Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York online

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that Katherine was silent and disappointed, and that she lingered in her
own room after her arrival at home. Her subsequent pretty cheerfulness,
her delight in her lilies, her confiding claims upon her father's
love, - nothing in these things deceived him. He saw beneath all the
fluttering young heart, trembling, and yet happy in the new, sweet
feeling, never felt before, which had come to it that afternoon.

But he thought that most girls had to have this initiative: it prepared
the way for a soberer and more lasting affection. In the end, Katherine
would perceive how imprudent, how impossible, a marriage with Captain
Hyde must be; and her heart would turn back to Neil, who had been her
lover from boyhood. Yet he reflected, it would be well to have the
matter understood, and to give it that "possibility" which is best
attained on a money basis.

So while he and the Van Heemskirks discussed the matter, - a little
reluctantly, he thought, on their part, - Katherine talked with Joanna of
the Gordons. Her heart was so full of her lover, that it was a relief to
discuss the people and things nearest to him. And her very repression
excited her. She toyed with her cambric kerchief before the small
looking-glass, and imitated the fashionable English lady with a piquant
cleverness that provoked low peals of laughter, and a retrospective
discussion of the evening, which was merry enough, without being in the
least ill-natured.

But, oh, in what strange solitudes every separate soul dwells! When
Katherine kissed her sister, and said simperingly, with the highest
English accent, "La, child, I protest it has been the most agreeable
evening," Joanna had not a suspicion of the joy and danger that had come
to the dear little one at her side. She was laughing softly with her,
even while the fearful father stood at the closed door, and lifted up
his tender soul in that pathetic petition, "_Ach, mijn kind! mijn kind!
mijn liefste kind!_ Almighty God preserve thee from all sin and sorrow!"

[Illustration: Tail-piece]

[Illustration: Chapter heading]


"_The proverb holds, that to be wise and love
Is hardly granted to the gods above._"

"Well, well, to-day goes to its forefathers, like all the rest; and, as
for what comes after it, every thing is in the love and counsel of the
Almighty One."

This was Joris Van Heemskirk's last thought ere he fell asleep that
night, after Elder Semple's cautious disclosure and proposition. In his
calm, methodical, domestic life, it had been an "eventful day." We say
the words often and unreflectingly, seldom pausing to consider that such
days are the results which months, years, perchance centuries, have made
possible. Thus, a long course of reckless living and reckless gambling,
and the consequent urgent need of ready money, had first made Captain
Hyde turn his thoughts to the pretty daughter of the rich Dutch

Madam Semple, in her desire to enhance the importance of the Van
Heemskirks, had mentioned more than once the handsome sums of ready
money given to each of Katharine's sisters on their wedding-day; and
both Colonel Gordon and his wife had thought of this sum so often, as a
relief to their nephew's embarrassments, that it seemed almost as much
Hyde's property as if he had been born to inherit it. At first
Katherine, as its encumbrance, had been discussed very heartlessly, - she
could be left in New York when his regiment received marching orders, if
it were thought desirable; or she could be taken to England, and settled
as mistress of Hyde Manor House, a lonely mansion on the Norfolk fens,
which was so rarely tenanted by the family that Hyde had never been
there since his boyhood.

"She is a homespun little thing," laughed the colonel's fashionable
wife, "and quite unfit to go among people of our condition. But she
adores you, Dick; and she will be passably happy with a house to manage,
and a visit from you when you can spare the time."

"Oh, your servant, aunt! Then I am a very indifferent judge; for indeed
she has much spirit below her gentle manner; and, upon my word, I think
her as fine a creature as you can find in the best London society. The
task, I assure you, is not easy. When Katherine is won, then, in faith,
her father may be in no hurry of approval. And the child is a fair,
innocent child: I am very uneasy to do her wrong. The ninety-nine
plagues of an empty purse are to blame for all my ill deeds."

"Upon my word, Dick, nothing can be more commendable than your temper.
You make vastly proper reflection, sir; but you are in troubled
waters, - admit it, - and this little Dutch-craft may bring you
respectably into harbour.

It was in this mood that Katherine and her probable fortune had been
discussed; and thus she was but one of the events, springing from lives
anterior to her own, and very different from it. And causes nearly as
remote had prepared the way for her ready reception of Hyde's homage,
and the relaxation of domestic discipline which had trusted her so often
and so readily in his society - causes which had been forgotten, but
which had left behind them a positive and ever-growing result. When a
babe, she was remarkably frail and delicate; and this circumstance,
united to the fact of her being the youngest child, had made the whole
household very tender to her, and she had been permitted a much larger
portion of her own way than was usually given to any daughter in a Dutch

Also, in her father's case, the motives influencing his decision
stretched backward through many generations. None the less was their
influence potent to move him. In fact, he forgot entirely to reflect how
a marriage between his child and Captain Hyde would be regarded at that
day; his first thoughts had been precisely such thoughts as would have
occurred to a Van Heemskirk living two hundred years before him. And
thus, though we hardly remember the fact, it is this awful solidarity of
the human family which makes the third and fourth generations heirs of
their forefathers, and brings into every life those critical hours we
call "eventful days."

Joris, however, made no such reflections. His age was not an age
inclined to analysis, and he was still less inclined to it from a
personal standpoint. For he was a man of few, but positive ideas; yet
these ideas, having once commended themselves to his faith or his
intelligence, were embraced with all his soul. It was this spirit which
made him deprecate even religious discussions, so dear to the heart of
his neighbour.

[Illustration: He heard her calling him to breakfast]

"I like them not, Elder," he would say; "of what use are they, then?
The Calvinistic faith is the true faith. That is certain. Very well,
then; what is true does not require to be examined, to see if it be

Semple's communication regarding Captain Hyde and his daughter had
aroused in him certain feelings, and led him to certain decisions. He
went to sleep, satisfied with their propriety and justice. He awoke in
precisely the same mood. Then he dressed, and went into his garden. It
was customary for Katherine to join him there; and he frequently turned,
as he went down the path, to see if she were coming. He watched eagerly
for the small figure in its short quilted petticoat and buckled shoes,
and the fair, pink face shaded by the large Zealand hat, with its long
blue ribbons crossed over the back. But this morning she did not come.
He walked alone to his lily bed, and stooped a little forlornly to
admire the tulips and crocus-cups and little purple pansies; but his
face brightened when he heard her calling him to breakfast, and very
soon he saw her leaning over the half door, shading her eyes with both
her hands, the better to watch his approach.

Lysbet was already in her place; so was Joanna, and also Bram; and a
slim black girl called Dinorah was handing around fricasseed chicken and
venison steaks, hot fritters and johnny-cake; while the rich Java berry
filled the room with an aroma of tropical life, and suggestions of the
spice-breathing coasts of Sunda. Joris and Bram discussed the business
of the day; Katherine was full of her visit to Semple House the
preceding evening. Dinorah was no restraint. The slaves Joris owned,
like those of Abraham, were born or brought up in his own household;
they held to all the family feelings with a faithful, often an
unreasonable, tenacity.

And yet, this morning, Joris waited until Lysbet dismissed her handmaid,
before he said the words he had determined to speak ere he began the
work of the day. Then he put down his cup with an emphasis which made
all eyes turn to him, and said, -

"_Katrijntje_, my daughter, call not to-day, nor call not any day, until
I tell you different, at Madam Semple's. The people who go and come
there, I like them not. They will be no good to you. Lysbet, what say
you in this matter?"

"What you say, I say, Joris. The father is to be obeyed. When he will
not, the children can not."

"Joanna, what say you?"

"I like best of all things to do your pleasure, father."

"And you, Bram?"

"As for me, I think you are very right. I like not those English
officers, - insolent and proud men, all of them. It would have been a
great pleasure to me to strike down the one who yesterday spurned with
his spurred boot our good neighbour Jacob Cohen, for no reason but that
he was a Jew" -

"Heigho! go softly, Bram. That which burns thee not, cool not."

"As he passed our store door where I stood, he said 'devil,' but he
meant me."

"Only God knows what men mean. Now, then, little one, thy will is my
will, is it not?"

She had drawn her chair close to her father's, and taken his big hand
between her own, and was stroking and petting it as he spoke; and, ere
she answered, she leaned her head upon his breast.

"Father, I like to see the English lady; and she is teaching me the new

"_Schoone Lammetje_! There are many other things far better for thee to
learn; for instance, to darn the fine Flemish lace, and to work the
beautiful 'clocks' on thy stockings, and to make perfect thy Heidelberg
and thy Confession of Faith. In these things, the best of all good
teachers is thy mother."

"I can do these things also, father. The lady loves me, and will be
unhappy not to see me."

"Then, let her come here and see thee. That will be the proper thing.
Why not? She is not better than thou art. Once thy mother has called on
her; thou and Joanna, a few times too often. Now, then, let her call on
thee. Always honour thyself, as well as others. That is the Dutch way;
that is the right way. Mind what I tell thee."

His voice had gradually grown sterner; and he gently withdrew his hand
from her clasp, and rose as a man in a hurry, and pressed with affairs:
"Come, Bram, there is need now of some haste. The 'Sea Hound' has her
cargo, and should sail at the noon-tide; and, as for the 'Crowned
Bears,' thou knowest there is much to be said and done. I hear she left
most of her cargo at Perth Amboy. Well, well, I have told Jerome Brakel
what I think of that. It is his own affair."

Thus talking, he left the room; and Lysbet instantly began to order the
wants of the house with the same air of settled preoccupation. "Joanna,"
she said, "the linen web in the loom, go and see how it is getting on;
and the fine napkins must be sent to the lawn for the bleaching, and
to-day the chambers must be aired and swept. The best parlour Katherine
will attend to."

Katherine still sat at the table; her eyes were cast down, and she was
arranging - without a consciousness of doing so - her bread-crumbs upon
her Delft plate. The directions roused her from her revery, and she
comprehended in a moment how decisive her father's orders were intended
to be. Yet in this matter she was so deeply interested that she
instinctively made an appeal against them.

"Mother, my mother, shall I not go once more to see Madam Gordon? So
kind she has been to me! She will say I am ungrateful, that I am rude,
and know not good manners. And I left there the cushion I am making, and
the worsteds. I may go at once, and bring them home? Yes, mother, I may
go at once. A young girl does not like to be thought ungrateful and

"More than that, Katherine; a young girl should not like to disobey a
good father. You make me feel astonished and sorry. Here is the key of
the best parlour; go now, and wash carefully the fine china-ware. As to
the rose-leaves in the big jars, you must not let a drop of water touch

"My cushion and my worsteds, mother!"

"Well, then, I will send Dinorah for them with a civil message. That
will be right."

So Lysbet turned and left the room. She did not notice the rebellious
look on her daughter's face, the lowering brows, the resentment in the
glance that followed her, the lips firmly set to the mental purpose. "To
see her lover at all risks" - that was the purpose; but how best to
accomplish it, was not clear to her. The ways of the household were so
orderly, so many things brought the family together during the day,
Lysbet and Joanna kept such a loving watch over her, the road between
their own house and the Semples' was so straight and unscreened, and she
was, beside, such a novice in deception, - all these circumstances
flashing at once across her mind made her, for a moment or two, almost

But she lifted the key given her and went to the parlour. It was a
large, low room, with wainscoted walls, and a big tiled fireplace nearly
filling one end of it. The blinds were closed, but there was enough
light to reveal its quaint and almost foreign character. Great jars with
dragons at the handles stood in the recesses made by large oak cabinets,
black with age, and elaborately carved with a marvellous nicety and
skill. The oval tables were full of curious bits of china, dainty
Oriental wicker work, exquisite shells on lacquered trays, wonderfully
wrought workboxes and fans and amulets. The odours of calamus and myrrh
and camphor from strange continents mingled with the faint perfume of
the dried rose leaves and the scent-bags of English lavender. Many of
these rare and beautiful things were the spoils brought from India and
Java by the sea-going Van Heemskirks of past generations. Others had
come at long intervals as gifts from the captains of ships with whom the
house did business. Katherine had often seen such visitors - men with
long hair and fierce looks, and the pallor of hot, moist lands below the
tan of wind and sunshine. It had always been her delight to dust and
care for these various treasures; and the room itself, with its
suggestive aromas, was her favourite hiding-place. Here she had made her
own fairy tales, and built the enchanted castles which the less
fortunate children of this day have clever writers build for them.

And at length the prince of her imagination had come! As she moved about
among the strange carven toys and beautiful ornaments, she could think
only of him, - of his stately manner and dark, handsome face. Simple,
even rustic, she might be; but she understood that he had treated her
with as much deference and homage as if she had been a princess. She
recalled every word he said to her as they sat under the water beeches.
More vividly still she recalled the tender light in his eyes, the
lingering clasp of his hand, his low, persuasive voice, and that
nameless charm of fashion and culture which perhaps impressed her more
than any other thing.

Among the articles she had to dust was a square Indian box with drawers.
It had always been called "the writing-box," and it was partly filled
with paper and other materials for letter-writing. She stood before the
open lid thoughtfully, and a sudden overwhelming desire to send some
message of apology to Mrs. Gordon came into her heart. She could write
pretty well, and she had seen her mother and Joanna fold and seal
letters; and, although she was totally inexperienced in the matter, she
determined to make the effort.

[Illustration: The quill pens must be mended]

There was nothing in the materials then to help her. The letter paper
was coarse; envelopes were unknown. She would have to bring a candle
into the room in order to seal it; and a candle could only be lit by
striking a spark from the flint upon the tinder, and then igniting a
brimstone match from it, - unless she lit it at the kindled fire, which
would subject her to questions and remonstrances. Also, the quill pens
must be mended, and the ink renewed. But all these difficulties were
overcome, one by one; and the following note was intrusted to the care
of Diedrich Becker, the old man who worked in the garden and milked the

come to see you. He thinks you should upon my mother call. That you will
judge me to be rude and ungrateful I fear very much. But that is not
true. I am unhappy, indeed. I think all the day of you.

Your obedient servant,

"'The poor child," said Mrs. Gordon, when she had read the few anxious
sentences. "Look here, Dick;" and Dick, who was beating a tattoo upon
the window-pane, turned listlessly and asked, "Pray, madam, what is it?"

"Of all earthly things, a letter from that poor child, Katherine Van
Heemskirk. She has more wit than I expected. So her father won't let her
come to me. Why, then, upon my word, I will go to her."

Captain Hyde was interested at once. He took the letter his aunt
offered, and read it with a feeling of love and pity and resentment.
"You will go to-morrow?" he asked; "and would it be beyond good breeding
for me to accompany you?"

"Indeed, nephew, I think it would. But I will give your service, and say
everything that is agreeable. Be patient; to-morrow morning I will call
upon our fair neighbour."

The next morning was damp, for there had been heavy rain during the
night; but Captain Hyde would not let his aunt forget or forego her
promise. She had determined to make an unceremonious visit; and early in
the day she put on her bonnet and pelisse, and walked over to the Van
Heemskirks. A negro woman was polishing the brass ornaments of the door,
and over its spotless threshold she passed without question or delay.

A few minutes she waited alone in the best parlour, charmed with its far
off air and Eastern scents, and then Madam Van Heemskirk welcomed her.
In her heart she was pleased at the visit. She thought privately that
her Joris had been a little too strict. She did not really see why her
beautiful daughters should not have the society and admiration of the
very best people in the Province. And Mrs. Gordon's praise of Katharine,
and her declaration that "she was inconsolable without the dear
creature's society," seemed to the fond mother the most proper and
natural of feelings.

"Do but let me see her an hour, madam," she said. "You know my sincere
admiration. Is not that her voice? I vow, she sings to perfection And
what a singular melody! Please to set wide the door, madam."

"It is the brave song of the brave men of Zealand, when from the walls
of Leyden they drove away the Spaniards;" and madam stood in the open
door, and called to her daughter, "Well, then, Katharine, begin again
the song of 'The Beggars of the Sea.'"

"We are the Beggars of the Sea, -
Strong, gray Beggars from Zealand we;
We are fighting for liberty:
Heave ho! rip the brown sails free!

"Hardy sons of old Zierikzee,
Fed on the breath of the wild North Sea.
Beggars are kings if free they be:
Heave ho! rip the brown sails free!

"'_True to the Wallet_,' whatever betide;
'_Long live the Gueux_,' - the sea will provide
Graves for the enemy, deep and wide:
Heave ho! rip the brown sails free!

"Beggars, but not from the Spaniard's hand;
Beggars, 'under the Cross' we stand;
Beggars, for love of the fatherland:
Heave ho! rip the brown sails free!

"Now, if the Spaniard comes our way,
What shall we give him, Beggars gray?
Give him a moment to kneel and pray:
Heave ho! rip the brown sails free!"

At the second verse, Mrs. Gordon rose and said, "Indeed, madam, I find
my good-breeding no match against such singing. And the tune is
wonderful; it has the ring of trumpets, and the roar of the waves, in
it. Pray let us go at once to your daughters."

"At work are they; but, if you mind not that, you are welcome indeed."
Then she led the way to the large living, or dining, room, where
Katherine stood at the table cleaning the silver flagons and cups and
plates that adorned the great oak sideboard.

Joanna, who was darning some fine linen, rose and made her respects with
perfect composure. She had very little liking, either for Mrs. Gordon or
her nephew; and many of their ways appeared to her utterly foolish, and
not devoid of sin. But Katherine trembled and blushed with pleasure and
excitement, and Mrs. Gordon watched her with a certain kind of curious
delight. Her hair was combed backward, plaited, and tied with a ribbon;
her arms bare to the shoulders, her black bodice and crimson petticoat
neatly shielded with a linen apron: and poised in one hand she held a
beautiful silver flagon covered with raised figures, which with patient
labour she had brought into shining relief.

"Oh," cried the visitor, "that is indeed a piece of plate worth looking
at! Surely, child, it has a history, - a romance perhaps. La, there are
words also upon it! Pray, madam, be so obliging as to read the
inscription;" and madam, blushing with pride and pleasure, read it
aloud, -

"'Hoog van Moed,
Klein van Goed,
Een zwaard in de hand:
Is 't wapen van Gelderland.'"

"Dutch, I vow! Surely, madam, it is very sonorous and emphatic; vastly
different, I do assure you, from the vowelled idioms of Italy and Spain.
Pray, madam, be so civil as to translate the words for me."

"'Of spirit great,
Of small estate,
A sword in the hand:
Such are the arms of Guelderland.'

[Illustration: A Guelderland flagon]

"You must know," continued Madam Van Heemskirk, "that my husband's
father had a brother, who, in a great famine in Guelderland, filled one
hundred flat boats with wheat of Zealand, - in all the world it is the
finest wheat, that is the truth, - and help he sent to those who were
ready to perish. And when came better days, then, because their hearts
were good, they gave to their preserver this flagon. Joris Van
Heemskirk, my husband, sets on it great store, that is so."

Conversation in this channel was easily maintained. Madame Van Heemskirk
knew the pedigree or the history of every tray or cup, and in
reminiscence and story an hour passed away very pleasantly indeed.
Joanna did not linger to listen. The visitor did not touch her liking or
her interest; and besides, as every one knows, the work of a house must
go on, no matter what guest opens the door. But Katherine longed and
watched and feared. Surely her friend would not go away without some
private token or message for her. She turned sick at heart when she rose
as if to depart. But Mrs. Gordon proved herself equal to the emergency;
for, after bidding madam an effusive good-by, she turned suddenly and
said, "Pray allow your daughter to show me the many ornaments in your
parlour. The glimpse I had has made me very impatient to see them more

The request was one entirely in sympathy with the mood and the previous
conversation, and madam was pleased to gratify it; also pleased, that,
having fully satisfied the claims of social life, she could with
courtesy leave her visitor's further entertainment with Katherine, and
return to her regular domestic cares. To her the visit had appeared to
be one of such general interest, that she never suspected any motive
beneath or beyond the friendliness it implied. Yet the moment the
parlour-door had been shut, Mrs. Gordon lifted Katharine's face between
her palms, and said, -

"Faith, child, I am almost run off my head with all the fine things I
have listened to for your sake. Do you know _who_ sent me here?"

"I think, madam, Captain Hyde."

"Psha! Why don't you blush, and stammer, and lie about it? 'I think,
madam, Captain Hyde,'" mimicking Katherine's slight Dutch accent. "'Tis
to be seen, miss, that you understand a thing or two. Now, Captain Hyde

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 3 of 20)