Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 16 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 16 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and tender and pure was the neat epistle. He com-
pared it mentally with some of the shameless scented
billet-doux he was in the habit of receiving; and he
felt as if his hands were unworthy to touch the ^hite
wings of his Katherine's most womanly, wifely mes-
sage. -"She wants to see me. Oh the dear one!
Not more than I want to see her. Fool, villian, that
I am : I will go to her. Katherine ! Kate ! My dear
little Kate! " So he ejaculated as he paced his nar-
row quarters, and tried to arrange his plans for a
Christmas visit to his wife and child.

First he went to his colonel's lodging, and easily
obtained two weeks' absence ; then he dressed care-
fully, and went to his club for dinner. He had de-
termined to ask Lady Capel for a hundred pounds ;
and he thought it would be the best plan to make
his request when she was surrounded by company,
and under the pleasurable excitement of a winning
rubber. And if the circumstances proved adverse,
then he could try his fortune jn the hours of her
morning retirement.

The mansion in Berkely Square was brilliantly
lighted when he approached it. Chairs and coaches
were waiting in lines of three deep; coachmen and
footmen quarreling, shouting, talking; link-boys
running here and there in search of lost articles or
missing servants. But the hubbub did not at that
time make his blood run quicker, or give any light of
expectation to his countenance ; for his heart and
thoughts were near a hundred miles away.

Sunday night was Lady Capel's great card-night,
and the rooms were full of tables surrounded by
powdered and painted beauties intent upon the game
and the gold. The odor of musk was everywhere,



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 189

and the sound of the tapping of gold snuff-boxes,
and the fluttering of fans, and the sharp, technical
calls of the gamesters, and the hollow laughter of
hollow hearts. There was a hired singing-girl with
a lute at one end of the room, babbling of Cupid and
Daphne, and green meadow and larks. But she was
poorly dressed and indifferent looking ; and she sang
with a sad, mechanical air, as if her thoughts were
far off. Hyde would have passed her without a
glance ; but, as he approached, she broke her love-
ditty in two, and began to sing, with a meaning look
at him,

" They say there is a happy land,

Where husbands never prove untrue ;
Where lovely maids may give their hearts,

And never need the gift to rue :
Where men can make and keep a vow,

And wives are never in despair.
I'm very fond of seeing sights,

Pray tell me, how can I get there ? "

The question seemed so directly addressed to Hyde
that he hesitated a moment, and looked, at the girl,
who then with a mocking smile continued,

" They say there really is a land,

Where husbands never are untrue,
Where wives are always beautiful,

And the old love is always new.
I've asked the wise to tell me how

A loving woman could get there ;
And this is what they say to me,
' If you that happy land would see,

There's only one way to get there:
Go straight along the crooked lane,

And all around the square.' "

The scornful little song followed him, and con-
veyed a certain meaning to his mind. The girl
must have taken her cue from the gossip of those
who passed her to any fro. He burned with indig-
nation, not for herself, but for his sweet, pure Kath-
erine. He was determined that the world should in
the future know that he held her peerless among



190 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

women. In this half-aggressive mood he ap-
proached Lady Capel. She had been unfortunate
all the evening, and was not amiable. As he stood
behind her chair, Lord Leffham asked,

" What think you, Hyde, of a party at picquet ! "

" Oh, indeed, my lord, you are too much for me! "

"I will give you three points." Then, calling a
footman, "Here, fellow, get cards."

Lady Capel flung her own down. "No, no, Leff-
ham. Spare my grandson : there are bigger fish
here. Dick, I am angry at you. I have a mind to
banish you for a month."

" I am going to Norfolk for two weeks, madam."

"That will do. It is a worse punishment than I
should have given you. Norfolk ! There is only one
word between it and the plantations. At this time
of the year, it is a clay pudding full of villages.
Give me your arm, Dick : I shall play no more until
my luck turns. Losing cards are dull company."

"I am very sorry that you have been losing. I
came to ask for the loan of a hundred pounds,
grandmother."

"No, sir, I will not lend you a hundred pounds;
nor am I in the humor to do anything else you
desire."

" I make my apology for the request. I ought to
have asked Katherine."

" No, sir, you ought not to have asked Katherine.
You ought to take what you want. Jack Capel took
every shilling of my fortune and neither said, 'by
your leave,' nor ' thank you.' Did the Dutchman tie
the bag too close ? "

"Councillor Van Heemskirk left it open, in my
honor. When I am scoundrel enough to touch it,
I shall not come and see you at all, grandmother."

" Upon my word, a very pretty compliment ! Well,
sir, I'll pay you a hundred pounds for it. When do
you start?"

" To-morrow morning."

" Make it afternoon, and take care of me as far as
your aunt Julia's. The duke is of the royal bed-
chamber this month, and I am going to see my



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 191

daughter while he is away. It will make him su-
premely wretched at court to know that I am in his
house. So I am going there, and I shall take care
he knows it."

" I have heard a great deal of his new house."

"A play-house kind of affair, Dick, I assure you,
all in the French style ; gods and goddesses above
your head, and very badly dressed nymphs all
around, and his pedigree on every window, and his
coat-of-arms on the very stairs. I have the greatest
satisfaction in treading upon them, I assure you."

" Why do you take the trouble to go ? It can give
you no pleasure."

" Imagine the true state of things, Dick. The
duke is at court, say he is holding the royal gold
wash-basin; but in the very sunshine of King
George's smile, he is thinking, ' That snuffy old
woman is lounging in my white and gilt satin chairs,
and handling all my Chinese curiosities, and asking
if every hideous Hindoo idol is a fresh likeness of me.'
I am always willing to take some trouble to give
pleasure to the people I like ; I will gladly go to any
amount of trouble to annoy the people I hate as cor-
dially as I hate my good, rich, noble son-in-law, the .
great Duke of Exmouth."

" Will you play again ? "

" No : I lost seventy pounds to-night."

" I protest, grandmother, that such high stakes
go not with amusement. People come here, not for
civility, but for the chance of money."

"Very well, sir. Money! It is the only excuse
for card-playing. All the rest is sinning without
temptation. But, Dick, put on the black coat to
preach in, why do they wear black to preach in ?
and I am not in a humor for a sermon. Come, to-
morrow at one o'clock : we shall reach Julia's before
dinner. And I dare say you want money to-night.
Here are the keys of my desk. In the right-hand
drawer are some rouleaus of fifty pounds each.
Take two."

The weather, as Lady Capel said, was " so very
Decemberish " that the roads were passably good,



192 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

being frozen dry and hard ; and on the evening of
the third day Hyde carne in sight of his home. His
heart warmed to the lonely place ; and the few lights
in its windows beckoned him far more pleasantly
than the brilliant illuminations of Vauxhall or Al-
macks, or even the cold splendors of royal recep-
tions. He had given Katherine no warning of his
visit, partly because he had a superstitious feeling
about talking of expected joys (he had noticed that
when he did so they vanished beyond his grasp) ;
partly because love, like destiny, loves surprises;
and he wanted to see with his own eyes, and hear
with his own ears, the glad tokens of her happy
wonder.

So he rode his horse upon the turf, and, seeing a
light in the stable, carried him there at once. It
was just about the hour of the evening meal, and
the house was brighter than it would have been a
little later. The kitchen fire threw great lustres
across the brick-paved yard ; and the blinds in
Katherine's parlor were undrawn, and its fire and
candle light shone on the freshly laid tea-table, and
the dark walls gleaming with bunches of holly and
mistletoe. But she was not there. He only glanced
inside the room, and then, with a smile on his face,
went swiftly up-stairs. He had noticed the light in
the upper windows, and he knew where he would
find his wife. Before he reached the nursery, he
heard Katherine's voice. The door was a little open,
and be could see every part of the charming domes-
tic scene within the room. A middle-aged woman
was quietly putting to rights the sweet disorder in-
cident to the undressing of the baby. Katherine
had played with it until they were both a little
flushed and weary; and she was softly singing to
the drowsy child at her breast.

It was a very singular, chiming melody, and the
low, sweet, tripping syllables were in a language
quite unknown to him. But he thought he had never
heard music half so sweet and tender; and he lis-
tened to it, and watched the drowsy, swaying move-
ments of the mother, with a strange delight,



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 193

11 Trip a trop a tronies'
De varkens in de boonjes,
De keojes in de klaver,
De paardeen in de haver,
De eenjes in de waterplass,
So groot mijn kleine Joris wass." *

Over and over, softer and slower, went the mel-
ody. It was evident that the boy was asleep, and
that Katherine was going to lay him in his cradle.
He watched her do it; watched* her gently tuck in
the cover, and stand a moment to look down at the
child. Then with a face full of love she turned
away, smiling, and quite unconsciously came toward
him on tiptoes. With his face beaming, with his
arms opened, he entered; but with such a sympa-
thetic understanding of the sweet need of silence
and restraint, that there was no alarm, no outcry,
no fuss or amazement. Only a whispered " Kather-
ine," and the swift rapture of meeting hearts and
lips.



CHAPTEKXIII. .

THE TURN OF THE TIDE.

"Death asks for no man's leave,
But lifts the latch, and enters, and sits down."

4i Each hour brought her its sunny task, its busy hope."

" The faults of love by love are justified."
" It takes two to tell a lie, one to speak, and the other to listen."

THE great events of most lives occur in epochs. A
certain period is marked by a succession of import-
ant changes ; but that tide of fortune, be it good or
ill, culminates, recedes, goes quite out, and leaves

* Mrs. Vanderbilt of Flatbush says this was the common lullaby
In all the Dutch settlements on the Hudson. A free translation is,
that the mother's knee is for a little child a little throne, where he
can be as happy as pigs in beans, or cows in clover, or horses
among oats, or ducks in the water.



194 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

life on a level beach of commonplaces. Then, sooner
or later, the current of affairs turns again ; some-
times with a calm, irresistible flow, sometimes in a
tidal wave of sudden and overwhelming strength.
After Hyde's and Katherine's marriage, there was a
long era noticeable only for such vicissitudes as
were incident to their fortune and position. But in
May, A. D. 1774, the first murmur of the returning
tide of destiny was heard. Not but what there had
been for long some vague and general expectation
of momentous events, which would touch many in-
dividual lives; but, this May night, a singular
prescience of change made Hyde restless and impa-
tient.

It was a dull, drizzling evening; and there was an
air of depression in the city, to which he was unus-
ually sensitive. For the trouble between England
and her American Colonies was rapidly culminating ;
and party feeling ran high, not only among civilians,
but throughout the royal regiments. Recently, also,
a petition had been laid before the king from the
Americans then resident in London, praying him
not to send troops to coerce his subjects in America ;
and, when Hyde entered his club, some members
were engaged in an angry altercation on this sub-
ject.

" The petition was flung upon the table, as it
ought to have been," said Lord Pa'get.

"You are right," replied Mr. Hervey: "they
ought to petition no longer. They ought now to re-
sist. Mr. Dunning said in the House last night that
the tone of the Government to the Colonies was,
'Resist, and we will cut your throats; acquiesce,
and we will tax you.' "

" A kind of ' stand and deliver' government," re-
marked Hyde, whistling softly.

Lord Paget turned upon him with hardly con-
cealed anger. "Captain, you, sir, wear the king's
livery."

"I give the king my service: my thoughts are
my own. And, faith, Lord Paget, it is my humor
to utter them when and how I please! "



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 195

" Patience, gentlemen," returned Mr. Hervey.
" I think, my lord, we may follow our leaders. The
Duke of Eichmond spoke warmly for Boston last
night. ' The Bostonians are punished without a
hearing,' he said; 'and, if they resist punishment,
I wish them success.' Are they not Englishmen,
and many of them born on English soil ? When
have Englishmen submitted to oppression ? Neither
king, lords, nor commons can take away the rights
of the people. It is past a doubt, too, that his
Majesty, at the levee last night, laughed when he
said he would just as lief fight the Bostonians as
the French. I heard this speech was received with
a dead silence, and that great offence was given by

" I think the king was right," said Paget passion-
ately. " Rebellious subjects are worse than open
enemies like the French."

" My lord, you must excuse me if I do not agree
with your opinions. Was the king right to give a
government to the Canadians at this precise time ?
What can his Protestant North American subjects
think, but that he designs the hundred thousand
Catholics of Canada against their liberties? It is
intolerable; and the king was mobbed this after-
noon in the park, on the matter. As for the bishops
who voted the Canada bill, they ought to be un-
frocked."

" Mr. Hervey, I beg to remind you that my uncle,
who is of the see of St. Cuthbert, voted for it."

"Oh, it is notorious that all the English bishops,
excepting only Dr. Shipley, voted for war with
America ! I hear that they anticipate an hierarchy
there when the country is conquered. And the fight
has begun at home, for Parliament is dissolved on
the subject."

"It died in the Roman-Catholic faith," laughed
Hyde, " and left us a rebellion for a legacy."

" Capt. Hyde, you are a traitor."

" Lord Paget, I deny it. My loyalty does not
compel me to swear by all the follies and crimes of
the Government. My sword is my country's ; but I



196 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

would not, for twenty kings, draw it against my
own countrymen," then with a meaning glance at
Lord Paget, and an emphatic touch of his weapon,
" except in my own private quarrel. And, if this
be treason, let the king look to it. He will find such
treason in every regiment in England. They say
he is going to hire Hessians : he will need them for
his American business, for he has no prerogative to
force Englishmen to murder Englishmen."

" I would advise you to be more prudent, Capt.
Hyde, if it is in your power."

" I would advise you to mind your own affairs,
Lord Paget."

" It is said that you married an American."

" If you are perfectly in your senses, my lord,
leave my affairs alone."

"For my part, I never believed it; and now that
Lady Suffolk is a widow, with revenues, possibly
you may"

"Ah, you are jealous, I perceive!" and Hyde
laughed scornfully, and turned on his heel as if to
go up-stairs.

Lord Paget , followed, and laid his hand upon
Hyde's arm.

"Hands off, my lord. Hands off all that belongs
to me. And I advise you also to cease your imper-
tinent attentions to my cousin Lady Suffolk."

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Hervey, " this is no time
for private quarrels; and, captain, here is a fellow
with a note for you. It is my Lady Capel's footman,
and he says he comes in urgent speed."

Hyde glanced at the message. " It is a last com-
mand, Mr. Hervey ; and I must beg you to say what
is proper for my honor to Lord Paget. Lady Capel
is at the death-point, and to her requests I am first
bounden."

It was raining hard when he left the club, a most
dreary night in the city. The coach rattled through
the muday streets, and brought, as it went along,
many a bored, heavy countenance to the steaming
windows, to watch and to wonder at its pace. Lady
CJapel had been death-stricken while at whist, and



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 197

she had not been removed from the parlor in which
she had been playing her last game: She was
stretched upon a sofa in the midst of the deserted
tables, yet covered with scattered cards and half-
emptied tea-cups. Only Lady Suffolk and a physi-
cian were with her ; though the corridor was full of
terrified, curious servants, not unkindly gloating
over such a bit of sensation in their prosaic lives.

At this hour it was evident, that, above every
thing in the world, the old lady had loved the wild,
extravagant grandson, whose debts she had paid
over and over, whom she had for years alternately
petted and scolded.

"O Dick," she whispered, "I've got to die! We
all have. I've had a good time, Dick."

" Shall I go for cousin Harold ? I can bring him
in an hour."

"No, no. I want no priests; no better than we
are, Dick. Harold is a proud sinner; Lord, what a
proud sinner he is ! " Then, with a glint of her usual
temper, "He'd snub the twelve apostles if he met
them without mitres. No priests, Dick. It is you I
want. I have left you eight thousand pounds, all
I could save, Dick. Every thing goes back to Wil-
liam now; but the eight thousand pounds is yours.
Arabella is witness to it. Dick, Dick, you will think
of me sometimes ? "

And Hyde kissed her fondly. Ugly, heartless, sin-
ful, she might be to others ; but to him she had been
a double mother. "I'll never forget you," he an-
swered, "never, grandmother."

" I know what the town will say : ' Well, well, old
Lady Capel has gone to her deserts at last.' Don't
mind them, Dick. Let them talk. They will have
to go too: it's the old round, meat and mirth, and
then to bed a long sleep."

"Grandmother?"

"I hear you, Dick. Good-night."

" Is there any thing yon want done ? Think, dear
grandmother."

" Don't let Exmouth come to my funeral. I don't
want him grinning over my coffin."



198 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

" Any other thing ? "

" Put me beside Jack Capel. I wonder if I shall
seek Jack." A shadow, gray and swift, passed
over her face. Her eyes flashed one piteous look into
Hyde's eves, and then closed forever.

And while in the rainy, dreary London twilight
Lady Capel was dying, Katherine was in the garden
at Hyde Manor, watching the planting of seeds that
were in a few weeks to be living things of beauty
and sweetness. It had ceased raining at noon in
Norfolk ; and the gravel walks were perfectly dry,
and the air full of the fragrance of innumerable
violets. All the level land was wearing buttercups.
Full of secrets, of fluttering wings, and building
nests were the trees. In the apple-blooms the bees
were humming, delirious with de*light. From the
beehives came the peculiar and exquisite odor of
virgin wax. Somewhere near, also, the gurgle of
running water spread an air of freshness all around.

And Katherine, with a little basket full of flower-
seeds, was going with the gardener from bed to bed,
watching him plant them. No one who had seen
her in the childlike loveliness of her early girlhood
could have imagined the splendor of her matured
beauty. She had grown " divinely tall," and the
exercise of undisputed authority had added a gra-
cious stateliness of manner. Her complexion was
wonderful, her large blue eyes shining with tender
lights, her face full of sympathetic revelations.
Above all, she had that nameless charm which comes
from a freedom from all anxious thought for the
morrow; that charm of which the sweet secret is

generally lost after the twentieth summer. Her
asket of seeds was clasped to her side within the
hollow of her left arm, and with her right hand she
lifted a long petticoat of quilted blue satin. Above
this garment she wore a gown of wood-colored
taffeta, sprigged with rose-buds, and a stomacher of
fine lace to match the deep rufflings on her elbow-
sleeves.

Little Joris was with his mother, running hither
and thither, as his eager spirits led him ; now paus-



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 199

ing to watch her drop from her white fingers the
precious seed into its prepared bed, anon darting
after some fancied joy among the pyramidal yews,
and dusky treillages, and cradle walks of holly and
privit. For, as Sir Thomas S waff ham said, " Hyde
garden looked just as if brought from Holland;"
and especially so in the spring, when it was ablaze
with gorgeous tulips and hyacinths.

She had heard much of Lady Capel, and she had
a certain tenderness for the old woman who loved
her husband so truly ; but no thought of her entered
into Katheriue's mind that calm evening hour.
Neither had she any presentiment of sorrow. Her
soul was happy and untroubled, and she lingered in
the sweet place until the tender touch of gray twi-
light was over fen and field. Then her maid, with a
manner full of pleasant excitement, came to her, and
said,

" Here be a London peddler, madam ; and he do
have all the latest fashions, and the news of the king
and the Americans.**

Now, for many reasons, the advent of a London
peddler was a great and pleasant event at the Manor
House. Katharine had that delightful and excus-
able womanly foible, a. love of fine clothing; and
shops for its sale were very rare, even in towns of
considerable size. It was from packmen and hawk-
ers that fine ladies bought their laces and ribbons
and gloves ; their precious toilet and hair pins, their
paints and powders, and India scarfs, and fans, and
even jewelry. These hawkers were also .the great
news-bearers to the lonely halls and granges and
farmhouses; and they were everywhere sure of a
welcome, and of such entertainment as they re-
quired. Generally each peddler had his recognized
route and regular customers; but occasionally a
strange dealei called, and such, having unfamiliar
wares, was doubly welcome. "Is it Parkins, Let-
tice ? " asked Katherine, as she turned with interest
toward the house.

"No, ma'am, it isn't Parkins; and I do think as
the man never showed a face in Hyde before ; but he
do say that he has a miracle of fine things."



200 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

In a few minutes he was exhibiting them to Kath-
erine, and she was too much interested in the wares
to notice their merchant particularly. Indeed, he
had one of those faces which reveal nothing ; a face
flat, hard, secret as a wall, wrinkled as an old ban-
ner. He was a hale, thick-set man, dressed in
breeches of corduroy, and a sleeved waistcoat down
to his knees of the same material. His fur cap was
on the carpet beside his pack ; and he had a fluent
tongue in praise of his wares, as he hung his silks
over Lettice's outstretched arm, or arranged the
scarfs across her shoulders.

There was a slow but mutually satisfactory ex-
change of goods and money ; and then the peddler
began to repack his treasures, and Lettice to carry
away the pretty trifles and the piece of satin her
mistress had bought. Then, also, he found time to
talk, to take out the last newspapers, and to describe
the popular dissatisfaction at the stupid tyranny of
the Government toward the Colonies. For either
from information, or by some process rapid as in-
stinct, he understood to which side Katherine's
sympathies went.

* " Here be the ' Flying Postman,' madam, with the
great speech of Mr. Burke in it about the port of
Boston; but it won't do a mossel o' good, madam,
though he do tell 'em to keep their hands out o' the
Americans' pockets."

" The port of Boston ? "

"See you, madam, they are a-going to shut the
port o' Boston, and make Salem the place of entry ;
that's to punish the Bostonians ; and Mr. Burke, he
says, 'The House has been told that Salem is only
seventeen miles from Boston ; but justice is not an
idea of geography, and the Americans are condemned
without being heard. Yet the universal custom, on


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19 20

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 16 of 20)