Stories from Martyrs' Mirror | 1. Arrested


1. Arrested

"I still don't hear anything suspicious," the officer reported when he crept back from the house. "Are you quite sure the Anabaptists are meeting inside?"

"You said much the same the first time you listened at the door," snapped the Dean of Ronse. He was a large man with a goatee and a double chin, with an expensive gold chain around his neck. "What do you think an Anabaptist is supposed to sound like?"

"I... I really don't know, my lord," stuttered the officer. "I expected evil scheming and rebellion, and these people sounded quite ordinary, even happy."

The Dean of Ronse rolled his eyes and sighed. "Let me go instead."

By the authority of the King of Spain, the Dean of Ronse, whose real name was Peter Tittlemans, was Flanders' most active opponent of the Anabaptists: Dozens of the brothers had already been executed because of him, and they called him the Inquisitor. As he bent down in front of the house to plan his strategy, he listened again and seemed pleased.

"Someone is preaching," he announced. "Can't you see the lights of many candles through the curtains? Get ready to follow me." The officers' fists tightened on their swords.

A minute later, the officers were bursting through the door. Almost as quickly, a tall man stood in the entry way to meet them, with a younger man at his side. "Whom do you seek?" he asked quietly.

"Do you know Dirk Willems?" an officer demanded.

"Yes, I do," the man answered gently.

"Where is the rascal?"

"I myself am he," the man told them, after a pause.

The officers grabbed Dirk's arms and began to bind them, when suddenly the Dean shouted, "Fools! Why do you delay? Where are the others?"

But while Dirk was speaking with the officers, the rest of the believers has hurried out the back door and into the woods. The officers tied up the younger man, Hans Segers, and took them both to jail.

"Why didn't you watch the back door, as I told you?" the Dean growled at one of the officers. "What do I pay you for?"