Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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The Belle of
Bowling Green


Author of " The Bow of Orange Ribbon ; " "The
Maid of Maiden Lane," Etc.

With Illustrations


Copyright, 1904,



Published, Octobet


To My Friend


A Bookman and a Lo<uer of Books

This Novel is Dedicated

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O shades of respectable Vans!

O Livingstons, Kennedys, Jays!
Lend me your names to conjure with,
And bring back the fine old days
When the trade and wealth of the city

Lay snugly the rivers between,
And the homes of its merchant princes,
Were built round the Bowling Green.

Here's to the homes that are past!
Here's to the men that have been !
Here's to the heart of New York,
That beats on the Bowling Green !

Here's to the men who could meet

Mockers and doubters, with smiles;
And planning for centuries hence,

Lay out their city by miles.
It has spread far out to the North,

It has spread to the East and the West,
Though the men who saw it in dreams,
Now sleep ia old Trinity's breast.

Here's to the homes that are past!
Here's to the men that have been !
Here's to the heart of New York,
That beats on the Bowling Green !


And here's to the maids of the past!

(They were beautiful maids we know,)
That strolled in the Battery Park,
In the years of the Long Ago.
And though maids of to-day are fair,

(No lovelier ever have been)
They are proud to be called by the names
Of the Belles of the Bowling Green.
Here's to the men of the past!

Here's to the maids that have been !
Here's to the heart of New York,
That beats on the Bowling Green !

The Belle of Bowling Green

r ?!** I'Pf" """'' ~- ' lpri


Monday's Daughters


city has some locality to which its
heroic and civic memories especially clingj^ '
and this locality in the city of New York is
the historic acre of the Bowling Green.
With that spot it has been throughout its
existence, in some way or other, unfailingly linked; and its
mingled story of camp and court and domestic life ought to
make the Bowling Green to the citizens of New York all
that the Palladium was to the citizens of ancient Troy. For
as the Palladium held in one hand a pike, and in the other
hand a distaff and spindle, so also, the story of the Bowling
Green is one of the pike and the distaff. It has felt the
tread of fighting men, and the light feet of happy maidens;
and though showing a front of cannon, has lain for nearly
three centuries at the open seaward door of the city, like a
green hearthstone of welcome.

In the closing years of the eighteenth, and the early years
of the nineteenth century, the Bowling Green was in a large
measure surrounded by the stately homes of the most honour
able and wealthy citizens; and though this class, before the
war of 1812, had began to move slowly northward, it was



some years later a very aristocratic quarter, especially fa
voured by the rich families of Dutch extraction, who, having
dwelt for many generations somewhere around the Fort and
the Bowling Green, were not easily induced to relinquish
their homes in a locality so familiar and so dear to them.

Thus for nearly one hundred and forty years there had
been Bloommaerts living in the old Beaver Path, and in
Bloommaert's Valley, or Broad Street, and when Judge Ge-
rardus Bloommaert, in 1790, built himself a handsome dwell
ing, he desired no finer site for it than the Bowling Green.
It was a lofty, roomy house of red brick, without extraneous
ornament, but realising in its interior arrangements and fur
nishings the highest ideals of household comfort and elegance.

Sapphira, his only daughter, a girl of eighteen years old,
was, however, its chief charm and attraction. No painting
on all its walls could rival her living beauty; and many a
young citizen found the road to the Custom House the road
of his desire. For was there not always the hope that he
might catch a glimpse of the lovely Sapphira at the window
of her home? Or meet her walking on the Mall, or the
Battery, and perhaps, if very fortunate, get a smile or a word
from her in passing.

All knew that they could give themselves good reasons for
their devotions; they did not bow to an unworthy idol.
Sapphira Bloommaert had to perfection every mystery and
beauty of the flesh dark, lambent eyes, hardly more lambent
than the luminous face lighted up by the spirit behind it;



nut-brown hair, with brows and long eyelashes of a still
darker shade; a vivid complexion; an exquisite mouth; a
tall, erect, slender form with a rather proud carriage, and
movements that were naturally of superb dignity: " the airs
of a queen," as her cousin Annette said. But Sapphira had
no consciousness in this attitude ; it was as natural as breath
ing to her ; and was the result of a perfectly harmonious phys
ical and moral beauty, developed under circumstances of
love and happiness. All her life days had been full of con
tent ; she looked as if she had been born smiling.

This was exactly what her grandmother Bloommaert
said to her one morning, and that with some irritation; for
the elder woman was anxious about many people and many
things, and Sapphira's expression of pleasant contentment
was not the kind of sympathy that worry finds soothing.

" In trouble is the city, Sapphira, and over that bit of hair-
work you sit smiling, as if in Paradise we were. I think,
indeed, you were born smiling."

"The time of tears is not yet, grandmother; when it
comes, I shall weep like other women."

" Weep ! Yes, yes ; but one thing remember deliver
ance comes never through tears. Look at Cornelia Des-
brosses ; dying she is, with her own tears poisoned."

" I am sorry for Cornelia ; I wish that she had no cause
to weep," and with these words she did not smile. It had
suddenly struck her that perhaps it was not right or kind to
be happy when there was so much fear and anxiety in her na-



tive city. The idea was new and painful ; she rose and went
with it to the solitude of her own room; and her mother
after silently watching her exit, said :

" She is so gentle, so easily moved was it worth

"You think so? Give Sapphira a motive strong enough,
and so firm she will be so impossible to move. Oh, yes,
Carlita, I know ! "

" Indeed, mother, she obeys as readily as a little child.
Our will is her will. She bends to it just like the leaves of
that tree to the wind."

" Very good ! but there may come a day when to your will
she will not bend; when a rod of finely tempered steel will
be more pliant in your hand than her wish or will. We shall
see. She is a very child yet, but times are coming are
come that will turn children quickly into men and women.
Our Gerardus, where is he? "

" He left home rather earlier than usual. He was sure
there was important news." Mrs. Bloommaert spoke coldly.
Her mother-in-law always set her temper on edge with the
claim vibrating through the two words " our Gerardus."
" There is so much talk and nothing comes of it but annoy
ance to ourselves," she continued, " the cry has been war for
five years. It comes not."

" It is here. At the street corners I saw the bill-man past
ing up news of it. In every one's mouth I heard it. Alive
was the air with the word war; and standing in groups, men



were talking together in that passion of anger that means
war, war, and nothing but war."

" The blood of New York is always boiling, mother.
When Gerardus comes he will tell us if it be war. I shall
not be sorry if it is. When one has been waiting for a blow
five long years, it is a relief to have it fall. Who is to
blame? The administration, or the people? "

"As well may you ask whether it is the riddle, or the
fiddlestick, that makes the tune."

"At any rate we shall give England a good fight. Our
men are not cowards."

" Carlita, all men would be cowards if they durst."


" If they durst disobey the nobler instincts which make
the lower ones face their duty."


" Carlita, you have no ideas about humanity."

" I think mother I, at least, understand my husband and
sons as for Sapphira - "

" More difficult she will be and more interesting. Peter
and Christopher are all Dutch ; they that run may read them,
but in Sapphira the Dutch and French are discreetly mingled.
She has tithed your French ancestors, Carlita take good
heed of her."

" They were of noble strain."

" Surely, that is well known. Now I must go home, for I
know that Annette is already afraid, and there is the dinner



to order. Pigeons do not fly into the mouth ready roasted,
and Commenia is getting old. She is lazy, too; but so!
The year goes round and somehow we do not find it all

As she finished speaking, Sapphira came hastily into the
room. Her face was flushed, her eyes flashing, and she cried
out with unrestrained emotion: "Mother! Mother! We
must put out our flags! All the houses on the Green are
flagged! Kouba has them ready. He will help me. And
you too, mother ? Certainly you will help ? Kouba says we
are going to fight England again ! I am so proud ! I am so
happy ! Come, come, mother ! "

" My dear one, wait a little. Your father will be here
soon, and "

"Oh, no, no! Father may be in court. He is likely with
the mayor. Perhaps he is talking to the people. We can
not wait. We must put out the flags the old one that has
seen battle, and the new one that is to see it."

" But Sapphira "

" I have the flags ready, mother. Come quickly," and
without further parley she ran with fleet, headlong steps to
the upper rooms of the house. Madame, her grandmother,
smiled knowingly at her daughter-in-law.

" The will that is your will? " she asked; " where is it?
You can see for yourself, Carlita."

" The news seems to be true at last. You had better wait
for Gerardus, mother. He will tell us all about it."


" The news will find me out in Nassau Street."
" Commenia can manage without you for one day."
" There are strawberries to preserve. I like to manage my
affairs myself. I have my own way, and some other way
does not please me."

" Well, then, I shall go to Sapphira. My hands are itch
ing for the flags. I am sure you understand, mother."

" Understand ! If it comes to that, I made up my mind
many years ago about those English tyrants and I have not
to make it over. I think about them and their ways exactly
as I did when I sent my dear Peter with Joris Van Heem-
skirk's troops to fight them. Gerardus was but a boy then
ten years old only but he cried to go with his father. God
be with us! Wives and mothers don't forget, O wee!
O wee! "

Her voice softened, she looked wistfully backward and,
with outstretched hand, waved her daughter-in-law upstairs.
Then she opened for herself the wide, front entrance. The
door was heavy, but it swung easily to her firm grip.
And yet she was in the seventy-fourth year of her life

With a slow but imperious step she took the road to her
own home. She was not afraid of the crowd, nor of the en
thusiasm that moved it. At every turn she was recognised
and saluted, for Madame Bloommaert was part and parcel
of the honour of the city, and her bright, handsome face with
its coal-black eyes and eyebrows, and snow-white hair lying



like mist upon its brown temples, was a familiar sight to old
and young. She was rather small of stature, but so disdain
fully erect that she gave the impression of being a tall
woman an illusion aided by the buoyancy of her temper and
the definite character of her movements.

Her home was on lower Nassau Street between Beaver
and Marketfield. It had been her residence for fifty years,
and was as perfectly Dutch as herself in its character.
Nothing in the street, however, was more interesting than
this human habitation. It appeared to have created for
itself a sort of soul, so instinct with personality was it. A
large garden surrounded it, though its space had been slowly
curtailed as land in the vicinity became valuable; yet there
was still room enough for some fine shrubbery, a little grass
plot, beds of flowers, strawberry and other vines, and the
deep, cool well, with its antique shed full of bright pewter

The house itself was of red brick, mellow and warm, and
soft to the eyes with the rains and sunshine of half a century ;
and nothing could be finer than its front, sending up sharp
points to the sky, with a little boat weathercock on the tallest
point boxing about in the wind. Over the wide casements a
sweetbrier climbed, and nodded its tiny flower ; and the ver
anda, cunningly carved along the bottom railing in an open
leaf pattern, was a perfect bower of Virginia creeper.

She opened the garden gate, and its mingled perfumes made
her sigh with pleasure. Such boxwood borders, such gay,


sweet flowers, such brick walks laid in zig-zag pattern, and
shaded by elm and maple trees are not to be found in New
York city now, but to madame they were only the beautiful
frame of her daily life. She cast her eyes down to see if
the walk had been swept, and then looked up at the house
as if it were a friend. The flag she loved, the flag under
which her young husband had died fighting for liberty, was
floating from her window. She stood still and gazed at it.
Without words it spoke to her, and without words she an
swered its claim. In a moment she had accepted whatever of
trial or triumph it might bring her.

She went forward more hastily, but, ere she reached the
entrance, a very pretty girl came running to meet her.
"Have you heard the news, grandmother?" she cried.
"Are you not very happy? What did Sapphira say? And
Aunt Carlita? and uncle? and all of them? "

Madame was unable to answer her questions. She clasped
her hand firmly, and went with her into the house. Straight
to the main living room she went, an apartment in which the
dearest portion of her household gods were enshrined : mas
sive silver services on a richly carved sideboard ; semi-lucent
china in the corner cupboard ; three pictures of Teniers that
one of her husband's ancestors had bought from the hands of
the great painter himself; and chairs of antique workman
ship that had crossed the ocean with Samuel Bloommaert in
1629 when he bought Zwanendael, the Valley of the Swans.
The wide, open fireplace of this room was in itself a picture.



The deep cavity at the back and the abutting jambs were
coloured a vivid scarlet, with a wash made from iron dust;
the hearthstone was white as snow with pipeclay, and in front
of the heavy brass irons was a tall blue and white jar with
dragons for handles, holding a bunch of red roses, mingled
with green asparagus branches. The broad chimney piece
above this home picture had also its distinctive charm. It
shone with silver candlesticks, their snuffers, and little trays.
It kept the silver posset pan that had made the baby's food
half a century ago ; the christening cups of her son Gerardus
and her daughter Elsie; and two beautiful lacquered tea-
caddies from India and China.

Opposite the fireplace, at the end of the room, there was a
long table black with age and heavy with Nuremburg carv
ing ; but it was on a small round one which stood by an open
window that a dinner service for two persons was very
prettily laid. Madame sat down in a chair near it, anc
Annette took off her scarf and bonnet and long gloves, and
chattered volubly as she did so :

" I know you would like our flag to be out as soon as the
rest, grandmother, and the Yates' flag was flying, and the
Vanderlyns'.and I had hard work to get ours flying before the
Moores' and the Rivingtons'. I thought the whole city had
gone mad, and I sent Mink and Bass to find the reason out.
They stopped so long ! and when they came, they said it
was because we are going to fight England again. How men
do love to fight, grandmother ! "



" When for their liberty and their homes men fight they
do well, do they not? "

" If you had heard Peter Smith talking to a little crowd
at our very gate, you would think men found the reason for
their existence in a gun or a sword. He said we should whip
England in about six weeks, and - "

" Thr.t is enough, Annette. The sort of rubbish that
Peter talks and simpletons believe I know. We shall win our
fight, no doubt of that; but in six weeks! No, it may as
likely t.t six years."

" Grandmother ! Six years ! And will there be no balls,
and suppers, and no lovers for six years ? Of course, all the
young men who are to be noticed will prefer fighting to any
thing else; and what shall I do for a lover, grandmother? "

" There is always Jose Westervelt."

" He will not do at all. He is too troublesome. He
thinks I ought not to dance with any one but him; actually
he objects to my speaking to some people, or even looking at
them. It is too uncomfortable. I do not like tyranny no
American girl does."

" So you rebelled. But then, do you expect to catch fish
without wetting yourself? "

" It has been done." She was putting on her grand
mother's feet the cloth slippers she usually wore in the house,
and as she rose she perceived with a smile the delicious odour
of the roasted pigeons which a negro slave was just bringing
to the table.



" I told Commenia to roast them, grandmother. I knew
you would want something nice when you got back."

" Before the fire did she roast them? "

" Yes on skewers, and basted them with fresh butter.
I found enough peas on the vines, and I pulled and shelled
them myself, for it was next to impossible to keep the blacks
off the streets."

'' Thank you, dear one."

" I liave had such a happy year, grandmother, and now, I
suppose, all our gaieties will be ended."

"Come, come, there will be more gaieties than ever. I am
sure that the Battery will be put in fighting trim; then the
Bowling Green, with soldiers, will be alive. What will fol
low? Drills and parades, and what not; and in all the
houses round about the Green the women will make idols
of the men in uniform. And to be sure they will show their
adoration by meat offerings and drink offerings ; ceremonies,
Annette, which generally end in dancing and love-making."

" You notice everything, grandmother."

" I have been young and now I am old ; but love never
gets a day older. What love was in the beginning, he is now,
and ever shall be. These pigeons are very good. You said
you had some at the Radcliffes' yesterday what kind of a
dinner did they give? "

" It was a good dinner, but not a dinner to be asked out to ;
you and I often have a better one and there was no dancing,
only cards and games and Jose Westervelt."



" Poor Jose! "

" Grandmother, he is so magisterial. He sets up his
opinions as if they were a golden image; and I am not the
girl to fall down before them."

" He is a distinguished mathematician already."

"And looks it : besides he knows no more of dancing than
a Hindoo knows of skating. Also, since he came back from
England, he is so cold and positive in his views, and so stiff
and rigid in his London-made clothes, that I cannot endure
him. Did you see Sapphira, grandmother? "

" Yes. With some hair work she was busy a finger ring,
or brooch or some such trifle. There will be other work soon,
I think. In the last war we had to make all our own cloth
ing and most of our household necessities. The last war!
Oh, Annette, dear one, I lost everything in the last war ! "

" But you are now a rich woman, grandmother."

" I mean not that. I lost your grandfather; he was every
thing to me. There was money, yes; and there was prop
erty; but all in a bad way then. Now; well, it is a little

" However did you manage? "

" I worked and hoped and helped myself and others, and
left the rest to God. While I slept He made things to grow
and prosper. And when this war is over we shall have
settled our standing among the nations beyond all dispute,
and New York will stride forward as if she wore the seven-
leagued boots."



" Then, grandmother, you will build a fine house past
Trinity Church a good deal past it perhaps half a mile,
or even a mile, and we shall have a carriage of our own and
be among the quality."

" I shall never leave this house, Annette. But I tell you,
my dear one you shall go to Washington every season. If
your uncle and aunt Bloommaert go there, that will be suffi
cient; if not, I have friends who will see to it. Sapphira
grows wonderfully handsome."

"And I, grandmother? "

" You have your own beauty. You need not to envy any
one. Now I am tired and I will go to my room. I want to
take some better counsel than my own."

" May I not go to see Sapphira, grandmother? I want
to see her very much."

" You may not go to-day. Listen ; the constant tramp of
feet and the noise of men shouting and gathering grows
louder. Stay in your home."

" It is very tiresome ! Men are always quarrelling about
something. What is the use of governments if they can't
prevent war? Any one can settle a quarrel by fighting over
it. I do not see what good fighting does. The drums
parading round will give us headaches, and the men will go
swaggering from one day to another after them. I am in a
passion at President Madison just too when summer is here,
and we were going to the Springs, and I was sure to have had
an enchanting time."



" Thou little good-for-nothing! Hold thy foolish tongue!
If our men are going to fight it is for thy liberty and thy
honour and thy happiness. Sit still an hour and think of

She shut the door when she had spoken these words, and
then went, a little wearily, upstairs ; but it any one had seen
her half an hour afterwards sitting with closed eyes and
clasped hands asleep in the large chair that stood by her bed
side, they would have said, " She has been satisfied." For
though she looked much older when asleep, her face then
showed nothing but that sacred peace and refinement which
comes only through a constant idea of God's care and

Annette stood still until she heard her grandmother's door
close; then, after a moment or two of indecision, she took
from under the sofa-cushion a book, and stood it up before
her with a comical air of judgment.

" It is all your fault, you unlucky ' Children of The Ab
bey,' " she said sternly. " If I had been able to get rid of
you, I should have gone with grandmother to Uncle Gerard's
house this morning; and, considering the news, we should
certainly have remained there all day. And as grandmother
says, ' if the pot boils, it always boils over on the Bowling
Green.' I ought to have been where I could see and hear all
that was going on. I think Sapphira might have sent for
me! People are so selfish, and affairs always work so con
trary. If I try to be unselfish nothing good comes of it to



me; and if I am reasonably selfish then I am sure to suffer
for it. Grandfather de Vries is right ; whenever I go to see
him, he always mumbles to me: 'see now, love others well, but
thyself most of all.' Grandfather de Vries is a wise man
every one says so and he tells me to love myself best of all.
Well, I shall have no company this afternoon but these silly
' Children of The Abbey.' They are as distractingly absurd
as they can be, but I want to know whether they get married
or not."

She sought this information with great apparent interest,
yet ever as she turned the fascinating leaves, she let the book

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe belle of Bowling Green → online text (page 1 of 21)