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wonted stir by night on the little sand-hills, so had he been afterwards equally surprised by the arrival of the two women. But there was no time for explanations—they had to act at once; Ulbert happened to be there, and he began without delay to carry out the message sent by his brother to assist in capturing the Frenchmen who had arrived so unexpectedly on the island.
The sailors had, however, first of all to provide themselves with arms from the ship, which lay at anchor half an hour away; this obliged Walmot to pass a long wearisome time of waiting. She longed to get back again and apprise Tyalka and Roelut of the approaching help. Uwen wanted to go with her; this she would not allow he must, like the rest of the islanders, keep altogether out of the affair. In breathless expectation they sat upon the bales of cotton goods. Far above them, unseen, shrieked incessantly thousands of sea-gulls, scared from their nests since the previous noon. Walmot chattered away with her usual cheerfulness. She felt persuaded that just as they were about to capture to-night the three Frenchmen on the island, so would the German nation soon rise up, under the lead of another Schill, and conquer, expel, and annihilate the whole of the French forces.
Uwen and Freda were for the most part silent; they scarcely interchanged a word. Only once the former observed: 'The first time we came here we little dreamt of passing a night like this. How different was the sunshine on that day! Do you remember it?' The girl only answered a half-audible 'Yes.' It was the briefest acknowledgment that she still rememberedhad, indeed, already been thinking of it. But the simple natural response sent a strange thrill through the hearer; he hung upon the brief sound, borne onwards by the wind, as though some other nameless note vibrated—a note not sensible to the bodily ear, but only to the spirit, in the land of dreams.
Again they sat in silence-Walmot in anxious excitement— until at last the sound of oars announced the return of the boat. Those whom they were expecting did not come themselves, but they sent a fresh lading, with the message that the armed seamen would make their way direct towards the seat of action. Upon this, Walmot could no longer control her impatience; she hurried towards her own boat. Freda went with her, and had raised her foot to step inside. Suddenly the mother stopped her, and said :
It is better, Datya, for you to stay here until the affair is ended. You may run into danger over there; here you are quite safe.'
Freda made a startled movement and answered hesitatingly : 'No; you must not go alone, mother. You cannot-the wind has changed; it is against you.'
But Walmot smiled.
'Who helped me before Datya was given to me? He has ever been my Friend since I was as old as Datya is now, and we know, and we understand one another. Or do you think I am now too old to manage by myself? I will show Datya this is not so, and I will not have her with me, but I will go all alone. I shall be back again by daylight.'
She spoke lightly, but she was evidently resolved that the girl should stay behind, where she was in safety. Freda was unable to bring forward any satisfactory reason for her reluctance to remain, as there was no actual danger. She stood silent and motionless, watching the boat until it was out of sight.
And so the laborious exercise of her muscular powers, which were by no means as yet diminished by age, brought Walmot back by herself to the island. It was, indeed, high time she arrived, for she had now to contend rather with the lack of water than with the violence of the waves. The tide was ebbing with great rapidity-there was only just time for her to gain the shore. As she landed, the wind bore to her ear four strokes of the church clock-it was very seldom heard from this distance-but Walmot scarcely noted the sound; her eyes, not her ears, were fully engrossed. Already at sea she had noticed an unusual stir on the island-a flickering of bright points in the direction of the village. They must be lanthorns, such as are used at night-time in case of shipwrecks, but this could not be the cause now. Evidently the village was not hushed in sleep, but awake and stirring. Walmot could only surmise that Roeluf and Tyalka, from some unknown reason, had found themselves obliged to get the islanders' help in the arrest of the Frenchmen. Perhaps the officer had tried to seize Teda by violence.
She sprang ashore and ran hastily past her own dwelling, where all lay lifeless, still, and dark. As she reached the neck of land she heard Roeluf's voice calling her anxiously by name; he was waiting here while Tyalka, on the other side of
the downs, was keeping watch towards the sea. A few words sufficed to inform Walmot of what they had seen and heard during her absence. The French had got scent of everything. They were aware of the approach of the seamen, and the officer had induced Pastor Remmert to make the fishermen obedient and serviceable to himself, so that, with their help, he might overpower the smugglers, and get possession of the English goods.
The listener stood a moment speechless and aghast; then she exclaimed:
'Who has done this?'
But without waiting for any answer, Walmot at once resolutely set forth.
'What are you going to do?' asked Roeluf.
'I am going over to help them.' He followed her; she turned round: 'No, Roeluf; you had better stay here.' But he answered, with quiet determination :
'Where tha be I mun be and 'ull.'
They looked about for Tyalka, and took him with them across the neck of land. Between the parsonage and the church a strange crowd was collected, that could be sufficiently distinguished by the light of the lanthorns. The villagers formed a half-circle, a little further back were the women and children; all the dwellers on the island were up and astir.
In front of the people whom he had called together stood Pastor Remmert; on one side, with his soldiers, was Egide de Walcourt. Just outside might be seen the face of Deena, peering about with stupid curiosity; she only wore a coat, hastily thrown over her night-dress as a protection from the cold, and had evidently just arisen from her bed; her hair hung dishevelled over her half-naked shoulders.
The pastor had been speaking at some length; he had given his hearers a sermon rather than a speech or warning about their worldly interests; his hand was stretched out with an admonitory gesture towards the church, while his eyes, gleaming with unearthly lustre, were raised towards heaven. He had evidently himself gone through a severe struggle, from which he had come forth victorious, and he was now inciting his people to a similar warfare against human weakness. His thoughts were no longer with the passing earthly call to the performance of his mission-he lived not for the things
around; his mind's eye was solely fixed on the salvation of the souls committed to his care, even as upon his own, both of which he felt to be at stake.
The fishermen heard him in silence. Their faces expressed, for the most part, hesitation and perplexity, yet it was easy to see that the words of the preacher had powerfully moved them and aroused their pious fears.
At length one man's tongue was unloosed: "'Ere coom Mither Utsee,' he said; and then a murmur arose. 'What do she saäy? What saäy ya?'
Walmot had been running faster and faster; she had to pause for breath ere she could utter a word. The sight of her brought an expression of gladness to the face of Pastor Remmert; it awoke in him a memory and a hope. God's Word enjoins the use of earthly wisdom in order to confirm the wavering, and the pastor said aloud:
'Thou comest, Walmot, as a messenger of the Most High, to persuade these men to submit to their rulers, as thou didst once before, when the law bade them adopt a new name.'
But a very different rejoinder flew from Walmot's lips. Not a response to his appeal; it was, on the contrary, a call to the village fishermen :
'What! are you Frisians? Are you Germans? What do you stand hesitating here for? Would you turn traitors to your countrymen and to your country? Would you aid its deadliest enemies to drag your own brothers before their bloody judgment-seat-men who are risking their lives to save their sick father from shame, from want, and from death? It was our wish to do without your aid, but necessity drives us. Lay hands, then, upon these Frenchmen, that we may have no informer in our midst. Their blood shall not be shed, we swear it, but they must be conveyed to England.'
These simply spoken words, poured forth from her innermost heart, fell on the taciturn fisher-folk like a sudden blast in the midst of a calm. They did not carry along with them the sluggish minds of these men, but evidently made them waver in the resolution that the pastor's address had evoked. One man said: 'They mun settle that wi' the Frenchers es they ken;' and many voices agreed: 'We'll hev nowt to do wi't.'
The officer, struck with astonishment, gazed hesitatingly around and drew near to question Teda, who was at no great distance from him.
At the same time Pastor Remmert strode up to Walmot and, in a warning voice quivering with bitter emotion, said:
'Woman, is this your love for your fellow-creatures, to entice them into evil ways and ruin their lives in this world and the next?'
But before he could continue, Roeluf stood straight before him and boldly answered:
'She hev niver done nowt but good to nubbody in 'er life, Pastor Remmert. She hev niver 'urt a sowl but 'ersen. She hev pulled beästs oot o' the mire, and maäde em men agen. If there wur moor on us loike 'er in the wurld, foäks 'ud need less o' Providence' 'elp. I saäy it, fur I knaw it. Ya ken pelt ya stoänes at them es ya pleäse, but jest 'old yer tongue aboot 'er.' At this moment Tyalka shouted from the downs: "'Ere they be. This waäy ma laäds!'
Voices answered from the direction of the sea; the French officer turned pale, for without the help of the fishermen he and his soldiers must yield to superior force. A last decisive stroke must be risked. Without a sign of intimidation, he resolutely ordered his soldiers to arrest the woman for inciting the fishermen to rebel. Instead of his own sword, which Uwen had broken, he wore that of one of his men; this he unsheathed, and shouted in a tone of command:
'Whoever hesitates to obey the Emperor at once and render help, shall forfeit hearth and home, liberty and life.'
A murmur ran through the hearers:
'The English mun keep awaäy-they mun let 'em be; if they ketch these men our 'eads mun paäy fur it.'
The soldiers had advanced towards Walmot, but Roeluf met
the first who tried to lay a hand upon her:
'What be ya a-dooin' on? Taäke yer 'ands off!'
He thrust the Frenchman back with all his might.
De Walcourt, with a curse, cried out :
'Down with the rebel that resists!'
Just behind the back of the first soldier gleamed the bayonet of his companion, and the next moment it was thrust to the haft in the breast of Roeluf.
The wounded man fell to the ground; his last words were: 'Walmot, I die fur thä. I do it gladsome.' Then he sank to
This had been a last attempt of the Walloon to extort obedience through fear; but the fixed, threatening faces of the