Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York online

. (page 10 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 10 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

there are dahlias yet, and how grow the gold and the white

But all the time they were in the garden together, Joris never spoke of
Mrs. Gordon, nor of Katherine's visit to her. About the flowers, and the
restless swallows, and the bluebirds, who still lingered, silent and
anxious, he talked; and a little also of Joanna, and her new house, and
of the great wedding feast that was the desire of Batavius.

"Every one he has ever spoken to, he will ask," said Katherine; "so hard
he tries to have many friends, and to be well spoken of."

"That is his way, _Katrijntje_; every man has his way."

"And I like not the way of Batavius."

"In business, then, he has a good name, honest and prudent. He will
make thy sister a good husband."

But, though Joris said nothing to his daughter concerning her visit to
Mrs. Gordon, he talked long with Lysbet about it. "What will be the end,
thou may see by the child's face and air," he said; "the shadow and the
heaviness are gone. Like the old Katherine she is to-night."

"And this afternoon comes here Neil Semple. Scarcely he believed me that
Katherine was out. Joris, what wilt thou do about the young man?"

"His fair chance he is to have, Lysbet. That to the elder is promised."

"The case now is altered. Neil Semple I like not. Little he thought of
our child's good name. With his sword he wounded her most. No patience
have I with the man. And his dark look thou should have seen when I
said, 'Katherine is not at home.' Plainly his eyes said to me, 'Thou art

"Well, then, what thought hast thou?"

"This: one lover must push away the other. The young dominie that is now
with the Rev. Lambertus de Ronde, he is handsome and a great hero. From
Surinam has he come, a man who for the cross has braved savage men and
savage beasts and deadly fever. No one but he is now to be talked of in
the kirk; and I would ask him to the house. Often I have seen the gown
and bands put the sword and epaulets behind them."

"Well, then, at the wedding of Batavius he will be asked; and if before
there is a good time, I will say, 'Come into my house, and eat and drink
with us.'"

So the loving, anxious parents, in their ignorance, planned. Even then,
accustomed in all their ways to move with caution, they saw no urgent
need of interference with the regular and appointed events of life. A
few weeks hence, when Joanna was married, if there was in the meantime
no special opportunity, the dominie could be offered as an antidote to
the soldier; and, in the interim, Neil Semple was to honourably have
such "chance" as his ungovernable temper had left him.

The next afternoon he called again on Katherine. His arm was still
useless; his pallor and weakness so great as to win, even from Lysbet,
that womanly pity which is often irrespective of desert. She brought him
wine, she made him rest upon the sofa, and by her quiet air of sympathy
bespoke for him a like indulgence from her daughter. Katherine sat by
her small wheel, unplaiting some flax; and Neil thought her the most
beautiful creature he had ever seen. He kept angrily asking himself why
he had not perceived this rare loveliness before; why he had not made
sure his claim ere rivals had disputed it with him. He did not
understand that it was love which had called this softer, more exquisite
beauty into existence. The tender light in the eyes; the flush upon the
cheek; the lips, conscious of sweet words and sweeter kisses; the heart,
beating to pure and loving thoughts, - in short, the loveliness of the
soul, transfiguring the meaner loveliness of flesh and blood, Neil had
perceived and wondered at; but he had not that kind of love experience
which divines the cause from the result.

On the contrary, had Hyde been watching Katherine, he would have been
certain that she was musing on her lover. He would have understood that
bewitching languor, that dreaming silence, that tender air and light and
colour which was the physical atmosphere of a soul communing with its
beloved; a soul touching things present only with its intelligence, but
reaching out to the absent with intensity of every loving emotion.

For some time the conversation was general. The meeting of the
delegates, and the hospitalities offered them; the offensive and
tyrannical Stamp Act; the new organization of patriots who called
themselves "Sons of Liberty;" and the loss of Miss Mary Blankaart's
purse, - furnished topics of mild dispute. But no one's interest was in
their words, and presently Madam Van Heemskirk rose and left the room.
Her husband had said, "Neil was to have some opportunities;" and the
words of Joris were a law of love to Lysbet.

Neil was not slow to improve the favour. "Katherine, I wish to speak to
you. I am weak and ill. Will you come here beside me?"

She rose slowly, and stood beside him; but, when he tried to take her
hands, she clasped them behind her back.

"So?" he asked; and the blood surged over his white face in a crimson
tide that made him for a moment or two speechless. "Why not?"

"Blood-stained are your hands. I will not take them."

The answer gave him a little comfort. It was, then, only a moral qualm.
He had even no objection to such a keen sense of purity in her; and
sooner or later she would forgive his action, or be made to see it with
the eyes of the world in which he moved.

"Katherine, I am very sorry I had to guard my honour with my sword; and
it was your love I was fighting for."

"My honour you cared not for, and with the sword I could not guard it.
Of me cruel and false words have been said by every one. On the streets
I was ashamed to go. Even the dominie thought it right to come and give
me admonition. Batavius never since has liked or trusted me. He says
Joanna's good name also I have injured. And my love, - is it a thing to
be fought for? You have guarded your honour, but what of mine?"

"Your honour is my honour. They that speak ill of you, sweet Katherine,
speak ill of me. Your life is my life. O my precious one, my wife!"

"Such words I will not listen to. Plainly now I tell you, your wife I
will never be, - never, never, never!"

"I will love you, Katherine, beyond your dream of love. I will die
rather than see you the wife of another man. For your bow of ribbon,
only see what I have suffered."

"And, also, what have you made another to suffer?"

"Oh, I wish that I had slain him!"

"Not your fault is it that you did not murder him."

"An affair of honour is not murder, Katherine."

"Honour! - Name not the word. From a dozen wounds your enemy was
bleeding; to go on fighting a dying man was murder, not honour. Brave
some call you: in my heart I say, 'Neil Semple was a savage and a

"Katherine, I will not be angry with you."

"I wish that you should be angry with me."

"Because some day you will be very sorry for these foolish words, my
dear love."

"Your dear love I am not."

"My dear love, give me a drink of wine, I am faint."

[Illustration: "I am faint"]

His faint whispered words and deathlike countenance moved her to human
pity. She rose for the wine, and, as she did so, called her mother; but
Neil had at least the satisfaction of feeling that she had ministered to
his weakness, and held the wine to his lips. From this time, he visited
her constantly, unmindful of her frowns, deaf to all her unkind words,
patient under the most pointed slights and neglect. And as most men rate
an object according to the difficulty experienced in attaining it,
Katherine became every day more precious and desirable in Neil's eyes.

In the meantime, without being watched, Katherine felt herself to be
under a certain amount of restraint. If she proposed a walk into the
city, Joanna or madam was sure to have the same desire. She was not
forbidden to visit Mrs. Gordon, but events were so arranged as to make
the visit almost impossible; and only once, during the month after her
marriage, had she an interview with her husband. For even Hyde's
impatience had recognized the absolute necessity of circumspection. The
landlord's suspicions had been awakened, and not very certainly allayed.
"There must be no scandal about my house, Captain," he said. "I merit
something better from you;" and, after this injunction, it was very
likely that Mrs. Gordon's companions would be closely scrutinized. True,
the "King's Arms" was the great rendezvous of the military and
government officials, and the landlord himself subserviently loyal; but,
also, Joris Van Heemskirk was not a man with whom any good citizen would
like to quarrel. Personally he was much beloved, and socially he stood
as representative of a class which held in their hands commercial and
political power no one cared to oppose or offend.

The marriage license had been obtained from the governor, but
extraordinary influence had been used to procure it. Katherine was under
age, and yet subject to her father's authority. In spite of book and
priest and ring, he could retain his child for at least three years; and
three years, Hyde - in talking with his aunt - called "an eternity of
doubt and despair." These facts, Hyde, in his letters, had fully
explained to Katherine; and she understood clearly how important the
preservation of her secret was, and how much toward allaying suspicion
depended upon her own behaviour. Fortunately Joanna's wedding day was
drawing near, and it absorbed what attention the general public had for
the Van Heemskirk family. For it was a certain thing, developing into
feasting and dancing; and it quite put out of consideration suspicions
which resulted in nothing, when people examined them in the clear
atmosphere of Katherine's home.

At the feast of St. Nicholas the marriage was to take place. Early in
November the preparations for it began. No such great event could happen
without an extraordinary housecleaning; and from garret to cellar the
housemaid's pail and brush were in demand. Spotless was every inch of
paint, shining every bit of polished wood and glass; not a thimbleful of
dust in the whole house. Toward the end of the month, Anna and Cornelia
arrived, with their troops of rosy boys and girls, and their slow,
substantial husbands. Batavius felt himself to be a very great man. The
weight of his affairs made him solemn and preoccupied. He was not one of
those light, foolish ones, who can become a husband and a householder
without being sensible of the responsibilities they assume.

In the midst of all this household excitement Katherine found some
opportunities of seeing Mrs. Gordon; and in the joy of receiving letters
from, and sending letters to, her husband, she recovered a gayety of
disposition which effectually repressed all urgent suspicions. Besides,
as the eventful day drew near, there was so much to attend to. Joanna's
personal goods, her dresses and household linen, her china, and wedding
gifts, had to be packed; the house was decorated; and there was a most
amazing quantity of delicacies to be prepared for the table.

In the middle of the afternoon of the day before the marriage, there was
the loud rat-tat-tat of the brass knocker, announcing a visitor. But
visitors had been constant since the arrival of Cornelia and Anna, and
Katherine did not much trouble herself as to whom it might be. She was
standing upon a ladder, pinning among the evergreens and scarlet berries
rosettes and bows of ribbon of the splendid national colour, and singing
with a delightsome cheeriness, -

"But the maid of Holland,
For her own true love,
Ties the splendid orange,
Orange still above!
_O oranje boven!_
Orange still above!"

"Orange still above! Oh, my dear, don't trouble yourself to come down! I
can pass the time tolerably well, watching you."

It was Mrs. Gordon, and she nodded and laughed in a triumphant way that
very quickly brought Katherine to her side. "My dear, I kiss you. You
are the top beauty of my whole acquaintance." Then, in a whisper,
"_Richard sends his devotion. And put your hand in my muff: there is a
letter._ And pray give me joy: I have just secured an invitation. I
asked the councillor and madam point blank for it. Faith, I think I am a
little of a favourite with them! Every one is talking of the bridegroom,
and the bridegroom is talking to every one. Surely, my dear, he imagines
himself to be the only man that will ever again commit matrimony.
_Oranje boven_, everywhere!" Then, with a little exultant laugh, "_Above
the Tartan_, at any rate. How is the young Bruce? My dear, if you don't
make him suffer, I shall never forgive you. Alternate doses of hope and
despair, that would be my prescription."

[Illustration: "Don't trouble yourself to come down"]

Katherine shook her head.

"Take notice, in particular, that I don't understand nods and shakes and
sighs and signs. What is your opinion, frankly?"

"On my wedding day, as I left Richard, this he said to me: 'My honour,
Katherine, is now in your keeping.' By the lifting of one eyelash, I
will not stain it."

"My dear, you are perfectly charming. You always convince me that I am a
better woman than I imagine myself. I shall go straight to Dick, and
tell him how exactly proper you are. Really, you have more perfections
than any one woman has a right to."

"To-morrow, if I have a letter ready, you will take it?"

"I will run the risk, child. But really, if you could see the way mine
host of the 'King's Arms' looks at me, you would be sensible of my
courage. I am persuaded he thinks I carry you under my new wadded cloak.
Now, adieu. Return to your evergreens and ribbons.

"'For your own true love,
Tie the splendid orange,
Orange still above!'"

And so, lightly humming Katharine's favourite song, she left the busy

Before daylight the next morning, Batavius had every one at his post.
The ceremony was to be performed in the Middle Kirk, and he took care
that Joanna kept neither Dominie de Ronde nor himself waiting. He was
exceedingly gratified to find the building crowded when the wedding
party arrived. Joanna's dress had cost a guinea a yard, his own
broadcloth and satin were of the finest quality, and he felt that the
good citizens who respected him ought to have an opportunity to see how
deserving he was of their esteem. Joanna, also, was a beautiful bride;
and the company was entirely composed of men of honour and substance,
and women of irreproachable characters, dressed with that solid
magnificence gratifying to a man who, like Batavius, dearly loved

Katherine looked for Mrs. Gordon in vain; she was not in the kirk, and
she did not arrive until the festival dinner was nearly over. Batavius
was then considerably under the excitement of his fine position and fine
fare. He sat by the side of his bride, at the right hand of Joris; and
Katherine assisted her mother at the other end of the table. Peter
Block, the first mate of the "Great Christopher," was just beginning to
sing a song, - a foolish, sentimental ditty for so big and bluff a
fellow, - in which some girl was thus entreated, -

"Come, fly with me, my own fair love;
My bark is waiting in the bay,
And soon its snowy wings will speed
To happy lands so far away,

"And there, for us, the rose of love
Shall sweetly bloom and never die.
Oh, fly with me! We'll happy be
Beneath fair Java's smiling sky."

"Peter, such nonsense as you sing," said Batavius, with all the
authority of a skipper to his mate. "How can a woman fly when she has no
wings? And to say any bark has wings is not the truth. And what kind of
rose is the rose of love? Twelve kinds of roses I have chosen for my new
garden, but that kind I never heard of; and I will not believe in any
rose that never dies. And you also have been to Java; and well you know
of the fever and blacks, and the sky that is not smiling, but hot as the
place which is not heaven. No respectable person would want to be a
married man in Java. I never did."

"Sing your own songs, skipper. By yourself you measure every man. If to
the kingdom of heaven you did not want to go, astonished and angry you
would be that any one did not like the place which is not heaven."

"Come, friends and neighbours," said Joris cheerily, "I will sing you a
song; and every one knows the tune to it, and every one has heard their
vaders and their moeders sing it, - sometimes, perhaps, on the great
dikes of Vaderland, and sometimes in their sweet homes that the great
Hendrick Hudson found out for them. Now, then, all, a song for


"'We have taken our land from the sea,
Its fields are all yellow with grain,
Its meadows are green on the lea, -
And now shall we give it to Spain?
No, no, no, no!

"'We have planted the faith that is pure,
That faith to the end we'll maintain;
For the word and the truth must endure.
Shall we bow to the Pope and to Spain?
No, no, no, no!

"'Our ships are on every sea,
Our honour has never a stain,
Our law and our commerce are free:
Are we slaves for the tyrant of Spain?
No, no, no, no!

"'Then, sons of Batavia, the spade, -
The spade and the pike and the main,
And the heart and the hand and the blade;
Is there mercy for merciless Spain?
No, no, no, no!'"

By this time the enthusiasm was wonderful. The short, quick denials came
hotter and louder at every verse; and it was easy to understand how
these large, slow men, once kindled to white heat, were both
irresistible and unconquerable. Every eye was turned to Joris, who stood
in his massive, manly beauty a very conspicuous figure. His face was
full of feeling and purpose, his large blue eyes limpid and shining;
and, as the tumult of applause gradually ceased, he said, -

[Illustration: "Listen to me!"]

"My friends and neighbours, no poet am I; but always wrongs burn in the
heart until plain prose cannot utter them. Listen to me. If we wrung the
Great Charter and the right of self-taxation from Mary in A.D. 1477; if
in A.D. 1572 we taught Alva, by force of arms, how dear to us was our
maxim, 'No taxation without representation,' -

"Shall we give up our long-cherished right?
Make the blood of our fathers in vain?
Do we fear any tyrant to fight?
Shall we hold out our hands for the chain?
No, no, no, no!"

Even the women had caught fire at this allusion to the injustice of the
Stamp Act and Quartering Acts, then hanging over the liberties of the
Province; and Mrs. Gordon looked curiously and not unkindly at the
latent rebels. "England will have foemen worthy of her steel if she
turns these good friends into enemies," she reflected; and then,
following some irresistible impulse, she rose with the company, at the
request of Joris, to sing unitedly the patriotic invocation, -

"O Vaderland, can we forget thee, -
Thy courage, thy glory, thy strife?
O Moeder Kirk, can we forget thee?
No, never! no, never! through life.
No, no, no, no!"

The emotion was too intense to be prolonged; and Joris instantly pushed
back his chair, and said, "Now, then, friends, for the dance. Myself I
think not too old to take out the bride."

Neil Semple, who had looked like a man in a dream during the singing,
went eagerly to Katherine as soon as Joris spoke of dancing. "He felt
strong enough," he said, "to tread a measure in the bride dance, and he
hoped she would so far honour him."

"No, I will not, Neil. I will not take your hands. Often I have told you

"Just for to-night, forgive me, Katherine."

"I am sorry that all must end so; I cannot dance any more with you;"
and then she affected to hear her mother calling, and left him standing
among the jocund crowd, hopeless and distraught with grief. He was not
able to recover himself, and the noise and laughter distracted and made
him angry. He had expected so much from this occasion, from its
influence and associations; and it had been altogether a disappointment.
Mrs. Gordon's presence troubled him, and he was not free from jealousy
regarding the young dominie. He had received a call from a church in
Haarlem; and the Consistory had requested him to become a member of the
Coetus, and accept it. Joris had interested himself much in his favour;
Katherine listened with evident pleasure to his conversation. The fire
of jealousy burns with very little fuel; and Neil went away from
Joanna's wedding-feast hating very cordially the young and handsome
Dominie Lambertus Van Linden.

The elder noticed every thing, and he was angry at this new turn in
affairs. He felt as if Joris had purposely brought the dominie into his
house to further embarrass Neil; and he said to his wife after their
return home, "Janet, our son Neil has lost the game for Katherine Van
Heemskirk. I dinna care a bodle for it now. A man that gets the woman he
wants vera seldom gets any other gude thing."


"Ah, weel, there's excepts! I hae mind o' them. But Neil won't be long
daunted. I looked in on him as I cam' upstairs. He was sitting wi' a law
treatise, trying to read his trouble awa'. He's a brave soul. He'll hae
honours and charges in plenty; and there's vera few women that are
worth a gude office - if you hae to choose atween them."

"You go back on your ain words, Elder. Tak' a sleep to yoursel'. Your
pillow may gie you wisdom."

And, while this conversation was taking place, they heard the pleasant
voices of Van Heemskirk's departing guests, as, with snatches of song
and merry laughter, they convoyed Batavius and his bride to their own
home. And, when they got there, Batavius lifted up his lantern and
showed them the motto he had chosen for its lintel; and it passed from
lip to lip, till it was lifted altogether, and the young couple crossed
their threshold to his ringing good-will, -

"Poverty - always a day's sail behind us!"

[Illustration: Tail-piece]

[Illustration: Chapter heading]


"_Now many memories make solicitous
The delicate love lines of her mouth, till, lit
With quivering fire, the words take wing from it;
As here between our kisses we sit thus
Speaking of things remembered, and so sit
Speechless while things forgotten call to us_."

Joanna's wedding occurred at the beginning of the winter and the winter
festivities. But, amid all the dining and dancing and skating, there was
a political anxiety and excitement that leavened strongly every social
and domestic event. The first Colonial Congress had passed the three
resolutions which proved to be the key-note of resistance and of
liberty. Joris had emphatically indorsed its action. The odious Stamp
Act was to be met by the refusal of American merchants either to import
English goods, or to sell them upon commission, until it was repealed.
Homespun became fashionable. During the first three months of the year,
it was a kind of disgrace to wear silk or satin or broadcloth; and a
great fair was opened for the sale of articles of home manufacture. The
Government kept its hand upon the sword. The people were divided into
two parties, bitterly antagonistic to each other. The "Sons of Liberty"
were keeping guard over the pole which symbolized their determination;
the British soldiery were swaggering and boasting and openly insulting
patriots on the streets; and the "New York Gazette," in flaming
articles, was stimulating to the utmost the spirit of resistance to

And these great public interests had in every family their special
modifications. Joris was among the two hundred New York merchants who
put their names to the resolutions of the October Congress; Bram was a
conspicuous member of the "Sons of Liberty;" but Batavius, though
conscientiously with the people's party, was very sensible of the
annoyance and expense it put him to. Only a part of his house was
finished, but the building of the rest was in progress; and many things

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 10 of 20)