Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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" She goes to Gravesend to victual. All the


best farms are on Long Island, and she can get her
cabbage and pork easier and cheaper at Gravesend
than at New York. I am going to ask Miss Van
Ruyven to go back to Gravesend with me, in order
to help Captain Schofield and others, pass pleas
antly the few days of their detention."

"Dearest cousin, I shall vastly enjoy a visit to
your home, indeed I may say I have longed for
it. You will certainly ask me as well as Captain

" Captain Schofield is dancing this very min
ute with Miss Elizabeth Anthony, and you are not
even on your legs. Go, and do some steps this
evening with every pretty girl on the floor, and
Miss Van Ruyven shall pay my debt at Gravesend
for the obligation : " then turning to Agratha, she
asked, " Will you not do so, my dear? "

" Very great pleasure that would give me, Lady
Moody, if my fader and moeder consent."

" I will ask so much from their favour."

" And I kiss your hand, my dear cousin, for
your miraculous kindness," said Mclvar.

" Then our bargain is made. Come, Agratha !
Your mother desires your company, and as for
you, Mclvar, follow me, and I will take you to the
loveliest girl in the room."

" Alas, no, you take me from her ! "

Then Agratha turned away, and Mclvar
watched her until she was seated at her mother's
side. "Isn't she a darling? Isn't she a darling? "


he exclaimed. " In faith, cousin, you are hard
on me."

" I must protect a child like Agratha from you.
Her mother entreated me to do so. Your marked
attention was being adversely noticed, and to
morrow the Dear One would have been torn to
pieces by envious and jealous women. See! She
is already dancing with Carel Van Dorn, and I
will introduce you to Maria La Montague. She
is French, and takes all the new steps perfectly."

Agratha had said she only wished to " look on "
but a beautiful girl of fifteen years is a de
lightful partner, " where feet fly fast, and hearts
are light." And she had her place in every dance,
even in the minuet which she performed with Carel
Van Dorn to the delight of everyone present.
Never before had her father been so proud of her,
never before had he so fully realised what a treas
ure of lovely life was committed to his care. He
watched her jealously, was hot and angry when
she was dancing with Lord Mclvar, or any of the
young men from the English quarter, and was
proud and pleased when she stepped out with Carel
Van Dorn, or Jacob Kip, or any of the young
Dutch beaus present.

So between dancing and eating, the hours slipped
quickly away, and all were amazed when it was
two o'clock in the morning, and the last Country
Dance was called. Agratha had Mclvar for her
partner, and she felt that the climax of the en-


tertainment had been reached. Nothing more de
lightful could happen to her, and she was strangely
satisfied and silent. Usually she was ready to
talk, to describe, even to criticise, but about this
fateful entertainment she had nothing to say; her
heart was too full for words, and she slipped
quietly away to her room without expressing an

Van Ruyven was amazed, but her mother said:
" The child is too weary to talk. We shall have
enough said in the morning. Take thy smoke and
then we also will go to our good sleep, for I can
tell thee I am weary and have not a word to say
this night I mean this morning for it is anigh
to three o'clock. Think of that."

So Paul removed his fine velvet coat, and draw
ing his chair opposite the fire, lit his pipe and
smoked placidly, while Ragel put away her pearls
and lace, and splendidly embroidered petticoats.
Paul was not sleepy, he had talked a great deal
at the Governor's table, and he felt that he would
like to repeat the conversation to his wife. He
was sure that she would enjoy it, so he said:

" Sit down beside me, Ragel, for one-half hour.
I must have my smoke, and it is no good for me,
if thou keep moving about on thy tip-toes."

" Well, look now, Paul, this is the very hour of
my morning sleep, and I will not cheat myself
of it."

" But I cannot sleep, Ragel."


" That is nonsense. What is there to keep thee
awake? Put on thy nightcap, shut thy eyes, and
lay thy head on the pillow, and if thou art not
asleep in one minute, then I will wonder, I will
fear, I will call up the house, I will send for the
Doctor. But there! Sleep comes to thee as eas
ily as breathing."

"In my judgment, that is the right way,

" Well, then, see thou take the right way, and
that very soon. Good-night to thee, Paul ! "



IN the morning Paul was late to breakfast, and
so hurried at dinner time, that Ragel quoted point
edly : " ' Late to breakfast, hurried at dinner, and
cross at supper.' That is the old proverb, Paul,
but I advise thee not to be cross at supper. I
am likely to be cross myself before night," she
said, " and if two in the house be in that temper,
no doubt there will be trouble and quarrelling."

" When I got to business this morning," re
torted Paul, " it was ten o'clock and nothing done
that should have been done every moeder's son
of the lazy fellows, talking about the dance last

" That was natural, Paul."

" In business hours, it was dishonest, imperti
nent trifling. Well, then, I have kept them on the
quickstep dance ever since, and to-night they will
stay two hours over time. Yes, indeed, they will ! "

" The poor young men ! Thou hast taken all
the pleasure out of their good time. Once thou
wert young, Paul."

" I was always honest and diligent in my bus-



iness. That is one of my principles. Listen,
Ragel! I will not go to any more midnight non
sense. I have a headache. I am sleepy, and the
day's business is at sixes and sevens."

" Come home early, and make up thy sleep."

" And let everything in the store go to the mis
chief. That is like a woman. I may be two hours
later than is my custom."

" I should think thou would, if thou art not,
keeping thy clerks two hours later will be of little

"If thou hast a pudding, let it be brought
quickly. I cannot spend the best hour in the day

" There is no pudding."

" That is what I expected."

*'Then I am glad thou art not disappointed."

" I am going. Things seem to be as much out
of kilter here, as they are at the store."

" Of course they are. I am glad thou had the
good sense to expect it."

Paul looked at his wife angrily, but Ragel, with
a face of smiling good .humour, was carefully cut
ting herself a choice slice of roast mutton, so she
did not notice his displeasure.

" I am going," he said again, pushing backward
his chair with unnecessary noise and haste.

" No one hinders thy going," answered Ragel,
" but I advise thee to come home early, and finish
thy sleep. Also, there is a storm brewing, and

in thy present temper, it would be easy for thee
to take cold."

He shut the door emphatically to this remark,
and Ragel laid down her knife and fork and
watched him stamping down the flagged garden
walk. " Men are cross, queer creatures," she
thought, yet the thought passed away in a smile,
for she knew that Paul's temper was easily in her
management, one way or another, " but he will
come home early, and finish his sleep." She gave
the last sentence audible speech, and felt so cer
tified by the sound of the words, that she bade
Gus make a good fire, and put his master's house
blouse and slippers before it.

Two hours earlier than usual Paul came home
and went straight to his bedroom. Madame Van
Ruyven and Agratha were sitting sewing and talk
ing in the room beneath, and they heard him kick
off his shoes with a noise calculated to inform
them of his obedience to the advice given him.
Then Madame smiled, she understood all his little
ways of attracting attention, and she nodded at
Agratha sympathetically, and went upstairs to

" So glad am I to see thee, Paul," she said, " in
deed I was wishing thou would come. Now I will
darken the room, and sleep, Dear One, sleep all
that is needful to thee. A wise man, as thou art,
always pays the debt he owes to himself, before
all other debts. Thou hast done right."


" Well, Ragel, I generally do right, that is one
of the things I am particular about."

" Everyone knows that, Paul."

Then she left him to the soothing and healing
influences of darkness and sleep, and returning to
her daughter continued their discussion about the
social events of the hour the parties likely to be
given, and the guests that would be prominent in
each particular set.

When Paul awoke it was quite dark, and he
knew from a certain warm delicious odour, and
still more definitely from the sound of silver and
glass in contact, that it was supper time. He rose
hastily and at the top of the stairs saw Agratha
with a candle in her hand waiting for him. It
made him happy. He took the candle from her
and clasped her hand in his, and so she led him
to his chair on the hearth, shook over again its
cushions, gave him his comfortable blouse, put on
his slippers, and then took a kiss for her service.
It was all delightful, and when Ragel and the sup
per entered, a great content filled the large bright
room, and the unhappy dinner was quite for

They talked during it of Agratha's lessons, and
Paul was proud to be able to explain to his child
some of those classical allusions so common in the
writings of that period. For Paul was a Univer
sity graduate, and never spoke of Mother Leyden
without raising his hat or hand in salutation to


her. It was natural enough then, that he should
tell Agratha about the Governor's reference to
the Trojan horse, and the blank or puzzled looks
with which it was received.

" I am even sure, Ragel," he continued, " that
I alone understood him, and what Allard Anthony
and the rest thought, I know not. No one pres
ent ever named the Trojan horse to me except
Peter Van Couwenhoven; he asked when I next
met him if I had ever seen a Trojan horse, and
surmised they must be ugly ill-tempered brutes to
need dragging into any place."

Madame said she did not blame Couwen
hoven, nor anybody else for not understanding, or
believing such an improbable story. And she
would like to know what the Trojans and the
Greeks had to do with New Amsterdam, and its
government? She thought that if the Governor
had to set off his speeches with old sayings and old
stories, he might find some nearer home in good
plain Dutch. " Why," she continued, " Van Hat-
tarn, whom he has made one of our burgomasters,
lives mostly among the Indians, and I dare say
never heard of a war with the Trojans; indeed, I
wonder he did not ask the Governor if the Trojan
tribe were allied to the Mohawks ? "

" Well, then, I can tell you, Ragel, that our best
and most respectable men are very much impressed
by his Latin quotations, and they and his class
ical stories will silence a quarrelsome meeting


when common sense and good Dutch would have no
effect. Old Vanderhoff once went to Domine
Megapolensis and repeated as well as he could
some Latin phrase used by Governor Stuyvesant.
' He threw it in our faces as if it was powder and
shot,' he said, ' and I would like, Domine, to know
what it meant.' '

"Did he tell him, Paul? "

" The Domine spoke the phrase correctly, and
being assured it was the Governor's quotation an
swered: ' I am sorry that, you have asked me, Mr.
Vanderhoff, and I have little inclination to tell
you its meaning.' However, being strongly urged,
he said : * If you will have it, then it means in plain
Dutch, that you are a lot of jabbering idiots and
jackasses, and not even honest ones.' Vanderhoff
has never spoken to Stuyvesant since."

" Governor Stuyvesant will not care if Mr. Van
derhoff does not speak to him," said Agratha.

" The flying of a crow overhead would have as
much effect on him," added Madame.

In such pleasant, intimate conversation the
evening passed ; and in the morning Agratha began
eagerly to watch for an invitation to some of the
festivities she had heard were certain. But none
came to her, except from the Stillwells, and as
Lady Moody was staying with them, she knew
whom to thank for it. Every afternoon or even
ing, there was some kind of pleasuring on hand,
and she could hardly keep back tears when a pro-


cession of sleighs filled with merrymakers passed.
She knew that they were going to a famous road-
house three miles distant, and were to have an
cyster supper, and an informal dance after it.
It was the Anthonys' courtesy to the English vis
itors, and she thought the^ might have asked her
to join them.

" They were all young people, moeder," she said
with a sob in her voice, " and I should have been
so happy with them."

" Thou art too young yet, Agratha. Except
from the Governor and Lady Moody thou cannot
expect social invitations for some years yet."

" Years ! Oh, moeder ! "

It was however a fact, that Agratha's presence
in the young people's set had not been kindly re
ceived. The marriageable girls felt it to be an
unfair intrusion of youth and beauty, fresher than
their own, and Elizabeth Anthony said plainly:

" The little minx had no business among us.
She is too attractive, and she knew well enough
how to coquet with the most desirable young men
present. I shall not notice her in any future so
cial gathering."

" It is her mother's fault," replied Mrs. An
thony. " She thinks her daughter a very lamp of
beauty, and is sure we all wish to gaze on her.
The child already is not permitted to keep any
company, unless they belong to the top of the
tree. But then! "


"This is the truth, mother," continued Miss
Anthony ; " girls of twenty- two, or so on, had no
chance of favour when this dressed-up school girl
was around. And will you believe it, her fine dress
just like mine was made in a babyish kind of
fashion. If she had any corsets on, they must
have been short and soft, and I do not think such
dressing on a girl of fifteen moral and respectable."

" I shall tell you how matters stand, Elizabeth,"
said Mrs. Anthony, " if you and the other girls of
twenty-two and so on, refuse to countenance her,
she will not be invited out. A child like Agratha
Van Ruyven is absurd in a ballroom. As for her
great beauty, Madame Van Ruyven should con
sider that blossoms are not fruits. Agratha is
pretty enough now, but what she will be five or
ten years after this time, who can tell ? "

These opinions regarding Agratha's presence at
the Fort ball were very general, and the Anthonys
had sufficient influence to enforce the child's se
clusion. She felt it keenly, and Madame made
polite excuses for refusing all the future festivi
ties of that period. She was indignant at the
slight shown to her daughter, and disposed to tell
everyone that Agratha had only been present at
the dance in the Fort in obedience to a special
request from the Governor and Madame Stuy-

In consequence of these little annoyances, Lady
Moody's invitation was an acceptable triumph.


After all, Agratha was going to have the best of
it. Instantly Madame began the few changes
proper for the visit. A simple evening dress
made over the same corsets Miss Anthony thought
so reprehensible, her cloth pelisse more hand
somely trimmed, and her little fur hood re-lined
with new scarlet satin, were not obvious prepara
tions, and Van Ruyven was not aware of his
daughter's intended trip to Gravesend, until the
evening before it was to begin. Then on coming
home he noticed Agratha's trunk downstairs, and
he surmised its purpose at once. Her mother
frankly admitted she had promised Lady Moody to
let her have Agratha for a week, and Van Ruy
ven said:

" I am not pleased at that, Ragel. She will miss
her lessons, and she does that too often."

But he was not only inordinately fond of
Agratha, he was also proud and touchy about
everything concerning her; and when Madame
feelingly related the small slights and neglects she
had recently been compelled to accept from older
girls jealous of her beauty, he was quite ready to
give the child any compensating pleasure within
his power.

" Let her go with Lady Moody for a week," he
said, " but only for a week, no longer."

However, he did not know at this hour that?
Lady Moody was going home on The Wasp, and:
Madame did not think it well to tell him. " There

is a time for everything," she thought, " and the
proper time to tell Paul will come."

So Agratha went quietly away in the morning.
Gus carried her trunk to the Stillwells', and Lady
Moody's own sloop took them to Nutting Island,
where The Wasp lay at anchor. There was a little
anxious fear at the mother's heart, for she had to
trust her darling to events, and be left in igno
rance of those events for an uncertain time. For
there were no telephones or telegraphs or even
regular mail service in those days, and Madame
Van Ruyven knew that she might have to wait for
any information until Agratha brought home her
own news.

This is what she told herself as she went with
less spirit than usual about her house duties. But
in the afternoon she was delighted to see Blandina
Wolfert open the garden gate. If anything un
usual had happened, Blandina would know it, and
Madame gave her a warm welcome, remarking as
ghe did so:

" You are very smartly dressed, Blandina.
Have you been at a wedding? "

" I have been with the rest of the crowd to see the
English war ship sail. There may be a wedding
hid away in her. Nobody knows what a shipfull
of Englishmen may hide or carry. Where is
Agratha? "

" I think you know where she is, Blandina."
, " I was wondering if you knew."


" I know that she has gone to spend a week at
Gravesend with Lady Moody. Why did you go
to see The Wasp sail? "

" I went because the whole English set were go
ing. A crowd went down to the Island this morn
ing, and I thought I might as well see what they
were up to ; and as I stood watching and listening
for it is my way to notice everything I saw
Lady Moody's sloop coming. And I noticed that
after Lady Moody and Agratha landed, the sloop
went straight up the river again, with Mr. Hub-
bard at the wheel."

" Were you on board The Wasp? "

" Good gracious, Madame ! she was guarded as
if she was an enemy's country. No one was al
lowed to board her, but we noticed that the gang
way was down and covered with scarlet carpet.
So we all expected to see Governor and Madame
Stuyvesant, and some were not pleased with them
for paying so much attention to people who are
always interfering with our rights and interests;
but as for me I said nothing which is my way
when there are disputes and in a few moments I
was glad I had been so prudent."


" Because, after calling ' good-byes ' to Mr.
Hubbard, Lady Moody and Agratha went straight
to The Wasp, and lo ! and behold ; a sailor in full
uniform let down the rope which had been across
the gangway, and Lord Mclvar came hurriedly;


from the upper deck. First he led Lady Moody
on board, and then returned for Agratha. He
stretched out both hands to her, and acted just
as I suppose a lover ought to do. We were all
astonished, and many thought Agratha was run
ning away with "

" Stop one minute, Blandina," said Madame
with a touch of anger in her voice, " you all knew
well, that Agratha was not running away with
anyone. She is only a child. Does it hurt you,
that she should have a week's holiday and a little
pleasure? "

" For myself, I say no ; but there are others
who talk of playing with fire, and so on, and so on.
And handsome young lords are just a kind of con
suming fire. The girls in New Amsterdam have
been in a very blaze of jealousy, ever since Lord
Mclvar was seen. But then! Please to remem
ber that is the way with the English, they put
everything in order of battle wherever they come.
May the God of peace and good will keep them
far off, for the rest of our lives."

" Pshaw, now ! The English can't trouble me.
My next door neighbours could do it easier. See
here, once, Blandina, as you go up and down, you
may say that Agratha Van Ruyven's visit was
planned and promised before The Wasp came here,
and Lord Mclvar has nothing whatever to do
with my daughter."

" Well, then, he should not carry on in the


way he did. I wish you had seen him once,
clasping her hands, and smiling into her face,
and "

" And I take leave to say, that I am sure he
clasped Lady Moody's hands, and smiled into her
face in just the same manner. There is no dis
pensing with these fopperies in decent society, but
no doubt the English are too obvious in their com
pliments. Kindly excuse me speaking it so plain,
Blandina. Allowances are to be made in judging
strangers, especially when we have given them such
freedoms as we have given the English. They
take advantages ; that is natural."

" Their impudence is past declaring," answered
Blandina, " and as for their compliments, the$
are like the wind, for everyone. Now my maxims
are truth and common-sense, and so I never lis
tened to anything they said ; that is, I gave it no

" A very wise young woman are you, Blandina

" Well then, that is the truth. I am generally
known for my prudence. No one may look at my
face to admire, but my conduct is "

" Come, now, Blandina, you have just told me
one of your maxims was truth, and you are not
living up to the truth now. You know you have
a pretty face, yes "

" Well, then, I may be pretty. If it is the
truth, I will not deny it. But it is not my way


to praise myself, I do not think it respectable or
pious. It is against the Holy Scriptures, and I
respect the Holy Scriptures. So I do not praise
myself, I praise others, that is to my credit,
Domine Megapolensis has said so, often."

" Then I hope you will put to silence any fool
ishness about Agratha's visit to Gravesend. You
know the truth now."

" I shall do my best, Madame, but " and but
and still but, until Madame was weary and a lit
tle offended. Then Blandina went away with a
pretence of hurry, and a cackle of words not
consonant with that Spirit of Truth, which she
claimed as h,er special excellency.

It was dark when Paul reached home that night,
but Ragel knew from the stamp and hurry of his
feet he had heard something to annoy him; and
she thought instantly of The Wasp. But she pos
sessed that clever wifely diplomacy, which comes of
an intelligent intimacy, and she met him cheer
fully and made no allusion to his being more than
half an hour late. Paul felt her mood to be
comfortable, and he resolved to delay all inquiries
until his supper had been enjoyed. Gus was just
putting it on the table, and the viands had a
tempting and satisfying odour.

Ragel, however, knew better than to delay until
her husband began to question her; that was a
challenging she always resented. Therefore, as
soon as the proper moment had arrived, she said :
" I suppose Agratha left about noon, and I


lieve there was a crowd to see The

"I heard; I heard," he answered in an injured
tone, " and I would like to know how Agratha
came to be on The Wasp. I am very angry, for
thou told me she was going with Lady Moody."

" Well, then, she did go with Lady Moody."

" I heard that James Hubbard left Agratha and
Lady Moody on The Wasp, and then went back
to the city with all sail set."

" He did so. Listen, Paul. There was a great
consignment of provisions, clothing and other
needful things to the Colony of Gravesend, lying
at Isaac Allerton's wharf. It had but poor shel
ter, a storm might come at any hour, and many
families waiting anxiously for their flour and other
provisions. James Hubbard, who had come to
look after them, told Lady Moody he had relied
on the use of her sloop, and begged her to favour
him and the colony so far. What could she do? "

" Could she not have gone with the goods and
Hubbard? "

" Hubbard had the goods to put on board, and
he will not reach Gravesend until late to-night, or
it may be to-morrow. And while she was talking
with Hubbard, Captain Schofield came in, and of
fered her and our Agratha passage on The Wasp.

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 4 of 20)