On the afternoon of the sixteenth of May, Burgomaster Van der Werff’s wife was examining chests and boxes. Her husband was at the town-hall, but had told her that towards evening, the Prince’s commissioner, Herr Dietrich Van Bronkhorst, the two Seigneurs von Nordwyk, the city clerk Van Hout, and several other heads of municipal affairs and friends of freedom would meet at his house for a confidential consultation. Maria had the charge of providing the gentlemen with a nice collation, wine, and many similar cares. This invitation had a very cheering influence on the young wife. It pleased her to be able to play the hostess, according to the meaning of the word in her parents’ house. How long she had been debarred from hearing any grave, earnest conversation. True, there had been no lack of visitors: the friends and relatives of her husband’s family, who called upon her and talked with Barbara, often begged her to come to their houses; among them were many who showed themselves kindly disposed and could not help respecting her worth, but not one to whom she was attracted by any warm affection. Maria, whose life was certainly not crowded with amusements, dreaded their coming, and when they did call, endured their presence as an unavoidable evil.