Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York online

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That night there was a meeting at the Town Hall, and Joris left the
house soon after his tea. He was greatly touched by Katharine's effort
to appear cheerful; and when she followed him to the door, and, ere he
opened it, put her arms round his neck, and kissed him, murmuring, "My
father, _mijn vader_!" he could not restrain his tears.

"_Mijn kind, my liefste kind_!" he answered. And then his soul in its
great emotion turned affectionately to the supreme fatherhood; for he
whispered to himself, as he walked slowly and solemnly in the pleasant
evening light: "'_Gelijk sich een vader outfermt over de kinderen_!' Oh,
so great must be Thy pity! My own heart can tell that now."

For an hour or more Katherine sat in the broad light of the window,
folding and unfolding the pieces of white linen, sewing a stitch or two
here, and putting on a button or tape there. Madam passed quietly to and
fro about her home duties, sometimes stopping to say a few words to her
daughter. It was a little interval of household calm, full of household
work; of love assured without need of words, of confidence anchored in
undoubting souls. When Lysbet was ready to do so, she began to lay into
the deep drawers of the presses the table-linen which Katherine had so
neatly and carefully examined. Over a pile of fine damask napkins she
stood, with a perplexed, annoyed face; and Katherine, detecting it, at
once understood the cause.

"One is wanting of the dozen, mother. At the last cake-baking, with the
dish of cake sent to Joanna it went. Back it has not come."

"For it you might go, Katherine. I like not that my sets are broken."

Katherine blushed scarlet. This was the opportunity she wanted. She
wondered if her mother suspected the want; but Lysbet's face expressed
only a little worry about the missing damask. Slowly, though her heart
beat almost at her lips, she folded away her work, and put her needle,
and thread, and thimble, and scissors, each in its proper place in her
house-wife. So deliberate were all her actions, that Lysbet's suspicions
were almost allayed. Yet she thought, "If out she wishes to go, leave I
have now given her; and, if not, still the walk will do her some good."
And yet there was in her heart just that element of doubt, which,
whenever it is present, ought to make us pause and reconsider the words
we are going to speak or write, and the deed we are going to do.

The nights were yet chilly, - though the first blooms were on the
trees, - and the wadded cloak and hood were not so far out of season as
to cause remark. As she came downstairs, the clock struck seven. There
was yet an hour, and she durst not wait so long at the bottom of the
garden while it was early in the evening. When her work was done, Lysbet
frequently walked down it; she had a motherly interest in the budding
fruit-trees and the growing flowers. And a singular reluctance to leave
home assailed Katherine. If she had known that it was to be forever, her
soul could not have more sensibly taken its farewell of all the dear,
familiar objects of her daily life. About her mother this feeling
culminated. She found her cap a little out of place; and her fingers
lingered in the lace, and stroked fondly her hair and pink cheeks, until
Lysbet felt almost embarrassed by the tender, but unusual show of

"Now, then, go, my Katherine. To Joanna give my dear love. Tell her that
very good were the cheesecakes and the krullers, and that to-morrow I
will come over and see the new carpet they have bought."

And while she spoke she was retying Katherine's hood, and admiring as
she did so the fair, sweet face in its quiltings or crimson satin, and
the small, dimpled chin resting upon the fine bow she tied under it.
Then she followed her to the door, and watched her down the road until
she saw her meet Dominie Van Linden, and stand a moment holding his
hand. "A message I am going for my mother," she said, as she firmly
refused his escort. "Then with madam, your mother, I will sit until you
return," he replied cheerfully; and Katherine answered, "That will be a
great pleasure to her, sir."

A little farther she walked; but suddenly remembering that the dominie's
visit would keep her mother in the house, and being made restless by the
gathering of the night shadows, she turned quickly, and taking the very
road up which Hyde had come the night Neil Semple challenged him, she
entered the garden by a small gate at its foot, which was intended for
the gardener's use. The lilacs had not much foliage, but in the dim
light her dark, slim figure was undistinguishable behind them. Longingly
and anxiously she looked up and down the water-way. A mist was gathering
over it; and there were no boats in the channel except two
pleasure-shallops, already tacking to their proper piers. "The
Dauntless" had been out of sight for hours. There was not the splash of
an oar, and no other river sound at that point, but the low, peculiar
"wish-h-h" of the turning tide.

In the pettiest character there are unfathomable depths; and
Katherine's, though yet undeveloped, was full of noble aspirations and
singularly sensitive. As she stood there alone, watching and waiting in
the dim light, she had a strange consciousness of some mysterious life
ante-dating this life! and of a long-forgotten voice filling the
ear-chambers of that spiritual body which was the celestial inhabitant
of her natural body. "_Richard, Richard_," she murmured; and she never
doubted but that he heard her.

All her senses were keenly on the alert. Suddenly there was the sound of
oars, and the measure was that of steady, powerful strokes. She turned
her face southward, and watched. Like a flash a boat shot out of the
shadow, - a long, swift boat, that came like a Fate, rapidly and without
hesitation, to her very feet. Richard quickly left it and with a few
strokes it was carried back into the dimness of the central channel.
Then he turned to the lilac-trees.


It was but a whisper, but she heard it. He opened his arms, and she flew
to their shelter like a bird to her mate.

"My love, my wife, my beautiful wife! My true, good heart! Now, at last
my own; nothing shall part us again, Katherine, - never again. I have
come for you - come at all risks for you. Only five minutes the boat can
wait. Are you ready?"

"I know not, Richard. My father - my mother" -

"My husband! Say that also, beloved. Am I not first? If you will not go
with me, _here_ I shall stay; and, as I am still on duty, death and
dishonour will be the end. O Katherine, shall I die again for you? Will
you break my sword in disgrace over my head! Faith, darling, I know that
you would rather die for me."

"If one word I could send them! They suspect me not. They think you are
gone. It will kill my father."

[Illustration: "I will go with you, Richard"]

"You shall write to them on the ship. There are a dozen fishing-boats
near it. We will send the letter by one of them. They will get it early
in the morning. Sweet Kate, come. Here is the boat. 'The Dauntless' lies
down the bay, and we have a long pull. My wife, do you need more

He released her from his embrace with the words, and stood holding her
hands, and looking into her face. No woman is insensible to a certain
kind of authority; and there was fascination as well as power in Hyde's
words and manner, emphasized by the splendour of his uniform, and the
air of command that seemed to be a part of it.

"It is for you to decide, Katherine. The boat is here. Even I must obey
or disobey orders. Will you not go with me, your husband, to love and
life and honour; or shall I stay with you, for disgrace and death? For
from you I will not part again."

She had no time to consider how much truth there was in this desperate
statement. The boat was waiting. Richard was wooing her consent with
kisses and entreaties. Her own soul urged her, not only by the joy of
his presence, but by the memory of the anguish she had endured that day
in the terror of his desertion. From the first moment she had hesitated;
therefore, from the first moment she had yielded. She clung to her
husband's arm, she lifted her face to his, she said softly, but clearly,
"I will go with you, Richard. With you I will go. Where to, I care not
at all."

They stepped into the boat, and Hyde said, "Oars." Not a word was
spoken. He held her within his left arm, close to his side, and
partially covered with his military cloak. It was the boat belonging to
the commander of "The Dauntless," and the six sailors manning it sent
the light craft flying like an arrow down the bay. All the past was
behind her. She had done what was irrevocable. For joy or for sorrow,
her place was evermore at her husband's side. Richard understood the
decision she was coming to; knew that every doubt and fear had vanished
when her hand stole into his hand, when she slightly lifted her face,
and whispered, "Richard."

They were practically alone upon the misty river; and Richard answered
the tender call with sweet, impassioned kisses; with low, lover-like,
encouraging words; with a silence that thrilled with such soft beat and
subsidence of the spirit's wing, as -

"When it feels, in cloud-girt wayfaring,
The breath of kindred plumes against its feet."

[Illustration: Tail-piece]

[Illustration: Chapter heading]


"_Good people, how they wrangle!
The manners that they never mend,
The characters they mangle!
They eat and drink, and scheme and plod,
And go to church on Sunday;
And many are afraid of God,
And some of Mrs. Grundy_."

During that same hour Joris was in the town council. There had been a
stormy and prolonged session on the Quartering Act. "To little purpose
have we compelled the revocation of the Stamp Act," he cried, "if the
Quartering Act upon us is to be forced. We want not English soldiers
here. In our homes why should we quarter them?"

All the way home he was asking himself the question; and, when he found
Dominie Van Linden talking to Lysbet, he gladly discussed it over again
with him. Lysbet sat beside them, knitting and listening. Until after
nine o'clock Joris did not notice the absence of his daughter. "She
went to Joanna's," said Lysbet calmly. No fear had yet entered her
heart. Perhaps she had a vague suspicion that Katherine might also go to
Mrs. Gordon's, and she was inclined to avoid any notice of the lateness
of the hour. If it were even ten o'clock when she returned, Lysbet
intended to make no remarks. But ten o'clock came, and the dominie went,
and Joris suddenly became anxious about Katherine.

His first anger fell upon Bram. "He ought to have been at home. Then he
could have gone for his sister. He is not attentive enough to Katherine;
and very fond is he of hanging about Miriam Cohen's doorstep."

"What say you, Joris, about Miriam Cohen?"

"I spoke in my temper."

He would not explain his words, and Lysbet would not worry him about
Katherine. "To Joanna's she went, and Batavius is in Boston. Very well,
then, she has stayed with her sister."

Still, in her own heart there was a certain uneasiness. Katherine had
never remained all night before without sending some message, or on a
previous understanding to that effect. But the absence of Batavius, and
the late hour at which she went, might account for the omission,
especially as Lysbet remembered that Joanna's servant had been sick, and
might be unfit to come. She was determined to excuse Katherine, and she
refused to acknowledge the dumb doubt and fear that crouched at her own

In the morning Joris rose very early and went into the garden. Generally
this service to nature calmed and cheered him; but he came to breakfast
from it, silent and cross. And Lysbet was still disinclined to open a
conversation about Katharine. She had enough to do to combat her own
feeling on the subject; and she was sensible that Joris, in the absence
of any definite object for his anger, blamed her for permitting
Katherine so much liberty.

"Where, then, is Bram?" he asked testily. "When I was a young man, it
was the garden or the store for me before this hour. Too much you
indulge the children, Lysbet."

"Bram was late to bed. He was on the watch last night at the pole. You
know, Councillor, who in that kind of business has encouraged him."

"Every night the watch is not for him."

"Oh, then, but the bad habit is made!"

"Well, well; tell him to Joanna's to go the first thing, and to send
home Katherine. I like her not in the house of Batavius."

"Joanna is her sister, Joris."

"Joanna is nothing at all in this world but the wife of Batavius. Send
for Katherine home. I like her best to be with her mother."

As he spoke, Bram came to the table, looking a little heavy and sleepy.
Joris rose without more words, and in a few moments the door shut
sharply behind him. "What is the matter with my father?"

"Cross he is." By this time Lysbet was also cross; and she continued,
"No wonder at it. Katherine has stayed at Joanna's all night, and late
to breakfast were you. Yet ever since you were a little boy, you have
heard your father say one thing, 'Late to breakfast, hurried at dinner,
behind at supper;' and I also have noticed, that, when the comfort of
the breakfast is spoiled, then all the day its bad influence is felt."

In the meantime Joris reached his store in that mood which apprehends
trouble, and finds out annoyances that under other circumstances would
not have any attention. The store was in its normal condition, but he
was angry at the want of order in it. The mail was no later than usual,
but he complained of its delay. He was threatening a general reform in
everything and everybody, when a man came to the door, and looked up at
the name above it.

"Joris Van Heemskirk is the name, sir;" and Joris went forward, and
asked a little curtly, "What, then, can I do for you?"

"I am Martin Hudde the fisherman."

"Well, then?"

"If you are Joris Van Heemskirk, I have a letter for you. I got it from
'The Dauntless' last night, when I was fishing in the bay."

Without a word Joris took the letter, turned into his office, and shut
the door; and Hudde muttered as he left, "I am glad that I got a crown
with it, for here I have not got a 'thank you.'"

It was Katherine's writing; and Joris held the folded paper in his hand,
and looked stupidly at it. The truth was forcing itself into his mind,
and the slow-coming conviction was a real physical agony to him. He put
his hand on the desk to steady himself; and Nature, in great drops of
sweat, made an effort to relieve the oppression and stupor which
followed the blow. In a few minutes he opened and laid it before him.
Through a mist he made out these words:

MY FATHER AND MY MOTHER: I have gone with my husband. I married Richard
when he was ill, and to-night he came for me. When I left home, I knew
not I was to go. Only five minutes I had. In God's name, this is the
truth. Always, at the end of the world, I shall love you. Forgive me,
forgive me, _mijn fader, mijn moeder_.
Your child,

He tore the letter into fragments; but the next moment he picked them
up, folded them in a piece of paper, and put them in his pocket. Then he
went to Mrs. Gordon's. She had anticipated the visit, and was, in a
measure, prepared for it. With a smile and outstretched hands, she rose
from her chocolate to meet him. "You see, I am a terrible sluggard,
Councillor," she laughed; "but the colonel left early for Boston this
morning, and I cried myself into another sleep. And will you have a cup
of chocolate? I am sure you are too polite to refuse me."

"Madam, I came not on courtesy, but for my daughter. Where is my

"Truth, sir, I believe her to be where every woman wishes, - with her
husband. I am sure I wish the colonel was with me."

"Her husband! Who, then?"

"Indeed, Councillor, that is a question easily answered, - my nephew,
Captain Hyde, at your service. You perceive, sir, we are now
connections; and I assure you I have the highest sense imaginable of the

"When were they married?"

"In faith, I have forgotten the precise date. It was in last October; I
know it was, because I had just received my winter manteau, - my blue
velvet one, with the fur bands.'

"Who married them?"

[Illustration: "Madam, I come not on courtesy"]

"Oh, indeed! It was the governor's chaplain, - the Rev. Mr. Somers, a
relative of my Lord Somers, a most estimable and respectable person, I
assure you. Colonel Gordon, and Captain Earle, and myself, were the
witnesses. The governor gave the license; and, in consideration of
Dick's health, the ceremony was performed in his room. All was perfectly
correct and regular, I" -

"It is not the truth. Pardon, madam; full of trouble am I. And it was
all irregular, and very wicked, and very cruel. If regular and right it
had been, then in secret it had not taken place."

"Admit, Councillor, that then it had not taken place at all; or, at
least, Richard would have had to wait until Katherine was of age."

"So; and that would have been right. Until then, if love had lasted, I
would have said, 'Their love is stronger than my dislike;' and I would
have been content."

"Ah, sir, there was more to the question than that! My nephew's chances
for life were very indifferent, and he desired to shield Katherine's
name with his own" -

"_Christus!_ What say you, madam? Had Katherine no father?"

"Oh, be not so warm, Councillor! A husband's name is a far bigger shield
than a father's. I assure you that the world forgives a married woman
what it would not forgive an angel. And I must tell you, also, that
Dick's very life depended on the contentment which he felt in his
success. It is the part of humanity to consider that."

"Twice over deceived I have been then" -

"In short, sir, there was no help for it. Dick received a most
unexpected favour of a year's furlough two days ago. It was important
for his wounded lung that he should go at once to a warm climate. 'The
Dauntless' was on the point of sailing for the West Indies. To have
bestowed our confidence on you, would have delayed or detained our
patient, or sent him away without his wife. It was my fault that
Katherine had only five minutes given her. Oh, sir, I know my own sex!
And, if you will take time to reflect, I am sure that you will be

"Without his wife! His wife! Without my consent? No, she is not his

"Sir, you must excuse me if I do not honour your intelligence or your
courtesy. I have said '_she is his wife_.' It is past a doubt that they
are married."

"I know not, I know not - O my Katherine, my Katherine!"

"I pray you, sit down, Councillor. You look faint and ill; and in faith
I am very sorry that, to make two people happy, others must be made so
wretched." She rose and filled a glass with wine, and offered it to
Joris, who was the very image of mental suffering, - all the fine colour
gone out of his face, and his large blue eyes swimming in unshed tears.

"Drink, sir. Upon my word, you are vastly foolish to grieve so. I
protest to you that Katherine is happy; and grieving will not restore
your loss."

"For that reason I grieve, madam. Nothing can give me back my child."

"Come, sir, every one has his calamity; and, upon my word, you are very
fortunate to have one no greater than the marriage of your daughter to
an agreeable man, of honourable profession and noble family."

"Five minutes only! How could the child think? To take her away thus was
cruel. Many things a woman needs when she journeys."

"Oh, indeed, Katharine was well considered! I myself packed a trunk for
her with every conceivable necessity, as well as gowns and manteaus of
the finest material and the most elegant fashion. If Dick had been
permitted, he would have robbed the Province for her. I assure you that
I had to lock my trunks to preserve a change of gowns for myself. When
the colonel returns, he will satisfy you that Katherine has done
tolerably well in her marriage with our nephew. And, indeed, I must beg
you to excuse me further. I have been in a hurry of affairs and emotions
for two days; and I am troubled with the vapours this morning, and feel
myself very indifferently."

Then Joris understood that he had been politely dismissed. But there was
no unkindness in the act. He glanced at the effusive little lady, and
saw that she was on the point of crying, and very likely in the first
pangs of a nervous headache; and, without further words, he left her.

The interview had given Joris very little comfort. At first, his great
terror had been that Katherine had fled without any religious sanction;
but no sooner was this fear dissipated, than he became conscious, in all
its force, of his own personal loss and sense of grievance. From Mrs.
Gordon's lodgings he went to those of Dominie Van Linden. He felt sure
of his personal sympathy; and he knew that the dominie would be the best
person to investigate the circumstances of the marriage, and
authenticate their propriety.

Then Joris went home. On his road he met Bram, full of the first terror
of his sister's disappearance. He told him all that was necessary, and
sent him back to the store. "And see you keep a modest face, and make no
great matter of it," he said. "Be not troubled nor elated. It belongs to
you to be very prudent; for your sister's good name is in your care, and
this is a sorrow outsiders may not meddle with. Also, at once go back to
Joanna's, and tell her the same thing. I will not have Katherine made a
wonder to gaping women."

Lysbet was still a little on the defensive; but, when she saw Joris
coming home, her heart turned sick with fear. She was beating eggs for
her cake-making, and she went on with the occupation; merely looking up
to say, "Thee, Joris; dinner will not be ready for two hours! Art thou

"Katherine - she has gone!"

"Gone? And where, then?"

"With that Englishman; in 'The Dauntless' they have gone."

"Believe it not. 'The Dauntless' left yesterday morning: Katherine at
seven o'clock last night was with me."

"Ah, he must have returned for her! Well he knew that if he did not
steal her away, I had taken her from him. Yes, and I feared him. When I
heard that 'The Dauntless' was to take him to the West Indies, I watched
the ship. After I kissed Katherine yesterday morning, I went straight to
the pier, and waited until she was on her way." Then he told her all
Mrs. Gordon had said, and showed her the fragments of Katherine's
letter. The mother kissed them, and put them in her bosom; and, as she
did so, she said softly, "it was a great strait, Joris."

"Well, well, we also must pass through it. The Dominie Van Linden has
gone to examine the records; and then, if she his lawful wife be, in the
newspapers I must advertise the marriage. Much talk and many questions I
shall have to bear."

"'If,' 'if she his lawful wife be!' Say not 'if' in my hearing; say not
'if' of my Katherine."

"When a girl runs away from her home" -

"With her husband she went; keep that in mind when people speak to

"What kind of a husband will he be to her?"

"Well, then, I think not bad of him. Nearer home there are worse men.
Now, if sensible thou be, thou wilt make the best of what is beyond thy
power. Every bird its own nest builds in its own way. Nay, but blind
birds are we all, and God builds for us. This marriage of God's ordering
may be, though not of thy ordering; and against it I would no longer
fight. I think my Katherine is happy; and happy with her I will be,
though the child in her joy I see not."

"So much talk as there will be. In the store and the streets, a man must
listen. And some with me will condole, and some with congratulations
will come; and both to me will be vinegar and gall."

"To all - friends and unfriends - say this: 'Every one chooses for
themselves. Captain Hyde loved my daughter, and for her love nearly he
died; and my daughter loved him; and what has been from the creation,
will be.' Say also, 'Worse might have come; for he hath a good heart,
and in the army he is much loved, and of a very high family is he.'
Joris, let me see thee pluck up thy courage like a man. Better may come
of this than has come of things better looking. Much we thought of
Batavius" -

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 12 of 20)