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The Ferryman of Brill and other stories   By: (1814-1880)

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The Ferryman of Brill, and other stories, by William H G Kingston.

Chapters 1 to 4 constitute "The Ferryman of Brill", while the other seven chapters are short stories on their own. All these stories had previously appeared in early volumes of "The Quiver". They were collected and published by Cassell's, who were not Kingston's usual publishers, and the book came out in the year of Kingston's death.

THE FERRYMAN OF BRILL, AND OTHER STORIES, BY WILLIAM H G KINGSTON.

CHAPTER ONE.

THE PROTESTANT LOVERS A RIVAL DIEDRICH FINDS HIS FOOTSTEPS DOGGED FINDS A FRIEND IN THE FERRYMAN THREATENED WITH THE INQUISITION FLIES TO SEA.

Not far from the broad and slow flowing river Meuse stands the town of Brill. Flanders, in which it is found, formed at the period to which we refer a province of the dominions belonging to Philip of Spain. It was ruled with no very paternal hand by the Duke of Alva, who resided chiefly at Brussels. He had been employed for several years in burning, hanging, drowning, and cutting off the heads of his loving subjects, and torturing them in a variety of ways, in order to make them dutiful children of the Church of Rome, and of his master, Philip. Not with great success, for they still hated, with an unalterable deadly hatred, both one and the other. Brill at that time was not a populous city, nor did it possess much commercial importance; but it was well walled and fortified, however, and had a most commodious port. The inhabitants were peaceable, well disposed people, who thought as much of themselves as the citizens of other cities of similar importance are apt to do. Among them was a young merchant Diedrich Meghem. He had made several voyages of adventure, and was well accustomed to a seafaring life. Now prosperous, and hoping to become wealthy, he was about to settle down as a steady citizen on shore, with the expectation of some day, perhaps, becoming burgomaster of his native city. Diedrich, as young men are apt to do, looked about for a wife to share his good fortune, and had fixed his affections on Gretchen Hopper, a fair and very lovely girl, the daughter of a flourishing merchant. Hopper was supposed to be the possessor of considerable wealth a dangerous distinction in those days. Duke Alva heard of the merchant Hopper's reputed wealth, and had made a note to take an early opportunity of relieving him of a portion if not the whole of it. Hopper was known to hold the reformed principles, and though he was careful not to intrude his opinions in public, the duke's advisers suggested that there would be no difficulty in bringing up an accusation of heresy against him. Diedrich was an ardent Protestant. His eye had long been fixed on William of Orange as the person best able to lift his country out of the present depressed condition in which she groaned.

Gretchen was a quiet, gentle girl, and she also held to the opinions of her father and her lover, in spite of her gentleness, with a determination in no way inferior to theirs. Gretchen soon found out that the honest, generous hearted Diedrich loved her, and not long after this discovery she acknowledged to him that he possessed her entire heart. She had, however, other admirers, from whom she might have chosen a husband of a nobler family and of greater wealth than Diedrich. Among other pretenders to her hand was Caspar Gaill, a Fleming of good family, who, however, held to the Romish faith and supported the government of Alva. The merchant Hopper had a great regard for Diedrich, and was well pleased to find that he wished to become his daughter's husband. He at once accepted him as a son in law, and gave the young couple his blessing.

"The times are not propitious for marriage, however," he observed. "Matters may mend; they can scarcely grow worse. Gretchen is young, and can wait a little... Continue reading book >>




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