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The Lily of Leyden

Language - English
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Description: - The warm sun of a bright spring day, in the year of grace 1574, shone down on the beautiful city of Leyden, on its spacious squares and streets and its elegant mansions, its imposing churches, and on the smooth canals which meandered among them, fed by the waters of the sluggish Rhine. The busy citizens were engaged in their various occupations, active and industrious as ever; barges and boats lay at the quays loading or unloading, some having come from Rotterdam, Delft, Amsterdam, and other places on the Zuyder Zee, with which her watery roads gave her easy communication. The streets were thronged with citizens of all ranks, some in gay, most in sombre attire, moving hurriedly along, bent rather on business than on pleasure, while scattered here and there were a few soldiersÑfreebooters as they were called, though steady and reliableÑand men of the Burgher Guard, forming part of the garrison of the town. Conspicuous among them might have been seen their dignified and brave burgomaster, Adrian Van der Werf, as he walked with stately pace, his daughter Jaqueline, appropriately called the Lily of Leyden, leaning on his arm. She was fair and graceful as the flower from which she derived her name, her features chiselled in the most delicate mould, her countenance intelligent and animated, though at present graver than usual. After leaving their house in the Broedestrat, the principal street of Leyden, they proceeded towards an elevation in the centre of the city, on the summit of which rose the ancient tower of Hengist, generally so called from the belief that the Anglo-Saxon conquerors of Britain crossed over from Holland. Mynheer Van der Werf and Jaqueline reaching the foot of the mound, slowly ascended by a flight of winding steps, till they gained the battlements on the top of the ancient tower, the highest spot for many miles around. Here they stood for some minutes gazing over the level country, of which they commanded a perfect panoramic view. Below them lay the city, surrounded by a moat of considerable width and stout walls, which had already been proved capable of resisting the attack of foes eager to gain an entrance. Here and there bridges led over the moat, protected by forts of no mean strength. In all directions were silvery threads glittering in the sun, marking the course of the canals which led to Haarlem and Amsterdam on the north, and Delft, Rotterdam, Gouda, and many other towns on the banks of the Yessel and the Meuse on the south, while occasionally wide shining expanses showed the existence of meers or lakes of more or less extent, while westward the blue ocean could be seen, and to the south-west Gravenhague, or The Hague, as the place is more generally called. On every side were smiling villages, blooming gardens, corn-fields, and orchards, betokening the industry and consequent prosperity of the inhabitants. The city at this time bore but few traces of the protracted siege it had endured for a whole year, and which had been raised only three months before, when the Spanish force under Valdez, a lieutenant of the ferocious Alva, had been summoned to the frontier, in consequence of the rumoured approach of a patriot army under Prince Louis of Nassau.
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