Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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easy to St. Thomas and Surinam for cotton, and then
to Curafoa for dyeing- woods and spices. The ' Great
Christopher ' took luck with her. Every cargo was
a good cargo."

"I'll no be certain o' that, captain. I would hae
some scruples mysel ' anent buying and selling men
and women o' any color. We hae no quotations from
the other world, and it may be the Almighty holds
his black men at as high a figure as his white men.
I'm just speculating, you ken. I hae a son - my
third son, Alexander Semple o' Boston wha has
made money on the Africans. I hae told him, likewise,
that trading in wheat and trading in humanity may
hae ethical differences; but every one settles his ain
bill, and I'll hae enough to do to secure mysel'."

Batavius was puzzled; and at the word "ethical
differences," his big brown hand was " in the hair"
at once. He scratched his head and looked doubt-
fully at Semple, whose face was peculiarly placid
and thoughtful and kindly.

"Men must work, elder, and these blacks won't
work unless thev are forced to. I, who am a bap-
tized Christian, have to do my duty in this life ; and,
as for pagans, they must be made to do it. I am
myself a great lover of morality, and that is what I
think. Also, you may read in the Scriptures, that


St. Paul says that if a man will not work, neither
shall he eat."

"St. Paul dootless kent a' about the question o'
forced labor, seeing that he lived when baith white
and black men were sold for a price. However, sil-
ler in the hand answers a' questions ; and the domi-
nie made a vera true observe one sabbath, when he
said that the Almighty so ordered things in this
warld that orthodoxy and good living led to wealth
and prosperity."

" That is the truth," answered Justice Van Gaas-
beeck : "Holland is Holland because*she has the true
faith. You may see that in France there is anarchy
and bloodshed and great poverty: that is because
they are Koman Catholics."

It was at this moment Katherine came and stood
behind her father's chair. She let her hand fall
down over his shoulder, and he raised his own to
clasp it. " What is it, then, mijn Katrijntje Tdeintje ? "

"It is to dance. Mother says 'yes, 'if thou art

"Then I say 'yes,' also."

For a moment she laid her cheek against his ; and
the happy tears came into his eyes, and he stroked
her face, and half-reluctantly let Batavius lead her
away. For, at the first mention of a dance, Batavius
had risen and put down his pipe ; and in a few min-
utes he was triumphantly guiding Joanna in a kind
of mazy waltzing movement, full of spirit and

At that day there were but few families of any
wealth who did not own one black man who could
play well upon the violin. Joris possessed two;
and they were both on hand, putting their own. gay
spirits into the fiddle and the bow. And oh, how
happy were the beating feet and the beating hearts
that went to the stirring strains! It was joy and
love and youthen melodious motion. The old looked
on with gleaming, sympathetic eyes; the young for-
got that they were mortal.

Then there was a short pause; and the ladies
sipped chocolate, and the gentlemen sipped some-


thing a little stronger, and a merry ripple of conver-
sation and of hearty laughter ran with the clink of
glass and china, and the scraping of the fiddle-bows.

" Miss Katern Van Heemskirk and Mr. Neil Sem-
ple will now hab de honor of 'bliging de company
wid de French minuet,"

At this announcement, made by the first negro
violin, there was a sudden silence; and Neil rose,
and with a low bow offered the tips of his fingers to
the beautiful girl, who rose blushing to fake them.
The elder deliberately turned his chair around, in
order to' r watch the movement comfortably; and
there was an inexpressible smile of satisfaction on
his face as his eyes followed the young people.
Neil's dark, stately beauty was well set off by his
black velvet suit and powdered hair and gold
buckles. And no lovelier contrast could have faced
him than Katherine Van Heemskirk: so delicately
fresh, so radiantly fair, she looked in her light blue
robe and white lace stomacher, with a pink rose at
her breast. There were shining amber beads around
her white throat, and a large amber comb fastened
her pale brown hair. A gilded Indian fan was in her
hand, and she used it with all the pretty airs she had
so aptly copied from Mrs. Gordon.

Neil had a natural majesty in his carriage; Kath-
erine supplemented it with a natural grace, and with
certain courtly movements whicjti, made the little
Dutch girls, who had never seen Mrs. Gordon practic-
ing them, admire and wonder. As she was in the very
act of making Neil a profound courtesy, the door
opened, and Mrs. Gordon and Capt. Hyde entered.
The latter took in the exquisite picture in a moment ;
and there was a fire of jealousy in his heart when he
saw Neil lead his partner to her seat, and with the
deepest respect kiss her pretty fingers ere he re-
signed them.

But he was compelled to control himself, as he was
ceremoniously introduced to Councillor and Madam
Van Heemskirk by his aunt, who with a charming ef-
fusiveness declared " she was very -uneasy to intrude
so far; but, in faith, councillor," she pleaded, "I am


but a woman, and I find the news of a wedding be-
yond my nature to resist."

There was something so frank and persuasive
about the elegant stranger, that Joris could not re- '
fuse the courtesy she asked for herself and her neph-
ew. And, having yielded, he yielded with entire
truth and confidence. He gave his hand to his visi-
tors, and made them heartily welcome to join in
his household rejoicing. True, Mrs. Gordon's per-
suasive words were ably seconded by causes which
she had probably calculated. The elder and Madam
Semple were present, and it would have been impos-
sible for Joris to treat their friends rudely. Bram
was also another conciliating element, for Capt.
Hyde was on pleasant speaking terms with him ; and,
as yet, even Neil's relations were at least those of
presumed friendship. Also, the Van Gaasbeecksand
others present were well inclined to make the
acquaintance of a woman so agreeable, and an of-
.ficer so exceptionally handsome and genteel. Be-
sides which, Joris was himself in a happy and genial
mood : he had opened his house and his heart to his
friends; and he did not leel at that hour as if he
could doubt any human being, or close his door
against even the stranger and the alien who wished
to rejoice with him.

Elder Semple was greatly pleased at his friend's
complaisance. He gave Joris full credit for his vic-
tory over his rational prejudices, and he did his very
best to make the concession a pleasant event. In this
effort he was greatly assisted by Mrs. Gordon : she set
herself to charm Van Heemskirk, as she had set her-
herself to charm Madam Van Heemskirk on her pre-
vious visit; and she succeeded so well, that, when
"Sir Roger de Coverly " was called, Joris rose, of-
fered her his hand, and, to the delight of every one
present, led the dance with her.

It was a little triumph for the elder; and he sat*
smiling, and twirling his fingers, and thoroughly
enjoying the event. Indeed, he was so interested in
listening to the clever way in which " the bonnie
woman flattered Van Heemskirk," that he was quite


oblivious of the gathering wrath in his son's face,
and the watchful gloom in Bram's eyes, as the two
men stood together, jealously observant of Capt.
Hyde's attentions to Katherine. Without any words
spoken on the subject, there was an undestobd com-
pact between them to guard the girl from auy private
conversation with him ; and yet two men with hearts
full of suspicion and jealousy were not a match for
one man with a heart full of love. In a moment, in the
interchange of their hands in a dance, Katherine
clasped tightly a little note, and unobserved hid it
behind the rose at her breast.

But nothing is a wonder in love, or else it would
have been amazing that Joanna did not notice the
rose absent from her sister's dress after Capt. Hyde's
departure; nor yet that Katherine, ere she went to
rest that night, kissed fervently a tiny bit of paper
which she hid within the silver clasps of her Kirk
Bible. The loving girl thought it no wrong to put it
there : she even hoped that some kind of blessing or
sanction might come through such sacred keeping;
and she went to sleep whispering to herself,

"Happy lam. Me he loves; me he loves; me only
he loves ; me forever he loves /"



"All pleasure must be bought at the price of pain. The true
pay the price before they enjoy it ; the false, after they enjoy it. : '

" The future does not come from before to meet us, but conies
streaming up from behind, over our heads."

" Who is free ? The man who masters his own self.
"Who is powerful ? He who can control his passions."

"MY dear Dick, I am exceedingly concerned to
find you in such a taking, a soldier who has known


some of the finest women of the day, moping about
a Dutch schoolgirl! Pshaw! Don't be a fool. I
had a much better opinion of you."

" Tis a kind of folly that runs in the family, aunt.
I have heard that you preferred Col. Gordon to a

" Now, sir, you are ill-natured. Dukes are not
uncommon : a man of sense and sensibility is a
treasure. Make me grateful that I secured one."

" Lend me your wit, then, for the same consum-
mation. I assure you that I consider Katherine
Van Heemskirk a treasure past belief. Confess,
now, that she was the loveliest of creatures last

" She has truly a fine complexion, and she dances
with all the elegance imaginable. I know, too, that
she sings to perfection, and has most agreeable and
obliging manners."

" And a heart which abounds in every tender feel-

" Oh, indeed, sir! I was not aware that you knew
her so well."

" T know that I love her beyond every thing, and
that I am likely so to love her all my life."

"Upon my word, Dick, love may live an age if
you don't marry it."

" Let me make you understand that I wish to
marry it."

"Oh, indeed, sir! Then the church door stands
open. Go in. I suppose the lady will oblige you so

"Pray, my dear aunt, talk sensibly. Give me
your advice; you know already that I value it.
What is the first step to be taken ? "

" Go and talk with her father. I assure you, no
real progress can be made without it. The girl you
think worth asking for; but it is very necessary for
you to know what fortune goes with her beauty."

" If her father refuse to give her to me "

" That is not to be thought of. I have seen that
some of ftie best of these Dutch families are very
willing to be friendly with us. You come of a noble


race. You wear your sword with honor. You are
not far from the heritage of a great title and estate.
If you ask for her fortune, you offer far above its
equivalent, sir."

"I have heard Mr. Neil Semple say that Van
Heemskirk is a great stickler for trade, and that he
hates every man who wears a sword."

" You have heard more than you need listen to.
I talked to the man an hour last night. He is as
honest as a looking-glass, and I read him all
through with the greatest ease. I am sure that he
has a heart very tender, and devoid of anger or
prejudice of any kind."

" That is to be seen. I have discovered already
that men who can be very gentle can also be very
rough. But this suspense is intolerable, and not to
be borne. I will go and end it. Pray, what is the
hour ? "

" It is about three o'clock ; a very suitable hour, I

" Then give me your good wishes."

"I shall be impatient to hear the result."

" In an hour or two "

" Oh, sir, I am not so foolish as to expect you in
an hour or two ! When you have spoken with the
father, you will doubtless go home with him and
drink a dish of tea with your divinity. 1 can imag-
ine your unreasonable felicity, Dick, seas of milk,
and ships of amber, and all sails set for the desired
haven ! I know it all, so I hope you will spare me
every detail, except, indeed, such as relate to
pounds, shillings, and pence."

It was a very hot afternoon ; and Yan Heemskirk's
store, though open to the river-breezes, was not by
any means a cool or pleasant place. Bram was just
within the doors, marking "Boston" on a number
of flour-barrels, which were being rapidly trans-
ferred to a vessel lying at the wharf. He \vas ab-
sorbed and hurried in the matter, and received the
visitor with rather a cool courtesy ; but whether the
coolness was of intention or pre-occupatfbn, Capt.
Hyde did not perceive it. He asked for Councillor


Van Heemskirk, and was taken to his office, a small
room, intensely warm and sunny at that hour of the

"Your servant, captain."

" Yours, most sincerely, councillor. It is a hot

"That is so. We come near to midsummer. Is
there any thing I can oblige you in, sir ? "

Joris asked the question because the manner of
the young man struck him as uneasy and con-
strained ; and he thought, " Perhaps he has come to
borrow money." It was notorious that his Majesty's
officers gambled, and wore often in very great need
of it; and, although Joris had not any intention of
risking his gold, he thought it as well to bring out
the question, and have the refusal understood be-
fore unnecessary politeness made it more difficult.
He was not, therefore, astonished when Capt. Hyde

"Sir, you can indeed oblige me, and that in a
matter of the greatest moment."

" If money it be, captain, at once I may tell you,
that I borrow not, and I lend not."

" Sir, it is not money, in particular."


" It is your daughter Katherine."

Then Joris stood up, and looked steadily at the
suitor. His large, amiable face had become in a
moment hard and stern ; and the light in his eyes
was like the cold, sharp light that falls from drawn

" My daughter is not for you to name. Sir, it is a
wrong to her, if you speak her name."

"By my honor, it is not! Though I come of as
good family as any in England, and may not un-
reasonably hope to inherit its earldom, I "do assure
you, sir, I sue as humbly for your daughter's hand
as if she were a princess?'

"Your family! Talk not of it. King nor kaiser
do I count better men than my own fore-goers.
Like to like, that is what I say. Your wife seek,
captain, among your own women."


"I protest that I love your daughter. I wish
above all things to make her my wife."

" Many things men desire, that they come not
near to. * My daughter is to another man promised."

" Look you, councillor, that would be monstrous.
Your daughter loves me."

Jons turned white to the lips. " It is not the
truth," he answered in a slow, husky voice.

" By the sun in heaven, it is the truth ! Ask her."

" Then a great scoundrel are you, unfit with hon-
est men to talk. Ho! Yes, your sword pull from its
scabbard. Strike. To the heart, strike me. Less
wicked would be the deed than the thing you have

" In faith, sir, 'tis no crime to win a woman's

" No crime it would be to take the guilders from
my purse, if my consent was to it. But into my
house to come, and while warm was yet my wel-
come, with my bread and wine in your lips, to take
my gold, a shame and a crime would be. My daugh-
ter than gold is far more precious."

There was something very impressive in the
angry sorrow of Joris. It partook of his own mag-
nitude. Standing in front of him. it was impossible
for Capt. Hyde not to be sensible of the difference
between his own slight, nervous frame, and the fair,
strong massiveness of Van Heem-skirk; and, in a
dim way, he comprehended that this physical differ-
ence was onlj 7 the outward and visible sign of a
mental and moral one quite as positive and un-

Yet he persevered in his solicitation. With a
slight impatience of manner he said, " Do but hear
me, sir. I have done nothing contrary to the cus-
tom of people in my condition, and I assure you
that with all my soul I love your daughter."

"Love! So talk you. You see a girl beautiful,
sweet, and innocent. Your heart, greedy and cov-
etous, wants her as it has wanted, doubtless, many
others. For yourself only, you seek her. And what
is it you ask then ? That she should give up for you


her father, mother, home, her own faith, her own
people, her own country, the poor little one ! to a
cold, cheerless land among strangers, alone in the
sorrows and pains that to all women come. Love!
In God's name, what know you of love ? "

" No man can love her better."

"What say you? How, then, do I love her? I
who carried her mijn witte lammetje* in these arms
before yet she could say to me, 'Fader!'" His
wrath had been steadily growing, in spite of the
mist in his eyes and the tenderness in his voice ; and
suddenly striking the desk a ponderous blow with
his closed hand, he said with an unmistakable pas-
sion, " My daughter you shall not have. God in
heaven to himself take her ere such sorrow come to
her and me! "

" Sir, you are very uncivil; but I am thankful to
know so much of your mind. And, to be plain with
you, I am determined to marry your daughter if I
can compass the matter in any way. It is now,
then, open war between us; and so, sir, your serv-

" Stay. To me listen. Not one guilder will I give
to my daughter, if "

"To the devil with your guilders! Dirty money
made in dirty traffic "

"You lie."'

"Sir, you take an infamous advantage. You
know, that, being Katherine's father, I will not
challenge you."

" Christus ! " roared Joris, "challenge me one
hundred times. A fool I would be to answer you.
Life my God gave to me. Well, then, only my God
shall from me take it. See you these arms and
hands ? In them you will be as the child of one
year. Ere beyond my reason you move me, go ! "
and he strode to the door and flung it open with a
passion that made every one in the store straighten
themselves, and look curiously toward the two men.

White with rage, and with his hand upon his
sword-hilt, Capt. Hyde stamped his way through
*My white lamb.


the crowded store to the dusty street. Then it
struck him that he had not asked the name of the
man to whom Katherine was promised. He swore
at himself for the omission. Whether he knew him
or not, he was determined to fight him. In the
mean time, the most practical revenge was to try
and see Katherine before her father had the oppor-
tunity to give her any orders regarding him. Just
then he met Neil Semple, and he stopped and asked
him the time.

" It will be the half hour after four, captain. I
am going home : shall I have your company, sir ? "

"I have not so much leisure to-night. Make a
thousand regrets to Madam Semple and my aunt for

Neil's calm, complacent gravity was unendurable.
He turned from him abruptly, and, muttering pas-
sionate exclamations, went to the river-bank for a
boat. Often he had seen Katherine between five
and six o'clock at the foot of the Van Heemskirk
garden ; for it was then possible for her to slip away
while madam was busy about her house, and Joanna
and Batavius talking over their own affairs. And
this evening he felt that the very intensity of his
desire must surely bring her to their trysting-place
behind the lilac hedge.

Whether he was right or wrong, he did not con-
sider; for he was not one of tho^e potent men who
have themselves in their own power. Nor had it
ever entered his mind that " love's strength stand-
eth in love's sacrifice," or that the only love worthy
of the name refuses to blend with any thing that is
low or vindictive or clandestine. And, even if he
had not loved Katherine, he would now have been
determined to ntarry her. Never before in all his
life had he found an object so engrossing. Pride
and revenge were added to love, as motives; but
who will say that love was purer or stronger or
sweeter for them ?

In the meantime, Joris was suffering as only such
deep natures can suffer. There are domestic fatali-
ties which the wisest and tenderest of parents seem


impotent to contend with. Joris had certainly been
alarmed by Semple's warning; but in forbidding his
daughter to visit Mrs. Gordon, and in permitting
the suit of Neil Semple, he thought he had assured
her safety. Through all the past weeks, he had
seen no shadow on her face. The fear had died out,
and the hope had been slowly growing ; so that Capt.
Hyde's proposal, and his positive assertion that
Katherine loved him, had fallen upon the father's
heart with the force of a blow, and the terror of a
shock. And the sting of the sorrow was this, that
his child had deceived him. Certainly she had not
spoken false words, but truth can be outraged by si-
lence quite as cruelly as by speech.

After Hyde's departure, he shut the door of his
office, walked to the window, and stood there some
minutes, clasping and unclasping his large hands,
like a man full of grief and perplexity. Ere long he
remembered his friend Semple. This trouble con-
cerned him also, for Capt. Hyde was in a manner
his guest; and, if he were informed of the marriage
arranged between Katherine and Neil Semple, he
would doubtless feel himself bound in honor to re-
tire. Elder Semple had opened his house to Col.
Gordon, his wife and nephew. For months they had
lived in comfort under his roof, and been made
heartily welcome to the best of all he possessed.
Joris put himself in Hyde's place ; and he was cer-
tain, that, under the same circumstances, he would
feel it disgraceful to interfere with the love-affairs
of his host's son.

He found Semple with his hat in his hand, giving
his last orders before leaving business for the day;
but when Joris said, " There is trouble, and your
advice I want," he returned with him to the back of
the store, where, through half-opened shutters, the
sunshine and the river-breeze stole into an atmos-
phere laden with the aromas of tea and coffee and
West Indian produce.

In a few short, strong sentences, Joris put the
case before Semple. The latter stroked his right
knee thoughtfully, and listened. But his first words


were not very comforting: "I must say, that it is
maistly your own fault, Joris. You hae given Neil
but a half welcome, and you should hae made a'
things plain and positive to Katherine. Such
skimble-skamble, yea and nay kind o' ways willna
do wi' women. Why didna you say to her, out aod
out, ' I hae promised you to Neil Semple, my lassie.
He'll mak' you the best o' husbands ; you'll marry
him at the New Year, and you'll get gold and plen-
ishing and a' things suitable ' ? "

" So young she is yet, elder."

"She has been o'er auld for you, Joris. Young!
My certie ! When girls are auld enough for a lover,
they are a match for any gray head. I'm a thankfu'
man that I wasna' put in charge o' any o' them.
You and your household will hae to keep your e'en
weel open, or there will be a wedding to which nane
o' us will get an invite. But there is little good in
mair words. Hame is the place we are baith needed
in. I shall hae to speak my mind to Neil, and like-
wise to Col. Gordon ; and you canna put off your
duty to your daughter an hour longer. Dear me!
To 'think, Joris, o' a man being able to sit wi' the
councillors o' the nation, and yet no match for a
lassie o' seventeen! "

There are men who can talk their troubles away :
Joris was not one of them. He was silent when in
sorrow or perplexity ; silent, and ever looking around
for something to do in the matter. As they walked
homeward, the elder talked, and Joris pondered,
not what was said, but the thoughts and purposes
that were slowly forming in his own mind. He was
later than usual, and the tea and the cakes had
passed their prime condition ; but, when Lysbet saw
the trouble in his eyes, she thought them not worth
mentioning. Joanna and Batavius were discussing
their new house then building on the East River
bank, and they had forgotten all else. But Kather-
ine fretted about her father's delay, and it was at
her Joris first looked. The veil had now been taken
from his eyes ; and he noticed her pretty dress, her
restless glances at the clock, her ill-concealed im-


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 5 of 20)