clothing disarranged and blood-stained; and Lysbet never remembered to
have seen him so completely exhausted. "Bram is with Neil," he said; "he
will not be home."
"I helped them carry - the other. To the 'King's Arms' we took him. A
strong man was needed until their work the surgeons had done. I stayed;
that is all."
"Live will he?"
"His right lung is pierced clean through. A bad wound in the throat he
has. At death's door is he, from loss of the blood. But then, youth he
has, and a great spirit, and hope. I wish not for his death, my God
"Neil, what of him?"
"Unconscious he was when I left him at his home. I stayed not there. His
father and his mother were by his side; Bram also. Does Katherine know?"
"O Joris, if in her room thou could have heard her crying! My heart for
her aches, the sorrowful one!"
"See, then, that this lesson she miss not. It is a hard one, but learn
it she must. If thy love would pass it by, think this, for her good it
is. Many bitter things are in it. What unkind words will now be said!
Also, my share in the matter I must tell in the kirk session; and
Dominie de Ronde is not one slack in giving the reproof. With our own
people a disgrace it will be counted. Can I not hear Van Vleek grumble,
'Well, now, I hope Joris Van Heemskirk has had enough of his fine
English company;' and Elder Brouwer will say, 'He must marry his
daughter to an Englishman; and, see, what has come of it;' and that evil
old woman, Madam Van Corlaer, will shake her head and whisper, 'Yes,
neighbours, and depend upon it, the girl is of a light mind and bad
morals, and it is her fault; and I shall take care my nieces to her
speak no more.' So it will be; Katherine herself will find it so."
"The poor child! Sorry am I she ever went to Madam Semple's to see Mrs.
Gordon. If thy word I had taken, Joris!"
"If my word the elder also had taken. When first, he told me that his
house he would offer to the Gordons, I said to him, 'So foolish art
them! In the end, what does not fit will fight.' If to-night them could
have seen Mistress Gordon when she heard of her nephew's hurt. Without
one word of regret, without one word of thanks, and in a great passion,
she left the house. For Neil she cared not. 'He had been ever an envious
kill-joy. He had ever hated her dear Dick. He had ever been jealous of
any one handsomer than himself. He was a black dog in the manger; and
she hoped, with all her heart, that Dick had done for him.' Beside
herself with grief and passion she was, or the elder had not borne so
patiently her words."
"As her own son, she loved him."
"Yea, Lysbet; but _just_ one should be. Weary and sad am I to-night."
The next morning was the sabbath, and many painful questions suggested
themselves to Joris and Lysbet Van Heemskirk. Joris felt that he must
not take his seat among the deacons until he had been fully exonerated
of all blame of blood-guiltiness by the dominie and his elders and
deacons in full kirk session. Madam could hardly endure the thought of
the glances that would be thrown at her daughter, and the probable
slights she would receive. Batavius plainly showed an aversion to being
seen in Katherine's company. But these things did not seem to Joris a
sufficient reason for neglecting worship. He thought it best for people
to face the unpleasant consequences of wrong-doing; and he added, "In
trouble also, my dear ones, where should we go but into the house of the
Katherine had not spoken during the discussion but, when it was over,
she said, "_Mijn vader, mijn moeder_, to-day I cannot go! For me have
some pity. The dominie I will speak to first; and what he says, I will
"Between me and thy _moeder_ thou shalt be."
"Bear it I cannot. I shall fall down, I shall be ill; and there shall be
shame and fear, and the service to make stop, and then more wonder and
more talk, and the dominie angry also! At home I am the best."
"Well, then, so it shall be."
But Joris was stern to Katherine, and his anger added the last
bitterness to her grief. No one had said a word of reproach to her; but,
equally, no one had said a word of pity. Even Joanna was shy and cold,
for Batavius had made her feel that one's own sister may fall below
moral par and sympathy. "If either of the men die," he had said, "I
shall always consider Katherine guilty of murder; and nowhere in the
Holy Scriptures are we told to forgive murder, Joanna. And even while
the matter is uncertain, is it not right to be careful? Are we not told
to avoid even the appearance of evil?" So that, with this charge before
him, Batavius felt that countenancing Katherine in any way was not
And certainly the poor girl might well fear the disapproval of the
general public, when her own family made her feel her fault so keenly.
The kirk that morning would have been the pillory to her. She was
unspeakably grateful for the solitude of the house, for space and
silence, in which she could have the relief of unrestrained weeping.
About the middle of the morning, she heard Bram's footsteps. She divined
_why_ he had come home, and she shrank from meeting him until he removed
the clothing he had worn during the night's bloody vigil. Bram had not
thought of Katherine's staying from kirk; and when she confronted him,
so tear-stained and woe-begone, his heart was full of pity for her. "My
poor little Katherine!" he said; and she threw her arms around his neck,
and sobbed upon his breast as if her heart would break.
[Illustration: "O Bram! is he dead?"]
"_Mijn kleintje_, who has grieved thee?"
"O Bram! is he dead?"
"Who? Neil? I think he will get well once more."
"What care I for Neil? The wicked one! I wish that he might die. Yes,
that I do."
"Whish! - to say that is wrong."
"Bram! Bram! A little pity give me. It is the other one. Hast thou
"How can he live? Look at that sorrow, dear one, and ask God to forgive
and help thee."
"No, I will not look at it. I will ask God every moment that he may get
well. Could I help that I should love him? So kind, so generous, is he!
Oh, my dear one, my dear one, would I had died for thee!"
Bram was much moved. Within the last twenty-four hours he had begun to
understand the temptation in which Katherine had been; begun to
understand that love never asks, 'What is thy name? Of what country art
thou? Who is thy father?' He felt that so long as he lived he must
remember Miriam Cohen as she stood talking to him in the shadowy store.
Beauty like hers was strange and wonderful to the young Dutchman. He
could not forget her large eyes, soft and brown as gazelle's; the warm
pallor and brilliant carnation of her complexion; her rosy, tender
mouth; her abundant black hair, fastened with large golden pins, studded
with jewels. He could not forget the grace of her figure, straight and
slim as a young palm-tree, clad in a plain dark garment, and a
neckerchief of white India silk falling away from her exquisite throat.
He did not yet know that he was in love; he only felt how sweet it was
to sit still and dream of the dim place, and the splendidly beautiful
girl standing among its piled-up furniture and its hanging draperies.
And this memory of Miriam made him very pitiful to Katherine.
"Every one is angry at me, Bram, even my father; and Batavius will not
sit on the chair at my side; and Joanna says a great disgrace I have
made for her. And thou? Wilt thou also scold me? I think I shall die of
"Scold thee, thou little one? That I will not. And those that are angry
with thee may be angry with me also. And if there is any comfort I can
get thee, tell thy brother Bram. He will count thee first, before all
others. How could they make thee weep? Cruel are they to do so. And as
for Batavius, mind him not. Not much I think of Batavius! If he says
this or that to thee, I will answer him."
"Bram! my Bram! my brother! There is one comfort for me, - if I knew that
he still lived; if one hope thou could give me!"
"What hope there is, I will go and see. Before they are back from kirk,
I will be back; and, if there is good news, I will be glad for thee."
Not half an hour was Bram away; and yet, to the miserable girl, how
grief and fear lengthened out the moments! She tried to prepare herself
for the worst; she tried to strengthen her soul even for the message of
death. But very rarely is any grief as bad as our own terror of it. When
Bram came back, it was with a word of hope on his lips.
"I have seen," he said, "who dost thou think? - the Jew Cohen. He of all
men, he has sat by Captain Hyde's side all night; and he has dressed the
wound the English surgeon declared 'beyond mortal skill.' And he said to
me, 'Three times, in the Persian desert, I have cured wounds still
worse, and the Holy One hath given me the power of healing; and, if He
wills, the young man shall recover.' That is what he said, Katherine."
"Forever I will love the Jew. Though he fail, I will love him. So kind
he is, even to those who have not spoken well, nor done well, to him."
"So kind, also, was the son of David to all of us. Now, then, go wash
thy face, and take comfort and courage."
"Bram, leave me not."
"There is Neil. We have been companions; and his father and his mother
are old, and need me."
"Also, I need thee. All the time they will make me to feel how wicked is
Katherine Van Heemskirk!"
At this moment the family returned from the morning service, and Bram
rather defiantly drew his sister to his side. Joris was not with them.
He had stopped at the "King's Arms" to ask if Captain Hyde was still
alive; for, in spite of everything, the young man's heroic cheerfulness
in the agony of the preceding night had deeply touched Joris. No one
spoke to Katherine; even her mother was annoyed and humiliated at the
social ordeal through which they had just passed, and she thought it
only reasonable that the erring girl should be made to share the trial.
Batavius, however, had much curiosity; and his first thought on seeing
Bram at home was, "Neil is of course dead, and Bram is of no further
use;" and, in the tone of one personally injured by such a fatality, he
"So it is the end, then. On the sabbath day Neil has gone. If it should
be the sabbath day in the other world, - which is likely, - it will be the
worse for Neil."
"What mean you?"
"Is not Neil Semple dead?"
"No. I think, also, that he will live."
"I am glad. It is good for Katherine."
"I see it not."
"Well, then, if he dies, is it not Katherine's fault?"
"Heaven and hell! No! Katherine is not to blame."
"All respectable and moral people will say so."
"Better for them not to say so. If I hear of it, then I will make them
say it to my face."
"I have my hands and my feet, for them - to punish their tongues."
"And the kirk session?"
"Oh, I care not! What is the kirk session to my little Katherine?
Batavius, if man or woman you hear speak ill of her, tell them it is not
Katherine, but Bram Van Heemskirk, that will bring everything back to
them. What words I say, them I mean."
"Oh, yes! And mind this, Bram, the words I think, them words I will say,
whether you like them or like them not."
"As the wind you bluster, - on the sabbath day, also. In your ship I sail
not, Batavius. Good-by, then, Katherine; and if any are unkind to thee,
tell thy brother. For thou art right, and not wrong."
But, though Bram bravely championed his sister, he could not protect her
from those wicked innuendoes disseminated for the gratification of the
virtuous; nor from those malicious regrets of very good people over
rumours which they declare to "be incredible," and yet which,
nevertheless, they "unfortunately believe to be too true." The Scotch
have a national precept which says, "Never speak ill of the dead."
Would it not be much better to speak no ill of the living? Little could
it have mattered to Madam Bogardus or Madam Stuyvesant what a lot of
silly people said of them in Pearl Street or Maiden Lane, a century
after their death; but poor Katherine Van Heemskirk shivered and
sickened in the presence of averted eyes and uplifted shoulders, and in
that chill atmosphere of disapproval which separated her from the
sympathy and confidence of her old friends and acquaintances.
"It is thy punishment," said her mother, "bear it bravely and patiently.
In a little while, it will be forgot." But the weeks went on, and the
wounded men slowly fought death away from their pillows, and Katherine
did not recover the place in social estimation which she had lost
through the ungovernable tempers of her lovers. For, alas, there are few
social pleasures that have so much vital power as that of exploring the
faults of others, and comparing them with our own virtues!
But nothing ill lasts forever; and in three months Neil Semple was in
his office again, wan and worn with fever and suffering, and wearing his
sword arm in a sling, but still decidedly world-like and life-like. It
was characteristic of Neil that few, even of his intimates, cared to
talk of the duel to him, to make any observations on his absence, or any
inquiries about his health. But it was evident that public opinion was
in a large measure with him. Every young Provincial, who resented the
domineering spirit of the army, felt Hyde's punishment in the light of a
personal satisfaction. Beekman also had talked highly of the unbending
spirit and physical bravery of his principal; and though in the Middle
Kirk the affair was sure to be the subject of a reproof, and of a
suspension of its highest privileges, yet it was not difficult to feel
that sympathy often given to deeds publicly censured, but privately
admired. Joris remarked this spirit with a little astonishment and
dissent. He could not find in his heart any excuse for either Neil or
Hyde; and, when the elder enlarged with some acerbity upon the
requirements of honour among men, Joris offended him by replying, -
"Well, then, Elder, little I think of that 'honour' which runs not with
the laws of God and country."
"Let me tell you, Joris, the 'voice of the people is the voice of God,'
in a measure; and you may see with your ain een that it mair than
acquits Neil o' wrong-doing. Man, Joris! would you punish a fair
sword-fight wi' the hangman?"
"A better way there is. In the pillory I would stand these men of
honour, who of their own feelings think more than of the law of God. A
very quick end that punishment would put to a custom wicked and absurd."
"Weel, Joris, we'll hae no quarrel anent the question. You are a
Dutchman, and hae practical ideas o' things in general. Honour is a
virtue that canna be put in the Decalogue, like idolatry and murder and
"Say you the Decalogue? Its yea and nay are enough. Harder than any of
God's laws are the laws we make for ourselves. Little I think of their
justice and wisdom. If right was Neil, if wrong was Hyde, honour
punished both. A very foolish law is honour, I think."
"Here comes Neil, and we'll let the question fa' to the ground. There
are wiser men than either you or I on baith sides."
Joris nodded gravely, and turned to welcome the young man. More than
ever he liked him; for, apart from moral and prudential reasons, it was
easy for the father to forgive an unreasonable love for his Katharine.
Also, he was now more anxious for a marriage between Neil and his
daughter. It was indeed the best thing to fully restore her to the
social esteem of her own people; for by making her his wife, Neil would
most emphatically exonerate her from all blame in the quarrel. Just this
far, and no farther, had Neil's three months' suffering aided his
suit, - he had now the full approval of Joris, backed by the weight of
this social justification.
But, in spite of these advantages, he was really much farther away from
Katherine. The three months had been full of mental suffering to her,
and she blamed Neil entirely for it. She had heard from Bram the story
of the challenge and the fight; heard how patiently Hyde had parried
Neil's attack rather than return it, until Neil had so passionately
refused any satisfaction less than his life; heard, also, how even at
the point of death, fainting and falling, Hyde had tried to protect her
ribbon at his breast. She never wearied of talking with Bram on the
subject; she thought of it all day, dreamed of it all night.
And she knew much more about it than her parents or Joanna supposed.
Bram had easily fallen into the habit of calling at Cohen's to ask
after his patient. He would have gone for his sister's comfort alone,
but it was also a great pleasure to himself. At first he saw Miriam
often; and, when he did, life became a heavenly thing to Bram Van
Heemskirk. And though latterly it was always the Jew himself who
answered his questions, there was at least the hope that Miriam would be
in the store, and lift her eyes to him, or give him a smile or a few
words of greeting. Katherine very soon suspected how matters stood with
her brother, and gratitude led her to talk with him about the lovely
Jewess. Every day she listened with apparent interest to his
descriptions of Miriam, as he had seen her at various times; and every
day she felt more desirous to know the girl whom she was certain Bram
But for some weeks after the duel she could not bear to leave the house.
It was only after both men were known to be recovering, that she
ventured to kirk; and her experience there was not one which tempted her
to try the streets and the stores. However, no interest is a living
interest in a community but politics; and these probably retain their
power because change is their element. People eventually got weary to
death of Neil Semple and Captain Hyde and Katherine Van Heemskirk. The
subject had been discussed in every possible light; and, when it was
known that neither of the men was going to die, gossipers felt as if
they had been somewhat defrauded, and the topic lost every touch of
Also, far more important events had now the public attention. During the
previous March, the Stamp Act and the Quartering Act had passed both
houses of Parliament; and Virginia and Massachusetts, conscious of their
dangerous character, had roused the fears of the other Provinces; and a
convention of their delegates was appointed to meet during October in
New York. It was this important session which drew Neil Semple, with
scarcely healed wounds, from his chamber. The streets were noisy with
hawkers crying the detested Acts, and crowded with groups of
stern-looking men discussing them. And, with the prospect of soldiers
quartered in every home, women had a real grievance to talk over; and
Katherine Van Heemskirk's love-affair became an intrusion and a bore, if
any one was foolish enough to name it.
[Illustration: The streets were noisy with hawkers]
It was during this time of excitement that Katherine said one morning,
at breakfast, "Bram wait one minute for me. I am going to do an errand
or two for my mother.
"It is a bad time, Katherine, you have chosen," said Batavius. "Full of
men are the streets, excited men too, and of swaggering British
soldiers, whom it would be a great pleasure to tie up in a halter. The
British I hate, - bullying curs, everyone of them!"
"Well, I know that you hate the British, Batavius. You say so every
"That is so, Joanna."
Madam looked annoyed. Joris rose, and said, "Come then, Katherine, thou
shalt go with me and with Bram both. Batavius need not then fear for
His voice was so tender that Katherine felt an unusual happiness and
exultation; and she was also young enough to be glad to see the familiar
streets again, and to feel the pulse of their vivid life make her heart
At Kip's store, Bram left her. She had felt so free and unremarked, that
she said, "Wait not for me, Bram. By myself I will go home. Or perhaps I
might call upon Miriam Cohen. What dost thou think?" And Bram's large,
handsome face flushed like a girl's with pleasure, as he answered, "That
I would like, and there thou could rest until the dinner-hour. As I go
home, I could call for thee."
So, after selecting the goods her mother needed at Kip's, Katherine was
going up Pearl Street, when she heard herself called in a familiar and
urgent voice. At the same moment a door was flung open; and Mrs. Gordon,
running down the few steps, put her hand upon the girl's shoulder.
"Oh, my dear, this is a piece of good fortune past belief! Come into my
lodgings. Oh, indeed you shall! I will have no excuse. Surely you owe
Dick and me some reward after the pangs we have suffered for you."
She was leading Katherine into the house as she spoke; and Katherine had
not the will, and therefore not the power, to oppose her. She placed the
girl by her side on the sofa; she took her hands, and, with a genuine
grief and love, told her all that "poor Dick" had suffered and was still
suffering for her sake.
"It was the most unprovoked challenge, my dear; and Neil Semple behaved
like a savage, I assure you. When Dick was bleeding from half a dozen
wounds, a gentleman would have been satisfied, and accepted the
mediation of the seconds; but Neil, in his blind passion, broke the code
to pieces. A man who can do nothing but be in a rage is a ridiculous and
offensive animal. Have you seen him since his recovery? For I hear that
he has crawled out of his bed again."
"Him I have not seen."
"Gracious powers, miss! Is that all you say, 'Him I have not seen'? Make
me patient with so insensible a creature! Here am I almost distracted
with my three months' anxiety and poor Dick, so gone as to be past
knowledge, breaking his true heart for a sight of you; and you answer me
as if I had asked, 'Pray, have you seen the newspaper to-day?'"
Then Katherine covered her face, and sobbed with a hopelessness and
abandon that equally fretted Mrs. Gordon. "I wish I knew one corner of
this world inaccessible to lovers," she cried. "Of all creatures, they
are the most ridiculous and unreasonable. Now, what are you crying for,
"If I could only see Richard, - only see him for one moment!"
"That is exactly what I am going to propose. He will get better when he
has seen you. I will call a coach, and we will go at once."
"Alas! Go I dare not. My father and my mother!"
"And Dick, - what of Dick, poor Dick, who is dying for you?" She went to
the door, and gave the order for a coach. "Your lover, Katherine. Child,
have you no heart? Shall I tell Dick you would not come with me?"
"Be not so cruel to me. That you have seen me at all, why need you say?"
"Oh! indeed, miss, do not imagine yourself the only person who values
the truth. Dick always asks me, 'Have you seen her?' 'Tis my humour to
be truthful, and I am always swayed by my inclination. I shall feel it
to be my duty to inform him how indifferent you are. Katherine, put on
your bonnet again. Here also are my veil and cloak. No one will perceive
that it is you. It is the part of humanity, I assure you. Do so much for
a poor soul who is at the grave's mouth."
"My father, I promised him" -
"O child! have six penny worth of common feeling about you. The man is
dying for your sake. If he were your enemy, instead of your true lover,
you might pity him so much. Do you not wish to see Dick?"
"My life for his life I would give."
"Words, words, my dear. It is not your life he wants. He asks only ten
minutes of your time. And if you desire to see him, give yourself the
pleasure. There is nothing more silly than to be too wise to be happy."
While thus alternately urging and persuading Katherine, the coach came,
the disguise was assumed, and the two drove rapidly to the "King's
Arms." Hyde was lying upon a couch which had been drawn close to the
window. But in order to secure as much quiet as possible, he had been
placed in one of the rooms at the rear of the tavern, - a large, airy
room, looking into the beautiful garden which stretched away backward as
far as the river. He had been in extremity. He was yet too weak to
stand, too weak to endure long the strain of company or books or papers.
He heard his aunt's voice and footfall, and felt, as he always did, a
vague pleasure in her advent. Whatever of life came into his chamber of
suffering came through her. She brought him daily such intelligences as
she thought conducive to his recovery; and it must be acknowledged that
it was not always her "humour to be truthful." For Hyde had so craved