Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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did it when he had to stand up for the oppressed, and slay the tyrant."

"Tut, woman, you arena Gideon, nor yet o' Gideon's kind; and, forbye,
there's nae angel speaking wi' you."

"You're right there, Elder. But, for a' that, I'm glad that the spark
fired the tinder, and that the tinder lit the match, and that the match
burnt sae bright and sae bravely. It has made a glow in my heart, and
I'll sleep well wi' the pleasure o' it."

Next morning the argument was not renewed. Neil was sombre and silent.
His father was uncertain as to his views, and he did not want to force
or hurry a decision. Besides, it would evidently be more prudent to
speak with the young man when he could not be influenced by his mother's
wilful, scornful tongue. Perhaps Neil shared this prudent feeling; for
he deprecated conversation, and, on the plea of business, left the
breakfast-table before the meal was finished.

The elder, however, had some indemnification for his cautious silence.
He permitted himself, at family prayers, a very marked reading of St.
Paul's injunction, "Fear God and honour the king;" and ere he left the
house he said to his wife, "Janet, I hope you hae come to your senses.
You'll allow that you didna treat me wi' a proper respect yestreen?"

She was standing face to face with him, her hands uplifted, fastening
the broad silver clasp of his cloak. For a moment she hesitated, the
next she raised herself on tiptoes, and kissed him. He pursed up his
mouth a little sternly, and then stroked her white hair. "You heard
what St. Paul says, Janet; isna that a settlement o' the question?"

"I'm no blaming St. Paul, Alexander. If ever St. Paul approves o'
submitting to tyranny, it's thae translators' fault. He wouldna tak'
injustice himsel', not even from a Roman magistrate. I wish St. Paul was
alive the day: I'm vera sure if he were, he'd write an epistle to the
English wad put the king's dues just as free men would be willing to pay
them. Now, don't be angry, Alexander. If you go awa' angry at me, you'll
hae a bad day; you ken that, gudeman."

It was a subtile plea; for no man, however wise or good or brave, likes
to bespeak ill-fortune when it can be averted by a sacrifice so easy and
so pleasant. But, in spite of Janet's kiss, he was unhappy; and when he
reached the store, the clerks and porters were all standing together
talking. He knew quite well what topic they were discussing with such
eager movements and excited speech. But they dispersed to their work at
the sight of his sour, stern face, and he did not intend to open a fresh
dispute by any question.

Apprentices and clerks then showed a great deal of deference to their
masters, and Elder Semple demanded the full measure due to him.
Something, however, in the carriage, in the faces, in the very, tones of
his servants' voices, offended him; and he soon discovered that various
small duties had been neglected.

"Listen to me, lads," he said angrily; "I'll have nae politics mixed up
wi' my exports and my imports. Neither king nor Congress has anything
to do wi' my business. If there is among you ane o' them fools that ca'
themselves the 'Sons o' Liberty,' I'll pay him whatever I owe him now,
and he can gang to Madam Liberty for his future wage."

[Illustration: He was standing on the step of his high counting-desk.]

He was standing on the step of his high counting-desk as he spoke, and
he peered over the little wooden railing at the men scattered about with
pens or hammers or goods in their hands. There was a moment's silence;
then a middle-aged man quietly laid down the tools with which he was
closing a box, and walked up to the desk. The next moment, every one in
the place had followed him. Semple was amazed and angry, but he made no
sign of either emotion. He counted to the most accurate fraction every
one's due, and let them go without one word of remonstrance.

But as soon as he was alone, he felt the full bitterness of their
desertion, and he could not keep the tears out of his eyes as he looked
at their empty places. "Wha could hae thocht it?" he exclaimed. "Allan
has been wi' me twenty-seven years, and Scott twenty, and Grey nearly
seventeen. And the lads I have aye been kindly to. Maist o' them have
wives and bairns, too; it's just a sin o' them. It's no to be believed.
It's fair witchcraft. And the pride o' them! My certie, they all looked
as if their hands were itching for a sword or a pair o' pistols!"

At this juncture Neil entered the store. "Here's a bonnie pass, Neil;
every man has left the store. I may as weel put up the shutters."

"There are other men to be hired."

"They were maistly a' auld standbys, auld married men that ought to have
had mair sense."

"The married men are the trouble-makers; the women have hatched and
nursed this rebellion. If they would only spin their webs, and mind
their knitting!"

"But they willna, Neil; and they never would. If there's a pot o'
rebellion brewing between the twa poles, women will be dabbling in it.
They have aye been against lawfu' authority. The restraints o' paradise
was tyranny to them. And they get worse and worse: it isna ane apple
would do them the noo; they'd strip the tree, my lad, to its vera
topmost branch."

"There's mother."

"Ay, there's your mother, she's a gude example. She's a Gordon; and
thae Gordon women cried the '_slogan_' till their men's heads were a' on
Carlisle gate or Temple Bar, and their lands a' under King George's
thumb. But is she any wiser for the lesson? Not her. Women are born
rebels; the 'powers that be' are always tyrants to them, Neil."

"You ought to know, father. I have small and sad experience with them."

"Sae, I hope you'll stand by my side. We twa can keep the house
thegither. If we are a' right, the Government will whistle by a woman's

"Did you not say Katherine was coming back?"

"I did that. See there, again. Hyde has dropped his uniform, and sold a'
that he has, and is coming to fight in a quarrel that's nane o' his.
Heard you ever such foolishness? But it is Katherine's doing; there's
little doot o' that."

"He's turned rebel, then?"

"Ay has he. That's what women do. Politics and rebellion is the same
thing to them."

"Well, father, I shall not turn rebel."

"O Neil, you take a load off my heart by thae words!"

"I have nothing against the king, and I could not be Hyde's comrade."

[Illustration: Chapter heading]


"_How glorious stand the valiant, sword in hand,
In front of battle for their native land!_"

It was into this thundery atmosphere of coming conflict, of hopes and
doubts, of sundering ties and fearful looking forward, that Richard and
Katherine Hyde came, from the idyllic peace and beauty of their Norfolk
house. But there was something in it that fitted Hyde's real
disposition. He was a natural soldier, and he had arrived at the period
of life when the mere show and pomp of the profession had lost all
satisfying charm. He had found a quarrel worthy of his sword, one that
had not only his deliberate approval, but his passionate sympathy. In
fact, his first blow for American independence had been struck in the
duel with Lord Paget; for that quarrel, though nominally concerning Lady
Suffolk, was grounded upon a dislike engendered by their antagonism
regarding the government of the Colonies.

It was an exquisite April morning when they sailed up New York bay once
more. Joris had been watching for the "Western Light;" and when she came
to anchor at Murray's Wharf, his was the foremost figure on it. He had
grown a little stouter, but was still a splendid-looking man; he had
grown a little older, but his tenderness for his daughter was still
young and fresh and strong as ever. He took her in his arms, murmuring,
"_Mijn Katrijntje, mijn Katrijntje! Ach, mijn kind, mijn kind!_"

Hyde had felt that there might be some embarrassment in his own case,
perhaps some explanation or acknowledgment to make; but Joris waved
aside any speech like it. He gave Hyde both hands; he called him "_mijn
zoon_;" he stooped, and put the little lad's arms around his neck. In
many a kind and delicate way he made them feel that all of the past was
forgotten but its sweetness.

And surely that hour Lysbet had the reward of her faithful affection.
She had always admired Hyde; and she was proud and happy to have him in
her home, and to have him call her mother. The little Joris took
possession of her heart in a moment. Her Katherine was again at her
side. She had felt the clasp of her hands; she had heard her whisper
"_mijn moeder_" upon her lips.

They landed upon a Saturday, upon one of those delightsome days that
April frequently gives to New York. There was a fresh wind, full of the
smell of the earth and the sea; an intensely blue sky, with flying
battalions of white fleecy clouds across it; a glorious sunshine above
everything. And people live, and live happily, even in the shadow of
war. The stores were full of buyers and sellers. The doors and windows
of the houses were open to the spring freshness. Lysbet had heard of
their arrival, and was watching for them. Her hair was a little whiter,
her figure a little stouter; but her face was fair and rosy, and sweet
as ever.

[Illustration: Lysbet and Catherine were unpacking]

In a few hours things had fallen naturally and easily into place. Joris
and Bram and Hyde sat talking of the formation of a regiment. Little
Joris leaned on his grandfather's shoulder listening. Lysbet and
Katherine were busy unpacking trunks full of fineries and pretty things;
occasionally stopping to give instructions to Dinorah, who was preparing
an extra tea, as Batavius and Joanna were coming to spend the evening.
"And to the elder and Janet Semple I have sent a message, also," said
Lysbet; "for I see not why anger should be nursed, or old friendships
broken, for politics."

Katherine had asked at once, with eager love, for Joanna; she had
expected that she would be waiting to welcome her. Lysbet smiled faintly
at the supposition. "She has a large family, then, and Batavius, and her
house. Seldom comes she here now."

But about four o'clock, as Katherine and Hyde were dressing, Joanna and
Batavius and all their family arrived. In a moment, their presence
seemed to diffuse itself through the house. There was a sense of
confusion and unrest, and the loud crying of a hungry baby determined to
be attended to. And Joanna was fulfilling this duty, when Katherine
hastened to meet her. Wifehood and motherhood had greatly altered the
slim, fair girl of ten years before. She had grown stout, and was untidy
in her dress, and a worried, anxious expression was continually on her
countenance. Batavius kept an eye on the children; there were five of
them beside the baby, - fat, rosy, round-faced miniatures of himself, all
having a fair share of his peculiar selfish traits, which each expressed
after its individual fashion.

Hyde met his brother-in-law with a gentlemanly cordiality; and Batavius,
who had told Joanna "he intended to put down a bit that insolent
Englishman," was quite taken off his guard, and, ere he was aware of his
submission, was smoking amicably with him, as they discussed the
proposed military organization. Very soon Hyde asked Batavius, "If he
were willing to join it?"

"When such a family a man has," he answered, waving his hand
complacently toward the six children, "he must have some prudence and
consideration. I had been well content with one child; but we must have
our number, there is no remedy. And I am a householder, and I pay my
way, and do my business. It is a fixed principle with me not to meddle
with the business of other people."

"But, sir, this is your business, and your children's business also."

"I think, then, that it is King George's business."

"It is liberty" -

"Well, then, I have my liberty. I have liberty to buy and to sell, to go
to my own kirk, to sail the 'Great Christopher' when and where I will.
My house, my wife, my little children, nobody has touched."

"Pray, sir, what of your rights? your honour?"

"Oh, indeed, then, for ideas I quarrel not! Facts, they are different.
Every man has his own creed, and every man his own liberty, so say
I. - Come here, Alida," and he waved his hand imperiously to a little
woman of four years old, who was sulking at the window, "what's the
matter now? You have been crying again. I see that you have a
discontented temper. There is a spot on your petticoat also, and your
cap is awry. I fear that you will never become a neat, respectable
girl - you that ought to set a good pattern to your little sister

Evidently he wished to turn the current of the conversation; but as soon
as the child had been sent to her mother, Joris resumed it.

"If you go not yourself to the fight, Batavius, plenty of young men are
there, longing to go, who have no arms and no clothes: send in your
place one of them."

"It is my fixed principle not to meddle in the affairs of other people,
and my principles are sacred to me."

"Batavius, you said not long ago that the colonists were leaving the old
ship, and that the first in the new boat would have the choice of oars."

"Bram, that is the truth. I said not that I would choose any of the

"A fair harbour we shall make, and the rewards will be great, Batavius."

"It is not good to cry 'herrings,' till in the net you have them. And to
talk of rowing, the colonists must row against wind and tide; the
English will row with set sail. That is easy rowing. Into this question
I have looked well, for always I think about everything."

"Have you read the speeches of Adams and Hancock and Quincy? Have you
heard what Colonel Washington said in the Assembly?"

"Oh, these men are discontented! Something which they have not got, they
want. They are troublesome and conceited. They expect the century will
be called after them. Now I, who punctually fulfil my obligations as a
father and a citizen, I am contented, I never make complaints, I never
want more liberty. You may read in the Holy Scriptures that no good
comes of rebellion. Did not Absalom sit in the gate, and say to the
discontented, 'See thy matters are good and right; but there is no man
deputed of the king to hear thee;' and, moreover, 'Oh, that I were made
a judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might
come unto me, and I would do him justice'? And did not Sheba blow a
trumpet, and say, 'We have no part in David, neither have we
inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to his tents, O Israel'?
Well, then, what came of such follies? You may read in the Word of God
that they ended in ruin."

[Illustration: He marshalled the six children in front of him]

Hyde looked with curiosity at the complacent orator. Bram rose, and,
with a long-drawn whistle, left the room. Joris said sternly, "Enough
you have spoken, Batavius. None are so blind as those who will not see."

"Well, then, father, I can see what is in the way of mine own business;
and it is a fixed principle with me not to meddle with the business of
other people. And look here, Joanna, the night is coming, and the dew
with it, and Alida had sore throat yesterday: we had better go. Fast in
sleep the children ought to be at this hour." And he bustled about them,
tying on caps and capes; and finally, having marshalled the six children
and their two nurses in front of him he trotted off with Joanna upon his
arm, fully persuaded that he had done himself great credit, and acted
with uncommon wisdom. "But it belongs to me to do that, Joanna," he
said; "among all the merchants, I am known for my great prudence."

"I think that my father and Bram will get into trouble in this matter."

"You took the word out of my mouth, Joanna; and I will have nothing to
do with such follies, for they are waxing hand over hand like the great
winds at sea, till the hurricane comes, and then the ruin."

The next morning was the Sabbath, and it broke in a perfect splendour of
sunshine. The New World was so new and fresh, and Katherine thought she
had never before seen the garden so lovely. Joris was abroad in it very
early. He looked at the gay crocus and the pale snowdrop and the budding
pansies with a singular affection. He was going, perchance, on a long
warfare. Would he ever return to greet them in the coming springs? If he
did return, would they be there to greet him? As he stood pensively
thoughtful, Katherine called him. He raised his eyes, and watched her
approach as he had been used when she was a child, a school-girl, a
lovely maiden. But never had she been so beautiful as now. She was
dressed for church in a gown of rich brown brocade over a petticoat of
paler satin, with costly ornaments of gold and rubies. As she joined her
father, Hyde joined Lysbet in the parlour; and the two stood at the
window watching her. She had clasped her hands upon his shoulder, and
leaned her beautiful head against them. "A most perfect picture," said
Hyde, and then he kissed Lysbet; and from that moment they were mother
and son.

They walked to church together; and Hyde thought how beautiful the
pleasant city was that sabbath morning, with its pretty houses shaded by
trees just turning green, its clear air full of the grave dilating
harmony of the church-bells, its quiet streets thronged with men and
women - both sexes dressed with a magnificence modern Broadway beaux and
belles have nothing to compare with. What staid, dignified men in
three-cornered hats and embroidered velvet coats and long plush vests!
What buckles and wigs and lace ruffles and gold snuff-boxes! What
beautiful women in brocades and taffetas, in hoops and high heels and
gauze hats! Here and there a black-robed dominie; here and there a
splendidly dressed British officer, in scarlet and white, and gold
epaulettes and silver embroideries! New York has always been a highly
picturesque city, but never more so than in the restless days of A.D.

Katherine and Hyde and Bram were together; Joris and Lysbet were slowly
following them. They were none of them speaking much, nor thinking much,
but all were very happy and full of content! Suddenly the peaceful
atmosphere was troubled by the startling clamour of a trumpet. It was a
note so distinct from the music of the bells, so full of terror and
warning, that every one stood still. A second blast was accompanied by
the rapid beat of a horse's hoofs; and the rider came down Broadway like
one on a message of life and death, and made no pause until he had very
nearly reached Maiden Lane.

At that point a tall, muscular man seized the horse by the bridle, and
asked, "What news?"

"Great news! great news! There has been a battle, a massacre at
Lexington, a running fight from Concord to Boston! Stay me not!" But, as
he shook the bridle free, he threw a handbill, containing the official
account of the affair at Lexington to the inquirer.

Who then thought of church, though the church-bells were ringing? The
crowd gathered around the man with the handbill, and in ominous silence
listened to the tidings of the massacre at Lexington, the destruction of
stores at Concord, the quick gathering of the militia from the hills and
dales around Reading and Roxbury, the retreat of the British under their
harassing fire, until, worn out and disorganized, they had found a
refuge in Boston. "And this is the postscript at the last moment," added
the reader: "'Men are pouring in from all the country sides; Putnam left
his plough in the furrow, and rode night and day to the ground; Heath,
also, is with him.'"

Joris was white and stern in his emotion; Bram stood by the reader, with
a face as bright as a bridegroom's; Hyde's lips were drawn tight, and
his eyes were flashing with the true military flame. "Father," he said,
"take mother and Katherine to church; Bram and I will stay here, for I
can see that there is something to be done."

"God help us! Yes, I will go to Him first;" and, taking his wife and
daughter, he passed with them out of the crowd.

Hyde turned to the reader, who stood with bent brows, and the paper in
his hand. "Well, sir, what is to be done?" he asked.

"There are five hundred stand of arms in the City Hall; there are men
enough here to take them. Let us go."

A loud cry of assent answered him.

"My name is Richard Hyde, late of his Majesty's Windsor Guards; but I am
with you, heart and soul."

"I am Marinus Willet."

"Then, Mr. Willet, where first?"

[Illustration: The City Hall]

"To the mayor's residence. He has the keys of the room in which the arms
are kept."

The news spread, no one knew how; but men poured out from the churches
and the houses on their route, and Willet's force was soon nearly a
thousand strong. The tumult, the tread, the _animus_ of the gathering,
was felt in that part of the city even where it could not be heard.
Joris could hardly endure the suspense, and the service did him very
little good. About two o'clock, as he was walking restlessly about the
house, Bram and Hyde returned together.

"Well?" he asked.

"There were five hundred stand of arms in the City Hall, and I swear
that we have taken them all. A man called Willet led us; a hero, quick
of thought, prompt and daring, - a true soldier."

"I know him well; a good man."

"The keys the mayor refused to us," said Bram.

"Oh, sir, he lied to us! Vowed he did not have them, and sent us to the
armourer in Crown Street. The armourer vowed that he had given them to
the mayor."

"What then?"

[Illustration: He swung a great axe]

"Oh, indeed, all fortune fitted us! We went _en masse_ down Broadway
into Wall Street, and so to the City Hall. Here some one, with too nice
a sense of the sabbath, objected to breaking open the doors because of
the day. But with very proper spirit Willet replied, 'If we wait until
to-morrow, the king's men will not wait. The arms will be removed. And
as for a key, here is one that will open any lock.' As he said the
words, he swung a great axe around his head; and so, with a few blows,
he made us an entrance. Indeed, I think that he is a grand fellow."

"And you got the arms?"

"Faith, we got all we went for! The arms were divided among the people.
There was a drum and a fife also found with them, and some one made us
very excellent music to step to. As we returned up Broadway, the
congregation were just coming out of Trinity. Upon my word, I think we
frightened them a little."

"Where were the English soldiers?"

"Indeed, they were shut up in barracks. Some of their officers were in
church, others waiting for orders from the governor or mayor. 'Tis to be
found out where the governor might be; the mayor was frightened beyond
everything, and not capable of giving an order. Had my uncle Gordon been
still in command here, he had not been so patient."

"And for you that would have been a hard case."

"Upon my word, I would not have fought my old comrades. I am glad, then,
that they are in Quebec. Our swords will scarce reach so far."

"And where went you with the arms?"

"To a room in John Street. There they were stacked, the names of the men
enrolled, and a guard placed over them. Bram is on the night patrol, by
his own request. As for me, I have the honour of assisting New York in
her first act of rebellion! and, if the military superstition be a true
one, 'A Sunday fight is a lucky fight.' - And now, mother, we will have
some dinner: 'The soldier loves his mess.'"

Every one was watching him with admiration. Never in his uniform had he
appeared so like a soldier as he did at that hour in his citizen coat
and breeches of wine-coloured velvet, his black silk stockings and
gold-buckled shoes. His spirits were infectious: Bram had already come
into thorough sympathy with him, and grown almost gay in his company;
Joris felt his heart beat to the joy and hope in his young comrades.
All alike had recognized that the fight was inevitable, and that it
would be well done if it were soon done.

But events cannot be driven by wishes: many things had to be settled
before a movement forward could be made. Joris had his store to let, and
the stock and good-will to dispose of. Horses and accoutrements must be
bought, uniforms made; and every day this charge increased: for, as soon
as Van Heemskirk's intention to go to the front was known, a large
number of young men from the best Dutch families were eager to enlist
under him.

Hyde's time was spent as a recruiting-officer. His old quarters, the
"King's Arms," were of course closed to him; but there was a famous

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 19 of 20)