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"I can understand that, William."

"I was married very quietly, and have been in Italy ever since. Only
four days have elapsed since I returned to England. My first inquiries
were about you."

"I pray you, do not believe all that my enemies will say of me."

"Among other things, I was told that you had left the army."

"That is exactly true. When I heard that Lord Percy's regiment was
designed for America, and against the Americans, I put it out of the
king's power to send me on such a business."

"Indeed, I think the Americans have been ill-used; and I find the town
in a great commotion upon the matter. The night I landed, there had come
bad news from New York. The people of that city had burned effigies of
Lord North and Governor Hutchinson, and the new troops were no sooner
landed than five hundred of them deserted in a body. At White's it was
said that the king fell into a fit of crying when the intelligence was
brought him."

Hyde's white face was crimson with excitement, and his eyes glowed like
stars as he listened.

[Illustration: "One night in Rome, in a moment, the thing was altered,"]

"That was like New York; and, faith, if I had been there, I would have
helped them!"

"Why not go there? I owe you much for the hope of which my happiness has
robbed you. I will take Hyde Manor at its highest price; I will add to
it fifty thousand pounds indemnity for the loss of the succession. You
may buy land enough for a duchy there, and found in the New World a new
line of the old family. If there is war, you have your opportunity. If
the colonists win their way, your family and means will make you a
person of great consideration. Here, you can only be a member of the
family; in America, you can be the head of your own line. Dick, my dear
brother, out of real love and honour I speak these words."

"Indeed, William, I am very sensible of your kindness, and I will
consider well your proposition for you must know that it is a matter of
some consequence to me now. I think, indeed, that my Katherine will be
in a transport of delight to return to her native land. I hear her
coming, and we will talk with her; and, anon, you shall confess,
William, that you have seen the sweetest woman that ever the sun shone
upon."

Almost with the words she entered, clothed in a white India muslin, with
carnations at her breast. Her high-heeled shoes, her large hoop, and the
height to which her pale gold hair was raised, gave to the beautiful
woman an air of majesty that amazed the earl. He bowed low, and then
kissed her cheeks, and led her to a chair, which he placed between Hyde
and himself.

Of course the discussion of the American project was merely opened at
that time. English people, even at this day, move only after slow and
prudent deliberation; and then emigration was almost an irrevocable
action. Katherine was predisposed to it, but yet she dearly loved the
home she had made so beautiful. During Hyde's convalescence, also, other
plans had been made and talked over until they had become very hopeful
and pleasant; and they could not be cast aside without some reluctance.
In fact, the purpose grew slowly, but surely, all through the following
winter; being mainly fed by Katherine's loving desire to be near to her
parents, and by Hyde's unconfessed desire to take part in the struggle
which he foresaw, and which had his warmest sympathy. Every American
letter strengthened these feelings; but the question was finally
settled - as many an important event in every life is settled - by a
person totally unknown to both Katherine and Hyde.

It was on a cold, stormy afternoon in February, when the fens were white
with snow. Hyde sat by the big wood-fire, re-reading a letter from Joris
Van Heemskirk, which also enclosed a copy of Josiah Quincy's speech on
the Boston Port Bill. Katherine had a piece of worsted work in her
hands. Little Joris was curled up in a big chair with his book, seeing
nothing of the present, only conscious of the gray, bleak waves of the
English Channel, and the passionate Blake bearing down upon Tromp and De
Ruyter.

"What a battle that would be!" he said, jumping to his feet. "Father, I
wish that I had lived a hundred years ago."

"What are you talking about, George?"

"Listen, then: 'Eighty sail put to sea under Blake. Tromp and De Ruyter,
with seventy-six sail, were seen, upon the 18th of February, escorting
three hundred merchant-ships up the channel. Three days of desperate
fighting ensued, and Tromp acquired prodigious honour by this battle;
for, though defeated, he saved nearly the whole of his immense convoy.'
I wish I had been with Tromp, father."

"But an English boy should wish to have been with Blake."

"Tromp had the fewer vessels. One should always help the weaker side,
father. And, besides, you know I am half Dutch."

Katherine looked proudly at the boy, but Hyde had a long fit of musing.
"Yes," he answered at length, "a brave man always helps those who need
it most. Your father's letter, Katherine, stirs me wonderfully. Those
Americans show the old Saxon love of liberty. Hear how one of them
speaks for his people: 'Blandishments will not fascinate us, nor will
threats of a halter intimidate. For, under God, we are determined that
wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our
exit, we will die free men.' Such men ought to be free, Katherine, and
they will be free."

It was at this moment that Lettice came in with a bundle of newspapers:
"They be brought by Sir Thomas Swaffham's man, sir, with Sir Thomas's
compliments; there being news he thinks you would like to read, sir."

Katherine turned promptly. "Spiced ale and bread and meat give to the
man, Lettice; and to Sir Thomas and Lady Swaffham remind him to take
our respectful thanks."

Hyde opened the papers with eager curiosity. Little Joris was again with
Tromp and Blake in the channel; and Katherine, remembering some
household duty, left the father and son to their private enthusiasms.
She was restless and anxious, for she had one of those temperaments that
love a settled and orderly life. It would soon be spring, and there were
a thousand things about the house and garden which would need her
attention if they were to remain at Hyde. If not, her anxieties in other
directions would be equally numerous and necessary. She stood at the
window looking into the white garden close. Something about it recalled
her father's garden; and she fell into such a train of tender memories
that when Hyde called quickly, "Kate, Kate!" she found that there were
tears in her eyes, and that it was with an effort and a sigh her soul
returned to its present surroundings.

[Illustration: "I must draw my sword again"]

Hyde was walking about the room in great excitement, - his tall, nervous
figure unconsciously throwing itself into soldierly attitudes; his dark,
handsome face lit by an interior fire of sympathetic feeling.

"I must draw my sword again, Katherine," he said, as his hand
impulsively went to his left side, - "I must draw my sword again. I
thought I had done with it forever; but, by St. George, I'll draw it in
this quarrel!"

"The American quarrel, Richard?"

"No other could so move me. We have the intelligence now of their
congress. They have not submitted; they have not drawn back, not an
inch; they have not quarrelled among themselves. They have unanimously
voted for non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption. They
have drawn up a declaration of their rights. They have appealed to the
sympathies of the people of Canada, and they have resolved to support by
arms all their brethren unlawfully attacked. Hurrah, Katherine! Every
good man and true wishes them well."

"But it is treason, dear one."

"_Soh!_ It was treason when the barons forced the Great Charter from
King John. It was treason when Hampden fought against 'ship-money,' and
Cromwell against Star Chambers, and the Dutchman William laid his firm
hand on the British Constitution. All revolutions are treason until they
are accomplished. We have long hesitated, we will waver no more. The
conduct of Sir Jeffrey Amherst has decided me."

"I know it not."

"On the 6th of this month the king offered him a peerage if he would
take command of the troops for America; and he answered, 'Your majesty
must know that I cannot bring myself to fight the Americans, who are not
only of my own race, but to whose former kindness I am also much
obliged.' By the last mail, also, accounts have come of vast desertions
of the soldiers of Boston; and three officers of Lord Percy's regiment
are among the number. Katherine, our boy has told me this afternoon that
he is half Dutch. Why should we stay in England, then, for his sake? We
will do as Earl William advises us, - go to America and found a new
house, of which I and he will be the heads. Are you willing?"

"Only to be with you, only to please you, Richard. I have no other
happiness."

"Then it is settled; and I thank Sir Jeffrey Amherst, for his words have
made me feel ashamed of my indecision. And look you, dear Kate, there
shall be no more delays. The earl buys Hyde as it stands; we have
nothing except our personal effects to pack: can you be ready in a
week?"

"You are too impatient, Richard. In a week it is impossible.

"Then in two weeks. In short, my dear, I have taken an utter aversion to
being longer in King George's land."

"Poor king! Lady Swaffham says he means well; he misunderstands, he
makes mistakes."

"And political mistakes are crimes, Katherine. Write to-night to your
father. Tell him that we are coming in two weeks to cast our lot with
America. Upon my honour, I am impatient to be away."

When Joris Van Heemskirk received this letter, he was very much excited
by its contents. Putting aside his joy at the return of his beloved
daughter, he perceived that the hour expected for years had really
struck. The true sympathy that had been so long in his heart, he must
now boldly express; and this meant in all probability a rupture with
most of his old associates and friends - Elder Semple in the kirk, and
the Matthews and Crugers and Baches in the council.

He was sitting in the calm evening, with unloosened buckles, in a cloud
of fragrant tobacco, talking of these things. "It is full time, come
what will," said Lysbet. "Heard thou what Batavius said last night?"

"Little I listen to Batavius."

"But this was a wise word. 'The colonists are leaving the old ship,' he
said; 'and the first in the new boat will have the choice of oars.'"

"That was like Batavius, but I will take higher counsel than his."

Then he rose, put on his hat, and walked down his garden; and, as he
slowly paced between the beds of budding flowers, he thought of many
things, - the traditions of the past struggles for freedom, and the
irritating wrongs that had imbittered his own experience for ten years.
There was plenty of life yet in the spirit his fathers had bequeathed to
him; and, as this and that memory of wrong smote it, the soul-fire
kindled, glowed, burned with passionate flame. "Free, God gave us this
fair land, and we will keep it free. There has been in it no crowns and
sceptres, no bloody Philips, no priestly courts of cruelty; and, in
God's name, we will have none!"

He was standing on the river-bank; and the meadows over it were green
and fair to see, and the fresh wind blew into his soul a thought of its
own untrammelled liberty. He looked up and down the river, and lifted
his face to the clear sky, and said aloud, "Beautiful land! To be thy
children we should not deserve, if one inch of thy soil we yielded to a
tyrant. Truly a vaderland to me and to mine thou hast been. Truly do I
love thee." And then, his soul being moved to its highest mark, he
answered it tenderly, in the strong-syllabled mother-tongue that it knew
so well, -

"Indien ik u vergeet, o Vaderland! zoo vergete mijne regter-hand zich
zelve!"

Such communion he held with himself until the night came on, and the dew
began to fall; and Lysbet said to herself, "I will walk down the garden:
perhaps there is something I can say to him." As she rose, Joris
entered, and they met in the centre of the room. He put his large hands
upon her shoulders, and, looking solemnly in her face, said, "My Lysbet,
I will go with the people; I will give myself willingly to the cause of
freedom. A long battle is it. Two hundred years ago, a Joris Van
Heemskirk was fighting in it. Not less of man than he was, am I, I
hope."

There was a mist of tears over his eyes - a mist that was no dishonour;
it only showed that the cost had been fully counted, and his allegiance
given with a clear estimate of the value and sweetness of all that he
might have to give with it. Lysbet was a little awed by the solemnity of
his manner. She had not before understood the grandeur of such a
complete surrender of self as her husband had just consummated. But
never had she been so proud of him. Everything commonplace had slipped
away: he looked taller, younger, handsomer.

[Illustration: "We have closed his Majesty's custom-house forever"]

She dropped her knitting to her feet, she put her arms around his
neck, and, laying her head upon his breast, said softly, "My good Joris!
I will love thee forever."

In a few minutes Elder Semple came in. He looked exceedingly worried;
and, although Joris and he avoided politics by a kind of tacit
agreement, he could not keep to kirk and commercial matters, but
constantly returned to one subject, - a vessel lying at Murray's Wharf,
which had sold her cargo of molasses and rum to the "Committee of
Safety."

"And we'll be haeing the custom-house about the city's ears, if there's
'safety' in that, - the born idiots," he said.

Joris was in that grandly purposeful mood that takes no heed of fretful
worries. He let the elder drift from one grievance to another; and he
was just in the middle of a sentence containing his opinion of Sears and
Willet, when Bram's entrance arrested it. There was something in the
young man's face and attitude which made every one turn to him. He
walked straight to the side of Joris, -

"Father, we have closed his Majesty's custom-house forever."

"_We!_ Who, then, Bram?"

"The Committee of Safety and the Sons of Liberty."

Semple rose to his feet, trembling with passion. "Let me tell you, then,
Bram, you are a parcel o' rogues and rebels; and, if I were his Majesty,
I'd gibbet the last ane o' you."

"Patience, Elder. Sit down, I'll speak" -

"No, Councillor, I'll no sit down until I ken what kind o' men I'm
sitting wi'. Oot wi' your maist secret thoughts. Wha are you for?"

"For the people and for freedom am I," said Joris, calmly rising to his
feet. "Too long have we borne injustice. My fathers would have spoken by
the sword before this. Free kirk, free state, free commerce, are the
breath of our nostrils. Not a king on earth our privileges and rights
shall touch; no, not with his finger-tips. Bram, my son, I am your
comrade in this quarrel." He spoke with fervent, but not rapid speech,
and with a firm, round voice, full of magical sympathies.

"I'll hear nae mair o' such folly. - Gie me my bonnet and plaid, madam,
and I'll be going. - The King o' England needna ask his Dutch subjects
for leave to wear his crown, I'm thinking."

"Subjects!" said Bram, flashing up. "Subjection! Well, then, Elder,
Dutchmen don't understand the word. Spain found that out."

"Hoots! dinna look sae far back, Bram. It's a far cry, to Alva and
Philip. Hae you naething fresher? Gude-night, a'. I hope the morn will
bring you a measure o' common sense." He was at the door as he spoke;
but, ere he passed it, he lifted his bonnet above his head and said,
"God save the king! God save his gracious Majesty, George of England!"

Joris turned to his son. To shut up the king's customs was an overt
action of treason. Bram, then, had fully committed himself; and,
following out his own thoughts, he asked abruptly, "What will come of
it, Bram?"

"War will come, and liberty - a great commonwealth, a great country."

"It was about the sloop at Murray's Wharf?"

"Yes. To the Committee of Safety her cargo she sold; but Collector
Cruger would not that it should leave the vessel, although offered was
the full duty."

"For use against the king were the goods; then Cruger, as a servant of
King George, did right."

"Oh, but if a tyrant a man serves, we cannot suffer wrong that a good
servant he may be! King George through him refused the duty: no more
duties will we offer him. We have boarded up the doors and windows of
the custom-house. Collector Cruger has a long holiday."

He did not speak lightly, and his air was that of a man who accepts a
grave responsibility. "I met Sears and about thirty men with him on Wall
Street. I went with them, thinking well on what I was going to do. I am
ready by the deed to stand."

"And I with thee. Good-night, Bram, To-morrow there will be more to
say."

Then Bram drew his chair to the hearth, and his mother began to question
him; and her fine face grew finer as she listened to the details of the
exploit. Bram looked at her proudly. "I wish only that a fort full of
soldiers and cannon it had been," he said. "It does not seem such a fine
thing to take a few barrels of rum and molasses."

"Every common thing is a fine thing when it is for justice. And a fine
thing I think it was for these men to lay down every one his work and
his tool, and quietly and orderly go do the work that was to be done for
honour and for freedom. If there had been flying colours and beating
drums, and much blood spilt, no grander thing would it have been, I
think."

And, as Bram filled and lighted his pipe, he hummed softly the rallying
song of the day, -

"In story we're told
How our fathers of old
Braved the rage of the winds and the waves;
And crossed the deep o'er,
For this far-away shore,
All because they would never be slaves - brave boys!
All because they would never be slaves.

"The birthright we hold
Shall never be sold,
But sacred maintained to our graves;
And before we comply
We will gallantly die,
For we will not, we will not be slaves - brave boys!
For we will not, we will not be slaves."

In the meantime Semple, fuming and ejaculating, was making his way
slowly home. It was a dark night, and the road full of treacherous soft
places, fatal to that spotless condition of hose and shoes which was one
of his weak points. However, before he had gone very far, he was
overtaken by his son Neil, now a very staid and stately gentleman,
holding under the government a high legal position in the investigation
of the disputed New-Hampshire grants.

He listened respectfully to his father's animadversions on the folly of
the Van Heemskirks; but he was thinking mainly of the first news told
him, - the early return of Katherine. He was conscious that he still
loved Katherine, and that he still hated Hyde. As they approached the
house, the elder saw the gleam of a candle through the drawn blind; and
he asked querulously, "What's your mother doing wi' a candle at this
hour, I wonder?"

"She'll be sewing or reading, father."

"Hoots! she should aye mak' the wark and the hour suit. There's spinning
and knitting for the night-time. Wi' soldiers quartered to the right
hand and the left hand, and a civil war staring us in the face, it's
neither tallow nor wax we'll hae to spare."

He was climbing the pipe-clayed steps as he spoke, and in a few minutes
was standing face to face with the offender. Madam Semple was reading
and, as her husband opened the parlour door, she lifted her eyes from
her book, and let them calmly rest upon him.

[Illustration: "I am reading the Word"]

"Fire-light and candle-light, baith, Janet! A fair illumination, and nae
ither thing but bad news for it."

"It is for reading the Word, Elder."

"For the night season, meditation, Janet, meditation;" and he lifted the
extinguisher, and put out the candle. "Meditate on what you hae read.
The Word will bide a deal o' thinking about. You'll hae heard the ill
news?"

"I heard naething ill."

"Didna Neil tell you?"

"Anent what?"

"The closing o' the king's customs."

"Ay, Neil told me."

"Weel?"

"Weel, since you ask me, I say it was gude news."

"Noo, Janet, we'll hae to come to an understanding. If I hae swithered
in my loyalty before, I'll do sae nae mair. From this hour, me and my
house will serve King George. I'll hae nae treason done in it, nor said;
no, nor even thocht o'."

"You'll be a vera Samson o' strength, and a vera Solomon o' wisdom, if
you keep the hands and the tongues and the thochts o' this house.
Whiles, you canna vera weel keep the door o' your ain mouth, gudeman.
What's come o'er you, at a'?"

"I'm surely master in my ain house, Janet."

"'Deed, you are far from being that, Alexander Semple. Doesna King
George quarter his men in it? And havena you to feed and shelter them,
and to thole their ill tempers and their ill ways, morning, noon, and
night? You master in your ain house! You're just a naebody in it!"

"Dinna get on your high horse, madam. Things are coming to the upshot:
there's nae doot o' it."

"They've been lang aboot it - too lang."

"Do you really mean that you are going to set yoursel' among the
rebels?"

"Going? Na, na; I have aye been amang them. And ten years syne, when the
Stamp Act was the question, you were heart and soul wi' the people. The
quarrel to-day is the same quarrel wi' a new name. Tak' the side o'
honour and manhood and justice, and dinna mak' me ashamed o' you,
Alexander. The Semples have aye been for freedom, - Kirk and State, - and
I never heard tell o' them losing a chance to gie them proud English a
set-down before. What for should you gie the lie to a' your forbears
said and did? King George hasna put his hand in his pocket for you; he
has done naething but tax your incomings and your outgoings. Ask Van
Heemskirk: he's a prudent man, and you'll never go far wrong if you walk
wi' him."

"Ask Van Heemskirk, indeed! Not I. The rebellious spirit o' the ten
tribes is through all the land; but I'll stand by King George, if I'm
the only man to do it."

"George may be king o' the Semples. I'm a Gordon. He's no king o' mine.
The Gordons were a' for the Stuarts."

"Jacobite and traitor, baith! Janet, Janet, how can you turn against me
on every hand?"

"I'll no turn against you, Elder; and I'll gie you no cause for
complaint, if you dinna set King George on my hearthstone, and bring him
to my table, and fling him at me early and late." She was going to light
the candle again; and, with it in her hand, she continued: "That's
enough anent George rex at night-time, for he isna a pleasant thought
for a sleeping one. How is Van Heemskirk going? And Bram?"

"Bram was wi' them that unloaded the schooner and closed the
custom-house - the born idiots!"

"I expected that o' Bram."

"As for his father, he's the blackest rebel you could find or hear tell
o' in the twelve Provinces."

"He's a good man; Joris is a good man, true and sure. The cause he
lifts, he'll never leave. Joris and Bram - excellent! They two are a
multitude."

"Humff!" It was all he could say. There was something in his wife's face
that made it look unfamiliar to him. He felt himself to be like the
prophet of Pethor - a man whose eyes are opened. But Elder Semple was not
one of the foolish ones who waste words. "A wilfu' woman will hae her
way," he thought; "and if Janet has turned rebel to the king, it's mair
than likely she'll throw off my ain lawfu' authority likewise. But we'll
see, we'll see," he muttered, glancing with angry determination at the
little woman, who, for her part, seemed to have put quite away all
thoughts of king and Congress.

She stood with the tinder-box and the flint and brimstone matches in her
hands. "I wonder if the tinder is burnt enough, Alexander," she said;
and with the words she sharply struck the flint. A spark fell instantly
and set fire to it, and she lit her match and watched it blaze with a
singular look of triumph on her face. Somehow the trifling affair
irritated the elder. "What are you doing at a'? You're acting like a
silly bairn, makin' a blaze for naething. There's a fire on the hearth:
whatna for, then, are you wasting tinder and a match?"

"Maybe it wasna for naething, Elder. Maybe I was asking for a sign, and
got the ane I wanted. There's nae sin in that, I hope. You ken Gideon


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