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The War with Turkey in 2 vols

Richard Harding Davis in Cuba

The Liverpool Rifles

Australians on the Western Front

Marshal Blucher

The Coldstream Guards during the Napoleonic Wars

The Gaspipe Officer

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Historical Adventures: 4

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Historical Adventures: 4
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Author(s): H. Rider Haggard
Date Published: 2009/12
Page Count: 372
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-999-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-000-6

The final volume in this classic Haggard Historical fiction collection

There are few who have heard of H. Rider Haggard's novels who do not know his principal character—Allan Quatermain—the archetypal white man in Africa. Here was a hero who would take on a Zulu Impi, a charging rhinoceros, a giant gorilla God, a lost tribe, slavers, a magical eternal queen, malign spirits and still come back for more—bringing a host of readers with him. In short, Haggard knew what it took to write a good adventure which is why some of his books have been among the most popular in modern times. Haggard was a prolific author: aside from the Quatermain stories, he produced a sequence of novels concerning the ancient world, four featuring his other great character, Ayesha—'She who must be obeyed’—and a collection of adventure novels taking Africa as their stage but without the presence of Quatermain. All are excellent. In Haggard’s lifetime his public eagerly awaited his next book, but today, while many are aware of his reputation, that knowledge often applies to but a small proportion of the reading enjoyment his books have to offer. Fortunately Leonaur now publish most of these works in matching sets at great value by combining two or more novels in each volume. Now Leonaur is pleased to offer Haggard's historical adventure series. Predictably Haggard's inventive pen was able to create several more lead characters of the stamp of Quatermain and they populate many of the ages of history with gripping adventures set against momentous events in many lands.
The final volume of this four volume Leonaur collection contains a single substantial novel, Lysbeth: A Tale of the Dutch. It is the time of 'The Eight Years War,' a religious conflict raging in the Low Countries as Spain sought to dominate the region with influence and religion. Set principally between the years 1571-74 this colourful tale embraces the sieges of Haarlem and Leyden. This is a gripping story of a young Dutch heroine and her cousin in a time of war, rebellion, pestilence and the shadow of the scaffold in the time of the Emperor Charles V.

When Adrian left the factory he ran on to the house in the Bree Straat. <br>
“Oh! what has happened?” said his mother as he burst into the room where she and Elsa were at work.<br>
“They are coming for him,” he gasped. “The soldiers from the Gevangenhuis. Where is he? Let him escape quickly—my stepfather.”<br>
Lysbeth staggered and fell back into her chair.<br>
“How do you know?” she asked.<br>
At the question Adrian’s head swam and his heart stood still. Yet his lips found a lie.<br>
“I overheard it,” he said; “the soldiers are attacking Foy and Martin in the factory, and I heard them say that they were coming here for him.”<br>
Elsa moaned aloud, then she turned on him like a tiger, asking:<br>
“If so, why did you not stay to help them?”<br>
“Because,” he answered with a touch of his old pomposity, “my first duty was towards my mother and you.”<br>
“He is out of the house,” broke in Lysbeth in a low voice that was dreadful to hear. “He is out of the house, I know not where. Go, son, and search for him. Swift! Be swift!”<br>
So Adrian went forth, not sorry to escape the presence of these tormented women. Here and there he wandered to one haunt of Dirk’s after another, but without success, till at length a noise of tumult drew him, and he ran towards the sound. Presently he was round the corner, and this was what he saw.<br>
Advancing down the wide street leading to the Gevangenhuis came a body of Spanish soldiers, and in the centre of them were two figures whom it was easy for Adrian to recognise—Red Martin and his brother Foy. Martin, although his bull-hide jerkin was cut and slashed and his helmet had gone, seemed to be little hurt, for he was still upright and proud, walking along with his arms lashed behind him, while a Spanish officer held the point of a sword, his own sword Silence, near his throat ready to drive it home should he attempt to escape. With Foy the case was different. At first Adrian thought that he was dead, for they were carrying him upon a ladder. Blood fell from his head and legs, while his doublet seemed literally to be rent to pieces with sword-cuts and dagger-thrusts; and in truth had it not been for the shirt of mail which he wore beneath, he must have been slain several times over. But Foy was not dead, for as Adrian watched he saw his head turn upon the ladder and his hand rise up and fall again.<br>
But this was not all, for behind appeared a cart drawn by a grey horse, and in it were the bodies of Spanish soldiers—how many Adrian could not tell, but there they lay with their harness still on them. After these again, in a long and melancholy procession, marched other Spanish soldiers, some of them sorely wounded, and, like Foy, carried upon doors or ladders, and others limping forward with the help of their comrades. No wonder that Martin walked proudly to his doom, since behind him came the rich harvest of the sword Silence. Also, there were other signs to see and hear, since about the cavalcade surged and roared a great mob of the citizens of Leyden.<br>
“Bravo, Martin! Well fought, Foy van Goorl!” they shouted, “We are proud of you! We are proud of you!” Then from the back of the crowd someone cried, “Rescue them!” “Kill the Inquisition dogs!” “Tear the Spaniards to pieces!”<br>
A stone flew through the air, then another and another, but at a word of command the soldiers faced about and the mob drew back, for they had no leader. So it went on till they were within a hundred yards of the Gevangenhuis.<br>
“Don’t let them be murdered,” cried the voice. “A rescue! a rescue!” and with a roar the crowd fell upon the soldiers. It was too late, for the Spaniards, trained to arms, closed up and fought their way through, taking their prisoners with them. But they cost them dear, for the wounded men, and those who supported them, were cut off. They were cut off, they were struck down. In a minute they were dead, every one of them, and although they still held its fortresses and walls, from that hour the Spaniards lost their grip of Leyden, nor did they ever win it back again. From that hour to this Leyden has been free. Such were the first fruits of the fight of Foy and Martin against fearful odds.<br>
The great doors of oak and iron of the Gevangenhuis clashed to behind the prisoners, the locks were shot, and the bars fell home, while outside raved the furious crowd.<br>
The place was not large nor very strong, merely a drawbridge across the narrow arm of a moat, a gateway with a walled courtyard beyond, and over it a three-storied house built in the common Dutch fashion, but with straight barrel windows. To the right, under the shadow of the archway, which, space being limited, was used as an armoury, and hung with weapons, lay the court-room where prisoners were tried, and to the left a vaulted place with no window, not unlike a large cellar in appearance. This was the torture-chamber. Beyond was the courtyard, and at the back of it rose the prison. In this yard were waiting the new governor of the jail, Ramiro, and with him a little red-faced, pig-eyed man dressed in a rusty doublet. He was the Inquisitor of the district, especially empowered as delegate of the Blood Council and under various edicts and laws to try and to butcher heretics.<br>
The officer in command of the troops advanced to make his report.<br>
“What is all that noise?” asked the Inquisitor in a frightened, squeaky voice. “Is this city also in rebellion?”<br>
“And where are the rest of you?” said Ramiro, scanning the thin files.<br>
“Sir,” answered the officer saluting, “the rest of us are dead. Some were killed by this red rogue and his companion, and the mob have the others.”<br>
Then Ramiro began to curse and to swear, as well he might, for he knew that when this story reached headquarters, his credit with Alva and the Blood Council would be gone.<br>
“Coward!” he yelled, shaking his fist in the face of the officer. “Coward to lose a score or more of men in taking a brace of heretics.”<br>
“Don’t blame me, sir,” answered the man sullenly, for the word stirred his bile, “blame the mob and this red devil’s steel, which went through us as though we were wet clay,” and he handed him the sword Silence.<br>
“It fits the man,” muttered Montalvo, “for few else could wield such a blade. Go hang it in the doorway, it may be wanted in evidence,” but to himself he thought, “Bad luck again, the luck that follows me whenever I pit myself against Lysbeth van Hout.” Then he gave an order, and the two prisoners were taken away up some narrow stairs.<br>
At the top of the first flight was a solid door through which they passed, to find themselves in a large and darksome place. Down the centre of this place ran a passage. On either side of the passage, dimly lighted by high iron-barred windows, were cages built of massive oaken bars, and measuring each of them eight or ten feet square, very dens such as might have served for wild beasts, but filled with human beings charged with offences against the doctrines of the Church. Those who chance to have seen the prison of the Inquisition at The Hague as it still stands to-day, will know what they were like.<br>
Into one of these dreadful holes they were thrust, Foy, wounded as he was, being thrown roughly upon a heap of dirty straw in the corner. Then, having bolted and locked the door of their den, the soldiers left them.