"No," said Lambert, "I can answer for him. It was too late to go in. I say, boys, it is really wonderful how much Ben knows. Why, he has told me a volume of Dutch history already. I'll wager he has the siege of Leyden at his tongue's end."
"His tongue must burn, then," interposed Ludwig, "for if Bilderdyk's account is true, it was a pretty hot affair."
Ben was looking at them with an inquiring smile.
"We are speaking of the siege of Leyden," explained Lambert.
"Oh, yes," said Ben, eagerly, "I had forgotten all about it. This was the very place. Let's give old Van der Werf three cheers. Hur--"
Van Mounen uttered a hasty "Hush!" and explained that, patriotic as the Dutch were, the police would soon have something to say if a party of boys cheered in the street at midday.
"What? Not cheer Van der Werf?" cried Ben, indignantly. "One of the greatest chaps in history? Only think! Didn't he hold out against those murderous Spaniards for months and months? There was the town, surrounded on all sides by the enemy; great black forts sending fire and death into the very heart of the city--but no surrender! Every man a hero--women and children, too, brave and fierce as lions, provisions giving out, the very grass from between the paving stones gone--till people were glad to eat horses and cats and dogs and rats. Then came the plague--hundreds dying in the streets--but no surrender! Then when they could bear no more, when the people, brave as they were, crowded about Van der Werf in the public square begging him to give up, what did the noble old burgomaster say? 'I have sworn to defend this city, and with God's help, I MEAN TO DO IT! If my body can satisfy your hunger, take it, and divide it among you, but expect no surrender so long as I am alive.' Hurrah! hur--"
Ben was getting uproarious; Lambert playfully clapped his hand over his friend's mouth. The result was one of those quick India-rubber scuffles fearful to behold but delightful to human nature in its polliwog state.