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The Lion of Flanders. Vol. II. Hendrik Conscience. Fate. Louis Couperus

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The Lion of Flanders. Vol. II Fate

Conscience, Hendrik, 1812-1883

Schade van Westrum, Adriaan, 1865

Couperus, Louis, 1863-1923

The Foreign Classical Romances

Complete in Twenty Crown Octavo Volumes

WITH INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS BY

HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE, L.H.D., LL.D,

Co-Editor N. Y. Outlook.

Author of "Norse Stories," "Essays on Books and Culture," etc.

PROF. MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN, A.M., LL.D.

Catholic University of America. Author of "Studies in Literature," "Modern Novelists," etc.

PROF. LEO WIENER

Harvard University. Translator of Tolstoy's Complete Works. Author of "Anthology of Russian Literature," etc.

BARON GUSTAVO TOSTI Doctor of Laws, Naples University. Royal Consul of Italy at Boston.

WOLF VON SCHIERBRAND

Former Berlin Correspondent N. Y. Evening Post. Author of "Germany," etc.

A. SCHADE VAN WESTRUM Licentiate Amsterdam University. Literary Editor N. Y. Mail and Express.

General Editor: LIONEL STRACHEY

Compiler of "Little Masterpieces of Fiction." Translator of Stories by Balzac, Sudermann, Serao, etc.

FRONTISPIECES AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

THE BEACH AT SCHEVENINGEN

THE LION OF FLANDERS. VOLUME II

COUPERUS. FATE

TRANSLATED FROM THE DUTCH

A FRONTISPIECE AND A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

P. F. COLLIER & SON

NEW YORK

THE LION OF FLANDERS. Vol. II

BOOK THIRD

CHAPTER I

Two years had gone by since the foreigner had set foot in Flanders, and cried: "Bow your heads, ye Flemings! ye sons of the north, yield to the children of the south, or die!" Little thought they that there had been born in Bruges a man endowed with large sagacity, and inspired with heroic courage; a man who shone forth as a bright light among his contemporaries; and to whom, as to His servant Moses, God had said: "Go, and deliver thy brethren, the children of Israel, from the thraldom of Pharaoh."

When the desolating bands of the French first trod the soil of his fatherland, and darkened the horizon with the dust of their march, a secret voice spoke in Deconinck's soul, and said:

"Take heed, these are in quest of slaves!"

At its sound, the noble citizen quivered with anguish and wrath:

"Slaves! we slaves!" groaned he; "forbid it, oh Lord our God I The blood of our free-born fathers hath flowed in defense of Thine altars; they have died on the sands of Arabia with Thy holy name on their lips. Oh, suffer not their sons to bear the debasing fetters of the alien; suffer not the temple which they have raised unto Thee to have bondsmen for worshipers!"

Deconinck had breathed this prayer from his deepest soul, and all his heart lay open to his Creator. He found therein all the noble courage and energy wherewith He had endowed the Fleming; and He sent down an answering ray of trust and hope. Instantly filled with a secret strength, Deconinck felt as though all his capacities of thought and action were doubled in energy; and, impelled by a true inspiration, he cried:

*'Yea, Lord, I have felt Thy strong and Thy strengthening hand; yes, I shall ward off this degradation from my fatherland; the graves of Thy servants, my fathers, shall never be trodden down by the foot of the alien. Blessed art Thou, oh my God, who hast called me to this!"

From that moment one only feeling, one only deep yearning lived in Deconinck's heart; his every thought, his every faculty, all were consecrated to the great word—my fatherland! Business, family, repose, all were banished from his ample heart, which held but one, one only affection —his love for the native soil of the Lion. And what man more truly noble than this Fleming, who a hundred times risked life and liberty itself for the freedom of Flanders? what man was ever endowed with more ample sagacity? Alone and unaided, in spite of recreants and Lilyards, who would have sold their country's freedom, he it was who baffled the efforts of the King of France —he alone it was .who preserved for his brethren a lion's heart even under the chains of slavery, and thus gradually achieved their deliverance.

The French knew this well—well they knew him who at every moment shattered the wheels of their triumphal chariot. Gladly would they have rid themselves of this troublesome guardian of his country's weal; but with the cunning he combined perfectly the prudence of the serpent. He had raised up for himself a secure rampart and defense in the love of his brethren; and the stranger well knew that a dire and bloody revenge would follow any attempt upon him. During the time that the French ruled all Flanders with the rod of tyranny, Deconinck lived in entire freedom among his townsmen; and he was indeed the master of his rulers, for they feared him much more than he feared them.

And now seven thousand Frenchmen had on one day atoned with their lives for the oppressions of two long years; not a single foreigner breathed within Bruges, the victorious and free; the city echoed the joyous lays wherewith wandering minstrels celebrated this deliverance, and from the watch-tower the white flag displayed the Blue Lion an its waving folds. This ensign, which had once waved from the battlements of Jerusalem, and commemorated so many proud achievements, filled the hearts of the citizens with lofty courage. On that day it seemed impossible that Flanders should again sigh in the chains of captivity; for on that day the people remembered the blood their fathers had shed in behalf of liberty. Tears rolled down their cheeks—those tears which relieve the heart when it is overful, when it throbs with too strong and sublime an emotion.