A cap as ever in his wantonness

Winter set glittering on top of an old yew.


Tall candles stand upon the table, where

Are twisted glasses, ruby-sparked with wine,

Clarets and ports. Those topaz bumpers were

Drained from slim, long-necked bottles of the Rhine.

The centre of the board is piled with pipes,

Slender and clean, the still unbaptized clay

Awaits its burning fate. Behind, the vault

Stretches from dim to dark, a groping way

Bordered by casks and puncheons, whose brass stripes

And bands gleam dully still, beyond the gay tumult.


"For good old Master Hilverdink, a toast!"

Clamoured a youth with tassels on his boots.

"Bring out your oldest brandy for a boast,

From that small barrel in the very roots

Of your deep cellar, man. Why here is Max!

Ho! Welcome, Max, you're scarcely here in time.

We want to drink to old Jan's luck, and smoke

His best tobacco for a grand climax.

Here, Jan, a paper, fragrant as crushed thyme,

We'll have the best to wish you luck, or may we choke!"


Max Breuck unclasped his broadcloth cloak, and sat.

"Well thought of, Franz; here's luck to Mynheer Jan."

The host set down a jar; then to a vat

Lost in the distance of his cellar, ran.

Max took a pipe as graceful as the stem

Of some long tulip, crammed it full, and drew

The pungent smoke deep to his grateful lung.

It curled all blue throughout the cave and flew

Into the silver night. At once there flung

Into the crowded shop a boy, who cried to them:


"Oh, sirs, is there some learned lawyer here,

Some advocate, or all-wise counsellor?

My master sent me to inquire where

Such men do mostly be, but every door

Was shut and barred, for late has grown the hour.

I pray you tell me where I may now find

One versed in law, the matter will not wait."

"I am a lawyer, boy," said Max, "my mind

Is not locked to my business, though 'tis late.

I shall be glad to serve what way is in my power.


Then once more, cloaked and ready, he set out,

Tripping the footsteps of the eager boy

Along the dappled cobbles, while the rout

Within the tavern jeered at his employ.

Through new-burst elm leaves filtered the white moon,

Who peered and splashed between the twinkling boughs,

Flooded the open spaces, and took flight

Before tall, serried houses in platoon,

Guarded by shadows. Past the Custom House

They took their hurried way in the Spring-scented night.


Before a door which fronted a canal

The boy halted. A dim tree-shaded spot.

The water lapped the stones in musical

And rhythmic tappings, and a galliot

Slumbered at anchor with no light aboard.

The boy knocked twice, and steps approached. A flame

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