Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

A maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time online

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" He told us that his clan took a plaid, and mak
ing a hammock of it, carried him in it all the way
to London."


" And he was separated from these faithful fel
lows ! " cried Agratha ; " what a shame ! "

" That is what I say. They went first to the
West Indies, and left fifty of their number there.
Ten were left for the tobacco fields at Norfolk.
Seven were sold in New York, and the rest in Bos
ton and Salem. His account of their dispersal was
most piteous. The Governor's eyes were full of
tears, and indeed, Ragel, I would have felt it a re
lief to have shown a like weakness."

" If these things be so, he must have had power
ful friends to help him; for New Amsterdam is a
long way from London," said Ragel.

" Quite unexpectedly he met Lord Mclvar at
Lady Moody's two years ago, and Mclvar has
powerful friends, and Angus McAlpine and Gael
Mclvar are not only neighbours, they are also

" Foster brothers ! How so, Paul? "

" Well, then, when Mclvar was born, his mother
was ill with fever, and could not suckle her child.
Lady McAlpine was then nursing her son Angus,
and Mclvar was taken to McAlpine castle and ten
derly cared for by Lady McAlpine. The boys
grew up together, and like brothers they loved each
other. After Worcester, the Mclvars did all that
was possible to find out if any of the McAlpines
had been spared, but they could hear nothing of
them; and for long Gael Mclvar mourned Angus
as dead. His meeting with him at Gravesend was


a great shock. Ever since, he has been working
for his foster-brother's freedom, and finally he suc
ceeded through the influence of Lord Thurlow,
who is no relative, but had once been a lover of
Lady Mclvar."

" 'Tis a strange story," said Madame Van Ruy-
ven. " Poor Gus ! Sometimes I was cross with
him. To-night I am sorry for it. But tell me,
Paul, why he went to Madame Van Dam's? "

'* He went there because his sister stays there."

" Do you mean Rose Finlay? "

" Yes."

" I always thought that woman had the look of
sorrows and adventures. It is not a nice look for
a woman to have. Why did she call herself out of
her own name ? "

" Her name is Rose Finlay McAlpine. She had
her good reasons for dropping the clan name."

" I thought she came from Paris ? "

" After Worcester, she fled with her mother to
Paris. In a few months Lady McAlpine died, and
then Rose began her search for her lost brother."

" Did she know that he was alive? "

" She hoped so. The stragglers from the battle
field reached home singly, or by twos and threes.
They had been hunted through England and Low
land Scotland, but they were cattle drovers, and
knew lonely and uninhabited roads, and so nearly
naked and famished stumbled up to McAlpine
Castle, with their terrible story of disaster. Most


of them had seen the dead bodies of Chief Dugald
and his two eldest sons, but all agreed that Angus
had been taken a prisoner while still fighting.
After the death of Lady McAlpine, Rose had but
one hope and aim to find her brother."

" Does she know that he is found? Who sent
her word? Was it the Governor? "

" Moeder," answered Agratha, " I told her, as
I came home, that Gus was with the Governor and
a gentleman from England, and she trembled with
excitement, and said she must hurry to the Fort.
I think she knew then that the thing she wanted
had come to pass."

" She was with Madame Stuyvesant and
Madame Bayard all day," said Van Ruyven, " and
you could hear the women talking and crying
with her."

" Well, Paul, to speak it plain, what did the
Governor say to this wonderful story?"

" The Governor behaved like a good man, yes,
indeed, like a man of God. He seated the poor
bondman by his side, he hurried over the count
ing and writing and sealing of papers, and was the
first to call him * Chief McAlpine ' and declare
him free as his Maker made him. To-day I saw
the real Peter Stuyvesant, and he has a good
heart, a kind, merciful heart."

" Angus McAlpine was a soldier, Paul," said
Madame Van Ruyven, " and the whole brood of
them were soldiers, and there it is! Stuyvesant


feels to a soldier, as if he were a comrade. If the
young man's father had kept store, or built
houses, he would have hummed and hawed over
every word, and dallied and delayed beyond

" Come, come, Ragel. Can't you take a good
deed without looking for its motives? I say that
Stuyvesant behaved like a man of God to-day. 9 '

" For my part, Paul "

" Good gracious, wife ! I saw him ! He wept
with the bondman, and he rejoiced with him. He
ate and drank with him, he treated him as one
brave man treats another brave man."

" Well, then, it is a new tale thou art taking up
about Peter Stuyvesant; I am not yet used to it.
Will this wonderful young soldier remain in New
Amsterdam? I shall not know how to treat him."

" In a short time he goes with his sister to
Scotland. That was the only injunction laid on
him by Cromwell that he should return as soon
as possible to his native land, gather his people
together, and live quietly on his estate."

"But why?"

" Because, Ragel, there are too many young
Englishmen and Scotsmen going to France, and
gathering round King Charles."

" It was well Madame Stuyvesant remembered
men got hungry at regular hours, and sent you
something to eat," said Ragel. " It is seldom she
reminds herself of such a thing."


" She sent us a very good lunch, and the Gov
ernor placed Chief Angus at his right hand, and
we drank his health and prosperity before any
other toast. I ate heartily, and I was not hungry
when I came home."

" No, but thou got hungry as soon as the meal
was on the table."

" Well, then, that is my way."

The many details of this wonderful story kept
the Van Ruyvens talking long after their usual
hour, and it happened that in the course of
the conversation, Agratha said something which
roused her mother's suspicion and compelled her
confession of what she had seen between Mclvar
and McAlpine at Lady Moody's.

Madame was angry at her daughter. " You
ought to have told me as soon as you came home,"
she said. " I dare say Lady Moody was then
told the whole story, for she finds out everything,
or else people go and beg her to listen to their
secrets. I am astonished and ashamed of you,
Agratha, keeping such an important thing a secret
from your moeder."

" Moeder dear, it was not my secret. It was
Lord Mclvar's secret."

" And it was also Angus McAlpine's secret,
and Angus McAlpine was a bondsman in my

" I did not know what unhappiness I might
cause by talking."


" But no ! How could you cause unhappiness
by talking to your moeder? "

" Fader, did I do wrong, or right ? "

" You did right, Agratha. You did what I
should have done. Always when you are not sure
what to say, say nothing."

" Well, well, Paul Ruyven ! Can you teach
your daughter nothing but disobedience? What
is to be the end of such ways ? Oh, dear, if it has
come to this ! "

" Now, Ragel, we will go to our good sleep.
The day is over! It has been a wonderful day
and we must thank The Merciful One and sleep.
ITo-morrow our work will be waiting for us."



AT this time without any apparent reason Agratha
was unhappy. Her soul was cast down and dis
quieted within her, yet the Christmas preparations
were well on and she was busy with many a
pleasant duty. Also this year every man, woman
and child seemed more than usually inspired by
Christmas mirth and good fellowship. This cir
cumstance probably rose from two causes: first,
from Angus McAlpine. His story was told over
and over as men smoked and drank their Hollands
and women knit and listened and commented on it ;
while the very appearance of the youth on the
streets was a visible, living romance

For his faithful sister had carried with her
through all the difficulties of the travel of that
day, a full suit of Chief's clothing, and what could
be a finer fairy story for Christmas-tide, than the
transformation of the poor bondman, Gus, into
Angus, Chief of McAlpine. Everyone liked to see
his great stature in its kilt and plaid of the beau
tiful McAlpine tartan the dark blues and greens
squared with gold and white his fine lace and


linen, his velvet vest with its gold buttons, and his
Glengary cap with its eagle feather and silver
boar's head, his splendidly tasselled sporran of
stamped leather, his jewelled kirk, and his tartan
hose gartered below the knee, with bows of Mc-
Alpine ribbon. No wonder the girls were in love
with him, and that the men liked to look at the
gallant figure, and fancy themselves in the same
striking and picturesque costume. For with the
dress, Angus had assumed all of a chief's haughty
manner and carriage, and to the unromantic and
often ignorant Dutch trader, the youth was a
page out of a story book fitting in well enough
with the wonder and mystery of Christmas.

The other event influencing Christmas was the
fact that the Governor was to sail on Christmas
Eve for the West Indies. The news of this in
tention affected New Amsterdam very much as the
news that the schoolmaster was going away for all
day would affect the boys in a big school. The
burghers for ,once had not a single objection to
make. In fact they did all they could to forward
his plans, and also prepared for a great banquet
to be given to him on the eve of his departure.

It was hardly likely that Agratha could be af
fected by either of these causes, unless as they
influenced the people with whom she came in con
tact ; yet even this much was a sway or a bias she
could not ignore. For instance she was astonished
and troubled by the change in Rose McAlpine.


She had lost all her fine spirits and sunny temper.
She was more like a person that had suffered a
great loss or disappointment, than one who, after
years of toil and search, had been rewarded
with all her wish. And about this remarkable
change Agratha could not help speaking to her

Madame shook her head sadly and answered:
" It is Elsie Van Dam that troubles Rose. I
heard this morning that Angus and Elsie are to be
married immediately. It was even said they loved
each other when McAlpine was our bondman."

" Yes, moeder, I believe it. Many things I saw
and wondered over."

" Madame Van Dam is much distressed. Elsie
is her only living child, and Rose has
travelled and worked and suffered so much for
Angus. When he was first found, Rose began to
plan their life together, and how it would be their
joy to work until they had released all of their
clan who were in bondage. Oh, dear moeder, so
much disappointment can come to the heart that
loves ! "

" None for you, Dear One."

" Yes, yes, moeder ! I am disappointed more
than I can tell you, because Gael Mclvar has been
so false and forgetful."

" Perhaps he is not forgetful, Dear One. I
think he will come at the time he promised."

" No, no, moeder ! He would have written. He


would have written. Just one little letter would
have made me happy. But no! "

And Ragel looked so sadly at her daughter, and
seemed so ready to speak, that Agratha waited for
her words, but instead of speaking, she lifted her
work and went away. This was one of those con
versations that prefigure something much more
important in the same direction.

It came with Lady Moody a few days before
Christmas. She entered the Van Ruyven house
radiant and full of life, but yet with an air of
determination, as if she had an unpleasant duty to
perform, and was restless until it was accom
plished. After the first civilities were over she

" I am at the Stillwells. I have come to the
city not only for Christmas, but to be present at
the marriage of McAlpine to Elsie Van Dam."

" It is not possible ! Surely it cannot be ! just
yet ! " exclaimed Madame Van Ruyven.

" It is the truth. I am angry with McAlpine,
and Rose is miserably disappointed. She had
such great dreams of what Angus and herself
would do to restore the prestige of their clan. I
assure you, I came to New Amsterdam this time
with more bad temper than I usually carry about
with me."

" Agratha has told me," said Madame, " that
Elsie showed Angus some favours before he was
free. A girl does not carry on for nothing."


" Elsie is a shrewd little Dutch woman. She
did not show favour, unless she knew to whom she
was showing it."

" How could she know? "

** There are many ways of finding out things,
open to women who live in the same house. I
hear they are to sail with the Governor in the ship
Abraham's Sacrifice on Christmas Eve."

" But the Governor goes to the West Indies."

" He will touch at Jamaica, and there they will
find good English ships at any season. There is
not one in our harbour at present."

" Will Rose go with them? "

" Yes, as far as London. From London she
goes to Paris. And Angus is willing! Such in
gratitude is incredible. Poor little Rose ! "

" How can he ? How can he ? "

" Ragel, he is in love. Every man is brutually
selfish, under the spell. There is then but one
woman in the world to him. If others live, he is
indifferent to them, and as for the one woman, he
must have her if he tread on his own soul to get

" Moeder, I am going to sit with Rose a little
while," said Agratha.

" That is well. Be home in a good time."

As soon as Agratha had left the room, Lady
Moody took from her reticule a little parcel.
" Ragel," she said, " here is another token and
letter from Gael Mclvar. In his letter to me, he


complains that he has never had one line from
Agratha. Why is that? How did she receive his
gifts and letters? "

Madame was too troubled to answer for a few
moments, and when she did so, her voice betrayed
excitement, if not anger. " She never received
any of them. Her father thought it best to say
nothing about either gifts or letters."

" That was a very unkind, dishonourable thing
to do, and I am sorry for you."

" Your sorrow is not required, Deborah. No,
indeed ! Agratha is our child, and her fader
wished her to forget the young man. He is not a
desirable match for Agratha."

" Indeed ! Then Madame, I am a very indif
ferent judge of a desirable match. Gael Mclvar is
a good match for any woman in Scotland, or Eng
land either."

" And yet may not be good for any woman in
New Amsterdam."

" Let me tell you one thing. Agratha was
passionately taken with Gael and you have be
haved to her in an exceedingly unhandsome man
ner. I have here a letter and a gift from his
Lordship, and I shall put them into the child's
own hand. I swear she has been badly used be
tween us, and I am very uneasy at the circum

" Take off your bonnet and cloak, Deborah, and
do not get angry for nothing at all."


" Look you, Ragel. I do not consider keeping
jewellery and letters ' nothing at all.* And I am
astonished at Councillor Van Ruyven. Women
will do dirty, mean, underhand tricks, to get their
way, but that a man should keep a little girl's
trinkets and love letters is an intolerably ugly

" Deborah, men do as many dirty, mean, under
hand tricks to get their way, as women do. There
was nothing wrong in our keeping these things
from Agratha. Parents should keep their chil
dren from playing with fire. We are not very
patterns of wisdom like yourself, but I think we
may be trusted to take care of our own daughter."

" Indeed, I will trust you no longer ! I am
mightily annoyed at myself for trusting you so
far. You have fallen short of my expectations."

" That is a great calamity for us. I hope we
shall be able to bear it."

" You are making yourself disagreeable, Ragel.
You are very foolish. You ought to be full of
excuses and regrets, and you have not one decent
defence. To speak plainly, you have amazed me.
I dislike you for this injustice to Agratha, but I
find I love you well enough to tell you so."

" Then sit down, and if I can invent any ex
cuses, I will try to do so."

" Not now, Ragel. This is an unpleasant visit,
and I don't care how soon I finish it."

" Well, then, Deborah, understand that I do not


allow you to be a judge of Councillor Van Ruy-
ven's and my conduct."

" My dear, your servant." and with these
words Lady Moody departed.

Madame Van Ruyven was much troubled, and
she knew not how to act. It seemed at first as
if it would be best to tell Agratha the whole truth,
but when she returned from her visit to Rose, she
was so silent and depressed her mother feared to
open the subject with her. After all, it might be
better to let her father make excuses, if he thought
excuses necessary.

" You must be sick, Dear One," Madame said :
' this some time past you have not had any good
spirits, and so seldom now you laugh, or even sing
the pretty songs Rose taught you. Where is
your trouble? Tell moeder."

" Moeder, I am well. I have no pain ; only my
heart is sad, because I see that Love brings only
sorrow and disappointment."

" Not so, Dear One. Much happiness comes
with Love."

" Not to me."

" Very wrong it is for thee to talk in such a way
very thankless. Has thy fader's or thy moeder's
love brought thee " then she stopped speak
ing, for she suddenly perceived what sorrow and
disappointment was coming to Agratha, through
her fader's and moeder's love.

So silence fell between these two, always before


so full of innocent gossip and wonderings, and
the mother's heart ached with the knowledge of
evil, and the child's with the fear of evil. But
after a short silence Madame said : " You have
done too much with your needle lately, Agratha;
put away your work, and tell some things to me.
Did you see Rose? "

" Yes, moeder."

" What did she say about her brother's wed
ding? "

" She said little, but she looked sick and un
happy. She was alone in her room. Angus and
Elsie, were busy writing some invitations, and
directing the servants, who were decorating
the two large parlours. They seemed happy

" When are they to be married? "

" Two days before Christmas."

"Will you be invited?"

" I hope not. I do not wish to go. How can
Angus and Elsie be so happy? Madame Van
Dam is constantly weeping, and Rose looks
wretched. They must see the misery they are

"Well, then, Agratha, every joy and every
gain is built on the ruins of someone's happiness,
or someone's loss. That is the way things are

" Then I take leave to say, moeder, it Is a cruel,
hard way. I do not want my happiness built on


yours and fader's misery. I would not so have
it. No, indeed ! "

" It makes me glad, Dear One, to hear thee say
such good words."

" But then faders and moeders should not make
the way too hard. If they do, they will see what
comes of it."

Madame did not answer, and Van Ruyven com
ing in at the moment, the conversation ceased.
Yet Ragel felt strangely uncomfortable at its per
sistent tendency in one direction. And when sup
per was nearly over, young Nicholas Stillwell came
to the door, and asked for Miss Van Ruyven. He
evaded all requests to enter, and when Agratha
went to him, he gave her a small parcel, which he
said he brought with Lady Moody's love.

Agratha came back to the table smiling with
pleasure. " I think Lady Moody has sent me a
Christmas present," she said, and so began
eagerly to untie the string of the parcel. Madame
looked at her husband, who was placidly buttering
and eating his waffles. The parcel at length lay
open. There was a handsome jewellery case in it
and a letter. Agratha lifted the letter, and a
wave of rosy colour swept over her face, and her
eyes shone like stars, and she said softly:

" Moeder ! Fader ! it is it is from Gael Mc-
Ivar ! " and then her eyes followed the tender, re
proachful words from line to line, until all signs
of pleasure disappeared, and her face was sad and


white and wretched. When she had read the letter
through, she sat silent and motionless for a few
moments, then in a low voice she said:

" Gael tells me that he has sent me three letters,
and three gifts before this. I wonder what has
become of them? " and she looked steadily at her

" Ask thy fader, Agratha," replied Madame, in
answer to the inquiry, and then Agratha said:
" Fader, dost thus know where my letters and
gifts are? "

" Yes, I know."

Tell me."

" They are in my desk in the parlour."

" Get them for me. Yes, fader, get them now !
I want them ! Oh, fader, I want them so much ! "

" It is better for thee not to have them."

" They are mine, fader ; moeder, speak for me."

*' When the young man comes, I will give them
back to him."

" I care not for the jewellery. Fader, I want
my letters ! I must have my letters ! "

" Since when did a child like thee learn to say
must to her fader? "

" When her letters were stolen from her.
Fader, I will not speak to thee again unless thou
give me my letters. If thou wilt not give me them,
I will go and tell the Governor. He will make
thee give me all that is mine. Thou may keep the
jewels but I must have my letters! "


" A child like thee, Agratha "

** Fader, a child has some rights of its own. I
want my letters! I must have my letters! If
thou wilt not give me them, be sure I will go to the
Governor. If I am a child, he will stand for me,
just because I am a child. I thought thou loved
me! I thought thou loved me! Oh wee! Oh
wee! I thought thou loved me ! " and she covered
her face with her hands, and wept with all the pas
sionate abandon of a child.

" I kept thy letters, Agratha, because I loved
thee because I loved thee too well to give them to
thee. But if thou cannot trust thy fader, thou
shalt have them. God help me ! Thou hast torn
my heart in two this night. Still, if that young
man is more to thee than thy fader and moeder,
thou shalt have his letters curse them ! "

" Fader, it is cruel and wicked to curse what is
coming into my hands ! " and she held out her
small hands towards him, till he could have cried
aloud in his anger and heartache. " It is not
that I love Gael more than thee, fader, but I am
sorry for him watching, watching, watching for
the few kind words I ought to have sent ; and
never, never getting them. Two years! Two
long years he has been watching and waiting!
And poor Agratha, she also was watching and
waiting, and covering up her heartache with a
smile, that she might talk to thee ; and perhaps, at
the same hour, thou had the letter in thy pocket,


that would have made thy poor Agratha happy.
It was cruel ! Yes, it was cruel ! "

" Thou shalt have thy letters, Agratha."

" Thy fader kept them out of the truest love for
thee, Agratha. Do not forget that," said

" I know he thinks he did, moeder."

" I also thought he did right."

" So! Then I am sorry and astonished.
When thou went to Albany to see my sister, many
letters thou wrote to my fader. I gave them
great love and honour. I let no strange hand
touch them. I would not have kept one for my
very life. No, indeed ! "

" Oh, Agratha, that was a different case."

" Not so much different, moeder. Some day it
may be the same."

At these words Paul Van Ruyven laid three let
ters and three packages before her. " If they
bring thee dool and sorrow, Agratha, remember I
would have saved thee, and thou would not let
me." There were tears in his troubled eyes, and
he went to the fireside and sat down, but forgot to
take his pipe.

Madame called a servant to remove the supper
dishes, and Agratha lifted her letters and parcels,
and sat down with them in her hands. No one
spoke ; the very atmosphere of the room was full of
wrong and sorrow, just as it is sometimes full of
rain. Paul had not thought of his pipe, Madame


had taken her wheel, but was breaking the thread
with its every turn; and Agratha sat white and
silent, a sense of injury and injustice thrilling her
from head to feet.

Yet it was not so much her own loss and suffer
ing she was lamenting, it was the wrong done to
Gael Mclvar she resented. How ungrateful he
must have thought her ! How vulgarly unfeeling !
How careless of his happiness! Would he ever
come back to New Amsterdam now? It was

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 10 of 20)