Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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unlimited, if he had only recognised the condition,
This he failed to do, and in this failure consum
mated all minor failures he did not " water the
pigeons," he refused to see that there were any
pigeons to water, a blindness fatal to a politician,
even in those early days of the present New

Stuyvesant had never been so ungentlemanly
as to make investigations and inquiries; he had
taken it for granted that there would be per
quisites and gratuities, frankly accepted those
that came by way of his office, and not been in
quisitive concerning those that went in other


directions. They missed also the personal mag
netism of the man, the stimulant to business there
was in his presence, the pulling up tight of their
individualities, which was the result of his dom
ineering personal way, the catching quality in
his resounding laugh, the astonishing power of his
unanswerable adjectives, the very thump of his
wooden leg on the wooden floors, and the stony
streets, yes, they missed even his bright breeches,
and fine slashed sleeves, and white falling collar
and tassels.

In spite of his mutilated form he had a dignity
and an authority beyond all other men in New
Amsterdam, and when strangers visited their city
the officials were a little ashamed of the small
polite Frenchman, who stood in the place of their
splendidly majestic Stuyvesant.

" We are sorry, gentlemen," they would say
with an air of apology, " but our Governor is away
en State business. He would have made every
thing different, if he had been here."

For they knew he would have done so. If the
visitors had been of importance he would have
feasted them royally, and talked to them so
grandiloquently of the resources and advantages
of New Netherland, that purchase or settlement
would have ensued. But if De Sille did any of
this kind of work, he did it individually, and no
one but De Sille knew what profits accrued to the
agent in the matter.


They felt this to be a wrong. They were kept
too much in the dark. Stuyvesant's frankness,
even if it represented no guilders, was much more
agreeable. It at least supplied them with con
versation, and gave them opportunities of reflect
ing on the Governor's want of tact, and their own
superior understandings. So they wanted their
tyrannical Governor to come back to them, and
the desire grew and spread until the whole city;
was possessed by the same longing. But the
winter passed, and nothing was officially heard
from the little fleet that had sailed away so joy
ously on Christmas Eve.

To people as dissatisfied as were the burghers
of New Amsterdam, that Spring, the wheels of life
ran slowly, but perhaps slowest of all to Agratha
Van Ruyven. On the eighth of March, Lord Mc-
Ivar had come to his majority, and he had prom
ised in his last letter to follow that date as quickly
as possible. But it was now the end of April, and
no other letter had come to her. She was heart
sick, and she was physically sick also pale and
spiritless, eating little and sleeping less. Doctors
came and looked at her, and said things about
malaria and spring fever, and gave her huge doses
of Jesuit's bark, which did her no good. She
slipped away from all society, and was usually
to be found lying motionless and dejected upon
her bed.

Van Ruyven was wretched, he thought she was


going into a decline, and talked of taking her to
the Bermudas.

" Let her alone," said Madame. " If a certain
letter would come, she would need no medicine,
and if Lord Mclvar would show himself in New
Amsterdam, Agratha would not leave it, even for
the New Jerusalem."

" Ragel, I like not to hear you mention the New
Jerusalem in that irreverent way, and if I thought
Mclvar was the cause of her sickness, we would
leave here to-morrow. I am glad you mentioned
him. Suppose you take Agratha to visit her
sister at Albany."

" I will not go to Albany just now, Paul. Ger
trude is house cleaning I suppose, and we should
be most uncomfortable amid the noisy children,
and the hubbub Gertrude always makes about
that business. Albany is out of our consider
ing. Think for a moment, if Mclvar comes thus
far to see Agratha, he will not be stopped by a sail
up the river to Albany. No, indeed ! "

" But the child is sick. She needs change of
air. The doctors say so."

" She can go to Lady Moody."

" If thou go with her, not without. Mclvar
is kin to Lady Moody. I will not trust her with
out thee."

" Well then, I would like two weeks' rest before
I pull the house to pieces, so I will write to Lady
Moody, and see what she says about it."


" Do so, Ragel. Make no mistakes concern
ing it. I have a feeling of hurry on this matter."

" I can see neither hurry nor worry necessary.
Agratha will be well as soon as she gets a letter
from Lord McT ar or sees him. That is my
judgment. If uiou had taken my advice, and
allowed the dear child to have her letters, there
would have been no sickness, and no anxiety."

Just as Madame Van Ruyven was writing her
letter to Lady Moody she entered the Van Ruyven
parlour. " Your servant, Madame ! " she said
cheerfully. " I am come to beg your company
for a short time. You must know that my son,
Sir Henry, has gone to Virginia."

"But no! Truly, we have not heard of such
a thing."

" Ha, my dear, that is the De Sille's policy !
What he makes by it, I hope he knows, for no one
else pretends to. Sir Henry has gone on a polit
ical mission, but though he was in an agitation
about the business, I assure you the city is quite
ignorant of his journey. His valet and myself
walked down to the ship with him, and I do not
believe that three persons in New Amsterdam
knew that Sir Henry Moody was going on an im
portant mission to the Governor of Virginia."

" If Peter Stuyvesant had been sending
him "

" Ah, that would have been a different affair ! "
cried Lady Moody impulsively. " There would


have been a guard of soldiers from the Fort to
accompany Sir Henry to his ship; there would
have been trumpeters in advance, and the roll of
drums to march to, and certainly the roar of can
non as the ship bearing the Company's ambassa
dor lifted her anchor. I wish Stuyvesant would
come back. Since he went, all the wonderfuls are
worn out, and New Amsterdam is as stupid as
Salem or Boston. I am lonely, will you and
Agratha go back to Gravesend with me? "

This affair was quickly settled, and Agratha
was pleased at the prospect; for she did not for
get to tell herself that Mclvar would be likely
to touch at Gravesend, before reaching New Ams
terdam. The next morning they all went to Lady
Moody's sloop together. It was a sweet, cool
May morning, and the scent of the lilacs filled the
streets, but Van Ruyven was depressed and silent.
The visit had been planned and carried out with
a haste that left him unhappy and helpless. He
would gladly have withdrawn his consent, and
taken the storm of feminine reproaches resulting,
but he saw that Agratha was happy in the change,
and he delayed and delayed the withdrawal he
contemplated, until the ladies were on board, and
he standing on the pier watching them sail away
from him. Lady Moody and Madame Van Ruy
ven soon went to the little cabin, but Agratha
stood at the taffrail, and waved her hand to her
father as long as she could see him.



Did no Inner Voice in those few moments
whisper, " Look long, Van Ruyven, for many sad
days shall pass ere you see your daughter's face
again." No. Paul received neither warning nor
counsel from any Power higher than his own in
telligence, for he was a purely material man, his
soul barely touched the rim of the spiritual life.
He never recognised presentiment or foreboding;
the prophecying dreams knew him not, signs and
superstitions of all kinds he ridiculed; there was
no side of his outer life which his Inner Life could
inform; the sharply defined conscious life he knew
fairly well, but of the haunting life below it, he
knew nothing at all.

Two weeks passed quietly away, and Paul heard
nothing but good reports from Gravesend.
Agratha had recovered her health and beauty, and
Madame also declared she had renewed her youth.
On the Monday morning of the third week of their
visit, Lady Moody met them at the breakfast table
in her travelling dress.

" Ragel," she said, " you may notice that I am
ready for a sea trip. I heard last night that all
the seed corn put away for this spring planting is
spoiled, and the land is now ready and waiting
for the seed. I must go to New Amsterdam to
day for a fresh supply. Who will go with me,
and who will remain here? "

" I wish to stay here," answered Agratha.

" Well then, Deborah, I will go with you. I


can run home and see that the house is going on
right, and that my husband is not neglected.
How long shall we be away ? "

" This night only. Sometime to-morrow we
shall make Gravesend again."

" Then Agratha and Ladarine would be alone

" My dear, by no means. James Hubbard and
his wife will come over here at the darkening, and
remain until morning."

" I should never think of being afraid, if Lad
arine was with me," said Agratha. " Is there any
need for the Hubbards to come? Mr. Hubbard
makes such long prayers, and Ladarine does not
like him."

" I know, Agratha," answered Lady Moody.
" Ladar Jne would enjoy being alone, and while
so, have the Indians to fight off the place. I am
opposed to Ladarine making a heroine of herself.
I cannot spare her scalp, it implies too much loss
of every kind."

" Is there any fear of an Indian attack ? " asked
Madame Van Ruyven.

" Not any, Ragel, unless they have found out
that Governor Stuyvesant is away. They both
fear and love Stuyvesant, because he has always
been absolutely just to them. Justice is what
they understand. The Long Island Indians are
a proud race, and Stuyvesant won them by re
specting their peculiarities. He has eat and


drank and smoked with them, and this treatment
has pacified them, where powder and shot failed."

" I do not know whether I ought to leave
Agratha," said Madame Van Ruyven.

" Why then, upon my word Agratha is as safe
here as on your own hearthstone. I shall go
straight to the Stillwells', and Nicholas will have
the bags of corn I require shipped early in the
morning. We may be back here by one o'clock,
and Ladarine must have a good dinner ready for

So there was a little flurry of hurry and ex
citement, until the two ladies were on the water;
then a pleasant stillness settled over the big
house, as Agratha brought her bit of lace work
beside the big Yorkshire woman, and very soon
they began talking about Gael Mclvar. And it
so happened that Agratha's confidence went
further than she intended, and Ladarine heard the
whole story of the detained letters and gifts.

" It was a shame," she replied, " and I don't
mind saying so. Thy father shouldn't have done
it ; it wasn't fair of him."

At the very hour that Ladarine uttered this
condemnation of Van Ruyven, Gael Mclvar en
tered his warehouse, and was taken to his private
room. Van Ruyven appeared to be lost in a
column of figures, and he did not look up until
the total was reached. Then he turned and saw
Gael Mclvar. The handsome youth was like an


incarnation of Love and Hope, and his beauty and
apparent happiness was an offence

"I am just arrived, Councillor," he said, " and
I am glad to see you again. I hope Madame and
Miss Agratha are well."

" They are in Albany at present. I suppose
they are well."

" It is more than two years, Councillor, since
I saw you."

" I have much business this day but if per
haps there is something I can oblige you in? "

" Sir, I have come from Scotland purposely
to ask your permission to marry Miss Van Ruy-

" Indeed."

" I love her, Sir, beyond all words."

"Well then?"

11 1 wish to make her my wife at once."

" You want an impossibility. She can never
be your wife."

" Sir ! Sir ! You cannot mean what you

" The words I speak, I mean. That is my

" Sir, I will not mention my own love, but let
me tell you, your daughter loves me."

" She does not. If she does, she must stop
loving you. I will see to that."

" She has promised to marry me."

" She can marry no one, without my consent."


" Then, Sir, I entreat your consent."

" I will not permit her to marry until she is
twenty-one years old. Can you wait three
years ? "

" No. That would be an impossible wait. Sir
I can give your daughter high station, honours
and great wealth."

" I care nothing for such things."

" I have done fairly well at Oxford. I did not
leave without honours."

" That will be to your advantage."

" Sir, what have you against my claim on
Agratha's future ? "

" You have no claim on Miss Van Ruyven's

" Her sure promise."

" It is worth nothing. She cannot redeem it."

" You must have some reason for such an un
just dislike as you appear to bear towards me.
Will you tell me what it is ? "

" I will. You are a Scot ! " and he lifted his
head as he spoke, and let his passion get the bet
ter of him. " All your people are selfish and
cruel. There was your bondman friend. He was
kindly treated by myself and all my family.
After he obtained his freedom, he never entered
my house or spoke to me again. He never saw
my wife and daughter if they were in the same
room with him. He was taken into the Van
Dams' family, he won Elsie's love, and got her to


marry him on a two weeks' acquaintance, then he
took her away from her mother, and insisted also
on Elsie's portion being paid to him; and so left
Madame to break her heart in poverty and lone
liness. What do you think of such conduct?"

" The circumstances were peculiar, and it is
the way of the world."

" It may be the way of the Scotch world, it is
not the way of the Dutch world."

" Is there anything I can say, or do, to win
your consideration, Councillor."

" Nothing. Agratha's marriage will not be in
my consideration for three years."

" Great Heaven ! You have a heart harder
than a stone."

" My daughter is dearer than life to me."

" I deny it. You have treated your daughter
cruelly, ever since I left her stolen her letters,
kept her gifts, and refused to give the poor child
the few words of comfort that would have spared
her hours of anxiety about me."

*' Lord Mclvar, you are out of the question.
This is a day of business, and I have more im
portant things to attend to, than your love
affairs." Then he rose in a passion, went to the
door, and flung it wide open. He did not speak,
but his imperative gesture was sufficient.

" You are beyond doubt, Sir, the most dis
courteous, as well as the most dishonourable of
men," said Mclvar, as he left the room, " but I


shall go at once to Albany, and plead my cause
with Agratha. I will win her in spite of you. I
will win her, if I go to the gates of hell to win her."

Van Ruyven was crimson with rage, and trem
bling with his effort to control it. Mclvar was
also very wroth, but he preserved a gay debonair
manner, and smiled and spoke to the men he met
in the store in a careless tone, asking one of them,
where he could find a man capable of taking his
ship to Albany?

The man of whom this inquiry was made was
charmed with the young lord's urbanity, and
smiling good-will, and he offered to go with him
to Chris Jansen's the best pilot for any water,
near New Amsterdam. And Van Ruyven was
astounded and infuriated at Mclvar accepting the
services of one of his men ; though he told himself
at the moment, that Teunis Van Brugge was no
longer in his employ.

He found it impossible to go back to his figures.
He knew that he must go home, and get into its
solitude in order to collect and control his feel
ings. And he was no sooner on the street than
he remembered Ragel was not there to help him
in his trouble."

" It is the way things go," he muttered. " If
you want your wife, she is looking after some
other people. Ragel is getting to be a real wan-
derfoot, not in her own house for more than two
weeks now. I wish I had not let her go to Grave-


send. Lady Moody is an unmanageable woman
and also that fellow's cousin confound

He ordered his dinner to be hurried forward,
and sat down to consider his ways. Mclvar had
gone to Albany, he was sure of that, for he had
sent a trustworthy clerk to watch his movements,
and this man said he had seen Chris Jansen go
on board The Nautilus with Lord Mclvar, and
also watched the ship make her way to the North

But that was not enough, he must have Agratha
under his own roof and control, and while he was
considering the wisdom of going himself to Grave-
send, Ragel entered the room. Never had Van
Ruyven been so thankful for her cheerful, sen
sible presence, and he immediately told her all his

" And you sent him to Albany?"

" I did."

" I never knew you to tell a straight lie like
that before, Paul."

" I committed a little sin, to save a greater

" Well then, it may be two weeks before he gets
back from Albany. We intend going to the
Hague in July, suppose we start at once."

"That idea I like, Ragel. The Great Chris
topher sails for Amsterdam in six days. Could
thou be ready?"


" Could thou, Paul? "

" I can put Wim in my place. He knows the
business as well as I do. Did Agratha come with
thee? Where is she? "

" In Gravesend. I did not bring her, because
I am going back in the morning."

" But is Agratha alone down there? "

" There is the woman Ladarine with her, and
the Hubbards, and the whole settlement if she
wanted it. Lady Moody had to come to New
York for seed corn that was much needed. She
thought we might be in Gravesend again by noon

" Where was Lady Moody going for the seed
corn? "

" To Nicholas Stillwell's warehouse."

" If Nicholas Stillwell has it to put on Lady
Moody's sloop, you will not get back to Grave-
send by noon. It will more likely be dark.
He is a slow man."

" Noon or dark, I will be there to-morrow, and
3 will bring Agratha home the next day."

" See that thou do that very thing. I shall be
miserable until she is here, in my home, and pres

" And in a week, we start for the Hague? "

" It is best so."

" There will be much to do. We must be here
On Wednesday."

" Remember, Ragel, that there are many fine


shops in Amsterdam and the Hague. Take only
your travelling clothes."

Just as Paul Van Ruyven and his wife Ragel
came to this conclusion, Lord Mclvar went to the
man at the wheel of The Nautilus. His face was
irresolute and dissatisfied, and he said, " Chris
Jansen, I am going among strangers, and you tell
me that we may meet plenty of hostile Indians.
Now, if I lose my life "

" Tut! Tut! Your life is in no danger."

" Well, if I never return to New Amsterdam,
I should like my mother and my relatives to know
what came of me. Governor Stuyvesant is un
fortunately away."

" Yes, my lord, but he may be home any day."

" Do you know Lady Moody ? "

" I rather think I do."

*' Do you see her often ? "

" I am at Gravesend three or four times a week.
She is in the city to-day trying to buy seed corn.
I spoke to her half an hour before you mentioned
the Albany trip to me. Madame Van Ruyven was
with her, but the young Miss was not. She went
to Gravescnd, because she was very sick, but I
heard them talk of coming home next Monday."

" Chris Jansen, do not take another length of
the boat. I am going to Gravesend. If you will
put me at Gravesend early to-morrow morning,
I will give you twenty sovereigns. You know the
way there? "


* e My Lord, I could sail it blind."

" We will stay where we are, until twilight
makes all grey and confused. Then slip out to
sea. You must try and have me at Gravesend
yery early."

" I'll have you there at cock crow, Sir."

This promise was amply kept, and The Nautilus
jras at Gravesend in the glimmer of the dawning.
All was quiet and lonely as if the eyes of man
kind had never before looked upon the low, sandy
stretches. Mclvar paid Jansen, and as he did so
asked :

" Where do you go now, Jansen ? "

" I shall walk over to Flatbush, my Lord, and
get a bit of breakfast with my daughter who lives
there. After that, I shall turn my face Boston
ways, for a month or two. I have a son there, I
have not seen for six years, I am needing a holi
day, and your Lordship's generosity gives me the
power to take one."

" Then you are not likely to be in New Amster
dam for a few weeks ? "

* If you say a few months, you will come closer
to the time 'tis likely."

* That is good. You can talk then, if you

" My Lord, I can live without talking, especially
about business that does not concern me."

" You are a wise man, Jansen," and he pressed
a couple more sovereigns into the man's willing


palm. Then they parted with mutual satisfac

As for Gael Mclvar, he was still in a mood
which this, or that, might change. His good and
evil nature were at war, and their forces were
evenly balanced. He stood still a few moments
watching Jansen out of sight, and then let his eyes
fall upon the home of Lady' Moody. The fairest
and dearest of women to him was under its roof,
and to think of her was to long irresistibly to be
with her. There was nothing this morning to
prevent his desire, and he went hastily to his
cabin, and after an examination of much hand
some clothing, he selected a new sailor suit of blue
cloth, with its flowing necktie, and the blue cap.
He felt that his kilt and phila-beg, his eagle tipped
Glengary, and his jewelled dirk would be too de
monstratively Scotch that it might become a vic
tor, but that the modest blue sailor suit was more
proper for a suitor. And at that moment he
could feel how his magnificent, outlandish dress
with the air of authority anc superiority which
he could not help assuming with it, might have
roused every sentiment of enmity and contempt in
the worldly practical Van Ruyven against him.

He admitted frankly to himself that in a ware
house crowded with barrels of whale oil, salted
fish, and meats, and all kinds of ship chandlery
it was out of place and character. " If the shop
had been full of muskets and powder, and powder


horns," he thought, " of fishing tackle, and trout
rods and lines, with a few stag antlers of twelve
points in short, if it had been like McBean's shop
in Inverness, my kilt would not have been an
offence. It would have said, I'm going to the
hills to get a deer, and a few trout, and no one
would have thought wrong of a kilt on the hills;
but when you stand in a place that recalls only
Iceland, and Greenland ice and snow, a kilt does
not seem natural for once, I was not properly

There was a moment's pause and then he al
most shouted : " No, by Heaven ! I was exactly
right. The great high place for a kilt and phila-
beg is the battlefield, and if the words said by Van
Ruyven in that oily room were not a challenge of
battle, there never was one. Yes, and if he had
not said one word, that laugh of his, as he shut
the door after me, was a challenge that will ring
in my soul, until I have him at my feet. Come
then, Gael, make your first move."

After he was dressed he walked slowly to Lady
Moody's house. Ladarine had opened the double
front door, and he could hear her moving about
the kitchen. He went into the living room and
sat down. Presently Ladarine came in with the
damask and silver for the breakfast table in her
hands, and she cried out:

" Lord Mclvar ! Well, I never ! No, I never
did. When did you come ? "


" Five minutes ago. Tell Miss Van Ruyven."

" I'm just going to tell her. My word, she
will be astonished ! " and she ran to the foot of the
stairs, crying:

" Agratha, who do you think is here ? Come
down? Come down quick! You will be de
lighted, you will that ! "

"Who is it, Lada? Moeder?"

" Someone better than moeder. Come and

Perhaps Agratha divined the truth, or per
haps she had heard Gael's voice, at any rate after
an interval she came down dressed in a pretty
pink frock, with an underwaist of line Delhi mus
lin, so fine and white, that the blush on her lovely

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 12 of 20)