"Yes," resumed her husband, "and I can see his face this minute--so white and wild-looking. 'Take me down this river a way,' says he. I was working then, you'll remember, far down on the line, across from Amsterdam. I told him I was no boatman. 'It's an affair of life and death,' says he. 'Take me on a few miles. Yonder skiff is not locked, but it may be a poor man's boat and I'd be loath to rob him!' (The words might differ some, vrouw, for it's all like a dream.) Well, I took him down--it might be six or eight miles--and then he said he could run the rest of the way on shore. I was in haste to get the boat back. Before he jumped out, he says, sobbing-like, 'I can trust you. I've done a thing--God knows I never intended it--but the man is dead. I must fly from Holland."
"What was it? Did he say, Raff? Had he been shooting at a comrade, as they do down at the University at Gottingen?"
"I can't recall that. Mayhap he told me, but it's all like a dream. I said it wasn't for me, a good Hollander, to cheat the laws of my country by helping him off that way, but he kept saying, 'God knows I am innocent!' And he looked at me in the starlight as fair, now, and clear-eyed as our little Hans might--and I just pulled away faster."
"It must have been Jan Kamphuisen's boat," remarked Dame Brinker dryly. "None other would have left his oars out that careless."
"Aye, it was Jan's boat, sure enough. The man will be coming in to see me Sunday, likely, if he's heard, and young Hoogsvliet too. Where was I?"
"Where were you? Why, not very far, forsooth--the lad hadn't yet given ye the watch--alack, I misgive whether he came by it honestly!"
"Why, vrouw," exclaimed Raff Brinker in an injured tone. "He was dressed soft and fine as the prince himself. The watch was his own, clear enough."
"How came he to give it up?" asked the dame, looking uneasily at the fire, for it needed another block of peat.