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"On that subject wilt thou be quiet?"

"And, if at poor little Katherine thou be angry, speak out thy mind to
me; to others, say nothing but well of the dear one. Now, then, I will
get thee thy dinner; for in sorrow a good meal is a good medicine."

[Illustration: "O mother, my sister Katherine!"]

While they were eating this early dinner, Joanna came in, sad and
tearful; and with loud lamentings she threw herself upon her mother's
shoulder. "What, then, is the matter with thee?" asked Lysbet, with
great composure.

"O mother, my Katherine! my sister Katherine!"

"I thought perhaps thou had bad news of Batavius. Thy sister Katherine
hath married a very fine gentleman, and she is happy. For thou must
remember that all the good men do not come from Dordrecht."

"I am glad that so you take it. I thought in very great sorrow you would
be."

"See that you do not say such words to any one, Joanna. Very angry will
I be if I hear them. Batavius, also; he must be quiet on this matter."

"Oh, then, Batavius has many things of greater moment to think about! Of
Katherine he never approved; and the talk there will be he will not like
it. Before from Boston he comes back, I shall be glad to have it over."

"None of his affair it is," said Joris. "Of my own house and my own
daughter, I can take the care. And if he like the talk, or if he like
not the talk, there it will be. Who will stop talking because Batavius
comes home?"

When Joris spoke in this tone on any subject, no one wished to continue
it: and it was not until her father had left the house, that Joanna
asked her mother particularly about Katherine's marriage. "Was she sure
of it? Had they proofs? Would it be legal? More than a dozen people
stopped me as I came over here," she said, "and asked me about
everything."

"I know not how more than a dozen people knew of anything, Joanna. But
many ill-natured words will be spoken, doubtless. Even Janet Semple came
here yesterday, thinking over Katherine to exult a little. But Katherine
is a great deal beyond her to-day. And perhaps a countess she may yet
be. That is what her husband said to thy father."

"I knew not that he spoke to my father about Katherine."

"Thou knows not all things. Before thou wert married to Batavius, before
Neil Semple nearly murdered him, he asked of thy father her hand. Thou
wast born on thy wedding day, I think. All things that happened before
it have from thy memory passed away."

"Well, I am a good wife, I know that. That also is what Batavius says.
Just before I got to the gate, I met Madam Semple and Gertrude Van
Gaasbeeck; they had been shopping together."

"Did they speak of Katherine?"

"Indeed they did."

"Or did you speak first, Joanna? It is an evil bird that pulls to pieces
its own nest."

"O mother, scolded I cannot be for Katherine's folly! My Batavius always
said, 'The favourite is Katherine.' Always he thought that of me too
much was expected. And Madam Semple said - and always she liked
Katherine - that very badly had she behaved for a whole year, and that
the end was what everybody had looked for. It is on me very hard, - I who
have always been modest, and taken care of my good name. Nobody in the
whole city will have one kind word to say for Katherine. You will see
that it is so, mother."

"You will see something very different, Joanna. Many will praise
Katherine, for she to herself has done well. And, when back she comes,
at the governor's she will visit, and with all the great ladies; and not
one among them will be so lovely as Katherine Hyde."

And, if Joanna had been in Madam Semple's parlour a few hours later, she
would have had a most decided illustration of Lysbet's faith in the
popular verdict. Madam was sitting at her tea-table talking to the
elder, who had brought home with him the full supplement to Joanna's
story. Both were really sorry for their old friends, although there is
something in the best kind of human nature that indorses the punishment
of those things in which old friends differ from us.

Neil had heard nothing. He had been shut up in his office all day over
an important suit; and, when he took the street again, he was weary, and
far from being inclined to join any acquaintances in conversation. In
fact, the absorbing topic was one which no one cared to introduce in
Neil's presence; and he himself was too full of professional matters to
notice that he attracted more than usual attention from the young men
standing around the store-doors, and the officers lounging in front of
the 'King's Arms' tavern.

He was irritable, too, with exhaustion, though he was doing his best to
keep himself in control and when madam his mother said pointedly, "I'm
fearing, Neil, that the bad news has made you ill; you arena at a' like
yoursel'," he asked without much interest, "What bad news?"

"The news anent Katherine Van Heemskirk."

He had supposed it was some political disappointment, and at Katherine's
name his pale face grew suddenly crimson.

"What of her?" he asked.

"Didna you hear? She ran awa' last night wi' Captain Hyde; stole awa'
wi' him on 'The Dauntless.'"

"She would have the right to go with him, I have no doubt," said Neil
with guarded calmness.

"Do you really think she was his wife?"

"If she went with him, _I am sure she was_." He dropped the words with
an emphatic precision, and looked with gloomy eyes out of the window;
gloomy, but steadfast, as if he were trying to face a future in which
there was no hope. His mother did not observe him. She went on prattling
as she filled the elder's cup, "If there had been any wedding worth the
name o' the thing, we would hae been bidden to it. I dinna believe she
is married."

"Are you sure that she sailed with Captain Hyde in 'The Dauntless,' or
is it a pack of women's tales?"

"The news cam' wi' your fayther the elder," answered madam, much
offended. "You can mak' your inquiries there if you think he's mair
reliable than I am."

Neil looked at his father, and the elder said quietly, "I wouldna be
positive anent any woman; the bad are whiles good, and the good are
whiles bad. But there is nae doubt that Katherine has gone with Hyde;
and I heard that the military at the 'King's Arms' have been drinking
bumpers to Captain Hyde and his bride; and I know that Mrs. Gordon has
said they were married lang syne, when Hyde couldna raise himsel' or put
a foot to the ground. But Joanna told your mother _she_ had neither seen
nor heard tell o' book, ring, or minister; and, as I say, for mysel'
I'll no venture a positive opinion, but I _think_ the lassie is married
to the man she's off an' awa' wi'."

"But if she isna?" persisted madam.

In a moment Neil let slip the rein in which he had been holding himself,
and in a slow, intense voice answered, "I shall make it my business to
find out. If Katherine is married, God bless her! If she is not, I will
follow Hyde though it were around the world until I cleave his coward's
heart in two." His passion grew stronger with its utterance. He pushed
away his chair, and put down his cup so indifferently that it missed the
table and fell with a crash to the floor.

[Illustration: "Oh, my cheeny, my cheeny!"]

"Oh, my cheeny, my cheeny! Oh, my bonnie cups that I hae used for forty
years, and no' a piece broken afore!"

"Ah, weel, Janet," said the elder, "you shouldna badger an angry man
when he's drinking from your best cups."

"I canna mend nor match it in the whole Province, Elder. Oh, my bonnie
cup."

"I was thinking, Janet, o' Katherine's good name. If it is gane, it is
neither to mend nor to match in the whole wide world. I'll awa' and see
Joris and Lysbet. And put every cross thought where you'll never find
them again, Janet; an tak' your good-will in your hands, and come wi'
me. Lysbet will want to see you."

"Not her, indeed! I can tell you, Elder, that Lysbet was vera cool and
queer wi' me yesterday."

"Come, Janet, dinna keep your good-nature in remnants. Let's hae enough
to make a cloak big enough to cover a' bygone faults."

"I think, then, I ought to stay wi' Neil."

"Neil doesna want anybody near him. Leave him alane. Neil's a' right.
Forty years syne I would hae broke my mother's cheeny, and drawn steel
as quick as Neil did, if I heard a word against bonnie Janet Gordon."
And the old man made his wife a bow; and madam blushed with pleasure,
and went upstairs to put on her bonnet and India shawl.

"Woman, woman," meditated the smiling elder; "she is never too angry to
be won wi' a mouthful o' sweet words, special if you add a bow or a kiss
to them. My certie! when a husband can get his ain way at sic a sma'
price, it's just wonderfu' he doesna buy it in perpetuity."

Joris was somewhat comforted by his old friend's sympathy; for the
elder, in the hour of trial, knew how to be magnanimous. But the
father's wound lay deeper than human love could reach. He was suffering
from what all suffer who are wounded in their affections; for alas,
alas, how poorly do we love even those whom we love most! We are not
only bruised by the limitations of their love for us, but also by the
limitations of our own love for them. And those who know what it is to
be strong enough to wrestle, and yet not strong enough to overcome, will
understand how the grief, the anger, the jealousy, the resentment, from
which he suffered, amazed Joris; he had not realized before the depth
and strength of his feelings.

He tried to put the memory of Katherine away, but he could not
accomplish a miracle. The girl's face was ever before him. He felt her
caressing fingers linked in his own; and, as he walked in his house and
his garden, her small feet pattered beside him. For as there are in
creation invisible bonds that do not break like mortal bonds, so also
there are correspondences subsisting between souls, despite the
separation of distance.

"I would forget Katherine if I could," he said to Dominie Van Linden;
and the good man, bravely putting aside his private grief, took the
hands of Joris in his own, and bending toward him, answered, "That would
be a great pity. Why forget? Trust, rather, that out of sorrow God will
bring to you joy."

"Not natural is that, Dominie. How can it be? I do not understand how it
can be."

"You do not understand! Well, then, _och mijn jongen_, what matters
comprehension, if you have faith? Trust, now, that it is well with the
child."

But Joris believed it was ill with her; and he blamed not only himself,
but every one in connection with Katherine, for results which he was
certain might have been foreseen and prevented. Did he not foresee them?
Had he not spoken plainly enough to Hyde and to Lysbet and to the child
herself? He should have seen her to Albany, to her sister Cornelia. For
he believed now that Lysbet had not cordially disapproved of Hyde; and
as for Joanna, she had been far too much occupied with Batavius and her
own marriage to care for any other thing. And one of his great fears was
that Katherine also would forget her father and mother and home, and
become a willing alien from her own people.

He was so wrapped up in his grief, that he did not notice that Bram was
suffering also. Bram got the brunt of the world's wonderings and
inquiries. People who did not like to ask Joris questions, felt no such
delicacy with Bram. And Bram not only tenderly loved his sister: he
hated with the unreasoning passion of youth the entire English soldiery.
He made no exception now. They were the visible marks of a subjection
which he was sworn, heart and soul, to oppose. It humiliated him among
his fellows, that his sister should have fled with one of them. It gave
those who envied and disliked him an opportunity of inflicting covert
and cruel wounds. Joris could, in some degree, control himself; he could
speak of the marriage with regret, but without passion; he had even
alluded, in some cases, to Hyde's family and expectations. The majority
believed that he was secretly a little proud of the alliance. But Bram
was aflame with indignation; first, if the marriage were at all doubted;
second, if it were supposed to be a satisfactory one to any member of
the Van Heemskirk family.

As to the doubters, they were completely silenced when the next issue of
the "New York Gazette" appeared; for among its most conspicuous
advertisements was the following:

Married, Oct. 19, 1765, by the Rev. Mr. Somers, chaplain to his
Excellency the Governor, Richard Drake Hyde, of Hyde Manor, Norfolk, son
of the late Richard Drake Hyde, and brother of William Drake Hyde, Earl
of Dorset and Hyde, to Katherine, the youngest daughter of Joris and
Lysbet Van Heemskirk, of the city and province of New York.

_Witnesses_: NIGEL GORDON, H.M. Nineteenth
Light Cavalry.
GEORGE EARLE, H.M. Nineteenth
Light Cavalry.
ADELAIDE GORDON, wife of Nigel
Gordon.

This announcement took every one a little by surprise. A few were really
gratified; the majority perceived that it silenced gossip of a very
enthralling kind. No one could now deplore or insinuate, or express
sorrow or astonishment. And, as rejoicing with one's friends and
neighbours soon becomes a very monotonous thing, Katherine Van
Heemskirk's fine marriage was tacitly dropped. Only for that one day on
which it was publicly declared, was it an absorbing topic. The whole
issue of the "Gazette" was quickly bought; and then people, having seen
the fact with their own eyes, felt a sudden satiety of the whole affair.

On some few it had a more particular influence. Hyde's brother officers
held high festival to their comrade's success. To every bumper they read
the notice aloud, as a toast, and gave a kind of national triumph to
what was a purely personal affair. Joris read it with dim eyes, and then
lit his long Gouda pipe and sat smoking with an air of inexpressible
loneliness. Lysbet read it, and then put the paper carefully away among
the silks and satins in her bottom drawer. Joanna read it, and then
immediately bought a dozen copies and sent them to the relatives of
Batavius, in Dordrecht, Holland.

Neil Sample read and re-read it. It seemed to have a fascination for
him; and for more than an hour he sat musing, with his eyes fixed upon
the fateful words. Then he rose and went to the hearth. There were a few
sticks of wood burning upon it, but they had fallen apart. He put them
together, and, tearing out the notice, he laid it upon them. It meant
much more to Neil than the destruction of a scrap of paper, and he stood
watching it, long after it had become a film of grayish ash.

Bram would not read it at all. He was too full of shame and trouble at
the event; and the moments went as if they moved on lead. But the
unhappy day wore away to its evening; and after tea he gathered a great
nosegay of narcissus, and went to Isaac Cohen's. He did not "hang about
the steps," as Joris in his temper had said. Miriam was not one of those
girls who sit in the door to be gazed at by every passing man. He went
into the store, and she seemed to know his footstep. He had no need to
speak: she came at once from the mystery behind the crowded place into
the clearer light. Plain and dark were her garments, and Bram would have
been unable to describe her dress; but it was as fitting to her as are
the green leaves of the rose-tree to the rose.

Their acquaintance had evidently advanced since that anxious evening
when she had urged upon Bram the intelligence of the duel between Hyde
and Neil Semple; for Bram gave her the flowers without embarrassment,
and she buried her sweet face in their sweet petals, and then lifted it
with a smile at once grateful and confidential. Then they began to talk
of Katherine.

[Illustration: Plain and dark were her garments]

"She was so beautiful and so kind," said Miriam; "just a week since
she passed here, with some violets in her hand; and, when she saw me,
she ran up the steps, and said, 'I have brought them for you;' and she
clasped my fingers, and looked so pleasantly in my face. If I had a
sister, Bram, I think she would smile at me in the same way."

"Very grateful to you was Katharine. All you did about the duel, I told
her. She knows her husband had not been alive to-day, but for you. O
Miriam, if you had not spoken!"

"I should have had the stain of blood on my conscience. I did right to
speak. My grandfather said to me, 'You did quite right, my dear.'"

Then Bram told her all the little things that had grieved him, and they
talked as dear companions might talk; only, beneath all the common words
of daily life, there was some subtile sweetness that made their voices
low and their glances shy and tremulous.

It was not more than an hour ere Cohen came home. He looked quickly at
the young people, and then stood by Bram, and began to talk courteously
of passing events. Miriam leaned, listening, against a magnificent
"apostle's cabinet" in black oak - one of those famous ones made in
Nuremburg in the fifteenth century, with locks and hinges of
hammered-steel work, and finely chased handles of the same material.
Against its carved and pillared background her dark drapery fell in
almost unnoticed grace; but her fair face and small hands, with the mass
of white narcissus in them, had a singular and alluring beauty. She
affected Bram as something sweetly supernatural might have done. It was
an effort for him to answer Cohen; he felt as if it would be impossible
for him to go away.

But the clock struck the hour, and the shop boy began to put up the
shutters; and the old man walked to the door, taking Bram with him. Then
Miriam, smiling her farewell, passed like a shadow into the darker
shadows beyond; and Bram went home, wondering to find that she had cast
out of his heart hatred, malice, fretful worry, and all
uncharitableness. How could he blend them with thoughts of her? and how
could he forget the slim, dark-robed figure, or the lovely face against
the old black _kas_, crowned with its twelve sombre figures, or the
white slender hands holding the white fragrant flowers?

[Illustration: Tail-piece]

[Illustration: Chapter heading]




XI.

"_Each man's homestead is his golden milestone,
Is the central point from which he measures
Every distance
Through the gateways of the world around him._"


There are certain months in every life which seem to be full of fate,
good or evil, for that life; and May was Katherine Hyde's luck month. It
was on a May afternoon that Hyde had asked her love; it was on a May
night she fled with him through the gray shadows of the misty river.
Since then a year had gone by, and it was May once more, - an English
May, full of the magic of the month; clear skies, and young foliage, and
birds' songs, the cool, woody smell of wall-flowers, and the ethereal
perfume of lilies.

In Hyde Manor House, there was that stir of preparation which indicates
a departure. The house was before time; it had the air of early rising;
the atmosphere of yesterday had not been dismissed, but lingered
around, and gave the idea of haste and change, and departure from
regular custom. It was, indeed, an hour before the usual breakfast-time;
but Hyde and Katharine were taking a hasty meal together. Hyde was in
full uniform, his sword at his side, his cavalry cap and cloak on a
chair near him; and up and down the gravelled walk before the main
entrance a groom was leading his horse.

"I must see what is the matter with Mephisto," said Hyde. "How he is
snorting and pawing! And if Park loses control of him, I shall be
greatly inconvenienced for both horse and time."

The remark was partially the excuse of a man who feels that he must go,
and who tries to say the hard words in less ominous form. They both rose
together, - Katherine bravely smiling away tears, and looking exceedingly
lovely in her blue morning-gown trimmed with frillings of thread lace;
and Hyde, gallant and tender, but still with the air of a man not averse
to go back to life's real duty. He took Katherine in his arms, kissed
away her tears, made her many a loving promise, and then, lifting his
cap and cloak, left the room. The servants were lingering around to get
his last word, and to wish him "God-speed;" and for a few minutes he
stood talking to his groom and soothing Mephisto. Evidently he had quite
recovered his health and strength; for he sprang very easily into the
saddle, and, gathering the reins in his hand, kept the restive animal in
perfect control.

A moment he stood thus, the very ideal of a fearless, chivalrous,
handsome soldier; the next, his face softened to almost womanly
tenderness, for he saw Katherine coming hastily through the dim hall and
into the clear sunshine, and in her arms was his little son. She came
fearlessly to his side, and lifted the sleeping child to him. He stooped
and kissed it, and then kissed again the beautiful mother; and calling
happily backward, "Good-by, my love; God keep you, love; good-by!" he
gave Mephisto his own wild will, and was soon lost to sight among the
trees of the park.

[Illustration: Katherine stood with her child in her arms]

Katherine stood with her child in her arms, listening to the ever faint
and fainter beat of Mephisto's hoofs. Her husband had gone back to duty,
his furlough had expired, and their long, and leisurely honeymoon was
over. But she was neither fearful nor unhappy. Hyde's friends had
procured his exchange into a court regiment. He was only going to
London, and he was still her lover. She looked forward with clear eyes
as she said gratefully over to herself, "So happy am I! So good is my
husband! So dear is my child! So fair and sweet is my home!"

And though to many minds Hyde Manor might seem neither fair nor sweet,
Katherine really liked it. Perhaps she had some inherited taste for low
lands, with their shimmer of water and patches of green; or perhaps the
gentle beauty of the landscape specially fitted her temperament. But, at
any rate, the wide brown stretches, dotted with lonely windmills and low
farmhouses, pleased her. So also did the marshes, fringed with yellow
and purple flags; and the great ditches, white with water-lilies; and
the high belts of natural turf; and the summer sunshine, which over this
level land had a white brilliancy to which other sunshine seemed shadow.
Hyde had never before found the country endurable, except during the
season when the marshes were full of birds; or when, at the Christmas
holidays, the ice was firm as marble and smooth as glass, and the wind
blowing fair from behind. Then he had liked well a race with the famous
fen-skaters.

The Manor House was neither handsome nor picturesque, though its
dark-red bricks made telling contrasts among the ivy and the few large
trees surrounding it. It contained a great number of rooms, but none
were of large proportions. The ceilings were low, and often crossed with
heavy oak beams; while the floors, though of polished oak, were very
uneven. Hyde had refurnished a few of the rooms; and the showy paperings
and chintzes, the fine satin and gilding, looked oddly at variance with
the black oak wainscots, the Elizabethan fireplaces, and the other
internal decorations.

Katherine, however, had no sense of any incongruity. She was charmed
with her home, from its big garrets to the great wine-bins in its
underground cellars; and while Hyde wandered about the fens with his
fishing-rod or gun, or went into the little town of Hyde to meet over a
market dinner the neighbouring squires, she was busy arranging every
room with that scrupulous nicety and cleanliness which had been not only
an important part of her education, but was also a fundamental trait of
her character. Indeed, no Dutch wife ever had the _netheid_, or passion
for order and cleanliness, in greater perfection than Katherine. She
might almost have come from Wormeldingen, "where the homes are washed
and waxed, and the streets brushed and dusted till not a straw lies
about, and the trees have a combed and brushed appearance, and do not
dare to grow a leaf out of its place." So, then, the putting in order of
this large house, with all its miscellaneous, uncared-for furniture,
gave her a genuine pleasure.

Always pretty and sweet as a flower, always beautifully dressed, she yet
directed, personally, her little force of servants, until room after
room became a thing of beauty. It was her employment during those days


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