Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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Perhaps she had some inherited taste for low lands,
with their shimmer of water and patches of green ;
or perhaps the "gentle beauty of the landscape spe-
cially fitted her temperament. But, at any rate, the
wide brown stretches, dotted with lonely windmills
and low farmhouses, pleased her. So also did the
marshes, fringed with yellow and purple flags; and
the great ditches, white with water-lilies ; and the
high belts of natural turf; and the summer sun-
shine, which over this level land had a white brill-
iancy to which other sunshine seemed shadow.
Hyde had never before found the country endurable,
except during the season when the marshes were full
of birds; or, when, at the Christmas holidays, the
ice was firm as marble, and smooth as glass, and the
wind blowing fair from behind. Then he had liked
well a race with the famous fen-skaters.

The Manor House was neither handsome nor pic-


turesque ; though its dark-red bricks made telling
contrasts among the ivy, and the few large trees sur-
rounding it. It contained a great number of rooms,
but none were of large proportions. The ceilings
were low, and often crossed with heavy oak beams;
while the floors, though of polished oak, were very
uneven. Hyde had refurnished a few of the rooms ;
and the showy paperings and chintzes, the fine satin
and gilding, looked oddly at variance with the black
oak wainscots, the Elizabethan fireplaces, and the
other internal decorations.

Katherine, however, had no sense of any incon-
gruity. She was charmed with her home, from its
big garrets to the great wine-bins in its underground
cellars; and while Hyde wandered about the fens
with his fishing-rod or gun, or went into the little
town of Hyde to meet over a market dinner the
neighboring squires, she was busy arranging every
room with that scrupulous nicety and cleanliness
which had been not only an important part of her
education, but was also a fundamental trait of her
character. Indeed, no Dutch wife ever had the
nethied, or passion for order and cleanliness, in
greater perfection than Katherine. She might al-
most have come from Wormeldingen, " where the
homes are washed and waxed, and the streets
brushed and dusted till not a straw lies about, and
the trees have a combed and brushed appearance,
and do not dare to grow a leaf out of its place." So,
then, the putting in order of this large house, with
all its miscellaneous, uncared-for furniture, gave her
a genuine pleasure.

Always pretty and sweet as a flower, always beau-
tifully dressed, she yet directed, personally, her lit-
tle force of servants, until room after room became
a thing of beauty. It was her employment during
those days on which Hyde was fishing or shooting;
and it was not until the whole house was in exquisite
condition, that Katherine took him through his ren-
ovated dwelling. He was delighted, and not too
selfish and indifferent to express his wonder and


"Faith, Kate," he said, "you have made me a
home out of an old lumber-house! I thought of
taking you to London with me ; but, upon my word,
we had better stay at Hyde and beautify the place.
I can run down whenever it is possible to get a few
days off."

This idea gained gradually on both, and articles of
luxury and adornment were occasionally added to
the better rooms. The garden next fell under Kath-
erine's care. " In sweet neglect," it no longer
flaunted its beauties. Roses and stocks and tiger-
lilies learned what boundaries of box meant; and,
if flowers have any sense of territorial rights, Kath-
erine's must have found they were respected. En-
croaching vines were securely confined within their
proper limits, and grass that wandered into the
gravel paths sought for itself a merciless destruc-

All such reforms, if they are not offensive, are
stimulating and progressive. The stables, kennels,
and park, as well as the land belonging to the manor,
became of sudden interest to Hyde. He surprised
his lawyer by asking after it, and by giving orders
that in future the hay cut in the meadows should be
cut for the Hyde stables. Every small wrong which
he investigated and redressed, increased his sense
of responsibility; and the birth of his son made
him begin to plan for the future in a way which
brought not only great pleasure to Katherine, but
also a comfortable self-satisfaction to his own heart.

Yet, even with all these favorable conditions,
Katherine would not have been happy had the
estrangement between herself and her parents con-
tinued a bitter or a silent one. She did not suppose
they would answer the letter she had sent by the
fisherman Hudde; she was prepared to ask, and to
wait, for pardon and for a re-gift of that precious
love which she had apparently slighted for a newer
and as yet untested one. So, immediately after her
arrival at Jamaica, Katherine wrote to her mother;
and, without waiting for replies, she continued her
letters regularly from Hyde. They were in a spirit


of the sweetest and frankest confidence. She made
her familiar with all her household plans and wifely
cares ; as room by room in the old manor was fin-
ished, she described it. She asked her advice with
all the faith of a child and the love of a daughter;
and she sent through her those sweet messages of
affection to her father, which she feared a little to
offer without her mother's mediation.

But when she had a son, and when Hyde agreed
to the boy being named George, she wrote a letter to
him. Jons found it one April morning on his desk,
and it happened to come in a happy hour. He had been
working in his garden, and every plant and flower
had brought his Katherine pleasantly back to his
memory. All the walks were haunted by her image.
The fresh breeze of the river was full of her voice
and her clear laughter. The returning birds, chat-
tering in the trees above him, seemed to ask,
" Where, then, is the little one gone ? "

Her letter, full of love, starred all through with pet
words, and wisely reminding him more of their own
past happiness than enlarging on her present joy,
made his heart melt. He could do no business that
day. He felt that he must go home and tell Lys-
bet : only the mother could fully understand and
share his joy. He found her cleaning the " Guild-
i-rhmd cup," the very cup Mrs. Gordon had found
Katherine cleaning when she brought the first love
message, and took back that fateful token, her bow
of orange ribbon. At that moment, Lysbet's
thoughts were entirely with Katheriue. She was
wondering whether Joris and herself might not
some day cross the ocean to see their child. When
she heard her husband's step at that early hour,
she put down the cup in fear, and stood watching
the door for his approach. The first glimpse of his
face told her that he was no messenger of sorrow.
He gave her the letter with a smile, and then
walked up and down while she read it.

" Well, Joris, a beautiful letter this is. And thou
has a grandson of thy. own name, a little Joris.
Oh, how I long to see him! I hope that he will


grow like thee, so big and handsome as thou art,
and also with thy good heart. Oh the little Joris !
Would God he was here ! "

The face of Joris was happy, and his eyes shin-
ing; but he had not yet much to say. He walked
about for an hour, and listened to Lysbet, who, as
she polished her silver, retold him all that Katberine
had said of her husband's love, and of his goodness
to her. With great attention he listened to her de-
scription of the renovated house and garden, and of
Hyde's purposes with regard to the estate. Then he
sat down and smoked his pipe, and after dinner he
returned to his pipe and his meditation. Lysbet
wondered what he was considering, and hoped that
it might be a letter of full forgiveness for her be-
loved Katherine.

At last he rose and went into the garden ; and
she watched him wander from bed to bed, and stand
looking down at the green shoots of the early
flowers, and the lovely inverted urns of the brave
snowdrops. To the river and back again, several
times he walked ; but about three o'clock he came
into the house with a firm, quick step, and, not rind-
ing Lysbet in the sitting-room, called her cheerily.
She was in their room up-stairs, and he went to

" Lysbet, thinking I have been, thinking of
Katherine's marriage. Better than I expected, it
has turned out."

"I think that Katherine has made a good mar-
riage, the best marriage of all the children."

"Dost thou believe that her husband is so kind
and so prudent as she says ? "

"No doubt I have."

" See, then : I will send Katherine her portion.
Cohen will give me the order on Secor's Bank in
ThreadneedSe Street. It is for her and her children.
Can I trust them with it ? "

" Katherine is no waster, and full of nobleness is
her husband. Write thou to him, and put it in his
charge for Katherine and her children. And tell
him in his honor thou trust entirely ; and I think


that he will do in all things right. Nothing has he
asked of thee."

" To the devil he sent my dirty guilders, made in
dirty trade. I have not forgot."

" Joris, the Devil speaks for a man in a passion.
Keep no such words in thy memory."

"Lysbet ?"

"What then, Joris?"

" The drinking-cup of silver, which my father
gave us at our marriage, the great silver one that
has on it the view of Middleburg, and the arms of
the city. It was given to my great-grandfather
when he was mayor of Middleburg. His name, also,
was Joris. To my grandson shall I send it ? "

" Oh, my Joris, much pleasure would thou give
Katherine and me also! Let the little fellow have
it. Earl of Dorset and Hyde he may be yet."

Joris blushed vividly, but he answered, " Mayor
of New York he may be yet. That will please me

" Five grandsons hast thou, but this is the first
Joris. Anna has two sons, but for his dead brothers
Kysbaack named them. Cornelia has two sons ; but
for thee they called neither, because Van Dora's
father is called Joris, and with him they are great
unfriends. And, when Joanna's son was born, they
called him Peter, because Batavius hath a rich uncle
called Peter, who may pay for the name. So, then,
Katherine's son is the first of thy grand-children
that has thy name. The dear little Joris! He has
blue eyes too ; eyes like thine, she says. Yes, I would
to him give the Middleburg cup. William New-
man the jeweler will pack it safely, and by the next
ship thou can send it to the bankers thou spoke of.
I will tell Katherine so. But thou, too, write her a
letter ; for little she will think of her fortune or of
the cup, if thy love thou send not with them."

And Joris had done all that he proposed, and
done it without one grudging thought or doubting
w r ord. The cup went, full of good-will. The money
was given as Katherine's right, and was hampered
with no restrictions but the wishes of Joris, left to


the honor of Hyde. And Hyde was not indifferent
to such noble trust. He fully determined to de-
serve it. As for Katherine, she desired no greater
pleasure than to emphasize her reliance in her hus-
band by leaving the money absolutely at his discre-
tion. In fact, she felt a far greater interest in the
Middleburg cup. It had always been an object of
her admiration and desire. She believed her son
would be proud to point it out and say, " It came
from my mother's ancestor, who was mayor of Mid-
dleburg, when that famous city ruled in the East
India trade, and compelled all vessels with spice and
wines and oils to come to the crane of Middleburg,
there to be verified and gauged." She longed to re-
ceive this gift. She had resolved to put it between
the baby fingers of little Jpris as soon as it arrived.
" A grand christening-cup it will be," she exclaimed,
with childlike enthusiasm ; and Hyde kissed her,
and promised to send it at once by a trusty mes-

He was a little amused by her enthusiasm. The
Hydes had much plate, old and new, and they were
proud of its beauty and excellence, and well aware
of its worth ; but they were not able to judge of the
value of flagons and cups and servers gathered
slowly through many generations, every one rep-
resenting some human drama of love or suffering,
or some deed of national significance. Nearly all
of Joris Van Heemskirk's silver was "stored:" it
was the materialization of honor and patriotism, of
self-denial or charity; and the silversmith's and en-

f raver's work was the least part of the Van Heems-
irk pride in it.

As Joris sat smoking that night, he thought over
his proposal ; and then for the first time it struck
him that the Middleburg cup might have a peculiar
significance and value to Bram. It cost him an
effort to put his vague suspicions into words, be-
cause by doing so he seemed to give shape and sub-
stance to shadows ; but when Lysbet sat down with
a little sigh of content beside'him, and said, "A
happy night is this to us, Joris," he answered,.


" God is good ; always better to us than we trust him
for. I want to say now what I have been consider-
ing the last hour, some other cup we will send to
the little Joris, for I think Bram will like to have
the Midclleburg cup best of all."

" Always Bram has been promised the Guilderland
cup and the server that goes with it."

" That is the truth ; but I will tell you something,
Lysbet. The Middleburg cup was given by the
Jews of Middleburg to my ancestor because great
favors and protection he gave them when he was
mayor of the city. Bram is ver}' often with Miriam
Cohen, and "

Then Joris stopped, and Lysbet waited anxiously
for him to finish the sentence; but he only puffed,
puffed, and looked thoughtfully at the bowl of his

" What mean you, Joris ? "

" I think that he loves her."


" That he would like to marry her."

" Many things that are impossible, man would like
to do : that is most impossible of all."

" You think so ? "

" I am sure of it."

" Not impossible was it for Katherine to marry one
not of her own race."

" In my mind it is not race so much as faith. Far
more than race, faith claims."

" Hyde is a Lutheran."

" A Lutheran may also be a Christian, I hope,

"I judge no man, Lysbet. I have known Jews
that were better Christians than some baptized in
the name of Christ and John Calvin, Jews who,
like the great Jew, loved God, and did to their
fellow-creatures as they wished to be done by. And
if you had ever seen Miriam Cohen, you would not
make a wonder that Bram loves her."

"Is she so fair? "

" A beautiful face and gracious ways she has.
Like her, the beloved Rachel must have been, I


think. Why do you not stand with Bram as you
stood with Katherine ? "

" Little use it would be, Joris. To give consent in
this matter, would be a sacrifice refused. Be sure
that Cohen will not listen to Bram ; no, nor to you,
nor to me, nor to Miriam. If it come to a question
of race, more proud is the Jew of his race than even
the Englishman or the Dutchman. If it come to a
question of faith, if all the other faiths in the world
die out, the Jew will hold to his own. Say to Bram,
' I am willing ; ' and Cohen will say to him, ' Never,
never will I consent.' If you keep the ' Jew's cup '
for Bram and Miriam, always you will keep it ; yes,
and they that live after you, too."

Why it is that certain trains of thought and feel-
ing move to their end at the same hour, though that
end affect a variety of persons, no one has yet ex-
plained. But there are undoubtedly currents of
sympathy of whose nature and movements we are
profoundly ignorant. Thus how often we think of
an event just before some decisive action relating to
it is made known to us! How often do we recall
some friend just as we are about to see or hear from
him ! How often do we remember something that
ought to be done, just at the last moment its suc-
cessful accomplishment was possible to us!

And at the very hour Joris and Lysbet were dis-
cussing the position of their son with regard to
Miriam Cohen, the question was being definitely
settled at another point. For Joris was not the only
person who had observed Bram's devotion to the
beautiful Jewess. Cohen had watched him with
close and cautious jealousy for many months ; but
he was far too wise to stimulate love by opposition,
and he did not believe in half measures. When he
defined Miriam's duty to her, he meant it to be in
such shape as precluded argument or uncertainty ;
and for this purpose delaj r was necessary. Much
correspondence with England had to take place, and
the mails were then irregular. But it happened,
that, after some months of negotiation, a final and
satisfactory letter had come to him by the same post


as brought Katherine's letter to Joris Van Heems-

He read its contents with a sad satisfaction, and
then locked it away until the evening hours secured
him from business interruption. Then he went to
his grandchild. He found her sitting quietly among
the cushions of a low couch. It seemed as if
Miriam's thoughts were generally sufficient for her
pleasure, for she was rarely busy. She had always
time to sit and talk, or to sit and be silent. And
Cohen liked best to see her thus, beautiful and
calm, with small hands dropped or folded, and eyes
half shut, and mouth closed, but ready to smile and
dimple if he decided to speak to her.

She looked so pretty and happy and careless, that
for some time he did not like to break the spell of
her restful beauty. Nor did he until his pipe was
quite finished, and he had looked carefully over the
notes in his " day-book." Then he said in slow, even
tones, "My child, listen to me. This summer my
young kinsman Judah Belasco will come here. He
comes to marry you. You will be a happy wife, my
dear. He has moneys, and he has the power to make
moneys ; and he is a good young man. I have been
cautious concerning that, my dear."

There was a long pause. He did not hurry her,
but sat patiently waiting, with his eyes fixed upon
the book in his hand.

" I do not want to marry, grandfather. I am so
young. I do not know Judah Belasco."

" You shall have time, my dear. It is part of the
agreement that he shall now live in New York. He
is a rich young man, my dear. He is of the sephar~
dim, as you are too, my dear. You must marry in
your own caste ; for we are of unmixed blood, faith-
ful children of the tribe of Judah. All of our
brethren here are Ashkenazem : therefore, I have had
no rest until I got a husband fit for you, my dear.
This was my duty, though I brought him from the
end of the earth. It has cost me moneys, but I gave
cheerfully. The thing is finished now, when you
are ready. But you shall not be hurried, my dear."


" Father, I have been a good daughter. Do not
make me leave you."

" You have been good, and you will be good
always. What is the command ? "

' Honor thy father and thy mother."

' And the promise ? "

' Then long shall by thy days on the earth."

' And the vow you made, Miriam ? "

' That I would never disobey or deceive you."

* Who have you vowed to ? "

' The God of Israel."

' Will you lie unto him ? "

' I would give my life first."

' Now is the time to fulfil your vow. Put from
your heart or fancy any other young man. Have you
not thought of our neighbor, Bram Van Heems-

" He is good ; he is handsome. I fear he loves

" You know not any thing. If you choose a hus-
band, or even a shoe, by their appearance, both may
pinch you, my dear. Judah is of good stock. Of a
good tree you may expect good fruit."

" Bram Van Heemskirk is also the son of a good
father. Many times you have said it."

*' Yes, I have said it. But Bram is not of our peo-
ple. And if our law forbid us to sow different seeds
at the same time in the same ground, or to graft one
kind of fruit-tree on the stock of another, shall we
dare to mingle ourselves with people alien in race
and faith, and speech and customs ? My dear, will
you take vour own way, or will YOU obey the word
of the Lord ? "

" My way cannot stand before his way."

"It is a hard thing for you, my dear. Your way
is sweet to you. Offer it as a sacrifice; bind the
sacrifice, even with cords, to the altar, if it be neces-
sary. I mean, say to Bram Van Heemskirk words
that you cannot unsay. Then there will be only one
sorrow. It is hope and fear, and fear and hope, that
make the heart sick. Be kind, and slay, hope at
once, my dear."


" If Judah had been my own choice, father "

" Choice ? My dear, when did you get wisdom ?
Do not parents choose for their children their food,-
dress, friends, and teachers ? What folly to do these
things, and then leave them in the most serious
question of life to their own wisdom, or want of wis-
dom! Choice! Eemember Van Heemskirk's daugh-
ter, and the sin and suffering her own choice cause d . "

" I think it was not her fault if two men quarreled
and fought about her."

"She was not wholly innocent. Miriam, make me
not to remember the past. My eyes are old now :
they should not weep any more. I have drunk my
cup of sorrow to the lees. O Miriam, Miriam, do
not fill it again! "

" God forbid ! My father, I will keep the promise
that I made you. I will do all that you wish."

Cohen bowed his head solemnly, and remained for
some minutes afterward motionless. His eyes were
closed, his face was as still as a painted face.
Whether he was praying or remembering, Miriam
knew not. But solitude is the first cry of the
wounded heart, and she went away into it. She was
like a child that had been smitten, and whom there
was none to comfort. But she never thought of dis-
puting her grandfather's word, or of opposing his
will. Often before he had been obliged to give her
some bitter cup, or some disappointment; but her
good had. always been the end in view. She had
perfect faith in his love and wisdom. But she suf-
fered very much ; though she bore it with that un-
complaining patience which is so characteristic of
the child heart, a patience pathetic in its resigna-
tion, and sublime in its obedience.

And it was during this hour of trial to Miriam,
that Joris was talking to Lysbet of her. It did him
good to put his fears into words, for Lysbet's assur-
ances were comfortable ; and as it had been a day
full of feeling, he was weary, and went earlier to his
room than usual. On the contrary, Lysbet was very
wakeful. She carried her sewing to the candle, and
sat down for an hour's work. The house was op-


pressively still ; and she could not help remembering
the days when it had been so different, when Anna
and Cornelia had been marriageable women, and
Joanna and Katherine growing girls. All of them
had now gone away from her. Only Bram was left,
and she thought of him with great anxiety. Such a
marriage as his father had hinted at filled her with
alarm. She could neither conquer her prejudices
nor put away her fears ; and she tormented herself
with imagining, in the event of such a misfortune,
all the disagreeable and disapproving things the
members of the Middle Kirk would have to say.

In the midst of her reflections, Bram returned.
She had not expected him so early, but the sound of
his feet was pleasant. He came in slowly; and,
after some pottering, irritating delays, he pushed
his father's chair back from the light, and with a
heavy sigh sat down in it.

" Why sigh you so heavy, Bram ? Every sigh still
lower sinks the heart."

" A light heart I shall never have again, mother."

"You talk some foolishness. A young man like
you ! A quarrel with your sweetheart, is it ? Well,
it will be over as quick as a rainy day. Then the
sunshine again."

"For me there is no hope like that. So quiet and
shy was my love."

"Oh, indeed! Of all the coquettes, the quiet, shy
ones are the worst."

" No coquette is Miriam Cohen. My love life is at
the end, mother."

" When began it, Bram ? "

" It was at the time of the duel. I loved her from>
the first moment. O mother, mother! "

" Does she not love you, Bram ? "

"I think so: many sweet hours we have had
together. My heart was full of hope."

" Her faith, Bram, should have kept you prudent.'*'

" 'In what church do you pray ? ' Love asks not
such a question. And, as for her race, I thought a

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 14 of 20)