the
maidens of Haarlem, a beautiful Frisian girl, dressed
in fine scarlet woollen cloth, embroidered with silver,
and covered with a lace veil, which fell in rich folds
from her head-dress of gold brocade ; in one word,
Rosa, who, faint and with swimming eyes, was leaning
on the arm of one of the officers of William.
The Prince then slowly unfolded the parchment, and
said, with a calm clear voice which, although low, made
itself perfectly heard amidst the respectful silence,
which all at once arrested the breath of fifty thousand
" You know what has brought us here.
" A prize of one hundred thousand guilders has been
promised to whosoever should grow the black tulip.
" The black tulip has been grown ; here it is before
your eyes, coming up to all the conditions required by
the programme of the Horticultural Society of Haarlem.
" The history of its production, and the name of its
grower, will be inscribed in the book of honour of the
" Let the person approach to whom the black tulip
In pronouncing these words, the Prince, to judge of
the effect they produced, surveyed, with his eagle eye,
the three extremities of the triangle.
He saw Boxtel rushing forward. He saw Cornelius
284 THE BLACK TULIP.
make an involuntary movement ; and, lastly, he saw
the officer who was taking care of Rosa lead, or rather,
push her forwards towards him.
At the sight of Rosa, a double cry arose on the right
and left of the Prince.
Boxtel, thunderstruck, and Cornelius, in joyful amaze-
ment, both exclaimed,
" Rosa ! Rosa ! "
" This tulip is yours, is it not, my child ? " said the
" Yes, Monseigneur," stammered Rosa, whose striking
beauty excited a general murmur of applause.
" Oh ! " muttered Cornelius, " she has then belied
me, when she said this flower was stolen from her.
Oh, that is why she left Loevestein ! Alas ! am I
then forgotten, betrayed by her whom I thought my
best friend on earth ? "
" Oh ! " sighed Boxtel, " I am lost."
" This tulip," continued the Prince, " will therefore
bear the name of its producer, and figure in the cata-
logue under the title, Tulipa nigra Rosa Barl&ensis,
which will henceforth be the name of this damsel."
And at the same time William took Rosa's hand,
and placed it in that of a young man, who rushed forth,
pale and beyond himself with joy, to the foot of the
throne, greeting alternately the Prince and his bride ;
and who, with a grateful look to heaven, returned his
thanks to the Giver of all this happiness.
At the same moment, there fell at the feet of the
President, Van Herysen, another man, struck down by
a very different emotion.
Boxtel, crushed by the failure of his hopes, lay sense-
less on the ground.
THE BLACK TULIP. 285
When they raised him, and examined his pulse and
his heart, he was quite dead.
This incident did not much disturb the festival, as
neither the Prince nor the President seemed to mind
Cornelius started back in dismay, when in the thief,
in the pretended Jacob, he recognized his neighbour
Isaac Boxtel, whom, in the innocence of his heart, he had
not for one instant suspected of such a wicked action.
Then, to the sound of trumpets, the procession marched
back without any change in its order, except that Boxtel
was now dead, and that Cornelius and Rosa were walk-
ing triumphantly side by side and hand in hand.
On their arriving at the Hotel de Ville, the Prince,
pointing with his finger to the purse with the hundred
thousand guilders, said to Cornelius,
" It is difficult to say by whom this money is gained
by you or by Rosa ; for if you have found the black
tulip, she has nursed it, and brought it into flower. It
would, therefore, be unjust to consider it as her dowry.
It is the gift of the town of Haarlem to the tulip."
Cornelius wondered what the Prince was driving at.
The latter continued,
" I give to Rosa the sum of a hundred thousand
guilders, which she has fairly earned, and which she can
offer to you. They are the reward of her love, her
courage, and her honesty. As to you, sir thanks
to Rosa again, who has furnished the proofs of your
innocence ' '
And, saying these words, the Prince handed to Cor-
nelius that fly-leaf of the Bible on which was written
the letter of Cornelius de Witte, and in which the third
sucker had been wrapped.
286 THE BLACK TULIP.
"As to you, it has come to light that you were im-
prisoned for a crime which you had not committed.
This means, that you are not only free, but that your
property will be restored to you, as the property of an
innocent man cannot be confiscated. Cornelius van
Baerle, you are the godson of Cornelius de Witte, and
the friend of his brother John. Remain worthy of the
name you have received from one of them, and of the
friendship you have enjoyed with the other. The two
De Wittes, wrongly judged, and wrongly punished in
a moment of popular error, were two great citizens, of
whom Holland is now proud."
The Prince, after these last words, which, contrary to
his custom, he pronounced with a voice full of emotion,
gave his hands to the lovers to kiss, whilst they were
kneeling before him.
Then, heaving a sigh, he said,
" Alas ! you are happy, who, dreaming only of what
perhaps is the true glory of Holland, and forms especially
her true happiness, do not attempt to acquire for her
anything beyond the true colours of a tulip."
And, casting a glance towards that point of the com-
pass where France lay, as if he saw new clouds gather-
ing there, he entered his carriage and drove off.
Cornelius, on his part, started on the same day tc
Dort with Rosa, who sent her lover's old housekeepei
as a messenger to her father, to apprise him of all that
had taken place.
Old Gryphus was by no means ready to be reconciled
to his son-in-law. He had not yet forgotten the blows
which he received in that famous encounter. To judge
from the weals which he counted, their number, he
said, amounted to forty-one ; but, at last, in order, asj
THE BLACK TULIP. 287
he declared, not to be less generous than his Highness
the Stadtholder, he consented to make his peace.
Appointed to watch over the tulips, the old man made
the rudest keeper of flowers in the whole of the Seven
It was indeed a sight to see him watching the obnox-
ious moths and butterflies, killing slugs, and driving
away the hungry bees.
As he had heard Boxtel's story, and was furious at
having been the dupe of the pretended Jacob, he de-
stroyed the sycamore behind which the envious Isaac
had spied into the garden ; for the plot of ground be-
longing to him had been bought by Cornelius, and taken
into his own garden.
Rosa, growing not only in beauty but in wisdom also,
after two years of her married life, could read and write
so well that she was able to undertake by herself the
education of two beautiful children which she had
borne in 1674 and 1675, both in May, the month of
As a matter of course, one was a boy, the other a girl,
the former being called Cornelius, the other Rosa.
Van Baerle remained faithfully attached to Rosa and
to his tulips. The whole of his life was devoted to the
happiness of his wife and the culture of flowers, in
the latter of which occupations he was so successful
that a great number of his varieties found a place in
the catalogue of Holland.
The two principal ornaments of his drawing-room
were those two leaves from the Bible of Cornelius de
Witte, in large golden frames, one of them containing
the letter in which his godfather enjoined him to burn
the correspondence of the Marquise de Louvois, and the
288 THE BLACK TULIP.
other his own will, in which he bequeathed to Rosa his
suckers under condition that she should marry a young
man of from twenty-six to twenty-eight years, who loved
her, and whom she loved a condition which was scru-
pulously fulfilled, although, or rather because, Cornelius
did not die.
And to ward off any envious attempts of another
Isaac Boxtel, he wrote over his door the lines which
Grotius had, on the day of his flight, engraved on the
wall of his prison,
" One has sometimes suffered enough to have a right
ever afterwards to say, I am to<"> happy."
PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY
The black tulip