Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 8 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 8 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


were anxious to get outside the precincts of the
Fort, and discuss the affair. They had been led,
almost against their will, into cheering a great
Dutch disaster, and they did not see, as Stuyves
ant did, the tremendous moral victory Van Tromp
had gained. Moreover, they were puzzled by
Stuyvesant's declaration that " the glory of a
nation, though a great thing, was not as great
as the glory of its humanity."

'* He talked some nonsense this afternoon,"
said Abraham Blankaert.

" He talked like the Domine," said Philip Wol-
fert, " and I have heard say he did some studying
for the pulpit."

"What is talk worth?" asked Jacob Styvart.
*' We have lost some ships eleven big men of
war. Think of that, brothers."

"Think also," said Martin Snyder, "that if
we have lost eleven big ships, we have saved Van



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 133

Tromp. Would we any of us be willing to let
the English get him for eleven big ships? No.
Then we have the best of it. Plenty more ships
we can build, but as for Van Tromp he is a man
by himself. We did well to cheer, I say that."

This circumstance supplied the little city with
conversation for a long time. It grew in im
portance, and men quarrelled about it, both on the
streets and in their homes. The Van Ruyvens
did not escape its influence. Paul Van Ruyven
had been in his youth a classical student, he was
touched by Stuyvesant's attitude, and comparing
Van Tromp's action with the great patriotic deeds
f antiquity, he found it superior to all. Agratha
took with enthusiasm her father's view, both of
Stuyvesant and Van Tromp, but Ragel was pro-
vokingly indifferent.

" Van Tromp is a fighter by trade," she said,
" and boarding and blowing up ships is in his con
tract. When Dr. Campbell went to that case of
smallpox, he took his life in his hand, but nobody;
went mad about Dr. Campbell doing his duty.
For my part I can find no good sense in blowing
up a ship full of men."

" It was a great and good deed, Ragel, and
Stuyvesant thought and said so."

" Stuyvesant ! " she cried scornfully. " All
Stuyvesant's great and good men are soldiers."

" His stand by Van Tromp's defeat was a fine
lesson to the English and others."



" The English do not need the lesson not
they. Often thou hast said they always go for
the under dog in the fight. The French smile
and shrug, and pay some compliments. They,
admire any foolish, reckless thing. The Scotch
are shocked at the waste of property and life.
I know! I have heard half a dozen women talk
ing, and they always say what their husbands
teach them."

" They are good women and good wives," said
.Van Ruyven.

" They may be. God knows."

" And Scotch men are good fighters," he con
tinued.

" They may be. God knows. I know they
don't like fighting on water, it is too moveable
and uncertain, and they don't like fighting with
gunpowder, it is too responsive to defeat and
bad temper. Hector McAslin told me they want
a hillside and a fixed bayonet. He said he would
not put his trust in anything but cold steel, and
that cold steel held in his own hand."

" Generally speaking, I stand with thee, Ragel,
but in this case I stand with Stuyvesant."

" Well then, I think very little of thy stand
ing. For I take leave to say and well thou
knowest I speak the truth that Stuyvesant's
shout for Van Tromp's defeat was just to shame
the men who thought the tax on their beer of more
consequence than the safety of their city."



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 135

In this kind of restlessness and dissatisfaction
the weeks and months passed. Nothing was cer
tain but the discontent of the people with their
Governor, and this feeling rose to such a height
that in the month of December a great popular
meeting was held in New Amsterdam to consider
their grievances. To this meeting Brooklyn,
Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, Newton, Flush
ing and Hempstead sent representatives, earnest
and liberty-loving men. They demanded only
what had been promised them the laws and privi
leges of their Fatherland. Stuyvesant winced
under the oppressions laid before him, but he
made neither excuses nor promises.

" Let the men of Brooklyn, Flatbush and Flat-
lands go back to their homes," he cried angrily.
" They have no right here. They have no juris
diction here. They cannot send delegates to any
popular assembly. I will not have such doings.
I will not ! It is treason ! Treason ! and nothing
short of it."

" Governor Stuyvesant, we respectfully ask
that the grievances just shown you be redressed,"
said James Hubbard.

" Fools ! Idiots ! Do you not know that those
two words, ' grievances redressed,' always please
the mob, and always cheat them? While Peter
Stuyvesant is Governor of New Netherland, there
will be no mob rule in politics. God knows the
next thing would be mob rule in religion, and the



136 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

city would be overrun by Quakers and Baptists,
Jews and Lutherans, and the devil's own brood
of every name. It shall not so be! I will not
permit it! Peter Stuyvesant will not permit it!
My office would indeed be a despicable thing, if
a rabble like this could make and unmake laws and
rulers. Your grievances are a pack of lies, and
you are sap-headed fools to complain of them."

" Governor Stuyvesant ! " said Captain John
Underbill, " we are respectable citizens, and
not a rabble. We are thoughtful, earnest men,
and not idiots and sap-headed fools, and our
grievances must be attended to, or we will know,
the reason why."

" Captain Underbill ! " shouted Stuyvesant,
rising to his feet and striking the table passion
ately, " Captain Underbill, I know well that this
meeting is your doing. Go to your home, and
keep quiet and behave yourself, or you will soon
be in a much worse place. And you and every
other person present may learn now, and for all
future time, that I derive my authority from God
and the Company, not from a few ignorant sub
jects, and that I, Peter Stuyvesant, and I alone,
can call the inhabitants of this colony together.
And I advise you all to let my just and lawful
authority stand between you and rebellion." Then
in ringing tones that smote men's ears like a lash,
he shouted, " I command this delegation to dis
perse on the pain of my highest displeasure ! "



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 137

" Governor," answered James Hubbard, " we
obey your commands." Then facing the dele
gates, he continued: "Friends and neighbours, I
will give you a word from above, to think on as you
go to your homes," and he spoke with a distinct;
and almost inspired intonation as follows:

66 And the Lord said unto Moses, ' wherefore
criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children
of Israel that they go forward.' "

So in a tumult of indignant speech, the assem
bly broke up. Stuyvesant appeared indifferent,
but the advice of Hubbard was immediately fol
lowed. The Gravesend magistrates wrote to the
States General, Martin Creiger, George Baxter
and fifty others appealed to the burgomasters and
schepens of the City of Amsterdam, and an ear
nest general petition was sent to the West India
Company. The underhand policy of the Com
pany may be learned from one sentence in the
letter which they sent to Stuyvesant at this time :
" You must act with more vigour, and punish re
fractory subjects as they deserve. Enforce your
authority, so that these men no longer indulge the
visionary dream that contributions cannot be
levied without their consent." Numberless small
annoyances arose constantly from these condi
tions to embarrass the Governor, and if he had
been a man of less firmness and decision of char
acter, he must have utterly failed to carry on the
government.



138 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

Fortunately Christmas was approaching, and
the city forgot its grievances in the joy of its
preparation for the feast. For Christmas was
in New Amsterdam a very great and happy event ;
so much so, that the Common Council interdicted
all ordinary meetings of the board between De
cember the fourteenth and three weeks after
Christmas also directing the Court Messenger
" not to summon any person in the meantime."
As a general thing all political wrongs and all
private animosities were forgotten, and for five
or six weeks New Amsterdam gave itself freely to
feasting, dancing, skating, and unstinted hospi
tality.

On the twenty-second of December, Agratha,
having finished the decoration of her own home,
started early for the Fort, in order to assist
Madame Bayard in beautifying its gloomy pre
cincts. She promised her mother to return home
early, but the day wore on and Agratha did not
return. When it was four o'clock, the mother
became uneasy, and she was just about to send
Gus to the Fort to make inquiries, when the girl,
rosy with the frosty air, and eager and glad with
the news she brought, returned.

" Oh moedcr, moeder ! " she cried j oyf ully, " I
have had such a happy day."

" Well then, thou hast made it a long day. I
was uneasy about thee."

" I will tell thee, moeder, and thou also will be



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 139

glad ; so strange ; so unexpected ! I never hoped !
I never thought of such a good thing."

She was untying her hood and cloak with quick,
nervous fingers as she spoke, and she flung them
carelessly down on a chair near at hand. " Sit
quiet a little while, moeder, it will be so pleasant
to tell thee what has happened."

"Well then?"

" When I got to the Fort this morning, the.
Governor and Madame Stuyvesant were sitting
with Lady Moody and a strange woman, and they
seemed very happy."

" A strange woman ! What kind of a woman ?
How old was she? "

" I think as old as Wim's wife ; she says she is
twenty-seven. She came from Canada. She
could not bear the cold there."

" No wonder ! Is she a Canadian? "

" Indeed she is not ; she is either English
or French. She speaks both languages per
fectly."

" Then what in heaven or earth took her to
Canada? "

" She went there with an officer's family as gov
erness to their children and the children could not
bear the cold, and so she brought them to their
aunt in Boston. Then she resolved to come still
further south, and several people who had known
Lady Moody when she lived in Boston, gave her
letters of introduction to Lady Moody. She



140 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

came to New Amsterdam two weeks ago, and so
direct to Gravesend, where she has been resting
herself until yesterday. Then she came with
Lady Moody to the Stillwells', and at the Still-
wells' she will spend Christmas."

" All this is very fine, Agratha, but as to the
truth of it, who knows ? "

" The Governor. He had a letter from the
Colonel of the Canadian regiment, and in it he
said many good things of the stranger. Also he
asked him to be kind to her and give her assist
ance in any way he could and so."

" I never heard anything like it."

" Now she is going to remain in New Amster
dam and open a school here for young ladies,
like me."

" And pray, what can she teach thee? "

" Many things, moeder, that I want to learn
to speak the French, to play on the Spanish
mandolin, to read music as I read a book."

" And she can teach thee these things ? "

" These and many other things, moeder, all the
new embroideries, tatting and tambour work.
She can teach also the Court courtesy, and the
proper manner of entering and leaving a room
the newest French and Spanish dances and
moeder, Lady Moody says she can make the fash
ionable hoods and hats and stomachers, and also
show us how to dress our hair in all the fashion
able ways now in use."



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 141

" I think she knows too much. Where could
she have learned all these things ? "

" In the French convents and the London
schools ; and moeder, out of thin sheets of white
and colored wax, she can make flowers that look
as if you pulled them out of the garden."

" Tell me no more, Agratha. I will not be
lieve that any woman can do so many fine things.
And if thou wants to learn this, or that, from
this stranger, name not in thy fader's presence,
French convents. He will not believe that any
thing but evil could come out of them. London
schools are different, we have spoken of them al
ready for thee."

" If you could have seen her dress the dingy
rooms, moeder. So quick, so sure, went her fin
gers. It was like a miracle. Such garlands !
Such stars and crosses! She had brought some
wax with her, and she made mistletoe boughs, and
pink rosebuds, and cut little English daisies out
of white paper, and put them among the green
leaves; and, oh moeder, the old Fort is beyond
everything! Even the governor stayed to watch
her, and she told him that on Christmas morning
he must order his soldiers to stack arms in the
court, and she would make garlands of laurel
leaves and lilies to throw over them. And the
Governor shouted with pleasure, and so it will
be."

" What is the name of this wonder? "



A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

" Her name is Finlay, but Lady Moody called
her Rose."

" Is she going to take a house ? Where will
she keep her school? "

"Much talk was on that subject. Madame
Stuyvesant thought she had better take a floor in
some respectable house, and she spoke of Mrs.
Van Dam. You know, moeder, Mrs. Van Dam is
poor, and Madame thought she would be glad to
rent a floor in her big house. That would be a
great thing for Elsie Van Dam. Moeder, I prom
ised if you would let me, to take Miss Finlay to
Mrs. Van Dam's in the morning."

" I will not let thee do anything of the kind.
Why should Agratha Van Ruyven go about with
a strange women who wants rooms, and who in
tends to keep a school? Thy fader would be very
angry."

" I am so sorry. She is so sweet and clever.
And she has no friends here."

" Well then, she ought not to have left her
friends."

" Perhaps, moeder, she had none to leave
perhaps they were all dead. Her fader was an
officer, and died on the battlefield. Madame Stuy
vesant told me so."

" That may be. I know not. Thou must tell *
thy fader all this story, and see what he says.
He will know what thou ought to do."

" Moeder, you must help me ; fader will do in



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 143

the long run all you say. And I want to learn
everything Miss Finlay can teach me. I want to
be a clever woman, the same as she is. Yes,
moeder, let me have my wish."

" That is nonsense. There is no need for thee
to be a clever woman. Thy fader is a rich man,
and there may be money coming in some other
ways to thee. Perhaps thou may be a rich



woman.

M



Art thou thinking of Lord Mclvar ? "

" Well then, suppose I was ? "

" It would be wiser not to think of him. Since
he went away he has forgotten me."

" Thou art mistaken. He will never forget
thee."

At this moment Paul Van Ruyven opened the
door. He brought the spirit of Christmas in
with him ; he looked ten years younger than usual.
And as he ate his supper he listened to Agratha's
story with interest, but without enthusiasm. He
was wondering all the time how much of it was
true, and for what purpose the woman, friend
less and alone, had come to New Amsterdam. Her
reasons were plausible, but not convincing.
Madame perceived his doubts at once, and asked:

" Art thou thinking Miss Finlay has not told
us the truth, Paul? "

" No, I believe what she says is the truth, but
I think there is some more truth behind what she
has told."



144 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

" The Governor and Madame seem to be quite
satisfied."

" The Governor and Madame after all, are
mere mortals. That the woman spoke French
would be enough for Madame Stuyvesant, and her
clever fingers and clever advice to stack the arms
of the soldiers, and crown them with Christmas
symbols of peace and good-will, would be all Stuy
vesant would require. If she is as pretty, as well
as clever, then "

" I never thought of that. Is Miss Finlay
pretty, Agratha? "

" No, she is not pretty."

"Handsome, then? Tall and stately?"

" No, moeder. She does not look like Eliza
beth Anthony, or Lady Moody. She is not tall,
and not stately. She is small, and in her move
ments quick and graceful. Her hair is veryj
black, and fastened with an ivory comb. Her
face is sweet and pale, and her lips smiling; but,
oh moeder, her large black eyes are full of sorrow
and sadness. I could not bear to look into them.
If she was alone, I am sure she would neither speak
nor smile, and now and then she forgets herself
for a minute, then remembers and suddenly be
comes gay and laughing. I noticed these things,
because I felt so sorry for her."

" How was she dressed ? Was she shabby ? "

" Very well she was dressed, and you might at
once see that her frock and cloak had been made



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 145

in Paris. They were of dark blue cloth, and
quite plain so plain as Lady Moody's but they
fit her, and she has a beautiful figure. She is so
sweet and loveable. I am sure she will have many
scholars; and I hope, dear fader, Agratha may
be one of them."

Then Paul rose, and standing on the hearth
rug with his back to the fire, he drew his daughter
within his right arm. " Agratha," he said, " at
first you may take two studies with Miss Finlay
no more. When you are eighteen we intend to
take you to the Hague; at nineteen you will go
to Paris; at twenty to London, and soon after
your twenty-first birthday we shall bring you
back to New Amsterdam. Now then, what two
studies will you take? "

" The French language will be useful, if I am
to go to Paris."

" Just so. Learn French, then."

" And I would like to learn the mandolin. I
should soon be able to sing all the sings you love,
fader."

" Very well. That settles the matter. One
thing I tell thee women often love each other
foolishly. Be careful of thyself. Though this
Miss Finlay is young, well educated, and fashion
ably dressed, I think it likely she has had some
great sorrow. Now often I have heard the Do-
mine himself say that God so directs things, that
orthodoxy and a good life lead to happiness and



146 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

wealth. So then, if a person is in trouble, it is
likely they have not cared properly for God and
His commandments ; and when people weep a great
deal, they are usually of a discontented temper.
We are a religious family, my Agratha. We
make no friends with Lutherans, or any other
schismatic, and if this strange woman is from
Paris, she may even be a papist."

" You think of everything, dear fader."

" That comes from my experienec, Agratha,
and where my principles are concerned, I am im-
moveable."

" Fader, can I go with Miss Finlay to Mrs.
Van Dam's to-morrow? She wishes to rent a floor
in her house."

" No."

" But why not, fader? "

" I do not think it respectable for thee to do
so. Take thy lessons, and I will pay the price.
Perhaps, however, there may be no lessons. Who
knows how New Amsterdam may receive the young
woman? "

" Lady Moody "

" Well then, Lady Moody is not omnipotent."

" The Governor "

" Never pleases anyone, no matter what he
does."

" Then he ought to please himself," said Agra
tha, with some temper.

" He does, he always has done, and if God Al-



THUS RAN THEIR WORLD AWAY 147

mighty does not interfere, he always will
do." '

Then Madame called in Gus to clear the table,
and so make the little confusion necessary to close
a conversation going too far. And she was a
trifled annoyed, because her daughter had not
shown that wisdom, or tact, which perceives the
right moment to end a subject.

A little later she pointed this out to Agratha.
" When thou hast got all that is likely, know
enough to stop asking," she said. " Wait till this
strange woman redeems her promises, then try
again."

" I shall be wasting time, moeder."

" Other things also can be wasted. Be con
tent with what has been given thee. It is more
than I expected."

In a month, however, Miss Finlay had more
than redeemed her promises. She had the aris
tocracy of New Amsterdam at her feet. She had
classes for dancing and music, for needlework and
deportment, and a large class learning the mys
teries of making head coverings and stomachers,
and the secrets of hair dressing. In her own way
she dictated many social events, and when the
birthday of the city came round, on the second
of February, she carried out with marvellous
success a public reception, the startlingly large
proceeds of which were a birthday gift to the city's
poor.



148 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

In this entertainment the very best citizens
took part. The handsome Jacob Kip and his
lovely fiancee danced a little Saracenic drama,
enlivened by castanets and a tambourine the
Anthonys, Van Cortlandts, De Peysters, Stillwells,
De Silles, and many others took part in the even
ing's amusement, which was opened with a minuet
by Councillor Van Ruyven and his daughter
Agratha. It called forth extravagant praises
and delight. Indeed, the handsome Van Ruyven
in full dress was a man any city might be proud
of, and when he stepped out with his beautiful
daughter, there was not only astonishment, but
unaffected pride and pleasure in their appear
ance, skill and grace.

This circumstance alone indicated how far
Miss Finlay had made good her promises in about
five weeks. " God has worked a miracle in my;
affairs," she said to Lady Moody on the morning
after the entertainment, but how great a miracle,
she did not then know, or even anticipate.



CHAPTER SIX

THE BONDMAN

IF there was any Golden Age of the Dutch in
America, it was at this time. They were making
money rapidly, they had large, commodious
homes and gardens, they dressed splendidly, they,
ate and drank luxuriously, and their consciences
were comfortably at ease in Zion, since they be
lieved that all these good things were the result
of their precise obedience to the demands of the
old Reformed Dutch Church, bcause God so di
rected all affairs, that this obedience led to wealth.

Nothing troubled the burghers of New Am
sterdam but the tyranny of headstrong Peter ; and
as they fought it tooth and nail, it is likely they
found it a pleasant alternative to lives so steeped
in prosperity and satisfaction that they required
some annoyance to serve as salt or condiment to
their placid existence. At any rate, it kept their
better part awake and on the watch, and a meet
ing of the Town Council with Peter Stuyvesant
in the chair where he had no business to be
was a very stimulating affair, one that was gen
erally accepted and enjoyed by every city official.

For days after such a meeting, they were alert
149



150 A MAID OF OLD NEW YORK

and active. They talked valiantly against Stuy-
vesant and his tyrannies and impositions, but they
did not for all their hard words dislike him. On
the contrary, they admired his tempers, and won
dered at his wealth of scurrilous, insulting, of
fensive, insolent reproaches and revilings, in
Latin and Dutch and English.

" You can bring no argument, however just,
which can stand the words in three languages that
he flings at it," said Van Winkle; " he stones it to
death with them."

" I should think not," answered Van Brunt.
" We all know what talkers the English are ; well
then, they are hoarse with barking at Stuyvesant,
and he minds nothing they say."

" He has the gift of impudence," explained
Jacob Snedecor, " and he may be thankful that
every man has not the like talent."

" Come, come, he is Dutch, he is our own. He
might help us yet."

" So he might, Van Winkle, if he was not so
busy helping himself."

" Well, then, Snedecor, there is no sin in a
man caring a little for himself. We must all fol
low the good example our Governor sets us," and
the little group laughed, and went each his way
to his own particular method of helping himself,
and not one of them in his heart thought hardly
of the autocratic Director Peter Stuyvesant.

To Agratha this was a very happy period. She



THE BONDMAN 151

gave to Miss Finlay that great affection, which
good girls so frequently give to a teacher whom
they honour and admire; and to her new studies
the enthusiasm and delight of a willing student.
From the dumb strings to bring sweet music, that
in its turn drew from her heart the song lying
asleep there, was a kind of a miracle to the child
woman. She watched her fingers with a curious
pleasure, and when the song flew from her lips
she laughed aloud with joy. And almost equally
delightful was the sound of the strange tongue.
She chattered the simple phrases as she learned
them to her father and mother; and they praised
her cleverness, and both agreed that she might as
well as not join the sewing and embroidery class.


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 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 8 of 20)