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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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and thou forced us to stay, so thou did, and I
don't see how thou wilt be any less guilty two
years after this."

" I shall be just as guilty, but Agratha will
then be her own mistress, and she can marry whom
she chooses to marry, and neither her father nor
the law can interfere between them."

" And art thou fool enough to expect that
iifter all she has suffered through thee, she will
forgive the past, and love thee and marry thee ? "

" Yes, I expect that."

" Thou caps me that's all. And there's
nothing but a man would have the up-and-down
impudence to expect anything of that sort."

" I think she is much better in health."

" To be sure, she is getting a bit of strength,
nd to-day she has taken a deal of notice."

Of me?"

" Nay, not of thee. She didn't seem to know
there was anybody like thee around."

" She will have to take notice, and Ladarine,
I advise you to be preparing her to do so. You
may tell her, that at Marseilles, I shall bring a
clergyman on board who will marry us."

" Thou must be losing thy senses. I'll tell her
no such lies and rubbish. Tell her thyself."



268 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

" I do not expect she will listen to such a
thing yet. But if the proposal be repeated,
and repeated, she will finally take it in, and con
sider it. Then ten to one, consideration will end
in surrender."

" Lord Mclvar, you don't know what you are
talking about. There's as much hold-out in that
handful of a girl as there is in that old game
cock, Peter Stuyvesant."

" I like her for it, but she is going to give way
to me in the end."

" No, she won't."

" I say she will," and with these words he
walked away.

Ladarine looked quietly after him. " He isn't
such a very bad sort," she said with an inward
snicker, " and it is fair capping to listen to him.'*

She sat musing on this conversation until the
night was far advanced, and everything on ship
board had the loneliness and melancholy of
dreams. She disliked to awaken Agratha; if this
was done, she might leave her spiritual self in
whatever land she had been roaming while asleep.
Yet the chill of the midnight was coming, she
was weary of watching, and she was just going
to see if a few spoken words would arouse the
girl, when the still air was softly thrilled by one
word:

" Lada! "

She could have cried out with joy, for the one



CAPTIVES AT SEA 269

word was in Agratha's old confiding, sweet voice.
She had not heard it since that dreadful morn
ing in which they stepped on board The Nau
tilus. But surely Agratha called her, and her
voice had its natural happy ring, and pretty in
flections; it was, in fact, the voice of the little
maid whom she had nursed and scolded and loved,
for so many blessed years.

" God's precious ! " she whispered, " Lada is
here. What can Lada do?"

" Lada, I have seen my fader and my moeder.
I am so happy. They were not at all angry with
me, they kissed and blessed me, and as my moeder
went away, she said, * Weep no more, Dear
One. All is right.' And I am so happy, Lada.
I will be cheerful and good again, and I
am sure God will take us out of this dreadful
ship."

This midnight dream was the spell that began
to bring back the old Agratha. In the morning
she asked for a prettier dress, and ordered her
breakfast on deck. Afterwards she took up a
piece of sewing, and though it was but a few
stitches now and then, the apparent idleness
might well be excused by the charmful sail past
storied lands, in weather such as there may be in
Paradise. That same evening Lada spoke to her
of Mclvar's proposal to bring a clergyman to
the ship, and she looked at Lada in blank amaze
ment.



270 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

" I would rather die than marry Gael Mclvar.
You should have told him so, Lada."

" I did. Maybe he will die himself before he
marries thce, or anybody else. He is thin and
old looking, and is breaking his heart. I was a
bit sorry for him Men feel these things a deal
more than women do."

"They do not, Lada."

" I'll not fratch with thee about the man. He
is neither here nor there, only he has us in his
power."

"Is he very ill?"

" I should think he is. If thou would cast a
look his way, it might help him a bit."

" I will not look at him. I could not bear to."

" Just as thou likes."

" Lada, he has been talking to you."

" Aye, for sure, he has."

"When?"

" About the same hour thou thought thy fader
and moeder was talking to thee."

" They were talking to me. I did not think it."

" Thou dreamed it. Dear knows what dream
ing is ! I don't."

"What did Gael say to you?"

Then Ladarine repeated as much of the con
versation as she thought wise, and Agratha
flushed and patted the deck angrily with her
foot.

" So he thinks I will give in, at last."



CAPTIVES AT SEA 271

" Aye, he does. So do I."

" You are both wrong. I shall never marry
Gael Mclvar. Never ! "

" Dost thou love him yet ? "

" Loving is believing. I do not believe in
Gael any longer."

" Love has a way of coming back. When the
spring and the daffodils go away, we know they,
will come back, for they are realities That is
Love's way. If he goes, he is sure to come back
again. I wouldn't wonder to see thee loving Gael
better than ever."

" I can love him no more. No more ! And,
oh, Love was so sweet, Lada, only it gives so lit
tle pleasure, and so much sorrow. A few days
Gael and I were happy, but I had two years and
more of heartache and sorrow, while I thought
he had forgotten me."

" That was thy father's fault, and the misery
we are both suffering now is also thy father's
fault."

" Fader intended to be kind. He thought he
was right."

" I don't hold with his ideas of what is right
and kind but never heed. It is a bit of com
fort to know he has found a young man that can
best him. Maybe he won't pontify and order
around so much hereafter."

" My fader made a mistake, Ladarine, his
intentions were good.



" For sure. I have heard tell that hell is paved
Jwith good intentions."

" I love my fader and my moeder, Lada, and
you must not say wrong words of them."

" I'll say nothing worse of thy fader, than that
he is an obstinate man; there's no coming and
going in him. And what I have thought, I have
kept grandly to myself, though I'll wager my
last shilling, New Amsterdam is ringing with the
very same opinions I hold by."

" I don't care. Let it ring."

" It might as w r ell. Thy father has done his
ido, and I'll be bound he is satisfied ! " and she
rubbed the end of her nose with an air of scorn.
" God-a-mercy, child ! " she added, as she saw the
tears gathering in Agratha's eyes, " don't thee
begin crying again."

" I am so unhappy, Lada ; nobody loves me."

" Isn't it a bit ungrateful of thee to talk such
rubbish? If that foolish young man Gael Mc-
Ivar had not loved thee beyond all sense and rea
son, he would have left thee in some strange place
long ago, to finish thy Book of Lamentations.
He wouldn't have seen thee turn his ship into a
hospital for weeks, and months, I may say."

" Do not scold me, Lada."

" I'm far from what I call scolding. I am just
telling thee that thy duty now is to make the
best of things as they are. I must say I would
like a few days rest mysen. Waiting on sick



CAPTIVES AT SEA 273

folk night and day, week in and week out, is not
an agreeable life. So far, I have made no words
about it, but I'm fagged out, and thou must help
me to keep mysen together If I should be so ill-
guided as to get a sickness, whatever would
thou do?"

" I would do for you, all that you did for me,
that is sure."

"Thou could not."

" But God would help me."

" Mebbe He would, and mebbe He wouldn't.
His way, and His plan might not be the same as
thine. Them above know their own business, and
we can't either meddle, or make in it. Happen
it is a bit presuming to think we can."

Until August they lazily drifted eastward, here
and there as wind and fancy led them some
times sailing so close to the land that they rip
pled the shadows cast from the shore, and
sometimes running into little known harbours
to avoid a squall. But calm as the life was, all
were weary of it, and the constant sunshine pro
duced a speechless inertia and laziness. Even
Ladarine sat with empty hands, and a strange
expression of pathos on her strong face.

During these oppressive weeks, Agratha had
been compelled at various times to take Gael into
her thoughts. She preserved her apparent ig
norance of his presence, but in reality the man's
temperament fascinated her. This influence be-



274 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

gan one night, when they were lying off Malta,
and a white squall broke over them with its cus
tomary unexpectedness.

In a loud, commanding voice he ordered the
two women to their cabins, and almost immedi
ately the hellish uproar began. The wind
screamed, the waves bellowed, and The Nautilus
was tossed like a cork on their crest. Meanwhile
Agratha could heard Gael's clear, resonant voice
commanding his men in Gaelic:

"Stand by to reef! Get out the storm jib!
Quick!"

Ladarine was on her knees, there was no one
to interfere, and she managed to reach the top
of the companion way, and look towards the
wheel. There stood Gael. His head was uncov
ered, his face set seaward, and as she gazed at
him a big sea, with a race and a roar like a thou
sand guns went over them. The Nautilus leaped
her length and rip rip rip ! sailors know the
sound. But in a few moments she came gallantly
to her bearings, and shaking herself, sped like a
gull away into the storm. Gael still had his
grip on the wheel, though the spindrift lashed
him like whips, and The Nautilus spun on her
heels like a top.

Where now was the Chief in full kilt and
feather, and where was the Lord in velvet and
satin leading the dance? She had forgotten
them both, but this man facing the storm, and



CAPTIVES AT SEA 275

making his ship obey his touch, could never be
put out of memory. His clothing was ripped to
rags by the wind, his hair soaked, his face sore
and red with the salt water, but this was a Gael
Mclvar she had never known, but one she could
not help admiring. The storm went down as
rapidly as it rose, but it left the ship and every
one in it worn out with their experience. Ag-
ratha and Ladarine, sitting in the main saloon,
saw two of Gael's poor brothers come down
the companion way with their Chief and Cap
tain. He was white as a dead man, his steps tot
tered, his eyes appeared to be closed, his arms
hung down powerless, his clothing was in tatters,
and he looked as if he would fall with every step
he dragged himself. But he reached his cabin
without an accident, and Ladarine ejaculated:
" Thank God ! Thank God Almighty ! "
" What for, Ladarine? I think Gael is dying."
" Mary told me that when her husband relieved
him at the wheel, he fainted. But he isn't dying,
not he! He is just fagged out. In another five
minutes he would have had to let the ship take
her own way, which was to the shore and utter
destruction. Thank God! he kept the helm long
enough to save us. A few hours' sleep will put
all right."

No one saw Gael until noon of the following
day ; then he came on deck fresh and smiling, and
full of interest about the damage done to The



276 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

Nautilus. There was still some litter of wreck
age around, and a glance showed him that Ag
ratha was not on deck. About one o'clock Mc-
Ivar's dinner was brought into the main saloon,
where Agratha and Ladarine were sitting, and
they rose to go to Agratha's parlour for their
own meal. At the same moment Mclvar entered,
and Ladarine instantly went to meet him.

" My Lord," she said, " we two poor women,
whose lives God's mercy and your courage saved
from death, wish to thank you. You did grandly,
you did that ! You are one man made after God's
own image, and Ladarine Gilpin has a grateful
heart." Then she turned and looked at Agratha.

Gael held Ladarine's hand, but he kept his
eyes on Agratha, and, oh, how his heart throbbed,
when she rose and came to him. She stood trem
bling at his side, and tried to speak but could
not; and he saw her strait, and stooping to her
face whispered:

" Agratha ! My dear, dear Agratha ! "

" Oh Gael ! Gael ! " she sobbed, and the next-
moment he was holding her hands, and kissing on
them the passionate pleading words of his long-
suppressed desire. Then Agratha's dinner was
laid on Mclvar's table, and Ladarine sent all
helpers away.

" I'll wait on my own lady," she said, " and
I'll warrant the Mclvar can help himsen to any
thing he wants."



CAPTIVES AT SEA 277

But she did not leave the young people a mo
ment alone. She thought it was only just and
grateful for Agratha to thank their captain for
his life and death struggle, but she had no idea
of inaugurating a fresh courtship. However, she
soon found that Agratha was still less inclined
to renew the past, and then her contradictious
nature began to upbraid the little girl for her
dour, unforgiving temper.

"You are just like your stubborn father," she
said. " Couldn't you have said a few kind words
to the poor lad, who nearly died to save you ? "

" Not true is that, Ladarine. As much for
you, and for everyone on board, he would have
died as for me. I thanked him. My dinner I
eat in his company. Far enough I went too far
when I remember how shamefully he has treated
me."

" Them Above has a word or two of directions
when things are guided that kind of a way. We
are told to pray for all that despitefully use us."

" Yesterday when Gael was fighting for our
lives, I prayed for him, to-day I eat with him.
It is enough. No further will I go."

" Jesus Christ said "

" I know, but he was talking to men. Lady
Moody said He could not know much about
women, and how could He understand what a
little girl like Agratha Van Ruyven would feel,
when she was suddenly deprived of fader and



278 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

moeder and home, her honour put in doubt, and
all the hopes of her young life crushed by an
angry, proud, selfish man who then threw the
blame of his wickedness on his love for her. No,
Ladarine! I will not be friends with Gael Mc-
Ivar. Next thing he will want to make love to
me, next thing he will tell me I must marry him."

" I want thee to ask a favour from him for both
of us. Wilt thou do it or not ? "

I will not."

" Thou beats all for a stubborn, unforgiveable
lass. I wouldn't be like thee for anything."

" What favour do you want, Ladarine? "

" I want some grey dappled skies, and fresh
cool winds. I'm sick to death of sunshine, and
hot, scented air to breathe, and I would enjoy,
now and then, a splashing shower of white rain."

" Oh Ladarine ! I want all you want in that
way. I would give all the Grecian Isles for a
good breeze in the Fort, and a firm sheet of ice
on the Collect Pond. But I will not ask any
favour from Gael. No, indeed ! "

" Then I will."

" Ask nothing in my name."

" Not I. My own name is as good as any
other."

Ladarine found the captain of The Nautilus
in a mood to welcome her suggestion. " I am
sick myself for a breath of the Great Minch," he
said j oy fully , " and upon my word, I will turn



CAPTIVES AT SEA 279

the ship's nose homeward, as soon as you like,
Miss Gilpin."

"Homeward! To New Netherland! Is that
what you mean, captain? "

" Homeward to Ross to the great waterways
of the Hebrides; Castle Ivar stands a thousand
feet above their tossing waves. And let me tell
you, Ladarine, it has by this time been thor
oughly prepared for your entertainment. For
before I left on this unfortunate voyage, I gave
directions for six of the best rooms to be refur
nished for my expected bride. The rooms
are no doubt ready, but the bride is yet to woo,
and I do not think you help me any, Ladarine."

" Thou may be thankful that I don't hinder
thee any."

" You might say so much in my favour."

" I might if I had got rid of my conscience.
And what will Lady Mclvar say to the guests
thou brings her? "

" In faith, if she says anything but what is
kind and wise, it will be for the first time in her
life. She will make you both welcome for my
sake, and likely find some way out of this cruel
dilemma."

" Don't thee forget that it is my young lady
that has the cruel part, it isn't thee at all. But
castle or cottage will be a God's blessing after
this sea prison."

" Well then, we are going to my mother ! "



280 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

And he leaped to his feet, and ejaculated again i
" We are going to my mother ! Why did I not
go to her at once ? What a fool I have been ! "

" How soon then wilt thou be wise enough to
go to thy mother? "

"Let me tell you, I am just in the humour to
give the order now. Listen! and in a few
minutes you will hear that I have begun to act
wisely."

He ran swiftly to the deck, and Ladarine sat
still listening, and before she had time to raise a
doubt of his sincerity, she heard his voice ringing
out the promised order. The words were in
Gaelic, but she knew it was ** Home! " for he had
not ceased speaking before he was answered in
wild, joyful cheers of " Ivar ! Ivar! Ivar! " Then
came a tumult of hurrying feet, of shifting ropes
and canvas, while the boatswain's whistle thrilled
through the shouts and calls of the men, and
some new sense of joy swept all through the ship.

Agratha felt the change, and was conscious of
some unusual event. Her constant terror of the
Algerine pirates made her tremble, and not find
ing Ladarine in any of their cabins, she went to
the deck to look for her. The movements there
astonished her. Everyone appeared to be in a
happy hurry, and the inert, lazy looking crew
of a quarter of an hour ago, were full of some
delightful business. Gael stood at the main
mast, shouting out his sibilant Gaelic instruc-



CAPTIVES AT SEA 281

tions. Ladarine stood at his side, and when he
turned his face to her, it was the face of a boy
whose heart was overflowing with pleasure.
Ladarine was watching a sailor climbing to the
mast head, and she did not take her eyes from
him until she saw The Blue Peter fly from his
hand over the ship, already turning homeward.
Then Gael flung up his cap with a shout, and
very man on the homeward bound craft joined
in the joyful salute.

Then Agratha went quietly back again to her
own little parlour " We are going home," she
thought, " but to whose home ? Oh, I do wish
Ladarine would come to me."

But Ladarine did not come for nearly an hour.
She was talking with Gael about the home he was
taking them to, and trying to extract from his
description as much comfort as possible for the
wandering girl longing despairingly for her own
home. But she delayed so long that Agratha
felt hurt by her apparent neglect, and, though
the feeling was absurd, a little jealous also of a
conversation so evidently interesting, and yet
which did not include herself. So when Ladarine
did appear she evinced no curiosity. There was
a new light on the woman's face, and a new tone in
her voice, but Agratha would not notice the
change.

Her air of calm dejection rather dashed the
eager woman, but she said in her strong, cheerful



282 A MAID OF, OLD NEW YORK

way : " Try and cheer up a bit, Miss. We are
going to the captain's home the ship has turned
she is on her way North, and every length she
sails takes us nearer to cool weather, and dappled
grey skies. We'll find our feet on solid ground
soon, and we'll have large, handsome rooms to
live and sleep in, and some decent people to talk
a bit with. I'm sure I am fairly forgetting how
to talk, if it isn't on the one stale, weary sub
ject."

"Who told you this news, Lada? "

" The captain himself, and no other."

" You asked him to do so ? "

"I did, and I'm glad of it."

" It is not to be thrown up to me, Lada. I
warned you not to use my name."

" If there's any blame I'll shoulder it. My
word! but thy conscience is easy satisfied. I
had a notion that thou wanted to get away from
this eternal sunshine as much as I did. I thought
thou spoke that kind of a way; happen I was
mistaken."

" So we are going to Castle Ivar? Gael has
told me all about it. So! It has to be."

" Not so. Say the word and he will turn back
again."

" For me, I will have nothing to say in the
matter."

" The captain is delighted."

" There it is, but it is no good for me."



CAPTIVES AT SEA 283

" Castle Ivar must be a fine place."

" It is one of those old, old, haunted castles,
that ought to be pulled down to its foundation.
That is what I think."

" I can tell thee the family think nothing of
that kind. Why! The captain says, half a
dozen large rooms have just been made fit for
men and women of this date to live in. And he
told me a deal about his mother. She must be
a wonderful woman. You would think, from that
young lad's way of talking about her, that she
was born before that silly body Eve meddled with
things she had nothing to do with. The tears
came to his eyes whenever he said the word
' mother.' Poor lad ! "

" I don't want Captain Mclvar's moeder. I
want my own dear moeder. Oh moeder! moeder!
And look now, he can make me suffer month after
month, and never feel sorry that I want my
moeder. Well, you know, Lada, that is so."

" I know nothing of the sort. He has fretted
about thee constant. I don't say that thou de
serves it."

" Oh dear me, Lada ! Are you going against
me?"

" Don't thee talk nonsense. Thou knows well
enough that I'll stand by thee, right or wrong,
but I do think when everybody i: c'jJng their best
to please thee, thou might show a bit of interest
in what they are doing."



284 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

" What did Gael tell you, Lada? "

" Nay, I'll say nothing about it. He will be
only too glad to tell thee all, and more, than he
told me. Ask him."

'* I will not ask him for anything."

" That is a bit of common pride. I would be
above it, if I was thee. Chut! It would be far
more lady-like to take pleasantly all the man can
now do, than be nagging and nattering from
morning till night, about what it is out of the
man's power to do. But there! It takes noble
blood to bear nobly. Traders don't bear nobly.
Maybe they can't."

" Traders bear as well as nobles. Don't
be foolish, Lada. We are all equal in God's
sight."

" Get such silly notions out of thy head as
quick as thou can. Equals! We are far from
it in our own sight, and God sees a lot more of
us, than we see of each other. If thou had been
born a princess, thou would have found out a
good bit ago, that Gael's sin was partly his coun
try's sin, and partly his father's sin, and that thy
own father was a good bit to blame keeping a
man's letters and gifts was a low vulgar thing to
do and scoffing and laughing at a young man's
honourable advances a particularly ungentlemanly
bit of behaviour. And maybe, also, thou might
have found out, that others were suffering as well
as Agratha Van Ruyven. It hasn't been a pleas
ure-making to mysen, nor to Mary, who has five



CAPTIVES AT SEA 285

little bairns at Ivar. And as for the young Lord
himsen, I think he has suffered quite as much as
thee; yet he has managed to put everybody's
sufferings before his own, and kept a cheerful
face, and had a cheerful word whatever happened.
He has borne his trouble nobly."

" Because he was a noble. Is that what you
mean? "

" To be sure it is."

" Well then, you are noble, for you have borne
your trouble nobly."

" Thou art all wrong there ! I have done my
share of grumbling, both to thee, and to others.
I have been ashamed of mysen every night.
Equality! " she cried scornfully, " there isn't such
a thing, either in nature or in human nature.
Chut! What the milk is, the cheese will be.
Where's your Equality? "

This conversation, though it did not please
Agratha, did her good. She began to wonder if
she had been selfish in her sorrow, and regardless
of the suffering of others, and the answer, she was
obliged to admit, was not a flattering one. But
she was cautious by nature, and did little upon
impulse, so they were nearing Gibraltar before she
had fully made up her mind to modify her conduct
towards Gael. One evening, just after sunset, she
went to the deck and she saw Gael standing by the
taffrail ; his face and attitude were melancholy
and aloof, and his gaze appeared to be on, or
even beyond, the horizon.



286 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

She went gently towards him, and he was in
stantly conscious of her presence. But that she
should come to his side, and say in softest kindest
tones " Gael " was a thing far beyond his wildest
xpectation. Yet it was actually the case, and


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