Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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Then he put her in the waiting chair, and as
they parted she whispered : " Gael, dearest Gael !
Thine only I will be. In life or death thine
only ! " and so, with a smile, passed from his sight.

Alas! Agratha's visit to the Black Bull Inn
was quite fruitless. No one called Van Ruyven
was there, or ever had been there. The hostess


was perhaps unnecessarily positive as to that
fact. Agratha stood for a moment confused and
disconcerted. Then she remembered the Lord
Chancellor, and she directed the bearers to carry
her to the Court of Chancery.

There was quite a crowd in the yard, and the
number of lawyers in little grey wigs and black
gowns flitting about, seemed to Agratha a fear
some sight. " What trouble there must be in.
the world ! " she thought, " for people in trouble
always want a lawyer." At the main entrance
to the hall the chairman opened the door of her
sedan, and she said to someone, also in wig and
gown, who was standing there, " I wish to see the
Lord Chancellor."

" He has not come down to the Court yet,"
was the answer.

" How soon will he come down ? "

" Perhaps in ten or fifteen minutes."

" Can I wait here ? " she asked.

" First door to your right hand," he answered ;
then glancing into her lovely, anxious face, he
added, " I will show you," and he turned the
handle of a door, and said in reassuring tone,
" he is sure to be here to-day, perhaps in teii

With a smiling " thank you," Agratha entered
the room. It was a gloomy little room plainly
furnished with a centre table, and some oak
chairs. At the table a man sat eating a thick


mutton chop, dressed with shredded shalots, and
sipping Burton ale. He looked at Agratha, but
did not speak, yet if his thoughts had found
words, they would have been, " By George, what
a beauty ! "

For a few minutes he watched her anxious face
and restless movements, then he asked pleasantly
enough : " Whom are you seeking, my pretty
maid? "

"The Lord Chancellor, sir," she replied.

" Oh ! " and he turned round in his chair,
looked at a big clock behind him, and said : " You
will have to wait ten minutes perhaps longer.
Lord Brudenel is not very punctual; he has to
care for himself and all his whims, first."

"Not right is that. For the people waiting,
he ought to care."

"He doesn't, not a bit. Can I do as well?
[What is it you desire ? "

" Only the address of Paul Van Ruyven ; a gen
tleman of New Amsterdam."

"I know. And pray what is your name? "

" Agratha Van Ruyven. I am his dauhter."

" Really ! Do you know that Agratka Van
Ruyven is at present the talk of the town? And
it is you, that ran off with Lord Mclvar? "

"I did not run off with Lord Mclvar."

"Then he ran off with you and little blame
[to him."

" Lord Mclvar did not run off with me."


"What then?"

" It was an accident."

"An accident!"

" Nobody intended to run away."

"Well then, how?"

" It just happened. I wish you could give
me my fader's address. For one year I have not
seen my fader and moeder, so then my heart is
in a great hurry."

"I understand. I will get what you wisK,,
Ring the bell at your right hand."

While Agratha obeyed this request, he pen
cilled a few lines and sent them by an attendant;
to Sergeant Rollins. " Bring me an answer in
five minutes," he said.

" That quick way; of doing things is what I
like," said Agratha. " It is Governor Stuyve-
sant's way."

" So you know Governor Stuyvesant."


" Many people do not speak well of him."

"That is because they are bad people."

"Do you like him?"

" No. You cannot like Governor Stuyvesant,
as if he was something nice to eat You either;
love him, or hate him. I love him."

" Then I suppose he loves you? "

" Very much he loves me ! He had his secre
tary give me lessons. He always sent me a New;
Year's gift, yes, and also a birthday gift, and


when there was a ball at the fort he wished
me to be present. He called me his little

" Do guardians give their wards New Year's
and birthday presents ? "

" It is their duty, if they are good guar

" Do you know what a ward is ? "

" It is someone you take care of, if care is
seeded. My moeder told me the guardian in the
Dutch Kirk is like the Godfather in the Lutheran

"Lutheran Church! What church is that?"

" The English church, of course."

" Why did you have a guardian, when you
were living with your father? "

" I suppose if my own fader died, he was to
be a fader to me just like a godfather."

" Have you seen the Hue and Cry for Lord
Mclvar's arrest ? "

" It was brought to Ivar Castle, by that in
famous creature, Lord McAlpine."


'' Yes. Listen. He was a bondman in our
house, and served us four years "

" Are you telling a fairy story ? "

" The truth I tell you." Then in short, vivid
sentences she gave her listener the whole tale of
Mclvar's devotion, and Me Alpine's treachery;
even to the taking of the carriage sent by her


father for her use. The man listened with in
tense feeling, and accompanied her recital by a
commentary of very ugly words.

" It is a bad tale," he said when she ceased.

" It brought us to London, for Lord Mclvar
will surrender himself to the Lord Chancellor,
rather than let McAlpine have the money for his

" He will not get the money." He was read
ing a slip of paper as he spoke and he looked up
from it to Agratha, and said pleasantly : " Mr.
and Mrs. Van Ruyven are staying at the Char
ing Cross Hotel."

Then she rose in a happy hurry, all smiles and
thanks, and the man went with her to the outer
door, and after putting her in her chair, stood
a moment to get the last look of the lovely face
bending forward to give him a final smile.

At the Charing Cross Hotel she found all pro
pitious. A comely woman in a large lace capi
trimmed with pink ribbons, said a cheerful good-
morning as she approached the bar, and when
asked if Mr. and Mistress Van Ruyven were stay
ing there, answered : " To be sure they are, and
right welcome they be."

" Will you take me to their rooms ? "

" Maybe you had better be announced first.
The old lady is but poorly."

" No ! no ! I am their daughter, and I have
not seen them for a year."


" God-a-mercy ! I will show you the way right

Up some queer low stairs they went. There
was a wide window at the little landing half way
up, and across this window a long box of the
small old-fashioned mignonette, whose heavenly
scent filled the whole place with an enthralling
perfume. The landlady pointed to a door nearly
opposite the stairway, and said softly, as if there
was something sacred in the information:

" God bless you, bairn ! your mother is in

Very gently Agratha opened the door indi
cated. The room was darkened, and Ragel Van
Ruyven appeared to be asleep on a couch. Her
husband sat by her side. His head was bent, and
his appearance despairing. The opening of the
door disturbed neither the sleeper nor the
watcher, but when Agratha cried out " My fader!
My moeder ! " and ran towards them, Paul Van
Ruyven leaped to his feet with a look of wonder
and joy, and the mother raised herself with a
sharp cry to a sitting posture her white face
and white garments making her look like a ghost
at the call of the resurrection the look of one
who had been dead and who felt suddenly the stir
of life.

In a moment Agratha was kneeling between
them, kissing and comforting her mother, while
her father was unconsciously crying over the lit-


tie hand she had stretched out to him. But of
the precious hours that followed, full of the ten-
derest confidences of love that asked nothing but
love, of sweet sorrows and sweeter pardons, the
record is in Heaven. Earth knows it not.

The next morning Lady Mclvar called on
Madame Van Ruyven, and the two women liked
each other on sight. Indeed it was difficult for
anyone to resist the delightful cheerfulness of
Lady Mclvar. She took the sick woman in her
care at once, promising Agratha to have her well
in a month. Quite openly, she gave the anxious
girl a letter from Gael, and advised her to go with
him for a walk in Hyde Park. " He is waiting
at the bar for you," she said, " and your mother
and I can do very well by ourselves."

"But Gael? Can Gael walk in the park? I
thought I feared "

" Gael will tell you of his good fortune. Go
to him quickly."

" But very soon you must be back, Agratha? "

" Let us give them a couple of hours, Madame,"
said Lady Mclvar. " They are young, and they
love each other. Gracious ! What a glory that
is! We will not tithe their happiness. As for
ourselves, there are many things we ought to

"About Gael?"

" About Agratha also. It is clear as daylight,
whatever concerns the one, concerns the other.


To tell you the story shortly, when I was young
and fair, the great Lord Thurlow was my lover,
and by all that is true and good, he has not for
gotten how sweet were those days of our hopes
and dreams. Once, nearly two years ago, I
tested his remembrance; that was to help Gael
to procure the release from bondage of Lord Mc-

" An ungrateful creature."

" When a Highland Scot is bad, he is the worst
of all men. He cannot be half way bad he is
bad all through bad to the core. Well, I tried
Thurlow's love again yesterday. It was fresh
and green as ever. He took to Gael at once, was
charmed with him, and said with a sigh, that ' he
might have been his son.' Indeed he was eager
to find out how he could help me. I told him
truly the whole story, and he positively enjoyed
it. I said I supposed Gael would have to go to
prison, and I wished it could be to the Tower, for
I had a horror of Newgate."

" So! he really enjoyed the story, how could
he? A very sad story it was to us," said
Madame Van Ruyven.

'' Yes, dear, but men look on escapades of this
kind differently to mothers and fathers. Thur
low had been near to running off with me him
self, but Mclvar reached that point first."

" Mclvar ran off with you? "

'* Yes, galloped twenty miles with me at the


first stretch. We were followed by the John
stons and Musgraves and Eockerbys, and a
crowd of border gentlemen, but they never over
took us, for Mclvar had relays of fresh horses
waiting all the way."

" Were you rich? "

" Yes, I had plenty of money."

" What did Lord Thurlow say about the

" He said we must attend to that subject at
once and that he would go with us to the Lord
Chancellor who was even then holding court at
Westminster. So to Westminster in Lord Thur-
low's coach we went and had a present audience
with the Chancellor. He also was kind to Gael,
and asked him many questions, which I am proud
to say, my son answered with great discretion."

" But what about prisoning him? "

" He said Gael need not be imprisoned, if he
could find anyone to become surety for his ap
pearance in ten thousand pounds. Thurlow said
he would give his personal gage, then and there,
which he did in some way satisfactory to the law."

" Did the Lord Chancellor speak of Agratha? "

" He asked many questions about her, and
among others if Gael had any picture of a
beauty that could make a young man stand under
the gallows for her. And it so happened that
Gael had a miniature that a Greek painted for
him, when The Nautilus was drifting among the


Grecian Isles last summer. And the Chancellor
looked long at it."

"What did he say?"

" That this case was his particularly. The
young lady had been put under his special care
by her uncle, whom he knew well, and that it was
going to be in a remarkable manner a case for
the conscience, and not for the lawyers."

"What did he mean?"

" The Lord High Chancellor is the keeper of
the King's I mean the Protector's, conscience
and sits as judge upon equitable grounds,
without regard to what the law requires. In
deed he said plainly that Agratha's kidnapping
was clearly in defiance of the law, and if judged
by the law, the lad must die. But, he added, we
shall not judge it by the law, but by that unfor
tunate chain of circumstance, which seem to have
forced on an illegal conclusion."

"That is good, is it not?"

"It is everything."

" And Lord Thurlow will stand by Gael? "

" He promises so much, and he took Gael home
with him, declaring he must keep him in sight for
the sake of his ten thousand pounds. So Gael
is to stay in Thurlow House, and report three
times every day to its master."

" How soon will the trial be? "

" Perhaps not until late in the summer, and
again it might be before the midsummer holidays.


It appears there is great public feeling on the
subject and London will stay in London for the
trial even the Protector is interested, and our
children are in the mouths of all, and the hearts
of many."

From these few facts it is easy to construct
the comparatively happy lives that both the Mc-
Ivars and Van Ruyvens now possessed. In the
first place, Madame Van Ruyven rapidly regained
her health, and spent most of her time in Lady
Mclvar's company. They went to all the won-
derfuls in town, and passed long hours together
shopping, growing closer to each other every day.

Paul Van Ruyven also found the recreations
that pleased him most. He listened to the Par
liamentary debates, he followed the great Crom
well about, he read the news in the coffee houses
and change houses, and enjoyed the eloquence of
the preachers who at Paul's Cross and in the
churches, gathered their eager congregations.

Gael became a social favourite. The women
called him " naughty " and said " fye! fye! "
.jvhen he was introduced, but they all loved and
pitied him, and wondered what the creature who
had brought him into this trouble looked like.
For Agratha kept very much in seclusion, her
early daily walk with Gael being her one pleasure,
but she found it sufficient to make every hour
serenely happy. And when the rain fell, and the
park was impossible, then Gael sat with her and

Madame Van Ruyven, and told them all the gos
sip of Cromwell's Court. For Gael had early
sought and obtained Madame Van Ruyven's par
don, though Van Ruyven himself knew him not,
nor even spoke to him, or of him, and if perchance
they met, steadily ignored his presence. It was,
however, a comfort to know, that Van Ruyven
had nothing to do with Gael's arrest. It had
come solely from McAlpine's accusations to the
Lord Chancellor, who was " through appointed
representatives," plaintiff in the case.

As for Ladarine, she passed her time pleas
antly between the two hotels, preferring decidedly
the company of Lady Mclvar. " My lady knows
how to treat trouble," she said, " she snubs it,
and puts it in its place, and never sets a good
meal, or good sleep aside for it. There's some
sense in that behaviour. And she takes me to
the wax works, and the shows of all kinds, and I
like London that well, it will be a heartache to
leave it."

Indeed, the only trouble Ladarine found was
the want of a modest conveyance to take her
about ; for into a chair no one could persuade the
big Yorkshirewoman to step. She had a fit of
hysterical laughter at Lady Mclvar's first prop
osition of a chair for Laradine.

" No ! no ! My Lady ! " she cried. " I will noii
be carried neck and heels by any two men, not'
while I'm alive, and able to kick the bottom out


of the thing. When I'm dead, it will like enough
take two men to carry me, for I weigh about
eighteen Stone; but they'll carry nothing but
clay, then Ladarine won't be there."

So the spring passed into summer, and this
little party with a probable death sentence hang
ing over them were not particularly unhappy.
Still the announcement that the trial of Gael Mc-
Ivar, of Ivar Castle, Ross, for kidnapping the
daughter of Paul Van Ruyven of New Amster
dam, New Netherland, would begin on the twen
ty-fifth of June was not unwelcome.

" They do not anticipate a long trial," said a
man standing in Westminster Hall to his com
panion in a lawyer's wig and gown.

" How do you reason? "

" The Lord Chancellor generally leaves town
in July."

" There are great anticipations. Not only is
London agog, but people come from the counties.
Yes, and the inns are full of Scots, proud, pea-
cocky fellows, that look at us Londoners as if
we were the dirt beneath their feet; and I heard
also that a little company of border gentlemen
came riding into town to-day, and went in a body
to the Salutation Inn. What are they coming
for? "

" Perhaps for a rescue, if the youth is con

" That would be beyond hope or possibility."


" I heard the defence would stick to the letter
of the law, concerning the jury. He is to be
tried by his peers, as the law directs, and that
literally so. His peers are Highland chiefs, and
border gentlemen."

" Such details are not regarded now."

" Perhaps they ought to be. It is said in this
case, the Lord Chancellor will allow it, because
of the difference in opinions about the kidnap
ping of women."

" Can he take this liberty with the law ? "

" He is keeper of the King's I mean the Pro
tector's conscience. There has always been a
flavour of religion about his office, and he is per
mitted to judge cases according to his con

"It is a great power. No wonder if it were
wickedly abused. I thought also that this court
had been abolished by the Protector."

" It has, as regards futurity ; but the cases now;
on its hands must rest with its jurisdiction.
Brudenel is a just man, but it may take him his
lifetime to clear them off; and before that there
may be strange changes in the government. The
Protector's health is alas ! not good."

" You think Brudenel will act justly in the Mc-
Ivar case? "

"I am sure of it."

" But why this rage of public sentiment about
a not uncommon event ? "


" The couple are young, remarkably beautiful,
both are very rich, and desperately in love with
each other. The trial will serve the town for its
lost theatre."

" A trial is the stupedist of events."

" But this trial may turn out a tragedy."

" If it should, the Protector will pardon."

" Perhaps. The men rave about the girl's
beauty, and the women are as far gone over the
young Lord's. And when it comes to youth and
beauty and mutual love, the Protector has a heart
all tenderness and pity. He will side with the

"Will you bet on it?"

" No. There are no chances. All is deter

"By whom?"

" Fate ! Destiny ! whatever little god it is that
rules in love and marriage."

The trial served the town for a three weeks'
entertainment. Four days were consumed in an
endeavour to get the jury literally of Gael's
peers. It was an ineffectual struggle, though it
served admirably to enlighten the admitted jury,
as to the circustances which accounted for Gael
breaking the English law, and allowed him to
plead truthfully " Not Guilty."

Every fact already detailed in this story was
thoroughly sifted. Paul Van Ruyven, rather re
luctantly, was forced to admit his retention of


gifts and letters, and his scornful insulting reply
to Gael's honourable offer of marriage, and by
the time this had been made clear, the crowds in
side and outside the great hall, were enthusi
astically in favour of the prisoner.

The question came finally to the consideration
of the motive for the kidnapping, for the Court
assumed that the prisoner knew of its ward's
great wealth, and wished to secure it. Agratha
was called in rebuttal of this opinion, and when
she rose there was a demonstration of delight and
sympathy nothing could suppress. Her mother
had clothed her in a simple white linen frock, and
without ornaments of any kind. She was white
shod, and white gloved, and wore across her head
a small flat hood of white lace and satin.

As soon as the Court began to examine her,
she drew off this hood and stood clear-faced be
fore everyone There was no design in this move
ment, but it acted like magic the whole audi
ence gave their hearts to her, but she looked only
at Gael, whose face was shining with love, and
who was unable to hide his pride and glory in
her beauty and affection. A little later, she
lifted her eyes to the bench, and saw sitting there
the man who had questioned her so closely, while
he ate his mutton chop, and sipped his ale. Then
all fear left her, and when asked how long she
had known of her wealth, she answered posi
tively :


" Only since I read the Hue and Cry last

Just as positively she averred Gael's ignorance,
and the prosecution was failing in its last and
strongest point. But Paul Van Ruyven's word
was yet to be taken, and as his animosity to the
prisoner was well known, there was fear in every
heart that he would in some way negative this
important point.

All remarked that he rose reluctantly, and
when asked under oath if he believed Lord Mc-
Ivar was aware of his daughter's great wealth,
he remained silent so long, that the question was
repeated, and Agratha bent towards him with a
face full of anxiety. He felt compelled to an
swer this appeal, and with strong emotion said
slowly :

" Lord Mclvar knew nothing of my daugh
ter's wealth."

"How can you be sure of that?" was next

" Nobody knew only I, myself."

" Your wife, perhaps ? "

" No. She knew nothing."

" Governor Stuyvesant."

" No. He had her American land in
charge. He knew nothing of any other prop

" Then Lord Mclvar did not run away with
your daughter for her money? "


" He knew nothing about her money. I have
said so. It is the truth."

" Then he took her only because he loved
her? "

" Christus! Sacrament! Yes! And he had
no right to love her ! Oh God! "

" You may sit down, Mr. Van Ruyven."

A moment's intense silence, broken by great
sighs, and little restless movements followed, and
the Court was dismissed in an unusual mood of
sympathy for the father. But the next day, the
jury, after a retirement of about ten minutes,
unanimously found Gael Mclvar " not guilty as
charged " and he was set free to a tremendous
ovation of popular delight and approval.

It is difficult to say how, or why, a great'
change of mind or feeling takes place, but it was
evident in a few weeks that Paul Van Ruyven
had considerably modified his dislike of Gael.
But Paul was extremely sensitive to public ap
proval, and very proud of the notice of great
men, and Gael was wonderfully popular. All
he said and did was admired, and wherever he
went he was loved. Perhaps then, Paul had
come to see, that it was hardly likely he was
right, and everyone else wrong in their estimate
of the young man; and perhaps also, the sweet
ness and nobility of Gael's temperament had com
pelled something like its own kindness and ob
livion of wrongs.


At any rate when September was over, and
Lady Mclvar began to talk of returning to Ivar
Castle, the Chancellor had a conversation with
Paul about a marriage between Gael and
Agratha. " The sooner it occurs and the bet
ter," he said. " It will not do for Gael to go
back to Ivar without his wife. The town will
talk. We do not want that."

" No, no ; there has been too muck talk al

" The river of their life is at a wonderfully
happy brim now, why make them wait till it

" Her money, my Lord "

" Will remain with the Court until the proper
time. They have enough to keep honeymoon on.
Come, Van Ruyven, let us love them wisely, and
make them happy."

The result of this conversation was their
splendidly solemnised marriage in St. Paul's one
month afterwards. And never had that grand
altar seen a fairer couple clasp hands before it.
The Lord Chancellor gave away the bride, Harry
Cromwell walked beside the bridegroom, and the
great, the noble, and the fair filled the stalls, and
the spacious nave. All the world, young and old,
rich and poor loves a lover, and this handsome
youth so picturesquely dressed, so romantically
possessed by his passion, so true to his love, so
proud of her beauty, so heavenly happy in the


consummation of his long delayed marriage, was
felt by all to be well worthy of the exquisite little
lady, who that day came to him with the bless
ings of heaven and earth in her hands.

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 18 of 20)