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were needed for its elegant completion, which were only to be bought
from Tory importers, and which had been therefore nearly doubled in
value. When liberty interfered with the private interests of Batavius,
he had his doubts as to whether it was liberty. Often Bram's overt
disloyalty irritated him beyond endurance. For, since he had joined the
ranks of married men and householders, Batavius felt that unmarried men
ought to wait for the opinions and leadership of those who had
responsibilities.

Joanna talked precisely as Batavius talked. All of his enunciations met
with her "Amen." There are women who are incapable of but one
affection, - that one which affects them in especial, - and Joanna was of
this order. "My husband" was perpetually on her tongue. She looked upon
her position as a wife and housekeeper as unique. Other woman might
have, during the past six thousand years, held these positions in an
indifferent kind of way; but only she had ever comprehended and properly
fulfilled the duties they involved. Madam Van Heemskirk smiled a little
when Joanna gave her advices about her house and her duties, when she
disapproved of her father's political attitude, when she looked injured
by Bram's imprudence.

"Not only is wisdom born with Joanna and Batavius, it will also die with
them; so they think," said Katharine indignantly, after one of Joanna's
periodical visitations.

A tear twinkled in madam's eyes; but she answered, "I shall not distress
myself overmuch. Always I have said, 'Joanna has a little soul. Only
what is for her own good can she love.'"

"It is Batavius; and a woman must love her husband, mother."

"That is the truth: first and best of all, she must love him, Katherine;
but not as the dog loves and fawns on his master, or the squaw bends
down to her brave. A good woman gives not up her own principles and
thoughts and ways. A good woman will remember the love of her father and
mother and brother and sister, her old home, her old friends; and
contempt she will not feel and show for the things of the past, which
often, for her, were far better than she was worthy of."

"There is one I love, mother, love with all my soul. For him I would
die. But for thee also I would die. Love thee, mother? I love thee and
my father better because I love him. My mother, fret thee not, nor think
that ever Joanna can really forget thee. If a daughter could forget her
good father and her good mother, then with the women who sit weeping in
the outer darkness, God would justly give her her portion. Such a
daughter could not be."

Lysbet sadly shook her head. "When I was a little girl, Katherine, I
read in a book about the old Romans, how a wicked daughter over the
bleeding corpse of her father drove her chariot. She wanted his crown
for her own husband; and over the warm, quivering body of her father she
drove. When I read that story, Katherine, my eyes I covered with my
hands. I thought such a wicked woman in the world could not be. Alas,
_mijn kind!_ often since then I have seen daughters over the bleeding
hearts of their mothers and fathers drive; and frown and scold and be
much injured and offended if once, in their pain and sorrow, they cry
out."

"But this of me remember, mother: if I am not near thee, I shall be
loving thee, thinking of thee; telling my husband, and perhaps my little
children about thee, - how good thou art, how pretty, how wise. I will
order my house as thou hast taught me, and my own dear ones will love me
better because I love thee. If to my own mother I be not true, can my
husband be sure I will be true to him, if comes the temptation strong
enough? Sorry would I be if my heart only one love could hold, and ever
the last love the strong love."

Still, in spite of this home trouble, and in spite of the national
anxiety, the winter months went with a delightsome peace and regularity
in the Van Heemskirk household. Neil Semple ceased to visit Katherine
after Joanna's wedding. There was no quarrel, and no interruption to the
kindness that had so long existed between the families; frequently they
walked from kirk together, - Madam Semple and Madam Van Heemskirk, Joris
and the elder, Katherine and Neil. But Neil never again offered her his
hand; and such conversation as they had was constrained and of the most
conventional character.

Very frequently, also, Dominic Van Linden spent the evening with them.
Joris delighted in his descriptions of Java and Surinam; and Lysbet and
Katherine knit their stockings, and listened to the conversation. It was
evident that the young minister was deeply in love, and equally evident
that Katharine's parents favoured his suit. But the lover felt, that,
whenever he attempted to approach her as a lover, Katherine surrounded
herself with an atmosphere that froze the words of admiration or
entreaty upon his lips.

Joris, however, spoke for him. "He has told me how truly he loves thee.
Like an honest man he loves thee, and he will make thee a wife honoured
of many. No better husband can thou have, Katherine." So spoke her
father to her one evening in the early spring, as they stood together
over the budding snowdrops and crocus.

[Illustration: They stood together over the budding snowdrops]

"There is no love in my heart for him, father."

"Neil pleases thee not, nor the dominie. Whom is it thou would have,
then? Surely not that Englishman now? The whole race I
hate, - swaggering, boastful tyrants, all of them. I will not give thee
to any Englishman."

"If I marry not him, then will I stay with thee always."

"Nonsense that is. Thou must marry, like other women. But not him; I
would never forgive thee; I would never see thy face again."

"Very hard art thou to me. I love Richard; can I love this one and then
that one? If I were so light-of-love, contempt I should have from all,
even from thee."

"Now, I have something to say. I have heard that some one, - very like to
thee, - some one went twice or three times with Mrs. Gordon to see the
man when he lay ill at the 'King's Arms.' To such talk, my anger and my
scorn soon put an end; and I will not ask of thee whether it be true, or
whether it be false. For a young girl I can feel."

"O father, if for me thou could feel!"

"See, now, if I thought this man would be to thee a good husband, I
would say, 'God made him, and God does not make all his men Dutchmen;'
and I would forgive him his light, loose life, and his wicked wasting of
gold and substance, and give thee to him, with thy fortune and with my
blessing. But I think he will be to thee a careless husband. He will get
tired of thy beauty; thy goodness he will not value; thy money he will
soon spend. Three sweethearts had he in New York before thee. Their very
names, I dare say, he hath forgotten ere this."

"If Richard could make you sure, father, that he would be a good
husband, would you then be content that we should be married?"

"That he cannot do. Can the night make me sure it is the day? Once very
much I respected Batavius. I said, 'He is a strict man of business;
honourable, careful, and always apt to make a good bargain. He does not
drink nor swear, and he is a firm member of the true Church. He will
make my Joanna a good husband.' That was what I thought. Now I see that
he is a very small, envious, greedy man; and like himself he quickly
made thy sister. This is what I fear: if thou marry that soldier, either
thou must grow like him, or else he will hate thee, and make thee
miserable."

"Just eighteen I am. Let us not talk of husbands. Why are you so
hurried, father, to give me to this strange dominie? Little is known of
him but what he says. It is easy for him to speak well of Lambertus Van
Linden."

"The committee from the Great Consistory have examined his testimonials.
They are very good. And I am not in a hurry to give thee away. What I
fear is, that thou wilt be a foolish woman, and give thyself away."

Katherine stood with dropped head, looking apparently at the brown
earth, and the green box borders, and the shoots of white and purple and
gold. But what she really saw, was the pale, handsome face of her sick
husband, its pathetic entreaty for her love, its joyful flush, when with
bridal kisses he whispered, "_Wife, wife, wife!_"

Joris watched her curiously. The expression on her face he could not
understand. "So happy she looks!" he thought, "and for what reason?"
Katherine was the first to speak.

"Who has told you anything about Captain Hyde, father?"

"Many have spoken."

"Does he get back his good health again?"

"I hear that. When the warm days come, to England he is going. So says
Jacob Cohen. What has Mrs. Gordon told thee? for to see her I know thou
goes."

"Twice only have I been. I heard not of England."

"But that is certain. He will go, and what then? Thee he will quite
forget, and never more will thou see or hear tell of him."

"That I believe not. In the cold winter one would have said of these
flowers, 'They come no more.' But the winter goes away, and then here
they are. Richard has been in the dead valley, _der shaduwe des doods_.
Sometimes I thought, he will come back to me no more. But now I am sure
I shall see him again."

Joris turned sadly away. That night he did not speak to her more. But
he had the persistence which is usually associated with slow natures. He
could not despair. He felt that he must go steadily on trying to move
Katherine to what he really believed was her highest interest. And he
permitted nothing to discourage him for very long. Dominie Van Linden
was also a prudent man. He had no intention in his wooing to make haste
and lose speed. As to Katherine's love troubles, he had not been left in
ignorance of them. A great many people had given him such information as
would enable him to keep his own heart from the wiles of the siren. He
had also a wide knowledge of books and life, and in the light of this
knowledge he thought that he could understand her. But the conclusion
that he deliberately came to was, that Katherine had cared neither for
Hyde nor Semple, and that the unpleasant termination of their courtship
had made her shy of all lover-like attentions. He believed that if he
advanced cautiously to her he might have the felicity of surprising and
capturing her virgin affection. And just about so far does any amount of
wisdom and experience help a man in a love perplexity; because every
mortal woman is a different woman, and no two can be wooed and won in
precisely the same way.

Amid all these different elements, political, social, and domestic,
Nature kept her own even, unvarying course. The gardens grew every day
fairer, the air more soft and balmy, the sunshine warmer and more
cherishing. Katherine was not unhappy. As Hyde grew stronger, he spent
his hours in writing long letters to his wife. He told her every trivial
event, he commented on all she told him. And her letters revealed to
him a soul so pure, so true, so loving, that he vowed "he fell in love
with her afresh every day of his life." Katherine's communications
reached her husband readily by the ordinary post; Hyde's had to be sent
through Mrs. Gordon. But it was evident from the first that Katherine
could not call there for them. Colonel Gordon would soon have objected
to being made an obvious participant in his nephew's clandestine
correspondence; and Joris would have decidedly interfered with visits
sure to cause unpleasant remarks about his daughter. The medium was
found in the mantua-maker, Miss Pitt. Mrs. Gordon was her most
profitable customer, and Katherine went there for needles and threads
and such small wares as are constantly needed in a household. And
whenever she did so, Miss Pitt was sure to remark, in an after-thought
kind of way, "Oh, I had nearly forgotten, miss! Here is a small parcel
that Mrs. Gordon desired me to present to you."

One exquisite morning in May, Katherine stood at an open window looking
over the garden and the river, and the green hills and meadows across
the stream. Her heart was full of hope. Richard's recovery was so far
advanced that he had taken several rides in the middle of the day.
Always he had passed the Van Heemskirks' house, and always Katherine had
been waiting to rain down upon his lifted face the influence of her most
bewitching beauty and her tenderest smiles. She was thinking of the last
of these events, - of Richard's rapid exhibition of a long, folded paper,
and the singular and emphatic wave which he gave it towards the river.
His whole air and attitude had expressed delight and hope; could he
really mean that she was to meet him again at their old trysting-place?

[Illustration: His whole air and attitude had expressed delight]

As thus she happily mused, some one called her mother from the front
hall. On fine mornings it was customary to leave the door standing open;
and the visitor advanced to the foot of the stairs, and called once
more, "Lysbet Van Heemskirk! Is there naebody in to bid me welcome?"
Then Katherine knew it was Madam Semple; and she ran to her mother's
room, and begged her to go down and receive the caller. For in these
days Katherine dreaded Madam Semple a little. Very naturally, the mother
blamed her for Neil's suffering and loss of time and prestige; and she
found it hard to forgive also her positive rejection of his suit. For
her sake, she herself had been made to suffer mortification and
disappointment. She had lost her friends in a way which deprived her of
all the fruits of her kindness. The Gordons thought Neil had
transgressed all the laws of hospitality. The Semples had a similar
charge to make. And it provoked Madam Semple that Mrs. Gordon continued
her friendship with Katherine. Every one else blamed Katherine
altogether in the matter; Mrs. Gordon had defied the use and wont of
society on such occasions, and thrown the whole blame on Neil. Somehow,
in her secret heart, she even blamed Lysbet a little. "Ever since I told
her there was an earldom in the family, she's been daft to push her
daughter into it," was her frequent remark to the elder; and he also
reflected that the proposed alliance of Neil and Katharine had been
received with coolness by Joris and Lysbet. "It was the soldier or the
dominie, either o' them before our Neil;" and, though there was no
apparent diminution of friendship, Semple and his wife frequently had a
little private grumble at their own fireside.

And toward Neil, Joris had also a secret feeling of resentment. He had
taken no pains to woo Katherine until some one else wanted her. It was
universally conceded that he had been the first to draw his sword, and
thus indulge his own temper at the expense of their child's good name
and happiness. Taking these faults as rudimentary ones, Lysbet could
enlarge on them indefinitely; and Joris had undoubtedly been influenced
by his wife's opinions. So, below the smiles and kind words of a long
friendship, there was bitterness. If there had not been, Janet Semple
would hardly have paid that morning visit; for before Lysbet was half
way down the stairs, Katherine heard her call out, -

"Here's a bonnie come of. But it is what a' folks expected. 'The
Dauntless' sailed the morn, and Captain Earle wi' a contingent for the
West Indies station. And who wi' him, guess you, but Captain Hyde, and
no less? They say he has a furlough in his pocket for a twelvemonth:
more like it's a clean, total dismissal. The gude ken it ought to be."

So much Katherine heard, then her mother shut to the door of the
sitting-room. A great fear made her turn faint and sick. Were her
father's words true? Was this the meaning of the mysterious wave of the
folded paper toward the ocean? The suspicion once entertained, she
remembered several little things which strengthened it. Her heart failed
her; she uttered a low cry of pain, and tottered to a chair, like one
wounded.

It was then ten o'clock. She thought the noon hour would never come.
Eagerly she watched for Bram and her father; for any certainty would be
better than such cruel fear and suspense. And, if Richard had really
gone, the fact would be known to them. Bram came first. For once she
felt impatient of his political enthusiasm. How could she care about
liberty poles and impressed fishermen, with such a real terror at her
heart? But Bram said nothing; only, as he went out, she caught him
looking at her with such pitiful eyes. "What did he mean?" She turned
coward then, and could not voice the question. Joris was tenderly
explicit. He said to her at once, "'The Dauntless' sailed this morning.
Oh, my little one, sorry I am for thee!"

"Is _he_ gone?" Very low and slow were the words; and Joris only
answered, "Yes."

Without any further question or remark, she went away. They were amazed
at her calmness. And for some minutes after she had locked the door of
her room, she stood still in the middle of the floor, more like one that
has forgotten something, and is trying to remember, than a woman who has
received a blow upon her heart. No tears came to her eyes. She did not
think of weeping, or reproaching, or lamenting. The only questions she
asked herself were, "How am I to get life over? Will such suffering kill
me very soon?"

Joris and Lysbet talked it over together. "Cohen told me," said Joris,
"that Captain Hyde called to bid him good-by. He said, 'He is a very
honourable young man, a very grateful young man, and I rejoice that I
was helpful in saving his life.' Then I asked him in what ship he was to
sail, and he said 'The Dauntless.' She left her moorings this morning
between nine and ten. She carries troops to Kingston, Captain Earle in
command; and I heard that Captain Hyde has a year's furlough."

Lysbet drew her lips tight, and said nothing. The last shadow of her own
dream had departed also, but it was of her child she thought. At that
hour she hated Hyde; and, after Joris had gone, she said in low, angry
tones, over and over, as she folded the freshly ironed linen, "I wish
that Neil had killed him!" About two o'clock she went to Katherine. The
girl opened her door at once to her. There was nothing to be said, no
hope to offer. Joris had seen Hyde embark; he had heard Mrs. Gordon and
the colonel bid him farewell. Several of his brother officers, also, and
the privates of his own troop, had been on the dock to see him sail. His
departure was beyond dispute.

And even while she looked at the woeful young face before her, the
mother anticipated the smaller, festering sorrows that would spring from
this great one, - the shame and mortification the mockery of those who
had envied Katherine; the inquiries, condolences, and advices of
friends; the complacent self-congratulation of Batavius, who would be
certain to remind them of every provoking admonition he had given on the
subject. And who does not know that these little trials of life are its
hardest trials? The mother did not attempt to say one word of comfort,
or hope, or excuse. She only took the child in her arms, and wept for
her. At this hour she would not wound her by even an angry word
concerning him.

"I loved him so much, _moeder_."

"Thou could not help it. Handsome, and gallant, and gay he was. I never
shall forget seeing thee dance with him."

"And he did love me. A woman knows when she is loved."

"Yes, I am sure he loved thee."

"He has gone? Really gone?"

"No doubt is there of it. Stay in thy room, and have thy grief out with
thyself."

"No; I will come to my work. Every day will now be the same. I shall
look no more for any joy; but my duty I will do."

They went downstairs together. The clean linen, the stockings that
required mending, lay upon the table. Katherine sat down to the task.
Resolutely, but almost unconsciously, she put her needle through and
through. Her suffering was pitiful; this little one, who a few months
ago would have wept for a cut finger, now silently battling with the
bitterest agony that can come to a loving woman, - the sense of cruel,
unexpected, unmerited desertion. At first Lysbet tried to talk to her;
but she soon saw that the effort to answer was beyond Katherine's
power, and conversation was abandoned. So for an hour, an hour of
speechless sorrow, they sat. The tick of the clock, the purr of the cat,
the snap of a breaking thread, alone relieved the tension of silence in
which this act of suffering was completed. Its atmosphere was becoming
intolerable, like that of a nightmare; and Lysbet was feeling that she
must speak and move, and so dissipate it, when there was a loud knock at
the front door.

Katherine trembled all over. "To-day I cannot bear it, mother. No one
can I see. I will go upstairs."

Ere the words were finished, Mrs. Gordon's voice was audible. She came
into the room laughing, with the smell of fresh violets and the feeling
of the brisk wind around her. "Dear madam," she cried, "I entreat you
for a favour. I am going to take the air this afternoon: be so good as
to let Katherine come with me. For I must tell you that the colonel has
orders for Boston, and I may see my charming friend no more after
to-day."

"Katherine, what say you? Will you go?"

"Please, _mijn moeder_."

"Make great haste, then." For Lysbet was pleased with the offer, and
fearful that Joris might arrive, and refuse to let his daughter accept
it. She hoped that Katherine would receive some comforting message; and
she was glad that on this day, of all others, Captain Hyde's aunt should
be seen with her. It would in some measure stop evil surmises; and it
left an air of uncertainty about the captain's relationship to
Katherine, which made the humiliation of his departure less keen.

[Illustration: "I am going to take the air this afternoon"]

"Stay not long," she whispered, "for your father's sake. There is no
good, more trouble to give him."

"Well, my dear, you look like a ghost. Have you not one smile for a
woman so completely in your interest? When I promised Dick this morning
that I would be _sure_ to get word to you, I was at my wits' end to
discover a way. But, when I am between the horns of a dilemma, I find it
the best plan to take the bull by the horns. Hence, I have made you a
visit which seems to have quite nonplussed you and your good mother."

"I thought Richard had gone."

"And you were breaking your heart, that is easy to be seen. He has gone,
but he will come back to-night at eight o'clock. No matter what
happens, be at the river-side. Do not fail Dick: he is taking his life
in his hand to see you."

"I will be there."

"La! what are you crying for, child? Poor girl! What are you crying for?
Dick, the scamp? He is not worthy of such pure tears; and yet, believe
me, he loves you to distraction."

"I thought he had gone - gone, without a word."

"Faith, you are not complimentary! I flatter myself that our Dick is a
gentleman. I do, indeed. And, as he is yet perfectly in his senses, you
might have trusted him."

"And you, do you go to Boston to-morrow?"

"The colonel does. At present, I have no such intentions. But I had to
have some extraordinary excuse, and I could invent no other. However,
you may say anything, if you only say it with an assurance. Madam wished
me a pleasant journey. I felt a little sorry to deceive so fine a lady."

"When will Richard return?"

"Indeed, I think you will have to answer for his resolves. But he will
speak for himself; and, in faith, I told him that he had come to a point
where I would be no longer responsible for his actions. I am thankful to
own that I have some conscience left."

The ride was not a very pleasant one. Katherine could not help feeling
that Mrs. Gordon was _distrait_ and inconsistent; and, towards its
close, she became very silent. Yet she kissed her kindly, and drawing
her closely for a last word, said, "Do not forget to wear your wadded
cloak and hood. You may have to take the water; for the councillor is
very suspicious, let me tell you. Remember what I say, - the wadded cloak
and hood; and good-by, good-by, my dear."

"Shall I see you soon?"

"When we may meet again, I do not pretend to say; till then, I am
entirely yours; and so again good-by."

The ride had not occupied an hour; but, when Katherine got home, Lysbet
was making tea. "A cup will be good for you, _mijn kind_." And she
smiled tenderly in the face that had been so white in its woeful
anguish, but on which there was now the gleam of hope. And she perceived
that Katherine had received some message, she even divined that there
might be some appointment to keep; and she determined not to be too wise
and prudent, but to trust Katherine for this evening with her own


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 11 of 20)