The kitchen and the garden. She had run
In fear of him, his evil leering eye,
And when he came she, bolted in her room,
Refused to show, though gave no reason why.
The spinning of her future had begun,
On quiet nights she heard the whirring of her doom.
Max mended an old goosequill by the fire,
Loathing his work, but seeing no thing to do.
He felt his hands were building up the pyre
To burn two souls, and seized with vertigo
He staggered to his chair. Before him lay
White paper still unspotted by a crime.
"Now, young man, write," said Grootver in his ear.
"`If in two years my vessel should yet stay
From Amsterdam, I give Grootver, sometime
A friend, my daughter for his lawful wife.' Now swear."
And Kurler swore, a palsied, tottering sound,
And traced his name, a shaking, wandering line.
Then dazed he sat there, speechless from his wound.
Grootver got up: "Fair voyage, the brigantine!"
He shuffled from the room, and left the house.
His footsteps wore to silence down the street.
At last the aged man began to rouse.
With help he once more gained his trembling feet.
"My daughter, Mynheer Breuck, is friendless now.
Will you watch over her? I ask a solemn vow."
Max laid his hand upon the old man's arm,
"Before God, sir, I vow, when you are gone,
So to protect your daughter from all harm
As one man may." Thus sorrowful, forlorn,
The situation to Max Breuck appeared,
He gave his promise almost without thought,
Nor looked to see a difficulty. "Bred
Gently to watch a mother left alone;
Bound by a dying father's wish, who feared
The world's accustomed harshness when he should be dead;
Such was my case from youth, Mynheer Kurler.
Last Winter she died also, and my days
Are passed in work, lest I should grieve for her,
And undo habits used to earn her praise.
My leisure I will gladly give to see
Your household and your daughter prosperous."
The sailor said his thanks, but turned away.
He could not brook that his humility,
So little wonted, and so tremulous,
Should first before a stranger make such great display.
"Come here to-morrow as the bells ring noon,
I sail at the full sea, my daughter then
I will make known to you. 'Twill be a boon
If after I have bid good-by, and when
Her eyeballs scorch with watching me depart,
You bring her home again. She lives with one
Old serving-woman, who has brought her up.
But that is no friend for so free a heart.
No head to match her questions. It is done.
And I must sail away to come and brim her cup.
My ship's the fastest that owns Amsterdam
As home, so not a letter can you send.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>