Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 5 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 5 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

For you know the ship goes there both to get vic
tualing and fresh water. There is no need to say
more to thee, Paul, for never wast thou unfriendly
or unreasonable since I knew thee."


This excuse, being a business one, was readily;
admitted by Paul to be a valid one, but he added:
" It puts thee and me in a very bad light, and peo
ple are talking about it."

" I am not against their talking, if it please
them to tell the truth."

" Thy son Nicholas came into my office and said
he was astonished and pained at thy carelessness,
and he talked in a way that angered me. Some
words we had that I will not repeat. And no
sooner had he left my office, than son William
came with his preachment."

" Pray then, what did our William say? "

" He said he wanted his sister sent to that
girl's boarding school in Boston, where his wife
was educated."

" Tell him his mother said she would not for her
life send Agratha to that school, lest she became
in the least degree like his wife."

" He said he did not approve of her going to
the Fort, she saw too many men there, and that
his wife considered her presence at the Fort ball
most injudicious and improper."

" His wife ! Paul, I am heart tired of that per
fect woman. Before Wim married her, he was a
good fellow, a pleasant happy fellow with a smile
always ready. Now! Well now, I wouldn't give
a shoe-string for his good heart, unless God will
the belief that he has the most perfect woman in
undertake to mend it. And he noodles along in


the world for his wife! What did thou say to
him? "

" I let him talk, till he got to his usual ending :
' those are my opinions, father.' Then I laughed a
bit, and told him they were far more like his wife's
opinions, and that I had no objections to them,
except that they were exactly opposite to my

" I know how the talk will fly to-morrow, for
Blandina Wolfert was here, and I heard from her
that people thought our little Agratha had run
away with that long, thin, thread-paper of a
Scotch Lord and a lot of rubbishy lies of the
same kind."

" The clashing jades ! " cried Paul in a burst of
passion, " I will have them up before the consistory
for slander."

" Nonsense ! Everything they have said, or will
say, can only come from their jealousy and envy.
It is better to be envied than pitied, and it would
not become Paul Van Ruyven to stand before the
consistory in defence of his little child; who is far
off needing either defence or excuse in anyway.
The Innocent One ! "

" That is the truth. Before there is a defence,
there must be an accusation and I will not suppose
one against Agratha. No, I will not."

" Cast the whole affair out of thy mind. If
any women come to me about my little daughter,
I have words ready for them. As for Nicholas

and Wim they cackle after their wives. Little
we care what they say, and if again they trouble
thee, on any such matter, send them home to study
their Fifth Commandment. I suppose they have
not forgotten their catechism, or quite put their
wives' opinions before it. Is this all that troubles
thee? If so, thou art well off."

" The rest I bear with the whole city. Isaac
Allerton came to me just after Wim left, and he
has little hope of any good from the new govern

" Stuyvesant again, I suppose ? "

" Yes. He has ordered that every house sell
ing spirits, beer or tobacco, is to be closed on
the Sabbath, and fines for breaking this law, and
many others are appointed."

" Well, then, that is proper, Paul. Men
should not go to a tavern on the Sabbath."

" Stuyvesant's order will not prevent it. Last
Sabbath all the public doors were closed, and all
who wanted liquor went in by the family door.
What good is that for anyone? It is only add
ing deception to drinking, and the youngsters
think it good fun to cheat the constables. And
last night, the constables were empowered to take
all the lock-up money to the captain of the
watch ; he is to hold it for their benefit, and divide
it among them four times in a year. See now,
Ragel, as the city grows, what a great and secret
perquisite this money will become! Many a man


sailors especially will be locked up on a false
charge to increase it, or else they will satisfy the
constable by that subtle secret argument, which
comes from the pocket, instead of the brain.
Again, if they have a spite at any man, they may
lock him up and put him to charges. Ragel, I
say it is too much power in the hands of the con
stables. Oh, we shall pay for it ! "

" But the constables must do right, Paul.
^The City Councillors will see to that."

" Stuyvesant's idea of a City Councillor's duty,
is that he unhesitatingly ratify whatever Stuy-
yesant wills. Yesterday he made that perfect
scoundrel Tienhoven Sheriff-attorney of the

" But the Council will not accept him. He is
the vilest, and the most hated of men. He has
robbed the Company, the City, and every man he
could touch."

" That is the truth, and also in Holland he is
under indictment for grave offences. But Stuy-
yesant said, ' take him ' and no one dared to re
fuse him."

" There was some opposition, Paul. Surely
there was some opposition?"

" No one dared to make any opposition, but his
acceptance was accompanied by a humble petition
to Stuyvesant, to admonish Tienhoven to treat
them well, and endeavor to give satisfaction. I
can see Stuyvesant laughing over that advice."


" But the charges against Tienhoven have not
yet been investigated."

" Tienhoven has investigated them, and finds
himself spotlessly innocent, and Stuyvesant is his

" But, Paul, Stuyvesant has always been re
ported an honest man. Jan Hoag left one thou
sand guilders with him to be sent to his family in
Holland, and by good investments he made it
nearly two thousand, and he sent every stiver to
the man's wife. He made no charges of any kind
on it."

" Jan Hoag was his friend. Well, then, Stuy
vesant would not wrong his friend, or tithe a
friend's trust; but Ragel, so many men seem to
think a public trust may be, should be, admin
istered for the benefit of the trustee. There al
ways have been such men, and there always will
be. Cornelis Van Tienhoven will some day lie
mouldering in his grave, but his spirit will go
marching on."

" We all know, Paul, that Stuyvesant is a sharp
business man, but he is not dishonest."

" A very sharp business man is Peter Stuj-
vesant, and he carries on all kinds of business, all
over the country. He is a brewer, he has several
bouweries, he owns three ships trading to Boston,
Norfolk, and Jamaica. He is also part owner in
several ships trading with Java, and the Far
East ; he is a general merchant, a trader for furs


with the Indians, and hath ventures in both law
ful and contraband articles. What then? Are
we not all such and such men ? And with so many
irons in the fire, Tienhoven can doubtless do many
things for Stuyvesant, he could not do for him

" But Tienhoven is such a nasty, ugly, foul ob
ject. I see not how Stuyvesant can endure his
company. I met him last week in Steenwyck's
store; he has grown fat and thick, his face is red
and bloated, and has a wen on the left cheek, and
his sickly-looking white hands were covered with
short red hairs. Oh, he was a horrible creature,
and yet there are women oh, how can they ? "

" I never look at him, Ragel. If I did, I should
long to strangle him as I would a wolf or a dog.
But he is now our Sheriff-attorney, and it is Stuy-
vesant's will that we pay him all due respect.
Isaac Allerton says he will not speak to him or
notice his presence, wherever he may meet him. I
shall do as Allerton does."

" Is he a safe man for thee to follow? "

" He is as good a gentleman as any that live.
If he sit beside me, let the rest walk in God's name.
Ragel, I am tired, I have felt the day to be long
and hard."

" Then, I will call in the servants and thou can
read a short psalm, and we will soon find our
sleep. To-morrow, I must send Gus to Grave-


"But why?"

" To take to Agratha a little frock that was not
finished when she left this morning. She must
dress to her company, Paul. There is no help for
that. I hope she is fast on sleep by this time, and
I say to her : * Good-night, Agratha, and a happy
to-morrow to thee ! ' : Van Ruyven smiled and
though he did not speak, Madame knew her desire
had found an echo in his heart.



THE day that had been so unrestful to Paul and
Ragel Van Ruyven, had been a very pleasant one
to their daughter Agratha. The Wasp had
dropped leisurely along the coast to Gravesend,
where she arrived about sunsetting. This colony
with few exceptions was intensely English, and the
visit of an English battleship was an event stirring
every sentiment and prejudice of the race. Lady
Moody understood and sympathised with the
popular feeling, and it was at her request Captain
Schofield as they approached the wharf ordered
the English flag to the mast head. As it flew out
and above them, a mighty cheer broke forth, cheer
after cheer until the very air was vibrant.
Strong, bearded men stood bareheaded, flinging up
hats and caps to their shouts, and many women
were on their knees, sobbing hysterically, when
they could no longer speak. Amid this passionate
stress of feeling, Lady Moody with Lord Mclvar
and Agratha went on shore. Captain Schofield
was to remain on the ship, but Sir Henry Moody



was waiting to accompany his mother, and
Agratha and Lord Mclvar walked hand in hand
beside them.

There had been some delay in the landing, and
it was then graving dark, so Mclvar could see
little of his cousin's residence, except that it was
a large double stone house, with deep set diamond-
shaped windows, and a projecting roof. On three
sides there was a wide piazza, that in summer
time was covered with vines. It stood apart from
all other houses, within the high palisades, near the
northeast corner. His first impression was, that
it looked very like a fortress, and daylight proved
this impression to be a correct one. The door was
a ponderous affair, double, and both outer and
inner door heavily barred with iron. Very high
up were large bull's eyes, which admitted a little
light. But as soon as- this massive entrance was
passed, the house revealed a fine and comfortable
furnishing, that would have been astonishing, had
he not known that Lady Moody had brought with
her the moveable treasures of the old Moody
Manor House to adorn her home in the New

The entrance hall was wide, and like the halls of
most English manor houses ran through the whole
width of the building. It was in fact the modern
reception room, and contained two large fire
places, fur rugs, a sofa, some chairs and tables,
and a rack on which to hang hats and coats, whips,


spurs, and so forth. The walls were adorned
with great antlers of elk and deer, stuffed birds
and animals, guns, pistols, swords, a flag from
Naseby's battlefield, and many relics and curiosi
ties procured from the Indians. Opposite the
principal fireplace stood a large eight day clock,
which told not only the time of day, but also the
day of the month, the year, the phases of the
moon and other items relating to time.

On the right hand side of this hall was the guest
parlour, and Agratha was sitting there, when her
father and mother sent her their loving good
night. It was an exceedingly spacious room, so
spacious that on several occasions it had been used
as a citadel when the village was attacked by In
dians. Against the south wall there were shelves
containing the largest collection of books then in
America. They were mostly religious and histori
cal works, polyglots of Antwerp and Paris,
flanked by colossal theologians Augustine,
Jerome, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, etc.; natural
enemies in life, here bound over to good behaviour.
There was a Babylonion Talmud, and some dumpy
vellums of Dutch divines, with the more modern
works of Jeremy Taylor, Mr. Richard Baxter's
Demosthenic fervour, Howe's Platonic loftiness,
and John Bunyan's beatific visions. Most of the
early poets had a shelf to themselves containing the
works of the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyatt,
William Drummond, John Donne, Cowley, South-


well, Marlowe, Spencer, Fletcher, Shakespeare, and
John Milton.

All the rest of the available space on the walls
was covered with paintings, mostly portraits, but
each one so imbued with the life of the family they
represented, that they affected the living like per
sonal presences. A large sideboard shone with
silver and crystal, and there were soft large chairs
for resting in, and others of carved oak up
holstered in Spanish leather, and ornamented with
arabesques stamped in gold. Much fine china was
in the corner cupboards, and the floor was covered
with bright-coloured rugs. Nor was there want
ing bits of bric-a-brac, miniatures, crystal vases,
filagree, enamel and trinkets, and those little oddi
ties as necessary to a well-furnished room, as trim
mings are to a handsome gown.

A large fireplace tiled in the Dutch fashion held
a bright glowing fire, and Agratha basked in its
ruddy light, listening to the conversation of the
Moodys and Lord Mclvar. The young man was
asking Lady Moody why she had left England,
and her beautiful English home ; and she answered
with a quick decisiveness :

" That I might be a free woman that I might
manage my home without Star Chamber orders."

" But what had the Star Chamber to do with
your home, cousin. And where could you be freer
than in England? "

" In those days, Gael Mclvar, there was no pre-


tence of liberty. The King and Stafford derided
the idea. Even people of condition had to walk
in the King's harness. It was not tolerable. I
went up to my house in London one winter, and the
Star Chamber ordered me to return to my
manor, and look after the poor, and set them a
good example. I was a good Lady of the Manor
of Moody. I needed no one to tell me to be so,
least of all the infamous Star Chamber. Then
and there, I and my son Henry determined to sell
the estate, and come to America."

" But why did the Star Chamber interfere with
you : Had you been talking politics ? "

" I am of the blood and breed of Oliver Crom
well," she answered with a majestic pride, that well
became her boast. " Could I help wishing, as I
drank my birthday toast, that England might
again become free, and bold and prosperous? "

" Oh ! h h ! I see, cousin."

" And loving God with all my soul, could I help
going to St. Paul's Cross to hear George Fox tell
us about The Inner Light, and Doctor Calamut
make plain why Infant Baptism was not the rite
that Christ and John the Baptist sanctioned. I
had gone to London specially to hear the preach
ing at Paul's Cross. What right had the King to
interfere with my personal plans ? "

" I see, cousin. I see plainly why you were or
dered to leave London."

" Let me tell you, Gael Mclvar, one thing ; and


remember what I say : When a man and a woman
can neither drink the toast of their heart, nor lis
ten to the Word of God, by the mouth of such
holy men as they choose, I say they are slaves.
They are not free. For freedom is not an idea.
Freedom is a thing you can feel. It means noth
ing less than the full and quiet enjoyment of your
own opinions and your own property. If it does
not mean this, call yourself what you like, you are
a slave."

" For such freedom you have paid a great price,

" If I had given up all to the last farthing, I
must needs have done so. For Deborah Moody
sucked the milk of freedom, was nursed in the arms
of freedom, and stood between the knees of Hamp-
den and Cromwell. If she could forget or deny
their noble words and brave deeds, their watching
and suffering and God-given victories, she ought to
be buried in chains with her face downwards."
As she spoke she was transfigured, her eyes had the
light of immortality, her words were full of flam
ing passion, and the room felt as if it was on fire.
No one could help thinking of that other Deborah
that mother in Israel, singing triumphiantly un
der the great plane tree " My heart is towards
the governors of Israel, that offered themselves
willingly among the people. Bless ye the Lord! "
(Judges 5:9.)

There were a few moments of intensely sensitive


silence, then Sir Henry said in his soft, slow man
ner : " We are but the instruments of heaven,
Gael, our life and work is not of design, it is of

Gael did not immediately answer, and Lady
Moody added : " Heaven chalked the line that
brought us here, and knowingly we shall not step
to the right or the left outside of it."

Then Agratha stirred slightly; she felt that
Gael Mclvar was looking at her, and something
within made her uneasy at his regard. The next
moment she stood up and in the glow of red light
from the well-burned hickoi^ logs, the girl had a
bewildering loveliness, powerfully aided by the
dress she wore a dark green cloth skirt, just
showing evening shoes of scarlet Morocco, with
silver latches and little rosettes. The green
bodice over a white under bodice was fastened
down the front with crossed lacings of narrow
scarlet ribbon, and small bows of the same, and
in her loosened golden-brown hair there was a
larger bow, fastening the snood that kept it in
comfortable confinement. Even Sir Henry, though
his mind was busy with some religious problem of
Mr. Richard Baxter's, could not help dropping a
moment from the heights of a theological surmise
to a passing admiration for the purely physical
beauty on his own hearthstone. He was much
older than Gael Mclvar, but the younger man had
found out what Sir Henry with all his learning


had failed to discover that the key to life is not
in the brain but in the heart.

There was only a few moments' silence ere
Agratha said in a petulant tone: " Lady Moody,
I am tired and very sleepy. May I go away? I
want to be on the ice early to-morrow."

" To-morrow, child ! In what far off country
does to-morrow dwell ? " And Lady Moody looked
at the child almost sadly.

" Perhaps in the country that I dream is my
country. I do not think it is this world."

"What then, Agratha?"

" I know not, I am sleepy."

Her childish petulance had a tone of im
patience, and Lady Moody touched a small silver
hand bell.

" I will call Ladarine Gilpin," she said. " She
will get you all you desire."

In a few moments Ladarine appeared. She was
a North-Country English woman, taller than
Lady Moody, large limbed and very strong. Her
face was well shaped, and her complexion fine, her
eyes grey and bright, her hair black and plentiful,
most hidden under a Quakerish cap. She was
gowned in black camblet, and wore a white muslin
apron very much embroidered. It was Ladarene's
one vanity, and she could always find excuses for

" Ladarine," said Lady Moody, " Agratha is
tired and sleepy."


" God love her ! I should think she was. Chil
dren ought to be in bed long before this hour.
Come your ways with me, Dearie. Thanks be!
there is a good bed waiting for thee."

Agratha smiled tolerantly and with a courtesied
" good-night " she went towards the door, but
Lord Mclvar followed her in such haste that it
was opened when she reached it. Though but
nineteen years old, the dreamy wistful longing of
Love's luxurious woe had come to him, as it comes
to all. He was fathoms deep in love with this
childish Agratha. It was such an amazing event.
For his love had grown so insensibly, and yet so
fast, that he could not understand how so slender
an experience should imperatively make one soul
say to another soul " I love you." Yet he
knew that Agratha's image in his heart had be
come part of himself, and that for good or ill,
she must rule his life.

Agratha's feelings toward him were far more
indeterminate. She had been flattered by his at
tentions, and he had given her a taste of that
bitter-sweet social success, which had for a few
hours set her above all other women present. But
she was yet of that age when simplicity of heart
accepts and enjoys without troubling itself to
analyse causes, or anticipate results. This man
had been travelling unerringly his long journey
straight to her, but as yet her soul had not ac
knowledged him. His image was only on the


horizon of her thoughts she might be this, or she
might be that, but she was not in love with Gael
Mclvar ; for though he looked at her with eyes full
of love, there was nothing responsive in her

Her first words to Ladarine were of herself.
" I wish, Miss Gilpin," she said, " you would stop
calling me child; I am going out to parties with
my fader and moeder, now."

" To be sure. I see a bit of difference in thee,
but for goodness sake, Dearie, don't be scornful
about thy childhood. Happen it is the cream of
thy life."

" A child has to sit still and listen to whatever
people talk about, and I am so tired of Peter
Stuyvesant, and Oliver Cromwell."

" So am I, Dearie. I don't think much of
either of them."

" What time is it, Lada?"

" It is going up hill to ten o'clock."

" I thought so. It has been such a long day.
It seems like a year since I bid moeder good-bye.
I dare say she is thinking of me this very minute,
Lada. May I call you Lada ? "

" 1 will let thee do so, but I do not hold with
other people sa3 T ing Lada. I was baptised in As-
patria church, Ladarine, and I was entered in the
Baptism Register, Ladarine; so I am against my
name being broken in two. I don't like it. It is


out of the question I should. And Then Above
may not like it either."

" I called you Lada when I was a little girl."
" God love thee ! So thou did, and I must have
been a right good sort to let thee do it."

"You are just as good now, as then Lada!"
" To be sure I am, maybe I am a bit better.
Now whatever art thou wanting? "

" When I was a little girl, you used to say some
thing to me after the candle was put out Do you
remember? "

" To be sure I do."

" Say it to-night. I want to hear it again."
" Lie down then, and I will lap thee up, and say

So Ladarine put out the candle, and drew the
logs on the hearth together, and having lapped
Agratha in soft fleecy blankets, she took her hands
between her own, and said softly with her fine
North Country inflections:

" There are three angels round thy bed,
One at thy feet, two at thy head,
One to watch, and one to pray,
One to drive all ill away. Amen."

Then she tip-toed out of the room, for Agratha
Was already asleep or at least too far on the road
to that strange land to answer Lada's whispered
" good-night."


In the morning life looked different. The sun
was shining, and children laughing and talking in
the street. She thought of the ice, and of Lord
Mclvar's promise to go with her to the pond ; and
a shade of annoyance came over her face. She did
not like the idea of skating even with a lord who
might act foolishly, might even fall down.

" And Sir Henry is a very bad skater too," she
said ruefully to herself, " and I wish I had never
spoken about the pond."

But her fears on this subject vanished, as soon
as met, for when she told Mclvar of Captain Scho-
field's description of his ignorance, he laughed
heartily. " I was the best skater at Eton," he
said, " and Schofield is but a poor foot on ice.
He was afraid I would outdo him ; I must tell my
mother; I never heard her accused of such con
sideration for others, before."

Indeed Mvlvar proved himself very clever on
the ice, and Agratha had all the eclat she desired.
With an hour or two's interval at noon, they spent
the day on the pond, and were as happy together
as love and youth, skill and fine weather could
make them. About four in the afternoon,
Agratha saw Gus coming towards them.

" There comes our house-man," she said. " To
me he is coming. Moeder has sent me a letter no
doubt. Let us go and meet it."

The letter was in the man's hand, and she took
it eagerly. After she had broken the seal, she


looked up at Gus, and was going to ask him a

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 5 of 20)