Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York online

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wishes to see you; when can you oblige him so much?"

"I know not. To come to Madam Semple's is forbidden me by my father."

"It is on my account. I protest your father is very uncivil."

"Madam, no; but it is the officers; many come and go, and he thinks it
is not good for me to meet them."

"Oh, indeed, miss, it is very hard on Captain Hyde, who is more in love
than is reasonable Has your father forbidden you to walk down your
garden to the river-bank?"

"No, madam."

"Then, if Captain Hyde pass about two o'clock, he might see you there?"

"At two I am busy with Joanna."

"La, child! At three then?"


The word was a question more than an assent; but Mrs. Gordon assumed the
assent, and did not allow Katharine to contradict it. "And I promised to
bring him a token from you, - he was exceedingly anxious about that
matter; give me the ribbon from your hair."

"Only last week Joanna bought it for me. She would surely ask me, 'Where
is your new ribbon?'"

"Tell her that you lost it."

"How could I say that? It would not be true."

The girl's face was so sincere, that Mrs. Gordon found herself unable to
ridicule the position. "My dear," she answered, "you are a miracle. But,
among all these pretty things, is there nothing you can send?"

Katherine looked thoughtfully around. There was a small Chinese cabinet
on a table: she went to it, and took from a drawer a bow of orange
ribbon. Holding it doubtfully in her hand, she said, "My St. Nicholas

"La, miss, I thought you were a Calvinist! What are you talking of the
saints for?"

"St. Nicholas is our saint, our own saint; and on his day we wear
orange. Yes, even my father then, on his silk cap, puts an orange bow.
Orange is the Dutch colour, you know, madam."

"Indeed, child, I do _not_ know; but, if so, then it is the best colour
to send to your true love."

"For the Dutch, orange always. On the great days of the kirk, my father
puts blue with it. Blue is the colour of the Dutch Calvinists."

"Make me thankful to learn so much. Then when Councillor Van Heemskirk
wears his blue and orange, he says to the world, 'I am a Dutchman and a

"That is the truth. For the _Vaderland_ the _Moeder-Kerk_ he wears their
colours. The English, too, they will have their own colour!"

"La, my dear, England claims every colour! But, indeed, even an English
officer may now wear an orange favour; for I remember well when our
Princess Anne married the young Prince of Orange. Oh, I assure you the
House of Nassau is close kin to the House of Hanover! And when English
princesses marry Dutch princes, then surely English officers may marry
Dutch maidens. Your bow of orange ribbon is a very proper love-knot."

"Indeed, madam, I never" -

[Illustration: "A very proper love-knot"]

"There, there! I can really wait no longer. _Some one_ is already in a
fever of impatience. 'Tis a quaintly pretty room; I am happy to have seen
its curious treasures. Good-by again, child; my service once more to your
mother and sister;" and so, with many compliments, she passed chatting and
laughing out of the house.

Katherine closed the best parlour, and lingered a moment in the act. She
felt that she had permitted Mrs. Gordon to make an appointment for her
lover, and a guilty sense of disobedience made bitter the joy of
expectation. For absolute truthfulness is the foundation of the Dutch
character; and an act of deception was not only a sin according to
Katherine's nature, but one in direct antagonism to it. As she turned
away from the closed parlour, she felt quite inclined to confide
everything to her sister Joanna; but Joanna, who had to finish the
cleaning of the silver, was not in that kind of a temper which invites
confidence; and indeed, Katherine, looking into her calm, preoccupied
face, felt her manner to be a reproof and a restraint.

So she kept her own counsel, and doubted and debated the matter in her
heart until the hands of the great clock were rising quickly to the hour
of fate. Then she laid down her fine sewing, and said, "Mother, I want
to walk in the garden. When I come back my task I will finish."

"That is well. Joanna, too, has let her work fall down to her lap. Go,
both of you, and get the fine air from the river."

This was not what Katherine wished; but nothing but assent was possible,
and the girls strolled slowly down the box-bordered walks together.
Madam Van Heemskirk watched them from the window for a few minutes. A
smile of love and pleasure was on her fine, placid face; but she said
with a sigh, as she turned away, -

"Well, well, if it is the will of God they should not rise in the world,
one must be content. To the spider the web is as large as to the whale
the whole wide sea; that is the truth."

Joanna was silent; she was thinking of her own love-affairs; but
Katherine, doubtful of herself, thought also that her sister suspected
her. When they reached the river-bank, Joanna perceived that the lilacs
were in bloom, and at their root the beautiful auriculas; and she
stooped low to inhale their strange, nameless, earthy perfume. At that
moment a boat rowed by with two English soldiers, stopped just below
them, and lay rocking on her oars. Then an officer in the stern rose and
looked towards Katherine, who stood in the full sunlight with her large
hat in her hand. Before she could make any sign of recognition, Joanna
raised herself from the auriculas and stood beside her sister; yet in
the slight interval Katherine had seen Captain Hyde fling back from his
left shoulder his cloak, in order to display the bow of orange ribbon on
his breast.

The presence of Joanna baffled and annoyed him; but he raised his beaver
with a gallant grace, and Joanna dropped a courtesy, and then, taking
Katherine's hand, turned toward home with her, saying, "That is the boat
of Captain Hyde. What comes he this way for?"

"The river way is free to all, Joanna." And Joanna looked sharply at
her sister and remained silent.

But Katherine was merry as a bird. She chattered of this and of that,
and sang snatches of songs, old and new. And all the time her heart beat
out its own glad refrain, "My bow of orange ribbon, my bow of orange
ribbon!" Her needle went to her thoughts, and her thoughts went to
melody; for, as she worked, she sang, -

"Will you have a pink knot?
Is it blue you prize?
One is like a fresh rose,
One is like your eyes.
No, the maid of Holland,
For her own true love,
Ties the splendid orange,
Orange still above!
_O oranje boven!_
Orange still above.

"Will you have the white knot?
No, it is too cold.
Give me splendid orange,
Tint of flame and gold;
Rich and glowing orange,
For the heart I love;
_Under_, white and pink and blue;
Orange still _above_!
_O oranje boven!_
Orange still above!"

"How merry you sing, _mijn Katrijntje_! Like a little bird you sing.
What, then, is it?"

"A pretty song made by the schoolmaster, _mijn moeder. 'Oranje Boven'_
the name is."

"That is a good name. Your father I will remind to have it painted over
the door of the summer-house."

"There already are two mottoes painted, - Peaceful is my garden,' and
'Contentment is my lot.'"

"Well, then, there is always room for two more good words, is there
not?" And Katherine gayly sung her answer, -

"Tie the splendid orange,
Orange still above!
_O oranje boven!_
Orange still above."

[Illustration: Tail-piece]

[Illustration: Chapter heading]


"_The trifles of our daily lives,
The common things scarce worth recall,
Whereof no visible trace survives, -
These are the mainsprings, after all._"

"Honoured gentleman, when will you pay me my money?"

The speaker was an old man, dressed in a black coat buttoned to the
ankles, and a cap of silk and fur, from beneath which fell a fringe of
gray hair. His long beard was also gray, and he leaned upon an ivory
staff carved with many strange signs. The inquiry was addressed to
Captain Hyde. He paid no attention whatever to it, but, gayly humming a
stave of "Marlbrook," watched the crush of wagons and pedestrians, in
order to find a suitable moment to cross the narrow street.

"Honoured gentleman, when will you pay me my moneys?"

The second inquiry elicited still less attention for, just as it was
made, Neil Semple came out of the City Hall, and his appearance gave the
captain a good excuse for ignoring the unpleasant speaker.

"Faith, Mr. Semple," he cried, "you came in an excellent time. I am for
Fraunce's Tavern, and a chop and a bottle of Madeira. I shall be vastly
glad of your company."

The grave young lawyer, with his hands full of troublesome-looking
papers, had little of the air of a boon companion; and, indeed, the
invitation was at once courteously declined.

"I have a case on in the Admiralty Court, Captain," he answered, "and so
my time is not my own. It belongs, I may say, to the man who has paid me
good money for it."

"Lawyer Semple?"

"Mr. Cohen, at your service, sir."

"Captain Hyde owes me one hundred guineas, with the interests, since the
fifteenth day of last December. He will not hear me when I say to him,
'Pay me my moneys;' perhaps he will listen, if you speak for me."

"If you are asking my advice in the way of business, you know my
office-door, Cohen; if in the way of friendship, I may as well say at
once, that I never name friendship and money in the same breath.
Good-day, gentlemen. I am in something of a hurry, as you may
understand." Cohen bowed low in response to the civil greeting; Captain
Hyde stared indignantly at the man who had presumed to couple one of
his Majesty's officers with a money-lender and a Jew.

"I do not wish to make you more expenses, Captain;" and Cohen, following
the impulse of his anxiety, laid his hand upon his debtor's arm. Hyde
turned in a rage, and flung off the touch with a passionate oath. Then
the Jew left him. There was neither anger nor impatience visible in his
face or movements. He cast a glance up at the City Hall, - an involuntary
appeal, perhaps, to the justice supposed to inhabit its chambers, - and
then he walked slowly toward his store and home.

[Illustration: Hyde flung off the touch with a passionate oath]

Both were under one roof, - a two-storied building in the lower part of
Pearl Street, dingy and unattractive in outward appearance, but crowded
in its interior with articles of beauty and worth, - Flemish paintings
and rich metal work, Venetian glasses and velvets, Spanish and Moorish
leather goods, silverware, watches, jewellery, etc. The window of the
large room in which all was stored was dim with cobwebs, and there was
no arrangement of the treasures. They were laid in the drawers of the
great Dutch presses and in cabinets, or packed in boxes, or hung against
the walls.

At the back of the store, there was a small sitting-room, and behind it
a kitchen, built in a yard which was carefully boarded up. A narrow
stairway near the front of the store led to the apartments above. They
were three in number. One was a kind of lumber-room; a second, Cohen's
sleeping-room; and the largest, at the back of the house, belonged to
the Jew's grandchild Miriam. There was one servant in the family, an old
woman who had come to America with Jacob. She spoke little English, and
she lived in complete seclusion in her kitchen and yard. As far as Jacob
Cohen was concerned, he preserved an Oriental reticence about the women
of his household; he never spoke of them, and he was never seen in their
company. It was seldom they went abroad; when they did so, it was early
in the morning, and usually to the small synagogue in Mill Street.

He soon recovered the calmness which had been lost during his
unsatisfactory interview with Captain Hyde. "A wise man frets not
himself for the folly of a fool;" and, having come to this decision, he
entered his house with the invocation for its peace and prosperity on
his lips. A party of three gentlemen were examining his stock: they were
Governor Clinton and his friends Colden and Belcher.

"Cohen," said Clinton, "you have many fine things here; in particular,
this Dutch cabinet, with heavy brass mountings. Send it to my residence.
And that Venetian mirror with the silver frame will match the silver
sconces you sold me at the New Year. I do not pretend to be a judge, but
these things are surely extremely handsome. Pray, sir, let us see the
Moorish leather that William Walton has reserved for his new house. I
hear you are to have the ordering of the carpets and tapestries. You
will make money, Jacob Cohen."

"Your Excellency knows best. I shall make my just profits, - no more, no

"Yes, yes; you have many ways to make profits, I hear. All do well,

"When God pleases, it rains with every wind, your Excellency."

Then there was a little stir in the street, - that peculiar sense of
something more than usual, which can make itself felt in the busiest
thoroughfare, - and Golden went to the door and looked out. Joris Van
Heemskirk was just passing, and his walk was something quicker than

"Good-day to you, Councillor. Pray, sir, what is to do at the wharf? I
perceive a great bustle comes thence."

"At your service, Councillor Golden. At the wharf there is good news.
The 'Great Christopher' has come to anchor, - Captain Batavius de Vries.
So a good-morrow, sir;" and Joris lifted his beaver, and proceeded on
his way to Murray's Wharf.

[Illustration: Batavius stood at the mainmast]

Bram was already on board. His hands were clasped across the big right
shoulder of Batavius, who stood at the mainmast, giving orders about his
cargo. He was a large man, with the indisputable air of a sailor from
strange seas, familiar with the idea of solitude, and used to absolute
authority. He loved Bram after his own fashion, but his vocabulary of
affectionate words was not a large one. Bram, however, understood him;
he had been quite satisfied with his short and undemonstrative
greeting, -

"Thee, Bram? Good! How goes it?"

The advent of Joris added a little to the enthusiasm of the meeting.
Joris thoroughly liked Batavius, and their hands slipped into each
other's with a mighty grasp almost spontaneously. After some necessary
delay, the three men left the ship together. There was quite a crowd on
the wharf. Some were attracted by curiosity; others, by the hope of a
good job on the cargo; others, again, not averse to a little private
bargaining for any curious or valuable goods the captain of the "Great
Christopher" had for sale. Cohen was among the latter; but he had too
much intelligence to interfere with a family party, especially as he
heard Joris say to the crowd with a polite authority, "Make way,
friends, make way. When a man is off a three-years' cruise, for a trifle
he should not be stopped."

Joanna had had a message from her lover, and she was watching for his
arrival. There was no secrecy in her love-affairs, and it was amid the
joy and smiles of the whole household that she met her affianced
husband. They were one of those loving, sensible couples, for whom it is
natural to predict a placid and happy life; and the first words of
Batavius seemed to assure it.

"My affairs have gone well, Joanna, as they generally do; and now I
shall build the house, and we shall be married."

Joanna laughed. "I shall just say a word or two, also, about that,

"Come, come, the word or two was said so long ago. Have you got the
pretty Chinese _kas_ I sent from the ship? and the Javanese _cabaya_,
and the sweetmeats, and the golden pins?"

"All of them I have got. Much money, Batavius, they must have cost."

"Well, well, then! There is enough left. A man does not go to the
African coast for nothing. _Katrijntje, mijn meisje_, what's the matter
now, that you never come once?"

Katherine was standing at the open window, apparently watching the
honey-bees among the locust blooms, but really perceiving something far
beyond them, - a boat on the river at the end of the garden. She could
not have told how she knew that it was there; but she saw it, saw it
through the intervening space, barred and shaded by many trees. She felt
the slow drift of the resting oars, and the fascination of an eager,
handsome face lifted to the lilac-bushes which hedged the bank. So the
question of Batavius touched very lightly her physical consciousness. A
far sweeter, a far more peremptory voice called her; but she answered, -

"There is nothing the matter, Batavius. I am well, I am happy. And now I
will go into the garden to make me a fine nosegay."

"Three times this week, into the garden you have gone to get a nosegay;
and then all about it you forget. It will be better to listen to
Batavius, I think. He will tell us of the strange countries where he has
been, and of the strange men and women."

"For you, Joanna, that will be pleasant; but" -

"For you also. To listen to Batavius is to learn something."

"Well, that is the truth. But to me all this talk is not very
interesting. I will go into the garden;" and she walked slowly out of
the door, and stopped or stooped at every flower-bed, while Joanna
watched her.

"The child is now a woman. It will be a lover next, Joanna."

"There is a lover already; but to anything he says, Katrijntje listens
not. It is at her father's knee she sits, not at the lover's."

"It will be Rem Verplanck? And what will come of it?"

"No, it is Neil Semple. To-night you will see. He comes in and talks of
the Assembly and the governor, and of many things of great moment. But
it is Katherine for all that. A girl has not been in love four years for
nothing. I can see, too, that my father looks sad, and my mother says
neither yes nor no in the matter."

"The Semples are good business managers. They are also rich, and they
approve of good morals and the true religion. Be content, Joanna. Many
roads lead to happiness beside the road we take. Now, let us talk of our
own affairs."

It was at this moment that Katherine turned to observe if she were
watched. No: Batavius and Joanna had gone away from the window, and for
a little while she would not be missed. She ran rapidly to the end of
the garden, and, parting the lilac-bushes, stood flushed and panting on
the river-bank. There was a stir of oars below her. It was precisely as
she had known it would be. Captain Hyde's pretty craft shot into sight,
and a few strokes put it at the landing-stair. In a moment he was at her
side. He took her in his arms; and, in spite of the small hands covering
her blushing face, he kissed her with passionate affection.

[Illustration: He took her in his arms]

"My darling, my charmer," he said, "how you have tortured me! By my
soul, I have been almost distracted. Pray, now let me see thy lovely
face." He lifted it in his hands and kissed it again, - kissed the rosy
cheeks, and white dropped eyelids, and red smiling mouth; vowed with
every kiss that she was the most adorable of women, and protested, "on
his honour as a soldier," that he would make her his wife, or die a
bachelor for her sake.

And who can blame a young girl if she listens and believes, when
listening and believing mean to her perfect happiness? Not women who
have ever stood, trembling with love and joy, close to the dear one's
heart. If they be gray-haired, and on the very shoal of life, they must
remember still those moments of delight, - the little lane, the fire-lit
room, the drifting boat, that is linked with them. If they be young and
lovely, and have but to say, "It was yesterday," or, "It was last week,"
still better they will understand the temptation that was too great for
Katherine to overcome.

And, as yet, nothing definite had been said to her about Neil Semple,
and the arrangement made for her future. Joris had intended every day to
tell her, and every day his heart had failed him. He felt as if the
entire acceptance of the position would be giving his little daughter
away. As long as she was not formally betrothed, she was all his own;
and Neil could not use that objectionable word "my" in regard to her.
Lysbet was still more averse to a decisive step. She had had "dreams"
and "presentiments" of unusual honour for Katherine, which she kept with
a superstitious reverence in her memory; and the girl's great beauty and
winning manners had fed this latent expectancy. But to see her the wife
of Neil Semple did not seem to be any realization of her ambitious
hopes. She had known Neil all his life; and she could not help feeling,
that, if Katherine's fortune lay with him, her loving dreams were all
illusions and doomed to disappointment.

Besides, with a natural contradiction, she was a little angry at Neil's
behaviour. He had been coming to their house constantly for a month at
least; every opportunity of speaking to Katherine on his own behalf had
been given him, and he had not spoken. He was too indifferent, or he was
too confident; and either feeling she resented. But she judged Neil
wrongly. He was an exceedingly cautious young man; and he _felt_ what
the mother could not perceive, - a certain atmosphere about the charming
girl which was a continual repression to him. In the end, he determined
to win her, win her entirely, heart and hand; therefore he did not wish
to embarrass his subsequent wooing by having to surmount at the outset
the barrier of a premature "no." And, as yet, his jealousy of Captain
Hyde was superficial and intermitting; it had not entered his mind that
an English officer could possibly be an actual rival to him. They were
all of them notoriously light of love, and the Colonial beauties treated
their homage with as light a belief; only it angered and pained him that
Katherine should suffer herself to be made the pastime of Hyde's idle

On the night of De Vries' return, there was a great gathering at Van
Heemskirk's house. No formal invitations were given, but all the friends
of the family understood that it would be so. Joris kept on his coat and
ruffles and fine cravat, Batavius wore his blue broadcloth and gilt
buttons, and Lysbet and her daughters were in their kirk dresses of silk
and camblet. It was an exquisite summer evening, and the windows
looking into the garden were all open; so also was the door; and long
before sunset the stoop was full of neighbourly men, smoking with Joris
and Batavius, and discussing Colonial and commercial affairs.

In the living-room and the best parlour their wives were
gathered, - women with finely rounded forms, very handsomely clothed, and
all busily employed in the discussion of subjects of the greatest
interest to them. For Joanna's marriage was now to be freely talked
over, - the house Batavius was going to build described, the linen and
clothing she had prepared examined, and the numerous and rich presents
her lover had brought her wondered over, and commented upon.

Conspicuous in the happy chattering company, Lysbet Van Heemskirk
bustled about, in the very whitest and stiffest of lace caps; making a
suggestion, giving an opinion, scolding a careless servant, putting out
upon the sideboard Hollands, Geneva, and other strong waters, and
ordering in from the kitchen hot chocolate and cakes of all kinds for
the women of the company. Very soon after sundown, Elder Semple and
madam his wife arrived; and the elder, as usual, made a decided stir
among the group which he joined.

"No, no, Councillor," he said, in answer to the invitation of Joris to
come outside. "No, no, I'll not risk my health, maybe my vera life, oot
on the stoop after sunset. 'Warm,' do you say? Vera warm, and all the
waur for being warm. My medical man thinks I hae a tendency to fever,
and there's four-fourths o' fever in every inch o' river mist that a
man breathes these warm nights."

"Well, then, neighbours, we'll go inside," said Joris. "Clean pipes, and
a snowball, or a glass of Holland, will not, I think, be amiss."

The movement was made among some jokes and laughter; and they gathered
near the hearthstone, where, in front of the unlit hickory logs, stood a

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 4 of 20)