Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 18 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 18 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the intention of Semple's servant to remove the
token from her senseless lover's breast, and her
father's noble interference. The bit of fateful ribbon
had had a strange history, yet she had forgotten it.
It was her husband who had carefully sealed it away
among the things most precious to his heart and
house. It still kept much of its original splendid
color, but it was stained down all its length with
blood. Nothing that Hyde could have done, no
words that he could have said, would have been so
potent to move her.

" I will give it to him again. With my own hands
I will give it to him once more. O Richard, my
lover, my husband! Now I will hasten to see thee."

With relays at every post-house, she reached Lon-
don the next night, and, weary and terrified, drove
at once to the small hostlery where Hyde lay. There
was a soldier sitting outside his chamber-door, but
the wounded man was quite alone when Katherine
entered. She took in at a glance the bare, comfort-
less room, scarcely lit by the sputtering rush candle,
and the rude bed, and the burning cheeks of the
fevered man upon it.

"Katherine!" he cried; and his voice was as
weak and as tearful as that of a troubled child.

"Here come I, my dear one."

" I do not deserve it. I have been so wicked, and
you my good pure wife."

"See, then, I have had no temptations, but thou
hast lived in the midst of great ones. Then, how
natural and how easy was it for thee to do wrong! "

" Oh, how you love me, Katherine! "

" God knows."

" And for this wrong you will not forsake me ? "

She took from her bosom the St. Nicholas ribbon.
" I give it to thee again. At the first time I loved
thee ; now, my husband, ten thousand times more I
love thee. As I went through the papers, I found it.
So much it said to me of thy true love ! Sp sweetly
for thee it pleaded ! All that it asks for thee, I give.
All that thou hast done wrong to me, it forgives."


And between their clasped hands it lay, the bit of
orange ribbon that had handseled all their happi-

"It is the promise of every thing I can give thee,
my loved one," whispered Katherine.

"It is the luck of Kichard Hyde. Dearest wife,
thou hast given me my life back again."



"Wise men ne'er sit and wail their woes,
But presently prevent the ways to wail."

"Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just;
And he but naked, though locked up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted."

"Let determined things to destiny
Hold unbewailed their way."

IT was a hot August afternoon ; and the garden at
Hyde Manor was full of scent in all its shady places,
hot lavender, seductive carnajum, the secretive
intoxication of the large white lilies, and mingling
with them the warm smell of ripe fruits from the
raspberry hedges, and the apricots and plums turn-
ing gold and purple upon the southern walls.

Hyde sat at an open window, breathing the balmy
air, and basking in the light and heat, which really
came to him with "healing on their wings." He
was pale and wasted from his long sickness; but
there was speculation and purpose in his face, and
he had evidently cast away the mental apathy of the
invalid. As he sat thus, a servant entered and said
a few words which made him turn with a glad, ex-
pectant manner to the open door; and, as he did so,
a man of near sixty years of age passed through it,


a handsome, lordly-looking man, who had that
striking personal resemblance to Hyde which affec-
tionate brothers often have to one another.

"Faith, William, you are welcome home! I am
most glad to see you."

"Sit still, Dick. You sad rascal, you've been
playing with cold steel again, I hear! Can't you let
it alone, at your age ? "

" Why, then, it was my business, as you know,
sir. My dear William, how delighted I am to see

" 'Tis twelve years since we met, Dick. You have
been in- America ; I have been everywhere. I con-
fess, too, I am amazed to hear of your marriage.
And Hyde Manor is a miracle. T expected to find it
mouldy and mossy, a haunt for frogs and fever.
On the contrary, it is a place of perfect beauty."
" And it is all my Katherine's doing."

" I hear that she is Dutch ; and, beyond a doubt,
that people have a genius that develops in low lands. "

"She is my angel. I am unworthy of her good-
ness and beauty.

"Why, then, Dick, I never saw you before in such
a proper mood ; and I may .s well tell you, while
you are in it, that I have also found a treasure past
belief of the same kind. In fact, Dick, I am married,
and have two sons."

There was a moment's profound silence, and an
* inexplicable shadow passed rapidly over Hyde's face ;
but it was fleeting as a thought, and, ere the pause
became strained and painful, he turned to his brother
and said, " I am glad, William. With all my heart,
I am glad."

"Indeed, Dick, when Emily Capel died, I was sin-
cere in my purpose never to marry; and I looked
upon you always as the future earl, until one night
in Rome, in a moment, the thing was altered."

"I can understand that, William."

" I was married very quietly, and have been in
Italy ever since. Only four days have elapsed since
I returned to England. My first inquiries were
about you."


''I pray you, do not believe all that my enemies
will say of me."

" Among other things, I was told that you had left
the army."

"That is exactly true. When I heard that Lord
Percy's regiment "was designed for America, and
against the Americans, I put it out of the king's
power to send me on such a business."

"Indeed, I think the Americans have been ill-
used ; and I find the town in a great commotion
upon the matter. The night I landed, there had
come bad news from New York. The people of that
city have burned effigies of Lord North and Gov.
Hutchinson, and the new troops were no sooner
landed than five hundred of them deserted in a body.
At White's it was said that the king fell into a fit of
crying when the intelligence was brought him."

Hyde's white face was crimson with excitement,
and his eyes glowed like stars as he listened. "That
was like New York ; and, faith, if I had been there, I
would have helped them ! "

"Why not go there? I owe you much for the
hope, of which my happiness has robbed you. I will
take Hyde Manor at its highest price ; I will add to
it fifty thousand pounds indemnity for the loss of
the succession. You may buy land enough for a
duchy there, and found in the New World a new
line of the old family. If there, is war, you have
your opportunity. If the colonists win their way,
your family and means will make you a person of
great consideration. Here, you can only be a mem-
ber of the family ; in America, you can be the head
of your own line. Dick, my dear brother, out of real
love and honor, I speak these words."

" Indeed, William, I am very sensible of your
kindness, and I will consider well your proposition ;
for you must know it is a matter of some conse-
quence to me now. I think, indeed, that my Kath-
erine will be in a transport of delight to return to
her native land. I hear her coming, and we will
talk with her; and, anon, you shall confess, William,
that you have seen the sweetest woman that ever
the sun shone upon."


Almost with the words she entered, clothed in a
white India muslin, with carnations at her breast.
Her high-heeled shoes, her large hoop, and the
height to which her pale gold hair was raised, gave
to the beautiful woman an air of majesty that
amazed the earl. He bowed low, and then kissed
her cheeks, and led her to a chair, which he placed
between Hyde and himself.

Of course, the discussion of the American project
was merely opened at that time. English people,
even at this day, move only after slow and prudent
deliberation ; and then emigration was almost an ir-
revocable action. Katherine was predisposed to it,
but yet she dearly loved the home she had made so
beautiful. During Hyde's convalescence, also, other
plans had been made and talked over until they had
become very hopeful and pleasant ; and they could
not be cast aside without some reluctance. In fact,
the purpose grew slowly, but surely, all through the
following winter; being mainly fed by Katherine's
loving desire to be near to her parents, and by
Hyde's unconfessed desire to take part in the strug-
gle which he foresaw, and which had his warmest
sympathy. Every American letter strengthened
these feelings ; but the question was finally settled
as many an important event in every life is settled
by a person totally unknown to both Katherine and

It was on a cold, stormy afternoon in February,
when the fens were white with snow. Hyde sat by
the big wood-fire, re-reading a letter from Joris Van
Heemskirk, which also enclosed a copy of Josiah
Quincy's speech on the Boston Port Bill. Katherine
had a piece of worsted work in her hands. Little
Joris was curled up in a big chair with his book,
seeing nothing of the present, only conscious of the
gray, bleak waves of the English Channel, and the
passionate Blake bearing down upon Tromp and De

" What a battle that would be ! " he said, jumping
to his feet. " Father, I wish that I had lived a hun-
dred years ago."


" What are you talking about, George ? "

"Listen, then: 'Eighty sail put to sea under
Blake. Tromp and De Euyter, with seventy-six
sail, were seen, upon the 18th of February, escorting
three hundred merchant-ships up the channel.
Three days of desperate fighting ensued, and Tromp
acquired prodigious honor by this battle; for,
though defeated, he saved nearly the whole of his
immense convoy.' I wish I had been with Tromp,

"But an English boy should wish to have been
with Blake."

" Tromp had the fewest vessels. One should al-
ways help the weakest side, father. And, besides,
you know I am half Dutch."

Katherine looked proudly at the boy, but Hyde
had a long fit of musing. " Yes," he answered at
length, "a brave man always helps those who need
it most. Your father's letter, Katherine, stirs me
wonderfully. Those Americans show the old Saxon
love of liberty. Hear how one of them speaks for
his people: 'Blandishments will not fascinate us,
nor will threats of a halter intimidate. For, under
God, we are determined that wheresoever, whenso-
ever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our
exit, we will die free men.'* Such men ought to be
free, Katherine, and they will be free."

It was at this moment Lettice came in with a bun-
dle of newspapers : " They be' brought by Sir
Thomas Swaffham's man, sir, with Sir Thomas's
compliments ; there being news he thinks you would
like to read, sir."

Katherine turned promptly. "Spiced ale and
bread and meat give to the man, Lettice ; and to Sir
Thomas and Lady Swaffham remind him to take
,our respectful thanks."

Hyde opened .the papers with eager curiosity.
Little Joris was again with Tromp and Blake in the
channel ; and Katherine, remembering some house-
hold duty, left the father and son to their private
enthusiasms. She was restless and anxious, for she

* Josiah Quincy's (jun.) speech on the Boston Port Bill, 1774.


had one of those temperaments that love a settled
and orderly life. It would soon be spring, and there
were a thousand things about the house and garden
which would need her attention if they were to re-
main at Hyde. If not, her anxieties in other direc-
tions would be equally numerous and necessary.
She stood at a window looking into the white gar-
den. Something about it recalled her father's gar-
den ; and she fell into such a train of tender mem-
ories, that, when Hyde called quickly, " Kate, Kate ! "
she found that there were tears in ner eyes, and that
it was with an effort and a sigh her soul returned to
its present surroundings.

Hyde was walking about the room in great excite-
ment, his tall, nervous figure unconsciously throw-,
ing itself into soldierly attitudes; his dark, hand-
some face lit by an interior fire of sympathetic feel-

" I must draw my sword agkin, Katherine," he
said, as his hand impulsively went to his left side,
"I must draw my sword again. I thought I had
done with it forever; but, by St. George, I'll draw it
in this quarrel! "

" The American quarrel, Richard ? "

" No other could so move me. "We have the intel-
ligence now of their congress. They have not sub-
mitted ; they have not drawn back, not an inch ;
they have not quarreled among themselves. They
have unanimously voted for non-importation, non-
exportation, and non-consumption. They have
drawn up a declaration of their rights. They have
appealed to the sympathies of the people of Canada,
and they have resolved to support by arms all their
brethren unlawfully attacked. Hurrah, Katherine!
Every good man and true wishes them well."

" But it is treason, dear one."

" Soh ! It was treason when the barons forced the
Great Charter from King John. It was treason
when Hampden fought against 'ship-money,' and
Cromwell against Star Chambers, and the Dutch-
man William laid his firm hand on the British Con-
stitution. All revolutions are treason until they are


accomplished. We have long hesitated, \\e will
waver no more. The conduct of Sir Jeffery Amherst
has decided me."

"I know it not.'*

" On the 6th of this month the king offered him
a peerage if he would take command of the troops
for America; and he answered, 'Your Majesty must
know that I cannot bring myself to fight the Amer-
icans, who are not only of my own race, but to whose
former kindness I am also much obliged.' By the
last mail, also, accounts have come of vast deser-
tions of the soldiers of Boston ; and three officers
of Lord Percy's regiment are among the number.
Katherine, our boy has told me this afternoon that
he is half Dutch. "Why should we stay in England,
then, for his sake ? We will do as Earl William ad-
vises us, go to America and found a new house, of
which I and he will be the heads. Are you will-

" Only to be with you, only to please you, Richard.
I have no other happiness."

" Then it is settled ; and I thank Sir Jeffery Am-
herst, for his words have made me feel ashamed of
my indecision. And look you, dear Kate, there shall

i you be ready ]

" You are too impatient, Richard. In a week it is

" Then in two weeks. In short, my dear, I have
taken an utter aversion to being longer in King
George's land."

" Poor king ! Lady Swaffham says he means well :
he misunderstands, he makes mistakes."

"And political mistakes are crimes, Katherine.
Write to-night to your father. Tell him that we
are coming in two weeks to cast our lot with America.
Upon my honor, I am impatient to be away."

When Joris Van Heeinskirk received this letter,
he was very much excited by its contents. Putting
aside his joy at the return of his beloved daughter,
he perceived that the hour expected for years had


really struck. The true sympathy that had been so
long in his heart, he must now boldly express; and
this meant in all probability a rapture with most of
his old associates and friends, Elder Semple in the
kirk, and the Matthews and Crugers and Baches in
the council.

He was sitting in the calm evening, with unloos-
ened buckles, in a cloud of fragrant tobacco, talking
of these things. " It is full time, come what will,"
said Lysbet. " Heard thou what Batavius said last

" Little I listen to Batavius."

" But this was a wise word. IThe colonists are
leaving the old ship,' he said; 'and the first in the
new boat will have the choice of oars.' "

" That was like Batavius, but I will take higher
counsel than his."

Then he rose, put on his hat, and walked down
his garden ; and, as he slowly paced between the
beds of budding flowers, he thought of many things,
the traditions of the past struggles for freedom,
and the irritating wrongs that had imbittered his
own experience for ten years. There was plenty
of life yet in the spirit hfs fathers had bequeathed
to him ; and, as this and that memory of wrong
smote it, the soul-fire kindled, glowed, burned with
passionate flame. "Free, God gave us this fair
land, and we will keep it free. There has been in
it no crowns and sceptres, no bloody Philips, no
priestly courts of cruelty; and, in God's name, we
will have none! "

He was standing on the river-bank; and the
meadows over it were green and fair to see, and the
fresh wind blew into his soul a thought of its own
untrammelled liberty. He looked up and down the
river, and lifted his face to the clear sky, and said
aloud, "Beautiful land! To be thy children we
should not deserve, if one inch of thy soil we yielded
to a tyrant. Truly a vaderland to me and to mine
thou hast been. Truly do I love thee." And then,
his soul being moved to its highest mark, he an-
swered it tenderly, in the strong-syllabled mother-
tongue that it knew so well,


" Indien ik u vergeet, o Yaderland ! zoo vergete
mijne regter-hand zich zelve ! "

Such communion he held with himself until the
night came on, and the dew began to fall; and
Lysbet said to herself, " I will walk down the gar-
den : perhaps there is something I can say to him."
As she rose, Joris entered, and they met in the
centre of the room. He put his large hands upon
her shoulders, and, looking solemnly in her face,
said, " My Lysbet, I will go with the people ; I will
give myself willingly to the cause of freedom. A
long battle is it. Two hundred years ago, a Joris
Van Heemskirk was fighting in it. Not less of man
than he was, am I, I hope."

There was a mist of tears over his eyes, a mist
that was no dishonor : it only showed that the cost
had been fully counted, and his allegiance given
with a clear estimate of the value and sweetness of
all that he might have to give with it. Lysbet was
a little awed by the solemnity of his manner. She
had not before understood tne grandeur of such a
complete surrender of self as her husband had just
consummated. But never had she been so proud of
him. Every thing commonplace had slipped away :
he looked taller, younger, handsomer. She dropped
her knitting to her feet, she put her arms
around his neck, and, laying her head upon his
breast, said softly, "My good Jpris! I will love
thee forever."

In a few minutes Elder Semple came in. He
looked exceedingly worried ; and, although Joris
and he avoided politics by a kind of tacit agreement,
he could not keep to kirk and commercial matters,
but constantly returned to one subject, a vessel
lying at Murray's Wharf, which had sold her cargo
of molasses and rum to the " Committee of Safety."

" And we'll be haeing the custom-house about the
city's ears, if there's ' safety ' in that, the born
idiots," he said.

Joris was in that grandly purposeful mood that

* If I forget thee, O Fatherland ! let ray right hand forget her
cunning. Ps. cxxxvii. 5.


takes no heed of fretful worries. He let the elder
drift from one grievance to another; and he was
just in the middle of a sentence containing his
opinion of Sears and Willet, when Bram's entrance
arrested it. There was something in the young
man's face and attitude which made every one turn
to him. He walked straight to the side of Joris,

" Father, we have closed his Majesty's custom-
house forever.''

" We ! Who, then, Bram ? 5J

" The Committee of Safety and the Sons of Lib-

Semple rose to his feet, trembling with passion.
'* Let me tell you, then, Bram, you are a parcel o'
rogues and rebels; and, if I were his Majesty, I'd.
gibbet the last ane o' you."

" Patience, elder. Sit down, I'll speak "

"No, councillor, I'll no sit down until I ken what
kind o' men I'm sitting wi'. Got wi' your maist-
secret thoughts. Wha are you for ? "

" For the people and for freedom, am I," said
Joris, calmly rising to his feet. " Too long have we
borne injustice. My fathers would have spoken by
the sword before this. Free kirk, free state, free
commerce, are the breath of our nostrils. Not a
king on earth our privileges and rights shall touch ;
no, not with his finger-tips. Bram, my son, I am
your comrade in this quarrel." He spoke with fer-
vent, but not rapid speech, and with a firm, round
voice, full of magical sympathies.

" I'll hear nae mair o' such folly. Gie me my bon-
net and plaid, madam, and I'll be going. The King
o' England needna ask his Dutch subjects for leave
to wear his crown, I'm thinking."

"Subjects!" said Bram, flashing up. "Subjec*
tion! Well, then, elder, Dutchmen don't understand
the word. Spain found that out."

" Hoots ! dinna look sae far back, Bram. It's a far
cry, to Alva and Philip. Hae you naething fresher ?
Gude-night, a'. I hope the morn will bring you a
measure o' common-sense." He was at the door as
he spoke ; but, ere he passed it, he lifted his bonnet


above his head and said, "God save the king! God
save his gracious Majesty, George of England ! "

Joris turned to his son. To shut up the king's
customs, was an overt act of treason. Bram, then,
had fully committed himself; and, following out his
own thoughts, he asked abruptly, "What will come
of it, Bram ? "

" War will come, and liberty, a great common-
wealth, a great country."

" It was about the sloop at Murray's Wharf ? "

" Yes. To the Committee of Safety her cargo she
sold ; but Collector Cruger would not that it should
leave the vessel, although offered was the full

" For use against the king, were the goods ; then
Cruger, as a servant of King George, did right."

" Oh, but if a tyrant a man serves, we cannot suf-
fer wrong that a good servant he maybe! King
George through him refused the duty: no more du-
ties will we offer him. We have boarded up the
doors and windows of the custom-house. Collector
Oruger has a long holiday."

He did not speak lightly, and his air was that of a
man who accepts a grave responsibility. "I met
Sears and about thirty men with him on Wall Street.
I went with them, thinking well on what I was go-
ing to do. I am ready by the deed to stand."

" And I with thee. Good-night, Bram. To-mor-
row there will be more to say."

Then Bram drew his chair to the hearth, and his
mother began to question him ; and her fine face
grew finer as she listened to the details of the ex-
ploit. Bram looked at her proudly. " I wish only
that a fort full of soldiers and cannon it had been,"
he said. " It does not seem such a fine thing to
take a few barrels of rum and molasses."

"Every common thing is a fine thing when it is
for justice. And a fine thing I think it was for these
men to lay down every one his work and his tool,
and quietly and orderly go do the work that was to
be done for honor and for freedom. If there had
been flying colors and beating drums, and much


blood v spilt, no grander thing would it have been, I

And, as Bram filled and lighted his pipe, he
hummed softly the rallying song of the day,

" In story we're told

How our fathers of old
Braved the rage of the winds and the waves ;
And crossed the deep o'er,
For this far-away shore,

All because they would never be slaves brave boys !
All because they would never be slaves.

"The birthright we hold

Shall never be sold.
But sacred maintained to our graves ;
And before we comply
We will gallantly die,

For we will not, we will not be slaves, brave boys !
For we will not, we will not be slaves."

In the mean time Semple, fuming and ejaculating,
was making his way slowly home. It was a dark
night, and the road full of treacherous soft places,
fatal to that spotless condition of hose and shoes
which was one of his weak points. However, before
he had gone very far, he was overtaken by his son
Neil, now a very staid and stately gentleman, hold-
ing under the government a high legal position in
the investigation of. the disputed New-Hampshire

He listened respectfully to his father's animadver-
sions on the folly of the Van Heemskirks ; but he
was thinking mainly of the first news told him,
the early return of Katherine. He was conscious
that he still loved Katherine, and that he still hated
Hyde. As they approached the house, the elder saw
the gleam of a candle through the drawn blind ; and
he asked querulously, " What's your mother doing

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 18 of 20)