Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 9 of 20)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 9 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


too wise to be happy."

While thus alternately urging and persuading
Katherine, the coach came, the disguise was as-



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 101

sumed, and the two drove rapidly to the " King's
Arms." Hyde was lying upon a couch which had
been drawn close to the window. But in order to
secure as much quiet as possible, he had been
placed in one of the rooms at the rear of the tavern,
a large, airy room, looking into the beautiful gar-
den which stretched away backward as far as the
river. He had been in extremity. He was yet too
weak to stand, too weak to endure long the strain
of company or books or papers.

He heard his aunt's voice and footfall, and felt, as
he always did, a vague pleasure in her advent.
Whatever of life came into his chamber of suffering
came through her. She brought him daily such in-
telligences as she thought conducive to his recovery ;
and it must be acknowledged that it was not always
her "humor to be truthful." For Hyde had so
craved news of Katherine, that she believed he
would die wanting it; and she had therefore fallen,
without one conscientious scruple, into the reporter's
temptation, inventing the things which ought to
have taken place, and did not. " For, in faith,
Nigel," she said to her husband, in excuse, "those
who have nothing to tell must tell lies."

Her reports had been ingenious and diversified.
" She had seen Katherine at one of the windows,
the very picture of distraction." "She had been
told that Katherine was breaking her heart about
him;" also, "that Elder Semple and Councillor
Van Heemskirk had quarrelled because Katherine
had refused to see Neil, and the elder blamed Van
Heemskirk for not compelling her obedience."
Whenever Hyde had been unusually depressed or
unusually nervous, Mrs. Gordon had always had
some such comforting fiction ready. Now, here was
the real Katherine. Her very presence, her smiles,
her tears, her words, would be a consolation so far
beyond all hope, that the girl by her side seemed a
kind of miracle to her.

She was far more than a miracle to Hyde. As the
door opened, he slowly turned his head. When he
saw who was really there, he uttered a low cry of



102 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

Joy, a cry pitiful in its shrill weakness. In a mo-
ment Katherine was close to his side. This was no
time for coyness, and she was too tender and true a
woman to feel or to affect it. She kissed his hands
and face, and whispered on his lips the sweetest
words of love and fidelity. Hyde was in a rapture.
His joyful soul made his pale face luminous. He
lay still, speechless, motionless, watching and listen-
ing to her.

Mrs. Gordon had removed Katherine's veil and
cloak, and considerately withdrawn to a mirror at
the extremity of the room, where she appeared to
be altogether occupied with her own ringlets. But,
indeed, it was with Katherine and Hyde one of those
supreme hours when love conquers every other feel-
ing. Before the whole world they would have
avowed their affection, their pity, and their truth.

Hyde could speak little, but there was no need of
speech. Had he not nearly died for her ? Was not
his very helplessness a plea beyond the power of
words ? She had only to look at the white shadow
of humanity holding her hand, and remember the
gay, gallant, handsome soldier who had wooed her
under the water-beeches, to feel that all the love of
her life was top little to repay his devotion. And so
quickly, so quickly, went the happy moments! Ere
Katherine had half said, " I love thee," Mrs. Gordon
reminded her that it was near the noon ; " and I
have an excellent plan," she continued: "you can
leave my veil and cloak in the coach, and I will
leave you at the first convenient place near your
home. At the turn of the road, one sees nobody
but your excellent father or brother, or perhaps
Justice Van Gaasbeeck, all of whom we may avoid,
if you will but consider the time."

" Then we must part, my Katherine, for a little.
When will you come again ? "

This was a painful question, because Katherine
felt, that, however she might excuse herself for the
unforeseen stress of pity that all unaware had hur-
ried her into this interview, she knew she could not
find the same apology for one deliberate and pre-
arranged.



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 103

"Only once more," Hyde pleaded. "I had, my
Katherine, so many things to say to you. In my
joy, I forgot all. Come but once more. Upon my
honor, I promise to ask Katherine Van Heemskirk
only this once. To-morrow? 'No.' Two days
hence, then ? "

" Two days hence I will come again. Then no
more."

He smiled at her, and put out his hands ; and she
knelt again by his side, and kissed her " farewell "
on his lips. And, as she put on again her cloak and
veil, he drew a small volume toward him, and with
trembling hands tore out of it a scrap of paper, and
gave it to her.

Under the lilac hedge that night she read it, read
it over and over, the bit of paper made almost
warm and sentient by Phcedria's tender petition to
his beloved,

"When you are in company with that other man,
behave as if you were absent; but continue to love
me by day and by night ; want me, dream of me,
expect me, think of me, wish for me, delight in me,
be wholly with me : in short, be my very soul, as I
am yours."



CHAPTER VIH.

"THE SILVER LINK, THE SILKEN TIE."
"Love's reason's without reason."

" Let determined things to destiny
Hold unbe wailed their way,"

" A very merry, dancing, drinking,
Laughing, quaffing, and unthinking time.'*

IF Katherine had lived at this day, she would
probably have spent the time between her promise
and its fulfilment in self-analysis and introspective



104 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

reasoning with her own conscience. But the women
of a century ago were not tossed about with winds
of various opinions, or made foolishly subtile by
arguments about principles which ought never to be
associated with dissent. A few strong, plain dic-
tates had been set before Katherine as the law of
her daily life ; and she knew, beyond all controversy,
when she disobeyed them.

In her own heart, she called the sin she had de-
termined to commit by its most unequivocal name.
"I shall make happy Bichard ; but my father I shall
deceive and disobey, and against my own soul there
will be the lie." This was the position she admitted,
but every woman is Eve in some hours of her life.
The law of truth and wisdom may be in her ears,
but the apple of delight hangs within her reach;
and, with a full understanding of the consequences
of disobedience, she takes the forbidden pleasure.
And if the vocal, positive command of Divinity was
unheeded by the first woman, mere mortal parents
surely ought not to wonder that their commands,
though dictated by truest love and clearest wisdom,
are often lightly held, or even impotent against the
voice of some charmer, pleading personal pleasure
against duty, and self-will against the law infinitely
higher and purer.

In truth, Katherine had grown very weary of the
perpetual eulogies which Batavius delivered for
every thing respectable and conservative. A kind
of stubbornness in evil followed her acceptance of
evil. This time, at least, she was determined to do
wrong, whatever the consequences might be. Bata-
vius and his inflexible propriety irritated her: she
had a rebellious desire to give him little moral
shocks; and she deeply resented his constant in-
junctions to " remember that Joanna's and his own
good name were, in a manner, in her keeping."

Very disagreeable she thought Batavius had
grown, and she also jealously noted the influence he
was exercising over Joanna. There are women who
prefer secrecy to honesty, and sin to truthfulness ;
but Katherine was not one of them. If it had been



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 105

possible to see her lover honorably, she would have
much preferred it. She was totally destitute of that
contemptible sentimentality which would rather in-
vent difficulties in a love-affair than not have them,
but she knew well the storm of reproach and disap-
proval which would answer any such request ; and
her thoughts were all bent toward devising some
plan which would enable her to leave home early on
that morning which she had promised her lover.

But all her little arrangements failed ; and it was
almost at the last hour of the evening previous, that
circumstances offered her a reasonable excuse. It
came through Batavius, who returned home later
than usual, bringing with him a great many pat-
terns of damask and figured cloth and stamped
leather. At once he announced his intention of
staying at home the next morning in order to have
Joanna's aid in selecting the coverings for their new
chairs, and counting up their cost. He had taken
the strips out of his pocket with an air of importance
and complaisance; and Katherine, glancing from
them to her mother, thought she perceived a fleet-
ing shadow of a feeling very much akin to her own
contempt of the man's pronounced self-satisfaction.
So when supper was over, and the house duties done,
she determined to speak to her. Joris was at a town
meeting, and Lysbet did not interfere with the
lovers. Katherine found her standing at an open
window, looking thoughtfully into the autumn gar-
den.

" Mijn moeder."

" M'ijn kind."

"Let me go away with Bram in the morning.
Batavius I cannot bear. About every chair-cover
he will call in the whole house. The only chair-
covers in the world they will be. Listen, how he
will talk : ' See here, Joanna. A fine piece is this ;
ten shillings and sixpence the yard, and good
enough for the governor's house. But I am a man
of some substance, Gode zij dank /and people will
expect that I, who give every Sunday twice to the
kirk, should have chairs in accordance.' Moeder,



106 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

you know how it will be. To-morrow I cannot bear
him. Very near quarreling have we been for a
week."

" I know, Katherine, I know. Leave, then, with
Bram, and go first to Margaret Pitt's, and ask her if
the new winter fashions will arrive from London this
month. I heard also that Mary Blankaart has lost
a silk purse, and in it five gold jacobus, and some
half and quarter Johannes. Ask kindly for her, and
about the money; and so the morning could be
passed. And look now, Katherine, peace is the best
thing; and to his own house Batavius will go in a
few weeks."

"That will make me glad."

" Whish, mljn kind! Thy bad thoughts should be
dumb thoughts."

" Mijn moeder, sad and troubled are thy looks.
What is thy sorrow ? "

" For thee my heart aches often, mine and thy
good father's, too. Dost thou not suffer ? Can thy
mother be blind ? Nothing hast thou eaten lately.
Joanna says thou art restless all the night long.
Thou art so changed then, that wert ever such a
happy little one. Once thou did love me, Katri-
Jntie."

" Ach mljn, moeder, still I love thee! "

" But that English soldier ? "

" Never can I cease to love him. See, now, the
love I give him is his love. It never was thine.
For him I brought it into the world. None of thy
love have I given to him. Mijn moeder, thee I
would not rob for the whole world ; not I ! "

"For all that, kleintje, hard is the mother's lot.
The dear children I nursed on my breast, they go
here and they go there, with this strange one and
that strange one. Last night, ere to our sleep we
went, thy father read to me some words of the lov-
ing, mother-like Jacob. They are true words.
Every good mother has said them, at the grave or
at the bridal, 'En mij aangaande, als ik van kind-
eren beroofd ben, zoo ben ik beroofd ! ' "*

* " If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 107

There was a sad pathos in the homely old words
as they dropped slowly from Lysbet's lip, a pathos
that fitted perfectly the melancholy air of the fad-
ing garden, the melancholy light of the fading day,
and the melancholy regret for a happy home gradu-
ally scattering far and wide. Many a year after-
ward Katherine remembered the hour and the words,
especially in the gray glooms of late October even-
ings.

The next morning was one of perfect beauty, and
Katherine awoke with a feeling of joyful expecta-
tion. She dressed beautifully her pale brown hair;
and her intended visit to Mary Blankaart gave her
-an excuse for wearing her India silk, the pretty
dress Richard had seen her first in, the dress he had
"so often admired. Her appearance caused some re-
marks, which Madam Van Heemskirk replied to;
and with much of her old gayety Katherine walked
between her father and brother away from home.

She paid a very short visit to the mantua-maker,
and then went to Mrs. Gordon's. There was less
effusion in that lady's manner than at her last inter-
view with Katherine. She had a little spasm of
jealousy ; she had some doubts about Katherine's
deserts; she wondered whether her nephew really
adored the girl with the fervor he effected, or
whether he had determined, at all sacrifices, to pre-
vent her marriage with Neil Semple. Katherine
had never before seen her so quiet and so cool ; and
a feeling of shame sprang up in the girl's heart.
" Perhaps she was going to do something not exactly
proper in Mrs. Gordon's eyes, and in advance that
lady was making her sensible of her contempt."

With this thought, she rose, and with burning
cheeks said, " I will go home, madam. Now I feel
that I am doing wrong. To write to Captain Hyde
will be the best way."

"Pray don't be foolish, Katherine. I am of a
serious turn this morning, that is all. How pretty

g3u are! and how vastly becoming your gown!
ut, indeed, I am going to ask you to change it.
Yesterday, at the 'King's Arms,' I said 'my sister



108 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

would arrive this morning with me ; and I bespoke
a little cotillion in Dick's rooms. In that dress you
will be too familiar, my dear. See here, is not this
the prettiest fashion ? It is lately come over. So
airy! so French! so all that! "

It was a light blue gown and petticoat of rich
satin, sprigged with silver, and a manteau of dark
blue velvet trimmed with bands of delicate fur.
The bonnet was not one which the present genera-
tion would call "lovely;" but, in its satin depths,
Katherine's fresh, sweet face looked like a rose.
She hardly knew herself when the toilet was com-
pleted; and, during its progress, Mrs. Gordon re-
covered all her animation and interest.

Before they were ready, a coach was in waiting;
and in a few minutes they stood together at Hyde's "
door. There was a sound of voices within ; and,
when they entered, Katheriue saw, with a pang of
disappointment, a fine, soldierly looking man in full
uniform sitting by Eichard's side. But Richard ap-
peared to be in no way annoyed by his company.
He was looking much better, and wore a chamber
gown of maroon satin, with deep laces showing at
the wrists and bosom. When Katherine entered, he
was amazed and charmed with her appearance.
"Come near to me, my Katheriue," he said ; and as
Mrs. Gordon drew from her shoulders the mantle,
and from her head the bonnet, ajid revealed more
perfectly her beautiful person and dress, his love and
admiration were beyond words.

With an air that plainly said, " This is the maiden
for whom I fought and have suffered : is she not
worthy of my devotion ? " he introduced her to his
friend* Capt. Earle. But, even as they spoke, Earle
joined Mrs. Gordon, at a call from her; and Kather-
ine noticed that a door near which they stood was
open, and that they went into the room to which it
led, and that other voices then blended with theirs.
But these things were as nothing. She was with her
lover, alone for a moment with him; and Eichard
had never before seemed to her half so dear or half
so fascinating.



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. 109

"My Katherine," he said, "I have one torment-
ing thought. Night and day it consumes me like a
fever. I hear that Neil Sernple is well. Yesterday
Capt. Earle met him; he was walking with your
father. He will be visiting at your house very soon,
He will see you ; he will speak to you. You have-
such obliging manners, he may even clasp this hand,
my hand,. Heavens ! I am but a man, and I find my-
self unable to endure the thought."

" In my heart, Kichard, there is only room for you.
Neil Semple I fear and dislike."

"They will make you marry him, my darling."

"No: that they can never do.'"

" But I suffer in the fear. I suffer a thousand
deaths. If you were only my wife, Katherine! "

She blushed divinely. She was kneeling at hi&
side: and she put her arms around his neck, and
laid her face against his. " Qnly your wife I will be.
That is what I desire also."

" Now, Katherine ? This minute, darling ? Make
me sure of the felicity you have promised. You
have my word of honor, that as Katherine Van
Heemskirk I will not again ask you to come here.
But it is past my impatience to exist, and not see
you. Katherine Hyde would have the right to
come."

"Oh, my love, .my love! "

"" See how I tremble, Katherine. Life scarcely
cares to inhabit a body so weak. If you refuse me
I will let it go. If you refuse me, I shall know that
in your heart you expect to marry Neil Semple,
the savage who has made me suffer unspeakable
agonies.''

"Never will I marry him, Richard, never, never.
My word is true. You only I will marry."

"Then now, now, Katherine. Here is the ring.
Here is the special license from the governor ; my
aunt has made him to understand all. The clergy-
man and the witnesses are waiting. Some good for-
tune has dressed you in bridal beauty. Now, Kath-
eri n e ? Now, n ow ! ' '

She rose, and stood white and trembling by his



110 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

side, speechless, also. To her father and her
mother her thoughts fled in a kind of loving ter-
ror. But how could she resist the pleading of one
whom she so tenderly loved, and to whom, in her
maiden simplicity, she imagined herself to be
so deeply bounden ? That very self-abnegation
which forms so large a portion of a true affection
urged her to compliance far more than love itself.
And when Richard ceased to speak, and only be-
sought her with the unanswerable pathos of his
evident suffering for her sake, she felt the argument
to be irresistible.

" Well, my Katherine, will you pity me so far ? "

"All you ask, my loved one, I will grant."

" Angel of goodness ! Now ? "

" At your wish, Richard."

He took her hand in a passion of joy and grati-
tude, and touched a small bell. Immediately there
was a sudden silence, and then a sudden movement,
in the adjoining room. The next moment a clergy-
man in canonical dress came toward them. By his
side was Col. Gordon, and Mrs. Gordon and Capt.
Earle followed. If Katherine had then been sensible
of any misgiving or repentant withdrawal, the influ-
ences surrounding her were irresistible. But she
had no distinct wish to resist them. Indeed, Col.
Gordon said afterward to his wife, " he had never seen
a bride look at once so lovely and -so happy." The
ceremony was full of solemnity, and of that deepest
joy which dims the eyes with tears, even while it
wreathes the lips with smiles. During it, Katherine
knelt by Richard's side; and every eye was fixed
upon him, for he was almost fainting with the fa-
tigue of his emotions ; and it was with fast receding
consciousness that he whispered rapturously at its
close, "My wife, my wife! "

Throughout the sleep of exhaustion which fol-
lowed, she sat watching him. The company in the
next room were quietly making merry " over Dick's
triumph," but Katherine shook her head at all pro-
posals to join them. The band of gold around her
finger fascinated her. She was now really Richard's



THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON. Ill

wife ; and the first sensation of such a mighty
change was, in her pure soul, one of infinite and
reverent love. When Kichard awoke, he was re-
freshed and supremely happy. Then Katherine
brought him food and wine, and ate her own morsel
beside him. "Our first meal we must take to-
gether," she said ; and Hyde was already sensible of
some exquisite change, some new and rarer tender-
ness and solicitude in all her ways toward him.
, The noon hour was long past, but she made no
mention of it. The wedding guests also lingered,
talking and laughing softly, and occasionally visit-
ing the happy bride and bridegroom in their blissful
companionship. In those few hours Kichard made
sure his dominion over his wife's heart; and he had
so much to tell her, and so many directions to give
her, that, ere they were aware, the afternoon was
well spent. The "clergyman and the soldiers de-
parted, Mrs. Gordon was a little weary, and Hyde
was fevered with the very excess of his joy. The
moment for parting had come; and, when it has,
wise are those who delay it not. Hyde fixed his
eyes upon his wife until Mrs. Gordon had arranged
again her bonnet and manteau ; then, with a smile,
her shut in their white portals the exquisite picture.
He could let her go with a smile now, for he knew
that Katherine's absence was but a parted pres-
ence; knew that her better part remained with
him, that

" Her heart was never away,
But ever with his forever."

The coach was waiting; and, without delay, Kath-
erine returned with Mrs. Gordon to her lodgings.
Both were silent on the journey. When a great
event has taken place, only the shallow and unfeel-
ing chatter about it. Katherine's heart was full,
even to solemnity; and Mrs. Gordon, whose affecta-
tion of fashionable levity was in a large measure
pretence, had a kind and sensible nature, and she
watched the quiet girl by her side with decided ap-
proval. "She may not be in the mode, but she is



112 THE BOW OF ORANGE RIBBON.

neither silly nor heartless," she decided; "and as
for loving foolishly my poor, delightful Dick, why,
any girl may be excused the folly."

Upon leaving the coach at Mrs. Gordon's, Kath-
arine went to an inner room to resume her own
dress. The India silk lay across a chair; and she
took off, folded with her accustomed neatness, the
elegant suit she had worn. As she did so, she be-
came sensible of a singular liking for it; and, when
Mrs. Gordon entered the room, she said to her,
" Madam, very much I desire this suit: it is my
wedding-gown. "Will you save it for me? Some
day I may wear it again, when Eichard is well."

"Indeed, Katherine, that is a womanly thought;
it does you avast deal of credit; and, upon my
word, you shall have the gown. I shall be put to
straits without it, to out-dress Miss Betty Lawson ;
but never mind, I have a few decent gowns beside
it."

"Kichard, too, he will like it? You think so,
madam ? "

" My dear, don't begin to quote Richard to me. I
shall be impatient if you do. I assure you I have
never considered him a prodigy." Then, kissing
her fondly, "Madam Katherine Hyde, my entire
service to"yu- Pray be sure I shall give your hus-
band my best concern. And now I think you can
walk out of the door without mucn notice: there is
a crowd on the street, and every one is busy about
their own appearance or affairs."

" The time, madam ? What is the hour? "

"Indeed, I think it is much after four o'clock.
Half an hour hence, you will have to bring out your
excuses. I shall wish for a little devil at your
elbow to help them out. Indeed, I am vastly
troubled for you."

" Her excuses" Katherine had not suffered herself
to consider. She could not bear to shadow the
present with the future. She had, indeed, a happy
faculty of leaving her emergencies to take care of
themselves; and perhaps wiser people than Kath-
erine might, with advantage, trust less to their own



THE BOW OF OEANGE RIBBON. 113

planning and foresight, and more to that inscrutable
power which we call chance, but which so often ar-
ranges favorably the events apparently very unfav-
orable. For, at the best, foresight has but probabil-
ities to work with ; but chance, whose tools we know
not, very often contradicts all our bad prophecies,
and untangles untoward events far beyond our best
prudence or wisdom. And Katherine was so happy.
She was really Kichard's wife; and on that solid
vantage-ground she felt able to beat off trouble, and
to defend her own and his rights.

"So much better you look, Katherine," said
Madam Van Heemskirk. " Where have you been
all the day ? And did you see Mary Blankaart ?
And the money, is it found yet? "

The family were at the supper-table; and Joris
looked kindly at his truant daughter, and motioned
to the vacant chair at his side. She slipped into it,


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe bow of orange ribbon; a romance of New York → online text (page 9 of 20)