Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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question but his face shocked her. It was white
as death, his eyes full of tears, his upper teeth
biting his under lip, his hands clasped tight.
From Gus she glanced to Mclvar, and saw that he
also was strangely moved. He was frowning, his
face was dark and angry, and yet there were tears
in his eyes also. The incident was rapid and
silent, the next moment Mclvar had recovered him
self. Then he asked Agratha, " If she wished to
write an answer to her mother's letter? "

" I have not read moeder's letter yet," she re

" Suppose we go back to the house, you must be
tired," he continued.

"Are you tired of the ice? " she asked.

" Yes until to-morrow."

Something had happened, the day was over, and
almost silently they walked home. Mclvar made
some efforts to talk, but they were failures; for
he felt that Agratha at that hour was not in his
life. He wished her away, that he might indulge
the passion that filled his heart with thoughts of
unspeakable calamities, and blood-thirsty but im
possible revenge. Gus walked silently behind
them, and Agratha noticed that Mclvar turned
his head several times, and that twice at least,
he swung his right arm backward, and though she
did not see the act, she felt positively that Gus
clasped it. She was oppressed by a sense of some

great sorrow, secret and hopeless, with whose bit
terness she might not intermeddle.

It was an unsatisfactory evening. Mclvar had
a private interview with Lady Moody after dinner,
and then went to his room, and she was very soon
left with Sir Henry, who was pottering among his
books looking for a mislaid volume. And when
Lady Moody joined them, she was full of strange

" Henry " she said, " Captain Underbill has
just called to tell me that a shipload of slaves has
arrived from the coast of Africa. Underbill,
Baxter and Hubbard are going in the morning to
New Amsterdam, to secure as many as possible
for Gravesend. They appeared to be much grati
fied. I know not what to say."

" Mother, we must have help to till the ground."

" We came here for Liberty, and how can we
justly enslave others?"

" Governor Stuyvesant thinks it unavoidable.
He will see that the Company gets its full share of
profit no doubt of that."

"Will you go with Underbill and Baxter?"

" No, I have no mind to do that. Who can talk
against Stuyvesant and Underbill? I should be
talked down, for my opinions are not current

As the conversation continued on this subject,
and there was no mention of Lord Mclvar,
Agratha soon wearied of it, and went to look for


Ladarine. She found her in a small room darn
ing stockings and singing.

" Talk to me, Ladarine," she said. " In the
parlour they talk of nothing but negroes, and
negroes are not interesting to me. Lord Mclvar
is not there, and he promised to teach me chess this
evening, and it is always the way."

" He should not have turned his back on a prom
ise, should he? "

" No. Has he gone to The Wasp? "

" Not he ! He went to his room."

" Did our house-man go with him? "

"Whatever art thou asking questions for?"

" I want to make you answer them."

"Then thou sets thyself too hard a job. It
isn't my time for answering questions."

" I think Lord Mclvar and Gus know each

" I wouldn't wonder. Men know lots of people
they have no business to know."

" Do you think Lord Mclvar will come to the
parlour again to-night? "

" I do not think he will. Thou might as well
go to bed."

" Do you think I would wait up to see him? "

" I know thou would."
, " I think you do not like Lord Mclvar."

" I don't dislike him. He is a bit proud, but
in the main, he is a good sort. I have nothing
against him, not I ! "


" I wish I could see him for a few min

"What for?"

" To bid him good-night. I want to go to

" Don't trouble thyself about good-nights. He
has other kinds of talk on hand at present. He
won't miss anybody's good-night."

" May I say good-night to you, Lada? "

" I would feel badly, if thou did not."

" Will you come upstairs with me, and call the
angels round my bed."

" To be sure I will. Happen they will keep
thee from thinking of Lord Mclvar."

" I do not think of him."

" That's right, I never would, if I were thee."

"What for?"

"Because he is bound to forget thee, as soon
as Gravesend is out of his sight."

" Many, many times, he has told me he would
never, never forget me."

"And I'll warrant, thou believes him."

" Yes, from his heart the words came."

" God love thee ! Thou art an innocent babe,
to think so well of any man." Then she put her
housewife in a little wooden work box, with the
Tower of London painted on the lid, and went up
stairs with Agratha. It was about her father,
and her mother, and her elder sister living at Al
bany, that Agratha talked as she undressed, but as


Ladarine was closing the door she called back and
whispered :

" If Lord Mclvar comes downstairs, tell him
Agratha left a good-night for him."

" My Dearie, I will not do that."

"Why not, Lada? "

" He is in trouble, and there is no use in bother
ing him with a fear he has neglected thee. He'll
make a mountain out of that mole hill. Sleep and
have a good day to-morrow. The Wasp sails the
next morning."

" Lada! who told you that? "

" Baxter told me. He was on The Wasp to
day. He hangs round Englishmen as if they were

" Good-night, Lada."

Then the door was closed, and Agratha was
alone with the unexpected news. She had been
told that the ship would sail on Saturday night,
and the change of date to Thursday was a shock.
She turned sharply over in her bed and said to
herself. " Not much do I care. Let him go,
Lada is right. He will never think of me again.
Well then, I will not think of him again, after The
Wasp is out of my sight."

This was her determination, but great changes
of feeling often take place during sleep, and
Agratha awoke in the morning with a strange
tenderness and sorrow in her heart. " It is our
last day," she murmured, " our last day ! I must

be kind to him to-day. Beside, he is in trouble,
and our Gus brought him the trouble. I will get
moeder to find out what it means No, I will ask
Gus one straight question when I go down stairs."

But when she told Ladarene she wished to send
a letter to her mother by Gus, she was informed
that Gus had gone to New Amsterdam at daylight.

" How did he go, Lada? " she asked.

" He went in Lady Moody's sloop, and Captain
Underbill, Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Baxter went with
him," was the answer.

" I am so sorry, Lada," said Agratha.

" There is no need to be sorry. Maybe it is a
good thing. Letters not sent, and words not said
are often fortunate things."

The words struck Agratha, and changed her in
tention so surely and rapidly, that ere she reached
the parlour she had positively resolved to keep
secret what she had intended to talk about.

" Till the right time comes," she thought, " till
the right time comes."

She was settled in this decision by the fact that
Mclvar ignored the whole circumstance. He said
he had had some important business to attend to
on the previous evening, and then he took her hand
and whispered sorrowfully : " This is our last day,
Agratha ! Stay with me ! "

She drew closer to him, but spoke no word. " I
am broken-hearted to leave you, darling, but I
shall come back, yes, I swear I shall come back.

Listen, Agratha, I am now over nineteen years
old, I am going to Trinity College, Cambridge, un
til I come of age, then you will be old enough to
be my wife. Oh, Agratha ! Oh, thou most sweet !
Then you will be my wife. You must know that
I am passionately in love with you, and past all
disguise. Upon my honour, Agratha, I am yours
to a degree beyond words. I feel, because I must
feel, that you love me a little. When I come back,
will you be my wife? "

" Without my fader and moeder's agreement, I
could not marry anyone. That is the truth."

" You sweet dissembler ! I will then ask your
father and mother for you. But now give me a
word of promise, from your own lips. Oh, my dear
Agratha, listen to me ! " and he poured out his
young passionate heart in such fervant words, as
drew her gently closer and closer to his side.

Agratha thought his tale of love to be some
thing quite new, and the ecstasy of his feelings
won her; all the more because they were tinged
with the sorrow of separation and uncertainty.
E is adoring, pleading glances, unbarred her heart,
her eyes mirrored his eyes, her hand clung to his
hand, and when at last he ventured to touch her
lips, she caught love from him in that one tender

For souls attract souls when of kindred vein,
and Gael's soul had at their first meeting rushed
towards Agratha's soul, drawn by some profound


and irresistible attraction. Their love was as yet
the magnetism of souls, it had no touch of mere
wantonness in it, and Gael Mclvar could say truly :

" Oh my Love ! My Love ! My j oy fills my
eyes with tears."

The day was a miserably wet one, and they
could not leave the house, but never again would
they spend hours so heavenly innocent and hal
cyon. They walked up and down the dim, quiet
room with clasped hands, and hearts full of the
serene stillness of a mutual love. They spoke
little, and that little in soft, short words. Be
tween them there was something better than
speech that perfect companionship, which finds
the loved one's presence sufficient.

Lady Moody and Sir Henry were both busy
interviewing the colonists and making a list of the
number and the kind of slaves each desired, and
Ladarine's house duties kept her sufficiently far
away. But their love-day, hour by hour came
inexorably to an end, and in the spacious firelit
room surrounded by the pictured presences of
the dead and the fading memorials of the Old
World everything they said became prescient,
wonderful, mysterious. To both, Love had given
to Life a new meaning; for there are certain feel
ings so deep in our nature, that only Love dare
venture down to them.

The next morning Gael Mclvar bid Agratha
fa'rewell. He did not attempt to hide his distress,


and at the last moment he kissed upon her lips
the words " Two Years ! Remember ! " She could
not answer. She stood white and tearful, unclasp
ing his hand, and the unfastening of that clasp
was a wrench she felt to be far more painful than
flesh and blood could account for. Hastily she
fled to her room, and from its window watched
The Wasp till she was only a speck on the horizon.

" Now it is all over ! " she whispered. " It is
all over! The world is empty, and I shall never
be happy again. Oh Gael ! Gael ! " and she threw
herself upon the bed, and wept bitterly and de

" Pray be kind to the child," said Lady Moody
to Ladarine. " She is in great trouble. Let her
talk to you, if she wishes."

" It is beyond wit to teach wisdom to a child
in love. What can a girl of fifteen know of
love? " asked Ladarene scornfully.

" In Faith, Ladarine, it is the girl of fifteen
who does know. To her Love is a heavenly thing.
I nearly died of Love when I was not quite fifteen."

"You! Oh my Lady, I-

" I nearly died of love."

" Well, I never ! I never, never, heard the like ! w

" Let me tell you, that at this present, I have
not forgotten the man. He was good, and he
grew to be great. My love for him is the sweetest
memory in my life. So be kind to Agratha. She
loved the young man better than she knew."


" I set little by him. He gave himself out as
a Lord who knows ? "

" I know. Be sure of that. He is a Lord, and
he may become a Duke. He is very rich, both in
land and gold. His mother has been saving and
scrimping for him ever since he was born. She
is also a prudent woman, Ladarene, and for his
sake kept on the right side in politics."

" Then she will not let him marry a poor Dutch

" How it will come about I cannot tell, but he is
sure to marry Agratha. He loved her the mo
ment he saw her. And he has taught her to love

" There's the rub. Women are a soft lot ! "

"Perhaps after all, Ladarine, it is just as well
they are. Were you never in love? "

" No. The only man in my village that I could
have loved, went and died."

" But there were other villages, and other men."

" No. In Oldsettle, where I come from, it is
Ourselves, to Ourselves. We don't marry Out
siders. We know better. It is hard to trust the
men you are brought up with, strangers are out
of the question. You never know what they will
be up to. Agratha will be the best off with her
mother when is she going home ? "

" I am going to New Amsterdam to-morrow.
She will go with me."

" Maybe, you are going to see the Governor."


" Yes."

" About the negro slaves ? "

" Yes."

" If it please you, my lady, bring no negroes
here. I cannot bear them."

" But you need help in the house."

" Not black help ! Praise God, I can do better
without it. But if you are going to take Agratha
home to-morrow, it is not worth my while spending 1
time talking to her; for I am up to my elbows in
work to-day, and hardly know which way to turn."

" Let me tell you, Ladarene, that Mary Busy
Body never wants a hard day, but Mary Drone
has God to bring and give her."

" I think it a shame for the Governor to start
that slavery business. He has honest irons
enough in the fire, without the devil's trade."

" The Governor is not to blame. The people
here at Gravesend, and at Flushing, and at all
the Long Island villages have been talking slavery
for two years to Governor Stuyvesant. The
Governor is a good man."

" Good, good, good ! but God keep my sheep
out of his pasture."

" He wishes to do right, Ladarine."

" To be sure. We all wish to do right. It's
the doing right that is more than we can manage,
but right or wrong, God help our aims ! Stuyves
ant may be bad, but shame to them who make bad
worse. That isn't Ladarine Gilpin's way."


The next morning was lowering and windy, but
the wind was favourable, and Lady Moody did not
alter her plans for wind or tide, unless it was an
imperative necessity. Agratha also was anxious
to see her mother. She was not sure that she
would tell her all that Lord Mclvar had promised ;
it was rather that strong human instinct, which
drives all men and women, when their hearts are
overwhelmed in sorrow, to the only human heart
that will never fail them.

So in spite of dark skies and troubled waters,
they embarked in Lady Moody's sloop, and ran
rapidly before the wind to New Amsterdam.
There was a little private wharf at the bottom of
Van Ruyven's garden and there they landed. It
was then about three in the afternoon, and Madam
Van Ruyven was just writing a letter to her
daughter, urging her to return. With a cry of
pleasure she rose when Agratha and Lady Moody
appeared, and immediately began to assist in the
removal of their wraps. All was in a happy con
fusion for a few minutes, then Agratha asked per
mission to go to her room and rest awhile. " I
have a headache, moeder," she said, " and I am
tired and sleepy with the wind."

Then Madame Van Ruyven asked Lady Moody
if she also would not like to rest for an hour, and
she answered cheerfully:

" In Faith, no, Madame. It will give me more
pleasure to talk awhile with you. I will sit by the


fire, and a cup of tea * will make me quite com

Over this cup of tea the ladies became confi
dential, which was Lady Moody's intention.
Madame hoped Agratha had pleased her ladyship
in all matters, and Lady Moody answered : " She
is a perfect child-woman. Her little faults even
are captivating, and for my own part, I am not
astonished that Mclvar has gone away in a dis
traction of love for her."

" I am sorry for the young man," answered
Madame. " Agratha's father will never permit her
marriage to an Englishman."

" He is Scotch, Highland Scotch."

" Not any better is that. Forgive me ! I have
heard he is your cousin."

" Only a far off cousin, but I know the youth
and his mother well. Agratha can never do bet
ter," and as she sipped her tea she explained all the
circumstances relating to the young Lord's char
acter and fortune."

Madame Van Ruyven listened with a visible dis
sent and annoyance* She did not like another
woman having made the first step in ordering her
daughter's destiny. She told herself that was her
own privilege, and there was a certain young
Jonkeer at the Hague, the son of a friend of her
own youth, whom in her heart she had chosen for

The use of tea at this time was not general, but rich peo
ple, or those having influence with the East India Company,
received small packages as a great favor


Agratha's husband. So she listened coldly to
Lady Moody's talk of a possible dukedom, and
high court patronage, and answered with such
prudent reserve, that Lady Moody was astonished,
and perhaps a trifle offended. She was also sorry
she had taken any step beyond the first civilities,
and she wisely turned conversation to the subject
passionately interesting the whole community
the introduction of negro slaves.

" There was a deputation from Gravesend yes
terday to confer with the' Governor," said Lady

" That is so," answered Madame. " They saw
the Governor this morning, and my husband told
me they had come to high words. Captain Under-
hill said all he thought, and 'tis well known what
kind of things Captain Underhill usually thinks.
People ought to keep their tempers, that is what
I say."

" Two years ago all the villages on Long Island
petitioned the Governor for negro slaves," said
Lady Moody. " I read their petition. They
complained that they were too much fatigued by
work, and asked for an importation of negroes
for whom they promised to pay ' whatever price
the Governor will order.' '

" Well then, it was about the price they came
to words. My husband says it is easy to come to
words with men like Underhill, Baxter and James


" I grant it, yet these three men know how to
choose their words for the occasion. What was
wrong with the price, Madame? "

" Well then, it was not the price of the negro,
but the tax of six dollars a head, which Stuyvesant
put on for the West India Company. Underbill
said it was too much, and that the burghers would
like to know who received the six dollars a head,
on the three or four hundred negroes, and Stuy
vesant answered : ' I have told you already the
Company claims it. Are you fools, asses, idiots,
that you don't understand me,' he cried. Then
Underbill asked how much of the six dollars went
to the Company, and how much went to the Com
pany's servants. And Stuyvesant flew into a
screaming rage, and threatened imprisonment and
fines and so on you know."

" Yes. Does any of the six dollars go to the
Company's servants ? "

" Mr. Baxter said they had information that
four dollars out of every six went to Governor
Stuyvesant. And the Governor stamped, and
swore, and declared they had heard the truth for
once. Then Underbill vowed the Company ought
to know what extortions and crimes were done in
its name. You see how it would be, Lady Moody,
and why the Governor called them snarling dogs,
barking with envy, because they could neither beg,
nor steal a share in the six dollar tax. Then two
halbadiers hearing the noise and confusion came


into the room, and the Governor bid them ' away
with these whimperings, quarrelsome fellows ! Put
them outside, and let them howl to the winds.
The rest is not fit for women to talk about. No

" Nor for men, either," answered Lady

" Now these three men are going from wharf to
wharf, and from store to store, raising up anger
and disturbance."

" In truth, Madame, men like not to be called
dogs, and told to howl to the winds. Trust me,
they will find ears that will listen to their com

Yes, I think that."

" And I am glad to have heard this much from
you, Madame, for I must now go at once to Gover
nor Stuyvesant, or Gravesend will lose her share
of whatever help has arrived. That would be a
great loss, for Spring will soon be here, and make
it very needful."

Lady Moody found the Governor and his family
just sitting down to their evening meal. They
were delighted to see her, and the Governor him
self placed her seat by his side. She immediately
began her petition for slaves to till the fields of
the Gravesend settlers. " I do fear without them,
Governor," she declared " we shall raise neither
corn nor wheat."

" In my judgment, Lady Moody, such men as


visited me this morning from Gravesend ought to
be made to till their own ground, or starve ! "

" I am sorry, Governor, that you were troubled
by their ill-conditioned words. Do not punish
me because of their lack of good breeding."

" You shall have all your necessity asks for,
OLady Moody, and I will deal as generously as pos
sible with your colony ; but Underbill, Baxter and
Hubbard, shall not have one man, woman or child.
I will not suffer them."

" They must blame themselves in this matter,

" I am made the burden-bearer of all New
Netherland. This is the plain truth, but I know
the sort of men I have to deal with, and before
heaven and earth, I will drive my will through their
teeth ! Such barefaced things as they said to me,
and have since been saying up and down the city,
is intolerable. They lay too much weight on my
patience. They are a danger to the Company. I
will hang them without word or warrant."

" Now, Peter," said Madame Stuyvesant, " eat
thy meal in peace, or it may prove a poison to thee.
'Lady Moody will settle thy quarrel with those
three men."

"In Faith I will!"

" They are slandering dogs ! Base, beggarly
rebels, and traitors."

" Traitors ! Oh no, Governor, I hope not."

" Yes they are. I will swear it before all men.


They are English spies. They are colleagueing
with England at this hour. Underhill vowed, in
one of his heats, he would fly the flag of St George
over this Fort. And the Yankees are with him
every mother's son of them so also is Hartford
and Connecticut and I can tell you, my lady, the
Long Island villages are not to be depended on.
To all of them we are what the Yankees called
us * their noxious neighbours.' I know; I know.
If I did what I ought to do, I would send Under
hill, Baxter and Hubbard to England to-morrow,
in a leaking ship. I would like to do it."

" But for my sake, Governor, you will look over
their offence. When I return home I will talk
with them."

" They shall not have a single slave."

" In that, Peter," said Mrs. Bayard, " thou witt
be doing good to thine enemies, which is a notable
grace in thee. For I take leave to say, enslaving
men and women is a great sin."

" A sin of necessity, Anna."

" There are no sins of that kind, Peter. Sin
is sin, and the man who sins, he shall die."

" They would die, no doubt, if women had judg
ment in their power. But Anna, the Lord is a
man of war, and He knows how hard it is for an
old soldier to endure civilians, who have never
learned what decent control and obedience to their
Governors mean. And the Lord is the Governor
among all the nations, and you may be sure that


He has His own troubles with such men as head
strong, idolatrous Jews, and haughty, domineering

"And what of Dutchmen, Peter?" asked
Madame Bayard.

" Dutchmen, Anna, if let alone, are easy-going
and good-tempered. All they want is peace and
good-will, and plenty of time to be happy with
their families, and to make some money. Minuet
and Van Twiller were governors in a Dutch Gol
den age, here in New Amsterdam. I am like poor
David, I so j ourn in Mesech, and dwell in the tents
of Kedar."

" Well then, Peter, all the more thou ought to
be forbearing and forgiving."

" Anna Stuyvesant Bayard, I do not pretend to
have thy natural grace. If I can keep step with
King David, I do well enough, and David not only
reproved his enemy Doeg, he prayed against him ;
prayed, that his lying lips and false tongue might
be smitten with sharp arrows, and coals of juniper.
Thou ought to read thy Bible more carefully,
Anna. I have to correct thee too often," and he
smiled at Anna with a domineering self-approval,

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 6 of 20)