Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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" There ought to be a law, Neil "

" No law will administer itself, sir. The statute-
book is a dead letter when it conflicts with public


opinion. There is not a week passes but you may
see that for yourself, father. If a man is insulted,
he must protect his honor ; and he will do so until the
law is able to protect him better than his own

" There is another way a rnair Christian way "-

" The world has not taken it yet ; at any rate, I am
very sure none of the Semples have."

" You are, maybe, o'er sure, Neil. Deacon Van
Vorst has said mair than my natural man could
thole, many a time, in the sessions and opt o' them ;
but the dominie aye stood between us wi' his word,
and we hae managed so far to keep the peace,
though a mair pig-headed, provoking, pugnacious
auld Dutchman never sat down on the dominie's left

" Then, father, if Capt. Hyde should quarrel with
me, and if he should challenge me, you advise me to
refuse the challenge, and to send for the dominie to
settle the matter ? "

" I didna say the like o' that, Neil. I am an auld
man, and Van Vorst is an aulder one. We'd be a
bonnie picture wi' drawn swords in oor shaking
hands; though, for mysel', I may say that there
wasna a better fencer in Ayrshire, and that the houses
o' Lockerby and Lanark hae reason to remember.
And I wouldna hae the honor o' the Semples doubted :
I'd fight mysel' first. But I'm ina- sair strait, Neil ;
and oh, my clear lad, what will I say, when it's the
Word o' the Lord on one hand, and the scaith and
scorn of a' men on the other ? But I'll trust to your
prudence, Neil, and no begin to feel the weight o' a
misery that may ne'er come my way. All my life
lang, when evils hae threatened me, I hae sought
God's help ; and he has either averted them or turned
them to my advantage."

" That is a good consolation, father."

"It is that; and I ken nae better plan for life
than, when I rise up, to gie mysel' to His direction,
and, when I lay me down to sleep, to gie mysel' to
his care."

" In such comfortable assurance, sir, I think we


may say good-night. I have business early in the
morning, and may not wait for your company, if you
will excuse me so far."

" Right, vera right, Neil. The dawn has gold in
its hand. I used to be an early worker mysel' ; but
I'm an auld man noo, and may claim sonie privi-
leges. Good-night, Neil, and a good-morning to fol-
io wit."

Neil then lit his candle; and, not forgetting that
courteous salute which the young then always ren-
dered to honorable age, he went slowly up-stairs,
feeling suddenly a great weariness and despair. If
Katherine had only been true to him ! He was sure,
then, that he could have fought almost joyfully any
pretender to her favor. But he was deserted by the
girl whom he had loved all her sweet life. He was
betrayed by the man who had shared the hospitality
of his home, and, in the cause of such loss, com-
pelled to hazard a life opening up with fair hopes to
honor and distinction. .

In the calm of his own chamber, through the
silent, solemn hours, when the world was shut out
of his life, Neil reviewed his position ; but he could
find no honorable way out of his predicament.
Physically, he was as brave as brave could be; mor-
ally, he had none of that grander courage which
made Jpris Van Heemskirk laugh to scorn the idea
of yielding God's gift of life at the demand of a pas-
sionate fool. He was quite sensible that his first
words to Capt. Hyde that night had been intended
to provoke a quarrel, and lie knew that he would be
expected to redeem them by a formal defiance.
However, as the idea became familiar, it became
imperative ; and at length it was with a fierce satis-
faction he opened his desk, and without hesitation
wrote the decisive words :


Sir, A person of the character I bear cannot allow the treach-
ery and dishonorable conduct of which you have been guilty to
pass without punishment. Convince me that you are more of a
gentleman than I have reason to believe, by meeting me to-night
as the sun drops in the wood on the Kalchhook Hill. Our seconds


can locate the spot: and that you may have no pretence to delay,
I send by bearer two swords, of which 1 give you the privilege to
make choice.

In the interim, at your service,


He had already selected Adrian Beekman as his
second. He was a young man of wealth and good
family, exceedingly anxious for social distinction,
and, moreover, so fastidiously honorable that Neil
felt himself in his hands to be beyond reproach.
As he anticipated, Beekman accepted the duty with
alacrity, and, indeed, so promptly carried out his
principal's instructions, that he found Capt. Hyde
still sleeping when he waited upon him. But Hyde
was neither astonished nor annoyed. He laughed
lightly at " Mr. Semple's impatience of offence," and
directed Mr. Beekman to Capt. Earle as his second ;
leaving the choice of swords and of the ground
entirely to his direction.

"A more civil, agreeable, handsome gentleman,
impossible it would be to find ; and I think the hot,
haughty temper of Xeil is to blame in this affair,"
*was Beekman's private comment. But he stood
watchfully by his principal's interests, and affected
a gentlemanly disapproval of Capt. Hyde's behavior.

And lightly as Hyde had taken the challenge, he
was really more disinclined to fight than Neil was.
In his heart he knew that Semple-had a just cause
of anger; " but then," he argued, " Neil is a proud,
pompous fellow, for whom I never assumed a friend-
ship. His father's hospitality I regret in any way to
have abused ; but who the deuce could have suspected
that Neil Semple was in love with the adorable
Katherine ? In faith, I did not at the first, and now
'tis too late. I would not resign the girl for my life ;
for I am sensible that life, if she is another's, will be
a verv tedious thing to me."

All day Neil was busy in making his will, and in
disposing of his affairs. He knew himself well
enough to be certain, that, if he struck the first
blow, he would not hesitate to strike the death-
blow, and that nothing less than such conclusion


would satisfy him. Hyde also anticipated a deathly
persistence of animosity in his opponent, and felt
equally the necessity for some definite arrangement
of his business. Unfortunately, it was in a very
confused state. He owed many debts of honor, and
Cohen's bill was yet unsettled. He drank a cup of
coffee, wrote several important letters, and then
went to Fraunce's, and had a steak and a bottle of
wine. During his meal his thoughts wandered be-
tween Katherine and the Jew Cohen. After it he
went straight to Cohen's store.

It happened to be Saturday ; and the shutters were
closed, though the door was slightly open, and
Cohen was sitting with his granddaughter in the
. cool shadows of the crowded place. Hyde was not
in a ceremonious mood, and he took no thought of
it being the Jew's Sabbath. He pushed wider the
door, and went clattering into their presence; and
with an air of pride and annoyance the Jew rose to
meet him. At the same time, by a quick look of
intelligence, he dismissed Miriam ; but she did not
retreat farther than within the deeper shadows of
some curtains of stamped Moorish leather, for she
anticipated the immediate departure of the intruder.

She was therefore astonished when her grand-
father, after listening to a few sentences, sat down,
and entered into a lengthy conversation. And her
curiosity was also aroused ; for, though Hyde had
often been in the store, she had never hitherto seen
him in such a sober mood. It was also remarkable
that on the sabbath her grandfather should receive
papers, and a ring which she watched Hyde take
from his finger; and there was, beside, a solemn, a
final air about the transaction which gave her the
feeling of some anticipated tragedy.

When at last they rose, Hyde extended his hand.
"Cohen," he said, "few men would have been as

fenerous and, at this hour, as considerate as you.
have judged from tradition, and misjudged you.
Whether we meet again or not, we part as friends.'*
"You have settled all things as a gentleman, cap-
tain. May my white hairs say a word to your heart


this hour?" Hyde bowed; and he continued, in a
voice of serious benignity : " The words of the Holy
One are to be regarded, and not the words of men.
Men call that ' honor ' which He will call murder.
What excuse is there in your lips if you go this
night into his presence ? "

There was no excuse in Hyde's lips, even for his
mortal interrogator. He merely bowed again, and
slipped through the partially opened door into the
busy street. Then Cohen put clean linen upon his
head and arm, and went and stood with his face to
the east, and recited, in low, rhythmical sentences,
the prayer called the "Assault." Miriam sat quiet
during his devotion ; but, when he returned to his
place, she asked him plainly, " What murder is there
to be, grandfather ? "

" It is a duel between Capt. Hyde and another. It
shall be called murder at the last."

" The other, who is he ? "

" The young man Semple."

"I am sorry. He is a courteous young man. I
have heard you say so. I have heard you speak
well of him."

" O Miriam, what sin and sorrow thy sex ever
bring to those who love it! There are two young
lives to be put in death peril for the smile of a
woman, a very girl she is."

" Do I know her, grandfather ? "

" She passes here often. The daughter of Van
Heemskirk, the little fair one, the child."

"Oh, but now I am twice sorry! She has smiled
at me often. We have even spoken. The good old
man. her father, will die; and her brother, he was
always like a watch-dog at her side."

" But not the angels in heaven can watch a
woman. For a lover, be he good or bad, she will
put heaven behind her back, and stand on the brink
of perdition. Miriam, if thou should deceive me,
as thy mother did, God of Israel, may I not know

"Though I die, I will not deceive you, grand-


" The Holy One hears thee, Miriam. Let Him be
between us."

Then Cohen, with his hands on his staff, and his
head in them, sat meditating, perhaps praying; and
the hot, silent moments went slowly away. In them,
Miriam was coming to a decision which at first
alarmed her, but which, as it grew familiar, grew
also lawful and kind. She was quite certain that her
grandfather would not interfere between the young
men, and probably he had given Hyde his promise
not to do so ; but she neither had received a charge,
nor entered into any obligation, of silence. A word
to Van Heemskirk or to the Elder Semple would be
sufficient. Should she not say it ? Her heart an-
swered " yes," although she did not clearly perceive
how the warning was to be given.

Perhaps Cohen divined her purpose, and was not
unfavorable to it ; for he suddenly rose, and, putting
on his cap, said, " I am going to see my kinsman
John Cohen. At sunset, set wide the door: an hour
after sunset I will return."

As soon as he had gone, Miriam wrote to Van
Heemskirk these words : " Good sir, This is a mat-
ter of life and death : so then, come at once, and I
will tell you. MIRIAM COHEN."

With the slip of paper in her hand, she stood with-
in the door, watching for some messenger she could
trust. It was not many minutes before Van Heems-
kirk's driver passed, leading his loaded wagon ; and
to him she gave the note.

That day Joris had gone home earlier than usual,
and Brain only was in the store. But it was part of
his. duty to open and attend to orders, and he sup-
posed the strip of paper to refer to a barrel of flour
or some other household necessity.

Its actual message was so unusual and unlocked
for, that it took him a moment or two to realize the
words; then, fearing it might be some practical
joke, he recalled the driver, and heard with amaze-
ment that the Jew's granddaughter had herself
given him the message. Assured of this fact, he
answered the summons for his father promptly.


Miriam was waiting just within the door; and.
scarcely heeding his explanation, she proceeded at
once to give him such information as she possessed.
Bram was slow of thought and slow of speech. He
stood gazing at the beautiful, earnest girl, and felt
all the fear and force of her words; but for some
moments he could not speak, nor decide on his first

" "Why do you wait ? " pleaded Miriam. " At sun-
set, I tell yon. It is now near it. Oh, no thanks! Do
not stop for them, but hasten away at once."

He obeyed like one in a dream; but, before he
reached Sem pie's store, he had fully realized the sit-
uation. Semple was just leaving business. He put
his hand on him, and said, " Elder, no time have

you to lose. At sunset, Neil and that d English

soldier, a duel are to fight."

" Eh ? Where ? Who told you ?

" On the KaJchhook Hill. Stay not for talk."

" Kun for your father, Bram. Run, my lad. Get
Van Qaasbeeck's light wagon as you go, and ask
your mother for a mattress. Dinna stand glowering
at me, but awa' with you. I'll tak' twa p' my am
lads and my ain wagon, and be there instanter.
God help me ! God spare the lad ! "

At that moment Neil and Hyde were on their road
to the fatal spot. Neil had been gathering anger all
day ; Hyde, a vague regret. The folly of what they
were going to do was clear to both ; but Neil was
dominated by a fury of passion, which made the
folly a revengeful joy. If there had been any
thought of an apology in Hyde's heart, he must
have seen its hopelessness in the white wrath of
Neil's face, and the calm deliberation with which he
assumed and prepared for a fatal termination of the

The sun dropped as the seconds measured off the
space and offered the lot for the standing ground.
Then Neil flung off his coat and \vaistcoat, and stood
with bared breast on the spot his second indicated.
This action had been performed in such a passion of
hurry, that he was compelled to watcli Hyde's more


calm and leisurely movements. He removed his
fine scarlet coat and handed it to Capt. Earle, and
would then have taken his sword ; but Beekman ad-
vanced to remove also his waistcoat. The suspicion
implied by this act roused the soldier's indignation.
" Do you take me to be a person of so little honor ? "
he passionately asked ; and then with his own hands
he tore off the richly embroidered satin garment,
and by so doing exposed what perhaps some deli-
cate feeling had made him wish to conceal, a bow
of orange ribbon which he wore above his heart.

The sight of it to Neil was like oil flung upon
flame. He could scarcely restrain himself until the
word " go " gave him license to charge Hyde, which
he did with such impetuous rage, that it was evi-
dent he cared less to preserve his own life, than to
slay his enemy.

Hyde was an excellent swordsman, and had fought
several duels; but he was quite disconcerted by the
deadly reality of Neil's attack. In the second thrust,
his foot got entangled in a tuft of grass; and, in
evading a lunge aimed at his heart, he fell on his
right side. Supporting himself, however, on his
sword hand, he sprang backward with great dexter-
ity, and thus escaped the probable death-blow. But,
as he was bleeding from a wound in the throat, his
second interfered, and proposed a reconciliation.
Neil angrily refused to listen. He declared " he had
not come to enact a farce ; " and then, happening to
glance at the ribbon on Hyde's breast, he swore
furiously, "He would make his way through the
body of any man who stood between him and his
just anger."

Up to this point, there had been in Hyde's mind
a latent disinclination to slay Neil. After it, he
flung away every kind memory ; and the fight was
renewed with an almost brutal impetuosity, until
there ensued one of those close locks which it was
evident nothing but "the key of the body could
open." In the frightful wrench which followed, the
swords of both men sprang from their hands, flying
some four or five yards upward with the force.


Both recovered their weapons at the same time, and
both, bleeding and exhausted, would have again re-
newed the fight; but at that moment Van Heems-
kirk and Semple, with their attendants, reached
the spot.

Without hesitation, they threw themselves be-
tween the young men, Van Heemskirk facing
Hyde, and the elder his son. " Neil, you dear lad,
you born fool, gie me your weapon instanter, sir! "
But there was no need to say another word. Neil
fell senseless upon his sword, making in his fall a
last desperate effort to reach the ribbon on Hyde's
breast; for Hyde had also dropped fainting to the

f round, bleeding from at least half a dozen wounds,
hen one of Semple's young men, who had probably
divined the cause of quarrel, and who felt a sympa-
thy for his young master, made as if he would pick
up the fatal bit of orange satin, now dyed crimson in
Hyde's blood.

But Joris pushed the rifling hand fiercely away.
" To touch it would be the vilest theft," he said.
" His own it is. With his life he has bought it."


" All these inconveniences are incidental to love, reproaches
jealousies, quarrels, reconcilements, war, and then peace." Ter-

" I know I felt Love's face

Pressed on my neck, with moan of pity and grace,
Till both our heads were in his aureole."


THE news of the duel spread with the proverbial
rapidity of evil news. At the doors of all the public
houses, in every open shop, on every private stoop,
and at the street-corners, people were soon discuss-


Ing the event, with such additions and comments as
their imaginations and prejudices suggested. One
party insisted that lawyer Semple was dead ; an-
other, that it was the English officer ; a third, that
both died as they were being carried from the

Batavius, who had lingered to the last moment at
the house which he was building, heard the story
from many a lip as he went home. He was bitterly
indignant at Katherine. He felt, indeed, a,s if his
own character for morality of every kind had been
smirched by his intended connection with her. And
his Joanna ! How wicked Katherine had been not
to remember that she had a sister whose spotless
name would be tarnished by her kinship ! He was
hot with haste and anger when he reached Van
Heemskirk's house.

Madam stood with "Joanna on the front-stoop,
looking anxiously down the road. She was aware
that Bram had called for his father, and she had
heard them leave the house together in unexplained
haste. At first, the incident did not trouble her
much. Perhaps one of the valuable Norman horses
was sick, or there was an unexpected ship in, or an
unusually large order. Bram was a young man who
relied greatly on his father. She only worried be-
cause supper must be delayed an hour, and that de-
lay would also keep back the completion of that ex-
quisite order in which it was her habit to leave the
house for the Sabbath rest.

After some time had elapsed, she went upstairs,
and began to lay out the clean linen and the kirk
clothes. Suddenly she noticed that it was nearly
dark ; and, with a feeling of hurry and anxiety, she
remembered the delayed meal. Joanna was on the
front-stoop watching for Batavius, who was also un-
usually late; and, like many other loving women,
she could think of nothing good which might have
detained him, but her heart was full only of evil ap-

"Where is Katherine ? " That was the mother's
first question, and she called her through the house.


From the closed best parlor, Katherine came, white
and weeping.

" What is the matter, then, that you are crying ?
And why into the dark room go you ? "

"Full of sorrow I am, mother, and I went to the
room to pray to God ; but I cannot pray."

" 'Full of sorrow.' Yes, for that Englishman you
are full of sorrow. And how can you pray when you
are disobeying your good father? God will not
hear you."

The mother was not pitiless ; but she was anxious
and troubled, and Katherine's grief irritated her at
the moment. " Go and tell Dinorah to bring in the
tea. The work of the house must go on," she mut-
tered. "And I think, that it was Saturday night,
Joris might have remembered."

Then she went back to Joanna, and stood with
her, looking through the gray mist down the road,
and feeling even the croaking of the frogs and the
hum of the insects to be an unusual provocation.
Just as Dinorah said, "The tea is served, madam,"
the large figure of Batavius loomed through the
gathering grayness ; and the women waited for him.
He came up the steps without his usual greeting;
and his face was so injured and portentous that
Joanna, with a little cry, put her arms round his
neck. He gently removed them.

" No time is this, Joanna, for embracing. A gpreat
disgrace has come to the family; and I, who nave
always stood up for morality, must bear it too."

"IMsgrace! The word goes not with our name,
Batavius ; and what mean you, then ? In one word,

But Batavius loved too well any story that was to
be wondered over, to give it in a word ; though
madam's manner snubbed him a little, and he said,
with less of the air of a wronged man,

"Well, then, Neil Semple and Capt. Hyde have
bought a duel. That is what comes of giving way
*o passion. I never fought a duel. No one should
make me. It is a fixed principle with me."

"But what ? And how ? "


" With swords they fought. Like two devils they
fought, as if to pieces they would cut each other."

" Poor Neil! His fault, I am sure, it was not."

"Joanna! Neil is nearly dead. If he had been
in the right, he would not be nearly dead. The
Lord does not forsake a person who is in the right

In the hall behind them, Katherine stood. The
pallor of her face, the hopeless droop of her white
shoulders and arms, were visible in its gloomy
shadows. Softly as a spirit she walked, as she drew
nearer to them.

" And the Englishman ? Is he hurt ! "

" Killed. He has at least twenty wounds. Till
morning he will not live. It was the councillor him-
self who separated the men."

" My good Joris, it was like him."

For a moment Katherine's consciousness reeled.
The roar of the ocean which girds our life round
was in her ears, the feeling of chill and collapse at her
heart. But with a supreme will she took possession
of herself. "Weak I will not be. All I will know.
All I will suffer." And with these thoughts she
went back to the room, and took her place at the
table. In a few minutes the rest followed. Batavius
did not speak to her. It was also something of a
cross to him that madam would not talk of the
event. He did not think that Katherine deserved
to have her ill-regulated feelings so far considered,
and he had almost a sense of personal injury in the
restraint of the whole household.

He had anticipated madam's amazement and
shock. He had felt a just satisfaction in the suffer-
ing he was bringing to Katherine. He had determ-
ined to point out to Joanna the difference between
herself and her sister, and the blessedness of her
own lot in loving so respectably and prudently as
she had done. But nothing had happened as he ex-
pected. The meal, instead of being pleasantly
lengthened over such dreadful intelligence, was
hurried and silent. Katherine, instead of making
herself an image of wailing or unconscious remorse,


sat like other people at the table, and pretended to
drink her tea.

It was some comfort that after it Joanna and he
could walk in the garden and talk the affair thor-
oughly over. Katherine watched them away, and
then she fled to her room. For a few minutes she
could let her sorrow have way, and it would help
her to bear the rest. And oh, how she wept! She
took from their hiding-place the few letters her
lover had written her, and she mourned over them
as women mourn in such extremities. She kissed
the words with passionate love; she vowed, amid
her broken ejaculations of tenderness, to be faith-
ful to him if he lived, to be faithful to his memory
if he died. She never thought of Neil; or, if she
did, it was with an anger that frightened her. In
the full tide of her anguish, Lysbet stood at the

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