Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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thing, marries that Dutchman Roedeke, and goes
with him to New Amsterdam. Roedeke is said to
be rich, but Elsie and I saw none of his money."

" Well and good. You were above the dirt
iness of wanting his money, I am sure."

" Indeed we were not. We were almost at the
bottom of our purse, so we went back to London.
I tried all my friends there, and Elsie did her best
to charm, but those pock-pudding English have
no senses to charm. Instead of being won by
my wife's rare beauty, they insisted on asking me
unpleasant questions."

"What about?"

" About the condition of white bondmen in the
colonies. They were quite ready to send money
to help them to freedom, but they never thought
of my unfortunate condition."

" Your unfortunate condition, Angus ! you
make me astonished."

" Can there be any condition more unfortunate
than that of a noble without the means to live up
to the requirements of his rank? I was disgusted
with the English, but while in London I came
across something of great importance to you;


so much so, that I immediately made haste north

"That something must be very important to
warrant such haste. Pray let me hear it with
out delay? "

" I found it all in the coffee houses, at the Ex
change, at Paul's Cross, at every public place."

** Upon my word, Angus, you tax my patience.
What did you find? "

" This " and with a doleful face he offered
Gael a single sheet of printed paper. It seemed
to be of meagre importance, but as Gael read it,
his face blanched, and he bit his under lip with
fierce but well controlled passion.

"It was the common talk of the city," con
tinued Angus, " one could not go into a room in
London, without hearing the matter discussed.
And it was the same thing all the way northward.
Somehow people had found out that I knew you,
and I was invited here and there, just to be asked
questions. I protest I was flustered and flurried
for hundreds of miles about you, and your af

"Gad! it is really complimentary. Think of
people for hundreds of miles taking so much in
terest in my affairs."

** Not much of a compliment, Gael. Naturally
everyone takes an interest in a love affair, but
I must say in this case, the interest was all in
the lady."


" I am glad of that. You have just shown me
how mortified you felt when people took no in
terest in your pretty Elsie."

"Upon my honour, Gael, you take the affair
coolly! Yet it is an intolerable situation, and
that you may discover any hour."

" So soon ? It is a far cry to Mclvar. The
sea way, my men can make impossible, and unless
there is some traitor willing to guide men through
Ivar forest, and over Ivar mountains, they are
likely to remain in one place or the other forever.
I shall not disturb myself."

" You cannot live shut up in Ivar all your

" I do not intend to cut so ridiculous a figure.
When I am ready to interview the Lord Chancel
lor, and the other gentlemen who wish to see
me, I shall go voluntarily to their society.
In the meantime, my mother and my seven hun
dred good brothers, will keep me from feeling

" And perhaps someone else? "

" Faith yes, if it please you to say so."

" I do not say so, but everyone else does and
there may be such a thing as a traitor among your
good brothers."

" By Heaven, No ! There is not gold in Scot
land to buy a Mclvar to betray his chief, and
if there was, what good would his gold do him?
He would be tracked by seven hundred sleuth


hounds, and when caught, bound naked to a tree
in Ivar forest, and every man would fling his dirk
at him. Lord! I would throw mine first,
straight into his black, false heart."

" Do not put yourself in a passion, for an
imaginary wrong, Gael; I thought I was doing
kindly to warn you, but it is always bad to meddle
with other people's affairs."

" It was well enough in your own case, Angus.
If someone had not meddled you would have been
in New Amsterdam to-day."

" I know that, Gael, and I am not ungrateful.
When I was in London, I called on Lord Thurlow
and thanked him for using his great influence, and
he treated me rudely, and told me to go home,
and said things about breaking parole that were
to me intolerable."

" He was right, for you were breaking your

" Now I must go, Gael. One cannot ride fast
yet, the bogs are so uncertain."

" Then you had better stay until morning."

" Elsie would die of fright in that lonely ruin
we call home. She wants to go back to Paris."

" That is impossible unless you again break
your parole to the Protector."

"Who is the Protector? Angus McAlpine is
King Charles's man ; " and he sang defiantly, the
cavalier song then in vogue:


" ' King Charles ! and who'll 'do him right now?
King Charles! whose ripe for fight now?

Give a rouse in hell's despite now

King Charles ! ' "

" Angus, you ought to have told the gentlemen
who were securities for your loyalty, that you
were King Charles's man."

" We are not agreeing this afternoon, Gael. I
will go ; to-morrow, ride over and see me."

So Angus left for his five mile ride, and Gael
called in his mother and showed her the paper in
his hand. She read it without any sign of fear
or anger, but said earnestly:

" Go at once for Agratha, and after tea we
will call in Ladarine, and talk the matter over.
Make sure of Agratha, your life hangs on her
word, Gael."

There was no pretence of secrecy about this
consultation. In the morning Gael would call
his clan together, and be as frank with them as
with his closer and more intimate relations. Yet
the condition was grave enough, for the shabby
bit of paper contained the following official no

One Thousand Pounds Reward
Hue and cry of all good citizens to secure
the person of Gael Lord Mclvar, who has
kidnapped the daughter of Mr. Paul Van


Ruyven of New Amsterdam in North Amer
ica. Said Lord Mclvar is twenty-two years
of age, tall, dark and handsome, with gallant
air and courtly manners. The lady is nine
teen years old, is exceeding beautiful, and
immensely rich. Any information leading
to Lord Mclvar's arrest, will be rewarded
by one thousand pounds paid by order of the
Lord Chancellor, who is the young lady's
guardian. Signed by

Reginald Brudenal. Lord Chancellor.


George Pembroke. Chief of Police.

The talk after tea was not very satisfactory.
Gael had made as light of the position as pos
sible to Agratha, but she had been greatly
shocked. " She would say little," he complained
to his mother. " She appeared to withdraw her
self, and to be quite stunned by the conditions
she would likely have to face."

In a large measure Gael was right. Agratha
was shocked at the danger her lover had incurred,
and she foresaw that she would be placed between
her father and her lover; and that to stand by
her father was to betray her lover to a shameful
death, while to stand by her lover would be a
heart break to her parents. It was a dilemma
out of which she could see no endurable way.
Nor was she indifferent to the report of her own


wealth. She had always longed for wealth,
dreamed of wealth, passed many hours of her life
in the imaginary spending of it. It quickened
her pulse to know that these longings and dreams
might soon be facts ; but she was annoyed that the
news should have come to her with so much shame
and sorrow. So when Ladarine was called into
council, she let her talk and said little herself, for
indeed she was not sure of her wishes, all her mind
seemed suddenly to be unsettled, but Ladarine
met the situation with her usual simplicity.

" We shall be under oath, every one of us," she
said, " and we must all tell the truth, or call God
Almighty to witness we are lying. I wonder,"
she continued, " whether you know that the Lon
don officers are in the kitchen; at least, I sus
pect it is either them, or some blackguards of the
same sort. They came to the kitchen door just
at dark, and asked for a bite and a drink, and
shelter until morning."

" What makes you think they were officers of
the law, Ladarine ? " asked Gael.

" I found out, as nearly as they would let me,
that they had got safely across the bogs by fol
lowing the marks of McAlpine's horse's hoofs."

" Ah! " cried Gael, " but that is not possible! "

" You'll be as well to remember, he has just
come from London, sir."

" And what by that, Ladarine ? " asked Lady


" Only this I think McAlpine has betrayed
the one he ought to have shielded with his

Then Gael leaped to his feet. " It is not pos
sible ! " he cried. " It cannot be possible ! "

" It is most like to be," answered Ladarine.
" I saw enough of him to know that treachery
was bred in the bone of him, as it is in the bone
of the hawk or the wild cat. And what is there
Jie would not do for one thousand pounds? I
wouldn't wonder if these three men came from
London in his company, and it is like he engaged
to show your whereabouts, and did so by telling
them to follow the print of his horse's hoofs in
the soft ground. They must have done so ver^
closely, or they had never got here."

" But he was here alone, a little while ago."

" Ay, to be sure, they would be waiting on the
edge of the pine belt, until the darkening let them
come unseen to the back door."

" In a few minutes I will know who led them
over Ivar Moss ! I will "

" Stop, Gael ! " cried Lady Mclvar. " Never
go to meet misfortune. Let the men alone until
they come to you."

" Sit down, dear Gael," pleaded Agratha, and
when she laid her hand on his shoulder he sat

There was then a little more talk about Mc
Alpine, and Agratha sided positively with Lad-


arine in her estimate of the man's character.
" So ungrateful he was to his own sister," she
cried. " Poor Rose ! He deceived, and robbed
and left her. Why should he be true to Gael,
when to Rose he was so false and cruel? "

Then Gael rose. " I must go to my room," he
said. " This suspicion of Angus has turned my;
heart cold. I want to be alone with it."

Very early in the morning, three blasts from
a trumpet summoned the whole clan. They came
tumbling down from the mountains, and scram
bling up from the fishing clachan on the sea shore ;
they came from the shops and the looms and the
ploughs, from the the dyeing shed, and the stables
and kennels hastily they came, talking and whist
ling, and wondering what the Mclvar had to say
to them.

As soon as they had filled the courtyard Gael
appeared. He was in full Highland dress, and
as soon as he showed himself on the highest step
of the high flight which led to the main entrance,
he lifted his crested Glengary in greeting to them.
They answered him with eager, happy cries of

"Ivar! Ivar! Ivar!"

snapping their fingers wildly to the not unmusical
cheering. Then he resumed his cap, and there
was a few moments of silence, ere Gael, holding
the " Hue and Cry " uplifted in his hand, read it
aloud to them. He translated it into Gaelic as
he went on, and the version lost nothing by the


translation. Before the reading was finished,
there was an indescribable tumult of sympathy,
potently mingled with the striking of dirks, and
that low, passionate ejaculation with which High-
landmen urge themselves on to fight " Sa! Sa!
Sa! Sa! " every syllable rising in tone and pas
sionate inflection.

Gael stilled the uproar with a movement of his
hand, and then proceeded to explain his position
to them in their own tongue. In its sibilant ex
pressive S S S ing sounds, he poured scorn
and ridicule upon the law which would hang a
Highland gentleman for " lifting " the lady of
his choice; and he was uproariously supported.
He gave them the word of Mclvar that he had
neither known, nor cared, whether the lady had
a shilling or not. He loved her, and he believed
she loved him, and was not Love the bond of mar
riage between Highlandmen and their wives? and
when he made this appeal a low, tender cry of as
sent answered it.

At this moment Agratha with Lady Mclvar
stepped from the enclosure of the open door to
his side, and he asked, " Is she not worthy of
Love? Is she not worthy to be the mother of
Ivars? Speak for me, men of Ivar." And with
a great shout they answered:

"The Lady Agratha! The Lady Agratha!
She is worthy ! "

When he spoke again, his tone changed, his


face grew dark, his eyes flashed, and he held his
dirk, as he continued:

" My Brothers, there has been a traitor in
this business. If there had not been, I could have
dwelt among you until the lady was her own mis
tress and free to marry me in the face of the
world. As you know, there are two months in
the year, that men with a good guide might pos
sibly reach Ivar Castle, through Ivar forest, or
or over Ivar mountains well I should always have
been with Conal on the highest Bens, shooting
ptarmigan during those months. For the rest of
the year, Ivar castle was safety enough. But
my brothers, there has been a traitor in this busi
ness. If there had not, how could three men,
three Saxon clods, have found their way into
Ivar Castle in the early spring, while the upper
snows are yet melting. Yet there the men sit,
eating our food, and waiting to take me me!
Gael! Chief of Clan Ivar! to some black English
prison house, because I have dared to love a girl
who is a ward of the Lord High Chancellor of
England, and who I am told to-day has a great
deal of money. I never thought of the Lord High
Chancellor, and I did not know that the girl had
any money, and I did not care whether she had or
not. Why should a Mclvar want to marry
money? The fens and the lochs, the pastures,
and the great sea are our heritage. We seek our
food from God. We could live comfortably, if

we never saw a shilling. Is there a man stand
ing here who would marry a girl because she had
some money in her hand? Look at our sons and
daughters ! Do they lack anything of being per
fect men and women? Nothing. For they are
the children of Love, and not the children of

Wild, joyful cries of assent answered this
statement, and then a very old man in front of
the assemblage asked:

" My chief and my brother, name the traitor.
Never shall he betray any other."

" The man has eat at my table, and drank
from my cup. He has had twelve hundred pounds
of my gold, and he would give me the gallows in
payment. He was a bondman, and I set him free,
he would marry, and I loaned him five hundred
pounds. Alas! Alas! You all know the man
my playmate, my schoolmate, my friend " and
Gael was silent, overcome by the intensity of his
feeling and passion.

" We know him ! He is a son of the Devil ! He
shall go deep down to hell, head foremost ! "

It was Alastar, the mighty hunter, who spoke
these words, and as he did so he lifted up his gun
and swore the oath over it. Then out sprang
dirks and knives from every belt, and the tumult
of angry voices was indescribable.

Suddenly three men stepped forward, and two
of them would have laid their hands on Gael's


shoulders, had he not shouted in a voice of power
and passion:

" Hands off! Touch me, and my men will tear
you to pieces. Have you no senses? Look at

" In the name of the law "

" In the name of the Devil, touch me not ! And
speak not to me ! " and his passion was so terrible
that Lady Mclvar and Agratha covered their
faces and feared to look at him. Meanwhile the
clan in a black silence had edged closer to their
chief, and some were standing on the steps around
him. Then Gael, through some miracle of latent
power more than recovered himself. He stood
there like some bright young incarnation of Power
and Strength, and in a voice that was vibrant
from the proud, resolute heart that informed it,

" Saxon hounds of the Saxon law, listen to me !
I will not go with you. You shall remain here,
until I permit you to return to those who sent
you. How long you may stay I know not, per
chance the rest of your lives. You will have bed
and board, while you behave peaceably, and you
are free to wander where you will, even to Mc-
Alpine, if you believe you will ever reach his home.
Beware of the moss and the peat bogs. Beware
of the slippery hill sides, tjiat may dash you a
thousand feet below them. Remember it is easy
to lose yourselves on the mountains, and to go


for a walk on the open moor and never come back.
The wild bulls are savage in the pastures, and the
stags on the mountains will not suffer you. Our
dogs love not strangers, and the snakes are no
respecter of persons. You could not live on the
North Minch twelve hours, if you have not a good
ship and a captain that knows all its ugly moods,
so you need not look seaward. But you may
make the best of the situation, for here you will
remain, until I return. Now you may go. Come
not into my sight again."

Then turning to his clan, he stretched out his
hands and lifted his cap in a mute dismissal.
And they watched him with proud affection as he
stood a moment with Lady Mclvar and Agratha
in the open doorway. They knew no one to com
pare with him, and they went to their homes to
talk over this great affair, and to love, pity, ad
mire, and praise him to their hearts' content.



ALL was now hurry and confusion in Castle Ivar,
for Gael gave orders at once to look after The
Nautilus and have her ready for sea in three days.
Lady Mclvar was locking away and packing, with
Ladarine helping her. But Agratha had a special
anxiety, and in spite of the general haste and
preoccupation, she felt obliged to speak to Gael
on the subject.

" It is this, Gael," she said to him with eyes
full of tears, " my fader must have been the means
of sending those men now in the castle, yet they
brought no letter for me no letter either from
him, or my moeder."

Gael started at this statement. *' Oh, my
Dear One ! " he answered, " how selfish and un
kind we have all been to forget that likelihood.
Perhaps there is one. Let us go and inquire."

The chief of the three men being questioned,
tremblingly admitted that there had been a let
ter for the young lady, but said that it had mys
teriously disappeared during the night they slept
at McAlpine.

" It was with my other papers when I went to


bed," he said, " but in the morning I could not
find it. The gentleman who sent the carriage
and horses to bring the young lady comfortably
to London, also sent the letter. He gave me a
sovereign to put it into her hand, but I could
not, for it was stolen gone somehow and some
where I know not."

" Oh Gael, then when I get to London, I shall
not know where to find fader and moeder."

" Upon my soul, Agratha, this is past endur
ance. I will send Donald immediately to McAl-
pine, with a letter to Angus, saying the letter
.must be there, and must be sent here."

" If you will, Gael it is a trouble and I am
sorry you are so busy."

" Faith, Dear, there is no more important busi-
jiess than just this need of yours. Donald shall
go at once. I think he will bring your let

Late in the afternoon Donald returned from
McAlpine without the letter, and with the as
tonishing news that Angus had appropriated the
strong, comfortable carriage sent for Agratha
and Ladarine, and with his wife had gone to Lon
don in it.

"The black scoundrel!" muttered Gael; then
turning to Agratha, he said, "Do not trouble
yourself. Sure, my dearest, everybody in any
connection with this case, must know your fath
er's address."


" But these three men? None of them knew it.""

" They belong to any case, or to every case.
But sure, my love, the Lord Chancellor knows
it. Your father went straight to him, or he had
not signed the warrant for my arrest by the Hue
and Cry. You can get it from him, on your ar
rival in London."

Then he was urgently needed on The Nautilus
and was obliged to leave Agratha with her trouble.
And he was sad and fearful; he felt as if Agra-
tha's heart was wholly fixed upon her return to
her parents. For a moment this feeling dashed
all his energy, but it only needed one thought of
Angus and his infamous treachery to send him
again with almost unnatural haste and vigor to
preparations for the journey to London.

Fortunately The Nautilus was in good condi
tion and perfectly seaworthy. She was already
at her pier, and men were waiting to put on board
the stores and victualling which Lady Mclvar
and Ladarine were preparing. Another crowd
were busy ballasting her with the grey rocks ready
to their hand.

"Is there really need for so much hurry?"
asked Lady Mclvar. " I am almost distracted,

" Indeed, dear mother, our hurry is a matter
of some importance. It will break my heart if
that dog of a man reach London before me. He
must not get that thousand pounds. I will de-


liver myself to justice. No man shall sell me into
the power of the law."

" Can we manage it, Gael? "

" Indeed I think so The roads are past de
scription by Inverness and Perth, and as far as
Stirling, the snow in many districts is lying. If
they reach the border without accident, it will be
because the devil is driving them to some deeper
destruction further on. If the winds favour us,
we may be in Portsmouth within three weeks, and
from Portsmouth a coach will take us to Lon
don in thirty hours. Dear mother, this is the
turning point of my life, sure you will help
me? "

" My boy, both I and Agratha will stand at
your shoulders."

" I fear, Agratha "

" You wrong her. She is true to you as as
I am."

In less than three days The Nautilus was fly
ing southward before the wind. Agratha and
Ladarine had their old rooms, Lady Mclvar oc
cupied her son's luxurious cabins, and for more
than a week the weather, though cold and windy,
was clear, bright and almost intoxicating with
the electricity and ozone that revel in the North
Minch atmosphere, no matter what the conditions
of the weather. Everyone on board was blithe
and cheerful, at least until they were well down
the English coast, and had been quite deserted by


the invigorating inspiring breath of the sea, roar
ing through Hebredean waterways.

At last London was reached, but it was late
at night and all were exceedingly weary. They
went direct to the Ivy Bush hostelry in High
Holborn, had a good meal and slept so well in its
big, comfortable beds, that all were ready for
breakfast by nine in the morning. Gael noticed
at once that Agratha was dressed for the street,
and Agratha also noticed that Gael had changed
his garb of old Gaul for the ordinary dress of a
gentleman of that day. It was of rich material,
but had the Puritanical plainness affected by the
court of Oliver Cromwell. Yet Agratha was
charmed by its sombre beauty; the loss of the
curled wig, of the laces and ribbons, was no loss;
she thought Gael far more manly and purposeful
In his black velvet and plain linen.

Gael was going to call on Lord Thurlow for
advice before surrendering himself to the police,
and Lady Mclvar was going with him. Agra-
tha's destination was the hotel to which the let
ter sent from Gibraltar directed her parents.
She believed they would be there, because it was
the only link to her they possessed. Gael called
a chair for her, and then they stood silent. The
time for parting had come. In an hour or two
she would doubtless be with her father and
mother, and he would likely be in prison. Where,
and when, and how, would they meet again? He


looked at her with his soul in his eyes. He trem
bled. He was dumb with sorrow. He wrung his
strong young hands, and wept as only strong
young men can weep. " Oh Agratha ! " he
sobbed, and his voice was like a sword in her heart.

"It is the only way, Gael, the only way. I
must go to my fader and moeder. I must! Oh,
my Love ! My Love ! "

" Do not forget me ? "

" God knows ! Not while I live. Thyself, and
no other will I marry. If not thee then none."

" If I should have to die."

" For my sake thou would die Well then, with
thee I would die."

" If they ask you to say words that will slay

" I will not say them."

" If those words were truth? "

" I will not say them."

" Would you lie for me? "

" Yes, if it were to save thy life."

" Oh, my darling, your goodness is beyond be

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 17 of 20)