Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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The attendance on this class was in the after
noons, and one day she stayed beyond its hours,
to finish a piece of work she wished to take home
with her. Quite unexpectedly it began to rain,
and in half an hour Gus came to the Van Dams'
house with a cloak and pattens for Agratha.
Hand in hand she went with Miss Finlay down
the stairs to the front hall, where Gus was wait
ing, and there, suddenly as a flash of lightning,
Rose Finlay threw up her hands and uttering an
unintelligible cry, fell to the floor.

Then Agratha's call of terror quickly brought
Madame Van Dam and her daughter Elsie. Rose
Finlay lay unconscious. Agratha knelt weeping
at her side, and Gus, having opened the door,


leaned shivering against the lintel, his face as
white as that of a dead man.

" Run for a doctor," said Madame to Gus, and
no one, unless it was Agratha, noticed the Celtic
pathos of his face and figure, as he stumbled out
into the dim light and pouring rain.

Probably he met the doctor on the street, for
within ten minutes he was at Rose Finlay's side.
She was just recovering consciousness, and he
said to her:

" You have had a great fright."

Rose made a motion of denial.

" A great shock then?"

** No," she whispered.

"What then?"

" I can't say."

" Where do you come from ? "

" The Hebrides."

" I thought so. Second sight, eh? "

" Perhaps."

" You must rest two or three days."

" No, there is no need."

" Take your own way then. You know.**


" Come, Miss Van Ruyven. I will bring you
home in my gig. Your man is already there. I
sent him, for he was wet through and looked as
if he had seen a spirit. Queer. Very queer ! "

This event was discussed with much interest at
the Van Ruyven supper table. Men had no even-


ing papers in those days, and the gossip of the
city related by their woman reporters was a pretty
good substitute. Agratha described the affair
with faithful detail, and her father listened at
tentively, then he asked:

" Do you think Gus had anything to do with
that fainting fit ? "

"No, fader, nothing at all. How could he?"

" And it was not fright or shock? "

" She said it was not, fader."

" And the doctor called it Second Sight. What
did she say to that? "

" She said ' perhaps.* "

" Mind what I tell you, Agratha, there is no
such thing as Second Sight."

" Lady Moody told me that it is named in the
Holy Scriptures, fader."

" Lady Moody is wrong. It is not named hi
the Bible, or it would be named in the Creed and
the Catechism. Archie Campbell is a clever doc
tor, but he is clean mad about some things; yes
indeed, quite crazy."

" There is no need to bring the Holy Scrip
tures, or even Second Sight into a woman's faint
ing fit," said Ragel Van Ruyven scornfully; "ft
poor little mouse is enough. Last year, as Mary
Deventer was coming down stairs a mouse crossed
her foot, and she fainted and fell down stairs,
and broke her arm for a mouse ! "

" I feel sure you are right, moeder," said


Agratha. " What does make women afraid of a
mouse? "

Paul Van Ruyven laughed aloud. " It is their
way," he answered. " Mary Deventer is a timid
little woman afraid of a mouse, and Tom De-
venter is the biggest, strongest man in New Am
sterdam, yet Tom is afraid of Mary, and Mary is
not afraid of Tom, though she faints if a mouse
crosses her foot."

" Let me tell you, fader, that Tom Deventer
would faint if a mouse ran up his leg."

" No, he would not."

" Then he would have cursed, and stamped and
yelled like a man gone out of his good senses, and
the whole house would have been turned upside
down to find the little animal. It is decenter to
faint. It is what I should do."

" There are no mice strolling about the Van
Ruyven house," said Ragel Van Ruyven ; " if
there was, I should send a cat after them."

" Doctor Campbell has acted very foolishly,"
said Van Ruyven. " He has given fainting a new
name, and every woman will have an attack of the
Second Sight. He must be advised on the mat
ter. I shall tell him to infer a little against its
morality and respectability."

" Oh no, dear fader, you must not do that. It
would injure Miss Finlay."

" Well then, Agratha, she should not introduce
such unnatural troubles."


" Bring the Scriptures, and call in the maids,"
said Madame, " this conversation is unprofitable,
and not even interesting."

At the Fort on the following day, Agratha had
to tell the story over again, and the Governor
was just as angry with Doctor Campbell as Van
Ruyven had been.

" Second Sight ! " he cried with an angry scorn.
" Such snaffling, puddling folly ! I'll teach Camp
bell to stick to his pills and lancets. If he does
not, I will take his diploma from him."

" Peter," said Anna Bayard, " you cannot take
Doctor Campbell's diploma from him. He has
it from the University of Glasgow."

" Do I care for the University of Glasgow if
there is such a place? Glasgow is only a big
weaving shop. I don't believe in her University.
I shall take Campbell's diploma from him if he
invents any more irreligious, irrational, prepos
terous names for women to get sick under. Sec
ond Sight! Second Sight!" he shouted, "I'll
have no Second Sight in New Netherland ! " and
to this passionate declaration, he stamped out
of the room.

The women looked at each other, and Madame
Stuyvesant said, " My poor Peter ! He feels
everything so sharp, so strong! It is his way."

" There is no reason for him to .eel everything
as if it was the only thing in the world. It is a
bad way," said Madame Bayard.


Then Agratha, in a childish effort to divert a
dispute, reiterated her previous statement. " My
moeder thinks it was only a mouse that frightened
Miss Finlay."

" So I think also," replied Madame Stuyvesant.

" So I do not think," said Madame Bayard.

Neither did Agratha put any faith in the mouse
solution of Miss Finlay's illness. She had seen
that Gus in his way was as profoundly affected
as the woman, and she was certain that it was the
sudden sight of each other which had produced in
both consequences not to be denied.

Why then did she not tell her mother the con
viction in her heart? First, because she had not
told him about the unexplained condition between
Lord Mclvar and Gus. She had regarded it as
Lord Mclvar's secret inadvertently revealed to
her, and for his sake she had been absolutely si
lent concerning it. Who was this bondman, that
he should have an apparent intimacy with two
people so dissimilar, as the rich Scotch Lord, and
the poor daughter of a dead captain of infantry?

Then again, who was Lord Mclvar, that she
should carry this three-fold secret for his sake?
He was, she believed, her betrothed husband. He
had vowed to make her his wife as soon after he
came of age as it was possible to reach her. True,
no letter, or message, or token of remembrance
of any kind had come to her. But in spite of
this apparent neglect, she believed in the prom-


ises the handsome youth had kissed upon her lips,
that sad last day they had spent together. Com
munication by letter was difficult and doubtful in
those days; lovers had to trust each other, and
Agratha's guileless heart found it easy to trust.

After some days of hesitation, she resolved
rather to seek the confidence of Miss Finlay, than
reveal doubts and suspicions which might precip
itate some great disappointment or sorrow upon a
trio, two members of which were dear to her.
Also, she had that singular sense of honourable
obligation to silence, which only a heart as young
and unselfish would have regarded. Mclvar had
never asked her silence. He had trusted to her
affection divining that silence was necessary, and
to her discretion in keeping it. She felt this con
dition as well as if it had been explained to her
word by word, and she could not bear to fall be
low her lover's estimate of her nobility.

It was, however, impossible to reach any con
fidential conversation with Miss Finlay, though
Agratha was sure she understood her suspicions,
and was grateful for the easy indifference with
which she dismissed the subject, if anyone spoke
of her illness. In two days she resumed her teach
ing, and there was no change whatever in the si
lent, irresponsive behaviour of Gus.

During the months of July, August and Sep
tember, Miss Finlay remained with Lady Moody
at Gravesend, but in October she again opened her


classes. It had been in New Amsterdam a hot,
troublesome summer. The Governor had had a
quarrel with the Swedish colony, and been
harassed continually by the Long Island villagers,
who may be said to have made insurrection their
normal temper. Early in November, Thomas
Pell, formerly gentleman of the Bed Chamber to
King Charles the First, bought from an Indian
sachem a large tract of land. Stuyvesant sent a
marshal to tell him that the land had already been
bought and paid for, and that he, Stuyvesant,
forbade Pell's transaction altogether. And Mr.
Thomas Pell paid not the slightest attention to
the Governor, but went on improving his new pos
session. At the same time, Gravesend, Flushing,
Hempstead, and other villages were in open revolt,
because Stuyvesant had refused to ratify the peo
ple in office, who had been chosen by the popular
vote. One morning he received a decided letter
from Lady Moody telling him he must come to
Gravesend and meet the leaders, and ratify the
public vote or take the consequences.

" And I know what the consequences will be,"
he cried as he flung the letter passionately down,
" every mother's son on Long Island will be in open
rebellion. Then those chaffering, cheapening,
godly, Bible-reading Massachusetts English, will
come pouring down from the North. Hartford
and Connecticut will send deputies to me, and
powder and shot to the rebels. The southern set-


tlements will bluster about the rights of English
men, and send all their vagabonds to Long Island ;
and the Company whose property I am told to
protect leaves me with scant ammunition and only
a handful of men. It is the Company that must
take the consequences. God's will be done! Let
the Company take them."

" Peter, Peter, why are the English so hard to
manage? " and Madame Stuyvesant laid her little
hand tenderly on the angry man's arm. He re
moved it with a kiss, and there was a mist of tears
in the eyes of the perplexed and anxious man as he
answered :

" Because, Judith, in the heart of every one of
them men and women there is a conviction, that
this land belongs to England, and that any day
their government may come and take it."

"But we shall not let them take it? "

" If we have neither fighting men, nor arms for
men to fight with, how can we help it? "

Then he lifted Lady Moody's letter again, and
said : " She wants thee to come to Gravesend
with me. But why? What influence can a little
woman like thee have over those men brutes
yelling for their ' Rights '? "

" I will tell thee, Peter, willows are but weak
twigs, but they bind strong wood. The touch of
my hand, the glint of kind eyes, and the tones of a
gentle voice will go far further than thy scolding.
Thou had better let me go, Peter."


" To be sure, I will be glad myself of thy kind
ways. I am going among my worst enemies,
Judith, but I'll make them stand up and face me."

Great preparations were made for this visit.
Trumpeters and couriers went in advance to notify
the villages of the Governor's intentions; horses
were sent across the river for the use of the party ;
and on the day appointed the Governor, Madame
Stuyvesant, Domine Megapolensis, and a detach
ment of soldiers embarked in a periauger and
landed at the little hamlet of Brooklyn. At Mid-
wont, a suite of rooms in the City Hall had been
prepared for them, and there they remained all
night, proceeding in the morning to Gravesend,
where they were received by Lady Moody with
regal hospitality.

Nevertheless, the crowd of stern, resolute-look
ing men who mef Stuyvesant in Council was a
problem he could not solve by any show of pomp
or authority. Baxter told him plainly that their
city officers had been lawfully elected, and were
men of the highest character and ability, and that
he must ratify their election, or the Long Island
villages would either unite under their own govern
ment, or join the Massachusetts colony at once.

From this position Stuyvesant could neither
persuade nor frighten them, yet to allow them to
assert their independence was to sign his own ab
dication. And if they chose to fight, he had not
men nor yet ammunition to make him a match for


an army of stubborn Englishmen, supported by
English settlers on every side of them. Then
again, if he had to sign the papers as presented
to him, it would be an intolerable humiliation, for
he had sworn he would never do so.

Lady Moody understood this dilemma and
found a way out of it. She broke up the meeting
with a call to such a sumptuous dinner table, as
the men sitting down at it had never before seen.
And when all hearts had been opened by delicious
foods, and the rich wines of Fayal and Madeira,
by song and by story, she said :

" Governor Stuyvesant, and gentlemen present.
When men cannot agree, they are right if they ask
a woman to find a way for them out of their
quarrel. Our governor has sworn that he will not
ratify any election by a popular vote, but I think
he will permit me to choose the officers for this
year only, and I think he will ratify any choice I
make. In a year, you may both see your wish in
a different way."

She had stood up to make this request, and her
noble figure clothed in black, with white net at her
throat and across her black hair, was full of a
grave and gracious authority. So when she con
tinued looking at Stuyvesant for an answer, he
rose and bowing to her, answered :

" If your Ladyship will choose now the two men
you think best for sheriff and assessor, I will
ratify your choice at once. I think all our friends


here will accept this temporary solution of our

" We will accept whoever Lady Moody chooses,"
said Ensign Baxter. " Am I right, gentlemen ? "

A cheer of assent followed, and Lady Moody im
mediately named the two men the people had
chosen Ensign Baxter and Sergeant Hubbard.

It was an entirely unlocked for climax, both to
the Governor and the disaffected, but it was as sat
isfactory as possible. The people received the
officers they had elected, and the Governor did not
ratify a popular vote he gave his sanction to the
personal selection of Lady Moody.

Yet for a moment there was an intense silence;
then Stuyvesant took himself well in hand. He
rose and said: "Your Ladyship's choice does
you honour," and turning to DeSille added:
*' Make out the proper credentials and I will ratify

" We thank you, Governor."

Then Stuyvesant bowed to Lady Moody, and
the men assembled round her, and so the meeting
closed. Stuyvesant walked round the village with
the new officials, and praised the order and clean
liness, and evident prosperity he saw everywhere.

For two days longer the Stuyvesant party re
mained as guests of Lady Moody, and then the
lovely Indian summer showing signs of departing,
they went comfortably home in her Ladyship's
sloop. They had begun their journey to the


sound of trumpets, and the tramp of marching
men; they ended it by a very chill, disagreeable
walk, from the sloop to the Fort, in the dawn of the
November day, and Stuyvesant threw himself with
a sigh of relief into the big chair standing before
the blazing fire.

" I see that you have not got your way, Peter,"
said Madame Bayard.

" No, Anna," answered Madame Stuyvesant.
" Lady Moody got her way, as usual."

" Whatever made you two play Lady Moody's
game for her? "

" She got me what I wanted, Anna, at this time,"
answered Stuyvesant, " and I will be generally and
particularly grateful to you, Anna, if you will
stop talking of Lady Moody. My ears ache with
the sound of her name."

One morning two weeks after this event, Agratha
went to the Fort to talk over the Christmas prep
arations. She was in a very buoyant, happy mood
and the clear, frosty air was delightful to her, as
she stepped lightly and rapidly along the busy

" There is an English gentleman with the Gover
nor," said Madame Bayard, " and what do you
think? I heard your father's name mentioned
more than once, in their conversation."

" My fader's name ! " ej aculated Agratha.

" More than that, I heard the name of your
bondman Gus. What can it mean ? "


" I know not," she answered, but a sudden terror
seized her. She thought of Rose Finlay, and won
dered if she ought to be told. Perhaps Gus was
in trouble, perhaps men had come to take him back
to England ; perhaps oh, she could not follow out
the fears that assailed her, and poor Gus ! What
if she ought to tell him, he might even yet escape.

" I am going, Madame Bayard," she said. " I
think I ought to tell moeder."

" And others, perhaps, Agratha."

" Well, then, it may so be."

However, she had not gone far from the
Fort, when she met Gus walking with a stranger,
to whom he was conversing with a passion and
rapidity that was marvellous in the usually silent
man. A little further on she saw her father at a
distance, but evidently taking a short road to the
Fort. Then she hesitated no longer. With swift
steps she reached Madame Van Dam's, and calling
Rose, confided to her all she had seen and heard.

Rose was much moved and excited. " I must go
and see what is taking place," she said.

" But why? " asked Agratha. " It is not your
affair. If Gus is in trouble my fader will do all
that can be done. I saw him going to the Fort.
He took a short road, and walked like a man in a
hurry. You can do nothing. Why should you

" Because Gus is my brother! Do you hear,
Agratha? Gus is my brother! He is the only


kindred I have in the world. Leave me now. I
must go to him."

" Oh, Rose, dear, I will make my fader do every
thing that can be done. And fader likes Gus, he
will stand by him, whatever the trouble is."

" Dear Agratha, I must go and see for myself."
Then Agratha went to her mother with the whole
story, and Madame Van Ruyven was amazed and
a little angry. " Why did not Gus tell me before
he left the house?" she asked. "As for Ro?e
Finlay," she continued, " I never quite trusted her.
She knew more than any respectable woman ought
to know, and she ought to be ashamed of herself
going into the first families here and everything."
" Dear moeder, Rose has done nothing wrong."
" Perhaps not, but men coming from England
after her brother looks bad, very bad. I dare say
it is forgery, or something of the kind perhaps
highway robbery and then it will be the gallows ;
and pray who would speak to Miss Rose after

" I would, moeder, and so would the rich Hol
lander, Paul Roedeke. He loves her so much that
nothing could change him. He is building the

finest house in New Amsterdam "

" Well, then, I know that."
" And Rose can be its mistress, if she wishes."
'* Tut! Hollanders are very particular about
their marriage relations; however, she is a nice
little lady, and I am sorry for her."


" And moeder, Gus is the only relative she has in
the world. Is that not very sad? "

" Well, then, when thy fader comes home, we
shall know how much sorrow it will be proper to
give. But who is to set the dinner table, and serve
the meal? Gus ought to be here now this very

" Well, then, moeder, I think Gus will never
more set our dinner table."

" Nonsense ! If he has done something wrong,
thy fader will manage the affair some way. I can
not do without Gus. It is quite impossible."

Yet Madame had to make a possibility of the
negro woman Lucinda, and after the table had been
prepared, Van Ruyven did not come to dinner, and
it was well on towards twilight when he appeared.
Madame had been arranging a few words for him,
but as soon as she looked into his face, she forgot
them. For Van Ruyven had on his countenance
that light which comes only from an interior illum

" I am late, Ragel," he said, with an air of con
fidence, " but late in a good cause. Thou will be
glad of it."

" Well, then," she answered, " the cause, let us
hear it."

" I will, but first give me a cup of tea. It is
little food I need this night."

" A man must have food, Paul ; there is always
cause for that."


" Here are your slippers, fader, and your long-
sleeved vest, and your little silk cap ; " and
Agratha, as she spoke, pushed the Master's chair
near to the fire while Madame went about the even
ing meal.

" When people say they are not hungry, they
are mistaken," she thought, and she cut some slices
of cold beef and placed them before her husband,
and when Van Ruyven saw them, he helped himself
bountifully and seemed unconscious that he was do
ing so.

" Now, Paul," said Madame, " we would like to
know what has become of Gus. What have you to
tell? "

" He has taken a room at Madame Van Dam's,
and will board with her until he returns to Eng
land, or rather Scotland."

" But, Paul ! A room at the Van Dams' ! Do
you know what you are saying? I hate riddles and
mysteries, tell me the truth in straight words, and
be done with it."

" Well, then, Gus is really Angus McAlpine,
Chief of Clan McAlpine, the oldest of all the Scot
tish clans, and claiming to be of royal descent.
What do you think of that, Ragel? "

" Do you believe such a thing ? For me, I think
it all say-so ! How could the chief of a royal clan
become our bondman? I count such a thing im
possible, Paul. And pray, who could have the
power either to enslave or set free a man of such


rank ? I should want some good evidence for such
a story. Yes, indeed ! "

" Well, then, Ragel, it took one of the biggest
battles England ever fought, and the death and
bondage of thousands of men to make it possible
for Angus McAlpine to come into thy kitchen ; and
it took Oliver Cromwell, Gael Mclvar, and Paul
Van Ruyven, to set him free."

" And how many guilders did it cost thee? "

" Not one. I have my money back to the last
stiver ; but if there had not been a penny piece for
me, I should have said after hearing his story : * Go
to your own, Angus McAlpine, you are no longer
the bondman of Paul Van Ruyven ! ' :

" This is all very fine, Paul, but the why and
wherefore of it would be better."

" Take a little patience, Ragel. When King
Charles made that race with Cromwell for his king
dom which ended in the tragedy of Worcester,
most of the Highland clans followed him. Among
them was Dugald, Chief of the McAlpines and his
three sons, Hector, Alexander, and Angus. The
latter was a mere boy, scarcely seventeen years

" Was this Angus, our Gus, fader? "

" That is the plain truth. He had his share in
all that took place, and finally found himself with
the rest of the Scottish troops at Worcester where
the final battle was to be fought. The McAlpines
were among the troops set to keep the bridge


across the Severn, and there the fight raged longest
and hottest. His father fell first, and as he fell,
Hector, the eldest son, leaped to the front and took
command. In five minutes Hector was dead, and
Alexander was in his place. It was but a short
time ere Alexander was killed, and then Angus went
to the head of the clan. How long he kept com
mand he knows not. He had a wound in his head,
and fought like a man in a dream, until he must
have lost consciousness, for when he came to him
self the battle was over and lost and he, and all
the living of his clan, were prisoners."

" Poor young man ! " said Ragel pitifully ; " but
how did he reach America? Did he run away,

" No. The prisoners were marched in a body to
London, there were seven thousand of them, and
jvhen about half way there, a gentleman entertained
Cromwell splendidly, and received, as a gift from
him, one hundred prisoners. McAlpine and some
of his clan were among them. They were de
spatched at once to the English colonies, and sold
as bondmen for the highest number of years pro
curable. I bought McAlpine for ten years, he has
served us nearly four.

" If he was wounded, fader, how did he walk to
London ? "

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrA maid of old New York : a romance of Peter Stuyvesant's time → online text (page 9 of 20)