Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York online

. (page 11 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 11 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


which proved to be the key-note of resistance and of
liberty. Joris had emphatically indorsed its action.
The odious Stamp Act was to be met by the refusal
of American merchants either to import English
goods, or to sell them upon commission, until it was
repealed. Homespun became fashionable. During
the first three months of the year, it was a kind of
disgrace to wear silk or satin or broadcloth ; and a
great fair was opened for the 'sale of articles of
home manufacture. The Government kept its hand
upon the sword. The people were divided into two
parties, bitterly antagonistic to each other. The
"Sons of Liberty "were keeping guard over the pole
which symbolized their determination ; the British
soldiery were swaggering and boasting and openly
insulting patriots on the streets ; and the " New-
York Gazette," in flaming articles, was stimulating
to the utmost, the spirit of resistance to tyranny.

And these great public interests had in every
family their special modifications. Joris was among
the two hundred New-York merchants who put their
names to the resolutions of the October Congress;
Bram was a conspicuous member of the " Sons of



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 127

Liberty;" but Batavius, though conscientiously
with the people's party, was very sensible of the an-
noyance and expense it put him to. Only a part of
his house was finished, but the building of the rest
was in progress ; and many things were needed for
its elegant completion, which were only to be
bought from Tory importers, and which had been
therefore nearly doubled in value. When liberty
interfered with the private interests of Batavius, he
had his doubts as to whether it was liberty. Often
Bram's overt disloyalty irritated him beyond en-
durance. For, since he had joined the ranks of
married men- and householders, Batavius felt that
unmarried men ought to wait for the opinions and
leadership of those who had responsibilities.

Joanna talked precisely as Batavius talked. All
of his enunciations met with her "Amen." There
are women who are incapable of but one affection,
that one which affects them in especial, and Joanna
was of this order. " My husband " was perpetually
on her tongue. She looked upon her position as a
wife and housekeeper as unique. Other women
might have, during the past six thousand years,
held these positions in an indifferent kind of way;
but only she had ever comprehended and properly
fulfilled the duties they involved. Madam Van
Heemskirk smiled a little when Joanna gave her
advices about her house and her duties, when she
disapproved of her father's political attitude, when
she looked injured by Bram's imprudence.

"Not only is wisdom born with Joanna and
Batavius, it will also die with them : so they think,"
said Katherine indignantly, after one of Joanna's
periodical visitations.

A tear twinkled in madam's eyes; but she an-
swered, "I shall not distress myself over much.
Always I have said, ' Joanna has a little soul. Only
what is for her own good can she love.' "

" It is Batavius ; and a woman must love her hus-
band, mother."

" That is the truth : first and best of all, she must
love him, Katherine ; but not as the dog loves and



128 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

fawns on his master, or the squaw bends down to
her brave. A good woman gives not up her own
principles and thoughts and ways. A good woman
will remember the love of her father and mother and
brother and sister, her old home, her old friends ;
and contempt she will not feel and show for the things
of the past, which often, for her, were far better than
she was worthy of."

" There is one I love, mother, love with all my
soul. For him I would die. But for thee also I
would die. Love thee, mother ? I love thee and my
father better because I love him. My mother, fret
thee not, nor think that ever Joanna can really for-
get thee. If a daughter could forget her good
father and her good mother, then with the women
who sit weeping in the outer darkness God would
justly give her her portion. Such a daughter could
not be."

Lysbet sadly shook her head. "When I was a
little girl, Katherine, I read in a book about the old
Romans, how a wicked daughter over the bleeding
corpse of her father drove her chariot. She wanted
his crown for her own husband ; and over the warm,
quivering body of her father she drove. When I
read that story, Katherine, my eyes I covered with
my hands. I thought such a wicked woman in the
world could not be. Alas, mijnMnd! often since
then I have seen daughters over the bleeding hearts
of their mothers and fathers drive ; and frown and
scold and be- much injured and offended if once, in
their pain and sorrow, they cry out."

" But this of me remember, mother: if I am not
near thee, I shall be loving thee, thinking of thee ;
telling my husband, and perhaps my little children,
about thee, how good thou art, how pretty, how
wise. I will order my house as thou hast taught
me, and my own dear ones will love me better be-
cause I love thee. If to my own mother I be not
true, can my husband be sure I will be true to him,
if comes the temptation strong enough ? Sorry
would I be if my heart only one love could hold, and
ever the last love the strong love."



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 129

Still, in spite of this home trouble, and in spite of
the national anxiety, the winter months went with a
delightsome peace and regularity in the VanHeems-
kirk household. Neil Semple ceased to visit Kath-
erine after Joanna's wedding. There was no quarrel,
and no interruption to the kindness that had so long
existed between the families : frequently they walked
from kirk together, Madam Semple and Madam
Van Heemskirk, Joris and the elder, Katherine and
Neil. But Neil never again offered her his hand ;
and such conversation as they had was constrained,
and of the most conventional character.

Very frequently, also, Dominie Van Linden spent
the evening with them. Joris delighted in his
descriptions of Java and Surinam ; and Lysbet and
Katherine knit their stockings, and listened to the
conversation. It was evident that the young min-
ister was deeply in love, and equally evident that
Katherine's parents favored his suit. But the lover
felt, that, whenever he attempted to approach her as
a lover. Katherine surrounded herself with an at-
mosphere that froze the words of admiration or en-
treaty upon his lips.

Joris, however, spoke for him. "He has told me
how truly he loves thee. Like an honest man he
loves thee, and he will make thee a wife honored of
many. No better husband can thou have, Kather-
ine." So spoke her father to her one evening in the
early spring, as they stood together over the bud-
ding snowdrops and'crocus.

" There is no love in my heart for him, father."

" Neil pleases thee not, nor the dominie. Whom
would thou have, then ? Surely not that English-
man now ? The whole race I hate, swaggering,
boastful tyrants, all of them. I will not give thee to
any Englishman.*'

"If I marry not him, then will I stay with thee
always."

" Nonsense that is. Thou must marry, like other
women. But not him : I would never forgive thee;
I would never see thy face again."

" Very hard art thou to me. I love Eichard : can



130 THE BO W OF ORANGE RIBBON.

I love this one and then that one ? If I were so
light-of-love, contempt I should have from all, even
from thee."

"Now, I have something to say. I have heard
that some one, very like to thee, some one, went
twice or three times with Mrs. Gordon to see the
man when he lay ill at the ' King's Arms.' To such
talk, my anger and my scorn soon put an end ; and
I will not ask of thee whether it be true, or whether
it be false. For a young girl I can feel."

" O father, if for me thou could feel ! "

" See, now, if I thought this man would be to thee
a good husband, I would say, ' God made him, and
God does not make all his men Dutchmen;' and I
would forgive him his light, loose life, and his
wicked wasting of gold and substance, and give thee
to him, with thy fortune and with my blessing. But
I think he will be to thee a careless husband. He
will get tired of thy beauty; thy goodness he will
not value; thy money he will soon spend. Three
sweethearts had he in New York before thee. Their
very names, I dare say, he hath forgotten ere this."

" If Richard could make you sure, father, that he
would be a good husband, would you then be con-
tent that we should be married ? "

" That he cannot do. Can the night make me sure
it is the day ? Once very much I respected Batavius.
I said, ' He is a strict man of business ; honorable,
careful, and always apt to make a good bargain.
He does not drink nor swear, and he is a firm mem-
ber of the true Church. He will make my Joanna a
good husband.' That was what I thought. Now I
see that he is a very small, envious, greedy man ;
and like himself he quickly made thy sister. This
is what I fear: if thou marry that soldier, either
thou must grow like he is, or else he will hate thee,
and make thee miserable."

"Just eighteen I am. Let us not talk of hus-
bands. Why are you so hurried, father, to give me
to this strange dominie ? Little is known of him
but what he says. It is easy for him to speak well
of Lambertus Van Linden." '



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 131

"The committe from the Great Consistory have
examined his testimonials. They are very good.
And, I am not in a hurry to give thee away. What I
fear is, that thou wilt be a foolish woman, and give
thyself away."

Katherine stood with dropped head, looking appar-
ently at the brown earth, and the green box borders,
and the shoots of white and purple and gold. But
what she really saw, was the pale, handsome face of
her sick husband, its pathetic entreaty for her love,
its joyful flush, when with bridal kisses he whispered,
' Wife, wife, wife!"

Joris watched her curiously. The expression on
her face he could not understand. " So happy she
looks ! " he thought, " and for what reason ? "
Katherine was the first to speak.

"Who has told you any thing about Capt. Hyde,,
father?"

" Many have spoken."

" Does he get back his good health again ? "

"I hear that. When the warm days come, to En-
land he is going. So says Jacob Cohen. What has-
Mrs. Gordon told thee ? for to see her I know thou
goes."

" Twice only have I been. I heard not of England.'*

" But that is certain. He will go, and what then ?
Thee he will quite forget, and never more will thou
see or hear tell of him."

" That I believe not. In the cold winter one would
have said of these flowers, 'They come no more.'
But the winter goes away, and then here they are.
Eichard has been in the dead valley, der schaduwe
des doods. Sometimes I thought, he will come back
to me no more. But now I am sure I shall see him
again."

Joris turned sadly away. That night he did not
speak to her more. But he had the persistence
which is usually associated with slow natures. He
could not despair. He felt that he must go steadily
on trying to move Katherine to what he really be-
lieved was her highest interest. And he permitted
nothing to discourage him for very long. Dominie



132 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

Van Linden was also a prudent man. He had no
intention in his wooing to make haste and lose speed.
As to Katherine's love troubles, he had not been left
in ignorance of them. A great many people had
given him such information as would enable him to
keep his own heart from the wiles of the siren. He
had also a wide knowledge of books and life, and in
the light of this knowledge he thought he could
understand her. But the conclusion that he delib-
erately came to, was, that Katherine had cared
neither for Hyde or Semple, and that the unpleasant
termination of their courtship had made her shy of
all lover-like attentions. He believed that if he
advanced cautiously to her he might have the felicity
of surprising and capturing her virgin affection.
And just about so far does any amount of wisdom
and experience help a man in a love perplexity;
because every mortal woman is a different woman,
and no two can be wooed and won in precisely the
same way.

Amid all these different elements, political, social,
and domestic, Nature kept her own even, unvarying
course. The gardens grew every day fairer, the air
more soft and balmy, the sunshine warmer and more
cherishing. Katherine was not unhappy. As Hyde
grew stronger, he spent his hours in writing long
letters to his wife. He told her every trivial event,
he commented on all she told him. And her letters
revealed to him a soul so pure, so true, so loving,
that he vowed " he fell in love with her afresh every
day of his life. " Katherine's communications reached
her husband readily by the ordinary post; Hyde's
had to be sent through Mrs. Gordon. But it was
evident from the first that Katherine could not call
there for them. Col. Gordon would soon have
objected to being made an obvious participant in his
nephew's clandestine correspondence; and Joris
would have decidedly interfered with visits sure to
cause unpleasant remarks about his daughter. The
medium was found in the man tu a- maker, Miss Pitt.
Mrs. Gordon was her most profitable customer, and
Katherine went there for needles and threads and



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 133

such small wares as are constantly needed in a
household. And whenever she did so, Miss Pitt was
sure to remark, in an after- thought kind of way,
"Oh, I had nearly forgotten, miss! Here is a small
parcel that Mrs. Gordon desired me to present to
you."

One exquisite morning in May, Katherine stood at
an open window looking over the garden and the
river, and the green hills and meadows across the
stream. Her heart was full of hope. Richard's re-
covery was so far advanced that he had taken sev-
eral rides in the middle of the day. Always he had
passed the Van Heemskirk's house, and always
Katherine had been waiting to rain down upon his
lifted face the influence of her most bewitching
beauty and her tenderest smiles. She was thinking
of the last of these events, of Eichard's rapid exhi-
bition of a long, folded paper, and the singular and
emphatic wave which he gave it toward the river.
His whole air and attitude had expressed delight
and hope : could he really mean that she was to meet
him again at their old trysting-place ?

As thus she happily mused, some one called her
mother from the front hall. On fine mornings it
was customary to leave the door standing open ; and
the visitor advanced to the foot of the stairs, and
called once more, "Lysbet Van Heemskirk! Is
there naebody in to bid me welcome ? " Then
Katherine knew it was Madam Semple ; and she ran
to her mother's room, and begged her to go down
and receive the caller. For in these days Katherine
dreaded Madam Semple a little. Very naturally,
the mother blamed her for Neil's suffering and loss
of time and prestige; and she found it hard to for-
give also her positive rejection of his suit. For her
sake, she herself had been made to suffer mortifica-
tion and disappointment. She had lost her friends
in a way which deprived her of all the fruits of her
kindness. The Gordons thought Neil had trans-

gressed all the laws of hospitality. The Semples
ad a similiar charge to make. And it provoked
Madam Semple that Mrs. Gordon continued her



134 TEE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

friendship with Katherine. Every one else blamed
Katherine altogether in the matter: Mrs. Gordon
had defied the use and wont of society on such occa-
sions, and thrown the whole blame on Neil. Some-
how, in her secret heart, she even blamed Lysbet a
little. "Ever since I told her there was an earldom
in the family, she's been daft to push her daughter
into it," was her frequent remark to the elder; and
he also reflected that the proposed alliance of Neil
and Katherine had been received with coolness by
Joris and Lysbet. "It was the soldier or the
dominie, either o' them before our Neil;" and,
though there was no apparent diminution of friend-
ship, Semple and his wife frequently had a little
private grumble at their own fireside.

And toward Neil, Joris had also a secret feeling
of resentment. He had taken no pains to woo
Katherine until some one else wanted her. It was
universally conceded that he had been the first to
draw his sword, and thus indulge his own temper at
the expense of their child's good name and happi-
ness. Taking these faults as rudimentary ones,
Lysbet could enlarge on them indefinitely; and
Joris had undoubtedly been influenced by his wife's
opinions. So, below the smiles and kind words of a
long friendship, there was bitterness. If there had
not been, Janet Semple would hardly have paid that
morning visit ; for before Lysbet was half way down
the stairs, Katherine heard her call out,

" Here's a bonnie come of. But it is what a' folks
expected. 'The Dauntless' sailed the morn, and
Capt. Earle wi' a contingent for the West Indies
station. And who wi' him, guess you, but CaptT
Hyde, and no less ? They say he has a furlough in
his pocket for a twelve-month: more like it's a
clean, total dismissal. The gude ken it ought to
be."

So much Katheriue heard, then her mother shut to
the door of the sitting-room. A great fear made her
turn faint and sick. Were her father's words true?
Was this the meaning of the mysterious wave of the
folded paper toward the ocean? The suspicion



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 135

once entertained, she remembered several little
things which strengthened it. Her heart failed her :
she uttered a low cry of pain, and tottered to a chair,
like one wounded.

It was then ten o'clock. She thought the noon
hour would never come. Eagerly she watched for
Bram and her father; for any certainty would be
better than such cruel fear and suspense. And, if
Richard had really gone, the fact would be known
to them. Bram came first. For once she felt im-
patient of his political enthusiasm. How could she
care about liberty poles and impressed fishermen,
with such a real terror at her heart? But Bram
said nothing ; only, as he went out, she caught him
looking at her with such pitiful eyes. " What did
he mean ? " She turned coward then, and could not
voice the question. Joris was tenderly explicit. He
said to her at once, "'The Dauntless' sailed this
morning. Oh, my little one, sorry I am for thee ! "

" Is he gone ? " Very low and slow were the
words; and Joris only answered, "Yes."

Without any further question or remark, she went
away. They were amazed at her calmness. And for
some minutes after she had locked the door of her
room, she stood still in the middle of the floor, more
like one that has forgotten something, and is trying
to remember, than a woman who has received a
blow upon her heart. No tears came to her eyes.
She did not think of weeping, or reproaching, or
lamenting. The only questions she asked herself
were, " How am I to get life over ? Will such suf-
fering kill me very soon ? "

Joris and Lysbet talked it over together. " Cohen
told me," said Joris, "that Capt. Hyde called to bid
him good-by. He said, 'He is a very honorable
young man, a very grateful young man, and I re-
joice that I was helpful in saving his life.' Then I
asked him in what ship he was to sail, and he said
'The Dauntless.' She left her moorings this morn-
ing between nine and ten. She carries troops to
Kingston, Capt. Earle in command ; and I heard
that Capt. Hyde has a year's furlough."



136 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

Lysbet drew her lips tight, and said nothing. The
last shadow of her own dream had departed also,
but it was of her child she thought. At that hour
she hated Hyde ; and, after Joris had gone, she said
in low, angry tones, over and over, as she folded the
freshly ironed linen, " I wish that Neil had killed
him!" About two o'clock she went to Katherine.
The girl opened her door at once to her. There was
nothing to be said, no hope to offer. Joris had
seen Hyde embark ; he had heard Mrs. Gordon and
the colonel bid him farewell. Several of his brother
officers, also, and the privates of his own troop, had
been on the dock to see him sail. His departure was
beyond dispute.

And even while she looked at the woeful young
face before her, the mother anticipated the smaller,
festering sorrows that would spring from this great
one, the shame and mortification ; the mockery of
those who had envied Katherine; the inquiries,
condolences, and advices of friends; the complacent
self-congratulation of Batavius, who would be cer-
tain to remind them of every provoking admonition
he had given on the subject. And who does not
know that these little trials 6f life are its hardest
trials ? The mother did not attempt to say one word
of comfort, or hope, or excuse. She only took the
child in her arms, and wept for her. At this hour
she would not wound her by even -an angry word
concerning him.

" I loved him so much, moeder."

" Thou could not help it. Handsome, and gallant,
and gay he was. I never shall forget seeing thee
dance with him."

" And he did love me. A woman knows when she
is loved."

" Yes, I am sure he loved thee."

" He has gone ? Really gone ? "

" No doubt is there of it. Stay in thy room, and
have thy grief out with thyself." *

" No ; I will come to my work. Every day will
now be the same. I shall look no more for any joy ;
but my duty I will do."



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 137

They went down-stairs together. The clean linen,
the stockings that required mending, lay upon the
table. Katherine sat'down to the task. Kesolutely,
but almost unconsciously, she put her needle
through and through. Her suffering was pitiful;
this little one, who a few months ago would have
wept for a cut finger, now silently battling with the
bitterest agony that can come to a loving woman,
the sense of cruel, unexpected, unmerited desertion.
At first Lysbet tried to talk to her; but she soon
saw that the effort to answer was beyond Kather-
ine's power, and conversation was abandoned. So
for an hour, an hour of speechless sorrow, they sat.
The tick of the clock, the purr of the cat, the snap
of a breaking thread, alone relieved the tension of
silence in which this act of suffering was completed.
Its atmosphere was becoming intolerable, like that
of a nightmare; and Lysbet was feeling that she
must speak and move, and so dissipate it, when
there was a loud knock at the front-door.

Katherine trembled all over. " To-day I cannot
bear it, mother. No one can I see. I will go up-
stairs."

Ere the words were finished, Mrs. Gordon's voice
was audible. She came into the room laughing, with
the smell of fresh violets and the feeling of the brisk
wind around her. "Dear madam," she cried, "I
entreat you for a favor. I am going to take the air
this afte'rnoon : be so good as to let Katherine come
with me. For I must tell you that the colonel has
orders for Boston, and I may see my charming
friend no more after to-day."

" Katherine, what say you ? Will you go ? "

" Please, mijn moeder."

"Make great haste, then." For Lysbet was
pleased with the offer, and fearful that Joris might
arrive, and refuse to let his daughter accept it. She
hoped that Katherine would receive some comfort-
ing message ; and she was glad that on this day, of
all others, Capt. Hyde's aunt should be seen with
her. It would in some measure stop evil surmises ;
and it left an air of uncertainty about the captain's



138 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

relationship to Katherine, which made the humilia-
tion of his departure less keen.

"Stay not long," she whispered, "for your
father's sake. There is no good, more trouble to
give him."

" Well, my dear, you look like a ghost. Have you
not one smile for a woman so completely in your in-
terest ? When I promised Dick this morning that I
would be sure to get word to you, I was at my wits'
end to discover a way. But, when I am between the
horns of a dilemma, I find it the best plan to take
the bull by the horns. Hence, I have made you a
visit which seems to have quite nonplussed you and
your good mother."

" I thought Kichard had gone."

" And you were breaking your heart, that is easy
to be seen. He has gone, but he will come back to-
night at eight o'clock. No matter what happens, be
at the river-side. Do not fail Dick : he is taking his
life in his hand to see you."

" I will be there."

"La! what are you crying for, child ? Poor girl!
What are you crying for ? Dick, the scamp ? He is
not worthy of such pure tears ; and yet, believe me,
he loves you to distraction."

" I thought he had gone gone, without a word."


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 11 of 20)