tall blue jar filled with feathery branches of fennel and asparagus.
But, as the jar of Virginia was passed round, Lysbet looked at Dinorah,
and Dinorah went to the door and called, "Baltus;" and in a minute or
two a little black boy entered with some hot coals on a brass
chafing-dish, and the fire was as solemnly and silently passed round as
if it were some occult religious ceremony.
The conversation interrupted by Semples entrance was not resumed.
[Illustration: A little black boy entered]
It had been one dealing out unsparing and scornful disapproval of
Governor Clinton's financial methods, and Clinton was known to be a
personal friend of Semple's. But the elder would perhaps hardly have
appreciated the consideration, if he had divined it; for he dearly loved
an argument, and had no objections to fight for his own side
single-handed. In fact, it was so natural for him to be "in opposition,"
that he could not bear to join the general congratulation to De Vries on
his fortunate voyage.
"You were lang awa', Captain," was his opening speech. "It would tak' a
deal o' gude fortune to mak' it worth your while to knock around the
high seas for three years or mair."
"Well, look now, Elder, I didn't come home with empty hands. I have
always been apt to get into the place where gold and good bargains were
"Hum-m-m! You sailed for Rotterdam, I think?"
"That is true; from Rotterdam I went to Batavia, and then to the coast
of Africa. The African cargo took me to the West Indies. From Kingston
it was easy to St. Thomas and Surinam for cotton, and then to Cura√Іoa
for dyeing-woods and spices. The 'Great Christopher' took luck with her.
Every cargo was a good cargo."
"I'll no be certain o' that, Captain. I would hae some scruples mysel'
anent buying and selling men and women o' any colour. We hae no
quotations from the other world, and it may be the Almighty holds his
black men at as high a figure as his white men. I'm just speculating,
you ken. I hae a son - my third son, Alexander Semple, o' Boston - wha has
made money on the Africans. I hae told him, likewise, that trading in
wheat and trading in humanity may hae ethical differences; but every one
settles his ain bill, and I'll hae enough to do to secure mysel'."
Batavius was puzzled; and at the words "ethical differences," his big
brown hand was "in the hair" at once. He scratched his head and looked
doubtfully at Semple, whose face was peculiarly placid and thoughtful
"Men must work, Elder, and these blacks won't work unless they are
forced to. I, who am a baptized Christian, have to do my duty in this
life; and, as for pagans, they must be made to do it. I am myself a
great lover of morality, and that is what I think. Also, you may read in
the Scriptures, that St. Paul says that if a man will not work, neither
shall he eat."
"St. Paul dootless kent a' about the question o' forced labour, seeing
that he lived when baith white and black men were sold for a price.
However, siller in the hand answers a' questions and the dominie made a
vera true observe one Sabbath, when he said that the Almighty so ordered
things in this warld that orthodoxy and good living led to wealth and
"That is the truth," answered Justice Van Gaasbeeck; "Holland is Holland
because she has the true faith. You may see that in France there is
anarchy and bloodshed and great poverty; that is because they are Roman
It was at this moment that Katherine came and stood behind her father's
chair. She let her hand fall down over his shoulder, and he raised his
own to clasp it. "What is it, then, _mijn Katrijntje kleintje_?"
"It is to dance. Mother says 'yes' if thou art willing."
"Then I say 'yes,' also."
For a moment she laid her cheek against his; and the happy tears came
into his eyes, and he stroked her face, and half-reluctantly let
Batavius lead her away. For, at the first mention of a dance, Batavius
had risen and put down his pipe; and in a few minutes he was
triumphantly guiding Joanna in a kind of mazy waltzing movement, full of
spirit and grace.
At that day there were but few families of any wealth who did not own
one black man who could play well upon the violin. Joris possessed two;
and they were both on hand, putting their own gay spirits into the
fiddle and the bow. And oh, how happy were the beating feet and the
beating hearts that went to the stirring strains! It was joy and love
and youth in melodious motion. The old looked on with gleaming,
sympathetic eyes; the young forgot that they were mortal.
Then there was a short pause; and the ladies sipped chocolate, and the
gentlemen sipped something a little stronger, and a merry ripple of
conversation and of hearty laughter ran with the clink of glass and
china, and the scraping of the fiddle-bows.
"Miss Katern Van Heemskirk and Mr. Neil Semple will now hab de honour of
'bliging de company wid de French minuet."
At this announcement, made by the first negro violin, there was a sudden
silence; and Neil rose, and with a low bow offered the tips of his
fingers to the beautiful girl, who rose blushing to take them. The elder
deliberately turned his chair around, in order to watch the movement
comfortably; and there was an inexpressible smile of satisfaction on his
face as his eyes followed the young people. Neil's dark, stately beauty
was well set off by his black velvet suit and powdered hair and gold
buckles. And no lovelier contrast could have faced him than Katherine
Van Heemskirk; so delicately fresh, so radiantly fair, she looked in her
light-blue robe and white lace stomacher, with a pink rose at her
breast. There were shining amber beads around her white throat, and a
large amber comb fastened her pale brown hair. A gilded Indian fan was
in her hand, and she used it with all the pretty airs she had so aptly
copied from Mrs. Gordon.
Neil had a natural majesty in his carriage; Katherine supplemented it
with a natural grace, and with certain courtly movements which made the
little Dutch girls, who had never seen Mrs. Gordon practising them,
admire and wonder. As she was in the very act of making Neil a profound
courtesy, the door opened, and Mrs. Gordon and Captain Hyde entered. The
latter took in the exquisite picture in a moment; and there was a fire
of jealousy in his heart when he saw Neil lead his partner to her seat,
and with the deepest respect kiss her pretty fingers ere he resigned
But he was compelled to control himself, as he was ceremoniously
introduced to Councillor and Madam Van Heemskirk by his aunt, who, with
a charming effusiveness, declared "she was very uneasy to intrude so
far; but, in faith, Councillor," she pleaded, "I am but a woman, and I
find the news of a wedding beyond my nature to resist."
There was something so frank and persuasive about the elegant stranger,
that Joris could not refuse the courtesy she asked for herself and her
nephew. And, having yielded, he yielded with entire truth and
confidence. He gave his hand to his visitors, and made them heartily
welcome to join in his household rejoicing. True, Mrs. Gordon's
persuasive words were ably seconded by causes which she had probably
calculated. The elder and Madam Semple were present, and it would have
been impossible for Joris to treat their friends rudely. Bram was also
another conciliating element, for Captain Hyde was on pleasant speaking
terms with him; and, as yet, even Neil's relations were at least those
of presumed friendship. Also, the Van Gaasbeeks and others present were
well inclined to make the acquaintance of a woman so agreeable, and an
officer so exceptionally handsome and genteel. Besides which, Joris was
himself in a happy and genial mood; he had opened his house and his
heart to his friends; and he did not feel at that hour as if he could
doubt any human being, or close his door against even the stranger and
the alien who wished to rejoice with him.
Elder Semple was greatly pleased at his friend's complaisance. He gave
Joris full credit for his victory over his national prejudices, and he
did his very best to make the concession a pleasant event. In this
effort, he was greatly assisted by Mrs. Gordon; she set herself to
charm Van Heemskirk, as she had set herself to charm Madam Van Heemskirk
on her previous visit; and she succeeded so well, that, when "Sir Roger
de Coverley" was called, Joris rose, offered her his hand, and, to the
delight of every one present, led the dance with her.
It was a little triumph for the elder; and he sat smiling, and twirling
his fingers, and thoroughly enjoying the event. Indeed, he was so
interested in listening to the clever way in which "the bonnie woman
flattered Van Heemskirk," that he was quite oblivious of the gathering
wrath in his son's face, and the watchful gloom in Bram's eyes, as the
two men stood together, jealously observant of Captain Hyde's attentions
to Katherine. Without any words spoken on the subject, there was an
understood compact between them to guard the girl from any private
conversation with him; and yet two men with hearts full of suspicion and
jealousy were not a match for one man with a heart full of love. In a
moment, in the interchange of their hands in a dance, Katherine clasped
tightly a little note, and unobserved hid it behind the rose at her
But nothing is a wonder in love, or else it would have been amazing that
Joanna did not notice the rose absent from her sister's dress after
Captain Hyde's departure; nor yet that Katherine, ere she went to rest
that night, kissed fervently a tiny bit of paper which she hid within
the silver clasps of her Kirk Bible. The loving girl thought it no wrong
to put it there; she even hoped that some kind of blessing or sanction
might come through such sacred keeping; and she went to sleep
whispering to herself, - "_Happy I am. Me he loves; me he loves; me only
he loves; me forever he loves_!"
[Illustration: Chapter heading]
"_All pleasure must be bought at the price of pain. The true pay the
price before they enjoy it; the false, after they enjoy it_."
"My dear Dick, I am exceedingly concerned to find you in such a
taking, - a soldier who has known some of the finest women of the day,
moping about a Dutch school-girl! Pshaw! Don't be a fool! I had a much
better opinion of you."
"'Tis a kind of folly that runs in the family, aunt. I have heard that
you preferred Colonel Gordon to a duke."
"Now, sir, you are ill-natured. Dukes are not uncommon: a man of sense
and sensibility is a treasure. Make me grateful that I secured one."
"Lend me your wit, then, for the same consummation. I assure you that I
consider Katherine Van Heemskirk a treasure past belief. Confess, now,
that she was the loveliest of creatures last night."
"She has truly a fine complexion, and she dances with all the elegance
imaginable. I know, too, that she sings to perfection, and has most
agreeable and obliging manners."
"And a heart which abounds in every tender feeling."
"Oh, indeed, sir! I was not aware that you knew her so well."
"I know that I love her beyond everything, and that I am likely so to
love her all my life."
"Upon my word, Dick, love may live an age - if you don't marry it."
"Let me make you understand that I wish to marry it."
"Oh, indeed, sir! Then the church door stands open. Go in. I suppose the
lady will oblige you so far."
"Pray, my dear aunt, talk sensibly. Give me your advice; you know
already that I value it. What is the first step to be taken?"
"Go and talk with her father. I assure you, no real progress can be made
without it. The girl you think worth asking for; but it is very
necessary for you to know what fortune goes with her beauty."
"If her father refuse to give her to me" -
"That is not to be thought of. I have seen that some of the best of
these Dutch families are very willing to be friendly with us. You come
of a noble race. You wear your sword with honour. You are not far from
the heritage of a great title and estate. If you ask for her fortune,
you offer far above its equivalent, sir."
"I have heard Mr. Neil Semple say that Van Heemskirk is a great stickler
for trade, and that he hates every man who wears a sword."
"You have heard more than you need listen to. I talked to the man an
hour last night. He is as honest as a looking-glass, and I read him all
through with the greatest ease. I am sure that he has a heart very
tender, and devoid of anger or prejudice of any kind."
"That is to be seen. I have discovered already that men who can be very
gentle can also be very rough. But this suspense is intolerable, and not
to be borne. I will go and end it. Pray, what is the hour?"
"It is about three o'clock; a very suitable hour, I think."
"Then give me your good wishes."
"I shall be impatient to hear the result."
"In an hour or two."
"Oh, sir, I am not so foolish as to expect you in an hour or two! When
you have spoken with the father, you will doubtless go home with him and
drink a dish of tea with your divinity. I can imagine your unreasonable
felicity, Dick, - seas of milk, and ships of amber, and all sails set for
the desired haven! I know it all, so I hope you will spare me every
detail, - except, indeed, such as relate to pounds, shillings, and
It was a very hot afternoon; and Van Heemskirk's store, though open to
the river-breezes, was not by any means a cool or pleasant place. Bram
was just within the doors, marking "Boston" on a number of
flour-barrels, which were being rapidly transferred to a vessel lying at
the wharf. He was absorbed and hurried in the matter, and received the
visitor with rather a cool courtesy; but whether the coolness was of
intention or preoccupation, Captain Hyde did not perceive it. He asked
for Councillor Van Heemskirk, and was taken to his office, a small room,
intensely warm and sunny at that hour of the day.
"Your servant, Captain."
"Yours, most sincerely, Councillor. It is a hot day."
"That is so. We come near to midsummer. Is there anything I can oblige
you in, sir?"
Joris asked the question because the manner of the young man struck him
as uneasy and constrained; and he thought, "Perhaps he has come to
borrow money." It was notorious that his Majesty's officers gambled, and
were often in very great need of it; and, although Joris had not any
intention of risking his gold, he thought it as well to bring out the
question, and have the refusal understood before unnecessary politeness
made it more difficult. He was not, therefore, astonished when Captain
Hyde answered, -
"Sir, you can indeed oblige me, and that in a matter of the greatest
"If money it be, Captain, at once I may tell you, that I borrow not, and
I lend not."
"Sir, it is not money - in particular."
"It is your daughter Katherine."
Then Joris stood up, and looked steadily at the suitor. His large,
amiable face had become in a moment hard and stern; and the light in his
eyes was like the cold, sharp light that falls from drawn steel.
"My daughter is not for you to name. Sir, it is a wrong to her, if you
speak her name."
"By my honour, it is not! Though I come of as good family as any in
England, and may not unreasonably hope to inherit its earldom, I do
assure you, sir, I sue as humbly for your daughter's hand as if she were
"Your family! Talk not of it. King nor kaiser do I count better men than
my own fore-goers. Like to like, that is what I say. Your wife seek,
Captain, among your own women."
"I protest that I love your daughter. I wish above all things to make
her my wife."
"Many things men desire, that they come not near to. My daughter is to
another man promised."
"Look you, Councillor, that would be monstrous. Your daughter loves me."
Joris turned white to the lips. "It is not the truth," he answered in a
slow, husky voice.
"By the sun in heaven, it is the truth! Ask her."
"Then a great scoundrel are you, unfit with honest men to talk. Ho! Yes,
your sword pull from its scabbard. Strike. To the heart strike me. Less
wicked would be the deed than the thing you have done."
"In faith, sir, 'tis no crime to win a woman's love."
"No crime it would be to take the guilders from my purse, if my consent
was to it. But into my house to come, and while warm was yet my welcome,
with my bread and wine in your lips, to take my gold, a shame and a
crime would be. My daughter than gold is far more precious."
There was something very impressive in the angry sorrow of Joris. It
partook of his own magnitude. Standing in front of him, it was
impossible for Captain Hyde not to be sensible of the difference between
his own slight, nervous frame, and the fair, strong massiveness of Van
Heemskirk; and, in a dim way, he comprehended that this physical
difference was only the outward and visible sign of a mental and moral
one quite as positive and unchangeable.
Yet he persevered in his solicitation. With a slight impatience of
manner he said, "Do but hear me, sir. I have done nothing contrary to
the custom of people in my condition, and I assure you that with all my
soul I love your daughter."
"Love! So talk you. You see a girl beautiful, sweet, and innocent. Your
heart, greedy and covetous, wants her as it has wanted, doubtless, many
others. For yourself only you seek her. And what is it you ask then!
That _she_ should give up for you her father, mother, home, her own
faith, her own people, her own country, - the poor little one! - for a
cold, cheerless land among strangers, alone in the sorrows and pains
that to all women come. Love! In God's name, what know you of love?"
"No man can love her better."
"What say you? How, then, do I love her? I who carried her - _mijn witte
lammetje_ - in these arms before yet she could say to me, 'Fader'!" His
wrath had been steadily growing, in spite of the mist in his eyes and
the tenderness in his voice; and suddenly striking the desk a ponderous
blow with his closed hand, he said with an unmistakable passion, "My
daughter you shall not have. God in heaven to himself take her ere such
sorrow come to her and me!"
[Illustration: "Sir, you are very uncivil"]
"Sir, you are very uncivil; but I am thankful to know so much of your
mind. And, to be plain with you, I am determined to marry your daughter
if I can compass the matter in any way. It is now, then, open war
between us; and so, sir, your servant."
"Stay. To me listen. Not one guilder will I give to my daughter, if" -
"To the devil with your guilders! Dirty money made in dirty traffic" -
"Sir, you take an infamous advantage. You know, that, being Katherine's
father, I will not challenge you."
"_Christus!_!" roared Joris, "challenge me one hundred times. A fool I
would be to answer you. Life my God gave to me. Well, then, only my God
shall from me take it. See you these arms and hands? In them you will be
as the child of one year. Ere beyond my reason you move me, _go_!" and
he strode to the door and flung it open with a passion that made every
one in the store straighten themselves, and look curiously toward the
White with rage, and with his hand upon his sword-hilt, Captain Hyde
stamped his way through the crowded store to the dusty street. Then it
struck him that he had not asked the name of the man to whom Katharine
was promised. He swore at himself for the omission. Whether he knew him
or not, he was determined to fight him. In the meantime, the most
practical revenge was to try and see Katherine before her father had the
opportunity to give her any orders regarding him. Just then he met Neil
Semple, and he stopped and asked him the time.
"It will be the half hour after four, Captain. I am going home; shall I
have your company, sir?"
"I have not much leisure to-night. Make a thousand regrets to Madam
Semple and my aunt for me."
Neil's calm, complacent gravity was unendurable. He turned from him
abruptly, and, muttering passionate exclamations, went to the river-bank
for a boat. Often he had seen Katherine between five and six o'clock at
the foot of the Van Heemskirk garden; for it was then possible for her
to slip away while madam was busy about her house, and Joanna and
Batavius talking over their own affairs. And this evening he felt that
the very intensity of his desire must surely bring her to their
trysting-place behind the lilac hedge.
Whether he was right or wrong, he did not consider; for he was not one
of those potent men who have themselves in their own power. Nor had it
ever entered his mind that "love's strength standeth in love's
sacrifice," or that the only love worthy of the name refuses to blend
with anything that is low or vindictive or clandestine. And, even if he
had not loved Katherine, he would now have been determined to marry her.
Never before in all his life had he found an object so engrossing. Pride
and revenge were added to love, as motives; but who will say that love
was purer or stronger or sweeter for them?
In the meantime Joris was suffering as only such deep natures can
suffer. There are domestic fatalities which the wisest and tenderest of
parents seem impotent to contend with. Joris had certainly been alarmed
by Semple's warning; but in forbidding his daughter to visit Mrs.
Gordon, and in permitting the suit of Neil Semple, he thought he had
assured her safety. Through all the past weeks, he had seen no shadow on
her face. The fear had died out, and the hope had been slowly growing;
so that Captain Hyde's proposal, and his positive assertion that
Katherine loved him, had fallen upon the father's heart with the force
of a blow, and the terror of a shock. And the sting of the sorrow was
this, - that his child had deceived him. Certainly she had not spoken
false words, but truth can be outraged by silence quite as cruelly as by
After Hyde's departure, he shut the door of his office, walked to the
window, and stood there some minutes, clasping and unclasping his large
hands, like a man full of grief and perplexity. Ere long he remembered
his friend Semple. This trouble concerned him also, for Captain Hyde was
in a manner his guest; and, if he were informed of the marriage arranged
between Katherine and Neil Semple, he would doubtless feel himself bound
in honour to retire. Elder Semple had opened his house to Colonel
Gordon, his wife and nephew. For months they had lived in comfort under
his roof, and been made heartily welcome to the best of all he
possessed. Joris put himself in Hyde's place; and he was certain, that,
under the same circumstances, he would feel it disgraceful to interfere
with the love-affairs of his host's son.
He found Semple with his hat in his hand, giving his last orders before
leaving business for the day; but when Joris said, "There is trouble,
and your advice I want," he returned with him to the back of the store,
where, through half-opened shutters, the sunshine and the river-breeze
stole into an atmosphere laden with the aromas of tea and coffee and
West Indian produce.
In a few short, strong sentences, Joris put the case before Semple. The
latter stroked his right knee thoughtfully, and listened. But his first
words were not very comforting: "I must say, that it is maistly your own
fault, Joris. You hae given Neil but a half welcome, and you should hae
made a' things plain and positive to Katherine. Such skimble-skamble,
yea and nay kind o' ways willna do wi' women. Why didna you say to her,
out and out, 'I hae promised you to Neil Semple, my lassie. He'll mak'
you the best o' husbands; you'll marry him at the New Year, and you'll
get gold and plenishing and a' things suitable'?"
"So young she is yet, Elder."
"She has been o'er auld for you, Joris. Young! My certie! When girls are
auld enough for a lover, they are a match for any gray head. I'm a
thankfu' man that I wasna put in charge o' any o' them. You and your
household will hae to keep your e'en weel open, or there will be a
wedding to which nane o' us will get an invite. But there is little
good in mair words. Hame is the place we are baith needed in. I shall
hae to speak my mind to Neil, and likewise to Colonel Gordon; and you
canna put off your duty to your daughter an hour longer. Dear me! To
think, Joris, o' a man being able to sit wi' the councillors o' the
nation, and yet no match for a lassie o' seventeen!"
There are men who can talk their troubles away: Joris was not one of
them. He was silent when in sorrow or perplexity; silent, and ever