Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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throat and neck could be seen through it. Her
small feet were in bronze sandals, and her bright
hair lay in waves and curls around her exquisite
face and shoulders. There was a pink ribbon
through her hair, and a white rose at her waist,
and she was altogether sweet and fresh as an
apple blossom in the first hour of its birth. Gael
heard her footsteps on the stairs, and ran to
meet her, catching her in his arms as she reached
the hall floor.

" Oh my darling ! My blessed darling ! " he
cried ; " at last ! at last ! Let me see your lovely
face ! Hold it up, and let me see it, dearest ! "

Lada looked at him severely. " My Lord," she
said, " will you have breakfast with us ? "


" That is what I am expecting, Lada."

" And if you please, what would you like for a
relish? "

" Have you any Yorkshire ham of your own
curing? "

" As it happens, we have, my Lord. I will do
you a rasher, and a couple of eggs poached would
be suitable with it."

" Everything is suitable this morning, Lada.
I am in heaven, and Yorkshire ham, and poached
eggs, will be angel's food. It is the company
that makes the difference, is it not, sweetest
Agratha? "

It was a wonderful breakfast, and during it
Gael described his new boat, and the special suite
he had prepared for Agratha, if their marriage
took place at once : " Of which heavenly event
there is, I am sure, no doubt," he said.

" I fear my fader, Gael, will wish to have some

" Your father, Sweet, cannot resist your
mother and yourself. I must win your mother

" Moeder is so kind, she will not be hard to

" Let us now walk down to the ship, before the
day gets hot. Come, Lada, we must have your

" Then you must stop at home to have it. My
Lady and Madame Van Ruyven will be home for


dinner at one o'clock, and dinner must be readVj
for them."

" But, Lada," urged Mclvar, " it is only half-
past seven. It will not take us more than one
hour to walk to the ship, look through her, and
return here. Certainly you can spare us one

After much persuasion Lada agreed to put for
ward her house work, and be ready to go with
them to The Nautilus at nine o'clock. So the
lovers sat down on the vine-shaded piazza, and
Lada hurried away full of business, and not quite
sure that she was doing right to allow Agratha
to go anywhere with Lord Mclvar, even under
her scrutiny and protection.

It was a little after nine before Ladarine was
ready, and Agratha explained privately to Gael
that Lada never went anywhere though but to a
neighbour's house without putting on her black
stuff gown ; " and I am sure, Gael," she added,
" that peculiarity is in some way connected with
her money; for she will not trust anyone with
her savings, not even the Governor or Lady
Moody. She says they would be careless of a
poor servant's money."

" Perhaps they would but here she comes."

The walk was not one Ladarine wanted, in fact
the whole ship business was against her personal
wishes; it interfered with her household duties,
it compelled her to undress, and redress herself, it


left her kitchen fire in an uncertain state for the
beef she had to roast on her return, and she cared
nothing about the ship, and its wonderful arrange
ments and fine furnishings. However as soon as
she was on board, she gave way to all a woman's
curiosity, and was so interested in all she saw,
that she forgot how quickly time can go. For
she had found ready to entertain her a very pleas
ant Scotch woman, who acted as a kind of
stewardess or shipkeeper, and they had sat down
over a glass of toddy, and talked over the ad
vantages, comforts and blessings of the Old
Country, in comparison with the New.

In the mean time Agratha, having seen with de
light the nest of beauty and comfort Love had
prepared for her, was discussing with Gael the
probabilities of their early marriage, and it was
then he asked her the question which he felt must
decide his movements.

" Agratha, my Dear One, suppose your father
will not yield to your mother's and your own re
quest, will you marry me without his consent? "

" I have promised fader I would never marry
anyone without his consent. I could not break
my word."

" If you love me, you would forget that prom

" So impossible that would be ! If I break rny
word to my fader, how could you trust me? "

From this position, plead as he would, Agratha


could not be moved, and he felt angry with her.
" Do you know that you are unreasonable, and
unkind? " he asked.

" Well, then, I am not dishonourable," she an

And at that moment Memory pealed in his soul
Van Ruyven's scornful laugh, and he looked in
tently at Agratha, and thought : " She has her
father's stubborn will. I will take my own way."

Scarcely had he made this resolution, when
Ladarine entered with an urgent request for an
immediate return. " I have been talking when
I ought to have been watching the clock, and if it
please you, Lord Mclvar, you must give orders
for some hurry. Come, Agratha ! "

" In five minutes I will have the gangway put
right," he answered, and he ran up the compan
ion way, and as soon as he reached the deck,
shouted an order in Gaelic, which was answered
with wild assent, and rapid movements.

All the pleasure had gone out of Ladarine's
face, she looked cross and anxious, and as she
stood waiting, Someone whispered a word in her
soul that filled her with terror. She ran to the
deck, and saw that the ship had loosed her cable,
and was already turned to the ocean. Every sail
was set, and no gangway could bridge the dis
tance between sea and land. Mclvar stood by
the mainmast, issuing rapid orders, but it was not
a Mclvar she had ever before seen. Absolute au-


thority, power not to be disputed, clothed him like
a garment, and his words resonant, sibilant and
unknown to her, acted on the sailors like magic.

Yet she walked straight to him, and said : " You
scoundrel ! You are carrying off Agratha ! "

" Yes," he answered curtly.

" Oh my God, what shall I do ! "

Agratha had divined some trouble, and was
standing white and terrified at the foot of the
companion way.

"What is it, Lada?" she asked.

" He is carrying you away, Agratha ! He is
carrying you away ! "

Then Agratha made a desperate effort to reach
the deck, but motion failed her, and with a pierc
ing shriek she fell as if smitten by lightning.

Oh what words could tell the horror of that
long, sunny day upon the pitiless, lonely ocean;
and the deeper horror of the dark night, when
the wind and the tramp of feet and the hoarse calls
of men and the creaking cordage added their
strange terrors to the two bewildered, miserable
women. Agratha only came out of one fainting
fit to fall into another, and in the intervals of her
sanity called with such heart-breaking entreaties
for her father and mother, that both Ladarine and
the woman Mary were exhausted with pity and

For Agratha was well aware of the kind of
calamity that had befallen her. It meant for her


utter personal ruin. Her parents would natur
ally believe that she had left them deceitfully and
willingly. Everyone would say so. She would
bring her father and mother down to their graves
with shame. They would cast her off. In every
awful sense, she felt like a lost child, and a lost
child can suffer like a lost soul.

At the dawn of the next day she lay motion
less and speechless, her brain had become stupefied
by suffering inevitable and inconsolable. Even
Ladarine trembled at the greatness of the child's
calamity, and was inspired by it with a wonder
ing awe What could it mean?



IT was four in the afternoon, instead of one,
when Lady Moody and Madame Van Ruyven
touched Gravesend. It had been a disagreeable
day, the wind being against them, and Lady
Moody much annoyed by the Still wells' slow
methods of business. Madame also had her
private anxiety concerning Agratha and Mclvar,
and the unhappy state of mind in which she had
left her husband. Many times during that un
pleasant sail she assured herself that unless her
husband and daughter were with her, she would
not go from her home again.

They landed wearily and almost in silence, and
Madame wondered that Agratha was not at the
wharf to meet them. But there was no other
ship in sight so she concluded her fears regard
ing Mclvar were baseless.

" I think James Hubbard ought to have been
here to take charge of the corn, after all the
trouble I have had about it," said Lady Moody,
and to this complaint the two ladies began their
tiresome walk up the sandy road. When the


house came in sight, Lady Moody started. It
had such a lonely look. No smoke was coming
from the big chimneys, and there was no sign of
either Agratha or Ladarine flitting between the
door and the gate.

" Something is the matter ! " Lady Moody ex
claimed. " Let us make haste, Ragel."

" Is something wrong?" asked Madame,
catching at once the alarm in, her companion's

"I cannot tell. Can you walk quicker? "

But the fear in their hearts made their steps
slow and heavy. They felt like women walking
in a bad dream, for they were scarcely able to
move their feet. Fortunately the next moment
they met James Hubbard with his cart, going
for the seed corn.

" Are not Miss Van Ruyven and Ladarine with
you? " he asked anxiously.

" No, James. Why do you ask ? "

" The house is locked up and I made no doubt
that they had found a chance to follow you to
New Amsterdam about something or other."

" Is it locked now, James? Now? "

" Yes, I tried to get in a few minutes ago, but
no one is there."

Madame uttered a sharp cry, and in trying to
hurry forward fell. " You ladies had better get
into the cart," said Hubbard. " It will make a
few minutes difference."


But it made no difference in the result. The
doors were both locked, but Lady Moody knew
the hiding place for the heavy keys, and Hub-
bard quickly opened them. All was quiet, or-
derly and desolate. The table was laid for din*
iier, the meat and vegetables were ready to cook,
the dessert was made and standing in the dairy ta
cool. Hastily they went through every room>
looking for some written word or message to ex
plain the empty house. There was not a line
anywhere, and both women, aghast and terri
fied, sat down in despairing stupefaction.

Hubbard could help them to no solution of the
difficulty. " The men have been in the fields all
day," he said, " and the women mostly in the
house gardens. If there had been anything un
usual, someone would have seen and reported

" If any strange ship had come here, it would
certainly have been seen, James ? " asked Lady

" Well, my Lady, you know the Sound is full
of Baxter's pirate ships, and it is a point of
safety with us never to notice them when they
come to land for fresh water. Respectable craft
ring the big bell. If we do not hear the bell, we
do not see the ship."

" I know, James."

" Oh, Deborah, I must go home and tell my
husband! I feel as if I was dying! What has


come to my child? What am I to do? I am
dying, I think."

'* Now Ragel, do not faint. There is trouble
enough here. Keep your senses and get to your
husband without delay. He is the proper person
to seek his child. Perhaps you will find her at
home. Suppose that she has received an injury;
she would be sure to go at once to New Amster
dam for help."

" She would have left a little note, or at least
a message with a neighbour."

" Sit down, Ragel, and for God's sake do not
waste your soul strength in tears."

" Oh Deborah, it is easy for you to say that.
My little Agratha is dearer than life to me. Oh
God I Oh God in Heaven, what has come to my

" I will get you a cup of tea, while James un
loads the corn, then he will take you to the foot
of your own garden. You will be home by mid
night. But what can you do in the night? "

" Paul will consider things, and decide what
must be done."

" Yes, I see."

Then Hubbard went to unload the corn, but
he promised to be back by seven o'clock. " The
moon will be high by that hour," he said, " and
we shall make New Amsterdam before midnight,
if this wind lasts."

Left to themselves, both women gave way to


their grief. Ragel could not be still; she walked
ceaselessly up and down, wringing her hands and
frantically calling her child. Lady Moody wept
without outcry as she went hither and thither,
looking for the things she wanted. Her loss was
a grievous one. Ladarine was her right hand,
her hourly help and comforter. She had stood
by her in all the changes of her strange career,
and life looked bare and haggard to Lady Moody
without her friend Ladarine.

" It was no hurried calamity, Ragel," she said,
as they drank the tea they so much needed.
'* Ladarine expected to be back early enough to
cook dinner for one o'clock, for the potatoes are
pared and standing in cold water. Neither had
she been hurried in her preparations, all was as
carefully attended to as usual; and whenever, or
wherever they went, they took time to lock both
front doors, and put the keys in their hiding
place. Evidently they went leisurely and hap
pily. Who did they go with? Dare you say
your thought ? "

" Yes, Deborah," she answered, and there was
a little anger in her voice. " I think they went
with Lord Mclvar. He was in New Amsterdam
yesterday, Paul told me so, and made me promise
to bring Agratha home because he was at hand."

" Oh, indeed ! " replied Lady Moody. " Poor
Gael! he cannot do right whatever he does."


** It is not right to persuade a child to leave
her fader and moeder, and go, she knows not

'* Do try and understand, Ragel, that Agra
tha is no longer a child. If you could sleep an
hour before James Hubbard comes, it would
help you."

" Sleep, Deborah ! How can you suppose
sleep is possible to me? I shall sleep no more
until I hear something from Agratha. Oh Ag-
ratha! Agratha! Where are you?"

Yet worn out with physical exertion and men
tal suffering, she mercifully slept most of the
way to New Amsterdam, and was refreshed and
grateful for the gracious oblivion. Hubbard
awakened her when they were near the landing
at the foot of the Van Ruyven garden, and she
thanked him for letting her sleep, and asked him
to come into the house and stay the rest of the
night with them.

" No," he answered, " I will tie up the boat
here, and take a nap on her. I want to be back
at Gravesend by daylight. Lady Moody will
need help. I must do all I can for her. I wish
Sir Henry would not leave home."

There was no difficulty in Ragel getting into
the house. She saw a light in her bedroom, and
called her husband, and he immediately threw up
the window and answered her.


" But you have not brought Agratha," he said
in a voice full of fear and disappointment.

"No, Paul!"

"But why?"

" I know not no one knows. She is gone ! "

"Gone! Agratha gone! What mean you?
Speak, wife! What mean you?"

" When we reached Lady Moody's last night,
the house was cold and locked. Agratha and
Ladarine cannot be found and they have left
neither letter nor message."

Then Paul flung his arms upward, and cried
out like a man in an extremity of anguish and
despair. It was a long, awful hour, before Ragel
could get him sane enough to consider what
if anything could be done.

However, when the storm of his grief had sub
sided into low sobs and exclamations, his love
gave him a wonderful prescience. He divined
the whole truth so clearly, that he might have
seen it with his eyes ; the only particular in which
Love failed him, was his strong persuasion that
Agratha had gone willingly with her lover, and
that Ladarine had been well paid to accompany
them. In these two respects, because jealousy
was stronger than love, he did not see clearly.

" The fact of her absconding cannot be hid
den, Ragel," he said, " but that wretch Mclvar
can be punished. I give my life now to this pur
pose. I will find him. I will prosecute him un-


til he swings from a gallows. For, thank God,
kidnapping is hanging in England, Holland, and
New Netherland."

" Oh Paul ! Paul ! Is this the end of all our
love and hope? But I will stand to this Agra-
tha did not go willingly. She was beguiled on
to the ship, and kept there. She promised thee
never to marry any man without thy consent."

" A woman's promise ! What is it worth ? "

" Everything it meant and included. Yes, in
deed! What are you going to do? It is easy
railing, but something must be done."

" What is in your mind, Ragel ? "

" This. They were, I am sure, beguiled on to
Mclvar's ship, for they took no clothing of any
kind. They would likely call at Bermuda to
buy clothing; if not there, perhaps at Kingston.
They might even try Norfolk, or if they took
north, go straight to Boston. Can you not send
a ship to these places to make some inquiries ? "

" Why? Will inquiries bring back our child? *'

" Oh, Paul ! I want to know that the Dear One
is not in want or suffering. I want to know,
Paul. The Long Island waters are full of

" The Long Island pirates are after gold and
commodities. They don't bother about women.
They have no room for even one woman in their
narrow, swift boats."

" Why not hire one of those narrow, swift


boats and follow Mclvar? They will likely stay
a few days at Bermuda, and a swift cutter may
catch them."

" Suppose I did, what then? "

"If you sent her a letter "

"I would cut off my right hand, rather than
use it to write to Mclvar's mistress."

" Paul Van Ruyven, say that word again, or
any other word reflecting on my daughter's chas
tity, and I will leave thy house forever! I will
never speak to thee again, no, never, while I live!
Thou ought to cut thy tongue out, for uttering
such a slander against the purest, sweetest soul
that God ever made."

" If an angel from heaven put herself on Mc
lvar's boat with him, what would thou think of

" Many good things, instead of the one bad
thing. For shame of thy sinful heart! Thou
art worse than Mclvar, for I am sure he had not
one evil thought of Agratha. All he asked, was
to make her his wife."

" If she was pure as Christ's mother, who
would believe it, after sailing with Mclvar? "

" I would believe it. And if I was a man, I
would strike the lie off the lips of anyone who
said different."

" The world's verdict is what the world lives
by, Ragel. We must regard it. Yes, indeed ! "

" God's verdict is above it."


"I believe that Agratha went willingly with
Mclvar. She was sick in love with him."

" She did not go willingly. But mind
this, Paul, if she went at all, it was thy own

"My fault!"

" Yes, thy fault. If thou had not kept her
letters, she had not been sick, she had not gone
to Gravesend, this trouble had not come."

"I had a right "

" Thou had no right. Thou did Agratha a
great wrong thou put her love affair at the
beginning, in a false light. Thou hast never
been straight or honourable about Mclvar. How
could thou expect he would be honourable with
thee? Yet he would have been, had thou trusted

" All lovers are liars ! "

" Thou told him a straight lie yesterday, and
sent him away on a fool's errand. And that lie
wrought us this sorrow. Had thou told him the
truth, he would have come straight to Lady
Moody's, and he would have found me with Ag
ratha, and had no opportunity to kidnap her;
for that is what has happened. What good is
there in lies? They work to ill and sorrow, al

"Ragel! Ragel! cruel, cruel art thou! It is
flaying the broken heart, to say such things to


" What art thou going to do? I want some
word about my daughter."

" When the day comes, I will send a man to
Albany. We must find out if Mclvar went

" He found thee out. He never went to Al
bany; he went to Gravesend."

" Well then, he hired Chris Jansen. I can send
for Jansen in the morning and see what he

" Yes, that is good."

So the weary hours of this most miserable
night passed, and they pressed heavily upon Van
Ruyven. He could feel a certain want in all
Ragel's sympathy; for she did really think he
was in some measure to blame. And this bitter
drop, infused into the cup of his sorrow, could by
no means be removed; it penetrated everywhere,
even as a few drops of ink cloud a full glass of

Week after week passed, but brought no re
lief; no word from the lost child, no credible in
formation about Mclvar. Paul and Ragel
showed the pitiless suspense in every way. They
had grown old, and the once happy, prosperous
home was the abiding place of grief and anxiety.
Fortunately before this calamity came to them,
Paul had begun to make arrangements for a
lengthy stay in Europe, and these he now com
pleted. His two sons were put in charge of the


business, and the home was rented for a period
of three years.

" I shall never come back here, Paul," said
Ragel, as she walked through its rooms ere she
left them in the hands of strangers, " never come
back, Paul, unless Agratha comes with me."

" We have been very happy here, Ragel."

" Yes, Dear One," she answered, " thou
brought me here a bride. Thou hast been a good

" Alas ! I have feared lately thou did not think
so, Ragel."

" My heart is broken, Paul. Have pity on
me! Many things I say, that are only words.
My troubles make me cross. Thou art good,
and I love thee with all my heart ; yes, I do ! "
Then he stooped and kissed her, and hand in hand
they left their home, mercifully ignorant whether
they would see it again or not

They had taken rooms at Creiger's Inn until
the return of Stuyvesant, who was hourly ex
pected, for Paul was anxious to procure from
him authority to act in his place, if any uncer
tainty arose about Agratha's American prop
erty, of which Stuyvesant was guardian, when
her affairs came up for settlement. They had
waited wearily for him, and not only they; the
whole city was in a state of frantic expectation.
He was at length coming to his own, and his own
were joyfully ready to receive him. But he


came quietly up the river at night, and was in
the Fort before his arrival was known.

" There was a grand reception planned in thy
honour," said Madame Stuyvesant, " and thou
hast disappointed them, Peter."

" God knows I wish it could be otherwise,
Judith, I do indeed, but to speak it plain, the
expedition has been a great failure, and to blow
trumpets and ring bells over it, would be a ri
diculous thing."

" How was it a failure, Peter? "

" Oliver Cromwell decreed it so. He had con
ceived the same plan as myself, but Cromwell's
orders are immediately obeyed. It took a year
tor the Honourable Stupidities in the Amsterdam
Chamber to see the importance of my design; and
then having secured their permission, it was
eight months later, before I could persuade the
Wise Idiots of my Council Chamber to vote a
stiver for expenses. In the meantime, while we
were quarrelling about a few guilders, Cromwell's
ships were all over the West Indian seas, and he
had laid an embargo on all Dutch vessels. He
took eight in the Barbadoes harbours, and three
of the eight were under my command."

" How I hate that man, Peter."

" He is to be honoured and admired. He did
the thing I wanted to do. If I had to be disap
pointed and vanquished, it is some salve to my
mortification that I submitted to no less a soldier


than Oliver Cromwell. The man is irresistible
and unconquerable. He is ubiquitous; his orders
ring in every land, the flash of his sword illumines
every part of the habitable world. I hate fail
ure, Judith, as much as any man can do, but if
I had known Cromwell was working out my plan,
with the English navy to back him, I should have

But the success or failure of this expedition
made little difference to the happy New Amster
dam burghers. They had received their Stuy-
vesant back safe and sound, and it was a great
satisfaction to all waiting an audience, to hear
him striking the floor with his wooden leg, and

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 13 of 20)