Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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looking around for something to _do_ in the matter. As they walked
homewards, the elder talked, and Joris pondered, not what was said, but
the thoughts and purposes that were slowly forming in his own mind. He
was later than usual, and the tea and the cakes had passed their prime
condition; but, when Lysbet saw the trouble in his eyes, she thought
them not worth mentioning. Joanna and Batavius were discussing their new
house then building on the East River bank, and they had forgotten all
else. But Katherine fretted about her father's delay, and it was at her
Joris first looked. The veil had now been taken from his eyes; and he
noticed her pretty dress, her restless glances at the clock, her
ill-concealed impatience at the slow movement of the evening meal.

When it was over, Joanna and Batavius went out to walk, and Madame Van
Heemskirk rose to put away her silver and china. "So warm as it is!"
said Katherine. "Into the garden I am going, mother."

"Well, then, there are currants to pull. The dish take with you."

Joris rose then, and laying his hand on Katherine's shoulder said,
"There is something to talk about. Sit down, Lysbet; the door shut
close, and listen to me."

It was impossible to mistake the stern purpose on her husband's face,
and Lysbet silently obeyed the order.

"Katherine, Katrijntje, _mijn kind_, this afternoon there comes to the
store the young man, Captain Hyde. To thy father he said many ill words.
To him thou shalt never speak again. Thy promise give to me."

She sat silent, with dropped eyes, and cheeks as red as the pomegranate
flower at her breast.

"_Mijn kind_, speak to me."

"_O wee, O wee!_"

"_Mijn kind_, speak to me."

Weeping bitterly, she rose and went to her mother, and laid her head
upon Lysbet's shoulder.

"Look now, Joris. One must know the 'why' and the 'wherefore.' What mean
you? _Whish, mijn kindje_!"

"This I mean, Lysbet. No more meetings with the Englishman will I have.
No love secrets will I bear. Danger is with them; yes, and sin too."

"Joris, if he has spoken to you, then where is the secret?"

"Too late he spoke. When worked was his own selfish way, to tell me of
his triumph he comes. It is a shameful wrong. Forgive it? No, I will
not, - never!"

No one answered him; only Katherine's low weeping broke the silence,
and for a few moments Joris paced the room sorrowful and amazed. Then he
looked at Lysbet, and she rose and gave her place to him. He put his
arms around his darling, and kissed her fondly.

[Illustration: "Listen to me, thy father!"]

"_Mijn kindje_, listen to me thy father. It is for thy happy life here,
it is for thy eternal life, I speak to thee. This man for whom thou art
now weeping is not good for thee. He is not of thy faith, he is a
Lutheran; not of thy people, he is an Englishman; not of thy station, he
talks of his nobility; a gambler also, a man of fashion, of loose talk,
of principles still more loose. If with the hawk a singing-bird might
mate happily, then this English soldier thou might safely marry. _Mijn
beste kindje_, do I love thee?"

"My father!"

"Do I love thee?"

"Yes, yes."

"Dost thou, then, love me?"

She put her arms round his neck, and laid her cheek against his, and
kissed him many times.

"Wilt thou go away and leave me, and leave thy mother, in our old age?
My heart thou would break. My gray hairs to the grave would go in
sorrow. Katrijntje, my dear, dear child, what for me, and for thy
mother, wilt thou do?"

"Thy wish - if I can."

Then he told her of the provision made for her future. He reminded her
of Neil's long affection, and of her satisfaction with it until Hyde had
wooed her from her love and her duty. And, remembering the elder's
reproach on his want of explicitness, he added, "To-morrow, about thy
own house, I will take the first step. Near my house it shall be; and
when I walk in my garden, in thy garden I will see thee, and only a
little fence shall be between us. And at the feast of St. Nicholas thou
shalt be married; for then thy sisters will be here, thy sisters Anna
and Cornelia. And money, plenty of money, I will give thee; and all that
is proper thy mother and thee shall buy. But no more, no more at all,
shalt thou see or speak to that bad man who has so beguiled thee."

At this remark Katherine sadly shook her head; and Lysbet's face so
plainly expressed caution, that Joris somewhat modified his last order,
"That is, little one, no more until the feast of St. Nicholas. Then thou
wilt be married and then it is good, if it is safe, to forgive all
wrongs, and to begin again with all the world in peace and good living.
Wilt thou these things promise me? me and thy mother?"

"Richard I must see once more. That is what I ask."

"_Richard!_ So far is it?"

She did not answer; and Joris rose, and looked at the girl's mother
inquiringly. Her face expressed assent; and he said reluctantly, "Well,
then, I will as easy make it as I can. Once more, and for one hour, thou
may see him. But I lay it on thee to tell him the truth, for this and
for all other time."

"_Now_ may I go? He is a-nigh. His boat I hear at the landing;" and she
stood up, intent, listening, with her fair head lifted, and her wet eyes
fixed on the distance.

"Well, be it so. Go."

With the words she slipped from the room; and Joris called Baltus to
bring him some hot coals, and began to fill his pipe. As he did so, he
watched Lysbet with some anxiety. She had offered him no sympathy, she
evinced no disposition to continue the conversation; and, though she
kept her face from him, he understood that all her movements expressed a
rebellious temper. In and out of the room she passed, very busy about
her own affairs, and apparently indifferent to his anxiety and sorrow.

At first Joris felt some natural anger at her attitude; but, as the
Virginia calmed and soothed him, he remembered that he had told her
nothing of his interview with Hyde, and that she might be feeling and
reasoning from a different standpoint from himself. Then the sweetness
of his nature was at once in the ascendant, and he said, "Lysbet, come
then, and talk with me about the child."

She turned the keys in her press slowly, and stood by it with them in
her hand. "What has been told thee, Joris, to-day? And who has spoken?
Tongues evil and envious, I am sure of that."

"Thou art wrong. The young man to me spoke himself. He said, 'I love
your daughter. I want to marry her.'"

"Well, then, he did no wrong. And as for Katrijntje, it is in nature
that a young girl should want a lover. It is in nature she should choose
the one she likes best. That is what I say."

"That is what I say, Lysbet. It is in nature, also, that we want too
much food and wine, too much sleep, too much pleasure, too little work.
It is in nature that our own way we want. It is in nature that the good
we hate, and the sin we love. My Lysbet, to us God gives his own good
grace, that the things that are in nature we might put below the reason
and the will."

"So hard that is, Joris."

"No, it is not; so far thou hast done the right way. When Katherine was
a babe, it was in nature that with the fire she wanted to make play. But
thou said, 'There is danger, my precious one;' and in thy arms thou
carried her out of the temptation. When older she grew, it was in nature
she said, 'I like not the school, and my Heidelberg is hard, and I
cannot learn it.' But thou answered, 'For thy good is the school, and go
thou every day; and for thy salvation is thy catechism, and I will see
that thou learn it well.' Now, then, it is in nature the child should
want this handsome stranger; but with me thou wilt certainly say, 'He is
not fit for thy happiness; he has not the true faith, he gambles, he
fights duels, he is a waster, he lives badly, he will take thee far from
thy own people and thy own home.'"

"Can the man help that he was born an Englishman and a Lutheran?"

"They have their own women. Look now, from the beginning it has been
like to like. Thou may see in the Holy Scriptures that, after Esau
married the Hittite woman, he sold his birthright, and became a wanderer
and a vagabond. And it is said that it was a 'grief of mind unto Isaac
and Rebekah.' I am sorry this day for Isaac and Rebekah. The heart of
the father is the same always."

"And the heart of the mother, also, Joris." She drew close to him, and
laid her arm across his broad shoulders; and he took his pipe from his
lips and turned his face to her. "Kind and wise art thou, my husband;
and whatever is thy wish, that is my wish too."

"A good woman thou art. And what pleasure would it be to thee if
Katherine was a countess, and went to the court, and bowed down to the
king and the queen? Thou would not see it; and, if thou spoke of it, thy
neighbours they would hate thee, and mock thee behind thy back, and say,
'How proud is Lysbet Van Heemskirk of her noble son-in-law that comes
never once to see her!' And dost thou believe he is an earl? Not I."

"That is where the mother's love is best, Joris. What my neighbours said
would be little care to me, if my Katherine was well and was happy. With
her sorrow would I buy my own pleasure? No; I would not so selfish be."

"Would I, Lysbet? Right am I, and I know I am right. And I think that
Neil Semple will be a very great person. Already, as a man of affairs,
he is much spoken of. He is handsome and of good morality. The elders
in the kirk look to such young men as Neil to fill their places when
they are no more in them. On the judge's bench he will sit down yet."

"A good young man he may be, but he is a very bad lover; that is the
truth. If a little less wise he could only be! A young girl likes some
foolish talk. It is what women understand. Little fond words, very
strong they are! Thou thyself said them to me."

"That is right. To Neil I will talk a little. A man must seek a good
wife with more heart than he seeks gold. Yes, yes; her price above
rubies is."

At the very moment Joris made this remark, the elder was speaking for
him. When he arrived at home, he found that his wife was out making
calls with Mrs. Gordon, so he had not the relief of a marital
conversation. He took his solitary tea, and fell into a nap, from which
he awoke in a querulous, uneasy temper. Neil was walking about the
terrace, and he joined him.

[Illustration: He took his solitary tea]

"You are stepping in a vera majestic way, Neil; what's in your thoughts,
I wonder?"

"I have a speech to make to-morrow, sir. My thoughts were on the law,
which has a certain majesty of its own."

"You'd better be thinking o' a speech you ought to make to-night, if you
care at a' aboot saving yoursel' wi' Katherine Van Heemskirk; and ma
certie it will be an extraordinar' case that is worth mair, even in the
way o' siller, than she is."

The elder was not in the habit of making unmeaning speeches, and Neil
was instantly alarmed. In his own way, he loved Katherine with all his
soul. "Yes," continued the old man, "you hae a rival, sir. Captain Hyde
asked Van Heemskirk for his daughter this afternoon, and an earldom in
prospect isna a poor bait."

"What a black scoundrel he must be! - to use your hospitality to steal
from your son the woman he loves."

"Tak' your time, Neil, and you won't lose your judgment. How was he to
ken that Katherine was your sweetheart? You made little o' the lassie,
vera little, I may say. Lawyer-like you may be, but nane could call you
lover-like. And while he and his are my guests, and in my house, I'll no
hae you fighting him. Tak' a word o' advice now, - I'll gie it without a
fee, - you are fond enough to plead for others, go and plead an hour for
yoursel'. Certie! When I was your age, I was aye noted for my persuading
way. Your father, sir, never left a spare corner for a rival. And I can
tell you this: a woman isna to be counted your ain, until you hae her
inside a wedding-ring."

"What did the councillor say?"

"To tell the truth, he said 'no,' a vera plain 'no,' too. You ken Van
Heemskirk's 'no' isn't a shilly-shallying kind o' a negative; but for a'
that, if I hae any skill in judging men, Richard Hyde isna one o' the
kind that tak's 'no' from either man or woman."

Neil was intensely angry, and his dark eyes glowed beneath their
dropped lids with a passionate hate. But he left his father with an
assumed coldness and calmness which made him mutter as he watched Neil
down the road, "I needna hae fashed mysel' to warn him against fighting.
He's a prudent lad. It's no right to fight, and it would be a matter for
a kirk session likewise; but _Bruce and Wallace_! was there ever a
Semple, before Neil, that keepit his hand off his weapon when his love
or his right was touched? And there's his mother out the night, of all
the nights in the year, and me wanting a word o' advice sae bad; not
that Janet has o'er much good sense, but whiles she can make an obsarve
that sets my ain wisdom in a right line o' thought. I wish to patience
she'd bide at home. She never kens when I may be needing her. And, now I
came to think o' things, it will be the warst o' all bad hours for Neil
to seek Katherine the night. She'll be fretting, and the mother pouting,
and the councillor in ane o' his particular Dutch touch-me-not tempers.
I do hope the lad will hae the uncommon sense to let folks cool, and
come to theirsel's a wee."

For the elder, judging his son by the impetuosity of his own youthful
temper, expected him to go directly to Van Heemskirk's house. But there
were qualities in Neil which his father forgot to take into
consideration, and their influence was to suggest to the young man how
inappropriate a visit to Katherine would be at that time. Indeed, he did
not much desire it. He was very angry with Katherine. He was sure that
she understood his entire devotion to her. He could not see any
necessity to set it forth as particularly as a legal contract, in
certain set phrases and with conventional ceremonies.

[Illustration: On the steps of the houses]

But his father's sarcastic advice annoyed him, and he wanted time to
fully consider his ways. He was no physical coward; he was a fine
swordsman, and he felt that it would be a real joy to stand with a drawn
rapier between himself and his rival. But what if revenge cost him too
much? What if he slew Hyde, and had to leave his love and his home, and
his fine business prospects? To win Katherine and to marry her, in the
face of the man whom he felt that he detested, would not that be the
best of all "satisfactions"?

He walked about the streets, discussing these points with himself, till
the shops all closed, and on the stoops of the houses in Maiden Lane and
Liberty Street there were merry parties of gossiping belles and beaux.
Then he returned to Broadway. Half a dozen gentlemen were standing
before the King's Arms Tavern, discussing some governmental statement in
the "Weekly Mercury;" but though they asked him to stop, and enlighten
them on some legal point, he excused himself for that night, and went
toward Van Heemskirk's. He had suddenly resolved upon a visit. Why
should he put off until the morrow what he might begin that night?

Still debating with himself, he came to a narrow road which ran to the
river, along the southern side of Van Heemskirk's house. It was only a
trodden path used by fishermen, and made by usage through the unenclosed
ground. But coming swiftly up it, as if to detain him, was Captain Hyde.
The two men looked at each other defiantly; and Neil said with a cold,
meaning emphasis, -

"At your service, sir."

"Mr. Semple, at your service," - and touching his sword, - "to the very
hilt, sir."

"Sir, yours to the same extremity."

"As for the cause, Mr. Semple, here it is;" and he pushed aside his
embroidered coat in order to exhibit to Neil the bow of orange ribbon
beneath it.

"I will die it crimson in your blood," said Neil, passionately.

"In the meantime, I have the felicity of wearing it;" and with an
offensively deep salute, he terminated the interview.

[Illustration: Tail-piece]

[Illustration: Chapter heading]


"_Love and a crown no rivalship can bear.
Love, love! Thou sternly dost thy power maintain,
And wilt not bear a rival in thy reign_."

Neil's first emotion was not so much one of anger as of exultation. The
civilization of the Semples was scarce a century old; and behind them
were generations of fierce men, whose hands had been on their dirks for
a word or a look. "I shall have him at my sword's point;" that was what
he kept saying to himself as he turned from Hyde to Van Heemskirk's
house. The front-door stood open; and he walked through it to the
back-stoop, where Joris was smoking.

Katherine sat upon the steps of the stoop. Her head was in her hand, her
eyes red with weeping, her whole attitude one of desponding sorrow. But,
at this hour, Neil was indifferent to adverse circumstances. He was
moving in that exultation of spirit which may be simulated by the first
rapture of good wine, but which is only genuine when the soul takes
entire possession of the man, and makes him for some rare, short
interval lord of himself, and contemptuous of all fears and doubts and
difficulties. He never noticed that Joris was less kind than usual; but
touching Katherine, to arouse her attention, said, "Come with me down
the garden, my love."

She looked at him wonderingly. His words and manner were strange and
potent; and, although she had just been assuring herself that she would
resist his advances on every occasion, she rose at his request and gave
him her hand.

Then the tender thoughts which had lain so deep in his heart flew to his
lips, and he wooed her with a fervour and nobility as astonishing to
himself as to Katherine. He reminded her of all the sweet intercourse of
their happy lives, and of the fidelity with which he had loved her.
"When I was a lad ten years old, and saw you first in your mother's
arms, I called you then 'my little wife.' Oh, my Katherine, my sweet
Katherine! Who is there that can take you from me?"

"Neil, like a brother to me you have been. Like a dear brother, I love
you. But your wife to be! That is not the same. Ask me not that."

"Only that can satisfy me, Katherine. Do you think I will ever give you
up? Not while I live."

"No one will I marry. With my father and my mother I will stay."

"Yes, till you learn to love me as I love you, with the whole soul." He
drew her close to his side, and bent tenderly to her face.

"No, you shall not kiss me, Neil, - never again. No right have you,

"You are to be my wife, Katherine?"

"That I have not said."

She drew herself from his embrace, and stood leaning against an
elm-tree, watchful of Neil, full of wonder at the sudden warmth of his
love, and half fearful of his influence over her.

"But you have known it, Katherine, ay, for many a year. No words could
make the troth-plight truer. From this hour, mine and only mine."

"Such things you shall not say."

"I will say them before all the world. Katherine, is it true that an
English soldier is wearing a bow of your ribbon? You must tell me."

"What mean you?"

"I will make my meaning plain. Is Captain Hyde wearing a bow of your
orange ribbon?"

"Can I tell?"

"Yes. Do not lie to me."

"A lie I would not speak."

"Did you give him one? an orange one?"

"Yes. A bow of my St. Nicholas ribbon I gave him."


"Me he loves, and him I love."

"And he wears it at his breast?"

"On his breast I have seen it. Neil, do not quarrel with him. Do not
look so angry. I fear you. My fault it is; all my fault, Neil. Only to
please me he wears it."

"You have more St. Nicholas ribbons?"

"That is so."

"Go and get me one. Get a bow, Katherine, and give it to me. I will
wait here for it."

"No, that I will not do. How false, how wicked I would be, if two lovers
my colours wore!"

"Katherine, I am in great earnest. A bow of that ribbon I must have. Get
one for me."

"My hands I would cut off first."

"Well, then, I will cut _my bow_ from Hyde's breast. I will, though I
cut his heart out with it."

He turned from her as he said the words, and, without speaking to Joris,
passed through the garden-gate to his own home. His mother and Mrs.
Gordon, and several young ladies and gentlemen were sitting on the
stoop, arranging for a turtle feast on the East River; and Neil's advent
was hailed with ejaculations of pleasure. He affected to listen for a
few minutes, and then excused himself upon the "assurance of having some
very important writing to attend to." But, as he passed the parlour
door, his father called him. The elder was casting up some kirk
accounts; but, as Neil answered the summons, he carefully put the
extinguisher on one candle, and turned his chair from the table in a way
which Neil understood as an invitation for his company.

[Illustration: "Katherine, I am in great earnest"]

A moment's reflection convinced Neil that it was his wisest plan to
accede. It was of the utmost importance that his father should be kept
absolutely ignorant of his quarrel with Hyde; for Neil was certain that,
if he suspected their intention to fight, he would invoke the aid of the
law to preserve peace, and such a course would infallibly subject him to
suspicions which would be worse than death to his proud spirit.

"Weel, Neil, my dear lad, you are early hame. Where were you the night?"

"I have just left Katherine, sir, having followed your advice in my
wooing. I wish I had done so earlier."

"Ay, ay; when a man is seventy years auld, he has read the book o' life,
'specially the chapter anent women, and he kens a' about them. A bonnie
lass expects to hae a kind o' worship; but the service is na unpleasant,
quite the contrary. Did you see Captain Hyde?"

"We met near Broadway, and exchanged civilities."

"A gude thing to exchange. When Gordon gets back frae Albany, I'll hae a
talk wi' him, and I'll get the captain sent there. In Albany there are
bonnie lasses and rich lasses in plenty for him to try his enchantments
on. There was talk o' sending him there months syne; it will be done ere
long, or my name isna Alexander Semple."

"I see you are casting up the kirk accounts. Can I help you, father?"

"I hae everything ready for the consistory. Neil, what is the gude o' us
speaking o' this and that, and thinking that we are deceiving each
other? I am vera anxious anent affairs between Captain Hyde and
yoursel'; and I'm 'feard you'll be coming to hot words, maybe to blows,
afore I manage to put twa hundred miles atween you. My lad, my ain dear
lad! You are the Joseph o' a' my sons; you are the joy o' your mother's
life. For our sake, keep a calm sough, and dinna let a fool provoke you
to break our hearts, and maybe send you into God's presence uncalled and

"Father, put yoursel' in my place. How would you feel toward Captain

"Weel, I'll allow that I wouldna feel kindly. I dinna feel kindly to
him, even in my ain place."

"As you desire it, we will speak plainly to each other anent this
subject. You know his proud and hasty temper; you know also that I am
more like yourself than like Moses in the way of meekness. Now, if
Captain Hyde insults me, what course would you advise me to adopt?"

"I wouldna gie him the chance to insult you. I would keep oot o' his
way. There is naething unusual or discreditable in taking a journey to
Boston, to speir after the welfare o' your brother Alexander."

"Oh, indeed, sir, I cannot leave my affairs for an insolent and
ungrateful fool! I ask your advice for the ordinary way of life, not for
the way that cowardice or fear dictates. If without looking for him, or
avoiding him, we meet, and a quarrel is inevitable, what then, father?"

"Ay, weel, in that case, God prevent it! But in sic a strait, my lad, it
is better to gie the insult than to tak' it."

"You know what must follow?"

"Wha doesna ken? Blood, if not murder. Neil, you are a wise and prudent
lad; now, isna the sword o' the law sharper than the rapier o' honour?"

"Law has no remedy for the wrongs men of honour redress with the sword.
A man may call me every shameful name; but, unless I can show some
actual loss in money or money's worth, I have no redress. And suppose
that I tried it, and that after long sufferance and delays I got my
demands, pray, sir, tell me, how can offences which have flogged a man's
most sacred feelings be atoned for by something to put in the pocket?"

"Society, Neil" -

"Society, father, always convicts and punishes the man who takes an

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe Bow of Orange Ribbon A Romance of New York → online text (page 6 of 20)