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"" As the wretch passed by Jacqueline's station, he moved the tapestry with his shoulder, which shook, while he laughed at his own impiety. She shrunk back as though the very canvass had been a conductor of contamination, and looking towards the dimly-lighted altar, she saw Chevalier standing still before it. A new notion immediately Aashed across her. She threw off her cloak where she stood, and gliding back, she soon gained the rear of the altar. Convinced that religious feeling worked deep in such a mind as Chevalier's, and knowing that one mysterious sentence had more power on such a mind than volumes of evidence, she resolved in the impulse of the moment to address some warning to him, to which the state of his feelings, and the scene around him might give a solemnity she could not hope to belong to her. But her own frame of mind at that instant was as near to inspiration as mortal feeling may be ; and there are few men even in a less superstitious age who might not have been profoundly struck by what followed. Raising her arm, with no premeditated movement, but thus giving to her figure an air such as we attribute to supernatural visitants, her night robes of pure white hanging in loose drapery, and her features concealed by the altar's shade, Jacqueline glided out, and exclaimed, in a voice that trembled as though it came from the recess of the sacred tabernacle,
"" It is written- Thou shalt do no murder!! "
• Terrified, as well at the sound of her own voice in such a situation, as by the almost phrenzied start of the young man, and his instant falling on his face on the altar-steps, as though her words had violated the divine precepts they uttered, Jacqueline felt for a moment as if suspended between life and death. But the youth as quickly raised himself on his knees, and with uplifted hands burst into an exclamation of prayer. Seeing this, she instantly disappeared behind the canvass, regained her former position near the door, gathered up her cloak and wrapped it round her; and then hearing the stealthy foot of Giles Postel returning up the stairs, she hurried into the corridor, resolved to put her first design into immediate execution. Jacqueline had no personal fears in confronting this man; yet she shuddered as she saw his figure ascending the stairs in the rays of a lamp that burned all night in the corridor. She stood on the upper step; and as he placed his foot on it he threw up his eyes and recognised her. He started back, and gazed at her without uttering a word.'-Jacqueline of Holland, vol. i, pp. 290—296.
The issue of this scene would lead us beyond our limits. Giles Postel turns the tables upon Jacqueline, who is compelled to secure her own safety from the villain, by pledging herself to secresy. He was himself, however, slain, in attempting the life of Philip: Chevalier's efforts were equally abortive. We have already alluded to the catastrophe with which the tale concludes. It is related by Mr. Grattan in his best style, and in some degree compensates for much of the heavy and unreadable matter with which the second and third volumes abound. We must suppose Philip on his march for Dordrecht, with the flower of his conquering army, with Jacqueline and her devoted champion and lover, Vrank Van Borselen, by his side, whom he had already devoted to imprisonment for life; that when the convoy, swelled with every circumstance of pomp
and "pageantry, had reached within a few leagues of Dordrecht, their march began to be much impeded by a tremendous storm, that lifted the sea, in an almost overwhelming tide, against the dykes which had long withstood its fury, and that by the contrivance of a dyke-digger, friendly to the cause of Jacqueline, preparations had already been made for the scene which now ensues.
Philip, impatient at the obstacles which crowded the road and stopped the march, had pushed on to the front to set an example of perseverance, and disembarrass himself from the throng among whom he was crushed and hustled. The prisoners kept close to him by his invitation. Jacqueline and Van Borselen were side by side behind the duke.
Van Diepenholt and Ludwick came next, and some stragglers of the advanced guard followed without any order of precedence. Above an hour was thus consumed, and not a league yet traversed, when they arrived at a pass, formed by some wooded sand-banks on the one side, and on the other by a tolerably high dyke, or mound of earth, over which the spray of the waves dashed into the road, while its loosened and broken construction was visibly ken, and threatened with utter overthrow by each successive seastroke which lashed it outside.
Standing close at the base of the mound, at times shrouded by the spray, and even during the respites from its attacks dripping from head to feet, were four men, between the ages of twenty and thirty, each armed with the peculiar spade or shovel, used for dyke-digging labour, and all in a costume totally different from that of the inhabitants of the district where they were now found. Vrank Van Borselen knew the men well; and an innate conviction, founded on this knowledge, told him they were there to do him service. He was satisfied they had not for nothing found their way from Eversdyke, where he had certain intelligence they had been four days previously; and the place of this unexpected meeting, the air of resolution which frowned in the four faces, and, more than all, the non-appearance of him, who, something irresistibly whispered Vrank, was yet not far off, convinced him that some deep-laid scheme, some desperate effort for his rescue, was now on the point of execution.
With this conviction he turned to Jacqueline, who had all along contrived to keep her beautiful and spirited palfry close by the side of his, and he said to her, his face glowing the while with courageous hope,
""My own beloved one, my matchless Jacqueline, all is well; there is freedom and safety at hand."
*** Count Ostervent, what mean those words ?” asked Philip, sternly, and suddenly wheeling round his horse, as though the impulse which prompted his question was not altogether unaided by a disinclination to press too much forward into the strange company so close before him.
"“ Their meaning, Duke, must be found in their fulfilment- Heaven works for the innocent-our deliverance is at hand!” answered Van Borselen, closely pressing Jacqueline's waist within his arm.
«“Who are yonder men ? free Frisons, methinks?” said Philip, still urging his horse, as if to pass back to the straggling soldiers of the advanced guard.
• “The sons of Oost, the dyke-digger," replied Vrank, still in a respectful tone, but without making way for the retreating duke.
““And where is their fierce father?" said Philip, looking round with an anxious stare.
““ Here he is, Philip !" cried Oost, in his loudest and harshest key, and. in the low German jargon, the only language he spoke, (though he had.. picked up a smattering of others,) springing at the same time from the shrubs which skirted the wood and came close to the road.
" " Ah! treason ! treachery !" exclaimed Philip, at the apparition of this horrible figure ; and with these words he dashed forward endeavouring. to burst through the impediments to his flight. But wbile Oost seized his bridle with a powerful grasp, and held his horse fast with as much ease as a common man might master the struggles of a child, Van Monfoort and Van Diepenholt, promptly seeing the state of things, closed upon the unhappy duke, who ihus saw himself completely caught in his own net, and threatened with destruction by the instruments he had wrought with, as if for his own ruin.
• What followed was acted with more rapidity than may be traced by pen, told by tongue, or imagined by thought. Sculpture and painting can alone embody the vivid variety of such events, and show forth at once a group of incidents and passions, forming a living combination of all that may interest or agitate the mind.
Away, away! There, there ! the wide world is now your own," hallowed Oost, in the peculiar idiom of Friesland, which Van Borselen alone understood, and stretching forth one muscular arm towards the sea.
"“ Away, Jacqueline, away, my beloved !” echoed Vrank, heading his horse in the direction pointed out by Oost's rapid gesture. She needed no more than his example or his command to rush with him into the open arms of death ; and little less seemed their joint movement now, to the astonished eyes of Philip, Ludwick, and Rudolph, as they breasted the sloping dyke, and appeared to court the watery grave beyond.
Now, now, my sons !” cried Oost to the four men and simultaneously with his signal they struck their weapons deep into the already loosened summit of the dyke, and with every stroke a gash was made, through which the water hissed and oozed in frightful rapidity.
«« Well done, bold dyke-diggers !” said he again, and at each renewed stroke which let in destruction upon both him and them, he cried-but never loosening hold of Philip and his horse's rein-“Well done, Tabbo ! Bravely struck, Ubbo! Ha, ha, for Igo of the strong arm! Good, good, young Gosso, my last-born boy! Free Frisons all, for life and death!"
. Philip struggled for escape as if in the last agony, and his frightened followers all fell back in total derout, not one coming to his aid, Van Borselen and Jacqueline had gained the top of the mound which crumbled under their horses' hoofs, and they were a moment visible, struggling to urge the animals down the opposite side; but every effort was repelled by the fierce storm-gusts which continually forced them back, and threatened to blow them prostrate on the road. The waves now rushed freely in, and the fierce workinen, self-sacrificed, and in their dreadful task, were middeep in the water, mud, and sand, which poured down the dyke.
Van Monfoort seeing Jacqueline's perilous situation, thought only of her, but had neither means of succour nor a notion how to aid her. Van Diepenholt, with a clearer head, and a mind less absorbed by others' danger, resolved on an effort to escape from his own. He felt that Van Bor
selen must have had Oost's authority for the seeming madness of his course. He therefore pressed forward for the place where he and Jacqueline still struggled - Van Monfoort followed instinctively—they forced their horses to scramble up the mound—and just as they reached the top, Van Borselen and Jacqueline having a moment before disappeared beyond, the whole mass came down, swept inwards by the booming sea, which rushed after in one wide, earth-swallowing deluge.
• Billow after billow poured surging on, chasing each other with loud roar, like barbarian hordes shouting over the conquest of some fair and fertile land. In less time than fancy can suppose possible for such destruction, a whole district was overflowed. No hill existed to oppose, no rock to mark the depth or measure the speed of the inundation, but the thirsty soil drank the waves, till, replete and saturated, it Aung them up again, thickened, discoloured and loathsome. Men and cattle were drowned; houses dashed down ; trees up torn, their roots wrenched from their grasp in the deep soil; and huge masses of earth scooped out by the sharp waves, and whirled up to the surface of the seething flood. The horrible rapidity of such a catastrophe in such a country left no time for flight, no place for refuge. Fate struck quick and strong. Within an hour an extent of many square miles was under water, seventy-two villages were submerged, and full one hundred thousand human beings had perished. A new sea was formed, a whole district blotted from the world's face, and many a voyager now steers his course through the broad waves of the Bisbosh, without even knowing that he sails over a space once fertile and flourishing, a second Atlantis, or casting a glance into the waves, or a thought into time, for the monuments covered by the one, or the thousand associations of history and romance deep buried in the other.
• In the very earliest burst of the deluge through the torn-down dyke, Oost and his four sons were suffocated by the mingled ruins. Self-immolated in the cause which he had vowed his existence, and swore to sacrifice his life, the noble savage and his congenial children quitted the world without a pang, save those of the physical agony, which they despised. Deep in the plot which was to have burst out so soon, and in which he embarked with his usual ferocious fidelity, Oost heard soon, like Vrouwe Bona and the rest of the confederates, of Van Borselen's detention in Russelmonde. To rescue the Lord of Eversdyke, or perish in the attempt, was his firm resolve. His sons had no thought beyond his will. Patriarchal and feudal authority were combined in the person
Frison father; and to bid his children follow his footsteps and to share his fate, was to have it done. Oost's quickness and sagacity were not surpassed by any wood-rousing Indian, who traverses whole wastes of forest to relieve a friend or kill a foe. He scarcely entered on the confines of Holland, when he learned of Philip's triumphal march towards Dordrecht; and he was not long in fixing on the place in which, with the assistance of his sons, he saw a fair chance of effecting the rescue of Vrank and Jacqueline, and the destruction of Philip, and such of his host for whose safety Hearen might not interpose a miracle; but neither calculating nor caring for the immensity of ruin which followed. Such was not interposed. Of all the brilliant train that followed their sovereign's steps on that wild march, not one was left to tell the tale.
+ But Philip's good fortune saved him from the general fate, and pro
cured him a protector in one whom he expected to find a relentless witness of his destruction.
• The unerring sagacity of Oost had made him remark and single out a sand-formed elevation, the only one near the head of that arm of sea, which was dammed out by the dyke he subsequently destroyed. It lay a few score yards northwards of the mound, and was sufficiently large and firm to act as a break-water for its preservation, turning off the surge furiously to windward, and forming a shallow and comparatively smooth channel between it and the shore.
• It needs not to be told that it was to this haven of safety that poor Oost pointed, in that last exertion of devoted service that shewed Vrank the way to freedom. And there did he and Jacqueline safely stand, just joined in time by Van Monfoort and Van Diepenholt; and all looked awestruck back on the sublime desolation from which they had miraculously escaped.
• As they gazed and marked the billows, frightfully populous with hideous forms of death, one living being caught their eye, clinging with convulsive grasp to the branch of an old oak, the only tree that had withstood the shock, and even that was bent and bowed down to the water and every instant threatening to sink, like its fellows of the forest. In the drenched and agonized man, who thus grappled with fate and buffeted the waves that washed over and threatened to choak him, the group of Providence's chosen ones recognized the person of the magnificent Duke of Burgundy.
Vrank Van Borselen knew no impulse then but generous humanity. Wrongs passed or intended were expunged from his memory, while the long account of princely kindnesses and late honours received from Philip rose swelling in his mind, more buoyant and more palpable from the warm gushing pity which now seemed to overflow his breast. " What !” cried he, as if a moment's internal struggle had held him back, “shall I be out. done by those half-civilized men, who have lost themselves to save such a one as I am! Shall I let the pride of chivalry and Europe's master-piece perish like a drowned dog!”
He waited no answer to these questions even from himself, to whom they were put; but driving his horse headlong into the flood, and holding him well up, he was quickly borne close to the spot on the watery waste where Philip clung, almost senseless from exhaustation and fright. Vrank staid his own course by seizing another branch, and shouted to Philip to loose his hold, and drop behind him on the horse's croup. A wild stare was Philip's only notice of the summons. The flood was rushing on, and had just swept round the animal into a less favourable direction, when the duke recovering a full sense of the only chance for escape, sprang actively away, gained the safe seat, and grasped Vrank's waist with one hand, still holding in the other a portion of the branch which had so long kept him up, with that tenacious clutch of giant-nerved despair. The eddying currant favoured Vrank's return. He urged on his horse by hand and heel, The animal's instinct forced it to utmost exertion. Philip was not idle in efforts to increase the speed with which it swam--and a few minutes brought it and its double cargo of mortality to the safety-mound.
• There Jacqueline sat on her trembling palfry, benumbed with wet and cold, pale, shivering, and awe-stricken-yet offering up warm thanksgiving for the safety of the hero to whom her heart and soul were pledged.