Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York online

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on which Hyde was fishing or shooting; and it was not until the whole
house was in exquisite condition that Katherine took him through his
renovated dwelling. He was delighted, and not too selfish and
indifferent to express his wonder and pleasure.

"Faith, Kate," he said, "you have made me a home out of an old
lumber-house! I thought of taking you to London with me; but, upon my
word, we had better stay at Hyde and beautify the place. I can run down
whenever it is possible to get a few days off."

This idea gained gradually on both, and articles of luxury and adornment
were occasionally added to the better rooms. The garden next fell under
Katharine's care. "In sweet neglect," it no longer flaunted its
beauties. Roses and stocks and tiger-lilies learned what boundaries of
box meant; and if flowers have any sense of territorial rights,
Katherine's must have found they were respected. Encroaching vines were
securely confined within their proper limits, and grass that wandered
into the gravel paths sought for itself a merciless destruction.

[Illustration: The garden next fell under Katherine's care]

All such reforms, if they are not offensive, are stimulating and
progressive. The stables, kennels, and park, as well as the land
belonging to the manor, became of sudden interest to Hyde. He surprised
his lawyer by asking after it, and by giving orders that in future the
hay cut in the meadows should be cut for the Hyde stables. Every small
wrong which he investigated and redressed increased his sense of
responsibility; and the birth of his son made him begin to plan for the
future in a way which brought not only great pleasure to Katherine, but
also a comfortable self-satisfaction to his own heart.

Yet, even with all these favourable conditions, Katherine would not have
been happy had the estrangement between herself and her parents
continued a bitter or a silent one. She did not suppose they would
answer the letter she had sent by the fisherman Hudde; she was prepared
to ask, and to wait, for pardon and for a re-gift of that precious love
which she had apparently slighted for a newer and as yet untested one.
So, immediately after her arrival at Jamaica, Katherine wrote to her
mother; and, without waiting for replies, she continued her letters
regularly from Hyde. They were in a spirit of the sweetest and frankest
confidence. She made her familiar with all her household plans and
wifely cares; as room by room in the old manor was finished, she
described it. She asked her advice with all the faith of a child and the
love of a daughter; and she sent through her those sweet messages of
affection to her father which she feared a little to offer without her
mother's mediation.

But when she had a son, and when Hyde agreed that the boy should be
named _George_, she wrote a letter to him. Joris found it one April
morning on his desk, and it happened to come in a happy hour. He had
been working in his garden, and every plant and flower had brought his
Katherine pleasantly back to his memory. All the walks were haunted by
her image. The fresh breeze of the river was full of her voice and her
clear laughter. The returning birds, chattering in the trees above him,
seemed to ask, "Where, then, is the little one gone?"

Her letter, full of love, starred all through with pet words, and wisely
reminding him more of their own past happiness than enlarging on her
present joy, made his heart melt. He could do no business that day. He
felt that he must go home and tell Lysbet: only the mother could fully
understand and share his joy. He found her cleaning the "Guilderland
cup" - the very cup Mrs. Gordon had found Katherine cleaning when she
brought the first love message, and took back that fateful token, her
bow of orange ribbon. At that moment Lysbet's thoughts were entirely
with Katherine. She was wondering whether Joris and herself might not
some day cross the ocean to see their child. When she heard her
husband's step at that early hour, she put down the cup in fear, and
stood watching the door for his approach. The first glimpse of his face
told her that he was no messenger of sorrow. He gave her the letter with
a smile, and then walked up and down while she read it.

"Well, Joris, a beautiful letter this is. And thou has a grandson of thy
own name - a little Joris. Oh, how I long to see him! I hope that he will
grow like thee - so big and handsome as thou art, and also with thy good
heart. Oh, the little Joris! Would God he was here!"

The face of Joris was happy, and his eyes shining; but he had not yet
much to say. He walked about for an hour, and listened to Lysbet, who,
as she polished her silver, retold him all that Katherine had said of
her husband's love, and of his goodness to her. With great attention he
listened to her description of the renovated house and garden, and of
Hyde's purposes with regard to the estate. Then he sat down and smoked
his pipe, and after dinner he returned to his pipe and his meditation.
Lysbet wondered what he was considering, and hoped that it might be a
letter of full forgiveness for her beloved Katherine.

At last he rose and went into the garden; and she watched him wander
from bed to bed, and stand looking down at the green shoots of the early
flowers, and the lovely inverted urns of the brave snowdrops. To the
river and back again several times he walked; but about three o'clock he
came into the house with a firm, quick step, and, not finding Lysbet in
the sitting-room, called her cheerily. She was in their room upstairs,
and he went to her.

"Lysbet, thinking I have been - thinking of Katherine's marriage. Better
than I expected, it has turned out."

"I think that Katherine has made a good marriage - the best marriage of
all the children."

[Illustration: "Thou has a grandson of thy own name"]

"Dost thou believe that her husband is so kind and so prudent as she

"No doubt of it I have."

"See, then: I will send to Katherine her portion. Cohen will give me the
order on Secor's Bank in Threadneedle Street. It is for her and her
children. Can I trust them with it?"

"Katherine is no waster, and full of nobleness is her husband. Write
thou to him, and put it in his charge for Katherine and her children.
And tell him in his honour thou trust entirely; and I think that he will
do in all things right. Nothing has he asked of thee."

"To the devil he sent my dirty guilders, made in dirty trade. I have not

"Joris, the Devil speaks for a man in a passion. Keep no such words in
thy memory."


"What then, Joris?"

"The drinking-cup of silver, which my father gave us at our
marriage, - the great silver one that has on it the view of Middleburg
and the arms of the city. It was given to my great-grandfather when he
was mayor of Middleburg. His name, also, was Joris. To my grandson shall
I send it?"

"Oh, my Joris, much pleasure would thou give Katherine and me also! Let
the little fellow have it. Earl of Dorset and Hyde he may be yet."

Joris blushed vividly, but he answered, "Mayor of New York he may be
yet. That will please me best."

"Five grandsons hast thou, but this is the first Joris. Anna has two
sons, but for his dead brothers Rysbaack named them. Cornelia has two
sons; but for thee they called neither, because Van Dorn's father is
called Joris, and with him they are great unfriends. And when Joanna's
son was born, they called him Peter, because Batavius hath a rich uncle
called Peter, who may pay for the name. So, then, Katherine's son is the
first of thy grandchildren that has thy name. The dear little Joris! He
has blue eyes too; eyes like thine, she says. Yes, I would to him give
the Middleburg cup. William Newman, the jeweller, will pack it safely,
and by the next ship thou can send it to the bankers thou spoke of. I
will tell Katherine so. But thou, too, write her a letter; for little
she will think of her fortune or of the cup, if thy love thou send not
with them."

And Joris had done all that he purposed, and done it without one
grudging thought or doubting word. The cup went, full of good-will. The
money was given as Katherine's right, and was hampered with no
restrictions but the wishes of Joris, left to the honour of Hyde. And
Hyde was not indifferent to such noble trust. He fully determined to
deserve it. As for Katherine, she desired no greater pleasure than to
emphasize her reliance in her husband by leaving the money absolutely at
his discretion. In fact, she felt a far greater interest in the
Middleburg cup. It had always been an object of her admiration and
desire. She believed her son would be proud to point it out and say, "It
came from my mother's ancestor, who was mayor of Middleburg when that
famous city ruled in the East India trade, and compelled all vessels
with spice and wines and oils to come to the crane of Middleburg, there
to be verified and gauged." She longed to receive this gift. She had
resolved to put it between the baby fingers of little Joris as soon as
it arrived. "A grand christening-cup it will be," she exclaimed, with
childlike enthusiasm and Hyde kissed her, and promised to send it at
once by a trusty messenger.

[Illustration: Plate old and new]

He was a little amused by her enthusiasm. The Hydes had much plate, old
and new, and they were proud of its beauty and excellence, and well
aware of its worth; but they were not able to judge of the value of
flagons and cups and servers gathered slowly through many generations,
every one representing some human drama of love or suffering, or some
deed of national significance. Nearly all of Joris Van Heemskirk's
silver was "storied:" it was the materialization of honour and
patriotism, of self-denial or charity; and the silversmith's and
engraver's work was the least part of the Van Heemskirk pride in it.

As Joris sat smoking that night, he thought over his proposal; and then
for the first time it struck him that the Middleburg cup might have a
peculiar significance and value to Bram. It cost him an effort to put
his vague suspicions into words, because by doing so he seemed to give
shape and substance to shadows; but when Lysbet sat down with a little
sigh of content beside him, and said, "A happy night is this to us,
Joris," he answered, "God is good; always better to us than we trust Him
for. I want to say now what I have been considering the last hour, - some
other cup we will send to the little Joris, for I think Bram will like
to have the Middleburg cup best of all."

"Always Bram has been promised the Guilderland cup and the server that
goes with it."

"That is the truth; but I will tell you something, Lysbet. The
Middelburg cup was given by the Jews of Middleburg to my ancestor
because great favours and protection he gave them when he was mayor of
the city. Bram is very often with Miriam Cohen, and" -

Then Joris stopped, and Lysbet waited anxiously for him to finish the
sentence; but he only puffed, puffed, and looked thoughtfully at the
bowl of his pipe.

"What mean you, Joris?"

"I think that he loves her."


"That he would like to marry her."

"Many things that are impossible, man would like to do: that is most
impossible of all."

"You think so?"

"I am sure of it."

"Not impossible was it for Katherine to marry one not of her own race."

"In my mind it is not race so much as faith. Far more than race, faith

"Hyde is a Lutheran."

"A Lutheran may also be a Christian, I hope, Joris."

"I judge no man, Lysbet. I have known Jews that were better Christians
than some baptized in the name of Christ and John Calvin, - Jews who,
like the great Jew, loved God, and did to their fellow-creatures as they
wished to be done by. And if you had ever seen Miriam Cohen, you would
not make a wonder that Bram loves her."

"Is she so fair?"

"A beautiful face and gracious ways she has. Like her the beloved Rachel
must have been, I think. Why do you not stand with Bram as you stood
with Katherine?"

"Little use it would be, Joris. To give consent in this matter would be
a sacrifice refused. Be sure that Cohen will not listen to Bram; no, nor
to you, nor to me, nor to Miriam. If it come to a question of race, more
proud is the Jew of his race then even the Englishman or the Dutchman.
If it come to a question of faith, if all the other faiths in the world
die out, the Jew will hold to his own. Say to Bram, 'I am willing;' and
Cohen will say to him, 'Never, never will I consent.' If you keep the
'Jew's cup' for Bram and Miriam, always you will keep it; yes, and they
that live after you, too."

Why it is that certain trains of thought and feeling move to their end
at the same hour, though that end affect a variety of persons, no one
has yet explained. But there are undoubtedly currents of sympathy of
whose nature and movements we are profoundly ignorant. Thus how often we
think of an event just before some decisive action relating to it is
made known to us! How often do we recall some friend just as we are
about to see or hear from him! How often do we remember something that
ought to be done, just at the last moment its successful accomplishment
was possible to us!

And at the very hour Joris and Lysbet were discussing the position of
their son with regard to Miriam Cohen, the question was being definitely
settled at another point. For Joris was not the only person who had
observed Bram's devotion to the beautiful Jewess. Cohen had watched him
with close and cautious jealousy for many months; but he was far too
wise to stimulate love by opposition, and he did not believe in half
measures. When he defined Miriam's duty to her, he meant it to be in
such shape as precluded argument or uncertainty; and for this purpose
delay was necessary. Much correspondence with England had to take place,
and the mails were then irregular. But it happened that, after some
months of negotiation, a final and satisfactory letter had come to him
by the same post as brought Katherine's letter to Joris Van Heemskirk.

He read its contents with a sad satisfaction, and then locked it away
until the evening hours secured him from business interruption. Then he
went to his grandchild. He found her sitting quietly among the cushions
of a low couch. It seemed as if Miriam's thoughts were generally
sufficient for her pleasure, for she was rarely busy. She had always
time to sit and talk, or to sit and be silent. And Cohen liked best to
see her thus, - beautiful and calm, with small hands dropped or folded,
and eyes half shut, and mouth closed, but ready to smile and dimple if
he decided to speak to her.

She looked so pretty and happy and careless that for some time he did
not like to break the spell of her restful beauty. Nor did he until his
pipe was quite finished, and he had looked carefully over the notes in
his "day-book." Then he said in slow, even tones, "My child, listen to
me. This summer my young kinsman Judah Belasco will come here. He comes
to marry you. You will be a happy wife, my dear. He has moneys, and he
has the power to make moneys; and he is a good young man. I have been
cautious concerning that, my dear."

There was a long pause. He did not hurry her, but sat patiently waiting,
with his eyes fixed upon the book in his hand.

"I do not want to marry, grandfather. I am so young. I do not know Judah

"You shall have time, my dear. It is part of the agreement that he shall
now live in New York. He is a rich young man, my dear. He is of the
_sephardim_, as you are too, my dear. You must marry in your own caste;
for we are of unmixed blood, faithful children of the tribe of Judah.
All of our brethren here are _Ashkenasem_: therefore, I have had no rest
until I got a husband fit for you, my dear. This was my duty, though I
brought him from the end of the earth. It has cost me moneys, but I gave
cheerfully. The thing is finished now, when you are ready. But you shall
not be hurried, my dear."

"Father, I have been a good daughter. Do not make me leave you."

"You have been good, and you will be good always. What is the command?"

"Honor thy father and thy mother."

"And the promise?"

"Then long shall be thy days on the earth."

"And the vow you made, Miriam?"

"That I would never disobey or deceive you."

"Who have you vowed to?"

"The God of Israel."

"Will you lie unto Him?"

"I would give my life first."

"Now is the time to fulfil your vow. Put from your heart or fancy any
other young man. Have you not thought of our neighbour, Bram Van

"He is good; he is handsome. I fear he loves me."

"You know not anything. If you choose a husband, or even a shoe, by
their appearance, both may pinch you, my dear. Judah is of good stock.
Of a good tree you may expect good fruit."

"Bram Van Heemskirk is also the son of a good father. Many times you
have said it."

"Yes, I have said it. But Bram is not of our people. And if our law
forbid us to sow different seeds at the same time in the same ground, or
to graft one kind of fruit-tree on the stock of another, shall we dare
to mingle ourselves with people alien in race and faith, and speech and
customs? My dear, will you take your own way, or will you obey the word
of the Lord?"

"My way cannot stand before His way."

"It is a hard thing for you, my dear. Your way is sweet to you. Offer it
as a sacrifice; bind the sacrifice, even with cords, to the altar, if
it be necessary. I mean, say to Bram Van Heemskirk words that you cannot
unsay. Then there will be only one sorrow. It is hope and fear, and fear
and hope, that make the heart sick. Be kind, and slay hope at once, my

"If Judah had been my own choice, father" -

"_Choice?_ My dear, when did you get wisdom? Do not parents choose for
their children their food, dress, friends, and teachers? What folly to
do these things, and then leave them in the most serious question of
life to their own wisdom, or want of wisdom! Choice! Remember Van
Heemskirk's daughter, and the sin and suffering her own choice caused."

[Illustration: "Make me not to remember the past"]

"I think it was not her fault if two men quarrelled and fought about

"She was not wholly innocent. Miriam, make me not to remember the past.
My eyes are old now; they should not weep any more. I have drunk my cup
of sorrow to the lees. O Miriam, Miriam, do not fill it again!"

"God forbid! My father, I will keep the promise that I made you. I will
do all that you wish."

Cohen bowed his head solemnly, and remained for some minutes afterward
motionless. His eyes were closed, his face was as still as a painted
face. Whether he was praying or remembering, Miriam knew not. But
solitude is the first cry of the wounded heart, and she went away into
it. She was like a child that had been smitten, and whom there was none
to comfort. But she never thought of disputing her grandfather's word,
or of opposing his will. Often before he had been obliged to give her
some bitter cup, or some disappointment; but her good had always been
the end in view. She had perfect faith in his love and wisdom. But she
suffered very much; though she bore it with that uncomplaining patience
which is so characteristic of the child heart - a patience pathetic in
its resignation, and sublime in its obedience.

And it was during this hour of trial to Miriam that Joris was talking to
Lysbet of her. It did him good to put his fears into words, for Lysbet's
assurances were comfortable; and as it had been a day full of feeling,
he was weary and went earlier to his room than usual. On the contrary,
Lysbet was very wakeful. She carried her sewing to the candle, and sat
down for an hour's work. The house was oppressively still; and she could
not help remembering the days when it had been so different, - when Anna
and Cornelia had been marriageable women, and Joanna and Katherine
growing girls. All of them had now gone away from her. Only Bram was
left, and she thought of him with great anxiety. Such a marriage as his
father had hinted at filled her with alarm. She could neither conquer
her prejudices nor put away her fears; and she tormented herself with
imagining, in the event of such a misfortune, all the disagreeable and
disapproving things the members of the Middle Kirk would have to say.

In the midst of her reflections, Bram returned. She had not expected him
so early, but the sound of his feet was pleasant. He came in slowly;
and, after some pottering, irritating delays, he pushed his father's
chair back from the light, and with a heavy sigh sat down in it.

"Why sigh you so heavy, Bram? Every sigh still lower sinks the heart."

"A light heart I shall never have again, mother."

"You talk some foolishness. A young man like you! A quarrel with your
sweetheart, is it? Well, it will be over as quick as a rainy day. Then
the sunshine again."

"For me there is no hope like that. So quiet and shy was my love."

"Oh, indeed! Of all the coquettes, the quiet, shy ones are the worst."

"No coquette is Miriam Cohen. My love life is at the end, mother."

"When began it, Bram?"

"It was at the time of the duel. I loved her from the first moment. O
mother, mother!"

"Does she not love you, Bram?"

"I think so: many sweet hours we have had together. My heart was full of

"Her faith, Bram, should have kept you prudent."

"'In what church do you pray?' Love asks not such a question, and as for
her race, I thought a daughter of Israel is the beloved of all the
daughters of God. A blessing to my house she will bring."

"That is not what the world says, Bram. No, my son. It is thus, and like
it: that God is angry with His people, and for that He has scattered
them through all the nations of the earth."

"Such folly is that! To colonize, to 'take possession' of the whole
earth, is what the men of Israel have always intended. Long before the
Christ was born in Bethlehem, the Jews were scattered throughout every
known country. I will say that to the dominie. It is the truth, and he
cannot deny it."

"But surely God is angry with them."

"I see it not. If once He was angry, long ago He has forgiven His
people. 'To the third and fourth generation' only is His anger. His own
limit that is. Who have such blessings? The gold and the wine and the
fruit of all lands are theirs. Their increase comes when all others'
fail. God is not angry with them. The light of His smile is on the face
of Miriam. He teaches her father how to traffic and to prosper. Do not
the Holy Scriptures say that the blessing, not the anger, of the Lord
maketh rich?"

"Well, then, my son, all this is little to the purpose, if she will not
have thee for her husband. But be not easy to lose thy heart. Try once

"Useless it would be. Miriam is not one of those who say 'no' and then

"Nearly two years you have known her. That was long to keep you in hope
and doubt. I think she is a coquette."

"You know her not, mother. Very few words of love have I dared to say.
We have been friends. I was happy to stand in the store and talk to
Cohen, and watch her. A glance from her eyes, a pleasant word, was
enough. I feared to lose all by asking too much."

"Then, why did you ask her to-night? It would have been better had your
father spoken first to Mr. Cohen."

"I did not ask Miriam to-night. She spared me all she could. She was in
the store as I passed, and I went in. This is what she said to me,
'Bram, dear Bram, I fear that you begin to love me, because I think of
you very often. And my grandfather has just told me that I am promised
to Judah Belasco, of London. In the summer he will come here, and I
shall marry him.' I wish, mother, you could have seen her leaning
against the black _kas_; for between it and her black dress, her face
was white as death, and beautiful and pitiful as an angel's."

"What said you then?"

"Oh, I scarce know! But I told her how dearly I loved her, and I asked
her to be my wife."

[Illustration: With a great sob Bram laid his head against her breast]

"And she said what to thee?"

"'My father I must obey. Though he told me to slay myself, I must obey
him. By the God of Israel, I have promised it often.'"

"Was that all, Bram?"

"I asked her again and again. I said, 'Only in this one thing, Miriam,
and all our lives after it we will give to him.' But she answered,
'Obedience is better than sacrifice, Bram. That is what our law teaches.
Though I could give my father the wealth and the power of King Solomon,
it would be worth less than my obedience.' And for all my pleading, at

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 14 of 20)